Double Feature: Natural Selection (2016) & Ouija (2014)

Welcome to the next double feature! This one is going to be a fairly odd pairing but also one that I can’t say that I am particularly sure how to write about. We have officially passed the halfway point in the Netflix A-Z and going into the N selection. This one was a fairly hard choice and it ended up being drama thriller Natural Selection. My main hook for it is because Katherine McNamara is part of it and I was going through a Shadowhunters phase when I added it to my list. For the O selection, it is horror film Ouija with Olivia Cooke. This one didn’t have great reviews but I figured I’d give it a chance anyways.

Let’s check it out!

Natural Selection (2016)

natural selection

Director (& Writer): Chad L. Scheifele

Cast: Mason Dye, Ryan Munzert, Anthony Michael Hall, Katherine McNamara, Amy Carlson, Tyler Elliott Burke

As the new kid, a shy high school senior finds himself tormented by all his peers except one, but his new friend has a dark, infectious outlook. – IMDB

Natural Selection is not an easy film to talk about. In fact, the story itself is done pretty well and the whole meaning and message behind it also is done pretty well. The only issue with it is that the cast itself, especially the cast playing the students are not quite as refined in their characters. Some might like it because it makes their acting more raw but for myself, the acting was the downside of the film. The other little part that was the downside was the romantic connection here which felt slightly disposable. It had a purpose to pretty much strain a developing “friendship” but that was all it was, which made it make the movie contrived.

However, the pros of this film can’t be ignored and that is the movie itself. It takes a fairly serious issue which potentially haunts unexpectedly schools and the safety of it. It all dials down to ignored youths and their repercussions. The film does a good job at putting together very similar characters, the new kid in town Tyler (Mason Dye) and a somewhat of an oddball Indrid (Ryan Munzert) who ends up being friends and they are pretty much parallels to each other in a lot of aspects from parents that don’t take care of them to being bullied or looked down upon in school. The differences in their characters here is what changes and makes these characters intriguing to learn about especially as the end result becomes more and more obvious.

There’s some execution issues and some acting issues here but Natural Selection is not a bad film, plus, its always nice to watch something to learn about the things that teenagers that don’t get noticed and the dangers that may lurk in them. However, I have recently seen films in the similar vein to this recently which have been done a lot better however, the strength of the film is in its message.

Ouija (2014)

ouija

Director (& co-writer): Stiles White

Cast: Olivia Cooke,  Ana Coto, Daren Kagasoff, Bianca A. Santos, Douglas Smith, Shelley Hennig, Sierra Heuermann, Lin Shaye

A group of friends must confront their most terrifying fears when they awaken the dark powers of an ancient spirit board. – IMDB

Oh boy…Ouija is another one on my list that falls into the bad reviews but why not check it out pile. I personally like Olivia Cooke because she’s done some good roles like in Bates Motel and Me, Earl and the Dying Girl (review). Ouija is exactly what you would expect it to be. Its full of horror troupes and you can probably figure out whats going to happen next and when the jumpscares are going to show up. Everything here is pretty much playing it by the numbers a whole lot. Ouija (for those who do believe that it can channel spirits and shouldn’t be touched like Tarot Cards, etc) is creepy. Its not something you want to mess with but people still do. While I can’t say that Ouija is the bottom of the barrel, it also doesn’t offer a whole lot of wow moments either. The script tries really hard to give it a twist and yet, because its so deliberate (or at least feels that way), it ends up not quite landing that punch so well.

There’s not a whole lot to say about Ouija. Its fairly predictable and if you don’t buy into the idea of just being tempted to keep giving Ouija a go after bad things happen, then this movie falls apart at its seams. I fall into that category so this movie had some moments but because it was so easy to figure out, it loses its impact a lot. Not to mention, if you are a gamer, Until Dawn delivers the whole sitting around a table and something creepy lurks about a whole lot more effectively than this whole movie combined.

That’s it for this double feature!
Thoughts and comments?

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Goodfood Recap #38

goodfood

Welcome to the next Goodfood recap! Its been about a month since the last box. This time is mostly all new recipes, except for one but I think that one had changes but can’t be too certain.

