Tag Archives: books

Pop Culture Update – March 2016

There’s a lot of good stuff going on and here it is – this is absolutely an irrelevant post but I feel like posting and don’t want a week to go by without posting.

Zootopia-poster-2Zootopia (2016)

Zootopia has been getting great reviews and that’s alright as it definitely deserves the raves.  We went to see this on Saturday after a run in Griffith Park (5.5 miles for me, 8+ miles for Larry) as it had been a little while since going to the movies.  We’re in that weird lull before the spring/summer movie season but I think things are starting to pick up finally.  Anyway, Zootopia was a very good movie with a great story about not letting personal biases cloud the way you live your life and refuse to let fear drive your decisions.  It’s very applicable to today’s world, amirite?  Also great is how cute everything has been rendered.  Anyway, go see this.. You’ll love it.

2890063-trailer_theflameintheflood_announcement_20160516The Flame in the Flood

I had to write about this fantastic video game that I first became aware of when reading a preview about the game a year or so ago.  Former developers from the teams that made Bioshock were part of this and devoted all their money and time to making this.  I gotta say, it was worth the effort.  The Flame in the Flood is a roguelike type game, in which the world is randomly generated in a procedural manner, so the game may not play the same between different players.  That’s always neat, but the execution of how that all happens is key in whether it’s actually fun to play.  You basically have to survive while navigating your thrown-together raft down an endless river along with your faithful dog, Aesop.  You come across various islands you can dock at and scavenge for items to help you survive.  Of course, you also run into obstacles, whether it’s scary wolves and snakes or the elements themselves.  If you’re not paying attention, you could quickly find yourself overrun by the elements and having to start over.  I did start over quite frequently but each time you learn a bit more, and finally I ended up finishing the “campaign” mode – big hint:  Catch & skin rabbits and make pouches.  Maximize that inventory!!!  And run, a lot.

house-of-cards-season-4House of Cards, Season 4

It’s kind of depressing how quick time passes as you realize the a year has gone by since the last season was released all at once by Netflix.  But here we are again, and that means it’s been a year since I started at PwC, as Season 3 came out the weekend I was flipping out over having to fly to Atlanta and start orientation.  So we didn’t actually watch Season 3 for a few weeks. It seemed like we were on track to maybe yet again not watch this latest season for a few weeks, but nope, we started watching the first episode last night and of course that turned into 3 episodes.  IT’S SO GOOD.  Basically we pick up about a few hours after the stunning turn of events that transpired at the end of Season 3, and it doesn’t let up.  I love the new characters, and those characters that we know and love and that we hope have a sexual connection yet again….anyway, it’s as compelling and soap opera-y as it has ever been, and I can’t wait to see what transpires!

61zAZwTTkOLThe Passage – Justin Cronin

Nah, I don’t have the new book out in the Passage trilogy – I wish!  But I have started a re-read of the first two books, starting with The Passage.  It’s a long and twisty tale, and I’ve forgotten many of the details, but damn if I’m not already hooked again.  If you haven’t read these books, I’d highly recommend you give them a shot.  A lot of fun and quite epic – and I must admit I’m intrigued by the cover of The City of Mirrors and how it looks to be NYC-based.  New York didn’t seem to have much of anything to do with anything so I’m curious how it all ties together….plus the fact that this is the last one.  Here’s hoping this series goes out strong!

In other news, Larry & I have managed to knock out the table centerpieces, I think.  Some assembly is required still, but I think what we chose will look nice and not intrude in guests being able to see each other across the table!  Still can’t believe we’re so close to April 30!!!

Off to Scottsdale! Oh, More Pics too…

So for the rest of the week, I’m going to be in Scottsdale, AZ for a work event.  I just looked at the temperatures for the week – a jacket will not be necessary.  This weather reminds me why I’m in no rush to live in Arizona or to ever move back to Las Vegas.

So to get these photos out while they still are fresh in my head, here are the rest of the pics from this past week back East!

May 28, 2015 – LAX when on my way to Newark

This was the beginning of my journey.  It was also the beginning of a very shitty set of flights, leading to me getting very little sleep.  I have complained before about this fact.  Anyway, for my flight from LAX, I actually had to take a shuttle bus from the American Airlines terminal over to the American Eagle satellite terminal.  This bus gives you a tarmac-level view of the airport and it’s kinda cool!

