Thursday, January 27, 2011

Crush of the Week: Sarah Shahi

This week's Crush is actress Sarah Shahi, lately the lead on Fairly Legal. Honestly, I find her strikingly beautiful.

The show itself is nothing new - She's a lawyer-turned-mediator who solves everyone's problems but her own. And she lives on a boat. She's so quirky! - or all that special, but Shahi can really fill out a business suit and the show's light enough for background noise. So I'll keep watching for a few more episodes.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Best of 2010: DVDs

What makes a great DVD? Sure, the content of the movie/show/concert/whatever itself is imperative, but more important for whether something is to be deemed a success on the format is the audio/video quality, packaging, and the scope and depth of the bonus features. Due to budgetary reasons, an ever-increasing lack of storage space, and willingness to wait so as not to double dip on discs when I get my own Blu-Ray player, I've greatly slowed down my purchases. Honestly, I only bought a handful of titles. But I made sure they were all winners. Here are the shiny discs that I think were the best to come out in 2010:

Kick-Ass - Okay, so I still haven't really checked out the bonus features of this Blu-Ray, but it looks packed. The film transfer itself is excellent, though. The colors of this world of costume vigilantes absolutely pops.

The Office: Season Six - When it comes to DVD releases of TV shows, "The Office" is tops in terms of what it gives back to its fans. The webisodes (ugh, I hate that term) and bloopers are fun, but the real meat is the all of the deleted scenes. When you add it all it up it's like getting almost another 10-15 episodes. And it's not chaff; this is quality humor that just couldn't be fit in due to time constraints. Points off for completely excising the Halloween cold open of the "Koi Pond" episode because some nervous nelly watchdog group complained. Boo!

The League (The Complete First Season) - The deleted scenes and extended episodes make a funny debut season even better.

Survival of the Dead (Ultimate Undead Edition) - The movie was crap, but this Blu-Ray is packed with zombie goodness. The feature length documentary is better than the actual movie. And some of the autumnal scenery really is nice to look at.

Happy Burns Night!

Wishing you and yours the very merriest of Burns Nights. What will I be doing tonight? I don't know. Definitely enjoying a wee dram of Islay. Maybe read from Will There Ever Be a Rainbow?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Best of 2010: books

In 2009 I read embarrassingly few books. To make up for that, last year I read more books than in any other year, including seventeen books from an entirely new genre to me and the best freakin' book that I've ever read. My year end list for books is different than most people's since I'm a relatively slow reader. And sometimes inspiration takes a while to hit me. So I don't catch everything as it's published. So these are the best books that I've read in 2010:

The Stand by Stephen King - At 1,100+ pages, this epic novel is the longest book that I've ever read. But the daunting length did nothing to diminish how extremely intriguing the story is. Seriously, this is the best book that I've ever read. King really threw everything into this tale of good versus evil. I can't recommend it highly enough. Baby, can you dig your man?

Hard Case Crime books by various authors - I've decided to lump these together, but they aren't a series of books per se, but a publishing imprint. I had never really read any crime noir fiction before, but the dual siren song of a dollar store find and the best damn covers in the business swayed me. And I'm so glad that I spent those hundred pennies. Last year I ended up reading 17 HCC books and have loved every one of them. The cream of the crop: Christa Faust's Money Shot (murder in the porn industry; this is the title that got me hooked), Lawrence Block's Grifter's Game (the ending is completely shocking; I can only imagine how it played in 1961 when it was first published), and David J. Schow's Gun Work (this would make an excellent revenge movie). Hard Case Crime's original publisher decided to get out of the books-on-paper business this year (damn you, Kindle!), but luckily they found a new home and will resume putting out these pulp classics in the autumn.

Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill - Stephen King's son whipped up a very creepy ghost story, about an aging rock star haunted by his past. The first half is great, but it loses steam when the setting changes halfway through. Still worth a read if you want some chills.

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown - Hey, I'm not above reading airport novels. And I like stories about the Freemasons, so it's got that going for it. In usual Dan Brown fashion, it's briskly paced. It's not as good as Angels & Demons. (The Illuminati are my favorite nutty conspiracy theory.) I'd put it on par with The Da Vinci Code. Great for the beach or your next trip to Washington, DC.

The old college try: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith - Last year I tried yet again to read this, but I just couldn't get into it (again). It takes a lot for me to abandon a zombie tale and that special something is Jane Austen's writing style.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Simpsons surprise

So, whilst Christmas shopping a few weeks ago, I happened to stop at the local hipster dry goods market and general store and noticed an intriguing impulse buy: mini Simpsons figures. Cool! But there's a catch: each individual box is sealed and you don't know which character you've bought until you open it.

Interesting concept, but I'd much prefer to know what I'm getting. At $.25, a gumball machine isn't much of a risk. But at $10 a pop, which is what each of these suckers cost? Anyway, this weekend I went back to the shop and picked a box up.

Of all of the Simpsons figures in this set, the one I really want is "Zombie Homer". Apparently, he's ultra rare and goes for upwards of around $80 on ebay.