Honey-Glazed Salmon
with Roasted Pepper & Corn Salad

honey glazed salmon

Easy to make and very delicious. The husband loved this meal a ton as did I. There’s a freshness to it especially with the spinach mixed into the rice and then having other parts of it cooked separately and put together in the end. Its always a nice little addition when the rice is spiced up with whatever ingredients. Plus, we love salmon but don’t usually eat it a lot since its still a bit pricey. To be fair, I have a hunch its only supposed to be one fillet usually but we got doubles for two of our recipes. If thats a case, a happy accident for us and a huge thanks to Goodfood for giving us more food. If not, the portion was extended a little for us which is always nice. 😉

Fresh Shanghai Noodles
with Peanut Sauce, Yu Choy & Cucumber Ribbons

fresh shanghai noodles

I’m always attracted to making the more Asian style meals. Its mostly because I understand the flavors but not usually sure how to execute it myself. While my mom has great cooking skills, she hasn’t been very articulate on how to replicate it. Its why a lot of Chinese cookbooks don’t really work. However, we have had the Shanghai noodles before. however, it feels like this one changed a little as well. I can’t be certain if its actually different but it feels a tad different but its still really good. I like the thick noodles used in Shanghai noodles as well as the peanut sauce mixture. The cucumber ribbons were the part that took the longest to do.

Korean-Style Fried Chicken Thighs
with Kimchi-Cucumber Salad & Sticky Rice

Korean Style Chicken Thighs

Our spicy meal of the box! Korean-style Chicken Thighs are pretty awesome actually. I’m not sure the husband agrees since he only said that its good. However, I thought it was pretty nice. I did however tone down the sauce because in the recipe it specified to only use half of it for medium spicy and I followed that and it turned out to be at the borderline of where I found it acceptable. The rice adds in the spice blend as well and boy, did that work out great. Plus, I love Sticky rice and this time was probably the time that it turned out in texture as I like my sticky rice. Everything else was pretty good here. The sauce was a bit of a hectic job since its a bigger pan (should have used a saucer) and the oil was just hopping everywhere. Either way, at least the hard work reaped this really delicious outcome.

Crispy Pork Cutlets
with Homemade Ranch Dressing & Salt & Vinegar Potatoes

Crispy Pork Cutlets

I can’t say that Goodfood has given out some spectacular pork chops/cutlets recipes yet. They never are my first place This one was okay. The salad was alright and the salt and vinegar potatoes were pretty decent. The pork cutlets were decent as well but nothing that will make me want to do this recipe again. However, my search for more pork chop recipes are in the horizon. Don’t get me wrong though, it was still good. I’m just not a huge fan of panko crusted anything so its more of a personal preference.

That’s it for this Goodfood Recap!
Have you been trying out any new recipes? Do you order meal subscription boxes like Goodfood?

What’s Up-Week 22

June is finally among us but the weather here definitely doesn’t feel like its anywhere near the summer. Perhaps its also the reason why we’ve been less in the mood for certain things and more just doing nothing. Whatever it is, this week still went relatively well. There was some time-crunching (particularly in the reading department) and some random spontaneous things (mostly with movie choices) and then some inactive bits as well.

READING

The Space Between Time

  • The Space Between Time by Charlie Laidlaw (Review)

Currently reading: Osgoode as Gold (Toronto Comics #5)

Despite a bit of a time crunch to get the book finished and reviewed for the month-long blog tour for The Space Between Time, it finally was done and the book while unsure at first, turned out to really pull itself together and became one that actually made me think a little about it. The review is already out so you can check it out in the link above. After finishing this second book from Charlie Laidlaw, I have to say that he is a very creative author with some really nice ideas and plot execution. I’m looking forward to what else he has to offer.

Taking a little novel reading break to cut through some of the heavier reading I’ve had, I decided to check out another graphic novel that I’ve had (and I think contributed to on Kickstarter) called Osgoode as Gold which is the fifth instalment of Toronto Comics. I’ve been reading books for Toronto Comics for the last few years and its always delivered. You can check out the review for its 4th instalment HERE.