28-May-2015 18:43, Apple iPhone 6, 2.2, 4.15mm, 0.005 sec, ISO 32
28-May-2015 18:43, Apple iPhone 6, 2.2, 4.15mm, 0.005 sec, ISO 32
28-May-2015 18:43, Apple iPhone 6, 2.2, 4.15mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 32
 
28-May-2015 18:43, Apple iPhone 6, 2.2, 4.15mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 32
28-May-2015 18:43, Apple iPhone 6, 2.2, 4.15mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 32
28-May-2015 18:43, Apple iPhone 6, 2.2, 4.15mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 32
 
28-May-2015 18:44, Apple iPhone 6, 2.2, 4.15mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 32
28-May-2015 18:45, Apple iPhone 6, 2.2, 4.15mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 32
28-May-2015 18:45, Apple iPhone 6, 2.2, 4.15mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 32
 
28-May-2015 18:45, Apple iPhone 6, 2.2, 4.15mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 32
28-May-2015 18:45, Apple iPhone 6, 2.2, 4.15mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 32
28-May-2015 18:46, Apple iPhone 6, 2.2, 4.15mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 32
 
28-May-2015 18:46, Apple iPhone 6, 2.2, 4.15mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 32
28-May-2015 18:48, Apple iPhone 6, 2.2, 4.15mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 32
28-May-2015 18:48, Apple iPhone 6, 2.2, 4.15mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 32
 

May 30, 2015 – Larry’s Actual Birthday while also Jake’s 6th Birthday Party

There was a big family event happening on Larry’s actual birthday, so we celebrated Larry’s the night before and after.  We headed over to his cousin’s amazing house where a very nice barbecue was being held, and it was a perfect chance to catch up with a lot of his family I normally don’t see all that much.  I love them all and it was a blast.

My pics (including our morning walk with Fran):

30-May-2015 11:48, Canon Canon PowerShot SX600 HS, 3.8, 4.5mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 200
30-May-2015 11:48, Canon Canon PowerShot SX600 HS, 11.0, 4.5mm, 0.005 sec, ISO 200
30-May-2015 11:49, Canon Canon PowerShot SX600 HS, 11.0, 4.5mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 320
 
30-May-2015 11:50, Canon Canon PowerShot SX600 HS, 3.8, 4.5mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 100
30-May-2015 12:22, Canon Canon PowerShot SX600 HS, 3.8, 4.5mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 200
30-May-2015 12:22, Canon Canon PowerShot SX600 HS, 3.8, 4.5mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 200
 
30-May-2015 12:22, Canon Canon PowerShot SX600 HS, 3.8, 4.5mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 200
30-May-2015 12:23, Canon Canon PowerShot SX600 HS, 11.0, 4.5mm, 0.004 sec, ISO 160
30-May-2015 12:23, Canon Canon PowerShot SX600 HS, 5.0, 14.043mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 160
 
30-May-2015 12:34, Canon Canon PowerShot SX600 HS, 3.8, 4.5mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 200
30-May-2015 12:34, Canon Canon PowerShot SX600 HS, 3.8, 4.5mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 200
30-May-2015 12:34, Canon Canon PowerShot SX600 HS, 5.0, 14.494mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 200
 
30-May-2015 12:34, Canon Canon PowerShot SX600 HS, 3.8, 4.5mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 200
30-May-2015 12:35, Canon Canon PowerShot SX600 HS, 4.5, 7.549mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 200
30-May-2015 12:35, Canon Canon PowerShot SX600 HS, 3.8, 4.5mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 160
 

Jon’s pics:

30-May-2015 15:10, NIKON COOLPIX S9700 , 4.8, 4.5mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 125
30-May-2015 15:11, NIKON COOLPIX S9700 , 4.8, 4.5mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 125
30-May-2015 15:11, NIKON COOLPIX S9700 , 4.8, 4.5mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 125
 
30-May-2015 15:12, NIKON COOLPIX S9700 , 5.6, 10.7mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 125
30-May-2015 15:13, NIKON COOLPIX S9700 , 5.6, 10.7mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 180
30-May-2015 17:13, NIKON COOLPIX S9700 , 4.8, 4.5mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 125
 
30-May-2015 17:13, NIKON COOLPIX S9700 , 4.2, 4.5mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 125
30-May-2015 17:13, NIKON COOLPIX S9700 , 3.7, 4.5mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 200
30-May-2015 17:13, NIKON COOLPIX S9700 , 6.0, 24.7mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 200
 
30-May-2015 17:14, NIKON COOLPIX S9700 , 4.5, 9.0mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 180
30-May-2015 17:15, NIKON COOLPIX S9700 , 3.7, 4.5mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 180
30-May-2015 17:15, NIKON COOLPIX S9700 , 4.2, 4.5mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 125
 
