The Choice Movie Review

The Choice

My wife picked Nicholas Spark’s latest movie adaption, The Choice, for us to see. She’d heard it was like the new Notebook which we both liked.

The Choice can best be described as two movies glued together. Let’s dive into it!

Travis, played by Ted Cruz lookalike Benjamin Walker, is a womanizing veterinarian who has a semi-steady girlfriend.

Gabby, played by Teresa “looks like a heroin addict” Palmer, is training to be a doctor and is dating one of her superiors at the hospital, Ryan.

Gabby moves next to Travis and they soon realize they are a terrible fit for each other and that Gabby will never sleep with Travis.

Of course Travis can’t have that! He slowly seduces her. They break up and get together. Yadah yadah, typical romance movie stuff.

Now normally the movie would end there, with the happy couple’s wedding.

The Choice is no ordinary movie though!

Fast forward seven years and Gabby is in a coma due to a car accident.

The movie does not spring this on you suddenly. The first scene was actually Travis entering the hospital with flowers and everything else was a flashback.

Travis has to make the titular Choice, keep Gabby alive in the hope that she will return to him and their two children or remove life support?

I won’t spoil his choice or the results/consequences. The end had many tear jerking moments and that’s all you need to know.

The second part of the movie is great and I’d definitely recommend it. As for the first part…

The first half of the movie suffered from the disease of “all these characters are jerks.”

Everyone had some sort of adolescent sexist agenda. Travis is a lady killer. Gabby distrusts all men. Travis’s sister thinks that because Travis and Gabby are opposites that they will obviously get together.

The minor characters get included in the sexist mess as well. Travis’s friends wives say, “Men have more fun if they feel like they’re getting away with something.”

Additionally, the characters have zero problems in their lives except what I already outlined.

As another review I read states, “in the Nicholas Sparks universe, everyone is beautiful and successful.”

While this let’s the audience focus on the plot it did seem odd to me. For example, Travis encounters no racism when he hangs out with his black friends in Carolina. The Confederate flag is also mysteriously absent from landscape shots of the harbor.

I think that would’ve made an interesting sideplot but I understand why it wasn’t included. The movie is about Travis and Gabby, not Travis and his friends. There might’ve even been a conscious choice to leave our racism with the notion that if racism is absent in media then it could eventually vanish in real life.

Regardless of intentions, all these elements disrupted my suspension of disbelief during the film. I kept thinking, “That doesn’t make sense, why isn’t that there?” or “Oh God, another sexist/patronizing speech.”

Adding to that, Walker looks 40 years old in The Choice while Palmer looks 20. This isn’t accidental. The characters they play are actually 10-15 years apart in age. It adds this whole other creepy element of cradle robbing to the film.

Despite all that I’d still recommend the film for its stellar second half. My gripes disappear there and I can wholeheartedly recommend the movie for a Valentine’s Day date with your significant other.

-GoCorral

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Memorial Day Weekend 2015

My parents-in-law visited for Memorial Day weekend.

They’ve been coming up to Sacramento every Memorial Day weekend for ages because my father-in-law plays drums in the Sacramento Music Festival every year.

Look at those hands!
Look at those hands!
The difference for this visit was instead of all of us staying in a hotel in Sacramento, we had them stay over at our house in Davis.

They arrived on Friday night after we’d spent the day cleaning up the house (Things get really dirty when you’re still in the moving in process!).

My father-in-law wasn’t playing in the Sacramento Festival until Sunday, but he did have a gig in Oakland on Saturday night.

We spent Saturday hanging out and taking a tour of the activities in Davis.

Our new house is right by the Davis Greenbelt, a walking path that goes throughout the whole city and connects most of the city’s parks. We went walking on that and showed the in-laws the neighborhood that we live in now.

They got to visit with the cats and see Carma’s injury.

After my father-in-law left for his job in Oakland we went to our old apartment which we are still paying our lease on and swam in the pool there. I didn’t swim because I thought it was still too cold, but my wife and mother-in-law did.

Sunday morning I had an unfortunate surprise of having to do more schoolwork. I’d thought I was done, but it turned out that I needed to redo one of my lab reports. I spent the morning doing that and then we went to the Music Festival.

Usually we go out for ice cream after the festival, but this time we went to our favorite ice cream place, Leatherby’s, before. Ice cream for lunch is great!

The Festival was a lot of fun. The room my father-in-law’s band, The Royal Society Jazz Orchestra, played in was so full that even though we were related to one of the band members it was difficult to find a seat.

After dancing and listening to some 20s and 30s style jazz we came back home and I continued to work on my lab report late into the night.

The next morning I continued to work on my report with a break to chat and talk with the in-laws before they left.

A great little visit from family. Lots of fun!

We figured out we could probably use another little trashcan, a lamp, and some hangers for future guests.

That’s the story from Memorial Day Weekend!

-GoCorral

The Wedding Ringer Movie Review

I watched The Wedding Ringer with my wife (she’s my consistent movie watching partner) and it is the first movie I will be giving a negative review of on my blog!

The premise of the movie is pretty simple. Doug Harris played by Josh Gad is getting married to Gretchen Palmer played by Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting from The Big Bang Theory. Unfortunately, Doug has no friends to be in his wedding party.

