october 2017

On Saturday morning I ran my first 5K since starting to get serious about my running in August, and the first one I've run since March of this year (which was the only one I had run this entire year up until Saturday).

This was the Mayor's 5K on the Fifth Runway, where the race takes place on one of the actual runways at the busiest airport in the world. That means not only are there a ton of extra security measures, but the race also starts much earlier than most other 5Ks because they have to get the runway cleared and operational again before traffic picks up for the day.

I did this one once before, two years ago for the inaugural race (I was registered last year, but I was sick and couldn't go). It was a magical experience, and I was very disappointed to miss it last year. This year was similar in terms of the timing, etc.—I had to leave my house at 4:30 a.m. for a race that started at 6:30 because we had to park away from the site and be shuttled over on busses—and I'm glad I did it, just because it's good to start getting back into the habit of these races again, but it wasn't as cool as it was the first time I ran it. Still a very cool event, but running it that first time was something that I'm not likely to experience again.

The Ravens had a chance to take control of their division, beat their biggest rival, and bounceback from a horrendous performance last week in London against the Jaguars by beating Pittsburgh in Baltimore, but they totally blew it. I don't even really want to talk about this game, and if they don't turn it around soon, especially on offense, their season will be over.

UGA, on the other hand, continues to impress, rolling over Tennessee 41-0, the first time they have won in Tennessee since 2013 and the first shutout of Tennessee by any team since 1994. It was a dominating performance, and I'm having increasing faith that Kirby Smart, in his second year as head coach, is going to bring the discipline and confidence from his years as defensive coordinator at Alabama to the massive talent that Georgia attracts with its recruiting operation, can make a real contender out of this team.

Last night was the second-to-last regular season home game, and it was a doozy. Atlanta was resting a lot of their best players because they've already clinched a playoff spot, and the ref was far and away the worst I've ever seen, which combined for a more wild and wooly game than we've seen in a while.

The ref lost control of the game early—there were a couple of flagrant fouls by Minnesota that should have at least been yellow cards (if not reds) that he either didn't see or declined to call. Either way, once Minnesota realized they could get away with pretty much anything, that's what they tried to do.

Despite this, there were no scores by either team in the first half, but then Minnesota came out strong in the second half and scored a goal almost immediately. A few minutes later, our goalie was given a red card trying to stop a charging Minnesota player, but instead of falling apart at that point (down a man and playing our third string goalie), the ejection really seemed to energize the remaining players.

Atlanta took control, scoring goals seven minutes twelve minutes after the red card was issue, and they maintained the 2-1 lead until the very end of the game—Minnesota literally scored in the 90th minute. And then the ref added seven minutes of stoppage time, and Minnesota scored again in the sixth of those seven minutes, meaning not only did Atlanta not get to improve their point total by 3 with a win, but they also lost the single point they would have gotten for a tie.

Again, the ref was truly awful—people were actually throwing things at him, which I've never seen at an Atlanta United game. It was impressive to see the team come back, especially given the overall circustances, and while I wish they could have come away with a win from a dirty team that was taking advantage of a bad official, it shouldn't really have much impact on our postseason chances.

We left last Thursday to go visit my mom in Myrtle Beach. She broke her hip a couple of weeks ago, so we not only wanted to see her to cheer her up as she's going through a tough rehab (especially Will, who adores her), but we also wanted to help out with anything we could do to get her house ready for when she comes home (which will hopefully be sometime next week).

We didn't get to the hospital until Thursday evening, but we stopped on the way and picked up Chik-fil-A for mom for dinner since she was getting tired of the hospital food. My sister had visited her the week before, so she was pretty stocked with snacks in her room, but her meals were still coming from the hospital kitchen, and she'd been there for a week at that point.

We spent much of the day there on Friday, including bringing her breakfast from Bojangles and dinner from Outback Steakhouse, and Will was a great little assistant. He enjoyed pushing her around in her wheelchair (including during a pretty long excusion to their outdoor boardwalk, my mom's first time outdoors since her injury) and tending to her other needs, like getting her ice, summoning the nurse, ordering her meals (or canceling them if we were bringing her restaurant food), and learning about all the gadgets and machinery in her room.

In between spending time with mom, we ran errands for her, getting her supplies from the grocery store and getting a new showerhead for the bathroom she'll use when she returns home. We needed to head back home on Saturday, but we stayed with her until around noon and were able bring her lunch from Five Guys before we headed out.