30-May-2015 17:15, NIKON COOLPIX S9700 , 4.2, 6.4mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 125
30-May-2015 17:15, NIKON COOLPIX S9700 , 4.0, 6.4mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 140
30-May-2015 17:19, NIKON COOLPIX S9700 , 4.2, 7.6mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 125
 

May 31, 2015 – Seeing the Mad Men exhibit at the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens

There is an AMAZING exhibit at the Museum of the Moving Image all about the show Mad Men.  There are costumes, props, writers’ notes, etc all in an exhibition celebrating the show.  Incredibly and most impressively, the sets for Don’s office in the SC&P building as well as the old Draper kitchen were re-assembled here.  You can walk into them up to a point and it’s amazing.  All the little details you remember are in place too, like ashtrays, record players, and family knick-knacks.  A truly fascinating exhibit for a splendid show.

Unfortunately, no pictures were allowed in the exhibit.  Feh!  But I did get some of the museum’s exterior as well as the drive to Queens from Ft Lee and back.  A must see though if you get the chance (it’s there until September of this year!).

31-May-2015 12:30, Canon Canon PowerShot SX600 HS, 3.8, 4.5mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 200
31-May-2015 12:30, Canon Canon PowerShot SX600 HS, 4.5, 9.952mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 160
31-May-2015 12:31, Canon Canon PowerShot SX600 HS, 3.8, 4.5mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 100
 
31-May-2015 12:31, Canon Canon PowerShot SX600 HS, 5.0, 15.441mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 200
31-May-2015 12:32, Canon Canon PowerShot SX600 HS, 5.6, 37.975mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 100
31-May-2015 12:32, Canon Canon PowerShot SX600 HS, 5.6, 37.975mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 100
 
31-May-2015 12:32, Canon Canon PowerShot SX600 HS, 5.0, 15.441mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 100
31-May-2015 12:32, Canon Canon PowerShot SX600 HS, 5.0, 15.441mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 100
31-May-2015 12:32, Canon Canon PowerShot SX600 HS, 5.0, 15.441mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 100
 
31-May-2015 12:32, Canon Canon PowerShot SX600 HS, 5.0, 15.441mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 100
31-May-2015 12:32, Canon Canon PowerShot SX600 HS, 5.0, 15.441mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 100
31-May-2015 12:41, Canon Canon PowerShot SX600 HS, 3.8, 4.5mm, 0.005 sec, ISO 200
 
31-May-2015 12:41, Canon Canon PowerShot SX600 HS, 3.8, 4.5mm, 0.013 sec, ISO 400
31-May-2015 12:41, Canon Canon PowerShot SX600 HS, 3.8, 4.5mm, 0.02 sec, ISO 200
31-May-2015 12:49, Canon Canon PowerShot SX600 HS, 3.8, 4.5mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 100
 

June 3, 2015 – Visiting Alyssa, Jon & Stacey in New Jersey

June 1 & 2 were mostly focused around work.  I went to Boston on the 1st (up AND back) and it was exhausting.  Then i went into the city for work on the 2nd, getting back that night for Fran’s birthday dinner at a great Italian restaurant, which was a lot of fun.

But on the 3rd, it was the day when Fran & Larry were going to pick Stacey up from daycare.  So while they did that, I worked from Jon & Alyssa’s house.  Once they got back to the house, we then went to dinner – again, lots of good food and drink while getting to spend some extra time with Jon & Alyssa, which we don’t get to do all that often.

03-Jun-2015 16:56, Apple iPhone 6, 2.2, 4.15mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 125
03-Jun-2015 18:55, Apple iPhone 6, 2.2, 4.15mm, 0.067 sec, ISO 250
03-Jun-2015 18:58, Apple iPhone 6, 2.2, 4.15mm, 0.067 sec, ISO 400
 
03-Jun-2015 18:58, Apple iPhone 6, 2.2, 4.15mm, 0.067 sec, ISO 250
03-Jun-2015 18:58, Apple iPhone 6, 2.2, 4.15mm, 0.067 sec, ISO 250
03-Jun-2015 19:13, Apple iPhone 6, 2.2, 4.15mm, 0.067 sec, ISO 250
 
03-Jun-2015 19:14, Apple iPhone 6, 2.2, 4.15mm, 0.05 sec, ISO 250
03-Jun-2015 19:14, Apple iPhone 6, 2.2, 4.15mm, 0.05 sec, ISO 250
03-Jun-2015 19:14, Apple iPhone 6, 2.2, 4.15mm, 0.05 sec, ISO 250
 
06-Jun-2015 20:14, 2.2, 4.15mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 160
 

June 4, 2015 – Thursday in NYC

Thursday is the new Friday, as always, when it comes to going out in NYC.  Larry and I went into the city on the bus together that day, but while I went to work, he met up with Treva and had some adventures over by the new Whitney museum, which pictures you can see included in this collection.  I met up with Larry after work and then we headed over to Gramercy Park Hotel to have a drink (or three) with our awesome pal, Amy, who we met back in 2011 on our first Med cruise.  So much fun.   Larry & I then headed to dinner at Pigalle, the scene of our first date nearly 7 years ago.  Where’d the time go????

