Classic Watch: The Nightmare Before Christmas @disneyplus #ClassicWatch #DisneyPlus

If you enjoy this post, please retweet it.

My Classic Movies category is reserved for movies like Citizen Kane and Casablanca, but I couldn’t help but include this movie in that series. It’s only 27 years old, but it’s a movie that everyone told me is a “must-watch.” Thought I enjoyed it, and it’s probably as good as any Halloween movie for viewing during that holiday season, I wouldn’t place it in that category. As with many movies, this one may have earned its reputation based on nostalgia rather than filmmaking technique.

Or not. Maybe it simply didn’t trigger things in me that it does in most others.

Even if you also merely like it, it’s short, fun, and thematic, so it’s not a bad watch at all. As always, YMMV.

Follow me on Twitter @gsllc
Follow Disney Plus @disneyplus

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm @SachaBaronCohen #Borat

If you enjoy this post, please retweet it.

Sundays are now lazy days for me. Going forward, I’m just going to re-post other people’s work or just do something silly. Today, it’s the trailer for the upcoming Borat sequel. I loved the first movie. I bet this will be great but am holding fast. I’m not going to purchase yet another streaming service, so I may not see it for a long time.

Follow me on Twitter @gsllc
Follow Sacha Baron Cohen @SachaBaronCohen

Good Watch: Schitt’s Creek @danjlevy @Realeugenelevy @annefrances @emilyhampshire @sarahlevy_ @DustinWMilligan @SchittsCreek #GoodWatch #pandemic #SouthPark

If you enjoy this post, please retweet it.

All six seasons of Schitt’s Creek are now on Netflix. Apparently, despite flying under the radar for its first four seasons, this show did well at the 2019 Emmys and absolutely cleaned house 2020. I can explain why.

The show has been hit or miss. Very uneven. It had times when it was brilliant and times when it fell flat, often in close proximity. However, one thing I’ve often said about the show is that they knew how to wrap up a season, bringing all the story lines together in fun(ny) and satisfying way. All shows do that, but Schitt’s Creek is one of the best at it. So, each season finale was brilliant. Looking at the bigger picture, season six had the same effect, wrapping up the story of the Rose family with 14 solid episodes that collectively were head and shoulders above the prior season.

The cast had a lot to do with this. It includes two comedy legends, Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara, and one person who should’ve been, Chris Elliott. However, by season six, Eugene’s real-life and in-character son, Daniel, really stole the show. I’m sure Eugene is more than happy to have been upstaged by his son. The other cast members? Perhaps not so much. 🙂 But most of them did a great job.

The only thing I didn’t like was that Moira (Catherine O’Hara) didn’t grow. She stayed the same, conceited, spoiled brat she was from the start. The purpose was to provide comedy relief and remind us where the show started. Ultimately, that annoyed me a bit, but it was easy to ignore.

This was a really good show and ended at precisely the correct time. As always, YMMV.

Follow me on Twitter @gsllc
Follow Dan Levy @danjlevy
Follow Eugene Levy @Realeugenelevy
Follow Annie Murphy @annefrances
Follow Emily Hampshire @emilyhampshire
Follow Sarah Levy @sarahlevy_
Follow Dustin Milligan @DustinWMilligan
Follow Schitt’s Creek @SchittsCreek

Shark Jumping Watch: The South Park Pandemic Special @SouthPark #GoodWatch #pandemic #SouthPark

If you enjoy this post, please retweet it.

I haven’t been watching South Park lately. Considering how much I love the show and how much I’m streaming, I can’t explain why. I just haven’t. Then I saw someone on Facebook say that he was purposefully avoiding the pandemic special (why?). I had no idea it existed, and now that I do, I decided to watch it.

I never thought I’d say this, but South Park has jumped the shark. I used to laugh out loud watching that show. I’m 100% okay with over-the-top humor, but this special just wasn’t funny. The only good commentary was on a topic other than the pandemic.

As always, YMMV.

Follow me on Twitter @gsllc
Follow South Park @SouthPark

“We Know Already” Watch: The Social Dilemma @netflix @kesseljunkie #GoodWatch

If you enjoy this post, please retweet it.

