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Mini Movie Reviews 12/15/19

Morning!

This time of year is always bonkers for me. The weather, too, especially as it swings from cold to warm and back again. Then there’s squeezing in the holidays while trying to juggle all the year-end accounting projects before the close in January. Since the company is now public again, the amount of requirements for auditors and reporting goes way up!

I hope you guys are having a better time of it! 😛

Mini Movie Reviews

Knives OutKnives Out – This film was a lot more fun than I expected. It’s a classic Agatha Christie setup, but then it takes a left turn in an unexpected direction. Secrets, machinations, lies, a ton of details pulling every which way. Even when you think you know what happened, it turns out it wasn’t that way at all. Great performances, good twists and turns. There was something odd on the way close-ups were filmed, which made the actors and actresses look off, but this could have been intentional.

Rating: 3.75 out of 4 (Hubby’s Rating: Worth Full Price to See Again!) 

 

Jumanji: The Next LevelJumanji: The Next Level – Hubby had been chomping at the bit to see this one. 😛 They did a great job showing some of the reasons Spencer chose to try to fix the game and going back inside. Some new people and characters get introduced as Jumanji gets thrown into a bigger crisis than before. The actors doing the avatars get to reinvent themselves as the people behind them have changed. They did such a great job! Awkwafina did a great Granpa Eddie. ROFL. Some new skills and new weaknesses. The prehistoric ostriches were super cool and scary. Lol.  One extra bit ties the end of the film back to giving homage to the original Jumanji as well as a possible leading to another film! Favorite quote: “You are the worst Bravestone ever!” 😛 

Rating: 3.5 out of 4 (Hubby’s Rating: Worth Full Price to See Again.)

Have a great week!

Virtual Tourist – Yakuza 0 12/1/19

Mini Movie Reviews

Frozen 2

Frozen 2 – there was a lot to love about this sequel. I adored that we got to see how the family was before the scare, which made the parents separate the two girls. They also worked in the lesson from the first film into the second one, which made for a nice progression. The animation was great, and we have new songs to sing. Lol. I enjoyed it a lot! Rating: 3.75 out of 4 (Hubby’s Rating: Worth Full Price to See Again!)

 

Ford vs. Ferrari Ford vs. Ferrari – Matt Damon and Christian Bale are fab in this film. The rapport between the two men and the difficulties they face came across as natural and with depth. From the quick research I did, this is mostly accurate, with the usual license taken by Hollywood to ramp up the excitement and drama. The one bit I do wish they’d pointed out better is how Ken Miles would have won the European trifecta of racing if he’d not been shafted at Le Mans. He would have been the first man to ever win all three. So sad. Good story, great cinematography, excellent acting, cool racing stunts. Rating: 3.75 out of 4 (Hubby’s Rating: Worth Full Price to See Again)

Yakuza 0

Yakuza 0 - New town

The game switches characters and cities. 1980’s fictional Okinawa!

Yakuza 0 - Crab Sign

See that giant crab sign? They have those for real! The details are amazing.

Yakuza 0 - first view of The Grand

Side street view of the cabaret club called The Grand. This is where we will meet Majima. 

Yakuza 0 - The Grand front entrance

The front entrance to The Grand. Super glitzy!

Yakuza 0 - Inside The Grand

They have a full-on band! Though it is the ’80s, this does take you back to the big clubs from the ’40s.

Yakuza 0 - clientele at The Grand

A shot of the clientele at The Grand.

Yakuza 0 - it's Christmas!

Spotted some nice decorations for Christmas! That’s Majima. Did I not take a pic of him? Eek!

Yakuza 0 - Don Quixote

Your super general type store – Don Quixote! They have all sorts of stuff for sale. 😛

Yakuza 0 - Shrine

This is shrine tucked away in some narrow streets close to Club Sunshine. The same weird priest with the clown face is here. A place to trade your CP points for goodies and advantages.

Yakuza 0 - ritzie club interior

This town is chuck full of ritzy clubs. Everyone has money to burn! 😛

I keep trying to get myself back on to a regular schedule with posts, but life is all over the place. I hope you and yours had a great Thanksgiving!

 

Virtual Tourist – Seasons After Fall 11/3/19

Morning all!

Fall is definitely in the air. Temperatures have been chilly all week. It might actually be here to stay!

Due to unforeseen issues at the publisher, Alien Redemption will probably not be available in 2019 but be pushed to early 2020. 🙁  Editing is progressing. I don’t think they’ve assigned a cover artist yet.

Movie Reviews

Terminator: Dark Fate Terminator: Dark Fate – A lot of James Cameron’s films of late have been not so great, so I went to see this with low expectations. I was very pleasantly surprised – the movie was good!

It picks up after events in Terminator 2 Judgement Day and then leaps forward twenty years or so. Skynet is no more. Now they have to worry about Legion. (Time does not like being messed with.) 

Great action, special effects, and acting. There are lots of small surprises. I was impressed with the physical details concerning Grace being a cyborg. You can see the scars around her eyes, her arms, chest, and stomach where they did work on her. There are also divets, small screws, and more. And there is a price to be paid for the enhancements. 

The new terminator type sent after Dani was super tough and absorbed information at an alarming rate. I love that they made him a small man, someone who you’d never expect to be able to do what he does. Both a liquid and solid terminator, he makes for a super challenging and scary combo. There were some attacks he could have done that he didn’t, but then a future flashback shows his compatriots doing precisely what I thought he should have done. LOL. Guess it would have made his mission too easy then. 

Overall, I enjoyed the film a lot. Seeing Linda Hamilton and Arnold Schwatzeneger together again was a treat. Bitter old Sarah Conner was a hoot. The film definitely deserves to do better at the box office than it has so far. Rating: 3.5 out of 4. (Hubby’s Rating: Worth Full Price to See Again!)

 

Virtual Tourist

Seasons After Fall

Seasons After Fall - Little Seed

Our true form. This is the Sanctuary.

Seasons After Fall

We are back inside the fox and heading off to the second guardian.

Seasons After Fall

You’ll learn that in any of the areas with water, winter is your friend. It is the only way to get across and leap out.

Seasons After Fall

Walking through a hollow log.

The route here is obstructed. There are little creatures you can get to spawn who, depending on the seasons, can be activated to blow them up. 🙂

Seasons After Fall

Another obstruction. Though later, you learn to play with the steam and ice.

Seasons After Fall

There’s a giant feather on the outcropping. Something that will be useful after we meet the second guardian.

Seasons After Fall

The second guardian! Now things are about to get super interesting!

Seasons After Fall

Now we can summon summer by barking twice near the energy ball. The new season affects the little guys, and thus we can make them leave their nest which you can see in the branch to the left.

Seasons After Fall

The tree now has a carving for the second guardian as we make our way back to the Sanctuary.

Stay warm out there!

 

Virtual Tourist – ABZU 10/27/19

Morning!

October has turned out to be a very chaotic and tiring month. Loads of crazy stuff at work. The weather also just turned, so we’ve had lower temperatures and rain this week. But is the heat really done with us yet? We shall see!

Mini Movie Reviews

Gemini Man – Hubby and I had thought this would be Will Smith and his son, but it was all Will Smith. The film was great fun. Impressive stunts and fight scenes with some surprising moves. Gorgeous locals and cinematography. They even play with camera perspectives – enough to make it interesting, but not so much it disturbs the viewer. Rating: 3.5 out of 4 (Hubby’s Rating: Pay Full Price to See Again!)

 

The Current War: Director’s Cut – I’d never heard of the film until about a week ago. Per IMDB it was initially released in 2017. The title is horrible (If you don’t know what it is, you’d think it was an actual war movie.) The film is about Edison, Tesla, and Westinghouse and the fight/race to light up the US with either DC or Alternating Current. A lot of history gets sanitized for the history books. Here’s a chance to get a taste of what they don’t tell you. Great acting, fascinating history, and you get a feel for how truly revolutionary the concepts being thrown about are to the people of that ear. Rating: 3.75 out of 4 (Hubby’s Rating: Worth Full Price.)

 

Virtual Tourist

ABZU

ABZU is a visually stunning puzzle game. The music and art are great, but I will say it was really short (only a little over 3 hrs of gameplay), and the character movement underwater is so awkward that it proved frustrating and horribly distracting from the beauty around you. Just about the time I finally felt I got the hang of it, the game was over. o.O

 

ABZU - current

A fast-moving current underwater. 

ABZU - Awakening

The awakening.

ABZU - Awakening 2

That’s us. You become aware floating facedown in the water.

ABZU - first garden

The first area – there are several species of fish to meet. 🙂

ABZU - underwater plants

Each area is different, and through your explorations and solving of puzzles, the area themselves can change. You start getting the feeling something terrible happened here, and you’re trying to fix it.

ABZU - meditation stone

You will find a statue like this in each new area. You can sit on it and meditate. In meditation, the camera will attach to a nearby fish and follow it around, showing you the name on the bottom right. 

ABZU - Energy Temple

As you complete the puzzles, you will enter this energy temple area and give energy to it. 

ABZU - Temple center

The central area of the energy temple.

ABZU - the first area acknowledged

Once you give the energy for the area you completed, the energy temple will go through a growth sequence.

ABZU - Changed Garden #1

This occurs after the change at the temple, transforming the garden and releasing new creatures into the sea. 

 

Have a great week!

Virtual Tourist – Seasons After Fall 10/13/19

Morning, all!

Fall seems to have officially arrived here in Texas. Weather flip-flopped, and we went from 100 down to the 70’s with one morning being a super chilly 54. But will it stay? 😛

Mini Movie Review

The Addams FamilyThe Addams Family – Super adorable and nostalgic film. Even better, they actually show when Morticia and Gomez got married and how Lurch became part of the family. Also, how they found their home. This helps build the neat two-mirror-sided plot of the film when, after 13 years of cutting themselves off from the world, the world pushes back in. The movie was a lot of fun. Rating: 3.5 out of 4 (Hubby’s Rating: Worth Full Price to See Again!) (No additional bits in the credits though.)

Virtual Tourist

Season After Fall

This is a super cute 2D game. Short duration (though I’ve not finished it yet), but super cute and something of a mystery.

Seasons After Fall - integration

I forgot to take any pictures of the energy seed into. DOH. This is where the energy seed (the player) gets integrated into a nearby fox. A young, mysterious voice is asking us to help it with a project.

Season After Fall

The integrated fox and seed. If you home in, you can see the fox’s eyes now glow. The area on the photo is where the energy seed came out. The four stones and the floor area seem to be all that remains of the ruins of the place.

Season After Fall

We’re heading off to the first guardian. I am to retrieve a piece from each one.

Seasons After Fall

A beautiful sea to look at on the way.

Seasons After Fall

There ate items to interact with to let you progress in certain areas. For this, you bark. This limb was coiled until you do so. Now I can make the jump! (Some things you run across look like something to use, but you can’t yet. There’s a reason for that. :P)

Seasons After Fall

Stone totems made by the first guardian. As you come near, their eyes light up. 

Season After Fall

The first guardian. Seems he sleeps a lot of the time. 😛

Seasons After Fall

When you get the shard and try to go back, you find you can’t get past a particular area. Something was said to you as a hint, and I was able to work it out. If you bark twice near the shard (it is an energy ball and floats – see the floating blue ball on the left?), the whole weather of the area changes to something else.  So we went from spring to winter! So you change the weather to affect things. A rather ingenious idea for a puzzle game. (The weird thing on the right previously looked like an empty, dead flower pod. Now it will gather and throw out a giant snowball, allowing me to reach the tree limb on the left!)

Seasons After Fall - Closed avenue

When I get close to our starting point, the way back towards the just visited guardian is closed.

Season After Fall - assimilation

Once we return to the temple ruins, the young voice has the seed assimilate the energy shard. Then we merge once more with the fox.

Have a great week!

Mini Movie Reviews 9/29/19

Greetings!

Looks like fall is on its way. But before it gets here, it’s been hotter than a griddle around here. Texas is at a boil. 😛

Mini Movie Reviews

Ad Astra

Ad Astra – a cerebral yet also super action-packed film. It is an external and internal journey for astronaut Roy McBride. Ad Astra is Latin for “to the stars” – around which every facet of Roy’s life has revolved. The cinematography is outstanding. The special effects are fantastic. This film has a ton of layers, from the personal to the weird directions society has decided to follow. Several twists and surprising bits. Rating: 3.75 out of 4. (Hubby’s Rating: Worth Full Price to See Again.)

 

Abominable Abominable – This film was super adorable! A gorgeous movie, full of amazing panoramic shots. Like “Ad Astra” this one is also an emotional journey as well as a physical one for Yi. They too do a couple of unexpected twists, just to keep things interesting. 😛 The Whoop snake is a hoot. (So is Dave. Lol.) Tons of adorable and cute moments. Some tear generating ones as well. You must sit through the credits as they are full of snapshots of things that happen after the adventure is over. The last one definitely tried to open the waterworks. 😛 Rating: 3.5 out of 4 (Hubby’s Rating: Worth Full Price of Admission.)

 

We frequent AMC Theaters (if you see a lot of movies, their Stubs Program is for you!) IMAX used to be their top screen experience, but it looks like Dolby has now taken that over. What confused us when we first saw Dolby as one of their new movie experience was that back in the day Dolby referred to an enhanced sound system. But now it’s returned as both super-enhanced sound (with some shaking the very air around you) and superior colors and visuals. It just seemed off they’d pick a name from something old for something new. Weird!

 

Have an awesome week!

Virtual Tourist – Yakuza 0 9/15/19

Morning!

Dropped off the planet again. Seems to be more often than not anymore. Apologies! 

I could bore you with the weird health issues or the insanity at work with the horrible software we now have to work in, but I won’t. 😛 Let’s look at something more fun. 🙂 

News – Edits on “Alien Redemption” are moving forward! I don’t know if the publisher will work it all in before the end of the year, but I am hopeful! So keep your fingers crossed! 

Also, for anyone up in the Oklahoma area, there are activities on Nov 2-3, 2019. I won’t be signing up but thought it would be worth passing then info. It’s the Tulsa Pop Culture Expo 2019! (They were super nice to reach out and send me info, so I figured I’d help them in return. :))

Tulsa Pop Culture Expo

Yakuza O

Yakuza 0 - Substory Producer

One of the crazy things about the game is the substories. The main storyline is super serious, but everything else? Not so much. Lol. In this one, I’ve been helping out as a “producer” for a difficult director. They even dressed me for the part. Well, the guy behind Kazuma is the real Producer. The clothes are an exact match. lol.

Yakuza 0 - Dom substory

Another bizarre substory. Helping a dom learn how to talk the talk. (She was too polite and her customers weren’t feeling it. ROFL.)

Yakuza 0 - Kappa Statue

So adorable! Look at the cute kappa statue! Awwww!

Yakuza 0 - Maharajah Disco

Maharajah Disco. There’s one of these in both cities in the game. The dancing mini-game is HARD! (At least to my uncoordinated fingers.) 😛

Yakuza 0 - Kazuma does Saturday Night Fever

Like the substories, all the mini-games take things to farce levels. They have the guys to Saturday Night Fever struts before we do the dancing. The disparity between the main story line and everything else is extreme, but also a lot of fun. 

Yakuza 0 - Disco Fever!

See what I mean? (Oh, and during Karaoke, it goes super crazy. No pics as I am pushing arrow keys like mad! lol)

Yakuza 0 - swank Hotel lobby

Swank hotel/office lobby. I’m about to go see a mysterious benefactor.

Yakuza 0 - kid substory

A lot of the substories end up having to do with kids. Some of the stories are too adorable.

Yakuza 0 - the meeting

Kazuma has such awesome facial expressions! Lol. 

Yakuza 0 - Oda

This is Oda. Right-hand man to Tachibana, the mysterious benefactor. He wants to test my mettle. 😛

May your week be fruitful and calm! 

 

Virtual Tourist – Tales of Berseria 8/18/19

Morning!

Well, August has been a big cluster of crazy. Made it down for ArmadilloCon then ended up spending all weekend in the hotel room. The drive tortured my insides too much so I had no tolerance for sitting in the hotel chairs at all. 🙁

Poor hubby ended up getting a kidney stone for his birthday. We think it’s finally out. He was super miserable for the last two weeks! Ugh.

I’d really hoped to make Animefest, but had to cancel out. Did buy a fancy chair to try to make it, but the chair didn’t work out, so that was that. (I’m canceling out of Fencon as well. Makes me sad, but better than having to cancel while I am there. Hopefully, 2020 will see me back in full swing.)

It’s not helped that work has been insane. After a typical grueling quarter end that left no time for trying to prep, we’re now in July close.  This is the first month everything was done in BOLO, so a ton of changes to pre-existing data so it maps to the new structure had to be done. BOLO is something of a prima donna and tends to do whatever it wants. Has made for some late nights.

The old saying totally applies: When it rains, it pours. 😛

Mini Movie Review

Fast and Furious: Hobbs and Shaw

Fast and Furious: Hobbs & Shaw – This film was a lot of fun. It has tons of action, super cool effects, and even emotional issues the characters need to working through. The whole frenemies relationship between Hobbs and Shaw was amusing. They even threw some twists into that which worked very well. Stunts are over the top, which is an F&F staple, but nothing so glaring it pulls you from the story. My only nitpick was when the good guys seem to forget all about the scientist guy. But overall, this was a fun ride! (Three extra clips during the credits! So wait to the very end!) Rating: 3.75 out of 4 (Hubby’s rating: Worth Full Price to See Again)

 

Tales of Berseria

Tales of Berseria - flower field

Is this an idyllic spot or what? That sky is gorgeous!

Tales of Berseria - dungeon hallway

Inside an ancient temple. (If I remember correctly.) The blue things are monsters waiting to drop on you as you walk past. 

Tales of Berseria - inside the church

A main hallway in the Exorcists’ HQ.

Tales of Berseria - Group photo

Group photo! We’re still missing one member of the group at this stage. How she joins and what she’s supposed to be doing comes later. 😛

Tales of Berseria - magic barrier seal

A magic barrier to keep people out of this particular temple. Didn’t stop the group for long. 😛

Tales of Berseria - giant temple

The temple we’re trying to break into. The seal is so large, you can see it from here!

Tales of Berseria - inside the Earth pulse

Inside the Earth Pulse. Power zones somewhat like ley lines. 

Tale of Berseria - jungle temple

Once we escape from the Earth pulse, we ended up in another ancient temple. 

Tales of Berseria - outside the ancient temple

Area outside the temple. I got lost in this zone for a while. lol. 

Tales of Berseria - demon

A weaponsmith turned demon. Not a happy camper. 

Hope August is going a lot better for ya’ll than it has been for us! lol. 😛

 

 

Virtual Tourist Yakuza 0 7/21/19

Greetings! 

Yes, I dropped off the face of the planet again. Seems a rather common occurrence anymore. 🙁 While I am doing better than I have been, I am not 100%. Sundays have been elusive for some reason. The fact it’s quarter-end close and we’re doing it in two separate systems hasn’t helped! (There’s been loads of overtime the last couple of weeks.)

Conventions!

I will be going to my first convention this year in a couple of weeks! ArmadilloCon will soon be upon us!  Looking forward to it. 🙂

Promotions!

Smashwords is holding a July ebook special offer. Both Crossed-eyed Dragon Troubles and Inner Demons are on sale at 50% off! If you’ve been curious about my books, this might be the perfect time to try one of them out! 

 

Cross-eyed Dragon Troubles Inner Demons

 

Yakuza 0

Yakuza 0 - Maharaja

Street view of one of the main roads. The Maharaja dance club is across the street. A gaggle of schoolgirls as well. 

Yakuza 0 - Food Display

Tasty looking food display! Not all the businesses are actually there, but does make for some nice scenery. 🙂

Yakuza 0 - tacrics

This is Oda. He works for Tachibana Real Estate. He says he’s not a yakuza, but he sure knows a lot of their tactics! 😛 

Yakuza 0 - Interesting club front

Interesting club front. lol. 

Yakuza 0 - Darts

Kazuma takes all the mini games very seriously. Here’s his game face for playing darts! Brint it!

Yakuza 0 - Karaoke Bar

One of the toughest battlefields – a karaoke bar! (You either get to sing or cheer them on. Not for the weak! So hard! 

Yakuza 0 - Whiskey

This is the second Japanese game I’ve played where they educate the players about certain types of alcohol. Bizarre!

Yakuza 0 - Temple

When one of the game hints told me to seek out a rather unusual Shinto priest, this guy was NOT what I was expecting – white suit, clown face, and green bushy hair. He has free packages of goodies, which include costumes (not yet far enough to be able to see them or wear them). More important is the shrine itself. Doing certain things in the game gain you CP points. (Eating all the food at a restaurant, completing goals like walking 2 miles, etc.) You spend those points here. 

Yakuza 0 - Bob U

Close up of the biggest and oddest looking priest ever!

Yakuza 0 - Producer KazumaFashion change for a sub-story. This is what a producer of a film looks like. (When we meet the real guy, he’s wearing the exact outfit! lol)

That’s it for this week. Hopefully, we’ll get to go to the movies on Friday. This quarter-end has been brutal and since we’re going to the merged company’s BOLO system 100% for Aug, close for that should be insane. Ugh….

Have a great week!

Obachaan – OBA Funk Osaka

I haven’t talked about one of my weird coincidence episodes in a while. This one was too crazy/weird not to share.

For the last few weeks, hubby and I have been playing a game called Yakuza 0. It’s set in 1988 and has chapters in two cities which are a combination of multiple real Japanese cities. 

Just last week, we ran into a sub-story set in the city of Sotenboro for the character Goro. It was about a granny cutting in line in front of him, and when he complains she turns the tables on him and gets him in trouble. I’ve run into her three times. This is her:

Yakuza 0 - Obaachan

So imagine my surprise when I’m trolling about in Facebook and was looking at posts in the A-kon Group when I ran across this:

A group of older ladies rapping and looking just like the one in the game. She even gave me candy. ROFL!!!!

Hilarious!