Tag Archives: Review

Tech review: Apple iWatch

Apple sent me an Apple iWatch in lead up to its big launch today. I’ve been wearing it discreetly for the past week or so, which wasn’t easy, because it’s so noticeably a smart watch. I had this whole plan rehearsed in my head if anybody were to come up to me and say, “Wow, is that an iWatch?” like I’d point to something in the other direction before running away. But luckily, nobody said anything.


But I guess Apple is expecting me to do some sort of a review, right? Well, for starters, the iWatch is so cool. It’s like, imagine if the iPhone were Batman, and the iWatch were Batman’s utility belt. Wait, no, Batman is the iPad. Or no, let me start over. Batman is the Mac, like the big computer. And the iPad is the Batmobile. So then the iPhone is like the Batcycle. Does this make sense? I don’t know, I never got an iPad, so now that I’m thinking about it, even though it’s bigger, I guess I’d have to relegate it to Batboat, something you know is out there, and it’s really big and expensive, but you only ever have a need for it if Aquaman’s in trouble.

I think I’m getting off topic here slightly. But yeah, the iWatch is like your own utility belt, but for your wrist. I thought that typing on that really tiny keyboard was going to be tough, but it’s not. It’s like, the QWERTY keyboard is really, really small. And my finger is about as big as the screen itself, so when I was trying to hit a certain key, there really wasn’t much for me to aim at. Yet, the iWatch nailed it, every time. After a while, I just disabled autocorrect to save some battery life, because I wound up never even making any mistakes.

Speaking of battery life, I don’t know how they got this thing to run on a regular watch battery, but it’s amazing to think that a tiny little piece of metal is capable of keeping this piece of high-tech gadgetry running for a full six months. And it’s like the screen never turns off, yet it never gets hot.

Not unless you want it to. One of the best features of the iWatch is temperature control. You can set it to be as hot or as cold as you like. And it’s totally waterproof. So if you ever find yourself with a room temperature drink, but you don’t have any ice readily available, you can just set the iWatch to maximum cool, and drop it in to get your beverage nice and frosty.

Apple, I know that I have to send this iWatch back to you, that you only sent it to me so I can write up a review. But I just wanted to say, thank you. I’ve been begging to be on the Apple tech early review team for years now, and I was so excited that you finally decided to take a chance on me. You have nothing to worry about. This iWatch reviews itself. Seriously. It’s a built-in app. You just launch it, select the Apple product that you’d like to generate a review for, and poof! Instant five-star review.

Apple, you guys are the best. Keep up the great work. I’m going to buy two iWatches when they’re available, one for each wrist.

The Wolf of Wall Street, and other random thoughts about the movies

For a while I was going to the movies every week. I’d pick out a new release and see it either Thursday night at midnight or early Friday morning. And then I’d come back and write up a review. This lasted for a while, all the way from last March up until I saw Gravity. But then I missed a week and I just never got back in that groove again, which is too bad, for me anyway, because going to the movies is great.


I’ve seen a few since Gravity, but I didn’t want to get right back into the reviewing. For example, I saw Twelve Years a Slave, but way after the initial release, and so I didn’t want to show up much later with my two cents. There was also this rule that I made up where I wasn’t allowed to read other reviews before I had seen the movie, and I found that, if I wasn’t doing it immediately, of course I’d wind up reading a review, or even just hearing other people talking about it.

Like Anchorman 2, I haven’t seen it yet, and I haven’t even read any reviews. But I heard that it was terrible. Which, I have no idea what my original reaction would have been had I just seen it before talking to anybody else. Maybe I would have laughed. But now, I’ll never know, I’ll eventually see it, either just before they pull it from the theaters or, more likely, sometime much later after it’s out on TV or Netflix, and I’ll go into it thinking, eh, not that funny.

I don’t know why I had to go into my movie watching lull now, the one time of the year where there are like twenty-five huge movies released every week. When I was doing the weekly reviews, I’d have back-to-back weeks where all of the options were terrible movies. Like Burt Wonderstone, or The Host, or The Internship. And now it’s like, even if I wanted to play catch up, there’s no way I’d be able to watch everything. American Hustle is out, there’s a new Cohen brothers movie.