I want to say that this was a waste of time, but I can’t. It’s too important not to be given an occasional reminder.

This 94-minute documentary (with occasional, annoying dramatizations) is about how social media is impacting our lives. Yeah, we all know it, but we can’t help but succumb to it. And that’s point #1. It resembles an addiction, but it’s really about preying on our very nature.

Point #2 is that it’s taken the internet and made it even more divisive. It’s not that we haven’t had serious disagreements with each other. Anyone that’s lived outside their bubble knows that. It’s that we’re now being exposed to those differing viewpoints seemingly continuously, and in a way that makes the speakers feel as if they’re anonymous, even when they clearly aren’t. In other words, we’re hearing a lot more about the way people really feel about issues, and we often disagree.

Kessel Junkie and I discussed this a little bit in the comments on his blog. Trigger warning: He hates the Goonies.

Speaking of “disagree,” Facebook issued a weak response.

I think it’s healthy to be reminded of these effects every now and then, and 94 minutes isn’t a lot of time to invest. As always, YMMV.

Follow me on Twitter @gsllc
Follow Netflix @Netflix

My Recent Car Buying Experience @Kia #Kia #car

If you enjoy this post, please retweet it.

I don’t make money from this blog, so I don’t really lose anything by giving away the punchline early. Doing your research is critical when buying a car. In fact, it’s so important that this will be a longer post than I like to write.

Some History

The first time I acquired a car with my own money was 1993, and I leased a Ford Escort LX. The LX stands for luxury! For its time, it was surprisingly modern and completely tricked out. I know; “tricked out Escort” doesn’t compute, but it had all the bells and whistles of the day, and both the cabin and the trunk were incredibly spacious. After three years, I decided to keep the car, which I drove until I gave it to a family member in 2002. Since then, every car I drove has been used and at least five years behind the curve.

This suited me just fine, because cars for me have been a “point A to point B” tool and nothing more. Moreover, conventional wisdom has always been that buying new was a waste of money. Two things changed my mind this time around.

First, the car I just traded in. It was purchased at CarMax in 2018. I did so without doing my research and wound with a 2009 Nissan Versa with 29,000 miles on it. This is a surprisingly low amount of mileage for a 9-year-old car, but it’s a lot more than 4 miles. Moreover, it turns out that for $1,000 more I could have bought a 2018 Versa at a dealership. In short, CarMax charges way too much for their vehicles. I’ll provide more data for that assertion in a moment.

Second, someone once told me (via Facebook) that he almost always buys new cars because you never know how the prior owner drove it. I was two out of four in this regard. The Grand Marquis was my grandmother’s car, and my Mustang was driven by someone who was highly unlikely to have mistreated it. Those cars did okay. Despite Nissan’s reputation for reliability, the Altima was a money pit. As for the Versa, within two months, I had to replace the struts, breaks, rear window, mid-pipe (part of the exhaust system), and catalytic converter, none of which was covered by their warranty they talked me into. Fortunately, much of that occurred within a month of purchase (requiring them to fix it), and the rest was fixed at no charge after blowing off a lot of steam at CarMax headquarters. They made all of those repairs, which is great, but only because their profit margin vastly exceeded those amounts. Moreover, the point remains that the car must have been mistreated by the prior owner for it to have so much wrong with it after only 29,000 miles.

Present Day

When I decided it was time for another car, I decided that it would be new. I also wanted something fun. I instantly thought of the only car I ever really wanted: The Jeep Wrangler. Why purchase an overpriced Wrangler with a bad reputation for reliability? Because it’s a Jeep Wrangler, dammit! That said, I’m not doing it out of necessity and desperation. I’m not doing it because of a midlife crisis. Accordingly, I asked the Facebook and Twitter hiveminds for their opinions. My social network is apparently representative of the internet at large because the opinions I got were all over the place.

Still, it was both appreciated and helpful. One particular thing that helped was going to Edmunds. They have a rating system for almost all the cars I considered. I also took some online quizzes to try to match me with what I wanted. All of these led me to some SUV/crossovers and sedans, and in particular those with a high reliability rating. The only two deal-breakers were reliability and all-wheel drive (AWD). As long as a car had those two things, I was willing to look at it.

