Sunday, February 07, 2010

Nature of Humanity and parking spots

It's now about 6am on a cold snowy morning. The day after a record setting snowfall in the area.
I write this now, because I can't get back to sleep - for fear of worrying about my truck.
Let me explain...
I live in an apartment complex with a parking lot.
When it snows of any reasonable amount, the parking lot becomes a mess.
The reason being, is that the complex sends a plow around to clear the streets - that sounds good right? Well, what it does is - it plows the snow up and blocks in every person parked in the parking lot. Now here's the thing... when you have to dig out your car (or pick-up truck in my case), there's no place to throw the snow. You have to walk the length of your car for every shovelful and dump the snow in front of (or behind) the vehicle. It's a real pain.
In the years that I've lived here, I've seen people, who are either lazy, or inconsiderate, or just plain both do the following... rather than walk that car length, to dump the snow, they simply throw the snow behind (or in front of) the car next to them! I don't see it happen often, but at least once every major snowstorm.
Now, this brings me to why I'm writing this...
I woke up around 4:45am and couldn't get back to sleep, so I happened to get up, and look out my front window. Wait... let me back up here a minute... I dug out my truck early in the morning yesterday. I have a 4x4 truck - aka 4-wheel-drive. So as a benefit of that, I don't have to spend too much time clearing out the snow behind my truck. I'm able to drive over most of it - within reason. So that's what I did. I cleaned off the sides, the snow actually on my truck, and most of the snow behind my truck.
Ok back to this morning...
I glance out the window, and see that someone has dug out the back of my truck, almost clear down to the pavement! Wow! Was someone that nice to me? helping out a fellow neighbor? As I was sitting here, trying to figure out who that neighbor was... it hit me... The SUV/Van next to me, is completely plowed in - and I realized... They didn't dig ME out to be nice and neighborly, they dug ME out for REVENGE!
I remembered as I was digging out, my neighbor came out too and was digging out his car (I think it was a Prius). I put 2+2 together and saw that the vehicle next to me was a blue/black SUV. That's when I realized... the guy who dug his car out this morning, came back to "his" spot, and someone had taken it. I know, I know... it's not HIS parking spot, but it's like an unwritten rule in apartment complexes that if someone digs out their car, it's "their" spot. Some people put up folding chairs, to "mark their territory" as their spot.
As someone who has been in that exact situation, I've been pissed off too! The nerve of someone taking your spot, after you spent hours digging it out, is beyond frustrating.
So that's when I realized what happened. He's a younger guy, I think there might be a couple of roomates there, and while I didn't see this happen, I can garauntee you they probably were angry, and decide to teach the guy a lesson, and RE-shovel him back in.
So now, I put 2+2+2 together and think - wait a minute... IF the guy comes out later today and sees MY spot empty, and his spot full - he's going to think that I was the inconsiderate person who just moved my snow to behind his vehicle! Would he take some sort of revenge now on my vehicle?! Would he "key it" with a nice long scratch?! Would he smack his snow-shovel into the side and possibly dent it?! Ugh. So these are the thoughts now running through my head, and preventing me from getting back to sleep.
Now, I'll have to try and keep a 24 hour watch on my vehicle to see how the guy reacts, and possibly confront him and try and explain, "It wasn't me!"

The joy's of living in an apartment complex.

Update: All was fine. I decided to go back to bed and not worry about what might happen. In the end, nothing happened, and when I checked out my window around noon, there was a different vehicle parked there, and some heavy equipment had been brought in to actually remove the snow via a backhoe.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

deleting blogger comments

This is more of a note to myself, but perhaps someone else will find it too.

I keep having trouble remembering how to delete spam comments from my blog.
There is "supposed" to be a "trash can" icon next to a comment, that allows the blog owner (me) to remove unwanted comments. But there is a trick to getting to it!
First a special thanks to this original blog post that taught me how to get to the trash can icon.

1) Sign into your account (if not already).
2) view your blog.
3) in the sidebar where the it says "blog archive" and shows the history of your blog posts, click on the MONTH of the post that you wish to delete from.
4) NOW... when you look at the posts for that month, at the bottom of each post is a new link that says "1 comment" (obviously, there may be more than 1 comment). Click that! That will bring up a new page, just with the comments for that post, and THERE will be the missing trash can icon.

talk about hoops. I don't know why blogger makes it so difficult, or if this is a bug.

keywords: delete comments, delete, comments, trashcan, trash-can, trash icon,

Friday, January 01, 2010

2009 - Media Consumed - part 3 of 3 - Movies (theater)

I decided at the beginning of 2009, to keep a list of the media that I consumed. I listed movies that I saw in the theater, movies that I rented on dvd, and books. In hindsight, I WISH I thought to include my music purchases (and gifts) to this list as well.
Since the lists also include short "reviews" they've added up to a lengthy post, so I decided to split them into 3 parts: Books, dvd's, and theater.
Comments are welcomed.


Movies (seen in the theater):
1/1/09: The Day the Earth Stood Still - ∆∆∆ overall good - last few minutes of ending was lame though.

1/16/09: Defiance - ∆∆∆ I think it was a good movie but Jerk behind me kept talking and ruined it for me.

1/31/09: Taken - ∆∆∆∆ really good for an action movie. Other acting = meh.

2/15/09: The International - ∆∆∆∆ pretty good plot, moved along nicely, good action. One scene bothered me towards end -walking around bazaar with handgun in plain view.

2/21/09: The Wrestler - ∆∆ - Almost a 3 star, but I just can't push it that high. Very predictable character study. Good acting though, and subject was just a bit depressing.

2/25/09: Slumdog Millionaire - ∆∆∆∆ - Good story mostly. Hard to watch with no judgment after winning Oscars and word of mouth buzz about how good it was.

3/7/09: The Watchmen - ∆∆∆∆ - Point off for mediocre acting, and choppy dialogue, but I think I may have been watching "Genius film-making" at work here. Great intricate story.

3/28/09: Knowing - ∆∆∆∆ - Admittedly it was very hokey at times. The acting was so-so. But I really liked this story, and some of the creepiness to the film. There were a lot of different ideas stitched together and for the most part, I think it worked well. Yes, the subject matter was right up my alley.

