Wii Fit

It’s finally here, the accessory I wanted to buy the Wii for. I had to again rely on technology to get one (and you have to go to the page, the RSS feed doesn’t seem to be working), but it came Wednesday night. First impressions (after an hour): The balance games are cool, but there’s not enough of them (I’ve spent most of time on the skiing ones). I’ll probably purchase the skiing game soon. The strength training and aerobics give you a serious workout, and the yoga is strange, but that’s probably because I’d never done any before. Still, I need a kick in the ass to exercise, and hopefully this will incite me to keep going.

BTW, this helps explain why even though I went 0 for 6 looking for Wii Fit, I was 3 for 6 if I wanted a Wii.

Ben Folds at Wolf Trap

Ben Folds hasn’t been with the Five for years, but he’s still turning out that style of quirky piano pop. We went to see him at Wolf Trap last night, but as it turned out, seeing him wasn’t the best part of the night. One of the benefits to being a member is a free concert, and this year we were offered the choice of Ben Folds, Eric Idle or Smokey Robinson. I really would like to go to the Eric Idle since it looks like him doing a version of Life Of Brian like Spamalot was a version of Holy Grail, but the reason I didn’t already have ticket is we’re going to be out of town that week. And Smokey is nice, but we both like Ben Folds and hadn’t seen him before.

There was also a dinner buffet included, and we were late getting there but got seats not expecting to see anyone we knew. Instead we ran into Bob and Cathy, who we know because Bob is the soundman for efo, and we’ve hung out with them on the efo cruises. We had a great time catching up over dinner (food was ok, carrot cake was awesome) and talked so long we missed most of the opening act – she wasn’t bad, though.

Ben Folds came out with a drummer and bassist (same trio format as the Five) and proceeded to rock out. I was expecting to enjoy Five classics like “Underground” and “Army”, but my favorite songs turned out to be songs from Rockin’ the Suburbs like “Annie Waits” and “Gone”. “Not the Same” was actually the highlight as he made the audience do a three part harmony and conducted us at the end. New songs from the album he’s releasing this fall were also pretty good – first single “Hiroshima” sounds like a winner. A shame we didn’t get the orignal set list for the night – I would have enjoyed “Brick” and “Battle of Who Could Care Less”. He had a lot of fun with the sign language ladies, as much as Da Vinci’s Notebook (for those who’ve seen them).

Movies I’ve watched, week twenty-one

34. The Lord of the Rings – The Fellowship of the Ring
I’ve already talked about watching it with an orchestra, so I won’t repeat myself, just mention there’s a fascinating page with the differences between the book and the two DVDs. A

35. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
I’ve always loved the Indy films and watching them again got me psyched for this. The film achieves that perfect pitch early on, and I only have minor quibbles with the plot. It’s a fun ride from start to finish, and is neck and neck with Last Crusade for best sequel. A

36. 300
The second movie based on comics by Frank Miller (first was Sin City), Zack Snyder shows that he’s worthy of being the first director to finally fulfill the promise of bringing an Alan Moore comic to life (ok, I liked V For Vendetta and it was much better than League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, From Hell or Constantine, but still didn’t come close to the comic). B+

Books I’ve read, week twenty-one

38. Gods Above (Star Trek New Frontier)
Writer: Peter David
Conclusion to the one I was reading last week. Decent wrap up with some funny bits and good mythological nods. B

39. Fantastic Four Visionaries – John Byrne, Vol. 6
40. Fantastic Four Visionaries – John Byrne, Vol. 7
41. Fantastic Four Visionaries – John Byrne, Vol. 8
Writer: John Byrne Artist: John Byrne
I was reading John Byrne’s complete run on the Fantastic Four last year and stopped more than halfway through. Finishing up, it looks like I stopped at the right point, as this is where it gets weaker. I love Nick Fury, and he’s in 3 issues in Vol. 8, but the story is meh. FYI, I would have tossed in some As and B+s for the early part of his run, but these don’t keep the epic storylines he was into earlier (keep in mind Vol. 6 has a Secret Wars II crossover which brings the grade down automatically and Vol. 7 has an X-Men appearance that raises it). Vol. 6 C Vol. 7 B Vol. 8 B-

Dream Theater at Constitution Hall

I’ve been a Dream Theater fan since their second album (the first with singer James LaBrie), and that’s been a while. While I’ve picked up every album, I haven’t seen them live that much (only three times before last night), and I’m not sure why that is (although the last two tours hit Baltimore on a weeknight). Anyway, they’re an awesome live band. It’s a five piece: bass, drums, guitar, keys and vox, and they play progressive metal.

