Captain America – A review

The Cap movie is deeply flawed, but ultimately enjoyable.  I’ve told those who have asked that the best moments are in the trailer.

The movie opens, surprisingly, in the present day with a task force finding an object frozen in the far north.  That is surprising because that is how I had expected the Avengers movie to open.  The movie then has a great first act where Steve Rogers is chosen to be part of the Super Soldier project and the origin of Captain America is told.  The second act has the new Captain America becoming a hero.  The third and final act has Cap in a climatic struggle with his nemesis the Red Skull.

Here is what the movie gets right.  It gets Steve Rogers and it gets Captain America.  Steve Rogers is not a hero because he is superhuman.  Steve Rogers is superhuman because he is a hero.  The movie surrounds Cap with an entertaining cast.  The Howling Commandos in particular worked for me.  Dr. Erskine, played by Stanley Tucci, is also very effective – he plays the heart of the cast.  It has a good villain.   Hugo Weaving plays a menacing and crazy Red Skull.   He isn’t as good as, say, Doc Ock for Spidey II or the Joker from the Dark Knight, but he is excellent.  The movie is filled with references and callbacks that fans will get.  My two favorites were the appearances of the Human Torch and Dum Dum Dugan.  Finally, the movie shares a continuity and references with other Marvel movies.  Beyond the cameo appearances by Nick Fury, there is also the macguffin used – a cosmic cube that was previously seen in the Thor movie.

The flaws are twofold.  The first is the action.  There is a lot of action in the movie.  But they ran out of room for anything other than a montage of Captain America in full costume.  The movie spends more than half its time getting Cap into costume and then when it happens they simply portray his adventures in a long montage.  Other than the montage there is one scene, the climax, where Cap is fully on display.

The second flaw is the ending.  The ending contains two deaths that are so “comic-book”‘ish that you feel pretty sure that neither will stick.  That is a flaw of the serialized continuity of the original books that you don’t really want to pull into the movies.  It also plays like a feature length trailer for the upcoming Avengers film.  There is both tragedy and victory, but although there is an extended denouement, neither seems to be fully explored.  I left the movie unsatisfied.

The trailer for Captain America was pretty awesome, I thought.  Those scenes are all present in the movie and are supported in strength by the scenes around them.  If the movie ended as strongly as it began I would be raving about it.  But the end had more fizzle than fireworks.

Also, don’t bother sticking around for the end of credits bonus scene.  It is a short teaser trailer for the Avengers movie that isn’t complete in and of itself.  Wait until a real teaser shows up online…

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Weekly (Weekend really) Recap

It was a weekend of highs and lows.  Forgive me if I dwell here n the highs although the lows remain on my mind and in my heart.

Games, Food and Drink.  Those are the main pillars of the weekend.  The food highlights were the pulled pork sandwiches and the eggs bennedict.  The eggs benny were my personal favorite – they were pretty darned awesome.  Plus I found that by supper each night I tended to already be full.  Many of my friends just stuffed themselves and then moaned for the right of the evening.  Stef was the main cook – usually it is Dano, but he graciously allowed someone else to do the hard work – although Dan and everyone else but me did help with the cooking.  (My chore is to divvy the cash at the end of the weekend… I only undertake the most strenuous of tasks.)

Now there is some food we didn’t eat.  The boys went out fishing on Saturday afternoon as it started to clear up.  Although they expected to catch nothing they ended up reeling in several fish apiece and then throwing them back.  Some fish more often than others.  When Bart caught the first fish of the afternoon he asked, “What should I do with it?”

“Throw it back,” they answered.  So Bart took a firm grip on the fish and lobbed it overhand back into the lake.  Apparently it cleared well over 15 yards.  It happened quickly and the others watched dumbfounded as the lake fish became a flying fish.  Bart is a quick learner though and the rest of the fish he caught were released in a more traditional manner.

They went pretty crazy with the drinks this year – we left a lot of it undrank.  Beer and Smirnoffs of course.  But also Rum, Gin, Baileys, and two bottles of Scotch.  So much Scotch that the bottle I brought came home unopened.  Now the special drinks were the highlight again here.  Tim’s grog made an appearance – with double the amount as last year.  Yummy.  Dano made Bailey’s jello jigglers.  Pauly brought the fixin’s for beergaritas.  Too Tequila-y for my taste.  And Stef made hot buttered rum.

