Monday, September 13, 2010

Resident Evil: Afterlife - Have Icee, Will Suspend all Disbelief

I've recently fallen in love once again with an old friend: the Icee.

It's a decadently sweet frozen treat, with just a hint of bubbles that spread the cherry-flavored sugar over your tongue in brain-freeze inducing bliss, and there's not an ounce of redeemable value in it, but isn't it just delicious?

It was the perfect beverage to accompany me when I went to go see Resident Evil: Afterlife in 3-D. I've been a longtime fan of both the movies and the video game series of the same name, and I've been waiting for the fourth installment with a giddy excitement that only comes with being a bit of a groupie.

Part of the reason is my weakness for all things zombie. The other part is the fact that for four movies, a female action hero has carried a movie with the same amount of badassness that a man would, and aside from an occasional Angelina Jolie vehicle, those types of characters seem to be regulated instead to character-driven dramas on cable.

Now, let me just get this out of the way: Resident Evil: Afterlife is a silly, silly movie. It's not nearly the horror-laden gore-fest that the first Resident Evil movie was, it's not the 'band of survivors zombie flick' that the second movie became, and it's not calculated and smart like the third movie.

And I'm not going to even try to mention the Resident Evil games, which are magnificent and genuinely terrifying (at least some of the better incarnations, like Resident Evil: 4). The simple fact is, the film franchise's heroine Alice is not in ANY of the videogames.

Resident Evil: Afterlife really just becomes a zombie-inspired Charlie's Angels flick, with action scene followed by action scenes, completely implausible situations, the ability to walk away from helicopters crashing into mountains and and find perfect make up when there's not a Wal-Mart to be found.

No matter what the circumstances, from being the last standing survivor in a apocalyptic world, to being drenched in sewage and blood, the leading ladies of Resident Evil: Afterlife will never look anything but slightly unruffled. Even Ali Larter's 'Claire', who begins the movie covered in dust and acting like a wild woman in arid Alaska, soon cleans herself off and has found mascara, blush, eye shadow and the perfect shade of lipstick, ready to stand beside Milla Jovovich and compete for the 'best pose while dripping wet in slow motion' award.

The script itself? Hokey and full of plot-holes the size of Antartica, following a formulaic-brand of shock-and-awe that leaves very little surprises. Two lead actors and a bit player jump into the water to swim to an armory. Guess which won't come back? Two lead characters and a bit player stand at the edge of a hole. Guess who is going to be sliced in half by the boss character who just showed up for no reason?

It kind of goes like that for the entire movie. Time for a fight scene! Time for Alice to look bad ass! Wait, has someone been mauled by a zombie in the last five minutes? Fixed it! Wait, we need some slow motion fight scenes with a completely implausible exit! Done! Let's have a guy keep a plane from sliding off a building with only his brute strength! He can do it! Yes he can!

But that's the point, isn't it? Resident Evil: Afterlife was shot in 3-D, with that same technology that brought us Avatar, and the result? A great looking movie. Everything about it is visually stunning. The women are stunning, the action is stunning, the cinematography is gorgeous, and it goes down as sweet and as sugary as an Icee.

The point is, if you're looking for a zombie movie? Rent Zombieland or Shaun of the Dead. Go see Resident Evil if you want to see hot chicks kicking ass, looking fantastic while they're doing it. Go see Resident Evil if you want to see awesome fight scenes, and get your adrenaline pumped. Resident Evil: Afterlife is worth watching if you can suspend your disbelief, go with the flow, and tell yourself that it's all just pretty movie-making.

And splurge a little and buy yourself an Icee to go with it. Trust me, it helps.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Costa Rica in the Rainy Season

Do you know what happens when you go to Costa Rica in the Rainy Season, and you travel with the same group of white people and you're the only Latina who looks golden brown and also speaks passable Spanish?

You're mistaken for the tour guide. A lot.

Not that I wouldn't be an awesome tour guide. I'm quippy and not afraid to get dirty and I don't mind riding in the front of the bus or translating a lot.And I'd probably get paid better. And I'd be getting commission anyway because, I'll be telling anyone anyways that Costa Rica? Is awesome. I live and die by the guide book. And before the trip I put together a binder with our flight itineraries and our agendas and helpful information about each area. Yes, I'm a nerd. But don't you wish you had someone like me on your trip? Our trip was booked through, and they were awesome. Picked us up right at the airport, handed us a detailed itinerary and made sure we were taken care of every leg of the journey. We had shuttles everywhere, which was a good thing because people drive like maniacs in San Jose.

Ethnocentric, you say? We were at a stop light and saw a car rear end a taxi right next to us. Yeah.

No one batted an eye.

