Tag Archives: The Cubicle Escapee

Absinthe and squat toilets

I have been very bad about not posting lately.  I am going to try and get back into blogging the crazy that is my life and I figured the best story to get back in the mix of it is this one.

So I tried Absinthe for the first time in China.   It typical Jen fashion it was hilarious.

No I didn’t hallucinate or at least from what I remember I didn’t.

Oh my.  I typically have a strict do not over drink rule when I am in a foreign country.  I like to keep my guard up and I like to make sure that just in case I get into trouble I have a clear head.

So why did I not follow this rule?  Cause this shit creeps up on you and the next thing you are hunting for a squat toilet at midnight walking back to your hotel.  More on that later.

We found this little quaint bar in a very trendy Hutong neighborhood.  The original plan was to get dessert hang out and call it an early night.    All I really remember, from this place is they showed the 2015 Victoria’s Secret Fashion show on repeat and they served absinthe.

and oh! they call marshmallows cotton candy.

I browsed the menu and I looked at Zach (he was with me in China) and said “Dude they have absinthe here”  While absinthe is no longer illegal in the US, you don’t really see it in bars in Dallas.  He had never tried it and I had never tried it, so hey why not try it… right??? Right. 

We ordered a round and the girl brought it to us with sugar cubes and lit it on fire.    We blew out the fire, smashed up the sugar and took the shot.

and it went down easy…. too easy.

In hindsight, this is why my ass had to use a squat toilet. (again more on this later) 

I received my dessert and after about 15 minutes I looked at Zach and said “I don’t really feel anything do you?”  He didn’t.

I thought it was odd, because I have ZERO tolerance and often have a pretty decent buzz after one glass of wine.  So I was a little shocked I didn’t feel anything.

So hey we are vacationing, let’s order another round.

and another…

and another…

and another…

You see where I am going with this?

Around midnight, I am sure in what was a very sexy slur… told Zach I was ready to go back to the hotel cause I was really tired from walking all over Beijing that day (really I was just drunk) so he paid the tab and we started our mile walk back to the hotel.

We were laughing and talking about just how amazing Beijing was and that Absinthe sneaks up on your ass…

When suddenly I had to pee… bad.

See here is the thing, this is not my proudest moment… but I refused to use the public restrooms in China… ahem the squat toilets.

I know.  I know.  Shame on me but I was terrified of them and while it is not my proudest travel moment I avoided them and would hold it all day.

Well I could not hold it and I got over that fear at midnight in a random hutong in Beijing China.

Sad thing is, I didn’t even see the Green Fairy.


Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: 9/11

9/11, a new drama with Charlie Sheen (yes, THAT Charlie Sheen), has to be the biggest slap in the face to all the victims, first responders, and heroes of 9/11 since the awful twist ending in the film Remember Me. What is also so bad is that this film doesn’t even know that it is disrespectful. It’s disrespectful in terms of the acting, the production value, the cue card at the end of the film dedicating the  movie to all the victims and first responders of 9/11, when the first responders aren’t even featured in the film for more than 5 minutes. This movie is so bad I don’t think even Lifetime would air it due to the fact of how disrespectful it is. Even mediocre 9/11 films like Oliver Stone’s World Trade Center treated the events with respect, care, and made sure to show admiration for those affected by the tragedy. This film has Charlie Sheen being a more calmed down but still same version of Charlie Sheen, with 5 other people stuck in an elevator, and somehow they dragged poor old Whoopi Goldberg into this. 9/11, while one of the worst tragedies to happen in human history, is now one of the worst films since the turn of the century, let alone the worst film of 2017. Yes, that’s right, even worse than Fifty Shades Darker.

It’s also disrespectful to cast Charlie Sheen in your 9/11 movie, when he is in fact part of the controversial Truther movement. But I’m here to review a film, not get into politics. This film is based off a stage play called Elevator, and I have a feeling the stage play is quite riveting and emotional and characters played by truly inspirational and aspiring believable actors. It’s hard to care about character when you see someone on screen and just keep repeating the word “Winning” over and over in your mind. Sheen’s acting in this is truly laughably bad, to where he needs to be nominated for a Razzie this year and win.

It was also weird seeing Luiz Guzman in a film like this, considering that he is mainly in comedic films, and some of the stuff he says also took me out of the film, obviously he meant his dialogue to come off as dramatic, but it is boderline comical. Gina Gershon is there to look like a coke head and literally just whine and not act the whole time, and Whoopi Goldberg plays a elevator operator supervisor that tries to talk the passengers in the stuck elevator on the Twin Towers into finding a way to escape. She is the only decent part of the movie, and the only one that seems like she wants to act accordingly.

I never felt emotional during this film, and the point is I should have. I should have felt bad for these people stuck in the elevator, and rooting for them to get out. The acting was just nowhere near getting me to care for any of the characters other than Whoopi. The film basically only has three locales, in and right outside of the elevator, the basement where Whoopi Goldberg is trying to help them escape, and the final act takes place right inside the lobby of one of the Twin Towers. It is in this final act that the production value is just so so so bad, it was hard to believe any of these people were actually there. Isn’t that the point of the movie? To make it seem you are at the locale of where stuff happens, especially in films based on true events?

When it touches the lobby, with the smoke, and ash, and all that raining down on victims heads, the film looks fuzzy, green screenish, and cheap. There is so much fog and smoke, that you know they just piled it on, otherwise you would definitely know how shoddy their production budget was. And like I said before, the title card of dedication at the end bothered me. It is find if you dedicate it to first responders of the tragedy, but you should show them in your film more, not just Charlie Sheen bitching at things for 95 minutes.

My thoughts are with the first responders and victims of 9/11 today. I will never forget and this nation will never forget. There are no words to completely convey how much we feel for the victims and first responders of this terrible tragedy. My heart aches for the families of the victims as well. One thing I know for sure is that this film should’ve never been made. It was a stage play? Fine, but leave it at that, don’t hire D grade actors on a shoddy production budget if you are hoping to make a legitimate film about a story that took place on that day. Or if you have to make it into a feature film, treat it with some respect, and try and make the best film possible. This was not even trying.


Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: HOME AGAIN

I would not go so far as to call Reese Witherspoon’s new movie HOME AGAIN, good, great, or even bad…I would ultimately probably use the term “harmless.” I didn’t think it is a re watchable laugh a minute riot fest, nor did I think it as a comedic disaster. It is just there. It is just there to casually leave on television when you are tidying up your house one afternoon. It’s a airplane movie to distract you from the fact that you are in a vessel miles in the air. It has it’s moments, but then it has it’s “really?” moments as well, and it once again proves that Reese is way too good of an actress to pick up and participate in this kind of material.

The movie has a somewhat interesting concept where a famous screenwriter/director’s daughter turns 40 and is recently separated from her husband, moving with her two daughters to L.A. who “happens” to run into three young male Hollywood dudes (one a director, one an actor, and one a screenplay writer) who are trying to break bank with their short film becoming a full length feature. One of the boys in his mid-20s falls for Reese. They get kicked out of their hotel for not having any money and Reese’s mother likes the boys and suggests that they live in the guest house for the time being. The three young boys then inject themselves into her lives but then once the separated husband comes to L.A., bag in hand, people have to figure out what is the best in life for them.

I mean, yeah, it’s a little interesting. The plot relies really heavy on insinuating circumstances, and the fact that all the planets and stars lines up for them perfectly. There are some charming moments, and there are some chuckles, and Reese Witherspoon is always fun to watch whatever she is doing, but ultimately this film is “harmless,” yet ultimately forgettable. It’s like when you run into somebody from high school that wasn’t mean to you, but wasn’t your friend either, but was nice to you all the same. You say hello, what you’ve been up to, and then you leave, forgetting what happened in 24 hours. That’s this film. A casual meeting never to be remembered again.

The acting is good but I feel like the other actors in this film are wasting their time as well, especially Nat Wolff (who plays one of the boys, not even the romantic interest, and this is the guy that completely stole the show in The Fault In Our Stars) and Michael Sheen, who looks depressed after Master of Sex was cancelled. Both of these guys are way too good for this film. Candice Bergen, who plays Reese’s mom in this screams from the hilltops “paycheck.”

I was satisfied with the ending however, going to a place it needed to go and didn’t try to wrap everything up in a nice bow. But yeah, I’ve already forgotten a lot about this movie from seeing it two days ago. But the fact that I didn’t hate it, after seeing the masterful IT, says something. It is possible this movie just wasn’t for me, and that young women and women in general might laugh and love this movie a whole lot. So in the end, I might not be the best person to review this. I would totally recommend for girls out on the town, but for everyone else, you would drive home again from the movies, with this film never making another blip on your brain radar.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: IT

I’ve read IT twice now. I read it about 5 years ago for the first time, and re read it again earlier this year. It’s one of my top 5 favorite books of all time for sure, right along with 1984, 11/22/63, To Kill A Mockingbird, and The Shining. Stephen King is my favorite author, and I have read everyone of his works. So with his movie adaptations, people could say that I am biased either way. I’m either going to be too critical or too lenient. I happen to disagree, I think I’m the perfect person to judge his film adaptations. Maximum Overdrive and The Dark Tower are two of the biggest pieces of shit in cinema history. I do love Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, but feel that the ending short sighted it from being one of my all time favorites. I think the miniseries 11/22/63 was ho hum, but Frank Daranbont’s The Shawshank Redemption is in one of my top ten slots of my favorite films of all time, and The Green Mile ain’t too shabby either. So I’m all over the board with Stephen King adaptations. It could go either way, or it could be straight dead mediocre middle. I love the novel IT, and to say that I think this film is the best Stephen King adaptation since The Shawshank Redemption is no easy feat. Saying it is the one horror film that had freaked me out since the original Scream and the U.S. Version of The Ring, I say in confidence. I enjoyed and was frightened from beginning to end of IT, and think it is the perfect companion to the novel. One of the years’ best films.

