A Letter From the Future
Dearest Ten-Year Old Neil,
Hello. This is a letter from you twenty years into the future. Twenty years ago would make it the year 1993 where you are. Things you have to look forward to: next year you will watch one of the greatest films ever made. It will be called Pulp Fiction from the director Quentin Tarantino and it will blow your mind. Next year you will also see an epic Disney movie called the Lion King, which is believe or not more epic than Beauty and the Beast.
Also, that encyclopedia you’ve been using to do your homework with? That will be obsolete. I know, sad right? Everything will be on this thing called the internet, a massive web of information you can access from all around the world. You’ll be able to watch television from your computer, and some time in your life, after you discover masturbation, which should be sometime within the next couple years, you will be using it frequently to look for pornography. You know, movies that depict a man and a woman slamming their naked bodies together. It’s all silly really, but for whatever reason you think it’s awesome.
You will also encounter two apocalyptic scares in your life that will turn up anticlimactic. First will be the Y2K bug that hits when the year turns from 1999 to 2000. People will think that the switch to zero digit years will cause a widespread malfunction of electronic records, leading to the widespread destruction of major financial institutions. Everybody will go bankrupt, and the world will be eclipsed in total chaos. That didn’t happen. Then people are going to be scared of the year 2012, due to a Mayan prophesy of the end of the world. That won’t happen either.
You will transition safely into the year 2013 and everyone will go about their boring lives. You will stand on the Empire State Building in New York City, which is pretty cool. You will also visit this thing called the 911 memorial, but I won’t go into that. I will only say that the world is going to witness something very shocking and horrifying. I won’t say when. You are going to have to experience that for yourself.
Anyway I’m writing to tell you where you will be twenty years into the future. Right now you are at a Starbucks, a massive chain of coffee shops that have sprouted up at just about every street corner. You are reading a book called Harry Potter & The Goblet of Fire, the fourth installment of a grand adventure that tells the story of a boy wizard who attends an academy for Witchcraft and Wizardry.
I can go the easy route and send you copies of every single book, so you can take credit for the whole series, but I’m not going to do that. You are doing what you’ve always wanted to do, which is to write novels of your own. You haven’t been published yet, but you are trying. You’ve completed a 77,000-word manuscript and are currently sending it to agents in hopes that one would catch on to the magic in your writing. It really is an exciting time but not without its hardships. You are unemployed right now, by choice. You’ve had a full time job with benefits and you hated it. You are getting support from your parents and your loving girlfriend and best friend, and you intend to pay them back once everything is said and done.
You are in for a ride, ten-year-old Neil. You will experience heartbreak and loss. You will meet some very good people and some very odd ones as well. You will regret nothing, but you will learn a lot about the world and about yourself, and some of it is not so pretty. On a lighter note, you will learn to play the guitar. You will even put together a rock band, and you will write your own music. Some of your music is actually pretty amazing, and some of it not so much.
Most important of all, you will continue to write and you will keep writing because that is what you feel in your heart you were put here to do.
Oh and one more thing. You will say bad words and you will drink beer, so stop being so fucking judgmental.
Love you buddy. See you in twenty.
Bad Sonnet One
As a writing exercise I decided to try my hand at free-writing a sonnet. A sonnet by the Shakespearean standard consists of 14 lines in iambic pentameter and the following rhyme scheme: abab-cdcd-efef-gg
The following is my first attempt at a sonnet. Mind you this is just an exercise, my brain on a treadmill so to speak, and should you ever feel you need more creativity in your life, you can try writing a sonnet as well. I’ll be the first to jump. I’m not much of a poet so my anthology of sonnets will be called Bad Sonnets. And now, Bad Sonnet One:
She walks and runs and sits among the stars / The fallen ones that flare about the moon
Who cut and burn the sky like open scars / When healed and sealed, concealed away too soon
She kissed the grass with lips now stained with dirt / The soil that breaks in crumbs between her toes
The creatures of the night make haste to flirt / When sunlight comes they go where no one knows
And yet the butterflies begin to swirl / Whilst dead cocoons, they wither to the ground
Land softly on a strand of sun-kissed curls / To take her leave from him without a sound
She bids farewell until another day / And prays that guilt and bridges burn away
I know I’m supposed leave this up to interpretation, but the sonnet is about the walk of shame.
