Tag Archives: TWOPANDAS

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Hi Panda Lovers
My new home is going great guns and would love to see you there.
You can get your fill of TV, FILM, OP ED PIECES, and BRISBANE AUSTRALIA FOCUSED PIECES.

Some of the popular tv shows I review are:
SMALLVILLE, VAMPIRE DIARIES, NIKITA, THE WALKING DEAD, CAPRICA, FRINGE, BOARDWALK EMPIRE, MAD MEN, PRETTY LITTLE LIARS, HAWAII FIVE-0, COMMUNITY and many more.

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Review – Stargate Universe – Visitation

Dear Santa. I would like a pony, a puppy, oh and not to die alone.

This week:
What a left behind has returned. Hope is dashed. Love makes hard decisions and a wish is made reality.

Pluses:
The nice little twist at the end.
The “something missing” effect.
Greer’s farewell to Chloe.

Minuses:
What happened last week seems to be forgotten.
A glimmer of hope once again smashed by the show (including buy in by audience of TJ’s baby)
Unnecessary pain and suffering.

For the love of pete, please do something with your minor characters. Volker is begging for a real story – he is probably the most interesting of the minor players and what I have seen of Patrick Gilmore’s acting here and in Riese, he could deliver something really strong, funny, interesting – anything! Or how about some more Vanessa James- I would even take more Brody (and yes while Kelamis is an Aussie – I don’t think his character is as interesting as Gilmore’s). We were going somewhere with James and then the wheels just fell off. The main characters are decidedly boring with only Greer and Eli still really engaging. Please!!!

#twopandas

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Review – Howl – #BIFF

Awwwww.

Straight up – I am not a modern poetry kind of Panda.
That being said, I was interested in Howl because of what it achieved, not so much the poem itself which I have never read.
Ginsberg is one of the most celebrated poets of the last century, and I wanted to know why and how he achieved this fame.
Unfortunately that really wasn’t the primary focus on the movie. It really felt like there were four movies in one, none of them to the depth I needed to really “get” it. Firstly we have Ginsberg reading the poem in a club. Secondly we have an imagining of the poem through animation. Thirdly we had him being interviewed post poem and trial. Forthly we had the trial. Oh and we also had him writing the poem.

Pluses:
I didn’t mind the animation for the first half of the movie but it got old fast.
Courtroom pieces.
Grinsberg’s recollections.

Minuses:
The poem.
Too many competing voices.
I really wanted to know more about Ginsberg than we got.

Not really my cup of tea and bit too all over for me to connect with this highly regarded piece. I walked in with expectations and they weren’t met.

#twopandas

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Review – Smallville – Ambush

This week:
Pappa Lane (The General) and Lucy Lana (conniving little sister) show up at the Kent Farm for Thanksgiving. Clark is tested. Lois is tested. Lucy is tricked. The Blur saves the day.

Pluses:
Was so sweet seeing Lois stand up for Clark.
Rick Flagg.
No Chloe in credits.

Minuses:
Wasn’t a whole lot going on… just a tad about the resistance.
No Lex.

Bit of a filler episode but still some very fun moments. I enjoyed watching it, but it hasn’t left much of a lasting impression. The ongoing theme of being ambushed was actually well done. That alone gets one of the two pandas awarded to this week’s amusing but forgettable episode.

#twopandas

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Review – Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives #BIFF

Good evening, ghost of my dead wife. Would you like something to drink?

I would like to start by saying I have NO idea what this film was about, what it was an analogy for (if it was) or what the outcome was (if it had one).

I picked this film because it got great reviews (according to the guide) and that it was an art film for everyone. Maybe the definition of an art film is that you are not supposed to have a clue what is going on.

I, and from the confused sounds around me, the entire cinema sat there perplexed for two hours waiting for it to tie together. If people did work it out, I wouldn’t have seen all the “Lost the Plot” and “Not my Cup of Tea” tears on the evaluation sheets.

In short.

