November 26, 2019

 

Watchmen (series)

I am in awe of the new Watchmen series on HBO. Every episode takes me deeper into the intrigue and masterful story-telling.

I truly loved the original comic series upon which it was based. But I was skeptical that a series based on the comic could tap into it’s beautiful layered symmetry. I remembered how the Watchmen film although aesthetically rising to the occasion, missed the mark with the substance, and the depth of context that would only seem possible on the printed page.

I also loved Lindelof’s previous work on the HBO series Leftovers. That show, particularly the first season, was something incredible and new. It was addicting. Nevertheless, a spin-off show on such a challenging story seemed like a moonshot attempt, and yet it seems to be doing exactly that.

Lindelof’s Watchmen has what Snyder’s Watchmen did not - timing, synchronicity, the deeper meanings reverberating across timelines that is the very soul of the original comic - it is beautiful to behold.

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The Streaming Shake Up

We have lived in the golden age of streaming thanks to the disrupting streaming platforms that have been available in recent years, but with more people ditching the over-priced cable model, and major media corporations moving their content to streaming services, the days of saving by cord cutting may be coming to a close.

We used to be able to get by with a couple streaming services (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, HBO) but it’s becoming an increasingly crowded set of choices. We now also have CBS All-access, Disney+ and Apple TV+, and soon we’ll also have Peacock from NBCUniversal, and WarnerMedia is rolling our HBOMax which will combine HBO with the rest of WarnerMedia content. With all of these new services, that means a shakeup is in the works with content bouncing around between different platforms.

HBO, Netflix and Amazon Prime have been the staples of original content, but Netflix Amazon and Hulu have benefited from lots of classic content. Right now Hulu is my favorite streaming service because it has the overall best selection of shows that I enjoy (many of which are classics) such as: Firefly, Saved by the Bell, It’s Always Sunny, Rick and Morty, Brooklyn 99, Party Down, etc. But, it’s now clear that many of these shows will move off of Hulu to other services as they launch. For example, Rick and Morty will go to the new HBO Max, as will Friends, West Wing and the Fresh Prince. Netflix will lose the Office and Parks and Rec to NBC’s Peacock.

If you happen to love Star Trek like me, you’re only choice to watch the new Star Trek shows (of which there will be 3 choices next year) is CBS All-access.

Here is a rundown of current and upcoming streaming services, and their pricing:

Service monthly cost content
Netflix $9/$13/$16* Stranger Things, Glow, Atypical, The Crown, etc
Hulu $6/$12* The Handmaiden’s Tale, It’s Always Sunny, Firefly, Party Down
Amazon Prime $10 Fleabag, Catastrophe, Man in the High Castle
CBS All-Access $6/$10* Star Trek shows: Discovery, Picard, Below Deck
Disney+ $7 The Mandalorian, Star Wars, Marvel Cinematic Universe
Apple+ $5 Snoopy, New original content
HBO Max $15 HBO shows, Studio Ghibli, Sesame Street, Rick and Morty, Friends, West Wing, the Fresh Prince
Peacock TBD Parks and Rec, The Office, reboots of Saved by the Bell and Punky Bruster

*Netflix plans range from $9 to $16 depending on number of screens and picture quality | Hulu’s $12 option is ad free, CBS All-Accesses’ $10 plan is also ad free

So if a consumer attempts to keep up with all of the content we’ve traditionally had available it will soon become more expensive than the traditional cable services. Making the whole point of cord cutting a moot point. If their is still one upside to these content disruptions, at least we have the choice to forgo advertising, and choose when and where we consume content.

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November 24, 2019

 

Movies in 2019

The year is not over and I suspect Rise of Skywalker will make a good case for being my favorite film of the year, however here are what I’ve enjoyed the most so far.

