Saturday, June 23, 2007

Bee Negative

I realize that I'm in the middle of my super New York saga, but I had to interrupt in order to talk about something current. A long time ago (current?), after buying movie tickets from, *shocker*,, I was asked if I wanted to be added to a list for invitations to movie preview screenings. What the hell, right? I joined.

I got a few invites; Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson movies and whatnot. But all these screenings were pretty far away (whereever the hell Thousand Oaks is). Last week, however, an invite arrived for a screening in Brea. The email said it was a brand new animated movie from the people who made Madagascar. I RSVPed.

Now, anyone who knows me knows that I'm a huge animation fan. I'm just not a fan of Dreamworks stuff. I've only seen Shreks 1 and 2 and Antz. Any of their other stuff never appealed to me. You can only take so much pop culture jokes and crap.

Well anyway, today, when we got to the theater, there was a lot of buzz that we were seeing Ratatouille! And as immediate as a wallaby nibbling at your pits, a representative squashed those rumors with "It's not Ratatouille people!" It really sounded like, "Don't get your hopes up... it's only a Dreamworks film."

There were two showings available, one for guests with kids and the other for adults only. We saw people exiting from the first screening and they didn't look too ecstatic. Not too long after, we entered the theater, but not before going through a metal detector. NO CAMERAS ALLOWED! We got it.

Some Dreamworks rep stepped in front of the theater and told us that we were one of the very first audiences to see Bee Movie starring Jerry Seinfeld. This garnered tepid applause. Actually, "tepid" is too strong a word. And perhaps "applause" isn't the right word either. Her announcement received a few claps. I myself was hoping we were seeing Kung Fu Panda, but beggers can't be choosers.

The lady also warned that the movie was very far from finished and to use our imaginations, BUT she guaranteed that everything would be perfect when it hits theaters at the end of this year (good luck with that).

So if you can't tell from my tone by now, I really didn't like the movie. But let me tell you about the plot first.

Bee Movie is about a bee named Barry who has just graduated from whatever schooling bees go through. He's about to pick a job, but for bees, once you pick a job, you're stuck with that job for the rest of your life. So, before making that monumental decision, he decides to see life outside the hive. He ends up in an apartment and saved from being squashed by a woman named Vanessa. He becomes infatuated with her and decides to thank her (talking to humans is a very big no-no). He talks to her, she's surprised, they start talking about stuff. I don't want to ruin everything, but things end up where Barry sues the human race and then there's a big ecological message and it's over.

So why didn't I like this movie? Firstly, the animation feels very dated. Yeah, 90% of the movie was done in animatics or sketches, but there were many parts that looked complete. And judging based on these segments, it looks like the same stuff they've done years ago. The humor has some of Seinfeld's dry wit in there, but a lot of jokes fall flat. The entire movie just has a "been there/done that" feel. It just seems like the same old Dreamworks. As I checked my watch numerous times through the movie, I kept saying to myself "nobody asked for another bug movie."

Granted, the only thing I thought was refreshing was the whole bee/human love angle. Yes, it's ridiculous, but I thought it was pretty delightful, fresh, and promising. But the story veers from that and goes into boring territory. And don't even ask me about the preposterous airplane climax. Or why a "Bee Larry King" is supposed to be funny. I mean really, just slapping "Bee" in front of his name is supposed to be clever? And then there's the fact that all these animals are talking and no one seems to care. With Dreamworks, it's like they do anything for a joke. Who cares about consistency and logic. This is the same reason I don't really care for Family Guy much. It's funny, sure, but there's no real continuity there, so I could care less about the characters.

Yes, there were some funny bits, like dead bugs on a windshield, a bunch of bee puns, Patrick Warburton; I think that's about it.

