Jurassic World as a Theme Park

WARNING: It is impossible to discuss this topic without giving away key plot points and developments in the movie. Do not proceed if you’re concerned about spoilers.

Following our viewing of Jurassic World, DH and I both desperately wanted to hear our favorite theme park logistics/planning enthusiasts’ take on it. I tweeted to @lentesta and @jimhillmedia posthaste to request a podcast. But, while they’re considering that request, I wanted to give my own thoughts about Jurassic World as a theme park, as depicted in Jurassic World the movie. Also, I should note that I’m writing largely based on what I saw in the movie, but I did reference the spectacular website for Jurassic World for some details and data points. I also want to note that I use a lot of promo photos from the movie (ones that were part of the press park made freely available on their website) in this review. Those are all owned/created by the movie, not by me, and I’m using them here for criticism purposes only.

Who Would Go?

Jurassic World is located on an island, the fictional Isla Nublar, west of Costa Rica (how far west varies by movie, and Jurassic World does make clear that this is supposed to be the same island as the ones from previous Jurassic Park movies). Travel to that destination is going to require a passport and a fairly expensive flight for most of the world population. (It always bothered me how the prior JP movies, when panicking about escape, would talk about dinosaurs wandering around San Diego, when the closest region would be Costa Rica. Do we only care if they make it to the US? Seems like just about any of the flying species could end up at Costa Rica with little trouble, much less the many nearby islands in that region. But, I digress…) Additionally, there’s a ferry and/or separate flight to get to Isla Nublar (depending on the movie). In Jurassic World, it’s a park-sponsored ferry from Costa Rica.

I don’t think they explicitly mention a park admission ticket price in the movie (though I could be wrong), but I think it’s reasonable to guess that a park that offers a ferry ride to its off-coast site and is the only park in the world to have live dinosaurs would garner an admission ticket in the $2-300 range for adults. Add in what is probably a $800 flight, plus staying at what seems to be the only on-site hotel ($600+ a night I’m sure), and this a trip out of the range of most families. Thus, we can make some assumptions that the guests at JW are well-off world travelers.

Park Size

Jurassic World explicitly mentions 20,000 guests being present on the day the movie takes place. We’re also told that this is a time when kids are out of school, and it seems to be summer. That means Jurassic World should be seeing peak or near peak attendance, though the implication is that this is a Thursday, so maybe low peak. So, let’s figure that 20K is perhaps 60% of capacity, making the actual capacity around 35K.

Disneyland (not all of DLR, just Disneyland) hits capacity at 40K, roughly. Disneyland Resort has an 85K capacity. Magic Kingdom caps at roughly 100K. But, if we look at more zoo-like parks, SeaWorld Orlando is around 40K. Animal Kingdom is around 50K (though it can be argued that the attractions can’t support its functional capacity). So, this is in the ballpark, but it seems like Jurassic World is under-sized, particularly since it was built in the present with the movie taking place in the comparable “near future”. (There are plenty of technologies having nothing to do with dinosaurs shown in the movie that are not currently achievable as shown, but they’re likely achievable in the near future.) Then again, it may be that with the prohibitive cost they need to charge to meet their needs and the cost of travel, they anticipate a smaller available audience.

But…putting that aside, we see crowds shown in the movie that seem to indicate a) that Jurassic World is actually operating at or near peak on this day and b) that the attendance is higher than 20K. The one that stands out the most is the arena that we see for the water dinosaur demonstration (with the awesome stands that descend below the water level for a different view during the show):

Jurassic World: Mosasaur Arena

That arena in and of itself is shown holding nearly 20K of people. To give a proportion, 20K is less than half a Sounders game’s average attendance. Unless the entire park empties and that’s a once a day show, the number of people we see in the movie is far past the number quoted as attendance. So, it’s also possible that Jurassic World is much larger, and the 20K number is bogus.

(The interesting part is that it almost seems like 20K was a reasonable number to give, but the set/CGI designers then showed us stuff that didn’t fit that model, which is perhaps not surprising.)

Note: After doing all of this ballparking, I found the website for Jurassic World which has a handy park capacity graph right on it that let me back into the actual park capacity, which is approximately 31K. So…ha. 🙂 They were at 64% capacity, so my guess of a 60%ish capacity is spot on. Go me!

The Guests

The guests we see are mostly American, and communication throughout the park seems to be in English. While you can make a case that I can’t judge that easily, there’s one scene where a line of attendees gets ticked off that an attraction is closed where their American-ness is very apparent. Given the park’s location, their primary attendance will be from Brazil, which has plenty of affluent park enthusiasts. There should be signage in a few languages. Even EuroDisney has signage in both English and French.

That we didn’t see a single Brazilian tour group (nor any tour groups) is patently unrealistic, as any WDW frequent attendee will confirm. It, like the San Diego references I mentioned earlier, is a reflection of how US-centric this movie is rather than any reality of what you’d see in a true Jurassic World theme park. (The website actually further reinforces this observation.)

Some realism though was in the guests’ reactions when a ride went down (ready to mob the worker there) and the guests watching the Mosasaurus feeding who insisted on standing up for no good goddamn reason and blocking everyone’s view.

What they did not include that they should have: kids crying out of exhaustion and frustration (rather than because a pterodactyl ate their mom), selfie sticks (maybe they’re banned?), people holding up their phones/iPads/whatever during every single freaking attraction/show to video it for later perusal.

Sponsorships/Brands

They nailed this one. Every theme park these days is flooded with sponsored attractions and brand name shops. The ones I noticed on the “main street” of Jurassic World were Brookstone, Pandora, and Margaritaville. (There’s also a fake restaurant called Winston’s Steakhouse. You can view the fake restaurant menu on the website.) The research hall being sponsored by Samsung felt familiar as well, and we hear that Verizon Wireless might be sponsoring the Indominus Rex (ha! Figures!). What’s fun here is that it serves two purposes: realism and actual paid placement in the movie. I also wonder how much of the store presence was influenced by shops that have deals with Universal Studios theme parks.

Attractions

Per the website, there are 20 attractions. (Oddly, a “water park” is a single attraction, and the golf course is counted as an attraction. The monorail is relegated to a utility, like restrooms.) In the movie, we see a few, but most notably, we see the Gyrosphere:

Jurassic World: Gyrosphere

I have a major nitpick with the Gyrosphere. A key plot point of the movie is that the Gyrosphere is closed because of the escaping Indominus Rex while the 2 kids are out exploring. The kids get a notice that the ride is closed and that they should return. And then they proceed to keep exploring in the gyrosphere anyways, even rolling right outside the walls of the attraction. No. Just no. This makes no sense at all. For this Gyrosphere ride to have any sort of realistic throughput, it must have a time limit on exploration. There is no such thing as a “stay as long as you like” attraction in a major theme park that isn’t walk-through. Thus, by design, the Gyrosphere must have some kind of “bring vehicle home” control/command, or else that ride would be screwed. Not to mention that, according to the website, the Gyrosphere notices when you’re close to dinosaurs and moves you back to a safe distance, but in the movie, we see it clearly not doing that. That feature also implies that the kids would not have been able to drive it out of the fenced area. Most likely, the vehicle would be set to either auto-home if driven outside the area or turn off entirely within some short distance of the ride area. This one thing totally bothered me while watching. Thankfully, while it’s a key plot point, it also doesn’t last very long. They seriously could have fixed it just by having the ride person or even the Jimmy Fallon ride video note their “VIP bracelets” when they got on and say, “Oh, you’re VIPs. I’ve set your gyro for unlimited exploration. Stay as long as you like.”

