Archive for October, 2009

23
Oct
09

LostForward

I’m not going to deny it.  The first time I saw a commercial for ABC’s FlashForward, the first thing I thought was Lost knock-off.  It’s on the same network, is named after a narrative technique Lost used to great effect and even features two cast members from it.  Unfair comparisons?  Perhaps, but at least it got me curious enough to check it out.  After seeing the first five episodes, I can see myself sticking around for more.  It’s not going to make me plan my Thursday nights around it, but I do want to see where this goes.

We follow a group of FBI agents and the people in their lives as they try to figure out what caused everyone in the world to black out for 2 minutes and 17 seconds, and see themselves six months into the future on April 30, 2010.  The premise is interesting, and the first episode’s cliffhanger was pretty cool.

The show’s big conflict is destiny vs. fate.  Many of the characters fall into two groups, depending on their flash forward.  Those with a positive vision of the future embrace their fate, while those who didn’t like what they saw are doing whatever they can to change their destiny.

So far, FlashForward is slowly unraveling the mystery while throwing a few twists along the way.  The show can’t stand on its premise alone, however, and needs compelling characters to keep the show afloat until something big happens.  That was Lost’s strength and it’s also FlashForward’s weakness.  I can’t say I really care for anyone except for John Cho, whose character had a pretty crappy vision of the future.  It’s different seeing him in a serious role, but it’s refreshing.  I’ll always like him for being the MILF guy, Harold, and Chau (Barney Stinson’s Asian doppelganger from Off Centre).

FlashForward’s been picked up for a full 25-episode season.  I don’t know if there’s plans for multiple seasons nor do I know the length of the 1999 book by Robert J. Sawyer that the show is based on.  But, I think it would benefit the pacing of the show if it has a known endpoint.  Otherwise, the show would go on and on and on about visions of the future and we may not get there anytime soon.  And if that’s the case, then I doubt I’d care to find out who was behind everything.

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22
Oct
09

Yum

Pizza. Sushi. Burgers. Sandwiches. Mexican. Thai. Tapas. Indian. Falafel. Korean. Cuban. I think it goes without saying that there’s food of all sorts readily available in New York City. Sometimes you just need a break from all that and eat something simple.

Enter Macbar, a little establishment whose menu is comprised almost entirely of macaroni and cheese. It has various types to choose from, ranging from cheeseburger, four cheese, beef stroganoff and margherita to more unusual things like lobster and duck. Orders come in three sizes, ranging from 6-12 dollars, and even come in yellow plastic macaroni-shaped containers. Mac n’ cheese is readily available at many sit-down establishments, but the fact that Macbar is primarily a take-out place (though it does have a bench to sit at) really makes it easy to to get my cheesy fix.

I do realize that I’m paying a lot for some glorified hamburger helper, but that takes a lot of time to make. Time I’m sure many people just don’t have anymore. I can’t deny that it’s nice to sit down to some piping hot golden-crusted mac n’ cheese every once in a while, without the work involved.

21
Oct
09

Wife Carrying Championships

Those are three words I never thought I’d see together without other words and articles between them.  It’s a pretty big deal apparently.  North American enthusiasts and hardcore spouse haulers have been competing for the last eight years.  What’s at stake?  Your wife’s weight in beer, five times her weight in money, and qualification for the Wife Carrying world championships in Finland.  Love that Estonian carry.

Where’s my to-do list…

19
Oct
09

Where the Ambivalents Are

I never knew of the existence of “Where the Wild Things Are” until seeing the book at a friend’s house around January of this year and being informed of the forthcoming live-action movie.  That said, I have no emotional connection to the book and therefore had no hopes of reliving my childhood upon seeing the film adaptation.  I was excited to see this movie because it was directed by Spike Jonze and the idea of adapting a book consisting of only nine sentences into a full-length feature film was intriguing.

Now that I’ve finally seen Where the Wild Things Are, I don’t know what to think.  From a technical standpoint, the film looks amazing.  The Wild Things themselves showed a wide range of emotions on their faces and the decision to make them large furry suits with animatronics rather than computer animation was a good move.

Story-wise, I just don’t know.  Maybe I’m too mentally fatigued to wrap my head around what was going on.  Maybe it was the whole row of noisy kids at the front of the theater who disrupted my attention.  Or maybe it just wasn’t good.  I don’t know what to think.  After a certain point of the movie, there didn’t seem to be any clear-cut direction.  It felt like we were meandering through some strange yet fantastical place with Max and the Wild Things until a flux of emotion and frustration between the characters brings the film to its climax.

By the time the credits rolled, I felt nothing.  I didn’t think it stunk, nor was it brilliant.  All I could think was, did I miss something? What did I just see?  One thing I am sure about, is that this is not a children’s movie but rather a grown-up film about childhood.

17
Oct
09

Baywatch revisited

The new fall TV season is here and I’ve been looking for some shows besides How I Met Your Mother to hold me over until Chuck and Lost come back. After seeing a gajillion commercials for Trauma (and hearing that helicopter pilot say “I love my job” in the face of an explosion for the umpteenth time) I thought I’d give it a shot.

Having seen the first three episodes, it dawned on me: Trauma is the new Baywatch. Think about it, both shows center around people rescuing others from danger. The main difference is the setting and the ratio of hot women to men (i.e. too many dudes).

Whereas Baywatch had gratuitous slow-motion running, Trauma has gratuitous violence. Actually, it’s more like random acts of carnage. A kid falling off his skateboard and snapping his neck. A mom getting hit in the neck from random woodwork debris. A teenager taking a break from hitting on a girl to shoot a rival gang member. An old man having a stroke while driving and then plowing through a flea market. Another guy causing a pile-up on the freeway because he was texting-while-driving. Another guy going postal and shooting everyone at a law office, etc etc.

It’s definitely more entertaining than all the drowning kids in Baywatch, but the carnage occurs so frequently it shows that Trauma is really just an exercise in wreaking havoc every 10 minutes. The actual rescues and paramedic moments are standard TV fare. We’re just plodding through meaningless moments in the characters’ lives until the next emergency happens. If the characters were interesting, this wouldn’t be a problem. Unfortunately, only Rabbit and his self-destructive personality is worth a damn.

Trauma is formulaic and can be fun from time to time, but the premise is thin and it seems like it’s already running out of ideas. Can’t say I’m surprised to hear it’s in danger of being cancelled. Already.

15
Oct
09

Happy Dude lives in DC

From this day forward I shall refer to telemarketers as Happy Dude, in reference to Homer Simpson’s telemarketing scam after he got his hands on an auto-dialer (classic episode).  I’ve been receiving calls lately from 202-534-3116 but whoever’s on the other end isn’t leaving any messages.  It’s a DC number but I don’t know anyone from there.  A quick Google search showed I’m not the only one getting a call from Happy Dude.  Apparently he’s offering a free cruise and even plays the soothing sounds of the ocean to get me in the mood for my bounty.  Maybe the next time he calls, I’ll pick up and give a listen.

On second thought, Happy Dude sounds too nice and friendly.  Telemarketers are minions of the devil and they deserve to be called worse.  Much, much worse.

13
Oct
09

Inside everyone of us is…

Caught Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs yesterday in IMAX 3-D (fun movie btw) and they showed a preview for Where the Wild Things Are. As the trailer played and Arcade Fire’s re-recorded “Wake Up” blared, my body started tingling. Even though I’ve watched the trailer numerous times already, I couldn’t believe how I responded to it. Suffice to say, it’s been a while since I’ve been this excited for a movie.