Saturday, March 30, 2013

Random Thoughts: How I Met Your Mother - Redemption

I became a fan of How I Met Your Mother about a year ago, somewhere in the middle of Season 7.  But I had never seen it in the regular time slot it inhabits on CBS.  Just like I have done with shows such as Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Roswell, my girlfriend and I decided to give it a try and we streamed it on Netflix.  It didn’t take long for us to become hooked and we finished off the first six seasons in record time. 

The problem we ran into was that the network broadcasts of the series was in the middle of Season 7 and wasn’t available on Netflix Streaming at that time (it is now).   So the only choices we had were to begin watching Season 7 in the middle and catch up with the early seasons later on, or find some other way.  I opted for an alternative which was to purchase the complete season from Amazon. 

Yes, it was a bit pricey (just under $40 for HD) when you consider that I could have waited and watched it as part of my Netflix subscription later down the road.  But as I suspected, Season 7 didn’t become available until after Season 8, the current season, had already begun.  So I would be no better off.

I also might have been able to watch over the internet at the CBS web site, but that would have meant watching from my computer (ugh) and I believe they only keep up about four episodes at a time.  Can’t have people tuning out and missing the commercials although the CBS stream is not exactly light in that department either.  (5 commercials during each break).

And besides, despite what I had heard in some quarters, season 7 was for me at least, very satisfying.  Sure there were some clunky episodes, but when you have 24 episodes to get on the air, there are going to be a few rhinestones tossed in there along with the rubies, diamonds, and emeralds.

It was originally thought that Season 8 would be the swan song for How I Met Your Mother and that we would finally get to meet the mystery lady.   There certainly have been enough hints thrown in as to where, when, and how Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor) would finally meet the girl of his dreams.  But a funny thing happened on the way to the finale.  I was not the only one who had become hooked.  It seems that thanks to Netflix, many people like myself who had never seen the show became fans and the series experienced an unprecedented ratings boost unheard of for a show in it’s seventh season.  So negotiations were done, the actors signed on for one more round, and yes Virginia there will be a Season Nine.

However, not everything has been puppies and flowers.  The series and the premise began to look tired.  Unlike the previous seasons, there seem to be way more forgettable clunkers this season than memorable gems.  The first two episodes were certainly okay (Farhampton & The Prenup), but the two that followed were abysmal by comparison (Nannies and Who Wants To Be A Godparent). 

Honestly, I’ve found just about all the Mickey Aldrin (Chris Elliott) episodes to be more annoying than funny.  And it was becoming apparent that the episodes centering around Baby Marvin just weren’t cutting it either which is what happens sometimes when you have to introduce a kid into a series.  It gums up the works with baby poop jokes and sleepless parents.  Poor Marshall (Jason Segel) and Lilly (Alyson Hannigan). 

The Autumn of Breakups episode was fine, but hampered by Ted (Neil Patrick Harris) and his bro dog.  Or should I say Ted and his Bore Dog.  Splitsville would have been a terrific episode, but was dragged down again by the whole Marshall/Lilly/Marvin dilemma in which they were  unable to get some private time for sex.  Another episode dealt with Marvin having constipation.  Another episode had Ted witnessing Marvin’s first steps instead of Marshall and Lily.  What a drag. 

Then there was all the time spent getting to the mid-season finale The Final Page which included a guest appearance by Buffy alumni Seth Greene.  As usual, good guy Ted ends up with the short end of the stick.  And I’ll be honest.  I dearly love both Barney and Robin (Coby Smulders), but I’ve never really bought into the whole Barney/Robin  on again off again on again romance.  It just doesn’t work for me.  And the fact that Barney had to use every evil trick of deception in the book before proposing to her only added to my conviction.  But there is still a glimmer of hope that these two will never make it down the aisle together.  They just work better as separate entities.  Maybe something will change my mind although the possibility seems remote at this junction. But maybe the whole point is mute what with Season 9 wrapping things up next year.

Robin Sparkles did return, but the less said about that the better.  It was funny the first three times, but this is proof positive that too much is too much.  They should have learned that with the very disappointing reveal of Slutty Pumpkin in Season 7 which was nothing more than an excuse to find a way to use Katie Holmes.  After having heard about Slutty Pumpkin forever, that episode was a major disappointment, but not quite as bad as Robin Sparkles fourth time around.

Marshall’s mom Judy (Suzie Plakson) having sex with Mickey?  Even the thought was sickening.  It was also way out of character for everything we have come to understand about Marshall’s mom and his family in the few episodes she’s been mentioned in or made an appearance.

