Day 49: Time Travel

Back to the Future

Back to the Future

The Streak is over. After blogging for the first 48 days of 2015, I spaced out yesterday and forgot to post something. I usually blog around dinner time, but plans changed last night and by the time I was ready for bed I was wiped out, my quest completely forgotten.

Fortunately, thanks to the magic of WordPress I can change the date of this post to yesterday. Like Superman turning back the clock to save Lois Lane from death-by-earthquake*, I can travel back in time to post my 49th blog of the year. The Quest continues!

My earliest recollection of time travel, aside from childhood games, was the Twilight Zone episode “The Rip Van Winkle Caper.” Four criminals steal $1 million and hide in a cave, where their leader has them enter suspended animation chambers. Their plan is to lay low for 100 years and wake up when their crime is forgotten: outrunning the law through the use of science. Of course, this being the Twilight Zone, nothing goes according to plan and the bad guys get their comeuppance. I’ll never forget the criminal mastermind (played by the fantastic Oscar Beregi) at the end of episode, desperate and dying, trying to barter for his life.

Another time-travel favorite of my youth was Back to the Future. I won’t rehash the well-known plot here, but two things I remember from that movie are 1) vest that Marty McFly wears throughout was similar to one I wore throughout middle school, as my wife likes to tease/remind me and 2) the mall parking lot scenes that bookend the film were filmed at the still-standing Puente Hills Mall. Whenever I visit the mall, I’m tempted to tear through the parking lot at 88 MPH.

Finally, during my senior year at UCSB, I read Captain Blackman for my senior thesis. It’s a novel that moves back and forth in time, exploring the role of African-Americans in the U.S. military in different wars, as told by its African-American protagonist. Captain Blackman was one of a handful of books I kept from college and I’ve been meaning to re-read it for years. If only I could travel back in time to read it instead of wasting my time rooting for a bad football team.

*I always get a kick out of Superman geeks that get fired up about that ending, talking about the impossibility of Superman reversing time like that. People, we are talking about an alien that has x-ray vision, superhuman strength, and FLIES. 

Day 42: Ghost Month

Din Tai Fung's famous xiaolongbao

Din Tai Fung’s famous xiaolongbao

I finished my third book of 2015 tonight, the entertaining Ghost Month by Ed Lin. I’ll have my Goodreads review posted later tonight or tomorrow and re-post the link here. It’s a fun read, a murder mystery set in a night market in Taipei. While the book falters a bit, the characters in Ghost Month are likable enough that I’d recommend reading it. Lin certainly knows his food, with fantastic passages on the various foods in the market and I immediately took a liking to Ghost Month when chapter 2 featured a visit to Din Tai Fung, home of my favorite xiaolongbao. 

Pictured above: the xiaolongbao (“XLBs”) from Din Tai Fung in Arcadia, CA. Locations are being added throughout Southern California, so it’ll save you a trip to Taiwan.

Day 40: 40 Days, 40 Blogs


Star Wars: The Last Command by Timothy Zahn


So far, so good. I’ve stayed true to my Quest to Blog Every Day in 2015, this being my 40th post in the first 40 days of the year. I’m currently on pace to meet my goal.

Quick updates on my other goals this year:

  • 100 reviews written on Yelp: 11 reviews finished. On pace.
  • 26 books read on Goodreads: 2 books finished. Reading two books now (one of them pictured above). On pace.
  • 100 movies seen on the AFI 100 Greatest American Film list. Only 3 movies finished, when I was hoping to have knocked off 10 already. Off pace.
  • Break 100 on the golf course. Unfortunately, I’ve only had time to play a par-3 and an executive course. Breaking 100 on those doesn’t count, so let’s say I’m off pace.

It’s been a good 40-day stretch of blogging. As they say, I’m still finding my voice, but I have a few surprises planned for future entries. Here’s to the next 40 days of blogging. Cheers!

Day 27: Post-Apocalyptic Reading

Station Eleven e-book cover

Station Eleven e-book cover

While I was learning the ropes of the board game Pandemic this weekend, I received a notice from the L.A. County Public Library. Apparently, I had placed a hold on the e-book* Station Eleven and it was now available. I didn’t remember doing this, but since I’d only read one book this year I decided to download it.

In keeping with my recent binge-watching of The Walking Dead and my fascination with the Pandemic game, Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven fit right in with my entertainment du jour. It’s a brilliant book that I can’t put down. In fact, it’s so good, that once I finished 75 percent of it, I decided to slow down my reading pace in order to savor its final pages.

Station Eleven is a beautifully written book about life after a pandemic wipes out 99 percent of the world’s population. Mandel’s handling of each character is masterful and I’m looking forward to reading her previous work. For now, I’ll enjoy her post-apocalyptic novel between games trying to prevent the apocalypse.

*Note: One of my favorite things about the L.A. County Public Library system is its selection of online materials. Through the Downloads section of their website, patrons can borrow e-books, audiobooks, and music free of charge. All you need is a library card (any resident of California can get one) and a compatible device. I no longer own a Kindle, but the Kindle app allows me to borrow books on my phone or tablet.

Day 21: Read, You Must

Read and the Force is with you

Read and the Force is with you

Is it really the 21st day of the year already? I’m in catch-up mode with a few of my goals for 2015. Today I finished the first of 26 books I’m trying to read in the next 12 months. Last year, I had the same goal and far exceeded it, reading 48 total. It’s the most I’d read since my college days and you can see the results of my 2014 Goodreads Reading Challenge here.

The last book I read was the terrific How Star Wars Conquered the Universe by Chris Taylor. It’s a Star Wars fan’s dream, a well-researched look at how Star Wars became an international phenomenon. For this year’s challenge, I decided to start with another Star Wars title. I began the final entry in The Thrawn Trilogy, but after a few chapters it sat on my shelf for two weeks; I just haven’t been in the mood, so I’ll pick it up again someday. In the meantime, I stopped by my local library and borrowed the graphic novel Star Wars: Rebel Heist. I didn’t really care for Rebel Heist (read my review here), but I’m glad I’ve got the first of 26 books read.