Category Archives: Reviews, entertainment, etc…

And that was the last time… — By Michael



Let me tell you the last time someone conned me. I was 19 years old and I was a stupid 19. Somehow I ended up in London, wandering around the back streets of Piccadilly Circus. I see this gorgeous girl standing outside some strip club next to a sign that says “beer and a show £5.” Now this girl has got the thinnest smoothest legs I’ve ever seen. She could have been selling cancer in a pop can and I would have gone over to listen to the pitch.

“£5 pound for a beer and a show. That’s it?”, “That’s it,” she says. I give her a 5. She puts it in her purse and hands me a laminated white card and we go downstairs. She leads through a dimly lit lounge with a couch (occupied by some black guy with a girl on each arm)  and old woman behind a coat check, and into the next room. Then she asks me if I’m ready for the show.

In the next room there are dozens of couches and a stage with a single pole.  An even more beautiful woman comes up to me with my beer. This girl has straight blonde hair, gorgeous smile, and is only wearing black lingerie. She sits down next to me and starts asking me questions. Where I’m from, where I grew up, and she’s talking to me like I’m the most interesting person in the world. These days anytime anyone is that interested in me, I get suspicious, but 19 me kept yakking away.

After a couple of minutes, she stops me and says, the show will start as soon as I pay the bill. I hand her the white laminated card the other girl gave me, and blondie says, “No that’s for the show, I mean the bill.” I have no idea what she’s talking about but then she hands me the menu. She points to the bottom which says in fine print, Services of the companion £277. Everything comes to a screeching halt and I demand to talk to the manager (as if this were a respectable establishment).

I find myself back in the lounge arguing with the old lady behind the coat check. Blocking the stairs is the black guy from the couch, but now his arms are crossed, ready for any shit I’m going to pull.  Coat check lady is telling me the menu is clearly marked and that I have to pay for services. Normally I wouldn’t care, I’d just say “fuck you I don’t have any money.” But I had £500 on me for an… errand. That 500 needed to go where it was going. “If you don’t have any money, just open your wallet and show it to the camera.” I turn around and face the brother blocking my path. “You going to stop me if I leave?” and he comes back with “You wanna try me?”

So that’s when I pull out my cell phone. “Put that away. You can make calls down here.” the old lady commands.  And I know something’s up. “If you’re so sure the £277 charge is legit, why don’t I call the cops, they come down here, and if they say I owe you, I’ll pay.” Now I’m bluffing. Because that errand I was doing… well I still had some of the product on me. And believe me if the cops came down here, I’d be in a ton more trouble than she’d be.

She’s staring me right in the face and I’m staring right back. “We had a party of rich Arabs in here last night, they were more than happy to pay.” I spout back “I’m dialing 999. ” “I said put that away.” I can see the old lady making nods at the black guy, probably to grab the phone out of my hand. “I’m pressing send.”  Then curtly and with an air of superiority I hear “Get the fuck out!” And for some reason I reply with “Thank you.” And I bolt.

Now I’m outside making sure the black guy isn’t following me, heart racing, and I’m so fucking pissed at myself. All the little clues I should have seen are now painfully obvious. The cheap show, the black dude on the couch, the empty room.  And that’s when I decide right there, I’m not going to be a sucker for anyone ever again. That I would always been on the other end of it.  Couple of years later I see that old lady come into Vinney’s in New Jersey. Same woman, I swear to God. Right there right in front of me. So I… well that’s a story for another time.




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Once Upon A Time – By Victor

The Glory

The Glory


Can you ever know where you’re supposed to be in life?  Some people will tell you, “you just know. “

Six years ago, the Viper Room. We may not have been the headliner, but still. People come to the Viper Room, not just your fans, and not just the bar regulars. People that can make things happen.

We get there for warm up and the place is heaven. But I got this nagging feeling. The crowd. No matter how nice the venue, a bad crowd can mean the difference between getting signed with a label or never playing there again. That’s when Sticks can’t keep his shit together.  His girlfriend dumped him Friday or some shit and he’s had a few fifths between last night and now.

15 minutes before the show Mike is trying to cheer him up and get him in the game and I’m calling every drummer I’ve ever met, I mean I’m literally on the phone with a guy from my high school marching band. But then Sticks jumps up like he just had a Five Hour Enema and says “Fuck that bitch, she ain’t going to bring me down.”

We go out on stage and the place is PACKED. I’ve never played for an audience this size. I mean it was constant crowd between the stage and the bar. We start playing with “Trueno de Mexico” and Sticks is off. We know it, the audience knows it, it’s bad. We stumble though the song. So I go off the setlist and play “Impossible Yesterday” next. Now Impossible Yesterday is our best song, we were saving it for the finale, but if I don’t do something, we’re not going to make it to the finale.

