My frustrations with movie theaters in the US

So, today I finally saw Star Wars: The Last Jedi in the movies. I may write about my thoughts on the movie on another post, but I wanted to share with you some puzzling aspects of how movie theaters work in the US and why they frustrate me.

We (me and my partner) went to the session at 1:40 pm. It is the opening weekend, but since a couple of days had past (because they moved the opening night from actual midnight session to basically early Thursday night, it had been 4 days since movie officially came out), I figured a day session wouldn’t be super crowded, even if it’s the weekend, so I didn’t purchase tickets in advance. Boy was I wrong: as soon as we walked to the line, I saw the sign that says low seating for our session. When we went to buy the tickets, we were told that the only seats available were at the very front. To my surprise, this particular session was assigned seating. We got two seats from the second row, and proceeded to go in. Because the previous session hasn’t left, we were told to go into a line, of which we were the first, but it didn’t matter because of the assigned seating.

So here’s my frustration: where I am from, all seats are assigned seats. The common practice in the US is the opposite: you don’t get a particular seat, you just purchase a general admission ticket and sit wherever is available. For those sessions, if you arrive early and get on the line, you can get good tickets. For some sessions though, they also apparently do the assigned seats. Google doesn’t say whether it is assigned seating or general admission, it just shows the movie times. To figure it out, I would actually have to go to the movie theater’s website and find out. But because it is so rare, I never really check it. In this setting, we ended up with bad seats because of this bizarre system.

The movie theater policy should either be always general admission, so I know that in order to get good seats, I would have to arrive early. Or it should be always assigned seats, so I know that I can purchase my good seats in advance, and I’ll do so. This mix of most of the time general admission but rarely assigned tickets is worst of both worlds. Even though I arrived early, because they sold assigned seats online and I didn’t check, we ended up with bad seats. This bizarre policy requires so much more additional planning and thinking ahead for such a simple activity as movie-going. Movie-going should be fun and shouldn’t require a whole bunch of additional brain-power from my end. It should be straight-forward, and it definitely isn’t. And makes it much less consumer-friendly.

Another frustration I have is that there are no intermissions/breaks in the movie theaters in the US. Modern movies (especially block-busters like Star Wars) are so long! They are at least 2 hours, and easily extends to 2 and a half with all the ads and trailers. We definitely need a small break to stretch our legs, go to the bathroom, maybe hit the concessions. This last part is what puzzles me the most: they can make more sales from the concession if only they put a 10 minute break in the middle of the movie. I understand that having no break allows them to air more movies, but if I know a little bit of economics, the money maker at the movie theaters should be the concessions, not the actual movie ticket itself. Do let me know in the comments if you have seen studies about it or know about it from a practice perspective (working at the movie theater or something).

Anyways, I know this is kind of a rant and I probably should have checked beforehand for a movie as big as Star Wars, but I still think the system here is kind of broken. Let me know what you think in the comments!

Istanbul Solo Variant

Istanbul is one of my favorite board games. In it, you are a merchant trying to make it through the grand markets and bazaars of Istanbul by pushing around your wheelbarrow, picking up and selling goods, and collecting rubies. Whichever merchant reaches 5 rubies (6 in a 2-player game) wins the game.

What I like the most about it is that even though there are some interactions between players, it is mostly parallel play. Therefore, it is not super competitive, there aren’t much in-your-face, take-that kind of mechanics. And I think this allows for a good solo variant.

So here is the setting: let’s have an AI character that moves according to a bunch of rules: I’ll call him Travelling Merchant”. The point of the solo variant is to defeat the Travelling Merchant. He can travel across the board easily and isn’t bound by the rules of moving one or two spots from his current spot. That’s why he’s called Travelling Merchant.

So the solo variant is actually a typical two-player setting. Here are the rules that the AI follows, prioritized from top to bottom:

