Saturday, August 15, 2009

District 9

Loved this film. Good sci-fi films are few and far between.

Monday, August 10, 2009


My faithful Sunfire amp is fried! Sending it to WA to get repaired.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Now you must wear the cone of shame

I almost take Pixar for granted nowadays. Before I even see a Pixar feature, it's almost a foregone conclusion in my mind that the movie is going to be excellent. But I have to admit, the trailer for Up didn't really lure me in. Let' see - you have a grumpy old man, house flown by balloons, boy scout stowaway, a silly bird, and a talking dog. Uh huh. But the unanimous praise piqued my curiosity. To cut to the chase, Up was surprisingly brilliant. And I now understand why Pixar did not reveal too much in the trailer. It all comes to together beautifully at the end. I left the theater with the same level of satisfaction as Wall-E, Ratatouille, and The Incredibles.

What amazes me is how Pixar can keep cranking them out year after year - taking all too familiar themes that would no doubt = EPIC fail with live action. But somehow the combo of CG animation, interesting characters, and brilliant screenplay/storytelling, Pixar is able to consistently produce works that become instant classics. In a way, I feel bad for Dreamworks. Other than Shrek and Kung Fu Panda, I can't really remember many of their animated works.

My only criticism of Up was on the technical presentation of the film and not on the film itself. I had a $8.50 off movie cash voucher and paid $4 extra for the 3D version. If you ask me, 3D is a gimmick. Yah, you can see the 3D effect and it's cool at times but it really did not enhance the viewing experience for me and picture is also less bright with the glasses. Maybe I'm old school but I think 2D offers a more satisfying viewing experience.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Property Management experience so far

We are currently using a property management company to help rent out and manage our house when we move. The PM company also happens to be our HOA so my thinking was the property management piece and the HOA piece would work out better for myself and the tenant since both are under the same roof. I also chose this company since they are an AMO member per But as of right now I think the certification has given me a false sense of reassurance. Annoyances thus far,

1) First tenant prospect wanted to move in end of May but our ad clearly stated "available end of June." The property manager did not bother to ask the prospective tenant his desired move in date so when he came to visit, we both looked at each other and said "Oh..."

2) Second tenant prospect who came to see the house did not see to be aware that our house is a 3bd+loft/2.5bath and she was looking for a 4 bedroom. Doh! When I asked the second tenant prospect if she was briefed by our PM on the home specs, she sounded very uncertain.

3) There was at least 1 -2 day lapse on the craigslist and ads.

4) Today I receive an email from the PM asking me who our HOA is when I already informed her that her company was our HOA several weeks back!

Coming from a customer support environment years ago, I think I am a fairly tolerant and patient person but I have to admit that I feel a little bit of frustration that our PM is not on top of things.

Friday, May 08, 2009

I want to see it again

(one of my favorite scenes with Bones. Karl Urban nails it.).

Yes, it was that good. Now, I don't know if I'd go as far to say that non Trekkies will flock to see this film (like the way Peter Jackson made it "cool" to be a LOTR fan or Sam Raimi with his Spiderman trilogy) but I think if there is ever going to be a Trek film to hook mainstream audiences in, this is it. When I was in line I was pleasantly surprised to see a diverse group of people anxiously waiting and during the movie, there was plenty of applause during key character introductions, key scenes as well as the ending. It was great "opening day" experience.

On the film itself - the writing was snappy, the chemistry among the new Enterprise crew was great, and the visual effects were very impressive (especially on the Imax screen!). Generally, the character performances were very good but I got huge laughs from Bones (Karl Urban), Chekov (Anton Yelchin) and Scottie (Simon Pegg). I felt these guys really captured the essence of the original characters and thankfully without the SNL parody.

Some misses - At times I felt the pace was a bit frenetic. After the emotionally charged, EPIC prologue, the ending was not quite on the same caliber. Sulu (John Cho) was kind of treated as an afterthought. Nero (Eric Bana) didn't make much of an impression on me. I don't think it was Eric Bana's fault. I think the script made him too one-dimensional. He simply didn't have the cool lines like Khan had in Star Trek II or the Shakespeare quotes that General Chang had in Star Trek VI. My nerd nitpick - I had mixed feelings on the appearance of the Enterprise, specifically the Nacelles. I won't spoil it by going into detail however. And lastly, some of the memorable quotes Trekkies all know and love felt shoehorned at times.

