Back from break!

Oh boy what a break I took, sorry about that…

To make it up to everyone, I shall direct you to a giveaway!  My business is sending the winner a set of samples of massage lotions and creams – also great for use as regular moisturizers!

Swing by our Facebook page for up to two chances to win the set by clicking this link:  http://tinyurl.com/mv6438o

Easy to do, and good chances of winning!  Runs until May 2nd!

Product Review: Zombies, Run app

Whoops, it appears I have been distracted by life and whatnots and haven’t updated in quite a while.  But I do have something awfully neat to share for those who enjoy running, or even those who hate running but still push themselves to at least WALK.

ZR1I recently discovered Zombies, Run! (technically Zombies, Run! 2) which is a fitness app that works on both iPhones and Androids.  It’s been around for a while, but it costs money to download and I am so cheap when it comes to buying apps.  After reading a lot of reviews, I decided to give it a shot.

Medical_antibiotics

Just one of the items you can bring back to Abel Township.

The basic idea is that you download these “seasons”.  Season One includes 23 “missions”, the first of which establishes the world you are entering.  There has been a zombie outbreak, and you are on your way to a fortified town called Abel Township.  You are labeled “Runner 5″, and become an important person to the town.  Characters speak to you through your earpieces, telling you what they see, or explaining what they need you to do.  Along the way, you may “pick up” items that will help you.  Each mission unveils more of the overall storyline, introduces more characters, or adds to the scenery.

cartoonheroes

Yep, RUN FASTER!

All the while you are listening to this, the app is tracking your time, pace, and even mapping the route you are taking (if you are an outdoor walker/runner, make sure to have your GPS on, or you can use the Accelerometer to count your steps if you use a treadmill).  The app can be set to 30 or 60 minute sessions, and you can have it play songs from a specified playlist to keep you entertained between the story.  Additionally, if you download their Radio Mode, you can continue running for a while and listen to two guys chattering away in between songs.  If you’re an outdoor person and have the GPS on, you can even elect to have zombies randomly chase you…  if this happens, you must increase your pace (kick it into high gear!) in order to outrun them.  It’s a fun option that keeps you on your toes, makes you sprint for a little bit, and adds a sense of panic.

For Season 1, Mission 1 (S1-M1), I did not have music playing in between the storyline, which was fine.  I really wanted to see how the app worked without much distraction.  I went for a fast walk in my neighborhood, but kept having trouble outrunning the zombies when chased.  Part of it was that I hadn’t figured out how the program calculated your pace increase, and part of it was because my neighborhood is very hilly and I was ready to fall over and die if I had to sprint up a steep hill.  Since then, I have figured out what to do, but have mostly stayed inside and ran on my treadmill which doesn’t offer the zombie chase option.

ZombiesRunPhotoAnton

I know what I am going to be for Halloween this year!

I am now about halfway through Season One and can say that I would pay double…TRIPLE what I paid for this app without hesitation.  In 11 days, I have increased my runs from a half hour to a full hour, and improved my pace by over 2 minutes per mile!  I am so confident in my stamina that I have taken the leap to sign up for my first 5K, taking place in just about 2 weeks!

And the story…  it’s hard not to get sucked in.  Even on the treadmill, I may glance to the side before I can catch myself when a character warns me of zombies coming at me.  And I’m not ashamed to admit I have emotionally reacted to some of the story, particularly S1-M9 and S1-M11.  Every day, I wake up sore and tired, but I still get on the treadmill because I want to hear more of the story.

So if you’re in the market for something to keep you entertained while you walk, jog or run, I highly recommend checking out this app.  :)

Hello, Hello Giggles!

I was so honored that Hello Giggles chose to run an article I wrote, so if you are stumbling here through that article, then GREETINGS! I’m so pleased that you clicked through to check out some more!

This is my “whatever I find interesting right now” site, some of it may bore you, some of it may thrill you, some of it may be way too weird for you. My business is Wellspring Trading, a company that deals in massage therapy products and all natural oils (great to add to daily beauty routines as a moisturizer or hair shine!), so please check it out if you have the chance!

Thanks for surfing by :)

-Carry

HAPPENING RIGHT NOW! The corpse flower is IN BLOOM.