But the worst part of the whole season, and perhaps the low point of the series?  Ted’s overly obsessed and loony tunes girlfriend, Jeanette Peterson (Abby Elliott).  None of this relationship was remotely funny.  Not one single second of it.  Worse, it was downright painful to watch.  I wanted to throw something at the TV.

For anybody who has witnessed a basket case like Jeanette, or knows somebody who has been in a relationship with a bi-polar maniacal partner, they’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.  Worse yet, as destructive as this character was, Ted broke up and went back with her because despite everything she had done, the sex was good.  Give me a break.  My opinion is that the Jeanette story should never ever see the light of day again.  It’s one thing to make a funny over obsessed girl friend character, it’s quite another to turn her into a violent and dangerous felon with maniacal tendencies. 

“The Ashtray”, which brought back the Captain for no particularly good reason, “Weekend at Barney’s”, and “The Fortress” were not much better.  I was at the point where I didn’t even feel compelled to watch any episodes with the immediacy I once did.  If you’re going to bring back the Captain, wouldn’t you bring back his daughter Zoey?  Certainly that would have been far more interesting.  Okay, so maybe Jennifer Morrison, the actress who played Zoey, is busy on the set of Once Upon A Time.  Get another actress.  It’s been done before.

Then came this past Monday’s episode (3/25/2013), The Time Travelers.  This episode did not exactly start with a bang.  The whole premise centered around Ted and Barney being visited by their future selves to convince Ted to go to Wrestlers vs. Robots, with a silly sub plot added of Carl the Bartender naming a drink that Marshall had invented, calling it the “Robin Sherbatsky.”
For 3/4 of the running time, the episode not only seemed to be going nowhere, as they added Barney from 20 years in the future, Ted from 20 years into the future, 20 hours from now Barney, 20 hours from now Ted, and topped off with 20 minutes from now Barney, it appeared to be approaching total lunacy and not in a funny way.  I was ready to give up and turn in my How I Met Your Mother Fan Club membership.  But, in the last five minutes of the episode, the whole mess was brought together as if someone had shined a light from above and said enough with this b.s. 
What initially appeared to be another writing disaster, the hat check girl appears, the episode took a 180 degree turn, and I was reminded as to why I totally love this show and how the memorable moments, even the small ones, can wash away the bad taste of all the Jeanette episodes.

And in those five precious moments, we learned more about Ted’s future wife than we had in some entire seasons.

But even more, we found out how much he really will love her, forever and always.   And it is another great example of Josh Radnor’s talent, and why he is perfect as Ted.  He has never been given enough credit for his contributions.  In those five minutes, How I Met Your Mother had redeemed itself for the entire season.

If you haven’t seen the episode, I won’t spoil it for you but if you have given up as I almost did, try again.  By my calculations, there are about 4 episodes left until we get to the Ted and Robin’s wedding episode (or episodes if it’s a two part episode), where we might possibly get to meet the future Mrs. Ted Mosby for the very first time.  I hope so.  I’ll be sure to report back here with my thoughts on it when it happens or maybe even before that.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Random Thoughts: Netflix Fail

I’ve been renting discs from Netflix for quite a while.  I’ve also been streaming since way back when they first started offering the service.  Back in the beginning, the streaming came free with the discs rentals but the selection was mostly major suckage.  Over all these years I’ve mostly been satisfied with the Netflix service, but over the past year or so, the disc rental department seems to be on a downward spiral. 

I guess Netflix has a reason for letting this side of the business go all to hell, but I’m not sure I understand why especially when it’s still profitable.  But in the last twelve months, I’ve returned more broken discs than I had in all the previous years combined.  And it’s really getting to be a pain in the ass. 

I guess I’m seriously considering unsubscribing, but if I give up the disc service, I’ll probably quit on the streaming as well.  After all, I still have Amazon Prime and do I really need both?  And Redbox Streaming is out there somewhere waiting in the wings as soon as they put it on one of my devices that I already own.

I’ve been on this Stallone kick for a couple of weeks and had the film Victory starring Sylvester Stallone, Michael Caine, and directed by John Huston,  in my DVD Queue.  Somehow along the way I had missed ever seeing the film so I was looking forward to it arriving.  Well it did arrive, on time, but cracked all to hell.  Exasperating and a pain in the ass for this to happen,  but something I’m learning to live with more and more every month when it comes to Netflix. 

