Monday, December 31, 2018

2018 movies

And it's also THAT time of the year, when I post a recap of all the movies I've watched over the past 365 days.
71 this year, which is about normal.  Enjoy!

Movies seen in 2018:

1. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – it’s a good thing Ron’s wand broke, eh? Also, Voldemort has a habit of using people against their wills. Interesting. Also also, for a giant creature that can kill people simply by looking at them, the basilisk is pretty crap at killing people.

2. Wonder Woman - cool.

3. Jeepers Creepers 3 – this was pretty dumb. Not that the first two were masterpieces or anything, but this just felt amateurish and stupid.

4. 77 Minutes – a documentary about a mass shooting that took place in 1984 in San Ysidor, California. This focused on the victims and aftermath, the filmmaker didn’t name the shooter and really went in depth on how this tragedy affected those who had to go through the ordeal. The actual crime scene video was really rough to watch. This was the worst mass shooting at the time, it’s now ranked the 7th. (The film is only two years old, and it had a slate that read that it was the 5th. I’m writing this pretty early in 2018, I sadly wouldn’t be surprised if it gets moved down again by the time I post it at year’s end.)

5. Star Wars episode IV A New Hope – charming.

6. Star Wars episode V The Empire Strikes Back – Trickster Yoda is still one of the best things about this series.

7. Star Wars episode VI Return of the Jedi – “From a certain point of view” MWAHAHAHA oh, Ben, you lying bastard.

8. Star Wars episode VIII The Last Jedi – awesome, if a little bit long. Absolutely a great passing of the torch. Bring on episode 9!

9. Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark – this…hasn’t aged all that well, sadly. I know it’s meant to be a mindless actiony fun movie, and there are bits of it that still work, but the whole thing looked a lot like the Jungle Cruise from Disneyland. Even the bits that were ‘cool’ when I watched as a young’un were …less so now. The boulder scene, the shooting of the sword fighter, the iconic shot at the end …all seemed …larger than life back in the day. This viewing had a lot of the tarnish rubbed off. Even the music, as great as it is, felt subdued somehow. As averse as I am to remakes, perhaps this series needs one.

10. Kingsmen The Golden Circle – slightly more over the top than the original, slightly less entertaining overall (but just slightly). It felt a little bit bloated, like they had to squeeze EVERYTHING in. Still fun

11. Despicable Me 3 – for the most part completely mediocre and forgettable. There was a bit that pissed me off, though. The mom (I forget the character’s name now; Judy, maybe?) forcing the girl (Margo?) to have a date with the boy. Totally totally uncool. Margo repeatedly said she wasn’t interested, and didn’t want to have anything to do with the French kid, and she FORCES her to go and “bite his cheese”?!? What the hell?? Sorely disappointed that was a) written and b) left in.

12. Happy Death Day – Tree, a rather unlikable young woman in college, wakes up hungover on her birthday, and ends the day getting murdered by a stranger in a mask. After her murder, she wakes up hungover on her birthday, and ends the day getting murdered by a stranger in a mask. … this was mildly entertaining, but felt like it could have (and should have) been so much better than it turned out. I blame the PG13 rating, honestly. But, I’ve got a soft spot for “loop” movies, so I'm glad I watched this.

13. Jigsaw – a semi-reboot of the Saw series, it was far better than Saw 7 (although, admittedly, that’s a low bar to clear), but, really, the amount of planning and coincidence-ing these people pull off is unfreaking believable.

14. It – a new adaptation of Stephen King’s epic novel. Just like the novel, the movie felt like things could have been cut or trimmed somewhat. But, just like the novel, overall it was rather impressive. The life in Derry was in many ways, more terrifying than Pennywise (which is intentional, I’m sure). I’m curious how the adult story will play out, especially since they’ve updated the timeline from 50s/80s to 80s/2010s.

15. Sing – the music clearance budget must have been huge for this, as they played about 840 different songs from the 60s on up, and visually, the animation was wonderful (although that’s to be expected in this day and age). I had a big problem with a lot of the characters, though. Buster, Mike, Ash’s boyfriend, Meena’s grandfather, Johnathan’s dad, and Rosita’s husband were all problematic in their own ways. (Hmm. They’re also all men. In fact… I don’t know if there was a male main character that was worthwhile…)

16. Back to the Future – damn near perfect. There are some things that bug (why did George and Lorraine wait til their 3rd kid to use the name Marty? And why’d it take George 30 years to get his first novel published? And where’s the Marty that grew up in the new timeline? And the ‘joke’ that Marty invented rock n’ roll is problematic, as is the subtle (not so subtle??) sexism that Marty displays, but again, for the most part this is still a fantastic fun ride, and I’m happy to have watched it again, and also introduced it to my two youngest.

17. Never Let Me Go – sci fi drama about an alternative universe where humans are regularly cloned in order to be harvested for their organs. The story focuses on three of these cattle who were growing up. Their love story is rather blah; the world that its set in is intriguing, but was not really given enough spotlight, in my opinion.

18. The Cloverfield Paradox – “what are you talking about, arm!?!”

19. Gerald’s Game – nice adaptation of the Stephen King novel. This wasn’t one of my favorite novels of his, but I thought the movie version complimented it well, and actually made me appreciate it more. I may reread the book later, just to see how they compare. This movie was very well done, though, with Jessie (Carla Gugino) being amazingly impressive.

20. The Girl With All the Gifts – this book was amazing. The movie was too. The actress playing Melanie was phenomenal. There were some things that I think I would have been unclear on if I hadn’t read the book, but that’s just further proof that everyone should read the book. This is a zombie movie for people who don’t really love zombie movies. And also for people who do.

21. Sleepwalkers – a rewatch of the Stephen King flick from the early 90s that is, for better or worse, pretty damn cheesy at points. There are some things that are great (Clovis steals the show, somehow, and the fact that Tanya’s parents are Ferris Bueller’s parents just makes me smile for some reason) but the constant one-liners after every death, and just the overall cheesiness don’t allow for this to get into greatness.

22. Eraserhead – so….that happened.

23. My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea – independent animated film about, well, a high school that begins sinking into the ocean, and the students’ inside struggle to survive. Sort of cute, had a few chuckles, and it was pretty brief. It was okay, but not ultimately anything worth recommending.

24. Thor: Ragnarok – A lot of fun. Not all the jokes landed, but there were a lot of real laugh out loud moments. And the battle scenes were pretty great, too. Great addition to the Marvel Universe.

25. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle – I’ve never seen the original Jumanji, but I don’t think I needed to in order to enjoy this. There were problems with this (the “teaching Ruby how to be sexy” scene went on WAY too long, and probably wasn’t necessary to begin with, for example), but overall this was much better than I thought it would be and was mostly a lot of fun.

26. I, Tonya – holy crap, that was a lot of abuse. And, jesus. Her whole life, she’s just been shit on and had bad hand after bad hand after bad hand dealt to her. I mean, she made it to the freaking OLYMPICS, and then, because of her crappy husband’s bad decision… boom. Taken from her. I mean, yeah, who knows how accurate the movie actually was, but the fact remains that those sorts of relationships/abuse happen everyday, and it’s just heartbreaking. On a much happier note, the budget for the music rights for this film must have been extravagant. They played like EVERY song from the 70s and 80s ever made. And this film, while very dark, was also filled with a lot of humor. And the acting. Oh, man. Margot Robbie (Tonya) and Allison Janey (Tonya’s mother, LaVona) were freaking TOP NOTCH. Outstanding job from both.

27. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – Not a fan of the new Dumbledore. Snape was underutilized (it’s been a while since I’ve read the books, was he sidelined there too?). Harry and Hermione are growing as actors. Ron’s got awesome comedic timing. Cedric’s death (and in particular, “That’s my boy!”) always gets me.

28. Mom and Dad – Selma Blair and Nicolas Cage are the titular Mom and Dad – just an average suburbuan American family with a teenage daughter and preteen son. An unexplained …event takes place that causes parents to want to violently murder their children. …and that set up is pretty much all there is to the movie. Nobody grows or changes or learns anything. There is no explanation or ending or point to this. Sigh.

29. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – it was like a writing exercise in conflict, each scene had characters interacting with one another that were in conflict. The acting was okay, and the writing was… okay (there were one or two moments that actually make made laugh) but man, this was bleak. There is no redemption, nobody learns the lesson they should learn. It’s just a lot of loss and pain and grief and anger. So, good times.

