Saturday, December 20, 2014

MASH, Grand Budapest Hotel & Card Games

Started my day by recording six new episodes of my MASH 4077 Podcast with my buddies Meds and Al. It's always fun getting together with those guys to talk about one of my favorite TV comedies of all time. If you're a MASH fan and not listening to our podcast.. then what are you waiting for? You can download or take a listen to it HERE.

My buddy Will texted a group of us and asked if we wanted to come over and watch a movie. I was up for it so I headedover. Will and I got to catch up for a bit and just chat. We were then joined by Dallas, and then Robert and Cait and finally Will's girlfriend Becca joined in the fun. We ordered some Chinese food for dinner and watched The Grand Budapest Hotel. Here's a quick synopsis: In the 1930s, the Grand Budapest Hotel is a popular European ski resort, presided over by concierge Gustave. Zero, a junior lobby boy, becomes Gustave's friend and protege. Gustave prides himself on providing first-class service to the hotel's guests, including satisfying the sexual needs of the many elderly women who stay there. When one of Gustave's lovers dies mysteriously, Gustave finds himself the recipient of a priceless painting and the chief suspect in her murder.

This is a Wes Anderson film and until recently I wasn't a big fan of his films. But his 2012 film Moonrise Kingdom wasn't bad so I kind of knew what to expect with his sytle of movie and it didn't disappoint. This is one quirky film, it's very stylized and the cinematography is very interesting. What's crazy about this film is it starts with someone telling a story in 2014, then goes back in time about 30 years to the 1980's and someone else starts to tell a story and then it goes back in time another 20 years to the 1960's and then another person starts to tell a story that goes back another 30 years to the 1930's and this is where the main story takes place. 

As for the story it's as I said very quirky but interesting. This movie is slow but it always kept me interest. By the end I enjoyed the film and so did everyone who watched it (at least I think they did).

Becca had to leave for the evening so Dallas, Robert, Will, Cait and I played a few board/card games. First up was Chrononauts.  In Chrononauts, each player becomes a time traveler, with a unique identity and a secret mission. During the game, players travel backwards and forwards through history, doing all those things people have always dreamed of using a time machine to do: Visiting the great moments of the past, peeking into the
future, collecting up impossible artifacts and priceless works of art (at the moment just before history records their destruction), coming to grips with the paradoxes of time travel, and of course, changing pivotal events and altering the course of history itself.

This was a quick game to understand and was a lot of fun. The games themselves went very quick and the only real downside to this game is that you don't know what the other person's "secret" mission is so you can't really do anything to prevent them from winning. You're playing along until someone says.. I win. We played a few games of this before moving on to Sentinels of the Multiverse.

Sentinels of the Multiverse is a cooperative, fixed-deck card game with a comic book flavor. Each player plays as one of ten heroes, against one of four villains, and the battle takes place in one of four different dynamic environments. Each player, after selecting one of the heroes, plays a deck of 40 cards against the villain and environment decks, which "play themselves", requiring the players to put the top card of the appropriate deck into play on the villain and environment turns. On each player's turn, they may play a card from their hand, use a power printed on one of their cards in play, and draw a card from their deck. Each round starts with the villain turn, continues clockwise around the table, then concludes with the environment turn. Each villain has various advantages, such as starting with certain cards in play, as specified by the villain character card. Play continues until the heroes reduce the villain to 0 or fewer HP, or until the villain defeats the heroes, either via a win condition or by reducing all the heroes to 0 or fewer HP.

Once you understand how to play this game it's not to bad. I played the hero Legacy. His HP was pretty high so most of my powers consisted of adding HP to other players or taking "hits" for other players when they are attacked. It was fun but I think I enjoyed Chrononauts little more. But I do like playing cooperative games.

Overall it was a fantastic evening of good food, good times and good company.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Three More Screeners

I got three more screeners today. Two movie that I heard of and a third that I haven't. First Nightcrawler, from the title and me being a geek my thoughts go to X-Men but this has nothing to do with that Nightcrawler and from the previews it doesn't really look like a movie that I would enjoy, though it does have one of my favorite actors Jake Gyllenhaal.

The next one is Mr Turner which I've only seen a quick scene as the main actor Timothy Spall was on Graham Norton promoting it. Doesn't look like a movie I'd like but it is based on a real person and for some reason I have enjoyed a few of those types of movies this year.. so will see.

The final movie that I got was Still Alice, don't have a clue what this is, haven't seen a trailer or heard anything about it. So I looked it up online and here's a quick synopsis: A vibrant and accomplished college professor (Julianne Moore) disappears in front of her friends, family and herself as Alzheimer's disease slowly destroys her mind. This sounds really heavy.. gonna have to be a great mood when watching this one.