Tonight I saw The Wolf of Wall Street, which came out on Christmas, so yeah, it’s too late for a review. But I wanted to write something about it, and so this is what I’ve got so far, half a blog post about movies in general. But this movie, and here’s the spoiler warning, lots of spoilers, I’m basically going to be writing here as if everyone’s already seen it, so if you’re at all interested in not having someone who has seen the movie talk to you about what happened in the movie, stop now.

The whole movie, it’s about this real life guy who makes a ton of money as a con man on Wall Street. I was sitting there in the theater, I was thinking, OK, there’s not much going on here. Leo is making tons of money and living like a rich prick king. There’s nothing really being said, it’s just the main character acting like an asshole, leading up and up and up and finally he gets in trouble and goes to jail.

I was thinking, it’s boring, there’s not much of a story. And then there’s the ending. He’s out of jail and he’s giving a speech at one of these “How to get rich” seminars somewhere in New Zealand. And he’s just doing the same shit, over and over again, and the camera faces the audience. The last shot is of the people in their seats, looking up.

I thought, man, it’s like a mirror, everybody in this theater looking at the screen, everybody in the movie looking back in the opposite direction. The film ends, the screen goes black and a title card reads, “Based on the book by …” and I don’t even want to write this guy’s name, I don’t want to acknowledge his presence more than I already have, I don’t want this blog post to pop up on a list of results for his name.

But it was this huge joke. He goes to jail, whatever, he’s still a rich con man. He wrote a book. He optioned the movie and a huge director took on the project. And here I am, I’m staring at these people in New Zealand thinking, man, who shells out money for these garbage seminars? And then it hit me, I’m sitting here, I just shelled out twenty bucks for this garbage movie, a plot as cheap and nonexistent as the junk he peddled on Wall Street.

And so yeah, he got me, I contributed to this guy’s fortune, his fame, even totally unknowingly, I was still part of this mass fleecing. I thought, wow, I’m so stupid, but really deep for having such a great insight, but mostly stupid, but also really, really deep.

BonChon Chicken

Sometime last year my wife started talking about this chicken place that she found out about with her sister. “It’s so good! You have to come with us! We can’t get enough of this chicken!” over and over again she’d tell me, every time she’d go out with her sister it was the same deal, “This chicken is the greatest!”


And it was annoying, seeing my wife and my sister-in-law this happy, over chicken. Watching them talk about their experience at this restaurant, I’d think to myself, I don’t ever get to that level of joy about anything in life, let alone fried chicken, and so I sank my heels in deep, determined not to let myself try the chicken, lest I start to believe that maybe this type of happiness might be real.

I was afraid, deep down, that I’d buy into whatever hype they’d bought into, and then after trying the chicken, I’d be naturally disappointed. I’d come back home with a stomach full of grease and I’d wonder, am I fully here? Is there something wrong with me, preventing me from enjoying what everyone else seems to be genuinely in love with?

Just let them get it out of their system, I figured, they’ll eat it to the point where they get sick of it and then we can all get back to our miserable, regular lives as usual. But the chicken fever, it wasn’t running its course. If anything, their love for this chicken place was growing deeper, stronger in intensity.

And try as I might to make them keep their chicken business to themselves, it got to the point where their occasional, “Rob, you really should try this chicken place,” snowballed into a daily, “Rob! I order you to try this chicken! Rob! I’m serious!” But like I said, I had already made up my mind. For better or for worse, I’m a stubborn guy, a real asshole, and so this went on for weeks, me, just trying to go about my life, attempting ever more unsuccessfully to evade this fried chicken propaganda.

One day I was getting off from work and my wife was like, “I’m getting off from work too. Let’s meet up and grab a bite to eat.” In a lapse of judgment, I agreed. She told me where we’d meet, but failed to mention the place. I showed up a little earlier than she did only to find that I’d been duped.

