March 29, 2010

How to Train Your Dragon

No spoilers in this post.

I saw this in 2D. While I don't like paying more for 3D or wearing glasses for an entire 3D movie, there is something I do like about 3D. When a movie is designed in 3D, it feels like they pay more attention to movement. So even in 2D, the movie feels more exhilarating. This was definitely true in How to Train Your Dragon. This was a fantastic movie, probably the best one I've seen all year so far. The characters are endearing and you become invested in them right away. The plot is fairly conventional, but there were a few developments that I didn't expect. The best part of the movie are the emotional moments. Because you care about the characters and because the film is beautifully crafted, the moments of discovery or insight or betrayal are very compelling and powerful. I highly recommend this movie.

March 23, 2010

Ramona Quimby

They are making a movie based on the Ramona books. These are the first books I remember reading, ever. I wanted SO BADLY to be Ramona Quimby. In elementary school, my friends always told me I looked just like her, but I knew I was nowhere near that cool.

Things I remember from the books: Ramona turned the letter "Q" from "Quimby" into a cat. I tried to figure out a cute picture for the letter "S" from "Saunders" but snakes are not as cute as cats. I remember the part where her mom told her to leave for school at a "quarter after" the hour, and Ramona figured that must mean 25 minutes after, because a quarter is 25 cents. I remember her friend, the blonde boy with the curly hair. (Howie!) More than anything, I remember Ramona's frequent frustration with the world around her, and her desperate need to understand it and be accepted by it. When I read stories, more than anything, I read for character. Ramona Quimby was the first character I remember making friends with. I hope the movie does her justice.

Here's the trailer:

March 17, 2010

A Very Important Rant

St. Patrick's Day edition! Let me warn you: I'm really going to let my emo bitter contempt for humanity fly in this one. It's a rare peek into my intj brain, so if you'd like to take some pictures, go right ahead.

It is really pathetic to look around the office and see everyone wearing green. We all know that the hours spend in a cubical farm are bleak and joyless. Do we really need to all be wearing reminders of that fact? It's worse than Hawaiian shirt day. Hawaiian shirt day has at least gained a certain level of socially-accepted pathetic tragedy that only the truly deluded office workers even participate. St. Patrick's day has yet to get to that enviable point. So not only do I have to wake up before 6 am, take a shower, wear clean clothes, go to work, and sit at a desk for 9 hours pretending to care deeply about something I have no real investment in, I have to wear something green.

Then there are those that purposely don't wear green. The people that are so desperate for attention, yet so pathetically lacking of any interesting qualities that they need to engineer overly-contrived conversation starters to get people to even notice them. They don't even care that the forced attention is given through obvious contempt. Mere attention is validation enough. Being looked at and talked to is all these people need to feel valued by society, because their definition of "value" is so skewed by lonely years of social isolation. I don't care how many girls ignored you in high school, it is never okay to ask me anything about what I'm wearing. And I resent the stupid holiday that makes people think it is.

You know what the threat of pinching really is? It is the threat that a stranger will cross the boundaries of social-acceptability. If a stranger is allowed to pinch me, what else is he allowed to do? For one day, people who enjoy this kind of boundary-crossing physical contact get some sense of authority. What kind of sick culture celebrates this level of inappropriateness? It is not okay to dictate what I wear, it is not ok to talk to me about my clothes, and it is never EVER ok to touch me. I despise any holiday that tells you otherwise.

*Deep breath.*
I feel much better now.

March 16, 2010

Who is more tired?

Jamie: I'm so tired I keep almost drooling. While sitting in my desk.
Jill: I'm so tired I snorted in the bathroom. Because I fell asleep.

You get to make the call again. Who is more tired?
A. Jamie
B. Jill
C. Who snorts while they're asleep?
D. Asleep is a cool word. More words should be constructed that way. I am asit. I am also atype. I bought a new good book, so I wish I were aread. I have an assignment to work on, so I should probably be awrite. I am clearly not awork.

March 12, 2010

Episode 5

Survivor post again! This one is short. I propose that the entire game of Survivor be played with blindfolds from now on. Blindfolded reality contestants = hilarity.

March 10, 2010

You make the call: Beads?!

Because we have no lives, this debate has been a topic of consternation over here at Stalling Headquarters. Perhaps you can help us solve it with another edition of You Make the Call.

Jill and some guy she knows are trying to make the exclamatory phrase "BEADS?!" happen. It's alleged meaning: "I am not on-board." It's origin:

That is not the entire clip. GOB continues to express his not-onboardness by proposing a bee enterprise of his own, as he angrily buzzes out of the room bragging that his buzz-ness will bring in the most "honey." (I looked for the whole clip online, but couldn't find it. It's very funny.)

