welcome back from the dead

Well, its been like 2 years. should I start writing on here again?


2012 Theater Roundup

I forgot to post my list of movies I saw in the theater in 2012. So here it is a little late. My memory is bad so my review might be the same opinion I had at the moment, in fact some of these I have already watched a second time. I discuss many of these films in more detail here: A Dozen Films Reviewed (Quickly)

  • The Grey: On the face a decent survival adventure, but even better as an allegory for death
  • The Lorax: My girls loved this movie, sure its about saving the earth – nothing wrong with that.
  • The Secret World of Arietty: Ella digs fairies, so this was right up her alley
  • John Carter: Its too bad the marketing was so bad for this, if people understood that it is based on the novel that basically all modern sci-fi is based off, I think it would get more love. But without knowing that, you just think, seen it all before.
  • The Hunger Games: Decent flick, I was happy Erin was interested in going to a genre movie like this. I actually noticed this is on Netflix so gonna watch it again
  • The Cabin in the Woods: Joss Whedon is a damn clever writer!
  • Lockout: Entertaining – Guy Pearce cracked me up
  • The Five-Year Engagement: Another date movie, fun to see Ann Arbor on the big screen.
  • The Pirates! Band of Misfits: Fund kids movie, watched it with girls again and enjoyed it again.
  • The Avengers: Hulk steals the show, caught it multiple times in theater.
  • Battleship: A little corny, but fun.
  • Men in Black 3: In another year or two, I plan to give Ella the MIB trilogy, I think she will dig it.
  • Moonrise Kingdom: My favorite movie of 2012. I love Wes Anderson, you could freeze-frame about any moment in his films and it will look like a well-composed painting.
  • Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted : Girls and I sang this for days: “Circus afro, circus afro,
    Polka dot polka dot polka dot afro”
  • Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked: Meh
  • Brave: Love stories with strong female characters for the girls.
  • Ice Age: Continental Drift: They can stop making these now.
  • The Dark Knight Rises: Didn’t love it. Logic issues and shadow of the theater shooting kept me from really liking it.
  • Total Recall: Mashed together elements of my favorite sci-fi movies (Bladerunner, Fifth Element, irobot, etc), but ultimately had no original story to tell.
  • Prometheus: Have I mentioned I love sci-fi? Even if it doesn’t make sense sometimes, it still so fun to watch.
  • The Bourne Legacy: Worthy sequel/prequel/parallelquel or whatever it was. I liked the change from amnesiac Matt Damon character, with one with a darker past and motivation.
  • The Campaign: Hilarious!
  • The Expendables 2: Terrible! Everything that is wrong with violence in movies.
  • Premium Rush: Who would have though a bike messenger chase move would be so entertaining, clearly without Joseph Gordon Levitt and Michael Shannon it would not have been.
  • Dredd: Dark and violent. But entertaining.
  • Hotel Transylvania: Fun kids movie. Ella can never remember the name of this movie, but brings it up a lot saying “you know, the monster hotel movie”
  • Looper: I would have preferred they left Joseph Gordon Levitt’s face alone, it distracted me
  • Frankenweenie: Very Tim Burton.
  • Flight: Way better than I expected, still think of that mini-fridge scene.
  • Wreck-It Ralph: Loved it. Girls favorite movie right now.
  • Lincoln: Was surprised that it was more about Congressional procedural than the Civil War, but very good nonetheless.
  • Rise of the Guardians: Decent kids movie I guess.
  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: Loved it. I love The Hobbit, its more light-hearted then LOTR
  • This is 40: Depressing at times in its realness, but probably Aptow’s best movie in terms of holding quality until the end.
  • Paranorman : Clever horror movie for kids, we have rewatched several times
  • Finding Nemo: Classic, was fun to see in theater again. Erin and I went with my folks the first time it came out – without any kids.
  • Beauty and the Beast: Ella was so happy to see this in theater.
  • Journey 2: The Mysterious Island: Made for a decent matinee I guess
  • La Luna : Great little short film.
Already looking forward to next year’s list, since now I have MoviePass and will surely break the 50 movie barrier, my goal was 100, but doubt I will make that. Maybe 60-70 though.

(I discuss many of these films in more detail here: A Dozen Films Reviewed (Quickly))

It’s not the end of the world, but I still feel fine

Pale Blue Dot

On October 13, 1994, the famous astronomer Carl Sagan was delivering a public lecture at his own university of Cornell. During that lecture, he presented this photo taken by Voyager 1 in 1990 as it sailed away from Earth, more than 4 billion miles in the distance:

“We succeeded in taking that picture [from deep space], and, if you look at it, you see a dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever lived, lived out their lives. The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilizations, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every hopeful child, every mother and father, every inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species, lived there on a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam.

The earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and in triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of the dot on scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner of the dot. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity — in all this vastness — there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us. It’s been said that astronomy is a humbling, and I might add, a character-building experience. To my mind, there is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly and compassionately with one another and to preserve and cherish that pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”

– Carl Sagan (Nov 9, 1934 – Dec. 20, 1996) was an American astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, and science communicator in astronomy and natural sciences.

