Wednesday, December 30, 2015

"If people were rain, I was drizzle and she was a hurricane"

Looking For Alaska

It is becoming somewhat of a yearly tradition that I wrap up the year with a John Green book. Last December I read Paper Towns in anticipation of the movie, which I still have to watch!, and earlier this year I decided that Looking For Alaska (2005) would by this year's reread. Looking For Alaska is Green's first book. It won the Michael L. Printz Award in 2006, but didn't break into the New York Times best seller list until 2012, more than seven years after it was released. I have to admit that I was keenly unaware of John Green's genius, too, until I discovered Tumblr a couple of years ago and simply couldn't circumvent the plenty quotes of and religious adoration for the 38-year-old Nerdfather out of Indiana. Looking For Alaska is by No. 2 favorite book by him, after TFiOS.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

In the Heart of the Sea

In The Heart of the Sea

On Sunday I watched In the Heart of the Sea (2015) by Hollywood Walk of Famer Ron Howard, whom you may also remember from making EDtv, The Da Vinci Code and of course the impeccable Bryce Dallas-Howard, perhaps his finest accomplishment. Since we received compensatory tickets from Kinepolis for the botched MJ2 viewing, which is nice, but I couldn't convince my siblings to watch The Martian, which is why we decided to have a whale of a good time watching Thor Chris Hemsworth instead. I honestly didn't know much about the movie, so I was completely in the dark and could only let it was over me. We watched In the Heart... in 3D, which I am not really a fan of, and I thought that it was wasted a bit here. More on that later.

Monday, December 28, 2015

"When you think you have done enough, do a little more, because someone out there is working harder than you"


I just finished reading When The Game Was Ours (2010) by Larry Bird and Magic Johnson (and Jackie MacMullan). Somehow I had forgotten that the book existed, but when I stumbled upon it making my Christmas list, I didn't think twice about ordering the intertwined memoir. As you may or may not know, I am somewhat of a Celtics fan (evidenced here), with Hall of Fame forward Larry Bird aka The Hick From French Lick my No. 1 Celtic of all time. The undeniable skills, the trash talk, the court vision, the shooting prowess, the work ethic, the fuzzy moustache ... Larry Legend aka The Great White Hope is basketball. I couldn't wait to learn more about Bird and of course his heated rivalry with eternal adversary Earvin "Magic" Johnson and the Showtime Lakers.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens


Earlier this week me and my colleagues went to check out Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015), the seventh installment in the main Star Wars series and the first one since Episode III: Revenge of the Sith in 2005. It is also the first movie released under Disney -- you probably remember the gargantuan $4 billion-plus deal The Walt Disney Co. struck with Lucasfilm late in 2012 -- and the first of the new trilogy. Directed, co-produced and co-written by Fringe co-creator/Star Wars superfan J.J. Abrams, the successor of Lucas is tasked with resurrecting the one megafranchise to rule them all. Will he succeed? Well, you know what Yoda said about merely trying.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Sunday, December 13, 2015

"In my whole life nothing will ever mean more to me"

Judy Blume - Forever

I just finished reading Forever (1975) by New Jersey-born writer Judy Blume. The book came recommended to me via Bol.com's algorithm and instantly grabbed my attention, so I didn't think twice about ordering it and eased through it this weekend. Since Forever deals with teenage sexuality, the book has apparently been subjected to great censorship and was actually banned from a lot of schools, with a bulk of the criticism coming from relgious groups and pro-abstinence groups. Forever even takes up the No. 8 slot on the American Library Association's 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-2000. The Scary Stories series by Alvin Schwartz is No. 1, by the way.

