Campus Jax – Newport Beach Restaurant Week – Day 2

Due to family obligations, I missed Day1 of Newport Beach Restaurant Week. I love this week because I can visit one of these fancy restaurants for an inexpensive pre-fixe menu.

Today’s restaurant adventure takes us to Campus Jax in the Airport District of Newport Beach. It’s a nice sports bar located in an industrial park. The interior boasts wooden floors and a great deal of dining space. Wooden tables, booths and chairs provide the comfort one desires and a serving staff that’s just as friendly.

Today we try Campus Jax $10 Lunch. My two choices are the Creole Deviled Eggs and the Pulled BBQ Pork Bowl. This proved to be a nice little value for $10. The Creole Deviled Eggs were your standard fair deviled eggs will a little kick of paprika. Tasty but average.

The Pulled BBQ Pork Bowl was a bowl of brown rice, coleslaw and pulled pork. Tasty, but I could have done without the coleslaw. This center layer was just a little too sweet and kind of soured the taste of the brown rice.

I would definitely come back to Campus Jax for the food, beer and sports.

3D Face Scanner From Your Mobile Device – Bellus3D CES Preview

Meet the Bellus3d Face Scanner. Bellus3D Face Camera is an easy-to-use, high-quality, and affordable 3D face scanning camera for mobile devices. The Face Camera is designed for self-scanning. Simply attach the Face Camera to a smartphone or a tablet, turn your head from left to right, and start creating amazing 3D face models in seconds. You are ready to share your virtual self with others, be a star in your favorite games, or get an accurate 3D print of your head.

Bellus3D Face Camera combines two proprietary state-of-the-art technologies that measure 500,000 3D points on your face to create a high-resolution and accurate face model in seconds. The scanned model can further be used to fit a statistical face model for face recognition, analysis, and animation.

DepthShape™ reconstructs 3D shape using an infrared structured-light sensor designed for close range scanning at up to 0.4mm resolution.

PhotoShape™ leverages mobile device’s high-resolution front-facing camera to capture face details such as skin pores and wrinkles. An optional LED ring light ensures your face is captured with perfect lighting and color every time.

The scans can also be printed creating a lifelike face mask.

Bellus3D

The Face Camera and its Android SDK will be available in limited quantity to third-party developers to create their own applications in Q1, 2017.

Bellus3D Face Camera combines two proprietary and patent-pending technologies that measure up to 500K 3D face points to create a high-resolution and accurate face model. DepthShape™ reconstructs 3D shape using dual infrared structured-light sensors designed for close range scanning at sub-millimeter resolution. PhotoShape™ leverages mobile device’s high-resolution front-facing camera to capture face details such as skin pores and wrinkles. In comparison, most existing mobile 3D scanners measure only about 50K face points and cannot capture face details.

“Many mobile applications require an easy and inexpensive way to capture high-quality 3D face models,” said Eric Chen, co-founder & CEO at Bellus3D Inc. “Existing 3D scanners on the market are either too expensive or not designed for high-quality face scanning. Bellus3D Face Camera will be a game changer that allows many new 3D face applications to emerge.”

One of the first applications to be built on the Bellus3D Face Camera platform allows users to scan their own face and then digitally apply makeup, allowing them to determine which ‘look’ suits them best, without the time and mess associated with normal trial-and-error.

Segerstrom Center’s Off Center Festival 2017 Announced – January 12 – 28, 2017

Segerstrom Center’s annual Off Center Festival returns January 12 – 28, 2017 with an acclaimed line-up of creative, contemporary and sometimes controversial artists and shows. The festival will present Keith A. Wallace in THE BITTER GAME, Mariachi Flor de Toloache, Marga Gomez in Latin Standards, Belarus Free Theatre in Time of Women, Choir! Choir! Choir! and Justin Vivian Bond in Justin Vivian Bond Shows Up. The Off Center Lounge in Leatherby’s Café Rouge will be open again with a special low-cost post-performance menu and the opportunity to mix and mingle with festival artists.