There it was, BonChon Chicken. I can’t believe I didn’t see it coming. It’s like, I don’t think my wife had eaten anything else besides BonChon Chicken for the past month, and here I was being guided to a restaurant of her choosing. Of course it was going to be BonChon Chicken. Had I really missed such an obvious trap? Or had a part of me started to cave? Somewhere from behind my active consciousness, was my brain maybe starting to at least wonder if any part of this hysteria might not in fact be true?

Reluctantly, I went inside and sat down at a table. BonChon? What kind of a place is this, Korean? I like Korean food, but I’ve never really made any sort of connection between kimchi and fried chicken. And that’s what the menu was all about. Legs, thighs, kimchi, scallion pancakes. Whatever, I was hungry and this place actually seemed pretty cool, that aroma wafting through the air …

Snap out of it Rob, I tried to ground myself back into my skeptical mind, let’s have a bite first, at least. I ordered the scallion pancake, some kimchi, and some assorted legs and thighs, some of them spicy, some of them garlic and soy sauce. “Ha!” I said to my wife after placing the order, “That’s not a fried chicken flavor!” But I just sounded like an idiot.

And I can admit that now, because as soon as I took that first bite, everything changed. I did a complete mental one-eighty. This was the best fried chicken I had ever had in my life. I’m not like a fried chicken connoisseur or anything, but I’ve eaten it elsewhere, I’ve made it in my own kitchen with varying degrees of success. Whatever, it’s fried chicken.

But BonChon is fried fucking chicken. It’s like, I have no idea how they do what they do with legs and thighs. Somehow the chicken winds up coming out of their kitchen almost too perfect in appearance. If you asked a professional artist to render the ideal fried chicken leg, he wouldn’t even come close to what BonChon is able to achieve.

The chicken skin is somehow not only fried to crispy perfection, but it balloons out slightly, absorbing whatever flavor it’s seasoned with, becoming one with the skin, and expanding just enough past the meat to where your first bite, it’s like crunchy skin, pause, then juicy meat. You know what I’m saying? When you have your standard fried chicken, the skin always kind of slides around on top of the meat, so when you start to dig in, you wind up swallowing most of it during those first two or three bites. But BonChon skin, it’s like its own entity, it’s almost structurally apart from the rest of the meat, ensuring that eat bite of chicken has at least a little bit of delicious, chewy, almost candy-like skin.

I’m a total convert. I wound up polishing off eight pieces on my first time. And every time my wife brings home a box, or I wind up sneaking away for more, I can’t help but finish every last morsel of meat from each bone. It’s almost crazy how good this chicken is. I like to brag about how much I can eat and all of the different foods that I’ve had, but BonChon is levels ahead of anywhere near where I’ve been before. I see that plate of chicken and it’s like I black out, like I get possessed by something inside, something primal, and the next thing I know I’m staring in disbelief at all of the bones that I’ve made short work of.

Go to BonChon Chicken. It’s a chain. There are several locations in New York. It’s usually crowded, so be prepared to wait. I hope this thing takes off and puts all other fried chicken places out of business. I hope that someday there is a BonChon on every corner. Hey President of South Korea, maybe it almost seems like too easy of a solution, but if all else fails with the whole North Korea stalemate, you might as well try some BonChon diplomacy. Fly them some chicken. Watch the Kim regime dissolve as they beg for more. It could happen, I really think it might work.

Movie Review: The Internship

What happens when you make a photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopy? You get something that resembles the original, kind of, but there’s a definite degradation of quality. You look at your end result, say to yourself, well, everything is where it should be, but it just doesn’t look right. That about sums up The Internship, the wacky summer comedy movie starring two of America’s favorite funny actors, Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson.

The Internship

We’ve all seen the trailers, there’s nothing that I could possibly spoil for you, even if I wrote out the entire plot of the movie. It’s derivative comedy at its most basic. It’s two guys that don’t know anything about computers that wind up at Google as interns, competing for a handful of full-time jobs.

Get it? Because they’re old. Right? They’re so old. That’s the joke. They keep telling us over and over. “But you guys are so old!” And so Vince Vaughn has a flip phone. And they don’t know how to use computers. It’s like, come on, even my grandfather knows how to use a computer. This trope might have been slightly more believable maybe ten years ago, but by now it’s growing ever more unlikely that there exist a couple of forty year olds living in California that are really this inept in modern technology.