There is a cow. The cow sees this black thing with red eyes. We then meet the main characters who talk about nothing consequential – other than illegal immigrants being bad and likely to stab you then rob you (was just like listening to an ALP or Liberal rally only in Thai). They have dinner. Ghost of dead wife shows up. Black thing with red eyes turns out to be a monkey ghost man who is the lead character’s missing son. He had sex with a monkey man ghost thing and became one. Cut to a princess in love with her chair bearer who wishes she was pretty. She meets a talking catfish who proceeds to have oral sex with her. Cut back to main characters – they go for a walk into a dark cave. Man thinks he was born here (shot of baby catfish). There is his voice over with modern photos of Thai youth (military and not) doing every day stuff. He then dies. There is a funeral. Two remaining main characters decide to go out for dinner but they aren’t really themselves as their bodies are still watching TV (looked like a piece about SARS).

The end.

I HAVE NO IDEA!

Pluses:
I am still thinking about it.
I liked the the main female had a disability.
Some cute one liners.
Lovely paradoxes (eg. putting a face mask on for a medical procedure but not wearing gloves).

Minuses:
It was predominately shot with natural light so often the subject matter was hard to make out.
Minimal dialogue that didn’t clear anything up.
Confusing as all heck.
Sound problems.
Hand held camera for a whole section.
Did I mention I have no idea what was going on?

It was still better than I Am You – but don’t recommend it unless you want to be baffled. If you did see this and know what it means, can you please drop me tweet @howmanypandas or email me HowManyPandas AT gmail.com? I am going google some reviews and see if someone has worked out what it is about – maybe even an interview with the director.

#twopandas
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Happy Anniversary CityCycle

It has been one month since CityCycle commenced its roll out.

So how has it been traveling? If you read the local papers or online news sites, it is doomed to fail, taking the council’s money with it. But it isn’t all doom and gloom. Really.

There has been much comparison to the failure of Melbourne’s bike hire scheme, and how they are now doing vending machines to provide helmets for riders. In my humble opinion, that isn’t the issue. Melbourne has less stations and it was also launched in Winter. Was someone not having a helmet the deal breaker on riding? Personally, I don’t think so.

CityCycle is designed to be an alternative to other forms of transport for commuters. Commuters know they are commuting. My helmet (in its yellow CityCycle bag) goes with me if I think I will use the scheme – just like my GoCard goes with me – there is a difference in size I must admit. On the very odd occasion that you are out and spontaneously wish you could ride a CityCycle from Roma Street to Fortitude Valley, yes it is a shame you can’t hit the vending machine for a helmet, swipe a credit card, and ride. But really, that is not the majority, and not what it was intended for – if this was me, I would just jump on a bus. CityCycle isn’t designed to replace other forms of transport, it compliments it.

Much has also been made of the $11 a day cost, comparing it to bus fares. I paid my $60 upfront, that is what, 17-18 cents a day. Six days in twelve months is all you would have to use it to break even (give or take) on the daily rate. The other way of looking at it is this – a year’s membership approximately equates to one zone trip on your GoCard every two weeks. I have used CityCycle 30+ times in the past month and that would have been much more had it not been for rain and the 10pm lock out. I also did nine hours more exercise last month than I would have otherwise, not including the walking to and from the stations.

It hasn’t all been puppies and chocolate… There are some problems.

CityCycle’s biggest problem is its own poor communication.

Its webpage is atrocious. Unnecessary clicks, hard to find information, woeful design etc. Their app is better, but has some problems. You really have to spend a bit of time to set it up with your stations to get the benefit of it, and live isn’t really live or always correct.

The Call Centre is either brilliant or hopeless. Some staff know what is going on, most don’t. Give them with a problem outside of “how do I register?” or “how do I use my card to hire a bike?” and they are stumped. Some of their staff are just downright hopeless at customer service. You can read more about this here.

Another problem are stations that look live, aren’t. An Opening Soon sign on the machine would be great – as the little one on the racks are also on live stations – so how can you tell, especially if someone has already racked a bike? Commercial Rd / Skyring Tce (Teneriffe CityCat, Cross River Ferry, Bus Hub) Station 66 is a great case in point – there were 9 bikes there recently, yet it is a closed station. I would love to know what happened to those people who left bikes there.

