A Slice of Fried Gold

Sunday Recommendations: Movies

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Up (Co-directed by Pete Docter and Bob Peterson, written by Bob Peterson)

It seems like every time Pixar releases a new movie, I have to carefully consider two things: where this ranks in Pixar's library of classics, and where it ranks in my list of all time favorite movies. With Wall-E and Ratatouille, both lists faced seismic changes, and with the release of Up, Pixar has predictably done it again.

Up is so much more than the previews let you imagine, and it once again shows the brilliance of Pixar as a whole. It's part comedy, part adventure, part action, part drama, part romance, and all totally life affirming and fun for everyone. It's not even just the completely obvious sections of genius, such as the creation of the brilliant comedic character of Doug the talking dog or the completely charming (and silent besides music) montage of Carl and Ellie's life together, but in the details as well. Watching what the dogs are doing in the background on the Spirit of Adventure. Catching pop culture references anywhere and everywhere on the screen. Non-verbal bits of communication amongst characters. Up tells a better tale with what it doesn't say than most movies do with entire screenplays.

Every character in the movie is on par with the best Pixar has created, but Carl, Russell and Doug are every bit as brilliant as the cream of the crop characters. Peterson's inclusion of intelligent dogs who could speak via a special collar was a truly inspired decision, allowing for endless opportunities in terms of hilariousness and a strangely touching look at the relationship between a dog and his master, with Doug and Carl's relationship being impossible not to love especially if you have ever owned a dog.

I could go on and on about this movie, from the better than ever animation to the once again brilliant score by Michael Giacchino to the superb voice acting, but there is no reason you shouldn't just see it. It's far and away the best movie of the year so far. Also, make sure you show up early as the short before the movie is hilarious and strangely touching as well - the perfect pair to the movie that follows it.

Up: A

Good Bye Lenin! (Directed by Wolfgang Becker, written by Wolfgang Becker and Bernd Lichtenberg)

As a person who doesn't necessarily go out of his way to see foreign film, I have to admit the reason I saw this was entirely because of my current obsession with composer Yann Tiersen. Having listened to the score numerous times over the past few weeks, the movie had a head start in terms of developing emotional resonance with me.

The mere fact that this German film is a remarkable one helped quite a bit as well.

It's about a family torn apart by the divide created by the Berlin Wall after World War II, and what happens when the matriarch of the family (a big figure in the world of Socialist Berlin) goes into a coma and misses the fall of the wall and Germany's speedy transition into a western influenced country. The main character is the woman's son Alex, who does everything he can to extend her life by convincing her that nothing has changed and that the wall never fell. A lofty and difficult premise, but one that works incredibly well and does a lot (through humor and very well done dramatic scenes) to demonstrate what it was like for Germans when the wall fell, and the unsaid longing for things to stay the way they were.

Daniel Bruhl, the actor who portrays Alex, is just an impossibly good actor. His performance in the movie is the backbone of the entire film. Swiftly alternating between bringing a levity to tough situations, exhibiting inhuman amounts of patience to scenes, displaying what it is like to be young and in love, and seeming real in his ability to genuinely care for everyone, the guy is a revelation. The fact that Hollywood hasn't attempted to bring him over and force him to act in nearly everything is ridiculous to me.

This film is also quite brilliant visually, with Wolfgang Becker creating some truly dynamic images throughout the film. Between Becker, Bruhl and Tiersen, I am just completely perplexed how this was not a launching pad for some elite careers in Hollywood. Of course, that's probably why I am writing a blog instead of running a movie studio, but that's neither here nor there.

If you have no interest in foreign film, don't see this movie. It's fully subtitled and in German, so if you are unwilling to go that route, skip it. But if you are open-minded when it comes to that and want to see a wonderful little movie, check this out.

Good Bye Lenin!: A-

Sunday Recommendations: Music

Alongside the typical Weekend Edition's that I run, I'm currently aspiring to put out some recommendations of things to check out. I'm feeling the urge to write a lot more, so I think this will be the blogging equivalent of a shooter in basketball getting to the free throw line - I need the tiniest impetus to catch fire again. No less, I have a number of recommendations today, so I'm splitting it up into movies and music, with this edition being two albums in particular which have caught my ear.

