"The intel on this wasn't 100%."
 
Sunday, February 26, 2017
John Wick Chapter 2 begins where the first one ends. John Wick getting his car from the Russian mob boss that had it. And like the first installment, it's a lot of dead people flying.

John Wick is definitely back in the sequel. It continues because the story has to. The implications of his retiring from his retirement come back to haunt him. A marker which allowed him to retire was called in and he must do a job to cash in the marker. Reluctantly he does it and thus begins the big gang war in the the John Wick world.

This installment expands on the previous by fleshing out the rest of the world. From the Continental, the hotel for hitmen, to the gangs of the world who are try to rule the underground. It adds in a female hitman who doesn't say a word. It puts in Common who was a John Wick friend but is now an adversary. It opens the world up to being a self-contained universe. Now there will be other parts of the story -- the comic book, the novelization, the prequel, the direct-to-streaming animated web series. There will be lots of Wick to consume later.

That's why I didn't like it in the end as I knew that we are in another 'Marvel Cinematic Universe' situation. There will be more and more interconnected stories that will dilute the power of the first film. It will not stop until John Wick puts a bullet in its head.

3 of 5 stars.

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I'm finding cooking to be less of an exact science and more of an art. How you combine ingredients and their proportions can help define the dish.

Mash potatoes is a relatively easy dish to make: boil potatoes until tender, dump in a bowl with butter/cream, mash until done. That's the steps most every recipe I've seen has outlined. It's in between the lines where you can come up with something different. The type of potato, how much butter/cream, skin on or off, extras added. Your mileage may vary but as long as it ends up tasting good then it don't matter how you got there.

So I bought a bag of potatoes last week which I intended to make mashed potatoes with. I have no idea if these are right for the job. I bought them because they were in a sack which was convenient to carry. This sack had assorted colored potatoes, purple, reds, golds. I took these potatoes washed and removed the dirt on them, threw them into a pot, covered them with water, took it to a boil and then let them cook over medium heat for 20 minutes.

I had also bought bacon. I love bacon on my baked potatoes so I figured I'd throw them in mash potatoes. I crisped up the bacon on a cookie sheet in the oven at 385 for 15 minutes. Usually, I would throw them on top of aluminum foil to make cleaning up easy, but this time I wanted crips so I put them on the bare metal pan. Now, I've got to figure out how to clean up a bacon fat congealed pan, but at least they came out crispy. I set the bacon aside to degrease, then chopped it up.

Finally, the garlic. I used the microwave trick. I minced three cloves and placed them in a ramekin with some of the bacon fat. I microwaved them on half power for a minute and a half, stirred them once, and set them in the microwave to finish in another 15 seconds. I forgot to set the power to half. They were almost burnt. Just more dark than I wanted.

When the potatoes were done, I drained them, then started mashing them in a bowl. I don't have a potato masher, so I used a wooden spoon. I added some salt at this time. Also, some heavy cream and butter which I had heated up in the microwave. I reserved some of the water from the pot to also aid in creaming the potatoes. Sprinkling some salt along with the bacon and the fried garlic, I continued mashing the potatoes until done. I think I went to far as they are a little bit too smooth.

One thing to note is that the purple potatoes were also purple flesh so it looked like ube in there. But they still taste like potatoes.

I guess I'll be having this for a few lunches before getting sick of them.

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Friday, February 24, 2017
My love of all things Nogi leads us today to a report from the newish members, 3rd gen. You see they were involved in a stage play called 「3人のプリンツパル」or '3 Principal Members.' Principal, as it is called, involves the members presenting themselves to the audience in the first act. They do a self-introduction and some sketches then some improvisations. Afterwards, the audience votes on which member will be acting in the second half. Finally, there is a third act involving all the members doing a mini-live.

There have been 3 Principals involving the original members. The second generation seems to be the red-headed step child and did not get there own to do. Only a select few of second generation members participated in Principal.

It's a big thing for Nogizaka. I'm happy to hear that they passed through this challenge successfully. That's what today's link reports. Anyhow, if you're curious, then you should click through. Perhaps, run it through Google translate, which I did, in order to read it. That is if you don't read Japanese already.

http://books.rakuten.co.jp/event/column/nogizaka46/vol68.html

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What I haven't told you about my bookstore visits is that usually I am buying a white mocha from the cafe there. So every time I go, I am filling up on 400 calories of sugary goodness. I should stop going to the bookstore. I should stop ordering white mochas. This I should do to help me on my resolutions. So far I haven't done that.

