Saturday, December 31, 2016

December 2016 1se

Here's the 1 second everyday video for the last month of 2016:

video

And, taking a page from Steph, here's how the videos breakdown:

1. Xmas decorations put up in the house.
2. Me combing my hair out.
3. Ori
4. Silas & Irina after the Seussical show
5. Jury duty day 1 (outside the courthouse)
6. Jury duty day 2 (inside the courthouse, on the 17th floor)
7. First day of wearing the Santa hat
8. Kids watching A Christmas Story
9. Driving around looking at xmas lights
10. At Seussical, a few of the things to be auctioned off.
11. At Seussical, as the crew was doing strike
12. Spaghetti dinner that I overcooked.
13. homemade ornaments
14. gingerbread houses
15. the day we put up our tree
16. Silas & Irina making a youtube video
17. lunch with my sister and Sherry
18. holiday party, with the kids unwrapping the plastic wrap ball of candy
19. Abed
20. pizza at work
21. candelight dinner in celebration of the solstice
22. coworkers posing in the lobby
23. buying groceries??
24. opening pjs on xmas eve
25. xmas day!
26. playing zombie dice
27. being shot at with dart guns
28. buying more groceries (and the checkout machine telling me to not forget my change)
29. recycling the xmas tree
30. rainbow outside of work
31. all the spare change I found over the year (grand total of 4.13)

2016 movies

In 2015 I watched 68 movies - this year I clocked in with 64 (and a mini-series documentary). We'll see how 2017 turns out.

 1)      San Andreas – it wasn’t 2 hours of The Rock punching an earthquake, which is what I wanted, but it was close enough, I guess.

2)      Awaken  - I figured I’d start watching random Netflix movies, alphabetically. This was the “A” title, and it was pretty dumb. About a group of people who kidnap random strangers and place them on a deserted island so that they can be harvested for their organs for dying rich people. Just a mindless D-grade action flick. Darryl Hannah was in it, though. And Edward Furlong. Not that either of them made it any better.
3)      Making a Murderer – not a ‘movie’, per se, but figured this was worth a mention. This was a 10 hour documentary series about Steven Avery (and his family), a guy who lives in Wisconsin, who in 1985 was falsely arrested for a sexual assault. 18 years later, DNA evidence proving he didn’t commit the crime set him free. He then decided to sue the police department for millions. While that was going into effect…Steven Avery was arrested for the murder of a local woman. The whole series was pro-Avery, so was a little frustrating in not giving the whole story. However, the takeaway from the whole thing is that this man (and his nephew) most certainly DID NOT get a fair trial.  So many instances of straight up corruption and just absolute sickening what was done to Steven’s nephew, Brendan.  The fact that his (obviously) coerced confession was sufficient enough to grant him a conviction is chilling to think about.
4)      AntMan – This was sort of the first Iron Man movie …with ants. And I’m fine with that. So much fun.
5)      Justice League: Gods and Monsters – Animated flick about an alternate universe wherein the Justice League (Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman) are much much more brutal than what we are used to. It was mildly entertaining, but in the end, since it wasn’t “our” world, it was hard to really care about the story. Definitely the most violent of the Warner Bros animation movies I’ve seen.
6)      Seeking a Friend for the End of the World – This was really quite good. A comedy/drama about an asteroid on the way to earth, and how people deal with it. Steve Carrell and Kiera Knightley were great, and it had a good mix of comedy and pathos. Nice little gem.
7)      Final Girl – Horrible. The premise, while simple, could have worked, but the execution was …just plain bad. A group of college frat boys have a club where they pick up random girls, take them to the woods, and then “hunt” them. Abigail Breslin stars as Veronica, who was trained to fight by a guy who wanted revenge since they killed his wife and daughter. She then becomes the bait, and when they go to the woods, she hunts and kills them. Waste of time.
8)      The Final Girls – Not a sequel to Final Girl. Instead, this was a fun ‘horror’ movie that was in the vein of Cabin in the Woods and Tucker & Dale vs. Evil. Before Max’s mother died in a car accident, she was an actress, whose biggest claim to fame was being in the cult classic “Camp Bloodbath” from the 80s. Due to magic, at a screening of the film, Max and her friends wind up IN the movie as it’s taking place. Max gets to reunite with her mom, and lots of lampshade hanging occurs with regard to slasher-flicks. Pretty clever, and an enjoyable time.
9)      Cooties – A more or less by-the-numbers zombie flick, where the ‘twist’ is that all of the infected are children at a school. The teachers are the survivors. It’s neither as funny nor as clever as it thinks it is, sadly. I don’t know how it could have been improved, but I was disappointed in what was presented, which is sad, because the cast was composed of people I like in other things: Elijah Wood, Riann Wilson (Dwight from The Office), Jack McBrayer (Kenneth from 30 Rock), and Jorge Garcia (Hugo from Lost) were all in this, so it seems like it *should* have been better. There were a few lines that made me laugh, but overall this was just sort of dull.
10)  Minions – This was okay, had a few good laughs.
11)  Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse – sigh. I think I’m going to give up on comedy-horror for a while, it’s been really difficult to find anything worth watching. Out of the trio of scouts, I loathed one of them and found the other two difficult to be sympathetic toward. I don’t think it was the intention of the filmmakers to be rooting for the zombies, but I was.
12)  The Martian -  Very faithful adaptation of the book (at least as far as I can remember), and the book was a fun popcorn read, so this was a fun popcorn flick.
13)  The World’s End – This should have worked – I greatly enjoyed Shaun of the Dead and was mostly amused by Hot Fuzz – but it somehow didn’t quite gel for me. I loved the seriousness of the themes of growing older and friendship and living up to one’s potential (or not!) and I kinda liked the sci-fi-ness of the Blanks, and I would think that combining the two would result in just my sort of movie (I am a huge sucker for genre-blending), but, again, it fell a little short. Maybe I should give it a rewatch at some point to see if it improves my outlook.
14)  The Secret Life of Walter Mitty – a perfectly “okay” movie. Ben Stiller stars as Walter Mitty, who has a very active imagination, but not a very active real life. When his job at Life Magazine is put in jeopardy, he finally gets active in order to track down an elusive final cover photo. This had moments that were great. For the most part, though it was just kinda there. Nothing bad, but nothing really stood out, either.
15)  This is 40 – not a lot of plot, but that’s okay, because the jokes were nonstop, and very very funny.
16)  Wet Hot American Summer – I’d avoided this for a long time, mostly because I thought it was a corny 80s teen movie. Turns out it was a hilarious spoof of corny 80s teen movies! Not every joke landed, but enough of them did to make this absolutely work for me. Good times.
17)  American Ultra – This was sort of a more adult version of the show “Chuck”.  Jesse Eisenberg was Mike, a stoner dude who has anxiety attacks anytime he tries to leave his home town. Turns out he’s actually part of a CIA project to develop a superweapon. We’ve seen this story plenty of times, so don’t expect anything truly unpredictable, but it was still a perfectly enjoyable film.
18)  People Places Things – this was a great rom-com. Jemaine Clement (from Flight of the Conchords) stars as Will, a graphic novelist & art teacher who separates from his wife (Stephanie Allynne). The movie focuses on Will’s life as he tries to move on.  Absolutely a great undiscovered gem.
19)  Goodnight Mommy – a German thriller/horror movie that suckered me in with a creepy trailer. It’s about a single mother of twin boys who recently had reconstructive surgery on her face. The trailer made it seem like it was going to focus on whether the woman under the bandages is actually still the boys’ mom. Instead, it focused on the boys, and the …reveal (calling it a “twist” is simply an insult to actual twist endings) which was telegraphed from literally the first two minutes.  Sadly, a mediocre movie that didn’t live up to its promise.
20)  Pee Wee’s Big Holiday – It was great to have a new Pee Wee movie! This didn’t live up to Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, but it was absolutely in the same vein, and well worth the time.  Now let me let you let me go. LATTIHTBG. Heheheh.
21)  Flypaper – two gangs of bank robbers – one a trio of professionals, one a pair of bumbling morons – decide to rob the same bank  at the same time. They opt to work together – grudgingly. (The pros are after the vault money, the amateurs want the ATM cash) The hostages, however, wind up throwing monkey wrenches into both plans. This wasn’t a very good movie, but it had potential. It’s just that the ‘jokes’ were for the most part, very lame, and the’ twists’ were telegraphed very early. Pretty forgettable.
22)  Trainwreck – I had high hopes for this, but sadly they weren’t really met. A large percentage of the jokes just didn’t work for me, which is extra disappointing, considering how much I like Amy Schumer and Bill Hader in other things that I’ve seen them in. Oddly, it seemed that a lot of the second-tier characters were a lot funnier than the leads. John Cena was hilarious, Lebron James was too. And Amy’s boss. (None of Amy’s coworkers were that funny) Jokes aside, the movie itself was more or less just a regular romantic comedy (although a bit long. It easily could have been 20 or 30 minutes shorter). It wasn’t a bad movie, just not as funny/compelling as I had hoped.
23)  The Hunger Games –Mockingjay part 2 – More or less by the numbers YA adaptation. The pacing was kinda weird in bits, scenes seemed to jump from one thing to another pretty quickly, which is weird, since they split this into two movies to begin with. It seemed that this would have been somewhat confusing for anyone who had not read the books.  Certain scenes were very well done, though.
24)  Hush – thriller about a deaf woman who lives alone in the woods and is terrorized by a killer in a mask.  Was okay.
25)  The Gift – Simon and his wife get stalked by a ‘weirdo’ from Simon’s past. Turns out there’s a reason behind the weirdo’s weirdness.  Was better than expected (mostly due to the acting).
