Year: 2020

December Movie Marathon

I would make a terrible movie critic because I enjoy most movies. I’m very forgiving in my ratings. If it’s a movie my wife hated, I’ll give it 3 stars because it is the movie it promised. Maybe it wasn’t good, but it was exactly what I had expected so I give it credit for that. There’s always more credit awarded for offering something beyond expectation.

I’m on Letterboxd as peroty. Let’s be friends! I’m enjoying the “what your friends are watching” list to see what other people are watching. There’s so many places to watch movies and TV these days. My wife and I joke our favorite thing to watch is “trying to decide what to watch.”

Since the pandemic started, I have time off work so it’s time to light a fire, break out the whiskey and settle into a movie marathon. Over the past two days we’ve watched a pile of movies. I enjoy movies. My motto for 2020 has been “I miss going to the movies.” There is nothing better than getting a treat and escaping the world into the land someone else has created for me.

Snow White and the Huntsman ⭐⭐

Synopsis: After the Evil Queen marries the King, she performs a violent coup in which the King is murdered and his daughter, Snow White, is taken captive. Almost a decade later, a grown Snow White is still in the clutches of the Queen. In order to obtain immortality, The Evil Queen needs the heart of Snow White. After Snow escapes the castle, the Queen sends the Huntsman to find her in the Dark Forest.

This was a beautiful movie. The cinematography was breath-taking and the sets were gorgeous. The acting and story left much to be desired. Before we started it, I looked it up on Letterboxd to see what the overall rating was. It was a 2.5 and this bit of information paid off.

white horse shows up at the perfect time  “Oh. Right. 2.5”

girl screams at troll and stops it from attacking another charaters “2.5”

“I guess the 2.5 is for the cinematography. It is a beautiful movie.”

A Nasty Piece of Work ⭐⭐⭐

Synopsis: A mid-level corporate employee finds out he’s not getting the Christmas bonus he was expecting, but his boss invites him to earn a promotion by beating his professional rival in a violent competition.

This movie was a Blumhouse film. Their general movie theory is “make a lot of films. They won’t all be hits, but enough of them will do well to pay for the others.” And this one is a lot of fun. It’s been awhile since I saw a good use of title cards between scenes. I enjoyed them and this film.

Anna and the Apocalypse ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Synopsis: A zombie apocalypse threatens the sleepy town of Little Haven – at Christmas – forcing Anna and her friends to fight, slash and sing their way to survival, facing the undead in a desperate race to reach their loved ones. But they soon discover that no one is safe in this new world, and with civilization falling apart around them, the only people they can truly rely on are each other.

Move over Elf! Out of the way Kevin! There’s a new queen of Christmas movies. Ella Hunt sings and smashes her way through this film. This movie had:

  • Unecessarily sexy Christmas school song

  • Rap song about fish

  • Zombies

  • The saddest “Merry Christmas” ever captured.

  • Candy cane melee weapon

I absolutely loved it and would rewatch it every year. The film feels authentic. Each one of the characters were an archetype I could place from my high school. They’re making decisions I would make. They’re not heroes. They’re impulsive and live the day one moment at a time.

The songs are fun and catchy. This one has been stuck in my head.

(•_•)
<) )╯ WHEN IT COMES TO KILLING ZOMBIES
/ \

\(•_•)
( (> I'M THE TOP OF MY CLASS 
/ \

(•_•).   WHILE YOU’VE BEEN HIDING
<) )>   I’VE BEEN KICKIN SOME ASS
/ \

Happiest Season ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Synopsis: A young woman’s plans to propose to her girlfriend while at her family’s annual holiday party are upended when she discovers her partner hasn’t yet come out to her conservative parents.

Kristen Stewart and Mackenzie David (took my while to place her from Halt and Catch Fire) are the focus while Aubrey Plaza and Alison Brie are relegated to minor characters. It was a romantic comedy with an excellent cast. Dan Levy is the friend we all hope we have when we need them most. Maybe without the tracking.

“Any luck on getting a man’s permission to take ownership of an adult female woman?” – John (Dan Levy)

Black Christmas (1974) ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Synopsis: A sorority house is terrorized by a stranger who makes frightening phone calls and then murders the sorority sisters during Christmas break.

The algorithm kept pushing the 2019 remake of this film that wasn’t well-reviewed. However, the 1974 film has excellent reviews and was the first(?) slasher movie.

The plot partially centers around a series of obscene phone calls and boy are they. It also gives us the spectacular line:

No, it’s the Mormon Tabernacle Choir calling with their annual obscene phone call.

This fits the category of “horror movies that could have ended very quickly with competence.” Every character is unique. There’s no interchageable pieces. This entire film is a mood. It perfectly embodies the loneliness of being alone at Christmas (a theme that runs through every holiday film we watched.) I’m curious to watch the remake now to see how they handle certain parts and how sensibilities have changed between 1974 and 2019. Those are some obscene phone calls.

Surviving Christmas ⭐⭐

Synopsis: Drew Latham is an executive leading an empty, shallow life with only wealth on his side. Facing another lonely Christmas ahead, he revisit his old childhood home in the hope of reliving some old holiday memories – but he finds that the house in which he was raised is no longer the home in which he grew up.