30. Justice League – it was as though they had a checklist of things that Avengers had done and they were trying to mimic them (without looking like they were copying them outright). Introduce lots of new characters? Check. CGI generic super villain wants to destroy things? Check. “Witty” banter? Check…ish. (99% of it fell flat, honestly. I think I laughed at maybe two of the ‘jokes’ that were delivered – Aquaman sitting on the lasso, and Flash’s “show our bellies” line – everything else was trying WAY too hard to be funny). Wonder Woman/Gal Gadot is still amazing, and I do like Affleck’s Bruce Wayne, but overall the DCU is just… not good?

31. Back to the Future II – when I was young, this was absolutely my favorite out of the trilogy. I thought that the future, the alternate 1985, and the re-visit to 1955/the original movie were all super amazing and really well done. Rewatching it… it’s still very fun, but, man, there was a lot of exposition that was super clunky, the gimmick of having Michael J Fox play his kids was just… dumb. I mean, his son, sure. But why his daughter as well? Just to put him in drag? And there were several ‘male gaze’ problems that were super evident (flew over my head as a kid, but they stuck out like sore thumbs now.)

32. Cell – a lowish quality adaptation of a lowish quality Stephen King book. (Cell wasn’t a bad novel, but it was really just The Stand-Lite, and the ambiguous ending felt …I don’t know. Cheap, somehow. – the movie changes that somewhat, actually, which I have to give props for. I may not have liked the ending of the movie, but it takes guts to actually go the route they did) And this movie wasn’t bad, exactly, either, but it felt like a lot of corners were cut? Like the effects in a lot of instances were not stellar, and some of the writing felt like… if I hadn’t read the novel, I might not be following this as closely as I was. [shrug] I dunno. It was …there. Nothing superb, I’ll probably forget about it in a week or so.

33. Black Panther – Damn it. Superhero movies aren’t supposed to make you THINK. (Kidding! More of this type of stuff, please.)

34. The Commuter – bland thriller with Liam Neeson on a train with a conspiracy unfolding.

35. Kidnap – true fact – if you remove all the times Halle Berry says, “Oh god”, “Frankie”, or “My son” and all the overhead shots of her SUV… the runtime of this movie becomes just under 7 minutes.

36. The Hitman’s Bodyguard – Ryan Reynolds plays a bodyguard (triple A rating!) and Samuel L. Jackson plays the hitman. Reynolds needs to get Jackson to a court to testify against a dictator (Gary Oldman, hamming it up like a boss). It’s extremely violent, extremely nonsensical and extremely funny. Very good popcorn flick that worked pretty much due to the chemistry between Reynolds and Jackson.

37. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – this might be the worst movie in the series. Umbridge, Fred & George, and Luna are all great, and the duel between Voldemort & Dumbledore was epic, but otherwise this was just a really …not great movie.

38. My Friend Dahmer – this was good and creepy and sad. A glimpse into notorious serial killer Jeffery Dahmer’s high school years, and the group of friends he hung with. The film does a good job of humanizing Dahmer, and making you feel sympathy and regret at the life he has, while also having an increasing sense of dread and doom (since we know how he’s going to turn out).

39. Slaughterhouse-Five – the novel is SO much better than this. Partly due to the fact that this was a movie made in the 70s, and it absolutely looks like a 70s movie. But, actually, considering that, it was not horrible. But honestly I would not be unopposed to a remake of this.

40. Incredibles 2 – very enjoyable. I’m normally opposed to Pixar doing sequels (they just don’t feel necessary, for the most part, and recapturing the magic usually doesn’t quite work), but this was a good ‘un. And I’d even be down for an Incredibles 3, if they wanted to expand the universe one more time.

41. Death Wish – 2018 remake of the 1974 revenge flick. I’ve never seen the original Death Wish (or any of the 4 (!!!) sequels), although I think I’ve seen bits of them before. Anyway, this was… okay? Bruce Willis is a doctor who is a pretty good person. After his wife (Elisabeth Shue) and college-aged daughter are attacked in a burglary, and the cops don’t produce any results, he starts to go vigilante. Hank from Breaking Bad is the main detective here. And Vincent D’Onofrio is here as Bruce Willis’s brother-in-law …whom I kept thinking was involved in the crime somehow, even though he totally isn’t. That was really distracting. Anyway, not a great movie by any stretch, but I’ve certainly seen worse.

42. How It Ends – sigh. This was a Netflix original movie. It has Forrest Whittaker in it, who I enjoy, and the acting is fine. But, so so SO frustrating. An “event” happens, where power is lost on the west coast after a massive earthquake… the military starts taking control, but nobody knows what is going on (writers included). Anyway, main character Will is having dinner with his father in law, Tom. They have a …frosty relationship, to say the least. Then, the event happens, and Tom & Will decide to road trip from Chicago to Seattle to make sure that daughter/wife Sam is okay. Along the way they encounter thugs and hillbillies and military roadblocks (that are easily circumvented through asking politely, I guess) and lightning storms and weird compass spins… which are all mostly compelling enough, I guess, but there is NO PAY OFF. At the end of the almost 2 hours, you’re left going, “That’s it??” Such a waste of time. Easily in the running for worst movie I’ve seen this year.

43. Pacific Rim Uprising – giant monsters. Giant robots. They fight. (Interspersed with a smidge too much blah blahing, but what ya gonna do?)

44. Captain Fantastic – This was really good – up to a point. Viggo Mortensen plays a father of six, who is raising his kids in the Oregon wilderness with a regiment of extreme physical and intellectual education. His kids hunt and cook and kill all their own food (the movie opens with his oldest son killing a deer with a knife!) and they read Noam Chomsky and Lolita and play instruments and speak multiple languages. It’s highly impressive, and somewhat scary. After the kids’ mother commits suicide (we find out later on that she was mentally ill), he takes them into the city to attend the funeral, and clashes with his father-in-law, who wants his grandchildren to have a “normal” life. All of this was fabulous and dramatic and engrossing and well worth watching. …And then there was the denouement. It felt like the writers decided to throw the realism (such as it was) of the first 4/5ths of the movie out the window in order to have a “happy” ending, which, while nice, also felt sort of cheap and unearned. I don’t know that a downer ending would have been better, but I might have respected them more if they’d done so. Still, though, this was an amazing movie, and I’m very glad to have seen it.

45. You Were Never Really Here – pretentious crap. Joaquin Phoenix gives a pretty great performance, but the movie was just muddled and confusing and, ultimately, pointless (I simply didn’t care at the end whether certain people lived or died because I wasn’t given enough reason to care about them). Sad, because there were definitely blocks of potential that could have been a really great movie, if it had been laid out in a better fashion.

46. Detention – If someone put Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Scream, Freaky Friday, Donnie Darko, The Breakfast Club, Scott Pilgrim vs the World, and Saw into a blender, it would probably result in Detention. This was not particularly *funny* (which it was aiming for, I think. And there were a few chuckles here and there), but it was certainly bizarre, and I gotta give it credit for that.

47. The Room – oh, hi Mark! Yes, this is as horrible as everyone says it is. The acting. Or I should say the “acting”. The incomprehensible “storylines”. The horrid sex scenes (each with it’s own lite-jazz/soft rock/I don’t even know what background song). The dialog. Oh, dear freaking lord in heaven, the dialog. “I don’t want to talk about it.” “Oh, hi, [name]”. “YOU’RE TEARING ME APART LISA.” “Do you understand life?” … oh, this whole thing was like some horrible trainwreck of a movie. I didn’t want to keep watching, and yet…

48. Isle of Dogs – I …wanted to like this, and some of it made me laugh/chuckle, but ….mostly it was …off somehow.

49. A Quiet Place – sure, there are tons of things that don’t quite add up (WHY would you have a baby?? Why not live next to the river? Nobody discovered the weakness of the creatures before then?, etc. ) but, just turn that part of your brain off and enjoy this for what it is – a tense, unique little horror flick.

50. Okja – kind of tonally crazy; felt like a kid friendly family flick got mashed up with a very dark documentary on factory farming. Okja, a genetically designed ‘super pig’ goes to live with a little girl, Mija, and her grandfather, out in Korea. 10 years later, the corporation that created Okja comes a’callin’.

