Category Archives: Reviews

Boiron’s Sick Fixe


Well I went and did it.

I got sick.

Not that it is something to look forward to, or that I self-sabotaged by ignoring the free flu shot drive at my office, smooching it up with a handrail on the Q train, or ignoring my mother’s historical advice to wear a hat or I’ll catch my death out there.

Nope I just caught one, which was easier than squishing the first living mosquito in NYC, which happened to be in my office. (That took 4 days, and I think it died of boredom). I know, cold season was supposed to end, but in the period between midterms and finals, when everyone was coming back on germy aeroplanes, and since we were at that point in the Northeast USA where it is rainy and 45 degrees one day and a sunny 70 the next, the constant confusing shuffle of sweaters, scarves, a/c and heat gets me every time. So I took a sick day (a Friday; again, no coincidence!) and decided that along with rest, tea, and boring movies, I needed some meds.

While made from natural ingredients, this is not what I was aiming for at 10 am.

While made from natural ingredients, this is not what I was aiming for at 10 am.

Anyway, I was the lucky winner of a sample pack of medicine by Boiron, not once, but twice!

Along with my Netflix subscription, I was set!

So here’s a breakdown of what I had, what I did, and how it worked. (This is a review of experience and not medical advice– if you are sick, consider your options, general health, or doctoral advice if needed!)

OscillococcinumpillsIndividual bottles of caplets. Reserved for Flu-like symptoms. Package of 6 ‘doses’.

Simple enough – pop the cap and pour the pellets on your tongue to dissolve within 30 seconds. You’ve done this enough times with the leftovers of a box of sno-caps. (Yes you have – be proud!). Tossing the bottle over your shoulder is not recommended. Recycle, people!

Do you sense the medicine working right away? Honestly no. It was on the second day of trice daily doses (what they recommend actually) that I really feel it ‘kick in’, and the side effects were not severe at all.

It gave me a moment to be realistic about what we want from medication, and what the case should be. Medicine typically doesn’t ‘work’ in one dose, there’s no cure for the common cold or flu, so treatments are to cure or ease minor symptoms like fever and cough, not to cure. Then again, some popular brands (I will not mention them here), start working by the time the second dose comes up, but the side effects are riding shotgun, and both barrels go off. Yes my head is clear, but so clear it feels like I am floooooattinng awaaaay. I get skittish, I don’t blink much (even though my eyes are dry) and I feel like I just drank 3 cups of coffee. I am not looking to get that sensation (never was). If my chills are gone, but I’m slightly paranoid… how is that ‘better’?!

Anyway – The Pros – as I mentioned, at the start of the second days’ dose of Oscillococcinum, I sensed that it was now fully interacting with my system, and with that noticeable differences. Aches start easing, you rest easier, and chills fade. All without feeling on the other side of the energy level. So that’s good. I kept going with it, along with resting, and I found myself eased back into ‘normal’ life by the end of the second day.

The Cons – the regiment. If you miss the dose time, you start to feel a bit lousy, so set your timers! I could imagine if I missed a complete dose (sleeping doesn’t count as I take it right before bedtime), I might have to start from scratch again. If true, that will set you back. Three times a day gets you through a smaller package of 6 within 2 days. If you have a rough cold, oscillococcinum is not the cheapest option, and you better make sure your local pharmacy has it in stock. It makes me wonder if twice a day would have worked, just to stretch it a bit.

photo (18)
An ‘expectorant’, made to suppress cough, and help congestion. 2oz (a cap cup is included) every 2 hours, and, like the oscillococcinum, the results are gradual, so no need to re-explain.

The Pros – because of the dosing, you will feel it come along faster. Took it in the morning and by lunch, my symptoms were halved. It’s extremely pleasant tasting, as it is mainly honey-based. That is another big pro! No terrible, gag inducing flavor that you ‘justify’ a direct correlation between terrible taste and effectiveness. It’s not necessary!

The Cons – The expectorant is made with honey – not sure how it might affect those who have to watch their sugar. Having to take doses every 2 hours is higher maintenance, and again, after a lengthy meeting where I had forgotten it, and timed it so my dose was expected at the beginning, my cough started to return by the end. A few doses later and I was back on track. You have enough in a 8.45 oz bottle to last at least 5 days, which should take care of most colds. 

So let’s break it down.

Value: Yes Boiron products are expensive – a packet of 6 Oscillococcinum will run about $17 at local pharmacies, the 30 count about $27. The leading market brands (non-homeopathic) are competitively priced. Typically I buy the generic store brand, they are usually on sale, and I get them before cold season. You don’t get sick often hopefully, so these companies know, so they charge you according to the one purchase you do each winter.

