Author Archives: Bear

About Bear

Bear was born of a comet heading to destroy the Earth. The combination of heat and speed fused his brain with "space dust" which causes him to write random 'about you' content... there's no other benefit from this spectacular birthing. He likes good things and great things even more.

Santa Vs. The Snowman


Here comes Santa Claus… related movie reviews. We took the kids to the IMAX theater to see this movie created by Steve Oedekerk (“Thumb Wars”, “Bruce Almight”, “Ace Venture”, “Kung Pow: Enter the Fist”). I believe it was originally created for TV and then moved into 3D for IMAX (though it wasn’t as we saw it???).
Haven’t heard of it? Not surprised. It’s not that great, but it’s cute. The animation is along the lines of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Island of Misfit Toys” – not high praise.
The story finds the Snowman having his flute accidentally broken so he steals one from Santa’s workshop. He loses it in the ensuing chase, but realizes how beloved Santa is and decides he’d like that gig. He proceeds to create an army of snowmen to do his yuletide bidding.
A Hoth-like battle follows with ‘walkers’ and abominable beasts… and hair-dryers. Ultimately, the two rivals become friends and the Snowman learns the flute was his all along… he just needed to wait one more day until Christmas.
It’s cute, fun and pretty short. The kids liked it and it was fun to see it on the giant screen.

I give it 2 and a half Babbles:

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Leslie Nielsen: 1926-2010

Leslie Nielsen, the serious young actor who enjoyed far greater fame in a second career as a bumbling, older, comic actor in hits such as Airplane! and the Naked Gun series, has died from complications from pneumonia brought on while battling a staph infection. He was 84.

More on the life and career of Leslie Nielsen.

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Due Date


In honor of all of our readers who are traveling right now, I’m going to review “Due Date.” I hope even your TSA experience wasn’t as bad as the experience of the characters in this movie.
I was pretty excited about this movie b/c it’s been a while since I’ve seen good, silly comedy.
Unfortunately, it didn’t quite do it for me.
It was humorous and there were a few big laughs, but ultimately it just didn’t come together. Zach Galifianakis has an odd sense of humor that I enjoy in stand up, skits and some movies, but I’m not 100% sure it was best in the tone of this movie. The mixture of basic “funny” and extreme awkwardness didn’t play well in the longer format, imo.
Robert Downery Jr. was great as the straight man trying to get home for his first child’s birth. He was so good that for the first third of the movie I was as annoyed as I was entertained. I’m very goal oriented.

After the initial frustration w/ how badly things go for Downey’s character, the movie settles into a good groove. It got wilder in some senses and funnier too. Of course, you know where movie going from the trailer: odd-couple travels across country in a comedy of mishaps that lead to the acceptance of the oddball who is as lovable as he is pitiful. Oops, did I give it away?
It’s a decent movie and good for a few (uncomfortable at times) laughs. If you like Zach Galifianakis you know how uncomfortable it can get – now add that it’s an R-rated movie.

I gave it 3 Babbles

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Amazon PriceCheck App


Just in time for Black Friday, Amazon has a cool new PriceCheck app out. It lets you search for items in a variety of easy ways, compare prices and, of course, buy items.
As you can tell from the pic you can search by typing, UPC (via the camera), pic (camera) or speaking.

I wanted to test it out so first I did the UPC test. I didn’t even both w/ the text search – too easy. I grabbed a book (“Me, Myself and Bob” by Phil Vischer – great book). I thought I’d take a pic of the UPC, but before I could look for the button, it detected I was over the UPC and found the book! I had to do it again just to get that screenshot. Boom!

Next I wanted to try the pic search. I used the same book and it worked great! So I decided to put it to the test and use a Booples DVD. Found it! I did the audio search and skipped the easy options and tried “Booples” again. It searched for “pupil.” I tried a few more times, but it the kept searching for “google.” I assume it has a dictionary it searches and doesn’t have “Booples.” So then I tried “Lord of the Rings” and it found tons of stuff, of course.

The details it finds include price comparisons, description of the product and reviews. You can share your findings via email, text, facebook and twitter. And you can buy the product thru the app. This can be a great tool when shopping for Christmas this year to see if what you’re finding is a good deal or not. There’s also the RedLaser app that pioneered this type of functionality and is also a free app. For some reaons though, people are less intimidated when it’s from Amazon though it is a more limited app (RedLaser is owned by eBay so maybe that’s just the same???).
So enjoy your Christmas shopping this year and be sure to -PLUG- buy plenty of Booples DVDs (always free shipping) for all the kids!