51. The Princess Bride – such a great movie.

52. Jim and Andy: The Great Beyond – Featuring a Very Special, Contractually Obligated Mention of Tony Clifton – so, I’ve never seen Man On the Moon – the biopic about Andy Kaufman that came out back in 1999, so this documentary on the making of that film felt a little bit …fuzzy? I don’t know. It was interesting, but also felt a little bit navel-gazey? It made me want to look more into the life of Andy Kaufman. It seems like Andy was an interesting/annoying person, and Jim Carrey is also an interesting/annoying person, and to find out that Jim went and BECAME Andy during his filming of the movie was kind of amazing. I think, maybe, what would have made the film better is if we had gotten more viewpoints. The filmmakers talk to Jim the entire time, and we get glimpses of what other people thought, but I think interviewing others would have helped it.

53. Hereditary – fuuuuuck. Holy crap, man. This one got to me bad. It’s one of those movies where after you’ve seen it, you want to watch it again, to see all the clues/hints that you missed the first time around, but there is NO WAY I want to watch it again, because it was so freaking disturbing/emotionally draining… Toni Collette is a force of nature. This movie mixed mental illness and supernatural horror beautifully. The beginning was a bit of a slow burn, but as it picks up steam, it just does not relent. Highly recommended, at least once.

54. Avengers Infinity War – Easily the best “Avengers” movie. That ending. I seriously thought it was going to be reversed – and I’m sure it WILL be – but then it just went to black and I sat there and said, “What??” But, yes, this movie was a great superhero movie – funny, action-filled, and had several crowning moments of awesome. I guess it will really depend on HOW things are resolved/fixed to help determine where this sits in the pantheon of the Marvel Cinematic Universe ultimately, but, as it stands now, it’s pretty high up there in my opinion.

55. Deadpool 2 – I think more of the jokes worked in this one than in the first – there were multiple times I laughed out loud. Domino needs her own standalone movie. Even if luck isn’t a superpower. (Yes, it is.)

56. Rampage – well, that was a movie. Based on the video game. Loosely.

57. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom – the first good Jurassic Park sequel. Granted, the “turn off your brain” factor was cranked to 11, and it was like 45 minutes too long, but, hey, dinosaurs hunting and mauling people who mostly deserve it? Sounds good to me.

58. The First Purge – ridiculous, but marginally entertaining. Actually, this just left me feeling empty. Partly because it was a prequel, so, duh, we know how it’s gonna end up, and mostly because of real life trying its best to imitate ‘art’. (and because it felt like it was trying to imitate real life, but with no real…message? Like, it was just “hey remember that horrible thing that happened in real life three months back? Here’s a reference to that.”) Also, because it just wasn’t a very good movie.

59. Antibirth – This was garbage. I knew it was garbage about six or seven minutes in, and I still watched the whole thing. Sigh. Anyway, body-horror shlock about a junkie loser who gets impregnated with some…thing. The plot was crap, the directing was crap, the payoff was crap. I’m mostly angry with myself for wasting the time on it.

60. The Fly – rewatch. Still a classic. Although there’s no real conclusion. Poor Brundlefly meets his doom, and …fade to credits. Which brings us to…

61. The Fly II – also a rewatch, and still nowhere near as good as the original. AND this one doesn’t have a conclusion, either! Both of these movies left me wanting to see what happened AFTER. (The Fly way moreso than Fly II, of course.)

62. Starry Eyes – a lowish budget horror flick that doesn’t really bring anything new to the table, but it was not horrible. The strength is really in the performance of the lead, Alexandra Essoe. She’s Sarah Walker, an aspiring actress, who goes on an audition for a role in a horror movie that leads to, well, some not pleasant things.

63. Skyscraper – this was a generic popcorn flick, with the Rock trying to rescue his family from a Towering Inferno and trying not to Die Hard. It wasn’t great, but it certainly wasn’t memorable.

64. Eighth Grade – Bo Burnham’s directorial debut. Focused on Kayla’s last few weeks of being in eighth grade. It felt pretty realistic about what kids today have to go through, but also realistic in that a lot of what felt important and dramatic to a 13 year old is …actually kind of dull? Still, a really decent movie, and I hope that Bo keeps producing art, no matter what it is.

65. Ant-Man and the Wasp – the lower-stakes Marvel movies are oftentimes the best ones.

66. The Dark Tower – “based on” the Dark Tower series by Stephen King, this was … well, it wasn’t really the Dark Tower series put to film. It was more like someone took the Stephen King books, put them in a blender, and poured the slop that resulted out. Would it taste like Stephen King still? Well, a little. Would it still *be* the Dark Tower? …I guess. Kinda. I mean, the cast is decent enough, but Jake Chambers being one of the main Breakers? And having a mom and dead-dad issues and a stepfather and beating kids up in school and being the protagonist??? Well… it *sorta* works, but not exactly, really. Because it’s not the Dark Tower that we want. Or deserve. I had reservations about Elba being cast as Roland at first – but he pulled it off, I felt. Same with McConaughey being the Man in Black. And, yes, books and films are different, so of course, there are going to be altercations in adaptations. I’m mostly okay with that. it just felt like… it wasn’t epic enough, somehow. And, really, how do you start ANY adaptation of The Dark Tower without starting with THE sentence?? Yes, it was said later in the film, but really, it’s kind of a no-brainer that to get things started properly, you go with what King provided. Anyway, apparently this flopped pretty hard, so any sequels are unlikely, which I’m both fine with and upset by. Because I feel like it *could* grow into the series, if given enough time (and maybe better screenwriters? There were some really fine moments in the film, after all) Oh well. Perhaps on some other level of the Tower.

67. It’s a Wonderful Life

68. BlacKkKlansman – hugely entertaining, but, like so many things relating to current world events, somewhat disheartening. Especially the end real life footage that took up the final two or three minutes. But this Spike Lee Joint about an undercover black cop in Colorado who manages to infiltrate the KKK was compelling as hell.

69. The Happytime Murders – meh. In a world where puppets are sentient, but considered lowerclass citizens, a puppet ex-cop has to team up with his partner (Melissa McCarthy) when a bunch of puppet murders start occurring. Could have been good, but the “comedy” was all derived from the unfunny setup that raunchy puppets are funny.

70. Searching – mediocre thriller with a gimmick that mostly works – the entire thing is told thru computer screens: facetime calls, YouTube videos, CCTV footage, emails… that type of stuff. John Cho plays a newly widowed father who is searching for his missing teenage daughter. Debra Messing plays the detective that helps him look. Not a great movie, but not horrible, either.

71. Assassination Nation - When someone starts hacking phones and leaking the texts, members of the town of Salem start turning against one and another. Lily, a local teenager, guides the viewer through how a town could lose its mind and turn murderous in a short period of time. Extremely dark, and surprisingly tense, this black comedy is mostly light on the ‘comedy’, but was still insanely watchable. While it was, of course, completely over the top, in the bizarre-ass world we find ourselves in in 2018… it also felt very real.

2018 books

It's that time of the year again.
Time to review all the books I've read in the past three hundred sixtyish days.
As always, after the book title and author, I've got a brief review/synopsis/thoughts, and then the book's final sentence in parenthesis. (Spoiler tagged out except for the final word.) Heh. Spoiler tags. I'm so old.

Only 44 books this year, and, unsurprisingly, a number of them are graphic novels. However... next year I'm following in Stephanie's footsteps and partaking in a Goodreads challenge. So, if nothing else, I should have a much wider selection of titles in the following year. For now, though, here's what 2018 hath wrought:

Books read in 2018:

1. Strange Weather by Joe Hill – four novellas, each with a theme of bizarre weather (well, Loaded’s weather connection is tenuous, but whatever). Snapshot is sort of a cousin to The Sun Dog; this one has a guy with a supernatural Polaroid that can steal memories. Loaded is about a racist ex-military security guard who kills a mass shooter. It went a little overboard near the end, but it was still a good story. Aloft has a character skydiving and finds himself landing on a solid(ish) cloud that has a semi-telepathic link to him. (Yeah, it’s weird.) And Rain is a semi-apocalyptic tale about clouds raining needles. Rain had a great protagonist, Honeysuckle, whom I found a joy to spend time with. I hated Aloft’s narrator/protagonist, though. The ending of Loaded has stuck with me for the past four days since I finished it. And Snapshot was just more or less fluff, enjoyable, with some beautiful lines, but I don’t know if it’ll stick with me the way the others did. Here are the final sentences from each (note that Loaded’s is impactful, and should only be read if you’ve already read the story): Snapshot “Me neither,” I said – and I haven’t yet. Loaded If you had a gun,” he said to her, “this story might have a different ending.” Aloft He figured his mother might like to know he was alive. RainGod, let it be so.

