Thursday, July 19, 2007

It's a Virtual World, After All

In the past few months that I've been involved with the virtual reality "game" Second Life, I've seen more and more of the real world being integrated into the virtual landscape.

As a way to rationalize the time I've spent wandering around as my cartoon alter ego, I've been doing "research" -- visiting a few corporate installations taking snapshots.

Like this one at the Sony BMG Media Island:

The rest of my Sony/BMG series(including a disco ball -- woo hoo!) is viewable at:

It's the face of the future folks. Either that, or I'm just another slacker playing pretend. Or both.

Who knows?

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Couldn't Help Myself

Throwing aside any pretense of empathy, I laughed out loud (cackled, even) when I saw this photo from the latest edition of the "running of the bulls" in Pamplona, Spain.

Insert your own punchline.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Cyn's Summer Movie Guide

...or something like that.

For whatever reason, we've been in that dark place commonly known as a "movie theater" quite a few times in the past few weeks.

Oh, I should mention that children were involved each time -- so actually the aforementioned "whatever reason" is that the movie theatre is the one place that requires my children to be silent for approximately two hours. And that's a lovely thing.

Besides silence, my girls know the only other (figurative) price they have to pay if they want to go to the movies -- they will be required to remain in the theatre until every last credit has scrolled by. This is my firm rule. There are no exceptions.

Of course, the theater lights invariably go up 2/3 of the way through the credits, to reveal that the only ones present are us and the sullen staff/trash-picker-ups. But we stay, no matter what, to the bitter Roman-numeral-year end. I am immune to whining and pleas of "I have to go to the bathroom."

As I said, No Exceptions.

In one sense, it's purely selfish, as I'm always interested in the music and that is last credit-wise. But in other ways it's meant to make them aware of all the people involved in the movie-making process.

Wranglers of the film world, I honor you.

ANYWAY - to the point of this post...

Since you all value my opinion so highly (yeah, um, that's meant to be sarcastic) here are my thoughts about films (in theatre and on DVD) that I've seen in the past few the order viewed.


I didn't care much for the Jim Carrey vehicle Bruce Almighty (even with Morgan Freeman's charming turn as God.) But I love Steve Carell, and my kids evidently loved the Evan Almighty TV trailers.

So, a recent rainy day down-the-shore found us in a small theatre - with few expectations.

And, as often happens when one expects little, we really enjoyed the movie. At least in the context of "Family Film." And it was better than most in that genre.

There were a few truly funny moments, primarily courtesy of Carell and Wanda Sykes.

And Carell plays silly with such sincerity - better than anyone, IMHO.

Oh yeah, and Morgan Freeman is way cool.

Definitely recommend this for those with grade school and older children. (Our group had children from age 5 and up.) It was rated PG...for a bit of bathroom humor (bird poop, anyone?)...and the word "penis" used in a zoological context (said by a kid.)

Would I recommend it for those without children? Yes -- if you like Steve Carell. And the ark effects are awesomely realistic.


Another rainy day (only two bad days out of ten, not too shabby!) found us back in the same beach-town theatre. With three girls in tow, we really had wanted to see "Nancy Drew" but the times weren't right. And the kids were hyped to see The Fantastic 4 too.


The special effects were nifty, but the acting...? Soap-opera caliber. So much so that I wondered if the actors were specifically directed to be wooden (in some sort of retro-superhero vein.)

Esteemed Husband and I turned to each other mid-movie, as both noticed simultaneously that Jessica Alba's lips seemed about to devour the entire screen. I spent many moments (mind wandering during some cartoonish battle or other) trying to remember what she'd ever done before this (knew her name & visage, but not her resume.)

Nothing came to my mind...nothing to explain why she would be cast as the leading lady in a Major Motion Picture (yes, I know she was in the original F4 movie too) when her acting was rather sub-par. But, as Esteemed Husband offered in way of explanation, she's got a nice body.

Well, yeah, I guess...if you're into that kind of thing (she says, cattily.)

My youngest nephew stayed at the beach house with his mom (thankfully, as this film would have scared the heck out of him, even with its PG rating) and the remaining urchins with us were between ages 7-10. The 7 & 8-year olds were a little frightened by some of the (bloodless) battles - but not too badly.

And not as frightened as the adults were by Jessica Alba's pout.

On the positive side, the special effects were pretty cool. And the plot was easy to follow, so no brain cells were injured in the viewing of the film.

Would I recommend it for those without kids? Hell (I mean, heck) no. Would I recommend this for those with kids? Well, it's better than a trip to Chuck E. Cheese. That's about the kindest I can be.

After dining on this non-award-winning epic, Esteemed Husband and I had to cleanse our movie palate by watching the very adult (as is subject matter, not porno - what dirty minds you have!)film, NOTES ON A SCANDAL.

Wonderful, wonderful acting...engrossing plot...and some thoughts were provoked by the subject matter. It's basically a character study wrapped up in a game of cat and mouse. Two thumbs up!

And speaking of vermin...


Another terrific Brad Bird story. Simply put - it's great family entertainment.

I don't know if I liked it as much as The Incredibles (probably not as many adult laughs in Ratatouille...) but it was sweet and engrossing and truly "feel-good."

During the film I couldn't figure out who was voicing the main rat character, Remy --until my much-beloved credits told me it was Patton Oswald -- and he played the part perfectly.

Would I recommend Ratatouille to those without children? Hmmm...definitely on DVD. Not sure if a grown-up without children needs to rush out to see it or not?

