Monday, December 31, 2012

PCP on DVD - New Year's Eve

In honor of tonight's holiday, I decided to post my review of this movie.  From the people that brought you the overly crowded movie Valentine's Day comes the next holiday themed movie, New Year's Eve.  Starring an incredibly large cast of actors, this film tries to make you all warm and fuzzy about the holiday and it's potential for romance.  Unfortunately, it is 99% predictable and pretty much falls flat.

New Year's Eve - 2011, rated PG-13.  My rating:  5 out of 10.

When I say that NYE has a huge cast of characters, I'm not exaggerating.  Just take a look at the poster to the side, there's a full 18 actors with their names and faces on the poster.  That's a bit of overkill, and it actually bogs down the film.  And on top of the 18 billed stars, we get a whole ton of supporting actors that have familiar faces that make you say "Hey it's that guy!"  We get at most 15 minutes with any one or two characters, and some of the stars of the film are in just one scene.  Apparently everyone in Hollywood owes Garry Marshall a favor or something because the gang's all here.

By telling the series of intertwined stories for so many different people, none of the characters are able to develop much beyond a shallow stereotype.  All of the stories are completely predictable, and only a few are actually believable.  Most are purely designed to tug at the heartstrings but not leave any sort of lasting impression on the viewer.  It's kind of sensory overload.  All I know is that watching this movie annually on New Year's Eve will definitely NOT become a tradition in my household.

Friday, December 21, 2012

POS - My rebuttal to the NRA in the wake of Newtown

So the head of the NRA today came out and gave a speech blaming everything in the world but guns for the shooting in Newtown, including blaming video games, movies, the music industry, and other things for the shooting (all of which are BS reasons).  He also blamed the fact that there isn't armed security in every school because he thinks that would solve all problems.  Here's the thing:  Columbine had an armed security guard on duty when the shooting happened.  Virginia Tech had an entire armed campus police force.  Northern Illinois University also had an armed campus police force.  He cites the example of banks having an armed guard, but banks are usually small and only one room to cover.  Schools are massive buildings, sometimes even campuses.  My former high school, Stevenson in Lincolnshire, IL, has over 4,000 students.  One cop covering that whole campus isn't going to do much unless he happens to be in the same part of the school when the shooting starts, just like what happened at Columbine.  My college alma mater, Michigan, is even larger, just like a school like Virginia Tech.  Having an armed guard in every school is NOT going to solve the problem, sorry, but thanks for playing!

Furthermore, even if armed security was an option - how are we going to pay for that?  There are 100,000 public schools in this country, approximately.  So, if you put an armed security guard at each school, lets say he's making around $50,000  on average.  $50,000 times 100,000 schools = $5 billion.  And thats just for 1 guard at each school.  As I said, many schools are significantly larger than just single room schools.  So that 5 billion would just be the tip of the iceberg in terms of the costs for a program like this, in order to provide adequate coverage for larger schools.  10 guards per school, and we are now at $50 billion.  100 guards per school?  $500 billion.  Considering the federal government is in the process of driving over the fiscal cliff, where is that money going to come from?  Good luck getting the anti-tax and anti-federal government Republican party to agree to that.  Not to mention, those 100,000+ new security guards are likely to want to form a union (or the teachers unions will demand that they be unionized) so now you're telling me that you can get today's GOP to vote for a tax increase that will create 100,000+ union jobs?  Seriously?

Aside from that, I also find his remarks on blaming video games and movies for violence revolting.  Statistically speaking, his argument has more holes than swiss cheese.  Take just one video game that had been blamed for violence in the Columbine shooting:  Doom.  The Doom series of video games has sold over 10 million units since the first one's release almost 20 years ago.  There have been about 40 school shootings since the game's release.  That means that if every school shooter had played doom, there are 9,999,960 people that played the game that were not driven to a school shooting.  Put another way, that is odds of .000004, or 1 in 250,000.  You have significantly better odds of being struck by lightning in your lifetime (1 in 10,000) or dying in a plane crash in your lifetime (1 in 66,000 given flying one round trip per year on one of the top 25 "safe" airlines).  Conversely, your odds of dying as a result of an assault with firearms is 1 in 321.  But yes, let's keep blaming video games, because that makes more sense.
 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

PCP on DVD - Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

Robert Downey Jr. & Jude Law made their return in this sequel to Sherlock Holmes, this time taking on Holmes' most famous nemesis from the books, Professor Moriarty.  Along with RDJ & Law, director Guy Ritchie also returned to helm the film, & actresses Rachel McAdams & Kelly Reilly also reprised their roles.  Did it live up to the original (reviewed in this post here)?  Read on and see!

Sherlock Holmes:  A Game of Shadows - 2011, rated PG-13.  My rating:  8 out of 10.

I really loved the original Sherlock Holmes from 2009.  I liked RDJ's swagger in the character a ton.  This sequel delivers more of the same, as well as adds in Jared Harris as the evil villain Professor Moriarty.  Harris is outstanding as a villain, and if you need more proof of that than this film, go watch the first and fourth seasons of Fringe.  Also new to the cast is Noomi Rapace, the original Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, making her English language debut.  She cleans up nicely as a Gypsy here in this film.

The action sequences are well done and entertaining, but there is a bit too much reliance on the slow-motion "Holmes vision" that was used in the first film.  It pops up often enough that it starts to get a little bit annoying.  There was also less complications to the mystery this time compared to the first film, it was actually a bit easier to figure out just what was going on.  The nice thing is though that the film was still a very enjoyable ride, and it was fun to laugh at RDJ in some of the crazy costumes Holmes donned as a part of his disguises.  All in all it was an enjoyable sequel.  I'm already looking forward to Sherlock Holmes 3, currently slated for 2014.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

PCP on DVD - 50/50

Making a good film about cancer is hard.  Making a good film about cancer that is both touching and funny is even harder.  50/50 is an attempt to be that film, and fortunately it succeeds.

50/50 - 2011, rated R.  My rating:  8 out of 10.

50/50 is based on a true story.  The film is written by Will Reiser, a TV exec and real-life friend of Seth Rogen's that underwent treatment for cancer while in his 20s.  Playing the character based on Reiser is Joseph Gordon-Levitt, turning in yet another stellar performance in his career.  JGL is seriously and criminally underappreciated by too many people.  I'm hoping that the films he's been involved in for the past few years (Inception, TDKR, Looper, Premium Rush, 500 Days of Summer, 50/50) really help him to break out and get to the A-list level of stardom that he deserves with his performances.

The 50/50 of the title is JGL's odds of beating the cancer at the time of its detection.  The film is obviously going to have its dark moments, as it is dealing with such a serious topic as cancer and death.  But it is also uplifted by some great funny moments from Seth Rogen (turning in the best performance of his career), and also laughter at the comedic ineptness of JGL's hospital therapist, an intern fresh out of med school on only her 3rd patient, played capably by Anna Kendrick.  There are also great supporting performances from a very talented cast including Bryce Dallas Howard, Anjelica Huston, Matt Frewer, & Philip Baker Hall. 

Overall, the film wound up being a lot better than I expected it to be and it is definitely worth a watch, despite the serious subject matter.  Go forth and be entertained!

Monday, December 3, 2012

PCP - Next summer can't get here soon enough

So we are now in December, which means we are 5 months away from May and the start of summer movie season.  To celebrate this, I'm going to share with you two new movie posters that were released today for what will likely be two of the biggest movies in 2013.

The new Star Trek and Superman films both are heavily shrouded in secrecy, so I don't really know much about the plot to either, all I know is that I have every intention of seeing these films opening weekend if my schedule will let me.  I'm also most looking forward to Iron Man 3 (May 3), Monsters University (June 21), World War Z (June 21), Wolverine (July 26), & Elysium (August 9), amongst many other films.

