Tag: Review

Eavesdropping on the Dawn Patrol

Dawn Patrol is a fun, new podcast from the makers of Technical Difficulties, (formerly Generational).

If you want to know what it’s about in 140 characters of less, I’ll let Justin Lancy put it better than I can.

When I was in college, my roommates and I would often have rambling conversations about technology, video games, movies, TV and anywhere the threads of discussion took us. I love this podcast because it captures the random threads created by four friends talking. There’s no editing. No caffeination. No polished presentations. There’s real people having real conversations.

I feel like I’m eavesdropping on their conversation when there’s a new episode released. It’s so much fun and I highly recommend it.

Podcasts I Enjoy – Song Exploder

Hrishikesh Hirway has put together a wonderful podcast called Song Exploder. Song Exploder is a podcast where musicians take apart their songs, and piece by piece, tell the story of how they were made.

I learned about it from 99% Invisible: 118- Song Exploder. Another podcast I’ve only recently fallen in love with.

Open Mike Eagle is my favorite interview so far. He talks about loving with a beat and how a song evolves as his relationship with that beat grows.

For me to really, really get ready to write a song, I have to let the beat get me pregnant almost. I have to let the beat live inside of me to the point where I can recreate the beat in my head when I’m away from it over and over again.

It’s about finding a frequency and answering whatever the questions this beat is asking me.

The episodes about Bob’s Burgers and House of Cards were fun since I was very familiar with both of those themes. I hadn’t realized just how much the House of Cards theme changed between seasons. And I never knew there was so much hidden in the Bobs’ Burgers theme song.

Brian Reitzell talks about scoring a video game. He has done work for video games prior to Watch Dogs and talks about the particular challenge of video games. How do you write a modular, looping piece of music that doesn’t feel like it’s looping? Video game sounds are interesting to me since the music is often so overlooked or ignored completely. It’s an interesting challenge to score something like a game.

I could not stop giggling during the Garbage episode because they kept saying this sounds like Garbage.

If you like music, I think you’ll enjoy this podcast too. It’s short, about 20 minutes per episode with the artist talking about how they create their songs and sounds. And at the end, the entire song is played so you can hear the song they’ve talked about if you’re not familiar with it.

Subscribe to it at songexploder.net/.

Since the podcast only comes out twice a month, I subscribed to his newsletter Five Song Fridays. This week’s newsletter was all about Movie Music.

Monaco – What’s Yours is Mine [Game Review]

I picked up Monaco: What’s Yours Is Mine recently when it was offered free to Xbox Live members. I heard it was a good co-op game and I was delighted to find it allowed for Couch Co-op. This means my wife and I could sit on the couch and play it together.

In the age of Xbox Live, fewer games allow two people to play together in the same room. It’s irritating because I love to play together but there is so little to choose from. And don’t say Halo or Call of Duty. Gunning people down gets old quickly, especially for casual play.

Monaco: What’s Yours Is Mine was a wonderful find. It has a retro 8-bit style and is shown top-down. This is important because the game is all about sneaking through buildings to pull off heists. To start, four thieves are available. Each has a certain skill set to aid your mission. It allows for up to 4 people to play locally or online. We started out and quickly added two more thieves to our roster.

Choose your crew wisely.

The challenge was finding the best thief for the job. We robbed banks, freed other criminals and stole passports from an embassy. Often starting over as we triggered alarms and were found and killed. We tried again. Learning how to better get through a room. How to hack an alarm or laser trigger to sneak by unsuspecting guards.

The game is one big stealthy puzzle. In some levels, we had access to guns. But mostly we had smoke bombs or bandages. Have you ever snuck through a three-story building against armed guards with nothing more than your cunning and a bandage?

We had a blast playing it. I look forward to picking it up and trying to make it through the next levels.

Download the game for Xbox 360 or Steam for Windows, Mac or Linux.

