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Disney Doesn’t “Wreck-it” with Wreck-It Ralph

10 Nov

After the more recent disappointments of The Borrower Arrietty and Brave, I was somewhat wary to see Disney’s most recent animated film, Wreck-it Ralph.

The advertisements looked promising, giving me a small hope that this would be the film that once more redeemed Disney’s animated films in my eyes, but I reminded myself that the ads for Brave and Arrietty had looked gorgeous too. So when my boyfriend and I finally made it down to the theater this week, I held my breath as the lights dimmed.

To my great relief, Disney had pulled it off. (Possible Spoiler alert!)

Wreck-it Ralph opens with a pixilated Steam-boat Willie, and then the lead character, Ralph begins to narrate over a close up of what appears to be an old arcade game, complete with 8-bit music, where we see Ralph living his day-to-day.

Ralph is the bad guy–but as all the ads point out (and  out of Street Fighter Zangeef’s mouth)–he isn’t a bad guy. It’s easy to feel badly for Ralph, a character who is programmed to be the villain of his game, wrecking an apartment for the hero, Felix, to fix; however, even after the arcade closes and the characters are allowed to be themselves, Ralph is still rejected by his fellow game characters and lives a lonely life in the dump.

The story takes place on the 30th anniversary of Wreck-it Ralph’s game, Fix-it Felix JR, with Ralph attending what appears to be an Alcoholic’s Anonymous style meeting of game villains where he admits that he wishes he knew what it felt like to be the hero. Here Disney playfully injects bad guys from games as familiar as Bowser from Super Mario, Zangeef from Street Fighter, A Pac man Ghost, and Dr. Robotnik from Sonic the Hedgehog along with characters the younger generation may recognize. (I couldn’t figure them out myself.) Ralph also admits that he doesn’t want to be the bad guy any more–but the group of baddies laugh it off and encourage him to take it, “one game at a time.” and not to “go turbo”.

After returning from his meeting, Ralph realizes that the other characters in his game are celebrating their 30 year anniversary with a party and, a little hurt his invitation never arrived, promptly makes an appearance there. The hero in his game, Felix, is a sweet and utterly loveable little man with a magic hammer is urged by his fellow characters to “get rid” of Ralph. Too nice to tell Ralph to hit the bricks, Felix invites Ralph in for cake instead, where Ralph is egged on by some of the other characters and ultimately he ruins the party. Ralph insists to the disbelieving group that he could earn metals just as easily as the hero, Felix, and is challenged by another character that if he gets a metal he live with them in the apartment instead of in the dump.

Urged on by the idea of living with the other game characters, Ralph embarks on a journey to obtain his own hero metal.

The audience travels with Ralph on his journey to be a hero and to be treated fairly through various games as Ralph “game jumps” to a very Halo-esq game called, Hero’s Duty, a one person shooter where he is faced with massive Bug-monsters that become whatever they eat. With absolutely no finesse, Ralph manages to steal a metal, but in doing so, also launches himself (literally) into another game as he struggles with a Bug that has clung to him in a stolen escape pod. They crash land in a game called, Sugar Rush, which is sort of like a candy-land racing game, where the Bug sinks and disappears in frosting. Here Ralph encounters a little girl called, Vanelope Schweet, who promptly steals his hero metal, thinking it’s a coin.

It turns out that Vanelope is in her own string of trouble,  and like Ralph, facing  isolation from her fellow game characters. The other characters claim Vanelope is a glitch that can’t be allowed to race with the other characters (or compete in the reindeer games!) and feeling badly for the girl, Ralph promises to help her.

Meanwhile, In Ralph’s game, the Arcade is open for business again and Ralph is a no show. Gamers who play notice the missing villain and bring it to the manager’s attention thinking the game is broken. Felix and the other characters finally realize that Ralph is missing and Felix promises to “fix-it” and sets off to find Ralph before the plug on their game is pulled. Felix and the female captain from Hero’s Duty team up, Felix searching for Ralph and the captain seeking out the Bug that escaped her game with Ralph.

