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The Los Angeles Car Wreck — By Jack

Oh the horror!

My first day of PA work on B&^#$@!5 was done. It was obvious I didn’t get the job. But a day’s pay is a day’s pay. No one can take that away from me right? Wrong.

If you’re not familiar with driving in Los Angeles, it is absolutely crazy. Everyone thinks they are a rock star, weaving in and out of lanes as fast as they can, cars nest in your blind spot, and when you exit a highway someone cuts you off on the off ramp because they won’t wait in the mile long line of cars (cause I guess the rules for clubbing is the same for road etiquette, it’s not cool to wait in line.) And to top it all off motor cycles speed between the lanes of traffic. I honestly don’t know how any of them are still alive. That being said, you can understand why avoiding highways can be preferable.

This is good traffic.

So a few miles from my apartment (ironically at the off ramp of the highway I was avoiding) I go to make a right turn. I’m in the far right lane and as I’m making the turn a car hits into me. Fantastic! My poor car is less than a month old. We pull over and people immediately start honking at us. Apparently, from 4:30-6:30, there are no stops allowed.  SO we pull into the narrow nearby parking lot. Before I can even get a good look at the other driver, someone comes out of the flower shop (whose parking lot, I assume, we are occupying.)

“You can’t park here! This is parking for that apartment complex,” The man interjects.

“We just had an accident, where are we supposed to go?” I reply. 

“I don’t care. It’s a terrible intersection. Two to three times a day someone gets into an accident here.”

“Okay, well, just let us exchange information and we’ll be out of your hair.”

The flower shop guy gives me a dismissive gesture and walks off. I turn and the woman who hit me is now in my face, “You don’t have plates, give me your VIN number!” She was referring to my temporary dealer plates, (see new car.)

“Calm down. Let’s exchange insurance.”

“Why do you need my insurance? It’s your fault,” she insists.

As we argued and took pictures of the damage with our phones, I got a good look at the intersection. It was really chaotic and confusing. Yes the right two lanes are both turn only lanes. But the line delineations into the turn of the intersection are really sharp and unintuitive.

Okay, not the actual intersection. But it was just as confusing.

After she finished with her incomprehensible diatribe, I told her I would be right back.

“Don’t you run off! I’ve got your fake license plate!”

I couldn’t tell if she was being sarcastic or stupid. But I didn’t let that stop me from going to the flower shop guy. He was telling some story to two of his buddies. Who hangs out in a flower shop?

“Excuse me, you were saying that you get 2-3 accidents a day here? Can I get your name.”

“Nope,” he replied sharply.

“Excuse me?” I attempted again. 

“You already said that, you’re sounding like a broken record.”

“It’s just–” but before could complete the thought.

“Look, I don’t want to get involved, I don’t want to be a witness, and I sure as hell am not going to testify.”

“Hey, whoa, I’m not going to court over this. I just want to tell my insurance company all the–” One again he cut me off before I could complete the thought.

“Don’t go telling your insurance nothing. It’s going to come down to your word versus hers and you’re both going to end up paying and you both are going to be ‘at fault.’ Just go out and tell that lady, it sucks it happened but agree to pay yours and she agrees to pay hers and have that be the end of it. And don’t be really stupid and call a cop. They’ll write you a ticket just for callin’ em out here in rush hour.”

I stumbled out of the flower shop in a blank haze. I had never not told an insurance company about an accident. Did I have to tell them? Would they raise my rates just for being in an accident?

I looked over her damage and mine. It looked like she just had some paint rubbed on her car from mine. None of hers was structural or even chipped her paint for all I could tell. Mine was the one with the dent in the side. About the size of a baseball. Not massive, but still a shame for such a new car. But the paint job is the real killer.

Small damage. Big headache.

“Look, normally the first thing I’d do in a car accident is call my insurance company. It’s what I’m inclined to do now. But that guy said in this case it may not be such a good idea.”

I relayed the flower shop guy’s words as best I could. And I must have done a pretty good job because she seemed to agree.

“Okay, but if you change your mind be sure to give me a call. Sleep on it, talk it over with your husband and see how you feel.” I affirmed in a reassuring manner. 

With that, we parted ways. It felt like I was now part of a conspiracy. I’ve always done things by the book. How badly could this bite me in the ass? What if she called her insurance without telling me? Would that make me look like I was hiding something? Would that create or insinuate a sense of guilt? Can insurance penalize me for not reporting it? I drove home extra cautiously as I listened to the Obama/Romney debate on NPR.

—Jack Out

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Posted by on October 10, 2012 in By Jack

 

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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.

 

Rating?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

—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?
Sure.
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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Quantum Entropy Stage Two: The First Date — By Mack

There’s nothing like that feeling when things are clicking at the beginning of a relationship. The excitement of your text messages immediately being returned.  That person getting your jokes. Testing the waters of sexual innuendo. It’s like crack.  But that inertia can only last for so long.  A first meet up must be necessary. Plus well, that’s the point.