The Thermals - Now We Can See

The Thermals are a bit of an enigma in my book. I always enjoyed individual songs from their albums quite a bit (for example, I completely love "Returning to the Fold" and "Here's Your Future" from the Body, the Blood, the Machine, but most of the rest of the album I never really got into) and think they are one of the most enjoyable live bands I've ever seen (seriously, see them if you ever get the chance), but I never got into whole albums. Perhaps because I never really sat down and gave it a lot of effort, perhaps because I just didn't like their full albums, who really knows. The point is they never produced an album I liked all the way through.

And after two or three listens of new album Now We Can See, it wasn't looking like they were going to break their streak, no matter how much I loved the fourth track that shares the albums title or "At the Bottom of the Sea," the monumentally long (at least for the Thermals) fifth track on the album.

All of a sudden though, it all clicked on listen number three. I realized I was singing along without even being aware of knowing the lyrics. I realized I was tapping my feet and my steering wheel to simulate the drum beats. On album standout "When We Were Alive," I started yelling out high points of lyrics and air guitar-ing to a particularly awesome bit of shredding (yes, I just admitted that last part to the world). In one listen, I went from being okay with the album to being completely in love with it.

Now I find myself listening to it nearly constantly, which works in direct opposition to the idea that their type of music (lyrically driven, under produced power pop - but with a message) is generally mood music for me. This album though, with its smily obsession with death, the ramifications/meaning behind that concept, and the perpetually driving guitar and drums based instruments, consistently surpasses the shackles of their genre in my mind. This album comes highly recommended from yours truly.

The Thermals - Now We Can See: A-

Peter Bjorn and John - Living Thing

Peter Bjorn and John (or PB&J as their fans so lovingly call them) is an interesting group, in that they quickly were one of the many groups who quickly eleveated from being "just another indie band" to being exhaustingly inescapable when their track "Young Folks" from 2006's Writer's Block became the de facto anthem of the world. Blame Shondra Rhimes, blame Starbucks, blame whoever. The fact is this band saw a mountain of backlash faster than any group really could possibly expect it, which is probably why their new album doesn't exactly sound a lot like their last album.

Of course, you don't naturally compare albums to other releases by the artist themself, so that doesn't matter. The question that really matters has nothing to do with the similarities of the two albums, but was this a good album? For the most part, the answer is yes. The strangest thing about the album is that the biggest positive is also the biggest negative - really no two songs feel the same. It gives the album quite the unique feel, but problematically, it also never allows the listener time to settle and get comfortable with the album.

The diversity and the lightness of the tracks definitely make this a fun album though, and the simplicity hidden within the songs make this album remarkably easy to singalong to. From the 80's pop throwback "You Don't Move Me" to the sure-to-be-divisive-but-well-loved-by-yours-truly chants in "Nothing to Worry About" (complete with support from a children's chorus!), there is an anthemic quality to most all tracks. While this album may not do much to bring high art to the world, it does something similar to Phoenix's brilliant album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix (but to a lesser and more inaccessible degree) in that it brings pop to high art. That's an idea I can get behind any day of the week.

Peter Bjorn and John - Living Thing: B

Half Hour of Power

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Myself in my super hero costume

Every day, I extend a 16 oz. triple shot almond rocha/white chocolate americano with steamed half and half (that's right - my coffee is 14 words long, I am such an ass) from a quick beverage to a day long extravaganza. I manage to slow roll that bad boy by continuously microwaving it back to the intensely hot temperatures I prefer it at (I will not drink cold coffee). I get awesome value out of my coffee, and one that provides me piping hot and delicious energy throughout the work day.

It also provides me with the most magical part of my day, and something I've just recently started calling my half hour of power (sort of like DC comics character Hourman...except for half as much). Right when I get to the end of my coffee, I chug probably the last 3 ounces or so because I am also lazy, and laziness is not conducive to getting up and microwaving once more. When drinking quick half ounce sips for an entire day, I don't really derive much energy whatsoever from the coffee - just enough to maintain wakefulness and effectiveness. However, when I pound that last bit, it's like my entire body is lit on fire.

It's like I become a superhero.

I fill cellular orders at incredible rates. I edit telemarketing scripts with remarkable ease. I leap over logistical roadblocks that are miles high. In short, I become some sort of super employee, fueled by coffee, my sweet, sweet nectar of life.

And then I crash harder than a Nascar driver racing against a tree.

Why doesn't that ever happen in comics?

Totally not cool.