Everest

Everest movie

Last night I checked out Everest (2015) by Icelandic director Baltasar Kormákur. The high-altitude survival adventure came heavily recommended by my hulking colleague Philippe, a movie savant if anything, but somehow it had slipped through the cracks. No more! Watching it a my sister's place yesterday, I found myself constantly gasping for air, almost as if I was climbing the Everest myself. The sweeping vistas, beautiful aerial photography and visually stunning imagery provide one of those rare immersive experiences definitely worth your time. Everest is based on the real events of the 1996 Mount Everest disaster, when eight people got caught in a blizzard during attempts to ascend or descend from the summit.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Sunday, November 29, 2015

The five coolest vehicles in the Jurassic Park franchise

Jurassic Park vehicles
Lark on my go kart
The Jurassic Park franchise is perhaps the greatest and most awesome movie franchise e-ver. And not just because Steven Spielberg and his crew made dinosaurs real again. The movies feature plenty of iconic moments and sequences, all of which combined make JP an almost religious experience for casual moviegoers and aficionados alike. 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Good Dinosaur

The Good Dinosaur

I love my brother's job. Yesterday marked the second time that he scored premiere invitations for me and Sarah, this time for Pixar's The Good Dinosaur. It's a public secret that I'm somewhat of a dino enthusiast, so I was of course over the moon to be able to watch Arlo's emotional adventure. A good minute of the trailer was enough to convince me that The Good Dino was very much going to be worth my while.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Monday, October 12, 2015

"Come not between the dragon and his wrath"

The Great Zoo of China by Matthew Reilly

It is no secret that I like dinos. Which is why I'm very glad Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park is as rereadable as it gets, Spielberg's movie adaptation is the most rewatchable dino flick out there AND that Universal breathed new life into the franchise earlier in the year with Jurassic World. My hunger for more JP brought me Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World and Robert T. Bakker's Raptor Red, but after devouring those there was a dinosaur-sized void in my life. When I stumbled upon and thumbed through The Great Zoo of China (2014) by Australian author Matthew Reilly, I was hooked in an instant. Especially since the author openly admits that he was inspired by Jurassic Park.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Avengers: Age of Ultron

Avengers: Age of Ultron (Josh Whedon)

This weekend I watched Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) with my brother and sister. I had meant to watch it a lot sooner, but somehow nothing came of it. Which is a shame, really, because the trailer had really struck a chord with me (The creepy song! Hulkbuster! The cool slowmo's!) and promised great things. And then of course there's the amazingly beautiful Elizabeth Holsen who makes an appearance as Wanda Maximoff aka Scarlet Witch. I'm not going to lie, she's absolutely adorbs!

The Intern

The Intern 2015 by Nancy Meyers
So you're on Facebook, eh?
On Friday I watched The Intern (2015) with my bottom girl Sarah. We didn't really know what was playing, but we decided to turn Decathlon run into a full-fledged cinema date. I have to admit that I was a little weary about our choice - I have had a bad experience with an internship-based movie before - but you can never go wrong with a bit of Robert De Niro (Meet The Fockers, Limitless, Silver Linings Playbook) and Anne Hathaway has certainly grown on me over the years, despite Anne Hathaway Syndrome. I can't lie: her rendition of Miley Cyrus' "Wrecking Ball' on Lip Sync Battle had a lot to do with that. Major props to her for totally killing it.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

2015-2016 NBA Offseason winners: San Antonio Spurs


2014-2015 record: 55-27

You have to hand it to the Spurs -- they're by far the smartest and most consistently competitive franchise in the NBA. The team built around Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker has won 50+ games for 16 years straight, and it appears that they'll smoothly transition from one Big Three to another and remain on top for years to come. Sure, Gregg Popovich's troops washed out against the LA Clippers in the first round last season, but they won the NBA title the year before that and should be right in the mix in 2015-2016. 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

2015-2016 NBA Offseason winners: Minnesota Timberwolves

Karl-Anthony Towns & Andrew Wiggins
Things are looking up
2014-2015 record: 16-66

The Minnesota Timberwolves finished dead last in the league last year, grabbing a mere 16 wins as they failed for the third time in six season to crack the 20-win mark. In all fairness, the Wolves looked as though they might win 30 games, but then injures decimated their roster and the wheels went off the buzz. There was a silver lining to all the losing, however, with the team earning the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft, selecting 6-foot-11 Kentucky big man Karl-Anthony Towns. He joins Rookie of the Year Andrew Wiggins, last year's No. 1 overall pick, as team president Flip Saunders is piecing together a perennial powerhouse.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials
Hope is a dangerous thing
What a time to be alive! Just one year + one day after 20th Century Fox released The Maze Runner, the franchise's second installment, The Scorch Trials, after James Dashner's book of the same title, already hit the silver screen. After a brutal week at work I was more than happy to join my Maze-crazed sister Margot, Disney-bound brother Marlon and food pornographer/girlfriend Sarah for an evening of cinema. It's the weekend - guess that's all that bloody matters anymore.

