April 2011

 movie coverI'd rather be watching TV![IMDB link] [Netflix link] Jesse recommended this, and we watched it in 1080p HD.

UNCOMFORTABLE PLOT SUMMARY (inspired by this): [highlight for spoilers] Husband fails at saving wife from brian tumor.

PEOPLE: From director Darren Aronofsky (Requiem For A Dream, Pi). Starring Hugh Jackman (Wolverine), Rachel Weisz (Evelyn from The Mummy movies, Envy), Ellen Burstyn (Requiem For A Dream, Providence, The Exorcist).

QUIRKS: Reincarnation(?). Brain tumors. Biblical trees. Based on a graphic novel.

VISUALS: An incredibly visual movie at certain points. Aronofsky knows how to make films look neat! I’d call this a visual masterpiece — though it’s not like that 100% of the time, like in fantasy movies or animation. Current day events still look boring — just like current day in real life.

CONCLUSION: This review, while being more passionate than I feel, pretty much describes a lot of my problems with this movie. And more. I probably would like the graphic novel better — but it would be less memorable. He’s taking a lot of flak for it on the IMDB forum where he linked to his post as well.

I already knew that people die, and that it may be better to live life now than trying to avoid death. Live on forever through a tree. Yes, yes. Problem is, I don’t believe in any of that spiritual bullshit. I don’t think you really live forever just because your molecules and atoms will later be in a tree. It’s the type of baseless comfort afforded to the spiritual. Spirituality is swallowed up so rabidly because people are looking for meaning where there actually is none. Which is why the Holy Bible is the most-sold book ever made. But at least the Holy Bible wasn’t deliberately confusing.

Anyway, this movie just came off as trying to have some deep meaning, but ultimately it was only a deep meaning to people who already believe in its message. This movie is also BORING, and quite depressing and tragic at points. If they had stuck to telling the story a bit better, it would have been much more enjoyable.

If I am ever persuaded to watch it again, I might enjoy it more my 2nd time. Or it may just bore the hell out of me. Maybe I should try the director’s downloadable audiocommentary. But it’s doubtful I’d ever go through such a bother again.

There’s certainly a lot of insight at IMDB threads such as this one, but the absolute best is this definitive explanation post. I’ve read it; I get it. I got some of it while I was watching; and I didn’t get other parts. I tend to think the parts that I missed were due to bad storytelling. The main point of the movie would have been supported much more had I understood all the constructs being used. But I still wouldn’t have agreed with it. BUT OH! BOTH POSTS ARE NOW REMOVED! WHY? WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT, IMDB? Did people flag it as spam or abuse because they didn’t like the explanation? Maybe the link moved. Ahh, it moved. Here it is: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0414993/board/nest/164940256

In the end, I just don’t think they were very clear at delivering a message that I don’t agree with in the first place, and were boring to boot. Which means I ultimately did enjoy the experience of watching this movie, because it’s points were completely missed.

I didn’t really catch on to the fact that this movie actually “took place” in the future. Neither of us realized that 2 out of 3 of the stories had “already happened” in a sense. This confusion, among other confusions, just made it harder to digest. It felt like mysticism through obsfucation, even if that may not have been the case. What appeared to be a bubble of spirituality is actually a futuristic spaceship; this is confirmed by the director in downloadable audiocommentary tracks. I personally think if things had been presented in a clearer manner, it would have increased the value of the movie to me.

But since it is so open to interpretation, that does make me feel better about it than I did right after it was over. And it speaks well for the film, even if I didn’t particularly enjoy watching it.

Clint: Netflix: 2/5 stars. IMDB: 6/10. Rated that high due to a +1 visual bonus score, and a +1 open-to-interpretation score. If I had to rate it on my enjoyment, it would be more like 4/10. And I’d almost definitely like it better a 2nd time around — it’s just going to be hard to ever convince myself to do that.

Carolyn: Netflix: 4/5 stars. IMDB: 8/10. She definitely saw a lot more in it than me. But she is also more spiritual than me (like almost everybody).

The native public rating for this movie is Netflix: 2.9/5 stars (but 3.7 for people who “rate like me”), IMDB 7.5/10.

