Thursday, July 31, 2008

Crush of the Week: January Jones

This week's Crush is actress January Jones. I'd seen her in American Wedding, Anger Management, and Love, Actually, but she didn't really stand out to me until her turn as troubled housewife Betty Draper on "Mad Men."

She is the second most beautiful woman on "Mad Men" (my future wife Christina takes the top spot, in addition to being the subject of this blog's most popular post ever). But that doesn't make January any less smokin'.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The world according to gorp

Lately my snacking has turned towards trail mix (or gorp, scroggin, studentenfutter). I love the stuff...except for the raisins. Sure, for the longest time I've tolerated 'em*, but if I had my druthers I'd leave 'em out. But, as far as trail mixes go, they are seemingly everywhere, in every variety. It's gotten to the point where I will pick them out entirely (see photo above).

I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore. And that's why I made my own trail mix last night. No longer am I a slave to Big Raisins and that industry's stranglehold on the pre-packaged trail mix consumer.

Uncle Micah's Old Fashioned Good Time Non-Hippie Trail Mix includes peanuts, cashews, almonds, banana chips, dried mixed berries, chocolate chips, and peanut butter chips. Almost very healthy, but not quite.

This will be perfect for the late workday doldrums snackage. I can envision a future where everyone wears matching jumpsuits, all doors automatically open with a "whooosh" sound, and, instead of every meal being in pill form, they will consist only of my trail mix. It's that good.

And, economically, it's comparable to the pre-mixed stuff that I've previously been buying. I've crunched the numbers and my trail mix costs $.22/ounce. The Wal-Mart feedbag that I used to snack on goes for $.17/ounce, but that price increases if you take into account all the uneaten raisins that it contains. It probably evens out in the end.

For the next batch I need to get a huge bucket or something to mix it in. Right now I had to use the banana chips container (above) and five pieces of Gladware. Also, I think I will add coconut flakes to the next batch (I could only find the shredded kind at the store).

Any other interesting suggestions for what I should include?

*They are easier to take in Raisin Bran because they're covered in sugar. The same goes for oatmeal raisin cookies.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Quick movie reviews

Step Brothers: Although uneven at times, this was an overall funny movie...but only if you find Will Ferrell's standard loud manchild shtick funny (luckily, I do). Ferrell and John C. Reilly prove once again to be a good comedy pairing, feeding off of each other's absurd and crude improvs. The fact that this movie provided so many laughs was especially refreshing after the dreadful Semi-Pro (but I did find Reilly's previous comedy - the extremely underrated Walk Hard - hilarious). In true Apatow fashion, there are some funny lines in the trailer that didn't make it into the final cut (most noticeably, Ferrell's "He'll never find out" when he attempts to bury Reilly alive). Oh, and there's a little something extra after the credits.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Song to close out the weekend: "Beer" by Asylum Street Spankers

Introducing your new favorite song by your new favorite group. They're definitely one of the best live acts that I've ever had the pleasure to see (multiple times).

Bonus audio treat: "The Scrotum Song"

I'd meant to make this post on Friday, but not everything goes according to plan, you know?

Friday, July 25, 2008

Reduce/reuse/recycle as I say, not as I reduce/reuse/recycle

You'd think that Al Gore would instruct his drivers not to leave a car idling with the air conditioning running while he gives a speech. But you'd also think he wouldn't allow an SUV to be a part of his caravan, either. Oh, well. He can always buy even more carbon credits from the company that he owns.

Now, before you get your hemp panties in a bunch, it's the green hypocrites that I'm picking on. I have the utmost respect for people like Ed Begley, Jr. While I may not agree with him, there's no denying that he walks it like he talks it. The fact that he has a sense of humor about himself is just icing on the cake. Plus, anyone who's been on "Arrested Development" gets a lifetime pass from me.

In other green news, here's a list of all of the terrible things caused by global warming*. I see it was recently updated to include Black Hawk Down. Nice.

Last night's "green guilt" episode of "Penn & Teller: Bullshit!" was entertaining, but didn't really tell me anything that I didn't already know beforehand. I'm glad that I'm not the only one who sees a parallel between carbon credits and indulgences by the Catholic church before Martin Luther came along. Anyway, this one was a nice compliment to previous episodes about recycling and environmental hysteria (the latter of which is available in full on YouTube).

*Thanks to spydrz for the link.

