The Sky60 Password Post

Saturday night after catching the Simpson’s with Bruce and Stacey, we headed downtown to go to a club Buck was DJing at. We hit a few places, namely the Lodge, before we went down to Sky 60 where Buck was spinning. We were on the guest list and where issued the password, which got us right in. Seriously even if the place was dead and Buck was mixing Abba records I’d be down for going just so I could use a password. Infact from now on if you want to come into my apartment there will be a password. Have something from the fridge? Password. Use the can? Pass. Word.

Sky60 is a rooftop club downtown with cabaƱas and a really stylish outdoor bar atmosphere. As friends of the DJ we got into a private cabana (with one of those little velvet ropes to separate the VIPs from the plebeians) which was icing on top of my password protected cake. Dave, Jess, Sharon and Jeremy where there too which was great as I hadn’t seen them in a good while. After closing time Bruce and I headed to a late night pizza kitchen for greasy goodness, that had me thinking very much of JMU’s Chinellos. Good night.

Oh, yeah, I pissed off a very large, car park attendant when honking at Bruce (in the car in front of me) in an attempt to get his attention. All I accomplished was getting royally jawed at by a very irate woman as I attempted to explain how I had no cash and needed my buddy in the car in front to spot me. She thought I was just being an impatient git. Put me in my place. I have since had the horn removed from the Celica.


The Simpsons Movie Post

The Simpson’s are without a doubt one of Americas favorite TV families, and over the years we’ve come to love not only the immediate family, but the extended collective of Springfield and its crazy citizens as well. From Lenny and Carl to Groundskeeper Willie, there are so many well established an hilarious characters to choose from, it’s hard not to find something to relate to and enjoy. The movie is not too different from the show. Except maybe longer, and with more of that 3D/2D effect on cars and buildings. Little touches have been made to bring the film up to box office caliber, such as a John Williams score for dramatic flair and to add some emotion when needed, and the animation is polished a little bit. The jokes hit like regular Simpson’s episodes and the plotline and subplots all could quite easily fill 20 minute shorts on Sundays, but somehow it all comes together really well and delivers a great movie when combined.

I was surprised when they started the advertising campaign for this movie; having it center around donuts. Yeah sure Homer eats donuts at work, but was it ever a main icon for the brand? There is one scene where donuts are briefly the focal point, but it’s in passing and feels forced. I have to say I’m pleased, because I’m not a fan of the idea of summing up Springfield, and all its characters, places and charm with a donut. Of all the things you could pick… My only other gripe with the film is that many characters don’t get much screen time. While this is totally understandable considering the massive portfolio of Springfeildians, some characters like Cletus get two or three lines that could have easily been delegated out to other fan favorites in order to spread the love wider. I’m pretty sure you can catch a glimpse of everyone on the roster at one point or another during the course of the film though.

Most gags are quick payoffs and one-liners but there are a few that stick and will be remembered when people think back to not only the movie but the Simpson’s franchise in general. Spider-pig is fast becoming the most irritably easy song to have stuck in your head for hours at a time, and Bart’s nude skateboarding had the whole audience rolling in laughter. I had a grin on my face from curtain up to curtain down despite (as Homer eloquently puts it) “I can’t believe we are paying to see something we could be watching at home for free. If you ask me everyone in this movie theater is a sucker! Especially YOU”. Well this sucker’s still smiling. And I’m willing to be most people will be too after seeing this film.


The Work Visa Post

It’s official. Sarah can now work legally in the US! After getting intent of employment from her company she traveled up to the Canadian boarder not once but twice to get the paperwork pushed through and a work visa issued. While I feel bad she had to spend most of this week in cars/motels, I’m stoked, particularly because this company has an Orlando office and allows for inner-company transfers after 6-months when something opens up. So if all goes according to plan she could be down here early 08! And best of all she already makes way more than me! I’m still expecting that PS3 for Christmas, Dearest.