26)  The Hateful Eight – Tarantino movies are always watchable, if nothing else. I don’t think I actually *liked* this movie, but I’m not sure if you’re meant to.
27)  Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens – Yeah, it was basically a retelling of the original Star Wars, but I’m more than okay with that. This was what a Star Wars movie should be.
28)  Knock Knock –Keanu Reeves is a middle-aged dad home alone while his wife & kids are out at a beach. Two young women show up on his doorstep in the pouring rain. He lets them in and calls them an Uber driver. They have 45 minutes until the ride gets there. They begin to seduce him. This was pure cinematic fast food. Mildly enjoyable, but not really good for you. The first half of the movie was actually pretty tense, but got more and more ridiculous as it went on.
29)  Z for Zachariah – post apocalyptic love triangle! Good acting, not much story. It’s based on a YA novel, apparently. Maybe I’ll seek that out and read it.
30)  The Revenant – visually, it was beautiful. Mostly, it made me extremely relieved that I live in modern times.
31)  Deadpool – Somewhat funny (loved Colossus, most of the meta-jokes, and the 4th wall breaking; could have done with less of the ‘shocking to be shocking’ sex jokes (or if they’d been funnier, maybe?) but overall, it was pretty enjoyable.
32)  The Witch – extremely creepy and sad. Watching this Colonial family tear itself apart was heartbreaking and compelling at the same time. And the ending …absolutely chilling.
33)  Krampus – uneven, but decent. The monsters were really  creepy looking. The ending was kinda meh.
34)  Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory – WE are the music makers, and WE are the dreamers of dreams. Willy Wonka is the best. Good day, sir!
35)  Zootopia -  The sloths were very funny. Visually this was amazing, and the world was absolutely fully developed, and the characters were too. Overall, pretty great. I did find it seemed to be a little bit long, but that might have been due to me being tired after a very long day when we were watching it.
36)  Zoolander 2 – Sufficiently funny. We probably didn’t NEED a sequel to Zoolander, but since we got one anyway, I’m glad that it wasn’t completely awful, like, say, the Dumb and Dumber one was. Sure, there were cringey parts, but there were also enough bits that made me laugh out loud. And, you know, if Stiller and Owen want to make a third Zoolander in another 15 years, I’d probably be down with that, too.
37)  Whiskey Tango Foxtrot – not a laugh riot, and not a great drama, a weird mixture of the two, and it basically worked. Tina Fey stars in the true story of Kim Baker, a reporter from New York who gets sent to Afghanistan in 2003 to cover the ongoing mess that is there. Personal growth and culture clash ensue.
38)  The Boy – slow burn character study of a 9 year old future sociopath. It was slow, and a little bit predictable (not the least bit helped by the cover of the dvd giving away the climax/ending), but still quite compelling. There were a few parts where Ted (the 9 year old boy) was being attacked/hurt by others that were extremely hard to watch, even knowing it was fake. Supposedly this is the first in a planned trilogy, following Ted as he grows up. I’d be down to see the other movies, if they’re as intriguing as this one was.
39)  Midnight Special – bleh. I like Michael Shannon but he’s not enough to save this dreck. (Oh, Kirsten Dunst was in this, too, although she’s given even less to do [and the movie doesn’t bother to pass the BEchdel test. Sigh.]) It starts compelling – a dad and his friend are on the run from a religious cult and the government because they’ve kidnapped the dad’s son. The boy has powers, and needs to get to a location across the country by a certain date. Unfortunately, there’s too much ambiguity and unanswered questions about the nature of the boy’s powers, and, none of the family members have any chemistry with one another. Plus, there was never any doubt that the boy would make it to where he was going. The whole movie felt like a really cool first or second draft, but needed to be polished up some more to be really remarkable. 
40)  The Angry Birds Movie – mildly better than I had anticipated. Had a few lines that made me chuckle (although writing this the day after viewing it, I don’t remember any of them…).
41)  The Lobster – really weird. I don’t know if I liked it or not, although I am leaning towards not.
42)  The Boy – a different “the Boy” than #38. This one was about an American nanny (Lauren Cohen who plays Maggie on The Walking Dead) who is hired by rich eccentric English folks to watch their “boy”, Brahms. Turns out that Brahms is actually a porcelain doll that they treat as though is living. There is backstory, and twists, and jumpscares, and it’s all very PG-13. Like most “horror” movies, it feels like it potentially could have been very creepy, but falls short. Oh well.
43)  Air – meh. Daryll from Walking Dead, and Djimon Hounsou are in a bunker at the end of the world, watching over a bunch of cryogenically (sorta) sleeping people who are humanity’s chance at rebuilding. The acting was decent, but the plot and writing… not so much. Maybe would have worked as a short story in print, but as a film was a waste of time.
44)  Keanu – Key and Peele make a movie about a couple of nerds who get sucked into the gang-world in search of the world’s cutest kitten. Not all the jokes worked (most of them, actually felt clichéd) but it was still a very fun enjoyable movie.
45)  Popstar Never Stop Never Stopping – a mockumentary focusing on Conner 4Real (Andy Samberg), former member of the mega-successful boy band/rap group The Style Boyz.  This was much funnier than I was expecting it to be.
46)  Money Monster – a deranged man loses his life savings in a stock market ‘glitch’ after listening to the advice of George Clooney (who is playing a host of a financial cable show). He takes Clooney (and  the staff of the show) hostage while they are live on air. A by-the-numbers conspiracy eventually comes to light. This was okay, but nothing memorable or outstanding.
47)  Captain America: Civil War – blah de blah, more superheroes. I think I might be getting burned out on Marvel flicks. (Although, admittedly, the airport fight was pretty spectacular).
48)  Extinction – decent little zombie flick with Matthew Fox. It was okay. Nothing great, but I’ve seen way worse. The last third kinda devolved into typical shoot ‘em up nonsense, but I was involved enough to finish watching it.
49)  10 Cloverfield Lane – creepy John Goodman, nice ambiguity for the first 2/3rds of the movie about what was REALLY going on, and the protagonist was a smart, capable, and kick-ass woman. I sort of wish it didn’t have the “cloverfield” tie in, because it didn’t really connect with the previous movie, and I felt like this should have (and could have) stood on its own. Either way, this was a pretty great little thriller.
50)  Swiss Army Man – hmm. Daniel Radcliffe plays a corpse named Manny who befriends Hank, a guy who is stranded on a deserted island and very lonely. Manny and Hank help each other learn to love and accept each other, and life, thru the power of farts and erections. It was definitely an ODD movie. I just don’t know if I really liked it.
51)   Batman v Superman Dawn of Justice – I was expecting to hate this based on all the negative reviews it received; and, sure, it was overlong, incoherent, and very very grimdark… but it kinda worked? I mean, parts of it. Ben Affleck is probably my favorite Batman/Bruce Wayne now. And Henry Cavill looks like Superman, I guess. Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor was just ¯\_()_/¯ both in his performance and in terms of what his character was doing, but whatevs. It was a Zach Snyder murder-verse action superhero flick. You get what you get.
52)   X-Men: Apocalypse – forgettable, enjoyable popcorn.
53)  Ghostbusters (2016) – oh, wow, my childhood wasn’t ruined! Freaking idiots online, I swear. This wasn’t the greatest movie ever made, but, then, neither was the original. (yeah, I said it.) The Fall Out Boy cover of the Ghostbusters theme was horrid, though. And the trailers actually showed the worst jokes of the thing!
54)  The Purge: Election Year – ridiculous, but marginally entertaining. (although the margin is shrinking with each installment)
55)  Kick Ass – Rewatch. Such a great superhero flick.
56)  A Christmas Story – movie equivalent of comfort food.
57)  Star Trek Beyond – latest in the rebooted Star Trek series, and not a bad installment. I think Trek still works best as a tv series, but this felt like an episode of Trek, blown up (heh) to movie-size, so god job, everyone.
58)  Sausage Party – about as funny, shocking, and entertaining as an episode of South Park. (actually the kitchen scene was worth the price of admission [um. Free. Because I got this from the library], so, 3 minutes out of a 90 minute movie…)
59)  Morgan – Morgan is a homegrown half-human, half…something else. The scientists who grew and raised her are being evaluated by corporate. Things go badly. You know, it would be super awesome if movies stopped relying solely on twists. I didn’t even know that there was going to be a twist to this, but once it became evident, it really dampened my enjoyment.
60)  Central Intelligence – The Rock stars as an extremely goofy CIA agent with Kevin Hart as his reluctant sidekick. Not much was funny, but the few bits that were good were due to The Rock. The dude can be pretty hilarious.
61)  Finding Dory – meh. It looked pretty, but this just had a unnecessary sequel feel to it. Sorry, Pixar. You’ve done better in the past.
62)  Goat – Can there be masculinity that ISN’T toxic? God, I hate our species sometimes.
63)  Ordinary World – despite being predictable and not really great, I found this movie about Billie Joe Armstrong (from Green Day) being a dad facing a mid-life crisis kind of adorkable.
64)  Yoga Hosers – so. Un.funny. UGH. This was a ‘sequel’ to Tusk, which I viewed last year, and while that wasn’t great, it was at least unique and bizarre enough to recommend to others. THIS was just garbage. In Tusk Johnny Depp’s  character was the worst thing to happen to it. In this movie, he’s actually the best thing. Hands down, this is the worst movie I’ve seen this year.
65)  Don’t Breathe – quite good. I could have done without the sexual violence scare, but this was a unique thriller that didn’t focus on gore and while it had events happen that stretched believability, it was overall an entertaining little flick.

