The Tamale Hut Café presents:
Kinetic Color
A collection of abstract artwork by Stephanie Bieniek
Only at The Tamale Hut Café
8300 W. Cermak Rd. North Riverside, IL
708-442-0948 - tamalehutcafe.com

Artwork will be on display until January 7, 2018
during normal Tamale Hut Café business hours:
Mon-Fri:7:30AM-7PM, Sat:8:30AM-7PM, Sun:8:30AM-6PM


For more information about Stephie's art, please also check out artbystephie.com.
For Matt's writing projects, please go to storiesbymatt.net. Enjoy your visit here!


01/31/17: We watched the season ending episode of The Good Place today, and to use a favorite phrase of one of the main characters: Holy fork! I liked this show when it started, thought it might suffer because of the extended Christmas break, and after its return, I really started hating one of the characters who seemed to get stupider as the season went on. But this final episode had such a massive plot twist that made perfect sense, and now I can't wait for the second season. I worry, though, that the show will lose its mojo after the break as so many shows have (recent examples of shows I liked that came back from a summer break and disappointed are Mr. Robot, Two Broke Girls, Mike and Molly, and Castle). I think this show would be a good binge if you haven't seen it yet. It's short (13 half-hour episodes) but I thought the payoff was worth it. Recommended.

01/16/17: Today we watched the final episode of Sherlock, the Mark Gatiss/Steven Moffat updating of Sherlock Holmes starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. News sites on the Internet hint that there may be another season at some point in the future, but this is the final episode that I'm ever going to watch. This series has turned into a massive disappointment to me, and I blame Moffat. I used to be a fan of his writing. We liked Coupling when channel 11 ran it a few years ago. I loved Jeckyll and I thought that "Blink" was one of the best episodes of Doctor Who ever. The first three-episode season of Sherlock was amazing, the second season was also excellent, but after that, something happened.
     It started for me with the cliffhanger at the end of season 2. After waiting two years to find out how the writers were going to handle the aftermath of Holmes and Moriarty's apparent deaths, I thought the explanation was convoluted and unsatisfying. I felt that the writers just wanted to show us how clever they were, rather than tell a good story. The rest of the season (all three episodes) was just strange, and it ended with Sherlock murdering someone. This was followed, two years later, but a "special" episode that I felt was an hour and a half of my life wasted. I approached this "final" three-episode season with a little trepidation, but the first two episodes showed a little of what appealed to me in the early episodes. Unfortunately, it ended with what I thought was the worst episode of the entire series.
     I had much the same reaction to this episode that I had to one of the Doctor Who episodes from the last season, which Steven Moffat (also the show runner of that series) had written. I fell asleep at one point, then when it was over, I went back to see if I missed something, and realized I didn't miss much. Irritated, I went on-line and found many people praising the episode as the best of the recent seasons.
     Maybe I'm not the target audience for this any more. All I know is that I'm done with the Cumberbatch Sherlock, even if they make more episodes. We still enjoy Elementary, the CBS take on the Sherlock Holmes canon. It's not as true to the original stories as the first of the Sherlock episodes, but it's a heckuva lot more entertaining. I just worry that this might be the last season, because CBS moved it to Sunday evening, and with the time delays and cancellations because of earlier sports events running long, I worry that the public will give up on it rather than put in the extra work to watch it like I do.
     I see that there's a new season of Doctor Who starting in the spring, the final season guided by Steven Moffat. I haven't decided if I'm going to watch that.


01/11/17: One of the podcasts that I've been listening to on my commute is Antic - the Atari 8-bit podcast and I've really been enjoying the nostalgic feeling of listening to people talk about my first computer, an Atari 800, which I bought for $529 in January 1983. I mostly played games on it, but it was a gateway into working with computers, something that became a hobby and a career for me.
     I replaced my trusty 800 with an Atari ST in '88 or '89. Listening to this podcasts got me thinking about why I'm not as nostalgic about the ST as I am for the 800. The 800 was my first computer, but I used the ST longer and for more productive things. Yet as I think back, I was more fascinated by the 800. I bought more books about the 800 than the ST. I bought many more magazines covering the earlier computer than the latter. And I bought more games and programs for the 8-bit system. Granted, there seemed to be more material available for the earlier system, and it was easier to find. I bought Atari-specific magazines off the newsstand, and games and hardware were available at big retailers like Sears and Venture. Plus, I was living at home with my parents when I bought the 800 and with Stephie when I got the ST. My brothers were way more interested in computers than Stephie ever was.
     The big thing these days regarding classic computers is running emulators on current systems. I've dabbled a bit in the past, but recently I've been playing with a few emulators with good success. I have Altirra running in my Windows partition and Atari800 available in my Linux environment, and both work really well. The games I've been playing are not as deep and graphically detailed as most of what you can run on your smartphone, but there's some kind of a thrill to be able to play a few levels of Miner 2049er or some of the great Synapse Software games like Fort Apocalypse or Pharaoh's Curse. I'm actually thinking of getting an adapter so I can use my Wico joystick to play the games exactly like I remember them.
     But with all my interest in emulation, I find I'm not so eager to get an ST emulator up and running. I mean, I've had an ST emulator for years, the excellent Gemuator, but all I've done with that is occasionally bring up the emulated desktop, nod with approval that it looks like I remember it, then shut it down and move on. I think that by the time I was using my ST, I was treating the computer as an appliance rather than a toy. I had more utilities and text editors loaded on my ST than games. I used it to dial into the System36 at work from my ST to monitor batch jobs and troubleshoot issues from home. I used a Supercharger with the ST to emulate a DOS machine. I spent hours on Compuserve forums and on Delphi. I used an ST desktop publishing program to lay out the first few newsletters for the user group I belonged to. Almost everything I did on the ST can be done in Windows or Linux, and usually faster and easier, so why bother with the ST?
     As we become adults, we lose the sense of wonder at the world that we had as children, when we seemed to be always finding things that are new and interesting and exciting. As I think about it, at some point I lost my sense of wonder with computers. Maybe that's why I have trouble understanding why people get so excited about getting a new computer or a new cell phone. In a way, I just see it as another chore, more work I need to do to set the new device up so that I can use it the way I used the old one. But back in the '80s, every computer magazine I bought showed me new and exciting ways to use my Atari, whether it was a new game to buy or a new programming language to try or just a new BASIC program to type in from page after page of code. I think I need to get back that feeling. I think I'll start by playing some Mountain King. Anyone want to join me?

01/01/17: Good riddance, 2016. As I started the year, I was facing a layoff, but I had a generous severance coming, so I thought, "I'll take a couple of weeks, then get a job. Maybe we can take a nice vacation on the severance money." Little did I know that it would take the better part of the year to find someone to hire me. In the meantime, we watched the checking account dwindle down, my favorite aunt passed away, the oven crapped out, the TV almost crapped out, our sister-in-law did something to her ankle that put her out of commission for most of the year (but thankfully no surgery needed), Stephie's tummy problems came back, we couldn't afford a vacation, the leak in the veranda ceiling when it rains got worse and worse, and we lost our beloved Kisu. And this was all before the election! Then, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas were effectively canceled for financial reasons. And it was the first year we didn't even get a tree or decorate for Christmas. I'm thankful that I still have Stephie, we're mostly healthy, and we have a roof over our heads, but c'mon!
     Now the year that Alasdair, the announcer for Pseudopod, refers to as "the dumpster fire that was 2016" is over, and things are looking up. I'm working, Stephie's feeling a little better, and we're talking about adopting another dog in the spring, after the winter slop is done. I'm optimistic about 2017, and I hope you are, too. Happy New Year!



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