Monday, March 31, 2014

Winter's Tale (Fantasy Romance 2014)

I thought this movie would be some sort of far-fetched romance, but instead I got a full blown fantasy with no plot. This movie sucked. The story was lame, premise was lame, and it really offered nothing at all. Even a little kid would be able to see through the BS that this film was filled with. One second a guy is robbing a house and the next second the chick is saying shit about how she has never been kissed. No fucking way does that ever happen...even with the chick is drunk will that happen.

Yeah no, no, no. It was an unbelievable mess, but I stuck around to witness the unrewarding ending.
Rating - D

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Heart of Matter (Odyssey One) by Evan Currie (Book 2012)

Great continuation to the series. Added a substantial amount of depth to the original book and sets up the plot for the 3rd book. All of the characters stayed the same so it's all good. Just plot, action, and more space-fairing adventure.
Rating - High

Sunday, March 23, 2014

47 Ronin (Action 2013)

Yeah there's totally a reason why this movie was in and out of the theaters in under a month. The story and premise of this film had so much potential but somehow it was just shat out improperly.

Costume design was terrific as well as cinematography in a few key shots, but man, the majority of scenes were boring and trite. Keanu had a handful of sentences and his acting was lacking, all of the Japanese peeps in it spoke English which was interesting, but it worked, and the fighting and action eventually got repetitive and old. The ending sucked and it felt like a waste of time after watching it. At least the preview looked good...
Rating - D

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Last Vegas (Comedic Drama 2013)

This one was an airplane movie or else I probably wouldn't have watched it. It reminded me of Grumpy Old Men in terms of humor and pace meaning that guys of a certain age group would enjoy it much more than others.

The whole Vegas atmosphere didn't help with the realism because it seemed too implausable that all of these 70+ year old peeps would be partying it up with the "crowd" that exists in Vegas. But then again people are attracted to money.

As a comedy it wasn't that funny, as a drama it was just OK, and as as a movie it wasn't very good; but not horrible either.
Rating - C

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Hawaii Vacation

So I've been to Hawaii once a long time ago when I was a wee little tike, but it wasn't to a resort so this was the first time going there as a real tourist. Was it fun? Yeah it was good, much better than the cruise trip, but like all vacations, we always have to return to the real world sometime.

So I'll go through the booking process since there were many questions that I had that were left unanswered unless I experienced it first hand. I went through Costco, American Express, and USAA to try to find the best deal on the flight/hotel, and I think the American Express one won out. They were mostly close but I think the Costco one was the most expensive. Now the next question would be, is it better to buy everything as a package or separately. I actually think it doesn't make a difference in this case. The tickets and hotel could've been purchased apart from each other and they both added up to the total. There may have been little charges that everyone adds in, but for the most part I didn't see any game changers.

For this trip I had no idea what I was doing so I went and booked with the Hilton Hawaiian Village since it was the cheapest and it had everything included in one area meaning that things were guaranteed to be close. Was this needed? No. Turns out that vicinity was the only thing it had AND we didn't really even use any of it. It had a private lagoon where you could rent paddleboards, little boats, kayaks, inner tubes, etc. but it cost around $30 per 30 min so unless you are rich as fuck or want to ditch some kids for an hour or so, why pay that? Next the beach wasn't as "private" as I thought it was. It wasn't very crowded since there weren't that many peeps flooding the area, but we noticed many people from other hotels invading the beach. Everything was very "open" as well so there aren't any private doors or gates or whatnot. A total nobody can wander in/out of the "resort" and nobody would ever notice. When we left we were charged a $30 resort fee per night so that sucked. Watch out for that on the booking. I remember reading this but ignored it since I had my sights set on this location, but in the future it should be highly factored into any hotel price total.

So in the end it's really about location and what you want to do. We were there to look around a bit and go shopping. We picked the Waikiki Beach area since that was where all the action was happening. There are 2 primary shopping areas. The first was a huge-ass mall called Ala Moana Center which had every store on Earth practically. The second was this street called Kalakaua that had a shitload of shopping and smaller malls. A lot of peeps wandered around this area as well. For a sub-5% tax rate, shopping in this state was quite good in terms of prices. That and all products were a bit cheaper than they are on the mainland.

