September 5, 2017

Dbrand iPhone 6 Skin

It is a curious thing to become bored with a pocket computer that can run thousands of apps, containing technology that was unheard of just over ten years ago. Still, my 3 year old iPhone 6 was starting to feel boring. To spice things up I decided to try out a dbrand skin that I've heard so much about on the MKBHD & Unbox Therapy YouTube channels.


Installation was not bad. I am a perfectionist. I wanted it to be exact. The Apple cutout could not show any silver around the edge. After a couple tries I got it almost perfect. The sides were easy but the corners were a tricky. I re-did each one 3 times and I can still feel rough spots when I run my finger over them.

Once I finished the installation, my initial reaction was one of disappointment. I expected the skin to feel more "premium". Every time I look at it there is a cognitive disconnect. It looks like real leather, so nice and fancy, but it doesn't feel nice and fancy. It doesn't feel like leather at all. It's just weird.

At this point I've been using the dbrand skin for 5 days. I catch myself sometimes just staring at the back of my phone, which is new. It is like an optical illusion. So far the skin is achieving its purpose. My phone feels novel and different. I'm enjoying using it without a case; feeling the thinness. That being said, it is also a little scary. I've been using this phone in various cases for three years. Now all the sudden it is naked. I was uneasy when I went to the gym, and I didn't have secure pockets. I wanted to run back to the safety of wrapping my phone in plastic and rubber, but cases aren't an option with the skin on there.

Aside from being a little extra careful to not drop my phone on concrete, and having to buy one of those workout arm band thingies, the dbrand skin has been a nice change of pace. It looks cool, and I am getting used to the feeling of it. I'll probably buy another one at some point. I am interested to see how long this one will last and how it wears over time, but as of right now I am a fan.


August 19, 2017

I’ve had a lot of feelings about season 7 of Game of Thrones. I have tossed around the idea of writing about it, but I think I am going to wait until the end of the season. I will say that season 7 so far has been much better than seasons 5 or 6, which I had a lot of problems with. After episode 4 (The Spoiles of War) I was ready to declare the series to be back on track and ready for a fabulous finish. It was such a good episode. Then episode 5 (Eastwatch) happened. It was a terrible episode and the idea to capture a whight and take it to King’s Landing is one of the stupidest plot devices I have ever seen. We have 2 episodes left. It looks like this week (episode 6) is going to be action-packed. If something really cool happens it will make up a tiny bit for the idiocy of the plan, which seemed more like an excuse to get a band of characters together for a mission.

The writing of episode 5 was truly sloppy. It was on par with the Bravos subplot of season 5, or the Arya storylines from seasons 5 & 6. I really really really hope the last 2 episodes of season 7 finish strong.

April 7, 2017

Dave Chappelle's Netflix Specials

I watched both of the Dave Chappelle Netflix specials the other day. I was quite amused. I laughed a lot. It was nice to see Dave again. It was also a strange experience. He wasn’t telling jokes as much as he was just talking in front of the camera. It wasn’t always funny, but it was always interesting.

While I was not personally offended by anything Dave talked about, there were a few moments where I thought… oh geez, somebody is going to get mad about this… I wasn’t surprised when I saw negative reviews popping up on the internet.

I enjoyed both of the comedy specials, but I also think these critiques are valid.

March 17, 2017

Commonplace Book

I love pens and notebooks. I have been keeping journals for the last 15 years. I mostly write down thoughts and keep lists, but I am not very structured. I almost never go back and read the things I have written.

A couple of years ago I read about the commonplace notebook. If I had describe it, I would say a commonplace notebook is a physical notebook[1] where you keep track of the best insights you have come across. It is place to log the ideas that resonated the most with you.

Like any journal, a commonplace book can be whatever you want it to be. Here is a reading list that I went through when trying to learn about the commonplace book. I got a lot of insight from these posts.

I recently started my commonplace book in a Baron Fig Confidant. We will see how it goes, but I really hope it sticks. So far I have written down a few quotes, and made notes about a couple of the books I read this year. I plan to add anything I learn from books, movies, articles, or any gems that I happen upon in daily life. Like many of the articles stated, it is important to review your commonplace book and keep those insights in the front of your mind as you continue to grow. Maybe this will be a journal I will actually go back to.


  1. This could also be a digital notebook, but I think a physical notebook would be more effective.  ↩

March 7, 2017

If I had an hour to solve a problem I'd spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.
-Albert Einstein

March 4, 2017

Swiss Army Man

Swiss Army Man is a crazy movie. It is also one of my favorites of the year. I didn’t find it extremely deep. It mostly sticks to stoner philosophy that is ultimately coming from the brain of a disturbed individual. Even so, I found the writing to be clever. I can also see why some people hate this film. If it weren’t for the performances Swiss Army Man could have been a complete disaster. It struck a chord with me. I enjoyed the heck out of it.

I watched Swiss Army Man on Amazon Prime Streaming, where I believe it is still available.