Upon rereading these, it looks like a LOT of the movies I watched were either bad, or just passable. I need to seek out better films to watch, I think.

2016 books

Another year comes to an end, so it's time to look back at the books and movies I consumed in 2016, as well as calculate all the spare change I acquired along the way.

Books first. It wasn't a great year for reading for me, because school got in the way, so there hasn't been as much spare time to read for pleasure. I wound up only reading 28 books this year, and a number of those were graphic novels. Still, I suspect that's higher than the average American citizen accomplishes, so I still can maintain some sense of superiority.
As always, the final sentence of the book is in parenthesis after my review, with all of it whited-out other than the final word. So, beware of spoilers, I guess.

1)      The Man From Primrose Lane by James Renner – A nice and confusing murder mystery that at about the half-way point took a HUGE left turn, that simultaneously cleared up a lot of the confusion, and doubled down on how much confusion there was. (David poured another finger of scotch and sipped at it as they looked out at all the stars of the Milky Way above.)

2)      K-PAX III  the worlds of prot by Gene Brewer -  I had read the first K-PAX novel years ago, thought it was okay. Then I read the sequel, and I have absolutely no memory of it. Stumbled across the ‘final book of the prot trilogy’ (and also discovered that there are two more books following this one) and figured, “eh, why not?”. This was really REALLY poorly written. None of the characters were developed (calling them one dimensional would be a stretch) and there was no plot.  I forced myself thru it, because I have completionist tendencies, I guess. Not recommended. (Rather, I see us, the galaxy, and even the universe itself as a tiny part of the wisdom, beauty, and mystery of God.)
3)      Bird Box by Josh Malerman – much better. Very quick, very tense read. Mallory finds herself pregnant just as reports start pouring in that *something* is out there that is causing people to turn homicidal/suicidal simply by viewing it. Mallory and a group of survivors lock themselves in a house with the windows covered. Any time they need to go out of the house, they have to don blindfolds. The story takes place  between when Mallory first arrived at the house, and 4 years later, when she  decides to take her children out into the world to find a place that she believes is safe. Yes, they have to travel blindfolded.  This was a great creepy little book that I really enjoyed. (Or alone.)
4)      Brilliance by Marcus Sakey – In this alternate universe, starting in 1980, for unknown reasons, 1% of the population began to be born with heightened brainpower. These “brilliants” (or “abnorms” or “twists”) were just like you and me, but …better. They’re able to see patterns that you and I aren’t – can tell if a person is lying simply by reading body language, for example. Or appear to be invisible, simply by knowing where to walk where a person won’t be looking. Naturally these don’t sit well with some of the “Normals” who feel that the Brilliants will make them obsolete in a generation or two. So society sets up safeguards to keep the Brilliants in check: all children are tested at age 8. Any child that ranks as a “tier one” Brilliant is taken from their family and sent to a special academy which will supposedly help train the Brilliant use their abilities for good. Because not all the Brilliants are good people, of course. A Brilliant named John Smith massacred 73 innocent men, women, and children, including a prominent Senator,  in broad daylight, and then simply avoided capture. A special agency (the DAR… I forget what the acronym stands for now) is created to keep tabs on the Brilliants and to track down and capture John Smith. Our protagonist, Nick Cooper, is an agent of the DAR. He’s also a Brilliant that can read body language.  Whew. That’s a LOT of setup. This was a fun rollercoaster with a lot of action and some really intriguing questions about how society should (and does) react to threats  (real and perceived). But it wasn’t perfect. I predicted a turn of  the plot VERY early, and was disappointed when it turned out to be true. And the book ended with “END OF BOOK ONE” There was NO indication on the outside that this was going to be a series (I’ve since done research, found that it’s a trilogy) This was more-or-less a standalone, but it did set things up for books 2 and 3, so I may be reading some more of this series in the near future. (For a little while, at least.)
5)      Fellside by M.R. Carey – Jess Moulson is a junkie who attempts to murder her live-in boyfriend (and drug provider) by setting their apartment on fire. The fire doesn’t kill him, but does claim the life of a 10 year old boy (Alex) who lived upstairs from them. Jess is sent to Fellside, a maximum security women’s prison as a result. While there, she gets visited by the ghost of  Alex. This was compelling and unique and overall just a great read. While a lot of the characters were involved in unpleasant activities (it IS a prison, after all), all of them were multi-faceted and interesting people. And the ghost realm was fascinating.  Highly recommended read. (And keep saying your name until she comes.)
6)      The Orion Plan by Mark Alpert – This started out rather intriguing – an asteroid heading towards earth is noticed pretty late in the game, but it doesn’t impact, instead it drops off a satellite that begins burrowing itself into the ground. Neat little twist on the alien invasion/first contact trope. But once the satellite started infecting various characters with nanotechnology and having conversations with them by impersonating their dead children and/or the Lord… yeah. Kinda went off the rails. I finished it out of the perverse desire to see how it all ended up, not because I cared about anyone things were happening to. Wish I hadn’t. (And then Joe Graham, the man who helped her save the world, walked out of the park.)
7)      Quantum Night by Robert J. Sawyer – there are three types of people in the world: Those who think of others, those who only think of themselves (psychopaths), and those who don’t think at all. In Sawyer’s book, a method is devised to determine what category you fall into. Very interesting thought-experiment, although most of the characters and the plot itself were pretty thin. But I don’t care. Sawyer is one of my favorite authors, his books always get me thinking, and this one was no different. (But they would think of something.)
8)      Every Anxious Wave by Mo Daviau –  What a great little book! All about bartender and ex-rock star Karl Bender, his brilliant but unhappy friend Wayne, and also brilliant and unhappy Lena Guduldig. Karl discovers a wormhole in his closet that allows one to time travel into the past. With Wayne’s help, he sets it up so that you can choose when and where to travel back to. They then start charging friends to go back and see past rock concerts. (LOL! Awesome idea for time travel!!) Wayne decides that he wants to prevent the murder of John Lennon in 1980, but Karl accidently sends him to 980, and that’s when he recruits Lena (she’s an astrophysicist) to help bring Wayne back to the present.  This novel was funny, unique, and touching. Recommended. (My 980 was this crumbled city, gauzy sky and gray water, and my family’s heads bobbing above the surface, breathing, me holding on to them so they wouldn’t float away.)
9)      This is a Book by Demetri Martin by Demetri Martin – light funny read. Not every bit worked, but there were plenty of laugh out loud moments, especially near the beginning. (The End)
10)   Chew Vol 10 Blood Pudding – The series is wrapping things up, but sadly seems to be losing a lot of its charm while doing so. Chew is still fun overall, and there are some great gags throughout, but the showdown between Tony and the Collector turned out to be a bit anticlimactic. There were hints thrown that there are still threats on the horizon – and there’s at least one more volume to go -  but I’m just hoping that the finale is something that measures up to the better parts of the series. (Good.)
11)   My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix – Abby & Gretchen are best friends after they meet at Abby’s birthday party in 3rd grade in 1982. In 1988, Abby, Gretchen, and their two other friends (Glee and Margaret) drop some acid, and as a result, Gretchen gets lost in the woods for a while. While she was missing, it turns out that she got herself possessed by a demon. (Or did she?) The relationship between the foursome is tested by Gretchen’s personality and behavior changes, and they do not all emerge unscathed. The book was a lot of fun (much like Ready Player One, this was overflowing with 80s nostalgia. It really was like being transported back in time. There were things mentioned in this book I haven’t thought of/remembered for literally decades, but it brought it all back.). I felt that the demonic aspect could have been made less ambiguous to begin with, and I felt like the adults wouldn’t have ALL been so dismissive of the obvious (although, to be fair, it was a horror story. Adults are ALWAYS like that in horror stories), but those are minor complaints. This was a pretty light breezy fun read that ended up being remarkably touching in the end. Or, as the book blurb put it best, “A heartwarming story about friendship and demonic possession.” (But they tried.)
12)   The Fireman by Joe Hill –If The Stand and Firestarter had a baby, it would probably be The Fireman. There was a lot that was enjoyable in this, but there were quite a bit of eye-roll-inducing parts, too. The tie-ins to Mary Poppins and Harry Potter were clunky. And while I appreciated the nod here and there to The Stand, the part where we find out Harper’s middle name was a bit too much. There’s clever, and then there’s not. Ya know? Also, I think that this didn’t need to be QUITE as long as it was. At nearly 800 pages, it certainly was EPIC, but honestly, losing a hundred pages or so might have helped. Anyway. The story – a spore (which got more and more magical abilities as time went on) infects people, and it causes them to spontaneously combust. Society reacts poorly. Certain people find that being infected with “Dragonscale” doesn’t have to be a death sentence, though. If you’re able to control the spore, it can be quite beneficial. Overall, a pretty good read.  Joe Hill is a heckuva writer, and abso-freaking-lutely a geek, so I’m grateful for having the opportunity to visit his worlds. Even if he’s burning them down. (“No one loves a show-off, Caius,” Elaina warned him, but her smile suggested she didn’t mean it.)
13)   The Walking Dead vol 25 No Turning Back – Since the “All Out War” story arc, and the timejump, this series has become very interesting, in a whole new way. The zombies are no longer the main focus, and no longer the biggest threat (not that they ever truly were, it was always our inability to get along with others that caused the greatest damages), so the story has focused more on the rebuilding of society and the different struggles that brings with it. It’s been interesting. This volume was a slow burn, with not a whole lot actually happening, but a lot of setting things up for future events. Maybe this is being done while the writer’s figure out WHAT they want to happen, but for now, at least, I’m highly intrigued, which is a good thing. (Atta boy.)
14)   Chew Vol 11 The Last Suppers – MUCH better than the previous volume. I laughed out loud several times again, and was even surprised by certain turns of events. There’s only one volume of Chew left to go, but it certainly looks like it’s going to go out on a high note, which makes me quite happy. (Eat me)
15)   End of Watch by  Stephen King – the Bill Hodges/Brady Hartsfield trilogy wraps up, with things getting extremely supernatural in this outing. Very quick read, and very enjoyable. It may have been the best of the trilogy. Maybe. (They leave Fairlawn and walk back into the world together.)
16)   Invader Zim Vol. 1 by Jhonen Vasquez – ZIIIIIIIIIMMMM!!!! Oh, this was a treasure. Invader Zim was a cartoon on Nickelodeon back in the early 2000s. It was bizarre, disgusting, and very very funny. The show in a nutshell: Zim is an alien banished to earth by his leaders (The Tallest). Zim’s sole purpose is to take over the earth. He’s “assisted” in this goal with the help of his robot, GIR, who is prone to non-sequiturs, exploding, and waffles. GIR is the best. Fortunately for the sake of humanity, Zim is not very good at his job. But even if he were, he’s thwarted by his nemesis, Dib. Dib is the only human who sees thru Zim’s façade as a human. (Well, Dib’s sister, Gaz, does, too, but she doesn’t care.) Dib and Zim are a lot like the roadrunner and coyote, only, way way more insane. Anyway. The cartoon is amazing. And now it’s back, in comic book form! And it really is like holding a few episodes of the show in your hands. The voices were all spot on, and the artwork is just as mind-bending, and the humor absolutely worked just as well. I laughed many times during the reading of this, and it was only a few dozen pages long. So thrilled to have Invader Zim back. The only downside was having finished it so quickly. That made me sad. To quote GIR, “YAAAAAAY!!! Sadness!!!!!” Highly recommended to all Earth beings. (Cheater!)
17)   Harrow County, Vol. 1 Countless Haints by Cullen Bunn – a graphic novel about a witch named Hester who was burned and hung by the townspeople of Harrow County. While dying, Hester promised that she would return at some point. 18 years later, Emmy begins to exhibit some disturbing signs (the ability to heal herself and sick calves, constant nightmares, oh, and a talking skin suit that she keeps in her bag.) The townsfolk figure out that Hester has returned as Emmy, and decide she needs a’killin’.  Before they can succeed, Emmy winds up semi-embracing her Hesterness  and warns them that if they TRY to kill her, she’s going to take them out with her. This was a lot of setup for story to come, I’m assuming, and for a large part of it, the characters just felt flat and uninteresting. Near the end, though, I had warmed up to it a little, and I’ll stick with the series for a bit longer. (The city… the world… all of it.) 
18)   Disappearance at Devil’s Rock  by Paul Tremblay – Tommy, barely fourteen, is out with his friends, Josh and Luis, when he disappears. The novel showcases the fallout on Tommy’s family, and his friends, and the community at large as more and more secrets are discovered. This was not quite a supernatural thriller, but it kinda skirted the genre, I guess. It was very effective, and very emotional. I admit to tearing up a few times (having a child disappear has to be the #1 fear of every parent on the planet) and the ending gave me legit goosebumps. Highly recommended. (Elizabeth unfolds the pages and starts to read.)
19)   Sex Criminals, vol. 1: One Weird Trick by Matt Fraction – Suzie has a pretty special power. Whenever she has an orgasm, time stops (for everyone but her). Suzie gets into her twenties, doing twenty-something stuff, figuring out bits and pieces of her power, and just living life. She works as a librarian, but is facing a foreclosure from the bank (which happens to be where her father worked before he was murdered years ago). At a party one night, Suzie meets Jon, they hit it off, and that’s how Suzie discovers that she’s not the only one with the ability to go into The Quiet. Jon and Suzie decide to commit a ‘victimless’ crime of stealing the money to pay off the bank FROM the bank. And they would have gotten away with it too, except for the Sex Police. This was a very unique (and funny! Oh, and very adult-themed) graphic novel, and I’m looking forward to reading more volumes.  (Like a couple of criminals.)
20)   How To Ruin Everything (Essays) by George Watsky – I discovered the rapper Watsky a few weeks ago, and became a little obsessed. His spoken word and raps are by turn humorous, insightful, and amazing. When I found out he had written a book of essays, I checked it out from the library. Sadly, while the power of his words is evident, the magic didn’t quite translate from hearing him rap to reading him write. There were some great bits, but the overall book didn’t quite land for me. I’d happily read anything else he puts out, and I’ll continue to follow his career, this one was just not as ‘knocked-it-out-of-the-park’ as his albums were. (So if anybody asks, tell them three city kids threw an epic concert down at the beach, there was a pyrotechnic malfunction but no one was hurt too bad, and it was even better than if the show had gone according to plan because the band just laughed and played on – one encore after another, after another.)
21)   Everything is Teeth by Evie Wyld – a graphic novel memoir about Evie growing up as a young girl in Australia, where her whole life is filtered thru her obsession (and fear) of sharks. The artwork was amazing, but the memoir …less so. Quick read, but mostly forgettable. (An inhalation of breath.)
22)   Romeo and/or Juliet: A Chooseable-Path Adventure by Ryan North (and William Shakespeare) – I didn’t read the WHOLE thing, but this was amazing. Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet retold in a choose your own adventure manner. And it was hilarious, too. Depending on how you decide the story should go, you can have Romeo and Juliet never meet (the very first path I chose had her meeting a man named Yolo (hehe!!) and winding up a pirate!), you can have sidequests with Juliet’s nurse, and there’s even OTHER Shakespeare plays as chooseable-path books within this one. This book was a lot of fun. You should definitely buy it, instead of getting it from the library. It’s just better that way. ;) I’m not going to have a ‘last sentence’ for this one, since there were multiple endings. But, this was one of the highlights of the year.
23)   Harrow County, Vol 2 Twice  Told Tales by Cullen Bunn – ehhh. The artwork is still the best thing about this series. This volume brought in a twin sister for Emmy, who turned out to be evil, and also dealt with much too quickly. There’s no real passion in the story. It’s just kind of ..there. I don’t think I’ll be continuing with the series. (Both those who had sided with Kammi and those who had defended Emmy scurried back to the grave… the place where all dead things lurk... dreaming of the time when they might live again.)
24)   I Hate Fairyland, Volume 1: Madly Ever After by Skottie Young – Super gory & psychotic artwork (think Ren & Stimpy style, but taken up a notch) but the story is extremely one-note, and it got old quick. In this, eight year old Gert is sucked into the magical “Fairyland”. She meets the queen (it’s extremely derivative of the start of Wizard of Oz) who tells her to return home she needs to find the key. 27 years later, Gert has not found the key, and she HATES Fairyland, and all its inhabitants. She still looks eight years old, but has aged mentally into a cynical, violent, bitter woman. Anyone who gets in her path toward finding the key is typically killed violently. Ha ha ha, it’s funny because she looks like a kid, I guess. I won’t be reading any more of this. (Upon the death of the king or queen the one who deals the fatal blow must take up the crown and become the queen of fluffing Fairyland.)
25)   We Stand on Guard by Brian K. Vaughn – another graphic novel. This one set about a hundred years from now, where the US has invaded our neighbors to the north. A few renegades fight back. The artwork was great, and it was a quick read, and it was nice to have something that was a stand-alone story, and not going to be an ongoing series. Overall, though, there wasn’t a lot of a point. I mean, the story was okay, but it wasn’t earth-shattering or anything. Just an “okay” book in the end. (We’re all right here.)
26)   HEX by Thomas Olde Heuvelt – Really creepy, and unique. About a witch who has some elements of a ghost (she can teleport herself to various parts of the town she appears to be stuck in). (Steve Grant picked up the needle and the catgut, and as the thing at the door kept knocking and knocking, he started on his eyes, hoping the loneliness of the eternal darkness would offer him a bit of comfort from the cold.)
27)   Saga, volume 6 by Brian K Vaughn – Saga still looks amazing, and (most) of the characters are still enjoyable to spend time with, but… nothing really happened with this volume. Well, there was the ending, which I suspect will not end happily, because reasons. There was a lot of foreshadowing by Hazel regarding death. And the whole story does take place in the midst of an interplanetary war… so, yeah, I’m expecting that storyline to wind up a tragic one. But overall this volume felt like a lot of filler. Pretty and witty filler, but filler. (Oh.)
28)   The Walking Dead Vol 26 A Call to Arms by Robert Kirkman – It’s the Negan show, everyone. Not complaining (much) because I guess every story needs an antagonist, and Negan can be entertaining, but I do sort of want to see more of the rebuilding and how the kids (Carl and Sophia, for example, as well as the NEXT generation) really deal with this new world. But the whole leadership issues are interesting as well. It’ll be neat to see how the citizens at large react to what Negan has done, considering what Rick wouldn’t (or couldn’t) do himself… (Wait until Rick gets a look at you.)

