Saturday, December 31, 2022

Annual Diet: Vegetarian January, Vegan February

I've been following an Annual Diet after the US Holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Day) for several years now. It makes a good de facto New Year's resolution, and covers a good winter period where I'm mostly indoors (due to allergies).

Here are the ground rules...

  • JANUARY 1-31: Ovolactovegetarian
    • No meats for a month
      • Exceptions: eggs and dairy (milk, cheese, butter)
  • FEBRUARY 1-28: Vegan
    • No meats for 28 days
    • No dairy (milk, cheese, butter) for 28-29 days
      • Exception: Omnivore diet for Super Bowl Sunday (mid-February), possibly ghee
Oh, and if there is an emergency (sickness, or major power outage affecting refrigeration), the diet goes back to full omnivore.

That's it!

Some great non-meat ideas:
  • curry with rice
  • nachos
  • cabbage tacos
  • three-bean chili
  • cauliflower cheddar bake
  • cauliflower tikka masala
  • one pan pasta
  • caprese salad (or crostini)
  • pesto (with bread/chips)
  • home fries
  • vegan paella

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Anticipation of Dread (Metroid 5 speculation and Nintendo nostalgia)

[NOTE: contains some mild spoilers for the Metroid saga, but no spoilers for Metroid Dread]

It was a shock to hear that Nintendo had produced Metroid 5 (Dread) and it would be ready-to-play in October, no less. And I was also surprised to find I've never really written about the franchise. So, here we are... 2021 is a long way from 1994, when I first played a Metroid game.

Super Metroid was a seminal moment. I was thirteen. I recall two things happening in that point in my life. One, I was drinking huge glasses of Metamucil. There was a motherly thought that I wasn't getting enough fiber, so I'd consume the supplement after school while gazing up at the TV pixels. Two, I had relatives visiting while I was in the thick of exploring Zebes. I was so engrossed in the game that I would be zoned-out when they tried to engage me. I regret this memory as an adult, but I admit I was a socially-awkward kid having a "watershed moment".

Super Metroid existed in a pre-WWW time, where there was a reliance on hearsay and printed media for hints on such a maze-like map (or a tricky boss fight). But, I don't remember any friends or neighbors playing Metroid, so I must have figured it out solo. I did have the game manual, but that's was the extent of my knowledge of lore. Besides, video game canon is disregarded easily.

Putting "Super" in front of SNES games was a gimmick, but for Metroid 3 I think there is a subtext. It is a story that picks up after Samus Aran has exterminated all but one of the titular species (see also, Metroid II story). The larva is stolen by Space Pirates for weaponizing purposes. Eventually, the hatchling grows to be gigantic--much larger than seen previously in the canon. The gigantism could be due to Pirate genetic manipulation/weird science, but it is clear this is a super specimen.

Like many others dedicated the franchise, I was elated to see another 2D metroidvania officially greenlit in a post-Switch era. In this time of remakes and revamps (like Skyward Sword HD), it also seemed odd that there wasn't a digital way to play the Metroid predecessors. I wasn't impressed enough to buy the Samus Returns remake--didn't make sense to buy a DS handheld just for that. So I did what probably many other Geriatric Millennials did--I dusted off my Game Boy Advance SP to play Metroid 4 (Fusion) and the Zero Mission remake. It seemed like a chore at first, but just a few hours into the Metroid 1 remake fueled the nostalgia enough to go down a YouTube rabbit-hole. 🌌

I've been watching a lot of streamers playing ROM hacks/mods of Metroid games. It astounds me how much time people put into their customizations of the Metroid games. It's fanatical, and it's clear the Metroid fandom is alive and well, mostly as Super Metroid is on the "Mount Rushmore of speedrunning". It's a game rich in intentional sequence breaking with frame-perfect precision.

Metroid Dread speculation

I've shielded myself from Metroid Dread game footage and further spoilers, because I want to go in fresh, cold. Since Metroid Fusion in 2002, there hasn't been any official word on what happened to Samus since the X Parasite incident (and the destruction of planet SR388). My imagination runs wild.

With planets SR388 and Zebes only a memory, Dread will take place on a new setting. I'm sure there will be metroids of some kind and classic upgrades for Samus' suit, but I'm looking to have my expectations subverted. The classic beginning of Samus obtaining the morph ball upgrade can't happen as it did in Metroid 1 (and the nearly-identical Metroid 3) intro. Because the events of Fusion gave Samus a fully-powered suit, there will have to be some explanation as to why the enhancements are needed (yet again). I understand the "upgrade progression" need in metroidvania, but perhaps the morph ball won't be the first suit upgrade. Hell, maybe Samus will start suitless! Also, I hope they don't bring back Kraid and Ridley--those dudes are dead. Something novel, please.

There's also an interesting connection with world events and the curing of Samus with a vaccine. Maybe they'll do something cool with that...

