Star Wars origin story for Grand Admiral Thrawn is as wonderful as I hoped

Thrawn begins the backstory of Grand Admiral Thrawn, perhaps the most fearsome non-Force user in the Empire.

Timothy Zahn's Heir the the Empire series introduced Grand Admiral Thrawn. The blue-skinned, red-eyed, master of strategy and tactics inspired decades of speculation and debate.

Then Star Wars Rebels re-introduced Grand Admiral Thrawn as the super villain intended to crush the nascent Rebellion. I was thrilled. Sadly, Thrawn was kind of a doofus and not nearly as tough for the Rebels to get around as I'd hoped.

That said, Thrawn was still fascinating. A blue-skinned non-human who appears a peer with Darth Vader? I wanted to know more and luckily Timothy Zahn was brought back to flesh out the story.

Marooned on a deserted planet for simply suggesting a non-standard approach to solving his people's problems, Thrawn is discovered by the Empire. The blue-skinned alien who outwits dozens of Imperial Troopers is taken to Coruscant to meet the Emperor and enlisted to help subdue the dangers of the Outer-Rim.

This adventure is a fantastic story, but learning Thrawn's motivations and backstory have set me down the path of reading the entire trilogy.

Thrawn (Star Wars) by Timothy Zahn via Amazon Read the rest

LA Magazine wrote an entire article on how cool Souplantation is

I do remember eating at Souplantation when I lived in LA. Buffets were soul-less and scary unless they were at an Indian food restaurant where they became pretty hilarious. All you can eat and drink sushi was awesome.

LA Magazine sure makes Souplantation sound like a buffet-style restaurant to me.

LA Magazine:

Since its founding by a surfer in 1978, Souplantation has survived bankruptcy, an e-coli outbreak, and food-stealing customers. The restaurant is treated like a punchline on social media, but certain locations—like the one at Beverly Connection which, until recently, featured a quote from Fran Lebowitz on its walls—seem to be thriving.

“It doesn’t have a bleak Sizzler vibe,” says Bethany Cosentino, one-half of the band Best Coast. “It’s its own mood and its own thing, and the pure joy it brings me can never ever be replaced by any other salad bar—not even the Whole Foods one.”

Some still can’t get over the name. Search Twitter for “Souplantation” and the results are a mix of pop culture GIFs and bafflement that a restaurant in 2019 would want to associate boiling liquids and broccoli dishes with the history of slavery. (Throughout most of the country, the chain is called Sweet Tomatoes.)

The Smorgasbord at the Magic Castle was one of the scariest things I've ever seen. Read the rest

SGeek goes nuts for Audeze Mobius headphones

I recently received a pair of Audeze Mobius to review and I have to agree with Lisabel's "HOLY SHIT!"

I am too new with these cans to give them a thorough review but my initial impression is that Audeze has figured out how to make their incredible planar magnetic headphone technology accessible to folks for an all-in price of around $400.

Typically, if you dive into the world of high-end audiophile headphones you are going to need a DAC and a specialized headphone amplifier in addition to cans. There is a lot of dickery about which headphones and what components sound best to whomever the hell is writing in an internet forum at this exact moment in time.

The Audeze Mobius have all the hardware built-in to the set of headphones!

You do not need to spend 1-2x more on components than you already did on headphones. You can take the Mobius out of the box, connect them via USB, Bluetooth or a 3.5mm jack to almost any source. You absolutely everything you need and can skip there "where is that one magic cable?" experience after spending $1000s on gear you can not connect.

While billed as "Gaming" headphones the Mobius are really much, much more than that. I am looking forward to a call with Audeze CEO Sankar Thiagasamudram sometime this week to start really diving into the functionality of the headset.

I was blown away with them in video games. Watching TV and movies are a whole new world where the audio is really evocative of a well-designed movie theater. Read the rest

I woke up my long refrigerated sourdough starter

Everyone I know is on a sourdough kick. My sister was talking some stuff she learned in a class, so I took these photos to show her what "waking up the starter" means to me.

When I took my starter out of the fridge and looked in the crock I saw a deep pool of hooch. It has been since Thanksgiving that I used it, and I may have put this batch in the fridge back in June or July 2018.

I take a heaping spoonful of the starter and...

...gently mix it with 1/2 cup of warm water and 1/2 cup of flour. Then I set it aside for 4 hours.

