Saturday, November 06, 2010

Do-It-Yourself Time Machine

There was an amazing confluence of events the other afternoon.

Becca got some Reggio's Pizza at the store. We'd never had it until recently, since it was on sale, and as it was coming out of the oven, I realized the smell was taking me straight back to 1984 and Showbiz Pizza. It really smelled like Showbiz Pizza to me. I don't know if it tasted the same--I can't remember the taste very well, and I used to load my pizza with Parmesan cheese, anyway--but the smell just somehow hit this memory pocket I'd lost. It was amazing.

Then, I drank a Mexican Pepsi while I was eating. It was a special one-off; I'm still not much into soda, and I don't want to get to the point of drinking it every day like I used to. Since Mexican Coke--and yes, it does taste better--has become tres trendy around here and is now being carried in every grocery store, Pepsi has apparently retaliated by getting some of its Mexican Pepsi up here, made with sugar and not corn slurry run-off. And it's great. It reminds me of why I loved soda so much in the first place, and how hard I have to work not to let it get me again. It tastes like Pepsi used to taste when I was a kid and my Dad used to buy it all the time. And in a glass bottle, which is automatically better.

So, pizza that smells like Showbiz, Pepsi the way it was when I was a kid, and we watched an episode of G.I. Joe. Not going to do this every day, but holy crap, that was a nice 30 minutes spent in my past.

Segel! Kermit!

I don't ever say this, but thank you Entertainment Weekly. Because if there's one thing I didn't know I was craving, it's visual proof that Jason Segel's Muppet movie is really happening. I am so damn xazzed by this picture I can't even believe it.

Christmas 2011. Can't we just fast-forward a year to this? I need this.

Kirby's Epic Yarn

My Mom gave Becca a copy of Kirby's Epic Yarn for her birthday, so most of what we've been doing this week has been Kirby's Epic Yarn-related. I expected it'd be a fun time-waster, but there are a couple of levels here that take a skill level that seems to be frustratingly beyond me. (Maybe it's easier with just one player instead of two, since Becca and I have a tendency--on this game and many others--to bump into each other a lot and then start intentionally throwing each other into traps.)

It looks like a game for little kids, but I'm having fun with it. It's not a very easy game, though it isn't overly challenging. But I like games like this. They're fun for what they are. And I find the yarn-and-fabric designs visually appealing. I've said before that I'm not big into the zombie-killing games or a ton of the military strategy games; I just like to have fun, and this is a fun game. I recommend it, especially for kids.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Film Week

A review of the films I've seen this past week.

It must've occurred to someone very early on that making a spin-off movie based on Aldus Snow would be difficult. He was one of the biggest laugh-getters in Forgetting Sarah Marshall precisely because he wasn't humanized too much, but was there for comic relief. Putting him front and center in his own flick means you have to either humanize him or give us some sad sack to be the straight man to Russell Brand's comic hijinks. Here, the movie splits the difference in a way that doesn't always work. We have Jonah Hill as a record company exec who has to get Aldus Snow--now off the wagon and living on heroin--to a big concert at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles. The thing is, I like Jonah Hill, but I didn't care about anything his character did or went through or his difficult relationship with his girlfriend (Elisabeth Moss, funny and stunning). The movie does a good job of humanizing Aldus--and your mileage will vary based on how much you like Russell Brand, whom I like a great deal; I could watch a four hour Aldus Snow movie, to be honest--but it doesn't give him much to play off of in Hill's character. To my surprise, P. Diddy steals the movie as Hill's boss. Hopefully, we won't have to see his movie next. Humanizing his character would steal all of the humor. *** stars. Fun, but it could have been more.

Surprisingly great WB animation that takes an unreadable story arc from Superman/Batman and makes it into an emotional, exciting, visceral film. Very well-directed (by Lauren Montgomery, who directed the triumphant Wonder Woman), with great action sequences. In this one, Superman and Batman (voiced, to my fanboy glee, by Tim Daly and Kevin Conroy) try to acclimate Supergirl to her home on Earth, let Wonder Woman train her to be an Amazon, and travel to Apokolips where they must fight Darkseid's minions in order to rescue her. Tremendous movie for one of these, with added delights such as Krypto's appearance and Ed Asner reprising the voice of Granny Goodness. The last 15 minutes are astounding. **** stars. Why can DC do this in animation but not in live action?