My Second 30 Days

Sixty days ago I was diagnosed as pre-diabetes, my sugar levels were 6.4 and to be officially diabetic your sugar levels need to be 6.5 and above... so I have come as close to being diabetic without being official. So I had to make some changes... some major changes

I have 90 days before I have to go back and be re-tested in hopes that my numbers have gone done. So here was my 90 day plan to eat better and lose weight. The first 30 days was getting into a routine with working out and begin to change my diet. After the first 30 days my cardio workouts were like second nature. I wake up and first thing I'd do is put on my sweats and head out and do my 30/45 minute jog/walk around the NoHo park.. diet on the other hand is much harder. I have given up junk food and fast food for the most part. I've given up potatoes and pasta. I'm still eating wheat pasta and bread but hopefully I'll give up that as well pretty soon.

For the middle 30 days I wanted to increase my working out from a half hour to a full hour of cardio and continue to work on my diet and start to include veggies. Well today marks the end of my second 30 days and my cardio workouts are going well. I have jogged/walked about 45 minutes everyday, 7 days a week with exception to one week when I was to sick to move. My diet on the other hand isn't going well. I'm still trying hard to not eat fast food, I'm down to once a week, sometimes two. I haven't introduced as many vegetables as I would like into my diet and it's a struggle everyday to not eat poorly.
And now I start my final 30 days, my cardio is great, I'll continue to do my 45 minute cardio walk/jog around the park everyday, there's no problem there. What I need to focus on is my diet. I'm finding it much harder then I had ever expected. I think it's because I'm expected to give up everything all at once and I'm finding that way to difficult. I try not to keep sweets or "bad" food, aka carbs in the apartment as I know I'll get desperate and eat them. Just like with my diet soda (which I no longer keep in the house) and only drink when I go out on occasions.

As for my weight... I lost 6 pounds in my first 30 days going from 217 to 211. Today I weighted myself and I went from 211 to 203.5, that's 7.5 pounds more for my second 30 days for a total of 13.5 pounds in 60 days. I'm not thrilled with those numbers but I guess I should be happy that the numbers are going down. My goal was to lose at least 18 pounds and get below 200 by the time I go in for my 90 day check up and if I continue to do what I'm doing I shouldn't have a problem achieving that goal. 

Thanks to everyone for your continued love and support.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Unbroken Screener & Re-Watching Downton Abbey S2

I got another screener today, this is a movie I was hoping to get a screener for.. Unbroken. Looks very dramatic and I'm sure it's going to be emotional but it looks really good.

My all day Downton Abbey Re-watch continued but I did manage to do stuff around the apartment like wrapping Christmas gifts and cleaning up the place. I watched all the Season 1 extras, all eight episodes of Season 2 and it's extras as well. Unfortunately or fortunately (depend on how you look at it) I don't have Seasons 3, 4 or 5 on DVD/Blu-ray yet and they are not on Netflix... so I have to stop with S2 for the time being.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

More Screeners, Downton Abbey Rewatch & Babylon 5 Continues

First of all I got several more screeners today. Inherent Vice, which I have seen previews to and it doesn't look like my kind of movie but then my second screener was The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies... now this is my type of movie.

After my morning cardio I made the mistake of putting on Downton Abbey. I've been wanting to do a rewatch of the entire five seasons so I figured I'd be able to pop on the first season and kind of have it on in the background while I do stuff around the apartment... yeah it was a good theory but I spent the majority of the day with my butt on the couch getting sucked back into one of the best period piece drama that I've ever seen. I sat and watched all even episodes of the first season back to back to back.

During the evening I went over to my buddy Roberts place to watch some more Babylon 5. We finally getting to the end of season five, which is the last season of the series but then we have five TV movies to watch and a spin off series (if we choose).

We started our watch with S5 Ep18 "The Fall of Centauri Prime" Centauri Prime has been attacked, thousands have died. Londo finds out the truth, who masterminded the war, and why they allowed the attack on Centauri Prime to happen. Londo becomes Emperor, and has to act hostile to those he once called "friend." 

We knew this was coming from the "future" episode we saw, It's hard for me to feel pity for Londo. He made the bed he now lies in. I know he did what he did to the greater good of Centauri but look what it's done to his world. He will now have to live with what his actions caused. It's a very sad ending for his character. 

And then we watched S5 Ep19 "The Wheel of Fire" G'Kar returns to the station to find he has become a religious icon. Sheridan confronts Garibaldi about his drinking problems. Lyta is taken into custody for planning attacks on Psi Corps. Delenn collapses, and they find out she's pregnant. 