And now that I am done I have to say, that I am not cut out for poetry. From reading what I wrote, I do seem gay, but at least I wasn’t afraid (and as far as I’m concerned) KING KONG ain’t got shit on me!!!
Oz the Great and Powerful joins the ranks of Avatar and Life of Pi in creating a world so vivid and immersive, you would be doing yourself a disservice to wait for DVD. There is no other way to watch it than in IMAX 3D. I was smiling from ear to ear from one sequence to the next, surprises at every turn, a Disney attraction within itself. Literally from the very beginning. The opening title sequence is one of the most impressive showcases of 3D I’ve seen. It is as wondrous, if not more so, as the dazzling world in Tim Burton’s Wonderland, only with more memorable characters and a better story.
The true wizard behind the emerald curtain is master director Sam Raimi. He is one of the most versatile directors around, and what he has created here is one of the scariest, funniest, and most charming Disney movies in recent memory. Raimi brings a little Evil Dead demon magic to scenes designed to frighten you. Thankfully his mastery in horror is equaled by his comedic timing, so the little pretties who watch the movie will be able to sleep at night. Finley is the most adorable flying monkey in a bellhop costume you’ll ever meet, and the porcelain China doll is a rollercoaster of emotions, broken one minute and quick to show you she’s not so fragile the next. They are both beautifully animated and voiced to perfection. Sometimes you wish animated characters can win Best Supporting Actor (ahem- Gollum!).
To use this much special effects but still create the atmosphere of a vintage Technicolor classic is an astounding achievement. Like the opening sequence, there are scenes shot with the aesthetic of a paper doll puppet show, or that French Trip to the Moon movie (like the Smashing Pumpkins Tonight, Tonight video). Other moments submerge you in a world of color, magic, and music (by Danny Elfman) like some kind of living, breathing Fantasia. Many scenes can easily be translated to a Disneyland thrill ride, or a spot on the laser-light Fantasmic spectacular. Whether or not that’s done deliberately, who cares? It makes for a thoroughly entertaining movie.
This movie tells the back story of the Great and Powerful Wizard of Oz before he was so Great and Powerful, when he was a lowly carnival magician named Oscar from Kansas. He could convince you to believe with mind-blowing illusions, but sadly isn’t equipped with the stuff that Messiahs are made of. He is crooked and inconsiderate; he lies, cheats, and steals; he’s pretty much everything a wizard-genie-messiah is not, and still you can’t help but love the guy, which has lots to do with James Franco’s natural likeability.
When he crash lands in Oz, he is forced to perform the greatest trick of all. He not only has to convince the citizens of Oz that he is the prophesied Great Wizard sent to restore harmony in the land, he also has to convince the three great witches of the realm, three women who not only possess power beyond words, but are also insanely beautiful, a dangerous combination that may be too much for a mere mortal to bear. A world like this demands a wizard whose predecessors include Merlin, Gandalf, and Dumbledore. This wizard’s heroes are Houdini and Thomas Edison, and for now that will have to do.
Sam Raimi, Ang Lee, and James Cameron are all wizards in their own right, reminding us there are still reasons see a movie at the movie theater.
February 28, 2013 at 12:52pm
The end of the world is only the beginning…
It is now the last day of February 2013 and I have already…
- Stood atop the Empire State Building
- Went bar-hopping around NYC
- Whispered into the walls of Grand Central Station
- Watched J-Law Bill Hader & SNL cast rehearse a skit
- Joined a flash mob as part of a friend’s proposal
- Got blackout drunk at an open bar wedding
- Won an Oscar for Most Accurate Oscar-Winner Predictions (shared with Jackie and Jrew aka Jrewkie)
- Tricked one of my best friends into thinking I had an open mic, only to lure him to his surprise party, only to perform an open mic anyway
- Sat in front of a local celebrity radio host during jury duty (the odds were in my favor because I was never called)
- Learned how to make sushi
- Opened 40 floors on my Tiny Tower
- Saw one of my favorite bands in the world THE USED in concert
…and this was all in two months.
Life is good to say the least. I owe Len lots of money, but the way things are going, I’m confident the riches will start flowing soon enough. Next on the agenda, Adam Davine of Workaholics comedy show… aaaaaaand publish my epic novel.
