Jul 102020
 

Book Review: Spark of the ResistanceSpark of the Resistance by Justina Ireland
My rating:

I’m going to take this opportunity to speak on the Young Adult genre before I dive into this review. Granted, this book is actually classified as “Children’s Middle Grade” but I’m going to juxtapose the Young Adult genre to make my point. I am hardly a “young adult”; in fact I probably haven’t been one in 15 (or more) years. Regardless, I won’t turn down a good Young Adult novel, I’ve read quite a few. The genre doesn’t necessarily define the audience.

That being said, this is the first time I’ve read a “Middle Grade” children’s book for myself. Obviously its not a typical genre for me. There are four books in the Journey to Rise of Skywalker series (which includes the novelization of Rise of Skywalker). I really enjoy the new characters from the sequel trilogy and so very I’m eager to read more about them.

Biggs’ Synopsis and Review

This book takes place just a few months after the events of The Last Jedi. Rey, Poe, Rose and BB-8 are returning from a mission on behalf of General Organa. They unexpectedly receive a mysterious distress call, for the Resistance, from Minfar. Leary of a trap the heroes venture to Minfar where they befriend the Zixon and stumble onto a First Order plot.

This book is a mere 224 pages and probably about a 14pt font (perhaps these are characteristics of the “Middle Grade” genre). I really enjoyed the book and I’m very happy that I read it. Of course now I am committed to reading the other books in the series. Granted I’m not terribly upset by that, I had always planned on reading the Rise of Skywalker novelization anyway (I’ve read the novelization of all the other Skywalker movies). In fact I’ve already started a second book in the series. This book is not terribly vulgar or violent and the Zixon are your Ewok-like anthropomorphized creatures; because … Disney. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t hate the characters, just seemed like typical a Disney story mechanic.

It’s a quick, fun read and if you’re interested about the events that lead up to the ninth Skywalker film, I’d recommend reading this one. I mean, we’re all in quarantine anyway. If you’re alone and the weather is nice, you could hop out to the patio or balcony and easily read it in a day.

/MTFBWY

diablo3-reading“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
– Dr. Seuss

 

Jul 052020
 

Top 5 80's Comedy Movies

For July we are back to movies. My top 5 80’s Comedy Movies. The movies from the 80’s are probably some of my favorite movies, and it’s really all thanks to John Hughes. So many of them withstand the test of time. Plus its so much fun to reminisce about a simpler time. There are so many great comedies from the 80’s, which made this list difficult to whittle down to merely 5. I had to go with which movies I find myself quoting often or seeking out a giphy or being able to still recite a specific scene from the movie. So here they are, in no particular order (BTW, John Hughes wrote and/or directed 3 of them).

Obviously, with so many movies to choose from, there are definitely some honorable mentions. I almost feel guilty leaving Caddyshack off the top 5 because it’s freaking Caddyshack. I’m sure Rodney Dangerfield is turning over in his grave. Crocodile Dundee is another one of those movies that, to this day, I would watch if TNT or TBS happened to be playing it. Hands down my favorite Paul Hogan movie, which isn’t terribly difficult since Paul Hogan didn’t make a lot of movies. So many good movies from the 80’s; I probably could have made a top 10 for my favorite 80’s movies. What are your favorite 80’s comedies?

(See last month’s Top 5)

I Have Spoken!

Jun 302020
 

If I Had A Million DollarsActually this is more about if I won the lottery, I just felt the song by the Barenaked Ladies seemed fitting for this random thought. The age old question: What would you do if you won the lottery? They say money changes people and while that may be true for most I do know wealthy people, personally, that are still pretty down to earth.

So I want to start out by saying that, first and foremost, if I won the jackpot I wouldn’t let it change me. In fact I’d want to remain as anonymous as possible. I’d hire a lawyer or proxy to accept the winning on my behalf. I’d even try to maintain my anonymity from family and friends. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean that greedily. I don’t want them to treat me any different and obscurity is the best way to maintain that dynamic.

What Would I Do With The Money

I’d keep working and hope that I can work without becoming too cavalier. I imagine that when you have no fear of losing your job you tend to become lazy. Besides, I’d need something to do during the day or I’d go nuts. I wouldn’t move either. I’d stay in my current home for a couple more years and I’d keep my car until I actually needed to buy a new vehicle. In the meantime I’d make a few investments and some charitable donations (of my choosing). I’d also put together a couple of trust funds for my future generations.

The hardest thing, I imagine, is trying not to be too ostentatious. I’d still buy reliable vehicles, not something luxury just because I can afford it. I’d still only buy a new technology when it was necessary instead of always buying the latest model. I’d still keep my purchases simple and economical (no “dijon ketchup”). See I think the more money you have the more frugal you should be. After all a fool and his money are soon parted. Honestly, what will probably suffer the most is my DIY skills. Instead of attempting to remodel a room myself, I’d hire a professional to do it for me.

/cheers

The things that go through my mind when I’m alone with nothing but my thoughts for entertainment is dangerous. Some might even say eccentric. Consider this your warning about today’s Random Thought of the Day

 

Jun 252020
 

Book Review The Swarm (The Second Formic War, #1)The Swarm by Orson Scott Card
My rating:
(Click here to view on Goodreads)

Ask anyone that knows my taste in books and they will tell you that I love the Ender’s Game Series. It even made my Top 5 Books list. So when I heard about these series of books that are essentially prequels to Ender’s Game, I was immediately interested. Honestly I wasn’t even aware there were books about the first Formic War until I began reading this book. Now I guess my list has grown bigger (since there are still books in the “Enderverse” that I haven’t read yet).

