Saturday, December 8, 2018

Recap For December 3 - December 8 2018

The first semester is winding down at the day job. Midterms are next week. Today was our Saturday makeup day, upper school holiday concert, and staff Christmas party. Work on a Saturday is always a bit exhausting, but the holiday concert and the party were fun. We also saw our first snow of the year yesterday and today!

Tomorrow, we're off on a day trip to Suzhou for Christmas shopping and sightseeing, then one more week of school before vacation!

It's been a busy week, but I have gotten some reviews done.

Comic Reviews on Comic A Day

Amulet Book Seven: Firelight by Kazu Kibuishi.

Tall Tails: Thieves' Quest #5 by Jose Calderon and Daphne Lage of Dreamweaver Press.

Book Reviews on Goodreads

Valiant Imperial Warriors 2200 Years Ago by Wu Xiaocong.


My cousin does a toy drive every year for the Ronald McDonald House in Maryland. I contributed to the toy drive, which is finishing up for the year, but you can contribute directly here.


Suzhou day trip tomorrow. Leaving for the USA a week from Wednesday. I'll probably also be doing some exploring around Shanghai this coming weekend once vacation starts. And we've got WWE TLC coming up (in our timezone) a week from Monday morning.


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Sunday, December 2, 2018

Recap For November 18 - December 2 2018

Two big bits of news!

First of all, the Kiddo won first place for his grade in the science fair!
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The other news is that I signed my contract renewal at the day job. That means that we will be here in Shanghai through the 2020-2021 school year! I really appreciate the vote of confidence from my school, and while it was not an easy decision from our point of view, we are excited for the chance to continue our experience living in China.
The rest of that week was devoted to Thanksgiving. School festivities included a potluck feast on Wednesday for the lower school, and then turkey and pumpkin pie in the Cafeteria on Thursday for everyone. That night was our family Thanksgiving celebration with roast chicken and veggies, followed by Christmas music and decorating the Christmas tree. 
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On Friday (the school's official Thanksgiving holiday) I took the Kiddo to Shanghai Disneyland to meet up with some classmates. We had a great time, and relatively short lines for rides.

We have also done some various Christmas shopping expeditions in town, and the Kiddo and I played in two Magic: The Gathering drafts over the past few days. I went 6-0 in games in an Unstable draft!

We started yesterday with Breakfast With Santa at the Geneva restaurant, which was lovely, even if it did cause me to lose "Whamageddon" on the first day of December (in China! It wasn't even December in much of the USA at that time!).

Speaking of losing, I fell well short on Nanowrimo, as I figured I probably would with everything else going on.

And I have been doing some reading and reviewing.

Comic Reviews on Comic A Day

Satisfactory Comics #8 by Isaac Cates and Mike Wenthe.

Amulet Book Six: Escape From Lucien by Kazu Kibuishi.

Dog Man: Lord of the Fleas by Dav Pilkey.

Ultimate Spider-Man #52 from Marvel Comics.

Book Reviews on Goodreads

The Adventures of Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra.

The Story of Mount Desert Island by Samuel Eliot Morison.


Supporting Massachusetts Audubon Society for Giving Tuesday. I gave to the sanctuary (Ashumet Holly) where Gynn used to do fieldwork on spadefoot toads.


It looks like we're doing our day trip to Suzhou next Sunday. On Saturday we have a makeup school day followed by the upper school's holiday concert and then the staff Christmas party. So this will be a busy week. Kiddo's lower school concert is on Wednesday.

The following week is exams, and then we're on break. We'll watch WWE TLC here in Shanghai, and I may do one more shopping day in Qibao or elsewhere in the city before we depart for the USA on Wednesday December 19.


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Saturday, November 17, 2018

Recap For November 12-17 2018

We're halfway through the science fair at my school. We did the high school and middle school version yesterday. The elementary school kids get their turn this week, including our Kiddo, who finished his project on salinity of local rivers on Friday.

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Also this week are a bunch of Thanksgiving festivities: An "Authors Tea" where the elementary school kids read their creative writing, a potluck Thanksgiving on Wednesday for lower school kids and parents, and then turkey and pumpkin pie for school lunch on Thursday. We get a day off on Friday, and we'll have a simple Thanksgiving dinner at home Thursday night and put up the Christmas tree.

I headed back to Qibao today for a bit of exploring and some Christmas shopping. I found this in a souvenir shop and had to buy it:

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 I've got in between all of that, I've continued to make my way through the Random Stack of Unread Comics.

Comic Reviews on Comic A Day

Tall Tails: Thieves' Quest #4 by Jose Calderon and Daphne Lage of Vision Comics.

Star Wars Adventures #1 from IDW.

Amulet Book Five: Prince of the Elves by Kazu Kibuishi.


I'm supporting comic book writer Mark Waid's legal defense against Comicsgate trolls.


Looking forward to watching NXT Takeover Wargames tomorrow, and then Survivor Series.

Possibly playing in a Magic: The Gathering Unstable draft next weekend.

Four weeks to go until Christmas break, with exams and holiday concerts on the horizon.

We've also got a day trip to Suzhou planned in early December.

Then it's off to the USA for two weeks around the holidays!

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Tuesday, November 13, 2018

RIP Stan Lee

When I think of Stan Lee, I hear his voice from the pages of Marvel's original "best of" compilations, produced in the 1970s, long before I'd ever heard the words "Graphic Novel" or "Trade Paperback". My brother and I had the whole set: Origins of Marvel Comics, Son of Origins, The Superhero Women, Bring on the Bad Guys, and our favorite: Marvel's Greatest Superhero Battles.