Adventure 1: San Jose and Whitewater Rafting

Our trip began on the outskirts of San Jose, where we were to spend the night before being picked up to head to our white water rafting adventure. Being of the determined sort, I decided we needed to see the country's capital before we left, so we hopped in a taxi and headed in to San Jose. Right before this happened, I decided to douse myself in bug repellent. Did you know I'm allergic to bug repellent? Particularly, this stuff called 'Deet' in the bug repellent? Yeah I didn't either.

I found out soon enough when my skin began burning in the taxi and I was scratching myself quite improperly around my boobs and my back and my arms. What began as itchy morphed into feeling like I was being flayed alive. Did we come prepared with anti-allergic stuff? Of course!

Did we leave it at the hotel room? Of course we did!

Our trip to the gold museum was detoured to a trip to a Costa Rican pharmacy. No, we didn't take pictures. Still, the Gold Museum was interesting enough. When we headed out, we were greeted by a heavy torrent of rain. Because, you know, it's the rainy season.
Fear not! You think, we knew this, so of course we packed ponchos and the hotel hands out umbrellas, right?Of course! Except we left the ponchos in the hotel room with the allergy medicine and we neglected to bring an umbrella. Five blocks later, we managed to buy an umbrella from an entrepreneurial guy who sold it to us for 4 bucks, and landed drenched to 'Nuestra Tierra', a Costa Rican tourist trap that was recommended to us by the taxi driver.

We paid 60 bucks for mediocre chicken, steak and beans and rice.

The next morning, we were loaded in a bus and driven out of San Jose to an outdoor adventures company that does white water rafting. We were told all about the Paquares river, with class III and IV rapids and amazing waterfalls and canyons! It was going to be amazing!

Then we were told, yeah, we're not doing that one. It's too high and we're doing the Carmen instead, the baby river with class II and III rapids and a lot of mud.The majority of our time was spent laughing with the guides and splashing other boats. Not quite the adrenaline rush I was looking for.

Oh well.

From there it was a two and a half hour bus ride to La Fortuna.

Adventure 2: Arenal Volcano and the Tabacon Hot Springs

Rural Costa Rica is absolutely breathtaking; a tangle of jungle and cows and rivers, with an occasional town dotted in between. We were staying in tiny La Fortuna, mostly a tourist town thanks to the Arenal Volcano that looms over it.

Here, after a nature hike where we saw leafcutter ants in action, we headed to the Tabacan hot springs, where water heated by the volcano is gathered in 18 different pools that you can wander around and steam in before heading to the cooler pool to cool off.

It was decadent, and I wanted more time there.

Also, there was a water slide.

The next day, there was a shuttle to the manmade lake of Arenal, and a boat ride across it, where I was mistaken for the tour guide. Then a van picked us up on the other side of the lake and a two hour drive up a gravel, rickety road to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve, where we are up so high we're literally blanketed by condensation.

Adventure 3: Monteverde and the lack of hot water
At first, we were in love with our little cabin. Then we discovered that we had either scalding hot water or frigid cold water for a shower, and no in between.

We were less in love.
But we did get picked up for our SkyTrek and Canopy adventure, where we got strapped into rigs, put into the little cars that ride on long lines (like at Disneyland) and taken into the jungle, where we then zipped across wilderness and canyons, high above the landscape, being tossed and battered by the wind and the rain.

On the shuttle ride back, we were dropped off at the Frog Pond, where we got a guided tour of all the native frogs of Costa Rica. Think it's silly? It was awesome.

Less awesome? Trying to take a shower after all that.

Adventure 4: Tamarindo surfing and puffer fishies
Our shuttle drive to the beach involved a two hour drive down that gravel road, which seemed bumpier and gravelier than ever. But four hours later, we had arrived in Tamarindo, at our beach resort.

We had three days here, and so there was time for lots of adventures and misadventures. This involved surfing (and a bruised knee), atv driving (through rivers! My socks turned brown), horseback riding in the rain (our camera broke), and snorkeling on a sunset cruise (remember the rainy season? There was no sunset).

And guess what? Our hot water fled us again.

Adventure 5: Trying to find the Coffee Farm

After the third day, we got picked up bright an early by a shuttle driver who promised to take us back to San Jose, to a coffee farm. The problem? He didn't quite know where it was.

There was a lot of driving on gravel roads (a habit in Costa Rica), before we landed as the place that farms coffee for 'Tres Generaciones' coffee.

We learned about coffee. It was interesting. Seriously.

Then we got to buy some coffee, went into a butteryfly garden, and were taken to our four star business hotel for the night.
We had hot water. I almost cried.

I got home on Sunday exhausted. Flopping on my bed, too tired to sleep, I turned on my television and took a look at my tivo to see what I had missed.

Saved on the DVR? The Southpark Episode that dealt with the kids joining 'Getting Gay with Kids' and getting lost in the Costa Rican rain forest.

