The New Bedroom, Part VI

Apparently a lot has been going on these past few weeks…. A lot of work stuff got in the way of posting more on this subject…. Onward!

As we left off in the last post, Brooke ended up spending a lot of time on the southern wall. There were countless evenings of plastering, then sanding, plastering, then sanding, etc. She did her best to make the wall as smooth as possible, but it was hard to secure the new plaster to the lath on the wall. I don’t think she was completely satisfied with it, but it ultimately looked waaaaay better than it did before.

The other walls around the room still needed some TLC as well, but nowhere near what the south wall did. Brooke spent awhile up on the ladder and down along the floorboards to try and clean up the leftovers from the wallpaper, but ultimately, it needed a bit more. After we started priming, Brooke decided that caulking the corners and the edges would be the best solution, so after I put the first coat of primer on, she came back through with caulk, and then I covered up the caulk with the second coat of primer.

I feel like the first round of primer went better in our room than it did in Meg’s room. Yes, it definitely needed another round of primer (as you can see on the south wall in the background, but I still think it took fewer coats to actually be done.

While we waited for the walls to dry after putting more (and more and more…) plaster on, Brooke kept working on the bed frames. As mentioned in the previous post, Brooke refined her process and cut down on the time spent on each part of the frame. In general, she’d work on one at a time, then prime it, and then start stripping the paint off the next frame while the previous one dried.

The primer actually looked alright in its own right. She used spray paint for this, and it took quite a few cans per head/footboard. During the course of the stripping, Brooke noticed that the frames had been a few colors in the past, whether some shade of white or some shade of black. We also considered just painting them some loose approximation of the metal underneath it all, but ultimately, we went with a kind of hammered metal black color.

It turned out really good! It also took multiple cans, but it was really just for full coverage, not because it needed multiple coats. The drying of each board also didn’t take all that long, thankfully, though they did have to be stood up in the garage to let them dry more effectively.

I was letting a set dry outside and a bird pooped on it. This happened on the last of the four, of course…so how the previous three didn’t have that problem is beyond me…

Last, but not least, the welding! It ended up taking a week and a half to get the rails back, and it only cost $40, but it was well worth it. In the picture above, you can see the L-shape of the rail, and then a second, smaller L-shaped portion added as a stabilizer for when the rail is placed upside down. These rails didn’t need as much stripping as the other parts of the frame needed, but Brooke still primed them for paint.

So yeah, that’s how the next few weeks went. Plastering, sanding, stripping, priming, painting…..and so on and so forth……

But finally….eventually….we were “done”…

The New Bedroom, Part V

Ooooooooooh, boy…. We “finished up” Meg’s room on April 11th. We’ve been working on our bedroom basically since then without many breaks except for that first weekend and Mother’s Day. To be fair, a lot of this length of time was working around furniture refinishing and plastering (more on that later), so there have been a lot of moving parts….

…but first, back to the beginning….

So, we originally thought our room may go somewhat quickly because of the vinyl wallpaper that was already peeling in some spots (especially certain corners). As we would eventually discover, nay, it definitely did not “go quickly”… The vinyl layer came off easily, yes, along with a thin, white layer underneath. Yet, underneath that, we found a floral pattern…and underneath that, we found yet another floral pattern.

Those bottom two layers did not go quietly into that good night.

As we were doing this during Coronapocalypse 2020, I was doing scraping on the walls for 3-4 hours a day before or after my “virtual office hours,” while Brooke was at work. So I’d have to take breaks here and there to make sure the kids weren’t burning down the house, but as the weather was finally getting a little warmer, the kids were able to go outside sometimes, so that alleviated some of the constant bickering…

For the most part, I got into a groove and made solid progress. We ran into some issues with the ridiculous amount of wallpaper on the walls though, mostly on the top and bottom of the walls where the moulding was….because they put the moulding on top of the wallpaper!!!

…..sigh…..