After the movie, one lady behind me thought it was just fantastic and so funny. The fellas next to me thought it was merely okay, but not that funny and kinda boring. The family on the other side of me thought it was dumb and dull. We all had to fill out a survey and on mine, I honestly rated the movie pretty low. But I think it might score well with critics because the story is so out there and it's definitely geared toward adults. I mean, with Jerry Seinfeld yapping throughout the entire thing, you'd have to love him in order to get through this film.

Then again, this movie was a stark contrast from Ratatouille from Disney/Pixar, which I saw last week at a nationwide sneak preview. Ratatouille was so original, so beautifully and lushly animated, and cleverly funny. I saw it a week ago and have been thinking about it all week. I can't wait to see it again next Saturday.

So anyway, unless they drastically punch up the story and the animation gets eye-poppingly gorgeous, this movie should fizzle this winter.

Going back to our regularly scheduled program,


Friday, June 22, 2007

Misfortune Cookies: Flight Night

If you're just joining us, we last left when our heroes sped down the 60 freeway from a concert to catch a redeye flight.

When you fly the redeye, you should do all your pre-bed rituals pre-trip-to-the-airport. Having thought I'd have more time after the concert, I had packed just about everything in my luggage, yet left out my toiletries. I was to brush and floss my teeth and wash my face, then toss everything in a plastic bag which goes into my luggage--zip 'er up and go. Then I had my laptop bag in the Family Room next to my final checklist. It was a well organized set up.

However, when we got home, we found our bags already loaded into my uncle's truck, ready to go. But they did not know my plans to toss my toiletries in there, so I grabbed my toothbrush and toothpaste and pulled out a line of dental floss and pocketed it for later--ran down to some hot wonton packed for the car ride--grabbed a sweater, my camcorder, my camera, my wallet, and my phone. So basically, I'm carrying a billion things out the door and into a cramp truck.

Relief fell upon me as we pulled away from the house. We had made it, sort of. It didn't happen as ideally as I would have wanted it, but we were safely on the way to the airport for our flight.

We ate like little Bruce Lee boys on the way. Then halfway to the airport, a feeling of forgetting something.

"Did you guys load my laptop bag?" I asked and received silence in return.

That bag, my friends, was my sanity. I get really antsy on planes (and long car trips). I need a survival kit, so to speak. In my bag was my iBook, Nintendo DS, iPod, and magazines.

It was too late to turn back and get it, so I sucked it up and accepted that I could get through the flight and vacation without entertainment.

So we arrived at the airport and I moped into the terminal. We only had 50 minutes till our flight and the check-in line was huge! There was no way we'd get to the front in time. Then, the gentleman in front of us pointed at the scrolling LED message above the check-in counters:


Was I reading that right? It couldn't be true. Sure enough, the lady at the counter announced that due to thunderstorms, our plane was late to leave New York.


Needless to say, I was furious. It was fate's way of letting me stick around for that once in a lifetime moment and I blew it! If only I had believed in the miracle that the flight would be delayed and checked the status. It was a hard lesson learned.

So I was at the airport with nothing to do; everything was going wrong. I called my uncle Razor Ramon and asked, nay, begged him to go back to my house and deliver my laptop bag. He agreed and now I owe him and his family a nice Red Robin dinner. There was no way I was able to survive this thing without my fun stash.

And it only got worse. Our flight departure changed from 2:35AM to 4:00AM. So we checked in our bags and my family went up through security and to the gate, while I stayed behind to fetch my bag. So with four hours to burn and in the need to vent my frustration, I phoned Angel Wing Jasmine. Blabbing these details to AWJ made me feel better.

While we chatted, and she was half asleep, the gentleman who told us of the delay fell under a dizzy spell. And this got serious. He had to sit down on the luggage scale and was talking with security; his hand jittery. Suddenly, a whambulance and fire engine pulled up to the terminal. I gave AWJ the play-by-play as they whisked the man away. Apparently, the gentleman had a little too much to drink with his friends on his last day in California. Drinky. Drinky.

