Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The end of the year and Oughts review

It's that time of year again. The timer on the current year is expiring and the clock of the new year is about to begin ticking. Funny thing about time passing. It was just ten years ago that we were celebrating the new millennium. Many people were worried about the Y2K bug and would our world continue to function as it always has. At the same time we were looking forward to what the new millennium would have for us. Now the Oughts Decade has passed. I'm trying to avoid the debate whether this was the first decade of the new millennium or not, if the decade goes from 0 to 9 or 1 to 0 so I'll stick with the Decade of the Oughts; you know, where the first three digits were 200. In the blink of an eye ten years has come and gone, what has happened during that time. Time for reflection and planning.

I remember on December 31, 1999 watching the TV, glued to see the celebrations around the world. From Chatham Island to the Samoas, the new millennium swept across the globe. Standing on Waikiki Beach that night feet in the sand, feeling the breeze on my face and watching the fireworks both there off shore and down at Honolulu Harbor I was in debt, going through a buy out at work, and wondering if the lights would go off on the island. Luckily, the lights stayed on.

In July of Ought One, me and 60+ other employees were pulled into a meeting with the VP of Customer Care of the company who had flown in from Texas. After being bought out a bit over a year earlier they were shutting us down. Was I mad. No. I had learned that as an employee you are just like the copier paper. You are there to be used for the business to make money. I gave them my time and skills and they gave me a pay check. They had also sent me to Kansas on several occasions to work on a project for the company.

As people were leaving the call center, on Friday, September 7, I interviewed and was hired on the spot for a position with a computer training company. That was the last day the Honolulu Call Center was in operation. I started on Monday, September 10. The next day, the equivalent of this generation's Pearl Harbor happened with the attack at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. I was able to keep my position.

In Ought Four a major mile stone had been accomplished with getting out of debt. My last credit card was paid off and I started a savings account. The feeling was something that I hope more people can feel. I had to fight with the credit card company to send out a last bill showing the zero balance. I wanted proof that I had cleared my obligation to them! Since then people have poked fun at me because I did things like not have cable and for a long time I had dial up and not high speed internet access.

Technology was changing and in Ought Five I bought my first digital camera. It was exciting to come into the age of downloading photos instead of developing film. Podcasts entered my life, specifically Disney podcasts. Then it happened again. The company that I was working for was going out of business. Luckily I was hired by the training company that bought the customer list from the old training company. I worked there just three days and my first extended trip to Disneyland occurred. It was a great time taking over fifteen hundred pictures with the new camera. It was at this time I discovered that dial up wasn't going to cut it anymore. Uploading the pictures made me realize that I needed high speed internet so I signed up for DSL access.

Another first in Ought Five was my first Honolulu Marathon. I hadn't done race training so I walked it. There is a huge sense of accomplishment crossing that finish line for the first time. Just seconds under nine hours, hurting feet, chaffing, sun burn and blisters didn't diminish the feeling. It was almost as intense as the feeling of paying off the last credit card.

Ought Six brought another technology toy to me. I purchased my first video camera with my tax return and started posting videos up on YouTube. The new job had some advantages, the first was it was only four fifths of a mile from my house. When my car died I didn't worry since work was so close. It was easy enough to catch the bus or take the twenty minute walk. The second advantage was the company's international conference was taking place in Orlando. I was given the opportunity to attend. The trip allowed me to visit Walt Disney World for the first time in seventeen years. Ten days at Walt Disney World in Florida was followed up by six days at Disneyland in Anaheim. It was here that I met in person the head of the Disney Podcast Network which is a collection of Disney podcasts and a forum for discussion along with other members of the discussion boards. Friendships had been born on that trip I know will last a life time.

