Thursday, July 31, 2008


Just finished reading the first 3 books of Scott Westerfeld's Uglies Series. I bought the box set with a gift certificate that I received for my birthday. Uglies is a series for young adults. YA literature has always been one of my favorite genres of books. There is something about the simplicity of young adult fiction that appeals to me when I am looking for a quick relaxing read. I like how young adult fiction doesn't take itself too seriously and isn't afraid of new ideas or mixing genres. This would probably have been listed as sci-fi in adult fiction, and thereby scaring away a lot of people from reading it (which is a shame because many books labeled as sci-fi are excellent reads for anyone). There is a fourth book in the series that I need to go check out from the PC Library, but I didn't have time before leaving for I started reading a different book that I had bought a few days earlier (more on that in another post).

Anyhow, I really enjoyed these books and wanted to tell everyone that there is more to Young Adult literature than Harry Potter, and just because it is YA doesn't mean that it is not a complex story, that is an entertaining and enjoyable read. YA seems to mean that sex is kept to a minimum as well as violence....YA contains small amounts but no orgies or bloodbaths. Heck, YA genre contains - Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, Oliver Twist, The Count of Monte Cristo, Treasure Island, Kidnapped, and Alice in Wonderland. All classics. I encourage everyone to try it if you are having trouble getting into anything in the adult world of literature (it tires me out sometimes). Try some of the new stuff too, not just the may be surprised at how much you enjoy it. Let me know if you have any other suggestions for good reads (YA or not), I am always looking for new reading material.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Wisconsin Death Trip

I Survived. Successfully infiltrating the inner circle of the GF-Unit's family. I gained their confidence and walked confidently through their midst without raising any suspicions.

All kidding aside, I actually had a pretty wonderful time at the GF-Unit's Family Reunion (The Johnstad Family Reunion 2008). See me on the right? (Duh, LEFT...Thanks to CT for pointing out that I am an idiot) It all took place in a small Wisconsin town called Whitehall. They rented a fabulous park for the weekend for everyone to gather, have fun, and camp (if they wanted). The park had sand volleyball, tennis courts, baseball field, a pool with a water slide, and a golf course connected. I didn't do as much as I would have liked because I wasn't expecting that type of thing so came ill-prepared.

We camped - it was the first time in several years that I had been camping and I enjoyed it quite a bit...I wish there had been a closer fire pit to cook HDs and S'mores, but it all worked out in the end. I got to meet some of the family, had some good food, listened to some music, had a water balloon fight, and just hung out. I enjoyed their family auction (to help pay for next year's reunion) although I was disappointed not to win the Blongo/Ladderball/Hillbilly Golf set. But one of the GF-Unit's aunts was dead set on having it. Oh well.

My favorite person at the reunion (besides GF-Unit), was Charlie. He was a wiener dog....a tweenie (not a full size but not miniature either) and was wire-haired. He was adorable. Running around always looking for food (the wiener dog way!). Unfortunately, he was also pretty shy so I didn't get to hug him, and squeeze him, and call him George like I wanted to. I did get to pet him a few quick times before he scampered away though. Charlie, I know my dogs would have hated you at first...but I wanted to dognap you very badly.

Photos in this post are copyright Jessica Kreutzfeldt (aka GF-Unit)...She is a really good photographer if you happen to need one.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Wisconsin Bound

This weekend, I am going to Wisconsin for the gf-unit's family reunion (did I really need to hyperlink Wisconsin?). This sort of frightens me...a lot. I feel a little bit like I will be a contender in a Human Show. Primped and preened, paraded around for the judges. Luckily, I have a decent pedigree and can behave well if I am so inclined. I know all the tricks - heel, beg, shake hands, stand still while someone gropes you.

I am also a little bit excited though, because I haven't been camping in years. Neither have I been to Wisconsin since around 1994. But Wisconsin doesn't remind me of cheese or the Packers or anything like that. Wisconsin reminds me of music. First and foremost is a song by the Dead Milkmen called "I'm Living in Wisconsin". You have no idea how many times this song has gotten stuck in my head...I am pretty sure I drove the people I rode with in 1994 nuts singing this song (could be why we are no longer friends).

