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Showing posts from June, 2014

Movie Review: Maleficent (2014)

Once upon a time, in a land of computer graphics, lived a human-sized fairy with an impressive wingspan. She was Maleficent. One day, she persuaded some baby Ents to release a human boy caught trespassing into their land and stealing. The boy, Stefan, confessed that he lived in a barn and had no parents. Then they went to shake hands, but his iron ring hurt the fairy, so he threw it away. This is an important plot point.

Maleficent was touched, and she and Stefan remained friends over the years. But alas, the eeeeevil king who ruled the non-fairies decided to attack the moors, at which point Maleficent, the baby Ents, and other woodland creatures from Guillermo del Toro Lite Studios (TM) squished the heck out of his army. Defeated but still dickish, the king promised his kingdom and daughter to whoever slew Maleficent.

Lesson 1: Monarchical systems of government are only good if you're the monarch.

Stefan went into the Moors and roofied Maleficent. Instead of killing her, he cut …

Movie Review: How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014)

How to Train Your Dragon 2 starts out gorgeous and rapidly upgrades to magical. It's a testament to the skill and vision of DreamWorks, whose teams crafted a story that's pleasing to the eyes, ears, and heartstrings. In this movie, they created truly impressive visuals that look like the lovechild of Studio Ghibli, Legend of Zelda, and Final Fantasy.

Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) has become a respected young man who's being tapped to replace his father, Stoick the Vast (Gerald Butler), as leader of their village. Conflicted, Hiccup takes to the skies with Toothless, where he and Astrid (America Ferrera) discover dragon hunters who think they're working with the mysterious Dragon Rider. The hunters are helping to build a dragon army for the vicious Drago (Djimon Hounsou), and Hiccup goes after him, determined to keep the peace.

Naturally, he meets the Dragon Rider, who is initially like Mononoke-hime but without the biting. This is where the animation truly shines -- the Dragon…

Oscar: A Eulogy

Oscar was a very handsome cat who lived to be 20 years old, due to his mixed ancestry of Norwegian Forest cat, gray wolf, jaguar, and crankiness. This post is a celebration of his very full life and the joy and terror he brought whenever he came into sight.

Oscar was a large kitty. The picture above shows the contrast between Sheba with room to spare in a bed, and Oscar spilling out of the same bed. In his prime, Oscar weighed 20 pounds. Being the same size as a small dog, he was utterly fearless and once claimed victory over a chocolate Labrador.

Another doglike quality Oscar had was his love of water. Or perhaps his jaguar ancestry sang in his veins. Whatever the reason, it was not unusual to find him actively trying to join a preferred human in the shower, or just hanging out in the tub, possibly plotting the demise of the unwashed and unwary.

Oscar's favorite water fountain was the sink. Legend speaks of his curling up in the guest bathroom sink during a party and remaining a…

Movie Review: Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

Edge of Tomorrow, based off Hiroshi Sakurazaka's 2004 novel All You Need is Kill (available now on Kindle for only $6.99!), is a sci-fi military time loop adventure that succeeds because of its internal consistency, terrific graphics and soundtrack, and the charisma of its two leads. It also combines moments of levity with a grim look at what repeatedly reliving war does to someone.

Plot: Five years into an invasion by silicon-based aliens called Mimics, smarmy US officer Major William Cage (Tom Cruise) is sent to the front lines wearing the latest technology credited with allowing soldiers with minimal training to defeat the enemy. The poster child for the suits--called "Jackets" in the novel--is Rita Vratasky (Emily Blunt), a veteran called "The Angel of Verdun," aka The Full Metal Bitch. Cage manages to kill one of the enemy during the fighting, and dies in the process. Then he wakes up yesterday, before his deployment, and has to relive that day and the bat…

San Francisco!

Fragrant Husband and I went to awesome San Francisco last week to take a little time off from Massholes and psychotic spring weather. We went there for the express purpose of celebrating a dear friend's 30th birthday ("I'm turning into an adult!" she declared. Millenials can be so cute.).
Despite having only one thing on the agenda, our days and nights quickly filled up, mostly because we have friends who are wise and live there. Here are some fun, non-touristy things to do in the City of Fog and Weed, or whatever San Francisco calls itself:
1. Go to a drag show Specifically, go to AsiaSF, where the drag queens are my people (Pinays) and are built like Greek goddesses, the bastards. You get a delicious three-course meal and several ladies lip-syncing and dancing on the bar in between your appetizer, entree, and dessert. The emcee encouraged everyone to drink up: "Remember, the drunker you are, the prettier we'll look!" ...But seriously, one of them (Amb…

Game Review: Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood (PS3)

Renaissance Assassin Ezio Auditore picks up right where he left off from Assassin's Creed II: older, wiser, deadlier, and with the mysterious Apple of Eden in his possession. Alas, all good things must end. A new villain soon appears to get the plot moving, and players are plunged into a world of assassinations and near-death experiences via newfangled inventions such as cannons, wall guns (muskets), and whatever Leonardo da Vinci has been cooking up.

Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood is aptly titled because the group that helped Ezio in his previous outing is now more organized and crucial to the story. Granted, the story is basically an extended find-and-retrieve mission, which is probably why developers piled on a metric ton of extras. Foremost among these is the ability to recruit and train ordinary citizens and send them on missions to raise them to the level of Assassin. This fulfills two functions: it earns Ezio money, and lets you kill guards without getting your hands dir…