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Roger Ebert April 8, 2010

Posted by huymix in Celebrity, Movies.
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Whenever I read movie reviews, I make sure to check out what Roger Ebert has written. While I would say I do not always share his viewpoint on any particular movie I can say that I feel comfortable with his reviews because:

  • He takes the movie for what it is. So, if it’s a silly action summer blockbuster or if it’s high-minded or if it’s a kid’s movie he treats the audience differently. By differently, he is more forgiving of story problems in a summer blockbuster and kid’s movies than in an Oscar nominee.
  • The tone of his writing is written such that I feel it is very much his personal perspective.
  • He is at a point in his life where his opinion is pretty well his own and I don’t feel like he get’s affected by hype. Maybe I’m wrong but at least I can’t tell whether he’s affected by hype.

Roger Ebert has gotten to a point in his career that any professional (or unprofessional SnuhZone blogger) reviewer would love to have. He’s done it largely due to building a long-standing trust with his audience and, in my opinion, continues to have his audience for the above reasons.

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Michael Jackson – This is It February 11, 2010

Posted by huymix in Celebrity, Movies, Music.
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As I have said before, Michael Jackson is my favourite artist of all time. That includes any group, band, composer and solo artist. I’m sure you are well aware of his death and the concerts that could have been in the O2 in London. I think that even if you have strayed away from MJ since the 90’s, you should still watch “This Is It” because:

  • The documentary brings the reasons why you liked him in the 90’s, 80’s, and 70’s back. I don’t mean he’s going retro, rather, the documentary reminds you why he captured the world so well. The music, dancing, work ethic and in particular, the ambition all are brought to the centre stage. He never lost his touch and in “This Is It”, you will be reminded that he was one of the greatest performers ever.
  • Thinking back on the film, I realize that I felt that they were able to put me in the concerts that never were as best as possible. I am a firm believer that if he was able to do at least 1 show, it would have been the best concert ever. Since I never had a ticket and the show never happened, “This Is It” did an excellent job of delivering the concert experience.
  • It’s just good to see Michael Jackson without all the craziness around him. Generally, you would have seen him in the media swarmed by paparazzi, fans and reporters. In the movie, you see him at work in a much more natural, comfortable environment. His personality, drive and ambition shine in these scenes.

For some twisted reason, I think “This Is It” is actually more interesting because Michael Jackson died. I don’t mean it is good he died but rather I feel like otherwise the film would have been just a competent filming of the concert. While the concert itself would have been amazing, the story and interest in “This Is It” as a movie would have been nearly zero. “This Is It” is the most stark example of situational irony I could ever think of and served as a fitting tribute to the greatest entertainer ever.

Brian Burke February 9, 2010

Posted by huymix in Celebrity, Sports.
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Brian Burke is the General Manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs and was previously the GM of the Stanley Cup Champions Anaheim Ducks a couple of years back. While his hockey moves can be controversial, there has been much made of him since his arrival midway last season. I do not believe Brian Burke is the man to turn the Toronto Maple Leafs around and is actually bad for the organization because:

  • His previous success is way overstated. Burke has been the GM of 1 Stanley Cup team. Unfortunately, not a lot of credit can really be turned his way because many of the key players were in place before he even arrived. He did bring in some key guys as well but most of the heavy lifting (ie. smart drafting of prospects) was done already. When he did GM for Vancouver for 6 years he never reached the finals. His overconfidence can definitely turn him into a JP Riccardi where he thinks he knows what’s best going forward because of some previous success.
  • Overstating his optimism to the fans. It’s funny to think before the season began what he said considering the Leafs 29th position in the league. Seriously, the team was only different in goaltending and some 3rd and 4th liners. The main exception was Kessel who is still a major unknown since the Leafs had no Marc Savard equivalent for him.
  • Unwilling to rebuild through the draft. Leaf fans are loyal enough that they can definitely afford to have a few bad seasons with the rebuilding process in place. Building through the draft is a tried and true method of sustaining success. Some of the best teams have done it this way: Penguins, Red Wings, Blackhawks and Boston. Some teams build through the draft poorly for sure (Atlanta and Edmonton) but those are more a reflection of the management and ownership rather than the method of building through the draft. Very few teams succeed long-term by trading many draft picks away.

Brian Burke’s individual moves will be scrutinized by the Toronto media rabidly and thoroughly. Deals are always done with significant uncertainty and there is no way of removing the uncertainty, you can only manage it. If you are a Leaf fan, I wish you good luck, for a Sens fan like me, I’ll just sit back and watch the ongoing Gong show that is Brian Burke and the Toronto Maple Leafs.