What film releases do you have circled on your calendar for 2013? Hit me up in the comments!


Friday, November 30, 2012

FML - Oppa Baby Style

So my son has developed his first addiction - watching "Gangnam Style" on YouTube on my cell phone.  If he's being fussy, simply popping that on for him manages to calm him down.  He also bops his feet and waves his arms to the music (if he's not holding the phone himself), but he can't do the whole dance yet (obviously).

Here is a cute photo of him enjoying a bottle and watching the video.


Oh, and if you have no clue what the heck Gangnam Style is (what, have you been living under a rock this year?) it is that YouTube music video that has racked up 855 million views and counting in a mere four months, and its performer, Psy, has shown up all over TV including Ellen, Saturday Night Live, the American Music Awards, the MTV Video Music Awards, and many other places.  Just go to YouTube and search for "Gangnam Style" and you'll find it, its the one with a massive ton of views. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

PCP on DVD - Gone

I like a good thriller as much as the next film fan.  The problem is that it is hard to surprise me with a movie anymore, as I've seen so many films I usually can see the ending coming a mile away.  Gone tries its best to keep the viewer guessing, but its best is not good enough.

Gone - 2012, rated PG-13.  My rating:  5 out of 10.

Amanda Seyfried stars in Gone as a girl who's sister goes missing.  A year earlier, Amanda had been kidnapped as well, and she believes that the man that took her has now taken her sister.  The problem for her is that no one believes her, because she has a history of mental illness and no one believed her last year when she was taken.  So, she has to try and find her sister, but the film attempts to keep you guessing as to what really happened compared to how much of it is just paranoia or mental illness.

The film really tries its best, and Seyfried is good as she usually is, but the film was just somewhat lacking overall.  Some of the decisions made by Seyfried's character move beyond the realm of history of mental illness and into the realm of outright stupidity.  You know you're watching a bad movie when you want to yell at the screen to tell the characters to stop doing something so stupid.

Overall, the film could have been better, but it also could have been a lot worse.  Instead it is perfectly average and due to be gone from my memory before long.

Friday, November 23, 2012

PCP on DVD - Puss in Boots

It seems sequels, prequels, remakes, and spinoffs are all that get made in Hollywood these days.  Puss in Boots is a prequel and spinoff from the Shrek franchise that thankfully has some legs of its own, unlike all too many unoriginal ideas for films.

Puss in Boots - 2011, rated PG.  My rating:  7 out of 10.

This movie tells the origin story of the character of Puss in Boots, explaining how he turned in to the swashbuckling rogue from the Shrek franchise.  As a film I enjoyed it better than the 3rd and 4th Shrek movies, so at least it improved upon the series, but it still doesn't hold a candle to Shrek 1 and 2. 

Aside from Puss, the entire rest of the cast of characters are all new to the Shrek universe, including Humpty Dumpty and Jack & Jill.  This allows the film to feel a lot more independent of the Shrek franchise, as opposed to simply being a Shrek story told from Puss' point of view.  The film has both heart and wit, and it is enjoyable for both kids and adults.  It isn't anything particularly new or groundbreaking for the plot however, it is pretty straightforward and predictable for the majority of the film (of course though, it's a kid's movie, it's not like I should be expecting major plot twists).  Still, it is a worthy addition to the franchise and those that liked the Puss character from the Shrek series should take the time to watch this movie.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

FML - First 5k in the bag

So this past weekend, my wife and I competed in our first 5k, along with my stepsister, her husband, and my niece.  It was the Miles for the Military 5k in South Barrington, raising money for veterans charities.  The race went a lot better than I expected.  I finished in 40:43, which beat my personal best in training by about 4 minutes.  However, since we started at the back of the pack, there was a good 20-30 seconds before we crossed the starting line, so my time was even better than that.  There is definitely a lot of pressure to run faster when you are running in a giant crowd, as opposed to running solo on a treadmill.  The course had timers up at the mile markers, so I know my splits.  I hit the first mile mark at 12:27, and the 2nd mile mark at 25:30.  It was the final mile that really killed me.  I was overheating because I had on too many layers, so I had to revert to walking briefly in order to remove my sweatshirt and move my runner's tag from my sweatshirt to my undershirt.  Nothing is more fun than trying to pin back on a tag while moving.  I tried to do it while still running but I kept stabbing myself with the pins.  I suppose if I had been dressed better for the race, I would've broken the 40 minute mark, but at least I have a nice goal for my next race.

My family all spanked me on the course, however.  My 10 year old niece and my stepsister beat me by 5 minutes, my brother in law by 4.5 minutes, and my wife by 3 minutes.  At least I was able to finish though, and I am proud of myself for taking this step to improve my health.

Next up is the Shamrock Shuffle 8k in March, and the Big 10k in the summertime.  I'm hoping I do well in those races, and I'll have to spend the winter working on my endurance if I hope to have any sort of good time in those events.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

PCP in Theaters - Breaking Dawn Part 2

So my wife and I had a chance for a nice date night recently, and we went out with friends of ours to go see the latest in the Twilight series, Breaking Dawn Part 2.  We caught it at the Hollywood Palms theater in Naperville, IL, which I highly recommend as a pretty cool place to catch a flick.  One of the actors from the film, Peter Facinelli (aka Carlisle Cullen), was in the house signing autographs and taking pictures with fans for $20 (something that theater does often, they had Tom "Draco Malfoy" Felton there for the premiere of the final Harry Potter movie).  Our friend Laine took a picture with him, but I chose to pass on shelling out the $20 for that.

Anyways, the Twilight saga has finally come to an end, so on with my review.

The Twilight Saga:  Breaking Dawn Part 2.  2012, rated PG-13.  My rating:  7.5 out of 10.

Just like I said in my review of Breaking Dawn Part 1(scroll down after the review of Mission Impossible 4), the film here feels like half of a movie.  Part 1 was the love story aspect of the book adaptation, and this one was the more fast-paced action half of the book.  Back is all of the cast from the prior films with their wooden acting skills still in place.

The film picks up right where the prior left off, with Kristen Stewart's Bella now a vampire.  The director attempts to show us how she perceives things now by showing a lot of extreme detail zoom shots, so we know just how more advanced her senses are now.  It gets old pretty quick, but thankfully it also gets abandoned pretty rapidly as well.  Also annoying in the early part of the film is the awful CGI for the half human half vampire child Renesmee (and for the record that name is stupid).  Because her character is growing up at a hyper-accelerated rate (and has a mental development well past where she should for her age), it doesn't make sense to use a series of real babies, but I honestly wish they had, or at least spent a few more bucks on the effects because the CGI is really horrible.  Every time that baby was on the screen it just pulled me right out of the scene.

Read the rest of the review after the jump --->

Friday, November 16, 2012

POS - Post election wrapup

So the election has come and gone and we've all had a little bit of time to reflect on the outcomes in all of the races, both locally and nationally.  I wanted to put my thoughts to the page as to how I feel about the outcome of all of the races, so here is my 2012 election wrapup, in nice and easy bullet points format.