They hot buttered rum generated the best story of the entire weekend.  It is so obvious it is amazing we didn’t notice it happening.  Frday night after dinner it was freezing.  Everyone was inside out of the cold.  Stef started the drink warming and disappeared downstairs to play an X-box game while many of us were upstairs playing a board game.  After an hour or so, Tim, Pauly and Troy went and poured themselves each a mug.

It was hot.  After it cooled a bit they all drank it down.

We awarded a awesome dragon that Robin created for the weekend to Troy for uttering the next line.

“Mmm, tastes like butter!”

Sometime later Stef came up to get his own mug.

“Gee, I seem to have boiled some of it off.  There is less here than I remembered,” he said.

“Yeah, we all had some.  Tastes like butter.”

Everyone realized what Stef was about to say at the same moment.  “Well it would.  That was just melted butter with a little brown sugar added.  I didn’t put the rum in yet!”

I’m glad I was feeling sick and didn’t have any.  Actually Friday night was pretty miserable for me.  I couldn’t get warm and I got a splitting headache.  Dave kindly lent me his jacket and i wore it until the next evening when he asked for it back.  Even then I could barely tolerate the chill.  Everyone else said it was warm in the cabin.  I turned in early and felt much better the next morning.

We got to play two of the big games I wanted to.  Dominant Species was big and complex – i was getting my butt kicked and we barely scratched the surface of that game.  We also played Stronghold.  Robin and I racked up a big win over Rob R. and Tim.  It was a slow build to the eventual breach of our stronghold.  A tense and dramatic game – I really enjoyed it.  The board game highlight of the weekend was probably an old standard though – Werewolf.  10 people is a good number to play with.  We had three quick games.  We laughed and giggled.  My favorite bit was when Bart was a silversmith and Treek played a sports star.  Treek asked for a silver baseball bat to defend himself against the werewolf.  We also determined that if you are about to be lynched it is a poor defense to tell the lynch mob that they are all a-holes.  In fact that may be a guarantee to get a trip to the scaffold.

The other game highlight was the WWE video game.  It gathered spectators as though it were a movie.  Dave was declared the Wrestling superstar.

At the end I lost the humility bear to Rob R.  I miss my bear already.  I’ll strive to win it back next year.  Because I am already looking forward to that weekend.

My thoughts are with Pauly and his family this week.

T Minus 2

We are spectacularly unprepared.  That is what I have to say about it.

To quote Shakespeare in Love:

Dear blog reader, allow me to explain about the GGW business. The natural condition is one of insurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent disaster.”
So what do we do?”
Nothing. Strangely enough, it all turns out well. ”
How? ”
I don’t know. It’s a mystery.”

In other news, just in case it has escaped notice up until now, I’d like to point out that I may, in fact, be awesome.  Just saying – sorta a public service announcement.

Technical Architect

Have I ever talked abut my job?  It is a bit tricky since I can’t talk about the details.  But I can describe what I do in general terms.

Enterprise Architecture is the discipline for mapping out a business.  You take its goals, strategies, business processes, systems, people, skills and the IT and map it all out.  The purpose is to let the business guide the development of systems and proceses rather than starting with a technology and working backwards.

Traditionally Enterprise Architecture is divided into four sub-pieces: business architecture, information architecture, application architecture and technical architecture.  That last bit is me.  So a business architect looks at what the business is doing and what it needs to do.  The information architect looks at the information collected, stored, analyzed and distributed in order to achieves the business needs.  The application architect looks at the IT applications used to store and manipulate that information.  The technical architect provides the underlying infrastructure required for those applications to run.

In esence I will take compiled requirements provided by the other architects in the system and provide a solutions that enables them.  Pieces of the IT infrastructure include: Operating systems, networks, security, storage, virtualization, databases, middleware, telecommunications, hardware, etc.  I can look at a variety of delivery models either to receive the service or deliver it.

I also need to ask all the questions specific to the technical architecture that might not come down as requirements.  Sometimes these questions and the resulting answers might go back up the chain.  That might include how the different components of the infrastructure interact or questions about availability and performance and security.

