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Showing posts from January, 2014

Movie Review: Red 2 (2013)

Grab the popcorn and suspend your disbelief -- the retirees are back, and they're just as outrageous this time around. The first film was a blast and so is this one. Red 2 is a tongue-in-cheek action fest that uses the predictable plot as a frame for over-the-top shootings, chases, and stunts. The only jarring part was the comic-style scene/location transitions, which I found terrifying in the sequel because of the way the humans looked. Red just had postcards. It goes to show: don't change the formula!

Bruce Willis, Dame Helen Mirren, and John Malkovich are back as the Retired, Extremely Dangerous folks who regularly beat up anyone foolish enough to take them on. Mary-Louise Parker is still around as Frank's (Willis) girlfriend Sarah, and she does a great job of being girlishly enthusiastic without being annoying. A running gag in the film is how everyone -- from Malkovich's unhinged Marvin to a corpse-dissolving Victoria (Mirren) to Frank's old nemesis played by…

Book Review: Band of Brothers (1992)

I picked up this paper (!) book after Fragrant Husband's earnest recommendations. "You should see the HBO mini-series," he added. After reading the late Stephen E. Ambrose's very person-driven history of Easy Company in World War II, I will definitely check out more of the TV show (I've seen episode 1 so far, and it's good).

Easy (or E) Company, of the 101st Airborne Division, was born in 1942 and existed for three years. In those three years, the young men who volunteered (often motivated by the bonus pay and the perception that the Airborne was composed of the best) underwent absolutely grueling ordeals. Their initial training alone was brutal, under the strict and almost tyrannical Captain Sobel (played by David Schwimmer on the show). But Ambrose, here exploiting the privilege of the historian, emphasizes the results of Sobel's otherwise hated methods: the men of Easy Company were in superb physical condition, bonded tightly together in their shared …

Book Review: Alias Grace (1996)

There's a lot to love in Alias Grace, Margaret Atwood's take on a historical figure in 1800s Canada. In 1843, Grace Marks and James McDermott were tried and sentenced for the murders of their employer and his housekeeper. James got the noose; pretty 16-year-old Grace got life in the asylum.

The author develops Grace through Grace's own vivid accounts, letters about Grace sent by other characters, and third-person narratives used for Dr. Simon Jordan, who seeks to unlock her memory. Grace claims amnesia when it comes to the actual killings. 
Atwood excels at descriptions, and the sheer detail and clearness of Grace's story as she tells it to Dr. Jordan is at odds with her lack of memory during the crucial moments that led to her imprisonment. Atwood also doesn't use quotation marks whenever Grace holds the perspective, so it's unclear whether she's thinking or speaking. In other words, Grace is a superbly unreliable narrator. 
The novel unfolds masterfully.…

Game Review: Ys: Memories of Celceta (PS Vita)

According to Hardcore Gaming 101's intimidatingly detailed descriptions, Ys: Memories of Celceta is actually a remake of a 1993 PC game. Both contain similar story elements and characters, but obviously, the Vita version is much prettier to look at and has pimp sound.

As with all Ys games, the lead is Adol Christin, whose red hair is so unusual that pink-haired and blue-haired people remark upon it. Adol also happens to be a very talented swordsman, so even though the events of Memories of Celceta occur when he's a mere stripling of 18, players will have no problem dispatching various malformed creatures that drop gold and valuable materials when they die. As a bonus, sometimes their defeated corpses remain on the ground for you to pummel further for MOAR STUFF. Because RPG.

The game has an interesting introduction: Adol is seen wandering tiredly in a town before he passes out. It turns out he's lost his memories, and the last thing he did before becoming an amnesiac was …

Being a DINK

DINKs – Dual Income, No Kids – are targets for luxury items!
Why, yes, I have been perusing the Williams-Sonoma catalog and mulling the purchase of a $300 oven mitt with my initials monogrammed in nanotube-coated spider silk that monitors my pulse while I bake. Look, it’s only $400 to have my entire name on it! I shall get full value by including all of my progenitors’ last names since 1901. I may have to customize my order into oven shoulder mitts…for…let’s see…$699.99! What a steal!
Meanwhile, Fragrant Husband is creating a budget for his future purchase of a chocolate brown (must be exact same shade as Sheba’s fur) Tesla Model S with built-in Hot Air Popper and Scarlett Johansson-approved SodaStream so he can eat healthy popcorn and drink fruity carbonated beverages while suavely zipping through red lights to make it on time to his next client meeting.
Alas, for this purchase I fear we may both have to make sacrifices, such as not having dinner every day at Davio’s or the Four Se…

Venus in Fur

Last night a bunch of us went to watch Venus in Fur written by David Ives, who in the program is posing like his hands are a waffle cone and his face is a scoop of ice cream. He adapted the play from the "notorious" 1870 tract, Venus im Pelz, created by Austrian Leopold von Sacher-Masoch. Von Sacher-Masoch's name is the origin of the term "masochism," so no, the book is not about unicorns and puppies. It's about a man who wants to be dominated and the woman who does so.

The play is a riot. It's often hilarious and at times uncomfortable. Venus in Fur only has two characters: Thomas (Chris Kipiniak) the playwright and director, and Vanda (Andrea Syglowski) the actress. Despite taking a play-within-a-play structure, the premise is straightforward: Thomas has adapted the play Venus in Fur and has just finished auditioning for the main female role of Vanda. He is displeased with the low quality of the actresses who came in. He is about to storm off when a …

"That's Disgusting:" A True Train Tale

The following occurred on the first Friday of 2014, on the Orange Line T (one of Boston's subway lines).

Station of Origin

Got on train and stood beside row of seats. Man on seat closest to me is holding on to an orange suitcase. The woman across from him is holding a suitcase, too.

Suddenly, man gets up, walks over to the woman, spits in her eye, and sits back down.

"Really?" the woman asks furiously as she wipes her eye. "Really?"

I assume that they know each other and are fighting.

"I have never been spit on before in my life," the woman continues. "And by a stranger!"

Scratch that, they do not know each other, this man is disturbed and continuing the fine Boston tradition of spitting on people in public transportation. Fortunately, it is cold so I have my turtleneck covering half my face, thus reducing the surface area for targeting if he decides to spit some more.

"What's wrong with you?" the woman asks. He grips his suitc…