Dinner is ready, so I'll publish this post now, and get to the movies and change momentarily.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

2 months in 60ish seconds

Back in September I got  around to joining the 21st century and got a smart phone. One of the apps I've downloaded is the 1secondeveryday app, which is pretty much what it says on the tin. You record stuff, and then trim 1 second out of each day's video. Then, when a month has gone by, you can have it compile the clips into a 30 (or 31 [or 28 or 29 for February]) second long video.

So, for the past two months, I've been recording my surroundings.

Here's October!

videoAnd November (well, October 30th - November 30th):


video

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Not Our President

So it's been a week since the Founding Fathers fucked us. It feels simultaneously longer and shorter. Time, like, oh, everything else that made sense 7 days ago, has become unreasonable and surreal. Welcome to the new reality.

I meant to blog Tuesday night, after I voted, to get my feelings out while it was happening, but it was too fresh and I spent most of Wednesday and Thursday numb and reading things and in denial (and angry) and trying to process it all. (I don't think it will ever be fully processed. And the anger is still very much present. Those 60 million wrong... ugh. Just. UGH.)

But, ya'll know this. It's been a bad week. One that, sadly, is probably going to just be the first of at the VERY least another 208 long weeks. (and, hell, that's once he actually gets signed in. fucking politics and their timetables, man. Can't anything happen quickly?)

I then meant to blog Saturday (well, Sunday, since I didn't get home Saturday night until way late, and I was exhausted beyond words at that point) but life gets in the way, and I didn't blog Monday either, and now here it is Tuesday - a full week after 5.3 percent of the US population decided to fuck over the entire planet - and I thought, well, if I don't do it now, I probably won't.
So, blogging.

I don't have any grand insights or words of wisdom or even really a plan of action for the next 4 years (+. Don't forget, the Cheeto will appoint like-minded wastes of skin onto the Supreme Court, which will impact us for DECADES), just some random P@-thoughts from the course of the past week or so.

On Saturday there was a protest here in town, and I attended. It was a largely symbolic gesture, of course, I mean, nothing is going to change (directly) as a result of me and 1000 other people walking a few miles downtown and screaming chants of "Show them what Democracy looks like. This is what Democracy looks like" or "Hey, Ho, Donald Trump has got to go", but it certainly helped my psyche (somewhat) to be a part of it.
If I can find the connector cable, I'll upload some pictures and/or videos from my phone.

The march on Saturday had a much higher turnout than the one that took place on Wednesday night (Saren attended that one, along with about 50 people total) - Vegas can be a little slow on the uptake sometimes.
Saturday's demonstration was posted on Facebook, and the turnout was much more awesome. Before I went, I had been reading thru some of the comments from the deplorables (god, they're EVERYWHERE online), but at the actual event - they weren't really there. The overwhelming majority of feedback the crowd received was positive. The entire march, I think there were maybe 4 pro-Trump assholes. One in a truck who drove past and yelled something about toilet paper. (??); An older (60s, maybe?) white guy who replied to our "Not my president" chants with "He's MY president"; a middle aged white woman (sigh) who told the crowd to "get over it", and another older white man (perhaps 50s) who said, "He won!" (To which I replied, "WE won the popular vote! We outnumber you!!" not my best moment, sure, but jesus christ, this whole thing is so irritating. Donald Trump DID. NOT. WIN.
During the march, a very popular chant that the crowd took up several times was "Not my president". (My sign even read as such.)
After the encounter with the "he's my president" dumbass, I tried (unsuccessfully, for the most part) to get people to change the chant to "Not OUR president." Because it's more inclusive of a chant, and it reinforces the fact that the majority of people did not elect him. And because he isn't our president.
He isn't fit to be ANYBODY's president. And the majority of the people don't want him, or his ideas.
I know it's a very small comfort that that's the truth, especially since it doesn't change the fact that he IS going to be sworn in, but it's been something that has kept me going through some of the harder times this week. The fact of the matter is, Trump and Pence and their ilk are on the losing side of history. The majority of people are opposed to his brand of evil.

I haven't accurately documented the march, and everything that went down that day like I wanted to, but I need to wake up early tomorrow, and I am going to just end this with a few of the videos from the protest (I was able to get them uploaded. Hooray!)

video video video

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The reasons to vote for Donald Trump

Now that all of the presidential debates have concluded, most people have made up their minds on who they are going to vote for this November.

And while anyone with any sense of empathy or intelligence or humanity whatsoever knows the reasons to NOT vote for Donald Trump, I thought I would do the fair and balanced thing, and present all the possible reasons that someone SHOULD vote for him.

It took a lot of research, and digging, and soul searching to compile all the following arguments FOR the worst person in America, but I think we can all agree that they deserve some consideration.

I realize that this may be controversial, but this is still America, and the electoral process is one that should not be entered into without considering all sides, so I guess, in a way, I'm doing my part to make America great again (heh).

Without further ado, here are ALL of the reasons that anyone should vote for Donald J. Trump for President of the United States:






















Thursday, July 21, 2016

and so are you

As Harper and I left the band members, we were both high on adrenaline, and sort of in a daze from how quickly the event had happened.

It was almost 5pm at that point, and neither of us had eaten all day. Since the concert wasn't starting until 7, we decided to find someplace in the Hard Rock where we could grab a quick bite, and then we'd get in line.
While wandering around aimlessly, we saw a woman who was eating a slice of pizza, "WHERE DID YOU GET THAT!?" I asked - which in my head was asked much more politely than I'm told it was in real life. Whether my inquiry was actually perceived as rude or not, the woman did point us in the right direction. We found the pizza place, ordered our slices, and quickly ate, ruminating on the photo session while doing so.

After we finished up, we headed back to the stage area in order to get ready for the concert. It was only 5:20 at that time, but when we got to where we would be waiting we saw that easily 300 people were already in front of us. Well, nothing we could do about that, other than get in line and wait.

Which is what we did.
While waiting we discovered that there would be two opening acts - Chef'special, and Mutemath. I had at least heard of Mutemath before (although I couldn't tell you what they sounded like or name any of their songs - but the name was one that I had seen previously in my life.) Chef'special simply made us wonder what type of food we were going to be served.
Also while waiting, we did the thing that people do in crowds. Well, there are two things that people do now. One is stare at their phones. Since I don't have a smartphone, I did the OTHER thing that people do - people watching. I'd say that 90% of the crowd was donning some sort of twenty one pilots garb. Either a shirt, or neck/hand dirt (like the band has in the Stressed Out video) or a combination of the two. There were at least three skeleton people. Twenty one pilots fans are devoted, yo.

Anyway. About half an hour had passed. Doors, supposedly, opened at 6, but at 5:50, an announcement was made by one of the teachers from Peanuts. "Wom wom wom backpack wom wom wom place in line." What was eventually translated to those of us who weren't directly in shouting distance was that security would NOT be allowing anyone with backpacks in, and that you needed to go find a place to store them, and that they would NOT be saving your spot in line.

Look. I get that security is a big thing. I get that people are crazy and do stupid things, and making sure that the artists are safe is a priority. But the way that security was handled at this show was kinda ridiculous. They really could have informed everyone of this much sooner. And not saving people's spots in line is kind of a dick move.

Fortunately, I was able to stay in line while Harper left to go where all the bags were being held by the casino. Unfortunately, the lines began to move like right after she had disappeared.
I spent the next five or six eternities waiting for her to get back, worrying that she wouldn't see where I was by the time she returned.

But, it was all good. Harper got back to the room, found me and resumed standing in line with me. We weaved our way thru the rope-lines, amazed at the amount of litter that had accrued while people had been standing there. Humans are messy.

Anyway. We eventually got in to the pit, and we joined the crowd. We wound up over on the far left side, in what would probably have been row seven, maybe? So, not too shabby.
And then came more waiting.
And more waiting.
And some more.

Harper was REALLY thirsty, and pretty upset that we weren't able to bring our water bottles in with us. I overheard some people near us talking about how bottles of water sold at the bar were 6 dollars a piece. So, sadly, Harper was going to remain thirsty.

Finally, 7:00 rolled around, and the first opening act came out. Chef'special kind of succeeded at pumping up the crowd. They had a very heavy reggae sound to them, which, okay. I mean, Blurryface (the album) definitely has reggae influences in it. But overall, they just weren't what the majority of us were wanting. I typed a text (since I couldn't talk to her and be heard) to Harper while the band was performing that read:
"Can we send the chef's special back? I didn't order it."
I feel bad about being so dismissive of them, but, you know, kinda goes with the territory of opening for a major act, right?
Anyway, they only did like 5 or 6 songs, for a total of 20 minutes on stage. So at least they knew their limits.

After they left, the stagehands came out and started setting up for Mutemath. It took like 30 minutes. (!!!)
When *THEY* came out... well, during Mutemath's performance, my text to Harper was:
"Boring. But loud."
Which... actually pretty much sums up their whole time onstage. They did get semi-interesting for a little bit near the middle, but then they got boring again. Their drummer was easily the best part of their act.

Finally Mutemath wrapped up their 'songs' (the lyrics were indecipherable for the most part) and the waiting for twenty one pilots began. Again.

This is getting WAY long, and I want to finish it up, so I'm going to hit the highlights of the concert/performance now:

  • The curtain before the show. Awesome way of allowing them to set things up/build anticipation. And then when the band finally did take the stage, the curtain just DROPPED, and it was so simple, yet so awesome.
  • Everyone. Sang. Every. Word.  At first, hearing 15000 people shout the words to Heavydirtysoul was really fricking cool. (It  began to bug me just a tiny bit near the middle/end of the concert, but I'm chalking that up to having stood on my feet for so long.)
  • When Josh and Tyler first came out, they were wearing their suits and ski masks outfits. They kept them on for a while.
  • That magic trick. Oh. My. God. (Tyler had some stagehands cover him with a black tarp while he continued to play the keyboard. And then... he was UP IN THE BALCONY.)
  • The video where Blurryface talks to Josh, telling him not to go back out, that he should stay behind, that he should give up drumming... So many feels. And then, when he ignores his doubts and comes out anyway. Pure win.
  • Tyler's story about the guy at the bar he met the day before who didn't believe he was truly Tyler was funny. The guy being in the audience was a nice payoff.
  • Tyler being held up by the front row crowd while singing "Holding On To You". Love dorky puns.
  • The human hamster ball.
  • Car Radio
  • Near the end of the set, they had the opening acts come back out, and they all 3 did covers of Twist & Shout, My Heart Will Go On, Jump Around, and Love Yourself (which I didn't recognize, but Harper told me was a Justin Bieber song). Pretty fun, and made me appreciate the opening acts more.
  • During Lane Boy we all had to duck down in order to avoid being "seen" by some guy in a hazmat suit. I didn't quite follow the narrative/reasoning behind it, but it made the song even more fun than normal.
  • At one point we left the front-ish part of where we had been (Harper was needing to get away from the crowds) and made our way back a few rows. A VERY drunk couple was in front of us at that point. They were so gross. The guy was drenched in sweat, and his girlfriend was all over him and it was just ...ugh. 
  •  There was a lot less jumping from the crowd than I would have thought. A LOT more singing. I actually thought at one point that if I see them again, I wouldn't mind having a balcony seat so I could sit down comfortably. ...I think I'm officially old.
  • They ended the show the way they end all their shows. "We are twenty one pilots. And so are you." Chills.
So, yeah.  I can't believe it's been a week already. It was a really fun time (although the waiting and security were drawbacks) and I'm extremely glad that I won the opportunity and was able to share it with my daughter.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

they are twenty one pilots

On Friday, Harper and I got to attend the twenty one pilots concert, and we also did a "meet and greet" beforehand.