Image result for marvels greatest superhero battles

We got a great introduction to the classic superhero stories of the 1960s in the pages of those books, but for me, there was more than just the comics. I would read all of Stan Lee's introductory essays, discussing the behind-the-scenes origins of the characters. How it seemed obvious that the team-name for a team of mutants should be "The Mutants", until his editors worried that kids wouldn't know what that word meant, leading to a session of brainstorming that resulted in the X-Men. How when thinking about how every superhero had a list of special abilities and one weakness, he thought of the idea of putting the focus on the weakness, and came up with the concept of a blind superhero. How superhero characters were becoming so powerful that you may as well make God a superhero. But if you couldn't get away with that, then how about a superhero who is a god?

There was a lot of history there, admittedly clouded by Stan's ego, as I would see later in life that he enjoyed being the voice of Marvel, and that he wasn't always about sharing the credit.

But what his words between the comic pages in those books meant most to me was that here was a man who was creating stories, writing fantastic adventures, and he was making a living doing it, and having fun making a living.

Thank you for all of the stories. The stories within the comics, and the stories between.

Rest in peace.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Recap For November 4-11 2018

Appreciative of the military service of my Dad and both of my Grandfathers on Veterans Day.

We just finished a short week at school, and today is the first of two makeup days after the unexpected school closure due to the China International Imports Expo and President Xi Jinping's visit to my neighborhood. The closest I got to the expo was seeing some of the attendees heading to dinner at Paradise Walk Mall, and walking through a display on international businesses in China that was set up on the mall's ground floor. Today is a work-from-home makeup day for students and teachers, and it has gone smoothly so far. We do a Saturday school day in early December to make up the other missed day.

It was also progress reports time at the day job, so things were busy during the three-day week. And next week is another busy week, with science fair happening.

I was generally happy with the election results in the US, especially Question #3 passing in Boston to reaffirm transgender civil rights. Frustrated that this was even put to a vote, but relieved at the results.

We went back to Minhang Sports Park yesterday for a nice walk, and then had a quick stroll through Qibao Old Street. I also headed in to Pudong for a bit of exploring and picture-taking, although the park really supplied the best photo opportunities of the day.

I've seen the first few store Christmas decorations of the season. China does decorate for Christmas a bit, but they mostly wait until December. Which I really like better anyway.

One thing I forgot to mention last week: The book Jedi Academy, which I finished and reviewed the week before last, was the 70th book I read in 2018, which was my reading goal for the year. You can see the full list here. I'm going to push for more. Still have about 150 pages to go on 900+ pages of Don Quixote!

I've got some words written on Nanowrimo, but I'm nowhere near quota, which is okay. I'm not pushing it this year.

And I've also managed to do some comic reviews.

Comic Reviews on Comic A Day

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story #6 from Marvel Comics.

Tall Tails: Thieves' Quest #1 by Jose Calderon and Daphne Lage of Vision Comics.

Amulet Book 4: The Last Council by Kazu Kibuishi.

Happy Valentines Day #1, edited by Jim Main of Main Enterprises.

Swamp Thing #43 from DC Comics.

Laird MacGuffin's Treasury by E.J. Barnes.

I'm supporting comic book writer Mark Waid's legal defense against Comicsgate trolls.


Science fair next week at the day job.

It's looking like I'll be heading to Shanghai Disneyland with the Kiddo on our Thanksgiving Friday holiday in two weeks. There's also a possible Magic tourney happening that weekend that I might be playing in.

Looking forward to WWE Survivor Series coming up in a couple weeks, and then TLC in December before things quiet down somewhat until Royal Rumble.

We're looking at a day trip to Suzhou at the beginning of December and maybe some other touristy stuff in the Shanghai area between now and the holidays.

Then we're heading to the USA (staying in New Hampshire and Massachusetts) from December 19 to January 2. Looking forward to coming home for the holidays!

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Friday, November 2, 2018

Recap For October 29 - November 3 2018

After all of the vaguebooking about upcoming travel plans, I can now announce: We're traveling to the US for our winter break! This will be our first time coming home for the holiday season in over five years! Looking forward to a nice New England Christmas with friends and family!

This week was Halloween, which is a big event at my school. The Kiddo became a two-time champion, winning the "Most Original" prize for his reptilian politician costume! (He won "Best Makeup" last year as WWE's Finn Balor/The Demon).

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In other news, I do a set of daily goals for writing, language practice, diet and exercise, and blogging. I set a reward goal for 50 points for a week, which is pretty hard to achieve. I started the points system at the beginning of the school year, and the week before last was my first 50-point week. So last night I headed into town to a geeky mall near People's Square that I'd heard about and rewarded myself with some Magic: The Gathering purchases.

I really enjoyed WWE Evolution. Great show! I will not be watching Crown Jewel.

It is now into November, and I have not started Nanowrimo, although I am planning to participate. This year my plan is to write the second draft of The Lady of Three Faces, which was my Nano project last year until I tripped and broke two fingers a few days into last November. I'm not going to sweat wordcount this year, but hopefully Nano season will give me some motivation to make some writing happen.

In the meantime, I've written a couple of reviews.

Comic Reviews on Comic A Day

Star Wars: Jedi Academy by Jeffrey Brown.

Amulet Book 3: The Cloud Searchers by Kazu Kibuishi


Science fair is happening in a couple of weeks. Kiddo has been working on evaporating his water samples to measure salinity.

I may be going to Disney Shanghai with the Kiddo for a classmate's birthday party around Thanksgiving. We're also looking at a possible day trip to a nearby city on that weekend on one of the non-Disney days. Actual Thanksgiving festivities will probably be low-key. Maybe a baked chicken with potatoes and veggies and a bottle of wine on Thursday night. We get Friday off for Thanksgiving, but not Thursday. The school usually serves turkey and pumpkin pie for school lunch that day.