I did my best with it, but we ultimately use caulked over it to try and obscure it as much as possible. It definitely isn’t a perfect solution, but the prospect of removing and replacing the moulding again wasn’t exactly at the top of our priority list…

I should also note that there’s a bed frame in this image. I should also I know that yours truly is the one who assembled this bed frame, and it is also yours truly that couldn’t figure out how to take it apart again… I’m assuming there was some special tool that came with it that is buried somewhere on the work bench out in the garage, but for the life of me, I couldn’t find any tool small enough to fit into the hole that held the nut that attached the head- or footboard to the side rails. Sooooo, we just decided to leave it in there and cover the surfaces of the bed with the old curtains that we were going to replace anyway. It got annoying here and there, but for the most part, we were able to work around it and still use the ladder.

The wall between the south window and my closet door was, by far, the worst one. Spoiler alert: Brooke ended up spending quite a bit of time plastering, sanding, plastering, sanding, plastering, and sanding this thing….

But while she was doing all of that, she was also messing with the bed frames, mostly on the weekends.

We got these frames from my parents, who got them from my Uncle, who has had them for a few decades, but he got them from my grandfather. These frames were his and his brother’s growing up, which is really cool! The less cool part is that they needed some TLC.

This involved quite a lot of paint stripper (the stuff in the blue bottle, not the white bottle, because Brooke found that only the stuff in the blue bottle worked well at all….), and plenty of spray painting. And some welding (more on that in a bit).

She’s pretty sure there were 3 layers of paint on one of the beds (two white, one black), and 2 layers of paint on the other bed (both white). There wasn’t a good way to know if it was lead paint or not, but we didn’t want to take the chance, so she used a carpet square from Meg’s room to catch the paper towels she was using to strip the paint. It took awhile to figure out her order of operations, and that first footboard (pictured above) took about 8 hours for her to finish (!!!!!!). By the time she got through to the fourth of these things, she cut that down to only a couple hours, so now she’s a pro!

But there was another issue with the beds. We took various measurements and discovered that one of the beds measured 53″ wide by 57″ long, which is the standard size of a modern full size bed. The other bed, however, measured 53″ wide by 69.5″ long, which is the standard size for literally nothing in 2020. Soooooo, I asked around and talked to a local welding business to see if there was something they could do to modify the off-size bed. I put these things in my Forester on Good Friday, ready to take it all over to the business, but apparently they took off that afternoon and I didn’t think about it, so the frames just sat in my car until after Easter.

Brooke met me there so we could talk to the guy and see what he thought, so everyone would be on the same page. We showed him the stuff while it was still in the car, so I didn’t have to unload it (which is not trivial, by the way….it takes a few people to finagle these into the back of a small SUV). He asked us a few questions about it, we chatted about potential options. And then he asked, “Did you try just flipping them over?”

Brooke and I just looked at each other, then said, “Uh…no?”

But low and behold, it was a great idea! You see, the beds are very similar to each other, but they aren’t quite identical. One bed (the actual full size one) has rails that slide in on their sides, but the one that’s too short has rails that connect on each end to the head- and footboards, which results in extra bits of metal (you can see all this in the image above) that would be in front of and behind the box springs.

If you flip the rail upside down, then instead of resting in the “L” shape of the bracket, that “L” is now upside down, so the box springs just sit on top of it! The problem with that is that the box springs can then slide side-to-side, and potentially off the rails.

So, after we took the pictures above, I took the rails to the welding company and told them we wanted them to just put on some bits of metal on the sides to prevent slipping of the box springs. I suggested 3 or 4 bits of metal would probably do it. Brooke also wrote “top,” “side,” and “head” on them so they would know how to orient the rails to put them in the right place.

And that took 2 weeks to get done……but on the plus side, the head- and footboards were still here, so she could keep stripping those while the rails were getting worked on.

More on that next time!

Garden Update: 05.10.20

The early(ish?) Spring has been pretty good to the garden so far. The radishes are doing really well (middle), and the kale (to the left) and the spinach (to the right) are coming along, though Brooke planted some extra seeds in there to try and fill out the row a bit better. To the far right, the garlic is…still doing its thing…

The tomatoes are doing well, too, but the temperatures these past few nights (dropping to the mid-30s) weren’t kind to at least a few of the plants. I pulled the jugs off a few that were growing out of the holes at the top (visible in the image above), but replaced them today after a few of the stems broke. They were damaged relatively high off the ground and they still have leaves, so I’m hopeful they’ll make it…

I should also note the straw, at this point. We kept it from Oktoberfest last Fall to protect the bees for the Winter, and figured this time, rather than grass clippings between the rows to limit weed growth, we could just spread the straw instead. We’ve still got some bales left, as we don’t have everything planted yet, so for now, they’re just taking up space: just not on my grass…

The peppers are also doing their thing, but growing a bit slower. We haven’t had many days in the 80s yet, so they’re probably wanting a little bit more heat…

The green beans are going in the soil next to them, but we haven’t planted them yet. I think we’re putting black beans in this year, too, as sell as soup beans (duh!).

The strawberries are taking off! Quite a few flowers have shown up, and the middle of the patch has some new plants popping up. Our next outdoor project will involve expanding the berry patch out and planting some new stuff, but first….gotta finish up the bedroom upstairs……more on that eventually…

The new bees arrived last week! She got into the older hive and put a new super with queen excluder on. For the new hive, put in new frames on the bottom, then transferred frames from the nuc into the top box, and then dumped the bees into the middle. A few days later, she added empty frames again. Both times she got into the new hive, she found the queen, but hasn’t seen much new brood in there yet.

In other news, we’ve got almonds! Like, five of them? Not very many, for sure… We’ve still got frost warnings happening still, so hopefully those few almonds make it….we’ve been waiting 5 years……..

And last, but not least, the peaches are back! Millions of them. There are so many peaches on that tree. We’ve also got apples and a ton of cherries (we only got one last year).

So yeah, I think that’s it…since we don’t have much growing yet, there’s not a ton to say yet, except that things are moving along…

And we had to cover the strawberries tonight because we have yet another frost warning….ug.

State Park #10: Harry S Truman State Park

This post is part of an ongoing series summarizing each State Park in Missouri that our family has attended. We hope to visit each of 54 State Parks before the kids graduate from high school.

We’ve been feeling pretty cooped up these past few weeks, largely due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, so with the weather being really good this weekend, we opted to go for a picnic lunch and hike at Harry S Truman State Park, which is a little over an hour south of us in Warsaw, MO.

Getting to the park wasn’t really all that difficult, though it was a bit further off the highway than we anticipated. We had to drive through Warsaw to get there, which was a nice diversion. They seem to be big enough for fast food and grocery stores, so if we were to go down there for an extended camping trip, we’d be all set. Unfortunately, all of the camp grounds in the state parks are closed for the time-being (more on that later…), so that wasn’t really an option this weekend, anyway.

By the time we got down there, it was a little after 11:00, so we opted to eat first before finding our hiking trail. Because of the way Truman Lake bobs and weaves into and out of the land surrounding it, we thought we were in a place close to the hiking trail we were looking for, but upon further examination (and the distinct lack of a trail head), we figured out we had to drive about 10 minutes through the park to get there.

Unfortunately, the trail we wanted (that was something like 2 miles long) was located far back into the camping area of the park. Further unfortunately, said campground was closed, so we couldn’t even drive to it. We could have parked at the Park Office, but we’d have to walk on the road at least a mile just to get to the trail head, making it a 4 mile day. Calvin has improved a lot in the last few years, but 4 miles isn’t something I’m prepared to get him to do just yet……

Instead, we found a trail that we could access, but it was only about 0.9 miles long. It was a decent trail and was well-maintained, but it was a bit muddy in spots (it had rained recently). There were definitely some nice vistas off the trail where you could see Truman Dam off in the distance.