It was good to see her, and hopefully her recovery will continue on track. It's hard to be as involved as we would like, both for myself and my sister, because she lives six plus hours away, but she's got her brother nearby and a good network of other friends and family who are also planning to come stay with her over the next few weeks.

On Monday after we got back from visiting my mom, Will was still out of school for his fall break, so I took a vacation day and stayed home with him. In the morning we just hung around the house, but for lunch I took him to the Varsity, one of his favorite spots that we don't go to very often. He ordered his typical meal—two plain hot dogs, onion rings, and a lemonade—and ate all but about half the onion rings.

After that I took him to the Lego Ninjago movie, which I had originally thought he might not want to see because he's not particularly into ninjas or Legos (to my great dismay). But when I expressed surprise at his interest after asking him about it a few days earlier, he said, "Well, I liked the Lego Batman movie, and I don't like Batman either." Fair enough.

Lego has certainly established a certain style with their movies, and this was more of the same. It's okay, and they're generally better than a lot of kids movies, but plotwise, they are very forgettable (except for the first one with Chris Pratt—I still really like that one). I don't really remember much of the plot of this one or the Batman one, but the Jackie Chan cameos at the beginning and the end were pretty funny. And Will really enjoyed it, especially the real-life kitty who terrorized the Lego town, which is what's important anyway.

We also ran a few side-errands in the afternoon—going to Party City to look at Halloween decorations (Will loves decorating, and we also picked some plastic bugs for Poe to play with), shoe shopping for me (fruitless, but I really need a new pair of work shoes), and looking at fish tank prices. Will has been asking for an aquarium for a while, and I think we're about ready to get him one.

It was a good day hanging out with him, and we'll get another chance for some one-on-one time later this month when Julie heads to Maryland for a few days for a conference.

I recently finished reading Meet Me in the Bathroom, a book by Lizzy Goodman that's essentially an oral history of the NYC music scene for the first decade of the 21st century. Although I ended up liking it, it started out a little slow and it's definitely not a book for everyone.

In order to have a chance of enjoying this book, you're probably going to need to be a moderate to serious fan of at least half the artists who contribute to telling this story. If you have no interest in Liars, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, LCD Soundsystem, !!!, the Rapture, Jonathan Fire Eater/the Walkmen, Ryan Adams, Kings of Leon, Regina Spektor, Vampire Weekend, the Moldy Peaches, Interpol, the National, TV on the Radio, White Stripes, and most especially the Strokes, who are the lynchpin of the entire narrative structure, then this book probably isn't for you.

If you like those bands, however, this gives some pretty honest behind-the-scenes stories from their coming of age in New York, and it rarely pulls punches, so there are plenty of salacious rock and roll details. It's a little bit of a chore trying to keep track of the scenesters who weren't actually in the bands or the band members from groups you don't already know, but after a while you get a feel for the relationships and you stop having to re-check the index at the beginning that tells you who everyone is.

As for the narrative that the artists themselves spill out, there are some holes in it, especially in their claims that this period, which saw a mixing of punk/indie guitar sounds with electronic dance music techniques, was the first time such a thing had ever happened. This is simply not true, and points to the myopia that comes with being part of a scene—of course it feels transformative and revolutionary to the people inside it, even if from a broader historical perspective this same narrative has unspooled many times in many places.

I'm a pretty big fan of many of the groups featured in the book, and I'm familiarly with almost all of them, so I enjoyed the book even if it drifted a bit and definitely stuck to an insider's view—there was no attempt by the author to put this movement in a larger context. She was content to collect the stories and then edit them into a somewhat coherent story that covered several years of this particular scene and the personalibites and artists who defined it.

I seriously can't figure Baltimore out this year. Aside from the Cleveland game, they've won every game they were supposed to lose and lost every game they were supposed to win. They beat the Oakland Raiders on the road on Sunday, a game they were supposed to lose, and the sputtering offense looked not only functional, but actually good. Next they play the 1-4 Chicago Bears in Baltimore against a rookie quarterback in his first road start, a game that they should win handily, but we'll see—they only thing they've proven so far this season is that they are so inconsistent that you don't really know what to expect.

UGA, on the other hand, continues to roll over opponents and keep their perfect record intact. This past weekend was an away game against Vanderbilt, an unranked SEC opponent, and it was nearly as humiliating for the other team as their shutout of Tennessee the week before. The final score was 45-14, but it was never close. The defense was amazing despite missing a few starters from injuries, and the dominant ground game was responsible for most of the points.

