Sunday, January 27, 2013

Pain Don't Hurt

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,

Fun little weekend with the ladyfriend Dizzy, after a long week at work (and next week is going to be HELLA longer), yesterday we went to Fort Point at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge for some Civil War Reenactment. Yup... that's how awesome we are. While there, we did some nice hiking around the beautiful coastline, wandered through the giant hundred-plus year old Fort Point, with volunteers in full regalia. We also asked the volunteers about the reported ghosts in the area... and who was eavesdropping... but a man who runs ghost tours of Pennhurt Penitentary in New Jersey (as seen on EVERYTHING ghost related). "That's cool, we'll have to hit you up if we're in the area. What's your name?" "Just call me Juice." Dig it. Here are some pictures...

This week, I caught a few flicks too. First up was "Ted" starring Marky Mark, Mila Kunis & the voice talents of producer/director Seth MacFarlane. It's the story of  a boy (Wahlberg) who makes a wish as a child for a friend... and of course, Christmas miracle, a teddy bear comes to life & becomes his best friend. The switch is... now it's 25 years later... and the talking bear Ted is still his best friend... and they're both kind of lazy drunken sh*ts... but some how he's got a superhot successful girlfriend (Kunis) but hey, hilarity ensues. I'd say check it out if you're into dirty R-rated humor... but if not, pass.

Next up was "The Descent: Part 2", the obligatory sequel to the successful (and very well done) horror flick "The Descent." In the original, six adventurer ladies go spelunking in the Appalachian mountains... and discover a subterranean race of humans perfectly adapted to the cave dwellings... but are more animal than human now & go on to devour them... spoiler alert, one woman makes it out alive at the end of the first. The sequel picks up from there... she's in a hospital & (of course) can't remember what happened or where the others are (really?). Well, one of the girl's was a senator's daughter or something... so they make her help them to go back into the caves to find her... and yeah, you can kind of guess where it goes from there. It was okay as far as unnecessary sequels go... but yeah, not nearly as well done as the original.

Next up was another obligatory sequel to a rather well done horror flick called "Quarantine 2." Where the original was basically one of those Blair Witch found footage single camera movies about an apartment building being quarantined with a zombie virus, this one was your standard told movie story about a plane (with really hot stewardesses) where one guy gets sick, another guy brings hamsters onto the plane... and the hamsters bit somebody and then there's just a bunch of vomiting & death... this one is really bad... don't even check it out. See the original only.

Thursday night I watched "Double Dare" which is a documentary about stuntwomen starring Jeannie Epper ("Wonder Woman" TV series) and the great Zoe Bell ("Xena", "Kill Bill" & star of "Death Proof"). Basically it talks about the history of stuntwomen... and basically just how badass they are... and chronicles their struggles & follows the path of how the incredible Zoe Bell even has trouble finding work... through the audition process, overcoming injuries, incredible physical conditioning, etc. It's a great documentary if that kind of stuff interests you... and being a bit of a moviefile it certainly did for me. Check it out!

Last night, Dizzy & I watched "Road House" starring Patrick Swayze & Kelly Lynch... while also listening to Adam Carolla's basic cable commentary. Now, I had never seen this movie before... I know, gasp of disbelief. I had seen bits & pieces on TV here & there... but yeah, never watched the whole thing. I just knew the references about ripping out a guy's throat, the tai chi on the beach shot & stupid sh*t like that. Well, it's even more ridiculous than that... but yeah, it's about a bouncer named Dalton (Swayze) who's the best in the business (and they'll never let you forget it) and he's hired by a guy to clean up a bar called the Double Deuce in Jasper, Missouri. Apparently the city is ran by a super corrupt business man... and for some reason, there's nobody that any of the good 90% of the city can turn to... except Dalton... and his fellow bouncer buddy Warren (Sam Elliott). There's a superhot doctor (Lynch) interested in the lead... and there's fight scenes... about a thousand knife wielding rednecks... horrible dialogue... poor plot development... but yeah, it's one of those guilty pleasure movies for sure. I don't mean to rag it that bad... I mean... I love Pootie Tang, how credible of a source does that make me? Anyway, check it out... with friends... and be prepared to laugh at inappropriate times.

That should do it for today. Only a few more days until I go to New Orleans... and I might be able to update before then... but if not... I'll see you after Valentine's Day! Have a great day everybody!!!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Bacon Day II: Pork Harder

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
Yes, there was another Bacon Day... as this one was in honor of Sir Francis Bacon, philosopher & pioneer of the institution of the scientific method into everyday society. He was briefly mentioned... until the real star of the show arrived. No... no no... not me this time... but rather the guest of honor... Bacon.
I'd like to take a moment to thank Dizzy for helping me to prepare most of the food (really I just fried sh*t & bought the pig ass to fry) and all of our guests for bringing their goodies as well. Please enjoy... Le Bacon de la Boosh!


