Category Archives: Entertainment

NC Headphones Vs The Laugh Track

If there’s a special place in Hell, I hope it’s reserved for whoever invented the TV sitcom laugh track. It’s specially designed to cut right through all of the background noise that might be around you as you watch, very subtle, almost unnoticeable, ever present.

Until you have it pointed out to you.

Until you’re listening to it from a TV down the hall and trying to think and you can hear none of the “jokes,” none of the dialog, just a mush that sounds a lot like Charlie Brown’s teacher – except for the laugh track, slicing through reality like a prop from a horror movie (what was that spinning ball with the blades that popped out?) headed straight for your ears like a cruise missile.

And then, once you’re aware, sort of like Rowdy Roddy Piper in “They Live,” you’ll never watch a sitcom in peace again. Whether you’re out of bubble gum or not.

Consider this – have you EVER seen a movie with a laugh track? Think of movies you find hilarious. “Animal House” maybe. “Ferris Beuller’s Day Off.” Is there any kind of laugh track to make sure you know which bits are supposed to be funny?

It’s a war now.

Then I discovered Noise Cancelling Headphones.

There just might be a God.

Not only do you get tunes, but the laugh track goes away. It’s blissful. If it’s a war, this is the nuclear option.

The good ones are not cheap, but they’re worth every penny. The Apple iPods are in the $100 range and work okay, if you can keep them in your ears. (I can’t.) The top of the line Bose headphones are about $550, but worth every cent.

Wearing them all night might not be the most comfortable thing when it’s warm and muggy, but take them off for a second, listen to the cackling demon chorus hooting at something that’s not very funny to begin with, and you’ll be surprised how fast you can put them back on and be perfectly happy with the choice.

Thank you for listening to my TED Talk!

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Filed under Entertainment, Music

Play #5 For This Season

And the Ahmanson already has banners up for next year’s season. “2:22,” which is some kind of supernatural thriller. “Ain’t Too Proud,” which will have great music. “1776,” which is currently on Broadway and one of my all-time favorites.

Tonight we have drizzle, and the legal vax & mask requirements have been relaxed (idiot politicians!) but we’ll be masked up anyway. It’s a policy that got us through two plane trips, Worldcon, lots of sightseeing and restaurants in Chicago, and still with negative COVID test results.

Are any of you getting out to do anything fun this weekend? Tell me in the comments!

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Filed under Entertainment, Los Angeles

The Sandman

Watch it. Now. Immediately. Then watch it again.

Unless you’ve been in a coma, you’ve probably heard of a new Netflix series, “The Sandman,” which is based on Neil Gaiman’s classic graphic novels of the same name.

Watch it.

We finished the first season tonight, it’s utterly spectacular.

Once you’ve watched it, watch it again. You’ll be catching yourself saying, “Wait, was that…? Is she the same person as…?” It ties together SOOOOO well, the casting is perfect, it’s so incredibly well acted, the visuals are so astonishing – amazing work all around.

No spoilers, just trust me. And if you can make it through Episode Six with dry eyes, we probably can’t be friends.

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Filed under Entertainment, Photography, Sunsets

Another Saturday Night, Another Play At The Ahmanson

Tonight we get “Dear Evan Hansen.”

“Oklahoma” is for September at the end of the season. “Prom” is next month.

Gotta admit, these theater & concert subscriptions are pretty cool!

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Summer At The Theatre

All this week we were getting warnings about the heat wave coming.

Okay, maybe. But it’s either not here yet or it missed us completely. We’re at the Ahmanson again tonight (“Come From Away” tonight, really looking forward to it) and out here on the plaza having dinner before the show I’m freezing my ass off!

It’s 64° and breezy, which is fine if I’m dressed for 64° and breezy, but if I’m dressed for 85° or 90°, not so much.

Stay warm, enjoy your Saturday night folks!

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Filed under Entertainment, Los Angeles, Weather

Long Weekend

It’s a three-day, holiday weekend in the US, but I’m not sure that has anything to do with the stars aligning and loading up the social calendar. Maybe. I don’t know. I think that’s well above my pay grade.

Last night we were back at the Ahmanson Theatre, this time for “Hadestown.”

Utterly spectacular! From the first words out of Hermes’ mouth to the last toast to Orpheus, I was totally enraptured. It was an absolute delight.

(Panorama – click to see full sized.)

This afternoon we went down to the sea in Redondo Beach to meet friends for lunch.

I only had a few minutes before lunch to wander around the marina with camera in hand, looking for the storks, seagulls, pelicans, and harbor seals that I could see and hear off in the distance. I didn’t really find them. But there were boats. LOTS of boats.

Holes in the water that you pour money into.

But cheaper than planes. (But planes are better and worth it!)

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Filed under Entertainment, Los Angeles, Panorama, Photography

“Everything Everywhere All At Once”

We went to the movies today. What a concept!

