A Slice of Fried Gold

Gran Torino

Monday, December 29, 2008

Recently I was talking with a coworker about movies, specifically Clint Eastwood's new film Gran Torino, when he broke off into a seemingly unrelated story.

He went on to tell me about his two high school classmates who somehow made it into the porn industry, starting careers as producers. One turned out normal still, but of course one predictably went down the path of the stereotypical drug addicted crazy person who may or may not have put a hit out on his wife. So like most people involved with porn.

Anyways, they told him about how apparently whenever a new one of their movies came out, they would always send a special package to Carmel, Califorina to Clint Eastwood. You know...filled with porn. Apparently old Clint loves porn, and they were the right guys to hook him up with that.

I thought that story was hilarious, and also awesome because it sort of humanizes Clint even more. I already think the guy is fantastic, but the fact he just seems like a normal guy, or at this point, a normal old man, makes him far more endearing than comparable actors.

That's why Gran Torino works so well to a degree. Clint's performance in this movie is a great one, really giving it his all as a man with a lot of hate in him, for the way things are, for the way things were going away, for the deteriorating neighborhood around him, for other cultures, for gangs, for his family, for everything. The realistic portrayal of a man trying to make life better for those around him is really a great one, and part of a great overall movie.

While some of the supporting performances range from mediocre to terrible (you couldn't cast the role of the young pastor better?), it doesn't really matter. This movie is Clint doing Clint, and as well as he can at that. Spouting racial epithets, beating up gang members, helping a young Hmong kid. It's all awesome, and if you enjoy Clint, you'll enjoy this movie. Surprisingly fantastic.

Just like his porn collection.

Gran Torino: A-

Irony at the grocery store

Do you think the hefty woman in the checkout line in front of me appreciated the irony in the fact that she was purchasing a "Biggest Loser" edition diet book at the same time as she was purchasing three candy bars, two Jimmy Dean sausage rolls, varieties of cheeses, and a two liter bottle of soda?

I did not see that coming

A friend of mine that I've known for a long time talked to me on Facebook chat just a little bit ago and informed me that she had a compliment to give me. I was a little confused, but I said okay. Most of the time that type of thing happens, I don't receive prefaces. Regardless, it happened. Then she said:

K, I saw that you were online and I looked at your page b/c I hadn't before and I noticed something - you are quite good looking. I just thought you should know.

That's the first time I've ever heard that before (besides a hammered cougar in a bar who told me I was "f**king sexy" but that hardly counts), so it felt really nice. I just thought that was the most random thing ever.

The Weekend Edition (Christmas break!)

Sunday, December 28, 2008

This week I had Thursday and Friday off, so I'm going to include all events from Wednesday on in this Weekend Edition for some sort of fancy mega sized Weekend Edition. How can that not be great?

  • Charbonneau's yearly Christmas party (best night ever!)
  • Dinner, presents, and tons of family and friends on Christmas
  • Watching a ton of movies and loving it
  • Saturday night with Amy, Hannah, Jason, Rebekah, and more, featuring tons of ridiculousness and a fantastic 80's night at the Avenue
  • Final day of the NFL season at the Peanut Farm with Colver, Amy, Hannah, Jason, and Rebekah

Group shot at the Charbonneau's

Three days later, I continue writing of course.

The highlight of the weekend was assuredly the Charbonneau's Christmas party, known across the land as the single greatest party known to man. I jokingly say that my year ends with that party, with the rest of the year spent as a countdown until the next one. Of course, I'm not really joking. That's kind of how I look at it.

This year was no different, as it was full of great beer, delicious pizza, and tons of awesome people. I had a blast, but sadly, it sounds as if it may be the last one. Of course, that's with the Charbonneau's not being aware of the statewide petition I'm starting to bring it back for one more year.

One more year! One more year!

Merry Christmas everyone.

No Christmas present for me

Thanks for nothing guys

For my team, the New England Patriots, to make the playoffs they needed a couple things to happen. They needed to win their game (they did 13 to 0) and they needed either Baltimore to lose to the Jaguars (not going to happen) or the Dolphins to lose to the Jets. That was a possibility.

While watching the game, it seemed perfectly possible, as the defense of the Jets held the Dolphins to 24 points and overall they were moving the ball well enough. I was starting to actually think the Pats may make it.

Of course, I forgot that Brett Favre was the Jets QB, and it all went downhill from there. The Pats season went up in smoke as "Evil Brett" came out to play, throwing three interceptions (including two absolutely stupid ones - one for a backbreaking touchdown return by the Dolphins) and making all kinds of other stupid decisions (not to Brett: bounce passes are legal in basketball, not football).

In a season that was at best troubled for Brett, he ended the season with a one game representation of his entire season. Sure he occasionally made good plays, but he killed his team with the stupid ones that surrounded them. Just goes to show you that Brett really is the ultimate feast or famine player, as today he not only killed the Jets season but the Patriots one as well.

Let's hope he retires, as the path of destruction he left behind may be the legacy he deserves. Congrats to Chad Pennington on getting the ultimate revenge, and here's pulling for the Dolphins, Falcons, and Cardinals in the playoffs (although to be fair, none of them really have a chance).

Favorite Albums of 2008 - Part 2

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Oh music. How you fluctuate. While these currently stand as my favorite, as Erik pointed out on the last post, odds are it will fluctuate a lot between now and whenever I think about my favorite albums from this year again. Based off listening to new albums and listening to other albums a few more times, half of this entire list could turn over over the next few months. Just to forewarn you.

Now, for the moment you've all been waiting for...my top 20 albums of 2008 (See here for albums 21 through 30)!

1. Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground - Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground
2. Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend
3. Cut Copy - In Ghost Colours
4. Anathallo - Canopy Glow
5. Girl Talk - Feed the Animals
6. Jenny Lewis - Acid Tongue
7. Tokyo Police Club - Elephant Shell
8. Frightened Rabbit - the Midnight Organ Fight
9. Death Cab for Cutie - Narrow Stairs
10. Portishead - Third
11. Sigur Ros - Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust
12. Albert Hammond Jr. - Como te Llama?
13. Kanye West - 808's and Heartbreaks
14. Jamie Lidell - Jim
15. The Week That Was - The Week That Was
16. She & Him - Volume One
17. Dr. Dog - Fate
18. Hot Chip - Made in the Dark
19. The Walkmen - You & Me
20. Santogold - Santogold

Favorite Christmas Present

So my favorite Christmas present this year (amongst a number of excellent contenders) is without a doubt the print of a piece by James Jean my mom got for me. James Jean is the artist of the covers of one of my favorite comic series (Fables) and he's a brilliant artist. It's called "Maze", and I absolutely love it. It even has an awesome etched in emblem on it, and has an autograph. I treasure it, and seriously cannot wait for it to be done being framed so I can look at it every day on my wall.

The movie onslaught continues

I continue my barrage upon the movies of 2008, tearing through them at an alarming rate. As I had went from watching a movie a day to basically one movie ever couple weeks over the past few years, it's a big change to watch as many as I have lately. Between the hours of of 11 PM Christmas night and 2 AM last night, I watched five movies. They were Seven Pounds, Slumdog Millionaire (for the third time in six days), Valkyrie, Synecdoche, New York, and Definitely, Maybe.

I'm going to do ten cent reviews of them in order of best to worst, quickly giving you a heads up on them, as it continues my theme of watching way too many movies. However, not going to review Slumdog again and I'm going to skip Definitely, Maybe as it's been out for quite sometime (although I was pleasantly surprised by it, very cute movie).

Valkyrie (Directed by Bryan Singer, written by Christopher McQuarrie, starring Tom Cruise and a slew of great British actors)

I was going to start this review by saying I'm surprised by how good of a movie this was, but that doesn't really seem fair. It's a movie crafted by the directing/writing duo of the Usual Suspects. It stars Tom Cruise (admittedly a nutjob, but a nutjob who perpetually makes movies that at the very least entertain me) and a virtual who's who of elite British thespians, ranging from Shakespeare's favorite modern actor (Kenneth Branagh), to the ultimate worm (Bill Nighy), to everyone's favorite occasionally cross dressing comedian (Eddie Izzard), to one of the coolest people on the planet (Terence Stamp), to perhaps one of the five or ten best actors around (Tom Wilkinson). In short, it's pedigree is pretty incredible.

