“You climb for the hell of it.”
~ Sir Edmund Hillary
Last year, when Nick and I went to Las Vegas, we had the absolute thrill of going outdoor rock climbing with our friend, and one of the most awesome tour guides (over at Grand Adventures in Las Vegas) ever, Erik. It was AWESOME. I had never done any kind of climbing before that (well, except for climbing trees). I had such a great time, in fact, that I went and bought my own pair of climbing shoes after our adventure. I never even got a chance to use them afterward though!
Well we have several friends that enjoy outdoor and indoor climbing, and like I said before, Ryan and Nick have gone bouldering at Planet Granite a few times (I even did a little photo shoot of Ryan the first time they went). Well today I decided it was time for me finally break in my climbing shoes, and to jump on the wall, as well!
With bouldering, you don’t use a top rope while climbing, so there are large “crash pads” on the floor to help soften the blow if and when you fall (or jump) from the wall. While I really enjoyed outdoor rock climbing with a top rope, the thought of jumping off a real rock onto a crash pad below sounds so scary! I was glad to start my bouldering experience indoors. There are routes marked with different colors of tape, and ratings for the difficulty of each route. I hopped up on my first wall – it was okay, but it still gets kinda scary as you get to the top!
That wall was a “top out” wall, where you could climb up and onto the top of it. The concept was kinda scary for my first climb, so I decided to try a few other walls and routes (with wider areas of crash pad!). Here was my second wall – up, up up:
Yay! I made it! Whew!
There were some pretty funny grips in the walls, like this telephone receiver. Hello? Is that for me?
And here’s some video and some time-lapse photography of a few climbs:
I had fun bouldering for the first time. It’s like a big playground or jungle gym for grown-ups (kids can use some of the walls, too, but there are some areas that are supposed to be “14+ only”). It’s neat seeing people staring at the wall, trying to figure out what route to take to get up. There are a lot more challenging routes, and like I said in the previous post about bouldering, there’s even a ramp to the second floor, with a bouldering wall hanging above it (for the daring and experienced only!)! I’ll be back. Next time, I’ll “top out,” too!
The Avengers is coming to American theaters next week, and we wanted to be fully up to speed on all the Marvel characters that would be tearing up the screen together. I had seen the Iron Man movies, but hadn’t seen the three others (Hulk, Captain America, and Thor), so we decided what better way to catch up than to screen a Marvel Movie Marathon?
We started with Iron Man:
Iron Man was released in 2008 and stars Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, the genius heir to Stark Industries, a company that builds, among other things, military weapons. In the beginning of the movie, Stark is captured by a terrorist group and told that he must build a bomb for them. He instead builds the first generation of the Iron Man suit as a means of escape. When he realizes that it is Stark weaponry that the terrorists are using, he decides he wants to get out of the weapons manufacturing business. Gwyneth Paltrow plays his personal assistant and voice of reason, Pepper Pots; Terrence Howard plays Tony’s friend and the military liaison to Stark Industries, James Rhodes; and Jeff Bridges plays Tony’s father, Howard Stark‘s partner and old friend, Obadiah Stane.
We continued the Marvelthon with Iron Man 2:
Iron Man 2 was released in 2010, with Robert Downey Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow returning in their roles as Tony Stark and Pepper Pots, and the movie is supposed to take place six months after the end of Iron Man 2. The military is fighting with Stark over the Iron Man suit, saying it’s a weapon and it should be turned over to them, but Tony has so far been able to keep control of his invention. Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, an angry Ivan Vanko (played by Mickey Rourke), whose father collaborated with Stark Industries before he was fired and deported back to the Soviet Union, has developed a similar suit based on Stark’s technology, and plans to take down Stark for ruining the lives of his father and his family. Don Cheadle plays the role of James Rhodes in the Iron Man sequel, and Natalie Rushman/ Natasha Romanoff (played by Scarlett Johansson) is introduced: an undercover S.H.I.E.L.D. agent posing as an assistant to Stark.