2. Saga vol 8 by Brian K. Vaughn – Ehh. Previous volumes of Saga incorporated metaphors and philosophical ideas about various topics in a more natural fashion. This was blatant and felt preachy and just blah. I still want to see what happens with Hazel, but I think I’m okay with waiting until it’s all wrapped up (or at least a few more volumes have been released) to catch up on it all. The artwork is still fantastic, but this really did feel like filler and didn’t connect with me. (And that boy would become my brother.)

3. Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff –Donald Trump is the world’s most self-absorbed piece of shit. He’s also suffering from dementia to some degree. He’s misogynistic, xenophobic, racist, short-tempered (and short-fingered) and an all around asshole. His presidential campaign, election, and presidency is the greatest mistake America has ever made (and that’s saying something). None of this is news to anyone with even a few working brain cells. This book though, made it clear that a lot of people who are in politics are horrible (and a lot of RICH people are horrible, too), and Trump has surrounded himself with garbage-people who are all running their own agendas. Sigh. I just want him gone. He’s truly a horrible, horrible person, and the sooner he’s gone from our lives the better. (Standing on the Brietbart steps that October morning, Bannon smiled and said: “It’s going to be wild as shit.”)

4. I Am Not Okay With This by Charles Forsman – short graphic novel about Sydney, a teenage lesbian with emerging telekinesis. It felt like this might have been a better novel than a graphic novel, just so we could have gotten more time to experience Sydney’s life – although her life was a really downbeat one. (This is my gift to them.)

5. The Walking Dead vol 29 Lines We Cross by Robert Kirkman – eh. Started strong (I actually felt like characters were mourning the death from vol 28). Ended strong (if this was the last we see of Negan, that would be an EXCELLENT way to have wrapped up his arc). Middle was a whole lot of nothing. Princess may turn into someone I like, but the jury is still out. Overall, a lot of filler. I’m not sure where things are going yet. (Let’s go home.)

6. Paper Girls vol 4 by Brian K. Vaughn – Keeps getting better. (That’s what I thought the year 2000 would look like.)

7. Positive by David Wellington – Doorstopper of a novel from one of my favorite horror writers. This was about a zombie apocalypse 20 years later. A lot of the world is not in great shape. Finn lives in New York, until his mother goes zombie (when you get infected with the zombie virus you become a time bomb – you could turn in 20 minutes, or you could take up to 20 years to turn). Finn gets a tattoo on his hand indicating that he’s been possibly exposed (it could have been transmitted to him via breast milk when he was a baby), and is exiled from his community to go to a government holding facility for other “positives”. Except the government driver who is supposed to take him there winds up getting murdered by ‘road pirates’. So Finn has to go on the run. This was 400-something pages, and while it could have been a little bit slimmer, overall I really enjoyed the world that Wellington built. He’s been known to continue books in his worlds, so maybe we’ll meet up with the positives again. I wouldn’t object. (We did not put a tattoo on her little hand, and we aren’t going to.)

8. Day Four by Sarah Lotz – this had a great set up (a cruise ship gets stranded in the Gulf of Mexico, there’s a rapist-turned-murderer on board, as well as a psychic who may or may not be a fraud) …but then it just squandered it all. Things got worse on the ship, and the psychic began to build a cult, but any tension with regard to the rapist was lost when he got attacked by a spirit? Or something? And the “suicide sisters” (they were elderly women who had decided to commit suicide together during the cruise) - another couple of characters that had potential that was just completely wasted because one of them caught a norovirus that was going through the ranks of the ship. There were hints that the captain of the ship either didn’t exist, or was more devious than he should have been, but that fizzled out too. And the final fifth of the book was completely off the rails of what the rest of the novel had been. I mean, it had potential as well, but it came out of NOWHERE, and was like, “WHAT???” It was as if the author had six or seven ideas for different novels and just threw them all in. When I went to rate this at goodreads, I was originally going to give it two stars, but the more I thought of the wasted time and potential and honestly not that great writing, the angrier I got and the more I felt like this was just not a book I could recommend at all, so I gave it one star. AND I found out that apparently, this is a sequel. So apparently some of the characters from the first were included in this, and, evidently, the last fifth of this book makes more sense if you’ve read the first one. I won’t be reading it, though. (And then he laughs.)

9. The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor – so good. Extremely creepy and very twisty mystery – due in large part to an unreliable narrator, who does an excellent job casting doubt on EVERYONE involved in the telling of a coming of age tale in 1986 in England. Ed Addams and his gang felt real, and the neighborhood they lived in was brought to life wonderfully. Seeing the ravages of time between 86 and 2016 were sad and powerful as well. And then of course, there were the murder(s..) that happened. It got a little bit over twisty near the end, but I powered through this in a day and a half, and will absolutely be looking for more from this author. (I start the engine and drive away … toward Manchester, and my future.)

10. The Outsider by Stephen King – Just a sort of mediocre King novel, actually. It was immensely readable – it was King, after all – and it was a neat idea, but …overall it didn’t connect somehow. The characters were tough for me to care about, for some reason. Even the gruesome murder that takes place at the beginning felt… artificial? I don’t know. A character added at the midpoint was …unexpected, but kind of good, too? Like I get that King likes that character, but I’m not sure she belonged in this novel? Overall, I don’t know that this one was anything that will be remembered for long. Oh well. (That was good.)

11. Monster by Michael Grant – I really enjoyed the Gone series, which was written by Michael Grant. (Basic premise – a dome comes down a California beach town, Perdido Beach, and anyone aged 16 or older is transported out – leaving just the children to fend for themselves in the impenetrable dome. Things get worse when certain kids begin to develop superpowers. So, like Lord of the Flies mixed with Heroes.) Anyway, when I saw that he had started a new trilogy set in the same universe, I was totally on board. And this started off great – it was neat to revisit some of the old characters from the Gone-verse, and most of the new characters were enjoyable enough, as well. But as the book went on, it just got… boring? Like the stakes are way too high now (the asteroid that caused the FAYZ from the original series has more rocks approaching earth, and they’re landing everywhere, and people near them get powers)… and the mystery behind the powers is known (aliens, pretty much) and it just felt like everything was cranked up to 11, but it made it really hard to CARE. I’m not entirely sure if I’ll read the next two books in the series or not. Oh, who am I kidding, I’ll at least check out book 2, and see if it gets better. Still, I hope that the magic isn’t really gone, that would be a pity. (“Well, Dekka, maybe it’s time that I was your strong right arm instead of the other way around,” Sam Temple said.)

12. Vicious by V.E. Schwab – Another book about superheroes (or EOs, “ExtraOrdinary”s) but this one was SO GOOD. The world building was nifty, but the real treat was the characters, and how the protagonist and antagonist (Eli and Victor) more or less switch over the course of the novel. And, oh, man, the relationships between Sydney and Serena and Sydney and Victor and of course, Mitchell. And Dol! All of the characters were a treasure, even if living around any of them would be extraordinarily frightening. Apparently there’s a sequel, so I’ve got another book to look forward to! Hooray!! (A moment later, the cold ran up here arms, and caught her breath, and beneath her hands a heartbeat fluttered, as Victor Vale opened his eyes, and smiled.)