A lot has been made about how unsympathetic Mark Zuckerberg comes across in the story of the creation of Facebook, but that's the whole point. Jesse Eisenberg plays Zuckerberg as a high-functioning sociopath who creates a successful business model by trying to outdo everyone else instead of chasing revenue. He's a fairly pathetic creature, socially awkward and alienating, who remains deliberately unlikable and, for the most part, inscrutable. This isn't about how Zuckerberg made friends; it's about how a young man with almost no friends crafted a social network that removed him even further from having to have any. The real main character in the movie, I think, is Eduardo Saverin, the original CFO of Facebook who is wary of taking risks and who is ultimately too soft a guy for business. Of course Zuckerberg betrays him (that's not giving anything away, it's established pretty early), and of course it has to do with old rivalries that Eduardo wasn't even aware existed. Andrew Garfield is very sympathetic, even somewhat pathetic as Eduardo. I haven't liked Garfield much, and even though I still have zero desire to see him play Spider-Man, he's excellent here. Justin Timberlake, in an Oscar-worthy performance, plays forgotten Napster founder Sean Parker as the epitome of a hustler; something of a sleazy opportunist who makes everyone think he's as cool as it gets. Excellent flick, the best I've seen so far this year, and a breath of fresh air after David Fincher's last picture. **** stars.

Terrible. I love the first two movies--especially the first--but this is just unnecessary. Herbert West is practically a supporting character, and the acting is terrible even for a movie like this. No stars.

Interesting, at times intense film based on a Joseph Wambaugh's true crime novel about the murder of a police officer in 1963. John Savage plays a felony crimes officer whose life falls apart after his new partner (Ted Danson, very good) is murdered. James Woods (unhinged) and Franklyn Seales (in a great performance) are the thieves who kill the cop, and most of the movie details the trial that drags on and on, while Savage's life becomes a nightmare as he begins to feel--in part, thanks to the questioning of his superiors--that he could have acted more aggressively during the incident. The one problem the movie really has is that it tries to do too much inside of 122 minutes. Because there's so much that follows, the second half of the movie can be at times sketchy because it can be a collection of scenes instead of a continuous thread. It's still very interesting, but the first half, which establishes the characters and puts us front and center of a very tense build-up to a murder, is a live wire that the second half never lives up to. Still, it's one hell of a movie. ***1/2 stars.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Are Homosexuals People Just Like Us?

That's really the question I wish someone would ask President Obama, just to watch the wind go out of him. Because I still maintain that things like Don't Ask, Don't Tell simply teach children that bullying LGBTQ people until they kill themselves is the right thing to do. I mean, they don't have rights, so they must not really be people, right?

I was extremely disappointed to learn that, once again, the government's "Someone will fix it later" mentality prevailed and a federal appeals court today put an indefinite freeze on Judge Virginia Phillips' injunction on DADT.

In other words, DADT will continue. Indefinitely.

Legislated bigotry has been kept in place. This time, the lame excuse offered is that the injunction "will seriously disrupt ongoing and determined efforts by the Administration to devise an orderly change." That is, to me, like saying that the court knows the law is unjust and unconstitutional, but that it has to stay in place if the President is going to get rid of it.

In other words, the President will do it later, so the court just isn't going to deal with it.

Except let's be honest, the President isn't going to do it. No President is, especially in the first term. He says he opposes it, but when he gets this opportunity to let it all fall into place, he has the Justice Department appeal it and gets it extended indefinitely. I know Obama wants to end it legislatively, but he doesn't have the votes. He doesn't, and he won't. The Senate has blocked it. It's not going anywhere.

