Okay, I’ll admit I forgot about a Christmas countdown this year. A couple of years back I did a countdown of the Top 10 Christmas films, one year I counted down the top Christmas songs, and now, although quite frankly I’m a little dry on ideas, I’m doing another countdown, simply giving 19 Christmas-themed recommendations to hopefully make your Christmas a little bit better. Obviously I’ll be starting today and running through Christmas Day. Hopefully I’ll be able to still post a recommendation on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, but don’t hold me to it. Today for my first recommendation I’m recommending two underrated Christmas comedies. Last night my university had a screening of the Will Ferrel Christmas classic “Elf”, and while it is by no means underrated (it’s one of my favorites to this day, and it’s one of the few movies I can watch over and over again), it reminded me of two other films that don’t quite get the respect they deserve in my book. The first is Fred Claus, a 2007 comedy starring Paul Giamatti and Vince Vaughn. The movie did pretty well financially, but was lauded by critics, who said the movie was “A slew of talent is wasted in this contrived and overly sentimental Christmas film…” according to Rotten Tomatoes. I, on the other hand, love the movie, even though I haven’t gotten to watch it in a while. It is by no means a perfect movie (it’s not the most well-made film ever and the romance is kinda sloppy), but when it comes to good-natured and well-intentioned comedies, Fred Claus is propelled quite a bit by both Vaughn and Giamatti’s charismatic and fun performances. The other Christmas film I’ll recommend is the 2008 more adult Christmas comedy, Four Christmases. I actually remember vividly when this one came out, and I recall one of my high school teachers saying she hated it. However when I got around to renting it last Christmas, I had a great time with it. I laughed quite a bit, I connected surprisingly enough with the movie’s message (although it was a little on the nose), and I really liked how they executed the idea of the four different Christmases they had to go to. It was neat how they structured the film around it, and they built up some really fun comedy set pieces thanks to it. (Tim McGraw and Jon Favreau wrestling Vaughn is probably my favorite part of the movie.) Once again, the movie’s not perfect, it has its flaws, but like a lot of Christmas movies, people just hold too high of a standard. If your family is having a movie night this Christmas, or you’re looking for a great gift, you could do a lot worse than these two very enjoyable Christmas films. In fact, I’m gonna have to rent these both as soon as I get home for the holidays…
Ok, so I’ll admit this isn’t a huge deal, and it’s not like I got to meet the guy, but this is a site dedicated to my thoughts, and this just so happens to be one of those thoughts. The other day I was working on my project for my Development of American Music course, and I decided that I was going to use Mike Phirman’s single “One for Them and One for Me” as one of the tracks for a playlist that I was going to play for the class. The assignment was to play 10 songs that mean something to you, and that was one of the first few that came to my mind. So just joking around I tweeted about using his song and included his name. This ensued in a brief back and forth that is still sort of going on. Like I said, it’s not like I had coffee with the guy, but it was cool to actually get feedback from an artist that I definitely respect (he’s played with Weird Al before, and he’s a recurring guest on my favorite podcasts). Below is the actual “conversation”.
@jakewilbanks-It’s a good day when I get to use a @phirm song for my presentation in American Music class.
@phirm-“!” Which of my songs is “presentable”!?!
@jakewilbanks-haha I’m using “One for Them and One for Me” for my playlist assignment, have to cite why the song is important, any insights?
@phirm-Why is it important? WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?! It was only recorded in the UNITED STATES, THAT’S ALL!! #itsactuallynotthatimportant
@jakewilbanks-And that good sir, is what sets it apart. It’s an awesome album btw, really enjoyed it. #semiimportantretorts
My college is taking a group of students to New York City as part of the theater program this January, and, being very grateful to both my amazing parents and my university, am getting to go on the trip. I’m taking a tour of the city, including seeing the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, and a lot more as part of the tour. Hopefully I’ll also get to check out some other spectacular locations like the diner from Seinfeld, Grand Central Station, and a few others. One of the main focuses of the trip is the broadway show, 4 of which we’ll be seeing while up in NYC in January. We’ll be seeing the new show The Scottsboro Boys, Wicked, Time Stands Still, and hopefully the new Spiderman musical produced by Julie Taymor and musically supplied by U2’s Bono and The Edge. Looking at some of the pictures from the show, it definitely looks interesting. Above all else this is my most anticipated part of the show just out of curiosity. The show has run into some struggles recently, being delayed a number of times, but now a date has been set for January 11th, the day I’m arriving in NYC. The show we’re planning on seeing it on is the Saturday following that on the 15th. Hopefully we’ll get to see it, but who knows what could happen. If anyone has any places to recommend to see that are must-dos in New York or just suggestions, drop me a comment!