They do give you a choice.  When you report it as being broken you can either have them send the same movie or just request for them to send the next one in your queue.  Just about every time except once I have requested the same movie.  If I didn’t want to see it, I wouldn’t have ordered it. And that’s what I did this time.  I requested Victory once again.

Keep in mind that when a disc is obviously unplayable as this one was, and you have to wait on a replacement, you’re kind of getting screwed.  Because instead of a two day turn around, it turns into a four day turn around and you have no movie rental during that time.  Even longer if it takes more than one day for the disc to get to you.  It’s not a great policy but one I understand.  Give someone an extra disc for their inconvenience and you end up with people reporting bad discs on a regular basis.

So finally the discs comes for the second time.  Immediately upon taking it out of the envelope, I notice there is writing scrawled across the front and it is anything but a good sign

And when I took the disc out as you can see from the graphic at the top of the article, it was toast.  I didn’t know whether to be exasperated at Netflix or one not too bright customer.  One thing Netflix makes very clear.  Don’t put a note in an envelope, and don’t write on it.  Nobody will read it.  That’s why you go on the web site and report a problem.  And it’s not that hard.  Two clicks and you’re done.  Practically everything at Netflix is done by machine, and if a human does sort the envelopes, they sure as hell don’t have time to read them from the few rare videos I’ve seen about the inner workings of Reed Hastings baby.

Obviously something was wrong with the disc before they even shipped it out.  It was had to at least have been badly scratched  up when some not too bright dingbat customer sent it back.  If only half the movie played, this person couldn’t realize that there was a serious problem?  Have people become that irrationally ignorant that they would actually think Netflix would send out half the movie?

So I get left holding the bag and now I had to decide whether I wanted to send it back and try for Victory again, or just get something else.  On top of that, when I report it, they’ll obviously pull the disc and surely must think I’m the dumb ass who wrote a message across the envelope.   I’m tempted not even to let them know, but then I would probably be putting the next person to get the disc in the same position that I was in.  And I’m sure they would anonymously be cursing me as being the stupid idiotic customer who scribbled on the front of an envelope.

I ended up reporting it.  But I decided to give up on Victory for now and will be watching Stephen King’s Thinner instead.  Or Christine.  Or the original Mighty Joe Young.  All fodder for future reviews. 

Back in December, I rented the movie Victor/Victoria.  It was broken and I sent it back.  I didn’t report it  but I probably should have.  The reason I didn’t was just a couple of weeks before that I had received the Alfred Hitchcock film Torn Curtain.  And it too was cracked all to hell.   I reported it and ordered it again.  Maybe I was becoming afraid that if I had too many broken discs, Netflix would pull my membership.  I do know they will cancel your ass if you suddenly report too many “lost discs.”  Was this the same thing?

Several years back I ordered the movie Fathom from Netflix.  It was a movie with Raquel Welch that I had seen as a teenager.  The first disc arrived broken so I asked for a replacement.  The next disc came from somewhere in Texas.  It arrived broken as well.  I decided to try again, but the next disc had to be shipped all the way from New York to my place of residence in California.  All in all, it took two weeks before I received a copy of Fathom that was playable.  

Now, Fathom is no longer available on Netflix but that’s not unusual.  I have my doubts these days if they are replacing any catalogue titles at all.  But you may console yourself with my review or order the movie from Amazon while it’s still available at all.  It’s been in and out of print.  So I just ordered a copy from Amazon while it was on my mind.  The fact that it is coming from an outside seller (but handled and shipped by Amazon so it’s okay) does not bode well for the future availability of Fathom.   And I’ll probably just break down and buy a copy of Victory from Amazon as well since it’s less than six dollars at the moment.

I had a grand total of seven broken discs from Netflix last year, and already have had two this year.  Once upon a time I was averaging one a year, and that one included discs that just wouldn’t play although there was no visible breakage.  There comes a time when you begin to wonder if it’s money worth spending since Hastings doesn’t even seem to even believe in that side of the business anymore.  That along with the fact that the catalog titles are starting to dwindle down as I see the word “saved” more and more every day.  I’m just not that enamored of the streaming selection that it would keep me around.  But we’ll see what happens.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The White House is Down, But Apparently Not Out.

Director Roland Emmerich is at it again.  He destroyed the White House in Independence Day.  He then froze it over in The Day After Tomorrow.  And just for good measure, he took it out again in  2012.
And now, he places it under attack again with the movie White House Down which stars Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx, and Maggie GyllenhaalIMDB describes the film this way:

While on a tour of the White House with his young daughter, a police officer (Channing Tatum) springs into action to protect his child and the president (Jamie Foxx) from a heavily armed group of paramilitary invaders.
I'm not one to be posting much in the way of videos anymore. Every time I go through my old posts, all I see is those dreaded words "this video is not available" for whatever reason.