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Christmas Movie Review Poll


We want you to pick which movie we all watch and review! We’ll each give our own special perspective on the review and each other’s reviews.
There’s also a ‘game changer’ option in the poll for us each to watch a different movie.
We’ll keep the poll up for about a week and then post the choice and expected date to have the reviews posted.
We’d like to present more options like this to you in the future to have the readers select marathons of movies to watch or topics to write on (e.g., Def-Kahn 5: Madeline Kahn series, Best Comedic Scene of all time, etc.). If you have suggestions, let us know.
So let us know!

[UPDATED: The results leaned towards each of us reviewing a separate movie. That's our intention and the reviews will be coming soon! Thanks for contributing!]

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the walking spousal-abuse

I’m with Jeff – “The Walking Dead” didn’t need racism and it doesn’t need to be dealing with spousal abuse. Maybe they aren’t introducing it as a theme or a subject matter they’ll deal with for a while, but it’s certainly not something you can just ‘throw into the mix’ and let it lie there.

I didn’t read the comic so I’m coming at it from a fresh, TV-only viewer perspective. I think they should stick to the topics at hand: zombie apocalypse, finding other survivors, what to do next!?!?!?

Also in the latest episode, episode 3 titled “Tell it to the Frogs”, there’s certainly already plenty of drama with (spoiler alert) Rick finding his wife and son! I mean, roll the credits, he found them! Just a second, he’s going back into the city!?!?!

On one hand, I didn’t really buy that. But on the other, yeah!, let’s get back to the zombies!

I’m digging the show and trying to just enjoy the ride and not over analyze it – it’s a zombie show so… you have to keep that in mind.

However, I do think there needs to be a good catch-phrase for Rick and/or all of them. Maybe when they shoot a zombie they can say something catchy… how about: “Have a rest, walker.” Or “This is a no walking zone.” or “No brains for you – one year.”

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Megamind

I really like this case: Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, Jonah Hill, David Cross and several others in lesser roles. I felt it had Ferrell’s touch in some of the dialogue and David Cross’s personality came through. But in neither case did they over do it.

The animation was great end-to-end and the voice acting was right on. But I think the thing they did best in this movie was tell a fairly modern tale without just becoming adult and/or crude.

Too many animated movies these days try to appeal to everyone, in my opinion. Shrek is probably the worst – Pinocchio wearing a thong. Lame.

“The Incredibles” did it well and first by making a humorous, but ultimately an action movie that’s animated. It wasn’t talking animals or save-the-planet, enviro-friendly propaganda – it was a great action movie… that’s animated.

I think Megamind continued that, but also threw in some nice modern story-telling twists of the bad guy becomes the good guy (oops, spoiler!) unwillingly or at least unknowingly.

Through a nice step-by-step self-awareness and purpose-finding journey, he discovers that it’s not “being bad” that he loves, it’s the challenge, the competition, being pushed to exceed his own accomplishments over and over.

This is an accepted stance for the heroes – without villains, who needs heroes? But most of the time it’s assumed that without heroes, villains would be content. Not Megamind – it’s the thrill of the chase that he loves.

It’s not the funniest movie and I wouldn’t say I was completely engaged in the plot, but they didn’t drop the ball anywhere and it had some nice twists that other studios haven’t played with as much (e.g., the “Shrek” unlikely hero twist).

I give it 4 Babbles

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iPhone Dev Conference: 360iDev


I haven’t been to ComicCon – my version of this is 360iDev. We don’t have super heroes… well, we kinda do. We have saurik (Jay Freeman)!
Jay gave a great talk to wrap up the conference. It was about jailbreaking – what it’s all about and not about. It was fairly eyeopening to me because I haven’t had much reason to look into it and was fairly ignorant to what it is.
Jailbreaking is not pirating apps. It’s not really apps at all. It’s opening up the device to customizing parts of the OS that Apple doesn’t normally allow. Consider having an email/phone/SMS/etc. summary as your lock screen instead of just an image.
Cydia is the appstore and it’s mostly apps that aren’t allowed in the Apple appstore. But they aren’t pirated apps.
We also have Mike Lee who gave a great talk on developing quality apps. And while not a pirate, he dressed as one…

