Still up, random trivia fact:

There is an animal called the Hydra, that is apparently immortal.  As in, it shows no signs of aging or death from old age.

Awesome.

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Late night, might be getting sick… so what do I do?

You know how when you were home sick from school or work, and there is only one thing to do during the day?  That’s right, you watch The Price is Right!  It’s just what you DO when you are sick as a dog.

Well it’s not on right now, and I can’t sleep.  So I went to my old fallback of watching something comforting, something that’s like chicken soup for the soul.

What did I settle on?  It was almost Firefly.  It was almost something like Aliens or Die Hard, or one of those top 10 guy movies.  But my roommate-slash-hug-dispenser inspired me just now at 2:30 in the morning.

She woke up from a nightmare and tried to explain it to me in her haze, and I couldn’t stop giggling – she was vehemently trying to explain the frightening images of Truman from the Truman Show (yes, Jim Carrey) being some dark overlord in an experiment where humans and plants and electronics were being combined into some horrific experiment in giant blue-liquid filled fish tanks in some Indiana Jones-sized warehouse.

We decided, just before she sleep-walked back to bed, that it was her brain filtering all the things she encountered at her weekend at PAX Prime.

Long story short, it made me want to watch two things: The Truman Show, and Penny-Arcade: the series.  Netflix has no Truman Show on demand, so I went for PA: the series.  I’m now on episode 7.

Watching the two-parter they do about their involvement in Child’s Play.  I think I wrote about this before, probably on this very blog, and damnit if it didn’t make me cry again.

I have to hawk their wares again, so if you haven’t seen the series, watch the two episodes that start here.

If you like what you see, watch both seasons of the show.  It’s a fascinating look into the lives of two guys just trying to do good work.  And it’s a great thing to fall back on when you are sick and there’s no Bob Barker/Drew Carey on the tee-vee.

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Movie Review: Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Title: Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Director: Rupert Wyatt
Starring:  James Franco, Andy Serkis

If you’ve seen the old Apes movies, you know they are strange, and often over the top.  The new Apes movie is a reboot akin to how well they redid the Batman franchise.  It had subtle, good CGI, top-notch acting, and an interesting story.  In short, this movie was really good science fiction.

Incredibly subtle CGI

This is CGI done right – For the most part.  As my movie-goer partner mentioned, guy flicks seem to always need a helicopter crash.  When it happened in this movie she giggles uncontrollably.  That was the weakest part of the special effects, and was actually well done.  The ape CGI was spectactular.

Top-notch acting

Andy Sirkis’ genius is in full effect here, and he got the proper special effect support he deserves.  The CGI for his Gollum interpretation looked “okay” in Lord of the Rings.  The apes in this movie look incredible.  The visuals, the way they move, everything seems spot on for a super-intelligent species of ape.  As you can see from the picture above, or in the trailer, the eyes, facial expressions, and body language of the apes are very human, and powerfully moving to watch.  When Caesar the ape finally decides that he’s had enough, he gives a single look that still makes me shiver t0o think about.  I remember actually saying out loud in the theater, “Oh shit, it’s on.”

James Franco keeps his excellent acting trend going and really nails every scene.  He’s quickly rising up my list of top-10 actors of his generation.  The talent pool in Hollywood is better than it’s ever been, if you slog through the ever-present bad actors.

Interesting Story

They did a great job with the story as well.  Between the baby ape and Franco’s well-intending character, I was quickly emotionally invested in the story.  It’s fun and fascinating to watch in the first act as they introduce us to the lives of these people (and ape), and quickly becomes serious throughout the remaining two acts of the film – and maintains high quality storytelling throughout.

I feel like I’ve said enough without going into specifics.  To reiterate, this movie is definitely worth watching.  My movie-goer friend had never seen the Apes movies, but it was as easy as prefacing the movie with, “Charlton Heston somehow gets into a future where apes have taken over as the dominant species.  You’ll learn how it all started in this movie.”  And I learned how it started too, and loved every minute of it.

My score: A-

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Mini-review! And, how to make $50,000 scamming people in a video game.

First, because I said I would, my review on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part 2:

It covered all the big points of the book, as I remember it.  But of course I read it like 3 years ago or something.  It was worth the money, but nowhere near amazing.  Voldemort screamed theatrically in every scene.  Then it was over.  I’d say a B-

Okay, now the fun thing:

There’s this massively multiplayer game called EVE Online.  It’s set in space, and it is beautiful, yet boring, to play.  Like most MMO games, you go out and do missions (in this game, it’s in your spacecraft), make in-game money, and buy bigger ships, bigger guns, etc.

The game doesn’t have tons of players, but there are enough people that like this type of game to keep it in the tens of thousands of subscribers.

The neat part is this game is famous for having people steal in-game currency and “stuff” (ships and things) on such a HUGE scale that it has brought up the possibility of being illegal.  A while back one of the most successful “corporations” in the game was infiltrated by a group of players whose only plan was to gain access to their assets, and then steal then when they weren’t looking.  And it worked.  They stole tens of thousands of real world dollars worth of in-game stuff.

Basically, you can use in game currency to buy monthly time-cards for subscriptions (typically it’s $15 a month to keep your subscription going in an MMO), which have real world value.  So you buy those cards with in-game money, sell them on Ebay, and you effectively have just stolen real money from someone.

The funny part is it’s happened again, on the biggest scale yet.

