Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Monthly Update - March 2015


1. No cancer. Well, the CT Scan and CEA markers came back clean. Next scan isn't until September. This is looking a lot more likely. I'll be taking this one off the count until September. No news is good news, in this case.

2. Read books. Slowed down a bit, but that still puts me at 10 books for the year so far. 12 books is gonna be a breeze, hope to hit a lot more than that:
  • The Martin by Andy Weir
  • Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
3. Watch all the TV & movies I have saved. Haven't watched anything this month. But also haven't bought anything new. I watched a ton of TV, as noted below.

4. Buy no more than six videogames this year. I got three new games as part of Playstation Plus *and* I couldn't resist the siren's call of Helldivers. Since that puts me at three new games, it may be that I get more than six games this year... but I did just get a new system, which usually has me buying more games.

5. 12 More Boardgames. This month, I played Lords of Waterdeep and X-COM for the first time. Also played Carcassonne Winter Edition. So that's two new games for this month, for a total of 9 this year so far. (Although I already counted the digital Waterdeep last year, so I'm kinda cheating)

6. Get below 190 lbs. Last month was 204. This month I ate a lot during STAPLE! week, did not start my intended exercise routine, and still wound up around 202. So... yay?

7. Travel - Took a quick trip down to San Antonio so my daughter could enter the regional science fair. Disney World looms for June. Really wish I could have worked Emerald City Con into the mix, I think I have to do that next year.

8. Eat! - Not a resolution, but so far on my list of "places I want to eat in 2015" I've hit six, and that just leaves 5 on the list: Perry's Steakhouse, Hopdoddy, Estancia Churrascaria, Sawyer & Co. and Texas Chili Parlor. I've also added a couple more places I want to try, both already open (Porter Gastropub and Barlata) and coming soon (Shake Shack in The Domain, Twisted Root Burgers on Burnet, Voodoo Donuts on 6th in June).

9. Cook! - Fell off a little bit due to STAPLE! and various other busy times, but did make Brussels Sprouts again, pretty off the cuff, so I feel like I'm comfortable with that recipe. I also learned a new recipe, a relatively easy Baked Chicken Alfredo Ziti that was pretty good. Also made the chicken and mushrooms recipe again, which I feel like I've got down. I also made chicken fried steak, but the steak needed to be thawed and wasn't perfect, and I totally botched the gravy by accidentally dumping in salt. However, on third attempt, I finally got it all pretty much right, and used some tenderized center cut sirloins from HEB, which will be my go-to from here on in. Also fired up the grill for the first time this years to cook some burgers and salmon. I've already planned my menu for the first two weeks of April, so I should be doing more cooking then.

10. NaNoWriMo - I'm set up the site. I've also started a few outlines for characters and general plot/chapter ideas.


Best Week of Comics This Month:
March 11th (Amazing Spider-Man, Ant-Man, Hellbreak, Howard the Duck, Ms. Marvel, Southern Cross, Spider-Gwen, Spider-Man 2099, Star Wars, Superior Iron Man)

Top Five Favorite Comics This Month:
  1. Howard the Duck #1
  2. Ms. Marvel #13
  3. Saga #26
  4. Spider-Gwen #2
  5. Spider-Woman #5
Comics I Read This Month:
  • Alex + Ada #13
  • Amazing Spider-Man #16
  • Amazing Spider-Man #16.1
  • Ant-Man #3
  • Batgirl #40
  • Big Man Plans #1
  • Bill & Ted's Most Triumphant Return #1
  • Chew #47
  • Chrononauts #1
  • Daredevil #14
  • Darth Vader #3
  • Descender #1
  • Empty #2
  • Frankenstein Underground #1
  • Giant Days #1
  • Grayson #8
  • Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. #4
  • Hellbreak #1
  • Howard the Duck #1
  • Jem & the Holograms #1
  • Ms. Marvel #13
  • Nailbiter Hack/Slash
  • Princess Leia #1
  • Princess Leia #2
  • Rat Queens #9
  • Saga #26
  • Silk #2
  • Southern Cross #1
  • Spider-Gwen #2
  • Spider-Man 2099 #10
  • Spider-Woman #5
  • Star Wars #3
  • Storm #9
  • Superior Iron Man #6
  • The Punisher #16
  • Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #3
  • Wayward #6
Favorite Comic Panels This Month:
Graphic Novels I Read This Month

  • Grendel Omnibus Vol 4
  • Astro City Private Lives HC
  • Lazarus Vol 3 TP
  • Bucko HC
  • Sexcastle TP
  • Superior Spider-Man Vol 3 HC
  • She-Hulk Vol 2 TP
  • Big Hard Sex Criminals HC
  • Wayward Vol 1 TP
  • The Private Eye (Digital)