Meandering Mouse Club TV, my Disney podcast came about in Ought Seven as a result of an event at Disneyland, the first official DPN Westfest. I was asked by the head of the DPN to join the DPN as a video podcaster. He liked the videos that I had posted up on YouTube. The influence of the DPN helped me go to the Hong Kong and Tokyo Disneyland resorts in a single trip. I then headed back to Walt Disney World that same year with a new high definition camera. It was the year of the Disney trips. In October with all the videos of Hawaii up on YouTube I actually started the Trapped in Paradise podcast, a video podcast about Hawaii that I had been talking about for several months.

Ought Eight was the year of the social network. Plurk and Twitter were coming into their own. Facebook was taking off. I had upgraded my phone to a camera phone with data and internet access. It was amazing to start seeing people's real time updates from their daily lives or in my case their Disney trips. Work was getting tough with the downturn in the economy. There were signs happening that the company was in trouble. This year had a trip to Disneyland for the DPN Westfest event and then in October a trip to Disneyland Paris. In about eighteen months I had managed to travel to all the Disney parks around the globe. To the best of my knowledge, I was the first podcaster to travel to all the parks. Through social media, I heard of all sorts of people that I know personally or indirectly loosing their job.

The big change for Ought Nine was being laid off from my job in March. Frankly, it was all for the best. I was happy! Since I didn't have a job, I have been able to do all sorts of things including taking a creative writing class, going to all sorts events and places that before I wouldn't or couldn't do, wrote a novel and did the Honolulu Marathon for a third time. Without the restriction of working regular hours I was asked to be part of the In The Loop podcast which talks about the amusement park industry in general. Thanks to Clint and Pat for the opportunity. Being debt free and having a savings account has enabled me a level of freedom that I wish could go on forever.

Standing on the beach during the waning moments of the twentieth century, did I know that I would be participating in marathons, traveling to the global Disney parks, to personally produce video content or be part of audio content that could be consumed globally, to meet friends around the globe via the internet, write a novel, be debt free, be involuntarily shuffled between four employers like vegetable cans at the grocery store, be traveling for work to Kansas, Texas and other locations in the US or end the Oughts by writing a blog post and tweeting to friends welcoming in the new year as it passes though the different time zones? No way, not in my wildest imagination.

When the clock rolls from December 31, 2009 11:59:59 to 12:00:00 on January 1, 2010 the Oughts decade come to the end. What will future hold, who knows at this point. I do remember someone telling me, the best way to predict the future is to create it. I hope to accomplish many things. I realize that I need to set goals and not resolutions. Having strong enough goals will lead to the discipline necessary to accomplish those goals. One goal is to write a book that will be published. The other is to be self employed. With four involuntary job transitions over ten years, I want to create my future instead of leaving it to someone else, letting them dictate my future. Let it be on my shoulders, not some board of directors or other business owner.

Traveling is another option that I really want to embrace. Visiting overseas locations in Asia and Europe was so exciting! I hope to have more experiences that are just as exciting! Developing myself so that I can help others needs to be a priority. Since being laid off, I have realized that I hadn't spent time to work on myself as a person. If I don't improve myself, how can I expect to help others?

I've been so very blessed. Back in 1999, my future was bright and I didn't know it. I believe this statement from Jeremiah 29:11, "I know the thoughts I think of you says the Lord, thoughts of good and not evil, thoughts for a hope and a future". I stand on this promise. I expect 2010 and beyond to be even brighter than the Decade of the Oughts. I wish for and believe the same for you. As we say in Hawaii, Hau'oli Makahkihi Hou!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Movie Review: Avatar in IMAX 3D

So I finally did it, I broke down and paid the $15.00 to see Avatar in IMAX 3D. On the back side, Regal Theaters isn't going to get any soda money out of me for a few more shows. Although Regal claims to have IMAX, it's not the huge screen like we used to have in Waikiki or the one at the Polynesian Cultural Center. I guess could be called IMAX Lite, check out the details here. I ended up missing the first show of the day and went to the second. When I arrived 30 minutes before the movie, there was a huge line ticket line and once I headed inside, there was a big line to get into the theater. About ten minutes before the show started the theater was already so crowded that groups of people were breaking up into single seats. I haven't seen a show pack out like that in a l-o-n-g time.