4/11/09: Duplicity - ∆∆∆ - not really great and not really good either. The ending of the movie was a big let down as well.

4/18/09: State of Play - ∆∆∆∆ - I liked this one. A nice conspiracy movie always gets to me. Afleck was pretty good too (surprisingly).

4/25/09: The Soloist - ∆∆∆∆∆ - a really touching story about a man with mental problems (schizophrenia?) who has a gift of playing the Cello, but ends up homeless. A Newspaper man ends up doing a story on him and becomes friends with the man. Great acting by both Downey Jr. and Jamie Foxx.

5/2/09: X-Men Origins: Wolverine - ∆∆∆∆ - I'm being generous with the last triangle, but I'm giving extra credit for being a comic book movie. (confession: I for got to write this review until 4 weeks later! So not much details here other than - I liked it. Deadpool was awesome, and Liev Schreiber was really good as "Sabertooth".

5/9/09: Star Trek - ∆∆∆∆∆ - I REALLY enjoyed this movie. It was just a fun ride for me. Sure, if you think about some of the plot idea for more than a second you might say "hey, wait a minute..." but all in all I just enjoyed the show. Two complaints... the shaky camera technique... and for some reason the OVERUSE of white "Lens flares" as a special effect.

5/16/09: Angels and Demons - ∆∆∆ - Not really a great film, and I can understand some of the negative comments, but for me the subject matter made it all worth it. I'm a fan of Dan Brown's and conspiracy movies. I think the largest complaint... trying to fit such a complicated storyline into a 2 hour movie is impossible.

5/23/09: Terminator Salvation - ∆∆ - While I was entertained by the robots and cool motorcycles, that's about all I can say about this movie. The paradox of time travel (to quote my friend) was "rubbed in our faces" and still didn't make any sense at all. The acting was less than par. Lastly... a pregnant woman on a helicopter during a bombing and air strike - huh?!
Just a lame attempt to milk this "brand" for all its worth to perhaps hook a new generation. I'm sure that since it did well at the box office, there will be another one with another lame storyline... and I'll probably go see that too cause it has robots in it.

5/30/09: UP - ∆∆∆∆∆ - Pixar does it again. A moving animated feature about never giving up on your dreams. In addition to never be afraid to change your dreams either. A bit sad in the beginning as it deals with loss of a loved one, but still has plenty of laughs later. Well written.

6/6/09: The Hangover - ∆∆∆∆ - First this movie was rude and crude... second... it made me really laugh at times! Don't get me wrong, this movie is not about a storyline, or plot twists, it's about jokes, man butts, and Mike Tyson. I'm only being generous with the 4 stars because it made me laugh, and now-a-days, I applaud anything that can make me laugh (even if it's rude and crude).

6/16/0/: The Taking of Pelham 123 - ∆∆∆∆ - I'm almost giving this movie a 3 star rating, but I'm being generous for two important reasons... The acting was well done on behalf of Denzel (has he ever made a bad movie?) While John Travolta definitely pulled off the "bad ass" look, I had a hard time believing his character with all the cursing. It was either poorly written, or maybe I just know that John is a good gentle guy in real life, and I couldn't get that out of my head. But - the STORY was well done and that's what kept me engaged for the whole movie. The only other thing that really bothered me was a minor technical problem - all of the inconsistencies with the walkie-talkies and microphones. Apparently Hollywood has a hard time understanding that "push to talk" is how most walkie-talkies work ;)
Two minor things but otherwise a good entertaining movie.

Public Enemies - ∆∆∆ - I have to keep this short, because I saw the movie a couple weeks ago and the details have slipped my mind. Johnny Depp was great (as usual). The movie... not so much. I won't say it was bad, but I think first and foremost, it was 2.5 hours long, and they could have easily cut 30 minutes out of that film. There were a TON of characters in this movie to the point where I had trouble keeping track of who was who. Then... After the movie, I looked up some facts about John Dillinger, and learned that the movie took quite a few "liberties".

The Hurt Locker - ∆∆∆∆∆ - Wow, this was a really good movie. Terrific acting (Big hat tip to Jeremy Renner), great cinematography, strong story-line, the only thing that bothered me was the subject matter... War. I had trouble separating the fact that I was enjoying the movie on an "art" level, while at the same time shocked at the idiocy and horror that man can do to one another in the name of "war". It was also a shock as I was leaving the movie theater, I walked out into a cool summer night, I had my coffee, and a Tastycake as a snack, and yet as I'm watching this movie as "entertainment" there are guys on the other side of the world LIVING this thing on a daily basis. As part of my countrymen are off in a foreign land risking their lives and taking other lives, I'm sitting at home watching it on the big screen - there's something really wrong with that. This world we live in is a messed up place.

Harry Potter - ∆∆∆ - Again, I'm writing this a week later, so some of the details have been forgotten, but I'll try to be brief. I liked the movie overall. But for me it was missing something. It was a tad too long. Pardon the pun... but it seemed like some of the magic was missing in this movie. That said, there were also moments where I was drawn into the movie and was just watching everything as if I were in Hogwarts. I tip my hat to a movie that can do that. Some of the "boy meets girl" story-lines started to grate on my nerves a bit, but I think the fans wanted to see that (I didn't). Lastly... I was particularly impressed with two things in the movie... There seemed to be a great attention to detail in this film. One scene, a girl got up at the end of class, and started to leave, when the teacher stopped her and reminded her to remember her rat's tail. The other item I was impressed with was the camera work of the movie. There were quite a few digital effects, but everything worked smoothly and I actually felt like the camera itself was a character in the movie. Well done.
I hope the next (two) movies will re-capture some of the magic. (I've learned they are breaking the last book up into two movies (marketing!?)).

Funny People - ∆∆∆ - This movie had it's moments, but it also had times where it was struggling. The comedy was not always funny (lots of "blue" comedy). I think the best parts were with Seth Rogan, he did a really good job, and I think he has a future in acting with some additional serious roles.
The ending was really tedious and not pleasant to watch. My best advice... rent it on dvd, so you can fast forward during the slow parts.