Presidential race thoughts:

  • So Obama won, and won big (at least in the electoral college).  As I said on my election night mini-post, I predicted he would win all of the swing states except for North Carolina and Virginia.  I was right with the exception of Virginia.
  • That's my 2nd accurate prediction with the presidential race this year.  Back in the winter I predicted Romney would be the GOP nominee before the South Carolina primary even occurred.
  • I'm not too surprised with the outcome of the election.  Romney was a terrible candidate for the GOP.  Plenty of better options stayed on the sidelines, instead setting their sights on 2016.  Instead they nominated a man who couldn't release his tax returns because they'd reveal something damaging, he couldn't run on his record as a governor because it was too liberal for his base, his flip-flops on positions wrecked the public's trust, and he got killed running on his business cred because of how Bain Capital destroyed a lot of companies.  Not a smart choice by the GOP really.
  • This election will really go down in history as a missed opportunity for the GOP.  With 4 more years, Obama has a chance to cement his legacy, and by the time 2016 rolls around, Obamacare will be set in stone and extremely difficult for the GOP to repeal.
  • Speaking of 2016, and the future, the GOP really needs to work on expanding their party.  Obama killed Romney among Asians, Hispanics, and African-Americans, by wider margins than any other Democratic candidate in history.  As America heads towards majority minority within a generation, if the GOP doesn't find a way to reach those groups, they will be demographically irrelevant within 30 years.  They're also going to need to find a way to reach out to the youth demographic, but unfortunately as long as they continue to be hard line on gay marriage, they will probably struggle with the under 30 vote.
  • The above is especially true among Hispanics.  Less than 20 years ago, New Mexico, Nevada, and Colorado were red states.  Now they tend to go blue, thanks in part to their growing Latino populations.  If the GOP doesn't do a better job with Hispanics, they stand to eventually lose Arizona and Texas as well.  And once they lose Texas, they can kiss their chances at the White House goodbye, thanks to the Electoral College math.  Maybe they might change their minds about their opposition to the Electoral College after all?
  • Man this was a fun week for schadenfreude.  There was Donald Trump's Twitter meltdown/call for revolution (link below in the misc items section), Karl Rove denying reality on Fox News on election night, Ann Coulter all despondent on the radio, Dick Morris' downfall after his extremely inaccurate election prediction of a Romney landslide, and this Tumblr - probably the funniest thing I've seen in awhile.
  • On the local radio here in Chicago, they were interviewing a man from Ohio about why he voted for Obama.  He explained that he was a laid off manufacturing employee and he stated he lost his job because he and his company "got Bain'd" when his company was bought out and his job shipped to China.  I fully support the term "got Bain'd" entering the lexicon.  It was little things like that that helped lead to Romney's defeat.
After the jump - my thoughts on Congress/Senate races as well as the major referendums on ballots across the country.  Read on!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

POS - Funny secession rebuttal

So secession has been in the news lately, with upset red staters calling for the union to dissolve because they are pissy that Obama won reelection.  I was emailed this funny rebuttal by my dad and wanted to share it with you because I thought this was too good not to share.  Enjoy!


Dear Red States:

We're pissed at your attitudes and politics and we've decided we're leaving.

We in the Blue States intend to form our own country . 

In case you aren't aware that includes California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Iowa, and the rest of the Northeast.

We believe this split will be beneficial to the nation and especially to the people of the new country of The Enlightened States of America (E.S.A).

To sum up briefly:
-You get Texas, Oklahoma and all the slave states.
-We get stem cell research and the best beaches.
-We get Andrew Cuomo and Elizabeth Warren. You get Bobby Jindal and Todd Akin.
-We get the Statue of Liberty. You get OpryLand.
-We get Intel, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, & Google. You get WorldCom.
-We get Harvard. You get Ole' Miss.
-We get 85 percent of America's venture capital and entrepreneurs. You get Alabama.
-We get two-thirds of the tax revenue. You get to make the red states pay their fair share.
-Since our aggregate divorce rate is 22 percent lower than your Christian Coalition's, we get a bunch of happy families. You get a bunch of single moms.

With the Blue States in hand we will have firm control of 80% of the country's fresh water, 92% of the nation's fresh fruit, 95% of America's quality wines (you can serve French wines at state dinners) 90% of all cheese, 90 percent of the high tech industry, most of the US low sulphur coal, all living redwoods, sequoias and condors, all the Ivy and Seven Sister schools plus Stanford, Michigan, Cal Tech and MIT.

With the Red States you will have to cope with 88% of all obese Americans and their projected health care costs, 92% of all US mosquitoes, nearly 100% of the tornadoes, 90% of the hurricanes, 99% of all Southern Baptists, virtually 100% of all televangelists, Rush Limbaugh, Bob Jones University, Clemson and the University of Georgia.

We get Hollywood and Yosemite, thank you.

We're taking the good weed too. You can have that crap they grow in Mexico.

Sincerely,

The Blue Wall

Yeah, this about sums up the brainpower behind the calls to secede.

 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

PCP on DVD - Tower Heist

Sometimes when you throw together a cast with a bunch of talented actors, you get a great film.  Sometimes you don't.  Tower Heist is unfortunately part of the latter category.

Tower Heist - 2011, rated PG-13.  My rating:  6 out of 10.

Eddie Murphy and Ben Stiller lead an all-star comedic cast in this heist tale.  Stiller and his fellow coworkers at a New York luxury high-rise have had their pension funds wiped out by one of the tower tenants, Alan Alda, in his Ponzi scheme.  So, Stiller and his coworkers lead a con to try to steal back any money that Alda has stashed away in his apartment in the tower.

The film is rather formulaic and dull, despite the presence of so many great people in the cast.  Stiller's straight man is rather boring, I think I like him better when he is playing over the top characters instead of the straight man in the comedy.  Eddie Murphy is probably the highlight of the cast, returning to his 1980s form with a character that seems straight out of Trading Places.  It's nice to see him back at his old form again, as opposed to some of the crappier roles he's taken lately.  But all in all though, the film was only okay, it is nothing particularly spectacular, and it was a relative disappointment given the cast.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

PCP on DVD - Contraband

Mark Wahlberg is often typecast as a tough guy anti-hero (The Italian Job, Shooter, Four Brothers, just to name a few examples), and he regularly stays inside that role.  When he does go outside the typecasting, he can turn in an amazing performance (Boogie Nights, The Fighter, The Departed), but it seems he goes back to the well of his usual type of role on a regular basis.  Contraband is one of those films where he goes back to his typecast role.

Contraband - 2012, rated R.  My rating:  6 out of 10.
There's not a whole lot of depth to the story in Contraband.  Mark Wahlberg is an ex-smuggler who is pulled back into the life in order to save his family.  The film is pretty light on action for the first half of the film, unlike how it is depicted in the trailers.  The second half of the film is where things really start to pick up, but by then I'd unfortunately lost most of my interest in the film.

The good thing in the film is seeing how Wahlberg pulls off the smuggling.  Similar to his role in The Italian Job he uses a lot of sleight of hand and deception to pull off his smuggling.  The reveal doesn't come until the end, but when it does come the payoff is nice.  There's also a few plot twists along the way that keep the film from being too straightforward and obvious, but they aren't particularly shocking twists and in fact you can see them coming a mile away.

All in all, if you are a fan of Wahlberg's movies, you'll probably like this one.  If you don't see this, then you aren't really missing much.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

POS - 4 more years!

It's 845 PM Central time on election day.  As of right now the polling is incredibly close in most of the swing states, but Fox News has called WI and PA for Obama, and he's leading pretty well in Ohio as well.  I really don't see any way in which Romney pulls off an upset here.  Even though we will be waiting on Florida for awhile, currently separated by about 2,000 votes out of 6 million cast, I feel pretty confident that this election will be going to Obama & the Dems are going to retain the Senate, while the GOP keeps the house.  For swing state predictions - Obama is going to pick up all but Virginia and North Carolina.  That's just my gut feeling.

