Posts Tagged as reviews

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  1. Friday, January 21, 2022:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       S16  by Woodkid: After enjoying the uniqueness of  Golden Age , I immediately purchased Woodkid's most recent album. It works fine for atmospheric background music, but feels a little forgettable. I'll listen to it a few more times, to see if I change my mind but I preferred the earlier album.   Final Grade :  C     The Sun  by Bliss n ESO: The latest album from this Australian hip-hop group is excellent, full of great hooks, beats, and fun lyrics. I never thought I'd hear Carol of the Bells as a hip-hop sample until I heard the first track on ths album.  Cadillac O...
  2. Friday, January 14, 2022:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Day of Rage: How Trump Supporters Took the U.S. Capitol : This is an investigative documentary about the events of January 6, 2021 built up from the many live recordings captured that day. While it's very visceral and worth watching to refresh your memory of why this day mattered, it's also pretty shallow and doesn't do anything to put these events in a broader context. Free on Youtube.   Final Grade :  B-     Shadows and Shinings: Deluxe Edition  by Drapht: In this age of EPs and 30 minute albums, I never thought I'd be able to say that an album is too long ever again. However, 7...
  3. Friday, January 07, 2022:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Michael McIntyre: Showman : This is a great set by British comedian, Michael McIntyre, featuring observational / storytelling humor. We really enjoyed his bit on  Internet passwords . Free on Netflix.   Final Grade :  A     Together Together  (R): This is a quiet indie film about Ed Helms' character seeking a surrogate so he can raise a child on his own. The vibe is fairly mellow throughout and it rarely falls into the more obvious jokes and tropes one might expect.   Final Grade :  B-     No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Cu...
  4. Friday, December 17, 2021:
    Top Reviews of 2021 Top Reviews of 2021  Here are the experiences I gave the highest ratings to in 2021. Go discover something new!    Television Shows       Arcane  (A) (Netflix)    Truth Seekers, Season One  (A) (Amazon Prime)    Lupin, Part One  (A) (Netflix)    Lupin, Part Two  (B+) (Netflix)    Schitt's Creek, Season Six  (B+) (Netflix)    Vice Principals, Season Two  (B+) (Amazon Video)      Movies       Blindspotting  (B+) (Amazon Video)      Music       Bright Night Flowers  by Jon ...
  5. Friday, December 03, 2021:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Squid Game : This show had an intriguing premise but poor execution. The conceit of desperate people willing to do things and the divide between super-rich and poor has been done before, and the importance of these themes faded into the background after just a couple episodes ( 3%  did it all better).  Squid Game  might have been more successful as a tight miniseries with 4 or 5 episodes -- by the penultimate episode, I was watching at 1.25x speed to skip through the lingering camera shots that mistook "wasting time" for "building tension". Character development is pretty muddled although there are a few nice moments th...
  6. Friday, November 19, 2021:
    Review Day: New World (PC)     New World , the ambitious new MMO from Amazon Game Studios is a happy mess, getting just as much right as it gets wrong.    The Good    There are no classes or dead ends in character development. Every character can practice and improve every skill, and each build is designed around picking two types of weapon and swapping between them. You can only have two characters, which gives incentive to really grow attached to your character and explore lots of different builds and professions.   In contrast to  World of Warcraft , which has become so simplified and streamlined that you can level up by turning on your computer,  New World  moves at a more...
  7. Friday, November 05, 2021:
    Review Day: Walkabout Mini Golf (Quest 2)   Walkabout Mini Golf  is a fun, relaxing VR game that really captures the spirit of going to the mini golf course on your beach trip.     At just $15, the game is packed with more content than some games from big deal companies. There are 8 unique 18-hole courses (each with a separate Hard mode) with new ones being added for free regularly. Early courses are very reminiscent of classic mini golf tropes, while the later ones are more imaginative (ever golfed in space?). When you're done actually playing golf, each course also has treasure hunts that unlock new cosmetic balls and putters to play with.   The mechanics of putting are great, and the fine differences between hard and soft swings f...