Ah, it feels so good to be back in my hysterically not funny comedy roots. It’s almost like an old pair of pants you find in your dresser that you haven’t worn from 8th Grade. They remarkably fit, but then you just realize you were really fat in 8th Grade. Anyway, it’s been a couple of months if not years since I last did an “Art Of…” post, so without further ado here is a fact sheet if you will, for hugging…*Disclaimer-In case you’re new to the site and aren’t that familiar with my awkward sense of humor, this is a joke post, laugh, have fun, but remember, next time you’re hugging someone you won’t be able to get this post out of your head.
- Keep It Simple Stupid-Listen, you don’t wanna be that guy that hugs for too long. If you’re in the classic full-frontal hug (more about that later), then don’t let the hug go past it’s expiration date. You’re not welcoming home the troops here, you’re just letting a friend know you missed them since yesterday at Lunch. You can’t be too short with a hug (because if you are than it’s technically not a hug, it’s just a ghost hug a.k.a. Pat N’ Go), and be sure you’re not too long with a hug, unless that’s what you’re into.
- Different Rules for Different Huggers-Just as a general by rule, sometimes different people have different rules for hugging. Some are huge fans of hugging, others love to hold a hug for a long time, others are more of a fan of Pat N’ Gos. Unless ground rules are established, you follow my ground rules, it’s all common sense really. Basically, you just gotta know your hugger.
- TYPES OF HUGS-The Full Frontal-Not much to explain here, it’s basically just your classical hug. You meet in the front, wrap the arms around, one hand is for grasping (onto the person’s back perv) and the other is for patting or rubbing on the back. If you’re not to the patting or rubbing stage with a person, don’t try it unless you’re absolutely sure. And dudes, yes, it is manly to do a full frontal hug. My full frontal hugs with men are some of the most manly experiences in my life.
- The Side Hug-This hug seems more common from my own experiences, and seems to be like a mini hug, but with most of the same impact. As you might imagine it’s just the two hug-ees (please no diaper jokes) joining together at the side, only with one arm around each other, still with patting or what have you. It’s a quicker, half version of the true hug, but it’s not insulting by any means. Full Frontal Hugs are usually for the closest of friends or people that haven’t seen eachother in a while, side hugs are for those friends you see quite a bit or for more uncomfortable dudes. Or people that just smell bad.
- The Bro Hug-Right next to the full frontal hug, this is one of my favorites, even if it is a little lesser known. You start out with a handshake, go in for a secret handshake type of thing where the two thumbs are directly next to eachother, and then you grapple in for a full hug, using your free arm to pat, or in many cases, slap your bro’s back. Reserved for only the most secure bromances, and to be honest it makes you feel better about yourself that you’re confident in your relationship with your bestest of bros.
- The Air Hug-The hug on the go, this hug is a mix between a surprise hug and a full frontal. Let’s say you’re walking to class, driving in traffic, or checking your mailbox. If you see a good friend that you would usually hug, but you’re still in a rush, the air hug might be best for you. It’s basically just the motion of a hug from where you stand, apart from eachother. Mainly it’s for hipsters or people that like to think that planning out and executing complex hugs would be quicker than just hugging the darn person.