13. Sleep Over: An Oral History of the Apocalypse by H.G. Bells – I gave this 4 stars on Goodreads, but I think it’s really more of a 3.5-er (unfortunately, you can’t do half stars on Goodreads)… Anyway. Basic gist of this novel was that an unexplained affliction of insomnia affects the entire world simultaneously. Each chapter of this was the recounting of a survivor (so, spoiler alert, the insomnia eventually ends, and also spoiler, not everyone dies). So, in a lot of ways, it’s a lot like World War Z (the book, not the movie) – where it’s first hand narratives of people who experienced the end of the world. Only it wasn’t the undead, it was people not being able to fall asleep. Which, bonus points for originality there. Some of the cons, though were that the voices of the characters…weren’t really that different from each other. Very few of the characters “stood out”, and there also wasn’t enough time with anyone for them to truly develop. There were scenes in each vignette that were shocking or compelling or whatever, but there was no character growth, or much of an overall plot, either. It was more a collection of dozens and dozens of (very) short stories that were all connected by being in the same world. That being what it was, it did very well. It’s obvious that the author did a lot of research, and they’re quite talented with writing, and world building, so, if this author writes anything else, I’ll give it a look. (Sleep, and sleep well.)

14. The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay – Paul Tremblay is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. This novel was mostly really really good. The final third wobbles a bit, though, sadly. Andrew and Eric have their adopted daughter, Wen, out on an isolated cabin near the Canadian border, when four strangers carrying homemade weapons arrive and demand to talk to them about making a choice that will impact the entire future of the world. Things get ugly very very fast. It’s a short novel – or felt short, because I read through it pretty quickly. I can easily see this being turned into a very tense movie. Like I said, the final 3rd of the book was… different than the first 2/3rd somehow. And while I love me some ambiguity, I felt like maybe the book would have been stronger if it had provided a more solid stance on certain events, but whatever. Overall it was a great novel. (We will go on.)

15. The Oracle Year by Charles Soule – Will Dando wakes up one morning with 108 predictions in his head. He starts posting them online, and as the predictions start actually happening, the world reacts. This was… okay. There were certain plot developments that I didn’t see coming, and there were others that weren’t explained sufficiently, in my opinion. And the character development was hit-or-miss, but, hey, it was interesting enough that I finished it, and was written well enough that I would probably be willing to check out future works from this author. (If it turned out that she did have more to say, well, there was always tomorrow.)

16. Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 11 Vol.1 The Spread of Their Evil by Christos Gage – Sigh. I haven’t read every “season” of the Buffy comics, but I’ve peeked at Wikipedia here and there to somewhat keep up with what’s been developing, and I think I read most of season 10? Or maybe 9? I can’t recall. Point is, my love for Buffy is a powerful thing, but I think it’s waning. This installment was just… bad. It’s supposed to feel “timely”, I’m guessing, but the government/racism/xenophobia storylines just felt …tiring, and trite and just not great. I mean, Trump’s America is crappy, making comics that are thinly veiled metaphors about it feels …tired, I guess. (But once they’ve got all that power… I promise you, whatever they want to use it for is going to be worse.)

17. Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 11 Vol 2. One Girl in All the World by Christos Gage – the story was slightly better than the first volume, but I’m pretty much done with Buffy at this point. It’s just the Buffy/Spike/Willow show, and really, they’re the worst/most boring characters they’ve got in that universe. (I love you, too.)

18. Mosquitoland by David Arnold – quite good. YA novel about 16 year old Mary Iris Malone (Mim) who runs away from home after her father remarries, and letters from her mom stop arriving. She is informed that her mom has been hospitalized, and she hops on a bus to go see her. The ending had some writing and plot twists that were phenomenal. The middle meandered a little, and some of the quirky characters were a little bit TOO quirky, but overall this was very enjoyable. (Because sometimes a thing’s not real until you say it out loud.)

19. Those Girls by Chevy Stevens – a “thriller” that was poorly written. 3 young girls live with their abusive, alcoholic father on a farm. One night he gets especially abusive, and he ends up getting killed in self defense. The girls go on the run shortly thereafter, only to end up getting captured by two teenage/early twenty boys who rape and torture them. Last half of the book jumps forward 17 years, and none of the “girls” (they’re grown women, but, of course, everyone (author included) still refers to them as “girls”) have made their lives all that much better. And one of them had a child as a result of the rapes. Blah. I’m irritated at myself for having finished this – I kept commenting that I needed to “finish my stupid book”. I knew while I was reading it that it wasn’t good, but I kept convincing myself it would get better. As is so often the case in these types of situations, it didn’t. Also of note, this book came into my circle of knowledge due to a recommendation from Stephen King. This isn’t the first time that he’s led me astray, sadly. Although there have been other recommendations that were fine. He’s hit or miss with those, is what I’m saying. (Three of us, once again.)

20. Letter 44 Volume I: Escape Velocity by Charles Soule – the 43rd president (Carroll) ends his presidency and leaves his successor (Stephen Blades) a letter telling him that 7 years ago, alien technology was discovered out near the asteroid belt. A crew on the spaceship USS Clarke was sent to investigate. Oh, and those wars that the US has been fighting were done to help build an army on the off chance that the aliens are on their way to earth. This was a pretty neat graphic novel – it has some flaws, but is intriguing enough to keep my interest in the series. (Just remember, when things get bleak – you are not alone.)

21. Letter 44 Volume II: Redshift by Charles Soule – the political backstabbing on Earth ratchets up, while the storyline on the Clarke gets …weird. I’m still on board with seeing where this is gonna go, especially as Blades makes decisions that are equally rational and obsessively boneheaded. (All I have to do is love you.)

22. Smek for President by Adam Rex – I read “The True Meaning of Smekday” a few years back, and enjoyed that, so when I discovered that a sequel had been written, I figured, sure. It was not quite as much fun as the original (law of diminishing returns strikes again, I guess). It was still somewhat fun, there were a few moments of joy/fun, but it felt like a case of …trying too hard? Still, it was just a YA (or maybe younger, really) novel that was light and breezy. J.Lo, Tip, and the new characters, Funsize, and Bill are all enjoyable enough to spend a few hours with here and there, so if they have any other adventures in the future, I’ll be there. (Am I late?)

23. The Song of the Orphans by Daniel Price – book 2 in the “Silvers” trilogy. I read book 1 in 2015, and declared it as “700 pages of awesome timey-wimey goodness”. Book 2 is another 700 pages of awesome timey-wimey goodness. Although, a little bit of the shine has worn off. Not a lot, but just enough to make it not *quite* as exciting as the first book was. But, this was still a great time. There was a MAJOR twist/reveal at around the ¾ mark, and it made me want to go back through the entire series at that point to see if there had been hints/foreshadowing. I opted not to, because MAN that would be a lot of work, and also because Daniel Price has OBVIOUSLY planned this entire epic extremely well. Anyway, book 1 had the number 5 throughout, and this one had the number 4 pop up constantly. Which made me wonder if it’s really going to be a 5 book series, rather than a trilogy, and each book would have the number get lower. The overall series IS counting down to the date where the world is going to end, after all. Still, this series has been a lot of fun so far, and I’m eagerly awaiting book 3. (They kept perfect time.)

24. Beverly by Nick Drnaso – graphic novel, quick read. A bunch of slice-of-life stories about various folks in Anytown, America. All of whom lead normal, modern, depressing-as-hell lives. This whole collection felt very human, moderately cynical, and just a tinge …off. I think if any of it had been balanced with a bit of hope or optimism, this may have been brilliant. Instead it was just a downer that left me a little confused, and a bit of a bad taste in my mouth. (See you later.)

25. Springfield Confidential: Jokes, Secrets, and Outright Lies from a Lifetime Writing for The Simpsons by Mike Reiss – Quick read that was part autobiography, part behind-the-scenes, part joke book from one of the contributing writers. I’m sure Mike is a funny and swell guy, but, sadly, a LOT of the jokes fell flat for me (much like modern episodes of the Simpsons!). Comedy is hard, after all. And comedy books even more so. For so much of comedy to work, it’s the delivery. But, the overall sense I got from the book is that writing at the Simpsons (going on season 30!! Holy crap!) is a lot of fun, but… I think it probably needs some new blood. Sure, everyone knows each other, and gets along just fine (there was incredibly little “drama” from all the years he’s worked there) but the show is really just a shadow of its former glorious self. It’s somewhat telling that a good portion of the stories and episodes he talked about were from the first 9 years… Ah, well, it was still a neat little glimpse into what goes into making a show that has absolutely changed the world we live in. (The teddy bear below it was my Christmas gift to Denise; the cremation urn was her gift to me.)