In that context, Would I buy Boiron based on price for how I felt while taking it? Absolutely. I admit that I checked their website for coupons, and I wound up ordering it on Amazon, where I got a great deal on a 30 count, which will last me longer than I hope to need it.

Would I recommend it based on what it did for me? Again, absolutely, but I would make sure those who I suggest it wouldn’t expect ‘fast fix’ medicine, and know that the investment for feeling your best when you’re feeling your worst, as part of your total well being.

Check out for information on their products in your country.

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Filed under Life, MEdicine, Product Reviews, Reviews

Eight H Songs

So I am double linking this idea for maximum exposureness, and also because inspiration came from all angles!

First, would be for From My Write Side, who in turn linked from Ambling & Rambling. Songs with an H theme. Since H is the 8th letter of the alphabet, my twist is 8 songs/albums/bands that start with the letter H.

Also since this is a numbered list, it goes along with Ms ODNT and Melmags in their June Blog Post by Numbers Month activity (and you thought they were just about Ketchup and angry letters.)

Sorry but I will not link these up to Youtube or something, because coding gives me headaches sometimes. If you are curious go for it!

1. H. by Tool – From the CD Aenima, it was one of my favorite albums of the mid 90’s. I played this straight through pretty much every day, and then the favorites over again. My friends and I put our own interpretations on the lyrics, a typical fawning gesture. Yet we were the same people who rolled their eyes when people would go on in the same manner about Radiohead. Looking back, yes we were those obnoxious fans. Such is life. Anyway H. is about inner conflicts, ‘the snake’ is mentioned throughout the song, likely a symbol of temptation and self-serving choices, which even if good or bad for us, are to our benefit first and foremost. With the drowned snake at the end, we have regret. The song fades into the sound of a record reaching the end, and the needle cycling through white noise.

2. Hope Tonight – a new CD (and a title track) by my friend Melanie Penn. What’s it like? Well I’ll tell ya…

Maybe things haven’t been going so well lately. After a gloomy end to 2013 (from Fall through November), and a snow filled start to 2014, as early as February, things may have looked to be just more of the same. Even the few nice days have been bookmarked by rainy weather. We deserve more. A song perhaps. One that doesn’t force rhymes, and that doesn’t take too long to learn.
But now it’s Spring (I think it is), the days are lasting longer, and now something else has come up among the flowers. Right now, you can purchase “Hope Tonight”, Melanie Penn’s sophomore release! It will remind of you of the hope, happiness, bittersweetness you have, and how much wiser you are from family and your own experiences. I was lucky enough to get a copy some time ago, and it is absolutely brilliant.
So download, listen, listen again, and you’ll hear it, see it, feel it.
It’ll turn around.
Things always turn around.

3. Hurt – Nine Inch Nails. Later Johnny Cash offered his own rendition, probably the best cover of any song, IMHO. The Downward Spiral was brilliant in its raw sound, which I don’t feel they duplicated afterwards. Like with garage bands, when the tech production goes up, and songwriting becomes a process, that cheap, dirty anger gets buffered. Still, this haunting track completed an incredible dark concept album.

4. Heaven Can Wait – Meat Loaf. Bat Out of Hell was a brilliant record. Yes record. I still have it, salvaged from the ol’ heave ho that your record collection rightfully deserves. Anyway, Heaven Can Wait, is the first of two love ballads on the record that are ironically sandwiched in between songs about horny teenage boys and bad bikers looking to score and split on innocent girls. Still, the emotion and sincerity stand out for Mr. Loaf, and I’m sure this song made it’s way onto many wedding dance floors back in the day.

5. High and Dry – Radiohead. The other band that has the annoying fans. The Bends was a foreshadowing of the complex style and vague lyrics that would grow (at least to me) incomprehensible, or at least an in-joke that I wasn’t going to pretend I got. Released in the midst of grunge, it did not fold to that pressure or sound and that’s why its still listenable.

6. Hung – Napalm Death. My first deep foray into grindcore/death metal and it happened by ‘accident’. At the time, I was into Metallica, pretty much the first step in any teen’s basic metal comprehension. Megadeth, Iron Maiden and Sepultura were also staples. Slayer was harder, faster and darker. So when we came across a cassette given to one of us, we put it on and were dumbfounded by the guttural vocals, chaotic guitars and lyrics that were sputtered out, and would stop mid sentence. We smirked, shook our heads, and were going to eject it, when I convinced everyone to just give it a few more minutes. After all what the hell else did we have planned that day? No foreign diplomats were waiting on us to arbitrate any peace treaties. So we sat there, and suddenly, as the song chugged along to the 2:50 mark of the song, the riff comes in. Jaws dropped. Heads banged.

