Friday, April 11, 2014

40 Days & 40 Nights......

So my vacation is almost up, and I shall return to yonder U.S. Midwest. It has been a lot of fun and very enlightening on several levels. I feel like I have a much clearer direction for life than I did 2 weeks ago, and more confidence in what I am doing as well. I wish I could have done more writing, but grad school will not relent, and I wanted to spend time with people more than myself, so thus something for another time; I just have to get through another year of grad school and then I shall be oodles more of free!!! So today I decided to get up early and go watch the film Noah. I had heard bad things and good things and also had my own preconceived notions, but nothing really determined. Now after watching the film, I certainly have a strong opinion of it. It is bad. The film started out really strongly with it's take on the Biblical account, even though it took a number of liberties, but it wasn't bad at that point in the beginning. Then everything started going wrong once Noah began building the Ark. The acting was excellent and compelling, but Darren Aronofsky strayed so far from just the spirit of what was written in the Bible, forget the facts, but the man truly did not study the entire Bible. Noah and God were depicted as cold, ruthless, and out of touch with what people needed; also God was not depicted as the ultimate ruler and authority of the cosmos, but rather "The Creator." Mr. Aronofsky was partially responsible for writing the screenplay, and even though it may have been written relatively well, the man took such liberties that it actually worked against the lot, story and characters. I am all for adapting and even taking artistic license with Biblical accounts of people and their struggles as long as the truth remains. Honestly, it wasn't even that great of a film regardless of the severe lack of accuracy it possessed. It was interesting at the beginning, since that was an unexplored part of the story, but then it became so boring and convoluted when Noah began building the Ark, and then during their stay on the Ark when the Flood came it became even more boring all the way to the very end, which sucked. Russell Crowe made a good Noah, but I would have chosen differently, someone less action based, but his performance was excellent. Noah's wife played by Jennifer Connelly was well played, although I would have written her character a little more gutsier and less submissive. Logan Lerman was Ham (he is best known for his work The Olympian Series) and he did well with his character, although his character was completely and utterly written wrong. Ray Winstone was the villain, Tubal-cain, and he was written well and did a good job with his performance. I would have liked to have seen his relationship with Noah grown a whole lot more, but alas it wasn't. Anthony Hopkins played himself as Methusaleh (an almost Yoda like comparison to his character), and the rest of the cast did relatively well, even Emma Watson as Ila, Shem's wife, did a very good job and her character was written well, although once again I wish they would have done more with it. The special effects were okay, the music by Clint Mansell was actually quite good, the cinematography was well done, and I have to say that the only bit of the film that was perfectly accurate was what the Ark looked like, and it looked quite believable. Noah is an interesting film that people can dialog about the actual story and the significance of what happened, along with the fall of humanity from perfection, and how it moved forward and what people were looking forward to, but as a film all on it's own, I wouldn't waste my time again watching this film. Why you ask? Two major things: huge inaccuracies that take away from the story, plot and characters, and it is just plain boring. I can watch boring or depressing films, if the performances of the actors and actresses blow me away, but not if they don't. You won't miss out on much if you don't see this film; the director did better with Black Swan.

Noah featurette

Noah clip

Fargo television series trailer (looks interesting and it has a good cast; who knows) 

Monday, April 7, 2014

"A Dragon Can Never be Tamed."

The vacation is going well here in San Diego; my escape from reality, and I really do not want to return to Illinois. The weather is beautiful, all of my friends are great, and there is so much more to do, and of course there is the beach. One thing that has changed is that all of the drivers are a lot crazier than I recall when I used to live out here, or perhaps I notice more than I used to because I've been doing a lot of driving since I have been out here than what I did before. Grad school has still been a pain in the neck to do while I've been out here; all I did for most of yesterday was school work, not pleasant but I am that much further to graduating and being least until I decide to acquire a doctorate degree. So, Game of Thrones Season 4 started out with a bang yesterday. I didn't see it as it was broadcasted I had it recorded and watched it earlier today. Fortunately they started off on the right foot with episode 1 thank goodness. Tyrion Lannister had a sizable role, as did Arya Stark, and Daenerys Targaryen so all of the good characters that I enjoy. There were also some good new characters, and then it was nice to see some of the good guys get back on top, and from what I understand that is supposed to be more prevalent in this season, which will be nice after the doom and gloom of the previous seasons. I have to confess that I did sneak ahead and investigate what happens to several of the characters and storylines, and I have to say that it was a mixture of bad and good, and I also spoke with a good friend who's read all of the books and answered several questions that I had, including a very fascinating theory that John Snow isn't the bastard son of Ned Stark but rather of some other people, whom I will not say, but it does seem very plausible. The cast continues to be excellent, old and returning; Peter Dinklage as Tyrion just keeps getting better and better, Charles Dance as Tywin Lannister is villainous/cold perfection just to name a few. It should be interesting to see how the series continues to progress and how they will intertwine the books and show, although I do have a really good feeling about the season is going to end, so we shall see how close I come, and if I am correct then it will be superb, although I guess every season has ended with the dragon mother so I might be most likely wrong already. Oh well. My vacation is down to about 5 remaining days, and then I have to return home. Blah. If you are able then you should take a vacation; it has been a lifesaver for me. Valar morghulis.