As much as I did like Ratatouille, my favorite kid-friendly movies of the past few months were:



THE LAST MIMSY (which comes out on DVD today.) (And the Mimsy website is pretty cool too...)

Both "...Robinsons" & "...Mimsy..." had a time-traveling theme, which is one of my little preoccupations of late. The visuals on both were just outstanding -- mind-blowing, if you will -- on the big screen.

And both actually choked me up -- yes, me - even with my hardened cynical heart and all. The child actors in The Last Mimsy were quite excellent -- very natural performances.

So -- yes, even for those without kids (as long as you LIKE children) I would recommend catching those two.

Next in the movie queue was the 2002 (you can see we are a bit behind in our DVD viewing...) film "DIRTY PRETTY THINGS"

Another very enjoyable and extremely-well-acted suspense-with-the-hint-a-romance-thrown-in flick, even though I did have to suspend a wee bit of belief to go along with the cause of the plumbing problem in the beginning of the film.

I'm operating on not-enough-sleep right now, not unlike the hero (wonderfully portrayed by Chiwetel Ejiofor) of this film. So I'll cut to the chase and say "See it!" if you haven't already.

And finally, another DVD recommendation -- V FOR VENDETTA

My brother gave us the DVD for Xmas and we finally got around to watching last weekend.

Now, this is the way to adapt a graphic novel into a movie (as opposed to the very comic-book-esque Fantastic 4 film.)

Even though I'm generally not much into action/fighting -- the plot was quite intriguing...and more than relevant in the current state of the world -- as the anti-hero plots against a government that controls the public with fear and lies.

Not for kids.

But very cool.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Here, There (& Everywhere In Between)

Since my last post I've seen the end of the school year, the beginning and end of a vacation, and a severe case of internet withdrawal.

And somehow, I managed to survived. are my observations (seasoned liberally with the complaints and whining you've come to know and love) in no particular order...


I'll probably go down in elementary school history as the Worst Room Mom Ever. I guess you could say that I just don't have the disposition or the inclination to play along with The Way Things Are Supposed To Be Done.

This became apparent early on, Halloween, when I told some other moms that I was happy that my Elder Daughter's teacher wanted the Halloween party to be low-key. (Which played very well into my plans to not bring any more cheap plastic Dollar-store-esque junk into our households.)

However, the other moms clucked amongst themselves about the lack of planned activities. In the spirit of fake vampire teeth everywhere, I couldn't help but think, "Bite me."

But my most excruciating room-mom moment was a couple weeks ago when Elder Daughter and her class were having their last-day-of-5th-grade picnic. Three of us mothers stood around while the children ate and frolicked and the like.

Which was merely boring until the other mothers began comparing notes about where they took their daughters for their pedicures (and one detailed her middle-school daughter's eyebrow waxing!)

During which I am singing "One of these moms is not like the other..." over and over in my head while I remained outwardly mute with my very best fake-pleasant expression plastered on my face. But, after ten minutes or so of salon-for-preteens talk, I'm fairly certain that the fake smile was fooling no one.


A few hours after being officially released from room-mom duty, my little family was jammed into our little SUV heading towards a little rental house in what we on the East Coast call "The Shore."

After last year's "vacation" with cancer-kitty...well, what can I say except that everything's easier without a dying cat.

But at least last year, we had a great internet connection in our rental. This time 'round I was forced to confront my dependence on all matters online.

We found we could latch onto an unsecured network BUT only in the morning and evening...and even then only on the roof deck or one very specific spot in the bedroom being used by my parents, while standing on one foot balancing an aluminum foil cone on one's head. (Well, kidding about the last part, but just barely.)

Luckily, my dad also had his laptop in tow, and understood my deeply-seated psychological need to make sure I wasn't missing some important piece of spam e-mail. So he good-naturedly accommodated my frequent intrusions into his sleeping space in my quest for the elusive internet connection, and we bonded while sharing connectivity updates.

I believe I'm now supposed to write something profound about how technology is sucking the free time out of our lives. really like technology. And relaxation isn't all it's cracked up to be.


For years, I've been trying to make pallor into a fashion statement. So, you'll understand my upset when someone remarked that I "got some color" while on the beach.

Honestly, it was purely accidental, and I promise to be back to my goth-like ivoryness very soon.


And finally, I discovered the beauty of being able to walk instead of drive. Here in suburbia, walking has no purpose. Oh yeah, there's the walkin' the dog contingent... but jeez, I can't think of any better way to ruin a leisurely stroll than to have to interrupt it to pick up freshly-deposited crap.

Being dogless, our only excuse to make the development rounds seems to be to ridicule the neighbors' topiary, but even that gets old eventually.

All as a preface to say how great it was to be vacationing someplace where there was an actual reason/excuse to walk from here to there. Every morning, my husband and I headed out to the local pharmacy to pick up a newspaper. And there were any number of establishments within a 10-block radius of our rental: a pancake house...a 5 & 10...a little mini-golf course...

I can't tell you how much I enjoyed actually walking somewhere (as opposed to going nowhere fast on the gym elliptical.)

So -- three cheers for Long Beach Island!


My heartfelt apology here to my brother and sister-in-law for introducing their children to Monty Python and the Holy Grail. We saw the PG rating on the box, forgetting that "PG-13" didn't exist in those days. And the fast-forward button was used repeatedly.

Even so, I had no idea my 10-year-old nephew would be able to absorb so much dialog after only one viewing. And that he would be spouting it pretty much nonstop thereafter.

Again, I'm very, very sorry.