Monday, January 31, 2022

How I Met Your Father 1x01 "Pilot" Review

After years of talk, the How I Met Your Mother spinoff is here, and it was inevitable that I'd watch it. I was late to the game on HIMYM. I watched most of the show in the span of a year during my freshman year in college and finished it right in time to watch the last season of the show as it aired. I was one of the countless people who hated the ending. All these years later, and it's still my most hated finale ever. It soured me on the show so much that I haven't re-watched an episode since. I've seen bits a pieces when it happened to be on TV, but even that's only happened a few times because I don't watch live TV.

Despite that, I used to enjoy HIMYM enough that I wanted to give How I Met Your Father a shot. If for no other reason than to see what they do with it. Actually, that's a lie. That's not the only reason I want to watch.

Another reason I was curious to watch is because Hilary Duff plays the main character, Sophie. I was a big fan of Hilary Duff in elementary/middle school. I watched Lizzie McGuire, and after that, my friends and I listened to her music constantly. We were big enough fans that everyone in our class knew about it. Despite that, I haven't paid much attention to what she's doing in a good fifteen years. I've seen her in things here or there, but I know she's been in other shows that I just haven't bothered watching.

The combination of both having watched HIMYM and having been a Hilary Duff fan did make me more interested in the show though. Based off the first episode alone, I like the cast so far. The only other actor I'm familiar with is Francia Raisa (though I only saw her in parts of The Secret Life of an American Teenager when my sister watched it), but I thought everyone did a good job in the pilot.

I was not expecting a random posh British dude to be part of the main cast, but I guess that'll be interesting too.

One of several ways that this show is different from HIMYM so far is that, in the scenes set in the future, we see Sophie instead of her son. This makes a lot of sense. HIMYM definitely felt constrained only being able to use pre-recorded footage of the child actors reacting to stuff, since the actors aged over the years of the show. That's less of a concern with an adult actor, and the fact that Sophie is telling the story over a video call makes not seeing his face feel natural even.

Of course, Sophie's son seems older than Ted's kids were, so aging might not even have been as big a deal if we did see him, but I still think it's a good decision.

The show feels current with Sophie going on a Tinder date and taking an Uber. Jesse's backstory is even that he went viral for a failed proposal to his girlfriend. None of that would have happened in How I Met Your Mother.

That being said, the show's definitely taking place in a fictional, idealized version of 2022, since there's not a single mention of the pandemic. Ian even goes on a business trip and then moves to Australia despite Australia having had some of the strictest border control measures. After the past couple of years, it's pretty bizarre to have the characters repeatedly state that it's 2022 with no mention of what everyone's been going through in the "real world" since 2020.

If everything else about this episode wasn't enough to make me suspicious that Jesse is the "father," then him swearing that he'd never get married did. He seems to be similar to Ted while he and Sophie seem to be in a similar position to Ted and Robin, and even though Robin wasn't the mother in HIMYM, I feel like the disaster of the HIMYM finale means that they're going to handle that differently this time around.

At the end of this episode, we're told that we've already met the father, which only makes me more suspicious that it's Jesse. It seems like How I Met Your Father might have learned from its predecessor that being able to develop a relationship over time will give it more power than showing seasons' worth of relationships and then suddenly adding a new one to the story and expecting it to have the same impact.

That being said, it might not be Jesse. It might be one of the other guys in the episode, and I'd be interested in seeing if the show could do a good job pulling off a twist like that. (Though, depending on how the show goes, it might feel like less of a twist by the time it happened.)

One thing that will be interesting is how the characters are referred to in the "future" scenes. In HIMYM, Ted referred to Lily and Robin both as his kids' "aunts" throughout the series, so it was pretty clear that they weren't the mother. This time around, though, we know someone in the show is the father but not who. So I'm guessing no one will be referred to as "uncle" because it would ruin the surprise. Future Sophie will probably refer to everyone by name, but anytime the kid refers to "dad," they can't make it too obvious who he's referring to. And if he calls any of the male characters by their name, then they're probably not the father. So I wonder if he just won't directly refer to anyone at all. It'll be interesting to see how that goes.

That didn't really occur to me until I sat down to write this post, though, so now I'm wondering if he said anything that could have been a clue. But I'm guessing he didn't.

We get a dash of nostalgia for the old series when we learn that Jesse and Sid are living in Ted, Marshall, and Lily's old apartment. I really like this. I'm not sure how much time we'll be spending in each place yet, but since Sophie's the main character, I expect her apartment will be the main hub, and I like that it doesn't have ties to the old series. But the old apartment is also still there, and we'll get to see it.

