movies and TV and podcasts

Thinking back to the beginning of this summer, I was somewhat hopeful about the trajectory that we seemed to be on, and was looking forward to making a few trips into NYC, seeing a few movies in a theater, and maybe returning to something like “normal” for the fall. But here we are at the end of August, and things aren’t going so well. I’m back to getting my groceries delivered, I paid $30 to watch Black Widow at home instead of going to a theater, and I’ve only been into NYC once. I still have my NYCC tickets for October, but I’m really not sure if I’m going to go.

Which is all prelude to saying that I’ve been watching a lot of movies and TV shows lately. I’ve also gotten into the habit of pairing my TV/movie watching with related podcasts. For older stuff, there are a bunch of “rewatch” podcasts out there. For newer stuff, there’s a lot of “recap” podcasts that come out the day after a new episode airs. So for the older stuff, I’m getting some contemporary context, and for the newer stuff, I’m getting a little bit of the feeling of being part of the real-time conversation about the show. I thought it would be fun to write up some notes about what I’ve been watching and listening to lately.

Star Trek: Discovery

I still haven’t talked myself into signing up for Paramount+, so I’ve just been buying this show on DVD/Blu-ray. I bought DVDs for seasons one and two, but splurged on the SteelBook Blu-ray set for season three. And I just finished watching season three a few weeks ago. I listened to The Greatest Discovery podcast along with it. Greatest Discovery is a spinoff of Greatest Generation, a TNG rewatch podcast that started in 2016. It’s a fun podcast, but there are a lot of in-jokes that I don’t get, and it’s mostly just a funny podcast with two nerds talking about Star Trek. (Which is fine. But it’s not something that’s giving you a lot of background or critical analysis.) As for Discovery itself, it’s… a mixed bag. There’s some great stuff in there, but there’s a lot of frustrating stuff that has me yelling at the screen. (Which is where the podcast comes in. It’s nice to listen to a couple of fellow nerds who are frustrated about the same things as I am, and who can crack jokes about them.)

Star Trek movies

I’ve also decided to rewatch the original Star Trek movies. I’ve gotten through to Star Trek V, which I watched yesterday. I’ve been listening to selected old episodes of Inglorious Treksperts to go along with that. For Star Trek V, I listened to this episode recorded at WonderCon 2019, featuring one of the writers from that movie, David Loughery. (I was at that WonderCon, but didn’t make it to that panel.) For Star Trek III, I listened to a two part series (part one and part two) where they dissect some script notes that went back and forth between Harve Bennet and Gene Roddenberry on the script for that film. It’s all very nerdy, but it’s cool to hear some of the behind-the-scenes history on these films. The guys who do that podcast are very knowledgeable about Trek, and also very funny. They did a Best Of Inglorious Treksperts video for this years Comic-Con@Home. If you’re curious about them, that’s a good place to start.

Disney+ Marvel shows

For the various Disney+ Marvel shows (WandaVision, Loki, etc.), I’ve been listening to the MarvelVision podcast from the Comic Book Club guys. They’ve also been doing a rewatch of the MCU movies, airing episodes about those in between the Disney+ shows. They’re generally pretty funny. The movie rewatch episodes have had some interesting guests too, including the guy who played Aaron in Winter Soldier.

Studio Ghibli movies

I bought a bunch of Ghibli movies on Blu-ray recently, and I’ve been watching those, and listening to the Ghibliotheque podcast along with them. Ghibliotheque is a (relatively) serious podcast, compared to some of the others I’ve mentioned here. It’s hosted by two British guys, one of whom has seen all of the Ghibli movies, and one who had only seen a few, and is watching most of them for the first time. They’re both smart guys who know a lot about movies. They have a book coming out soon, which I will probably buy.

Well, I have now spent way more time on this post than I’d intended to. (I went down a bunch of side paths while looking for links to include here.) But it’s a rainy Sunday morning, and there wasn’t much else to do.

moving from ADAL to MSAL

I haven’t written a programming-related post in a while. I just had to rewrite some code that used ADAL to use MSAL, so I thought I’d write up a short post on that.

There’s a bunch of documentation around this on the Microsoft web site, but for the simple case I was interested in, it took some effort to track down.

Here are links to a couple of general articles:

What I needed was to rewrite a small block of code that calls a web API from a console app, with no user intervention. I have an Azure app registration set up to help with that, with a client ID and secret, and all that stuff. I have some links on how to set that up somewhere, but I’ll skip that for now.

The actual code I needed was something like the code here (to initialize MSAL) and here (to get a token). After I get the token, I just add it as a bearer token to the header for the request.

