Adventures & What’s Up – January 2023

Hello everyone! The first adventures & What’s Up of 2023 is here as I wrap up a bunch of small things. Not a whole lot going on in terms of adventures since its winter and our little baby isn’t vaccinated so yet again, mostly updates on a few things.

If you missed my Upcoming Plans for 2023, you can check that out HERE.

ADVENTURES

Baby Update

7 months old now! We had our “supposed to be 6 month but because of previous postponed” 7 months checkup. Triple V remains high on the baby curve as a bigger baby and everything is developmentally on track. He has a little bit of cradle cap or dandruff or something along those lines but not a big concern so far. Triple V is also eating an assortment of purees now which is really fun to see his reaction to the different flavors. He even had his first snow picture and since January was rather snowy, we’ve had a few uses for his snowsuit. He’s definitely getting stronger day by day and its so nice to see him grow a little more and learn more things. One of the big recent successes after the doctor’s follow-up appointment and her pointer which he took the change like a champ is that he is officially able to sleep through the nights and has a decent sleeping and wake-up schedule. He even got his first teeth. Last development goal that he reached is recently responding to his own name.

Letterboxd Year in Review

Letterboxd Year in Review always is a bit late and its pretty self-explanatory so here’s a quick look at that.

Avenue of Daydreams – 365 Challenge

I’m working on reviving the Avenue of Daydreams this year with a 365 Photo Challenge. I’ve been sharing it on a weekly basis on Instagram as well. Here are the weeks in January. I fall behind every once in a while but its been really fun to try to get a little more creative and push myself to explore the pro feature on the camera on my phone.

Hydroponic System

After a good bit of research and a final failed attempt at planting basil in our no sunlight house (or at least rarely sunlight comes in), we decided to get a hydroponic system. We got the Yoocaa 12 Pods Hydroponics Growing System and decided to give the first whirl to a herb garden. As we speak now, the mustard has germinated first and its only been about 4 days or so since we set it up. Fingers crossed it’ll work out. I’ll probably keep you all up to date with that here (and also acts as a notes for myself since I have horrible memory now).

February Romance Month

Normally, February is our Romance month. I have to admit that I’ve been pretty bad at keeping up with the marathons but I will try to get some reviews up for this one. No guarantees on how many movies but I do have a decent list compiled even if I’m pretty sure I won’t get through all of it and review them all before Valentine’s comes around. Maybe I will just do it for a month-long event and get some romance instead of the overabundance of crime, suspense and horror that I keep watching.

WHAT’S UP

Books

  • Mr. Nosey
  • Mr. Topsy-Turvy
  • Mr. Bump
  • The Queen Who Stole The Sky
  • Mr. Messy
  • The Berenstain Bears’ Moving Day
  • Love You Forever

Another month of children’s books despite really wanting to start an actual book. Good thing is that as I’m writing up this post, my Kindle is on charge plus after watching a TV series for a book I read last year, it changed my mind and I bought the remaining two books of that trilogy which I plan to start after a book review commitment. Its actually really fun re-reading books from my childhood that I’m passing on to my little guy now. He might not understand any of it but he’s starting to look at me when I read especially when I make weird sound effects for some of the things within my limited ability.

Movies

  • Roadgames (1981)
  • Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical (2022 Review)
  • Perfect Blue (1997 Review)
  • Jimmy O. Yang: Good Deal (2020)
  • Freaky (2020)
  • Kairo (2001 rewatch, Review)
  • To All The Boys I’ve Love Before (2018 rewatch, Review)
  • Project Wolf Hunting (2022, Review)
  • Fall (2022)
  • A Cinderella Story (2004 rewatch)
  • Russell Peters: Deported (2020)
  • Everything Everywhere All At Once (2022)
  • The Wandering Earth 2 (2023, Review)
  • Ponyo (2008 rewatch)

Its been a pretty fun month in terms of movie watching with quite a bit of variety. To be fair, I didn’t watch a lot of movies since I was absolutely obsessed with Matilda the Musical so had it in the background constantly. I did catch up on a lot of films that I’ve been meaning to watch for a while like Perfect Blue and rewatched Kairo with the husband and taking advantage of the wonderful MUBI deal I got. I did get a couple of screeners, one was a lot better than the other. I did manage to catch Everything Everywhere All At Once after multiple recommendations especially co-host listing it as his top first time watch of last year, much like Roadgames which also made it on his Top 10. If you haven’t listened to that episode on Movies and Tea, you can check it out HERE.

Basically, January is always a bit like this every year where I want to sort out what to review in the backlog while working out the upcoming year so working through a lot more TV or rewatches instead of starting something new.

TV

  • Pressure Cooker (Season 1, 2023)
  • Wonderland Junior (Season 1, 2022)
  • Line Walker 2: The Prelude (2017)
  • The Circle (Season 5)
  • Bake Squad ( Season 2)
  • The Summer I Turned Pretty (Season 1, 2022)
  • Line Walker 3: Bull Fight (2020)

Currently binging: Night on the Greater Bay S2, Physical:100, Drunken to Love You, Lockwood & Co., The Last Of Us

I’ve been catching a lot of reality shows on Netflix. The beginning of the year has been pretty packed with a lot of these shows from Pressure Cooker to Bake Squad and the latest season of The Circle. I also signed up for the Amazon Prime trial so caught up with The Summer I Turned Pretty which I had reviewed the book (Review) last year and as mentioned in the “Books” section above, I ended up buying the sequels and it kind of changed my mind a little on the story. Its rare that the adaptation is what changes my mind but somehow it did in this case especially since it was renewed for Season 2. The big triumph and focus was to finish the second and third season of Line Walker and boy, it was a crazy ride. Line Walker 2 and 3 aren’t nearly as great as the first one but it still has some great moments and such a solid central cast.

Games

  • Doors: Origins
  • Doors: Paradox

Currently playing: The Gunk, Alt-Frequencies

I believe I mentioned last month that I picked up the Google Play Pass for peanuts so I’ve been focusing on that mostly. I ended up finishing the Doors: Origins and Doors: Paradox which is so creative. Its a mobile game but I had a ton of fun figuring out the puzzles and such. I’ve moved on to Alt-Frequencies on my phone which is one that I’m definitely going to talk more about when I’m done as the game mechanics, premise and concept are all very creative and a very unique gaming mechanic and experience. Aside from that, I’m still waiting to get back to finish The Gunk but January has been a wild month so didn’t have time to get back to Game Pass just yet.

That’s it for this month’s adventures and What’s Up!
What have you been up to?

Adventures & What’s Up – December 2022 + 2022 Overview

Hello everyone! As we enter the last day of 2022, its time for the adventures post which is honestly more of a general update. We will get through that quickly, jump into the What’s Up which is a little more and wrap things up with the 2022 Wrap-Up! A quick rundown just in case you are here for only the Wrap-Up for 2022. If you are, just scroll all the way down and skip all of my other nonsense. Let’s go!

ADVENTURES & Wrap-Up (More Like Updates)

Retiring of Photo Challenge Posts

For those joining now, this blog started out as a photography blog. I started most of my blogging doing daily prompts and weekly photo challenges. However, the years have gone by and my blog is running very low on storage space and trying to not buy more space, I have decided to retire the photo challenge posts. If you want to follow my photography (and other creative outlet), its on Avenue of Daydreams.

If you go there now, I haven’t posted since October 2021 but it will be back in 2023. I will talk more about that in the 2023 Upcoming Plans post.

Baby Update

Triple V entered his 6 months in December. As he goes through some funky times with what we think might be the beginning stages of teething and some random babble, he’s definitely starting to recognize people more and realizing when he sees strangers aka family that we haven’t seen frequently and feeling either shy or scared. He’s starting to be stronger with more tummy time and baby gym activity time, a pretty routine sleep schedule even if he doesn’t sleep throughout the night very often. He even started with eating starter cereals and beginner purees.

Time sure flies by as we watch him grow up day by day and becoming curious with everything around him. It sure feels like those baby safety gates are going to be put up soon as well as getting on with babyproofing the house.

Christmas, Gifts & Boxing Day Haul

Christmas celebrations happened before the main event this year as we couldn’t go for the evening festivities due to the early bedtime for Triple V so only dropped by for the afternoon at my in-laws. We celebrated with my mom on Christmas day for lunch as well. Still, it was pretty neat to see family since we’ve been keeping to ourselves since the pandemic started then my pregnancy in pandemic times so this year, while we were cautious, we still wanted to keep in our family bubble since Triple V isn’t vaccinated yet.