PLAYING

NOTHING…

We haven’t finished The Witness however also didn’t move forward in it either. I am however playing a bunch of mobile games on the go. Suffice to say that things are a bit behind as May Mobile Games Round-up hasn’t gone up yet but will very soon (if not already when this post has gone up). Its been a bit of a search for games and a lot has gone down to spontaneity and more like a one sitting game than something more long-form hence why not mentioned as currently playing but more suitable for the surprise in the roundup post. I have worked out a list of what to play next so worries. Game Warp took a bit of a hiatus as we sorted out a bunch of other things but we are also resting up to come back in full force with E3 only a few days away.

You should definitely follow our blog to see all the coverage for it including recaps on all the conferences, podcast recaps as well as Top 10 Indie and Top 10 Mainstream Games. It’ll be a busy week or two coming up but we’re gearing up for it.

WATCHING

the ritual

  • Perfect Stranger
  • Red Riding Hood
  • Hoodwinked! (rewatch)
  • The Ritual

Good thing is that movies are back on track. I was running a bit low on the double feature content so had to get to some solo movie watching for the P and R selection. They were pretty average in my opinion but I’ll talk more about it in the upcoming double feature. I ended up doing a rewatch which I realized that I hadn’t reviewed either however, it was for a Friday Film Club HERE. Putting aside the rewatch, the most impressive movie out of what I’ve watched is The Ritual. It had some troupes as does most horror thriller in the woods sort of style has BUT…they do a few things really well and the threat is also put together effectively. Netflix Original movies are a bit iffy sometimes but I’d say this one is a definite win. Review coming up since it seems maybe I’ll have a double R selection also.

BINGING

beautiful youth

  • Beautiful Youth (Season 1, 2019)

Currently binging: Le Coup de Foudre, Produce Camp 2019, Your Highness “Class Monitor”, Great Escape, Love Timing

I’m trying to lower the TV binging right now. Its getting a bit numbing sometimes. However, I did burn through the entire Beautiful Youth season just in time for the season finale to air. Man, that is one good show that I’d love to see them do a Season 2 but with hopefully the same crew or at least a majority of the same crew. Plus, it had such a nice travel and reality show blend while getting to know some of the new talent in the entertainment business. Its a really nice blend especially to see these bromance develop as well. Everything is coming to near end with Great Escape at episode 10 or 11 (variety shows usually has 12 episodes per season) and Produce Camp 2019 also is at their 9th episode with the final live show coming up as well which will also be the last episode. Le Coup de Foudre also is ending soon with only about 6 to 8 episodes left. The new addition this time is Love Timing which is a little past halfway but I just started it, literally one episode a day to catch up. Its a show similar to Dream Space (which was on MangoTV) but run by iQiyi. Plus, a new TV series, Your Highness “Class Monitor” (which makes me wonder if its a same category as Accidentally In Love because of the similarity in their Chinese titles) which is also quite fun so far but I’m liking the second male lead 6 episodes in, which has been a while that I’ve gone back onto that route.

Thats it for this What’s Up!
What have you been reading/watching/binging/playing?

Blog Tour: The Space Between Time by Charlie Laidlaw [Review & Giveaway]

The Space Between Time
By: Charlie Laidlaw

The Space Between Time

Expected Publication Date: June 20th, 2019
Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Drama/Dark Comedy

SYNOPSIS

There are more stars in the universe than there are grains of sand on Earth…

Emma Maria Rossini appears to be the luckiest girl in the world. She’s the daughter of a beautiful and loving mother, and her father is one of the most famous film actors of his generation. She’s also the granddaughter of a rather eccentric and obscure Italian astrophysicist.

But as her seemingly charmed life begins to unravel, and Emma experiences love and tragedy, she ultimately finds solace in her once-derided grandfather’s Theorem on the universe.

The Space Between Time is humorous and poignant and offers the metaphor that we are all connected, even to those we have loved and not quite lost.