Speaking of the Fallon ride video, while it was a bit over the top, it did hit home in terms of the inevitably corny videos telling you the safety information for a ride or touting the ride’s features.

I also wanted to call out the Mosasaurus feeding arena feature of the stands moving up and down. That is very cool, and I hope it’s in a concept list for some park somewhere, though I’m not sure of the right attraction in a post-Blackfish world.

On-Site Hotel/Day Visiting

The movie showed only one hotel, but the website says there’s two on-site hotels at different tiers. What isn’t clear from the movie or the website is how often the ferry runs. If the ferry is running with enough frequency (and enough boats for “rope drop” capacity) for day trippers from the mainland, evacuating the island shouldn’t have been nearly the problem it was shown to be. OTOH, if the expectation (and perhaps the ticket price) assumes you’ll stay at an on-site hotel for 1+ nights, the ferry may only run a few times a day. The ferry we saw looked like a 1500 capacity ferry. Just based on that, I’m guessing they have a fleet of perhaps 10 ferries and they typically operate 3 or so (1 loading at each port, one or two in transit), with the full 10 being used for the most common transportation times in one direction only.

Competition

The implication is that this is the only dinosaur park…still…even though it’s been running long enough that people are bored by dinosaurs (that they can only see at this one park in the whole damn world). For the record, I don’t buy for a second that people are bored by dinosaurs and thus attendance is dropping. People aren’t bored by freaking Space Mountain yet, and it’s been around for many decades and isn’t a giant-ass dinosaur. Jurassic World needs to learn about making tiny changes from Disney. They could just add a new track to the monorail and bump attendance rather than creating a whole new dinosaur.

Anyways, back to the topic…competition. I further don’t buy that not a single competitor park has opened somewhere else in the world. Wouldn’t it have been more believable that Jurassic World was creating Indominus Rex because “Dinosaur Land” was going to open off the coast of Taipei that fall with more space and more dinos and they needed to give a reason for people to keep coming to their smaller park?

Evacuation/Emergency Handling

This theme park has been operating for years. You cannot tell me that they have not needed to evacuate before now. It’s an island off the coast of Costa Rica. Have they never had a major storm coming in? No earthquakes? Heck, a super-cell thunderstorm would be enough to shut down their ferry service and thus a reason that they’d want to get guests off the island in advance of its occurrence. Among the many things I don’t buy, I don’t buy that they would have had so much trouble evacuating or handling a shutdown. As mentioned up above, they probably need a 10-ferry fleet to handle park open and close traffic. 10 ferries could have gotten most of that 20K of people off the island in a matter of hours. We’re fed that the COO (or director of Ops or whatever she was) doesn’t want to evacuate because of a fear that people won’t come back. Bullshit. Cruise ships have people going in droves, despite all the problems they’ve had. Disneyland had a measles outbreak. The big thing that COO would have to worry about is someone dying, not people being forced to leave due to a temporary and unexplained closure. Besides, as mentioned, given their location and mostly outdoors attractions, they would have to shut down due to weather periodically. They could have just messaged the park guests that a storm was coming in and they were advising everyone to a) return to their hotel room or b) get on the ferry. Then, start shutting down attractions, and believe me, people will leave. Guests do not hang around a park when everything is shut down. They do not sit down all over main street (as was shown). They queue up for the transportation (ferries) or go to their on-site hotel. Some of them might have flooded the restaurants.

It bums me out that the COO, who was shown as incredibly competent throughout, ended up seeming incompetent in service to the plot in two ways, this being one of them. That’s a separate post for another time, though, should I get around to it.

In Closing…

Well, this has been quite an essay. I look forward to Touring Plans‘ Jurassic World edition. In the meantime, if you have any other theme park nitpicks I missed, feel free to post them in the comments. 🙂

Super Bowl Ads (and Pageantry)

Trends noticed in the commercials

  • Dads – I’m sure I won’t be the only one to mention that Dads played a prominent role in this year’s commercials.  From Nissan to Dove to Toyota, the message seemed to be that guys should be Dads.  While I don’t like the idea that men have to have children to somehow become well-adjusted (or non-abusive), I suppose this is a step up from prior years’ messages that men should be sexist, crude, and wholly materialistic.
  • Going above a bar that was set artificially low – Speaking of slightly better messaging, Weight Watchers and GoDaddy both came out with ads that were actually decent.  GoDaddy’s celebrated the small business owner working instead of going out with friends (with his “zero layer dip”), and Weight Watchers pointed out all of the messaging that we should eat more food (and less healthy food).  I particularly liked their message about how you can just stop, except you can’t, because it’s food.  That’s way closer to a HAES message than their usual “you can’t succeed at anything until you’re thin” campaigns.  As for GoDaddy, they had some pre-bowl coverage because of their ad featuring a puppy mill site.  Given that the ad they were parodying (the “Best Buds” ad from last year) also featured a puppy mill, I thought the furor was overwrought.  Still, either with that ad or the one that aired, it’s way above their normal sexist garbage, so good on them.
  • Apps are buying super bowl ads – Not only were a number of “free” apps featured in ads, two of them had celebrities.  The best was the Liam Neeson ad for Clash of Clans, but let’s definitely consider what it means for apps as a media/entertainment source that a) there’s enough awareness/usage to warrant a Super Bowl ad and b) that they can *afford* a Super Bowl ad.
  • Touching voiceovers or music to elevate an ad – This has been happening for a few years, and I’m tired of it. Advertisers: Stop relying on other people’s words to sell your product, particularly when the words/lyrics are very anti-product.  And for crap’s sake, if you’re going to use someone’s speech, credit them, somewhere in the ad.
  • Not being that amazing – Maybe advertising has just gotten so over-the-top normally that Super Bowl ads aren’t that amazing.  You used to see giant budget fiestas.  This year’s selections, while good, don’t really raise the bar for the medium.  This has become more like a trade show for advertising, where they roll out their newest and sparkliest stuff, rather than a show-stopping event.

Other thoughts:

  • Puppy Bowl, Kitten Bowl, and Fish Bowl – They were wonderful.  Fish Bowl, in particular, is a treat to have on.  I’ve got it going while I write this.  There needs to be more “screensaver television”.  I liked that Puppy bowl spent time on the puppies’ history and their adoptive futures.  I also am okay with them blowing off the kitten halftime show, especially since Kitten Bowl exists and does it better.  Also, there were some fun ads in Puppy Bowl, most notably the Super Bowl themed Dear Kitten from Friskies.
  • Katy Perry is a show goddess. – Seriously, she puts on a show like no one else.  I loved every bit of it.
  • The Seahawks lost. – It was fun being in the winning city, but I’m also okay with the fever dying down a bit.  Let’s go, Sounders!  FIGHT AND WIN!