There’s no surprise that Triple V was the main winner in this department with new clothes from the grandparents and a generous collective gift of a jumperoo. On our front, we got the reasonable gift of some French storybooks since we have an abundance of English ones handed down from me. He also got a new walker from his grand aunt. On my front, I truly felt like a mom as all my gifts are very grown-up from my mom gifting me noodles (it was a joke so that we could fluff up the Christmas tree to look like it had more gifts to have better pictures) and a Christmas tablecloth (which I actually don’t have one considering all the Christmas decorations we have) and a white wine (which is currently in storage because I’m not really drinking yet since I’m still breastfeeding).

Boxing Day this year, much like Black Friday, was a huge disappointment. There wasn’t any incredibly good deals. We basically only picked up things that we needed and had some type of discount. As for other things, we kept those expenses at a minimum. We didn’t actually do any day off shopping since we only went to the grocery store to restock.

  • Michael’s: Picture Collage Frames *3 (for the new family/baby photos)
  • Roots: Baby Clothes (for Triple V and gifts)
  • Yves Rocher: Skincare products
  • Steam: Cris Tales, Emily is Away <3, Far From Noise, Oure
  • Playstation: Just Shapes & Beats
  • Amazon (caught the tail end of the Boxing Day sale): Sippy Cup, Bodyweight Scale, Cat Water Fountain, Diapers
  • Google Play Pass (super sweet deal for first month free and 3 months after that at 69 cents/month)

WHAT’S UP

BOOKS

  • The Very Best Christmas Present
  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
  • Alvin and the Chipmunks: Merry Christmas Mr. Caroll!
  • Mr. Snow
  • Mr. Silly
  • A Grouch’s Christmas
  • Mr. Sneeze

Currently reading: City of Ember

Surprising that its all children’s books, right? Of course not! That’s all my reading time is nowadays. As you can see that I’m trying to get back into some normal reading as I did start City of Ember.

MOVIES

  • The Blob (1988)
  • Highwaymen (2004)
  • Dazed and Confused (1993)
  • Warriors of Future (2022 Review)
  • The Sparring Partner (2022 Review)
  • Big Brother (2018 rewatch, Review)
  • John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017 rewatch, Review)
  • Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio (2022)
  • It Takes Two (1995 rewatch)
  • Into the Deep: The Submarine Murder Case (2020)
  • Pulse (2006 rewatch)
  • I Believe In Santa (2022)
  • Scrooge: A Christmas Carol (2022)
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966 rewatch, Review)
  • Christmas With You (2022)
  • The Christmas Chronicles (2018 rewatch, Review)
  • A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965 rewatch, Review)
  • The Small One (1978 rewatch, Review)
  • Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983 rewatch, Review)
  • The Polar Express (2004 rewatch, Review)
  • Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (2022, Review)

An absolutely fantastic movie viewing month. Not so much a great writing month as writing reviews seem to be getting harder and harder or its just I’m picking the wrong movies. A lot of rewatches this month as well. I’ve been trying to keep on top of the Netflix new releases so those reviews will go out even if its in 2023. However, I was so excited after watching Glass Onion that you can already check out my thoughts on that.

TV

  • Snack vs. Chef
  • Crime Scene: The Texas Killing Fields (Limited series)
  • Wednesday (Season 1, 2022 rewatch)
  • Too Hot To Handle (Season 4)
  • Cook At All Costs (Season 1)
  • Dance Monsters (Season 1)
  • Emily in Paris (Season 3)
  • Line Walker (使徒行者, 2014)

Currently watching: Meteor Garden (rewatch), The Circle S5

Trash TV, cooking and reality shows seems to be the highlight of December. However, Dance Monsters is a super fun show that just got its finale right at the end of December. Snack vs. Chef is pretty fun as cooks replicate popular snacks and candy bars while Cook At All Costs was pretty fun as well. On the contrary, Emily in Paris felt like a lot of the same which is still fun but its getting a little repetitive. If they get a Season 4, maybe the finale of the 3rd will change the dynamic. We continued with watching the latest Crime Scene which looked at The Texas Killing Fields were was a pretty good documentary. These limited series always uses a case to cast light on a bigger societal problem. Finally, as of today, I finished Line Walker which is Hong Kong series from 2014 which I of course missed since I haven’t watched HK series in many many years. This one is seriously really awesome ( you will see how awesome in the recap before).

I’m taking a little break from Chinese variety shows right now as I started too many and need to sort out which I want to continue watching.

GAMES

  • Tricky Towers (Single Player Trials) – in progress
  • Lake (2021, Review)
  • Doors: Awakening (2019)
  • Pinball FX

Currently playing: The Gunk, Doors: Origins

I’m slowly getting back to some gaming here and there. While my PC died, I was into playing Tricky Towers (Single Players Trials) and I’m still working on that but its fairly sporadic so there’s not really an end to that one, much like Pinball FX which doesn’t have an end either.

Putting the Google Play Pass to work, I finished playing Doors: Awakening and working through all the Doors games on mobile which I had played before but they were only partially free and charged money for the second half of the levels. I don’t like that mobile game business model so I never entertain it. So now, the situation is a little different with the Play Pass. Its a fun puzzle game

Finally, I played Lake which is something of a postal worker simulator with story and narrative choices. Its honestly a hidden gem since it blends in a lot of relaxing moments and dives into a pretty fun small town story. I did start The Gunk and is probably about halfway through (based on my playtime and the How Long To Beat average) but its a really good one. There’s some exploration and resources and crafting and adventure. I’ll talk more about it after I’ve finished, possibly in a review.

2022 WRAP-UP

Much like last year, we are foregoing the blog site statistics. Let’s face it, its not going to look pretty with things going back to normal, the numbers so a great drop before steadying again and I never really did it for the numbers. Plus, life changes with a newborn in mid-June did throw off the rhythm even more than when I was going through my pregnancy and choosing sleeping earlier over stressing out over blogging at unreasonable hours. The posting rhythm is coming back slowly but I’m pretty sure it will never be where it used to be a few years ago.

With that said, lets look at some other numbers:

  • TOTAL FILMS WATCHED: 213 films (2 less than last year only!)
    • 34 rewatches
    • 41 short films
  • TOTAL BOOKS READ: 17 books (majority of it are children’s books)
  • TOTAL TV SERIES BINGED: 92 seasons binged (3 rewatches)
    • Japan: 1
    • Hong Kong: 1
    • Taiwanese: 2
    • Korean: 3
    • Documentary: 12
    • Mainland China: 13
    • Chinese Variety Shows: 14
    • American Reality Shows: 20
    • American: 26
Top 10 First Time Watches
  1. Knives Out
  2. Deep Rising
  3. Turning Red
  4. Time
  5. Profile
  6. Underwater
  7. Tokyo Godfathers
  8. MexZombies
  9. Waitress
  10. Love and Leashes

Top 10 TV Seasons

  1. Light The Night
  2. The Silent Sea
  3. Wednesday (Season 1)
  4. Line Walker
  5. All of Us Are Dead
  6. Who Rules The World
  7. Shining For One Thing
  8. Mr. Bad
  9. Boo, Bitch (Limited Series)
  10. Mom, Don’t Do That

Overall, it was surprisingly steady in terms of numbers. Last year I didn’t do the specific breakdowns so not sure whether short film to full length ration was similar. Books increased a lot mostly because I read tiny short children’s books but then I did read a Dr. Seuss compilation books and that’s 13 stories as 1 book entry. I’m not here to get all picky with the numbers. I didn’t expect anything to be even close to these numbers so that’s already shocking enough for me.

A quick look at last year’s plans/goals:

  1. Goodreads Reading Challenge: 15 books surpassed at 17 (even if I did cheat a little with children’s books)
  2. Podcast launch: Did not happen (will address that soon)
  3. Partial Revival of Disney and Studio Ghibli project: Mostly did not happen, only one post for Porco Rosso went up
  4. Personal Goals: Eat healthier is slowly getting there, Did not stream at all, 98% done for nursery and 90% done for office (just some filing left to do)

In the foreseeable future, streaming services will be my best friend and I will be focusing on new releases on Netflix, Shudder and Amazon Prime with Netflix being the main priority. However, these are considered upcoming plans and I will talk about more of that tomorrow!

