Friday, February 29, 2008

No, That's Not Why He's Called "Zinger"

Earlier I checked my blog stats and saw that someone had discovered CoIM by searching for a quote from How I Met Your Mother's very first episode. I decided to share this info with Zinger via IM, which resulted in this conversation:

Me: Ah, just got a blog hit from a google search for "how's not playing laser tag? because playing it is awesome"
Zinger: nice
Zinger: Have you had any hits for "lazy blogger never updates" yet? ;)
Me: As soon as I sent the message, I began the "how long until I get zinged for not updating" count in my head :)
Zinger: ZING!
Me: better than being pranked, being pranked hard with a tire iron
Zinger: Wowie zowie!

Just thought I'd share that as a nice stalling tactic until my next blog post is ready.


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

"What I Watched" Wednesday - Good Week for Drama, Not So Much for Comedy

Well, thanks to my contribution to the festivities of Bring It On Week getting me a mention on The Invincible Super-Blog, I experienced a surge in visitors for a few days (113 on Saturday alone), but it has now tapered back off into normal levels. Guess I'll celebrate my return to mediocre audience levels by doing some mediocre movie reviews*. Huzzah!

The Amateurs:
Mediocre comedy about a small town layabout who comes up with the brilliant get-rich-quick scheme of enlisting his fellow small town inhabitants to help him make a porno. An incredibly talented cast (Jeff Bridges, Tim Blake Nelson, Joey Pants, William Fitchner, Ted Danson, Patrick Fugit, Glenn Headley, Jean Tripplehorn, Lauren Graham), but man, what a slow, lackluster, snooze-inducing waste of time this was. Oh, sure, there were a couple of funny parts here and there, but overall, I was bored out of my gourd.

Gone Baby Gone:
Engaging thriller about a private eye (Casey Affleck) who is hired to help out on what seems like a routine kidnapping, but which turns out to be much more. I liked this one quite a bit, which was mildly surprising since it's Ben Affleck's directorial debut.** A bit of a downer at times, and the ending is a bit morally ambiguous, both of which were selling points to me, but might not be to others. You make the call.

The Comebacks:
Spoof of feel-good sports movies such as Radio, Remember the Titans, Stick It, Rudy, Friday Night Lights, etc. One of those "had its moments" films which I found more entertaining than, say, Epic Movie or the execrable Date Movie, but it still falls far short of the Airplane! or Naked Gun spoofs.

The Martian Child:
Well done drama about a widowed Science Fiction author (John Cusack) who tries to adopt a strange child who claims to be from Mars. The kid manages to be strange without being overly creepy, which is a nice change from most recent "weirdo kid" movies, and Joan Cusack steals every scene she's in, which should come as no surprise since Joan Cusack is one of the most awesome scene stealing actresses of all time.

"Does 'mediocre' refer to the quality of the movies or the quality of the reviews?" you may ask, to which I reply: a little from column A, a little from column B.

**Well, to be accurate, this is his feature film directorial debut; apparently he also once directed a short film with quite an interesting name


Thursday, February 21, 2008

Bring It On Week: Oh, It's Already Been Broughten!

The incomparable Chris Sims of Chris's Invincible Super-Blog -- who, as some of you long-time blog monkeys might remember, once awarded me a badly-drawn picture of the comic book character of my choice as a Punishment Day present -- has declared this to be "Bring It On Week," a celebration of all things Bring It On related. Having already posted an entry into the Bring-It-Ontest I figured that I should more fully embrace the festivities of BIO Week by doing my own, personal BIO post.

My initial exposure to BIO was thanks to Rebel Monkey, who somehow convinced The Pirate, Rose Hips the Enforcer, and myself to go see this somewhat cheesy looking cheerleading flick at the theater; for some reason we saw it in OKC, although if that was because it wasn't playing Stillwater at the time or because we were just doing one of our periodic day trips, I don't recall. I do recall that one of the main reasons Rebel Monkey was wanting to see it was because it starred two Buffy alums, Eliza Dushku (Faith) and Clare Kramer (Glory), which was, I admit, a draw for the rest of us as well, but it probably wouldn't have been enough to get us into the theater to see it; "definite rental material," I thought to myself, settling in to watch a sure-to-be-bubblegum teeny-bopper, feel-good movie.