TV I Watched This Month:
This is mostly for me so I can keep better track of favorite moments, best and worst episodes and do a little less homework in prepping for my "Best of the Year" list next year.
  • Last Man on Earth "Alive in Tucson/Elephant in the Room" (A difficult premise that works because of the inventive, anarchic energy of Lord & Miller and the fantastic performances of Forte and Schaal) "Raisin Balls & Wedding Bells" (A weaker second episode, although still funny, with a great if predictable twist) "Sweet Melissa" (I haven't loved this show as much since the first episode, but I still like it quite a bit) "Dunk the Skunk/Some Friggin' Fat Guy" (Each episode is falling off a bit for me, and they've made Phil way too unlikable. I still haven't figured out what the status quo of the show is, and it's not consistently funny.) "She Drives Me Crazy/Moovin" (Aside from Todd, I'm growing to hate every character... and I'm sure at this rate they'll find a way to make me hate Todd too. Got fifteen minutes into Moovin and finally gave up. There are only so many "Phil is a giant douche" stories I can take)
  • Togetherness "Party Time" (Mary Steenburgen is great here in a totally different way than how she's great on Justified. I like how real everyone is about their emotions on this show, and I like that it has a mellow, emotional vibe combined with laugh-out-loud funny moments) "Not So Together" (It feels like this show was just ramping up, it's too early to be over, and this was a heart-breaking place to leave it. So good... I want more... NOW.)
  • Rebels "Fire Across the Galaxy" (This show has been getting better and better, and the season finale brought some familiar and welcome faces, featured an awesome infiltration sequence and lightsaber fight and started bridging the gap between the Clone Wars era and the classic Star Wars era. Loved it.)
  • Better Call Saul "Little Alpine Boy" (The stuff with Jimmy and his brother was fascinating, the opening sequence of Jimmy finding clients was great, but the real gold was finally starting to see a little more of Mike's backstory) "Five-O" (Finally, we get Mike's backstory, and it's every bit what I wanted out of it) "Bingo" (After the heavy Mike episode, this could have been a disappointment, but the tangled web of the Kettlemans was fascinating and twisty, and carried emotional weight... and that music scene with Mike was killer) "RICO" (Wow. The elder law thing seemed like a gag, but it pivots to become an extremely important story for Saul and his brother's relationship, and the ramifications from "Five-O" continue to resonate as well.) "Pimento" (Mike vs.the militia douche was a killer scene, as was Mike meeting Ignacio, It's a testament to how compelling the Jimmy and Chuck scenes were that I don't just wish this was a Mike show.)
  • Walking Dead "Remember" (After a rough start to season 5.2, I'm starting to warm to this again. The Alexandria story in the comics was somewhat frustrating, so I hope they avoid the same pitfalls, but so far, it's an interesting new status quo for the show) "Forget" (The badasses out in the world are scary monsters in Alexandria... I like that it's not what we've seen before, and Carol's little speech was scary as hell and horrifying) "Spend" (Finally back to where it had been for me, there were a ton of great scenes, and great use of zombies, here. Some really gory disturbing scenes, too. Mind you, I'm not thrilled that they're killing all their interesting characters. And in a way, I hate Gabriel more than I ever hated the Governor... at least the Governor stood for something besides his own self-interest.) "Try" (There's a lot I like here, and a lot of characters acting kinda dumb for dramatic purposes. But it's intense and interesting, so I'll give it a pass for the dumber stuff) "Wolves" (Took a while for season 5.2 to grab me, but I really enjoyed the finale. Lots of good character turns, *love* Morgan as a sort of wandering post-apocalyptic monk, and the Wolves are scary adversaries so far that are very different from what we've seen from the Governor or Terminus.)
  • Justified "The Hunt" (Did a good job of showing what happens when a dangerous fugitive is on the hunt and Raylan isn't involved, was a welcome return of Natalie Zea and had more great tension between Ava and Boyd. Plus that scene with Markham and Art.) "Dark As a Dungeon" (Watching Art with Catherine reminds me how much I like Nick Searcy on this show, and Raylan and Boyd going at each other is always great TV) "Burned" (Wynn Duffy, snitch is yet another great turn for that character, Mary Steenburgen had a really badass moment with that gun, and that Markham party was a thing of beauty) "Trust" (I wish we could have had Sam Elliott in this show seasons ago, he's such a great bad guy. Also his scary new henchman has a great scene here. And that ending... did not see that coming.) "Fugitive Number One" (The scene that'll stay with me is the Mikey/Catherine scene, but there was a lot of great stuff here, including Raylan facing off with Boone and his face-off with the corrupt Sheriffs, as well as Boyd's escape. Brutal, ugly, amazing stuff that really feels like it's ramping up to the finale.)
