What’s Up 2019: Week 1 A Good Start

Welcome to the What’s Up 2019 for the first week of the new year. I know that I said that I’d do some more videos for it and I’m not lying about it except I currently am fighting a cold so its not exactly pretty to film under these circumstances. I have been pondering turning this into a quick podcast format so that I don’t have to edit video so much as also having an audio version for it. More and more ideas..just not sure what would work best.

Bear with me as I get out of this unwell phase and hopefully next week, I’ll get things back on track!

READING

the penultimate peril

  • The Grim Grotto (A Series of Unfortunate Events #11)

Currently reading: The Penultimate Peril (A Series of Unfortunate Events #12)

I’m still working through the 4 book pack to wrap up A Series of Unfortunate Events currently. I’m getting one of the books done every week. To be honest, I’ve been kind of tired so I only read on the bus which also is when I sometimes take a nap (its not good to nap on the bus so I try to refrain). However, its still moving along quite nicely. I did want to read the book and watch the matching episode and as you will soon see, that didn’t go as planned.

PLAYING

Bound Game

  • Bound
  • What Never Was (official release on Jan 11/2019)

Currently playing: not decided yet…

Its been a pretty good gaming week. I finished up Bound this week which uses dancing with a platforming sort of narrative story. Its a beautiful game with some beautiful music and hints of a lot of my gaming faves however, there is something that I find seems to take away from the game. Aside from that, I tried out an upcoming free game called What Never Was that will be released on January 11th. Its an exploration puzzle game that takes less than an hour to finish. I’ll have the review this coming up very soon.

WATCHING

a quiet place

  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (rewatch)
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (rewatch)
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (rewatch)
  • A Quiet Place
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 (rewatch)
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (rewatch)

This weekend, we wrapped up rewatching the Harry Potter franchise. It is nice to see that it still holds up and we had a lot of fun watching it. I haven’t reviewed any of them on the blog before so I’ll be getting that up either as a huge post or maybe individually, we’ll see how I feel about it. However, A Quiet Place also ended up on the roster, pretty much a year after its theatrical release and it was one that I was really anticipating in 2018 but decided against going to see it in theatres because other moviegoers could easily ruin the experience. I regret not seeing it earlier but liked it a lot. I didn’t love it because there’s one element in the story that I thought felt a bit forced and I’ll talk about that in the upcoming review.

BINGING

a series of unfortunate events

  • The Inn (Season 2)
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events (Season 3)

Currently binging: Who’s the Murderer S4, Meteor Garden 2018, My Amazing Boyfriend, My Little One S2

The Inn finally wrapped up Season 2 on Friday. It was a sad thing to see leave. It had so many great messages wrapped in that one little show and was such a genuine sort of reality show that I got pretty connected with the celebrities involved. It seems Season 3 should be a go so I’m hoping that it’ll be coming back later this year or next year or something. January 1st also kicked off the final season of A Series of Unfortunate Events on Netflix which I was super excited to see but as you saw before didn’t manage to finish the books but still went ahead and finished the series. Its one of those shows that every season is better than the one before in my opinion. TV binge for both of these coming up soon.

As for some new shows that went on, one is a new reality show which is a girl version of My Little One that was aired last year. Other than that, I started watching My Amazing Boyfriend which as Janice Wu from An Oriental Odyssey. This is from 2016 so its more in line with a binge.

This wraps up the first week!
Some old and some new! Somethings got wrapped up as well!
What have you been reading/playing/watching/binging?

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What’s Up #16

Whats Up

A slight miscalculation on my part that these weekly What’s Up is always a few days after the week ends for the previous week. That means that there is one more week of What’s up for 2018. Reason to be this accurate is just because I’m trying to change the titling and how to do that for 2019. Either way, its been a few more days than normal off from work, which means that I did spend more time doing stuff.

Let’s see what I’ve been up to!

READING

grim grotto

  • The Slippery Slope (A Series of Unfortunate Events #10)

Currently Reading: The Grim Grotto (A Series of Unfortunate Events #11)

Chugging right along with A Series of Unfortunate Events, I finished The Slippery Slope and moved along to The Grim Grotto. The holidays took away a lot of reading time that I usually would have on public transport to and from work. Its not a bad thing per se but I had wanted to get further with the reading before starting up A Series of Unfortunate Events on Netflix, which as this posts goes up has just been updated with the final season.

