Movie review : I Love You, Beth Cooper

I love you, Beth Cooper is certainly meant for a teenage audience, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a quality movie. Is it predictable? Certainly. Is it a movie about broken stereotypes? Of course.

Nonetheless, it is still a quality story. The main characters are likable from the beginning and become even more likable as the story unfolds.

The movie has lots of funny scenes but only a few times did the audience laugh out loud.

Beth, Hayden Panettiere from HEROES, gives an excellent performance. She can say a lot with her expressions.

Denis, Paul Rust, who played the neardy kid, did quite well. He doesn’t have the awkward physical humor as well as Jim Cary, but then who does?

I really thought that Rich, Jack Carpenter, did the best job of all. I never got the sense that he was acting a role or putting on a performance. He is either very much like the character he plays or he is a fantastic actor. We’ll have to see him in some various roles to know which is which.

What did you think about I Love You, Beth Cooper? Share your thoughts about the movie in the comments below.

RunPee Mobile App for 99 cents at iTunes

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RunPee Movie Posters – Terminated, Transported and Transformed

I was having a little fun with the RunPee concept. Yeah, I am a geek; please accept that as an axiom.

Harry Potter

GiJoe

I have a vague idea for an ad involving Wolverine and trying to pee with his claws extended. I’ll get to that when I have a few extra minutes.

Do you have any suggestions for other ads? Just let me know. Or even create some yourself if you want and tell me about it in the comments below.

Movie review : Public Enemies

[ no spoilers ]

Guess what: Johnny Depp is a fantastic actor. Once again, he plays his roll with aplomb. I think that Depp and Mann – the director – play well together. Depp is able to commanded the scenes he was in without overdoing it, which is a tribute to their team work.

It’s hard to say if Christian Bale did a good job because his character is so unassuming. In a way, I wish he hadn’t been in this movie. There are many actors that could have done a fine job of playing FBI agent Melvin Purvis leaving Bale to shine in something more demanding of his talents.

The only other character to get enough screen time to be recognized is Dillinger’s girlfriend played by Marion Cotillard. The only problem I had with the entire movie is that there didn’t seem to be any magic between her and Depp that would justify the attraction and sacrifices that the characters made for each other.

Michael Mann, the director, does a nice job of making a modern 1930s movie. The colors are muted throughout the film and occasionally he fades to a sepia tone to give it that news real footage.

From reading back over this much of my review I see the failing of this movie: there is nothing magical about it.

Everything in the movie seems to be slightly muted, just like the colors. There isn’t much to cheer for or against. And because it’s based on a true story there is little, or no, suspense. Of course Depp creates a likable but not lovable Dillinger. Bale’s character is no different. And the one thing that probably could have made the movie much better would be to create a real love story between Dillinger and Billie. But that doesn’t quite get off the ground either.

So there wasn’t anything wrong with this movie but there also wasn’t anything right about it either. If I didn’t have to see it professionally – to get the PeeTimes – then I wouldn’t have missed seeing this one. But then again it wasn’t a total waste of time either.

What did you think about Public Enemies? Share your thoughts about the movie in the comments below.

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Become a Pee-On with Perks at RunPee.com

The Few, the Proud: the SuperPee Posse (this could be you) bolex camera wikipedia commons

I am pretty much entering the pee times myself, and hand moderating all PeeTime submissions. That means I see a lot of movies.

Eventually, I will select a group of people who will have special privileges to enter PeeTimes, those I can count on to take “charge” of seeing a movie and selecting moderator-status PeeTimes.

The bulk of the content will come from these Pee-Ons. These elite Pee-ons will get

  • a bio page and website link on this blog,
  • free RunPee Staff T-shirts and sweatshirts ( that cannot be purchased by the public), and
  • maybe even a special glow in the dark pen, like the kind we managers use to make PeeTimes.
  • And I’m sure there will be other forms of compensation we have not thought of yet, besides knowing you’ve made a difference in the comfort of bladders everywhere. We’d like to be able to offer premier movie tickets at some point and other hard-to-get perks in the industry.
  • If you are extraordinary in your Pee-On task, you might be the first person we hire for pay. We can’t keep doing this ourselves forever. If you can prove you lovelovelove movies and can find the best PeeTimes bar none, expect to see an offer trickle down your way.

I’m still discussing the details with people and so far I’ve only invited one person outside my family to be a Pee-On. It will take a while to grow this team, but eventually they will be providing everyone with the quality RunPeeTimes that you should expect from a classy website like RunPee.com.

As always I’m interested in hearing what the RunPee.com users think. If you have an idea that would make the site better – aside from redoing it in HTML (which – update – is now done!) – then please let me know.

Here at RunPee.com we DO give a piss!