Remember to head back for the Upcoming Plans 2023 tomorrow!
Happy New Year’s Eve!!

Adventures & What’s Up – November 2022

ADVENTURES (more like updates)

Baby Update

November brings in Triple V’s postponed 4 months followup with ended up being at 4.5 months. Everything seems to be doing good. He’s definitely developed a lot this past month especially in learning things on his own. He’s figured out rolling over on both sides which helps since he likes to sleep on his side and tummy and we are at a stage that I no longer can correct it to his back. He is learning how to sit with little support and for the most part its ok. He also recently figured out how to self-soothe. What we are working on now is getting him to nap a little more efficiently without all the resistance.

2nd Booster Shot

After last month’s scare with the husband catching COVID and the whole quarantine, once things settled down on my front, I set up the appointment for the 2nd booster shot to make sure I have the necessary protection for Triple V’s sake. Surprisingly, this booster shot was the most smooth as other than massive muscle pains the night of the shot, that was the extent of my discomfort.

Visit From My Cousin

In these post-pandemic days, due to our newborn, we still live mostly cautiously as much as possible. My cousin who happened to have a baby the exact same day as Triple V also is super cautious but had something important to come into town so dropped by to see the family and it was nice. Fun times to catch up and talk about our babies.

NaNoWriMo and Podcast

Its been years since I’ve done NaNoWriMo but this year I decided about 10 days into the month to use it as a kick in the behind to get some scripting and outline done for the podcast project which I had wanted to launch this year and decided that 2023 would be a good start. I might not have gotten anywhere near 50K but I did get a full 2 episodes drafted out and after a change in strategy have the beginning of a bunch of other episodes as well. The start is the hardest for most of my stuff so getting that out of the way is already a big deal. It doesn’t really matter how many words, the goal was to have something done since this project now the same as before and even the finished stuff still has some additions to add to it. Its all part of a big plan to hopefully minimize the final editting and be more time efficient. The necessary editing work will probably still need to be done but I can at least try.

Blood in the Snow Film Festival

The final film festival of the year always goes to Blood In The Snow Film Festival. While the festival is done, I am still working on getting the reviews done as nearing the end of the festival, a technical snag happened…which I will talk about in the next part (which is also why this post is coming out late). All the reviews can be found in the Movies tab above under the subsection of BITS under Festivals.

PC Blue Screen Of Death

Yeah…My PC got the Blue Screen of Death and actually died. Its just an endless loop of bsod and restart. I am waiting for my friend to have time to help me take a look to see whether we can save it somehow. You will notice that my writing has dropped and is less fancy and such but between an outdated slow Chromebook and my phone WordPress app, its really slowing down the efficiency. I am slowly getting used to it so hopefully will get a bunch of stuff done soon.

Holidays Marathon Soon

Theres no argument that Christmas and holiday films are getting a tad thin. I am working through some of the Netflix stuff as I wait for more Christmas releases. With that said, it probably won’t get going until maybe next week or 10 days before Christmas. Its still going to happen but like last year (I believe), just a tad later.

WHAT’S UP

Books

  • The Magic Is In You
  • Your Favorite Seuss: A Baker’s Dozen by the One and Only Dr. Seuss
  • Starry Starry Night
  • The Fragrant Garden
  • Good Night Moon
  • Calvin and Hobbes
  • Plus a bunch of kids books: Little Critters, Berenstain Bears, etc.

Its not hard to see where things are going in terms of reading. Although with the PC not working, it might be on the rise again. Its either books or games that I plan to give more time after I get all the writing stuff done (if the PC isn’t fixed yet) or simply a mix of both since there’s one more month and super behind with the Goodreads Challenge.

On the reading front, its been awesome rereading books and also reading new kids books that I have never read before so Triple V and I are discovering things together even if he doesn’t know it yet.

Movies

  • Fortune Feimster: Good Fortune (2022)
  • Enola Holmes 2 (2022)
  • Midnight at the Magnolia (2020)
  • Reclaim (一家之主, 2020 Review)
  • Falling For Christmas (2022)
  • Last Christmas (2021)
  • Tokyo Godfathers (2003)

BITS 2022

  • The Protector (2022)
  • BITS 2022 Mournful Mediums Shorts Program (Review)
  • BITS 2022 Emerging Screams Shorts Program (Review)
  • L’Inhumain (The Inhuman, 2021)
  • Residents of Arcadia (2021 Review)
  • Shifted (2022 Review)
  • BITS 2022: Funny Frights & Unusual Sights Shorts Program
  • BITS 2022: Pre-Feature Shorts (Review)
  • Cult Hero (2022 Review)
  • Cryo (2022)
  • The Devil Comes At Night (2022 Review)
  • Dark Nature (2022 Review)

Due to the festival, its been a pretty busy movie month. My feeling about Blood in the Snow Festival was that the shorts were mostly a ton of fun and creativity where as a lot of the films were pretty slow burn bar a few that were just wild. There was a nice progression in the programming since I started with The Protector which was rather slow and ended on Cult Hero which was just a downright wild ride. There are a lot of really good premise for the films.

As for the non-festival films, its no surprise that I caught Enola Holmes 2 the first few days it landed since I probably have rewatched the first one 10 times at this point. I started watching some Christmas stuff to make some headway for the holiday marathon right around the corner and it has to do with us decorating for Christmas in mid-November usually. Finally watching Tokyo Godfathers as it was going to leave Netflix in December so took care of that the moment I realized and it was such an odd and awesome film.

TV

  • Call Me By Fire 披荊斬棘 S2
  • Love In Time 我的秘密室友 (2022)
  • Heart Signal 心動的信號 S4
  • Unsolved Mysteries: Volume 3 (2022)
  • Guillermo Del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities (2022)
  • Hello Summer – Relationship 相遇的夏天S4 (2022)
  • Dating in the Kitchen 我 喜歡你 (2020)
  • Rock & Roast 脫口秀大會S5
  • Wednesday (Season 1, 2022)

Currently binging: Our Fiery Life 我們的滾燙人生 S2, See You Again 再見愛人S2, Singing With Legends我們的歌S4, Snack Vs Chef (Season 1)

I’m kind of surprised how many shows ended the past month but it does make sense since I am now not watching as much TV either. Skipping past the Chinese variety shows, Love in Time is pretty good and its adapted from a Taiwanese series. I did start that series but my iQiyi sub ended and I am taking a break from that since its a tad pricey to have all these subs. Waiting for a deal before resubbing. My main feeling is that the Taiwanese one has better acting  Love In Time has a good premise and adaptation but the main leads really leave something to desire. On the other hand, Dating in the Kitchen adapted from film This Is Not What I Expected is pretty fun and it has lots of cooking so I’m there for it.

On the Netflix front, Cabinet of Curiosities is coming up on Movies and Tea but I thought it was overall really good and highlighted some great directors. Wednesday is also a great series. I haven’t watched Addams Family since my age was in the single digits so I honestly remember nothing but I love the humor and the script.

Games

  • Subnautica
  • Mahjong Solitaire
  • Reigns: 3 Kingdoms

All currently playing games. I had started Subnautica as it left Game Pass middle of November but really liked it a bunch so caught it on the Steam Autumn Sale on half price bundled with the Below Zero amd decided to pick it up before the PC died. Once the PC is better, I should get back to it. I have to start over since I played on different platforms but at least I know what I am doing this time around.

As for the other two games, they are both Netflix games. I had started Mahjong Solitaire probably last month but forgot to talk about it since its just my relaxing sporadic game. I am excited to play more of Reigns 3 Kingdoms since I have played most of the Reigns game and really do love the concept. This one is set in China during 3 Kingdoms time and work up to Emperor so should be fun. Literally just started so probably have a good many deaths before creating any type of tracting and impact.

Adventures & What’s Up – October 2022

ADVENTURES

Hiking: Parc National du Mont Saint Bruno – Seigneurial Trail

Baby Update

Triple V is moving along quite nicely. He likes to remind us in his own ways that he will always keep us on our toes when he gives us false belief that he is falling into a routine and then changes it up right when we think we got it down. As I’m typing up this post, his favorite activity at night is rolling over from his back to sleep on his tummy and doesn’t realize that he got it all backwards and apparently most babies learn how to roll from tummy to back first but he haven’t quite mastered this 100%, more like 10%. 1 out of 10 times during tummy time, he will do it once and then forget how he did it or maybe it was all a coincidence of the right motions. Who knows, right? I’d wager that he probably doesn’t even know.

