“You can’t kill me, I’m having a dinner party!”

The Perfect Host

What do you get when you take one part Niles Crane from the long-running series Frasier and combine it with two parts alternate history of Daphne marrying Donny and a complete mental breakdown? The Perfect Host, that’s what.

Just to clear things up before we delve into the meat of the movie, no, this isn’t a movie about a crazy Niles. But it does star David Hyde Pierce in a role that does seem to draw from Niles’ personality – and as you’ll see, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

The movie starts off with a fairly low-key getaway sequence as John Taylor (Clayne Crawford), a career criminal, executes a surprisingly well thought out series of steps to avoid drawing the cops down on him in a flurry of military hardware. An unplanned injury, however, leads to some big problems that leave John looking to lay low until the heat dies down.

A cheeky drop.Enter Warwick Wilson (Pierce), a well-to-do man in the midst of preparing a posh dinner party for his friends. John uses Warwick’s mail to socially engineer himself right through the front door and into his own personal hell.

The Perfect Host starts off a bit slow as it follows John trying to stay one step ahead of the police and smooth-talk Warwick before picking up steam when his impatience with his chatty host leads to his true identity coming out.

Maybe it’s my own personal bias – I love Frasier and Niles is my favorite character – but Pierce steals the scene whether he’s interacting with his party guests or contributing to what I’d imagine is a growing wish on John’s part that he’d just turned himself in. As Warwick he plays the nice guy so well you find yourself rooting for him to win out over the far more crass and abrasive John, ably played by Crawford as a man desperately grasping at control of a situation he lost control of the minute he rang Warwick’s doorbell.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usWhat other cast there is consists mostly of Warwick’s party guests (though none of them are really focused on enough to get a sense of who they are – for good reason) and two cops hot on John’s trail (one of whom is played by Joseph Will, who once upon a time had a role as Niles’ cousin in the fifth season Frasier episode “Beware of Greeks”).

It’s hard to talk about the movie without spilling details that would ultimately ruin the experience of watching it for the first time. Suffice it to say, it’s certainly funny and well worth the time you’ll spend watching it, especially if you happen to be a David Hyde Pierce fan with a perverse desire to see a Niles that has gone completely off his rocker. I will say the character of Warwick seemed a little wooden at first and the pacing seems a little off, but once the movie gets moving you’ll find yourself more than just a little amused as you watch him cheerfully abuse John throughout his posh dinner party.

Verdict: B+. The wooden start of Warwick really put a damper in my initial enthusiasm for the movie, but Pierce’s pitch-perfect delivery once we got to see who Warwick really is won me right back.

Rated R for language, some violent content and brief sexual material.

Froyo on myTouch is okay…

I was super excited to get a Froyo upgrade on the T-Mobile myTouch and even though they notified me in Septemberish it might be showing up soon I think I got it just before Thanksgiving.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Actually, it may have been a prophecy on what effect using Froyo on the nearly obsolete myTouch (no headphone jack) would have.  You get sleepy from eating too much turkey on Thanksgiving, so did the myTouch when having too much frozen yogurt.

Don’t get me wrong, I like finally having access to a better OS and I’m not blaming Froyo in the least, I’m blaming the myTouch’s mucho suckiness (which has done much to persuade me to ditch T-Mo completely when my contract is up.  Hello Verizon!)

It’s just that now my phone responds like my family after a big Thanksgiving dinner.  Barely at all.

I’ll list the grievances it brings in no particular order:

1. If your security screen is more complex than one dot, you’ll probably have to enter it a couple of times, because of lag.
2. Random system reboots.
3. Text messaging will become your least favorite program due to slowness and bugginess.
4. Answering calls will occasionally prove difficult.
5. Downloading from the market will occasionally prove difficult.
6. Count on all of your programs running slower.
7. Google Maps now takes 10x as long to open and use.
8. Count on staring at your background sans apps for several seconds if not occasionally a minute while it loads them.
9. Occasionally count on the same problem when you go to your apps section.
10. Hate that you can’t have the speed of 1.6 with the apps of 2.0+

Some Froyo-induced problems (I’m guessing):
1. Alarm clock takes longer to get to.
2. You can no longer use vibrate and silent in the same setting. It’s either set phone to vibrate OR silent. (Before I would just volume down to vibrate or one more notch to silent, convenient.)
3. Voice dialer (or whatever it’s called) only works with a bluetooth, which I have, but not on me 24/7.
4. Browser starts as small as possible on pages that aren’t mobile friendly.
5. USB connectivity will sometimes not appear when you’re plugged into a computer (I usually have to reboot the phone and then it will recognize it’s plugged in via USB, never a problem with 1.6).