The Book 7 Post

Tonight is a big night for fans of children’s books because tonight at midnight the decade long tale of Harry Potter comes to a close with the release of JK Rowling’s; Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. It’s just crazy to see the fervor this book is cooking up. I mean yeah I’m stoked to see how it all comes to an end, but there have been robberies and violent attacks already; armored cars carry the books to the back of certain book shops; and leaked copies are going on eBay for very steep prices. I have had my issue on reserve at the local Barnes and Noble for a few weeks now and I’ve listened to the last two books on mp3 to refresh my memory as to the resent plot details. At 12:01 tonight the first copy of the new Potter book goes on sale….To ME. That’s right. I am going to be one of the first to get my hands on the book and I have the wrist band to prove it. I Stopped by on my way to work today to see if they were doing the wristband-hold-a-spot-in-line program as they have done for big releases in the past (and get me some Starbucks) and sure enough they were, and bam, I got number one. There are 700 copies on reserve at this particular bookshop alone. I don’t care too much about getting the book fast. After all I have the reading ability of a gerbil and wont finish it for a week, but I do love jumping on hype trains and getting to stroll in at 11:55 and march to the front of a line of 700 people is going to pretty cool. Especially when half of them will probably be in full costume. I am also not apposed to selling my band to one of the 600-700 bracket while I’m there if they make it worth my while (and give me a wizard hat).

Updated July 22nd: So that’s it. The end, no more adventures for Harry and his friends. I have to say I had my doubts when the book sort of hit a rut a little before halfway through, and the dismissal of the basic ‘potter format’ followed in previous years. Though the ending is decisively brilliant and offers everything the fans have been expecting from this series. I look forward to reading them to my kids down the road.


The Short Notice Visit Post

Last week Sarah came down for an unexpected visit. With only one days heads up I didn’t get the chance to anticipate her arrival, so I spent the majority of last Wednesday cleaning profusely. We had a great time hanging about together, watching copious amounts of Scrubs episodes and getting stoked for the final Potter next weekend. Did a little apartment hunting as my lease here is up in a few short months too. Hunter’s Creek is the only area we spent any time poking about, but it seems really nice and a reasonably priced place to live. Bruce and Stacey treated us to a terrific dinner at PF Changs on Saturday which was really great, and we attempted to catch some stand up comedy one night at CityWalk (but arrived too late to get any tickets). Visited the new Cricketer’s Arms pub at Festival Bay as well which as cool, and watched comic/singer (Howie something or other) do his thing, which was hilarious and very entertaining. Plus I had my first scotch-egg in a good 10 years…delicious. It was a shame to see her go so quickly as I do so get used to having her around, but she had an interview today she needed to be back for that could work out nicely (with a transfer down here) if she lands it, so I’m ok with it.


The 'Phoenix Post

The Potter fans have had a lot to look forward to this year, what with a film, the final book to be released next weekend and the announcement of a theme park in the years to come. The Order of The Phoenix will do a grand job of satisfying the droves of ravenous diehards, but will, I feel, fail to ensnare any newcomers who have held out until this point. Those of us sold on the franchise and eager to lap up another film, will be quite satisfied with this attempt. ‘Phoenix keeps the plot progression at a good pace considering the long span in which the book takes place. Yates keeps the story flowing and the purpose clear where the book often falters in doing so by eliminated extravagant details and combining elements as effectively as possible. While this does take away from the original telling of the story, it tailors the plot to a more movie appropriate size.

A lot of the traditional Potter elements are absent this time around. There is no house cup; barely any classes; Draco is able to get two jibes in max; and the word ‘Quiddich’ isn’t even muttered in passing. Because of the fast moving plot all but a few elements had to be edited out it seems, though I am pleased with the ways they managed to sneak the Cho Chang and Filch storylines in without disrupting the main plot arc.

The climax of the film is less dramatic than the book, and though it does a better job of pushing Rowling’s message, it serves as a less satisfying conclusion to this chapter than its counterpart. Also, is it just me or is Gambon hard to swallow as a wizened, father figure that Dumbledore is supposed to be? Though if I had to point out an acting failure it would be fan elected Evanna Lynch’s attempt at Luna Lovegood. Her absent portrayal is a valid attempt at capturing the nature of the oddball character but merely paints a vapid and empty picture. Considering she is given more screen time that most of Harry’s cronies (Weasly isn’t our king?) this is a shame. When push comes to shove, however the fact is you are dealing with a Harry Potter story here, and unless you make it unrecognizable the film is going to be a winner due to the material alone.

