May 7th, 2013
So I had a doctor’s appointment last week and as part of it I needed blood work done. So a week before that I I went to the phlebotomist. I was really sick two days before with a 24-48 hour something that made my legs hurt and caused my ribs to feel like the muscle was pulling away any time I laughed or coughed. I’m supposed to fast (at least 8 hours) before a blood work but my sickness made it so I had not eaten for about 40 hours.
At the office I was taken into a patient room by a nurse. The nurse asked the phlebotomist “where’s the written S.O.P.?” which I can only assume means something close to “Standard Operating Procedure.” The phlebotomist answered, “we don’t have a written one, it’s only online.” “Oh,” replied the nurse, “because that one’s down.” In mock horror I said “so you don’t know what to do?” And the phlebotomist dryly answered “yes, we’ve forgotten how to draw blood,” as she jabbed me in the inner elbow joint with a needle.
Except she couldn’t draw any blood.
From the initial entry point she slowly pulled the needle out and pushed it back in and then rotated the syringe about 45 degrees either way for a total 90 degree arc. Now those blood drawing needles aren’t short and while it didn’t hurt, the sight of the needle moving around in such a wide arc was freaking me out! That initial attempt failed and eventually she took blood from my forearm with a slightly wider needle that was connected to a long tube like an IV and left a large unsightly bruise on my forearm.
May 5th, 2013
So third superhero movies generally aren’t very good. Just look at Blade 3, X3, Spider-Man 3, Batman Forever or Superman 3 (alternately Superman Returns is also a Superman 3.) Dark Knight Rises was acceptable and possibly the exception. Iron Man 3 isn’t. Iron Man 3 is on par with X3 which I seem to remember having the “it’s better than it has any right to be” feeling when I saw it but in the long run really didn’t care for it. So what’s wrong with Iron Man 3? It’s very poorly plotted. That’s really it. Downey Jr. does an excellent job, as does Paltrow, Kingsley, Cheadle and Pearce. And the action scenes are fun but kinda stupid. But they’re comic book action scenes so they get a pass (?)
The movie is set shortly after The Avengers and Tony is suffering from anxiety over the events of that movie. He’s not sleeping and having panic attacks. He’s also invented armor that he can summon with his mind via a computer chip imbedded in his arm. There is and old flame of Tony’s, Maya, who had invented a bio-restorative formula (don’t go near the swamp!) There is a terrorist, the Mandarin, who is blowing up places but nobody knows how. And there is Pepper’s old friend Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) who wants her to join his think tank. All these stories get tied together in an interesting, if a bit forced, little package.
Tony is attacked by the Mandarin and presumed dead and Tony is fine with that because he needs to do some soul searching. Similar to Thor, there is a big middle section where Tony is out of the armor hanging out in a small town. He meets this kid who we’re supposed to sympathize with but it’s not quite there. His is the only performance that I had issues with. Part of me also feels I’m getting tired of Downey Jr.’s portrayal of Stark. It’s not bad by any means but this is the fourth time he’s played this part (sixth if you count Holmes) and Tony’s ego-centric jerk may be wearing thin.
Plot-wise, I had issues with Maya’s motivation at various points. I still don’t understand why she had the change of heart at the end — it was almost Captain Kirk-like, how Tony just had to speak to her and she had a change of heart. Extremis is also very ambiguous. Under what seems to be the same conditions, sometimes you blow up and sometimes you don’t. Some things can kill you, like bullets and getting shot through the heart with repulsors but not falling hundreds of feet or being trapped inside an exploding suit of armor. Killian’s role had some good points but some really stupid ones as well. I mean, you capture the President and you’re going to burn him on an oil rig because he gave a pass to the company that caused an oil spill. And you’re going to burn him in heat resistant War Machine armor! But the fake Mandarin was an interesting concept, despite being executed more for laughs. I also had problems with Tony’s saving up his 20+ extra suits until the end. His thought controlled suit was experimental and did not have the functionality of a production ready suit. If he had them why not use one instead of the beta-test suit. If he could get a coded message to Pepper he could summon a suit.
Still, I give it a marginal pass and recommend seeing it in theater for the spectacle of it all. It seems geared more for kids who won’t care about any continuity errors and will find Stark’s snarkiness funny and the action enjoyable. Adults? Maybe, maybe not.