So does this film replace Khan as the all time best Star Trek film? My own view is probably not. But I'd say it is hands down better than ANY of the TNG films (yes, even First Contact) and maybe 2nd to the "Genesis" films and Undiscovered Country. JJ Abrams has definitely brought the Trek universe back to life. Day one purchase on Blu Ray for sure.

Update: I recently read that the movie was shot on 35mm film and did not use IMAX or digital HD cameras. For the IMAX presentation, apparently upconversion or "IMAX DMR"was used. I think that would explain the softer picture I experienced at my local IMAX theater compared to when I saw The Dark Knight which had used an IMAX camera for specific shots. These days I much prefer digital DLP over film theaters for the sharpness, detail and overall image pop. I never thought I'd ever say that film projectors are just too soft for me now. I might go to the local Krikorian theater which has a Christie 2K DLP projector for a 2nd viewing.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Bachelor life..sort of

Since the Mrs has been out of town, I've had no motivation to cook for myself. I've been eating pizza for the past two days and oddly enough I am not tired of it yet. Good thing the NBA playoffs are on to help me burn off the calories. Maybe I'll try El Pollo Loco on Wed, have Nick's Burger on Thurs, and order Thai food on Friday. Of course it could all change depending on my mood that day but man, I just don't feel like cooking anything!

I picked up the X-men Blu Rays for at Best Buy and each movie comes with a movie cash ticket. I plan to see Wolverine anyway when Viks comes back so it brings the effective price of each Blu Ray to ~$8 each. I think $9.99 is my new target price for catalog Blu Rays. The picture quality on the X-men movies are great! But what impressed me even more is the DTS HD MA tracks. Having watched the SD versions two weekends ago (I was trying to convince myself the Blu Ray upgrade was unnecessary), I can honestly say the upgrade in sound quality is substantial and has made the purchase all the more sweeter. Ok, so this is going to sound NERDY but at the end of X2, I kind of wonder if the film's ending was inspired by Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. If you're a fan of both you'll know what I mean. The ending of Khan is one of my all time favorite movie endings.

I have a whole list of "to do's" for the house before we move. I've applied touch up paint to the walls and have changed few energy saving bulbs (so expensive). Our backyard gate needs some work. But since the house is still relatively new, I guess there isn't that much work to do. But you'd be surprised by just how much time is required to complete little things here and there. Packing is a pain but I've been slowly putting non essential things in boxes to get ready for the move. Apparently when you move long distances, the rate is by weight and not hours. So I've been using our bathroom weight scale and documenting the weight of each box to kind of help guess what our bill is going to be like.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

San Diego Zoo

I posted more videos on my Facebook page. Blogspot seems slower to upload and process.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

My April fools

So I thought we had a good prospective tenant yesterday. He came with his friend, checked out the house and seemed to be pleased. And there were good vibes. But then toward the end he asked if the house would be available in early May. Doh! What was disappointing was that in our ad, it explicitly stated "available end of June" ! And furthermore, I am not sure why our Property Manager did not check with the prospective tenant during the initial phone screening. What irks me even more is that Viks and I spent a lot of time cleaning the house only to get a false alarm. But ok. I suppose not -all- is bad. We still have time and I'd actually prefer a married couple to increase the chances of a continuous multi year lease.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Rediscovering Sugar Tax

For some odd reason today, I just felt like dusting off OMD's Sugar Tax and giving it a spin. I remember having a Facebook conversation about the CD with an old friend not too long ago. I then remembered why this is my favorite OMD album. Yes, their singles album with Paul Humphreys is their most popular but I would argue that Andy McCluskey's solo effort with Sugar Tax is the most beautiful. Sugar Tax is one of early electronica CDs that convinced me that electronic music does not always equate to cold and sterile.

I think I just have a weakness for melancholy music. From the jilted lover in "Was It Something I Said?" to love not returned in "Then You Turn Away" to the heartbreaking, closing track, "All that Glitters" - I just love how the unusual title of this album makes perfect sense after you listen to the CD - that for the "sugar" of love, one pays dearly. Now, not every song requires a box of kleenex. Part of what has made Sugar Tax age so well for me is the variety. There are upbeat songs like like "Pandora's box" to the cover of Kraftkwerk's "Neon Lights." Such a wonderful album from start to finish.