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Showing posts from August, 2013

Movie Review: The World's End (2013)

The World’s End is an alcohol-fueled movie that owes its success to Simon Pegg’s manic performance, Nick Frost’s character’s simmering rage, an impeccable supporting cast, and spectacular fight scenes. Fans of the "Cornetto Trilogy" will probably rank it below Shaun of the Dead, because zombies, so it must do battle with Hot Fuzz for the number two spot!
The World’s End follows Gary King (Pegg), a “cool kid” in high school who never moved on from those glory years. With absolute madcap confidence and brazen lies, Gary gathers all his friends to complete the quest they failed to do as teenagers: complete the Golden Mile, a 12-bar pub crawl in their hometown. Things start getting weird several bars in, and the group – plus Rosamund Pike – must contend with a suddenly-hostile town population.
The movie crams many themes into an otherwise straightforward plot, themes like growing up/letting go/moving on, friendship, freedom, and conformity. It also unabashedly praises beer, tha…

Book Review: The Zombie Survival Guide (2003)

The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead offers practical advice for a satirical premise. It might have been source material for the World War Z movie, because it explicitly describes zombie-ism as being caused by a virus, and lists amputation as one way of preventing the spread of the infection (although severing the affected limb rarely works, apparently). It’s definitely the parent of the World War Z novel, which is basically an extension of The Zombie Survival Guide’s final chapter.

The survival guide contains six sections of distilled anti-zombie wisdom. First, it talks about Solanum, the zombie-spawning virus. Next, readers learn about the abilities and behavior of the various types of undead. The rest of the book helpfully provides recommended weapons (primary: carbine; secondary: hand gun; hand-to-hand: crowbar) and combat techniques. The author then outlines places of safety and the most effective ways of surviving in a zombie-infested world. The gu…

Movie Review: Starship Troopers (1997)

Starship Troopers came out when I was in high school, and I was more interested in laughing at the histrionics aboard the Titanic so I never got around to watching it, despite my teenage admiration for Casper van Dien’s amazing face. All I knew about Starship Troopers was that it starred Denise Richards and took place in space.

I had the opportunity to see the movie for the first time last week as part of a (filmed) RiffTrax Live performance, where the guys from Mystery Science Theater add commentary as the reel runs. It was fun! The only issues were (a) the movie is very loud, and gunfire often drowned out Rifftrax witticisms, and (b) a gorillagram came in both times for the nude scenes. I need to see all the scenes to fully enjoy this masterpiece of B-filmmaking, hel-lo! Yes, even the nekkid ones! I’m sure they portrayed passion, intimacy, and a sense of wartime urgency that contributed to character development! Like, totally!

For the uninitiated, Starship Troopers stars oh-Casper-m…

A Post-Consumerist World?

As a thought exercise, I started wondering what would happen if every consumer in, say, the United States shared my values and preferences. Here are my conclusions:

I. Things That Will Exponentially Increase in Number Due to Demand 
Cats (mixed)
JRPGs
Studio Ghibli movies
Puppies (mixed)
Swords
Ninja and miko costumes
Banana Republic
Popcorn and hot dogs
Kale
Curry dishes
Belgian beer
TempurPedic beds
Pacific Coast pillows
Snarky feminist writers
Good horror movies
Kathryn Bigelow (to be cloned immediately)

II. Things That Will Disappear Due to Lack of Demand 
Fast food chains, except Taco Bell (c.f. Demolition Man)
Bottled water
Energy drinks
Soda
Pet breeders
Dollar stores
Haute couture
Guns
Wal-Mart
Country music
Overproduced pop singles
Paper
NASCAR
Cigarettes
Multivitamins and probiotic supplements
Ice cream and pizza

III. Anticipated Outcomes
Cats will become the main alternative to the soft power items that would disappear in this scenario. Many Americans would lose weight, t…

Book Review: World War Z (2006)

This book has the same title as the movie version starring Brad Pitt. Oh, and the main character in the novel, the one who records the oral histories, is a U.N. employee. And that's it for similarities between book and movie.

World War Z is a good example of the differences in storytelling mediums. The written version draws its power from the first-person narratives provided by the interview subjects from all over the world: China, Ukraine, South Africa, Japan, the US, etc. The premise of the book is that the zombie war is over. Twelve years have passed since humanity earned a meaningful victory over the undead hordes. The main character, like a good historian, presents the perspectives of the people who survived the war, or profited from it, or contributed to its resolution. There's a doctor, hibakusha (survivor of the nuclear bomb), mercenary, soldiers, divers, and ordinary citizens. Everyone has a story to tell.

The book is divided into chapters that chronicle the first out…

Game Review: Final Fantasy II (iPhone)

Final Fantasy II is a 1988 NES game that Square Enix in its infinite wisdom ported onto the iPhone for nerds like me to squee over. The second installment of the ironically-named video game series departs from the leveling up system of typical RPGs, introduces a protagonist with a semblance of backstory, and features gorgeous artwork from Yoshitaka Amano. I mean, who wouldn't immediately volunteer to fight for a princess who looked like this:



Her headgear alone is enough to make me swear fealty. Although on the tiny screen, the scene where the player's group initially meets Princess Hilda actually looks like this:


Awwww, 16-bit graphics are so cute. Now imagine kids today staring blankly at you because they have no idea what bits are. You're old.

Back to the subject at hand! FFII is ridiculously easy, except when it isn't. Until you get the ring that lets you view the world map, you'll probably do what I did, which is wander around and get ridiculously over-leveled…

Lessons From Mama and Papa

I think most people who know me would agree that I'm not a seaworthy douchecanoe. On occasion, I may rise to the level of Decent Person. I owe a lot of that to the lessons that Fragrant Mother and Father taught me. I like to say that I'm half-crazy on my mom's side (edit: my mom says she's a "free spirit") and half-robot on my dad's, but overall, I think I made it through Life pretty okay, for now anyway.

Here are the nuggets of wisdom dropped by my parental units that help me out:

MAMA SAYS: BE POLITE.

This is not to say that you should hide your raging homicidal tendencies behind a veneer of civility. No, the politeness my mom espoused had to do with acknowledging another person's existence, which is the foundation for respect. Respectfulness and politeness go hand-in-hand in Tagalog; the language is structured to indicate one's position in the age hierarchy. Elders get the most respect, and have to be addressed by their proper titles -- Lolo/…

Fil versus Am: Guest Protocol

...Wow, my post heading looks like a movie title.

My household is a Fil-Am one -- half Filipina and half American, and 100% sassy. I spent the first eighteen years of my life being a dutiful Catholic in the Philippines, before Fragrant Mother, by her own account, went out there and lassoed me a scholarship to faraway Canada. That started my journey to Vermont, Kyoto, Boston, and Bangladesh, with some stops in Hong Kong, Thailand, and Australia along the way.

The point is -- and please imagine me saying this in the most obnoxious voice possible -- I ama citizen of the world. Now hand me a barf bag, I'm about to lose my peanut butter-and-cheese sandwich.

Meanwhile, Fragrant Husband grew up a WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant). He's a voracious reader, and can talk to you at above your pay grade in Life about a variety of topics, especially if science, technology, or law is involved. So we are two harmonious nerds who really need to get out more, is what I'm saying.

But spe…