Julie and Julia - ∆∆∆∆∆ - I know... I'm being generous with that last "star". I think realistically It might be a 4 star, but I came out of the theater in a good mood so that's why the extra bonus. That said... I enjoyed this movie. I thought Meryl Streep was really spot on with her julia child imitation. (though I'm certainly not a Julia child expert). She conveyed a feeling of a jovial personality that really came across on the big screen. Her costar Amy Adams also did well. The guy who played "Eric" also had a great supporting role (Chris Messina - I don't recall ever seeing him before). So obviously it's a chick flick, but I enjoyed it anyway. Just two good stories told well, which is the main reason I go to the movies. Now... I need to find a cookbook so as I can try some french cooking. Mmmm Butter....

District 9 - ∆∆∆∆∆ - Wow. A really good sci-fi movie! I really enjoyed the storyline, the acting was great by an unknown (to me anyway) actor - who made me love him at times and then hate him, and I was being push a pulled emotionally by his character - well done! The effects - wow. For a sci-fi film this one is up there.

500 days of Summer - ∆ - I came this close to walking out on this one. So sweet and sappy... like a double chocolate cake with extra icing sprinkled with sugar with a bottle of syrup to wash it down. Ugh. At one point, I thought... the only reason they made this movie was to sell the movie soundtrack. To be fair... I went to this movie by myself, and it was a chick flick dating movie, so I guess it makes sense I didn't like the show. Oh well.

9/5/09 - Inglorious Basterds - ∆∆∆∆ - Quintin Tarantino... I give him credit at least for having a certain style to his movies. I'm just not sure I like his style is all. After "kill bill" I thought I'd never watch another Tarantino movie again... but with Inglorious Bastereds I decided to give him another try. Luckily I was surprised that I liked the movie overall. I thought it told a story (or stories) well and I was transported back in time to the 1940's. But two things bothered me abt the movie... 1) The soundtrack! For some reason, I just find Tarantino's music choices annoying! Not to mention how loud they are. 2) But more to the point in the movie... For some reason the ending bothered me. I can't quite put my finger on it, but I just wasn't ready for it I think. But again, overall, I liked the movie. Fine acting all around too.

9/12/09 - 9 - ∆∆∆ - Perhaps under better circumstances I would have enjoyed this movie better... the theater we usually go to is a fantastic theater. This particular night, they had two odd showtimes (9pm - too early - 11:10pm - too late). So we went to the local mall which had a "multiplex". It's a horrible theater in comparison. higher prices, movie didn't start on time, commercials mixed in with movie previews, and at LEAST 15 minutes of commercials and previews, high concession stand prices (I guess that's normal), uncomfortable seats, and small screens in a long viewing room. So... with that mindset it's difficult to put it all aside and enjoy a movie. ALL that said... the animation and graphics were amazing. High marks for that! But the story was convoluted - it didn't really make sense overall. AND to top it all off... the day before I saw this movie, I leanred that it was based on a 10 minute short movie by Shane Ackerson which was his college film project. I made the mistake of watching the short film on youtube the day before... which was the SAME story just condensed into 10 minutes. So that also kinda ruined it for me, since I knew the ending of the movie.

9/26/09 - The Informant - ∆∆ - Just a really tedious and confusing movie to keep up with. I think there was an interesting story in there somewhere, but this movie did not do it any justice. And, the music or soundtrack really annoyed me as well.

10/3/09 - Zombieland - ∆∆∆ - Keeping in mind that this was a "Zombie" movie, it wasn't bad. There were moments where I laughed, so I give it points for that. Will it earn an Oscar? Not at all! But I was amused for my admission fee and what more can one ask from a Zombie movie.

10/10/09 - Couples Resort - ∆∆∆ - I'm being generous with that third ∆. To be fair, the movie did make me laugh several times in the beginning. I'd go as far to say that I liked the movie about half-way through, but then it just kinda went down hill. The jokes were predictable, the scenes were contrived, and Vince Vaughn just couldn't
carry the entire movie with the story line.

10/17/09 - Law Abiding Citizen - ∆∆∆∆ - I really enjoyed this movie. I liked the storyline especially and the acting was great with Jamie Foxx and Gerard Butler held his own also. Granted, the plot had a few "Hollywood coincidences" but sometimes you have to put blinders on for those. For what it's worth, I just looked up on the internet how to spell "Gerard Butler" and noticed it looks like the critics are panning this movie. What do they know!

11/7/09 - Men who stare at goats - ∆∆∆ - Overall I liked this movie but it really left me hanging towards the end. I don't know what, but somehow I expected more. Strangely enough, a lot of the "strange" things that the movie talked about, I had already been aware of: Remote viewing, psy ops, lsd, mk-ultra, etc...

11/21/09 - Pirate Radio - ∆∆∆ - Again, this movie barely got that third ∆. Films like these baffle me in the sense that they can gather a cast of so many talented people, but yet the story or directing or editing just falls flat. The editing on this one is what bothered me the most in that it was choppy. Scenes cut back and forth with no smooth transition at all. As my friend put it nicely, "It was like watching a long music video."
The only reason I gave it that extra ∆ was because the ending pulled me back into the movie. They returned to a story-line rather than just showing us a bunch of 'goofy' characters on a boat.
A good soundtrack too.

11/28/09 - The Road - ∆∆∆∆ - A difficult movie for me to rate. While I appreciate a lot of what went into the making of this movie (good story, great acting, fantastic cinematography, great scenery (relatively speaking))... the story was depressing. I'm not a big fan of depressing movies. But because I'm able to see those other items that make for a good film, I'm hitting it with the 4 ∆'s. And... this may shock some people... I had read the book not too long ago. The movie MAY have been ever so slightly better than the book! I won't go into all the in's and out's as to why, but I'll just say that the movie added a few more "human" elements that made the story easier to understand and not so stark. The book left me with feelings of wanting more explanations.
Difficult now for me to say which one.... to watch the movie before reading the book, or vice versa, personally, I think I liked it better having read the book, and knowing a bit of what I was in store for.

