My Weekly Adventures #37

We’re a little behind schedule for this Weekly Adventures segments. I do want to make this an actual weekly segment but I feel like there’s just not enough material. I am working on how to work it out even if its just little goal updates. Anyways, enough about that. These last two weeks have been nothing short of crazy and yet, it doesn’t feel like there’s a whole lot to talk about. Valentine’s Marathon was a very tiny run of just five days with some pretty random choices. The only movie I wanted to watch but didn’t get to was Joe vs. The Volcano and I owe a double feature recommended in the last post when I announced the Valentine’s marathon. Things I need to get around to doing. Ultimate 90s Blogathon has also ended in receiving submissions and that will be starting on Monday (February 20th).

I’ll explain why things are falling a little behind, even the posts are being uploaded later than usual at random times.

Random Bug and Health Issues

I’m not going to go into too much detail and I’m just happy it didn’t knock me out for a long time. In short, there was one Saturday that a bug generally just hit me super hard, packed with chills and everything. I ended up spending most of that weekend lounging around the fireplace and sleeping. It was probably my body’s way to tell me to relax and sleep. I get hit by insomnia every once in a while and this is probably my body just forcing me to rest. Aside from that, there was something else with my ear which I’m scared might turn into an infection. Regardless, its still getting better. It does make talking or listening to anything super hard and its also been a cause of the sleep issues afterwards. Luckily, it is on the road to recovery, at least I hope so.

Enough of the bad stuff..let’s move on!

A New Class

Ridiculous as it all sounds when I’m talking about winding down and yet still being incredibly busy and not being able to do that, I accidentally signed up for an online course. Let me explain that I did buy this course as a Groupon deal a few months ago and was thinking about it and then I was just checking out to redeem it and I did it. So now, I’m doing a 4 week course with 8 live seminars stuck in the middle of the workday which I try to listen to and catch up in more detail on the weekend and finish up assignments. Either way, I’m hoping it’ll enlighten a few things on that I’ve been hoping to improve which can help Game Warp and Tranquil Dreams. It also brings up a whole lot of stuff that I’ve been planning to do but never actually finalizing.

 I’ve actually been in the learning mode this year and wanting to improve Photography, Video Editing and Spanish. Of course, its not going to happen all this year but hey, its nice to feel motivated to improve and upgrade my skill set.

Snowstorms

snowstorm

Other events going on is snow. Lots of snow this past few days. Well, by today’s standards. I think Sunday to Monday had about 25cm and then Tuesday, we had a bit more and Wednesday was when I took this picture in the morning. It stopped pretty quickly but still, quite a bit of snow compared to usual. I think I read somewhere it broke some record. It is nice to see nice fluffy snow and not the wet slush that turns into freezing rain and then raining. Its a tad odd to see people and their umbrellas in winter. Maybe its just me.

Random Buys

xbox-controller

Perhaps random but lets just say timing got the hold of me and it was time to upgrade to have a controller for the PC especially when there’s a game that I need to review but is more controller compatible. Other than that, I ended up grabbing two movies to help fill up orders to get free shipping (stupid logic perhaps) and they were Charade and The Raid 2. I rented Backcountry lately. We started Cardinal, a Canadian mini series that is awesome, which is good because I actually bought the whole series on Play store. The price of not having cable or even bunny ears and relying solely on Netflix and not wanting to miss out (which is a rare occasion to be honest).

In terms of games (which I’m putting a stop on myself after yesterday’s purchase), I’ve been shopping on Steam a bit and grabbed some nice deals. Murdered: Soul Suspect, Guacamelee: Super Turbo Championship Edition and right before February, I picked up The Bug Butcher and Four Sided Fantasy. Nothing super new but games that have peaked my interest. If you are into gaming and Twitch streams, Game Warp streams are set now to run on weekends. Early Sunday mornings (5am GMT) with Blood Bowl 2 with my awesome co-host Elwood and I usually run mine on Friday nights or Saturday mornings/afternoons with whatever games I feel like playing or its the games we’re featuring that month.

Probably I’ll do this once in a while and share the random stuff I buy outside of like hauls on Black Friday or trips or whatnot.

