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Monthly Archives: July 2012

Quote Reviews is Now “Rathburn Reviews”

It’s become increasingly apparent that my blog can’t and therefore won’t be sustained on quick little review quips alone.  I’ve been posting more and more standard length reviews and have also begun expanding to more column-like posts, as well as lengthier reviews.  Because of that, I’ve decided to rename my blog to simply Rathburn Reviews.

So sue me, it’s not original to simply use my last name, but I’m a sucker for alliteration, and I honestly think it rings quite nicely.  Quote Reviews for movies will still be included, they just won’t be the backbone of the blog any more.

Here’s hoping for this change to be for the better!

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Posted by on July 31, 2012 in Blog, Uncategorized

 

Special K Fruit & Yogurt Cereal Review

I’m sure like most kids at the time, if you’d asked me what I thought of Special K cereal, I’d give you a typical “it stinks” response despite having never tried it.  Growing up, I looked at it as the cereal of adults.  Though if marketing and advertisements say anything, it’s a cereal aimed at women who hope to scrape by each day without ever being full.  Since it’s become a bit of a go-to cereal for me these past few months, I suppose I’m just getting in touch with my feminine side.

In all honesty, if Special K had a creepy mascot and used semi-interesting box covers, kids would probably be all over them.  They have multiple (sugary) flavors, multiple carbs and aren’t nearly as boring as those paper flavored circles known as Cheerios.

Special K fit comfortably into the usual cereal mold by offering the front cover claim that their cereal is “made with whole grain” and is a “good source of fiber.”  You know what else has 3 grams of fiber?  A serving of Jiffy Pop.  I guess it’s time to weigh my breakfast options.

As with the other Special K flavors, the fruit & yogurt variant has a faded color to indicate what corresponds with it.  Since most of the box is still white, that must mean the flavor remains your generic Special K flavor (in other words, flaky Cheerios).  The cereal description says it comes with fruit clusters and yogurt-coated clusters, but if proportions are any indication, the fruit clusters might as well be called crumbs.  It’d be like taking the remains of your Nature Valley granola bar and dipping them in red and purple food dye.

Even before biting in, you can probably tell the white yogurt clusters are where the bulk of the cereal gets its 10 grams of sugar.  This could be marketed very easily to kids by swapping “yogurt” and “clusters” with “sugar” and “puffs.”  Now all you need is a pedophile mascot.

There’s not much of an aroma to the cereal when you take a whiff of it.  The scent is definitely oat-ey, but in a processed sort of way (I wonder why).  Now the recommended serving size, as with most cereals, is 3/4 a cup.  But let’s be honest, how many of us actually abide by those tiny serving sizes?  I just dump in what I think is a reasonable amount for me.  Then there’s the type of milk you use, which can easily double the nutritional facts, especially when the only kind in your household is whole milk.

The cereal is quick to moisten from the milk, but it retains just enough crunchiness to avoid feeling cheap and tasting stale.  Speaking of taste, the sugar is quite enjoyable.  Not in a fruity sort of way, just a sugary sort of way.  What little fruit flavor there is is fairly subdued, almost taking a back seat to what I’m sure is the yogurt clusters slowly fading into the milk.  There was still a bit of crunch left over, even after being submitted to my slow eating habits.  What’s nice is the flakes are a good variety of sizes, although that all but changes when you reach the last fourth of the entire bag.  But that’s often when cereal is the sweetest, so who am I to complain?

Special K take little to no risks, and their cereal quality reflects that.  This fruit & yogurt blend isn’t their tastiest flavor, but it’s at least more fun on its own than many other sugary, frosted cereals.  If you want a sweet flavor that’s just a bit more smooth than it is eye-popping, then keep an eye out for it.  Just be sure you get it on sale, because $4-$5 for one of these boxes is just…no.

The Verdict: Buy It On Sale

 
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Posted by on July 30, 2012 in Cereal, Food, Review

 

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Quote Reviews 100th Post: Movie Drinking Games

It’s probably safe to say that the main reason people drink alcohol is because it’s the closest thing we can get to the effects of drugs.  But given their (il)legality, our options are more than scarce.  Now, I’m not one to try and encourage people under the age of 21 to drink, but that has more to do with–again–legality than the actual idea of enjoying the occasional buzz.  It’s been brought up several times before, but the point still rests: there’s clearly a knot in a system which lets you die for your country before you can/should have drink for cheers sake.  Stay away from the booze until you’re technically allowed, boys and girls, it’s not worth trying to be Mr. BA.  But, I digress.