Add to Goodreads

REVIEW

The Space Between Time is a novel of many good qualities as is expected with Charlie Laidlaw. While I’ve only read one other book from him last year, his writing style and the voice he gives his characters (especially the main one) is very unique. At the the same time, the structure and the story also work very well. In this case, The Space Between Time truly benefits by creating this parallel of the main character Emma’s constant comparison to her grandfather’s theorem of space and time to draw the different events that happen in her life. It is also the unique angle of the story. The novel itself takes form by its different parts (cleverly titled with different space formulas and titles) that take us into the different stages of Emma’s life.

While The Space Between Time does have a good few characters that come in and out of Emma’s life, the main character here is Emma used in a first person voice. This is particularly effective for this story because of one circumstance which helps round up the story and might hit spoiler territory so I’ll avoid it but the second is that it helps capture, like a journal, the different ways of talking as well as the different point of views as Emma grows up, from when she was a little girl just until the present, being an adult. A lot of the novel and plot benefits from this element because the story itself is one that is more dramatic and with that, heartbreaking.

The Space Between Time overall works quite well. It is both unique, well-structured and creative with some unique ideas. The character of Emma is complex, has depth and also is one that grows over time as she fights some of her own inner monsters and grows up to understand more and change her perspective of the people around her. There are so many lessons to learn in this novel through Emma’s story. Its a story about love and loss, family and communication as well as letting go and forgiveness. Its about coming to terms to the different sides of a character.

A lot of elements in The Space Between Time lands really well. The only small issue here was some areas dragged on a little too much with descriptions. There are also some moments where some of the stories seem to drag on too much but then in the sum of things, especially with how it ends, some of the little mundane things come back in the storyline and have their own purpose. On a more personal note, there is a decent amount of dark humor here which (at least for myself) didn’t quite always land as much. However, as much as there are some small issues with the pacing and such, The Space Between Time tells a story about Emma that should be told and probably needs to be told because it highlights some very important elements of life.

Goodreads score: 4 out of 5

Purchase Link

Amazon

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

charlie laidlaw

I was born in Paisley, central Scotland, which wasn’t my fault. That week, Eddie Calvert with Norrie Paramor and his Orchestra were Top of the Pops, with Oh, Mein Papa, as sung by a young German woman remembering her once-famous clown father. That gives a clue to my age, not my musical taste.

I was brought up in the west of Scotland and graduated from the University of Edinburgh. I still have the scroll, but it’s in Latin, so it could say anything.

I then worked briefly as a street actor, baby photographer, puppeteer and restaurant dogsbody before becoming a journalist. I started in Glasgow and ended up in London, covering news, features and politics. I interviewed motorbike ace Barry Sheene, Noel Edmonds threatened me with legal action and, because of a bureaucratic muddle, I was ordered out of Greece.

I then took a year to travel round the world, visiting 19 countries. Highlights included being threatened by a man with a gun in Dubai, being given an armed bodyguard by the PLO in Beirut (not the same person with a gun), and visiting Robert Louis Stevenson’s grave in Samoa. What I did for the rest of the year I can’t quite remember

Surprisingly, I was approached by a government agency to work in intelligence, which just shows how shoddy government recruitment was back then. However, it turned out to be very boring and I don’t like vodka martini.

Craving excitement and adventure, I ended up as a PR consultant, which is the fate of all journalists who haven’t won a Pulitzer Prize, and I’ve still to listen to Oh, Mein Papa.

I am married with two grown-up children and live in central Scotland. And that’s about it.

Website
Facebook
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GIVEAWAY

I have 2 signed copies of The Space Between Time to giveaway, 3 fun coffee mugs featuring all 3 of Charlie Laidlaw’s books, and 3 digital copies of the book in the winner’s format of choice! Amazing right? Click the link HERE to enter!

*Open Internationally – Giveaway closes June 30th

Blog Tour Organized by:

Movies and Tea #18 – The Shape of Water

The final episode of Season 2 for Guillermo Del Toro’s directorial work, The Shape of Water is here as we discuss this Oscar-winning fantasy romance to wrap up this mostly creature-filled filmography before we head into our After Hours episodes.

Head over to Movies and Tea blog to check out the episode. Be sure to share your thoughts on the film in the comments over there as well.