7. Hats off to the Bull – Chevelle. An obvious reference to bullfighting and rooting for the underdog, this album and title track are built around the state of society and culture these days tied in with a traditional ‘sport’ that is criticized for its cruelty and machismo. Probably my favorite CD by Chevelle since Point #1, as they seemed to return to those roots indirectly, but keeping the sound fresh and perfectly done (see my note on NIN about stale, repetitiveness).

8. Head Down and Half – Both off Soundgarden’s Superunknown. This came out 20 years ago and damn I remember buying it with some of the last crumbs of my lean college student budget. The rest I spent on dinner out at Pizzeria Uno’s with my friends, while we listened to it on my portable CD player. I nod and smile just thinking about how dated that sounds. Anyway, those songs in particular were written by bassist Ben Shepherd, and were seemingly out of place among Chris Cornell’s memorable riffs and structure. It took me a while, but I would later get into them, as I would refrain from hitting the ‘skip’ button. That button made things much easier – no need to wear out the ‘ffwd’ button.

(Hidden Track- various) Ahhh you see what I did there?! Hidden tracks are fun things. Nothing was a better sight than when the track listing was different than the listed version. Even better was when there was no extra track, just the last song having seemingly endless minutes of silence before these odd outtakes or messages. There’s an angry parent calling Marilyn Manson’s hotline, a poetic, if not disturbing phone message 15 minutes after track 69 (as if ‘Disgustipated’ wasn’t disjointed enough, and yes we waited those extra 15 minutes- see #6 again for our work schedules), “Iron Gland” stuck between songs on Alice in Chains’ Dirt, a hidden track before the firts track on Korn’s See you on the other Side and Nine Inch Nails, who on Broken, dragged you out to tracks 98 & 99 for the last songs.

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Filed under Life, Lists, Music, Reviews, Writing, Writing Challenges

Memorable Month – January

I resoluted 12 photo entries – so what was memorable through the first 31 days of the new year?

• I started off the year making popovers.
Though technically I started NYE, it ran that long since the recipe made nearly twice as many as it claimed, and they take about an hour each batch! No worries, they were eaten throughout the night with butter, salt and washed down with champagne.

• I didn’t take pictures of the snow, since I am sure you have no interest in seeing any more.
b0wts However, my new boots, which I had just ordered from LL bean hours before they completely sold out (really, I checked back later, no sizes left!) and which arrived before Christmas, made their debut in the early January snowstorm. They have performed perfectly well since then and absolutely worth the investment, as I plod through slushy curbsides and subway platforms.

What happened to my old worn out boots that still fit like a glove?
m4zb0wt Still safe under the watchful eyes of Max.

• Pizza at Lombardis with a friend who came to NYC for a workation.

Yes her other hand says 'Time'. Don't worry, she's nice!

Yes her other hand says ‘Time’

Haven’t seen her in almost 8 years – it was great catching up. The pizza was good, a little too expensive for toppings (homemade mozzarella was $4), but a small fed 2 people well on a cold winter night. The Sangria helped as well!

• Gussie the cat found a blue string that has become her most favorite thing ever. c4tst Watching her play with it has become my most favorite thing ever.

• I found this brilliant red wine, recommended by my preferred wine shop just a few blocks from my job (they know how to interpret my gibberish).
redwine It goes for around $16. Not too dry or fruity, with a deep red color. It is full bodied and ‘meaty’ as the label claimed (no overt berry or other flavors, which was ok) with a quick clean finish, no lingering tannins. It went perfect with pasta, savory sauce, meatballs and fried eggplant. I get a lot of flack for my red wine choices, but everyone loved the ‘simple’ fullness of each glass.

Already looking for, and making, the moments in February!


Filed under Cats, Life, New York City, Photo Blogs, Recipes, Resolutions, Restaurants, Reviews, Uncategorized, Wine

From A to Zamzee

So hurray for me, I won a Zamzee! Thank you, Ms. Mel!

Say what, BT? you probably asked. What is a Zamzee?

Something between a thumb drive, Just Dance and a Tomagotchi. Only YOU are the virtual pet.

Umm ok, you probably thought. Isn’t this for kids?

While it is geared towards the younger generation, who these days don’t have to walk 10 miles to school (uphill both ways, during snowstorms, even in summer),  responsible and active adults like you, yes YOU, *points at you* will find it useful. Also, Lionel Trains and baseball cards were meant for kids (once upon a time). Also also, we’re all kids at heart.