EDIT:  The bloom is off that…rose?  Corpse flower has decayed, but what a neat time I had going back and seeing its progression.  Here is a link to the timelapse!

 

The corpse flower doesn’t bloom every year, in fact it can take DECADES for the temperature and humidity to be right. Washington DC has one blooming RIGHT NOW, and it will only last 24-48 hours. Check out the feed now while you can!

Streaming by Ustream

Coordination!

Movie Review: Man of Steel

mosLet me start by saying I was born in the 70s, which means – in terms of Doctor Who – Christopher Reeve was my Superman.  Other versions have been fine, I really have no quarrel with any of them, but Reeve is still near and dear to my heart.  I didn’t even mind Superman ReturnsBrandon Routh did a decent job and hey, Kevin Spacey was in it being awesome.

So I go into Man of Steel thinking I’ll be entertained for the 2+ hours, but that was about it. Holy crow was I wrong.  Mild spoilers ahead if you have lived under a rock and have absolutely no idea what the Superman story is at all.

rcroweYou almost immediately get the story of Krypton, which moves at a pretty fast pace towards destruction.  Russell Crowe as JorEl?  Kick.  ASS.  He’s not just an intellectual like the earlier movies suggest, he can hold his own in a fight too.

ShannonZodMichael Shannon plays General Zod, and his portrayal is fantastic.  Determined to save Kryptonians the only way he knows how (by killing Kryptonians?), he ends up banished to the Phantom Zone only to be reawakened when Kryton imploded (and then exploded.  It was a pretty epic destruction).  Rather than Terence Stamp’s evil, mustache twirling portrayal of Zod (don’t get me wrong, he was awesome), Shannon actually gets you to feel sympathy for him.  Just before you want Supes to kill him.

maandpaKevin Costner and Diane Lane play Jonathan and Martha Kent, both excellent casting choices.  I was wary of Costner, but I thought he did a great job doing his best to help his adopted son navigate his moral dilemmas, and both actors were more appropriate ages to play the roles.  Earlier versions always seems to be closer to grandparent ages to me.

Amy Adams was an interesting choice for Lois Lane.  Gone is the typical raven-haired Lois, but her grit and determination keep the character familiar.  Like Margot Kidder, she exudes confidence and gets the information she’s after, gets herself in trouble, but never acts the damsel in distress.

la_ca_0422_man_of_steelLaurence Fishburne rounds out the big names as Perry White.  His role is not groundbreaking, but Fishburne’s name brings it more respect and it’s always a pleasure to watch him on screen.

Of course Henry Cavill takes the title role of Clark Kent/Superman, along with a couple of younger actors for the younger versions of Clark.  Both kids pulled off their roles perfectly, conveying the internal struggles of a child who can’t fathom why he’s so different from others, and doing his best to calm his frustrations.  Cavill portrayed a rather zen Clark Kent, having over the years obviously perfected the act of turning the other cheek in the face of aggression.  It is not until General Zod threatens his adopted homeworld that he really focuses on what’s important to him.

cavillMost of the movie is a simple re-telling of the Superman origin, with a few differences.  The movie establishes that the atmosphere between Krypton and Earth are different enough to be physically demanding, requiring Lois to wear breathing apparatus on Zod’s ship, and causing Zod incredible pain when exposed on Earth.  Yes, JorEl still speaks to Clark Kent to teach him about Krypton, but he comes across as more sentient and interactive.  In fact, it is through JorEl that Lois Lane learns how Superman can defeat Zod and his group, and acts as a Kryptonian Jedi in helping her escape from Zod’s ship.  Lois also knows him as Clark Kent and Superman – she is a smart woman, a pair of glasses certainly would never fool her.

I miss my Christopher Reeve, but in all honesty, this movie was incredible to watch.  There is also one specific point in the movie where I could swear they worked a little CGI magic and made Cavill’s facial features to look like Reeve, so much so that I actually teared up.  The action was thrilling, the struggles felt real.  I can’t wait to own whatever special edition comes out so I can absorb more of the behind the scenes details.  Five bright yellow suns for this movie.  ENJOY!

