March 2014

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

PEOPLE: Starring Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz. Just like Vanilla Sky.

We also recognized Viola Davis, but I’m not sure from where. Sure, we’ve seen Traffic, Kate & Leopold, and most of Solaris (so awful I aborted, a 1 in 400 movie occurrence) — but I wouldn’t think she’d be memorable from those.

PLOT SUMMARY: Clueless car-loving blonde bumps into Tom Cruise, and suddenly her life is in danger from a global conspiracy. Wait — is this the real life story of Katie Holmes? (No, not really.)

UNCOMFORTABLE PLOT SUMMARY (inspired by this): [highlight for spoilers] Taxpayer money fails to kill innocent civilian.

QUIRKS: Over-the-top, ridiculous action. Cartoonily ridiculous. Think Crank / Shoot ‘Em Up / Wanted ridiculousness levels. This is an action-romance-comedy.

This movie passed through 7 different writers and several sets of stars before finally morphing into what it ultimately became.

VISUALS: Fights!

MORALS: Nope, not really. Surviving a government conspiracy is simply a roll of the dice. No real morals here.

POLITICS: Government corruption kills innocents.

GOOD STUFF: The action/romance angle is funny, and a refreshing when compared to romantic comedies that have no gunfights.

BAD STUFF: It’s a romantic comedy in disguise. But I’ve long thought that shitty genres mixed with good genres produce watchable films. It’s why I don’t mind the Twilight movies. They’re certainly better than shitty teen romances without vampires and werewolves. And this is certainly better than shitty Tom Cruise / Cameron Diaz romance movies without vast, ridiculous government conspiracies.

The action is ridiculous. People survive situations they’d never survive in real place. Suspension of disbelief is required; this is one of the “cartoony aspects” of the movie.

Carolyn: “Why are they having a moment right now?!?”
Clint: “Becuase the pacing of a formulaic movie requires that this happens now.”
Carolyn: “Oh. Right.”

CONCLUSION: For mindless ridiculous action combined with a paper-thin romance story and predictable pacing… This was still entertaining. Call it king of the turds; we still both liked it despite it’s vapidness. Ridiculous cartoony action is fun. Michael Bay probably could have made this better, haha.

Clint: Netflix: 3/5 stars. IMDB: 7/10. Met my expectations rather precisely.
Carolyn: Netflix: 4/5 stars. IMDB: 7/10. Exceeded her expectations.
The native public rating for this movie is: IMDB: 6.5/10, Netflix: 3.7/5 stars (Netflix‘s predicted rating for us was 3.8/5 stars).

RECOMMENDATION: This could be a good compromise movie between a husband who wants some cartoony action, and a wife who wants a romance story about a scientologist and a girl who gets cum in her hair.

SIMILAR MOVIES: There’s a level of ridiculous action, like in the movie Crank, or the movie Wanted, or the movie Shoot ‘Em Up. But I’d say, out of the three, that it’s most like Shoot ‘Em Up, but if it was done as a romance-action instead of a gun-loving action.

MOVIE QUOTE: “Don’t worry. I’ve got it.”

COINCIDENCES: Two videos within a week featuring a howto on how to escape someone grabbing you from behind. The other was The Boondocks episode where the black guy who acts white conquers his fear of going to jail and getting anally raped, and uses the same move to escape his captors.

OTHER REVIEWS: Outlaw Vern’s review captures a lot of the flaws in this movie.


MUSIC: METAL: DEATHS: GWAR frontman Dave Brockie — aka ‘Oderus Urungus’ — found dead in Richmond, Va., home: police

First Peter Steele, now this.

Nothing to remind you that you’ve entered middle age like having all your bands slowly drop dead.

I guess if Holliston is renewed, they won’t have Oderus on every episode either.

I guess these GWAR songs I’m learning for future concerts… Will only ever be heard inside my house?

This sucks.


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

PEOPLE: Same director as Toy Story 2 (but not 1). Same writers as Toy Story 1-3. With Tom Hanks as Woody. Tim Allen as Buzz Lightyear (a shame–I prefer Patrick Warburton from the show). Joan Cusack (High Fidelity) as Jessie. Ned Beatty (Homicide:Life On The Street, Replikator, Superman 1-2) as Lotso. Don Rickles and Estelle Harris (George Costanza’s mom in Seinfeld) as Mr. & Mrs. Potato Head. Jodi Benson (Tula in the Pirates Of Darkwater, Ariel in The Little Mermaid) and Michael Keaton as Barbie and Ken. Wallace Shawn (“INCONCEIVABLE!” from The Princess Bride, Heaven Help Us) as Rex. John Ratzenberger (Cliff from Cheers) as Hamm the pig. John Morris continued playing Andy, which is weird because it’s the only named character he’s ever played in a movie. Mr. Pricklepants is played by Timothy DaltonN (The King’s Whore, James Bond). Also with Whoopi Goldberg (and nobody noticed or cared!).