Busy season in WWE is beginning to wind down. Survivor Series and NXT Wargames in a few weeks, and then TLC, which will also include the finals of Mixed Match Challenge. I haven't heard any plans for Tribute to the Troops, but that usually occurs around this time of year too. They're also doing a Starcade show, but last year's was not televised. Not sure if there are any plans to put this one on WWE Network.

I bought some Magic cards, but the timing of events over the next few weeks doesn't work well for me. Hopefully I can get into at least one or two more drafts here in Shanghai before we leave for our trip to the US. I'll try to get to a couple of events in the US when we're there.

As mentioned above, we're going to the US for Christmas. We'll be in New Hampshire for most of our visit, with some time spent on Cape Cod and in Boston. Very excited about that trip.

As a result of the splurge on the Christmas trip home, we'll probably be spending Chinese New Year here in Shanghai. We have some general ideas for travel plans looking further ahead, and some major decisions to make about long term plans. I'll tell more when we know more.


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Saturday, October 27, 2018

Recap For October 22-28 2018

The Halloween season has arrived! We went to a Halloween event at Laowai Jei, a pedestrian street of restaurants and bars catering to expats (the name literally means "foreigner street"). They had crafts, musical performances, a haunted house, candy for kids, and a costume parade. The Kiddo wore some zombie makeup and a skeleton hoodie. We had dinner a a Greek restaurant with outdoor seating, and a rather persistent cat begging for scraps. Food was delicious (says us and the cat!). After dinner, we parted ways and I took a solo trip in town to walk the Bund. Lovely night for it!

Plans for upcoming travel continue to be in a state of flux as I wait for (among other things) my passport renewal. Work has been busy. Not much writing happening right now. Nanowrimo might change that. I'm like 600 pages into Don Quixote (over 300 to go!), so I haven't been posting much in the way of book reviews. I have been doing well with comic reviews, though.

Comic Reviews on Comic A Day

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Issue 2, Issue 3, and Issue 4 from Marvel Comics.

Psycho Bunny #3 by Michele Mitchipoo.

Neil Jam #15 by Neil Fitzpatrick.


In light of the recent revelations about the Arisia Convention, and even though I had not been able to go this year, I have decided to donate the cost of a membership at Arisia to the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center. I will be watching to see what further changes Arisia makes when I consider whether to attend in the future.


Busy time at WWE continues. Evolution tomorrow. Continuing Mixed Match Challenge. Survivor Series and Takeover: War Games next month, then TLC. I have decided that I won't watch Crown Jewel.

Travel plans, as mentioned, are on hold right now, but we hope to have news soon!

I missed a Magic tournament today, and the next draft is November 24 which we also might not be around for.  Hope to get some drafting in soon!

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Sunday, October 21, 2018

Recap For October 14-21 2018

The first quarter of the school year is in the books! I'm having a bit of a recovery weekend as we move into the second quarter. Things to look forward to: Book fair, Halloween festivities, science fair, and two long weekends. One of those is an unexpected one. Schools in the area are being closed for two days during the International Import Expo, a gigantic trade show happening right in our neighborhood that will include a visit by President Xi Jinping. So we get two days off for that in early November, but we'll be in school for a makeup day on a Saturday in December. We also get a regularly scheduled holiday on Black Friday, which serves as our official Thanksgiving holiday. On Thanksgiving day we have a normal school day, but the students get turkey and pumpkin pie for school lunch.

Our Christmas travel plans are... in flux right now. We're considering a major change in plans, but my passport is currently in for renewal, so we're waiting a couple of weeks before making any real decisions.

In the meantime, I'm one book away from my goal of reading 70 books in 2018! I'm also making decent progress on the Random Stack of Unread Comics. Here are my latest reviews:

Comic Reviews on Comic A Day

Marvel Legacy #1 from Marvel Comics.

Wulflorne: Elegy For Innocence: The Coldest Winter from Modsprocket.

Neil Jam #14 by Neil Fitzpatrick.

I also wrote an entry on a wedding invitation minicomic that I somehow ended up with.


I am supporting Ari Rivera with help getting out of financial difficulties and and abusive situation.

On Kickstarter, I'm backing two comic projects:  Rival Angels Series 3 Season Finale by Alan Evans, and Circadia by Jenn Dugan. Both of these are funded with a bit more than a week left to go.


There is a new Wechat group organizing sealed and draft Magic: The Gathering here in Shanghai, so I'm looking forward to getting in a bit more gaming in the coming weeks. Also looking forward to the continuing busy WWE season as we get Evolution, Mae Young Classic, NXT Takeover, and Survivor Series coming soon. I got to see the first episode of NXT UK, so I'll be following that as well to see how it develops.

As mentioned above, travel plans are very much up in the air right now. There is a possibility of one or two short trips to nearby cities on those upcoming long weekends. Hope to have an update on Christmas plans soon!

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Saturday, October 13, 2018

Recap For October 7 To October 13 2018

The week started with the Kiddo and I exploring Minhang Sports Park, which is a short bus ride from where we live in Shanghai. Unfortunately, between a 24-hour stomach bug that started on Monday, and a "crunch-time" week at the day job, it was not a good week for my creative side.

I did finally get to play in a Guilds of Ravnica draft today (Kiddo played too! His second Magic: The Gathering draft!). And I also did manage to read a few books/comics this week.

Here are my recent reviews:

Comic Reviews on Comic A Day

Goodbye Kitty: A minicomic by Ryan Dow

The Amazing Spider-Man #1: Behind the Scenes Edition by Marvel Comics.