It's been a few days, and I wanted to blog about the experience, but I'm extremely rusty when it comes to writing, and I'm finding it difficult to know how to start.
Perhaps the beginning?
Last October, when the press release was put out that Twenty Øne Pilots would be coming to Vegas during their Emotional Roadshow tour, I attempted (but was unable) to get free tickets to the show through a hook-up at work. (The show is being produced by AEG Live, and the salesperson who handles that account is sometimes able to acquire free tickets to shows from them. Not this time, it turned out.)
So. That was a bit of a bummer, but, you know, life goes on.
Then, last week it was announced by the (fairly) local radio station, X 107.5, that they would be giving out tickets (along with meet and greet passes) all week long.

Monday, I listened to 107 online, but that did no good, since the streaming station is actually delayed by a few minutes. So by hte time you hear them ask for people to call in and win, they've already gotten their winner.

So, Tuesday, I brought a radio in to work, and listened thru that way. The first pair of tickets that were being given away were by the morning show. At 7:21am, they took 5 callers to play 'radio blackjack'. They were then going to take 5 more callers at 8:21, and the two listeners with the best hands would be the winners.
At 7:21, I got through (!!) and was able to play. I wound up staying with a 13, which was not a great hand, but it was one of the top two from the group of five. (The first three listeners  before me all busted. The listener after me stayed with a 20.)
At that point they took my information down and told me, that while it was a long shot, if the 5 players from 8:21 all busted, or none of them got higher than a 13, I would be a winner.
I was pretty excited at that point, but not putting all my eggs in my basket.
At 8:21, the next batch of players came in, and, the very first one wound up getting 20, so I was out of the running.
I stopped listening at that point.

Later in the day, though, the mid-day DJ was also giving away tickets. And all you had to do then was be caller 10.
Somehow.... I was.

Super excited at that point, I left work early to go pick up my prize. (The radio station is like 45 minutes away from my work)
When I got home, I told Harper about it, and she was absolutely ecstatic. (She is a really big fan, so this was definitely something that she was happy about.)

The rest of the week passed, with not a whole lot of TØP related news. Oh, Thursday night we realized we didn't own an actual physical CD of theirs. (So we could have them sign it at the meet-n-greet) Part of the drawback to the digital age. Almost all our music is now just files. And how do you have artists sign those?
Anyway, we drove down to Target to remedy that, but Target was sold out of twenty one pilots cds (from their incredibly small cd selection). Wal-mart was also out. And best buy was closed by the time we got there. So we STILL don't own any of their cds.
But we figured, worst case scenario, we could buy something at the meet-n-greet for them to sign.

Finally, Friday rolls around. Day of the show. Oh. I should mention that the papers for the meet-n-greet said to be at the Hard Rock at 3:45pm.
Fridays at my job are SUPER busy, so I was a little bit stressed out about being able to finish everything up in time to be able to make it there on time. But i'm getting ahead of myself.

So, yeah, Friday rolls around. I woke up at 5, and got in to work around 6. Blah de blahd, and busted my butt in order to be able to leave work by 2. The radio station called me around noon, to confirm that i was going, and also to get the name of my 'plus one', because they said that security for the band was being 'extra tight'. (Foreshadowing!)

I left work at 2:10, drove home, and changed my shirt. I don't own any TØP shirts like Harper does, and I felt like all my t-shirts were pretty lame, but wound up going with my ghostbusters one, because, eh, why not. And also 'cuz the new one opened that day.
Harper was wearing her newest twentyonepilots shirt - the red one we got her for her birthday. She had her hair done up and looked pretty awesome. She had a huge grin on her face. She had created a piece of art with the twenty one pilots logo on a piece of cardboard type thing, with "stay alive" printed on it, and she had a red and black sharpie so that we could have the band autograph it. We were pretty much all set. Harper had Steph's camera in her bag, and her phone.
I googled up how to get to the Hard Rock (I've been there before, but I'm not good with directions), and it said that it would take 42 minutes with traffic to get there. It was a few minutes before 3 when we left, so I knew we were cutting it close.
I took a wrong turn on the way (shoulda stayed in my lane boy), which set us back a few minutes more, and also made me extremely upset. But, we wound up getting to the hard rock, and parked at 3:44. We ran thru the parking lot and the casino until we found where we needed to go - there was already a long line of people. We spoke with someone at the box office, who directed us to the line, and we waited.
And waited.

And waited some more.

While waiting, Harper taught me how to use her phone for the pictures, and we discovered that Steph's camera didn't have the memory card in it. :( But at least I'd be able to take a pic with Harper's phone.

Eventually a few 107.5 employees came by and took my name. The line finally started moving after we had been there for almost an hour.

As we were heading in, we got to a first checkpoint, and the security there searched thru Harper's bag, and told her "no water bottles". (Which seemed extrmely random, but whatever.)  They also said something that we didn't catch about "no sharpies", but they didn't confiscate the ones Harper had.
We moved on to another line, which was actually outside of the stage, where things were being set up for the show. A stagehand did a catchy little number called "check one, check two" that went on for AGES.  We talked about what we would say/ask when we got there. I decided I'd ask them who they liked to race as when playing Mario Kart. Harper was going to ask them their favorite cereal.

And then a security guard came by and told us all the details that would have been REALLY nice to have known earlier:
This was going to be a photo only.
Our hands must be empty when we go in.
The picture would be taken by the band's camera-guy, and then posted on the band's website (twentyonepilots.com/sick) the following day, and would only be up for 48 hours.
If you had any gifts for the band, hand them over now.

Harper gave her art thing to the guy, even though she felt it wasn't really sufficient for a present (and it didn't have her name on it or anything)
We started moving up, and then... it was time.
We walked around the corner, and Josh and Tyler were standing there.
It went VERY fast. I shook both of their hands, (I remember that Tyler had the firmer handshake of the two) and maybe mumbled "nice to meet you" to them both. Or maybe just "hi". Or maybe I told them my name? I really don't recall, sadly.
Then we stood in between them, and...
Josh Dun, Harper, me, Tyler Joseph.

And then we were escorted out. I turned back to them and said, "Thanks, you guys are both awesome."
And that was it.

I unfortunately need to get ready for work, so I'll blog part two (the actual concert events) later.



Monday, March 14, 2016

you know that thing where you make a small mistake, and then you make another, and that attracts another, and they continue to snowball until the day is just totally shot?
waht is that called?

beside "Monday", I mean.

but, really, there seems like there should be a termfor that sort of occurance. And quite possibly an explanation of some sort. Is it all just psychological? That seems somewhat anticlimactic. But probably accurate.

Also, why doesn't the opposite ever seem to happen? Where a small good thing takes place, and that attracts anothe, and the good times just keep on keeping on? I guess maybe it does, from time to time. Just harder to recognize, maybe?

In completely unrelated news, I may have a blogging gimmick up my sleeve. And next week I'm on vacation...


Saturday, February 20, 2016

caucus

The Democratic Caucus was held today. I didn't attend, because I couldn't have even if I'd been able to. (I'm registered as an Independent.)
Plus, Irina had drama class at the exact same time that the caucus was taking place, so I took her to that, while Saren and Stephanie went and partook in the democratic process.

Saren was actually a Chairperson. !! And she picked up Bernie pins for all of us. So that was all pretty cool. Oh, and Stephanie agreed to be some sort of delegate in March. Or something. (Gah. I should have paid more attention to what she was saying, but the entire system is, you have to admit, WAY more complicated than it needs to be)

I am a little bummed that I couldn't attend, just for the experience of having gone, if nothing else. I mean, my being there wouldn't have made the outcome be any different.
Still. The Republican caucus is next Tuesday. Perhaps I'll change my registration to Republican, go attend, and then vote "none of the above" so I can have done my part.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Wish I knew

So, you know how the moral of any wish-granting tale is "be careful what you wish for"? Because no matter what your wish is, it's going to backfire in SOME fashion.
I think I've come up with a fool-proof wish.

"I wish to know the answer to any question that I am asked."

Saturday, December 26, 2015

2015, all wrapped up

Yes, there are still 6 more days left in the year, and who knows what those will bring, but this will be the last blog post I make in the year known as 2015.

Back at the start of this year, I made some "resolutions." Now that 300-some-odd days have passed, let's check in, shall we?

Blog more. (Accomplished already!)
Yup, this one was a success. I decided to blog every 15 days, and, with this blog entry... mission accomplished!  (we'll overlook the one time I forgot, and the one time that Silas blogged for me, and the numerous times I had absolutely nothing to blog about...).

I also said that I wanted to:

Write at least 2015 words every month on a fictional story. I don't need to finish the story, I don't need to start it - it could just be outlining or working on a particular scene, and it doesn't have to be the same story each month. Just need to write something fiction, and have put in at least two thousand and fifteen words into it. (I realize this seems like setting the bar pretty low, since the total word count for the year would only be 24,180 - which is not even half of what the Nanowrimo goal is, but considering my writing output lately, I think it is a rather achievable target.)
I did write some fiction. However, I just did a word count on my super-secret blog, and, well, it's only up to 17.874. That's despite writing every Wednesday. There IS another Wednesday coming up, so if I can manage 6300 more words....
Next!

Watch as many movies as possible.
68 done. (I'll throw the list up at the end of this. I kept track of all my books & movies consumed this year, along with notes...) If I manage to watch any more films or finish any more novels, I'll add them to the list(s).

 Work on the Project (yes, the very same project I was mentioning on this blog back in [sigh] 2007.)
I did! It was ONE weekend out of the whole year, and for only about twenty minutes, but ...that counts, right?

Ex...er....cise?
Half-way win. For the first three months, I did a bunch of pushups, situps and jumping jacks daily. (Actually, 15 of each each day in January, 30 of each each day in February, 45 of each each day in March.) I would have kept going, but near the end of March it just got...exhausting. And after slipping three days in a row, I simply gave up. 2016 is right around the corner though, so maybe I'll start up again. (Without the "this many this month" gimmick.)

 Read at least half the amount of books that Stephanie reads this year. I'm pretty sure that she is shooting for a goal of 60. I think I can manage to read 30 books in 365 days. I always give my star-rating on Goodreads.com, but I might start jotting down quick notes/thoughts about the books too.
 I hit 40. (And I'm nearly done with one more) I don't know how many Stephanie read. 40's pretty good, though.
And since that's everything, I'm now just going to end with the list of movies and books that I saw this year.
See ya'll in 2016!



