Monday, September 29, 2008

What I did with my weekend

  • Watched a lot of episodes of "The Cosby Show"
  • Did laundry
  • Drifted off to sleep to Rushmore, finished it in the morning
  • Downloaded the soundtracks to all of Wes Anderson's movies that star Bill Murray
  • Attended Stumptoberfest
  • Drank. Ate. Drank. Ate.
  • Slept
  • Bought groceries for the week
  • Finally watched the unaired "Gay Robot" pilot
  • Enjoyed the return of Sunday night TV, but because of schedule overlap have a ways before I'm done
That's pretty much it.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Song to get you through the weekend: "Still" by Elvis Costello

It's only fitting that I tack this on to the end Autumn Week, my favorite Elvis Costello song, which happens to come from my favorite fall album. The leaf-strewn piano perfectly compliments the imagery of the lyrics.

Requiem for the Hustler

R.I.P. Paul Newman, 1925-2008.

He'll be missed, but his salad dressings will surely live on.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Requisites: Autumn Miscellany

And now we come to the end of Autumn Week here on the ol' bliggity blog. The following will only serve to enhance your enjoyment of this greatest of seasons. You'll note that I did not include college football on this list and that is simply because of its obviousness (there's no fall without college football and vice versa*). So, without further ado:

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown & A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving These are two of the best holiday specials ever, chock full of childhood innocence and wise truths ("Never jump into a pile of leaves with a wet sucker"). Honestly, the fall holidays are woefully incomplete without at least one viewing of each of them.

Pipes Now, I smoke my pipe all year long, but my brother-in-law sees the briar as more of an autumn pleasure. I can see that, as they definitely keep your hands warm. My favorite blend this time of year is Vermont Maple Cavendish from Pipeworks & Wilke.

Grilled cheese & tomato soup Also known as Nature's Most Perfect Comfort Food. For maximum enjoyment, consume on days that are rainy and gray.

Hoodies When I'm away from the workplace, you can bet that I'll be sporting a hoodie from my extensive collection. They are part of the Simplest Ensemble Ever (t-shirt, pants, hoodie) and serve a useful yet stylish purpose during the transition from late summer to when the weather requires a jacket.

Scary movies I fully admit that I'm a wuss when it comes to horror movies, but I still think October rivals Christmas for the year's best time for TV. So many scary movies, so little time.

Pumpkin pie On the Pie Awesomeness Scale, pumpkin is on equal footing with key lime. Given the time of year, though, the edge goes to the gourd.

Driving caps Yep, autumn is when I'm at my most stylin'. Unfortunately, I don't own a Bentley, but when I wear one of these I add an air of Old World class to my Jetta.

Baseball playoffs/World Series Sure, the regular season games are nice, but they often seem meaningless. The post-season is where it matters. Go big or go home. Luckily, neither of my teams are contenders (the Nats and the O's), so there's not much of a chance of me getting heart palpitations. And, really, by supporting these two teams, I have virtually no chance of developing a baseball-related health condition for many, many years to come.

Fireplaces They are the very definition of "cozy." During weekends in the fall, my house has it running full-time. Don't have a fireplace? Your remedy is here.

Tweed, dark plaid, and houndstooth Autumn is when my inner prep is fully unleashed. When not donning hoodies, clothing with these patterns are what I turn to.

*I learned that fancy term from Judge Reinhold.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Office chatter

Tonight's season premiere of "The Office": "Weight Loss"

A corporate weight loss initiative has everyone obsessed with their weight.


Requisites: Autumn Music

As the days grow darker, so do the albums that I listen to most during these months. I generally put away the sunnier, upbeat stuff and pull out downtempo, more acoustic-based music. The following are some of the albums that I listen to most between September and November.

Elvis Costello: North Early in this blog's existence I proclaimed this to be my favorite autumn album. And it still is. It has everything I need this time of year: fall imagery ("I trampled through the amber and the burnished gold"), interesting arrangements, lush instrumentation. Beautiful.

The Postal Service: Give Up Jimmy Tamborello's cold and glitchy electronic music serves as an excellent contrast to Ben Gibbard's warm lyrics and vocals. Although I hadn't heard the song until long after I left the area, "The District Sleeps Tonight" always make me think of DC in the fall.

