Friday, April 30, 2010

Buy Some Cans...

Earbuds - they're OK in a pinch
Seems most people these days have a portable mp3 player of one sort or another. Which is good. But most people listen to them with earbuds, which is bad. Earbuds have two good things about them - 1) they are easily portable. They can be stuffed in any pocket as you are running out the door. 2) you can remove and put them away very quickly. That is it.

Sound quality is not one of their features. For the most part they sound terrible. Those ones that came with your mp3 player? Might as well throw out when you open the box because everything sounds tinny on them. There are better earbuds that you can buy of course. $100 will get you a decent sounding pair of earbuds with good musical range. But decent does not mean good. It means they are passable.

Earbuds also are uncomfortable...again they vary, some better than others, but I can't imagine wearing ANY earbud for long periods of time. I've been told by people that I'm just not used to them. That is bullshit. I have been wearing earplugs and various styles of earbuds for 25 years. I just don't think you are wearing them for extended lengths. I like putting on my headphones at 8am and I don't take them off till I leave work at 5pm. That's nine hours. With earbuds I can usually last two before I need a break.

Ahhh...the 70's (vintage ad borrowed from The Vintage Knob)

I recommend buying a nice set of Cans.  You know those over the ear 1970's looking things?  They are awesome.  They are comfortable.  Although they look similar to the 70's headphones, they are much lighter, more balanced, and fit around your ears extremely comfortably.  You probably don't even realize how strained and tense your ears are from earbuds until you slip on a nice pair of cans and all of a sudden just feel relaxed.  They cut down on ambient noise.  You would think that an earbud wedged in your ear canal and blasting music would stop ambient noise but they don't do this nearly as well as cans.  With cans the world immediately becomes muted and you can live in the music...yes there are noise cancelling versions of both, but with cans you rarely need this extra feature (but it is nice if you are mowing the lawn or something).  Most importantly, the sound quality is incredible compared to any earbud.  A good set will make it seem like the music is actually inside your head rather than coming through your ears.  You will hear aspects to the music that you never knew existed.  More bass, better highs and a good range of everything in between.  With good sounding speakers, you won't need your music playing nearly as loud to achieve the same level of experience. Cans vs headphones - I usually have my can headphones turned down 30-50% lower than when I am using earbuds, with a better experience.  At work, I am using a cheap $20 pair of cans and they sound as good if not better than the $100 earbuds that they replaced.  If you spend $50 on a nice pair of can headphones, you will not need another set for the next 10 years.

I just can't say how much more pleasurable listening to music is with nice headphones.  I've been listening for years with earbuds and sometimes it did seem like a chore instead of relaxation.  I never get that feeling with the over the ear headphones.  I am so happy that I decided to switch back although I do keep a pair of earbuds in case of emergency.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Before I Sucked - Classic #2

I wrote this on myspace before I had an actual blog. Links and pictures added for your convenience.
Saturday, February 02, 2008

