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Friday, May 30, 2008

Book Review: The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More- 5/30/08

Comments: The Long Tail is a really interesting book that speaks to the new generation of businesses that thrive in the digital age of products as well as the time of micro-consumers.

This book breaks down the process' of business such as iTunes and Netflix and how the new market of consumers wanting abundant choices has shifted how they get their products and how stores either profit or fail based on their selection width and how they handle business as ones and zeros or if they are brick & mortar stores.

Score: 3.5 out of 5

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Book Review: Be the Elephant: Build a Bigger, Better Business- 5/29/08

Comments: This is one of the good new business books I've read that discusses in detail the strategy and thought behind creating, maintaining and expanding a business.

You don't have to be a big corporation to get in on this reading of Be the Elephant. It has good examples of business plans, cash flow strategy, customer insights that the author has used to form his our multi-million dollar companies from smaller-revenue firms.

Go ahead, pick it up and learn something!

4 out of 5

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Movie Review: Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull- 5/24/08

Comments: Finally saw the movie. My two cents. I went in it expecting an adventure film, came away feeling a definite sci-fi tone near the middle once the plot was shown. I like Indy films separate from other genres. Kinda like how I'd be disappointed if the Bourne movies somehow integrate Sasquatch or the Loch Ness monster into it, not my cup of tea.

Still, I enjoyed the movie for what it was... a flick with a history of fun adventures and slap-dash action. I could've done away with the cheesy one-liners in the first 20 minutes or Tarzan/Mutt scene.

Wonder now when Shia will be taking over the enterprise for the 5th film?

3 out of 5

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Movie Review: The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian- 5/22/08

Comments: The kids return to Narnia to help fellow teen-Prince Caspian recapture his rightful throne. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian is a bit darker in tone than the original as well as a lot more of the cinematography shot at night creates a more harrowing mood to this film. A couple action sequences make this film bereft of a Lord of the Rings feel.

I saw it odd where in this Disney film the kids are shown killing human characters during their battles even if it was for good. Still, I thought this film was better than the first which bored me until the final battle.

3 out of 5

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

MOTW Rants: Behind the scenes at Disneyland- The adventures of a Jack Sparrow character actor- 5/21/08

An ex-Jack Sparrow spills on life at the Magic Kingdom from an article in Los Angeles Magazine.

Nice behind the scenes look on how someone became the "face" of the Pirates of the Caribbean character and how they go about their business.

Click here for details on the Pirate's Booty.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Movie Review: Sherrybaby- 5/20/08

Synopsis: Sherry (Maggie Gyllenhaal) has just been released from prison after becoming a heroin addict and getting caught in a robbery. After winding into a half-way house she tries to re-establish her relationship with her young daughter who was taken in by Sherry's brother and wife.

We learn that Sherry has been molested by her father after a scene at her daughter's birthday party which may have contributed to her sleeping around vicariously since leaving prison. She tries to establish a life working at a kid's school and fighting her addiction as well as her brother and his wife's attempt to keep her separated from her daughter.

Comments: A strong performance from Maggie Gyllenhaal, a vibrant actress in independent films and soon the new Batman: The Dark Knight movie this summer. The movie establishes the character of Sherry as a strong willed person but also weak in her dabbling in drugs and sex to try and cope with her prison, abuse, and relationship-troubled past.

The viewer will become well acquainted with the character and her fight to reunite with her daughter and maintain her life on the straight and narrow. I just wish the ending was more fruitful instead as feeling truncated and ending abruptly.

3.5 out of 5

Movie Review: Cafe Lumiere- 5/20/08

Summary: Cafe Lumiere is a Japanese film by a Taiwanese director. Follows the snippet of life when a young Japanese woman finds out she's pregnant by her long-distance Taiwanese boyfriend and her relationship with her parents as they learn the news. She also encounters and befriends a local used bookstore clerk who they share a low level crush on each other.

Comments: The shots and cinematography used felt a bit to me like Chinese director Wong Kar Wai with extensive scenes comprised of long static shots and lingering and silent moments. Unfortunately unlike the famous Wong Kari Wai's movies, this one dragged on for so long without the movement of the story to capture my attention at all. You could go on for long stretches of the film with no speech, just watching people hang clothes or eating.

Unlike a movie such as the Vietnamese-made The Scent of Green Papaya where long lingering and silent shots account for the establishment of a character and emotion, the ones in Cafe Lumiere just dwells on repeated everyday moments that does not move the story, characters or enjoyment of the film at all. Thoroughly boring, a movie that felt pretentious trying to feel expansive and deep by trying to be minimalist and the end it didn't capture anything except my Fast Forward button and finally Eject.