The National: Boxer Yes, for those keeping score, this album also made my summertime Requisites list, but it is one of those rare albums that can straddle two seasons. It must be the smokey atmosphere that the band creates.

John Wesley Harding: Swings and Roundabouts You want dark and autumnal? Look no further than "The Fall of the House of Harding." Don't worry. The rest of the album isn't nearly as gloomy.

Various artists: Garden State It really shouldn't be all that surprising that the soundtrack to my favorite fall film is included on this list. Just thinking about one of the movie's most prominent songs - the Shins' "New Slang" - makes me think that there's a chill in the air. You're right, Natalie Portman. It did change my life.

The Velvet Underground: The Velvet Underground While not my favorite VU album (that'd be Velvet Underground and Nico), this uncharacteristically quiet and contemplative work from the band is perfect for secluding yourself from the outside world. It contains one of my favorite songs ever ("Pale Blue Eyes"), as well as the Moe Tucker-fronted "That's the Story of My Life," which just makes you want to give her a hug.

Snow Patrol: Final Straw Because every season requires a quality hook-filled alt rock album.

Simon & Garfunkel: Greatest Hits Before I amassed my own music library, I would depend on my parents' record collection for music. Along with a couple of Bill Cosby albums and Johnny Mathis's Greatest Hits, this was a childhood favorite. Simon and Garfunkel definitely make music for sweater weather.

So, what do you listen to when the leaves start to fall?

Sunny day

Tonight's first new episode of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia": "America's Next Top Paddy's Billboard Model Contest"

Mac and Frank judge a contest to determine Paddy's next top model; Dee and Charlie strive to come up with YouTube's next sensation.

The second episode: "Mac's Banging the Waitress"

Charlie wants Mac to beat up the waitress's unknown new boyfriend. Trouble is, Mac is the boyfriend.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Requisites: Autumn Movies

One of the benefits of the steadily decreasing temperatures of autumn? You can use the cold as an excuse to hole up and watch some comfort movies. And the settings of some of my most rewatched movies only serve to reinforce the "fallness" of the season. These are my go-tos when the leaves start to change:

Garden State I'm not sure why this film makes me think of fall, since it's not explicitly laid out that it takes place during that season. It could be spring, for all I know. Maybe it's the presence of hoodies, jeans, jackets, fires, and such that leads me to classify it as an "autumn movie."

Rushmore Many autumn-set movies concern school, for obvious reasons. This one is tops in that area. The quirky direction and script, the soundtrack, the great performances by Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman - it's a terrific film. But the humor's not for everybody (Example A: my mom, who hated it).

Dead Poets Society Another "school" movie. The grounds of the private school are gorgeous, especially when they are bathed in golden leaves or fallen snow. Plus, I like the clothes that the characters wear. Beneath the hoodies and t-shirts, I'm a vintage prep at heart.

When Harry Met Sally... Nora Ephron is responsible for many evils in this world, but this guy-approved romantic comedy should not be included among them. Her New York is a storybook one that conveniently omits the seedier things that I've actually seen in the city (peep shows, homeless people defecating in the street, etc.). It sure is pretty.

Sleepy Hollow One of my fondest autumn memories is hanging out with my brother on in his room a cold, gray afternoon, watching the Disney version of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Well, Tim Burton's take on the tale is a bit more warped. I purposefully omitted horror movies from this list as they are so easily tied to Halloween, but chose to include this one since the art direction is very, very gray.

Scent of a Woman Sure, this movie is likely the point when Al Pacino turned into a caricature of himself ("I'm going to talk softly and then GET LOUD FOR NO APPARENT REASON. Hoo-ah!"), but it's a fun and even touching Thanksgiving ride through New York. And, yes, one of its settings is a private school. I'm also fond of this film because it served as my introduction to the genius that is Philip Seymour Hoffman many moons ago.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles John Candy's best film (yes, even better than Uncle Buck) is a Thanksgiving tradition at my house. "Train don't run out of Wichita unlessin' you're a hog or a cattle..."

The Chocolate War Another extremely overcast film. And you guessed it: another private school. It's a shame that more people don't know about this movie. In addition to being an all-around good flick, it gets bonus points for having a kick-ass soundtrack (I first heard Yaz in this movie; talk about chilly).

And if you want to beat the cold by visiting the theater this autumn, check out my handy-dandy Fall Movie Preview.

So, what autumn films have I missed?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Requisites: Autumn

Well, there's a football in the air
Across a leaf blown field
Yeah and there's your first car on the road
And the girl you'd steal

So go on with yourself
If there's a feeling that there's something else
Seems like it's always understood this time of year

Did I just open this feature with a few lines from a Better Than Ezra song? Yes, I did. Why? Because, public indifference and cultural irrelevance be damned, they are freakin' awesome. Also the vivid lyrics and dulcet tones perfectly encapsulate that great autumn feeling that we all feel this time of year. And by "we" I mean "I." But I'd like to think that I'm not the only one who enjoys the next few months the most.

As I mentioned at the start of the summer, fall is the most wonderful time of the year. Sorry, Andy Williams. You're one season off. The shorter days, cooler climate, better clothes, fireplaces, college football, new TV shows, Halloween, Thanksgiving - what's not to love?

I think that I've adequately covered the awesomeness that is the one-two punch of pumpkin spice coffee and pumpkin beer. Those two beverages alone make September, October, and November superior to the other months of the calendar.

This week I'll be doling out my Autumn Requisites: movies, music, and other stuff that serve to enhance this most blessed season. So stoke the fire, settle into your Slanket, and bask in the glow of your monitor while we throw off the oppressive shackles of summer and finally live, dammit!

Monday, September 22, 2008

This nonsensical song has been on a constant loop in my head since Saturday

Thanks a lot, Phil!

According to the internets, the lyrics are: "ualuealuealeuale ualuelaelaellalea, alsualsualualauusualulus alsualsualualauusualulus ualuealuealeuale ualuelaelaellalea, alsualsualualauusualulus alsualsualualauusualulus"

My easy money-making scheme for this week:

1. Transcribe gibberish that my 2 year old nephew constatly speaks
2. Set it to a simple beat
3. ???
4. Profit!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Song to get you through the weekend: "Summer's Gone" by Aberfeldy

Because after this weekend, summer is over (well, technically)! It's about freakin' time.

I couldn't find an official video from Aberfeldy, so this Diet Coke commercial will have to do.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Crush of the Week: Kerry Washington

This week's Crush is actress Kerry Washington. I haven't seen much of her work, but I thought she was cute as Alicia in the Fantastic Four movies.

She's one of the stars of the just released Lakeview Terrace. I've seen that film's trailer about 500 times now, by my estimate. Still, I don't feel compelled to see it in the theater. It just looks like one of those "wait-for-when-it's-on-cable-and-you-stumble-upon-it-by-accident-so-you-watch-a-little-of-it-before-moving-on-to-something-else" type of movies.

Behold: The Grilled Charlie

"A Grilled Charlie has peanut butter LAST! Peanut butter outside, chocolate inside. Butter inside, cheese outside!"

Sure, a Grilled Charlie - the mythic butter/cheese/peanut butter/chocolate sandwich from "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" - sounds rather disgusting. But I'm a fan of the show, so I figured that I had to try making one at least once.

Now, there is a dispute as to how exactly it is made. Grill it up all at once with double cheese? Prepare each slice of bread separately, with peanut butter on one side and cheese on the other?

The latter version sounded like the lesser messier of the two, so that's how I went about it.

The prep. All ingredients can be easily found at your local grocery store.

The peanut butter side. In a futile effort to be health conscious, the peanut butter that I selected is "no sugar added," so it's a heart smart sandwich! Also, I went against my normal preference and used creamy, as crunchy would've brought a strange texture.

The cheese side. American cheese is edible - sometimes preferable even - in only a handful of foods: grilled cheese, hamburgers, hot dogs. Add this sandwich to the list, as it is the very definition of "culinary slumming."

Honestly, as disgusting as all the disparate ingredients combined might sound, the Grilled Charlie really wasn't all that bad. Oddly enough, the cheese kinda sorta complimented the already tasty pairing of chocolate and peanut butter. And the butter was rather benign, since it was melted and grilled. I don't know if I'll ever make it again, as constructing it was awfully messy. Also, I'd like to make it to 34.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Sunny day

Tonight's season premiere of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia": "Mac & Dennis: Manhunters"

Dee and Charlie inadvertently eat some of Frank's human meat and develop a taste for it. Meanwhile, Mac and Dennis take sport hunting to the next level.