And then the film started with Torrence's dream sequence and my perception of what I was watching did a big 180, or, as I might actually say to the first Bring It On if it were a real person and we were ever to meet face to face: "You had me at 'I swear I'm not a whore'." Follow that sequence up with tons of charismatic characters and loads of the pop-culture savvy* patois that is custom made to appeal to fans of all things Whedon, and you have a film that was immediately at the top of my Christmas DVD wish list.

Now, was the film high art? Hardly, nor was the plot the pinnacle of originality. But it made me laugh, made me smile, made "Those aren't spirit fingers, these are spirit fingers" a part of my lexicon . . . what more could one ask for?

My favorite BIO related memory**: I was at a Texas Rangers game with the Singles, and was heading to the rest room when I noticed a group of teenagers approaching from the other direction doing a cheer as they walked: "I said brrrrrrr/it's cold in here/there must be some Toros in the atmosphere/I said brrrrrrr/it's cold in here/there must be some Toros in the atmosphere." By a wonderful piece of synchronicity, I was parallel with both the group of girl and the Men's room at this exact moment, so I belted out along with them "I said: oh-ee-oh-ee-oh-ee! Ice ice ice!" and then quickly darted into the restroom, leaving behind a chorus of surprised giggles in my wake.

As mentioned above, BIO week include a Bring-It-Ontest, in which people are challenged to come up with an appropriate title for the next sequel. I came up with a couple of possible entries, but when Zinger suggested the following, I knew I had to post it to share with the world: "Bring It On WWII: Bring-time for Hitler." At the time I write this there are 168 comments in the Bring-It-Ontest; my hopes are that if my entry is not up to Mr. Sims' standards that the winner is one of the following:

  • Bring It On: Some Like It Brought***
  • Bring It On: The Mancheerian Candidate
  • Dr. Strangecheer, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Bring It On
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Brings It On****
Please feel free to add you own cherished memories of BIO in the comments below.

*Although detractors of the style would probably want to substitute "heavy" for "savvy"
**Okay, so it's pretty much my only BIO related memory, what's your point?
***This is Fellow Book Monkey and Blogger Bubblegum Tate's entry, but I would have been cheering for it regardless
****This was one of the two possible entries of mine which were rejected due to Zinger's suggestion, and which someone else came up with dependently later on; I will also be happy if my other choice, The Postman Always Brings Twice makes it


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Movie Mon. - I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE!!!!!!!!!

Saw IV: Latest installment in the series takes place concurrently with the third installment, a fact that might get lost if you're not paying close attention since the opening scene with its unnecessarily drawn out autopsy scene really takes place after the action of both films is over. This is one I might need to watch again when I'm not drugged up on cold medicine, since I kept falling asleep and having to rewind it, and I think I may have missed some vital information. Or, it could have just been really boring and poorly constructed; I can't really be sure.

Beautifully shot Sci-Fi film about an expedition sent out to reignite the dying sun, and the difficulties that ensue when the crew receives a signal from the previous expedition, long thought lost. I'm thinking this one fits in the "not everybody's cup of tea" category, but as for me, I liked it a lot. While I understand -- and to some degree, empathize -- with those who felt that the shift towards a horror/thriller plot towards the end of the film was a bit of a radical change, on the whole I thought the exploration of the psychological toll such a mission would take on its crew made this a film worth viewing

Rocket Science:
Quirky comedy about a geeky kid with a stutter who is recruited onto his school's debate team by a highly competitive girl who tells him she wants to mold him into the perfect debate partner, and with whom he soon falls in love. And while this plot synopsis sounds hokey and predictable, I assure you the film is anything but. I'm of two minds about this movie. On the one hand, it was filled with great acting and great dialogue and quirky characters; but on the other, there were multiple times when I had to pause the movie and run around the house a few times to work out the tension that had built up in me as the protagonist's stuttering issues once again threatened to cause him untold amounts of embarrassment. One of those movies that will probably appeal to only a couple of people I know (I'm looking at you, Li'l Random), but those people will probably fall in love with it.

