Middle of the MLB: 2016

21.Minnesota Twins – Well this team came out of nowhere last year and I think we can thank skipper Paul Molitor for that, but with the improvements that the Tigers and White Sox made I think this team got pushed back to the bottom of a tough division. Phil Hughes actually matched his record setting low walks issued with 16, but his K rate fell off in a Hughe way… hopefully he can rekindle some of his 2014 efficiency again. Joe Mauer hasn’t been good since he lost his bromantic partner Justin Morneau, but clearly it’s all his fault the Twins suck now because of his big contract and it has nothing to do with his concussion like symptoms. In the year of the rookie Twin fans have to be a little disappointed and cautiously optimistic about Byron Buxton, who couldn’t figure out major league pitching at all and struck out in almost a 3rd of his at bats. I know Mike Trout struggled initially, but Buxton struggled with a 31% K rate and his stats look much worse than Trouts ever did. Maybe I’m setting the bar too high, but I expect great things from Buxton. Speaking of rookie studs, Miguel Sano smashed 18 HRs during his rookie year yet still somehow managed a K rate worse than Buxton’s at a whopping 35%. Those HRs though, real sexy, and he had some of the best hard contact in the majors. The Twins still have a ton of talent waiting to be called up, but for now they’re in an awkward phase of having veteran players fading out of their prime and young guys not quite ready to pick up that mantle. And they’ve lost ace Mike Pelfry, they have no chance this year.

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Bottom of the MLB: 2016

30: Milwaukee Brewers– They’re a rebuilding team in a tough division, outside of their “Watch the Game with Your Dog and Eat a Free Dog” promotion and their mascot Hank,  they don’t have much to look forward to in the immediate future. They have two established stars in Ryan Braun and Jonathan Lucroy, one with a tarnished reputation and one already packing his bags, and basically no one else. This team looks like the discarded extras of the Astros, when they were bottom of the league. It worked out for Detroit, but for every JD Martinez there’s Nameless Player A we don’t hear of ever again. The pitching staff is lead by Matt Garza, not a good thing to say about a rotation in 2016. Wily Peralta clocks in as one of the hardest throwing hurlers in baseball, but he’s still pretty terrible. It’s not all bad, Scooter Gennet is still one of the coolest names in baseball and their logo is still the best as well; but Miller is a bad beer and so is this team.

ryan braun

The lovable Hank juxtaposed with the hatable Braun. Cuteness > Brains> Braun

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Don’t Settle for Just Settlers of Catan

CatanCitiesKnightsINSettlers of Catan is one of the most complicated and addicting board games I’ve ever had the pleasure of playing. The in-depth rulebook can be a little intimidating initially, and it’s almost impossible to explain the rules to an inexperienced person without giving them a mild panic attack, but once you play the game everything becomes clear.

Winning this game is so rewarding because it feels more like a game of strategy than a game of luck. When I finally won it felt more rewarding than, sadly?, most things I’ve accomplished in my life. Winning in Catan > my 6th place high school hurdles medal. The popular board game has spawned countless expansion packs that enhance the original. Settlers of Catan acted as a gateway drug to the Cities and Knights expansion pack, which in my opinion, is superior and enhances gameplay in every way. I can’t go back now, I can’t settle for just Settlers of Catan anymore as it’s boring compared to the expansion. Continue reading

Uber: Driver Beware

uber-app

I hate driving and if you don’t use your signals, I hate you too. I get lost all the time despite having GPS and traffic is the most maddening thing to me. So I’m not quite sure why I signed up to be an Uber driver, but it was incredibly easy. Actually I do know why- I had a car, I had spare time, gas is dirt cheap, and I was under the impression I could make a lot of money. It seemed like a great idea to make extra cash, but after actually doing it a few times it wasn’t really for me. Driving was the last thing I wanted to do and the pay wasn’t worth it. If you have a car that’s at least a 2006 model or newer and a driver’s license, you can basically become an Uber driver.

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Done with Dune

dunes

Dune is one of the most ubiquitous fantasy novels ever written and maybe because of this reason, I found the book incredibly boring. Undoubtably author Frank Herbert created an expansive and unique universe; however, when the central themes revolve around the intricacies and political bodies of space spice-mining operations, well, it isn’t particularly captivating. The giant sandworms are a fascinating concept and were my favorite part of the novel, but these creatures didn’t feel too original. In the science fiction world if there’s sand, chances are high there’s also something massive below the surface. Dune came out in the 60s and it had such an impact on people that there are still references to it even today, even if younger generations don’t realize it. This was the first book to have giant sandworms, but today it feels like everyone has used these creatures.  Heck, there’s even an episode of Spongebob referencing giant sandworms. The universe crafted by author Frank Herbert doesn’t feel original because it’s been emulated in the science fiction genre so often.
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The Good Dinosaur: Not Good Enough

It’s easy to see while watching the Good Dinosaur just how much the animation has improved from Pixar’s first movie. And it’s not like Pixar ever had poor animation quality, it’s just that visually speaking the Good Dinosaur is absolutely stunning and features some of the most breathtaking background animation I’ve ever seen. Despite the great visuals I still walked away from the film feeling a little unsatisfied.

