The Ghetto-mobile Post

When I went to go get gas on Friday at the 7-11 across the street, I pulled up at the pump and pressed the release button to open the gas hatch to the side of the Celica. Not only did it open but it fell right off. The hinges have given way and the sad little panel was left dangling form the gas cover by a small plastic tether. I ended up having to borrow some scissors from the clerk and cut it off, then duct-taping the panel back in place after filling up. I’m taking it to the garage tomorrow to find out exactly how much its going to set me back. I love my car, but it kills me to see it in such a state of disrepair. I care about my stuff and I like to keep things in good condition, but the Celica seems determined to hate me. This gets added to the list of other ailments the car has including: Squeaking ceiling panels, dysfunctional cigarette lighter/charger, peeling window tinting, bent and mangled under panels, chipped paint on hood, clear-coat peeling on spoiler, and my personal favorite: stolen side skirts. So really the duct tape fits the look rather nicely when I think about it.

The Step Bros. Post

Ever been sitting around with some friends and a random joke will spur off into a series of random jokes that get elaborated on until one guy says “Dude this would make an awesome movie!” ? Well this is that movie. And sorry dudes, but it’s not funny and you all suck.

Will Ferrell scrapes the very
bottom of the barrel and clings to his list of ‘stuff that worked in the past from my old movies’ once again to cobble together this new addition to his man-baby film collection. Step Brothers was never going to hit any ‘best of’ lists in my eyes, but even with such low expectations going into the cinema I still managed to be let down by this one. The whole movie was clearly nothing more than a mildly humorous setup that strung together a set of jokes that they wanted to get on the screen. Like Anchorman before it however there are some good quotable in this stinker that will probably merit it a small following. But even the most die-hard Ferrell fans have to question this one.

The usual background comics to-be are here with bit parts that would fit in a stupid SNL sketch better than a movie. Seth Rogan was tricked by his colleagues into
making a brief appearance which was a mistake on his part that I don’t think he’ll make again. The only cast member I didn’t hate was John C. Reilly, but I think that’s just because I’ve only ever seen him in one or two of these comedies and he hasn’t worn out on me yet.

The movie scores a few points for the mid-credit-scene which involved two full grown men pounding the tar out of some bratty elementary school kids. But that’s all. I was very disappointed to see Judd Apatow’s name tied to this one, as I was under the impression he was the one to save this type of comedy from itself. Apparently not.


The TikiBar Post

When back home this past weekend I realized that I hasn't been very diligent about reporting its progress over the years. While it was officially 'done' before I left for Orlando Dad has been making constant upgrades and additions to the area as well as maintaining the finishes and keeping everyhting running smoothly. It looks really great and I know he is very pleased with it. It's a great place to hangout and chill, which is exactly what we did all weekend. I shot some video with my camera while I was back and put together this little video to showcase the garden. It's pretty awesome and sports a tikibar / pirate beach theme. Check it out.

Ps. I don't know why there is such a large black border around the video, but it took somewhere between 4 and 5 bajillion years to upload to YouTube so it will have to do for now.

The Summer Movie Post

So as you may have noticed I have been seeing a lot of movies this summer. I’m a sucker for summer-movie-season and I love a good blockbuster while munching on popcorn. The fact that I can see a movie theater from my bedroom window, and am within a 5 minute drive to three cinemas and an Imax definitely ads to my movie fervor of late. Anyway I figured that while reviews have been such a large portion of my blogging recently that I should offer a summer movie review post. Below is a list of the ‘must-see’s of 08 according to this ignorant blogger. Please bare in mind that I had enough sense to skip the Love Guru’s and Meet Dave’s out there so I am rather biased. I assure you though those movies where horrendous and promise that even though I didn’t see them, if you think otherwise, you are wrong.

Dark Knight- 9/10
Best movie thus far. But you already know that because you saw it opening night and helped to the $155.3 million this guy has made so far. Nice Joker costume by the way! [review]

Wall.e- 9/10
This is the best family offering this summer and one of the most charmingly likable movies in Pixar’s portfolio. If you haven’t seen him yet, go catch Wall.e this weekend.

Speed Racer- 9/10
This movie underperformed and was crapped-on by pretty much every critic out there. But honestly I absolutely loved this one. It’s a special flavor, but one I’d recommend at least sipping at.

Hancock- 7/10
It’s not great, and it’s as flawed as its protagonist; but Hancock has merit enough to warrant a viewing. Fingers crossed for an unrated Blu-Ray release though!

Indiana Jones 4- 7/10
Yeah ok the ending was pretty bad. But you can’t not love Indiana Jones. Unless of course you are a Nazi… That’s what I thought.