12/5/09 - Brothers - ∆∆∆ - Yet another difficult movie for me to rate. I thought the acting was well done all the way around. The talent of Jake, Toby and Natalie is a great combination (Natalie sometimes falls flat, but I thought she did well on this one). A few scenes (key scenes) could have been done better as far as the story goes, but all in all a good movie... BUT - this is another depressing movie about war and the ravages it takes on all people involved. It really bothers me that we have a packed theater with people eating popcorn, date nights, beer bottles (idiots), and generally going to the movies as a form of entertainment, yet these sorts of stories are happening NOW. our country is at war. There are young men coming home from seeing, hearing and doing horrible things in the name of war, and trying to figure out how to survive again in a civilian world. These movies bother me in that sense. I won't say that I will never go to a war movie ever again, as I do think it is important to remind people and to let people know that stories like these are important and tragic. I am both thankful to our soldiers who put their lives on the line everyday and I am also just as angry at our political leaders who make the decisions to put those troops in harms way.

12/26/09 - Up in the Air - N/A - I'm actually not going to rate this movie, because it wouldn't be fair. Perhaps I share the blame too for not being more informed... but... I thought this movie was a comedy! From the trailer, I assumed it was about a guy (George Clooney) who traveled a lot due to his business and the movie was going to be about that. It had co-actors like Zach Galinfinakis (who is a comedian), and Jason Bateman (who is usually known for his funny roles)... but this may have been the most depressing movie I've seen this year (slightly exaggerating, some of the war movies I saw this year were the most depressing). I suppose this movie falls in the category of a "dark comedy" but I just thought it was dark overall. Other people in the audience were laughing at parts that I was not, so perhaps some thought it more of a comedy. So because I was completely misled, I don't feel it's fair for me to give it a one star - instead, I will give the one star to the trailer itself.

2009 - Media Consumed - part 2 of 3 - dvds

I decided at the beginning of 2009, to keep a list of the media that I consumed. I listed movies that I saw in the theater, movies that I rented on dvd, and books. In hindsight, I WISH I thought to include my music purchases (and gifts) to this list as well.
Since the lists also include short "reviews" they've added up to a lengthy post, so I decided to split them into 3 parts: Books, dvd's, and theater.
Comments are welcomed.


The Impressionists (disc one). ∆∆∆

Big Rig - ∆∆∆ (documentary on truck drivers)

Sweeny Todd - ∆∆

Be Kind Rewind - ∆

The Kite Runner - ∆∆∆∆ Good movie. Rough story about the evils of some of humanity.

The Impressionists (disk 2) - ∆∆∆ Bit rough and dry in the acting, but interesting stories about the painters.

This American Life (disk 1) - ∆∆∆∆ - some interesting stories.

Invader Zim (vol 1 disk 1) - ∆∆∆ - good, but you can't watch that many shows back to back.

Eagle Eye - ∆∆∆∆ - Some corny scenes, a bit cliché at times, but overall I enjoyed it. And Some really clever/funny lines for Billy-Bob's character.

Le Cercle Rouge - ∆ - a SLOW heist movie. Just couldn't hold my interest. LOTS of continuity mistakes too.

2/28/09 - The Quiet American - ∆∆ - wasn't horrible, but I had trouble with how it was written... in that the characters never seemed believable. Lack of motivation for some of their actions. Could have been a good movie.

3/3/09 - Body of lies - ∆∆∆∆ - Good spook movie. Lots of twists and turns that made it a bit difficult to follow at times, but for the most part I was able to keep up. Leonardo was good. Russell Crowe was so-so, mediocre dialogue for him.

3/10/09 - Max Payne - ∆∆ - Could have been really good, but felt rushed. Poor acting (and I like wahlberg). Connection between spiritual and drug/company never explained or panned out.

3/14/09 - RocknRolla - ∆∆∆∆ - Classic "guy ritchie" british gangster film. Bit complicated at first but pulls together in the end. Well done.

3/20/09 - Let the Right one in - ∆∆∆ - I'm being generous with that third triangle. Only because it was a vampire story like no other I've seen before. This was a Swedish film with English over dubbing, and the overdubbing was horrible.

3/27/09 - Charlie Bartlett - ∆∆∆∆∆ - Really well written teen angst movie. Robert Downey Jr is amazing. Kid who played Charlie also = amazing! Great casting. I do wonder though if teens liked this movie.

4/3/09 - The Conversation - ∆∆ - Almost gave it a 3 rating, but can't. Slow moving. strange dialogue. Jazz. 1970's 'technological' thriller. Good story though. Gene Hackman. Young harrison ford, Cindy williams = odd cast.

4/9/09 - Meet Bill - ∆ - I liked all the actors/actress, it was just a poor story, and poorly acted (directed?). Inconsistent characters. It was a fast-forward movie just to get through it.

4/17/09 - Chaplin: The movie - ∆ - much to my surprise I gave this movie only one star/triangle. I really like Robert Downey. I like Charlie Chaplin. Several other actors and actresses in this movie playing bit parts... but you know what killed the movie for me? The sound. It was horrible. Chaplin/Downey played a very mellow part with soft spoken words, so I had to turn the volume way up to hear him, then the other characters/sound effects were blaring. But perhaps most of all, the entire movie (I actually shut it off about 3/4 in!) appeared to be over-dubbed. The sound didn't quite match up with the video. Not to mention inconsistent volume levels. It actually ruined the movie for me because I was too distracted by the sound.

4/19/09 - Mondrian: From Naturalism to Abstraction - ∆∆∆ - Semi-poor production levels (poor lighting on the paintings for instance), dated music, and lots of odd helicopter footage that must have been filmed while hanging out of the helicopter itself because it was rather bouncy. But put all that aside, and it was a good 1 hour film introducing Mondrian's works.

4/19/09 - Flash of Genius - ∆∆∆∆∆ - I may be a bit too generous with that last star (triangle) but I thought this was a really good movie. The only downside is that it's an underdog story. In all my years of watching movies, I can tell you what usually happens at the end of an underdog movie, so in that sense it was a bit predictable. But none-the-less it was a good story, and Greg Kinnear did another fantastic job at acting on this one. As a wanna-be "maker" this movie should be on every inventor/makers list.

4/24/09 - Special - ∆∆∆∆∆ - a really interesting independent movie. A man thinks he can fly when he takes part in an experimental drug program. One of those indy movies that I feel is a real gem in the rough.

4/26/09 - Doubt - ∆∆∆∆ - really well done job of acting all the way around. Not exactly a happy movie though so I took one star off for that. I won't say anything else as the less you know about the movie the better.