The annoying stuff I have to go through with it reminds me of having to constantly buy a whole new Mac computer cuz when you installed OS 10.newest the old computer didn’t like it and ran slower. I guess that’s just technology, or maybe just less good phones.

But I’ve got some work arounds for those of you stuck in a contract you can’t wait to ditch when it comes time.

Auto Task Killer
This free gem is available on the market and let’s you end programs, like it says. Sometimes freeing up memory is like giving the myTouch a little coffee after the turkey dinner.

Text Messaging
*Limit the amount of texts your phone will save so it will delete some, that will speed things up just a hair.
*When I write a completely new message, sometimes when I try and type in the recipient it wigs on me and does the letters all screwy. Instead, leave that box for a second and type out the message first, then add a recipient. Works like a charm every time. Oh, and if your text is sluggish, wait a few more seconds, it’s like the phone has to catch up. I know, waiting sux.
*If you need to get a message out quick, use someone else’s phone. Unless you’ve already been texting the person and have the screen already open it will take longer than you’re used to.

Security Screen Wiggy
*Knowing that your screen is going to freeze or move slow, if it looks like it’s not following your finger anymore, just hold still on the dot your own for a second to let it catch up and then resume. Timing will be tricky on this, but if your phone does it often enough, you’ll get the hang of it.

Lastly, the best solution of all is ditch the myTouch as soon as you can. Get a phone with the latest Android OS on it, since it will have been designed to run at that efficiency.

And get used to counting on things taking forever to open, like an old Dell PC loading up. After all, you’re stuck with this phone, unless you’re cool with 2 more years of T-Mo, then just get a newer, better one–if they’ve got it.

Oh by the way. If you got an upgrade notification, but navigated away from the screen and are thinking, great I’m screwed, well, you’re not. Just go into settings>about phone>system updates. You should be able to continue the download.

Avatar: My Heart Remains Unobtained

Avatar is the story of a tribal indian princess named Pocahontas Naturey Neytiri who meets John Smith Jake Sullivan and has to teach him her tribe’s ways.  The guy she should have mated with, Kokoum Tsu’Tey (the one with the  mohawk), hates John Smith Jake Sullivan and would rather see him dead.  Plus the people John Smith Jake Sullivan works for are looking to obtain some gold unobtanium on the land Pocahontas’ Naturey’s tribe lives on.  Can John Smith Jake Sullivan learn to paint with all the colors of the wind see?

If you loved Avatar, this probably isn’t the review for you.  Just keep your brain turned off and click here to watch the Avatar trailer again to feel good.

There were a lot of things wrong with this movie, and Red Letter Media probably does it best in reviewing it, but I’ll still try and add my two cents if you can’t be bothered watching their review.

I’d forgotten Red Letter Media had already covered the ridiculous term “unobtanium” — probably because I didn’t know what it referred to because I saw the review before the film.  When the corporate bad guy said he was looking for ‘unobtain’ium I already found it difficult to take the movie seriously.

Secondly I found the over-the-top narrative monologues of the main character distracting to say the least.  It sounded like a hack version of Humphrey Bogart films from the 1940s.  The video logs helped to control the damage of this effect, but often it told us information that we already knew, like that Sigourney Weaver’s character was onto him, or just to help advance the plot when James Cameron was too lazy to do it in an original way.

Maybe James Cameron is trying to prove to the world that he’s super green by recycling plots?

Seriously, tell me how this isn’t an almost exactly copy of Pocahontas, Dances With Wolves–even Fern Gully.  Red Letter Media took it one step further and said it’s basically the same movie as Titanic.  I never would have thought about that, but they’re right.

Character A comes from world A, meets less civilized Character B who shows them something about life they never knew–and don’t forget the romance–then the people from world A end up destroying the less civilized people and Character A decides to abandon world A for Character B’s world’s ideals.

I was also insulted that he took the worst line of Titanic and made it the spiritual theme of the movie?  I see you.

I see Cameron mocking us for spending money on the same repackaged garbage.

In the end, I lost several hours of my life I’ll never get back, but I think the lesson has been learned.  If James Cameron is attached to the project, pass it by.  And watch the Red Letter Media review, seriously.  It does it far more justice than I ever could.