Bonus Crush of the Week: Amanda Seyfried

This week's Bonus Crush is actress Amanda Seyfried, lately of Mama Mia!, which I have not seen (and doubtfully ever will; I prefer my ABBA in audio form only). I have enjoyed her work in "Big Love" and Mean Girls, though.

Love those doe eyes!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Crush of the Week: Christina Hendricks

This week's Crush is actress Christina Hendricks. I've been watching the first season of "Mad Men" this week - where she plays office vamp Joan - and am really digging it (and her). I'm looking forward to the hotness she will bring to season two.

Possible Crush of the Year? Yep. That's how smitten I am with her.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

I'm in love. What's that song?

Well, I did it. I made my first purchase from Amazon's mp3 store. What'd I buy? Paul Westerberg's 49:00. Now, I'm not the biggest fan of his solo work, but the Replacements' Pleased To Meet Me is one of the albums I played to death as a kid*. Also, and more importantly, the total cost for his new album is $.49. Now, I'm not so naive as to think that this will usher in a new era of ultra-cheap legal music downloads, but at least Westerberg is fighting the good fight and he deserves some kudos.

As for my Amazon shopping experience, it was quick, easy, and DRM-free. Hopefully, iTunes is taking notice.

Yesterday I also picked up Nine Inch Nails' The Slip, even though I had already downloaded the album for free (legally!) a couple of months ago. While I no longer have the teenage angst that 43 year old Trent Reznor seems to feed off of, I still like his music and I'll buy pretty much anything he puts out. Also, I like to send the message that there are folks like me who see a physical release as superior to a download-only one. And there's a bonus DVD and some stickers.

*Curiously, I never upgraded my cassette copy. Yesterday I got news of an autumn reissue, so I'll just wait for that.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Quick movie reviews

The Dark Knight: Most times I view hype as suspect, but this film is worthy of the praise (and huge box office). Crafting a dark, smart, and epic movie, Christopher Nolan has evolved from Batman Begins - the guy can finally shoot an action scene where you can tell what's going on (gone are the extremely tight close-ups and shaky camerawork)! This is largely an ensemble piece and Batman/Bruce Wayne is just another player, which works to the movie's credit given the abundance great performances that we get. Obligatory Heath Ledger praise: yeah, he really gets lost in the role of the Joker and comes across as truly unhinged. I don't know if anyone else has made the connection, but Gotham's mayor is played by Nestor Carbonell, who previously played the role of Batmanuel in the lamentably dead-too-soon live action version of "The Tick". Hilarious! Out of all the very good comic book adaptions to come out this year, this take the top honors.

Batman: Gotham Knight*: I'm usually no fan of anime, but I dug this. I guess I just need Western source material to enjoy this medium (see also The Animatrix). It started out a bit slow and some installments are better than others, but still I found it entertaining overall.

*Yes, this is not a movie per se, but it is related to The Dark Knight as it takes place within director Christopher Nolan's Batman universe.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Song to get you through the weekend: "Where's Your Head At" by Basement Jaxx

Freaky monkeys with human faces + an English Patton Oswalt-looking bloke + a killer groove = one twisted video

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Crush of the Week: Domenica Davis

This week's Crush is Fox News Channel meteorologist Domenica Davis. I first saw her over the weekend, talking about tropical storms and or something. Honestly, I was too smitten to follow what she was saying.

Bonus picture:

I'm not sure how accurate her forecasts are, but I do find her super cute.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

My favorite movies for every year of my life

Similar to yesterday's post about my favorite albums, I thought that I'd take another cue from the internets and compile a list of my favorite movies for each year that I've been alive. To aid in my selection, I consulted Wikipedia's lists of years in film, which I found out was less than complete (it didn't list Fletch!). So, I may have overlooked a film or two.