5/1/09 - Run, fat boy, run - ∆ - I liked Simon Pegg in "Shaun of the dead" and I even liked him in "hot fuzz", but sadly, run fat boy run, was just lame. Here's a clue... when the title of the film has "fat boy" in it, then the main character um should be... fat! They basically put a small pillow under his shirt, that had to be some of the lamest prosthetic work I've seen. Then the plot was just so predictable, I ended up watching the second half of the movie in fast forward mode.

5/1/09 - Delicatessen - ∆∆ - Perhaps, had I seen this movie when I was in the right mood I would have liked it more, but I just had a difficult time with this one. It was a french movie (yes subtitled). What is it with the french making weird movies? It had Dominique Pinon in it, which I like (odd looking man, but good actor, though his films that I've seen him in don't exactly push his acting skills (aliens, city of lost children)).
It was a very quirky film. Too quirky for me. Characters were over the top on purpose. I just kinda walked away shaking my head after this one.

5/?/09 - Wild China - ∆∆∆ - A BBC documentary series about remote places in China. Disk one (which I finished last night) had 3 episodes (1 hour each). It can be tedious at times, but usually in each episode there is some really interesting piece of information. Not to mention some of the wildlife is incredibly filmed. I hope to get to disk 2 soon.

5/24/09 - Milk - ∆∆∆∆ - Sean Penn is an amazing actor. This entire story was all new to me, and the ending was a complete shock. It amazes me that people who try to do good in this world are almost always seen as a threat.

6/3/09 - Dark Matter - ∆∆ - I hate it when netflix gets my rating right. They said this would be a 2 star rating, and sure enough. I tried very hard to like this movie but it was just disjointed. Meryl Streep and Aidinn Quinn, yet the acting was mediocre and not believable. The film edits were choppy and confusing. The storyline was forced. I ended up fast-forward watching this movie about 3/4 of the way through.

6/8/09 - The Tale of Despereaux - ∆∆ - I tried really hard to like this film. It just didn't cut it for me.
warning - spoilers:
Technically speaking - some of the computer animation was nicely done. In fact there were sections (book scene) that I preferred over the main animation - especially how they did the fire effect. But a lot of sections that it looked like they cut corners on the the animation.
The storyline - convoluted. The talking vegetable man was totally out of left field, and didn't make any sense to me.
They ended the storyline with such abruptness it felt forced. The girl going back to live on a pig farm was supposed to be her living "happily ever after?!"
I knew I was in trouble in the first few minutes of the film when they said that "soup day" was more exciting than Christmas! What?! No kid (or me) can relate to that!

6/11/09 - The Battle for Seattle - ∆∆∆∆∆ - An AWESOME protest movie. Ok, it wasn't perfect, some of the acting was forced, some of the storyline was a bit too preachy, but there were plenty of moments where the movie soared. Andre Benjamin (yes, from Outkast) was amazing. I still do not care for Michelle Rodriquez - she always plays the "tough chick" and it's old. Martin Henderson was good as was Woody and Charlize (though I had hoped to see more of Charlize). Also, kudos to Stuart Townsend for showing both sides of the story (protestors and police). Lastly: We the people will never be divided.

6/16/09 - In the valley of Elah - ∆∆∆∆∆ - Solid 5 star movie. Powerful acting, and a sad story behind it all. Fantastic acting by Tommy Lee Jones and Charlize Theron. I'll end with just this... I wish peace in this world.

6/22/09 - W. - ∆∆ - I almost gave it a 3 star, but just couldn't do it. The movie was long and tedious. While some of the acting was well done (Brolin was very good, Richard Dreyfus was Amazing) the story just was a retelling of events we already knew. Some of the bias was just over-the-top and silly (for example watching "Bush" eat his sandwich and stuffing his mouth, and talking with his mouth full.) Some of the character actors were just too distracting... Rove and Condi. I had hoped for more details and insight into the man, but instead was just met with a 2+ hour retelling of the last 8 years.

6/23/09 - Frost/Nixon - ∆∆∆∆∆ - Unbelievable acting on this one. I was able to keep up with some of politics involved, but admit to not knowing all the names of the key players. Even so, to be on the edge of my seat waiting to see how the "duel" progressed is saying a lot about a subject as dry as an interview. Tip of the hat to all the fine actors, top notch.

6/26/09 - True Blood - ∆ - I had heard a lot about this new show from HBO and it all seemed to be good, so I decided to rent season one and give it a shot. Apparently I'm the only one who thinks this show was lame?! I barely got through the first episode. The characters were stereotypical and over-the-top. The episode was poorly edited - example: The "cool" vampire dude goes outside with two local looneys. The woman (who looks like she's about 98pounds wet) fears for his safety and decides to run out to try and warn him that the looney's might attack him. Her boss, upon learning this, runs out of the bar also to stop her... next we see the woman pick up a big pile of chains (silently I might add), she whips the chains around a guys neck with super speed, then proceeds to pick up a knife and talk like the meanest gangster who ever lived. She rescued the vampire who was held down by a little silver necklace, they sit in the woods for a while and trade stories. Eventually (12 minutes later?) she heads back to the bar, where the boss is just standing in the parking lot (50' away) looking around like a doofus. Ugh. I expected more from you HBO.

6/28/09 - ∆∆∆ - The Ali G show - season one disc one - I am not 100% sure I like This series (also an HBO series). While many of the shorts get me to smile, they're not always funny. Not to mention the strong crudeness factor. I will say though that the first bit, where he trains with the Philadelphia police dept was funny, and the scene where Borat is in the gym trying to learn how to use the tread mill - had me in tears! I'm going to give the next disk a chance. Perhaps because this isn't new anymore, and I know what to expect with Sasha's characters it's not as funny, but he def has talent to make me laugh, just not consistently.

7/11/09 - ∆∆∆ - Valkyrie - I'm being generous with 3 stars here, but the movie held my interest (barely) for the whole time. I felt the movie was long and tedious and we got a dry re-telling of history. Granted it was intense at times, but overall it just lacked something. I've noticed in the past, I also have problems with movies that just have one single tone throughout the entire movie, and this was one of them.

