Monday, March 16, 2009

Fighting Back, Fighting Back 2, -and- Basic Instinct

Fighting Back - man unwisely tries to rob Tae Kwon Do studio
Fighting Back 2 - 71-year-old man fights off would-be robber with ice scraper
Basic Instinct - inmate murdered when put in cell with killer against whom he testified

On this day in history: March 16, 1994 - Figure skater Tonya Harding arrested for obstruction of prosecution during the fallout from the Nancy Kerrigan figure skate clubbing.

Born on this day in history: March 16, 1926 - Jerry Lewis (1926 - ) Born in Newark, N.J., comedian Jerry Lewis worked one-night comedy stands until he partnered with singer Dean Martin in 1946. The team made 17 films and toured nightclubs together before splitting up. They are among the most famous comedy duos of all time.

Scripture of the Day: You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. - Galatians 3:26-27

Video of the Day: Guns, Guns, Guns! - submitted by Frank

Imagine my surprise when I encountered this coconut crab on the way to my office this morning! The Coconut Crab (Birgus latro) is the largest terrestrial arthropod in the world. It is known for its ability to crack coconuts with its strong pincers in order to eat the contents. It is sometimes called the robber crab because some coconut crabs are rumored to steal shiny items such as pots and silverware from houses and tents. Click to enlarge.

The Weekend: Friday, my brother—visiting from Southern California—came to our house for dinner. We had a green salad, with cluster tomatoes and white mushrooms, and two Freschetta pizzas. The first pizza was a supreme, and the second was a pepperoni. Remnants of the pepperoni pizza followed me to the office this morning.

Following dinner, we viewed "My Super-Ex Girlfriend." Matt Saunders(Luke Wilson) is uneasy when he meets Jenny Johnson (Uma Thurman), who comes off to him as a shy, needy librarian type. But Jenny has a secret. Everybody in the town knows G-Girl, who constantly manages to single-handedly keep New York City from trouble. Little does anybody know, G-Girl is really Jenny Johnson. When Matt introduces Jenny to his long-time work friend Hannah (Ana Faris), Jenny begins to act jealously and controlling, which leads to him dumping her. But that upsets her greatly, so she decides to get her revenge, using her powers to make his life a living hell. For a film that is so silly, it is surprisingly well-executed. Everything gels, and director Ivan Reitman catches us off-guard with moments of absurd hilarity. Performances are likable all around, with Uma Thurman portraying G-Girl with believable ease. Luke Wilson is well-cast as the guy in over his head. Writing is solid, and direction keeps things breezy.

Saturday evening, my brother came to our house for dinner. I grilled two large pork tenderloins. They had been marinated with an Italian herb marinade, and I sprayed them with a mixture of 1 part extra-virgin olive oil and three parts balsamic vinegar will grilling them. I made dirty rice and beans, using Tony Chachere's dirty rice, julienned red onion, minced garlic, fresh cilantro, diced cluster tomatoes, and kidney beans. The meal was delightful. Following dinner, we watched "Transporter 2." In Miami, the professional driver Frank Martin (Jason Statham) is working temporarily for the Billings family, transporting their son Jack (Hunter Clary) while his driver is on vacation. Mr. Billings (Matthew Modine) is an important member of the government and Mrs. Audrey Billings (Amber Valletta) trusts on Frank, who promises to protect the boy. When Jack is kidnapped by a mercenary hired by the Colombian cartels, Frank faces the criminals and the Miami police force trying to rescue the kid. When the boy returns to his family, Jack discloses the real and lethal intention of the abduction of Jack. "Transporter 2" is a great action movie that certainly will never be indicated to an Oscar or discussed by intellectuals at a table in a bar, but very entertaining and recommended for fans of James Bond, Jackie Chan, Jet Li, and movies with car chases and explosions. The story is full of adrenaline, funny most of the time, with very hilarious sequences. The performance of Matthew Modine and his grimaces is the negative point of this film.

Sunday afternoon, Laura and I watched "The Skeleton Key." The background story is textbook "New Orleans' voodoo vengeance;" the characters' motives are obvious from the second they appear on screen, and the solid but pedestrian cinematography means that the locations are massively underused. Kate Hudson is really switched-on and not your average dumb heroine. John Hurt is surprisingly effective, really working his eyes and body, considering he's had a stroke (in the film). Gena Rowlands and Peter Saarsgard are fine, but their performances are hampered by the all too obvious script and direction. Joy Bryant is gorgeous, but her character is nothing more than a device to give Kate slightly more personality and a convenient person who can explain about hoodoo/voodoo. Although the film as a whole is predictable and does not quite live up to its potential, the final scenes wrap up the story nicely and will put a grin on your face.

Sunday evening, my brother visited again. We had chilled Oriental chicken salad (ramen noodles, diced chicken breast, peas, sliced celery, diced red bell pepper, sliced and poached white mushrooms, chopped green onions, chopped cabbage, grated ginger, and shredded carrots—dressed with extra-virgin olive oil, rice wine vinegar, and the Oriental seasoning packets that came with the ramen noodles. It was a delightful meal. Following dinner, we watched episodes of "Street Customs" and "Monster Garage."

The Bathtub Test

During a visit to the mental asylum, I asked the director, "How do You determine whether or not a patient should be institutionalized?"

"Well," said the director, "ee fill up a bathtub, then we offer a teaspoon, a teacup and a bucket to the patient and ask him or her to empty the bathtub."

"Oh, I understand," I said. "A normal person would use the bucket because it's bigger than the spoon or the teacup."

"No." said the director, "A normal person would pull the plug. Do you want a bed near the window?"