Overall, I enjoyed this first episode even more than I expected I would. There are downsides to the format of HIMYM that I'm sure this spinoff will have to deal with too, but there are ways that I think it learned from HIMYM. I'm curious to see where the story goes, but I also can't say that I have that high of expectations overall. I expect it to be enjoyable, but I'm not holding out for anything groundbreaking or amazing.

Friday, January 28, 2022

The Book of Boba Fett "Chapter 5: Return of the Mandalorian" Review

I don't know at this point. I really just don't know... This show keeps baffling me even more with each episode.

This one started with a surprise: We're following the Mandalorian this episode, not Boba Fett. We get to see a bit of what he's been up to since The Mandalorian season finale, including him using the Darksaber. I'm not going to lie, it was kind of a relief to see him because I find him a more interesting character than Boba Fett.

We get some background information about Mando's sect and the Great Purge. It's great information, but I don't understand why we're learning it in The Book of Boba Fett instead of The Mandalorian. I mentioned before that Boba Fett getting his suit back was so vague that you'd probably have to watch The Mandalorian to get what's going on, and this episode increased my feeling that you essentially have to watch both shows to get what's happening. (What happens when people watch these shows in the future? Will they have to be told which seasons of each to watch between each other instead of watching one all the way through and then watching the other?)

Mando has the armorer forge a weapon for Grogu. He's clearly still attached despite giving Grogu to Luke. He plans to deliver it, so I'm curious whether this means we'll be seeing Grogu in the future. (Are we going to see Luke too? Because there's only so much of CGI Luke that I can take.) I'm not even sure if this is a hint about the next season of The Mandalorian or about the future of The Book of Boba Fett at this point because I have no idea what's happening.

Mando reveals to the armorer that he removed his helmet, and he's told that he's no longer a Mandalorian. This is obviously a big deal for him. (Once again, it's amazing how much emotion we get when he has a mask on.) I'm baffled about this being in The Book of Boba Fett instead of The Mandalorian! It's such a big moment for him as a character. Why isn't it in his own show?

In between the heavy stuff, we do get a lot of humor. Quite a bit more than in previous episodes of The Book of Boba Fett. I didn't realize how much that was missing until now. There's Mando having to remove his weapons to get on a ship and a kid staring at him on said ship. Those moments added a bit of fun to the episode that wasn't necessarily in earlier episodes.

This episode also contains a blast from the past as we see the ship that Anakin piloted on Naboo during Phantom Menace, and apparently, we'll be seeing a lot more of it since it's Mando's now. It's another "why isn't this happening in The Mandalorian?" moment. However, it does lead to a funny scene of Mando getting pulled over for speeding.

In the last scene, the episode finally ties in more to the show's actual storyline when Fennec Shand appears and asks Mando to help Boba Fett. He agrees to but says he needs to visit someone first (with that someone supposedly being Grogu). I have no idea what this means for the Mandalorian's chances for appearing in The Book of Boba Fett again this season or for what will happen in the next season of The Mandalorian.

Like I said at the start, I'm more baffled by this show with every episode. I genuinely don't know what to expect next, but the bafflement is probably doing a good job of keeping me hooked actually.

Friday, January 21, 2022

The Book of Boba Fett "Chapter 4: The Gathering Storm" Review

In episode four, the two timelines we've been seeing for the first three episodes finally connect. I'm happy to have a better idea of how much time was separating the two stories and how it all fits together. It does feel strange, though, because I thought Boba Fett wanting revenge for the Tuskens' deaths had something to do with the "present" of the show, and instead, he seems to have gotten his revenge in this episode. Now I'm even more confused about why we had those flashbacks.

Some moments in this episode were originally from The Mandalorian, such as Fennec Shand being rescued in the desert. We see Boba Fett taking her to have her body modified in order to save her life. While we knew that he saved her, I think this is the first time we learned about the modifications. I appreciated learning a bit more about her, even though it wasn't much.

We see her agree to stay with Boba Fett after he gets his ship back, and there are some hints about her backstory that might be interesting, such as why she seems eager to stay with Boba Fett (though she tries to play it off). I hope we continue to learn more about her because she could be a very interesting character if they continue developing her story.