I've never had a desire to play the 3D Prime games, but I know there's a narrative of phazon, Dark Samus, etc. There's a possibility there, plus that could to satiate Prime fanboys. 

The Metroid saga is a YA game that stands out in a milieu of Nintendo franchises for kids. No matter how much the Legend of Zelda tries to be serious and dark, it won't alienate the kids. And that's maybe why I like Metroid so much--it stays dark.

In 1994, I hadn't seen any of the Alien movies, but Xenomorphs and facehuggers were part of the 80s/90s pop-culture. And its popularity was a springboard (springball?) for the Metroid story and aesthetic. Whatever happens with Dread, at a minimum it will be a fun maze of discovery with a retelling of the original mythology. I'm totally OK with that. 

Axiom Verge 2 is also slated for 2021. It seems like my gaming schedule is overbooked! 🦠

Friday, January 1, 2021

Movies watched in 2020

Here's my annual list. I beat 2019 by about 60. I stopped tracking TV series, too.

The only films I saw in theaters were: Star Wars IX, Tenet, and Mad Max

Bold and green = released in 2020 or 2019 and new to me
Blue/cyan           = released before 2019; new to me
*                         = repeated watch; NOT NEW to me
  1. Star Wars IX
  2. Riddick*
  3. Day of the Dead*
  4. Tremors*
  5. Les Miserables
  6. Snatch*
  7. Murder on the Orient Express
  8. John Wick 3
  9. The Square
  10. 1917
  11. Wild and Wonderful Whites of WV
  12. The Lighthouse
  13. Terminator Dark Fate
  14. Parasite
  15. Doubt
  16. Two Popes
  17. Alita: Battle Angel
  18. Ford v Ferrari
  19. Godzilla King of Monsters
  20. Escape from New York*
  21. Knives Out*
  22. Uncut Gems
  23. Logan Lucky
  24. Marriage Story
  25. Matrix Revolutions*
  26. Jay and Silent Bob Reboot
  27. Lawless
  28. Rocketman
  29. Inside Out
  30. Bloodsport*
  31. the Platform
  32. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas*
  33. Overlord
  34. Blues Brothers*
  35. Dark Waters
  36. Gravity*
  37. Rambo Last Blood
  38. Birds of Prey
  39. MST3K Jack Frost*
  40. Harry Potter 1*
  41. Harry Potter 2*
  42. Harry Potter 4*
  43. Under the Skin*
  44. Runaway Train
  45. King of New York
  46. A View to a Kill
  47. Harry Potter 5
  48. The Long Goodbye
  49. The Big Sleep
  50. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang*
  51. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1
  52. Blow the Man Down
  53. Battle Beyond the Stars
  54. Harry Potter and Deathly Hallows Part 2
  55. The Spy Who Loved Me*
  56. Star Wars Rise of Skywalker*
  57. Alien Covenant*
  58. GoldenEye*
  59. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby*
  60. Mommie Dearest
  61. Demolition Man*
  62. Arkansas
  63. Cedar Rapids
  64. Joe Dirt*
  65. Mad Max: Fury Road*
  66. World is Not Enough*
  67. This is Spinal Tap*
  68. Die Another Day*
  69. Casino Royale*
  70. Casino Royale*
  71. Lance
  72. Blazing Saddles*
  73. Parallax View
  74. Quantum of Solace*
  75. Alien: Resurrection*
  76. Bronson*
  77. Pumaman* mst3k
  78. Austin powers*
  79. Austin Powers 2*
  80. Body Heat
  81. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice*
  82. Ad Astra
  83. Judge Dredd*
  84. Austin Powers in Goldmember*
  85. Enemy Mine
  86. Tampopo
  87. Kingpin*
  88. Jaws 2
  89. Jaws 3D
  90. Eraser
  91. Frost/Nixon
  92. Doctor Sleep*
  93. Wonka*
  94. Jerry Seinfeld 23 Hours to Kill
  95. Patriots Day
  96. Jaws*
  97. Midway
  98. Skyfall*
  99. Batman v Superman: Ultimate*
  100. House
  101. Vice
  102. Hunger Games 2*
  103. Robin Hood: Men in Tights*
  104. Hunger games 3*
  105. Innerspace
  106. Ready or Not
  107. In the Heat of the Night*
  108. Hotel Artemis
  109. Purple Rain*
  110. Spectre*
  111. The Hitcher
  112. Serpico*
  113. Nighthawks
  114. Once upon a time in Hwood*
  115. Papillon
  116. 1917*
  117. Doctor Strange*
  118. Thomas crown affair*
  119. Hannibal*
  120. Saved
  121. A million little pieces
  122. Predator 2*
  123. Venom
  124. Best of the Best
  125. Red Dragon*
  126. Richard Jewell
  127. Searchers
  128. Brawl at Cell Block 99*
  129. Dunkirk*
  130. Tenet
  131. Zombieland 2
  132. Soldier*
  133. M.S. Frankenstein*
  134. Halloween II
  135. Halloween 4
  136. Red Planet*
  137. Man of Steel*
  138. Halloween 5
  139. Arrival*
  140. Buckaroo Banzai
  141. I'm thinking of ending things
  142. Nocturnal Animals*
  143. Trick 'r Treat*
  144. Miles Davis Birth of the Cool
  145. Halloween 6
  146. Mummy's Hand
  147. Mummy 1959
  148. After Hours
  149. Sleepy Hollow*
  150. Horror of Dracula
  151. Halloween 2007
  152. Don't Breathe
  153. Halloween II 2009
  154. Goodfellas*
  155. The Creature from the Black Lagoon
  156. The Thing from Another World
  157. Creepshow...
  158. Addams Family*
  159. Fright Night
  160. The Blob
  161. The Hunt
  162. Anna Karenina
  163. Rocky*
  164. Rocky 2*
  165. Rocky III*
  166. Blood Simple
  167. If...
  168. Rocky IV*
  169. Star Trek II: Khan*
  170. The Shadow*
  171. Halloween*
  172. Home Alone*
  173. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York*
  174. From Russia with Love
  175. Godfather 2
  176. It's a Wonderful Life
  177. Mad Max: Fury Road*
  178. Thunderball*
  179. 8 1/2
  180. Thin Man
  181. Wonder Woman 1984
  182. Maltese Falcon
  183. Frantic
  184. WW84*
  185. Hillbilly Elegy
  186. You Only Live Twice