The lucky thing about the song is that starts with an a cappella solo. No drums. It’s just me. Maybe if Sticks listens to me, maybe he can get back on beat. But here’s the other thing. I… L O V E  that solo. When I sing it, the world shuts out and I just crush it.

I’m feeling it all, all at once, now today.
The fears and the problems creeping up once again.
The beds just too big, I wish you would come home.
And sooth the soul of this old tired fool.

I hear “clap, cla-cla-cla, clap”, “clap, cla-cla-cla, clap”.  I open my eyes. The whole front row has become our percussion.  Michael comes in on guitar, then the rest of the band. Now the audience is singing along. Sticks wakes up and back on. It’s just magic from then on out.

For years I would have said moments like that is was what it was all about for me. So when it all dried up, it was hard. Very hard. Seeing that possibility get farther and farther away. Maybe you never know where you’re supposed to be in life.


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See Dredd. See Dredd Fail at the Box Office. — By Jack

See this.

I’ll tell you about the car crash later. While you’re waiting you need to go see the new Dredd movie. It’s freaking fantastic. A text book example of how to do an action movie. It’s clever. Intense. Stylized. Gruesome. The stakes never cease to escalate. And every action sequence is completely different from the one that preceded it. But despite these accomplishments the movie debuted at 6th place for its opening weekend. With a paltry 6.3 million dollar take, this movie will be seen as a failure. After a summer of endless disappointments (Spider-Man, Prometheus, Total Recall, MIB3, Bourne Legacy, Dark Knight Rises) it would be a tragedy to see this film fail.

Just wipe this piece of crap from your mind and give the reboot a chance.

Here’s the setup. Fucked up future. Overpopulated. Law is up held by Judges, agents that act as on the spot judge, jury, enforcer, and executioner. Baddest of the bad, Judge Dredd (Karl Urban) has a new partner, Anderson (Olivia Thirlby.) Dredd and rookie wind up investigating a murder in a mega apartment complex. Investigation turns to drug bust as it turns out this mega complex (known as Peach Tree) is dominated by a drug cartel. Ruthless cartel leader Ma-Ma locks the building down, so Dredd and Anderson have to fight their way up 200 stories to get to her. Sounds like a tiresome Die-Hard right? WRONG.

Okay, at its heart it is Die-Hard. But that’s not a bad thing. The movie runs in directions that will blow your mind. First of all there is the style. Take 300 ‘s slow motion fight scenes, (with story driven causality for the slow motion) add beautiful colorization, and gut wrenching choreography, and you end up with sequences that amaze but never feels like spectacle. I was blown away and I saw it in 2D. But just when you’re thinking, “that was cool, but I don’t really wanna sit through anymore slow motion,” the film jettisons the conceit and does something completely different.

So you’re good on action. What about plot? Well the plot is solid but it’s no Nolan film. But what it does nail is setting, theme, and mood. Director Pete Travis has created a realistic albeit depressing world of the future. Violence in this city is rampant and you feel that in every facet of the movie. A lot of people knocked The Dark Knight Rises for not presenting the Gothamite’s perspective unlike the previous two films. That’s not the case here. Early in the film, victims of a crime gone wrong lie in a bloody mess. While the clean up crew mops up, an announcer informs the public “the food court will reopen in 30 minutes.” As Dredd and Anderson make their way up, you feel the terror as the residents are torn between following the law or facing the consequences of the oppressive gang. There are some really chilling moments here. And ultimately why the movie succeeds thematically is that it problematizes the notion of an absolute law that doesn’t have to answer to a further authority. But it does so with subtle nods and tension rather than having the hero make some big realization “this is wrong!”

Lena Headey as Ma-Ma

Wood Harris











The performances are a real joy. No villains are over the top. Lena Headey’s Ma-Ma is a smart, scary, and a lethal foil. Fans of HBO’s The Wire will recognize Wood Harris as Kay, Ma-Ma’s henchman who gets arrested and dragged along for the ride with the Judges. There’s a scene between him and Anderson that I won’t ruin here. Let’s just say it’s a scene that I didn’t expect to see in this film (in fact it was an idea I was planning on writing myself some day) and Harris and Thirlby nailed it.

Dredd and Anderson

As for Urban and Thirlby themselves? Karl Urban (Star Trek, Two Towers, Priest) completely disappears into the role of Dredd. At times his lines are laughable in their Clint Eastwood like depiction, but inexplicably it fits. Judge Dredd isn’t a character, he’s an icon, and that’s why we love him. Olivia Thirlby is charming, beautiful, sympathetic but at the same time challenged, smart, and goes some places that make us not like her. She’s human.