Bacon Bomb weave...
filled with italian sausage, cheese & bacon bits...

Wrapped like a baby Jesus... Babe Jesus?

Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno poppers

Most of the assorted goodies...
poppers, double bacon pizzas, brownies, cupcakes,
cheesecakes, bacon wrapped sausages, and of course...
THE BOMB (not pictured, probably not ready yet)

So yes... it was a great evening with friends as we caught up since... well, pretty much the last Bacon day. Anyway, just thought I'd share those pics with you... real entry coming soon. Have a great day everybody!!!

P.S. Guess who already did his taxes & is going to see the Niners in New Orleans in two weeks.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Tapes or DVDs?

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
I hope that you all enjoyed (what you could see) of my first issue storyboard of “RoboPanda vs Zombie Dinosaurs” and don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll all be HUGE fans by the time that the real drawings come through… and I’m thinking that by Christmas 2015 your children will be BEGGING for the new array of toys, videos & bedding sets… but please keep in mind that you can’t put a price on your children’s happiness… and the proceeds go to a worthwhile cause… my retirement fund. Thank you! From the bottom of my heart, thank you!
Anyway, back in the present, spent most of the weekend not being sick… but not really exerting myself because the flu is going around & I wasn’t feeling it Friday night after work… which is really disappointing because I missed out on a party for some coworkers that are moving on to other careers. I really wanted to wish them well… but also didn’t want to get anybody sick. Congratulations you two!!! Other than that, I spent the weekend with Dizzy watching football, ironing out details for the comic book, planning the menu for Bacon Day: Part Deux next weekend & just enjoying each other. We also met up with some of her work friends for some drinks at Chevy’s to celebrate a 25th birthday. Good times were had. I’m sure that all interests you… but I also watched some movies… so here are some reviews.
As you know, I have a soft spot for bad movies. I enjoy watching them sometimes… and I’m always curious about movies that critics completely pan even before seeing them (including myself). So Thursday night, I was going through the movie channels the last few days that I’m going to have TV… and I stumbled upon “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance” starring Nicolas Cage. It’s the sequel to the Marvel Comics adaptation of “Ghost Rider” and you may recall it from an early Nicolas Cage update that it had so much going for it in the way of bad movies.
1) It was the sequel to a not-so-good original movie
2) Nicolas Cage desperately needs money… and his recent choices in acting gigs has confirmed it
3) Directed by the team Nevaldine & Taylor who brought you the likes of “Jonah Hex” & both “Crank” movies
4) Originally, the storyline was going to be Ghost Rider vs. Dracula… but that changed
5) Christopher Lambert (“Highlander”) made a cameo
The story goes that there is a mother & child being pursued by the Devil (Ciaran Hinds) and his henchmen (AJ from “Empire Records” no joke) and only the Rider (Cage) can protect them. Why are they being pursued? Well, as he put it in the movie “You’re the Devil’s baby mama…” and the story kinda goes from there. There are a LOT of scenes were it’s a mix of CGI transformations, Nic’s bad end of the “crazy-conflicted” spectrum & the usual death metal score that you get from the Nevaldine-Taylor combo. Now, based on the source material, the movie wasn’t absolutely horrible. The Ghost Rider story is very difficult to tell without a whole lot of CGI & questionable motivation and character development (see “Spawn”) but I wouldn’t really recommend this movie to anybody. Sorry Nic. I wish that I could help with your financial woes… but hey, maybe when RoboPanda takes off I can get you a gig as a voiceover to help.
Next up was the Syfy Channel’s “12 Disasters of Christmas” which stars… well, nobody. I think some of them were on WB series but… yeah, I didn’t really recognize anybody. Anyway, it’s set in small town Oregon I think… and there’s a family (conveniently named Joe, Mary, Peter & Jacey… yes, the daughter is Jacey as in JC, wait for it). There are some strange occurrences going on with birds dying, the water turning red, unusually warm weather, and then giant icicles falling from the sky & impaling people in the streets. Global warming? Possibly… no wait, WRONG! It’s the Mayan Prophecy coming true! By the way, did you know that the Mayans invented the song “12 Days of Christmas” and passed it along through the generations & all kinds of languages as a WARNING of the 12 disasters that would destroy the world? Oh it’s documented… the crazy old guy Frank had a whole wall chart made up connecting it… and there is a lineage of protectors that are direct descendants of Mayans (though now some of the whitest people you’ve ever seen thanks to cross-breeding) and they have to find five golden rings that will help save the world (or at least this small town in Oregon) from destruction by Mother Nature. I assume by calling forth Captain Planet and his magical mullet… but I don’t want to give away the surprise ending. Like most Syfy movies, it’s pretty horrible… but if you’re watching in a group, it’s descent to make fun of. Otherwise, forget that it even exists. Big thanks to The Soup for letting me know of this show’s existence.