I'm living in Wisconsin
But only in my mind
The fields, the grass
The farms I pass
The little country inn
Make me long for

Oh, I'm living in Wisconsin
Although I'm in PA
I'd be in Wisconsin
If I only knew the way

Refrigerator's running
The clock strikes twelve
I'm walking on air
I wish I could fly

Trust me, it sounds awesome when the Dead Milkmen sing it. WI also reminds me of the album "Wisconsin Death Trip" by Static-X. A great album. WDT is not my favorite song but it is good song (as is the entire album). My favorite part of this album though is the last song. The whole album is this fist pumping, energy inducing, in your face, shot of adrenaline straight into your cortex. But the last song - December - is this quiet, wistful, slowly building song that is like a cool, damp washcloth on your fevered head. It is soothing and relaxing, easing the tension and anger from your body that the rest of the album has built up....just like Wisconsin (or not, I am really only reminded of this because of the name of the album and need to talk to more...I don't really know much to say about Wisconsin itself).

Thursday, July 24, 2008

I feel like I I could...TAKE ON THE WORLD!!

So when I have had some free time this week, I decided I would break out an old PC game called Day of the Tentacle (Manaic Manson 2). Why? I mean, I have my XBOX 360 sitting there with a stack of games I haven't even opened, why break out 15 year old game that ran in DOS. Why? Because it is awesome. It is just a funny game that is a joy to play. The animation still holds up fairly well for a cartoon, the characters have hilarious lines, and it is just a good old fashioned adventure game that makes you use your brain.
I was just going to watch the intro to see if it was as funny as I remembered (it was!) but I was drawn in and played for longer than I have played any video game in 6+ months. It is a game that makes you want to explore and talk to everyone. One of those games where you think to yourself "just 5 more minutes" and are still playing an hour later.
Unfortunately, they don't really seem to make games like this any more. Today, many games just seem like a grind and although they are interesting, I don't feel the same type of joy that I get from this simple game. I miss adventure games, I wish that style would make a comeback. Especially the games from Lucas Arts. Maniac Mansion, Monkey Island, Sam & Max, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, Grim Fandango, etc... I played and loved them all. They took the place of the King's Quest games in my gaming heart which had held domain for many years. Lucas - please release all of these on Xbox Live (as well as X-Wing and Tie Fighter). I would buy them in an instant.
I encourage all of you to check out these old games, you won't be disappointed (OK, you might be but that is only because you are bitter at life and unable to enjoy simple pleasures instead filling the hole in your soul with the most depraved Internet porn you can find). As Purple Tentacle says "It makes me feel great...smarter...more I I could...TAKE ON THE WORLD!"
Check out the intro.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Like trying to take a photo of Big Foot (the creature, not the monster truck)

While at Rib America Fest (I'm not linking to it again because I am sick of it), I saw a sight that boggled my mind. Every once in a while, you run into something unexpected and against all of your stereotypes and perceptions and thoughts of how the world works that you are completely stunned. I fumbled for my camera, trying to get a picture before this majestic creature strode out of sight into the urban jungle...but to no avail, she was too fast. I felt like I was trying to take a photo of Big Foot (the creature, not the monster truck). I was so excited and knew no one would believe I doubt I'll ever see it again.

So lean in close to the campfire kiddies and let me describe this wonderful sight. First of all, it was a black lady (oh my lucky stars) in a cowboy hat. Now, I know there were black cowboys (right Mario Van Peebles?), but it is pretty rare for me to see a cowboy hat on anyone besides an old white guy. Heck, I can't remember the last time I even saw someone wearing a cowboy hat in person. Anyhow, the cowboy hat caught my eye, but her shirt was what broke my brain for a second. She was wearing a t-shirt with a big Irish flag and said "Free Northern Ireland." It was funny (to me). My mind was thinking "How many things are wrong with this sight?" It gave me a good laugh.

Free Northern Ireland! Oh wait, didn't they already do that? I thought they signed the Belfast Agreement 10 years ago. I may not be up on all my world history though. That just made it funnier!

OK, it might have been one of those things where you had to be there.

Monday, July 21, 2008

What you get for $20

Hello Humans. Here is a short recap of my weekend, hope yours went well also.