April 26th, 2013
Of the hundreds of cool things that happened on Warren Ellis’s The Engine the one that I liked the most was Anthem a random comic no one new about. I saved a copy for me but decided to track it down for my birthday. Take a look.
April 13th, 2013
So I went on-call this week. There are five of us in the rotation so it’s once every 5 or so weeks. On-call is Wednesday-to-Wednesday so we only have one weekend lost (if something bad happens.) There is technically a response time and minimum distance from the city that we should be though when I was being wooed for the job, I was told my then current residence in Des Plaines was fine and that previous employees lived in Chicago and did it. So occasionally I do things that I personally consider outside the scope while on-call.
Wednesday night was Lucy Knisely’s Relish release party at Challengers. I’m a big fan of Lucy’s. She is the reason I read the Twilight books due to her humorous summaries of each novel and relation of how she felt when she read them. Her adaptations of the Harry Potter novels adorn my stairway as well. Relish is about food and her description of Alinea made me want to go there but due to circumstances beyond my control, I still have not (and probably never will.) But she does food really well so I snuck in to see her and get an autograph. I spent more time driving to and from the city than I did at the event but it was well worth it. I did not get called that night.
What I did get was an alarm on my tire saying it was going flat. The next morning it was completely flat. So I brought it in and ended up getting all new tires and a ton of other stuff including a new key. I’d lost it in house about 6 months ago and still haven’t found it. I think I accidentally threw it out but who knows? Maybe I’ll find it someday.
On Thursday former Maron co-worker Hinesh was in town and we got together for drinks at the Schaumburg RAM. It was pointed out that we ONLY drink there but it’s close to where his mom lives which is where he was staying. Other ex-co-workers showed up as well though Vlad couldn’t make it and apparently Ivan never got the message. I’m going to be in the area again next week for training so we may try to do take 2 sans Hinesh. I did not get called while out thought I did get called twice that night.
Friday was another Challengers deal: Ryan Browne’s God Hates Astronauts collection release party. The issue with this one was it was Friday. Drives on Friday are longer and if I was called it could be a long time if I had to drive back (most work is remote and having to go in is extremely rare, but has happened.) I discovered Donovan loves bad movies and may be the only other person who loves the Resident Evil movies including the last one, Retribution. I spent as much time there as I did in total driving so it felt more worth it. I was not called while out but did get called that night.
My car was fixed earlier today (Sat.) and a requirement of the loaner was to fill the tank. I had gotten new gas for the lawnmower and barely used any of it before winter so the loaner got my stale, winter gas. The cooper is now back and I have two keys. The rest of the day has been cleaning and updating the blog and other house-bound things.
April 10th, 2013
Title is a play on my last post (Ebert is Dead).
Last Friday was the Archer, Live! program at the Chicago Theater. For those who don’t know, Archer is an animated tv show on FX about a very competent but kind-of-a-jerk spy, Sterling Archer, who works for his mother’s spy organization. The concept was interesting because it’s rare for voice actors to get together in any capacity. I was surprised the Simpson’s haven’t done it (Simpson’s did it!) apart from an Inside the Actor’s Studio episode. I went with a co-worker but have slowly found that many people I know were in attendance.
The show was a lot of fun and very funny. A large portion of the cast was there. Lucky Yates (Dr. Krieger), Amber Nash (Pam), Chris Parnell (Cyril), Aisha Tyler (Lana), H. Jon Benjamin (Archer) and one of the producers (I think it was Matt Thompson.) Throughout the evening they passed a bottle of Makers Mark around and drank a good portion of it.
They did readings, at least one from each season, and chose an audience members to play a part in most of the scenes. In between scenes they launched t-shirts into the crowd but only the first floor. We received the explanation that they couldn’t fire the shirts into the balcony because someone fell trying to get t-shirts. They showed the bonus features from the dvds, had prototype plushies and answered questions from the crowd.
The plushies were cool because they had a Pam dolphin hand puppet which I thought was the coolest. There was hole where your finger could be the tongue and Amber even did the silhouetted dolphin jump from the title sequence. The plushies were prototypes that Matt was showing to FX a few days later but H. Jon Benjamin threw his (the Archer plushie) into the crowd which really angered Matt. Lucky had to trade a bunch of Krieger Army stickers and pens to get it back only to have H. Jon throw it back repeating the process. They took all the plushies off stage after that.
