A major international news story broke this past week: a mysterious new land mass has risen from the Atlantic ocean overnight in the middle of the Bermuda Triangle. Full of old shipwrecks and whale bones, it’s a very dangerous place to get to because sharks and stingrays constantly circle it. Few are fortunate enough to get to it after a long voyage at sea and many rugged explorers have nearly perished in their attempts. But for those who do make it, untold treasures await.

At least that’s what the mainstream media wants you to believe. Except that it’s a sandbar just off of Cape Point on Hatteras Island near Buxton, NC and arguably part of the point itself.

First, the articles:

Next, what the island really is. As the featured title image above shows, Chad Koczera took a photo with his drone (great shot!) towards the end of May of a sand bar that had formed off of Cape Point on Hatteras Island near Buxton, NC. At some point over the month of June, the story of this “new island” got legs, no doubt at least partly because it’s a great photo. Fortunately for us in this day and age, we have google earth with historical satellite photos so that we can take a look at Cape Point through time and determine if this is indeed a “new island” or not.

In the animated gif below, that starts with a satellite image of the point in February, 2017 and then tracks back in time to February, 1993, one can see the “island” beginning to form this past February. I’ve placed a red line just below the island and all that was needed at this point was for currents to bring in a few more inches of sand for the island to form. As the gif tracks back, you will see that Cape Point is in a constant state of flux with the point sometimes pointing towards the southwest as currents push it that way and as opposed towards the current southeast. More importantly, the point often extends to the red line south of the island as recently as 2014 and 2011. In 2006, the point extended south of the red line and in 2005, a sandbar suspiciously similar to the current sandbar was forming well south of the red line and current sandbar just after the 2004 photo showed virtually no point at all.

It’s not difficult to conclude that the sand in the shallow water of that area is constantly morphing as the currents do with it as they please. In fact, it’s basic earth science that coastlines are in a constant state of change, especially barrier islands (this was ninth grade when I was 14 years old in my school system, but others may be earlier). As for the reason this “island” forming is news, I believe the mainstream media has long-since tricked itself and others into believing coastlines are static as part of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming theory, which states we are all going to die from rising coast lines, among other things, and that without the industrial revolution, coastlines would be static (which has always been laughably stupid). It’s also is telling that if someone takes a nice photograph (in this case of the sandbar from the drone), the media will then build a fantastic story around it (without any sort of payment to the photog, I’m sure).

All of that having been said, many of the articles mention that it is simply a sandbar and that officials believe it could disappear at any time, but that is often at the end of the article after the average reader with the attention span of a 1.5 year old has long since moved on to the next bullshit article. I also have to give credit to the Huffington Post, which specifically reported someone stating the island is not a result of “climate change.” This is shocking for the HP, actually, but perhaps they note this because it’s new beach and not erosion taking place?

But some of the fantastic elements of this story show how bad media has become. The Mirror article can easily be thrown out as straight up tabloid nonsense (even though certainly some will believe it), but other articles probably aren’t thrown out as nonsense in people’s minds and those are fake news. The articles that mention shipwrecks and whale bones on this island are straight up fiction (and yet another embarrassment for fake news BBC), but a small amount of knowledge and research of the OBX shows how this information made its way into the article(s). The Diamond Shoals area of the OBX has long caused shipwrecks in the OBX area and research shows that Cape Point is considered the beginning of the Diamond Shoals area. As for the “whale bones”, the entrance to the Outer Banks by vehicle is known as “Whalebone Junction.” It’s called this because a businessman put a whale skeleton that had washed up south of Oregon Inlet at his gas station there and essentially renamed what was called “the junction” to Whalebone Junction. The whale bones aren’t there anymore.

As for the sharks and stingrays angle other articles take, yes, I’m sure sharks and stingrays are there, as they are everywhere in the Atlantic Ocean, but I doubt there’s any more there than at any other spot and I haven’t heard of any of the shell collectors getting eaten by sharks or stung by stingrays. As for it being a “land mass”, yes, I suppose it’s technically true, but I personally wouldn’t call a temporary sandbar a land mass.