The movie isn’t a masterpiece but it does what it does very well.  It’s up there with The Crow and Terminator 2 in the realm of action films. And if you know me, you’d know that’s saying a lot.

So I am asking you. Yes YOU, the reader! Go out and see it. If you don’t like it, spam me with hate mail. But give it a shot. Now watch the trailer.











—Jack Out

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Posted by on September 23, 2012 in By Jack, Reviews, entertainment, etc...


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Not so Amazing Spider-Man — By Jack

Once a generation a Spider – Man is rebooted.

It’s a shame our cinema blockbusters have come to this. The mass rebooting of franchises and poor ones at that.  The newest victim Spider-Man–

That’s it! I’m not letting your poo-poo another awesome summer movie. First Prometheus, then Ted, which was freakin’ hilarious! Now–
This is my blog post, Jill. Why don’t you bitch about the subway or something?

It’s coming. And I can’t have you crap over every fun action film. No one’s trying to win an Oscar this season! Are we really doing this? You’re going to argue with me as I review Amazing Spider-Man?

Damn skippy!

***Word of warning – this is no longer a review, Jill and Jack are going to bitch about this movie with the assumption you’ve seen the film. MAJOR SPOILERS!***
Shut up Mack! Go write about Quantum Entropy!

Okay…let’s start again. Throwing out the baby with the bathwater this reboot–Looks amazing. From the first person web slinging, to the darkness of Manhattan at night–
Yes it looks good. The action is fast. This Spider-Man is lankier than the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man which is true to the comic.  But let’s talk about the plot–

Okaaaay. Peter Parker is a bullied and likes Gwen Stacy. He gets bitten by a genetic spider. Becomes Spider-Man. Bada-bing! Bada-boom web-slinging action! But this movie is desperately trying to follow the Christopher Nolan-make-a-dark-and-compelling-superhero-story-so-we-can-be-taken-seriously approach. It casts Sally Field and Martin Sheen in the smaller parts (ala Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman.) Even its opening screams Batman Begins. Hell, I thought little Peter Parker was going to fall down a well and get covered in spiders. 

So? What’s wrong with that? It doesn’t pull it off. It has plot holes you can drive a truck through (Spider-Man just gives up looking for the guy who killed Uncle Ben)  and forced emotional moments that make you want to laugh. (cough cough the construction crane scene, anyone?) 

They’re just so good together.

Those didn’t bother me. I got to see a romance blossom that was miles deeper than anything Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst were ever capable of having. Jesus, did Peter have to reveal his identity to everyone in the film? We’ve seen three movies of Peter Parker keeping his identity secret. It really struck me to see him come to Gwen’s window, bruised and beaten, to be cradled in her arms. Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone had great chemistry. They’re dating you know. Duh!

So many elements just felt left out there waiting be developed but instead were forgotten while other moments felt forced. The lizard cops, Ben’s killer, the true nature of how Peter got his powers. Hell, even the tower falling from the top of Oscorp felt superfluous. Once again! Summer action film! If you want to see character development go see Moonrise Kingdom.

There is an important distinction between action sequences and explosions for the sake of explosions. One moment that did work for me was when Spider-Man was on the bridge, webbing the cars to stop them from falling. He finds the one kid trapped in the car and goes to pull him out before the car infernos. You’re really going to use inferno as a verb? The point is in that scene, Spider-Man’s holding the car with one hand, the webbing with the other and doing everything thing he can to get the kid to climb. He’s being pushed to his super hero limits and he still might fail. That what I want to see in my summer action sequences. Not a giant skyscraper antenna falling after the villain of the film has been defeated which it doesn’t affecting anything except to give the unsuccessful justification of the  3D glasses upcharge.  

I thought that was awesome. Except that I saw it in the trailer a dozen times. Okay, point blank question; were you bored?
No. But counter point blank. Were you satisfied?
Really? The way you were with The Dark Knight, The Crow, and The Incredibles?
Yes. Yes I was.
I can’t believe that. 

Maybe it’s because I’m a Spider-Man fan and have been since I was 4. The movie just got what I’ve always loved about him so much more than the Sam Raimi films did. The web-shooters, the wise-cracking, and of course the sewer scene.  This was a film for Spider-Fans. 

Okay this was pretty cool.

We’ll just have to agree to disagree. I don’t agree with that.

Addendum: Jack, Jill, and I all agree, The Amazing Spider-Man has the best Stan Lee cameo ever. Period. 

This isn’t the cameo.



