Movie: New Years Eve (2011)

As this will be my last post on this blog for 2011 I thought I'd write something about the appropriately titled movie New Years Eve which I saw at the cinema yesterday.

As always this won't be a review but more a commentary of my thoughts. If you haven't seen this film and don't like potentially having the film spoiled then stop reading now - come back when you've seen it. Though having said that, there are no major spoilers below.

The movie is pretty much a formula ensemble piece of intertwined 'relationship' stories. For me the best of this kind of film is Love Actually (mostly for Bill Nighy's performance).

In the case of New Year's Eve the entire story happens over the course of the day leading up to the New Year and is focused around events linked to the New York City, Time Square, Ball Drop (a world famous New Years event but somewhat over rated unless you're actually at Time Square I suspect).

Ensemble films with plenty of big stars (and this one is filled with them - even in cameo roles) is always hit and miss as to whether it's going to work. At best, usually one or two of the sub stories will pan out and be really interesting whilst the rest will be mostly 'meh'.

New Year's Eve is kind of like that. You may connect with some of the stories but others probably not so much. Though, to the film's credit, it did keep me guessing as to who the mystery girl meeting up with Sam (Josh Duhamel) would be out of the women from several of the other stories.

Generally why I like this kind of film is not for the deep and meaningful stories - which usually aren't that deep - but for the light humor sprinkled throughout all (or at least most of) the stories. There are some really funny moments between Katherine Heigl and SofĂ­a Vergara whose characters are catering the Time Square event. The two couples competing to have the first New Years baby makes for some good humor too. There's also a great scene between John Lithgow (surprisingly uncredited) and Michelle Pfeiffer, where John plays her self centered boss.

One other reason to like this kind of film is seeing how all the stories are linked. It's not obvious straight away but, over the course of the film, each story does become a little more linked to one or more of the others going on. The only problem I had with this in New Year's Eve was that it felt like the people in the stories that had a link didn't really know anything about the other characters in those stories.

For example, though we find out Sarah Jessica Parker's character is Zac Efron's character's older sister, you get no sense that she knows anything about Zac's best friend, played by Ashton Kutcher who's in another story of his own.

I did appreciate the bloopers played through the end credits, though this film does suffer from having some of the best moments in the bloopers - which is always a risk when showing bloopers.

I'm glad I saw this movie on 'budget Tuesday'. It's not a bad film - certainly not as bad as many reviewers have said - just don't go in expecting it to be anything more than very light entertainment.

What to Write? The Problem of Being More Productive

I recently discovered WeekPlan, an online, weekly planner site that I wrote about in my Art Time Productions, Business Advice blog with the post, Time and Project Management for One. The planner is inspired by the book, "Seven Habits of Highly-Effective People" by S. Covey and, at week four of using it, is proving to be very good at increasing my daily productivity.

I'm maintaining a weekly schedule of writing one article for each of my three blogs and still having plenty of time to devote to other projects as part of my daily plan.

The trouble is, writing for this blog (which has always been my main blog), is proving to be quite difficult to find subject matter for on a weekly basis. I've always only written for this blog when inspiration hit or if I was enthusiastic about writing. So trying to maintain a regular schedule of writing for this blog when inspiration isn't knocking is something of a challenge.

I can't write about what I do most of at the moment (Animation) because I made a separate blog for that - which is much easier to write for because I'm always doing something in that area.

I can't really write about Art Business because I made a separate blog for that too. Again much easier to write for too because the topic is so specific.
Red Dragon, Acrylic on Canvas
December 2011

Writing about my painting is something I could do but I find this a bit bland from my point of view. That is, most of my painting is what it is and isn't really that enhanced by explaining the inspiration behind most of the work.

For example, I recently painted this Red Dragon (see image right). I've explained before that I like drawing dragons because you can make them look like anything and I particularly like posing them in really awkward positions. It doesn't get much deeper than that. There's no symbolism, no hidden message. I wasn't inspired by other dragon images... I just doodled a dragon in my sketch book and then turned the doodle into a painting.

Oscar, our Dog.
I've written about our pets before and I have no doubt I could easily devote my one article a week to the antics of Oscar, out pet dog. However I don't want to start looking like I'm an obsessive pet owner, infatuated with every little thing Oscar does.