Saturday night was actually a surprise. Dizzy & I watched “VHS” which is about a group of misfits who videotape their shenanigans (and crimes) to sell to voyeurs in that black market. Well, one of them hires them to break into a house to steal a particular video from the owners… but when they get to the house, there’s a bunch of them, so they have to cycles through them to find the right one… and what they find is a bunch of twisted sh*t. That’s the story… and basically, the movie is a collection of six horror movie concepts by various directors in the “found footage” genre that really would have been a MAJOR stretch for their own full-length feature… so they combine their 15-20 minute shorts into one film. What I was surprised about this movie… is how genuinely creepy some of them were on a shoe string budget. I was expecting it to be pretty cheesy… and I’ll admit, some of the acting was very questionable… but each story had it’s own redeeming quality & were very interesting ideas… except maybe the main story, but even that had it’s moments were it could’ve worked really well. Anyway, without giving too much away, I would say to check it out & judge for yourself. As a horror fan, I give it two thumbs up… and be warned, there is some gore… but overall, it’s a very decent flick. Check it out! It’s on Netflix!
Lastly was a documentary entitled “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” about Jiro, the world’s premiere 3-Michelin star sushi chef who has been doing the job that he loves for over 70 years. The camera crew follows him through his daily routine, other chefs at his restaurant, his family, his friends, food critics, etc. & paints a portrait of this intriguing man. To boil it down, Jiro is a perfectionist who loves sushi. Every waking moment he’s honing his skills to make perfect sushi… and as the title would imply, even during his non-waking moments, he’s dreaming of it. He accepts nothing but the best in every stage of preparation. He only buys fish from masters of their respective crafts (tuna, shrimp, octopus, etc). His chefs are meticulously trained for decades before he’ll allow them to prepare sushi for his guests (a ten-seat restaurant). Even his sons have been learning from him for over 40 years (youngest went off to start his own sushi restaurant & oldest is waiting for Jiro to retire to take head spot). Is it the borderline-obsessive goal of his entire life? Yeah, pretty much… but you be the judge. The man loves what he does. He’s focused on becoming the master of his craft & to push it to the next level… every day… for over 70 years. Some may say it’s crazy. Perhaps those people are not perfectionists & have not found the Passion that he has. I’d recommend checking out this documentary. It’s very interesting… but be warned… you’ll want to go have sushi during & afterwards… so you may want to watch on a full stomach.
It may also make you wonder about your own situation. For example, I’ve been in an industry for over 12 years now. I’ve essentially mastered my specific craft (hence why I can do so many jobs for the pay of one) but have I been “pushing” the craft forward? There have been instances where I’ll see procedures & improve upon them… share ideas with my colleagues with different sets of circumstances for their office… but am I constantly looking forward at the next step? Or have I grown complacent with my position because it’s easier than looking on to the next step, which would require sacrifices? Is this what I want to do for 70+ years (shiver) or until retirement age anyway? Is it my Passion? Is the fact that I’m even asking these questions convincing proof that it is not? Is there something different out there for me? That I would be more passionate about? Or am I just too level headed to put my all into something & widen my range of talents to be a Jack of all trades kind of person?
The saying goes that if you Love what you do, then you’ll never work a day in your life… or something like that… and there’s a few ways of looking at it. Does that mean that you have to find something that you Love to do? Or is it just on you to Love whatever it is that you’re doing? In either case, I guess the saying still holds true… but let’s face it, most of us would probably find it easier to Love being a movie star than a coal miner. Or I guess in a real world sense, let’s say you enjoy being physically fit… and your current job as a construction worker helps you to do that (as long as you don’t get a hernia). Do you just learn to Love being a construction worker? Study in the evenings & work your way to foreman & push your craft? Or do you study to become a personal trainer so you get that same benefit that you’re looking for, but it’s more recreational & you’re basically the master of your own unique craft?
Now, I’m sure you know by now that I tend to think too much for my own good & ramble incessantly… and of course not everybody’s priorities are the same. Some are focused on raising their children, making money any way possible, just getting by & getting high, cross things off their bucket list, seeing the world, continuing the family legacy, whatever it may be… not becoming yokozuna or a legend of the wood carving community or any other master of their given craft… and that’s perfectly fine. However, I do feel that life needs a little direction with goals to continue to grow & thrive. With that being said, that’s another reason why I’m REALLY excited about this new venture with this comic. I’m not an expert by any means… I’ve read a few back in my childhood… I’ve seen a lot of TV shows & movies… read about other people’s characters basically… but I’m not an artist. I have no official training in storyboarding, plotting, structure, or really ANYTHING related to drawing. Yeah, I won a few Reflections contests back in 2nd & 3rd grade… but yeah, that was drawing dinosaurs & weird alien creatures… in the 3rd grade. So how is this going to work? I’m going to research, study, practice, calibrate, collaborate, peat, re-research, re-study, re-practice, re-calibrate & collaborate some more… and of course, repeat. Am I going to have all the skills? Probably not… but if I surround myself in the right people, use what I’ve learned, along with my own ingenuity & spin on things, then I’ll probably be off to a good start. Anyway, that’s the plan… for now. It’ll definitely change… but I can keep you posted…
I’ll also try to figure out how to get REAL pictures on Blogger again. Apparently the “new & improved” version really isn’t improved… but I’m sure it works for them. Have a great day everybody!!!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