Now the GOP has no one to blame but themselves.  They nominated a guy that flip-flops like crazy.  Had they had a competent nominee, perhaps they could have won.  They're going to have to do some soul searching now, the question is will they work across the aisle or will they dig in their heels and be even more obstinate?  I guess we'll find out as they address the fiscal cliff coming at the end of this year.

I am glad that Obama will win, and I hope this is not a premature celebration, but WOOOHOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!

POS - Go Vote!

If you haven't voted early, go vote today!  I'm sure you all know where I stand and who I'm planning on voting for (not that my vote matters thanks to the electoral college, as I complained about in this post earlier) but whether you agree with my political views or not, still go vote.  Voting is a great responsibility and a great right that so many around the world do not get to enjoy, so go make sure you enjoy that privilege!

Friday, November 2, 2012

FML - 15 days until 5k!

So my wife and I have been running for about 10 weeks now, and are registered for our first 5k on 11/17.  In our training for the 5k, we have both finally been able to successfully complete one (albeit on a treadmill) at a pace that we were comfortable at (about 15 minutes to a mile).  Unfortunately, that is slow as all heck, so we have two weeks to step up our pace a little bit so our time isn't completely laughable. 

The Couch to 5k app that we used to start our program was definitely very helpful in slowly but steadily building up our endurance, and I do recommend it.  Now if anyone has any suggestions for building up our speed without completely killing our endurance, I would appreciate the tips! 

Ultimately, my own goals for running are to increase my speed to a 12 minute mile for the short term, so when we do 5Ks in the spring we can break the 36 minute mark, then to eventually get down to around a 10 minute mile.  I know I can eventually meet that pace, because back in high school running 3 miles in 30 minutes was a prerequisite to be a defenseman on the lacrosse team (midfielders had to do it in 25).  Also, we plan on competing in the Big 10K next summer, a 10K sponsored by the Big Ten conference where you run representing your school.  After the 10Ks the next goal is to maybe get up to a half marathon.  I'm not sure if I want to take it that far though, or if my knees can handle it either.  We'll see!

The one nice thing is that when we run outdoors with the jogging stroller we can at least keep our son with us so it is some nice family time.  Unfortunately it is getting a bit too cold to consistently do that.  Thankfully, our gym has on site daycare so we can just drop him off there and run.

Michigan football + zombies = win?

So I wrote a post for MGoBlog.com that I'm going to link to here, as opposed to recreating the whole post.  It compares the opponents Michigan faced/will face this season to the zombies from the videogame Left 4 Dead 2.  If you are interested in a little zombie horror/football crossover action, I recommend you check it out!  Enjoy!
http://mgoblog.com/diaries/2012-football-schedule-redone-l4d2-zombies

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

PCP - I Finally Watched The Thing

Thanks for dropping by CRAPOLA for another hit of PCP.  I'm now 20% complete on my list of 15 movies I was embarrassed to have never seen.  John Carpenter's The Thing was the film that inspired my post in the first place, so I'm glad to say I was finally able to watch it.  I had seen the recent prequel first (review in this post here) but had never seen the original film.  I've now seen the original and I am glad that I did.  As with any review of an older film (this one is 30 years old) there will be some minor spoilers in my review.  So, in honor of today being Halloween, I give you my review of The Thing.

The Thing - 1982, rated R.  109 minutes.  Starring:  Kurt Russell, Wilford "Diabeetus" Brimley, & Keith David.  Directed by John Carpenter.  My rating at the end of the post.

The Thing is considered by many to be a horror classic.  It is the story of an outpost in Antarctica that has been infiltrated by a shapeshifting alien.  The alien is able to infect others and assume their form, so a lot of the horror and tension is in trying to figure out who is still human and who has been taken over.

John Carpenter is a master of horror films (he also directed the original Halloween, among others) and The Thing definitely stands heads and shoulders above the majority of his film work.  The tension is so thick it can be cut with a knife, and the suspense will leave you on the edge of your seat.  He does a great job with the limitations of the special effects of the 1980s as well, having some horrors happen off screen or in shadow so they are more in your imagination than on the screen, which can often be far more powerful and terrifying.

Read the rest of the review after the jump -->

Thursday, October 25, 2012

PCP on TV - Making another DVR cut

Just like I took an axe to the Mob Doctor from my DVR, I have made a second cut of a show from my schedule.  The CW's Beauty and the Beast is no longer getting recorded.  I had been meh on the show from the start, and only was planning on watching it because my wife seemed interested.  It turns out she wasn't as interested as I thought, so we have cut the show from our DVR.  Based on the reviews it's been getting from professional critics, I'm sure I did the right thing.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

PCP on DVD - A Dangerous Method

My wife and I are both psychology majors, so films that have anything to do with psychology are especially interesting to us.  In some cases, we watch those films to laugh at just how poorly they portray psychology or psychotherapy.  In the case of this movie, it was to learn a bit about the roots of modern psychology, as the main characters in this film were the pioneers of psychology - Jung & Freud.

A Dangerous Method - 2011, rated R.  My rating:  8 out of 10.

A Dangerous Method was a fascinating look at the origins of modern psychotherapy and the rivalry between Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) and Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen), the fathers of the science.  It also revolves around their interactions with a patient turned mistress turned colleague Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley), also a real person.  This biopic was extremely well acted and very interesting, at least to a person who has studied psychology.  I have a feeling that for those that have no interest in the history of the science, this film will bore them to tears.  Aside from the great acting on the screen, there isn't a whole lot happening in this film.  Considering the science was known at the time as "the talking cure," it is no surprise that this film is all dialogue, the occasional sex scene, and not much else.  It was a fascinating film though on a subject that I have an interest in, so I did like the movie.  If you're not into psychology or history however, you can probably take a pass on this film.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

PCP on DVD - Shame

Sometimes I want to see a film to see just what all of the fuss is about.  Shame is one of those movies. 

Shame - 2011, rated NC-17.  My rating:  9 out of 10.

Shame received a lot of controversy when it was released as an NC-17 film last year.  It is the story of a sex addict played by Michael Fassbender and his codependent sister played by Carey Mulligan.  It is a harsh look at what the reality is of sex addiction; it is not the fun thing that people imagine it to be but instead it actually sucks.  The film is stark and blunt, as well as graphic.  Definitely earns its NC-17 a few moments into the film when we see plenty of full frontal from Fassbender (which resulted in plenty of jokes at award ceremonies from the likes of George Clooney), and later in the film plenty of sex and drugs as well.

The performances from Fassbender and Mulligan are terrific and powerful.  Their performances are some of the best I've ever seen committed to film.  Fassbender's increasing slide from functionality is very well portrayed, and Mulligan's core sadness is deeply moving and heartbreaking.  The film was snubbed by the Oscars, but it raked in a number of other awards from various organizations that are well deserved.

All in all this is a powerful, haunting film that I am glad I watched.  However, it is not the type of film you can watch more than once.  It is a great example of what sex addiction is really like however, so from a psychology standpoint the film makes a powerful teaching example.  If you see this film, prepare for your night to be rather ruined though, as it is bleak and haunting and it is a bit of a buzzkill.  Films that deal with subject matter as dark as this though do tend to be a bit of a downer.  It's still a great film though, and as I said the acting is outstanding, some of the most fearless performances that I have ever seen.

Monday, October 15, 2012

POS - My stance on gay marriage

I'm really tired of gay marriage being an issue in this country.  We seriously have so many far more important things to focus on right now with this country, things that will have ramifications for generations such as the economy, healthcare, the environment, or many other subjects.  Gay marriage should be so far down on our nation's list of priorities, but it seems like it keeps coming back up in election after election.

Here is my stance on gay marriage:  Who cares?