Watch the Skies V. 8.10 by Camp Hill/Harrisburg Scifi & Fantasy Reading Group.

Batman and Robin #1 from DC Comics.
Amulet Biook 1: The stonekeeper.Kazu Kibuishi.


I'm backing Alan Evans' awesome pro wrestling comic, Rival Angels, on Kickstarter, as it heads to its grand finale.


We've started discussing destinations for trips on Thanksgiving break and Christmas break. Right now, what we're considering is back to Suzhou in Novemeber and Guilin in December, but that is still very much up in the air. We're still in a busy WWE month, with Evolution as the next ppv on the horizon.

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Hope everyone has a great week

Friday, October 5, 2018

Recap For September 24 - October 6 2018

We just got back from an amazing trip to Xi'an, China. We stayed at a youth hostel in the Muslim Quarter, saw the Terracotta Warriors and the Xi'an Great Mosque, and the Kiddo and I rode a tandem bike around the city wall. We also ate lots of delicious street food in the Muslim Quarter. Xi'an has immediately jumped to the top of my list of great cities for street food.

We're now in the last couple of days of Fall Break, catching up on homework and resting. School starts back up on Monday.

Here are my recent reviews:

Book Reviews on Goodreads

Tigers at Twilight from Mary Pope Osborne's Magic Tree House series.

Junie B.: First Grader: Aloha-Ha-Ha by Barbara Park

Comic Reviews on Comic A Day

The Amazing Spider-Man #800 from Marvel Comics.

Tree Rats! Or, the Crepuscular Hobbyhorse by EJ Barnes.

Captain Spectacular #2 from Gumshoe Comics.

Amulet Book 2: The Stonekeeper's Curse by Kazu Kibuishi.

Explorer: The Lost Islands, edited by Kazu Kibuishi.


I'm supporting Michael and Brooke Freeman's trip to help schools in South Africa and Zimbabwe.


We're into October, and my school does Halloween in a big way. Decorations should be up when we return to school. We're working on getting a costume together for the Kiddo.

My school gets one day off for Thanksgiving (the Friday, so we get a long weekend), and we're considering a short trip to one of the nearby cities. We're also looking into travel destinations within China for Christmas break.

I missed the Guilds of Ravnica prerelease completely with our trip to Xi'an. I'm hoping to catch a draft or two in the coming weeks. D&D has been on hold since June but there has been some talk of starting it back up again.

Looking forward to lots of WWE action in the coming weeks with a packed schedule including Super Showdown, Evolution, Crown Jewel, Takeover: Wargames, and Survivor Series, plus the ongoing Mae Young Classic and Mixed Match Challenge.

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Hope everyone has a great week!

[WWE] How I Would Book WWE Evolution

WWE's women's PPV has been unfortunately suffering from an overcrowded schedule of events, and is not getting the kind of build-up that an event of such an historic nature deserves. I've also been less than thrilled with a couple of the announced and rumored matches. So, of course, that means it's time for fantasy booking!

Here is how I would run the show.

A couple of notes: I'm assuming that current roster injuries are minor enough that those superstars will be available for the show. I'm trying to do that without calling in any extremely unlikely surprises (so no AJ Lee or Gail Kim or Kharma), and sticking to returning legends that appeared either at the Royal Rumble or in the Mae Young Classic (so no Alundra Blayze). I also have not read any Mae Young Classic spoilers, so my predictions there could be way off. Obviously, there are a lot of potential finalists still in the field.

Matches are presented in the order they would appear on the show.

WWE Women's Tag Team Championship Tournament Semifinals
The Bella Twins vs. Bayley and Sasha Banks

Setup: Eight teams entered a single-elimination tourney for the newly established WWE Womens Tag Team Championship. The first-round matches were held the previous week on Raw and Smackdown. This match comes from the Raw side of things. The Bellas defeated the Riott Squad to get here, while Bayley and Sasha managed a hard-fought win of the team of Nia Jax and Ember Moon.

Result: In spite of the Bellas flaunting their advantage in "being on the same page" over the sometimes-frenemies, it's Bayley and Sasha who are able to take Nikki out of the equation while Sasha taps Brie out to the Banks Statement.

NXT UK Women's Championship Match
Rhea Ripley (champion) vs. Killer Kelly

Setup: Honestly, I put this together basically because Killer Kelly has impressed me in the two matches I've seen her in. She's got a great look/attitude, and this should be a solid bout to put over the newly-crowned NXT UK champion.

Result: After a hard-fought match, Rhea hits Riptide on Killer Kelly for the win.

WWE Women's Tag Team Championship Tournament Semifinals
The Iiconics vs. Trish Stratus and Lita

Setup: Obviously, this is one of the places I differ with WWE on use of some of the talent. As much as Trish vs. Bliss will hopefully be a great match, I feel like there is more nostalgic fun to be had teaming Trish and Lita up in a run for the new tag team belts. They were a surprise entry on the Smackdown side of things and scored a decisive win over the team of Sonya DeVille and Mandy Rose. Peyton Royce and Billie Kaye arrived here with a surprise victory over Naomi and Asuka (this is currently scheduled for Super Showdown; it could still happen there, just in my booking it would be a tournament match).

Result: Twist of Fate. Chick Kick. Litasault.

Nia Jax vs. Beth Phoenix

Setup: Given the reception these two had for just a staredown and a brief exchange at the Royal Rumble, I'm shocked that this match isn't already booked for Evolution.

Result: Back-and-forth contest that ends with Beth putting Nia over via the Samoan Drop.

NXT Women's Championship Match
Kairi Sane (champion) vs. Shayna Baszler

Setup: The one match where I wouldn't change the setup a bit.

Result: Similar to their previous matches, Shayna is dominant to start, leading to a comeback by a fired-up Kairi. Kairi has locked in her Anchor submission when Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir hit the ring and attack Kairi causing the DQ. Baszler, Duke, and Shafir beat Kairi down viciously, resulting in her being taken out on a stretcher.

Asuka vs. Meiko Satomura

Setup: Asuka, having lost in the first round of the tag tournament, demands competition. Paige, channeling her best William Regal, assures Asuka that she has searched the world for a suitable opponent for Asuka at Evolution, revealing "The Final Boss", Meiko Satomura.

Result: In a potentially show-stealing match, Asuka gets the victory with the Asukalock, and is propelled back into title contention.

30-Woman Past vs. Present vs. Future Battle Royale
(Winner receives the #30 entry into the 2019 Women's Royal Rumble)


Raw: Ruby Riott, Liv Morgan, Sarah Logan, Natalya, Alicia Foxx
Smackdown: Lana, Carmella, Sonya DeVille, Mandy Rose, Naomi
NXT: Lacy Evans, Nikki Cross, Bianca Belair, Candice LeRae, Deonna Purrazo
NXT UK: Dakota Kai, Isla Dawn, Xia Brookside, Jinny, Kavita Devi
Mae Young Classic: Mia Yim, Kacy Catanzaro, Mercedes Martinez, Kaitlyn, Lacy Lane
Legends: Molly Holly, Kelly Kelly, Michelle McCool, Jaquelyn, Layla

Setup: With the promise of over 50 women participating in this PPV, it was obvious that we were getting a battle royale., So let's make it mean something. With no title to put on the line, the #30 Royal Rumble entry makes for a nice prize. I set this up with five women from each active WWE division (I put Kavita Devi into the NXT UK division simply because I haven't seen all of the currently active NXT UK women compete and she seems like a good fit for NXT UK), plus five retired superstars (four of whom were in the 2018 Royal Rumble), and five other 2018 Mae Young Classic participants.

Result: Final four are Riott, Belair, Molly Holly, and Nikki Cross. Belair and Riott team up to eliminate Holly. Cross tosses Riott, but gets caught and powered over the top when she goes for a top-rope splash on Belair. Bianca Belair is your winner and a serious threat to win the Royal Rumble entering from the #30 spot.

Mae Young Classic Finals
Toni Storm vs. Io Shirai

Setup: This looked like the most likely result I could predict from the brackets so far.

Result: Shirai misses with her moonsault and Storm hits Storm-Zero for the win and the trophy, and a future NXT Women's Championship opportunity.

WWE Raw Women's Championship Triple-Threat Match
Ronda Rousey (Champion) vs. Alexa Bliss vs. Ember Moon

Setup: Adding Ember Moon to the mix freshens up the Rousey/Bliss rivalry. Bliss has Mickey James in her corner (sorry, Mickey, this was the best spot I could find for you on the card).

Result: Moon hits the Eclipse on Rousey, but Bliss breaks up the pin. Bliss throws Moon out of the ring and goes for Twisted Bliss, but Rousey catches her in the armbar for the submission victory. Rousey isn't losing her title any time soon, but this sets up a one-on-one rivalry with Moon that will serve nicely to continue Ronda's championship run.

WWE Women's Tag Team Championship Tournament Finals
Bayley and Sasha Banks vs. Trish Stratus and Lita

Setup: See previous semifinal matches.

Result: Lita is going up top for the Litasault when Sasha shakes the ropes, causing her to stumble enough for Bayley to get up for a top-rope Bayley-To-Belly for the victory. Much hugging ensues.

WWE Smackdown Womens Championship 30-Minute Ironman Match
Becky Lynch (Champion) vs. Charlotte Flair

Setup: WWE's philosophy seems to be to go with star power (Nikki Bella and Ronda Rousey). Mine is to put the best rivalry in the women's division, not to mention two of the best wrestlers, in the main-event spotlight. Sticking an ironman match as the eleventh match on the card might be a problem in terms of time, but if that were the case, you could always move the two tag tourney semifinal matches to the pre-show (which would immediately make it one of the best pre-shows in WWE history).

Results: Each wrestler earns a submission with her move of choice, and the match remains knotted at 1-1 as it goes into its final minutes with both wrestlers hitting their opponent with everything they have. In the final seconds, Charlotte has the upper hand, but when she hesitates moment to "Whoo!" to the crowd before locking in the Figure-Eight, Becky rolls her up for the final and deciding fall. Like before, Charlotte offers her hand in sportsmanship and Becky snubs her to head up the ramp with her title.

That's when Shayna Baszler, Marina Shafir, and Jessamyn Duke run in out of the crowd to attack Flair. Bayley and Sasha Banks run down the ramp to help Charlotte, but with Charlotte already beaten down the heels still have the upper hand. Becky watches, conflicted from the ramp, then finally sprints down to join the fight, turning the tide and helping Charlotte, Bayley and Sasha to clear the ring.

Ronda Rousey's music hits, and she comes out to stand alongside her crew as the show ends with the Horsewomen vs. Horsewomen staredown to set up Survivor Series.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Recap for September 15-23

So, I turned 50 yesterday, and spent most of the day... working. My school had its annual Back to School Bash, which is an outdoor carnival of sorts. It's a fun day, but it is a long day of work on a Saturday. After the event, we made our way to Hub Mall and caught Canadian country/rock artist Nicole Rayy and her band playing the World Music Asia Shanghai series which was a lot of fun.

Today we're doing most of the birthday festivities. Heading in town to visit the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum, then eating at an American BBQ restaurant and maybe checking out some more World Music Asia Shanghai musical acts. I do have Monday off, which I'm hoping to spend wandering downtown alone with my camera to finish up the birthday weekend.

Then four days of work and we're on Fall break and traveling again!

Here's what I've read/reviewed this week.

Book Reviews on Goodreads

The 39 Story Treehouse by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton

Tigers at Twilight from Mary Pope Osborne's Magic Tree House series.

Comic Reviews on Comic A Day

The Course by Alex Ferree.

The Amazing Spider-Man #800 from Marvel Comics.


This week I'm supporting this Facebook fundraiser for expenses related to medical issues for my good friends Laura and Aus Cushing.

Looking Ahead

Our next adventure is coming up soon. We depart by train for Xi'an, China on Saturday. We have a street food tour booked, and we're looking forward to seeing the famous Terracotta Army.

Not much planned beyond that. I have to get my passport renewed (I'm out of visa pages! Achievement unlocked!). Once that happens, we'll start making plans for Christmas break, which will probably involve more travel within China, but we are open to any and all possibilities.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Summer Review Recap

Once again, things got busy and I dropped out of the habit of doing these weekly recap blogs.

Here is a quick recap of reviews I wrote over the summer.

We had a great summer trip to the USA, half of our vacation in New Hampshire, and half on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, with a Father/Son Road Trip to Maine. Plenty of summer photos have been posted on Flickr and Instagram.

I also joined Bookcrossing. You can find me here.

And I did a lot of reading and wrote a lot of reviews.

Comic Reviews on Comic A Day

Avengers: Age of Ultron Prelude from Marvel Comics.

Princeless Book 4: Be Yourself #1 from Action Lab Entertainment.

Batwoman #7 from DC Comics.

Doodles Vol. 1 from Kaiser Studio.

Dark Sights from Against Studios.

Lumberjanes Vol. 3: A Terrible Plan from Boom! Studios

Daredevil Noir from Marvel Comics.

Batman '66 Meets Steed and Mrs. Peel #1 from DC Comics and Boom! Studios

The Heavenly Bride Book 2 by Katrina Joyner.

Geraniums and Bacon #5 by Cathy Leamy.

Coelacanthid #5 by Michael Connor.

Robin Red and the Lutins #1 from ACE.

Darth Vader #1 from Marvel Comics.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Volume 1: Squirrel Power from Marvel Comics.

Marvel Fanfare #2 from Marvel Comics.

DC Nation #0 from DC Comics.

Captain Phasma #1 from Marvel Comics.

Metamo Kiss Vol. 1 by Sora Omote.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi #1 from Marvel Comics.

The 13-Story Treehouse by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton

I Kill Giants by Joe Kelly and Ken Niimura from Image Comics.

Eensy Weensy Monster Vol. 1 by Masami Tsuda

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Vol. 2: Squirrel You Know It's True from Marvel Comics

Magic: The Gathering #4 from IDW.

Dog Man by Dav Pilkey.

Dog Man: A Tale of Two Kitties by Dav Pilkey

Axis Powers Hetalia Artbook Artestella Piccolo by Hidekaz Himaruya

Errand of Mercy: The Irish Potato Blight And The Good Ship Jamestown by J.L. Bell and Olivia Li

Warriors: Graystripe's Adventure by
Erin Hunter, Dan Jolley, and James L. Barry.

A Prelude To Penemue by Sara M. Harvey.

Batwoman #6 from DC Comics.

Steal This Presents: The Punchlines by Carlisle Devonish

This is a Sampler! by
Aya Rothwell.

Batwoman #8 from DC Comics.

Rival Angels: Damsels of Destruction: Wrestling Maneuvers And Techniques Volume 1 by Rival Angels

Infinity Countdown: Black Widow #1 from DC Comics.

Red Sonja / Tarzan #1 from Dynamite.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi #3 from Marvel Comics.

Red Sonja / Tarzan #2 from Dynamite.

Steven Universe #17 from Kaboom!.

Action Comics #1000 from DC Comics.

Captain Spectacular #1 from Gumshoe Comics.

Batman: Prelude to the Wedding: Red Hood vs. Anarky #1 from DC Comics.

Book Reviews on Goodreads

Exit, Pursued by a Bear by Greer Gilman.

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan.

Inherit the Wind by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee.

The Fault in our Stars by John Green.

Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator by Roald Dahl.

The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss.

One Morning in Maine by Robert McCloskey.

Roald Dahl's Revolting Rhymes by Roald Dahl.

A Little Book of Campfire Songs by Brian Denington.

How to be a Pirate by Cressida Cowell.

Bozo the Clone by Dan Greenburg.

Alvin Ho: Allergic to the Great Wall, the Forbidden Palace, and Other Tourist Attractions by Lenore Look.

Paul Revere's Ride by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger.

A Glory of Unicorns edited by Bruce Coville.

The Giver by Lois Lowry.

Who Is Stan Lee? by Geoff Edgers.

Feet of Clay by Terry Pratchett.

Shanghai Bund Architecture by Michelle Qiao.

Sarah Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan.

Wild Fairies: Daisy's Decorating Dilemma by Brandi Dougherty.

The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien.

Who Was Rosa Parks? by Yona Zeldis McDonough.

Succeeding With Inquiry in Science and Math Classrooms by Jeff C. Marshall.

Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clarke.

Angels and Demons by Dan Brown.

Bad Gurus: Fiction From a Near Future by Jay O'Connell.

Phineas and Ferb: Wild Surprise by Helena Mayer.


We are heading to Xi'an by train the first week in October. I'm excited for the chance to photograph this historic city.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

[WWE] WWE Shanghai China September 1 2018

Our first live WWE show outside of the US!

Here are the quick results.

Bobby Roode def. Bray Wyatt (rollup)

The B-Team retained via pinfall (rollup on Dash Wilder) in a triple threat match against Titus Worldwide and The Revival. Dana Brooke was not at ringside for Titus Worldwide. This was played mostly as a comedy match.

Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose def. Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre via pinfall (stomp) in a pretty good match.

Bobby Lashley, Finn Balor, and John Cena def. Elias, Baron Corbin, and Jinder Mahal via pinfall. Cena hit the AA on Elias, then followed up with what looked like a stiff forearm for the win. This may have been what he was talking about in a recent interview where he said he was adding a sixth "Move of Doom". Cena then spoke to the crowd for several minutes in what sounded to me (who is a complete beginner at learning the language) like pretty fluent Mandarin. He introduced a group of people seated at ringside who I believe were recent WWE developmental signees from China.


Cedric Alexander retained via pinfall (lumbar check) vs. Drew Gulak

Bayley, Sasha Banks, Natalya, and Ronda Rousey def. Alexa Bliss and the Riott Squad. Rousey submitted Blis with the armbar for the win in a fun match.

Roman Reigns def. Braun Strowman via DQ when Ziggler and McIntyre interferred. Rollins and Ambrose came out to the Shield music to make the save, and they ended up putting McIntyre through a table with the Shield Bomb to send the crowd home happy.

Decent-sized crowd in the Mercedes Benz arena, though not sold out. Biggest pop of the night was for Cena, with Balor a close second. Crowd was mostly behind Strowman in the main event, but cheered the shield during the ending brawl.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Weekly Recap For April 29 - May 5 2018

Happy International Labor Day! Blessed Beltane! May the Fourth be with you! Happy Cinco de Mayo! Lots of interesting celebrations happening this past week.

We watched Greatest Royal Rumble last weekend, but no Infinity War. We've still got another week until it opens in China.

No new reviews this week either. We had a relaxing long weekend for International Labor Day, and then things at the day job got busy as we are really moving toward the finish of the school year now.


I'm supporting artist George Burnett, who is raising funds for relocation expenses.

Looking Ahead

WWE Backlash on Monday. Avengers: Infinity War finally arrives in China next Friday.

Five more weeks in the school year, with lots of school events coming up: Concerts, community service field trips, International Day, exams, prom, graduation. It's an exciting time of the year for my students.

We're fitting in a bit more sightseeing in the Shanghai area, before we head to the US in mid-June. We'll be in New Hampshire for the first couple of weeks there, with a father/son road trip to Maine in the works. I've also got tentative plans to attend the Port Con Maine convention in Portland ME. The rest of our trip home will be spent split between Boston and Cape Cod.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Weekly Recap For April 15-28 2018

The school year is beginning to wind down. Summer plans are starting to fall into place. We have a four-day weekend right now for International Labor Day, and we did a bit of sightseeing today at Qibao Old Street, which is the closest of the several "canal town" historical districts around Shanghai. I had been there previously with the Kiddo, but it was nice to go on a less crowded day (our previous visit was during the Chinese New Year holidays) and to show Gynn around.

This weekend was also WWE's Greatest Royal Rumble event, which we watched last night and today. Lots of spectacle, and some fun moments, but the matches could have been better.

For most of the rest of the world, this weekend is the opening of Avengers: Infinity War, but we have to wait until May 11 in China. (So no spoilers, please!).

I also started playing in the D&D group I was invited to join, and the first session was great. We play again tomorrow. I also attended a Magic: The Gathering Prerelease tourney here in Shanghai. Didn't have much success in terms of wins and losses, but had fun playing the new cards (in Chinese!).

While all of this has been going on, I've posted a few book reviews:

Book Reviews on Goodreads

Jax Starlight Volume 1 by Jenn Nixon. (5*).

The Complete Plays by Christopher Marlowe. (3*).

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany. (4*).

Star Wars: What Makes a Monster? by Adam Bray. (3*).

Trickster's Choice by Tamora Pierce. (4*).


I'm Supporting Daniel Hurd, my wife's cousin, who is riding in the Great Cycle Challenge to raise money for the fight against children's cancer.


In the immediate future: D&D tomorrow, and then two days off, which will be spent reorganizing a bunch of paperwork around the house.

All sorts of end-of-school things are happening in the coming weeks. We're planning on heading for one more visit to one of the canal towns before the school year ends, and we may have some other random sightseeing around Shanghai.

It looks like we will be in Merrimack NH from June 20 to July 8, and then splitting our time between Dedham MA and Cape Cod MA from July 9 to August 2. I'll be taking the Kiddo to Maine for the annual father/son road trip during our time in NH. More specific arrangements should be coming together in the next week or so.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Weekly Recap For March 18 to April14 2018

Another busy couple of weeks.

Kiddo had about five days of birthday festivities, starting with a classroom party celebrating all of the March/April birthdays in his grade, then a movie night with me (Pacific Rim 2: it delivered an acceptable level of giant robot/giant monster mayhem), a party with some friends at Global Harbor Mall, and finally dinner out with parents and birthday presents at home on his actual birthday.

Spring break started at the end of that week, and we were soon on our way to the Kiddo's hometown, Wuxi. We had a nice whirlwind of sightseeing in Wuxi and Suzhou, enjoying lovely hotel buffet breakfasts the whole time.

This week has been back to work, and getting caught up on various small projects. I've been behind on a lot of my "daily goal" kinds of things (including this blog). I did manage to watch pretty much all of the Wrestlemania weekend events, and it looks like I'll be joining a D&D campaign here.