  8. Friday, October 22, 2021:
    Review Day: Oculus Quest 2  The latest iteration of VR headsets, the Oculus Quest 2, is a muddle of compromises that is nevertheless worth it, due solely to its completely wireless gameplay.   Last year at this time, I was on the fence about VR -- my first generation Rift had developed a sound issue from a very common manufacturing problem and Facebook was charging 40% of the original price to get it fixed. They were also pairing headsets with Facebook accounts, which I still think is an awful idea. I finally decided to get the Quest 2 for my 42nd birthday because I wanted something new to do in the 15 minute gaps between childcare and I was sitting on too many bonuses from work.   The biggest improvement from the Rift to the Quest is t...
  9. Friday, October 15, 2021:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Profile  (R): This movie tells the story of a journalist who tries to gain the trust of an ISIS recruiter but ends up sympathizing with him. The whole movie is told through a view of the journalist's laptop screen with video chats and instant messages. It's a unique, tense watch, although the final motivations of the main character fall apart a little in the climactic moments.   Final Grade :  B     The Lion's Roar  by First Aid Kit: The vocalists on this album sound like Christina Perri if she wrote hippie music. This is a nice sound for a single (which is why I bought the album)...
  10. Friday, October 08, 2021:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Spypoint Force-20 Trail Camera : This is a great outdoor camera in the under $100 range. It's easy to set up, runs on 8 AA batteries, and records to a standard SD disk. The night vision works well and the motion sensor does a reasonable job of ignoring false positives.   Final Grade :  B+     Bosch, Season Seven : I was really frustrated by the "slice of life" style of the early seasons of Bosch, full of long, lingering reaction shots and scenes that didn't do much to propel the plot. It took four seasons before I really appreciated it. The seventh and final season wraps everythin...
  11. Friday, September 24, 2021:
    Review Day: Ori and the Will of the Wisps (Switch)   There are no major spoilers in this review.       Ori and the Will of the Wisps  is a platformer in the "Metroidvania" genre, where further exploration nets you new tools that can unlock previously inaccessible areas. It combines a reasonably tight control scheme with visuals and music on par with anything in the Rayman series.   As the titular character, who isn't quite a bunny, you explore various environments in search of your owl friend and ultimately get swept up into a grander adventure. The game world is split up into several zones you can explore at your leisure and tightly choreographed chase scenes with very little room for error.   There are three difficult...
  12. Friday, September 10, 2021:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Super Cool Tree House  by Seth Sentry: This is a pretty mellow, lo-fi pandemic album, where Seth Sentry solicited beats and wrote each song in a week. The lack of hooks means that no one song is particularly memorable, but they're all fun.  I'm Not Sad  is a good representative track.   Final Grade :  B-     Bright Night Flowers  by Jon Fratelli: Another solo album that is about as far as you can get from the raucous Fratellis sound as possible.  Evangeline  is one that gets stuck in my head a lot.   Final Grade :  A-   &...
  13. Friday, September 03, 2021:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       I Think You Should Leave, Season Two : We loved the first season of this oddball comedy show but were less impressed by Season Two. The skits have morphed from "weird yet hilarious" to "weird for weird's sake". There are a couple great sketches, like  Tables , but the rest are forgettable. Free on Netflix.   Final Grade :  B-     Otherlands: One  by Casey Driessen: This album is essentially a road trip of jam sessions from Casey Driessen, playing in many different styles. Great background music, but not as good for active listening. (The album is 80 minutes long and feat...
  14. Friday, August 06, 2021:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Nobody  (R): This is a throwaway action flick starring Bob Odenkirk as a middle-aged nobody who gets pushed around one too many times. It uses ultraviolence for an almost comic effect, and is good, shallow fun. It was also nice to see Christopher Lloyd in a guest role.   Final Grade :  B-     Mystery of Mister V  by Von Smith: Von Smith's second album is another collection of bombastic, musical theater-like songs that are lots of fun to listen too but a little too eclectic and genre-jumping to gain a wider audience.  Nothing Like This  is a good example of his style, whi...