  • Whenever he has 7 liras, he immediately goes to the Wainwright and collects a Wheelbarrow extension in the next turn.
  • Whenever he has enough resources, he immediately goes to the Mosque and collects the tile that the resource corresponds to, in the next turn.
  • Whenever he has enough resources, he immediately goes to the Sultan’s Palace and collects a ruby in the next turn.
  • Whenever he has enough liras, he immediately goes to the Gemstone Dealer and collects a ruby in the next turn.
  • If he can’t do any of these, he moves by rolling the dice. The tiles are organized by the big, red numbers and he moves to the number that’s rolled with one exception: rolling 7 makes him move to one of the warehouses instead of the Fountain. Whichever resource he has the least, he moves to that one. If some of the number of resources are equal, prioritize the resources from top to bottom as seen in your Wheelbarrow.
  • He moves to the Fountain when he runs out of Assistants. He leaves an assistant wherever he goes, just like you.
  • He knows the owner of the Tea House, so he just rolls the dice and collects the number of liras that the dice shows.
  • He also knows the owner of the Caravansaray, so he just gets two bonus cards. He either uses them immediately (like 5 lira card or get a good card), or whenever he can (like do the Post Office action twice card).
  • At the Small/Large Market, he sells as many of the resources as he can.
  • If he’s trying to go somewhere and there’s another merchant there that he has to pay, he goes to the police station and sends his family member instead, if he can.
  • He always pays to the Governor and the Smuggler 2 liras to keep a card or a good, if he can. Similar to the warehouse, he always prioritizes the goods that he has the least when using Smuggler. If he can’t pay them, he discards the cards that he can’t use immediately or exchanges the good that he has the most with the good that he has the least, if the number of goods are all equal, he doesn’t use the Smuggler.
  • For the mosque tiles, the use of red and blue tiles are obvious. For the green tile, he always uses it to get the resource he has the least, if he can (if he has 2 liras). Yellow tile is kind of useless, so you can either assume he only gets it to collect the mosque ruby, or you can still use it, if it seems like it will benefit the Travelling Merchant (when he needs to go somewhere immediately the next turn but he runs out of assistants).

One note I have is that the Caravansaray is kind of tricky. Because of the probabilities he’ll roll 6 a lot, so he’ll go to Caravansaray a lot. Some of the cards are useless to him (like don’t move or move 3-4 tiles cards), but taking two cards is supposed to balance it out. However, if it seems like this Caravansaray mechanism is not working, the 6 roll can be assigned to other tiles. Similar to the assignment of 7 to warehouses, 6 can be assigned to markets. He may go to the market where he can sell the most goods.

So this is the general idea. See if you can beat the Travelling Merchant! If you have any questions, do let me know in the comments!


Pinstripe is an amazing platformer where a minister named Ted tries to find his kidnapped daughter in a frozen Hell. Even this premise is very intriguing, but what caught my attention a couple of years ago when I first saw the Kickstarter for this game is that it was all in all a one-man job. I was amazed by the visuals and could not believe one person could pull this game off. Regardless, I wanted to support that effort, and got rewarded when I received my Steam code back in April. 

It was everything I expected it to be.

The visuals were gorgeous and the story was captivating. I just kept playing and finished it in a matter of days. I don’t want to spoil anything, but the finale of the game made me cry. I just want to say that much.

So, if you’re interested, definitely give it a try. One downside of the game is that it is definitely a short game, due to being a one-man effort, but you definitely get more than what you paid for. Below is the link. If you do play, let me know what you think in the comments!


Guild of Dungeoneering

Guild of Dungeoneering is a fantastic piece of game that I can recommend to everyone. In it, you play as “manager” of a hero group. The heroes are called “Dungeoneers” and the group is called the “Guild”, hence the name of the game. These dungeoneers explore various quests and you make money off of their quest by taking a cut of the loot that they acquire in the meanwhile.

There are various types of dungeoneers such as Chumps, Cat Burglars, Apprentices, Barbarians and each of them come with various types of attack and defense cards. At each dungeon run, they start from Level 1 with no items and gather loot and items that help them along the way. There are an expanse of various monsters that you can fight against so that your dungeoneer can level up, and at the end of many quests there is a boss that you fight against. One fun aspect of the game is that you build the dungeon around them by playing dungeon cards at each turn. These cards are usually random and consists of pathways, monsters and loot.

I really like the idea of building the dungeon around the hero and managing a group of heroes instead of just playing as one hero. There is also infinite supply of heroes, if one dies on a quest, you can just send someone else for a round and another hero of the same type gets hired immediately the next round. You can even gaze upon the various dungeoneers that you lost in your graveyard and reminisce about them.

Another aspect of the game that I like is the main character (that you play) is this shady guy that has been kicked out of a different hero group (Ivory League of Explorers) and decides to start-up his own thing. So there is a bit of a funny story behind the game that keep you entertained as well.

Finally, the last thing that I must really complement is the soundtrack. Whoever composed the music did a great job and suits the game completely. Normally I keep the music off in various games that I play because they are usually so repetitive and boring, but this soundtrack makes me want to hum and sing along to it, it is that good.

One thing that I can critique is the shortness of the main quest pack, after intense playing for a couple of days and finishing the main pack, I found myself wanting more. There are two expansion packs that are out right now that comes with the game, so it’s not too bad, but I hope they keep adding new quests and content.

So, if you’re excited, give it a go, and let me know what you think in the comments! Below are the links to the game:



Introduction – Artemis


This is Artemis. Goes by Arty in short. He’s my cat. A bit of information, to introduce him:

  • He’s three years old at the time I’m writing this post.
  • We’ve (me and my partner) had him for almost a year and a half now.
  • He came with the name. When we were driving him from the shelter back home, I kept calling his name and he kept responding by meowing, so we figured he knows his name and decided to keep it. We middle named him Rainbow since it rained and we saw a rainbow while we were driving him back home also. It’s kind of hilarious to name an all-white cat Rainbow.
  • He was a stray kitty but must have had some people around since he socialized and did not become feral. Poor kitty cat has been to the shelter twice. He’s never going back again.
  • His original name was Jack. Somehow I can’t see him as a Jack at all, it doesn’t suit him.
  • We believe he was named after the white cat Artemis from Sailor Moon manga. We were trying to find a hashtag for him and a bunch of them came back with the cartoon cat, so we realized that’s probably his namesake.
  • According to his vet paperwork, he’d had an undescended testicle. Random fact to know about your cat.
  • He’s a bit of a tomcat since he was neutered pretty late, around 1 year old, and had time to develop muscles due to testosterone. The fact that he was neutered late makes us wonder if he’s ever had kittens.

We love him so much! If you’re ever contemplating getting a cat (or any animal, really), please adopt. There are so many good cats out there, needing a forever home. We’re so happy we are able to provide him a good life.

So there you go! Now you know a bit about my cat as well. Hopefully I’ll write about him further in the future.

Exploding Kittens Solo Variant

Exploding Kittens is one of my favorite card games. How could it not be? It is a card game that involves cats! Also, Matthew Inman‘s artwork and text on the cards are hilarious.

However, it is not easy to find someone to play hilarious card games with all the time, so I wanted to come up with a way to play it solo. Ever since I heard about Inman’s (and his co-creator Elan Lee’s) newest card game (Bears vs. Babies), I was inspired by the idea of Exploding Kittens as a deck building solitaire. You see, in Bears vs. Babies, you build these monsters (bears) to fight against an army of babies. And I figured, since there are a lot of Cat cards in Exploding Kittens with no instructions, they can act as the army of babies and I could fight them using action cards, building a (mini) deck (instead of monsters). In Bears vs. Babies, the army of babies usually get activated when their nap time is disrupted (provoked) by one of the players, and I thought, the Kitten cards could activate (provoke) the Cat cards in Exploding Kittens. So, that’s the main point, and below is my full variant:

  • Start with a Defuse card. Shuffle two more Defuse cards into the deck. Discard the rest of the Defuse cards. Defuse cards basically negate the Kittens (just like in the original game) and stop the Cat cards from attacking you (the provoking).
  • You can either hold a group of the same type of action cards (just Attack cards, for example) or two different type of individual action cards in your deck at all times. This rule is also applied to Defuse cards. You can swap an incoming action card with a card from your deck, and whichever doesn’t stay in your deck must be discarded.
  • 4 of the action cards work for you and two of them work against you. The ones that work against you are Nope and Shuffle cards. When a Shuffle card shows up, you must shuffle the deck immediately. Nope cards cancel out one of your action cards on your deck. You must choose and discard one of them immediately. For the action cards that work for you, below are the instructions:
  • Attack kills a group of Cat cards. Whenever the Cat cards show up, always keep them in groups in the middle of the table, for example, keep all of the Beard Cat cards together. All of the Cat cards in the middle construct the enemy Cat army.
  • Skip lets you kill individual Cat cards. Skips are stronger together, one Skip card only kills one Cat card, two Skip cards kill three Cat cards, three of them kill five Cat cards and four of them kill seven Cat cards.
  • See The Future acts as Adjust the Future (similar to the one from Imploding Kittens, the expansion pack) and affects 5 cards instead of 3. Basically, you can see and re-adjust top 5 cards.
  • Favor lets you “recruit” the Cat cards for your own army. You recruit them in groups.
  • You can use the action cards on your deck at any point. You cannot use an incoming action card right away, you must either put it in your deck or discard it without using.
  • Whenever an Exploding Kitten shows up, the army of the Cat cards attack you. If you cannot stop them with your own army (Cat cards on your army and on the enemy army fight and cancel each other out) or with the action cards, you lose the game.
  • At the end of the game when the main card deck runs out, the Cat army attacks you one final time even without being provoked by an Exploding Kitten, sort of a “Hail Mary” situation.