An I had time to do a couple of new reviews:

Comic Reviews on Comic A Day

Dog Man and Cat Kid by Dav Pilkey. (9/10).

Babalon Babes #3 by Michele Witchipoo and Witches Brew Press. (8.5/10).

Book Reviews on Goodreads

Fire and Ice (Warriors #2) by Erin Hunter. (3*).

Dingoes At Dinnertime (Magic Tree House #20) by Mary Pope Osborne. (3*).


I am supporting burlesque performer Morgan Fey's request for funding for medical expenses for her beloved pet rat.


The big news is that we just bought our tickets for our trip home for the summer! We will be arriving in Boston on June 19 and heading back to Shanghai on August 2. As of right now, our plans involve staying in the New England region for the whole visit home. We're looking forward to seeing lots of friends and family, and we're starting to look at things we want to do while we're in the area.

Other things that we are looking forward to: Possible museum expedition with Kiddo and his friend later today. My first game with the new D&D group tomorrow. Also looking forward the release of Magic: The Gathering's Dominaria expansion next weekend (not sure if I'll be able to make it to a prerelease event or not due to work scheduling stuff and the fact that the store I had been playing at in this area closed, but hoping to work something out), and then the release of Infinity War coming up soon after that.

Friday, April 6, 2018

[WWE] Wrestlemania Weekend Predictions by myself and the Kiddo!

Here are the traditional Wrestlemania predictions by me and the Kiddo (age 10), including the rest of the weekend's WWE matches.

Axxess Invitational Tournaments

WWE United Kingdom Championship Invitational

My Pick: Drew Gulak wins tournament. Pete Dunne retains.
Kiddo's Pick: Zack Gibson wins the tournament and the title

NXT North American Championship Invitational

My Pick: Wolfgang wins tournament. Champion retains.
Kiddo's Pick: Hideo Itami wins tournament. Champion retains.

NXT Tag Team Invitational

My Pick: TM61 wins tournament. Champions retain.
Kiddo's Pick: Sanity wins tournament. Champions retain.

NXT Women’s Invitational

My Pick: Candice LeRae wins tournament. Champion retains.
Kiddo's Pick: Nikki Cross wins tournament. Champion retains.

NXT Takeover New Orleans

Undisputed Era (Champions) vs. Authors of Pain vs. Roderick Strong & Pete Dunne (Triple Threat Match for the NXT Tag Team Championships and the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Trophy)

My Pick: Undisputed Era
Kiddo's Pick: Strong & Dunne

Ember Moon (Champion) vs. Shayna Baszler (NXT Womens Championship)

My Pick: Shayna Baszler
Kiddo's Pick: Shayna Baszler

Johnny Gargano vs. Tommaso Ciampa (Unsanctioned Match)

My Pick: Johnny Wrestling
Kiddo's Pick: Johnny Wrestling

Richochet vs. EC3 vs. Lars Sullivan vs. Killian Dain vs. Velveteen Dream vs. Adam Cole (Ladder Match For The NXT North American Championship)

My Pick: EC3
Kiddo's Pick: Lars Sullivan

Andrade "Cien" Almas (Champion) vs. Aleister Black (NXT Championship)

My Pick: Aleister Black
Kiddo's Pick: Aleister Black

Wrestlemania Kickoff Show

Andre the Giant Memorial Mens Battle Royal

My Pick: Big Cass
Kiddo's Pick: Lars Sullivan

Wrestlemania Womens Battle Royale

My Pick: Becky Lynch
Kiddo's Pick: Bayley

Cedric Alexander vs. Mustafa Ali (WWE Cruiserweight Championship)

My Pick: Cedric Alexander
Kiddo's Pick: Mustafa Ali

Wrestlemania Main Card

Seamus & Cesaro (Champions) vs. Braun Strowman and a mystery partner (Raw Tag Team Championships)

My Pick: Braun Strowman & James Ellsworth (no, really!)
Kiddo's Pick: Braun Strowman & Randy Orton

The Usos (Champions) vs. The New Day vs. The Bludgeon Brothers (Triple Threat Match for the SmackDown Tag Team Championships)

My Pick: Bludgeon Brothers
Kiddo's Pick: Bludgeon Brothers

Ronda Rousey & Kurt Angle vs. Triple H & Stephanie McMahon

My Pick: Rousey & Angle
Kiddo's Pick: Rousey & Angle

Shane McMahon & Daniel Bryan vs. Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn

My Pick: Owens & Zayn
Kiddo's Pick: Bryan & McMahon

The Miz (Champion) vs. Finn Balor vs. Seth Rollins (Intercontinental Championship)

My Pick: Miz
Kiddo's Pick: Balor

Randy Orton (Champion) vs. Rusev vs. Bobby Roode vs. Jinder Mahal (Fatal Four-Way Match for the U.S. Championship)

My Pick: Well, since the match is happening on Rusev Day... Gotta go with Rusev!
Kiddo's Pick: Jinder

Charlotte Flair (Champion) vs. Asuka (SmackDown Women's Championship)

My Pick: Asuka
Kiddo's Pick: Asuka

Alexa Bliss (Champion) vs. Nia Jax (Raw Women's Championship)

My Pick: Jax
Kiddo's Pick: Jax

Undertaker vs. John Cena

My Pick: Undertaker
Kiddo's Pick: Cena

AJ Styles (Champion) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (WWE Championship)

My Pick: Nakamura
Kiddo's Pick: Nakamura

Brock Lesnar (Champion) vs. Roman Reigns (Universal Championship)

My Pick: Reigns
Kiddo's Pick: Lesnar