These are Brad Nichoson’s good things
What are some good things you’ve read?
Y: The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughn
Probably a bit silly to be listing a series of graphic novels on here, but I truly enjoyed this entire series from start to finish. The basic premise is that, somehow, one day every living being with a male chromosome suddenly dies, except one man and his pet monkey. The world (of course) descends to a primitive chaos, with roving bands of women fighting for control of dwindling resources, all while the last man attempts to unravel the truth behind the disease and, more importantly, find his missing fiance. I enjoy stories about the apocalypse, and this one did an awesome job of waving an engaging story while bringing a dry sense of humor to keep it from getting overbearing. Done in full color, which is also a plus for me.
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
This book has a strong stigma attached to it by a lot of people who haven’t even read it; something I learned after starting it. I picked it up because I was told that it was a good post-apocalyptic story (noticing a trend here?), not because of its political message. It is true, the book has a strong right-leaning political slant to it, and those that are easily affected or angered by that sort of thing will most definitely be turned off by the book during the first quarter. I kept reading, though, because I found the story engaging. It centers around a woman running a transcontinental railroad company in a world that is circling the drain due to the effect of its own enacted political policies. Whan can I say, I love railroads and the end of the world. Be ready for a long read.
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
Picked up this book without knowing anything about it except that it was non-fiction and dealt with World War II, two things I typically enjoy reading. I haven’t read Hillenbrand’s “Seabiscuit,” so that wasn’t as much of a sell for me. Proceeding through this book, though, I was absolutely astonished to read about Louis Zamperini’s struggles. It may sound cliche, but just when as a reader you think things can’t get any worse, the situation gets dialed up to an even more unbelievable level. After enduring more than 40 days lost at sea, Zamperini is captured by the Japanese and is forced to endure life as a POW in a series of camps. That Zamperini is still alive today and giving interviews is equally as astonishing, but his story is gripping from start to finish. This one is a must-read.
What are some good things you’ve watched?
The Walking Dead on AMC
I am mentioning this one because it is fresh in my mind. I loved the first season of this show (although it was short at 6 or 7 episodes), then felt that the show stalled a bit during season two and seemed bogged down with a lot of dialog. Things started picking up at the end of the second season, and with the third season premiere last Sunday night, indications are that they have gotten right back on track. I don’t want to spoil for anyone a few episodes behind but the show has gotten back on the story track of the graphic novel, and it looks like this will be a very compelling season.
Game of Thrones on HBO
Episode to episode, this is the most enjoyable show I’ve watched in a long time. Now two seasons in, it follows author George R. R. Martin’s “Song of Fire and Ice” arc, and the artistic freedom that HBO provides has really allowed the show to blossom. I haven’t read the books, but understand that the show is about as faithful of an adaptation of the source material as one can realistically expect when committing a literary work to film. The cast is gorgeous and frequently nude, which doesn’t hurt! Everything is balanced, then, with the hilarious character of The Imp, played by Peter Dinklage, who won a Golden Globe for his performance. Casual viewers looking for something new to watch my be turned off by the fantasy setting (be ready for some magic and dragons), but give it a few episodes and you’ll be hooked.
It’s kind of hard to say exactly what kind of movie this is exactly, particularly without revealing any spoilers. The safest answer is a horror movie made by people who are pissed off about the way horror movies are made these days. If you’re someone who has watched a decent number of them, you will find the film equal parts scary, gory and funny as hell (likely all three are intended). Written by Joss Whedon of “Buffy the Vampire” and “Firefly/Serenity” fame, it will keep you guessing until the end. Definitely recommended for this time of year!
What are some good things you’ve used?
A friend turned me on to this app recently as a way of quickly and easily making reservations at restaurants of your choice without having to labor through looking up the restaurant’s phone number, waiting on hold for 10 minutes, then being told they do not have anything available that night. A registered account is required to use it, but it is free to sign up for and basically just requires a working email address. The app itself is also free to download and use. I don’t think that every restaurant is currently using it, but from my experience thus far, anytime I have attempted to make a reservation, the restaurant in question has been on there.
This a pure time-waster. It features a simple game premise with you as an Indiana Jones style character fleeing an angry pack of apes with a precious idol. The camera is an overhead third-person viewpoint, and by swiping your finger left or right, up or down, and tilting your smartphone side to side, you cause your character to turn left or right, jump over or slide under trees or tree roots, and run along precarious cliffs. Of course, missing one of these steps at precisely the correct moment causes a game over, and allows you to immediately restart at the beginning. I don’t think it is actually possible to beat, or if it is, I sure haven’t done it, but it is a great little repetitive game that is quick and easy to master and can eat vast chunks of time if needed.
I’m not sure exactly what this item is called beyond iHome, because it does a number of different things. At its heart, it is an iPod dock with speakers that allows you to listen to your iPod in your home without headphones. It does also have a clock function, and you can set multiple alarms with multiple options that allow you to wake up to music from your iPod, the radio, or a traditional alarm sound. I love waking up in the morning to a random song from my iTunes instead of the annoying drone of a traditional alarm clock. To top it all off, it is an AM/FM radio with six presets and a battery back-up in case your power goes out. Priced at under $100, it has proven to be a pretty good value.