Dumb Watch: Dark on @Netflix #netflix #GoodWatch

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The next time some website says, “This is the best show on Netflix that no one is watching,” I’m going to assume there’s a good reason no one is watching it, and I’m not going to watch it. Last week, I learned that lesson the hard way. Dark (2017) was dumb. It tried to be smart, but failed miserably.

The show centers on a science fiction premise, and I understand that science, law, medicine, etc. always come in a distant second to drama. House M.D. was not medically accurate but still a good show. Armageddon was not good science, but I enjoyed it for the action movie it was. Even shows about the law don’t bug me; I just laugh it off. I’m cool with all that. That said, you shouldn’t throw around catch phrases like “the God particle” without any grounding in what they actually are. The end relies on a trope I see as a great big cheat, but I won’t link to prior posts on the subject. That would be a spoiler for those brave and patient enough to watch this.

A larger issue is that the dialogue is just terrible. I understand that something may be lost in the translation from German to English, and if that’s all it is, fine. It still sucks. But I don’t think that’s what it is. It seems that every other line is someone asking, “What are you saying?” They don’t even change up the wording, such as, “What are you talking about?” It’s always, “What are you saying?” Over and over and over again. It never seems to stop.

The second dialogue-related issue is that people never answer questions. The first person will say, “What’s going on?” or something like that, and the second person will respond, “I have to leave now.” On multiple occasions, this conversation occurs even though the second person just arrived at the location in order to have the conversation. They’re there for the sole purpose of communicating a message, and then they refuse to do so. Again, this happens over and over again. It’s maddening.

The acting is also, for the most part, intolerable. Yelling at people and long, awkward pauses don’t create drama. They must be justified by drama the script has already created. These writers don’t seem to get that. Regarding the awkward pauses, it was yet another way characters avoided answering questions. A lot of time was devoted to one person staring at the other while getting yelled at to answer the question or tell them what’s going on. This could much more easily be blamed on the translation or the screenwriters, so I’ll give the actors the benefit of the doubt and assume that’s the cause. It still sucks. The 10-year-old who played the deaf girl was adorable, so it’s got that going for it. Not much else.

Where have I seen such makeup before? Oh yeah! A dumb movie from 1989.

But take all that with a grain of salt. It has great scores on Rotten Tomatoes. My only assumption is that you’ve all lost your minds. (Metacritic doesn’t seem to have an entry.) If you do watch it, just make sure to take note of who’s related to whom and how. Try to remember which kids belong to which parents, and, of course, who is who’s sibling.

Really dumb.

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Olney, MD #home #childhood #olney

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I consider Olney, MD to be my home town, having lived there from 1977 to 1989, and then in nearby Brookeville, MD until 1993. This spans the middle of 4th grade through the start of my professional life after graduation from the University of Maryland (Go Terps!!!). For no particular reason, I found myself looking at it via Google Maps.

Other than a handful of businesses I could count on one hand — e.g., Safeway, the public library, a gas station, and the Olney Theatre — little from childhood remains. If I went back with the intent of visiting my old “stomping grounds,” there’d be nothing there of interest (other than Olney Theatre). My house and elementary school look largely the same, but my frequent eateries Jerry’s Subs & Pizza, Cuckoo’s Nest, Delly Nelly, Highs, Pizza Oven, and Pizza Hut are all long gone. Even the banks are different (one exception), and my middle school burned down. So, I scanned over Ashton, which is eight miles away but a place I frequented after the move to Brookeville. I don’t recognize most of what’s there either.

This is not, of course, a shock. I’ve visited in the last five years or so and noticed many of these changes, and I moved out of there almost 30 years ago. It’s just jarring that it’s so different. Considering how unrecognizable it is, I may as well not even have lived there.

Getting old sucks.

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Indra and Airavata #MythologyMonday #MythologyMonandæg #folklore #India

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Today’s Dictionary.com word of the day is vajra, which is a thunderbolt of Indra. It seemed appropriate to provide you with a video describing Indra, who in the 1st Edition Dungeons & Dragons world is the chief of the Indian pantheon. Here’s a video about him.

