Saturday, February 26, 2011

Movie Review: The Social Network

The Social Network

I wanted to love this movie. That's not to say I didn't like it, because I did - but it's an Oscar nominee? Meh.

There were some brilliant things going on in the script. The opening scene was effective in setting up the background, the tone, and especially the main character. We join the story as Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg faces off with a soon-to-be-ex-girlfriend over a bar table. He's a know-it-all. He's a narcissist. He's condescending without meaning to be, just because he's so focused on himself. She eventually gets fed up and walks out on him for good, saying being with him is like dating a stairmaster. Oh, and by the way, she adds, he's going to have trouble with girls in the future and he'll think it's because he's a nerd, but it's really because he's an asshole. Snap! Score one for the ex.

He then goes back to his dorm room, launches into the dangerous combination of drinking and blogging, then hacks into a bunch of university systems to grab pictures of girls to post on the impromptu "Facemash" hot coed comparison site. After he emails out the link, so many people log on that it crashes the network and gains him a lot of attention, including that of a couple of athletic rich-guy brothers named Winklevoss. They ask him to help them set up a new social website called Harvard Connection, but Zuckerberg takes the idea and runs with it himself, creating what he then refers to as "The Facebook."

Lawsuits follow, including a mess with his best (and only) friend and Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin. Meanwhile, what started out as a genius cool computer geek idea is turning into what will become a multi-billion dollar company. The new social site spreads from Harvard to a few other universities, then all over the country, to England, and eventually the entire known universe... or something like that.

The movie is dark. I don't mean dark as in morbid, but actually dark like it's filmed in dim light. Sometimes it's hard to see what's going on. It's also noisy at times, particularly in a couple of bar scenes, and I found myself straining to hear the dialogue. Maybe this all lends some realism to it, which is appropriate since it's the story of some regular guys - as regular as Harvard guys can be - who make good, or more accurately make good while being totally, soul-suckingly self-absorbed.

Justin Timberlake steals the show as Napster founder Sean Parker, over whom Zuckerberg fawns. This guy is incredibly talented and funny. Have you seen his "Cock in a Box" video from Saturday night live? He could have gone down the wrong road after the whole boy band and dating Britney thing, but he's been a great surprise.

The Social Network left me feeling a little creepy inside, and I felt like a sucker posting on Facebook after watching it. Several days later I'm still thinking about it, though, which isn't something I can say about many movies. It wasn't the film of the year, despite its Academy Award nomination, but it's worth watching if you don't mind cranking the volume, squinting through some dark scenes, and being prepared to dislike the story's anti-hero protagonist.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Giveaway: Pillsbury Toaster Strudel

Pillsbury Doughboy prepares to nap near steaming strudel?

I love contests! Here I am with a brand new blog and dying to give something away. Let's start small. How about seven coupons for free Pillsbury Toaster Strudel? They expire on 7/7/11 and each is good for one 6-count box up to $3 in price, for a total $21 value.

To enter, comment below about your favorite snack food. For an extra entry, follow Rainy Days on Google Friend Connect (lower left) and leave a second comment letting me know.

Want some rules? This giveaway will start on 2/23/11 and end at 11:59 pm Pacific time on 2/28/11. You can enter if you're a resident of the US age 18 or older. Odds of winning depend on the number of entries, which is unknown considering this blog has been alive for all of about three days. Limit one initial entry per person. I'll pick a winner using and notify you by email, so be sure your email address is either in your profile or in your comment.

Winner Update 3/1/11

Congratulations to dddiva, who was randomly selected as the Toaster Strudel winner! Thanks to everyone for entering and check back for future giveaways.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Bathroom Remodeling: My Husband is Going to Kill Me

The vanity I bought today. I love it!

I've been a bit manic today. The mice in my brain have been running their wheel harder than usual trying to straighten out the loose ends of my bathroom remodel that starts tomorrow. Tomorrow! I've been on edge, frustrated, and in "hurry up" mode, none of which pleases my darling husband, who has had to put up with me all day.

It got going a couple of weeks ago when a good friend, who is also a contractor, offered to help and took me on a long stroll through Home Depot to look at bath fixtures. I then took the resulting list, logged on to the Internet, and proceeded to tear my selections apart. An elaborate spreadsheet was born and quickly populated with items, prices, numbers and locations. I optimized what could be ordered online with free shipping and a discount, and what I should get B&M coupons to buy.

Now half this stuff is in my garage and the other half is on its way. The guys will be here in the morning to start on "demo" work (tearing my bathroom apart) so the new pieces can go in. We're basically gutting both bathrooms in the house and getting rid of all the 70's-era fixtures, and the awful shower that previously won a prize in a "dirty shower" contest.

My husband tried to be patient while I kept blathering on about tile and towel bars and bath rugs. He's one of those guys who cares how his house looks but would rather not be too deeply involved in the process. I try to inform him enough so he won't say, "Hey, what the hell is that?" when something shows up, but not so much that he's overwhelmed. He picked a nice paint color today, and I needed him there at Lowe's to help lift the vanity we bought.

Before we left to go bowling tonight, I was deeply involved in selecting towels on the Macy's web site. I mean deeply, obsessively involved, considering various permutations based on factors including color, brand, user reviews, size, shape, price, texture, design, material, whether they'd work in one or both bathrooms, whether I should get bath rugs or tub towels, etc. I'd love to just walk into a store, pick up a towel and say, "This one looks OK," buy it and move on with my life without examining and reexamining every little aspect of the towel's potential future existence in my home.

These decisions made me a big ball of stress today. I had to relax and spin down at the bowling alley, and now I'm feeling much more zen about the whole thing. I know the bathrooms will turn out beautifully and we're both excited to see the transformation. Assuming my exhaustive planning pays off and the guys come through with their usual great work, we'll have two nice bathrooms to enjoy - and I believe my husband will keep me!