What really pisses me off though is when they are on YouTube, but the powers that be won't let you embed them on your blog.

This happened on my West Side Story review. I had about three videos that I found on YouTube when I originally wrote it and they worked fine. When I checked it this past week to make it my movie pick of the week on my Facebook page, the videos no longer worked unless you went directly to you tube. So I just edited the review and took the videos out which is probably what I'll do whenever I have time on some of the others. But I won't be using too many videos when I can keep from it.

But whatever. The White House is Down. Let's hope Emmerich isn't flushing it down the bad movie commode.  Maybe I’ll review one of those previous efforts before June 28.  We shall see. 

Release date in the United States is scheduled for June 28, just in time for the Fourth of July. That figures. Having practically destroyed the planet, at least now it appears Emmerich has narrowed his focus somewhat. We shall see.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Random Thoughts: Liberal Blog Fail: Unrapping the McWrap

If you read my article regarding the McDonald’s McWrap, I was speaking strictly from my own personal experience. I don’t claim to be a food expert of any kind.  But I do know enough to at least try to find out a little something regarding the subject matter before I run it up to the old blog and see if anybody salutes.  Which is why I made it a point to look up the calorie count and fat content before I wrote it.

People make mistakes.  Sometimes they are unavoidable.  Sometimes they come from carelessness.  Other times mistakes come about simply through willful ignorance.  All those I can handle.  For instance, if somebody comes to me with some factoid that they learned from Fox News, and knowing the history of Fox News the way I do, I automatically assume that chances are pretty good I’ll have to do my own research. 

I often visit progressive blogs because they present a viewpoint that I happen to concur with.  But I also hold them to a pretty high standard and expect them to make every effort to be as accurate as they possibly can.   

It is also the reason I watch and love Rachel Maddow.  Yes, she has a certain viewpoint, but in every presentation that she broadcasts she systematically backs up her stories with as many facts as she possibly can.  And if she makes a mistake or was given misinformation, she corrects it on the air and does her best to set it right.  When was the last time someone on Fox News corrected a story?  They just don’t do it which is typical from a network that pulls most of their coverage out of their ass.  Making corrections is not in the Fox Manual.

But anybody can fall prey to doing crappy journalism.  Back in 2008, during the primaries, many Progressive Blogs became the left equivalent of Fox News.  Their viewpoint, and only their viewpoint was acceptable.  Anybody who dared to support Hilary Clinton was shoved aside or totally cast out.  Often, many of the stories being written regarding Hilary were either full of innuendo, supposition, or important details were cast aside so that the story they were telling would fit the narrative they wanted to convey.  Doing it unintentionally is one thing, but doing it purposely to offer up a story that while it may be somewhat factual on the surface, there are underlying and mitigating factors that would let you know there was more to this then meets the eye.  There were many progressive sites I just flat out quit reading for several years, and there are many I have not gone back to this day.  But that’s a story for another day and for my other blog.

I bring all this up because two days after having written my story on the McWrap, I ran across a similar narrative at Think Progress, a political blog that disseminates news with a liberal slant.  That story was written by someone named Annie-Rose-Strasser.  Here is what I wrote in my little piece on the McWrap:

It’s suppose to be McDonald’s answer to Subway.  But consider this:  A Black Forest 12” Ham Sub with Swiss Cheese, Mustard, on wheat has 730 calories.  But it’s very filling.   Two of the Sweet Chili McWraps would be 720 calories.  So it just depends on what’s enough for you.  Also, at $3.99 two wraps would be $7.98.  Whether you eat one McWrap or two, I think your money would be better spent elsewhere especially when you consider that the 12 inch Ham Sub can still be had for $5.00 where I live.

At think Progress, their conclusion was that Premium McWraps are without a doubt absolutely 100 per cent terrible and a complete snow job by McDonald's to sell unhealthy food and make you think that the McWrap is way more nutritional than it is.  Or maybe they just want us to know that they’ve got something on the menu better than a Big Mac, Quarter Pounder, or McDouble.

