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Showing posts from August, 2016

Movie Review: Blackfish (2013)

Blackfish is a masterpiece. It boasts excellent writing, tight editing, and deeply moving music.

Blackfish is a documentary about Tilikum, a male orca who in 2010 killed Dawn Brancheau, a senior trainer at SeaWorld. Using old and recent footage, interviews, and possibly some undercover filming, director Gabriela Cowperthwaite maintains a sympathetic focus on Tilikum while exposing unethical SeaWorld practices and the cost of keeping killer whales in captivity.

There are three main threads to the story: Tilikum’s capture, at age 2, and subsequent misery in his artificial environments; the disillusionment of four former SeaWorld trainers, who knew the killer whales best; and the contrast between the incredibly close social bonds of wild orcas and their sad, short lives in the marine parks.

When the orca craze hit in the seventies, the traumatic separation of young whales from their family was captured on film. One of the men involved remembered the other whales in the pod staying close a…

Goodbye, Baller Life

Last week we moved to a new place. And in doing so, we said goodbye to the building where Junior spent his entire life, not to mention the many luxuries it afforded:

1) The View

We had floor-to-ceiling windows facing south that offered magnificent glimpses of the South End all the way to the Blue Hills, sunrises, sunsets, and, crucially, traffic jams on I-93. Whenever I saw angry traffic lights lined up on the highway, I would text Hubby a warning so he could take an alternate route home from work.

Bonus: we were in sight of the Tufts Medical Center helipad, and Junior was very excited to see helicopters landing and taking off practically every other day.

2) The Pool

While only open in the summer, the roof deck pool was awesome. Here is where I got my exercise while Junior lived rent-free in my uterus, and here is where he learned to enjoy "jumping" into the water with his new life vest. I put that in quotation marks because Junior is (thankfully) cautious around water and h…

A Transit Cop and I Had a Chat This Morning

My commute is easy. From Chinatown, I bike about three miles through the Back Bay, South End, and part of the Emerald Necklace on Fenway Street, below:

The worst part of my ride comes early on: the four-way intersection at Charles Street and Stuart Street. This is because Stuart, which is my fastest path to the Back Bay, becomes a one-way street, plus a lot of cars run the red light at that junction. So after I dodge the inevitable rushing driver(s), I get up onto the sidewalk for two blocks down so I don't go against traffic. After that, it's a straight -- and legit -- shot towards work down Columbus Avenue.

This morning, after completing my usual initial maneuvers and waiting at the light on Columbus and Berkeley, a transit officer rode up beside me.

"Were we supposed to go down that sidewalk back there?" he asked me. "On that one way street?"

I stared blankly at him.

"I was right behind you," he revealed.

And then a bulb lit up on top of my he…

Movie Review: Star Trek Beyond (2016)

Star Trek Beyond is entertaining and predictable. Co-written by the excellent Simon Pegg, it grapples with heavy themes but is mostly memorable because of its clever dialogue. The acting is fine, with the cast members (RIP Anton Yelchin) demonstrating their excellent rapport; the soundtrack is appropriately epic and, later, hilariously well applied; and the visuals and makeup are terrific. Overall, this latest movie in the rebooted series is well worth a trip to the theater.

Plot summary: Captain James T. Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise encounter Krall, who believes that the Federation itself is “an act of war.”

When the movie begins, the Enterprise is three years into its five-year mission in deep space. The captain is restless and wonders at the futility of exploring something as endless as the universe. During a stop at Starbase Yorktown, Kirk and Spock (Zachary Quinto) contemplate alternate paths. But along comes a scientist in distress, pleading for someone to rescue her team…

Game Review: Assassin's Creed Rogue (PS3)

Assassin's Creed Rogue (AC Rogue) focuses on Shay Cormac, an Irish Assassin in the 18th century. This 2014 entry into the AC series boasts improved gameplay and controls, the primary reward being the ease and rewards of remaining undetected while completing missions. These improvements balance the weakness of the main character and the modern Templar antagonist. Overall, AC Rogue's technical achievements outweigh its writing deficiencies.

To the numbers!
Gameplay: 10/10 Glorious. Every familiar element has been refined: climbing is a joy, sailing is breathtaking, and earning money is a breeze. Combat controls, which have been my constant complaint about the series, are now responsive. The developers even removed the ability to holster four pistols at once, like in AC Black Flag, which I thought was fair since the four shots made things a bit too easy. All these elements combine to make Shay's journey challenging in the right ways (as opposed to because of glitches or shoddy…