The Avatar Challenge

Once upon a time people challenged my dislike for Twilight because I hadn’t read the book.  It took me a while to shove enough of my complete disdain for what I was about to venture into, and still took me a month to read the first book of the Twilight series.  (I read Harry Potter Book 7 in less than 8 hours, so it wasn’t because I was a slow reader).

It was a lot more awful than I had anticipated.  I admit, I was planning to make fun of it in comic style later, but well, when you’re not paid to do it for a living finding the time… etc., etc.

Anyways, the same challenge has been laid before me now with James Cameron’s Avatar.  Hearing from most friends that while it had some pretty pictures, it generally is a boring rehash of Fern Gully, Dances With Wolves, and Titanic elements all in just under three hours.  (A reason I never bothered with King Kong.  I could watch 2 movies in the same amount of time I probably like better.)

I also recently watched a fairly scathing review from Red Letter Media, whom I completely agreed with on the two Star Wars reviews he’s posted, and have little reason to distrust his opinion on Avatar.  (Except he didn’t like the new Star Trek movie, but I suppose Star Trek is more polarizing when it comes to a reboot).

Anyways, I guess I’m going to trudge through Avatar, hopefully in one sitting.  I may take an intermission.  I plan to post the review, whether scathing or pleasantly surprised here.  Then hopefully those of you who don’t want to bother can say, “Hey, Dee thought the movie was going to suck and it did.”  Or grudgingly, “Well, I guess I’ll have to watch it.”

I know, my view of the movie is tainted, but you can thank the tired rantings of the global warming fanatic agenda–and I’ve heard James Cameron is one of the biggest tree huggers around–but I suppose time will tell.

Princesses, Frogs, and New Orleans = Happy

John Lasseter is probably the best thing to happen to Disney since Walt Disney.  Not only does he have a command of CGI art with Pixar, he respects the beauty of the original 2D art.  We get the original formula and in my opinion, The Princess and the Frog was a huge success!

A lot of people are trying to make this movie about “the first black princess” and other PC garbage.  Being one raised on principles of judge the character, not the color, and believing the messages of Sesame Street and other kid programs that “peoples is peoples” I went into this movie looking for a good and honest story and I found one.

So, let’s get to the review.

CHARACTERS

Tiana is among my top favorite Disney heroines.  It’s probably a tie between her and Mulan.  What can I say, I like the power woman characters, and Tiana speaks to me on multiple levels, especially considering she touts the principles of hard work and effort in an increasingly entitlement society.  She’s cute, witty, hard-working and just all around awesome.

I like that Prince Naveen is basically the opposite of Tiana in character traits.  I also like that he’s non-traditional, that he’s not initially there to save a damsel in distress.  We know he’s a good guy, he just needs someone like Tiana to set the example for him to shed his less desirable traits. 😉

The villain, Dr. Facilier, I thought was the weakest in the mix, but he’s acceptable.  I don’t know what I’d offer to help make him more interesting.  He just left a lot of holes in his own plot is all I’m saying, but since he’s not the major focus of the film, I was willing to give it a pass.

There were numerous lovable characters including Ray, Louis, Mama Odie and Charlotte.  I loved them all!

ANIMATION

It’s what I’ve been waiting for.  A return to tradition, and what a fantastic place to bring to life.  I’ve been to New Orleans, and I loved seeing familiar sights and hearing about the different foods I’ve tried.  If you’ve been to New Orleans, then you owe yourself this movie at least to take a trip down memory lane.

The credits also have that Pixar stylistic touch, for those art fanatics out there.  Thank you John.

MUSIC

I’ve been a soundtrack fanatic.  But the last several years, I haven’t found as much that’s spoken to me.  (What’s the last great soundtrack John Williams did?  The last one I picked up from him was HP3).  I didn’t come out thinking that’s the best soundtrack ever.  But after a few days, I found the songs stuck in my head and had to grab them.  I still love it.  And I got it via MP3 download on Amazon.com for $7.99.  It might still be available for that.

I’m a fan of the Randy Newman style, even though I worry about him getting a little tired for sound, since he did like 90% of the Pixar stuff.  I know some people were against him because he was white, but that’s what we call racism, so stop.  His style fits this piece, deal with it.