If you have a Zamzee, it’s pretty simple. Clip it on your belt, and head out into the wild blue yonder/infinity and beyond/get on board the Great Space Coaster. When you get back to your computer (or another that has the program installed) plug it in and see the points/minutes that you racked up!

There are no pressuring ‘calories burned’ counters, nor is your weight measured. There are challenges, but they are based on specific ‘points in this amount of time’ brackets (the descriptions for each challenge are creative and funny – particularly the one where you win a trip to London but Grampa says you better not think about it until that lawn gets mowed!). Pointz can be used for customizing your avatar, a little fella/lady who looks like you would, only 100% more cartoony (you get that from your father’s side).

Not everything about the Zamzee is virtual though! There are Zamz! Zamz are available as rewards for some of the more challenging challenges (quite defining!). You can also use Zamz to buy premium avatar items, but they also can get you ‘real’ prizes (not a Zamzee, since you already have one, duh). Different Zamzee ‘skins’, leopard print duct tape, smart phone apps, and even console video games -ones that incorporate exercise that is (Running from/blasting zombies and rocket-jumping are NOT exercises). You can even use your Zamz towards donations to different causes and charities! The exchange rate runs about 100 Zamz for a dollar, which in this economy is pretty good.

There are also Goalz, which are challenges set by people you know. If you ask for one, your ‘goal setter’ will put in an amount of real money (exchanged to Zams) and set the pointz you need to earn. Reach their goal and you win the Zamz!

Zamzee also has is social interaction in that when you upload pointz, you can choose a status from 3 rows of choices to make odd, but non-offensive heroic tales of exermasize. “Slapping nuns like a bully during a bank robbery” is not an option. Star Wars and Harry Potter references do exist, so they know what items SHOULD be there. There are also seasonal ‘options’, so you can see they like to keep current and fun. You can ‘like’ other Zamzeenians (?) statuses and add them as friends, but there is no direct contact. (you CAN upload to twitter as well, if you have that login information linked in your preferences). Other than that, there are no chat or email options; which further lend to the idea that you should be outside doing something, not sitting in front of a keyboard/staring at a smartphone.

So that’s a Zamzee. The big question though – is it fun to use?

It is! As I mentioned winning a contest earlier, what scored me this Zamzee was mentioning my daily routine of getting off the train one stop past my job, then walking back to it at the end of the day- that being one way I get a bit of exercise in each day. It’s not 10 miles, uphill both ways, but it takes 10-15 minutes each way (yes I have done it in snow and rain storms). I also take the stairs (>10 floors) if required/possible (which is inspired by at least one of four elevators being out all the time!). I’m steadily gaining points and Zams every day, and even manage to win some 15 and 20 minute challenges just during my lunch hour. I’ve already got my eye on the 6 hour challenge (150 Zamz) which I will take on during one of the upcoming NYC street fairs.

As I keep it clipped to my belt each day, it has become a habit, and *ding!* I figured it out; that’s the bottom line with Zamzee. To take each opportunity in your day to get moving and exercise. It’s geared towards kids and their potentially boundless energy, sure, but even grownups could find Zamzee fun and useful. If you have a desk job like me, it’s easy to fall into the habits and excuses of not exercising (planting and building stuff on your virtual farm are also not exercises). Of course Zamzee taps the competitive goals/reward spirit we all have, but at least you are out there and moving, not pestering long lost friends to help with your virtual barn raising.

Wonder how many pointz THAT would be?


Filed under Exercise, Life, Reviews, Shameless Promotions

WayBack Wednesday – Richer for Knowing

This installation of Wayback Wednesday (yes it’s back!) is another look back at times/places/people from my past.

You may remember the band Sixpence None the Richer. “There She Goes”, “Kiss Me”, the cover of “Don’t Dream it’s Over.” Ah yes I think that’s the light bulb flickering in your mind.

Well, I am a fan, which surprises many people, since SNTR have no direct ties to Star Wars, or zombies. I think one of them likes bunnies (but not zombunnies).

As  you know, liking one band, then seeing them tour with someone else, or when members work with other projects, you follow them, which leads you to more exposure (their plan works perfectly). So in one form or another, I have seen them whenever they come to NYC, going back at least 12 years.