It's nice to be able to give freshman QB Jake Fromm have time to grow into his role while being consistently ahead by a comfortable margin and not really needing a passing attack, but if they want to seriously contend, they'll need to develop that part of their game so he has confidence heading into the postseason. This team looks unstoppable right now, and despite a packed schedule the rest of the year, I think they have a legimate shot at a perfect season.

My mom got to go home from the hospital yesterday, which is a huge first step in her recovery and move towards reestablishing her independence. She's still got a long way to go, but we're hoping through a combination of family support (my cousin is staying with her this week) and some home healthcare aids, she'll be able to get into a good routine and keep up with her physical therapy.

One thing that might help on all fronts is the possibility of her traveling to the home of one of her best friends up near DC, who has offered to host her for a few weeks and help her with her rehab (both my mom and her friend are former nurses). The big obstacle to this is that we don't know when my mom will be cleared to fly, and we also don't know, even if she is cleared to fly, whether she'll be able to travel alone.

I really hope we can figure this out though—this would be an incredible boost to her mental outlook, which is going to play a big part in her physical recovery from her injury.

Yet another crazy busy weekend. I don't know how I ended up in a family that doesn't see the weekends as a time to rest, but here I am.

On Friday night, instead of our traditional movie night, we went to see one of Will's friends and her mom in a stage production of Mary Poppins at a nearby school. I thought this would be a 60-90 minute bare bones production that was a showcase for the kids with some adults thrown in, but it was a full-fledged, full-length community theater production with as many bells and whistles as you can get from an amateur production held in a school gym. There was pretty hardcore lighting and sound, a full live band, and pretty elaborate costumes and sets.

Will really enjoyed it, but man, was it looooong. The intermission was an hour and a half in, and by the time all was said and done, the performance lasted about three hours (and the seating was folding chairs, so the adults were uncomfortable for about two thirds of that). Add in our early arrival and the time we spent hanging out afterward with Will's buddies (two of his other friends were also in attendance, so we all sat together), and we were there for nearly four hours. But again, Will had a lot of fun.

Saturday morning I ran the Winship 5K up at Emory, and then we left to meet my sister for lunch and and afternoon at the corn maze we've been going to for the past several years. It seems like this place has a little bit less in terms of non-corn-maze activities every year—this year they were minus a giant inflatable slide after losing the zipline course the previous year—but there's still a ton of stuff to do, and we barely had time to do it all even though we were there for a good five or six hours.

Sunday was relatively low-key, but we did meet some friends at one of Will's favorite restaurants (which also happens to be a family-friendly sports bar) to have dinner and watch the away match for Atlanta United. I have season tickets with the father and one other neighbor, and his son usually comes with him to the games as well. The time of the match was just about perfectly synced with the amount of time it took for four adults and three kids to order and eat dinner, and it was a pretty fun evening for everyone.

We only have one more home game left, and although my friend won't be able to come because of a prior commitment, he has generously given me his two tickets so I can take Will and Julie.


Quick recap of the weekend's sports viewing:

Baltimore Ravens: Terrible most of the game against a 1-4 team that was fielding a rookie quarterback in his first road start before mounting an epic comeback in the last few minutes only to blow it in overtime. Heartbreaking in the cruel way that the Ravens have gotten especially good at in recent years. One more loss like this, and the season is pretty much over for them, especially if the Steelers keep scratching together wins.

Georgia Bulldogs: Still awesome. Still amazing. The final score of 53-28 against Missouri belies how close this game was early on, where the teams were trading touchdowns and were tied 21-21 early in the second quarter, but UGA kicked on the afterburners at that point and ended the half up 34-21. The only other Missouri score was a meaningless touchdown in the fourth quarter when the Bulldogs held a commanding 26 point lead (and Georgia would promptly reply with a final touchdown of their own).

Atlanta United: I watched the away game with one of the guys I have season tickets with, and although the game ended in a draw, that's still good news for the team. They have clinched a playoff berth, have a very strong chance of being seeded high enough to host at least one playoff game at home, and have an outside chance to get one of the top two seeds that will give them a home game and a first week bye. Next Sunday is their final regular season game, and there's enough at stake that we should get the starters for this one.