All in all a great entry in the Potter film library and a valiant attempt at taming one of the more longwinded and less compelling books. Rushed at times, but necessarily so, I’d rank this as one of the better of the films thus far. And though it fails to capture the magical awe found in Columbus’ chapters it established much clearer character relationships and considering its place in the Potter timeline, this isn’t a bad thing.

The Game Design Post

Doritos chips are sponsoring a new contest for the Xbox 360 where in contestants are asked to design a Doritos inspired arcade game for Xbox Live. The winner gets his or her game developed and gets to work with the design team in the creation process. I would very much like to win that prize and could use you’re help in getting there. My idea is a simple one, and very much a lame sellout attempt as far as games go, but its what they are looking for in a winner. Click the link below to see my entry’s page. They keep track of how many visits each idea gets, and allow space for visitors to comment. So if you had a moment, drop by and stay how the game sounds like something you’d love to play or how it’s a great ideas using the brand…or whatever praise you can stomach leaving. I really appreciate it! While you are there take a look at some of the other ideas, then come back to mine and maybe you’ll feel like being more generous with the comments (some of the other ideas are awful!) Tell your friends! CLICK HERE.


The Fireworks Post

Last night I met up with the Godzik’s at CityWalk to catch a movie and watch the Universal fireworks display. All the parks go to town for their Independence Day firework displays so you really can’t go wrong if you head to either or. But CityWalk doesn’t require park access, has a movie theater (I was itching for some Transformers) and is right next to the Hard Rock Hotel, which is where we headed to kill time before the big show. Spent dsome time throwing some air-hockey matches to Bruce’s kids in the arcade, had some really good crab cakes at The Kitchen, and the mosied back to the Universal gate to catch the show. The fireworks were pretty impressive. The sheer volume of explosions and colors in the short time span the show ran for was really impressive. Short, but sweet is definitely how I’d describe it. I caught the last few seconds with my camera which you can check out below. Leaving the area was INSANE. There were over 30,000 people surging towards the exits after the last bang, and it was almost scary how packed it got. You could have body-surfed all the way from the JP ride in the back of Islands of Adventure right to your car door… it was nuts. And traffic was abysmal leaving, as you’d expect. I actually stayed back and spent some more time on the strip while the lemmings marched out. Still had to wait my fair share in the parking deck but it would have been ten times the wait had I left with the masses.

The Transformers Post

Transformers is a fantastic franchise, once which most children of the 80’s and early 90’s grew up with. Unfortunately I never got into the brand as it was not broadcast back in the UK (we got the toys and I played with a few around friends houses, but never really got into it). I had a happy childhood, one that I’d not change much about, that said, having seen Michael Bay’s recent attempt at bringing the property to the big screen I can say for certain that I missed out considerably.

It’s said that there is an 8 year old boy inside every man. This film has everything a 8 year old boy could ever want in a film and more. Cool cars, big explosions, interstellar super heroes, morphing big rigs…you name it, it’s here. For those of us not willing to accept our inner juvenile urges there is a hot chick to look at, a loyal bond between man and machine, government cover-ups and….another hot chick to look at. Shia LaBoeuf does a believable (though not as phenomenal as he is being hyped) performance, as does most of the cast. Considering they are talking to giant, talking, robo-cars, that’s an impressive accomplishment. The movie suffers however from an overload of human characters that could really have been consolidated to make the plot flow smoother without so many superfluous subplots to visit. That, and John Turturro’s agent character is so out of place and overacted that it cheapens many important scenes to a shameful degree. Visually the movie is stunning. The robots are breathtaking, the lighting and angles really emphasize the grand scale of the film, and the slow motion filters during the chases and battle scenes really showcase the awesome animation.

