Monday, December 30, 2013

Top 10 Video Games Of 2013

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
Super Mario 3D World
The Last of Us
Plants vs. Zombies 2
BioShock Infinite
Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
Fire Emblem: Awakening 
Shin Megami Tensei IV
Pikmin 3
Rayman Legends

Top 10 Movies Of 2013

Before Midnight
Frances Ha
Side Effects
American Hustle
Star Trek Into Darkness
Pacific Rim
Captain Phillips
12 Years a Slave
This is the End

The worst movies were The Lone Ranger and The Hangover Part III

Our 2013 Christmas Letter

Hello, all. As you can tell from the crisp air, music on the radio, decorations in store windows and Cardinals' dwindling playoffs chances, it is nearly Christmas time once again. So now seems like as good a time as any to pretend that Facebook doesn't exist and send you a zany photo and an update about how we have been doing. 

2013 has been a year of alarming and disgusting change in our household. The change we are referring to, of course, is that of Zack's diapers. Even though he is our third child, we had forgotten just how revolting a toddler's diaper gets when he begins eating solid food. But our memories are refreshed one or two times daily, when the youngster's drooping undercarriage serves a reminder. 

Zack is the biggest mover and shaker among the household this year, having launched his own app on iTunes, launched his tech startup into an impressive initial public offering and launched an exploratory committee to gage his chances in the 2014 Congressional elections. Although he's only 1 year old, his accomplishments are remarkable. In addition to all that, he also learned how to crawl through the doggie door and spray fridge door water all over the floor, which he proceeds to lick up.

Luke, who is in first grade, is a thriving artist and musician. We see him becoming a one-man band who beat-boxes his own background music while also singing lead and backup vocals. If you think all this to be impossible, it's because you have never been serenaded by the 6-year-old.

Emma, who proudly boasts she is in 'Pre-K' and not just standard preschool, is also the artistic sort. She excels in the ancient, well-respected medium known through the ages as Grabbing Scissors Out Of The Craft Closet And Leaving Squiggly Pieces Of Construction Paper All Over The Kitchen Floor. Combined with her affinity for painting and drawing on several sheets of paper per minute, when trees see this girl, they cry.

Jessica continues to attend grad school, going for a master's degree because the master's she already earned has lost that 'new car' smell. She also continues to work part-time and rescue Zack from his minutely attempts at sending himself to the emergency room by BASE jumping off the dining room table.

As for Phil, he is still toiling away at the local newspaper -- poor guy, no one has stopped to tell him that newspapers ceased to exist in 2005 -- and passing his video game addiction on to his offspring. 

That should about catch you up. We'll check back in at the end of 2014 -- another anticipated year of disgusting, smelly change until we can get that kid potty trained.


The Villarreals

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Book Report: The Witches

The WitchesThe Witches by Roald Dahl
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A fun book from beginning to end. Dahl's sense of wonder and imagination carries throughout the fast-paced tale. I like its bittersweet, darker-than-expected ending.

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Friday, December 27, 2013

How Cable And Satellite Will Go Down

The whole cable/satellite cabal will probably go down at some point because people are getting sick of paying for billions of channels they care nothing about. 

Once the networks are able to break away from the cable/satellite money and start selling directly to consumers there will be a revolution. It sucks that you have to buy HGTV and a million reality show channels to get ESPN. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Book Report: 1984

19841984 by George Orwell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An alarmist thinkpiece and word of warning to humanity. A dark and terrible read, but illuminating while terrifying. Some of its dreary projections seem farcicle, and some have come alarmingly true. The book bludgeons your mind and soul. I was glad when it was over.

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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Review: Saving Mr. Banks

Ever since I first heard of it, I dreaded Saving Mr. Banks, pegging it as a dopey Disney self-congratulations job. A pomade-slicked Tom Hanks would be the hokey, do-no-wrong master of the universe Walt Disney, Emma Thompson would be unreasonably uptight Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers. Using his trademark Disney charm and whimsy, Walt would break through Travers' defenses, make her see the error of his ways and...

Consent to wild sex with him?

That impossible historical stretch, I figured, was the only hope the movie had of being entertaining in any way. The trailer even played up this possibility, intentionally or not, with a scene in which Disney looks suggestively at Travers and asks her what he'll have to do to get the rights to her book.

The movie doesn't go that way, but it does skew far darker than I ever could have hoped for, and in that way ends up becoming something halfway profound. Although Hanks' Walt is just as much a hagiography as you'd expect, but Thompson has found a spoon-sugared plum of a role in the furiously demented Travers.

What the movie truly turns out to be is a dark flashback-laden biopic on Travers, describing in painful detail how exactly she turned out to be as coarse and brutal a caricature as she turned out to be. Her past was filled with shame, abandonment and disappointment, much of it at the hands of her well-meaning grease fire of a dad, played by Colin Farrell.

Director John Lee Hancock spins the tale with equal doses of Disney charm and indie-flick grit. The movie amuses, terrifies, intrigues and fascinates at nearly every moment, infusing suspense into a story that everyone already knows the happy ending to. After seeing the ugly, painful way the sausage was made, I'll never watch Mary Poppins the same way again.

Starring Tom Hanks, Emma Thompson, Colin Farrell and Ruth Wilson. Written by Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith. Directed by John Lee Hancock. 125 minutes. Rated PG-13.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Book Review: The Great Gatsby

The Great GatsbyThe Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The pacing is incredible, and the writing is forward-driven, unpretentious and dripping with suspense. The detail is necessary and sticky rather than superfluous, flower and forced. Fitzgerald makes Gatsby loom as a dynamic phantom, as full of enthusiasm and purpose as the pages themselves. This is an amazing book. One of my very favorites. A true inspiration, both emotionally and technically.

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