Sympathy and Width

Who is Temperit Linson?

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‘Sympathy and Width’ is a science fiction e-book that follows the life of Jonathan Robert and Temperit Linson, the brightest light to shine above drones. Stephen King. The Matrix. Star Wars. Twelve Monkeys. Fight Club. Chuck Palahniuk. Stanley Kubrick. Blade Runner. American Psycho. If you liked any of the things I just mentioned, you’ll probably like ‘Sympathy and Width’. Open the door…..find out who he is. It’s only a buck 13. $1.13

Oblivion (2013)

Ok. So I went to see Oblivion (2013) last night, starring Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman, Olga Kurylenko and Andrea Riseborough. I was REALLY excited to see this film, mainly because I’d watched the behind-the-scenes documentary and was impressed, but the film falls flat. It’s a really cool concept and story, the casting was great, the acting was great (except for when Morgan Freeman’s character is wounded-you’ll see why and laugh out loud like I did) and the artwork and special effects were done well. Unfortunately though, overall…..it’s just not that good.

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Now, I’m not condemning the film. It was entertaining for a once over viewing. I have respect for the director, Joseph Kosinski, because I really enjoyed his first film Tron: Legacy (2010). And I’d cover anyones house in raw sewage to be able to direct a film or even work on a film with such seasoned actors and such a large budget….but that’s beside the point.

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Tom Cruise, however you feel about him, is a great actor and works hard. It shows in all his films. I’m a big Cruise fan…..and he makes this movie worth watching. He’s got good chemistry with the two female leads and there’s a nice love story, even if a bit overdone. The twists in the film are less ‘aha’ moments and more ‘oh…ok’ moments. I have no intention of spoiling the film because it just opened in theatres, but if you’re looking for the next 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), you won’t find it in Oblivion.

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I really like what Kosinski did with the work tower. Instead of putting up massive green screens for the actors to work in front of (with them having to imagine their surroundings), the director surrounded the set with giant projector screens, so that the actors could actually see the image of the world they were living in. That’s pretty cool. And it looks pretty cool too.

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Pros: Good acting. Great scenery and cinematography. Interesting concept. Good execution. Good chemistry between leads. Great artwork and special effects. Entertaining. Olga Kurylenko and Andrea Riseborough are very attractive and nice to look at.

Cons: The love story is played out too much. Flashback sequences get old and make the film boring. The twist elements aren’t that exciting. Script is a little….eh whatever.

Worth a rental? Yes. Worth going to the movies to see it? Yeah… Worth a purchase? I don’t think so.

M.A.V.B.L.O.G. Score- 7 out of 10. Hey, it’s an entertaining film. Just don’t go looking for the next groundbreaking sci-fi movie when you see it.

If you’d like to go see Oblivion check out fandango for showtimes in your area or head to the films website.

String Cheesing

String Cheesing. It’s the newest thing. It’s gonna be bigger than Planking and the Harlem Shake (which I kind of invented back in 2001 according to my friend Kev Kage but that’s beside the point). The good thing is…..that I actually DID invent this wonderful thing called String Cheesing. What is the origin? It all started over a year ago when I thought it’d be great to make homeless faces in pictures taken of me. I was always making this face. My girlfriend at the time hated it. She thought I looked stupid. But it wasn’t stupid….it was GREAT.

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It then evolved and was given the name……..String Cheesing. What you do is….#1. You wind up your arm. Swing it out to be as bendy as possible and give a thumbs up.

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#2 Push out your bottom jaw and get a nice underbite. Really give it your all.

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#3 Smile like a homeless man or just like anyone who is really, really happy.

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….and there you have it. STRING CHEESING. You can take regular String Cheesing pictures. You can photo-bomb with String Cheesing, the sky is the limit. You can even String Cheese with friends!!!

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So let’s review……Wind Up. Thumbs Up. Big Jaw. Big Smile. Voila!! String Cheesing at airports!! String Cheesing at Bars!! String Cheesing at Clubs!!!

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I hope that people take this and run with it. How awesome would it be to see someone String Cheesing while they skydive??? And here’s an extra fun one. When you’re in Switzerland it’s called…..SWISS CHEESING.

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So there you have it. String Cheesing. Have fun with it. Make stupid faces. Look like an idiot once and a while. It’ll make you and others laugh. Be sure to photo-bomb some people with this too. It’s great!! I hope you’ve enjoyed this M.A.V.B.L.O.G. As always be good to yourself and others….and have an awesome day.

