Sunday, December 31, 2017

Photo: Little Iz Right Before Christmas

On the Saturday before Christmas, I went over my brother's house. My maternal grandmother Jean was there and she gave everyone some presents. Little Iz got a police play-suit. She seemed not to want to put on the outfit, but she liked the props. She had a whistle that actually worked, which made me think is probably a fun idea to give to children of parents you despise because it was real annoying. 

My 2017 Favorites

As I'm sure a lot of my regulars know, I see a lot of TV shows and movies and play a lot of video games in just one year's time. But this is a list of the best things I've seen for the entire year including new and old.

Fact of the Day: Malet Coup of 1812

In 1812, a French soldier named Claude Francois de Malet tried to make a coup to remove Napoleon Bonaparte from power in France as he was campaigning in Russia at the time. The coup failed and Malet along with his conspirators were executed. 

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Photo: Zach's Christmas Tree 2017

This tree has been used for several years I think, but my brother and his wife always have a very pretty tree. 

My December 2017 Favorites

It's hard to believe the old year is now almost up. Here are my favorites for December. 

Fact of the Day: The King's Barber

When King Charles I was captured and sentenced to death for treason by Parliament, before he died they had dismissed his barber. King Charles I kept his beard long afterward as he trusted nobody else with a razor near him. 

Friday, December 29, 2017

Photos: White Elephant Game 2017

This Christmas game has many different names, but it's most official one is called White Elephant. Basically everyone gets a wrapped present(s) for the game, and you choose a gift at random in order or you can take one that has been unwrapped once your turn is called. Daisy ended up with a cordless hand vacuum (not very powerful but convenient) and a lamp as my mom had gotten these both to go together.

Spotlight (2015 Film) Review

When Spotlight first came out (despite the impressive cast) I had no idea it even existed. Then came the Oscars, and while it didn't get any of its stars Oscars for acting, it did win Best Picture. While I've missed a few, I always try to see the Oscar's Best Picture eventually, if it takes me quite some time to get to it. This movie is actually based on real-life events that happened in Boston in the early 2000's by a team at the Boston Globe. Was it worthy of Best Picture? 

Fact of the Day: Old Violins

It didn't take very long for the violin to become popular in Europe. King Charles IX of France had many made for him in 1560 and one of these still exists today. 

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Things I Like: The Broodals (Super Mario Odyssey)

 The Broodals were new to the Mario series when they became the main force against Mario except for Bowser in Super Mario Odyssey. They basically are bosses, but their role in the story are "wedding planners" for Bowser's wedding on the moon. Japanese folklore often has rabbits on the moon, thus why they are bunnies.

Photo: Christmas Family Gathering 2017

 We had to do this gathering a few days before Christmas. This year nobody got left behind due to work which was good. My niece Little R is still the most popular person in the room. Most of the women can't stop holding her.

Fact of the Day: Marranos and Moriscos

When Catholics took over a Muslim Iberian Peninsula (present-day Spain and Portugal) they did not allow the freedom of religion. The Muslims and Jewish people who remained became Moriscos and Marranos but they were forced to convert to Christianity. Though most of them still kept their old religion in secret. 

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Photos: Christmas Carnival at Work

 My work originally was going to rent out bowling lanes for a Christmas Party, but someone decided to hold a "carnival" in the back with games and food instead. As far as games, there was this ring toss someone made. Much harder than it looked.

Pokken Tournament DX (Nintendo Switch) Review

 While I had a WiiU, I didn't get the original version of Pokken Tournament. I've been a big fan of the Pokemon series since 1998, but for some reason, I seemed to be rather dubious of a fighting-game with Pokemon. Luckily Nintendo was smart enough to port this one (like Mario Kart 8) over to the Nintendo Switch. This was actually developed by a team at Bandai/Namco, so it actually wasn't even Nintendo who made it. But for about a year, I heard it was pretty good. I didn't know it actually started as a Japanese-only arcade game, but how did I like it?

Fact of the Day: California Football

The NFL Team, The San Francisco 49ers are named after the people who immigrated to California during the 1849 Gold Rush. 