In an effort to get his armor back, Boba Fett goes looking in the sarlacc pit. Of course, we know that it's not there because we've seen what happened to his armor in The Mandalorian. We also don't see him actually get the armor back in this episode, which makes a certain amount of sense considering that story is in The Mandalorian, but I do think that a viewer would be confused if they watched this episode without having watched The Mandalorian. There has to be some people out there who are in that position, so it feels strange to not explain more to how he actually got the armor back after we see the failure at the sarlacc pit.

In the "present," Boba Fett gathers the planet's other leaders and gets them to agree to be neutral in his conflict with the Pykes. We get a lot of ominous talk about a war brewing, which I assume will be our main focus instead of whatever we were getting with the flashbacks before.

At this point, I'm still not as invested in The Book of Boba Fett as I am The Mandalorian. I'm very confused about where the story is going, especially after all those flashbacks that seem to have little to no impact over what's going to happen going forward. I'm still going to stick it out and see where things go, but I'm not sure I would if this weren't Star Wars. We'll see if things change now that it looks like the episodes won't have flashbacks anymore.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

The Book of Boba Fett "Chapter 3: The Streets of Mos Espa" Review

I came to write my review of episode 4 only to realize that this was still sitting here as a draft. I guess I never hit the publish button despite thinking I had, so here's this, which has just been sitting here written for a week!

We're three episodes in now, and the plot seems to be heating up.

Boba Fett gains some new "workers" in this episode. (I honestly don't know how else to refer to them.) They don't say much in this episode, which seems to be a theme with the people he's surrounding himself with. I'm curious about how much we'll actually learn about them as time goes on.

Jabba's twin cousins offer Boba Fett with a gift and say that they're leaving because they don't want war. So, for now at least, it seems like they're not going to be the biggest threat. I do wonder if they'll return later on though, since they were introduced and then only stuck around for two episodes.

We find out that the mayor is apparently working with the Pykes, so the mayor himself might not be the biggest threat either.

This episode also only gives us a quick flashback to the past where we see the Tuskens' village destroyed, which might be a hint to Boba Fett's current motivations. I'm also curious if that means we've seen the last of the flashbacks and are now going to "stick" to the present. I suppose we'll see in the next episode.

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Book Review: Whose Names are Unknown by Sanora Babb

Published: January 1, 2004
Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press
Received: purchased through Life's Library
Read from July 19. 2021 to January 9, 2022

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Originally written and slated for publication in 1939, this long-forgotten masterpiece was shelved by Random House when The Grapes of Wrath met with wide acclaim. In the belief that Steinbeck already adequately explored the subject matter, Babb's lyrical novel about a farm family's relentless struggle to survive in both Depression-era Oklahoma and in the California migrant labor camps gathered dust for decades.

Rescued from obscurity by the University of Oklahoma Press, the members of the poor but proud Dunne family and their circle of equally determined friends provide another legitimate glimpse into life on the dust-plagued prairies of the Southwest and in the fertile, but bitterly disappointing, orchards and vineyards of the so-called promised land. Babb, a native of Oklahoma's arid panhandle and a volunteer with the Farm Security Administration in Depression-era California, brings an insider's knowledge and immediacy to this authentically compelling narrative. A slightly less political, more female-oriented, companion piece to The Grapes of Wrath.


Whose Names are Unknown was one of the Life's Library picks for 2021. The novel was meant to be published in 1939, but when The Grapes of Wrath was published, it was decided that the book was too similar, and it never went to print. It wasn't until 2004, right before Babb's death, that the University of Oklahoma Press finally published the book.

As I haven't read The Grapes of Wrath, I can't judge how similar the two books are, though I admit that it does seem strange to me that two books that focus on something so large in US history would be too similar to exist at the same time does seem strange to me.

The novel focuses on a family during the Great Depression. At the start of the novel, they're living in the Oklahoma panhandle struggling to survive despite frequent dust storms. Later on in the novel, they travel to California to find work.

While I'm not sure exactly how many years the novel covers, we're with the characters for what felt like a long time, and I enjoyed getting to see the same characters for that long. When the family leaves for California, they also leave their neighbors behind, and we don't get to hear much about those characters again, which was sad after spending so much time with them. The characters were the best part of the book for me. I felt very attached and wanted to help them somehow.

This book is far from a quick read. It took me about six months to finish, but that's not because it's long. The only plot the book has is a family trying to survive. While I was very drawn into the family's struggles, it wasn't a story where I was on the edge of my seat and desperately needed to keep reading to see what happened next. My experience felt much more contemplative, and I was comfortable reading it in small doses over a longer period of time instead of flying through it.

