Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Jason Statham is Hot. The End.

Oh Jason Statham. You cannot go wrong if you need a random movie if you pick one with Jason Statham. Please refer to my other post with a great top 10 list on why he is oh-so-great!

Wow ... sorry ... gotta snap out of my daze there. I got a little distracted googling photos of Statham. Anyway, stopped at a Red Box tonight for Random Movie Tuesday. Look look look ... and what do I come across? Random Statham movie ... Blitz. Never heard of it, but who cares. He's in it.

Turns out the movie is not that bad for an action movie. UK release with US DVD. Statham is a copy with an attitude and an issue with violence. There is a cop killer out there taking out his fellow officers one by one in a blitz, and Statham is (obviously) going to stop him. He is going to drive crazy, jump walls, beat people up and generally act like the bad@$$ that he so totally is. The movie actually is not that bad. As per usual, if you are looking for an action movie to pass the time, you can't go wrong with Statham.

Those brooding expressions. That deep voice. Great British slang vocabulary. And oh that bone structure. Sigh.

Monday, August 29, 2011

I Need Your Opinion ... 406Photography Watermark Design

Hey there ...

Working on a new look for 406Photography!!! Updating some things, upgrading some others. As part of this, I am reworking the watermark. Came up with a bunch of different ideas and tweaks tonight and I want YOUR opinion!!! Would mean a lot to me if you could drop a comment with your favorite. I definitely have mine at this point, but want to see if others agree!

Here is a small cheat sheet of the 10 looks that developed as I was working. Some are stronger than others and my favorite is buried in there. These are not numbered in any particular order! As you can tell, they are all in various shades of greys and whites with varying opacity. These elements will vary (but stay within the same general family) depending on the colors/tones of the photo receiving the watermark. Except for the red ... which would clearly remain red throughout.

Let me know your thoughts! I really really appreciate it!

Below is the same photo each with a sample watermark to see "the look".

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Testing 1, 2, 3 ... Out at Calhoun with the 50mm

Brushing up on my photo skills for a wedding this weekend. Took out a 50mm lens to Calhoun tonight to get my photo practice on. Loving the lens ... great in low light and will be really nice for portraits. Takes some very nice photos.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Sneak Peak Movie Review: Contagion

I will say, as soon as I got out of the theater I dug the Purel out of my bag and applied a substantial amount to my hands. Yeah ... the movie definitely scared me. I'm going to be avoiding coughing people for awhile now.

Basic Premise:
There is an outbreak. A lethal airborne virus that kills within days and is spreading faster than anyone can keep up with. An international team of doctors from the CDC, WHO and local agencies work together to try and identify the unknown new virus and find a vaccine. As the virus spreads and millions die, the movie follows the lives of some of the people affected - the doctors, the politicians, those dying, and those struggling to survive - and the deteriorating society they now live in.

The cast is incredible, there is really no other way to say it:
- Matt Damon
- Mario Cotillard
- Kate Winslet
- Gwyneth Paltrow
- Jude Law
- Laurence Fishburne
- Jennifer Ehle (of BBC P&P fame ... just have to mention)

Overall, in my opinion, the movie was very good. It wound through the different characters and plot lines well and had good pacing throughout. I really liked the way the movie told the story through the number of days since the virus began spreading. Also, liked the way it looked at so many different angles and situations when (and if) something like this happens: the CDC, the individual families, the profiteers, the conspiracy theorists, the blackmailers, the scientists rushing to find a vaccine, etc. And they are all well integrated into this scary and well-acted and well-directed film. Additionally, I really liked the ending - it seemed like it really tied everything up nicely and allowed some closure. Well done Steven Soderbergh. Oh ... also really liked how the movie didn't go over my head at all times. Yes they use some technical terms and science-speak ... but they do a good job of integrating in explanations to help us normal folk understand what the heck is going on!

Side note - you don't often see Minneapolis in the movies, but in this one my fair city takes center stage as one of the metropolitan areas first hit by the virus as a woman comes back from a business trip to Hong Kong. Although, it is odd to watch the scenes set in Minneapolis while living in Minneapolis. Ummmm ... that was definitely not MSP airport, and the intersection of Lake and Lyndale is not residential the last time I checked.

I will say, however, that the film does start a bit slow and the pacing is fairly slow throughout, but it works. Additionally, there are definitely some gaps (society in chaos ... yet services still seem to be working), but overall it all works well together. Good movie with strong acting and a well-integrated and interesting plot.

Contagion opens national September 9th.