 

EDIT:  My husband found this article which backs up my claim to have seen a CGI glimpse of Christopher Reeve – at the time I wrote this review, I could not find a screenshot of the part where I saw him, but this article shows some of it…

Movie Review: Fast & Furious 6

FF6mpIt’s all empty calories, but yeah, I find the Fast & Furious series to be very entertaining.  For a movie or two there it looked like they were just going to crank out vaguely similar movies based on overclocked cars and skinny, barely-clothed women, but over time they’ve woven a bit of an interlocking story together, which continues in Fast & Furious 6.

They’ve brought the majority of the cast from Fast 5 back, and began the story watching how the characters each were spending their share of a $100 million heist they pulled off.  Here’s where the story comes right out and begins with the ridiculous.  You assume that each character was given about $11 million, and yet, a couple characters are acting like they got all $100 million.  Spending as quickly as they were, they should have run out of money about a month and a half in.  BUT this is F&F, so let’s put a pin in that one and move on…

In walks Dwayne Johnson’s muscles, followed a week later by Dwayne Johnson, reprising his role of CIA Hulk imitator Luke Hobbs, who delivers the news that a former member of the group, Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) long though dead is actually still alive.  He tempts these former criminals into helping him take down a criminal mastermind (Owen Shaw, played by Luke Evans) who appears to have taken Letty under his wing.  Dom (Vin Diesel) is more than eager to get to Letty, and of course Brian (Paul Walker) and Mia (Jordana Brewster) are there to help him, provided they are all given full pardons for prior crimes.

My daughter thinks it's hilarious how Han always has to be eating something.

My daughter thinks it’s hilarious how Han always has to be eating something.

So they reassemble the team, bringing in Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Han (Sung Kang), Gisele (Gal Gadot), and Tej (Ludacris).  They left out a couple of previous players, but for this installment, we’ll just assume they are sipping drinks somewhere warm and sunny.  Gibson’s chemistry with Kang, Ludacris and Johnson all bring a perfect amount of humor to the film, while Gadot and Kang continue to drop hints as to the story behind F&F3: Tokyo Drift (which is supposed to take place sometime AFTER this movie… yes, a little confusing).  And the party starts.

flying

WHEEEEEE! And there’s no way I will be killed doing this! Seriously!

From completely unrealistic chases, crashes, mid air 90MPH catches, and fist-fights, this movie is full of all kinds of ridiculousness, but you really don’t care.  As long as you put your brain on MST3K mode and just accept the ridiculousness, it’s a bunch of fun.  The villain is so stereotypical that he even has a pencil-thin mustache I was waiting for him to try twirling.

The one thing, oddly enough, that I just COULD NOT get past…  The final action scene.  I had accepted people flying through the air and receiving naught but perhaps a scrape or bruise.  I had accepted a totally hellacious girlfight that should have resulted in several broken ribs as best, broken backs and death from blunt force trauma at worst but again resulted in perhaps a scrape and bruise.  I had totally accepted complete decimation of hundreds of vehicles, many of which our heroes were in when they were decimated and SHOULD have resulted in mangling them to bloody pulps, but again produced only a scrape or bruise.  But the end scene involved a very large cargo plane attempting to take off and of course our team is chasing it down with their awesome cars, using crazy weapons and whatnot.  FOREVER.  I said at one point… HOW LONG IS THIS FREAKIN RUNWAY???

Apparently someone else had the same question I did.  And created this:

runway

Yes, after everything I saw in those two hours.  THAT is what bothered me the most.

But it’s all in fun.  Can’t wait until #7!

Movie Review: Star Trek Into Darkness

star-trek-2OH.  MY.

Before I dive right into this review, let me promise that I will not reveal any spoilers – even though I know Yahoo and Entertainment already let the cat out of the bag (YOU GUYS SUCK).  I will assume that anyone who reads this has seen the previous Star Trek movie (if not, feel free to surf away now if you plan to see it and prefer to go in fresh).  That said, let’s roll…

Much like Indiana Jones being pursued by natives after having stolen the golden idol, Star Trek Into Darkness opens with Kirk (Chris Pine) and Bones (Carl Urban) running away from a group of indigenous people who are on their tails after having stolen a sacred item of theirs.  While this is happening, Spock (Zachary Quinto) is getting himself all hot and bothered inside the nearby volcano that is ready to blow and wipe out the inhabitants unless they do something about it.  This scene taps so many plot points for Star Trek in general, I was surprised how much they hit: Prime Directives, moral dilemmas, romance, bromance, dealing with impending doom.