Ironman- 6/10
It’s good. Just not as great as people want you to think it is. See it, but not at the expense of the others on the list. Batman really puts it in its place despite a stellar Downey Jr.

The blockbusters are pretty much wrapping up now that Batman has made his entrance but there are still a few good movies coming out before the school buses start popping up on the streets again. It’s coming up on comedy season and there are a few that have caught my eye namely Pineapple Express, Hamlet 2 and Tropic Thunder, all of which look to be hilarious in there own right. Maybe I’ll give Step Brothers a shot, but Farrell has used up his schtick in my opinion and I don’t know how much more man-baby I can handle.

The Trendy Slurpee Post

I like to consider myself somewhat of an office trendsetter. Last year I got everyone hooked on microwave paninis for lunch. Shortly after I became the first member of the ‘office-look-a-like wall’ in the break room. And now I have something new and even more office-tacular! Seven Eleven has this new line of Aluminum Slurpee straws that do a fantastic job of keeping your drink cool, looking awesome in cool metallic colors and…as a dart shooter? The latest craze at the office is Slurpee straws. Ok well, MY latest craze is Slurpee straws and I bought them for everyone in my department. Turns out that these bad-boys make the perfect launcher for inner office amusement, and when combined with push pins and foam core (both of which are in abundance in the Art Department) make for some brilliant target practice while transferring big files or waiting for something to download. What’s that? Your computer died for the 5th time today while rendering a project? That’s cool, don’t get mad. Have a few rounds of Slurpee target practice while you wait for it to boot back up! Stress levels are down 50%! I deserve the Nobel Peace Prize. Or at least some fresh thumb tacks. I must admit though, I was scared by the alarmingly large amount of co-workers that said it looks like a crack-pipe.

The Nana and Papa Post

Last weekend I was treated to a ticket to go back to Virginia to spend some time with Nana and Papa who where visiting from Scotland. It was great to see them as well as the whole family again. In typical Nana and Papa fashion I was the spoiled grandson and as I type my face is covered in Malteasers and my desk has Airwaves and Tablet strewn across it’s surface. We also went out to a lovely dinner to the Oliver Garden with Ali and Bob, as well as Lel and Craig who are both in town too. It’s a real shame they missed Stefan by a few weeks though as I know they would have loved to see him too. Has a nice chill session all together under the tiki-bar as well as had a nice dip in the pool before having to head back for work on Monday. Nana and Papa will be staying over at Ali and Bob’s next week continuing their vacation, which is nice (they where at Mum and Dad’s last week). That’s the plus side of having all your daughters in one place I suppose. Good thinking guys!

The Dark Knight Post

A Dark Knight is the best Batman movie ever made. It is the best super hero movie ever made. It is the best movie this summer. And it is one that I will add to any ‘best of’-list from here until the new caped crusader lands on screens for a third outing. The movie far exceeded my expectations (which where ludicrously high) and is without a doubt the best bang for your buck you’ll get at the movies this year. Christopher Nolan’s darker-dark knight is exactly what the franchise needed and joins the short list of sequels that are actually better than the first.

There is so much that goes on in the Dark Knight that it’s almost draining to sit through the whole two and a half hours. Not because it’s tiresome, but because as movie goers we get little practice being so riveted in one long sitting. The casting is phenomenal and everyone pulls their weight, old and new, even Maggie Gyllenhaal’s re-cast Rachel Dawes is bang-on and renders Katie Holmes’ absence unnoticeable. In fact the only noticeable lapse in blockbuster performances comes from Batman himself, which is not due to poor acting on Bale’s part, but more so that he was not given as much screen time as the combined supporting cast. 'I believe in Harvey Dent', but the movie is without a doubt Heath Ledger’s swan song and is completely stolen by the redefined clown-prince-of-crime. As soon as he was introduced via pencil-magic-trick I was sold. Give him the Oscar.

The list of negatives is small, and in no way tarnishes the film, but I did have a few issues with the movie at points; I felt that the mob needed less screen time, especially Salvatore Maroni (and his miraculous healing legs). I also found the Hong Kong scene to be a tad unnecessary (but still very entertaining!); and I thought the bat-sonar machine was completely ridiculous addition that was a tad too reminiscent of the hokey bat-gadgets of the past. That being said I really have nothing bad to say about the movie. Oh but while I’m making quasi-suggestions, someone should really cut Batman some nose holes and give him a lozenge. I think he might be getting a cold.


The Lando's Head Post

I came across this little video today in my usual internet surfing and found it pretty funny. I liken the humor to a geeky spoof on the Office. The ending is pretty hilarious especially the Lando memorial. It’s about 6 minutes or so of pointlessness, but if you’ve got some time on your hands I’d recommend it for a laugh. Also its something to post that isn’t a movie review!


