We are deep into the summer in the states. While the Delta variant of COVID is keeping us still stressed a bit, the news is also filled with the drought, fires and flash floods that are haunting the west. Here in Texas, it's been a pretty mild summer.
The Olympics in Tokyo just started up. I really enjoyed the awesome pictogram performance during the opening ceremonies. Now we're following the initial events. Mainly gymnastics, skateboarding, diving, table tennis, badminton, canoeing and a few others.
After the first gathering we've had for a while things are pretty much back to normal. So not much to report other than that our traditional trip to Mexico (cancelled last year) is sold out for this year. I'm going, too, as it really is something extra special. Just hope new COVID variants don't blow up to put the plans in jeopardy.
- The Tomorrow War was really awful in the parts without any action.
- Smoke Signals (1998) is an independent film about a road trip two American indian friends take to collect the ashes of one's estranged father from far away. Like the characters and insight into their world.
- In the Heights is a rather enjoyable musical set in Washington Heights in NYC. Being from Lin-Manuel Miranda, I was anticipating it to be good, and wasn't disappointed.
- Smoke (1995) is about some characters who hang out around a smoke shop in NYC. Good movie. Interesting characters. Felt like I should have been sitting in the Ritz Theater in Philly watching this.
- Fear Street: 1994, Fear Street: 1978, and Fear Street: 1666 could be recut to be a single film, but the entire series was a pretty fun experience. Enough that I watched them all over a week. The first film establishes that Shadyside and Sunnyvale are the two towns once part of a single one, named Union. A curse has been on Shadyside. Every generation there someone goes bonkers and kills a lot of people. The first film, 1994, gives us the details in film reminiscent of a 90's horror film. 1978, goes back to the last generation in a 70's style horror film to give us details relevant to what's going on in 1994. Then 1666 goes back to the curse's origin. That comprises only half the film, since they need time to bring the focus back to the future in 1994 to close out the film. To be clear, the characters don't time travel but the same actors/actresses play descendants in some cases. Had a blast with the series.
- Luca is a fresh Pixar film about sea monsters who appear as human on land. Small story, but as with all things Pixar, better than most films.
- Black Widow was about as good a Marvel film as I could have hoped for. I think trying to tie the continuity into things can make it confusing as a stand-alone film, but I enjoyed the heck out of it anyway.
- In the Company of Men (1997) Another independent film from the 90's. The characters in this are a hundred (okay maybe a thousand) times more disgusting today than they were back when this movie came out. The ending stuck the landing though. Heart wrenching and despicable. One of those good, well-made movies that's hard to watch.
The Talisman boardgame has been around since 1983. It's currently in it's fourth edition and has a lot of expansions which can turn the base game board into a gigantic one that's about four times its size. I personally find it hard to play with more than two of them. Each expansion has new characters though and there are maybe over a hundred of them. That combined with the number of cards and victory conditions make it very replayable.
A downside is that it is very dice driven. Luck is a significant factor. Some characters, plus many objects and spells, have the ability to manipulate your rolls, but you're never a single dice roll away from calamity somehow. There are even rare cards/events where you lose all of your lives forcing you to restart your character from the beginning.
And don't get me started on spells. They can be the worst or best depending on whether or not you are casting them or on the receiving end. Some spells just bump up your stats, but some allow a play to steal lives or objects/followers from other players. It's a bit of an emotional rollercoaster ride to find some awesome relic or treasure to have another player cast a spell and take it away from you.
Overall, though, it's a pretty fun, relatively mindless game. You can't have too much of a strategy with so much randomness. I'd played the game mostly on flights since a game can take a little while and the app's music is great. I saw I'd missed a few expansions so I caught up with them and have been playing it again a number of time.