Wednesday, November 27, 2013

I watched these because I wanted to: November Edition

Short thoughts on some of the movies I've seen so far in November! Another post with more will be coming up next week.

Pontypool - I've seen this before, and I like it just as much  now as I did then. Lots of suspense, an interesting twist on typical "Zombie" type movies. It's not really even that, but that's the best way I can think of to describe it. Infection movie might be more accurate? It's an incredibly small movie cast wise and was almost certainly done on a pretty low budget, but you never really feel that. There are only 4 total people acting in it, with on main additional voice on the phone and some misc people calling in. Set in a very small, rural Canadian town during a snow storm and Trouble Happens outside. Very fun!

Robot and Frank - a pretty adorable buddy... uh... caper? Movie. About an old, retired thief and his helper robot. Surprisingly sweet and touching. In the future we have robot maids/butlers/helpers/companions that are pretty advanced and are programmed to do a wide variety of things. An older, retired thief gets one gifted to him by his frustrated and guilt fueled son in an effort to make sure he's taken care of and also to lighten his own load in taking care of him.

The Last Will & Testament of Rosalind Leigh - This was unexpected and different. Very moody, you should watch it with your full attention (I didn't, and feel like it suffered because of that) I watched it while distracted by a variety of things and missed a lot of the moody, subtle, compelling bits of atmosphere and gloom. The basic story is that a guys mother dies and he goes back to her home to tie up loose ends. I suggest watching this with all the lights off and putting away your phone.

Serenity - This was not my first time seeing this, but they were having a showing at the Alamo Drafthouse and how could I not? It was super fun to easy again on the big screen with a big group of people that really wanted to see this. If you haven't already seen this well you're weird and me explaining it won't convince you otherwise.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Coming Clean: A Memoir

Extraneous books get their own post! Why? Because I said.


Coming Clean: A Memoir – By Kimberly Rae Miller


This is yet another memoir (I seem to be really into those these days!) and was also written by a blogger I’ve been reading for YEARS. I read a lot of blogs and hardly ever comment on them, but I think I’ve made an exception for hers before. It’s a pretty good blog that’s sort of fitness/healthy eating orientated but it has a lot of personality and slice of life stuff. She’s always seen like a relatable person and one that I would enjoy hanging out with. She fairly recently got engaged so yay to that! Anyhow, moving on.


This story is mostly about her childhood and what it was like living with a hoarder father and the toll it took on her growing up and the ways it still impacts her today. It was really shocking when she announced what it was about because this was something she kept very much a secret even from the people close to her. Even as an adult she was still trying to deal with this as there were many times she would have to help her parents clean/organize so they could move again or in one case when her mom got incredibly sick. These were things she mentioned in passing, almost casually, on her blog but in this book we find out about the chaos behind the scenes.


If you have any interest in what it’s like living with a hoarder this is definitely worth reading. Well written, eye opening, and compelling. It’s amazing what you get used to and the ways you can adapt to deal with whatever problems you’re facing. I have a lot of respect for her and the way she both chose to handle writing about this and for the incredibly love and patience she seems to still have for her parents, when some people would have just thrown in the towel. I would recommend this book to just about anyone.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

I really should be watching Bridge on the River Kwai: November Edition Part 2

More November movies for you! I've been watching quite a few.

I just realized I skipped one from October. Oops! I think I listed it but didn't go into it, so here's that.
The Woman Who Wasn't There - incredibly fascinating and gripping documentary about a woman that survived the terrorist attacks on 9/11. Except... she didn't. The subject matter is incredibly interesting, the woman in question bizarre and inexplicable, and the way that the documentary itself is presented is fun to watch.

Now, onward to November!

Prisoners - A pretty intense movie, great acting all the way around, very brutal and dark. The Basics: Two little girls get kidnapped, and this details how each of the families deal with the stress, grief, helplessness and impotence that such a situation creates. Outstanding performances by Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhal. Not really what you'd expect and some interesting roads are taken. Worth watching but keep in mind it is a very dark and brutal movie.

Jarhead - This is one of those movies I've been meaning to watch for a long time. Stumbled across it on Hulu one night and decided to give it a shot. It stars Jake Gyllenhal as a man that decides to join the Marines. He gets thrust into the role of a sniper and then partially through his tour of duty Desert Storm happens. It gives a fascinating look into the lives and minds of member of the military and the special bonds and heartbreaks associated with it. I don't know how authentic it is but it certainly feels real.

