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Chris

Ok, the Bears have potential

So after our Bears barely eked out a victory in game 3 against the lowly Arizona Cardinals I was actually feeling pretty apprehensive about the rest of the season.  Instead of showing growth Trubisky had easily his worst game this year—numerous inaccurate throws, multiple turnovers, and worst of all a complete inability to read a defense and improvise when a play breaks down.

And then game 4 happened.  The Bears demolished the Buccaneers 48-10, producing the most deliriously amazing first half of a Bears game I have ever seen. This was the performance they needed, not only for the fans but for themselves—almost every play Nagy called was delightfully unstoppable, and for the first time our staunch defense got to wreak havoc with a healthy lead.

No, I’m not crazy enough to think that throwing six touchdowns against a pretty weak defense proves Mitch is the real thing.  But in terms of a positive signal and a confidence-building experience it doesn’t get much better.  If the offense can continue to improve and everyone stays healthy we actually have a chance of being one of the more complete teams in the league.

But there’s a lot more football to play, obviously.  There will be more ups and downs.  And yes I’m worried the early bye week this year might interrupt our momentum but boy does it feel good to go into a bye with a blowout win.

Football is back

Inspired by the fact that George R.R. Martin blogs about the Giants and Jets on a regular basis, I’m gonna try to post some regular thoughts on the Bears week to week.

Our beloved Chicago Bears had more hype than normal going into this season—the hiring of an aggressive young coach in Matt Nagy, a slew of free agent signings, a decent new draft class—and then they went for broke and traded for Khalil Mack, one of the premiere defensive players in the league.  Against my better judgment I found myself impossibly hyped for this past Sunday’s prime time opener against our archrivals the Packers.

Deep down I was still just praying for a close game—I knew the Bears were probably too inexperienced across the board to win such a tough opener on the road—but when we led 17-0 at halftime and Aaron Rodgers had sustained what looked like a season-ending injury I was ready to believe anything: we’d scored a touchdown on our opening drive, there were more offensive playmakers on the field wearing Bears uniforms than I can ever remember seeing and Nagy’s creative play-calling had me literally laughing out loud in delight at times.  Most incredibly, Khalil Mack looked like he was worth twice the steep price we’d paid for him.

And then, as everyone knows, the bottom fell out.  Rodgers came back in the most dramatic fashion possible (literally playing on one leg) and the Packers won the game 24-23.  It was excruciating to witness but there were so many missed opportunities to close out this game that I do feel like it just wasn’t meant to be.  The innovative play-calling disappeared and we got way too conservative on offense.  The Packers adjusted to our pass rush.  Trubisky thought he was a running back instead of a quarterback.  Our defense couldn’t tackle any receiver after a catch, or catch any ball thrown directly at them.

But ultimately it’s okay.  We were closer than anyone thought we’d be in our first game of the year.  We’re in such a tough division that even making the playoffs will be tough, so what matters this year is that the team gets better every week.  Yes, it stings extra that the way we lost only adds to the Packers’ and Rodgers’ legacy.  Yes, I’m worried about the depth of Nagy’s playbook and the lack of experience overall.  Yes, the jury’s still out on Trubisky as a franchise quarterback.   But there were also enough encouraging moments to think the potential is real.  Let’s see what happens next week against the Seahawks.

 

2017 in Review

Surprise, mafakkas! Despite having managed not to make a single post in 2017 I’m posting a year in review.

It goes without saying that 2017 was a roller coaster for everyone, which in my view makes it more important to highlight the good and meaningful. In addition to a wealth of personal lessons learned, 2017 was full of good stuff. I’ll update this list as more comes to me but here’s what I’ll remember most:

Moments:
Any and every time the movie club got together, wandering Savannah late at night with Honmun and Pauline, the total eclipse experience in North Carolina, watching Miyazaki movies with Felicia, any night I was able to sleep in rejuvenating suburban silence, hanging out with Chris and Honmun in New York, my first bike ride in the city, every dumpling, wonton, bowl of pho or baked good consumed in Flushing, the barbecue at Lewis Barbecue in Charleston, the barbecue at Charlie Vergos’ Rendezvous in Memphis, the hot chicken at Prince’s in Nashville, the cheese steak at Pat’s King of Steaks in Philly, every burrito consumed in the Bay Area, any seltzer water of any flavor anywhere, the mixed doubles and womens finals at the U.S. Open, the birthday dinner at Birds of a Feather, the rooftop view of the William Vale, jazz at St. Mazie, Game of Drones trivia nights, closing down the Hi-Fi Bar and Rosamunde, wandering the Presidio with Ben and Sofia, the ingenious experience design of “Then She Fell”, the family vacation in L.A., Halloween with the queen and reaper crew, Output/drink nights with Anthony B and the old coworkers, Flash Fiction Online and Daily Science Fiction, Isaac and Saeed getting their very own talk show on Buzzfeed, the launch of Jenny’s book, crawling Austin with Nicole and Karan, driving the U.S. highways and listening to “Train Dreams” with Karan on our epic 10-state road trip, our visit to Lexington, VA, streaming games with Ben, Traghaven Whiskey Pub and upstate hiking with Karan and Anthony, wandering Chicago and staying at The Gwen with Kishan, watching old Christmas party videos with Jordan, Scott and Rebecca, the backfield tandem of Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen, the improved play of Kyle Fuller and Vic Fangio’s defense, the strange Nikola Mirotic resurgence, Episode 6 of “Life is Strange”, Tiffany Hadish on SNL, Willem Dafoe in The “Florida Project”, Robin Wright in “Wonder Woman”, Cate Blanchett in “Thor: Ragnorak”, Laurie Metcalf in “Lady Bird”, Sally Hawkins in “The Shape of Water”, Daisy Ridley in “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”, the opening scene of “Baby Driver”, Lily James in “Baby Driver”, Gary Oldman in “Darkest Hour”, Saoirse Ronan, Saoirse Ronan, Saoirse Ronan.