About a month ago I found out, after looking around for bands that I used to follow, but have fallen out of touch with (pretty much every single one of them – Fear Factory, Aphex Twin, Joe Satriani, Nine Inch Nails, Pearl Jam) and noticed that they pretty much all have new CD’s, tours and news which I missed out on. All except SNTR, who were coming to the Mercury Lounge two weeks from that very moment, the same day their new CD came out. Talk about perfect timing! So I snagged a ticket, barely wincing at the 25% in surcharges from fucking TicketBastard (Yes I paid $20.50 for a $15.00 ticket), and last Tuesday, headed to the show.

Mercury Lounge is a small, cozy space, one block from Katz’ Deli, and some other LES venues that I catch shows at from time to time; especially and including some friends and locals. The show was lively and people were really into it. It wasn’t a show you stumbled upon; everyone there was a fan.

Another great part about non-arena bands is that the chances to meet the musicians afterwards is pretty good. The singer for SNTR, Leigh Nash, is particularly accessible. I’ve actually met her several times after shows. So after this show, I did the same as usual, waiting a few moments and finding out she was signing CD’s and taking photos by the front area. So after a bit more waiting, I met Leigh once again.

Hurray! She recognized me immediately! I mentioned some early shows they have played, congratulated them on the new CD and thanked them for coming back to NYC for a show. I got my fan experience and all was well with the evening.

So I started thinking, where are the other pics I have with her. There was one signing where I met all the members but no pics of that one.

Well I found them and decided to post!

Leigh and I, February 2003. There’s my chubby mid 20’s clean shaven face (back then I would have never considered beard-dom). I am wearing my winter coat and have a couple extra lbs on me. It was a snowy winter (the show was a day after a big snowstorm, so maybe I was getting my hibernation gut together).

October 2008. BB Kings. She was singing with Delerium and Conjure One on this tour. Sixpence had broken up and she was doing side/solo work, so the chance at meeting again was there.

And finally Leigh and me 2012. She signed the CD for me, also a picture that I had taken of her during the ’08 show, and was genuinely grateful for my continued fandom.

All in all, a good night of music, that took me back to how I enjoyed music, and the reminder that great experiences don’t have to just be memories.


Filed under Concerts, Life, Music, Reviews, Wayback wednesday

Trifextra Challenge 22 – Sunny Side Up

This week we’re revisiting an early Trifextra prompt: retelling. This time, we’re asking you to retell your favorite book. In 33 words. Nothing like a challenge. We are sure you’re up to it.

I picked my favorite childhood book (well one of many!).

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

I still have it, worn, yet full of memories.

In the land of Chewandswallow, citizens didn’t buy food. Weather determined their meals (organic?). All was well until overcooked broccoli and pea soup fog rolled in; then a pancake covered the school (lucky!).


Filed under Books, Creative Writing, Reviews, Trifextra Writing Challenge

Movie reviews – Be Independent

What’s the difference between a B movie and an Indie film? Both have lower budgets, are released through smaller movie companies, and if they are lucky will make a film festival before heading straight to DVD, or Netflix instant. Sometimes, it’s the intention of the director to make something campy, other times, a big movie company might create a smaller label to give some funding to a movie idea that they bought into wither sullying their illustrious reputations for only releasing the highest standards and ideas on reasonable budgets and modest fanfare.

Whatever the case, from the days of my teenager-ness when I purposefully hunted down the worst movies I could find (la la la) to this recent resurgence of interest into lower-budget/tier movies (blockbusters like Transformers and GI Joe have left me disillusioned), I’ve been making the most of my Netflix Instant subscription.

Rubber (2010)

The cover says it all, I think. Well yes a tire. It’s about an old, abandoned tire that somehow becomes sentient (I hesitate to say ‘alive’), and out of all the abilities (besides being sentient) that it gains, it gets the power of ‘blowing stuff up at will’ (there is a technical term for this, which I suspect is telekinesis, but does that necessarily mean blowing things up or just being able to manipulate them?).  Anyway, in order to put some dialogue and a backstory into this, since the general idea is not that deep (ya think?) there is a twist! The movie itself is being shown as a movie, or at least a live action cinematic display (perhaps also known as a PLAY?!) to an audience who are provided with binoculars, by a nameless host/organizer. The random crowd of people is/are instructed when the day’s ‘showing’ begins and ends, and sleep out in the desert at night. They are not fed or given any other amenities, and the organizer begins, or rather continues, acting strangely. But enough about them, that is, without spoilers. Back to the tire.