OVERALL

They didn’t paint this to be in a futuristic lollipops and candy world.  They still addressed some prejudices we unfortunately see, whether Tiana dealing with the realtors, or views of Cajuns.  I liked that they showed it isn’t necessarily voodoo that’s evil, but the person using it (Dr. Facilier vs. Mama Odie).

Parents, what better film could you ask for than one that says you can’t just wish for something, you’ve got to work hard to make it happen.  That you’ve got to really examine what you need vs. what you want to be happy (Dig a Lil Deeper) and don’t trade what you want now for what you want most.

Loved it!  Go see it!

Rating: A+

I Phone It With Android

No, iPhone isn’t getting Android.  That’s far too stifling an environment for the Android platform.

For many of us the conversation is changing from “Hello, I’m a Mac” to “Hello, I love me some Android.”  As an avid Mac-user (I still can’t part with my lime green iMac for nostalgic reasons), when I first heard of the iPhone I only dreamed of the day when ownership of another Mac toy would soon become a reality.

Then the money came, and the T-Mo contract was running out.  Do I iPhone it?  My biggest turn off?  AT&T.  Yeah, I know, it’s not like T-Mo’s network is giving me the coverage of Verizon, but hearing the nightmarish stories from friends and that a lot of people were getting unlocked iPhones for T-Mo, I hesitated.

Second biggest turn off: Mac snobbery.

I love my Mac, I do, but let’s face it.  Mac does the same thing every time.  They grab the market on something and then make it impossible to customize and charge ridiculous prices for cool technology until someone gives them a much needed ego slap in the face.  I am a little pleased to acknowledge I’ve jumped on the bandwagon of that much needed slap: the Android platform (for me, via myTouch, but I say if it’s got Android, love it).

Google Knows, iPhone Woes

Let me be straight with you.  All I know of iPhone is what I’ve seen other people showing me and the few random minutes I ever get to play with one.  iPhone is pretty cool, but some of them apps have a hefty price tag, especially considering the apps you can get with the Android market for free.

COOL FREE APPS

Google Maps. Much like what you’re familiar with if you use the web, Google can find it for you and fast.  Plus with GPS enabled on your phone, you can follow along with a little blue dot…at least until Google Navigation, a free addition to Google Maps.  Don’t want to pay Verizon, or Apple for expensive navigation apps?  Not willing to fork out the dough for a sweet Garmin Nüvi?  Google Navigation is your answer.  Mind you, it’s still in beta testing as of this post, but I find 95% of the time it works the way I want it to, and when it doesn’t, it’ll still get you there, it might just take a street longer.  Hence, “beta” testing.  In the end, I’ve just saved $100+ to get me a road navigator (and you can buy something to hold it up in your car like a Garmin).  You can also use it to look for restaurants, shops, whatever, and read reviews about them.

Pandora. Is it free on iPhone? (I really don’t know).  Well it is here, runs like a gem, and I can get my Pandora fix anytime I want.

Geobeagle. I love Geocaching.  Check out geocaching.com for more specific information.  But once again, with this free app, I can go caching (think treasure hunting) for free, once again without buying a Garmin.  You can also look up clues via the browser on your phone, use Google Maps to get an idea of the area it would be in, and log the cache all without your computer.

ShopSavvy. Wondering if you’re really getting a deal on something?  Scan the barcode using this app and find out what it’s going for on the net.  (And supposedly local too, but less available depending on where you live).

Ringdroid. Make your own ringtones, quick and easy.  (aka, you don’t have to edit them on your computer, export them, import them on your phone…. etc.)

Shazam. Heard a song on the radio and every time you never catch the name of it?  Use this app to find out not only what it’s called, but who wrote it and the album it’s on.

Reveal. An eBook program with a lot of free classics on it, such as Treasure Island, the Scarlet Pimpernel, etc.  I also use it for scripture reading.

Amazon MP3. Just as easy to use as the iTunes Music store, with the ability to sample songs, and a quick download via linking to your Amazon account.

The list could go on and on.  There’s free apps for Facebook, Twitter, something cool called Google SkyMaps, fun free games, reminder apps, and more.  All of this available on any Android phone.

One more thing… I love the interactivity with GMail and the Google Calendar. I can edit contacts on the internet, as well as calendar items, which to me is a huge plus because it seems like the phone (even the swankiest) can be much slower than just doing it via computer. You can also color code events via different calendars. I have contacts birthdays, US Holidays, personal, and work calendars all in different colors.

