VIDEO GAME: Animal Crossing – New Horizons (2020)

Animal Crossing: New HorizonsYear: 2020Rating: ETime Played: 195+ hours I’d never had any interest in the Animal Crossing series before New Horizons came out. I didn’t get the point of it. There didn’t seem to be any objective other than paying off a loan to a capitalist raccoon. That being said, when I saw the first trailer for New Horizons, my interest was immediately piqued. While the graphics were sharp and adorable, the crafting and terraforming mechanics seemed to give me the flexibility I’d want in such a simulation game. And while there is plenty to do in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, at a certain point, it becomes a repetitive chore. By now, this game is my most-played on my Switch. I’ve put in the time and effort to build a 5-star island and have long paid off my house (thanks to a fortunate week in the “stalk market”). I have orchards full of the different varieties of trees, flowerbeds on their...
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MOVIE: The Lives of Others (2006)

The Lives of Others Year: 2006 Rating: R Length: 137 minutes / 2.28 hours Quantum Physics holds to a belief that you can never truly observe something without affecting it. The mere act of observation alters the state of the thing being observed to the point where we can never be sure of the accuracy of the observation. I say all this to set the stage for the wildly tense and enthralling Best Foreign Film Oscar-winner, The Lives of Others (2006). There’s this weird dichotomy between voyeurism and being able to play God that makes this film so entertaining to watch, especially in the modern, surveillance-heavy society in which we live today (of which Person of Interest does an excellent job of exposing). Set in one of those rare historical moments right before the fall of the Berlin Wall, The Lives of Others hinges on the superb performance of Ulrich Mühe as the audience is never quite sure what he’s going to do with the...
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BOOK: The Ocean at the End of the Lane (2013)

The Ocean at the End of the Lane Year: 2013 Author: Neil Gaiman Length: 348 minutes / 5.80 hours It’s nice to know that Neil Gaiman can write engaging, modern fairy tales that are longer than the short story format. The Ocean at the End of the Lane was a delight to read, and I can see some parallels to other famous middle-grade fantasies (the Narnia series came to mind here and was mentioned in the book). Everything about this story made sense, and the character and the world-building were top notch—which I’ve just come to expect from Gaiman’s work. Truly, he continues to be the modern fairy tale maestro. One of the unique aspects of this story was how it seamlessly integrated the magical and the mundane. So often, these types of fairy tales transition to a world of magic and leave the boring, ordinary world behind. Not so in The Ocean at the End of the Lane. If anything, using the supernatural to...
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MOVIE: The Look of Silence (2014)

The Look of Silence Year: 2014 Rating: PG-13 Length: 103 minutes / 1.72 hours It’s weird how a documentary can make something as deplorable as killing another human being a chilling experience. If the killings that happened in Indonesia were shown on the screen in all their gory detail, there’s a certain point where a viewer’s mind just shuts off from all the violence. It’s almost too much to watch, which is why interviews with those who did the killings is a different and almost more horrifying way to go about exposing this barbaric event. The Look of Silence (2014) is a tough movie to watch, but it is crucial for understanding how anyone could do something so vile. Put in the framing of an optometrist trying to confront his brother’s killers, The Look of Silence has this quiet, stoic energy about the horrific killings in Indonesia. I was in shock when these men talked so candidly, openly, and unabashedly about the atrocities they did...
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VIDEO GAME: Poochy and Yoshi’s Wooly World (2015)

Poochy and Yoshi’s Wooly World Year: 2015 Rating: E Time Played: 11.35 hours It’s weird to think that it has been 20 years since Yoshi split off into its own franchise. The sequel to Super Mario World, Yoshi’s Island established the franchise’s game mechanics and the titular character’s movements back in 1995. Since then, there haven’t been too many entries in the core series. Yoshi’s Story rehashed some of the gameplay a little over a decade after Yoshi’s Island, just like Poochy and Yoshi’s Wooly World managed to do a decade after that. Part of the problem with this is that the visuals always get an update, but nothing else changes significantly with each iteration. Somewhat in the same universe as Kirby’s Epic Yarn, Yoshi’s Wooly World has a tactile and charming aesthetic that revolves around yarn and other fabric crafts. While Yoshi can launch balls of yarn—much in the same way that eggs were used in previous iterations of the franchise—one of the goals...
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MOVIE: A Separation (2011)

A Separation Year: 2011 Rating: PG-13 Length: 123 minutes / 2.05 hours Regardless of where you live on this planet, plenty of scenarios are just as likely to happen in Tehran as they are in Toledo. This is where A Separation (2011) pulls its strength. Set in a mostly modern Iran, A Separation is a series of dramatic twists that could probably happen to anyone. After all, tons of people have to deal with elderly parents with Alzheimer’s. There are plenty of divorces for trivial and non-trivial reasons. Good help is hard to find and even harder to afford. The combination of these things results in a gripping narrative that’s only given a distinctive Iranian flavor by its cultural limitations. If anything, A Separation shows how difficult it is to be a woman in a Muslim country. It’s not impossible, but certain limitations become evident when the strict religious rules of the Quoran come into play. It was nice to see a more liberal version...
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