Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Year's End

I end this year as I ended the last: away from home. Last December 31st, I was celebrating (more or less) with my brother at my grandparents in Florida. Today (or tonight, rather), I'll be celebrating with my immediate family and the tour group, some of whom I've come to be on very good terms with, in Costa Rica.
The hotel has a whole shebang set up to ring in the new year. To be honest, I'd be content ringing in the new year back home with family friends, as we have in previous years. But ... *sigh* vacation before celebration, I guess?
Overall, I would say that 2009 was a great year for me. I started and ended two more semesters at college. I made a ton of friends around the country and around the world and I had a chance to meet some of them, which was quite nice. I got to see a few cool gigs and met a celeb or two or a few. And there's a whole lot more. But I'll save that for another time, I guess.
And I'll be beginning the new year as I did this one: away from home.
Happy New Year.

P.S. 2010 will be the start of my 1 year Photoblog experiment.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Movies of 2009

What follows is a list of all the new films I have seen in 2009. And by new, I mean films that I've seen in theaters that have been released in 2009. I was hoping to see more, but *sigh* things happen.

  • Coraline
  • Watchmen
  • Star Trek
  • Up
  • Moon
  • Transformers 2
  • The Hurt Locker
  • Julie and Julia
  • District 9
  • 9
  • Zombieland
  • Where the Wild Things Are
  • Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince 

My least favorite out of all of them is above and beyond Transformers 2. To put it simply ... it was a giant turd. That is all about that.
As for my favorite ... I can't decide. I'm split between District 9, Star Trek, and Moon for best Sci-Fi flick. I'm split between Coraline and Where the Wild Things Are for best adaptation. *sigh* If I had to pick 1 film and 1 film only ... I'd probably go with Up for being the most original, whimsical, up-lifting (no pun intended), emotional film I saw this year.
As for Harry Potter, which I saw on the plane ... it was meh. Yes, the story flowed, but some bits felt rushed and others were left out and some things weren't quite as I envisioned them while reading the novel a few years ago. I'll post a full capsule review in the new year.
Hopefully I shall see more in the coming year. And I most definitely will, seeing as one of the major summer blockbusters is Iron Man 2, which looks like it'll be an absolute thrill ride.
Until next year, multiplex.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Books of 2009

It is recommended that high schoolers read at least 25 books a year. I am not in high school. And when I was, I nearly read roughly double that amount. Yearly.
The yearly Nerdfighter book challenge is to read 50 books in a year. I beat that. ... Well, I didn't double it, but I came a few books shy of quartering it.
So, without further adieu, here is the list of novels (both graphic and not) that I have finished over the course of 2009.

  1. Death: The High Cost of Living (Neil Gaiman)
  2. The Graveyard Book (“)
  3. Storm Front (Jim Butcher)
  4. Fool Moon (“)
  5. Death Masks (“)
  6. Blood Rites (“)
  7. Paper Towns (John Green)
  8. Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth (Grant Morrison)
  9. The Sandman vol. 1: Preludes and Nocturnes (Neil Gaiman)
  10. The Sandman vol. 2: The Doll’s House (")
  11. The Sandman vol. 3: Dream Country (")
  12. The Sandman vol. 4: Season of Mists (")
  13. The Sandman vol. 6: Fables and Reflections (")
  14. The Sandman vol. 7: Brief Lives (")
  15. Black Hole (Charles Burns)
  16. Black Orchid (Neil Gaiman)
  17. The Dark Knight Returns (Frank Miller)
  18. Neverwhere (Neil Gaiman)
  19. The Secret Agent (Joseph Conrad)
  20. The 13 Clocks (James Thurber)
  21. Batman: Hush Vol. 1 (Jeph Loeb)
  22. Batman: Hush Vol. 2 (Jeph Loeb)
  23. Journey into Fear (Eric Ambler)
  24. Casino Royale (Ian Fleming)
  25. The Human Factor (Graham Greene)
  26. Welcome to the Jungle (Jim Butcher)
  27. Mean Streets (Jim Butcher, Simon R. Green, Kat Richardson, Thomas E. Sniegoski)
  28. Fragile Things (Neil Gaiman)
  29. The Spy Who Came In From the Cold (John LeCarre)
  30. Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life (Bryan Lee O’Malley)
  31. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (“)
  32. Scott Pilgrim and the Infinite Sadness (“)
  33. Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together (“)
  34. An Abundance of Katherines (John Green)
  35. Looking for Alaska (“)
  36. Run For Your Life (James Patterson)
  37. Scott Pilgrim vs. the Universe (Bryan Lee O’Malley)
  38. Cross Country (James Patterson)
  39. The Strain (Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan)
  40. Turn Coat (Jim Butcher)
  41. Max (James Patterson)
  42. Sweet Jesus, I Hate Bill O’Reilly (Joseph Minton Amann and Tom Breuer)
  43. Fair And Balanced, My Ass! (“)
  44. Light House: A Trifle (William Monahan)
  45. Breathers (S.G. Browne)
  46. Schuyler’s Monster (Robert Rummel-Hudson)
  47. Grave Peril (Jim Butcher)
  48. The Da Vinci Cod (Don Brine)
  49. The Dust of 100 Dogs (A.S. King)
  50. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Apt. 3W (Gabriel Brownstein)
  51. Fight Club (Chuck Palahnuik)
  52. Y: The Last Man- Vol. 1 Unmanned (Brian K. Vaughn)
  53. City of Thieves (David Benioff)
  54. Shutter Island (Dennis Lehane)
  55. The Sandman: The Dream Hunters (Neil Gaiman)
  56. Anansi Boys (Neil Gaiman)
  57. Good Omens (Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett)
  58. American Gods (Neil Gaiman)
  59. Cruddy (Lynda Barry)
  60. Transmetropolitan Vol. 1 (Warren Ellis)
  61. Transmetropolitan Vol. 2 (Warren Ellis)
  62. Transmetropolitan Vol. 3 (Warren Ellis)
  63. Runaways Vol. 1 (Brian K. Vaughn)
  64. Aertheric Mechanics (Warren Ellis)
  65. About the Author (John Colapinto)
  66. I Am Legend (Richard Matheson)
So, what have we learned? That I read a shit-ton of Neil Gaiman? That's kind of a no-brainer. And what can I say? It's good stuff!
Now, since this post is being published while I'm away, there are a few books I'm currently working on that I'd like to add to the list, including Lewis Black's Nothing Sacred, Matt Ruff's Set This House in Order, and Jonathan Safran Foer's Everything is Illuminated. If I have completed those by midnight on January 1st, 2010, then I shall have read a grand total of 69 books in 2009.
I have 2 final things to say: 1) Get your mind out of the gutter. 2) I impressed myself. Will you accept this challenge next year? Read 50 books. Or more. It's on.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

DVD Review: Everything is Illuminated, Wristcutters, Silent Movie, and Paris, je t'aime

Everything is Illuminated
This film was recommended to me by Sarah and Stefany after we discussed it in one of Sarah's Dailybooth threads a week or so ago. So I decided to check it out. I had heard about it prior to this, but I can't recall what I had heard.
So, I sat down to watch it with my parents and we all enjoyed it. A few brief things that I enjoyed:

  • The music: The Eastern European songs just called to me.
  • Alex: I didn't know much about Eugene Huntz, the lead singer of Gogol Bordello. I didn't know that he could act. But he left a great impression on me while watching this film.
  • The transitions: I quite liked how the transitions made the film nice and chapter-like, with the fades to and from white.
  • Elijah Wood: His face is just so expressive. And he portrayed Jonathan's quirkiness quite well!
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the film and I applaud Liev Schrieber on a well-done directorial debut.

This was also recommended to me by Stefany in the same thread. I had heard of it within the last few years, but didn't make much of an effort to go out and find it. I should have sooner.
I thoroughly enjoyed a few things including Tom Waits, Will Arnett's cameo, Patrick Fugit, and the happenstance coincidences that make the movie work. Along with the death flashbacks.

Silent Movie
I'm a Mel Brooks enthusiast and I hadn't seen this one yet. So I did.
I enjoyed myself while watching this flick. Yes, it wasn't the side-splitting Mel Brooks that you're used to, but it is filled with chuckles and plenty of well-done celebrity cameos. And I quite liked the meta-breaking the 4th wall story.

Paris, je t'aime
Stefany also recommended this to me, but in another thread.
The film itself is a series of 18 vignettes, each with a different director and a different crew, so it's a little different to review as a whole. Some of the vignettes I enjoyed included the Coen Brothers's segment (I'm a Coen Brothers fan. What can I say?), the segment with the husband and his dying wife (Made me cry.), the segment with Elijah Wood (I loved the color and the look.), the segment with Bob Hoskins, and the segment with Gena Rowlands and Ben Gazarra.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A winter's day in a deep and dark December ...