February 22, 2013 at 3:52pm
Neilstrodamus OSCAR PREDICTIONS 2013
The following is a list of those who WILL WIN the Oscars this Sunday (not necessarily those I want to win)
And the Oscar goes to…
AMOUR for Best Picture (please be Django)
Daniel-Day Lewis for Best Actor (although Wolverine was awesome)
Jennifer Lawrence for Best Actress (mmm bebeh)
Cristoph Waltz for Best Supporting Actor
Anne Hathaway for Best Supporting Actress
Michael Haneke ”Amour” for Best Director
Quentin Tarantino for Best Original Screenplay
Chris Terrio “Argo” for Best Adapted Screenplay
Brave for Best Animated Feature (but I really wanna Wreck It!)
Paperman for Best Animated Short
Searching for Sugarman for Best Documentary
Claudio Miranda “Life of Pi” for Best Cinematography
Amour for Best Foreign Language Film
Les Miserables for Best Production Design
Eiko Ishioka “Mirror Mirror” for Best Costume Design
William Goldenberg “Argo” for Best Editing
Les Miserables for Best Hair and Make-Up
Adele “Skyfall” for Best Song
Alexandre Desplat “Argo” for Best Score
Neilstrodamus has spoken! You’re welcome.
The Miz is the Bizness
The life of Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) is best summed up in the words of another beloved street rat, “All this for a loaf of bread?”
From that single loaf, we become witness to an epic game of cat-and-mouse (between Wolverine and The Gladiator), the birth of a revolution, and a gut-wrenching performance from Anne Hathaway you won’t ever forget.
The movie was filmed in five months, and is the first musical film adaptation to record the audio live, rather than have the actors lip-sync over a pre-recorded studio track. Tom Hooper’s decision to film the actors live evokes some of the most powerful scenes in recent memory, particularly from Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway, both deserving of Oscar nods. His use of extreme close-ups (REALLY extreme close-ups) and long, uninterrupted takes gives a raw, gritty quality to the film that brings out the true pain and suffering of the Miserable.
While there is much that goes on in this sweeping tale involving the excitement of an uprising, and a short-lived love triangle not unlike the one in Victor Hugo’s other masterpiece The Hunchback of Notre Dame, the story is all about redemption, and redemption comes in the form of Jean Valjean. He spent 20 years in captivity, and his only crime was being a good uncle: he stole a loaf of bread to feed his starving nephew. Those 20 years moved Jean Valjean to lose faith. The real story of Les Miserables is Jean Valjean’s quest to find it again.
Problem is, the road to recovery is blocked by the lawman Javert (Russell Crowe), who forces Valjean to play Catch Me If You Can a la Frank Abagnale. Like the nugget that won’t flush, Javert keeps coming back. He suffers from a classic case of hubris, and refuses to see Valjean as anything more than a criminal. The only thing that keeps Valjean going is Colette, I mean, Cosette (Isabelle Allen/Amanda Seyfried).
While Allen is absolutely adorable as young Cosette, and worth fighting for, Seyfried shines in the role of the woman Cosette has come to be, her voice so angelic you soon forget she used to predict the weather with her boobs. While Javert represents Pride, the only obstacle in Valjean’s road to redemption, Cosette serves as Hope and the only guiding light. Valjean takes it upon himself to raise Cosette, after discovering he inadvertently led Cosette’s mother’s life to ruin.
Not since Natalie Portman in V for Vendetta has any female performance looked so tragic yet so beautiful as Anne Hathaway in her role as Fantine. As brief as her appearance was in the film, she killed the role and stole the show. If Anne Hathaway doesn’t get an Oscar, I will shave my head.
How did they deliver such an ambitious film in so little time? For one they had the right crew. The composers and lyricists of the original musical were heavily involved with production. It also helps to have Tom Hooper as Quarterback. Hooper was masterful in telling a simple story about a king with a speech impediment, and is the perfect captain to helm the ship that takes us on a voyage of so many emotions. There’s even ample room for humor provided by Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter, which was much needed in a story so miserable. They both have big names and have the effortless ability to bring big laughs. The same can be said for the entire cast. Not the big names and the big laughs part, but the effortlessness in their abilities to know their roles and to own them. Did I mention Anne Hathaway deserves an Oscar? Holy Shit.