Game of Thrones Season 4 Episode 1 scene

Game of Thrones Season 4 Episode 2 preview

Friday, April 4, 2014

Winter Heats Up!

If I were to describe the remainder of the month of March, it would be this: no time. Between school and work I had a small amount of time to take care of myself and relax, let alone do any writing or watching anything substantial enough to write about. Now however, I have been on vacation in San Diego for about a week now and it is wonderful! It has been a lifesaver to escape from reality and do just nothing except relax and see old friends again, and not have to worry about the angst of the workplace, although I still have to worry about grad school work, but that isn't too bad, or rather something I can handle while on vacation. I've been to the beach, been shopping, done a lot of driving, and spent a lot of good time with good people. Well progress on Book II of my trilogy has finally reached a big mile marker and I think it should be available this month. Here is the title of Book II of A Warrior's Tale "Dishonor's Scourge." Shortly I will be posting the cover for the new book, and then hopefully I will be posting a link for where to get the book from. Today I took a big departure from reality and watched Captain America: The Winter Soldier and it was lovely! Of all of the Marvel films that I have seen and that have been produced this I believe is perhaps the 2nd best thus far, with The Avengers of course being the first, and the original Iron Man being the 3rd best Marvel produced/based film. Chris Evans is Captain America, no question, and he gets deeper into his character (as much as possible) in this film, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury was perfect and had a larger role in this film which was great. Scarlet Johansson as the Black Widow was just like before; intelligent, beautiful, and deadly, but with a more human side. For the new people, Robert Redford was an awesome edition to the cast and gave the film a good deal of credibility, and of course the man's talent is superb. Emily VanCamp's character was a little disappointing unfortunately as nothing was really done with her as it could have been. Anthony Mackie as Falcon (the guy with wings and a jet pack) was a great edition; not obnoxious, cool, and relatively well written. All around it was a very good cast, even the small roles, and of course the cameo by Stan Lee. The plot of the film is rather complex without giving too much away, but suffice to say that SHIELD isn't everything you thought it was, and that there shadows in the background calling all of the shots. The film was a lot of fun and was directed quite well for an action comic book film adaptation. The action sequences were really well done and choreographed. The music by Henry Jackman surprised me delightfully. It was actually a very well done, decent score with some good motifs; but none as more memorable than the one for The Winter Soldier. It was haunting and modern, and just perfectly fit the character. I think the 3-D was pretty good, from what I remember, although not too many things popped out; the depth and sound were awesome though. There were a lot of things that I enjoyed about the film, but none I enjoyed more than The Winter Soldier character; talk about a super cool villain and character, he was a lot of fun to watch, and an extra dimension within his character, though I will not spoil anything. Make certain that you stick around until all of the credits are gone; you will get a sneak peak of Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch. If you like this genre of films then you will enjoy this one, and if you like good action films, then you will enjoy it too. Well I am going to continue to enjoy my San Diego vacation, sunshine, warm weather, and excellent company and continue this escape from reality.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier preview

Captain America: The Winter Soldier featurette

Godzilla trailer (I do have to say there are possibilities)

Expendables 3 Trailer (looks promising)

Saturday, March 22, 2014

"Everyone Wears A Badge."

I may not live in a daily reality where I am starving, under threat of death, fighting for my survival or living through any other extreme trauma, but it has been a long, stressful and hellish month for me; at least if I was fighting for something I believed in, perhaps I would feel like I'm actually doing something useful with my life rather than just getting ready to do something useful with it eventually. People call it March madness for basketball, I call it that because crazy people get crazier at least here in Illinois. Kids have been going into crisis up the fricking wazoo; cutting themselves, overdosing, threatening to hurt themselves and others, and having psychotic breaks with reality. All the while the program is putting on spring break camp for those with mental health needs, and people are rushing to get stuff done, stay above water, and of course run the camp, which means that we're short staffed because they're aren't enough people to adequately take care of all of the needs, which puts pressure on those not directly involved with camp. I also have grad school, which of course is Statistics this term and another part of my capstone course which is becoming increasingly more and more challenging. I also have to keep tabs on my book progress. I don't know how people who have second jobs, work on-call and have families are managing to remain sane; I am barely keeping my head above water. I swear I'm working close to 50 hours a week and then doing work at home on top of what I am doing for grad school. Thank God I am going on vacation this weekend! Yep, that's right I am returning to sunny, warm and beautiful San Diego for a whole 2 weeks! Granted I will still have to grad school work, but I won't feel overwhelmed like I do now. I just have to get through this week without blowing up, getting fired from saying things I shouldn't, or screaming at anyone; hopefully I will get through it all unscathed. Some good news is that I am okaying the cover art for Book 2 of A Warrior's Tale, so God willing it shall be out very soon. And I just have to say that the cover is amazing! I had no input on it whatsoever and the people or person who put it together was spot on. I was stunned with delight! You know what all of this means right, I have to start writing the third and final book. Where am I going to find the time? That I will worry about later. So much has happened since the last time I wrote, so I will have to summarize. President Putin of Russia has successfully pulled a Hitler and annexed Crimea without firing a shot (I think), and he is increasing his military presence along Ukraine's border. I don't know about ya'll but this is very disturbing and alarming, and I wish more Americans felt that way. The USA is Superman and Russia/Putin is Doomsday (got that reference from my brother in-law) and the only country that can and will stand up to Putin is the USA, no one else has the economic capacity, resources, or conviction of values (certainly not China) to do this, yet President Obama has only made threats and along with the EU sanctioned Russia and some of its wealthier elite, which I doubt will have any significant long term effect. Didn't they read history about when Napoleon and Hitler invaded Russia? Russia outlasts and survives everything that has been thrown at them, even the Mongol hordes; I think they will survive some sanctions. You have to ask yourself concerning an ex-KJB agent who thought the worst event in the 20th century was the fall of the Soviet Union; what's next? Between Syria and Ukraine, Russia's meddling is really costing a lot of lives and messing up geopolitical terrain. It seems reality sucks everywhere. So I decided to take a few breaks from it today when I was doing nothing when I should have been doing homework and work. I watched Gangster Squad which was surprisingly a good and entertaining film about a group of men back in 1949 L.A. who decided to work outside of the mainstream law and bring down a mobster and his flourishing empire. Sean Penn is the villain mobster, which he plays all too well. Josh Brolin is the hero, honest, traditional values minded detective/soldier who spearheads the operation, and he plays it very well; kind of makes you want for the olden days. Then there is Emma Stone who plays  the good looking squeeze of the villain who falls for the young sidekick of the hero Ryan Gosling (who has come light years since Young Hercules) who was amazing; these two were the best part of the entire film. The film was perfectly cast with excellent talent left and right. Granted several of the fight scenes with bullets flying everywhere and no one getting hit was unrealistic (at least I would think so), but it was highly entertaining, the plot kept going, was surprisingly well written, and was shot very well. The film's pleasantness and delight actually surprised me, although it was very gritty, but it was very entertaining and I would definitely watch it again, and if you were going to watching a gangster style of film (which I often don't care for) then I would certainly recommend this one. Well I think I've waffled on long enough. Have an excellent weekend everyone and try to do something to help the people over in Syria and Ukraine; try calling one of your government representatives as that is what they are there for.

Gangster Squad trailer

Maleficent most recent trailer (looks so fantastic, and hopefully it will be thus.)

Da Vinci's Demons season 2 trailer (new season begins today!)

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Springing Forward.

It/s amazing how one doesn't blog for a short amount of time, and during that time so much happens. Well, I'll just say it, although it was almost a week ago; the Academy Awards were a splendid delight, and there were very few bad surprises (if any). Gravity dominated, which surprised me, but Dallas Buyer's Club was another film that acquired a number of Oscars, which I predicted. Ellen was a blast and once again an excellent host that had a lot of fun, and that was what struck me; how much fun everyone seemed to be having. Good show, although John Williams should have won the Oscar for Best Original Score, but that's life. President Vladimir Putin has all but annexed Crimea, and I can't help but make a comparison to what Adolf Hitler did back in the 1930's when he annexed Austria and Czechoslovakia because they were a part of the "Fatherland" originally, and he was also reuniting the German people back with each other. No one thought that he would go any further than that, no one dreamed that he would invade Poland, France, and Eastern Europe and then eventually Russia. Appeasement was how Western Europe and the US dealt with Herr Hitler, and that is most likely what will end up happening with Putin. God only knows what the man is really up to, but if you give a mouse a cookie, he's gonna want a glass of milk. There's a lot going on in the Ukraine right now to write it all down, but ya'll better look into it. American should not isolate itself from world politics like it tried after WWI and believe that what happens in other hemispheres of the world stays there without affecting Americans. Terrorists and absolute dictators are seeing that weakness in America right now, and I guarantee all of you that they will not think twice about striking a blow, no matter on what level. We should keep the people of Ukraine in our thoughts and prayers, and also encourage our governments to take action against Russia, whether it be non-lethal or military action. So, now floating away from reality before one becomes too depressed or upset some good stuff came out in the past few days. Netflix aired the Lost Missions for the Clone Wars, and I have watched quite a few of the episodes thus far, and it still amazes me that they cancelled the show because the episodes were still continuing to get better and better.Granted the best of season 6 will be the last few episodes, but it was interesting watching the development of what "protocol 66" is and where it came from. It's a pity that this means that the show will have officially come to an end, but how ironic that there were 6 seasons, as there are currently 6 films; I like the irony. I have very little hope for Rebels as I have seen previews and had sneak peeks of the characters, and as for Episode VII....well, I am not holding out at all since George Lucas is not behind the writing and creative wheel as he was in all previous 6 films. That's what made it work, and I just don't think that it is going to work without him. So I watched this film Elysium this evening after I thought that it was going to be a lousy film, and I wasn't half wrong. It was entertaining enough to the point where I wasn't miserably bored, and Matt Damon did a fine job along with the rest of the cast, although my favorite character was played by Jodi Foster. I didn't like the premise of the film, which was class warfare; of the super rich vs. pretty much everyone else, which in this case apparently were the super poor (about 95% of the human population in the film). It was essentially a bland film that had fantastic potential, but it will be forgotten in another year or so, and definitely in 10 years. That's about as much as I want to even waste my time writing about the film; not something I would recommend. Don't forget to set your clock forward one hour, although I suppose that would depend on what time zone you're in throughout the world. Just so long as it doesn't snow again in the Midwestern U.S., I will be happy. Good luck to us all, and May the Force be with you all.

Elysium interviews

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For trailer (looks intense, just like the first one was)

The Clone Wars: The Lost Missions 

Saturday, March 1, 2014

A 12 Year Tragedy.

So I finally was able to watch one of the Oscar films; 12 Years A Slave. If the film win any Academy Awards it will be mainly because of two singular reasons, of which Sigmund Freud would only nod his head. The two reasons are; Sex & Violence. The cinematography was excellent, and Hans Zimmer did a fine job with the music, but the writing wasn't that great, the performances were genuine, but all it seemed to be most of the time were pure raw emotions like hate, passion, anguish, and desire. The film was very brutal in its portrayal of slavery and left the audience feeling similar to it's protagonist; hopeless, even at the end of the film I felt like "blah." Michael Fassbender played quite the villain; I think that Magneto looks like an angel in comparison to this character. Even Benedict Cumberbatch's character was somewhat villainous, but an excellent performance nonetheless. Chiwetel Ejiofor (the main character Solomon Northup) did well for his character, but I really wish the writers had come up with far superior dialogue for him to work with than what was there; didn't seem to do his talent much justice. Lupita Nyong'o (Patsey) has been nominated for an Oscar for her role, which seemed rather small to me, but whatever. She cried a lot, begged a lot, screamed a lot, and was also naked a lot, so she'll probably get the award. Her character didn't really get that much closure at the end of the film. In all, the film has been nominated for 9 Academy awards, and I have a feeling that it might just dominate unfortunately; if it isn't obvious yet, I didn't like the film, nor do I think that I could ever watch it again. There was an epilogue of sorts at the end of the film, and I think based off what happened after the real life story of Solomon Northup would have made for a better film than what they actually adapted from the book. Very depressing, dramatically dark, disturbing, and downright unpleasurable to watch. I wouldn't recommend it, even to see, unless you go for that type of thing. There was all sorts of bad news going on over the past few days and today. It snowed once again; yuck! I hate winter. Then of course President Obama made another "red line" and Putin crossed it and sent troops into Ukraine to "help" the ousted president regain control; big surprise. And now Ukraine is so destabilized that who knows how that will affect the rest of Europe; and who was it that said Russia isn't the US's biggest geopolitical foe? It wasn't Mitt Romney. The current Ukraine situation I could yack about for a while, but that is for another type of blog. It's interesting to note how many countries have been destabilizing over the past couple of years and how that seems likely to be the continuing trend. Regardless, the people of Ukraine are the ones caught in the middle of a power play, and so I think some prayers and positive thoughts would he helpful for them at the moment. Finished the 2nd season of Homeland this evening and I was actually impressed this time with how the season ended this time around; there was actually some good writing that was put into the show finally, and the two main characters suddenly became much more likable. We'll see if they can keep it up for the 3rd season. Academy Awards tomorrow night, unless they get drowned out by rain, which would be oh so funny.

12 Years A Slave trailer

Homeland season 3 trailer 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Settling a Score.

As most of you know my taste in music lies in classical and film score predominantly; several people know rock and popular artists, I know film composers and classical music composers. For classical, Beethoven, Mozart and Copland are amongst my favorites, for film scores (and even video & PC games) John Williams, James Horner, Danny Elfman, Hans Zimmer, Jerry Goldsmith, Howard Shore, and Dario Marianelli. There are some rising stars though like Marc Streitenfeld (Robin Hood, Prometheus), Steve Jablonsky (Transformers), Mychael Danna (Life of Pi), Micahel Giacchino (Star Trek), and Nicholas Hooper (The Half-Blood Prince). There are several others who have created some excellent scores here and there, or some bits of a score that were really good, but it's been difficult for me to spot another great like John Williams or Hans Zimmer; both men have completely different styles of composing music, but they both have created some of the most memorable music (or rather John Williams has more often than not). Anyways, all of this talk of music, film scores and composers is because I am focusing on the Oscar for Best Original Score. The nominees are: John Williams (The Book Thief), Steven Price (Gravity), William Butler & Owen Pallett (Her), Alexandre Desplat (Philomena), and Thomas Newman (Saving Mr. Banks). Last year I had it narrowed down pretty good, and there were a good many scores to choose from, and I have listened to most of the scores from this year and I'm not really that impressed. Most of the scores were tinkly sounding, or just strange sounding with no melodious harmony to it. I would prefer John Williams to win it as his score stood out the most and was quite good, but I have a feeling that Alexandre Desplat will win it, which is odd considering most of his music sounds very, very similar (a part of me is bitter for his lackluster performance on his film compositions for the last 2 Harry Potter films). With less than a week of February left it is amazing how quickly time has gone by. Apparently tis the season for revolutions and overthrowing governments. Ukraine booted out their conniving president and issued an arrest warrant for killing civilians (he had snipers killing protesters), which I'm certain was a huge irritating disappointment for Russian president Vladimir Putin. Bummer for him. Hopefully that will be the beginning of the Russian's president's waning geopolitical influence in all of Europe. Now if only the Syrian people could successfully boot Assad out of power than the circle would be complete. It's a shame that they're a forgotten news story with over 150,000 people dead so far with no sign of the civil war ending. I wonder how many of those people would still be alive if the West had intervened right from the start? I wonder if those people and others in the Middle East and the rest of the world are thinking the same exact thing, except with more of a bitter aftertaste left in their mouths?

The Book Thief by John Williams

Gravity by Steven Price

Her by  William Butler & Owen Pallett

Philomena by Alexandre Desplat

Saving Mr. Banks by Thomas Newman

Monday, February 24, 2014

It's All Elementary.

So I got back into the spirit of adventure with season 3 of Sherlock, which of course is produced by the talented folks at the BBC. There are many elements that I continue to enjoy about this series, one of which being the cast. Benedict Cumberbatch is the perfect, modern, whimsical, yet dramatic Sherlock Holmes; a little more ego driven, rude, and ridiculous than Jeremy Brett or Robert Downey Jr., but his performance compensates for those faults. Martin Freeman is a fantastic actor to watch perform, but I have to say that his Watson isn't that good. It always seems to come across that Watson is ineffective, wimpy, unintelligent, and rather dim witted than Arthur Conan wrote him, but it isn't horrible to watch. Mark Gatiss as Mycroft is wonderful balance to the cast, and has continued to do well since he appeared at the beginning of the 1st season. Him and Sherlock go at it on-screen with each other fantastically. There are some good secondary characters and cameos, but that's the main reason people watch. Plots aren't exactly as intricate and interesting as the originals, or even the recent films, but they are amusing enough and written relatively well to keep one's attention. Truthfully though, I would have written it in a different way. Oh well. Yes I have slackened in my review of the Oscar nominations, but life is what it is. So I have Best Hairstyling and Makeup tonight: Dallas Buyer's Club, Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, and The Lone Ranger. Okay only the first nominee should be on this list and I will not comment on the other two; plain and simple Dallas Buyers Club should win it, and that's it. Watched the closing ceremony yesterday for the Sochi Olympics, and it was nice (aside from the irritating commentary from the obnoxious hosts). The Russians put on an excellent opening and a good close, even though President Putin was hard pressed to smile or even look interested during the closing ceremonies. I'm certain the President's mind was elsewhere, perhaps thinking of Russia's setbacks in the Ukraine, or the fact that they lost to the US in hockey. The Summer Olympics in Rio De Janeiro in 2016, and then South Korea in 2018 for Winter Olympics, and then Tokyo for Summer Olympics in 2020. That seems like such a long time away; six years from now. Hope everyone has a lovely week, and the Oscars are in less than a week; don't forget to inscribe March 2nd on the calendar.

Sherlock season 3 trailer

The Clone Wars: Lost Missions trailer
(The show should have never been cancelled; big mistake by Disney & Lucasfilm)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

"I Don't Know Whether to be Proud, or Terrified...."