I'm sitting here,
late at night,
on my bed,
more or less,
freshly back from college.
It's snowing,
and it has been for ten or so hours.
It just keeps coming.
We have,
I'd guess,
2 or 3 inches
at the moment
on the deck.
We should reach eight
to ten by mid-day tomorrow
which is now today
because of the hour.
I felt in the mood for some
Simon and Garfunkel,
so I popped on "I am a Rock"
which will be followed by
"A Hazy Shade of Winter"
and then sleep.
Glorious sleep.
It is when I am
at peace.
No chores,
no pestering,
no worries.
Or peace.
It depends on your definition,
I guess.
It's all up to you.
if you'll excuse me,
my batteries,
they need recharging.
Photo by Rinze van Brug on Behance.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Support Charities and Be Awesome (Because You Can) (#P4A)

In the world of Youtube, today, December 17th, is known as the Project 4 Awesome. What is it? It's a day during which the Nerdfighter community gathers to post videos supporting charities ... and to get them in the "Most Viewed", "Most Discussed", and "Most Favorited" sections. All for charity.
I have my video up.
And I'm glad to have friends out there participating.
But you should start here.
DFTBA and happy commenting!

Monday, December 14, 2009

A Time to Relax and Catch Up, or (Barely Any) Finals Week

So ... it's been a while since I did one of these "Hey, here's what's happening in my life," posts. I'd say that it's about time for one of those.
Since the last post, I finished classes and the play production I was in. That's essentially it. I'm currently in Finals Week (or Hell Week as some may call it). I consider myself lucky because I only have 1 test this week. And I say test because it's not a cumulative final. And it's on Thursday. So ... as it's the end of the semester, I thought that it'd be a good idea to do a semester-in-review type post.
Cinema: Overall, I enjoyed the hands-on aspect of the course, but I didn't really feel like I learned a lot. Sure, basic video editing is ... well ... basic. And Super 8 editing is tedious but worth it. And yes, the book we got for the class was interesting (The Filmmaker's Handbook), but the readings weren't always pertinent or applicable in the class. For example, one of the readings was on lighting. And we didn't really deal with lighting rigs and other such equipment. :P But I made some cool video and film projects. They can be viewed here, here, and here. (The last video has both film projects.) The prof did have experience in film and video, but this was his first year teaching here, so ... eh ... I mean, he was a nice guy, but ... I just felt that something was lacking.
Music: What can I say? I loved this class! Well, yes, the opening week or two or three were basic musical knowledge, stuff that you learn in band class in middle school. And the weeks leading up to swing and the music of the crooners were interesting, but not quite my cup of tea. I have nothing against jazz. Perhaps it was the prolonged discussion of it. But overall, I quite enjoyed the course. The prof was very into the course material and could probably talk for days on end about a genre!
English: This was overall a fun discussion course. We discussed a bunch of interesting things, like (recently) gay stereotyping and portrayal in movies and casting non-Asian actors in Asian roles (also known as yellowface). And we read some cool stuff, including a volume of The Sandman (*fanboy squee*), Y: The Last Man, and I Am Legend. And we had a cool video final project, which I had a ton of fun making. The prof was quite chill, down-to-earth, and open with us. And her dog was ADORABLE!
Journalism: This was a basic, yet good review-type course. I mean, it WAS an intro course. We went over such things as covering beats, writing survey articles, and good writing structures. The prof was a nice guy who had plenty of experience in the field, which was good. It's better to have a prof who has experience in the field as opposed to a prof who has little to no experience in the field.
Radio: I had a FANTASTIC semester with my radio show and I'm SOOO looking forward to continuing it next semester. This semester, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lauren O'Connell, Jack Conte and Nataly Dawn of Pomplamoose, Stephanie Anderson of Tonks and the Aurors, and Dylan Campbell. All of those interviews, along with the archived audio from the shows can be found on the radio show blog. And to stay up-to-date on when the show will be next semester, keep an eye on the show's Twitter.
Columns: This semester, I've written a total of 7 Op-Ed columns for the campus paper and a majority of them have been politically themed. It feels good to get my opinion out there. :)
Beyond Coal: The university has released deadlines to improve clean energy on campus. ... I think. I haven't been 100% up on the news about that. But I probably should be.
The play: Was "Noises Off!". And it went quite well, overall. It was a fun experience and a good community show. My cast mates were great and I had a great time playing an old, doddering, alcoholic actor.
And ... that's about it. Oh! Wait! Free stuff! I've raked in a good haul this semester, including Pirates of the Caribbean 3 on DVD (it was okay, compared to the first), a foam pirate sword, the Pirate Radio soundtrack, and a Star Trek communicator toy. (^_^) And yeah, I also got a few free books at the start of the semester. I'm still working on that Lewis Black book. Oh, and that iPod Nano I won? That went to my mom. She quite liked it. (^_^)
And as for gigs, I've been to a few good shows here on campus, including Gregory and the Hawk, Tonks and the Aurors, and Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin. Here is a song from the Tonks show and here are two songs from the SSLYBY show.
So, in conclusion, overall, I've had a fantastic and very fun semester. I even managed to keep up on my Youtube activities, posting a total of 23 videos, all of which are viewable on my channel, along with my 261 other videos. ... Don't ask.
Well ... I'll be home on Friday and someplace warm on or around Thanksgiving (Correction: Christmas Eve) through New Years or thereabouts. Allons-y, Alonso!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Fringe, or Damn Do They Know How to Write Cliffhangers or What?!

Okay, so earlier in the day, prior to the play and all (and while I had laundry going), I decided, "Hey, I missed last night's fall finale of Fringe! I ought to watch it!", despite having missed one or two other episodes so far this season and despite being WAY behind on Glee (I'll catch up on that over winter break). I was mostly up-to-date on the events of the season so far, so I was in the know. And needless to say, this episode packed a freakin' huge cliffhanger and left us (the viewers) with more questions than answers, as JJ's TV shows tend to.
The biggest part of the episode was Walter and his brain. Literally, his brain. Like the 3 pieces of the hippocampus that were removed. I had just one qualm about that whole bit. When Olivia and Peter are looking at the X-rays and Olivia asks something along the lines of "What's the hippocampus for?" ... Olivia, I'm sure that you went through high school and college and at least took an anatomy and/or psychology course and learned what the hippocampus does. ANYWAY ... my FAVORITE Walter moment in the entire episode was when Newton temporarily restored Walter's memories to his brain. For a short while, Walter was ... whole again. It was very satisfying to see him with all his marbles. How sad that it can't happen again.
But back to the title of this posting! We, the viewers, were presented with 1) the leader of the opposition who is in our world (Thomas Jerome Newton), 2) what he looks like, and 3) his overall goal. However, with Olivia's decision to save Walter, he escaped. As for his future plans, we don't know. But the ending tag of the episode really brought things full circle in a way: we now know why Walter isn't all there. It was a decision between Walter and William to protect the doorway to the parallel universe, but at what cost you ask? Oh, Walter will be not quite there. For the rest of his life. Yeah. It sucks. Royally.
Wait! Kind went off on a tangent there! Okay. While the end of the episode was as big a cliffhanger as the fall finale from last season (David Robert Jones's mysterious escape from a German prison) or the season finale from last season (in which Olivia met with William Bell in the still existing World Trade Center in a parallel universe), it was still ... unnerving, perhaps? We know Newton's motive, but we don't know his next moves. It's almost like a chess game. We took some pieces from the opposing player, yet we have a feeling that he has an ace up his sleeve and he's plotting our downfall somehow. We don't know when it'll happen, but we know that it'll happen.
So, what's to come in the second half of Fringe's second season? We don't know. But we're waiting with baited breath.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The Sorcerer's Apprentice Trailer