26. Jupiter’s Legacy Book One by Mark Millar – pretty standard superhero tale. A group of average folks find an island (which may have actually been an alien spaceship) back in the 1930s, which turned them into superheroes. 70 years later, and America isn’t doing all that great financially. Some infighting between the older superhero generation leads to a murder of the patriarch of the family, and his daughter (pregnant by the child of a supervillain…) goes on the run. Jump 10 years into the future. They’re still fugitives, until they get found out, and decide they’re going to finally fight back. Nothing new or groundbreaking, really, but it’s decent enough that I’ll continue reading the series for now. (When did superheroes ever care about the odds?)

27. Jupiter’s Legacy Book Two by Mark Millar – pretty sure the writers got tired of the storyline. It all got wrapped up pretty quickly, and while it dropped some hints at what story could be done going forward, I don’t think I’ll be interested enough to continue. The ending had a page stating that “Jupiter’s Requiem” would be coming in “2019”, so, they do seem to have finished up the “Legacy” section of the story they’re telling (there is also “Jupiter’s Circle” which is a prequel focusing on the 1932 generation that I have zero interest in.) Overall… I think that superhero stories have to be something REALLY special to stand out, and this just…wasn’t. (It’s the secret of the universe, sweetheart…why else would we be here?)

28. The Hunger by Alma Katsu – You know the Donner party? That doomed pioneer expedition back in 1846 where the group got stranded in the Sierra mountains and reportedly resorted to cannibalism in order to survive? Well…what if, horrific as that was, there was also something ELSE out there? Stalking them. Picking them off one by one. Hunting. This re-imagining was pretty great. Katsu writes beautifully, and captures the time very well – it’s crazy how not all THAT long ago, life was much more difficult and rough than it currently is. This was a neat – and especially near the end – very tense and gripping horror/history book. (He fell to his knees and reached out a hand.)

29. Vengeful by V.E. Schwab – It was so nice to get back into this universe! Apparently this is going to be a trilogy, which is the good news. The bad news is book 2 just came out, and I have no idea when 3 is going to be released. This brought back Victor and Eli and Sydney and Mitchell and Stell, and introduced a bunch of NEW EO’s (and an organization hunting them – EON): June, Marcella, and a large number of cannon fodder folks. Nobody is safe in this world. I gave this book 5 stars on goodreads, even if it was really more a 4.5, but the characters and world building are truly fantastic. I like how the concepts of family, power, revenge, death and sexism were all investigated and handled so well. The wait for the 3rd book is going to be brutal. (June glanced in the rearview mirror, checked her new face, and drove away.)

30. The Walking Dead vol. 30: New World Order by Robert Kirkman – okay, Walking Dead (comics version) is back on track. Two ideologies are about to clash, and I’m totally onboard with it. (Plus, no Negan!) It’s great that there can be tension in the storyline without zombies (I think only like 3 pages had any zombies in it to this time around) and the characters are strong enough for you to keep caring. No idea how this story arc will pan out, but the series has earned enough good will for me to keep with it, and as they are laying the groundwork for this arc to get going, they’ve got my interest. (Then maybe we need a new world order.)

31. Saga vol 9 by Michael K Vaughn – Volume 8 didn’t really work for me, but boy, did they make up for it with volume 9. All the feels. A few shocking deaths, crazy ass art work, humor, characters you love (or love to hate)… all the stuff that makes Saga great. (Not everybody does.)

32. Come Closer by Sara Gran – it’s called a novel on the outside cover, but it’s really more a novella, because it wasn’t even 200 pages. Anyway. Light breezy book about a woman, Amanda, who gets possessed by a demon, and has her life with her husband, Ed, pretty much destroyed as a result. The characters weren’t really developed well enough to care too much as Amanda’s life gets taken over by the demon, but it held my interest enough to read through the entire thing (the fact that it’s so short helps, too.) I think this is a rare book that would have been better had it actually been longer. (And that’s all I’ve ever wanted, really: someone to love me, and never leave me alone.)

33. Everything That Follows by Meg Little Reilly – Kat, Hunter, and Kyle head out onto Hunter’s boat after a late night of drinking, and Kyle accidentally falls overboard. Kat and Hunter panic, and don’t go the cops. This was …okay. The writing was above average, but there were a lot of confusing jumps in time, and while I wanted to find out what was going to happen I also found it difficult to get through. I may check out other stuff from the writer, because she does have a way with words. (Kyle, and the invulnerable tide that had pulled everything in, was behind her now.)

34. Kick Ass The New Girl Volume 1 by Mark Millar – The original Kick Ass graphic novels (and the first movie) were great fun, that got progressively less inventive and engaging. So, a reboot of the franchise? Well, sure. I’m down. And this one turned out to be pretty great! I like Patience, and watching as she grows into the superhero she actually is. And having her nemesis be related to her means some great drama is brewing for future installments. It’s not as funny as the original, and some of the gore at the end felt a little gratuitous, but that’s kind of to be expected with Millar’s stuff. Overall, I’m not complaining about this new installment at all. (What exactly do we call you?)

35. Elevation by Stephen King – short little novella from King. This was about Scott Carey, a guy in Castle Rock, who has been afflicted with a mysterious …affliction. He’s losing weight, but not mass. As his weightlessness drops closer and closer to zero, Scott’s interactions with some of the citizens of Castle Rock have bigger impacts. This was a super quick read that was …okay? Nothing huge, and it probably could have (and/or should have?) been included in a collection of short stories instead of released on its own. But, whatever. I’m pretty happy with any King work. (Somewhere high above them, Scott Carey continued to gain elevation, rising above the earth’s mortal grip with his face turned toward the stars.)

36. We Sold Our Souls by Grady Hendrix – this took a little bit of getting into for me, but once I did, it really took off and was one hell of a fun ride. Kris Pulaski was lead guitar in a heavy metal band called Dürt Würk in the early 90s. (Were there still metal bands in the early 90s? Sure, but grunge was kinda forcing them into oblivion, but whatever) Anyway, the band – Kris, Scottie Rocket on bass, Kurt on drums, and lead singer Terry Hunt – was on the verge of becoming “big”, when “contract night” happened. The band broke up, Terry went on to become a solo act known as Koffin (akaThe Blind King) (imagine huge elements of Marilyn Manson – which the novel even admits) who became super successful, while the other three members of the band became bitter and broken individuals. 20 years later, Koffin announces he’s doing a retirement tour, and Kris decides she needs to confront Terry about what happened on contract night, and perhaps get the band back together. When she goes to visit Scottie Rocket at his home, she finds that Scottie has become a paranoid, broken man who claims that Terry and his dark forces are spying on them all the time. Things get progressively worse and spookier as it becomes evident that Scottie’s delusions are…not so delusional. (While reading this, I saw a UPS driver coming into the station, and my heart stopped for a half a second…) This wasn’t a perfect book – like I said, it was a little bit slow at first, and I had hoped for a more satisfying conclusion to some of the character’s arcs – but I haven’t read a “bad” Hendrix novel yet, and this is another that I recommend to anyone who is a fan of metal, or horror, or the mixing of the two. (One pebble at a time.)

37. How to Invent Everything: A Survival Guide for the Stranded Time Traveller by Ryan North – This isn’t exactly a “novel”, per se. It’s packaged as a guidebook for anyone who uses a Chronotix FC3000 time travel machine and gets, well, stranded in a time in the past and wants to help boost that time period along. Find yourself thousands of years in the past and written language hasn’t been developed yet? Well, this book will help you out! Stranded in the time before penicillin? Got ya covered! Want to have your civilization skip over the dark ages and get into the Renaissance? This is the book for you. It’s a very dense, but still highly readable (and quite snarky) encyclopedia type manual that showcases all the different pieces that have gotten civilization to the point we’re at. (With warmest professional regards from your friends at Chronotix Solutions.)