Live Comments (with timestamps): 

  • 4:09pm – Random super bowl commercial/pageantry comment thread here (note that I’m watching on delay to start, I’m sure I’ll catch up soon as I FF past the game)
  • 4:09pm – Yay for Idina Menzel doing the anthem!
  • 4:09pm – Not so happy about the boo-ing of the coach. Yeah, I know about the controversy, but that just seems uncool.
  • 4:13pm – would never have picked John Legend out of a crowd before this. I knew he existed but had no idea what he looked like.
  • 4:14pm – The ASL interpretation of music is pretty awesome.
  • 4:14pm – Aww…it is a sea to sea event! Yay Seattle! Yay Boston!
  • 4:15pm – (yeah things were out of order there b/c I rewound to see the team entrances, having realized I missed them)
  • 4:17pm – Chevy truck ad – Hmm. This is still making women the prize, which I’m not cool with, even though they tried to hide it by having women choose which guy was better.
  • 4:17pm – McDonald’s – I bet the new form of payment is singing. Or dancing. Or proclaiming your love
  • 4:19pm – Jurassic World – OMG, you can put Chris Pratt in anything and I’ll watch, but this seems amazing either way. I miss Jeff Goldblum though.
  • 4:19pm – Chevy Colorado has LTE and Wi-Fi – Nice. On message, and it stood out.
  • 4:20pm – eSurance Lohan – Meh.
  • 4:22pm – Camry – Inspirational Meh.
  • 4:23pm – TurboTax – cute but bugs me that they’re like “free to file”…it’s always free to file. Makes no sense as a value prop.
  • 4:25pm – Game of War – So I’ve been getting bombarded with this on Tumblr. What is the deal with app ads that have live action commercials that are way better than the app is?
  • 4:25pm – Tomorrowland – I have high hopes for this, in part because it’s an area of Disney parks that needs some revitalization, but the commercials/trailers don’t do much for me.
  • 4:26pm – BMW i3 – also meh. But the car looks cool.
  • 4:28pm – Minions – I had already seen this one as YouTube previewed it for me. As a trailer, meh.
  • 4:28pm – Brady Bunch Snickers – Ha. Buscemi as Jan got me.
  • 4:29pm – The Voice, Blacklist = commercials we’re only seeing because the network doesn’t have to pay for the time (except in opportunity cost)
  • 4:31pm – Carnival – Okay, I’m getting tired of these “inspiring voiceover” commercials where they don’t credit who is talking or where the words originally came from.
  • 4:32pm – Skittles arm wrestling – hee. Took a double-take on this one but it was cute. “The usual way!”
  • 4:33pm – T-Mobile Kardashian – Nice. I like how they really made her look artificial and airbrushed. Oh wait…
  • 4:35pm – Budweiser BestBuds – I’d seen this one in advance. Still hits me hardcore. The love between a puppy and a horse shall not be infringed!
  • 4:37pm – Nationwide Mindy Kaling – Oh, Mindy. You amuse me greatly. I wish your show and book didn’t have so many tinges of conservatism and body negativity.
  • 4:37pm – Also…love Mindy’s outfit with the bright green and the skirt.
  • 4:38pm – Terminator Genisys – Seriously? With Arnold?
  • 4:40pm – Coca cola server spill – Aww. Wish it were that simple. Can I throw Coca-cola all over AMF and AMH and make them happy?
  • 4:40pm – Avocados are gross. All I need to say.
  • 4:41pm – Furious 7 – Shouldn’t this just be a video game at this point?
  • 4:42pm – Dove men care “Daddy” – got me a little, I have to admit.
  • 4:44pm – Doritos airplane – eh…alright. Feels like it could have been better. But I do totally see people doing that on SW flights.
  • 4:45pm – Nissan cat’s in the cradle – Honey toast crunchies? Really? And is the theme this year “dads”?
  • 4:46pm – Nationwide “I never” – WTF Nationwide? That wasn’t very nice. Most depressing commercial ever.
  • 4:47pm – Weight Watchers – wow…that may be one of the first commercials I’ve seen them do that wasn’t disparaging to fat people. Good on them, I guess. I mean, they’re still hawking a product that is in no way effective, but so is everyone.
  • 5:41pm – McDonald’s – how do they decide what relative you have to love? Ha! Dancing! I called it!
  • 4:51pm – Esurance Walter White – eh. I mean, I’m glad to see him again, but I don’t think the brand alignment is very good.
  • 4:53pm – Fiat – ugh. Disgusting.  It started out cute with the blue pill and then got a little too on-the-nose.
  • 4:54pm – GoDaddy – “0 layer dip”…aww…again, a respectable showing from a company I’m not used to seeing decency from. I guess the key is to lower your bar over many years so that then a modicum of hitting the bar makes me like it more now?
  • 4:56pm – Microsoft – Okay, I guess there are two themes this year. One is Dads, and the other is artificial legs.
  • 4:57pm – Re: Jeff Bridges. You paid this much for an ad and then want me to go look your thing up? No.
  • 4:57pm – And…I’m caught up to live.
  • 4:59pm – I’m confused that I can’t just pause the game to see the score.
  • 4:59pm – Oh, the Hawks just got a touchdown. yay!
  • 4:59pm – So, 28 points have been scored, but I’ve gotten .37 masterpoints. So there.
  • 5:02pm – 911 pizza call – nice. I thought it was going to be funny but it did the twist. Nicely done.
  • 5:02pm – Scientology gets a commercial?
  • 5:04pm – American Family insurance – so, were all the actors people who needed help? I’m confused.
  • 5:06pm – Don Cheadle! (not to be confused with Tim Meadows)
  • 5:10pm – Camry – Another Dad commercial. And yeah I’m a sucker for it.
  • 5:11pm – I mean, damn, Toyota put Dad stuff *and* military stuff in theirs. “We want to make you cry, and oh btw, here’s a car.”
  • 5:12pm – “From the producers of the Bible” – Really? Lol. I’m pretty sure the producers of the Bible aren’t around any more.
  • 5:14pm – Say what you will about Katy Perry from a talent perspective…gal knows how to put on a show.
  • 5:15pm – I like the 3D projection. That’s what they use on the castle show at Magic Kingdom.
  • 5:16pm – Lenny Kravitz can only perform next to girls on fire.
  • 5:17pm – Beach ball bra!
  • 5:21pm – Costume changes are Katy’s specialty.
  • 5:22pm – {ed note: And the internet has a giant GMTA moment with…} Is that the “more you know” star?
  • 5:23pm – I think she’s riding the drone cam’s wires?
  • 5:24pm – Oh yay, they put the “run like a girl” ad on here! I’d watched it on YouTube when it went viral, but glad it’s on here, too.  And here come the waterworks… aww….
  • 5:37pm – Comcast K9 – Amazon did voice feature better.  (I may be a bit biased.)
  • 5:39pm – Clash of Clans – OMG, okay, this app ad actually cracked me up. This is all Liam Neeson gets to do anymore. LOL
  • 5:40pm – Oh, and btw, let’s contemplate what it means that “Free” apps can afford Super Bowl commercials…
  • 5:41pm – Lexus – no one gets to drift in real life. I don’t know why they bother showing it like a feature.
  • 6:00pm – Kia – another star poking fun at themselves…was okay right up until they ended with the young woman as “fireworks”. Bleh.
  • 6:00pm – Ah…I hate foot fungus commercials!
  • 6:00pm – I hope they can do Heroes well again. It was a good show for like one season.
  • 6:01pm – (catching up again, stopped to cook dinner, penne with meat sauce!)
  • 6:02pm – TMo – Nice.  They’re hitting on the thing that people complain about most with them, and it was in an amusing way. Plus, “Sorry, it’s a boy.”
  • 6:03pm – Budweiser – also kind of cool. Poking fun at hipster beer is right in their target.
  • 6:06pm – Okay, I have no interest in watching Blacklist, but James Spader is utterly delicious. Chain him up for my amusement anytime.
  • 6:08pm – Awww, it’s so cute that SNL is trying to stay relevant.
  • 6:13pm – Jack in the Box – Ha! That could have been me. I’m not a fan of theirs, either.
  • 6:20pm – Mophie – well, I’d never heard of it before this, and battery life the number one thing that people complain about with smartphones, so this is probably a good message. I also find it kind of awesome that God is pictured as a guy low on coffee controlling things from his phone.
  • 6:21pm – Loctite – Hmm…not sure what I think of this. It’s clearly playing off of Turn Down For What, which I loved, but I’m not sure it’s on the side of celebration vs. making fun.
  • 6:30pm – Budweiser PacMan – I’ve seen this and other variants of it before. All these commercials do is make me mad that I’m not that person. And it doesn’t make me want to drink that beer on the off chance I’ll be that person. So…
  • 6:32pm – Mercedes – NO. The turtle does not win by cheating with a car. Lame.
  • 6:33pm – A whole show because someone went off and slapped someone else’s kid? Um, okay.
  • 6:37pm – 50 Shades – I will leave it at wondering whether a glider is now the universal symbol of ridiculous wealth?
  • 6:52pm – Wix – Hee…Favre and Carve.  If nothing else, it’s fun to remind people how to pronounce it. And to see the guy doing line dancing.
  • 6:52pm – Victoria’s Secret – boring.
  • 6:52pm – Heroes Charge – another app ad? Wow.
  • 6:53pm – Allegiance – Are they just outright copying the non-network channels? (i.e., The Americans)
  • 7:10pm – Nick Offerman – always a winner, but this feels a bit like an endorsement from Stephen Colbert (in character).
  • 7:14pm – Remember to buy stuff, America. Congrats to the winners. Congrats to us all. Peace out.