Movies seen in 2015: (mostly spoiler free, but proceed with caution)

  1. Guardians of the Galaxy – best movie I’ve seen all year. It was a little jarring at first with all the different aliens and locations trying to keep track of exactly what was supposed to be going on, but once it got rolling, the fun was just nonstop. Rocket and Groot, were, of course, standouts, but Drax and Peter “Star-Lord” Quill also brought the fun.  Even Gamora had hints of backstory and depth. Overall, a great ride.
  2. Tusk – horror/comedy movie that started off pretty great – the villain was genuinely creepy and engaging (the “protagonist” was a bit of an a-hole, though, and hard to root for, although even he didn’t really deserve his fate) . And then Johnny Depp showed up as ‘comedic relief’, but forgot to bring the comedy, and made the last half of the movie a chore to get thru.
  3. The Equalizer – Denzel Washington kicking ass.
  4. Noah – There aren’t that many movies made nowadays that are based on Biblical stories. This film kinda shows why.  It was interesting that they made Noah a jerkass who only followed God’s word (which came to him in visions).  But, it took me five tries to watch this without falling asleep, and in the end wasn’t worth having done so.
  5. Coherence – low budget sci-fi (with Nicholas “Xander” Brendan, who has definitely aged since his Buffy days) about a group of middle-aged friends who experience a …kind of fracturing of the multiverse during the passing of a comet. Wasn’t bad at all, but it really did end right as it was starting to pick up and get good.  
  6. Wish I Was Here – Zach Braff stars in this amazingly good drama (that he also directed and co-wrote with his brother) Just a nicely done movie about a Jewish family dealing with the father dying. Nothing really groundbreaking, but the performances and humor really made it a great journey.
  7. The Interview – if not for the brouhaha around this, I doubt I would’ve seen it. Wasn’t great, I think I laughed once or twice, but whatever. Completely forgettable.
  8. Lucy – meh. Was just an excuse for Scarlett Johansen to look cool and take out mafia goons.
  9. Parallels – this was decent enough (nothing really new or original – just a parallel earth story), but it ended on kind of a cliffhanger, which seemed odd for a movie. Doing a little research, it appears that this was actually a pilot for a television series, which makes a LOT more sense. If the series got picked up – and had a set # of seasons to tell its story – I’d probably watch it.
  10. Cinderella – the live-action version. Enjoyable!
  11. Big Hero 6 – this was pretty great. Kind of a kid-friendly Avengers, but set in some alternate universe where San Francisco & Tokyo combined into a mega city, and robots are commonplace.
  12. You’re Next – typical slasher film that had a twist in that one of the intended victims fought back and kicked some ass. Could’ve been better.
  13. Dumb and Dumber To – unnecessary sequel.  I went in with extremely low expectations. They were not met.
  14. Gone Girl – David Fincher makes pretty great movies.
  15. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part  1 –I don’t really remember ANYTHING from the book (except that I was disappointed, overall)  so …I guess the movie was better, because I did enjoy this, although it did seem like a whole lot of “set up”.  Which is the inherent problem with splitting a movie into two parts as has become the trend. Maybe I’ll just stop watching part 1s of these sorts of movies.
  16. Divergent – Started out fairly interesting (despite the super silly concept of separating society based on one singular trait), but this movie really was about 30 minutes too long. (And it’s the first of a trilogy! With, of course, the third part being split into two.)
  17. Interstellar – Honest Trailers called this “Christopher Nolan’s Contact”, which is hilarious and accurate.
  18. Annie –why??????
  19. Predestination – it’s turtles Ethan Hawkes all the way down.
  20. The Babadook – Australian horror movie that was pretty damn terrifying because mental illness can truly be scary. Amelia lives with her six year old son, Sam. Sam’s father, Oskar, was killed in a car wreck while driving Amelia to the hospital. Ameila is not dealing with the grief very well, and Sam is becoming more and more of a problem child as a result. When a strange picture book called “Mister Babadook” arrives in their house, things get worse. There are parts of this that were really tough to watch – great acting from both the mother and child – but overall, this was one of the best horror movies I’ve seen in a quite a while.
  21. Psycho – There’s a reason this is a classic. I was surprised at how little was actual Horror, and how overall it was a lot more of a mystery or suspense.  Anthony Perkins was pretty incredible. I actually liked Norman, despite knowing that he was a killer.
  22. Horrible Bosses 2 – nothing really to say about this one. It was about what I expected, and it wasn’t awful. I’d say it was about on par with the  first one, actually.
  23. The Voices – this was depressing.
  24. Killer Joe – sex, violence, swearing, murder, and fried chicken legs.
  25. Birdman (or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) – meh. The acting was fine, the gimmick of having it appear as (mostly) one continuous shot was fine, the meta aspects were fine, but, somehow, overall,  it just …didn’t work for me.
  26. Nightcrawler – wow. Jake  Gyllenhaal plays Louis Bloom, who is a complete monster that doesn’t have a shred of humanity in him. Once Louis finds out about “nightcrawling” – filming crime scenes and selling the videos to the local news stations – he becomes obsessed with a) getting the best footage, and first, and b) with the news director Nina. He’s morally grey (well, light black, maybe) at that point – and then he decides to go a step further and start really breaking laws with a total disregard for anyone around. Only his footage matters. Extremely creepy performance and yet immensely watchable.
  27. Honeymoon – low budget horror flick about a young couple, Paul & Bea, on their honeymoon in a cabin in the woods.  Bea starts acting really strange after one night. Turns out it was alien abduction. A couple of really gross moments, and some creepiness, but with so much of the mystery not explained, it felt kinda frustrating – like, why? What’s the point of this? I felt like this came pretty close to being a great little gem, but fell short.
  28. The Maze Runner – decent adaptation of a decent YA novel. The book was more compelling than the movie (the movie was irritating in a “why don’t they just EXPLAIN things to him” sort of way – the book may have had elements of that, too, but I don’t remember.) Definitely a downer ending, though.
  29. Chappie – Short Circuit for the 21st century, I guess.  This certainly had potential, but it didn’t live up to it, sadly.
  30. Zombeavers – I don’t know, man. It was there. It was dumb. (Not that I was expecting otherwise). About the best I can say for this is that it was short.
  31. The Fault in our Stars – this was really good. Although there was a lot of dust in the room when we watched… Anyway, yes, Pretty People With Cancer was a pretty entertaining flick (although the indie-song soundtrack got to be a *little* much near the end), and I may read the book, just ‘cuz.
  32. Fermat’s Room – Spanish film about four mathematicians who get invited to “solve the world’s greatest enigma” by a mysterious stranger identifying him (or her)self as “Fermat”. Once there, they get locked in the room, and begin to receive math & logic puzzles that they have one minute to solve before the room starts to press together.  Not great, but not horrible.
  33. The Captive – Ryan Reynolds stars as a dad whose 8 year old daughter gets abducted, and spends 8 years looking for her. The acting in this was decent enough, the story wasn’t super-original, but it could have been a good movie overall, except that it was presented in a non-linear fashion. The jumps back and forth in time were EXTREMELY distracting and disorienting, and it was difficult to know what was happening. And there really was no reason for them to tell the story that way, as far as I could tell.
  34. Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever – Silas had this review: “I really enjoyed that! Well, the parts with Grumpy Cat were really funny, but the parts where they were just talking was kind of boring.” Spot on.
  35. Home Sweet Hell – a ‘dark comedy’ that didn’t have any laughs, sadly. The trailer made it look a lot more interesting than it turned out to be.
  36. It Follows – an extremely overhyped horror movie. This definitely had moments of creepiness, and the concept was intriguing (though flawed), and I enjoyed it, for the most part, but I wish I hadn’t had it built up to be “the best horror movie in over a decade”, since it…um..wasn’t. It was good, but not great.
  37. Taken 3 – ridiculous as hell, but still somehow watchable.
  38. Boyhood – This was almost like a documentary …of just your average kid. The director filmed the same boy (Mason, in the movie, but his real name is Ellar Coltrane) for TWELVE YEARS, from the age of 6 to 18. So we follow Mason and his family as he grows up more or less right before our eyes. Which is pretty incredible. There wasn’t much *story*, because it was just kind of …life. Which can be boring. And amazing. And …life. I’d actually be interested in seeing one of these types of films done focusing on other parts of the world. What is it like for a boy growing up in the Middle East, for example.
  39. Kung Fu Hustle – Roger Ebert described this film as “Jackie Chan and Buster Keaton meet Quentin Tarantino and Bugs Bunny.” Pretty much, yup. Wacky martial arts and physics defying stunts abound. Very enjoyable.
  40. What We Do In The Shadows – a mockumentary about 4 vampires living in modern day New Zealand, and dealing with everyday life. It was amusing throughout, and had a couple laugh out loud moments (most of the stuff with the werewolves, the “dark bidding” joke, pretty much anything with Petyr).
  41. Maggie – Very slow paced drama/thriller about a father and daughter dealing with the fact that the daughter has been bitten by a zombie, and her days are numbered.
  42. The Lazarus Effect – blah. If you are going to make a horror movie about someone being brought back from the dead and being brought back  wrong… you really shouldn’t make it so damn boring.
  43. Reclaim
  44. Pee Wee’s Big Adventure – classic.
  45. Soaked in Bleach – documentary made mostly by the Private Investigator that Courtney Love hired days before Kurt Cobain’s body was discovered.  Definitely makes Kurt’s suicide look a lot more questionable.  And absolutely does not paint Courtney Love in a good light at all.
  46. Jupiter Ascending – it looked pretty.
  47. Ex Machina – this was good. That ending, though… It wasn’t a bad ending, I just felt like there should have been more indicating that it might go that way.
  48. Insurgent – AKA The Divergent Series: Insurgent. I liked the first, but this one didn’t have enough going for it. The action scenes near the beginning were decent, but overall it just felt like “Dystopia By The Numbers”. Or maybe I’m just too old for these types of movies anymore.
  49. Hellraiser – To quote Saren (who watched this with me) after this was over: “Well, now I’ve seen that movie.”
  50. God bless America – It’s like Bobcat Goldthwait decided to combine Natural Born Killers and Falling Down, but amped up the bitterness.
  51. Time Lapse – pretty solid indie flick about a group of twenty-somethings that discover a camera that takes pictures of the future. It raised some questions about fate and pre-determinism, but then never really answered them. Which  is both cool, because it leaves it to the viewer to decide, and also frustrating because it leaves it to the viewer to decide.
  52. Drag Me To Hell – lots of jump scares. Lots of grossness. Not much else, really.
  53. Kingsman: The Secret Service – stylish and action packed and silly and cartoony (which makes sense, since it was based on a  graphic novel from Mark Millar). It was entertaining, but not great, and there was a “joke” near the end (see what I did there?)  that I found bothersome enough to sour the film.
  54. Run All Night – Liam Neeson as a retired hitman, Ed Harris as a mob boss. Corrupt cops and lots of chases, but this just didn’t click with me.
  55. Avengers: Age of Ultron – Epic comic book goodness. There was a LOT going on (too much, maybe? It did feel rushed in a lot of places) but this was an awesome popcorn movie that more than lived up to its job of entertaining me.
  56. Spy – Very, very funny.
  57. Cop Car – two ten year old boys run away from home, and stumble across an abandoned cop car. They take it for a joyride. The owner of said cop car is a corrupt sheriff played by Kevin Bacon. It’s absurd and intense and stupid and awesome.  
  58. Mad Max: Fury Road – This was a hell of a movie.  Just insane over the top action.  And characters that you cared about.
  59. Cut Bank  - sort of a Fargo Lite. Dwayne wants to get out of the little town of Cut Bank, Montana. After he films the murder of a postal worker, he plans on using the reward money (from turning in the film) to move. Things don’t go that easily, though, once the sheriff starts investigating. Not a bad little flick.
  60. Tomorrowland –Had some fun moments, but overall it sorta fell flat. Also, don’t know if this counts entirely, since I fell asleep during the last twenty minutes.
  61. Robot Overlords – Ben Kingsley and Gillian Anderson in a sci-fi movie about, well, robot overlords? Sign me up! …except, no. This was complete dreck.
  62. The Guest – Thriller (slash parody? – it got really ridiculous in the final twenty minutes, and I think it meant to) about a stranger who claims to have served in the military with the dead son of our hapless Everyfamily. There’s more – much more – to his guy than meets the eye, of course. DUN DUN DUNNNNNNN!  This was cheesy in a lot of ways, but sometimes cheese hits the spot.
  63. These Final Hours – solid flick about a meteor hitting the earth, wiping out all of humanity,  and the final hours in Perth.  
  64. Inside Out – Pure Joy.
  65. Beyond The Reach – pretty sparse thriller with Michael Douglas as a rich guy who accidentally kills someone while on a hunting trip out in the desert. He then attempts to murder his guide. The film was okay – nothing great, but I’ve definitely seen worse – and then they had the last ten minutes, which were just…dumb. Oh well.
  66. Get Santa – Santa goes to jail, and a father recently released from jail takes his son across the countryside trying to break him out and save Christmas. Sorta odd, but also somewhat charming.
  67. Terminator: Genisys – Well, obviously, I’m going to see any Terminator movie. I saw Salvation, after all, and while at the time I said that it was better than Rise of the Machines…it kinda wasn’t.  Anyway. This new one decides to pretty much ignore 3 and 4. And…then says that 1 and 2 didn’t really happen, either.  I mean, yeah, you can argue that it’s simply different timelines, and that means they all happened, but that makes things messy.  Anyway.  Things I did NOT like: a) This was convoluted and incoherent due to all the timey-wimey stuff going on (and too much of it was ‘explained’ by Ah-nuld…which doesn’t make sense, why would an infiltration ‘bot know so much about time travel?... of course, we never find out who SENT “Pops”, either, so having that mystery unexplained is the writer’s go-to ‘answer’ for any sort of problem that arises. Gives ‘em stuff to figure out in the sequels, right?)
  1. Jai Courtney. Oh. My. God.  Please, if there are sequels coming, get someone  else -ANYONE else- to play Cardboard Reese. I mean Kyle Reese.
  2. John Connor. I don’t know who was playing him this go around (and I do appreciate that they have kept up with the constantly changing actor for that role thing) but …ugh. He just didn’t have the right ‘feel’ for John Connor.
  3. Of course, they then flat out terminated his character, anyway, by turning him into the main villain.  And by not having Cardboard  & Sarah ‘mate’, John doesn’t exist anymore… right? That kinda saddens me, actually. So humanity doesn’t have a savior in the future?
All that being said, there were things I did like:
  1. Most of the action scenes were pretty well done.
  2. J.K. Simmons was awesome
  3. The callbacks/recreating of T1 in the first third of the movie were well done (although if you’re gonna digitalize young Arnold, why not digitalize young Bill Paxton, too??)
  4. They still kept the Terminator music.
  5. They left it open for future movies.
One thing that I would have liked to have seen  (and maybe explored in the future?) – 1973. Pops and young Sarah seems like it would be interesting to see. How did he explain everything to a terrified orphaned little girl? And what was her childhood like after that? Also, it was unclear as to whether the terminator that Pops saved her from in ’73 was the T1000 that was also in ’84? That was my understanding. So they were eluding that Terminator for 11 years, until Cardboard shows up, and that’s when they killed it? [shrug] I did enjoy it overall, just felt it could have been better (for one thing, all Terminator movies should be rated R) but I’m hopeful for any future installments.