The Good Dinosaur is a movie made for kids and for that reason alone it’s not worth going to see in theaters for anyone without kids. There will be at least one crying baby when you watch it. When I saw the film there was more noise generated by the audience than at an opened mouth chewing contest and fireworks convention combined. For that reason alone I would wait for it to come out on DVD before viewing it, if at all.
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Run Away from Jury Duty

Jury-Duty (1)
Guilty, that’s how I felt heading into court; but I wasn’t going there for my trial, I was summoned for jury duty. It’s one of our most dreaded liberties, but as an unemployed bum with no excuse I felt guilty for wanting to skip out and force people with jobs to cover for me. I should be there; I don’t have better things to do with my time. So on a cloudy somber morning I went to court with my head held low, resigned to my duty in a jury.

After being shuttled over to the courthouse we were ushered into a cramped room to await further instructions. They gave out name tags and shitty coffee before eventually assigning me to a courtroom. Usually people employed are required by law to be paid normally for a week by their employer, but after that expires the court pays you a whopping $40 a day. People that were unemployed would be paid $5 dollars a day. I felt this was unfair compensation, a tin can on the side of the road could get more than $5 a day.

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The World of Ice and Fire: It’s a Small World After All

the world not a world
The enormity of the book reminds me of my old 9th grade AP history textbook, but with content much more interesting. The format and story is more similar to a non-fiction book than a work of fiction, but its visuals make the book a little easier to read. Honestly I enjoyed the art more than the content, however, it can be cumbersome to read at times and it somehow it feels like it has a dearth of information. Depraved and thirsty for more A Song of Ice and Fire material I went to this book to satisfy my cravings, but came away hungry for more. That’s the thing with this story, I don’t think it’s possible to be satisfied.

George RR didn’t write this, but he did edit it. The “story” is written from the perspective of a fictional maester, so everything included isn’t technically fact because this is a character’s interpretation of history, but for the most it’s safe to assume the content is accurate. The book has a never ending output of names, especially at the Targaryen Dynasty, so it can be hard to differentiate characters and it can be a little overwhelming for some readers.
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Book vs Movie: The Martian

martian book cover vs book cover
They changed the book cover of The Martian to Matt Damon’s face and his eyes stare into your soul as you read the book, it’s a little unnerving. I never pictured Damon as main character Mark Watney during my read, despite having his face shoved down my throat by the cover, but I enjoyed his performance in the movie. I usually don’t read books like this, but I enjoyed the fiction and sort of non fiction fusion that the story tells. The book was an easy read as most of story is told through Watney self narrating his thought process on how to survive on Mars. The Martian is basically a mix between survivor tv shows, with Mars being the tough terrain, and some Myth Buster explosive science thrown in. I felt like I learned something reading this book.

Matt Damon handled the character well, but too often I was watching Matt Damon trapped on Mars instead of the Mark Watney in The Martian. An actor of his caliber made me grow attached and feel his raw emotion as he tries to survive on Mars. His performance put me on the verge of tears even though I read the book prior to the movie and knew he would survive. The humor of the character felt a little forced at times in the book, but Damon made it feel more natural. Humor was a huge reason the audience grew attached to Watney, so that was a key trait to the character. Damon’s character appeared to lose a ton of weight through the course of the movie, but apparently that was just CGI. It’s okay Matt, I’ll give you a slide, you did a good job. Just stay off the book cover next time.
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MTV Scream: More Yawns than Screams

Scream MTV simplistic
Is this a good show? No. Is it an entertaining show? Sure, if you watch with someone who frightens easily and don’t take it seriously. The show is set in MTV’s typical drama filled high school, but with a Scream themed slasher thriller backdrop. All the fun and suspense of the movie Scream drawn out over 10 episodes with a modern twist.

The show was surprisingly popular and earned itself a second season halfway through the pilot. Scream was a successful movie because of how meta/self aware the characters were and how they at least tried to subvert typical horror story cliches. Still, I’m pretty surprised how durable the franchise has been, but then again any success with an initial horror movie spawns countless sequels. They’ve made, what like, 6 Paranormal Activity movies? Logically, TV shows were the next step.
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