There are no major spoilers in these reviews.
Django Unchained (R):
This movie was okay. If you're a diehard Tarantino fan, you'll find plenty to like here, but to me it felt like a weaker remake of Inglorious Basterds, made only for the sake of giving Samuel L. Jackson screen time to ham it up, and to give a bunch of white actors the juvenile excuse to be able to scream the n-word a lot. Still better than Kill Bill.
Final Grade: C+
The Last Days of Leviathan by Dirt Poor Robins:
This album isn't quite as poppy as The Cage, but is also less-distractingly Evanescence-inspired. The song, "Nightingale" has some nice, haunting melodic hooks, but nothing that hasn't been done before. Pleasant, but not life-changing.
Final Grade: B-
Please Clap Your Hands by Bird and the Bee:
This EP of five songs is a great pastiche of Bird and the Bee styles, and a good introduction for people who haven't heard of the group. I could listen to a full album of this style.
Final Grade: A-
Where Wizards Stay Up Late: The Origins of the Internet by Katie Hafner and Matthew Lyon:
I grabbed this book off the shelf in my parents' house on the way to one of Rebecca's graduation ceremonies, to keep me entertained in the parts of the graduation where you do some waiting. Unfortunately, I barely made it more than a couple chapters in because the writing is so dry and unengaging. I'm not saying that you have to embellish the story of the Internet with more sea pirates than there actually were (4), but even a completely factual account needs a little human interest. As Russ Olsen says, "Life is too short to finish a bad -- or perhaps simply misdirected book -- out of some bizarre sense of duty."
Final Grade: Not Graded
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Memory Day: Ten Years Ago
It's been raining incessantly here which has kept me indoors for the most part. I'm slowly settling into an apartment routine and I've even been doing some real cooking for dinner a few nights a week -- everything from chicken and mushrooms to bacon & cheese meatloaf.
Ten years ago, I had just cut the cord to perpetual adolescence through graduate degrees and moved back to Virginia to work full-time. Having spent the previous two summers getting up progressively earlier to avoid traffic, such that my core hours were 5 AM to 1 PM, I finally resolved to live closer to the office (which was in Dulles at the time).
After visiting three separate apartment complexes in Centreville, I ended up at The Elms, $1135 per month for two bedrooms. The Elms had the deciding features of being across the street from a Glory Days, (which I ended up visiting once if at all), and having a "park anywhere" lot without reserved spots and towing and all of that nonsense. Runner-up #1 was a gated community, and those are annoying to invite people over to, while Runner-up #2 required a lightless left turn across two lanes of busy traffic to exit.
I also ended up renting one of the bedrooms to my college roommate, Anna, and the ninety-pound kitty, Kitty, who was consigned to an 8x8 room in Anna's parents house as punishment for peeing on everything. Since Booty had peed on everything in Tallahassee, we hoped that they would channel their pee at each other from here on out.
The Elms was the complex that solidified my need for a single-family home. While nice enough as apartments go, we had neighbours who held parties where they only listened to the bass notes of songs. When they moved out, they were replaced by a couple that was ghostly silent, except for the occasions where they were fighting, or humping, or both simultaneously. Ultimately, I only lived there for nine months before moving up to Sterling.
I also started refining my real world persona by doing things like cooking and learning to play the guitar. The latter lasted maybe three weeks total. The former continues to this day, although those seminal meals that I was so proud of weren't so great: chicken and mushrooms was chicken breasts submerged in cream of mushroom soup and baked, while bacon and cheese meatloaf was essentially a cheeseburger that had had an unfortunate accident with some Ritz crackers.
What were you up to in May 2003?
List Day: 10 Least Favourite Things with "Star" in the Name
- Dancing With the Stars
- Star Trek
- Starbursts candy
- Star Wars
- Starcraft II, Part II
- "When You Wish Upon a Star"
- Homestar Runner
- Starship Troopers
- Star Fox (SNES)
- Gospel renditions of the "Star-Spangled Banner"
The first half of the weekend was quiet and nondescript. We sat on the back porch with a pinot grigot on Friday night, diligently waiting for the cicadas to arrive, but all we saw was a fearless skunk boldly rooting around in the backyard like a truffle pig.
On Saturday, I went to Costco for the essentials, such as five pounds of steak and a new badminton net (after nine years, the original net looks like public school gym equipment). I then worked on Bugler in the afternoon while Rebecca did female stuff like yoga and haircuts. We had a late dinner at Taste of Burma and then watched 30 Rock until we fell asleep.
Sunday afternoon was the huge NOVA graduation, for which we spent a half hour sitting on Braddock Road waiting to turn left into the Patriot Center with PTSD flashbacks to the Nissan Pavilion. We were also in front of an old white guy in an Audi who became cartoonishly upset when it took five cycles to get through an intersection and smashed down on his car horn when I refused to "block the box". I gave him a Miss America hand wave out the window, and his Vesuvian blood pressure probably formed several more arteries in his chest cavity by the time we had gone through.
There were roughly 1200 students graduating on Sunday, which is apparently the largest community college graduating class in the country. I think we cheated a little though, since they bind all of the neighbouring college campuses into a loosely allied cluster of feudal city states under the Northern Virginia banner. I had a $6 box of nachos and a $4 coke to go with my $0 seat close to the action, and listened as the two of the four chosen name-callers horribly mangled any names that weren't in English or Spanish.
Getting out of the Patriot Center was much easier than getting in, and we closed out the evening with an early diner dinner at Denny's around the corner in Fairfax.
How was your weekend?
There are no major spoilers in these reviews.
Justified, Season Three (free on Amazon Prime):
The third season of Justified remains pretty strong, although the continued influx of LOST refugees in bit parts is a little distracting. I also didn't appreciate the character of Limehouse as much, since I kept getting distracted by his former roles as Bubba Gump and the annoying guy from 24. However, the characterizations across the board continue to be strong, and it remains a tight ensemble show. Towards the end, the plot got a little too complex for complexity's sake (almost like a heist movie), but the season as a whole had a satisfying arc tying everything together.
Final Grade: B
My Name is Hannibal by Hannibal Burress:
Hannibal Burress pops up often on my Mitch Hedberg Pandora station. His humor is a mix of off-the-wall observations and storytelling, with a very satisfying delivery. I liked his second album slightly better than the first.
Final Grade: B-
Animal Furnace by Hannibal Burress:
This album has a little better flow than the first. One joke is annoyingly rehashed from the first album, but otherwise, I enjoyed it.
Final Grade: B
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (R):
We found this movie to be unexpectedly entertaining, having had no expectations going into it. Take the film noir / murder mystery genre, add Robert Downey Jr.'s wry commentary as the unreliable narrator who occasionally breaks the fourth wall, and allow him to play off of Val Kilmer as Gay Perry, the Gay PI, and you have a couple hours of good laughs, if not an Oscar-worthy production.
Final Grade: B+
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