Wreck-it Ralph is a movie about not making judgements–but even the villain of this film may surprise you. I think it may have been a first for me since I was young that I didn’t immediately know who the villain was and I loved the surprise. (I won’t spoil it for you.) The film is full of jokes that all ages can enjoy between the obvious “duty” jokes to the more adult themed (over the kids heads) jokes, this film is one I would consider seeing in theaters again.  Disney managed to pull it out of the bag for me on this one. The graphics are smooth and gorgeous and even the music is helplessly catchy. It gets a five our of five cupcakes from the Restless Writer scale.

 

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The Australians at the Omni Parker

9 Oct

The funny thing about plans, as cliche as it sounds, is that they never go the way they’re supposed to. Yet, what I love most about making plans often times is breaking from them and deviating to a path that I may have never otherwise taken.

Last night, I had  originally planned a time out on the town with one of my girlfriends who is visiting from Europe.  I decided that once I left Baltimare at 5, I would meet her at” the place”, Max and Dylan’s for dinner, and once we were full (and probably a bit tipsy) we would stake out together on one of the many ghost tours that skulk around Boston this time of year. It was a good plan. A solid plan. And I had always wanted to go on a ghost tour. So, I booked the non-refundable tickets, eager for the night to arrive.

I didn’t expect Baltimare to be so overloaded and hold me up until 5:30, or the trains to lock one side of the station due to a holiday that I didn’t have off so I would have to take an extra 20 minutes to get to the platform–but most of all I didn’t expect my girlfriend to find herself deliriously ill and cancel on me last minute either. There I was, staring miserably at her mess of missed text messages that I hadn’t seen until hours after she had sent them, feeling my night was ruined. Without her–there would be no dinner, no drinks, and most disappointing of all: no ghost tour. I was beside myself–until I decided to embrace this alternate path.

My fingers flew across the tiny keys of my phone as I dialed up another friend in hopes that he could make plans with me last minute. Somehow–he was free. I felt myself lifted from my disheartened state as if I were tied to a Zeppelin. So the adventure was back in business.

Our tour group met at the mouth of the Central Cometary across from the Colonial theater and my friend met me at Boyleston Street Station. I felt giddy that I had managed to get a hold of someone on such short notice. Our guide was a stocky man of a regular build, and glasses dressed all in black with a battery lit lantern to guide us to him. A message bag was slung over his shoulder like so many other Bostonians, giving him an oddly immature appearance. He spoke in a light Boston accent, and to our great relief , he was interactive, expressive and captivating. As our guide led us around the commons, to the site of the “Great Oak” where people were hung for crimes, to the library that houses a book bound in human skin–he constantly kept us as well as the rest of the group enthralled in his stories. I was fascinated by the stories he came up with–mainly in that I had never heard them before. As best put by my friend during the tour, “Even if it’s all B.S. they’re interesting stories.”

Our tour concluded at the most haunted hotel in Boston, The Omni Parker House Hotel. Built in 1855 and located at 60 school Street, just down the street from Park Street Station, this hotel (though old) still speaks volumes of its rich and luxurious past. I have walked by this hotel more times than I can count over the years but I had never taken the time to go inside. Crown molding like I had never seen up close before lines the vestibule all the way to the concierge desk in the back. Heavy, dark wood paneling covered the walls and floral somewhat antique-looking furniture was placed against the walls and around small tables in a welcoming fashion as you pushed your way from the cold into the lobby. A smell of liquor greeted our noses as we entered, as we walked past the hotel bar and restaurant, “The Last Hurrah”. This hotel seemed to give off a slightly masculine scent of sweet cigars smoked over many years (but not in an unpleasantly overpowering way) mixed with brandy aged to perfection. I found myself more fascinated by the hotel itself than our previously enchanting guide. Here, we were told of the many haunts the hotel boasted, as well as being the inventor of the Boston Cream Pie.

Evan and I eagerly wandered into The Last Hurrah after tipping our guide, and after some finagling, managed to get ourselves a table. Here, the molding seemed more modern, but the feel was still of a gentleman’s lounge. I could imagine men in three-piece-suites, brown in color, smoking cigars in the high-backed armchairs having once sat here among friends, and possibly women, for some reason in my imaginings to be in flapper dresses and pearls. This was a place of masculine beauty and great comfort; and I immediately liked it.