I woke up this morning to find this trailer had come my way via e-mail or Twitter or something like that. I watched it. I was ... horrified? Would that be the right word?
Let me preface this by saying that I do enjoy the occasional GOOD Nicholas Cage film. And when I say occasional, I mean OCCASIONAL! ... Which is rare in this day and age. Yes, I enjoyed The Rock. And Face/Off. And the National Treasure flicks. And Matchstick Men. But otherwise, of late, his film choices or roles have been ... type-casted, perhaps? Maybe it's just me, but that's how it seems.
This flick, needless to say, looks like a BAD Nicholas Cage film. It looks like he isn't even trying, really. I mean, from what I've heard, he is kickin' in Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call - New Orleans and Kick-Ass, but this ... *sigh*
And have you read the plot on the IMDB page for this flick?
A sorcerer leaves his workshop in the hands of his apprentice, who gets into trouble when the broomstick he's tasked to do his chores for him somehow develops a mind of its own.
SERIOUSLY?!?! That's the plot for the sequence from the Fantasia movies! That is SO not the plot that I gather from the trailer, despite the fact that it's the teaser trailer. I don't see any FREAKIN' broomsticks! Nor do I see any broomsticks caning Nicholas Cage for choosing this role! *sigh*
Maybe it'll be "Good." MAYBE. I'm leaning towards "No way."
So, here's the trailer, courtesy of Film School Rejects. I don't know whether or not to say enjoy, but ... enjoy?

UPDATE: I rewatched the trailer and saw the snippet with the brooms. Yeah. I'm guess that that's going to be ... 5, maybe 10 minutes of the entire film. :P

Thursday, December 03, 2009

2 Posts in One: Weekend Past and Mid-Week

Sorry for the deal, friends and readers. Busy times, late nights, rehearsals, class work, you get the idea. So, on with the post!

The Weekend Past:

Friday was a very fun and enjoyable day, to say the least. I got up early and made my way into NYC via a Shortline bus to meet up with one of my good DB friends, Allyson. We had nothing short of a stellar day in the city, hitting up first The Met (checked out a Greek and Roman art exhibit, a Vermeer traveling exhibit, and the Temple of Dendur), followed by MoMA (checked out the Tim Burton exhibit, which was fantastic, an exhibit on album art and music videos called Looking At Music, and a permanent exhibit with, well, modern art), the Apple Store on 5th Avenue, Rockefeller Center, and Magnolia Bakery for a quick treat. This is more or less featured in my latest vlog.
We parted ways around 4 when we made our way back to our respective buses and our respective places of residence. The evening brought dinner out with the immediate family, my uncle and his family, and my grandparents.
Saturday contained a haircut and dinner out on Long Island with my other grandma. That was really it. But I did stop by my dojo in town to say hi to my sensei and see how his art gallery opening was going. You can check out some of his photos here, if you're so inclined.
Sunday was mostly the trip back up to college with Sam, Jim, Lorraine, and Hannah, 3 of whom made the trek back on Wednesday. The trip went smoothly, despite a spot of traffic as we got closer to college. And it was a tad bit cramped. Oh well. And I made it back with enough time in the afternoon and evening to finish up an assignment for my Journalism class and catch about 2 or so hours of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 25th Anniversary Concert, which was pretty sweet. And, of course, there was plenty of chatting with one of my new good DB friends, Danielle.

Let's see ... Monday was mostly class, down time, a new episode of House, and more rehearsal. We're nearing the end of things, both class-wise and play-wise. Set building is this weekend, tech week is next week, and we open next Friday. I have a feeling things will be all ready by then.
Tuesday brought an attempted rally to bring Colbert to campus next semester. It was kinda fail. Only 4 to 5 people max showed up, including myself. :P I left about 45 minutes in to take care of some shopping for a toy drive thing I volunteered for and for my Dailybooth Secret Santa. Class later went well. And rehearsal went well, too. But I need to check my lines and blocking. To be safe and all.
Wednesday was all business, minus my Cinema class. Overall, this semester, I feel that, while the class has been interesting, I really haven't ... LEARNED much, I guess. Maybe next course ... Back to business! My group members and I got a bunch more of our English project filmed! Now all we need is the meatiest part, another 3 small parts, and little vignettes of sorts. The project should be up after all the editing is done this weekend. Hope to see it up on Monday or Tuesday. And the evening brought a Beyond Coal end-of-the-semester party and a Film Club meeting during which we discussed plans for next semester, watched one of our member's recent projects, and watched the opening montage from Up. Watching the montage after having seen the movie already ... brought crocodile tears to my eyes. And that was followed by rehearsal, which was fantastic tonight, filled with a few HILARIOUS moments that I didn't expect. To sum it up: pants and trays. That is all.
Alright. Regular posts should resume this weekend, provided that I have the time to do them. Now ... to hopefully do a spot of work and mail my DB Secret Santa package before class. TTYL!
P.S. If you want to ask me questions (anonymously if you would prefer), I have a Formspring, so either check the box in the sidebar or visit here.