7/14/09 - ∆∆ - Proof - Oh, I tried so hard to like this movie, but I just couldn't. While the storyline was there to make for a good movie, and two very talented actors (Jake Gyllenhaal and Gwyneth Paltrow), the movie just laid there and fizzelled. I blame it on two things... the dialogue was poorly written, and the direction was bad. The feelings of the characters never flowed at all, and most of the movie was spent arguing among the characters. No one wants to sit through 2 hours of arguing.

7/22/09 - ∆∆∆∆∆ - Speak - Wow. What a good movie this was. A strong subject matter of a young girl who... actually I don't want to give any of the story-line away. I'll use the words that netflix did "an unfortunate incident that left a young girl shunned..." It involves this girls struggles to carry the weight of what happened to her, while at the same time trying to juggle the social nightmare that only 9th grade can bring. Kristen Stewart was the star, and she did an incredible job. The reason I rented this was because Steve Zahn was the art teacher in this film and I usually like the movies that he is in - this definitely fell in that category.

7/31/09 - ∆∆∆∆∆ - The Haunting in Connecticut - Yep, you saw that right... I just gave a horror movie a 5 star rating. Oddly enough, I was thinking recently, that I had seen all the good horror movies out there. I have exhausted this genre of movies. That I would never see a good horror movie again. I was wrong. Ok, perhaps I was in the right frame of mind tonight, to sit down and watch a good ghost story, that I turned that little "critic filter" off. Were there some silly parts in the movie? Of course. Lots of "Gotcha" type scares (I think I jumped once*) The effects were gory at times, but for the most part, I enjoyed the movie. Then... I decided to watch the dvd special feature which interviewed the real occupants of the house, that was almost better than the movie. There was one scene there that made me jump as well. All in all, it was a good story if nothing else.

8/6/09 - ∆∆∆∆ - The Future of Food - A really eye opening documentary about the Food industry and genetic engineering. A bit heavy on the science side of things, but overall an educational film. Really makes Monsanto out to be a bad guy (Which I think they might be). Everyone who eats should watch this film.

8/09 - ∆∆∆∆∆ - Dexter - I have been hooked on the Showtime (which I learned is a subsidiary of CBS), called "Dexter", about a serial killer living in Florida who is a forensics cop. Good storyline, good suspense, good acting (for some). MY biggest complaint... the sister character (after watching the entire first series, I still can't name the characters! odd.) I look forward to starting season 2 any day now.

8/20/09 - ∆ - 10,000 BC - Just lame. perhaps I wasn't in the right mood, but this one just struck me as really lame. poor acting, mediocre effects, goofy love story. I expected more.

8/23/09 - ∆∆∆∆∆ - The Cats of Mirikitani - Documentary about Japanese/American artist "Jimmy" Mirikitani, who was homeless on the streets of NYC, and through this documentary film maker, Linda Hattebdorf managed to give him a helping hand up and get him back on his feet again. Really nice film. Peace Jimmy.

9/13/09 - ∆∆ - The Assassination of Jesse James - What LONG and tedious film. Yes it had really good acting, yes it had some nice cinematography, hut there was no way that film needed to be dragged out to 2.5 hours! I bet if I went through and edited out all the moments of silence and people just walking in an empty field that could shave off 45 minutes. Skip this film is my suggestion.

9/16/09 - Firewall - ∆∆ - A Harrison ford movie that was really lame. predictable "paint by number" script. poor acting (except for the bad guy who was pretty good). What I thought was a technological thriller amounted to some bogus scenes of hacking an ipod with a fax machine - lame.

9/25/09 - Adventureland - ∆∆∆∆ - I actually thought this movie was ok, and gave it that last "∆" for the soundtrack alone. It was basically a "chick flick" disguised as a stoner movie. A sort of teen-angst movie. It was well written too. The only thing that bothered me, was that the time frame seemed off for me... they said in the beginning of the movie it was 1987, but It seemed more like it might have been early 80's to me.

10/4/09 - The King of Kong - ∆∆∆∆ - Overall a good documentary. It was a bit dry at times, and the production levels were a bit on the low side, but it told a good story, which is what a documentary is supposed to do. I enjoyed seeing the tension, and thought the movie did a good job at creating that tension. By the end you really were rooting for the "underdog" Steve Weibe (weebee). It was neat to see a lot of the old "coin-op" classic video games that I grew up with too. If you are familiar with the 80's, classic arcade games, or enjoy anything that's 8-bit, I'd recommend this dvd. (disclaimer: Yes, I'm a geek so this perhaps that's why it was entertaining to me).

10/11/09 - Stander - ∆∆∆ - A movie I only heard about via Netflix. This was just a solid middle of the road for me. It wasn't bad, and I watched the story-line to see what would happen next, the only thing that I think kept it from being a good movie was that the acting was a bit flat (one sided - cool tough-guy attitude). I also felt like the editing was a bit choppy. I will give credit in that up until I looked it up on imdb, I thought it might of actually been filmed in the 70's. It was actually filmed in 2003, but they did a great job of capturing the feel of the 70's. Based on a True story as well, which is always interesting.

10/12/09 - ∆∆∆ - The Impressionist: Monet - A good documentary about the painter. Not great, but good. I felt like too much time was spent on just a few paintings though, I wish I saw a broader spectrum of his work.

10/12/09 - ∆ - The Pacific and Eddy - An attempt at an "indie film" but just didn't cut it for me. Too many long drawn out shots of trees in the wind, or wave of the ocean. It tried too hard to be an "artsy" film that I was totally board.

10/24/09 - ∆∆∆ - The Brothers Bloom - This is another one of those "con movies" that has twist after twist after twist, until either you give up trying to figure it out, or you're lucky enough to have kept up. I thought the acting was good on Adrien's part, but Rachel Weisz always gets on my nerves for some reason. This movie she was more tolerable to me. It was almost a good movie, but it became tedious. The saving grace I think for me was that it was really nicely filmed. The Cinematography was very well done.

10/30/09 - ∆ - Year One - Sadly another Jack Black movie that scraped the bottom of the barrel. I also really like Michael Cera and the two were not enough to raise the level of this movie. Classic example where the trailer had the funniest parts (and I'm also realizing that a 2 minute trailer can be funny whereas an hour and half movie is not.