Scott Pilgrim vs. Every Comic Movie Ever

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The first place I ever saw anything about Scott Pilgrim was a few years ago at the Loussac Library in Anchorage, Alaska. Scott McCloud was speaking to a small but captive audience about understanding comics, and he used an interview with Pilgrim creator Bryan Lee O'Malley and a page from the first volume of the series (titled Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life) to demonstrate the comic book artform. Off that one page, a simple page of Scott and roommate Wallace Wells riding on a bus talking about how Scott was dating a high schooler, had me hooked, and I received the series for Christmas to fill my desire to read them. After reading the first four, they quickly moved into the upper echelons of my "favorite comics" list.

Fast forward a few years, and we've received the penultimate fifth book of the saga (similarly high quality as the previous four) and the fantastic news that there is a movie going to be made starring Michael Cera and directed by Edgar Wright titled Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. It's coming out in 2010, and after looking into it, I'm completely and utterly convinced that it will be the best comic book movie ever, save possibly the Dark Knight. Here's five reasons why:

1. The Cast

When a comic book movie is being made, a lot of the hype and attention from fanboys goes to who gets cast as who in each role. Scott Pilgrim is no different, and from my point of view, it has been impeccably cast so far. Michael Cera as our goofy and aloof hero is about as good of a choice as you can come up with, as the character is pretty similar to his one in Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist ultimately. His special lady friend Ramona Flowers was also really well cast, with cute as all hell Mary Elizabeth Winstead filling the role. In terms of looks, she's perfect for the role, but the biggest question with her is how are her acting chops? She's never really had to stretch too much before, but I guess it's good that she's playing the mysterious and ever-changing Flowers then.

The key to the movie (and you could argue the books as well) is in the supporting cast, however. In that regard, this movie is remarkably well cast. The standout is Kieran Culkin as Wallace Wells, who is the best actor in the cast and a person who is perfect for the role of Scott's gay party boy best friend. This guy is one of the most underrated actors out there, and is going to knock it out of the park. Having fun actors like Chris Evans, Brandon Routh, and Jason Schwartzman in as evil exes of Ramona is quite the coup as well.

The rest of the cast is filled with relative unknowns (and Plant from Arrested Development!), but I think that was an exciting and smart choice by all involved. This is the type of movie where you need a bit of authenticity to it, which isn't something that is easily filled by movie stars. Plus, it's super Canadian. Gotta keep it real, people.

2. Edgar Wright

Edgar Wright is the man.

There really isn't anything else you can say about the guy, as his career has been spotless so far in my mind. Spaced, Shaun of the Dead, and Hot Fuzz are all major successes in terms of creatively and from a pop culture standpoint, and the guy just gets it. Everything in his career so far makes him look a pop culture contemporary of Bryan Lee O'Malley, a guy who adds to the social consciousness by harkening back to everything that made it great to begin with. I really don't think there is a single director in the world I would prefer to be making this movie.

3. Keeping Bryan Lee O'Malley involved

From the get go, Wright has kept Pilgrim creator O'Malley involved. He pretty much had to, as the movie is going to run through the whole story and O'Malley hasn't wrapped it up yet, but the fact that O'Malley is helping with visuals and the actors with characters is a huge reassurance.

Movies like the Dark Knight or Iron Man work because they feel like brand new issues of our favorite characters, telling us new stories that capture everything that is right about our beloved universe. Because of that, keeping creators involved can be a detriment, as it reduces the unique vision the filmmakers may have. However, with a movie like Pilgrim where they are trying to follow the story closely, you need the creator involved to accurately capture the story cinematically, otherwise you could lose the feel of the story (i.e. Watchmen with no Alan Moore). Keeping O'Malley involved is a great step in making this movie all it can be.

4. Attention to detail

Recently, I came across Edgar Wright's flickr photostream and was completely blown away. He's sharing production pictures aplenty from the set of SPVTW and they are completely and utterly awesome. Not only are the pictures fun and completely capture the spirit of the comics, but their attention to detail is brilliant.

Look at the picture to the left, and you can completely visualize Ramona's costume, complete with her star bag, crazy hip clothing, and roller blades. Look to the right and imagine walking into your local record store to pick up the new Clash at Demonhead album. That's the kind of attention for detail that you want in this movie, not only capturing the spirit but creating this universe, a world where we level up, a world where hot women carry big hammers, a world where you have to battle evil ex-boyfriends to get the girl of your dreams.

