Posts Tagged as reviews

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  1. Friday, November 20, 2020:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       The Rising Tied  by Fort Minor: I purchased this album on the strength of the single,  High Road . There are a few good hooks throughout but as is often the case with these impulse buys, none of the songs were as strong as the one I already liked. Most of the other songs fall into the "white rapper complaining about how hard life is" category, which gets old very quickly unless you're The Lab Rats.   Final Grade :  B-     Paper Mario: The Origami King : I need to accept the fact that the Paper Mario series will never again be as good as  The Thousand Year Door ...
  2. Wednesday, November 04, 2020:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Schitt's Creek, Season Two : The second season is still pretty shallow (Moira in particular feels overused and one-note), but it starts to show tiny signs of growth. The season finale is warmly pleasant. Free on Netflix.   Final Grade :  B-     Schitt's Creek, Season Three : This season works very well because the characters are finally allowed to evolve past the "fish out of water" cliches that held the first two seasons back. I enjoyed it and finished it quickly.   Final Grade :  B     Sarah Cooper: Everything's Fine : Th...
  3. Friday, October 23, 2020:
    Review Day: Long Light by Paige L. Christie   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Long Light  is Book Three of the four-book series,  Legacies of Arnan , by Paige L. Christie (I also reviewed  Book One  and  Book Two ). This story decisively belongs to Kilras, who was easily my favourite supporting character in the previous books. We learn (in a mostly sequential manner) of his growth from a child in a specific village to the empathetic caravan master that eventually befriends Cleod.   It would be too easy to dismiss it as "just a prequel" (in spite of the vexing fact that Book Three ends without any closure about the climax of Book Two) -- Kilras' journeys across Arnan also serve...
  4. Friday, October 16, 2020:
    Review Day: Wing Wind by Paige L. Christie   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Wing Wind  is Book Two of the four-book series,  Legacies of Arnan , by Paige L. Christie (I also reviewed  Book One ). I enjoyed the first book for its uplifting themes, well-developed relationships, and effective use of time jumps.    Wing Wind  continues to evolve the childhood friends, Leiel and Cleod, into their 20s and 30s, and thankfully deepens their relationships with wonderful supporting characters like Kilras and Gahree. While the pay-off here is excellent (I immediately started Book Three after completion), the order of how the story is told had me struggling to gain momentum in the first...
  5. Friday, October 09, 2020:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Schitt's Creek, Season One : I started watching this comedy from Eugene and Dan Levy based on the number of Emmies the final, sixth season received. It's pleasant enough but starts to feel a little one-note by the end. Still, it was over quickly and piqued my interest enough to start the next season. Free on Netflix.   Final Grade :  B-     I Love Beirut  by Mika: This live fundraising concert actually turned out to be a pre-recorded invitation-link-only concert, but this format allowed for a much more interesting 90 minutes, with plenty of guest performances and videos. A few songs...
  6. Friday, September 25, 2020:
    Review Day: Draigon Weather by Paige L. Christie   There are no major spoilers in this review.       Draigon Weather  is Book One of the four-book series,  Legacies of Arnan , by Paige L. Christie. The story takes place in a land where rare visits from giant Draigons can cause droughts, fires, and unpredictable weather. The fearful populace have learned that the sacrifice of a woman will appease a Draigon for at least a generation. This setup allows the author to expertly turn the "damsel in distress" trope on its ear.   While the plot spans decades, the heart of the story centers on two childhood friends, Leiel and Cleod, and how a singular traumatic event sets them on very different paths. The two points-of-view are eq...
  7. 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    &nb...
  8. 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 am...
  9. Friday, September 04, 2020:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       We Need Medicine  by The Fratellis: A solid Fratellis album exactly halfway between the earlier T-shirt shop music and the more mature recent stuff.  Seven Nights Seven Days  is a pretty good representative track.   Final Grade :  B     Codenames Duet : Rebecca and I started playing this game after a summer too chock full of  Patchwork . Two players work together to guess target words on a board (uncovering spies) without accidentally picking the assassins or hitting innocent bystanders. The first couple games will stretch your mind in odd directions, but it's ...
  10. Friday, August 21, 2020:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Live at Brooklyn Steel  by Mika: Mika's most recent album is a live collection of older songs. It has great sound mixing -- the audience sound is toned back just enough that you get the live feel without losing the main performance. Mika also sounds just as good as he does on his studio albums.   Final Grade :  B+     Ocean's 13  (PG-13): I watched this movie over 3 treadmill sessions and remember very little about it. It has minimal characterization, minimal heisting, minimal payoff, and minimal reason to care about any of it. Free on Netflix.   Final Grade : ...
  11. Friday, August 14, 2020:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Leviathan Wakes  by James S.A. Corey: While the book in isolation is just good, not amazing, it really serves to highlight how strong the TV adaptation,  The Expanse  is. (The book maps to the first one and a half seasons of the show). I had a greater appreciation for the new side characters and plot events from the show that seamlessly fit into the original story. Worth a read if you like the show, but give it some distance so you don't have the show fresh in your mind.   Final Grade :  B-     Angry Cyclist  by the Proclaimers: Amazon Music finally tricked me into a 3-m...
