TV Pick: The Expanse

Sci-Fi network (SyFy?) once had the market cornered on good science fiction TV series.  That was before they decided to rely on wrestling and straight-to-video movies to fill their programming slate.  These days, everyone from AMC to MTV to the premium channels has some sci-fi or fantasy in their lineup – some good, some not.   So it’s nice to see something worth recommending on Sci-Fi/SyFy.

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The Expanse, based on the novels by James SA Corey, takes place in a near future in which humanity has expanded into our solar system to colonize Mars and mine the asteroid belt.  There’s no faster-than-light travel, and one of the central tenets of the books is a realistic approach to the science and challenges of space travel and survival. Continue reading

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Star Wars TFA – Reaction

So this isn’t really a review – more of a reaction to the movie.  It would be very hard for someone like me to review a Star Wars movie.  Just too close and too invested in the SW mythos and all that entails, which is why my reactions and viewing experience are what they are.

Which is to say…  Saddened and a bit neurotic.  And by the way, spoiler alert – you probably don’t want to read this if you haven’t yet seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

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The Anticipations

We’ve been busy enough around here the date sort of sneaked in on us, but tonight is Star Wars Night.

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Per usual, I’ve remained willfully ignorant of spoilers, advanced reviews, youtubes, and general speculation.  That said, positives, man, positives.

Many of the questions about how they’ll use the veteran characters, will the new actors be able to hold up, what direction will Abrams take us…  Tonight.

The kids are almost as excited as I am.  They are the perfect age for this.  So we’re going to go early to wait in line.  They may dress up if they’re feeling it…  We will check back in with reactions soon!

5 Weeknight School Trips

Weeks like this last one give me some new appreciation for my Mom.  Back when me, my brother, and my sister were all in school, we were involved in multiple school activities and events, as well as additional stuff like 4-H and scouts.  We were coming and going all the time – many, many trips in town.  When I also reflect that she worked a second job through some of those years, well…  don’t know how she did it.

She had help, of course – Grandparents, our Aunt and Uncle up the road, and friends’ parents pitched in to get us where we needed to go.  Dad was there and involved in the earlier years.  It was a solid but busy foundation they all laid down for us.

This week at Beemsville I had a post-work trip to school every night this week.  Monday and Friday – basketball games, Tuesday – Winter Band Concert, Wednesday – PTO Meeting, and Thursday – basketball practice.    This doesn’t include the wife’s regular trips to pick up from Jazz Band, IMSA (Math and Science Group), and Piano lessons…  Also, the Beem family truckster went down this week and is needing some repairs.  Suffice to say we couldn’t make this work without our synced google calendars and good friends pitching in.

I guess it’s not surprising I’m already fidgety this morning.  Can it really be that I’ll have time to sit around and read today, maybe do some online shopping?  Oh, yeah, another basketball game this afternoon for the boy

Black Friday Spirit

We’ve posted before that we don’t really like Black Friday.  Too much craziness, too many people compelled to work on a holiday.  I noted a few stores were actually advertising that they would not be open at ridiculous hours – good for them.

You can learn a lot about the spirit of Black Friday by watching the excellent Teen Titans Go!  This show is a staple in our house – the kids love it, and it consistently makes me and the wife chuckle.  The show’s writers are obviously from our peer group, often referencing semi-obscure 80’s and 90’s lore in full Seth MacFarlane mode.

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The episode rifs on ‘A Christmas Carol’ as so many fine holiday toons have done before, and really put me in the proper frame of mind to go out and do battle within the halls of retail Friday afternoon.

If you have pre-teen kids, you probably already know about Teen Titans Go!, but if not give it a look.  The Black Friday episode aired last week and will certainly be on again.

Seven Days, Seven Sports (Events)

This is how it goes sometimes.  Starting last Friday, our crew attended or participated in:

  • Friday: US Soccer World Cup Qualifier in  St. Louis (USA 6, St. Vincent and the Grenadines 1)
  • Saturday: Illinois Football v. Ohio State in Champaign, with cousins, sister, mom, and Friends (OSU 27, Illini-3)
  • Sunday: Illinois Basketball v. North Dakota State with the boy (Illini 80-, NDSU-74; nice comeback in the 2nd half).  And also basketball practice for the boy.
  • Monday:  Iles Basketball for both kids (girls tied; boys won).
  • Tuesday: Iles Basketball for Sophie (win)
  • Wednesday: Gym Basketball for Bruce (loss)
  • Thursday: Iles Basketball practice

Seven days – and for good measure we’ll throw in a 12-18 hour stomach bug that had both kids hurting, though they each recovered in time for their events.  By yesterday, I just wanted to sit on the couch.  I enjoyed every one of these events, but I’m not a person who recharges around people.  Needed some quiet time.  Which is a good thing, because I believe we have something four of the next five days leading up to Thanksgiving…

So, yeah, we’ll get to some books, TV, and other stuff here directly.

Thomas Out

University of Illinois alums and fans were pretty sure Mike Thomas would be gone once the football report was released.  Many of us were surprised that the University decided to to it so quickly.  Opinions vary on the why and what:  the venerable one opines that 1) Beckman and Groce haven’t won enough, 2) Important alums are mad about the State Farm Center re-seating process, and 3) the medical issues with Beckman were a big problem.  Robert at Illiniboard goes to the medical issue, as does veteran scribe Mark Tupper.  Listening to the fellas on the Tay and Jay Show yesterday, they had much the same response.

If you look at the report, it certainly paints Beckman as a bumbler and a boob at best, and a bit of a bully when it came to injuries.  Some of us had thought in those terms on the former points; as far as the injuries – there are a lot of coaches out there who will be looking at the report closely and updating their policies as a result.  It seems like Thomas did what he could once he had awareness of the issue, but in Illinois (land of lawsuits), you have to watch your back with the whole culpable deniability.  I thought Thomas was making progress on many fronts, but when you’re football coach hire turns south and your basketball coach hire is treading water, it’s time to polish up the resume.  Thomas will still be making a lot of money out of this situation, and the real question is what next?

As the Internets told us this week, I is for Interim.  We are now without a permanent chancellor, AD, and head football coach.  The President is new.  Leadership at U of I needs to step in some capacity.  Could we get lucky?  Could we show some courage?  Could we make some hires who can make a difference and set us on a different, better path?  With the state of the state’s finances and political realities, such hires are more difficult than ever.  I’m hoping for sheer luck this time around.