  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia "The Gang Goes on Family Fight" (They keep finding great situations to put the Reynolds into, and this was another... the use of Keegan Michael Key as the host was a great bonus) "Frank Retires" (Stupid Mac is best Mac, the gang trying to scheme against one another is hilarious, the attempts to steal Frank's blood were uncomfortably hilarious, as were Mac's continuing blood oath cuts) "Ass-Kickers United: Mac and Charlie Join A Cult" (What a gloriously insane episode in a terrific season of TV)
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. "Aftershocks" (I'm wary of the Inhumans on this show, but the takedown of Hydra was surprisingly dark and very well done) "Who You Really Are" (I'm already missing Tripp, and putting the focus back on the less interesting members of the team isn't doing the show any favors. Having the Kree and Sif in an episode should have been really cool, but things are moving at a slower pace, it's time to get to the revelations because the mysteries they're building are feeling a lot like the "why is Coulson alive" plot that was such a non-starter) "One of Us" (Weirdly, the Skye stuff was the best stuff this episode... the super-villain team was kinda low-rent, the Inhumans stuff feels tonally wrong for the show and introducing another secret faction of SHIELD is disappointing, at best) "Love in the Time of Hydra" (They're flailing again. It's not as bad as season one, but the best parts of this episode were the parts with Agent 33 and Ward as a spy Bonnie and Clyde, and even those were melodramatic and borderline goofy. The SHIELD vs. SHIELD plot has never been interesting in the comics, and it's not interesting here. And the takedown of Hydra may have been a huge mistake, as it left them without an interesting nemesis, forcing the creation of this artificial anti-SHIELD.)
  • Broad City "Kirk Steele" (A weaker episode, but great use of Trey and guest-star Amy Ryan as a clueless rich woman) "Coat Check" (Kelly Ripa, wild woman, was a lot of fun, and it was weird seeing Alia Shawkat grown up, but that was a fun B-story as well) "St. Mark's" (Maybe the best episode the show has ever done, a night on the streets of New York with Abbi and Ilana)
  • American Crime "Episode One" (Strong cast, nice music and cinematography, reminds me of what I liked about The Killing so far) "Episode Two" (It's a bit screechy and preachy at times, and Felicity Huffman is playing a really shrill, hateful character, but it's an amazing cast, looks beautiful and is very engaging. And the actress playing Aubry is fantastic, probably the best part of the show.) "Episode Three" (Again, engaging, beautiful, great actors... but this seems to be about showing every single character at their worst, and it's wearisome at times)
  • Archer "Pocket Listing" (The episode itself was just OK, although the dart gun was a great running gag... but what it means for Archer and Lana is promising) "Reignition Sequence" (Seeing Lana and Archer together is entertaining, as was the return of Katya... and anything that pits the "pit crew" of formerly ISIS against their two lead agents) "Achub y Morfilod" (Guest-starring Matthew Rhys, the Irish terrorist/MI 5 plot was funny, and the Ray's hand runner also had its moments... but the stingers to both stories at the end were both laugh out loud funny)
  • Powers "Episode One" (Pretty terrible... comes off a little low-budget and doesn't have the kick that the Powers comics did when they came out a couple decades ago)
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine "Captain Peralta" (Bradley Whitford guest-starring, and still this was a weaker episode... couple funny moments, but not one of their best) "The Boyle-Linetti Wedding" (Strongest episode in a while, great moments between Jake and Amy, Holt's speech was sweet and well done)
  • Man Seeking Woman "Branzino" (Dating as college entrance letters, Late Night with Mom, Mike as active and interfering dog... this was a great episode) "Teacup" (Fun role reversal, seeing that Josh's sister is just as narcissistic as he is in many ways actually made me like the show more... it's not misogynist, it's misanthropic, and I can totally get behind that) "Scepter" (Possibly the best episode of the series; Trackanon, time travel, the last viable woman to date in a mountain expedition, so much good stuff)
  • Bob's Burgers "L'il Hard Dad" (Remote control helicopter warfare... it remains weird, but it's not cracking me up as much. DVR deleted an episode and I didn't much care.) "Adventures in Chinchilla-Sitting" (Much stronger episode, with the date night at trivia and the kids seeking out a lost chincilla. Strong A- and B- stories, and a funny C- runner with Teddy driving around) "Runway Club" (Breakfast Club + Project Runway = Fun episode. The B-story with a magazine scam was less interesting, but overall, pretty good)
  • Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (All 13 episodes)
  • The Flash "Out of Time" (Wow. So many reveals, all coming at once, so many good action sequences... one of the best episodes of the show) "Rogue Time" (Walks back a lot of the last episode, but in an interesting way. There are some groaners, including Golden Glider's gun, which works better in comics than in comic-based TV, and I'm not sure I'm cool with Flash basically letting the Rogues operate in his town because of blackmail, but... I also liked seeing the characters get to similar places through different means re: Wells.)
