Saturday, March 1, 2014

2 Weeks, Podcasting & A Character Flaw

It's just two weeks until I'm on a plane heading to Ireland and the United Kingdom to start my dream vacation. I still have lots of stuff to prepare and plan but I'm hoping to get it all done in the next week. If money was no issue I'd just fly over and see where the wind takes me but since I'm doing this on a very tight budget I need to try and plan out every pit stop. I'm still trying to be flexible as you never know if I'll want to stay an extra day somewhere to explore more.. but I'm trying to create some sort of itinerary.

Part of prepping for my trip is working on several podcasts that will be released while I'm overseas so I have to get them edited and uploaded before I leave. So I spent the majority of today editing two and a half MASH 4077 Podcasts. I still have to finish up that third episode as well as several My Gimpy Life podcasts.

On a personal note.. I realized something today that is kind of hard to admit, but I can be selfish at times. I'm not going to go into great detail of what happen, but a friend told me something last night and I gave them a kind of dickish response. It wasn't because I was mad or trying to be mean, it was because I was hurt and upset at what it meant for me.. I did apologize today but needless to say I need to work on that character flaw. Though I want to be happy it's more important for my friends to be happy. I need to remember that in this situation.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Homemade Chili & Possible Tornado's

Besides all my trip planning I made some home made chili for the first time. I have to say I think it turned out pretty good. I used a packet of Lawyer's Chili seasoning for this batch but I think next time I'll try and season it myself and see how it turns out.

A huge storm finally hits LA, we need the water and we knew it was going to be bad when they even expected possible tornado's in the next few days. I'm happy to say that there were no tornado's today but we did have alot of flash flooding. There were emergency warnings on TV all day. Luckily I didn't have to be anywhere so I stayed in and kept dry.

Forgot to mention this in yesterday's blog but I finally signed my tax papers and have officially filed my taxes. This tax season was as bit rough of me since I never got my W2. I also only worked three months last year so the rest was unemployment so I was hoping to just break even and I'm happy to say with a sign of relief that I do no owe any taxes and in fact will be betting a small amount back from both State and Federal... so yay me.

More Planning for my Dream Vacation

Spent the majority of the this rain filled stormy day inside and planning or at least researching stuff for my dream vacation to Ireland / the UK. Today I looked up castles and there are hundreds of different castles all through out the UK and Ireland. I started making a list of ones I wanted to see but after fifty I decided it would be easier to find a book or website that has names of cities and what castles can be found with in them.

I also spent a good deal of the day debating on weather I would take the train up and down the coast or rent a car.

First comparing costs:
  • For the train I can get a Britpass for 15 stops only for $745 dollars. That will limit me to how many times I can get off and on the train and I'm sure there are other restrictions that go along with that. 
  • For the car it would cost me just over $500 to rent it for the three weeks while I am in the UK, plus I would need gas which I would add another $250 for a total of $750.
So basically both will cost me roughly the same amount.

Pros for taking the train;
  • Don't have to deal with traffic
  • Can relax and enjoy the scenery
Cons for taking the train;
  • Limited to where and what I can see
  • Will have luge around luggage with me if I can't store it at a friends house. 
Pros for renting a car;
  • Can travel where ever I want
  • Don't have to wait for train schedules
  • Can explore more of the rural countryside
  • Can store luggage inside car
  • Can sleep in car (if necessary). 
Cons for renting a car;
  • Will have to drive on the opposite side of the road
  • Will have to deal with unknown weather conditions
  • Will have to find parking for the car
  • Will have to deal with traffic
Seeing it all laid out like this and discussing it over with my buddy Erik I think I'm going to go with renting a car. Sure I'll have to deal with traffic but hey I'm from LA and deal with traffic all the time.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

A Day of Movies - My Reviews

Today was a day of relaxing.. no podcasting, no planning my dream vacation. All I wanted to do was sit on my butt and watch movies on Netflix.

Today's theme was "Gay Themed" movies. I will admit that about 90% gay themed movies are low budget but that doesn't mean they don't have a great story.. okay well alot of them don't but occasionally you'll find a gem amongst the rocks. Today I found a few.