Finding PeeTimes – EXACTLY how I find those movie breaks

A few people have asked how I find those movie break Peetimes for Runpee.com. Well, let me tell you: it isn’t easy, or fun.

What I do to make a Peetime

  • For each movie I try and sit off away from the rest of the audience. That is oftentimes impossible since I see movies on opening day so that peetimes will be available ASAP.
  • I have my phone – ringer off – that I can check the time with. I use a basic timer application on my Android phone to keep track of the time.
  • Of course I can’t RunPee during a movie so I make sure that I don’t drink much beforehand and I use the men’s room right before the show starts.
  • The first thing I watch for is the beginning of the movie. We can’t time peetimes from when the movie is listed to start because commercials and previews can run anywhere from 10-20 minutes. Since the iPhone app will vibrate in your pocket just a few minutes before the upcoming peetime I need to make sure that the start time for each peetime isn’t off by more than a minute or so.
  • As soon as the movie begins – after the previews – I start my timer running. And then I can sit back and relax for the first 30 minutes because peetimes must be at least 30 minutes into the show – you can hold it at least that long, right?
  • Now for the hard part. I watch the movie for scenes that I can easily sum up without missing in critical details to the movie. Many people think that peetimes are just the boring scenes in movies, but that isn’t necessarily true. Some peetimes might take part during a car chase or some other action scene. It just has to be something you can miss and still follow the plot when you return. Take the first peetime for Star Trek. That’s during the scene where they sky dive down to the drilling platform. You’ll be missing some nice action but most of that scene was shown during the previews that everyone saw. The rest of the scene is easy to sum up so that when you do get back in the theater you can slip back into the story.
  • When I see something happening in the movie that looks like it might make a good peetime I write down the current time on my notepad and the cue.
  • The peetime cue is hugely important. It’s nice to have very distinct scenes or lines of dialog to start a peetime with. Users can read through the cue – usually very short – before the movie starts so that they know what to look for during the movie – the timer doesn’t always work. So take for instance the movie Thor. One of the cues for a peetimes reads: Thor carries Erik – the scientist – back to Jane’s trailer after drinking at the bar. That should be very easy for someone to remember – oh, now’s a good time to run and pee.
  • Then I start jotting down notes like who’s talking and the gist of the conversation. If the scene keeps going for a at least 3 minutes – preferably 4-5 minutes – and nothing has happened that makes me say, “Crap, you can’t miss this scene,” then I have a good peetime candidate. Then as soon as this scene ends I write down the time again so that I know how long this peetime stretches.
  • Rinse-and-repeat.

Peetimes are of course subjective but here are a few tips I would offer that would make a bad Peetime:

  • Did something happen that a few people in the theater laughed at?
  • Was there some character interaction that was purely visual and would be difficult/impossible to accurately describe?
  • Say you’re watching an action movie with lots of fighting: was there some amazing scene that might be the best move, or special effect, in the movie. People probably don’t want to miss that.
  • If shortly after your peetime something hugely important happens then really consider not using this peetime unless the person has at least 5 minutes to get back. For example if the movie goes for 3 minutes of watching a clothes dryer spin and then right after that Darth Vader walks up to Luke and says, “Luke, I am your father.” then you don’t want to use this peetime. Someone might not make it back in time.

And here are a few examples that I think make for good peetimes:

  • Music montages that just show a character(s) training or doing whatever it is they do. This is usually very easy to sum up like, “Rocky goes out jogging around the city and eventually fans start following. He ends by running up the steps in front of a big building and then jumping around like a champion.” Now I won’t argue with you that that scene is iconic. But suppose you’re in the theater and you really have to pee and you know you can’t wait until the movie is over. Guess what, missing that music montage would be a whole lot better than missing the fight with Apollo Creed now wouldn’t it?
  • Suppose you’re watching an action movie that has lots of gun fights. A few of the gun fights might be really good but there’s usually one of them that’s just sort of average. That sounds like a good Peetime to me. I would even mention in the description that this gun fight isn’t as good as the other gun fights – or whatever the action is.
  • Something really gross in an otherwise not so gross movie. Take for instance King Kong – the movie that started the whole idea for RunPee – there’s the scene with those huge bugs that eat people. The rest of the movie isn’t that gross and disgusting. There are a lot of people who don’t like scenes like that and so they would gladly miss that part.

Sometimes it happens that I have a good Peetime candidate and then just a few minutes later a much better one comes up. I try not to group the peetimes to closely together so I’ll pick the best one. Or if the are different types of scenes, say one is an action scene and the other is a love scene, then I’ll leave them both so that the user can pick what to miss.