Burn - A documentary about Detroit firefighters. This was pretty well done and interesting to boot. People with Crazy Jobs always fascinate me. Firefighters, military, police officers, bodyguards, etc. In addition to learning about what it's like as a firefighter you also learn a fair amount about the city of Detroit itself and the unique problems and issues they have with regards to abandoned buildings, homeless populations, and fires. Totally worth a watch!

Don't Stop Believin: Everyman's Journey - perhaps only interesting if you're a fan of Journey? I found it really interesting as I AM a big fan of Journey and it's neat to be able to see what has happened since Steve Perry left. They had one replacement Other Steve for 9 years but evidently his vocal chords up and gave up. One of the band members, Noah, took to scouring YouTube, of all places, for a singer and stumbled across this guy Arnel from the Philippines. An absolute dead ringer for Steve Perry and it's a very compelling story to watch unfold. Can you even imagine???

Donnie Darko: Not my first watch, felt like seeing this for some reason? It holds up, I think, but I'm not sure how'd I would feel if watching it for the first time now. If I watched it for the first time as a 29 year old I might not like it as much as I did when I was in my early 20s and watching it for the first time.  Another Jake Gyllenhal movie. 3 in one month! Goodness. Not obsessed, I promise.

I might be missing something? Hrmmm.

Monday, November 18, 2013

November LOLS

These aren’t really movies, per se, but here are a few stand up specials that I’ve seen recently!


Marc Maron: Thinky Pain – If you like the neurotic style of comedy this is pretty good for that. It’s fairly long, over 90 minutes I think, and he’s either shooting from the hip or is trying to see like he is, if that makes sense. If you’re a fan of that style, it’s pretty decent. Not a whole lot of laughing moments, but it was interesting to listen to regardless. It felt more like a therapy session than anything else, and the stories he told were enjoyable to listen to if nothing else.



Dan Cummins: Crazy with a Capital F – I’ve heard a lot of his stuff on my Pandora comedy station, it’s okay? Not a lot of laugh out loud moments. He talks about parenthood and other stuff. I’m not sure how I’d classify his style. He’s not super edgy, in your face, or loud. He doesn’t have a shtick, he just is sort of your everyman with a slight misanthropic bent? He has some bits about being a parent that are probably more authentic and relatable than a lot of comedy in that vein is. He doesn’t sugar coat it or attempt to glamorize it.



Aziz Ansari: Buried Alive – If you like Aziz, this was pretty typical for his stuff. I enjoyed it a lot.  He’s less zany than he has been in the past, I think largely due to the fact that he’s getting older, and his stuff was really easy for me to relate to, being that we are about the same age. He has some really funny things to say about dating and relationships in this era (and OkCupid in particular) and he does it all in a really funny way. Totally worth watching!


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Update the Third: The Updatening

Not going to be much of an update this month! I haven't been... spectacular about following much of anything. I would blame the holidays but honestly I think it's just ennui. That being said, I did manage to accomplish a couple of things:

New places:
Jersey Joe's: a cute little sandwich shop. Good sub, nothing spectacular to write home about but decent enough and on my way home. I believe I got the Italian sub
Cindy's NY Deli: very good, a place I've been wanting to try! Inexpensive, large portions, and very delicious. I believe I had the... um.. salami open faced sandwich?
Strangeways: a very neat, dark, interesting divey bar. It's way out of my way but I would love to go back.

Books:  I feel like I'm forgetting something, but we did Handmaid's Tale for bookclub October (November was kind of a disaster because I got fed up with Maps and Legends, a book of essays by Michael Chabon... let's not go there.)

A Year of Biblical Womanhood - I got pretty bored by this, I thought it would be interesting to read about a (Christian) woman trying to follow biblical ideals of being a woman but it turns out? Nope.

Voluntary Madness - Norah Vincent, the same woman that wrote She's the Man decides to spend a few months trying out different mental health facilities. It was... interesting. I feel like at times she was too critical/had too high expectations and she even agreed with that, pointing out that she didn't have any better solutions for the problems she brought up. Worth a read if the mental health field interests you in anyway!