Tiny: A Review About Living Small

Tiny: A Story About Living Small

Rating: ★

I’m interested in the tiny house movement. I think the idea of casting away most of the junk that fills our homes and storage units is admirable and pleasant. This may be taking it to an extreme but I thought this would be a good intro and look into the world.

It wasn’t.

photo of the tiny house from tine-themovie.com

I enjoyed hearing about the motivations and desires of the tiny house dwellers interviewed. However, the main person in the story built a house because. Because he was bored? Because he had nothing better to do? Because he wanted to?

I don’t really know. It came off as I built this house because I had nothing better to do and it sounded like a good challenge. It’s a DYI Project Turned Documentary. It would have been better if it were a series of interview clips with people about the hows and why of their tiny homes. I wish the main person would have gone into detail at all about his tiny house.

  • What challenges did he face?
  • How did he overcome them?
  • Did he overcome them?
  • Is living in the tiny house all he hoped it would/could be?
  • Is he happy he worked on the project?
  • Does he live in the house full-time?

I don’t feel like I learned anything watching the documentary. It was a story of a bored man who wanted to build something and film it.

Since I was interested, I did visit the film’s website and saw an update about them two years later. This was written in May 2014.

Christopher, the main person in the documentary lived there full-time for 10 months.

Christopher lived in the Tiny House full-time from June 2013 through March 2014 (minus the month of January, when we was in Los Angeles helping a friend with a film project). When asked whether it’s what he expected, he always laughs and says it was surprisingly easy to live in such a small space. The only big challenge was living without running water. Because the land in Hartsel didn’t have access to water, we didn’t build plumbing into the house and hauled water in. So he showered mostly at the gym (an excellent motivation to work out!) The house is still located in this spot, in a very generous friend’s backyard on a rise just east of Boulder, Colorado, with an incredible view of the Continental Divide. Though my life is mostly rooted in New York these days, I’ve been back to visit quite a few times and stayed in the house for a few weeks when Christopher was out of town this winter.

Now, the house sit empty in the backyard of a very generous friend.

So as I suspected, this was a one-off project and not a lifestyle choice. It was more about the film than about the house or the lifestyle. Which is fine. That was his goal and he’s happy with it. But it’s not what I wanted when I sat down to watch the documentary.

If you want to watch it, you can stream it from Netflix.

For more information, check out the official website.

Update: My friend Reesa pointed me to Small is Beautiful: A Tiny House Documentary. It’s another documentary about tiny houses that’s now in-production and looking for money to finish. While I have no finished product to judge, this appears to be a documentary from people who want to build a tiny house and live there. I’m hoping it will be what I didn’t get out of Tiny.

If you’re in the Washington DC area, you can RSVP to visit Boneyard Studios. A tiny house community. I missed the most recent open house the weekend I moved. But there is a form to RSVP for their next open house.

The Grand Budapest Hotel

I went to see The Grand Budapest Hotel last night. After Moonrise Kingdom, which may be a perfect movie, I was excited. I purposefully didn’t read anything about the movie beforehand. I didn’t want to spoil the experience with other’s opinions.

I really enjoyed the visuals in the movie. I loved set pieces and design of the hotel. There’s some bits of humor that aren’t overt I really enjoyed. The bits of animation and models were fun and flowed nicely in the story.

But the story…

It was OK. Very predictable. Didn’t really have a good ending. I didn’t care about any of the characters. Edward Norton was a throw away character that could have been played by anyone.

I really liked Willem DaFoe’s character. He reminded me a lot of his performance in Boondock Saints. I like how Tilda Swinton was used. I enjoyed Jeff Goldblum being less… Jeff Goldblumy.

But in the end, any of the characters could have died, or been forgotten about and I wouldn’t have missed them. The story didn’t evoke any emotion in me. It was an interesting story. But not exciting and told very rigidly. The actors gave rigid performances. But that seemed to be the point.

The story was built around the visuals of the movie. But visuals alone do not make a good movie.