Me and My Nine Iron

August 31, 2010

Movie reviews

Alice in Wonderland

Tim Burton‘s remake of the popular children’s story became a box office legend, as it’s just one of six films to ever cross the $1 billion mark worldwide. Reviews were mixed, however, and some complained that the final battle scene was too cliche. It behooves many movies to have a climactic battle scene; to say that it’s become cliche is to set yourself up for disappointment by an entire genre and some.

Great visuals, loved all of the small characters along the way (Tweedledee/Tweedledum, March Hare) and found the story entertaining (not being familiar with the original).

Rating: 4 stars out of 4

District 9

What an indie nugget this film was. Adapted from director Neill Blomkamp‘s 2005 short, Alive in Joburg, he made his feature film directorial debut with his friend Sharlto Copley as the lead in the movie, which Blomkamp decided to shoot in his hometown of South Africa. Nominated for four Oscars, expectations were high, and I now see why it got a Best Picture nod.

Roger Ebert again lambastes the climax, complaining that “the third act is disappointing, involving standard shoot-out action. No attempt is made to resolve the situation.” It’s called a sequel, Roger, something that you expect from every superhero movie, and I’m looking forward to this one, which is still years away.

Rating: 4 stars out of 4

How to Train Your Dragon

Another heartfelt animation film, but contrary to solid reviews and a behemoth $490 million taking, this one misses the upper echelon of great animation. First, it seemed like they tried to tell the whole story in the first ten minutes, which was unnecessary. There was way too much going on and probably a little more narrative than it needed to be.

The main issue I had was how everything fell into place a little too easily. Hiccup’s relationship with all of the dragons was a little too much, a little too fast to be believable. Other than that, it was an easy story that should be put to rest as is. Instead, DreamWorks is planning a television series, a live tour show and a sequel in 2013.

Best moment was when an old guy in the back yelled, “Hiccup, no!” during the final battle scene. A standing ovation later, he yelled, “David Tennant!” when his name came out in the credits. I don’t know who he is, either.

Rating: 3 stars out of 4

Knight and Day

Most known by me as the one that went through “development hell,” I’m glad they got their shit together because this was one fun ride. Three titles, two directors,  two studios, 12 writers and six lead actors later, Knight and Day was made. Other fun facts: it was Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz‘s second on-screen collaboration (Vanilla Sky), it was Cruise’s worst box-office debut for an action film in the past 20 years ($20.5 million) and all the hubbub put the cost at $117 million. With that disappointing debut, I didn’t think they had a shot at recouping their money, but they managed $222 million.

Cruise did his part with a pay cut of $11 million to play up the character in his own way, and I feel like you could totally tell. The really kooky Cruise keeps a nice balance of action and humor throughout. Who were the other actors, you ask? Gerard Butler decided he’d rather be with Jennifer Aniston in The Bounty Hunter than Diaz while the two original leads were Chris Tucker and Eva Mendes. Thank God that fell through. I’m not racist, I swear.

Rating: 3 stars out of 4

Shrek Forever After

An odd story, this fourth and final Shrek was. It takes a look into Shrek’s domestic life with Princess Fiona and their three infants, and Shrek’s frustration mounts with a redundant and stagnant life. The antagonist is Rumpelstiltskin, who reminded me of the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland. It’s very different from the previous Shreks, and I feel like there were hardly any laughs. Still, the story moved along, and why stop when you could eat up another $709 million? Sure enough, they’re not. Puss in Boots, a spin-off with the eponymous character, comes out next year.

Rating: 2 stars out of 4

Drake – Thank Me Later

Drake‘s debut album was hailed with positive reviews, but you won’t find one from me. The biggest problem I had was his voice. As a rapper, your voice is a huge part of what you do, and when you sound like Lil Wayne, you don’t sound good. It overshadows his decent lyrics, and his nasally delivery is something that kills almost every track. Here are a few reviews I want to copy. Ben Raynor of Toronto Star said that Drake is better when his “R&B vocal skills are pushed to the forefront.” Renato Pagnani of The Vancouver Sun criticized Drake’s “workmanlike” flow, and commented that the album’s guests like Jay-Z and T.I. “effortlessly demonstrate the difference between a good MC and a great MC.” It helps that he loads his album with big names.

Favorite tracks: Over, Show Me a Good Time, Find Your Love

Rating: 2 stars out of 4

Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

The French band’s fourth album drew my attention with the constant radio play of their singles, Lisztomania and 1901. Sadly, it doesn’t get a lot better than that. The soft tone never really changes, and the album really stops in its tracks right when you feel like it’s picking up. After three great opening tracks, it kills itself with minimal words for over 7.5 minutes. Countdown sounds like Lasso, and when you skip over the two wordless tracks, as most would, you have an album that doesn’t even last half an hour. And this was the best rated of their four albums.