I thought this year would be an easy upgrade cycle for me in terms of my Apple products. I have a three year old iPhone (the iPhone 6, no Plus) and I have an original Apple Watch, colloquially referred to as the Series Zero, which I have worn pretty much every day for the past two and a half years. Before the new versions of these products were unveiled, I assumed it would be a pretty normal upgrade year where I would simply choose the phone that had the storage capacity I wanted and choose the latest version of the Watch.

Let's start with the Watch. This year's big new feature is the addition of cellular connectivity, which I have very little interest in, so I was pleased to see that the Series 3 also game in a non-cellular configuration for $70 less than the cellular version. But then I started looking at the specs more closely, and I realized that for the extra $70, not only did you get the cellular option, you also got double the storage capacity from the non-cellular version, which might help future-proof the device for an extra cycle.

There was also the Nike+ version, which supposedly has unique features that you can't get with the standard versions, but when I did more research on that, it turns out that the only truly unique features were the bands (which you can actually purchase separately, so not that unique, just an additional cost) and watch faces designed for working out. So at least that made one decision for me: no need for the Nike+ version.

But back to the main choice: cellular with double the memory for a little bit more money, or non-cellular for a little bit less. I really agonized over this one, because I have no intention of activating the cellular functionality because it costs an additional $10 per month on your mobile bill, but then I started thinking about how tethering your iPad to your phone used to be an extra charge too, and then one company stopped charging for it and soon so did everyone else. I can definitely see a time when my carrier might charge an activation fee of $25 or something, but then the data usage is just part of the larger plan, like tethering is now. So I decided to get the cellular version for the extra memory and in the hope that someday the cellular functionality won't also incur a monthly charge.

The phone was even more complicated. For the first time, Apple introduced two distinct iPhone models: the iPhone 8 (which in a different year would have been called the iPhone 7S since it uses pretty much the same form factor as the 7 aside from the glass back that allows for wireless charging) and the iPhone X, which is Apple's first design update since the iPhone 6 was introduced over three years ago. The problem: the internals on the iPhone 8 are EXACTLY the same as the iPhone X, but the X costs about $300 more for the parallel model (I'm comparing the regular 8, not the 8 Plus—the Plus models are too big for my hands/pockets for comfortable daily use).

So what do you get for that extra $300 besides the new design. Well, you get a new authentication system that allows you to unlock your phone just by looking at it in place of the Touch ID fingerprint sensor, but I'm not especially interested in that. You also get an OLED screen, which is supposed to produce higher quality images than and LCD screen, but I'm okay with the screen quality on my 6, so I'm sure the 8's improved LCD screen would be fine for me. But it turns out the new design is more than just a new case: it's actually an edge-to-edge screen that gives you more viewing area than the 8 Plus but in a form factor that's not that much different than the 8.

That turned out to be what sold me on this, especially given that 1) this design is likely to be the standard for all iPhone models starting with next year's product cycle; 2) I don't want to wait another year to buy a new phone (this three year gap is the largest in my buying history since the iPhone was introduced; I typically buy a new phone every two years); and 3) if I go with a longer upgrade cycle, it's easier to justify spending a little bit more for a cutting edge model that will be less likely to be antiquated after three years.

I really wish they had a 128 GB model—that's what I have in my 6, and it's the perfect size for me. But the X only comes in 64 GB and 256 GB models, and 64 is just not enough, especially for a device that I'm thinking of as a three year investment. So when Apple starts allowing preorders next week, I'm planning to order the 256 GB iPhone X.

With supplies so limited, I'm assuming that mine won't ship for a few weeks, which will give me time to reconsider after reviews start coming in from the tech sites and the users. As long as it hasn't shipped, it will be pretty easy for me to cancel my order and just get an iPhone 8 instead. But unless the iPhone X turns into a global debacle a la the Samsung Note 7, I think I've made my choice.

Julie has been out of town since Wednesday, so I've had a fun couple of days hanging out with Will. Because he has school and I have work, there have been limited opportunities to do fun stuff, but we did go out to dinner at his new favorite restaurant on Wednesday night (a Japanese place in Emory Village).

Last night was his grade's musical at school, where all the second graders dressed up as fruits, vegetables, and flowers for a play about a garden. Will was an onion, and he had a really great time. My sister and her husband came to surprise him for the show as well, and afterward we all went out to dinner at Slice & Pint, where Will and I shared a spicy chorizo pizza.

