Strange Sunday Diversions

Stress at work ramped up a bit the last week or so, resulting in my neglecting my sourdough, my reading and my blog. I’m two sessions behind in my notes for the recently completed Mythgard Academy class on Out of the Silent Planet. I was the only member of my local library book club who did not finish the book, yet I was supposed to be leading the discussion. My husband risked his life on Friday, exposing his compromised immune system to God only knows what viruses to buy me flowers and a card for Valentine’s Day, yet all I brought home was myself and my stress.

Because I got home later than normal on Friday evening, and properly baked potatoes take a minimum of ninety minutes, we opted for take out from our local Applebee’s for dinner. We also squeezed in a game of Pandemic, which we won again. We decided the next time we play, we’ll increase the number of epidemics to increase the difficulty level.

Saturday I woke early to perform an update that was long over due. As usual, I overprepped and the update applied without issues. I spent the rest of the morning running errands and shopping. I even squeezed in a visit to my dad before heading back home and prepping the Valentine’s Day dinner of a porterhouse steak (bought fresh from a butcher in KCKS during a snow storm last week), roasted brussel sprouts and baked potatoes.

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Movie Review: Ghost in the Shell (2017) 2.5 stars

Ghost in the Shell

Released: March 31, 2017 (US)

Director: Rupert Sanders

Watched: 10/2/2019 (via Hulu and SyFy)

Rating: 2-2.5 stars

Synopsis (from IMDB): In the near future, Major Mira Killian is the first of her kind: A human saved from a terrible crash, who is cyber-enhanced to be a perfect soldier devoted to stopping the world’s most dangerous criminals.

My Thoughts

Five years ago, I watched and reviewed the 1995 animated movie of the same nameContinue reading “Movie Review: Ghost in the Shell (2017) 2.5 stars”

Movie Review: Born of Hope (4 stars)

Born of Hope movie poster

Born of Hope: The Ring of Barahir

Release date: December 1, 2009

Director/Producer: Kate Madison

Official Website: http://www.bornofhope.com/

Watched: late September 2019

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I stumbled across this fan film last week while researching (translation: falling down another Tolkien rabbit hole) the backstory of Gilraen, mother of Aragorn. I am always interested in Tolkien’s female characters because there are so few of them and nearly all of them have surprising agency considering Tolkien’s times. The Tolkien Gateway article for Gilraen includes a link at the very bottom that delves deeper into her tragic tale, gleaned from The Lord of the Rings Appendices and other Legendarium sources: The Tragedy of Gilraen, Aragorn’s Mother

Gilraen probably has the saddest epitaph of any of Tolkien’s characters (except perhaps Turin and his sister):

Onen i-Estel Edain, ú-chebin estel anim.
“I gave hope to the Dúnedain; I kept none for myself.”

Gilraen could not see the light for the growing darkness and despaired, living only half as long as she should have, as one of the few remaining Dúnedain.

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Sunday Epiphanies

On any given Sunday, you’ll find me awake before sunrise.  Old, very old, habits die-hard.  I embrace being a morning person.  Only causes an issue when I want to toast in the new year since I generally turn into a pumpkin around nine o’clock.  Today was no different from any other weekend.

Yesterday was Twelfth Night, the official end to the Christmas season.  When Dickens was a youth, Twelfth Night was ‘THE’ biggest day of the winter holiday in England.  Between his Christmas Carol and Prince Albert’s importation of German Christmas traditions (namely the Christmas tree), Twelfth Night began to fade out of fashion during Dickens and Queen Victoria’s lifetimes.

I did not stay up late celebrating or hosting a Twelfth Night party.  I had servers to upgrade and test bright and early on January 6th, also known as Epiphany.

I woke up before my alarm (I almost always do this; my alarm only woke me up once in the last six months) and got logged in and ready to upgrade a server.  It went much smoother than the last time I tried, right before Christmas, and I was done within 20 minutes (leaving an hour forty minutes of my maintenance window unused).  Server patch testing took another fifteen minutes so I was done ‘working’ before seven o’clock, still before sunrise.