04-Jun-2015 11:48, Apple iPhone 6, 2.2, 4.15mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 32
04-Jun-2015 11:48, Apple iPhone 6, 2.2, 4.15mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 32
04-Jun-2015 11:48, Apple iPhone 6, 2.2, 4.15mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 32
 
04-Jun-2015 12:07
04-Jun-2015 12:08
04-Jun-2015 13:07
 
04-Jun-2015 13:08
04-Jun-2015 14:08
04-Jun-2015 17:25, Canon Canon PowerShot SX600 HS, 5.6, 24.902mm, 0.013 sec, ISO 250
 
04-Jun-2015 17:26, Canon Canon PowerShot SX600 HS, 6.3, 60.664mm, 0.008 sec, ISO 160
04-Jun-2015 17:26, Canon Canon PowerShot SX600 HS, 5.6, 39.062mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 400
04-Jun-2015 17:26, Canon Canon PowerShot SX600 HS, 6.9, 81.0mm, 0.004 sec, ISO 500
 
04-Jun-2015 17:26, Canon Canon PowerShot SX600 HS, 6.9, 81.0mm, 0.004 sec, ISO 400
04-Jun-2015 17:26, Canon Canon PowerShot SX600 HS, 6.9, 81.0mm, 0.008 sec, ISO 400
04-Jun-2015 17:27, Canon Canon PowerShot SX600 HS, 6.9, 81.0mm, 0.004 sec, ISO 500
 

June 5, 2015 – Morgan Library with Stuart & Treva

Friday night we met up with Treva & Stuart to close out our time back east in a proper fashion.  It’s always necessary to see these guys as they’re also the best.  The meeting point was at the Morgan Library, which was truly J.P. Morgan’s stand-alone library that he had built for himself.  It’s fascinatingly over the top.  The museum has some modern additions that make it quite a stunning space, as you’ll see in the pics.  Of course the old-school libraries are stunning in quite a majestic way too.  A Lincoln exhibit was there but it was fairly mobbed so I didn’t see all the writings there, but a copy of the Emancipation Proclamation I did see so that was cool.

After the museum we ate a fun taco place in the Murray Hill area (I think) and then grabbed dessert at the Shake Shack in Madison Square Park.  The options for eating in NYC are endless and it’s wonderful.

05-Jun-2015 19:20, Apple iPhone 6, 2.2, 4.15mm, 0.007 sec, ISO 32
05-Jun-2015 19:20, Apple iPhone 6, 2.2, 4.15mm, 0.008 sec, ISO 32
05-Jun-2015 19:20, Apple iPhone 6, 2.2, 4.15mm, 0.008 sec, ISO 32
 
05-Jun-2015 19:20, Apple iPhone 6, 2.2, 4.15mm, 0.004 sec, ISO 32
05-Jun-2015 19:20, Apple iPhone 6, 2.2, 4.15mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 80
05-Jun-2015 19:28, Apple iPhone 6, 2.2, 4.15mm, 0.067 sec, ISO 400
 
05-Jun-2015 19:28, Apple iPhone 6, 2.2, 4.15mm, 0.067 sec, ISO 320
05-Jun-2015 19:29, Apple iPhone 6, 2.2, 4.15mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 160
05-Jun-2015 19:29, Apple iPhone 6, 2.2, 4.15mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 64
 
05-Jun-2015 20:05, Apple iPhone 6, 2.2, 4.15mm, 0.042 sec, ISO 250
05-Jun-2015 20:05, Apple iPhone 6, 2.2, 4.15mm, 0.042 sec, ISO 250
 

June 6, 2015 – Going Home

Well, it was finally time to head home.  Honestly, I was more than ready for our own bed again!  I got back to LA first as we had booked our flights separately.  I ended up getting through a majority of a book that Nicki highly recommended, Ready Player One.  It’s realllly good and of course because it deals heavily in 1980’s pop culture and videogames, I’m totally invested.  It’s also a very fun story in and of itself, but the sheen of the 80s on it definitely makes it more interesting.