The Lakeside Firweworks Post

Last night I was invited over to Kim and Monica’s for their annual 4th of July party. Had a lot of fun hanging out with them and the extended Wolfgang family poolside eating and drinking well. Once the sun went down it was explosion time, and Monica had us covered. She needed help wheel barrowing her resent horsed of fireworks out to the launch pad. If it blows up and makes noise it was in her pile. I had never seen so many fireworks at a private house. They live on an oval lake that has 30 or so houses around it. We hopped over their back fence and down towards the water to launch our fireworks, as did the rest of the neighbor hood. It was really impressive to see some of the displays everyone was putting on. It was almost like a communal fireworks showdown with the neighbors. Fun stuff. I’m biased but I think we had the best of the bunch. Arnold, Monica and I where taking turns setting stuff off then running for cover. We only had a few miss fires, one of which spiraled to about 5 feet away from Arnold and I and showered us with sparks, which was a lot closer than I’d have liked. We also had one box explode on the pad and send pieces sideways allover the place. Gave off quite a bang that actually blew my sleeves back. We finished up with ‘The Beast’ which was extremely impressive. After the show was over Monica gave me this years Phantom Fireworks T-shirt (she gets one every year because she is a vip customer and gives it to someone in attendance). Hung out at the house some more rocking my new uniform and lost horribly to Arnold in a few rounds of pool. I was given a huge to-go-bag on my way out too. As I write this I am chowing down on a heaping plate of backed beans, cheeseburgers and Monica’s famous BBQ chicken. I’m spoiled. Happy Fourth!

The Wanted Post

Wanted is a straight up action flick that does everything in its power to keep the stunts, explosions and gunfights on the screen as much as possible, and does so very well. Unfortunately there are the occasional moments where explanations are in order, and this is where the movie falls on its face. The story in Wanted is rather…well crap, and no matter how cool Morgan Freeman is or how many sexy ways Angelina Jolie kills people its still rather unsalvageable. The last 15 minutes of the movie are pretty rough but at least wrap up the whole mess in a relatively interesting way. Wanted, is without out a doubt very entertaining and never falls into the boring category at any point. (There are moments where you will wish it would just get back to the action though.)

Secret assassins, superhuman abilities that are never explained, and a bizarre logic system behind all the killings really make this one a little tough to swallow. These inexplicable characters and scenarios do put on a good show though! Some of the car chases and stunts are terrific though and can best be described as the Fast and the Furious meets the Matrix. Shooting a bullet out of the sky with another bullet is now the new way to defend yourself against an attacker. Failing that escape in a supped-up sports car and leap it over 100 cop cars and drive off on top of a tour bus. If you get hurt don’t worry about it, you can go back to your assassin clubhouse and take a bath in magic wax-water that will heal you. Unless you get shot. Apparently that wills even these people, which is decidedly inconvenient considering they shoot at each other a lot. – Yeah I know its ridiculous, but seeing all this stuff on the screen is very entertaining.

The lead character is played by James McAvory and could have bheen played better by…well anyone. Not that James does a bad job, but more so because his performance is extremely forgettable. When your lead is on the screen for over 50% of the movie and I can’t remember what his face looked like the day after seeing the film, I think it’s safe to say ‘forgettable’ fits my opinion of the guy. Jolie and Freeman do their part well, but the fact that they are support and don’t drive this thing really does point out the weak casting of the lead.

Wanted is refreshingly R-rated. The F-word and bullets are tossed around like they where free and it really works for the film. The violence is gory, but not over the top, and the pacing is tense and action packed as a result. I do think they are a tad too flippant with civilian casualties however. An entire train of passengers falls to its painful demise after a car chase that mutilates 15 or so civilian vehicles, and our characters don’t bat an eye. Being that the whole movie is about revenge for someone being killed, it does seem a tad odd that a thousand or so innocent bystanders are not even noticed. So yeah. Wanted is a mixed bag for sure. Lots of action and cool moments, and all done at a very R-rated level. But poor casting and unexplained ridiculousness defiantly way it down.


The Hancock Post

I have been excited for this movie for a while now. The concept of a drunken asshole being a superhero offers a humorous chance to do something different in a summer that’s top-heavy with hero flicks. Big budget and different? Sign me up, this is going to be a hit… Unfortunately for the film, its much more befitting of an off-season release, not the 4th of July blockbuster its ad campaign wants to pass it off as. Despite not being what one would originally expect, Hancock has merit to it and is an enjoyable film that will probably not get the credit it deserves. Hancock is to Will Smith what The Matador was for Peirce Brosnan. It’s an off-kilter film with an overly flawed anti-hero at the helm, played by someone who traditionally takes contrasting roles.

