Archive for Entertainment

Random Access Memory

If you weren’t already aware, Daft Punk’s new album is available for streaming through iTunes.  I’ve been a huge fan of the group since the 90s and was excited to get a peek at their new music before the official release date.  I’ve seen people complaining about the new album, but doesn’t this always happen when fans become more attached to a few songs than the artist’s entire work?  If you’re interested in this new album, definitely check out the free preview before spending your money.

Netflix losing 2,000 titles

I’ve been a Netflix customer since 2004.  There have been some definite ups and downs over the years as they’ve screwed up contracts with copyright holders and tried to start ridiculous, new services.  It’s getting harder and harder to defend my like of them as the years go on.  I’m amazingly still able to find content to watch and there is actually a decent amount of children’s programming for Ada to watch.  Some friends of mine have switched to Amazon Prime, but I think the real issue at heart for most of them is the free 2-day shipping.  I don’t see myself dropping Netflix soon, but it’s hard to say.  It all depends on what I can watch.  In this upcoming loss of content, you’ll see titles missing from MGM, Warner Bros and Universal.  That could possibly mean no more The Big Lebowski and no more Parks and Rec.  Neither Ron Swanson nor The Dude would approve.

http://www.scpr.org/blogs/newmedia/2013/04/30/13501/netflix-loses-1-794-instant-streaming-titles-tonig/

I did find a list of titles soon to disappear.  While this isn’t exactly the major break up from Starz, I’ve always said I like Netflix because it has hard to find titles that no one cares about.

Gearing up for allergy season

If you have allergies, you’re most likely aware it’s started in force.  Trees have been blooming like it’s no tomorrow and experts are saying this could be THE WORST ALLERGY SEASON EVER.  If you didn’t guess already, these kinds of statements remind me of…

The Sandlot (1993)

The Sandlot (1993)

Exaggerated statements like this are what created the terms Snowpocalypse and Snowmageddon.  They rarely turn out to be as bad as predicted, except for hurricanes and tornadoes, and grocery stores make out like bandits when folks rush to buy all the milk and bread in a 20 mile radius.  Wait a minute, I was talking about allergies.

So last year, 2012, was an awful year for allergies.  I happen to be allergic to molds, grass, ragweed, and trees, as well as dust and dust mites.  There is no off-season for me and mold came around twice.  If you suffer from allergies like me, or are lucky enough to suffer from only one, I want to share a few tips with you.

  1. Wear big sunglasses – they not only keep the sun out of your eyes, they can also block pollen and dust.
  2. Take a shower before bed – this not only leaves you refreshed, you’ll also wash any pollen off your face and out of your hair.  There’s nothing worse than transferring pollen from your hair to your pillow and waking up with swollen eyes.
  3. Be active early or late – if you’re wanting to work outside or exercise, try to do it early in the morning or late at night.  Pollen levels tend to peak during the middle of the day, which is also the hottest.  If you do have to be outside try to take some precautions.
  4. Take your medicine – do I really have to say this?
  5. Keep the inside of your home and car clean – if you’re going to be stuck inside, it might as well be a safe zone.  If dusting isn’t a great option for you, try finding someone else to do it for you.  I pay someone to mow my lawn and it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
  6. Get a HEPA air purifier for your home or office – I’ve been running a Honeywell 50250 at home since 2006 and it’s really saved my bacon.
  7. Encase your pillows and mattress – this can really help with dust and dust mites, as well as pollen.
  8. Drink lots of water – staying hydrated will help keep the mucous flowing which sounds gross, but keeps all the tiny attackers at bay.
  9. Swap your contacts out for your glasses – if my eyes are bothering me, one of the easiest things to do is take my contacts out.
  10. Know your limits – I can’t begin to count how many times I’ve found myself in a bad place and just tried to act like I was fine.  While every boy from the 80s wants to be Rambo, Bruce Lee or Chuck Norris – none of them really are.  McGruff taught us to just say no, so do it.

These are just a few tips, but hopefully they’re enough to get you started.  Hang in there and hopefully 2013 doesn’t turn out to be allergy hell.

My daughter gave me a Netflix recommendation

I’m one of those guys who watches a LOT of movies and TV shows.  Often times friends will tell me they don’t know what to watch and after twenty questions to find out what kind of movie/show they’re looking for, I’ll have some recommendations for them.  I never thought my three year old kid would be doing that for me.

Last November we were traveling in New England for a wedding and while hanging out in a hotel room we turned on the TV.  Chuck wanted “a show” and the first thing I tried was Cartoon Network.  There was a weird, animated show about a kid and a dog/animal thing that was funny/snarky and remotely reminded me of Dungeons and Dragons.  At the time I thought the content was probably too advanced for her both from an intellectual and maturity standpoint, but she loved it and we let her watch anyway.  I didn’t really think much about it until Chuck recognized the characters, a few weeks ago, on a Netflix recommendation screen and begged to watch it.  We turned it on and it wasn’t too bad.  I barely paid attention while reading email or Facebook on the couch.  At some point over the next week I actually paid attention to an episode and realized how good it was.  And then it happened…


The Funniest Moments of Adventure Time

My wife caught me watching Adventure Time by myself one night after Chuck had gone to bed.  I did find one video on YouTube explaining the show is popular with adults due to nostalgia…and that makes sense.  Eventually I mentioned it to a friend at work who would be aware of this kind of stuff and discovered I’m not the only father who loves the show.  With the amount of pop culture we’re exposing our child to, I can’t imagine what sort of recommendations she’ll be able to give in ten years.  I’m gonna have to call this a proud parent moment.