We found ourselves seated beside a couple, possibly in their 50’s, with twanging Australian accents and smiling eyes. They were married, on vacation from home to visit their daughter who was going to medical school at Harvard. The man wore a bright yellow sweater and had striking blue eyes that seemed to be constantly twinkling with mirth beneath the surface. His hands were large and rough, wrapped around his half-empty glass as he jokingly complained about a woman who had “a big fat head” at the bar who was blocking his view of the baseball game.  His wife was a fair-haired, petite woman with laugh lines around her mouth and eyes that made me hope I would look that pleasant and warm as I get older. I liked the woman at once, and wish that I wasn’t so horrible at remembering names that I could recall theirs. She had once been a nurse, I learned, and was now happily retired with her husband. She and I struck up a conversation and somehow it turned to literature and books that we loved, the love of physical books, and our dislike of the modern “Kindles” and “Nooks” available. When I told her of my hopes to one day be known as a great young adult novelist–she wanted my name at once and I gave her my card with an autograph at her request.

“For when you make it big one day–I can say I met you on Holiday.” She told me warmly. They were beautiful people. Warm and vibrant. And over an irish coffee and a piece of the Omni’s wonderful Boston Cream Pie, I felt myself feel suddenly very alive and connected to the world again. Though I stumbled home a tad later than I had planned–I couldn’t help but think how wonderful the unplanned moments in life can sometimes be for the littlest reasons. I smiled, knowing that if my plans hadn’t gone so wrong that the evening wouldn’t have felt so perfect.

The Omni Parker House

Ghost Tour

 

 

 

 

 

Brave movie review and JulNoWriMo

2 Jul

So, I know I had mentioned wanted to review Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter the movie–but I haven’t gotten around to see it yet. Instead, my boyfriend was patient enough to sit through Pixar’s latest movie, Brave, with me.

Mainly, I think he was attracted to the fact that it was a Pixar film, because generally, they do not disappoint: but in this case I probably should have waited for it to come out on dvd.

Brave focuses on the Highland princess, Merida, and her thirst for the freedom to be who she is. Little does she know it, but her mother the queen is grooming her for her betrothal to one of the three clans eldest boys who then show up to try and “win” her hand with an archery tournament. Merida, determined to change her mother’s mind, seeks out a witch in the forest who gives her “a spell to change her fate” and “change her mother.” so she doesn’t want to force Merida to marry anymore. However, this crazy witch’s spell backfires, and literally changes her mother into a Bear.

Now, when I saw the trailers for this movie–I had no idea this was the direction this movie would take. And I’m rather disappointed. Though I loved the movie, and it’s message of mother-daughter bond rekindled, I was upset by how generally not creative this concept all was. I mean, all I could think of was another Disney movie called, Brother Bear. Made in 2003, Brother bear focused on the Native American folklore of “Spirit Animals” and involved a boy who kills a mother bear in vengence of his bother, who is then himself transformed into a bear in order to care for the slain mother bear’s son, Koda. The boys bond in bear form, much in the way that Merida bonds with her mother while her mother is in the form of a large black bear.

Overall, the film Brave is  beautifully animated, the details especially on the animals are amazing–but the plot itself leaves something to be desired.

To address that odd title of JulNoWriMo, for those of you who aren’t familiar with this: it stands for July Novel Writing Month, and I will be participating. The goal: 50.000 words by month’s end. I will be using the plot for the novel I’ve been planning. I’m rather excited, but also already tired. Wish me luck–and sorry if due to the novel I do not post as much here.

Burger and Beer Day: The Mayflower Brewery and KKatie’s Burger Bar Review

15 Apr

There are many food matches in heaven: Spaghetti and meatballs, bacon and eggs and my personal favorite burgers and beer.

