You can change the world…(revisited)

or at least help to change the world!  On August 20, this Saturday, Yamagami’s Nursery will host a Hope Services Recycled Bike sale. Due to the success of our March collaboration, we decided it should happen again.  The last sale averaged about 25-30 bikes sold in just a few hours.  It was nice to see those happy faces (including mine) leaving with a “new” bike.

Now you’re probably rolling your eyes and saying, “Jery, how is a recycled bike sale going to change the world?”  And to that my friends, I answer thusly:

First:

Hope Services is a wonderful organization that provides programs and services – including job training, counseling and community living — that assist more than 2,500 children, adults and seniors with developmental disabilities.   When you stop by the Nursery on August 20th and purchase a lovingly refurbished recycled bicycle from Hope Services, your money goes directly to Hope Services and they can continue their work in bettering the lives of the people they work with.

Second:

When you buy a recycled bike from Hope Services, you will be helping to save the environment!  Yup, you’ll be easing congestion on the road, consuming less of our limited supply of oil, and saving metal from taking up space in a landfill!  The folks at Hope Services have put a lot of time and energy into bringing the bikes into tip top shape, and three or four of the display bikes have already been snapped up by Yamagami’s customers! So that’s a great indicator of what we’ll be expecting this weekend.

Third:

Save yourself a heap of money! As gas prices near the $4 mark, how many times less will you need to fill up your tank and what kind of dough does that leave in your pocket? Also, if you do use your car less and your bike more, you may want to check with your insurance agent to see if there’s a lowering of your premium since you use your car much less.  I don’t know if it’ll be the case, but it doesn’t hurt you to check, right?

Fourth:

By hopping on your new bike, you are being active and making your body stronger.  Bike riding can not only be beneficial as an exercise item, but also a relaxation devise as well.  Did you have a stressful day? Ride a few miles uphill and you’ll probably forget all about your problems as you focus on the task at hand.

Maybe your thinking, “Jery, I have three bikes and I can only ride one!” Well, then buddy have I got a great idea for you!  Why not donate your other two bikes to Hope Services?  I don’t know if they could be utilized as a tax write off, but come on down to the Nursery on August 20th and talk to the people from Hope Services.

What happens if you can’t make it on the 20th but you still would like to buy a bike?   Never fret, my dears, for Hope Services holds a bike sale every Friday in their warehouse in Santa Clara.  You can find their address and directions on the Hope Services website at http://www.hopeservices.org

I hope we see you at the Hope Services Recycled Bike Sale on August 20th at Yamagami’s Nursery.  For those that don’t know, the nursery is located at 1361 S. De Anza Blvd, right off of the 85 freeway.  The sale will last from 10 am until 3 pm.

If you don’t need or want a bike, then come on down and just walk through the flowers and plants for the fun of it.  You can even check out the winners of our first ever Photo Contest! The top ten photos are on display in our seminar room.  I’ve got my fingers crossed that we’ll be doing that event annually.  Help us support the community, just by stopping by!

Everybody Scream!!!

Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson have returned for another installment of a franchise that reinvigorated the slasher flick genre with a bit of wit, thought, and the old cliche for good measure.  Scream 4, while not as uniquely original as the, well, original,  does keep you looking for the usual suspects like the broody Ex-boyfriend, or the Crazy Eyed deputy that has a torch for the Boss.

For those of you who have never seen a Scream movie, I ask you why not?  Is it because you don’t like slasher flicks or is it because you don’t enjoy that feeling like your heart will skip a beat when something pops out from beyond the camera’s view?  Is it because you feel like the horror movie genre is somehow less intellectual than you would like?  If your reason is because of the latter, I do concur that many of the slasher flicks nowadays can go way too far (like House of 1,000 Corpses or Devil’s Rejects); there are still some that try to challenge you and keep up with the times.