Movies and Tea

Born out of a failed attempt to remake “Creature From The Black Lagoon”, The Shape of Water saw del toro question what would have happened if Kay had actually gone off with the Gill-Man.

Unquestionable a unique romantic movie, here we find Del Toro at his most sympathetic for his own gil-man creation while also crafting some of the most visually arresting footage of his career somthing the academy reward his efforts by awarding the film the best film and director awards at the 90th academy awards.

On this episode we dive into this most unlikely of romances aswell as Del Toro’s most explicit film to date, to find out how he made us all believe in his vision, question the obsession with green aswell as what the intended black and white cut of the film could have offered. We also wrap up the season revealing our favourite, most hated…

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Music Obsessions – June 2019

Music Obsessions (2)

Its the first weekend of a new month and that means time for this month’s Music Obsessions! Its been a fun and colorful month to say the least. There was a lot of music that I discovered and some new artists that I’m following.

Hot Blood – KALEO

Its been a while since I’ve listened to Kaleo. I love their style a lot and it was when I went to Brasserie Elements (recap HERE) that I heard this song and it is really awesome. It was then that I introduced my husband to Kaleo (at least the songs that I had already known) and then we went on to look for some other songs as well to dive further into their work.

你,好不好? How Have You Been? – Eric Zhou 周興哲

While I’ve known of Eric Zhou for a while in the Chinese music industry, I haven’t really heard much from him however this song was picked as a performance vocal song list in Produce Camp 2019 so I went to listen to the original and have been absolutely in love with it. The lyrics and the tune itself is really good.

工筆 – Awaken-F

The newest song from Awaken-F is really good. It has that ancient Chinese music instruments sort of usage but also keeps it very soothing and energetic. I like this stuff every once in a while and to be honest, I can see this as part of some TV series set in ancient China soundtrack.

作為怪物 As A Monster- 李宇春 Chris Lee x 吳青峰 Qing Feng Wu

My favorite song and the most recent release in this batch of music obsession. This one has all the elements that I love. I had never listened to Chris Lee before but I’m definitely sold on her voice. Its really unique and matching with Qing Feng Wu’s voice, it works so well and they have similar styles in their music. Its more indie but this one is so fun and addictive.

Where Do You  Go – Shaun Frank (feat. Lexy Panterra)

It feels like a while since I’ve shared some electronic music but I like Shaun Frank’s music ever since I heard Heaven so I was intrigued right away. This one didn’t disappoint at all. I like the video and I like the energy of the song in general.

FIREMAN – Produce Camp 2019 Original Production Performance

And a little extra bit..since I don’t usually share anything from these variety competition show things except as little ending pieces. However, in their specialty performances which was separated in dance, vocal and original production categories, one of the two teams doing original production not only completed a completely original song but also managed to deliver a great performance called Fireman. Really talented! I like this song a ton.

That’s it for this Music Obsessions!
What have you been listening to on repeat?

My Weekly Adventures: Let the Gardening Begin!

And May has come to an end! Man, this year is flying by. Its hard to imagine that we are almost at the half year mark. I’m not sure how to recap the last half of the month, probably in frequent garden oriented content. As mentioned before, Gardening updates might just stick to these updates now since I don’t really have too much on the schedule once festival seasons start and such (depending on situation and work, of course) so to keep things interesting, I’ll be tracking some other stuff in this segment starting with this Adventures post. 🙂

Gardening Hauls (over 2 weekends)

1st Haul: Geranium Citronella, Green Lettuce, Kale, Foliage, Monarda, English Lavender, Cabbage, Phlox

The first haul was quite disorganized. The main thing was that I wanted to go but had a lot of unformed ideas and unset plans on the whole landscaping aspect. Plus, the weather was still a bit too chilly for vegetables be in ground, without risk of losing the crop so I stuck with some safe choices and perennials. You may notice that I picked up cabbage when I had completely planned on getting brussel sprouts and only realized when I got home that it was the wrong thing. Oh well, guess that’s my experimental crop for this year.