Travel Tuesday: Bonjour Paris!

So ... I have been a bit of a slacker in the blogging department since I returned from Switzerland ... ooops. Thing is, I have really been focused on working out in the evenings and getting outside as much as possible, spending time with friends (especially before school starts), and going to middle-of-the-week preview nights for upcoming movies. So ... that has left previous little time for blogging. Combine that with super busy weekends and you get the idea - little time for blogging. I hope to redeem myself though.

First step ... reinstating Travel Tuesday which I have missed for like five weeks. In my own defence though, I got a new computer and have not yet had a chance to get my photo drive hooked up and so don't have acccess to the photos. And obviously, what good is a travel entry without the photos?!?!?! Uh ... none.

But here we are, back with blogging. Today's destination ... Paris! Been thinking a lot about Paris lately. I have been there a few times, but one of the best was my senior year at university when we went for a week. This was already by third visit, and I was there for a full week and it was October and not-touristy, so it really gave me a chance to really enjoy the city and really take it in as much as possible. I was mostly by myself during the day as well, which means that I was able to set my own pace and do just exactly what I wanted, when I wanted.

And what I wanted was EVERYTHING. I went crazy. Bought a metro pass for the week and spent every waking hour walking, taking photos, visiting churches, going to out-of-the-way museums and eating pastries. I mean seriously ... I shut down the Louvre ... litterally. They had to shoo me out of the galleries after closing!

It was on that trip though that I decided I want to live in Paris for atleast 6 months sometime before I am 40 (preferably 30). Paris is just one of those cities that you can enjoy from a holiday, but to truly appreciate, you need to live there and activly particpate in the lifestyle. And I want to do that. I want to learn French and sit in cafes and write and walk and ... oh ... everything.

It was a perfect trip, and I look back on that experience very fondly. Took a lot of great photos, but if I started posting my favorites from that trip, well, that would be A LOT! So instead, I am posting these. After I got back, I spent one evening having fun with photoshop and some iconic Parisian locals. These images were the result. These are NOT typical of what I would do ... but I think they are pretty fun!!! Enjoy ... and Bonjour Paris!!! (that comes from the movie Funny Face ... in case you didn't know)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Budget Travel: Are Quick Trips Abroad Worth the Travel Time?

This question came up from a Budget Travel article I was reading today.
Budget Travel: Are Quick Trips Worth the Travel Time?

My answer: a define and resounding yes!

Ok ... yes ... if the price is right and the stars are aligned. Normally I would say that depending on the airfare or time of year or vacation time I have left, 1-2 weeks is pretty standard and you can get the most out of your airfare. But if a great opportunity comes up ... why the hell not!?!?! Perfect example:
  • Amsterdam - 7 hour direct flight from MSP. You can arrive there fresh right in the morning and the city is small. You can do a long weekend just walking and enjoying the city ... 3 days is perfect if you have already been.
  • London - 6 hour direct flight. Again ... if you have been before and just want to get away for 4 days or so and the flights are cheap (hasn't happened recently) and you have a friend to stay with ... why not?
  • Paris - same story.
  • Reyjavik - fly in, go to the Blue Lagoon and enjoy some spa treatments, crash in the city, take an organized day tour or two to some of the surrounding natural spots like the geysers or waterfalls. Perfect for 4 or 5 days to really enjoy some fresh air.
  • Ireland - fly into Dublin and get in a car and just drive. Stay at little bed and breakfast spots ... perfect.
Basically, there are a few criteria for making a short trip abroad worth it:
  • Reasonable flight costs - generally this means flying NOT in the summer ...
  • A place to crash - this especially is great if you have friends or family to stay with and keep costs down
  • A place you've been before - it is tough to really enjoy Paris in 4 days if that is your first visit. But if it is your third ... you can just enjoy. No worries over museums and tours and sightseeing ... you can just walk the streets and get lost. This applies to all cities.

All in all, I think you take what you can get when you can get it! If everything works out ...why the hell not. Enjoy. Life is short ... so get as many passport stamps as you can.


  1. to switch off (aparato); to disconnect (lĂ­nea); to unplug (desenchufar)
  2. to forget about one's worries (aislarse, olvidarse)desconectarse de algo -> to shut something out, to forget (about) something
Been thinking a lot about Barcelona lately. Thoughts of doing my international program for my MBA has me thinking about undergrad and my great semester abroad in BCN. Those were some of the best months of my life. Truly desconectarse. Days and weeks and months of pure joy and life and enjoyment. Young and free and in Europe. I miss Barcelona. I miss long walks and museums and runs on the beach. I miss the food and the people. I miss the life. I miss the way I was when I was there.