RECOMMENDATION: If you can swallow spiritual bullshit, you’ll love this. In fact, a lot of people really like this, because the majority of people are spiritual — even those who are not in a particular religion. I, however, am not. Someone said this movie was more like a poem, and not everyone goes to the movies looking for poetry.

It might be advisable to read the graphic novel first, honestly. Watching this was a lot like watching Watchmen … Separate plots, excellent cinematography, and lots of confusion. If you can link it all together the first time through, you’ll enjoy this more.

MOVIE QUOTE: “this movie makes donnie darko look like a riddle you find on a popcicle stick after you’ve eaten the popcicle. ” -IMDB user invertedme

“the movie is about a man in the future coming to grips with the loss of his wife in the past”. -director, in graphic novel afterward

FRIENDS’ RATINGS: Christian loved it. Parthena, Glen, and Benj really liked it. Ian liked it. My dad & L Dubs didn’t like it. Metinee hated it.

/yard sale sign/

We were kinda ho-hum about whether it was worth going yard saleing, especially since it keeps raining on Fridays, which always decreases the Saturday turnout. We wouldn’t have gone, but we had a coupon for Jerry’s Subs and wanted to go a 2nd time (11 years near one and we only started going this year). Thus, most of mileage yardsaling didn’t count because it was mileage towards Jerry’s.

We took 20 minutes of yard sale detours (approximately 5.3mi of detour-driving) and only found 1 sale. It had some kick-ass white-but-gothy boots that would have looked good on Carolyn were they not terribly scuffed up and the wrong size. Yard Sale season apparently will not be in full bloom until May…It was not worth going out this time. Better luck next time.

5.3mi @ 18mpg (22hwy/18city for my car, roughly) @ $4/G gas = $1.16 gas money spent, and nothing to show for it.

This has, of course, been added to our yearly-aggregated stats. Here they are so far:

Profit: $100.34
Profit per time: $18/hr/person

Click here for other Yard Sale-related postings. (more…)

So, back in college, I lived in 1044 Pritchard Hall, with Brent I (Mark’s brother), from 1992-1993… And with Arlo G and Patrick I from 1993-1994.

Final Tour of Virginia Tech 199705 by Clint - 62 of 94

Yes, those are Grateful Dead "Dead Bears" around my door.

Final Tour of Virginia Tech 199705 by Clint - 56 of 94

Close-up of Dead Bears.

Now Pritchard Hall is a big dorm. At the time, it was the biggest non-military all-male dorm on the east coast, though it has since had to allow women in. It was big enough that there was actually a courtyard, so that people who lived in the inner loop could get a window. It was called The Pit, and various mischief commenced with it.

20040417 - Blacksburg reunion tour - 100-0078 - dorm - Pritchard

Pretty, pretty big... This is probably 10% of it.

For instance, there was Horn Boy. He would let off his horn…. brooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooowp. Never long enough to get caught. I remember the last day of year one, and someone saying into The Pit, “I’m gonna miss you, horn boy.”

20080329 - Oranjello, the new kitten - 152-5290 - invisible trumpet!

Horn Boy, like the trumpet in this picture, was invisible to onlookers.

Another thing we did was attach my pitch-shifter guitar pedal to Dan C’s P.A., and yell into the pit with pitch-shifted voices. I even heard them telling us once, “Yeah, there’s somebody with a P.A. out there.” Haha.

20070323 - Hanging out at Clint & Carolyn's - 115-1584 - Clint covered in guitars

Guitar equipment for entertainment purposes? We did it way before Guitar Queero...

So, my second year at 1044 Pritchard (1993-1994), we had a new R.A. The R.A. from the first year was pretty cool. But this guy was a total pussy. I mean total. Like, he had trouble talking loud enough that you could even hear him. And he was a Christian. And he was small. And he did not have the personality of someone who would boss people around.

So at some point, we took my speakers, which were pretty large:

20071019 - moving TV across the room with speakers - 140-4051 - speakers lined up lengthwise

The speaker with the stickers on it was probably the one that was used.

And Mohamad O and I blasted the Scooby Doo theme song into the pit. With our lights off.