  1. Jurassic World – Chris Pratt, dinosaur chaos, velociraptor motorcycle gang…what more could you want? (less one dimensional characters and less sexism would be nice.)


    AND books...

    A word about the sentence in parenthesis after each. A long time ago Harper used to ask me about every book I read, "What was the last word?" So, for each of these books, I wrote down the final SENTENCE of the book. I'll put the entire thing in spoiler tags - except for the last word. 
    If the final sentence of the book was just a single word (it happens, you know), then I'll spoil-tag the entire word.  Onward!
     
    Books read in 2015:
    1. Revival by Stephen King –I enjoyed this, but felt that it probably would’ve been better as a short story, or maybe a novella. It’s a pretty short (for King) novel anyway, but after it was over (and the ending was absolutely the most memorable part – it’s stuck with me for weeks) I felt like a lot of the leadup to it was …unnecessary, maybe?  (I will come to Mother) 

    2. Yes Please by Amy Poehler – part memoir, part book of essays. Mostly good stuff, although a lot of the name-dropping famous part was kinda just bleh. Greatly enjoyed her essays & early life stuff. (Yes Please Thank you Sharita) 

    3. The Walking Dead volume 22: A New Beginning  by Robert Kirkman – the latest in the graphic novel series that just keeps on going. This one had a time-jump after the last one, and while not a lot happened, it definitely set up a lot of new plotlines, and also gave the writers the opportunity to do flashbacks to stuff that was skipped (Michonne? Where art thou??). I’m still holding out hope that Rick is somehow the key to the whole zombie plague, but I doubt they’ll end up going there. Still, it’s interesting to have them more or less reboot the whole series at this point. (Don’t move.) 

    4. Mort(e) by Robert Repino – This was crazy. In a good way. Ants – or rather, one insane Queen Ant – decides to eradicate humanity, and genetically mutates all the lesser animals in order to help be her warriors. Mort(e), a housecat formerly known as Sebastian, becomes a war-hero (to the animals – humans have a reason to fear this killing machine) whose sole purpose is tracking down his best friend, Sheba, a dog he knew before the Change. The novel wasn’t perfect (I would’ve liked more pre-change Sebastian, and more of his time in the war) but it was unique enough that I will absolutely look for more from this author. (Sheba trotted beside him.) 

    5. Silver Screen Fiend: Learning About Life from an Addiction to Film by Patton Oswalt – short quick read about how Patton OSwalt spent the last half of the 90s addicted to seeing movies in the theater.  (We’ll see.) 

    6. Holy Cow: A Modern-Day Dairy Tale by David Duchovny – This was a quick breezy read that, to be honest, if hadn’t been written by Fox Mulder probably wouldn’t have been published to begin with. It most certainly wouldn’t have gotten the attention it’s getting. I liked Elsie. Her compatriots not nearly as much. Also, the ending really felt like David just ran out of steam. This seemed almost like a children’s book (and was mentioned in-story that it probably would be) but there were bits that were completely out of place as such (all of the  Israel bits , and some of the parts about animal slaughter).  It was simply okay, but I don’t know if I’d recommend it. (Moo) 

    7. The Martian by Andy Weir – Mars ain’t the kind of place to raise your kids. In fact, it’s cold as hell. And there’s no one there to raise them if you didn’t. And all this science, I don’t understand. It’s just my job five days a week. Can’t wait for the movie. (This is the happiest day of my life.) 

    8. Wizzywig: Portrait of a Serial Hacker by Ed Piskor – Graphic novel that told the story (kinda hobbled together of real-life stories of multiple individuals) of Kevin “Boingthump” Phenicle, a kid who has perfect pitch, a knack for logic & computers, and a very out of whack moral compass. Very interesting, and compelling read, the ending felt…incomplete, though. (Whoa!!) 

    9. Life or Death by Michael Robotham – Audie Palmer breaks out of prison the day before he was going to be released, and therefore goes on the run. He’s been imprisoned for the past decade for being involved with a botched armored truck robbery, wherein several people (including most of the gang) died, and Audie’s brother got away with 7 million dollars. This started out really great, but sort of dragged near the middle, and I was actually bored by the end.  (Live like there’s no tomorrow.) 

    10. Touch by Claire North – Great premise, and there were absolutely stunning sections of this, but overall the book just didn’t gel for me.  This was about a group of people who live among us known as “ghosts” – who have the ability to transfer their consciousness into any body that they touch. If they “wear” you, then YOUR consciousness simply blacks out until the jump out. There are people who know about the existence of these ghosts, and are hunting them in an attempt to kill them all. This would most likely make an amazing movie (in the right hands) and perhaps if the novel were tightened up some (it was just over 400 pages, it could’ve easily been knocked down a hundred or so), it would have been spectacular, but as it stands it was really good, but not as excellent as her other work, “The First 15 Lives of Harry August”. (I am you.) 

    11. Saga (volume 4) by Brian K. Vaughn – this was just average – for Saga. Which is miles ahead of most everything else.  (Sir, we need your help finding our families.) 

    12. Beneath the Surface: Killer Whales, SeaWorld, and the truth beyond Blackfish by John Hargrove with Howard Chua-Eoan – John Hargrove was an employee of SeaWorld for 15 years, and worked with the orcas that they have there, so he’s seen the effects that being in captivity has had on these highly intelligent, highly social animals. He’s also seen firsthand the soullessness of SeaWorld corporation. A great companion piece to the Blackfish documentary. (Like Takara and her mother and the other orcas.) 

    13. The Deep by Nick Cutter – A mysterious plague has started affecting the world. Nicknamed “the ‘Gets”, it’s a sort of rampant Alzheimer’s – at first you start forgetting little things – where you left the keys, the last digit of a phone number – but as it progresses you forget more vital stuff – like eating. Or why you shouldn’t touch fire. Eventually you forget to breathe.  A possible cure (called Ambrosia) has been discovered at the bottom of the ocean, and a high-tech deep sea lab has been set up to mine the stuff. But the Ambrosia is not all that it seems…  This was terrifying, at least at first. It did get a little much, eventually. If it had been trimmed by 100ish pages (or perhaps a better resolution to the mystery of the Ambrosia), it would have been perfect.   (What shambled forth was unspeakable.) 

    14. The Last American Vampire by Seth Grahame-Smith – sequel to Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. This was a sort of Forrest Gump with vampires, which sounds ridiculous, and it was, but it was also really enjoyable. I actually enjoyed it a little more than the first one, since this covered more of America’s history.  We find out the true fate of the Roanoke Colony!  And how and why the Hindenburg exploded. And meet some famous vampires along the way too. Interesting, though, that Henry laid low for a good portion of RECENT history. Perhaps leaving room for another sequel? I’d be game. (It was Alexei Romanov’s card.) 

    15. Creep by Jennifer Hillier – this read like a novel written during NaNoWriMo. Fast-paced, but ultimately fluff.   (Looking up, she caught a glimpse of tight jeans on a Triumph before it sped away.) 

    16. The Planetary Omnibus by Warren Ellis and John Cassaday – this epic doorstopper (over 800 pages!!) collects all 27 issues of the Planetary comic along with three crossover issues (with “Authority”, “JLA” and “Batman”). I enjoyed the main series quite a bit. It was about a group of “archeologists” who discover all sorts of strange secrets from the 20th century, and also have powers themselves. (The Drummer can talk to machines, Jakita Wagner is super strong & super fast, Elijah Snow can freeze things). They started out as stand-alones, but once the conspiracy of The Four and Elijah’s idea of extracting revenge on them kicked into action, it really got good. Then, there were the crossovers at the end --The Authority crossover bored me (I tried to read the Authority series a while  back and couldn’t get into it). The JLA crossover was interesting, although a bit jarring since it sorta turned Planetary on it’s head – Bruce Wayne colored them as villains. Heh. And the Batman crossover was just silliness and dumb. I really kinda wish that the collection had just ended with the main series.If it had, it would have been this: (It’s taken a long time to get here, but you and me and her and him – we’re just getting started.) Since it ended with the Batman crossover, the ending was this: (This town is insane.) 

    17. The Lords of Salem by Rob Zombie with B.K. Evenson – Rob needs to stick to music.  And movies? I actually haven’t seen any of his films. But definitely no more novels. The sad thing is, this seemed like it *could* have been good. The idea of there having been actual witches in Salem, Massachusetts back in the day, and they perform a curse that goes into effect 300 years later could be a really cool story.  This was not. Oh well. The final word was END. Not even THE END, just END. The final sentence – (Soon they were dancing.) 

    18. Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne – a young adult end of the world tale. After a volcano erupts on the other side of the world causes a massive earthquake and hail storm in Monument, Colorado, a group of children (ranging from some 1st graders up thru some high school seniors) have to survive trapped in a giant box warehouse store.  This was definitely a quick read, and it had enough drama to keep me intrigued to the end, but, man, the writing could have been so much better.  There’s another two in the series, but I don’t think I’ll pick ‘em out. (We were five.) 

    19. Finders Keepers by Stephen King – This was the second in the planned trilogy of Retired Detective (Ret-Det) Bill Hodges. (The first was last year’s Mr. Mercedes). I enjoyed Mr. Mercedes, but didn’t see how it could be a trilogy. I shouldn’t have worried. This installment was, in my opinion, even better than the first. The book had a different “case” (mostly) than Mr. Mercedes. (Although the actions of Brady have an impact on everyone in this story too….and it looks like the 3rd book should as well.) This one was about Morris Bellamy, who was a supremely deranged fan of author John Rothenstein’s works. In 1978, Bellamy murders Rothstein (and his two accomplices), and steals some unpublished books and about $20,000. Then he hides it all in a trunk in the woods, and gets arrested for a different crime.  Flash forward 30 years, and the books and money are found by Peter Saubers, whose family is going thru some rough times, in part due to the fact that Peter’s father was one of the victims (that lived) from Brady’s joyride in Mr. Mercedes. Pete uses the cash to help his family, and holds on to the novels. Then Bellamy gets out of prison, and comes looking for the trunk.  King sows some seeds for the  third novel as well, which is due out next year, and I’m pretty excited about that one. (Clack.) 

    20. The Walking Dead volume  23: Whispers Into Screams by Robert Kirkman – the most Rick-less collection to date, the focus of this volume moved on to Carl, which is fine, since I find the generation of kids growing up in this world to be sorta fascinating. I don’t know how the Whisperers’ plot line is going to resolve,  but I’m in for the long haul with this series.  (Yes, Alpha.) 