As the tire goes on increasingly violent adventures, it has flashbacks of what it had recently done, as well as having once been on a car roaring down a similar highway. The movie needs on an ominous note, that is, if you took this movie seriously which you could. To a degree.  Camera angles/visuals are good; the film itself has a feel as if it were a final project for an upper level film course. Taken from my notes as I watched it, I waxed philosophical: “There might be a time when you wake up one day and find yourself somewhere completely out of the ordinary. What you do in that opportunity is pick yourself up, dust off, and move. Always keep moving. Go around, go over, go forward. Or just blow stuffs up.” Eat your heart out Socrates. 

Final Grade: B. Some critics would say it ran a little too long, but there was an attempt at character development. Yes for the tire, but also the side stories, weak as they were. Plus it’s a B movie.

Tucker and Dale vs Evil (2010)

A group of college kids, the guys pseudo-jocks, the girls pseudo sex-kittens, head for hormone-raging adventures in the mountains. On their way down a lonely backwoods country road, they ride alongside some rednecks in a truck, who give them menacing evil looks that can only mean one thing – Killer Rednecks! Eeek!

However, the plot twist come immediately, as everyone winds up at a nearby gas station, the college kids already expecting mass murder by the Killer Rednecks (Eeek). What we hear from the rednecks though, is that they are just shy easy goin’ fellers headed up to a cabin they bought.

What, what?

That’s right, those Killer Rednecks (eek?) are just simple guys with simple needs. To spend weekends/vacations at their lakeside cabin while fishin’. That’s all! In fact Dale has a bit of a crush on one of the sex kittens, and well his attempts at conversation are as painful as the ones you may remember trying. Well, YOU try telling anything to the knowitall college kids that will dissuade them from thinking you are about to hacksaw their limbs without spillin a beer. Even after one of the sex kittens is injured and put in peril, the rednecks’ rescue is misconstrued as kidnapping, and the knowitall college kids hatch some plans that, well, start to backfire on them…with deadly results.

Will the rednecks get their peace and quiet? Will the knowitall college kids figure out they are wrong and stop gittin’ themselves killed? Will there be yet another twist in the plot?

Though a modestly budgeted movie, the acting is superb! The location, plot(s) and idea are executed (yes pun intended) in their parody of traditional horror, with an original twist. There is some over the top gore, including typical items like a wood chipper (yes that is typical these days) which ‘add to the humor’ if horror parody suits you. Very little (in the distance) nudity, much less than any Friday the 13th, but you may or mayn’t miss the lack of T&A. I laughed, I groaned, I thoroughly enjoyed this.

Final Grade: A I didn’t expect much, but I got tons more enjoyment that I would have guessed. This movie was high quality and seemed more ‘indie’ than B genre goes  – definitely not in the ‘so bad it’s good’ justification that I will give a lot of times.  Acting was great, script excellent. Go for it.

Dead Snow (2009)

A German Zombie film! Subtitled of course. A group of horny German  med schoolers go on break (well not spring break since they are traveling in 10 feet of snow to a cabin that some distant relative/friend owned and loaned to them for their fun and frisky frolics. Crazy Eurpoeans do everything backwards. I guess their spring break schedule is metric also). Anyway, what the cabin owner (whoever that was) left out of the cabin details was a terrible secret! That secret is revealed, along with angry Nazi zombies who at the same time, rise from the earth…well the snow, and wreak havoc. Will the med schoolers get away/defeat the zombies who do not represent modern German politics? Will the zombies feast on med school brains? Will you have accurately chosen the person/people who will survive this menace?

Typical plot with a few twists. Blood and gore are well done with CGI, not high budget but effective. Some violent demises, like one zombie pulling apart someone’s head, are a little ‘unbelievable’ (yes I still adhere to physics and logic with zombie horror), and the ‘guts stuck on the tree branch and unraveling for a while before the person figures it out’ gag seems a little Wile E Coyote for me. During one part, after a fight with Nazombies (I am not going to copyright that name, or take credit for inventing it, even though the term was NOT used during the movie), one of the med school students is bitten, and laments that he will be turned into one of them. His friend, in pure dark humor, reasons with him “Are you sure they’d want you? You’re half-Jewish.” Ehhh a little tacky. Maybe they laughed in the German theaters, or maybe it created more awkwardness. Either way, the guy didn’t buy it and chainsawed his arm off. A side note would be that the chainsawing was the SECOND Evil Dead reference that I caught in this movie. Kudos to them for that. Another ‘flaw’ in logic would be that they are covered in zombie blood, but are fine – which contradicts the saliva/bite theory. Yes I will get all Spock on the logics. There is a brief sex scene (pretty much non-nude) in the outhouse; I mean really they are in the snow so who would strip down? There are ‘formal’ terms for sex acts in the bathroom; knowing these will not enrich our lives, so I will skip that. For med school students, they sure didn’t figure out the reason for the Nazombie invasion, when it was pretty obvious. Maybe if they had put up a dry erase board and went all House MD with theories (or a round of Win/Lose or Draw), they would have spared themselves…a little. The ending was not so bad; a very Ah-ha!/Oh No! moment.