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Photo: Giant Hershey's Kisses

Giant candy is a popular thing in recent years, this is the first I've seen of a giant Hershey's Kisses though. That's A LOT of chocolate. 

Story: Silly Creationist Bananas and Peanut Butter

With the rise of atheism/irreligion in recent decades, comes a counter from super religious Christians in the western world so obsessed with squashing the spread of non-religion. While religion requires faith without proof, irreligion is more about taking scientific data and using it to make sense of the world/universe. A trick in propaganda is to accuse the other side of which you are guilty. Creationists aren't in the smarts department typically (though anyone of any intelligence can be brainwashed) but many of them are making little videos often shared on social media by people. These often say that atheism is stupid, unscientific, and just plain wrong. Virtually every video I've seen of these is easily broken down by logic. One of the most infamous of these creationists, Ray Comfort used an argument once along with his pal Kirk Cameron by calling something "the atheist's nightmare".

Fact of the Day: Victor Hugo Politics

While a supporter of republicanism (a subject that affected his works), Victor Hugo was originally a royalist in his youth.  

Monday, December 25, 2017

Photo: Cracker Barrel Before Christmas

My mother and my wife Daisy wanted to go to Cracker Barrel when we all had the same day off, a few days before Christmas. Both of them got what they called steak tips, they love the dish but it came with onions and with the tiny tables, the smell of the onions were making me sick. I had blueberry pancakes as we got there before eleven in the morning. I can't recall ever having pancakes there, but they're okay. I much prefer IHOP's pancakes, or better yet Belgian waffles. 

Question: Do You Read A Lot?

I remember reading a lot in my youth, but in a era of many movies, tv shows, video games and whatnot, it's hard to keep up. So I sadly don't read much anymore and its mainly non-fiction. I do sometimes strangely miss the days where there was surplus of boredom and time. 

Do you read much? 

Fact of the Day: Star Trek Doctor

DeForest Kelley was best known for his portrayal of Dr. Leonard McCoy on the original Star Trek series. While never a real doctor in life, he was deeply interested in the medical field. He admitted how proud he was when many fans of Star Trek told him that they became doctors after being inspired by his character. 

Merry Christmas 2017

To all those celebrating today, have a Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Photo: Mama's Little Tree

This is my mother's Christmas tree, she apparently couldn't find her big tree. How? I don't know, sounds like losing a table or a chair, it's not exactly small. But she had this little tree somewhere in storage. Probably worked out for the best as her cat Danny would have caused havoc to the big tree. He has tried messing with the new tree, but kept it mostly alone. 

Story: Spray Paint Shaker

Working in a paint department, spray paints are pretty much self-service as anyone can easily grab it and go. However some places do custom make spray paint but it's rare, and I heard they have their own shaking machines for them even though I haven't seen them with my own eyes. I had one guy one day that insisted we had one of them which we didn't. He didn't want a custom color in a spray, he just wanted a factory-made spray-can shaken via machine. I told him it didn't exist at our location and he said "how am I suppose to shake it?" like he was the most incompetent person in the world. I really wanted to wave my arms around making a face. That's why they have the little ball, it's not exactly rocket science or tough labor to do it. 

Fact of the Day: Jean-Baptiste Sipido

While touring in Belgium, the soon-to-be King Edward VII of Great Britain was almost assassinated. A young Belgian anarchist in Belgium named Jean-Baptiste Sipido fired at him but he missed and was quickly wrestled down. He did so because he was angry over the events of the Second Boer War. Despite the grave offense, he was pretty much let go because he was only fifteen. Causing quite a public stir in Great Britain over the lack of any real punishment.  

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Photos: Winter Donuts

 I took Daisy to the local Krispy Kreme for a snack of sorts since we didn't eat breakfast that day. She had to go to the county office next door for her car tax, so we came back and sat down.

Cars 3 (2017 Film) Review

 To be honest, I've never been the biggest fan of Cars, even though Pixar is my favorite studio for 3D animated movies. While the movies have been more-or-less a success at the box office and with critics, I always felt the story almost felt like it was for a movie that was made-for-television. Deep down I really didn't even want Cars 3 to be made, but my loyalty to Pixar movies does compel me to see it. Was I proven wrong?