But as vibrant and fun as the text message portion can be, when you actually meet the person all can go to hell. Maybe they don’t look like their picture. Maybe they’re an ass hole. You must remember, when you first meet someone, we take what we know then fill in the gaps with our imaginations. We do it with presidential candidates, jobs, everything. So when you’re sitting at that table for the first time, the reality gets defined as your hopeful imaginings die.  And for that reason (among others) that first date I tend to make lite. Coffee, maybe a bar. NEVER dinner.

I met Quantum Entropy for dinner at a place called the Crooked Knife. (yup I just contradicted myself.) Upon seeing her, I think my impression was “I think this could work.” Granted I was hoping for “My God! Her pictures don’t do her justice!,” but at least it wasn’t “oh Lord, so that’s why she didn’t have any pictures from the neck down.” Her style wasn’t quite a match and if anything you do to your nails impedes any hand movement, it’s a turn off, but I knew she was from Jersey when I messaged her.  However, in addition to the shared interested/sense of humor she also had a little bit of fire. And has been a while since I’ve played with fire.

The date itself did what I hoped. It continued that momentum where the text messages left off. But then it did even more. Dinner finished, we each had two drinks, the restaurant was closing. Most first dates that would be it. But then her fire came out and she wasn’t done with me. We hit the bar next door. When you get caught up with someone there is a magic that can happen. Like a shared solitude that the rest of the world can’t penetrate.  The Crooked Knife had been a place where a server brings your drinks on a tray. This bar was a place you had to shout at the fat old bartender over a row of barflies to get your shots.

I don’t remember when the first kiss happened. I just remember sitting on couches towards the back while the MTV music awards were on. Or maybe it was the Grammy’s. Either way an old man was looking at us and Adele just won album of the year. I didn’t care because Quantum Entrophy was playing with my beard as she made out with me. The she pulled away and looked at me with what I call hungry eyes as she said, “You’re going to be fun.”

I offered to walk her home ( she lives like 2 blocks away ) to which she politely refused.
“You sure?”
“Yea, I just…have this thing…”
“Okay?”
“I know you’re not crazy, I have this thing about guys knowing where I live…I’ve had some bad experiences…”

And we left it at that. But now I was wondering what I was dealing with. Was this an overly cautious girl or was she hiding something?  Come back next week to find out!

–Big Mack Attack

 
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Posted by on June 23, 2012 in By Mack, Dating

 

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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.

http://www.hulu.com/embed/Db2v06F3U9TlHetIWbnonw

— Jack out.

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

 

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The Post-It Date — By Mack

Continued from…The New York Post Date!

With one glance I knew…I wasn’t into her. And that this was going to be a very awkward date. Now you can chide me all you want about “beauty being on the inside” or that you fall in love with the person, but if that attraction isn’t there, it’s not there. Men fall in love with their eyes, people. It’s a fact of life.

We went off, shared a pitcher of beer, and bowled a couple of games. We both sucked by the way. Simply put we just didn’t have anything to talk about. I did my best to make the date fun. And thank God, it wasn’t a dinner date. When a date starts, you have the “exchange” part where you are essentially casting lines hoping something hooks. If it does, you’ve got conversation. When a conversation thread dies both daters feel it and it’s almost a capitulation to “cast another line.” We didn’t hook very much. The bowling really took the attention off the boring conversation. Don’t get my wrong. She was a nice girl. Teacher, worked with disabled kids, loves empanadas. But I’ve spent too long in relationships with nice girls because I was too afraid to reject them, hoping I’d fall in love with their inner self. Yea never happened.

We finished our hour of bowling but the Post was supposed to send a photographer to take pictures of us on the date. Brooklyn Bowl desperately wanted their lane back. They had paying customers. We shrugged off the manager’s dirty looks as we waited for the increasingly late photographer. Eventually he showed up and had us do a series of fun picture. While striking a pose, my bowling ball hit her bowling ball (with my finger in between the two balls.) It wasnt’ pretty.

I walked home to the Brooklyn train station alone, drunk on 3/4 a pitcher of beer, nursing my finger, pondering how I would write my mandatory recap (that had to be written by the morning for Callie.) I didn’t know how to say I wasn’t into her without making her or me sound bad. I felt because her thighs weren’t thin enough, or that her earrings were too big, or her face wasn’t pretty enough for me that that some how made me the bad guy.  And I certainly didn’t want to say that about her in print.

I made it home, threw something together and sent it off to Callie. What actually got written was a crock of shit. But what else do you expect from the New York Post?

–Big Mack Attack!

Ben’s note, here is the actual New York Post – Meet Market column. By the way, I never called her a “nice lady.”

http://www.nypost.com/p/entertainment/dating/strike_out_PAlOsfO4WEa3v9hIufxnbO

 
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Posted by on May 19, 2012 in By Mack, Dating

 

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