Monday, December 28, 2009

AVATAR Will Blow Your Mind

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It generally takes a lot to blow my mind, but AVATAR did it... many times over.

I went into the experience expecting a lot, considering the rave reviews I had heard from family, friends, and critics throughout the past week, but because I didn't read up much on the movie, I didn't know exactly what to expect, and that is just how I like to go into a movie watching experience.

Showtimes were sold out all day at Dallas's only true IMAX (size-wise), so I got tickets to the fake IMAX at the AMC down the street, and let me tell you, I was not at all disappointed by the smaller screen. Even calling it "smaller" is stupid because it's still huge. And because AVATAR's aspect ratio when shown on IMAX nearly fills the entire screen, it was well worth the extra dollar for the IMAX upgrade.

Now, on to the movie: it was incredible.

Without getting into storyline (because I don't do spoilers, even though it wouldn't really even matter with this film), I will just say the visual effects employed in this film are unmatchable. They make the dragon fight scene in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire look like I made it on my home computer.

The 3D added amazing depth and sensation to every scene whether stationed in a military bunker or flying through the floating Hallelujah Mountains. The image was, however, overwhelming at times, due to my vulnerability to motion sickness, but I just removed the glasses during a few indoor scenes when the 3D was less necessary in order to relieve the overwhelmingness.
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James Cameron has been developing AVATAR ever since Titanic was finished in 1997. But he said he waited to make the movie until technology caught up with his vision for it. And thank God he did.

As my dad said, "It made Star Wars look like kindergarten."
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I also loved the casting of the movie. Relative newcomer Sam Worthington was great as lead character/avatar Jake Sully, and Zoe Saldana (Star Trek) was perfect as Neytiri.Photobucket
It was very interesting to read about the new motion capture technology used to create the avatars and Navi. Particularly that they were able to view the CGI characters on monitors in real time as the actors played them. Crazy stuff you can read more about on the Avatar Wikipedia page.
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Also liked that Ana-Lucia from LOST came back from the dead for the movie and that Phoebe Buffay's brother Frank is still getting work.Photobucket
Moral of the story is: go see AVATAR in IMAX (big or small).

It'll blow your mind and then some.

I can't wait to see the influence it has on movie making in the future, including the two sequels already planned by Cameron "if the movie is successful." But seeing as it already has the highest opening of any original non-franchise, non-sequel film in history, those sequels are already a done deal.

PS: the night after I saw the movie I had crazy cool dreams I was flying through mountains and rain forests. That alone was worth the $13 ticket price.

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Friday, December 11, 2009

Princess and the Frog "Blue skies and sunshine!"

Disney's "The Princess and the Frog," was finally released this weekend, returning the studio to the 2D hand-drawn animation that Walt Disney made famous. The last attempt Disney made at a hand drawn feature was 2004's mega flop, "Home On the Range." No wonder it took so long to bring it back.

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Princess and the Frog was a visually stunning tale of Tiana, a New Orleans native who dreams of one day running her own restaurant. I liked that we got to see Tiana from a young age as well as when she was older. It definitely added a more personal connection to the story.
PhotobucketThe story uses the classic tale "The Frog Prince" as the basis for its fairy tale adventure when Naveen, a prince visiting New Orleans, is turned into a frog by the local voodoo practitioner.

The artists went above and beyond on the colors and detail throughout the movie. They were even able to make the dark, swampy, mossy setting a beautiful sight to be seen.

The voices in the movie were great, too. Tiana, voiced by Anika Noni Rose (From Justin To Kelly, Dreamgirls), is fantastic speaking and singing. Her mother, voiced by Oprah Winfrey is... Oprah Winfrey. And Disney mainstay Jim Cummings (voices Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Pete...) was great as Ray the firefly.
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The music by Randy Newman (Toy Story) was better than I had expected and perfectly fit the jazzy New Orleans setting.

My favorite song by far was "Dig a Little Deeper," sung by Jenifer Lewis (Meet the Browns) as Mama Odie. Lewis performed for a period as Motormouth Maybelle in the Broadway production of Hairspray, so she's no stranger to rousing musical numbers.

Ray and Louis, the sidekick firefly and alligator, were hilarious sidekicks to Tiana and Naveen and even struck an emotional, tear-filled chord in more than one audience member...

I don't like movie spoilers so in this review they are none.

Just go see the movie for yourself, and enjoy this great addition to the Disney animated family.

Leave your thoughts in the comments or send them to me on Twitter!

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

My Fajitas Were a Success!