Sons of Anarchy: Season 1

WARNING!! This contains spoilers…

While having a chronic lung disease is mostly bad, the silver lining is I often stay awake for days at a time where I am able to watch hour upon hour of TV and movies.  I’m not always completely paying attention to whatever I’m streaming via Netflix, but Sons of Anarchy definitely caught my eye.  It has great music, good acting, character development and left me wanting to watch just one more episode.

Sons of Anarchy Season One is about a motorcycle gang in Charming, CA fulfilling the role of modern day outlaws.  While illegally selling firearms and fighting with rival gangs and motorcycle clubs, SAMCRO (Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club Redwood Original) also does a lot for the community.  The founders of the club worked out a deal with the local law enforcement allowing these motorcycle enthusiasts to basically do whatever they want as long as drugs are kept out of Charming.  It has the makings of an Italian mafia thing but with a Californian twist.

Clay Morrow, played by Ron Perlman (Hellboy), is the current president and one of the original nine members.  He and his friends founded the club after returning home from the Vietnam war.  Jax Teller, played by Charlie Hunnam (Nicholas Nickleby and Undeclared), is the current vice president and step-son of Clay.  Jax’s deceased, biological father was the club’s previous president.  Gemma Teller, played by Katey Sagal (Married with Children and Futurama), is Jax’s mother and Clay’s wife.  Jax has a new baby to take care of because his junkie ex-wife Wendy Teller, played by Drea de Matteo (Sopranos), is at rehab trying to turn her life around.  Tara Knowles, played by Maggie Siff (Mad Men), is Jax’s highschool sweetheart and has just returned to her hometown to work at the local hospital.  Opie, played by Ryan Hurst (Remember the Titans and Saving Private Ryan), is Jax’s best friend and son of Piney, one of the original nine members.  On top of all the soap opera drama we see SAMCRO selling guns, avoiding the ATF, involved with the IRA and clashing against rival motorcycle clubs.  There is plenty to keep you interested.

I’ve mentioned gangs and rival clubs – they’re pretty much the same thing.  In season one we meet:

sons_of_anarchy-the_mayans

  • The Mayans – this Latino gang blows up SAMCRO’s gun factory in an effort to disrupt its gun business

sons_of_anarchy-the_one_niners

  • One-Niners – this African American gang is SAMCRO’s biggest gun customer

sons_of_anarchy-the_nords

  • Nordics/Nords – this white supremacist group is led by Ernest Darby, played by Mitch Pileggi (The X-Files), and they are constantly looking for a way to bring drugs into Charming

Everything has been going fairly well for SAMCRO and Jax is being groomed to one day take over as president of the club.  History seems to be repeating itself as Jax starts reading his father’s old diaries and begins to discover what really happened in the early days of the Sons.  This diary is making Jax question who he is, what he stands for and why SAMCRO does the things it does.

If you enjoy mildly realistic crime dramas with decent character development and exciting twists, you should probably give Sons of Anarchy a try.  As always I suggest watching three episodes before making a decision to continue.  Parts of this show remind me of HBO’s Oz.  I think it’s because of the different gangs always at odds with each other and making deals to try and destroy their enemies.

Sons of Anarchy

Sons-Of-Anarchy-sons-of-anarchy-32111948-1600-1200

Sons of Anarchy is a show that’s had a lot of ups and downs for me.  On one hand it’s one of the best modern American-outlaw shows I’ve seen.  It’s hard to argue with the thrill and cool-factor associated with the motorcycle gangs, tattoos, leather and guns.  When I first saw Eastern Promises (2007), starring Viggo Mortensen, I must admit I was a little mystified by the whole Russian prison/gang tattoo thing.  Some of that exists in this show with their tattoos, patches and pins, but I still haven’t figured out what they all mean.

I’ve never been a soap opera person, but I must admit I was really getting into the storylines and plot twists.  After my two favorite characters had been killed off in seasons four and five, I threw in the towel.  I called it quits and said, “no more.”  Well, it’s been a few months and I decided I had cooled down a bit.  The sixth season is going to start this fall and I decided I needed to get over it and watch season five.  The rest of the episodes turned out to be not so bad.  I know this is by no means reality and the story that unfolds is often ludicrous, that doesn’t mean it’s not fun to watch.  In a build-up to my thoughts on season five, I’m going to re-post some thoughts on seasons one through four back in the day.