Cute Kitty Pic 

wp-1487357285473.jpg

wp-1487357356453.jpgThis Weekly Adventures has been a little lackluster with truly everyday events that I couldn’t help but to give you two cute kitty pics. Winter, snowstorms and cold weather makes my darling cat sleep even more so these are her two spots of choice: in front of the fireplace where it fully warms up her belly and curled up in blankets behind me on my husband’s office chair. My support system everybody, she’s into moral support. Sleeping away the hours for me.

Upcoming:

banner Ultimate 90’s Blogathon is running from February 20th into about early-mid March.
Expect to see TV Binge, Book reviews and Recipes during this time. Any of my own movie reviews (unless new releases) will resume after the blogathon.

Simple everyday life for the last two weeks & lots of behind the scenes things that I can’t really share because its just boring.
What have you been up to?

A Series of Unfortunate Events Collection: Books 4-6 by Lemony Snicket

I’ve been caught in between A Series of Unfortunate Events and Gilmore Girls, I know. Here we are with Books 4 to 6 done in the Lemony Snicket series. I’m going to take a little break from Lemony Snicket as the point of this was to catch up with where the series ended and I’ll have something special very soon for it. As for this one, we’re doing a short review of each book in this collection, just like the last post on books 1-3 (review here)

Without further ado, let’s check out these three books!

A Series of Unfortunate Events Collection: Books 4-6
by: Lemony Snicket

a series of unfortunate events collection

Summary of collection at Goodreads

Book 4: The Miserable Mill

After the unfortunate events in the The Wide Window, the children are sent to be under the care of the owner of Lucky Smells Lumbermill. Their new guardian, only referred to as Sir, sends them off to work, much against the will of his business partner who doesn’t really have much say, Charles. In Lucky Smells, Klaus is the most affected when his glasses are broken and sent to the optometrist, Dr. Orwell and comes back in a trance, only broken spontaneously. It doesn’t take them long to realize that he was hypnotized, while Violet and Sunny find a way to resolve this and happen to encounter Count Olaf in yet another disguise.

The Miserable Mill is one that took me a little longer to get invested in. It starts off with suspense as we watch the children get sent to work, even Sunny who can put use to her sharp teeth, of course. A little stretch of the imagination is how this series is intended. Skipping over that detail, we learn a little about hypnosis. Count Olaf’s disguise is ridiculous as he turns himself into a secretary. As always, the children attempt to save the day. Maybe a few limbs short and not a whole lot of innocent lives were taken in this one, which is a change of pace. There are whimsical characters here and the plot is rather intricate, somehow it lacks a certain pace to it. However, it still works well enough.

Book 5: The Austere Academy

After Sir takes them out of his care, the Baudelaire Orphans are sent off to boarding school, Prufrock Prep, run by a bad violin performing obsessed Vice Principal Nero. Before they even meet the useless VP Nero, they encounter the school bully, Carmelita Spats who calls them “Cakesniffers” (whatever that means). Prufrock Prep is a boarding school and they are discarded in the orphan house, run down and infested with dripping fungus and crawling crabs. The classes they are put in are with two teachers: one who loves to share her stories and one that loves to measure everything. Sunny doesn’t get to be in a class but rather sent to be an administrative assistant who has to make her own staples and staple paperwork all day. What helps is that they meet the Quagmire triplets who are only two right now and also had their family perish in a fire who help them invent and investigate.

Surprisingly, The Austere Academy is a pretty fun read. It is probably the one with a huge stretch of imagination but its also these very smart Baudelaire orphans are making use of Count Olaf’s stupidity and personality and hiding their suspicions until they feel like its the right moment. On top of that, now we also have the Quagmire triplets, Isadora and Duncan. Count Olaf’s disguise is a good one. The adults are still quite colorful with their various obsessions. There are some clever bits here and having some other characters similar to the Baudelaire orphans to team up with them is a welcome change.