Directed by James Cameron, the same guy who directed the highest grossing film of all time, Titanic; this film has been reported to cost between$300 and $500 million dollars to create. If you're going to spend that kind of money, why not make it a long one, 162 minutes running time so if you split the difference it cost about two and a half million dollars per minute. In the area of gee whiz incredible looking film, this has it. For the story, the dialogue and plot run a little long. It could have been tightened up. (Side note: As I write this James Cameron is on Jimmy Kimmel and the number of $500 million was bandied about between the two, so that would mean about $3.1 million per minute to make)

A former jar head, Jake Sulley (Sam Worthington) is brought to the planet Pandora. He's part of a plan to move the Na'vi natives to another area so that his employer can get into an area to mine for rare and very lucrative mineral. The idea is to put his conscience into an avatar, a body that is composed of the DNA material of the natives and his own. The avatar project is controlled by Dr Grace Augustine (Sigourney Weaver). Once in a body that can handle the environment, Jake can mingle with the locals. While roaming the landscape, he meets Neytiri of the Na'vi (Zoe Saldana) who teaches him about the planet. But that plan takes time and the Colonel (Stephen Lang) would just like to use firepower and might to take what they want.

The Na'vi are produced using motion capture like Robert Zemeckis did in Disney's A Christmas Carol. The result is much different since the Na'vi are humanoid but not humans. With their blue skin and extended height, it works where it didn't quite in Christmas Carol.

As you get to see Pandora, the imagery is breath taking. The types of plants, animals, and the scope of the different environs are simply amazing. The look of many of the flora and fauna remind me of vertebrae and invertebrates that you would find in the deep ocean where no light exist. They appear to have bioluminescence and at times look like the planet was splashed with those special paints and then someone turned on the black light. Ever see Michael Jackson's Billy Jean where he walks the street lights up? The Na'vi's footsteps produce the same effect on Pandora.

At times the visuals are overwhelming and that contributed to the feeling that the movie was too long. I'm not saying they were bad just that my mind spent time trying to comprehend just how massive objects and locations on Pandora really were. A couple of times I had to shut down my mind from trying to figure out "how would that be possible?" and trying to work out the physics. I had to remind myself just to accept it and Cameron did a good job not trying to get caught up in those details.

As mentioned earlier, the plot needed some help . Some times the details weren't given which was good but at other times too much was given. I really think something that would have helped out is if Cameron took a clue from Trey Parker and Matt Stone (the guys from South Park) in Team America: World Police. " When you need to put yourself to the test, and show us a passage of time We're gonna need a montage! MONTAGE!"

Cameron has also taken a page out of Hayao Miyazaki's story background as shown in Ponyo and Princess Mononoke using Gia or Mother Earth or in this case, Mother Pandora. This subject often included in a plot when the antagonist wants to take resources from the planet. They don't hit you over the head like An Inconvenient Truth, but they don't let it pass either.

Come Oscar time, I'm sure that this movie will be up for a number of awards. Just like Titanic, I feel confident in that they will take awards in the area of technology and background. Awards like sound effects editing, best editing, and best sound will probably go to Avatar. If it doesn't win best visuals, I'd be shocked. I don't think that any of the acting awards will be heaped upon the actors in this movie although they may be nominated.

When it comes time to head out to the theater, you'll have the choice of regular 2D, 3D, or IMAX 3D. I did enjoy the 3D with the depth that it added to the movie. It wasn't the 3D that comes out of the screen, but having the depth really added to the experience with the huge scopes they were trying to convey. When I came out of my show there were lines for each format waiting outside of the lobby to get in and enjoy with the IMAX 3D line being the longest. Too bad the Polynesian Cultural Center didn't show Avatar on their IMAX screen this weekend. They could have made a killing!

