Home Movie Review

A week after moving into our new home my wife and I had some of our friends over to celebrate my birthday.

We went out to eat and then saw the Dreamworks movie, Home.

The movie is about an alien race that invades Earth and takes over everything.

The trailer didn’t talk about this much, but the invading race, the Boov, are running away from another alien race, the Gorg.

The Boov move all the humans on Earth to Australia and deposit them in a prefabricated idyllic suburban complete with ice cream and amusement park rides for everyone (nevermind that most of the world wouldn’t consider this a paradise but a horrible alien environment).

The Boov overlook one human in the abduction process, Tip.

Tip and her cat, Pig, soon hookup with an outcast Boov, Oh. Oh is as socially awkward as someone can be and also accidentally sent an email to everyone in the galaxy, inviting them to a housewarming party on Earth. Everyone in the galaxy also includes the Gorg who will be coming soon to blow up the Earth.

The rest of the Boov are looking for Oh. Oh is running away from them with Tip, but to get her cooperation he has to help find her mother who was moved to Australia.

The trailer can probably tell you the rest of what you can expect from the movie. Oh doesn’t understand human culture and Tip teaches him about it.

I liked the movie a lot. It is a traditional kid’s movie where everyone gets a happy ending with no consequences, but that’s fine.

The acting is well done by Rihanna and Jim Parsons. They aren’t playing characters that are significantly different from what they’ve done before. A little typecasting never hurt anybody.

The movie has great coloration as well. I don’t often expect movies to be that visually pleasing.

The Boov have all sorts of colors for their technology, going all over Earth presents tons of different landscapes and colors, and most important of all the Boov themselves have tons of colors to represent their different emotions (blue for neutral, red for anger, yellow for scared, green for lying, etc.).

The movie had the ever present issue of “Why does everyone speak English in space?” but that’s something you get over after watching and reading tons of science fiction stuff.

It was the perfect movie for my loosely space themed birthday party! We had a cake with stars and a moon on it after the movie of course.

-GoCorral

Kingsman Movie Review

The day after my in-laws helped me moved in was my birthday. Wheee!

We were still moving in so we didn’t do anything super fancy.

My wife and I went out to eat for breakfast. Not like we had another option because we hadn’t moved the food over from the old apartment yet…

The breakfast restaurant was Italian themed and is rapidly becoming our favorite restaurant in Davis. It’s called Cafe Italia if anyone is interested in going.

After breakfast we unpacked more stuff. My one birthday event was going to a movie that I got to pick. I chose Kingsman (as if the title of this post and the picture weren’t enough clues for you to figure that out already).

The movie was pretty awesome, filled with action scenes and callouts to other spy movies.

The plot follows Eggsy, the son of a man killed while working for the mysterious Kingsman.

The Kingsman are a secret spy organization working independently of other intelligence agencies to keep the world safe from evil people. They’re a small group and everyone is named after people from the King Arthur stories. The leader is King Arthur, the person filling Q’s role from the Bond films is named Merlin, Eggsy’s mentor is named Galahad, etc.

I love the King Arthur stuff and it’s coupled with the agents being chivalrous and knightly in their mannerisms.

Eggsy’s initial selection is a lot of fun. Bar fights, car chases, evil step-fathers. Awesome stuff! Some of it you’ve already seen in the trailer if you watched the trailer. Go watch the trailer!

After he joins the training program the movie slows down a bit. Eggsy’s mentor, played by Colin Firth, investigates the villain’s plan to kill half the Earth’s population, while Eggsy goes through a series of unusual training exercises.

The concept of the training exercises is fun. One of them is six people sky diving and after they’ve jumped Merlin informs them that only one of them has a parachute. Unfortunately, the training sequences just aren’t as fun as the car chases and bar fights in the first half hour.

The movie heats up when Eggsy finally takes on the villain with help from the other Kingsman. I don’t want to give too much away from that part of the movie though.

I’d definitely recommend it. It’s a solid action movie and my wife said it was even a little bit thought provoking.

And it’s just barely still in theaters as I’ve been dragging my feet about making blog posts. Quick! Go see it!

-GoCorral

Gurutama Language Map

Language Map

Last night I made a map representing the relationships between different languages in Gurutama.