The movie actually starts out funny enough. There are a couple of ridiculous back-and-forths that evoke those old feelings of seeing these two guys in a movie and not automatically assuming that it’s going to suck. But they play their trump card way too early, a signature over-the-top cameo by Will Ferrell, and after that’s come and gone, the movie limps toward the finish line, realizes that it’s way too far away, and decides, whatever, they’ve already paid for the tickets, let’s just call it a day.

These sort-of comedy movies always follow such a formulaic approach to story telling. Characters find themselves in unlikely scenarios, they decide to give it their all, after one or two comical false starts, they rally together, work really hard, and start turning some heads. Of course there’s a bad guy, and of course he winds up getting under the good guys’ skin. There’s self-doubt. Vince Vaughn winds up quitting. But of course he comes back. And of course they rally again just in time.

It was the same in Dodge Ball. It was the same in Old School. It was the same in Wedding Crashers. It’s just over and over and over and over again. Throw in some really cheesy romance. Sprinkle in a scene where everybody goes out to a strip club. I’m sitting there in the theater, not really laughing at all, and I’m just thinking, this is so boring. I can’t believe I’m sitting in this seat being spoon fed the same completely unimaginative garbage summer after summer. Who’s making the money at the end of this gravy train?

To make things even lamer, it’s all a big Google commercial. They talk about Gmail and there’s the Android logo everywhere. Nobody has an iPhone. There’s an almost imperceptible walk-on role by one of the two Google cofounders. When they’re not making funny faces or acting out premature ejaculation jokes, they’re having serious conversations about Google connecting people to people, people to information, making the world a better place.

What else? I’m seriously out of stuff to say about this movie. It was so boring. I can’t believe I actually spent money to go see it. This is something that normally I’d only ever watch if I were on a really long vacation with my entire extended family, and during one of those weird in-between points, when everybody’s asleep or waiting for dinner, and we’re all just kind of hanging around the one TV wherever we’re at, and TBS is playing a “very funny!” movie, and we’re all like, The Internship, huh, we all forgot that this movie ever even came out. And we watch it, it’s terrible, but nobody makes a move to turn it off, and everybody’s a little bit more tired having had to sit through such unfunny two hours of their life.

Man, I’m so tired. I hate having to so thoroughly bash something. But what a joke. An unfunny joke. There’s nothing else to say. I’m really sad and tired now.

Movie Review: The Host

Wow, I feel like I’ve been had. Is it because it’s a holiday weekend? I thought studios love to snag people in with big movies during holiday weekends. But the only new releases this week were G.I. Joe, some Tyler Perry movie, and The Host.

I’d never heard of The Host, and all the better, I thought to myself. Here’s a chance to really do an honest film review. No marketing campaigns or commercials to influence my opinions beforehand. No, without any preconceived notions, I’d be able to truly judge a motion picture based on what I thought, what I felt.

Well, almost. Right as I was buying my ticket in the theater, I noticed a The Host movie poster. “From the makers of Twilight,” it read. Damn. The ticket lady directed me toward theater one, a room full of teenage girls, the occasional senior citizen, and me, at eleven in the morning on a Friday.

OK, the movie … jeez, I don’t know where to start. I guess I’ll mention that I’ve never actually seen Twilight, so I can’t really give an apt comparison, but I’ve read reviews about Twilight, I’ve seen tons of shows and online videos making fun of Twilight, so yeah, this movie was pretty much like Twilight. Except there aren’t any vampires. There are aliens.

The opening exposition cuts right to the chase, as the main character, Melanie, tells us how we’ve gotten to where we are. Aliens have invaded the earth, these little silver glowing worm aliens. They’re not invading, the invasion is already over. I don’t know how much trouble the first few aliens had in taking over individual earthlings, because they’re so tiny and delicate. They get beamed to our planet in these small silver pods and physically bond with and seize control of individual human beings. But it’s weird because, in order for this to happen, already-possessed humans have to perform a surgical operation on a non-possessed human for the little guys to weasel their way inside.

