Hobbit III

Dec. 29th, 2014 07:14 pm
jinasphinx: (Sphinx)
We (The Man, the kids, and I) saw Hobbit 3 the other day. I think that somewhere, under the CG effects and the wire-fu inspired action, was a good story. But it's hard to find it.

To elaborate a little bit, you know how Hobbit 1 ends? Kind of like if the writers were having a late-night DnD session fueled by Skittles and Mountain Dew and someone said, "You know what would be awesome? If the dwarves climbed into the trees and then the trees caught on fire!" And someone else said, "Yeah, and then if the trees were also falling over!" "Whoa, yeah! Over the edge of a cliff!" Well, Hobbit 3 feels like one long scene written in that way. :/

There were some great character moments that I liked:
Read more... )

One last thought: Bard spends the entire movie raising the bar for single dads everywhere. Sure, you may love and provide for your kids, but have you saved their lives today? How many times?
jinasphinx: (Sphinx)
On a Seattle startups mailing list, someone started a discussion about what to look for in a co-founder. Amidst items like "launched at least one product for a previous company," there was:

* Does not set off 'creep' detector in female co-workers.
* Interacts with female co-workers in a social setting in a non-asshole way.

A few people then asked why the original poster was assuming his co-founder would be male, and why not just say that the co-founder should not be a creep/asshole with all coworkers, regardless of gender.

Um...really? First, because most co-founders are male. Nothing about the original post gave me the feeling that the author would mind having a female co-founder, just that most (everyone?) applying is male. That's not exactly surprising in the software industry. Second, because tech culture has a problem specifically with women, not with all genders. Silicon Valley has the Uber CEO making jokes about "Boober" and inspiring articles like "Uber’s boys club is what’s wrong with Silicon Valley", there's sexual harassment at Github, etc. In Seattle, we have Microsoft's CEO saying women's secret power is to not ask for raises, and Amazon's culture inspiring articles like "Broverwhelmed: Gender Disparity in Seattle". And then we have Gamergate happening all over the Internet.

So yeah, it's unfortunate, but I think in 2014 we need to say specifically, "Not a creep/asshole with women."
jinasphinx: (Sphinx)
From an article on PBS Making Sen$e by Nick Hanauer, Amazon.com billionaire and advocate of Seattle's higher minimum wage:

In the absence of a law requiring me to pay you overtime if you earn under a certain amount, you end up working harder—and the harder you work, the fewer employees I need. The fewer employees I need, the higher the unemployment rate. The higher the unemployment rate, the more leverage I have to “encourage” you to “do what it takes” to keep your job. And so you work even more hours, pushing unemployment up and wages down. And that, my friends, is one of the little tricks that keeps you poor and me rich.

This is why, in a recent Gallup poll, salaried Americans now report working an average of 47 hours a week, not the allegedly standard 40. And 18 percent of you report working more than 60 hours per week. Yet at the same time, you’re taking only about 77 percent of your paid time off. According to a survey commissioned by the U.S. Travel Association, U.S. workers now use an average of only 16 vacation days a year out of the nearly 21 days they earn—the lowest in more than four decades. Why? Often because they’re terrified of working fewer hours and falling short of their employers’ demands for ever more productivity. And many of these unused vacation days are forfeited: an estimated $52.4 billion worth each year that goes to owners like me.

Now obviously, take away our license to force 10.4 million Americans to work extra hours for nothing, and smart capitalists like me would try to limit overtime as much as possible. I mean, time-and-a-half pay sure adds up fast! So many of you would be unlikely to see much of an immediate bump in take-home pay. Instead, we capitalists would be forced to hire millions more people to do the work you currently do for free. That would drive down unemployment. And a tighter labor market would drive up wages for the first time in 40 years.
jinasphinx: (Sphinx)
Fall has arrived and with it the new TV season. The Man and I have picked up some new shows (and dropped one already):

  • "Constantine" -- Loving Matt Ryan in it; he seems perfect. I like how episode 2 introduced an artist, so we have an excuse to look at drawings of Constantine. Not loving how they have him and the artist stand super-close to each other, I guess for some false suspense about "Will they kiss?" (It's a bit like the emotional looks Abbie and Ichabod give each other on "Sleepy Hollow".)