UNCOMFORTABLE PLOT SUMMARY (inspired by this): [highlight for spoilers] Shitty toys finally get thrown away…then tortured.

QUIRKS: A sequel in the same vein as the last 2 Toy Story movies. Highest grossing animated movie of all time, breaking $1B.

VISUALS: Amazing Pixar animation, as always. Some scenes were damn near photo realistic. How long until CGI becomes indistinguishable from photo realism? And what will they do then–purposely mar it up a bit in order to keep it from looking “too” real? WISH WE’D SEEN THIS IN 3-D! They had to recreate all their models from scratch, though this was only a result of the fact that they were unable to edit the original 1995 models due to technical glitches. Haha.

WILHELM SCREAM: Yup! We missed it, too :/

SOUNDTRACK: Not remarkable.

MORALS: Sometimes duty is better than taking the easy way out. This becomes even more apparent when you find out the easy way out is actually the hard way out :)

GOOD STUFF: First time I ever gave a shit about Barbie’s love for Ken. It was actually really awesome in the movie. “It’s like we’re… made for each other.” Hah! So obvious, yet so great to see that animated.

Best Mr. Potato Head scene in any movie ever.

Heart. So… much… heart… it hurts. It HURTS.

But above all: It was fun. And interesting. And entertaining. All the things one would expect from a Pixar A-movie. And yet, even still, it surpassed my expectations.

BAD STUFF: Nothing! I mean, everyone already knows their prejudices with this movie: Kid animated film. I don’t think there’s anything really bad here.

CONCLUSION: I’m pretty sure this was better than Toy Story 2, which I barely remember, but wrote a one-word summary for in 2004: “Strong”. WTF does that mean? Anyway, I think this was more than just “strong”. This was pretty awesome. More toys (302 characters in this film), more action, and now dealing with the hard process of getting rid of one’s toys.

Clint: Netflix: 5/5 stars. IMDB: 8.6/10 (a low 9).
Carolyn: Netflix: 4.6/5 stars. IMDB: 8.6/10 (a low 9).

The native public rating for this movie is: IMDB: 8.8/10 (18th highest-rated movie ever, though I would expect this number to go down in the future).
Netflix: 4.5/5 stars (Netflix‘s predicted rating for us was 4.4/5 stars–slightly lower. Which is a decent prediction, really.).

RECOMMENDATION: If you liked the first 2 Toy Story movies, you can’t miss this one! It’s better than Toy Story 2, I think!

SIMILAR MOVIES: Toy Story 1-2.


Andy: Now Woody, he’s been my pal for as long as I can remember. He’s brave, like a cowboy should be. And kind, and smart. But the thing that makes Woody special, is he’ll never give up on you… ever. He’ll be there for you, no matter what.

Barbie: Authority should derive from the consent of the governed, not from threat of force!


Dad loved it – gave all 3 movies in the trilogy 5/5 stars.
Kenneth Huey: “Some amazing moments towards the end, quite moving.”
Mistar Sistar says: “Littal iDRMRSR rilly dug this flick, too. He was 5 when the first one came out. Still one of his obsessive fave series!”
Normal Jean really enjoyed it.


Outlaw Vern’s review, funny as usual. This is the best review of this movie! Go read this now!!

Armond White hated it!

Sexism and stereotypes?

It’s about the apocalypse!


THIN BLUE LINE: Florida trooper arrested a cop, then was stalked & harassed by the Thin Blue Line | Police State USA

Apologists apologize for bad cops by saying they’re just a a bad apple — nevermind that the idiom of bad apple actually means “1 bad ruins them all”, because you barrel apples, and 1 bad apple in the barrel ruins every apple. NEVERMIND THAT.

It looks like we finally have a quantifiable ratio of good cop to bad cop — and it looks that the bad cops are well over a 100:1 ratio of the good cops.

This woman dared to arrest a speeder who gave chase for 6 minutes. He was a cop. She had to eventually move away in fear of her life. Gang stalking. It’s a thing. Thin Blue line at work.

The cop she arrested’s name is FAUSTO LOPEZ, AGE 35. He made excuses, then seemingly hid behind the blue line.

Gee, will I get harassed for posting this, Fausto?