The show was rated PG-13 due to some of the violence of the battle scenes and fighting.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Honolulu Marathon Mania!

Today, December 13, 2009 was the 37th annual Honolulu Marathon. Let me say right up front, a big mahalo nui to all the people who have supported me through Plurk, Twitter, or Facebook Status updates. You don't know how much it means to me. Even Jeff on his trip to Tokyo checked in. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

This unemployment "thing" has allowed me to do some things that I've wanted to do but hadn't. I've done the marathon twice before but walked the course in 2005 and 2006. With a thanks to Trace over at the Disney Dudes podcast, he clued me into the Couch to 5K program. Long story short, with the program I am able to run 5K or just over three miles in about 35 minutes.

The game plan for the marathon was to run one mile, walk one mile then repeat the last two steps until course is complete. The target time was 6.5 hours. That's what I was hoping to do! Ahh the Dream!

So night before the race, I headed to bed at 7pm in order to get 8 hours sleep. Unfortunately, I was woken twice by some one in the neighborhood shooting of aerial fireworks. Hawaii does allow fire works, but only for the Fourth of July and New Years but aerials are as they say in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Right Out!

The alarm went off at 3am. Got up and walked down to the course. I wish I could get credit for that walking. It's 1.25 miles from The Apartment in Paradise to the starting area. Arrived at 4:15am. The Hawaii Kai Jaycees help with the starting line and I know them. It was then I realized that I had forgotten my bus pass to either 1) allow me to get a bus off the course if I didn't complete or 2) take the bus from the finish line. Mahalo to my friend Peggy who loaned me three bucks!

The starters gun when off and the fireworks that they use to start the marathon immediately followed. It happened at 5am but it took me almost 19 minutes to get across the starting mats with almost 24,000 entrants. Thank god for chip technology! I clicked the i-pod to kick off the Nike+ to record the event and provide music.

Everything was going well. Down Ala Moana blvd, up Nuuanu onto King, turn onto Piikoi back onto Ala Moana Blvd then Kalakaua Ave which is the main drag through Waikiki. One of the parts that I like about this walk is heading past all the buildings in the downtown area that are decorated for the Christmas season. I love watching all the tourists, especially Japanese tourists stop to take pictures of the sights.

At the end of main section of Kalakaua Ave is Kapiolani Park where the marathon ends. For those people doing the Marathon walk, they left at this point and the rest of us heading up Monsarrat Ave and turned right onto Paki Ave. From Paki Ave, participants turn left to head up Diamond Head Road. By the time I had got to this point, the winner had already crossed the finish line. I still had 20 miles to go. At this point, I discovered, while I had music from the i-pod, it wasn't recording the run data. DANG it! Diamond Head Road has the steepest incline and highest elevation, about 125 feet above sea level for this course. Everything is on track except for the i-pod mix up.

At mile 8 and 9 is where my problems started. I slowed down to grab Gatorade and water. I then tried to start running again and my outside of my knees were giving me issues. When I started down the slope of 18th Ave, I could really feel the pain on the outside of the joints. UGH!

Onto Kilauea Ave and then Kalanianaole Hwy.

I hit the wall in that I was sort of like a car in idol that wouldn't shift into gear. I couldn't get my body to bend the knees high enough to get into a running mode. Well, I could keep walking anyway. By this time the sun was high and my coconut woven hat was providing protection from the sun.

The only thing that is really giving me an issue at this point is the knees. The feet seem to be OK and the new Under Armor shorts are doing their thing. Energy gels are being consumed and no need for that biological break. Along the way I'm taking a few pictures and video and tweeting them up to the Internet.

Four more miles and I'm heading into Hawaii Kai. My fingers are starting to swell. Part of running a marathon for the time that I'm on the course.

I realize at this point as I go by the 30K timer (about 16 miles) that I am WAY off pace and that dream of 6.5 hours to finish is not going to happen. My fingers become sausages and I really can't bend them anymore to send text messages or push buttons.