If you know me or follow me on Twitter, it should not come as surprise that I rarely cook. The food service industry has been very kind to me over the years (well, except for the short while I worked as a waiter at the Olive Garden, but that's a different story.)

Last night, though, I thought I would take advantage of my non-existent schedule and cook up one of my favorite meals, fajitas. Though it's rare that I cook, I picked one of the most non-mess-up-able meals you could choose.
Fajita Beef
I went to Central Market to get a good cut of marinated fajita beef, onions, jalapeños, and limes for the occasion. After speaking extensively over the phone with my brother-in-law, I felt prepared enough to take on this Tex-Mexican tradition.
Onions
The first step in preparation was to sprinkle the skillet with the juice of a lime then set the lime halves in the skillet to cook along with the rest of the food, infusing the flavor.

Well, no less than 14 seconds after I did this, the overwhelming steam/smoke from the limes engulfed the apartment and set off our rather sensitive smoke detectors... So my friends and I opened the doors, turned on the fans, threw the skillet on the patio, and tried to diffuse the cloud before it set off the alarms and sprinklers in the complex, ruining not only my dinner, but everyone else's lives.
Fajitas Cooking
The limes were simply removed from the pan, and the crisis was averted. But it was close... I should have known better; after all, the lime sprinkling is the trick restaurants use to make the fajitas appear sizzling hot as they bring them to your table.

In the end, the fajitas turned out great, along with the addition of black beans, guacamole, and Glee, which is what we watched while we ate.
Fajitas
¡Olé!

PS: what did you think of Glee? I enjoyed this episode more than most, but I'm still waiting for the pizzaz from the pilot episode. Maybe they're saving that for regionals?

Who knows. I guess we'll find out in April.

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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

What's with all the TINY food?

OK so I'll admit: at one point or another, I too thought the tiny burgers were cute (as my selection from Ruby Tuesday above presents), but what is with the rampant overtaking of our nation's food supply with miniature versions of our favorite foods?

Not only has the mini burger/sandwich craze trickled down to even the fast food restaurants, like Jack in the Box, but now they're making other foods that were already small enough even smaller!

Chili's just announced their new mini TACOS.
Though they may appear to be somewhat normal-sized in the picture, don't be fooled by the camera's trickery. Just compare them to the slice of lime in the photo, and you'll see that they're not much bigger, and I GUARANTEE you they don't come loaded with that much meat.

Maybe it's just me, but it seems like "mini" is code word for "small" and "rip-off."

It all reminds me of that tiny cell phone Will Ferrell skit from SNL.

How small is small enough?

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Love My Little Cousins

Since school's basically out (I only have one more final and a presentation next week) I decided a day trip to Houston to see my little cousins would be fun!

So I sprung myself upon them, and luckily everyone was able to make it to dinner at Texas Roadhouse (delicious).
Ruthie, my birthday buddy, and Ki.

Rachael, Isaiah, and Aunt Jane.

Jena!

Rachael being too cool for pictures.

I had a great time seeing everybody... I wish I would have gotten a picture WITH all of you!

Congrats to cousin Jana for getting a job before she even graduated!

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Christmas Party in the USA

Watch my latest video for RuckitUp.com featuring footage from my first Christmas party of the year!

My eccentric friend Allison, Hannah Montana, and my big ego are all there!

Enjoy.

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Faith and Positivity in Tough Times

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CLICK HERE to watch a video from Matt Chandler, the pastor at The Village Church in Dallas a day before surgery to remove a brain tumor. Matt only found out about the tumor a little more than a week ago on Thanksgiving, yet still is full of hope.

Great message!


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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I called the Nick Jonas solo act a long time ago... The Administration goes on tour

The most talented Jonas Brother, Nick announced yesterday via his newly established Twitter account, @nickjonas that he and his band, "The Administration" would be embarking on a mini US tour this January promoting Nick Jonas and the Administration's first CD, "Who I Am."

While this may leave some Jonas Brothers fans shocked and confused, I'd just like to point out that I called this Jonas breakaway last July, via my Twitter account (@adamrucker):It didn't take a genius (though I often consider myself to be one) to see this coming. The signs were all there: Kevin getting engaged, Joe not being very good anyway, and Nick clearly taking center stage on the Jonas Brothers World Tour this summer.

The tour will cover 14 cities in the US and begins January 2 in Dallas.