Elysium trailer

I just saw the trailer for Elysium (2013) that is slated to be released on August 9, 2013.  Matt Damon [Good Will Hunting (1997) and The Bourne Identity (2002)] and Jodie Foster [Contact (1997) and The Silence of the Lambs (1991)] are the two actors being advertised with it.  Sci-fi fans will also be glad to know  [The Amateurs (2005) and  Equilibrium (2002)] and Michael Shanks [Stargate SG-1 (1997-2007)] are on-board as well.  I believe this is Neill Blomkamp’s second full-length feature film and first film since District 9 (2009).  If you haven’t seen the later, I highly suggest it.  While the movie is about an alien race who comes to Earth and is then trapped in refugee camps, it has a lot to say about racism and apartheid.


http://www.tor.com/blogs/2013/04/the-official-elysium-trailer

District 9 really blew me away with the quality of writing, acting, directing and effects.  If Elysium is anything like it, I’m fairly certain it’ll be a hit.

RIP Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert (1942-2013) died a few days ago on April 4, 2013.  Mr Ebert had an incredible story of hope and perseverance in the later part of his life while fighting an incredible battle with cancer that took part of his jaw, his ability to speak and eat/drink without a feeding tube.  What some people may not be aware of are Mr Ebert’s contributions to film and cinema in the Midwest region as well as the country and the world.

I first discovered Mr Ebert in the basement of my parents’ house in the late 80s while watching TV on the old set we had where you actually had to walk up and crank a dial to change the channel.  Pretty rough, eh?  I have no idea what station I was watching or what the program was called, but I assume it was Siskel & Ebert & the Movies.  This show aired from 1986 to 2010 with different hosts and co-hosts along the way.  Gene Siskel died of a heart attack in 1999 and Roger Ebert continued the show until he stepped down in 2006.  During this time Siskel and Ebert reviewed many, many films.  I didn’t always agree with what they had to say, but there aren’t many who really have the same film tastes I do.

Ebert wasn’t just a guy who watched movies.  He also cared about them and the industry.  Have you ever wondered why the MPAA rating for a film makes no sense?  Well Ebert thought so too.  He was a fan of films being shows at 48 frames per second and also disliked the recent 3D craze.  I came across this video clip today of Ebert defending Better Luck Tomorrow at a Sundance Film Festival screening.

Here’s a paragraph from Ebert’s Wikipedia page describing the situation.

Ebert was also an advocate and supporter of Asian American cinema, famously coming to the defense of the cast and crew of Justin Lin‘s Better Luck Tomorrow (2001) during a Sundance Film Festival screening when a white member of the audience asked how Asians could be portrayed in such a negative light and how a film so empty and amoral could be made for Asian Americans and Americans. Ebert responded, “I was on a panel today with Chris Eyre, the Native American director. And he said, that for a long time, his people, American Indians, had always had to play some kind of a function, like they were the source of spirituality, or the source of great wisdom and they spoke to the trees and the wind and so forth. And he wanted to make a movie that allowed Native Americans to be people. People in some cases who are alcoholics or who are vigilantes, or in prison. What I find very offensive and condescending about your statement is that nobody would say such a thing to a bunch of white filmmakers: how could you do this to ‘your people’? This film has the right to be about these people, and Asian American characters have the right to be whoever the hell they want to be. They do not have to represent ‘their people’!”[73][74][75] He was a supporter of the film after the incident at Sundance, and also supported a number of Asian American films, having them also screen at his film festival (such as Eric Byler‘s Charlotte Sometimes).[76] Ebert was a fan of Asian-American filmmaker Wayne Wang.[77]

One other clip I always chuckle about is Siskel and Ebert’s review of The Big Lebowski (1998).  Siskel really hates the film and Ebert defends it, even using some of the vernacular from Joel and Ethan Coen’s script.  Start watching at 7min 15sec.  I wanted to embed the video, but it starts autoplaying and I find that annoying.  Check out the link below.

http://siskelandebert.org/video/33742M78X79D/The-Big-Lebowski–US-Marshals–Twilight-1998

Roger Ebert’s death is definitely a loss for the film community and while I’m sad to no longer read a new article or see his tweets, I’m definitely celebrating his legacy.

Lebowski infographic

I came across this the other day. There’s a lot of great information on here. If you didn’t know, The Big Lebowski (1998) turned 15 last month on March 6th.  I think it’s one of the greatest films to come out of the 20th century…but that’s just like, my opinion, man.

http://www.wpromote.com/blog/internet-news/big-lebowski-infographic/

15 years with e dude, big lebowski infographic from Wpromote Inc.
Happy Birthday Dude – from, Wpromote

Nick Offerman Mustache Comb

Remember that video I posted a while back of Nick Offerman (Ron Swanson) building a boat?  Well it turns out Offerman has a wood shop where he builds and sells different things.  Today my attention was brought to the existence of his limited edition mustache comb.

While I’m sure the quality is superb and it combs really well…I’m not willing to pay $75.  You can have initials burned in for an extra $25 for a grand total of $100 aka a Benjamin.