The Swarm is the first book of three in the new Second Formic War series. The third book has not been published, yet. This series follows Mazer, Victor Delgado and Bingwen as they face off against the Formics again, after the tragic events of the First Formic War. This book focuses on the International Fleet’s struggle to gain a tactical advantage over the Hive Queen and her swarm. When a Formic ship is discovered on an asteroid in the Kuiper Belt Bingwen, Victor and Mazer race to gather as much intel as they can to assist the IF and save the human race.

Biggs’ Review

I didn’t do any research about this book before reading it. We found it on sale and decided to buy it because I love the Ender books and my wife had heard good things about it. The rumors are true. I enjoyed this book just as much as I enjoyed his other books. While I haven’t read the First Formic War series, this book begins setting up much of what we see in Ender’s Game. I’m excited to read The Hive to see what other “origin stories” are ahead. Unfortunately I don’t own a copy … yet.

If you’re an Orson Scott Card fan and/or an Ender’s Game fan then this series seems right for you.

View all my reviews

diablo3-reading“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
– Dr. Seuss

 

Jun 242020
 

It's Time for a Fitness UpdateIt’s been a while since I regaled you with my fitness efforts so it’s time for a fitness update. I believe the last time I wrote about it was my “Bad Idea Birthday Run” challenge. The COVID has created new challenges for staying in shape. Stress and quarantine create the perfect storm for indulging in snacks, desserts and vegging on the couch. It’s a huge motivation killer.

I don’t know how other people are managing, especially when gyms were closed. Personally, I never went to a gym because 1) I’m cheap and don’t want to pay for a membership and 2) I’m too introverted to workout in front of strangers. Be that as it may, I’m still maintaining a consistent workout during these crazy times.

Going The Distance

I haven’t had any spikes in weight gain, on the other hand I haven’t had any record weight loss either. In fact I’m more or less maintaining my weight. Granted that’s far better than consistently gaining weight. I am, officially, running 5+ miles a day and I’ve run 8+ miles at least twice on my push days during this pandemic. If you do the math there, that means I have run a combined 13.1 miles (aka a half marathon) over two consecutive days. I’m honestly thinking about just skipping the Flying Pig this year and just push for the Half Marathon in 2021.

As I said, the current state of the world has really negatively impacted my motivation. Sudden changes in my daily routine makes me quite uncomfortable and stressed. It’s been a Catch 22; running reduces stress but I’ve been too stressed to run. Now that summer is officially here that means heat and humidity which makes running especially difficult. Despite all that I’m still trying to run 5 days a week (I might miss a day or two depending on weather and other curve balls). At the time of this post I’m at least 63% of the way done with my Walk to Mordor challenge and I suspect that is a little behind my progress at this time last year.

I feel my motivation slowing returning but with the brunt of the summer upon us it begs the question, how long will it last? Enduring the heat is a challenging obstacle. Time to dig deep!

How have your fitness goals been during the COVID, before the gyms reopened?

minions_icon

I could accomplish so much more if I only had minions!

 

Jun 212020
 

HMDYK About Sir Alec GuinnessAll right, we talked about two bad guys so let’s cover some neat trivia about a good guy. The good guy! Of all of the good guys in Star Wars, I don’t think anyone compares to Obi-Wan Kenobi (except, perhaps, Yoda). The man endured the loss of his best friend/brother to the dark side and even witnessed him slaughtering younglings. Satine Kryze, the woman he cared about most, is murdered right in front of him. He is betrayed by his first in command because of Order 66 and becomes, essentially, one of the last remaining Jedi. After ALL of that, he is never once tempted by the dark side. A Jedi as legendary as Obi-Wan Kenobi can only be initially portrayed by a legendary actor. So how much do you know about Sir Alec Guinness?

Sir Alec Guinness passed away in 2000 from lung cancer at 86 years old. In 1959 he was knighted by Elizabeth II for his contribution to the arts. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and received a lifetime achievement award in 1980. He was only married once and has one child.

Unlike the previous actors, Sir Alec Guinness’ film career spans only 63 credits. However, similar to Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, he has portrayed some pretty notable characters. I really think he is one of those actors more people need to talk about and appreciate. Before we get into his other roles, I want to share some behind-the-scenes Star Wars trivia.

A Love-Hate Relationship

He apparently claims it was his idea that Obi-Wan Kenobi is killed in the first movie to reduce his involvement with the film. He never hated the movie but he did hate the fact that it’s the only role people knew him for despite all his previous roles. I, honestly, don’t blame him; as you will soon see, he had a great career. The other actors in the movies claim he was very professional and very kind, however he once told a fan to “never watch it [Star Wars] again”. Despite his mixed feelings fans, actors and even Disney continue to honor the man that brought us Obi-Wan. Ewan McGregor would spend hours studying his earlier films in preparation for the role of Obi-Wan Kenobi in the prequels. Disney and J.J. Abrams even **cast his granddaughter, Sally Guinness, in Rise of Skywalker to honor his memory.

As I already said, Sir Alec Guinness should be appreciated for more than his role as Obi-Wan Kenobi. He has a lifetime achievement award for only 63 films so you know there is more to this mans’ career than a decrepit hermit Jedi. In the 1940’s he was in a couple film adaptations of some fairly well known novels; Great Expectations and Oliver Twist. Fun Fact: the voice for Watto was modeled after Guinness’s performance as Fagin in Oliver Twist.

He’s in a few other movies you may have heard of; Doctor Zhivago, Lawrence of Arabia and The Bridge on the River Kwai. The latter two films both won Best Picture. Obi-Wan Kenobi is the role that would make him famous but seeing the distinguished career he had prior to Star Wars I feel inclined to go back and watch his other films.

Other Links and References

** just a note about this link, I don’t approve of Screen Rant. I’m not a fan, however this link does provide sufficient coverage of Sally Guinness’ cameo and only for that reason I included it.

/MTFBWY

Confronting fear is the destiny of the Jedi.