Book 6: The Ersatz Elevator

After Count Olaf’s plans are foiled and he kidnaps the two Quagmire triplets, The Baudelaire orphans are sent out to Esme and Jerome Squalor at 667 Dark Avenue, a big condo complex. Esme is the 6th biggest financial advisor (or something around there) and they are actually back to only a few blocks away from their Baudelaire mansion that was burnt down. The Squalors live in a world that is obsessed with “ins” and “outs” from pinstripe suits to ocean decorations and especially the stopped use of the elevator. Everything falls into place as Count Olaf appears in another disguise with a big plan. The orphans need to figure out what is up with Count Olaf while also figuring out the mystery letters that the Quagmires told them before they were taken away and also, where are they if Count Olaf is scheming again.

Perhaps I’m a fan of far-fetched imaginative pieces, The Ersatz Elevator really kicks it up a little, putting all three children to use their abilities and finding a courage in them that we’ve seen but never to this extent. Its a little unbelievable story but full of incredibly fun characters and has lots of twists and surprises. Its suspense and a page turner. We’re pretty much halfway through the series at this point and a great time to kick up the fact that the orphans are in fact growing up and facing their new miserable reality with as much courage and intelligence as possible.

Overall…

This collection steps up the game a little. The Baudelaire orphans are getting smarter. Sunny is starting to say words that make sense although her teeth are still a thing of splendor in terms of what she can achieve. The stories are full of creativity and the scenarios they are thrown into while far-fetched are imaginative. It continues on with clever uses of words and throws us tons of vocabulary and description. I think the thing to remember here is that these books are meant for children and while we may what is going to happen and we can sit here thinking when they’ll be smarter the next time and that nothing really makes sense especially with the stupid adults, especially Mr. Poe, they are colorful in their own way and adds to the story itself, helping the children shine a little brighter.

Unboxing & Recap: Miss Fresh #7

Two months has gone by since I’ve ordered a Miss Fresh box! Wow!

We are working on cooking meals more and totally enjoying it. There’s also the factor of having meals that appealed to us. This box really worked for that. Let’s take a look!

Kung Pao Shrimps
with Calrose Rice

Miss Fresh

Kung Pao Shrimps

Kung Pao Shrimps was good. I’m not exactly sure about using Calrose Rice. Its okay, not my favorite. However, it is a simple and balanced meal even if it lacked a bit of spice. There is quite a bit of preparation for this one with a lot of cooking. Anything with a lot of chopping usually takes more time for myself just because I’m incredibly clumsy so take much more time to do it.

Chicken Marbella
served with couscous and spinach

Miss Fresh

Chicken Marbella 

Chicken Marbella is an interesting recipe. I mean this in the best way. While I’m not a huge fan of the couscous and I cooked the spinach which was supposed to be a salad, the highlight is the chicken itself being paired with dried prunes and green olives. I’m not exactly a fan of olives but this combination worked together really well. It takes a little longer, and was listed as more than 30 minutes to make and that is because the chicken needs to go into the oven for thirty minutes or something. I can’t remember as I don’t have the recipe in front of me.

Ginger Turkey Meatballs
on a bed of Sesame Noodles

Miss Fresh

Ginger Turkey Meatballs 

I love sesame noodles. The sauce they make here is very delicious. The meatballs have turmeric and curry spices so it has a spicy taste to it, along with some veggies, this ginger turkey meatballs is really good and quite easy to make. It has sparked a desire to stock up on sesame noodles. Beware for smelling like curry and onions though. I cooked this one morning and I had to change afterwards.

Zucchini and Corn Quesadillas
with Pesto

Miss Fresh

Zucchini and Corn Quesadillas 

The meal in the box that only my husband could eat, however was quite the blast to make except its crazy with all the chopping. Its chopping up jalapeno and green peppers and then there is an ear of corn to strip off the kernels. Aside from the chopping, its easy to put together and a vegetarian meal solution. Even with that, my husband enjoyed it.

Overall…Ginger Turkey Meatballs and Chicken Marbella are the stars of this box. I loved those two recipes a lot. I’m hoping to see more sesame noodles added into the meals eventually. There’s not much to say because everything was fresh and the box was delivered safely and securely as usual.