First up was a movie called Longhorns, here's a quick synopsis; This is the story of a Texan "all-American" boy at college who seemingly conforms to the stereotype in every way back in the early 80's. When he meets an openly gay student, he has to confront himself for the first time in his life. Or does he?

This was obviously a low-budget, indie production, but I was pleasantly surprised: the production values weren't incredible, but they were definitely better than one might expect, the script was good, touching at times and funny, and the acting was pretty good, especially the two leads. I found the main characters conflict with his sexuality to be very realistic, especially for 1982 when this film takes place.

This isn't a great movie but it was entertaining. It was funny watching this as the main character looks so much like my best friend Chris. Would I watch it again, probably not but I am glad I got to experience it once. I'd give Longhorns a solid C+

Next was The Mostly Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green, this movie is based on a comic strip. Synopsis: A young gay man tries to balance his career as a personal assistant while searching for love.

Unlike Longhorns this one actually had a bigger budget and production values were much higher but unfortunately the main character wasn't that great. This film breaks the most basic fundamental rule of storytelling; the audience needs to feel empathy, affection and support for the central protagonist, and I could care less about him. I actually was more interested in his former boyfriend and friends. This is why I continued to watch the movie. 

As I said.. the production value was good, the acting was good and the majority of the characters were good.. but the main character was such a douche I really didn't care what happen to him. I give
The Mostly Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green a grade of C. Will I watch this again... defiantly not.. am I glad I watched this in the first place.. eh.

My third movie of the day is called Is It Just Me? Frustrated by his ongoing failure to meet Mr. Right, Blaine stumbles upon what might be his perfect match in an online chat room - Xander, a sweet, hunky Texan who's recently moved to LA. Smitten, Blaine finds he's been chatting to Xander under his go-go dancer roommate's profile, setting in motion a convoluted comedy of errors with romance as the ultimate objective.

We have a winner.. I really enjoyed this movie. Most of the characters in the movie are stereotypical, but not in a bothersome way. You have the self-deprecating nerd (Blaine), the perfect dream guy (Xander), the jock who's more focused on sex (Cameron), the older eccentric guy who's lived his life alone, the understanding female friend. I have to give a lot of credit to the actors and the script for not making these characters devolve into annoying rehashes of what we've already seen dozens of time. All of the characters are likable and relateable in some way. The movie does not judge any of them, and there's no bad guy.

I really could identify with the main character of Blaine who is a hopelessly romantic but self-deprecating and lonely gay guy. I found his story to be true to life. Of course I wouldn't have let it get as far as it did but I understand that it's a movie and the story had to play out like it did.

Xander is the cutest thing in the world and his older roommate Ernie provides most of the humor in the film. I also thought it was strange that Xander, after talking to Blaine on the phone for hours and hours, could not tell the voices of Blaine and Cameron apart when he met them in real life, but again it had to be done to tell the story they wanted to tell. 

The production value was fantastic, the acting was great and the storytelling was sweet.

Over all it was a very heartwarming, charming and fun romantic comedy. The moment it was over I added the DVD to my Amazon wishlist. I can officially say that this movie is now in my top 5 of all time favorite "gay themed" movies. I give "Is It Just Me?" a solid A

The final movie of the night was Morgan. Here's a synopsis:  Morgan is the story of a gay and paralyzed young athlete that attempts to live his life in a situation far from desirable. After an accident leaves him paralyzed from the waist down, Morgan Oliver, is first seen wallowing in a state of depression, drowning his sorrows in beer as he watches bicycle racing (the sport that at once defined his sense of purpose and drove him to his catalytic accident) on television. He meets Dean Kagan who helps him through the way and a romantic relationship develops between the two. Once Morgan knows about the New York Haven Cycle Race, he decides to take part in the race with the help of Kagan and sponsorship from Tread Bike Shop.

The first half of this movie is very good, refreshingly low-key and original, with a believable, slowly-developing romance between Morgan and Dean. The second half of the movie turns into somewhat of a melodrama. I knew there would have to be some sort of conflict as everything was looking to good for Morgan. Watching him finally break down from all that had happen to him was hard. He pushes away his mother, best friend and Dean. I guess he had to hit rock bottom before he could slowly build himself back up and come to grips with his situation. 

