Free Write Week 12 (Mar 19 – Mar 25)

It’s not the name they call you that’s important, but the name you answer to.

-Madison Cowan

Last week, Syfy announced that it had renewed Resident Alien for a second season. The trailers look great and I’m a huge fan of Alan Tudyk, so it seemed natural that I’d watch this show right off the bat. But I was skeptical. The quality of entertainment Syfy puts out varies quite a bit, and they are quick to cancel a show just as it really seems to be hitting its stride. Nonethelesss, after a great recommendation by Michael and the second season renewal, I decided to dive in right and I’m so happy I did. I have a feeling that this will end up being my favorite show of the year. It’s quirky, fun, positive, and really speaks to my sense of humor. With that being said, it’s definitely not for everybody.

This weekend marks the first time that the NASCAR Cup teams have run a race on dirt since 1970 in Raleigh, North Carolina. I’m quite excited about it. It’s going to be quite unpredictable, plus they took Bristol, one of the better short tracks, and just covered it in dirt. The Trucks race on Saturday night and Cup on Sunday. I’ll definitely be tuning in for a bit of both time permitting.

In anticipation of my PS5 arriving, I bought an extra controller and picked up a copy of Overcooked: All You Can Eat. It’s funny, but that game is the reason I even bought a PS5. When I first started dating my wife, I bought her a copy of Overcooked 2 for her birthday. She wasn’t sure what to expect, but several hundred hours later (and total Overcooked exhaustion on my part) we had destroyed and four starred most of the game.

Overcooked: All You Can Eat is a remastered version of both Overcooked games in 4K with lots of bonuses. So, we will once again, be chopping, dicing, throwing, and cooking in and attempt to beat the clock and get out orders. This time with the new Playstation controllers which supposed are quite impressive.

There aren’t any PS5 exclusives that I’m really excited about right now. I am excited about faster loading times and hopefully a quieter system since my PS4 Pro sounds like a jet engine at times. I do have a few games that have free PS5 updates such as: Maneater, Control, Tony Hawk 1+2, and Mortal Kombat 11. I held off on playing Control since I heard it really pushed the limits of PS4, so it’ll be nice to dive into that on the PS5.

Until last year, I never really thought much about the mail service. It was just one of those silent operations that never affected me unless things went wrong. Now, every day is a struggle with USPS. Packages aren’t even close to delivered on time (despite being marked delivered), mails ending up in the wrong places, nothing is handled with care… it’s frustrating. Then when you add the good old porch pirates, it makes things worse. I’ve had to resort to sending any important packages not delivered by Amazon to my mom’s house.

I had a very rough work week. It seems that things are continuously getting worse and worse at work and I realize the writing is on the wall. I’ve upped my job hunting and am hopeful something will come up soon.

I re-subscribed to Shudder this week when I got an inkling to watch some Joe Bob Briggs. I decided to start with the most recent movie which was the R rated version of Tammy and the T-Rex starring Denise Richards and Paul Walker. Boy is it terrible. I’m not a huge fan of absolute trash movies, but Joe Bob makes them go down easier.

I gotta say, I am thankful that Shudder exists and they gave Joe Bob a platform to perform once again. There is just something so familiar and nostalgic about listening to his random rants and musings while watching a movie. I’m hoping to be a little better this year at watching his streams live. It’s just one of those little “event” sort of things that I know I would enjoy. Don’t get me wrong, I love that everything is on demand, but nothing feels special when it’s on demand.

I’m still struggling to get into a single book. I’m not sure why I can’t focus. I got halfway through my Nathan Lowell book and I hit a wall. I tried to start a couple other books and just couldn’t get going. I’m not sure if its stress or a lack of focus or what, but I really wish something would hold my attention.

I have a three day weekend starting today. There is going to be a pretty big life changing hurdle we are going to have to overcome sometime today, but maybe I’ll discuss that more next week. My only other plans this weekend are to watch a horror film called Burn that I bought on DVD. I heard about this film a few years ago and after waiting for what seemed like forever, I forgot it existed. Then six months ago I remembered and went hunting for it, and instead found a movie called Open 24 Hours which also features a quirky girl working overnight in a gas station. I assumed it was the same movie, but it wasn’t.