Current mood:Fired Up!
So you want to go to Vegas for a week in January?
This is how my trip got started in mid-December. I didn't hesitate long to answer as I knew Vegas would be much warmer than Iowa. It was a little bitter-sweet as it I was also offered to have my girlfriend fly out for a nice vacation...unfortunately it was the same day that I realized that it must be over with the girl that I had been seeing. Oh well, it is still a free trip to Vegas. I knew this wasn't going to be the whirlwind, busy all the time trip that the last one was.
Cinnabon should be outlawed.
Okay Cinnabon is delicious, everyone knows this...unfortunately everytime I am in an airport with a Cinnabon I only have 15 minutes to my next flight and the line is all the way down the hall. It has been years since I have enjoyed the yummy goodness of a Cinnabon but that smell tortures me every time I fly. I therefore propose a ban on all Cinnabons. If I can't have one, you shouldn't be able to either.
Welcome to warmth (or freezing cold if you live there).
We arrive in Vegas with few difficulties (besides lack of Cinnabon) and it was 55 degrees. It was -4 degrees when I left Iowa. It felt so good. We check into our hotel and there's the local Vegas weathermen complaining about these "below average temperatures." I couldn't help but laugh. It was also supposed to rain all week starting Tuesday...and it did sprinkle one day at 4am and then rained the day we left (as Vegas mourning our leaving is my guess) but other than that it was brilliant blue skies and mid-fifties all week. The locals didn't like it though - they were all bundled up in big down coats and gloves. I even saw a ski mask one day. Meanwhile I was wearing short sleeves but usually had a jacket in case it got windy...and even then I was sweating sometimes (hopefully because my body wasn't used to this warm weather and not because I am fat).
No Lenny for you.
Vegas is kind of dead in January, not much in way of concerts and events (I guess Miss America was there and I met a few contestants...but I couldn't really care less about it as an event)...but Lenny Kravitz was playing the night we arrived. Unfortunately by the time we got there, got checked in, got set up for the trade show (World of Concrete? Exciting!), and grabbed a quick bite to eat...the concert would have been nearly over and I am not paying $70 for 15-20 minutes. I was sad to have missed it.
Hooker Trading Cards.
Since there wasn't a whole lot to do, I ended up walking the strip some. I started a new collection of Hooker Trading Cards, since I gave them all away from last time. I was pretty surprised when 90% of the ones I collected were different from last time. I figured they used the same cards for years. I was impressed with their initiative for variety. You wouldn't want the hooker trading card business to stagnate.
Todd Goldman Sucks.
We stopped at an art gallery featuring Todd Goldman. I can't tell you how much he pisses me off, he doesn't have an original thought in his head. EVERYTHING is stolen from someone else. I knew I had seen a few ideas that he ripped off before but as I looked at all his prints, posters, and originals...almost every one I could place elsewhere. Like the one showing a lady smoking and it says "Smoking Kills...but at least you look cool." That T-shirt has been around for years and was not designed by Todd...just because he painted/copied it (exactly) but made the teeth yellow, does not constitute an original work in my mind. Especially one selling for $8500. Todd Goldman, you are not Andy Warhol. You are a talentless vampire feeding off lesser known artists.
Mmmm Food.
What I really love about Vegas is all the different and interesting restaurants. I am pretty sure you could eat at a different, cool, kick-ass restaurant every day of the year without repeating (well you could if you could afford it). Since I wasn't paying, I was more than happy to go out to a bunch of fancy restaurants but the guys I was with weren't always up for it (wusses) but I had to eat with them since I don't have a company credit card and they do. We did go to a couple good places. Rum Jungle - this is a restaurant/club in Mandalay Bay. We got their early (for Vegas) around 8:30pm so the place was completely dead and they didn't have the dancers in the cages yet. Oh well, it was still a cool place...and the food was awesome. We got the Fire Pit. Which is a bunch of different meats cooked on skewers over an open flame and then the come and slice you off a big chunk to try and you can have as much as you like. Stuff like Jamaican BBQ brisket, Jalapeno & mango chicken, Salmon with mango salsa, Italian sausage, chicken wrapped in apple bacon, etc... It was all fantastic. But my favorite ended up being the pineapple rice and caramelized plantains that they brought us to start. I could have just eaten that all day long. It ended up being like a 7 course meal and I was stuffed by the time we left. Highly recommended. Other places we tried: Bahama Breeze - it is a restaurant close to the convention center where the show was. I ordered a filet mignon and although there was nothing super fancy about it, it was cooked perfect and delicious. It came with garlic mashed potatoes and a single onion ring...of course this onion ring was about 7 inches in diameter. No idea where you get an onion like that but it was very tasty. Recommended. Hard Rock Cafe - I'd eaten here before but everyone else wanted to stop. I was hungry for a burger, so that's what I ordered. It was was one of the worst burgers I have ever had (until Friday night). It was dry and tasteless and even the bun and topping seemed limp and boring. I've had better burger at Wild Dingos here in Des Moines just a week prior. NOT recommended. Jack-in-the-Box - we stopped at one of these late Friday night about 2:30am...just for a quick bite. Not being that hungry, I wanted just a small hamburger but to make it easy I just ordered a number 1 combo. I figured number 1 must be their best and most popular. It was a huge black angus burger...way more than I wanted which would have been fine if it tasted okay. It didn't. I didn't like it at all...and the fries were gross. NOT recommended. Nora's Italian Restaurant - this is a place way out of the way in Vegas...more of a local eatery than a tourist trap restaurant. It was good, it's Italian so I always find that hard to mess up. Their fried calamari appetizer was pretty good (although dipping sauce was a little weak). Recommended if you want to get away from the strip. The Burger Bar - a place specializing in burgers where you can choose from like 80+ different toppings. You can also get a burger with white truffles and other fancy toppings that cost like $269. I'll pass on that one. I got a Classic American Cheeseburger...and it was amazing. I never had a burger be so perfect, between the cooking and the balance of toppings and was just really great and made up for the other two burgers I had. Sexpresso - a coffee shop where all the waitresses are in lingerie. I hate coffee but want to stop for the experience but no one else wanted to take the time. No Fatburger...since I first went to Vegas I have wanted to go to Fatburger but something has always come up to ruin my plans. This trip I had it firmly in my schedule to eat their Saturday night before I went to a concert but with the change of hotels and other confusion going on I ran out of time. Next time Fatburger, I promise! (I will be so happy if they greet me with "Welcome to Fatburger, home of the Fatburger. Can I take your order please?")
Cirque du Soleil.
I really wanted to see Cirque du Soleil KA which is the one where the stage turns vertical and they are all hanging from ropes while performing. I thought that sounded really cool but it was not to be, KA was not performing all week. So I had to choose another one, the other guys I was with decided they would like to see one too, so we chose Zumanity. It was close to our hotel (or WAS close) and it was the one with boobs. Boobs are good. I am always up for boobs. It was a good show, the girls in the fish bowl were awesome, the hula hoop girl was great, the contortionist guy was cool and creepy...I just wish there was more Cirque du Soleil feats of impossibility rather than joking around with the crowd. I would recommend it because it was really good...I just hoped for a little more. Might have been better with a girlfriend since it was supposed to turn you on. I did manage to entertain others in line waiting to pick up tickets when the lady said "You do realize that this show contains nudity, sexuality, and lewd language?" and my reply was "Of course, that is why we chose this one."
So why we were at the trade show on Friday, I get a text from my brother telling me that our hotel was one fire...well he didn't know it was our hotel, he was just joking around asking if I lit the Monte Carlo on it was pretty strange. After I confirmed with him that yes it was on fire, I turned to the other two guys with me and said "oh by the way, our hotel is on fire." They didn't believe me at first but went to look out the convention center windows and yep there was the black smoke. A quick internet check by one of them confirmed it.

