31 January 2008

Hut One...

I'm headed to my first Super Bowl. And what an epic one it's shaping up to be. My fellow Wolverine, Tom Brady, will be quarterbacking The New America's Team, the Patriots, toward a historic undefeated season. Back in college, Tom and I would often sit around dreaming of where we would be in five years. Now, here we are, a little off schedule but still on time, headed for a happy reunion after achieving worldly fame and fortune. Admittedly, most of the fame and fortune is on his side but I have had my small successes.

Then again, much like my ability to seemingly always end up on the wrong side of excitement, I'll be attending Super Bowl XLII in a service capacity. It's my version of always the bridesmaid, never the bride. We'll be working the Super Bowl Experience from Thursday till Saturday, and then flying out on Sunday.

So, I'll be watching the game from home, just like you schlups. But oh the fun I'll have in the meantime. You're jealous aren't you? I can totally tell.

30 January 2008

Persepolis (2007)

For some reason, the movie wasn't as good as I wanted it to be. It might be my lack of historical background, it might be my super high expectations, or maybe I just need to read the book first.

I mean, the art style and animation is quite catchy but the movie itself seemed to drag. And I can't pinpoint why because the pacing of the scenes were (mostly) excellent and the movie covered the major plot points well. But something big was missing. I was really hoping I'd love this movie. Oh well.

I wonder what Maus would be like as a movie.

28 January 2008

Double Dip

Hey kids, interested in gratuitious nudity and violence? Have I got the double feature for you! Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (2007) and Rambo (2008) both have problems galore and neither are going to be worth your time -- unless you like gratuitiousness I guess.

Before the Devil's synopsis sounded like it would be good and with Ethan Hawke and Philip Seymour Hoffman around, how could it be horrible? I forgot to account for the fact that 83-year old Sidney Lumet (12 Angry Men, Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon) would be trying to "mix things up" by showing events out of order and with strange cuts. The movie lacks rhythm, sense, and after you figure out what's going on -- which isn't hard to do -- all tension is gone from the film.

Albert Finney's slightly open mouthed gape bothers the heck out of me, I'm sorry. The only real reason to watch the film is Marisa Tomei. I can't believe she chose to bare it all for this piddling role.

Rambo actually suffers from the same problem. I was hoping for a greatest hits of John Rambo, kind of like how Stallone re-did Rocky. Give me the headband tying, give me the knife in the sheath, give me crazy. Instead, we get a watered down Rambo who does very little actual killing. Of course, the movie has tons of way over the top killing (by the villains) in order to make up for it. If you're waiting for that one big chill moment when you can cheer like the good old days, rent Rambo 2 instead.

27 January 2008

Battle Hymn

When they released World of Warcraft (WoW), I knew right away that it was something I should avoid. Swords, sorcery, monsters, and cooperative gameplay in an immersive environment that encourages staying in on Saturday nights? It was practically my dream come true.

My willpower being what it was, I ran out and bought the game immediately. Luckily, I was playing video games for twelve hours a day (and getting paid for it) at the time so I didn't have much stomach for more games at home. Otherwise, WoW might have been the end of me. I shut down my subscription after just two months and only got to level ten or so. All the stories of being able to ride gryphons while hurling thunderbolts from the sky remained just tall tales to me. I knew enough about MMORPGs to know that I should never, ever, touch something like this again.

Then, a few weeks ago, Eric called me and said, "Have you played Guild Wars? It's kind of like D&D. We need a monk." I caught his phone call in the middle of dinner but even above the din, I didn't have to hear much more.

So, now, here I am, hopeless addicted and loving every minute of it. I'm trying to race through the game to catch up to my friends so that I, glory priestess of healing, can join them in battle. I'm almost there.

In fact, it's all I can do to curb my enthusiasm and not call them up every day to play. My fellow adventurers have real lives, wives, children, and more. I do not. Which translates to me jumping up to a respectable level pretty quickly, even as the holidays and a trip to San Francisco interrupted my video game time.

Pretty much all I want to declare here is that we now have our very own guild hall and yes, this is our boat. See you post-searing.

24 January 2008

Monsters, Inc.

Is your computer screen looking pretty boring and staid? Sure it is. I like to switch my backgrounds almost daily, since variety is good for the eyes. Plus, there are just so many great images out there that just one isn't nearly enough is it? If you have two (or more) screens, there's this great piece of software out there, Ultramon, that lets you put different wallpapers on each screen -- or one giant wallpaper across. Look it up, it's sick.

The next step to decorating your computer is doing up the folder icons. During our Leopard Party (Mac owners will know), I spent nearly all my time making my icons look awesome. My entire iBook dock is now filled up with pixelated video game icons. Plus I've color coordinated my various programs and important folders with some other sets. I'm partial to these icons called Creatures -- there's three sets so far.

Here's two sites for quality, and free, icons for your computer: Pixel Girl Presents and Icon Factory. Check'em out.

23 January 2008

There Will Be Blood (2007)

Is Daniel Day-Lewis capable of delivering a bad performance? With a win this time around, it'll be an Oscar hat trick for Day-Lewis. And that doesn't include awesome performances in Last of the Mohicans, In the Name of the Father, etc. Any film Day-Lewis chooses to do is usually a quality flick. There Will Be Blood is engrossing but also nothing like what I expected.

The trailer definitely hypes up the action aspects of the film and draws a picture of warring factions when in truth, it's really just about the inner demons of one man. Everything is supremely well done -- directing, cinematography, acting, writing -- but I can imagine how the impact of the film would have been far less if not experienced in an immersive movie theatre environment. If this type of movie is your cup of tea, go, don't rent.

Check out Wikipedia after you've seen the movie to answer the big question you've probably got spinning through your mind. Sure helped settled my mind.

20 January 2008

Stuff I've Been Reading 2

  • A whole bunch of stuff on Amazon; too many to list here
  • Kitchen Confidential - Anthony Bourdain
  • This Is Not Chick Lit: Original Stories by America's Best Women Writers - Elizabeth Merrick
  • Liar's Poker: Rising Through the Wreckage on Wall Street - Michael Lewis
  • King Dork - Frank Portman
  • How Sassy Changed My Life - Kara Jesella & Marisa Meltzer
  • Skin Deep - Karol Griffin
  • The Princess Bride - William Goldman
It's really hard to talk about books. I mean, with something like movies, it's easy to go over major themes, which scenes you liked, the work of the actors and/or the directors. But talking to somebody about a book is kind of difficult. Generally speaking, after explaining "What's it about?" the conversation ends because all you can really do is wait for the reply of "Okay, that sounds awesome, I'll read it." This is mainly true of literature and fiction books. Non-fiction books tend to lend themselves to discussion much better.

I've figured that out after many book club meetings, where invariably, the best meetings (meaning the most animated and free flowing discussions) are during the non-fiction months. It's just hard to explain why you loved certain parts of a book without referring to the source material constantly. And people are here to talk, not to be read at.

With that in mind, if I were to put together my ultimate one hour book club meeting, I'd format it something like this:
  • Start with a quick vote of who liked it and who didn't so we know where everyone stands.
  • Recap what happened in the book because chances are, half the people in attendance didn't finish the book.
  • Have someone knowledgeable lead a quick run through of major themes, characters, points of interest. Like you would have in English class. I want someone to bring some literary heft to the table.
  • People can bring up questions and points of interest, perhaps referring to a quote or part of the book that really struck them deeply.
  • Discuss the author and the work as far as their style and historical placement. Or fun facts about the author that might lend some perspective to the novel.
  • Plan to go see the film version; or discuss who should be cast as the main characters. Never skip this portion of the meeting, it's key.
  • Have an email list (or blog) that allows a lead up to the actual physical meeting. Giving people a chance to communicate about the book beforehand is useful and some people are more comfortable articulating themselves online. Plus, it fosters more in-depth communication because people can take their time to read, reflect, and react.
  • Everyone should bring in or discuss what they've been reading that month. After all, a book club isn't just about the book of the month, but connecting with people about reading in general. Show me your books!
As much as bibliophiles love books, it's just hard to talk about them sometimes isn't it? Maybe books by nature are supposed to be a solitary experience but once we've encountered something great, don't we want to share and talk about it? I sure do.