Movies of 2014

I’m a bit behind the times, but I wanted to review the things I did in 2014, particularly since I was lax in the past couple of years about posting to my blog (instead tending to post to Twitter for tiny things that used to drive my blog posts).  I did see a good number of movies last year, so that’s my first 2014 recap post.  Thanks to a friend having an interest in oddball movies, I have quite a few unusual entries on the list.  I’m also sure I’ve missed a few, particularly if they were 2013 end-of-year movies that I saw at the beginning of 2014.

I noticed recently that the reason I see a movie in the theater vs. at home is because the movie benefits from the big screen format (i.e., big scale action movies or rich animation) or because there’s some groundswell of discussion about it that I want to participate in currently.  If you look at the list of ones I saw in the theater, they fall into those two groups distinctly.  Much of my movie-viewing has clearly shifted to on-demand services, like Amazon Instant Video or Netflix.  That Harrah’s offers free PPV movies to Seven Stars members in many of their hotels didn’t hurt, either.

Of the movies I saw last year, I think The Wolf of Wall Street is probably my favorite, though I have no interest in ever watching it again.  It was the most impactful, but it also just made me feel icky.  Of the 2014 movies, I enjoyed Guardians of the Galaxy the most, but Big Hero 6 and Mockingjay Part 1 are very close in the running.

Movies released in 2014 that I saw in 2014 (* indicates I saw it via on-demand services, not in a theater):

  • The Lego Movie
  • 300: Rise of an Empire
  • Divergent*
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past
  • The Fault in Our Stars
  • Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Big Hero 6
  • Mockingjay Part 1

Movies released earlier that I saw for the first time in 2014:

  • Only Lovers Left Alive
  • Tampopo
  • Rubber
  • Wrong
  • Castle in the Sky
  • Much Ado About Nothing
  • X-Men: First Class
  • The Raid
  • The Raid 2: Redemption
  • The Wolf of Wall Street
  • American Hustle

Movies released in 2014 that I still want to see:

  • Her (technically released at end of 2013 but didn’t go wide until 2014)
  • The Monuments Men
  • Muppets Most Wanted
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Maleficent
  • A Million Ways to Die in the West
  • How to Train Your Dragon 2
  • Into the Woods
  • Tammy
  • Unbroken
  • Wild
  • Big Eyes

How Deregulation Affected My Childhood

I’ve been obsessed with Pokemon 2048 of late, and it led to a conversation with DH about childhood cartoons.  While we were talking, DH said something about remembering when cartoons weren’t based on toys.  I looked at him perplexed.  Aren’t all cartoons based on toys?  He mentioned Merrie Melodies and Tom and Jerry, and I was like, okay sure, really old cartoons, before marketed toys were a thing.   Then, he brought up Scooby Doo, and I explained that it was definitely based on toys, just like everything else.  I started citing every cartoon I knew, at which point he had to explain that Scooby Doo and other cartoons he grew up with were not based on toys.  They were often based on comic strips or comic books, but they weren’t derived from toys or built just to sell a toy.  He was dumbfounded that I couldn’t imagine a cartoon not being based on a toy, and I was equally dumbfounded that there could be cartoons that weren’t.

That led to us looking at prime time TV listings and eventually stumbling on some history that explained this.  It turns out that in 1984, just as I was beginning my prime Saturday morning cartoon years, the Reagan administration deregulated children’s cartoons.  During the sixties and seventies, children’s programming couldn’t sell products to children.  Hot Wheels, a 1969 cartoon series, was not allowed to air because of this restriction.  There was also a series called Linus the Lionhearted, based on cereal mascots, that wasn’t allowed to air.

DH’s generation was basically one of the last to “grow up” with regulated cartoons, and mine was one of the first to grow up with nothing but.  So, the next time you run into someone talking about how all kids’ shows are just long commercials now, you can let them know that it’s thanks to the free market, unimpeded by government interference.

References:

Dreams (NSFW)

So, I’ve been having some weird dreams lately. The unusual common ground is that they feature a celebrity that I hadn’t really paid attention to before the dream and then post-dream can’t seem to stop thinking about.

A few weeks ago, I had a dream about Shaun White. This was not long after he didn’t medal at Sochi, and I joked that my subconscious decided he was attainable at that point. In the dream, I’m on some kind of odd giant bus, that has a bar-height table along one side, with those little round, fixed bar stools. I was sitting at the bar watching as SUVs were parked on snowy precipices, for ad photography. Shaun White was walking from the back of the bus to the front, and I (being elevated in height by the bar stool) ran my fingers through his hair. Then, I said that his hair was soft and matched mine, or something like that. Next dream scene, we’ve migrated to a convenient bed at the front of the bus. We’re tearing at clothes and macking like pros. My elementary school best friend is sitting in a standard bus seat nearby and looks judgmental. It doesn’t impede our progress. Still half-dressed, we start fucking, and it is, of course, awesome. Many positions are used, and I remember liking his freckles.