He made some great points about how “the crap market is full.”
David Whatley opened the conference with a great keynote about work environment all around: mentally, physically, performance, etc. Great info on ROWE and the Dan Pink talk animated by RSA Animate that I’ve always loved. Must watch.
But the greatest thing about 360iDev is the people and the presenters which are the people. It’s great to watch people present and then hang out with them for a few days (or vice versa). It’s great to talk with people doing what you do, doing what you want to do or wanting to do what you do. It’s an awesome community of support and encouragement.
Unlike WWDC, 360iDev is small which, to me, is it’s power. You get to know people. You attend presentations by people who have been where you are… and they want to help. Also because it’s small, there aren’t tons of separate parties spread across a city. There’s one party every night, everyone is invited and pretty much everyone goes. Free food, beer and Rock Band – geek heaven.
On top of all that, it’s cheap (compared to most conferences) and therefore extremely valuable for what you get. I have serious doubts if I’ll go to WWDC next year although I feel like I somewhat “have to go.” But I will do what I can to make sure I make it to 360iDev wherever it is next.

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The Walking Dead

I’m a zombie fan like anyone else.

“The Walking Dead” episode one “Days Gone By” is set at an unknown date, but probably right around now. The viewer isn’t given more info than the main character so we don’t really know what’s happened or what caused the apocalyptic state. It’s a fun ride starting to find out.

I dig the reality created in this show – it’s mostly typical world stuff… but with zombies. Always a great addition.

I’m impressed right off with the acting, character building speed, personal twists for said characters and overall high quality all around.

“The Walking Dead” is fairly brutal, not campy and jumped right in the deep end with the tough choices people have to make when people start turning into zombies.

The opening scene (spoiler alert) sets the stage when the lone law man walks away from his car looking for gas among the abandoned cars. He comes across a little “girl” (not knowing yet she’s a zombie, but we do, of course). He can’t help but want to believe she’s not a zombie and he wants to help her.

Turning out to be a zombie and coming towards him, he has no choice but to shoot her in the head. It’s rough, but he makes the tough decision.

After that we see a couple scenes, before the ‘zombie invasion’ started, when Rick gets shot. He wakes up and it’s full-swing apocalypse. He can’t find his wife, who he spoke about having marital trouble with in the previous scene, and son. So the opening scene happens sometime later when he’s still struggling with wanting to help/find his family, but knows better than to let a lil’ girl zombie stick around without a bullet thru that cute blond head.

I dig the reality and I think they did a great job all around with the decisions they made and execution of the production. I was pretty tense during most of the show and am very interested to see where this is going.

I give it 5 Babbles

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Eastbound and Down for Halloween


I’m not much for horror films so “for Halloween” I’ll review the first few episodes of “Eastbound and Down” – the HBO series with Danny McBride.
I dig Danny McBride’s humor (“Land of the Lost”, “The Foot Fist Way”, various skits online with Will Ferrell) – wherever Danny is, Will Ferrell’s not far behind and neither is their style of humor.
However, I haven’t been convinced yet that he can carry a whole movie let alone a whole series. Skits are great for him b/c you get in, hit the joke and get out. But for sustained comedy, I’m not so sure.
“Eastbound and Down” is a classic “McBride” premise of overconfident, arrogant, nobody – in this case Kenny Powers – thinks too much of himself and let’s it known to anyone around him.
Kenny is a down-and-out baseball player who was once great and imploded his career and everything around him. He winds up back in his hometown teaching at the highschool and hijinks ensue as he tries to relive and regain greatness.
The first 3 episodes set the stage and develop many of the characters of his return to hometown: his brother’s family, the school teaches, highschool flame, etc. They do a good job of surrounding him with targets and various subjects of torment of his over-the-top personality.

Again, I’m not convinced an entire series can be build around this, but they set the stage for good skit-like situations in each episode like when he makes a “celebrity” appearance at a car dealership (owner played by Will Ferrell). In later episodes/seasons, he goes to play in Mexico and maybe changes in location like that can keep the series fresh.
I don’t think “Eastbound and Down” should be compared with other series and such. Just like I don’t expect (and I don’t want) a serious storyline – please, no “on a very special ‘Eastbound and Down’…” So as long as the jokes are frequent and varied, I think it will be a good show to check out… as long as it’s not the same joke over and over (again, varied).
NOTE: The show is on HBO so beware of plenty of vulgarity and the like.
I’ll have to reserve full rating until I’ve seen more, but for the premise, first first episodes, etc., I’ll give it 3 babbles.

