03/2018

Friday, March 02, 2018

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Dirty Heads by Dirty Heads:
A pleasant, laid-back collection of summer-esque songs, like the catchy That's All I Need.

Final Grade: B

Blade Runner 2049 (R):
This is a decent movie irrevocably hamstrung by its extended run time. It has worthwhile character development but takes a long time to build any momentum, often wasting it in long, lingering shots or slow pans. Had an editor trimmed out a good half hour of wasted time, it'd be a fun little outing that benefits from (but doesn't require) familiarity with the original.

Final Grade: C+

Snipperclips:
This is a multiplayer Switch game where you have to cut pieces out of your partner to solve various puzzles. It's quirky and fun, and there isn't usually a single right way that the puzzles must be done. Cut yourself into a hook to corral a firefly towards the target, or just brute force it across the screen with perseverance and tendonitis -- either way works. I also enjoyed that there is a "just close enough" meter to accept solutions that are almost there but suffer from slightly bad cuts. This has a very fun "Incredible Machine" vibe to it. The only downside is that it's not really fun as a single player game.

Final Grade: B+

Big Little Lies, Season One:
This starts off as yet another show about snipey women living in suburbia, but almost immediately finds its own unique voice. It captured our interest immediately and the 7 episode length is perfect for the story it told. I liked that it ended with full closure on the initial murder mystery, even though there are now reports of a Season Two in the making.

Final Grade: A

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Monday, March 05, 2018

Pet Peeve of the Moment

tagged as random | permalink | 1 comment

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Topanga Day 1

Having a late lunch (fresh off the plane) in Topanga State Park in California.

tagged as media, day-to-day | permalink | 2 comments

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Topanga Day 2

Having kosher fishy meals for lunch at Fish Grill in Malibu, after hiking 2.5 miles in Corral Canyon.

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Thursday, March 08, 2018

Topanga Day 3

Sunset in Topanga Canyon at the end of Muerdago Road.

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Friday, March 09, 2018

Topanga Day 4

Attending the wedding of Mike Catania and Annie Mueller at the 1909 in Topanga.

tagged as media, day-to-day | permalink | 1 comment

Monday, March 12, 2018

Chad Darnell's 12 of 12

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

3:03 AM PST: Awake and ready for travel in Topanga.
4:22 AM PST: Sitting in some hippie hotel near our rental car agency waiting for the shuttle bus.
5:23 AM PST: Finally through LAX security.
5:41 AM PST: Apparently, I'm having bull testicles for breakfast (for $15).
6:31 AM PST: Boarded and awaiting departure.
8:15 AM PST: Flying is fun, for now!
2:06 PM EST: Flying is getting old.
3:02 PM EST: Standing higher to signal our ride.
3:34 PM EST: Reuniting with old friends.
5:08 PM EST: Bags unpacked, laundry laundering, and groceries procured.
7:46 PM EST: Teriyaki pork and tater tots for dinner.
8:43 PM EST: Maia muses upon her misspent youth.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

More Pictures from Topanga Day

Our AirBnB bathroom and shower had a windowed side that overlooked a private bamboo grove. We pretended that no one had drilled holes through the fence to stream our poops on the Internet.

We enjoyed the short hike in Corral Canyon over Malibu, especially the port-a-potty that was pressure-washed with disinfectant minutes before we arrived -- definitely different than our last PCH port-a-potty experience outside of Santa Cruz where there was a mound of poop 3 feet higher than the seat.

On the day of the rehearsal dinner, Maia did not cry until she met the groom. To be fair, this picture was taken at midnight Eastern time.

This picture of the ceremony is slightly blurry because I used my phone camera and was walking the hills above the venue with a slightly whiny child.

Maia was a pretty happy trooper for the vast majority of the trip, though.

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Friday, March 16, 2018

LA Travelogue Day

Tuesday 3/6: Maia's first plane ride went as well as could be expected, and she was easily tied for least annoying baby on the plane. She slept for about 2 of the 5 hours in the flight. I had to watch Wonder Woman soundlessly on two other peoples' screens and decided that that movie looks dumb as hell. In LA, we got our rental car and drove through LA traffic to Topanga Canyon. We gave Maia lunch in the State Park and then did some grocery shopping while waiting for our AirBnB check-in. Around 4, we arrived at our two-room cabin, guarded by two big friendly dogs and up an incredibly steep driveway at the end of long, winding Puerto Rico-like roads. We made fish tacos for dinner and then the women conked out around 6 PM.

