Posts Tagged as reviews

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  1. Wednesday, April 08, 2020:
    List Day: 10 Lesser Known Shows to Binge During Quarantine   There are no major spoilers in this post.    Are you tired of looking for new TV shows only to get recommendations for  The Office  and  Stranger Things ? Here are 10 of the best "off the beaten path" shows I've watched (in alphabetical order), all available in streaming format.         American Vandal   (2 seasons, 16 half-hour episodes, Netflix): A pitch-perfect satire of the true crime documentary genre, where filmmakers reconstruct the day that a mystery student drew dicks on all of the cars in the teacher's parking lot.      Bodyguard   (1 season, 6 hour-long episodes, Netflix): A British versio...
  2. Friday, April 03, 2020:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       iZombie, Season Five : The final season suffers from too many factions muddling the plot momentum. It also has the same problem as season four -- when your main character takes on a different personality every episode, any serious character development feels arbitrary and unearned. Watch this season for the many funny scenes with characters you've grown to like, and ignore the plot nonsense. Free on Netflix.   Final Grade :  B-     Discover  by Lenka: This is the sister EP of  Recover , an unnecessary album full of covers. I've listened to  Discover  several time...
  3. Friday, March 27, 2020:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Patchwork : This is another 2-player game with as much replayability as Lost Cities or Apotheca -- you spend buttons to buy different Tetris shapes to cover your quilt board. Game rules are very simple and setup is quick. There's tons of strategic depth although there are just enough variables that it makes it hard to tell if you're actually winning until the final score comes down. All of our games so far have been decided within a few points of each other.   Final Grade :  B     Recover  by Lenka: This is a 20 minute EP of covers, pleasant enough other than the five and a half...
  4. Friday, March 20, 2020:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Costello Music  by The Fratellis: I don't know how I missed the debut album from this Scottish rock band, especially since  Chelsea Dagger  was one of my jams in 2011. Each song is a catchy, high energy germ with a little storytelling woven in.   Final Grade :  B+     How to Destroy a Tech Startup in Three Easy Steps  by Lawrence Krubner and Natalie Sidner: First up in my self-quarantine reading queue, this book tells of a lead developer's experience at a NYC startup. Like Dan Lyon's  Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble  (which I gave a  B&nb...
  5. Wednesday, March 11, 2020:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Counterpart, Season One : This spy thriller featuring J.K. Simmons as two different versions of himself has sci-fi elements, but leans more into character development than world-building. It has some interesting ideas and great performances, but feels very slow between the interesting parts. My brain was sometimes removed from the flow of the story by having to figure out which version of each character I was seeing in each scene -- the show could have taken some pointers from  Awake  to differentiate scenes better. Overall, I appreciated the character development of the principals, but worry that the story itself is not moving...
  6. Wednesday, February 26, 2020:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       The Witcher, Season One : I doubt Netflix's claim that this is the most watched show on their network, because it's really not put together very well. The season acts as an extended prologue featuring the origin stories of three main characters with unnecessarily divergent timelines. At least one character is treading water in any given episode, and there's rarely a hint of any overarching reason to bother watching more. The show tightens up by episode 5 (of 8), but most people will have checked out by then. The 7th episode is the strongest while the finale drops the ball by featuring a Game-of-Thrones-esque battle scene with no reason...
  7. Wednesday, February 19, 2020:
    Review Day: World of Warcraft Redux   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.      The WoW Diary: A Journal of Computer Game Development : This is a fun look into the development of the original World of Warcraft (2000 - 2004), written by one of the original designers of dungeons and indoor spaces. It's only mildly technical and worth a read for anyone who has fond memories of playing WoW. It gets a little repetitive towards the end but is a fast, pleasant read throughout.   Final Grade :  B     World of Warcraft in 2020 : Out of nostalgia for the  glory days , I resubscribed for a month of WoW to see what has changed. The answer? Nearly everything. Skill ...
  8. Friday, February 14, 2020:
    Review Day: A Conjuring of Assassins by Cate Glass / Carol Berg   There are no major spoilers in this review.       A Conjuring of Assassins  is the second book in the Chimera series by Carol Berg, writing under the pen name, Cate Glass. (I also  reviewed  Book One,  An Illusion of Thieves  last year). The author delivers a satisfying, self-contained story that can be appreciated on its own, but doesn't push the overall series forward in a significant way.   Book Two picks up immediately after the grand caper in Book One, with Romy and her friends recruited to solve a tangled political problem by using their particular talents. The first 20% of the book is peppered with plenty of gentle recap, which will be great if Book One ...
  9. Friday, January 24, 2020:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       John Mulaney and the Sack Lunch Bunch : This comedy special functions simultaneously as a parody of, and heartwarming homage to childrens' shows from the 1980s, like Electric Company, Today's Special, Pinwheel, and Sesame Street. It accurately captures the inherent weirdness of the format while being so earnest in its execution that you can't help but to enjoy the ride. The guest stars and musical numbers are equally effective, with the final surprise guest star (as "Mr. Music") clearly giving 110% and having the time of his life. Free on Netflix.   Final Grade :  A     Late Night Feelings&...
  10. Friday, January 17, 2020:
    Review Day: Local Grocery Stores        Safeway  Giant  Wegmans     Organization    BEST : A logical progression of goods with cold stuff at the end.       WORST : The same items can be found in multiple locations, some of which you might never discover because the store is too big.     Navigation       BEST : Wide aisles with room to maneuver around the distracted and the obese.    WORST : Every aisle has room for 1.5 carts across, and there are 10 carts pushed by soccer moms at all times.     Experience    WORST : Dirty aisles ...
