February 1, 2020
We were deep in LEGO this month. Not sure why as we didn’t receive any lego kits over Christmas. I guess it was a mix of having a lot of time, having sorted the lego blocks so it was easier to make things, and me playing the LEGO Legacy Heroes game. I’ve also gotten a bit bored of the Disney game – I’ve played it for about 18 months so I guess that is the lifetime of these types of games.
We had some winter-esque snowfall through the month. I thought the snow would stay around and cover the ground until fall but we had a couple of days that was near 0°C, so the snow evaporated/melted away. In November, the weather people predicted a cold/snowy winter. In December, they updated their prediction to be a mild one. I don’t know what it ended up actually being.
I didn’t do any work travel this month, so it’s been almost three months! I was supposed to have travel at the beginning of February but that got cancelled due to Coronavirus and other reasons. The plans to travel messed up our Chinese New Year plans as I was supposed to fly out on the second Saturday. We ended up doing our CNY stuff on the last Saturday of January which was small and done with quickly.
January 12, 2020
I’ll be honest, the only reason I watched Exit was because I knew about it beforehand. And the only reason I knew about it was that it starred YoonA from Girls Generation. Exit is about a useless Millennial son whose hobby is climbing. Coincidentally, there is a disaster and his skill saves him. His friend from his climbing group also ends up at the same place that he is in when disaster strikes so they get to work together.
This movie is pretty bad. I guess it is either a comedy or a frank look at Korean families and their culture. Either way, there is a lot of cringe worthy moments. Both leads were also bad at portraying their roles. The only thing that saves the movie from being turned off were the climbing scenes. Even though you knew the outcome would be OK, you were still hanging on by your fingertips to see what would happen. I guess this is like the award winning Free Solo except told through a fictional story.
I would skip this one, two out of five stars.
January 10, 2020
I think The Man From U.N.C.L.E. was a show from the 70s or 80s that I was never familiar with. Nevertheless, it held the most interest to me from the other movies that were available on my flight.
The story is about a US spy who ends up working together with a Russian spy in order to save the world. Naturally, this happened during the cold war (JFK was president) and it was a case of your enemy’s enemy being your friend. Surprisingly, that concept was still fresh. I felt the movie was pretty stylish. It didn’t have any fancy gadgets like Bond. It wasn’t cheesy like Austin Powers. And each culture played up their stereotypes (US superpower was apparently charisma and Russian was brute force). Like the newish Kingsmen series, this movie had its own special style that was entertaining.
Henry Cavil played the US agent, a similar role to what he did in Mission Impossible: Fallout. Except this time he was the shorter guy. Still can’t stop thinking of Superman when I see him. I wouldn’t mind seeing a sequel but this movie was released in 2015 so that seems unlikely now. Three out of five stars.
January 7, 2020
I remember wanting to watch V for Vendetta when it came out, but somehow missed it. This was in 2006, and way before kids, so that couldn’t be an excuse. In any case, the movie’s message is still true and relevant today.
I liked how the the plot is a mix of current day Britain, a nod to 1984, and Shakespearean – I believe the source material was this way already. Even though I liked the movie, it is just an entertaining movie and didn’t really change my world outlook (I guess too much 1984 and Fahrenheit 451). What did surprise me is that Natalie Portman is ageless. She looks the same in this as she does in Vox Lux – 13 year difference! The movie though is only 3 out of 5 stars.
January 1, 2020
December was full of not-blogging. Usually I put aside some time to write my “end of year” blogs but I didn’t feel very enthusiastic about it this year – I just did the places I stayed (it was easy) and top music (I still care about this) ones. Maybe I will do the year end recap at some point in January.
We also skipped out on a lot of Christmas activities this year because we went down to Nashville over the holidays. In fact, now that I am writing this blog after our trip; I don’t really recall what happened earlier in December.
I do know that we did all of our gift buying and prep in the few weeks beforehand. Most of the gift giving is actually for the kids’ teachers. The kids themselves don’t receive that many gifts anymore. In fact this year, we made them wait until we came back from our trip to open their presents (to their chagrin).
Weather wasn’t too bad after a horrendous November. But again, my memory could be tinted from the t-shirt weather of Nashville!
December 24, 2019
Here is the annual tradition of where I spent my nights in 2019:
- Toronto, ON, Canada
- Las Vegas, NV, USA
- San Jose, CA, USA
- Seoul, South Korea
- Orlando, FL, USA
- Somewhere in the oceans around The Bahamas
- Nashville, TN, USA
Shortest list since I’ve been keeping track. Mostly due to fewer vacations/road trips and less diversity in work travel.
Here’s the full list: 2006 (10), 2007 (8), 2008 (13), 2009 (10), 2010 (15), 2011 (18), 2012 (8), 2013 (10), 2014 (5), 2015 (14), 2016 (11), 2017 (13), 2018 (9)
December 1, 2019
We bought a new car! Our old car was bought in 2007, so 12 years ago, and has over 200k KM on it. That’s actually not a lot considering there were many years during its lifetime where we didn’t drive it to work. Anyways, the transmission was dying so it was time for a new one.