The Dark Knight = Awesome. The Joker character is creepy as hell and they really captured his psychotic side. This WAS the Joker...unlike in the 1989 film where it was Jack Nicholson with joker style makeup. Course, I feel that way about all Jack Nicholson's roles...he doesn't really become the role, the role becomes Jack Nicholson. Not to say that he isn't good, he is, I just don't believe in his characters. The Joker in the Dark Knight is scary, really scary. This is not a movie that I would take the kids. Heath Ledger was amazing (yes, I hate to admit it but the buzz is true), and it is a shame that he won't be able to reprise the role in the future...I would have loved to see some Arkham Asylum story lines in future movies. Oh well. Definitely check out this movie in the theater though, it is worth it.

On a Pale Horse played an awesome show at HoB as they always do. I was a little disappointed that they were opening for Only and played an abbreviated set. I missed Release the Smoke, but it was good gig even without it. PS - no broken bones, that was just a line from a Pale Horse song...but I did end up cracking a tooth sometime over the weekend. I like Only but didn't really feel like staying for them, so me and the gf-unit took off and ended up making out on the patio of the Iowa State Historical Museum for a while. What can I say, it is a beautiful area with the museum's architecture and artwork, the city skyline to west and the capital building to the east. It just seemed like a good place.

Soul Asylum was great. They played for over an hour and a half...and all for only $4. They were funny (Dave Pirner telling a "Pirate walks into a bar" joke, playing snippets of country, blues, pico de gallo, throwing in covers of Wipe Out, Led Zeppelin, Peter Frampton, etc...). They could have played a few more songs from Grave Dancer's Union (their masterpiece) but they hit a lot of high notes, getting everyone in the mood with "Somebody to Shove" as their first song. "Runaway Train", "Without a Trace", and "Misery" were some of the other highlights for me. The one song that I wished they would have played but didn't was "Can't Even Tell" from the Clerks Soundtrack. I forgot how awesome these guys are, I'll have to dig out my old CDs and give them a listen again. I think the show could have been promoted better...there was a small crowd but I think if people had known, many more would have come out for SA for $4 (personally, I just heard of the show by complete accident).

The Soul Asylum show was part of the Rib America Festival and I am glad that they could bring such great entertainment to Des Moines...but they seriously need to do something about their pricing. I understand that this is supposed to be some fancy BBQ event and everyone needs to make money but I shouldn't feel like I am getting anally raped when I go to buy something...I thought concerts like Lazerfest were rip offs, but this blew them out of the water. I was told it was going to be bad but it was worse that I figured. $35+ for a full rack of ribs (without any sides), $24+ for a half rack, $4.50 ear of corn, $7.50 beers, etc... I would have spent a lot more money if I felt like I was getting SOME value. This was more like paying someone to kick you in the nuts! Plus it was on the "ticket system" where you have to buy tickets in order to buy food and drinks from the vendors. I guess it makes it easier for the vendors? I don't know, seems more like a way to ripoff your customers. Tickets were 7 for $10 or about $1.50 each (that was the best deal)...and of course all food is sold in even number tickets, so you always have one left over that you can't use. I guess they think they are hiding their prices this way or something? I don't know, it is just a way to screw you over, in my opinion. I actually don't mind paying a fair price for a good product or even paying a lot for something incredible...but how are you to know at a place like this? Each vendor did have "Rib Samplers" for 6 tickets...that is right, you get 3 rib bones for $9. I really wanted to try some ribs from all the places but I couldn't let myself pay that much for 3 rib bones.

You walk in the festivus, and there are 6-8 large BBQ vendors and they all have similar menus and prices and all have the world champion how do you decide to spend your money/tickets? Well, I walked past them all to see if any seemed extra special or any had they were pretty much all the same, just different names. I liked the one named Pigfoot (just because of the name) but I ended up going to the stand that drew the worst set up spot, figuring that they would probably be more appreciative of my business and they listed their brisket sandwich as "Johnny Cash's favorite." After surveying the options I decide to spend my $20 on a brisket sandwich plate (a combo deal where I payed two extra tickets to get cole slaw and bbq beans), and ear of roasted corn (mmm corn sounds good and I can't wait till the local stuff becomes readily available), and a 20 ounce Coca-Cola. All I have to say is that Johnny Cash must have been coked out at the time that he said this was his favorite. The sandwich was OK. It was brisket, with a slightly smokey taste...very slight. It was a little dry and all the free bbq sauce was pretty mild, boring, and lame. The cole slaw was totally bland and really had no taste, the bbq beans tasted like jalapenos...not spiced up with jalapenos, just jalapenos...there were no bbq or bean flavor at all. The corn tasted old and didn't even have a smokey roasted taste. So of my $20, I feel like I got about $4 worth of value. So yay on ribfest for the entertainment but boo for trying to satisfy hunger. My only comfort was that I accidentally shorted one of the people a ticket when I was paying...I hope it was the corn guy. Damn the man!

