Friday, April 19, 2019

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Secret City, Season Two:
For an omniscient police state, people seem to get away with a lot. This season has a more realistic conspiracy to unravel, but suffers from unnaturally muted reactions and overly convenient character relationships. There are also about 5 too many white men to keep track of. I enjoyed piecing together the conspiracy here but felt like this was the weaker of the two seasons. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B-

Two Degrees by Illy:
Illy is the pop-iest of Australian hip hop artists -- he's not a great rapper, but he writes good hooks and enables great collaborations with other artists. There are a few catchy tunes on this album but it's not amazing.

Final Grade: B-

Inside Black Mirror by Charlie Brooker and Annabel Jones:
This book is a great coffee table companion to the series, Black Mirror, full of interesting commentary about the first four seasons from the creators, directors, and actors.

Final Grade: B+

Santa Clarita Diet, Season One:
I enjoyed this show more than I thought I would, mostly on the novelty of Timothy Olyphant in a comedic role and the fun dialogue. Drew Barrymore plays a housewife turned undead, and the shallow plots mostly consist of the clash between typical suburban life and the need to kill people to eat them. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B

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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Time-lapsed Blogography Day: 19 Years Ago Today

19 years ago today, on April 17, 2000, I was unusually productive. It was my fourth year of undergrad at Virginia Tech and there were only 2.5 weeks left in the school year. I started the day by working on my second (and ultimately aborted) text adventure game, Robin Caruso, still high off the success of Augmented Fourth which had finally been released 17 days earlier.

After a morning conducting class with Dr. Glazebrook, I had an early lunch at Shultz Dining Hall with the usual band of music misfits. I then went to Computer Graphics in McBryde (a disappointing class where we spent most of the time doing viewport math instead of actually writing OpenGL code).

Our high-tech MIDI class was cancelled this day, so I hung out at the couches for another hour before walking Nikki to work and then heading back to East AJ. I also learned which Foxridge apartment I'd be living in with Anna and Rosie in the fall.

In the evening, I volunteered to play trumpet at Marching Virginians drum major auditions, although I'm pretty sure that I was the only trumpet playing the notes written on the page at the right octave. Auditions were immediately followed by Jason and Dave's recital (I'm presuming Chrisley and Reynolds but I no longer remember for certain) where my accompanist page-turning skills were in high demand. In the aftermath, we gathered at Nikki's apartment for post-concert drinks.

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Monday, April 15, 2019

Old Internet Friends Day

Towards the tail end of the URI! Zone's first decade of existence, Rachel from Australia was a regular visitor, often arguing for hours in the Comments section with Beavis, Kelley, and Tree about societal problems without any sort of understanding of the problems' unique American causes. I met her playing Warcraft III and lost track of her somewhere around 2006 with only a few sporadic emails since then.

Last week was Rachel's 37th birthday, so I did my usual one-way shout into the void to wish her a Happy Birthday, only to find that her email had finally expired from inactivity. It's a peculiar feeling to completely lose a connection to someone from your past, especially in this era where everyone is on five different personal and professional social media networks and crosspost what they had for breakfast on Twitter and Instagram.

Treating this as a warning shot, I dug into my old mail and chat archives for other people that featured heavily in my ancient online life before they become unreachable forever. I kept up with tons of people during the simple days of the World Wide Web, back when "making online friends" was unheard of, safe, and wholly unique (the rose-coloured world that predates my current impression of the Internet).

I was actually successful in finding several old friends from aged, incomplete information, without even resorting to reinstalling ICQ or AIM. Some are in the same towns, some have kids a plenty, and everyone is pushing 40 alarmingly fast. I didn't want to restart friendships so much as I just wanted say hello and share a moment -- even if our lives don't intersect anymore, it's comforting to know that they're still out there living in parallel when I'm not thinking about them (we're all NPCs in someone else's game).

Any friends from your past you haven't thought about in a while? Reach out and say hello today while the opportunity is still there!

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Friday, April 12, 2019

Chad Darnell's 12 of 12

12 pictures of your day on the 12th of every month

6:28 AM: Showered and ready for the day.
6:40 AM: Breakfast.
7:04 AM: Working in the alternate basement office.
9:16 AM: Good morning!
9:45 AM: Breakfast for the ladies.
11:03 AM: After an errands run for chicken tenderloins and propane, giving the kitchen floor a deep cleanse.
11:55 AM: Running on the treadmill and rewatching Better Off Ted.
12:35 PM: Leftover pizza for lunch.
1:11 PM: Maia comes home from Forest Time at Algonkian Park.
3:15 PM: Playing Grim Dawn while Maia naps.
6:45 PM: Homemade chicken tenders for dinner.
7:10 PM: Maia does not like homemade chicken tenders.

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Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

The Nightmare We Know by Krista D. Ball:
The second book in the Dark Abyss of Our Sins trilogy drags unmercifully. The book is in need of a good editor to catch typos and tighten up the repetitive inner monologues -- plot events are often followed up with how different characters perceived those events, regardless of the fact that no one character's perception was different enough for a rehash. Exposition and character description suffers when the same information is conveyed slightly differently in two consecutive paragraphs (as if the writer was drafting both but forgot to delete one). After the great character development in Book One, everything felt like it was treading water here.

Final Grade: C

Secret City, Season One:
This Australian geopolitical thriller has shades of The Code in the way it does world-building and allows you to piece together relationships and plot events. There are a few weaknesses and awkward bouts of acting, but it's generally worth watching. Damon Herriman (Dewey Crowe from Justified) puts in a great performance as a a transgender signals analyst, proving that Walton Goggins doesn't have an exclusive on wearing womens' clothing. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B

Incredibles 2 (PG):
I thought the original Incredibles was cute yet unmemorable, mainly notable for the fact that Michael Giacchino had graduated from TV music on Alias to the movies. It seems odd and a little unnecessary to follow up on an animated movie 14 years after the original. However, Incredibles 2 is pretty fun in a lightweight entertainment vein. I found it pleasant to watch while running on the treadmill, although I probably won't remember any of the plot details a month from now. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B-

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyou:
This is the story of Theranos and how Elizabeth Holmes boldly fooled the world with her story of a new, almost magical blood testing device. The assortment of lies, narcissism, and employees abandoning ship snowballs through the first half of the book. Just when it starts getting tedious and you can't imagine how anyone might continue being fooled, everything unravels satisfyingly to the end.

Final Grade: B+

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