It started snowing early in November this year. At least I thought it was early, but the news broadcast reminded me that it actually snowed in October last year. The first snow was just a sprinkling and melted during the day. But the week after that, we had a real storm with 15cm dumped on us. We had to hurry to rake all the leaves before they were covered by the snow! Then there was a week of warmish weather, and we are back to leaves being blown around in the wind with no snow at all on the ground.
I played a lot of Hearthstone with Battlegrounds being released. Actually I played it for about 2 weeks non-stop, then just kinda stopped as there was no more variety. I also started a new LEGO gatcha game, which may take the place of the Disney game I am playing (almost finished collecting everything worthwhile).
November 12, 2019
Hearthstone announced a new mode of gameplay at Blizzconn this year called Battlegrounds. I’m glad they announced something new, because while dungeon runs are still challenging and good for time killing, it wasn’t novel or interesting – you can only go so crazy in the powerlevel of the treasures.
Battlegrounds is an autochess clone. From a business perspective, it makes sense for Hearthstone to add a mode that is the same as the game that they are losing players too. I’ve tried playing autochess before, but the learning curve investment was just to steep. However, I watched a bunch of people stream Battlegrounds (trying to get an early access drop for it) and it seems pretty straightforward. In fact, I’ve watched so much Battlegrounds that I feel bored with the mode already. I’ll see what happens when the mode is launched live today, maybe it is different when you’re actually playing.
November 1, 2019
October saw several events:
- Apollo’s Birthday – we combined it with Thanksgiving at home this year
- Election – we did advance voting and beat the rush
- Started soccer classes – all three kids are going, although 1 hr is a bit long for Katana
- Samsung Developer conference – I was down in San Jose for a couple of days
- Hallowe’en – We did some stuff the Saturday before, the day of, and also went to Wonderland earlier in the month
Fall arrived this month. The leaves were a nice variety of colors throughout the month, and our backyard is pretty full of them now (gotta rake next month).
Hockey season started and the Leafs are pretty mediocre. I started playing a gatcha hockey game, but it wasn’t very deep so stopped that as well.
October 31, 2019
Another Godzilla movie, I thought I had seen the previous ones, but a quick read on Wikipedia indicated I hadn’t. Anyways, no prior knowledge was needed. Godzilla: King Of The Monsters is about big giant monsters fighting (kind of like the Pacific Rim series).
In this one, all of the old Titans are awakened but it turns out their leader is an alien. It is up to Godzilla to fix the problem. Humans are confused, but eventually they realize Godzilla is on their side. For once, the bad guy story is interesting and complex; although ultimately the true villain is Godzilla’s nemesis rather than humans.
Like the previous movie I saw, the ending of this seemed to be setting up for continuation of the series, seemingly King Kong vs Godzilla. Unfortunately only a three out of five stars film.
October 29, 2019
Kingdom is a movie about historic China, but the strange thing is that it is a Japanese movie. They speak Japanese thoughout the movie, and all the actors are Japanese. I’m used to historical films from China so I was curious what the Japanese take will be like , and also why they would make a movie about Chinese history without mentioning Japan at all.
The story is set in the Qin dynasty, and is about two slave boys who dream of being the greatest general in the world. They spend their time swordfighting after they’ve done their chores, and eventually become quite proficient. A chance encounter causes (only) one of them to enter the royal court, but his death causes the other to go on the journey that this movie is about.
Apparently, the story is from a manga, so a lot of the fighting and rhythm of the action feels like it came out of a comic (e.g., it is not real at all). And I had a real feeling that this movie was a setup for a video game/movie series. Each of the generals and other main characters felt like they were being introduced; and each had a single, unique ultimate move. There are factions, each with different attributes, and a grand quest to set out on. I’ve never read about the “Romance of the Three Kingdoms” series, and I’ll do that later when I have more time; but I can’t help but wonder whether this is the first chapter of that.
There was a distinct non-Chinese flavour about the movie, but it was enjoyable and I want to see more in this style, within the same universe. Four out of five stars.
October 11, 2019
Last Spider-Man movie in the MCU! Well, we shall see. Far From Home happens after Endgame and it starts off with some reflection on the events (no real spoilers though, I think this movie may have come out before Endgame?). In any case, there are no more Avengers and Spider-man is one of the higher profile heroes left.
But this movie feels like a teenage movie. It follows Peter Parker on a high school trip to Europe. In practice, it is a lot better written and appropriate for adults than Detective Pikachu. I am not even biased towards Spider-Man like I am the X-Men. The first half of the movie was pretty good and fun. In fact, it felt like it was parodying itself. Nick Fury was delivering canned lines and everyone was riffing off that. The circumstances around the school trip was ridiculous. But I thought all of this was in good taste.
It started getting a bit slow after the plot twist but still enjoyable. Strangely, I think the biggest appeal of this movie is the development of the characters and relationships; the action is just eye candy. Also, I felt it was a bit forced to visit so many European cities. But nonetheless I think this was a quality movie, four out of five stars.