Ever been so lonely on Christmas you paid the family who lives in your childhood home a quarter of a million dollars to spend a few days with them?

What about if that family was James Gandolfini and Catherine O’Hara? They amost make the film watchable. Almost.

Ben Affleck is so unhinged and manic throughout. I saw this review and thought about it. A lot.

It was never quite clear if Affleck’s character was meant to be mentally challenged. – Review by fizzybenilyn

It’s hard to know where being an absolute dick ends and mental issues may begin.

Into the Woods (2014) ⭐⭐

Synopsis: In a woods filled with magic and fairy tale characters, a baker and his wife set out to end the curse put on them by their neighbor, a spiteful witch.

This movie may have had potential. But it just kept going…

This is a pretty good 90 minute movie. Unfortunately it was 125 minutes.

When Rapunzel and her prince leave, you should too. The first hour or so is solid and enjoyable. But then it just keeps going to the point we groaned at every new song. And when we thought it must be nearly over, there were 45 minutes left!

D2 Beyond Light New Perks

Go watch Fallout Plays’ video for details on how they work.

New Raid Perks

Redirection (PVE) – Damaging rank-and-file combatants increases damage against more powerful ones

  • Perk only on Deep Stone Crypt raid weapons
    • Posterity Hand Cannon
    • Trustee Scout Rifle
  • 20 stacks. No time limit, even holstered, until you damage yellow bar, spends 5 stacks at a time on hit.
  • Every stack is 20% extra damage. Caps at 100% extra damage.
  • *Reconstruction** – Slowly reloads itself over time, up to double capacity
    • Perk only on Deep Stone Crypt raid weapons
      • Heritage Shotgun
      • Succession Sniper Rifle
      • Posterity Hand Cannon
      • Trustee Scout Rifle
      • Commemoration Machine Gun
  • Works holstered or active.
  • Every 4 seconds ammo is loaded from reserves
  • Recombination (PVE & PVP) – Elemental final blows increase the damage of this weapon’s next shot
  • Extra Note: regarding recombination – ALL elemental final blows can add stacks (so power, super, nade and charged melee kills should also add stacks)
    • Perk only on Deep Stone Crypt raid weapons
      • Heritage Shotgun
      • Succession Sniper Rifle

Perks found on non-raid (and raid) weapons

  • Dual Loader (PVE) – Reloads two shells at a time, but reduces reload speedRolls on new shotguns
    • Heritage (raid)
    • Bonechiller
    • Xenoclast IV
  • Thresh (PVE Only) – Killing combatants with this weapon generates a small amount of super energy. Rolls on…
    • Heritage – Raid shotgun
    • Succession – Raid Sniper Rifle
    • Arctic Haze – Auto Rifle
    • Coriolis Force – Fusion Rifle
    • Stars in Shadow – Pulse Rifle
    • Royal Chase – Scout Rifle
    • Xenoclast IV – Shotgun
    • Crowd Pleaser – Grenade Launcher
    • Corsair’s Wrath – Linear Fusion Rifle
    • Subzero Salvo – Rocket Launcher
    • Bequest – Sword
  • One For All (PVE & PVP) – Hitting three separate targets increases damage for a moderate duration
    • 3 second window to proc perk, per each target
    • Grants 10 seconds of 33% damage
    • What about Rampage? Rampage can be extended, One-For-All cannot be extended.
    Rolls on
    • The Guiding Sight – Iron Banner Scout Rifle
    • Coriolis Force – Fusion Rifle
    • Bonechiller – Shotgun
    • Posterity – Raid Hand Cannon
  • Surplus (PVE & PVP) – Increases handling, reload speed and stability for each fully charged ability. (Melee/Grenade/Class ability)
    • Stars and Shadow & Hailing Confusion helped by stability
    Rolls on
    • Biting Winds – Bow
    • Hailing Confusion – Pulse Rifle
    • The Guiding Sight – Iron Banner Scout Rifle
    • High Albedo – Sidearm
    • Deafening Whisper – Grenade Launcher
    • Posterity – Raid Hand Cannon
    • Stars in Shadow – Pulse Rifle
    • Trustee – Raid Scout Rifle
    • Bonechiller – Shotgun
    • Xenoclast IV – Shotgun
    • Crowd Pleaser – Grenade Launcher
    • Commemoration – Raid Machine Gun
    • Subzero Salvo – Rocker Launcher
  • Wellspring (PVE & PVP) – Kills with this weapon generate ability energy. This entry is divided between your uncharged abilities.Rolls On
    • The Steady Hand – Iron Banner Hand Cannon
    • Hailing Confusion – Pulse Rifle
    • High Albedo – Sidearm
    • Friction Fire – Submachine Gun
    • Deafening Whisper – Grenade Launcher
    • Trustee – Raid Scout Rifle
    • Blast Battue – Grenade Launcher (Season Pass Reward)
    • Thermal Erosion – Machine Gun
  • Chain Reaction (PVE & PVP) – Each final blow with this weapon creates an elemental damage explosion.
    • Dragonfly of power weapons.
    Rolls on
    • Blast Battue
    • Crowd Pleaser
    • Subzero Salvo

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving was nice this year. No big travel plans. No large family gathering. We went to my sister-in-law’s apartment to spend it with her and her son. Four of us. Four people who have already spent time together during this pandemic. Four people on the same Quaranteam. Who share similar levels of threat assessment. Who share the same fear of the world at large and people’s reckless behaviors.