11/8/09 - ∆∆ - Sunshine Cleaning - A difficult movie to rate for me because it was a good story, and good acting, but wow, was it ever depressing. It was marked as a "dark comedy" and I'd put the emphasis on "dark" more than comedy. Personally, I just don't like depressing movies, so that's why the low rating. Topics include, death, suicide, drugs, single parenting, unhappy with her job, infidelity. So put all those topics into a "comedy" and this is what you get.

11/11/09 - ∆∆∆∆ - Chaos Theory - Perhaps I'm being a little generous with that last '∆', but it was kind of a 'feel-good' movie so I'm still in a good mood. I mainly rented this movie because it had Ryan Reynolds in it... I think he's a good actor, and usually finds that right balance of comedy with good acting. The movie was a td on the cheesy side, but then would surprise me with a really nice scene. A good story (though a bit predictable at times). Worth a rental.

11/14/09 - ∆∆ - The Boondock Saints - This ended up being a 'fast forward' movie for me. Shortly after getting the gist of the plot, I end up fast forwarding through all the poorly written dialogue, and give the movie one last chance for redemption (ie: something catches my eye.) Sadly, no. Lots of yelling, gun shooting, blood packs, and stereotypes.

11/14/09 - ∆∆ - The Strangers - A horror movie that caught my interest when it first appeared in the theaters. It wasn't something I was willing to spend $9.50 to see, so I waited for dvd. I had joked that when it came out, and Liv Tyler was in it, that I would watch a 2 hour movie of her washing dishes - well, that's about the same entertainment level here. A movie that is 98% suspense, and 1% 'boo' factor, and 1% gore. Psychologically it was scary and creepy, but there had to be a better story for it to pay off.

11/22/09 - ∆ - G.I. Joe - Perhaps I just wasn't in the right mood for this, but this movie just could not hold my interest in the slightest. Lots of nice effects and computer generated art, but beyond that - nothing else. Characters were goofy, one-liners were lame, lots of shaky camera techniques... I could go on, but I won't.

12/12/09 - ∆∆∆∆ - Food Inc - I'm about a week late with this review so the details will be sparse. Nutshell, a good documentary on how the food industry is... not broken per say, but seriously flawed. The motivator is simple... faster and cheaper. But what this means to the consumers is a dangerous trade-off to quality food. A bad combination between Government (lobbyists for big business), and corporation. For example... Chickens are bred now that that do not resemble chickens of 50 years ago. They are slaughtered in just a few months when they're growth rate is altered to produce overweight chicks. These chicks are so over weight at times they can not take more than a few steps at a time before collapsing (usually in the muck and feces of all the other thousands of chicks in the shed.) If you have no idea why it's cheaper to get a $1 hamburger than a $7 salad, you should watch this movie.

12/19/09 - ∆∆∆∆∆ - The Answer Man - Yes, a bit of a chick flick, but this movie really entertained me. Jeff Daniels always does a great job. What I liked most though, was the storyline... not overly complicated, but just a well told story. A small warning though on the language, just a bit harsh at times if that sort of thing bothers you. I feel like it fit the story, so it didn't bother me. Definitely worth a rental.

12/30/09 - ∆∆∆ - Chalk - I'm being very generous with that last ∆. A bit of a strange movie that definitely falls in the category of an "indy film". It was a "mockumentary" style comedy about a group of teachers in what looked to be a high school (or maybe it was middle school?). While there were some funny moments at times there were also many moments that seemed forced and just plain stereotypical. So because it made me chuckle a couple of times, I'm giving the extra ∆, but towards the end, I was ready for it to be over with.

12/30/09 - ∆∆∆∆ - Heavy Metal - Yes, I'm giving this dvd 4 stars mainly for sentimental reasons. By today's standards the movie might be something you'd see on a late night cable program, but back in the day... Of course this may be the greatest soundtrack ever assembled for a movie, which also counts for at least one or two ∆'s. Perhaps this time around, what I enjoyed most about the dvd was the small documentary as the 'bonus' that explained some of the events and thinking and even animation techniques behind the movie. I really enjoyed seeing how they did the scenes where they filmed the B-17 in all black, with white lines, then 'reversed' the film in order to get a black line outline. (hard to describe I guess). A nice way to spend an hour and a half or so remembering my youth in my teens.

2009 - Media Consumed - part 1 of 3 - Books

I decided at the beginning of 2009, to keep a list of the media that I consumed. I listed movies that I saw in the theater, movies that I rented on dvd, and books. In hindsight, I WISH I thought to include my music purchases (and gifts) to this list as well.
Since the lists also include short "reviews" they've added up to a lengthy post, so I decided to split them into 3 parts: Books, dvd's, and theater.
Comments are welcomed.


The Judas Strain - ∆∆∆∆∆ - A bit out there but really good. Enjoyed.

A Year of living biblically - ∆∆∆∆ - To be fair, I started this book in 08, read about half, then put it down until Jan of 09. I needed that break as it was getting a tad monotonous. But I enjoyed finishing the book and it gave me lots of good thoughts to ponder.

Mondrian - ∆∆∆∆ - A "small" book with lots of pictures, but it had small type too so I'm counting it in this list. At the Cezanne exhibit - much to my surprise I walked away with a much higer appreciation of Mondrian. This little book talked about his life and paintings in more detail. I enjoyed it.

Brain Rules - ∆∆∆∆ - A really intersting book about how the brain works. I took a small break while reading as it got a little tedious at points, but overall lots of interesting facts and stats and stories... sad irony is that I now have a very difficult time remembering any of the interesting facts, stats to relate to others. ugh.

Napoleon's Pyramids - ∆∆∆∆ - While the book had a lot of technical flaws, and in my opinion some poorly written material, I really liked the story. The subject matter was interesting to me, as I've always had an interest in the Great Pyramid and its mysteries. The story moved along well like a hollywood action movie.