I’m not going to argue with Ms. Strasser’s conclusion.  McDonald’s has made millions selling unhealthy crap and I’m sure McDonald’s is marketing the McWrap as being healthier than it probably is.  But,  in order for Think Progress to draw it’s conclusions regarding this one particular product, they  had to leave out some rather important details.  No, make that a lot of details in order to make the McWrap look as bad as they possibly could.   Consider this.

There are in fact three different McWraps, each with the choice of crispy chicken or grilled chicken. As I mentioned in my article, there are about 150 less calories and a whole lot less fat when you purchase the ones with the grilled chicken.   So while they may not be the greatest choice for your diet, if you buy the McWrap with the right variations, it’s just not as bad as Think Progress and Ms. Strasser would have you believe.

Ms. Strasser also finds a few paragraphs to blast Subway as well.  She talks about “calorie averaging” and green packaging then blathering about the worst products at Subway while not once mentioning that there are some very good alternative choices.  For instance, instead of saying Subway is entirely evil, wouldn’t it serve just as well to say stay away from the meatball sub and stick to the vegetarian sub?  Or better yet, maybe Miss Strasser has never been in a Subway since she fails to mention that you can also get a pretty good and very healthy salad at a pretty reasonable price with nothing but vegetables?  For lunch today I had a 12” Black Forest Ham with Swiss Cheese but no condiments that while loaded with salt did only come to 660 calories and 17 grams of fat.  But that was a meal, it filled me up, and it leaves me plenty of room for dinner.  And at 17 grams of fat, I’m still 38 grams below my recommended intake for the day.

As with the McWraps, she totally ignores the fact that there are choices there as well, choosing only to focus on the worst case scenario.  Not once is grilled chicken as an alternative mentioned for the McWrap.  Nowhere is the Sweet Chili Grilled Chicken McWrap at only 360 calories and only 9 grams of fat mentioned.  Instead she refers only to the crispy chicken McWrap “pictured above” which has 590 calories and 44 percent of your fat intake for the day.  My guess it is the Bacon Chicken McWrap, which has exactly 590 calories and 29 grams of Fat. 

Look, I have no problem with someone writing an article blasting Fast Food or McDonald’s.  But when you only tell half the story and leave out pertinent details for your hit piece, in my book, that makes you as bad as any advertising  agency.  Actually it makes you worse, because there was really no reason to at all to do it it.   And that as far as I’m concerned, makes you look bad, and any story I read on Think Progress from now on as being suspect. 

Crossposted at my blog Corporate Owned USA.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Clyde’s Movie Palace: Silent Hill (2006)

Directed by Christophe Gans
Written by Roger Avary
Cinematography by Dan Laustsen

I used to play video games like Silent Hill. There was an occasion that I had the time to play those types of immersive video games. I even managed to make it to the end of a handful of them if I had a really good cheat sheet by my side. Usually I would get bored by the time I hit level 1,150 and end up putting the game on the shelf to collect dust. On the rare occasions when I did make it to the finish line, I was usually treated to some CGI cinematic telling me why I had spent a few hundred hours working on that particular quest. Sometimes the explanation was a bit murky, didn’t explain much of anything, and was just setting me up for the inevitable sequel in the hopes that I’d run down to the video game store, part with my hard earned dollars, and do it all over again.

That seems like eons ago. Games have become way more sophisticated, graphics have advanced to the point where that the line between CGI and reality has become blurred, while game companies have discovered that a lot of their clientele will go along with just about anything to get their hands on the new shiny “Let’s shoot the crap out of everybody” video game and sell you all the downloadable overpriced micro transaction crap that we can, Sucker!

The only real video game I’ve spent much time with in the past five or six years has been The Sims. And after pretty much leaving it on the shelf for two years because of the price-gouging, shoddy quality control business practices of 2012 Worst Company in America, Electronic Arts, I’ve only recently begun having another go at it now that those overpriced stuff and expansion packs can be had for half of their SRP if you just wait a week or two. Yes, lesson learned.

But we’ll leave my gaming complaints for now and save my treatise on how video game companies have made screwing over customers their priority number one for another day. The fact is that way too many gamers  have extended an open arms policy to allow themselves to get screwed over and share much of the blame for bad business practices, will be left for that essay as well.  If in fact I do ever get to it.

Upon finishing many games, endings that were often murky or just plain idiotic, weren’t much of a reward for having put so much time into that particular form of entertainment. That also sums up how I feel about the film version of the once popular Silent Hill series.

It’s one long video game except that you don’t play you only watch, there’s a big video flash back at the end to explain everything, and then there’s an afterthought non-ending type finale tacked on just in case the producers were ever to get around to making Silent Hill The Movie Part II. And six years later they have done just that calling it Silent Hill II: Revelations.  Whether it actually reveals anything remains to be seen.