Final Grade: B/B+. With all its good and bad, it seemed more like a movie that Europeans made in the American grain of horror movies (in which case they should have had gratuitous nudity). When done the other way around there is usually more success.  

Suck (2009)

A band, ironically called the Winners (yes they planned it), are anything but. Barely paying gigs in small clubs, they can’t get enough attention to make money cut a demo or get labels to come to a show. Throw in some ‘former relationship drama’ between Joey the lead singer, and Jennifer the bassist, and well things ain’t going their way. Which reminds me, even having a hot girl in their band isn’t working for them, which is kind of unbelievable (works in real life all the time).  

So how can things get worse? Well after heading out with a mysterious stranger (is there any other kind), Jennifer shows up late, not looking or feeling too well. Stranger still, at their next gigs, The Winners are garnering more attention. Well, Jennifer is anyway. One particular person is showing up, following them around – not a label rep, but a vampire hunter.  Yeap, Jennifer is now one of the undead, and as band members start suspecting one thing and another, they have to decide whether the risk of bodies piling up, or they themselves becoming a bloody Big Gulp, is worth the growing fame.

Music is good, they actually perform some songs. Joey (Rob Stefaniuk) is also the writer, director and soundtracker of Suck, so it’s not like they had everyone stand around pretending to pluck strings, which put this above some SNL or Super Bowl performances that are out there.

Special effect, camerawork and acting are all above par, as most of the actors have a good handful of past credits.

There are some great cameos, including Malcolm McDowell as the vampire hunter, Iggy Pop, Henry Rollins, Moby and Alice Cooper, each as burnouts or wretches of the entertainment industry in one way or the other (they likely just acted like people they have encountered at some point). Each is a surprise pop-up and actually hold their own.

There are several memorable quotable moments:

–“Nobody likes a judge.” “Nobody likes a vampire either!”
–“Did he just say we’re going to be famous?” “Yeah.” “Whoa. I gotta call my mom.”
–Van Helsing:“I’m afraid of the dark.” Bouncer: “Cool. I’m afraid of confined spaces and water fountains.”
–“How am I supposed to look at myself in their mirror?” “You can’t, you’re a vampire.” “Yeah you’re just going to have to suck it up.”

Final Grade: A-. Suck doesn’t suck. Acting as I said, is good, plot is not really original, cameos are great, all in all a good watch.

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Flick Picks Vol. 1

Like I mentioned, I have been watching more movies since joining Netflix, and well why not document those as well! I will contradict myself here, and mention that spoilers will be listed, but not the endings of movies, just what happens in some scenes. It will be just movies this time; will mix them in future blogs. Or not. Fell free to let me know what you think of these, if you decide to based on what I say. Since I am goign through Netflix, if you have an account you can ge them easily.

13 Assassins – 2010

After hearing of the atrocities of a Shogun’s relative (Lord Naritsugu), culminating in the harikari of a political figure in protest, another district counselor and samurai vows to bring the man to justice and avenge those whom he has brought shame and death upon, by taking his life in turn. (Seems legit to me) Typical samurai plot of course, but done well here. The camerawork is brilliant, the acting authentic, sets and locations arranged wonderfully. Music is kept to a minimum for much of the movie, the gravity of thoughts and decisions weighing heavily and needing no prompts. You can truly sense the tension in the air as they conspire, knowing, accepting, even hoping(?) that many of them will almost surely die; they only wish to have it happen in a fight and to not be discovered/have their plot foiled. There is a scene *spoiler alert* about 30 minutes in, where Shinzaemon is shown a woman who had her arms and legs cut off, and as she writes (with a brush in her mouth), her family and village was massacred. This scene hit me very hard, it’s very intense. What brought it up even a notch from that was Shinzaemon’s response. “Fate has smiled upon me” he says calmly, with what seems to be intensely controlled mirth almost making him smile at what he is seeing. He speaks about being a samurai, the pride and honor of it – but that he is a samurai during peaceful times. This, he feels, gives him and other samurai the opportunity to do what they are bred for; to fight with honor and die with it. His body language, and the way he speaks, even though I needed subtitles to understand, transcended what even the best words cannot explain. One of the most intense monologues I have heard from a movie in a while.
The second scene, again with Shinzaemon he stands at the roof of a building facing Lord Naritsugu. Rather than simply continue killing the army, he reaches into his robes and unfurls a parchment; holding it out, we see the words that the mutilated woman wrote out “total massacre”. The scene, and that brief moment where the tension once again hangs in the air, is a definitive scene, considering also that (bad guy) doesn’t even get it, until it is explained, and even then gives a brief recollection that is meaningless to him.
The last half hour is all fighting, a good balance of dialogue, plot/character development, and sheer brutal killing. Yin and Yang. There is a bit of mysticism with one character; not getting more out of it was not too much of a loss for me, as it gives even more of an impression of a tale, which always has some small embellishments.