Next was The Incredible Hulk:
The Incredible Hulk was released in 2008, after Iron Man, and starred Edward Norton as Dr. Bruce Banner. We really should have watched this between Iron Man 1 and 2, as it was supposed to happen between the two on the Marvel timeline, similarly to how the movies came out in theaters. The story basically has Dr. Banner as a part of a military experiment, trying to resurrect the “super soldier project” using gamma radiation. When the experiment goes awry, he’s forced to flee and try to stay hidden, and try to learn ways to keep the monster (the Hulk) from emerging. He wants to get rid of the gamma poisoning that creates this double identity, but the military, and General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross (William Hurt) just want to capture him so they can study him and try to make more super soldiers, if they can get the experiment right. Liv Tyler plays Betty Ross, Bruce’s girlfriend before the accident, and General Ross’ daughter.
After The Hulk, it was on to Thor:
Thor premiered in the US in May of 2011, and stars Chris Hemsworth as Thor, strong-headed son of Odin (played by Anthony Hopkins), and heir to the throne of Asgard. When, against his father’s command, he confronts a leader of the Frost Giants for breaking a truce agreement, a battle breaks out and Odin has to exert his power and the worlds are plummeted into further unrest. Because of his arrogance, Odin banishes him to Earth, stripped of his powers, accompanied only by his hammer Mjolnir (the source of his power) which Odin has cast a spell on to allow only the worthy to be able to lift it. Tom Hiddleston plays Thor’s brother Loki, and Thor’s love interest (Jane Foster) is played by Natalie Portman.
Last but not least, we watched Captain America – The First Avenger:
Captain America was released in 2011, and stars Chris Evans as Steve Rogers, a scrawny man who gets denied placement in the military time and time again. When he’s finally let in, it’s because he’s being scoped out to be the perfect test subject for the military’s “super soldier” program. He becomes Captain America, and has to defeat Red Skull and the organization that has plans for world domination using the “Tesseract“. Tommy Lee Jones plays Col. Chester Phillips, a part of the super soldier project, Hugo Weaving plays Johann Schmidt / Red Skull, and Hayley Atwell plays Peggy Carter, a Strategic Scientific Reserve officer and Captain America’s love interest. Other notable Marvel characters in this story include Howard Stark (played by Dominic Cooper), Tony Stark/Iron Man’s father, the creator of Stark Industries, Dr. Abraham Erskine, creator of the “Super Soldier Serum” (played by Stanley Tucci), and Sgt. James “Bucky” Barnes, Steve Rogers’ best friend, played by Sebastian Stan.
These movies are all so much fun. While I know many people have watched them, I didn’t want to give away too much information for the people who haven’t. I’m glad we got to have this refresher on the movies we’d already seen, and that I was able to see the ones I hadn’t before. I always like to be up to speed on a film that has plot lines or characters from other films in it, whether it’s a sequel, or something new and different like The Avengers. The movie looks like it’s going to be a smash-hit, so if you haven’t seen all of these films, you really should! Assemble your friends, make some popcorn, and get into the Marvel Universe!
Iron Man [Blu-ray]
Iron Man [DVD] (Single-Disc Edition)
Iron Man 2 (Three-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy)
Iron Man 2 [DVD] (Single-Disc Edition)
The Incredible Hulk [Blu-ray]
The Incredible Hulk [DVD]
Captain America: The First Avenger (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy)
Captain America: The First Avenger [DVD]
Thor (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy)
“Communism was just a red herring.”
~ Ms. Scarlet or Mrs. Peacock OR Wadsworth [depending on the ending], “Clue“
Never played the board game, never watched the movie. I know to some people, neither is a big deal, but for a kid growing up in the 80’s and 90’s it was crazy that I had never done either. And they both went on the list as separate items, because that’s how important they were. It’s like someone of my generation never seeing The Karate Kid … by the way, if you’ve never seen that movie, you need to go and watch it right now.
The comedy/mystery movie “Clue” was released in 1985, and it had an all-star cast, including Tim Curry, Eileen Brennan, Martin Mull, Lesley Ann Warren, Christopher Lloyd, Michael McKean, Madeline Kahn, Colleen Camp, and Lee Ving. It was based on the board game, with the same suspects, the same weapons, and even the same rooms all being featured in the film.
