Tag: reviews

I Lost 200 Pounds, Made Friends, And Overcame Agoraphobia — All Thanks To Pokemon Go!

I was pumped to see lot of geeks outside playing Pokemon Go today. Who knew that forcing us nerds outside — exercising — would be so successful?

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For those of you who don’t know, Pokemon Go is an app. As you walk, when you walk past landmarks, parks, art, or points of interest, you can collect trinkets, animals (Pokemon), etc. Your phone buzzes, and you catch the Pokemon in real life. Certain areas are dense with Pokemon and drops, such as parks, cities, and college campuses. There are people catching Pokemon in hospitals, finding corpses, and committing crimes.

Here are the 3 best things about the game:

The game incentivizes exercise. I predict that people are going to lose a lot of weight playing this game. Walking and running can be sweaty and dull. It takes a long time to see results.  But if you’re collecting things, you feel a sense of accomplishment. You’re triggering feel-good hormones in association with something you hated before. Just today, for example, I went on a 3-mile run to grab some trinkets, then walked with my husband around campus to get more. Then, after dinner, we had to walk to a park to experiment with another feature of the game.

The game puts you near other people. Video games typically happen in the privacy of the home — alone. This game’s nature involves leaving the house and going to hotspots where other people might be. This afternoon, my husband and I ran into tons of people playing the game. People were exchanging tips, instructions, and locations of different areas to catch certain Pokemon. Because everyone was playing the same game, there wasn’t that socially awkward “what should we talk about?” moment. There was at least one common denominator. Talking to new people felt easy.

The game helps you discover new features of your town. One of my friends stated that this game would revolutionize the public’s interaction with public art. It’s true: my husband and I have found new parks, sculptures, murals, and dedicated benches all over town.  I’m not sure how they’re determined, exactly, but there are some awesome spots embedded in the game.

The game gets you out of the house. There’s a lot to be said for just leaving sometimes. Sunshine, fresh air, and exercise are all great for you; but sometimes one can’t be bothered. This game makes you bother, and, I suspect, will help people with agoraphobia get out of the house. It’s a project.

The game isn’t the solution to the world’s problems, but I do think that making dull things fun and rewarding is something that should be pursued further. Turning onerous tasks into games helps get them done.

I, for one, am exhausted. This Pokemaster is going to bed.

A Few Good Mensch: How The Jews Saved Earth, Again, in Independence Day Resurgence

The original Independence Day was about a lot of things: stinky alien corpses, Will Smith hitting things, the White House exploding, Data from Star Trek getting possessed, unspoken words between lovers, families reaching across distance, and nerdy Jews.

The two main characters were a studly action star and… geeky, scraggly, hairy, fussy, introverted Jeff Goldblum.

Independence Day was mostly considered “Will Smith’s summer movie this year.” People said “Did you see the new Will Smith movie?”, not “Did you see the new Jeff Goldblum movie?”

It’s surprising, therefore, that Independence Day: Resurgence is a Jeff Goldblum movie. While there is a “Will Smith” character (a similar-looking actor who plays his adopted son from the first movie), he’s hardly on screen at all.

The franchise’s sequel-switcheroo changes everything. It even changes the way I think about the original. 

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To briefly summarize Independence Day Resurgence:

On the 20th anniversary of the attack, the aliens return. They want to kill us again.

The aliens blow up our satellites and most of our defenses. They wreck our landmarks. The odds look bad.

The president gives a rousing speech. Humans rally. There’s a fight. Some live. Some die. The aliens win. The end.

Just kidding.

After watching the movie, my husband was confused about the huge part that David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum)’s father, Julius Levinson, played in the film. This time around, he doesn’t have any brilliant ideas. He just putzes around and uses a lot of Yiddish. He could have been removed from the movie entirely and not affected the plot a whit.

Mr Levinson is the comedic relief,” I said. “This movie is basically a Jewish comedy with aliens.”

And I realized, after I’d said it, that it was true.

In my heart, David Levinson had always been the protagonist/mastermind. Will Smith was a pawn in Levinson’s game of mental chess against the aliens.

This was the movie version of Garry Kasparov (who had a Jewish dad!) vs Deep Blue — humanity versus the Other.

What’s interesting here is that humanity typically treats Jews like the Other. They’ve historically been treated like second-class citizens, yet they’re the ones spearheading the campaign against the aliens in these films. Their oddness — their unconventional approach — is what usually makes them loathed. But it gives them the intellectual edge here.