Backstory isn’t super important, I guess. They’re here. They’ve taken over nearly the whole world. And they’ve brought harmony. They don’t fight. They don’t pollute the planet. Everything’s just great.

Except there are a few remaining humans living like fugitives. The main character, Melanie, she’s caught right away at the beginning. Rather than succumb to the invaders, she chooses suicide, leaping through some pane glass out of a fourth or fifth story window. But she survives. This one’s a fighter. The aliens put an alien inside of her. We can tell because her eyes start glowing. Oh yeah, all of the possessed humans, their eyes all glow bright blue.

I could never wrap my head around this plot device, mostly because the aliens, spending so much time trying to locate the resistance, desperately trying to smoke out any remaining humans, they never think to maybe put on some contact lenses. The eyes are always the dead giveaway of who’s possessed and who’s not.

The alien in Melanie’s body, her name is Wanderer, and at first she’s put in charge of finding the remaining humans, of eliminating the resistance. But that same fighting spirit that helped Melanie survive that fall? You guessed it: it allows her to somehow survive the mind-meld. She’s still around, albeit as a sassy disembodied echo-voice with a Southern accent. But the aliens don’t have Southern accents, just regular accents.

As she struggles to assert dominance in Wanderer’s new body, we learn more of Melanie’s alliterative backstory, about her kid brother Jamie, her boyfriend Jarred, her uncle Jeb. She convinces Wanderer to escape the alien city, to make her way to the desert, where we find the rest of the survivors, living in some intricate network of pretty cozy looking caves. Her uncle Jeb “found” them, somehow. There’s a hospital inside the caves. And electricity. And running hot water. Also, there’s a gigantic system of crank operated mirrors that allow them to grow acres and acres of underground wheat. But they have to retract the mirrors every time an alien helicopter flies by, because you know, they don’t want to get caught. It turns out the whole process is a lot easier than I’d imagine.

The rest of the movie is just this long weird series of events. The Seekers are trying to hunt down the resistance. Melanie’s boyfriend and family at first treat Wanderer like a prisoner, but then they grow to love her. Melanie rekindles her romance. But Wanderer develops a romance for someone else. There’s a lot of perfectly groomed and shaved refugees staring longingly at each other, almost about to kiss, but then fighting off their temptation, because, I don’t know, I guess that’s a teenage problem or something.

What really stuck out to me was that the overall plot of the movie resembled the radical right’s exaggerated fears of what a liberal America might do to God’s favorite country. The aliens are sleek, sophisticated. They live in cities with socialized medicine, socialized everything, there is no more money at all. They wear all white. They drive chrome sports cars, fly chrome helicopters, zip around in chrome motorcycles. They complain in their northern accents that humans are barbaric, polluters of the environment. They shop for big boxes labeled “food” and jugs labeled “water” in big warehouses labeled “Store.” It’s big government at it’s worst, controlling the lives of every citizen, punishing, overbearing, cracking down on dissent in all forms.

The resistance is the real America, down to earth people with real Southern accents, listenin’ to country music, slingin’ shotguns, sayin’ stuff like, “I reckon,” and “ain’t” and “for a spell.” When Wanderer successfully fights off the advances of an admiring boy, Melanie screams in her head, “Hallelujah! (pronounced Hah-luh-LOO-ya!)

Wanderer falls in love with the real America. They rename her Wanda. She says that after being alive for one thousand years, spending her time amongst countless worlds, this is the hardest but most beautiful life in the whole galaxy. It’s American exceptionalism on a cosmic scale.

Now I just feel bad, tearing apart this movie that’s clearly intended for an audience that I’m not a part of. Still, maybe I wouldn’t mind all of the cheesiness if the movie weren’t so boring. The plot isn’t really a plot at all. It’s solipsistic. Most of the movie is the main character talking to herself, about boys, about feelings, about how feelings are hard. Whatever it’s for teenagers.

What was I watching when I was a teenager? Face-Off, The Water Boy, Starship Troopers. I guess it’s a hard market to sell stuff to. Actually, it’s a really easy market to sell stuff to. I don’t know. Next week I’m going to see Evil Dead, so come back and read the review.