I like to have 2-3 peetimes per movie and I try to group them starting around the 30 minute mark. I usually stop looking for them with about 20-30 minutes remaining in the movie. It is very rare that a good peetime happens near the end of a movie, but there might be exceptions. One that comes to mind is Heat – I’m sure you know what I’m talking about if you remember the end of the movie.

Of course I have to sit in the theater until the credits end to check for those post credit scenes. Then I can RunPee myself before adding the peetimes to the website!

I would love to hear your comments if you have any suggestions for improving this process.

State of the RunPee – Will RunPee.com make it big?

This week I’ve been thinking a lot about the future of RunPee. RunPee has gotten lots of press coverage. Google Analytics informs me that incoming traffic is coming from almost 3,000 different sources. That’s pretty good. This coming week I have a handful of radio interviews to do in locations around the world. And there should be one TV spot on the ReelzChannel. So the word continues to spread although not at the pace of a few weeks ago.

When the iPhone app is released – hopefully within a week or two – it will generate another round of buzz and hopefully lots of downloads.

Eventually the press coverage for RunPee will die down. I’m curious to see how traffic at the website will respond at that point. There is no doubt that RunPee is a viral idea but it isn’t viral in the same way as, for instance, a funny video on YouTube. Once you see the video you tell your friends – making it viral – but very few come back to see video again.

RunPee is different. It’s a curious and funny website to check out. But there is a good reason for some of the people to return. At its core RunPee is a tool: a tool to help you enjoy your movie going experience.

In truth almost everyone who goes to the movies can benefit from using it. You’ll not only find out when the best times are to RunPee but also if there is an extra scene at the end of the movie. Plus for some movies you’ll find the times that are definitely not good to RunPee – see Star Trek, Kirk on the ice planet at the 1:10 mark. And the PeeTimes can of course be used to make runs to the concession stand as well. Our RunPee FAQs say it all.

Over time I expect that people will tell their friends and family about RunPee, spreading the news via word of mouth, thus growing the user base. At the same time others that already use the site will simply forget about it for whatever reason. Hopefully the influx is greater than the outflow.

What do you think? Will RunPee simply continue to grow as more people make it a part of their movie going experience or will it suffer from user attrition and fade away? I’ll be seeing movies and adding PeeTimes either way.

What would a RunPee Facebook app do?

I’m not much of a Facebook user myself. I have an account but rarely visit it. However many people have suggested that RunPee have a Facebook app. So I’d like to ask you:

  • What would it do?
  • How would you use it?

Any feedback would be great and help me build something that everyone will find useful. Thanks.

State of the RunPee – iPhone App is coming!

Just one month ago, April 30th, we had a total of 9 visitors to RunPee.com. Since then the traffic has skyrocketed. Our low traffic since we were noticed is just over 6,000+ daily visitors. In that time we’ve had two server crashes, a move to a new more robust/costly server and a half dozen traffic spikes that left the site crawling…but not down for the count.

The number that is the most amazing to me is: traffic is incoming from 2,541 different sources. I want to say a big thanks to everyone who posted about my site here. Never in my wildest dreams did I see this coming.

Now, next week I’m being interviewed by Robert Kovacik from KNBC here in LA. I’m not sure when it will air but I’m sure it will lead to another server crash. I try to look at is as a good thing. 🙂

The iPhone app is coming!

The team building the iPhone app isn’t far enough along yet for me to give a precise release date but it will be measured in weeks I assure you. Most of it will be up to Apple and when they decide to let it pass onto the App Store. I’ll certainly get the message out as soon as it’s available.

But an iPhone app is useless if there aren’t enough high quality RunPeeTimes. To that end I am going to add features that will moderate the RunPeeTimes that you see so that we don’t get any of those of the “Just pee and then go home” variety. Plus you will be able to vote on the RunPeeTimes that you do see. So don’t forget to come back to the website after you see a movie and let others know which RunPeeTime you thought was the best to use. Remember, bladders are counting on you! 🙂

These new features will be in place when the iPhone app launches. Until then I’ll just have to clean up the RunPeeTimes the good old fashioned way, through the MySQL web interface. 🙁


How did this media attention for RunPee get started?

Like with most things this got started with my mother. We were sitting around, chatting about RunPee, after we had gone to see Star Trek. ( I watched it twice on opening day so that I could get real good and accurate PeeTimes. ) She had the The TechGuy: Leo Laporte playing in the background and he was talking about Star Trek and how great a movie it was. My mother is a big fan of Leo Laporte and she suggested that I call in and tell him about RunPee.com. ( This was May 9th)

I didn’t think I’d be able to get through but I did. I told the producer about the site and she chuckled and said it was the craziest thing she had ever been asked to talk about on the show. A few minutes later I hear Leo chuckeling and he says, “I have to tell you about this new site…”

The traffic to RunPee.com was in the 10-30 visitors/day range up until then. On that day it shot up to 600+ and on the following days it stayed around the 300-400 range.