And that brings me back to Scream 4.  The series revolves around Sydney Prescott (Neve Campbell), an “unlucky” girl whose mother was a little too “flirty” with the boys.  At least that’s how the whole thing began.  So long story short, usually during the anniversary of her mother’s killing, someone tries to kill Sydney.  Ta-da.  I’m not trying to make light of the movie. That’s just how it is.

The more I think about this movie, the more I think I like it.  Not just for the entertainment value of it, and it really was entertaining.  I kept turning to my partner in crime and saying, “I bet it’s ———.” throughout the film.  And even though I could figure out the formula, there was a step that I overlooked.   I won’t tell you what part it was, or it may ruin the ending for you.

For a horror movie, the acting was pretty good.  Nothing that is going to win an Oscar or anything, but it was almost all believable. There were a few moments when Neve Campbell would make her usual smile/smirk face as though she was nearly incredulous yet offended at the same time, and I remember thinking, “She does that often, doesn’t she?”  Not just in this series of movies, but in others like The Company (which I really love. It’s a dancing movie, c’mon!)  One of the characters that I had a hard time rooting for was Olivia, played by  Marielle Jaffe, so (SPOILER>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>) I found that when she was a victim, I was A-Okay with it.  Rounding out the major cast is David Arquette as Sheriff Dewey, Courteney Cox as Gale Weathers and Dewey’s Wife, Emma Roberts playing Jill Roberts and Hayden Panettiere as BFF Kirby (who’s hair I LOVED!)

So here’s why I really like this movie.  It’s well directed!  Wes Craven shows why he is the master of suspense.  Once again an iconic serial killer is brought to the public consciousness that people will always associate with a particular image.  Craven’s knack for showing you the victims surprise/pain/anguish is remarkable.  (Inconsequential SPOILER>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>) One that immediately comes to mind is the death of Sydney’s publicist, Rebecca Walters, (Alison Brie).  After the usual intense moments of being trapped in a hospital parking lot in a car with a killer just outside, the victim makes a run to “safety” only to find that the door that separates her from the very people who try to prevent death is locked.  Craven cuts quickly from her trying the door to turning just in time to see that image racing at her with only that door to stop his momentum.  The subtlety could be easily overlooked, but sometimes, on very rare occasions, the lightbulb fizzles on for me.

On top of the directing, Kevin Williamson returns to the franchise that he created and has penned a script filled with smarts, creativity, societal/generational morality/ethics, and humor.  The opening has a triple decker of murder, but all of them are just part of the formula.  Kind of like a cinematic amuse-bouche.  It’s not an appetizer that you just order off the menu; the chef decides to allow you the little morsel of bloody goodness to wet your appetite for what’s to come.   The juiciest piece was Anna Paquin and Kristen Bell! You can totally tell what’s gonna happen, but it’s so funny that there’s no way you can’t enjoy it.

Williamson’s writing for this particular installment stays so modern to  society today in that everything is so Technoriented (yes, I just made that up) there’s no true sense of privacy anymore and there’s hardly any originality being brought to light.  So what’s one to do? To try to outdo the original of course, and in the process to show how you are doing it so that way you can be famous.  One of the scenes is at the “Cinema Club” AKA A/V Club and the leaders of the group go into explaining what the next logical step of a horror film would be.  Their thought (which actually frightens me that someone may get the notion to do this) is that the killer should be taping it and streaming it Vlog style so that the crimes will live on well after the death of the killer.  I hope that never happens, but then again… There’s a wonderful little monologue near the end of the flick where Sydney is being told why this is happening.  It makes mention of the fact that nowadays you don’t have to really do anything special or have any talent to be famous.  You just have to make a lot of crazy decisions or have something horrible happen to you that you can milk.  Of course I am severely paraphrasing here with my bad memory so know that it’s much more interesting and well worded than this.  Hahaha.  As for humor, who else would fit in word play like “Shriek-quel” for sequel?

But I highly recommend taking a gander at the Scream movies if not all of them, then at least the first one and this latest one.  The original movie has such an amazing first scene that to this day it is one of my all times faves! The intensity is priceless.