So this weekend was filled with homework and watching House of Cards, of which I finished season 2 Sunday night while foolishly attempting to complete my assignments for school; not my most brilliant of ideas, but it was difficult to stop once I got started with the show. One of the things that I really enjoy about that show are all of the quotable lines from it, especially with Kevin Spacey's character. The 2nd season ended very strongly, so I am curious to see where the 3rd season goes, and for how long they're going to string this show along. It was an excellent season, and maybe I have to watch it again, but I think that the 1st season was better, possibly, although there were more characters that I didn't like in that season, but the storyline and writing were slightly better. Anyways. I continued on with season 2 of Homeland was good, and then really frustrating and annoying. I just do not care for the 2 main characters whatsoever; I only want to find out what happens next since I got hooked into the show, and I also want to know how they're going to pull one of their main characters back into the central plot. I could say more on it, but I just don't care enough. Work and school, those two things dominate my life currently, so its hard to find more time for the superfluous, and even still the things that matter like the news. News stories such as what's going on in the Ukraine, or in Vietnam, or how thousands of people are being starved to death by the Syrian government and no one is doing anything about it. I feel like countries used to come to each other's aid in the name of humanity, but now it's all about being politically correct; what a wussy world it has become. One of my friends from college was teaching in Norther Iraq for a few years, and during his time he came across a Jesuit priest who told him that members of his order had been forced out of Syria on pain of death (if memory serves correctly). Apparently the priest went back to help those against Assad, he was captured and executed by Al-Qaeda. I also just discovered that there is an American POW being held by the Taliban in Afghanistan, of which US government officials are "negotiating" for; he has been held captive for 5 years. How does that work? Yeah, and I'll leave it at that. Well, work continues tomorrow as does school, and all I have to do is survive it. Good night all!

Guardians of the Galaxy trailer (not sure what to make of it)

Homeland season 2 trailer

Friday, February 14, 2014

"Hunt, Or Be Hunted."

Well I hope that everyone had a lovely Valentine's Day. Mine was....alright I suppose, considering all I did primarily was work, which wasn't too bad, although there are other things that I would have rather been doing. My red velvet cupcakes were a smashing success at the employee Valentine gathering; someone even told me that I could make a good deal of money cooking and baking for people privately; I might just consider that. Aside from doing some homework for grad school, I began watching the long awaited season 2 of House of Cards starring Keven Spacey and Robin Wright, both of whom deliver powerful performances that go beyond the believable; they are the characters. Wow did this show start off with a bang! I love it, and I love this show. If there is anything I've seen that embodies the teachings of Niccolo Machiavelli then it would be the main character, Frank Underwood (FU) in this show, and boy does he do it flawlessly. It's difficult for me to describe why I enjoy this show so much, but it is one of the best shows around. I won't spoil any of the show by summarizing the 1st season, but suffice to say that Frank's power and influence are continuing to exponentially grow, but so are the risks and his enemies as well. Tasteful, well written, good characters that are interesting and changing constantly as you discover more about them. Definitely two thumbs up and then some. If you like political dramas and thrillers, then this is for you. Just remember that Frank is always looking ahead ten steps in case you're like me and try to figure out what's happening before it even happens. For the Oscars tonight we have Best Film Editing: American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, and 12 Years a Slave. It is difficult to predict this Oscar without having seen the film since it is more of a visual and thus technical aspect of the film, but editing is huge in order for a film to be successful. Given the technical glory I've heard about Gravity, I'm going to go with that winning the Oscar but American Hustle is also a possibility.

Season 2 House of Cards trailer 

Star Wars: Rebels (New character voiced by Freddie Prinze Jr.; hope he doesn't kill it).

Thursday, February 13, 2014

"Everyone Missed Something 10 Years Ago...."

Sometimes too many things going on is not a good thing, because then you forget things and then start to eliminate the unnecessary things in order to survive. This is how I have been finding myself lately, and I think I can blame it all on graduate school since that is the one variable that I have never had on top of everything else that I am currently doing. I have to give it up to people who are married with children that work full time and then do school full time; I could not do that as I can barely stay on top of what I am doing. Anyways. I haven't been watching much of the Olympics lately, but I hear good things for the USA, the Netherlands, and Norway. I finished watching season 1 of Homeland, and even though it was interesting and at times good, I do have to say that at the end of the season I was quite disappointed with the characters and the writing; oh so predictable, oh so boring, and all so annoying as well. I didn't really like any of them major characters, and now that I think about it, I didn't really care for any of the secondary characters either. Claire Danes plays a crazy, manic, bipolar CIA agent very well, but it gets old and hence boring after a while. And the plot honestly was not written very well, although they did have the long game in mind when they wrote it, so I suppose that was alright. Yeah, not a lot of good things to say about the show at this point, but I am proceeding to season 2 and perhaps it will improve. Resuming the Oscar countdown tonight we have Best Director: David O'Russell, Alfonso Cuaron, Alexander Payne, Steve McQueen, and Martin Scorsese. I think Steven McQueen will get it for 12 Years a Slave, but then again, he might not. I would like to see Alfonso Cuaron get it for Gravity, but then again David O'Russell might nab it for American Hustle. I think it is down to those three, but more the first two than the 3rd. It's hard to believe that February is almost half-way over. Well I hope that everyone has a lovely Valentines Day; enjoy all of the chocolate, flowers, and kisses that you receive.

David O'Russell on American Hustle

Alfonso Cuaron on Gravity

Alexander Payne on Nebraska

Steve McQueen on 12 Years a Slave

Martin Scorsese on The Wolf of Wall Street

Monday, February 10, 2014

Just Another Work Day.