06-Jun-2015 08:51, Apple iPhone 6, 2.2, 4.15mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 100
06-Jun-2015 08:51, Apple iPhone 6, 2.2, 4.15mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 125
06-Jun-2015 14:40, Apple iPhone 6, 2.2, 4.15mm, ISO 32
 
06-Jun-2015 14:40, Apple iPhone 6, 2.2, 4.15mm, ISO 32
06-Jun-2015 15:13, Apple iPhone 6, 2.2, 4.15mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 32
 

And the pictures are now caught up!  I’ll need to get some thoughts together on the movies I’ve seen over the past few weeks that I’ve neglected to write about, Pitch Perfect 2 and San Andreas.  Maybe tomorrow from Arizona!

The Bleak as F*ck “Revival”

I had briefly mentioned my thoughts on Stephen King’s Mr. Mercedes and found it inoffensive and enjoyable enough, but it didn’t really feel very StephenKing-y.  Since I had taken my time to actually get to reading Mr. Mercedes, it was great timing that his second novel of 2014, Revival, ended up landing on my doorstep right when I finished Mr. M.  Revival stayed unopened on my nightstand for a week or so though but once I cracked it open, I was immediately enchanted.  Oh how silly I was in those early days.

81KbwsMpmKLStephen King is amazingly talented at writing characters.  Even Mr. Mercedes had compelling characters but the plot was just where I felt let down as it was a simple (yet disturbing) crime story.  In Revival, Stephen King yet again creates a set of characters you immediately bond with.  There’s Jamie, who we meet as a young boy and learn all about over the course of his life;  there’s also “Pastor Danny”/Charles Jacobs, who bounces into Jamie’s entire life at both opportune and inopportune moments.  While Jamie is our eyes & ears into the story and certainly our protagonist, Pastor Danny isn’t exactly the antagonist.  At the beginning, when he’s the town’s charming preacher with the boyish good looks and the beautiful family, you’re utterly within his sway.  Then tragedy strikes and Pastor Danny mocks God and heads out of town.

King has created these characters and you LIKE them.  Even Pastor Danny!  He’s a guy who got completely screwed by cruel fate and you can relate.  What you don’t really know is that Pastor Danny has plans.  He is quite a student of lightning and its “healing effects,” but as we learn over the course of the next five decades, there’s a price to pay for playing with these kinds of forces.

If you’ve read any reviews of Revival, you’ll likely have read the sentiment that there’s really no payoff until the very end.  That assessment is mostly true, but it seems to be missing the forest for the trees.  The tale told of these two men and the way they intersect over their lifetimes is fascinating.  Stephen King never lets you get bored with these two men and you want to know what they’re doing while it’s happening in the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and 00s, while knowing that this is a tale being told from “The End’s” vantage point.  King builds a fantastic sense of dread and every strange moment he reveals lets you know that something indeed is happening and it is a bad thing for all involved.

And JESUS – the end….what the book leads to…when I finally realized that was it and what all had happened, I turned to Larry and just muttered “that was fucking bleak.”  Obviously King loves to have his carnage and his horror and all associated mindfucks that go with it, but in Revival, it is beyond that.  Even he has mentioned in interviews that “Revival is a dark, nasty piece of work” and that is no lie.  Someone on GoodReads.com mentioned in their review that the reason they found this book so bleak was that King puts out a sense of a hope and at the end, utterly smashes that hope and fucking leaves you stranded and alone.

It’s a rough end to a story but I can’t really go into it without spoiling it to say why.  But the journey to the end was still worth taking.  A lot of good lines in the book, but one that stuck with me and one I see quoted a lot by others is this:

Home is where they want you to stay longer.

There’s some great stuff in this book, including the ending, and it’s a great Stephen King novel through and through.  Just, damn, man, damn.

An Interstellar / Big Hero 6 Moviefest

So it’s been an exhausting three days as I’ve been laid up with a fever-cold combo that was quite annoying.  Started coming down with it on Thursday and while hoping it was just sniffles or maybe allergies, on Friday I woke up and it was clear I was sick with fever.  So at least I had managed to see Interstellar the night before!  I felt good better on Saturday morning and said let’s go out to the movies, so we then saw Big Hero 6.  As I pointed out a few posts ago, that may have been a bad idea for me physically as when I got home, I was well on way to being sick again with fever.

Mr-Mercedes_612x380Anyway, rested yesterday all day and managed to finish Stephen King’s latest, Mr Mercedes, and the quick review (which is really all it deserves): it’s a very serviceable crime thriller, but nothing special.  Nothing that made it feel like a  Stephen King book. Hopeful for the next coming out this week, Revival.    BTW, I absolutely adored Doctor Sleep, the followup to the character of Danny Torrance from The Shining.  Maybe I mentioned my high regard for it before?  Mr Mercedes had been sitting there on my table for a great long while as nothing about it was compelling to me – but being sick and having actually begun the book a week or so ago helps get you going on projects that require very little physical effort, and FB and Twitter get old after a while!