Seriously, if two consenting adults that love each other want to make a commitment to each other, why is it my business or anyone else's business that they want to do so?  I find it a little ironic that the political party most opposed to the institution of gay marriage, the GOP, also advocates shrinking the size and scope of the government.  Yet they want to keep the scope of the government large enough to be involved in the bedrooms of consenting adults.  Seems a little bit hypocritical to me.

But anyways, I am not opposed to gay marriage for one simple reason - I am opposed to all forms of discrimination.  I myself am a part of a heterosexual interracial marriage, a marriage that would have been illegal in some parts of the U.S. less than half a century ago.  Who am I to deny the right to marry to someone else? A right that I wouldn't have had if I had been born a half century earlier instead of the 1980s.

But wait, what about the sanctity of marriage?  Gay marriage will ruin that!  My response to that:  bullcrap.  You know what has ruined the sanctity of marriage?  No-fault divorces, shortlived celebrity marriages (Kim Kardashian's 72 days, Britney Spears' 55 hours, I'm looking at you!), and drive-through wedding chapels in places like Las Vegas.  Seriously, if you can get married without getting out of your car, then the sanctity of marriage was already irrevocably damaged long before homosexuals began being allowed to marry in some states.

There is absolutely no reason why homosexuals should continue to be denied the exact same rights as heterosexuals, such as the tax breaks for married couples, visitation rights in hospitals when your partner is dying, and countless more things that gay couples are denied now.  The Declaration of Independence calls for us to have the inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  Any law restricts someone's pursuit of happiness is in violation of the core ideals of our nation.  That is why the anti-gay marriage lobby is pushing for a Constitutional Amendment to ban gay marriage.  It is because deep down they know that bans on gay marriage are unconstitutional, and the Supreme Court will rule that if they ever decide to take up a gay marriage case (which some day they will).

Also, think of the economic boom if gays are allowed to marry.  You just know their weddings will be fabulous!  Think of the economic stimulus!  Legalizing gay marriages will be a direct shot in the arm to the economy, yet another reason in this crappy economy to go ahead and legalize them now.

Bottom line, there is absolutely no reason that two consenting adults shouldn't be allowed to marry.  The state governments should be issuing them marriage licenses just like two heterosexual people can receive now.  If religions don't want to perform the ceremonies, then fine, they can have a civil ceremony or have their ceremony performed by a friend of theirs.  It's not like you can't become an ordained minister online anyways.  I just want this to become legalized so it will go away and stop being a political issue, so we can get back to focusing on what really matters in this country.

Friday, October 12, 2012

PCP - Top 50 films of the 90s?

So the good folks at the A.V. Club (avclub.com) have compiled a list of what they feel the best 50 films of the 90s are.  It can be found in 3 parts with descriptions and breakdowns of the films at these links:  50-31; 30-11; 10-1

Unless you want to read their analysis (which I do recommend) if you don't follow those links, here's their Top 50:

50.  Dead Man     49.  American Movie     48.  Ed Wood     47.  Starship Troopers     46.  Heavenly Creatures     45.  The Limey     44.  Metropolitan     43.  Terminator 2:  Judgment Day     42.  All About My Mother (Todo Sobre Mi Madre)     41.  Raise the Red Lantern     40.  Trainspotting     39.  The Blair Witch Project     38.  Fast, Cheap, & Out of Control     37.  Glengarry Glen Ross     36.  L.A. Confidential     35.  Naked     34.  Seven     33.  The Matrix     32.  Close-Up     31.  Paradise Lost:  The Child Murders at Robin Hills     30.  The Thin Red Line     29.  Irma Vep     28.  Election     27.  Short Cuts     26.  Eyes Wide Shut     25.  Fight Club     24.  Crumb     23.  Carlito’s Way     22.  The Sweet Hereafter     21.  Fargo     20.  Red     19.  Exotica     18.  Schindler’s List     17.  Safe     16.  The Big Lebowski     15.  Groundhog Day     14.  Hoop Dreams     13.  Boogie Nights     12.  Miller’s Crossing     11.  Barton Fink     10.  Being John Malkovich     9.  Rushmore     8.  Unforgiven     7.  Reservoir Dogs     6.  Out of Sight     5.  Chungking Express     4.  Dazed & Confused     3.  Toy Story 2     2.  Pulp Fiction     1.  Goodfellas

The list has a bunch of documentaries on it and some foreign films, but there were also some notable films that I can't believe they left out of the list.  I have no clue how they neglected to include these 10 films:
Saving Private Ryan, The Usual Suspects, The Silence of the Lambs, The Shawshank Redemption, Apollo 13, Braveheart, Good Will Hunting, American Beauty, The Sixth Sense, and A Few Good Men.  As far as I am concerned, their list is complete BS without several of these films, but most especially The Shawshank Redemption, Braveheart, & Saving Private Ryan.  What do you think?  Are there other films that you think they dropped the ball on by omitting from the list?  Are there any others from the 90s that I forgot in my 10 additions?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

PCP on TV - Made in Jersey is cancelled

I hope anyone isn't saddened by this news.  CBS's Made in Jersey gets the dubious honor of being the first show in the 2012-2013 TV season to get the axe from a network, as per an announcement from CBS today.  I don't watch the show so I don't have to cut it from my DVR (as you'd know if you read my fall TV preview) and based on it's extremely low ratings, no one else was watching it either.  And the Friday shows for the CW hadn't even made their debuts yet.  CBS decided to pull this one before the CW had its premieres and started beating it in the ratings apparently.   For more on the cancellation click here.

PCP on the Page - The Gods of Gotham

The Gods of Gotham is another book I picked up on a whim from my local library.  What caught my attention was the quote on the cover from an author I like, Michael Connelly, so I decided to give the book a shot.

The Gods of Gotham is set in the early 1840s in New York City, a time of incredible social pressure and massive unrest in the city.  Think the time period of the opening of the flick Gangs of New York, where there is massive violence and rage between the nativist Protestants and the newly arrived Irish Catholics that bubbles from time to time into all-out open warfare.  A new police force has just been founded, and the protagonist of the book, Timothy Wilde, is a member of the newly formed "copper stars." 

Wilde is investigating a series of murders of young children that has ties to the massive immigration of recent Irish to the city during the 1840s Potato Famine.  He's a noble hero and a pretty good cop considering he's just been on the job for a few weeks. 

For a relatively new author (GoG is only the 2nd novel from author Lyndsay Faye, she doesn't even have her own Wikipedia page yet) the book is actually incredibly well written, and it has the potential to be the start of a new series.  It is extremely well researched, especially the language and customs of the 1840s, and the book does an incredible job of transporting you back 170 years in time.  I don't want to spoil the twists and turns the book takes since it is a mystery novel, but I do encourage you to check this one out.  It is a pretty good book and I look forward to reading more from Lyndsay Faye in the future.  She's definitely an author I'll have to keep tabs on, I'll probably have to add her to my favorite authors list.  If you've read the book, let me know what you think in the comments!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

PCP on TV - My First DVR Casualty of the Fall

As you may know if you read my fall TV preview, my wife and I watch a lot of TV, and we added 9 new shows to the DVR for this television season.  Well, we are making the first cut from those shows.  Fox's The Mob Doctor is getting whacked from my DVR.  I said on my preview post that I was only "meh" on this show.  I only gave it a shot because I liked the cast, a lot.  As much as I like the actors involved in this show though, I feel that the show has come to the emergency room dead on arrival.  It seems that I'm not the only one that thinks this about the show, as it is not doing well in the ratings.  Don't be surprised if this doesn't get renewed, right now it is pulling well below Alcatraz and Terra Nova were last year.  I've decided to be preemptive and just cut it from my DVR now, so I can spend more time watching shows and movies that I actually enjoy.