Last night, it was James Franco. There was some sort of heist going on. He was part of a gang trying to scam money by running a charity carnival. I was trying to not get caught by them, so I’m hiding in boxes and under things. (The gang is more Young Guns than 8 Mile.) They eventually catch me, of course. To avoid being locked away with the other hostages, I convince James Franco that I can help with the carnival. I pretend to be a customer and talk up the carnival games and prizes. I grab a shirt as a prize, but it has lots of holes in it, so I try to make up some story about why that’s better. Then, I go to a bingo game (I think this part was thanks to playing 2048, as the card looked kind of like the Pokemon 2048 that I was playing). While I’m there, a person next to me comments that the shirt has holes in it, and the gang decides that I’m not actually helping, so they toss me in with the other hostages. Then, the dream restarts, like it’s a video game. I go through the whole thing again, except at the part where I convince James Franco to let me help, I also mention that I’ve done this already and I know exactly where they’re going to go wrong. I mention the holes in the shirts and tell them not to use holey shirts as prizes. (You’d think this would have been obvious, but maybe he was high or something.) The other gang members don’t buy that I’m a time traveler, but James Franco believes me and convinces them I’m cool. Then, he takes me over to the bingo game, and we talk while playing. I get nervous, because this is where I failed at the (meta) game the first time. But this time, he leans in and kisses me, and then I’m on the bingo counter, and he’s standing up. My dream skips the practicality of clothes removal. We just end up fucking on the counter. I try to brace myself and end up sending a pile of bingo cards skidding off the counter. The carnival attendees and the barker politely leave us while we finish. I remember he says something about wishing he’d done this sooner, and I wonder if he also remembers the previous attempt at the video game.

So, now I’m wondering how James Franco wandered into my subconscious. The only thing I can figure is that it’s because I recently learned that he’s my age, and I’ve been recently realizing that the number of popular celebrities that are my age is decreasing, because I’m getting old, yo. The weirdest part about these dreams is that the celebs become irresistible candy for me for awhile after. I re-watched the Bound 3 video parody that Franco and Rogen did, and it was more hot than funny this time. I’m trying to decide whether watching Freaks and Geeks today would get it out of my system or make it worse.

Monkey Rolls

The recent strategy discussion surrounding Arthur Chu’s run on Jeopardy led DH and I to start watching the show again. (It probably goes without saying, but we like Chu’s approach.) Watching the show reminded me of a thing that DH and I used to do: monkey rolls.

When DH and I were still early in our time living together, we’d often watch Jeopardy in bed as we settled down for the night. We wanted to keep score between us, but we didn’t want to have to count the game scores or handle daily doubles and whatnot. So, we kept score using “monkey rolls”. We had a stuffed plushie/beanie monkey, and we would roll him to the left (my side of the bed) when I got an answer correct or to the right (DH’s side of the bed) when he got an answer correct. Likewise, if you got it wrong, you lost a monkey roll to the other side.

If the monkey rolled off the bed before the episode was over, that counted as a win; a win by monkey fall was pretty rare. Otherwise, the side the monkey was on when the episode ended won. We also handicapped based on prior wins, but also based on DH being older and thus having more passive knowledge. (The monkey generally started two rolls to my side.)

The Obsolescence of the Artist

Google can’t seem to help me find it, but I remember at some point learning about this viewpoint called the obsolescence of the artist (or author or something). The idea is that once the work is produced, the person that produces it is obsolete. It shouldn’t matter what they intended; it matters what they accomplished. The obvious example comes with something abstract. Let’s say there’s a painting where the canvas is bright orange. You think it’s a lovely sunset. Then, you meet the artist, who explains that it’s rage. Is it no longer a sunset to you? Do you question your interpretation because of what the artist intended?

I believe it’s still a sunset, that what the artist intended is irrelevant the moment the work is produced. There’s a difference when it comes to critical thinking about a piece. You can still read an interpretation by someone who studies art and hear them say that the brush strokes or this or that show the action of the piece and thus it is expressing rage rather than a sunset. Maybe you look at the piece again when you’re older or wiser and see passion instead. That’s different; I’m not saying your view can’t change with new evidence or experience. However, in my view, that evidence couldn’t or shouldn’t include the artist’s own interpretation. When it does, there’s a failure of critical thinking, specifically a bias that is being ignored. What’s more, sometimes what is conveyed is more or less than the artist ever thought could occur. That’s the value of obsoleting the artist.

Yet, I love director commentaries. I was trying to reconcile the two (and also determine if I felt a similar obsolescence applies to day-to-day interactions and conversation), and I realized that there’s also a difference in having interest in the nuts and bolts of something. I like commentaries because I want to know how they made this thing that I think I like. Without telling me what I should be seeing, tell me how you made me see it. I enjoy hearing about angles of shots, lighting, etc. I like hearing about when a director and an actor collaborate and make something just a bit different and possibly better. It gives me new respect for the art.

P!nk Seattle (Key Arena)

(And yes, everything is fucking sideways.)

Cinerama!

Last night, I went to see Oz at the Cinerama!

The terrific sign outside the Cinerama, a bit blurry
The terrific sign outside the Cinerama, a bit blurry

It happened to be conveniently on a bus route that I was on, and I had been wanting to go there anyways. It’s a historic theater that a Seattleite rescued from destruction and updated. So, it has both the latest viewing technology and old timey projectors for special events. The seating isn’t stadium, but there’s a balcony. So, the whole place is hip retro inside, with all of these movie and TV pieces on display that were donated or part of the benefactor’s collection.

The Cinerama lobby has costumes from movies and TV on display.
The Cinerama lobby has costumes from movies and TV on display.

One of the main draws of Cinerama is their chocolate popcorn. It tasted a bit like Cocoa Krispies. I got it mixed with regular popcorn for a yummy salty-sweet combo. I only managed to eat the top 1/4, and that was my dinner last night!

I got a small bag of mixed regular and chocolate popcorn.
I got a small bag of mixed regular and chocolate popcorn.

The movie was beautiful (I didn’t like the changes to the plot, nor did I like Franco’s performance…but he’s still pretty to look at), and visiting the Cinerama felt like a real experience vs. the typical theater.

Super Bowl Ads 2013

I had no idea who was playing in the Super Bowl until today, when I caught up on the ads via YouTube and other such sites. (How long before the networks and/or NFL start offering a midnight-2am commercial replay that is DVR-friendly? And seriously, why haven’t they already? More airplay = more money/value = win win win, right?)

Best Cryfest – Budweiser “Brotherhood”

How could you not bawl? It’s got a baby horse that is loved by its handler and grows up to be a Budweiser Clydesdale. Add in that the horse, in the final scene, is running through my soon-to-be-former home city of Chicago, and this is a guaranteed tissue-soaker.