The second episode: "The Gang Solves the Gas Crisis"

Mac, Dennis, and Charlie take advantage of high gas prices by investing in barrels of gasoline and selling them door-to-door; Dee and Frank plot to brand Bruce Mathis as a terrorist leader when they find out that he plans to give their money to a Muslim community center.


(If I'm up to it - and if you're lucky - I'll be making a Grilled Charlie tonight and will post the results. But I'm feeling a bit under the weather right now, so we'll see.)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Micah World Fall Movie Preview

Ah, the fall movie slate. Forgotten are summer's brainless action movies and a new crop of respectable, finely-crafted, Oscar-worthy dramas are ushered in. Too bad I don't feel compelled to see any of the ones that I've read up on. But there are some bright spots that will get me to the multiplex. In order of release:

Forever Strong (September 26): Has there ever been a rugby movie before? Maybe Sean "Rudy" Astin can do for the sport what he did for football. And hobbits.

How To Lose Friends & Alienate People (October 3): I know nothing more about this movie other than the fact that Simon Pegg is the lead. And that's enough for me.

RocknRolla (October 8): If this latest Guy Ritchie gangster flick is half as good as Snatch or Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels,'ll be pretty good.

Max Payne (October 17): Video game movies have a tendency to suck. Hard. I'm not sure why I'm somewhat optimistic about this one. Maybe it's because the source material played out like a film in the first place.

Zack and Miri Make a Porno (October 31): I'm a sucker for Kevin Smith movies (yet I hate Kevin Smith fans; go figure), so this is a no-brainer. This one sounds like fun for the whole family!

Quantum of Solace (November 7): I'll admit that I doubted that Daniel Craig could fill 007's shoes (and I still don't think he was the best choice), but Casino Royale was great. Sure, I miss the snappy one-liners of the previous Bond movies, but this new one doesn't appear to feature Denise Richards as a nuclear physicist, so I'll call it a wash. Oh, and for the record, I think that it has one crappy title.

Role Models (November 14): Paul Rudd! Stifler! Written and directed by "The State" alums!

Four Christmases (November 26): Okay, so Vince Vaughn's last holiday movie (Fred Claus) wasn't all that great. But I'm willing to give him another shot, since this one's geared toward grown ups.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

It's a great pumpkin beer, Charlie Brown

Yesterday I was singing the hosannas of pumpkin spice coffee, but what if I need my fix after noon, my self-imposed cut-off time for caffeine? Or if I want to get a buzz while enjoying the autumnal taste of Vitamin P? Two words: pumpkin beer.

So far I've had two pumpkin beers this season. The first one was new to me - New Holland Brewing Company's Ichabod - which spydrz bought a couple of weeks ago. Not bad. Not bad at all. This beer - made with pumpkin, cinnamon, and nutmeg - would be equally great capping off a long day of raking leaves or while you veg out on the couch while watching your alma mater return a kick-off for a touchdown (provided that your alma mater's football games are televised).

Just last week I bought a six pack of Jack's Pumpkin Spice Ale. Last year I breezed through many bottles of this and, since it's brewed by Anheuser-Busch, it's relatively easy to find.

There are several more pumpkin beers that I want to try this fall and luckily Total Wine & More has an extensive selection of microbrews. My vow to you: I shall try all of the pumpkin beers that they offer.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The best part of waking up (for the next few months)

I've long held the belief that some of the best foods are pumpkin flavored: pumpkin pie, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin squares*. Need more examples? Just go to the Circleville Pumpkin Show (and I really wish I could this year). But the gourdy goodness doesn't end with food. Next to college football and cooler temperatures, one of the things I love most about autumn is the prevalence of pumpkin spice coffee. Normally, I'm not into "candy coffees" and prefer my coffee to be, uh, coffee-flavored, but this is one time where I make an exception.

Every Christmas Santa puts a Starbucks gift card in my stocking, which I save for 9 months or so until the ubiquitous java chain offers their pumpkin spice lattes. I have it on good authority - a friend of mine who goes to Starbucks every morning - that they're back! Oh, glorious day! To maximize my enjoyment, though, I'm going to wait until the weather gets a bit more fall-like before I order my first cup.