I feed the starter every 4 hrs when I am awake, until it is awake. When I sleep the yeast can sleep. Once I have 2 cups of starter in my bowl, I discard 1/2 and add 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 cup of flour again, maintaining the volume at around 2 cups. When the starter looks like this, it is ready to use.

I used the starter, baking a loaf of bread in my Dutch Oven.

Bread with butter, jam and cheese was yesterday's meal. Read the rest

Anthony Edwards stars in 1985's 'Gotcha!'

Even at age 13, I knew there was more to college than Gotcha!

This forgotten campus-game-turns-spy movie played endlessly on either Z Channel or as an HBO Feature Presentation. Gotcha! was supposed to be some madcap adventure, but really was just a guidebook on how to be a giant jerk. There was a time it was ALWAYS on.

I enjoyed the cat-and-mouse scenes and Fiorentino's accent. The sexist weird come-on bullshit serves as a how-not-to guide, especially the criminal assault the film finishes out on. Read the rest

Tesla's autopilot anti-collision software tested by attempting to hit wife

Akin to going hunting with Dick Cheney, this bad-idea-with-a-Tesla begs for catastrophe. Read the rest

I used Prague Powder to make corned beef

I've been experimenting with curing meat, cause life has been too long already. Prague Powder is the secret ingredient.

While I've tried a couple of different recipes for corned beef I am not ready to recommend one yet. Getting the spice blend right may be a thing of personal preference, but I have to keep working at it. Getting the texture and color right, however, was very simple. I used Anthony's Pink Curing Salt #1.

Curing Salts are not edible on their own. That is why they dye them pink. This is not Himalayan Pink Sea Salt or some other delicacy. Prague Powder (pink salt #1) is a nitrite that inhibits the growth of anaerobic bacteria, thus working to block toxin production and keep meat from spoiling. When added to a brine the curing salts help preserve the meat, and impart that red-pink corned beef color. You'll also find it used in those weird smoked turkey legs at Disneyland and other theme parks.

I'll keep working at it. We have a lot of fun baking rye bread to go along with this favorite.

Pink Curing Salt #1 (2lb Prague Powder) by Anthony's via Amazon Read the rest

Surreal on many levels, enjoy this commercial for spray-on maple syrup

From the culture that brought you Cheese-in-a-Can, it is The Maple Stream.

Not a Canadian superhero nor a trough urinal at Toronto's Oktoberfest celebration -- this is pressurized maple syrup lazily being hosed into the mouth of some sort of sportsball fan. Read the rest

Twistable snake reminds me of my childhood

Picking up one of these twistable snakes pretty much makes an hour disappear.

Instantly I immediately remembered how to make the soccer ball and the little terrier. I would never have known to consider these a 'fidget' toy way back in my single digit days, but these snakes kick the shit out of any fidget spinner.

Speed Cube Snake Ruler Cube Puzzle 3 Pack via Amazon Read the rest

Polish newspaper offers anti-semitic tirade "proving" Poland never did anything anti-semitic

The headline How to Spot a Jew graced Poland's right-wing national weekly newspaper Tylko Polska. Said headline was an angry response to a panel discussion of Poland's complicit citizenry during the Holocaust at a recent Paris conference.

Newsweek:

The anti-Semitic headline ran alongside the front page article complaining that speakers at last month’s Holocaust studies meeting in Paris had been attacking Poland. It was printed with a photo of Jan Gross, a Polish Jew who teaches at Princeton University.

Gross has regularly said that Poles collaborated with the Nazis during World War II, helping Adolf Hitler’s regime murder millions of their Jewish countrymen. He has become a favored target for Polish nationalists, who rail against any suggestion of Polish complicity in the genocide.

Gross was awarded the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland in 1996. However, in 2016, the nationalist Law and Justice government was reportedly considering stripping the scholar of the honor for what it considers his anti-Polish work.

The government has been accused of trying to rewrite history by banning any suggestion of Polish complicity in the Holocaust. Use of the phrase “Polish death camps” to refer to Nazi-run concentration camps like Auschwitz, for example, is now punishable by up to three years in prison.

Read the rest

Happy Pi Day

One for the olds and one for the kids.

I have not seen the new show yet, but a friend tells me it is great. Read the rest

Cheap sunglasses that evoke the King of Cool

These cheap sunglasses remind me of Steve McQueen's Persols.

I take a lot of fashion cues from the King of Cool. McQueen's signature sunglasses were the Persol 714 with blue lenses and damn if they aren't both cool, and expensive! These SUNGAIT glasses are not expensive, and they certainly share a lot of design elements.