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

PEOPLE: From the directors of Lilo & Stitch… comes a movie much better than Lilo & Stitch. Starring Jay Baruchel (awkward kid in Undeclared, She’s Out Of My League, Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Tropic Thunder, Fanboys, Knocked Up, Rules Of Attraction) as the main character Hiccup. Hiccup’s father Stoick was played by Gerard Butler (Kable from Gamer, King Leonidis from 300, Dracula from Dracula 2000). The teacher Gobber is played by Craig Ferguson (talk show host, and “Person Of Indeterminate Gender” from Lemony Snicket’s A Series Of Unfortunate Events). Romantic interest Astrid is played by America Ferrera (Betty from Ugly Betty). Snoutlout is played by Jonah Hill (Get Him To The Greek, The Invention Of Lying, Funny People, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Horton Hears A Who, Walk Hard, Superbad, Knocked Up, Click, Grandma’s Boy, The 40 Year Old Virgin, I Heart Huckabees). Fishlegs is played by Christopher Mintz-Plasse (McLovin’ from Superbad, Red Mist from Kick-Ass, Year One, Role Models). Tuffnut is played by T.J. Miller (Get Him To The Greek, Stainer from She’s Out Of My League). Ruffnut is played by Kristen Wiig (Date Night, Extract, Adventureland, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Walk Hard, The Brothers Solomon). Ack is played by Robin Atkin Downes (Repo Men, Transformers:Revenge Of The Fallen, Disaster Movie, Meet The Spartans, and generally just a voice actor). Basically, a pretty good voice cast of known voices. I kinda wish I’d paid attention to this fact before watching the movie, instead of after.

PLOT SUMMARY: Vikings vs. dragons! But are the dragons really as bad as they seem?

UNCOMFORTABLE PLOT SUMMARY (inspired by this): [highlight for spoilers] Vikings progress from extinction agenda to enslavement agenda.

QUIRKS: Family friendly animated adventure. Many Disney-esque Tropes are used, making things a bit predictable.

VISUALS: State-of-the-art CGI dragons. Can’t think of the last time I saw so many dragons rendered so well. Maybe never? But a complaint could still be made: Cartooneyness.

Too bad we didn’t see this in 3-D, though. That would have been even awesomer.

I did like the use of runes in it!

Based on a book.

WILHELM SCREAM: Yea, I think there was one.

MORALS: Things are not always what they seem.

POLITICS: Sometimes the majority is wrong.

GOOD STUFF: Full of heart.

BAD STUFF: Perhaps a bit too family friendly and predictable–but still good.

CONCLUSION: A fun family movie. While predictable, part of the reason for seeing Dreamworks animated movies is not the story, but the visuals. And the visuals are pretty cool.

Clint: Netflix: 4/5 stars. IMDB: 7/10.
Carolyn: Netflix: 4/5 stars. IMDB: 7.6/10 (a low 8).

The native public rating for this movie is: IMDB: 8.2/10 (181th highest rated movie ever?!?!), Netflix: 4.5/5 stars (Netflix‘s predicted rating for us was 4.3/5 stars–lower than average. Which is pretty amazing, because we usually like anything animated MORE than average. Yet Netflix knew that this would not be the case with this movie).

RECOMMENDATION: Ask yourself one question: “Do I want to see tons of different dragon species rendered in state-of-the-art CGI to then be treated like kitty-cats?” If the answer is yes, watch this.

SIMILAR MOVIES: Cartoon Network’s producing an animated series of this, starting in 2012. But it will probably be a bit too juvenile for our tastes. A 2013 theatrical sequel is planned as well.


ARTICLE: Must You Forgive?

An excellent, nuanced, well-enumerated, well-explained counterpoint to the fluffy feelgood religious concept of always forgiving.

I’m definitely saving this one so I don’t have to explain myself again! Woo!


house_well-11(NOTE: This post is an updated copy of my 2013 post [see also: 201220112010,  2009,  2008])

(Check our your property value using the official Fairfax county link.)

THE BASIC SUMMARY: Our real estate assessment grew 5.1888% — more than it has 8 out of the 14 years we’ve lived here. I guess things are back on track?. A 5.18884351% increase , which is a less than the average of yearly gains (7.3% a year on average, as of 2014), but way more than last year’s 0% increase. This would be a better than average year if the ridiculous bubble in 2004-2005 didn’t artificially inflate the average.

Our house went up 10.00183% — the most since the addition.
Our land stayed at the same value.

Our real estate value increased $1,365 a month. Our mortgage is currently about $1090, and includes all taxes & insurance. It’s almost like we’re getting paid $275 to live here, but then I remember this house comes with other associated costs: Electricity, internet, home warranty, trash, water/sewer, and maintenance.