RoboPanda - Issue One (Rough draft)

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,

Well, I've been working as usual... and in the evenings, I've been playing video games with the bro via the interwebs... and working on getting that money MONEY!!! So I thought I'd share with you a little more on my idea thus far... RoboPanda vs Zombie Dinosaurs. The details are obviously still being ironed out obviously... but I'm well on my way. I have the basic concept & story idea, main characters, driving stories, conflicts, settings, etc. Now it's a matter of execution & working out the rough parts.

Basically it's set in the not-so-distant future Shanghai... a few years after a major Earth "Event" that sends a mild shifting in the electromagnetic whatever that has a few startling effects. Humans went crazy... animals get smarter & started to talk... and dinosaurs came back to life as zombies. Why dinosaurs? That secret will be revealed later on... and no, it's not like f**king "Lost" where I just all of a sudden realized that no ending would really work & so just ended the show with more questions than anything... but you need some intrigue, right? I mean... it's random... dinosaurs have been gone for MILLIONS of years... why not people or dogs or other dead animals? Surprises abound. That's all I have to say.

Anyway, the main character is Kong, a panda who has had a rough go since "the Event" and therefore has a robotic left eye & right arm. Yes, because of technology downloaded in "the cloud" the smarter animals have access to all the future knowledge & technologies of humans. Nice, right? Not that it really helps them with zombie dinosaurs, volcanic activity, freaky weather, and all of that seriously affecting infrastructure... but some of the animals find sanctuary in the Pudong New Area of Shanghai, sealing part of it off with a giant wall of rubble & such... and have watches to protect from the outside... and you know, it's your typical zombie survival kind of story from there... but it's going to be awesome.

With that little bit of backstory in mind, I thought I would share a special treat for both of you actually reading this... the storyboard for the first issue of this epic saga. Now, I know that you're not going to be able to read my chicken scratch very well... and I have the artistic talent of a 3rd grader... but hopefully this teases you just a bit... and you get to see some of the action that going to go down when a real artist (Dizzy) puts her skills to it. Also, these pages from my journal that are really I think 4" x 6" & divided into eight frames... so I'm not working with epic scale here. Anyway... ENJOY!!!

If you have any questions, please feel free to drop me a line... and in the meantime, GO NINERS!!! Have a great weekend everybody!!!

P.S. The pictures are grainy as hell because Blogger is "new & improved" so isn't uploading pictures properly... because that's technology. Blame them... :)

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Konichiwa 2013

Good Morning Ladies & Gentlemen,

It has been a busy first few days to the calendar year... but somehow I make it work, of course. Still catching up a little bit from my vacation to Utah, both at work & a few things around the house... but at a good pace... and just in time for work to get super busy again for about the next... 10.5 months solid. Nothing really too exciting the past week other than some great college football... and a few movie reviews that I'd like to share with you.