The ending of the book is also ambiguous. There's no real closure. At the end of the story, they're still in the midst of the Great Depression, and the characters don't know how they'll survive. You get the sense that it'll be more of the same for a while. That made the characters' suffering feel even more real because there was no easy fix to it.

I did enjoy this book as a slower read. If you want something faster paced, it probably won't be for you, but if a slower book isn't a problem for you, I recommend picking it up.

Monday, January 10, 2022

Book Review: An African American and Latinx History of the United States by Paul Ortiz

Published: January 30, 2018
Publisher: Beacon Press
Received: purchased
Read from November 30, 2021 to January 6, 2022

Synopsis from Goodreads:

An intersectional history of the shared struggle for African American and Latinx civil rights

Spanning more than two hundred years, An African American and Latinx History of the United States is a revolutionary, politically charged revisionist history, arguing that Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa—otherwise known as "The Global South"—were crucial to the development of America as we know it. Ortiz challenges the notion of westward progress, as exalted by widely-taught formulations like "Manifest Destiny" and "Jacksonian Democracy," and shows how placing African American, Latinx, and Indigenous voices unapologetically front and center transforms American history into one of the working class organizing themselves against imperialism.

In precise detail, Ortiz traces this untold history from the Jim Crow-esque racial segregation of the Southwest, the rise and violent fall of a powerful tradition of Mexican labor organizing in the 20th century, to May 1, 2006, International Workers' Day, when migrant laborers—Chicana/os, Afrocubanos, and immigrants from every continent on earth—united in the first "Day Without Immigrants" to prove the value of their labor.

Incisive and timely, An African American and Latinx History is a bottom-up history told from the viewpoint of African American and Latinx activists revealing the radically different ways that brown and black people of the diaspora addressed issues plaguing the United States today.


An African American and Latinx History of the United States is the fourth book in the series ReVisioning American History, which attempts to look at the history of the United States through the lens of groups who have been underrepresented in mainstream history books. This particular book focuses on the history of African American and Latinx people in the US, especially in ways that the two groups' histories intersect.

I'd never read a book that wove together the history of Black and Latinx people in the way this one did, and I enjoyed the (unfortunately) unique view of American history that the book provides. There are many ways in which the two groups have been connected throughout US history, and placing them together in one book really put that into context.

The book focuses a lot on labor and independence movements. I had a basic understanding of a lot of what the book talked about, but I enjoyed learning even more. Because of the timespan that the book, it really helped put what I did know into a larger context than I'd previously considered.

Despite the book being focused on the United States, a lot of the it focuses on the United States' relationship with Latin America. That's not surprising since it's incredibly important to the history of Latinx people in the US, and it's also a very important part of US history that's frequently overlooked.

This book offers a great look at both African American and Latinx history, especially in ways that they intertwine with each other, and I enjoyed getting a look at US history that we often don't.

The Book of Boba Fett "Chapter 2: The Tribes of Tatooine" Review

Episode two of The Book of Boba Fett pulled me in more than the first one, which is essentially what I was expecting as we got deeper into the story. I want to find out where this story is going.

The episode starts in the "present" with Boba Fett as a crime lord. An assassin that was sent to kill him says that it was the mayor who hired him, so Boba Fett and Fennec Shand visit said mayor, who cryptically tells Boba Fett that he has other things to worry about. Sure enough, two cousins of Jabba arrive, wanting to claim Jabba's territory.

I'm curious how big of a threat both the mayor and Jabba's relatives will be. Are they both going to be equal threats as the season progresses? Or will one become more important over the course of the story? As of right now, I find myself more interesting in the mayor than the Hutts, but since we've only seen them each once, that's only a first impression. Who knows how I'll feel after a few more episodes.

After what I think was about fifteen minutes or so in the "present," we go back to the past and stay there for the rest of the episode, which was an interesting decision. The past must have something to do with what's currently happening, but I'm still not sure how. Both timelines take place on Tatooine, so I'm assuming that's part of the connection. I don't know if Jabba is going to show up in the past and do something that makes Boba Fett want to take over his territory or what. Or are the Tuskens going to show up in the "present"?

In the "past," Boba Fett helps the Tuskens take down a train that has been shooting at them. I find his dynamics with the Tuskens odd. I don't really understand why he's helping them when they were holding him prisoner and not even giving him water to drink. It just feels very strange, and I keep waiting to learn more about what his motivations are. Right now he seems to have developed some sort of fondness for them, but that feels very weird considering how they treated him at first.