The pieces are there for it to be great, and the plot is stellar, following a radical group within the Nazi regime of Adolf Hitler who are plotting to overthrow Hitler and his associates. Do the pieces equal the sum of their parts?

For the most part yes, as throughout the two hours, I was glued to screen, knowing that they wouldn't be successful (I'm fairly certain it would have been a big deal if the midst of World War II, the German people overthrew Hitler - you may have heard of that) but enjoying it no less. It's a very well made film, full of tension and great performances.

One distracting thing is the fact that while the actors may not need to speak German, I expected at least German accents. We didn't even get that, as all of the British actors sounded like themselves and Tom Cruise sounded like...Tom Cruise. It was like Ethan Hunt with an eye patch and limbs that were disfigured was trying to overthrow Hitler. Jarring, but surprisingly very good.

Valkyrie: B

Synecdoche, New York (Written and directed by Charlie Kaufman, starring Philip Seymour Hoffman and a bevy of beautiful actresses)

Just as unsurprising as Valkyrie being quality was, this movie being an absolute (excuse my french friends and family members, because this term works too well here) mindfuck was pretty predictable. Kaufman without the balance Spike Jonze or Michel Gondry normally provides was going to be pretty out there assuredly, and this was somewhat surprising in the degree of craziness this reached.

Example: at one point, there was a scene where Philip Seymour Hoffman looked on at Dianne Wiest portraying Hoffman's character who was directing another actor playing Wiest's representation of Hoffman at the funeral of the actor who originally played Hoffman's character in the play about himself that was the basis of the film, an actor who died when he fell in love with the real version of the character he was supposed to be in love with.

My brain resisted writing that. Greatly. It made no sense to type. It made more sense watching it, but seriously, that movie was insane. While it was extremely well acted (Hoffman with Michelle Williams, Catherine Keener, Dianne Wiest, Samantha Morton, and Emily Watson? Come on now. That's cheating.) and had a brilliant visual style to match typical scripted panache Kaufman brings, but it made too little sense to be considered a great film.

The first half before Hoffman's theater director character received his grant worked way better, as the second half lost all sense of grounding and time (intentionally I'm sure). This will assuredly get better with repeat viewings, but it's so impenetrable that one has to wonder whether or not it's even worth it. It's worth watching, but be afraid. Be very afraid.

Synechdoche, New York: C+

Seven Pounds (Directed by Gabriele Muccino, written by Grant Nieporte, starring Will Smith and Rosario Dawson)

This movie doesn't deserve a full review. It's illogical, manipulative, frustrating, and altogether stupid. I think Will Smith is perhaps the single most charming actor around, and I outright disliked his character. It was drab looking, overstylized, and fraudulently emotional.

The only thing that saves it from an outright F is the fact that they played a really good Muse song that I had never heard before and Rosario Dawson apparently was unaware of the fact she was in a terrible movie and gave a great performance. Good for her, bringing her A game in a movie that didn't quite match her effort.

Seven Pounds: D-

Favorite Albums of 2008 - Part 1

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

I love lists so much. Going through them and ranking everything is an awesome time guaranteed for me, even though it's a lot of work typically. As part of the end of the year, I'm provided many list opportunities which I will be rolling out over the next weekend. I'm going to start with my favorite albums of 2008, but before I unveil my top 20 of 2008, I'm going to share the ones that didn't make it.

So see below for my 21st to 50th favorite albums of the year, and yes, I did actually listen to this much music this year. This isn't even the full list, amazingly enough.

This also further closes the gap between myself and Pitchfork's taste in music, which scares me a lot. While they had plenty of music I didn't have (or have ever heard of for that matter), we had a lot of overlap in favorite albums. Which I hate. Kind of.

21. The Hold Steady – Stay Positive
22. TV on the Radio – Dear Science,
23. M83 – Saturdays = Youth
24. Deerhunter - Microcastle
25. Of Montreal – Skeletal Lamping
26. The Stills – Oceans Will Rise
27. David Byrne and Brian Eno – Everything That Happens Will Happen Today
28. MGMT – Oracular Spectacular
29. Portugal. The Man – Censored Colors
30. Department of Eagles – In Ear Park
31. Nada Surf – Lucky
32. The Slackers – Self Medication
33. The Streets – Everything is Borrowed
34. Islands – Arm’s Way
35. Lykke Li – Youth Novels
36. Flight of the Conchords – Flight of the Conchords
37. Ratatat – LP3
38. Mutyumu – Ilya
39. Los Campesinos! – Hold On Now, Youngster…
40. Styrofoam – A Thousand Words
41. Fleet Foxes – S/T
42. Shearwater – Rook
43. No Age – Nouns
44. Coldplay – Viva La Vida
45. Does It Offend You, Yeah? - You Have No Idea What You're Getting Yourself Into
46. Forgive Durden – Razia’s Shadow
47. Hercules and Love Affair - Hercules and Love Affair
48. Little Joy – Little Joy
49. AC/DC – Black Ice
50. Kings of Leon – Only by the Night

Christmas, Christmas Don't Be Late!

If thinking the Alvin and the Chipmunks song "Christmas Don't Be Late" is the best Christmas song ever is wrong, I don't want to be right.

What I want for Christmas

Monday, December 22, 2008

Lamont Jordan bringing it home

More than anything this year, I want the Patriots to make it to the playoffs. I know that's a little sad, but with the year we've had, I really feel like we deserve it. All I need is the Pats to win on Sunday, and either the Dolphins or the Ravens to lose. Is that so much to ask? Pretty please football gods...that's all I'm asking for.

Well, and I want Tom Brady to be back next year fully recovered. Two things I want for Christmas! Two things. That's it. I swear. Probably.

More movie stuff? Come on now!

God, this movie business has got to go. Lately it's been Oscar this, Oscar that. What is this? I used to talk about things that weren't purely movies. Hell, from time to time, I'd actually talk about things that involve me besides what I happen to be watching at the time.

I can't help it though, I totally get sucked into Oscar season, and with everything ramping up, it's impossible for me to not jump headfirst in, ingesting each movie and pondering my feelings towards it. With that said, I've said a number of times already that it's been a disappointing season, with contenders like Australia and Milk both disappointing me. It was beginning to look like 2008 was not going to be a great year, and that Wall E, the Dark Knight, and In Bruges were not going to have any buddies in the "great movies from 2008" club.

Well that was shot down by Slumdog Millionaire, the new masterwork from Danny Boyle.

Now, tonight we have Frost/Nixon, a film (you could almost describe it as a study/dramatic retelling that is incredibly play like, which is unsurprising given it's origin as a play) that delves into the unlikely interview that took place between British talk show host David Frost and the as of then recently resigned President Richard Nixon. While the structure itself seems as if it would lay credence to the film being technically sharp with a bore at its core (my bad for rhyming), I'm happy to say that I was riveted the whole way through.

There are a number of reasons why, but you have to start with Frank Langella as Nixon and Michael Sheen as Frost. I have to admit, after watching Sheen portray Frost, I immediately want to search out other roles he's done. He's remarkably charming, incredibly smooth, and a damn fine actor. The fact that Langella is getting all of the accolades is a shame.

Except it isn't, because his performance really is a tour de force. He manages to make his Nixon believable, forgiveable, despicable, and pitiable all at once. The man he portrays is like a wounded tiger, casually unfurling in a lurch, prepared to jump all over the clearly overmatched Frost at one point, then pulling back and seeming to be wounded and really just looking for some help. His character is an absolute enigma, sort of like the actual Nixon.

Ron Howard really proves himself as an actors' director in this, getting bravura performances from the primary duo, and supurb performances as well from Kevin Bacon and the holy trinity of Sam Rockwell, Oliver Platt (hysterical as always), and Matthew MacFadyen as Frost's investigative team. His direction is assured, well structured, and reliant upon the gripping script that Peter Morgan culled from his critically ravished play. As it should have been.

While I love Wall E and Slumdog Millionaire far more (as those are movies that led with their hearts more than anything), I know with my head that Frost/Nixon is a lock for an Oscar nomination, and I really feel it has to be the front runner for Best Picture at this point. All signs point to it, and frankly, I don't see anything wrong with it. It's a stunner for sure.

I'm starting to think 2008 wasn't such a bad year for movies after all.

The Weekend Edition

It seems that as we get closer to Christmas, the more and more busy it gets. December is flat out the most busy month of the year, with work taking up the week, Christmas shopping and parties taking up the weekends, and sheer ridiculousness filling up every spare second I have besides that. What happened this weekend?

  • Solstice Advertising's Christmas dinner party at Dish with Amy, Cate, Darren, Eric, and more
  • Sea Galley for Alaskan Iced Teas with the aforementioned crew, Sam, Nick, Sharpe, and more
  • Absurdity galore at Koots (you name it, I probably did it...)
  • Saturday morning...who am I kidding, I felt like death Saturday morning and slept until 1 am
  • Slumdog Millionaire dominating my face
  • Cowboys/Ravens with Jason and Amy (booo Cowboys!)
  • An attempt to see Portugal. the Man with Amy and Hannah
  • An outing to the Homie with the Crewnit ++
  • Peanut Farm for football with Colver (go Patriots!)
  • Finishing up Christmas shopping (thank the lord)
So yeah, it was pretty packed. The highlight was most definitely Friday night, which was an awesome night loaded with way too much good food (I can never say no to sushi), including the best unagi I've ever had, tons of drinks, and great friends. The food and drinks were even on the house as part of the party, so thanks to Solstice for sponsoring my disgusting overeating and the encouragement of my drunken habits. You're the best!

Getting to hang out with Sam again was also great, and meeting his girlfriend Lily was really a treat as well. It's always great to see one of my friends meet someone equally as cool, and I feel that Sam may have met his match for once. Of course, it was encouraging to have them both support me in the my quest to the most ridiculous person at the bars on any given night, and having me select random people to dance with just to see if I can (one of my strange bar habits, and always a hoot as a spectator sport) was definitely a boon for that quest.

There are just so many great things about the Christmas season. Making new friends. Seeing old friends again. Tons of great parties. Delicious food. Intoxicating drink (double meaning of course). Wall to wall activities. It's an absolute blast, and I'll miss it. Of course, I won't be missing the intense lack of sleep I have during the month (as I nearly fell asleep at work no less than 8 times today, not to mention in traffic), but that is a small price to pay for fast times on a Christmas high.

Slumdog Billionaire

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Once again, a preface is necessary. Typically I swerve wildly into the realm of hyperbole way too easily, and this situation may be no different. Also, to each their own, as your opinion will almost assuredly not jive with mine.

I'm going to call it a tie with Wall E (because I have no guts and it's hard to decide), but Slumdog Millionaire, Danny Boyle's new film, is my favorite movie of the year. Not only that, but it quickly has jumped into the category of "one of my favorite movies of all time." It's that good.

Strangely enough, that makes it two straight years of Danny Boyle directing my favorite movie of the year (with Sunshine taking the nod last year). The man is one of the most prolific directors in the industry, and is perpetually excellent. On his rap sheet you have great films like Trainspotting, Millions, 28 Days Later, and the aforementioned Sunshine.

This is better than all of them.

This film takes on the feel of the fantasy like Millions, studying the life of a young man who goes on the Indian version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? simply because he thinks the love of his life will be watching. You find out what makes a person like they are, how they learn, and how they grow to be the adult they're supposed be in this film. It's one of the most human and real movies I've ever seen, with parts that are shocking, hilarious, touching, and flat out incredible coming up nearly every minute.

Very few films actually make me want to get up and cheer during the midst of it, and I nearly did multiple times during it. It's a roller coaster of a movie, and every aspect of it is uniformly excellent. I just can't say enough about it. There is no part of the creation of this movie that was not well prepared and put together. It's the perfect fusion of script, acting, direction, cinematography, editing, and music (loaded with lots of M.I.A., how are you going to go wrong with that?).

I won't go into the plot at all, as it's better to be surpised by it (as this movie I somehow knew very little about, at least in the details, before going to see it). However, know this. It's very akin to Wall E in the fact that it's impossible not to like (or love). I have no doubt that this movie is for everyone, and I hope when the time comes it pulls in the nominations it deserves.

The Curious Case of the Oscar Season

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Today was a wonderful day for the movie watching pirates of the world, as the day we'd all been waiting for arrived.

DVD screener day!

For the film enthusiast in Anchorage, Alaska, it's hard going most of the time. Whatever Oscar contender that comes out, always seems to come out way later here than anywhere else. However, you can get around that, as DVD screeners for Oscar viewing purposes always seem to make their way onto the internet around mid December. Over the last few days, it happened, with Frost/Nixon, Seven Pounds, the Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and many others making it on to torrent sites (and my computer eventually).

Of course, going back to the post I made a few weeks back, it's still a mediocre year one way or another for Oscar contenders, especially with films that I had high hopes for like Australia and Milk turning out to be good, not great.

Strangely enough, this excites me, as it opens up the race for year to date favorite Wall E and my most anticipated yet to be seen movie Slumdog Millionaire to pull in Best Picture nominations. Of course, could an animated nearly silen film and a movie based in Mumbai directed by Danny Boyle possibly pull in nominations? Check this:

Wall E: Best Picture from Los Angeles Film Critics, Chicago Film Critics, Boston Film Critics, Time Magazine, and one half of Entertainment Weekly.

Slumdog Millionaire: Best picture from Boston Film Critics, London Film Critics, D.C. Film Critics, Dallas Film Critics, and Florida Film Critics.

If this were a Presidential election, you could say these two are pulling in the major battleground states. Regardless, with each passing day it becomes more and more likely that both will pull in Best Picture nominations, along with most likely Milk, Frost/Nixon, and the Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

If that happens, I'll be a happy guy. The more movies that are heartwarming and just good for the soul, the better I say. I'm just a sucker for heart I guess. Here's hoping when the nominations are announced on January 22nd, they call out the movie about the little robot and the little slumdog that could.

Also, for a dark horse, if you haven't caught the trailer for the Wrestler, get excited. Mickey Rourke looks unbelievable in this movie. I want it now!

Reliving my childhood

Every once in a while I have a night where I just totally relax and act like a kid. Tonight is one of those nights, as I baked myself a ridiculous batch of cookies, loaded up a Harry Potter plate, sat down, and watched Gremlins 2. As I sat here, devouring cookies after dipping them in the milk, I can't imagine anything that I feel more contented doing that acting like a kid again. Sure other things are more fun or more worthwhile, but what's more fun and worthwhile at the same time than the peace of mind provided by pure and utter relaxation.

Not much in my book.

My Own Worst Enemy Vol. 2

I continue to pretty much decimate myself. Over the past four days, I've gotten knocked over and messed up my hip (with a gnarly bruise to prove it), hyperextended three formerly useful fingers on my right hand, did something to cause my left arm to pop and hurt very bad whenever I extend it all the way (making me even worse at shooting in basketball), and then the very next day I did the same thing to my right arm. So now the range of movement on my arms is very limited. Plus, I woke up this morning feeling sick.

Merry Christmas David, enjoy the broken and battered body you received as a present.

Just what I always wanted.

What the beep?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I just wrote a 537 word Facebook message. I'm fairly certain I've read books shorter than that. Not long books, and books that are often prefaced by words such as "comic" or "picture" or are written by people like "Dr. Seuss" but still, that's a crazy long Facebook message. I'm pretty sure I'd be a legit contender for longest Facebook message of the year, or at least in the "small novel" class of message.

I guess I roam squarely in the class of people who believe if you have something to say, make it long as hell and ramble as much as humanly possible.

Mission accomplished.

Update: In response to said Facebook message, I received "Holy crap, man! You must go through diaries like toilet paper!"


Times...well, they're a'changin'

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

For quite some time, I've pretty much hated Pitchfork Media. They love their snide reviews, digs at albums that may or may not deserve it, and seemingly, they live to be the ultimate musical elitists. In short, they stand for everything that's wrong with music, the polar opposite of equally wrong vapid pop stars and emo stars with swooping haircuts paired with too tight jeans.

Yet with every year I become a little more accepting of them as my tastes change. While I may disagree with their hatred of Anathallo and love of Black Kids, we do have a lot of incidental overlap. Today they released their "Top 100 Tracks of 2008" and it was a list which I looked at, scoffed, shook my head, and said "not bad Pitchfork. Not bad at all."

Why's that?

Unbelievably enough, the banes of my musical existence had two songs in their top 10 that are favorites of my own this year, not to mention three others which I really, really enjoy. Their list is loaded with tracks I quite like (or even adore in some situations).