Catwoman and Wolverine in one of the most epic musicals of all time. Who’da thunk it? At least we’re already used to seeing Jackman with Mutton Chops. Too bad Jean Valjean can’t Berserker Barrage his way out of this tragedy. He does, however, have the power to heal himself, only it takes much, much longer. He heals himself through humility, through forgiveness, and through moving musical soliloquies that show us how powerful we can be even when we are most miserable.
Image (CC) Universal
Me ‘N Pooh
No, not the one that creeps out of the rear exit at the end of a hearty meal, but the one that pops up every now and again at the end of a pencil when I get the chance to draw yet again the ubiquitous profile of that lovable cubby stuffed with fluffies. After watching Winnie the Pooh’s movie last night, I came away with two things: One, that the Hundred Acre Wood is inhabited by idiots, and Two, that I myself am very much like Pooh in more ways than one. For one, we both find ways to expose our plump bellies from behind a shirt that’s two sizes too small. For two, our moods and actions are both dictated by that very same demon, a constant grumbling and rumbling in the tummy that tends to overpower all emotion and disrupts all way of logical thinking. Thinking about all the times I have been compelled to draw a picture of Pooh, be it with a pen, a straw filled with soda, or by fingertip against the cold surface of a frosted glass, is it really just me wanting to paint a self-portrait? Is it just a bad case of self-obsession? In our modern age of egocentricity, I wouldn’t doubt it. Not with everyone booking their faces and spaces, pinning their interests, and tweeting their likes and dislikes, and putting the You in Tube. I am not a Tigger so I’m not the only one. So what if I’m self-obsessed? It beats self-loathing. Thanks for noticing, said the donkey without a tail. We need to love ourselves, otherwise we’d have no tale. Which is why it is gravely important to masturbate.
Here’s to Me! Here’s to Pooh! Here’s to You! Fuck you, Here’s to Me!
The trailer alone, garnered much buzz for Disney’s latest 3D adventure. Seeing some of the great video game villains of all time assembled in one room was just too good to be true. The hype was elevated to even greater heights given its ubiquitous presence at San Diego Comic Con. In the back of mind I kept thinking, “THEY’RE GONNA WRECK IT!”
Thankfully, the movie succeeds in creating a heartfelt tribute to the golden era of the 80’s arcade, decorated here and there with familiar cameos that are both nostalgic and laugh out loud hilarious. The actual video game characters and their respective worlds don’t play as big a role in the movie as I imagined. My wishful, nerdy brain hoped Ralph would be jumping through pipes in Mushroom Kingdom, riding horseback through Hyrule and blasting away at baddies alongside Mega Man and who knows who else. This didn’t happen, and may have to do with the price of buying the rights to some of these iconic images. But the new world Disney Animation Studios created is rich with surprises, and rivals that of Monstropolis, Toy Story, and the Kingdom of Far and Far Away.
Wreck-It Ralph (voiced by the incomparable John C. Reilly) is the Donkey Kong to Fix-It Felix, Jr.’s Mario in a fictional 80’s arcade game. The game itself is believable enough to have existed during the era. Ralph, along with other villains in various games throughout the ages, share the same plight of feeling under-appreciated by gamers and other citizens of the video game world.
The breaking point for Ralph was the 30th Anniversary for the “Fix-it Felix, Jr.” arcade. To commemorate the event, Felix throws a party in the penthouse of the game’s high-rise apartment complex, a party that Ralph wasn’t invited to. (The DJ of this party offered another cameo I really wasn’t expecting and left me in awe of this tribute to electronic art.)
What sets Ralph apart from all the other villains is that he is determined to actually do something about the unfortunate role of “Bad Guy” he was programmed to assume. He intends to jump to different arcades in order to become a hero in another game. This act of invading a game other than your own is mysteriously referred to as “Going Turbo” by the other inhabitants of the video game world. It’s considered taboo, especially since it runs the risk of permanent death: dying outside your own game makes it impossible to regenerate.
After a series of unfortunate events, Ralph eventually crash lands into Sugar Rush, a cross between the worlds of Candy Land and Mario Kart. There he befriends the adorable Vanellope (voiced by the lovely Sarah Silverman), who like Ralph is seen as an outcast in her game. In her case, she is considered a freak due to her tendency to glitch out. To Vanellope, racing runs deep within her code, but the only thing stopping her is the candy land’s ruler the Candy King, a sort of Willy Wonka Mad Hatter, who is adamant on keeping her out of the race.