The biggest issue in my area, New Farm/Teneriffe/Merthyr, is lack of bikes or lack of racks – which probably contributed to the Station 66 problem. This morning (Sunday) at 8am I rode to Merthyr – my app said 2 racks available but figured I might jag one or at worst, rack at New Farm Park. Knowing the problem in my area, I counted how many racks were available along Macquarie St and Merthyr Rd – seven. Just seven free racks over four stations. Granted I was on the main drag and didn’t check New Farm CityCat or the Powerhouse, but lack of racks is a big issue. Because not all the stations are live yet, there are limited options to rack in popular areas. When I got to Merthyr Village this morning I got the last space, though the machine and my app still said there were two. Thankfully the lack of bikes issue has settled down, and I haven’t gone past a live empty station in the last week.

The Bikes:
Predominantly very good. I have had three dodgy bikes. Two with gear issues, one with a broken seat lever. 3 from 30 is a 10% fail rate, though only one was not ridable.
I love the basket – no hot and sweaty backpack! Fits my laptop perfectly and handles a baguette with some shopping no issues.
The lights come on automatically.
Seats are nice and wide.
Brakes are OK – not super, but as you aren’t going that fast, it isn’t much of an issue.
People who say the bikes look sissy just don’t get that it is for comfort and stability and not sleek racing in lycra. I have seen more guys on CityCycles than girls – so I don’t think any guy who is comfortable with their sexuality have a problem with the bikes.

Just one new station in the past two weeks.

 

The Stations:
One station at least, has real issues. Merthyr crashes itself and resets regularly. Some bikes are stuck. That is you can see the bike, but the rack number doesn’t come up as an option.
Station updates (and the app + webpage) aren’t really live. I have been to a station that had closed for service, yet was still listed as open (red) on the webpage. There is also a lag to updating numbers of bikes and racks.
Some stations are poorly designed with racks quite a distance from the machine. Sucks when you pick that bike, go to release it and it doesn’t. Walk back, repeat a few times till the machine resets.
The roll out of stations makes glaciers look like F1 cars. After two weeks, five more stations went live (including the reopening of a broken station). In the following two weeks, only one more.
Unless I can’t count, we still don’t have 50 stations open – given their current lag in opening stations, I doubt that they can do the rest by the end of the year – let alone another 100 in the new 14 months.
Stations in key areas are still not open – Southbank and the Northern end of The Valley are cases in point.

The Service:
When it works, it works brilliantly.
When it doesn’t, often staff don’t know how to solve the problem, or they don’t have the resources to do so. Being told that they don’t have the staff to move bikes when stations get full regularly isn’t what you want to hear. Being told they don’t have the staff to move bikes on the weekend is even worse.
The last official comment I can find states that subscriptions were increasing at around 60 a day. There was a little over 1000 by the end of the first weekend, so that would put membership at around 1,800 so far if registrations remained constant.  I was told today by a fellow CityCycler that there were just under 2,000.
The service does work. I came across bike #00001 on Saturday morning. I took her for three rides before she disappeared from Merthyr this morning. I had just picked a new bike and lo and behold a girl rides up to do her shopping on #00001. Someone had ridden it to another station and she had picked it up taking it on yet another journey. One bike had taken three people off the bus or out of their car in just the space of a few hours.

Highlights:
Riding in the early morning sun along the boardwalk at Teneriffe (frequently).
Having a chat with an old man about how much he loves CityCycle as we ran into eachother in a cafe, both with our CityCycle bags and helmets.
Hearing friends and acquaintances explain excitedly that their stations were getting closer to opening.
Seeing the same faces on the bikes… sometimes I am reminded of the Prius Smug episode in Southpark… we do look pretty pleased with ourselves.
Riding to meet friends for dinner, parties, coffee and picnics and not once having to wait for a bus or circle the block over and over for a park.
Seeing that I can ride to BIFF.
Getting fitter.

Low Lights:
Poor Customer Service at the Call Centre.
Almost getting taken out by a silver Audi that swerved in front of me, blocking the bike lane, to reverse park.
Almost riding into a silver BMW that braked through a stop sign into the bike lane at a T intersection.
Almost falling off my CityCycle when I was seeing if you could ride the bike into the rack.
Planning a night out, only to find out that there were still no stations live within 500m of the venue – I just ended up walking.

A month in, we are still at #twopandas though on some brilliant mornings it is a 5 star start to my day. We have a long way to go yet.

#twopandas
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Review – Smallville – Homecoming (200th ep)

Smallville Homecoming Lois

I went here, damnit!