So yeah, this is a weird one, under the circumstances! There’s a beach down there that would probably be good to visit, as well as a pretty massive boat area (that had tons of vehicles parked, so lots of folks were out on Truman Lake, it looked like). We assume the Park Offices had some educational displays, but they weren’t open. There were playgrounds, but they were all roped off. Apparently there are hiking trails, but you can’t get to most of them!

I guess we’ll just have to go back sometime after this situation is all over!!

The New Bedroom, Part IV

That looks better…

As I mentioned in the previous post, it took multiple coats to get through this, likely 2/3 of a gallon of paint. I used the roller twice on it, then Brooke came back through with the same off-white color we used in the other bedroom, so it matched. Then she had to come through again with the “Evergreen fog” paint to cover any extra white she’d gotten on the color of the walls. Just a lot of back and forth, really…

Is this the worst part? It may be the worst part…

I took care of the carpet this morning, cutting it roughly into quarters, then pulled up from the edges. The carpet actually came off relatively easily, but it took awhile to “find my groove,” since it’s been awhile since I did this.

The ongoing coronapocalypse is making trash pick-up difficult, so we’ll try to dispose of the carpet as best we can, but for now, it’s rolled up in those quarters on our back porch. Not ideal, but it is what it is. There’s furniture in our garage awaiting some painting, so it’ll be a bit before we can move the carpet out there. Overall, I think we were able to keep most of the dust from our wallpaper scraping on the carpet so it wouldn’t get all over the floor underneath.

The hardwood looks similar to the other bedroom.

Pulling up the tack board around the edges of the room took forever. I’m pretty sure that was Dad’s job the last time we did this, so I don’t think I’d done much of it before. This was another time it took me a bit to “find my groove” and finally feel like I was making progress. Pretty sure it took me an hour and a half to get just that part done. Brooke came up and joined me for pulling up the staples that was holding down the pad under the carpet, and while that was tedious, it went pretty well.

For now, we went ahead and kept the carpet in the kid’s closet. It will get removed, but we’ve got some time for reasons I’ll get to momentarily…

(Mostly) finished product!

After a round of vacuuming, then wood cleaner, then more vacuuming, we were done!

So, this project began on Saturday, March 28, and we finished it up on Saturday, April 11th. Technically, we still aren’t done, as we’re waiting on Meg’s bed frames to get fixed up. The frames are from my Dad’s father and brother, so they’re very old, but also only kinda fit modern beds. One of them is a full-size bed frame, but the other is about 5″ too short in the length, so it won’t fit a frame properly. We’re going to try and get a welder here in town to try and adapt it so we can have two full beds in the room.

We’re also getting a wardrobe for this room, so the closet will be mostly Calvin’s, though maybe we’ll hang a few things of Meg’s in there, too. We’re also going to move a dresser into Meg’s room, so there’s more furniture to go in, but again, it’ll take awhile for the beds to be done, and it’ll take awhile for a wardrobe to arrive.

Soooooooo, in the meantime, we’re moving on to our bedroom. We’re letting Meg sleep on a sleeping bag in her new room for a few nights, and then we’re going to break down and transfer our bed and furniture into Meg’s room while she moves back in with Calvin. Then, it’ll probably be another two weeks until our room is done, but then we’ll be mostly “project complete” for 2020. That will give us a few weeks to get the furniture situation figured out so Meg can be in her own room long-term!

On to the next project!

The New Bedroom, Part III

The kids got in on the “fun”…

Back in December 2016, we de-wallpapered, de-carpeted, and painted one of the upstairs bedrooms, so the kids could share it with bunk beds, leaving the bedroom next door (connected by a closet) into a “play room,” of sorts.

In the intervening years, Meg would occasionally ask when she was going to get her own room, and our answer became “when you’re 10.”

Guess who’s 10 now? Good work.

We were going to do the work this Summer, but due to the present stay at home order in Missouri, we went ahead and pushed up our schedule a bit.

So…much…wallpaper…

Like the last time, we left the carpet on while we removed the wallpaper. Most of the walls only had a single layer of wallpaper, but the one behind the door had a few layers….and layers of wallpaper on top of joint compound.

Brooke was not pleased.

There had been some…”work”….done to the walls…

Overall, there were relatively large portions of the walls that didn’t need a ton of work, but the portions by the closet (and on the wall with the staircase to the attic on the other side) already had a lot of joint compound on them from the last time wallpaper was applied. Brooke thinks the latest round of wallpaper was probably put on back in the 80s. Under the wallpaper, she found a handwritten note that was difficult to read, but someone wrote their name and what looked like “198-“….so it’s hard to know for sure, but at least it seems like someone tried to fix the room, thankfully, by not just wallpapering over the existing wallpaper.

The primer went on pretty well!

After Brooke was satisfied with the cleaning of the walls, I spent a lot of the week putting up some primer. I had to go with a few coats of it to cover up the wealth of joint compound just spread all over the place, and even had some of it delivered from our local hardware store.

First coat of paint. Definitely need another coat.

The paint Brooke and Meg went with was a color that will go well in our bedroom as well as her bedroom. She originally wanted something more purple-ish, but….we don’t want purple walls in our room, so we won out. This color is called “Evergreen fog.” Granted, I’m partially color blind, but I can’t really tell where the “green” is…

I’ll save the rest for another post. The painting took a few days to finish up, and we still have carpet to pull up!

Only Hope

The almond tree….. “It’s aliiiiiiiiiivvveee!!!”

I’ve got some time on my hands, as as mental health professionals suggest journaling, I may as well keep posting here, right?

Classes “resumed” this week for me, so I’m trying to get in communication with my students. I’ve only heard from a few of them at this point, which isn’t too surprising, but it’s a substantially different dynamic compared with what I’m used to. I’m hosting virtual office hours five times a week now, though I haven’t actually had anyone join yet. I’ve got my first committee meeting today, so it’ll be my first non-email communication with folks at the college in a bit.

The kids, on the other hand, are generally enjoying their new reality. Brooke’s still setting up a checklist for them that gives them something to do everyday, along with a little bit of variety in the daily routine. Animal Crossing came out last Friday, which Meg’s been looking forward to since last Fall, so it’s been a welcome diversion from everything that’s been going on. Thankfully, there’s a co-op mode to it so Calvin can play along simultaneously.

Brooke started her new schedule at work this week. Right now, they’re going to remain open, but have rearranged their consumers for isolation protocols so it’s easier to separate those that may have been exposed, should that happen eventually… As of today, there are no cases in Saline County, but Columbia and Kansas City both have multiple cases. As of yesterday, there were 183 confirmed cases in Missouri, almost half of which were in people under the age of 50.

On Saturday, I took a trip into Columbia to donate blood, as the Red Cross is canceling blood drives all over the place now. I dropped some stuff off at Goodwill to clear out space for the next remodel… We were planning on separating the kids into their own rooms this year anyway, so we’ve just pushed up the schedule on that now that time is seemingly more available… Brooke and Meg spent quite a bit of time this weekend organizing their toys, moving some of it up into the attic and getting rid of other bits. I also brought back some old bed frames from when my grandfather and great-uncle were growing up, so we’re hoping to restore those and put them in Meg’s room, depending on how they fit in the space.

Then again, if Lowes closes and we can’t buy paint for the bed frames, we’ll be slowed down considerably…

Aaaaaaaanyway, I’m catching up on TV, keeping up on school stuff, and otherwise trying to entertain myself. The weather is improving, though it’s been pretty rainy. We’ve had at least 4″ of rain in the last week, kinda spread out over the days. Temperatures should reach into the 60s later this week, so hopefully things dry out a bit! The kids really need to get outside more…

Brooke and I are watching This Old House every night now, trying to watch happy, positive stuff. Also, Jon Foreman is recording and performing a new song every day on YouTube.

At least the trees are getting their leaves back, right?

It’s Been A Minute…

Whee! Playing outside finally!

It isn’t that there hasn’t been much going on…but most of what the last few months has entailed was routine. We had Christmas Break, started the Spring Semester, had a bunch of snow days (like, one per week, almost literally…), and now I’m on Spring Break…but more on that later…

Probably the biggest thing that’s happened was Meg’s 10th birthday. It’s crazy to think that it’s been 10 years since she joined the family! We had a small gathering for some of her friends after school last Friday, and keeping 4 fourth graders entertained for 5 hours is certainly a challenge…

Speaking of Spring Break, I’ve gotten a few short-ish bike rides in, some running, some prep work for the rest of the semester, and a few other odds and ends done. Mostly, I’ve just been chillin’ around the house. The weather has been up and down (because Missouri), but we’ve had a few days in the past couple of weeks where we’ve hit the mid-60s or low-70s, so we’ve had a taste of Spring and are ready for it. Brooke even got her annual “burning of the garden” done! Of course, there’s a chance of snow tomorrow…because…Missouri….

The big news has been developing over the past few weeks. As you, dear reader, undoubtedly know by now, the world has been rocked by the novel coronavirus. Incidentally, Calvin, Brooke and I were struck with influenza a few weeks ago, so we’ve already had a run-in with sickness this year (yes, we had our flu shots…), but this coronavirus is a different situation.

So different that Missouri Valley has decided, along with many other colleges, to shut down in-person teaching for the foreseeable future. We’re on Spring Break, so students are already scattered all over the place. The administration took the logical step of delaying their return for an extra week, and gave them the option to choose to return if they want later in March. Buildings will be open, the dining hall will still function, dorms will be available….but we won’t hold any face-to-face classes.

For me, this isn’t going to be a tough transition. I already teach a few classes online, so I’ll just have to push a few buttons to move things over, in a few circumstances. For one of my classes, I’ll have to record some video lectures and think about how to assign a few “virtual laboratory” activities.

For other faculty, though, it’s going to be hard. Classes like chemistry, for example, aren’t easily switched to an online format. There are virtual solutions available, but not those that can be easily mobilized in a short time-frame with limited financial resources. I’ll probably have to help some of my colleagues come up with some solutions, but for some classes, there really isn’t a good option available.

So yeah, we chatted with the kids last night to explain that “things are going to look different” for a bit. I’ll go to work, but not on a regular schedule. They’re still going to school, so that routine hasn’t been affected….yet…. But we did have to tell them that they’ll have to be flexible and patient with what they’re used to getting from the grocery store. Supply chains have already been disrupted, so it’s at least possible that Meg won’t get her cheese crackers, or Calvin won’t get the exact frozen pizza he likes… It’s just hard to say whether groceries will be affected, or whether things will go “business as usual.” It just seems to be best to warn them so their frustration is at least slightly abated when things don’t happen the way they want… Right now, I don’t think they’re scared or anything, nor should they be, but I do want them to be prepared.

It’s gonna be weird! I’m not looking forward to exclusively online instruction, mostly because I actually like the interaction with students. Doing everything by email just isn’t the same… It’s better than spreading a virus to people more susceptible than us, though!

Review: Star Wars – The Rise of Skywalker

It’s been awhile, eh?

So, in my review of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, I wrote: “Ultimately, much like The Force Awakens, it’s tough to fully judge The Last Jedi until we’ve got Episode IX available to watch.” Now we have Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, so I guess it’s time to “fully judge” these movies.

Stepping back a bit, The Rise of Skywalker returned to JJ Abrams as its director after Rian Johnson directed The Last Jedi. Colin Trevorrow was supposed to do this one, but left after he and the studio heads disagreed on the direction to go in. Trevorrow still has a writing credit on Rise of Skywalker because production had already made it a decent way through with his influence.

This is all to say that the production of this movie was somewhat troubled. Abrams was brought in to finish what he started in the way the studio generally wanted it done, and in my opinion, he did his best with what he had to work with. The story largely “works,” loose ends are mostly tied up (“mostly” being “greater than 51%”…so definitely not entirely), and the actors and effects all get the job done. It’s all fine.

My main qualm with Rise of Skywalker is that it feels like Disney went down the “Netflix algorithm” well of content creation, where the production of this movie seems like it was very much trying to play to fan service rather than try anything interesting with the story.

The Last Jedi tried something interesting with the story. It made the character, Rey (our Luke Skywalker “stand-in”), a “nobody:” someone who wasn’t of Force-powerful blood…yet someone who very much was strong in The Force. By the end of the movie, The Force was effectively “democratized,” where a bunch of children from across the galaxy were shown using Force powers to a limited degree. All the sudden, the possibilities were wide open for how the citizens would rise up against the First Order.

And then JJ Abrams was brought in to pull that all back….and ignore all those points…and make Rey into a “somebody” with Force-powerful blood. This movie effectively avoids a lot of what The Last Jedi set up.

So yeah, was that a bad move? Maybe not? It was fine. But again, it seems like Disney and Lucasfilm wanted to play it safe, not anger its fan-base, and based on the reviews, satisfy no one. Speaking of those reviews, I think a lot of them are overly harsh, many of them speaking to the movie they wanted rather than the movie they got. Still, there are definitely some issues with this film, largely centering on the story and how they chose to wrap it up. It was just very paint-by-number in execution, very predictable, and very safe.

Long-term, my bet is that The Last Jedi will eventually be seen as the best of the three movies in the Sequel Trilogy. It may take awhile for that to happen, but The Force Awakens and Rise of Skywalker both look like Star Wars Fanfiction now by comparison, while The Last Jedi tried to push the franchise forward.

It’s up to Disney and Lucasfilm to decide whether they want to move forward with it, I guess…

Review: Zombieland – Double Tap

Brooke and I saw the original Zombieland back in 2009 and found it pretty revolutionary. We’ve watched it around Halloween in most of the ensuing years because it strikes a great balance between stupid fun and, well, zombies. (Brooke isn’t a huge fan of jump scares, so a movie like this is about as scary as she’s willing to go…)

Well, somewhat surprisingly, they got the gang back together for a sequel 10 years after the original. Emma Stone has an Oscar now, and Woody Harrelson is in quite a few movies nowadays. Jesse Eisenberg and Abigail Breslin aren’t exactly hurting for work, but their schedules were probably the most clear of anyone in the cast. In many ways, it felt like old times, but the earlier portion of the film also felt a bit awkward. Like, yes, these are the same actors playing the same characters a decade later…but that sense of did we really need this to exist?

Don’t get me wrong: Brooke and I laughed quite a bit when we saw it last Thursday (we got a babysitter on a Thursday night…we’re such bad people! ;-)). But leaving the theater, we weren’t talking about the same kinds of things that would generate memes for a decade (like Columbus’ list of Rules for Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse). New cast members show up at opportune times and make things interesting, but it sure does seem like this movie is more about these characters than it is about the zombies in said “zombieland.” That’s okay to an extent because we’ve let a decade go by and the audience is interested in what the characters have been doing since the previous movie, and yet what those characters have been doing seems so predictable to the point of well, I probably could have figured that out myself without having to see a movie about it.

So yeah, we enjoyed it, but it definitely didn’t reach the height of the original. I think we’d watch it again, but it’s more likely we’ll just go back to the first one when we want to revisit Zombieland.

However, Bill Murray and Al Roker are national treasures. Their inclusion in this movie is priceless. Give them all the money.