Final Tour of Virginia Tech 199705 by Clint - 61 of 94

Actual window this happened from

We did this by each holding one of these huge speakers up to the window. BAM. A knock on our door.

Final Tour of Virginia Tech 199705 by Clint - 59 of 94

Another pic of 1044 Pritchard, with its 1996-1997 occupants (strangers)

We freak out, since we were the guilty party, and it was also kind of weird that we had our light off, as if we were hiding.

Pussy R.A. (I don’t even remember his name) came to our door. “Now guys. We heard something like the Scooby Doo theme blasting into the pit here. We just wanted to make sure it wasn’t you.” I mean, VERY non-confrontational, non-committal, and still not quite loud enough to really HEAR him. He was laughably wussy, and just the kind of R.A. you want around if you want to do stupid shit.

Final Tour of Virginia Tech 199705 by Clint - 15 of 94

Scooby Doo from the Cartoon Hall mural -- one of the few characters in the hall without a hit of acid drawn onto his tongue -- because he didn't have a visible tongue (click through to see all the acid-tongued cartoons)

We laughed our asses off, knowing that he didn’t have the balls to do anything about it. I mean, they couldn’t prove anything at that point anyway. But a real douche of an R.A. could still make things annoying.

Like the one we just called “Prick”. I believe he was a blonde douchebag of an R.A. on the second floor. I still remember Diane and I accidentally setting off the local fire alarm right outside his door, and her dropping her ID at the scene. And still, somehow, we were immune to any punishment.

I got away with a LOT in that dorm room. I also pretended to be an R.A. and pretended to bust other people in another dorm room.

20070319 - Clint's work - 115-1559 - Clint at work - as a cap - I'm not really one, I just put this on in the supply closet

Shakedown. Breakdown. You're busted.

Good times, good times.

Final Tour of Virginia Tech 199705 by Clint - 50 of 94

obligatory "OH!"


 movie coverI'd rather be watching TV![IMDB link] [Netflix link] Re-watched this in 720p HD while Carolyn was out of town. John The Canadien came over, we spent 20-30 minutes discussing which movie-I-had-already-seen that we would be watching (because I don’t watch “new” movies without Carolyn around). Finally we decided on this movie, and JtC proceeded to pass out 17 minutes into it. So I basically watched this alone! Lame.

UNCOMFORTABLE PLOT SUMMARY (inspired by this): [highlight for spoilers] Kids use libel for revenge; cause police to ransack teacher’s house.

PEOPLE: Directed by Mark Waters (The Spiderwick Chronicles, Freaky Friday). Screenplay by Tina Fey.

Starring goddess Lindsay Lohan (at least in this movie, she’s perfect), Rachel McAddams as the bitch (The Hot Chick, Wedding Crashers, The Time Traveler’s Wife), Tina Fey as the teacher, Tim Meadows as the principal (Saturday Night Live, Walk Hard:The Dewey Cox Story, Lil’ Barack in Lil’ Bush, Wayne’s World 2, Coneheads), Amy Poehler as an overdriven mother (Blades Of Glory, Wet Hot American Summer, Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigalow, Envy, Shrek 3, Saturday Night Live), Lacey Chabert as a hopeless bop (Not Another Teen Movie, Lost In Space, Meg Griffin in Season 1 of Family Guy, Gwen Stacy in The Spectacular Spider-Man), Lizzy Caplan as the alt-girl (Marlena from Cloverfield, Brian the dog’s blonde girlfriend Debbie from American Dad, True Blood, 2 eps of Smallville, 1 ep of Undeclared), Amanda Seyfried as the “even stupider than stupid” girl (Lilly Kane from Veronica Mars, As The World Turns), Ana Gasteyer as Cady’s mom (Saturday Night Live, Reefer Madness: The Musical, What Women Want, Dick), and Jonathan Bennett (Bo in Dukes Of Hazzard 2: The Beginning, Van Wilder in National Lampoon’s Van Wilder 0: Freshman Year [which references this movie]) as the love interest.

QUIRKS: Based on a book by Rosalind Wiseman, “Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and Other Realities of Adolescence”. Even though the book is a self-help guide with no narrative at all. Uh… weird.

CENSORSHIP: When they asked her if her muffin had been buttered — it was supposed to be if her cherry was popped. When they talked about the girl who made out with a hot dog — it was supposed to be that she masturbated with a hot dog. Things were toned down to avoid an R rating. [sarcasm] Thank you family fucking values! [/sarcasm]

VISUALS: Beautiful girls are pretty easy on the eyes.

SOUNDTRACK: When they explain the cafeteria layout — note how the song sounds a LOT like the Futurama theme. This actually served as the inspiration for the Futurama theme song, according to IMDB.

MORALS: High school girls can be bitches! But it *is* possible to rise above all the bullshit, if everyone is willing. It just doesn’t typically happen.

BAD STUFF: The movie can be a bit corny with the voice-overs, but they do serve a purpose. Some people automatically hate all voiceovers. I don’t. They make movies easier to watch. This movie isn’t a puzzle to be solved, so why make it harder? But they are still the corniest part of the movie.

CONCLUSION: The first time I watched this was way back in 2004, before I wrote longer reviews. All I’d said was “very good social movie”. It won our honorable mention for “best fun movie watched in 2004”, losing out only to The Girl Next Door with Elisha Cuthbert (high school porn stars > high school mean girls). [We watched 94 movies in 2004.]

I’m glad I re-watched it so I could re-form a more concrete opinion of it, and also relate it to the movie Jawbreaker. Jawbreaker was actually a bit better than this movie, as it had a dark humor side. Basically, Mean Girls + Heathers = Jawbreaker.

However, this was still really good. It made me laugh out loud a bunch of times; it kept my interest; it kept me awake even though I was consuming a fair amount of alcohol at a fairly late hour. Lindsay Lohan and Rachel McAdams have never looked as good as they did in this movie, and that didn’t hurt either. I was impressed, because I had remembered this movie as not being as good as it really was.

RATINGS: Clint: Netflix: 4/5 stars. IMDB 8/10.
The native public rating for this movie is Netflix: 3.6/5 stars, IMDB 7.0/10.

RECOMMENDATION: Definitely worth watching, if you like high school stories about chaos in the social order. Social order has always been very fascinating to me.

SIMILAR MOVIES: Mean Girls + Heathers = Jawbreaker. Some definite similarities.

MOVIE QUOTE: This movie actually had a lot of great dialog — more than I remembered it having the first time around.

Gretchen: I’m sorry that people are so jealous of me… but I can’t help it that I’m so popular.

Coach Carr: At your age, you’re going to have a lot of urges. You’re going to want to take off your clothes, and touch each other. But if you do touch each other, you *will* get chlamydia… and die.

Bethany Byrd: Somebody wrote in that book that I’m lying about being a virgin because I use super jumbo tampons… but I can’t help it if I’ve got a heavy flow and a wide set vagina!

Gretchen: Make sure you check out her mom’s boob job. They’re hard as rocks.

Gretchen: And even in fancy countries like the United States and England, seven out of ten girls have a negative body image.
Regina George: Who cares? Six of those girls are right!

Cady: Halloween is the one night a year when girls can dress like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it.

FRIENDS’ RATINGS: Tatiana, Ian, Eric M, and Benj all really liked it [4/5]. Jordan, Christian D, Rebekah, & Metinee all liked it [3/5].

 movie coverI'd rather be watching TV![IMDB link] [Netflix link]

UNCOMFORTABLE PLOT SUMMARY (inspired by this): [highlight for spoilers] Politics, war, and fascism cause girl to make poor life choices.

PEOPLE: Co-written and co-directed by Marjane Satrapi, the main character in the movie.

QUIRKS: Based on a graphic novel. Autobiographal slice-of-life about growing up in Iran during the various “problems” they’ve had.

VISUALS: Animated. In *black and white* animation. They flash into color a couple times to kind of make the point that the black & white choice is on *purpose*. And it actually works quite well. I must say… The color parts did not have the dark mood that was lent to the film by the use of black and white. This is a bit contrary to my usual disdain of black and white!

The animation is great. I like pretty much all animation styles, and can never get enough… But it was both intricate and minimalistic at the same time. Would have loved to have seen this in HD.

SOUNDTRACK: No, not really. But prepare yourself for one of the most painful versions of Eye Of The Tiger you will ever hear.

MORALS: Whether they eventually realize it or not, in the end, people want freedom.

POLITICS: Iran’s government sent a letter to the French embassy in Tehran to protest against this movie. Iran pressured the organizers of the 2007 Bangkok Film Festival to drop it from their lineup, as well as protesting the movie’s inclusion in the 37th Wellington Film Festival in New Zealand. Iran is a bunch of whiny wankers.

BAD STUFF: It’s a bit dry. There’s not really any action. Just tension and darkness.

CONCLUSION: Unique and great animation, and a very interesting slice-of-life story about growing up in Iran during tough political times. But a bit dry.

Clint: 3/5 stars. IMDB: 7.5/10. Oddly enough, I want to IMDB rate it higher than my Netflix rating. I feel it’s good, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as I could have.
Carolyn: Netflix: 3.5/5 stars, IMDB: 7.5/10.
The native public rating for this movie is Netflix: 4/5 stars, IMDB 8.0/10.

RECOMMENDATION: This is still a good movie to see, as it has a completely unique perspective compared to other films — especially other animated films. I highly recommend it.

MOVIE QUOTE: “I remember I led a peaceful, uneventful life as a little girl. I loved fries with ketchup, Bruce Lee was my hero, I wore Adidas sneakers and had two obsessions: Shaving my legs one day and being the last prophet of the galaxy.”

FRIENDS’ RATINGS: Ian B, Eric M, & Metinee all loved it. Glen really liked it. Carolyn & I place somewhere between “like” and “really like”. (more…)

“Free trade, we’re told, is the secret to global prosperity. But what trade pacts are really all about is redesigning the international economy in a way that transfers significant new powers to corporations.

It has traditionally been recognized that there should be limits on corporate power, and that in a democracy, power should ultimately rest with the people. But that democratic notion has been discarded by those designing the new trade deals.

Consider the case of Methanex. It’s a Canadian company that produces a gasoline additive considered a health hazard in California. Santa Monica had to shut down most of its wells after some of the Methanex additive leeched into the local water supply. After that, California imposed a ban on the additive. One would think that Methanex would at least apologize for the incident, and in the old days that’s probably what would have happened. But under NAFTA, Methanex has a whole new set of legal rights that puts it in the drivers seat. So, Methanex has launched a massive lawsuit, suing the U.S. for almost a billion dollars for financial losses resulting from California’s ban.

Such a lawsuit would be considered a joke in Canadian court, but that’s where the magic of NAFTA comes in. The corporation gets to take its case to a private tribunal, operating in secret under the auspices of NAFTA. This private tribunal has the power to make binding decisions. What NAFTA does is single out corporate profit-making AS A RIGHT that has its own international legal protections, and a private tribunal system to enforce them. No other set of rights- environmental, social, labor, even human rights-has been accorded the same protection in international law. When a corporation thinks its rights have been violated, no matter how ridiculous the claim, it is permitted to sue under NAFTA, and the tribunal can force the government to pay the corporation huge sums of money.

Pundits suggest that governments are becoming powerless due to mysterious forces operating out there in the global economy, well beyond our control. Here’s another possibility: governments and citizens are losing power these days simply because we keep signing trade deals that render us powerless. If we stopped signing these trade deals, governments might retain enough power to do things like defend the public interest.”

-excerpted from “Trade Bait”
by Linda McQuaig (more…)

/yard sale sign/ Got up around 10AM or so… Carolyn was doing her blonde to redhead henna conversion, so she couldn’t come with me. So I went alone.

Only went to about 3 sales or so, but I stopped and ate, and also got into a long conversation with one person (Andrew) at the last yardsale, who it turns out knows some people I know (TwoBeans), was at a party I was at in the past, as well as at the camping rave last summer that we were at…. Small world, and now we’re facebook friends. I really wanted the skull that he was selling, but didn’t get it (may regret that, but I have several skulls already).

I was out for a couple of hours, but I’m gonna call it 75 minutes of actual yard saleing time.