PLAYING

Bound Game

Currently playing: Bound

I didn’t finish any games this past week. I’ve been playing mobile games  mostly to get better ideas on wrapping up the Mobile Games Round-up for December that just went live at the end of the month. However, for consoles, I’ve only been focusing on Bound, which I’m about two chapters away from being done. Its a pretty good experience although what drew me in the first place is starting to feel like a gimmick.

WATCHING

devil's backbone

  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)
  • The Christmas Chronicles – rewatch (review)
  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
  • The Devil’s Backbone
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Overlapping Christmas usually means a lot of Christmas movie. However, this year we wanted something a little different so decided to watch the Harry Potter franchise. We got through quite a few of them. I also go to watch The Devil’s Backbone for Movies and Tea Podcast, a movie that I’ve always been recommended to watch since forever. I definitely regret not seeing it sooner because it is pretty awesome.

BINGING

The Inn

Currently binging:

  • The Inn (Season 2) – one more episode until it ends
  • Who’s the Murderer (Season 4) – ongoing
  • Meteor Garden (2018) – rewatch
  • An Oriental Odyssey (2018) – rewatch

I’ve been spending a lot of time rewatching Meteor Garden primarily. I want to work on the video or analysis piece that I talked about back in August when I was watching this series the first time. Lots planned for the new Chinese focused content so we’ll see where we go from there. On that note, The Inn only has one more episode left so I’m feeling kind of sad already in anticipation while I believe Who’s the Murderer might be wrapping up soon also.

This wraps up this What’s Up!
We officially wrap up the What’s Up for 2018 and we’ll have a fresh start next week.

TV Binge: Sugar Rush (Season 1, 2018)

Sugar Rush (Season 1, 2018)

sugar rush

Host: Hunter March
Judges: Candace Nelson & Adriano Zumbo

A baking competition with 4 teams, 3 rounds, 2 cakes and 1 winner of $10,000. – IMDB

Netflix seems to be having all those cooking shows covered with it having focus on chef’s via Chef’s Table (review), food culture documentary with Ugly Delicious, then amateur baking competition with Nailed It! (review) and professional cooking global competition with The Final Table (review) and during the summer, it covered some professional baking competition with Sugar Rush.

This show is all about time being the biggest factor where the first two rounds done in a quick way will save up time to add to the final round for the cake round. The setup goes as such where 4 teams of two start the competition. The judges give the first two rounds theme and requirements at the beginning over a 3 hour cooking time. The first is a cupcake, the second is a confection. When all four teams have completed the cupcake, the judges deliberate on who gets eliminated while the teams make the confections. After the confection round, the judges share who gets eliminated and the final two teams hear the theme of their cake round as well as how much total time they have. The team with more time starts first whereas the second team watches and waits for their cue to start.

Looking at the structure of Sugar Rush, it sure seems like a brutal feeling for the teams especially in the first two rounds. Mostly because sometimes a team can be fast and be almost even done their confection but then be eliminated. Its quite sad to see but then the teams all do show a great deal of creativity and skills and that is best showed off in a restrained time frame. It is about finding a balance and weighing the risks with each creation. For that, the structure is solid and possibly one of the competitions that I don’t have many issues in that regards as it feels engaging to watch especially with time as the element which, bar a few baking technical issues, the teams fate was related to their own ambitiousness and how much time they had left.

If we look at the judges and the host along with its guests throughout the eight episodes in the first season, they have quite a few known names. Probably not related to baking directly but more “everyday” people instead of the judges who are experts in their own fields whether in baking or cupcakes or confections or sweets in general. Of course, “everyday” because who would call Betsy Johnson an everyday person, right? Just a quick example. However, it adds this normalcy to the show making it focusing not only on the taste but also the creativity behind the projects feeling like there is this well-rounded look at each baking creation. Candace Nelson and Adriano Zumbo also complement each other well enough. At the same time, I personally thought Hunter March did a great job at being an energetic and dynamic host for the show. I went away remembering the unique way he emphasized “ten thousand dollars” so that was really fun.

Overall, Sugar Rush is a fun baking competition. There are some great pieces made here. These are professional bakers with most of them having their own business or working in the industry one way or another. The judges are experts in their fields whereas the guests are also quite good with their critiques and comments and had a good mix of being part of the industry and some more celebrity and different fields. Its a nice balance of each human element. In terms of structure, it truly embraces the time element being its biggest factor and keeps that in mind. Time also adds this nerve wracking element to any competition as its always present but this one also gives a bit of control to how much time is saved in the hands of its competitors which is a nice twist.