1975: Jaws
1976: Rocky
1977: Star Wars
1978: Dawn of the Dead
1979: The Jerk
1980: Caddyshack
1981: Raiders of the Lost Ark
1982: Pink Floyd: The Wall
1983: National Lampoon's Vacation
1984: This Is Spinal Tap
1985: Fletch
1986: Ferris Bueller's Day Off
1987: The Princess Bride
1988: Die Hard
1989: When Harry Met Sally...
1990: Goodfellas
1991: Terminator 2: Judgment Day
1992: Scent of a Woman
1993: Groundhog Day
1994: Pulp Fiction
1995: Braveheart
1996: Swingers
1997: Chasing Amy
1998: Rushmore
1999: Fight Club
2000: High Fidelity
2001: Ocean's Eleven
2002: The Bourne Identity
2003: Big Fish
2004: Shaun of the Dead
2005: Walk the Line
2006: Thank You For Smoking
2007: Hot Fuzz
2008: Iron Man

What have we learned? For the most part, I'm a populist and a comedy geek. Big shock.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

My favorite albums for every year of my life

There's an internet thingy making the rounds where you list your favorite album released in each year of your life. Sounds simple, doesn't it? No, it is agonizing. As you can see below, I had to make some tough calls*. But I did the best I could (ask me to do this again in a week from now and you'll likely get an almost entirely different list).

1975: Pink Floyd, Wish You Were Here
1976: Boston, Boston
1977: Elvis Costello, My Aim Is True
1978: Elvis Costello and the Attractions, This Year's Model
1979: The Clash, London Calling
1980: AC/DC, Back In Black
1981: The Police, Ghost in the Machine
1982: Michael Jackson, Thriller

This year was the first toughie for me, with Yaz's Upstairs at Eric's, Def Leppard's Pyromania, and Listen by A Flock of Seagulls. Femmes for the win. Due to the many strong albums from here on out, I provide a runner up for every year.

1983: Violent Femmes, Violent Femmes (runner up: The Police, Synchronicity)
1984: Prince, Purple Rain (runner up: Van Halen, 1984)
1985: The Dead Milkmen, Big Lizard in my Backyard (runner up: LL Cool J, Radio)

Okay, 1986 is the next big year full of classics: Graceland, So, Life's Rich Pageant, Skylarking, Candy Apple Grey. Yikes!

1986: The Smiths, The Queen Is Dead (runner up: Run-DMC, Raising Hell)
1987: The Cure, Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me (runner up: the Replacements, Pleased to Meet Me)
1988: Public Enemy, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (runner up: R.E.M., Green)
1989: The Stone Roses, The Stone Roses (runner up: The Cure, Disintegration)
1990: Depeche Mode, Violator (runner up: The Sundays, Reading, Writing And Arithmetic)
1991: Matthew Sweet, Girlfriend (runner up: A Tribe Called Quest, The Low End Theory)
1992: Basehead, Play With Toys (runner up: The Beastie Boys, Check Your Head)
1993: A Tribe Called Quest, Midnight Marauders (runner up: Depeche Mode, Songs of Faith and Devotion)
1994: Johnny Cash, American Recordings (runner up: Nine Inch Nails, The Downward Spiral)
1995: Pulp, Different Class (runner up: Ben Folds Five, Ben Folds Five)
1996: Weezer, Pinkerton (runner up: Fountains of Wayne, Fountains of Wayne)
1997: Buena Vista Social Club, Buena Vista Social Club (runner up: Wyclef Jean, The Carnival)
1998: Pulp, This Is Hardcore (runner up: Steve Poltz, One Left Shoe)
1999: The Roots, Things Fall Apart (runner up: Ben & Jason, Emoticons)
2000: Flogging Molly, Swagger (runner up: Jack Johnson, Brushfire Fairytales)
2001: Ben Folds, Rockin' the Suburbs (runner up: Jude, King of Yesterday)
2002: Eminem, The Eminem Show (runner up: Mary Prankster, Tell Your Friends)

And now we come to the last year of very hard choices: Elvis Costello's North, Steve Poltz's Chinese Vacation, The Postal Service's Give Up, Snow Patrol's Final Straw, and Pigeon John's Is Dating Your Sister were all contenders. I had to go with a recent discovery of Clem Snide, though.

2003: Clem Snide, Soft Spot (runner up: Fountains of Wayne, Welcome Interstate Managers)
2004: John Wesley Harding, Adam's Apple (runner up: Say Anything, ...Is a Real Boy)
2005: Anya Marina, Miss Halfway (runner up: Clem Snide, End of Love)
2006: Amy Winehouse, Back to Black (runner up: Jarvis Cocker, Jarvis)
2007: The National, Boxer (runner up: Lily Allen, Alright, Still)
2008: Vampire Weekend, Vampire Weekend (runner up: Neon Neon, Stainless Style)

So, what's your list?