So to wrap things up in this saga segment, Uncle Razor Ramon came through and delivered my wonderful bag of stuff; I skipped joyously through security; was stripped searched in a dank room; rendezvoused with my family who had staked out an entire seat bench near the bathrooms; and we waited. We slept. We miserabled. We tossed and turned and bitched and moaned until 4 effing A M in the morn.

At least the flight was relaxing, no? Read on and see exactly how "relaxing" it was...

To Be Continued.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Misfortune Cookies: The Opening Act

Put away the pitch forks. I've got a perfectly good reason why I haven't been 'round these parts.

Two weeks ago, I bought a new camera and went through a shim load of drama and agony to get it. In a nutshell, I wanted to use a $100 American Express giftcard to purchase it from Amazon, but I couldn't figure out how to use it. It seems when I was about to buy, the price always jumped up from my planned price of $297. I eventually figured it out and had amazingly locked in the $297 price right before it jumped to $349. I was a happy victorious chum that night.

Which brings us to the reason I haven't posted in a while... I was originally writing a dedicated entry about how I got the camera called "My Amazon Win", but it got way too long, way too wordy, and way too boring. So I lingered on it for the longest time before I decided to scrap it.

Plus, I was in New York.

Yes sirs, Ellvin Jeremias Kelvin is a doctor! Well, not technically yet because he still has a class to make up. But close enough! We journeyed afar to attend his graduation where Amazing Grace gave a speech because of her Presidential status. But more on that later. This New York vacation has many twists and turns, so I've decided to tell it in several parts; the entire saga being called Misfortune Cookies, and you'll soon understand why.

So let's begin with something that I brought up in a past blog: The Rufio Concert Challenge. If you remember, my favoritous band Rufio played their last ever US concert on June 1, 2007 (the same night as our flight to NY). The plan was to pack early, attend the concert and hope that there weren't any opening acts, and leave at 9:30pm to get back in time to travel to the airport, no problems. So what happened?

Would you believe three fuckin' opening acts??? We got there early and the first band played at 7:55pm. Rufio didn't get on stage till around 10:05pm. I kept staring at my watch and praying that these opening bands would shut the hell up (especially the last one named Over It--man was I so "over" them--the lead singer pranced around and shimmied like a freakin' fairy). Seriously, these guys were like Neverland's Linkin Park. After three songs, the crowd was getting restless and chanting "RUFIO RUFIO RUFIO..." and the lead singer doesn't take the hint, joins in and says "Yeah Rufio will be right out after we play a few more songs." And here's the really annoying part. They wasted so much time with these stupid jokes about hanging out with Rufio and then announced that they were getting out of our hair with one last song. They played it, but then jumped into another song! I swear, I hope they go nowhere, which I'm sure will happen.

At around 9:30pm, I had lost hope, but Timotei insisted that we stay for at least one song or else we'd regret it. So that's what we did.

Rufio finally came on after a long transition set up (they took forever taping down wires, testing the mics, and tuning the guitars). Everyone was cheering. The place was a madhouse. Then, this total fat drunk fucker wedged himself in front of me. This guy was nasty times 40. He had total sweaty backfat boobs that rubbed against my arm. Then he tapped me and asked if I could give him a boost to crowd surf during the first song. I told him that I was only there for one song (and being that I was going to record it with my shiny Canon SD 800IS), I could not do it. Plus, I would have probably thrown out my back lifting that fat idiot. He went on to call me "weak." Whatever. I jumped in front of him to record the show.

Little did I know, my SD card was 1.6 or so gigabytes filled out of a possible 2.0. I had been using the SD card as a thumb drive to transfer files and left an episode of Office/Scrubs on it. So half way through the song, this is what I see:


With a curse and a whimper, I lowered my camera and signaled to Timotei that we should start leaving. We reached the front door as the song ended. I got my last glimpse at the band and bolted to the car. It was 10:18pm. I drove the fastest in my life and got home in 10 minutes.

Later I would find out that my video of the concert sounded like ass. So all was just terrible.

To Be Continued.