Tonight we'll do our typical Friday night movie night, and I'll let him pick where we eat dinner (likely Domino's) and what movie we'll watch (likely the recently-released-digitally Emoji Movie). I have no desire to see this movie, but Will really loves it, and Julie took the hit when it was out in theaters, so it's my turn to endure it now.

Julie gets back tomorrow, but Will and I have an event in the morning before we go to pick her up at the airport. It's been fun having some one-on-one time with him—he's really such a sweet, fun kid.

Julie didn't get back from her conference until Saturday afternoon, but on Saturday morning Will and I had one last activity together—a service project for my alma mater's Atlanta alumni chapter. This one was working in a community garden that provides fresh produce to the Atlanta Food Bank, and it was the second time Will had joined me for one of these service events (the other was making sandwiches for the homeless earlier this year).

He had a ball helping out with a lot of the gardening activities—pushing a wheelbarrow, planting spinach and kale, and spreading mulch around the rows of vegetables and watering them. As is perfectly normal for anyone of any age, he did not care for weeding, and spent most of his time while I was working on a particularly troublesome patch around some swiss chard wandering to see what other people were doing and collecting produce that had fallen on the ground before it was fully mature. He collected several eggplants, a scotch bonnet pepper, and two pumpkins, and we ended up bringing one of the eggplants home as a souvenir (not to eat, just to keep).

Julie got back on Saturday afternoon, and that night Julie took him to his school's movie night where they watch a movie on a giant outdoor screen while I went to a concert. She let him pick dinner, and they ended up getting Subway and taking it to the movie with them.

Sunday was the final regular season game for Atlanta United, and since one of my season ticket partners couldn't use his two tickets, I was able to bring Julie and Will along. Will has gone to one other game with me this season, but Julie had never seen a game at the stadium, so we got there as early as we could to get something to eat and still have time to walk around the stadium before the start of the game. It was a really great time—hopefully there will be a couple of times next season when we'll all be able to go together again.

As soon as we got home on Sunday evening, Julie and I immediately changed clothes and headed out for a concert (the same band I saw on Saturday night was playing a second night in Atlanta), leaving Will with a babysitter who lives just around the corner from us. He only had half an hour with her before he was supposed to go to bed, but he stretched that out a bit and got to read with her and show her his favorite little robot, Cozmo.

All in all, another fun but very busy weekend. I don't think we really have much officially on the calendar for next weekend, but since it's the weekend before Halloween, I have a feeling it's not going to be a hang around the house and relax kind of weekend.

Sports recap!:

Baltimore Ravens: Ugh. Just...ugh. If we get our asses beat on Thursday night by the Dolphins, that's it for this year. The complete removal of hope this early in the season might actually be a blessing—typically we have to wait until week 16 or 17 to have our playoff dreams crushed into atoms and dispersed on the winds.

UGA: Didn't play this week. Which sucks, because they are really a joy to watch this year, especially in contrast with my poor Ravens.

Atlanta United: Their last regular season game was at home on Sunday, and I was lucky enough to get two tickets from one of the guys in my season ticket group so I could bring Julie and Will. Sunday was what they call Decision Day in the MLS, where all teams play their games at the same time, so by the end of the last game all of the playoff spots and seeds are set.

There was a very low-odds scenario where if Atlanta won and two other teams lost they would end up with the number 2 seed, which would mean both a bye week and a home game, but a tie with Toronto and a win by one of the other teams meant that we ended up in the number 4 slot. But that's still fine by me: we get a home playoff game on Thursday night against fifth seed Columbus, who they've beaten both times they've faced them this season.

It's already been such a fantastic year for this inaugural team—the playoffs is a bonus, a home playoff game is an even bigger bonus, and advancing to the next round would be unbelievable. No matter how this season ends up, I can't wait for the next one to start.

Last night I had to pick up Will early from school and feed him dinner so we could take him to his first piano recital. He started lessons back in September, but his teacher is kind of flaky, so he's only had three or four lessons (he has been late to most of those, and he's forgotten about two other scheduled lessons). Despite that, Will knows several songs by heart, and he really seems to enjoy practicing.

Despite his punctuality/attendance issues, the teacher seems like a really good person, and that's how the recital came up. Every month he plays for free at an assisted living home, and every other month he does an additional concert where any of his students who want to can volunteer to play a couple of songs. Will was very excited about this when he told us about it, so we said we'd come, and Will practiced the songs he wanted to play for several days before the show.