Travel around Hawaii Kai and then back out to Kalanianaole Hwy for the return trip. As I'm approaching the Waialea Country Club and Kealaolu I'm thinking that I'm not going to be able to beat my last time and maybe not even the time for the first marathon. Crap!

Onto Kahala Ave and I start to feel some things. The Under Armor has done its best but between the sweat, heat on my back and the time, the chaffing starts. I can also start to feel a blister on my foot. I have four miles to go. Heading up the slow incline to Diamond Head I feel argh-y (for lack of a better term). Two kilometers and I'm heading down the steeper incline. My knees are screaming at me and I feel a blister on my right foot and toe. I'm beating myself up because my grand plan to better my time hasn't worked out the way I had hoped.

As I entered Kapiolani Park, there are some people on the side cheering runners onto the finish line. I wanted to try to run the last part of the marathon, but my knees would not cooperate. As I approached the finish line, my coconut hat got noticed by the announcers. They thought I was someone else, a local businessman that created the "Live Aloha" bumper sticker, but they finally looked at the roster and got my name and announce it. I crossed the finish line at 8:34:13 which was 9 seconds shorter than my chip time from my first race. The chip time brought it down to 8:15:31. Almost two hours longer than I had hoped.

I took my winner shot and then hobbled off the course and out into the park. I wasn't able to get a winner t-shirt as I was late coming in and they ran out of 2XL. But I did get my winner medal. And an apple! And some oatmeal cookies! I'm not worried about the t-shirt as I'm not a t-shirt type of person with the opu (stomach) that I carry. I headed to the bus stop to go home. I then tried to text message but the fingers were still fat so I said "swollen fingers...can't txt" in a tweet. Easier to tweet when you're not walking and waiting on a bench. It was painful going up the bus stairs and the driver was kind enough to only have me pay $2.00 since I didn't have $0.25 in change, only another dollar bill. I couldn't wait to get home to clean up and start treating my body.

It took me 25 minutes to get from the bus stop to The Apartment in Paradise. Normally when I'm not in pain it is a four minute walk. I had to thank the drivers on the second side of the road for waiting for me while I was still crossing and they had the green light after I had received the white walking guy and then the flashing red hand.

Once home I took inventory of the body. I learned on my first marathon, don't remove the shoes. The feet swell and the blisters form. Leave them alone until you want to take off the shoes and not put them back on because trying to stuff swollen blistered fee back in there creates more pain. I love looking at the kaleidoscope of colors the feet turn. I have blisters on the side of the ball of each foot. Left foot, small toe blister on the inside between toes. Left foot big toe fine, but toe next door, blister under the toe nail. On the right foot, blister under the big toe nail and all around the toe nail next door as well as the small toe. No blisters on the bottom of the feet. All the toe nails that have blisters around them, will probably fall out. First time it happened was freaky, but I know what to expect now.

Knees are stiff, but better than during the race. Under Armor did as good as it could. Forearms, slightly sunburned as well as the side of the neck. My back is fine as well as my neck. I've learned to keep upright during the marathon. But, I didn't relax my shoulders and they are sore. On my inside right upper arm and left chest under the arm I do have some chaffing there from the seams of the shirt. I should be back to normal in less than a week for all but the toe nail issues. With walking and stand being difficult, I ordered pizza and chicken wings for dinner.

To the people who serve Hawaii by volunteering to hand out sponges, spray water, give out drinks, man the starting line, helping at the first aid stations and finish line or just cheer along the course encouraging people, a Big Mahalo Nui to all of you.

The students at Hawaii Pacific University say that the marathon has over a $100,000,000 economic impact to the State of Hawaii. I don't think you know how much your smiles, cups of cold water, sticks of Vaseline (no they are not serving energy gel on a stick at the aid stations), shaka signs or other words of encouragement mean to the people on the course.