The film opens quickly and wastes no time in getting to the point. Sharon, (Jodelle Ferland) the adopted daughter of Rose and Christopher Da Silva, (Radha Mitchell and Sean Bean) has been having nightmares, sleepwalks, and the only thing she has to say about it is “Silent Hill.” Rose, being ever so clever, discovers that Silent Hill is a ghost town in West Virginia. (As often as West Virginia seems to pop up in these movies one would think they should start collecting royalties instead of taxes.)
After medications and psychiatry offer no relief along with the fact that Sharon is seeing fiery visions and childlike demons beneath a waterfall that her daughter may or may not take a Tarzan type dive off of, Rose decides to take the screwed up kid to the real Silent Hill just to see if she can find the answers that will help cure her somnambulism. I mean, isn’t that what any loving parent would do for their child? Personally, I’d take my chances with the highway traffic and the cliffs every night. May the odds be forever in your favor.

But we do eventually find out that the reason Silent Hill is a ghost town is because there have been coal fires burning underneath for about thirty years. Or maybe it’s polluted because West Virginia has never been one of those states where air quality is far from being utmost on their agenda.  They have that whole coal thing going on don’t you know.  You reap what you sow.
Just outside of Silent Hill Rose gasses up her car and meets police officer Cybil Bennett (Laurie Holden), who is also wearing the funkiest leather cop uniform since Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS. I thought for a moment she was just moonlighting from her job at the local strip show but no, she is just a cop.

Rose heads up the road with her daughter, is stopped by Bennett because inquiring policewomen who wear tight buttock hugging leather pants want to know why a mother is out hauling her daughter into a ghost town in the middle of the night, especially when the roads leading into the town have been blocked off for ages. Undeterred, Rose hops into her car then rams the gate blocking the road while Officer tight pants, uh I mean Bennett, gives chase. It is then that a shadowy figure of a young girl darts across the road causing Rose to spin out, wreck, hit her head, and lose consciousness.

When she awakens her daughter is missing (who would have guessed?) and thus begins our long seemingly never ending journey. Rose immediately knows she’s not in Kansas anymore and so do we. The town is covered in a dense smoky fog (Surprise! Just like the video game!) with falling ash that looks like it was left over from Mt. St. Helens. Harry Randall Truman could tell you all about that, if he wasn’t just a whole lot dead due to his insistence on having a front row seat when Helen blew her stack. Harry had a choice, his 16 cats? Not so much. Adios, amigos. Goodbye kitty kitty kitty kitty kitty kitty kitt kitty kitty kitty kitty kitty kitty kitty kitty. 
Rose chases creepy figures running in and out of the alleys and buildings. One of these is a young girl the same age as her daughter (surprise, surprise again!). Gans keeps the little monster sufficiently in the dark so we can never really tell if it’s Sharon, somebody else, or some ten year old selling girl scout cookies.

Rose is sort of and sort of not attacked by some glow in the dark critters that might remind you of naked Jawas with claws. I say this because we’re never really sure if any of these events are actually happening, and what happens to the Jawas does nothing to dispel that notion.

At one point Rose retraces her steps back to the entrance of the town, only to find out that the road leads to a dead end.

Rose eventually hooks back up with Officer Cybil who for some inexplicable reason (meaning this is one of those mysterious things that happen where in the end you supply your own explanation because you’re not going to get one) doesn’t show up until about fifteen or twenty minutes later and promptly handcuffs Rose to haul her back to the county jail. Or something along those lines.
It goes without saying that these two aren’t headed anywhere out of town for a while since a crater that would give the Grand Canyon a run for their money has appeared and blocks their escape route.

Meanwhile, over in the normal dimension where you and I reside, hubby Chris who was left behind so that he could dig around and gather up some useless clues for himself and us, explores Silent Hill with the police who besides looking for Rose and Sharon, would also like to know what happened to their favorite patrol woman in tight leather pants.

We know right away that their quest is going to fail because unlike the world inhabited by the three ladies, and despite having found Rose’s car, there is no falling ash and no smoky fog blanketing Silent Hill, only a constant driving rain storm, thus confusing us even further from having any hope at all for a rational explanation for this mess. Mystifying, isn’t it?  Excuse me while I stifle a rather big yawn.