John Wick Chapter 3: full disclaimer I have not yet seen the first two John Wick action movies, but that might not really matter that much. The third one does pick up immediately after the conclusion of the second but that all becomes pretty obvious after a few confusing minutes, and I’m not sure really knowing the whole backstory makes a difference. I went in expecting a pretty good action film, but what I didn’t expect was all out hilarious comedy that the movie was. It’s basically a modern day Three Stooges, and it pulls off the best slapstick comedy I’ve ever seen.

Jojo Rabbit comes from Taika Waititi (creator/director of What We Do In Shadows, Thor Ragnarok, Eagle vs Shark …) known for oddball goofy comedy. The story revolves around a 10-year old boy in Nazi Germany whose imaginary friend is Hitler (played by the director), encouraging him through difficult times. Meanwhile he becomes aware that his mother has a young Jewish girl, Elsa, hiding in their home, and exposing her would risk the life of his mother, so he is involuntarily complicit with his mother’s secret. But over time Jojo begins to realize Elsa’s humanity and they begrudgingly form a bond of friendship. The movie is filled with humor and also beautifully sweet moments.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is one of the best Tarantino films yet, the story is an interesting take on the true crime genre, specifically the grizzly murder of actress Sharon Tate, retconning the story where instead of a gruesome murder two unlikely heroes intervene in the most hilarious ways imaginable.

Parasite: Subtle meanings, deep subtexts containing a message about society permeate the film. The story in Parasite, a Korean film from the director of The Host (one of my favorite monster thrillers) is beautifully told, beautifully filmed and beautifully acted. There is no way to describe the plot without giving away shameful spoilers so I won’t go into details, but there are no real protagonists, no real heroes, just victims of an unfair world trying to survive anyway possible. It juxtaposes moments of humor with our profound despair so brilliantly. The complex story and stunning visuals reminded me of a masterpiece on the same level as a Hitchcock film.

The end of two Marvel Eras

With the acquisition of Fox by Disney it can be said that we’ve seen the end of the era of the X-Men (and related) films. I’d say that of all the super hero films, the Fox X-Men series was my favorite. Not all were successes, but they ventured into some different territory with some side characters and darker R-rated films. In particular the Deadpool films, Logan, The Wolverine, and Days of Future Past stand out to me as amazing films in the series. Now that Disney owns the Fox films it will be interesting to see how they weave mutants into their already successful non-mutant Marvel story lines.

The other end of an era was the conclusion of a major story arc in Disney’s Marvel films with Avenger’s Endgame. Disney certainly has no plans to stop churning our Marvel movies, but Endgame felt like, and was certainly meant to be, a capstone on the stories up to this point. Considering the film includes the deaths or retirements of some of the most prominent figures in these films it’s clear this is at least a passing of the torch to a new generation of characters.

In a way I’m starting to become tired of all of the super hero movies. I’ve given up on the DC Universe, which growing up was my favorite comic universe, but the DC Universe has been a lot of misses. I didn’t really give Wonder Woman or Joker a chance but after Batman vs Superman there was just too much missing or broken with that series. I’ve also missed a lot of the recent Disney Marvel films such as both independent Spider Man films, Captain Marvel. There is just too much to take it all in.


 

State of the Web

I like to look over various annual surveys pertaining to web design/development. It’s a great way to stay on top of emerging trends, technologies, working situations, etc. I just discovered the HTTP Archive Almanac which I’ve excited to look over. I discovered Tailwinds popularity in this year’s State of CSS survey, and I learned about the interest in the Vue framework in last year’s State of JS survey. The Stack Overflow survey is a great place to see what technology is most popular, and where you rank income wise, incase you need to make the argument for a raise, among other things.

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November 23, 2019

 

Playlist - relaxing by the sea

Just a little relaxing playlist I made, heavily inspired by Eagle vs Shark.


 

CSS Forest

Here is a little world I made out of CSS and pieced together with CSS Grid.

See the Pen CSS Forest v2 by Jonathan Huffman (@jonathan-huffman) on CodePen.

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