It's just so weird, seeing their list and finding my favorite track this year (M83's "Kim and Jessie") and one of probably my top five favorites (Cut Copy's "Hearts on Fire") cohabiting their top 10. Aren't I supposed to hate everything Pitchfork has to offer?

I'm afraid to find out what is the truth - are they getting more mainstream, or am I getting more elitist?


Best of 2008 coming soon

Monday, December 15, 2008

As I'm sure everyone is excited to hear, this incredibly amateur and overly self important blogger will be rolling out my "best of 2008" lists very soon. I'm thinking about doing comics, TV, movies (although I'm going to wait on this, as there are way too many movies I have yet to see), and music. Mostly excited about music, as I've actually been working on that bad boy for some time now. Expect all of them besides movies before Christmas, with my top 20 of 2008 for music being rolled out on December 26th.

It'll be my special Christmas present to you all!

Adaptation Alley

This is how you make a comic movie

While perusing the movie site Aint It Cool News I came across two exciting things for comic book fans. There was the premiere of the new trailer for what I will call the Wolverine movie (aka the absurdly and unnecessarily long titled X-Men Origins: Wolverine) and the first review for Frank Miller's film adaptation of the Will Eisner comic classic the Spirit.

On one hand, you have the Wolverine movie, filled with comic delights such as Gambit and Deadpool finally making it into a movie, a plot delving into Wolverine's very interesting life and origin, and old man Logan getting down and dirty with some good ol' violence. Like he should be. As a movie fan, you have Liev Schreiber flat out dominating the trailer with his portrayal of Sabretooth, you have Danny Huston chewing the scenery as Stryker (I contest that Michael C. Hall would have filled it better, but that's neither here nor there - at least we can save Hall for Arcade further down the line), and you have Jackman looking as in his element as you can get.

In short, get excited folks. I get the feeling that Gavin Hood may actually deliver another good installment of mutant related comic adaptations.

Then on the other hand you have the review of the Spirit, a movie rife with challenges, not the least of which is an amateurish (at best) director in comic god Miller and an absurdly hyperstylized trailer. This review compares Battlefield Earth (one of the worst adaptations and movies ever) favorably to the Spirit.

Words used in that previous sentence did in fact include "compares," "favorably," and "Battlefield Earth."

You there? You five guys (I used to be one of you) who were holding out hope that Miller's adaptation could possibly be serviceable? Give up. Regardless of how poorly written or ridiculous the actual review may be, odds are this just confirms the worst - this movie is going to suck, and badly at that.

That's what always gets me. These movies have great source material. How can you not take decades of material and craft the best stories into something everyone wants to see? I just don't get it. Especially with the Spirit as it adapts one of the best comic stories ever in the "Sand Serif" arc. With all of the confidence the Wolvie preview gets me, movies like the Spirit take it away.

I really want to believe that Mendes and Caruso will do right by Preacher and Y the Last Man. While I can't expect perfect, please, please, please take us towards Wolverine and ignore everything that comes from the Spirit.

The Weekend Edition (It's party time)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

I think it's been pretty much decided that December 2008 is the busiest month of my life. This whole month has been wall to wall insanity, and this weekend was definitely no different. What went down?

  • Dad's 60th birthday party
  • Coffee with my sister
  • Snow City and a Bosco's adventure with Hannah
  • Seeing Milk with my mom
  • GCI's Christmas party
  • Lazy Sunday with Middle Way Cafe, finishing my book, wrapping up season 3 of Dexter, and some serious ballin' with Colver
So the whole weekend was most definitely awesome. The two big highlights were the parties of the weekend, starting with my Dad's 60th birthday party. Hannah and myself were two of the first to show up, arriving around 6:15 or 6:30, and we ended up staying there until past midnight. Tons of people showed up to celebrate my Dad's birthday, and it was great times shared by friends and family alike. There was me dominating in Scene It, the cigar smoking crew on the deck, Colver thinking family friend Penny was my sister (to her delight), excellent gag gifts (I got my Dad adult diapers) and just good times to be had by all.

Sadly, I don't have any pictures because I forgot my camera, but still, it was a memorable occasion that pictures were unnecessary for really.

Last night's extravaganza was GCI's Christmas party, and this was the first one I'd been able to attend. It took place at the Dena'ina Center and had 1,600 or more people there. Essentially, it was a party put together for employees to eat great food, drink a ridiculous amount of alcohol, and have a ton of fun. Knowing me, I of course drank a bunch and did my standard quota of stupid things, but I had an absolute blast doing it.

Plus, I got to see all kinds of coworkers drunk that I'd never seen happen before, Cate and I got to dominate the dance floor for at least three songs (running man + fishing pole dance = gold mine, I have video proof), and it was all for free. I always like to say, everything is better when it's free. This was no exception.

I always said that I would prefer just an extra day off every year (that's what we get on odd years instead of the Christmas party) but I don't know. It's a pretty great night and one where you get to see all the business people you're used to seeing only in a formal way be very, very not formal. I could get used to having it yearly, that's for sure.

(Law) Suit up!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

What would Barnabus Stinson do?

This is a post with a double meaning (which is probably fairly clear). Two exciting firsts came my way recently, as I picked up my first suit (yay!) and I became directly involved with my very first lawsuit (boo...).

Obviously the former is far cooler than the latter, as suits are pretty much the cat's pajamas. Not only that, but I look good. It's specifically for the GCI Christmas party that Amy and I will be attending on Saturday night, and I'm fairly certain that we will be at least the most attractive people there. I mean, this suit is pretty glorious. Barney Stinson himself would be pleased with my successes.

Of course, he'd probably even be pleased with my lawsuit causing self (lawsuits are an every day annoyance for the B man), as something I did may or may not have caused my company to get sued. Even cooler? I may get deposed! Strangely enough, I'm excited about it because it's pretty much ridiculous (grasp at straws much unnamed company who is getting stomped in the market?) and as I told a friend earlier, I'm totally cool with trying anything once. As long as I don't make it a habit I suppose. Plus, that would totally give me a new place to wear my suit.

Prepare Alaskan courts, because I'm going to look good.

Wowie zowie

The Dark Knight was awesome in theaters. I mean, the movie itself is full of so many "that was awesome!" moments and is put together so well by Christopher Nolan and his brilliant cast (especially Ledger as the Joker), it's impossible not to love.

However, after watching it through on Blu Ray at my place, sitting in the dark watching on my TV, I realize this plays even better in this situation. Blu Ray comes packed with incredibly high resolution imagery, the IMAX scenes in all of their glory, and audio that sounds exactly like Nolan imagined it would.

In short, it's the perfect way to watch this great movie, and if you have a chance to get it on Blu Ray, you pretty much have to. It's an eyegasm and a half.

Also, I'm clearly sold on Blu Ray technology. Anything that can somehow improve the movie watching experience of Wall-E and Knight is pretty amazing (even if it is psychological, which it likely is). While I'll still buy the average movie on DVD, tent pole releases like those two are assuredly coming my way Blu Ray style from now on.

Fables: the TV show

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

So ABC is turning the brilliant comic series Fables (the best the medium has to offer at this point) into a pilot with hopes (assumably) of getting it on the air in the 2009 fall season. ABC, the channel that just unceremoniously axed fantasy serials such as Pushing Daisies, Eli Stone, and Dirty Sexy Money all on one day.

Granted, from a business standpoint, it made sense. However, from a creative standpoint, it was a bit rough as all three were very well received shows which were harmed greatly by the writers strike last year. With that said, these are going to be easy sells comparatively to Fables, and all three were likely far more inexpensive than what it will cost to produce Fables (even with DSM's amazing cast).

Plus, this is a comic series which features a seductive spy version of Cinderella, an insane, sex obsessed, war mongerer version of Goldilocks, and a character who smokes more than the Marlboro Man (for good, and touching, reasons though). It's not exactly Disney material, who, coincidentally enough, owns ABC.

So my question is this...are they going to turn this into some sort of live action broadcast version of Enchanted? The way I figure it, this show has a stacked deck against it. It's going to be expensive, it's going to be a hard sell, it's built in audience is incredibly passionate and will abandon it if things are going awry. So why is Bill Willingham, god amongst men and crafter of the best comic series on the market, allowing ABC to put out this show instead of an HBO or Showtime (or even FX) who will put in the money to make this a success and will allow for the show to be presented the way it should be.