The “suspects” from the game are all sent mysterious letters, inviting them to dinner at a mansion in the hills. They are given aliases, and all arrive not knowing exactly why they are there. They are greeted by Wadsworth, the butler (Tim Curry), and we learn of their aliases as they arrive. Eventually it is revealed that the thing that everyone invited has in common is that they’re each being blackmailed, and all by the same person, who they previously didn’t know the identity of. There is even an envelope presented containing damning evidence on each of the guests.
Wadsworth reveals that the blackmailer is in fact the guest Mr. Boddy (Lee Ving). Wadsworth informs everyone that he’s called the police, and that the house is locked – Mr. Boddy can’t escape, and the group can now turn him in for blackmailing them (it is later learned that Wadsworth was also a victim of blackmailing, and this was his plan to bring Boddy to justice). Mr. Boddy tells the dinner guests that if they turn him in, he can tell their secrets to the police … he hands out the contents of a box he has brought with him: a rope, a candlestick, a gun, a knife, a wrench, and a lead pipe – one to each of the guests – and he says if someone kills Wadsworth, they can all keep their secrets. At this point, the lights go out and there is panic and confusion. The gun is fired. When the lights come on again, Mr. Boddy is dead on the floor. Whodunnit?! The rest of the film is a roller coaster of insanity as the guests try to figure out what happened, and as other people are introduced to the story. At the conclusion, there are actually three different endings to the film. When it was released in theaters, you only got to see one ending, depending on what screening you were watching. On the DVD, you can see all three, or you can have a random one played. Awesome!
This movie was tons of fun. Although I was a little confused as to how it relates to the game with the exception of the use of the names, I realized that really is the main relationship – the characters, weapons, and rooms are the same, and the movie is built around that. The story is completely its own, and it’s hilarious. Tim Curry is fantastically frantic, the characters are wacky and larger than life, and the humor is classic 80’s. I really enjoyed this one. If you haven’t watched “Clue” or if it’s been a while since you have, it’s totally worth a watch. There’s also a remake in the works that’s supposed to be released next year!
“Why do ninjas wear those f*ing masks? I mean, they do it to disguise themselves, but they’re Japanese guys. They all look the same!”
~ Bobby Lee
After playing Clue for the first time last night, we stayed up late hanging out and watching TV. We started talking about different comedians, and our conversation turned to the few prominent comedians who are minorities. Aziz Ansari (currently on Parks and Recreation), and Ken Jeong (currently on Community) were the two that came to mind as having steady TV jobs right now. Margaret Cho had her own sit-com a while ago, but it wasn’t very popular – partly because the show was based on the goings-on in Margaret’s “Korean-American” family (cast members were of different Asian ethnicities), which probably didn’t resonate with the majority of the American viewing population. There were stories of producers telling Cho at times that she was “too Asian” and at other times that she was “not Asian enough” – so crazy! I think America just wasn’t ready for a show about an Asian-American family.
Then, Ryan told us about “The Kims of Comedy” – a standup comedy show produced in 2006 and staring Korean comedians Bobby Lee, Kevin Shea, Steve Byrne, and Dr. Ken Jeong. Yeah, DOCTOR Ken Jeong. Did you know that Ken Jeong was a practicing medical physician for seven years before he landed his breakout movie roll in “Knocked Up“? No wonder he played his doctor character so well! A great article by the Washington Post was written last year about his journey from physician to comedian where he talks about fulfilling his parent’s wishes for a stable job in becoming a doctor, but moonlighting as a stand-up comic, what he went through during the years of this “double-life”, how his family has intersected with his career and how comedy has helped him deal with tough times.
So, early early early this morning, we watched “The Kims of Comedy” – hilarious name for this all-Korean show. The jokes were not all about being Asian, but of course for us, those were just too funny. I was so pleased to see an all-Asian production like this put together. Our friend Aaron often laments at the lack of Asian entertainers in the limelight, and I agree, but I think something that hinders most Asians – particularly in the arena of entertainment – is that culturally, we are taught to not bring attention to ourselves, to be humble (almost to a fault), and to avoid the spotlight. So while this was just one show, and it was done a while ago, I was still very pleasantly surprised it was produced, and it would be awesome to see more like this.
Just a warning: This is a comedy show – I did not say it was a clean one – Asians can get crazy too, ya know …
The Kims of Comedy DVD