As to the other new shows, I'm still waiting on the premieres of 3 of them (Nashville and Arrow debut 10/10, Beauty & the Beast 10/11), but of the ones I've seen, I'm enjoying them so far.  666 Park Avenue has potential but is struggling a bit in the ratings, so we'll see how that goes.  Elementary is pretty good so far.  Go On and Guys with Kids have me laughing quite a bit (and Go On already had its first season extended to a full season order, so NBC seems to be happy with that one).  Dallas doesn't return until January.

I'll do more posts on the fall TV season as it continues on, but thanks for dropping by today.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

POS - Expel the Electoral College

As I mentioned in my last political post, I had a rant coming to the blog about the Electoral College.  For all the things I find aggravating about our political system here in the States, I think the thing I hate the most is the electoral college.  It is an extremely archaic, outdated method of determining the Presidency.  It was developed over 200 years ago during the formation of the Constitution, in an era when rapidly tabulating an accurate vote count for the Presidency and then conveying that information to the officials of our nation was an extremely laborious and time consuming process.  It was also added in as an additional way for keeping the vote out of the hands that didn't deserve it, i.e. the people, and instead keeping control more tightly in the hands of the selected few.  Also, the solution of the Electoral Compromise was a way of getting around the issue of slavery and voting in the South when it came to having a direct vote by the people.

The effect of the Electoral College is very similar to the way that U.S. Senators were elected until the government realized that it was a stupid idea for electing Senators (appointment by your state's congress) in 1913, when the government passed the 17th Amendment to the Constitution, allowing for direct election of Senators.

Read the rest after the jump -->

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

PCP on the Page - My favorite authors

As I mentioned back in my review for 2312, I have a core set of current authors that I read every book they publish, or every book in a particular series.  If I find something particularly good or something I want to talk about in one of their books, I'll do a post on the book, like I did for the Game of Thrones series (technically called "A Song of Ice and Fire" but thanks to the show now better known as Game of Thrones) by George R.R. Martin.  These are those authors, in alphabetical order by last name:

  • David Baldacci
  • Richard Castle (Yes I know this is a fictional character and a product of the marketing department over at ABC but the books are a fun continuation of the TV show)
  • Tom Clancy
  • Clive Cussler
  • Christopher Farnsworth
  • Vince Flynn
  • John Grisham
  • Chuck Hogan
  • Stephen King
  • George R.R. Martin
  • James Patterson
  • James Rollins
  • John Sandford
  • Harry Turtledove
There may be others that I am forgetting at the moment, but those are the ones that come to mind that I read the most regularly.  Do you guys have any suggestions for me for other authors or books you think I'd enjoy?  Let me know in the comments!

Monday, September 24, 2012

18 years ago today, my trek to Michigan fandom began

Growing up, I was not a Michigan fan.  I lived in the Chicago suburbs, and I had two favorite college teams:  The University of Colorado for football and The University of North Carolina for basketball.  I rooted for Colorado because they were my mom's alma mater, while I rooted for UNC because that was where Michael Jordan went, and when you're a kid from Chicago, that's the only reason you need.

The first time I ever watched a Michigan game that I remember was the 1993 basketball championship game, because Michigan was playing UNC.  At the time, I was obviously pleased with the outcome of that game.

My life changed dramatically the weekend of September 24th, 1994, when I was 12 years old.  The 25th was the day that my dad remarried.  Since my stepmom and her family was from Michigan, we all gathered around the television to watch Michigan play Colorado on the 24th.  The room's members consisted entirely of Michigan alums and/or season ticketholders  with the exception of myself and my dad - my stepmom to be, my stepsister to be, my stepsister's then boyfriend now husband, my stepmom's best friend & husband, and other various relatives and friends from Michigan.

Me being the obnoxious 12 year old that I was, I was rooting on Colorado partly out of loyalty to my mom's alma mater and partly out of wanting to be the contrarian in the room.  So when Kordell Stewart heaved a prayer at the buzzer, I went bananas when it connected and proceeded to rub it in everyone's faces the entire rest of the evening.

My new stepfamily realized they didn't want to have someone taunting them every time Michigan suffered a loss in the future, so they promptly began my indoctrination into all things Michigan the following season.  I was brought to Ann Arbor for the first of many games before I got to college.  It was the 1995 game vs Minnesota where UM won by 35 points.  I got to experience tailgating on the Golf Course before and after the game, as well as dinner at Good Time Charley's, on top of my first time inside the Big House.  Going to a game annually in Ann Arbor became a tradition, as did going to the games in Chicago every time UM came to play Northwestern.

Once I was in high school and had to start applying to colleges, Michigan was at the top of my list of preferred destinations.  I got in to Michigan as well as my safety school of Illinois and Michigan was my clear favorite between the two.  My dad, knowing the massive out of state tuition bill that would be coming compared to IL (at the time almost a 90k difference for 4 years), tried to bribe me into going to U of I instead by offering me a new car.

My dad only offered me a new Saturn.  As I already was driving a gently used Camry, I turned him down unless he was willing to escalate his offer to a BMW 3 series or a Honda S2000.  He declined that, so I was Ann Arbor bound in the fall of 2000.

I've been bleeding Maize & Blue for 17 years now, and I now look forward to indoctrinating my children in all things U of M.  The nice thing is I'll be able to get my kids pro-Michigan from birth, as opposed to their teenage years, so they won't have any years missing from their lives as Michigan fans.

Thanks for reading, I just wanted to share as today is the anniversary of a lifechanging day for me.  Not as lifechanging as my wedding anniversary a week ago, but it is the anniversary of an event that steered me on the course towards meeting my wife nonetheless.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

FML - I'm a running dad now


Jackson all decked out to run
 So I've gained some weight recently, and I'm clocking in at 229 pounds.  This isn't my peak weight, which was a fat 255 lbs, but it's a far cry from my college best of 197.  So, my wife and I have decided to bite the bullet and start running since that seems to work so well for so many friends of ours.  We got a jogging stroller from my sister who has done the Chicago Marathon, so we are equipped to bring Jackson with us when we go out.  Considering we haven't exercised in quite awhile because I'm a lazy oaf, we decided to do a path to running that a few of my friends have chosen - the couch to 5k app.  The goal of the app is to build you up from being a couch potato to being able to do a 5k in about 8 weeks.  In the first week it starts you out by having you alternate 1 minute of running with 1.5 minutes of walking.  Week 2 has increases to 1.5 min of running and 2 min of walking.  In week 3, which we are on now, it jumps to 3 minute bursts of running.  By week 8 you're running for extremely long stretches of time (for me at least) - 30 minutes straight.

I'm curious to see how my body will hold up to this. I have bad knees, but so far they've been handling this okay.  I'm also wondering how much weight I will lose.  My goal is to lose 10% of my body weight by the end of the year, bringing me down to 207 pounds, but I am not certain what my ultimate final goal will be.  All I know is that I used to have to run for punishment or conditioning in the sports I did in high school, football and lacrosse, so running has never been something I've particularly enjoyed.  I've never gotten the "runner's high" so I wonder if I'll ever hit that in my lifetime.  I'm looking forward to taking this journey though, and hopefully competing in a 5k around Thanksgiving this year.  Wish me luck!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Happy Anniversary to my amazing wife!

So today, September 18, 2012, is my 8th wedding anniversary to my incredible wife.  I still can't believe how fast the time has flown by.  We've been together overall for 11 years now, and we have a 9 month old son as of his 3/4th birthday tomorrow, but sometimes it still feels like we just got married last week.