Favorite tracks: Lisztomania, 1901, Fences

Rating: 3 stars out of 4

BJ

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August 23, 2010

Five Guys Burgers review

Filed under: Food reviews — BJ @ 5:21 pm
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Last week, Zagat released its 2010 food survey, and top news was Five Guys‘ dethronement of In-N-Out for best fast-food burger in the nation. While In-N-Out is every Californian’s favorite burger, Five Guys was founded and is centralized on the East Coast but is slowly gaining a foothold in the West. Yesterday, I made my way to Cerritos for the Five Guys nearest me.

I entered the place to a long line and peanut shells all across the ground; they provide complimentary peanuts while you wait in the ridiculous line. That’s probably the biggest problem I had with this place. They didn’t open a second register when the line curved all the way past the door, and people were relegated to 20+ minute waits just to order. That’s unacceptable for a fast food joint, especially when it’s avoidable. Three employees in the back were pounding the patties, and there were at least ten total, more than enough for them to make the line move faster than it was moving. It’s like they glorify themselves by showing everyone outside how busy they are.

Their menu consists of burgers, hot dogs and fries, and I got a cheeseburger (two patties) with everything (free toppings!) and the regular and Cajun fries. The fries were okay. One said the Cajun fries were salty while another said the regular fries were better than In-N-Out’s – but not the burger.

The burgers came wrapped in aluminum foil, even though we ordered “for

Cheeseburger.

here.” The cheese melted onto the foil naturally, and it’s really a disservice to its burgers to “smash and wrap.” With hard-t0-beat ingredients in a delicious burger, why would you ruin it with an ugly presentation? The bun gets smushed, and it’s really the opposite of what you would find at In-N-Out, who knows how to flaunt its food.

There was a review inside that said it’s just like grilling up the burger yourself, and I couldn’t have said it better myself. The melted cheese and grilled onions and mushrooms are exactly how I like my burgers, putting it over In-N-Out’s. It got messy and they could probably do with a healthier bun, but that’s the taste I go for.

Now, for the picky In-N-Out lovers who bashed Five Guys on Yelp, including its name. Yes, you read that right – its name.

  • It’s expensive.

$4.99 for a burger is not expensive. It might be more than In-N-Out, but it’s bigger and heavier. It does not come out to $10/person. The three of us spent under $19, and we threw some fries away. A regular order of fries serves several people. You’ll spend that much at any fast food place, cheap asses.

  • The burger and fries are good, but they’re not as good as In-N-Out.

I could’ve guessed you would’ve said that before you walked into the place. High expectations and something that you’ve grown up with and are used to your whole life are hard to beat. Fortunately, you have an unbiased Californian who knows burgers other than at In-N-Out.

  • There’s never ice in the ice machine.

This is a joke, right? But, is it just coincidence that when I went, there was no ice in either soda machine? This is a recurring problem that should not be happening and is a bigger problem to customers than it thinks. Get some new machines, please.

One more thing. When we first got our food, we were missing our order of Cajun fries. When I went up to the front, the guy seemed like he knew right away that he forgot. Or, he did it on purpose. My friend told me just the other day how deliberately “forgetting” an item every five orders can save the company millions of dollars. Hey, it just happened to me at Jack in the Box.

It might be easier to see all their flaws and things they can fix because they do a lot of right. But the main issue with me is unless they cut down on the wait time, I don’t see myself going back here again.

Rating: 3 stars out of 4

BJ

August 21, 2010

Fast food review

Today’s edition of Fast Food Review is dedicated to Jack in the Box’s new Really Big Chicken Sandwich Combo, which is a twin chicken patty sandwich, curly fries and a small drink for $3.99. I was told the chicken used was that of its $.99 chicken sandwich so they clearly knew what to skimp on quality. Same goes for the dull green lettuce and yellow tomato.

First impression: I have to admit this sandwich is pretty well put together. Looking at the picture, I can’t say that mine was served with bacon so if it’s supposed to be in there and I’m just forgetting the taste, which says something in itself, then that’s a complete fail. Regardless, they already did when they forgot an order of curly fries and a drink.

First bite: Just that of your ordinary fast food sandwich. How healthy are the veggies, really? I’d rather have a tastier McDonald’s sandwich.

Verdict: It’s a good value price, given every combo meal on its menu was over $5. It was worth it, as three out of the five of us tried it out. But it wasn’t great, and I probably wouldn’t get it again.

BJ

August 18, 2010

Mara wins coveted lead role

JetBlue is bringing back its popular “All You Can Jet” passes from last year.

This is the jetBlue CEO, not the flight attendant.

The pass is valid for flights between September 7 and October 6, and you can get either an unlimited pass for $699 or a $499 pass that excludes travel on Fridays and Sundays. The news comes one week after one of its flight attendants made national attention for cursing at a passenger over the P.A. and sliding down the emergency slide with a beer in his hand.

One of the most recently sought after jobs in Hollywood was announced on Tuesday – the lead role in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which comes out in December 2011. Little-known Rooney Mara will star opposite Daniel Craig, beating out Natalie Portman, Ellen Page and Emma Watson, but perhaps, she had the upper hand; she worked with director David Fincher in The Social Network, which comes out in October.

What is this symbol?

Hint: It lights up on the instrument panel in your car. (Answer below.)

Speaking of Portman, some of us heard that she shared a kiss with co-star

Sexual tension.

Mila Kunis in the thriller, Black Swan, which comes out in December. Well, we have pictures! (Too slow, Mr. Skin.) Portman confessed she was “terrified” of kissing Kunis while Kunis has said that “Nat is like every guy’s dream.” They should just get it on.

In old news, who would have guessed Demi Moore would be jealous of hubbie Ashton Kutcher straying? Her obsession has gotten to the point where she was jealous of Kutcher’s kissing scenes with Portman in an untitled romcom set to come out in January. Kutcher pushed for the title to remain as Fuckbuddies, but that was unfortunately scrapped. He also didn’t help out his own cause when he reportedly told Demi about the young girls who will be used for “background only” in the movie, “It’s not like I’m touching. What’s the harm in looking?” Oh, Ashton. Only if we could all get away with saying that.

Answer: Low tire-pressure warning, now required to light up on all vehicles starting with the 2008 model year when one or more of your vehicle’s tires is 25% below the manufacturer’s recommended pressure. Don’t worry, I too am in the 33% of drivers who didn’t know or the 46% who couldn’t figure out that it even represented a tire or the 14% who thought it represented another problem with the vehicle entirely – that other problem being nothing because I had no idea, just that I’m probably fucked.

BJ

August 17, 2010

(One big) Dislike

The O.C. Fair ended Sunday, and I missed out on going this year as I wanted

The jumbo funnel cake.

to familiarize myself with the fair’s festivities to incorporate it into my screenplay. Whoops. (But don’t worry, I had written the entire scene already and wanted to go more for fun than for work.) A record 1.15 million people attended the 120th fair, which ran for 31 days, and 8,000 of the new deep-fried butter treats were sold. Of the 2,000 jumbo funnel cakes eaten, only one person beat the challenge, which to my understanding is to eat the whole thing alone in twenty minutes and not pay the $13 cost.

A terrible tragedy struck the Mojave Desert Saturday night when a truck in an

Four people were under the overturned truck.

off-road race killed eight spectators. Maybe surprisingly, no one seems to be sympathetic towards the deceased, who were apparently so close to the track that they could touch the trucks race by if they wanted to. Clearly, something needs to be done to prevent this from happening again, and maybe, the race organizer could be liable in this case. Its permit required racers to travel 15 mph or less when they were within 50 feet of fans and allowed no more than 300 spectators for the event. The CHP estimates the truck was going 45 to 50 mph at the time of the crash, and there were tens of thousands of people at the event. Read the story here, which includes a 19-year-old girl who went to the bathroom and came back to find her boyfriend and his best friend dead.

Bell residents spent hours Monday night, lashing out at city leaders at a City Hall meeting. One of the corrupt leaders had the audacity to pick up the microphone and retort, “In America, you’re innocent until proven guilty.” Are the city leaders really contesting that their salaries are justified? Unless something gets done, former City Manager Robert Rizzo, who resigned last month, will make about $600,000 annually in retirement.

To all Facebook users: do not download the “official dislike option” application being seen on the site. It is a scam and steals your personal information, as reported on ABC News.

Toy Story 3 knocked off Shrek 2 as the top-grossing animated film of all time, reaching $920 million over the weekend, just above Shrek 2‘s $919.8 million. Toy Story 3 finally dropped to 11th after eight weeks in the Top 10 but still raked in $2.2 million domestically. It has now reached $400.8 million domestically and reaffirms Disney/Pixar’s reign in film animation. Read my review of Toy Story 3 here.

Big ups to Leeyen Peralta for repping Fullerton. The 9-year-old black belt won a gold medal in the 2010 USA Taekwondo Junior Olympics in the light-weight division for 8-9 year olds last month. She won despite her mom’s non-winning attitude, “We told her to just do her best and whatever comes out, it’s an experience.”

BJ

August 16, 2010

Ka by Cirque du Soleil review

Filed under: For your pleasure — BJ @ 10:40 pm
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Ka had one of the highest ratings of the six Cirque du Soleil shows in Las Vegas but turned out to just be highly disappointing (and below lower-rated Zumanity, which is the only other Cirque show I’ve seen).

Story

A slightly confusing story with some extraneous scenes solely for comic relief, the parts that were comprehensible were very structured and predictable (e.g. the passage of time with scenes of the extremities of the different seasons of the year). The final battle scene was tedious, and the ending was open. (Sequel? Oh wait, never mind.)

Rating: 3 stars out of 4

Aesthetics

I was told that the show was built around the stage, which doesn’t surprise me

Stage at about 60-75 degrees.

with this amazing, innovative platform that can rotate in any angle up to 90 degrees (thus, frequently forcing the actors to be on high wires), move wherever it needs to (including disappearing from the stage, if need be) and be the central piece for almost every scene. You can just catch a glimpse of what it can do on the better-than-it-really-is preview on its website. It’s really hard to do this stage justice, but let me try by saying that this stage stole the show. It outshone the actors’ performance and enhanced the show by providing this extra dimension with its range of flexibility.

Rating: 4 stars out of 4

Routine

This is where the show bombed. You go to a Vegas show and don’t have any

Biggest standing ovation went to the biggest stunt of the night.

reservations with paying $120 to be amazed for 90 minutes. Not including the stage, there was no oohing and aahing here. It made the mistake of being more focused on art than acrobats, and even the few stunts that were in the act were botched on the first try. The fight scenes were cheesy; call me picky, but I like my swords to be closer than three feet from the person before he pretends to get hit. The whole performance and execution was sloppy and uninspiring, and Ka should have been embarrassed to be called a Cirque show.

Rating: 1 star out of 4

Overall

I can’t agree with any of the positive reviews this show has received. It was

I don't like the way he's looking at her. Eyes up here, buddy.

everything short of spectacular and look forward for Cirque to redeem itself with Mystere and O. I’m glad I got a deal to pay less than half price to see this or I would’ve been even more disgruntled. Save your money on another Cirque show. I’ll get around to watching Peepshow, Holly.

Rating: 2 stars out of 4

BJ

August 12, 2010

This weekend’s forecast

Filed under: On the 6 o'clock news — BJ @ 9:52 pm
Tags:
Las Vegas Weather

Fri

Sat

Sun


Sunny
High: 106°

Low: 77°

Sunny
High: 107°

Low: 81°
Sunny
High: 110°
Low: 86°

August 6, 2010

Just so you know

  • This is why I don’t vote. The popular vote means nothing in the country where our leaders boast of our great democracy. George W. Bush was elected president despite Al Gore having over half a million more votes in 2000. And, Proposition 8 only reaffirms my belief.

Over 7 million people took the time to have their voice heard, to stand up for what they believe in, only to have it be all for naught. A few people overturning a state law (Arizona immigration law) and a few more overturning what 7 million people want, this country isn’t unlike any other, where only a few people rule the country, not “We the People.”

  • My dad has been complaining lately about how slow our internet service is. We’ve had Time Warner Cable for over ten years now because until recently, that’s all that was available in our area. And, that’s exactly why they treat their customers the way they do, but it seems like they haven’t caught on to the fact that technology and time are allowing us these other options now, other services where we don’t have to be pushed around anymore by a company with no competition.

No, we don’t have DSL available yet, which my dad says is unbelievably faster, where he uses it at his office. And, I won’t argue with him when he says that our 768k speed is slower than dial-up so of course, I got a good laugh when I saw their commercials saying they’re 13 times faster than 768k DSL. Don’t you love when advertisements don’t even compare the same packages to come up with their ridiculous claims? AT&T can make an even better statement: they’re 31 times faster than 768k cable. Good thing for AT&T U-Verse. For $6 more per month, my speed will be four times faster. Can’t wait for my friends to stop telling me that I keep disconnecting on Facebook chat when in fact, I’ve been there all along. Good riddance, Time Warner.

  • The oldest man to ever live was a 120-year-old Japanese. Reports have surfaced that this and the study that Japanese people live longer than any other ethnicity can be complete bullshit. There is a widespread problem in the country where surviving family members pretend their loved ones are still alive so that they can collect federal aid. I’m talking 20, 30 years past their deaths, which would greatly skew the average age in the country. And to think, “we should learn from their healthy tea and fish diet to live longer.” What a joke.

Let me tell you this, my parents’ birthdays are incorrect – only the birthyears are right because of half-assed recording during the Korean War. If they’re not getting records right in the mid-20th century, I’m sure as hell not believing a question mark after the birthyear from pre-19th century.

  • There have been 385 killings in Los Angeles County to date, including 12 reported in the last week. The first two went like this. 1) Subject was in a vehicle about 9p when another car pulled up and someone opened fire. 2) Subject was sitting in a vehicle about 11:30p when a person walked up and started shooting. Just so you know, bullets go through locked doors and closed windows. Think twice before you camp out in your car in a shady neighborhood. Or just think twice about going to a shady neighborhood.

BJ

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