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4.18.16
So: Batman v Superman. This was not a good movie, as you have no doubt surmised from either the critical lambasting it's received or because you've seen it yourself, but it wasn't nearly as bad as the critics had led me to believe. I actually liked it better than Zack Snyder's solo Superman movie, and while it was nowhere near either Tim Burton's or Christopher Nolan's conception of the Batman universe, it was definitely better than the two post-Burton films made by Joel Schumacher.

There were plenty of awkward, painful moments, however, and Snyder so freely resculpted the DC universe to suit his purposes that it was clear that he decided on the plot first and worried about how to fit it into the canon later. There were also a lot of dream sequences that you weren't sure we're actually dream sequences, which were introduced and dismissed with little to no explanation. The worst thing to sit through was a laugh-out-loud interaction between the two title characters centered around the name "Martha" that was crucial for moving the plot forward—which underscores how ridiculous it is to call these loosely-strung-together setpieces a plot at all.

And as many critics have noted, there was a lot of time spent setting up future single-character spinoffs that had no bearing on the actual plot of this film—we got glimpses of Aquaman (set up as a Poseidon-like figure) and the Flash, along with a hefty does of Wonder Woman, who stole the show simply because the two title characters were so leaden that they almost made you eager for Jesse Eisenberg's Lex Luthor and his sputtering, nonsensical overacting (but don't get me wrong: Eisenberg was pretty awful too).

But in the end, this film was pretty much exactly what you would have expected: Ben Affleck was being Ben Affleck, Zack Snyder created the same kind of film he's always created, Jesse Eisenberg was being his usual chatterbug self, and whoever that guy who plays Superman is was being just as empty and boring as he was in his solo movie. So yes, that's a terrible concoction, but it wasn't the unanticipated world-ended that the critics seem to think it is.


4.15.16
On Tuesday morning I drove Julie and Will to the airport and then became a bachelor for a few days with very few responsibilities: show up for my scheduled meetings at work (about half a day's worth on both Tuesday and Wednesday), don't let the house burn down, and don't let the cats die. Otherwise, since I was taking vacation that week, I was free to do as I pleased.

And I didn't do much. There was more work email I couldn't ignore than I was hoping for, but I was pretty much able to take Thursday off, and I only had a couple of small issues to handle on Friday. I actually left the house every day except Friday, and I didn't get takeout once, instead finishing off leftovers and making food at home.

Tuesday night was beers with my friend Steve at Thinking Man (I see him every couple of weeks, and we've hit up Mac Magee (my go-to for Decatur pubs), Steinbeck's, and now Thinking Man, and they're all pretty good, but Thinking Man's fried dill pickle slices with cayenne seasoning stood out as a great little bar snack) where for once neither of us had to get home especially early, so we ended up staying out until 11:30.

On Wednesday I met my friend Jeff for a movie after his business school classes ended. We saw Batman v Superman (more about that later) because we both knew we were going to see it even though we both expected it to be terrible. I actually don't remember what I did on Thursday that took me out of the house, but I'm absolutely positive that I ran some errands or something. But that's how untethered I was—no one really cared where I was or what I was doing, and I didn't have anywhere specific to be.

That's nice for a short stretch, especially for someone like me who needs some moments of solitude each day, but by the time I picked up Julie and Will from the airport on Saturday, I was very ready for them to be home. They had a good trip visiting Julie's mom, I had a good few days of ignoring work and not really having any other responsibilties, and we still had a couple of days to have a normal weekend together before work started back up.


4.14.16
Again, Monday was a really good day, but it could have been an all-time great day if the two sporting events I watched had turned out slightly differently. They were both nail-biters, but neither of them ended with the team I was rooting for winning.

First was the Braves game, where the Braves took a 3-2 lead into the ninth inning after scoring a run in the eighth on a bases-loaded walk. They brought out their closer, who promptly proceeded to load the bases himself, and then very nearly got out of it.

The first out came on a strikeout, out number two came on a shallow hit to left field, and what should have been out number three happened when the left fielder threw to home and easily beat the runner coming from third. The problem was that the catcher dropped the ball when the runner knocked into him, so instead of getting the third out and ending the game, it tied the game and sent it to extra innings. And of course in the tenth, the Nationals scored another run for which the Braves had no answer, ending in a 4-3 loss. Very exciting, but very disappointing.

Later that evening I watched UNC play for the national championship against Villanova. In my March Madness brackets I'm always a sucker for UNC and the ACC in general (except for Duike, which I always knock out in the first or second round because 1) it's fun and 2) it's even funnier in the years when they blow it and actually do get knocked out early, which seems to happen every five years or so), so in years like this when ACC teams go farther than expected and UNC stays in it until at least the Final Four, I do pretty well (in fact, I had already won the office contest no matter whether UNC won or not, since I had the most points and the only other person who had a team in the final two also had UNC as the winner).

That was a hard fought game, and both teams played with a lot of heart and both clearly deserved to be there, and it's no surprise at all that the last team to have the ball sunk a last second shot for the win. It's just disappointing that after Marcus Paige's amazing shot that left only 4.7 seconds on the clock that they couldn't play defense well enough to keep Villanova from getting the ball to one of their outside shooters and letting him have a clean look (I mean, couldn't they have fouled at and least guaranteed a tie?).