Fact of the Day: Before Family Guy

Before his enormous success with the TV series Family Guy, show creator Seth MacFarlane worked for Hanna-Barbera helping create episodes for the cartoons Cow and Chicken, Dexter's Laboratory, and Johnny Bravo. 

Friday, December 22, 2017

Photo: Daisy the Reindeer

I'm not one for wearing these headbands (sometimes a Santa hat though) but Daisy thought it was fun. I don't think she can fly though. 

I'm Now Officially a Volunteer For Big Brothers Big Sisters

While often confused with the Boys and Girls Club, I think most people (in America anyway) have heard of Big Brothers Big Sisters.  I had mildly thought about volunteering years ago, but I never was given the push I needed. A few months ago, one of my much older friends Wanda, whom I met through the local Democratic Party had mentioned that her niece Allison (who I also befriended through the same venue) worked for the local BBBS chapter and at their Christmas party last year a little boy came up to her as she was helping out and asked her when he was going to get a big brother. That really sounded like the saddest thing I ever heard, like seeing movies of or hearing real stories of orphaned children or even unwanted pets, it really lights something up inside your soul and you really want to do something to help while the flame of motivation is still burning bright. 

Fact of the Day: Famous American Idol Rejects

While the American Idol reality show produced a good number of famous singers like Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, they did turn a good number of people away in the very early rounds who later found careers in the music industry. Some of the rejects included Colbie Caillat, Hillary Scott, Mary Lambert, Amber Riley, and Naya Rivera. 

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Photo: Christmas Racoon

This Daisy yet again, wanting a nice new cute stuffed animal at the Christmas section. Certainly the cutest raccoon ever even though I didn't let her have it. 

Stranger Things (TV Series) Season 2 Review

 While Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu all have their pros and cons, its hard to deny that Netflix has produced the best original content by far. I originally thought Netflix got lucky with House of Cards (perhaps not that lucky now considering Kevin Spacey may have ruined the show due to the allegations), but Netflix really hit it out of the park with Stranger Things last year. Now granted, when one thing is a hit, it's hard to top and meet the hype when it comes to a sequel. While the first season was released in the summer, they waited until about Halloween to let this one come out. Did it meet the hype?

Fact of the Day: King of Romania

The last King of Romania was Michael I. He helped get the Germans out of his country during World War II, but the Soviet-backed communists eventually forced him to abdicate. He eventually settled in Switzerland where he would remain for decades. After the fall of communism, King Michael I eventually was able to visit his home country. 

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Photos: Puppies at the Spartanburg County Library

 I'm a million times more a dog person than a cat person, so I was thrilled when our local human society brought puppies in the lobby of our local library. They drew quite a crowd.

Fact of the Day: Harold Holt

Harold Holt was Prime Minister of Australia from 1966 until his death in 1967. While most heads of state have been protected far more than the average person, Harold Holt died while swimming in the ocean (under rough conditions) and his body was never found. 

Things I Like: Cappy (Super Mario Odyssey)

 Cappy is the main gimmick of Super Mario Odyssey. He's a spirit hat (does those exist?) that can take over any form of Mario's literal hats. Once Mario throws Cappy at an opponent, most of the time he can take over their body.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Photo: Santa and Nephews

These are my nephews Mr. K and Mr. C during a visit with Santa this year. Apparently Mr. K asked for a baby sister, but their parents actually went to medical lengths to ensure that wouldn't happen again. Maybe he'll settle for a new video game system or a bike?

Favorite Quotes: Cat are Libertarians

"Cats are like libertarians, they don't believe in government, until they get stuck in a tree," 

-Author unknown/disputed

As I mentioned before, I think 99% of Libertarians are delusional when it comes to governing, but hey when you don't technically have any seats in any government, you can blab whatever you want. While she lived a bit before Libertarianism really became a thing in America, author Ayn Rand was all about their platform. Almost no government, no handouts, and all about the success of an individual. That's until she went broke after her medical bills got too high, and she was forced to swallow her pride and go on social security and Medicare. That's why we call it social safety nets. You might call an acrobat brave for not using a net to catch him if he falls, I call him crazy and totally deserving of his fate if he slips up.