A Few Recent Movies: The Help, One Day, and Something Borrowed

Great book turned into a great movie. Viola, Bryce, Octavia ... all incredible actresses who did a great job in their respective roles. Overall, a success with heart and spirit. I will say, I love Emma Stone, but this is not my favorite role for her. She did very well in it, but I liked her better in Crazy, Stupid, Love and Easy A.

I knew that ending was coming the whole time ... it was inevitable. But that did not make it any less harsh or abrupt when it finally did happen. No matter how much I like Anne Hathaway, it did not help this movie. It just didn't work unfortunately, the whole film was just lacking rhythm and ... something. Not sure what ... but something.

Horrible. Terrible. And was there enough Heineken product placement? Seriously ... what did they spend on this? Kate Hudson is so bad, honestly. She needs to grow up and stop doing these kinds of movies. Really, nothing good about this except the fact that Ginnifer Goodwin is her always-good-girl self who you cannot help but love. And John Krasinksi adds some much needed comic relief and one-liners against Hudson that you just want to thank him profusely for.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

MIA Third Thursday: Art Perchance

Another fabulous Third Thursday event at the MIA. Great crowd today and everyone got to enjoy one of the last events outdoors before the cold comes in. Today was the annual Art Perchance event. Really really fun with a chance to take home some great art! Local artists donate pieces and then there is a silent auction as well as drawing. You can buy the tickets - 5 for $20 - or win them by playing some of the fun games. Either way ... drop them in the buckets by your favorite paintings/sketches/photos ... and you could win!!!!

And we did in fact win! We spent $40 and took home this great sketch! Really really liked this one! And we have a really great papier mache sculpture of two horses that will look great with this!

Events like this are much more fun if you have a stake in it, so the $40 was totally worth it to get involved and enjoy the fun! The MIA just does such a good job!

While we waited for the drawings, we played some of the great art-themed games. Bowling for Brancusi. Olive Bowling. Wheel of Dada. Fishing for Dali. All great fun with great prizes. Hello? Who doesn't want to sport a fabulous Dali mustache!!!!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Daily Rant: Stupid People at the Gym

So ... girl walks into a gym barefoot ...

No, this is not the start of a joke, it is what really happened while I was finishing up my workout at my apartment gym today. So, I did 1 hour on the elliptical and then ran for half an hour on the treadmill, then did some reps on various lower body weight machines. The gym closed at 8 at my office, so I went home. But ... I had about 110 pages left in my book that I wanted to finish. 110 pages is just about 1 hour for me. So ... I headed from my parking spot straight to the building gym where I got back on the stationary bike for one more hour to finish my book.

First 45 minutes went by very well. Then they came.

Girl walks in in shorts and barefoot. Guy walks in with her in t-shirts, jeans and socks. Seriously ... barefoot, and socks. Ok, whatever. Community gym.

So ... they both get on the treadmill and rev up the machines to about 7. Yes, still either barefoot or in socks. Girl runs for EXACTLY 45 SECONDS and then proceeds to jump off!!! WTF?!?!?! She goes over to the multi-purpose weight machine while the guy keeps running for an additional 3 whole minutes. Regular marathon runner over there.

So, girl starts getting on the machine and setting the weights and doing various things. She starts with the leg press, which she proceeds to let SLAM back down every single friggin' time it goes down! Every ... single ... TIME! So they have been in the room for 5 minutes and are driving me crazy. Finally, guy gets off treadmill after his super intense workout. Now that the treadmill noise has stopped, I think maybe the girl cannot hear the weights slamming because her music is turned up SOOOOOO loud that she is made deaf by it. Seriously, I can hear every single word of profanity coming from her headphones, and she is across the room.

So for the next 10 minutes, they both proceed to (very incorrectly) use the machines - while still barefoot or in jeans and socks. They have no idea how to use the settings or what weights are appropriate or how to USE them. And yes, let's grab the 50 pound free weights and do bicep curls. Because 2 whole curls makes it totallllllly worth it!

So I finally get off the bike and my mind is rattling with the sound of slamming weights. I feel so bad ... my 2.5 hour cardio workout for the day feels so pathetic compared to their efforts. Booo.