- The Surprise/Improv Hug-This one can go one of two ways. It can either be A) A hug with a friend that you may be attracted to or surprised at how close of a friendship you have that you’re at hug status or B) A hug with someone that you don’t want to hug, often because they hug too hard, hug too often, or just smell ranky. If it evolves normally from the bro hug, you’re safe as long as you resist and keep it at the handshake. If the surprise hug usually originates as full frontals, you’re pretty much screwed. Just hope that you have a bar of Dove or Olay ready. Avoid the person long enough and they’ll get the message, or they’ll just build all that hug energy up for another day. Be on the lookout… Also known as the “Oh, you forgot to wear deoderant” hug…
- The Bear Hug-This and the surprise hug usually go hand in hand as well, but sometimes the bear hug can be a fun ice breaker, or it can be the perfect start to a restraining order. Basically the bear hugger grabs the person (with no involvement on their part), and squeezes them like a tube of yogurt or squeezes them and hoists them into the air. It’s either really funny or really uncalled for. Plan ahead with the Bear Hug.
- The Sneak Hug-I think JD from Scrubs puts it best-
- KNOW YOUR HUGGER-Never, and I repeat never, forget the person you’re hugging and how they like to hug. Of course it’s a given that when you’re new to a person’s pre-set hugging conditions it’s impossible to know, but certain people have certain limits when it comes to hugging. Some are not fans of hugging, no mistake is worse than hugging someone full-frontal that doesn’t wanna be hugged. Some prefer the side-hug, some prefer the bro-hug, some people like me though, just enjoy any kind of hug. Most of the time it doesn’t matter, but if you screw the pooch on this one, and there shall be no more hugs from that person.
- Use the Appropriate Hug/Plan Your Hugs-You don’t just go hugging every person you meet. You can be that type of person that’s awesome to be around and peppy and cheery, but don’t push the boundary into creepy ville.
In conclusion, enjoy all hugs, they’re meant to be enjoyed. Really it just comes down to the type of hug and planning your hugs appropriately. Hugs aren’t just to be thrown around, they can symbolize a reunion with a great friend or one of the purest moments of bro-atudeThey’re like tiny breaks from the threats of life literally holding another human being in any of the many style to choose from. Remember the rules, but don’t get too caught up in them, or you’ll miss out on one of the purest joys in life. Toss your germaphobia aside (although be cautious in sneak hugging the germaphobes) and give a big hug to the person next to you, and make the world a little bit better.
PS, Just so you all know, I want my funeral to be hug-oriented just like this-
I posted this on my Facebook the other day, and I still can’t stop laughing at it. As we all know last week was Halloween, and Shaquille O Neal took it upon himself to go all out to dress in drag for his costume this year, lip-singing to the popular Beyonce song, “Sweet Dream”. This makes Space Jam so much cooler…
They might as well rename this film “What Jake’s Seeing This Christmas”. There’s a lot of potential here with directors like the Coens and talent like Bridges’, plus that song is pretty awesome accompaniment.
Undoubtedly one of the best parts of the 2010 Nintendo E3 Press Conference had to be the reveal of the 3DS. It looks like Nintendo’s going to learn from some of its mistakes and have a really great lineup set up for the platform, and the technology is definitely one of a kind and is going to be setting the bar another rank up as Nintendo often does.
News came in this morning, however, that could indicate the platform’s long-rumored release date. A tweet by a manufacturer was posted this morning stating the handheld was going to be released in November for Japan. While this does not mean the handheld will come out in America at that time, the fact that Nintendo’s getting it out in time for the Christmas rush could be a good signal that they’ll cash in on America’s huge holiday season. Time will have to tell though, at least we have been confirmed by Nintendo that the handheld will in fact be released by March of next year.
For the first time in a long time I actually put together a video for one of my favorite shows, Chuck, set to the Frightened Rabbit single “Living in Color”. There are a couple of quick video changes that I didn’t like but overall it came out pretty well. Hope you enjoy it.
Without a doubt this has to be one of my most anticipated films of the rest of the year. Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, John Malcovich, and Bruce Willis star as former CIA agents in retirement that are forced to fight for their lives when Bruce Willis’ character is attacked in his home. Some of the action shots in this trailer are incredibly insane. The film is set to release October 15th.
One of my most anticipated films of next year is Zac Snyder’s film Sucker Punch, the story of a girl trapped inside a mental institution where she escapes in adventures inside her mind. Soon, the line begins to fade between reality and the dreams and the super violent stylistic world starts to take it’s hold. Definitely check it out, I can’t wait to see what one of my favorite directors (300, Watchmen) can do next.