The weirdest element of this episode is that the Tuskens give Boba Fett a lizard that enters his head and makes him hallucinate. This was...bizarre. A lizard of all things? I have no idea. I don't even know what to say about it.

This episode has drawn me further into the story. I can't say that I'm in love yet, but I am invested in finding out what happens next.

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Star Trek: Discovery Review: 4x07 "...But to Connect"

This episode was unexpectedly the mid-season finale, which I didn't realize until I reached the end. But it definitely has left us on a cliffhanger.

We start the episode with Zora refusing to give Stamets the coordinates to the DMA, so Zora gaining emotions has become a central part of the season. I'm enjoying seeing how her "evolving" is creating problems. I think it's an interesting thing for the show to explore even as Zora continues to personally freak me out.

Because of Zora's refusal, Kovich arrives to inspect her and see if she needs to be taken off Discovery. For the whole episode, the crew members who are there really want her to stay, except for Stamets who is skeptical. I was on Stamets' side here because Zora makes me uneasy. It's great that the others trusted her, but I'm surprised no one else was at all wary.

In the end, Zora is dubbed a new lifeform, which means she's allowed to stay on the ship. Honestly, that is more off-putting to me than if she was AI, even though I realize it probably shouldn't be. I am curious what will happen in the second half of the season now that they've realized what Zora is. I'm also curious if I'll come to trust her more myself.

While the conflict with Zora is happening, Michael and Book are at a meeting with many different planet leaders to vote on what to do about the DMA, but Michael and Book disagree. I really like that they've done this. Even though Michael had a hard time with it, it was nice to see her stick with what she believed was the right decision.

It was frustrating to watch Book disregard the vote and act on his own with Tarka. It doesn't help that I don't really care for Tarka's reasoning. It doesn't excuse his actions to me, and I don't even trust that his story was real. I'm incredibly suspicious that he's going to double cross Book and leave him in danger.

The saddest part of this episode was hearing that Gray was leaving. I'm happy that he's doing what he wants, and the scene where he and Adira talked about doing long distance was adorable. I figured this would happen once he got his body back, but I desperately hope that we get to see him again this season.

But we'll have to wait a while to see, since we aren't getting any new episodes until February. I'm curious because, with Book and Tarka doing their own thing, I imagine the next episode will pick up right where this one leaves off. But Adira was meant to go with Gray for a little while, and I think they were in the teaser for the next episode. So I'm very curious about how that's all going to play out. (But would be excited if both Adira and Gray stuck around a while longer because of the Book and Tarka thing.) We'll just have to wait a few weeks to find out.

Monday, January 3, 2022

The Book of Boba Fett "Chapter 1: Stranger in a Strange Land" Review

The Book of Boba Fett is finally here!

I admit that I wasn't as excited about this series as countless other people probably were. Boba Fett was never a character who I had many feelings for one way or the other. He was just a character who was there in a few scenes of the movies.

From the way that the series was introduced in The Mandalorian, I was more interested in Fennec Shand than anything else in this series, and after the first episode, that remains true.

So far, this show is very similar in tone to The Mandalorian. It almost feels like it's an extension of that show, but while The Mandalorian felt new, in a way, this just feels like more of that. I'm not sure if it's doing it any favors. I read an article on Pajiba about how Boba Fett is really just another Mandalorian, and at this point, I really feel that too. This is a lot like watching an alternate version of The Mandalorian.

A lot of this episode doesn't have dialogue at all or it's in Tusken with no subtitles, which I do think it an interesting decision.

Half of this episode takes place in the "present" when Boba Fett is a crime lord while the other half are the nightmares he has while in a bacta tank. In the nightmares, he's been captured by Tusken Raiders. The Tusken Raider nightmares don't really get resolved in this episode either. By the end of the episode, he's earned respect from them for killing a creature, but it's up in the air whether they consider him a prisoner or not.

We also don't get a reason why he's having these nightmares. Presumably, he could have them just because being a prisoner and essentially treated by a slave is traumatic, but for them to take up half of the episode, I'm going to expect that they have something to do with the show's larger story. We don't get much information about what that is yet though.

In the end, I wasn't blown away by this episode. I definitely still prefer The Mandalorian, but I was intrigued enough to keep watching and see how it goes.