Ralph’s spontaneous hero’s journey spells trouble for the rest of the video game world. Due to Ralph’s disappearance, the “Fix-it Felix, Jr.” game is in danger of being unplugged, leaving Felix with the hefty responsibility of retrieving his clumsy counterpart. Ralph’s brief stint in a Halo-esque game called “Hero’s Duty” is also a big nuisance to the foxy Sgt. Calhoun (Jane Lynch). She must now track down and exterminate a Cybug that Ralph mistakenly helped escape from the game. If the bug goes viral, it could destroy every game in Mr. Litwak’s entire arcade for good.
The video game setting offers awesome moments of creativity for the Disney animators, from the way the characters are drawn and animated, to the way their lives are portrayed outside of their own game. The voice talent is also really impressive across the board. While the movie isn’t the all-out Smash Brothers brawl many were expecting, the movie comes with loads of surprises that are sure to delight and entertain a wide audience, gamers and non-gamers alike.
The movie could not have come at a better time. People who grew up during the era of the arcade are now starting to have families of their own, and are very likely to laugh along with the children they bring to the theaters. This same video game generation also witnessed the Disney Renaissance of the early 90’s: The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and the Lion King. With Wreck-It Ralph destined to be an instant classic, following the success of the equally impressive Tangled, we are in for a new Disney Renaissance for a whole new generation.
Note: Get there early enough for an excellent animated short, and stay to watch the credits roll if you haven’t yet satisfied your nerdy gamer fix.
image CC JeepersMedia
October 23, 2012 at 11:41pm
I ate balut today, a filipino delicacy so strange and foreign to the western world that it was a challenge to eat it on fear factor, was featured in an episode of bizarre foods with andrew zimmerman, and is Cracked.com’s number one most terrifying food in the world.
After breaking open the balut shell to reveal the brownish yellow clump i knew to be fertilized duck embryo, i had to admit, although i love my heritage and feel our food deserves greater recognition in the world of ethnic cuisine, this particular dish is pretty fucking horrifying.
nothing a little salt can’t handle. I sprinkled, nay, showered it with salt and sucked the juice that collected at the bottom of the shell. Sucked and slurped away and told myself this wasn’t so bad, but with all the sucking and slurping i knew i was just delaying the inevitable. I would have to eventually bite into the thing.
I bit and didn’t let myself gag. This is culture. Eat it, bitch. More salt. Another bite. What am I biting into? Fuck it. Chomp. More salt. WTF is that? Gag.
After making it halfway i dumped the rest out of the shell and onto my plate, and studied the remaining contents, half-dreading half-hoping to see out of sick curiosity any trace the little dude was on its way to becoming a little baby Donald, a feather, a beak, or God forbid, an eyeball staring back at me, judging me, “Asshole.”
I lucked out. Not this time, perhaps not for a long time. Ten years give or take. Unless it’s prepared in a way that’s a little less daunting, Balut Benedict, Balut Chorizo Burrito.
Bizarre food? Most definitely. Fear factor challenge worth thousands of dollars? No. Most terrifying food in the world? Definitely not. I have no idea how balut beat out a big hunk of moldy cheese with maggots growing all over it. A roasted kalua pig can smile at you just the same.
It may not be the most terrifying, but terrifying nonetheless. With more in the fridge and Halloween night right around the corner, i think it best to make use of that Fear Factor and bring a whole new element of horror when we go egging.
Both a trick and a treat… with duck feet.
No really… duck.
September 5, 2012 at 12:03pm
New Workout: Nike Cardio Killer Plus
Duration: 30 minutes
- Froggers (aka Mountain Climbers): Maintain plank position (like you’re about to do pushups) and alternate bringing one knee forward for one minute.
- Burpees: Start in standing position, drop and kick feet back to plank position, kick feet forward, stand up and jump. Repeat for one minute.
- Hold Squat Position for 30 seconds.
- Squat Jump, just like you’re shooting a basketball for 30 seconds.
- Plank Hop: Maintain plank position, kick feet to the right, then back center, kick to the left, then back center. Repeat for 1 minute.
- Tuck Jump: Jump and bring knees towards chest mid air. Repeat for 30 seconds
- Rest for 30 seconds
- Repeat Steps 1-7 three times
- Gangnam Style Dance for 15 minutes
- Drink beer, do it again a couple days from now, say you’ll do it every other day but never do it again.