Let’s be honest: Prince of Persia has some pretty big shoes to fill considering what it aspires to be: a decent video game film in a sea of hilariously bad misfires. Once Alfred Molina, Jake Gyllenhal, the gorgeous Gemma Arterton, and legendary action film director Jerry Bruckheimer you’ve got the recipe for what could be a great leap in the right direction. Fortunately, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is exactly that. The film greatly succeeds in being a great step forward in the world of video game cinema, however at times as an action film it’s less of a leap forward and more of a shuffle. The story takes a simple rags to riches tale following Dastan (our prince) who is adopted into a royal family after proving his loyalty to the king as a child, and later becomes involved in a voyage of supernatural and hierarchical intrigue when he comes across the beautiful Gemma Arterton and her country’s mystical weapon, the dagger that contains the sands of time, able to rewind set amounts of time. Much like the Pirates film series also by Bruckheimer, the movie moves at a super quick pace, trying to get you as the audience from plot point to plot point to plot point, and while that keeps you always on the edge of your seat not knowing what’s about to happen, just like the Pirates films your brain can be so focused on what Bruckheimer’s dazzling you with on screen with explosions or the drop dead gorgeous Arterton that you don’t notice his quick slight of hand right under your nose when it comes to crucial plot elements. We spend scene after scene on gorgeous action, and quick precious seconds on dialogue that opens up the next crucial plot point. Sure it’s a tad bit uninspired in the way that it tosses you characters and motivations and relate-able exposition, but before you know it you come to realize yet again why you love Bruckheimer’s films-the drop dead gorgeous (not just Arterton) action. Much like the really impressive windmill sword fight from Pirates of the Caribbean or the final climax chase of National Treasure, there are many great shots they get on the action. Much like the game, the prince makes his way through Persia using wall-running or Parkour-style techniques, and all of the stunts transition beautifully to the big screen just as they should. All of the sword fights, much like in the Pirates series keep you guessing throughout as to what’s about to happen, and the crew well-utilize slow motion to emphasis certain changing moments on the battlefield or just to remind you that what Bruckheimer is about to do is really really awesome. Another thing the crew went above and beyond on to incorporate the massive $200 million budget was the film’s beautiful look. Hate to keep referencing it, but not since Dead Man’s Chest’s gorgeous canopies have I felt so in tune with a film’s environments and landscapes. It’s almost like Travel Channel pornography the way they get some of these great looking cities, crowded street ways, and wide open deserts to look so good during the quick moments we see them at times, so much so that if you blink you just might miss it. The special effects in the film as always are top notch, as with the property you’re going to have to be really reliant on huge landscapes and enormous scales, and the special effects really help accomplish that especially towards the latter act. All of the sands of time effects couldn’t have been done better, but also as a complaint we really don’t get to see that effect enough. For some that was relied on so heavily in the games, aside from the final conflict we really don’t see it enough aside from 3-5 times. All in all, the film looks and breathes great in terms of action, no surprise there. Possibly the film’s greatest double edged sword lies in the film’s performers. Alfred Molina does some great work in what lines he’s given and gives a pretty hilarious role, and Ben Kingsley (who was a master of his craft in February’s Shutter Island) does a substantial job as a sort of shady villain. Gemma Arterton, while catching flack from many for her one-note performance, is just so gorgeous and naturally beautiful in this movie it’s impossible for me to complain, she does a great job with what she has. Jake Gyllenhal, while certain not Middle Eastern and once again proving if you speak English outside of America you have to tone in a British Cockney accent, really does good with what he has and goes beyond the call of duty by really looking the part when it came to his own action stunts. On the negative side, some of the supporting characters are a little dry at times, sorta like the Pirates series, just reading their lines and cashing the checks for their cockney accents, and a few times although Arterton’s beautiful her dry tone could be a little annoying. One other small thing that did bother me a bit in the film came at the very end of the film. I won’t spoil anything, but it can be really off-putting to a lot of people including myself, but it’s generally acceptable if you play it through in your mind a few times. (It also seems odd Ben Kingsley’s only two films this year involve twist endings.) All in all, maybe Prince of Persia’s greatest flaw is that it just isn’t that memorable. Sure we have our sword fights, our beautiful effects, our fun and all, but a decade from now I’ll be able to quote more Pirates of the Caribbean lines to you than a line from this film. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy this film, quite the contrary, I really liked this movie. It gladdens me that this movie isn’t another misfire in the video game to film series, and in fact I am truly grateful that Prince of Persia never forgets to be a awesomely fun time at the cinema, having it’s flaws, yet providing that sense of adventure those like Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill did long ago that keep us coming back again and again.
8 out of 10
There really is no better way to describe it. Just bask in the wonder…
Duck Tales Theme Song-
Fresh Prince of Bel Air Theme Song-
Popeye Theme Song-
Saved by the Bell Theme Song-
Not 4 months ago, the nerd community got wind of a massive film news tid bit, that the Spiderman series’ fourth installment, Spiderman 4 had been completely scrapped in favor of an overhaul of the series. The would have been fourth installment would have starred the very talented John Malcovich as the comic’s highly regarded villain “The Vulture”, director Sam Raimi returning to helm the project, and a good majority of the cast was all-but-confirmed for the project. However, someone over at Sony pulled the plug, and whether it was Raimi’s cold feet that he’d produce another Spiderman 3, Macquire or Dunst’s reluctance to continue on on the nearly decade-old series, or the financial production woes, the project ceases to exist. Little is known about the new reboot as of now, however after doing some of my own film studies and evaluating my own film opinions and standpoints, I for one am incredibly excited for the idea of a Spiderman reboot, and these are a few reasons why I think that and I think you should too. Feel free to tell me why I’m wrong in the comments section. Keep in Mind-All anyone knows at the point in time I am writing this post is that Marc Webb, 500 Days of Summer Director, is signed on to direct the movie, noone has been confirmed to star as any of the characters or villains, a script has been written and/or roughly drafted/formulated, and that the film is being released in 3D for a July 2012 release. So enjoy.
- Sense of Wonder For A New Generation-One of my favorite memories of my childhood is being 10 years old in that theater for Spiderman 1. My Dad took me to see the film, and I’ll never forget seeing Tobey Macquire go head-to-head with Willem Dafoe, fighting in the skies. Webs were being shot every which way, bombs were going off, and for that 2 hours and 1 minute, I was in that world. I was the total demographic for that movie, and I was in love, it did it’s job. For the next year anytime my friends and I played together we always played Spiderman and Green Goblin, I had Spiderman toys, I quoted and reenacted the movie with my action figures, heck, it’s probably the reason I love film the way I do now. Sure enough 3 years later I drug my Dad back to the theater to see Spiderman 2, and to this day I remember the incredible cutouts in the Hickory Hill theater’s lobby of Alfred Molina in that perfect Doc Ock costume. 2 years later, I was 15, and I dragged my friends and my Dad for the series’ third installment. That series defines the sense of wonder that only the superhero genre can provide, and to this day no other superhero film has done that. So who’s to say we can’t let the new Jake’s, the new children of this generation relive that? Batman and other franchises follow the darker and more adult-oriented audiences, so who’s to say we can’t give kid’s something to follow? If we re-start this series, we can start fresh, and give a new generation a series to follow and grow up with just like I did back in 2002, and give a new generation a superhero to look up to and mimic in their back yards.
- Marc Webb Is Amazing-Just recently I got a 3 month Netflix subscription as a gift, and one of the first films I added to my queue was a film I had been waiting a while to see, 500 Days of Summer, directed by Marc Webb. I haven’t posted my review yet, and I’m not sure if I will get around to it, however the movie is amazing. I have no trouble recommending it to anyone. For a debut film, Marc Webb knocked it out of the park, and crafted a great movie that has a fantastic sense of pacing and telling a great, compelling, youth-oriented story. The movie had a great way of telling its story in a quick, interesting way that kept the audience engaged, didn’t take itself too seriously, and had a seriously awesome soundtrack. After seeing the film, it makes me all but certain Marc Webb would be perfect for re-adapting the Spiderman audience for a new adolescent crowd. He perfectly GETS what teenage relationships are like, which would be perfect for the supposed more teenage-life-emphasis Spiderman reboot plotline. This, combined with the humor he understands, the soundtrack/score Spiderman would fit perfectly into, and the atmosphere Webb (just realized it’s a huge pun joke from Sony) is so comfortable in painting could result in a great film.