I'm sorry ... but seriously? Some people ...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Sneak Peak Movie Review: 50/50

Where do I even begin. 50/50 is one of the best movies I have seen in a long time. No exaggeration. This is just a good movie - no pomp and circumstance, no fancy marketing, no promotional tie-ins - just film-making at its best!

The film opens September 30th ... go see it!

Basic Story:
Adam has cancer. And he has a 50/50 chance of making it. The film is a witty and emotional story of survival, relationships and love.

That is the IMDB synopsis. But the movie is so much more than that. It makes you laugh out loud right after you have just cried. It makes you smile, and makes you think, and makes you happy and sad all at the same time. Everything about the movie is great - from the acting to the script to the timing to the cinematography to the direction. Wow. I haven't seen a movie with this many good everythings in awhile. Definitely the best film of the year ... since The King's Speech in December.

The actors. Great great cast. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anna Kendrick, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Anjelica Huston. Godon-Levitt is perfect in the role, bringing to live this character with so many emotions buried below the surface. It's really hard to explain, but he is this character that is so deep and so full of thoughts and feelings, but he has this calm facade, yet you can see and feel everything simmering right below. Then there is Rogen who is just as silly and funny as ever, acting the perfect role of the jackass friend right to the end. He adds some well-placed comic relief into a very dark and scary subject matter. Anna Kendrick is the perfect awkward 24-year-old therapist-in-training treating her 3rd ever patient - and she really doesn't know what she is doing. But she is cute and awkward and talks too much when she gets nervous ... just like in all her other movies. Turns out that is just how she is ... but it totally works for her and it especially works here. This entire cast of actors who are seemingly so different work so perfectly and so fluidly together. It just all works ... they all work seamlessly.

Then there is the script and the direction and the timing. Yet again, fluid and seamless. Especially the little bits of comedy interspersed throughout - they are perfectly placed.

I feel like I am just repeating myself, but just trust me when I say, I highly recommend you see this movie! It is a great example of incredible acting, moving storyline, great direction ... basically, what good film-making is all about.

So see it ... please ...

T-Mobile Royal Wedding Video

Can't believe I had not seen this before ... made me chuckle!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

5 Things About Final Destination 5

First of all ... don't judge me ... it was a free screening and I only went dragging my feet!

But none-the-less ... now that I have (sort of) seen it, I gotta comment. So, 5 fun tidbits about Final Destination 5:
  1. The acting and storyline were just incredible - such wit and intelligence! I particularly enjoyed Tom Cruise's role in the movie. Wait ... what? That wasn't Tom Cruise? Are you sure? He dressed like Tom. And swaggered like Tom. And talked like Tom. And acted like Tom. Seriously? Not Tom? Damn.
  2. Great use of 3D - because I really enjoy watching deadly objects fly at my face (the few times my eyes were open).
  3. I'll admit ... my eyes were closed about half the time. I only watched the suspenseful in-between scenes filled with drama, romance and angst! Then when things started going bad, closed went my eyes! Really funny though to listen to sounds in the theater when the death scenes took place. Because, you know, it takes the victims a few tries to really die. So you hear the audience first go "ooo" than "eeek" then perhaps an "ohhhhhh" followed by one more "uuuuhhh". Then, went those suspensful not-fully-dead moments are over, you finally hear the final bang/pop/crack/boom/buzz/etc from the screen and then the audience starts to giggle and laugh. Yes, giggle and laugh. And I can open my eyes again!
  4. Great use of 3D in the previews. And thank you for making them last like 10 minutes. Just name after name of E-list actors you could have been making up for all I knew with stuff exploding from the screen at me. I suppose you gotta really get everyone in on the upfront credits since NO ONE will stay to watch them roll at the end. Except maybe to find out if it was Tom Cruise for real.
  5. The ending was actually pretty good ... tied things together up with a pretty little bow ... so or I assume. I never really saw the other ones.

P.S. Thank goodness there are still good actors/directors/writers out there that bring better things than this to the screen. I need to see a good movie STAT this weekend to redeem my faith in motion-picture-kind. Help ... here I come!

P.P.S. If you at any point read the above 5 points and missed the ironic tone/thought I was serious ... that's just sad.

I Repeat: U2 360 Concert Post is UP!!!!

So ... further down on the actual date it happened (Saturday, July 23rd) is my entry about the U2 360 concert in Minneapolis. Late ... I know. But I wanted to keep the official date stamp on it to the day of the concert!

So just a little note up here ... scroll down to see the entry on the U2 concert! (or just click here - In the City of Blinding Rain)

Soooooooo ... goooooooooooooooooooooood!!!!!

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