Convenience
could easily be synonymous with Android.

THE MYTOUCH SPECIFICALLY

There is some small regret that I didn’t wait just a little longer to go Verizon with the new Droid, but I’m still pretty happy with my HTC myTouch.  The virtual keyboard took me all of a day to get used to and the customizable background a huge plus (especially over the non-customizable iPhone).

The camera is a step up for me coming from the Nokia 5300, at 3.2 MP, though I wouldn’t have minded a bit higher, especially considering the Droid at about the same upfront cost has 5 MP (in addition, a physical keyboard).  But the pictures are still sharp, and the video great for a phone.

Battery life can seem short if you’re constantly using the 3G network for internet access.  I ran Pandora on both 3G and wifi, and got much longer life connecting via wifi.  I was also told by a few people that the 3G was faster.  Not the case for me.  Downloads were significantly faster with wireless, though the 3G speed is still good.

The keyboard text predictor is fabulous and I find typing for me goes just as fast if not faster than having a physical keyboard.  I have noticed, however, on occasion while browsing the virtual keyboard is a bit sluggish–not enough to make me hate it though.  And I do love me some full web browsing.

The ringtones are easy enough to customize, but your alerts and alarms will take some thinking (and probably ringdroid), which I felt was a step down from my old Nokia.  Still, the phone is something I love and I promptly bought a protective hardcase for it with a swanky design.  The phone does come in 3 colors: red, black, white (I chose black).

Android Platform: A++
myTouch phone: A-

Twilight I Thought This Book Was About Vampires…?

“As she gazed into his perfect honey colored eyes, she was overwhelmed with giddiness at the sight of his perfection, and swooned when he smiled the perfect crooked (does that really work?) perfect smile of perfection like a Greek God who could never hope to be as handsome and perfect as the work of perfection himself that was Edward…”

Basically, I’ve summarized 90% of the book for you.  (Quick, someone hand me a thesauraus.  I’ve got to look up synonyms for perfection!)

I had no idea what Twilight was about, other than a nod at vampires, but at the time I had just come off the Harry Potter hype train, and loathing as I did waiting for sequels I figured I’d give this series a look when more of the books were out.  The Twilight series hype continued to grow, with nearly everyone around me swearing to its authenticity as the greatest series of all time.

I still planned to give it a look, but paused after going over a review on my friend’s blog.  After conferring with a second friend who’d read the entire series (because the Twilight fans SWORE the books continued getting better), I felt little to no motivation to read this book.  Hey, romance novels just aren’t my thing.

But with fellow women and girls around becoming fans a plenty, I felt if I were going to be able to have an opinion I’d have to delve in.  So, I began reading Twilight.

I was surprised!  Well, at first…

Here was this character Bella.  A typical teenage girl with family troubles and teenage girl insecurities.  She’s interesting, the view she presents is interesting, and although I know what’s coming I hope that we don’t arc away from the current Bella.  Then came the dreaded “descriptions.”  Those who’ve read know what I’m referring to.  The gushing descriptions (see above for an example) that occupy 90% of the rest of the book.

*VERY BIG SIGH*

And so a perfectly reasonable an interesting character becomes a crazed obsessive “swimfan” type girl, and the cheesiness factor is laid on thick.

So if I knew exactly what was coming, why bother reading in the first place?

To be honest, the take Stephanie Meyer has on vampires, albeit unresearched and a little too Superman without kryptonite, is interesting.  I found myself the most involved when I heard Edward’s origins and his families origins.  In fact, publish a book without gushing affections about Dr. Cullen and Edward’s adventures pre-Bella and I think you might have a very compelling novel.  This may be out of Meyer’s capability to do (aka where would the story be without the gushing affections?)

Something that is incredibly disturbing is the way their relationship works, which most readers have tended to shrug off to being a vampire.

But probably 70% of my reason for reading the book (the 30% being to have an informed opinion–which wouldn’t have been enough drive alone) was to bring to you a comic series I’ve affectionately named “The Mid-Afternoon Chronicles.”  I’m by no means a professional when it comes to comics, and some of you may not get it if you haven’t read at least the first book, but it amuses me and hopefully it will do the same for you.

This is merely a character concept of our ‘heroes,’ but I promise a new comic is coming soon and hopefully weekly.

Ok, seriously!  What is this 'crooked smile?'

Ok, seriously! What is this 'crooked smile?'