“You have no idea what’s going on,” Rose tells Officer Cybil at one point. Well, welcome to the club Miss Leather Pants. Ya got any more deep insights for us, Rose.
I have to admit that initially I found the film somewhat creepy. Director Christophe Gans does a good job of setting the atmosphere with some great help by cinematographer Dan Laustsen, some good special effects, not to mention some nifty sound effects and editing. Creepy creatures appear and disappear, an air raid siren blasts away making things a bit tenser, a juke box plays for no reason, Rose walks around with nothing but a cigarette lighter to light her way and for a while each corner she turns fills you with a sense of dread until suddenly you realize that not unlike a video game where you have to sacrifice your life a few gazillion times to find the right clues and the perfect tool to help you with a narrow escape to make it to the end, Rose will somehow manage to find all that stuff and not sacrifice her life once. There’s no saves or reset button in movies as of yet.
There’s much but not very subtle religious symbolism in the film as well. A lighted crucifix shines distinctly in the background after Rose rescues Sharon from the cliffs. There’s a religious sign with a quote from Corinthians as our adventurous family finds their way to Silent Hill. Apparently someone has an angel fixation. 

Sharon draws creepy pictures with color pencils that are meaningless to anybody including her since she has no memory of having drawn them. She must be hell on wheels with Crayola Crayons.

Before we even get to Silent Hill, Gans and Laustsen often fill their backgrounds with Blinding White Light light giving even these scenes a dream like quality. Why? I don’t really know, but it is all kind of artsy fartsy and gave gamers something to debate for years.

Early in the movie before they depart on their not so incredible journey to Silent Hill, Rose and Sharon doze off under a tree. I think this could mean one of two things. Either it signified that everything that comes afterwards is a dream, or maybe it’s our cue to take a snooze ourselves. If it’s the latter, you should have no problem. If they are dreaming this mess, cue Bobby Ewing taking a shower.

Once it becomes apparent that we are here only to watch Rose attempt to find the light at the end of the video game tunnel and whatever take it or leave it explanation writer Roger Avary decides to give us, it won’t be long before you’ll be looking at your watch and wanting to yell at our dynamic duo to get on with it. By the time Rose and Cybil do, you’ll have sworn you were in the theater longer than it would take you to actually play the game even though the movie runs just a bit over two hours. Way too long for a film of this sort. Bring extra popcorn.

It's a shame too because both Mitchell and Holden give it their all and you keep wishing the movie itself was better than it is and that the story actually deserved the good effort the two ladies put into it. As for Jodelle Ferland, I can’t say I was disappointed to see her disappear once we get to the Silent Hill scenes.  Before that, she didn’t exactly exude charm anyway.

Eventually you’ll sort of find out what’s going on but even then I’m not sure you’ll understand it. It’s only a partial explanation as to what may or may not have once went on in Silent Hill, but does nothing to clear the mystery regarding most of the events. Maybe Gans thinks he’s Kubrick.  Maybe this movie is only for people who played the series.  Maybe, maybe, maybe.

Those who have played the game might just get it, but I’m not about to start playing Silent Hill when Eternal Darkness and my game cube haven’t been revved up in about seven years. Then again, I wouldn’t count on fans of the game to be able to give you an in depth analysis either.

I visited one message board shortly after I saw the film at the time of its original release. There were about seven or eight die hard Silent Hill fans dissecting the movie as if they were earning a PHD in Film Surgery 101. And lo and behold, there were also seven or eight different explanations which tells me they are just as clueless as the rest of us. And you know what that means. If I’m not only bored but clueless as well I have no choice but to bestow upon you my grade which for Silent Hill is a C-. And whether or not the sequel clears thinks up, well only time and my DVD player will tell.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Random Thoughts: Rapping on the McWrap, Clean Those Nozzles, and Losing it….pounds that is.

I’m back on my diet.  My weight had shot up to 320 lbs and it was time to jump start my body and nip my horrendous weight gain in the bud.  I’d really gotten back into some terrible eating habits since I had an operation last year.  I was well past due for a change in habits. 

So far things are going well.  I’ll have finished my first four weeks by next Tuesday and I will let you know how I’m doing then. 

I did stop at McDonald’s today but not for their 100% ground beef.  My purpose was to buy one of the fantastically delicious $1.00 Large Diet Cokes  (Please note the heavy sarcasm.) However, since McDonald’s continues to downsize the cups, the $1.00 special is not  such a great bargain anymore.  As a matter of fact, I only stop to get one on those days when I’ve run out of diet drinks at home which makes it at most, a temporary fix while I wait for my new plasticized bottle supply to chill out.