  11. Friday, January 10, 2020:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Irishman : Martin Scorcese's three and a half hour mob movie is a meandering mess that feels like a vanity project through and through. There are parts that show some of the greatness of  Goodfellas , but at the end, it's impossible to understand why this story was worth telling. The movie only has energy in the sections with Al Pacino's character -- when he's not there, it drags as much as  The Last Jedi . Free on Netflix.   Final Grade :  C     Killing Eve, Season Two : The first season of this show was quirky and fun, but the second is just more of the same....
  12. Friday, January 03, 2020:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Easter is Cancelled  by The Darkness: This is another solid release from The Darkness, which has sailed past its early novelty hype and drug issues to be a consistent hard rock band. There's a good mix of styles here, all unified by the voice of the lead singer.   Final Grade :  B+     Star Wars Episode 8: The Last Jedi : I enjoyed Episode 7 on a popcorn level and finally got around to watching this one. It felt interminable while I watched it, with no real plot line and nothing to recommend it. An entire subplot of this movie involved in a failed mission that has no bearing on th...
  13. Friday, December 20, 2019:
    Top Reviews of 2019  Here are the experiences I gave the highest ratings to in 2019. Perfect for filling the Christmas week doldrums!    Television Shows       Dark, Season One and Two  (A-, A) (Netflix)    Barry, Season One  (A)    Dead to Me  (A) (Netflix)    Russian Doll, Season One  (A-) (Netflix)    Stranger Things, Season Three  (A-) (Netflix)    12 Monkeys, All Four Seasons  (B, B+, A, A)    Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, Season One  (B+) (Netflix)    i'm sorry, Season One and Two  (B+, B+) (Netflix)      Movies   &nbs...
  14. Wednesday, December 11, 2019:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Living With Yourself, Season One : This series features Paul Rudd trying to make a better version of himself when something goes wrong. It has a few promising ideas that are never fully developed and has way too much repetition and "24 hours ago..." sequences. By the time it ended, I didn't feel like much plot progress had been made -- more like I was watching a prequel than a full season. Free on Netflix.   Final Grade :  C+     Goldsboro  by Goldsboro: While listening to an album of the defunct, underrated band,  Orson , I idly wondered what they had done next. I purchas...
  15. Friday, November 08, 2019:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Laughing and Crying  by Just Jack: This EP consists of 4 songs and 3 acoustic version which seems like a recipe for tedious repetition, but the acoustic versions are just different enough to succeed. This is a pleasant, muted set on becoming middle-aged, but I still prefer his early up-tempo stuff much more.   Final Grade :  B-     Dolemite Is My Name  (R): I didn't realize that this was a biopic going in (I probably would have skipped it) but I thoroughly enjoyed this Eddie Murphy comeback vehicle. The story and style stay very true to the classic "crass and heartwarming" style o...
  16. Friday, November 01, 2019:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Game Night  (R): This comedy features Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams as an ultra-competitive couple whose game night gets derailed. It's shallow fun that doesn't try too hard to have a deeper meaning and gets great mileage out of having Jesse Plemons (fat Matt Damon) as a creepy neighbour who never gets invited.   Final Grade :  B     My Name is Michael Holbrook  by Mika: Mika's most recent album has great songs but the arrangements feel phoned in. As I listen, I can hear the places where freshman or sophomore maturity Mika would have thrown in a few trumpets for no good reason ...
  17. Friday, October 25, 2019:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Silicon Valley, S5 : The fifth season of this show is only 8 episodes long. It's pleasant enough and exactly what you'd expect if you've watched it before. That said, it's probably about time to wrap this series up.   Final Grade :  B     El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie : This movie tells the tale of a main character from  Breaking Bad  in the hours after the series finale. I was surprised to find it to be a story worth telling, not just an obligatory regroup of actors and favourite scenes for fan service. The movie's filled with Vince Gilligan's usual visual flairs but ...
  18. Friday, October 18, 2019:
    Review Day: The Red Knight by Miles Cameron   There are no major spoilers in this review.       The Red Knight  (Book 1 of 5 in the Traitor Son Cycle) is a master class in weaving multiple points of view together into a satisfying convergence of plot, suspense, and character development. This master class isn't for everyone, however, spanning three whole semesters and requiring much more concentration than you might be used to in your fantasy reading. The book tells the tale of a mercenary company that accepts a contract to protect a convent of nuns and finds themselves in the midst of a siege between humans and the creatures of "The Wild", a catch-all stereotype for varied races in the North deemed (by humans) to be primitive and beast-l...
  19. Friday, October 11, 2019:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Stranger Things, Season Three : Finally, a season of  Stranger Things  I can stand behind. There's no bloat or unnecessary episodes and the pacing kept my interest from episode 1. The show transcends its traditional overreliance on 80s nostalgia to tell a compelling coming-of-age story full of humor and fun characters. The homages (like an episode featuring horror movie tropes in an under-construction hospital) are still there, but serve the story rather than overshadowing it. Winona Ryder is finally given something to do besides freaking out about a missing child.  This season is worth a watch even if you don't totally...
  20. Friday, September 27, 2019:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Black Mirror, Season Five : This short, three-episode season consists of great standalone episodes with strong stories, but they all lack the inherent dread that is a part of Black Mirror's DNA. Technology is more of an incidental feature of the setting rather than the looming pitfall. Once these episodes are over, there isn't much that will keep you thinking of them after the fact. Free on Netflix.   Final Grade :  B-     hip-hop is good  by e-dubble: I find myself constantly impressed with the hip-hop output of e-dubble. He managed to create a unique style and voice without eve...
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