Saturday, December 31, 2016

December 2016 1se

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

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!

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