Sideshow Statue: Batman vs. Superman

Let’s be serious for a minute. Batman is, far and away, my favorite super hero. I loved the comics, I loved the animated TV shows, I manged to cobble together some love for a few of the movie franchises. Recently Dawn of Justice pitted the Word’s Greatest Detective against the Sun-Powered Boy Scout. Say what you want about the movie, but I felt like they finally nailed the costume. This is the kind of costume that a picture doesn’t do any justice. Owning a picture of this would be an embarrassment. In cases like these you need a lifelike statue to showcase this level of excellence (I’m not sure if I know how to be serious). And so I present to you, Batman:

If you decide to get one use this link and I can get some referral points: Magical Buy a Batman Statue Link
I have no illusions that anyone will click through this link and buy this guy, but nothing ventured, nothing gained. It’s seriously a great figure.

Sideshow: Millennium Falcon, Liberty and Justice for All.

It’s been awhile since I’ve gotten any pop art (like… weeks). For some reason Sideshow Collectibles has appeared on my radar quite a few times in the last couple of months and I admit to spending a fair amount of time browsing their product offerings.

In December two things really hooked me and I placed preorders for both. The first was  “Liberty & Justice: Trinity,” a limited edition print by Alex Ross. I am a super hero sucker and Alex easily makes my top five favorite artist list. The second item was a diecast Millennium Falcon by EFX. I had been mulling over the idea of buying a vintage Kenner toy but the 19″ Falcon from EFX filled the position nicely.

Both collectibles are fantastic and I made a quick overview of them:

My first two ordering experiences with Sideshow went fairly well. They take a down payment (non-refunable) and they are good about letting you know when the balance will be changed and when the pre-order is expected to ship. They also offer a reward program for customers which gives you  about 5% back (although it take a month for the rewards to become available… c’mon, I got stuff to buy!). I imagine I’ll be a regular customer as they have quite a few items I’ve got my eye on (I’m looking at you, Optimus).

Movies Watched in 2017

2017 has ended. Here are all the movies that I have watched in 2017 (these had to be fairly current movies from this year or late last year to make the list). Newest movies are at the top. My goal this year was 40 movies, half in a theater. 
Results: 64 Movies total, 24 in theaters! This coming year I’m going to get a Movie Pass and shoot for the stars! 

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle [Theater] 8/10 – I thought this was a ton of fun. Loved the cast and story.

Coco [Theater] 8.5/10 – Fantastic movie! Loved everything about it. Great acting, plot (albeit with a predictable but appreciated twist) and imagery.

Disaster Artist [Theater] 7/10 – I guess when you have a weird dream and you’re a little crazy you can make part of the dream come true.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi [Theater], 8/10 – I’ll admit that I thought there were some weird parts. But the way the built up tension was pretty wild. Good cast, interesting story, sufficiently conflicted characters and pretty great visuals made for a very watchable movie. Not your Dad’s Star Wars.

Justice League [Theater] 7/10 – This got blasted by critics but I thought it was fun. I actually enjoy the contrived fights between the good guys (here, Superman vs. everyone). I don’t really understand how they came up with Steppenwolf to be the main villain… but sure. Why not.

The Shack, 8/10 – Blasted by critics and it’s easy to see why. Who wants to see a movie that does an excellent job of showing how God can be good and love his children while simultaneously allowing bad things to happen to them? A perspective altering journey.

Pirates of the Cariben: Dead Men Tell No Tales 7.5/10 – I thought they downgraded the coolness of Jack Sparrow a bit, but Captain Salazar was as good as the bad come.

47 Meters Down 7/10 – Unbelievable, but riveting. A great movie to work out to.

The Great Wall 6/10 – I just pretended the attacking monsters were Huns.

It ([Theater] 8.5/10 – Heck yes! Goonies for adults. The kids were fantastic actors and the movie pacing was spot on.

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword 8/10 – I thought this was a pretty epic movie. Solid story, effects, etc. It’s not the King Arthur I grew up with but it was good.

The Circle – I didn’t even finish the movie (it expired and I didn’t re-rent it). No rating but it was less than engaging.

Baywatch 7/10 – Ridiculous. Fun.

Going In Style 6.5/10 – An elderly heist movie? Eh…

War for the Planet of the Apes [Theater] 7/10 – A solid entry. Parts of it reminded me a little of home alone (i.e. an overly silly escape sequence).

Dunkirk 7/10 [Theater] – Not my favorite Nolan movie.  Well made and certainly moving at times but I’m just not a war-movie kinda guy.

Boss Baby – Better than I expected. Family values over corporate greed.