I hate to have to use the term “debunked” because that’s what every global warming alarmist has used for any argument on the skeptic’s side since the mid-2000s and is way overused, but I believe the animated gif I made debunks the new island story. Looking at the satellite imagery and putting on my critical thinking cap, I believe that sandbar is simply a part of the point itself and within a few months the island will indeed “disappear” by joining the point to the north resulting in an elongated north-south oriented point seen in some of the satellite images before the currents take the point towards the southwest again before starting the whole cycle over. Or perhaps the seas will rise up and suddenly swallow us all as the current paradigm of climate science states.

SPOILERS

A couple of weeks ago during a sleepless period of the night, I thought about the series finale of The Leftovers. Something about that episode, specifically Nora’s story, bugged me in the back of my mind. As was stated numerous times after the show ended, Nora’s story was purposefully told via monologue with no visual depictions of the alternate reality so that viewers could decide for themselves if Nora Durst was telling the truth or not.

Her story, even if true, left a whole lot of unanswered questions and enormous plot holes. That’s why I said my initial reaction to the finale was “mildly disappointing.” But there was something else about her story that simply didn’t add up. I put hardly any thought to it at all, but about a week after the episode, it came to me that the time in her story simply doesn’t add up. And when I say time, I mean the actual time of day in her story.

I ended my subscription to HBO Now so I couldn’t revisit the episodes to determine the actual time the departure took place on October 14, 2011. But, the timestamp on Laura Garvey’s ultrasound says 2:23pm. This can be seen in the video here and is also verified by the Leftovers Wiki. In Nora Durst’s story, she says she met a man who was in the local grocery store when every person in it suddenly disappeared. The problem is that this was in Australia and during the middle of the night if it occurred on the same time across the world, which I assume it did. It doesn’t matter what part of Australia she was in when she was departed or teleported over to the alternate reality because it would have been the 4:00am hour over towards Melbourne and Sydney on the east coast (the most likely spot she was at) or the 2:00 hour over towards Perth on the west coast.

The man stating he was at the grocery store and everyone disappearing is rather suspect given that the local grocery store was likely not open at that time and if it was, very few people would have been in it. Of course, the man could have been lying, but frankly, I would have thought better care would have been taken with the writers to take this discrepancy into account.

Maybe my logic is off here and I initially thought it may have been because Nora departs or teleports during the middle of the afternoon and she would indeed be teleported to the same spot in Australia in the alternate reality at the same time in the afternoon, but as I recall, she stated she walked a long time until she found the only inhabited house and that man told her about the grocery store on the day of the departure seven years earlier. Brief research of several articles seem to corroborate my memory. Another article mentions that Grace, the woman Kevin Sr. meets in Australia, said that she was in the grocery store when the departure happened. So maybe I’m forgetting or not getting a key aspect of the departure? Like I said, I can’t re-watch it and I don’t feel like looking up any of the transcripts online. I guess I have to let the mystery be.

I got around to seeing Wonder Woman today on Father’s Day and it’s as good as the majority of the reviews stated it is. I found it to be the best DC Comics movie since The Dark Knight, and that’s very good company.

The story is good, the characters are fleshed out enough and it’s an entertaining summer movie. Gal Gadot makes Wonder Woman her own in this film and her quality performance is not surprising. I had first seen her in the Fifth Fast and Furious movie and knew then that she was one to watch. When she was cast as Wonder Woman in Batman V Superman, I was not concerned whereas some others were. Her performance proved me right.

Chris Pine is good, as usual, as is the supporting cast (both in the beginning on Themyscira and in the last half of the movie in the WWI fighting. There’s some great actors and actresses in the bunch, so that was not surprising as well.

The film is also apolitical, something that is very refreshing in this day and age. Men and women are treated as equals in the film and that must drive modern (third wave) feminists nuts. Articles that try to inject politics into the film are simply there to get clicks from their respective audiences and an article I read complaining that the USA is nowhere to be found in the movie when Wonder Woman is an American character, while true, is stupid in its complaint and there to get clicks too.

The actual majority of the complaints about the film I saw was that the villains are not that great. I think these reviewers (and there seemed to be a bunch of them) missed the obvious point (IMO) that the actual villain in the movie is war itself (or “Ares” to Wonder Woman). The horrors of war are adequately depicted in this movie so I found it to be a good villain.