Killer Diller:
Drama about a young car thief who gets paroled on the condition that he move into a halfway house and become part of a Christian band, a program that's on the verge of being canceled until the thief recruits an autistic savant (Lucas Black) with a talent for the Blues. Entertaining, if not eminently believable.

King of Kong:
Remarkably engaging documentary about the battle for the world record high score of Donkey Kong. Leaving aside all the arguments about how much of the film is true and how much is the magic of editing, King of Kong stands as a highly entertaining film populated by the colorful characters of the slightly inbred world of competitive vintage video game playing, some of whom come off as relatable, others as enjoyable eccentric, and at least a couple as pretty much pathetic.

The Invasion: So-so remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, with the traditional pods being replaced a a virus, and the traditional cold war tension being replaced by post 9-11 bioterrorism tension, and the traditional quality being replaced by blandness. Honestly not as bad as what all of the reviews made it out to be, and it had some interesting twists on the body snatcher plot, but on the whole, not something I'd recommend to much of anyone.

Mr. Woodcock:
Mediocre comedy about a self-help guru (Sean William Scott) who finds his own platitudes failing him when he returns home to find that his widowed mother (Susan Sarandon) is dating the gym teacher (Billy Bob Thornton) that once tormented him. Just not my cup of tea, I think; too much humor predicated on Scott saying or doing horribly idiotic and embarrassing things and his mother being totally oblivious. About the only things I found remotely amusing were Amy Pohler's hilarious turn as Scott's abusive, alcoholic agent and pretty much any sequence where Thornton tormented kids in gym class -- pretty much everything else was a wash for me.

Ping Pong: Japanese film adapted from the manga (that's the term for a Japanese comic book for the uninitiated among you blog monkeys) about the overly energetic Peco, an high school student with dreams of being a professional table tennis player, and his best friend Smile -- so named because he never does -- who might really be the one with the potential to go pro. Great movie; its manga roots show through quite often, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. Often funny, occasionally touching, this one was quite a pleasent surprise as I was expecting something similar to Shaolin Soccer and instead found something that relied less on special effects and action set-pieces, and more on character development and interaction.

There Will Be Blood: Excellent drama from director P.T. Anderson (Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Punch-Drunk Love) about unscrupulous oil man Daniel Plainview (the amazing Daneil Day Lewis) who is driven not just by need to succeed, but a need to see others fail. This one gets the Odd Squodd Seal of Approval, although Cap'n Shack-Fu wasn't quite as entranced as Li'l Random and I. Daniel Day Lewis definitely deserves the Best Actor nomination for his performance, but I am horribly disappointed that Paul Dano (the vow-of-silence brother from Little Miss Sunshine) did not get a Best Supporting Actor nod for his role as the constant religious thorn in Plainview's capitalistic side.

Now, some people were a bit disappointed with the ending, which jumped ahead several years in time, but for me it was worth it just for the scene where the drunken and belligerent oil tycoon tries to explain to his long time nemesis the concept of "draaaaaaaaaaaaaaaainage!"

Awesome movie; I'm torn on whether I think it or No Country for Old Men deserves the Oscar, but I'd be happy with either one.


Saturday, February 16, 2008

For the Record, I Have Only Ever Heard Definition Two Used

It's not often that getting my Word of the Day email makes me laugh, but today's did.

The word: virago \vuh-RAH-go; vuh-RAY-go\, noun:.

Definition one: A woman of extraordinary stature, strength, and courage.

Definition two: A woman regarded as loud, scolding, ill-tempered, quarrelsome, or overbearing.

Just a tiny bit of difference between the two, huh? If that's not ammo for a feminist "men see all strong women as bitcas" argument, then I don't know what is.


Friday, February 15, 2008

Fragmented Friday - Entertaining the Pirate

My apologies yet again for the lack of posts, my blog monkeys; this past week just hasn't been the most conducive to the flowing of creative juices. But, since Book Monkey and recent birthday girl The Pirate -- who has recently joined the elite ranks of Book Monkey Bloggers with In Xandu did Kubla Khan -- is going crazy trying to find things to occupy her mind with while waiting to find out if she will be selected as a contestant on the new season of The Mole, I figured I should throw up a couple of random thoughts.

