Archive for the ‘TV / Movies’ Category

Serenity Now!

Thursday, April 28th, 2005

Usually I try to limit my posts to poker content, or at least tie them to poker in some way. But, today I will make another exception. The new Serenity trailer came out on Tuesday – Joss Whedon’s film version of his TV show Firefly – and the world must be told. Sadly, the show, one of the best on television, was cancelled just halfway through its first season, but the sales of the DVD convinced Universal to get behind a movie. The wait until September has just become unbearable.


Tuesday, March 29th, 2005

I don’t know if I’ve ever written an uberpost in the history of this blog, but I think this may qualify.

One of the players from my bi-weekly tournament invited me to his own home game. In the 14 months I’ve been running the tournaments, this it only the second invitation I’ve gotten and the first I’ve been available to play at. I suppose no one wants to invite the tournament winner to their own games. *grin* I knew this game wouldn’t be as serious as my usual tournament, so I settled in with a few beers for the pot-limit hold’em tournament. I bounced in fourth after a few hours of not being able to find a hand, but it didn’t take that long for us to to start a little pot-limit side game. Kind fellows that we are, we pushed the two remaining heads-up players from the tournament over to the side of the table so we could play. I ended up with a few extra dollars at the end of the night and would have been up a few more if it weren’t for a particularly painful loss to a set made on runner-runner threes. But it was a lot of fun and I enjoyed not having to organize the thing and drinking a beer or two (or half a dozen).

Of course, like ever other good poker blogger out there, I was also facing 1400 hands at Party to unlock my March bonus. Pretty standard play at the PL25 tables (it takes too long to find multiple tables at PL50) but I also played a bunch of hands at the seven card stud hi/lo .5/1 tables. At first I was playing pretty solidly and booking some small wins, but I started loosening up on Friday and Saturday and managed to dump a 1/2 of my bonus. I made some of it back at the hold’em tables, but I’d really like to go back to making a profit *on-top* of the bonus.

Of course, distractions abounded. On Friday I spent most of the day reinstalling my main machine, which has started to lock up recently. Everything went well, but I don’t think playing on my laptop while finishing the install was a profitable decision. I feel bad for the players who had to put up with my slower than usual play.

But an even bigger distraction was my new PSP which I picked up Thursday morning. Wow. I’d read the hype and was relatively excited about getting my hands on my very own PSP, but I was ready for it not to be quite as spectacular as all the reviews said. Boy was I wrong. The system is amazing. First of all, it looks beautiful. The video quality is amazing and the screen is huge for a portable system. And the games are good, and plentiful, something that Nintendo really got wrong with the launch of the DS. I bought Wipeout Pure and Lumines and the system came with Gretzky NHL, which I haven’t even tried. It also came with a UMD (a propietary media format) of Spider-man 2 and I have to confess that the video and audio (via headphones) quality far exceeded my expectations. I don’t know how successful this new UMD format will be, but as soon as I get a larger memory stick, I will be using the video capabilities of the device quite regularly. My only problem with the system is that it is only a matter of time before I miss my subway stop while absorbed in my PSP. It almost happened twice over the weekend.

I used to be a complete movie whore. My friends used to dread going to rent movie store with me because we always had a heck of a time finding new releases that I hadn’t seen. But over the last few years, I haven’t watched anywhere near as many as I used to. In fact, my movie viewing habits have become somewhat sad. I hadn’t seen any of the Oscar nominated films this year. I corrected that somewhat last weekend I finally picked up a copy of The Incredibles. I’m a huge fan of animated movies and thought highly of The Iron Giant, director Brad Bird’s previous film. And of course, Pixar has yet to make a mistep in its short history. Even with those high expecations, I was still blown away by The Incredibles.

The thing I found most striking about it was the fact that the movie doesn’t play like an animated film. The story is as well developed and the characters as fully realized as in any live action script – a fact acknowledged by the Academy’s Best Screenplay nomination for Bird. The argument between Helen and Bob in the middle of the film was just as powerful a scene as any you’ll see in a live action movie, and better than most. But the filmmakers are also not afraid to take full advantage of the medium and the movie looks beautiful. The art direction and animation are perfect. The action sequences simply shine and are far more interesting and well constucted than any from the action blockbusters I recall seeing in the past few years. I don’t know how they could even put Shrek 2 and A Shark’s Tale in the same category for Best Animated Picture. Shrek 2 was funny enough, I suppose, but it will not stand the test of time nearly as well as The Incredibles. Hmmm…can you tell I liked the movie?

I ended the weekend with a tasty Easter dinner at a friend’s house who was kind enough to invite me after learning I was staying in town for the weekend. I brought a bottle of wine and some Kinder eggs (a personal family tradition) and was treated to a delicious turkey feast. I ate too much, but I guess that is to be expected on a holiday Sunday.

Addendum: Just listened to this week’s Card Club on Lord Admiral Radio and my site was mentioned in reference to an email I sent them a couple weeks back. Thanks Sean, I appreciate the link. Just wish I’d actually had some recent posts up. And congratulations on your 19th show (has it already been that long?).