  12. Friday, August 07, 2020:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Middleditch and Schwartz, Season One : 3 hour-long episodes of improv comedy from these two actors (Richard Hendricks from Silicon Valley and Jean Ralphio from Parks and Rec) is just about right. The first two are great while the quality of the third drops a bit, but there are some great belly laughs to be found. Free on Netflix.   Final Grade :  B+     Superstore, Season Three : We zoomed through this season quickly and enjoyed it. Everyone is still essentially a caricature, but each one is used sparingly enough that no one turns into a "Cam" of Modern Family.   Fi...
  13. Friday, July 03, 2020:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Modern Family, S10 : Most of the cast has been  flanderized  by this tenth season. There are just enough warm family moments or funny jokes to keep it afloat, but it's definitely showing its age.   Final Grade :  C+     Knives Out  (PG-13): This is a great, traditional murder mystery that functions well as a 21st century version of  Clue . The large cast of characters is expertly introduced in a way that the audience can keep up with who's who, and the clues to the murder of a famous author are placed in a way to allow both solving-at-home and red herrings.&n...
  14. Friday, June 26, 2020:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       The Expanse, Season Four : The new season produced by Amazon shows continuity in the transfer from SyFy other than a few awkward fadeouts. The story is more intimate with good sources of character tension although most of the new female characters feel interchangeable. The final episode feels a little rushed and tacked on, especially the end of the storyline for one of the semi-main characters. Free on Amazon Prime.   Final Grade :  B-     Joker  (R): Not everything needs an origin story. This movie is an extended, uncomfortable voyeurism of a descent into mental illness. While I ...
  15. Friday, June 19, 2020:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Toy Story 4 : This is a pleasant, unnecessary segment of the Toy Story story that doesn't tread a whole lot of new ground. In order to invent some reason for existing, the movie undoes some of the work that went into making  Toy Story 3  a "perfect" ending for the series. Treat it like a straight-to-VHS one-off and you'll be able to enjoy it, especially with key roles filled by Tony Hale and Key & Peele.   Final Grade :  B-     Expanse, S3 : Season Three has a weird flow to it -- the first half feels like "the rest" of Season Two, and the last half (following a jarring t...
  16. Friday, June 05, 2020:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       QIAYA Selfie Light Ring : This inexpensive ring light clips onto your laptop screen and adds just enough fill light to improve the clarity of your image on video calls -- useful when you're in dim surroundings or have a bright window behind you. It's also surprisingly useful for doing jigsaw puzzles at night. On the downside, charge runs down fairly quickly and 2 of the 3 intensity settings will only be useful when I start my Makeup channel on Youtube.   Final Grade :  B     In Your Own Sweet Time  by the Fratellis: I'm working my way through all of this band's albums during quara...
  17. Monday, May 25, 2020:
    Review Day: Quarantine Shopping Experiences   Safeway on Sterling Boulevard : Constantly out of stock on staples like milk, eggs, and meats. No interesting beers anymore. Great fresh bagels. Produce may have been scooped out of a Medieval midden. Most employees wearing a mask, half of patrons.   Final Grade :  D     Giant on Dranesville Road : Great fruit and vegetables. Sporadic availability of nice-to-haves like disinfectant wipes, yeast, and ribeye. Everyone in masks.   Final Grade :  A     Costco on Route 7 : More people than expected, not as many as there could have been. Everyone in a mask but most patrons still oblivious to surroundings. Every...
  18. Friday, May 22, 2020:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Neotheater  by AJR: AJR and The Fratellis have been my quarantine jams for the past month or so. This album isn't as catchy as  The Click , but it has more interesting orchestrations and use of samples.  100 Bad Days  is a pretty representative track off the album.   Final Grade :  B+     Upload, Season One : This show about a world where you can upload your consciousness after death to live forever is impossible to categorize -- it's like  The Good Place  meets  Black Mirror  meets that awful Matt Damon movie,  Downsized . It's mo...
  19. Friday, May 15, 2020:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       The Expanse, Season Two : I gave the first season of this sci-fi show a  C- , labelling it a slog with forgettable characters. The second season is a major improvement (one that I only watched because there was nothing else in my queue at that moment). The plot moves steadily and weaves disparate storylines and characters together to a nice finale, in spite of the fact that the main protagonist has a punchable face. Free on Amazon Prime.   Final Grade :  B     The Click  by AJR: This is a fun pop album, full of catchy hooks and interesting samples.  Burn The House D...
  20. Friday, April 24, 2020:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Eyes Wide, Tongue-Tied  by the Fratellis: This is a great, less manic Fratellis album with a more mature sound. Each song brings something different to the table. I particularly like Imposters , a song with a catchy refrain -- for a few days after listening to it, I could hear Maia in her quiet/nap time singing "little by little by little" to herself in between bouts of "Let It Go".   Final Grade :  A     Perks of Being a Wallflower  (PG-13): Another movie in the coming-of-age genre, this movie tells the ...

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