I think that's really all I have update wise! It's not nothing, I guess.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Leeds United

So, I had the opportunity a bit ago to see Amanda Palmer in concert. It was a very small venue benefiting Girl Power or some such? Some local organization that is supposed to serve as a positive encouragement for young girls of the community. It was a very small space, not even really a concert space, and there weren't a whole lot of people there. Unknown to me they also had an open bar (????!!!!!!) I don't know how that's possible, but there you go.

The concert itself was amazing. I've been a fan of her work for awhile but never seen her in concert and she is amazingly, shockingly gorgeous in person (pictures do NOT do her justice at all) and her singing voice is just as lovely. It was just her, no other band mates. She had her ukulele and there was a piano onstage. She did a pretty decently long set, mostly just taking requests and playing what she could. At one point an audience requested Making Whoopie and she came out into the crowd to sing it to him and his lady friend, who were directly in front of me! So that was cool.

It was an absolutely lovely concert, she's incredibly talented and kind and genuine. I think a lot of that sometimes might get lost in her online presence or perhaps come across as calculated or manufactured but she absolutely seems to really feel and believe in all of those things. It gave me a lot of renewed respect for her as both a person and an artist. A++++ would concert again.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Cowboys only come out at Midnight

So. This is an interesting movie! From all the way back to 1969 we've got Midnight Cowboy. The story of a small town man from Texas (played with great aplomb by Jon Voight) that moves to New York City because he (literally) wants to become a male escort. While there, he befriends a slimy little grifter played by Dustin Hoffman.

Now, first of all, Hoffman and Voight knocked it out of the park here. Voight was basically the very definition of "Oh, bless his heart" with his bumbling naivety and ineffectual attempts to navigate life in a city that swallows up even the most hardened people. Hoffman is incredible as a street smart, but otherwise pretty dim, sickly, limping, con artist.

The story is perhaps typical, and certainly by this point played out, but it's still a heartbreaking joy to see it played out on the screen. New York City is shown as both dingy and glitzy. Harry Nilsson's "Everybody's Talkin" is played repeatedly to great effect. Directed well by a man with a long career, but nothing that would nearly rise to these great heights. Part of that can perhaps by attributed to the source material. A book of the same name written in 1965 by James Leo Herlihy.

For a movie that was rated X (!!!) at the time, it is surprisingly light on anything inappropriate. At least to modern eyes. The X rating was in fact awarded due to the "homosexual frame of reference". Two years after it was originally released it was granted an "R" rating without any changes being made.  It was an interesting movie made more so but the lack of tying everything up in a neat little bow or attempting to give everyone a happy ending. Life is bleak, at times, and it's nice to sometimes have movies that (mostly) reflect that.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Things I watched, mostly in October (though really, who knows)

Movies that I watched in October and didn’t get around to posting about. There are a lot so I’ll keep the reviews short!


Gravity – it’s difficult to put this movie into words. It’s too late for this but it was absolutely worth seeing this in IMAX 3D. Heartbreaking, heart STOPPING and incredibly beautiful to look at. Just watch this one, okay? Seriously good stuff.


For a Good Time Call – this was okay. It seems like it was trying to be a subversion of tropes, rom com clichés, and a modern day feminist tale but it really turned out to be all of those things it tried to avoid and was partially unsuccessful in what it tried to accomplish. If you don’t take it too seriously it’s fine.


Tent City – A great and eye opening documentary about a group of homeless people in the south that live(d) in a large outdoor area known as Tent City. Goes into a lot of what the homeless population has to deal with, the stigmas attached and so on. Very well done and worth a watch.

The Woman Who Wasn’t There


RIPD – This was basically lambasted by reviewers and viewers alike. I can understand the problems they have with it, but I found it inoffensive and mostly enjoyable. Of course, I didn’t pay to watch it so there’s that. There are worse ways to spend 90 minutes of your time, for sure.

Skeleton Key – If you like Haunted House/Ghost/Possession type stories this is relatively decent. It’s not necessarily any of those things, but those are the best descriptions that I can think of for what it actually is. Pretty moody and atmospheric. Not the best but good for being what it is.

Trick R Treat – not sure if I posted this one or not, this was a special Halloween rewatch. A very fun and enjoyable Anthology type movie with three stories that all loosely tie together. The going ons that happen in a small town on Halloween. Scary, funny, cute, and well written!