I know that a lot of you have short attention spans, so here’s another one that’s only 3 minutes long.

One thing that’s important to note is that there are people that still practice this faith even today. When I was in 7th grade, I had a friend named Shashank. He was Hindu, and I showed him the entries for the Indian pantheon in Deities & Demigods. The only thing I remember him saying from 42 years ago was that Indra’s elephant, Airavata, was known for its trunk, which it wielded as a formidable weapon. The legends of which I’m aware state that Airavata has seven trunks, and he most notably used it to “reach down to the watery underworld, suck up the water, and spray it into the clouds. Indra then caused cool water to rain down, thereby linking the waters of the sky to those of the underworld.” Hinduism is a large religion, which means the stories can easily change from person to person. There’s no right answer, as often legends are essentially fan fiction spanning generations.

In any case, Shashank displayed took pride in the entries, not offense. Not everyone would have the same reaction. To me, mythology is nothing more than an anthropological study, so I take the same approach to Christianity, Judaism, Islam, etc. as I do any religion generally considered, “mythology.” If it makes you feel better, I find the “mythologies” far cooler.

Tread lightly when discussing others’ religions.

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Nostalgic Watch: The Americans @MatthewRhys @HollyTaylor97 @CostaRonin @TheAmericansFX @hulu @RoysRestaurants #TheAmericans

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I’ve been binging The Americans on Hulu (FX Network). I had never seen a single episode before I started but had heard good things. I knew the premise: Soviet spies operating in America at the start of the Reagan administration. When the current young guns talk about their time in the war, they’re talking about Viet Nam, not Desert Storm. When the older crowd is talking about fighting the Nazis, they mean fighting actual Nazis in World War II. I admit that it drags at times, and it relies on the far too frequently used trope of emotional idiots making huge mistakes to create the needed drama. The latter is especially frustrating considering that it unnecessary in a show where the anti-heroes are being chased by the FBI and CIA. However, it’s a good show overall with a solid cast of actors, some of whom are new to me. The first five seasons have 13 episodes each, and the sixth has 10 episodes. They do a good job of demonstrating how most spies are recruited; most aren’t government workers. Each episode is about 45 minutes, but with a Chrome extension that allows me to speed up the episodes to 1.25x speed, I’m blazing through it.

I love period pieces because of the music and current events that they work into the script, some worth remembering, and some worth forgetting, but this one is particularly special to me. It takes place in the Washington, DC area, and the creators did a remarkable amount of research (perhaps because they grew up there as well). They get a lot of small details correct, from long gone television commercials playing in the background to various restaurants. The spies live in in Falls Church, Virginia, and though I didn’t move to Northern Virginia until 2000, I grew up in nearby Montgomery County, Maryland. I know all of the areas portrayed. As a recent graduate of the University of Maryland in the 90s, I started spending my weekends bar hopping in downtown DC and Northern Virginia. Honestly, the night life in Montgomery County was atrocious around that time, so the spots the show visits are where I hung out. I hope they visit the “Exorcist Stairs” before the show ends. I urinated down them when I was a stupid, young adult who had a lot too much to drink. It’s not an uncommon thing to do, though I doubt you’ll find mention of it on many websites.

Early this morning, I watched an episode entitled “A Roy Rogers in Franconia.” For those of you from the western United States that have a special place in your heart for In-n-Out, Roy Rogers is my burger joint that I like more than I should due to nostalgia, but with a menu that went far beyond burgers. When I finally moved to Northern Virginia, it was near Franconia, so I visited that Manchester Lakes Roy Rogers more times than I could possibly count. The last episode I watched before this post went live is called Lotus 1-2-3. I forgot that software existed. It was released when I was in high school but was already losing the war against MS Excel and Borland’s Quattro Pro by the time I was out of college and working as a software engineer.

Watching the show really brings me back to several times in my life, from childhood to recent college graduate to recent law school graduate, even though much of that time occurred long after the period in which The Americans is based.

As always, YMMV.

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