Is IT perfect? Hell no. No book to film adaptation is. Some things are changed, for better or for worse. The only straight page to page adaptation I have ever seen is the first Harry Potter film. So when a film isn’t a page to page vision, you have to judge it one what it does bring to the table. It brought everything plus the kitchen sink. My heart pounded from beginning to end, even though I knew the fates of most of the characters. There are a couple of jump scares, but the film mainly tries to get into your head on what fear truly is, what a human being fears, what a child fears. This isn’t horror 101 where it is a cheap jump scare a minute, no, this film mostly has the tension of what lurks in the dark, rather than what just pops out of it.

I’m not going to get into novel vs. film specifics, but to say that it didn’t include two controversial scenes including a homosexual child encounter and a gang bang wasn’t surprising. Those two parts in the novel always bothered me, they are unfilmable and if you were to put it to screen, you’d get slapped with an X rating faster than stealing a cookie out of the cookie jar. It doesn’t try to explain the turtle or Dark Tower connection, but it definitely is there and is hinted at. And of course, this is the kid’s story, so we don’t see the adult versions of themselves. That is going to be saved for Chapter 2, and rightfully so. The book intersperses the two, but for film, that won’t work. We get half the novel here, and at 2 hours and 15 minutes, it is the perfect length to get that half of the story correct. And do they get it correct.

Because you see, the novel is really about childhood and adulthood and how the two correlate. So if you don’t cast the right actors for IT, and they don’t work, you movie immediately tumbles. Thankfully, this is the best child actor casting I have seen in decades. Every casting decision in this is perfect. From Jaeden Lieberher as Bill Denbrough (yes he does stutter, the trailers just don’t show it, and he does it naturally) to Sophia Lillis as Beverly Marsh, to Stranger Things’ Finn Wolfhard as Richie Tozier, and the rest of the gang, they are all perfect. They all deliver their lines with grace, humor, and precision. Their chemistry is off the charts fantastic, and they all exemplify the most important aspect: being believable. It’s the best child acting and chemistry since The Goonies. In fact, this film feels like an 80s nostalgia pic, that Super 8 got super close to copying, but didn’t quite get there, this film does. When The Losers are together on screen, it is magic, and yet they still hold their own when it comes to their individual scenes.

Now let’s get to Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise. Loved it, creepy as fuck, and will make you have clowns dancing in your nightmares. His childlike demeanor and voice are scary and perfect at the same time, really inhabiting what I imagined IT was in the novel. If there is any complaint I have about the film, is that it uses CGI with Pennywise a little two often when practical effects would’ve worked perfectly. It even uses CGI at a point where he is just standing there, which confused me immensely. Maybe they didn’t get a good take and had to redo in post? I don’t know. But while Skarsgard is still fantastic, he would’ve been masterful if not for that damned CGI. I did love though how the movie was brutal and pulled no punches when it came to the horrifying violence. I’m tired of movies making violence off screen when some butthurt punk doesn’t like what he sees on screen when children are being harmed. It’s a fucking movie, deal with it.

I loved how Pennywise is used sparingly though, like he is in the novels, only when he is meant to be there. The kids still see what they fear, it isn’t always just Pennywise. We get the leper and eerie woman painting, and Pennywise shows up to just add to the flavor. You only really get to see him at the very beginning, a minor showdown in the middle, and at the very climax. Speaking of the climax, Pennywise’s lair has to be my favorite set piece of the year. I won’t go into spoilers but I completely and utterly dug what they did and how they relate it to certain things Pennywise says. Magnificent set decoration, design, the whole she bang, I could watch that set piece for hours trying to decipher everything that is in it.

One more complaint, while I loved loved loved loved loved the musical score, it overwhelmed the film at times where it just needed to be silent. Benjamin Wallfisch made a creepy, eerie, yet magical soundtrack, it’s just used in the wrong places in the film, where silence would’ve been golden. You don’t need musical cues to tell you when to be afraid sometimes, you need the silence of the unknown. If the soundtrack was cut off at certain moments, it definitely would’ve elevated the film a lot.

But for my two complaints, I still love this version of IT, and it kicks the shit out of the mini-series back in 1990, great Tim Curry performance and all. I could re watch this multiple times and still enjoy every wonder that pours out on the screen. My heart pounded nearly the entire time and by the time the credits rolled, I was exhausted. Speaking of credits, the credits did something that made me just want to stand up a cheer, you’ll know it when you see it. People that have read this book, don’t have reservations, the film is great, so go and see it. Those who don’t, and find the movie interesting, or love horror films, etc. go check it out, you’ll have a hell of a time. I could float all day in the glory of IT. I could float in the cinematography, the directions, the shots, the acting, for hours on end. And of course you knew I would end with this, if you see it, you’ll float too.