4 months vaccinations also came around and while he reacted much more this time, he was a pretty decent champ about it and settled down fairly quickly. No side effects and was overall pretty good afterwards other than some sporadic fussiness.

Our 4 months checkup got postponed for some unknown reason the morning we were supposed to go after confirming the day before. Very bizarre. We have some questions for the doc this time as we’re starting to wonder whether he’s ready for solids soon among other things.

We did a fun little Halloween photoshoot at home with a little fluffy pumpkin outfit. I’m not going to share it here but it turned out pretty nice.

Toronto After Dark Film Festival 2022

Toronto After Dark Film Festival was an extremely last minute decision that I signed up to give it a go as my first film festival coverage after having the baby. Its only a few days long and it offers the remote coverage option which I do love. They had some great feature films and short films this year. All my coverage is already up other than one that was requested for the review to go up a little later so you should see it soon. You can head over to my Toronto After Dark Archives to find it if you missed it.

COVID-19 Self-Isolation

As we are typing this up, my husband finally got COVID positive. I’m negative so I can still take care of Triple V. However, we have him quarantined in his so-called man cave so at least among all the sickness, other than having a crappy sofa to sleep on, he has all the entertainment he needs. Its been kind of a one woman show at our house. Luckily, its at the tail end of it now and we’re almost out of the self-quarantine for him and self-isolation for us.

Halloween Marathon Wrap-Up

Finally, October ends with the Halloween Marathon wrap-up! The very very sad turnout of this year really came down to just lacking motivation to write up some of the reviews because of fatigue and dealing with an inconsistent baby. I figured it wouldn’t look too huge of a catalogue even if I started early. While the marathon has ended, I will be getting those last few horror films reviewed and finish up those TV shows I had planned to watch. You will see which ones in the What’s Up section below!

WHAT’S UP

Books

I’m not going to lie, the only books I’m reading are board books and children’s books right now. I’ve gone through this Little Critters Collection that my husband’s coworker gifted to Triple V. We’re reading some early readers board books from Dr. Seuss and also my Dr. Seuss Favorites: Baker’s Dozen. That’s the general name of the collection and we’ve gone through quite a few stories since we have a little reading slot in the afternoon usually. Also, The Monster At The End of the Book and this French one that I got from some Easter thing when I was young called L’ami de Pan-Pan, I think. Triple V understands none of it but he does like to look at the pictures, some more than others.

Movies

  • Hocus Pocus 2 (2022, Review)
  • Avengers: Endgame (2019)
  • Home Again (2017)
  • The Night House (2020)
  • Patti Cake$ (2017, Review)
  • Mary Poppins (1964 rewatch)
  • Nightmare Alley (2021)
  • Mulan (2020)
  • Prey (2022)
  • The Good Dinosaur (2015)
  • Big Ass Spider (2013)
  • Sing (2016)
  • The Lair (2022, Review)
  • Day Zero (2022, Review)
  • Canadian Shorts After Dark (Review)
  • International Shorts After Dark (Review)
  • Pre-Feature Shorts (Review)
  • The Secret Life of Pets (2016)
  • MexZombies (2022, Review)
  • Evil Eye (2022, Review)

Man, it was a busy month in movies. I actually spent a lot of time catching up on Disney Plus. The mad dash until the monthly subscription ended. I managed to catch up on the Phase 3 of Marvel Cinematic Universe with only Spider-Man: Far From Home left which is miraculously still on Netflix so will get around to wrap that up ASAP. However, surprisingly enjoyed Avengers: Endgame. Nightmare Alley was a little unexpected in a not so good way while Night House was a fantastic horror film that I’m halfway through the review. Live-action Mulan was also better than I expected much The Good Dinosaur which is a pretty underrated Pixar film in my opinion. I already talked about the Toronto After Dark stuff in the Adventures section above.

TV

  • The Floor Is Lava (Season 3, 2022)
  • Nailed It! Halloween (Season 7, 2022)
  • Great Escape 密室大逃脫 (Season 4, 2022)
  • Beautiful Youth (2019 rewatch)
  • Easy-Bake Battle: The Home Cooking Competition (Season 1, 2022)
  • Mr. Bad 我的反派男友
  • Dahmer (Incomplete, 2022)
  • Drink Masters (Season 1, 2022)

Currently binging: 101 Scariest Movie Moments of All Time, Singing With Legends我們的歌 S5, Heart Signal 心動的信號S4, Rock & Roast 脫口秀大會S5, Hello Summer Relationship 相遇的夏天S4, Love Between Fairy and Devil 蒼蘭決, Unsolved Mysteries Volume 3, The Watcher, Call Me By Fire 披荊斬棘的哥哥 S2

Suffice to say that it sure looks like I’m knee deep in TV but to be honest, a lot of these are heading into their final episode this or next week. The main highlights worth talking about is probably the new Netflix shows. I always love watching Nailed It and their latest season is kind of a cross platform promotion using Halloween as their basis for some more Halloween outfit worthy shows like The Witcher and Cobra Kai. Its a pretty short season but still very enjoyable. The Floor is Lava is always fun to watch. Its kind of the next best thing since they stopped doing Ultimate Beastmaster. Next is the latest competition show around mixology Drink Masters which was a super fun competition. I mean, the creativity and the technique was not just competitive but learned a lot about the mixology terms and spirits, etc. I’m a big fan of Antoni on Queer Eye so it was enough for me to love Easy-Bake Battle which I think was a pretty creative one since it focused around cooking hacks and was all about homecooking. Finally a cooking show which is useful in my everyday life!

After all that, I guess I should address two shows on the list. The first being Dahmer which I watched about 2 episodes and decided that I’m not going to finish it. Its a rare choice for myself but call me sensitive after having a baby but it disturbed me quite a bit plus I also find the whole concept of making a show based on these events rather distasteful. I can watch these things as documentaries but making a show about it just seems wrong. You can tell me I’m wrong but hey, my husband finished watching it and also found it unnecessary and wasn’t quite as spectacular as everyone that recommended us to watch it says it is.

On a happier note, I binge watched Mr. Bad on iQiYi. Its the perfect formula of what I love in TV dramas since the main leads are two of my favorite actors and actresses in the Chinese drama world plus the show has a nice premise and a decent twist. A pretty positive show and a positive look at relationships. I’m always about those and not the lack of communication and creating drama where there normally isn’t. This one is just sweet romance with their own hurdles because of their situation.

Games

Currently playing: Life is Strange: True Colors, Madison

I’m not exactly gaming as much as I should but I’m slowly playing a little when I get the chance. My main thing right now is finishing Life is Strange: True Colors which I finished the first episode. So far, there’s some nice ideas to it but you can still see how the developer change comes into play. Its just one chapter so I’m waiting for the next few episodes to see how it goes before making any opinions on it.

As for Madison, I am currently streaming this with my friend BrandelSavage on his Twitch channel. I’m really there to just hangout and help out and give some moral support when he gets scared. We already did 2 streams and due to the above situations that happened in adventures, the Halloween weekend stream got postponed. It should be coming up soon. So far, its an interesting horror game, we’re at a plot point that is a bit of a headscratcher so hopefully the game justifies it by the end.

That’s it for this Adventures and What’s Up for October 2022!
What have you been up to?

What’s Up & Adventures – September 2022

ADVENTURES

Halloween Marathon

Its the time of year again, even if I think its a bit hard to believe we’re already here. I’m going to admit right now that this may go very bad with very little output as mostly my sporadic lack of sleep does affect my writing efficiency. However, Halloween Marathon is something that I truly enjoy and with some changes in circumstances, via a one-month sub of a streaming service that I will talk about in the Movies section, I have some great choices to add to the line-up plus Netflix and Shudder has some nice stuff to watch as well. If you follow me on Letterboxd, you know what I’ve been watching and what reviews will be coming up. With that said, the first post for the marathon starts tomorrow. Expect TV binges and Double Features in the line-up.