Second addendum: Ok, maybe it wasn’t an uberpost, but it was still pretty lengthy. And it took me far too long to finish. I had intended to write more about each of the individual topics but by the time I was able to revisit them, most of the thoughts had fled from my head. I will eventually get the hang of this blogging thing.


Saturday, October 9th, 2004

Looking a free afternoon with most people out of town, I decided today would be a good opportunity to take in a matinee double header downtown. I don’t get to the theatre as much as I used to, and there were a few films that I really wanted to get to see on the big screen.

The first was Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. I’ve wanted to see it since I saw the first trailers over a year ago. I fell completely in love with the stylized visuals of the film. And while I’ve heard mixed reactions from those who’ve seen the film, I was still determined to see it before it left theatres. And as the movie began, I could certainly understand the complaints about the extensive green screen work. But it didn’t take very long for me to abandon any reservations in the face of the director’s remarkable vision. As soon as the flapping mechanical creatures attacked the base in the second action piece of the film, I was completely lost in the fantasy. And the film just continued to layer on the pulp influences. But the key is how un-self-concious the movie is. Nothing is tongue-in-cheek, there are no jarring popular culture references. Everything is completely serious while at the same time not taking itself too seriously. I’m sure that it would be easy to reject the film out of hand given the fantastical elements of the plot, but for those who can appreciate an adventure film, this is the purest example I’ve seen since perhaps Raiders of the Lost Ark. High praise perhaps, and Sky Captain would suffer from direct comparison. But it is a refreshing entry in a genre that has been under-represented as of late. Of course, I believe I was in perhaps the perfect mood to see it this afternoon, so they may color my strong reaction.

The second movie was Hero. I’ve read about it online for years now and the few reports I’ve gotten from friends were very enthusiastic. The movie started well, with a beautifully stylish fight sequence in the rain, but I found the repeated retelling of the second encounter that made up the middle of the film to be somewhat tiresome. I think my expectations got in the way, anticipating more action instead to the measured pace I should have expected of a Chinese film. By the end my feelings were mixed, but ultimately I was a bit unsatisfied. But a strange thing happened as I got up from my seat and exited the theatre. Somehow things fell into place in my head and I felt a greater appreciation for the entirety of the tale. Even now, I still have the movie on my tongue, appreciating the unanticipated aftertaste. A strange reaction for sure, but definitely an interesting contrast to the pure candy flavour of Sky Captain.

All in all, I’d highly recommend both films and I imagine I will be adding both to my DVD collection when they are released.

Odds & Ends

Tuesday, September 14th, 2004

Due to a looming deadline at the office, I’m not going to be able to put much of a post together for the next couple days. I have a post about my vacation on the go, but I don’t expect to complete it to my satisfaction until much later in the week.

I did manage to carve out an hour for myself to play a little online poker. Despite my best efforts, I managed a winning session. I was making great reads – like knowing my pocket kings were no good against pocket aces with a jack high board – refusing to make the correct play, but managing to drag some decent pots along the way – like when my K hit on the river, disappointing AA and QQ. My questionable play ended up costing me some money, but earning me even more. At least I was wise enough to use my maniac reputation at those tables to sucker some players into calling my big bets when I had big hands. But even mostly correct play was no excuse for making some of the marginal calls I was making. That should learn me for playing poker when I’m not really in the mood.

And while I was able to carve that first hour of time from an available allotment, the second hour (and a bit) was stolen from me when I started watching the first episode of Dead Like Me (from Indigo), a Showtime series recommended by a friend at work. Now, I just put it on to kill a few minutes of my last orbit at the poker table, fully intending to watch it another day, but it sucked me in as soon as a character was struck dead by a space toilet. How can anyone resist humor like that? Actually, the show – about working stiffs (bad pun) in the exciting field of soul reclamation – captured my attention due to its heart as much as its humor, which is actually a bit more sophisticated that flying space toilets. There were a few uneven spots (it was the pilot episode after all) but the characters were interesting and the writing was good. I’m looking forward to watching the rest of the episodes.

And that’s the reason why I didn’t end up posting until so late and why I must go crawl into bed now.


Tuesday, June 15th, 2004

Not much new to report here. Hit quad aces last night and was able to extract some money from them. That was in the middle of two hours or so of pretty solid, if a bit cautious, 25PL play. Then I managed to throw away most of my profit in 10 minutes of truly foolish play.

I read the second volume of 100 Bullets last night and it was even better than the first, if only because many more aspects of the mystery are revealed and many more questions posed.

I also watched the season finale of Deadwood last night. A truly excellent show. At the end of the episode when the camera briefly touched on all the characters, highlighting various relationships, you had to admire the excellent job the cast and crew has done in establishing the thriving community of Deadwood in the minds of the audience. A remarkable task.

Hellboy synopsis

Friday, April 2nd, 2004

I just read what was perhaps the best synopsis I’ve seen for the new Hellboy movie opening today courtesy of Penny Arcade.