You could tell one of them started stressing out. I was like "let my stuff burn. I have nothing irreplaceable, plus the hotel will pay me back." But the others were a little more worried. It made the last day of the trade show go really fast and made me sing many songs during the slow times like "The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire" and "Burning down the house." I don't think they appreciated my song stylings. Anyhow we quickly made new reservations at the Hilton Vacations which was right by the convention center (this is why Zumanity was no longer close to our hotel...our hotel was on fire). After the show we drove past the hotel and I took a few pictures with my cell phone. I found the whole thing fun and interesting. I had never been involved with a major fire before (and no I didn't start it...well as far as you and the police know, I didn't). Still hours later, the whole place was surrounded by fire trucks and couldn't get near it. Since we didn't know when we were going to be able to get our stuff, my company was kind enough to buy us some jeans and a shirt for the night (we were going to Zumanity that night)...I ended up getting a pair of jeans at the Marc Ecko Cut & Sew shop. They have a skull on the pocket which I both love and think is a little cheesy.
I really like the Cut & Sew line of clothes, which came as a little bit of a surprise since I hate the Ecko Unlimited line. I would suggest them. So anyhow, we went to Zumanity and by the time it was over they were letting people back into their rooms to get their stuff. It was about 2am. So we headed over to the hotel. I was a little surprised because it was only about 14 hours after the fire. I figured in the very least that they would wait 24. The hotel had people all over the place, so you couldn't get into any parts of the hotel that were closed off or damaged. They had people escort you up to your rooms and wait (outside the door) while you packed. Then you had to fill out all this paper work saying that you picked up your stuff and if anything was missing or damaged. All my stuff was there and fine but I wonder how many people tried filing false claims? It definitely made the trip interesting...I think the fire was my favorite part of the trip. Oh and thanks for all the messages asking if I started it! start one field on fire when you are young and all of a sudden you are an arsonist! Actually what cracked me up was when the president of our company called and asked if we were dead yet. Ha can't get rid of me that easy!
Social Distortion and a lack of sleep.
I went to go see Social Distortion at the House of Blues. Truthfully, I hadn't listened to them in years but I have always enjoyed them. It was a good show. There was a young girl (around 16 or 17 by the looks) who turned to me and said "I can't believe how many old people are here!" I am sure she thought I was younger than I am. I turn to her and say "You think a band that has been playing for 30 years may have picked up a fan or two along the way? Just because you have only been listening to them for a year or two (maybe) doesn't mean everyone else hasn't liked them for a lot longer. I started listening to them in like 1990 or '91 and I felt late to the party then." I felt a little bad because I think I came off kind of harsh...but really did she think the world revolved around her that much? Anyhow, I get out of the show around 1am and there is a message for me. Our flight has been canceled so instead of leaving around 9am, we now leave at 6am and have to leave for the airport at 4am! I still need to pack. I get home around 1:30am and quickly pack and get maybe an hour of sleep before I have to wake up. Normally I wouldn't have tried sleeping at all but with the fire and everything and being up super late that night...I needed at least a little. So our original flight was canceled where we would go from Vegas to Denver to Des Moines...our new earlier route went from Vegas to LA to Denver to Des Moines. Leaving 3 hours earlier and arriving 3 hours later than we were originally supposed to. Suck! It all ended up okay though...but I was exhausted for the next couple days.

This isn't as nearly in-depth or funny as the recap I wrote the other day...but stupid myspace server error lost that one. If you have any questions though, feel free to ask.


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Before I Sucked - Classic #1

I wrote this on myspace before I had an actual blog.  Links and pictures added for your convenience.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

So Vegas...
Current mood: tired
Category: Life

So I flew out to Vegas for the SEMA show on Monday. 3 days, 6 hours of sleep...pretty much the best business trip ever.

The trip started off a little crappy as I had to leave for the airport at 5am Monday morning (and I just got to bed a couple (maybe) hours before). Flight was normal...although I still say screw you people with peanut allergies! You ruined a good thing....pretzels? Come on. Pretzels are gross...maybe I need to develop a pretzel allergy so we can get some good snacks again.

Once in Vegas I ended up waiting in line for a rental car for over an hour and missed 80% of the meeting that I flew in so early for. Dang! :-) But hey, I showed up just in time for lunch...and Vegas deli catering is not your Hy-Vee catering that's for sure.

Nothing was going on Monday night (at least that I knew of) so I headed over to the Pinball Hall of Fame and spent many hours there (and more money than I spent on gambling!). I'm sure that sounds boring but to a geek like me, it was fun. After PHoF, I get bored and just start walking the strip collecting Hooker Trading Cards (I think I got some rookies and they'll be worth a lot in a couple years). Anyhow, just walking and meeting people and checking out the sites along the strip and all of a sudden I have gone from Mandalay Bay all the way up past the Wynn. It was quite a long ways to walk and it was 1am, so I just changed sides of the street and walk back. Lots of exercise, it felt good. I finally get back to my room in the Luxor and end up going to bed around I had been up over 24 hours at this point.

Tuesday, meet the group for the SEMA show and work from 8-5pm...well stand around and answer questions. After work, I head to the House of Blues to catch Danzig! Opening band was Gorgeous Frankenstein (even though I couldn't understand what they were announced as at the time)...and my first thought was "Wow the bassist sure is a Misfits' copycat...wait a that really...Jerry Only?" It was. He came back on for the Danzig encore and they played 3 or 4 Misfits songs...yay Astro Zombies! It was cool and unexpected. Also opening were the Horror Pops. Very entertaining...loved the dancers in the skeleton dresses. I am not sure why but it was sexy as hell. Danzig himself still puts on a pretty good show even though with a recent shoulder injury and an arm in a sling, he wasn't quite up to the evil intensity that he has been before (also the bald spot didn't help, but I still say he is awesome). Pretty good mix of songs although no Am I Demon (sadness) or Devils Plaything (which I figured was a long long shot). Scared me by not playing She Rides until the encore. After that I hang out in the bar and talk to a few people and try a little gambling (I hate it, it's dumb) and all of a sudden it is like 4am again.

Crappy MM picture taken with my phone
Another day at the show but this one I am helping Jenny our booth girl run our promotion it wasn't too strenuous :-) but the day did take forever because I could not wait for Marilyn Manson that night. Marilyn put on a pretty good show. He mixed a lot of stuff around and completely changed the show and it was a lot more stripped down than his past concerts. Still awesome, just more straight forward rock without all the set changes (although there were still a few...I would have been pissed if he got rid of the pulpit completely, but it made a brief appearance). I was sad not to hear some songs like Dope Hat, Get Your Gun, or Angel with the Scabbed Wings, and many more...but I suppose he can't play all the old ones anymore. Heart-Shaped Glasses (the new single) was pretty darn good live. Oh and ended with This is Halloween from Nightmare Before Christmas which was cool to see live.

After the concert we went to the Playboy Club and I drank...yes I drank two alcoholic beverages. 33 year streak of not drinking down the drain. It has been growing on my mind for a while and I just decided that I might as well do it now when I am happy and feeling good, instead of ending up drinking some day when I am feeling really depressed. OK people...alcohol tastes like shit! Seriously. I guess I didn't really care for it too much, so don't see myself doing it again any time soon. By the way, I had a Captain & Coke and a Cranberry, Vodka, Red Bull (on recommendation)...yep alcohol is just gross, no matter what you put in it, it still tastes like alcohol. But I lived...probably because it took me nearly 4 hours to choke down the two drinks (did I mention that I don't like the taste of alcohol?).  Didn't feel buzzed, didn't feel any different...maybe very very slightly more relaxed but that is even doubtful.  I ended up dancing with Jenny for a while. Okay, she was dancing and I was more flailing around like a spaz....but it was a good time none the less (hopefully she wasn't too embarrassed by my dorkiness). So back to the hotel, pack, and again 4:30am...oh well. Get a couple hours and catch a plane...pretty good Vegas trip (and definitely a great business trip).