October 9, 2019
Living in Canada, I think we’re pretty lucky to take Air Canada. Recently I had to fly on United metal and the experience is not great.
First, I was a bit confused by how their inflight entertainment system worked. They have a partnership with DIRECTV and everything was organized into channels rather than a VOD service. If you missed the start of a movie, well it’s like catching a movie playing on TV. Not having the control to watch when you want seems backwards in this day and age.
The flight attendants also seem different. They say the same courtesy words but there’s a hint of haughty attitude. AC agents are not all great, but they seem to be more laid back.
AC also spends money in a better way in their lounge. I don’t drink but I notice the magazines. AC has a wide selection of Canadian magazines that you can take with you. The United lounge only has copies of their own magazine.
Also, the AC Signature Lounge dining service at YYZ is amazing. I’ve never been to a Polaris lounge but the Signature Lounge seems without peer at least in North America.
October 6, 2019
I don’t have a strong desire to see Detective Pikachu but I thought it would be interesting to leverage all the knowledge I learned from my kids in understanding this movie. Even from the previews, it was amazing to see Pokemon in the real world! Also, unlike Dark Phoenix, the CG was done well and made it feel like the Pokemon belonged in the world (maybe we’re just used to what they look like).
Much like Zootopia, the best thing about this movie is how they created the world. I like the idea where all the animals have been replaced by pokemon (although the balance is wrong as you don’t see that many animals in the city normally). And this idea isn’t a stretch because we live in the world of Pokemon Go where pokemon coexist in the world as long as you look through a screen.
The story itself is not that great. I had a little bit of struggle trying to decide whether the film is for kids, or adults who were kids when pokemon came out. I guess the right audience is a young teen. I hope this movie spawns a series where we can explore the world more, but hope that future movies are written for older audiences. Four out of five stars due to establishing the world and the promise of seeing more pokemon in movies
October 4, 2019
Well it’s been a long time since MIB was in theaters. I guess they brought it back for the retro crowd. The original was an action comedy with Will Smith’s banter and Tommy Lee Jones being the straight man. MIB International doesn’t fall very far from the original. It has the same setup but updated to the new century – Tessa Thompson plays the straight woman to Chris Hemsworth. Side note: I can’t picture him as anyone but Thor, so it felt like Thor joined the MIB.
The same futuristic view of the world and aliens blending in is still there. Kind of how all Star Wars movies feel like the same movie with different characters and setup, this is how this movie felt like. Not a terrible thing since I haven’t seen MIB in many, many years. A fun three out of five movie.
October 1, 2019
The school year started early this year, with Labour day on the 2nd of September. The school routine is actually easier this year as all three kids are at the same school, but it was still something that I had to get used to because the timing is different now (as Katana is in daycare and not actual school).
We have a good routine now, and I tried avoid travel this month to prevent further complications. It didn’t work out as I had a last minute trip to the Bay area at the end of the month. It was a short trip though, so served as practice/trial for the drop off routine when I am away.
Extracurriculars eventually started this month. This year, we tried to put them in more year-long programs so we didn’t have to change schedules every term.
Hockey also came back (preseasons at least). To celebrate, I started playing some more hockey-based video games.
September 30, 2019
This movie was supposed to be a clunker based on reviews, but I didn’t think Dark Phoenix was that bad. The film delivered a lot of fan service where you got to see a lot of the characters do their trademark talents. And really, that’s all I expected out of this movie. I saw past all the stuff that doesn’t make sense, like how they can run around in space (and I think they were self aware, including a scene where they duct tape a helmet on). There was also a lot of CG which could’ve been a reason why reviewers disliked it. Hard to film a phoenix in real life though.
I did have a little problem because I saw the films out of order. When Jean and the team appeared for the first time, I thought back to my recent viewings and didn’t remember how they got together. They definitely were not the First Class. Jean was also familiar (not Famke Janssen) and I guess I remember from her cameo in Days of Future Past or Age of Apocalypse.
The story was a little different from the Dark Phoenix origin that I remembered so that was a little fresh. But I think my X-Men bias pushes this to a three star out of five.
September 1, 2019
While back to school sales started in July, we didn’t really do much until August. The kids have most of what they need already, they don’t need new clothes and we have a ton of stationary supplies. We ended up just buying them some new backpacks and lunchboxes.
The weather in August let up a bit, there was a week and a bit where it wasn’t too hot and we could actually spend time outdoors. Lots of summer thunderstorms though. By the end of the month, it was TOO cold. We could no longer wear shorts everyday and could have needed a jacket in the morning. Boy that switched quickly.
I played a bit more Hearthstone this month as there was a new expansion, and I started winding back some of my Disney Heroes playing – I’ve been playing a year and it’s starting to lose the novelty (just endless levelling again). Instead of looking for new mobile games, I am trying out DS emulation. Tired of micropayments and the game design that funds it.