1.5 out of 5

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Movie Review: Long Life, Happiness Prosperity- 5/18/08

Description: The festival award-winning Long Life, Happiness and Prosperity - is the January selection in The Film Movement Series. In LONG LIFE, HAPPINESS AND PROSPERITY, twelve-year old Mindy Ho (Valerie Tian) tries Taoist magic to fix her single mothers (Sandra Oh) financial situation and seemingly hopeless romantic prospects. Mindy's directed charms appear to cause an aging security guard to lose his job and a local butcher to win the lottery. The guard, the butcher and her mother's stories all intersect, bound together by Mindys attempts at magic intervention.

Set in the Chinese Canadian community, LONG LIFE, HAPPINESS AND PROSPERITY is a story of hope and the importance of keeping faith in this sometimes difficult world.

Comments: A nice, cute, quirky and funny movie that explores both Chinese culture and its mingling with a western-influenced lifestyle. The story follows three main arcs: daughter trying to find love for her single mom, recently laid-off elder security guard, and a butcher store father trying to pass on the family legacy to his American born son.

The lead little girl (
Valerie Tian from Juno) at age twelve here was really funny and down-to-earth. I experienced a few laughs from the situations brought about in the story. The ending may throw you off since a few of the arcs don't really spell out the ending for some of the characters; that's why I had to turn on the commentary for the ending scenes to hear the director's explanation. Still, this a a well-made film and good times for the entire family.

Score: 4 out of 5

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Book Review: Kong: King Of Skull Island- 5/17/08

Description: In 1933, American showman Carl Denham returned from a mysterious, hidden island with a priceless treasure. A treasure not gold or jewels, but the island's barbaric god, a monstrous anthropoid called "Kong." The savage giant escaped and wreaked havoc among the man-made canyons of Manhattan, but within hours of the giant ape's death his body - and Carl Denham - disappeared. Twenty-five years later, the son of Carl Denham makes a shocking discovery that leads him back to the site of his father's greatest adventure and to the answers that will unlock the century's greatest mystery and history's greatest miracle.

Kong: King Of Skull Island was authorized by the Cooper Estate and based on the original novel that inspired the all-time classic film. This new novel acts as both prequel and sequel to the classic fantasy tale, King Kong. Acclaimed fantasy artist Joe DeVito and top fantasy and science-fiction writer Brad Strickland join forces to make for an interactive visual-narrative storytelling experience unlike any other.

Comments: After thinking about the 2005 movie, I was searching around for information about the history of the film and came across this novel. An authorized book from the heirs of the creator of King Kong, this story takes place before and after Kong is found and brought to rampage New York.

The Kong: King Of Skull Island story centers around two main characters. Set in the late 50's, the first is the son of the filmmaker who captured and brought Kong to NYC. He tries to trace what happened to the gigantic ape and his dad when both disappeared after Kong fell from the Empire State building 25 years in the past. The second arch is from the past (maybe 18th century) about one of the native islanders where Kong comes from. The island princess' story traces the history of Kong and how he and the people and creatures of the island came to be before being disrupted by early European explorers.

Kong: King Of Skull Island is a pretty large format book with interspersed images capturing certain vivid scenes from the story. The book moves along at a brisk pace venturing back and forth between the two main characters with a dose of suspense, intrigue and ape vs. dinosaur vs. dinosaur vs. human battles.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Golf Review: Golf Ball Sale at Target- 5/17/08

Golf Ball Sale at Target

-Nike Ignites for about $17.48 compared to $25.00.

-Maxfli Noodles for $15.86.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Book Review: 45 Things You Do That Drive Your Boss Crazy- 5/16/08

45 Things You Do That Drive Your Boss Crazy- And How to Avoid Them

Comments: Do you want to know the different personality types that make up the myriad of difficult workers in the office?

Full of some funny anecdotes and ways to combat the ebb and flow of the power personalities in a company. Check it out.

Score: 3 out of 5

Movie Review: Michael Clayton- 5/16/08

Comments: Interesting movie that does keep you on your toes as long as you pay attention as to which characters work for which company and their motivations in this legal drama.

Kinda gets you mad at big corporations though. I thought it was going to be a thriller such as The Firm, and this was more a drama trying to learn if Clooney will come through and win.