If you can make it to the end without being destroyed by the Cat army, you win the game!

Below are the links to the original games, if you’re intrigued:

Exploding Kittens

Bears vs. Babies

Hope you enjoy this variant! Let me know what you think in the comments.

Hive (Pocket) Chess Board Variant

Hive is one of my favorite 2-player, abstract games. I like the idea of not needing a board and being able to play the game on the go, but one thing that frustrates me about the game is the fact that there is no board. The tiles are very slippery, which mess up the setting and sometimes confuses me about which tiles are connected. So, I wanted to come up with a variant where you can use a simple chess board, making the game easier to play and spicing things up a bit when you’re playing at the comfort of your own home.

  • The pieces go inside the squares on the board just like chess pieces do.
  • The starting player can put their first piece anywhere on the board, although, to not trap themselves at a corner, it is suggested that they start from somewhere in the middle.
  • One Hive Rule is still effective, with the addition that on the chess board, diagonal squares are also considered connected for this variant.
  • The Queen Bee still has to be placed within 4 turns, movement is still disallowed until the Queen is placed.
  • Queen Bee still moves one at a time.
  • Beetle also still moves one at a time and can go on top of other pieces. Beetle is kind of a crucial piece in this variant, you will see in a minute why that’s the case.
  • Grasshopper still jumps over other pieces with the addition that it must land on the closest empty square in the direction that it moves.
  • Spider still moves thrice and does not backtrack.
  • Soldier ant can still move freely adhering to One Hive Rule.
  • Lady bug still moves thrice, but it doesn’t have to get down on this variant, it can stay on top of other pieces, again, will be explained shortly.
  • Mosquito still imitates the other pieces that it touches.

Objective of the game is still the same: surround the enemy Queen Bee, with one crucial addition: It must be surrounded entirely by your own pieces! If there is still an enemy piece touching their queen, it doesn’t count as surrounded. Because chess board is much more limited than having no board at all and the diagonal is considered connected, this rule is added to make sure the game can be played (at least for some time) and does not automatically end while trying to keep the hive connected.

Because there are pieces that can go on top of each other (Beetle, Ladybug, Mosquito imitating either), it is possible to cover your enemy’s pieces and still surround the Queen. This is why Beetle is kind of crucial and Ladybug can stay on top of other pieces so that there is one more kind of bug that can cover other bugs. With the Mosquito imitating other bugs, there is a bit of a strategy added, you might want to keep it closer to Ladybugs and Beetles so that you have one more resource to cover up the enemy bugs. Finally, you can include some defense tactics by keeping some of your cover-up pieces close to your Queen so that you can stop your enemy from covering your pieces by covering their cover-up pieces. But also, you need some of them to cover-up the enemy, so I think this variant is quite balanced.

Hope you enjoy playing Hive like this. If you do, please let me know what you think in the comments!

Yuri Level 4 – Mini Walkthrough

If you got stuck on Level 4 on Yuri like I did, fret no more! It is highly likely that you couldn’t figure out how to climb the spider-web stairs (you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about once you get there). The first stairs break right in the middle, which is easy to discover. Second stairs is not so easy to figure out though. So here is your mini-walkthrough: they break at the very left, above the spider guarding it. It’s a bit tricky to jump over that spider and break the web, but once you know it is there, it shouldn’t take too much of your time.

Hope this mini walkthrough helped you!

Yuri by Fingerlab

Yuri is a great platformer by Fingerlab on iOS (and Mac). You play as a tiny cosmonaut (Yuri) wandering through a strange place crowded with bugs and other flora and fauna on your bed-skate, collecting fireflies. 

The controls are very simple, there are only three buttons on the screen: left, right and up. The physics engine is hyper-realistic which can be challenging sometimes but not impossible, hence making the game enjoyable.

It seems like there are 10 levels so far, but more might be coming according to the “coming soon” sign at the main screen. Still, the current 10 levels are packed and should provide enough fun for quite a while. I have been playing it in the past few weeks and made it to the 6th level so far.

Below are the links to iTunes and Mac store:



Hope you enjoy it!