Posts Tagged as reviews

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  1. 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-   &...
  2. 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...
  3. 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...
  4. 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 ...
  5. 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...
  6. 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 ...
  7. 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...
  8. 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...
  9. 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...
  10. 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...
  11. 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...
  12. 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...
  13. 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...
  14. 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 ...
  15. 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 : ...
  16. 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...
  17. 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 ...
  18. 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...
  19. 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...
  20. 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+    ...
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