Saturday, May 30, 2009

Review: Quantum of Solace

With the kids now outnumbering the adults in my house it's getting a bit tougher to watch movies on DVD or cable. Since my Mom got me an IPod Nano for my birthday, I've decided to try and transfer some movies to iPod and watch them when I'm out and about. With the latest James Bond flick, Quantum of Solace, I began watching on my 2 inch iPod screen at Walmart last weekend while waiting for new tires. It really isn't that bad and the sound is still very good through the headphones. I finished up the movie at my gym which has LifeFitness stationary bikes that come with an iPod adaptor. I just plug in my Nano and I can control my iPod through the video screen on the bike. This way I can watch on a more manageable 13 inch screen while getting some cardio in.

On to the film itself. I was a big fan of Casino Royale which sits at #1 on my personal list of favorite Bond movies. This one picks up the storyline of Vesper Lynd's death in the previous movie and how Bond goes on a rogue tirade to avenge her death. The plot is not as intricate as Casino Royale but Daniel Craig still plays Bond well and gives the character an edgy quality not seen in previous incarnations. Craig now seems to be on par with Sean Connery as the best Bond actor to-date. The rest of the cast is merely serviceable with the exception of Judi Dench as "M" who commands the attention of the audience whenever she is on screen. There are some good chase scenes in this film that feature both automotive and nautical methods of transportation as well as some brutally real hand-to-hand combat. The Bond girl is played by Olga Kurylenko, whose beauty stands up to the "Bond Girl" pedigree. She has a few ass-kicking scenes of her own as well. The villianous piece of this movie is not very imposing. The Quantum organization didn't really give off the feel of an ominous threat to humanity.

Overall I would give this film a 3.5 out of 5. The effects and pacing are pretty well-done but the plot just isn't as engrossing as what we saw in Casino Royale.
It falls within the top half of Bond films but it feels like more of a letdown since it followed Royale. I'm hoping the next Bond (due in 2011) puts the Vesper plot aside and focuses on a new more-worthy villian to go head-to-head with Craig, who has a chance to be the best Bond ever if he gets the right material to work with. Since Harry Potter is winding down, I submit one Alan Rickman (Severus Snape) as a pefect choice to be the next Bond villian.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Eyes Wide Shut

A while back I noticed a weird occurrence when observing the behavior of Josh and Alex in both the swimming pool and the bathtub. When Josh goes underwater (both as a toddler and even to this day), he comes up out of the water and immediately starts to rub his eyes to clear the water. It never fails. I pour water on his head at bath time and the hands immediately go to his eyes to clear the remaining water from his lashes.

Ever since Alex started going to swim class (and at bath time), he comes out of the water eyes wide-open, letting the water drip right off. He may bat his eyelashes a bit but his hands never touch his eyes. Again, this is like clockwork and I notice it more when I pour water on him at bath time. It's fascinating to me that this behavior seems to be engrained in each kid from birth basically. I am just like Josh and always have been. I need to immediately rub my eyes after coming up from being submerged in water. Lori can't recall which way she normally acts post-submersion. I'm starting to think that this behavior is some hidden part of our DNA.

Loyal readers, do you usually rub your eyes after coming up from a swim (goggles don't count)? I'm interested if your kids have the same sort of behavior as Josh or Alex. I'm wondering if this contributes to the fact that Alex seems to enjoy the pool more than Josh does overall.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

What The Hell Happened to Chicken Out?

During an action-packed Memorial Day weekend featuring fishing, grill shopping and assembly, an Aunt meeting her first niece and Bubble Bobble Plus for Wii, we decided to order some dinner from the delicious Chicken Out.  I've been a regular supporter of Chicken Out over the years and enjoy the quality food and their ever-changing menu options (the new Quesadillas are money).  This time around as I picked up the food for carry-out and grabbed a new menu, I immediately noticed a drastic change in branding.  

The old standard Chicken Out branding (which I have always thought was classy and well designed) shown here...

was replaced with this god-awful minimalistic approach...

I don't know what happened here.  Did Chicken Out cut back on expenses and fire their graphic designer?  Do they think this new design is simpler and emphasises healthier options?  I can't figure it out.  It looks like the owner's kid got a hold of Microsoft Publisher and made their own version of the menu.  There are absolutely no images or graphics that convey how the food looks.  Everything is in one type face (Arial?) with just green and white color throughout.  

Now this probably only irritates me because I am a graphic artist at heart, but I thought I would share the new look of Chicken Out.  Interestingly, Chicken Out's website still has the old (better) look and feel.  So hopefully this is not a trend and simply a mistake, although inside the restaurant, the big menu on the wall did have the same boring green and white style.  Pretty scary that this design would have been approved by any non-blind executive.