The record has been broken.  Over 1 trillion ISK (in game currency) was stolen by some guys that are smarter than the average noob.  They basically asked for investors, and promised a 5% gain each month on their investment.  They kept up their end until word got around that it was “safe” and oh the money poured in.  After awhile, they said “Fooled you!” and went home – with over $50,000 worth of in-game assets.

Nice.

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Hawwy Pawter and the Defwy Hawwows!

Sorry, it’s early.

I’m off to watch the first showing of the day of The Deathly Hallows, and I can’t wait!  Will put up a review after I digest the film.

WHERE’S MY HOGWART’S SCARF RAAAAAAWR

*edit*

Also – went to a lovely and charming live performance last night with Erin of We Built the Pyramids trivia fame.  It was The Doubleclicks and Marian Call (spelling?  Short on time atm) and it was really, really good.  More later!  Now with 100% more pictures.

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Quick Blog post of stuffs, and upcoming stuffs

My life is crazy right now:

-Currently in the last months of fixing up this 5 bedroom house I’m currently residing in (it’s hard work)
– Getting random extra side jobs, yet nothing that’s taken hold as a real “second job” yet
– Trying to brush up on Spanish in yet another attempt to make myself more “hire-able”
– Job hunting like CRAZY in my free time
– Making sure to spend at least one night a week doing fun stuffs like hitting the bars or BBQs with friends.
– Getting really into the Dresden Files books (Jim Butcher), keeping me up into the wee hours of the night
– Getting about 3 hours of sleep a night because of the work family and friends are doing on the house starting at 6am.
–  Trying to have a life, including doing stuff like blogging.

ANYWAY!  In the near future I will be hopefully:

Dating; Working more; In a respectable place to bring a girl home to; Eating more veggies; enjoying the sunshines!  Oh and yoga.  My sister bought me some classes for my birthday a month ago.  I’ve been putting it off, but she made me promise to try it.  Though I’ll be the one in the class looking the most ridiculous.

It may be awkward.

More interesting blog posts to come soon.  I’ll make the time, damnit!  For now, here’s a link to Patrick Rothfuss’s top 40 fantasy and sci-fi books  (Rothfuss is the author of my new favorite book, Name of the Wind.  It’s absolutely the best fantasy book in the last decade.)  Scroll down for the list.  His blog is always fun, feel free to read it often.

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Movie Review: X-Men: First Class

Title: X-Men: First Class
Director: Matthew Vaughn (Produced Snatch, Lock Stock, Directed Kick-Ass)
Starring:  James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Kevin Bacon

A midnight showing of a comic book movie can be fun.  I will admit I enjoyed the movie overall, but there were good things and bad things about the film.

First, they start off a bit slow, using a bit too much footage from the original movie (Magneto as a child, concentration camp scenes).  It led into some fairly good development behind why Magneto hates people in general.

The Cast – A 3-person job?

I listed only three actors above because they basically carried the movie in my eyes.  The supporting actors were just fine, but every scene is stolen by one of these three, if they were as much as in the periphery.

Kevin Bacon is almost unrecognizable in the beginning of the movie.  He is very convincing as a quiet, ruthless Nazi type.  He goes on to use several different identities, all of them with subtle differences.  He actually pulls off a convincing approximation of what it would be like to go through decades of time, adapting to whatever group serves his purposes.

Michael Fassbender plays Magneto, and gives us a powerful performance of a man tormented and obsessed.  The early part of the film where he is running around getting revenge on the Nazi a-holes is quite good, well done, and doesn’t overdo his mutant powers.  The rest of the film, his acting holds strong.

James McAvoy seems to be great in any role, and this is no exception.  Very good, really held my attention in his scenes.  Pulled off a young Charles Xavier with flying colors.

The Downhill Slide

The rest of the movie is where the film starts falling apart though.  The rest of the actors are alright, but many of them were obviously cast because they are gorgeous.  That’s not a bad thing, but I think some of their characters got too much screen time.  I’ll admit that Zoë Kravitz is ridiculously beautiful, her power is flying around on bug wings.  They show her WAY too much for how little she’s actually moving the story forward.  Overall, several of the mutant powers were stupid, and it used up a bunch of time needlessly.  Penny-Arcade kind of summed that part up perfectly.

The story was decent.  The director, who’s work I loved in Kick-Ass, seemed to suffer a bit from not cutting out enough extraneous scenes.

Ugh – the makeup

The worst part of the movie would be the constant immersion-breaking that seemed to keep happening.  An action scene is going on, and I could only think about how dumb Beast’s makeup is.  I mean, it was REALLY bad.

First, some perspective.  I was impressed how well Kelsey Grammer pulled off Beast in the earlier films:

He pulls it off big time.  Not so for poor Nicholas Hoult:

Granted, the kid that plays Beast in X-Men: First Class is the kid from About a Boy, so he doesn’t have the facial structure to pull off a beastly image without a huge amount of makeup.  He did a great job when he looked normal, his acting is actually quite good:

When he “talks” in blue-form it looks EXACTLY like a kid with a rubber face and blue makeup.  It’s incredibly distracting.

All in all, a rough movie that could have used some more polish.  I enjoyed it, because I’m a fan of X-Men, but they could have made better choices at nearly every turn from casting to more scenes on the cutting room floor.  Not sure who is to blame, a director can only control so much.  Maybe the studio fired his makeup crew halfway through the movie due to budget cuts or something.  If the director or lighting buy did Beast’s makeup, then alright, fair enough.

My score: B- (Would have been a mid-C without the strength of the lead actors)

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