2nd Haul: Marigold, Snapdragons, Phlox, Campanula, English Lavender, Thyme, Sedum, Aster

On Victoria Day, after some debate and discussion with the husband to clear my mind a little, we decided to go back with a solid plan on how to take care of the the bee garden plans I had wanted to do. We settled on where to plant it and how to set it up and then what flowers to get along with getting the final pieces to my mosquito repellant container garden as well.

3rd Haul: Eggplant, Cherry Tomato, Cucumber, Zucchini, Red Bell Pepper, Green Bell Pepper, Carmen Pepper

The weekend after, we went again for (probably not the final) time to get the vegetable plants. We decided since the last visit to get a hanging tomato plant (which might not be hanging anymore after some observation) and a bunch of other ones: the husband’s must-have is cucumbers and peppers, my must-have is zucchini and decided to try another variety of eggplant, hoping that its the type that I like.

Battle of Ingredients

Chicken Skewers

We finally got back to Battle of Ingredients with the whole gang and trying out our new barbecue. The husband was the grill master while Phoebe and I got all the food prep done. You can check out the recap post and some of the marinade and recipes HERE.

Ottawa Day Trip & Haul

Ottawa marathon weekend happened last weekend. While I don’t go with my friend to help with the racing anymore, my husband and I do head down to check up and hang out on the Saturday before his 5K and 10K race in the morning and leave in early afternoon. We also go because Eddie Bauer usually has great sales to replenish some hiking gear. This year, I ended up being the big purchaser and getting some new long hiking pants. I only had capris, which made the last hiking a bit complicated as I had to go in my jeans. We stopped at LCBO to pick up some Ontario Ciders and the husband wanted to get more Hard Root Beer. I went to Disney Store because to add another Disney plush to my collection. While there was a heavy debate between Timon (The Lion King) and Steamboat Mickey, the latter won the debate mostly because its price tag matched its size and Steamboat Mickey adds to my Mickey collection. I should do an Instagram post of all my Mickey plushes. We also went to the running convention to get some tape and ended up picking up KT Tape. The husband needs it for hiking while I need it for running. One of the main reasons that my running season hasn’t started yet. After that for the final visit is always T&T Supermarket to get some hot food for dinner, get some fun snacks and pick some cute stuff. We tried out this very interesting concept of heat-conducting hot pot sort of cup noodles. I’ve seen it in TV series before so was interested about how it works. It works fine except they only have extreme spicy varieties so we ate two pieces, had a bowl of ice cream to wash away the burning heat in our mouths and threw it out. If you like spicy things, its pretty cool though just to watch the process and then have this cool eating experience.

Gardening Update

Bee Garden

Bee Garden

The bee-friendly garden has gone next to the vegetable garden. Its a good spot because its next to the blueberry and the echinacea which are also bee-friendly plants that was already there. We left some space for all the perennials to grow into place while leaving room to swap around the annuals every year as I like to other bee-friendly flowers. I still have some grass and weed removal to maintain this space but I’ll get around to it soon.

Container Gardening

Cabbage & Marigold

Since I got the cabbage with not a whole lot of knowledge, I did some quick research and found that it companions well with marigolds so hence, these containers are now all over my garden. The hope is that the cabbage will grow well and have enough room. If not, it’ll be leaves I guess and beautiful flowers. I do have some cabbage going in ground so we can see which works where better.

Much of the same as last year. I have some lettuce in hanging basket and some hanging off the back patio. This year, we are changing up the garden as well so where I put my kale is where I’ll have more container gardening while also opening up a raised garden.

That’s the update for now! I’ll be doing more gardening to finish getting everything planting this weekend.

Restaurant: Yunnan Rice Noodles

YUNNAN RICE NOODLES

Not going to say too much about this restaurant visit but a new(ish) restaurant opened up on the South Shore of Montreal and I went with my friend to check it out. I’ve never had this Yunnan Rice Noodles which is quite unique in how its presented especially the traditional rice noodle variety. I will do a recap post on the experience very soon (probably next week)!

Cute Kitty Pic

Kitty Cat

That’s it for this adventures post!
What have you been up to?