Lastly, part of the marathon experience in Hawaii is the way that people dress to run. We have Maori and Hawaiian warriors, brides and grooms, regular and sexy Santas with accompanying elves, and a plethora of animated characters including Pikachu and Dragon Ball Z denizens. One person that amazes me is Geta Man. He runs with the traditional Japanese wooden sandals (see example here). In the past I couldn't imagine what it does to his feet. Well, today I could. He was sitting down in the area leading up to the finish line. The place where the velvet straps cover his foot was rubbed raw and looked nasty. But he still does it every year. Hope to see him there next year!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Movie Review: The Princess and the Frog

For many months now we've been bombarded with stories both on TV and in writing about Disney's return to hand drawn animation and their first African-American princess, Tiana, in The Princess and the Frog. The movie has been playing in limited release in Los Angeles and New York and today (December 11, 2009) finally was made available in general release. While there was a hint the movie would be hit with Tiana costumes selling out at Halloween, I can say that the movie was worth the wait.

The last attempt at hand drawn animation done by Disney was back in 2004 with Home on the Range. That movie was forgettable. It was so forgettable that I had to look up the movie on IMDB to remember what it was. Since then John Lasseter and the Pixar gang came on board with Disney. One of the qualities that Pixar is known for is having a story with a solid plot and characters that have depth and emotions. With Lasseter as the Chief Creative Officer, that philosophy rubbed off and wa-la, we have a story with charm, character, depth and that holds your attention.

The original story from the Brothers Grimm had been reworked to bring us the story of Tiana (Anika Noni Rose), an African-American waitress in 1920's New Orleans who dreams of owning her own restaurant. In steps Prince Naveen (Bruno Campos) and his assistant Lawrence (Peter Bartlett) who run into Voodoo practitioner Dr Facilier (Keith David) who wants to bring over his friends "from the other side" and turns Naveen into a frog. In the twist to the story instead of the kiss returning Naveen to his human form, Tiana turns into a frog. Some twist as it's been in every preview and ad for the movie. Naveen and Tiana in their journey to transform out of their amphibian form meet Ray the firefly (Jim Cummings) with a heart bigger than his butt and Louis (Michael-Leon Wooley), an alligator who blows a mean horn and has the dream to join a jazz band.

Dr Facilier is right up there with the Disney villains. Called by Tiana, The Shadow Man, with voodoo magic on his side, he uses it to his advantage. While the movie is rated G, the minions that he is able to use to help carry out his plans were somewhat scary. As shadows that were able to grab people and objects, it was a dark side that is normally not explored in these sort of movies.

The scenery is detailed and beautiful. The mansions, the riverboat, downtown New Orleans, and the French Quarter look amazing. Out in the bayou, the greens and other vegetation draw you in. When Tiana and Naveen meet Ray and Ray introduces the rest of his firefly family I sat their with my mouth open. I loved the use of light and the points of light to tell the story and accent points in the journey. Marvelous! There was some computer animation to add to the movie. Just as the ballroom was computer generated in Beauty and the Beast, the computer was an adjunct tool rather than the only tool used.

With Randy Newman providing the music, it filled in the missing pieces to round out the experience. New Orleans is the birthplace of Jazz so of course that was included along with Zydeco and a gospel choir selection. While for me no one song stood out, they all combined to move the story forward.

The one sequence that did stand out for me was "Almost There". Tiana is working hard as a waitress saving her money to be able to achieve her own dream. She is telling her mom about her plans to take a broken down location and turn it into an experience for good food with good friends. The animation changes to a stylized form and the dream that she is passionate about leaps off the screen with the music, lyrics, animation, imagery and color that make you almost taste the gumbo that she wants to serve in her new eatery.

In regards to how the bad guy is finally taken down, I was thrilled that they didn't resort to the age old, time tested and honored method of dispatching the baddy. The Evil Queen, Maleficent, Clayton, and Gaston all met their end falling over some sort of precipice. When Dr Facilier met his end I was like "Yes! This is different!!" A definite thumbs up on how the bad guy was vanquished!