I was concerned about the color palette of the film going into it, as the muted tones in the previous recent DC Comics movies from Zach Snyder is still in use in this movie by Patty Jenkins. The muted tones work well in London and the WWI fighting and provided a nice contrast to the brightness of Princess Diana’s home shown at the beginning of the film.

At 141 minutes, the length reminds me of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, but unlike GGV2, the movie does not feel that long and did not feel as though sections should have been cut. The extra length is due to the Themyscira origins story, a necessary and great section of the film, and that was tightly edited as well.

My only real complaint about the film is the CGI-heavy ending, but it’s a minor complaint and all superhero movies and virtually all action movies do that anyway.

Grade: A

A couple of additional notes:

Wonder Woman raises the bar for Justice League coming out in later November. I previously had lower expectations for the movie, but hopefully Snyder has learned from his two previous DC Comics outings as well as from Jenkins in Wonder Woman because now I assume the expectations are high from most everyone.

Wonder Woman is also responsible for the internet giving us one of the better memes of the past year. Whoever made this after the first trailer came out is quite the funnyman:

If you have not seen The Leftovers, I don’t believe that I spoil much, but I suggest not reading this review if you absolutely have to watch something not knowing anything about it beyond the general plot synopsis.

Too often, The Leftovers has contrived sequences and the characters do frustrating things. Some of this can be chalked up to events and actions occurring in a post-rapture world, although it’s never specifically stated it was a rapture that took place in the years prior, suddenly vanishing 2% of the world’s population, until season 3 and only then it was conjecture from an overly religious character. And that was part of my issue with The Leftovers from the beginning – it just assumes that you think the sudden vanishing was the rapture and not something else. But even though the show assumes rapture, it tries to explore it from a scientific standpoint briefly at times (and nothing ever comes of that). As for me if 2% of the world’s population suddenly disappeared, I would first think that we’re living in a virtual reality and the 2% were deleted, either accidentally or intentionally, and if accidentally then we’re living in a dead-end timeline before everything gets restored. If intentionally,well, shit.

The show reminded me of Lost while watching it, a show that I watched every now and then but didn’t take too seriously and I’m fortunate I did not given the scathing reviews of its finale from people who did take it seriously. Apparently The Leftovers was created by the same creator of Lost.

As I mentioned before, season 1 of the Leftovers was just good enough to continue watching. A cult known as the Guilty Remnant (GR) played a prominent role in season 1 and this was probably its weakest subplot in the whole series. Why these people act the way they do and how they are able to recruit so many members is never adequately explained. The show simply assumes that the viewer is to understand that people would act this way in a post-rapture world. But is that the way some people would act? It’s a take it or leave it scenario and taking it is a large stretch. They all dress in white, they all chain smoke, and all have taken a vow of silence and do not speak. So, they communicate by writing things down on notepads all the time and this gets pretty tedious at times given that they’re always communicating by writing when they’re not supposed to be communicating. As to why they do all this, it’s not explained. They are able to recruit a few new members by standing outside their houses silently stalking them. And that’s all it takes to recruit new members. Lame. They also do things like break into everybody’s houses and take their family photos and nobody bats an eye, then later when they do something equally lame, everybody in town completely and totally loses their shit.

Members of the Guilty Remnant chain smoke and communicate by notepad and sharpie.

Also, subplots are brought up, then dead-ended. A couple from season 1 included characters I mentioned in a previous post. The dog-killer states that the leftover dogs are a danger and Kevin helps kill them in his sleep walking, then Kevin later adopts one. That’s it. So are the leftover dogs a danger, or what? How do they figure into the rapture? The other subplot included Aimee, who was living with Kevin and Jill. The reason she was living with them was never explained and at one point there was an odd sexual tension in one scene between Aimee and Kevin. Nothing was ever done with this tension except to have Jill accuse Aimee of fucking her dad (which wasn’t true) to have a fallout occur between the two and get rid of Aimee from the series. The whole thing was pointless and odder still because Aimee is presumably an underage character (she’s in high school) even though the actress is obviously in her 20s. The scene with the odd sexual tension occurs because Aimee appears in the kitchen wearing a see-through shirt. I don’t know current laws with television, but this could be considered child pornography even though the actress is in her 20s because it’s a portrayal of a bare-breasted female child in a semi-sexual manner. But again, the whole thing was pointless, so I don’t know why they did any of it.