Look, someone has to end this goddamn thing and just get over the fact that some people are gay. It's not illegal, and it's not hurting anyone or anything. The President says he wants to end it, but he has yet to put his money where his mouth is. As far as I know, his attempts to end it legislatively are working the way he wants it to: it's stuck in the Senate, so he can say that he did something, but that the Republicans wouldn't come through. And he'll say it with a straight face, too. That same straight face that acts like it's shocked that Republicans were never ever going to do anything but tear the goddamn walls down for the pleasure of watching the destruction.

Doesn't anyone want to goddamn govern anymore?

Gee, Mr. President, still think it's a big deal that the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs are onboard? Because it hasn't made a bit of difference.

If you wanted to end it, you'd end it. Waiting for someone else to do it for you is just intellectually dishonest.

He's still saying "DADT will end, and it will end on my watch." He should at least have the grace to add the word "eventually."

November Banner; Still Going with the Bell

After the Party...

I can't believe it, but it is: Halloween is over. Already. October flew by. Well... until next year, pumpkins. Time to make pie out of you.

Kristen Bell Mondays

“I’m not a risk taker. I don’t do plunging necklines or really short skirts. I try to stay as classy as possible and provide a little mystery.”

:: "I, like every other stupid American, assumed the kangaroos would meet us at the airport and they would want to hug us as much as we wanted to hug them."

:: “I’m carded for R-rated movies. And I get talked down to a lot. When I try to go rent a car or buy an airplane ticket or other stuff adults do, I get ‘Okaaaaaay, honey.’ I remember when I was 18, getting crayons in a restaurant.”

:: "This is not to be cocky, but, I go over real well at Comic-Con. I've done quite a few Comic-Cons, and I enjoy the hell out of them. They are so much fun, and so bizarre. I've done the FX Show in Florida, Wizard-World in Chicago, Comic-Con in San Diego, Wonder-Con in San Francisco, the Comic-Con in New York, and I've done them numerous times."

"I'm very used to playing the tomboy or the sarcastic cynic. That's my go-to. Playing the vulnerable of a real girl that's in real womanlike situations, where it's romanticized, I'm a little nervous about it."

“I pushed myself way too hard during the first year of Veronica Mars and I got moody and run-down. Now I’ll go to bed early instead of going out with friends. It’s not always the most fun option, but I know I need at least eight hours of sleep to feel balanced."

:: "I did find out about the koalas and how eucalyptus makes them high and why they sleep all day. They're little druggies."

:: “I go on YouTube, because it makes me laugh, and I check my e-mail. That’s all I do.”

:: "I'm not in the business of becoming famous. And that's the advice I give to younger aspiring actors. Work onstage and do the little roles. In the end it's not important to be seen. It's important to do. There's a lot of disappointment in this business, but my family keeps me grounded."

"When I see something unjust, I have to intervene - it's hard for me to watch the underdog suffer."

:: “I don’t think I have the stomach Veronica has. I think I have the determination and the stubbornness and a little bit of the go-get-em. But I think I’m about 20 percent more girl than Veronica is. There’s a lot of Veronica that hits home with me, the sort of feisty area. But I think that I have a little bit more girl. I’d scream my head off if I saw a body in the freezer.”

:: "I'm not homely enough to play the nerdy girl and not nearly pretty enough to play the pretty girl."

"I'm empathetic to a fault. I really do - embarrassingly enough - tear up when someone squishes a bug in front of me."

:: "I like the satiric, consistent nice guy."

:: “I’m an awful driver. I’m not going to lie about it. I’m not a good driver. I tried for a long time to pretend that I was. There’s a lot of road rage and a lot of times it’s directed at something I’ve done on the road.”

:: "I love nerds. Comic-Con junkies are the tastemakers of tomorrow. Isn't that funny? The tables have turned."

"I loved Catholic school. I didn't like being beeped at by old pervs at the gas station because I was wearing a plaid skirt, though. It's like, do you think I'm going to stop and give you my phone number?"

:: "I'd do pretty much anything to get back on stage."

:: "Cute is great but you get it a lot and you want to scratch your face off. It's like, I'm not fucking cute, you fuck. I am a woman and I am voluptuous."

:: "I rarely wear clothes when I'm home by myself. I love making breakfast naked. But you've got to make sure the gardener's not coming that day."