Let me see if I cannot tantalize you with a synopsis of the movie. It concerns the collusion of Nazi Clockwork Assassins and Russian Wizards in an effort to puncture space and draw in sleeping, ancient Gods while the paranormal wing of the FBI, assisted by a demon child, does their best to thwart this procedure. It’s essentially pornography for nerds and it opens today.

I’ve been a fan of Hellboy for a few years and have really been looking forward to this movie. I hope it lives up to the promise of the trailer and the source material.

Friday night poker

Saturday, March 20th, 2004

Well, I finished a disappointing 12th in my bi-weekly PLHE tournament. The pace of play was excrutiatingly slow, with many players chatting it up or paying more attention to the TV than the game. I didn’t see any good cards for most of the night, and a rather large stack was developing at my table after getting lucky on some large pots. He knew enough to bully us all around and it was impossible to get into a hand cheaply, and you didn’t know if he was holding another of his great hands or not. Eventually I went all in with a little less than T300 and AT of hearts. I get two callers and the flop comes AKQ of clubs. Not the most inspiring of sights for me, particularly when it gets bet and raised. After the 9 of spades hits on the turns, the shorter stack goes all-in and the bully calls. The short stack turns over TT and the bully A6. Suddenly I’m breathing a little easier and I’m calling for no club. Of course, I get my wish but it’s the last T and I’m out of the tournament. I was pretty frustrated and wandered the room trying to tell everyone my bad beat story. Eventually I calmed down, but it still stung that again I took an early exit from one of these tournaments.

Saturday I had a buddy in from out of town and we went to see Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Wow! It is a great mind-bending movie. I don’t know where Charlie Kaufman gets his ideas, but he is a genius. I highly recommend this movie. I’m still getting my head around some of it and I anticipate that it will keep percolating in my brain for a while yet.

Oscar, Oscar

Sunday, February 29th, 2004

Of course, since I was watching the Oscars, I decided I should play some more poker, when I couldn’t devote my full attention. I figured the servers would still be wonky, but at least I would have tried. If you have no interest in poker, please skip the next paragraph to read my thoughts about the Oscars.

As is always the case when I tell myself it’s ok if I don’t get to play, I get on quickly. Another 40 hands towards unlocking my bonus and another 7BB of profit. I would have kept going, but I knew I was going to be completely useless as soon as they got to the important categories. The one hand that netted me most of my winnings came when I was dealt TT one off the button. I limped along with 7 others – I have to mention that I love the hand replay feature in Poker Tracker, I had half of these details wrong when I first wrote this up. The flop came 4T6 rainbow and I prayed for someone to bet. Second off the blinds obliged me and the next three players see the bet. With three players to bet, I decide to slowplay and call. Unfortunately, the button and big blind fold. But, I figure there are still two or three players who may see the next bet. The turn comes Kc, completing the rainbow. The same player leads off the betting and the table folds around to me. Here’s where I made a mistake. I raise thinking that it’s down to the two of us and I might as well try to grow the pot. Of course, I almost instantly realize that a single bet may have kept the small blind in. And in addition, the initial bettor may have lead off on the river. Unfortunately, I only get the 1BB call on my raise, and second 1BB when my bet is called on the 5h river. I lost a likely 2BB by a bad play. At least I was able to spot my mistake afterwards.

Starting this post a little early. Just watching Tom Cruise announcing the Oscar for Best Director. I’m a bit worried after the landslide Lord of the Rings has won so far.

YES YES YES! Peter Jackson was probably the most deserving director for the past three years. I would have been devestated if he had not been recognized for the last part of the trilogy. Part of this is my inner-geek speaking, but it is mind-boggling to imagine how they were able to bring Middle-Earth to life, particularly in a way that can satisfy life time fans and Tolkien noviates alike. My only disappointment was not seeing Sean Astin nominated for best supporting actor. I don’t know that I think he should have won, but I really would have liked to have seen him nominated.

One of the thing that is really strange to think about is the level of Peter Jackson’s (and cast and crew) accomplishment. To be acknowledged by all these awards, they had to not drop the ball for 5+ years of the movie’s development. If the second or third movies had failed, the incredible achievement of Fellowship – which is still probably my favourite of the three films – would have gone unrecognized.

Fast forward 20 minutes and I’ll echo my previous sentiments. YES YES YES! I am so glad that the fantasy stigma did not prevent the academy from recognizing the best film of the year, and really, one of the best films ever (yes, I fully acknowledge my inner-geek). It’s great to see everyone up there on the stage. And it’s great that the movie tied the record for Oscars for one movie. And if you consider the three films as one, as I tend to, that record has been blown out of the water. I really don’t want to have to listen to Barry, but I guess the night can’t be perfect. Boy, the half of the stage that wasn’t in Lord of the Rings doesn’t look quite as happy to be there. Well, except for Charlize, her smile is radiant. And now I get to go to bed feeling happy and satisfied.