Food was a different story. We tried out everything from fancy-dancy places that cost $100 for two peeps, mall food, side street food, a buffet, and then $55 for a super good seafood place located above a 7-Eleven called Fook Yuen Seafood Restaurant. So here is how it boils down. Don't go to any name brand place like a P.F. Changs, Red Lobster, or Subway because you're just going to be disappointed with the inflated prices. Eating at mall shopping centers have more variety but the food is still mall food even though the prices are over $10 and that fact tries to convince your brain that the food is somehow of better quality. The ultra fancy places are so not worth it as the food tastes mediocre and you are paying for a better dressed waiter and whiter napkins. The buffet was a mistake because we were starving. The food places located within the confines of the resort suck as well and are merely overpriced fast food. What you should do is find smaller Japanese Noodle Shops or go to this Fook Yuen Seafood place because it was the only location that I was actually happy with. Of course you have to buy a ton of Macadamia Nuts as a nightly snacky food even though they cost around $23 for a pack of 6.

Weather was wonderful. I didn't even feel the humidity although my skin was way softer. I didn't even get a headache once during the trip. I had pondered renting a car or not, and it was good that I didn't. Driving looked to be hella bad and there were so many streets that had lanes that would abruptly end. I would be quite frustrated with driving in this touristy area and definitely on their single freeway. There are trolleys that take you here and there. It cost $2 per person to get a one-way pass so that wasn't so bad assuming you weren't gallivanting around too much. There were shuttle buses that could take you further away, but that shit was like $30 per one-way trip and that sounded like way too much although I have no idea how much a taxi would cost to get to the same location. We ended up walking around a lot so that soreness got better after the first day. Comfy shoes as opposed to flip flops is a must for this, but you still need flip flops for the beach and for light wandering around.

One funny thing I noticed was that half of the population of Japan was wandering around this whole area...I mean everything was written in English and Japanese too...never seen that before. I guess it's a big tourist destination for them as well.

In terms of people, the waiters and waitresses at restaurants were pretty lazy and slow as fuck. Don't know what is up with that but everything seemed to be done in a non-punctual manner. They were either way too chill, some were definitely high, or they all just didn't give a fuck. We actually got "tricked" into eating at this one sketchy, newly-opened restaurant where the whole wait staff had no idea what the fuck they were doing. I only went in since the pied piper chick who was hawking her restaurant on the corner said that she had breakfast food there. It's hard to fuck up an omelet, but they actually did.

The only touristy area we went to was the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial and the visitor's center at Pearl Harbor. Pretty educational stuff there, but it's just like most touristy locations. The sunken ship wasn't much to look at; they should've established a see-through underwater tunnel, like in Jaws 3, to make it more visual instead of only being able to view the top of the ship.

The trip lasted for 4 nights and I think that was perfect. The last day almost got repetitive and that's when you know that you've maxed out. Our trip back was horrible since the plane didn't take off and just sat there on the runway as the pilot said they were working on some "navigation glitch". Everyone has a cell phone compass, so just fly East...not that hard buddy. We ended up going back to the gate for fuel and them saying that all was well. 2-3 hours later we took off and everyone missed their connections since the plane got into SFO at 11PMish. So yeah United Airlines, you can eat shit. No compensation for the hassle, a replacement ticket for a 8:15AM flight the next morning, no hotel, a few food vouchers (that couldn't be used until 4-5AM), 2 thin blankets, and 3 cans of free soda later, I was well on my way to sitting there uncomfortable in an airport for the duration of the evening.

Had to take an additional day off of work because I was a zombie when I got home, but all kinda OK refreshed now. Back to getting on that horse and to pay off the insane CC bill that will be coming through...vacations.

My Way (Foreign Korean War Action Drama 2011)

So this movie was OK even though some scenes were a bit over the top. It followed around a Japanese and Korean soldier during WWII as they both became a part of three separate armies by getting captured or through differing circumstances. Crazy part was that it was very loosely based on this Korean Soldier who was actually in the same situation back in the day.