Baby Update

Triple V has been quite a bundle this week as he passes his 3 months. For Chinese people, we like to celebrate 100 days so my mom got him some little gifts. On top of that, his 100 days also signified a change because he’s a whopping 15lbs now which means he can’t sleep in his bassinet anymore and had to be moved to the crib. The transition was the biggest highlight since we had just mastered some great sleeping habits in the bassinet to find that the transition to the crib felt almost like it was starting all over again, which was a little deflating on our already lack of sleep and slowly gaining back sleep stage. However, as I write this post, it was really only the first few nights with the first where Triple V decided he wanted to explore the ENTIRE space and started going in circles and then getting himself stuck and woke up and cried. A few days later, he is still doing it but all the trying to flip over and the getting stuck and waking up is done. He now wakes up mostly in desperate hunger and some weird need for attention in the early mornings but mostly he can go back to sleep fairly well or get himself out of the corner on his own. Slowly we will get there…

Exercise Update

Its been over 3 months so I’ve been taking longer walks now. I’m not jumping into intense exercising (not that I’ve done that in a long while) so its mostly morning and evening strolls with Triple V and they are gradually getting a bit longer. While I can’t remember to track everything, I still try to get one to two strolls a day nearby.

Broadwalk “Hiking” – Marais de la Rivieres aux Cerises

Marais de la Rivieres des Cerises

With the whole exercise chat, we decided that we would go for a little fall foliage since we seem to always miss it when we go during Thanksgiving. However, this year it seems everything is a little delayed so we were a tad early. There were some areas with a lot of trees that had changed colors but a lot of places that didn’t really have it yet. It was nice to take a little easy hike even we had already been here before (probably about a decade ago) but this time it was a little first road trip adventure with Triple V.

WHAT’S UP

Books

  • The Summer I Turned Pretty (Review)

Currently reading: Cress (The Lunar Chronicles #3), Kiki’s Delivery Service, Howl’s Moving Castle

Look at me and reading. I can’t really recommend The Summer I Turned Pretty and you can read all about it in the review. In terms of YA novel content, The Lunar Chronicles does a better job as Cinder is a stellar book and its sequel is passable so I decided to start that one up but then got attracted to my new purchases of Kiki’s Delivery Service (which I never read the source material before) and Howl’s Moving Castle (which I have but wanted to re-read). I should finish a part of that list during October, let’s hope.

Movies

  • Spirited Away (2001 rewatch)
  • The Reef: Stalked (2022)
  • Howl’s Moving Castle (2004 rewatch)
  • The Little Mermaid Live (2019)
  • Waitress (2007)
  • Hocus Pocus (1993 rewatch)
  • Mary Poppins Returns (2018 rewatch, review)
  • Sheng Wang: Sweet and Juicy (2022)
  • Death On The Nile (2022)
  • Turning Red (2022)
  • The Maze Runner (2014 rewatch, review)
  • Do Revenge (2022)
  • Monsters University (2013)
  • Incredibles 2 (2018)
  • Jennifer’s Body (2009)
  • Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
  • Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials (2015, Review)
  • Underwater (2020)
  • Maze Runner: The Death Cure (2018, Review)
  • Antlers (2021)
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)
  • Captain Marvel (2019)

Currently watching: Nightmare Alley

As I mentioned before, I got a one month subscription to Disney Plus for the Disney Day deal for $1.99. Last year I got it, I forgot that it existed and didn’t really make use of it too much so we’re making back for it this year. There’s quite the catalogue even outside of the Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars content so it was pretty good. There’s still a little less than half a month left so you will probably still see some more of this service’s titles pop up in the next month.

With that said, its been a very low amount of reviews written mostly because a lot of this is prep work for the Halloween Marathon or for Movies and Tea podcast. If its not, you should see those soon, probably after October’s marathon month. I do have an ambitious goal of catching up with Marvel’s films since I stopped at Infinity War so I buckled down to do it. You can see that I’m already slowly catching up.

My recommendations this month goes to Turning Red, Do Revenge, Underwater and the Maze Runner trilogy.

TV

  • I Just Killed My Dad (Limited Series, 2022)
  • The Oasis鄧錄圓魚洲
  • The Rap Of China中國説唱巔峰對決
  • The Real Bling Ring: Hollywood Heist (Limited Series, 2022)

Currently binging: Great Escape Season 4 密室大逃脫第四季, Love Between Fairy and Devil 蒼蘭訣, Call Me By Fire 2 披荊斬棘的哥哥, Heart Signal Season 5心動的信號, Hello Summer Relationship相遇的夏天, Rock & Roast Season 5脫口秀大會,

Oh boy, TV series will be hard to talk about unless you have a massive interest in Chinese Variety shows or dramas. Its honestly just the time of year where all the shows I like have gathered together to be released at the same time. Most of them are currently playing in the currently binging one. The standout is always Great Escape where Season 4 has truly notched up the fun element and they expanded and blended the Escape Room with other game elements.

I actually was planning on finishing Love Between Fairy and Devil before Netflix added it but got lured to watch other stuff and never got around to resuming it however, its a pretty great show and if you have Netflix, it makes it so much easier to watch.

Games

  • A Plague Tale: Innocence (to be finished)
  • Coffee Talk (Review)
  • AI: The Somnium Files (not finished)

I’ve been taking a little more time on gaming when I have the time to spare. I mean, I have a fixed amount of time where I can do my own stuff when the little one naps or goes to bed at night so its not really a ton of time. However, with a lot of the Game Pass catalogue leaving during September, I tried to get through the ones that I wanted to play hence the unfinished two games. A Plague Tale: Innocence is actually pretty good but I saved myself the rush mostly because I didn’t realize that my husband bought it on Steam so I will get back to that eventually. AI : The Somnium Files is a pretty good game and super expensive to buy in general but its a visual novel with investigative elements and you can’t really rush those so I unfortunately didn’t get to finish it. I was pretty much a third into the game at that point looking at some of the game chapter breakdown. This one’s a little quirky and odd but there are some pretty graphic murder scenes in this one.

Now, lets talk about something that I did finish: Coffee Talk which is also a visual novel and once where you brew coffee while listening to what goes on with the customers. Its a relaxing game to say the least plus there are some fun drink blends that they include which were fun to discover as well.

What’s Up & Adventures – August 2022

ADVENTURES – AUGUST 2022

Welcome to the adventures for August 2022. Honestly, I should just change this coming year into baby adventures more than anything. Considering I’m on maternity leave right now, there’s really nothing else in my life more important than taking care of my newborn and making sure the house doesn’t slip gradually into chaos. With that said, there were some nice little baby updates which includes no pictures and we did have family visit which is quite the unusual since we really haven’t seen anyone out of town since before the pandemic.

Baby Updates

Triple V had a few little adventures of his own. For one, he had his 2 month vaccinations which went as well as could be expected with both of his thighs getting vaccines for various illnesses. Despite some crying, he did calm down fairly quickly and fell asleep so I consider him quite the champ. Considering that this month, we’ve also experienced some crazy evenings with some intense crying and a hard time pinpointing what was the issue.

With that said, he also had his first medical check-up. Yay to our healthcare system where you can’t find a family doctor anymore so the 2-4 weeks check-up turned into a 2 months old check-up. Luckily, all is well and he is growing up quickly. Apparently, we have a “big baby”, which I’m pretty sure I didn’t need the doctor to tell me since he was pretty big in my belly already and then he waited until the last day so he spent some quality time growing before he hit the outside world.

On that front, we are getting in some more exercising. More that I’m taking him out for strolls when its not raining or heat wave. August has been rather abundant in those two fronts. However, its quite relaxing to get out of the house every now and then and get some fresh air. At least for myself, it feels like I’m getting a part of my own active lifestyle back. Its going to take a while but I’ll eventually get back there to some form.

Podcast Update

With that said, I guess I should mention a little update on the podcast which probably is the only thing really goin on track in the case of these projects. Podcast recording is gradually back in production. Much like my post before I went on leave announcing a semi-hiatus, I had pretty much said that it wouldn’t affect it to much and it didn’t since we created quite a bit of backlog for both Movies and Tea and Game Warp so its just a matter of getting those out one by one. I will get back to reposting those. In the meantime, you can always check out both podcasts on most podcast platforms. Those places will have the most recent updates.

As things calm down gradually hopefully, I am starting to think about getting that revamped version of my solo podcast off the ground again. I’m still working out how to approach the content but I have a solid list of topics for the episodes already and it will be really relevant. If my plans go well, you might see something soon-ish. I’m not so worried about recording as it is finding time to edit. I’ve been thinking about it more and more so it should at some point happen.

