Neighbors 2 Review

Neighbors 2

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising is the latest comedy directed by Nicholas Stoller who had been involved in a fair number of modern comedies including Forgetting Sarah Marshall, The Five Year Engagement, and the more recent Muppet movies.

Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, and Zac Efron reprise their roles from the first Neighbors movie as Mac, Kelly, and Teddy respectively. A couple of the side characters return as well but who cares about them?

The fraternity from the last movie has sold their house and moved on. Mac and Kelly are getting ready to sell their place to upgrade for more acreage or something (the reason is never really stated).

They have a buyer and they enter the closing period of escrow when suddenly a sorority moves in next door in the fraternity’s old house!

The reason for the sorority’s existence is a rather nice critique on the Greek system which I will attempt to explain.

Good sororities are almost always a part of the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC). Membership in NPC comes with lots of support, but also lots of rules.

These rules happen to be a bit… sexist. Sororities are not allowed to throw parties or have alcohol in their houses. To get those things they have to go to fraternities.

And as the movie shows, fraternities can have a rapey atmosphere at their parties.

In Neighbors 2, a girl named Shelby decides to buck the system by forming an independent sorority along with her two friends, Nora and Beth.

Having a sorority next door threatens the closing of the sale for Mac and Kelly so naturally a prank war begins just like in the first Neighbors.

It’s a traditional and predictable comedy so at the end everyone has a happy ever after. I won’t spoil more than that.

There’s plenty of good jokes and funny scenes. There might not be a romantic subplot, but it’s a blast.

If you’ve seen Nicholas Stoller’s other stuff I think you’ll like Neighbors 2. If you haven’t seen any of his movies then you should get out from under your rock and go see Neighbors 2.

My favorite part was how the movie approached the sorority girls’ unique brand of feminism.

It’s less socially acceptable for women to do drugs, be gross, and make jokes than men. Instead women are encouraged to be dainty, polite, and out of sight.

The characters in Neighbors 2 directly challenge that stereotype. They smoke and sell pot. They don’t dress up for men and they joke about how they look fabulous with Cheetos in their hair. They throw used tampons at Mac and Kelly’s windows and laugh when it’s suggested that a used tampon is any different than the used condoms that were thrown around in Neighbors 1.

Best of all, Shelby, Nora, and Beth also accept women who don’t want to challenge the American stereotype of what a sorority girl is. If you want to be pretty and polite, that’s fine too.

So if you’re looking for a movie with a strong feminist message or just for some laughs, Neighbors 2 is right for you!

-GoCorral

Sisters Movie Review

Sisters

The other day I saw Sisters, the comedy starring Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.

I’ve heard that Fey and Poehler are good friends and that definitely helped with their chemistry in Sisters.

Fey and Poehler produced the movie and given how the movie played out it seemed very much to be a movie they had chosen because it needed a pair of leading ladies.

The two sisters are opposites. Fey plays Kate, a mother of a college-aged daughter and a hair stylist who is constantly getting fired for her attitude. Poehler plays Maura, a goody two-shoes character who is financially successful but still has trouble talking to men. Both women are in their forties.

The parents of the titular Sisters move out of their old home into a retirement community. They call their daughters and ask them to come clean out their rooms before the sale of the home closes.

Kate and Maura are upset that the house representing their childhood is being sold.

As a way of saying goodbye to that part of their lives and moving on into the future they decide to throw one last house party.

They invite all their friends from high school who are still in the area.

From there the movie is fairly predictable. Crazy hijinks ensue. Drugs are involved. The cops are called. The party gets more and more out of control. By the end the house is absolutely wrecked.

While there were some good parts I did not like the movie as a whole.

Comedies don’t always make me laugh when I watch them alone, but in a room full of people I expect to laugh a lot.

I did not laugh much during Sisters and neither did the other people in the theater. The jokes just weren’t good enough.

Sisters also offered a weak subplot of Kate and Maura working out the personality problems they’d taken from childhood to adulthood. This plotline didn’t really move forward until the final few minutes of the movie. It served as a vehicle for the jokes, which is fine in most comedies, but not in ones that aren’t funny.