  • "Scorpion" -- We dropped it after 3 episodes. Though the first episode was fun, the second one got on my last nerve (in addition to being a computer genius, Walter was also able to read gene sequences at a glance and know what they code for -- AAAGGGGH), and the third was just too little butter spread over too much bread.

  • "Forever" -- This mash-up of (1) "Elementary"/"Sherlock" (British guy who is incredibly perceptive) with (2) "Castle" (female cop with fashion-model looks is paired with a non-cop male partner) and (3) "Sleepy Hollow" (British man out of time tries to navigate modern society) seems likely to be cancelled. Which is a shame only because Ioan Gruffudd's charisma carries the show so well.

  • "Madam Secretary" -- I'm liking Téa Leoni in this role, better than Geena Davis or Sigourney Weaver (in previous iterations of floating the trial balloon). It's actually not just a trial-balloon show; I'm pretty sure it's also lifestyle porn for women who wish they could have a powerful career and a spouse with Jim Caviezel-type looks who is completely supportive and unthreatened by it (but manly, hence we have him doing a joint lock on a belligerent drunk in one episode and storming into a church full of righteous outrage in another). Plus beautiful house and kids, of course.

Also, we saw "John Wick" recently, and it was great fun. I felt like that movie should send notes to "Taken" on how a revenge flick should be done. Fun action scenes, great sets, non-crazy cinematography. My only nitpick would be that as I am now old and have never had great vision, I would prefer bright lighting. But I get that dark is probably de rigeur when you have a character known as Baba Yaga.
jinasphinx: (Sphinx)
It was pretty bad. I say this as someone who loves action/adventure movies. But it was so much a dad's revenge fantasy that I couldn't get into it.

Cut for me rehashing the play-by-play... )
jinasphinx: (Sphinx)
Perhaps this link from The Daily Show is relevant:

2nd Amendment Manners Do's and Don'ts, featuring a white man and a black man in hoodies

Also brilliant on the subject of inequality:

Campus Safety Do's and Don'ts (jump to 2:12 in the video)
jinasphinx: (Sphinx)
I saw "Guardians of the Galaxy" at a matinee. I loved individual scenes in it, especially the irreverent bits highlighted in the trailer. But it didn't work for me as a whole: the tone felt all over the place. I think I know why: I saw a different movie than the friends raving about how much fun it was. Pregnancy turned me into the person who tears up at Subaru commercials and Verizon commercials. And I seem to have stuck that way. Anyway, the movie I watched started with a little boy, not much older than my son is now, experiencing a tragedy. And the rest of the movie is filled with visual and auditory reminders of that tragedy. So we'd have fun stuff happening like you see in the trailer, and I'd be having emotional whiplash because I was still searching for a tissue. It's possible that this will be solved by repeat viewings, because I'm sure we'll be getting it on Blu-ray. But maybe not: the damn commercials still make me tear up every time.

Should you go see it? I'd say yes. Nine out of ten people love it and had a lot of fun. Also, I have "Hooked on a Feeling" stuck in my head now. (Reviews that say the soundtrack is a character are not kidding.)
jinasphinx: (Sphinx)
(the Luc Besson film starring Scarlett Johansson) but my friend [livejournal.com profile] amnesiack described it so perfectly over on Google+:

Watching Lucy is like playing a one shot rules light RPG in the three hour slot at a convention. At first you're really taking your time, establishing scenes, characters, and details and making sure that the established fiction is really respected and built on deliberately. Then you realize you've only got thirty minutes left in the slot, and suddenly you're just rushing to get to the end, ignoring details, and not worrying too much about how things mesh together. Then you've only got five minutes left to play out the climax, and +Gray Pawn is over here describing a giant gun battle while +Jackson Tegu is describing a montage of scenes from history back to the dawn of time, and you're just trying to figure out what happens with the organic supercomputer you established in the previous scene. Then it's all over, and it doesn't really make sense, but the first half was so cool, and now you're really more concerned about where to get food before the next slot starts anyway.

And that really just sums it up.