In 1999, we bought the house at  $141K.
In 2000, we  were  assessed  at  $142K.
In 2001, this  grew   by 3.5% to $147K.
In 2002, this  grew   by  39% to $205K.
In 2003, this  grew   by   3% to $211K.
In 2004, this  grew   by  24% to $261K.
In 2005, this  grew   by  34% to $349K.
In 2006, this  grew   by  13% to $395K. [addition basically complete]
In 2007, this  grew   by   3% to $406K  (peak)
In 2008, this dropped by   7% to $375K. [addition officially complete]
In 2009, this dropped by   3% to $364K.
In 2010, this dropped by  18% to $298K. (ouch)
In 2011, this  grew   by   3% to $307K. (Finally a gain!) 
In 2012, this  grew   by  ~3% to $316K.
In 2013, this remained        at $316K. (Hmm...)
In 2014, this  grew   by   5% to $332K. (back on track)

We’re 18% down from our peak value. (But not 22% like last year, or 37% like 4 years ago).

We still owe $131.8 on our mortgage [2013/12=$133.9K/$136.1K].

The house is worth 2.52X more than we owe on the mortgage (2013/12/11: 2.36,2.32,2.27).

In 2014, we owe about $2100 less than we did the prior year. That is how much principal was paid this year. [2013=$2000. 2012=we owed $700 MORE than the prior year due to refinance costs to get a $260/mo cheaper mortgage payment].

So we are still ahead (“ahead” means “assessed value minus what is owed on the mortgage”) by $200.5K (2013/12/11/10=$182.0,179.8,171.7,163K).

Our gain in getting ahead was $18.4K this year ($1538/mo), which was greater than previous years’ gains (2013/12/11=$2.2,8.1,8.7K).

We’ve lived here 14 years now [actually 15–next year I will use the right number of 16! All my numbers have always been slightly off!], so that’s a running average of getting $14,318 ahead each year. This running average had been declining, but is now gaining: 2013/12/11=$12,997/14,903/15,609.
Per month, that is $1193 ahead each month, for all months that we’ve lived here. [2013/12/11=$1083,$1249$1300]. Considering that we took $30K out of the house to pay for an addition, that’s a pretty good rate of return.

Our mortgage is now up to $1058.76. (2013=1025 after refinance,2012=1300), so this place seems to literally be paying for itself: It’s value goes up more each month, on average, over the entire time we’ve lived here… Than how much we pay each month!  Well… Not counting those “associated costs”, anyway.

(Of course, the addition wasn’t free, it was about $80K, so we’re really only $120.5K ahead (2013/12/11=$102.0/99.8/91.7K), or only $8,604 ahead per year (2013/12/11=$7,283/$8,317/$8,336), or only about $717  (2013/12/11=$606/$693/694) ahead each month. Still not shabby.))

These people who say houses aren’t a good investment don’t know what they’re talking about. Even if it’s value drops 90%, you’re still getting 10% more of your money back than if you were renting! And we’re sure as hell doing better than dropping 90%… We’re getting double our money back, assuming value holds.

We also have way more living space than people who pay the same amount: 2500 sq ft @ 1025/mo = 42.35 cents per square foot per month [2013=41]. Renting space in D.C. is often paying 3X as much per square-foot-month as what we are paying. And that’s with no yard or parking.  It’s amazing how much more you can get when you don’t demand every little thing be perfect.

Here’s the new graph:

2014 real estate assessment graph

2013’s graph:

2012’s graph:

2011’s graph:


Broken down via land vs. building:

2000: $71K
2001: $71K
2002: $90K (+27%)
2003: $100K (+11%)
2004: $150K (+50%)
2005: $184K (+23%)
2006: $166K (-10%) [addition completed]
2007: $166K
2008: $184K (+11%)
2009: $166K (-10%)
2010: $148K (-11%)
2011: $148K
2012: $152K (+2.7%)
2013: $152K
2014: $152K

2000: $71K
2001: $76K (+7%)
2002: $115K (+51%)
2003: $111K (-3%)
2004: $111K
2005: $165K (+49%) [addition possibly counted here]
2006: $229K (+39%) [addition completed]
2007: $241K (+5%)
2008: $192K (-20%)
2009: $198K (+3%)
2010: $150K (-24%)
2011: $159K (+6%)
2012: $164K (+3%)
2013: $164K
2014: $180K (+10%)

FOOTNOTE: 2006 was about when the construction was mostly finished, but due to problems with it being completely finished, it might not have been legally counted as finished until 2008.

RANDOM NOTE: The Google Chart Playground is very, very useful. Saves a lot of manual page refresheses…

Mood: did not want to type this up the day I re-installed windows!
Music: GWAR!!