It looks like there's a possibility that Cap'n Shack-Fu might not be joining the Army after all; instead, he may be joining the FBI. Either way, it will mean him moving off somewhere so he can fight for Truth, Justice, and the American Way, but at least if he's with the FBI the odds of him staying stateside and not being shipped off to a war-torn country are quite a bit better. Plus, since being a federal law enforcement officer is one of Shack's lifelong dreams, we're all hoping that the FBI opportunity pans out. Plus, "Special Agent Shack-Fu" just sounds too good.

The other day I got an email from Cedric the Destroyer which included a link to an online game and the comment from Cedric that the game had nearly driven him to drink. I, of course, immediately clicked the link, and was soon replying back to Cedric cursing his black, black soul for exposing me to the addiction that is the "Escape Room" game Vision. And, once I beat the thing, I did what all right thinking individuals would do: I forwarded the evil thing on to the friends I thought most likely to be intrigued/entrapped. A few hours after sending the email out, I got a phone call from The Lovable PigPen which began thusly: "Remind me to kill you when I get home." Of course, since approximately 80% of my conversations with my best bud PigPen include at least one death threat between us, it's hard to say just how much of that was a reflection on the game and how much was just par for the course for our mutually antagonistic brotherhood. I've tried out several other "Escape Room" games, and so far the best ones I've found have been from the same author as the first one, so if you're sucked into Vision and want to torture yourself even more, then try out Sphere and RGB as well.

I'm soooooooo happy the writers' strike is finally over; would be happier if the whole mess didn't mean that we have to wait until next Fall for new episodes of Chuck, Pushing Daisies, and Heroes, not to mention shortened seasons of, oh, just about everything else. But, at least we have Lost back, that's something to put a smile on my face.

I must admit, I've been pleasently surprised by two of the mid-season replacement series: Eli Stone, which skates by on its remarkable cast if nothing else, and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, which threatens to typecast Summer Glau as the go-to weirdo, kick-ass super-chick actress, but really, there are worse things to be typecast as, right? Terminator in particular has won a fond place in my heart for its interesting take on the whole Terminator mythos.

If all goes as planned, I'll finally get to see There Will Be Blood this weekend; very excited about that, it's been way too long since I've gotten to experience a new P.T. Anderson flick -- kind of makes me want to go back and watch Magnolia and Punch-Drunk Love again just because.

I got a call Sunday night from my mom telling me that my grandmother had to be hospitalized for congestive heart failure. Right now, she seems to be doing better, but any and all prayers for her would be greatly appreciated.

There are few things in life as entertaining as watching Cap'n Shack-Fu cringe and curl up into the fetal position every time Hellga comes on screen on American Gladiators.

While I might not have been in a blogging mood recently, I have been in a reading mood, having just finished up volume three in Greg Keyes' Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone series, and subsequently started book one of Steven Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen, although I might have to take a break from that in order to do a quick read of the latest Discworld novel.

After a month or so of continuous listening, I finally burned myself out on the Once soundtrack, although that may have been more a need for more upbeat, frenetic rock music to pull me out of my doldrums than anything else.

And now, a moment of silence for the late Steve Gerber, an extremely talented comic book writer whose biggest contribution to the general world of pop culture was the creation of Howard the Duck -- a comic book which had more politically charged satire and social commentary in one panel than that fiasco of a movie ever dreamed of hinting -- but whose biggest contribution to the life of young Cap'n Neurotic was his run on The Defenders, a book which was so wonderfully bizarre and warped that it could not help but pull me in.


Friday, February 08, 2008

Look Who's Back, Back Again

Yes, I have made it back from my Colorado trip in one piece, although there were a few times I wasn't sure that was going to be the case as we drove through snow-covered mountain roads in the middle of some pretty potent storms in the middle of the night. FYI: 20 hours in a vehicle, 14 of which are in inclement weather = not much fun.

I'll have more details later, along with some of the two-gazillion pictures taken by Cap'n Cluck, Mei-mei, and Squiggly; just figured I'd get at least one post up this week.