I laughed my ass off.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Health Food Fail

I'm going on vacation to Costa Rica in about two weeks. This is meant to be awesome, and I know I'm going to have an awesome time, because my itinerary demands it. It goes like this: river rafting, AWESOME, volcano gazing, AWESOME, sky canopy, AWESOME, sea kayaking, AWESOME.

See? There's a whole lot of awesome.
Except the way I look in a swim suit? Not awesome. Which isn't to say I look BAD in a swimsuit, but ... yeah. Anyway, after a year or so of working out semi-regularly (which usually begins with me waking up at 5AM going 'YEAH WORKING OUT' and ending the week staring blearingly at the alarm clock saying 'oh who am I kidding' and rolling over again) I'm finally to the point where I get the 'OMG Eliza Dushku Lookalike' observations. Which I have to admit, I'm vain enough to really, really enjoy. Because, it's Eliza Dushku. Who would have a problem being told they look like her? I mean, seriously? Do I look like her? Hell no. But still. Nice.
So yeah, I still want my toned biceps and I still want to wear a two piece and not cringe, so I'm trying hard to eat right and I'm failing miserably.

You see, I do okay when I'm at the store. I pretend to be all knowledgeable and I do a lot of looking at the nutritional food labels going 'hmm' and widening my eyes in horror at the sugar content and then I do the right thing and pick the sugar free candy ...

And then I get to the breakfast cereal aisle. I go for the 'Honey Bunches of Oats with Pecans', and I'm doing well, and then I turn around and I see it: Captain Crunch 'Oops! All Berries'.

My self control crumbles into rubble.
But bright side? I'm eating Captain Crunch's 'Oops! All Berries' cereal and I do not regret it at all.


I had salmon for dinner. Does that make up for it?

Friday, May 21, 2010

Glee Tour 2010

Um... it was awesome. Like, really, really awesome.


Okay, quick points:

1. The opening act was Harry Shum's team 'The League of Extraordinary Dancers' and they were... well... extraordinary. I didn't expect Harry to get a solo but he did, where he gets 'magic shoes' and they basically make him go crazy, dancing to whatever music comes on. He was amazing. As were the other dancers. Really captivating stuff.

2. Lea Michelle was clearly losing her voice, probably from the strain of the tour. She went flat a couple times, but that didn't stop her from belting out 'Don't Rain On My Parade' and doing a really touching 'Defying Gravity' with Chris Colfer.

3. Heather Morris stole the show. When she wasn't in the group numbers, she was doing double duty with Harry Shum as the featured back up dancer, and she was absolutely MESMERIZING during Bust Your Windows. And they trotted her out twice between set changes to put on a 'brittany' act for the audience, which were absolutely hilarious. Especially one where she announces to the audience that she's made out with all the stage hands and is in love with Kurt because he gave her a facial. - Bust Your Windows - featuring Heather Morris being FIERCE.

4. Naya Rivera has PIPES.
She's also absolutely gorgeous, but I was REALLY impressed with her voice. When they don't autotune the shit out of her, she's just amazing to watch. - The Boy Is Mine

And then of course... there's Bad Romance:

5. They kept Kevin in the wheelchair. At first I thought that was weird, but then I noticed SO many people in wheelchairs there and I realized why. He's an inspiration to them.

6. Everyone but Dianna seemed to get some sort of solo (either dance for the 'dancers' or otherwise), which was a little disappointing, but she's effing adorable in Bad Romance.

7. It was a really impressive show. No intermission (except for the break between the LXD and the Glee group), and just non-stop fun. Vocal Adrenaline was just plain fun to watch.

8. Cheerios came out into the audience per Sue Sylvester's instructions to pass out Barf Bags. It was hilarious.

The Media Stuff

High quality pictures at

My flickr Album: here

Youtube videos (not mine): here | here

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Red Dead Redemption

This is just evil, Rockstar.

I mean, it's not enough that you had to go and release the completely awesome Red Dead: Redemption, with it's open world play and strong narratives and nearly limitless possibilities, but you had to go and make online multi-player FANTASTIC? And you do this so all my friends by it on PS3 and I'm left alone with my XBOX 360 and no friends?

How rude!

Monday, May 17, 2010

In Which Real Life Came About & Swallowed Me Whole...

This past month I've celebrated my one-year anniversary, (the steakhouse we went to gave you a free box made of cotton candy. COTTON CANDY. WIN.), grilled a ton of meat for my family's annual Mother's Day grill-a-thon (meat is expensive, yo. And tasty.), had a mini-scare that involved my Dad being put in the hospital (he's fine now, thank God), and yet the thing that may have been the most taxing was babysitting a baby.

We were tag-teaming it, and as we sat in front of the parents, little toddler Lucia was eyeing us up and down with a look of quiet disdain. "Don't worry," said the Mommy. "She's not like those other kids who make a fuss about sleeping. You just give her her bottle and she'll ask to be put to bed."