The keyhole bridge and blue lenses were McQueen enough for me, but there is an 'amber' pair that looks pretty faux-tortoiseshell if you just gotta.

While these are glasses claim to only work for women, they work fine for all small to medium size faces regardless of gender. The materials are light, the frames are thin, the lenses claim to block UV.

SUNGAIT Vintage Round Sunglasses for Women Classic Retro Designer Style via Amazon Read the rest

Fortnite adds "the Baller" and shenanigans commence

The Baller looks like crazy fun! Can't wait to give this a t new vehicle a try. Somehow I think my party will need more than one try to get properly airborne.

Read the rest

Star Wars Trench Run LEGO set

For under $25 the X-Wing Fighter and Turbo Laser LEGO set is getting snapped together soon!

With Luke, R2 and Storm Trooper minifigs, this new smaller Star Wars kit is one of many I'll be picking up this year under the guise of "gift for my daughter."

LEGO Star Wars X-Wing Starfighter Trench Run 75235 4+ Building Kit , New 2019 (132 Pieces) via Amazon Read the rest

Fortnite forces console cross-play for Xbox One and PS4

Evidently, Xbox and PlayStation console players will now share a single competitive pool. PlayStation long resisted letting their units connect with players who had not offered fealty, but Fortnite is the great equalizer.

I play via Xbox.

Engadget:

For years, the idea of PlayStation 4 and Xbox One gamers teaming up and shooting enemies together was just a pipe dream. Walled gardens and exclusives meant picking a side and dealing with the consequences. However, thanks to the popularity of games like Fortnite, those multiplayer lobbies are now a much more accepting place. The battle royale shooter opened up last year, allowing players to find friends on other platforms and drop together. Now, Epic Games going one step further and automatically forcing PlayStation 4 and Xbox One players to fight one another every time they board the Battle Bus.

As part of Fortnite's 8.10 update, Epic has introduced crossplay matchmaking for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One player pools, as well as mobile and Nintendo Switch. Players must opt-in to play, and if they don't, they'll be limited to Creative Mode and Playgrounds. The company says it'll "unlock[..] optimization potential allowing us to run more playlists during more hours of the day."

Basically, by putting more people together, Epic says it can run more game modes because it can balance the player pools better.

And now you know Lucky Landing is my spot. Read the rest

Poll shows old white men lead the Democratic presidential race

According to a new poll, two old white guys with troubled records on everything from race, misogyny, and guns lead the Democratic party's list of potential Presidential candidates.

The Hill:

Former Vice President Joe Biden is leading the field of Democratic presidential candidates and likely candidates in Michigan, according to a new poll.

The Emerson College poll shows Biden leading the field with the backing of 40 percent of registered voters surveyed. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is a distant second, with 23 percent.

Biden has not yet announced a bid for the White House but is reportedly likely to enter the race.

Behind Biden and Sanders, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) received 12 percent of the vote and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) received 11 percent. No other candidates received more than 5 percent, the poll found.

If Biden does not jump into the race, respondents shift a large number of votes to Sanders, according to the poll. The poll shows that 42 percent of registered voters would back Sanders if Biden does not become an option, followed by Harris, at 23 percent, and Warren, at 18 percent.

Read the rest

Maintaining my target weight and somewhat managing back pain with a homebrew Peloton bike

I've been holding steady at my target weight for over 5 months, despite numerous back injuries and setbacks. At the heart of my fitness routine is a homebrew Peloton cycle.

More often than not I forget that my Sunny Bike actually relieves back pain. When I'm sore or struggling with my lower back, the go-to impulse is to stop riding. A single ride can help release tension or trick some mildly spasming muscles into stopping. It also burns lots of calories, makes my body look a lot better and rapidly becomes addicting to the point I have to manage how many times a week I ride.

As part of local tradition, I was body shamed during a visit to Los Angeles last July. A friend pointed out that I had gained more weight than they had seen on me. I had gained about 15 lbs above where I had been comfortably sitting, pedaling away on my Sunny Bike and watching Dr. Lupo stream on Twitch 2-3 times a week. Affectionally I referred to those 15 lbs as "the Fortnite 15."

I decided I'd had enough and immediately went on a diet that I know works for me. I started hitting the bike! I gave up on Twitch and started riding along with 45-minute classes led by Dennis via the Peloton app. I also started a pretty serious regimen of abdominal workouts as prescribed during prior physical therapy. I felt great, lost tons of fat and built a lot of muscle! Read the rest

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