• Movies

    2011 Summer Movie Reviews

    I don’t consider any movie coming out in August as part of the summer viewing experience because if it was any good it should be out before Labor day because why would they want to waste any time to lose out on all the time off students have.

    Movies that i did watch and you should too:

    • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2
    • Super 8
    • Kung Fu Panda 2
    • Bridesmaids
    • Captain America: The First Avenger
    • Cars 2
    • Fast Five
    All these movies were very enjoyable and I would actually recommend spending your hard earned cash on watching and feel like you came out of the theater like you gained something from it. Whether it was closure with Harry Potter, laughing for yourself with Bridesmaids, getting kids to laugh with Kung Fu Panda and Cars 2, or just the thrill of excitement from Super 8, Fast Five or Captain America.
    Harry Potter was probably my favorite movie of the summer and so much more because i have followed the Hogwarts kids through out the entire series and having a great finale puts a great end to the story line. I also believe that even if you haven’t been following the wizards and witches that you can still enjoy it with all its action and plot twists.
    As for the kids movie i enjoyed Cars 2 much more than Kung Fu Panda 2 because at the most Cars 2 was trying to be James Bond for kids, rather than Kung Fu Panda 2 which i felt was just a prequel to whole other series of story lines in the future.

     

    Movies that i never got around to watching:

    • The Hangover 2
    • Pirates of the Caribbean 4
    • Thor
    • X-men First Class
    I guess it just became the case if I didn’t see it on the opening weekend it was just not a movie that I needed to see.

     

    Movies that you should just avoid:

    • Transformers 3
    • Zookeeper
    • The Smurfs
    • Mr. Poppers Penguins
    What i’m trying to tell you that the mix of Live Action actors and purely animated counterparts just isn’t working, and it hasn’t worked really since Who Framed Roger Rabbit, but even then the point of the animated characters were that they were actually cartoon characters. If you look at the movies that are actually doing well in the theater (besides transformers) went either purely Live Action or was purely a Cartoon. Hollywood execs seem to be in the same boat as car manufactures these days with trying to appeal to two different clients and ending up with a product that neither party actually like. Its like the craze of so called cross over cars which lack the practicality of a sedan and lack the utility of a full sized SUV. In the end the product that comes out neither is intelligently written or funny enough to make up for the lack of story. Of course i’m assuming all of this since i didn’t see any of them and by the moderate returns of box office results of Zookeeper and Mr. Poppers Penguins there’s probably no stopping them from coming out with Zookeeper 2 When Animals Attack and Mr. Poppers Platypuses next summer continually pad the pockets of those execs.

     

  • Chapters

    Travel Plans

    This month i’ve spent a lot of time on travel websites creating my own pricing matrix for the three trips planned for the rest of the year. As much as i would like to throw Hawaii into the mix Las Vegas, San Francisco and a Thailand/Japan trip are taking precedents over the Aloha State.

    The first trip coming up to Las Vegas for the LV Basketball Invitational is happening in September and after a deliberation about driving up Joy and I thought it would be best just to fly. Two days of basketball, and i’m sure drinking would not make a pleasant Sunday morning drive home. That plan would have been great if i would’ve just bought the tickets when i found them for $59 each way, but of course i waited two extra days to end up having to do some ninja style booking by flying out on a Friday in the afternoon on Southwest, and having to book a separate flight home on United on Sunday so that we could save as much money as possible (well not as much money because leaving vegas at 7am is idiotic). Of course on top of that we had to book a hotel, and staying at the California at least makes that part of the trip cheaper. I’m actually not too sure what night activities we’ll be doing since we are so far away and we’re not really going with any friends of our own.

    In October we hoped aboard the Party Bus and decided to join my sister and her friends to see Journey in Mountain View. There was another debate about driving up, but once again laziness prevailed and taking an extra day off on the Thursday before the concert made getting flights on Jetblue much cheaper. This will be the first time that I’ll have to take the BART from the airport, but now since Joy had to do it last year for a bachelorette party she thinks she a pro at it now. It also appears that Nina has requested that Friday off as well so i suspect much Muni riding, and ice cream eating for that day, and maybe i can go get another “I had friends on that Deathstar” shirt that i think i left at the hotel on my last trip to Vegas.

    For the grand finale of the year is the long awaited trip back to the motherland. During the research of flights we’ve found that the direct flight is going to cost a hell of a lot of money and so we checked out some other airlines and stumbled upon Singapore who has to make stops in either Singapore or Tokyo, so we thought why not make the most of our trip and do a stop over in Tokyo for a couple days to indulge in some food and beer. Of course the most important part is going to Thailand to my new extended family and to show Joy a little more of Thailand than just Bangkok. Amazingly she’s never been outside the immediate vicinity of Bangkok even while living there, while i’ve travelled all the way to the north to the Golden Triangle and down south to Phi Phi Islands. I’m not sure what i’m looking forward to most (besides the food) but i want to maybe get a little immersed into the culture, art and history of the country. Too bad flights at the moment are about $1600 per person, because the last times i’ve flown it only costed $1100 in 2006, and $730 in 2002 and that seems like a bit of an inflation cost even factoring the rise in gas costs. I guess we just wont be splurging on any extra satays,  pathongko or roti.

