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Showing posts from July, 2013

Movie Review: The Conjuring (2013)

The Conjuring is a fantastic horror film. Director James Wan invests in the characters, develops the ante gradually, and then unleashes scene after terrifying scene at viewers. The cinematography is flawless from the start, especially when combined with the disturbing music. The opening credits establish those two strengths: the score pours out of the speakers as the studio logo scrolls to the side, then downwards toward the title. Immediately after that, moviegoers get introduced to Annabelle, a doll possessed by an “inhuman spirit.” Spoiler: she comes ba-a-ack!

Vera Farmiga’s strong performance stands out in the film. She plays Lorraine Warren, the mildly psychic half of a paranormal investigator duo. Her husband Ed, played by a steely Patrick Wilson, is protective and reassuring. The main plot in the movie has Ed and Lorraine helping a family out in Rhode Island. The mom is Carolyn, played by Lili Taylor (pictured), and the dad is played by Office Space’s Ron Livingston, which exp…

Movie Review: The Wolverine (2013)

The latest Wolverine movie focuses on the character and is anchored by Hugh Jackman's committed performance. Heavy themes come into play: what good soldiers seek, family and honor, genetics and the favored, death and immortality, and salvation and forgiveness. Good writing, good performances, and spectacular sword fighting choreography make this movie enjoyable.

The movie answers two questions: what is the Wolverine? -- a practically indestructible mutant with a near-miraculous healing factor and unbreakable bones -- and who is the Wolverine? -- something that requires more nuance. He's a soldier who fights for justice; a hunter who knows mercy; a scrappy fighter who'll keep going no matter what; but here, most of all, a man in pain. He dreams of Jean Grey every night, tortured by her death at his hands. Dream-Jean wants him to join her. When Yashida, a man Logan saved in Nagasaki decades ago, offers to "end your eternity," he sees a glimpse of the end of his su…

The Importance of Rinsing Properly

I used to get in trouble with my host mom and dad in Japan because I didn't rinse dishes properly. "Karada ni wa dame ([Soap] isn't good for the body)," okaasan would say to me firmly. Duh, I would think.

But I never improved. Fragrant Husband has sighed in exasperation at my failures to completely remove soap residues from dishes and pans. "Meh," I would say. It was hardly a high-stakes operation. I blithely remained at the same level of awful when it came to washing out kitchen items. Just last week, my inability to use water properly directly led to gross-tasting tea in my office travel mug. Did I drink it anyway? You bet.

Then, not ten minutes ago, I was washing a mug that previously held hot chocolate when a VIP came over. As we chatted, it became clear that she wanted to use the sink, too. I tried to conscientiously rinse my soapy mug -- it was hard to tell how good a job I did, given the dim lighting -- and plopped it onto the dish rack.

To my horro…

Game Review: Valkyria Chronicles (PS3) and Husband-Wife Warfare

Valkyria Chronicles has it all: addictive gameplay, a sweeping score, tanks, guns, snipers, drama, war, mods, unabashed criticism of nuclear weaponry, and, best of all, a villain that will make the uninitiated void her bowels upon first contact. The game is a 2008 PlayStation 3 release by SEGA. It is critically acclaimed. It has gorgeous cel art and animation. And it caused a mini-fight between me and my husband.

The game takes place in Europa (Europe), where little Gallia (Belgium), is caught between the Federation (western Europe) and the Empire (Germany). This is basically the European theater of World War II missing some crucial elements: no submarines, air strikes, or the US. Instead, players start out with a tank and some scouts, who can spot enemies from a distance and run like hell to duck behind some sandbags. Sandbags are our friends.

The Empire's forces have invaded Gallia with lightning speed (think blitzkrieg without air support), kicking out the game's two main p…

Train Adventures

The daily commute to and from the office is one of the helljoys™ of being gainfully employed. "Helljoy" is a term I just made up to describe the simultaneously delightful and agonizing experience that is riding the T during rush hour.

Let's start with a general overview of typical rider behavior. Basically, everyone has their eyes glued to something -- their phone, iPad, the Metro newspaper, whatever. We all cram together like sardines of various shapes and sizes. Pregnant ladies or the elderly get seats, as they should. So we riders keep ourselves busy, but often not to a douche level. 