But if I don't end up with "Zombie Homer" (and I don't expect to), the other Springfield denizens that I'd prefer to get are Moe Szyslak, Groundskeeper Willie, or Captain Horatio McCallister. The rest I'll accept (of course), but I may not rest until I get what I want. Maybe.

So, let's see who's in this box...

It's, uh, Disco Stu. Despite having one classic line - "Did you know that disco record sales were up 400% for the year ending 1976? If these trends continue...AAY!" - he's never been one of my favorites. You know, I've been wanting to try my hand at selling stuff on ebay. I think I know what item I'll put up on the auction block first.

I remain undeterred and may have to give it another shot. But if I get another so-so character - please no Patty or Selma! - then I'm out for good.

Monday, January 10, 2011

You choose the Crush of the Year

Lately I've been pretty busy with compiling my "Best Ofs" for movies, music, TV, etc. and those lists should be popping up here shortly. But there's one area where the choice of the year's perfection is out of my hands. Once again, I'll turn the selection of the Crush of the Year over to you, dear reader. After all, the consensus picks in previous years have been great. (You folks did a fine job last year given the tough choices.)

The rules:
1) Vote by leaving the name of your pick in the comment section of this post (either on Blogger or Facebook). No votes via e-mail, text, phone, different posts' comments sections, or other methods will be counted. I do this so that there'll be a virtual paper trail of people's clear intentions. No hanging chads around here.
2) No justification of your choice is required, but if you want to explain why you opted for a particular candidate, feel free to do so.
3) No write-ins.
4) You may only vote once regardless of location (that means no voting on both Blogger and Facebook).
5) Only the candidates listed below are eligible to win.
6) Should no Crush receive a plurality/majority of the votes, I shall choose the CotY. In fact, I reserve the right to lay down my tyrannical fist and institute my own pick, no matter the voting results. But I probably won't. But you never know.
7) Void where prohibited. (Likely Utah.)
8) Voting ends when this post leaves the front page of the blog or two weeks from the exact time and date of this post, whichever comes first.

Finally, your candidates for 2010 Crush of the Year:So there you go. Pester your friends, rally the civic organizations that you're a member of, and organize your congregation. You really don't want Diddy on your bad side.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

2010 resolution winners and losers

2011. A new year. A fresh start. A blank slate. Another tired cliché. Rather than make some new resolutions, how about we see how I did on last year's lofty aspirations?

  • Get better at responding to e-mails (including Facebook messages and posts). Two day delay, tops.

    Eh, I wasn't great at doing this, but I think I was better than before. A little.

  • Start AND finish at least one these epic-length books: The Count of Monte Cristo, Gone with the Wind, The Stand, or Atlas Shrugged.

    I read the extended and uncut edition of The Shining! I think this year I'm going to tackle The Lord of the Rings.

  • Start AND finish at least one of these epic-length video games, including their DLC: Fallout 3 or Grand Theft Auto IV.

    Nope. I did finish Fable II, though, and that's pretty epic. I'd still like to get those games, as well as Fable III and Red Dead Redemption.

  • Finish compiling the mix CD that I promised a friend of mine.

    Yup. It was actually more of an audio and video project, not just a mere mix CD. And it was warmly received.

  • Watch all of the various Britcoms that I've already procured. I kept promising and promising to blog about them, but obviously didn't.

    Didn't touch 'em. In fact, I've procured even more since then. *sigh*

  • Read more of the Bible. I've really slacked off in this department.

    I sucked at this, too.

  • Post more substance here, less lazy YouTube hit and runs. Hopefully, that'll get people to actually, you know, read this blog (no offense to my three regulars).

    Yeah, this blog is still pretty much a YouTube-links-and-pictures-of-attractive-women repository with only a smattering of substance. But I have a new feature in mind that should last at least a year. If only I could muster the initiative to start it.

  • Create a super secret online Christmas thingamajig.

    Done: A Very Micah Christmas. The plan is to make every one of my Christmas mixes since 1999 available digitally on that blog. But I've at least started it and posted 2010's mix there.

  • Totally revamp this blog's layout and name.

    Fail. I should check Go Daddy and see if there are any domain name coupons. I'm still bored with the layout and would like to get a custom one. Any kind souls want to do that for me?
So that's that. Strange that I didn't make a public proclamation about my intentions to drop some el-beez because that's the one thing I actually DID do last year. (70+ pounds to be a little more precise.)

Anyway, in 2011 I'll just build on what I couldn't do over the past 365 days. The only thing that I'll add is that I intend to get rid of my mounting paper clutter. Why do I save all of these gas station receipts? And you'd think after two moves over the last five years that I'd learn not to amass an immense archive of unread magazines. So, henceforth I will read and toss new ones out shortly after they arrive.

I can probably do all of that. Or maybe I'll just wait until 2012 to get things done. Then again, the world's going to end then, so what's the point?

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Audio fruitcake: "Auld Lang Syne" by Salsa Celtica


We finish up this seasonal loaf of audio fruitcake with Robert Burns' poem-turned-song "Auld Lang Syne" by Salsa Celtica. Leave it to a bunch of Scottish lads playing salsa music to record my favorite version. You can find this on their 2003 album El Agua De La Vida.

And now that "the holidays" are almost officially over, I can start the process of shedding my winter weight.