John Hodgman February 4, 2010

Posted by huymix in Celebrity, Comedy.
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Also known as PC, John Hodgman is a hilarious man. Why? Here’s why:

  • Today in the Past podcast. Daily “facts” about the past.
  • His spots on the Daily Show are always full of “truth”
  • A brief digression at the TED conference. This is what won me over and really put John Hodgman as one of the funniest comedians out there right now.

Somehow, John Hodgman never fails to make me laugh. Smart, sharp and sly comedy at its best.

Gordan Ramsay August 4, 2009

Posted by huymix in Celebrity, Food, Television.
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Gordon RamsayfplusHell's KitchenGordon Ramsay has been around for quite a while and I suppose he’s best known in North America for his reality television show “Hell’s Kitchen”. While the show has its moments, it’s not my type of t.v. show. What I’m really impressed with is Gordon Ramsay. Here’s why:

  • Professional. Part of being a professional is being on top of your field. Once you start losing touch with the changes in the field, you stop being professional. Gordon Ramsay is professional and demands professional level of work from everyone.
  • Cares about value-for-money. While his restaurants serve expensive food, he does care about the value for money being delivered to customers. This is particularly the case on his show “Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares”. I also think its a bit of an English thing since I heard that term way more on the BBC than I ever hear on Canadian television.
  • Focus’ on food. He knows his food and seems incredibly enthusiastic about food.

A lot of this is conjecture since I’ve never met the man. While I can never definitively say this is how Gordon Ramsay is, I can say the above is what I associate him with. Even if its a false association, its not necessarily a bad thing. My advice is if your watching his show(s) keep the above in mind and you’ll possibly be able to look past all the cursing and appreciate what he stands for.

Michael Jackson July 16, 2009

Posted by huymix in Celebrity, Music.
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Michael JacksonfplusMichael Jackson Thriller

Make no mistake, Michael Jackson was an exceptional person. He is the most famous person in the last 30 years. In general, I prefer to not speculate on the personal lives of other people. Someone who lived such a unique professional life, probably also had a unique personal life. The smallest islands across the world know Michael Jackson and they know him, not for his personal drama, but for his music and message. Michael Jackson as an artist is an F+ because:

  • His music stood out. Nobody will confuse, Thriller, Bad, Beat It, Billie Jean, Smooth Criminal, etc. with another artist. I always believe that the hardest thing in music is to do something unique and stand out. Michael Jackson’s music always stood out. Forget the haters, I have and listen to “Invincible” even to this day!
  • Technology. Not that MJ ever invented any non-dance related stuff but what was awesome was how he embraced technology so willingly. Going beyond the music videos, he embraced video games way earlier than Guitar Hero or Rock Band were around (Space Channel 5). The willingness to embrace technology so readily and to use it to enhance his art only made MJ’s music/videos more unique.
  • His music strongly defined my childhood. To the point that the episode of “The Simpsons” where he was a major character is still one of my favourite Simpsons episodes (Side note: he sung a modified version of “Ben” and because of that episode, “Ben” is in my top 5 MJ songs).

In the words of Dave Chappelle, “he did Thriller, Thriller”.  If you haven’t listened to him in a while I hope you go back and give his library a listen or watch Thriller or try to Moonwalk.

Star Trek: Crarence’s Review May 20, 2009

Posted by crarence in Celebrity, Movies, Shows.
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star-trek-movie-dockstpreqcomiclogo

Just came back from watching Star Trek, and I had a great time. Even if you aren’t a Star Trek fan, I predict you’d have alot of fun watching it as well. The visuals are great with the right mix of clean and gritty, and they pay respect to the original series without looking silly.

  • All the characters were done really well and get a fair amount of screen time. I’m particularly impressed by Zoe Saldana, as she really brought Uhura to life.
  • There are a lot of inside jokes and homages for Star Trek fans (Kobayashi Maru, red shirts on away missions, wriggly brain worms, exotic green women, and lots of catch phrases.)
  • Rather than simply being a prequel, the movie goes far beyond this scope by…well, I don’t want to ruin it for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet. Suffice to say, I’m on the edge of my seat for the sequels.

If you haven’t seen it yet, do not wait and get out there now to check it out. In a summer of blockbusters, this one is going to stand out.