The lying parents lied with the LIES.

Not only did the kid refuse to be put to sleep, she insisted on being carried (apparently I exude some sort of maternal instinct, because she LATCHED on to me), and anytime a bottle came near her she sobbed like we were torturing her and pushed it away.

Finally we reverted into some sort of Mom & Pop cliche with Laura insisting I just put the kid in the cradle and let her cry herself to sleep, and me being a complete marshmallow and begging to give her five more minutes to come to terms with the idea. Finally, sheer exhaustion won out when the baby's eyes were closing even as she was refusing to come near the crib, and she cried about a minute before zonking out.

Kids, man. They don't scare me because I helped raise my gajillion cousins and foster cousins and I know kids, but I'm still constantly surprised when people ask me why I'm in no hurry to have kids of my own when I'm so obviously great with them.

Me: ... have you MET a kid? Have you taken care of one for more than an hour? Do that. Then ask me again.

This is not to say anything against the amazing people who actually HAVE kids, because honestly, I think parenthood is one of the most underrated and rewarding occupations one can have.


But I can't even take care of my fishtank.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Watching Forensic Files can be such a downer (AKA leave no chick behind)

I'm obsessed with TrueCrime shows, and one of the very best is Forensic Files. I'm both fascinated by the genius of forensics investigators and repulsed by the sheer ambivalence of some of these criminals who will kill for the most random motivations.

There was the guy who had raped his 3 month old daughter, and was sentenced to jail, but because he did not want to go to jail as a child molester, snuck into a random house, waiting for the family to return home, and killed the woman as she entered, because he wanted to go to jail as a murderer instead.

There was the one of the cheating husband who did not want to deal with divorcing his wife, so instead he tried to poison her with cyanide at home, and when that didn't work, he snuck into her office and poisoned the entire water cooler. A random office worker was the first to drink from the water cooler, and died from the poisoning.

All of them are senseless murders, deaths, but the one that really left me cold was an episode that aired last night, which featured the murder of a divorced Navajo mother of five, who was going back to school to become a nurse. She went out with her friends for a night of drinking, and when her two lady friends met two gentlemen, they ditched her to go with them, ignoring the entire time that she had absolutely no means of getting back home. Distraught and alone, the woman was last seen at a payphone, crying, before her body was discovered in the desert.

That's right. This poor woman, who has 5 kids, and is putting herself through school to make her life better for her kids, goes out for a night of fun with her girlfriends, and they outright DITCH her, even as she's begging and pleading with them not to leave her because she has no ride home, in the middle of the night.

She's then so desperate for a ride home, she accepts a ride from a stranger, who takes her to the desert, tries to rape her, and then stabs and bludgeoned her to death.

All because her stupid girlfriends couldn't take an extra five minutes to figure out how to get her a ride home.


This pissed me off SO much. Because seriously, ladies: Chicks Before Dicks. You do NOT leave a friend stranded just to get laid. And they BOTH did it. And now she's dead, and her children are orphaned, and she died in one of most horrific ways imaginable. It's just... augh.

It's just so senseless and incomprehensible and I really want to track those women down and smack the crap out of them.

The investigators found the murderers, by the way. Through some damn fine police work and a complete stroke of luck.

But those women make want to pull my hair out. Chicks Before Dicks, ladies. It's like... sorority code. Follow it! A single mother of five's life might be saved because of it.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Glee Says 'Hell-O'

So after nearly four months in hiatus, Glee returns with the second half of the first season. What was a little show that could by Ryan Murphy has turned into (I know, you've already heard it) a phenomenon, complete with White House appearances and a tour.

Yes, I know, Glee is in danger of over-saturation before it even premieres the second half of it's first season, but I'm still excited about it, even with its imperfect, rushed storylines and undeniable charm.

That's right, I don't think Glee is perfect. But I adore it anyway. Most of this probably has a lot to do with the fantastically arranged song and dance numbers, and Lea Michelle, who plays the diva-tastic Rachel Berry with so much heart and soul she makes you bleed.

If you feel like taking a look at the insanity of Glee, this fan-made video to Fall Out Boy's, "This Ain't a Scene..." illustrates it perfectly:

Want more?

Watch a preview of one of the back 9's musical numbers at Broadway World. And if you are a little behind, you can catch some snarky video recaps of the first thirteen seasons here.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Unintentional Clumsy Moment #1543

I live with two roommates, and one of them has two dogs. One of those dogs is an adorable but odd terrier who is mesmerized by light and never seems to get tired. The other is a sweet-as-can be old Labrador who begins to wag her tail violently every time you even look in her direction.

Thalia is staying with my Mom right now, and Shema, the labrador, seems to have noticed, because she has decided that whenever I am home, she must follow me EVERYWHERE, hoping for a treat, a round of ball, or just to sit with me.