The conflict: I propose that an exclamation of "BEES?!" more embodies someone who is not on-board. Jill insists that "BEADS?!" means not on-board. This has caused much confusion as we both insist on using our own new exclamatory statements and refuse to acknowledge any other possible meaning. See the following chat, where we each present our arguments. (Clearly, it is a busy day here at Stalling Headquarters.)

Jill: i'm bees with damonic laughing
Jamie: that's a shame. i was hoping you'd be on board.
Jill: GOOD
Jamie: beads then.
Jill: beads to what?
Jamie: the new, true definition of bees
Jill: why do you insist on doing things wrong?
Jamie: i hate doing things wrong. that's why i never do things wrong. no matter how much you want me to. BEES
Jamie: see, there are no angry sounds associated with beads. and when you are not on board, you are angry. so bees = not on board. it allows the possibility of bzzzzing to further emphasize your not on boardness. beads?

[moment of contemplative silence]

Jamie: you want to disagree, don't you. and wouldn't it feel so good to get all BZZZZy about it?
Jill: no. he [GOB] is so outraged at beads. that it must represent outrage. AND HE IS NOT ON BOARD WITH BEADS. it is so simple. he says beads with such disdain
Jamie: he is bz'ing though. because his clinging to bees further illustrates his not onboardness. if he had ended it at "beads" he'd be on board
Jill: you are not right!! just becuase you want to buzz! doesn't make you right!!
Jamie: so by saying "beads" we are being the bizarro GOB, on board with everything and pleasant. beads are pleasant and hippy like. even celebratory in a marti gra environment. why would you celebrate not-onboardness? why would you celebrate war?
Jill: we aren't trying to be bizarro gob. we are quoting gob!
Jamie: but see.... gob is always the opposite.
Jamie: so the TRUE meaning of beads is onboard.
Jill: no. it is not
Jamie: if you want to be all ironic and funny about it and use it the GOB way, fine.
Jill: i insist on bees=on board and beads=not on board
Jamie: but still: i am right. beads = on board.
Jill: no you are not
Jamie: see, now you are just being irrational. you have no reasoning.
Jill: you were irrational long before this
Jamie: other than GOB thinks so, and that is anti-reasoning.
Jamie: in the show, GOB is wrong.
Jill: three people in the world use this. two think my way. one thinks your way. so. seeing as we live in a democracy
Jamie: the creator of the show clearly thinks my way, and he invented it. so.
Jill: he doesn't think your way. because your way is stupid
Jamie: when is GOB ever right?
Jill: and the creator of the show is not stupid
Jamie: GOB is always the opposite. he is always wrong. your way is GOB's way. how can you not see that?
Jill: how can you not want to say beads with as much disdain as gob does?

[another moment of contemplative silence.]

Jamie: that... has nothing to do with right and wrong.
Jill: i don't see how this is a moral issue
Jamie: like i said, you can still say beads when you mean not on board. but that true meaning is that you are not on board with something that is true. something that you most logically should be on board with. like you and the true meaning of beads.
Jill: the true meaning of beads. you are crazypants

So you make the call:
What means "I'm not on board!"
A. Beads, clearly
B. Bees, obviously
C. Who or what is GOB?
D. Um... you are crazypants. And should maybe go outside more often.

March 9, 2010

Alice in Wonderland

I saw this yesterday, in regular-old 2-D. I have been very unimpressed with 3-D, but then the only movies I've tried in 3-D were Up and Creature from the Black Lagoon. And that second one was the old red/blue glasses type 3-D, so maybe I should give it another shot sometime. Maybe with Clash of the Titans. So, this movie. I was really excited for it, then saw the luke-warm reviews, but had already bought tickets, and went in thinking it'd be kind of meh. I've realized with movies that expectations play a very large role in my enjoyment of the movie. If I see a movie because I'm bored and it was the only one that I thought I could stand (Push, Percy Jackson), or if I have no idea about the movie but am with someone that really really wants to see it (Quantum Solace, Slumdog Millionaire), then I usually really like the movie.

All of that set-up and still not to the actual movie. [Spoilers ahead.] I liked it. A lot more than I thought I would. But I get why people aren't liking it. It's weird, sometimes really weird, but that's expected. For all it's weirdness, it's still incredibly predictable. No plot points are surprising, and a few are so vague that they don't make sense. What exactly did the Red Queen do that was so bad? Blow stuff up and steal the crown? If the crown is so easily stolen, what power does it really even have? I couldn't help but feel a little sympathy for the Red Queen, even though it was clearly telegraphed that she was EVIL and supposed to lose. That tall creepy one-eyed Stayne was really intriguing, and I wanted to know more about where he came from. It seemed like a lot of the Underland kingdom was either "good" or "evil" depending on who was wearing the crown, but Stayne seemed to be an even more sinister evil than even the Queen of Hearts.

