Friday, July 19, 2019

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

3%, Season Three:
The third season of this Brazilian dystopian show is held back a little by a low budget and distractingly poor background actors, but there's a fun progression to the story in these 8 episodes if you can just go along with the broad strokes. The departure of a particular actor is disappointing at first, but doesn't harm the story as much as I initially thought it would. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B+

Song of the Beast by Carol Berg:
This standalone fantasy novel about a musician who was imprisoned and tortured for years without explanation and suddenly released is a satisfying one-and-done. It employs a few shifts in first-person perspective without oversharing, effectively building up to final reveals, and also uses dragons in a reasonably non-tropey kind of way.

Final Grade: B

My Grandmas Basement by Jarren Benton:
This hip-hop album is a mixed bag, bouncing between overly earnest tracks backed by poor MIDI trumpets and vulgar shock tracks that are so over-the-top as to be funny. Don't Act is a fairly representative track.

Final Grade: B-

Dark, Season One:
This is a heavy, byzantine puzzle-box of a thriller to get lost in, and get lost you will -- the show (in German with English subtitles) opens without hand-holding by introducing several generations of multiple families (played by amazingly accurate doppelganger actors in the different eras). There are lots of dialogue-less, brooding scenes which I would normally hate, but which gave my brain time to remember who I was looking at and how they were related at any given time. The story starts as a mystery about missing children and evolves into something else that's clearly broadcast in the first episode -- this show isn't trying to trick the audience, it just wants to see if you can keep up with the tightly-plotted web. Other than the repetitive boilerplate "creepy" music and an ending that's more pause point than wrap-up, my investment in watching this show totally paid off. Free on Netflix (and the second season just came out).

Final Grade: A-

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Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Memory Day: Snapshots

These pictures were taken 7 years ago today, on July 17, 2012, in Montreal.

After a dinner of a burger (for me) and a salad (for Rebecca) at J'm la frite (which roughly translates as "I love fried stuff"), we walked into the downtown area to see what crazy festival was going on this night. The area reminded us greatly of Adams Morgan, and there was nothing excessively crazy happening, other than a giant labyrinth made out of fake hedges set up in the middle of the street. Inside, actors dressed like extras from The Burbs engaged in creepy performance art (speaking French) and got in our personal space as we navigated.

One older lady, dressed as either a hobo or an oracle frantically pulled Rebecca into a dead end, but instead of losing her kidney she gained a tiny plastic flower wrapped in aluminum foil.

At the exit, we were thanked for our visit and each given a travel-sized bottle of Pert Plus.

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Monday, July 15, 2019

Weekend Wrap-up

On Friday evening, the continuing hotness (regularly 100 degrees on our sunny porch in the evening) convinced us to stay in and have Joe's Pizzaria for dinner. Maia did not nap this day, which is why she has a 1000-yard stare in the picture below.

On Saturday morning, Rebecca and Maia drove to Arlington to visit with Ben, Andrea, and their daughter Amelia while I stayed home and did things like put air in Rebecca's car's tires. In the evening, we went to Cascades Overlook for dinner. We returned to the new ramen place (Marumen), this time making sure to avoid the giant rice bowls that are about 80% rice. The pork buns and sushi rolls were good, but the fried tofu had too much volume to be tasty on the insides. After dinner, we participated in Maia's favourite activity, "eating Mommy's ice cream" at Abbott's.

On Sunday, we went to the baptism of Janie Gillis in Arlington, followed by a brunch at the Fort Belvoir Officers' Club. The event was only marred by a 36 minute wait at the visitors' gate (sadly, my DoD ID expired in 2016 and I've never had a reason to get a new one). After we finally got inside, we enjoyed a delicious meal of breakfast and lunch foods portmanteaued onto single plates.

In the evening, Car and Ben came over for a Friend Dinner of Appalachian yak steaks (which taste pretty close to beef) and gnocchi.

How was your weekend?

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Friday, July 12, 2019

Chad Darnell's 12 of 12

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

6:04 AM: Showered and ready for work.
7:26 AM: Developing some training materials for work.
8:11 AM: Breakfast.
9:33 AM: Breakfast for the gals.
11:32 AM: Running on the treadmill and finishing the first season of Dark.
12:16 PM: Annie's Shells and Cheese for lunch.
1:22 PM: Post-forest bath to remove all the sunscreen.
2:14 PM: Kicking naptime off with some Grim Dawn.
4:27 PM: Too busy practicing evacuation routines to nap today.
5:00 PM: Evening snacks.
6:16 PM: Dinner from Joe's Pizzaria.
6:59 PM: Assisting with mojito mixology.

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Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

12 Monkeys, Season Four:
This show continues to have a great balance of humour and drama in its final season and it brings back several favourite side characters in ways that feel earned and fun. The uber-villain of the show (who was finally revealed at the end of the previous season) is irritating in a one-note kind of way, but otherwise this is an amazing wrap-up to the story. The last 3 episodes frame a perfect ending that I didn't see coming, although they are as self-indulgently long as the end of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. After it was all over, I was able to see clear tie-backs to events in Season One -- the vast majority of potential plot holes are cleanly wrapped up. This is easily the best sci-fi show I've watched in quite some time!

Final Grade: A

Professional Rapper by Lil Dicky:
This album has a lot of great "funny-type" rap songs that are a lot of fun on initial playthroughs then get progressively less interesting each subsequent time. The title song is the best of the bunch.

Final Grade: B-

Bo Burnham: Make Happy:
I turned this comedy special off once before because it's more one-man show than pure stand-up (and that wasn't what I wanted at the time). Giving it another chance, I enjoyed the off-kilter mix of weird, uncomfortable humour and self-deprecation. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B

Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble by Dan Lyons:
This tale of a tech journalist who joins a software startup in his fifties is equal parts fish-out-of-water tale and an exploration of insane startup culture. It chugs along at an entertaining pace and branches out into deeper issues of ageism and Silicon Valley economy once the basic narrative starts getting stale. I enjoyed it well enough, but found that the most intriguing part was the Epilogue where he briefly described failed attempts to prevent the book from getting published -- I wish there had been more to this end of the tale.

Final Grade: B

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