  • Chapters

    Marketing Genius

    Those geniuses at YogurtLand who took someone else’s idea and changed it up a bit and has grown bigger and better than the original Pinkberry have done it again partnering up with those Sanrio. Ever since this weekend i kept seeing people checking in and snapping shots of their character spoons and posting them onto Facebook. Tonight Joy convinced me to go get our own after dinner and i have to say i was looking forward to adding to our collection of spoon Tokidoki spoons. Even if they are bio-degradable we like to keep them to use over and over again for ice cream at home.

    Also if you go to their website you can enter their sweepstakes to win $1000 shopping spree, more yogurt or a Hello Kitty bicycle.

    Here are some of the photos from my friends:

    Joy’s photo

    Annie’s photo

    Nina’s photo

    Berna’s photo

     

  • Friends,  Los Angeles Local,  Movies

    Cars 2 visits El Capitan

    Disney/Pixar sure know how to make money, and I can’t blame them. I can’t decide if the largest reason for them to create Cars 2 was for its huge merchandise sales, or for the opening of Cars Land at Disney’s California Adventure next year.

    In the five years since its 2006 release, “Cars” has generated global retail sales approaching $10 billion, according to Disney.

    No fewer than 300 toys €” and countless other items, including bedding, backpacks and SpaghettiOs €” are rolling out in stores, in anticipation of the “Cars 2” opening.

    Cars 2 has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 35%, which normally has a pretty good comparison to what i think of a movie, but I was surprisingly happy with the movie, but i’ll have another post about all the movies i watched in a few days. I really thought going in that i was either going to be bored or pissed off by the over marketing and maybe because i had such low expectations that it had no where to go but up.

    All my friends have 3/4 year old boys in the household so of course they were all about the first Cars movie, each owning their own Lightning McQueen and Tow Mater  toys, and knowing the all the words to the movie. We all got tickets to see it at The El Capitan (buying tickets on Gold Star for $14/adult) and got to enter the Cars 2 experience in the back lot of Hollywood High School.

    The playground was very Disney-esque. and all the kids were going crazy with all the things to do and all the characters available for pictures.  There were plenty of things to do that will have you easily spend 2 hours outside and enough stuff to keep the adults entertained as well.

    I especially liked the build your own Lego car and race down a track, but as cool as my car looked it crashed and burned halfway down the track.

    Green screen pictures which you get the FULL size resolutions available for download for FREE! There are 4 themes to choose from, and looking back we probably should have gotten a few more taken.

    An obstacle course for kids and adults, that can be really tricky for the shorter kids who can’t reach the peddles or don’t know how to actually ride a bike yet.

    On top of those there was tire playground for the kids to run around and be kids. A high carpet slide to go down, an Peterson Auto Museum exhibit, bungee cord jumping thing, and some arts and crafts area to let the kids get messy. It was well worth the extra costs for going to the El Capitan to see the movie.

  • Chapters

    Lost in the Hills

    What was suppose to be an easy hike around Griffith Observatory turned out to be exploration of the hills of Los Angeles. Joy and I had never hiked the place so it was all new and didn’t actually know where to start from and I saw some hikers at the bottom and the hill and figured that it was around there. Little did i know that it was going to be an all morning event heading up paths that we didn’t know in a destination that we could see in the distance but really had no idea how to get there. We ended up have to back track about 5 times, and almost gave up, but finally found the right path to the back route to the observatory. As much as it was frustrating not knowing where to go, it was actually more beneficial since now I know all the routes around and about the mountain.

    There is our destination in the distance.

    Here is the bridge at the very top of the mountain.

    Seeing hikers made us feel better about which way we were headed.

     

    Our victory celebration.

  • Chapters

    Official Invite

    Its been quite fun having a regular basketball game to go to once a week, as its gotten me back in shape and as let me get to know a bunch of really good guys. I’ve developed quite a reputation of amongst the other players as being the fast guy, and i’m proud to own up to that, since i learned long ago that my outside shooting, is spotty at best, and dribbling isn’t the strongest of my abilities so as long as i can run faster than my defender than i have an advantage. I’ve learned to exploit this ability at much as possible and its helped me learn to be more aggressive while on the court.

