Movie Review: The Elf (2017)

Synopsis: Victoria loves her fiancé, Nick. But, with their wedding date approaching, she begins to have cold feet about a man that never talks about his past. Things get worse when Nick inherits a toy shop and accidentally releases a possessed elf doll that is determined to kill the people on its "naughty" list.

Who's in it? The movie stars Natassia Halabi, Gabriel Miller, Lassiter Holmes, Lisa May and Joseph Daniel Ellis.

Review: I originally was going to watch another Marvel superhero movie with my wife last night. But, as I was scrolling through Disney+, I realized I was actually in the mood for a horror movie. I found this one on Vudu and, figuring it was a good choice for this time of year, went with it.

I've seen quite a few low-budget horror films and, since I don't expect them to have Oscar-worthy material in them, am pretty forgiving when it comes to the genre. That being said, this film, simply put, was just plain awful.

In fact, this movie was so bad, I&…

Review of Portillo's Hot Dogs in Madison, WI

My wife had a couple things she wanted to pick up at East Towne Mall, so we made a quick run down to Madison shortly after it opened on Sunday. Since it was about noon by the time we were done, I offered to buy lunch before driving home and, since the food court proved to be quite a bit more expensive than we were expecting, we opted to go to Portillo's Hot Dogs instead.

To be honest, we almost didn't eat there because it was our first time at that restaurant and, when we walked in, it took us a minute to figure out which counter we were supposed to use to order our food. Once we did that, however, we did find we enjoyed our experience.

We both wound up ordering chili dogs with a side of fries to share. She also got a peppermint shake to drink. In total, we spent about $18 for lunch, which isn't too terrible.

I thought the set-up inside the restaurant was pretty decent. Basically, you order your food on one end of the counter and wait for them to call your name on the othe…

Movie Review: Klaus (2019)

Synopsis: When wealthy and spoiled Jesper deliberately tries to flunk out of the postal academy, his father assigns him to a remote town in the arctic with the task of posting 6000 letters in one year to avoid being cut off financially. Unfortunately for Jesper, the town is embroiled in a generations-long feud that has made the post office obsolete. However, he finds renewed hope when he convinces the town's children to send letters to a woodsman named Klaus in exchange for the toys he makes.

Who's in it? The animated movie uses voices from Jason Schwartzman, J. K. Simmons, Rashida Jones, Joan Cusack and Norm Macdonald.

Review: My youngest daughter wanted to see our town's holiday parade yesterday evening but, since none of the rest of us was really all that interested in standing out in the cold, I convinced her to stay home with a bribe of hot chocolate and a Christmas movie. I had noticed this film on Netflix a few days ago and thought it looked interesting. And, after wa…

Book Review: Death of a Kingfisher by M. C. Beaton (2012)

Synopsis: Blessed with good looks, charm and a strong business sense, Mary Leinster is the perfect choice to oversee the Fairy Glen that has brought an economic boon to the town of Braikie. After all, even Sergeant Hamish Macbeth is falling in love with her. However, when the kingfisher that had been one of the main draws to the glen is killed and strung up in a ritual-like fashion, things continue to go downhill from there and Hamish is drawn into an investigation involving murder, theft and Russian hitmen.

Review: After taking a short break from murder mysteries and reading something outside my normal comfort zone, I was happy to get back to reading an author I was familiar with and learning more about what is to become of Hamish Macbeth. Overall, while I didn't like it quite as much as some of the earlier books from this series, I did find I enjoyed it.

I think the thing that really stands out about this book is the complexity of the case. When the kingfisher is killed and, late…

Do Smart Phones Get Hungry?

I was driving to the office this morning which, in itself, was a bit of a challenge because everyone else seemed to forget how to drive today. I was about halfway across town when my phone (via my Bluetooth link with the radio) started broadcasting step-by-step driving instructions.

Naturally, I was a bit confused by this because it wasn't as though I had asked it to do this. But, after momentarily being startled, I figured I accidentally bumped something on the phone and it thought I wanted directions to the office, store or home (the three places that normally pop up when my Android Auto app kicks in).

When I got to the office and checked my phone, I became even more puzzled because, rather than trying to give me directions to some place local, it was giving me driving directions to a pizza place more than 30 miles away that I hadn't even heard of before.

So, now I'm wondering if my phone just wanted a cheese pizza or one with all the toppings.

Book Review: Postcards From the Edge by Carrie Fisher (1987)

Synopsis: After nearly dying from a drug overdose, actress Suzanne Vale goes to a rehab clinic and, after successfully completing the program, tries to get her life back in order and her career back on track.

Review: While I prefer murder mysteries, I do still try to occasionally change things up by checking out a book from a genre I wouldn't normally read. This book wound up making the cut mostly because I recognized the author and figured a story that is loosely based on her own drug problems would be interesting. For the most part, I found I was right.

Truthfully, I'm not sure if I liked this book enough to want to read any of Fisher's other books and, to be fully honest, there were times when I did regret not checking out a book in my preferred genre instead. But, as I braved through this, I did find there were a lot of things I liked about it.

I think the thing I was most impressed by was how Fisher managed to talk about a very real problem in a way that kept things fr…

Movie Review: Escape Room (2019)

Synopsis: Six strangers accept invitations to participate in an escape room. They believe it will be a fun break from their lives. However, they quickly learn the multi-leveled challenge has deadly consequences if they fail.

Who's in it? The movie stars Taylor Russell, Logan Miller, Jay Ellis, Tyler Labine, Deborah Ann Woll and Nik Dodani.

Review: My wife and I ended up getting this movie on DVD through Netflix a few weeks ago but, thanks to a variety of distractions, didn't get an opportunity to watch it until this past weekend. After finally seeing it and taking a couple days to reflect, my opinion of it is a bit mixed.

At first glance, this is the type of thriller I would expect to enjoy, with a group of people facing certain death but still having a chance if they work together as a team and think things through. The problem was the film just didn't quite live up to its potential.

Part of the problem, I think, is there was a lot about this film that reminded me of the Sa…