It’s possible that I just missed the jokes because they were directed at people in their forties like the characters in the movie; however, there were a few middle-aged people in the theater and they weren’t laughing either.

Maybe the movie would be funnier to people who are fans of Fey and Poehler, but that’s not me. I dislike their past work.

Ultimately, I can’t really recommend seeing Sisters. A comedy that isn’t hilarious just isn’t worth watching.

-GoCorral

New Dog, Copper

Copper with his technicolor rope (it looks brown to him).
Copper with his technicolor rope (it looks brown to him).

I got a new dog three weeks ago named Copper.

He’s a Jack Russel/Yorkshire Terrier mix as you can see.

Before we adopted him he was found on the street when he was about one year old. His first shelter gave him all his shots, but he was apparently too shy for adoption. They were going to put him down.

A different shelter adopted him to prevent his death. They neutered him and about a month after that we got him.

He’s been quite a hand full. The shelter my wife and I adopted him from assured us that he was house trained, leash trained, and got along with cats.

I can assure you that none of those things were true when we got him.

He’s pooped in pretty much every room in the house. We’ve been working solidly on house training him, but its still frustrating.

He’s somewhat leash trained, but he doesn’t like going on walks for some reason. Copper doesn’t run when I tell him I’m taking him on a walk, but he doesn’t get very excited either.

Once the walk starts he spends the first two blocks trying to go back home until he realizes that I won’t let him do that. Then he starts enjoying his time outside.

And the cat thing. He actually does get along with the cats now that he knows them, but at first it was just a bunch of fights between them. Their relationship still isn’t perfect, but at least they aren’t trying to murder each other 24/7 anymore.

He certainly isn’t shy around us, but he’s proven to be very territorial and aggressive towards other people. The best way to fix that is to take him to a dog park and socialize him with other dogs.

I’d like to do the dog park thing, but unfortunately, Copper doesn’t know any basic commands yet. If he went wild for some reason at the park there’d be no way to control him besides force.

I’ve been teaching him basic commands (sit, down, stay, come, off, drop) and he’s made some improvements. Hopefully he’ll master those within the next few weeks and then we can take him to the dog park.

He’s shown promise for learning a few other commands as well. He loves to jump up and down on his hind legs. He can close drawers by jumping up and pushing on them. He knows how to do rolls and how to fetch. He just isn’t trained to do any of those things on command yet.

The fortunate thing is that if he does tricks like those on his own, then he can be trained to do them on command fairly easily. I’ll work on that after he reliably does the basic commands.

Sitting on my lap while I write the blog.
Sitting on my lap while I write the blog.

Copper is a great dog. I’d wanted a dog for a long time and I’d built up this ideal dog in my head that I would get when the time is right. Copper is not that dog, but he’s showing that he can be if we help him to learn how.

-GoCorral

Home Wish List

All the majesty of note paper made for teachers.
All the majesty of note paper made for teachers.

While cleaning out one of the moving boxes I found an old list of stuff my wife and I made.

The list is of things we wanted in our house and the list was made before we started looking for our house.

So here it is!

1. Two stories Check!
We got this one! Bedrooms and office on the second story. Everything else on the bottom floor.
2. A block or more away from a main road Check!
The reason for this one was to let the cats go outside unsupervised without worrying about them being run over on a main road.
3. A two car garage Check!
We won’t necessarily park both our cars in it (once we get another car), but its nice to have the option.
4. A big kitchen with a counter Check!
Our old place had a tiny kitchen without an island counter. Getting a big place to make meals feels great!
5. A dining room Check!
The old apartment had a tiny little section for the dining table that wasn’t really its own room. Our new house doesn’t have a dining room either, but it has two large places where the table can go (we’re using one of them).
6. Laundry Check! 
We’ve got a washing machine and a dryer! No more lugging clothes 300 feet to the laundry building in our complex or hoarding quarters like they’re more valuable than gold.
7. A backyard Check!
Yep! Got a real nice backyard that’s good for playing in with kids or for having meals during the summer.
8. A front yard Sort of.
We have landscaping in the front but I wouldn’t really call it a yard. Too many bushes and things. We could change it to have a yard though!
9. Solar panels Check!
The solar panels are sort of leased through a company. We don’t own the solar panels. A company does and they sell us the electricity they produce for about the same amount that PG&E charges. We then get reimbursed from PG&E for any excess electricity the panels produce. Odd way of doing it, but we are contributing to renewable energy with the panels!
10. Hardwood floors Sort of.
I’m allergic to dust which crops up in carpeted floors. Hardwood doesn’t collect dust the same way. We’ve got carpet on the second floor, but the bottom floor is tiled. That’s good enough for me.
11. Dance studio Sort of.
Not really present in the house. Instead we have a big mirror in the entrance hallway to the house that serves pretty much the same purpose. There’s plenty of space to dance there with a mirror to look at yourself even if it isn’t an official dance studio.
12. An office Check!
Yep! Writing this post in the office right now.
13. A big bath tub attached to the master bathroom No. 
Can’t have everything.
14. A pool No.
We didn’t get this one either, but that was a conscious choice. We looked at a house with a pool and it took up most of the backyard which we also wanted. Plus, the maintenance on a pool is pretty expensive.
15. Painted blue with white trim No.
We like the colors, but it isn’t blue with white trim. We could still repaint the house in the future.
16. A big tree for a swing or a tree house Check! 
The treehouse is actually a playhouse, but its basically what I wanted. All good!
17. A better HVAC system than our apartment Check!
Our old apartment had wall AC units and a heater that didn’t work (heater wasn’t that big an issue in Davis). One of the rooms never got AC. The new house has central heating and AC that both work great. We’ve also got a whole house fan which is a much more energy efficient method for cooling the house at night.
18. A fireplace Check!
Got a fireplace in the back living room. We haven’t used it yet but we probably will sometime next winter.
19. Big bedroom closets Check!
The closets aren’t as big as the walk-in one at the old apartment, but they’re still big enough for us.
20. Close to where my wife works Sort of. 
The house is about a mile and a half from the school where my wife works, so not as close as we originally wanted. This ended up being a good thing as my wife wanted to avoid seeing her students outside of school. Just a little tough to always have to be “on” as a teacher at the grocery store. We live in a different neighborhood than the school so none of the kids are around here.
21. Space for a garden Check!
There aren’t any planter boxes yet, but we’ll get some.

And that’s it! We got most of the stuff that we wanted and it feels pretty good.

-GoCorral

Unpacking

IMG_3079
Putting together packaged furniture while the cats observe.

Unpacking boxes takes an awful lot of work.

My in-laws had come up just to help with the big furniture. After they left we were still left bunches of boxes to unpack.

Additionally, we hadn’t fully moved out of our old apartment. We have a lease that extends until the end of August. There are ways to get out of the lease, but moving somewhere else isn’t really one of them.

We have the option to sublease, but there are tons of people that want to sublease during the summer in Davis. We don’t even have the added benefit of offering a continuation of the lease past August because our apartment complex already found someone for that slot.

So why didn’t we wait until we’d finished the apartment lease before moving into a new home?

It’s mostly because the home is way bigger and a better place to live in. We thought about it prior to moving. Either way we end up paying the same amount of money. The apartment lease is for X amount of months whether we stay in it or not. The house we buy/bought will be Y amount of dollars whether we buy it in March or August.

So we’re not actually paying anymore money than if we’d stayed in the apartment until August. We have to pay MORE now, sure, but the total amount is the same.

I’ve got a decent amount saved up, so paying more now isn’t a huge inconvenience.

In exchange for paying more now we get to live in the house six months earlier. Woohoo!

Living in the new house includes many beneifts, most of which are related to choosing how our new house will be set up.

We get to decide where everything goes in our kitchen and the garage. We get to pick out plants to grow in the backyard. We get to pick out art to go on the walls or to present on shelves. We get to print out more pictures to put on our walls. We get to find places to put all the cat stuff. Stuff that never had a “place” at the old apartment (my wife’s shoes) get a whole new piece of furniture devoted to them.

All the new stuff is super great! And we get to blast music and stomp on the floor and not worry about offending our neighbors anymore. Nobody lives directly under or beside us.