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Snipping Satellites

My husband and I resolved to reduce our home entertainment budget for 2019.  To that end, immediately after Thanksgiving and upon a couple of recommendations gleaned from various tech podcasts I subscribe to, I ordered a Roku Premiere+ and installed it the first week of December.  Within a couple of days of installation, I signed us up for Hulu (with live TV and cloud DVR) and Philo, maintaining our existing Dish, Netflix and Amazon Prime subscriptions in place so we could do a one-to-one comparison for the entire month of December. By the middle of the month, we were no longer using Dish at all.  The day after Christmas, I cancelled our Dish and officially cut the cord, saving over half the cost and ending up with more entertainment options.  Netflix may be next on the chopping block but that will have to wait until we finish out January now since I neglected to cancel that streaming service before the autopay went through.  The real challenge will be next year’s F1 season for Terry.

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A Mid-Summer Night’s Streaming

This past week I took a break from watching movies I’d requested through my local library (see my previous post about dumping my Netflix DVD subscription) and switched to streaming two new (to us) science fiction series via Amazon Prime.

My favorite thing about streaming a series is not having to wait a week between episodes, especially when you are coming late to the party.  I do occasionally binge watch, but usually no more than four (4) episodes at once.  I have limited myself to two (2) episodes a night of The Man in the High Castle with a solo sandwiched between allowing me to complete five (5) episodes this week.  And I must say I am hooked.

It’s been years since I read PKD’s novel but even with my vague recollections I’m riveted by this production.  I’ve pulled out my ebook edition to reread, but that won’t prevent me from continuing on with the rest of season one.  There’s a reason PKD has so many adaptations.  If you haven’t read anything by him, I highly recommend him.

The second series we started watching this week was Humans (stylized with an upside down A).  I decided to watch this series based on an article I read months ago that stated if you really want to experience a robot rebellion, try Humans instead of or in addition to Westworld.  I very much enjoyed Westworld, especially the cinematography, production quality, story and acting, which sets a very high bar for Humans to meet.  

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A Dozen Years of DVD Home Delivery Ends

I am one step closer to cutting the cord.  Last month, after nearly a dozen years of DVD home delivery, I switched to a streaming-only Netflix account.  I joined Netflix in November 2005, before streaming was available, originally opting to have three DVDs available at once at home.  Back then, I joined because I really hated due dates, especially from the then very popular home video rental giant BlockBuster.  Where is BlockBuster now?  (Hint:  Netflix bought them)

I searched through my email archive to see the milestones in my Netflix account changes.  I added Blu-Ray discs as a preferred format in 2008 and I believe the “instant watch” or streaming plan became available in 2009.  In 2011, I changed from three to two DVDs at home at once, not wanting to give-up my ‘life-line’ to non-streaming movies and television shows.

Last month, my attitude changed because a couple of series I wanted to watch were not available via streaming nor physical media from Netflix or my local library.  Specifically, The Man in the High Castle, only available through Amazon Prime, and The Handmaid’s Tale, only available through HuluContinue reading “A Dozen Years of DVD Home Delivery Ends”

Watching the Hugo Finalists for 2017

Similar to my previous post, I’ll be updating this one as I get a chance to watch the finalist in both of these categories.  Long Form is going to be my most difficult ranking of any of the Hugo finalists.  I currently have a three-way tie in my mind between Arrival, Rogue One and Stranger Things.  And I have yet to actually watch Hidden Figures!

Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form)
1733 ballots cast for 206 nominees.
Votes for finalists ranged from 240 to 1030.

  • Arrival, screenplay by Eric Heisserer based on a short story by Ted Chiang, directed by Denis Villeneuve (21 Laps Entertainment/FilmNation Entertainment/Lava Bear Films) – Watched opening weekend and purchased the movie; loved it
  • Deadpool, screenplay by Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick, directed by Tim Miller (Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation/Marvel Entertainment/Kinberg Genre/The Donners’ Company/TSG Entertainment) – Watched via Dish Network free weekend for one of the premium movie channels; liked it
  • Ghostbusters, screenplay by Katie Dippold & Paul Feig, directed by Paul Feig (Columbia Pictures/LStar Capital/Village Roadshow Pictures/Pascal Pictures/Feigco Entertainment/Ghostcorps/The Montecito Picture Company) – Watched via Starz streaming app through my subscription; liked it
  • Hidden Figures, screenplay by Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi, directed by Theodore Melfi (Fox 2000 Pictures/Chernin Entertainment/Levantine Films/TSG Entertainment) – Watched 5/17/2017; loved it
  • Rogue One, screenplay by Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy, directed by Gareth Edwards (Lucasfilm/Allison Shearmur Productions/Black Hangar Studios/Stereo D/Walt Disney Pictures) – Watched opening weekend and again after I purchased the movie; loved it
  • Stranger Things, Season One, created by the Duffer Brothers (21 Laps Entertainment/Monkey Massacre) – Watched via Netflix streaming; loved it

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Stuck in 1945

Two consecutive weekends I’ve returned to the Pacific, specifically 1945.