WHAT’S UP – AUGUST 2022

Books

Currently reading: The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

As I spend more time at home now, I am gradually wanting to expand during baby’s naptime to do something other than watching TV so I’ve literally just cracked open The Summer I Turned Pretty. There’s not too much to say. My expectations for it: An equally entertaining time as Jenny Han’s previous book To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. Might be a tall order but hey, who knows, right?

Movies

  • Purple Hearts (2022, Review)
  • The Lorax (2012 rewatch, Review)
  • Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989 rewatch)
  • Wedding Season (2022, Review)
  • Bewitched (2005)
  • Porco Rosso (1992 rewatch, Review)
  • Look Both Ways (2022, Review)
  • Princess Mononoke (1997)
  • Inside The Mind of a Cat (2022)
  • Yokai Monsters: Spook Warfare (1968)

Packed with a few rewatches and some new films from Netflix for the most part, the movies I watched this month were relatively good. Netflix rom-coms are always about the same but then I did already write the reviews so you can check those out. Among that pack of films, Look Both Ways definitely stood out as its not exactly a rom-com. Other than that, I FINALLY watched Princess Mononoke which was a Studio Ghibli title that my friends have been hassling me about not having watched for years. You will hear my extended thoughts on that on Movies and Tea in a good while. For the most part, I really liked it for the scope of the film and compared it to Nausicaa and the Valley of the Wind but didn’t quite resonate with the characters as much. Wrapping up the month is a new Netflix documentary about cats called Inside The Mind of a Cat which was super fun to watch and gave me some terms to attach to cats and some extra knowledge that explains some of my own cat’s behavior.

TV

  • Boo, Bitch (Limited Series, 2022)
  • Twinkle Love Season 2怦然心動20嵗第二季
  • The Most Hated Man On The Internet (Limited Series 2022)
  • Never Have I Ever (Season 3)
  • Untold: The Girlfriend Who Didn’t Exist (2022)
  • Wonderland Season 2五十公里桃花塢2
  • I Hear You 最動聽的事
  • Bad Vegan: Fame. Fraud. Fugitives (2022)
  • The Puppet Master: Hunting The Ultimate Conman (2022)

Currently watching: I Just Killed My Dad, Great Escape Season 4 密室大逃脫第四季, The Oasis登錄圓魚洲, Love Between Fairy and Devil 蒼蘭訣, The Rap Of China中國説唱巔峰對決, Call Me By Fire 2 披荊斬棘的哥哥, Heart Signal Season 5心動的信號

I have to give myself a nice pat on the back for creating a decent mix between the Chinese drama and variety shows versus the English content, even if most of the English content are all limited series for Netflix crime documentaries. Its my latest thing that I’ve really liked seeing as Netflix has some pretty strong crime documentaries and are pretty consistent in quality. The four gave me an array of emotions: Most Hated Man was very upsetting and fit its title, Girlfriend Who Didn’t Exist was truly well done and had a nice message about forgiveness, Bad Vegan made me question whether someone would truly believe something like that or its all excuses (still contemplating that one) and Puppet Master was just a wild ride since its unbelievable how someone can get away doing that stuff.

Onto more lighthearted stuff, I had a ton of fun with teen series Boo, Bitch and Season 3 of Never Have I Ever. They were so entertaining and still had some pretty good moments. Both of those TV binges are almost done so you should see them soon. I lack of TV series review writing inspiration currently happening. As for Chinese series, a lot of the currently watching TV shows are about to end but man, Wonderland Season 2 was a such a great one. I didn’t watch the Season 2 so currently debating if I should, hopefully it isn’t under VIP since I don’t want to subscribe to another streaming service, although I probably will at one point to WeTV since I have a lot of series that is locked in VIP that I missed before and I don’t really like watching them on YouTube.

A fun update is that I’m currently watching Love Between Fairy and Devil (yes, the title is stupid but the series honestly isn’t) which will land on Netflix in September some time (I can’t remember the date so if you want to check out Chinese fantasy dramas, this one is good and not too long. Netflix has been doing a good job at picking up some of this year’s heavy hitters. Now, maybe they can also get Love Like The Galaxy, which is another breakout series currently playing which is on my watchlist.

Games

  • Spiritfarer: Farewell Edition

After starting up Spiritfarer last summer, I finally went back to it to play through the rest of the main content plus all the updates in 2 weeks. The updates were really great since the last one did give it such a well-rounded ending to the whole experience which adds so much to the narrative element of the game itself which plays a big part. There’s so much to love about Spiritfarer. Even though I finished the game with probably the most amount of hours and the closest I’ve ever gotten to 100% of the game content, I still am considering picking up this game at one point and revisiting it just for the beautiful world and stories that it tells.

TV Binge: Never Have I Ever (Season 2, 2021)

Never Have I Ever (Season 2, 2021)

Creators: Lang Fisher & Mindy Kaling

Cast: Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, Poorna Jagannathan, Darren Barnet, John McEnroe, Jaren Lewison, Benjamin Norris, Richa Moorjani, Lee Rodriguez, Ramona Young, Megan Suri, Sendhil Ramamurthy, Adam Shapiro, Christina Kartchner, Niecy Nash, Dino Petrera, Common, Utkarsh Ambudkar

The complicated life of a modern-day first generation Indian American teenage girl, inspired by Mindy Kaling’s own childhood. – IMDB

Picking up right where Season 1 (review) left off, Season 2 continues on as Devi (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan) is now faced with her mom deciding to move with her to India as this prompts her to believe that dating both Paxton (Darren Barnet) and Ben (Jaren Lewison) secretly is a great idea. However when the India idea is cancelled, she now faces the consequences of her actions when both of them now despise her. At the same time, another cooler Indian girl Aneesa transfers to Sherman Oaks which makes her feel uncomfortable. On the side, Kamala (Richa Moorjani) has to deal with her new lab and labmates and her long distance relationship while Devi’s mother, Nalini (Poorna Jagannathan) is faced with dealing with another dermatologist Dr. Jackson (Common) who has opposing approaches to their practices as well as still trying to figure out how to deal with Devi’s constant issues.

The second season of Never Have I Ever is pretty fun. Arguably, probably even better than the first season because the foundation has already built for all the characters. The series still focuses on Devi quite a bit as she is still coming to terms with a lot of herself as she constantly made bad decisions which always lead to some bad situation that she needed to resolve. She is a very imperfect teen and that’s what makes her so easy to connect to as she struggles with her culture and blending into the student body with a lot of the high school drama. Before getting into the student body, its really about navigating between her two boys, Paxton and Ben and learning that she can’t really get everything, her temper/rage needs to be in check and she needs to embrace that she doesn’t have to be perfect despite remembering that her father would always call her “perfect girl” but slowly feeling less confident about things as everything seems to fall apart. Amidst all this, its learning about honesty and trust throughout this season (which was cleverly introduced through one of her therapy sessions) as well as not feeling the need to reach unrealistic expectations for herself (which leads to great revelation when she dreams of her father who explains why he calls her “perfect girl”. Devi’s journey is a fascinating one to say the least, even if sometimes she seems to truly go way off in her interpretation but its what makes her charming and comedic to watch.

As for the rest of the characters, the script makes them go through a lot of the issues that teens would encounter whether its from a teen dealing with their single parent like their disapproval of their new love interest. For Kamala, who is in her lab rotation, she has to deal with the realities of workspace in terms of gender and blending in. The high school setting brings on the issues of not fitting into despite coming out for Fabiola and somewhat losing herself in the process while Eleanor deals with a toxic relationship which she soon learns to differentiate. At the same time, Paxton gives a new angle to the jock forced to turn academic due to unforeseen issues. With dances, PDA and boyfriend/girlfriend issues to deal with, there’s a lot of area to cover for the show and probably a lot more issues to explore.

While the first season also had these characters, the second season really gave the smaller supporting characters so much room. They aren’t very deep characters but they had their purpose of being either very over the top or simply weird to mostly give insight to the main characters but a lot of times add in another level of comedy. The one that comes to mind is absolutely the history teacher Mr. Shapiro (Adam Shapiro) who is such an odd teacher especially with his freestyle of teaching history and his reactions to certain things but so funny to watch in all his weirdness. There’s characters who are impactful like Paxton’s sister Rebecca (Lily D. Moore) who is there to be the person to set Paxton straight. The new addition this time is Devi’s English teacher Mr. Kulkarni (Utkarsh Ambudkar) who comes in as a love interest for Kamala but also has the cool teacher vibe.