He got very nervous when we got there, especially when he saw all the older kids who have been playing for longer than him. But when his name was called, he went up and played his two songs beautifully, and was then asked to play a third on the spot that he hadn't rehearsed, and he also did great with that one. They're going to do it again in December, and I know he's going to want to do it again, so it's time for him to start learning some Christmas carols.

I went to see the new Blade Runner 2049 a couple of weeks ago, and while I'm still processing it, I think it was a pretty appropriate follow up to the original, even in its now-revered state. But it wasn't perfect, and in order to be immediately seen as a worthy follow up to the classic film, it needed to be perfect.

The good: the cinematography and the sound design were immaculate. The first sequence involves some scenes set indoors where a pot of water is bubbling on the stove, and those sounds murmur beneath the dialogue the entire time. It's the first and last thing you hear in this interior setting, and it ands a subtle uneasiness to the scenes that it's almost impossible believe until you've watched them yourself.

I'm remarking on the sound design more than the cinematography because the attention to detail in the former is surprising—it's not just in that initial sequence, the subtleties and the impact of the background sounds of the film continue to have a major part in setting the tone throughout. But make no mistake - the cinematography is gorgeous and, combined with the set design, exceeds the groundbreaking visuals of the original film.

As for the acting, Harrison Ford does a great job reprising his role as Deckard (he's 2 for 3 in revisiting his classic roles from the 80s over the past decade—he killed it in his return as Han Solo, but the Indiana Jones legacy was severely tarnished by that fourth film), and Jared Leto (who I generally dislike) was a more effective and menacing villain than either Tyrell or Roy Batty (his replicant minion Luv, however, despite being far more lethal than Roy Batty, had no depth or nuance to her motivations and actions, and therefore was far easier to disregard her as a character).

Now for the not so good: the pacing was, if anything, even slower than the original, which works against it for younger contemporary audiences (who already seem to think the original was plodding). The slower unfolding of the story isn't a surprise given director Dennis Villeneuve's past work (such as the deservedly lauded Arrival from last year), and its actually quite beautiful if you're able to absorb it, but the movie also could have easily been trimmed by a good 25-35 minutes without losing anything integral to the plot, either by cutting down certain sequences or cutting some scenes entirely.

The soundtrack was also clearly taking its cues from the iconic original score, and while there are many times where it works, there are also some key scenes where it threatens to overwhelm the visuals—not only is the music purposely bombastic, but the it's also way too loud, which makes it even more overwhelming than it might be in another movie due to the generally quiet tone of most of the film. It comes so close to being one of the movie's strengths, but it's used improperly in a couple of key spots that negate its effectiveness in others.

Finally we have Deckard's counterpart and our main protagonist, a replicant blade runner named K played by Ryan Gosling (to be clear, even though the original and this movie both hint at the possibility of Deckard being a replicant, neither film gives us a defnitive answer, but K is identified clearly as a replicant from early in the film). One of my biggest issues is that, no matter how scruffy you try to make him look by putting a three day beard on him and giving him the right wardrobe, it's still Ryan Gosling under there, who just seems a little too clean cut and emotionally empty for this role.

I also really missed the narration from the original - many people, including Harrison Ford himself, like to deride that aspect of the original theatrical release, but to me, it helped keep the story moving along during some of the less action- or plot-oriented scenes, and it was also in keeping with the original's obvious referencing of classic hardboiling film noir detective movies from the 40s. As a result, the empty spaces in the film seem even emptier, and we also never get any sense of K's internal thought process, making him much harder to identify with as our protagonist.

I may go see this one again—its successes are stunning, and its failures are intriguing. My initial impression, though, is that this is the movie equivalent of the brilliant but never fully embraced Hannibal television series: it's dark, dangerous, and disturbing, and it requires an intense extended focus from the audience. It's an extended tone poem whose shadowy beauty only reveals itself if you allow yourself to be immersed in the experience, and it doesn't neatly define or conclude the relationships between the main characters. There are moments when it can make you feel as if you are as psychotic and/or mentally unstable as the characters, creating a world that makes you question your own reality after watching it.

Even though I may quibble with some of the details, this is a unique and powerful accomplishment from a mainstream film put out by a major studio whose goal is to fulfill decades of anticipation from a legion of devoted fans. It's an experience as much as it is a film, and one that you can likely only have by seeing it on a large screen surrounded by a sound system that you simply can't replicate in a home environment without spending tens of thousands of dollars. If you have any interest in this film, don't tell yourself you'll catch it when it's released digitally; take the time to see it now and give it the chance it deserves to impress you.