Jul. 14th, 2014 10:35 pm
jinasphinx: (Sphinx)
I got to test-ride an Electra Townie 3i last week. I stopped by my local bike store to see if they had a blue kid's bike for N. and found that they have a bunch of cruisers and comfort bikes, including some Electras. I thought the Townie 3i was fun but weird: it was easy to oversteer the wide handlebars (which may be operator error -- it's been about a decade since I've been on an upright bicycle), and the one-size-fits-all frame felt too big for me, which was confirmed by my inability to get my feet flat on the ground even with the seat dropped to the lowest possible setting. I was excited about the internal hub because like [livejournal.com profile] walkitout I have had my share of "oh crap, had to stop suddenly in an upper gear and now I can't get going again" moments. But the Townie 3i also has coaster brakes, which means that you can't move the pedals backward in order to put them in the right position to get going again. :(

I was hoping to compare the Electra with a Breezer Uptown, but it's out of stock with the local dealers (Performance Bike). It looks like I may have to get myself over to the Dutch Bike Co. or Aaron's to find something to compare with.
jinasphinx: (Sphinx)
I took the kids to the park a couple weekends ago.  K. spent a lot of time lying down; when I asked her if she was okay, she said, "I'm being Emily, and this is where she died." (She watched Corpse Bride recently.)

K., showing me a little yellow flower the other day: "I'm going to let it close and be dead. Because I like my little zombie flower!"
jinasphinx: (Sphinx)
I see we now have the LiveJournal large print edition.

As a myopic person, I approve.
jinasphinx: (therapy)
I was rewatching "Frozen" again last night, like you do when you have small kids, and I started thinking about Kristoff. On the one hand, it's a bit of a bummer that Anna needs the help of a guy, unlike Merida, who doesn't even think about asking her three suitors for help -- she ends up being helped by her little brothers, but only towards the end of the movie.

On the positive side, Kristoff is a lot more three-dimensional than most heroes in Disney animated movies, and he differs in other ways as well. He's basically the anti-Prince Charming. Not only is he not a prince, his status in society is pretty low. Of the non-princes in Disney animation, John Smith is an explorer from a rich and powerful country, and Mulan's guy, Li Shang, is an army captain and a general's son. Aladdin becomes a prince via the genie. (Although Kristoff is a step up in society from Flynn Rider, the wanted criminal.) And he's prickly, not charming: he gets thrown out of a shop and follows it up by having an argument with Anna while they're being chased by wolves.

He might be the only Disney hero with a great sense of humor: "But people smell better than reindeers / Sven, don't you think I'm right? / That's once again true, for all except you." And although all the Disney heroes are brave, Kristoff also worries about everyone else first. Even at the end when he's frantically riding to save Anna ("like a valiant, pungent reindeer king!" as Olaf says) and he and Sven the reindeer take a spill on the breaking ice, he has to make sure Sven's okay before he takes off running.

And there's the "unmanly blondness": except for John Smith in "Pocahontas," I think Kristoff's the only blond "prince." (Here's a picture of the Disney prince lineup that's recent enough to include Flynn Rider.)
jinasphinx: (Sphinx)
I saw Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier this weekend, and was going to write a review, but Harry Connolly pretty much covered it all, especially the comment that "the power fantasy aspects undercut the spy thriller parts". I found the action sequences to be so in-your-face and over-the-top that they overshadowed the quiet little moments. Normally I'm a big action-adventure fan and am all for more fight scenes and car chases, but in this movie, I really preferred the character moments and ended up rolling my eyes at a lot of the action. Although I was happy to see more of Black Widow fighting. She fights in a way that totally makes sense for her: use deception and ambush, hit hard, and then run away. And I found out the name of her signature move: flying headscissors takedown.

I don't mean to sound all negative about the movie. Those character moments were worth it to me; I would rewatch the movie for them, and I'm not a big rewatcher. Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson were both great. I've heard that Evans wants to quit acting and get into directing; I can totally understand that but think it's a real shame for us viewers.