Have you seen the movie yet?  What do you think of it?  Was it too gory? Not enough?  Maybe too corny? Lemme know!

So for all of you that have read this far, I offer you a little treat.  I am giving away a tiny gift certificate to AMC Theatres for answering the two following questions and #2 must be correct:

1.  What’s your favorite scary movie?

2. Can you tie the term amuse-bouche to the franchise I just wrote about?  *Note: There is only one answer for this.

In order to qualify, just write a comment in the section below with both answers.  The answer to question 2 must be correct.  All correct entries will be entered into a drawing and the winner picked at random.  Deadline: May 1, 2011. Good luck!!

5 good reasons…

to go see XANADU!!!

Both Perry and I knew we were going to love this show the moment we heard the first song of the Cast Recording.  The second song proved to be equally funny and instantly we were saddened that we couldn’t see the show in New York at that very moment.
BUT, to our absolute joy, The Retro Dome announced that the hit Broadway show will be coming to San Jose.  So Opening Weekend, we were there and I have to tell you…It was wonderful!!   There’s not a lot of time left to see  it, so you have to go now!!

Let’s get to the countdown!!

5.  It’s better than the movie!!! Way better!! (Although, I have to admit I like the movie.)

4. The music is fantastic.  (There’s a handful of Top 20 80’s hits that you will recognize thanks to Olivia Newton John or ELO.) “Eeevil Wo-man!  Ba-da ba bada bah!”

3. The script is funny as all get out. (Even little one liners in the songs are hilarious.)

2. Why waste the gas to go to San Francisco and see a great show when there’s a fabulous  one right in our own back yard? (You can spend the money you would’ve used on gas to buy an extra ticket for your friend.)

1.  The cast is incredible! (It’s full of locals who will sing your socks off!)

And you get a glowstick for the finale!

Don’t believe me that it’s gonna be fun?  Check out the commercial below or go to The Retro Dome site and pick up your tickets NOW!!

Video clip is courtesy of The Retro Dome.

I’d hate to say this but…

I really don’t want to be an uncle…yet again!

Before I get into the story, let me give ya a bit o’ history.

My mom and my sisters are the type of people, with nerve,  who will argue and stand their ground until you can totally prove them wrong.  TOTALLY.  I don’t know if it applies to a majority of women, but having lived with these particular ones, I am going to speak from this viewpoint of my past.

They yell when arguing which in turns makes the other person yell even louder to be heard.  Maybe that’s where my selective hearing comes from… There wasn’t much that resolved any of the arguments aside from a lot of huffing and puffing around the house when a ceasefire had to be called.

When my second oldest sister was 16 or 17, she got pregnant.  Surprised?  Not really.  Let’s face it, when you live in the ghetto, people’s gon’ be ghetto.  So living up to one of the stereotypes of the prego latina teen/hairbear, she drops out of school.  She does eventually get her GED.  Shortly after that, she pops out another kid.   Next, my younger brother gets a girl pregnant.  Guess what?  You’ll never believe this: They are still in school.  WTF!?!?  Then, my younger sister get knocked up! You’re kidding me right? Nope.  She had yet to finish school as well.  To this day, I don’t know if either her or my brother have completed it. Not to be mean, but those three aren’t the brightest 3 in the family.  But wait….There’s more!!!

So back to the first sister with a kid.  She has a third one. Not to be outdone, the younger sister has another.  Seeing he may be out of the it, my brother ties up the race for second place.

What in the hell is it that makes people do stupid stuff like this?  Why perpetuate the stereotype?  Is it an intelligence thing? Is it a lack of parental affection?  Is it social influence?  Please someone tell me because this is getting ridiculous.  So you may wonder how this affects me, right?  Like, how is it my business with what they do with themselves. My goodly reader, I will tell you…

But first, I must continue the story…

So the first niece decides to follow in the footsteps of her mother.  What?  Another contestant in the “Who makes the dumbest choice?” game?  Tying up the game with the older sister,  my brother’s now got a third one.  But older sister makes a trick move and has a fourth! Holy crap where do they come up with these things?  Looks like younger sister is giving up the game…but here’s the frackin’ shocker: niece number 2 from sister number 1 has got a bun in the oven!!  Oh my gawd!!!!  What a turn of events!!