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Jack reviews Ted — by well…uh…Jack.

But teddy bears are wholesome!!

Should you see Seth MacFarlane’s new comedy Ted about a crude lecherous but lovable teddy bear come to life? Chances are you’ve already decided. If you like Family Guy and all of MacFarlane’s spin offs you’re going to laugh and have a fun time. If you don’t, you won’t like this movie.

Now for a more thorough opinion. I think Seth MacFarlane is funny. He makes jokes about things many of  us are thinking and does so through crude and clever ways. Often times it’s based around pop culture from the 1980’s, but I’m 28 and so works for me. Can he cross the line and rely on stereotype, becoming both tired and offensive? Absolutely. And sometimes it’s obvious his scrips are too short and he resorts to filler. But all in all I’m probably going to laugh when I watch him.

Ha ha…I have so much money now.

Is Seth MacFarlane a talented story teller? Not so much. His plots are vessels for his jokes. And that is very true with Ted.   It doesn’t take a genius to take one look at the poster and guess the plot.  John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) wished for a living teddy bear as a boy and hot damn it came true. Now an adult, John and Ted are still best buds. Ted (voiced by Seth MacFarlane) is crude but lovable. John’s long time girlfriend Lori (Mila Kunis) thinks he needs to grow up which requires saying goodbye to Ted.  And let’s throw in a crazy guy(Giovanni Ribisi) who wants to kidnap the bear so we can have a chase scene.  Oh and Community’s Joel McHale shows up as the douche bag that wants to bang Mila Kunis. He has one good line.

The question is does the comedy work? For the most part, yes. The opening is hilarious. The humor mostly hits throughout the middle. Occasionally, I was actually sick of the jokes and wanted the damn thing to move forward.  But the ending really sags. It’s both predictable and tiresome.   Ted is essentially Peter Griffin (there’s a crack about this in the film.) When he’s on screen you’re gonna laugh. I’ll hand it to the script for making the girlfriend, Lori, actually likable. She puts up with a lot of John’s crap before she lays down the Ted or me ultimatum.

But my question is why Mark Wahlberg? He’s not very funny. He doesn’t pull off the every man particularly well. There’s this feeling of “I’m love this walking teddy bear, I do this infantile shit, and I’m obsessed with Flash Gordon because the script tells me to.” I just don’t buy him. The character of John (not Wahlberg’s fault) fucks up his life so many times, it’s pretty hard to stay with him by the end.

All in all I mostly had a smile on my face. $13 bucks to see it in the theater? I didn’t smile that much. It probably be better to wait for the DVD, get drunk or stoned with a group of your friends and pass out before the end.







–Jack Out


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Prometheus Review — By Jack

Hey all.  The summer movie season is in full swing. We got the very satisfying Avengers about a month ago.  Battleship sunk (easiest flop headline ever) and MIB3 is pretty much now off everyone’s radar.  The next benchmark film, Prometheus is finally here. So does it measure up to the hype? Short answer: no.

To those of you living under a rock, Prometheus is the prequel to the prolific Alien saga. It follows the crew of the ship, wait for it…Prometheus, as they search for what they believe are a race of “engineers” that created human life. They arrive on the desired moon, LV-223. Once there, they uncover the remains of an alien spaceship, littered with the corpses of dead “engineers,” and some very eerie artwork.  As they explore, the ship’s android David, played by Michael Fassbender, clearly has his own agenda as he tampers, secretly, with the  “engineers’ ” remains. His meddling leads to catastrophe for the crew members.

You know, these Aliens.

In a nut shell, the film is an enjoyable experience.  It looks good. There are some really stand out performances. It’s fun to see references to the Alien films, particularly the engineers’ ship. There is a very intense surgery scene.  And even a storm sequence that is impressive. But unfortunately, the film never rises above the average space alien disaster film.

Prometheus is directed by Ridley Scott, the director of the first Alien film from 1979 who has since has gone on to many other important and distinguished films.  (I’m very hot/cold on Scott. Loved Thelma & Louise, Black Hawk Down, and Alien. Not a fan of Gladiator, Hannibal, or Blade Runner, blaspheme I know.) And moment to moment, Scott gives us an entertaining ride that never feels boring even if it does seem cliche.  There are a few unintentionally laughable moments, but all in it’s got a great look, mood, and tone.

Most of the characters are pretty indistinguishable or completely forgettable.  There is a security officer introduced early in the film who I confused with one of the geologists. The security officer disappears after his introduction and the geologist gets lost and dies. The main character, scientist and crisis of faith heroine, Elisabeth Shaw, (played by Noomi Rapace) isn’t terribly charming or likable. She’s obsessed with meeting these engineers, but by the end of the film I can’t understand why she’s still on that quest.