The Temple of I & I Thievery Corporation.
Monocle Volume 10 Issue 100

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Sunday, February 19, 2017
I'm really going to have to go to Japan. These are the next set of travel guides I bought for the trip. It's ridiculous thinking that I will find Japan and their culture in books. I will find it in their country. I must go...

Cool Japan: A Guide to Kyoto, Tokyo, Tohokou, and Japanese Culture Past and Present by Sumiko Kajiyama
Tokyo Precincts: A Curated Guide to the City's Best Shops, Eateries, Bars and Other Hangouts by Steve Wide and Michelle Mackintosh

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Sunday, February 12, 2017
Man, I feel for Britt Robertson. She's played in lots of poorly received films and The Space Between Us is another one. This one is a stinker of a film trying to make a sentimental galaxy spanning love story. It's pretty saccharine and it doesn't really come off well. I think the biggest misstep was how the story and the kid was conceived. Totally terrible which shaded the rest of the film if you didn't know it from the start.

The kid is Asa Butterfield's kid who was born on Mars. His story was hidden from the entire planet because it would've been a scandal. Except that it wasn't told and the director of the space company, Gary Oldman, treated it like a scandal and resigned soon after leaving the kid to grow up in Mars without his mom and being a hidden figure. He is determined to come back to Earth even though it would kill him. He is determined to meet Tulsa (Robertson) because he fell in love with her from afar.

There's an escape. He makes it to Earth. He treats it like an alien place. Except Butterfield acts weird. Geeky but smart.

I would love to have liked this movie. It tries, but the last third of the movie, when the big reveal, comes destroys any promise in liking the film. It is hard to sympathize with the people involved - the actors, director, writers. They made the ending and they gambled to throw out the good will of the first 2/3 of the films.

2 of 5 stars.

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I did buy some more stuff from BN. Last week and today. Here's what I got.

Concise Japanese Dictionary Samuel E. Martin
Norse Mythology by Neil Gaimann

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Books? I've got books out the ying-yang. I've got fiction. I've got non-fiction. I've got travel journals. I've got cook books. I've got novels. I've got graphic novels. I've got text books. I've got instruction manuals. I've got books on the night stand, on the floor, on shelves, and under the bed. They're overflowing.

Today's link gives you a peek at more books for programmers. It's a list compiled by programmers. I would suggest you read any of the ones on there.

http://www.dev-books.com

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Friday, February 10, 2017
Hidden Figures highlights the contribution of three African Americans women to the US space race. The film also highlights the roadblocks and prejudice confronting the women. Sometimes it was as straight forward as the suspicion of trouble making as by a police man. Sometimes it was as subtle as assuming they're not hard workers. Other times it was institutional because they keep the only available bathroom far, far away. The women did overcome this to contribute very much to making NASA meet it goals and explore space.

It's an uplifting story. Not sure that it was a great film because it seemed to stick too much to the 'triumph and tragedy' formula of many biopics. It felt rote in the way that the story checks off plot points for any biography.

3 of 5 stars.

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Martin Scorsese's Silence is about religion in Japan and also about faith in God. How far will one go to preach the Gospel? Are you still holy if you don't follow the faith faithfully every day of your life?

I've been silent on this film for several weeks now since I saw it at the theatre back in January. It is a difficult film to understand. At first, it is a straight story about missionary priests in Japan fighting to bring the Church to a country which is actively hostile to their teachings. Then you wonder why the country is so antithetical to the religion. Is it because of how it brings hope to the lowest in society? Or is it because the Japanese at the time where prejudiced against the West?

It is a film that asks us about our faith but also about our own prejudice. Should we all be so humble in life? And so strong in our faith.

There was a character who kept failing to not renounce Christ -- the Japanese doubting Thomas. To avoid persecution, he would deny that he was a believer. Yet, he kept coming back to the faith. Was he faithful or faithless?

The priests who renounced Christ, the ending revealed that maybe he was still a man of Christ. Was he faithful or faithless?

In the end, it is redemption that is available to all of Christ's children.

3 of 5 stars.

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