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The Social Network

This is a good film all around: writing, directing, producing, acting – the opening scene proves all of that. The dialogue is witty, fast, pointed and sets the tone for the movie. It also lays out the basis of the whole story: here’s a kid who is intelligent, but has incredible social B.O. He can’t get along with people, desperately wants to be liked and accepted and rages against those who (he perceives) judges him.
He’s a typical American high school student – though he’s in college at this point. He wants to run with the popular kids, who he believes won’t accept him so he judges them… and why do you want to join their clubs so badly?

It reminds me of “Outliers: The Story of Success” by Malcolm Gladwell where he talks about super-genius Chris Langan. Chris has amazing “intellectual knowledge” but almost no “practical knowledge.” He can’t relate with people and navigate a relationship. He’s abrasive, condescending and judging. One version of knowledge or the other will get you some places, but you need both to “succeed” in life… though clearly not both are required to succeed in business.

While this film has some truth to it, it is filtered though at least a few people. The story is written in the book “The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal” by Ben Mezrich. The screen play is written by Aaron Sorkin (“Charlie Wilson’s War”, “A Few Good Men”). And the film is directed by David Fincher (“Fight Club”, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”, “Seven”, “Zodiac”). So while it’s hard to say how accurate it is, we do know some facts.

These facts make up, what I consider to be, one half of the story: the legal aspects. Through the course of starting and growing facebook, Mark Zuckerberg is accused of stealing the idea and cheating his co-founder. That part of the story is interesting and dramatic. But in my opinion, is open to too much interpretation, exaggeration and emotional dramatization to make much of a movie. It’s interesting, but I’d be more interested in a 1-hour documentary about these people: What’s their story (though they probably can’t say), what did they do after, etc.


I did like they way Fincher mixed the past, present, dispute meetings, etc. It made the story move and stay relevant. But I preferred, as far as movie goes, the other half of the story.

Mark wants to be liked and has (maybe) only one friend. He napalms his dating relationship in one conversation and does little to help his “friends list” any other time. But he’s smart and calculated and clearly wants attention regardless of how he gets it and who he hurts. When the Winklevoss twins come to him and offer to hire him (and help him), he, according to the movie (and later monetary settlement, imo), steals their idea, deceives them and the rest is history.

He weasels out of just about every real tight situation and seems to uses a few others to his advantage. He’s condescending at best to his friend. Eduardo, when good fortune comes to Eduardo. Is childish in meetings, selfish in the business and generally self-centered all around. The only reason he brought Eduardo in was for money and when that need was gone, so was Eduardo.

The point is, he wants to be liked but no one is good enough to like him. Except Sean Parker who, in the movie at least, seems to also be in it for himself, tells Mark want he wants to hear – that he’s right, a big man, important, a genius, this is a billion dollar company and Eduardo is dead weight. He has a telling scene, his first scene, he has a question for a girl, but she’s in the shower in the other room. To get her out there, he yells “There’s a snake in here!” She runs out and he asks his question. Does this sound like a person who will say anything to get what he wants?

I think the opening and closing scenes say it well. In the first scene, his now-ex-girlfriend tells him “You going to think people don’t like you because you’re a nerd, but it’s because you’re an a-hole.” and the legal representative at the end who says “You’re not an a-hole. You’re just trying so hard to be one.”

IMO, if you’re trying as hard as him, you’ve succeeded. Whether you think he did these things in a calculated effort to get to the top or just let weasels push him around to allow it, it still comes back to him. I’d say the “super-rich club” has plenty of people that had to sacrifice relationships for memberships and those ends certainly don’t justify the means.

I don’t know his side of the story and certainly some good has come of it, but in the realm of personal values, integrity and general consideration of others, he’s a fail.

As a caveat, I want to say I’m speaking of this story/film only. I can’t say what the full truth is and it probably can’t fully be known.

Jesse Eisenberg, Justin Timberlake and Armie Hammer all perform their roles with full awesomeness.

I give it 4 out of 5 Babbles.

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