Score: 3 out of 5

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Book Review: Batman: Death and The City- 5/15/08

Comments: An o.k. Batman book with a couple different art and story teams in one graphic novel.

Score: 2.75 out of 5

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Book Review: The New Rules of Marketing and PR- 5/14/08

The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use News Releases, Blogs, Podcasting, Viral Marketing and Online Media to Reach Buyers Directly

After reading a few other marketing and advertising books, this is the first one that I feel has actually added a few little tidbits to my marketing comprehension.

This books showcases profiles on significant new media such as blogs, social networking sites and effective advertising that doesn't just rehash material gleamed from the last five years.

3.5 out of 5

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Movie Review: Speed Racer (2008)- 5/13/08

Movie Summary: Speed Racer (That's his name), drives for his family's racing team. After the death of his older brother, Speed must choose to join another racing conglomerate team. Speed later teams up with the secret agent, Racer X, who may or may not be his "deceased" brother to take down an evil corporation at the biggest race of his life.

Another movie based on a previous existing cartoon, this is a live-action update of the 1960s Japanese anime. Produced by the Matrix team, this is a slap-dash movie incorporating comedy, action, and tons of special effects. Too bad the plot line is paper thin and the story jumps around so much that it gets boring fast. The cast is played so much like a cheesy troupe, that its hard to figure out why only Speed and Racer X don't realize that their lives are just for fun and that even though they are shot at, run over, spun around, nobody ever seems to get hurt.

Contrary to reports I've read, the special effects aren't too daunting to the eyes. The FX are pretty nice, too bad the whole time instead of thinking about the movie I was thinking that this would probably be better played as a video game than a film.

The most annoying aspect of the movie that could have been radically fixed was to take out the annoying kid brother and the chimp. They were played as a slapstick team that just didn't pan out and made watching the film even more makers, haven't you read that kid sidekicks and animals in film are never a good mix in an action film? Kid's animated movie or Sea World, yes. Action film, no.

2 out of 5.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Golf Course Review: The Links At Victoria Park, Carson, CA- 5/10/08

Fronting the 405 Freeway, The Links at Victoria Park in the City of Carson is one of the few public municipal courses offered for budget courses in the South Bay area. Apart from journeying to the Los Verdes Golf Course in P.V., there is not much else to play a full-featured 18 hole course nearby.
The Links at Victoria Park features often seen muni-type layout with fairly standard fairways, bunkers and a few outlying trees challenging golfers.

Since the cost of the course on a Saturday was around $35 and the only game in town, we were set back with delays of 2-3 groups of golfers around us. So there was a lot of standing and waiting around. Not a lot of trouble were shown in the layout, a couple minor eco-ravines in the back nine limit your go-for-the-gusto shots since retrieving balls from some of the outlying areas is a no-no. No water hazards or water to speak of on the layout. During play I did get harrased by the Goodyear blimp that floated around for 4-5 holes at the course since the blimp's launching pad is right next door. So if you get distracted easily, wait until you see a blimp hover over a couple full holes as it treks around the Sough Bay.

Views are nothing spectacular, normal views of surrounding houses and the 405 fwy. nearby.
The driving range is pretty large and practice greens broken into two separate areas. I did not see any sand trap practice locations though. Expect heavy amounts of traffic if you play on the weekends since there's not a lot to choose from in the area for play apart from the executive Domiguez Hills course across the freeway.

Comments: The price is fair, I did not appreciate the marshall just driving around and not doing anything significant to speed up play. Seemed all he liked to do is drive in the opposite direction of the cart path causing us to pull our cart out of th way. Course has nothing memorable to offer, so if you're in the area I suggest going 15 mins. north to Los Verdes for Pacific Ocean views for about the same cost and course time but much better scenery.

2.5 out of 5

Thursday, May 8, 2008

MOTW Rant: ATT Wireless Cellular Customer Service- 5/8/08

Today's rant revolves around the run-around I received from my cellular carrier AT&T. I purchased a new cell phone several months ago and just recently my phone started switching off for no apparent reason. The phone was in good condition, never dropped but I have been keeping it in the charger so I suspected that the battery was losing its capacity to keep a full charge even when the phone showed full power.