Now that isn’t all I do.  I’m also a team lead and have supervisory responsibilities.  As well as architect and design the solution, my team and I are also responsible for implementing, testing and operating it.  Quite a bit of our time is spent in solving problems in the operation of the products now and operating those processes for implementing routine changes and updates to the installed technologies.  We are also part of a big project so some of my time is spent doing project management and business analysis.  I spend as much of my time working on process as I do on technology.  Any IT job now also has five million e-mails to process and day.  Finally we are in government so there are reports to read and to write and meetings to attend.

So that is what I do.  It is pretty awesome.

Weekly Recap

It was a pretty nifty week.

Tim disappeared into the wild last week so he missed coming over on Wednesday.  Didn’t matter to me.  I had my head to far down into A Dance with Dragons I didn’t even make it out to get my comics.  Monday night I didn’t feel well.  I was up at 2:00 am.  I figured I may as well read.  aDwD came out at midnight and my book reader already had it, so I started the book in the middle of the night.

So Tuesday evening, Wednesday morning, lunch, evening, Thursday morning and lunch, Friday morning and lunch and I finished the book on Saturday morning.  It was a beast – a huge book.

Thursday Mom came over.  She brought Italian – clam Vongole from Tasty Tomatoes.  Then we went SUV shopping.  She was test driving a loaner Tribute and we headed to the Subaru dealership to see the Forrester.  Mom only needs a small vehicle in my opinion, but she wants something larger for just in case moments.  I don’t think she’s made a decision yet and we didn’t actually test drive the Forrester.  She’s heading back on Wednesday.

The guys came over on Friday.  Rob R. and Stef were along and brought fancy beers, Perrys and ciders.  Must cost that fellow a left arm to come over when he shows up, but I sure appreciate it.  My favorite was this Elderflower Perry thing.  Not actually a drink I’d recommend, but while it was way, way different, it was also enjoyable.  I’m really a beer guy though.

We didn’t actually play any games that night – it was just sitting around and planning for next weekend and yakking.

Gaming happened on Saturday.  Mom was going to come over again (twice in one week!) but cancelled.  20 minutes later Dave asked if he could come by.  We played three games of Bohnanza and I kicked his butt 1 game to 2.  Here’s what happened.  I was beat down in game one.  In game two, I had a big early lead and Dave suggested we might need to play a third for a tie breaker.  But the game ended with him earning one more point than I.  But we played that third game which I won.  I consider it a tie breaker still – game three of a three game series, winner takes all.  🙂

Sunday was church.  We did a tour of the west end on the way there on the bus and I showed up fairly late – in time for the gospel.

Finally I went to the mall, bought two pillows and watched Harry Potter.  I didn’t need the pillow during the movie as it was plenty taut and exciting.  I pretty good end to the series.  But as an 8 movie series I rate the whole thing a Meh Plus.  There were some pretty shaky installments and I feel no need to own or rewatch any of them.

Three more days of work this week!  Yay!

Bad Habits

Do you ever watch yourself do something and shake your head?  “What the what?”

Two things in this case.  I’ve mentioned before that I hate the phone.  It rings and I’m unhappy to be disturbed.  Plus they intimidate me.  Then there is this other thing that I hate sudden changes in plan – even when the new plan is way better than the old plan.  Give me five minutes with the new plan and I love it, but at first I’m always resistant.

So when someone calls me and suggests something they always hear annoyance in my voice.  (I’m also a horrible poker player so I don’t mask it well.)  Often the first thing someone asks me is, “Is everything OK?  You sound upset.”

The problem is that I’m a jerk.

Happened three times in the last week.  Treek called, Mom called and Dave called.  Did it to all three of them.

Obviously I should be sorry.  And I certainly am.  But I’m also angry at myself.  It is almost self-destructive.  If those three people weren’t cool, I’d have missed out on spending time with them all.  Treek is going to hang out for a few days next week.  Mom came by and brought the best supper I ha this week (turned the leftovers into lunch so it was two meals).  And the afternoon Dave and I spent playing games was the highlight of the week.

Silly Rabbit!  Time to shape up.