I was then contacted by Amber MacArthur to do a callin with her and Leo on the net@night show that aired on May 20th. We talked for about 10 minutes or so about RunPee. This was my first interview.

Now I’m excited about RunPee.com because it was finally attracting a some attention. You should know that I started this site as a research project. I wanted to learn how to use the Flex framework and tie into a database on the backend. I was unsure if it would ever get enough traffic to be useful but the effort was certainly worth it because I learned so much from creating it.

Google Analytics

The next morning I check Google Analytics. My first thought was, “Crap, where did all my traffic data go?” Because what had been an up/down graph of traffic over the past week was now a flat line. Except for this one dot at the end representing the previous day. That shot up to 32,000+.

Jaw, meet floor. Floor, meet jaw.

My wife and I were very excited. I had an email from one of the producers for NPR’s All Things Considered show asking me to come into LA for an interview. He told me that he found out about the site from Dave Barry’s blog.

What? Dave Barry? He wrote about RunPee?

I don’t know if I can sufficiently express the disbelief over what was happening. Unfortunately the excitement was short lived because we had troubles.

I could tell that the site was getting a lot of traffic because it was very slow. My wife and I were working on some blog posts and then everything went down. It seems that someone listening to the net@night show posted it on Reddit.com which promptly overloaded the server. My host sent me a message that I had violated the terms of service and my account was suspended. I spent a very hectic day moving the site to a completely different host on a dedicated service.

At this time my wife and I were in our RV, which we live in, up in the mountains above Palm Springs. It’s beautiful and has great weather. And almost no Internet access and zero cell phone coverage. So I packed up my desk, PC and other essentials and came to Manhattan Beach, CA – in the LA area – where my mother and step-father live. They have a spare room and broadband Internet access.

Once the interview on All Things Considered was aired I started getting one request after another to come on radio shows and talk about the site. Next week the TV coverage starts. I’m scheduled to be interviewed by Robert Kavacik with KNBC here in LA next Tuesday, June 2nd. He said that he wanted to get me before it breaks in LA. Hopefully other TV stations will follow.

Later today I’m meeting with potential investers. Which is good because my 1995 Pathfinder needs new tires and I don’t have enough money for them right now.

I think the lesson to be learned here about effective Internet marketing is quite clear, “Listen to your mother and do what she says.”

Why RunPee is Built Using Flash and Not HTML

I’ve been asked many times, “Why is the site built 100% with Flash?”

There’s a very simple answer for that: I’m a Flash Platform developer. I don’t know any other way to build it.

I had the idea/concept for the site years ago – after watching King Kong. At the time I didn’t know how to build a Flash site that integrated with a database. Last Spring ( 2008 ) I began doing Flash development using the Adobe Flex framework, which greatly simplifies that workflow. I taught myself a bit of PHP and a lot of MySQL and began working on RunPee.

While I was hopeful that it would be a useful site, my primary goal was to work on a project that would give me practice with these new skills. In that regard it has been very successful. Now most of my projects involve some sort of database integration and it’s the core of my freelance work.

While many people may decry the use of Flash, my clients come to me requesting that I use it to build their sites. I don’t have to sell it to them and I don’t have to look for work. It’s in high demand.

It’s a valid point that the site has a high initial download. There are many reasons for that. One is that the Flex framework is pretty hefty by itself.

While I have optimized by using what’s called Flex framework, caching the site download is still about 224k. Some of what makes the size so large are things like using the Google Analytics API for visitor tracking, embeded font, a few graphical assets and such. The good news is that once you have downloaded the site, everything should run very quickly. The only thing left to do is make data requests to the server, which are tiny little chunks of data. There is no page refreshing at all.

So think about it this way, if the site were HTML, and you visited 3-4 pages at RunPee, then it would probably equal out.

There is no doubt that RunPee could have been done easily in HTML. But, I gave up working in HTML back when I was pulling my hair out trying to build sites for IE4/NS4. I love working with Flash. I love the Flash community. And most of all I love the fact that the primary limitation to using Flash is my imagination and not the Flash platform.

In addtion I can now create desktop applications using Adobe AIR. There is no way I was ever going to learn something like .Net. But now making a desktop app is pretty much the same workflow as making a Flash/Flex app – I just get an extended API for working with SQL-lite, local files, etc.

As an example, check out pixDIF. It’s an AIR app that I created to help measure pixel distances and check to see how an implementation of a design compares with the design mockup. That app would have been a real challenge for an advanced .Net developer. But it was fairly simple for me to create with AIR.

So Flash it is. Because it’s my passion.