The movie however relies too much on previous understanding of the Transformers show/toys and falls a little flat on non-fanboys. A little too much is not laid out for the oblivious in the audience, to a degree where it really starts to feel like you are watching a film for a different crowd. I enjoyed it wholeheartedly, don’t get me wrong. And there is so much to this film that is absolutely brilliant, but I definitely felt disadvantaged not knowing the premise and outcome of the previous television iterations. Yet it's hard not to walk out of the theater, get behind the wheel of your car and think in your inner 8 year-old voice; “what if my car was a transformer?” and that is where the movie succeeds. It’s going to be big. And it deserves it.


The Screenwriter Post

Today was an interesting day at the office, and presented an awesome opportunity for me. I was invited into my first creative meeting concerning video products. I spent the rest of the day writing up a script and I’m now at the story boarding stage. I can't say too much more regarding what the script is intended for, but hopefully will have more to share when things become official.


The Ratatouille Post

I’m not entirely sure what it is that separates Pixar animated films from all the other production houses’ efforts out there. And while I am not able to spell out how or why they completely overshadow the competition with compelling, beautiful and entertaining films, my high opinion of them is bolstered with every one of their efforts I see. Ratatouille is the latest to add to that list. I don’t mean to say that everything Pixar puts out is gold (a Bug’s Life was not the strong follow up to Toy Story I had hoped, and Finding Nemo lacked much more than gorgeous visuals), but there is a certain je-ne-sais-quoi to the overall quality of a Pixar piece when compared to all the ogres and penguins out there.

Ratatouille takes liberties with a far fetched plot, even for a Pixar fantasy, but pulls it all together with a rich cast of characters, a simple, yet compelling plotline, and visuals to die for. The refreshingly low key celebrity voice cast works wonders for the characters and beats any star-studded lineup seen recently. Character design is flawless, in both animal and human categories. The villainous Anton Ego is something straight out of a Tim Burton inspired nightmare and illustrates how much high-caliber character development can really pay off. The water and fur effects are breathtakingly complex and the environment modeling brings the Parisian night to life in a stylized way fit for a canvas.

My only issues are with the ending, which I won’t detail, but sufficed to say it seemed cobbled together and not as resolute as I’d have hoped. But with many laughs along the way, great characters and top notch production values, this movie is a must see that wont leave a bad taste in your mouth.

The Homicide Detective Post

Had a bit of a scare last Friday when Brent and I were pulled over on the way to Millenia by a Police roadblock not 200 yards from my apartment (around he same spot I got my speeding ticket last year coincidentally). They just wanted to run a check on my license and proof of insurance, but it was scary when a homicide detective came over and handed us a sheet of faces and asked us if we knew anything about the murders of the people pictured. Apparently they were all killed in the area very recently in pretty theft attacks… not too encouraging. Brent wasn’t deterred and actually thought it was pretty badass. Me? I am just sinking back into my initial paranoia about where I live, considering these cops were telling me all this while I could look over their shoulders and see my apartment complex.

The Lillard Visit Post

It seems that Florida is being invaded by Virginians this past month. Last week I had visits from Naomi and Dean, the Wantulas and most recently my buddy Brent form GMU. He was down on a business trip to close a deal with Lockheed Martin and opted to stay in town for a while to chill and hang out chez Jamie. While I was off at work for the majority of his trip, he kept himself occupied at the local skate park and bars and got to sample some of the awesome stuff there is to do around here. Each night we went out to someplace different and had a blast. Hit Church Street downtown one night and partied at Mako’s and Latitudes as well as got some killer food from this new restaurant that happened to be opening up that night; Urban Flats. Had a gorgeous seared tuna flatbread that I will definitely go back for. We made a trip out to Cocoa Beach and hung out at Coconuts and a few other places on the shoreline. We stopped by Fairvilla Megastore to see if we couldn’t snag a few pictures with Jenna Haze (who was advertised as being there) but after getting in line we found that polaroid’s where 20 odd bucks and no digital cameras were allowed… so we passed. Hit up the Blue Martini a couple of times as well, which we were both pretty impressed with. I think I’ll go back sometime soon, apparently Thursday nights are their prime time according to Bruce. It was good to see Brent again and just hang out and shoot the shit like we did back in college. From the sounds of things he’ll be coming back relatively frequently in the future on similar trips, which I look forward to.