The Great Raid (2005)Last weekend, I watched The Great Raid, which I’d somehow missed when it was released twelve years ago in 2005.  This movie retells the story of The Raid at Cabanatuan, a rescue of Allied prisoners of war (POWs) and civilians from a Japanese camp near Cabanatuan City, in the Philippines. On January 30, 1945, during World War II, United States Army Rangers, Alamo Scouts, and Filipino guerrillas liberated more than 500 from the POW camp.

This movie was a segue for me from The Railway Ran , which I watched two years ago and that I mentioned in my recent post on ‘Dropping the Bomb.’

My Rating:  3.5 to 4 stars

Joseph Fiennes turn in an excellent performance as the tragic Major Gibons, but the real surprise for me was seeing Connie Nielsen as Margaret Utinsky.  I spent half the movie distracted because I could not place her face in my memory.  I gave up and checked IMDB and had that epiphany feeling when I realized she performed as Lucilla in the twisted Roman triangle with Commodus and Maximus five years earlier in Gladiator.

USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage (2016)I followed The Great Raid yesterday with a viewing of U.S.S. Indianapolis: Men of Courage.  This film more closely related to my post about ‘Dropping the Bomb’ since “In 1945, the Portland-class heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis, commanded by Captain Charles McVay (Nicolas Cage), delivers parts of the atomic bomb that would later be used to level Hiroshima during the ending of World War II. While patrolling in the Philippine Sea, on July 30 in 1945, the ship is torpedoed and sunk by the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) submarine I-58, taking 300 crewmen with it to the bottom of the Philippine Sea, while the rest climb out of the ship and are left stranded at sea for five days without food, water and left in shark-infested waters.” (Wikipedia).

My Rating:  3.5 stars

I survived Cage’s stilted acting, with the help of the supporting cast, who performed admirably and believably.  Matt Lantner, whose grandfather, Kenley Lanter, was one of only 317 men to have survived the sinking of the USS Indianapolis.  Matt portrayed Chief Petty Officer Brian “Bama” Smithwick with his usual All American boy-next-door Midwestern heart.  And did I mention he’s also the voice of Anakin in Star Wars: The Clone Wars?

Hacksaw Ridge (2016)I ended the weekend with the much anticipated and highly acclaimed Hacksaw Ridge, which I’d been hesitant to watch for fear of a too real portrayal of warfare (remember the opening to Saving Private Ryan?).

Hacksaw Ridge is a film “about the World War II experiences of Desmond Doss, an American pacificist combat medic who was a Seventh-day Adventist Christian, refusing to carry or use a firearm or weapons of any kind. Doss became the first conscientious objector to be awarded the Medal of Honor, for service above and beyond the call of duty during the Battle of Okinawa.” (Wikipedia)

My Rating:  4-4.5 stars

Outstanding story, directing and acting.  Truth is so much stranger than fiction and infinitely more inspiring.  “Just one more, Lord” are words to live and die by.  I highly recommend this movie and I’m sorry I waited so long to watch it.

Late Fall Cord Cutting Viewer Update

I’m ever so close to cutting that cord to my satellite provider.  I watched only two shows this fall via my DVR rather than through an app or service.

Television Series:

  • Arrow (first season via Netflix) — 3.5 stars
  • The Crown (first season via Netflix) — 4.5 stars
  • The Fall (first season via Netflix) — 4 stars
  • Limitless (first and only season via Netflix) — 3.5-4 stars
  • Missing (first and only season via Netflix DVD) — 4 stars
  • Star Wars Rebels (via Disney channel) — popcorn for my mind
  • Timeless (first half of first season via NBC) — 3.5-4 stars
  • WestWorld (first season via HBO) — 4.5 stars

Continuing to watch:

  • Arrow (second season via Netflix)
  • Flash (first season via Netflix)
  • The Fall (second season via Netflix)
  • Mars (Nat Geo channel)
  • Timeless (via NBC)
  • Black Sails (final season via Starz streaming app)

Movies:

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