Best at Making Me Question Why I Like It As Much As I Do – VW “Get Happy”

Is it racist? I don’t know. All I know is that I totally cracked up at, “the land of ten thousand lakes!”, which may well be more about my stereotypical perceptions of Minnesota than my perceptions of Jamaica. 😉 I also have a feeling that “sticky bun come soon” will become a catch phrase in 3…2…1…

Best Overall Feel Good – Taco Bell “Viva Young”

It doesn’t make me any more likely to eat Taco Bell, nor does it tell me anything about Taco Bell really, but I thought it was cute. I love the Goldblatt tat, though I’m now worried about whether Mr. Goldblatt is Jewish or not. 😉 Either way, yay for him for not caring.

Best At Reminding Me That I Want The Product While Also Being Entertaining – Oreo “Whisper Fight”

I definitely craved some Oreos after watching this, if only to decide which side I’m on. (I think I’m with Team Cookie.) The firemen and policemen whispering were the best, natch.

Honorable Mentions

I liked Kaley Cuoco in Toyota’s “Wish Granted”. In particular, I liked that, when the daughter wishes to be a princess, she is a soldier avenging her father’s death (while he says quietly that he’s “right here”), rather than a frilly decorative princess. Admittedly, the fat activist in me couldn’t help but wonder about the implications that wishes magically did everything except get rid of the dad’s belly fat; I’m not sure whether that’s a positive or negative yet. Also, I wonder about the implications of a world with infinite witches. As a genie, Kaley definitely has a mischievous streak. After all, the mom wanted to eat as much chocolate as she wants, but it seems she ended up with a chocolate dependency that required medical intervention. It’s in keeping with the mythological basis of a genie, but what does that say about the car? Are you really happy in the end that it comes with this genie?

Amy Poehler used to be a celeb that grated on me, but her “Smart Girls Ask Amy” videos for teen girls won me over. That turned out to be awesome, because I convinced myself to watch Parks & Rec, which is now easily my second favorite sitcom and may be vying for first if Community’s new staff can’t manage Dan Harmon’s legacy, TBD. Anyways, I couldn’t help but wonder if the Best Buy “Asking Amy” ad was a play on her web series. Either way, while Amy is hilarious and awesome, the net from this is that Best Buy has a lot of stuff and no answers for any of your questions, though they will follow you around attentively while you ask them. Sounds about right.

Milk’s “Morning Run” was more entertaining than I would have thought, but it left me feeling bad for all those people that The Rock ran past. Kids, get your own milk. Also, what’s up with the implication that it’s so hard to get milk? Couldn’t he have just run to the nearest corner store? Are they living in a post-apocalyptic world in which milk is a limited commodity guarded in armored trucks but yet still something The Rock can just ask for and receive?

Dodge’s “God Made A Farmer” is a clear pander to a certain demographic, but it also feels in line with its sister brand’s offerings for the past couple of years in calling up the imagery that Americans like to think we embody. I give it bonus points for including images of both male and female farmers. I subtract some points, though, for being a remix of an ad previously done (a year or so ago) for farms.com. I don’t know whether Dodge did that with or without their permission, and in an age where big media is prone to shamelessly stealing from smaller outfits, I’m withholding judgement accordingly.

Finally, I have to mention Kia for “Space Babies” just because it brought the cute while also showing off some features of the car.

And the worst…

I’m not embedding or linking these, because I don’t think they deserve the hit count.

  • GoDaddy “Perfect Match” – Lots of people are attacking this one for the usual reasons of sexism, ick factor (slurping sounds, e.g.), and shamelessness. My big issue with it is that they made Danica narrate the whole thing. It’s insulting and ruins the joke by explaining it, painfully. The other brains/beauty one they did was far better (“Karl Otter”) and wouldn’t have made it onto my worst list despite basically having the same attributes.
  • Motorola “Bubble Bath” – First, it sucks to reuse last year’s ad. Second, it sucks to reuse an ad that sucks on pretty much all levels (no connection to product, not memorable, alienates women). Third, seriously, with Google now as the owner, that was the best they could do? Bummer. But…at least it makes me glad I don’t have any obligation to defend it.
  • Samsung “Next Big Thing” – What the heck was the point of that ad? I like pretty much everyone in it, and yet it fell so flat. Lame. At least they used Call Saul effectively. 😉 He was the best part.

EMPs and Revolution

So, there’s a show coming out on NBC called Revolution. DH mentioned this show to me a few nights ago and described the premise. I proceeded to have an intellectual hissyfit:

DH: The premise is that an EMP kind of thing takes out everything electronic, and it’s 15 years later, so there’s no electronics, and everyone is living without it. It’s post-apocalyptic, and there’s no cars or batteries or lights or anything. Electricity doesn’t work anymore.
TK: No. That’s not possible. That cannot be true.
DH: Well, there was an EMP, a massive one caused by something.
TK: It’s still not possible. You can’t destroy electricity. You can destroy electronics, but you haven’t destroyed the brains that made the electronics. We’d just rebuild them. Yes, it would take time. World economies would be messed up because banking records would be destroyed and there’d be economic collapse, but it could be restarted, probably in less than 15 years. Is that what they’re talking about? Is it about the re-building of the world?
DH: No, in the show, things still don’t work. They can’t start the cars. They’re all just growing moss on the interstate.
TK: That makes no sense. If that’s what they’re saying, this show is utter crap. [Ed. Note: I may have said bollocks. If I didn’t, I wish I did.] The premise is fantastical. Unless they’re employing magic, it can’t work that way. Electricity doesn’t STOP existing. You can make more batteries and you can re-start power plants. You can just build the computer again. I mean, maybe they run it off of water and wind in a personal sense instead of a grid…there’s an infrastructure hit, for sure…but still, you’d have electricity and thus technology, certainly within 15 years.
DH: JJ Abrams is involved in it.
TK: I don’t care who is involved in it! It makes no sense. You can’t get rid of electricity. Lightning exists! What about storms? What about flying a kite with a key attached? If electricity is gone, it would screw up the entire planet! What would happen to magnetism? The tides? Is this only on earth or every planet? You can’t yank electricity from the world without it having impact on magnetism! It’s not an element, like iron or oxygen, it’s a force tied into the fabric of how stuff works. How could this have been greenlit at all?
DH: They landed a plane on an island that apparently moved through time and space. That didn’t bother you.
TK: That was magic! And eventually just an imagining, but it was never something they tried to explain as real science or anything, nor did it affect the entire planet. Is there magic involved? That’s the only way this works, is if you’re ignoring the laws of physics and are employing magic as a key point of the plot. Are they saying there’s magic?!? I mean, I can’t imagine this ever got made with that kind of gap unless there’s magic or something.
DH: Um. Let me show you the trailer. Maybe I misunderstood it.

So, he showed me the commercial for the show, which you can view here:

Then, our conversation resumed:

TK: Given what I saw, I think they’re using magic. And I’m willing to have some faith that they will explain in the first episode that there’s some mystical or other reason that things still aren’t working. They say in there that things just don’t work, and they imply no one knows why. But, then they show that things are working, so it’s not that there’s no electricity.
DH: Still, it will be interesting to see how they explain it, and to your point, how they explain that it’s still in nature, or what impact it has…or whether magnets still work.
TK: They better not explain it as the EMP. That will bother me and anyone who took basic science. It has to be magic. Somewhere in the first episode, they’ll explain that they tried to re-build and they couldn’t, and no one knows why…and that’ll be the magic, like all the time travel and stuff was the magic on Lost.