- A New Take-This is more of a minor complaint, however is worth mentioning. I love Christopher Nolan’s mentioning that not all superhero films are meant to go 4-17 films, but sometimes superhero films are just meant to tell a story, and at times it only takes 2-3 films to tell that story. I felt as if at the end of the third Spiderman movie, we had reached a suitable conclusion. I don’t feel like it was ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY to continue with a fourth film. Most if not all of the plotlines were resolved and things seemed to be at an appropriate end. IF we had continued with a fourth film, newcomers may have had far more trouble attaching to this convoluted storyline than they would a newer, fresher storyline. We’ll have new actors for the leads-Peter, Mary Jane, and some new takes on the villains we had already seen.
- 3D? Sign Me Up!-What sounds cooler than a CG landscape with a CG character magically and wonderfully glorious swinging through the landscape that captivated me as a kid, that would be the same premise, our glorious web-slinger, in 3D. The Spiderman series would be a perfect fit for three dimensions, and could pull movie goers even farther into the experience of being Spiderman.
Any ideas? Comments? Questions? Suggestions? Feel free to let me know.
Okay I’ll pretty much come out and say it. This is one of my insane ramblings where I pretty much just took something mundane and over thought it to where I thought it was funny. We’ve all had this situation before, we’re in a theater, and we’re given a nice, cushioned arm rest to our left and to our right. However whether it’s opening night of the newest Harry Potter flick you just love so much or a group trip where everyone is forced to sit together, the question may often arise: Who is entitled to which Armrest? Well, I have developed a science of the armrest, and long-awaited answers to who owns which said armrest in a variety of situations.
A) Sitting by Yourself-Well good sir or mam, this is your perfect solution to being horribly lonely on your Monday night man-trip in an empty theater. You have the privilege of using the armrest on your right or on your left. You can lean to one side or the right, prop your feet up on the front seat’s cupholder, or hey, you can use that handicap rail as your own personal storage facility for the next 2 1/2 hours. So sit back, relax, the theater is yours to enjoy.
B) Sitting with Someone to Your Right or Left-This can be either a very simple or devilishly complicated procedure. Now, unless you two are swooning sweethearts, the same armrest cannot be shared by the two of you. Consider that the holy covenant of marriage as far as armrests go. Now, if it is just you and some other person, let’s say it’s your BFF or your bro (because real men don’t say BFF), you will need to work as a team (before or during the movie) to coordinate your armrest use. If one of you is experiencing an extreme case of B.O., the guy on the left may lean to the armrest on his left, and the other to his right. However, if both of you are in the same hygienic status, it is fairly simple to coordinate-either lean away, or both to the right or both to the left.
C) Sitting with a Group-Now, this procedure usually follows the procedure of sitting with two people, you can simply upgrade it to three or whatever the number may be. But let’s say you have some rebels within your group… If so, then that person inside the middle seat is entitled to whichever armrest they want, and then those to their left or right must adapt to the other’s decision. All that’s needed is a close attention paid to your surroundings, and to your surrounding movie goers. If you’re not careful, you might permanently damage some relationships. However, if you simply don’t have time to work out the differences and are afraid of that strange, awkward silence that comes when two arms try to inhabit the same space, you might just end up in an elbow fight wrestling match. For those that wanna have a simpler experience, everyone can simply set up a system to which everyone goes to one side, and then when that arm gets tired, everyone switches to the other side. Perfect experience for the synchronized swim team’s trip to go see the new Pirates of the Caribbean.
Of course, you could just not use armrests. But then again why would you do that?
Below is a hilarious image I found perfectly depicting the current opinions among general console owners. Note I said general, so don’t get your panties in a bunch, just enjoy the hate.