However Hancock’s strength is in his character itself, not so much in Will Smith’s portrayal of the boozing ‘hero’. The first half of the movie works really well, and is pretty much a chronicle of a failed superhero destroying more than he saves. His interactions with the angered citizens, constant need to smash anything in his bumbling path, and a mean streak that makes Marty McFly’s ‘don’t call me chic
ken’ pale by comparison; all make the character extremely entertaining. One of my favorite lines is at the beginning where Hancock threatens three uzi-toting badguys: “That’s it, your head is going up his ass. Your head is going up his ass. And you drew the short straw because your head is going up my ass.” I wont ruin any more quotes for you, but sufficed to say Hancock’s back and forth with those he ‘saves’ is absolutely priceless and he more than delivers on his head-to-ass threats. Never before have I seen a movie so constrained by PG-13 rules. They should have taken the hit and gone for the R-rating and delivered the movie they clearly wanted to.

After the first act the film eventually realizes that it needs a conflict on top of its original premise. Unfortunately for us the plot is pretty weak, predictable and a tad blasé. On the plus side they waste no time in getting to the point and resolving the conflict very quickly. While this gets the required elements out of the way, it does cheapen the experience and have you wondering if you’d rather watch a story progress, or just clips of Hancock screwing stuff up. Personally I’d vote for the latter. Jason Bateman and Charlize Theron (you're welcome) provide their support when they can but are both cut short with shallow characters that don’t really accomplish much in a very Smith-centric movie. All said the movie is as flawed as its star, but delivers
a character that is worth seeing. Jack Sparrow is worth seeing ‘Pirates for even if you can’t stand pillaging and plundering, and I feel Hancock is the same way even if his movie doesn’t do him justice.


The Quantum of Awesome Post


The Wall.e Post

I am biased when it comes to 3D movies and am heavily in favor of pretty much anything Pixar puts out these days. But Wall.e is, if anything, complete justification for such high regard for the studio. It is without a doubt the most charismatic and impressive of the Pixar films to date and is visually on par with anything else out there (and in many cases light years ahead).

Despite having very little dialogue and stars that resemble toasters more than viable characters, Wall.e has an incredible amount of depth to its characters and plot movement. The social commentary, the immediately likable nature of the film and its fine tuned pacing leave audiences entertained and enthralled from curtain to curtain. The storytelling and art direction work hand in hand like a dream, with the end result being the most delightful and downright adorable movie since the first Toy Story. The charming characters deliver laughs, gasps and tears as well as any other movie at this summer which is remarkable considering that everyone is automated to some degree. There is a noticeable difference in charisma between these object-oriented characters over past attempts (such as Cars). This movie is tailor made for Pixar’s strengths, and it shows.

I have issue with the choice to have some human characters appear in 3D while others appear over monitors as live-action footage. The juxtaposition makes you wonder why they made the choice and is rather noticeable. I don’t think they would have lost anything by making it 100% 3D stylized humans. Besides that small qualm though I have nothing but praise to throw at this movie. It really is excellent, and an instant classic. Wall-e is the new adorable Disney icon, and will replace Stitch on pajamas and lunchboxes. Expect to she kids walking radio-controlled Wall-e’s very soon. (read: Expect to see me walking a radio-controlled Wall-e very soon).

The Homeleave Post

This past weekend I made a trip back to VA to spend time with the family. Stefan is on his home leave from Iraq for two weeks, so I wanted to be home to see him while he was in this hemisphere. He’s doing really well and seems very happy to be home. It’s a shame that in a few days he has to go back over there again, but knowing that he is growing in all the right directions, has a definitive plan and set of goals for his career and is in high spirits really does help the requisite worried family feelings. Everyone else is doing well too which is always nice to see. Sam is her ever loud but always entertaining self; Jake is 2 inches shorter than me; Dad is improving the ventilation and water-drainage in the Tikibar; and Mum is back in the swing of things at Village Green. Speaking of green; Mum recently slammed her hand in the front door leaving her left hand very painful looking and Shrek-like. I hope she follows through on her promises to get it checked out by a doctor because it’s looking rather…damaged. Had everyone round for an under-deck BBQ which was really nice, and managed to a nice tour of the Arlington area in with Eric on Sunday. I miss-booked my flights and ended up having to take an extra vacation day off from work, so the trip was a little longer than usual. Long enough for me to slip into a comfortable rhythm and be rather upset when it came time to leave. Great to be back though, and really nice to see Stefan. Half way there brother!