You may hear that this show is highly anticipated. I am highly anticipating it, but not necessarily because I think it will be good. I look forward to finding out how they’re going to explain this. I also look forward to all of the articles that will inevitably have to explain to people that an EMP would kill electronics, not electricity. 🙂

Once Upon A Time implies life begins at birth, at least in fairytale land

Minor spoiler alert: Plot points for this TV show are discussed below, but they're all in the pilot episode. Some of these plot points were revisited with more information in the most recent episode, but I intentionally avoid discussing those aspects below to avoid more significant spoilers. That is, I am intentionally revealing only the information given in the pilot. If you have never watched the series at all, what I give away is minor. If you're just missing the most recent episode and are very sensitive to spoilers, though, don't read this.

The plot of ABC’s fantastic series, Once Upon A Time, involves a curse placed on “fairytale” land, a place where all the fanciful creatures and people from fairy tales live. This curse took the characters to a place with no happy endings, namely the city of Storybrooke in Maine, in our world. However, Snow White’s daughter was protected from the curse by being placed in a magical wardrobe that sent her unscathed to our world, to live among us until she could be reunited with the residents of Storybrooke and somehow save them from the curse.

This magical wardrobe had a limit on how many people it could carry. The initial plan was for Snow White to get in the wardrobe before giving birth, so that she could help her daughter, the “savior” identified by the Blue Fairy, understand her destiny. Snow White’s husband, Prince “Charming”, could not go because the wardrobe could only hold one person. Unfortunately, Snow White gave birth early, and so the child had to be sent alone.

So, to re-cap: the wardrobe could only hold one person, namely a very near-term Snow White *or* her daughter once born.

In fairytale land, despite the Blue Fairy knowing the incredible potential of Snow White’s unborn daughter, it was never even a question as to whether or not Snow White could use the magical wardrobe while pregnant. After giving birth, however, the child had to go alone. Now, the reason that the wardrobe couldn’t send more people was because of the amount of magic it had left. It just didn’t have enough magic for more than one person.

Interestingly, I think this means that in the OUAT universe, fairy-tale land is pretty clearly on-board with life beginning after birth, not at conception. After all, if life began at conception, the tree’s magic could not have carried both Snow White and the unborn daughter. If it was some kind of issue of a baby taking less magic than a full grown person, Snow White could have gone along after giving birth. It is fairly clear that something magical (forgive the term) happened at the moment of birth that conveyed full “personhood” to Snow White’s daughter, at least in the eyes of Snow White, the Blue Fairy, and magic in general.

It’s a relatively subtle nod, but I think it’s a very cool thing. I do wonder whether it was a conscious decision by Kitsis and Horowitz (two former Lost writers who have shown amazing attention to detail in this series and that one) or a matter of plot necessity and never thought through. Even if it’s the latter, it goes to show that there is an inherent belief that a person becomes a person at birth, once separated from the mother, not as a zygote or embryo. Otherwise, someone would have raised it in the writer’s room or in any of several reviews the pilot went through.

I'm about to get into some things that are past the pilot, though still not super spoiler-y. Be aware. :) Read responsibly.

It makes you wonder if fairytale land is pro-choice, if such a concept even exists in that world. For example, does Rumpy perform magical abortions on demand (for a price, of course)? Rumpy does occasionally offer fertility assistance; maybe he does the opposite as well. Does the Evil Queen use some kind of magical birth control? (After all, we know she gets the occasional hook-up in fairytale land, not to mention having been married for quite awhile.) Do normal folk get abortions and such when the situation demands? I doubt the show will go there, but it’s fun to speculate.

Downton Abbey Season 2 Finale – Thoughts

In no particular order:

  • They really went out of their way to vilify Sir Richard in the finale. I’m surprised they didn’t have him kick Isis, just to really do him in. Two different times, they had him bitching about having to wait on himself, in a show where the upstairs/downstairs interaction is key. It really was unnecessary. He was already a villain for his near-abusive (by modern standards) treatment of Lady Mary.
  • I do like how the Matthew and Mary romance resolved. They have both grown by being apart in a way they would not have done together. In particular, I am glad that Matthew is now more than a Mr. Darcy clone.
  • I could not have been happier about Daisy coming into her own through William’s father taking her under his wing. I was so happy for her…and him!
  • Speaking of being happy about fathers, I wooted Lord Grantham when he supported Lady Mary despite her shame. He didn’t like it but he preferred that she might be a happy spinster than that she certainly be a sad wife.
  • But, despite my joy, I am not sure I like how “advanced” Grantham is becoming in his social views. It makes him unrealistic. I do give the show credit that we have seen things that would have changed his character, like the war and his brief assignation with a maid. It is somewhat believe able. It just removes some of the societal tension that I think should be part of period dramas.

Toy Story 3 (Comer Charity Event)

Toy Story 3 poster - June 18 release date

Notice that release date? Yeah, guess what? I’ve already seen it. Today! May 15th. 🙂 We were the first people in the WORLD to see the complete movie! 🙂 I signed an NDA and submitted to handing over all electronics and being body scanned before seeing it…so, suffice it to say, I can’t tell y’all anything about the movie EXCEPT that it was OMGWTFBBQAWESOME!!!!!111!1!!!!!

This was part of a charity fundraiser for the Comer Children’s Hospital. (I know, I know…I violated my donation rule, but it was *toy story 3*…a month in advance!! And you haven’t heard it all yet!!)

And, as if simply seeing the movie early wasn’t enough, we also got to enjoy a VIP brunch with:

  • Lee Unkrich – director of TS3 as well as Finding Nemo and others 🙂 I never got to talk to him, but my friend did, and he signed her Finding Nemo DVD and drew a Nemo fish on it 🙂
  • Darla Anderson – producer of TS3, as well as Cars and others 🙂
  • Joan Cusack – didn’t really talk to her, though I got a few distant pictures…she generally had a crowd around her
  • Jeff Garlin – who was incredibly nice and funny, smelled good, hugged me nicely (politely) and could have had me for a song 🙂
  • Bonnie Hunt – who totally cut in front of us in line and then bogarded Jeff Garlin for like twenty photos in various arrangements with her friends and family. I swear, I’ve been to weddings with less configurations of family and guests.

We got a goodie bag full of TS3 gear as well as a few items from other sponsors, plus VIP comfy seating for the movie and free movie snacks. And, we each got an ID badge made for us on site in minutes, and it’s one of those thingies that has two pictures merged so that it’s kind of animated. So cool! See below!

Awesome filled id badge for toy story 3 preview! It is motion-y! on Twitpic

Afterward, we went to the Disney store on the Michigan Mile and totally became the envy of the cast members there. It was awesome because the merch for TS3 is already there, and we were like the only people in the store (besides the cast) that actually knew who everyone was! 🙂 Bwah ha ha! All your TS3 are belong to ME! 🙂

End of Decade Lists

None of these lists are in any particular order. I limited myself to ten items in each category. Sometimes there are less, because I didn’t have more than I’d mentioned.