I really enjoyed this movie, while at the same time it doesn’t really feel like a movie. I actually think it would have been more effective as a short film. It feels like the Daniels got high and came up with a handful of good ideas for a story. That story could have been told in 30 minutes, but they decided to build an entire film around it. I enjoyed some of the “filler”, but in the end it didn’t come together for me as a satisfying narrative.

I enjoyed the premise, and there were great moments of writing. It just didn’t feel like a story that needed 1.5 hours of screen time. Maybe if I go back and watch it again I will feel differently.

I found it intriguing how the movie presents us with so many disgusting ideas and images… but then tries to mold that into something beautiful. Ultimately, if you go along for that ride and are able to see even a bit of beauty in the story, I think you will like the film.

February 5, 2017

Book Review - Deep Work

One of my goals for 2017 was to read more nonfiction books. I wanted to use time that had previously been spent on wasteful things to read books that would broaden my perspective and make me better.

In an effort to keep myself focused on what I am reading I also have the goal to write about those books. This will be my first post.

Deep Work starts off by making the case that “deep work” is valuable. It doesn’t really define the concept of deep work other than describing the act of thinking really hard about something without being interrupted.

I chose this book because I often feel distracted. I wanted to read something that would help me focus on what is important. Deep Work seemed like a great choice to start out 2017. January was all about focus for me. Deep work requires focus, so this seemed like a great book for me to read to begin the year.

The book talks about how easy it is to be distracted in the age of the internet. Most people are distracted. Our culture is distracted. Being distracted is easy. Focusing is hard.

Deep Work makes the case for why it is so important to achieve that focus. However, it doens’t really tell you how or what you should be doing. The book gives you tips on how to remove distraction. It makes the case for why you should delete your social media accounts. However, “thinking really hard” about things still seems like an elusive goal after I was finished reading. The way the book describes deep work is almost like an act of meditation.

Overall I enjoyed reading the book and thought it had valuable insights. You should not expect a playbook of how to achieve “deep work”, but rather a theoretical analysis of why you should strive for it. There isn’t a whole lot of practical advice, but it doesn’t mean that the ideals of the book are not without merit.

Deep Work set the tone my 2017. I have been striving to remove distraction from my life, and Deep Work reinforced why that is important. I think I will try to read this book again, which is very rare for me to say.

I am not sure what I expected out of this book, but I feel a little disappointed by it. I feel like it basically told me I need to “think harder”, but it didn’t really tell me what that means or how to do it. It seems like if I build a cabin in the middle of the woods isolated from all of the distractions of our current society I should be able to think the deepest thoughts I have every conceived of in my life. However, that is not something that is in the budget right now. I guess I will feebly try to think deeply at my own cubicle for now.

January 17, 2017

I am about to write a post that fits into a sub-genre of blog posts that I don’t really like. It is the post where I explain that I haven’t been posting lately, and try to explain why. I might even tell you that I am planning to post a lot more going forward. I’m not even going to give this post the satisfaction of having a title. It is just going to be logged in the archives as a random untitled update, so it barely even counts as a blog post at all.

I started this site years ago to write about movies. These days I don’t watch all that many movies. I have definitely lost my “film nerd” classification. Nowadays when I do watch movies I don’t necessarily feel the need to share my opinion on the Internet.

In general, I am not sure whether writing on the Internet is even a worthwhile endeavor. I go back and forth on the subject. More often than not I think writing for (the idea of) an audience is a good thing for me. It forces me to consolidate thoughts and processes them into coherent ideas. When I don’t write for long periods of time I find myself missing it.

So here we are.

If I want to write a blog I think I am supposed to decide what I want my blog to be about. I think I am supposed to be specific. I need to find a niche. People want to read about a single thing, that is the only reason they will keep coming back. That is a problem.

I tend to believe the area of film criticism is covered by tons and tons (and tons) of writers on the internet. I don’t honestly believe I am bringing anything new or noteworthy by writing about my thoughts on a movie. That idea used to discourage me. It still might. Still, I plan to continue to write about movies, television, and media in general. I also plan to write about other stuff. I don’t know what yet.

Like most people, I think about a lot of things. Most of those thoughts or concepts rattle around in my brain for a while and then they are gone. Time permitting, I would like to write down my thoughts on whatever it is that happens to be passing across my synapses. Sometimes I may form those into a blog post. Sometimes I will post those blog posts.

Anyway. Stay tuned.

November 29, 2016

Westworld - Pre Finale Thoughts

I’ve been meaning to write about Westworld all season. I guess this is my last chance to hypothesize and speculate before we are given all the answers[1]. I wish I had written my thoughts from episode one. There have been so many theories. It would be fun to look back on.

It is hard to believe the first season of Westworld is almost over, especially since we know it won’t be coming back for a year and a half. I have been sucked into the Westworld vortex. I have gone down the rabbit hole. I’ve thought so much about Westworld it feels like I have been watching for much longer than 9 weeks.

I have throughly enjoyed the experience of watching Westworld week to week then reading reviews online and even listening to a podcast each week. When I get this involved in a tv show I tend to build it up to a point where it can no longer meet my expectations. For the most part I felt like I was avoiding this with Westworld. However, that changed after episodes 8 & 9. As they started wrapping things up I started to lose confidence in an amazing ending.