Definitely looking forward to a second season of Sugar Rush and hoping it happens although I don’t recall seeing any news as of yet. If you do know whether its happening that I missed, do tell me in the comments. 🙂

What’s Up #15

What’s Up hasn’t been around for too long and it has its rough patch but we are at the last What’s Up for 2018. Next year, the structure will have its own polish and I’ll talk about it later on. I still have a few little decisions to make about it to work out.

Let’s just get started!

READING

  • A Kiss For Christmas by Melody Grace (review)

Currently reading: The Slippery Slope ( A Series of Unfortunate Events #10)

You can just read the review for A Kiss For Christmas. The only thing I have to add if you didn’t read the review is that I am done with contemporary romance for a bit (like at least a year if not more). However, moving on to better things, I am back to reading A Series of Unfortunate Events and moving on to Book 10 to get ready for Season 3 which launches on January 1st. Excitement is an understatement. Plus, these books are thoroughly entertaining and amusing.

PLAYING

unravel 2

  • Unravel 2

Currently playing: Bound

Its the holidays. I have a whacky and rather out of the ordinary busy work schedule this week but the husband and I recently picked up Unravel 2 (which I’ll talk about as pre-boxing day deals in an upcoming post) so we got to playing that this weekend. Its short but the coop aspect is super fun. We are still working on the challenges which are pretty challenging ( as expected). Review for that in the new year while I edit all the playthrough for the channel. January is going to be busy so editing overtime to get things sorted out in advance. Still one more Game Warp podcast in editing right now and should release soon. In the meantime, you can also go and check out our latest podcast sharing our Top 10 Games Played in 2018.

WATCHING

  • Ellen DeGeneres: Relatable
  • Dreamworks Home: For the Holidays (review)
  • Trolls Holiday (review)
  • Christmas Wedding Planner (review)

I am a huge Ellen DeGeneres fan. I love watching The Ellen Show snippets online. It goes without saying that I had my eyes on Relatable launching on Netflix and started it up the day it released. It is a pretty fun time. I like Ellen’s humor for the most part. A few bits didn’t land quite as effectively but it is still a fun time with lots of laughs.

As for Christmas marathon, which is officially over as this goes up, its Trolls Holiday that brought a lot of musical fun even if it wasn’t exactly a Christmas movie but more of a holidays sort of thing.

BINGING

sugar rush

  • Sugar Rush (Season 1) – Rewatch
  • Happy Do Re Mi (Season 1)

Currently binging: The Inn (Season 2), Who’s the Murderer (Season 4),  Meteor Garden 2018 (rewatch), An Oriental Odyssey (rewatch)

A lot of the same going on in binging. I have way too many TV binges that I haven’t written and want to write so I’m taking on some time to rewatch and buy some time. Its not a bad thing as it does give me a better perspective the second time around. I’ve polished up the TV binge segment a little over this year so I like the structure of how to approach it now which helps a lot in making them easier to write. With that said, the main rewatch this week is Sugar Rush. I always love rewatching cooking and baking shows so it was a ton of fun. At the same time, Happy Do Re Mi finished this past Saturday. Its been a fun time and I’ll do a little overview of it as well.

In terms of current ongoing stuff, The Inn should end soon from what I’ve seen in social media. As for Who’s the Murderer, I’m picking up a lot of the clues now and starting to get involved as I watch to figure out who I think is the murderer and making some good assumptions. Its both a really involving experience whether its about thinking about life in general or deciphering the cases.

That’s it for What’s Up in 2018!
Thanks so much for being here! I know that my segment changed from written to videos to written again!
There’s a lot of polish to do for this segment so bear with me as we head into 2019 in the next one.

What’s Up #14

 

READING

Stinky Santa

  • Stinky Santa by Otto Fishblanket (review)

Currently reading: A Kiss For Christmas

Reading has been light to say the list since I read a kid’s book for last week. The next one that I chose, A Kiss For Christmas is having a rough start because its a genre that I want to leave behind but it happens to be the only book in my Kindle that is Christmas-themed. So it’ll have to do. No problem, right? We’ll see if the review for A Kiss For Christmas actually gets released by next week’s What’s Up since its three short stories.

 

PLAYING

Gaming is slowly getting back on track. The sales are coming in for the holidays and we’re trying hard at our place to pick up some games at decent prices but also not go crazy since the to be played list is still pretty huge. However, the playthrough for Remember Me has resumed on the channel and the review is already up. We have lots of outstanding things to take care of for Game Warp and I’m working hard on doing that while also diving into something new like She Remembered Caterpillars which constantly gets me stumped in the puzzles. So that game is in sporadic doses. Other than that it is mobile games and I will reveal all that for the mobile games round-up for December.

If you want to check out more game reviews from Game Warp, you can check out the Youtube channel HERE or the blog HERE. Year in Review 2018 and Top 10 Games Played is currently in editing phase so we will have a new podcast episode released this week and probably the next one as well to wrap up the year.

WATCHING

  • Super Monsters and the Wish Star (review)
  • A StoryBots Christmas (review)
  • The Christmas Chronicles
  • John Wick: Chapter 2
  • Ready Player One

Its been a busy week in terms of movie watching. I took a little break and put two shorter Christmas animated specials from Netflix. Its a nice little change in pace to do a double feature. With that said, we finally did get around to watching Christmas Chronicles. The review for that is coming up. I liked it quite a bit. Then there were two movie rentals expiring so we watched John Wick: Chapter 2 and Ready Player One which both exceeded my expectations. I’ll have those reviews up after Christmas probably since we’re about to head into the daily Christmas hurrah with the final 5 days countdown to Christmas day. It was a good week for movies 🙂

BINGING

An Oriental Odyssey

  • An Oriental Odyssey
  • A Love So Beautiful (rewatch)

Currently binging: The Inn, Who’s the Murderer, Happy Do Re Mi, My Little One

And An Oriental Odyssey finally finished last Friday, leaving me with this empty feeling. I currently ended up restarting it because I have a crazy idea for next year and of course, I love to add and expand so I’m just using it to not only fill my void but to see how time consuming something like this would be. Either way, I liked the series a lot. There’s a lot of debate among fans whether there will be a sequel. I’ll talk about my thoughts on it in the TV Binge (which I think might be next year because I’m structuring something new for the blog). The only deal is that I need to figure some way to angle it in and figure out what I might take out and how feasible the whole thing is. On that note, I’m refraining from starting anything new so I’ve been rewatching TV series. I know I’m going to take that all back when I post that I started something new. But for now, everything I’m watching currently is just weekly uploads on Hunan TV Official Channel. You can find it HERE. A lot of the variety and game shows do have English subtitles so check it out if you’d like.

That’s it for this What’s Up!
Last week was heavily Christmas focused and its going pretty good on that level.

What have you been reading/watching/binging/playing?

Christmas 2018 & TV Binge: Nailed It! Holiday! (Mini-series, 2018)

You can see reviews for the main seasons here:

Season 1
Season 2

Nailed It! Holiday! (2018)

nailed it holiday

Host: Nicole Byer & Jacques Torres

There are shows that talk about refined baking competitions and such but there is also a great joy in watching amateurs bake because its a learning curve and everyone has to start somewhere. Nailed It! has taken that concept and really excelled with it. Sure, Season 2 had its odd moments where it forgot what it was trying to do but overall, it still brought a lot of joy and laughter to some of the odd baking things that came out of some of these episodes. With that said, I was excited to see that Nailed It Holiday is now a thing. It keeps the same format, very much like the first one which focuses its first round on Baker’s Choice and its making smaller baking things like cookies, cake pops and cupcakes while its second round is the money maker, literally, because you can win $10,000 with  making a cake creation. This time we also see a hint of what might be potential new extension or a new direction for the show in the 7th episode as it escapes the baking realm and jumps into the DIY crafts realm. I’ll talk about that a little later as a final wrap-up discussion point.

Nailed It Holiday

Nailed It! Holiday! definitely did do exactly that. Its hilarious and a ton of fun. It themes itself around the different holidays during this winter season from a good few Christmas to simply winter themes to Hanukkah and takes us straight to a countdown to New Year’s. I’m guessing if you do watch this one or two episodes a week, you might actually reach New Year’s Eve to watch the countdown. The creations themselves are super nice. Its still very much difficulty but its always the how the choice of candidates in the competition that brings a lot of fun because of just how ridiculous some times these things turn out to be. At the same time, they add on a different special button in each one episode themed also around the holidays from unwrapping presents or untangling lights which also makes it fair because if they finish it during the 3 minutes, they can get back to their baking right away. Its a nice twist to the freeze button in the second round.