Dream Theater

They’ve recently released a new album and a greatest hits package, and I was curious how the setlist would go. Some bands use the same setlist all tour, and some mix it up each night – Dream Theater takes the middle ground with several sets of usually played songs and some rarities they rotate in and out. Last night only featured two new songs and three songs from the greatest hits, spending a while on tracks from Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory. I didn’t mind that, since I’d never seen any of them performed live before. As much as I like all their albums, I love hearing tracks from the one that drew me in, so ending with “Take The Time” and “Metropolis, Pt. 1: The Miracle And The Sleeper” was great. One thing that gets lost when people talk about them is their sense of humor. They messed with each other on stage (I liked when the drummer and a roadie threw sticks at each other). I need to remember what a good time I had so I don’t miss them the next time through.

Three day, three concert weekend

Saturday I needed to go to Old Town Alexandria to buy a ticket for Monday’s show. Jill knew what I was thinking and came along, as we went to Eamonn’s for lunch. Not the best fish and chips ever, but still pretty tasty (and the spicy mayo helped). We window shopped a little, then headed to the Metro. I’d read that the XM Kids Roadshow was going to be on the Mall with a concert. We got there in time to see a full set from
Lisa Loeb, mostly kids songs but she included her big hit, with Robbie Schaefer as the MC. We missed Meredith Brooks, but I’m guessing she didn’t do her big hit. After a big lunch, we weren’t that hungry. Jill made a chicken tender salad for dinner we enjoyed on the deck, then we read for a while – I had a backlog of papers and comics.

Lisa Loeb

Sunday our pal Stuart’s band was playing at Jimmy’s, and we walked over to hear them. The event was the Memorial Day Party in the Alley, and there were a lot more bikers than we expected to see in Herndon – apparently Jimmy and staff had participated in Rolling Thunder earlier in the day. The band was good, more originals than I expected with a classic rock feel. I made burgers and dogs for dinner, then we headed out to check out a little indy film, pretty good.

P.U.R.E. Band

Monday was mostly relaxing (reading, watching TV), then I was going to see Dream Theater at Constitution Hall. I’d planned to leave at 8, but a desire to nap was all powerful and I didn’t wake up until quarter ’til. Jill offered to make a quick Asian dinner since I was groggy, and I took her up on it. Pretty good for frozen, then I headed out. I took the Metro in, then walked to the venue. There were 3 other bands playing, but none I wanted to see, so I had tried to time it for the headliner. Of course I was off, but thankfully in the opposite direction, as Opeth was still on stage. I like metal, but the growly vocals do nothing for me, and I sat downstairs until they were done. Dream Theater was outstanding, but they deserve their own post. More about them tomorrow.

Fellowship of the Ring with live orchestra

Last night I headed over to Wolf Trap to see Fellowship of the Ring performed with a live orchestra. They had it for two consecutive nights, and I was planning on getting a lawn ticket for the night with the best weather, but a discount email ticket list came up with Thursday loge seats for half off, and that was the clincher. I was solo, as not only was Jill coming home from her second 12 hour shift, but it’s also the first movie we saw together – and she slept through most of it and never saw the others.

It was very interesting. They had two screens, one overhanging the stage and on hanging from the back of the loge for the folks on the lawn. My seat was in the first row of the upper loge, slightly stage right, almost perfect. The film was shown with subtitles, which was sometimes distracting (I often feel like I’m “reading” a movie when they’re enabled) but occasionally necessary, as the orchestra would swell over a line of dialogue (I also noticed that the subtitles were very complete, containing dialogue you can barely hear normally). Most disconcerting was the audience applauding soloists – normal for a classical concert, but sometimes I was so immersed in the movie, I wasn’t paying attention to the music and the applause was startling. Which is a bit of a shame as the musicians were talented and it was perfectly synced to the movie, but I didn’t always notice them because they were doing such a good job – but what else could they have done?

It was a long evening, even though they aired the theatrical version. I was getting tired and cold, and left right as the battle with the Uruk-hai started, and it was past three hours in. Anyway, I enjoyed myself greatly and would go see it (or the other two) again anytime. For that matter, I think I’ll be watching the sequels soon. There are pictures and a write up for the previous night here.

Movies I’ve watched, week twenty

30. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
I’m going to disagree with my friend’s review (and Jill didn’t like it that much either). I really liked this movie. It may not have been a perfect adaption of the book, but it hit the right notes for me (even with the invented for the movie scenes). I thought it improved on the last one (not to mention worlds better than the tv movie), the action and effects were impressive, and C. S. Lewis’ themes survive. A-

31. Raiders of the Lost Ark
32. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
33. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
What better way to prepare for the new film than to watch all three on a Saturday? I wasn’t the only one who thought it was a good idea, Sci Fi played them back to back to back the same day. I won’t go into as much detail as this lady who just watched them for the first time, but suffice it to say my memory didn’t fail me. Raiders still stands on its own as one of my favorite movie, Temple is the weakest link but still has some good moments, and Crusade has some good action but great acting between Connery and Ford. Raiders of the Lost Ark A+ Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom B Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade A