Rumble In The Bronx - Movie Review

Rumble In The Bronx
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I realize that my review for the recent film Black Swan is filled with big words and strange ideas. Now I'll level with you, I'm a simple man. Big words scare me. I'm not really sure where that came from. I can't even pronounce most of those words correctly on any given day, and when I do I'm probably mistaking that word for one that better describes the cheap bean and cheese burrito I just bought. So today I decided to review a film that really requires no words, a film in fact, that was probably written without any words whatsoever. This film, my friends, is the 1995 masterpiece Rumble In The Bronx starring Jackie Chan.

In this tour de force emotional roller coaster of a picture, Jackie Chan abandons his career as a police officer in Hong Kong to attend his uncle's marriage to a large black woman, leaving Jackie in charge of his store while the two leave for their honeymoon. If only Jackie Chan knew that a street gang has hidden stolen diamonds in the wheelchair cushion of a disabled boy living in the same neighborhood.

I cannot even attempt to understand the brilliant minds that went into crafting this story, which I should also add involves Jackie Chan at one point stealing a Delorean, fastening a large sword out of its door, and then proceeding to charge towards a massive hovercraft in the middle of the city. How someone comes up with this I'll never know. I'm like an ant hanging onto the rope of the Goodyear blimp.

Although the film was clearly made in the 1990's, after the technological breakthroughs seen in films such as Jurassic Park, stylistically Rumble In The Bronx appears to be a pure product of the 80's due to the colorful costuming, obviously dubbed voices, and unfortunate haircuts. In terms of the script the dialogue is crafted beautifully, especially in regards to the disabled boy who, after being thrown from his wheelchair by a group of gangsters, repeatedly whines "MY CUSHION!" despite all other concerns that a rational person in that situation would otherwise be preoccupied with.

Of course, Rumble In The Bronx is all about action. If you came to see Jackie Chan jump out of a truck filled with multicolored balls just in time for the truck to be pushed off of a building and send balls scattering through the streets, then you, my friend, know exactly what you came to see. In fact, you were very specific.

All in all, Rumble In The Bronx is one of the most satisfying viewing experiences I have ever had the pleasure to share with my friends. If you've never seen it, then I think you need to take a stroll through this majestic piece of history.


Black Swan - Movie Review

Black Swan
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I consider it rare to witness a film so fully consumed by its own sense of raw dissonance, but Black Swan certainly hits the target. The iconic and soothing music by Tchaikovsky clashes violently with the fragmented and tortured soul of a ballerina who in turn projects her own strained psyche against her seemingly pristine environment. It could be argued that she is simply a victim of her surroundings, responding to a career centered fully on perfection yet demanding of spontaneity, playing part in a family relationship that demands intimacy yet in that demand negates its own value. This is someone who is drawn to revolt against what she has become, and it's not an easy process to go through.

The film focuses on Nina, a promising ballerina who takes aim for the central role of Swan Lake. Technically perfect in her technique, she only lacks that certain something that can only be attained by lifetime experiences. At home she is comforted by her mother, who dresses her wounds and tucks her in at night. It's a relationship that is taken so correctly to the point that it becomes terribly wrong. Behind stage she is haunted by another dancer, Lily, who, while lacking what Nina has in her technique, makes up for in spades with her strong personality. Let's also not forget the setting, New York City, which here is captured only in the sparse area on the edge of the tightly composed frames.

Nina is played by Natalie Portman, and I assume little more needs to be said for her performance. This character becomes very much a real person, with something very complicated and troubling lurking just beneath the surface. Her descent is a gradual, yet thoroughly convincing one. Let's also not forget that this film is also directed by Darren Aronofsky, who here somehow manages to combine all that he has learned from Pi, Requiem for a Dream, The Fountain, and The Wrestler into one film. You can probably guess that the ending isn't altogether happy, but there is something else there too.

The film is composed masterfully. Just listen to the sound design, or take notice of some of this editing. Special effects tend to have their problems, but here they seem to sneak their way into the one corner where you least expect it, be it in a painting or something as simple as goosebumps. Of course I did have to ask myself just how many times Natalie Portman needed to unexpectedly turn around in the mirror before it became scary again, but that's a bit of a lame point in the big picture. The whole film is designed for that single pang of anxiety to grow into a throttling hurricane. When it's over, you won't quite find it left without leaving that heavy feeling in your chest. That's just part of why it's so good, and part of why it's so good when it's over.

This One's For You

Merry Christmas!


So Very Busy

I don't like being a busy person. It cuts in on the quality time I would otherwise spend playing Halo or watching strange Japanese commercials on youtube, such as this one below:

I completely understand this.

This week has been a surprisingly busy one. Yesterday Beth had a doctors appointment scheduled at the same time as my job interview so we had to deal with the delicate task of attending both at the same time with only one poorly working car and one cell phone. What I realized too late however was that I had no idea how to get to the office I was interviewing at. Luckily for me, there's my old friend Google, which as it turns out is also my arch nemesis.

I left Beth at her appointment along with our cell phone in case there was some sort of terrible mishap like an exploding x-ray machine. I wasn't sure who she would call if that were the case, but I figured it would probably be for the best. After I went off on my own I was slightly confused as to why the building I had an interview at was located in a back alley behind a hospital and was also completely abandoned. Considering that I did hear about the job off of craigslist, I didn't think much of it at first, but at some point I had to wise up to the fact that Google had done me wrong.

I returned to the doctors office to take back my phone, but then realized that I never saved the phone number of my interviewer. Thinking logically (which is unusual for me) I decided that this problem could be solved simply by calling every phone number on my recently called list.

Confident with this plan, I began calling.

There was a strange, almost surreal moment when I realized that I heard a nearby phone ring at the same time I began calling. Although it didn't click with me immediately, I realized I had made a terrible mistake when the receptionist picked up her receiver and I heard both in person and over the speaker of my own phone her ask, "How may I direct your call?"

"Ahhhhhhh, sorry," I tried to quietly mumble before I quickly hung up.

I sat quietly for a moment while Beth gave me a confused look, and the receptionist, equally confused, set down her receiver and returned to work.

I decided then that I should probably leave.

I did manage to find the office, promptly twenty minutes after my initial interview time, but felt satisfied with the results. Multitasking isn't easy, but it can be done. Just as long as you're willing to completely embarrass yourself.


Well. I'm Sold.

Cowboys AND Aliens? I'm not sure if I could ask for more.
...Maybe time travel and velociraptors? One can dream I suppose. One can dream...


Cinderella Man

Although I still have yet to hear back from any of the jobs I have applied to, I have managed to start off this week by auditioning for the local production of Cinderella. I was a bit disappointed to hear that this version of the tale has neither the cute mice of the Disney version nor the disturbing foot-binding of the Chinese version, yet I gladly got to read the part for Prince Charming a few times (The role I was born to play!). I'll let you know how it all turns out.

In the meantime, cherish these pretty pictures Beth took when we visited Yosemite. A magical place that I can only usually pronounce as Yoseemeaty, or Yusemetay.

Nothing says mountain man like a leopard backpack.

I really really like her.

I mean, really like like her.


Beth has many more very pretty pictures that she's still editing together on my very slow laptop that shuts down if the cord so much as wiggles a tad too far from the wall (which kind of defeats the purpose of a laptop), so I'll let her reveal all the majestic splendor herself later. I have to say, the fresh air was something I never realized I really craved. After many years I'm starting to realize that I'm a nature guy after all. I like it.


Sickness and Such

Thanks a lot, Children. You managed to get me sick again. Aren't you happy with yourself? I hope you are. Jerks. Then again, I can't blame you. You're cute, cuddly, and easy to entertain if you like being held upside down from your ankles.

Luckily it was only an over-night fever that knocked me unconscious, but after being unemployed for several weeks and having my food stamps on hold for some reason, I thought I already had enough sick days to relax and managed to get out of bed long enough to drop off another web design application.

My sweet wife meanwhile has been feeling down and out lately after also getting sick from said children and suffering from chest pain and headaches. She made it out to visit the doctor last week who quickly ordered tests of all sorts, including blood samples, an EKG, an X-Ray, and, most dreadful of all, a stool sample. Considering that I pass-out from any sort of blood loss, I was thankfully not there to witness any of these. I did however have the task of delivering the stool samples to the doctors office.

Now, I'm not sure if you've ever taken a stool sample before. Lord knows I haven't. But I'm fairly certain you've never taken someone else's stool sample to turn in to the doctor for them. Since I was going out anyway to job hunt I figured I could knock out two birds with one stone and spare my wife the embarrassment of saying "Here is my poop" to some nurse.

As I carried the sample into the office I thought that on some not-too-distant level it was basically the same as leaving a paper bag of flaming dog poo on someone's front porch in the middle of the night. Except in this case it's the middle of the day, the person is right there to take it, it's your poo, and they actually thank you for it afterwards. In some ways it was kind of the greatest prank of all.

(This image was all I could find when Igoogle image searched "Flaming bag poop." It makes me think that Martha Stewart is one sick lady.)

I brought the samples to the nurse in a plastic grocery bag, since the idea of walking into a room with two test tubes of poop in each hand just didn't seem right to me. What I didn't expect was the nurse to be accompanied by another woman who was in the process of having her blood taken.

In fear of passing out, I quickly placed the test tubes onto the counter and ran away.

At least I knew that the drop-off was complete. Am I a good husband? Maybe. I probably lose some points for writing about it online. But I tried. And now if you'll excuse me, I have to delete this story from my Facebook newsfeed.


Frozen - Movie Review


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You can't help but give Frozen an "A" for effort. This is a good movie, and it's good precisely because it's something you haven't seen before onscreen, but have certainly thought about on those family ski trips from long ago. It takes an understated fear and then highlights it, and although on some level it may be like taking someone's fear of getting their shoelace stuck in an escalator and then stretching it out for a feature length film, on another level Frozen manages to throw together enough elements to keep us interested.

At first Joe isn't so excited to have Dan's girlfriend Parker tag along for a Sunday afternoon ski trip, but when she manages to bribe three lift tickets out of a somewhat sleazy resort employee, Joe starts to come around. It isn't until the three sneak on the lift for one last run that the weekend escape makes a turn for the worse. The somewhat sleazy employee leaves his post, the new guy mistakes three other skiers for the three he was told to wait for. He hits the off switch, kills the lights, and Dan, Joe, and Parker are left swinging on the lift far above nature. This wouldn't be so bad, if there wasn't a blizzard approaching and the resort wasn't only open on the weekends, but as it happens that's the case. They have an entire week to look forward to.

It's a great "what would you do?" situation. One thought is to drop. Another is to perform a quick high-wire act and make way to one of the support poles. Of course, all these might be a little bit more complicated if wolves were involved.

If only MacGyver were here. I had assumed that Parker's smoking habit might have proved useful since she has a lighter, or that some secondary uses could have come in handy for the team's ski gear, or maybe that the phone number they tried so hard to remember might come into play. Unfortunately there aren't a lot of improvised inventions to come in handy. Then again, it seems that most of their equipment is thrown off into the snowy abyss in vain attempts to gather attention.

Great films often require characters to come face-to-face with apparent dead-ends. In these situations you can either have those characters use a tool they picked up earlier on, have them crawl through the dead end with nothing but their fingers, have a magical happening to show them another way out, or just watch them squirm. Frozen has one dead-end, but uses just about all of these to keep us interested.

If only it wasn't so frustrating to watch these characters reminisce about childhood memories when what they should be doing is getting off the freaking ski lift they're trapped on. These people seriously need to get their priorities straight.

Frozen is often intense, sometimes quite gross, but very much different and entertaining. I must say that the variety of deaths (even with the few deaths involved) in the end lacked a sort of creativity. But maybe I was thinking this was another Final Destination. Still, it was worth watching, and even better, I'm sure I'll be thinking about it on my next ski trip.


How We Do Halloween

After purchasing a large quantity of womens clothing from Salvation Army, my Willy Wonka costume was complete.
Beth meanwhile struck Halloween gold with her costume as the chocolate river.

Together, I think it was magic.

Luckily, the jacket hid the shoulder pads.

If anyone wants to join us, we also managed to gather together an entire Oompa Loompa costume that has yet to be used.

As for our pumpkins, this year we celebrated the two most important things in our life: our cat Georgie Fruit and the 1982 feature film E.T. The Extraterrestrial.

The Georgie Fruit pumpkin I designed turned out to be a little "too hot for TV," so we kept it inside. But I must say I'm very pleased with the results:

The inspiration:

Meanwhile, the E.T. that Beth carved pretty much blew my mind:

Now on to the next hoiday!


See Any Resemblance?

This is me doing my best Dennis Quaid.


A Chihuahua On Main Street

I had once won a small spelling contest in a creative writing class with the word Chihuahua, but apart from that I can't say I have a great respect for the breed. They are small, yappy, extremely active, and often result in The Dog Whisperer slapping his head in frustration. But yet, the Chihuahua is still considered a dog, and as such it only seems right to help one when it is in need.

As Beth and I drove down Main Street of Visalia, we saw one such Chihuahua dive in and out of traffic repeatedly. We drove slowly by as it wandered aimlessly and frightened down the sidewalk. There was no apparent owner in sight.

Pictured Above: Artists Rendering

Here I was struck with the dilemma of either helping a dog, or aiding in the evolution of the rest of species by letting it get wiped out of existence. Unfortunately my conscience resolved that an annoying yappy dog alive was at least better than a silent ugly dog dead, and so I stopped the car on the side of the road and attempted a quick rescue.

What I soon learned is that Chihuahua's are incredibly sensitive, and although it was a safe half-block away, it would repeatedly stop in its tracks and stare vacantly in my direction until I made any sort of movement, at which point the runt would shoot off in a full sprint down the street. I attempted a variety of approaches; whistling, saying "here doggie!" in a high voice, and making ticking noises with my tongue, but all I managed to do was gather more confused onlookers.

A group of business men outside of a bank eventually asked me after my first cycle around the block if the dog was mine. At first I was a little shocked and briefly considered asking if I looked like the sort of guy who would own a mangy chihuahua.
In fear of the answer I just said no.

After I had followed the dog four times down the same street a strange idea began to form in my head. I asked myself, "Am I, a human, faster than a Chihuahua?" After all, I am a man. A hunter, even. I imagined that thousands of years ago I would be hunting Chihuahua's in the African plains, steadying my spear until I would suddenly pounce, wrestling said Chihuahua into the ground. I would possibly even eat it right there. Raw.

Suddenly disturbed by the mental image, I pushed it out of my mind and began running.

The Chihuahua, meanwhile, turned at this moment to see me barreling towards him. Terrified, he turned and ran.

The chase was on.

I of course realized at this moment that my previous jobs have been web design opportunities, and I actually hadn't ran in several months, if not a year. Suddenly I was confused as to how exactly it was done. My legs seemed to be moving just fine, but what about the arms? I began mechanically moving them up and down, not unlike I was repeatedly pulling levers.

"Would it be better if I ran like the T-1000 from Terminator 2?" I thought.

My wife gazed at me while I flailed my body at the highest speed it was capable of, which is, as it happens, less than one third the speed of a Chihuahua.

As I rounded the corner it was gone, leaving behind only a vagabond tumbleweed blowing aimlessly in the wind.

Beth and I hopped back in the car and returned home.

A few nights later I was driving to the grocery store when I saw him again, the same Chihuahua staring at me from a lonely street corner, illuminated only by one single fluorescent light. From behind the wheel of Beth's Toyota my eyes met his, and between us we shared the same bit of knowledge:

The chase isn't over.


The Social Network - Movie Review


The Social Network
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Maybe it was the overwhelming sense of pure ambition, but the film The Social Network might as well have been a modern retelling of The Fountainhead. True, with the architect in this case being Mark Zuckerberg, who built his skyscraper of Facebook on the digital foundation of the internet and has yet to see it fall. It's quite a wonder to see an invention go from an idea to a universally known verb, especially when it happens so quickly. This is however, a story of ambition, how ambition can be fiercely opposed by both enemies and friends, and how that ambition can tragically turn to isolation.

The story begins with a harsh break-up between Zuckerberg and his girlfriend Erica Albright. Mark's mind is simply focused on something else and that something else turns into the vengeful "Facemash," a hot-or-not photo comparison site that narrowed down the women of Harvard from most attractive to least. It was as successful as it was inappropriate, just like most terrible things on the internet. Although he very well could have gone on to create the next "two girls one cup," instead Zuckerberg was approached by a group of Harvard crew members to create a private online network for students of the university. Suddenly the idea for an online gated community outside the sketchy slums of MySpace became planted in Zuckerberg's mind, and he ran with it. And since he was doing all the hard work himself, he left the crew boys to fend for themselves.

So the story of the social network is structured around the various legal battles that ensued after Facebook.com rose to success (after it changed from TheFacebook.com). Had it only been a legal drama this film would have only been vaguely interesting, but the film packs an emotional punch with those who invested their friendship in the leader of Facebook. Namely Eduardo (played by Andrew Garfield), who stuck with Facebook from the beginning until the Napster elite Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake) began chiming in and Eduardo's own legal battle entered the playing field.

The script is long (approximately 166 pages), but the actors are fast (cutting the runtime down to 121 minutes). Words are spit out faster than even Twitter could handle, but their impact is somehow never lost. That might just be a reflection upon how good these actors really are. There are plenty of memorable speeches here, but I couldn't help but think of the somewhat recent film August which featured Josh Hartnett in the role of an internet start-up millionaire whose bubble bursts just after he realizes that his internet company doesn't actually "do" anything at all. This movie is better, to be honest (although August does feature a pretty sweet cameo of David Bowie), but those looking for a film further down The Social Network alley might find it worth exploring.

As far as the "true story" behind Facebook is concerned, The Social Network may very well take its share of liberties. Considering that few people actually know what those liberties are, and I myself didn't really question any of the actions as completely fabricated, it's really beside the point. This is a story filled with characters, some social and some rather antisocial, and the hands they played in the construction of a network that surpassed all others.

See it.


Life In Visalia

Sometimes you have to sit back and ask yourself what exactly you're doing with your life. I found a perfect moment for this tonight as Beth combed the dandruff out of my hair in her backyard while I reclined in a chair and ate a chili hot dog. How did I get here?

We live in Visalia now, which, if you haven't heard of it before, it's the place that Kevin Costner spent a high school semester before going off to appear in such ground breaking roles as that guy who drank his own pee in Waterworld. Otherwise I think a controversial semi-pornographic indie movie was shot here once too. I don't recommend you watch it. But even without those first two landmarks, Visalia is still actually a pretty awesome place to be.

What I tend to love most is the food. The chili dog I ate whilst having my hair de-dandruffed was from a place called Taylors. I'm not really sure why these little wieners from a tiny stand on the side of main street are so mind blowing, but somehow when you mix barbecue chips into the equation they pretty much become a reason in and of themselves never to move away. Close-by there's also a Mexican place called Colima's that has bean and cheese burrito's that are just as mind blowing despite their simplicity. And let's not even get into the crazy awesome and mostly crazy Indian restaurant down the road where all sorts of goodies will be ordered on your behalf whether you asked for them or not.

Other than that though Visalia can be a rough town if you happen to be looking for a job that doesn't involve picking walnuts or preparing food (but never preparing walnuts for food which strikes me as slightly suspicious). As of lately I've been looking into tutoring jobs in the area since I've always wanted to show inner-city kids that's more to life than ghost riding the whip by dramatically whispering "carpe diem" into their ears and then being shot.

There's a lot I'm looking forward to. Especially the winter weather which I hear can get so intense that schools get canceled on behalf of "fog days." I'm hoping that a downturn in the dry climate might help out with the whole dandruff problem I have going on, which right now is like a blizzard in October. Part of me feels like I should say, who knows where we'll end up next? But a greater part of me is hoping that we can end up where we are. In the meantime, it's at least nice to know I'm happy wherever I am.


The History of Food: Drumstick Edition

As far as I can tell not nearly enough is written about the Drumstick, possibly the greatest dessert ever invented. So I foolishly thought late tonight I would delve into where this miraculous food came from.

The origin of the ice cream cone remains to be disputed, however some common threads lie beneath each story and from that we can deduce that the cone, with its sole purpose being to hold ice cream, originated in the early 1900's, at The World's Fair, was likely developed by a Syrian pastry maker, and was allegedly developed on the spot to aid in the sales of a nearby ice cream vendor who ran out of dishes and I imagine was desperately spooning the ice cream directly into his customers bare hands.

It is largely accepted that this man was Ernest A. Hamwi who developed the cone for his friend Arnold Fornachou. However this isn't a history lesson, this is about how that cone, coated in chocolate, filled with ice cream, and sprinkled with nuts, got in your hand.

The cone itself is comprised of wheat flour, tapioca flour, and sugar. The tapioca flour is derived from the root of the cassava plant. This plant is native to South America yet has since largely been exported from Africa, where as of 2002, 99.1 million tonnes of the resource was grown. This is likely because the plant does well with thriving upon poor soil and with little rainfall. So basically anyone can grow it as long as they don't live in a place worse than Africa. Which they don't. Because Africa is the worst place in the entire world.

No other country depends upon the growth of root crops, specifically the cassava root, as much as the continent of Africa. In fact, in the African language of Ewe, the word for the cassava plant "agbeli" literally translates into "there is life." Funny, since if the cassava root is eaten raw it will likely cause severe cyanide poisoning, especially if the root is grown in a drought. Keep in mind, a 40 mg dose of cassava cyanogenic glucoside is sufficient to kill a cow. So next time you bite into a cone, just imagine a cow abruptly tipping over.

Yet in the end it is so worth it.

This is all harvested by hand, by method of pulling the roots out of the ground and being severed from the plant itself. If processed incorrectly, the cassava root can cause major environmental damage. In Africa the traditional method is that the roots are peeled and fermented for three days (to promote nutrition), after which they are dried and cooked in palm oil for preservation. But the cassava root has to be processed quickly since it rapidly deteriorates, ironically since the root attempts to heal itself. The challenge with exporting is that this process occurs just 15 minutes after being harvested, so the root must either be coated in wax or frozen.

Then it is imported to the cone manufacturer in bags, as is the sugar. The wheat flour meanwhile is imported by the truckload and then is unloaded by means of air pressure into large storage silos. Before this however, wheat flour has to be milled, or "stone-ground" in which a revolving stone wheel rotates over another stationary wheel. The flour dust itself when suspended in air is explosive and can result in tragic accidents. This was the case in 1878 at the Washburn "A" Mill in Minneapolis MN where a single spark demolished the mill and instantly killed 14 workers, resulted in the deaths of 4 additional people, and destroyed five other mills.

If you feel bad right now then you are very much like me after watching several episodes of "How It's Made," or "Dirty Jobs," or any show of the sort on the Discovery channel. It's understandable. Already hundreds of people have died so that you can open your refrigerator, grab an ice cream cone, sit on your couch, and then watch something on the television you will forget about while you consume a treat you probably won't even remember the next day. Don't beat yourself up about it.

Just keep in mind that right now we have the dry ingredients for only the cone (not including baking soda which is processed through numerous vacuums and centrifuges), and not the ice cream, the chocolate coating, the caramel at the center, and those tasty nuts sprinkled on the top.

Since baking soda reacts to water it is added last after the water and shortening are combined with the coloring and flavoring. After this the ingredients are ready to be processed.

This is all well and good, but what we don't often think about is the fact that the chocolate shell to the Drumstick was a necessary invention for the ice cream cone to
enter the home. The coating is actually a mixture of chocolate, oil, and sugar, and it acts as an insulator for the ice cream cone to be stored in a grocers freezer. This process was developed by brothers I.C. and J.T. "Stubby" Parker of Fort Worth, Texas in 1928. I don't know how he got that nickname (perhaps one of his fingers found its way to being the caramel center of the cone?), the world may never know. What we do know, courtesy of the Nestle company who later bought the name, is that Parker's wife thought the finished product looked like a "Fried chicken leg," and hence the name "Drumstick" was born. Since an ice cream cone looks nothing like a chicken leg I take that to mean that Parker's wife was also blind and/or mentally retarded.

This seemingly simple invention was responsible for the ice cream cone to be stored and sold as a single item and I'm sure resulted in numerous ice cream cone scientists slapping their foreheads at once and cursing as to why they never thought of it.

Which is coincidentally what I am doing right now after realizing I could have graduated from college as an ice cream cone scientist.

Recently the Drumstick has evolved in Canada and Australia to have no waffle cone at all and instead just an extra solid chocolate shell. And if that isn't enough of a reason to move to Canada or Australia, I don't know what is.


Well. My Mind Has Been Blown.

If I was asked who would be the best person in the world to perform a highly choreographed slow-motion dance routine, I would first ask "why?" and then say "probably someone in Japan." Well, it's happened. And it's awesome.

Well played Japan. Well played.


Miniature Tigers - Bullfighter Jacket

After seeing Miniature Tigers perform live in LA, I kind of overdosed on their goodness. It probably had something to do with the fact that I ended up listening to their EP album on every single car ride. Ever since, I've been waiting to hear what they would come up with next. Their latest music video combines two things that I love, catchy tunes and Where's Waldo. And I like it.

"Bullfighter Jacket" by Miniature Tigers

Miniature Tigers | MySpace Music Videos


Five Years

Well, it finally happened. I got invited to my five year high school reunion. Am I going to go? I'm just not sure. I think it really depends on what kind of semi-useless invention I can find to claim as my own idea and somewhat impress that no good principal of mine. Even though I don't remember his name and never actually talked to him, I bet he's a real stuck up jerk who would've hated it if I had covered the school statue of Walt Whitman with women's panties. I mean, if our school had a statue, if I knew who Walt Whitman was, or if I even knew how to obtain a massive collection of panties. They seem expensive.

So far I've narrowed it down to a few options:

1. Those little plastic things on the end of shoelaces.
2. The lids of Asprin bottles that you have to push down before opening.
3. That button thing on batteries that you press your thumb against to see if it has any life left.
4. Dinosaurs.

I can't really make up my mind. In any case, I might just fall back to my plan of hiring a shirtless Abercrombie male model to go in my place and say I worked out a lot in college.

"Hey I'm definitely Zack Newcoat or whatever. Yeah, as you can see, I play soccer now. Uh... Yeah. I mean, that's what we call football in England, where I live now. Everything there is backwards and it's awesome. Now let's party. Newcoat style."

To be honest, I'm not really sure if it would work. Especially since I have no means of hiring my first choice Josh Groban as my stand-in.

But all in all, I never really needed to. I'm happy where I am in my life. I'm married to a wonderful girl, living in New York, and patiently awaiting to be reunited with my cat Georgie Fruit. The fact is, I have it really good, even if I never did manage to invent dinosaurs or those cinnamon scented pinecones that turn up around Christmas time. Even if I never do (although I assume there are still so many things that I could make cinnamon scented) I'll still be happy. Maybe it's just me, but I'm really looking forward to what the next five years will bring too.


The House of the Devil - Movie Review

The House of the Devil
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It's a real shame there aren't more horror movies like The House of the Devil, although, if you were to find some, I suppose you would find them hiding in the 80's. It seems only right that this particular film is executed in that style. You won't find anything in the way of special effects apart from the occasional surprise in the way of exploding makeup, and when that makeup turns up the story jumps to a whole new level. What we have here is a film that really requires very little in the way of a budget. What we're most afraid of it what's left hidden behind closed doors, and this isn't the kind of instance in which one would want to be barging in to find out what's lurking in the darkness. This is a film about a reasonable college student who knows better than to disturb the person they are hired to cared for, for better or for worse. In this case, much worse.

Samantha is desperate to make the measly deposit on her first apartment, and so she replies on a whim to the first baby sitting position she notices. Luckily for her, Samantha's best friend has already taken the liberty of taking down the rest of the flyers hanging around campus to dissuade any other potential rivals, but there's a distinct feeling that it wouldn't make much of a difference anyway. Something about the whole proposition is simply off kilter. Maybe it's the fact that she isn't watching over a baby at all, but over an elderly woman who seems locked away in her own room on the second floor of a creepy mansion, on the night of a lunar eclipse no less. Granted, I would take four hundred bucks for the job, wouldn't you?

It's easy to make a horror film with dumb characters, but what's hard (and far more terrifying) is making a horror film with characters who seem perfectly reasonable. Would I do anything different in Samantha's position? I'm really not sure. Free pizza sounds pretty good to me, even if the old man hiring me for the job mentions it one too many times. Only once, I think, is the viewer granted a glance at what lurks behind the walls of this haunted mansion, but even then it's too far to turn back. The film keeps a slow but steady pace up until it's final conclusion, but people are cautious, and usually for good reasons. I might say that the beginning feels a bit sluggish, but having seen so many other 80's horror films, it actually is pretty spot on. Is that a good thing? Have horror films of today been benefitted by a shorter attention span? Maybe, but a sense of tension can never find a suitable replacement. Just wait a while until the film takes a short detour for a quick cigarette break in a cemetery. This is a horror film that wants to acquaint you to a normal world in which terrible things can happen. And it works.

Spoilers might follow, but I have to say the ending left me feeling a bit cheated inside. Maybe I found myself connecting to Samantha. Or maybe I've seen scary movies like Rosemary's Baby one too many times (and I've only seen it twice). Then again, I suppose that's just how it is with classic scary movies. Jason escapes, Jaws has babies, Alien has other Aliens, all in all the horror continues to see another sequel. This one probably won't get one, but it doesn't need to. I don't want it to. I'm scared enough as it is.
See it.



As is the way with most of the evenings that I have left work, I had already determined in my mind that I wouldn't be roped into another "Fashion Night" of any sort. Not again. Little did I realize that one such Fashion Night was already taking place just outside of the building I work at, the one and only Rockefeller Center.

Yes, I might have initially been enticed by the opportunity to see the editor of Vogue across the street, but as I was later wandering the halls of the nearby Lego store I discovered the prospect of free champagne being handed out at the nearby Banana Republic. By the time I picked up a free handbag filled with a variety of Aveeno lotions, I knew it was too late. Fashion Night had consumed me with a passion for free goodies, and I would not be satisfied until I was filled to the brim with the sweet taste of free champagne.

It was just like Halloween, except for adults who had lots of money to spend on clothing, or no money and wanted to pretend they were interested in buying a really expensive pair of shoes until someone came up to them with a tray filled with cupcakes or several champagne flutes.

Alas, the night led to myself posing drunkenly on the abandoned platform of a model along the red carpet.

While the sounds of laughing Japanese tourists made me feel right in my element, it was up to a local 30 Rock security guard to bring me back down to earth.

Do I have any regrets?

Perhaps this photo taken only moments afterward with a group of models can answer your question.

No. No I do not.


Corgi On Wheels

Of all the things I have seen in New York, I think it might be impossible to beat the sight of a corgi on wheels.

Adorable AND efficient. Frankly, I think all animals should adopt this method of transportation. I know I would.
I mean, if I were an animal.
Otherwise it would just be ridiculous.

I would have to run on my hands...


Jesus Jello

Some might say it's a waste of time and refrigerator space, but I say there's always room for Jello Jesus.

It was made out of a discarded plastic wrapper from a Jesus shaped nightlight that Beth and I bought at a dollar store a few days ago. Yes, I suppose it does ask some very interesting questions. Such as, is it wrong on some level to eat something shaped liked Jesus? Maybe to probably. But is it not just as wrong to eat jello in any other shape?

...I'll let you marinate on that one for a little while.

Yes, it did immediately turn back into some kind of formless blob immediately after I took it out of the plastic. But really, I think it's the thought that counts.


Curious Minotaur

My niece Emma just turned 11 this past week, and to commemorate the occasion she had a Percy Jackson themed birthday party. For those not in the know (like me), that means the party was basically in the theme of Greek mythology. Beth and I wanted to help out and were placed in charge of the tricky task of finding a pinata in the shape of a minotaur. Again, for those not in the know (me), a minotaur is basically an angry upright buffalo with a sword. See this image I used for reference below:

As you can probably imagine, finding something like that is not an easy task. So instead Beth and I decided to get the closest thing we could find:

A monkey pooping ribbons, aka: Curious George.

It was up to us to turn a fun-loving monkey into a stone-cold buffalo monster warrior. Luckily Beth majored in art and I majored in minotaurs or something.



No Internet, Thank YOU.

Something about a Chinchilla with a paper hat makes everything better.


Scott Pilgrim VS. The World - Movie Review

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Scott Pilgrim VS. The World

Like most video games, Scott Pilgrim VS. The World has its own kind of learning curve. It's fast, fanciful,and filled to the brim with visual and audial inventiveness. So fast, in fact, that the fervently delivered dialogue can sometimes scramble it's way through both ears without full comprehension or appreciation by the viewer. It's as close to animation as a live-action film can get, and it's as close to playing a video game as much as just watching someone else play it for you. There are so many things to like about the movie, and at the same time so many things that keep you just far enough away from the characters to fully enjoy it.

Scott is presented to us (partially through pop-up statistics) as a 22 year old slacker who passes his days by dating girls who would otherwise never give him the time of day. That's not to say he's without a sense of innocence. The quality time he spends with his high school girlfriend Knives is mostly spent on his bus ride tag-alongs, but with this innocence comes a sense of naivete. Scott has little backbone, and the constant barrage of insults he receives from his close friends lands in a place somewhere between pathetic and rightly deserved. One day he receives a vision of the hair-dyed girl of his dreams, and when that girl Ramona suddenly turns up Scott's interests veer suddenly away from the likes of Knives. A relationship seems to blossom just in time for Scott to realize he has to defeat each of Ramona's seven evil ex-boyfriends in glorious colorful battles.

Much like a video game, and the graphic novel that Scott Pilgrim VS. The World was based upon, the film is fairly episodic. Think of each boyfriend encounter as reaching the next level. For a comic, a game, and maybe a television show, I see this working. For a film, the structure doesn't quite fit. Yes, it may be epic, but even the epic of Homer's Odyssey defined the heroes journey as a finely calibrated form of storytelling. I suspect even the slightest variance, in the form of storytelling from comic book to screen, could result in armies from comic-con storming the home of director Edgar Wright, but if you're going to make a film, make a film.

There are things I wish I could have seen, time that could have been invested in strengthening the ties within this dramatic love triangle. Instead, the drama often hit me more along the lines of middle school interactions. I really liked all of these characters, but I wanted to see something happen between them aside from snarky dialogue and graphically represented sounds likes RIIIIIIING or BDDDDDDD. Maybe it's a personal preference to want moments of quiet beauty, but what I received mostly only remind me of an extended Japanese commercial.

This is where we're heading people.

All in all, Scott Pilgrim is still winning with it's charm and sheer enthusiasm. There is so much here to absorb and laugh with. There are beautiful and inventive touches in every corner of the screen, from the brilliant first image of the pixelated Universal logo, to the crashing waves of plastic cups in the midst of a bass guitar battle. I was smiling the whole time. I was honestly wondering how it would all pan out for our hero and his rather confusing love life, but simply knowing that the film had it's heart in the right place made everything worth it. Scott Pilgrim VS. The World is endearing, certainly enjoyable, and definitely worth seeing.


New York New York

As of lately I've been spending much of my time in the Big Apple waiting to interview for my next job, which I should emphasize is not another position at 7 Eleven. I'm starting to realize again that it takes some time to find employment, but the bright side is that I have an entire city to explore, and it seems that New York has no shortage of delicious nooks and crannys to be lathered in the sweet butter of discovery. I'm not sure what that means, maybe I'm hungry?

Beth and I have already made a trip up to the old dilapidated World's Fair grounds which have been hanging around since the 1960's (minus the massive dinosaurs that have since been shipped off to who knows where).

Here's what it looked like then:
retro RAWR!

I must admit that the first time I made a visit to yesterday's "world of tomorrow" I was very young and mostly motivated by watching Men In Black. On this second visit however I realized how awesome it really is. If anything can make a massive 12 story high metallic sculpture of the earth even more magnificent it's the addition of a Mr. Softee ice cream truck making circles at the bottom.

I wouldn't want to meet this guy in a dark alley... or would I?


Here's a picture Beth snagged of the Indian family who asked me to take their photo:

And here are some of my lovely wuv:

I'm liking it here.



I invite you to close your eyes and imagine, if you will, using the basement toilet at my Dad's house. It's been a long night. You've been stuck in the house all day feeling sick to your stomach, hopped up on several tablespoons of childrens Tylenol, and eating nothing but saltines. At times like these you need to sit back and appreciate the finer things in life. Relax. Enjoy. Just let your body do all the work and oh my GOD WHAT IS THAT?!

Don't let the picture fool you. That is most certainly the biggest spider I have ever seen outside of a cage or horror movie. Don't believe me? Here, let me post a picture that will on your computer monitor (given that you don't wear a monocle and smoke hundred dollar bills like cigars) provide our spider friend a more life-like scale image.


Yes, it's lucky I saw this while on the toilet, since it literally scared the crap out of me. However, leaving the bathroom became a suddenly strenuous affair as I attempted to quietly jump up onto the toilet and edge my way out of the bathroom door. Did I imagine it suddenly leaping towards my face and making a hissing sound? Yes. Did I also consider yelling for my sick wife to come downstairs and kill it? Also yes. When it all comes down to it though, the most important thing is that I closed the basement door and shoved several towels between the cracks to ensure that whatever evil is locked away, stays locked away.