I had a Plymouth adventure this weekend with my good friend, Donnie and his lovely sister Lindsay.  Saturday was a gorgeous day for getting up a little on the earlier side and popping down to the commuter rail heading toward Kingston. I was astonished to find that from my stop, it was only $6 for a round trip to Kingston and a half an hour or so later I had arrived with Donnie eagerly greeting me. Off we went to his sister’s house to pick her up and then to the Mayflower Brewery. When I mentioned to Donnie that I wanted to tour this place, he had no idea what I was talking about.  Apparently, he had driven by this micro-brewery millions of times without realizing what it was.

Located at 12 Resnik road in Plymouth, the brewery is nestled in a little strip mall–that could easily be overlooked. Upon entering, we were not at first sure we were in the right place. It seemed to small! As you enter, you find yourself in a small, stand-up bar area. To the right is a small fridge where they sold bottled beers beside a small sales counter and to the left the well-polished wood bar top greeted us. Aside from two other patrons quietly sipping beer at the bar and two staff members–the place was empty. We were immediately greeted by the male staff member asking if we were here for a tour or free samples, to which we of course replied that both would be required. The female bartender was quick to provide us each with a small glass from the tap, explaining each brew as it was poured and tasted. The male staff member soon identified himself as a volunteer–who just simply liked talking about beer. The staff was informative and personable, making us feel right at home very quickly as we chatted from topics ranging from the beers themselves to places nearby that would be nice to visit on such a gorgeous day.

Soon, it was time for the tour, and the bartender quickly became our tour guide as well.  To my pleasant surprise, we were allowed to travel with our beer tastes in hand, (and the barkeep did as well) as we were led around in an informative but not impersonal tour of the tiny brewery contained behind the bar. Questions were readily accepted (and I eagerly provided them–as I can’t contain my curiosity for long) and I was very impressed with the way in which the tour was given. It was explained in a way that made it clear all of the staff members were well informed and passionate about what they participated in. Once the tour was done, we returned to the bar top and finished our tasting session. It was here that Lindsay and one of the staff members began to talk about a Burger Bar nearby called, K Katie’s.

“Yes,” the male staffer said “They have a burger that uses two grilled cheeses as buns.”

I was sold.

So not long after purchasing a growler full of fresh beer (only$11! and everything else had been free) we were heading down the road to K Katie’s Burger Bar. We took our time wandering over the graveyard, checking out older graves in the beautiful sunshine and breathing deeply the air that smelled of a mix of seawater and local eateries. KKatie’s looks like any other typical hole-in0the-wall bar but has an exceptional menu that doesn’t seem to fit the atmosphere.

Situated on 38 Main Street in Plymouth, you enter K Katie’s and find dark wood paneled walls and lit neon signs advertising various beers on the walls. It is a seat yourself establishment, and was fairly empty due to how early in the day it was when we arrived. As we sat, the waitress was already swooping upon us with bright green laminated menus, and a smile.  She patiently tended to our picky beer needs as Lindsay ran through several beers they didn’t have on tap currently–but the bartender (who was easily within earshot from our table due to the small size of the establishment.) was eager to send over tastes of beer that might suit her pallet before she made her decision. At first glance, the menu is a-typical bar food–but with a twist. Their burgers are all gourmet and full of different varieties and uniqueness that I had never seen before. (None of them were waistline friendly–but I was okay with that for the day.) I ended up with what was called “The Juicy Lucy” which was a burger topped with pickles and onion and rather then having the cheese on top–has it melted in the middle. Taking my first bite, most of the cheese dribbled out the back end–but then became a fun dipping tool. Their sweet potato fries were the best that I have ever had, and they also offered “green fries” which were essentially crispy green beans with a ranch dipping sauce.  Not up for a burger? That was fine too as KKaties also offered other menu options. But for sure–this is my new favorite burger joint.

Donnie then insisted that we visit a place nearby called Cupcake Charlies which sold, you guessed it, cupcakes of all sorts. At this point, I was so full I felt ready to pop–but I managed to squeeze in a taste of their Funfetti cupcake. (To be honest, the cake was far superior to the frosting from what I tasted. )

All and all, a fun time had. Foodies rejoice!