Cypress Inheritance

I’ll be reviewing a game, Cypress Inheritance, that is currently available as an app for iPad, iPhone, PC and various other platforms. In the future it is supposed to be released on consoles. I learned about this game because I am friends with some of the people involved in its creation. So, I purchased the app in support of my friends and was pleasantly surprised with the game.

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In a nutshell, your character has inherited a fortune, but in order to collect it you have to fight an AI army that is tasked to protect the estate that you’re supposed to inherit. I enjoyed the family friendly elements (no blood and gore-no deaths- if your health is depleted, an ‘evac’ team rescues you and you start from the beginning). The game is very reminiscent to the original Maniac Mansion (for those of you that played it). I did have some serious issues with the controls on the iPad. It’s virtually impossible for me to play the game because I get my ass kicked non-stop. Now that could be because I’m accustomed to console games and using a touch screen is foreign to me, or it could be that the controls are shoddy. I’m not sure. I gave up on the game in iPad format but will certainly be purchasing it when it goes to consoles.

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Cypress Inheritance isn’t groundbreaking or hip…but it’s a fun little game, it’s entertaining, the graphics are decent and the sound and voice work is good. It’s no Mass Effect 2….but it’s nice to have a simple game that isn’t trying to be something that it’s not. I’d recommend it based on that. But if you’re not good on the touch screen like me, I’d wait for the PC or console version.

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M.A.V.B.L.O.G. Score- 7.5 out of 10. (for iPad version)

Simple story. Easy to follow. Entertaining. Fun. My only gripe is the controls. But hey, like I said….I’m looking forward to the expanded console versions. Check it out. I recommend it.

Woody Allen

Woody Allen. Love him. Hate him. Either way….he’s made some great films. Two in particular, which is why I really respect him as a filmmaker. When the man makes a ridiculous film, he does it really well. This is why I applaud him for his recent film To Rome With Love (2012). I won’t spoil it if you haven’t seen it yet, but it’s outrageous, hysterical and his crowning achievement of the films made in his twilight years. It’s got Alec Baldwin, Penelope Cruz and Roberto Benigni. We all remember Roberto Benigni’s amazing speech about banging pumpkins right? (It was from the film Night on Earth (1991) ) Well if you saw that film, imagine a performance that tops it.

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His other film that I feel is on par with the amount of ridiculousness in ‘To Rome With Love’ is Sleeper (1973). A story about a guy who is thawed out after being in cryostasis for 200 years. It’s funny. It’s outrageous. If you’re a Woody Allen fan I’m sure you know about it. If not, please go see it. ‘That’s a big chicken’

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If you’re into silly films and feel a need to watch something outrageous and ridiculous, please see ‘Sleeper’ and ‘To Rome With Love’. I haven’t seen all of Woody Allen’s films but on the whole I do enjoy his movies. I’m sure he’s had some stinkers….but I applaud his work. I hope you’ve enjoyed this short M.A.V.B.L.O.G. today. Be good to yourself. Be good to others. Have a great day.

Backpacking: What’s the best gear to take?

Backpackers, whether you’re a veteran or a newbie, the question always is…..what’s the best gear to take? After the first few times, you find out quickly what you need to bring…..and that’s usually based on you taking along too much stuff and realizing what you DON’T need. As with everything, it depends on where you’re traveling to, what the climate will be and how long you’ll be there.

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Now… I have some experience with backpacking, but I am certainly no SurvivorMan. But….for you inexperienced backpackers, here are some tips.

1. You don’t NEED it. Most of the time when you’re packing for your first backpacking trip, you take too much. It’s good to lay out all the things that you THINK you’ll need, give it an hour…then come back and ask yourself (with each item) do I really need this? Obviously you’ll need clothing (a 5 day rotation of socks, underwear and undershirts is usually good. Along with 1-2 pairs of pants and sweaters/long sleeve shirts. Maybe less for a shorter journey). Most hotels/pensions and hostels have washing machines. And if you’re really trekking it…..you’re bound to find a water source within 5 days to hand wash your clothing. I’ve never needed it but a first aid kit is necessary. Don’t pack all the normal sized toiletries. It’ll just add on to weighing you down. Bring smaller versions of things such as toothpaste, aspirin, mouthwash, hand sanitizer etc. It’s all about cutting out unnecessary weight, your shoulders will thank you for it!!! (Every journey is unique, plan accordingly)

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2. Get a good backpack. You’d think this would be rule #1, but no. It is important….but not THAT important. You have a hand me down backpack? Fine. You buy a brand new one? Great! There are many backpacks out there. I have a Mountainsmith backpack. It’s held up for 8 years on several trips and hopefully will last for many more. The key here is, with whatever brand you choose, make sure that it fits your needs, distributes the weight properly and FEELS GOOD ON YOUR SHOULDERS. You could buy the top of the line backpack but maybe it’s not right for you and not right on your back. So take your time and test them out.  You’d be surprised at how quickly your shoulders will get sore and start going numb.