Yes, he is quite a character and yes I take him for a walk every day but for the most part he sleeps somewhere nearby whilst I'm being 'more productive'.

If you've stuck with this article to this point you may realize that I'm really just waffling to get myself through this week's post. This is the kind of article I write when I don't know what to write. It beats staring at a blank page and is a tried and true method of breaking writers block... just write whatever you're thinking.

I need to get back into the mindset that I had for a while where I would consciously look for things that might translate well into a blog post. Hopefully I can do that soon so you'll get some interesting and insightful reading instead of largely meaningless articles like this.

At least I'm being more productive... right?

Christmas Sales Lower Than Expected - Retailers

Every year at about this time news reports focus on shopping. In particular, shopping in the central city (in my case that is Adelaide, South Australia). Every year sales are reported as lower than expected - at least I don't ever recall any report saying sales were higher than expected.

What this does is give the impression that retailers are doing it tough when in fact they're probably doing perfectly fine. Sales are still up, with more people buying during the festive season, it's just not as high as they expected.

It's almost become a traditional pre-Christmas whinge.

As you may know I sell my own original art and prints of my art through this website and Redbubble. I even sell Christmas cards featuring my art. For me Christmas sales so far are exactly as I expected - Zero.

It's not as if I don't promote what I sell or let people know my work would make a great Christmas gift. It's also not as if I don't have plenty of people telling me they enjoy my work. For some reason Christmas sales, for the most part, are elusive for me... except for that one year when I had a rush on. I bought ten of my own Christmas cards.

Yeah, I'm not bitter! LOL

I'm not really complaining. Overall I do okay. Mostly from Ebay auctions of my original art and my Art Business Services (to which I recently added animation services). Sometimes it's a long spell between jobs but eventually something turns up to keep me afloat for a few more months.

I'd just like to say my Christmas sales were higher than expected for once. I'm sure many of those city retailers would like to say their Christmas sales were higher than expected too.

Let It Be Beatles Show in Gawler

Last weekend I went along to see the Let It Be Beatles show at a local hotel as a tag along guest at my partner's work Christmas function. I wouldn't say I'm a fanatical fan of Beatles music but I do enjoy most of their hits - though my preference is for their later work, when they were able to really explore their musical creativity.

Personally I was a little disappointed by the show, not because of the band or the performance but because it was just too loud for the room. Don't get me wrong, I like my live music loud but I was having a hard time making out what the band members were  saying even just speaking into the microphones between songs.

Granted we were seated near the front, so you'd expect it to be louder but we were still at the opposite side of the dance floor to the band and there was a table (it was dinner and a show) of people in front of us. I'm sure it sounded great to the people up the back, down the elevator and in the ground floor dining room.

Just before the first interval the band also said they were having trouble hearing themselves - so the sound definitely wasn't right even for them.

We left about two thirds into the show because our ears just couldn't take it anymore. Mine were buzzing every time the music got a little loud - and that was after the sound guy seemed to get the level a little more appropriate for the room. Still could hear the band clearly at the bottom of the stair well (located right up the opposite side of the hotel to where the band was) as we left.

I didn't get to hear the songs from later albums I would like to have heard but one could argue I wouldn't really have heard them had we stayed - since I was trying to block my ears a little to get the volume down without much success.

However, don't let me put you off if you're a Beatles fan and you'd like to see a really good cover band perform their songs faithfully to the originals. Let It Be Beatles certainly did that well on the songs that I knew. A particular highlight was 'Paperback Writer,' despite only being able to hear about half the lyrics.

On a side note...

Maybe I don't get out to events often enough but it struck me as kind of fascinating to see so many people watching the show with (smart) mobile phones close to hand. Plenty of people taking pictures or just generally doing things on their phones - especially at our table.

I have a smart phone too but I don't live through it when I'm out. Most of the time it's a substitute for not wearing a watch or so my partner can text me. Occasionally I'll use it for internet or take pictures and video but not that often.

It was just fascinating to see so many phones because I remember a time when you could go to events like this and even the first consumer digital cameras hadn't been invented yet. For the people in the audience that actually went to a Beatles concert (and there were one or two because the band asked) it may have been quite a reminder at just how far technology has progressed.

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