First up is "Chernobyl Diaries" which is a horror flick from some of the makers of "Paranormal Activity." This particular installment was... well, it had great potential. It's the story of some American backpackers going across Europe... then they meet up with one of their brothers in Ukraine, who has this wonderful idea of urban spelunking a city that was evacuated during the Chernobyl nuclear disaster (on my 5th birthday BTW). Well, they decide to do it... and then they find out why it was evacuated. Dun dun duuuuuh... Like I said, it's a pretty good creepy premise... and the location was incredible, a real abandoned city from the disaster & some underground bunkers... but the execution was mostly irritating more than anything. The whole movie was shot using a standing camera that was kind of like the huge craze of found footage (started with "Blair Witch Project" & now used incessantly) but mixed with other shots & it just really wasn't well done... and of course there's the usual bad acting & stupid moves by people in situations... and yeah, just not good horror timing or anything either. Just not a great experience. I wouldn't recommend it... but I totally wanna go urban spelunking now.

Next up was "Silent House" which is from the directors who brought you "Open Water" and it's basically a horror flick that was shot in one continuous shot... for about 88 minutes. That's basically starting with a crane shot, coming down to the actors, following them through the entire movie (sometimes too close but hey, given the quarters they were in...), getting the right camera angles, no errors in the (pretty standard) dialogue, and not turning the camera off ONCE for 88 minutes. It's a pretty remarkable feat... and I'll say it... they did a FANTASTIC job. Oh, the story is about a girl, her dad & her uncle restoring an old home by the lake... and then the sun starts going down... and then they realize that they're not alone in the house... they may have squatters... or something worse. I'd recommend checking it out... if not just for the fact that it's done in one shot. I'm a huge fan of long continuous shots whether it's Brian DePalma's movies, the seven-minute fight sequence in "The Protector" or some filmmakers that just have horrible editing skills... but it's intriguing from a film making standpoint.

Next up was "The Raid: Redemption" which is a Korean film about a squadron of police officers that are leading an assault on a fortified stronghold of an apartment building that houses the baddest baddie in the city & most of his minions. Now... there's a lot to be said for action movies that just get to the action... and keep it going. The movie starts with them in the SWAT van getting briefed. Not filling in the whole back story of each character & all that stuff. One guy has a pregnant wife... that's all that's mentioned... and then, it's game time. There's not a whole lot of detail given about where they're going, who they are, why they're attacking now as opposed to later, it's all waiting to be told throughout the rest of the movie between action sequences full of fist fights, explosions & plenty of caps being popped. I really enjoyed this movie... even with subtitles.

Later on in the week was "The Campaign" starring Will Ferrell & Zach Galafinakis. This comedy was about an idiotic arrogant incumbent North Carolina congressman (Ferrell) who's getting some surprise competition from a simple-minded small town tourism board employee (Galafinakis) whose father happens to be hella rich & therefore powerful in the Republican Party. Throw in some not-so-subtle Koch brother inspirations (played by the amazing pair of John Lithgow & Dan Aykroyd) and you've got a spoof on all things politics. It was okay... but yeah, a little too real to life to be hilarious. Will Ferrell is funny even when he's trying to be serious so... he's got that going for him... but yeah, probably won't watch it a second time... but good for a first watch, then decide for yourself.

Lastly today... is basically one of the best movies that I've seen in a long time... and yes, already frontrunner for $tevie of 2013 (though Quentin is still mad at me for not having it going against Batman for 2012's award last week) with "Django Unchained" starring Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio, Christoph Waltz, Kerry Washington & Samuel L. Jackson among others. The story is about a slave named Django (Foxx) who becomes the protege of a bounty hunter (Waltz). After becoming a pair of lucrative bounty hunters, Django decides that it's time to find his wife (Washington) who was sold separately from him & get her back. They find out that she's in Mississippi at a plantation owner by a Monsieur Candie (DiCaprio). Now, I will warn you upfront that this movie is rated R. There are plenty of N & F words, violent blood-splosions with nearly ever of the many shot fired, and even things like threatened castration, bludgeoning & packs of wild dogs... however, if you're not squeamish (mostly implied violence anyway with squishy noises, if Dizzy can do it, you can do it, trust me) then it's actually fantastic filmmaking that keeps a good pace, is visually stunning, intriguing & just a lot of fun of fans of other Tarantino films, spaghetti westerns, blaxploitation era films & just great performances from just about everybody in the film. You even get cameos from guys like Don Johnson, Tom Wopat, James Remar (in two roles), Jonah Hill, Bruce Dern (for about five seconds), Tom Savini, Michael Parks & Tarantino himself (of course). GO SEE THIS MOVIE!!!

Anyway, that'll probably do it for today. I've got some NFL playoffs to watch. Have a great weekend everybody!!!

Where Should I Go Next?