Valentine’s Marathon: Michael Bolton’s Big, Sexy Valentine’s Special (Netflix 2017)

I was kind of on the fence whether to talk about this since its not really a movie but then its a new thing on Netflix. Michael Bolton’s Big, Sexy Valentine’s Special is a Netflix Comedy Special. Still, its Valentine’s related and I didn’t have time to watch another movie. I had promised to look at a double feature of Blue Valentine and Crazy Stupid Love. And I will a little later. The movies are sitting on my  player right now and I’ll get on that. In the meantime, let’s check this out!

Michael Bolton’s Big, Sexy Valentine’s Special (2017)

Michael Bolton's big Sexy Valentine's Special

Director: Scott Aukerman & Akiva Schaffer

Cast: Micheal Bolton, Sarah Shahi, Jimmy Graham, Maya Rudolph, Brooke Shields, Michael Sheen, Sarah Silverman, Adam Samberg, etc….

After Santa tells Michael Bolton that he needs 75,000 new babies by Christmas to meet toy supply, Michael Bolton hosts a sexy telethon to get the world to star making love. – IMDB

I’ve said it over and over again that comedies usually aren’t my thing. I have this specific type of humor that I like. It has to be smart and funny or in some oddly absurd way. While some parts didn’t make me laugh, in general, this worked pretty well. Its kind of this absurd humor with actors playing roles of some known personalities and then there’s musical performances with some odd lyrics. There are a lot of big stars and comedic actors and actresses all joining into this project. Michael Bolton, along with some other stars, belt out some tunes.

michael bolton's big sexy valentine's day special

I honestly don’t know how to talk about this show which sounds pretty weird in itself because I decided to put this together. While this sort of humor is not my usual type of thing, it worked incredibly well and was funny for a good part of it. It mocked the romance and the symbolic bits of Valentine’s and setting the romantic atmosphere. At the same time, it took normally cheesy tunes and added funny lyrics. My favorite part goes to Maya Rudolph singing “Key Change Baby”. It was just awesome and I couldn’t stop laughing. It is truly an absurd mesh of skits but set up in a charity hotline event where the celebrities answering the phone calls had funny little conversations as well. The fact that the show uses Christmas as the ten month anchor for building meaning to Valentine’s Day is actually pretty clever.

Michael Bolton's Big Sexy Valentine's Day Special

Overally, a surprisingly funny comedy special. If you are looking for some quick entertainment, this might fit the bill. However, as I always say, comedy is pretty subjective. I didn’t expect to enjoy this but did for the most part. It could be a nice twist from the normal romantic comedies or whatnot that you plan on doing. Plus, its on Netflix so a nice funny night in.

Have you seen this comedy special yet?

Reminder: Ultimate 90s Blogathon Entries Due

A final reminder and call for those participating in the blogathon! We’re looking forward to seeing your reviews in our inbox if you haven’t sent them yet!
Thanks! 🙂

Drew's Movie Reviews

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Hey, readers!

Just a reminder for those participating in the Ultimate 90s Blogathon that entries are due.  If you have told us you are participating and haven’t sent in your review yet, please let us know the status.  We understand that life gets busy so if you need a little more time, please tell us so we are able to schedule accordingly. The blogathon kicks off next Monday, February 20th. We can’t wait to read everyone’s reviews! 😀

Cheers!

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Valentine’s Marathon: The Choice (2016)

Next up in the Valentine’s Marathon is the annual Nicholas Sparks movie adaptation visit to stay on track and up to date with this. What started off as something that I thought would be torturous actually wasn’t as bad. A ton of you are going to disagree with me. I know already. Every year I post one of these, most people hate these Nicholas Sparks movie adaptations and would just like them to stop. While I can see where everyone is coming from, I actually don’t mind them at all, except for The Last Song…I really don’t like that one. But can you believe, The Choice is the 10th Nicholas Sparks movie adaptation? But from what I’ve read, this is the last movie adaptation.

Let’s check it out!