I do have to say though, I'm excited about the prospect of a Fables show. It's an incredible bit of source material, and if done right, it will be one of the best shows on TV. I'll classify myself as cautiously optimistic - I hope everything goes well. I hope I get to see Bigby and Snow White's love story on TV. I hope Pinocchio is still a foul mouthed perma child.

I hope.

The Weekend Edition (Mega crazy weekend edition)

Monday, December 8, 2008

So this weekend was pretty much freaking epic. Because I've been tied up with other things between now and then, I'm even going to get into Thursday's events, so this is a breakdown of what went down Thursday through Sunday. It was about as epic as you can get, no doubt about it. I'm going to split it into three sections though, to cover the main three events.

Part 1: Lyrics Bored

One of the best concert runners in the state of Alaska is the restaurants Bear and Moose's Tooth, who have over the years brought up Wilco, Matisyahu, Cake, Third Eye Blind, Rodrigo Y Gabriela, and more. During the summer they have the Moose's Tooth summer concert series, but they also have First Tap events at Bear Tooth every month where they premier a new beer and have a musician/band/whatever put on a show.

December '08's First Tap brought up Bay Area rapper Lyrics Born, a college radio favorite and an artist I caught for part of one song at Bumbershoot '07. I had reviewed his album Same S@%^ Different Day (clearly mine was the censored one) in college, and felt like he could put on a pretty good show. One way or another, I figured Jason, Hannah, and I would have a good time.

Sure enough we did, and we ran into plenty of other great folks there to share in the good time and beer with, as many tasty beverages were consumed (while I liked the new Stout they revealed, I stuck to lighter beers after one run). Plus, the opening band was ATF (Alaskan Thunder Funk) which featured a fellow Bosco's new comic day guy as one of the lead rappers. It was great seeing comic book geeks being represented in a good way on stage.

On came Lyrics Born, and I have to admit, I was severely underwhelmed. Their performance reminded me of the Starting Line years back at the Drive Thru Invasion tour. It started out really cool as you had a fairly well performing group who had clearly been doing this for a while and brought some good banter to the stage. Then when you realized all they did was the same thing, over and over, it started to get tired (heads up Lyrics Born, you do NOT have to ask how the ladies are in the house after and before every song - nor the "fellas").

While overall they performed well (especially the freakishly talented Joyo Velarde), I was pretty freaking bored by the end. Strangely enough, possibly my favorite part of the night was driving back to my place with Jason and Hannah as a slightly intoxicated Jason continually threw down Joker quotes from the Dark Knight in a scary accurate Heath Ledger voice. Creepy as hell, but it made me laugh hysterically. Bravo Jason.

Part II: The Crewnit Celebrates Colver's 25 Years

This past Saturday was Colver's 25th birthday, and to celebrate Lorna invited the remaining Crenwit members (meaning it was Colver, Lorna, Amy, Hannah, Jason, and I) over for drinking and ridiculousness. Any time the Crewnit gathers, it's cause for celebration, and we've rarely been assembling in our entirety lately.

However, we did this time, and it was legendary. I mean come on, we had beer pong, we had me trying to kick a ball and eating it ridiculously afterwards, camo hat pics, cake, wedding discussions, more Joker quoting, coercing Jason into skipping his hockey game, and tons of hijinks.

Most of all, we just had great friends together having an incredible time together. That's something we haven't been doing as a group as much as we used to, and it felt like a perfect time to bring it all back together. It just reminds me that we need to do that more often, and thankfully, it's the holiday season. That's the perfect time for planned Crewnit hang outs, like our upcoming Christmas party and New Years party. Now that I can't wait for.

Part III: Fastest 36 Hours

Erik and I at the game

Between 5:45 PM on Saturday and 8:40 AM today, I was in transit between Anchorage and Seattle for one purpose - to see the New England Patriots to play for the first time. It was everything I thought it could be and more.

I was excited, but more than this guy? No way.

Here's an example of how excited I was: as we walked in, I asked Erik "would it be weird if I cried because I'm so happy? Because that's kind of what I felt like doing." It was overwhelming, going in and seeing this ridiculously amazing stadium (Qwest Field is a work of art) and looking on the field seeing all of my favorite players.

My new favorite Seahawk

Plus, while you can actually see the game better on TV, there is something to be said about live games. Watching the game live, it's like you're in sync with your team. I was calling plays as they developed, penalties (or not called ones) become glaringly obvious, and every nerve wracking situation becomes inflated in its intensity.

Belichick and Vrabel stratergizing

This is a game that was decided with less than 2 minutes left with the Seahawks driving to tie or win the game (thank you Brandon Meriwether!), and the go ahead touchdown was scored on 4th down from the one yard line. Needless to say, I was a wreck. I felt as if I was going to collapse at any second from pure stress. I couldn't though, and I could hardly even sit the whole game due to pent up energy (thankfully, at Qwest Field, everyone stands always). Here's an idea of my mental state: Erik at one point asked "did you forget your paper bag?"


Yes I did.

Vrabel giving tough love

Not only was it amazing just seeing everything so up close and personal, you really get an idea of team dynamics and what it means to be a professional athlete. To see Mike Vrabel talk to all of the younger defenders after they gave up a TD, coaching them and really hyping them up...to see Vrabel and Bill Belichick scheme together on how to stop Branch and Carlson from killing us...to see the determination on Wes Welker's face the entire game...it was just a revelation.

Wes Welker = The Man

Now to see Stephen Gostkowski and Chris Hanson goof off while waiting for their 5 seconds to shine...that was just hilarious. Kickers officially became my heroes after watching them live, as they are just clowns on the sideline (Gostkowski tends to juggle footballs off his feet when bored), but while the field as a whole felt shorter from the live perspective, good god if kicking field goals and punts didn't seem like the hardest thing imaginable. I have a new level of respect for them.

Hardest job ever!

Also, it was great to go to the game and actually have a good amount of Pats fans around me, as I loved being able to high five people around me after great plays and complain openly and vehemently when I perceived something to be a transgression against my team. Of course, the Seahawks fans around didn't particularly appreciate it, but that's okay with me. I wore my Welker jersey with pride and cheered my team like none of them existed. I'm just glad I didn't get punched.


It was just such a joy to see them play, and such a relief to see them win, and none of it would have been possible without my dad. Thanks so much for the best Christmas/birthday present ever. My dream of watching the Patriots play was everything I thought it could be and more.

View of the Seattle skyline from our seats

Oh my! A new car!

After months (and months...and months) of waiting, my new car is finally here. It's a 2009 Volkswagen Jetta TDI (Turbo Diesel Injection) and it's amazing. Great gas mileage, sun roof, 6 disc changer, charcoal gray exterior (for that Mafia Sentinel look), gray leather interiors, and tons of get up and go.

This is the first time I've ever driven anything besides an SUV, and it feels really, really good to do that for once. It's such a change from my old ride, but it's okay. It was time for a change, and I'm pretty much in love with this car. Now I just have to find something to do with the old monster, but with gas prices going down, maybe there's a market out there for gas guzzlers with tons of personality. I'll miss the old lady, but it was time a for a little youth. Welcome to the fold, my precious.

Living the dream

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Wes Welker reacting to the news that I will be at the game

I'm sitting in the airport for the first 36 hour two flight venture of my life. To Seattle and back to Anchorage between 5:45 PM on Saturday and 6 AM on Monday. Why in gods name would I do something so crazy? My sleep patterns are going to be dominated and work is going to be ridonculous (ridonkulous?) on Monday.

Oh wait.

I know why.

I'm going to watch the Patriots on Sunday!

As a surprise Christmas/Birthday present, my dad decided he was going to send me down to Seattle to catch the Seahawks/Patriots game, as my parents are aware that I have two simple dreams: to ride a Vespa in Italy (soon to be checked off) and to watch the Patriots play. I bleed red, white, and blue - not because of America, but because of the Patriots. I'm pretty much insane when it comes to the Pats, so to finally catch a game...well, it's just amazing.

Even better is that I get to go with Erik (who is a big Seahawks fan) and I even get to go into the 12th Man (the nickname for the Seahawks fanbase) and represent the Pats in my Wes Welker jersey and Patriots sweatshirt. To be perfectly honest, if it weren't for logistical issues, I would probably paint my entire body to share my love. But that's neither here nor there.

There will be a delay on my weekend edition because of it, but it's worth it. I also have another big bit of news to share, but I'll wait until the finalization of that soon to be revealed deal to share.

If you get a chance, turn on the TV on Sunday and see if you can spot a number 83 Patriots jersey in the sea of white and blue. That'll be me, grinning ear to ear and savoring complete domination. Go Patriots!

Best day ever?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Perhaps it's just because all week days lately have sucked completely, but so far today has been freaking awesome. I mean, I'm grinning ear to ear perpetually. Why?

10. Everything at work going right for a change
9. Being the only person in my area of the office, so I can blare music
8. Kermit performing LCD Soundsystem's "New York, I Love You"
7. Getting free passes to the Anchorage International Film Festival
6. Finally going to the Gumbo House and discovering a new favorite Alaskan restaurant
5. New comics coming in (Secret Invasion finale! Ahhh!)
4. Talib Kweli coming to Alaska February 7th!
3. Getting kudos and mileage for a job well done from two VPs and two Directors
2. Getting asked to be a groomsmen (with Best Man option on the table) at Colver and Lorna's wedding
1. Christmas/Bday present - Going to see the New England Patriots play the Seattle Seahawks this weekend with Erik in Seattle!

So yeah, I'm pretty sure this day is overloaded with awesomeness. Thank god for the change, because it's been a long time coming. Apparently my karma has swung back to the good side for a bit.


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Derek Zoolander: RIM employee?

Two days ago at work I was trapped in another meeting that I didn't want to go to. The best thing I could say about this was at least it was a lunch meeting (as in food was being served) and that it was at least promising to be an interesting one. This meeting was with RIM (Research in Motion), the company who created and owns the Blackberry brand.

I walk in with a coworker, fully expecting another bland presentation from another company with frumpy used car salesman type, but was blown away with what I found. Let's just say that when they were young they became pretty sure that there was more to life than being really, really, ridiculously good looking, and they planned on finding out what that was. That turned out to be working for RIM apparently, because all three people were pretty much models in business attire.

You had the gorgeous woman with her stylish nearly pink cut of hair and edgy looks, you had the slightly older (and foxier) head woman to the team, and you had the dude who suited up and sported blue steel as he walked around.

I was in shock. This was exactly the opposite of who we get to deal with, and normally at best, you get one of the crew that is remotely attractive, as opposed to all three being blog worthy in their attractiveness. Plus they were Canadian, so they were inherently hilarious with their perpetual dropping of "eh" and "aboot" (especially the edgy one, who actually said "oot and aboot").

Later, I talked to a coworker about this:

Me: Did you notice something about those RIM reps?
Coworker: You mean did I notice how they were all hot?
Coworker: I was in Waterloo last year (where RIM is based) and that's what their entire campus is like. They're all skinny and chiseled and look they just walked out of a catalogue. It's great.
Me: I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'm moving to Canada.

I'm not, but you could understand why. Apparently this company not only hires the best and the brightest (as you can tell by their company being a perpetual hype machine), but they even somehow manage to only hire the most attractive people possible. Apparently all of their time in the "Derek Zoolander Center For Kids Who Can't Read Good And Wanna Learn To Do Other Stuff Good Too" was time well spent.

Thanks for not getting horrifically drunk

Monday, December 1, 2008

I'm going to be perfectly honest about something. While at work, I occasionally get incredibly distracted. This is going to sound like a lie, but if I didn't, my work would suffer. Those zone out periods and times of sheer glee allow me to get back to the drudgery of the daily grind.

Many things really get me, from limitless research of fantasy sports, to the occasional massive Bill Simmons mailbag, to my comic book thread, all the way to even the Vin Diesel random fact generator occasionally.

One of the sites that really gets to me is someecards.com. This site is hilarious and has an ecard for any situation, regardless of how ridiculous it is. Having a hard time at work lately? See the card at the top. Have a friend who may have a gay boyfriend? Send her this. Wanting to send me a note of congratulations about running the Portland marathon? Send me this.

Amy is the first person who showed me this site, and it's been very good at wasting far too much of my time ever since. It's really fun just to waste time sending emails back and forth with friends with these attached. I mean come on, who hasn't wanted to send this one to another coworker suffering from a bad case of the mondays?

If you haven't went to this site before, I recommend it. Especially at work, because nothing cures a case of the mondays like basking in the hilarity of this site.

The Weekend Edition

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Ahhhhhhhh. Thanksgiving weekend, how I love you. Sure, at the end of the weekend I'm probably ten pounds heavier than before, but it was so worth it. Plus, any weekend where I get an additional two days off are very well appreciated. So what happened that made it particularly quality?

  • Making two delicious meals for my parents (salmon cakes plus David's club scramble = crazy delicious)
  • Thanksgiving dinner with family and friends
  • Black Friday mania!
  • Checking out Baz Luhrmann's Australia (good, not great so disappointing to a degree, but still a worthy movie to check out)
  • Staying up for twenty hours on Friday (crazy tired)
  • Finishing another book (nearing 52!)
  • Enjoying the heck out of Bolt
  • Out on the town with Amy, Jason, Nate, Nick and more
  • Watching the Pats get supergatored by the Steelers at the Peanut Farm with Jason
  • Supergator, quite possibly the best bad movie ever
  • Thanksgiving the sequel with Amy, Arianna, and more (two Thanksgivings? hell yes!)
So it was a great weekend and one that as packed to the gills with fun, family, friends, and food. All of the best f's really. Thanksgiving weekend is traditionally one of my favorites of the year because Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. While I love the tomfoolery and fun of Halloween and enjoy the family, fun, food, and presents of Christmas, the purity and the good will of Thanksgiving is really hard to beat.

Even better than that this year is the fact that I not only had one Thanksgiving (filled with incredible green bean casserole, delicious mashed potatoes and gravy, and oh so glorious pie), but a second awesome Thanksgiving after the initial one. Arianna (Amy's roommate) had to work on Thanksgiving and came up with a plan to put on a magnificent dinner Sunday night, and I managed to get on the guest list. The meal came complete with all the turkey day standards, but with the addition of the most delectable candied yams ever. Arianna's grandma's special recipe, and apparently it's pretty much magic.

Of course, there is the whole "oh man, I need a nap right now" thing, and the whole "I'm fairly certain my stomach is splitting in half" thing, and the whole "why don't my pants fit anymore?" thing. But that's a small price to pay for pure unadultered food joy.

Winter is really, really here

It's been pretty much snowing for four days in a row here in Alaska. I know we're Alaska, so it shouldn't be that surprising, but come on now. Every time I go out to my car it's buried again, and the area surrounding my car is mid shin deep.

This is just getting ridiculous, and I demand that it quits like right now. Seriously.

Booyah for Black Friday

Friday, November 28, 2008

I braved the Black Friday lines once again, ready for full out combat shopping, and this time came out more successful than I've ever been before (or I suppose that would depend on your definition of success - in this case, success would be measured by getting what I desired and spending an absurd amount of money very quickly).

For some reason, every year my mom and I (at the very least, we are usually partnered up with others) venture out into the insanity of Black Friday, not so much looking to pick up 12 DVD players (as I've seen someone toting around at Best Buy before) but really, just to take in the crazy. You haven't seen people act crazy until you've seen them act crazy over "deals" and things of that sort, and you'll never find that more (in "quality" and quantity) than on Black Friday.

This year however, I had a specific mission as Best Buy had a very slick Toshiba laptop for super cheap. As I had a good experience with my last Toshiba laptop and these specs checked out to be pretty much exactly what I wanted, I decided another plunge into the darkness was worth it. This time, my mom, niece, and sister had an inside person, with my nephew and his friends getting to Best Buy at an absurdly early (or late) hour by getting there around 10:30/11 PM. We got there at about 3:20 AM, and were early enough to get a laptop for both my sister and myself (although I nearly had a panic attack after they claimed to have handed them all out).

So now I'm writing this from Kaladi Brothers on Title Wave's wireless network as I sip from a coffee. I've been up for 13 hours and it's only 3:35 PM, but you know what? Worth it. I got some cool stuff, killer deals, and some Christmas shopping done. Sleep? I'll sleep when I'm dead.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving to all! See above for the most ridiculous Thanksgiving picture I could find.

It's official

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I had a meeting with my boss yesterday over something else, and I broached the question of a lengthy amount of time off (3 weeks to be specific) so I could go to Europe some time in April through June of next year.