The culture and the generational gap plays a big part in the show breaking some of the stereotypes. That’s a big element of the show that also makes it rather appealing. Its nice to see Netflix embrace these things especially as its an international streaming service, much like its recent release of the romantic comedy film Wedding Season. Another big part of the show’s appeal which makes it unique is the voice-over by John McEnroe for Devi which adds a ton of charm to the show as someone who judges her on the spot a lot. Last season had Adam Samberg do a voice-over commentating on Ben and this season, there was one episode for Paxton with Gigi Hadid doing her narrative for his point of view which was quite a nice change of pace.

Running at 10 episodes of around 30 minutes ( makes it approx. 5 hours in total), Never Have I Ever is completely bingeable. To be fair, much like most comedies, the humor does depend a lot of a person’s taste. For myself, the first time watching Season 1 didn’t quite work too well but the show did grow on me that I’ve gone on to rewatch it a few times since its release of Season 1 and 2. Its an easy and fun watch overall and one that does share a lot of deeper topics despite navigating a teen’s life as she constantly messes up and learns from those mistakes. Isn’t that what life is, even if we’ve probably not gone through all of it.

What’s Up & Adventures – July 2022

Adventures – July 2022

Motherhood and Recovery

If you were here for last month’s update, you know that I am now in the adventures of motherhood with my 1.5 months old newborn who as this post goes up is in his 6 weeks and the supposed peak of the fussy and crying phase and that’s a true adventure as we put on talent shows and silliness to try to keep him entertained as he refuses to sleep. However, we did get a few fun things especially since I am now basically feeling much better and mostly recovered. I did have a C-section so the wound feels mostly recovered but nothing too exciting to happen yet. However, we did start getting back to going out for little strolls and slowly lengthening them as my energy gets better.

Gardening Update

What’s our summer without a little gardening update. Our little container gardening isn’t really going too hot at the moment. The crazy swing in weather with the heat and the torrential rains aren’t exactly helping the situation. We did harvest 2 cucumbers and a little bucket of tomatoes and 4 strawberries. While the actual vegetable patch looks like an out of control nightmare which is going to be fun to fix up next year or even in the fall hopefully, the little bee garden is still surviving. The season of lavenders are here so its been lovely and I’ve been cutting some to put in the house.

That’s really it for adventures so let’s move on…

What’s Up – July 2022

Books – No time to do any reading this month…

Movies

  • It’s A Boy Girl Thing (2006)
  • Girl In The Picture (2022)
  • Banana Split (2018, Review)
  • Persuasion (2022)
  • Untraceable (2008)
  • Ma (2019)
  • Fifty Shades of Grey ( 2015)

Slowly picking up on some movie watching. Most of it were movies leaving Netflix in August. I do have to say that they were decent watches. Nothing spectacular but rather entertaining. Even Fifty Shades Of Grey was acceptable but in comparison to the novel, which I read quite a few years ago and my opinion has changed gradually over the years, it lacks some good bits of the novel but the film still highlights the essence of the story in general. Although my recommendation this month goes to Banana Split which was feel good and charming as a teen comedy. As for Persuasion, while its had a lot of grief from the general ratings, I felt it wasn’t all that bad. My review for it is coming out so I won’t dwell too much on it but its a rather lackluster adaptation mostly due to Captain Wentworth having a rather wooden performance and the chemistry just didn’t deliver. I mean, the movie did make me want to re-read Persuasion which is pretty much in the same level of love as Pride and Prejudice in terms of Jane Austen.

With that said, my fave watches of the months went to Netflix documentary Girl In The Picture which was a fascinating mystery and investigation to say that very least, which made me dig into the original exposure on Unsolved Mysteries. I also recommend teen comedy Banana Split which was my Friday Film Club pick. It looks at an unlikely friendship but still has some really fun feel-good vibes.

TV

  • Stranger Things (Season 4, Review)
  • Infinity and Beyond 聲生不息
  • Resident Evil (Season 1, Review)
  • Court Lady 驪歌行
  • Mom, Don’t Do That! 媽,別閙了!
  • The Chef Show (Volume 1)
  • Never Have I Ever (Season 2, rewatch)

Currently watching: Great Escape Season 4 密室大逃脫第四季, The Rap Of China中國説唱巔峰對決, Twinkle Love Season 2怦然心動20嵗第二季

TV has been an interesting month with a lot of new releases that I was able to catch up on while still trying to make my way through some new Chinese variety/reality shows and dramas. Stranger Things Season 4’s final episode came out and it was quite the season finale, unlike Resident Evil series that was fairly disappointing even if it had the right idea. The surprise series of the month had to go to Netflix Taiwanese series Mom, Don’t Do That, which I literally finished a few days before this post so the review is still in the works. That series was a ton of fun which takes a good look at mother-daughter relationships as they seek out out their own relationships.

Games

  • Lost Words: Beyond The Page (Review)

Currently playing: As Dusk Falls

Its been a decent month considering I still find some little moments to game. Lost Words: Beyond The Page is a fun little platformer which is mostly straightforward and linear. Its a word puzzle game and does a decent job at implementing it. The story itself is pretty good as it does a parallel of fantasy and reality. I’m currently playing As Dusk Falls which I literally just started for about 30 minutes. Its narrative heavy and choice-based so 30 minutes is basically just a set-up of the beginning right now. So far, its rather decent and I can’t wait to find more time to get back into it. This one is pretty good since it can have up to 7 players to join in via app on cellphone.

That’s it for this month’s What’s Up!
What have you been up to lately?

TV Binge: Resident Evil (Season 1, 2022)

Resident Evil (Season 1, 2022)

Cast: Ella Balinska, Tamara Smart, Siena Agudong, Adeline Rudolph, Paola Nunez, Lance Reddick, Anthony Oseyemi, Connor Gosatti, Pedro De Tavira

Nearly three decades after the discovery of the T-virus, an outbreak reveals the Umbrella Corporation’s dark secrets. Based on the horror franchise. – IMDB

Its hard to not know what Resident Evil is at this point, whether you are a gamer or not. Of course, if you are a gamer, then you are much more familiar with the source material depending how thorough you were with the entire game franchise. After Paul W. S. Anderson’s Resident Evil film franchise (franchise overview) which really went off into its own tangent and basically only retaining the world itself and into his own writing and production (depending on the film), a handful of animated films, the reboot of the game once again with Welcome to Raccoon City (review) and last year’s Netflix animated series (review) (which honestly was more like a film split up in 4 episodes), Netflix’s Resident Evil series finally released and it takes the story into the future, decades after the outbreak at Raccoon City and writing up its own story. While I’m not sure its something that Resident Evil fans have been looking forward to, considering some of my friends would like a legit decent survivors escaping Raccoon City story which we’ve seen too many times in my opinion, regardless of whether its good or bad, for myself, the direction was a good one which if successful, will breathe some needed new life into Resident Evil to at least give it a boost into the alternate future. It all leaves the question of whether it was able to achieve that or at least, is Resident Evil still what it is if it takes out the 1998 outbreak setting.

Resident Evil series delivers a parallel storyline. This first is set in the past and an alternate present in our terms in 2022 when 14 year old fraternal twins Billie (Siena Agudong) and Jade Wesker (Tamara Smart) move to New Raccoon City, an Umbrella planned community as Albert Wesker (Lance Reddick) works on finalizing a drug called Joy for Umbrella corporation to hit the markets. Umbrella is now under new leadership under the daughter of Dr. Marcus, Evelyn (Paola Nunez) who reclaimed her father’s company. However, when the twins break into the lab, they learn some dark secrets there which ends up putting their lives in danger. The second plot runs in the series present in 2036 as it follows a grown-up Jade Wesker (Ella Balinska) who is studying the “zero”-filled world to track their evolution and mutation of the T-virus. Zeroes are what “zombies” are called in this world. As Jade tries to evade Umbrella who is hunting her down, she is helping do research for a hidden organization The University who tries to present the old world artifacts.