Thanksgiving dinner

We ate well. We didn’t indulge in most of the typical Thanksgiving requirements. We had turkey, a smoked breast, stuffing made an appearance. Potatoes were present, in the form of a turkey with peppers stuck in it. And baked into rose shapes. We had rolls and spinach dip and an incredible butternut squash soup.

There was pie. There was merriment.

I’m always enthralled by kid’s ability to eat while staring transfixed at a television.

We didn’t overeat. We didn’t gorge ourselves on gooey mainstays of the holiday. It was nice to have a slimmed down version of the meal without the typical, heavy foods present. I really enjoyed our quiet, small Thanksgiving this year. I hope to see all of my family next year.

I want them around for next year. I want them alive for next year. I will absolutely, without a doubt give up everything this year to aid in their safety and health for next year. I don’t want to get sick. I don’t want to get anyone else sick. It’s my greatest fear of this entire year. And will remain my fear into next year until there’s a working, available vacceine and enough people are able to get it that it makes a difference.

Until then, I can eat as many of these Cranberry Custinis as I want. And I will. These are the perfect Thanksgiving food. Prepared exactly as described. They’re the perfect combination of sweet, crunchy, creamy and tart. Stick a little turkey on top and you may have the perfect bite.

Threat Assessment

I remain convinced that heart of “self-care” is not pampering, per se, or spending lots of money — but giving yourself permission to listen to yourself about what will actually feel like rest and respite.

Not what other people tell you rest should look like. Actual rest, which is to say, your rest, which might not be recognizable as such to others. My partner got a massive deli-made sandwich for the first time in months and I watched it turn his entire week around.

Sometimes you just need to not do everything yourself, and sometimes you need to finally figure out what that smell is in the fridge, and sometimes you need to just delete those emails in your inbox of shame that have been haunting you for months.

your attention

I feel this. I feel this so thoroughly. My pandemic has looked like a blur. I have worked long hours every single day since March. I’ve learned Zoom. Not just how it works but how its APIs work, the changes that are going to affect the business. How to improve our interactions with it. I’ve even been reporting issues to the developers I’ve found. I’ve been neck deep in Zoom.

But that’s not all.

I’ve been doing the same thing for Webex. Compared to Zoom, it’s a lumbering beast with years of cruft and undocumented bits. Most I’ve learned by process of elimination and asking the right questions of the right support techs.

My wife and I have started getting all of our dinners through Mighty Meals. It’s a fresh delivered food service in the DC area. Instead of making the meals, all I have to do is decice what I want to eat and warm it up. The menu is vast and my only complaint is some side dishes aren’t seasoned well enough. They cook fish to perfection. They have a way with beef and brussel sprouts that’s unmatched. Their beyond meats and vegan options are superb. They make a peruvian chicken wing that will leave you wanting more. They have 100+ menu items so while we’re found our favorites, we try new things each week. If you’re interested in trying it out, use my code REFWYTV2ZY9F4 and get $20 off your first order!

Deciding what I want for dinner quickly became a game I grew exhausted of playing. So we gave up and paid to let someone else sort it out for us. I struggle enough with breakfast and when I can find time to take a lunch break. Food is an ongoing challenge. At least it’s one that’s fairly easy to solve.

I am exhausted.

Thoroughly and entirely spent.

I work in the office on a rotation with the rest of our company and every time I have to leave the house it’s a mental threat assessment. Do I stop for gas here? Do I walk into this store? Do those people look like they’ve been being safe outside of this moment? Can I pass by this group in the grocery store?

I’m thankful to live in a county that’s mandated masks in every store, office and building since March. I’m happy we are moving back to a more restrictive limit on dining inside. I see the numbers rising again and it terrifies me. Everyday is exhausting and I forget about why.

It’s not just work. Though work is exhausting on its own.

It’s the constant threat assessment. It’s deciding which family members I can see. And how comfortable I am with it. It’s trying to explain to people, nicely, they don’t meet the same threshold for safety as I do.

It’s already fighting my intense introversion and hermit tendencies. I don’t leave the house for days at a time and barely notice.

My self-care is:

  • Reading a good book on my patio
  • Watching the birds (especially those woodpeckers)
  • Looking at the family of deer that’s taken up resident in my suburban neighborhood.
  • Listening to music from my teens
  • Playing Destiny 2
  • Laying in bed and holding my wife
  • Writing with a pilot fountain pen on paper

Everyone has different self-care. Mine won’t look like yours. And that’s ok. We all need to do what makes us happy. What allows us to get through the days. Whether your days scream by or inch by with glacial slowness, we are all struggling. That can be hard to remember. But it’s always there. Sitting in the back of your mind.