  15. Friday, July 16, 2021:
    Review Day: Piranesi by Susanna Clarke   There are no major spoilers in this review.       Piranesi  by Susanna Clarke is a standalone novel that simultaneously manages to be both a comforting and uniquely different reading experience. This is my first exposure to Clarke's work.   The setting of the book is an unusual flooded house with infinite rooms and hallways featuring an endless array of statues from antiquity. Living here is the titular main character, who adores the house and lives to explore it and care for it. The author devotes the first chunk of the story to fully realizing the setting while introducing just enough seams and irregularities to imply that not all is as it seems in Piranesi's life. At times, my ...
  16. Friday, July 02, 2021:
    Review Day: Artifact Space by Miles Cameron   There are no major spoilers in this review.       Artifact Space  (Book 1 of 2 in the Arcana Imperii duology) is an engaging, accessible foray into "realistic" science fiction by Miles Cameron. My only other experience with Cameron's work was  The Red Knight , which I found to be an exciting, yet exhausting, experience. In contrast,  Artifact Space  had me enthralled and energized to keep reading late into the night.   The book tells the tale of Marca Nbaro, an orphan who finagles her way aboard a merchant greatship to escape her past and present. As the world grows more threatening through the byplay of conspiratorial factions, Marca must grow out of her nega...
  17. Friday, June 18, 2021:
    Review Day: Minecraft (Switch)  Minecraft is the ultimate "dig a hole on the beach" simulator and a perfect game for me to play with Maia now that we've completed Breath of the Wild. She can sit on the couch while I navigate and direct me to build things or explore the world. We don't really go into caves because she thinks I'm going to fall in all of the holes (I usually do), so I spend my evenings on Ian duty mining the ores needed to build all of the bunnies she wants (dad slave labour). Shown below are the Great Peeing Bird statue and Bunny Hill.     I last played Minecraft on the PC in late 2010, and it hasn't changed much. Getting started is as opaque as it once was. The interface and blocky graphics are the same. Crafting is much simpler ...
  18. Friday, May 21, 2021:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Shadow and Bone, Season One  (Netflix): Based on young adult fantasy books by Leigh Bardugo, this series is mostly successful in setting up an interesting world that can be easily understood without exposition dumps. The two main characters, Alina and Mal, are easily the weakest links, lacking much in the way of personality, but the supporting "Crow" characters cover the deficit. I liked this less than His Dark Materials and more than The Witcher.   Final Grade :  B-     Blackfinn Ameripub - Ashburn : This restaurant popped up on GrubHub in our ongoing search for ways to use all o...
  19. Friday, May 07, 2021:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Superbloom  by Misterwives: This is the third album from Misterwives, which I like way more than  Connect the Dots  but not quite as much as their debut,  Our Own House . Lots of catchy tunes this time around, and the album is even a whole 60 minutes long without much padding.   Final Grade :  B+     Blindspotting  (R): We really enjoyed this Daveed Diggs vehicle which explores prejudice and racism in an interesting way without ever feeling too preachy. Both of the lead actors do a great job with their characters, and there are shades of  8 Mile  in t...
  20. Friday, April 16, 2021:
    Review Day: Doom: Eternal    I bought  DOOM: Eternal  in a Steam sale a few weeks back (just in time for the first weekend that Maia spent away from us in over a year) and dove right now. I found it better than its predecessor but suffering from many of the same flaws. I considered  DOOM (2016)  to be flawed but fun: it was enjoyable to run around killing things in the game and a good fan service from the original 90s series. However, I never actually finished that game because I'm a completionist: I hated missing secrets and having to replay levels to get them, or continuously try the minigame challenges over and over without success.   This new iteration feels a little less like the mindless fun of the originals, as ca...
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