This week:
Its the 5 year reunion for Smallville High. Lois wants to go. Clark doesn’t really but does anyway. Oh hi there Brainiac. Time travel. Twee set ups. Clark realises he can trust Lois. Lois decides to tell Clark. Neither happens.

Pluses:
Was nice to see James Masters again.
Lois’ experience in her return was fun.

Minuses:
Bad acting.
Where was Pete?
Poor use of James Masters.
Lack of depth to the story.

This was a cute episode that helped Clark stop whining little a little emo.  The cute though wasn’t consistent – it was often cringe worthy. It could have been so much more. Sure, for the 200th ep you expect a little flashback, but it was lame flashback city. The forward flashes could have been so good, but they weren’t.  One word describes this ep – Filler.

#twopandas


Review – The Last Airbender

Like a cookie made with the wrong ingredients.

First up – I had never seen the show. Apparently I am the only person in the world who hasn’t according to some friends, but I thought it important to get that info out on the table.

Synopsis:
Fire bad. Water good. Air better. Fluffy things fly. Chinese people play with dirt. Oh noes, lots of people are dead. Santa’s elves wear blue. Big battle. It doesn’t end.

Pluses:
The idea of the story is solid.
I liked that each tribe fought differently (and I don’t mean what they bend).
Some of the special effects were kinda cool.

Minuses:
Seemed like it was missing something.
Some acting was terrible!
Mulletts!
Protagonist not overly likeable.
Supporting characters weren’t developed enough to click with me.

I was trying to think how to explain how I felt after watching this movie. It was like a really yummy biscuit recipe that had been made with the wrong ingredients, like margarine instead of butter. The basis of the story was great. The protagonist Aang was annoying. I didn’t like him at all. I felt the character of Zuko lacked depth, I mean they tried, but it came across as terribly one dimensional. I wanted to know what will happen, but not enough to go to the movies. It did pique my interest enough to log onto iTunes and buy the first series though. I am now 4 eps in, and I can see why people were so disappointed with the movie, already I can see what I should have seen in the movie with the characters. I look forward to adventuring in animated form with Aang and co. I will review each series when I am done.

#twopandas


Review – Caprica – Retribution

 

 

So much talent, so little time.

This week:
Flashbacks. Suicide. Flashbacks. Murder. Flashbacks. Betrayal. Flashbacks. Boom. Flashbacks.

Pluses:
I like the police development.
Interesting development of Lucy Rand.

Minuses:
Dealt only with the Religion premise, not Humanity.
Even though lots of things happened it felt slower than treacle going up hill in winter.
Complete waste of James Masters (again).
Lack of empathy developing for main characters.
No Adama development.
Way too many flashbacks.
No silver hotpants (ie. No New Cap City).

Caprica moves slow. We know this. But what I don’t understand is how an episode with four deaths caused by other characters can feel so slow. Perhaps in a few weeks I will look back at this episode and see it as a game changer, recognising all the clues I missed, but right now, I am hoping that things “step up” next week. The ground work has been laid, let’s make it happen!

#twopandas


Review – Bones – Season 6 eps 1-4

 

 

Cross Promotion Anyone?

This week/s:
Random people do something. They find a body/bodies. Bones and team interact in often humourous ways while using science and “dectecting.” Romantic innuendo. They solve the case.

Pluses:
The characters are still fun in their limited and repetitive ways.
Squintern of the week.

Minuses:
For the love of Pete can we PLEASE break from pattern!??!
Ridiculous professional antics.
Lack of empathy for victim and killer.
Extremely limited character development.

I don’t know – I was hoping Bones would step up this year, what with the new love interest for Booth and all, but it is just the same old same old. I was VERY disappointed part of the plot on the season return… without giving anything away, the team are so fantastic that they do in <24 hours what a team of professionals couldn’t do in 6 weeks.  God, and don’t even get me started on the Jersey Shore cross promotion episode. That was painful.
Don’t get me wrong, this is still a bit of fun, a kind of thinking man’s totty – but I won’t be setting the record button on IceTV app. It used to be I would watch Bones then fall asleep through Castle. This season it is the reverse. I will fall asleep through Bones and set up Castle for record.

#twopandas