Allied, 7.5/10 – This is a very solid spy thriller / love story. Liked everything but the end.

Fate of the Furious 6/10 – Wow. What a mess. I literally had no idea what I was even watching at some points. This franchise’s ability to commandeer the absurd has no equal (with the possible exception of the new Transformers movies. Still, a ton of fantastic action.

Patriot’s Day 7/10 – Solid action movie about the Boston Marathon bombing. Seemed like it tried to stay true to the actual events.

The Belko Experiment 5/10 – Pretty lame. Stupified version of the Hunger Games in an office setting.

Bleed For This 7/10 – Somewhat hyped up biography of Vinny Pazienza. Good as far as boxing movies go.

The Mummy 6/10 [Theater] – Everyone wants their own extended cinematic universe of some kind. This is a mess of a start. Tom Cruise need to up his energy level. He’s just not intense enough…

Spider Man: Homecoming 9/10 [Theater] – I’m not a huge Spider Man fan but this movie was exceptional. The Marvel Universe just continues to blow me away.

Lion, 9/10 – I cried so hard I had to step out of the room. Adoption has always been a topic close to my heart. Lion tells the story of five year old Saroo who is separated from his family and eventually adopted by an Australian couple. Childhood memories and guilt compel him to search out his biological family. Possibly my favorite movie that I’ve seen this year.

Life, 6.5/10 – Sort of like Alien but less engaging. On the surface it does everything right, but it’s just okay.

Cars 3, 7/10 [Theater] – I liked this movie, although in some ways it felt like it should have gone right to DVD. It’s predictable but loveable.

John Wick 2, 7/10 – Good solid action flick. It’s weird to me that everyone knows they should never mess with John Wick, but they keep doing it.

Transformers: The Last Knight, 6/10 [Theater] – It’s like no one cares and they don’t even try. Still a visual smorgasbord but with a totally incomprehensible narrative.

Wonder Woman, 8/10 [Theater] – Really good! DC’s best super hero movie to date.

NOTE: I’m going to stop putting in the ticket images. It takes too much time and with the QR code system sometimes I don’t even have anything to include these days. 

Little Boy,  7.5 – Although it’s from 2015 we chose to watch this on Memorial Day hoping the kids could see how difficult would have been to see a father go off to war. It’s emotionally manipulative, but I felt like it was needed and the movie is paced well and the acting is solid.

Collateral Beauty,  7.5 – Touching. I did not see the plot twist at the end. I think there is collateral beauty all around us but being finding it takes an emotional maturity I doubt I have at this point.

Alien: Covenant,  7 [Theater] – I liked most of it, but I just don’t understand why spaceship crews in the Alien movies have to be so stupid. There were dozens of ways that everything that went wrong in the movie could have (should have) been prevented.

Get Out, 8.5 – A very smart mystery thriller. I will freely admit that I  didn’t guess what was going to happen.

Monster Trucks, 7 – Cute movie- really more for kids. Boy meets monster, boy befriend’s monster, adventure ensues.

A Dog’s Purpose, 8 – Really liked this. I think it’s too bad that critics decided to lambaste the entire movie. Great message, enjoyable storyline and solid acting.

Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 2, 8.5 – Loved it. I don’t think it’s as good as the original, but I don’t know how it could be. James Gunn really has a knack for making this kind of fun work.

La La Land, 7 – Very enjoyable. Not all actors are singers, but that’s okay. The ending is hard to take but sometimes there are two dreams and they simply can’t co-exist.

The Founder, 8 – Spectacular in man ways. I really relate to Ray’s ambition but not his ruthlessness. Well crafted, well acted and powerful.

Girl on the Train, 7.5 – Pretty good mystery thriller. Reminded me of what lies beneath.

Hidden Figures, 8 – Inspiring. I’m not a huge fan of the way history is embellished to make certain points even if it does make a more emotionally satisfying journey.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, 7.5 – Much better than I was expecting. It’s nice how they try and retain continuity throughout the HPU.

Ghost in the Shell, 6.5 – Certain visual elements are very loyal to the original Anime and that was appreciated. Casting was a strange choice (especially given that the Major was Japanese before her… transition). The original was also much more subtle whereas the new movie sort of yells “Are you still human with only your brain in a robotic body??!!” Still a fun watch.

Beauty and the Beast, 8.5 – Great remake. I thought the “gay” controversy was blown way out of proportion (nothing is this movie is inappropriate). They kept the great elemts from the original cartoon and still manged to make this movie exceptional on its own terms.

Before I fall, 7 – Sort of a modern Groundhog Day. Certainly more current, visceral. These kinds of movies always make me think about our limited perspective.

