Saturday, February 25, 2012

Movie Reviews: Priest and Cowboys & Aliens

I don't get out to the theater much, and when I do the films usually have chipmunks or animated toys. I did manage to see 2 movies today that I've wanted to see for a while now, thanks to Netflix.

First up was Priest. I love a good vampire movie. This one had some nice twists to apocalyptic future, alterna-history, what-if type scenario with an odd religious element. I understand it was based on a graphic novel series. I'll have to look for those. The movie was action packed and fast paced. A little TOO fast paced, actually. I thought they moved the story along way too rapidly. There were some things I think the film makers could have lingered over. The origins and early battles of the Priests. More back story on the main characters. Build more slowly to the climax on the train. I was left feeling like I'd been rapidly smacked in the face 50 times and it just suddenly stopped. Reeling. Left to process what I'd just seen. Still rates 3.5 out of 5 stars on my awesome meter.

Next came Cowboys & Aliens. When I first saw the title of this movie, I thought, "Wow, that's a really stupid idea." Then I saw the trailer for it. Harrison Ford? Really?! So I added it to my queue. It starts out like a gritty western. The story sucks you in. The aliens show up and you finally start figuring things out. I like how the film maker left the audience feeling as clueless as the main character was (he had amnesia.) We know as much as he does. Which is almost nothing...except we know the aliens are going to show up sooner or later. The movie title told us that much. Again this was another alterna-history/what-if type scenario (I love those) that does a great job of answering the question What IF aliens landed on our planet like 130-150 years ago

We movie viewers have all been raised on sci-fi and comic books. The folks in the film had NO frame of reference except the bible to try and explain what was happening to their town. I instantly knew the guy was wearing a weapon with a proximity detector. He didn't. He sure figured it out soon enough, but they did a great job of leaving you wondering where he GOT it from. Bonus, the movie made me cry at 2 points. Amazing acting job on the part of Adam Beach. I remember him from Law & Order: SVU and the movie Windtalkers - plus a bunch of other stuff. He's yummy. Ahem. Oh! So anyway, I give this flick 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Friday, February 17, 2012

I need to get a life...

I read a news article yesterday about a Mom in southern California (I think) who drowned her two little girls. Sadly, there seems to be WAY too much news of that type these days. But what really struck me were the reported comments from her neighbors. "She kept to herself." "She never seemed to leave the house." "I don't think she had any friends in the neighborhood. No one really knew her."  That really hit home with me. Not that I am in any way, shape, or form thinking about harming my kids! Not that part. I can't fathom that part at all. I've never been able to understand how any mother could harm her children. No, the comments from the neighbors hit home because they could have been describing ME.

See, I don't get out much either. I don't really know too many folks in our neighborhood. I don't putter in a garden or socialize outside. At all. I don't really have any strong friendships with anyone local. I keep to myself, mostly. Why? Mainly because I am a complete introvert and have never felt comfortable in social situations. But realistically, I don't go out much because I am disabled. Chronic pain caused by a rainbow of reasons have me using a cane most days and a walker when I have to walk more than 10 feet or so.  Some of my physical problems have worsened in the last couple years and severe arthritis has slowed me down even more.

If it weren't for my family, I fear I would end up like that other news article I recently read about the guy who was found dead in his home after 7 YEARS. Yep. No one noticed he was gone... except his bank, who finally got around to foreclosing on his house and sent a realtor to assess the property. She found his mostly skeletonized remains on an interior staircase. I had a nightmare last night that it was me the realtor found. Cheerful thought, right? Comments from former co-workers were eerily similar. "He kept to himself mostly." "No one really knew him very well." "I thought he moved away!" Yadda.

The universe is sending me a message again. I need to get out more.

I did try. I spent 4 years helping out at my son's school. I had hoped it would help me make friends. Sure, now I am friendly with several ladies from the local PTA-like group I am a member of, but only to wave hello. Because of health issues, I haven't been to a single monthly meeting so far this school year, however. Sadly, none of the ladies I am friendly with have asked me if I am ok. No emails or phone calls wondering if everything is all right. I'm not pointing fingers! I know it's too easy to get wrapped up in our own lives and not really have the time to wonder about how others are doing. But it does help to make my point.

How do I fix this? What do I need to do so I don't end up a sad story that has my neighbors saying "We didn't really know her. She kept to herself."

Thursday, February 02, 2012

My life is a sitcom...

After waking today NOT sweaty and finding out the furnace broke sometime in the night (can we turn off the heat every night, please?); after the doorbell ringing at 9 in the morning with a small but bulging box that must have weighed 90 lbs, at least (getting that up the stairs was fun); after Max's comical attempt to open said bulging box - what is the latest?

Tyler has been on a quest for a few days to find a new MMO (since Lego Universe shut down.) What does he find? A Dragon Ball Z MMO! Perfect for him, right? Only problem? There are 3 versions of the game...Korean, Chinese and Taiwanese. Hmm. Well, every game is set up pretty much the same way, right? How hard could it be to figure out how to install one of these three versions.

After explaining that he won't be able to read any of the menus, or character chats or probably even chat messages from other players, Tyler still wanted to give it a try. One language version wanted the Korean equivalent of our social security number. After trying a bunch of random combos, forward progress was stymied. On to the next version. You want our country specific cell phone number? What is the country code for China again?

No, that won't work. Next! Oh, there is an English language add on for this version of the game? Cool! But it doesn't translate everything. 5 hours to download? Wow...what are they using, 1200 baud dial-up modems? *snicker* Sorry, geek humor.

5 hours turned into 2 days of failed downloads with retrys, but we finally got the game installed and working. So far, Tyler loves it. Problem? Now Max wants it installed. Here we go again!

The language barrier hasn't been an issue, so far. Tyler found a forum post that mentioned which server all the English speaking players log on to. He did ask if I could find a "look up guide" online that shows the English translation of the various characters/words he is seeing. mean a Taiwanese to English dictionary? That would be a BIG book, I think. Sorry son, there aren't any quick look-up guides for that.

I wonder how a request to add conversational Taiwanese or Chinese language classes to our small town's public school offerings would fly. Ha!