Anybody that knows my wife and I know two things:
1.  They are not surprised that she was late to our weddings, both the original on 9/18/04 and our renewal of vows on 9/25/05.
2.  They are probably surprised that we are still together, especially people that knew us 8 years ago.  Heck, even I wasn't sure we would make it when we got married, and I know she wasn't 100% sure either.  I'm curious how many people were betting against our success.

But we did manage to make it, putting in all of the hard work to make our marriage better and stronger, improving our communication and conflict resolution skills, & taking our time to build a very strong foundation for the future before we introduced children into our relationship dynamics.  As a child of divorce myself, I knew I never wanted to bring any kids into an unstable relationship and subject them to what I went through.  Now that we're in the family phase of our relationship, I'm excited and curious to see where our relationship journey goes from here.  All I know is that I know I will enjoy the ride, and I will continue to love my wife more and more each day.  Happy Anniversary sweetheart!  To many more!



Monday, September 17, 2012

Blog schedule update (again)

Grad school has now started for me and I have classes two nights a week.  Thus, I am unable to devote as much time to the blog as normal.  Good news, I have enough posts already written to sustain the blog through the end of the year.  Bad news, posts are usually only going to be once a week starting this week (not including this post).  From now until mid-December when my classes end check back here every Wednesday for new content guaranteed, and every now and then I might do a bonus post here or there if I have the time.  Thanks for your patience with me, I hope you've been enjoying the blog so far since the redesign earlier this summer!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

PCP - I Finally Watched Seven Samurai

Here at CRAPOLA, all the way back in February I wrote about the 15 movies I'm ashamed that I've never seen and now I'm finally able to cross a second film off the list.  I'm obviously off my hoped pace of watching all 15 films within a year, as it is September and I'm only crossing off a second one from the list, but life happens.

Only 6 could fit on the poster apparently

Seven Samurai is considered to be a classic of cinema, and is on many all time top 10 or top 25 lists of films.  Based on that alone, I had bought the film, but never had the time to watch it until recently.  And it takes a lot of time to watch the film, as the Criterion Collection version I have clocks in at 3 hours and 27 minutes.  It even has an intermission built right in to the movie, but thanks to being able to pause the movie whenever I want, that wasn't so much of an issue.  The film does drag a bit with its enormous length, but the characters are compelling enough to keep one interested.

Originally released in 1954, the epic samurai story from legendary director Akira Kurosawa tells the story of a village that knows that bandits will be returning in the fall to raid the village and steal their harvest.  Tired of this happening year after year, the villagers decide to hire warriors to protect them when the bandits return.

Continue reading for more including my rating of the film after the jump --->

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

POS - My reaction to the GOP platform

Ok so the GOP convention just happened and during the convention they released their official party platform of their goals for the country if they are to win the Presidency plus any Congressional/Senate/local elections.  The reaction in the news was swift, with many calling it the most conservative platform the GOP has ever run on.  I decided to read the thing for myself and see what it says, and if there are any good ideas in it or not. A PDF file of the full platform can be found here, it's 62 pages in full, and I present it to you in case you want to see it as I'll be quoting from it for my post today.  In some cases I'll quote the direct text, and in some cases I'll paraphrase.  When I cite the page number, I'm referring to page # x out of 62 of the PDF file, which doesn't match up to the actual page since the first 7 or so pages are not part of the official numbered system the file uses (you'll see what I mean if you open the PDF). 

This post is going to focus on some of the specific goals and policies the GOP plans to pursue and my reaction to them.  Some of the things they mention I liked.  Some I laughed out loud at, because of their foolishness.  Let me know in the comments your thoughts.

One quick thing - for a party so concerned that Muslims are going to come to the country and impose Sharia law, they sure do invoke God a lot.  Kind of makes it hard for Atheists to support them, or non-Christians for that matter.

Ok, now on to the dissection of the platform - follow after the jump for my thoughts section by section.  Apologies in advance for the length of this post, but I feel this election is extremely important to the future direction of our country and I feel an examination of the platforms of both parties (I'll do this for the Dems too) is very critical so you and I know what we're voting for this November.  I'm only going to go over what I feel are the most important issues for the election, otherwise this blog post would turn out as long as the platform itself, and I am not about to write 62 pages.

Monday, September 10, 2012

PCP on DVD - My Week with Marilyn

Michelle Williams has turned in some incredible performances during her career, picking up three Oscar nominations including one for My Week with Marilyn (she also won the Golden Globe for this same performance).  She is definitely one of the most talented people in Hollywood today.  Because of that, I was excited to check this film on DVD to see how she did.  I was not disappointed.

My Week with Marilyn - 2011, rated R.  My rating:  8 out of 10.

Marilyn Monroe continues to fascinate the world 50 years after her untimely death.  This movie was not a traditional biopic in the sense that it didn't cover the entirety of Marilyn's life.  Instead, it focuses on the production of her film The Prince & the Showgirl, from the point of view of a production assistant named Colin Clark.  The picture showcases Marilyn's desperation and struggles with her international fame, as well as the chaotic production of the film.  It is extremely moving as well as a sad commentary on the nature of celebrity and stardom.

Michelle Williams absolutely knocks it out of the park in this performance.  She channels Monroe so effectively that you forget that you are not watching Monroe in the flesh.  It really is an uncanny performance and definitely deserving of all of the high praise and awards she received for the role.  She nails the onscreen persona of Marilyn, as well as the person Marilyn was off the camera was as well, and when she transitions between the two personas it is quite amazing to watch.  Clearly, Michelle Williams is a master at the craft of acting.  If her and Heath Ledger's daughter inherited their combined talents, that girl is going to be the best actress of all time.  In the meantime, if you are a fan of Marilyn Monroe or Michelle Williams, definitely check out My Week with Marilyn, you won't be disappointed.

Friday, September 7, 2012

PCP on DVD - Safe House

Denzel Washington is one of my favorite actors.  I'll watch anything he is in.  Same with Ryan Reynolds.  Put the two of them in the same movie?  Of course I'm there!

Safe House - 2012, rated R.  My rating:  7 out of 10.

Safe House is a twisty spy flick starring Denzel as a rogue former CIA agent, and Ryan Reynolds, the young CIA agent tasked with watching over him after his capture by a CIA team.  It is a film in the Jason Bourne school of realism, with no CGI or wirework that I could detect during its awesome fight and shootout sequences.  The car chases are pretty good too, though not as frequent as the pretty solid fight scenes. 

The film also has undertones of government overreach that have been done in countless films before this.  One interesting thing about the plot was that in a waterboarding sequence in the film, Denzel apparently got waterboarded for real, so his reactions to that torture are quite authentic.  Talk about method acting!  Also, despite the fact that you spend most if not all of the film looking for a twist, it still catches you off guard a bit anyways, so that was well done.  All in all, the film is a decent spy movie.  It's not the worst one I've ever seen, but it's not the best either.  If you like Denzel and Ryan Reynolds though, check this one out, there's enough here to make it worth your time.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

PCP on TV - Fall 2012 TV What's on my DVR

Hello everyone and welcome back to CRAPOLA.  Today in PCP I'll be talking about the upcoming fall TV season, and what shows from it look interesting to me.  Just like last year, I'll be talking today about what new shows I'm adding to my DVR, what shows return, and what shows got dropped off of my viewing schedule.  Due to the challenges of balancing work, graduate school, and an infant - my wife and I try to keep a limit on the number of shows we record, as in the past we used to record well over 25-30 shows a year. This allows us to not have too many shows turn in to an enormous backlog of stuff to watch.  And thanks to the joys of DVR (and the fact that some of them are 30 minute sitcoms), my wife and I can watch these 20 shows in far less than 20 hours a week, which enables us to still have a life outside of watching TV and movies all the time.  Anyways, here's my thoughts on what's on my DVR this fall.

