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Choose Your Own Adventure Movie

I loved Choose-Your-Own-Adventure books as a kid. I would always keep a finger in the last page so I could go back when I died. Or was lost.

I always wanted a movie to change endings or give me a different experience as I went through it. I want to talk about a movie only to find other people had seen a different version of the same film. I thought about what it would be like to have an alternate ending shown at every X showings of the film. You watch a movie expecting the ending, only to have it change without explanation. Then on the next viewing, it would be back to normal.

28 Days Later had different endings. Some of which made it into theaters. But Bandersnatch completes the vision.

Black Mirror’s Bandersnatch is the realization of my childhood choose-your-own-adventure wishes.

Is it the best movie? No. Is there a lot of foreshadowing and winks to the audience in the narrative? Yes. Am I absolutely struggling to get back to a certain choice I’ve only found once and failed? YES!

I love following the story and choosing a separate path with each viewing. I am sure there are entire branches I’ve not seen yet and I want too. I am starting to pick up on clues. While I haven’t gotten a notebook out yet, I’m tempted to make notes on my various viewings. Of course, Redditors are already on the case. But I am not ready to have the answers handed to me. I want to live the story over and over again. I want to see what I can find on my own before I go looking to the hivemind for help.

I’m loving the experience on the iPad with headphones. It feels very intimate as I push Stefan through the world.

Video games keep us in touch

While I don’t play Fortnite, this resonated deeply with me because video games keep me connected to my friends as an adult.

I have a small group of friends I play with regularly, who are scattered around New York City — they’re all busy with their creative, interesting lives, and we don’t see each other enough because we all have shit to do. But we talk fairly often, the rotating four or five of us. About our days, about our feelings, about what’s really going on. For us, Fortnite is an excuse to talk on the phone. It’s an excuse to stay connected.

Via Fortnite was 2018’s most important social network

This is why I play [Destiny](http://destinythegame.com/). I have a [group of friends](http://fr0zen.party/) I met through the game. And I will never be able to hang out with them in Texas and Missouri and England and Australia.

I barely find time to see my friend that lives an hour away in the same state. But gaming keeps us connected. It’s a reason to talk. It’s a place to vent and ask for advice. It’s a place to compare horror stories and find reassurance.

It’s a place to laugh with people. It’s an oasis in adulthood.

Christmas 2018

The Season of Perpetual Food

I have a mixed history with Christmas. I need my alone time and the holidays are filled with people and activities and socializing and more people and travel. Thankfully, this year the travel was done pre-Christmas so I didn’t have to go anywhere more than a few miles to my sister-in-law for the morning to view the ceremonial small child unwrapping presents.

Which we did and had am excellent breakfast there as we played Headbanz. It worked pretty well and showed how hard some of us guessed at very easy items. The premise of the game is you put a card on your head which you can’t see and ask yes/no questions to figure out what it is.

I learned that I overthink the answers and need to keep it to simple things. Example cards were Giraffe, Train and Sandwich.

I struggled mightily with butterfly after determining it had wings and flew, but was not a bird or a bat, or Fly (another card we’d seen earlier).

The main event is of course, the Christmas Dinner. This year we hosted and my wife worked up the menu including a broccoli salad (very fresh and not filled with mayo), roasted potatoes (because the Big Potato mandates their inclusion at every holiday meal) spinach dip with fresh veggies in a sourdough loaf bowl (because you need fuel to prepare the rest of the meal).

The main course would be a double-header of grilled salmon and grilled turkey legs.Grilled SalmonGrilled Turkey Legs

It was my second time grilling turkey legs and my first time grilling salmon. I largely winged the salmon and focused on not over-cooking it. My key to any properly cooked meat is to remove it from the grill about 10 degrees before it hits the recommended temperature. It’s still going to cook inside and instead of dry, tough meat, you have a juicy, moist meal to enjoy.

We set the table. Complete with plants and a small child.

Christmas dinner set at the table with my nephew present.
Christmas dinner set at the table with my nephew present.

Christmas was a success. We sat in front of the fire and played some more Headbanz and visited as adults who have eaten too many delicious foods do on holidays.

Christmas Eve at the movies

I had myself a merry little Christmas Eve. I went to the movies yesterday. I love going to movies alone. I realized today when my mother-in-law commented on it that I may be in the minority of solo movie-goers.

I love a solo movie. I love sitting in an empty theater with a huge screen and surround speakers. I love reclining back and putting my feet up because our closest theaters all have reclining seats now.

I love losing myself in another world. Listening to a story told by the thousands of people it takes to put a movie together. I love trading my afternoon away for an escape to a new world or to rejoin old friends in a familiar place.

I went to three movies today. It wasn’t my plan when I woke up at 9am without an alarm set. But when I looked at MoviePass and saw it had nothing to offer me, I decided to take advantage of the cheap, morning pricing of our local AMC.

First on the docket today was Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse.

I will be the first person to nod along when you say Sony made too many spider-movies. I often think of the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt joke where Titus tries out for Spider-Man Too: 2 Many Spider-Men. Sony had one superhero card to play. So they played it. On repeat. For years. We saw 2 Many Spider-Men come and go. None of them particularly memorable.

As if they were stuck in Bill Murry’s nightmare in Punxsutawney, the spider-men kept reliving the same tragedy. The same story. Trapped on a turntable spinning them round and round into battle against never-ending foes and next time resetting and starting fresh.

This is a new movie. This is a movie that can laugh at itself and as it glosses over the story with a winking “and you know the rest”. It skips the origin story and tells what comes after.

A story about feeling alone. Then learning there are people who know what you’re going through.
A story about family problems (and boy are they!)
A story about figuring out who you are and how you want to be seen by the world.

And that’s just one of the Spider-men.

It was a lot of fun and told an interesting story with a unique style. I enjoyed the comic-book infused style that reminded me of Ang Lee’s 2003 Hulk but taken to a greater level and refined.

This film also offered up the single greatest still from a movie this year.

Miles Morales' Spider-man taking a leap of faith and falling upwards towards upside down buildings.
Spider-man taking a leap of faith.

After Spider-man, it was time to get some exercise. Popcorn and Coke don’t work themselves off. There is a large lake that’s about a mile around near the theater where I was. So I walked about it a few times while I decided how to spend my day next. It was cold but the walk was good. I need some exercise and the moving helped me think and process the movie I’d just seen.

I like to sit with something after I watch it. Even if it was just an animated spider-movie. Nothing that’s going to change my life or leave me thinking about it deep into the night. (Although the Rubik’s Cube…)

I walked for about three miles, caught dozens of Pokemon, took over two gyms and then decided it was time to see Once Upon a Deadpool. I will admit I wasn’t entirely sure what it was before going into it. But Aquaman wasn’t playing at a time that worked for me and the other movies either didn’t appeal to me, I didn’t need to spend the money to see them on the big screen, or they were ones I wanted to see with my wife.

Movie theater marker for Once Upon A Deadpool at 2pm.
PG-13 Deadpool is still Deadpool.

So Deadpool it was. As it turns out, a PG-13 re-cut of Deadpool 2 can still be a lot of fun. I had just watched Deadpool 2 earlier this week so it was fresh in my mind. The Fred Savage parts were fantastic. Especially the scene where Savage wants to f***t Matt Damon. There were a couple of things cut out like the naked butt of Juggernaut and a comment about the softest mouth in the Ice Box. But overall, it was still a fun movie.

There was a short tribute to Stan Lee at the end of the film after the credits rolled. I don’t have a deep comic connection but I couldn’t help marvel (ha!) at the man who had created so many characters and brought so much joy to millions of people.

I have done movie double-headers before in a theater. I’ve watched three movies in a single day before. But never have I seen three movies in a theater on the same day. Until today.

As I was leaving Deadpool, I got a text saying we (the family) were going to see The Grinch that evening.

Movie marquee featuring Mary Poppins Retuns (missing the R in returns) and The Grinch.
I took this picture without realizing it said Mary Popping Retuns until the next morning.

I was impressed with The Grinch. Having seen the 1966 original countless times growing up and the 2000 Jim Carrey version a few times, I didn’t think there was much new ground to cover with the grumpy green monster.

I was wrong.

The Grinch’s personality grew three sizes this day. He has motivation and a backstory. There’s a reason he hates Christmas (and maybe it’s not Christmas at all.) He’s much more developed than I remember in either previous iteration. I feel sorry for the poor guy. With only his little dog for company.

It wasn’t just the Grinch who has a developed personality. Cindy Lou Who is worried about her single mother trying to get by. Her mother is single and that’s a major plot point. There’s a Who of Color played by Kenan Thompson. Pharrell Williams’ narration sounds just like Al Letson from Reveal. I thought any minute now we were going to go behind the scenes of scandals in Whoville.

The gadgets and whatsits were high points for me. The various inventions the Grinch comes up with to aid in his theft of Christmas is a delight. Many of them made me laugh out loud, though the extendable sleigh to reach between houses was my favorite.

I haven’t seen either other Grinch movie recently, but I put this one up at the top of Grinch list. It capped off a wonderful Christmas Eve at the movies.

I rated all three films at Letterboxd. where I put everything I’ve seen this year including 70 I saw using Moviepass.

Zoo Lights

We went to see the Zoo Lights tonight before the shutdown affects the Zoo’s functioning. In all the years I’ve lived near DC I never remember going before.

It was fun to walk through a familiar place at night. I enjoy the zoo because I see something new every time I go.

The animal houses were closed tonight. And even if they weren’t, the animals are sleeping.

Though I was hoping to see the kiwi bird they claim to have there. I’ve looked a dozen times and never seen the small sneaky bird.

One thing that struck me from my youth was the various statues of animals there. Specifically the bear cubs and the anteater. I remember climbing on those statues when I was a kid.

I don’t have many firm memories from the zoo, but I do vividly remember those statues.

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