I had heard a lot of word of mouth about this film. It premiered at Cannes to rave reviews, and now that it’s in at least limited release in the US I had seen social media posts from dozens of folks whose opinions I respect, all singing its praises. The thing that sort of buzz reminds me of is the early, early days of the release of “Star Wars.”

It’s playing locally, and we had free passes from the whole “Dune” debacle back in February where our showing got cancelled on the final night of its run and they gave us free passes (and a refund) as an apology of sorts. That left just the whole COVID thing to worry about. We took our chances. (The theater was about half full, we were fully masked and vaxxed, and maybe 2/3 of the other folks in the theater appeared to be masked.)

I’m not going to tell you a single thing about the plot or the premise or what happens, and I urge you to not go looking for spoilers or even reviews and details. It will be so much better if you simply go in without preconceptions or expectations, buckle up, and…

GO SEE “EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE” ASAP!!!

It is without a doubt the most bizarre movie I’ve ever seen. Even telling what other movies I might mention in comparison in terms of “bizarre-ness” might be telling too much, but “Being John Malkovich” and “Scott Pilgrim vs the World” just got bumped from the top of that list.

I will tell you that the acting is spectacular! Put Michelle Yeoh’s name on the Best Actress ballot right now, and Stephanie Hsu’s name on the Best Supporting Actress ballot. No “penciling in” anything – use a Sharpie, one of those big, fat ones.

The execution and production? Astonishing. There’s SO much going on all the time, I’m sure I missed a million tiny details and I can’t wait to see it again and get a copy so I can go through it slowly. This is a masterpiece.

One person I follow on social media said (paraphrased), “I just saw it and I can’t drive home, I’m just overwhelmed. I need to sit here and drink coffee for a couple hours to let it settle.” Yeah, I get it.

Try to see it while it’s in the theaters, it’s so worth it.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

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Filed under Entertainment, Movies

East, West, And In Between

At the east end along Grand, the LA Cathedral.

At the west end, the Disney Concert Hall.

In between, our destination for tonight, The Music Center.

We’re seeing “The Leman Trilogy.” I have no clue about what to expect. It will be fun.

(And yes, those people in the panorama looked JUST LIKE THAT! It’s LA…)

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Filed under Entertainment, Los Angeles, Panorama, Photography

What’s Wrong With These Pictures?

Something I’ve mentioned in the past is having a secondary monitor or two on my home office computer setup and liking live webcam feeds running on them when I’m not using them. Hummingbirds, jellyfish, volcanoes, Venice, whatever.

Lately I’ve been watching a LOT of feeds from Virtual Railfan cameras, set up in train stations and train museums all over the country and just watching the freight trains and Amtrak passing by. For example, tonight:

(Image from Virtual Railfan)

My favorite site, Fort Madison, Iowa. LOTS of trains, plus the swing bridge over the Mississippi River. Plus the river, and wildlife, and birds.

(Image from Virtual Railfan)

Kearney, Nebraska. Lots of long, fast freight trains passing through every day.

(Image from Virtual Railfan)

Quincy, Illinois. I actually spent a lot of time in Quincy as a kid, my parents had good friends there from college and we would go visit them a couple times a year.

All of these images were captured tonight, either just before or just after midnight local time. Essentially, all on March 31st.

What’s wrong with these pictures?

The end of March. Places in the part of the country where I grew up. And it never, EVER was snowing heavily at the end of March.

Meanwhile, it was 70°F above normal in Antarctica this week.

Meanwhile, there were brush fires this week in Colorado and California, where we now have 12-month fire seasons.

Meanwhile, there were massive tornado outbreaks across the south, Texas and New Orleans, last week, months earlier than normal.

Good thing that climate change is all fake, huh?! Otherwise we might just be in some deep shit!

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Filed under Entertainment, Weather

Thinking About The Brothers K Tonight

Busy, as always, sometimes busier than busy, and at times by habit, skill (unlikely), or necessity, I get into that groove and just start grinding through things that need to get done ASAP. As noted before at times here, it’s akin in many ways to running, especially long distances such as a marathon. I truly wish I could invoke that mental state at will, but that’s another discussion.

When “in the groove” some part of my mind tends to wander while the more basic part is getting the job done. As Crash Davis said to Ebby Calvin ‘Nuke’ LaLoosh, “Don’t think – it can only hurt the ball club.” (Totally irrelevant side note – is anyone keeping track of how many times I’ve quoted that and linked to this clip?)

Tonight my thoughts turned to juggling. Juggling in turn took my thoughts to The Flying Karamazov Brothers, who I think are truly astonishing and who I first saw (I think) doing the halftime entertainment at the Westercon masquerade in 1979. (Maybe 1980?) That in turn made me wonder – are they still around?

THEY ARE!

Not doing much touring (it’s almost like there’s been a raging pandemic that’s seriously restricted travel and in-person gatherings for the last couple of years), but they do have at least one upcoming show scheduled for June and with luck they’ll be out touring soon.

Simple advice – watch their videos online, be entertained, learn to love them, and if you ever get a chance to see them live, take it!

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Filed under Entertainment, Fandom