Friday, August 31, 2012

Breaking Bad: Season 4

This show has been nothing short of awesome the first three seasons so I was pretty stoked my parents ordered up the fourth season on DVD to watch while I was visiting.  We only made it through about half the season there and I finished up the rest at home.  The first half actually has some bad episodes.  None is as bad as the one about the fly, but some come close.  Breaking Bad is about a good guy who makes meth to provide for his family so the first seasons focused on his dealings with rival gangs, etc., and featured quite a bit of violence.  The first half of season 4 focuses more on his family and I don't care for them.  His wife is annoying and his son is even more so because of his voice.

Fortunately, the second half of this season gets back to basics and the episodes feel like they could belong in seasons 1-3.  There is plenty of violence, plenty of conflict and you can see the changes in Walt so you know season 5 is going to be good.

I highly recommend this season because of how it ends.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Fitness update

Well, well, well.  It seems my 11 day vacation to OR didn't really set me back any or perhaps it's the fitness challenge at work which started at the beginning of this month.  In any case, I've set or have gotten close to records in body fat percentage and chunk circumference.  Sweet.

The challenge is less competitive than I thought, but I'm still trying to put in two hours a day.  I'm a few hours, in total, behind my boss, but he's training for a half-Ironman triathlon.  The race is on Labor Day and he's going to cut way back after so I'll have three weeks to catch up.  Of course, he'll get something like ten hours  that day just from the race so it'll be tough.

I feel great, I feel strong and I'm much leaner.  The spare tire has deflated quite a bit, but is still present so I have work yet to do.  I've set some good habits so I know I'll hit my target of 20% body fat by the end of the year for sure.

Friday, August 24, 2012

John Carter

This wretched movie reeks of Disney - big budget, inspid plot, banal dialogue, awkward romance, bad movie physics and a happy ending.  I knew it wasn't the movie for me ten minutes into it and the remaining two hours proved me right.  Why did I continue to watch?  I kept hoping it would get better.  I did chuckle at a few spots, but those three or four laughs don't make up for the garbage that was the rest.

So many things made little sense that I'm not even sure where to begin.  Nothing about Mars had any scientific basis.

Don't bother watching this movie.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Fugitives of Chaos by John C Wright

The second book in Wright's Narnia-esque series picks up where the first one left off.  It doesn't offer anything new, but I don't see that as a bad thing.  I enjoyed this book since he tries to provide a scientific or rational explanation for the gods and their various powers.  No one is omnipotent and the magic obeys Sanderson's First Law, which is crucial for the success of a story with magic.  Wright has added an interesting layer to our reality and has created unique characters.  They're supposed to be young adults and their actions are believable.

I highly recommend this book.


I have to admit that I'm biased about this movie because my sister-in-law worked on it (she made puppet heads).  I got to see a special screening of it a week before it opened along with employees and friends and family since Laika is in the Portland area.  Laika did Coraline which I really liked since I like dark stories.  ParaNorman is dark for a kids movie, but more light-hearted than Coraline.  The animation/puppetry is tight and visually appealing.  The plot is tight and the movie doesn't feel like pap put out just to sell toys like most Dreamworks' movies.  There are some funny parts and a good message.  The voice actors are appropriate and do a great job.

We got to see it in 3D and it was a nice bonus since it wasn't over-the-top with stuff coming at you all the time.

I think this movie is appropriate for kids older than 5, but adults should enjoy it as well.  I highly recommend it.

Perdido Street Station by China Mieville

This book is the first of Mieville's Bas-Lag series and was just as weird as the third one.  His world is mostly steampunk with some magic/occult thrown in.  His writing is... different, but I haven't decided if that's a good thing or not.  The story was strange and overly convoluted, but the third book makes a bit more sense now because I know more about Bas-Lag.

He does introduce some interesting concepts like the punishment factories and Remade so I recommend you give this book a shot.

The Dark Knight Rises

I saw this movie with my mom while I was in Portland.  I had heard some things about it, but went in with the expectation that I would be entertained by mindless violence and explosions.  I was surprised to be severely disappointed.  While there is some violence, it's not enough to make up for the weak plot and the unsubtle right-wing propaganda.  The villain, Bane, was done incorrectly and serves little purpose.  Catwoman was also wasted though it's nice to see Anne Hathaway in tight leather.

I'm not a fan of DC's big screen adaptations and I only liked the second Nolan Batman movie because of Ledger's performance.  This one was heavy on Bale and I don't care for his fake Eastwood Batman voice.

I recommend this movie only if you know you're going to like it.  It's really long and is likely to be a big waste of time.

21 Jump Street (2012)

I watched this movie on my iPad on the way to Portland since comedies are easier to me to watch in the plane because they don't require my full attention.  I thought this movie was funny, but not overly so.  The plot was pretty stupid, but I think that was on purpose.  The acting was ok, but nothing special.  Hollywood has a hard time getting high school kids right because they always cast actors in their twenties.

I recommend this movie only if you have some time to kill on a plane.

The Serpent Passage by Todd Allen Pitts

I read this book for free on my Kindle through Amazon Prime.  I like historical fiction and this book falls into the historical fantasy category.  The first two-thirds of the book is ok, but then it goes downhill in a hurry.  It devolved into something I can only describe as stupid.  The book feels amateurish and not well edited; something you might have written when you were thirteen.

I do not recommend this book.

Elite Squad: The Enemy Within

This movie is Brazilian which means it's either about sex, drugs or violence.  In this case, it's about drugs and violence.  You follow the story of a drug cop as he tries to clean stuff up.  I was able to follow the plot pretty well, but had a hard time caring about any of the characters.  There was an adequate amount of violence, but it assumed too much knowledge of Brasil for me to fully enjoy it.

I recommend this movie only if you've run out of ideas.