Here's Benedict, just stealing the movie.  No big.

Here’s Benedict, just stealing the movie. No big.

Back in London, a Starfleet officer (played by Noel Clarke, aka Mickey from Doctor Who) and his wife visit a hospital where their daughter is clearly dying.  Seizing on their desperation, John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch) convinces the officer he can save her life.  In exchange for a transfusion of Harrison’s blood, the officer must sabotage a Starfleet facility.  The officer does so, but sends a message to Admiral Marcus (Peter Weller) confessing what he has done just before carrying out Harrison’s plan.

This sets the movie into faster motion and boy does it MOVE.  I was never bored or wondering how long the movie was.  The movie found a great balance between the heavier, dramatic exchanges and action sequences.  Visual effects were stunning, but rarely seemed overdone.

The ORIGINAL bromance.

The ORIGINAL bromance.

The relationship between Kirk and Spock continued to grow significantly in this film, almost to the detriment of Bones.  Unlike the original series, there was little to none of Bones getting on Spock’s case about being an overly-logical Vulcan.  To be honest, if the reason for the animosity between them was made known in TOS, I overlooked it (I’m not a TOS expert), but I don’t think that element was missed much in this movie.  To be fair, Zachary Quinto was given a lot of room to flex Spock’s human side (rather than play the more stoic Vulcan) and I was in awe of it!  More than once, Spock got to kick some MAJOR ass, and more than once his emotions got the better of him.  But it still felt very much like “Spock”…  Zachary Quinto is amazing.

spockuhuraSpock’s relationship with Uhura (Zoe Saldana) continued through to this movie, which was refreshing.  So often, directors will toss out previous romantic attachments as though they had run their course so as to introduce new romances, but I was really pleased that this was not the case here.  I found their relationship very sweet and did not feel out of place in the first movie.  That’s not to say they didn’t have their bumps in the road, but their disagreements and tension felt real and understandable from both sides.

Of course Scotty (Simon Pegg), Sulu (John Cho) and Chekov (Anton Yelchin) were all back, and although they didn’t seem to get as much screen time as the others, they had their moments to shine.

But the real scene-stealer was Benedict Cumberbatch.  I don’t watch Sherlock (although I might have to start), and I knew he was voicing Smaug in the Hobbit films, but to be frank, I thought he was a little odd looking in his photographs.  And for pete’s sake who names their child “Benedict Cumberbatch”!  Sounds like you’re just setting the poor kid up for getting shoved into lockers and random wedgies.  But he totally blew me away watching him on screen.  His voice is undeniably sexy, his presence pushes well past the 2D screen, and his expressions are so emotive that you find yourself easily able to sympathize with a mass murderer.  Apparently he also does a spot-on Alan Rickman impersonation that I am dying to hear.

Was this a perfect movie?  Nope, there was a plot hole here or there, but really, that’s just getting too nitpicky.  It was a highly entertaining film, it was incredibly enjoyable to watch these talented actors do their jobs, and I can’t wait to see it again.

Movie Review: Oblivion (2013)

I’m not a fan of Tom Cruise.  Yes, he certainly got dealt the “good-looking for life” card, and he is a decent actor, but his personal antics tend to leave me rolling my eyes – or worse – creeping me out.  So I wasn’t completely on board with watching Oblivion, but Morgan Freeman trumped my distaste of Cruise.

Jack

Jack ponders the meaning of his existence very dramatically.

The first five minutes or so was Jack Harper (Cruise) explaining the history.  Bad guys came to Earth, we ended up using nukes, bad guys were defeated, but Earth was decimated.  Survivors headed to “Tet”, a way-station between Earth and Titan, the Saturn moon where humans re-settled.  Jack is teamed with Victoria to help secure the remaining machines that are draining the last of Earth’s resources (water) to be transported to Titan and they are about 2 weeks away from leaving Earth and joining everyone else.  The last of the invaders (“Skavs”) tend to put monkey-wrenches in their plans by sabotaging drones that help secure the water-suckers.