38. Girl Town by Carolyn Nowak – graphic novel that was more like 5 short stories. Each of these were drawn with different (and yet, all highly impressive!) art styles. Most of the short stories didn’t really have much happen, but they were still enjoyable. The first was “Girl Town”, which focused on a group of young women who live next to each other; one of them has an unspoken crush on the meanest bully. Again, not a lot happens in it, but it was still just… enjoyable. (And angry.) The next, “Radishes”, was odd, but still fun, and actually a bit touching. Two young women are walking around and discover a hidden basket of magic food. When they eat different things, bits of magic occur – like the apples make them levitate. The radishes cause a second version of themselves to momentarily appear. (Let’s get outta here.) The third story was the longest, and my favorite of the bunch. “Diane’s Electric Tongue” takes place in a world where robots are more advanced and common than our own. The story focuses on Diane and her relationship with her robot, Harbor, along with her relationship with her group of friends and her ex. I could have easily read an entire novel about this storyline. (I will be with her until she doesn’t want me anymore.) “The Big Burning House” was the shortest, and in my opinion the weakest of the bunch. It was just a podcast of two friends talking about a tv series they were obsessed with. The artwork was impressive, as always, and the dialogue was realistic enough, but, like most podcasts out there, I just found what the characters were talking about boring, and the story didn’t really go anywhere. Or maybe I just missed the point of it? (But was she strong enough not to drown?) The final story, “Please Sleep Over” was a bit confusing and a bit creepy. Two young women friends are staying at the summer home of one of their parents, out in the woods. While one of them is showering up, a neighbor comes in and starts making small talk, asking if they remember certain things from the past. She doesn’t, but doesn’t want to be rude. Near the end of the story, yet another person makes their way into the house. It would have been nice to have some resolution, but, again, the artwork was really great. (I can see her.)

39. The Grownup by Gillian Flynn – a short story that I read in just under an hour (it’s only 64 pages long) that, despite being so brief managed to contain several twists and turns that thoroughly entertained. (Nothing to worry about at all.)

40. Come Again by Nate Powell – graphic novel about a commune in Arkansas in the 70s. This was confusing and obtuse and I didn’t really like it very much. (Will you need to?)

41. Dry by Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman – a Young Adult dystopian novel…except it’s set in the very near future, and it’s semi-plausible (maybe even inevitable?) – Southern California’s residents run out of water. Completely. It doesn’t go well after that. Concept was okay, but, man, oh, man, did I I hate nearly every. Single. Character. (with the possible exception of Kingston, the dog) I get they’re all teens (or younger), and they’re in a situation way over their heads, but, eh. I just didn’t *like* anyone, and was, honestly, kind of hoping it would end poorly for all of them. Granted, it was a YA novel, so it was extremely unlikely that it would have gone that way, but I think if it HAD… I might have had more respect for it as a story. (And a wellspring of all the things that still might be.)

42. Letter 44 Volume III: Dark Matter by Charles Soule – it’s been a while since I had read volumes 1 and 2, so I’d forgotten a lot of what had led up to this, which made getting back into the story a little difficult. Plus… a lot of the pacing felt like ..well, sort of like just spinning wheels. Even with World War 3 going on in the background, the story was just …there. I will probably be completing the series, just to find out what it’s all building toward, but I’m not super motivated to do it at this point. Hopefully it picks up the pace soon; as it ended with a bit of a cliffhanger, I suspect/hope that it will in the next volume. (I would like to meet with the President.)

43. He-Man/Thundercats by Rob David – a graphic novel crossover between He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and the Thundercats properties. This started off pretty strong – the artwork is unique – not utilizing either cartoon from the 80s – but the novelty wore off pretty quickly when I realized that there were no real stakes (nobody was going to be killed off (at least permanently) or have any real growth). This was the equivalent of when I was a young kid playing with my action figures and having them battle one another. Great fun when I was 10, not quite as enjoyable at 43. (By the power of Greyskull!)

44. Phoebe and Her Unicorn in Unicorn Theater by Dana Simpson – I greatly enjoyed the Phoebe and Her Unicorn stand alone comics. Those sometimes have arcs that extend over several weeks, but are for the most part self-contained and just there as jokes. This was a graphic novel with a plot through the entire thing, and …it wasn’t quite as enjoyable. There wasn’t a lot of the humor that the normal three panel strips have, and since I haven’t read any of the previous novels (apparently there have abeen a few other graphic novel outings like this one) some of the continuation was lost on me. (Nothing that really hindered the enjoyment of the novel – just a few new characters that I’d never seen before, really.) It was still very beautiful and bright and charming, just wasn’t as great as the original-flavor Phoebe strips are. (Then consider this a twist ending.)

Friday, November 02, 2018

title TBA, I guess

I couldn't think of a decent title. I'm in a bit of a grumpy mood, mostly (I'm assuming) due to hunger. I'm in the process of cooking dinner now, so the hunger issue will be dealt with relatively soon, but other things ARE irritating me. Old man time!!

Jimmy Kimmel, and his "film yourself cruelly lying to your young children" shtick he does every year. Why is this still a thing?

Also, I'm several thousand words behind schedule on Nano. Which I don't *super* care about - I'll write what I write - but it does minorly bug, ya know?

And the fact that Trench (the latest Twenty One Pilots album) is ...only okay. I've listeened to it about 4 or 5 times through now, and my consensus is: Starts off really strong, has a weak/meandering middle, finishes strong. Still think My Blood is the second worst song TOP has ever produced (I skip it each go around on the cd) but Bandito, Jumpsuit, Levitate (those two really ought to be played back-to-back on the radio, like Queen's We Will Rock You/We Are the Champions, or Green Day's Brain Stew/Jaded), Morph, Legend, Leave the City and Pet Cheetah are all good tunes.

Hold on, food cooking break.


And there's something womlu with our computer and so all the text that I'm writing shows up green and illegible (but it doesn't publish that way, fortunately, so, it's not all bad, I guess.)

And it's the last weekend before Election Day, which means I'm "on call" this weekend, in case any last minute political orders come through (it's never happened in the 10 years that I've been doing this, but they always ask, and we almost always say that we'll be available for them.)

And... I think those are the big things that were bugging me. And like I said, I'm sure once I get some food in my belly, I'll feel much better. I think I'm going to go do that now.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

from my phone, yo

Well, this is different. I'm blogging this from my phone, because it's late and I'm tired, and it's something I can do. I don't necessarily have anything of interest to say about it, but it's a first for me. Tomorrow is halloween. Kinda crazy that we're at that point in the year already. And a week from today is (finally) election day.  I truly hope for a better result than the last one.
(I am honestly unsure of what tuesdays outcome will be. 16 seemed like a sure thing, after all. This year ive been trying to keep my expectations low. Guess well find out in a weeks time.) Anyway, blogging has now officially been done, which means I can try to get some rest now. . Haven't been sleeping well lately. I blame the news, mostly. And getting older, maybe. And the seasons. And our 13 year old mattress. Sheesh, I am totally turning into an old man who just complains about everything. ..

Thursday, October 25, 2018

obligation complete

I'm too tired to do much more than that, sorry.

Friday, October 12, 2018

company loves misery

I mean, it's a small comfort, but at least I'm not the only employee that is feeling absolutely overwhelmed, overworked, overpressured and overstressed due to political season.

It's a testament to ...well, I guess to needing to pay bills and eat, that more of us haven't just said screw this and walked off the job. Because, hoo boy, if that were an option...

On the bright side, we did make 3rd quarter's budget, so there's a bonus coming at the end of the year for that. AND. There are only 20-something more days until the freaking midterms and then things will normalize for a bit. Hopefully.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

delay tactics!

Yay, I have inspiration for a story!

Now comes the part where I decide to focus on research and tinkering with the plot in my mind instead of actually writing it.

Saturday, September 22, 2018


Went and had Chick-fil-a for the first time in, like two decades (probably closer to three, to be honest),  and... it did not live up to the hype that I had in my mind/memory. So few things really do. But, that just makes it that much easier to never need to eat there again. (I know, the politics of the owners should be enough, but I remembered the food as being SO good. Turns out, nope.)

Friday, September 21, 2018

100 days left

Random entry time!

Today is Stephen King's 71st birthday.