The movie was good with regards to story and special effects. Very Korean-esque if you've ever watched some of their better war flicks.
Rating - B

Thursday, March 13, 2014

I, Frankenstein (Action 2014)

It's pretty humorous to go from a great drama to a silly fantasy film that should've never been created. Yeah this movie was pretty stupid even though I do like my fantasy films. You have these angel/gargoyle things fighting humanoid demons in the modern world; what an original setting. You then shove a golem version of Frankenstein into the mix and there you have it...an utter mess of special effects and a joke plot. The producer is the same person who did Underworld, but at least in that movie you had Kate Beckinsale filling in the gaps. You get nothing like that with this movie; Aaron Eckhart is not a person you can stare at for 2 hours.
Rating - D

Monday, March 10, 2014

12 Years a Slave (Drama 2013)

Great acting. That's the main takeaway from this film. Story was good and well put together, but Chiwetel Ejiofor took the cake for making it all happen. I won't go into detail as to the whole storyline since all that is self-explanatory by now, but let's just say that it was all very believable. It was a bit slow, but the pace was in-line with this type of drama.
Rating - A

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Into the Black (Odyssey One) by Evan Currie (Book 2012)

Pretty good start to a new series here. In this futuristic world, humans have populated the solar system, but have not yet left our galaxy. The Odyssey One is the first ship that has some integrated engine tech that has the ability to jump systems, so it's kinda like warping in the Star Trek Universe. Either way the ship is a massive one that is all about exploring, science, and of course combat; so it's like a spaceship aircraft carrier.

The crew sets off, goes exploring, finds one race at war with another, and helps out. The writing style is very similar to how Currie wrote the Warrior's Wings series that I just finished so it's solid and entertaining. This will definitely be a series I continue on with.
Rating - High

Friday, March 07, 2014

Primary Leak

So this turtle looking thing is a part of the catalytic converter and boy was it a bitch to get to and remove. I swear everything on this car seems to want to prevent me from completing any goal that I set for myself. When I started I was unable to fully remove this part from the exhaust system because my sockets could not reach the bolt. I then figured out that the silver part was a heat shield and those 4 bolts that can be seen in the picture had to be loosened in order for me to wiggle my socket into place for the bolt. I don't know of all this stuff is tribal knowledge that real mechanics learn but man did I learn the slow and hard way.

Here is the view of the exhaust from the bottom with the catalytic converter removed. It's amazing how much visibility becomes available the second a part is removed. That's definitely something I don't like about working with cars. More than half the battle is getting to a set location and moving everything out of the way.

So after looking around and examining wetness patterns, I followed everything back to the oil filter, where there is a large circular piece of metal connected to it called the oil cooler which has coolant running through it. The larger majority of the leak originated from this area and not the turbo, which is the location I had originally believed the leak was coming from.

So the oil cooler area is split up into 2 separate parts, and each part has 2 rubber gaskets that need to be replaced. So much work to get these off. I have now ordered a bunch of parts needed to put everything together and then hopefully it will stop this leak.

I have to be honest and state that this is not as much fun as I originally had thought it would be. I have had a bunch of eurekas that have given me more insight as to car maintenance and car tinkering so that's good; but overall I am not thrilled with what I've discovered.

I'm getting to the point where I'd rather just pay someone to get the car back to an A-OK functioning state and just save the easier tasks for myself. But the annoying part is the cost of labor, and knowing that the labor isn't hard; it's just exhausting to need to remove x parts to get to one small-ass area and that you need x special tools to accomplish all of the needed tasks. I can't tell you how many times I've been to the tool store to get some random-ass part and then have the part not really work that well. On top of it there is no real room to work because you're under the car all contorted and have mere inches to move your fingers around. Let me tell you how much leverage you have in such a position; close to none. I wonder how much easier a car is to maintain if the engine located in the front because lemme tell you, this mid-engine crap sucks. Do mechanics just drop the engine to work on stuff if they discover their working room is too limited?

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag (PS4 Game 2013)

Yeah this game is a large pile of "no". I remember playing the first AC back on PC and getting bored of it fairly quickly. That same thing happened to me with this game. As much as I tried to play through the main quest-line, I found it way too tedious and much of the same thing.

Ship fighting dynamics got repetitive, sword fighting was more annoying than enjoyable, and yeah the story was not engaging at all. I could see a younger version of me enjoying this game more-so, but I think as I get older I really need a good story or good gameplay in order to remain interested.

So yeah yet again I'll be sitting here with a PS4 with nothing to put in it. I sure hope that games start coming out for it or else it will be yet another depreciating piece of technology.
Rating - Low