    A few weeks ago i got an e-mail from one of the guys asking me to see if i was interested in joining his team for the Las Vegas Invitational. I couldn’t agree to join fast enough as its been something that i’ve known about for years, but never got a chance to participate in. Basically its a 2 day event in Las Vegas where some hundreds of players (mostly Japanese) meet up for a tournament for a good cause. I’ve never actually played regulated ball before, and having refs and actually shooting free throws will be something new to me, but i’m up for the challenge. This will probably the only time that i’m excited about going to Vegas that has nothing to do with alcohol, staying up late, or eating exceptionally fatty foods, but for the pure adrenaline of it. It’ll also be the first time staying downtown at the California Hotel along with all the other 2000 participates and i’m hoping to bump into some people that i know. I suppose i’ll throw down a few bucks at the dollar roulette or $5 blackjack table, but that’ll just be a bonus for everything else going on during the weekend.

     

  • Chapters

    The first 4 days

    July kicked off with a long weekend, and a lot of time outside of the house. Friday night I went to play some basketball since i stayed so late in the office all week that i felt i needed to break a sweat. It was a really crowded night with a total of 25 people showing up, but I still managed to play about 5 or 6 games. A slightly twisted ankle, a pound of sweat and really put me to sleep.

    I was worried about my ankle swelling because Joy and I had already made plans to go hiking and when i woke up it didn’t seem bad at all so we laced up our hiking boots and went to Temescal Canyon for a leisurely 5 mile hike to a trickling waterfall and a gloomy view of Santa Monica. For lunch we ended up at The Misfit on the 3rd St. Promenade because they had a two for one entree brunch and it also happened to be happy hour at noon so we enjoyed some eggs, delicious asparagus salad and a sangria for a strong performance on the mountain. The people sitting next to us mentioned that we have to wait to get their sea salt chocochip cookies, and we did and they were warm and so very tasty as long as you didn’t get a mouth full of salt. That night we went to watch Transformers 3, but i’ll save that review for another post.

    For the third of July it was an all out beach day in the south bay that started off with a 4 mile run from Manhattan Beach to Hermosa Beach down the chip trail and running back along the beach. Once we got back to our car we changed into flip-flops and walked backed to Hermosa to have some beers on the strand and wait for some friends to get to the beach too. The beach was really crowded with all the volleyball courts taken and some pretty fancy setups from boom boxes to straight up DJ’s spinning under a popup tent. There sure don’t mess around with their beach fun here in the south bay, the marketers know where to go because we ended up getting a free frisbee, bottles of water and coconut water. Too bad the sun peaked out of the clouds for a total of five minutes or else it would have been a perfect day otherwise. We got a few games of volleyball in before heading to Andrea’s apartment for some beers, steaks and a game of movies? A cross between pictionary and telephone which made for a very safe and sane night.

    When we got home there was some house party in the neighborhood that had a band playing in the back which was coming straight into our windows. I actually wouldn’t have minded because i know what its like to get their age, but i just couldn’t stand how badly they played. They used so much unnecessary distortion and really had no business trying to even attempt at playing Metallica’s Master and Puppets that i had to do the unthinkable, call the police to file a noise complaint. At least i waited till after 11:30pm, but by then it didn’t seem like it was going to end and Joy needed to get some sleep so i had to do it. About ten minutes later it was nice and quiet.

    As for the actually 4th of July, Joy had to of course work, but got off early enough so that we could head to her cousin’s house in North Hollywood to grill up some burgers and chili, and to have her cousin Pat’s homemade funnel cake. So good and an awesome way to end the weekend. Ever since we move away from Santa Monica, we don’t go up to visit as much as we should, but the drive and the weather really do make us think about making the trek out there. Joy’s nieces are growing up so fast and are so different from when i first met them as just toddlers and munchkins. It was a very busy weekend but a super fun one indeed.

     

  • Chapters

    Upgrading to the TSX

    It was a sad moment when i decided to sell my Honda Civic Si, but it was time to let it go and get a new car. About 3 months of research Joy and I contemplated on a few models of cars from leasing a 1 series BMW, Honda CR-V, Honda Accord, Acura RDX, and after an exhaustive research and test drives we decided on getting an 2009 Acura TSX. It took a few weeks for my dad to sell my car as we actually had a buyer but something came up and they decided to pull out, and then it wasn’t for a couple more week until the car eventually has passed on to another driver. With a few tips from the Interwebs i made sure that I had all my ducks in a row and pre-sold my car, got pre-approved for a loan, and knew how much we wanted to pay. Two weeks of real online searching last Sunday I had been watching a particular car at Santa Monica Acura, and saw that they dropped the price again below what we wanted to pay. We went straight over, test drove it and went into negotiations. We got them to lower the price a few more hundred dollars and drove out with a brand new certified used black Acura TSX.

    While my dad was selling my car, Jonathan bought a Ford Flex and let me drive out the lease of the company’s 2009 BMX 3 series wagon. Moving from the Si to the BMW was sure a huge change of driving machine, but one thing i realized was that after driving a manual transmission for half my life and my entire driving life i’m pretty tired of shifting in traffic. I’m sure if i had a long fast commute i would still like it, but at this point i’m ready to move on to the easy life of an automatic.