Wednesday 3/7: We had this day to ourselves so we did a morning hike at Corral Canyon in Malibu and walked along the beach a bit. We had lunch at Fish Grill where everyone was Jewish but us, and then headed back for naptime. In the evening, we met up with the Edwardses who were staying just up the road (within walking distance) and then drove down the canyon to Woodland Hills for dinner at The Stand. Staying in Topanga was great for the ceremony itself, but the town really had nothing convenient in terms of modern amenities and all of its restaurants closed before dinner time.

Thursday 3/8: On Thursday, we ran errands for the soon-to-be-wed, including trips to Costco for beer, Target for sodas, and Michael's for artsy garbage. In the evening, we went to the Rehearsal Dinner at a Maggiano's which glowed like a radioactive tumour on an otherwise creepy, abandoned mall.

Friday 3/9: Rebecca was doing wedding prep all day so I had Daddy Day Care in session, taking Maia for walks around the neighbourhood while improving my calf muscles on the hills. The public ceremony followed a private one for family (that I did not attend) and was very well-done. I enjoyed Mike and Annie's vows and the pleasant weather for the outdoor portions. I had to leave the dinner table do a little Maia wrangling to keep spirits up, but what little food I got was pretty good. Rebecca and Mike's brother gave toasts. In lieu of a first dance, Mike and Annie did a first performance with voice and steel pans backed by a little combo.

Saturday 3/10: Saturday was a quiet recovery day. We had a post-wedding pizza lunch at the Original Pizza Cookery with the couple and other out-of-towners because the newly wedded couple probably felt guilty about making us fly in from the better coast and wanted to make sure we had plenty of events. In the evening, we trekked to the Edwardses' house and had a dinner consisting of everyone's leftovers.

Sunday 3/11: Rebecca got sick on Saturday night, so we spent Sunday trolling through Woodland Hills for a non-sketchy Urgent Care that was also open on Sundays and accepted our insurance. We had a functional meal at Panera and took it easy. I also walked 5 cumulative miles on the Topanga hills with Maia while Rebecca napped.

Monday 3/12: Our trip home started with a wake-up call at 3 AM which sucked but also helped us get back on Eastern time. LAX security took us 22 minutes to get through and the flight home was breezy and easy. Thanks jet stream!

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Monday, March 19, 2018

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison:
This is a political fantasy story about a half-breed distant relative of the king who suddenly inherits the throne and must navigate court intrigue and political backstabbing. The book is a good-natured read but it seems to just progress until the end, without much in the way of direct conflict. All of the major plot changes happen just offscreen which, in its own way, mirrors the experience of a powerful ruler who experiences everything secondhand but doesn't make for a satisfying conclusion. The incredibly long names and titles and characters to keep track of also slow down the story.

Final Grade: C+

Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb:
The first book in the Farseer trilogy is well-written, with a steady build and rewarding broadening of the world as the story progresses. There isn't a ton of action, but plenty of engaging character development. I don't always like books told in the first-person perspective, but this one kept me reading to the end.

Final Grade: B

Carnivale Electricos by Galactic:
This album is by a New Orleans jam band and crams together all sorts of New Orleans styles and electronica together to form a bombastic sound. Karate is one of the catchiest songs on the album.

Final Grade: B

About a Boy, Season Two:
The second and final season of this show continues to be an easy, light-hearted comedy worth watching at the end of a long day. The plot progresses nowhere fast and the jokes are about as far from mean-spirited as you can find. In the face of cancellation, the final episode provides an ambiguous, yet satisfying, ending. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B

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Wednesday, March 21, 2018

List Day: 10 More Things I Will Never Understand the Appeal Of

to go with the original 25

  • Sour beers

  • Funko Pop collectibles

  • Using "Adult" as a verb

  • Risotto

  • Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

  • Snapchat

  • Los Angeles

  • Historical dramas

  • Fidget spinners

  • Bitcoin

tagged as lists | permalink | 6 comments

Friday, March 23, 2018

Maia Week #37 Battle Report

It has been an eternity since the last battle report at Week #32, and Maia is now 8.515 months old. She finally broke the 16 pound threshold but is not so close to the 18 pound line that we have to worry about her quickly outgrowing her bulk box of Size 2 diapers or reporting her to the local fishing warden.

Much has changed in the intervening month. She started shrieking again back in Week #33, but thankfully that was very short-lived. In Week #34, she caught the gross sickness that both of her parents had suffered through, to the point where her voice sounded like an answering machine message from the 80s and she oozed phlegm all over her crib like a confused snail. This sickness cleared up just in time for our LA trip, which was great because we didn't want to deal with both flight and sickness at the same time.