The Disney Quest Post

The Wantula family were down in Orlando this past week doing a Disney trip for Andrew and Gaby (previous campers at Village Green that Sarah and I had in our group) and Andrew wanted to hang out with me at Disney Quest, so I met up with the family after work on Wednesday. Disney Quest is an indoor arcade at Downtown Disney, which before last week, I had only ever seen from the outside. The massive green block is rather unremarkable on the exterior but on the inside it’s a whole other story. The sheer level of different interactive games an activities inside the place is staggering and I am still not quite sure how they fit it all inside. We had a ball in cannon equipped bumpercars, building a roller coaster simulator and then getting to ride it, blasting pirates from a rocking ship deck, and a whole lot more. Disney really have gone the extra mile to make the arcade quite impressive, which makes it all the more unusual that they barely advertise the place at all. I had a lot of fun hanging out with Andrew, and I know he enjoyed the time we spent together. I had to call it a night after playing a lightsaber VR simulator though, as I felt sick as a dog after unstrapping the helmet. Not that VR makes me nauseous, more so the graphics in the game we so dated that I was thrown for a loop. For some reason blocky, first person stuff makes me feel pretty rotten. To this day I can stomach about 5 seconds of Doom before I need to lay down. Got some hilarious footage of this one guy playing the same game…lets say a little less gracefully. Great to see the Wantulas again.

The Live Free Post

I am a fan of the first three Die Hard films (well at least 1 and 3), so I was pretty much going to like this film regardless unless they changed the formula up to an extreme degree, Fortunately, the heart and sole of the original Die Hards is still intact, albeit buried under a lot of fluff and superfluous techno mumbo jumbo. I will say right off the bat that Willis is still John McCain, through and through. Sure older and balder, but considering the age difference between the films he pulls the role off phenomenally. For the most part all the acting flows well especially the minor, but essential role of Officer Bowman (Cliff Curtis), which I think really pulled the not-so-believable plot down to a stomachable story. Justin “Hey PC” Long is great as the techno savvy geek boy who accompanies Willis through an age McCain is clearly struggling to keep up with, and does a great job and adding the necessary stress and panic that keeps the pace thrillingly fast. The only casting job I find issue with is Timothy Oliphant as super hacker Thomas Gabriel. Somehow he doesn’t come across as the ruthless bad guy he needs to be, which is further weakened by his character’s reliance on ‘lesser-hackers’ to do the dirty work he should be able to do (he is portrayed as the hacker of all hackers).

Willis’ character is the man during the movie, as one would expect. Why shoot someone when you can launch an SUV at them? The way McCain steps back to laugh at the elaborate action once in a while makes the implausibility vanish and keeps the audience in ‘summer blockbuster’-mode. His pairing with Justin Long works well and the two are quite the team, chemistry and all. I find it funny that Justin Long’s character is the nerdy hacker type, who chugs RedBull and stares at monitors all day as opposed to shaving; yet he is supposed to be the sophisticated cool-computer user in all the Mac ads. The contrast is amusing, and I wonder how well Apple is taking his blockbuster geekyness image. Meh, he made me want to by a Mac, so I think they are just sitting about talking on their iPhones and counting money at this point.

The film itself, though far more implausible than previous entries, is fast paced, easy on the eyes, action packed and well stoked with entertaining showdowns and obstacles for McCain to hurdle. A tad long for its own good, but entertaining throughout. I would have nixed the harrier scene personally, as it pretty much epitomizes all that is wrong with this movie; a long drawn out battle that’s too flashy and unbelievable to fit within the story. McCain’s character is a broken hero, too old to stay in the game, but he steps up because there is no one else to fill the role. Die Hard 4 is the same way. It’s a nostalgic tribute to the action heroes of the past, who needs to hang up his hat and retire, letting the newer franchises take over. Though I am very glad to see McCain back in action and I’m glad he stepped up to the plate one more time. Yippee-Ki-Aye…