Assassin’s Creed, 6 – Sort of a cool mess.

Kong: Skull Island, 7 – Ultimately forgettable, but thrilling to watch.

Logan, 7 – Intense but disappointing in many way. It’s sad to watch a hero deteriorate.

Queen of Katwe, 8.5 –  Based on the true story of Phiona Mutesi and the game of Chess. Fantastic acting and absolutely recommended (I’m a sucker for a good Chess movie though).

Masterminds, 7 – Better than I thought it would be. Lots of funny moments moments mixed with lots of not funny moments.

The Light Between Oceans, 7.5/10 – Absolutely heart wrenching. Just when you think it can’t get more emotionally distressing they find a way to take to the next level. Despite it’s excellence, it’s almost too sad to recommend.

Lego Batman, 8 – “Puter!”

Arrival, 8.5 – Wow! What a great story. Great science fiction with a super twist.

Inferno, 6.5 – I’m not sure I even understand this series anymore. At lest they stopped the virus.

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, 7/10 – Not a bad effort but Tom Cruise is starting to show his age a bit (it’s fine- he has to age).

Split, 7/10 – Intense and disturbing. Somehow I failed to understand the twist and the movie progressed almost exactly as I expected (perhaps a testament to my deranged thinking?).

Keeping up with the Joneses, 6 – Mr. and Mrs. Smith minus anything that made that movie enjoyable. Some funny moments but, for the most part, a solid dud.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, 6.5  – A Peculiar movie with some confusing undertones.

Pete’s Dragon, 6 – Fairly painful remake.

The Accountant, 7 – Enjoyable with a nice twist at the end.

Storks, 6.5, – Cute, but I found Andy Samburg as annoying as ever.

Ben-Hur, 6/10 – Unfortunately this movie fails to excite in the way the original did. However, I liked that the new version was less about revenge in the end- that was a nice touch.

Sully, 8/10 – Slow paced, but thoughtful.

Deepwater Horizon, 7.5/10 – This is an intense & often gut wrenching movie.

Passengers, 8/10 – This movie got blasted by critics but I thought it was a pretty good sci-fi story with some interesting philosophical questions.

Magnificent 7, 7/10 – A solid remake, however not magnificent.

The Lego Millennium Falcon (The Big One… Finally).

I truly hate to be the bearer of bad puns but… My ship has come in!

That’s right kids! 7541 pieces of Lego goodness. 

I have been trying to get my hands on the new Lego Millennium Falcon since they launched in September (I was actually in Disneyland the day the were available for preorder). Long story short: no dice. I kept my feelers out hoping to run across one, and I even had a special place on top of a shelf reserved should I find one. However, as Christmas approached things began to look hopeless.

But then I ran across an ad on KSL. Falcon for sale at cost. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Even though I was half certain I was going to be robbed and beaten I reached out and, thankfully, the deal went down and Christmas was saved (for both the buyer and seller- but I’ll spare you the gory details).

Epilogue: There is now a Lego Millennium sitting happily on top of my shelf. Eventually I will have the courage to start building it with my kids.

The Hughes’ Hues (And Other Bad Bulb Puns) – Philips Hue

I’ve done it! I’ve embraced new technology that someone else didn’t convince me I needed. I wasn’t badgered by an ad, accosted by solicitations or even gently harassed. I just woke up one day and decided that there must be a better way. And there was. This is my story:

I’m really just a guy who didn’t want to put up Christmas lights on my house. They have blown off for two consecutive years. The installers damage our gutters, shingles and often the lights themselves. I  didn’t want to deal with the hassles again. But I didn’t want to be a complete Christmas looser either. I had planned to get some colored bulbs and pop them into my eve lights. But then I remembered that there were some cool wifi lightbulbs that changed color. A quick Google search later and I was pretty sure my adventure would start with a box of Philips Hue Lights.

Installation info: Really straight forward. Plug your bridge (this links with your lights) into your router. Install the bulbs, make sure the power is on, download the Hue app. Link with your bridge. Search for the bulbs (app setup). Sometimes you need to enter in the bulb’s serial number for the Hue app to find it. Then start changing colors!

After the novelty wears off you’ll want to set up some rooms and then you can link bulbs to those rooms. You can adjust bulbs individually or all together. You can also apply filters called ‘scenes” and set up your own color pattern and save it as a scene.

Other features include timers and routines allowing you some basic automation tools. At some point you can start to play with Hue Labs were you’ll discover your lights can do just about anything you want. “Dance for me! Dance!”