All the acting was great but Jack Kesy's gentle but powerful performance as Dean was fantastic... 

I really enjoyed this movie, I don't think I would buy it on DVD but I'd definitely watch it again. I give Morgan a solid B

Not bad.. out of the four movies I watch, one was barely watchable, another was entertaining, one was pretty great and one I totally loved. Three out of four is not bad.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Babylon 5 First Time Viewing Continues S4

TV night continues at my buddy Robert's place. We continue to watch Babylon 5 for the first time. Tonight we got in three more episodes from Season Four episodes 5, 6 & 7.

First up tonight was S4 Ep5 "The Long Night" Londo and Vir plot the assassination of Emperor Cartagia. Meanwhile, Captain Sheridan sets into motion his plan to bring the conflict between the Vorlons and the Shadows to a resolution.

Wow... what an episode I don't know where to start. Guess I'll start with G'Kar, Londo and Vir. The assassination of Cartagia was inevitable. And when the moment came I knew it was going to be Vir who did it. I am still not a fan of Londo but I did enjoy his speech to a drunk and very distraught Vir after the killing. G'Kar's response to his fellow Narn about not attacking the Centauri and focus on rebuilding their homeworld was fantastic.. this character has come so far since the very first episode. He really is one of my favorite characters, which surprises me as if you'd ask me at the beginning of all of this which character would be my favorite, he would be on the bottom of the list.

Back on B5, Sheridan having to send that ship to it's death was hard to watch. I kept telling Robert that there was no way I'd be able to be a commander and to knowingly send someone in as a guinea pig and know that you are responsible for their inevitable death.  It was a powerful scene but B5 has had many powerful scenes.. it's one of the main reasons why I am really loving this series.

And I have to say the one thing that I am not liking about this season is the character change in Garibaldi. Now I know we haven't gotten his full story.. that something might be up but it's hard watching this bitter and kind of mean Garibaldi after the many seasons of a character that I really enjoyed.. guess will have to wait and see what happens with his character.

Our second episode of the night is S4 Ep6 "Into the Fire" Sheridan has managed to get the Vorlons and Shadows into one sector, where they are not attacking each other directly. He and Delenn lead a fleet into the sector where the source of the conflict is finally revealed, this is the end of the Shadow War.

Another Wow.. episode. Okay I'll be the first to admit that I kind of like Londo in this episode. First finding out the news about his beloved Adira and him just breaking down was a tug on my ol' heart strings. But what really got to me was his showdown with Morden. Actually giving him a chance to remove the Shadow from Centauri Prime but Morden calls his bluff and Londo does something that I never expected.. he blows up the entire island that the Shadow where hiding on, killing them all along with some Centauri people who sacrificed themselves to save their world. It was one of those jaw dropping moments.. I loved it.

And then of course I loved the gift he gave Vir by putting Morden's head on a pike in the middle of a courtyard (as a few seasons ago Morden asked Vir what he wanted and this was it) and I loved that Vir went through with what he said he would do and gave it a little wave. And then final scene with Vir telling Londo that not all of the accomplices to the Shadow were gone from their homeworld and when the Vorlon ship arrives Londo telling Vir to kill him so that they don't destroy his homeworld was amazing.

The other big thing in this episode was the conclusion of the Shadow War. The battles scene were great and I did like how they concluded the war but it all seemed to easy for me. They wrapped it up in a nice little bow with very little issues.

I liked that the older races (the firsts) have left the younger races to fend for themselves. To me this episode felt like a series finale (which I knew wasn't the case since it was only episode 6 of season 4) but it left me wondering where is this series was going to go next.. I mean "Third Age of Mankind" has begun.
And our third and final episode of the night is S4 Ep7 "Epiphanies" Garibaldi resigns his position. Bester returns with news of Earth Alliance plans to isolate and discredit Babylon 5.

I figured that the Earth Alliance had to get back into the picture as we haven't heard much from them since B5 left the alliance. I liked Bester's confrontation with Lyta. And I like that the keep Bester in that grey area, not knowing if he's good or bad but then in the end he's in it for himself.  The Garibaldi story moves forward a bit. He gets a weird trippy video message and then quits B5. Not sure where they are going with this.