Bret “Hitman” Hart DVD April 21, 2009

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Bret Hitman Hart DVDfplusBret Hitman Hart Logo

The child in me still has a soft spot for Bret “Hitman” Hart. I always used to say The Hitman, which was wrong, so I suppose I wasn’t exactly the excellence of executing listening. This DVD set has been out for a while, but I pulled it out and re-watched it for the following reasons:

  • Has some of my favourite matches of all time on it. Davey Boy Smith “The British Bulldog” at Wembley, Owen Hart at Wrestlemania X and against Mr. Perfect. Mr. Perfect was so awesome, the wrestling world was never the same without him.
  • The documentary film on disc 1 is pretty candid about everything. You can tell he still doesn’t really like Vince or Shawn.
  • It’s Bret Hart. For non-hockey fans (I didn’t follow hockey as a kid), he was like Captain Canada. He was the proud Canadian and like I said, I’ll always have a place in my childhood for Bret Hart.

Bottom line, if you watched wrestling during the 90’s chances are you were a Bret Hart fan at some point. Even if you weren’t a wrestling fan, you will at least be watching one of the best of the era. Bonus points for no Doink the Clown!

Jerry Seinfeld live at Massey Hall April 18, 2009

Posted by crarence in Celebrity, Comedy, Shows.
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Today I had the chance to see iconic comedian Jerry Seinfeld perform live at Massey Hall. I didn’t follow a lot of TV series back in the day but I was an avid fan of Seinfeld. I was curious to see that kind of material he would perform – would it be more observational humour, or a totally new side of Seinfeld I had never seen. I had heard that he does an exceptional amount of swearing during his routine, so I really wasn’t sure what to expect.

First, I want to quickly praise Tom Papa for his opening act. As opening acts go, he did his job flawlessly – he got us laughing and in the mood in about 30 seconds flat. I had never really heard about him before but I am curious to see what he does in the future.

Comparatively, Jerry got the ball rolling a little more slowly. Unsurprisingly, all his jokes were based on everyday observations. However, all his jokes were fresh and new, so the entire audience was rapt with attention. A few of the topics that he covered was doing things to seem like you have a life, the haughtiness of big name coffee drinkers, the impersonal nature of e-mail, relationships, parenting, and the mad obsession with the i-phone/blackberry.

I’ve seen Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle,  and Russell Peters live, and I probably laughed out loud  the least during Seinfeld’s performance. That isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoy his jokes – there were many times I found myself smiling and nodding along, muttering “that’s soooo true.” However, Jerry takes way less risks then the above comedians, which tends to give his performance a more PG family-friendly feel. At the end, for his “encore,” he actually had a small Q&A with the audience. Naturally, someone asked him about Michael Richards, and Jerry cooly gave some non-committal answers. Overall, the show was very entertaining, and it was good to see Jerry work his skills and charm live in person.

P.S: I will share my favorite joke of the night. What is with the doors in the public bathroom? They are the cheapest, crappiest doors out there, and yet they still can’t put the effort in lowering it by a foot to hit the ground. It is the most embarrassing thing when you walk by and see the shoes and the puddled pants sitting on the floor – the worst is when it’s at the office and you recognize whose shoes’ it is. And why can’t the doors close snugly against the wall? Why is there always a crack? Sometimes if you’re unlucky you catch a glimpse in the crack and see the terrified person sitting miserably on the toilet.

This was one of the few moments that I was actually laugh out loud during his act. This is also why I avoid using public bathroom stalls like the black plague.

Modern Action Stars April 18, 2009

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Jason Statham picfminusAction Actors

There was a time when action star was a pretty convincing bad ass. Not only that, but the movies they starred in were classics. I’m not even talking that long ago. Guys like Stallone (Rocky, Rambo and Cobra), Schwartzenegger (Terminator, Kindergarden Cop and True Lies) and Bruce Willis (Die Hard series). I guess these guys fitted the mold of what the public at the time thought was cool. These guys are too old now and the ones that stepped up since 2000 have been disappointing so much so that they as a category deserve an F-. I’m looking at you:

  • Vin Diesel! You were very cool in Pitch Black…now look at you, reduced to coming back to Fast and Furious since you can’t make any other movie. Sorry Knockaround Guys and A Man Apart weren’t good movies. It’s sad to say, but I think people want to see him in a sequel to the Pacifier more than him in an action flick.
  • Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson! Not bad in The Rundown now what though? Doom? Escape to Witch Mountain?
  • Jason Statham! Lock, Stock was awesome and Snatch was fun, but c’mon, a sequel to Crank and 2 sequels for Transporter?

All these guys were hyped up to be the next big action star. All of them have really failed to recapture the glory of Stallone, Schwartzenneger or Willis. Sad to think that these guys were the best Hollywood could offer. Makes you wonder who they rejected.