So bottom line? I Feel good about my decision to do the absolute minimum to elevate myself above the Christmas grumps like Scrooge and the Grinch. The lights work well and they are a ton of fun to play with. I can’t wait to change the colors to pink for Valentine’s Day, Green on St. Patrick’s Day, Pastel colors for Easter, and any other obnoxious things I can think of 😀

10 Years of Blogging!!

I have been blogging since Oct of 2007. I’ve officially made it 10 years (with some interruptions here and there). Feel free to send me your Paypal thanks for the countless hours of entertainment I have no doubt provided over the years (whether on purpose or by accident, “Haha, this guy thinks people care about thermostats!”). Don’t worry though- I plan to continue blogging no matter what. Rest easy, everyone.

Fun Blog Facts:

Total posts written: Over 530

Most post written in one month: 16 (June, 2017). Other months may show more than this but that’s because I merged 5 blogs together sometime in 2010.

Spam Comments: 6,889

Average “Active Visitors” per month: 400-500 per Google analytics (2017)

Is my blog monitized? No.

Why do I do it? I am a compulsive chronicling addict.


Fit Bit Ionic – Overview

First I want to have a moment of silence for my old fit bit. It served me well for about a year and then slowly but surly began to fall apart. Using various adhesives I was able to hold it together for a few weeks until my new ionic arrived. Thanks little fit bit buddy- you did good.

The new fitbit ionic is such a tremendous step up I’m not even sure where to start. First impressions were really positive (and impression have remained positive). Here’s anunboxing and a wrist shot:

Setup took a long time but it was pretty painless; the watch updated and was configured within an hour and there were no unexpected issues.

Here are some quick thoughts on the ionic:

Comfort: Wow. New band is exceptional- love the way the updated clasp works. Light and unobtrusive.

Appearance: Very classy. Nice large face (I don’t like small watches). A bit boxy in appearance. Beautiful color screen (my pictures don’t really do it much justice).

Functions: Typical stuff like timers, steps heart rate, etc. Meditation app, coach and the ability to load your music on are nice extras. Built in GPS is exciting. Also, the ability to swim in the ionic could come in very handy. Nice to read texts / notification on my watch (although the vibrating is tinny and annoying).

One other annyance: You can set the ionic to show you messages receive on your phone. Texts are fine but when there’s a reminder alarm the ionic let’s you know… over and over and over. You can to disable it on the phone side.

Accuracy: The GPS matches my Runkeeper app quite well. Gets walks / runs without GPS incorrect (and the editing feature is not working). Auto logging cuts off a significant amount of, foe example, a walk. Hear rate monitor accuracy seems to be better.

A very solid offering from fitbit! I’m quite happy with the watch so far and I’m excitied to see how it works and wears as time goes on. The fitbit app remains the same and I find it to be one of the most comprehensive heath apps available.

Score: 8/10

10/15/2017 Update: I just realized the other day that I was sent the wrong color watch. I’d ordered the black / grey but I was sent a blue / grey. However I think that ended up being a good mistake; I really like the color of my watch.

Also, one thing about this ionic really bugs me. If you have the “Notifications: Receive notifications from phone” set to “on” you can see text messages displayed on the watch’s screen which is great. You also get notifications from alerts (i.e. calendar events) sent to you phone… and they keep coming. The watch will continue to vibrate until you actually look at the notification on your phone. I don’t know if that’s the way it’s designed but it’s very irritating.

DuckTales Art (Mike Peraza) and Cartoon Series Reboot!

If you know me then you might know I like to bring back “art” when I travel (just to be clear I don’t travel a lot). In California Adventure’s Off the Page I found this little beauty by Mike Peraza (I collect Disney art). It’s a cool clash of old and new as characters from the original Ducktales series run into their contemporary counterparts. I definitely wanted the picture but decided I’d come back for it the next day. In the meantime I looked online to see if I could get it there (and possibly save a few minutes by having it shipped to me). Curse me Kilts! Someone was selling it on eBay but the price was $699. They had cleverly cut off the bottom of the price tag, however I had taken a picture of it earlier: $195.

Left: My picture. Center: eBay listing. Right Top: eBay picture of the tag. Right Bottom: My picture of the tag.

Yes, some dude with a season pass was taking pictures of Disney merchandise, listing them on eBay and making a tidy profit! Clever. I gave the guy some begrudging respect and then went back to Off the Page to make my purchase (well, rushed back is more like it). The girl helping me mentioned that she had sold another just a few hours before and that the one I was buying was their last one. Disney knows how to make suckers buying their loot feel sooo good (although it took her 20 minutes to ring me up and pack up the art). This is a limited run of 95 canvas prints. 

Also a plug for the new Ducktales: you can watch the first episode on Youtube. The voices take some getting used to but I thought it was an excellent reboot!