Relatedly, I recently finished watching season 1 of Mr. Mercedes (the streaming series from ...AT&T?? Man, does EVERYONE have a streaming service now?) Anyway, I picked up the DVD from the library (aka, sticking it to The Man) and watched the 10 episode season. Overall, I felt it was a pretty strong bit of television, and improved a lot on the novel. (I felt that the novel was standard King. I liked it a lot, but it wasn't one of his best.) ANyway, the series was immensly watchable, with a few things that didn't work. Oddly, there is a scene in the novel that was supremely disturbing that ...didn't work as well on screen. (Without getting spoilery, I'll just say Brady's younger brother.) And dream scenes bug me a lot lately, and there were a few of those that i felt were somewhat just padding. So, maybe if the series had been 8 episodes it would have been stronger? I mean, 10 didn't really wear out its welcome or anything, but it still could have been tightened up somewhat.
The music selection was top notch.  And I adored Fred and was always happy to see him in the credits. The casting of Brady, Hodges, and Jerome were all perfecto. And while my feelings toward book-Holly are ambivalent, tv series-Holly went a long way toward improving my outlook on the character.
Speaking of characters and improvment - Brady. Oh man, King tries (too hard, maybe?) in the novel to have you HATE him. And, yes, he's vile and murderous and so on, but ... the series just makes it so much better. Because while he's frightening and hateful, he's also ...more human? Like, there are moments where you can actually feel sympathy for him, and where he has glimpses of actual humanity that make him all the more complex. (Plus, he did murder a homophobic white supremacist, so he's not all bad, I guess...)
I read that a lot of people didn't like book-Hodges because he's selfish and puts others in danger at the cost of his obsession with Brady. Series-Hodges is unlikable for other reasons (he can be off-putting) but I think they toned down the "putting other people in danger" aspect to a more realistic degree.
Wow, I rambled about that a lot more than I had intended to. Suffice to say that I enjoyed the show, and once season 2 gets out on DVD, I'll check that out, too. (I wonder if they will stick to the Mr Mercedes trilogy...and if that means that there will be anything past a season 3. Book 2 didn't really focus on Brady much, actually so I'm guessing season 2 will follow more of book 3.... I dunno.


What else?

Silas is playing the Legend of Zelda (original flavor) and .... Link was kind of fat back in the day. Not body shaming, just observing.

Speaking of body shaming and Nintendo.
Actually, no. Not even gonna go there. (apologies for even approaching it, as I'm sure if you're aware of it, it's now (back) in your mind now...)

Tangentially related to THAT, though - overheard some people at work the other day discussing Brett Kavanaugh. More accurately, they were discussing the allegations against him. The gist of the conversation was that it was "a long time ago" when they were both in high school, and, bringing things up NOW was unfair and "back when I was in high school there were  boys who would try to sneak into women's bathrooms" and  blah blah blah, because people suck.  (Somewhat interestingly, we had a person who worked at the station with the same name as the current SC nominee, although his last name was spelled with a C instead of a K. Based on the little I know of both Bretts, I would prefer that *our* Brett was the one who would be deciding court cases.)

November cant' get here soon enough. I am SO freaking tired of political season.

I have watched about the first third of Avengers Infinity War so far, and so forgive me if this is answered later - but...why not use the Reality Stone to, um, make it so you have the others?

There's a new show starting on NBC on MOnday called Manifest, which looks a bit like a Lost-reboot, but I've watched the first segment (it's been posted up on YouTube) and It looks like it's going to focus more on the relationships than on the actual mystery of what happened, and I'm just not there for it. (Although I'm curious if Trump will get mentioned in the show at all. I mean, if you had disappeared in 2013, and then just arrived in 2018, THAT would certainly be a shock to discover. Hell, living through it has been a bit of  one. Also, if it did happen in real life, you know he'd take credit for the plane returning/blame Obama somehow.)

There are only 100 days left in 2018. Not sure how many of them will be blogging days, but I guess we'll see. And then after that.... I've been thinking about possibly not blogging anymore. I don't (typically) have a lot to talk about, and I don't know if anyone is even still reading. But, then, I've felt that way before, and have somehow always come back around, so who even knows.

Monday, September 03, 2018

so August was pretty quiet

Not that September is shaping up to be anything yet, either. I guess it's still too early to tell.


Anything interesting lately? Erm... I shaved my head yesterday, so... that has taken some time to adjust to. (Tomorrow I get to see all the reactions from coworkers. Oh, goody.)

Harper's car is in need of repairs of ...some magnitude, although exactly how much/what is still trying to be determined. Here's hoping that the universe is feeling kind.

I've been super uninspired when it comes to writing, and have been thinking that since normally all my story ideas are of the fantastical/sci-fi/not really realistic type... that maybe I should take a crack at writing something a little more ...grounded. It hasn't happened yet, but I have been thinking about it. I don't even know if that is possible for me - to write something that is about actual people having actual lives that could actually happen? Well, the idea is simmering in my head, we'll see if anything results from it.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

like rats off a sinking whatever

a LOT of people have been leaving/are leaving work lately/soon. It seems to happen like this every so often - there will be a rash of multiple folks all find other work (or get fired) all around the same time.
it doesn't really bother me - just makes me a little sad, is all. Most of these folks are good people (I'm sure they all are, but I don't KNOW all of them). Plus, since one of them is from my department, and another is someone that I work pretty closely with, MY workday is being impacted, which I'm not a fan of. And, sadly, I know that both of these coworkers would probably stay with the company, if they were being paid what they're actually worth. Stupid cheapskate corporation.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

top 100 scifi movies of all time

Oh, random articles on the internet...

So, just like how a few weeks ago I listed the top 100 horror movies (of all time!), now I've got the top 100 science fiction flicks, courtesy of this article at And, again, these are based off of scores from critics. And, again, bolding the ones I've seen.

100. Movement and Location (2015)
99.  Serenity (2005)
98.  Inception (2010)
97.  Twelve Monkeys (1996)
96.  Thelma (2017)
95.  Okja (2017)
94.  X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
93.  Captain America: Civil War (2016)
92.  Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
91.  Attack the Block (2011)
90.  THX 1138 (1971)
89.  Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
88.  Repo Man (1984)
87.  The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)
86.  Birdboy: The Forgotten Children (2017)
85.  Ghost in the Shell (1996)
84.  10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)
83.  Wonder Woman (2017)
82.  World on a Wire (1973)
81.  Midnight Special (2016)
80.  Escape From New York (1981)
79.  Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
78.  Logan (2017)
77.  Westworld (1973)
76.  Evolution (2016)
75.  Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1982)
74.  WarGames (1983)
73.  Sleeper (1973)
72.  2046 (2005)
71.  Ex Machina (2015)
70.  A Clockwork Orange (1971)
69.  Under the Skin (2014)
68.  Godzilla (1954)
67.  Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)
66.  Iron Man (2008)
65.  Jodorowsky's Dune (2014)
64.  Annihilation (2018)
63.  The Fly (1986)
62.  Planet of the Apes (1968)
61.  Time Bandits (1981)
60.  Minority Report (2002)
59.  The Survivalist (2017)
58.  The Endless (2018)
57.  Incredibles 2 (2018)
56.  Melancholia (2011)
55.  Superman (1978)
54.  The Martian (2015)
53.  Sorry to Bother You (2018)
52.  Paprika (2007)
51.  District 9 (2009)
50.  Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens (2015)
49.  The World's End (2013)
48.  Battle Royale (2000)
47.  Upstream Color (2013)
46.  Little Shop of Horror (1986)
45.  The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976)
44.  Arrival (2016)
43.  Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
42.  Isle of Dogs (2018)
41.  Marjorie Prime (2017)
40.  A Quiet Place (2018)
39.  Star Trek (2009)
38.  2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
37.  The Lobster (2016)
36.  Face/Off (1997)
35.  Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
34.  War For the Planet of the Apes (2017)
33.  Alien (1979)
32.  Spider-Man 2 (2004)
31.  Avatar (2009)
30.  Snowpiercer (2014)
29.  The Terminator (1984)
28.  Looper (2012)
27.  Aliens (1986)
26.  Children of Men (2006)
25.  Holy Motors (2012)
24.  The Iron Giant (1999)
23.  The Host (2007)
22.  Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi (2017)
21.  Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (1985)
20.  Back to the Future (1985)
19.  Superman II (1981)
18.  Black Panther (2018)
17.  Donnie Darko: The Director's Cut (2014)
16.  Brazil (1985)
15.  Blade Runner (1982)
14.  Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977)
13.  Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
12.  Hard to Be a God (2015)
11.  King Kong (1933)
10.  It's Such a Beautiful Day (2012)
9.   Solaris (1972)
8.   Her (2013)
7.   Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
6.   E.T. The Extra-Terrstrial (1982)
5.   Werkmeister Harmonies (2001)
4.   Threads (1984)
3.   WALL-E (2008)
2.   Gravity (2013)
1.   Metropolis (1927)