So the current tally is:

Oldest Sister: 0

Second Oldest: 4 – but her oldest daughter has one and the second daughter now has one

Me: No frackin’ thank you!!!

Little Brother: 3 And another any day now!

and Younger Sister: 2

Here’s how this becomes my peeve: I am struggling, just like most other people I know, to make ends meet.  Why am I constantly asked to help with their issues that could have easily been avoided?

For my brother: Dude, couldn’t you have just waited?  At least, now your married, and all your kids have the same 2 parents. For my sisters who love to argue with advice and parental guidance:   Why didn’t they use that same nerve to say “Look, dick! Use a condom!”?   And, better yet for my nieces, who have lived through the hardships of a single parent why not wait until you actually have a solid relationship with your man before even having sex?  They are smart kids, so I think that’s where the logic in my head is having such a shit time dealing with these stupid decisions.

Well that and a phone call late-ish in the night asking for money to go to prom…

See what I mean about “nerve”?

Is it wrong that I feel like this?  What do you think of teen pregancy?  The ad at the top is actually from a blog that said some schools in Massachusetts are giving out counseling and condoms to first graders through high school to anyone who asks for contraceptive. I say thumbs up! If these kids aren’t getting sex ed taught in regular classes to make a more informed decision, then it’s good that the school nurse or whoever talks to them about their decision.  Because let’s face it: Parents all think their kids are little angels, but when they aren’t around 75% of them do stuff that their parents wouldn’t believe.  Now some people are all twisty britches because of the condoms, but I have to wonder if those are the same parents who shy away from teaching kids about sex in the first place and are helping the teen prego movement forward?  Ugh! The whole thing is frustrating, and makes me want to move to Canada so I don’t have to deal with another rugrat.

***UPDATE**** I was just reminded that my brother has another on the way…again! Shit!

These are a few of my favorite things…

and my favorite people…

Episode 17! 2 (The Re-Do)

(Click to play)

For show notes, click HERE

I guess I left one of the tracks on mute when I uploaded the podcast.  It’s all fixed now!  Sorry!!

Company Bow
Company Bows

Wow, only 3 more to go…

I am such a sap when it comes to closing weekends.

I have spent the last 2 months with a bunch of wonderful people bringing to life this coming of age story.  I am a little sad that it’s now coming to a close.

I have a process that I tend to go through when it comes to Opening and Closing nights.  About a week before the show opens, I have my little panic attacks and butterflies.  Then come Opening Night, I am fine, just excited to get things under way.  Then during the week of Closing, I feel the pangs of sadness hit me.  I get a little sad, because there are people that I probably won’t ever see again.  This always happens though.  You can promise to keep in touch, but eventually things begin to slip, and you just lose track.  So I make sure to say my thank you’s to the cast on Opening Night.  I would be a hot mess if I had to write those cards during the week of Closing.

So while I am living in my verklemptiness,  I look forward to meeting up with those same people on Friday to begin closing out Bless Me, Ultima.

For those of you who have yet to see it, you have  three opportunities to catch this show.  You will laugh, and if you have a heart, you will definitely cry.  The end of Act 1 messes me up, every time.

Get your tickets HERE or go to TeatroVision.Org and click the “Buy Tickets” link.  Showtimes are 8 PM on Friday and Saturday and 2 PM on Sunday.  The theatre is located on the corner of  Alum Rock Ave and King Rd.  Let me know if you can make it so I can look of you in the lobby.

I hope to see you there!!