Buy more, save more! Single tickets are $25 and are on sale now. If you buy two productions, tickets are $20. If you buy three or more productions, tickets are just $15. (Choir! Choir! Choir! is free but a ticket is required to reserve a spot. Reservations accepted beginning January 8.) Tickets can be purchased online at SCFTA.org, at the Box Office at 600 Town Center Drive in Costa Mesa or by calling (714) 556-2787.

Reporting From CES 2017

The Geek Lab is living the life in Las Vegas this week as we attend the Consumer Electronics Show this week. We have pictures, interviews, and reports that we’ll bring you over the next several weeks. Join us on Sunday, January 8 at 3 pm at KTST fm Anaheim for part one of our report.

The Fun of Nintendo Comes to Universal Studios Parks Around the World

Imagine the fun of stepping into a larger-than-life Nintendo adventure.  Gigantic Piranha Plants spring to life.  Question blocks, power-ups and more surround you.  And Mario and all his friends are there to pull you into a brand-new world.

Universal Parks & Resorts and Nintendo will bring the fun of Nintendo games to life with expansive, highly themed environments to three Universal theme parks around the globe. Guests will enter a world of excitement where it will feel as if they are playing inside their favorite Nintendo games. The creative visionaries behind Nintendo’s legendary worlds and characters are working together with the creative teams behind Universal’s blockbuster theme park attractions. Mark Woodbury, President of Universal Creative, and Shigeru Miyamoto with Nintendo, Creator of Mario, shared details of the goal to bring the characters, action and adventure of Nintendo video games to life within Universal theme parks. The new themed areas come as the result of a global partnership between Universal Parks & Resorts and Nintendo. Universal theme parks create incredibly popular family entertainment experiences for millions of people based on compelling characters, stories and innovative technology. Nintendo creates remarkable and imaginative worlds filled with captivating stories and beloved characters. Each Universal theme park will announce details of its specific Nintendo areas. The first such announcement will come soon.

You will enter an entire realm filled with iconic Nintendo excitement, gameplay, heroes and villains.   And it is coming to three Universal theme parks around the globe.

The creative visionaries behind Nintendo’s legendary worlds and characters are working together with the creative teams behind Universal’s blockbuster theme park attractions.  Their goal: to bring the characters, action and adventure of Nintendo video games to life within Universal theme parks.  And to do so in new and innovative ways that capture what makes them so special.  All of the adventure, fun and whimsy you experience through a screen will now be all around you – in breathtakingly authentic ways.

  • Nintendo-themed areas are coming to Universal Studios Japan, Universal Orlando Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood.
  • These will be expansive, immersive and interactive.  They will be highly themed and authentic environments filled with multiple attractions, shops and restaurants.
  • Guests will feel as if they are playing inside their favorite games – this time in real life.
  • There will be something for everyone – regardless of their age or gaming experience level.
  • Planning and creative work on these areas is well underway; they will open separately over the next several years.

The new themed areas come as the result of a global partnership between Universal Parks & Resorts and Nintendo – two icons of the entertainment world.  Universal theme parks create incredibly popular family entertainment experiences for millions of people based on compelling characters, stories and innovative technology.  Nintendo creates remarkable and imaginative games filled with captivating stories and beloved characters.

Victor Walk – Movie Review – Dances With Films

Victor Walk is a documentary about NHL Stanley Cup Winner Theo Fleury and his 10-day walk from Toronto to Ottawa, Canada’s capital. His 400-kilometer walk is meant to bring awareness for adults, who were sexually abused as children and to urge Canadian lawmakers to strengthen laws against predators and support for their victims.

Dances with Films 2016 – World Premiere
Director:
Michael David Lynch
Subject: Theo Fleury

Victor Walk is a powerful documentary focusing on adult victims of sexual abuse. It does everything that a documentary has to do to shed light on a serious problem facing Canadians and Americans. In North America, 1 out of 4 men and 1 out of 3 women have been sexually abused.