January 2 Dallas, TX House of Blues - On sale 12/5 at 10 AM
January 4 Nashville, TN Ryman Auditorium - On sale 12/5 at 10 AM
January 6 Washington, DC Warner Theater - On sale 12/5 at 10 AM
January 7 New York, NY Beacon Theater - On sale 12/5 at 11 AM
January 9 Philadelphia, PA Tower Theater - On sale 12/12 at 10 AM
January 12 Boston, MA Orpheum Theater - On sale 12/12 at 10 AM
January 16 Detroit, MI Fox Theater - On sale 12/12 at 10 AM
January 17 Chicago, IL Rosemont Theater - On sale 12/5 at 12 PM
January 19 St. Louis, MO The Pageant - On sale 12/12 at 11 AM
January 20 Milwaukee, WI Eagles Ballroom - On sale 12/12 at 10 AM
January 21 Minneapolis, MN State Theater - On sale 12/11 at 12 PM
January 23 Denver, CO Paramount Theatre - On sale 12/12 at 10 AM
January 26 Los Angeles, CA The Wiltern - On sale 12/12 at 10 AM
January 30 Berkeley, CA Zellerbach Auditorium - On sale 12/12 at 12 PM

Ticket presale begins today (Dec. 1) for fan club members and are on sale to the general public this Saturday (Dec. 5).

Watch a video wrapup of the entire kickoff show of the Jonas Brothers World Tour this summer at the Dallas Cowboys Stadium:

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Monday, November 9, 2009

Is 22 too old to get into Legos?!

Growing up, I never was able to wrap my head around the idea of Legos. Getting a new toy for your birthday that you then had to spend hours putting together was never that appealing to me.

Heck, the one time I did get a small Lego set (it was a tiny ambulance), I attempted to put it together, and after 5 minutes of low-effort trying, I asked my friend David to put it together for me.

My parents were not so proud.

But now that I've gotten older and gained a little more patience, I think I'm ready now to take on Legos. And now that Lego has these rockin' cool stores everywhere, I get excited just thinking about the prospect of getting a Lego set and actually putting the whole thing together.

I mean look at this awesome PIRATE SHIP!!And the accompanying "Loot Island."COOL!!

So the question is: is 22 years old TOO OLD to be getting STARTED with Legos?

I appreciate your input.

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I was on ABC's World News! Whaaat?

So last week I was surprised to find out via friends and family that a short clip from one of my YouTube videos had been featured on ABC's World News with Charles Gibson during a story about the popular Texas gas station, Buc-ee's.

Check out the video from ABC News HERE! (My clip is toward the end)

And watch the original YouTube video below...

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Sunday, November 1, 2009

I actually feel bad for Ashlee Simpson

It's quite a rare position that I currently find myself in: feeling bad for one Mrs. Ashlee Simpson Wentz.

Though I do not follow her on Twitter, I wanted to see what she was up to after being canned from her new CW show, Melrose Place, so I headed over to her Twitter page.

And what did I find but her last tweet written on October 20 saying, "On set with Heather Locklear and Brooke Burns- these ladies are freakin awesome- such a fun day!"And 2 days later she was fired. (Also canned was co-star Colin Egglesfield.)

Oops.

What makes it even greater is that rumor has it that a huge part of the reason she was fired was because her new, and much more experienced, co-star Heather Locklear couldn't stand her and demanded her gone.

I don't even watch the show. But I did see the first episode and kinda couldn't believe she got the job in the first place so I can't say I'm surprised.

Look, I don't get joy out of the fact that she was fired. In fact, I find it kinda sad. Being as famous as she is and not tweeting for this long is a huge sign of defeat in this day and age.

So she better get on it before she loses everything.

Not that there's much to save...

Related Story: The Audio Animatronic Ashlee Simpson Appears on Jimmy Fallon

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Balloon Boy: Another Triumph for Journalism

Journalism claims another trophy today with its fantastic reporting of the now falsely-proven "Balloon Boy" story, where a 6-year-old boy in Colorado supposedly floated into the clouds above Colorado after climbing into and untying a homemade balloon from his back yard.

The story instantly dominated all American news coverage while we all watched in horror as the balloon flew across the sky and eventually landed in a field, but what's the best part?

Balloon Boy was never actually IN the balloon.

Nope, Balloon Boy was found later in his own HOME. Yep.

So Journalism: you got got. Again.

Now, granted, you took information you received from authorities and relayed that to us, but the only problem with that is: it was WRONG. Factually incorrect. And it is your responsibility, as the public's watchdog, to report only the facts.

There were no "allegedly"s or "reportedly"s. That boy was IN that balloon, and I bought it.

Not cool.

Next time a story comes in that sounds like a plot from the most recent Disney-Pixar movie, maybe you should do some followup before you get the American public in an unnecessary tizzy.