  • Arrow "The Offer" (Maybe it's because the twists and CW drama are becoming predictable, or maybe it's because Flash is so much less a compromised version of DC's characters, but while Arrow is still good, it's fallen quite a bit in my estimation in this season. Good action... weak character arcs) "Suicidal Tendencies" (The Suicide Squad stuff was pretty great... the stuff with Arrow/Atom and the city is beyond stupid.)
  • Community "Ladders" (Lesser Community is still pretty good TV. The show has lost too much to feel like itself anymore, but it's still better than most comedies left on network TV) "Lawnmower Man" (Great casting this season, the dean's VR adventures were pretty hilarious and Britta's family was unexplored territory that worked) "Basic Crisis Decorum" (This show feels weird, even for Community, but I thought this was the best episode of season six so far. The Japanese Dean texting was a really funny runner, Paget Brewster has fit into the cast really well and the crisis involving a dog getting a degree skirts too wacky but mostly works. OTOH, they still don't know what to do with Britta or Chang, which is kind of a problem.)
  • iZombie "Pilot" (Bears no resemblance to the comic, but that's OK because it's great. The vibe and style of Veronica Mars with a completely different premise, fun and clever and entertaining) "Brother, Can You Spare A Brain?" (David Anders is great, and Liv's venture into the art world made for a good, light plot of the week)
  • The Americans "Baggage" (That was a creepy and fantastic opener. The other stories are in their early going, but I know from experience they'll pay off down the line.) "Open House" (This show's old school tradecraft, here notably in the extended tail sequence with the CIA and Elizabeth's car, is some of my favorite stuff.) "Dimebag" (Man, this show does not glamorize spying... Phillip recruiting a teenage girl, Nina working for the KGB inside the prison... creepy. And the stuff with Paige and her family and Stan and his ex is fantastic) "Salang Pass" (Phillip and Kimmie continues to be creepy and heart-breaking, and I'm liking the Stan/Oleg/defector story too... and that flashback to Phillip's training was super effective) "Born Again" (Martin Landau as Gabriel is great and there's a nice undercurrent of sinister in his interactions with Phillip and Elizabeth... and the interactions with Phillip and Kimmie and Elizabeth and Paige continue to be riveting) "Walter Taffet" (Starting to suspect the new agent has an agenda, some kind of internal affairs or something, based on these scenes. That big scene with the bug and Martha's reaction was a memorable one. As was the Martha/Clark scene later. And that final action sequence. Great episode) "Divestment" (Last time I saw that tire fire thing, it was on The Shield... this was more distressing and effective. Also, are IA type guys always distant and weird in fiction? And I continue to find Nina's story engaging, even though she's disconnected from the main narrative.) "Do Mail Robots Dream of Electric Sheep?" (The Martha/Clark thing has become one of the most fascinating plots on the show in the last couple episodes. The scene with the old woman in the mail robot shop was heart-breaking. And that final scene with Phillip and Gabriel was fantastic.)
  • Bloodline "Part 1" (I like it a lot, and will definitely be watching more. However... I also felt like it was a 2-hour premiere, where in fact it was only an hour. I enjoyed it the whole time, but I also felt like I was always checking my watch, sure that it was going to end soon. I don't know if that's because they packed so much into the episode that it felt like two hours, or if it was the pacing that had me wondering when they were going to get on with the story.) "Part 2" (A few more clues, a little more deepening of characters, this is definitely drawing me in) "Part 3" (Throwing a lot of characters at me, and I feel a little lost occasionally... that plus all the timeline jumps are giving a good sense of foreboding, but I worry about it all unraveling or just plain forgetting what's going on by the time they get to the explanation)
Top Five Shows This Month:
  1. Better Call Saul
  2. Justified
  3. The Americans
  4. Broad City
  5. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
        Favorite Last Week with John Oliver Segments This Month:
          Favorite Daily Show Segments This Month:

          Movies I Watched This Month:

          • Big Hero 6
          • Robocop (2014)
          • Face/Off
          • It Follows

          Videogames I Played This Month:

          • The Swapper
          • Valiant Hearts: The Great War
          • CounterSpy
          • Helldivers

          Places I Ate This Month:
          • Jack Allen's Kitchen
          • Abel's North
          • Lucy's Fried Chicken
          • Hoover's
          • Michi Ramen
          • Baton Creole
          • Gordough's
          • Noble Sandwich (x2)
          • Peached Tortilla
          • Franklin Barbecue
          • French Quarter Grille
          • Juarez Mexican Bakery
          • PizzaRev (x2)
          • Sushi Nini (x2)
          • Chuy's
          • Garbo's Lobster
          • Kin & Comfort
          • Torchy's Tacos
          • Smashburger
          • Alamo Drafthouse (x2)