Fleury uses the Victor Walk to first show that victims of sexual abuse no longer need to let their abuse define who they are. The struggle for survival was not easy, but Fleury overcame and is now victorious over his abuse.

As a teen, Fleury was sexually abused by his hockey coach. Quickly becoming an NHL star, Fleury fought the demons of anger, drugs and gambling. Soon his career and riches were gone. Fleury found himself alone in a room ready to commit suicide. Choosing survival, Fleury’s life is now dedicated to letting his fellow Canadians know this by walking from Toronto to Ottawa. It is in Ottawa that Fleury will ultimately confront lawmakers asking them to make real reforms in the prosecution of sex offenders.

Not only does Victor Walk educate us about the current state of sexual abuse in Canada, but it connects us with real faces left in the wake of abuse. For 10 days, Fleury would walk 400 kilometers and never a day goes by along the walk that dozens of adults come out to lend support and for many releases, for the first time, the specter of abuse they have been carrying all their lives until today. Fleury is there to encourage these brave men and women to find victory.

Like a good documentary, Victor Walk leaves its audiences feeling like more needs to be done. It’s hard not to feel compassion for those suffering in silence, feel joy when a victim finally frees themselves by talking and anger that the laws of Canada (and the United States for that matter) don’t do enough to keep predators behind bars.

There are a lot of information warning children and parents about sexual predators. Victor Walk is one of the rare movies that speaks directly to adults, who have had to hide their shame for decades. You can learn more about Victor Walk and upcoming screenings at victorwalkdoc.com.

X-Men: Apocalypse – Movie Review

From director Bryan Singer and writer Simon Kinberg, X-Men: Apocalypse resurrects the first and most powerful mutant to do battle against the infamous X-Men.

Release Date: May 27, 2016
Writer: Simon Kinberg
Director: Bryan Singer
Cast: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Oscar Isaac, Nicholas Hoult, Rose Byrne

Since the dawn of civilization, the first mutant Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) escaped death by moving his essence from mutant host to mutant host. With each transition, he would take on that mutant’s power. As he became more powerful, the humans around him would worship him as God.

That is until that last transition, when the human, who served him, revolted and was able to defeat Apocalypse. But defeat and death are two different things. For the next several millennia, efforts have been made to dig Apocalypse from his grave. All attempts unsuccessful…until the 1980’s.

It has been ten years since the events of X-Men: Days of Future Past. Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) has built a school out of his mansion home. Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) has been rescuing mutants from abuse and exploitation. In the process, she has become a hero to other mutants. Magneto (Michael Fassbender) has withdrawn into hidden seclusion with his new wife and daughter.

At the new school, Xavier gives each student a proper education and help in controlling his/her powers. With dreams of one-day uniting humans and mutants, Xavier is optimistic about the progress of his school. He is faced with some challenging students. Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) is a telepath, which is more powerful and more dangerous than Xavier. Scott Summers (Tye Sheridan) emits a dangerously powerful optic blast from his eye and needs help controlling it.

The students are now called prematurely into action when Apocalypse arrives and recruits his four horsemen: Angel (Ben Hardy), Psylocke (Oliva Munn), Storm (Alexandra Shipp) and yes…Magneto. After the betrayal of his friends and neighbors, Erik’s wife and daughter are killed. As Magneto, Erik joins Apocalypse to once and for all put an end to the reign of humans on Earth.

As you can see, there is a lot of story going on in X-Men: Apocalypse. This is also the main problem of the movie. In a superhero movie, audiences want action and except for a few minor set pieces, the action does not happen until the third act of the film. The first two acts hint at the powers of most characters, but it is really Xavier and Magneto who have the action. This action is McAvoy putting his fingers to his head and people doing what he says. Then there is Magneto with his hands in magicians pose while special effects happen around him.