Friday, August 14, 2020

DK Tropical Freeze advice 🏝️ ❄️

🦍 I’ve been meaning to write more here, and I’ve got my eyes on video games at this crazy time of self-quarantine. Before I post my Top 30 list (and articles), a warm up: the Nintendo Switch.

Donkey Kong Country (SNES) is one of my all-time favorites (Top 30, probably higher), so I decided to buy the Switch version of the 2014 “sequel”... Tropical Freeze.

It was on sale on the Nintendo eShop thingy. And holy shit, is it hard. It’s way hard. 🦧 The developers knew this, so they provided some much-needed mercy in spots. Here are some tips for you Switch players:
  1. Play as Funky Kong. Don’t even think about playing the classic way.
  2. Play. As. Funky. Kong. He hovers! He has more hearts! 
  3. Use the alternate controller config. The action went way smoother after I could use X and Y to grab.
  4. Play thru once (and beat the game) without worrying about all the secrets.
  5. Learn how to high-bounce off an enemy.
  6. Get all the gold Banana Coins you can. The 1-Ups and bananas don't really matter.
You will get better. There’s so much to unlock here, that the replay value (once you get over the hump) will make the game quite enjoyable.

I really wish I had the advice above when I began! 🍌🍌🍌

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Best of the Year 2019: Movie (Oscars edition)

TL;DR: I think Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is hand-crafted to win Tarantino the Best Picture award.

I saw a lot of movies in 2019. In my catching up, I've seen almost all the Best Film nominees. Maybe it was off-year, but I don't feel like there's stand-out classic that just screams to be "the best". I haven't yet seen Marriage Story. I don't think I'll ever see Jojo Rabbit. And Little Women is probably a no-go. Maybe the worst blockbuster was Star Wars IX, but I may post about that psychological tornado later.

I think history will remember Tarantino's Pulp Fiction as his best film, but his magnum opus is probably ...Hollywood. Think about the Academy voters--those Boomers will gobble up the heavy LA nostalgia. Meanwhile, the Gen-Xers will just blindly vote anything Tarantino. It's a shoe-in.

Here's my list of best seven eight of 2019:
  • Avengers: Endgame
  • Doctor Sleep
  • Glass
  • Knives Out
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  • 1917
  • Parasite
  • Us
I didn't pick a best. Maybe Parasite? I'd bet Uncut Gems is awesome too, but I haven't yet seen it.

P.S. Joker is good but overrated. If I hadn't seen or heard of King of Comedy I would probably think Joker is the best.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Best of the Year 2019: Song

Instrumentals (no lyrics) aren't included in the list...

"Celebrate the Void"

Kim Gordon
"Air BnB"



Battles (with Tune-Yards)
"Last Supper on Shasta, Pt 1"

Show Me the Body


"Crucifixion / A Prophet"

The Who
"Ball and Chain"

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Best of the decade 2010-2019 (music album)

An absolute metric ton of music comes out in 10 years. For me, what I listened to most (as an album) was Waaves' Afraid of Heights. Here's a list of 25 or so (in reverse alphabetical order):

Annual Diet: Vegetarian January, Vegan February

I've been following an Annual Diet after the US Holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Day) for several years now. It makes a...