The Q&A was good with the most shocking one being “How gay is Archer really?” H. Jon’s answer was “Well, Archer was raped the first time and from what I know, that’s how you become gay. So…” and that’s all I remember of his answer. It caused a gasp from the crowd but it was the right crowd and still hella funny.
April 4th, 2013
Roger Ebert passed away today. Similar to how Gene Siskel passed away. He announced a leave of absence vowing a quick return and then died.
As a brief Chicagoan, long time suburban and alum of the University of Illinois, I grew up watching Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert. Sneak Previews, At the Movies, Siskel & Ebert and the post Siskel, Ebert and Roeper. Despite not thinking it would be good I was quite surprised by the recent Ebert Presents at the Movies with Ignaty Vishnavetzky and Christy Lemire. I found myself agreeing with Gene more but could always tell how I would like a movie based on Roger’s review. I was a Tribune reader and so did not read as much of Roger’s reviews until the advent of the internet where Rotten Tomatoes is my current source for movie reviewing and if Ebert reviewed a film I wanted to see I would always read his review first. It seems the last review he did was for The Host, adaptation of the Stephanie Meyer novel. It’s ironic because one of the things he said in his leave of absence notice was “Now I will only have to review the movies I want to.”
Ebert is Dead. Long Live the Ebert.
March 31st, 2013
I’m always surprised when someone who I don’t think knows me knows me. At the Hack/Slash end – Challengers 5th party John (Word Balloon Podcast) Suintress introduced me to his friend Jeff and the fact John knew me threw me off. I knew who he was so it stands to reason but it’s still surprising.
This was making it’s way round the internets last week.
It’s Kimberly Kane as Wonder Woman for an upcoming porn. I know of Kim from the D&D with Pornstars web series and her portrayal of Scully in the XXX-Files porn which was amazing. That costume is unbelievable in how good it is. Various sites showed comparisons to the recent Adrienne Palicki failed pilot costume and it’s just sad how much better this one is.
The second half of Dr. Who season 7 has started up. Clara Oswald is wonderful and cute and spunky but I can only be introduced to her so many times before it becomes tiresome. This was the third time and I think that’s the breaking point.
March 29th, 2013
G.I. Joe: Retaliation is only OK as a film but I’d guess very serviceable to the die hard G.I. Joe fan. There is one decent story which is Storm Shadow’s. He’s just cool. He’s also part of the one fun action scene. There is a wonderful fight on a mountaintop which looks like something out of Cirque du Soliel with Snake Eyes and fellow ninja Jinx fighting bad-guy, red-shirt ninjas. We know what happens to red shirts but it’s exciting and beautiful nonetheless. The rest of the movie is OK. A few emotional moments sandwiched in between action scenes. But the action scenes are well done and except for the mountain scene not overly CGed.
Not really worth seeing unless you’re a Joe fan.
March 23rd, 2013
L to R: Ashley Benson, Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens and Rachel Korine (Dir Harmony Korine’s wife.)
Spring Breakers is a flawed vehicle but might be worth seeing. It’s Girls Gone Wild with some gansta subplots thrown in to give it an actual story. It was interesting to note that Spring Breakers was literally in a theater next to Oz the Great and Powerful both of which have James Franco. And as much as Spring Breakers was marketed as the story of four girls on spring break, it’s more about James Franco’s drug dealing, sometimes rapper, Alien.
Spoiler Alert: I tell the plot of the whole movie.
So the four girls start out somewhere midwesty and Selena (her character’s name is Faith but I’m going to refer to the girls by their real names) is the good one. She’s religious and is part of a church youth group that is led by wrestler Jeff Jarrett (he’s playing a role, not as himself). She’s been friends with Ashley, Rachel and Vanessa her whole life but they’re a bit wilder but all four want to go on spring break. They’ve been saving all year but don’t have any money so the other three rob a diner and they all go to Florida. There they really party it up and for Selena it’s life changing but we see Ashley and Vanessa may have gotten into the robbery bit too much. The girls are arrested and bailed out by Alien and at this point Selena cries and goes home. She’s done for the movie. The other three stay with Alien at his house where he has guns and processes drugs and keeps all his money. He also has a pool with a piano outside and he can play Britney Spears songs. It really doesn’t sound like something you’d want to see, does it?