Doug calls on Jimmy Callahan played by Kevin Hart to provide “Best Man services.” Jimmy pretends to be Doug’s best friend, Bic Mitchum, and hires seven people to act as Doug’s other groomsmen.

Typical comedy farce ensues as the groomsmen struggle to memorize their fake identities and lie their way through the events surrounding the wedding.

There are some occasional good scenes like there are in any comedy. When Jimmy learns his new pseudonym, Bic Mitchum, he plays around with it a bit, “I’m Bic Mitchum! What’s it to you?”

Sadly, most of the movie is crude humor instead of farce or slapstick. Most of the “jokes” are simply people swearing in stressful situations.

There are also two scenes that effectively ruined the movie for my wife and me.

The first was a football game between the groomsmen and the fiancee’s father and his friends. The game devolves into violence and name-calling. I guess it’s supposed to be funny because the father and his friends are old? It just seemed like an argument between two groups of jerks.

The second scene involved penis humor. I didn’t like it in The Hangover. No one liked it in The Hangover. Why are you bringing it back Hollywood? There was also a dog and some peanut butter involved but I don’t want to get into the specifics in case I ruin the joke for people going to the movie.

The rest of the movie was fine for a comedy, but not amazing. Kevin Hart and Josh Gad do a good job, but I know Kevin Hart can do better.

My favorite part was probably Affion Crocket playing a wisecracking airport customs officer just like he did in Baggage Claim. It’s about as specific a typecast as you could get!

-Mister Ed

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

Weekend Trip to Disneyland

Jack Skellington comes out for Halloween and Christmas
Jack Skellington comes out for Halloween and Christmas

Last weekend my wife and I took an unplanned trip to Disneyland!

We were talking on Friday night about how some people take vacations by going to the airport and just asking for a ticket to the next plane leaving the runway.

I said that doing that was unreliable. “What if you ended up in a boring place? Or a place that you couldn’t afford? It makes more sense to go to some place that you know you’ll like for a vacation, like Disneyland.”

My wife and I went to Disneyland for our honeymoon, so going again will always bring back happy memories for us.

She said she was actually interested in going. Disneyland is fun so I wanted to go to. We decided we’d leave early Saturday morning and spend all day at the park before getting a hotel room and returning Sunday morning.

We looked at plane tickets first, but those cost about $800 for both of us to fly from Sacramento to Anaheim.

We drove instead. A little over 400 miles and 6 hours not counting breaks and traffic.

This was the first long road trip i’d bern on where I was the person driving. It was exhausting, but definitely worth it!

We went through a lot of farm land and dairy land. My wife is a vegetarian and when we passed the occasional stockyard she would clasp her hands together and say, “I love you moo-cows! Someone cares about you! I hope you are safe!”

We checked in to our hotel and headed on over to Disneyland for lunch. It was great being back where we’d had our honeymoon.

After lunch we rode all our favorite rides, Pirates, Space Mountain, Indiana Jones, Peter Pan, Splash Mountain, and Haunted Mansion (seen above). Dinner fit in there somewhere as well.

At the end of the day we saw the firework display and got to watch the Fantasmic water and light show. I LOVE Fantasmic because of the animatronic dragon near the end. It rears up out of the stage and breaths fire on the river. It’s amazing! I’d love to show you, but the show is difficult to capture on video because most cameras aren’t able to handle the sudden changes in light that the show has. Your eyes can handle it, but mechanical cameras are too slow.

Afterwards we went back to the hotel and collapsed. We drove on back the next day!

It was a super fun trip and my first unplanned vacation ever. Plus I had my best friend with me, my wife!

-Mister Ed

Teaching Graduation

 

My father-in-law's picture of the banner behind the graduation stage.
My father-in-law’s picture of the banner behind the graduation stage.

I wanted to write about two things today, but I’ve only got space for one.

My wife had her graduation ceremony for getting her California teaching credential yesterday.

But today the World Cup started!

I decided I’d write about my wife because I am married to her not to soccer.

My wife’s teaching program has several different groups within it.

There are the doctoral students with their PhDs and EdDs.

There are a few people who got their credentials already and are coming back to school to get a Master’s.

Most of the people are getting a Master’s and a teaching credential within the same program.

The program takes two years to complete. The first year ends with a teaching credential, the second ends with a Master’s of Arts in education.

The teaching credential allows you to teach children in California. The MA gives you a pay raise.

The program thus has two groups, one getting their credentials at the graduation ceremony and one getting their MAs.

Those two groups are split once again based on whether they are studying to teach multiple subjects in elementary school or single subjects in middle school or high school.

My wife got her credential in multiple subjects and will be teaching children on her own next year at a elementary school a few blocks from our apartment.

She said that despite the graduation ceremony she doesn’t feel “graduated” yet because she still has another year of school left to get her Master’s (Saturday school as she will now be teaching fulltime).

Her family came into town for the ceremony. We sat through the speeches and clapped when she went up on stage to have her honor cord placed on her shoulders.

Afterwards we went out to eat at a great Mexican restaurant and had to wait super long because everyone else had the same idea.

My grandma-in-law got to meet our new cat and see our apartment too!

It was a pretty cool day, but its sad to say goodbye to that part of your life as well.

World Cup news coming soon!

-Mister Ed