2015-2016 Offseason winners: Los Angeles Lakers

Randle & Russell
2014-2015 record: 21-61

With Kobe Bryant nearing the end of his career, you want him to finish strong. The 37-year-old future Hall of Famer, who has been limited to just 41 games over the last two seasons, is reportedly medically cleared for all basketball activities, just as his possibly final NBA season rears its head. Kobe returns to a makeshift roster with a lot of potential, but no  one of the caliber of Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard or Steve Nash. Still, with a fierce competitor like Kobe, some veterans and two young studs in tow, the Lakers should be able to churn out more than 21 wins.

Monday, September 21, 2015

2015-2016 Offseason winners: New York Knicks

Baby steps, bro
2014-2015 record: 17-65

The New York Knicks need to turn things around. In five years since acquiring superstar Carmelo Anthony from the Denver Nuggets, the team has won just one playoff series (against an ancient Celtics squad, nonetheless), failing to even qualify for the postseason in 2013-2014 and 2014-2015. Sure, they dealt themselves a bad hand with the Ama're Stoudemire signing in 2010, but with his 5-year, $100 million contract and bad knees finally out of the picture, the time for schmuck ups is over. They have four more years tied up in Melo, who has 102 million reasons to prove that he is an elite player. At 31 years old, the time is now for the Brooklyn native.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

2015 Offseason winners: Miami Heat


2014-2015 record: 37-45

Just two years ago the Miami Heat had LeBron James on their roster, finishing with a 54-28 record and attempting a 3-peat against the San Antonio Spurs. What a difference a year makes. Last year LeBron decided to return to Cleveland which, compounded by injuries to Chris Bosh and Josh McRoberts, resulted in the Heat missing the playoffs altogether. To add insult to injury, Dwyane Wade elected to become a free agent at the end of the year, seeking a handsome deal or threatening to take his services elsewhere, and in-season acquisition Goran Dragic also was a free agent. Things could have gotten ugly in South Beach, but Pat Riley came out on top.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

2015 Offseason winners: Milwaukee Bucks

Greg Monroe Milwaukee Bucks

2014-2015 record: 41-41

Just two years ago, the Milwaukee Bucks finished 15-67. They added No. 2 pick Jabari Parker, head coach Jason Kidd and a bunch of other pieces that summer, breaking even (41-41) in 2014-2015 and grabbing a #6 seed in the Eastern Conference. In a way, the team again adds a No. 2 pick to their roster. Since Parker suffered a season-ending injury early in the season, the Bucks had to make do without him for much of the campaign, and getting him back will surely provide a boost. There was no return timetable as of July, but he should be back before long.

Friday, September 18, 2015

2015 Offseason winners: Los Angeles Clippers

It has been more than three months since Stephen Curry and his Golden State Warriors clinched the NBA title. Sure, after that there was the NBA Draft and later free agency to keep us entertained but, alas, no NBA basketball. The circus starts all over again on September 26, when Training Camps open for all teams participating in preseason NBA Global Games, with all other teams following September 29. With a slew of new faces in new places, the NBA landscape is nothing like it was 12 months ago. Just like last year and the year before, I will select seven teams that I believe will take steps forward from last season.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

"Nothing endures, not a tree, not love, not even a death by violence"

John Knowles - A Separate Peace

I just finished reading A Separate Peace (1959) by American novelist John Knowles. Ranked No. 67 on Modern Library's 100 Best Novels list, Knowles' coming-of-age story became a New York Times bestseller nod and reeled in the William Faulkner Foundation Award.