All that being said, I think many of us enjoy an occasional drinking game.  And being a film lover, one of my favorite ways to go about it is with movie (or TV show) drinking games.  Although I’m more one to get a decent to strong buzz than to just trash or waste myself away, so oftentimes when I look up a drinking game online it’s just preposterous.  There will literally be so many rules that you’d clear a 1.75 liter bottle halfway through any movie.  Since the only way I can enjoy most alcohol is by diluting the flavor as a mixed drink or cocktail, having that much rum, vodka, whiskey, tequila, etc. is a bit…much.  So when I try to think of a good drinking game, I like to try something more reasonable and easygoing.  That way moderate and virgin drinkers can both have a good time together.  Some will be a shot every couple or so minutes, others will have us go stretches without anything and then BAM, get about four simultaneous shots ready (these are the most interesting).

So here are a few drinking games I’ve though up, a couple of which I’ve tried and others that have yet to be experimented first-hand.

Finding Nemo: Every time someone says “Nemo” or “Sharkbait.”

Yugioh: Every time someone breaks/bends the rules of the game, of a card effect or comes up with a random effect for anything when dueling.

Zombieland: When a rule comes on screen or is mentioned; Twinkies are brought up; a song is played; Tallahassee mocks or insults someone.

Back to the Future (Part 1): Marty lets slip a future reference while in 1955; someone says “McFly;” the DeLorean doesn’t work; Doc talks in techno-babble or doesn’t get a metaphor/reference (such as “this is heavy,” “weight has nothing to do with it.”)

Dude, Where’s My Car?: Every time someone says “dude” or “sweet” (I think we all know what scene we’d all die at…)

The Sandlot: When Ham says “you’re killing me, Smalls;” Smalls says “the biggest pickle;” someone hits a baseball with a bat; Squints adjusts or cleans his glasses.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: For pop-culture references; when Wallace is a dick to Scott; a song is played; text/subtitles come up on screen.

The Fast and the Furious: Car techno-babble is used; we clearly hear car exhaust; when NOS is used; Vince and/or Letty act stuck-up; a song is played.

Dances with Wolves: An Indian name is used or mentioned; John/Dances with Wolves narrates.

The Dark Knight: Whenever the Joker laughs, mentions his scars or says “why so serious;” Batman speaks in his raspy voice; someone says “the Batman.”

Inception (tread with caution): Whenever “dream,” “idea” or “subconscious” is said or mentioned.

The Lord of the Rings (mention for marathon): Someone says “precious,” “ring(s),” “hobbit(s),””Tookie;” a location is mentioned (Mordor, the Shire, Rohan, Gondor, etc.); Legolas makes an obvious observation; a character mentions eating or drinking or takes part in said activity; someone puts the ring on; for every narration; when the Nazgul shriek; someone speaks in non-English; someone is referred to as “son of…;” Pippin acts silly or clueless; someone cries or is on the verge of crying.

I’ve given you some of my favorites so what about you?  What drinking games have you done that led to an awesome, laughter-filled night?  Also, what are some of your favorite drinks to have?  Specifically, I’d like to know what mixed drinks you might be fond of.  A couple of my favorites are Sprite mixed with coconut flavored Bacardi and honey flavored Jack Daniels mixed with Ginger Ale.  Also, on one of the more popular mixed concoctions, does anyone else think that regular Coca-Cola mixed with regular Captain Morgan tastes just like Vanilla Coke with an added kick?  Hopefully I’m not the only one.  I guess I know what my next experiment will be: Captain Morgan and Vanilla Coke.  That is, of course, after I get a job…which may be a while.

 
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Posted by on July 26, 2012 in Blog, Film, Movies

 

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Unemployment Rant

If my unemployment keeps up, then I might have to check myself into a mental ward.  At this point, being around extrovert nuts would be an immense improvement over wasting time, applications, money and gas for weeks on end.  Loneliness and constant rejection just don’t go well together.

This is especially frustrating when you’ve come out of college with a 4-year degree and have been hit so hard by reality that you might as well jump headfirst off of Mount Rushmore.  How nice is it to know someone’s young, naive stupidity was taken advantage of for some stranger’s thousand dollar raise?

The whole “from college to unemployment route” I’ve taken has seriously soured me to where the most valuable bit of information I obtained wasn’t even directly taught: never trust anyone.  Of course right now I wish I’d just asked Wes Craven, he could’ve told me that.  What’s more is that this pervades as I struggle for any chance of work and income.  I’m not even talking legit, career-minded jobs; I’m talking the low-end crap.  Grocery stores, retail, restaurants, all of those minimalist, commercialized cement holes.  About the only places off limits to me are gas stations, convenience stores and fast food joints.  Yeah, I’m ultimately dealing with the same lousy customers, but since they seem to snap there more than anywhere else, I’d prefer to spare myself, if only for the time being.

Like I said, trust is one thing that just can’t be found in today’s market and economy.  Other prospecting employees can relate when I emphasize how managers and interviewers simply lie right to your face.  You know how after an interview the person you spoke to says “you’ll hear from us in 48 hours,” or something like that?  Let me ask this: How many times does that actually happen?  It’s funny that businesses set up these questionnaires and pitch their company as valuing the customer by being honest and attentive to them.

Sorry, but if I don’t even get a phone call after an interview when I’m promised one (“regardless of whether you’re hired or not”), I consider myself lied to and betrayed not just as a hopeful employee, but as a customer.  Maybe these companies and their (high-end) workers don’t realize it, but employees are customers too.  If you don’t treat them well and serve up the two-face entree, they’re not going to say “yeah, this is a company I want to do business with as a customer.”  They won’t want to give you money (in return), they’ll elect go elsewhere.  It’s a little something called competition.  And if the competitors aren’t going to handle things in a better way, then you’re all off my list!  Hate to disappoint all the stores and shops that plainly lied to me, but if you can’t uphold what you told me in-person (actually treat me like I have a brain–which I do, believe it or not), then I see no reason to give you my time, attention or money.  Although, being unemployed, money is tough to find, so so much for that.

On the chance you do get a job interview, there’s a good chance you still won’t get the job.  This is all the more inevitable when, like me, your experience is so limited it might as well be nonexistent.  Without experience, you’re nothing.  And since no experience means no work, your/my chances are literally shot down the sewers and into the Earth’s molding crust.  It’s become less and less likely for a company to give the less experienced person a shot.  They don’t want to train us, they want people who can jump right on board.  The apple that falls closest is apparently the best option.  A bit of time and effort to bring a potentially better fit is hardly worth considering.

Some interviews are so disappointing and bare-bones that you wonder why you even bothered showing up.  I recently had one at a set time, but I showed up a few minutes early only to find that someone who dressed in sloppy shorts, wore a black tank-top, cap and a few piercings became part of the team.  Right in front of my eyes!  At that point I–in my black button-up shirt tucked into my khaki-pants with a belt–just wanted to walk out and say “thanks a lot for officially wasting my time and combusting my hope away.”  I dress seriously, answer in an honest, friendly manner and remain composed only to once again get the shaft.

I honestly wouldn’t be surprised that, even with a dead blog such as this, employers will read this and think to themselves, “well, that’s one more person we know not to consider.”  But I guess those same employers don’t realize what three months of constant rejection and scraped goals can do to a 22-year-old.  Persistence is supposed to be key, but a completely positive attitude amidst it is about as likely as my family winning the Lottery (which doesn’t sound half bad right now).

 
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Posted by on July 24, 2012 in Blog, Rant

 

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The Dark Knight Rises: Full, Spoiler-Free Review

Christopher Nolan’s Batman films are among the few you can get away with coming to a verdict on before even seeing.  The big reason is that, regardless of what we’re given, it’s going to be quality work.  At this point it’s, well, pointless to talk about Batman Begins and The Dark Knight since they both live up to said pedigree.  And just like the initial skepticisms for those two films, concerns are beyond cast aside in The Dark Knight Rises.

Not many films get the idea of effective marketing, but The Dark Knight Rises really has it down.  The trailers often showed similar footage and, beyond the limited release of the prologue, all we had to work with were fragments.  As such, this is less a movie to spoil and more one to discuss in limited detail.

The film is set eight years after The Dark Knight, with Gotham’s criminal activity apparently at an all-time low.  During that time, the city has thrived off of a lie which has taken its toll on those who know the truth.  Much of the film’s first half reacquaints us with just what consequences have followed, which is played off as the more immediate threat ensues.