After the amazing six episodes that started this season, this one was good but no where near as great as the ones that preceded it.

Overall another amazing night of Babylon 5!!

Podcasts, Family and a New Hat

Was up super early so I could get my next My Gimpy Life podcast edited and released. It's Wednesday and I like to release the companioncast two days after they release the episode. I spent the next four hour stringing together an hours worth of interviews about season two episode two. I got done around 11:30am and was happy with the results.. as I went to write the show notes and upload the episode I realized that I had somehow lost an interview during the process, EP/Extra Steven Dengler. It wasn't a long interview.. just a few minutes but he was in this episode and it should have been part of it. I know he was in it initially so I'm not sure what happen.

Since the podcast was already uploaded and released I figured I'd just add his interview to the next podcast. He is one of the executive producers of the show so it will fit into episode three as well.

I then headed out to visit family. Today my mom was visiting her grandkids at my brother's so that means I would be able to visit my dad, mother, brother, sister-in-law, nephew and niece all in one go. It was a nice visit. Got to spend a few minutes with my mom, before heading out to lunch with my dad, while we were out my dad wanted to go grocery shopping so we stopped by Target. I have also been wanting to get me a nice hat as summer is fast approaching and since I'm thinning on top and don't want to wear baseball caps all the time I wanted to pick up a different kind of hat. There were two that I liked and I put it out there on Facebook and Twitter for their opinion and about 20 or so folks chimed in and they all went with the hat on the left... and that's the one I liked more so that's the one I got. I ended my visit by hanging out at a local park with my brother and his family.

During the evening I headed over to my buddy Robert's place for our weekly TV night.. blog with episode reviews to follow. All in all it was a good day.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Podcasts, Workouts and Beer

Today was all about editing podcasts. Since my trip is only a few weeks away and I'll be gone for a month I have to stockpile a few of my podcasts. Luckily for me Alien Nation The Newcomers Podcast and Knights of the Guild podcast are currently on hiatus. Confessions of a Fanboy is being retooled and I have yet to get started on my new The Geek Roundtable Podcast so that leaves MASH 4077 Podcast (which is my most successful podcast) and My Gimpy Life podcast which currently new webisodes are being released.

I need to get at least four MASH podcasts completed; March 1st & 15th and April 1st & 15th and for My Gimpy Life season two, there are four episodes this season and I still have 3 more companioncast and a special "crew" episode that I will be releasing in the coming month.

In theory if I pushed myself I could edit all these podcasts over two to three days.. which would make since but my MASH podcasts can take up to six hours to edit one episode and My Gimpy Life can take a few hours for each as well and I don't have it in me to do nothing but edit podcasts for two days straight.

So today I was determined to get at least one episode of my MASH podcast and the next episode of My Gimpy Life podcast finished. I started with MASH and went to upload the actual TV episode to use the audio clips in the show (which I do for every episode) but this episode was the first two-parter 50 minute episode and it took six hours to upload which meant I couldn't use AVID for anything else.

So while this was happening I caught up on my blog and I hope to keep up on it.. at least until I go to Ireland and the UK. Not sure if I'm going to blog while I'm there (which I'm hoping I can) as I don't want to have to come back and blog 32 days of vacation. I do know that I'll be keeping a journal of my adventures just in case I can't blog everynight.

I also went out and did my daily jog and workout. Yesterday I managed to jog around the park once without stopping.. which is a huge accomplishment for me.. well today I actually shocked myself and jogged twice around the park without stopping (that's 2 miles). I also did a halfhour workout at the local workout area. It was another really good workout/jog session.

My upload was finally done and spent the next four or so hours editing the next MASH 4077 Podcast. it was no 8 and I had evening plans so I will have to do My Gimpy Life tomorrow morning before I leave to visit family.