    21. Resident Alien volume 1: Welcome to Earth!  By Steve Parkhouse and Peter Hogan – an alien crash lands on earth, and while waiting to be rescued by his home planet, he blends into a small town by masquerading as their doctor, and solving murders. This was a quick read, and largely introductory – not a lot of story happens, and there’s not much conflict or suspense that he’ll be discovered. But it did seem like it may payoff in later volumes. I just don’t know if I’m interested enough to check them out. (It’s beautiful, wherever it is… and everything else can wait.) 

    22. Ex-Heroes by Peter Clines – How this hasn’t been turned into a summer blockbuster yet is beyond me. It’s a typical zombie apocalypse, with superpowered humans thrown into the mix. This story focused on survivors in the Hollywood area who take on a gang whose leader has the power to control the zombies. It was fun. There are, evidently, at least three more books in the series. But I may just let it rest with one. Sometimes less is more. I could see getting burned out on the idea. (We have work to do.) 

    23. Phoebe and Her Unicorn by Dana Simpson – The first collection of a comic strip called “Phoebe and Her Unicorn” that is absolutely the spiritual successor of Calvin and Hobbes. Phoebe meets a unicorn (Marigold Heavenly Nostrils) when she skips a rock across a pond and bams Marigold in the face (thus stopping Marigold from staring at her reflection and dying ala Narcissus). One wish for a ‘best friend’ later, and Phoebe and Marigold’s adventures begin.  This book was charming, colorful, and very funny (I laughed out loud at least four or five times). Without a doubt, a great find.  (Purrrrrr.) 

    24. Chew Vol. 9: Chicken Tenders by John Layman – IT could be argued that this issue was doing a lot of placeholding until the very end, and while that may be true, it was still highly entertaining placeholding. The ending though! Oh. My. I have a theory, however. One which I’m going to Rot13 so that  anyone who hasn’t caught up, but wants to (and, really, Chew is a fantastic read, you should all read it!) won’t be spoiled by this issues twists. So. Znlor V’z whfg va qravny, ohg V qba’g oryvrir gung Pbyol xvyyrq Cblb. Gurer jrer gjb vafgnaprf jurer jr ner gbyq “gung vfa’g Cblb. Vg’f n qbhoyr.” – juvpu …zrnaf znlor ur qvqa’g ernyyl xvyy uvz?  Ohg… abj gung V guvax nobhg vg, jul jbhyq Pbyol qb gung? V svther gung ur vf cynaavat ba srrqvat Cblb gb Gbal…fbzrubj. Ohg vg frrzf yvxr gung pbhyq unir orra qbar zhpu zber jvyyvatyl. Creuncf ur’f tbvat gb srrq uvz gb gur Pbyyrpgbe sbe fbzr ernfba? V qba’g xabj.. I guess I’ll just have to wait until volume 10 to find out. (Crack) 

    25. Disclaimer by Renee Knight – One of those popcorn thriller novels that compelled me to finish, despite it not being very well written, or, in post-reveal scrutiny makes a lot of sense. I’m sure it’ll be made into a movie at some point, and, depending on how well it’s done, will make millions. When I first started reading it, I was going to recommend it to Steph, but as I got closer to the end, I realized that I couldn’t.  Oh well. For posterity’s sake, here’s the basic plot: Catherine starts reading a book she does’nt remember ordering, and discovers that the book is about a secret she’s been keeping for 20 years. We find out that the book was written (and delivered to her home) by Stephen Brigstone - the parent of someone that Catherine met 2 decades prior. Stephen is a genuinely creepy nutcase, and a lot of what was compelling to me were his chapters (it cuts back and forth between him and Catherine’s POV). Anyway, lots of twists, and lots AND lots of characters reacting to things that they don’t know the entire story to. Catherine’s husband is an extreme case. Really, dude? You’ve been married for nearly thirty years and you’re not going to even TALK to your wife about these things?? Sigh. (He allowed her to stroke his back and hold his head, and she was overcome with gratitude for the chance he was giving her to get to know him at last.) 

    26. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline – Like a lighthearted Otherland. With tons and tons and TONS of 80s references.  This was just overall a fun read. (It occurred to me then that for the first time in as long as I could remember, I had absolutely no desire to log back into the OASIS.) 

    27. Rover Red Charlie by Garth Ennis – Graphic novel from the creator of Preacher,  The Boys, and Crossed (among others). This was a pretty short tale – told the story of an apocalypse –but through the eyes of three dogs. Rover, Red, and Charlie. Humanity for whatever reason (the dogs, of course, never find out the “why” or the “how” – and it doesn’t really matter) start killing themselves and each other. (Which, I suppose, could mean this was a crossover with the Crossed comics – but the humans didn’t have the scars from that book, so I doubt it’s meant to be) Anyway, Rover & Red & Charlie find themselves in a world without “feeders” (the Dog word for their human caretakers). Other dogs tell them about possible feeders still living out by “the Bigger Splash”, so they therefore decide to make their way out of New York City and cross the country. Only 6 issues, so it was easy to read this in an afternoon, and it was pretty good. (I’m a dog.) 

    28. The Dark Half by Stephen King – I’d read this years ago, figured it was time to reread it. I remember really having enjoyed it back when I first read it in ’90 or ’91, and it was enjoyable this time around, but not as great as I had thought it was. Stark – whatever he was -  was simply too cartoony (he starts as an unstoppable killing machine terminator type (who somehow managed to get the upperhand on at least 4 different police officers!) and winds up …just a joke). The intriguing parts about how much of Stark Thad had in him, and how this whole thing would impact his relationship with his wife were teased at near the end, but …that was the end. I’d almost like to have a sequel to THIS rather than to The Shining, because it would be interesting to read about the fallout from all of the Dark Half’s events.  (He stood there like that for a long time.) 

    29. The New World by Chris Adrian & Eli Horowitz – This was a strange little book. Only 200 pages long, and some beautiful and witty musings about life and love and marriage, but, man, the final half of the book was ambiguous. The novel was about Jim and Jane, a married couple. Jim dies, Jane goes to the hospital to ID his body, and discovers that unknown to her, Jim has signed up with a cryogenic corporation called Polaris, and Polaris has removed Jim’s head. We then alternate chapters for a bit between Jane in the present, and Jim waking up in the future and having to adjust to the new world. This was the beginning half of the book, and it was pretty great. Jane focuses her grief and anger toward Polaris and wanting to get her husband’s head back, while Jim is told he has to forget about his past life in order to move on to his new one. The two storylines actually intertwine, and then the last half of the book is… flashbacks? Alternate realities? I don’t even know.  Certainly an interesting book, but I don’t know if it was “good”. (I’ll love you every moment of this life, but everything will change, even beyond death, and nothing will be different, never apart, and everything will change, every moment of this life, and nothing will  change, even beyond death, and everything will be different, always together, and nothing will be different, even beyond death, and everything will change, every moment of this life, and nothing will change, never apart, and everything will be different, always together, and nothing will be different, even beyond death, and everything will change, every moment of this life, and nothing, absolutely nothing, will ever change.) 

    30. The Flicker Men by Ted Kosmatka – This was great. A sci-fi thriller about a science experiment with world-changing ramifications. Eric Argus is a brilliant, but deeply troubled, quantum physicist. He conducts an experiment that eventually winds up proving that humans have souls. (Or, at least, that’s one way of interpreting his experiment’s results) This alone would have some pretty major impact on the world (and the novel touches on it, some), but things get really bad for Eric when he and his team discover that not ALL humans have souls… This book had the perfect mixture of action and thought-provoking ideas about the nature of the universe and reality. Good stuff. (I began to write.) 

    31. Unicorn on a Roll by Dana Simpson – second collection of the Phoebe & her Unicorn comics. This was maybe just a smidge less special than the first collection, but still extremely delightful and enjoyable. (Please say we won’t be doing this until September.) 

    32. The Flight of the Silvers by Daniel Price -  Holy cow. This was AWESOME. 600 pages of timey wimey goodness. A pair of mysterious time travelers give 9 strangers silver bracelets that protect them from the end of our world. The “Silvers”, as they are dubbed, then find themselves in a parallel world that is similar to ours, but also vastly different. This all takes place in the first 50 pages or so. The rest of the book deals with the Silvers learning about their new home, and realizing that not everyone is happy to have them there. This book could probably be used as a ‘how-to’ guide on world building.  And foreshadowing. Oh, man. SO MUCH foreshadowing. In fact, I’d say it was more like fiveshadowing. (ha ha! It’s funnier if you’ve read the book). This was the first in a planned trilogy, which is both good and bad. I would’ve liked to have it resolve more, but at the same time, if the epicness can continue, I’m fine with two more novels set in Altamerica. (She had time.) 

    33. Alive by Scott Sigler – Disappointing. Sigler has written some amazing stuff – the Infected trilogy was creepy, well written, and enjoyable. Nocturnal had some issues, but overall was good, too. Now Scott has written the first in a trilogy that is being pushed as a YA series….and the writing is subpar, and there are lots of YA clichés thrown in. I’ll still (probably) end up reading book 2 and 3, because I know that Sigler can do better, and this series has potential, I just wish that this book had been as good as his other stuff. (We fly.) 

    34. You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day – Felicia Day is a national treasure. Super breezy (and highly funny!) memoir that was an absolute joy to read. (Good talk, OXXO Felicia) 

    35. A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay – Impressive. Disturbing. Heartbreaking. Great characters. Definitely recommended. The story is about the Barretts, an average American family of mom, dad (recently unemployed) and daughters Marjorie (14) and Merry (8). Marjorie begins to display signs of mental illness – when psychiatrists don’t seem to be helping, dad turns to a local priest. The priest convinces the father that Marjorie is being possessed by a demon, and is in need of an exorcism. That’s bad idea #1. Bad idea #2 is bringing in a film crew to document it as a reality show. It sounds cheesy when I’m writing it out, but it doesn’t play that way at all. This one is gonna stick with me for a while. (After an awkward silence, and after Rachel and I say our good-byes again, it’s cold enough that my breath is a visible mist.) 
    36. The Last Policeman by Ben H Winters – A comet is on it’s way to collide with the earth, and wipe out most everyone on it. With the end of the world looming, humanity is reacting in the typically expected ways – suicides galore, crimes skyrocketing, mass orgies… but what about the cops that choose to keep doing their jobs? Detective Hank Palace investigates a suicide that his spider-sense is telling him is actually a murder. This was a pretty good read, although very heavily melancholy, given the setting. It’s the first in a trilogy, I’ll probably read the other two.(I close the door.) 
    37. 14 by Peter Clines – Started out intriguing – average Joe moves into a new apartment in LA, starts discovering weirdness in the building, but was overlong. The big reveal of what the apartment was for was neat, but I was ready to check out of the story much sooner. (He turned the knob and opened the door to his new apartment.) 
    38. The Walking Dead volume 24: Life and Death by Robert Kirkman – somehow, every single character is unlikable.  I used to care about Rick and company, but this volume did it’s best to remedy that. The cliffhanger it ended on was pretty drastic, but I hope that my attitude toward the protagonists improves. (Rick…what do we do now?) 
    39. Fair Coin by E.C. Meyers – Young Adult novel about sixteen year old Ephraim finding a magic quarter that seems to grant wishes – with consequences, of course. I wanted to like this more than I did. The premise was intriguing (especially once the plot really got going, and certain secrets of the coin were revealed) but it just didn’t quite connect with me. I don’t know if I’ll read the sequel – this was self-contained and wrapped things up enough.  (“Heads.”) 
    40. Countdown City (The Last Policeman Book II) by Ben H Winters – further advenures of Hank Palace as the comet looms nearer. This had a little bit of ‘middle book’ syndrome going on, where the ‘case’ that Hank was working (locating a man that has gone missing) dragged a bit, but overall this series is pretty great. The world-building (of, um, the world ending.) is outstanding, in a heartbreaking sort of way, and I just find Hank a great character to spend time with. I’m looking forward to (and simultaneously dreading) the final book in the series. (What if?)
Oh!!

I also kept all the spare change I found on the ground through out the entire year. Grand total?
8 quarters
18 dimes
8 nickels
115 and a half pennies
for a total of five dollars and 35 and a half cents. Not too shabby!