Grade: A. Definitely worth your time.

Keywords: Drama, Violence, Vengeance, War, Samurai

Saints and Soldiers – 2003.

A lower-budgeted movie set in World War 2. A group of American POW’s escape from their Nazi captors and try to maneuver through a wintry French countryside. Along the way they meet a British airman who has vital information that needs to be delivered. You know the formula – a group of completely different personalities have a seemingly impossible goal, come across smaller adventures/dangers along the way, while some of them start getting picked off along the way. As I said it is a lower budget flick (I think it went straight to DVD), so don’t expect much in known actors (they have made movies SINCE then, but no one that I recognized right away. Not much in F/X, or musical scores, but then again – who needs it? Simple script, a bit of drama from the soldier with PTSD, and some critics point out the religious/Mormon angles/ideals that are pushed a bit (it was funded by Mormons and filmed in Utah), but it’s not flagrant like Mel Gibson movies, or the Left Behind Series – I didn’t even pick up on it until afterwards.

Grade: B. Worth the 90 minutes on Netflix, for a snow day or if the fish ain’t biting.

Keywords- Drama, War, Violence, WWII, independent film, Nazi

Zombie Girl: The Movie – 2009

Low budget documentary about a low budget movie. Win win – if that’s your bag. A 12 year old girl who is a horror movie fanatic, writes a script for her own movie “Pathogen”, but in this day and age of easily accessible technology, decides that she wants this done, I mean really done, now now now. At first you’ll think that, again, in this day and age, a kid would not have the attention span to see it through. Well, you’re half right. Some small indie producers/actors, friends and other would be actors, local comic store/theater/trade show organizers, a crew filming a documentary, and her parents, all band together to support this movie. Are they helping her along or carrying her? You will see glimpses of teen angst/brattiness, and the film cuts to months later with little explanation (though schoolwork and budget are pretty obvious I guess), and her own half-hearted attempts to secure a film makers guild grant (why bother when you know your parents and/or the crew filming you will pay for it?), along with the obvious issues of amateur acting/filming in a suburban town. Again, the idea that this is getting done is just as much the overindulgence of the parents as her dedication, but you’ll find yourself rooting for her, and curious as to how the end product turns out.
If low budget flicks, and incredibly cheesy B horror movies in general, along with documentary crews who seem to be just as new as their subject in making films are your bag, well then you’ll like it. Otherwise, I would skip it, and just sit on your porch yelling at those rapscallions with their cameras and fancy phones to get off your lawn.

Grade: B-,  curved from C+. It’s a B movie after all…
Keywords: Documentary, Film, B Movies, Horror, Independent film.

Lisa Lampinelli: Tough Love- 2011

A recording of a live LL standup concert. She goes through the motions, picking out people from every demographic from the audience and goes back to them with stereotypical statements from bits in her routine, peppered in with sex jokes from her sex life. Not something that I wanted to visualize at all. Her voice is annoying, her routine outdated (I get that she is breaking through the thin-skinned PC rules of how specific races/cultures are, and yes I laughed, but I laughed at those jokes 20 years ago). Tried to get through it twice, but nope couldn’t do it.

Grade: Incomplete –F. A sign of the times. That sign is ‘dead end’.
Keywords: movies, reviews, standup, comics.

Joe Rogan: Live – 2006
Yes he’s host of Fear Factor and gets to ogle the women who have to strip down to bathing suits for at least one ‘stunt’, but that’s the only thing you would put the show on for. This concert is nothing but a musclehead with a backwards hat shouting stupid jokes. I can’t stress it enough that he shouts, endlessly. Sort of liek when people raise their voice when speaking to someone who doesn’t undertsand their language. If you’re not in a frat house doing a keg stand, you shouldn’t waste your time.

Grade: Incomplete –F. Again, if you like today’s comics, or comparing them to comics of yesteryear, then go for it.
Keywords: movies, reviews, standup, comics

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