It turns out that it wasn’t a good weekend. The rain Friday probably caused a lot of people to put their yard sales off for another week. The amount I had to drive between sales was way more than it is during certain golden weekends when it seems like there are sales every couple of streets. I didn’t really get anything that I specifically wanted or needed, just “neat stuff”. I probably should have done something else. But I’m still gonna go again soon. :)

Total spent $2.25 plus ~$3.90 gas for 19 miles of driving, for a total cost of $6.15.

I bought 3 items for a total estimated value of $23, leading to a profit of $16.85. To earn that much after taxes you’d really have to earn $24; money saved (by not having to spend it) is actually worth more than we realize when the government’s cut is taken into consideration. Anyway, this works out to a “wage” of $13.48/hr, if you don’t count the time I spent eating and socializing.

  • $1.00: Nirvana, record store poster, large (3’x3′), plastic not paper, Nirvana: The Box Set (EV:$15 because on ebay smaller Nirvana posters that aren’t plastic can go for $12)

the poster is this pic with other stuff around it

  • $1.00: cats: EmeryCat scratching board (identical to one we got for Christmas that Oranjello loves — these are arched instead of straight, which makes them way more appealing to cats)($20 new, but missing the cardboard (refill=$7), catnip, & cat toy, so EV:$10)


  • $0.25: comic book: Bart Simpson #14 (turns out I have this in graphic novel form as a past Christmas present–I really should bring my comic list yardsaling) ($3 new but not in good condition, so $1)

Click here for other Yard Sale-related postings.

* EV stands for “Estimated Value”, which I estimate by looking things up in Google Shopping/Google/Amazon/Ebay. I don’t always deduct for an item being used, unless it’s actually in worse condition in a way that matters. For example, I estimate books at the cover value. I also try to only count shipping if it’s the type of thing that would need to be shipped, and only if the price isn’t “fixed” (i.e. 1 cent items that cost $10 to ship would not be $10 in person). (more…)

 movie coverI'd rather be watching TV![IMDB link] [Netflix link] I’ll watch this because it’s HD.

UNCOMFORTABLE PLOT SUMMARY (inspired by this): [highlight for spoilers] Government reluctance to declare disaster needlessly kills scores (sound familiar, Katrina victims?).

PEOPLE: Tommy Lee Jones, Anne Heche, Don Cheadle, Gaby Hoffman, and Keith David — Goliath from Gargoyles!

QUIRKS: Volcano, maaaan! What do you THINK this is about?

VISUALS: Volcano!!!!!!!! OMG. It’s gonna burn us all.

POLITICS: Don’t expect an early warning from the government. I think if everyone realized this is how governments actually operated, they would probably feel less secure. Oh wait. That IS how the government actually operated. There are parallels between New Orleans/Hurricane Katrina and this movie. People shouldn’t die just because a government doesn’t want to declare something an emergency.

BAD STUFF: Oh, there are some silly Hollywood moments. Plenty of people complained about the B.S. level, science-wise. But c’mon! This is just a city-scale equivalent of a feelgood apocalypse movie like Armageddon or Deep Impact. What do you expect? There’s still a general message that we should listen to our scientists more, and that’s good.

But yes… They are pretty clueless about… lava. Look past this flaw, and you’ll enjoy the movie more.

CONCLUSION: A generic Hollywood action movie… But an *epic* generic Hollywood action movie. I’d much rather watch a generic movie about a volcano that can kill thousands or millions than one about some mobster who can kill… tens.

RATINGS: Generic pass. 3/5 Netflix, 6/10 IMDB.

RECOMMENDATION: If you can see it in HD….

SIMILAR MOVIES: Armageddon. Outbreak. Deep Impact. All of these generic epic disaster movies have similarities… Though Armageddon is probably still the best, because of how ridiculous it is.

MOVIE QUOTE: “Well, we now have a *name* for this crisis. It is, according to the US Geological Survey, a *volcano*! As crazy as it sounds, a volcano, *here*, has been…[continues on indistinctly]”
Seriously… It took them RIDICULOUSLY long to call it that. To the point of it being comedic. I still actually think that’s how it could actually play out in real life.

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