Michael Fassbender as David

The real gem of the film is Michael Fassbender. He plays the ship’s android David, with excellent physicality and an eerie but captivating coldness in everything he does. The man is just fascinating to watch.  The Wire‘s Idris Elba plays the ship’s captain. And even though he doesn’t do much, we get enough of his character and Elba’s charm that you really like the character.  Charlize Theron plays Meredith Vickers, the stern and driven woman in charge.  Unfortunately, Vickers starts strong, but as the film unravels towards the end she just falls away.

Charliz Theron and Idris Elba.

So what stops this movie from being the epic classic it should be?  The plot. The movie has a lot to live up to. A legendary director, one of the most influential sci-fi and horror series in all cinema history, and it even invokes the name of Greek mythology. So when **SPOILER** the characters finally uncover the one living engineer,  the thing with the all answers we’ve been sitting the edge of our seats waiting to hear… instead of telling us, what does it do? Runs amok trying to kill everyone, becoming the monster of the film. And out of nowhere it resumes some out of left field mission to destroy Earth. It’s a momentous let down.  It changed a movie that could have been about humanity, exploration, and meddling with powers not meant for us and turned it into a run of the mill monster movie.

For more on Prometheus, check out Kevin Smith’s new show Spoilers on Hulu . It’s a fun new show where he and an audience see a film and bitch about or cream their jeans over it. It’s good fun.

— Jack out.

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Posted by on June 12, 2012 in By Jack, Reviews, entertainment, etc...


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And Ode to Whedon — By Jack

I know that praising Whedon right now is sorta jumping on the super geeky band wagon. TIME magazine did an article about him.  The Avengers just destroyed the record for all time opening weekend (not adjusted for inflation.)  And his horror/deconstruction film Cabin in the Woods has already achieved cult classic status. By the way go see it as soon as you can. So among all this Whedon hoopla and craziness, what do I have to add?

Nothing really. I’d just like to point out the things I love about what he does and how I will be stealing it in my work for years to come.

Brief history on the guy. Whedon wrote the original Buffy the Vampire slayer, you know the one with Kristi Swanson and Luke Perry. He then adapted it to television a few years later. Now when the TV show first came out, my reaction was pretty much what everyone else’s was. “Oh God, I can’t believe they’re making into a show.” It seemed so cheesy and  Hollywood, so I went back to reading my X-Men comic books. (Which Whedon has written a few of.)

But eventually I gave it a try. I started in the middle of season 2. I couldn’t stand Sarah Michelle Gellar. The monsters looked like bad Star Trek aliens. The plots of each week’s episode seemed too formulaic. But suddenly, Buffy decided to have sex with her vampire boyfriend Angel and he went insane. Due to some curse, her most trusted and intimate partner was now hunting her friends and drawing her as she slept. It was cold, it was dark, it was chilling. But then to end the conflict, in the season finale, Buffy has resolved to kill Angel once and for all.  Whedon didn’t stop there. He didn’t just make it a conflict between good and formerly good.  Right when Buffy defeats Angel, he snaps out of it (due to the efforts of Willow, one of the most charming characters in all of the Whedonverse.) Angel is restored, loving, confused. But it is too late. Whatever plot evil Angel had set into motion could only be avoided by his death.  Buffy kisses him one last time and impales him sending him to hell.

Wow.  That’s when I realized, this guy has balls. As I watched Buffy over the next 5 seasons I noticed other things come about. I never really gave a fuck about Buffy Summers, but almost everyone else in that cast became so robust. They changed and grew. The aforementioned Willow started as a dorky teenager, fell in love with another woman, mastered witchcraft only to succumb to it like a drug, and finally find some peace with her burden.

The plots of most individual episodes were still nothing spectacular, but Whedon was a master of laying the ground work for incredible story arcs that spanned seasons.  This guy really knew how to get you involved.

But through out it all, there was always a mind to the formula. He knew when the show was getting a bit routine and it was clear he always wanted to be above that.  Sometimes, it was merely a sarcastic comment to draw attention to it. In the case of Cabin in the Woods, he has the whole end of the movie spiral out of control to spite the formula. And sometimes he’d fuck the formula by killing someone that by all story telling logic made no sense. It left you in a head space that no one in cast of characters was safe.

Granted they guy doesn’t have a perfect batting average. The first two season of Angel are pretty bad and I’m not nuts about Dollhouse. But then there is Firefly. All the complaints about Buffy (weak main character, individual plots kinda lame) are absent as you have an incredibly perfect cast and a flush sci fi western world. The show got cancelled far too soon, but it did finish things off with a film, Serenity (one of my favorite movies ever.) And everyone should Youtube Dr. Horrible.

And it’s because of all I’ve listed above, Avengers works. It doesn’t just work, it’s an accomplishment. It is fun. Balanced. Knows how to raise the stakes. And unlike so many summer action movies the ACTION feels fresh and specific and clever. It’s by no means perfect, but it is a hell of a lot of fun.  Go see it. And watch this video of the master talking at an Equality Now conference. It’s pretty inspiring.



–Jack out.


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Ira Glass, why do you hurt me so?! — By Jill

One of the magical and awesome things about living in New York is that you’re going to run across celebrities. And when you work in a restaurant of good reputation, there’s a decent chance you’re going to be waiting on them.  In my short year here I’ve run into or seen/served at the restaurant; Steve Martin, John Goodman, Bono, Scott Adsit, Anthony Michael Hall, Daniel Day-Lewis (three times, the last of which he was dining with Steven Spielberg,) Michael Emerson (Ben Linus from LOST and Person of Interest,) and Sharon Stone (not as high maintenance as you’d think.)

And the novelty was nice, but I honestly got sick of it pretty fast. Great, there’s a big shot who doesn’t want to be bothered in the first place, why should I piss myself with excitement? I don’t want to wait on them because of all the extra attention I’m going have to give to make sure everything’s perfect. And I can’t blow them off like I would another high maintenance customer. Actually the very idea of celebrity kinda pisses me off.  So when one of the other servers run up, squeeling with joy, exclaiming “OMG! so-and-so celebrity is on table 42! ” I just role my eyes and continue getting my drinks for the guests I do care about. It’s even worse when another guest recognizes the celebrity and then starts probing me with questions about them. “No, I don’t know what they’re eating.” “No, they don’t come in at a usual time on a usual day.” “For fuck’s sake, I don’t have time to take your picture and angle it so they’re in the back ground.”

So imagine my surprise when this man tapped me on the shoulder asking for the bathroom…

Now most of you probably won’t recognize a radio celebrity. Especially not a National Public Radio one.  But this is Ira Glass host of my favorite thing ever This American Life. At least I was pretty sure it was Ira Glass. I’m used to seeing pictures of him looking like this…

…clean shaven, scrawny, short Jewish man. The man who had tapped me on the shoulder was tall, at least like 6 feet, and he had a beard (like the top pic.) Also my associations with him aren’t visual, they’re from his distinguished voice. Oh and he’s one of my personal heroes. If you’re not familiar with This American Life. Scroll up and click on the link and start listening to it right now. There. I made another link so you don’t even have to scroll up. It’s a documentary style NPR show about very personal stories of Americans (and sometimes not Americans) and their lives. It  has stories of love, living during a recession, there was one about a teenager that hit accidentally a girl with his car (but she might have committed suicide) and all the guilt he has to carry with his life. The episode “The Giant Pool of Money” explains how the housing crisis happened but in a very accessible and entertaining way. And they did it in May of ’08. That’s MONTHS before the recession happened.  If you can’t stand radio, there’s a Showtime version of if they did 2 seasons of. The show has changed my life.  The point is I was pretty sure it was him, but not 100%. And while all this is hitting me and I’m still trying to figure out if it’s him or not, he’s waiting for me to tell him where the restroom is.

Finally I snap out of my trance and tell him to follow me (I never do that, I usually say, “It’s down the hall and to the right.”) I immediately run to my friend Alice who I got addicted to TAL, and I can barely speak. “What the fuck is wrong with you, Jill?” And I’m all like, “I think Ira Glass is here.” To which she shrugs and says, “Oh. Cool.” Blasphemy. I hope she moves away to Los Angeles.

I spent the next hour or so  periodically walking by the table intently listening to his voice trying to make 90% surety, 100%. TAL is Chicago public radio. Why would he be in New York? On vacation? But last weeks episode was new. And so is this week’s. Maybe TAL is done from New York after all.  I begged the server to let me clear his table when they were done.  Finally when the check was down. The credit card would tell all. When Tony snatchs up the check, I was right behind him. And there it was in embossed silver. IRA GLASS.

Now restaurant policy is that you never approach celebrities in any personal capacity. I feel it appropriate. But to just go up to the guy and say. “Sir, you do amazing work and it has changed my life. Thank you and don’t stop.” What would be the harm in that? But at the same time, he’s with his kids and his wife, and he’s probably pretty busy. He doesn’t need some nutty girl badgering him. Fuck it. I decide this is probably the only time I will ever see him. He’s not just some celebrity…he’s created something that touches me on a personal level and he does it every week.

The plan. Wait for him to get up from the table, as he exits say “Have a good day.” He will look up and say “Thank you.” As he smiles and waves, I’ll say “Excuse me, Mr. Glass…” and the rest will follow. Short, sweet, done.

But then Alice flags me down. She’s got this 7 top that ordered a bunch of cocktails (at lunch there’s no bartender, so we have to make them ourselves) and they are demanding to order food despite the fact that she’s making the drinks they just ordered. “But Alice…Ira!” Then I shut up and go to the table. I look over my shoulder. Ira’s still sitting. I’ve got time. The 7 top starts asking me all these stupid questions. “What type of rice is in the risotto?” “Where’s the salmon from?” “Can I substitute the spinach for a side of pasta?” “What’s your favorite thing on the menu?” Ira’s getting up.  Fuck. I start bullshitting the table. Making up answers left and right. Finally they actually start ordering. I get it and Ira’s behind me on his iPhone.

I spin around and blurt out a “Have a nice day.”

He doesn’t even look up from his iPhone.

My heart is beating like crazy.

I take a few steps parallel to him and try again. ” I hope you enjoyed everything…”

Nothing. My hero walks out the door.

I go over to Alice. “Here’s the order. Position 3 has a gluten allergy.”


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This blog post will self destruct in 4…3…2…(A review of Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol) –By Mack

Wow what a week. Jack and Jill have been non stop crapping their guts out as they both are suffering from the flu. I’ve been taking care of them. What? I can be maternal.  Anyway, I finally got out of the apartment for non work related crap (since Jill’s calling out, I had to cover her shifts) and I saw a movie last night. Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol.

Yes Ethan Hunt is back in another spy action thriller. Is it a run of the mill sequel or does it do the impossible? (i.e. bring something new to the action table.) In short, the answer is the latter. Ghost Protocol is directed by Brad Bird, director of The Iron Giant, The Incredibles, Ratatouille, and episodes of The Simpsons. Not your run of the mill action director. Though, The Incredibles certainly had good action sequences. Mr. Bird manages to bring his sense of humor to the movie and it really makes the film enjoyable.

Jackie Chan is credited as saying about his choreography (and I’m paraphrasing) “You need to have hit, hit, joke. Hit, hit, joke.” And Ghost Protocol captures this philosophy. Too many times have I gone to action movies felt very blah during the fight scenes. Sure the guy just took down twelve henchmen. But there was nothing to savor. In Transformers, you can’t even tell what’s happening during the action sequences. So I am elated to report that by and large, Ghost Protocol get’s it right. You feel the hits, the fights are fun to watch, and there is a sense of danger and stakes in all the action. This is what an action movie needs to accomplish.

Another bit of fun is some of their gadgets. We all been watching Bond films for decades. We’ve all seen the exploding pen and the BMW with missile capabilities. Without giving anything away, there are some interesting and humorous sequences driven by the IMF tech. Definitely, some things that made me think, “that’s pretty clever.”

Now, if you’ve seen any trailers or poster at all, you’ve probably seen Tom Cruise climbing Burj Dubai building. The producers and marketing are apparently very proud of it. And they should be, because this whole section of the movie is its crowning achievement. If you are looking for a reason to see this movie on IMAX (other than the BATMAN prologue) this is the reason.

The supporting cast is solid. There’s enough characterization for Jeremy Renner and Paula Patton’s characters that you care about them. And Simon Pegg is who he always is. Granted he’s been funnier in other things, but he works. Even LOST alumn Josh Holloway makes an appearance.

My minor complaints are (1) the plot is what it is. Not as complex as the first Mission: Impossible or a Nolan film. About on par with an average Bond film. No big plot twists or double crosses. Does this make the movie bad? No. Does it stop it from being memorable? Yes.  And (2) the aforementioned Dubai scene is the film’s peak. After that there’s nothing as cool. So the ending is a bit of a let down. Nothing silly or stupid or feels like a cop out.  Just nowhere near as cool.

The movie does what it does well. It’s fun, fast, funny, and a perfect summer action blockbuster…in December!

– Big Mack Attack

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Posted by on December 18, 2011 in By Mack, Reviews, entertainment, etc...


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A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas Review –By Jack

Seasons Greetings all. We’re passed Halloween which in America means all the stores can pretend it’s Christmas for the next 2 months. Rockefeller Center has the tree, the ice rink is being put together, and the subways are plastered with ads for Christmas movies.  Starting off the Christmas movie season early is A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas. Below is  the red band trailer.