Scenes had to be cut short for the American edition of Trainspotting due to the underage sex between the actor Ewan McGregor and actress Kelly MacDonald playing a 15 year old girl, even though the two were of age.

But for all of my problems with The Leftovers, the performances from the actors and actresses are top-notch. Justin Theroux (playing Kevin Garvey) and Carrie Coon (playing Nora Durst) carry the show. Other supporting actors are great as well – Christopher Eccleston playing Matt Jamison, Kevin Carroll as John Murphy, and Regina King as Erika Murphy, to name a few. The fantastic Scott Glenn plays a supporting role too and one of my favorite episodes, Season 3’s Crazy Whitefella Thinking, featured him prominently (as the crazy whitefella). It’s these performances and stellar episodes every once in a while that kept me coming back. Season 2’s International Assassin episode is another example of great storytelling from all involved and Season 1’s Guest is the episode that really got me into the show. These three episodes all had something in common – they focused on a singular character and his or her journey. This is where The Leftovers is at its strongest and it’s engrossing.

Then, just like that, Crazy Whitefella Thinking gets followed by an episode that is one big contrived and cliched mess. Going into the last four episodes of the series, I gave The Leftovers a C+ in my mind with the final episodes being capable of raising it up to a B or B- level or dropping it down to a C. Would the final episodes be strong ones focused on a Garvey or would they go the more likely route of jumping back and forth through different characters to tie up the character arcs? But why bother doing that when so many other things haven’t been tied up? Will I be really upset by the ending like so many were who took Lost seriously?

I’m happy to say that season 3 episodes 5, 6, and 7 all largely focused on a singular character and each was successively better than the previous. Episode 5’s It’s a Matt, Matt, Matt, Matt World seemed odd with the lion sex party (you would have to watch it), then Episode 6’s Certified allowed Amy Brenneman (who plays Laurie) to shine brightly despite an episode nearly devoid of plot. I felt her acting talent was largely wasted until this episode. Then came The Most Powerful Man in the World (and his Twin Brother), a brilliant episode and largely a sequel to Season 2’s International Assassin, also from the same director (Craig Zobel, who also co-founded Homestar Runner!). This penultimate episode is every bit as good as International Assassin and has one of the funniest scenes I’ve seen on the small or big screen in quite some time.

Homestar Runner is great, but who would’ve thunk one of the creators would go on to direct something as good as International Assassin?

Before I get to the series finale, I have to say that I read up a bit on the many theories online about the show. While some seem like they could be legit and others are pretty far out there, I came across one written during the first season stating they felt the series was largely a study in depression. In fact, I got the feeling that’s what the show was about before I even saw that article. That’s probably why I don’t like it quite as much as others – as a largely depressed person, I crave a little more escapist entertainment than what The Leftovers has to offer. My understanding is that the first season was loosely based on the book (which I have not read), then season 2 and 3 was not. Season 2 is where The Leftovers got significantly better, probably because the creators and writers were able to take the characters and ideas and write their own material directly for a visual format. But they still kept the depression theme at times, especially given what takes place in Certified during the third season.

As for the series finale, it was mildly disappointing and again, reminded me of Lost. There’s even a reference to Lost early in the episode. I’m not going to say anything else about it.

The strength of the latter half of season 3 earns it an increase in grade from C+, but the series finale prevents it from getting a full B and results in a B-.

Jason Bourne, I mean Matt Damon is Jason Bourne in a movie about Jason Bourne in the most original title for a film this decade: JASON BOURNE. All caps means it’s special.

And special it is – a great cast including Tommy Lee Jones, Alicia Vikander, and Vincent Cassell can’t save this movie from at-best mediocrity at times and sheer stupidity in the rest of the film. There’s absolutely nothing in the movie that hasn’t been done four times before and the shaky cam is still annoying as fuck. Not only is it used for things when it shouldn’t (like looking at a phone screen), it’s used in place of real editing in this film too and the laziness shows. There’s a very half-hearted attempt at weaving privacy concerns into the storyline, but it’s just there to setup the final action sequences.