Looking at the story premise, the series takes a decent step forward. Its pretty ambitious considering its bound to disappoint a lot of franchise fans seeing as it revamps the entire story and only uses the Raccoon City event everyone is familiar with as a backdrop. However, pushing it to the future is a good idea and with what they have, the parallel being there retains both elements of still keeping the T-virus and its existence along with Umbrella still having dark secrets and they things they are trying to hide from their past while adding in a central character which never has been the center with Albert Wesker in the future, even if he still is top bill but more supporting than the twins. At the same time, the 2036 events is proof that whatever Umbrella was trying to do under new management wasn’t contained as the world is in its apocalyptic state with zeroes running rampant and in its own way, introducing this new world’s monsters whether the “zombies” or other mutations. In that sense, the story does try to maintain a balance. The two sides of the story do work well to complement each other and each has their redeeming qualities and tension. Of course, the 2022 events with the teen twins in their school environment adds the teen element as they try to blend in, get bullied and try to make friends. Some of that feels a little mundane in the spectrum of things but luckily, the casting for the young Jade and Billie are decent, even if their teen characters are a little frustrating a times.

Taking a quick glance at the cast, its some rather fresh faces. Adult Jade Wesker is played by Ella Balinska who was previously in the reboot of Charlie’s Angels (review) as one of the Angels. Jade is the focus of the series and she takes the role pretty well. The action sequences involving her are done pretty good and as she does get caught up a few dicey situations. Her younger self portrayed by Tamara Smart is a little more frustrating to watch as mentioned above. Billie on the other hand portrayed by Siena Agudong is done pretty well. Her character goes through a lot more in the younger sequence and puts her in constant inner struggles. The older self is portrayed by Adeline Rudolph (plays Agatha in The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina) which was a pretty short presence in this season. Lance Reddick’s Albert Wesker is probably not the expected choice however, the character itself is built pretty well to fit in this world. Honestly, I haven’t seen Lance Reddick other than as the hotel manager in John Wick films and his role there is fairly small but so good. Seeing as Wesker’s side of the story is rarely dived into thoroughly, there is a lot of space to build it up. Focusing on his daughters makes it all the more good as he is there but it adds a new generation to the new Raccoon City and the future of Resident Evil’s setting. Its a pretty nice touch (perhaps I’m just overthinking it as usual).

What’s Resident Evil without its villains and here, the villainous character here is Evelyn Marcus which is played relatively well by Paola Nunez. Sometimes, Evelyn is fairly annoying as most villains are but she has a dangerous edge to her that carries well enough, some parts a little overdone but there is some development. Of course, the other villains are the zeroes and the mutated creatures. In that sense, the mutated creature designs here are probably the element that I’ve always loved about the franchise and in this case, this new future brings in some giant versions of animals which are quite fun to see. If only there was more then the 3 or so types shown. This does tie in to the world building which honestly gets showcased much more in the 2036 side of the story as there’s so much more to discover in the wastelands.

In the end, your enjoyment of this series will hang heavily on asking the the initial question as to what makes Resident Evil, well, Resident Evil. While this series pushes it to the future and uses Umbrella and the T-virus as its foundation, it still doesn’t feel too different from being another zombie series, but then that is what Resident Evil is, right? Its another type of zombie franchise, except in this case, its set with a younger cast, has a bit of teen and family drama and a few other tangents. Or perhaps the 1998 events of the outbreak is what makes Resident Evil what it is or perhaps its the main cast of Chris and Claire, Jill and Leon, who obviously is not in this series so this will definitely not fit. If we look at this from solely an action horror series, then its actually not too bad as it does have a lot of action and a good bit of horror.

TV Binge: Stranger Things (Season 4, 2022)

Stranger Things (Season 4, 2022)

Creator: The Duffer Brothers

Cast: Millie Bobby Brown, Finn Wolfhard, Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Natalia Dyer, Charlie Heaton, Joe Keery, Noah Schnapp, Sadie Sink, Priah Ferguson, Matthew Modine, Maya Hawke, Joseph Quinn

When a young boy disappears, his mother, a police chief and his friends must confront terrifying supernatural forces in order to get him back. – IMDB

Its been a while for Stranger Things and now that the two parts of Season 4 are finally released, its time to give it an overall look. Season 4 of Stranger Things definitely takes things back up to the hype of its first season. Not only do the ending 2 episodes become incredibly long running at 1.5 hours and 2.5 hours respectively but the whole show in general shows off a lot of writing especially when referencing back to almost a circle effect as events from prior seasons all come together from looking at what happened exactly with Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) at the Hawkins Lab that lead her to run away to the initial group being separate for various reasons but all coming together in their different places, showing off the extent of the Upside Down and the hive mind of the demogorgons and also what connects them all together. Its an elaborate story and one that truly elevates especially in terms of the script.

Since I never managed to get the TV binges for Season 2 and 3 out, its suitable to talk a little about my feelings towards it. The last 2 seasons were decent but never quite lived up to its first season, even though season 3 did end on quite the big change with a lot at stake in its big finale. Perhaps its how it felt a little been there done that with the same similar plot of the Upside Down and Eleven’s powers and Hawkins Lab and sealing the portals and such. There were some decent new characters as well, even if some didn’t last. The threat doesn’t seem to change even if the dynamic between the friends shifted a little and still had some fun moments.

What makes Season 4 work better even if some of the threats are familiar, is that there is more depth. There’s a lot of change and it justifies that a certain amount of time has moved on since how things ended in Season 3. It brings in topics of bullying and the 80s satanic panic along with new characters coming into play. The 80s theme is still very vibrant with the soundtrack, even surpassing that of Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill and Metallica’s Master of Puppets. It helps that the crew is all split up in different locations which adds some freshness as the adults are in Russia, the kids are split between Hawkins and California while Eleven needs to reconnect with her powers despite the people involved. There’s a lot to talk about just in terms of the many tangents of the plotline. The most direct would be the whole process of Russia where the adults come together with Joyce (Winona Ryder) working with Murray (Brett Gelman) to follow a message allegedly from Hopper (David Harbour) and they head off to save him. As much as the kids are a part of the story, the adults are also rather important as well. This side of the story as dangerous as it is actually packs a lot of comedic relief whether its the dialogue from Murray or Joyce and their very unplanned way of trying to save Hopper.

The whole dynamic between the friends shifts as they get older with different priorities like wanting to break away from being the Dungeons and Dragons nerds to being the popular jock. While Eleven in her new environment with Will (Noah Schnapp) experiences her powers gone after the last season’s events and has to deal with bullying. Despite all this, everyone tries to pretend everything is okay when it isn’t which is the main reason for some of the conflicts here afterwards. With new alliances, the main one being the new character Eddie Munson (Joseph Quinn) who is wrongly accused of a fellow classmate’s death in his trailer as well as Steve’s (Joe Keery) work buddy Robin (Maya Hawke). Its nice to see that as Lucas falls out of the group for a bit, his sister Erica (Priah Ferguson) steps up with a bigger role as she is a little body with a big attitude who is incredibly fun to watch. With a lot of the relationships and little other things put into the backdrop as they group together to fight against the new enemy Vecna, it all builds to a rather big thing with some serious aftermath affecting not only the Upside Down but also Hawkins as a whole. What deserves a big mention, other than Eleven’s side of the story as she’s always a big part, is that Max (Sadie Sink) gets a much bigger role in this season as what happened in the previous season haunts her to the point that makes her mentally weaker and giving the chance to be trapped into a deadly situation.

Stranger Things Season 4 is definitely a step up from the previous 2 seasons. While it seems to jump around a lot, the difference in locations and the different groups of characters working together in one scenario to the next gives off parallel storylines that drive the story further. The writing also adds depth as it does pull a lot of the world that they’ve been building all these seasons together giving it a circle effect (which I have to admit is something I particularly love seeing in any sort of film or TV as it makes it feel very clever). The characters, new ones especially did such a great job, no matter if it was the bully or the jock or Eddie Munson who all delivered the necessary effects. It is nice to see Steve’s character have some other purpose than being the babysitter at the end while Eddie and Dustin does build a nice friendship as well. If there was one thing to criticize (and I’m sure there’s more especially some bits of the episodes working towards those 2 final ones) more strongly is its the whole cliffhanger ending, which from memory Stranger Things always did have the tendency to do to build up the anticipation for the next season. With that said, its not so bad since their final season is going to happen so hopefully we will see that released soon and see how the Duffer Brothers wrap up this whole world.