Friday, July 18, 2008

There'll Be Broken Bones (weekend plans)

A busy weekend planned for me...which seems to be the norm lately. I am not sure if that is good or bad. It is nice not sitting at home and feeling like a loser (being out and feeling like a loser is much better!) but at the same time it can be a little exhausting at I guess we will see.

Friday night - going to the I-Cubs game with the gf-unit, my bro, and his gf-unit. Got to love free tickets from work...even if it is for baseball. Don't get me wrong, baseball can be great...but that seems to be few and far between for me, I usually find it a slow and pretty boring game. TV baseball puts me right to sleep (or has me quickly flipping the channel to paid programming) but in person, it is not too bad. You have a chance of catching an HD (hot dog) from the HD Gun...delicious. You have no idea how much I would pay to see some take a flying HD right in the face (okay, not that much but I would contribute to a pool of money). There is also a chance of seeing the Rally Yak if the Cubs are behind in the Ninth. I actually have no idea what the Rally Yak is all about but it is just goofy enough to have a fond place in my heart...maybe not as fond as delicious HDs being propelled through the air to lucky fans' stomachs, but a fond spot nonetheless. I usually start cheering for the Rally Yak in the 3rd inning or so.

Saturday, I am going to see The Dark Knight at the Imax theater in the Science Center of Iowa. You know you want to see it. I have only had a chance to check out a couple Imax movies so far but each one has been brilliant...I just don't get the butterflies in my stomach from a regular movie screen, but Imax often has me on edge. The last movie I saw almost made me feel like I was on a roller coaster. Anyhow, I think The Dark Knight movie looks amazing, so why not make it more so by being totally submersed in Jokery goodness? Imax is totally worth the extra $3.

After TDK in Imax, I am hoping to head to The House of Bricks and check out my favorite local band, On a Pale Horse. I love these guys. They put on a powerful, energy packed show every time. And Josh just happens to be one of the coolest people on the planet. Why is he so cool? I don't know, he just is...that's Josh. He is down to earth and friendly and yet he rocks the place every show. I may have a hetero-mancrush. You haven't heard of OaPH? Well definitely check out the above link to their MySpace page. Specifically check out the songs - Sound the Alarm, Amplify the Circle, and Release the Smoke...all "Whip the camel's ass" as Wesley Willis would have said. Check them out! No, don't say you will do it later. I know you, you will the link now and listen to them, then go to Hob on Saturday night.

Sunday - originally I was going to do nothing, but then I saw that Soul Asylum was playing the Rib America Festival. I heard the food there is pricey but admission is only $4. I'll gladly pay four bucks to see Soul Asylum and I'm sure I'll stay for Jonny Lang later. Maybe I'll wear my CHOPS shirt so that I fit in with all the BBQ Ribs - Hey Pork Association, why don't I get a free sample if I wear my shirt? Oh well, Soul Asylum will be fun.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


So it was made official last week that the AHL hockey team in Des Moines is going to be named the Iowa Chops. Yep, a pig team. About the last thing that I wanted in a new team name. I was very disappointed and saddened by this development at first. I have known about the name for about two months due to secret sources but kept hoping they would change it. But it is now official, we are a pig team and not just that but a pig team named after a food, and perhaps even worse than that we are the second pig team in our conference.

But I am very excited for the new season -

  • The new name has grown on me.

  • It has created a lot of buzz - everyone is talking about it, even people who never talked about hockey before (and both times I wore a t-shirt with the name or logo, I was stopped and asked where I got it - something that never happened in 3 years of wearing Iowa Stars gear).

  • It is OUR name. It feels like OUR team, not just a baby team for an NHL team.

  • Our new affiliation with the Anaheim Ducks should provide a tougher, more rugged style of hockey for Iowa.

So instead of whining and complaining about the name like some people continue to do, I am embracing it with open arms. Our team winning games and playing great hockey will make everyone forget that the name is a little silly. Let's take control of the team and make it something to be proud to wear. We only will be embarrassed if we let others embarrass us. Take control, wear your colors proud. There are many dumb, strange, dorky team names in sports - and the fans eventually embrace them (I did with the Barnstormers - which was the stupidest sounding name I had ever heard 15 years ago). In a couple years, you won't even remember why Iowa Chops sounded so strange.