The movie has interesting implications (Victorian women trapped in the marriage path, becoming a different version of yourself), but never really figures out what it's saying with them. Alice takes an unexpected path in life, but isn't that really more a luxury of her class than a break-through for her gender? There's the dichotomy between the White Queen and the Red Queen: traditional delicate femininity, conventional beauty, and polite passiveness are considered good and worthy of love where the shouty, bossy, big-headed woman is banished to live a life with no companionship (not that she ever had any genuine companionship before). So that seems to work against the "woo! independent woman!" theme.

Overall: It's a very pretty eye-candy movie, predictable and a little unfocused, but not nearly as annoying as Avatar. I enjoyed watching it, and if you think you'll like it, you probably will.

March 2, 2010

Today's lunch converation

Jill and I are eating lunch, talking about a relative we'd just recently had dinner with.

Me: He's kinda weird to talk to. I feel like I'm being condescended to, even though I know I'm not.
Jill: [shrugs] I don't ever feel that way.
Me: I think it comes from him being shy. Which is funny, because I'm always worried I come off as being snotty and condescending when I'm just shy.
Jill: He has confidence in his opinions, always thinks he's right, plus he's shy. I can see how that can feel like condescension.
Me: [light bulb goes off in head] He's just like me!
Jill: Haha. He kind of is!
Me: No wonder people don't like talking to me.

Do you know anyone that is a lot like you? If you met another person that was exactly like you, do you think you'd be good friends? I think I would, but it that it would take a very long time to discover such a person. Even if we were around each other all the time.

The Lightning Thief and Oscar Nominated Shorts (And Bonus Basterds)

I'm getting behind on my saw-it-in-the-theater movie reviews! As usual, there are spoilers.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief-
I have not read these books, so I went into the movie only knowing the basic premise: Harry Potter plus Greek mythology. I was not disappointed, this movie was a lot of fun and very entertaining. I have just enough knowledge about Greek mythology to have a bunch of fun "Oh! It's the lotus eaters!" moments, but not enough to get all well-I-never-nitpicky about inaccuracies. I'm kind of curious as to how Aphrodite has time to give birth to a full cheerleader's squad of daughters, though. I also don't understand why Percy's mom had to marry Mr. Stinky. And if she really had to marry someone stinky, were there really no nice stinky people? Heck, why doesn't SHE just get stinky? It's not hard: stop showering, eat lots of garlic, get several pet hamsters. People do it every day.

Oscar Nominated Shorts: Animated
My prediction is that Wallace and Gromit will win, but I hope it doesn't. 30 minutes is too long for a "short" film. These were not as good as last year.

Bonus: Inglorious Basterds
I didn't see this in the theater, because I wanted to be able to fast forward as needed. I rented this last weekend, and liked it a lot more than I thought I would. There's a relatively small amount of action, the most intense parts are the dialogue scenes. One slightly embarrassing tidbit: I didn't realize this was completely fictionalized. I mean completely completely. I knew it wasn't a true story, but I thought it was still going to fit in with actual historical events. So I kept waiting for the "Basterds" plot to be foiled, because we all know Hitler didn't die in a movie theater along with all the top officers of the Third Reich. So I was thoroughly surprised when they start pumping about 80 thousands bullets into Hitler's body and the building actually blows up. It's a cool concept. Tarantino imagined the war ending in a way that a film director would find the most awesome. More people should make movies like that.

March 1, 2010

Why I like Survivor

From my last two posts, it may seem like Survivor annoys me. It's often sexist, some players are huge jerks, and it's rarely "fair." But what better mirror for our every day lives?

If a male executive and female executive are equally hard on their employees, guess who gets the "bitch" label? Along with whispered back talk of "why is she here so late, doesn't she have kids?" or "is a skirt with that high a hemline really professional?" Survivor equivalent: See previous post comparing Parvati and J.T. Or: "she swore she'd vote with me then lied (in a game of lying)? What a horrible mother/scout leader/Christian." Or: "how dare a woman try to form alliances while wearing a bikini (on a tropical island). Slut!"

If a VP makes six figures and gets four weeks of paid vacation, does that automatically mean he knows how to send an email? Or plug in a USB device? Of course not. Survivor equivalent: The winner is rarely the one who can start fire without flint, catch fish with his bare hands, or build a shelter out of twigs and coconut shells.

I admit, Survivor is just entertainment. But for me at least, it's fascinating entertainment. People "voluntarily marooned" on a desert island don't really act much differently than they do at work, home, or church. But when someone gets voted out every other day, and a million dollars are at stake? All of those passive aggressive grudges and prejudices quickly come right to the surface.