Wow. What an incredible game last night. I went to the first Atlanta United playoff game in franchise history, where they were seeded number four in their division and earned a home single-elimination playoff game against the fifth seeded Columbus Crew, who they beat twice this season. That might seem like an easy win for Atlanta, especially given that their starters were all back and they were playing in front of the third largest crowd in MLS history in the nicest stadium in the entire league, but this Crew was not the same team we saw earlier in the season.

They had two starters who didn't play the last time we saw them, and they were on a 10 game unbeaten streak (the longest in the league) coming into the playoff game. They were definitely a worthy opponent for Atlanta, especially given how packed with games the United schedule was at the end of the season due to delays in opening the new stadium. Atlanta was the better team during the match—they had more shots on goal, and seemed to be in control of the ball far more often - but Columbus showed how dangerous it was as well, getting more than a couple shots on goal that required miracle saves from the brilliant Atlanta goalie Guzman.

Regular time ended 0-0, which led to two additional 15 minute periods, but by the end of this additional half hour, both teams were still scoreless. And this led to the worst solution to a tie game in the history of all sports: the shootout, which, at this level, is essentially like giving up and flipping a coin. For both teams to have gone through all that work in the regular season to get to this point, this wasn't a fair proposition, especially since they play each other to a draw. It seems like a better solution would be to go to sudden death and/or find ways of increasing the likelihood of scoring (say by ejecting making a team remove one player for every yellow card received during the match).

As you can probably guess by now, the shootout did not end in Atlanta's favor, so now their amazing first season is history. But make no mistake: this was a remarkable year for this team and this city, and it gave me real joy to be a part of it as a season ticket holder. I cannot wait for games to start up again next March, and I have no doubt that this young, exciting group of players is going to build on what they did this year and go on to even greater things.

Sunday was relatively quiet, but Sunday was a typically busy day. There was church in the morning, and then in early afternoon we went to get our Halloween from another nearby church where we buy them every year. However, when we arrived, they were sold out of everything that couldn't be classified as a decorative gourd, so we let Will pick a couple of those out before we went in search of another pumpkin patch.

When we went to pay, however, there were two gorgeous pumpkins sitting next to the cash register—floor models, if you will—and the people manning the register offered to sell those to us. Done and done—they were a little bigger and more expensive than we would have normally purchased, but it saved us at least an hour of time (and possibly more—it seemed like a lot of local places had run out).

Later in the afternoon we went to Emory Village for a festival, and it was brutally cold for Atlanta (high 20s/low 30s), especially given that it was in the 70s only a few days ago. Will had a good time playing with a giant chess set, doing a climbing wall, and getting candy from a trunk or treat event that was taking place in the parking lot of one of Will's favorite pizza places.

We walked from there to our Cub Scout den meeting, where they boys painted American flags that will be given as gifts to veterans at the VA hospital who are under long term care. It was a little crazy, and the scout hut where we did the projects wasn't any warmer than the outside, but at least there was no wind. We were there for a little over an hour, and Will ended up painting two canvases.

After that we went for dinner in Emory Village, and Will lobbied hard for his new favorite restaurant, a Japanese place called Wagaya. It was fine by me—I got a hot and spicy ramen soup (so did Julie) and Will got his favorite miso soup and a spicy sushi roll. It's nice not having to do a burger or grilled cheese place every time we go out to eat—he's more adventurous an eater at age 7 than I was at age 22.

Will's costume choice this year: a Pac Man board. I have no idea how he got this in his head, because he's probably only seen or played classic Pac Man two or three times in his life, but he was pretty insistent. He and Julie made it together by outlining the board and the dots on a black shirt using glow in the dark fabric tape, and then adding the ghosts and Pac Man. It turned out pretty well, and it should be very walkable compared to some of his previous costumes.

My sister and brother in law are coming over to trick or treat with him as they have for the past couple of years, and they're also bringing the family that came with us to the North Georgia State Fair and the corn maze earlier this fall. They have a girl named Emily who is Will's age, and they really like hanging out, so that should make the night even more fun for Will.

It's funny—Will loves going trick or treating and collecting a huge bucket of candy, like most kids, but he's mostly indifferent to the candy itself. He'll maybe want to have a couple of pieces that night, and he'll ask for one every now and then in the couple of weeks after Halloween, but for the most part, he's much more into the collection process than the actual sweets.

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