Point of Fact:  The Diet Cokes at my local McDonald’s taste like crap.  Why?  I do not know.  Then again, for some reason most of the fountain sodas at fast food joints taste like they were strained through a hair clogged drain.  Maybe they aren’t cleaning the mold and other crud off their nozzles.  Or cleaning them at all.  And if it’s self serve, I don’t even want to scare you with the horror stories of what might be on those suckers.

According to this article by some guy named Dr. Oz (apparently no relation to the great and powerful wizard):

While many would guess that the bathroom must be the dirtiest place in a fast food restaurant, public health commissioner Peter DeLucia tells viewers that it’s actually the nozzles at the soda fountain. This is due in part to fast food employees rarely clean multi-part nozzles properly, and in part due to that soda nozzles are an ideal habitat for many microorganisms because of the wet, sugary niche a soda fountain nozzle provides.

“It’s a perfect breeding ground for mold and bacteria,” say Mr. DeLucia.

In addition, he also points out that the ice chute and ice bin are rarely cleaned, and that too often employees will stick their hands in the ice bin scooping out ice with your cup rather than use an ice scoop.

And take it from someone who has had experience. If those suckers aren't cleaned, they can get  nasty rather fast. I once worked in a convenience store and we were required to clean the soda nozzles without fail on a daily basis.  I've gone into some places though where the amount of mold and crap on the nozzles made me ill enough to turn around and walk out.  This happened to me once at a Taco Bell some years ago.   The nozzles were covered with so much mysterious black crud that I felt compelled to call Taco Bell Headquarters out of concern for my fellow human beings.  No, I didn’t call to get a free meal out of it, and an apology, both of which I received.  I went back about a week later and those nozzles were sparkling and shiny as if they were brand new.  Maybe they were.  Now after writing and researching the above paragraphs, my days of drinking fountain drinks may be over with.

I’ve gotten way off track, but if you’ve hung around here before, that’s my normal behavior.  Anyway, I’m going through the drive-thru at McDonalds and I notice they have the new large Chicken McWraps.  I had read about them a few days ago and that they were had been test marketed and would soon be in all of the restaurants.   Apparently these delectable little tidbits had rolled their way all the way out here to bum fuck Egypt where I reside.  So, why not?   Certainly they couldn’t be as awful as the Fish McBites which I had partaken in just before I started my dieting.  That’s a whole different story, but since it’s obvious the Fish McMushBlandBites won’t be around much longer anyway, going into that subject matter would be a waste of time. 

The best way to describe the McWrap is that it’s the King Size Version of the snack wraps.  Or maybe we’ve been eating the miniature version of the McWrap all along and just didn’t know it.  If you’ve had the snack wraps you know that are the ones where if you order a dozen they might fill you up.  Or maybe not.

I settled on the Grilled Chicken Ranch McWrap because it appeared to be the one with the fewest calories.  I learned later it wasn’t.  It’s the Grilled Chicken Sweet Chili McWrap that comes in at just 360 calories.  My choice came in second at 430 calories, while the Grilled Chicken Bacon McWrap weighs in with 440 calories.  Substitute Crispy Chicken for the grilled and you have taken a sledge hammer to your diet by increasing your The McWrapcount by close to 150 calories. 

So I know you’re dying to ask me how it was.  It was in fact, not bad.  You could taste the chicken chunks so it wasn’t too skimpy there.  The ranch dressing tasted kind of sweet.  But I can’t say that there was anything about it particularly memorable.  Just your typical fast food in a hurry kind of crap.

So if you want nothing more than a quick snack for lunch, it’ll do.  Just don’t expect it to fill you up.  It’s suppose to be McDonald’s answer to Subway.  But consider this:  A Black Forest 12” Ham Sub with Swiss Cheese, Mustard, on wheat has 730 calories.  But it’s very filling.   Two of the Sweet Chili Mc
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Wraps would be 720 calories.  So it just depends on what’s enough for you.  Also, at $3.99 two wraps would be $7.98.  Whether you eat one McWrap or two, I think your money would be better spent elsewhere especially when you consider that the 12 inch Ham Sub can still be had for $5.00 where I live.    And if you can’t eat the whole thing you can eat half and save half for later.  Usually I have my own ham or turkey breast at home, and a loaf of Sara Lee’s 45 calorie bread which may be the greatest invention since Pillsbury made the dough boy. 

That’s it for the moment.   Don’t forget to like my Facebook Page