Looking forward to seeing what the plot developments in the movie mean for the "Agents of Shield" TV show. Maybe they'll give it a shot of caffeine. And speaking of shots, I need to start an AoS drinking game where you take a drink every time someone says how special Skye is to them.
jinasphinx: (Sphinx)
Having posted before about how awesome "Elementary" is and how the writers have excelled at writing strong female characters, I feel like I should really say something about series 3 of "Sherlock". Because this is where the writers, Moffat and Gatiss, learn how to do it too. The first episode of series 3 was weak for all the reasons [livejournal.com profile] glvalentine described in her writeup for the A.V. Club. The one thing I did like about "The Empty Hearse" (ep 1) is that when Mary Morstan, John Watson's fiancee, meets Sherlock, she does not have the reaction of Mary in the Downey Jr. movies. She *likes* him. And she sees Sherlock as being good for Watson, aside from the pretending to be dead part. I am so tired of the wife-as-wet-blanket dynamic.

So anyway, episode 1, not so great. But then in episode 2, "The Sign of Three," we get some great payoff. The Man and I were flinching through most of it and actually started covering our eyes during a particularly embarrassing moment, but by the end, Sherlock finally makes up for the crap he put Watson through. And we get a great throw-away line from Mary: "Sherlock, I'm not John. I can tell when you're lying." And she continues to support Sherlock and Watson's relationship.

I want to avoid saying much about episode 3, "His Last Vow," so I don't spoil it for those who haven't seen it. But wow, is Mary a powerful character. I like to imagine that the British writer, Moffat and Gatiss, have been hearing about the other Sherlock series, and thinking about how they can one-up the Yanks. "His Last Vow" was my favorite episode of the BBC show so far. Well done, Moffat and Gatiss.
jinasphinx: (Sphinx)
Last night I put K. to bed. I saw that she had two sippy cups in her bed so I took the old one out with me, leaving her with her favorite (pink) one with fresh water and ice in it. About half a minute later I hear her wailing hysterically. I go back in and ask what is going on. She sobs, "You took away the green sippy cup, and that one had all my niceness in it!" I bring it back and give it to her and she says, "Oh, thank you! Now I have my niceness back!" And goes to sleep happily.

Wednesday night, I was giving the kids a bath. N. got upset about shampoo getting in his eye but then wouldn't let me wash it out. Then K. got upset about the possibility that shampoo might get in her eye. While she was crying and wiggling around over this, she apparently trespassed on N.'s side of the tub, so he tried to tell her to get off his side. But she couldn't hear him through her tears, so he started screaming because she wasn't listening to him. This all happened in less than 5 minutes. We pulled them out of the tub and sent them straight to bed; didn't seem to be anything else to do.
jinasphinx: (Sphinx)
...a scene with a short, stocky, hirsute person who has fallen in love with someone of a different race who is tall, slender, pale, and non-hairy, and when his fellow short and stocky friends ask him, "What do you see in her?" he answers "I know she is SO UGLY, but she's such a nice person that it overcomes her obvious physical failings."
jinasphinx: (Sphinx)
I agree with this person who I don't know: I'm particularly enjoying the show with the two leads who are a tall, thin British guy and a short, somewhat sardonic woman of color. "Sleepy Hollow" is fun, especially the man-out-of-time bits ("A 10% levy on baked goods? How are people not rioting in the streets?" not to mention the entire conversation with the Onstar lady). And my regard for "Elementary" continues to go up -- no sophomore slump for that show. Continuing in the vein of strong female characters, I'm liking "Person of Interest" this season. The two newest female characters are both crazy, but the show opened with the main character living on the streets and Finch is only well-adjusted for someone who's spent his entire life hiding from the government.

Looking forward to "Almost Human" starting, since I liked Michael Ealy so much on the short-lived "Common Law" series. The writing seems like it's going to be funny, and Karl Urban continues to be a chameleon.
jinasphinx: (Sphinx)
A friend suggested I write a technical book, and that seems like a fun project now that my big SharePoint wiki project is done. So, fellow geeks, is there anything where you've thought to yourself recently "I really wish there were a book on _____"?
jinasphinx: (Sphinx)
My two-year-old daughter informed me the other day that she wants to marry a prince just like Cinderella, and to grow long magical hair like Rapunzel.
jinasphinx: (Sphinx)
It appears that some folks agree with me about Elementary being now the superior show:

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