"Do you have the vacation time?"
"Yeah, enough for that and plenty more."
"Oh yeah, you have like 5 or 6 weeks saved up, huh?"
"Well sure. That sounds great. Feel free to take it off."

I then proceeded to gleefully jig in his office as my boss looked on laughing.

Now I just need to drop some serious bank on a ticket and wrap up that whole passport thing, and I'm doing this, but for real real. Consider me excited.

Too bad

Monday, November 24, 2008

Is it possible for me to hate your sunglasses more?

Strangely enough, I was beaten to the punch by Amanda on this subject today. More specifically, I was beaten to the punch by a site called "Mama Pop" which wrote up "the Top 10 reasons why Kanye West is a douche" here.

I wasn't going to write about why Kanye is an ahole (although there is plenty of material why - three things Mama Pop missed include the monumental hissy fit he threw after the Grammy's when Maroon 5 won best new artist instead of him, the infamous "George Bush don't like black people" moment, and the fact he made sunglasses that you cannot see out of popular - I hate those so much) but about how it's too bad he is one, because he's really freaking talented.

I picked up his new album 808's and Heartbreaks and I have to admit, I really, really like it. It's more electro pop than rap and it completely abandons the ridiculous skits that would hamper his previous albums, and it is all the better for it. It has a ton of soul and some of the best beats featured in any of his albums. It's a really hard album not to like.

Of course, with a guy who is assuredly very intelligent and matches that with a natural charisma and immense talent, why is it that it's impossible for him to not be needlessly controversial? Is he just an attention whore? Can he not live unless someone is paying attention to him at all moments? He surrounds the release of his album with such tomfoolery as claiming he's the "voice of the generation" or other such nonsense seemingly just to draw attention, when the album can stand on its own with clear cut number one singles like "Heartless" and "Love Lockdown."

The worst thing is he spent so much time establishing himself as intelligent and focused on different things than the rest of the artists in his genre, and then progressed to destroy that by developing what may be the single biggest ego on the planet.

It kills me. I'll continue to enjoy his album, but man, the guy needs to stop being so in love with himself and stop being so in to being controversial. It makes me want to hate the guys music, just because of his personality.

Lock it up Kanye. There's no reason to be so ridiculous. You make good music. Sell yourself on that, not on the controversial things you brew up in the old noodle. Next time you come up with something ludicrous to say, sit the next few plays out and stop talking for a while. You'll be thankful for actually not talking for once, as unbelievable as that seems.

The Weekend Edition

Sunday, November 23, 2008

This was one of the best weekends in recent memory. I have been stuck in either Disney weekends or twenty something party comedy weekends lately, and while I like relaxing and I like parties, all of one and none of the other is a split I'm not particularly interested in. This weekend was an ideal mix of both, and for that reason amongst others was great. There was so much goodness, I'm even going to break down the whole weekend as opposed to just Cliff's Noting it up as per usual.

Lucky you!

Friday: This week sucked, to put it nicely. After a long hard week, I wasn't sure if I wanted to lock myself in my apartment and not let anything go wrong or go out and party myself into oblivion. Thankfully, I chose the middle ground.

To start the night, as planned Jason, Amy, Hannah, Nate, Jon, and I went out to dinner at a new sushi joint in Anchorage named Dish (contemplating starting to review Anchorage restaurants on here - if so, this will be the first one reviewed). It's a place that Amy and I have both went a couple times before and had recommended to the whole group for good reason. Everything was delicious.

Our group consumed a ton of delicious food (highlighted by Hannah's freakishly delectable EC Roll and the bizarre but alluring Kimchi Jon ordered) and had a great time doing it. Amy, Jason, Hannah and I hang out all the time, but I don't get to see Jon and Nate nearly as much as I used to so it was great having more of the Crewnit back together again.

After the dinner, Amy and I split off to meet up with Nick and then head to a birthday party (with beer pong...fun!) which would feature one of the most brilliant party inventions: the party bus. Legal vehicular mobility combined with consumption of booze and free entrance into any bar is one of the better ideas ever, and it was a really fun time, although it ended up being a really early night as Amy and I clearly started too early at night (we had a couple beers at Dish).

Regardless, any night featuring a great meal, great friends, and a party bus is hard to complain about.

Saturday: I woke in the morning on Amy's surprisingly comfy couch covered by a beyond warm feather comforter that hadn't been there when I went to sleep (thanks go out to Amy's roommate Arianna in this case - thanks!) in time for my 8 am conference call for work - booyah! After that's completed, Amy and I make the needlessly complex and entertaining journey to acquire some McDonald's breakfast and reacquire her car.

Even though I'm feeling pretty good considering the early hour and what I'd been doing the evening before, I decide to read a few comics and then nap for an hour or two that turns into a solid three or four. This leads to a mouthwatering meal at frequent haunt Middle Way Cafe with Hannah (her first time!) and then a few hours of reading at Kaladi's, as I finally finish Bill Bryson's travelogue Neither Here Nor There (7 months in the making!) and begin fresh on a new book.

By this time, it's nearly time to meet up with Brian for the grand selection process for bad movie night. Bad movie night, for those that are unaware of the intricacies of this glorious event, is a night where we sit around and watch a series of terrible movies and give them the Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment by ridiculing every single event that transpires. Plus we drink beer and eat delicious foods (ranging from the occasional massive pot of mac and cheese as gloriously shared by Lorna, Brian, and I to the Moose's Tooth pizza we ate on Saturday night).

The Howling 3: the Marsupials

Bad movie night this time featured one good movie (the surprisingly haunting Right at Your Door) and two legendarily bad movies - the Howling 3: the Marsupials and Sleepaway Camp 3: Teenage Wasteland. The latter was watched just to complete our viewing of the "thrillogy", but the former we jumped in excitedly as the cover looked too promising to pass up.

Sure enough, it was about as good as you can get, earning a place in the Bad Movie Night Hall of Fame (along with Cyborg Cop, Sleepaway Camp, Bloodrayne, and Surf School) with such gems as a character named "Jerboa Jerboa," werewolf/marsupial crossbreeds, random chase scenes that develop into love stories, a teleporting aboriginal man, and the best werewolf transformation scenes ever.

In short, we laughed, we cried (because of the laughing), we kissed our troubles goodbye.

Thanks bad movie night!

Sunday: I got up bright and early to get to the crafting of breakfast burritos featuring eggs, hot Jimmy Dean sausage, green and red peppers, diced onions, and feta cheese for Jason, Hannah, and I. It was a big day, as we were making the sojourn to the Peanut Farm for football Sunday, as today featured only the Ravens/Eagles on cable and every game imaginable at Peanut Farm (they have NFL Sunday Ticket) and I had a big game with the Pats facing the Dolphins and Amy and Jason had a showdown between their teams (the Cowboys and Niners respectively).

To start: the Peanut Farm is heaven for football fans. You have loads of passionate and knowledgeable fans (i.e. the Buffalo Bills fans who chanted the Bills fight song after every score - which was often as they dropped 54 points on the Chiefs), everyone is dressed up so I don't feel weird in a Wes Welker jersey, and every game is playing. I'm pretty sure I'm going to go there every week from now on.

It was a great time, as my team dominated, so did Amy's, and Jason's team sadly got killed (but they're the Niners...it's kind of what they do at this point). I excitedly watched every down of the Pats game, with Matt Cassel continuing to grow up in front of our eyes. Gotta love it.

This led to us going back to my place after the early games and watching Wall-E on Blu Ray and the Shawshank Redemption as no one had seen the former besides me and Hannah had not seen the latter. Needless to say, they were both great.

One note: nothing shows the difference better between Blu Ray and standard DVD than those two DVD's, as one is a brilliant visual movie on next gen tech while the other is a stark drama and one of the earlier DVD's ever released. The difference between the two was huge. I love you Blu Ray!

That's pretty much it for the weekend. It was a great mix of lazy and party, and I love that. Plus, I ran two miles in 12 minutes and 47 seconds today with a belly full of McDonald's. Not too bad, if I do say so myself.

I'm a commercial boy

Unsurprisingly, on no day do I spend more time in front of the TV than on Sunday. Considering I'm a maven of football, I gorge myself on every down, taking in every play (at least if it's the Patriots) as if this is the most important play of the game. There is a rotating lineup of people watching with me every week, consisting of Amy, Jason, Hannah, and Colver, and the shared laziness and football watching leads to great days.