Matt Damon is JASON BOURNE. But you already know his name.

During one of these sequences, the guy hired to fail to kill Bourne, named the “Asset” of course, plows through about two dozen cars in a SWAT van in a traffic jam blowing them to the sides in dramatic fashion as bumpers, front ends and crumpled cars go flying, but the van doesn’t receive a scratch. Bourne follows in an unmarked black Dodge Charger – the movie makes sure I know this because the movie was sure to tell me this via police radio as he gets in the shiny black Charger for his commercial, I mean action sequence featuring the Charger.

The script is lazy, the direction is lazy, the characters are poor and Matt Damon phones it in. Easily the worst of the Bourne films.

SPOILER – the character played by Julia Stiles, a fan favorite in the first three films, gets killed rather early in the movie, her body simply left unceremoniously in a Greek alley somewhere. Will she miraculously come back in a future film titled The Bourne Lobotomy? Who cares?

Grade: D

I found Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 to be very good and better than the original, unlike most others. There was a lot more plot and it was all about family. The action was great, the humor was funny, and there were a couple of unexpected cameos. The CGI of a young Kurt Russel in the beginning overtop of another actor worked well too.

My chief complaint with the film was that it seemed like I was watching an extended cut. I felt strongly that about 20 minutes could have been cut and coincidentally, that would have shortened the running time to just under two hours rather than 2 hours and 16 minutes. This prevents it from getting a full A.

Grade A-

Midnight Special, a science fiction film about a boy with special powers, could have and should have been a better film. But, it’s decent in its own right. The positives to this movie are the cast, the acting, and the shots (even though there was a noticeable smudge on the camera lens in one scene where they were driving). The negatives are that it gets relatively boring after an interesting setup in the first act to first half of the movie.
Grade: B-

Spoilers below

Many people online seemed dissatisfied with the ending. I thought it tied things up fairly nicely, so I’m not sure what the issue is. What I find odd, though, is the filmmaker’s commentary on it.
https://www.buzzfeed.com/adambvary/midnight-special-ending?utm_term=.rmokL5XQG#.ocAYWO8nG
It seemed fairly straightforward to me with the bright light emanating from the boy and the beings of light revealed to be living in a world on top of ours watching us that the boy and these beings are angels. But Jeff Nichols, the writer and director, calls that a “red herring”.
Regardless, it’s clear the filmmaker was shooting for a “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” level of film, but falls short of that. Still worth watching for science fiction buffs, though.

(WordPress if fucking up the line breaks and I don’t feel like trying to figure out why)

Suicide Squad came on HBONow last Saturday and I figured I needed to watch it, especially since I had just seen Batman V. Superman. I guess I should review it too. Unfortunately, I found Suicide Squad to be inferior to Batman V. Superman, even though everyone was in love with the Suicide Squad trailer, as compared to their hatred for the Batman V. Superman trailer.

The positives of the film are Will Smith’s performance as Deadshot and Margot Robbie’s performance as Harley Quinn. Interestingly, this is the first time I’ve seen Cara Delevinge on the screen, who plays an archaeologist who gets possessed by a witch named the Enchantress. Delevigne is in an upcoming film of interest, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets and I have seen the trailer for that. She was hardly in the movie as the archaeologist and that performance was fine. The Enchantress performance seemed mediocre at best, but I think the primary problem was the dubbing of audio over top of her lip syncing, or something. Something wasn’t right about it at all and it took away from her performance and the scenes with the Enchantress.

The visual effects weren’t bad, but in spots weren’t necessarily good either. As for the true negatives – the story, the direction, the Joker hardly being in it. Perhaps the biggest problem with this movie is the attempt at making unlikable people likable, some of whom do unlikable things throughout the entire movie. While it generally works for Deadshot and Quinn, it fails miserably on everyone else. The other characters are completely useless too; Jai Courtney sucks as usual as an Australian named Boomerang, a guy who uses a…you guessed it…boomerang to kill people. There’s also a crocodile guy or something, a Japanese woman who uses a…you guessed it…sword to kill people and then there’s the guy that can turn his body into a flamethrower, Diablo, but then sits around most of the movie brooding while refusing to use his powers. Lame. But even lamer, there’s one guy who can climb buildings real fast and then gets killed immediately. Not even in battle. LAME.