I was kind of disappointed in the Lyta character in this episode. I've always liked her but with that said I understand why she did what she did. Her "people" are being oppressed and used and she's doing everything she can do help them. I'm glad that Garibaldi was finally called out on his drinking and hopefully he can get his life back together. I've been waiting to hear about Sheridan and Delenn's baby as we know they have a son from that "future" episode that we saw. Not sure how I feel about Lyta and Garibaldi teaming up. This episode felt like they were wrapping up storylines.. the end is near.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Scorpion, Christmas Card & Into the Woods - My Review

Today I watched the mid season finale of one of my favorite new TV shows, Scorpion. Most of the episodes are extremely suspenseful but this last episode was so tense that I think I stood and paced with anticipation for the outcome. From beginning to about 2/3'ds of the way through it was tense and I didn't see how they would get out of this situation. And then at the very end all the emotions started to come out and after being tense for 45 minutes it was nice to get that emotional release. Can't wait for this series to return next year.

I saw this Christmas Card on a show I watch called "Right This Minute" so I found it on you tube. Now there is debate on whether it's a legit flip book type animation or if it's pure animation simulating the flip book style. Either way I love the song and it's pretty EPIC...

And as I mentioned in my previous blog post, I got the screener for Into the Woods and I said I figured I'd be watching it sooner then later as many of my friends want to see it.. and sure enough tonight I headed over to my friend Jes and Dallas' place with my buddy Robert to watch Into the Woods.

For those of you who don't know the story here's a brief synopsis: Into the Woods is a modern twist on the beloved Brothers Grimm fairy tales in a musical format that follows the classic tales of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Rapunzel-all tied together by an original story involving a baker and his wife, their wish to begin a family and their interaction with the witch who has put a curse on them.

This has been a stage play for many years and it's even on DVD (a recorded version of the stage play) which I saw and really enjoyed. So I had an idea of what to expect but what was funny is when the movie starts and it goes right into musical mode and I was taken back. Though I knew it was a musical I didn't realize that the movie too was going to be a musical.. yeah I know I'm an idiot. 

I don't want to get to spoilery but I enjoyed the movie overall, the music is fantastic, the actors were great and the story, though sad at times, it pretty fun. I love when you see actors that you don't realized could sing belt out a tune. It funny to me as the promo/trailers show alot of Johnny Depp in the film and he really only has the one scene and one song (which I felt was the weakest of all of them). I like that they kept to more of the "original" Cinderella storyline with the evil step sisters. Overall it's a very Charming film. I give Into the Woods a solid A

Monday, December 15, 2014

Into the Woods Screener

I was surprised to get this screener so early as the movie itself doesn't come out until Christmas. Studios tend to released screeners closer to if not after the movie is released to prevent piracy. But none-the-less I got a screener for Into the Woods. I've seen the taped live performance of this play and really enjoyed it so I'm looking forward to this one.

I suspect I'll be watching this one sooner then later as many of my friends are super excited to see this one.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Cookies, Imitation Game & Big Hero Six Review

@HerUniverse posted a picture of these awesome "melting" snowman sugar cookies that I will have to do next year. I don't know why but they made me laugh.. such a cool idea.

I watched The Imitation Game with my buddy Will today. We've been trying to hook up and hang for the past few weeks and our schedules finally clicked. Of course I saw a pre-screening of this film a few weeks back.. You can read my full review of The Imitation Game HERE.

I loved it even more the second time and yes I still cried but not until the end unlike last time. Most movies I watch, enjoy and then move on.. there are those that stay with me like LOTR, Harry Potter, Star Wars, Star Trek, etc.. because they are fun, entertaining and very geeky but then there are those special films that have such a profound effect of me that I can't stop thinking about them.. even days later. It rarely happens but this is one of those films. Just thinking about it now as I type out this blog brings tears to my eyes.

After Will left I watched Big Hero Six. "Big Hero 6," an action-packed comedy-adventure about the special bond that develops between Baymax, a plus-sized inflatable robot, and prodigy Hiro Hamada. When a devastating event befalls the city of San Fransokyo and catapults Hiro into the midst of danger, he turns to Baymax and his close friends adrenaline junkie Go Go Tomago, neatnik Wasabi, chemistry whiz Honey Lemon and fanboy Fred. Determined to uncover the mystery, Hiro transforms his friends into a band of high-tech heroes called "Big Hero 6.

I've heard good things about this movie so I was really looking forward to seeing it, so I was super excited when I got the screener this month. I really enjoyed this movie, Baymax is adorable and I'd so love to have one of those guys around for a friend/doctor. I liked the all characters and the story. I was tearing up at the end but ultimately happy when the movie ended. The animation was well done and over all it was just a really good movie. After seeing the movie it made me interested in checking out the Marvel comic that it is based on...  I give Big Hero Six a solid B+