They've created all of that and more, and with a simple photostream, I'm sold completely.

5. Ummm...best comics ever?

Let's be real here. Every movie that is adapted from a brilliant source has a head start (or in terms of Scott Pilgrim, brilliant source = +2 to plot, +3 to characters) in the race to awesomeness. Given that Scott Pilgrim is definitely a top fiver for my all time favorite comics (that's Preacher, Y the Last Man, Fables, Bone, and then this thank you very much), to say I am excited is an understatement. The fact that the story seems to naturally translate well to film and that everything else is going so swimmingly really just seals it.

This movie is going to be everything I want from a comic book movie, and it will be your next favorite movie.

Trust me.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World comes out some time in 2010 from Universal Pictures.

Originally posted at Multiversity Comics by yours truly. See that here.

Oh my! A recommendations post!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Due to the fact that my European posts and my evisceration/condemnation of the Anchorage Daily News (next on my list for posts to make) are so freaking time consuming, I will save those to write this weekend. Until then, I'm going to write smaller posts, and once I complete the European/ADN posts I will get back to the regularly scheduled broadcasts. I swear. No less, there are a few things I've been pretty obsessed with. I, of course, must share.

Party Down

This show had to be good. There really was no way for it to not be, as it is created by Rob Thomas (of Veronica Mars fame) and produced by Paul Rudd and stars a virtual who's who of funny character actors (Ken Marino, Ryan Hansen, Jane Lynch, the ravishing Lizzy Caplan, Adam Scott, and Martin Starr, plus all kinds of great guest stars). Of course, it started a bit slow, but every episode since has improved drastically to the point that I would call it maybe the funniest show on TV right now (with possible exception of Better Off Ted, the bizarrely awesome office comedy on ABC).

It has one more episode that guest stars the wonderful Kristen Bell, and then it has already been picked up for another season by Starz! While it's not exactly high concept, as it is about out-of-work actors and writers who are trying to pay the bills working for a catering company called Party Down, it is very well acted, sharply scripted, and occasionally painfully funny. I know no one really has plans on sitting inside this summer, but if you get a chance, watch this show. It comes highly recommended from yours truly.

Yann Tiersen

Some time in the last year, I was having coffee with my sister when I was totally enchanted by the music that was playing. Being the dork that I am, I asked my sister to go ask who they were playing, and they told her it was the soundtrack to the French film Amelie. At the time, I had seen the movie once (since have grown to love it, partly because of the soundtrack) and did not remember the music to be all that, but hearing it once again at Kaladi's inspired me to acquire it.

I quickly fell in love with it.

As a guy who likes his movie scores, I really, really loved this one. I could even say it was my favorite of all. After this though, I discovered that it was a French artist named Yann Tiersen who had made most of the album, and I hastily acquired the rest of his work. After going to France and listening to his music repeatedly, I can now safely say that I love his music. Whether or not it is because of the permanent association with the amazing time I had in Paris, I'm not sure. One way or another, Tiersen's multi-instrumental work is bar none some of the most creative and breathtaking work I've heard, and his discography really has a little bit of something for everyone (assuming you are okay with instrumentals).

My personal favorites are the Amelie soundtrack, his studio album Les Retrouvailles, and his score for Good bye Lenin!, but all of it is very good. He went from being unlisted in my Last.FM account to a surprising (even to me) number seven in terms of my all time most listened to artist (and by all time, I mean since I started using Last.FM). That's pretty impressive, and is a pretty good indicator that I like the guy's music. I strongly recommend checking him out.

Multiversity Comics

Given that I know the majority of my readership does not particularly care about comics, the fact that I'm now writing blogs for an actual comic blog will help cure you of those ills. The blog, Multiversity Comics, came from the comics thread that myself and a couple of the other writers all frequent. It is quite the thread, having nearly 15,000 posts over the last three or four years, and it is about time that we took our love of comics out into the blog world. Of course, the fact it was named after a yet to be released Grant Morrison monstrosity is not awe inspiring.

No less, I know that most do not particularly care for comics, but I wrote my first "column" tonight. It's a weekly piece on what comics are dramatically underappreciated, and I call it "How are you not reading these?!" I never claimed to be a creative title crafter. Check it out, if you're interested!