The good news is I think I've got a great Halloween costume idea!

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Crazy Cool Coca Cola Freestyle

Have yall seen the newest development in soda fountaintry from Coke?!

This Coca-Cola Freestyle soda fountain provides consumers with more than 100 choices for drinks in one small space. I don't understand how it works, but it's pretty freaking cool.

Can't wait to see this in real life.


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Friday, October 9, 2009

Obama to win slew of Oscars and Grammys

After the recent announcement by the Nobel Committee that U.S. president Barack Obama would be receiving this year's prize for peace, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences have announced that they will follow suit in honoring the beloved president.

"Now that we realized we can give the president awards without him having really done much for them, we thought it would be nice to treat him to a few to say 'doin' good, buddy!'" Tom Sherak, the current president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said.

There is no word yet on which awards the academies will be awarding Obama, though Neil Portnow, the president of the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences has a few ideas up his sleeve.

"I would like to see a win certainly for best children's album because he is so good with kids and possibly, well, no, definitely a win for album of the year cuz even though he hasn't produced any music as of yet, we're sure that if he did decide to put together a CD it would be freakin' awesome," Portnow said.

Though the Oscars and the Grammy award ceremonies will not take place until 2010, both presidents have said they are open to "just giving him the trophies now anyway."

No word yet on whether MTV will incorporate Obama into its VMA or MTV Movie Awards in 2010 as well, though it is rumored that VH1 is already courting the president for next year's DIVAS special.

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© Adam Rucker 2009

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Is Flash Forward the new LOST?

Probably.
The new ABC sci-fi drama opened with a close up of our main character Mark Benford (played by Joseph Fiennes) waking up amongst a ginormous disaster scene reminiscent of the opening on LOST featuring Matthew Fox waking to find the disaster following the crash of Oceanic flight 815.Mark finds a chaotic scene in downtown Los Angeles following a crazy event that caused everyone in the entire world to black out and "flash forward," seeing their lives 6 months into the future.

In this first episode we see glimpses of Mark's flash forward, and we will, presumably see glimpses of the other characters' flashes on future episodes, stretching the mystery throughout the season.

So let's go over just a few of the obvious similarities between Flash Forward and LOST:

Mysterious wide scale disaster? Check.
Outlaws on the run? Check.
Beautiful cast? Check.
References to Oceanic Airlines? Check.
Random animals where they don't belong? Check.
Flashes (forward or backward)? Check. Check.
Plot full of literally THOUSANDS of mysteries? Check. Check. Check.

The similarities between the two shows were almost so obvious that it was ridiculous. I mean, a kangaroo hopping through the streets of LA? Can anybody say POLAR BEAR?!

Almost as random as the kangaroo were guest appearances by Family Guy creator and star, Seth MacFarlane and the Famous Jett Jackson, but you know, whatever works.

Flash Forward has the perfect opportunity to establish itself as the new mystery drama once LOST disappears after its final season next spring. Not that anything can ever fully replace what I believe to be the best drama TV show ever, but there's nothing wrong with having a 2nd best.
I have high hopes for Flash Forward, especially considering it will soon feature LOST (and Lord of the Rings) veteran Dominic Monaghan and already includes Desmond's girlfriend Penny (Sonya Walger).

I'm excited for the amazingness that is yet to come!

PS it looks AMAZING in HD, but what doesn't?

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Gluten Free is the Way to Be! (But only if you have to)

So it's been a little more than a week now since I found out that I'm allergic to basically the entire world of food (wheat, gluten, cheese, milk...), and so far it isn't so bad. (Check out my allergy announcement below.)I already feel better after cutting out most of those foods that I was found allergic to. There is, of course, the negative result of me finding out how much I truly love all those wheat-containing products like bread, tortillas, anything that's breaded and fried, etc. It's that whole "don't know what you've got till it's gone" thing.
A conversation about frosted animal crackers that two girls were having next to me in the library just about sent me over the edge, and visions of a hot-off-the-stove grilled cheese sandwich frequently dance through my dreams, causing a wave of disappointment when I awake.
I'm finding refuge in many potato products like chips and french fries (unfortunately I'm also allergic to corn, which knocks out all of my favorite tortilla chips), but one can only eat french fries for so long before they *gasp* get sick of them.

So I turn to you, blog-reading, gluten-free public. Got any ideas for me? What do you eat? Where do you eat?

I found that Pei Wei has a gluten-free spicy chicken meal option, which just about makes my life (I've had it twice already in the past week).

I'd love your ideas and suggestions!

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