The Choice (2016)

The Choice

Director: Ross Katz

Cast: Teresa Palmer, Benjamin Walker, Maggie Grace, Alexandra Daddario, Tom Wilkinson, Tom Welling

Travis and Gabby first meet as neighbors in a small coastal town and wind up in a relationship that is tested by life’s most defining events. – IMDB

Nicholas Sparks movies have a formula. Its also this formula that really drives non-fans away from it, in my opinion. There’s always lovers who meet under less than desirable circumstances who find a way to be together then some disapproving factor drives them apart and then they somehow find the strength to reunite. Some times, they are able to be together and sometimes, other things will keep them apart (ex. sickness, death, bad timing, etc). You get my drift, right? Whenever I review one of these movies, I think its important to push away that formula. Think about the factors they put together from the characters to their chemistry (a big one for romance) and the supporting roles and what it does, maybe even the setting. The formula won’t change, we all know that and if it does, like the first time I saw a character survive the ordeal without some bittersweet twist, I was actually pleasantly surprised. So we’re going to do this for The Choice, okay? It sounds stupid to brush the story aside but that isn’t exactly what I’m doing, just you know glazing over the familiarity and looking more at how it carries itself.

The Choice

The Choice is not my favorite Nicholas Sparks adaptation. In fact, I don’t think A Walk to Remember has ever been beaten in my guilty pleasure romance movies. However, The Choice does also give us two very cute characters. There are some supporting characters that could’ve done with a little more development but still had its purpose. The setting itself is beautiful and the chemistry was done quite well. The story could have been delivered a little better and probably the run time could’ve been shorter as well to make it more compact. The Choice isn’t anything great to the movie adaptations however, there is one thing that I liked a lot about it other than the beautiful setting making me want to seek it all out for myself but our two main characters. There are very familiar mechanics they use, like setting up the story in a way that we’re at a certain point and then recounting the events and then getting to the present and continuing on from there to the conclusion. I can’t say its particularly useful to do it like this but its not a bad way for it to unfold.

The Choice

The Choice’s primary strength is its couple, Gabby and Travis played by Teresa Palmer and Benjamin Walker respectively. Like I mentioned before, it didn’t really hit it off for me right away but in the interaction that Gabby and Travis has in their bickering, they start to grow a little (for me at least). Teresa Palmer’s character seemed to work out better for me but then there’s always a question of judgement and passion. Nicholas Sparks likes to embrace the somewhat “forbidden” love type of thing. Our characters need to have courage and they need to feel some security. In this case, the point of most of the story is Travis’s character not fighting for something he loves and always taking the easy route even if it means heartbreak and being lonely. Up till that point, the story still kind of worked because the message worked for me. However, the third act diving into a dramatic twist somewhat seems a little forced. It does also talk about guilt and holding on and fighting and believing but in many ways, the way it unfolds seems a little manipulative, I guess. I can forgive most of it but just saying that it would objectively be in that area to evoke some sort of sentiment and its where we are tested on how deeply we feel for this couple (which for me, wasn’t a whole lot) whereas, the idea of what is going on about churning up the thoughts of whether to let someone go is probably the bigger question here that really gets emotional. Probably because I’ve been in a relatable situation that it hit me a little harder than it probably would.

The Choice

The Choice however does have some other familiar faces in the supporting role. We have Maggie Grace as Steph, the sister of Travis who really is his guiding light of logic. She sees more about Gabby and her impact on Travis and how he actually feels, just like a close friend would be normally. We have an ex-girlfriend (or something) played by Alexandra Daddario who really doesn’t ever build up to much but to eventually tell Travis something important that encourages him. Tom Wilkinson plays as Travis’s father who in the second half probably understands more about what he is going through than others would. Most of these supporting roles are there for their one moment that really builds a connection or enlightens our character. These characters are also usually expected in these adaptations.

Overall, The Choice works okay for me. Its not my favorite but it is also far from the worst one out of the ten Nicholas Sparks adaptations. The charming characters of Gabby and Travis may get me to revisit it eventually. There are however many moments where it does fall flat, even if you look past the formulaic plot. The supporting characters are weak and could probably be fleshed out more. The story itself drags much longer than it needs. The chemistry between the characters are a little rushed in the first place so never quite meet the potential even if there are some good moments there. There are issues with this one but I’m pretty forgiving on these adaptations so I can see things that can redeem it. However, its not going to work for people who has never quite enjoyed any of them. If thats the case, you might probably not want to start here.