Episode 8 (Trace Decay) had a lot of awkward exposition, especially from the “Man in Black”. He was my favorite character for the first half of the season, but has quickly lost whatever it was that made him interesting. He does feel like the one wildcard that isn’t under Ford’s complete control. I’m holding out hope the Man in Black has a satisfying ending.

I am firmly on board with the theory that the show we have been watching is taking place in (at least) two timelines. The William & Logan timeline took place 30 years before the current timeline; where the rest of the show takes place. I also believe William from 30 years ago is the Man in Black in present day.

Up until this past episode I believed that Arnold was never an actual person. That has all but been disproven now. I believe we have seen the rail Arnold speaking with Dolores and we just assumed it was Bernard.

Here is a bullet list of thoughts going into the finale.
  • I feel like episode 9 further confirmed the multiple timelines theory. It also appears that Dolores is retracing the steps of the look she took with William (aka Man in Black) 30 years before. It also appears she has made this same “loop” several times.
  • From the moment we found out Bernard was a host I believed that he was created in the image of Arnold. That was confirmed. What is more confusing than ever is when Bernard was created. I had initially believed he was created shortly after Arnold died. Based on episode 9 it seems like he may have been created as recently as 5–10 years ago.
  • I have a hunch that Ford’s new storyline has a much greater scope than what we see with Teddy & Wyatt. I think everything that is happening is somehow Ford’s doing… including all of the Maeve and Dolores stuff. The Man in Black is the only thing that isn’t Ford pulling the strings.
  • I think the maze is not a physical place. I think the maze is a sequence of events that the Man in Black has been trying to get to match up for a while now. All of the character loops have to align for him to find the center of the maze. I don’t know what is there, but I think Arnold will be present.
  • I think Dolores is Wyatt. I am not sure how to explain this one. I don’t have a lot of evidence. I think the massacre at Escalante that Teddy and Dolores remember actually happened, and Dolores was the killer. I am not sure of the circumstances where she kills Arnold though. If this is true and Dolores went crazy and killed everybody… why hasn’t she been decommissioned?
  • I think Maeve is setting up to carry out a similar massacre. I’m not sure how it will all go down, but I would not be surprised to see Maeve walk in and start mowing people down.
  • Is Elsie dead?
  • Are all of the workers that program and repair hosts themselves hosts?
  • Will the picture of the maze be explained? We have seen it so many times at this point.
  • Is anybody actually smuggling data out of the park? Who?
  • Why don’t we ever see Dolores’s mother?
  • What is the story behind the gun? What is its significance. I think we will definitely get that answer.
  • What did Dolores do to make Ford so mad at her? 
This season of Westworld has delivered some of the greatest moments of tv I have seen in the last couple of years. These moments have been sandwiched between bewildering dialog and awkward plotting. I have excused most of it because I don’t know the end. Maybe it all has a purpose and will come together to be a cohesive narrative. Maybe it will be a disappointment. We will find out next week. Either way, I have really enjoyed watching this season.

  1. I don’t believe for a second we will get all the answers in the finale.  ↩

August 18, 2016

Stranger Things

The Netflix original series have been hit and miss, so when I heard about Stranger Things I was cautiously optimistic. Then I heard it was a modern take on an 80’s Amblin film. At that point I thought about Super 8 and I got kind of scared. I decided I was going to give it a shot. Everything deserves a shot. From the first episode I was hooked.

Stranger Things is an eight episode Netflix series by the Duffer Brothers. It is hard sci-fi, and at times it is quite scary. It is clear that the Duffer’s are huge fans of Steven King, Steven Speilberg, and 80’s aesthetic and storytelling in general. Stranger Things almost feels like something that was made 30 years ago and lost; only to be unearthed by Netflix in 2016. You can see just how much they borrowed from their 80’s inspirations in this YouTube video.

I really enjoyed Stranger Things. It was a ton of fun to watch. Like I said, I got hooked in right from the beginning and I didn’t stop until I was finished. I watched all eight 45 minute episodes in a week. Which is extremely fast compared to my normal pace of tv watching.

There were a lot of things to like about Stranger Things. I loved the music. The cold intros and then cuts to the title sequence worked really well. The cinematography was beautiful. There are some memorable shots. I’m sure a lot of them were inspired by classic 80’s films. I didn’t care. I thought Stranger Things looked awesome.

The characters and performances are well done. It feels like so much care and planning was put into make the aesthetic of the film feel authentic.

I was surprised by how much Stranger Things hooked me in and made me want to keep watching. It is hard-core sci fi, which typically isn’t my thing. It can also be quite scary at times… also not my thing. More importantly, it is a visually interesting and well told story, and I can get on bored with that. Even though the plot felt somewhat meaningless, it was a fun watch that I would gladly revisit. I have a lot of questions about the monster and the “upside down”, but I would probably be content if they never got answered.

It seems like Stranger Things has been a big success. I haven’t heard if it has been renewed for a 2nd season, but I imagine it will. At the end of the first season it was definitely left open to continue the story on. I would rather see Stranger Things come back with an entirely new story. Either way, I will be looking forward to watching more.