Can't say that too much happened today, although Homeland is beginning to pick up some more as the final episodes of the first season draw near. I'm actually surprised with all of the plot layers that there are to the series and the characters, not bad writing, although I will reserve my judgement until the end. It didn't snow today, but it was ridiculously cold, even though Siberia was colder; something like -55 degrees below zero. So for the Oscars tonight (continuing on with the technical aspect) are the nominees for Best Costume Design: American Hustle, The Grandmaster, The Great Gatsby, The Invisible Woman, and 12 Years a Slave. I have actually seen The Great Gatsby so I have that going for me as a first for these Oscars so far, and the costume design was exquisite so much so that I believe it should win, and honestly I really believe that it will, but I wouldn't be surprised if American Hustle pulled it off either and won the award. I unfortunately don't have much to post about Game of Thrones, but the sneak peek below prove very interesting, and in a couple of months we'll get to see who dies next, and how much more depressing the series can become. Time to get some sleep, and I hope all of you do as well. Didn't get a chance to watch any of the Olympics, so I hope that I didn't miss anything. Apparently Bob Costas pink eye is getting worse; you'd think that being sick would warrant him some time away from his hosting duties.

Game of Thrones Season 4 Sneak Peek

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Gold Starts to Shine!

Aside from completing a rather negligible amount of homework for school, I watched a lot of the Olympics today. There was alpine skiing which was quite a rush. At some points those guys were going over 80 mph; fortunately no one took a tumble down the mountain. There was also snowboarding slope style, which USA Jamie Anderson took home the gold for after an impressive last run. Congrats to her! The individual who was favored to place ended up crashing severely during a run and cracking her helmet, but she was alright and finished her run. Cross country skiing was intense at the finish (18 km) and those men just crashed to the ground when they crossed the finish line. Then there was also the women's biathlon which was also fairly intense. The best part for me though was the figure skating, and tonight they finished up the team event with Russia winning the gold, Canada the Silver, and USA with the Bronze; now they move onto individual events. Even though I do not care for Evgeny  Plushenko that much, he did very well, as did his compatriots in the ice dancing, but the best was Julia Lipnitskaia who just owned. Even the Americans fared very well, but their salvation as a team was the ice dancing couple Meryl Davis and Charlie White who were stunning on the ice, so much fun to watch. I cannot wait for the individual events to take place! Now we start moving on to the more technical elements in the Oscars, and starting if off are the nominations for Best Cinematography: The Grandmaster, Gravity, Inside Llewyn Davis, Nebraska, and Prisoners. Now I have, surprise-surprise, seen none of these films, but I am going to go with what I assume is the Oscar favorite of Gravity to win the Oscar, because all I've heard is how breathtaking and groundbreaking it is, and not to mention the nominees don't really sound that much up to scratch against it. Oh well. Here comes another week of work and grad school; yuck, and guess what, it is supposedly going to snow 5 days of the week. Fortunately there are the Olympics to drown my sorrows, and the upcoming second season of House of Cards on Netflix this Friday! Super excited about that. Have a great week everyone, and get in as much of the Olympics as you can, they're quite awesome.

USA Ice Dancers Meryl Davis & Charlie White

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Have Shovel, Snow Will Fall.

It's a good thing that I didn't have anything planned for today because all it did was snow all day long, and it was that big fluffy stuff. I hate snow. It's strange to think that a year ago today I was still technically unemployed and living with my sister and brother in-law in their basement, whereas today I have been at the same job for almost a year and now have my own place. Just when you think all is going to hell, things turn out pretty good. So there was skiing, snowboarding, and skating on today that I watched for the Olympics. Granted I am about a day plus behind on who is winning or losing what, but I am going to go according to what gets broadcast on NBC as it comes that way there are no surprises before I see the competition. The US made an impressive show with the snowboard freestyle slope (or something like that) and Sage Kotsenburg won a gold medal for the event. For figure skating in the team event, the United States is currently at 3rd thanks to the great talent of ice dancing couple Charlie White and Meryl Davis who gave a fantastic performance. It should get more interesting as the events move along, and I try to remain aloof to what has happened until after I have seen it. For on the Oscars for tonight we have Best Animated Feature Film: The Croods, Despicable Me 2, Ernest & Celestine, Frozen, and The Wind Rises. Okay, I have seen none of these films but have heard a lot about them. Now most of these studios/creators have won Oscars before, and then there's the success/money point of view to take into account, but after all of that I'm going with Frozen, although there is a good chance that Ernest & Celestine will win instead. The Oscars frequently like the underdog. Oh I can't wait for summer, although I'd settle for spring right about now. Have a good night everyone.

The Croods trailer

Despicable Me 2 trailer

Ernest & Celestine trailer

Frozen trailer

The Wind Rises trailer

Friday, February 7, 2014

From Vancouver to Sochi 4 Years Later.