If there is anything good about this X-Men movie, it is the final fight in the third act, when everyone’s powers are on display. This is the moment that the movie feels like a comic book. The exception is the horrible fights with Beast (Nicholas Hoult). It looks awkward and clumsy. The wire work just looks silly. The problem is you will have to sit through the first two acts to get there.

The early part of the film has good acting, over the top comic book drama, and a little too much humanizing the characters, so that we can relate to the story. You can tell the film still needed more exposition. It is still unclear, what Apocalypse’s powers are. The big cameo just at the end of the second act looks rather silly and a waste of the talent.

Again, my complaint is that we want to see mutant powers in action. It’s clear that Jennifer Lawrence is a big star…rightfully so. But as the chameleon, Mystique, she changes from maybe twice and is rarely ever in her blue makeup. Is this the perk of being a big star. Kodi Smit-McPhee is cool as my favorite X-Men, Nightcrawler. There is a lot of teleporting. Thank you, Bryan Singer. Evan Peters also returns as Quicksilver with a scene that almost tops the slow-motion segment in Day of Future Past. Nice try, Bryan Singer.

By no means, is X-Men: Apocalypse a great X-Men movie. It is barely a good one. By no means, is it as bad as Superman v. Batman. With the strides that Marvel Studios and Disney have brought to the superhero genre, we expect better from a team that is rich in amazing source material.

Buddy Solitaire – Movie Review – Newport Beach Film Festival

Buddy Solitaire is a touching comedy that comes to us as part of the 2016 Newport Beach Film Festival. Buddy is a stand-up comedian on his last leg and desperately needs to find new material. His life is falling apart with a neglected girlfriend and an unhealthy relationship with his mother.

2016 Newport Beach Film Festival
Writer:
Keung Lee
Director: Keung Lee
Cast: Brandon J. Somberger, Sally Kirkland, Leann Lei, Mirela Burke, Garret Sato, Samba Schutte, Jason McBeth

Buddy Solitaire (Brandon J. Somberger) is a stand-up comedian who is at a crossroads in his professional career. This burnt out comedian thinks he can spark his creativity by teaching stand-up comedy at a counseling center where his girlfriend, works.

After his first day of teaching comedy to the center’s therapy group, Buddy finds new material in the members of the group. Almost immediately, the details of each member’s problem become an integral part of Buddy’s stand-up. But as time progresses, Buddy begins to develop a real relationship with each person.

Buddy Solitaire is clearly an independent film. Sometimes the lack of money can come across on screen and can pull you out of the film. This includes an audio hum early in the film and the use of the same room to appear to be several different comedy clubs. Harmless, but then that is the appeal of independent films.

What Buddy Solitaire loses in a low budget film, it makes up for in a solid story of redemption. Yes, there are comic elements with Buddy as he teaches a group of counseling patients how to be a stand-up. The real joy of the film is Buddy’s relationship with his mother. Sally Kirkland is brilliant as a former stand-up from an era long ago. She is clinging desperately to the fame she once had and at the same time, finds her only comfort in the son she consistently abuses mentally and emotionally. This relationship is a classic codependent spiral that mothers and sons usually come out incredibly damaged.

I had only a few issues with Buddy Solitaire. Some elements of the stand-up comedy did not ring true for me. As mentioned earlier, Buddy volunteers at his girlfriend’s job at the counseling center. He hopes that his interactions with the clients will inspire new material, and it does. But the jokes he tells about the clients are not necessarily that funny and may not inspire the brilliance that is now attributed to Buddy.

Aside from that, the acting, primarily from the leads, is good. Brandon J. Somberger is strong as the title character, Buddy Solitaire. His stand-up delivery is good, he brings the right emotion to scenes with his mother and he carries the movie. Writer/Director Keung Lee does a masterful job with his first film. He manages to tell a touching tale with comedy and produce a film the feels professional without giving away the low budget he had.