Anyway Alien has a rival in Archie (Gucci Mane) who feels Alien is encroaching on his territory. So there’s some friction between the two factions. At some point Rachel gets shot in the arm and she cries and goes home. Then Alien, Ashley and Vanessa go to Archie’s compound to kill him but Alien is shot dead immediately and the two girls each with one semi-automatic (and since they’re wearing bikinis have no real place to store extra clip)s somehow kill everyone in Archie’s entourage and Archie without a scratch. They don’t cry but they go home.
Doesn’t it look like Ashley is sticking her finger in Selena’s butt? No, really.
So the story is stupid. But it is executed intriguingly. And it’s because of the characters. (It can’t be because of that story.) That makes it even more amazing because at no point do you really care for anyone except maybe Selena and she’s gone before the movie is even half over. So what’s worth seeing that you wouldn’t see in a Girls Gone Wild vid? Does anyone grow emotionally? I don’t know. There seems to be some form of repentance before each girl returns to school/home. But you don’t really get a solid idea if what. What was the point of Alien? Maybe some form of catalyst for the girl’s discovering something about themselves? I don’t know. I don’t know that anyone does.
In the long run it’s a weak Natural Born Killers disguised in a Girls Gone Wild film. If you like the latter you may come away liking the film. But if you’re not a fan of watching boobs and substance abuse you’ll probably find the whole thing a waste of time.
There is also a question of time. I cannot tell how long the girls stay with Alien after Selena leaves. It seems like a looong time but the whole movie may be the duration of the one week of spring break. Also see how long he takes between cuts. On non-moving camera shots it’s around 5 seconds and no more than 10. Dollying or steadycam shots can go a bit longer.
March 23rd, 2013
Jack the Giant Slayer adapts the fairy tale Jack and the Beanstalk. We all know the story: farmboy duped into selling his cow for magic beans – mayhem ensues. Giants, gold, a golden egg laying goose and a harp. The story here is narrowed in its retelling to focus solely on giants and is expanded in it’s cast to involve a romantic interest for Jack. When Jack is young his father tells him of the legend of the giants and how they were defeated by a magic crown made from a giant’s heart that controls them. At the same time Princess Isabelle is told the same story by her mother. But this was long ago and just a legend to all who contemplate it.
Cut to ten years later and Jack’s father is dead from the plague and Jack (Nicholas Hoult) is a dreamer and a constant disappointment to his uncle who took the boy in. They’re poor and so he has Jack go to market to sell their horse and cart. He happens upon a show retelling the tale of the giants and spots a beautiful girl in the crowd. Some ruffians accost her and he comes to her defense. He is struck down but she is the Princess Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson) and her guard led by Elmont (Ewan McGregor) show up to save the day. Jack’s cart is stolen conveniently leaving him with just a horse. Now Jack runs into a monk. This monk has stolen the magic beans that will give access to the giant’s realm from Roderick (Stanley Tucci). Isabelle is betrothed to Roderick who is a conniver who believes the legends and plans to conquer the world using the giants. The monk gives Jack the beans and steals the horse leaving Jack to return home with nothing. Jack’s uncle now must pawn some of Jack’s parent’s items and leaves.
Isabelle, really not wishing to marry Roderick, flees the castle and just happens upon Jack’s home as it starts to rain. They instantly recognize each other but she plays ignorant as she’s fleeing the kingdom and he follows suit in a very cute scene and maybe the first that has any real feeling. Unfortunately the beans have a different idea and grow taking Jack’s house and Princess Isabelle to the skies. Jack tries to save her but is separated. When he wakes he is found by the King (Ian McShane) and his guard. Jack goes with the rescue team which includes Roderick and Elmond. They go to the giant’s realm and see some embarrassingly computer-generated giants. People are captured betrayed and killed but of course it all ends well and there’s even a setup for a modern day sequel.
Surprisingly, Jack and Elmond have great chemistry. Their relationship is what makes the movie. They start as, not necessarily rivals, but Jack wants to be Elmond and Elmond sees Jack for what he is: a kind, possibly well-intentioned farm boy who probably does not have the skill or mettle to properly aid him. And they both love the princess in their own way and want to protect her in their own way. The interactions of these three are the best parts of the movie. The rest of it is a bit cookie cutter for character archetypes and the overall story is a bit too complicated. It was fun but nothing you need go out of your way to see. Nicholas Hoult’s other film out right now, Warm Bodies, is more worth your time.