Enter Bane, who we all know from the trailers as the man who’ll become “Gotham’s reckoning.”  In a recent behind-the-scenes video, actor Tom Hardy said “The Joker wanted to watch the world burn.  Bane’s here to pull the pin on the grenade.”  There’s really no other way to say it, as Bane is pretty much the embodiment of a Batman villain in the form of a terrorist.  It gets to the point that you almost forget this is based on a graphic novel.  That is, until one or two tiny parts creep up and remind you that nothing is quite off limits, even under Nolan’s direction.  The presence and role Bane has is infrequent but significant.  It’s just a shame that his lines are still tough to make out, despite addressing the concerns of many fans (including myself).  Eventually it comes down to actions speaking louder than words, but it’s still tough to get a first impression when much of what you hear sounds like sheer distortion, bass and accent.

The villains from the Dark Knight films have been perhaps the most memorable.  And while Bane does more than enough to leave an impression (or two), we thankfully get a bit more of our heroes a la Batman Begins.  Superb as The Dark Knight was, the film was really about the Joker; his show-stealing scenes almost took away from our actual hero.  Not so much the case here.  Christian Bale puts on his best performance as Bruce Wayne and Batman, with the rest of the main cast matching his commitment.  In fact, while we’re on that subject, Michael Caine deserves an Oscar nomination for his performance.  He has hardly three or four scenes, but those moments really count and stick with you.

It’s a good thing we have these characters to enjoy and invest ourselves in, because without them, the story would definitely cripple.  Plot points almost come off like small details at first, but quickly play bigger and even pivotal roles.  To the more indifferent viewer, these are bound to be potential problems, but to the film’s credit, it’s at least trying to take itself and its audience seriously.  If you can’t get the entire picture, you’ll at least get the gist of things.

What The Dark Knight Rises manages to be, more than anything, is an effective concoction.  For a while it brews and swells with set ups and potential before utilizing the last hour to build the intensity with more than a few gripping, boiling points.  It leaves you panting, losing breath but still wanting to be subjected.  The universe is deeply grounded with characters pulling you in while the action and tension leave you immobilized.  It’s a fine, worthy conclusion that shows it’s less about matching or outdoing its predecessors, but more about ending the series on a proper note.

 
 

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Quote Review: 21 Jump Street (2012)

“They teenagers, man. They really stupid.”

There isn’t much room for another adaptation or update like 21 Jump Street to stand out in overly crowded field.  The laughs and fun are certainly present, but it hardly trumps most of the average, molding comedies as of recent.

 
 

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Epic Movie Scenes: The Opening from Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

For today’s installment of Epic Movie Scenes, I’m here to talk about easily one of the biggest, most lasting moments in film altogether.  We all know the reputation following the Star Wars franchise; how it immediately exploded and has since become a bit of shameless marketing that we can’t seem to let go.  Regardless of what the movies have become, what can’t be denied is the impact they had, especially the original trilogy.  And all of it started with this opening sequence from the original film, later retitled “Episode IV: A New Hope.”

Why Is It So Epic?

Even as a movie that’s technically considered the fourth installment, the film opens by showing exactly what we need, with or without the opening text.  We have the small rebel ship fleeing and firing back at a Star Destroyer, which looms overhead, going on and on just like the size and strength of the Empire.  From the first time you watch this scene, it sticks with you.  There are movie scenes that we can remember in bits and pieces, but this one is permanently implanted into your mind.  I can still remember the first time watching this as a kid, I thought to myself “how long and big IS that ship?”

One thing that makes the transition from the plain yellow text to the detailed ships is the music, courtesy of probably the biggest film composer ever, John Williams.  We nicely move from the upbeat, triumphant theme played at the beginning of each movie to a few quick seconds of adrenaline-building music before the ships are well within our sight.

Then we cut to being on board the rebel ship itself, with plenty of C-3PO’s pessimistic statements serving as morale for the rebels.  When we see the ship again, it’s covered in shadow while being pulled into the Star Destroyer, more or less preparing us for what will inevitably ensue.  And then the Storm Troopers come in flocks, invading the ship and taking out rebels with little effort or repercussion.  Finally, to top it all off, we get our introduction of Darth Vader, who we only need to hear breathe as he looks over the fallen bodies.  His mechanical, all-black costume is a perfect representation for who this character is to us, while also serving as a contrast to the white armored Storm Troopers.  On one hand there are several plain characters who blend into the rebel ship’s white walls, carrying out orders; on the other there’s Vader, standing out and proving himself the darker, less conventional being.

This scene was big when it came out and continues to prove itself 35 years later.  Many films are still put to shame by this opening, which proves you don’t need something long and drawn out to leave a lasting impression.

 
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Posted by on July 9, 2012 in Film, Movies

 

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