Jews are the underdog of humanity. Humanity is the underdog of this fight.

The Independence Day series is a David and Goliath battle, maxed out. 

It’s basically Bible storytelling.

With aliens.

Which makes the plot really simple and archetypal.

Depending on your point of view, that makes Independence Day 1 & 2 either classic or stupid.

Most critics agree that the movie didn’t need to be made twice. Independence Day 2 was a re-hash of the first, with a deluge of callbacks and references. Though it doesn’t break any new ground, it did make me re-consider the first movie in a new light.

And also? It was a shit-ton of fun.

Week In Media: 10 Cloverfield Lane, One Million Bullets, Magicians Trilogy, & Good Girl

The magic of 10 Cloverfield Lane is that the ads don’t tell you anything. I won’t tell you anything, either — because that’ll ruin some of the fun. This movie is tense and unforgettable. There isn’t a moment you’ll feel safe to go to the bathroom. You will hold your pee inside happily.

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Read More Week In Media: 10 Cloverfield Lane, One Million Bullets, Magicians Trilogy, & Good Girl

I hate-watched Fuller House so you didn’t have to.

I tested the strength of my marriage today.

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Our trial under fire was the pilot of Fuller House.

I could not pass up an opportunity to watch this throwback trainwreck.

My husband collapsed into a puddle of sighs and despair at the suggestion.

We watched anyway.

Here are my top 5 Fuller House thoughts:

1. The women aged nicely. The men — not so much. Except Uncle Jesse, of course. HAVE MERCY. Is this because women have more societal pressure to wear makeup and maintain a certain size? Or is it that women on TV tend to be more attractive in the first place (even during the original run)?

2. This is the most white show I have ever seen. There’s one Latino character. He speaks with an exaggerated Spanish lisp and cheats on his wife. I get that the Tanners happen to be white — but the inclusion of the terrible, racist Latino character is worse than none at all.

3. The inclusion of a laugh track highlights where the jokes fail. And they fail at least 90% of the time. We’ve entered a more sophisticated age of comedy that relies less on sight gags, repetition, tropes, 20-year-old callbacks, and two-dimensional characters. I do not want to return to the pre-30 Rock era.

4. They haven’t updated the kitchen since the 90s. And you know how I feel about beige kitchens.

5. I can’t look away from Jodie Sweetin’s surgical choices. I know where her eyes are. I am not looking there.

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You aren’t looking there, either.

I daresay they perked up the experience — but they weren’t enough to save the show from itself. I doubt many people will bother past the pilot, and that’s for the best.

3 Movies You Should See: Jurassic World, What We Do In The Shadows, Inside Out

Movies rock. They’re perfect: short, emotional, funny, and pretty. When they suck, they’re only 2 hours; when they’re awesome, you can see them again and again.

Here are a few films I wouldn’t mind seeing again:

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Jurassic World (5/5 stars, theaters): In this movie, Jurassic World (a successful Jurassic Park) has flagging numbers because people are getting bored of the dinosaurs on offer. They decide to boost park attendance by creating a new dinosaur with oodles of new cross-bred features.

Except, whoops, they made it too smart. Dammit.

So it tears the park a new a-hole. Chris Pratt and his sort-of-domesticated Velociraptor Motorcycle Squad have to handle it.

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This actually happens. ^

Tons of stuff explodes. People die. People get attacked by Pterodactyls. The T-Rex from the first movie makes an appearance. Jimmy Buffett makes a cameo in which he runs from dinosaurs holding 2 margaritas.

I’ve been told by many people that he film is stupid and riddled with plot holes. (Like no Jeff Goldblum, and the fact that Chris Pratt keeps his shirt on the entire time.)

Well, obviously. The entire franchise is dumb. But come on. Live a little. 5/5 stars anyway.

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What We Do In The Shadows (5/5 Stars, Amazon Prime): Welcome to the anti-Twilight. This mockumentary is schlumpy, unattractive middle-aged New Zealander vampires. Despite their ability to fly and murder people, they are wonderfully banal. They argue over who does the dishes. They have trouble finding victims and deciding what to wear.

This movie’s shot like The Office. It’s awkward. There are long silences. People look at the camera. Characters say really stupid things.

I personally adore the mockumentary genre. I loved Best In Show, Borat, and Parks & Rec. This is a great addition to the cannon, if you like that sort of thing.

Read More 3 Movies You Should See: Jurassic World, What We Do In The Shadows, Inside Out