A Night at the Theater–Addams Family Musical Review (Spoilers!)

9 Feb

They’re creepy and they’re spooky, mysterious and kooky–they’re all together ooky–The Addams family!

Well, creepy certainly was the word. Crammed in the tiny balcony seats of the Schubert Theater in Boston, I was trying with some difficulty not to allow the overly-nosy eight-year-old boy in front of me to look up my dress in the awkward angle and sitting beside my boyfriend who looked even more uncomfortable. There, we awaited the start of The Addams Family Musical. ( My poor boyfriend’s first words once the show ended was–“I think my shins are bruised.”) I felt lucky that we had managed to even get seats on opening night–the place was packed– and even the cramped space of the balcony weren’t under $50 dollars a ticket.

The crowd seemed restless and eager to start the show. Ages varied from young kids to so elderly they needed assistance getting up and down the narrow (and without a middle railing, which was terrifying in heels) stairs. After all, who couldn’t recall the memorably grim but laugh-inducing Addams? I knew I couldn’t resist. My childhood was riddled with memories of Saturday morning cartoons, in which The Addams Family often frequented the screen. The show was grim, and hilariously twisted, which is the main reason I enjoyed it. It is that spirit of twisted humor that was kept alive throughout the opening night of The Addams Family Musical.

The premise: The creepy cold child, Wednesday, has suddenly found herself in love and wanting to be engaged to–dramatic pause–a “normal” boy! Hiding the ring from her over-protective mother, Morticia, she confides in her father, Gomez, about the reason for a sudden dinner party with this boy and his family. She begs him to promise not to tell his beloved wife–and so hilarity ultimately ensues.

All of the characters I knew and loved made their premier on stage, portrayed with care and confidence by their respective actors and actresses. (Well–with the exception of a rather annoying little boy who played Wednesday’s brother, Pugsley. Him, I could have done without.) Even Thing and Cousin It make a few short appearances.

The show was much better than I anticipated; the music was catchy, saucy and well-composed, the scene changes were fascinating to watch–and the use of puppeteers was a pleasant and fun surprise throughout the production.I found myself bouncing in my seat to the music as performers sang and danced, grabbing your attention and ultimately keeping it.

The only issue (depending on who you are) that I found with it was the massive amounts of sexual humor that permeated the whole performance. As an adult–I have no problem with sexual humor. In fact, it’s kind of my favorite. But it does get somewhat uncomfortable when there’s an eight-year old in front of you and Gomez just made several penis jokes. All I could think was, God, I hope this goes over your head. Oh, also, the occasionally topical humor that Uncle Fester tosses into the performance–I found somewhat jarring. Funny, sometimes–but other times just unneeded.

I must admit, that I was thrilled to realize that the actor playing Uncle Fester had also played Edna in Hairspray when I went to see it with my Meme five years or so ago. All of the cast did a bang up job–particularly the actors and actresses who played, Fester, Gomez and Wednesday,  who stole the show. Even the actor playing Lurch surprised me with a suddenly solo singing performance that gave me chills in ways that only seeing The Phantom of the Opera on stage had done previously.

All and all I give The Addams Family Musical a 4 out of 5 stars. It’s only here in Boston for this month–and I would definitely recommend it to the younger generation looking for a laugh. (Or perhaps even the older. People are DYING to see this show.) Sorry, I had to. If you can afford it–skip the cheap seats. But honestly, the view from anywhere in this theater is fine. It’s only legroom that gets tricky.

My Grandfather’s Chicken Farm (A story passed down for the next generation)

31 Jan

Last night, after I had already informed you all about the Irish Green Pants, my father had a sudden urge to talk to me.

Now, generally, I do not enjoy the conversations that pass between my father and I. Too often they tend to lead to unpleasant conversation; usually directed at my lack of a steady job, my inability to drive or some other shortcoming that he decides to pick at that day. Mind you,I don’t hate my father. But sometimes, I can’t stand him. (Isn’t that just human though?)Anyway, keeping this in mind, I wasn’t too thrilled to suddenly have him full of energy and ready to chat. Luckily, last night would be different.