Scenes from Sutra

I was doing some research on Monks, I won’t go into why at the moment, and I stumbled across these scenes from a show called Sutra. It was performed by Shaolin Temple monks by choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui (the non-monk guy in the show).

Here are a few more scenes:

And some video from their rehearsals:

What mental games do you play?

I smell a revolution coming…

XKCD is a great comic strip – so many good ones, I purposely picked one that was not laugh out loud funny, because if you click this link and look through the past comics you will lose your entire day – they are that good.

A Dozen Films Reviewed (quickly)

I used to do a short review of all the films I would go see, but somewhere along the way I stopped doing that, and then stopped blogging almost all together. So, I realized they were probably related, my movie review posts would typically lead to my other posts. So I’m bringing it back – here are a dozen brief reviews of films I have seen recently:

Finding Nemo

What a great flick – I love when good movies come back to the theater, and no not for the 3D. In fact, the whole family went and we opted for the 2D version, since none of us like wearing the glasses. When Finding Nemo first came out in 2003, Erin and I actually saw it on a date – back when we didnt have kids, so we could go to the movies any time we wanted! So seeing it again 9 years later with the girls was fun times indeed! (Note: I think I broke a record for food purchased at one movie: Large popcorn, Large mellow-yellow, Chicken nuggets, box of airheads, small sprite, small pink lemonade and a hot dog!

Premium Rush

I just needed to get out of the house the other night, and the only two movies that sounded decent were this one and Lawless. I was a little worried that I would get sick of bike chase action, and I will admit they could have cut out about 20 minutes of it, but overall it was a nice ride. There was nothing really new here, except the mode of transit in this chase movie, but what made it so engaging was the bad guy – a dirty cop played by Michael Shannon, who is just fascinating onscreen, he just oozes desperation and bad attitude in this role, but with an odd giggle that made the movie for me. (Note, if you haven’t seen Bug and Take Shelter – do so asap.)

Total Recall

If this movie was not a remake of a classic, it probably would have been better received. For a sci-fi fan, it was a lot of eye candy as it blatantly ripped off paid homage to some of the recent greats – this reviewer said it best: “But did it have to look like the machines from I, Robot hitch a ride on the magma train from The Core to invade the world of Blade Runner for the benefit of the citizens living in The Fifth Element?”

Bourne Legacy

Matt Damon who? I’m surprised so many critics and fans said they missed him in this edition of the Bourne series. I think this new character has way more depth than the amnesia-like Bourne, and Jeremy Renner shows way more vulnerability in the role. I look forward to them unleashing him in the sure to come net installment. Interestingly, Bourne Legacy is not a sequel and not a prequel really either, it actually takes place at the same time as the first trilogy, in fact viewers are kept apprised of key events unfolding with Jason Bourne as this films protagonist’s fate unravels as a direct result of the CIA covering their butts from the fallout caused by Bourne. (If you haven’t seen Renner in The Hurt Locker, do it now)

Expendables 2

I think I remember liking the first one, but this one was soooo bad. While it added even more action hero classics to the mix such as Chuck and Jean Claude, it completely lacked the intriguing dialogue of the first one. And again Sly made himself the leading man that beats the baddie and gets the girl, except again, not really because he is too hold for her. So unless this movie was meant to be a comedic parody of the late 80s, early 90s action films they all starred in, then it was a total failure. I mean the unnecessary body count was just crazy.

Moonrise Kingdom

I love Wes Anderson movies – he makes every frame picture perfect and every moment surreal and common at the same time. This film was even more relatable then some of his others and his two child stars turn in great performances. Some will wish he gave the all-star supporting actors more screen time rather than these unknown kids, but it almost makes a point that these unknown kids are the focus and not the adults that all take their lives for granted in comparison.


A horror movie for kids, brilliant. I was a little nervous about it being too scary, but Ella ate it up. Very enjoyable. The stop-action animation was stellar – it was the first stop-motion film to use a 3D color printer to create character faces (Coraline pioneered the technique, but was black and white).

Dark Knight Rises

Meh. It did not live up the hype at all. So many logic flaws and unnecessary exposition made this movie a bit irritating, and I couldn’t help but be thinking about the real-life tragedy from its opening night as phony violence was displayed in the film. Hopefully, Nolan can now go back to making more thought-provoking movies like his earlier works, particularly Inception and Memento.

Ice Age 3

Basically the same movie as the first three. That’s why I opted to see at the dinner theater, so I could at least gorge on buffalo wings and fries while watching it.


Totally enjoyed this movie! And I would have never guess the big green guy was going to stole the show. I really thought the Hulk being in it was going to ruin it, but he was by far the highlights – the top three moments in the film come to mind.

Men in Black 3

What a solid trilogy. All three are fun and inventive in their stories – this time adding a time-travel twist that lets James Brolin play Tommy Lee’s role for most the film. I think Ella is going to dig these films in a couple years.

Madagascar 3

See Ice Age review above. Except the girls and I were singing this ditty all the way home: “Afro circus. Afro Circus. Polka dot, polka dot, polka dot.”

Sidewalk Artist

Photo Album – Chicago 2012