Valentine’s Marathon: Singin’ in the Rain (1952)

Next up in the Valentine’s Marathon is a classic that I’ve been meaning to see and that’s Singin’ In the Rain! Lots of popular songs and a musical seems like a great formula. Not to mention it looks incredibly fun to watch.

Let’s check it out!

Singin’ in the Rain (1952)

Singin' In the Rain

Director: Stanley Donen & Gene Kelly

Cast: Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, Donald O’Connor, Jean Hagen, Millard Mitchell, Douglas Fowley

A silent film production company and cast make a difficult transition to sound. – IMDB

 Singin’ In the Rain is a classic and I finally can see why. There isn’t much I can say that hasn’t been said before. I’m pretty sure of that. Its not only a romantic story but an incredibly light-hearted, comedic and fun one. The music is wonderful and the idea of watching Hollywood change from silent movies to sound brings in this new adventure for everyone as they embrace change. Not to mention that the entire cast is totally awesome and charming with a lot of character.

Singin' in the rain

Our main characters here are Debbie Reynolds as Kate who turns a cold shoulder when they first meet at big silent film star, Don Lockwood who then gets intrigued. There’s so much here to love in her character. For one, the moment we see her in that number jumping out of a cake and locks eyes with Don before doing that cute little dance with her crew is fantastic. That whole scene sets off the right tone of the chemistry and the charm both of these characters have. Don Lockwood is played by Gene Kelly and this man’s smugness as Don is awesome. It creates the perfect type of character that challenges each other. Although their romance develops relatively quickly, it is believable. Aside from them, another rather big role (although its more of a supporting role), is Don’s best friend, Cosmo who is a complete goofball in so many ways but also an incredibly talented musician. Together, these three create the lighthearted atmosphere this movie needs especially with sound numbers like “Good Morning”. Before Kate shows up, Don and Cosmo also have some great moments to show how strong their friendship is and how on beat they are together, not to mention a little silly. It brings so many layers to these characters.

Singin' in the Rain

In a rather outrageously funny character way was this scene above and it really  highlights Jean Hagen’s character, Lina Lamont who is a great silent star but the moment she opens her mouth, you realize that the transition to movies with sound is really not for her anymore. At least back then when it was full of music and elegance, there was really no place for her as she learns to round her words and be used to speaking into a microphone. However, it did bring a lot of humor as we saw the disasters that it’d bring. Not to mention, the little dramas that she would like to cause for the diva that she was as she grasped to stay alive in the changing movie business. On that note, other characters also helped, like Douglas Fowley as Roscoe and Millard Mitchell as R.F., the latter pretty much runs the studio.

Singin in the rain

Its funny that Singin’ in the Rain before I saw it seemed like just another musical. Probably much better in calibre because its a classic. For that, it didn’t disappoint me at all. In fact, what made it even rise higher in my books and actually is incredibly perfect in many ways is that it has something for everyone (or mostly because I’m sure some people don’t share the same type of love I had). Why I say this is because my husband who is not into musicals or romantic comedies sat there and enjoyed the humor it had and the colorful characters. For that, it makes it even better because the songs compliment a fantastic movie that brings just the right tone of humor and balances it with a story that has notes of romance but also something more to give it even more substance.

I love Singin’ in the Rain. Its a great movie and definitely well worth its classic title and in my heart, I truly believe it has something for everyone to love. The cast is fantastic, the story is awesome and the music is simply great. There are some catchy tunes and probably a lot that you have already heard. Debbie Reynolds is so adorable to watch and Gene Kelly is charming in a full of himself kind of way but really pulls it off and we can’t forget Donald O’Connor who is a comedic highlight that keeps the movie fun and entertaining. Its a little bit of everything fitted so perfectly well together.

Have you seen Singin’ In the Rain?

***Since this was supposed to be yesterday’s post, I’ll have another Valentine’s marathon review going up later today.***