Since I am playing on using the Hackmaster rule system for Gurutama I modeled the relations between the languages on how languages work in Hackmaster.

Languages are treated as skills in Hackmaster with proficiencies ranging from 0-100%.

0-25% is when you know a few words in the other language. Most Californians have at least this much understanding of Spanish.

26-50% is when someone knows how to construct sentence frames, but can’t really carry a conversation. Someone who’s still learning the language.

51-75% is when someone knows enough to go on vacation to another country and speak that country’s language, but not enough to have a conversation about philosophy or something. My wife and I probably have this level of proficiency with Spanish.

76-87% is a normal mastery of a language. Hackmaster treats this level as the amount most people have in their native language.

88-100% is when someone knows lots of fancy words in their language. My dad has a PhD in linguistics, so he probably falls into this range.

That should give you a better idea of what the penalties listed in the image above mean.

Lets say that English is Merese on that map up there. My dad with his PhD in English linguistics would have around 20% mastery of a language that English borrows words from, like Swedish. He’d recognize a few cognates between the languages and he might know how to construct sentences, but he can’t really speak Swedish.

I’d guess that I have around 60% proficiency in Spanish. French is a very similar language. Everyone else in my family spoke French occasionally when I was growing up and the little bit of Spanish I know allowed me to understand the gist of the conversation even if I couldn’t participate. French and Spanish would be considered divergent languages in the Hackmaster system (along with Portuguese, Italian, Romanian, etc.).

A few of the languages up there might not be recognizably from Gurutama. Some of those are for monster races like trolls, giants, and orcs. The others, like Krangi, Lathlani, and Sqwuani, are for a few of the main races. Krangi is Hobgoblin, Lathlani is Elven, and Sqwuani is Avian.

The other members of my D&D group are getting a little more interested in Gurutama lately and there was talk of setting up a wiki for the campaign setting so everyone could edit and add stuff on.

If the wiki is set up I’ll start moving content there. The stuff I create will still be posted here but my friends can’t make the same promise.

That’s it for today!

-GoCorral

World Cup Opening Match

http://arsenalarsenal.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/3549689408_neymar-dive-full.jpg

The opening game of the World Cup was yesterday between Brazil and Croatia.

Brazil is the hosting nation this year if you didn’t know. They won the match against Croatia 3-1.

While that’s a pretty big win as soccer games go, it went poorly in my opinion.

The goal for Croatia was actually an own goal by one of Brazil’s defenders.

The own goal wasn’t the usual type where it bounced off him and went in. He seriously just messed up and kicked the ball into the goal instead of away from it.

One of the goals Brazil got against Croatia was off a penalty kick as well. One they didn’t deserve…

A Brazilian player took a dive in the box and convinced the referee that he had been fouled for real to get the penalty kick.

Brazil’s star forward, Neymar, also got a yellow card early on in the game.

There isn’t any punishment for him yet, but if he gets another then he’ll have to sit out the game he received it in and the next game after that.

Losing Neymer wouldn’t be the end of Brazil’s team, but it wouldn’t be a good thing. It would certainly hurt fan enthusiasm.

So now Neymar needs to play a super careful game or risk leaving the field.

I haven’t had a chance to see any other games yet.

The games are all broadcast between 9 and 5 Pacific time.

ESPN is carrying the games in English, but I don’t get ESPN.

Fortunately, I do get Univision in my cable package which is broadcasting the games in Spanish. I speak Spanish, so I should be good (I also don’t really care what the announcers say whatever language they’re speaking).

The games are also broadcast over ESPN’s radio stations. The local one for Davis and the surrounding area is 1320AM.

So if you’re into soccer/football like I am you should check out some of the games!

The USA plays Ghana at 3:00PM Pacific time on Monday July 16th. I expect them to win that match, but not make it out of the group stages of the tournament.

That’s all for now!

-Mister Ed

The Fault in Our Stars

I read The Fault in Our Stars next to my cat, Carmelita.
I read The Fault in Our Stars next to my cat, Carmelita.

This weekend I read a popular young adult fiction book, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.

The book is written from the point of view of Hazel, a teenager with lung cancer (15% survival rate, likely higher for her specific case) who is always hooked up to a respirator.

She begins attending a support group for teenagers with cancer. At the support group she meets Isaac and his friend, Augustus.