Was it good? I dunno…

I was so excited last Wednesday, because we had tickets for a free screening of Sucker Punch.  So I get home from work and the movie doesn’t start until 10.  Cool.   Even better, the tickets are VIP so we don’t have to wait in that long ass line.  Woo hoo.  While I was at work, I get a text from Perry reminding me that the movie begins at 10pm.  After dinner, there’s a little time, so I hop onto the chaise and say that I am going to take a tiny nap.  When I woke up a little later, I ask what time it is, and he says “9;57” as though we didn’t have anything to do.  So I say, “What the hell? Doesn’t the movie start at 10?  Why’d you let me sleep so much?” To which the response was “I forgot.” I was a little bummed that I would be missing the movie.

So today, we watched it.  Kinda mad that I didn’t get to see it for free.

The story was okay.  It’s major characters are patients at a mental institution.  The heroine is Baby Doll, who gets institutionalized by her step father when she accidentally kills her younger sister with a bullet meant for him shortly after her mother died.  Baby Doll’s coping mechanism for being in this place is by escaping into her imagination.   While off in her daydreams, she came up with a plan to escape.  She then enlists the help of 4 other girls.   The twist is that Baby Doll’s story is meant to be tragic, but in turn it makes another girl’s, Sweet Pea, happy.  I love an escapism movie that uses escapism as a tool for pushing the story forward, but it didn’t really make a whole lot of sense.  Why would a girl trying to cope with being a patient in an institution imagine that she was a “go-go” dancer in a place she could never leave? On top of that, why would she then need to imagine that she has to get away from the “club” version of her mind?  Why not just go from the institution to the battle scenes?  Throw in the mix that there wasn’t much character growth built into the script.

I’ve read that Zack Snyder movies, like Tarantino’s, rely heavily on the soundtrack.  While the soundtrack was alright, I found it curious that there were a number of times that the same Bjork song is played through the last half of the movie.  What I didn’t really like was that it was mostly remakes of a few songs that all sounded similar in style and tone.

Visually, in regards to the effects, the movie’s budget was spent in that one area.  The images are incredible and vibrant.  But while the sight of the movie is amazing, it’s nothing that’s very new or unexpected. I love the lushness that was used when he showed people of power.  It was always in some overindulgent kind of way.  For example, the mayor uses a gold plated lighter that has a dragon on it.

Now visually, in regards to style, it’s pretty plain to see that Mr. Snyder has a fondness for long panning shots, and slow motion action sequences that show the audience exactly what’s happening.  But guess what, so does Guy Ritchie.  While there are a few variations between the two, I think that Snyder uses the slo-mo action shots for too long of a period.  Like I said it looks super cool, but it makes those sequences repetitive if you utilize this imagery as often as this movie did.  Taking a look at the costumes, it’s easy to see which focus group this movie was made for.  The costumes are nearly every cliche that has been considered sexy in the last twenty years.

I have to say that  I began to roll my eyes during the fight scenes because every single time there was a girl jumping in the air and landing after an attack, all of the landings were exactly the same: head bowed, one knee down, and one hand placed on the ground.  Every single time! Augh, talk about overdoing it.

Talent: All I am gonna say is that this movie’s acting is on par with the amazing Showgirls.  It felt a little forced.

So I if I had to grade this movie, I’d have to give it a C-.  It did have entertainment value as a fluff movie.  It was visually fantastic. But don’t have high expectations when you go to see it.

***ADDENDUM***

This is why I really need to start taking notebooks with me when I see movies…

I did love some of, what I believe is, the symbology in the movie.  The whole thing takes in the moment right before Baby Doll get that final lobotomizing tap from the doctor.  During the fight sequences, Snyder combines things that aren’t part of the same era.  In the first fight, he had a samurai using a rocket launcher and a machine gun.  I feel like the samurai represents tradition but the use of the machine gun bastardizes the culture itself, much in the same way that the institution is supposed to help people with their problems but turns out that a bad seed in the place makes the integrity level plummet.  There’s also phallic shaped dirigibles that get shot down. There’s a lot to read into for this movie which is why it isn’t a complete fail, but the script needs some work.