New to my DVR this fall:  9 shows (in alphabetical order)


Arrow - The CW is bringing another show to market based on a DC universe comics character, this time retooling the character of Green Arrow to make him darker and grittier, like the recent Dark Knight version of Batman.  It is not a Smallville spinoff, but the network is hoping the show will be just as successful.  I'm looking forward to it as the character is not one that I am too familiar with from comics, as I've always been more of a Marvel than DC guy, so I get to go in to this show with next to no preexisting preferences about the character.  Series premiere is on October 10 on the CW.

Beauty & the Beast - All I know about this show is 4 things:  1.  It is a remake of the 80s TV series, not the Disney movie.  2.  The beast has facial scarring, not a hairy face.  3.  It stars Smallville star Kristin Kreuk.  4.  My wife wants to watch this more than I do.  Hopefully it isn't a waste of time.  Series premiere is on October 11 on the CW.

Dallas - Technically this show already had its first season during this summer, so it was not on my fall 2011 post, but it will be returning in January with more episodes.  This continuation of the original nighttime soap classic is actually rather entertaining.  The younger characters are not as strong as the veteran actors, but as long as the show keeps having the great Larry Hagman as J.R. Ewing, the best TV villain ever, I'll keep watching this show just to see what he schemes next.  Series is on TNT, exact return date in January TBD.


Elementary - Another take on the character of Sherlock Holmes, this time updated into the modern era and with Watson played by Lucy Liu.  Simply based on her casting alone I'm guessing Watson isn't going to be a pushover or comic relief but instead a butt-kicker, which is what I want to see because she's great in that role.  Johnny Lee Miller stars as Holmes.  I'm looking forward to this one as I always enjoy a good mystery/crime show (but I doubt this'll be better than my favorite current one, Castle).  Series premiere September 27 on CBS.

There's more new shows as well as the returning favorites after the jump -->


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

PCP on DVD - Jack & Jill

Some movies I know are going to be awful before I watch them.  I either watch them because I'm curious to see just how bad they are going to be, because my wife wants to watch them, or because I want to rip them in my review.  Jack & Jill was the movie that was all of the above.

Jack & Jill - 2011, rated PG.  My rating: 3 out of 10. 

There is a reason this film won 10 of the 12 Razzie Awards it was nominated for, it was just that bad.  Filled with extremely annoying characters, incessant and irritating product placement, and just a general migraine-inducing script, this film is pretty awful.  It is easily the worst film of Adam Sandler's career.  I don't even feel like the guy is trying anymore.  Each movie he releases is progressively worse than the prior one.  It makes me afraid to watch "That's My Boy" when that one comes out on DVD. 

The film stars Adam Sandler as both a guy and his extremely obnoxious twin sister.  She is so completely grating and annoying that she has to be one of the worst characters ever committed to celluloid. About the only redeeming feature of the film is that at its heart it is trying to be a touching story about appreciating your family for who they are, a few laughs sprinkled in but not many, and also from a seriously dedicated and shameless performance from Al Pacino (sidenote - why Al why?  You're better than this movie!)  but the film can be summed up by a line near the ending from Pacino when he tells the male version of Sandler to destroy every copy of some certain footage.  That probably would have been good idea for this film before it ever hit theaters.  It's not the worst movie I've ever seen, but it's easily the worst I've seen in a year or so.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

FML - Make my kid a Gerber baby!

So Gerber is running a contest to find new baby models, and I think my adorable son has a chance.  Voting is now through 9/21, so follow this link to go vote.  You can only vote once per day per facebook account.  Please also get your friends to vote as well!  My son is in the Sitter category (they have 6 different categories of children) and you can only vote one child per category, so if you have friends with kids in other categories that's fine, but make sure you vote for Jackson for Sitter! 

I mean come on, look how cute he is!  Now go vote!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Happy 100th Birthday Max Dickerman!

So today, September 3rd, 2012 my step-grandfather Max (Mac) Dickerman turns a whopping 100.  That is so incredibly awesome!  To put that in to a bit of perspective, it's time for me to whip out my history teacher hat.  Here's a bit of what has happened since he was born: 
  • He has lived through 25 presidential elections (this November will be # 26).
  • When he was born, William Taft was our nation's 27th president.  Currently, Obama is our 44th.
  • He's lived through 2 World Wars, the Cold War, and the U.S.'s wars in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq twice.  Not to mention all the other little conflicts where our soldiers have been deployed.
  • When he was born, he was one of about 1.65 billion people on the planet.  Now he's one of over 7 billion.
  • In the U.S. there was about 96 million people when he was born, now there are over 314 million Americans.
  • He saw the Soviet Union both form and cease to exist (1922-1991).
  • 132 new nations have joined the maps of the globe (most had been former colonies or territories held by other nations) by gaining their independence.
  • The 16th through 27th Amendments to the Constitution were enacted, including the following changes:  direct election of Senators, prohibition of alcohol as well as its repeal, two-term limit for Presidents, lowering of the voting age to 18, women getting the right to vote, poll taxes become outlawed, and the federal government being able to collect an income tax.
  • The year he was born saw the U.S. go from 46 to 48 states with the addition of New Mexico and Arizona to the union.  He went almost half of his life (47 years) before the U.S. had 50 states with the additions of Alaska and Hawaii in 1959.
  • He was almost 8 years old when the U.S. heard it's first radio news broadcast (8/31/1920).  He was 15 when the television as we know it was invented by Philo Farnsworth in 1927, but he would have to wait until after World War 2 for the invention to really catch on.
  • He was 65 years old when Apple began selling its Apple II home computers, just in time for his retirement, but he would be 81 before the first web browser, Mosiac, would be released, allowing access to the world wide web.
  • He has seen the betamax, VHS videocassette, laserdisc, HDDVD, tape cassette, 8-track, compact disc, record player and both 5 1/4" and 3 1/2" floppy disks all come and go.
  • He was 60 when the first videogame, Pong, was released, so he's seen the creation (and/or implosion) of every videogame company.
  • The Ford Model T had only been on the roads for four years at the time he was born.
Obviously this list only scratches the surface of all the amazing changes that my grandfather has witnessed in his life.  He's an awesome man that I love very much, and today I salute him.  Happy Birthday Mac!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

FML - Let the indoctrination begin


Already practicing the arm raise for "Hail"
in Hail to the Victors
 So today Michigan kicks off its 2012 college football season versus Alabama.  I've already started priming my son Jackson for loving all things Michigan.  It started in the womb, with my playing "Hail to the Victors" on my iPod and holding the speaker up to my wife's belly.  After his birth, he had a mobile over his crib that played "Hail to the Victors" instead of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" as his lullaby.  We brought him to Ann Arbor for the first time this past May on Memorial Day weekend.  He also has a Michigan hat and a pair of Michigan onesies that we love dressing him in (as you can see, to the left).

Tonight Michigan plays Alabama in a game that Michigan is expected by many (unfortunately including myself) to lose, as the spread is 12.5 points.  Win or lose though, this will be the first of every Michigan game that Jackson watches with me, so I am excited for kickoff to happen.  I'll actually be in Michigan today (though not at the game, they're playing in Dallas) so it'll be great to watch the game in the state where I met Jackson's mom.  I'm looking forward to watching games with my son for the rest of my life, so today a new Saturday tradition is born.  Obviously, he's not going to fully understand what is going on just yet, that will come in time, but the tradition stars now nonetheless.  Now, only 18 years until he goes to Michigan as a freshman!