Though technically the opening ceremony was yesterday, it was broadcast this evening in the USA. I don't really remember the opening ceremony to Vancouver in 2010, or for Turin in 2006, but I recall a good deal in Utah in 2002 and Nagano in 1998. I do have to say that I did enjoy the opening ceremony and display that the Russians put on; I have to admit that it was very cool, especially with what they were able to do with all of the projectors making it seem like holography at times. They had a good choice with music ranging from Igor Stravinksy, Peter Tchaikovsky, John Philip Sousa, and Daft Punk even. One of my favorite sequences during the opening was during the telling of Imperial Russia which was done with ballet and dance, very lovely. Then came the dark times; communism, Lenin, Stalin and eventually the Soviet Union of Socialist Republic. That was a very interesting retelling of history. I did like the dream like aspect of the overall performance. The lighting of the torch was very anti-climactic, although of every opening ceremony I've seen, nothing has matched or topped the Utah Olympics in that regard. I really wish that I could have seen Beijing in 2008; I just keep hearing about that constantly about how great it was. The entire opening would have also been better without the announcers interrupting and commenting on everything that was happening on screen, one of them even insulted the Russians, and I think he realized it because they were much quieter after that. Well over the next couple days it should be nice to see how things go for all of the athletes participating, and hopefully nothing bad happens. Go team USA! Even though it's small pickings compared to the Olympics, tonight, for the Oscars, I am featuring the nominees for Best Supporting Actress: Sally Hawkins, Jennifer Lawrence, Lupita Nyong'o, Julia Roberts, June Squibb. As the trend continues I have seen none of the films which these performances are attached to, however I am going to roll the dice yet again and stated that Sally Hawkins will win for Blue Jasmine. It is mostly gut, but I wouldn't be surprised if Julia Roberts snagged the Oscar as well. The weekend is here, so time for some fun, and of course what would it be like without some homework to stress me out with. Have a good night everyone, and don't forget to tune in to watch the Olympics.

 Sally Hawkins on Blue Jasmine

Jennifer Lawrence on American Hustle

Lupita Nyong'o on 12 Years a Slave

Julia Roberts on August: Osage County

June Squibb on Nebraska

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Sharing the Bug.

So aside from it being very busy at work today, there have been a number of people calling out sick over the past few days, so I can only imagine what has been going around. All I have to say once again is thank God tomorrow is Friday, and this weekend I shall have all to myself! Despite having to do some homework. Nothing good really going on that I can share currently, so I shall proceed to the main event. Featured tonight for the Oscars is Best Male Supporting Actor: Barkhad Abdi, Bradley Cooper, Michael Fassbender, Jonah Hill, and Jared Leto. Once again I have never seen any of these films, but I have seen performances by several of the actors in question, and all of them are quite talented. I'm going to go with my gut instinct again and say that Jared Leto is most likely going to snag the Oscar, but I wouldn't be surprised if Michael Fassbender gets it. Though I would be quite surprised if anyone else got the Oscar. Edgy and gritty reality I think will be the general theme for Oscar winning fare this year, but we shall see in a couple weeks. In the meantime though, the opening ceremony for the Olympics airs tomorrow if I am correct and then I shall have a little more to chat about once that happens and the games begin. Have an excellent night everyone.

Barkhad Abdi on Captain Phillips

Bradley Cooper on American Hustle

Michael Fassbender on 12 Years a Slave

Jonah Hill on The Wolf of Wall Street

Jared Leton on The Dallas Buyers Club

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

"All Those Who Gain Power are Afraid to Lose it....."

So I continued my marathon of Stars Wars this evening with Revenge of the Sith, and even though it isn't as visually stunning as Attack of the Clones, it's still pretty great, and yes it remains my 2nd favorite of the saga, with The Empire Strikes Back being my favorite. Getting back into the groove at work went better than I had anticipated, although I felt like Westley from The Princess Bride when he gets so many years of life sucked out of him. Hopefully there will be no relapses. In regards to my trilogy, I am working on finalizing the textblock of the book and working on the back cover. Next up will be the cover art, which I am very excited to work with the artist on. Slowly but surely everything continues to move along. So tonight at the Oscars we have Best Actress in a Leading Role: Amy Adams, Cate Blanchett, Sandra Bullock, Judi Dench, and Meryl Streep.Well right off the bat Cate, Sandra and Meryl aren't going to get it because they already have Oscars, although my gut is telling me that Cate might get it. My money is on Amy Adams though; very talented, and always delivers a great performance, although I would be fine with Judi Dench winning as well. Now we'll see what comes of my predictions. Hopefully I will get to blog on that, unless I end up buried in a snow bank created by snow falling and the wind drifting it as well. There it is.

Amy Adams on American Hustle

Cate Blanchett on Blue Jasmine

Sandra Bullock on Gravity

Judi Dench on Philomena

Meryl Streep on August: Osage County