Favorite movies seen:
Lady Bird, The Shape of Water, Get Out, Blade Runner: 2049, Spider-man: Homecoming, Beginners, Tokyo Story, Point Break, The Thin Blue Line, all Miyazakis watched

Favorite books read:
The Handmaid’s Tale, The Haunting of Hill House, The Demolished Man, Self-Help, Birds of America, Sour Heart, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, When Watched, Mastering Bitcoin, Brave New World, Understanding Exposure, The Everything Store

Favorite music:
“Fake Love” and “Get It Together” by Drake, pretty much all of Lorde’s “Melodrama” but in particular “Homemade Dynamite” and “Perfect Places”, “Los Ageless” and “New York” by St. Vincent

Favorite products:
Nintendo Switch, Canon G7 X, Nikon f/1.8G lens, Surface Pro 4, The Daily podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show podcast, Da Bears Brothers podcast, Calm, Things 3, Pocket Casts, Clash Royale, Hearthstone, mint chip Halo Top, coconut oil, Tesla Model X (not mine)

Some thoughts on Apple’s WWDC 2016 keynote

  1. I like the focus of watchOS 3. It’s a relief they’ve realized that the worst thing about Apple Watch is the ludicrous load times for apps and waiting for info to display or update; I find it surprisingly torturous even for a v1 product, and if it had been up to me I wouldn’t have launched with that experience. Now whether v1 watch hardware can really be as fast as the demo promises is another question, but at least they’re trying to do something to improve this for current watch owners. This is the first developer preview I’m going to install immediately.
  2. Siri on OS X (now rebranded to macOS) was a no-brainer, I really expected it to happen much earlier. It’ll be fascinating to see whether Amazon can maintain its lead with Alexa/Echo as everyone else tries to build out their own voice platforms.
  3. Continuity across devices continues to take small steps forward, now with things like Universal Clipboard and even the ApplePay on web integration. We’re slowly, slowly making it towards the killer app of flinging your display windows across devices like Tony Stark does in Iron Man 2.
  4. I’m more than a little horrified at how much of iOS 10’s demo time was devoted to emoji and other iMessage bubble features. Sigh. On one hand I admire Apple for being hip to where today’s hotness is. On the other I wish we as a society were focused on more substantial things. We wanted flying cars…

2015 in Review

My favorite product I bought last year was a dustbuster. No joke. And in a way, wasn’t the majority of 2015 about busting the dust of life? I wrote the most words, wrote the most code, took the most flights, took the most vacation and spent the most time in my hometown of my adult life. I went to Disneyland for the first time in two decades. I went to a feminist science fiction convention. I went to PAX in Seattle. I became an HBO subscriber. I went house-hunting in San Diego. I built a new computer in real life, and time machines in my writing life.

Still, time moves on. I’ve only managed to post a Best Of list two out of the past four years so let’s not get too precious about it. Here are some of my favorite things I remember from the year that was 2015:

Charlize Theron in Mad Max: Fury Road, the soundtrack of It Follows, Bill Hader and LeBron James in Trainwreck, anything and everything Amy Schumer,

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2015 in Movies: some data

Last year I saw a total of 82 movies that I can remember, a fact which I consider both impressive and unimpressive; impressive because it’s more than I would have guessed, unimpressive because I have friends like Sara who have been known to see on the order of 400 movies any given calendar year.

My three favorite movies I saw in theatrical release in 2015 were:

  1. Mad Max: Fury Road
  2. Mad Max: Fury Road 3D
  3. It Follows

Yeah, I’m putting Mad Max on there twice. It was that good. This completely unbiased piece pretty much sums up how I feel about it.

Still, the neurotic in me thought it would be a good idea to compile some other stats I was curious about. First, I wanted to know the breakdown of movies seen in a theater vs. other formats:

Maybe TV isn't a legit category anymore

I want to say there were probably a few more movies I saw on a plane – 2015 was a record year for travel in the continental states – but I just can’t remember. Shoulda kept better records.

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Books I read in 2015: some data

Not counting the reams of comics I was consuming for the first half of the year I read a total of 24 books in 2015. Data for prior years is incomplete but I would guess this approaches a personal record; it’s a decent benchmark but I think I can do better.

Still, I thought it would be interesting to crunch the numbers from a few different perspectives. Firstly I feel like I’ve been reading more books than ever electronically, so I was curious about the ratio of different format types in which I read these books. Here’s how it broke out:

2015 book formats
Actually pretty balanced between paper and eBook; I read more physical books than I remembered. Also my lifelong inability to make it through entire audio books continues.

Next, I was sure I read more fiction than nonfiction but I was curious in what percentages. I thought it’d be appropriate to distinguish novels from short story collections as well.
2015 book types

Turns out I was again surprisingly balanced.

Lastly I started noticing that most of my favorite short story writers are female, so I thought I’d just check what percentage of books I read were written by women versus men.
2015 all authors

Not quite as high as I’d thought, though limiting the set to just fiction authors brings us closer to 50%.
2015 fiction authors