17 January 2008

Army of One

"She is pretty, blonde, she has all the characteristics of women... She seduces, she uses trickery rather than force to get results. She is incapable of telling a joke without blowing the punch line. She is a blabbermouth but only makes superficial comments. She is constantly creating enormous problems for the Smurfs but always manages to blame it on someone else."

One of the participants at the meeting asked: "Would she at least be able, when the Smurfs are in danger, to make a decision that can save them?" When I translated this to Peyo, he looked astounded. "Come on now, do they expect me to make her a (female) gym teacher?"
-The Smurfs' creator on Smurfette-

15 January 2008

Charlie Wilson's War (2007)

It must suck to be Philip Seymour Hoffman and resigned to taking supporting actor roles (until recently) knowing that but for a twist of genetics, you could be a huge movie star. Hoffman's acting chops were finally revealed to the world in Capote but since then he's been a little quiet eh? He steals every scene he's in during this movie and I'm psyched to see him paired with Laura Linney in "The Savages" -- one of the few films left on my must-see list from 2007.

The script for Charlie Wilson's glitters of course because it's by Aaron Sorkin (A Few Good Men, The American President, The West Wing) and most of the acting is spot on; I'm starting to love that Amy Adams. However, the whole movie was a bit light in explaining character's motivations and seemed to leave out too much historical background for the layman. Then again, why blame someone else for my lack of world history knowledge?

Most importantly, Lilly subletted her house to one of the actresses in the movie. She plays a prominent role but you'll have to ask Lilly who exactly it was.

10 January 2008

Marvel Re-Inventions

Gallery 1988 in LA is showing works inspired by Stan Lee's creations titled "Under the Influence: A Tribute to Stan Lee." I love the Wolverine as squirrel one.

If you're a big comic geek like me, this is the art show of the year. If you're really uninformed like me, you totally missed it. But thanks to Brian (still embittered against comics due to a childhood incident) I'm now totally on top of it and will plan to check out the show asap.

Last year, Gallery 1988 presented "Remixing the Magic," which featured artists' reinterpretations of Disney works. Of course, I missed that too but the pictures sure looked awesome.

And since you're already in LA, you might as well swing through the Murakami exhibit at the MOCA too. Get some (pop) culture!

07 January 2008

Single-Serving Friends: Apply Here

I'm 29, currently unemployed, living at my mom's house, and interested in nothing longer than one drink of your choice -- be it alchoholic, smoothie related, bubble tea, or coffee. Nothing's more exciting than ten minute friendships don't you think?

We won't be swapping last names, phone numbers, emails, AIMs, social networking profiles, or anything beyond general cordialities. We could swap mix CDs however, if you're so inclined.

Things we won't be talking about:
  • The future
  • How boring our jobs are (remember, I'm jobless)
  • How our weekends went
  • The truth about cats & dogs
  • The weather
Things we could talk about:
  • How you came to live in San Diego and what you think of it
  • Top five interesting tidbits about yourself or your personal history (please pre-rank)
  • Great movies/music/things you've recently seen
  • Amazing food places that nobody else knows about
  • "How weird this is..."; if we keep it brief
Pic for pic because otherwise we'll just be two strangers standing near each other, really confused about who we're meeting. "Age ain't nothing but a number" but in this case it would be nice if we were within shouting range of each other's ages -- for census purposes, of course.

PS - A cigarette meeting would be possible, but shouldn't we at least pretend to be trying to quit so soon after the New Year?

02 January 2008

Atonement (2007)

This was a book club selection from some years back. Neither Lilly or I could get through it. We thought it would be appropriate to view the film version in case we missed something. Even with people in our row getting out of their seats two or three times to fetch popcorn, etc. I don't think we missed much. Talk about a sad story that just keeps getting sadder.

It's a shame such a beautiful movie has to make you wonder what you just spent two hours in the theatre for and how you'll find a nearby happy pool to jump into. I'm all for tragic endings but c'mon, a few rainbows can't hurt can it? I will say that the movie is engrossing for its full running length though, which is praise enough.

I kinda feel like Keira Knightley and James McAvoy would make good leads for a remake of The Great Gatsby in a few years. I wonder if Keira only does English period dramas...