Of course, the volume we take in leads to something else.

Commercial domination.

Seemingly every week during a game we're inspired to do something or the other during the game by the commercials we see. Example: week 1, Jason, Amy, and myself are watching at my place. After eight straight hours of being bombarded with commercials about Bud Light with Lime (or BLL as Jason calls it) and Taco Bell's Volcano Tacos, in the break between the early afternoon game and the late afternoon game (or late afternoon game and early evening game for most of you) I collected around six Volcano Tacos and Jason picked up a sixer of BLL.

They were consumed very quickly.

This week was no different, as repeated "Nuggnuts" commercial from McDonald's led to Jason and I both downing ten piece nuggets (as collected by the incredibly giving Hannah) while we watched a movie.

It's funny how I find myself commenting on some commercials, openly asking "who would be suckered by something like this?" and then on others I am completely overcome and lose all sense about the situation and must purchase that item immediately. Maybe it's a volume thing, as some commercials really get slammed home after a while. Probably not. It's probably just a delicious thing, as nuggets, BLL, and Volcano Tacos are freaking tasty man.

With that said, see below for the best commercial ever. I may not purchase Guitar Hero World Tour after watching it, but I definitely appreciate what it has to offer.

Anathallo Contest Winner

Sadly, I only received four entrants into my Anathallo contest. No big deal, because the point was to share the album with someone, and share it I will. The winner was no less than my mom, whose haiku was quite good if I do say so myself (see below). Very soon you'll be saying hello to your very own copy of Anathallo's Canopy Glow. Congratulations!

Today bloom again
As tomorrow might not come
I live completely

Only in Alaska

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Earlier today, I was pulling up to my house while talking to Kim on the phone, and I looked over to the left and saw a wolf sniffing the sidewalk as if somewhere in the mix of ice and leaves there may be some sort of tasty treat.

"Oh my god. There's a wolf in front of my house."
"Are you sure it's a wolf? It's probably just a dog."
"I know what a dog looks like. This is a wolf."
"Huh, that's weird."
"It's Alaska, this is what happens in my neighborhood. I don't know if I should get out of my car. It looks hungry."
"Wolves are fast, I bet it can jump your fence."
"You're not exactly helping here."

I open my door and it turns to look at me.

"Oh god! It's looking at me!"
"Just go inside, you'll be fine."

Sure enough, I did go inside, and I was fine, but still, how many of you out there have the legitimate concern of wolves attacking you as you're walking inside with groceries? That's right. Not that many. Alaska is freaking weird.

Win me!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Whenever I love something in terms of media related things that have not really received a lot of attention, I quite often go above and beyond when sharing it with others. It's something I really have a hard time not doing, but in the end it normally works out well for those around me.

With that said, Anathallo's Canopy Glow came out this week to not exactly a ton of fanfare, something I think can be cured by a little word of mouth and a little buzz. I'm trying to do my part with this post, because if you haven't heard it, you can't really spread the word about it yourself.

Here's the deal: Anathallo derives from Greek and it means "to renew, refresh, or bloom again." I task you, the reader, to come up with a haiku featuring one (or bonus points if more than one is used) of those words - renew, refresh, or bloom. Not a deal breaker if you don't, but bonus points if you can tie your haiku into music. The winner will be decided entirely objectively by me (sorry friends and family, I will not automatically choose you because I know you). Please email me at davidlharper2@gmail.com with your haiku, or if you prefer, leave it in the comments with a good contact email.

The prize? You'll be receiving Anathallo's Canopy Glow, and an actual album, not a burnt copy (have to encourage those first week SoundScan numbers, dontchaknow?).

So get writing - entries have to be in by noon on Sunday, Alaskan Standard Time (not one of those other silly time zones the majority of you are in). I'll have the winner and the winning haiku posted by Sunday evening.

Slices of Fried Gold (11/20/08)

More recommendations for one and all, with a diverse list this week featuring a graphic novel, a performance on a TV show, a online compilation, and a CD. All are definitely worth checking out and come highly recommended from me.

TV: Jimmy Smits in Dexter

Dexter continues to be one of the best shows on television in its third season, with this season possibly being the best yet. This show is incredible because it started out great and has consistently surpassed its own quality with each season.

One of the big reasons this season has been the subtraction of the distracting character Doakes with Jimmy Smits as the incredibly engaging Miguel Prado. His progression from possible enemy to Dexter's first real friend has been the most interesting plot point of the season, as it adds a dynamic to the story that has never really been present.

Smits is an actor that has always been praised but I've never seen act, but after seeing this season, I can safely say that every bit of praise he has been given has been earned. He's a top notch actor, and his role as Dexter's first real confederate singlehandedly has escalated this to the peak of Dexter seasons. That says a lot.

Comics: Maus by Art Spiegelman

Even though I'm a huge fan of comics, I'd never checked out Spiegelman's Maus, the Pulitzer Prize winning and most critically acclaimed comic ever about Spiegelman and his relationship with his father who survived Auschwitz. For some reason every time I looked at it, I was turned off by the simple and grimy art.

However, as years past my tastes changed, and it was time to read Maus, and I'm very glad I have, as it is about as good a story as the comic medium has ever produced and the perfect example to show why comics are a very real and very powerful medium. I'd put this on par with Elie Wiesel's Night as the best piece I've ever read about the Holocaust, and that is saying something (I love that book).

While the art is still not spectacular, it gets the job done and acts as commentary in its own right (especially with the anthropomorphic character designs - all characters' nationalities are displayed by the animal that represents them the best - example: the French are frogs). It's the story and writing that really make it what it is, as it is truly haunting. Of course what else would you expect from something about the Holocaust? A must read for anyone and everyone.

Music: the Slackers - Self Medication

Of course I discover the perfect summer album right as winter is really taking over in Alaska. This is the seventh album by the Slackers, but the first I'd ever heard. It's an excellent mix of ska and reggae into a very mellow and fun album that never stays too serious for too long. Just what you would want from an album of this sort.

Sure, this doesn't really reinvent the wheel, but if you're a fan of ska/reggae, this is a great album to check out as this band clearly has a solid grip on their home genres.

Music: Guilt by Association 2

This is a mixtape by Engine Room Recordings, and it's incredibly bizarre and full of covers of songs you would never imagine the artists performing. But strangely, they work out really well. On this mix, you have Matt Pond PA covering My Chemical Romance's "I'm Not Okay," you have Max Vernon covering Katy Perry's "I Kissed a Girl," and most excellently, you have the incredibly underrated Robbers on High Street covering New Edition's "Cool It Now."

These covers are quite often shockingly different (especially the Matt Pond PA cover), but are at the very least interesting. The talent on this mix is worth at least one listen through, and if you like it, I strongly encourage picking it up on iTunes. Most of the covers are pretty awesome though. Check out Kaki King's cover of JT ("I Think She Knows") if you don't believe me.

If not now, when?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I want to be in you!

I'm twenty four years old and I've never been out of North America.

That's really bizarre to think about, especially considering I've wanted to travel since I was little. For some reason I always have wanted to go to Italy and rent a Vespa and just travel around cities, enjoying the warm weather and a nice book while downing some delectable (and strong!) coffee, drinking in the culture and the history that comes with it.

Yet, here I am, nearing a quarter century old (it's more fun and dramatic to put it in that sort of perspective) and I've yet to leave the confines of the continent.

I know there are plenty of other people my age who haven't had the opportunity to travel either, but why not me? I have nearly thirty days saved up of vacation time. I have a ton in savings. I am entirely fine with traveling by myself. The desire is there.

All I know is I go on Facebook and I see friends making trips to Thailand and China. I check out blogs of my friends and they're posting pictures from the surely wonderful trips they take to a large portion of Europe. I read Bill Bryson books and he goes pretty much everywhere you can think of (and plenty of other places that you can't).

It's time to make the leap.

I just checked up on rates for traveling to London from Alaska (London strictly as a starting point, I mean come on, I have to go there right?), and they aren't that bad. Around $1,400 round trip. Totally affordable.

I'm going to ask my boss what the odds are that I can score three weeks off sometime in early 2009. Considering the job I'm doing, I'm going to hazard a guess that they are high.

Finally, as a Christmas present to myself, in the next few days I'm going to take some time to go to my local post office. It's about time I got myself a passport.

I'm going to ride a Vespa in Italy!