At 8pm I got on skype with my buddy Erik, we were watching Syfy's Faceoff together at 9pm... which we have done all season. We started the night by chatting, drank some beers (Erik is teaching me how to appreciate beer and I'm actually finding several types of beer that I like). We watched Faceoff and then chatted some more.. it was 3 1/2 hours of awesome and a great way to end my night.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Clone Wars, Jogging, Romantic Comedy & My Gimpy Life

First up Netflix release an extended trailer for Season Six of Star Wars The Clone Wars which they are titling as The Lost Missions. I've been looking forward to these episodes ever since they cancelled the show and rumor had it that they were still completely a handful of episodes that they had already started for season six. Come to find out that it's 13 episodes and that they will be released exclusively by Netflix on March 7th. The trailer is amazing but then again the Clone Wars trailers are always amazing. Take a look.

In the afternoon I started working on my MASH 4077 Podcast but realized I had to upload the actually tv episode. I expected it to take about an hour and a half so I decided to go for a run at the park while this was happening. I didn't intend it to be as intense as it was yesterday but it actually was.

I actually jogged around the entire park (just under a mile) without stopping. This is the first time I have done this since I started jogging here. After the one lap I walked about a third of the path to the workout area. I spent the next 30 minutes working out my arms, legs, waist and chest.

After working out I went back to jogging and actually jogged the entire park as well as another 2/3 of the park.. so in the end I did a great 30 minute workout and jogged 2 2/3's of my 3 laps around the park... and in the end I felt great. I probably could have jogged one more lap but I didn't want to push it. 

When I got back from working out the upload was still happening and when I checked the estimated time I still have four more hours. It is going to take 6 hours to upload this episode.. that's crazy. And while it's uploading I can't do anything with the AVID.

So I decided to eat lunch and watch another "gay themed" movie on Netflix. This time I went with a comedy called "eCupid" Here's a synopsis: Marshall is a cocky young ad man working at a dead-end job for a boss who overlooks his talents. After seven years with his boyfriend, Gabe, Marshall's love life has become too comfortable. On top of that, he's turning 30! He is desperate for a new life. He goes looking for it online, where he comes upon a mysterious app called "eCupid" that guarantees to find true love. From the moment he downloads it, "eCupid" scans every inch of Marshall's online world and instantly turns his life upside down. Marshall suddenly gets everything he thinks he wanted. Marshall soon finds that all the attention is more than he bargained for. With the help of a wise and mysterious waitress (Morgan Fairchild), Marshall is given one last chance to listen to his heart and figure out what (and who) is really important. 

This was a cute movie, not the best romantic comedy I've seen but enjoyable. Lots of eye candy and the story was somewhat fantastical. There is not much more to say. It won't be going into my top 10 all time favorite "gay themed" movies but I still give eCupid a C+

Read on twitter that actor/writer/director Harold Ramis has passed away. He's worked so many great movies from the 70's and 80's but I will already remember him as Egon Spengler from Ghostbusters 1 & 2. He will be missed.

The MASH episode finally finished  uploading and I was able to work on the next episode for a few hours. Should get that done tomorrow morning and then work on the next My Gimpy Life CompanionCast 

And speaking of My Gimpy Life the second episode of season two was released today. I'm actually a background extra on this one.. see if you can spot me.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Weekend & Bad Boy Street - Reviews

After my long workout today I got home, was exhausted so I decided to make some lunch and watch a few movies on netflix. There are a ton of "gay" themed movies that I haven't seen so I decided to watch a few of those today.

First up was a movie called "Weekend", here's a synopsis: On a Friday night after a drunken house party with his straight mates, Russell heads out to a gay club, alone and on the pull. Just before closing time he picks up Glen but what's expected to be just a one-night stand becomes something else, something special. That weekend, in bars and in bedrooms, getting drunk and taking drugs, telling stories and having sex, the two men get to know each other. It is a brief encounter that will resonate throughout their lives.

I really enjoyed this movie, it was an honest and unapologetic love story between two guys, It is about the search for identity and the importance of making a passionate commitment to your life. The bitter sweet ending brought tears to my eyes. I would have to say the only downside for me was the gratuitous drug use. I wish for once a film portraying the gay lifestyle didn't always include drug use. Not all us gays use drugs. I'd give this movie a solid B-, if it didn't have all the drug use I'd give it a B+.