"What you wand and what you get don't always make a set"

William Gay - The Long Home

This week I read The Long Home (1999) by American author William Gay. I stumbled upon the book via Tumblr and I immediately bought it for the cover alone. And I'm glad that I did. Not only because #TLH was a captivating read, which it most certainly was, but also for the film adaptation my spirit animal/perpetual squinter/all-around nice guy James Franco will be starring in in 2017. Since I'm kind of a hipster about reading the book before the movie comes out, I am of course very excited that for once I arrived to the party early. 

"In the act of tearing something apart, you lose its meaning"

Malcolm Gladwell - Blink

Last year I read Outliers (2008) by Malcolm Gladwell. I absolutely loved how he tackled the topic of "success" and debunked the many myths around it. When I stumbled upon Blink (2005), Gladwell's second book, in Barcelona, I didn't hesitate to scoop it up. In the book he pits snap judgments against carefully planned and considered decisions. 

"Every product, every service, every feature and every benefit is open for improvements"

Seth Godin - Free Prize Inside

This week in Seillans I read Seth Godin's Free Prize Inside (2004). Godin offers tons of free insights about business and marketing on his blog, but the marketer extraordinaire doesn't stop there: his ebooks, seminars and books are true gems. With Purple Cow (2003), Small is the New Big (2006) and The Dip (2007) under my belt I have read just a fraction of his bibliography, but they were all very much worth my while, and I plan on reading his other work, too. When I stumbled upon Free Prize Inside in Barcelona this July, I picked it up without hesitation.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Dinosaur 13

Dinosaur 13 by Todd Douglas Miller

Of late I've been on a serious dinosaur rampage. Thank you very much, Jurassic World! Strolling through Netflix one night, I stumbled upon Dinosaur 13 (2014), a documentary by Todd Douglas Miller about the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex ever found. Seeing how I know very little about the paleontology side of things, I decided to channel my inner Alan Grant and dig into Miller's dino doc. What better way to chip away at my lack of knowledge?

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Jurassic Park: Second cycle

Jurassic Park arrival on Isla Nublar

Jurassic Park's First Cycle leaves no doubt about it: something fishy lizardly is going on in Costa Rica. Now that the plot of the book is set in motion, Crichton introduces some characters.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Lost World: Jurassic Park

The Lost World by Steven Spielberg
Mommy's very angry
Last night I watched The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997) by Steven Spielberg. The dino disaster sequel is based loosely on Michael Crichton's The Lost World - which Spielberg himself urged Crichton to write - and returns Jeff Goldblum as Dr. Ian Malcolm, everyone's favorite chaotician, on a brand new island with supposedly extinct dinosaurs. The Lost World is often swept under the rug, but I have to admit that I always had a soft spot for it and that, while it's obviously not as good as the original, it's still very much a wortwhile sequel. It's shocking to me how much hate #TLW has gotten over the years, especially since its dark tone and fast-paced action rank it head and shoulders above JP3 (although the battle between The Lost World and Jurassic Park 3 remains a hot topic among JP fans).

Monday, August 24, 2015

"Whatever happens, don't wait for me!"

The Lost World by Michael Crichton
Too much change is as destructive is too little
Yesterday I finished reading The Lost World (1995) by Michael Crichton. After Jurassic Park became a global phenomenon in 1993, director Steven Spielberg and hordes of JP fans urged Crichton to pen a sequel. Having never written one, he declined at first, but in the end he wavered, letting it loose on the world within two years. As soon as the book was published, Spielberg started pre-production for The Lost World: Jurassic Park, using Crichton's source material loosely to craft another wortwhile dino movie. Since I'm currently rediscovering in a glorious way my love for the Jurassic Park franchise, I decided to at last check out the book sequel. JP is truly the gift that keeps on giving ...