There have been some comments in the press and online about The Princess and the Frog riding on the coattails of the election of Barrack Hussein Obama as the first African-American President. This is a bunch of hog hooey. This movie has been in the making for over three years and then Senator Obama announced on February 10, 2007 his Presidential aspirations. In the second half of 2006 Randy Newman was selected for the music and casting calls went out. Both events predating any announcement of and election of now President Obama. Who knows, maybe he was inspired by the movie to run for the highest office in the land?

Off my soap box. It's a wonderful story about both wishing and working for your dreams to come true. I'll be seeing the movie a second time as I know there were a lot of details that I missed the first time. There are many visuals to absorb in the 97 minute running time.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Movie Review: Transylmania

Well, it was bound to happen. With vampires showing up in both the movies and on TV, someone was bound to make a spoof movie. Transylmania is that movie. I was expecting something along the lines of the Scary Movie franchise. Turns out they were trying to take themselves a little more seriously having a legitimate plot and some legitimate laughs. Neither were very consistent.

The basic premise of the movie is that Rusty (Oren Skoog) has met Draguta (Irena Hoffman), a hot looking Romanian chick on the Internet. He decides to study abroad in Romania in order to hook up with her. In the processes he has managed to convince a number of his friends to go with him. As they travel over they find out that the school, Razvan U, is located in a castle that has a vampire history in a book written about the school by one of the school's professors, a vampire slayer, Teodora van Sloan (Musetta Vander). Skoog gets double duty playing Radu, the head vampire.

So initially the movie starts of as a road trip, then a buddy movie with LOTS of buddies. Usually buddy movies are two friends, or maybe four with couple pairings; this movie had ten. Two of the students are stoners. There is the vampire lore set up at by the telling of the castle history and several love stories both with human and vampires included. Add in some of the physical and visual "humor" of a Scary Movie and mix well. Unfortunately, when the cupcaskets come out of this oven, some are topped very nicely and others are half baked.

The stoners are Pete (Patrick Cavanaugh) and Wang (Paul Hansen Kim) who are always looking for the good buzz. They add the Harold and Kumar element to this movie. Funny thing is Wang's hair is a tribute to Bride of Frankenstein. They were the funniest thing about this movie.

As the vampire slayer van Sloan, Vander does an OK job. Although watching her where she is out trying to kill Radu or teaching her students about self defense reminded me of Catherine Zeta Jones in The Legend of Zorro. Very feisty and sexy dressed up in all the leather. They just needed to add the soft light filter. Grrrr.

The cornerstone of the movie was about Radu and his love Stephania and a music box. This sets up all the conflict for the movie as Radu searches for the music box in order to get Stephania back. This by itself as the plot for a regular not satiric vampire movie would have worked on it's own. Vampire finds sorceress, vampire looses sorceress, vampire works to get sorceress back, a tale as old as time. The majority of the rest of the plot seems to be taken from recycled Scooby Doo scripts. "I would have gotten away with it if it hadn't been for those dang kids!"

With the castle, I'm not sure how much was stage and how much was real. In the credits they did thank various Romanian agencies. There were a number of scenes both inside and outside the castle where you could see the actor's breath. For this movie, I have to believe it was real. I couldn't see them visually adding this as a special effect especially since no one was complaining that the place was cold or uncomfortable that way. Think Jack and Rose as they became ice cubes, that was an added visual.

The movie has fart jokes (sorry, but do they ever get old? and a small tip of the hat to Young Frankenstein), getting stoned, buddy misunderstandings, good guy/bad guy look a likes, weird sex positions, bared breasts and vomiting that all earn this one hour thirty two minute movie its R rating.

Should you go see this? Well, if you have some loose change at the bottom of you pocket that adds up to the price of the matinee ticket and you really, really have to do something with it, eh, why not. If you're tastes are a little bit higher, I think Planet 51 is still playing.