Taking out the trash isn’t a huge trek across the parking lot (100 yards feels huge when you’re carrying 50+ pounds!). The laundry machines are much closer and I don’t have to hoard quarters like a lunatic anymore.

So many cool new things and this is only the beginning!

-GoCorral

Moving In

PIcture was taken by the house inspector. I'm in the doorway!
This picture was taken by the house inspector. I’m in the doorway!

So where have I been the last month or so with my posts?

Moving into this brand new house of course!

Well, it’s not actually brand new. It was built in 1975, but you get the idea.

My wife and I packed up most of our stuff and her parents and then on a Saturday her parents came down to help us with everything.

Last time we’d moved I had rented the truck and driven it. Being unfamiliar with how to drive a truck resulted in me sideswiping another car while parking. No serious damage to either vehicle, but I got scared of driving something that big.

My in-laws were willing to drive it for us this time.

So we spent all of Saturday sweating and puffing as we moved all the furniture downstairs, into the truck, and inside the new house.

The hardest part was the couch. The couch is an Ikea couch and came delivered in 6 parts.

Putting those parts together was an extremely annoying experience that I wasn’t looking forward to repeating so I convinced my relatives that we could get it out of the house without taking it apart.

I turned out to be just barely right about this. We turned the couch on its side and even then it barely fit through the door. Grappling it down the stairs was an art form.

We were tempted to tip it over the side of the banister halfway down the stairs and be done with it, but we resisted.

Eventually we got the thing down the stairs and into the truck.

Moving it into the new house was much easier. A ground floor entrance and double doors helped that process a lot.

We’re now about a month away from that Saturday and have mostly moved in. More stories to come! Hopefully I can get my act together and keep posting here with some regularity.

 

-GoCorral

Finalized the House

Just how it is.
Just how it is.

Woohoo! We got the keys to the house finally!

I got them in the afternoon and we went to check out the house which is now officially ours later that day.

We met one of our next door neighbors during that visit and her son and his children.

Her son’s house had apparently burned down so they were staying there until they got a rental lined up.

Pretty weird stuff, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.

We learned a little bit more about the neighborhood too.

The other next door neighbor house is apparently a boarding house for UC Davis students.

We journeyed over to Ikea the next day to buy some furniture things.

We got a new bed frame for our new bedroom. The old frame will be going in the guest room.

We got some stuff for our second bathroom and we also got some curtains.

There was an unfortunate problem with all the curtains at Ikea. Every single one of them was at least eight feet long. This is an industry standard I guess.

We’ll have to cut and hem the curtains, but given how wide they are, we’ll need a sewing machine for that.

My wife is dreading asking her mom for the sewing machine because when she was a teenager she adamantly refused a sewing machine as a gift, stating that she “would never need it.”

Well… Now we do!

Maybe we can borrow one from my family instead. Or just buy one. Hemming those curtains by hand would be a nightmare.

And what would such a fun weekend be like without something going wrong! The hottest day of winter happened and we weren’t dressed appropriately (stupid Californians wearing sweaters in 65 degree weather!). We were unable to move as much stuff as we wanted to because of this.

Next things on the agenda, assemble what furniture we did get from Ikea and start moving as much as can from our apartment to the new house before spring break when we get my wife’s parents to come up and help with the big items.

-GoCorral

Buying a House

My wife and I have been thinking about buying a house for awhile and over the last few weeks we have set things in motion for us to actually get one.

The first thing we did was to call a real estate agent that had gotten a house for a couple we’re friends with.

The real estate agent set us up on a tour of houses in Davis in what we’d guessed our price range was. We fell in love with the first house we saw and none of the other houses compared to that one.

The house itself has four bedrooms and two full bathrooms. There’s an additional room upstairs that is designed to be an office space. There are two living rooms, a back patio, and a side patio. The kitchen is massive and there’s also an awesome play structure in the backyard. On top of the roof are some solar panels. The house is at the end of a block long cul-de-sac and right next to a park at the back of the street.

Basically, the house is amazing. We fully believe that we could live in the house for the next forty years.