Monday, August 17, 2015

"This spot and this family are mine"

Raptor Red by Robert T. Bakker

This weekend I read Raptor Red (1995) by Amercian paleontologist Robert T. Bakker. Since I'm going through a Jurassic Park phase, I'm trying to get my hands on every worthwhile dino book out there, with Bakker's Velociraptor adventure a great start according to many lists. As you may or may not know, Bakker served as a consultant to Steven Spielberg when he was working on Jurassic Park, ensuring that the movie's dinosaurs exhibited scientifically accurate behavior. Spielberg, however, used dramatic license when it came to some aspects, modeling his famous Velociraptor after the Deinonychus (a raptor subspecies) and making it much bigger. 

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Jurassic Park: First cycle

The Lost World - Tina - beach - compy
"I found something!"
After the Introduction and the Prologue, Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park naturally flows in the book's First Cycle, which consists of five chapters and further setting the stage for the rest of the book. Let's recap.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

What the Doctor ordered ...

Dr. Dre - Compton (a soundtrack by Dr. Dre)
Straight Outta Compton
*Ron Burgundy voice*

I interrupt Dino Month to bring your attention to Dr. Dre's latest album.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Jurassic Park III

Jurassic Park 3 (2001)

This weekend I rewatched Jurassic Park III (2001). Seeing how I'm in the middle of an epic Jurassic Park tear, it seemed only fitting to revisit all the movies. Sure, JPIII is my least favorite installment of the franchise, but it does A) mark the glorious return of Sam Neil as the awesome Dr. Alan Grant, B) introduce a new superpredator in the Spinosaurus, and C) have the terrifying aviary scene with the Pterodactyls. JPIII is the first movie in the franchise not to have been directed by Steven Spielberg, nor based on a book by Michael Crichton. It does, however, take some scenes from Crichton's Jurassic Park.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

"God bless all we leave behind us, and send us safely back"

The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

I just finished reading The Lost World (1912) by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle aka the father of Sherlock Holmes and the crime fiction genre. In The Cult of 'Jurassic Park', in which Grantland writer Bryan Curtis studies the Jurassic Park subculture, it is stated that JP is basically a reboot of Doyle's book, which, of course, immediately sparked my curiosity. Fuelled by the release of Jurassic World in June, the child in me is trying to piece together the franchise puzzle, and I figured that The Lost World was a proper place to start.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Friday, July 31, 2015

"The old life is gone forever!"

The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks

I recently read The Zombie Survival Guide (2003) by World War Z author Max Brooks. Sarah had received the fictional survival manual as a gift after watching Marc Forster's 2013 movie adaptation of the book. Since the movie instilled in her a great fear for the undead, leaving her with weeks of nightmares, she at least wanted to be prepared for when the zombie uprising takes place. I decided to take to guide with me on our trip to Barcelona, cautiously strolling through it not unlike Brad Pitt's Gerry Lane strolling down the aisle during the airplane scene, absorbing everything I possibly could. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

"People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it"

Start With Why by Simon Sinek

Last week I read Start With Why (2009) by communications expert and motivational speaker Simon Sinek. The book was recommended to me by my brolleague/Dan Bilzerian lookalike Mattias, who will soon leave the Queromedia nest to start his own business, and I was of course very curious as to why he found Sinek's ideas to inspiring. I know from talking to Mattias that he wanted his business to have a strong "raison d'être" to drive his strategies and tactics, and that this book helped him find it and formulate it explicitly. 

Monday, July 27, 2015

Ant-Man

Ant-Man (2015)

Last night Matteo 2.0 my brother Marlon invited me to a movie date. We decided to go check out the bite-size adventures Ant-Man, Marvel's latest addition to their Cinematic Universe, in no small part because I'm a big fan of Paul Rudd (The 40-Year-Old Virgin, This Is 40, Dinner For Schmucks). I had also really liked Ant-Man's Avengers-themed marketing posters, read a favorable review on DTMMR, and was quite curious to see if Marvel could turn another obscure comic-book into a box office hit.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Still fighting the power

Public Enemy Rivierenhof
Yeah boyyyy!!!
I was three years from being born when Long Island hip hop group Public Enemy released Yo! Bum Rush The Show.
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