Best TV shows of the decade:

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer – It was an amazing show. The last season suffered, in my opinion, but the show itself was just so enjoyable in almost every episode.
  • Rome – I’ve never mourned the limited run of a show as much I mourned this one. It was compelling and entertaining, with a complex cast and great historic context.
  • Survivor – It shocks me that this isn’t on more lists. Survivor defined the past decade of television, like it or not. It introduced the reality genre as being viable for prime-time network viewing.
  • West Wing – It helped us survive the Dubya years. Honestly, I think Obama could thank Sorkin for his presidency, as this show set up a tight base of people who believed strongly that Washington could change things for the better.
  • Lost – This is another game-changer, like Survivor. We’re awash with compelling sci-fi on network TV, and we have Lost to thank for it.
  • The Daily Show – Another one that helped us survive the Dubya years. It remains my primary source of news.
  • Freaks and Geeks – It was short-lived, and that may have saved it. It might have sucked given time. It was a rich re-telling of growing up as an outsider that resonated on a basic level, and, thanks to it, we have Jason Segel. I saw this on DVD, and I mourned the end of the series, much as I did with Rome.
  • Arrested Development – Another short-lived but awesome show that had so many fast-paced and off-kilter jokes that you could barely keep up without a DVR to pause and replay.
  • Mad Men – It’s simply stunning visually, and I truly care about each character. Even the “bad guys” are lovable in some odd way.
  • The Amazing Race – It’s travel porn. My “I want to go to there” list gets longer every time I watch.

Best Movies of the Decade:

  • Gladiator
  • Little Miss Sunshine
  • Kill Bill
  • Wall-E
  • Up
  • O Brother Where Art Thou?
  • Lord of the Rings
  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
  • Brokeback Mountain

Favorite products:

Awesome things that have happened to me in the past decade:

  • Graduated from Tulane (thanks, Mommylady, for the reminder!)
  • Paid off my student loans well ahead of schedule
  • Moved to IL, got my first apartment
  • Started this blog 🙂
  • Mourned for the loss of several people, but most notably amanojaku, and both my grandpas
  • Met and married my dear husband
  • Met and became friends with B*, the Moos, and the Twos and a host of others after moving to IL
  • Started working for my current employer and celebrated ten years of doing so
  • Became a gamer
  • Bought my first car, and bought my second without any financing
  • Love(d) and was/am loved by two cats
  • Donated often to charities and causes I believe in

Anything I missed? 🙂

Dante’s Peak

Okay, no one expects this movie to be the height of cinematic excellence, but it’s just cracking me up tonight:

  • The USGS rep cautioning against putting the town on alert…well, of course, he dies later, because that’s what happens to wrong people in movies. But the whole idea that two people die in a hot spring and the town isn’t *already* on alert due to the news and media talking it up? ::eyeroll:: I mean, two people dying in a lake that suddenly became acid would surely warrant a blip or two on CNN, much less the state and Seattle (nearest urban area) news. And I’d credit a lack of news coverage in “ye olden days”, but the scene at the end of the rescue from the mine shaft is lit with at least twenty flash bulbs….so the two deaths in acidic hot springs didn’t warrant a blip, but the rescue of a USGS worker and a family that was idiotic enough to be still on the mountain does?
  • Pierce Brosnan is so stoically British as they’re evacuating from Grandma Ruth’s house. “Rachel, Ruth, we really must go,” he says calmly as a fire erupts over one wall.
  • The idiot kid who goes up the mountain for Grandma…has he not heard of a phone? And I can’t imagine that his mom had the town pull out and review evacuation plans but didn’t actually tell her kids a plan just in case…and the plan surely doesn’t involve driving up the mountain. Then again, this is a parent who simply tells her kids that the mine shaft “isn’t safe”, not grounding the kid for going in there and not telling him the reason why it’s not a good idea.
  • Grandma Ruth wades through an acid lake to pull the family to safety…but the sad part is that if the adults were doing what Pierce Brosnan’s character did, wrapping their arms in fabric and rowing together, Grandma’s sacrifice wouldn’t have been necessary.
  • Ridiculous dog rescue scene…but of course, we had to save the family dog. Grandma can be left to die on the mountain, but we have to risk the truck to save the family dog.
  • Speaking of Grandma’s death, the special effects guys couldn’t manage to make her wounds look real in any sense of the word. The kids’ scrapes later on look far worse than Ruth’s legs from the wading through acid, and yet we get this super-dramatized scene where she just can’t go on.
  • Pierce’s arm is supposedly visibly broken…we have a scene where he points a flashlight at a bone protrusion…but he still uses that arm to push himself up a half scene later, without even a mild moan of pain. Maybe shock has set in?
  • We’ve got a really crappy national guard that a) crosses the town bridge when there’s clearly a giant mass of logs coming right at it and b) doesn’t tether the clearly ill-equipped minivan to one of the Hummers? Hell, I can’t imagine a National Guard that wouldn’t simply tell the USGS crew to abandon the minivan and get in the damn Hummer.

Nurse Jackie = Dr. Cox

Warning: This post contains minor spoilers for the plot of Showtime’s Nurse Jackie pilot and for Scrubs.

Nurse Jackie = Dr. Cox:

  • Both are cranky but caring medical practitioners working in an ostensibly Catholic teaching hospital.
  • Both work too much, to the chagrin of the hospital’s chief of medicine.
  • Both are accompanied by an overly cheery and perky sidekick underling.
  • Both are addicted to depressants (pain meds vs. alcohol).
  • Both feel too much responsibility/guilt for their jobs.
  • Both are vigilantes when it comes to providing the best care.

So, do you think the pitch for Nurse Jackie was something like, “Think of Scrubs told from Dr. Cox’s perspective…but make Dr. Cox EDGIER…and FEMALE…and MORE REAL…”

Thoughts on the Oscars

I’m writing this before reading anything written by anyone else on the topic, including my friends list and Google Reader feeds…even before reading tweets.

  • I liked Hugh Jackman, to a point. Every now and then, he became cloying rather than adorable. For example, when he was like, “There’s [namedrop]…how ya doin?” like some kind of Vegas lounge act, that annoyed me.
  • The tribute-style award presentations were okay. I’d like it better if it was always someone who felt a special connection with the honoree instead of (especially in the case of whoever it was that honored Kate Winslet) a clearly memorized and recited speech. I’d like to know if the people doing the honoring got to choose who they would talk about and if they had any input into their speech. Cuba Gooding, Jr.’s was okay. Halle Berry’s was great. But, some of them just felt forced.
  • I liked it being in the order of the movie production.
  • I loved the big musical dance numbers, particularly Baz Luhrmann’s montage with Beyonce and Hugh Jackman. I’m a Baz fan, so I may be biased. And, the opening dance number ending with “I’m Wolverine!” was priceless.
  • As always, Anne Hathaway could wear a brown sack and be the most gorgeous thing on any stage or screen.
  • I think the dresses with the f-ed up asymmetrical “straps” that look like someone just threw a wad of fabric over the gal’s shoulder and tied it off are stupid. That style can die any time now.

I haven’t seen a single one of the big Oscar movies. I had seen Wall-E, but we just saw it this past weekend. I was disappointed that Wall-E didn’t get at least one sound or music award, considering that 90% of the damn movie is told musically to great effect. But, having no knowledge of the eventual winner, I’m in no position to criticize the selections.