We flew back from LA on the day after Daylight Savings Time and our attempts at doing the requisite sleep cycle / time zone math took us into a tesseract so we finally gave up at trying to normalize anything. After two uncomfortable days where she got no sleep at all, she is now doing 10.5 - 11.5 hours continuously at night, followed by 1.5 - 3 hours of naps during the day -- almost where an average baby would be at this age.

Today, Maia likes pointing at things and rolling around the room (she just barely started what could leniently be called a "crawl" this week). She can sort of clap at the right places in "If You're Happy and You Know It", and can pick up cereal bits with her pincer fingers. Most importantly, she has two bottom front teeth which make her jut out her lower jaw like Popeye sometimes. With minor mobility, she is pretty agreeable throughout the day, although she does get bored of being in one room for more than about 20 minutes. She is also uneasy about her grandparents right now, possibly a side effect of being the belle of the ball amongst all of Annie's relatives at the wedding and getting passed around like a hot potato.

tagged as offspring, day-to-day | permalink | 1 comment

Monday, March 26, 2018

Happiness: It Is Known

tagged as offspring, media | permalink | 1 comment

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Murder on the Orient Express (PG-13):
This is a light, forgettable whodunit with fun performances often overwhelmed by CGI shots of trains. Hyperbolically speaking, almost half the movie consists of CGI trains chugging through the mountains, CGI trains with real people inside, and CGI trains unfolding into weirdly placed camera shots, even though no trains are given mention in the credits.

Final Grade: B-

American Made (R):
An embellished true tale of a pilot who gets caught up in the 80s drug trade, this movie stars Tom Cruise as Tom Cruise and feels a bit repetitive after having watched 3 seasons of Narcos.

Final Grade: C

Coco (PG):
Pixar's latest animated movie is vividly rendered, if not uniquely imaginative. It reminded me of the old game, Grim Fandango, but is probably not a movie I'd watch multiple times.

Final Grade: B-

Royal Assassin by Robin Hobb:
The second book in the Farseer trilogy has a confusing beginning, which backtracks in time before the end of the first book before rejoining the established canon. There is plenty of character development throughout this (slightly too long) book, but absolutely no plot satisfaction in the end. I appreciate that the second book always has to be like Empire Strikes Back, but when I got to the last page, I felt like it was a stopping point rather than a conclusion. In spite of this, I enjoyed the book and started on the 3rd one immediately. However, if I were a slower reader, I probably would have gotten bogged down halfway through this one.

Final Grade: B-

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Friday, March 30, 2018

End-of-the-Month Highlights Day

New photos have been added to the Life, 2018 album. Google Photos sucks.

  • Events
    • Survived a crazy wind storm on F 3/2.

    • Rebecca took an exam in Aquatic Therapy and then Marc came over to join Rebecca at yoga on S 3/3.

    • Dropped Amber off for her stay at the Smiths on M 3/5.

    • Flew for 6 hours with a tiny human on T 3/6.

    • Went hiking along the Pacific Ocean at Corral Canyon then had dinner with the Edwardses at The Stand on W 3/7.

    • Ran wedding errands and went to a Maggiano's rehearsal dinner on H 3/8.

    • Went to Annie & Mike's wedding in Topanga on F 3/9.

    • Ate pizza with out-of-towners on S 3/10.

    • Took care of sick Rebecca in LA on S 3/11.

    • Successfully made it home to VA on M 3/12.

    • Picked up Amber from the Smiths where she didn't not have an okay time on T 3/13.

    • Visited my parents on W 3/14.

    • Had a Babys R Us date and then had St. Patricks Day corned beef with my parents on S 3/17.

    • Took a solo dad date at Millers on S 3/18.

    • It snowed about 4 inches on W 3/21 then melted as soon as I had shoveled.

    • Alice came to visit from SC on F 3/23 and we had a game night with Evil Mike and Taje.

    • Alice and Rebecca went to a wine and paint class in Herndon on S 3/24.

    • Alice and Rebecca went to a Farmer's Market at the Mosaic on S 3/25 and got hen-of-the-woods mushrooms.

    • Alice departed on M 3/26.

    • Visited my parents on W 3/28.

    • Going to the Smiths for a Game Night on S 3/31.

  • Projects
    • Started a course of self-study in linear algebra on M 3/19.

    • Renewed the SSL certificates for the URI! Zone on M 3/24.

    • Started gathering the various supplies needed to protect a crawling baby.

  • Consumerism
    • Got to level 1087 in Overwatch. Haven't played the Switch (except for Snipperclips with Rebecca) all month.

    • Enjoyed watching Big Little Lies, Season One. No notable new music this month.

March's Final Grade: B, good to see old friends but March was long as hell

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