If the Braves catcher had held onto that ball and Atlanta had won in dramatic fashion in the last Opening Day at Turner Field (they move to a new stadium outside the Perimeter next season), and if UNC had won the championship on the back of that final shot from Paige, it would have been a truly epic day in sports fandom for me, and the fact that it could have happened on my birthday would have made those wins all the more special. But alas, it was not to be.


4.13.16
Monday, my actual birthday, was a pretty awesome day. When I woke up, Will gave me a bowl he made at one of those paint your own pottery shops that's nearby, an echo of the one he gave me last year for my birthday. Then we left the house around 1:30 for a surprise that turned out to be club level seats for the Braves home opener, the last Opening Day game that will be played in Turner Field.

When we've gone to Braves games before, Will has only lasted until about the sixth inning, even if we didn't get there until after the game started, but we got there in time to see the tail end of batting practice that day, Will lasted all the way until the ninth. We walked around a lot before the game started, and getting a lot of snacks certainly helped keep him distracted, but he actually sat through most of the game and was even paying attention to the plays occasionally (I wonder if going to the Emory softball games and getting to be a bat boy has made him more interested in the sport).

That boy has an amazing memory—he was probably only three the last time we were at the stadium, and he still remembered - and led us to—a screen mounted on a wall on the far side of the stadium in the upper deck that looked like a giant smartphone. I had no memory of what he was talking about, and it was the only one in the stadium, and yet he remembered exactly where it was and was able to walk us to it.

Will was beat by the time we left, but even though it was spring break that week, we had to get him to bed early because he and Julie were flying out the next morning to go visit her mother. He napped in the car on the way home, woke up long enough to have birthday cupcakes when we got home, and then crashed despite the excitement of his impending trip (he loves flying to see Julie's mother because they don't have direct flights, so he gets to fly on TWO planes for both the trip to grandma's and the return trip).


4.12.16
Saturday was relatively quiet, which was just what I wanted—it had been a busy and stressful couple of weeks leading up to the release of our Regular Decision admission population, and I just needed to decompress and not do any work.

Sunday, though, was pretty active. On Sunday around lunch we went to the Festival on Ponce, an annual arts festival in a local park that also has rides and activities for kids. We ran into one of Julie's coworkers who also lives in our neighborhood and spent some time hanging out with them (Will of course got on very well with their oldest child). We tagged team looking at the art and watching Will, and then visited our favorite artists on the way out to see what we might want to buy. We ended up with the following:











The big squid-flippers-skeleton thing might be a good match for some other folk art I have—I little rectangular painting on a block of wood featuring aliens and flying saucers, and two other little paintings of an astronaut and a monkey. The bird print I'd like to match with two other bird-themed pieces we got when we moved to Atlanta, and the bug prints will go with some displays of actual bugs we got at a charity auction a couple of years ago.

Later Sunday afternoon, we met up with my sister, her husband, my cousin, and her wife at one of our favorite Atlanta restaurants, Holy Taco (which was actually the first real restaurant I ate at on my first recruiting trip to Atlanta) to celebrate my birthday with family. This same group had gotten together back in February for lunch and to see my cousin's recently refurbished house, and it was great to see them all again. Plus, it was just warm enough to sit outside—an early sign of the coming spring and the return to warm weather. Margaritas, mexican street corn, and chips with queso made it a great night, and a really fun way to celebrate my birthday with more than just our nuclear family unit.


4.11.16
I didn't really take a whole week off—although I tried as hard as I could, I did at least a couple of hours of work every day the first week of April except for Monday (which was my birthday). We usually don't do much for birthdays—a nice dinner out, sometimes a special activity of some sort—but this year Julie went all out—the whole long weekend was like one extended celebration.

We started on Friday night with Julie surprising me with a grown up dinner (Shellie came over and did Will with movie night—he made her watch Hop, a movie about the Easter Bunny that he'd been obsessed with for the prior two weeks). We're still looking for a truly remarkable upscale restaurant in Atlanta, and this time we tried Bacchanalia (which, in order to get a spot at 8 on a Friday night, Julie had to make reservations for back in January). It's regularly listed as one of the best (and often THE best) restaurant in Atlanta, and it was definitely our favorite from the ones we've tried so far.

They have a four course prix fixe menu where you select a starter, a main course, a cheese course, and a dessert, with suggested wine pairings (at additional cost) for each course except for the cheese course (and yes, there were suggested pairings for dessert). We started with six raw oysters (also an additional cost), and then I selected potatoes and caviar for my starter, NY strip for my main course, a bleu cheese for my cheese course, and cheesecake for my dessert.

The potatoes and caviar was probably the most interesting thing I had—it was potatoes whipped with a generous portion of butter until the texture was almost like a dense whipped cream over a bed of caviar, which provided a nice salty bite together with the potatoes. My NY strip was very good, as was the cheese course, which was the second most interesting dish—the bleu cheese had been transformed through some sort of molecular gastronomy process into a fine powder, which was then minced with a small salad of baby asparagus. I finished with the cheesecake and coffee—a pretty standard dessert for me, but this one was very good.

I'm still not sure if it quite measures up to our all-time favorite, Volt (Bryan Voltaggio's restaurant in Frederick, MD), but it came pretty close. Next time I might be a little more adventurous in my selections (NY strip is safe but there's not a whole lot you can do to transform it in a really unique way) and see if that makes a difference - at Volt I always tried to pick the most interesting or unusual selection, and that certainly introduced me to some dishes that I wouldn't have experienced otherwise.


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