Movie Talk Time!

My intent for this post was to talk about the two movies I did see while in a state of delirium/sickness, so let’s get to it!!!  First up….

-98caac85-f5ed-419a-8a2e-672a10473ea3Interstellar (2014)

Saw it at AMC Universal City in glorious 70mm IMAX on Thursday, November 6

I’ve been looking forward to seeing this movie for quite a while, especially once the trailers started giving us a little bit more of what the movie was actually going to be about.  A friend at work set up an outing for that Thursday before the official Friday release as it was a chance to watch this while being shown in film in 70mm IMAX format.  It was a no-brainer for Larry & I to join in.

interstellar_movie_still_2To jump right to if I liked the movie?  OH YES.  It’s fantastic.  Not only are the visuals stunning especially in glorious IMAX, the story and science behind them are intriguing and entertaining to watch. The plot centers on a last-ditch effort to save humankind from extinction as apparently climate change has impacted the ecosystem to a point where it seems to now be hostile towards our growing of food as there’s something called “The Blight” destroying crops.  Through some mysterious circumstances, Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) ends up piloting the secret mission to fly through a wormhole to a galaxy light years away.  He has to leave his family and knows that he won’t see them for years, due to the effects of the Theory of Relativity and light-speed travel.  This hits especially hard with his clever daughter, Murphy.

Interstellar_trailer2The interstellar voyage is wondrous to behold.   Imagine seeing that on an IMAX screen.  You feel like that little tiny orb in the screnshot above, and that’s a PLANET.   The scientific theories and repercussions the team experiences as they explore and try to find earlier voyagers does challenge you to keep up, but I think the movie does a good job of letting you watch and see what happens to fully understand what the side effects are of relativity and black holes.  Well, at least as well as we understand them.  Side note: there are some entertaining and spoiler-filled articles on various entertainment sites that list all the seeming plotholes and confusing points this movie introduces….BUT, let’s just say they really don’t matter and I think those sites might be a touch nit-picky.  This movie is an experience, a ride, and you may actually get a better understanding of the theory of relativity while you’re at it.

Interstellar24All the actors do great jobs, as you have Jessica Chastain (as grown-up Murphy), Anne Hathaway (as a fellow scientist on the voyage), Michael Caine (one of the lead scientists encouraging the mission) around, but one of the surprising things is the awesome set of robots that accompany the team on their mission, TARS and CASE.  They provide a great sense of levity as they’re programmed with humor and sarcasm thresholds which they take full advantage of.  They’re also lifesavers in many ways throughout the movie.  Interstellar wouldn’t be the movie it is without their addition.

Interstellar_67383Anyway, it’s a long movie, but thankfully it’s one of those you don’t notice that it’s long as you’re just getting blown away by the visuals and the story.  I wager it’ll be one that loses something in the transition to watching at home, kinda like Gravity, but it’s still gonna stick with you.  Another thing?  It ends nicely….not entirely all wrapped up in a pretty package, BUT it stuck the landing in my book and left my satisfied.  Maybe there’s a sequel, but I see no need for one.  It’s a nice complete tale.  Okay, the ending is a bit crazy, but I still like it.  Seriously.
NEXT!
big_hero_6_unpublished_characterl_poster_d_jposters-2

Big Hero 6 (2014)

Saw this at the Pacific Theaters at Americana on November 8, 2014
And now it’s time to talk about a movie that was also sci-fi in nature but far more light-hearted and dare I say it, fun?  Interstellar was certainly a ride, but in Big Hero 6, you’re getting a movie that has tons of charm, tons of heart, and another adorable robot in the form of BayMax.  It’s a thrilling feeling to have TWO good movies in a row and not be the slightest bit disappointed in either!
BIG HERO 6Big Hero 6 takes place in an alternate reality where there is a place called San Fransokyo, an imagining of San Francisco that also has a mashup of Tokyo in it.  It’s quite beautiful honestly.  Hiro, the central protagonist, is a robotics prodigy/whiz, while his older brother, Tadashi-big-hero-6-37325655-245-250Tadashi (who is kind of a hottie for an animated character, just sayin’), is also a genius robotics major at the local robotics university lab.  Hiro isn’t motivated to go that route until his brother drags him to his lab and shows him the amazing things that he and his colleagues have developed.  If you’re in the slightest interested by robotics or cool tech, this movie will work wonders for you.  Tadashi’s robot though is the star of the movie though, as it’s BayMax!
big-hero-6-immersed
BayMax is a healthcare robot that Tadashi built that activates upon hearing an “Ouch!” and scans for injuries and does what he can to fix them.  Hiro ends up suffering quite a huge loss and ends up counting on BayMax for emotional and physical support.  Hiro ends up on a quest to right some wrongs after the tech that Hiro develops gets used against him and his friends – and in the course of doing so, turns his group in to a formidable force of their own, eventually called….Big Hero 6!