Toyota

On Saturday, I visited a Toyota dealership and test drove a 2020 Camry and a 2020 Rav4. The Rav4 wasn’t to my liking, which makes sense. I don’t need an SUV. The Camry was good, and with AWD and a lot of bells and whistles, I was looking at $31,763. This in turn led to a lease payment less than what I was voluntarily paying for my current shitbox. (I was paying an extra 70% or so every month to pay down the car debt.) With an Edmunds rating of 7.6, the 2020 Camry was the highest rated car among those anywhere near my price range (though there were a few with 7.8). Seems like a plan, right? But I held firm. I wanted a car that I’d consider fun, and the Camry didn’t feel fun. It was a good baseline, but I wanted at least one more stop. After all, I had two more weeks before I wanted to decide.

Kia

I thought to myself, “Why not a sports car?” I answered my own question: “Because they’re rear-wheel drive.” So I searched for AWD sports cars and found the Kia Stinger. I never even considered a Kia. It just wasn’t on my radar scope, but it had an Edmunds rating of 8.2. I had to give that a shot, so Sunday I went to a Kia dealer near where I work.

My salesman, Mike, led me away from the Stinger. Why get a relatively stripped down sports car, which would incur higher insurance premiums and property taxes, when you can get a sporty sedan with all the bells and whistles? I quickly looked up the K5 as I was getting in the showroom car, and it had an Edmunds rating of 8.3. Once again, Kia outdid everyone else, including themselves. So, instead of the sports car, I was looking at a fully loaded, sporty, fuel-efficient, reliable car that was highly rated, wouldn’t kill me on insurance and taxes, and yet was fun to drive. Also, it was $30,313, which is about $1,450 less expensive than then inferior Camry.

Review

Don’t try this at home. I’ll try it for you.

It’s tough for me to review cars because I largely don’t care (or at least didn’t). I had an instant attraction to the car but didn’t know even half the features it had because I just ignored everything they told me once I knew my few concerns were met. I was absolutely floored when Jose went over its features with me post sale.

I feel like I’m in an episode of Star Trek.

This thing has four warp nacelles!

This car must have phasers. Every single optional feature for this model is included with my car. It’s the only up-to-date car I’ve driven since 1993, and it’s a lot of fun, but let’s start with some serious stuff. It shows me how bad a driver I am. I apparently drift to far to the right, which is a problem with a bigger car. Whenever that happens, I hear a ding and the steering wheel gently encourages me to lean a little to the left. I always knew I was a terrible parker, but that rear camera with virtual guides makes me as good as anyone. I backed into a space at the gym just to test it, and I was perfect. Seriously, that’s a big deal for me. When I’m stopped a light, I can let go of the brake, but the car won’t move. “Auto-hold” keeps your can motionless until you step on the gas. So, if you’re dozing off while stopped at a light, you won’t slowly roll into the car ahead of you or the intersection itself. That’s only happened to me once in my life (with harmless results), but whatever your weaknesses are as a driver, these safety features will help and keep your insurance premiums down.

The integration with my phone is fantastic. No more phone mounts for me! I can set my car to turn on automatically on any day of the week I choose, immediately turning on the heated steering wheel, heated seats, and climate control so that the car is comfortable by the time I get in it. When I would drive my mother’s Jeep Cherokee in the middle of summer, I loved to turn on the seat heaters and surprise the other occupant. I need to give people some rides.

Everything is controlled via the steering wheel, and by the end of my trip home, I already had the hang of it. Surprisingly, the one thing I couldn’t remember how to do, or figure out, was cruise control. I’ll have to get on that.

I went with all the post-decision add-ons that they try to sell you after making the deal. This makes an ordinary warranty (CarMax MaxCare for example) look like a waste of money. For the next three years, I can get all my maintenance done free of charge by having it done at a Kia dealership. As I said, this Kia is down the street from where I work. Easy-peasy.

I want to take a road trip.

Summary

No, this isn’t a sports car.

Could I have visited a third or fourth dealer and run some more test drives? Yes. Would I have found a better car? Maybe. There could be a Mazda out there that would have been a tiny bit better, but that doesn’t bother me. There’s only so much time I had to research, so if I’ve done a reasonable amount of research and found a car that really works for me, then there’s no more I can ask of myself.

Of course, I’m not saying the Kia K5 is for you. That depends on your budget and the feature you need. The point is that, based on all the relevant factors, it’s for me, and I didn’t know it existed until Mike suggested it to me at the Kia dealership. No matter how much pressure you’re under, from either salesmen or your circumstances, try not to buy until you’re ready, and only after doing your research. Also, make sure Kia is part of that research. My experience shows that, within its class, a Kia likely has a higher Endmunds rating than its equivalent for another make of car. I didn’t look at all of their cars, but I looked at a good number of them. My last point is that you should expect to hear a lot of contradictory advice, but listen to your friends’ explanations. Within all that noise is some very useful information.

The only test left is whether it’ll break down in a month or two. It doesn’t matter! They’ll fix it, or Virginia’s Lemon Law (in particular § 59.1-207.13) will require them to replace it!

But I’m not worried about any of that. I really want to go on a road trip. Freaking pandemic.

Follow me on Twitter @gsllc
Follow Kia @Kia

Re-envisioned Watch: Blumhouse’s Fantasy Island Remake @Fantasy_Island @blumhouse @lucyhale @MaggieQ @PortiaDd @HiRyanHansen @STARZ #GoodWatch #FantasyIsland #Blumhouse

If you enjoy this post, please retweet it.

I generally hate horror movies, but I liked this one.

I’ve had a decent string of luck on horror movies lately (with one noticeable exception). It’s a genre I never particularly liked. The writing is lazy, having the plot moved along by enormously stupid actions of the characters, which to some extent lessens the impact of the villain. I also don’t like it when a character with no supernatural abilities exhibits unrealistic resilience. Tell me the bad guy is a vampire, and I’ll suspend disbelief and watch it, especially if you give me anything at all to help with that suspension. Tell me he’s just really crazy, and it’ll bug me when he’s stabbed in the neck and keeps going. It’s so easy to write around this nonsense, but horror writers simply don’t.

Fantasy Island is the kind of horror movie I liked. It doesn’t suffer from the above, and the script neatly ties everything competing story lines together. Besides, Michael Pena can do no wrong. Also, the last line in the movie is something we should have all seen coming, but I didn’t. 🙂

As always, YMMV.

Follow me on Twitter @gsllc
Follow the Fantasy Island movie @Fantasy_Island
Follow Blumhouse @blumhouse
Follow Lucy Hale @lucyhale
Follow Maggie Q @MaggieQ
Follow Austin Stowell @austinstowell
Follow Portia Doubleday @PortiaDd
Follow Ryan Hansen @HiRyanHansen
Follow STARZ @STARZ

Sadly, Jimmy O. Yang recently deleted his Twitter account. I assume he’s another casualty of social media bullshit.

Mr. Rourke Had a Fantasy Too @StarTrek #StarTrek #FantasyIsland

If you enjoy this post, please retweet it.

Sundays are now lazy days for me. Going forward, I’m just going to re-post other people’s work or just do something silly. Today, it’s a preview for tomorrow’s post. You see, Mr. Rourke had a fantasy too.

Please. It’s Kirk. Even Mr. Rourke couldn’t pull off that feat.

Follow me on Twitter @gsllc
Follow Star Trek @StarTrek

Boring Watch: Raised by Wolves @hbomax #GoodWatch

If you enjoy this post, please retweet it.

Normally I like science fiction. These are not normal times.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t equate this show with the horrors of 2020; I just thought it was a funny line. Raised by Wolves just bored me. It comes across as a show made by people that think they’re owed allegiance to their “masterpiece” because they take it seriously in an artsy-fartsy kind of way. Every episode I watched felt like people were whining in hushed tones, passively-aggressively obliging me to cheer them up. I wasn’t able to make it through episode 7 and don’t care how it ends.

My opinion isn’t a popular one, so as always, YMMV.

Follow me on Twitter @gsllc
Follow HBO Max @hbomax