Monday, November 4, 2013

Oh Sure Bro

One of the items on my list was to write letters of thanks. Which, yeah. I know. It sounds pretty hokey. BUT it's a way of *barf* putting positive energy out into the universe. People like to know that they're appreciated and this is one way to let them know as such. It doesn't time more than a bit of time and a few pennies to buy a stamp.

I made a list of various people that I would like to express my appreciation to and at the top of the list was a little something you may or may not have heard of. Uhh Yeah Dude. UYD is a podcast I've been listening to since late 2007 or early 2008. The description of the show is "American through the eyes of two American Americans." Or sometimes "Saving America from herself." It features two hosts, Jonathan Laroquette (yes relation!) and Seth Romatelli.

Jonathan is a mid 30s native Angelino with a father almost all of you would know. He is many things, a rastifarian, a dog lover, a musician. He's in an electronic band with his friend Amir and they go by the name Jogger. Seth is newly 40 and has lived in LA for 18 years now. He was born and raised in Haverhill, MA (a suburb of Boston) and has been sober for a decade. He came out here to act and has had a few gigs here and there. His day job (so to speak) is at a medical mj facility.

The podcast started in Feb of 2006 and just recently released episode 389. With very few exceptions they have put out a podcast every single week in the nearly 8 years since they started. It is almost exclusively Jdawg and Sethro. A handful of times while J has been out touring or otherwise occupied Seth brought on his mother, Marcia, to cohost. On at least one occasion, possibly two, they also called up Jonathans dad for a short moment. Mostly though, it's the two of them.

They discuss pop culture, current (popular) news stories, local or more obscure news stories, and share personal events from the present or past life. It's been almost perfectly golden the entire run, but most people agree that in the 60s it really ramps up, and in the 100-120s it is firing on all cylinders. Despite the fact that they do sometimes talk about major news and pop culture, it rarely feels dated and an episode from 4 years ago could just as easily have come from 3 months ago. The chemistry, love, and friendship between Seth and J are second to none and a major part of what makes the show so great.

They also have an impression amount of interaction with their fans. In addition to the usual facebook, twitter, email, instagram, etc they also have an 800 number that Seth listens to personally and often calls back listeners, and Jonathan has his own personal cell number that he uses to text or phone fans. For a good 5 years he gave out his number on every show for fans to contact on, but due to a series of events he had to get a new number. He has given out his new one on a couple of episodes, but it's no longer common knowledge and he doesn't encourage contact that way (though neither does he DIScourage it either.) Seth has also let it be known that he is "in the book" meaning phone book and sure enough, he is! Phone number and address are readily available and if you call he will answer and chat if he's free. I feel a little weird about doing that, even if he is okay with it!

Boy howdy, I'm ramblin'. ANYWAY. Sep 20th was his 40th birthday and last month I decided to write him a letter/send him a card to celebrate this fact. It included a big, multi section, 3D western card, a couple page letter, and some random cowboys swag. I wrote that nearly two months ago now, and the very night I went home and discovered that for the first time in the history of ever, they'd be doing a live show in Dallas! I was thrilled beyond words and immediately bought two tickets. It still took me nearly a month to MAIL the dang thing, but it indeed made it in time for his birthday.

Imagine my shock, when a few days afterwards, I received my OWN mail from Seth. It's glorious and wonderful. A few days before the show was scheduled (11/03) I also called the voicemail to wish him luck and a safe trip. A few hours later he actually CALLED ME BACK but despite the phone literally being inches away from me I missed the call due to it being on silent. UGH. On one hand, I'm super disappointed, but on the other, I'm a little relieved! Who knows what I would have said to him!!! Ugh, so awkward.

The actual show was pretty freaking awesome. They started a little late, and I was in the beginning stages of food poisoning, but it was so very cool. Seth wore a Cowboys hoodie and was clearly pretty thrilled about seeing them the next day. I stood in the merch line only to be heartbroken by the fact that they only took cash. I stupidly had none on me and I was too flustered to properly formulate a game plan to get some. I was able to meet and take pictures with both of them, as well as get my ticket signed. I was so over the moon. You guys! So excited. I really hope I'm able to see them again in the future. I need to also call the VM and ask Seth how he liked the game! He didn't even discuss it. For shaaaaaaaaaame.

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