big-hero-6-baymaxHonestly, the main story is entertaining and spectacular and quite enjoyable, but this movie’s heart is all about the amazing BayMax (wonderfully voiced by 30 Rock’s Scott Adsit).   He only wants to help people and gets singularly focused on making sure that’s what he does.  It’s utterly charming and he steals the movie (as if it was about anything else…but still).  Whether it’s his attempts at getting around cramped surfaces, his plaintive statements such as “I’m not fast” while running from danger, or his pseudo-drunken state when experiencing low battery and the hilarious “hairrry baby!”, BayMax is a keeper.  There’s lots of emotions in this movie too and a few times I found myself full of tears.  It’s a good movie, dammit, and the tears were well-earned.  I’m glad Larry obsessed about this movie before it came out as I’m not sure I would have been all that enthused, but he was, I got more enthused, and here we are.  A definite must-see!!!

Monday Mind-dump

I’ve been lax on posting for no real reason.  It’s almost too easy for me to do, but then I don’t.  Here’s why:

Tropico 4:

In some respects, it’s a good thing Larry is back in NYC, as I wouldn’t have been very communicative as if I play video games on my PC, 9 times out of 10, I’m going to play Tropico 4.  It’s a game that lets you play as a dictator of a tropical island, and it’s up to you to satisfy your Tropicans’ religious, entertainment, housing, etc needs.  You can also stripmine your island for its resources and start up lucrative industries, like jewelry, chemicals, weapons, canned goods…  I can’t imagine watching someone play is at all interesting, but when you guide your island to success and watch what just was a dock and a palace into some megalopolis, it’s hypnotic.  I’m on the last mission of the campaign, and shit just got real.  All of a sudden, it’s a much more challenging mission.  I guess that’s good.

 

Game of Thrones:

Both the HBO series and the books have made me their bitch.  This weekend, I was feeling blah and stayed in for the most part.  On Sunday, I ended up watching the remainder of the season – that comprised of the last six episodes.  That’s six hours – six REAL hours – of television.  I couldn’t stop myself.  I even forgot that I had been doing laundry.  I even knew what was going to happen, as my plan was to read the book first and then watch the series (I was successful).  Yet under the liberating non-constraints of HBO as well as working with the author as an executive producer, you get pure medieval fantasy bliss.  Tons of political intrigue, LOTS of gore, lots of nudity (female AND male) and sex, and quite a bit of wit and cynicism from everyone’s favorite dwarf, Tyrion, a viewer become spellbound.  It definitely is hard to get into during that first episode, because just like the book, a ton of characters are thrown at you.  Yet you slowly figure out who is who and most of their motivations (Littlefinger and Varys notwithstanding) and now you simply HAVE to know what’s going to happen next.

Similarly, the second book, A Clash of Kings, has got me in its grasp.  Book 1, Game of Thrones, ended with quite a bit up in the air, which Book 2 picks right up on.  BOOKLOG notes (spoilers abound now, so feel free to jump ahead to the next paragraph if you don’t want to know what’s happening about 1/4 of the way through the book):  First, the Theon Greyjoy stuff.  It took me forever to remember who he was and why I was supposed to care.  Thankfully I just watched the HBO series of book one, so I got a good reminder.  He goes back to his homeland, the Iron Islands, where his father awaits, but instead of at most a “welcome back”, it’s derision and accusations of being a Stark.  Plus, Balon implies that he won’t be helping Robb defeat the Lannisters…he has his eye on something else.  I’m not sure what that something else, although Theon knows.  Is it Winterfell, since only Bran is there now?  Speaking of Bran, he just finished greeting some of the many lords who are coming to Winterfell to be heard and one of them mentions the decree from Stannis concerning his allegations about Cersei’s incest with Jamie.  That knowledge, combined with his dreams of crows, finally illuminates for him what happened that fateful day on the tower when Jamie pushed him out the window after seeing Jamie and Cersei screwing.  There has been no proof, up till possibly now, that Jamie and Cersei are incestuous, and the current plan by Cersei and Tyrion (who knows full well that it’s true) is to let a similar story float up about Stannis and his wife, although implying the wife and the Fool had an affair that resulted in his grotesque daughter.  Arya’s fate is also unclear as she and Yorick’s boys (all headed to the Wall for the Night’s Watch) settled in an abandoned courtyard and were promptly attacked, getting burned to the ground by a Lannister army.  Arya and Gendry (who was quite attractive, as I had imagined, in the HBO series when Ned found him) escaped through a secret tunnel but what the hell is going to happen now?  And I still can’t imagine if Arya and Gendry are “meant to be”, as there is such a big age difference there.  I like my Arya fierce and independent.  I’m sure other stuff is happening, as in these books, the many threads are all in motion.