The Weekend Edition

Monday, May 18, 2009

Blogging has been coming really infrequently for me lately, so my apologies to my small but rabid readership. That's right. I called you rabid. This weekend was quite busy and I just couldn't get to blogging. What went down?

  • Frisbee golf aplenty
  • Adventureland at Bear Tooth with Hannah, Amy, and Jason
  • Drinks at McGinley's, shuffleboard at Buckaroo
  • Posting vacation pics to Facebook (finally)
  • Going to an open house and lunch with mom
  • Hannah's going away BBQ out at the Lake (awesome campfire conversations plus Sublime singalongs with Amy on the way back)
  • Tossing a frisbee and a truly hysterical episode of SNL with Amy
  • A burly breakfast at Harley's with parents
  • Red Wings/Blackhawks and Lakers/Rockets with Jason
  • Hannah's going away Snow City brunch
  • Hiking Flat Top with Jason and Amy (thanks 5 hour energy!)
  • Catching up on comics and Party Down
  • Bike ride along the coastal trail
So yeah, it was (even for me) an inordinately busy weekend. The reason is this: we've already had a nicer summer than last year, and it's freaking MAY. Last summer we had three days over 70 degrees (depressingly true), this year we've already had 3. It's mid to high 60's every day, sunny every day, and it's really, really hard to sit inside when it's so nice out. Yesterday I did that, but there were three hugh playoff games and I simply had to do that.

Still, if the summer continues like this, my blogging will definitely suffer. No offense to all of you, but I'd prefer my blogging to suffer. But I still have aspirations to write my Europe blogs, a condemnation of the Anchorage Daily News (as part of my strange, ongoing theme of "Print is dead" that I've been going with for the past year or so), and some comic recommendations. We'll cross that bridge when we get there though.

Chuck versus the Cancellation

The awesome episode "Chuck versus Tom Sawyer"

It's official - Chuck is coming back for season 3 for at least 13 episodes. After looking like a surefire lock for cancellation, massive fan support carried it onto NBC's schedule for next year. Great decision by NBC, as it is the best thing they have going for them right now and probably my favorite show on TV (with possible exceptions of Lost and How I Met Your Mother).

Starting the week off with Chuck and HIMYM always started the week right, and while I know it likely won't be the same next year (Chuck is probably switching days) I'm just glad I will have a new day of awesomeness to help me work through the doldrums of Alaskan winter. Hell yes to romantic comedies featuring dorky spies!

Kicking the crazy up a notch

Friday, May 15, 2009

So last night I watched my DVR'd copy of the Lost season finale, and given that it was Lost it was predictably insane. Going in to the final season, the series, from what I can ascertain, is at an incredibly uncertain point. Meaning no one on the planet save more than likely Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof have any idea what next season could even be about or who it will involve, and no one will find out until January of 2010 sadly. Really, I have never went into a season of a show with less knowledge of what it is going to be about besides the first seasons of shows. Those were like that because, simply put, there had never been any previous episodes. Even then, I generally would have a better idea of what they are about than season 6 of Lost.

So yeah, to say the finale was crazy is to put it lightly.

It shed some light on who the real orchestrators of this whole game is, it featured maybe the most tragic death of the whole series, it featured the final confrontation between our beloved Losties and the Dharma crazies, and plenty of other insanity. There was betrayal, intensity, forward movement, revelations, tragic scenes, great action, and even some intermittent hilarity.

In short, it was everything we could ask for as Lost fans, besides the fact that all of our previous questions have been replaced with the biggest (and most maddening) question of all:

What next?

Broke Inside

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

While reading my favorite comic thread on the internet, I came across a link someone posted. It was to good ol' Uncle Warren's site (Warren Ellis to the uninitiated, comic book writer and novelist extraordinaire) and a post he made about a group called Brokencyde and their recently released music video (as of November when this post was made). Now I had heard of Brokencyde and the truly epic levels of suck that they unleash upon people, but I never imagined that they could be so terrible. They are so bad, I feel confident in saying that they are the new low point in humanity, as they make dance rap music with screaming layered over the top and intensely emo messages hidden within, all complete with most not triumphantly coifed hair. Plus, they spell song titles with multiple x's.

In short, it's the most ridiculous thing that has ever been made. Ever. Within 20 seconds, I felt mildly ill from the badness (allegedly it reaches its' true low point around the 1:50 mark). Because I am either a masochist or I just couldn't take this one on alone, I had to share this with everyone. Enjoy!