Me, Jenny, & Jason - I look completely retarded & I hadn't even drank yet.
We were all doing our stripper show our cleavage moves, 
unfortunately the camera caught me in mid chortle.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Two Minutes Hate

Can I See Some ID?

I really hate having to show my ID when I buy something with a credit card.  Not all the time, like if I am buying something that is over $500.  I think it makes sense for the store to check it out.  That is not when I am usually asked for ID fact the past couple large purchases I had, I know for a fact one did not.  When I am asked for identification it is always when I am buying something small.  Why yes, I did just steal this credit card and thought I would splurge on this $8 container of kitty litter.  Woot!  Or yes, I want to make the most of my stolen credit card - that is why I am only buying items on 75% off clearance with a total of $22.  It is so annoying.  I would rather never have my ID checked than go through that BS, the only reason I am using it in that situation is because I don't have any cash on me at the moment.

I know some of you are probably thinking "They are just trying to protect you."  First, that is a bunch of bullshit.  They may be trying to protect themselves but they are definitely not trying to protect me.  Secondly, I never asked them to protect me.  I don't write "see ID" instead of my signature.  I just want them to take my damn card with as little hassle as possible.  Finally, I don't care if they are trying to protect me.  I've had my credit card info stolen a couple times and although annoying it wasn't too bad getting it all straightened out.  I am just not that worried about it.

End Hate

Friday, April 23, 2010

Clash of my Childhood

Several weeks ago, my good friends CT, Rusty, and I went to see the new Clash of the Titans movie.  I tried to temper my expectations but I still ended up disappointed.  All the movies and TV shows that I grew up with are now old enough to be nostalgia.  They are being remade/sequelled/prequelled at a rapid pace to suck the dollars from the people who have fond memories and from their children.

Has Hollywood run out of stories?  Are there so few new ideas that we must steal from the past?  No, I don't think that is it.  I think it is just the lazy way.  It is easier to remake a past proven success than to take the gamble on something new and innovative.  And it is not always a bad thing - sometimes there is more story to tell, sometimes updates are needed to make the story relevant to today, and sometimes stories are ahead of their time.  Unfortunately, it seems that most the time it is just a way to capitalize on childhood memories and make a buck.

I know that it is impossible to please everyone...but I find it hard to believe that many of these movies/TV shows really please many people.  I'm sure it can be hard for a filmmaker to live up to the expectations that have built in people's minds over the past 20-30 years...but I think it can be done if A) you are respectful of the original material, and B) hire someone who likes and understands the material, and C) actually make a movie that makes sense.

So are they destroying or enhancing my childhood memories?  Let's check out the match ups.

Star Wars
Original Trilogy vs Prequel Trilogy

Winner - Original Trilogy

Obviously the original trilogy...I don't know anyone who would prefer the prequels.  Usually when the original creator and writer is involved you can expect good things.  Honestly, I don't think that George Lucas really understands what made Star Wars great in the first place.  I think he might have understood 30 years ago...but he has forgotten, became confused and thinks it is about special effects (AKA - the Michael Bay school of film making).  Not only did he make terrible new movies but he came damn near to ruining the whole franchise.  Please click here for the greatest movie review of Attack of the Clones ever made (with serial killer jokes and pizza rolls!)...warning it is in nine parts and nearly 90 minutes long but so worth the investment, much better than watching 90 minutes of the movie.  The Phantom Menace review is pretty good too.

Lord of the Rings
1970s movies vs Peter Jackson movies

Winner - Peter Jackson movies

The new LOTR trilogy is awesome.  Perfect?  No.  Definitively way better than I was expecting or hoping for.  Some things are changed, some things are omitted...but the tone, the feeling, the look was much like I had been imagining since fifth grade.  Lots of little details that could have been left out of the story but thanks to their inclusion really made these movies feel like the epic they should be.  Is it fair to compare multi-million dollar pictures to animated cartoon musicals?  No, probably not.  I must admit that I did miss the "Where There's a Whip, There's a Way" song.

Star Trek
1979 vs 2009

Winner - Star Trek 2009

I was never a huge fan of the Star Trek original series on TV.  Yes, I watched it...but I was much more of The Next Generation fan.  However, the movies were a different story...somehow the original cast movies usually ended up better than the TNG movies.  Movie one was slow but had an interesting story - very classic sci-fi, number two was really good, three was OK, four was funny, etc...  Nothing totally outstanding that I can watch over and over and most of them tend to drag a little from time to time...but decent sci-fi stories.  The new movie?  Really good.  Fast paced, pretty faithful to the original series, good action, and battle scenes.  I can see how the super hardcore fans might not like it but I thought it was a pretty good update to the series.  I was disappointed in the depiction of Kirk winning the Kobayashi Maru Scenario.  We all knew that Kirk had cheated from earlier movies.  I had always figured it was a subtle cheat which made it look like he won legitimately, very sly...I imagined it took lots of investigation by the instructors to figure out how he won this "No-Win" situation.  Instead it was an over the top computer hack that was obvious to everyone.  Nice green girl though.

Clash of the Titans
1981 vs 2010

Winner - 1981

This movie meant a lot to me as an 7 year old kid.  I saw it many, many times.  It helped fuel my Greek mythology phase in middle school.  Sure it seems a little campy now and the stop motion animation seems clunky but it was still an incredible experience.  I had high hopes for the remake.  I think my 7 year old self would still have loved the remake but not being 7 anymore, I hated it.  The special effects were really good...but everything else was bad.  Uninspired acting, huge plot holes, poorly edited action.  Did Perseus get eaten by scorpion?  I had hoped that if were taking the time to remake the movies they might actually read the script through more than once.  They didn't.

GI Joe
80's TV vs The Rise of Cobra 2009

Winner - 80's Cartoons

Animated vs Live Action.  I loved the cartoon and the action figures as a child.  My brothers and I had a huge GI Joe toy collection.  After the seeing the trailer for the live action movie, I was not expecting much.  Then I saw the new animated movie written by Warren Ellis, GI Joe Resolute; and my hopes were renewed.  Unfortunately, the live action movie didn't stand up to either cartoon.  All was lost once GI Joe was no longer a "Real American Hero" but instead a multi-national security force.  Bleh.

Indiana Jones
Original Trilogy vs Crystal Skull

Winner - Original Trilogy

Really George?  Again?  It isn't even about the fact that it is about aliens.  It is the fact that it is completely inconsistent.  I tried counting how many times the magnetic powers of the skull were irrational but it was a losing battle.  It can pull gun powder through the air from hundreds of feet but people can stand next to it with guns?  Magnetism is blocked by a wooden case?  Within 10 minutes I was just kind of pissed...but this kept going on throughout the entire movie.  And Shia LeBeouf?  He is such a douche...and terrible in this role.  And somehow he is friends with monkeys and can swing fast enough through the trees to catch up with a speeding car?  Nothing made sense in this movie...and the explanation always seemed to be "extraterrestrials."  I hated it so much.

1986 vs 2007/2009

Winner - 1986 Animated

Animated vs Live Action (kind of because it was mostly CGI) again.  I didn't think the first live action film was wasn't great but I could see how many people would like it.   The second live action movie was just terrible.  I've only watched it once because I really think that a repeat viewing would kill my brain.  Never have I seen so many explosions come off as so boring and I still have no idea what was going on with the plot.  They were not well done and really nothing of consequence really happened in either.  The 1986 animated movie was a completely different story.  Major characters were killed, the whole transformer universe was changed.  It was the most surprising movie for me since The Empire Strikes Back.  It had a really dark undertone...and it was GREAT!  The funny thing was that although I watched the TV show, I was never a huge fan until I saw this movie.

Battlestar Galatica
1978 vs 2003

Winner - 2003 Series

I am not sure why but, I was never a huge fan of the original series.  I liked the Cylons and the robo-dog but it just didn't hold much interest for me.  On the other hand, the new series was amazing.  Gripping, fast paced, great action, even better acting and characters, awesome plot twists, and lots of grit.  This series literally had it all.  It is what Star Wars should have been.  Even if you aren't a big sci-fi fan, the story and the characters could pull you in. I don't think I have been this intrigued by a TV show since the first couple seasons of 24.  Simply put - everything was done right.  The attention to details and all the small intricacies really show how much the creators thought about, understood, and respected the ideas.  I didn't think anything would ever make me look forward to seeing Edward James "Pocky" Olmos on a regular basis but there I was eagerly anticipating the next disc from Netflix (yes, thanks to a misunderstanding with the episode numbering I thought I missed a few episodes and never watched it live on TV).  Colonel Tigh - you are one of the best acted and most interesting characters on TV in a long time, I love you.

Many Others

There are more...lots - Bad News Bears (Winner - Original), Dukes of Hazzard (Winner - new movie), Dr Who (Winner - new Dr), etc...

Things to look forward to or dread

Tron - When first rumored years ago, I was thinking, "You shouldn't have come back Flynn."The original Tron was awesome, I still love it.  The Tron 2.0 video game was pretty great too...I had my doubts about the new movie before I played this game.  It proved that the Tron world could transfer very well to the current technological state of affairs.  Plus - The Dude, need I say more?  I am excited.

A Nightmare on Elm Street - Freddy looks like he is back to his original scary form.  No more lame jokes.  Scary = awesome.  Jackie Earle Haley did such a good job in Watchmen that I think this will be great.

A-Team - From the trailer it looks like they have a good mix of camp and updated action/story line.  Hopeful but trying not to have too high expectations.

Footloose - Didn't really need to be made in the first place but had a decent soundtrack...can't imagine the remake will be good.  How about someone do a movie about the freaking banned ice cream trucks in Des Moines?

The Karate Kid - Sure the original looks pretty "80s" now, but man the characters are so iconic.  I can't see Jackie Chan in the Mr Miyagi role.  I think I am going to pass.

Rock N Roll High School & Porkys - Rumor is that Howard Stern wants to remake both of these...I can't see how either would not be a disaster.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Haiku Triptych

Was Sick In Fifth Grade
Missed On Haiku Lessons
Empty Hole In Life

Never Wrote Haiku
So Thought I’d Give It A Shot
This One Kinda Sucks

Haiku Not For Me
Never Want To Be Poet
Sucking All I Am

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Two Minutes Hate

Quoting Milton...

(since it is April)

I don't mind Milton and Paradise Lost but I don't love it either.  I know it is supposed to be one of the greatest pieces of literature ever, but I personally didn't find it that great.  Yes, it had some amazing parts, some awesome visuals, and some interesting ideas...but it also had many parts that were completely boring and lasted way too long for my taste.  This post isn't about that work itself.

This Two Minute Hate is about the people who quote Milton.   Specifically, the people who quote the line Satan's line of "Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven."  Anyone who quotes this line referring to themselves is almost certainly acting like a total asshole and is not going to listen to anyone.  Fine.  I just want to make a couple points.

Neither Satan nor Milton were talking to you.  Satan was giving a speech to his rebel angel followers, who were tossed into a lake of fire.  You are far from a rebel angel, you are just an idiot who once heard this quote and since you thought it sounded cool, you use it to justify your shitty behavior.  You are a loser.  You really aren't even evil, just a jerk (or maybe a Jerk Too).

I am no religious expert - but I have read the Bible, the Qur'an, the Bhagavad Gita, as well as Milton (Oh, have you actually read the Milton poem that you are quoting?).  I've also taken more than a handful or religion and philosophy classes.  Admittedly, I went through a phase.  My point is, that I am no expert but I am pretty sure that is not the way if works.  Just because you are some jerkoff doesn't mean you get to reign in hell.  In fact, instead of reigning, you are going to be Satan's little bitch.  I think the Satan and your role was best summed up by Satan's part in this Tenacious D song.  Enjoy gargling mayonnaise.

