Posts Tagged as reviews

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  1. 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 ...
  2. 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...
  3. 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...
  4. 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...
  5. Friday, April 09, 2021:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       OK Orchestra  by AJR: AJR's latest release is pretty solid -- well-sampled beats with introspective lyrics about peoples' awkward younger years.  BANG!  is a good example.   Final Grade :  B+     Utopia, Season One  (UK): We started this dark conspiracy show (the UK version not the more violent US remake) amidst a dearth of other TV options. It's fine when nothing else is on but not spectacular. Lots of exposition dumps slow down the pace and the characters aren't particularly interesting in their own right. We've been stalled on Episode 4 of 6 for weeks now and haven't ha...
  6. Friday, April 02, 2021:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       sincerely, e  by Elizabeth and the Catapult: The latest album from Elizabeth and the Catapult is pleasant pandemic-inspired fare (Rebecca backed the Kickstarter and we watched "living room concerts" every week up to the album's release). The first half is catchy but the last couple songs fade into an aural sameness that makes me tune out whenever I put the album on.   Final Grade :  B-     Detectorists, Season Three : The final season of Detectorists is a fitting ending for the story but it feels more like a regular British sitcom in its plotting and style -- it's not as whimsical...
  7. Friday, March 26, 2021:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       SIXKIWI Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifiers for Bedroom, 3L 30Hours Essential Oil Diffuser for Large Room,Easy Top Fill&Clean,Never Leak,Whisper-Quiet,Auto Shut-Off for Home Office Baby(White&Grey) : Cementing Amazon's lead in becoming the #1 " giant flea market full of counterfeit goods where every product title is stuffed full of search keywords " is the humidifier department. None of these humidifiers last for more than a year or two, and by that time any past research into humidifiers is moot because all of the companies have retired their products and replaced them with slightly different knock-offs and a brand new ba...
  8. Friday, March 19, 2021:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Prison Break, Season Five : I had no expectations going into this "reboot" season, since the original four seasons ended in a way that needed no continuation. It's just "okay", full of uncharismatic side characters and an unnecessary new setting (Yemen). There was less ingenuity in the flow this time -- instead of watching complicated prison break plans come to life, it felt more like the characters were just running away from danger the whole time. The ending was a good wrap-up and fan service. If you were a Prison Break fan a decade ago, this is a fun jaunt that you can leave on in the background while you exercise.   Fi...
  9. Friday, March 05, 2021:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       The Big Year  (PG): A quiet, low-key movie about bird enthusiasts trying to see the most different bird species in a single year. It's not hilarious (although it seems like many of the reviews online hoped for 100 laughs per minute), but it's not really trying to be. We watched this because Rebecca had just read and enjoyed the source book.   Final Grade :  B     7 Wonders: Duel : This is our favourite two-player game at the moment. The instruction manual reads like an awful translation, where the writer tries to avoid confusion by overexplaining things but just ends up making it ...
  10. Wednesday, February 24, 2021:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Azul : We purchased this two player game based on our enjoyment of Patchwork. You compete to get tiles and gain points for deploying those tiles in different patterns. It's fun and easy to pick up in spite of the length of the rulebook, but it never really feels like you're in control of your fate. It feels impossible to plan more than a couple moves ahead, and some portions of the gameboard feel useless other than as a holding pen for discarded tiles. We'll try it a few more times to see if it clicks, but it's not our favourite.   Final Grade :  C+     The Expanse, Season Five : ...
  11. Friday, February 19, 2021:
    Review Day: A Summoning of Demons 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.    A Summoning of Demons  is the final book in the Chimera trilogy by Carol Berg, writing under the pen name, Cate Glass. (I also reviewed  An Illusion of Thieves  and  A Conjuring of Assassions ). I enjoyed every aspect of this book (the pac...
  12. Friday, February 05, 2021:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Schitt's Creek, Season Six : The last season of Schitt's Creek goes out on top, with a positive, understated ending. The whole series is worth watching even if the first couple seasons lack momentum. Free on Netflix.   Final Grade :  B+     Mystery Road : This movie about an aboriginal detective solving a murder in the Australian Outback feels simultaneously familiar and muted. All the beats are there, but there's no intensity or suspense to anything that happens. There are so many dialogue-less driving scenes that I had PTSD flashbacks to  Broken Flowers  and the whole ...
  13. Friday, January 08, 2021:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Schitt's Creek, Season Five : Another quickly-watched season with a good balance of awkward and heartfelt humor. Free on Netflix.   Final Grade :  B     Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm  (R): The majority of this movie is a retread of the first with less reason for existence -- while there are a few laugh out loud one-liners here and there, most of the humor feels obligatory and the targets seem too easy. It's also no longer clear who's in on the shtick which reduces the shock value. The wrap-up and final reveal is good though, just barely making the rest of the movie worth watching. F...
  14. Friday, December 18, 2020:
    Top Reviews of 2020  Here are the experiences I gave the highest ratings to in 2020. Go discover something new!    Television Shows       John Mulaney and the Sack Lunch Bunch  (A) (Netflix)    Money Heist, Part Three and Four  (B+, A-) (Netflix)    Parks and Recreation, Quarantine Episode  (A) (YouTube)    Dead to Me, Season Two  (A) (Netflix)    Dark, Season Three  (B+) (Netflix)    Middleditch and Schwartz, Season One  (B+) (Netflix)    The Good Place, Season Three  (A) (Netflix)      Movies       Parasite  (B+)  &nb...
  15. Friday, December 04, 2020:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Schitt's Creek, Season Four : A pleasant enough season, although I'm sick of the Moira character who I feel should have gained way more self-awareness after three seasons. Free on Netflix.   Final Grade :  B     The Much Much How How and I  by Cosmo Sheldrake:  Come Along  came up on one of my Amazon stations and took me down the rabbit hole of this aurally unique album. It's a mix of whimsical lyrics, wind orchestrations, and soundscapes like the ones I might have tried to write with MIDI as an undergrad.   Final Grade :  B+    ...
  16. 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 ...
  17. 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...
  18. 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...
  19. 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...
  20. 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...
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