Sunday, November 16, 2014

Midterm selections

The recent release of Interstellar and my subsequent inability to see it over a week into its release - as well as the fact that I recently caught up on all of my grading and finished my end-of-term report cards - has prompted me to reflect on a number of other things I have missed in pop culture over the past few months, what with all the craziness of summer camp, moving, and starting a new teaching job. I started off my lamenting the things I had missed, but then, as I started to think about it more, I realized that there were many more things that I had to be thankful for enjoying over the past few months - including being employed again. I was pleasantly surprised to note that the list of things I have missed is significantly shorter and less substantial than the list of things I have been enjoying, so I thought it would be useful for my sake (and yours) to write them down to give a clearer picture of the current state of life. So here's my account of what I have missed and what I have enjoyed over the past few months, as well as a few things I am looking forward to over the next couple of months.

What I have missed:

Gotham (TV) - This was the only new TV show other than Selfie that actually interested me enough to consider having missed it, but it's representative of the entire new TV season. I'm a few weeks behind on Survivor, but that's about it. Of course, it's never a bad idea to wait and see which series thrive and which are cancelled by Christmas, so I'll catch up on Gotham if it ends up being worth it (which it seems like it might).

Doctor Who Series 8 (TV) - My wife and I watched hard to catch up on Series 7 in time to watch the new doctor on Series 8 as it came on, and then the whole new season came and went without us watching an episode. We'll probably blitz it over Christmas holidays.

Gone Girl (movie) - Other than the aforementioned Interstellar, this was the only movie that I really wanted to see that I missed. It has been a pretty lackluster few months, as September and October often are. That will change soon, although I'm still tempted to read the book before I watch the movie. Hmmm...

Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS - Although I recently acquired a 3DS, I decided to wait on Super Smash Bros. I (correctly) figured that I would not really have time to play it, and I think I am better off waiting for the Wii U version anyway. (More on that later...)

Pretty much every hobby I have - Aside from a few small instances, I have mostly had to put a hold on most of my hobbies. I've been to a thrift store once; I have played very few board games; I have not made any bead sprites. I hope this does not sound too complain-y, but it has been my reality lately - though I have been enjoying playing more video games than usual thanks to feeling mostly drained by the end of my schoolwork.

What I have been enjoying:

U2's Songs of Innocence - The lads dropped their new album suddenly in September, and it's most of what I have been listening to since. It's a little rough around the edges at times, but it mostly stands up with their material in the last 15 years. I have been watching, reading, and listening to lots of U2 in the wake of the album's release (more than usual, anyway), and it has been great to get back in touch with them.

Hyrule Warriors - The Dynasty Warriors-meets-Zelda mash-up has been pretty much the only game I have played since its release in late September. It's a lot of fun as a two-player game, too. The best part: I'm just barely starting to feel like I could get tired of it soon. I like it when games earn their keep.

Survivor - The newest edition of Blood vs. Water has been relatively interesting so far (pun intended), but it's about to get a lot better now that they're in the last half of the season.

The Riders - Well, maybe enjoying is not the right word, since their season took a turn for the terrible a week after I arrived back in the province and ended ignominously (though predictably) at the hands of Edmonton (actually at their hands - five interceptions!), but I have been appreciating and watching more games since I returned. Plus, I got to go to a game for the first time in over six years (vs. Edmonton on Oct. 19), so there's that. And next season.

Counting calories - The day after that Rider game, I started using the app MyFitnessPal to track my caloric intake, and it has been eye-opening over the past four weeks as to what kind of calories I'm taking in each day. I'm much better during the week, and Halloween was a bit of a mess, but at least I'm tracking, even if I'm not exercising yet. One step at a time.

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver - When you have a spare four hours, just start watching the YouTube channel for this show. Oliver is brilliant, and this is some of the best journalism happening right now. I just wish I could use some of his rants in class, but alas, it is on HBO (even if they bleep the cussing, I still can't use them).

Amazon/Ebay - Though I have not done much in-person thrifting, I have made a few purchases online to cross things off my wishlists. Also, having a job makes it easier to spend money; not to mention getting a new phone with apps for easy access. Besides, it's a lot of fun to get packages delivered to my new address! I'm just glad this has not been a slipperier slope than it has been.

Teaching - As much as it may seem like I am mired in a constant lament about returning to teaching, I am loving being back in the classroom. I have a heavy semester, which has been part of the problem, but I do genuinely love what I do, even when it consumes my life 10-12 hours per day.

Saskatchewan - I have really been enjoying being back here - even shoveling snow! It has been great to reconnect with old friends, to be revisiting old haunts and establishing new ones, and of course to be close to family, especially my 15-month-old nephew. I miss the Island, but it's good to be here.

What I'm looking forward to:

Catching up on TV - Aside from the aforementioned Gotham and Doctor Who there are a few other shows I would like to catch up on, namely Louie (Season 4); Fargo (Season 1); and Broadchurch. I don't know when they will happen, but they will be watched. It might be a busy Christmas break, especially because I will also have The Newsroom (Season 3) to watch. I still have to finish Season 2, but I'm still a sucker for Sorkin in all of his Sorkin-ness. Count me in for the final season. And the upcoming final sixth season of Justified starting in January.

Super Smash Bros for Wii U (Nov. 21) - I did not pick up the 3DS version, but I will buy the Wii U version this weekend when it releases. Mega Man, Little Mac, Pac-Man...this is going to be fun!

Movies - We're moving into one of my favourite seasons of the cinematic year. Not only do I have to catch up on Boyhood, Gone Girl, and Interstellar (among others), but there are a number of new films being released that have caught my attention. I'll see Mockingjay Part 1 mainly because I will have to as a high school English teacher, but it's not high on my list. The top two on my radar from two o fmy favourite directors are Bennett Miller's Foxcatcher and P.T. Anderson's Inherent Vice. Others that are in my view mainly because of the awards buzz are Birdman, The Imitation Game, The Theory of Everything, Selma, and Unbroken. That'll keep me busy for a while.

Board Games - There are a number of games being released over the next month or two that are very high on my to play list, even to the point that I would buy most of these without playing them. They include: the new Babel expansion for my all-time most-played game 7 Wonders; Roll for the Galaxy, the new dice-based implementation of Race for the Galaxy; King of New York, the new "sequel" to King of Tokyo; Temporum, Donald X. Vaccharino's (Dominion, Kingdom Builder) time-travel game; and AquaSphere, Stefan Feld's new sci-fi game. I am also looking forward to receiving my Kickstarted edition of Scoville, a game involving harvesting hot peppers, as well as expansions for Among the Stars, Flash Point: Fire Rescue, and The Resistance. Not to mention all of the other games I have bought over the past few months that I have had limited opportunity to play...

Christmas vacation - It starts in 5 weeks, and I will have earned it.


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