This past weekend I bought my first International Delight Pumpkin Pie Spice creamer of the season, which is a much cheaper and healthier alternative to my above Starbucks fix. But it still does the job. Ah, it was great having this in my coffee over the weekend. And when this creamer is added to a pot of Millstone pumpkin spice coffee...well, I think that I have to change my shorts right now. Usually my morning joe routine is limited to Saturday and Sunday, but I just may have to expand it to seven days shortly. Maybe.

*It's like a pumpkin-flavored brownie. Excellent. Maybe one day I'll post the recipe.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Song to get you through the weekend: "Mixer at Delta Chi" by Stephen Lynch

School's in, so I figured that this is the perfect song for you college kids. Plus, I aspire to be one of those professors one day.

This starts what I hope to be a series of autumn-related posts this coming up week. Whether or not I actually follow through with it, we'll see.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Quick movie review

Tropic Thunder: Having seen the hilarious trailer, I assumed that this was going to be the funniest movie ever made. Unfortunately, it's not, but it still is pretty good. Ben Stiller does his patented Ben Stiller Doofus Shtick, if you can tolerate it (and I love the guy, so that's not a problem). Aside from a few lines - one of which may be the funniest in the film - Jack Black is wasted. Robert Downey, Jr., though, steals the show as a Russell Crowe-esque method acting; I swear, between his pitch perfect Tony Stark earlier this summer and this role, he must've made some kind of pact with Satan. Then there's Tom Cruise. Yeah, him swearing and dancing in a fat suit is funny...for a minute or two. But the gag wears thin rather quickly. His performance is not really worth the raves it is getting. The best part of the movie is actually the series of fake trailers at the beginning, which include spot-on parodies of stoopid action movies, fart-centric comedies, and shameless arthouse Oscar-bait. In the end, Tropic Thunder is a fun stab at Hollywood, but a bit of a disappointment.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Song to get you through the weekend: "Rains" by Steve Poltz

Have you seen the weather out there this morning?

Here's a clip of the song that somebody filmed at the Poltz show at Ashland Coffee & Tea that I went to earlier this year. And another from one of his "living room concerts" (featuring a bellydancer!).

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Crush of the Week: Gov. Sarah Palin

This week's Crush is Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Honestly, who didn't see me choosing her? Very attractive? Check. Smart? Check. Conservative? Check. Those glasses? Check.

Putting divisive politics aside, I think we can all agree that she is smokin' hot, especially for a politician.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Micahpalooza '08: Boy meets grill

I apologize for the blog being a little quiet lately, but I've extended last week's Micahpalooza by being lazy. My birthday* weekend was low-key, but a lot of fun.

Sometimes just chilling with the fam is all that you need. My "big present" this year was a Weber grill. (Sorry, Hank Hill. I guess I'll have to taste the heat, not the meat.)

I still have yet to name it, but I'm leaning towards "Friday" - as in his grill Friday (not the porn star). But I still haven't made a final decision just yet.

I was elated because that meant that I could finally put the knowledge that I gained at the Greenbrier to practice. And, boy, did I. For the Ohio State thrashing this weekend I ended up trying out rosemary roasted potatoes and chorizo-stuffed pork tenderloin, only the four stores that I went to didn't have stock that sausage, so I ended up using andouille. Sure, it may look like a giant turd, but it was a tasty giant turd.

The recipe said it would take about 45 minutes - or until the meat reached an internal temperature of 150 degrees - but it ended up taking me about 5 hours. I didn't add enough briquettes, but I'm ready for next time: I bought a hinged grate for easy reloading.

*That's August 24, for those not in the know. I expect presents next year.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Welcome back, friends

Premiering September 2nd: "The Shield"

Premiering September 7th: "Entourage"

Premiering September 18th: "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia"

Premiering September 22nd: "Heroes"

Premiering September 25th: "The Office," "My Name Is Earl"

Premiering September 28th: "Dexter," "King of the Hill," "The Simpsons," "Family Guy," "American Dad," "Californication"

Wow. There goes my free time. Kind of makes you wish for another writers strike, huh?

Happy Labor Day!

See you next season, seersucker pants.