 

11/22/63, by Stephen King:

You don’t think the intricacies of Game of Thrones is enough to keep me occupied, do you?  P’shaw.  I did want to finish Book 1 first before starting this book, as it is huge.  I then started this one, but then I was stuck at the airport waiting for Larry’s flight to arrive so I started reading Book 2 of GoT, so now I am reading these both simultaneously.  Luckily they have nothing to do with each other or are even in the same vein and it’s easy to keep them sorted.  This book is a whole lot of wow too.  The main conceit of this story is that the protagonist, Jake Epping, is made aware of a rip in the time-space continuum that will take you from present-day 2011 to the same day in 1958 every time you go through it.  It’s a real 1958, and any major things you do back then WILL impact your real present, which you’ll be able to see when you come back through the rip.  And oh yeah, no matter how much time you spend in the past, when you go back through the timerip, it’ll only be 2 minutes later in 2011.  The other hitch?  If you come back to 2011 and then decide to return to 1958, it’s as if you pressed RESET.  Everything you did in your previous time trip is undone, so anything good you did that last trip would have to be redone.  BOOKLOG time (Spoilers ahead, so jump ahead to the next paragraph to avoid them):  Alright, so as you can see from the title 11/22/63, this book also deals with Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas.  Jake is tasked with this duty from the guy who first found the time rip in his restaurant pantry, but he was unsuccessful in stopping Lee Harvey Oswald.  Jake is pretty much unattached and decides to go for it.  He tests out the whole mechanics of it all by first trying to prevent a dramatic murder in one of his friend’s childhood which happened in DERRY!!!  Derry, the city from Stephen King’s IT, a huge novel I actually just re-read during the Med cruise.  So yay for fortunate timing!  1958 is also the year that IT’s first cycle of terry ends, so Jake gets to see a Derry as it was right after IT was silenced the first time.  It’s a fascinating look back at things in the 1950s, but what was most amusing was that after all the work he does to stop the murder, he is only able to half-stop things from going shitty.  So he leaves 1958, goes back to 2011, sees what happened with his interference, and gets ready to go back in for the long haul, all the way to 1963.  He decides to do Derry in a much more efficient manner this time, and quickly takes out the killer long before the time of the original murder, and then heads off to Texas.  Oswald apparently was in Russia for most of the time leading up to 1963, so Jake ends up biding his time in  a small Texas town.  He takes up teaching English at the high school (just like he did in 2011) and has also met a nice fellow teacher named Sadie.  It’s still only 1960 though, so a couple years left to go.  There are some threads in the story about Jake’s gambling (using Back to the Future methods of knowing how the games end up) that feel unresolved, so I’m expecting that to impact his life.  Plus, you just know that the conceit of the timeline RESET will come back somehow after he’s taken care of the Kennedy thing.  I know it!!!!

******************

I’ve been doing other things too, but those are big timesucks right there.  Happy news:  my sciatica pains are almost all gone.  Did I already write this?  Well, it looks like my doctor was correct about waiting this out.  I was beginning to give up as the pain, over the past 4 months, continued to get worse, move around, change, get better, get worse again, and move around yet again.  At the very beginning of this month, right before Larry left for NYC, the pain really started moving again and seemingly back to where it originated from.  It was weird, and I was oddly hopeful that it was a sign things were getting better.  Yet the pain was just as agonizing.  But then the days came where sitting didn’t bother me that much.  I could get into bed without wincing.  I realized that the pain indeed was going away.  It is still 95% gone and for that I’m grateful.  Now I just have to do my best to try and protect my spine from such injuries.  And for God’s sake, when I have a ton of luggage – take a fucking taxi.  Trains are for when you have one bag.  Not 3 heavy bags each.

Okay, enough for now. I’m going to continue with the BookLOGs and other posts on a more frequent basis, hopefully.  That is, if Tropico 4 doesn’t get me first.