Grade: D

I brought back my subscription to HBONow a day into the flu to get some new things to watch when I wasn’t dead in bed. Here’s some brief reviews, none of them of brand new movies or shows:

Westworld: The best series I’ve seen. Better than Game of Thrones, which jumped the shark at the very, very end of season 5. The blonde woman with the snake tattoo, played brilliantly by Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, is absolutely lovable in her badassery, even though it’s a pretty small part. Everyone else does well too. I also liked seeing Tessa Thompson again, who I first really saw in Creed. I ended up binge watching the entire season over two days thanks to it being so good. Grade: A+

Batman V Superman: I finally saw it thanks to the subscription and while it wasn’t a great film it wasn’t terrible either. My issues with it were the length and the odd tonal shifts where they tried to shoehorn in items for the next Justice League movie. While a lot of people were harping on Affleck being Batman when it was first announced, my issue at the time was with Eisenberg being Lex Luthor. I’m happy to say his performance as Luthor wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Grade: B-

Independence Day: Resurgence: Not good. There was mediocre CGI, bad green screen, lame plot. And that was in the first 30 minutes because I fell asleep after that. So, I can’t really say I saw the movie. Another noteworthy item – “Madam President” is introduced within the first few minutes of the film, instantly dating itself to the dark times of the mid-teens where Hollywood was simply assuming the next President would be Hillary Clinton and was helping pave the way. Grade: D (from what I saw of it)

X-Men Apocalypse: While it was nothing that hasn’t been seen before, it was a decent movie and it being set in the 80s was fun. Sansa Stark, I mean Sophie Turner, played a young Jean well and I liked seeing how Charles Xavier lost his hair. Truthfully, there’s been so many X-Men movies, I have no idea if this is supposed to be in an alternate timeline or not compared to others from the 2000s as well as others from this decade. Regardless, it was a fun movie. Grade: B

The evening before last, I came down with a sudden sore throat and nasty malaise. I was able to get some sleep and when I did, fever dreams were occurring. I knew what it was even before I went to bed, though; it was the flu. This despite getting the flu shot later last December.

How I felt day 1.

First thing yesterday morning, I went to MedStar PromptCare in the hopes of trying Tamiflu for the first time ever. The doctor ran both a strep and flu test and both came back negative. But, in one of the most surprising things to ever happen to me, the doctor immediately agreed that it was the flu despite me having had a shot and the test coming back negative. Apparently the fact that the flu shot partially missed the mark this year, the fact that the flu is still going around my area, and the fact that my symptoms all screamed flu, led her to agree with me. Doctors and I have had different opinions about things my entire life, so this was noteworthy. She was also genuinely concerned that if I had any indications of a heart or breathing issue with it to go the ER immediately. I guess those are the hazards of getting older now.

Day 2 even worse.

So I got a prescription for Tamiflu and took the first pill around 11am yesterday. The symptoms only got much worse after that and now 36 hours after taking Tamiflu, I can say with certainty that this is going to run its course on par with the other times I’ve had a nasty flu. Which is to say not being able to do anything except feeling like I’m going to die for four days followed by a week of still feeling like a shit sandwich while working.

Going into day 3. Yep, still the same.

Now, you’re probably thinking that it isn’t the flu given I had the vaccine just over three months ago and the virus I have is not responding to Tamiflu. I 100% support your logic. I can also say with 100% certainty that you’re wrong. Given that the flu vaccines have missed the mark in recent years, it does make me wonder what the point of getting a flu vaccine is. As for Tamiflu, I’m going to continue taking it since there’s no difference between it and a sugar pill, but I won’t bother with it again. In fact, I went back last evening to my tried and true method of flu symptom relief – gargling a quarter shot of El Dorado rum once an hour, as needed. I strongly recommend trying it if you never have. I’m sure your decent liquor of choice can be substituted.

fuck yea