I'm usually okay with it, except when it comes to bedtime, because then Shema decides it's time to get sneaky, and tries to edge her way onto my bed. First there's a paw. Then, a quiet, sneaky head, then another paw, and if I still have not noticed, suddenly I get a huge big dog stretching out.

Thalia is 6 pounds. This dog is not. My bed is not that big.

Off the bed she goes.

Last night, I was exhausted, because I had gone running after work, and taken Shema with me. As such, she had decided to adore me and tail me the entire night, and spend most of the evening chilling on the floor in my room.

When I wanted to go to bed, I hopped off the bed and told Shema is was time for bed, so she needed to go.

All she heard was 'time for bed', and so she hopped up on my bed and stretched out.

I gaped for a bit, sighed, and decided I was too tired to fight it. I crawled into my bed, yanked at my covers (much harder now that there was a HUGE DOG ON MY BED), and closed my eyes, deciding Jackie would come looking for her pooch eventually.

Twenty minutes later, I suffered from a MAJOR leg spasm. This happens usually right before I go to sleep, where my limbs just jerk out uncontrollably, flailing about every which way.

Unfortunately for the pooch, my body jerked and my leg collided directly with it. I heard a bark, my back muscles twitched, and suddenly Shema was scrambling off the bed and running out of the room.

I felt horrible. I kicked the dog! I considered running after it, apologizing profusely, but considering my back was throbbing, and I was half asleep, I just collapsed back onto my bed.

This morning, at 6:30AM, Shema had apparently forgiven all. She was scratching at my door, and greeted me with a sniff, a tail wag, and a doggie smile.

She got an extra biscuit, and in my shame, I allowed her to sneak her way onto the bed for the morning.

I'm such a sucker.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Love Is Pain - Reviewing The Runaways

An when I speak to you
You answer true
Or I will make you black and blue
I love to make you wait
You take the bait
I know you hate and love me too
- Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, Love Is Pain

The Runaways is a gamble in more ways than one. The biopic, which tells the story of the rise and fall of the all-girl rock band that featured legendary female rocker Joan Jett, is in some ways, just like the 'experiment' that producer Kim Fowley utters the band itself to be. It features a mostly-female cast, a Hollywood standard that is usually reserved for the more formulaic 'chick flicks'. It features Dakota Fanning, who hopes to convince the audience with her performance that she is no longer the genius child actress and is believable as a naive teen who loses her soul to rock and roll. It features Twilight star Kristen Stewart, who tangles with critics and fans alike to be the anti-Bella in the slouchy, sexualized icon Joan Jett. In a lot of ways, the movie itself is much like the Runaways, who in their time were fighting to be respected and heard in a male-dominated rock scene.

Whether or not they succeed depends largely on the audience, but, like the band, I think they have a fighting chance.

The movie itself is told largely from the perspective of Cherry Curie (played perfectly by Dakota Fanning), which makes sense, since the script is based on an autobiography written by the former front girl. On the verge of womanhood, Cherry comes from a fractured home and is searching for a sense of self. She finds her inspiration in the gender-queer rock-god David Bowie (in his Ziggy Stardust glory), and when her Bridgett Bardot look lands her an audition with Joan Jett's female formed band, she finds herself thrust in the world of rock n roll with no real anchor to guide her. By her side, is Joan Jett (played with Kristen Stewart, who slouches and broods her way through with rocker authenticity), a self proclaimed 'Wild One', and distinctly different in the fact that she knows exactly who she is, what she wants, and who she is destined to become.

Shaping them both is brilliant producer Kim Fowley (strong and unforgettable Michael Shannon), who manipulates and brow beats the girls into international sensations.

The three characters weave together in a tapestry accented with distorted guitar riffs, scratchy voices, and the distinctly flavored bitterness of rock-n-roll. Though the feel itself verges too often into artsy, the movie is saved by the performances. Dakota Fanning is, as always, subtly brilliant and completely committed as the lost girl who embraces her rock identity only to lose herself in the process. Kristen Stewart's Joan Jett is a quietly bleeding protagonist, who opens herself into her music and only displays her vulnerability in her unflinching devotion to Cherry.

The relationship between the two is what propels the story forward, and it only makes sense that the last act falls slightly askew thanks to the relationship itself falling apart. When Cherry leaves the band, we're left to watch two characters floundering in the wind, and a tagged on epilogue that seems to come too fast, too soon.

Still, The Runaways is a gamble that is worth taking. It's intriguing, it's tragic, and it's blatant and not at all subtle about taking a male-dominated scene and trying to instill some tough-girl flavor in it.

After all, why should we let the guys have all the fun?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Back in the Softball Game

This weekend was interesting, to say the least. It ranged from the quiet (an afternoon flipping between 'Along Came Polly' and 'Underworld: Evolution'), to quietly overwhelming (in a party limo with blaring music and 20 screaming partying women), to just downright evil (opening the new softball season with a double header at 8:30AM on a Sunday in the midst of Daylight Savings time).

The good news? I feel like I finally earned the power hitter spot I was given on my team's line up. Got on base 6 out of 7 times, and got a home run in the middle of that! While my fielding could use some help, and buddy Karin told me my slide was 'embarrassing' (I disagree, I thought my way of stumbling to my butt and then sliding to the plate was quiet ingenious), I still held my own with the bat. It's nice to get that bit of instinct back. I played when I was in junior high, and remember that surge of confidence that went through me each and everytime I stepped up to the plate, because I just KNEW I would hit the ball.

While I'm far from that now, I do feel, bit by bit, some of that sinking into place. The moment taken to just breath, the quiet second I take for myself in which my grip locks into place, and the silent conversation I have with the ball as I have it lob into the plate a split second before I decide to swing. That quiet experience, and the competitive friendly spirit of the game is what I've missed most since I gave it up for an academically oriented education, and I'm glad I'm back in it.

I've got a whole season ahead of me, but I think I started on a good note.

Tonight? An advance screening of 'The Runaways'. I have mixed feelings about it going in, but I'll be curious to see about the exposition of it.

Friday, March 12, 2010

So I wonder...

Is it selling out if I finally gave in and got a Twitter account just to follow the incredibly hilarious adventures of a fake Justin Hartley on twitter?

Yes? No?

He's funny!

Anyways, if you feel like following me, or want me to follow you, you can find me here:

But I'm warning you! I'm not interesting! I'm not quippy! I already have a facebook and I barely status update that! And even then it's only to annoy you by asking for help with whatever stupid flashgame I'm playing at the moment (currently Farmville and Mafia Wars)!

Seriously! You'll regret it! I'll ask you for a cow! or something!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The clouds were gathering...

Strike a pose!, originally uploaded by Mistiec_Flores.

but luck shone down on us when we managed to get through the Runyon trail seconds before the rain started to pour down on us. There is no downside - especially with that view!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Celebrate Oscar Weekend with an action movie Slugfest

You know? Sometimes the best way to appreciate the Oscars is to appreciate the movies that have absolutely no chance in hell of ever winning one, but are just out to get some laughs, some guns, some cheap thrills, and maybe some stuff blowing up on the side.

So appreciate the Oscar Winners, but if you find time, take a sec and check out these flicks that would never make the podium, but damn fun to watch instead:

1. Bitch Slap - trailer
what: Three bad girls travel to a remote desert hideaway to steal $200 million in diamonds from a ruthless underworld kingpin.
why: This homage to exploitation flicks takes the campiness action of XENA: Warrior Princess and adds some R-Rated sex appeal to it. The movie may run a little long, but crisp, gorgeous visuals, seasoned character actors and lots of good old fashion sex & violence guarantee you'll be entertained to the bloody, p
retty end.

2. Grindhouse: Planet Terror/Death Proof - trailer
what: Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino teamed up to make an ode to the drive in flick, gore included.
why: This was an interesting experiment that failed miserably, because we just don'
t have the attention span to sit through a four hour double header of a movie. Especially one that starts as slowly as 'Death Proof' does. Still, Death Proof picks up significantly when we team up with Kurt Russell and the second group of beauties (including stunt goddess Zoe Bell and a potty mouth Tracie Thoms and Rosario Dawson), and Planet Terror is gory, creepy fun - a zombie-esque flick with a girl with a machine gun for her leg. Seriously.

3. Tango & Cash - trailer
what:Two of L.A.'s top rival cops are going to have to work together... Even if it kills them.
I have a special place in my heart for this movie. Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell are just magic together in this quintessential late 80s flick that was all brawn and guns and quips. Oh, and Teri Hatcher and explosions. It's just... fun.

4. Big Trouble in Little China - trailer
what: An All-American trucker gets dragged into a centuries-old mystical battle in Chinatown.
why: I've just realized that three of these movies feature Kurt Russell. Is he the campy movie King? Quite possibly. And if you need a reason to watch Big Trouble in Little China, then I'm sad for you.

5. Desperado - trailer
what: A gunslinger is embroiled in a war with a local drug runner.
why: Robert Rodriguez takes the gun battle and makes it almost a musical with this tale of the mariachi with a load of guns in his guitar case who comes to a small town looking for revenge, and blows up stuff and kills a ton of people and sings and bleeds all over everything. It's quite poetic. And loud.

Monday, February 22, 2010

There's More to Vegas Than A Slot Machine...

I do love living in California (though, yes, it is the only place I've actually lived for more than a month or two and didn't involve pitching a tent and washing my clothes on a tarp. The Philippines. Ya know.), and one of the reasons for that, is that there are plenty of ways to take an awesome weekend vacation.

You can head up to wine country and hit the Dutch town Solvang on the way back. You can fly up to San Francisco and take in the sights of the Bay. You can head down to Mexico, skirting past dirty Tijuana and hitting up Puerto Nuevo, the little lobster town with a thousand restaurants. If you're up for some skiing, there's Mammoth and Big Bear.

Many of these little gems often get over looked in the movies thanks to a little place called Sin City. Yes, Vegas, baby. The place where reality is fictional, and if you don't remember it, it didn't happen in the first place.

I've got less of a love for Vegas than most, mostly because, having family there, the glamour has become a bit rusty, the shiny a little more dull. And though I love a good party, I've never been the type to head out and hit the clubs, stumbling back into my hotel room at 6AM. I'm more the type to complain about my heels at 9PM, start yawning at 10PM, and hobble to the taxi line at 11PM.

As for gambling? My only real sport is Poker, and I still don't have the confidence to sit at a table with the pros. So I stick to the slots, and everytime I see the little credits line go down and the little images sort across the screen, think, 'This is so lame. I hate this. I'm wasting money. I spent a dime to win a nickel. This is so dumb.'

Yeah. A vegas gambler I am not.

Luckily, Vegas does have some amazing things for the non-gambler, non-drinker.

For one, the food.

But we won't focus on that, because I've already gained enough weight this weekend. Instead, take a look at these attractions:

The Red Rock Canyons
Located about 20 minutes away from the strip, Red Rock National Park is just an amazing, gorgeous place to get away from the cigarette smoke and the flourescent lights. The water carved sand stone canyons look like paintings, and you can be a kid again by climbing and scampering all over the rocks, pretending you're a real life cliff-hanger! No? Just me then? Okay then.

It's a 13 mile drive, with stops along the route. Keep your eye out for wild donkeys, agave plants and sacred roasting sights left there by the Native Americans.

And give a good glare to anyone that dares to litter this gorgeous treasure of a park.

Vinnie Favorito at the Flamingo - website
The ultimate insult comic. You sit in the audience and take your lickings, because no matter what, Vinnie finds you, prepared to skewer you whole for the laughter of everyone else.

And you have to laugh. Because it's pretty damn funny.

An hour of non-stop funny, actually. Definiately worth going. But take your sense of humor with you, and be prepared for your pride to take a few dents. The upside is, pretty soon, he'll move on and make fun of the guy's big head next to you. And then you can laugh at him.

The Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay
Tucked away at the Mandalay Bay, is this gorgeously planned Aquarium with some pretty amazing water animals. They've got komodo dragons, pirahnas, tangs, rays, jelly fish, octupai, and pretty much every shark you can imagine, all put together in a floor plan that fells like you're traveling deeper into an abandoned jungle.

It's costly (18 bucks/person), but the aquarium is at least an hour's worth of entertainment and, let's face it, wouldn't you spend that much on a slot machine in twenty minutes?

And honorable mention goes to: Southwest Airlines
Now, I may have lost 60$ to the slots in Vegas this weekend, but luck was definitely on my side on the flight back. Okay, not really. I was scheduled to fly back to Los Angeles at 9:30PM, and when I got to the airport, I found to my dismay, that my flight was delayed to 11:30PM.

That meant waiting around in the airport for 6 hours, waiting for a one hour flight. Oh, hells-no.

Luckily, the nice lady at the counter of the flight leaving for LAX at 7:30PM, put me in on standby and then put me on the plane. I got a middle seat, and I had to check my carryon, but I was snug in my bed with my pooch by my side at 11:30PM, and NOT huddled in an airport cursing airports and airlines and the man who made them.

That's a win in my book.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Things to do this weekend...

"Twice a week after work, I put on a totally realistic bear costume and hang out in the park. It makes me feel mighty."

Now it's off for a weekend of Superbowl inspired fun, including movies with three of my favorite people, flag football in a wet park, and at least 20 sports-minded ladies crowded into one room to root for the Saints or the Cowboys.

Is it wrong that I'm more excited about the annual PUPPY BOWL on Animal Planet?

At least it's something to pass the time, in between the absolutely FABULOUS Rupaul's Drag Race, and succumbing to my need for foreign TV Shows, like British soap SKINS and the fast approaching season premiere of Spanish drama Los Hombres De Paco.

Seriously, if American TV is going to cancel gems like Better Off Ted, I need to go out of the country for quality drama.

Except for Chuck. Chuck! I still love you! You too, Modern Family!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

I gots mah sand... my snuggie... It's all good

I gots mah sand, originally uploaded by Mistiec_Flores.

Thalia at the dog beach in Long Beach, chilling in her Christmas Snuggie.

It's nice to have sunshine and warmth, isn't it?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Better Off Ted - the awesome show that no one watched

This week, the quirky and awkwardly brilliant work place comedy Better off Ted quietly aired what will probably be the last episode of the series, after being burned off two episodes a week after a stale and wobbly retooled version of 'Scrubs'.

The episode itself, entitled 'Mess of a Salesmen', displayed the usual dynamics of the employees of Veridian Dynamics. Ted, our empathic corporate middle man, tried to give his slacker brother a job, but only suceeded in causing more workplace shenegigans, when his rebellious inspired Ted's socially awkward scientists to act out by ordering extravagantly - including a corpse-of-the-month-club. Meanwhile, boss Veronica and cubicle drone Linda raised money for young women, but upon discovery that their company kept 95% of the money, headbutted the president of the foundation. Literally.

It made perfect sense. And it was hilarious.

With a regular 2.1 over all rating, and none of the attention and hooplah that have been given to ABC's Wednesday night comedies (Modern Family, CougarTown, The Middle), Better Off Ted and its fantastic cast will probably go the way of other critical darlings like Arrested Development. Appreciated by few, watched by even less.

Frankly, the show deserved better.

Yes, I'm bitter. Maybe the show's quirky comedy wasn't funny, but I found BoT brilliant, insensitive, hilarious, and genuinely FUNNY, unafraid to take on work place issues like gender, race, sexual harassment and mock them and our instinctive reaction to them in a delicious way. It took workplace comedies and spun them on it's head. The cast shone, and Portia Di Rossi's ever evolving Evil-Boss-With-A-Heart Veronica Palmer was played with such deadpan perfection it's emmy worthy.

The rest of the cast is just as capable, and even Linda, who existed in the first season merely as Ted's love interest and therefore remained the unfunniest member of the cast, has found her footing as the loony soul and concious of both Ted and Veronica. Mad Scientists Lem and Phil are both charming and hilarous in their bromance and geekery, and really, it's just too soon to lose them.

Why, ABC, why? Why not give Better Off Ted an actual chance, instead burning off episodes behind an ailing Scrubs?

How else am I going to find gems of quotes like this?

Phil: We can't leave work in the middle of the day. We're not Somali pirates.

Veronica: The forest will run red with the blood of woodland creatures who doubted little Veronica and will now pay with their furry little lives.

Lem: Maybe we should take a stand. Maybe we should say this is the one thing that must not be used for evil.
Phil: Or maybe we say that the next thing we make must not be used for evil, but this one with we're fine with. And maybe the next one after that. But someday, they will push us too far, and the next time after that..
Lem: No, the time is now. 12:35. Maybe we should discuss this for another 20 minutes and then commit to something.

Ted: What are you afraid of? If you... if you throw a game, it's gonna keep you out of the time-wasters hall of fame?
Linda: No. My position there is secure from getting my art history degree.

Veronica: Oh, God, we have unhappy Germans. Nothing good has ever come from that.

For a taste of what you've been missing if you haven't been watching this show, check out last week's episode here:

Monday, January 4, 2010

Snow: The Better For Crashing Into

"You're budding into such a wordly adult!" a friend enthusiastically exclaimed to me, on a tail end on my New Years trip to Mammoth. She hugged me like a proud parent.

"Yes," I agreed sagely. "I can ski now! I'm no longer a poor latin kid from the ghetto!"

All of the above is a complete exaggeration. Not the actual conversation, but the content. After all, my 'worldly' expertise comes mostly from books, and a poor kid from the ghetto, I never was. I was never rich, but I was always provided for, thanks to a hard working mother and father. And I may have grown up in the inner city, but I spent most of that time being bussed to private schools or at summer camps or afterschool jobs.

But none of that takes away from the very exciting reality that I can ski now! Sort of. I can stand up wearing skis, and I can more or less inch my way down a bunny slope with my arms spread out in front of me for balance.

That counts, doesn't it?

My first trip to Mammoth wasn't without mishaps, but I can't imagine a better way to begin a new year. And quite honestly, it's quite a mirror for my life until now. A heck of a lot of unbalance, the occasional plunge into a white, powdery cloud of snow or the unrelenting smack against a fence (I had literally almost impaled myself, at one point), or the free falling jerk out of my skiis, with a finale of literally flipping over my head before landing on my knees laughing, and finally, the feeling of nervous accomplishment when, just for a moment, I was actually SKIING.

Triumphant moments coupled together with the occasional skids, setbacks and bruises, but always the help of a caring friend or loved one to help pull me back up or record the moment for posterity.

The weekend was not without it's quiet adventures. There was a point where I was walking a mile along a gravel highway in nothing but socks, looking for a car that had been parked further away than anyone wanted. But even as I trudged along the icy road, feet freezing, with a car key in my hand, I had within me a satisfaction that came from the accomplishment of FINALLY doing that thing I always meant to do.

I'm by no means good at skiing. But dammit, I did it. And that's a small success, if there ever was one.

What more can you ask from a New Year?