Victoria

Victoria gets the coolest computer ever. I want one!

His days are spent leaving the security of his home to patch up the drones while Victoria keeps an eye on things from the home office, assisted by mission control from the Tet.  While out on patrol or patching up drones, Jack finds remnants of the Earth that was, and has flashbacks to a life he’s not sure he actually lived.  In his reality, his mind was erased years before as a “security measure” so if Skavs ever captured him, he could not reveal vital information.  Of course, things begin to unravel, and Jack must figure out the truth while there’s still time.

ship

I’m not sure why it’s not windy as hell up there, but apparently Jack can stand there with no railings and feel perfectly safe.

Overall I really liked the environment, the story idea, the acting.  I loved the technology they were using (I can absolutely see this coming), the vehicles and clothing styles were different enough without leaving me feeling bludgeoned by “HEY LOOK we’re in the FUTURRRRE!!!”  My biggest problem was how the story unfolded on screen.  For instance, the initial voice-over setup of the world as it is was repeated again for a character later in the film – I thought skipping the first voice-over and just allowing us to hear it when explained later would have saved us some time.  Some reveals meant to evoke shocking surprise from the viewers fell a bit flat, while other reveals that weren’t so obvious could have been treated with a better setup for a more effective jolt.  Often I felt like things were just being drawn out unnecessarily, and I thought the 126 minute film could have been tightened up to an hour and fifty minutes without losing the story.

Even something very basic to me seemed off…  it was clear that Sally was pushing Jack and Victoria to do their jobs effectively and constantly monitored progress from the Tet.  Victoria, feeling the pressure from Sally, was the middleman who sometimes shielded her sometimes-rogue partner’s antics from the boss (coddling his interest in old Earth relics, but never allowing herself to be sucked into it) and often pushed him to stay on task.  At one point, Jack tells her he’s going to patrol in an area where the reception is bad and he’ll be radio silent.  I expected him to get away with about 10-15 minutes before Victoria or Sally start getting antsy, but where he goes it is clear he’s been there before many times, and he has enough time to take a freakin’ nap without getting much flak for it.

The action scenes sometimes fall flat as well.  I never felt much anxiety during them, never felt completely drawn in.  Often I drew parallels to other movies.  Morgan Freeman was, of course, the effective Morpheus in this story, allowing Jack to unfold the truth at his own pace, but I felt some interactions should have been heavier, weightier where others were too dramatic.

Go the the theater if you enjoy sweeping landscapes, watch it at home if you just like a decent movie on a Saturday night.  In the meantime, enjoy the trailer:

Totally Random Day

When I left my house yesterday to go to an appointment, I had no idea that the hour and a half would present itself with two very fun things.

The first occurred on my way to the appointment.  As a traveled down the highway, I looked over and saw a shark.

shark1  shark2

I don’t often see that kind of thing while driving down the highway, but for the rest of my drive I had the JAWS theme in my head and kept flashing back to the “I’m a SHAAARK!” meme.

The second fun thing was that while I was in the waiting room, I struck up a conversation with a woman named Isabella.  Isabella was an absolute character, one of those people that you would love to talk to all day long because within 15 minutes we’d become best friends.  Here’s what I learned about Ms. Isabella:

  • She’d lost her husband about 8 years ago
  • Her husband was in construction, and had worked on the Twin Towers as well as many other famous buildings all over the US
  • She had worked as a seamstress for several TV series, specifically Dallas
  • Most of the stars were very nice people and she was always happy to help them… Except Victoria Principal, who was a total snoot, so whenever Ms. Principal asked her for alterations, Ms. Isabella put her at the back of the line
  • She speaks at least three languages and is of Italian decent
  • When she asked what my background was, I mentioned my father being born in France, and my grandmother being from Belgium.  She then asked me if I spoke French, I fumbled through my best “Je ne parle Francais” which made us giggle, and made me want to pick up lessons again
  • She’s traveled all over the world and when I asked her what her favorite city was, she mentioned several, including Brussels, but seemed to be very infatuated with Paris
  • She does not visit spas very often, but we completely agree that DePasquale’s is the best around here

I love these kinds of encounters, it just totally made my day :)

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