Nailed It Holiday

Nailed It has always seemed to want to divert away from its baking competition formula. And doing the DIY crafts route is a good one for sure. It might eventually also run out of topics at some point but it has its potential also. The one episode we had was definitely just a taste or maybe a market test in their own right to see how well received it is. I thought it was a fairly fun episode. I like to do DIY crafts as well so this was right up my alley. Crafts have the potential to go horribly wrong and they can also be pretty entertaining to watch as well. I would be down to see if they do a season of this especially of Nicole Byer continues to host.

Talking about that, the reason that Nailed It works despite whatever content they have is in part all the good creative things they do and finding the right type of participants and having a good angle, like this Holiday theme mini series. But the biggest reason is Nicole Byer. She is just the heart and life of this show. While Jacques Torres is a fun match for her, the crafts episode proves that she really can have the same dynamic with another host as well. Its her personality that makes it so fun to watch. Nailed It Holiday is a really fun season and I hope that they continue with this show, whether it be in baking (which I probably would prefer as it works well) or even if they expand to crafts.

TV Binge: The Final Table (Season 1, 2018)

The Final Table (Season 1, 2018)

The Final Table

Host: Andrew Knowlton

Global competitions should be the hook for Netflix in all kinds of competition simply because they have the opportunity and the resource to make them. It is why I was so excited to stary watching The Final Table. Well, and because I’m a foodie and love watching food related shows (which reminds me that I need to get back to Chef’s Table). The Final Table is just the debut season so there are some imperfections in execution overall but the concept itself is a good one. If there is enough popularity, it would be interesting to see how they can make certain changes to make it more polished to watch. Since I probably won’t find another place to write this, I think the host Andrew Knowlton does a great job and is a good fit for the show because he has the knowledge for it and the charisma to carry the show.

Just for a little basics, The Final Table starts off with teams of two cooks paired up by the chefs own choosing. They are all professional chefs in their own specialities and their different origins and backgrounds. Each episode is themed around one country. The first round consists of a national dish from said country set by the three ambassador judges, which usually includes two celebrities/public figures and one known critic from the specific country. The bottom three teams (until they reach the ending episodes) go into a final dish round where a legendary chef from the specified country will choose an ingredient known in that country to be the star of their next dish and the team considered the less refined for whatever reason will depart the competition. In the last finale, the Top 2 teams break up into individual competition again and the 4 competitors go head to head for the two rounds for the big finale.

The Final Table

Right away, the pros of this one is the country by country theme per episode. It helps people learn about other countries and their dishes and cultures as well as shows off some of their known celebrities. It seems like a pretty win win situation. At the same time, a few (if not more) of the chefs were on Chef’s Table so already associated with the show or known before so makes it more fun to watch in that regard. Some of the national dish choices are pretty surprising so its always nice for the unexpected and mystery element. That part of the structure works well and is well put together. Themed like that gives it a chance to hit a lot of other countries even after they get through all the countries associated with Netflix.

If we look at teams of two, that works pretty well also. It gives them a chance to learn from each other and encourages team work and adds the drama element. At the same time, it gives the chefs a chance to make a more elaborate dish and be strong in certain segments because of each of their different knowledge lending a hand to creating their version of the traditional dish or their knowledge of the ingredient and how to use it in their interpretation as well. If we look at the ambassadors and critics, I don’t have a lot of knowledge of a lot of foreign movies and such so obviously, I knew the USA celebrities the most and then some of them looked familiar and I knew some of the chefs because of Chef’s Table. I think that is part of the fun also as long as the judges themselves have knowledge in food and give constructive criticism.

So far, I’ve said a lot of pros of the show and it is a pretty good structure in its heart. However, I have this issue with how it changes from the teams to the individuals. Personally, if the final challenge was just the last team standing, that might be a little more reasonable. Or commit to it completely and do a half point of top 5 where we get to see the abilities of the individual chef for a few rounds to make it more engaging. At this point, its like a sudden drop to finish the show in a set amount of episodes where they drop a few teams in one shot to force a top 2 which gets siphoned into the finale which just automatically has three chefs removed. That part of the structure needs some work to see what sort of transition works better. If its too little episodes for the amount of teams, then cut 2 teams or something to make it work out. Whatever it is, that needs some work to not feel like the change comes and leaves too abruptly.

Overall, its a good idea and things work for the most part. There probably will be more polish to this if it gains its popularity. I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing another season of The Final Table.