Here's my secret wisdom: there's plenty of space toward the very end of the trains. Why? Because distracted commuters walk through the doors and latch onto the closest handhold. Only trained ninjas like myself duck and weave past everyone, smiling sweetly and saying, "Pray excuse me!" so as not to get punched in the face with someone's handbag before eight in the mo…

Movie Review: Pacific Rim (2013)

Warning: massive spoilers ahead. Avoid reading if you are planning to watch the movie, or have already watched it. 

STACKER PENTECOST 143 Fragrant Elephant Drive, Boston, MA 58008 | stacker@fragrantelephantlover.com 


Veteran military professional currently serving as Head of Hong Kong Shatterdome  and Marshal with Pan Pacific Defence Corps (PPDC).
KEY SKILLS
Leadership As commander of Jaeger fighting machines, directed campaigns that led to defeat of Category 2, 3, and 4 Kaijū. Picture below shows Russian machine, Cherno Alpha, ironically not nuclear-powered.  Foresaw utter failure of all non-Jaeger war strategies, and assembled all remaining Jaeger in Hong Kong for Humanity's Last Stand.  Re-recruited traumatized main protagonist back into Jaeger program using persuasive language, then overshadowed him for rest of movie via sheer charisma.Loomed impressively over everyone during entire movie.Declined adopted daughter's pleas to co-pilot a Jaeger, then changed mind. Was proven corr…

Am I My Mom Yet?

The end of the month marks another year of the imminent, inevitable, and progressive loss of my physiological integrity. On the one hand, I remain quite sprightly despite my tragic telomere attrition. On the other hand, I just discovered that I am supposed to turn into my mother this year.

If last month’s breathless news reports and blogs prove correct, I will shortly transform into the all-knowing carbon-based life form who deposited my chubby little body into an unsuspecting world.

In the interest of science, I have created a checklist to determine the likelihood of this phenomenon affecting me. I have weighted each category in an arbitrary manner, as a shout out to organized religion.

Am I My Mom Yet? - Checklist CategoryWeightScoreCooks with too much oil100No filter between brain and mouth2020Somehow always correct, or able to hypnotize others into believing so155Needy1515Likes humans more than pets105Hilarious1010Disregards personal boundaries105Voracious eater1010
I scored a 70. …

Movie Review: The Heat (2013)

The Heat is hilarious. Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy do an excellent job of combining their comedic talents for this buddy-cop flick. The writing is a little loose, but this is really about two women who've had to be tough to get ahead, and how they learn to work together. It brings tears to my eyes. Tears of laughter, I mean.

Bullock plays FBI agent Ashburn, a know-it-all unpopular with her colleagues. Still, she's competent enough that her boss assigns her to a case in Boston to see if she's qualified for a promotion. That's where she collides with Mullins, a Boston cop who has strong opinions and unorthodox policing methods. Their journey towards bonding is rough, but eventually they like each other enough to go out for (a ton of) drinks. Then they have a falling-out, make up, and go after the baddies. Everything goes according to buddy-cop formula, and boy, is it fun.

McCarthy stands out with her perfect delivery and what sound like ad-libbed lines, and Bullo…

Book Review: Valis (1981)

Philip K. Dick's Valis is an exploration into the densities of mental imbalance. About two-thirds of the way, I did a head-tilt of confusion as I began to detect hints of author self-insertion. But by then it was too late -- I was invested in the characters and their bizarre story.

The novel plunges readers into the quiet chaos of an unraveling mind. The protagonist, Horselover Fat, tries to prevent a friend from ending her life. His failure eventually sends him to a hospital. There, he begins to write his exegesis, or his analysis of the divine revelations that he apparently received one day in the course of eight hours. He scribbles down wild thoughts about the nature of the universe, information, the "homoplasmate," irrationality, genesis, and more. The novel continues in this vein until even his friends find connections between Horselover Fat's visions and the real world. Together, they set out to discover the meaning of VALIS.

This is the first Philip K. Dick n…

The Tyranny

Forget the protests in Egypt. Look beyond the continuing saga of Snowden. Ignore US politicians' attempts to control women. The true tyranny is here:


These innocent-seeming shoes, which I snapped up at the new TJ Maxx at the Galeria, gave me blisters. Blisters! Small pockets of fluid caused by friction! Oh the pain! The agony! How can you compare violent national protests and invasions of privacy and cruel patriarchalism to my office dress code-induced pain?
You cannot. Please, readers, learn from my tragedy -- walk, do not run, and certainly not over great distances, in brand new shoes. Then you shall be spared the suffering. 
This post brought to you by Vacation Mode, Fourth of July subcategory.