 

Nice Guys – Movie Review

From writer/director Shane Black, The Nice Guys is a fun comedy thriller returning the fun the buddy films that has been missing since his first movie, Lethal Weapon.

Release Date: May 20, 2016
Writer: Shane Black, Anthony Bagarozzi
Director: Shane Black
Cast: Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling, Angourri Rice, Matt Bomer

Taking place in 70’s Los Angeles, where the smog keeps its citizens indoors, and the gas shortage keeps them from leaving, two private investigators search for a missing girl, Amelia (Margaret Quailey), who doesn’t want to be found.

Holland March (Ryan Gosling) is a real private investigator hired by the mother of a murdered porn star to find her daughter after she sees her two days after her death. As a former cop, March takes small jobs from elderly seniors to support his daughter, Holly (Angourie Rice). Jauckson Healy (Russell Crowe) wants to be a private investigator, but realizes that he is more valuable as a hired thug. Healy is hired by Amelia to stop March from finding her.

Shane Black tells a fantastic story of these two unlikely PI’s. It is clear that director Black likes to play against type. As March, Gosling appears to be the goody-two-shoes and straight-laced investigator, but he has problems with drinking and literally stumbles into the important clues. As the hired thug, Crowe plays Healy as the healvy, who wants nothing to do with the immature behavior of March.

Black is at his best by keeping audiences on its toes. Little mundane details at the beginning of the movie play a role in complicating. Black also likes to play against tropes and The Nice Guys becomes a series of mishaps that work together to solve the big case. Never knowing exactly where the movie is going next makes The Nice Guys the fun thriller to see this year.

Angourie Rice is fantastic as March’s daughter Holly. She is constantly in danger or constantly puts herself in danger and has the maturity to get out of tough situations. Although, this movie makes March a really bad father by all of the time his daughter is captured or almost killed.

Humorous moments come from the banter between March and Healy. It also comes from the fact that their plans of solving this case ever work the way they think.  The Nice Guys will hopefully find its way to becoming Black’s next franchise movie. Please let a sequel be in the works.

Comfort – Movie Review – Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival

Comfort is a sweet romantic comedy about a courier who gets mixed up with the daughter of his company’s most important client. Comfort is one of the funniest entries at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival.

2016 Los Angeles Asian American Film Festival
Writer/Director: William Lu
Cast: Chris Dinh, Julie Zhan, Kelvin Han Yee, Billy ‘Sly’ Williams

Comfort has a unique premise to cross into the rom-com genre in a while. Cameron (Chris Dinh) is a courier in Los Angeles with dreams of becoming a chef. Cameron suffers from Xeroderma Pigmentosum, a disease that causes extreme sensitivity to the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Like a vampire, Cameron can only exist during the night.

Cameron’s boss, Eddie (Billy ‘Sly’ Williams) needs him to make an important delivery for his best client, Martin (Kelvin Han Yee), the King of Hot Sauce. Martin asks Cameron for a favor. He needs Cameron to pick up his daughter Jasmine (Julie Zhan) at LAX, because he has to stay late to finish an important hot sauce ad campaign. Cameron, in turn, gives Jasmine a late night tour of Los Angeles. Soon a friendship and romance develop.

Comfort walks that fine line between romance and schmaltz. Comfort saves itself with a well-disciplined story from William Lu and good acting.  Writer/Director William Lu manages to capture discussions of love, life and romance that feels real. There’s a lot of sweet comedy set in the landscape of late night Los Angeles.

As an Asian-American myself, I’m also excited to see good acting and the cast of Comfort is fantastic, funny and real. As the film’s lead, Chris Dinh and Julie Zhan are so likable that you cannot help but root for them to find romance. Chris’ performance is subdued and low key with a subtext of a dreamer. Julie is sweet, attractive and plays as Cameron’s inspiration to reach his dreams.

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