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3. Get some good shoes. A cross between walking shoes/boots is the best. I’ve learned from experience and paid the price. On my latest journey I bought a new pair of expensive boots, thinking they’d be perfect and much better than my old, trusty (and SMELLY) boots. But….those old, trusty, smelly boots were comfortable and a great fit for me. The new ones? Well…..they were good for a few hours each day. And then it was blister town!! Walking long distances with a backpack is hard enough, you don’t want to add in blisters all over your feet. So do your research and get some good shoes. I’d recommend Wolverine, but there are many good brands out there. It all depends on you & your feet. And waterproof is always good. Even if you’re backpacking across Italy in the middle of the summer. It’ll rain eventually, you’ll get tired and step in some puddles. Take the waterproof boots!

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4. Don’t worry. You’re going to have an amazing time. You’ll probably pack too much or forget to pack a few things. Oh well, don’t worry. You can improvise. They do have grocery/retail stores all over the world. You’ll find something. And if you’re taking a couple days off back-packing to see a film festival or go out to some bars/restaurants for the evening….don’t sweat it. Bring one nice shirt that fits nicely in your pack. Most all of the locals will know you’re a tourist. So don’t worry.

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5. Get a good water bottle. Now depending on where you’re going…maybe you won’t need this. But it’s good to have. I prefer the Platypus brand of fold up bottles because they’ve been very reliable for me. Also, if you’re in an area without fresh running water and need to purchase some at the store….you can just fold up your plastic bottle and it’ll fit in your pocket. It’s always good to purchase some water from a store when in a new country to see their offerings and sample the local water brands….but if you’re walking a lot, you’ll be drinking a lot. So if the tap water is clean or you’re in the mountains with fresh water…..it’s good to get some for free.

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6. Take some food. That’s right. Go to the local grocery store. Buy some cheese or fruit or meat sticks or granola bars etc. etc. Just something to keep you going and put fuel in your body. You never know when your planned 4 hour hike will turn into an 8 hour hike. Or when you’ll get separated from your group and stranded. Take me for example. I recently did a hike that I’d done before in the past. Going against my better judgement and thinking the hike would be easy, I didn’t take any food. Well, it turned out that I wasn’t in as good of shape physically as I was the previous time I did this hike. So the 5 hour journey turned into a 7 hour journey…..and I didn’t have any food. What if I had gotten stranded? Yes, I had water….but I would have been miserable and starving & probably also would’ve started to think desperate thoughts and make stupid mistakes.

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And lastly for this blog……

7. Do something stupid. (Within reason of course) …because after all. What’s a good backpacking trip without a few funny or dangerous stories?? Now I’m not saying to go on the super intense trail when you’re a beginner or to jump off the cliff when it’s clearly too high and without a good landing area. But there’s nothing wrong with getting lost once in a while and doing something a little outside of your comfort zone. I’ve gone off the marked trail plenty of times…..occasionally it was a terrible decision (but I lived)…and occasionally it really wasn’t that bad….and I saw some things that I wouldn’t have seen otherwise. Maybe doing something stupid to you is just getting naked in the woods and going skinny dipping in a really cold lake. Or climbing a tree and sleeping in it. Great!! Do it!! What a great experience!!

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There are many ways to backpack. Simple journeys and extreme journeys. Whichever way you choose, it’s good to prepare yourself because there’s nothing worse than taking time off for a vacation and spending some money…..and then it all blows up in your face and you have a miserable experience. I hope you’ve enjoyed this M.A.V.B.L.O.G. and as always. Be good to yourself. Be good to all those you encounter. And do your best.

If you’d like to learn more about backpacking I’d highly recommend taking a look at SurvivorMan and Rick Steves. There are plenty of other great guides out there so do a quick google search as well.