Hazel begins dating Augustus, who has a a less lethal type of cancer than her (osteosarcoma, 80% survival rate).

The book explores how teenagers react to their own terminal illnesses, how their families and friends react, and what a cancer patient might want to be remembered for.

One of Hazel’s struggles is that she doesn’t want to only be known for having cancer.

She loves poetry and reading. The book acknowledges that she is even smart enough to be attending community college for some type of English degree.

Unfortunately, all of Hazel’s friends from before cancer only see her as a sick person, not someone who loves literature.

Sick of pity from her old friends, Hazel has withdrawn from public life and only interacts with her family and her new friends from the support group who personally understand her illness.

Hazel also withdraws because “she is a grenade.”

She fears her eventual death and doesn’t want to hurt anyone who gets attached to her. Thus, she avoids making such attachments.

I’d definitely recommend the book. It’s a quick read, well written if predictable, and on a topic worth learning more about.

There’s also a movie adaption coming out on June 6th 2014 in the USA. The book wasn’t enough, so I’ll be going to the movie to get more even if the story is the same.

I’ll probably check out more of John Green’s work too.

-Mister Ed

Haircuts

I got the best haircut of my life last week. I tend to say this every time I go to a barber, but this time it felt objectively true.

In the past I have always chosen to go to barber shops for my haircuts. My parents took me to hair stylists occasionally but it never worked out. One of them pulled my hair and the other two I’ve seen operate out of their own homes which always seemed quite odd to me.

I’ve enjoyed the barbers I’ve seen in the past. One of them let me play Link’s Awakening on his old Gameboy Pocket while he cut my hair. Another loved hearing about what I’d learned in school lately. One liked to brag about all the famous people he was connected to, saying things like, “My friend knows the guy who wrote that book!” One had a Coke machine from the 1930’s that you could get a bottle from for only a quarter.  Another place had the shop filled with action figures for kids to play with and homemade wicker bicycles for adults to gawk at. A few others had a TV in the barber shop always playing the History Channel or baseball as if those were the only two channels in existence.

I’ve been to a lot of different barber shops, not because my family moved, but because I have zero loyalty to any of them. While many of them did nice things for me, I never felt a lasting  special connection to any of them. I did like the one who listened to what I’d learned in school, but I stopped going to that shop when he moved away.

Barber shops are traditionally located somewhere in a downtown area with that nice rotating pole out front to tell you what the shop is. They have the haircutting seats inside and a bench constructed from a row of old theater seats for customers to wait on. There’s a table or a rack of magazines and newspapers to choose from. If there isn’t a table or a rack, then the magazines inevitably occupy one of the bench seats. I have yet to find any exceptions to this stereotype despite going to around two dozen different barbers.

Recently, I have been visiting only Asian immigrant barbers. In high school I stopped enjoying talking to my barber when I noticed they weren’t remembering who I was. Why would I bother updating them on my life’s progress when they wouldn’t actually see progression over the different times I came to see them? I started going to barber shops run by foreigners because they didn’t have enough confidence in their English skills to initiate a conversation with me. Thus, I never had to politely answer the typical barber questions about my life as the Asian barbers wouldn’t ask them.

Which brings me to my haircut last week. In my typical fashion, I said I needed to get a haircut a month ago when my hair started getting in my eyes. I put it off as long as I could. I finally gave in by going to Supercuts instead of my typical downtown Asian barber because Supercuts is open until 8PM on weekdays, which is pretty convenient. Even better, the local Supercuts is also right by my grocery store.

I walked in  at 7PM and made an appointment for 7:15 with the cashier (I’ve never seen a barber shop with a cashier). I did my grocery shopping and came back in time for my haircut with the stylist. She sat me down and this is where it gets good.

She actually asked me how I liked my haircut. Not the typical “long or short” bullshit. She actually asked about specific parts of my hair. Do you like it long on the sides? How would you like your sideburns? How do you like your bangs? Would you like the back to be square or rounded? Is this the right length?

FINALLY! A haircutter who knew how to actually please me with the haircut. I didn’t even notice that I was starting to have an enjoyable conversation with her. I walked away with the exact haircut I had imagined in my head. I’ll definitely be going back there again and asking for the same stylist.

That’s all for today!

-Mister Ed