Fact of the Day: Charles de Bourbon

When the House of Valois became extinct on the male line after the death of Henry III, the House of Bourbon were next in line to become King of France since France only allowed the line to be inherited through direct-male lineage. Since the top Bourbon heir Henry of Navarre was Protestant, the Catholic League (formed in opposition to Henry) tried to declare Henry's uncle Charles who was a Catholic cardinal as the true king of France. Henry took the throne as Henry IV but calmed the Catholics who hated him when he officially converted. 

Monday, December 18, 2017

Photo: Danny On Watch

My mother took this picture after she woke up one morning. Her cat was keeping a close eye on her. 

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017 Film) Review

 Like most people, one of my favorite film series is Star Wars. I've seen all the movies, and was glad to watch them with my wife Daisy who had never seen them before she had dated me. Now even though I'm a Star Wars fan, my level of fandom often has nothing on some of these super-fans. Many of these "super-fans" also complain way too much. The prequels were badly directed, but they weren't "garbage" that is often claimed. Then they complained that The Force Awakens was too much deja vu of the original film, and while that may be true, I loved it with a passion. I rarely ever see movies on the opening weekend (I HATE crowds), but I was given tickets to go yesterday and you just can't say "no" to that.

Fact of the Day: Football Heart

The San Francisco 49ers were founded by Tony Morabito. After bad health, Tony still watched the team play despite the advice from his doctors due to the high levels of stress. During a game against the Chicago Bears, the 49ers were losing and Tony died of a heart attack. A note was passed saying "Tony's gone" to the coach, and the 49ers won the game against the Bears in an upset victory. 

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Photos: Christmas Tree Ornaments 2017

 This is our one ornament from last year, Daisy just had to have a Coca-Cola bear. The rest we picked up for almost nothing after Christmas last year.

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017 Film) Review

Spider-Man has always been one of my favorite super-heroes of all time. I don't think I've been the only one as there has been now six major movies (Plus Captain America: Civil War) and more cartoons and video games than I can remember on the famous web-slinger. Except maybe Batman, I don't think any other superhero got as much solo treatment. Due to Marvel having bad troubles during the turn of the millennium, their film rights to many films went to several different companies. When Disney took over Marvel, even though they had the rights to the characters in almost everything, Fox had X-Men and Fantastic Four, and Sony had Spider-Man, which made cross-over films extremely unlikely. Luckily Sony managed to make a deal with Disney, and Spider-Man was able to join the MCU. Now we have a major movie with Spider-Man in the MCU, instead of just cameos in Avengers films.

Fact of the Day: Lady Randolph Churchill

Winston Churchill's mother Lady Randolph Churchill (Jennie Spencer-Churchill) wasn't exactly a devoted wife to his father. She is believed to have had several affairs while married including to the married Prince of Wales, who became the future King Edward VII.  

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Photo: Recent Snow Before Christmas Even Starts

 We don't usually get snow, but we got some for about a twenty four hour period not long ago. Our cars got a good bit of it, but I was easily able to get it off with an ice scraper. Didn't even need to use ice melt as the snow didn't freeze up.

Question: Do You Wear Shoes in the House?

If I'm in my pajamas, I obviously won't have them on. But if I'm wearing jeans, I'll have my tennis shoes on. My in-laws are like a traditional Asian family, you wear shoes in the house on purpose, you might get something thrown at you. 

Do you wear shoes in the house?  

Fact of the Day: King Franco

When Francisco Franco overthrew the left-wing government of Spain during the Spanish Civil War, he was able to do this partly over the support of monarchists whom Franco was officially a member. They wanted to restore the Spanish monarchy, however Franco only officially restored it but Spain didn't have a king when he took power. He named himself regent for life, enjoyed the life of a king, but did not carry the title of King of Spain.  

Friday, December 15, 2017

Photo: Chicken and Santa

I got an oil change on my car through Sears, and we use the time waiting for the car to be done by going to the mall. So we ate at the food court, Daisy got one of those freebies from the Chick-fil-a calendar which was some kind of sandwich. While you can't really see it, Santa's booth was behind Daisy and to the right. A massive wave of children were there to greet old Saint Nick.