The Road - ∆∆∆∆ - An odd book, but it held my interest til the end, and made me think about things afterward. I happened upon this book while on vacation and I don't recall if I picked it up, or if my sister handed it to me, but regardless, she said it was "(one of?) the best books I've ever read"! Wow, with an endorsement like that, I HAD to check it out! I found the writing style different but I liked it (for example no quotation marks! If I wrote a book, that's how I'd do it too!). I do have a complaint (though it's my own short fall, and not the author's)... the vocabulary was a bit above me. I felt like every other page, I would stumble on at least 1-2 words that I didn't know the meaning of. But I really can't fault an author for that! I also have to admit I wanted to know more "answers" while reading the story, but again, that's just me.
I felt pressured to finish the book quickly too, because it's being released soon on the Big Screen! It should make for a good movie for sure.

Daemon - ∆∆∆∆∆ - A really entertaining book. I don't suppose this book is for everyone though, it has a lot of computer related information, that perhaps the "average joe" may not understand or get lost in. Some of it over my head as well, but I had the general gist of what was going on. It moved along quickly like a good thriller should, and didn't get too bogged down in the details. While I wouldn't call it perfect (the ending felt rushed to me, and didn't make a lot of sense at times). But overall, if you are a geek in anyway, and these topics interest you, then you should def check it out: computer viruses, MMORPG's, computers, cryptography, hacking, government conspiracies, end of days, society, classism, engineering, and on and on.
::::Semi - Spoiler alert::::
I kinda wish someone would have warned me so I will do the same - This book appears to be the first in a series - the second book is due for release in 2010 - I look forward to it.

Paranoia - ∆∆∆ - I enjoyed this book as a fun read, but I also feel like there were some flaws in the writing and story-line so I took some points off for that. In a nutshell it was a book about corporate espionage. A guy gets "blackmailed" into infiltrating another rival company, and proceeds to work the social ladder and several late night snooping sessions to get company secrets. There was a subplot as well that dealt with a man and his aging and sick father - which was a good side story. I felt like the author was writing down to me at times, and I couldn't tell if he was doing this on purpose or if perhaps he was struggling to write from a higher point of view (in regards to portraying a "working class Joe" versus a high profile corporate CEO). All in all a good summer read I guess. AND this marks a historical moment for me in that it was my first completed ebook on my Kindle. It was FREE to boot - I doubt I would have read it otherwise, so it was a nice surprise to have enjoyed it.

Fantômas - ∆∆∆∆ - I overall enjoyed this book, but towards the end, it kinda fell apart for me. I felt like new characters were being introduced every other page and I was having a hard time keeping track of them all. Speaking of every other page... the other thing that made this book difficult to enjoy was the words... yes the vocabulary was very difficult for me. In my defense, it was written in 1911, and it was orignally written in French, so a lot of words were period related, and French related. I kept a list of them and ended up at 85 words! Still an interesting "who done it" book that some credit as being the first book of its kind in the murder mystery style.

The Call of Cthulhu - ∆∆ - It's odd... I've read this story before, and enjoyed it, but for some reason this time around was just tedious. I think it is because my heart wasn't in it... I found some 'free' Lovecraft e-books online and downloaded them to read on my kindle. But I think I was just reading it cause it was free - not a very good reason to read. So, don't take this "review" as anything serious, if you've never read Lovecraft - you must. But do it on a cold october evening with some drizzling rain and perhaps by candlelight.

Doomsday Key by James Rollins - ∆∆∆∆ - I had a little trouble following this story this time, but I suspect it was just me. I tended to let too much time go in-between readings and I felt slightly confused. But all in all, yet another J. Rollins book that I very much enjoyed. As I mentioned... I feel like he's writing his books specifically for me and I thank him for it. Action, adventure, religion, conspiracy, dark-ops, history, etc... Only problem now... I think this was the last of his books that I needed to read - I've read all his others, so now I must wait until he comes out with a new one! Maybe I'll pick up one of his other books and re-read it.

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown - ∆∆∆∆ - Disclaimer: The topics included in Dan's book are right up my alley. Secret Societies, Religion, Conspiracy, Science = awesome. So that being said, this story probably could have been written by a 6 year old, and I would have enjoyed it. But, trying to be objective for a minute... There were times when i felt Dan was spoon feeding me the plot. Little "reminders" of the story that he just finished setting up became annoying to me. I can't help but to wonder if coming off his big success of his last book (The DaVinci Code) that appealed to the masses, if he didn't deliberately dumb this book down. Now, about half way through the book, I didn't notice this anymore. Perhaps he did this only in the beginning to hook people in, or perhaps I just didn't become aware of it later on, I can't be sure. Would I recommend this book to others? Probably not. I think you either like Dan's material or you don't. If you didn't like DaVinci, you will def not like this one. But for me... it was a great read!

Dracula - ∆∆∆ - This is a solid three ∆∆∆. I took off 2 ∆'s mainly because about half-way through the book it became VERY tedious. The story-line focused mainly and almost entirely on the preparation of the group planning an plotting to kill Dracula. I so much wanted the story to move on faster. But, it did hold my interest enough that I plodded through it all with them. I found it interesting, in that of all the movies, TV shows, comic books, etc... that I've seen about Vampires, (Including Copala's version which was supposed to be truer to the book) there were a lot of elements I had never heard before regarding Dracula himself, and or vampires in general. I appreciated thegothic tone in the book as well. The vocabulary again was a struggle for me, something about these older books and the words they used fascinates me. I just hope I am able to retain a FEW of the MANY words I had to look up (Thank goodness for my kindle that has the built in dictionary.)

On the Road - ∆ - Jack Kerouac was either on drugs when he wrote this or he has ADD (or both). Way too scattered of a story for me to enjoy. I did a longer more involved review on my blog here.

Carmilla - ∆∆∆∆ - I discovered this book - or rather short story - in doing a little wikipedia searching about Dracula. Turns out Carmilla came out about 25 years before Dracula, and many credit (or accuse?) Bram from lifting similar ideas and plot lines from Carmilla. I defintely saw some similarities, but whose to say what's "stealing" and what's "Inspiration"... Anyway, I enjoyed Carmilla very much. It was fairly short (being a short story and all). Granted, there is somewhat of a spoiler by knowing ahead of time that this is a vampire story. The author treats it like a mystery, yet the reader already knows what most of the other characters in the book don't - but that was a minor point I suppose. Overall, I just liked the storyline of it all.

Sidenote about books: This year I took the plunge and bought a Kindle. That has influenced my reading list (I've enjoyed several "out of copyright" books because of it. - In other words, they were free!)


comic books: