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List #20: Things I’m Ashamed of Liking

15 May, 2013

I mean, not really that ashamed, given that I’m telling people about it. But semi-ashamed.

  • Country Music (A lot of it, anyway.)
  • Kim Kardashian (Well, pre-pregnancy. And in an aesthetic sense only.)

  • Taylor Swift (I still really like that Trouble song. Goat version, or otherwise.)

That is (start at 2:02):

Or, alternately:

  • ABC’s Once Upon a Time
  • Leather Couches (People tell me they are not good. I disagree.)
  • Zynga Games (SCRABBLE BOGGLE HANGMAN YEAHHH)

There are probably more, but those are the ones that came into my head just now. And there are certainly more that I won’t admit.

In other news, check out my other blog, Pixels of Thrones! It’s, as you might be able to tell from the title, pixelated versions of Game of Thrones characters.

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List #19: Movies I’ve Only Liked Because I Saw Them On A Plane

2 March, 2013

The title, mostly, says it all. I’m not afraid of flying, nor do I often get motion sick, I just get really bored when I’m on an airplane. So, anything I watch in said situation, I end up liking much more than I probably would otherwise. Not that this is a scientifically proven statement, but there are many movies I’ve seen on planes that everyone hated and yet I still enjoyed. Beats looking out the window at clouds for 6 hours.

  • Click – Yep, Adam Sandler, but still I liked it.
  • Yes Man - Not one of Jim Carrey’s better movies, but it was fun!
  • Fun With Dick and Jane - Well, I had fun with Dick and Jane. On a plane.
  • Hancock – This one has Jason Bateman so it can’t be all bad, right? Also there’s one track on the soundtrack that’s really good.
  • Hitch – I’m not sure I actually saw all of this one. But I was at least entertained.
  • Marley and Me – Okay so this one might actually be good. But I still think I liked it better than I would have otherwise.

Well, that seemed like that would be a longer list when I started it… I’m pretty sure there are others, equally mediocre films that somehow provide an escape from the no-leg-room-funny-smelling-boring airplane cabin. But I can’t remember them now. I block out flights, I guess.

That’s it, for another fascinating romp through what I find interesting occasionally.

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List #18: Famous People I Have Seen in LA

6 February, 2013

As some of you may know, I moved to LA in April of 2011. So, I’ve been here for a while now, and have seen lots of famous people! So that’s cool. Without further ado, here they are:

  • Olivia Wilde – The first one, but the best one. I actually saw her the previous January, when I was visiting. She was at the table next to me at a restaurant!
  • Matthew Morrison – That is, the teacher on Glee. He was pumping gas at a gas station I went to. I cared less about him.
  • Michaela Conlin – (Mostly known for being “Angela” on Bones) Saw her on the street when leaving a restaurant. She was helping a very drunk friend not fall over.
  • John Francis Daley – (Among other things, known for being “Dr. Sweets” on Bones) This one, I actually talked to. Primarily because I was drunk and someone told me to. So I did (“My friend told me to tell you that you’re awesome on Bones.“) He said thanks. Saw him at the bar my holiday work party was at!
  • Anne Hathaway – Saw her at a vegan restaurant when we were having brunch. As was she. My brother told me to tell her she hathaway with words. I did not.
  • Patricia Belcher? – (Plays “Caroline Julian” on Bones) I’m not sure I’ve actually seen her. I saw someone who looks a lot like her when my elevator briefly opened on the wrong floor when I was going to the doctor. I want to say it was her because then I’ve seen three Bones characters and that’s kind of weird.
  • Todd Lowe – (Terry from True Blood) So, he has a band, and that band was playing at Kelly’s work holiday party.
  • Valerie Bertinelli – (She’s famous for… stuff?) I met her, she was nice, and apparently she’s in things, or so people tell me.
  • Ashley Williams – (“Victoria” in How I Met Your Mother) Eating lunch at my restaurant. A lot of these involve food.
  • Simon Cowell – At the shopping center. He seemed nice, and friendly, and not like his judginess (people were asking him for autographs and photos and such)

I believe that’s it. Honorable mentions go to Leonard Nimoy, Tate Donovan, Corey Stoll, Jason Alexander, anyone who was on Switched at Birth, and probably a few others, because I did see them in person but it was at various events or jobs so that hardly counts. Also a bunch of chefs who came out to see their patrons. As a parting though, Leonard Nimoy is awesome. And, basically, celebrities are like Pokémon.

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List #17: Top Five Movies I Saw In the Latter Half of 2012

21 January, 2013

Yes, I know this is a very specific type of list. But I only started keeping track of the movies I see in June, and since then I’ve only barely seen 10 movies in theaters so a top-ten list just wouldn’t really work — it would have everything. Instead, here’s the five best films I saw, based mostly on the  somewhat arbitrary rating I gave them at the time. My resolution for 2013? See more movies.

5. Taken 2* – This movie was exactly what it should have been. And, as such, was perfect. Liam Neeson continuing his general badassery, this time in Istanbul. What else do I need to say?

4. Pitch Perfect - A cappella movie! Anna Kendrick? How can you go wrong? Only with lots and lots of unnecessary vomiting. Other than that, this was great! The plot makes no sense at the end, but whatever! Singing! Woo!

3. Frankenweenie – Anything in stop motion is going to be high on my list, pretty much automatically. (Note: I didn’t see Paranorman, which I heard was better, otherwise it might be here instead). I liked this movie a lot, although it’s almost too Tim Burton-y (there’s no difference between the setting of this and the setting of Edward Scissorhands), but the way it looked was great, even when the plot goes a little off kilter at the end. I love the black and white, and the story is sweet.

2. Django Unchained - People had been telling me to see Pulp Fiction for years when I finally saw it. They said that it was my kind of movie, that I would love it, and of course when I saw it I was worried to see what people thought I enjoyed. Turns out they were exactly correct — I loved that movie and I love this one. I wasn’t a huge fan of Kill Bill (either), so not every Tarantino movie is a hit, but this one is. Christoph Waltz fully deserves the Golden Globe (and hopefully Oscar?) that he won for his character — both moving and funny and just plain weird. The rapport between him and Foxx was perfect, and although I understand that this movie doesn’t necessarily portray things the way they should be (it’s basically about revenge, not racism and slavery), I still loved it. It was a little long, but that’s my only complaint.

1. Skyfall - I wouldn’t be far off to say that this was my favorite Bond movie. I’m not sure if it’s actually true or not, but it’s definitely up there. Javier Bardem is amazing, the plot is fun and exciting, and the set pieces as good as they should be — komodo dragons, anyone? My only qualm about this movie was the end — I can say without spoiling (I don’t think it’s really a spoiler) that, effectively, the ending means that the last X number of Bond movies basically never happened. Which I’m okay with, it’s just a little odd. No more grit? But that aside, I loved this, and it redeemed the franchise fully from the horrible Quantum of Solace.

* Technically, Brave and The Dark Knight Rises were tied for fifth place, but I thought it would be more entertaining to discuss Taken 2. So I did.

This is a weird list. But it’s weird because I didn’t see that many movies, as previously mentioned. I didn’t see Lincoln, or Life of Pi, or Zero Dark Thirty, or Cloud Atlas, or any of a number of other movies that would almost certainly be up here if I had actually gotten to a theater. But I haven’t yet. And so, my list is my list.

Honorable mentions go to The Nightmare Before Christmas 4D, National Treasure 2, and The Bourne Identity, all of which were rated highly but were not new in theaters.

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List #16: Top Five Television Episodes

16 December, 2012

Alright, I’ve put writing this entry on my to-do list. So now I have to do it. Finally. Well done me. Anyway, as I’ve been watching all the TV I wrote about last entry, occasionally there’s an episode which catches my attention or my emotions in a way that I just can’t shake. That episode always has gone on a mental list of ones I might want to rewatch, or have rewatched, over and above the rest of the series. There are more than five such episodes, but I finally made a non-mental list of all of them, and have decided to narrow it down to five for the purposes of this entry. They are not in any particular order, but here goes:

- “Killer Within” – Season 3, Episode 4 – The Walking Dead

This is the most recent of these five episodes. Unfortunately, I can’t really divulge much of what happens in this that makes it so awesome, because there would be a lot of spoilers. But bad things happen, and people react. And more things happen.

- “Flight of the Phoenix” – Season 2, Episode 9 – Battlestar Galactica

This was the episode that made me start the list. It’s not the first one I saw, but it’s the first that drew me as much. Basically, it’s about everyone banding together in a time of desperation, to give people something to live for. Also, robots that look like people.

- “Restless” – Season 4, Episode 22 – Buffy the Vampire Slayer

This entire episode is a dream (spoiler? I don’t think so…). Actually, four dreams, of four different characters. The plot is cool, but the thing that really got me was how dreamlike everything felt. The music was kind of creepily repetitive, like a fugue state in a dream, the dialog didn’t follow (but it made sense within the context until you noticed it, just like a dream) and the scenery changed suddenly but was, again, not that weird until you noticed it. I’ve seen dream sequences in shows before, but none ever felt right, except this one. Also, Giles sings.

- “The New Era” – Season 2, Episode 4 – The OC

I’ve probably seen this about ten times. Not necessarily because I wanted to, at the beginning. So maybe this one is on here just because of repeated exposure, but for whatever reason, I still enjoy it. It’s a coherent story but furthers the arc, and there are clever lines and good music (my first exposure to The Killers) and, of course, Olivia Wilde.

- “Out of Gas” – Season 1, Episode 8 – Firefly

It’s really sad that this show didn’t keep going. This episode is… well, I dunno. I don’t think it’ll have the same effect if you haven’t watched the show from the beginning, and you don’t know the characters, so don’t just go out and watch this right now. Basically it shows how everyone met, and how things came to be the way they are, but it’s essentially someone’s life flashing before their eyes, and when that end finally comes… Well, yeah. So watch it, but only after the first 7 episodes. Word.

So there’s a lot of sci-fi here, but for the most they’re not here because of the sci-fi aspects of the show. It’s more about the people than it is about the shows. And really I just watch a fair amount of sci-fi. There are other episodes that didn’t make this list, some from the same shows and some from others (two potential ones from Lost narrowly missed out, but I won’t specify because this list was only five. What are your top five?

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List #15: TV Shows I’ve Watched (Revisited)

5 May, 2012

The first post I wrote for this blog once I changed its focus way back in 2009 (even before I changed the post title format!) was a list of television shows that I’d watched a large portion of. “What follows is a list of all the television shows that I have either seen from beginning to end, every episode that has been broadcast so far, or from the beginning up to a certain point in the series, but every episode in between.” This is an update to that list, with a slight alteration in format. Since there are probably too many shows to stick with all of those criteria (thanks to the proliferation of Netflix, Hulu, and other VOD services), I’m just going to list those shows of which I’ve seen all existing episodes. That includes both currently running shows (as long as I’m up to date) and those that have completed. These will be listed in order of total length, without ads. Here goes!

  • Stargate SG-1 – 10 seasons, 214 episodes, 9,202 minutes
  • 24 – 8 seasons, 192 episodes, 8,256 minutes
  • Lost – 6 seasons, 121 episodes, 5,324 minutes
  • Battlestar Galactica – 4 seasons, 75 episodes, 3,300 minutes
  • Futurama – 6 seasons, 114 episodes, 2,508 minutes
  • Torchwood – 4 seasons, 41 episodes, 2,120 minutes
  • Deadwood – 3 seasons, 36 episodes, 1,980 minutes
  • Twin Peaks – 2 seasons, 30 episodes, 1,504 minutes
  • Life on Mars [UK] – 2 seasons, 16 episodes, 960 minutes
  • Once Upon a Time – 1 season 20 episodes, 900 minutes
  • The Walking Dead – 2 seasons, 19 episodes, 897 minutes
  • Kings – 1 season, 13 episodes, 604 minutes
  • Firefly – 1 season, 14 episodes, 588 minutes
  • Alcatraz – 1 season, 13 episodes, 559 minutes
  • American Horror Story – 1 season, 12 episodes, 504 minutes
  • The River – 1 season, 8 episodes, 344 minutes
And, I think that’s it. For those shows that meet the criteria for this list. The ones in blue, since you may have been wondering, are shows that are currently on (though at least two of them are probably cancelled); the others have concluded, in one way or another.. And, this list doesn’t include shows like Game of Thrones, of which I’ve seen all but the most recent episode. That’s a close call, but this is accurate up to today, so I thought I should keep it that way. It also doesn’t include the spin-off TV movies, or miniseries, or whatever (Twin Peaks’ Fire Walk With Me, BSG’s Razor and the Plan, etc.) which for the most part I’ve watched.

So what does this all add up to? 39,550 minutes, or 27 days, 11 hours, and 10 minutes. Not including ads. A lot of these I watched recorded, online, or on DVD, so for the most part there weren’t ads. But it’s still a lot of time. And it’s not including, as I mentioned before, shows that I haven’t seen all of. So, the 4 seasons of Buffy, the 6 of Doctor Who, or the 4 of How I Met Your Mother? Not on here. Because I haven’t seen all of it. So this is a list in progress. And it does still scare me a little that such a small segment of the TV I watch adds up to such a large number. (By the way, all stats here come from Wikipedia — episode number, length, etc., so they could be a little wrong.)

Still, as I said in the first post on this subject, I think it was time well-spent. There were bad episodes here and there, but for the most part this was all enjoyable TV. I’ll tell you more about what I thought were the best episodes in another, forthcoming post (which hopefully will arrive more quickly than this one did).

How about you? What’s your TV number — how much time have you watched, given the above restrictions? Let me know in the comments!

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List #14: The Pros and Cons of Audio Books

9 March, 2012

I recently completed, for the first time, an audio book. I had started to listen to one before, but fairly soon afterwards I stopped doing architectural drafting (as part of a summer program), and didn’t need to have something to listen to any more while my hands were busy cutting, or drawing, or ruling. So, when my girlfriend and I started listening to The Magicians (by Lev Grossman) on the way back down from San Francisco (a drive of about 6 hours), it was my second try. And, this time, I ended up finishing it. It took about a month or so, but I finally heard the last sentence of the book.

It was a strange experience. I really enjoyed it (though of course that would depend on the book, too), but it was also slightly frustrating, in various ways. But the list will let you know that. Without further ado…

  • Pro: Gives you something interesting to do while driving. Not that I don’t enjoy singing along to my iPod, but it’s nice to have a little change. And at the gym, too — it certainly beats watching Closed-Captioned episodes of Keeping Up With the Kardashians or The Real Housewives of… (which are inevitably on whenever I go).
  • Con: Doesn’t make getting out of the car after arriving at work any more enticing.
  • Con: You have no sense of how things are spelled, if they’re anything other than ordinary. I remember this from the first book, The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, when it took me a minute or two to adjust to the names once I shifted to the print version. This one too; when I saw my friend’s fan cast of the book, I had no idea who Professor Van der Weghe was, until I sounded it out (van der veye).
  • Pro: You don’t feel rushed, or too slow. This could be a con, I suppose. The book just flows at its own pace, and it has nothing to do with how fast or slow you read, or what else is going on. Sure, you can speed up the audio (a convenient feature of the Audible iPhone app), and there are times when you really want to know what’s going to happen next, but in the end it goes the way it should.
  • Pro: You can’t skip ahead to find out a secret. Well, you can. But it’s much more difficult, and I always find myself doing this almost accidentally in print books; flipping to the wrong section of the book, or quickly flicking my eyes to the end of the next page or chapter, if it’s on the open two pages.
  • Pro/Con: It goes much more directly into your brain. This is really the key point that made it such a peculiar experience for me. And it could be different for different people, I don’t know. But something about listening to it, like the stories your parents tell you when you’re a kid, made me get so into the story, so involved, so attached, more so than I often do. Again, I’m sure this is in part because of the book (sort of the college/20-something’s Harry Potter, but more upsetting, in a mostly good way), but I felt so strongly for the characters, thinking that the protagonist is a horrible person when he gets to be one in the middle of the book, feeling the pain and anguish at various events, and just feeling upset in general about the unfairness of life (in the story, of course. Mostly. Though I still think it’s unfair I didn’t go to magic school.) I have no idea how much of this is the writing, and how much is the listening. Because if I’m driving, or running at the gym, there is nothing else really to distract me (perhaps that shouldn’t be true for driving, but when you’re stuck in traffic it’s acceptable), and I am fully in the world of the story. The reason this could be a con, though, is because I didn’t want to leave my car at the end of wherever I was going, I just wanted to stay in the driver’s seat, and listen. And things hit me more, emotionally, than they might, affecting my mood for the whole day, even, sometimes (as my girlfriend will tell you).

But I’m interested in trying another title. I’ll have to find a book I think is worth the experience, and also one that is available. This was my free trial book on Audible, and I’m not currently paying for the service, so I’ll have to look into other options.

Have you ever read any audiobooks? What do you recommend, and what was your experience?

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