Harold and Kumar have always held a special place in my heart. When I first saw Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle. I laughed. I laughed hard. When I go to movies, I don’t really laugh. I chuckle. I smile. I’ll like the jokes. But I don’t uproariously laugh. For H&K GT WK I did.  And I wasn’t even high.

White Castle had a lot going for it.  It was always willing to make a joke that perhaps we’d seen before then move the joke to the next level. Like when Kumar sees a giant bag of weed which has a fantasy about marrying. Sure, funny-ish joke. You see them dancing, getting their pictures taken, etc. But then the joke keeps going. Kumar is stressed doing work late into the night and the bag of weed, dressed in a bathrobe brings him coffee. Kumar spits the coffee out and yells at his wife and calls her a bitch. Cut to a scene of him apologizing. The idea that in Kumar’s love fantasy, it would go as far as the bad parts of marriage is just hilarious to me.

White Castle  also had very clever racial humor that spoke to the prejudices of society. Often the jokes would go that extra step like the example above.  The sequel Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay wasn’t nearly as clever. Daily Show alum Rob Corddry played a racist Homeland Security agent hunting the duo down. Most of the racial humor was from him and was flat and disappointing. Save one college flashback scene the movie never live up to its predecessor.

So where does that leave Harold and Kumar’s third outing? To cut to the chase. Better than the 2nd film. Not as good as the first.  The set up is a bit more interesting than Guantanamo Bay. From the first movie to the second, there is no time jump. The movie literally picks up where the first one left off.

Between the second movie and this one, it’s been 4 years. Harold and Kumar have grown up (or at least Harold has) and the duo has had a falling out. The catching up with the characters is interesting and a lot of fun. Harold is a wall street banker and has married Maria. They have a house in the suburbs and Harold is trying to impress her father (played by Danny Trejo of Machette.)


Harold's gotta impress this guy.

Kumar’s life has collapsed and his girl friend Vanessa has dumped him. A mysterious package addressed to Harold shows up on Kumar’s doorstep, bringing the two back together. When Kumar accidentally burns down Maria’s father’s personally grown Christmas tree, the new adventure ensues.

What works?

  • The clever humor is back. There is a hilarious scene with two black guys who switch off being the “crazy black guy.” Also the “getting older” humor works two. H & K find themselves surrounded by teenagers at a house party. A beer pong  challenge and a hilarious Karate Kid joke really has fun with the generational shift.
  • Neil Patrick Harris is a show stealer. Since the 2nd film NPH has come out of the closet. The movie does a hilarious job of rectifying the homosexuality so it works perfectly with the character.
  •  I honestly felt satisfied with the development of the characters and friendship. I’m actually glad they did some sort of emotional journey between the two of them.

What doesn’t work? Plenty.

  •  My biggest complaint is that the film itself doesn’t feel as epic as the other two. The first two movies feel like exhausting journeys. Almost Odysseys. This film feels very truncated. It may be because there is so much set up with the 4 year time jump. Also, Kumar’s conflict with Vanessa seems abrupt as well.
  • The side kicks. Both Harold and Kumar have new best friends. Harold has Todd (played by Thomas Lennon) a straight edged, boring, suburban dad who brings his daughter along on the adventure. His humor comes from his daughter continually but accidentally getting high from random narcotics.  Meanwhile, Kumar has Adrian (played by‘s Amir Blumenfeld.) As hilarious as I find Amir on collegehumor, he just didn’t work in this film. Neither of them do. The movie pretty much shoves them in a closet for half the film, which is pretty boring.
  • Wafflebot. Halfway through the film they introduce a waffle making robot/toy which Kumar finds endearing. But the design, execution, and integration of the walking trashcan is tiresome. It’s supposed to be  love able, but instead it weigh moments down. Imagine C3p0. Now make him move about about a 1/4 the speed. Replace that charming “beep-boop” sounds with a digitized whinny Jewish grandmother, and you have Wafflebot.
  • The 3D. The movie itself makes fun of the fact that no one cares about 3D. So why make this movie only available in 3D driving up the price of admission to $17?  There are some fun action sequences, but this movie didn’t need it. It’s about the dialogue and the jokes. There was one fun claymation scene (brought on by an acid trip) but the 3D added nothing to it. The hard core fans will pay the 17 bucks, but that’s about it. Way to kill your box office?
Ultimately, I do recommend the film. Kal Penn and John Cho always work well together and it’s a shame they rarely get as much screen time as they do in these films. If you’ve got the money to spend go for it. But if you need to wait for Netflix/Redbox, so be it. The cinematic 3D does add to the experience, just not the extra $7 worth.
–Jack out.
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Posted by on November 10, 2011 in By Jack, Reviews, entertainment, etc...


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