I took the phone to my local AT&T store where I purchased it and explained the problem to a sales clerk, asked if they had a replacement battery since I should still be on warranty. They didn't have one on stock so he informed me to go to a bigger store a few miles down since they should have one in stock (he didn't check its inventory or anything). So I drive down to the bigger store and explain to another clerk that the other store sent me there to pick up a new battery, he asked me if they called the store to check and I said no. Of course they do not have the battery in stock. For some reason this new phone, which is advertised in their store and ads they do not have batteries in stock! He checks the inventory of stores locally and he tells me that there are none available. I ask if I should call the 800# customer service if that would be helpful and he says that I could try. Gee, thanks for your help.

I go home and call customer service and then get asked to call another line for warranty...sure. I call the next number and get transferred to a customer service person... in India. Yes, overseas offshore customer service, it's G-R-E-A-T. I explain for the fourth time in an hour to an AT&T rep. my phone problem. I let her know that two stores do not have batteries and none in my location have them in stock. She asks me how do I know if it's the battery that is broken, did the store clerks check the battery? I told her over and over, how can they check the battery if they do not have another battery in stock to replace it to see if it works properly. Heck, they didn't offer me any help at all besides letting me know they have no batteries at all? She explains to me sometimes it's the phone that breaks and not the battery.

I'm going in a circle trying to get a new battery for my IN WARRANTY phone from this lady who does not understand the concept that no one can check the battery if it's faulty since no one in a 30 mile radius has one in stock. I ask her to send me a new one, she puts me on hold for several minutes to check her network. She gets back on the line and tells me there's none in STOCK! She further tells me that I should call Nokia directly to ask for a battery. Never mind that I spoke with a total of four AT&T reps already, and now she wants me to call another rep. again, no thanks. They advertised the phone, sold me the phone, take my monthly payments, but when I request a simple battery replacement (for a new in-stock model currently advertised), they have none at all.

I am about to go ballistic so I decide to check store stock myself. I get on the internet and start calling stores near me. A few have none in stock, then one store 10 miles away says they have one! How the heck did the one local store tell me none were available at all? I go to the AT&T store in Mission Viejo's store near Ladera Ranch and wham-bam after telling them on the phone to hold their ONE battery in stock for me. The sales counter guy was cool enough to switch out the battery, have me sign the replacement slip and I'm outta there. No service at two stores and the phone customer service was horrible. It goes to show if you need to do something, do it yourself even when it's somebody's else's job.

AT&T Wireless Cellular + Customer Service = FAIL

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

MOTW Rant: Orange County Performing Arts Center and Phantom of the Opera- 5/6/08

After reading "Meatball Sundae" the marketing analysis book that got me all rev'd up I decided to chuck in a rant I have recently had at the Costa Mesa location of the Orange County Performing Arts Center when I purchased tickets to the Phantom of the Opera play. A complaint follows.
I made the purchase for the Phantom in late 2007 in anticipation for the play to arrive in March 2008 as a present to Mrs. Monster. I made the purchase online the very first day they became available so I could score two front row tickets to a Saturday performance. I ponied up the cash and anticipated being near the performance. As a person who rarely goes to plays, I have seen a good amount these last few years.

At the OCPAC we recently saw Rent, Chicago and now Phantom.
Just a month before the play I get a call from the box office saying that the first few rows of seats were not being offered since the stage was going to be extended for the performance, so the tickets I purchased several months in advance were not going to be offered. I was given a selection of seats available for my performance date. None were in the front, actually they were in the middle section.

I was aghast that I was not offered a more comparable seat nor discount for my purchase or even future purchases. I did not break any rules or regulations, and now they offer me subpar seats at the same price. Unfortunately I could not cancel my tickets since they were to be a gift for the birthday week of the Mrs. This is what I call a break in customer service in not appreciating a customer's purchase, an advance one at that and not keeping a promise.

I expect better treatment as a paying customer and will rue the day if I have to select another engagement at the Orange County Performing Arts Center.

Orange County Performing Arts Center + Customer Service = FAIL

Friday, May 2, 2008

Movie Review: Iron-Man- 5/2/08

Comments: Just saw it, pretty good movie. The non-Iron Man scenes were pretty standard to me, but the IM action sequences were fun and exciting. Seeing IM in action against the terrorist as they're attacking families was my favorite scene. In comparison to the other previous Marvel movies, I say it's up there with Spider-Man, X2, and Hulk (I'm one of the few who liked Lee's version).

I liked the comedy used that it didn't try and go overboard. My one nitpick of the movie is how Stane was able to pilot and knock IM around so easily after strapping on the Iron Monger suit for the first time without any training. Still, it's a comic book movie and it was fun. Now going to look forward to both the new Batman, Hulk, and Indy movies.

Score: 3.5 out of 5

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