*I have omitted compilations from contention. Sorry, Bob Marley and Squeeze.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Quick movie reviews

Hellboy II: The Golden Army: On simply an aesthetic basis, I feel that Hellboy is the most successful comic book character to make the jump from page to screen. Ron Perlman's take on the gruff demon is once again pitch perfect and director Guillermo del Toro provides a visual feast where everything is ratcheted up from the pretty damned good 2004 film: the humor, love story, weird creatures, and CGI are all much stronger. I had a great time watching this yesterday, especially one particular scene involving Hellboy, Abe, beer, and Barry Manilow's "Can't Smile Without You." Go see it.

Across the Universe: While I was predestined to hate this movie - it involves hippies and an enroachment on the Beatles canon, after all - there were some good parts (notably, the "I Want To Hold Your Hand" sequence in the beginning). But this was way too long with too many disposable storylines and characters. An example would be Prudence, who I suspect was put into the movie just so "Dear Prudence" could be shoehorned in, suddenly disappears midway through the movie. Hello goodbye.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Song to get you through the weekend: "Seven Cities" by Solar Stone

Remember 2000? Back then I lived in NoVA, had an unspectacular steady job, and proclaimed to be a DJ - it was much more of a bedroom hobby than a paying gig, really - and one of my favorite songs at the time was "Seven Cities" by Solar Stone. I primarily spun hip-hop, drum 'n' bass, and Big Beat (why must subgenres have to die?), but I found this pop trance song irresistible. Sure it follows the standard formula for this radio/club-friendly type of music: a pulsating, relentless techno beat that leads to a quiet, syrupy melodic breakdown, only to build to a glorious climax*. But it does so expertly.

I had first heard "Seven Cities" on a Paul Oakenfold/Fatboy Slim mix CD and bought the vinyl single right away. It's funny that until today when I found this video and watched it for the first time, I never knew that this song had vocals. I only was familiar with the instrumental remixes. While I believe that the lyrics obscure the simple beauty of the music, I figured it was best to post the original video rather than a boring fan vid (do check out that superior mix, though, if you have six minutes to kill).

Today, my turntables are in storage and my many crates of records are gathering dust, but I still love this song.

*Kind of like a date with me, now that I think about it.

Requiem for an entertaining government employee

R.I.P. Tony Snow, 1955-2008.

So far, this is shaping up to be an unkind year for non-abrasive, "nice guy" political TV pundits.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Protecting my cube since 2008

I think that I've remarked that, should the situation arise, I could clear my cubicle of my personal belongings in less than 30 seconds. The only things that I've spruced up my cube with are a couple of calendars ("The Office" for the wall, "Monty Python" for the desk), a Squishee cup, a Black & Blue Classic (the annual UR/VCU basketball game) promotional mug, and a stack of magazines. The latter I will leave for the next person who occupies this space, as they've all been thoroughly read and, uh, "flagged."

And, thanks to MW commenter SBN1/THSE/Simply Reg for the awareness of its existence, I have one more item in my workspace: Captain America Mighty Muggs (or is the singular "Mighty Mugg"?). SBN1 remarked that, when the time comes for me to quit or be fired, I would create a victorious image by having Captain America sit atop my small box of personal effects. I agree.

Most people my age are acquiring mortgages and children; I've got Captain America.

Monday, July 07, 2008

This is what it's all about.

Yep, it was a good week.

Grunt! Belch! Fart! 'Twas Man Night.

If there's one meal that I look forward to every year, it's the one that's served on Man Night. During that magical night, the ladies go off to dinner and a play, leaving the menfolk alone for a few hours. Uncle Chuck prepares a feast: 1.5" thick steaks, grilled potatoes, wedge salad, and grilled Texas toast. As usual, this year it was pure, manly, artery-clogging heaven.

Afterwards under the stars, we broke out cigars and pipes and rambled off our "best artists/albums/songs" in a variety of musical categories while classic rock radio filled the air.

It really doesn't get any better than that. Well, maybe if there was a hot chick on my lap. But then it wouldn't be Man Night, now would it?

Thursday, July 03, 2008

With your feet in the air and your head on the ground...

Where is my mind?

Fun fact: my Aunt and Uncle's house here is right next door to one belonging to author John Jakes (the North and South trilogy, Hollywood Wives).

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

"What am I going to do with all of this paella?!"

Books finished: 1
Landsharks drank: 3
Naps taken: 3
TV watched: extremely little
Hotties spotted: none
Percentage of consumed food that was prepared on the grill: 70