Sit down and shut up

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

On Sunday night, game 4 of the Celtics/Magic series had an intense finish (ignoring the preceding 7 and a half minutes of offensive mediocrity and whistles) featuring a somewhat busted play (unless you really believe Doc Rivers saying Big Baby was the third option) and a buzzer beater by Glen "Big Baby" Davis to win the game 95-94 for the Boston Celtics. It was a great finish, and one that was both intense and amusing for the celebration by Big Baby, who first ran along the sidelines (shoving a kid out of his way in the process - see the 1:21 mark of the video) and then running off looking like a monster out at the Orlando Magic fans, who were stunned but transitioning into terrified.

As I watched Big Baby running the sideline, wiping out the kid in the process, I knew immediately that was not going to be all we hear about the kid getting shoved. It never is.

The kids dad was demanding an apology, and sadly enough Big Baby gave it to him.

That is ridiculous.

If you are sitting courtside, there are a few things you have to do. You should accept that you may draw some contact as the sport is an unpredictable one, and if you are sitting courtside don't start wandering towards the court just because your team lost. Otherwise you're going to get shoved out of the way by the celebrating road team. The guy should have been apologizing to the teams for not watching his kid closer, and the fact that he was doing the exact opposite of that sets a bad example for his kid.

Just because you have enough money to randomly sit courtside at a playoff game, does not mean you can do whatever you want and demand retribution for something spilling from on court to slightly off court. That just makes you an overly self important ass, which you probably are anyways.

The Forgotten Parcel

Sunday, May 10, 2009

A year and a half ago, I wrote a letter to Pia Guerra. Pia was the artist for one of my all time favorite comics, Y the Last Man. This comic was important for another reason besides just being one of my favorites - it was arguably the comic that got me back into comics. No less, the letter I wrote was two and a half pages telling her my story about getting out of comics and getting back into them after someone at Bosco's suggested Y. I also happened to send a comic backboard and asked for a drawing of Yorick and Ampersand, the main character and his pet monkey.

A year and a half later, I still thought about it time to time, but I never really expected to get any response. Predictably, just when I stopped thinking so often about it, it came in the mail and my parents surprised me with it this morning. Contained in it were a handwritten response from Pia, letting me know my letter was well received and why it took so long. Also enclosed was a wonderful drawing of Yorick and Ampersand, which to me (I of the rather untrained eye) looks like it took a good amount of work. It's really hard to tell what I loved more - the letter or the piece of art. Either way, I'm taking them both in to get framed together so I can treasure them forever.

Thank you so much Pia for the truly special gift.

Closer look on drawing

Movie Reviews: One surprising, one not at all

Predictably recommended: Star Trek

Over couple years, many people questioned JJ Abrams and his pending restart of the long stagnant Star Trek franchise. Some people questioned the casting, some questioned restarting such a treasured franchise, and some just questioned whether or not Abrams was the right architect.

Well it turns out the answers to their questions are as follows: the casting was great, restarting was a great idea, and Abrams was the right architect. Star Trek was wildly entertaining, at times touching, hilarious, and nearly always action packed. Restarting the franchise in a new world that is seemingly full of limitless possibilites (genius idea of Abrams to essentially establish this world as an alternate reality) was a wonderful idea, and everyone involved was game, from the ace leads of Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto as Kirk and Spock respectively, all the way through the superb support of John Cho, Simon Pegg, Anton Yelchin, Karl Urbanm and the ridiculously attractive Zoe Saldana. Plus, using Leonard Nimoy as a transitional character was a brilliant move.

The last thing I want to say about this movie is Abrams blows me away as a director. His movies have such a unique look to them, seemingly inventing a new style entirely his own over his short career. Star Trek took that style to a new level, and this movie is a visual masterpiece. I really cannot wait to see further adventures of the crew, led by their Captain JJ Abrams.

Not so predictably recommended: 17 Again

Having seen previews for this movie, I have to admit: it looked pretty cute. With that said, it still was a romantic comedy aimed towards the teen set, and it still starred Zac Efron, he of the High School Musical movies. Not exactly an auspicious start, but as it was Mother's Day and as a family we were going to see it, I figured I'd give it a fair shake.

