Shorties #2

It's summer! It's too hot outside! There are all sorts of pop-culture things to catch up on!

#1: "Good Time" - Owl City and Carly Rae Jepsen: Not content to have sewn up the annual Song of Summer contest, Carly Rae Jepsen is apparently attempting to be featured in every earworm that will infect you this year. And it's working. Blending her light-hearted vocals with Adam Young's synthesized backbeats is a good meld. "Good Time" will never be heralded as lyrical poetry, but as far as bouncy summer tunes to jam out to, I enjoy it. (Grade: B+)

#2: Sherlock - Season 2: The second trio of super-sized episodes have all aired now, and this show continues to be my favorite adaptation of the Sherlock Holmes property to date. The middle episode, an update to "The Hound of the Baskervilles", was a little disappointing, but the thrilling finale of "The Reichenbach Fall" more than made up for it. (Grade: A-)

#3: Weekend: Films about gay relationships used to be uniformly terrible. That undoubtedly had to do more with the societal attitudes surrounding the subject matter than the talent of the filmmakers, but they were wretched movies nonetheless. Thankfully, that seems to be changing rapidly. After reading some positive reviews of this 2011 British romantic drama, I decided to give it a watch.

It's a refreshingly small story. Just a couple of guys who hook up and feel an immediate connection with one another. The one-night-stand turning into a full-fledged relationship is well-worn territory, but in this case, any long-term prospects are doomed at the outset. One of the characters is almost literally on the eve of leaving the country for two years, so their brief encounter over a couple of days is potentially all they'll ever have. Nobody dies. Nothing explodes. It's simply a quiet movie about a realistic romance. (Grade: B)

#4: Thor: Having really enjoyed The Avengers, I thought I'd go back and fill in some of my Marvel superhero movie gaps. I have no interest in Iron Man 2, but thought I should at least get Thor and Captain America under my belt. The Captain still resides in my Netflix queue, but when Thor became available on Instant Viewing, I jumped on it. Oof. I really admire Kenneth Branagh, but perhaps this wasn't the best project for him to direct. I'm not one of those guys that demands boobs and cursing and big, shiny explosions every thirty seconds in an action movie, but there needs to be some, you know... ACTION. Never have I seen such a talky, meandering bore masquerading as a summer blockbuster. (Grade: C)

#5: Magic: The Gathering - Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013: Geek though I am, I've never played Magic: The Gathering before. When I read a review of this game that noted that it was very kind to beginners and was extremely affordable, I took it as a sign that I had to give it a try. I'm pretty satisfied with it so far - I set it on the easiest level and can slowly explore what the decks/cards can do. The game has a couple of issues: Sometimes I can't zoom in on my opponent's card, so I have no idea what just happened to me. Certain cards have named powers written on them, but no explanation of what those powers entail. Still, it's a relief to be able to play without the pressure and ridicule I'd get from a human opponent. (Grade: B)


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