Now stop being a Dick.

End Hate.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Being April

Since it is April and National Poetry Month, I thought I would share for you my favorite poem.  I am not a poet and not one of those people that can sit and read poetry.  I don't mind stories being in verse (once you are in the rhythm, The Iliad in verse form is simply amazing), but poems always left me unfullfilled.

This is an untitled poem by Stephen Crane, whom you may know from The Red Badge of Courage.  This poem predates that slightly in his book The Black Riders and Other Lines.  Of all the books that I own, I own very few poetry volumes.  I tend to prefer my poetry in song form.  Black Riders is one volume that I would like to own a nice edition for my bookshelf.  This poem doesn't rhyme, it doesn't have much mechanics or traditional poetic forms...but it is incredible.

I was first exposed to this poem in Ms Andrews' ninth grade English class.  I was instantly drawn to it because it was darker than anything else we had studied and I was in that  anger and angst-filled era of being a teenager (I'm still so filled but now it is adult anger and angst).  This poem is very bittersweet to me.  It is sweet because I do like it so much...although I do fear a little what that says about me and my heart.  It is bitter because this was one of the days that our class made Ms Andrews cry.  We did that a lot.  Maybe not me personally, but I was there and sat quietly while it happened.  I always hated it, but wasn't a strong enough individual to stand up against it.  So this poem serves me as a reminder of my weakness and my willingness to not stop something that was wrong because others would think that I wasn't cool.  Sorry Ms Andrews, you did not deserve what we did to you.  I enjoyed your class, thank you for introducing me to this poem.

In the desert
I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
Who, squatting upon the ground,
Held his heart in his hands,
And ate of it.
I said, "Is it good, friend?"
"It is bitter--bitter," he answered;
"But I like it
Because it is bitter, 
And because it is my heart."

-Stephen Crane


This is a portrait of me that my good friend CT painted for me on his Palm Pre with Paintrlite.

Current Me - messed up hair, bushy eyebrows, blue eyes, crooked grimace - check!
Four Year Ago Me - To celebrate my promotion to a supervisory position,
I decided to get a blue Mohawk for my first day of the new job...
and test my limits.  I don't remember looking this evil but it is possible.

I am not sure what these portraits say about me...but I still think they are pretty awesome.  Thanks CT.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Original Count

I tracked down the original Moxa Kill Count Chart.  This was probably around 2003?  This chart was started mid-summer, well after the killing began.

Gus-Gus = really fat mice
Stewart Little = normal mice
Other = rabbits, birds, squirrels, etc...

As you can see, I quickly ran out of room on Stuart Littles.  I probably would have on the Gus-Gus too but I think Moxa killed most of those before I started keeping track. The following year, I went to a new method of recording where the mouse outlines were much smaller...and then the bigger outline was equal to 5 mice.  Unfortunately, that chart is lost to time.  After a couple years the mouse population throughout the entire neighborhood was completely exterminated for several years.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

There was a Sequel? (part 3)

There was a Sequel? (part 3)

Remember that movie that you saw that one was well written, it had famous stars, and was just a good stand alone movie. It was the talk of the office for a couple weeks. Yeah that's the one. Thinking about it even now almost makes you want to go rent the DVD.

Did you see the sequel?

Yes, they made a sequel. That movie was too popular and made too much money for there not to be a sequel. For some reason, I have always enjoyed watching these horrible attempts at re-creating a pop culture phenomenon. I'm not talking about the high profile sequels like Star Wars, Rocky, Friday the 13th, etc... I'm not talking about movies that have the support of the original creators, writers, directors, and stars. I'm talking about low budget, no name actor, writer refuses to have anything to do with movies.

I'm talking about:

The Jerk Too

The original is CLASSIC.  There is nothing that I don't love about it.  Steve Martin is the perfect dimwitted fool.  Much like Caddyshack, The Jerk contains quotes that I find applicable all the time.
"The new phone book's here! The new phone book's here!"
"Boy, I wish I could get that excited about nothing."
"Nothing? Are you kidding? Page 73 - Johnson, Navin R.! I'm somebody now! Millions of people look at this book everyday! This is the kind of spontaneous publicity - your name in print - that makes people. I'm in print! Things are going to start happening to me now."
"He hates these cans. Stay away from the cans."

"It was never easy for me. I was born a poor black child."

"You mean I'm gonna STAY this color?"
"Damn these glasses son."

"Yes, sir. I damn thee."
"I'm picking out a Thermos for you. Not an ordinary Thermos for you. But the extra best Thermos that you can buy, with vinyl and stripes and a cup built right in."
The quotes (and more) are so golden that you can practically use them every day.  Of a long list of fantastic 70s and 80s movies that starred Steve Martin, The Jerk is probably my favorite....and that is saying a lot with Planes, Trains, & Automobiles; Three Amigos; Little Shop of Horrors; The Man With Two Brains, and others being in the mix.

The Jerk Too was made in 1984 as made for television movie that I am pretty sure they were trying to use to set up a weekly sitcom.  I tried watching it...twice.  Honestly, I never made it much past the opening credits.  The opening credits were THAT cheesy.  Once again, like Phenomenon II, they decided to retell the same story (or at least have the same character) as the original.  I think when the original is SO well done that this is just not a good idea for a sequel...but I guess starting over with a new character wouldn't maximize profits.  Mark Blankfield, the new Navin, didn't come off as a dim witted but lovable loser...he came off as completely retarded.  It went beyond stupid, beyond idiotic...if he was supposed to be mentally challenged it was a complete slap to the face of anyone who deals with that condition.  It was completely repugnant.

You've seen Mark Blankfield before...I know I have, he had bit parts in many, many TV shows and movies.  he might even have been decent in some, but there is no way that he is talented enough to fill Steve Martin's shoes.
Here is a clip that is on Youtube.  This clip is actually decent compared to the first couple minutes that I remember seeing.
Once again, the movie is so terrible that it is not even available on DVD in the United States...unlucky viewers in the UK and Europe can find it and use it to build up courage to kill themselves.  I give it a 1 out of 10 stars...and that is only because I didn't actually watch the whole thing.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Kill Count

I have a cat.  Her name is Moxa...she is around 15 years old and her front paws are declawed (not my doing).  By that write up, she sounds like a cat that would do nothing but sleep in the sun all day...not Moxa.  Moxa is a KILLER.  She lives for the hunt.  She might not decimate the local rodent population like she did 5-10 years ago, but she is still holding her own.  In her honor, I am introducing a kill count graphic on the side bar.  This is only confirmed kills...kills that I witness firsthand, or kills that she gifts to me (nothing says love like a dead mouse at the foot of your bed in the morning).  Moxa started off the year I wasn't keeping track.  She has picked up speed lately.  By the outlines on the count graphic shown below (but normally in the sidebar) you can see that she has killed two mice and one rabbit...not too bad for less than a week.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Two Minutes Hate

"Hey Johnny Cash"

I tend to wear all black a lot.  Not because I am a tortured soul or need to show how goth I am.  No, I wear black mostly due to laziness.  Black pants and a black shirt are the easiest match in a wardrobe and any wrinkles happen to be less noticeable.  Plus most of my favorite shoes are black.  I think it is a pretty pleasing aesthetic - clean and sharp.  Admittedly, if I add my Danzig or spiked belt, I do feel metal...but that is just a bonus, the main reason is laziness.

I often end up wearing black 2 to 3 times a week.  Every time I will have someone (usually the same couple people) say something like "Hey Johnny Cash."  Ha ha...that is SO funny, especially after 2-3 times a week for the past ten years.  It never gets old!  And Johnny Cash is the only person in the world to have ever worn all obviously I am taking after him whenever I do.  Or maybe mimes.  Don't get me wrong, I love Johnny Cash and would take that as a high compliment if they weren't just talking about my clothes.  I always wonder if they even know anything about JC besides that he wore black.  I doubt it.

It is just such a dumb thing to say EVERY time.  I mean I don't say "Hey Magnum P.I." every time you wear a stupid, ugly Hawaiian shirt (way too often).  Just remember, every time you call me Johnny Cash, I feel like Johnny Cash.

End Hate

Monday, April 12, 2010

Brothers' Trip 2010

This weekend was my The Semi-Annual Brothers' Hockey Trip 2010. This is when my brothers and I take a trip to Minneapolis or Chicago to take in an NHL hockey game and experience some general debauchery. This year was the Minnesota Wild vs the Dallas Stars. Here is a quick overview and some useless stats of this year.

The Stars have a special place in our hearts after having the Iowa Stars AHL team in Des Moines for three years. We got to see a lot of old I-Stars players and got to see Mike Modano's (probably) last NHL game. A fun trip had by all (I think).  Participants - Me, Kelly, Holly, Ryan, Hedda, Sean.

Useless Stats:
  • Mistaken Hotels - 2
  • Bands - 3
  • Good Bands - 1.5
  • High-Fives given to random strangers - hundreds
  • Strangers happy to give high-fives - 3
  • Restaurants that were featured on Food Network - 1
  • Restaurants that were disappointing - 2
  • Steaks that were not as ordered - 2
  • Times the GPS unit had to "Recalculate" - approx 30
  • Zombieland watched - 1.5
  • Cadbury Eggs purchased - 48
  • Free games at pinball - 3
  • Hockey Goals - 7
  • Beers drank - many
  • Mike Modano crying - 2
  • Mini-Corn Dogs eaten -12
  • Crackheads given hugs - 0
  • Vomit - almost 1
  • Bowling Balls the lane next to us had - 14
  • Total Hours Slept Fri & Sat Nights - 4ish
  • Crazy Ladies trying to dig cigarette butts out of the buttcan - 1
The trip started with the drive up to Minneapolis and then meeting to eat at the Green Mill restaurant.  I'd never heard of it but Kelly & Holly had eaten there before and thought it was really it was close to the hotel.  It was had potential but it didn't execute well.  Out of ribeye steaks on a Friday night at 7pm.  The New York strip offered in it's place overcooked.  Disappointing nachos.  Slow service.  It all added up to be a disappointing meal.

We decided to go bowling after and that turned out to be a pretty decent time.  Memory Lanes had a stage set up on the middle lanes for live music.  The first band was female drummer and male guitarist/singer.  All I could think of was how awesome the White Stripes were at this combo.  This band was not the White Stripes.  They were punk/thrash stuff, which although I loved when I was young...I don't have much of a stomach for anymore.  I can't call them bad because I had cassettes and cassettes of this stuff when I was in junior and senior high.  It is just not very appealing to me anymore.  Maybe I am not as angry, maybe my tastes have just matured.  I did enjoy their cover of Iron Maiden's Hallowed Be Thy Name...but that was probably more due to the fact that I like the song than their performance.  The next two bands were decent, some rock with a little bit of horns.  Nothing amazing, but good background for bowling.  I bowled both horrible and decent.  Afterwards, we played a little pinball in the games rooms while Hedda decided to start giving everyone around her high-fives...much to their annoyance.

Saturday started with watching Zombieland...which is a great way to begin any day in my book.  Then we headed to the stupid mall (mall's tagline should be - just like your mall but stupider and full of idiots).  We had meant to play a round of mini-golf but it was packed and had a long line by the time we got there.  We then headed to Psycho Suzi's for dinner.  We had been interested in Psycho Suzi's since it was on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives on Food Network.  It was decent but I had hoped for a little more.  I enjoyed the red rockets (mini-corn dogs) but was highly disappointed in the onion rings.  I loved the names for all the foods - red rockets, brown sugar babies, chicken gremlins, etc... but the food ended up a little drab and very greasy.  Usually, I am a big fan of grease, but this was a little too much for me.  But then I have to remember that I saw the place featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives so really how much could I actually expect?