I'm glad I did, as it was a very entertaining movie with a great message, albeit delivered in a pretty formulaic fashion. Efron provided effortless charm as guy having a second lease on life, trying to reconnect with his family while surviving high school a second time, and I have to admit, I was fairly impressed by the guy. As I told my nephew before the movie (he was far more skeptical of the movie than I was, as I have the secret love for movies aimed at families), Leonardo DiCaprio started his career as a heart throb type - maybe Efron is starting his career in a similar fashion. While I definitely do not think Efron will end up moving in that direction (Leo is a truly elite talent), I do think he has a future as more than just vacuous shell of charm and cool hair.

This movie is more of a recommended rental for those who have a spot spot for movies with messages and incredibly awkward (and strangely hilarious!) humor. At the very least, see it for hysterical Thomas Lennon as Efron's best friend/fake Dad and the top notch soundtrack. He is pretty much the dorkiest person on the planet, and every time he is on the screen he generates laughs and was everyone's favorite after the movie. The soundtrack was filled with tracks by Spoon, Santigold, Cat Power, and the Kooks (amongst others), and it perfectly fit the feel of the movie.

Now I am going to go shower because I feel dirty for writing that.

The Weekend Edition

So this was my first weekend since coming back to Europe, and it was one that was extremely necessary, as I really needed to get my mind back in an Alaskan way of thinking. It took me 4 or 5 days to do it, but I am finally getting there. The weekend was a very good one, but the details will be in follow up posts to better segment my ideas. Yay segmentation! Also, look for write ups on my trip over the next couple days, sociability permitting.

So all in all another awesome weekend, and the best thing I can say is just the continuing early summer we're getting in AK, with 60+ degree weather and tons of sunshine. We have no snow and (anti-jinx up the ying yang right here) it's looking like we could have a really nice summer for once. Let's hope so, because I have aspirations of lots of hiking, softball, and sitting on decks barbecuing. I'm going to live the dream this summer - Alaska style.

Manny gets busted for steroids, claims was used for hair

Thursday, May 7, 2009

"I didn't know I couldn't do that"

Manny Ramirez was busted for performance enhancing drugs today, which is resulting in a 50 game suspension from the MLB. It's uncertain right now who is more upset, the Los Angeles Dodgers or Bill Simmons, who someone should likely check on as he may be walking his dog to San Diego right now.

In reality, it should not be surprising at this point. Everyone probably has done it (I am definitely looking at you Brady "the 'burns" Anderson), but still, there was something pure and charming about Manny. To see that he's just another one of the steroids guys is very disappointing. At this point, they need to either throw out everyone's results from this era or keep everyone - you can't pick and choose any more.

That is all.

Back in Action

Well, I'm back from my prolonged vacation to wondrous continent of Europe. I come back enriched, refreshed, and with a bit of clarity and insight into who I am as a person. So yes, this was my stereotypical young American's quest to Europe, in which I find myself and have a lot of fun in the process. Hooray for stereotypes!

Over the next little while, I will be sharing pictures and experiences from Europe, probably going through each country in specific, with a couple posts for the more lenghty excursions (meaning Austria gets one post, and everything else gets multiple).

Before then, I think I will give a quick opinion on a bunch of things I missed. I can't miss that kind of opportunity, can I?

  • H1N1 = Over-Rated (clap, clap, clap clap clap), Over-Rated!
  • Niners stealing Michael Crabtree in the NFL Draft = NFC West Championship
  • New England Patriots = Haters of first round picks, lovers of winning Super Bowls
  • Wolverine = massively entertaining, really stupid at times, terrible at following comics
  • Chuck season finale = awesome, Chuck getting renewed = more awesome
  • NBA Playoffs = Best in quite some time (can't believe I missed Celtics/Bulls!)
  • Derek Fisher shoulder checking Luis Scola = insanely dirty and should result in suspension, plus I lost all respect for him
  • Over/Under on deaths in Lakers/Rockets series = 3 (at least they will be eternally remembered in a mural made in Ron Artest's hair)
  • My fantasy baseball team = spectacular
  • My knowledge of current music = non-existent
  • My excitement about Star Trek = through the roof
  • Seattle Mariners = AL West Champs? (I love defense!)
  • Months worth of missed comics and television = no social life
  • Three weeks of vacation + jet lag = extreme incompetence upon return at work

That is all for now. Look for Europe write ups this weekend, with many, many pictures.