A few weeks ago, I ran across a DVD cover for Burn and realized I had watched the wrong movie. So I ordered a copy from Amazon and this weekend I’m finally going to close the book on my several yearlong quest to see this low budget thriller that probably wasn’t worth the trouble.

Also, I may try to finish up Resident Alien and maybe watch Star Trek III since I’m running out of time to get that in since next week is the end of the month.

Free Write Week 11 (Mar 12 – 18)

Brandy and I went to the Alamo Drafthouse and watched Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on Sunday. It was my first time seeing it on the big screen since I was a kid and it was a great time. The movie holds up quite well and seeing the costumes on the big screen was great. I couldn’t help but be impressed with how well they moved and how real they looked. It’s one of those films that you watch and makes you wonder why anyone would waste their time with CGI.

I bought Mortal Kombat 11 when it first came out but barely played it. Fighting games on a gamepad have always been a struggle for me and to be honest, I’m just not that good at them. After seeing the new Mortal Kombat trailer, I decided to pull out the game and give it another try. I’ve gotten a bit further into it, but I’m still not blown away and the storyline is just not my cup of tea. I would like to buy some of the DLC though, the idea of having Rambo, The Terminator, and Spawn beating the hell out of each other excites me.

I’m still getting quite a bit of use out of Discovery+. They seem to be better about adding new episodes of shows that are currently airing and that is what I want from this service. I was surprised to learn that the guys behind NBC’s Must See TV had a hand in the launch.

On the flip side, I went ahead and signed up for a free month of Paramount+ and I was massively underwhelmed. So far, it truly is a re-skinned version of CBS All Access. Almost all of the movies streaming are already streaming on Prime and outside of Star Trek, I don’t have a reason to ever pay for this service.

A new group has purchased Toys R Us and are planning to re-open. Personally, I’d love to see this happen, but I’m not holding out much hope. Over the years, I’ve heard similar relaunch announcements for Service Merchandise, Montgomery Wards, and Circuit City, none of which have amounted to much.

Speaking of stores that no longer exist, my childhood mall closed its doors on January 31st. I visited it a few times in the fall, but once FYE closed its doors I didn’t have much of a reason to go. The mall is being redeveloped into Epic Games’ new headquarters.

I know, because if I am special (if I am especially talented or especially brave, for example) then I can justify my self-worth. Because I somehow believe that my self-worth is tied up with being more successful or being more talented than other people. But of course, this is a terribly weak and flawed idea, because there will always be other people who are smarter and more talented and more successful than me.

Special by Rebecca Toh

I enjoyed this little tribute to Fry’s Electronics.

I’m not holding my breath until I see it in person, but I did finally manage to order a PS5 this week. I’m excited to check it out when it gets delivered in 2-3 weeks.

The weather called from some serious tornados on Thursday, so they closed down my department at work at noon. The tornados never came close to where I live. In fact, it didn’t even rain. However, the extra time at home gave me some time to catch up on some TV shows and even snag a PS5. I hopped online and saw Walmart had them in stock again and after fifteen minutes I managed to get on into my cart and check out.

I’m the type of guy who doesn’t get excited until I see it in person, but hopefully in the next 2-3 weeks I’ll have a shiny new PS5. Now I just gotta figure out where the hell I can fit that massive console.

Discovery+ put up a new show called Expedition Back to the Future with Josh Gates and Christopher Lloyd. They go across America to track down the original De Loreans used in the Back to the Future movies. It’s a fun little series if you are a fan of Back to the Future and features some great cameos.

AEW Dynamite featured one of my favorite women’s matches ever this week: a Lights Out match between Thunder Rosa and Britt Baker. The two women went out and tore down the house. I wasn’t expecting that much out Britt Baker but she really showed grit and her improvement over the past year. I’m hoping this match’s momentum will lead to more time and effort being put into the women’s division.

Carolina Fear Fest is planning on running their convention in May. I was excited to attend this convention last year before it was cancelled and part of me is curious about how it will go this year. They’ve announced a couple of actors/actresses the most popular being Felissa Rose from Sleepaway Camp, but I’m just not sure how you can safely run a convention during a pandemic. In fact, nothing has really been said about any precautions which makes me think I’m going to have to sit this year out.

I’ve been waiting for a price drop on Streets of Rage 4 and this week I was rewarded. I put down my money and my only regret is not paying full price sooner. The game is absolutely gorgeous and brings back those button mashing memories. I find the difficulty to be about perfect for me and the soundtrack is incredible. This game took me by total surprise. I bought it for nostalgia and got so much more.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are super tight this year on cap space and the team has had to let go some decent players in order to stay under. Even Ben Roethlisberger had to rework his contract just to keep some of the team together. One of the players everyone expected to leave was star wide receiver Ju Ju Smith Schuster. I was kinda bummed because I always liked Ju Ju. Well, imagine my surprise when he turned down big offers from the Eagles, Ravens, and Chiefs just to stay in Pittsburgh. Crazy stuff and I love it. I became a fan of the Steelers because of the way they do business and it’s awesome to see a player like Ju Ju sticking with the franchise.

Balance in Blogging

Last year, I started a blog called Dark Thoughts. It’s not one I share and it’s the closest thing I have to a true free write journal. It’s a place for me to write about whatever anonymously. 

I haven’t updated the site since December when I focused in on putting all my attention into re-booting this blog. Since then, my dark little spot on the web has been left to collect cobwebs. On it are various rants, complaints, and frustrations that seemed important at the time, but now looking back I realize they were mostly trivial.

Last night, I had trouble sleeping and I woke up not in the best of moods.  I let in a little negativity before bed and that led to an onslaught of negative emotions. I had so many thoughts frustrating me that I wanted to let them all out. So, this morning I started writing and I began to feel better. I purged some of that negativity and intended on posting it here, but I ultimately decided against it. It just doesn’t fit with the vibe of this site. There was nothing productive or all that interesting about what I wrote. It was just a man dealing with getting older and the frustrations and self-doubt that comes with that.

I decided it would fit better on my dark site, where all my negative thoughts and emotions go to exist. I don’t disregard them or pretend like they don’t exist, I just put them somewhere that has less of a spotlight than say here. It’s my way of processing them and something I need to use more.

I realized that I get frustrated at times when I journal because so much of it comes off negative. I really want balance in my writing. But today, I realized that I have that. I have two blogs that represent the good and the bad. I tend to share more of the good with the people I like and I keep the bad to myself, because let’s be honest, no one wants to read someone ranting. Nonetheless, I have an outlet for writing that fits either category and it’s nice that I spend more time and energy here on the good instead of the bad.

I didn’t set out to do it this way, but this is just what happened. I makes me think about the harmony of good and bad (or positive and negative) co-existing and how addressing it each one is necessary in order to feel whole. 

Free Write Week 10 (Mar 4 – 11)

I’ve been having some problems with my comments. For some reason, they are now turned off by default when I publish a post. I have to remember to log back in and do a Quick Edit to turn them back on. I’m not sure what is going on, but I’m hoping this latest WordPress update will help. If you feel like leaving a comment and the options not there, check back in a little while and hopefully I’ll remember to have it fixed.

So, my favorite movie theater, The Alamo Drafthouse has filed for bankruptcy and was sold to an investment group. I’m not sure what this means for the future of my local theater but I hope they stay open and don’t change much. Since I left the movie theater business, I’ve only been to a chain theater once (for the early Aquaman screening) in the past eight years. All my other trips to the theater have been at Alamo or the drive in. I just can’t deal with the modern movie going experience of cell phones and craziness. Alamo helped keep that in check.

I’ve got several blogs pre-written that I’ve meant to publish over the past month or two and haven’t gotten around to yet. Due to changing events in my life, I’m not sure how well they fit into my current mind frame. This brings me to the question? Do I still post them knowing that I might feel a bit differently now? Or do I just discard them and write them off as an exercise of my mind at the certain time.

WandaVision has ended and I was disappointed. Between the cast teasing a cameo equal to the one at the end of The Mandalorian to just expecting a great self-contained story, I felt like everything just kinda ended meh. It also didn’t help that the CGI fight scenes were no more impressive than what can be seen on the CW any given week.

I think the biggest problem with the ending was all of the unanswered questions. I don’t think the show was set up for more seasons and I’m not really sure if I’d want to watch more. I liked the concept of the sitcom and the mystery behind it all. At the end we got a lot of teasing and set up for various characters future in the MCU and I felt like we went right back to sacrificing story and closure to tease the next project.

Overall, the show was great and the ending was just okay.

One TV show I was surprised that I enjoyed was Debris. It wasn’t on my radar but I heard that it helmed by J.H. Wyman, the man behind Fringe starting with season two. I haven’t seen much of Fringe, but I liked what I saw and that was enough for me to give Debris a chance. It set up a big mystery right off the back and fell into typical paranormal procedural format which I’m not mad about. Being a fan of The X-Files, I’m totally down with watching a couple of agents exploring the country looking into a grand alien conspiracy/mystery.

Also, for horror fans, the first episode was directed by Brad Anderson, director of Session Nine.

I continued my walking and caffeine reduction this week and it’s paid off huge. I’m sleeping more soundly at night and having less issues falling asleep. This is leading to me feeling better the following day and I think that little extra mental energy is allowing me to combat the stress and anxiety just a little bit more.

I managed to score another toy from Hasbro’s retro The Real Ghostbusters line: The GhostPopper.

This was another toy I had as a kid and I played with a ton. I have lots of great memories of playing with it, so when I saw it for $20 I just had to get it. Well… the wife convinced me, but I didn’t put up too much of a fight.

I’m actually impressed with how well it works. It’s a neat toy that brings me back and looks great on my shelf.

The Hollywood Reporter did a great article on Shelly Duvall that is worth reading if you are a movie fan.

I bought a pair of Loop earplugs and I absolutely love them. They are super soft and aren’t very noticeable. I purchased them because sometimes at work it can get loud. There has been a lot of construction and one of the places I work is located between four offices and a very busy hallway. When things get a little crazy I just pop them in and dull the sound a bit. Its been the best $14 Ive spent in a while.

Found this comment interesting from this reddit thread.

The idea that you’re not a fan if you don’t have a merchandise collection is some grade A brainwashing by successful marketing. You think the people who can quote Shakespeare by heart aren’t fans because they don’t have a Hamlett funko pop?

The reason nerds love toys is the same reason religious people love their their pendants and tribal people make idols. When you love something that is completely intangible and out of reach, you look for totems to make that love tangible.

Minimalism in general aims to provide peace of mind by making sure you don’t misplace your attention and efforts. Consumerism in general is a crutch people use to fill the hole in their soul where they miss something. It’s a very poor crutch though, the real solution is usually to fill your life with truly meaningful experiences instead of the artificial high of buying something.

I purchased front row tickets for an upcoming independent wrestling event in April. No matches have been announced yet but they promise CDC Guidelines will be followed and I’m hoping they are true to their word. I’m excited to see some wrestling live for the first time since January 2020.

My buddy Michael’s second video in his Maine’s Pro Wrestling History series is up on Limitless Wrestling’s YouTube page. I love these short segments discussing various wrestling trivia from his home state. I recommend any wrestling fans to check it out.

I read a great article on Wired called: Sci-Fi Writer or Prophet? The Hyperreal Life of Chen Quifan. it was filled with some fantastic quotes like the one below.

“One of the most important qualities in a writer is sensitivity – the ability to capture the strangeness in everyday life.”

-Chen Qiufan

A new Ninja Turtle videogame was announced and it’s an old school side scroller that is heavily inspired by the original arcade game and Turtles in Time. The trailer features the lead singer from Faith No More covering the Turtles theme followed by some exciting footage.

For the past month or so, every Saturday morning the official Ghostbusters YouTube page releases a single episode of The Real Ghostbusters at 9 AM EST time. Ive been meaning to try and watch one on a Saturday morning to bring back those childhood feels. This past Saturday I finally did it and I watched the pilot episode which wasnt half bad. I might try to do this every Saturday morning just for fun.

A Paralysis of Choice

Recently, I’ve been stuck. I’ve found myself struggling to get interested in just about anything. Movies, TV shows, video games, books, comics… you name it, I’m not enjoying it. I’ve started and stopped so many things the past few weeks it’s startling. It’s almost as if I’ve lost my focus and my drive to consume entertainment.

For some, this would not be a big deal, but for a guy like me who has always loved movies, books, and games, it brings up a lot of questions: When did I lose my love for the things that I enjoy and how did that happen? Is there something wrong with me? Did I grow out of all of these things? What do I replace them with?

I was discussing my frustration with my wife the other week and I told her I thought I might be suffering from a paralysis of choice. There are just so many things vying for my attention I think I just found myself struggling to fully commit to anything. Whenever I’d start a movie that I’ve already seen, I’d think about a movie I haven’t seen yet but would like. I think about the TV shows I want to catch up on so I can chat with my friends. I think about the games I want to revisit and the games I want to finally try out. I browse through hundreds of movies, over a hundred games and books and I just don’t know what to pick. I have way too choices at my fingertips. There is no friction between me and the entertainment and because of that it’s become almost valueless. I don’t hold it in my hands and it’s almost as if it doesn’t exist. It has no weight and is not tangible.

In contrast, when I think back to the early 2000’s, I think about how this was never a problem but boredom would sometimes creep in. I can’t not remember the last time I was bored. It’s been years.

Back then, I’d come home from work and maybe flip on the TV. If I didn’t find anything interesting, I’d browse my DVD shelf for a movie that I like. I’d re-watch one of these movies, or I’d explore the special features. I’d find new things to love about the film after hearing the director gush about the production on the commentary track. I’d find new actors that I liked based on their interviews and behind the scenes antics. I’d squeeze every DVD for every drop of entertainment and I’d enjoy every second of it.

If I didn’t want to watch something I already owned, I’d have to travel to the store to buy or rent something which was an adventure in itself. I’d be limited to the selection of a specific Blockbuster or Best Buy, but that was okay. I could always find something interesting to watch. I’d pay for a specific movie and by doing so enter a contract with myself to get value out of my dollar. I’d go home and give the movie and honest attempt at watching since this was all that I had. I’d give some movies more time to get going and sometimes I’d discover a hidden gem that just started out slow. Nowadays, I’ll turn a movie off in a heartbeat and just pick something else streaming. I always have a list of things to watch that I’m never going to catch up on.

You can substitute video game, book, magazine, etc. for the movie reference above. The point I’m trying to make is with limited choices I felt more empowered and the action seemed to have more value. I found myself getting excited about movies/games/books and really wanting to enjoy them. I didn’t look for the quick hit of entertainment because I wanted my enjoyment to last as long as possible. Nowadays I feel like I spend time rushing through things just so I can attack the next item on this never ending list of entertainment.

Part of my reasoning for wanting to have a clean slate to work from this year was to eliminate choices and streamline my thinking. I wanted to eliminate some of the noise and clutter. Being subscribed to several streaming services, having every song available on Spotify, having over 100 games available on my Playstation, and pretty much any book ever written a few clicks away has created a lot of noise. I don’t think the answer is to eliminate all my choices, but to really hone in on what I want to enjoy and focus solely on that. Take a sort of Hell Yes or Hell No approach to the media I consume. If I’m not super excited and would say Hell Yes to it, then I just need to let it go.

I’m going to try and utilize some self-control to help eliminate some of my choices. I’m going to attempt to focus on one video game at a time and play it until I’m completely done with it before moving onto something else. I’m going to remove all the ebooks from my Kobo and phone, except for the one book that I’m reading at any given point in time. I’m also going to try an embrace watching more movies. I enjoy TV but it feels very disposable to me. I find that I enjoy movies the most. It makes sense, that was what I always leaned towards growing up. I want to embrace my love of movies a bit more and really put some effort into finding that love and appreciation that I once had. I’m a movie guy, I just don’t think of myself as one. It’s time that I start embracing that and see movie watching as what it really is to me: a hobby.

I decided to start a new book from Nathan Lowell’s Smuggler Tales series since he’s arguably my favorite author. I’m working on my Spotify playlists. I’ve decided to focus on finishing up Super Mario World 3D with Brandy and I’m going to begin Mudrunner as the game I play on my own. I’m going to focus on writing a bit more and as my depression wavers, getting out of the house a bit more, even if it’s just to hit up thrift stores in search of movies. I’m also going to keep an eye open for a new hobby should I come across something interesting.

Simple Joy

Growing up, one of my favorite activities was renting movies. I loved walking into the video store and being able to touch the boxes. I loved the excitement that built as I looked for that perfect movie and the exhilaration I experienced from the anticipation of watching my selection.

There was something real and organic about the whole experience. My selections weren’t overly researched, trailers weren’t watched in advance, and review scores weren’t considered. It was just me, alone, using my reason to pick the best choice for myself.

I made good choices the majority of the time. There were always those few bad movies with great box art or a fantastic cast that were just deceiving, but rarely did I ever turn a movie off. After all, I had paid for this experience, good or bad.

I also remember feeling excited when I’d go to pick up photos. The pictures had been taken days ago and I had no idea how they turned out. I had no control on changing the photos or taking additional pictures. What was done was done and I had to accept the results. Similar to renting a movie, I almost always found the good in whatever I ended up with.

I don’t feel this level of excitement or anticipation anymore. I’m not sure if the algorithms have ruined it for me or if I have way too many options just a click away, but I miss it.

Free Write Week 9 (Feb 26-Mar 3)

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the pilot of Superman and Lois Superman has never been one of my favorite superheroes but I thought the way this show represented him was one of the most interesting approaches in quite some time. The idea of making a family dynamic show where the father just happens to be a superhero is innovative and breathes fresh air into a somewhat stale, infallible character. I hope the show keeps this level of quality as it continues on because I could use a little more of this in my life.

People walk around pushing back their debts,
Wearing paychecks like necklaces and bracelets,
Talking about nothing, not thinking about death,
Every little heartbeat, every little breath.

-Brett Dennen, Ain’t No Reason

I went walking on Sunday, it was my first intentional exercise in quite some time. Between sleep issues and stress, I know I need to make some changes. I don’t have any grandiose couch to 5k style plans, I just want to get out and walk a little. Get a little fresh air and exercise. Even if it’s just ten minutes, I need to get moving.

I’m also focusing on making some changes for my sleep. I’ve dramatically reduced the amount of caffeine I’m in taking and limiting it to the mornings. I also purchased some Sleeptime Tea, which I’m not sure it’s true effectiveness but I figured it couldn’t hurt.

I’m hoping with better quality sleep and less caffeine I’ll find myself less irritable and better equipped to take on the day’s challenges.

Last year, I was blown away when I finally tried a Popeye’s Chicken Sandwich. As more fast food places announced competitors, I became excited to see the ultimate chicken sandwich throwdown. So far, I’ve tried Wendys, Zaxbys, and KFCs and I gotta say, all three disappointed. In Wendy’s case, it was actually inferior to the Homestyle Chicken Sandwich. Zaxby’s was nothing but sauce, and as much as I love Zax’s sauce there is such a thing as too much sauce. And KFCs was a little dry and just needed something to enhance it.

McDonalds has a new chicken sandwich but from what I’ve read it’s very disappointing. This is a shame, because I’m not the biggest Popeye’s fan, but damn if they didn’t go out and master the chicken sandwich. Such a shame the rest of the fast food places decided to take the cheap corporate way out and put very little effort into making a true competitor.

I’ve read issue two of The Last Ronin and was blown away yet again. I’ve been a big fan of the current Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles run (although I’m years behind now), but man The Last Ronin may be the best Turtles story I’ve ever read/watched. I know it still just the second issue but the art, the characters, the storyline, all of it is just coming together so well. I’m super excited to see where the story goes from here.

Movies Watched in February

The Big Lebowski – The first time I watched The Big Lebowski I hated it. Then a few years later I gave it another shot and I found it okay. Then I watched it again and I liked it. Then again and I loved it. Now I watch it about once a year.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan – See full review on A Year in Star Trek Movies.

The Last Blockbuster – Being a former Blockbuster employee, I loved this film. It was well made and did a great job balancing the story of what happened to Blockbuster and how this one Blockbuster survives. Seeing the old POS system that was being utilized when I worked there back in 2001 still in action brought a joy to my heart. Great documentary and a must see for those nostalgic for video stores.

Ripper Letter from Hell – I saw this movie back when it was released in 2001. I loved it. It’s been on my re-watch list for years and after I picked up a copy of the sequel that I didn’t know existed, I went ahead and ordered a copy off of eBay. It took me a few months to watch it and wow… what a disappointment. This movie does not hold up well at all. There is nothing inheritably charming or memorable about it. Such a bummer.

Amityville Dollhouse – This was one of those horror films I caught on Encore at 3 AM back in the 90’s and loved it. It’s been a good twenty years since I last saw it and around Halloween I bought a copy on VHS because the DVD was extremely out of print. A month later, Vinegar Syndrome released a remastered blu-ray and a few months after that those prints hit Amazon Prime. I watched the remastered version on Amazon and it looks great. The movie itself is not too bad. It’s nothing fantastic and has some really bad acting, but I enjoy the isolated location and the special effects are quite impressive at times. Nostalgia definitely factors into my enjoyment of this flick.

New Mutants – My wife wanted to see this film so we rented it. It was okay. Not as bad as I had heard, but it’s a bit of a mess and totally lacks personality.

Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone – This year we have made a goal to watch all of the Harry Potter films. I’ve only seen them once and I wasn’t sure if I needed to see them again. I enjoyed the first movie quite a bit and it holds up quite well.

Lars and the Real Girl – This film surprised me. Ryan Gosling is terrific and I think it’s a wonderful look at loneliness. It’s also a very positive film which I loved. I miss quirky little independent films like this and I need to seek out more of them. You will notice that a lot of the films that I watched after this fall into that quirky independent category.

Jeff, Who Lives at Home – Another fantastic, positive film that was much better than expected. Jason Segal, Susan Sarandon, and Judy Greer steal the show in this movie about finding your purpose in the oddest of places.

Stranger Than Fiction – I’m not the biggest Will Ferrell fan but I wanted to give his more dramatic roles a shot. I liked this film better than Everything Must Go (see below) but it still wasn’t anything I’d sit through again. The premises was interesting: a man realizes that an author is narrating his entire life and the movie gets surreal and then it sort of just ends. Maggie Gyllenhaal stole the show, but then again, when doesn’t she?

Everything Must Go – Another Will Ferrell dramedy with character who has a bit more substance. Will plays an alcoholic who loses everything all in one day. It’s one of those films that has some good depth when it comes to exploring addiction but doesn’t really tell that great of a story. It’s a very forgettable film.

Save Yourselves – Ugh… Save Yourself and don’t waste your time. Another hipster style indy film that has a decent set up but has no ending.

Captain America: Winter Solider – My favorite MCU movie, I was inspired to revisit Winter Solider after watching WandaVision. The movie holds up well and is still a great action packed political thriller.

Sonic The Hedgehog – I can’t say enough good things about Sonic the Hedgehog. I never in a million years would have thought it could be so good. The acting, graphics, music, and even script are all top notch. It’s got heart, it’s charming, and it feels connected to the source material. Kudos to all involved for making the best family/kid movie I’ve seen in many, many years.

It’s Kind of a Funny Story – Another indie film that has been on my radar for a while. It’s Kind of a Funny Story is about a sixteen year old kid’s time in a psych ward in a hospital. It’s cute and does have some good things to say about mental health but ultimately the film just doesn’t do anything to move it from the average category to good. A very average film that isn’t a waste of time but probably won’t be remembered the next day.

The Pool Boys – A late 2000’s teen comedy by the director of American Pie 2 and Say it Isn’t So starring Matthew Lillard. The plot is one we’ve seen a dozen times before and surprisingly they are quite disciplined with the nudity. It’s good for a few laughs, but not really worth the time to watch it. There are much better movies in this sub-genre.

Nomadland – This is a beautiful movie that takes an interesting look at loneliness and poverty. I enjoyed it, but wouldn’t watch it again.

Dredd – Its been a few years since I watched Dredd and I loved rewatching it. Its a simple movie that doesn’t shy away from the gore and is masterfully put together. Some of the CGI is a bit iffy but Karl Urban is at his best alongside Lena Headey.

Amityville 1992 – I’m a fan of the low budget horror I grew up on and after watching Amityville Dolllhouse I decided to take a look at another 90s Amityville film, this one was one I hadn’t seen before. I really loved the vibe of the movie. It screamed cheesy 90s and the plot wasn’t half bad. The dad from The Monster Squad was in it alongside Megan Ward, an actress I forgot about and one of my teenage crushes.

Skin: A History of Nudity in Hollywood – This was a very good documentary that documents the use of nudity in Hollywood since the late 1800s. It’s done tastefully from a historical perspective and goes decade by decade. You hear from a lot of Hollywood names and various social commentators and listen to a variety of different opinions and experiences in getting nude for the movies.

The Craft: Legacy – I’m a huge fan of the original film and hoped this would be a decent sequel/reboot. It’s not terrible, but definitely not made for man in his late thirties. I could see teenage girls loving this film and creating a whole new fanbase for this franchise for the future.

Becky – I rented this solely to see Kevin James as a bad guy. He didn’t disappoint. In fact, I was impressed by how easily he transitioned into the role and how convincing he was. The movie itself is a fun mix of Home Alone and First Blood with Nazis.