Saturday, December 31, 2022

2022 Favorites

As the year winds down, I'm reflecting on the pop culture I've consumed throughout the year. Below, you'll find my lists of the favorite TV shows, movies, music, and books I've enjoyed. Unsurprisingly, this is genre heavy! None of the lists are in any particular order.

TV Shows

1. Willow (Disney+)

20 years after vanquishing the wicked queen Bavmorda, the sorcerer Willow Ufgood leads a group of misfits on a dangerous rescue mission into the unknown.

2. The Letter for the King (Netflix)

Tiuri, a teenage squire, answers a call for help that sends him on a perilous mission across the three kingdoms to deliver a secret letter to the King.

3. Andor (Disney+)

Prequel series to Star Wars' 'Rogue One'. In an era filled with danger, deception and intrigue, Cassian will embark on the path that is destined to turn him into a Rebel hero.

4. Rings of Power (Amazon Prime)

Epic drama set thousands of years before the events of J.R.R. Tolkien's 'The Hobbit' and 'The Lord of the Rings' follows an ensemble cast of characters, both familiar and new, as they confront the long-feared re-emergence of evil to Middle-earth.

5. Obi-Wan Kenobi (Disney+)

Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi has to save young Leia after she is kidnapped, all the while being pursued by Imperial Inquisitors and his former Padawan, now known as Darth Vader.

Honorable mention: Motherland: Fort Salem. Couldn't leave this baby out, especially since this year's third season was the final season.

Saturday, December 17, 2022

Epic Fantasy for Winter Viewing

I like winter for many reasons: snow (when I don't have to drive in it), time off to spend with family, those pine cones that smell like cinnamon, cozy blankets and sweaters, tea and cookies, beautiful decorations. I could go on and on. But one thing I especially love about winter is that I associate it with fantasy stories, whether epic or simply high or other-world fantasy. I'm not really sure why. I think it's because fantasy is my favorite genre and therefore it feels cozy to me, and winter is the season for coziness.

In that vein, here are some suggestions for epic fantasy movies and TV shows to watch this winter.

The Letter for the King
This TV show is from 2020 and is on Netflix. My friend Meredith recommended it to me ages ago, but I only just got to it and finished it. I'm glad I did! The series follows Tiuri, a teenage squire who's trying to follow in his adoptive father's footsteps. On the night he and his fellow squires are going through the trial to become knights, he breaks the silence by answering a knock at the chapel door. Answering the door leads him to a dying knight, who gives him a letter for the king across the mountains. By accepting the letter, he begins a journey that will have change both his world and himself.

Amir Wilson, who plays Tiuri, is absolutely endearing, and I loved watching his character grow. Thaddea Graham, Islam Bouakkaz, Jonah Lees, Jack Barton, and Nathanael Saleh play his fellow squires. All of them are interesting and have satisfying character arcs (although I disagreed with how one of their stories ended). Ruby Ashbourne Serkis has a standout role as Lavinia, a brash and hotheaded girl who joins Tiuri's quest mostly to run away. Their different personalities play off each other really well. 

There's lots to love here! The story feels very Arthurian inspired, and it's set in a world where chivalry matters. In epic fantasy fashion, there are multiple kingdoms, a war going on, and political aspects at play, which is why delivering the letter to the king is so vital. Each episode introduces new things about the world, which ultimately feels familiar in a comforting way.

I will say that I didn't find myself fully invested until the third episode, and it's only six episodes total. Once I was invested, though, I was really invested and finished the show in a couple days. Unfortunately, it's been two years since Netflix released this, and since Netflix likes to cancel things or let them languish instead of investing in them, it seems like this won't get a second season. However! It's based on a book series by Tonke Dragt, and I absolutely plan to check it out.

Sunday, December 4, 2022

The Dew Review: Part 1

I can't remember exactly how it started, but there's a running joke in my Dungeons & Dragons group that I love Mountain Dew (also known as MTN DEW). And, as I tend to do, I leaned into the joke. For a while now, it's been my Quest to try every flavor of Mountain Dew out there. This is my mountain to climb.

If you're unaware, Mountain Dew comes out with a truly astounding amount of flavors. I swear it seems like I find a new one every time I go into the grocery store. Recently, I found the flavor...Fruit Quake

That's right--Mountain Dew with "fruitcake flavor." Let's dive in.

Color: As you can tell by the photo to the left, the Fruit Quake flavor is red, but not quite as red as the Code Red flavor. 

Smell: Mountain Dew Fruit Quake has a fruity, spicy smell. I don't know how to describe it better than that. There is some fruit, and there is some spice!

Taste: Unsurprisingly, this tastes like...fruit-punchy Mountain Dew along with a sprinkling of spices. Although I'm not great at identifying flavors (lol), the closest I can think of is the spice is nutmeggy, sort of like an apple pie. Basically, it tastes like stepping into a Christmas store. Make of that what you will!

Verdict: Better than I expected! I had had dinner right beforehand because I assumed being full wouldn't bother me and I wouldn't want to drink much. However, I found myself sipping this quite a bit during our D&D session. I'm not sure I'd finish an entire bottle, but...I give MTN DEW FRUIT QUAKE a solid 6 out of 10!

I never actually promised I'm a good food/drink critic! But maybe you'll stick around for part 2, whenever it comes. :)