So after deciding we wanted to make an offer on the house we had to go through a flurry of gathering papers and sending them off to the lender to get us a mortgage. Bank statements, loan statements, W2s, paystubs, credit card statements. SO MANY STATEMENTS!

We quickly got a prequal letter for a mortgage and we made an offer on the house.

The house had been on the market for five months, so initially we were going to lowball it. But apparently two other couples had gone to the open house and were going to make offers on the house as well. We went for list price and the current owners snatched our offer up the next morning.

The next step was lining up house inspections to make sure we weren’t getting a dud of a house.

The inspections happened this week. They found a few problems, but nothing major (no walls made of cardboard, no explosives under the floorboards, etc.). We’re asking the current owners to fix some of the problems before we close escrow.

There’s been a steady stream of other forms to sign going back and forth between my wife and I, the real estate agent, the solar company, our insurance company, and the lender.

It’s been an exhausting experience. When I get home I’m often printing off another form to sign, signing it, scanning it back into my computer, and then emailing it off again. The process would probably be even more exhausting 25 years ago when the forms all had to be dropped off in person or sent through snail mail!

But we’ve lined up an amazing house to move in to. Here! Take a look!

The view when you first come into the house.
The view when you first come into the house.
One of the TWO living rooms.
One of the TWO living rooms.
The big ol' kitchen.
The big ol’ kitchen.
I will climb on this thing every day once we move in.
I will climb on this thing every day once we move in.

-GoCorral

Bucket List

Around Thanksgiving last year I made a bucket list for myself. A bucket list is a list of things you want to do before you die (kick the bucket).

So here’s the list along with why I want to do each thing.

1. Finish my Things Fall Apart screenplay and attempt to turn it into a movie.
I read Chinua Achebe’s novel, Things Fall Apart, in high school and one of my first thoughts upon finishing it was, “This would make an awesome movie.” I set out to find the movie and… there isn’t one. There is a TV show, but it was produced in Nigeria and I couldn’t find a DVD version available in the USA. I started a screenplay adaption of the book and also seriously considered going to Bard for college where Achebe taught while he was still alive. I’d still like to see a movie of Things Fall Apart and with no one else working on it as far as I know, it’s up to me! I would have to get permission from Achebe’s family at some point though.

2. Have kids.
Pretty simple American dream stuff here. I like children a lot. I want to have some of my own.

3. Coach soccer for my kids.
This was one of the big things that my dad and I did together to bound when I was a kid. He coached my AYSO soccer teams so I got to hang out with him a lot over the years. I’d like to have the same sort of bond with my kids.

4. Attend a dance recital for my kids.
While I played soccer as a kid, my wife did dancing. Since I want our kids to play soccer it’s only fair that they dance too. I can’t teach dancing, but I can still support my kids doing it by going to see them.

5. See Wicked.
People have been telling me how good this musical is ever since it came out and ten years later I still haven’t see it or the movie. I should fix that before I die.

6. Go to a secluded ruin in Greece.
I love ancient Greek and Roman culture. I visited Rome and Athens with my sister in high school. I got to see a lot of the still intact buildings while I was there like the Pantheon, Partheon, Colosseum, and the Temple of Olympian Zeus. I’d like to see other ruins that are in more secluded areas instead of being in the downtown tourist places of capital cities. Greece has plenty of secluded islands with ancient ruins in the Aegean, so I’d like to go to one of those. Preferably with my wife coming along.

7. Learn ancient Greek.
Part of the whole loving ancient Greek and Roman culture. There wouldn’t be much purpose to knowing ancient Greek beyond doing it for its own sake. I might be able to read the Iliad in the original language but I have a feeling that I’d still enjoy the translated version better because I wouldn’t need to look up what a word means every five lines. Still! I wanna learn ancient Greek!

8. Have a popular website/attached sites.
This site. The one you’re on right now. And/or the Twitch and YouTube channels I’ve started up.

9. Design something for a video game that is actually used in that video game later on.
I’d like this to be through merit along. Something like designing a champion for League of Legends that Riot Games actually uses in the game. That’s unlikely because A) Riot avoids using fan made ideas to avoid copyright issues, and B) I might not be good enough at designing video game concepts to pull this off. If all else fails a few of the larger rewards for video game Kickstarter campaigns allow you to create something for the game. If merit doesn’t pan out for whatever reason, I can always use money.

10. Buy a house.
More American dream stuff. Pretty simple. I think most people want a place to live that belongs to them and them alone.

11. Do a dance routine with my wife to Aqua’s “Barbie Girl”
When I was in elementary school I went to a sleepover camp. One night there was a dance where all the kids and the counselors got together, danced, hung out, and watched movies. Two of the counselors did some sort of choreographed routine to Aqua’s “Barbie Girl” that amazed me ever since. I’d like to replicate it in some way with my wife.

12. Finish the novel/novel series I’ve been working on called Light’s Shadow.
I had a recurring dream when I was a kid where I inserted myself into various TV shows and comics that I watched/read. I started writing a novel of it and I’d like to finish it before I die. I’d also like to publish it before I die, but given that the premise of the novel includes about a dozen copyrighted works, I doubt that’s happening. I might be able to put it on a fan fiction website though.

13. Finish the Gurutama campaign setting and create a PDF of it that I can upload here.
In the process of doing this one on here already. The end goal is to have something that resembles an official D&D campaign setting in one document. Illustrations, borders, page numbers, etc. The whole thing.

14. Invent a cool biology thing.
One of my idols is Sir William Lawrence Bragg, the youngest scientist to ever win the Nobel prize at 25 years old. He, along with his father, invented X-ray crystallography which was used to discover the double-helix structure of DNA and many other molecular structures. Unfortunately it is virtually impossible to get the Nobel prize at that age today. Nobel prizes in the sciences are often given ten years after an initial experiment as the Nobel committee waits for others to replicate the work of the original discoverer. Most people don’t have amazing scientific discoveries until they’re at least 25 years old which would make it difficult to copy Sir William Lawrence Bragg. I’d still like to do something of scientific significance. Hopefully something to do with endosymbiosis, but I’ll take whatever the world ends up giving me.

15. Go camping in Yosemite with my wife and kids.
My family did this a lot when I was a kid and I really liked it. Got to keep the tradition alive!

And there you have it. My bucket list objectives as of January 2015.

-Mister Ed

Thanksgiving Traditions

For those of you who don’t know, today is Thanksgiving in the USA! Turkey time!

My family has a few Thanksgiving traditions.

First, we set up the table for everyone who is coming over. This involves adding extra leaves to make it bigger as well as covering the table in butcher paper.

The butcher paper is not for butchering, but for writing on. We write and draw things we’re thankful for, like each other, or well-made bread, or that more Star Wars movies are coming out.

Then we have the usual food traditions of turkey, potatoes, stuffing, gravy, and cranberry sauce.

Additional food is for my wife, who is a vegetarian. She likes making spanikopita instead of turkey. Spanikopita is a baked dish made with filo dough, butter, cheese, and spinach. Its really good!

We all eat the dinner and usually avoid the awful drama of arguments with your relatives.

After dinner is pie time.

My sister is the one who usually makes the pies. The typical number is eight, which ends up being about one per person at Thanksgiving dinner.

After eating everything we spend the rest of the night cleaning before falling asleep early.

But the fun isn’t over there! The next morning there is still plenty of pie left to eat! My sister invites all her friends over to eat the leftover pies. I know most of them, so its good to catch up with them and eat sugar for breakfast.

Most of those traditions are getting disrupted this year. My sister has moved to Ohio and is staying there this year. My dad and step-mom are going to my step-mom’s aunt’s house for the holiday, so they’re not in town either. I’m spending Thanksgiving with my lovely in-laws!

Most everyone in my wife’s family are vegetarians, so there will be no turkey this Thanksgiving. The spanikopita will be replacing it. Everything else is still going to be here though! Stuffing, potatoes, cranberry sauce, pie, and people that I love.

There’s also talk of going on a hike before cooking begins.

I miss seeing my direct family, but I saw them last month and I’ll get to see them all again in December for Christmas. At least I get to see the family cat because I’m taking care of her while they’re away.

I hope you all have a happy Thanksgiving wherever you are and however you celebrate it!

-Mister Ed