For the people that say that the pig (I call him Chompy) needs a hockey stick or a puck in it's mouth? Look at NHL logos - only like 5 of 30 team logos contain sticks or pucks(Thrashers, Islanders, Penguins, Sharks, Capitals) - and I don't really like a single one of their logos. Do football teams have to put a big football in their logo, so people know it is a football team? No. If your team is supported by the community, the logo becomes the sport. I know in a few months when I am watching games every week, I won't see the Chompy logo and think "pig" or "pork chop," I'll think hockey. If you come to the games and cheer on the team, I can guarantee you will think the same. PS - they cut ticket prices this year between 30-50% depending on seating area, so be sure to give it a chance. I am at 40 games (at least) a year and always have a good time.

Just least we are not the Syracuse Crunch...I have no idea what that is supposed to be. Chompy looks 100% better than THAT.


corrected typos/spelling on 7/18/08 9:06am

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Thoughts on Concerts

I love concerts and live music. I have been to literally thousands of shows from small club shows to large stadium shows and everything in between. Last night, me and my hetro life-pal CT and some friends went to check out Puddle of Mudd at the Val Air Ballroom. It was a good rock show...I am not really into any of the bands that played but enjoyed them when I heard them on the radio, so when CT had an extra I didn't pass it down. I went in with low expectations and was pleasantly surprised.

This post isn't really about that show is about the thoughts that meandered through my brain during the show. But one thought in particular stood out in the randomness -

"What happened to all the tits?"

In the early 90's (when I started going to concerts), you would go to a show and see girls flashing their breasts all the time. I didn't go to the show for this reason, but hey it was a nice bonus (for a loser like me, who rarely got to see them any other way). At bad shows you could at least expect to see a couple pairs, at great shows it was nearly a non-stop boobfest. You just knew when a girl was on some guy's shoulders that her top was coming off sooner or later.

Then came Grunge - grunge you were awesome in so many ways, I bought your cds, I watched your videos, I wore your flannel shirts...why did you do this to me? It was subtle at first, fashion started changing and became more conservative...and slowly but surely there were less and less tits being flashed at concerts. Within 5-7 years or so, it was rare to see sweaty, naked breasts bared for the world to see (and enjoy).

Because of the grunge movement, I knew my generation was now a no-go for boobs...but I had high hopes for those up and coming music fans who were younger than the sweaters, flannel, jeans, and boots uniform of grunge. I mean you hear it all the time how teens are becoming sexually active younger (like Rainbow Parties) and dress sluttier and sluttier. That may (or may not) be true...but I will tell you one thing - this perceived increase in sexuality has not led to an increase in titty flashing at concerts. It is a virtually extinct art form.

So I started wondering why:
  1. Maybe women nowadays are more confident in themselves and their abilities and no longer feel the need to show it all to get attention. (Good for you!)
  2. Growing up idolizing (crappy) boy bands - maybe women have realized that obsessing over bands is kind of dumb, after all they are just people too, not gods. (Good for you!)
  3. Maybe they are too young to realize how accepted of a practice this was the concert experience. (boo!)
  4. Maybe they are so overexposed to sexuality from the interwebicon and cable tv that showing their breasts is just not the thrill or rebellious act it used to be. (boo!)
  5. Maybe the whole "increased sexuality" of the younger kids is more of a myth than truth. Maybe it is just the ignorant cry of older generations similar to the bygone "Those darn kids and their rock and roll music!" (boo on us, hooray for youth).
  6. I'm sure there are many more reasons that I could come up with but these are the 5 I thought of last night.

What are your thoughts? And feel free to flash your boobs - it is harmless fun (and you might make some lonely kid's night!).

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Why I Suck....

Well, I can be extremely lazy. Maybe I will post a blog maybe I won't...right now it seems like a lot of work on my part. Why waste those precious minutes writing a blog entry when I could be doing such awesome things like watching Paid Programming on TV (Billy Mays and Chef Tony are basically the biggest stars on television at this time) or playing sudoku on my cell phone. So bloggy, bloggy, may get updated regularly, you may get updated once a year depending on my fickle nature.