Friday, September 18, 2020

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

His Dark Materials, Season One:
This is a solid adaptation of Book 1, The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman. (I enjoyed the first two books but thought that the 3rd was an imploded mess, not unlike the 3rd Hunger Games book). Great performances and decent CGI keep the story moving, and even Rebecca liked it. The only flaw in the structure of the story was introducing a character from Book 2 early on to get their scenes out of the way -- while it makes sense not to have to backtrack in the next season, nothing truly happened in any of that character's scenes.

Final Grade: B

Seven Mirrors by Drapht:
A fine but forgettable Australian hip-hop album. Good hooks that fall apart if you listen more closely to them, like an entire song where the chorus is just "I'm feeling bad, bad, bad" repeated ad nauseum. Also, the trend of putting skits on hip-hop albums between songs needs to stop.

Final Grade: B-

Get Duked! (R):
This movie is like Hunt for the Wilderpeople mashed up with Get Out and it's as awesome as that sounds. The needle stays strictly on the comedy side vs. horror, and the tone remains pleasant with plenty of bro-mance. A particular scene when an aspiring rapper stumbles across a small farming community is perfectly storyboarded. Free on Amazon Prime.

Final Grade: A

3%, Season Four:
The final season of 3% ends the story well enough while giving most of the characters plenty of space for denouement. A few characters flip-flop just for the sake of plot, which is disappointing because earlier seasons did so well at avoiding this classic flaw that always happens in The 100. The final episode is way too long and feels a little tacked on, but the ending doesn't stray very far from the conceit of what came before. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B-

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Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Birth Day

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Monday, September 14, 2020

Chad Darnell's 12 of 12

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

7:58 AM: Showered and ready for the day.
8:22 AM: Bagel and smoked salmon for breakfast on our mountain deck.
8:44 AM: She believes she can fly.
9:41 AM: Playing Othello for the first time. "You're trying to make sandwiches and turn the lunch meat into bread."
10:39 AM: Hike around Lake Laura with our vacation quarantine pod.
11:35 AM: "Tired of walking" after 0.5 miles.
1:05 PM: View of lunch from the video game nook.
5:34 PM: 7 Wonders and Colouring while I make dinner.
5:41 PM: Broiled filet mignon with a Worchestershire marinade, mushrooms, and hot dogs for kids. Paired with a 2014 tempranillo.
6:38 PM: Blowing COVID everywhere.
7:08 PM: Birthday group shot.
7:13 PM: Presents!

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Friday, September 11, 2020

Review Day: Family and Foes by Susan Quilty

There are no major spoilers for either of the first two books in this review.

Family and Foes is Book Two of the YA Fantasy series, The Psychic Traveler Society. The story centers on a fifteen-year-old protagonist with typical adolescent woes whose recurring daydreams lead her to a secret society and the possibility of other worlds.

The ending of Book 1 left the main characters in a setting filled with plenty of untapped world-building potential and unresolved conflicts. It felt more like an interim stop than a terminus, so it would have been safe and predictable to pick up right where we left off. Instead, Susan Quilty succeeds at delivering something more ambitious and risky, shifting the focus to another locale that simultaneously scales out the series universe and deepens our understanding of the Psychic Traveler Society at the center of it.

While taking the action elsewhere may disappoint fans invested in the strife on Terra-V, this allows the author to explore a lot of different ideas and avoid getting locked into a pure YA Fantasy plot. Themes from Quilty's first book, Insistence of Memory, emerge periodically, reinforcing the main character's inner turmoil about what she's told to believe by people in authority.

There's a perfect balance between the mundane challenges that Amanda Jones faces in high school and the more fantastic elements. The author does a good job writing a teenager who's not always likeable but reacts with believable internal consistency. Tension in each half of her compartmentalized life bleeds across the boundary despite Amanda's best efforts and keeps the real world scenes relevant -- I never felt like I was skimming through them just to "get back to the good part".

Book 2 was a fun journey but I'm looking forward to Amanda Jones having more agency and control of her fate in future sequels. The fact that she's an impetuous teenager is a critical foundation of her growing maturity, but it also leads to scenes where the plot is happening around her rather than as a direct result of her intentions and actions. I hope that Book 3 will allow the other characters to stop reacting to what she might become and start experiencing what she's actually capable of.

Final Grade: B

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Wednesday, September 09, 2020

Stuff in My Drawers Day: Bunnies, Part II

Even more pandemic bunny drawing requests from Maia

Other posts in this series: Part I | Part II

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