Here’s a bit of “before” and “after” code:

// before:
using Microsoft.IdentityModel.Clients.ActiveDirectory;

// get the parameters from a config file, or somewhere...
string clientId = ConfigurationManager.AppSettings["ClientId"];
string clientSecret = ConfigurationManager.AppSettings["ClientSecret"];
string authority = ConfigurationManager.AppSettings["Authority"];
string svcResourceId = ConfigurationManager.AppSettings["ServiceResourceId"];

AuthenticationContext authContext = null;
ClientCredential clientCredential = null;

authContext = new AuthenticationContext(authority);
clientCredential = new ClientCredential(clientId, clientSecret);
AuthenticationResult result = null;
	result = await authContext.AcquireTokenAsync(svcResourceId, clientCredential);
catch (AdalException ex)
		"An error occurred while acquiring a token\nTime: {0}\nError: {1}\n",
		DateTime.Now.ToString(), ex.ToString()));
//Console.WriteLine("Access Token: {0}", result.AccessToken);

client = new HttpClient();
client.BaseAddress = new Uri(BaseAddr);
client.DefaultRequestHeaders.Accept.Add(new MediaTypeWithQualityHeaderValue("application/json"));
// Add the access token to the authorization header of the request.
client.DefaultRequestHeaders.Authorization = new AuthenticationHeaderValue("Bearer", result.AccessToken);

// after: 
using Microsoft.Identity.Client;

IConfidentialClientApplication app = ConfidentialClientApplicationBuilder.Create(clientId)

AuthenticationResult authResult = null;
	List<String> scopes = new List<String>() { svcResourceId + "/.default" };
	authResult = await app.AcquireTokenForClient(scopes).ExecuteAsync();
	//string accessToken = authResult.AccessToken;
	//Console.WriteLine($"Access Token: {accessToken}");
catch (Exception ex)
	Console.WriteLine($"MSAL Error: {ex.Message}");

I’m not sure if anyone other than me will ever find this useful, but here it is, just in case.

random comic book stuff

I didn’t manage to clear out my brain in yesterday’s post, so here’s another one, this time with some random comic book stuff that I found interesting.

First: On a number of occasions, I’ve regretted selling my copy of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1, years ago, for a relatively paltry sum of around $100. At the time, I thought TMNT had peaked. But no. Here’s one that just sold for more that $10,000. Sigh. I ordered my copy direct from Eastman and Laird, for the original cover price of $1.50, plus maybe $1 for shipping, back when it first came out. I was likely one of the very first people to own a copy.

Second: There have been some interesting developments recently in the way that some comic book creators are choosing to publish their work, and a lot of talk about how Marvel and DC compensate creators.

Here’s a very good article from The Guardian about the backlash over the way creators are compensated by Marvel and DC when their characters are used in movies and TV. This is mostly stuff that I already knew, but it’s surprising to see this kind of depth in a general newspaper article.

A number of creators are leaving Marvel and DC and doing creator-owned work elsewhere. Scott Snyder is doing some stuff for ComiXology Originals. James Tynion IV, and a number of other creators, are going to publish some work via Substack. (Snyder is involved too, but rather than comics, he’s going to run some kind of writing workshop through Substack.) The usual route for creator-owned work over the last few years has been to go through Image, or maybe Boom or IDW. But it seems like more people are trying other routes now.

I have to keep reminding myself that I already have too many comics to read, so none of this matters to me. I’ve been tempted to sign up for ComiXology Unlimited on a number of occasions over the last year or two, but I keep putting it off. I really need to work through at least some of my backlog before I consider anything like that.

NYCC, COVID-19, and so on

It’s been about two weeks since I last posted anything here, and there’s a bit of a backlog building up in my head, so this post may cover a few subjects. (Or it might not, if I get tired or pulled away. Who knows…)

On the COVID-19 front, things are getting a little less optimistic since I bought my NYCC tickets a month ago. I’m starting to think that maybe I shouldn’t have gone ahead with that. The big auto show at Javits was canceled. NYC has issued a vaccine mandate for certain venues and activities, so that might apply to NYCC, though the specifics on it aren’t out yet. NYCC hasn’t officially updated their guidelines to reflect a vaccine mandate, though they did post an update on Twitter about it. So I guess I’ll just wait and see on that for now. I’d be more comfortable going if there’s a vaccine mandate, of course, but the idea that we need a vaccine mandate is kind of depressing.

Meanwhile, the “return to office” date for my company just got pushed back from September to October. It’s kind of funny how many times it’s been pushed back now. I just went through my notes on that, and I think we’ve had eleven different RTO dates, starting with April 3, 2020. It’s hard to even imagine back to when that seemed reasonable.

It’s pretty frustrating to see how hard it’s been for us to make progress on COVID-19. We should be doing so much better than we’re doing. Well, I had a bunch of other stuff to cover, but I need to wrap this up, so I guess this will just be a short note about COVID-19 and NYCC.