Pre-Game Warm Up...Our Seats were better than this looks. 
Stupid phone camera.
Saturday Night we went to the hockey game.  Good game...Dallas was down early but battled back to tie it a couple times, sending the game into overtime and finally a shootout.  Dallas won.  It was the final game of the regular season and probably the final game in the career of Mike Modano.  Modano started his NHL career as a Minnesota North Star and played in Minneapolis for 5 years until the team was moved to Dallas.  It was good to see that the Minnesota fans still like and respect Modano.  He received a video tribute, and several standing ovations by which you could tell he was very touched emotionally.  It was a great night and a good finish to his career.  Good luck Mike!

Sunday was just the drive home...which was harder than it should have been since everyone was tired due to lack of sleep and the wind started blowing against up the entire trip...but we all made it home to take naps.  I did give in and buy a box of 48 Cadbury Eggs for my enjoyment. Maybe pictures of me and the bros later...I didn't have a camera, so I don't have copies at the moment.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

On A Roll

Last weekend was the season opening bout for the Mid Iowa Rollers.  I was excited.  The exhibition match in March was OK, but it had a few drawbacks.  First, the teams were comprised of girls from all over the Midwest...basically whoever could make it.  That was interesting in itself, but meant that there was little teamwork as they hadn't skated together before.  The second drawback was that it was at Skate South.  Skate South is a decent place by itself, but you can't get that elevation to kind of look down on the skaters and appreciate the skating.  It is kind of neat being on the same level, it is a whole different experience but I also think there is something missing.  Also Skate South's parking lot is barely held the cars of the team members let alone the fans.  I ended up parking about half a mile away.

All Mid Iowa Roller home bouts this year will be at Hy-Vee Hall or Vets Auditorium.  That is quite a step up from half at Skate South, half at Buc Arena (I do like Buc Arena though).  I was a little worried because Hy-Vee Hall is a big place and some of the bouts last year it felt like family and friends of the skaters and me.  Not a huge crowd.  It did pick up as the season went on.  I was just worried since it was the first bout of the year.  I was worried that I would be one of 20 fans in this huge empty space.  I did not want to look like that creepy middle age guy who shows up to ogle the young women.  I am that guy...I just didn't want to be too obvious about it.  There was no need to worry, I wouldn't say it was packed but there were a lot of people there this weekend.  Track Side  and Tier Seating comprised about 1200 seats...I would estimate that it was about 2/3 full.  Well done ladies!  It was good crowd too.  Lots of first timers that were catching on to the action pretty quickly.  Great cheering when we got the lead jammer and big hits.  It was a lot of fun. 

Lots of changes and improvements this year. 

New 2010 uniforms - very nice (picture borrowed from MIR website)
First, the new uniforms are perfect.  Powder blue with black and white trim - very sexy and feminine and a great contrast to the physicality.  They also make you look SO much more like a professional team.  The t-shirts at the beginning of season last year and the dark uniforms later in the season were good, but these uniforms are awesome.  Nice choice!  It really outclassed the other team with their tees with sharpie drawn numbers.

For comparison - Last years uniforms (pictures borrowed from MIR website)

The bout has been transformed this year.  Previously, the bouts were similar to hockey with three 20 minute periods, with a 20 minute break between each.  This year the MIR is going with two 30 minute halves with a 20 minute halftime.  I am not sure if this is more in line with other leagues or the reason for the change.  I don't know how I feel about this change...I guess it was nice to see the same amount of action but still leave about half an hour earlier.  I am sure that is nice for people with children.

Now that MIR isn't in a hockey type facility, they have improved the scoreboard...showing bout time, jam timer, and penalties.  Unfortunately, it didn't seem like the runners of the scoreboard were very good at using it...but once they do get the Jam timer and penalty timers figured out it should be a very nice addition.

Lots of smaller changes too.  There was also a band playing before and during halftime.  A color guard for the presentation of the flag and national, just a lot of little things that made the whole thing seem like more of a professional game.  It was nice.

There could still be some improvements - intros could be shorter, printed programs ran out very early, I never want to see a marriage proposal at a sporting event or concert again unless a player or band member is involved, angle of the seat could be greater (I like the 3/4 overhead view), and a few other minor things...but overall it was a great show.

This opening bout was against The Muddy River Nightmares from Clinton, IA.  I have seen the Mudders last year and several of the skaters participated in the March Mixer...they have some talent.  And also number 666 (sorry forgot your name) had one of the best mohawks I have seen in years.  That alone was worth the price of admission...and I am sad that my photo didn't turn out.  Mid Iowa Rollers has the main core of their team from last year.  Anna KillaKova (formerly Anna Killa Amazon), cTal faTAL, Fanny Firestarter, and Sin DeRolla are just a few of the returning roller girls. This should be a very good year for the Mid Iowa Rollers.  MIR started off a little slow on the first couple jams but once they got the lead they ran with it.  Everyone on Mid Iowa was skating hard and fast.  Big hits were made at opportune times, penalties were avoided.  The Mudders didn't have such luck with some penalties costing them pretty severely (if your jammer is in the box when cTal faTAL is jamming for MIR, you are pretty much done).  Great skate work by everyone involved - plus an awesome Apollo Ohno-esque jump by cTal faTAL over fallen opponents.  This is a game you need to check out.  Mid Iowa ended up winning the bout 151-89...but it was an exciting bout all the way through.  A special shout out to Day Trip Her was her first bout and she skated well even though she looked freaking exhausted by the end of a couple long jams.  Well played, keep it up.

Your next chance to check out the Mid Iowa Rollers in a home match is on May 15th at Hy-Vee Hall in the Bad Girls' Ball.

You can also check out a feature on them on Metro Woman this weekend (Sun Apr 11th @ 9:30am on ABC5, and Mediacom Channel 22 @ 10am Apr 11th and Tues 13th @ 3pm)

If you can't wait that long, you can check out the Des Moines Derby Dames this weekend at the Val Air Ballroom.  Des Moines has two roller derby teams, who knew?  I've known for a while, I just haven't had a chance to check out a DMDD yet...and will miss this weekend's bout too.  Sadness.

I am not sure what the difference is between leagues and teams but I am very happy that we have two options for roller derby.  I plan to check out as many bouts as I am able from both teams.