And speaking of drug use.. It's the same with the US version of Queer As Folk which I'm currently rewatching/watching. So much drug use and don't get me wrong I'm sure there are parts of the gay culture/community where this happens in abundance but luckily I just happen to not be in those kinds of circles. I just which for once they would portray a gay lifestyle that doesn't include partying, drinking and drugs. But then again I guess that's where all the drama lies and who'd want to watch a drama free and stable gay couple trying to work together and make their lives better. 

Anyways the second movie was a lower budget movie called Bad Boy Street. Here's a synopsis: Frenchman Claude (Yann De Monterno) had a bad relationship in USA ages ago; that's why he came back to France. One early dawn as he is walking towards his home he sees a drunken American lying on the pavement. Claude took him to his home because there was no way to identify the Young American. When they had a chance to talk, the young American's name is Brad (Kevin Miranda). That chance meeting leads to their relationship but Brad seems an enigma, seeming aloof even to Claude's BFF Catherine (Florence D' Azemar). Things get worse on the day of Claude's birthday, when a group of friends surprise him at his home; one recognizes Brad. Will Claude and Brad have the chance for a long term relationship?

I enjoyed this movie as well. There were only three main actors in this movie and all of them were very charming and sweet. Claude was my favorite and maybe that's because he was more my age and I could identify with him. I know from early on what Brad's secret was so it wasn't a surprise to me when they finally revealed it. And I really like Claude best girl friend Catherine, they had some nice chemistry.

As I mentioned it's a lower budget film and had some uneven audio, some crazy and shaky camera shots and the opening graphic were horrendous but none of these minor things really took away from the charming love story.  I've give this film a good C+

Queer As Folk, Epic Workout & About a Boy

So I was being lazy today.. had planned to do some more podcast editing or blogging but spent the morning watch some Queer as Folk (US version).  I've seen the UK version and LOVED IT... and I've seen about a season and a half of the US version but lost interested or life to to busy.. I don't know the reason why I stopped but I did. Now that I have Netflix I have started watching the series again... But about two episodes in my bud Erik texted me a picture of himself with the text "Evidently cardio was good today" and his shirt was covered in sweat. That was enough motivation to get my butt off the couch and out the door across the street to the park to jog.

What I thought was going to be a solo adventure turned into an EPIC 2 hour workout. As I mentioned it started as a solo jog when I got a text from my buddy Dallas asking if I wanted to go for a walk around the park today. I told him I was already here jogging and would met up with him when he got here. About ten minutes later he showed up and we managed to find each other and I started walking with him when suddenly from behind my friend Jen came jogging up and joined the group.

So now it was the three of us walking around the park and talking. Occasionally Jen and I would run and met back up with Dallas who continued to walk. We did this for about an hour and then Dallas as to leave so Jen and I continued jogging around the park.

One cool thing about this park is that they have this "workout" area, so Jen and I decided to check it out and we did each machine to see what kind of resistance you could get with no actual weights. We were surprised with some of them as you really felt the resistance from how the machine was constructed... others weren't so great but the fact that it's here at the park and free is a win win situation.

So for future runs I'll do a lap and then come and work out my arms or chest and then do another lap and do a second round of workout and so on.

After two hours Jen and I called it quits, we had both gotten not only an amazing cardio workout but got to workout our arms, waist, abs, chest and back. It was a pretty great workout.

I spent the rest of the day relaxing and watching movies (which I'll review in my next blog post) and I also watched the new TV series About A Boy, which there is a movie with Hugh Grant titled the same both of them are based off a novel.  Here's some info about he TV series, Based on the best-selling novel by Nick Hornby, written and produced by Jason Katims, and directed by Jon Favreau comes a different kind of coming-of-age story. After writing a hit song, Will Freeman (David Walton) was granted a life of free time, free love and freedom from financial woes. He's single, unemployed and loving it. So imagine his surprise when Fiona (Minnie Driver), a needy single mom and her oddly charming 11-year-old son, Marcus (Benjamin Stockham), move in next door and disrupt his perfect world.

The pilot was a truncated version of the movie but still hit all the right spots. It's cute, funny and very charming. I really liked the movie and from just this pilot I can tell I'm going to be liking the TV series. I just hope it does well and we get to see plenty more of About A Boy.. it airs on NBC Tuesday night.. be sure to check it out.