My mother crunched absently on popcorn at the kitchen table, mainly keeping my father company as he ate his dinner. Dad works late on most nights, and isn’t usually around to have dinner with the rest of the family. I could hear them talking about their day from my room down the hall–and being forever unable to control my curiosity–I wandered out to join them.

I suppose they really didn’t expect me, because I interrupted a conversation they appeared to having about weight loss and gain, and what effects each scenario tends to have on my mother’s breasts. My father’s head swiveled around as I entered, and between bites of chicken he asked,

“Does losing weight effect your boobs like it does your mother’s? You know, losing them?”

These sorts of comments tend to be more normal coming out of my father’s mouth as he and I get older. But they don’t make me cringe any less.

“No, not really.” I answered mildly.

This then branched out into a long conversation about my mother’s breasts when she was pregnant, versus when she wasn’t. My mother adding to me that she had never really had a behind or boobs to begin with, and that she was jealous of mine.

I could see, as I bet you can as well, where this conversation was going to keep going. I considered leaving the room again, but before I could, my father pipped up jokingly about getting a well endowed female roommate–to which my mother quipped that she hadn’t approved. They shared a laugh at my look of horror.

“Dirty old man.” I finally managed to stammer at my father. At this point, he had finished his meal and was cleaning his hands in the sink. He chuckled in his raspy way, his glasses glinting in the low kitchen light. Something devious was about to happen.

“Speaking of dirty old man,” my father started, “I have a story to tell you.”

“Oh no,” I groaned, “Should I get the cheese grater to scrap my brain clean afterwards?”

“Nahh,” he replied with a sniffle, rifling his dish into the dishwasher. My mother continued to crunch her popcorn, one leg tucked under her as she sat at the table. “This is a funny story.” He confirmed, then paused. “Well, if you can look at it as just a story, and not as someone you know and love.”

Had my father just put a disclaimer on his story? He didn’t wait for me to agree, but plowed on.

“It’s a story about your grandfather. Something you’re going to want to tell to your kids, if you have them, or nieces and nephews. Something that will need to be passed down.” He said, trying to impress the importance of it on me before he told it.

I nodded, giving in. His heavy shoes clomped across the wood floors, the chair groaned softly as he sat back at the table again. I leaned against the counter tops–just in case I might need to make a quick escape.

“When you were little,” my father said,

“Are you sure it was her?” My mother interjected curiously. “Could it have been her cousins?”

“No, it was her.” My father confirmed. “When you were little, your grandfather took you out for a drive. He liked taking you kids places with him. And when you got back, you got out of the truck and came over.” My dad paused, smiling at the memory. “I said, ‘Did you have fun with Grampa?’ And you shook your head and told me yes, but looked a little puzzled.”

My father mimed talking to a smaller me, and I tried to imagine him younger, tried to imagine what he had looked like when he spoke to me then, “What’s wrong? I asked you. And you said, ‘Grampa is going to open a chicken farm.” My father crinkled his face in confusion to replay the event for my mother and I. My mother said rapt, listening and remembering. “So I looked to my father, and my father just,” Dad shrugged his shoulders, playing at being my grandfather here, “So I asked you to explain.”

A younger me looked at my father and told this story: my grandfather was driving along the road, looking all around. When I asked him what he was looking at he told me he was looking for chickens.

My father went on to tell me that later, my grandfather took him aside and told him what the real story was. The real story–my grandfather has wandering eyes. He has a ‘type’ as my father put it–particularly, young women. And on this drive he was apparently staring at women’s behinds as we drove along. Being small and curious, I spotted him looking all around, but wasn’t sure what he was looking at. When I asked him what he was doing,my grandfather; embarrassed to be caught gawking by his granddaughter and knowing he couldn’t admit to his dirty deed, told me he was looking for chickens. In my mind, this gives “spring chickens” a whole new meaning. I apparently spent the rest of the ride looking for these imaginary fowl. Off and on my Grandfather would point and shout–“Look! Did you see that chicken?” And in my innocence I would reply, “No! All I saw were those people!”