A Slice of Fried Gold

The Weekend Edition

Sunday, June 29, 2008

What a weekend! Man oh man, so much fun I had to write about a lot of it already. I'll get straight into it then, but man was it an awesome one.

  • Wall-E
  • Wanted
  • Portugal the Man rocking Koots
  • Yak and Yeti with Amy and Hannah
  • 50th Anniversary party of Alaska becoming a state
  • Seeing Alex perform at the event
  • My friends coming to visit!
  • Moose's Tooth with Matt, Erik, Colver, Lorna, Kim, Todd, and Marc
  • Losing at vegan, yet loving every second of it
  • The air show with Kim, Marc, Todd, and Erik
  • Erik's family BBQ with everyone

So yeah, a lot of awesome things happened and I can't ask for much more. The highlight of the weekend (and I'm not going to go into that many details, as the conversations and all of the nitty gritty is where the gold is located) had to be my great friends coming up. My buddy Sobo's wedding is July 5th, and it led to hanging out with awesome friends like Matt, Erik, Marc, Todd, and Sobo himself again. I loved every second of it, and we all fell back into sync together like no time at all had passed.

This upcoming week is going to be absolutely incredible too, so prepare for an extended absence from me. I'm going to do what I can but with date night on Monday, Sobo's bachelor party on Tuesday, party at my place with everyone on Wednesday, going to Seward on Thursday, dinner rehearsal on Friday, and the wedding on Saturday, prepare to not see anything else until Sunday. I'll do what I can, but if I'm gone, expect roughly 800 posts on Sunday. Apparently I'll have a lot to write about.

See below for some pics!

Marc, Erik, and Todd!

The Thunderbirds at the Air Show

Erik, me, Sobo, Todd, and Marc at Erik's family BBQ

The Failed Vegan

There I was at Moose's Tooth, eating dinner with 7 of my best friends on the planet, four of which who were visiting just for a bit this summer. I order my vegan delight pizza (sauce, pesto, artichoke hearts, olives, and sun dried tomatoes) and immediately dig in as soon as it arrives. Everyone else had been tackling mozzarella cheese sticks with marinara while I looked on with drool coming out of my mouth.

I take a huge bite. I take another. Delicious as always. I share with Erik, who agrees. "Vegan must not be that bad."

Matt turns to me and says "is pesto normally white?"

I hadn't even thought about it. On that pizza, buried under sauce and pesto...was cheese.

I lost.

Shortly thereafter Amy showed up, right as I was texting her, but after 28 days as a vegan, I went down. Accidentally of course, but I lost no less.

Amy is the vegan champion. She is the Queen Vegan, and I will forever look upon her as the better vegan. Of course I am also convinced that she paid off the waitress at Moose's Tooth, but that is neither here nor there. It was a fun month, I may even do a few weeks of it at a time from time to time, but I lost no less. Of course, really, I won, as I followed up my loss with downing two slices of greek gyro, one of spicy pepperoni, and two pieces of mozzarella cheese bread.

And good god...it was glorious.


Saturday, June 28, 2008

As you can see below, I'm a pretty big fan of Wall-E. Of course, that's to be expected. It's Pixar, it's Lasseter, it's Andrew Stanton, it's Thomas Newman. Those names are all pretty much solid gold. What was a bit surprising was how a comic book based action flick that came out this weekend (and one that has been a pinch overshadowed) ended up being one of the most entertaining movies I've seen recently.

Wanted came out and I was a bit skeptical. I was a big fan of the comic (look for the character named JG Millar - after creators JG Jones and Mark Millar - at the end) but the previews left something to be desired. Like an absolutely brutal, counter culture storyline. Or less cliches. Or more awesomeness than simply curving bullets. Needless to say, my expectations were grounded going in.

What you get may not be the comic, but it is a brutal and extremely entertaining action flick that still maintains it's counter culture flair, however choosing to base it in a more realistic landscape (i.e. instead of super villains running the world, it's a covert organization based out of a textile mill...because that also makes sense). Sure the supporting cast were not especially developed and the movie tends to dip into a rather deep pool of ridiculousness, but good god - I was entertained! I was grinning the whole time, repeating to Kim (who went with me) "man, this is badass."

Because it was.

Go in looking to have a good time, and you likely will. This movie is full to the brim with grade A violence and top notch one liners all over the place. It may not have been exactly like the comic, but I can't say that it didn't capture the spirit of it fairly well.

Mama, I'm comin' home

Well, there is someone new at the top of my "most seen bands" list. Over the last two nights I saw Alaska's very own Portugal. the Man twice, as they are visiting home for a little while before starting up a tour with RX Bandits and Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground down in the states (seriously, you would be a damn fool to miss that show - that's a massive amount of talent under one roof), and I've now seen them a total of five times. Sure, one was sort of cheating as it was an acoustic show last night at Humpy's, but I'm going to count it.

No less, as per usual they were exceptionally good. The acoustic set was rather late to start and pretty short when it actually got going, but it was still really cool and provided with a different experience than any of the three times I'd seen them before. Generally their sound is heavily laden with keyboards and segments of jamming, but performing acoustic limited that and pigeonholed them into a far more narrow sound. Not that there is anything wrong with that, because they were very good.

The best part about that set was talking with John Gourley afterwards. John is the lead singer of the band, and I was really curious as to one thing: did he remember Harry Potter from the show at Club Oasis the year before? Hell yes he did! In fact, he was kinda stoked because he said "it's not every day you have someone show up to a show wearing flowing robes and holding a wand." Touche Mr. Gourley, touche. We talked for a bit and I suggested they play "Chicago" off their debut album Waiter! You Vultures at Koots the next night to which he responded with "dude, we haven't played that in a year." I pleaded to him, and he said he'd see what they would do.

They played it.

Ahhhh yeahhhhh.

The Hoons...supposedly

The next night they were playing at the "World Famous Chilkoot Charlie's" with an opener and their full sound opened up. The opener was a local band called the Hoons, whom I saw the previous year either before P.TM or before Scary Kids Scaring Kids. The point? They were terrible last year. I have sat through some crap before, but this took the cake so I just walked out. This year? It was like it was an entirely different band!

Not only was their performance exponentially better, but it was like their sound was entirely replaced. At times they sounded like an S.C.I.E.N.C.E. era Incubus and other times they rocked it like technical rock all stars like Gatsby's American Dream. They'd move seamlessly from sound to sound within songs, and they were pretty awesome.

Fun story: Amy and Hannah (whom I went with, although there were a lot of people I knew there) thought the Hoons lead singer was pretty much the hottest man on the planet. When we were leaving the show, I pointed him out to Amy and Amy's response was to grab his bicep and then stare back at him. I'm fairly certain that guy spent the rest of the night looking for her (at least based off Amy's reasoning...she says it "always" works). Myself? I spent the rest of the night laughing hysterically. That was funny.

Portugal. The Man rocking it on the world's most strangely lighted stage

Shortly thereafter Portugal came on, and let me tell you this: every time I've seen them has been better than the previous time. They are getting progressively better, all culminating with last night's show. It's difficult to describe, because so much of what they did existed in direct opposition of other things they did. Examples? Their sound was as tight as ever, but they also were extremely loose, jamming for five minutes after some songs. They still had the slow burn stage presence that worked so well for them before, but sometimes their bassist and keyboardist would have freak out sessions that would stand out all the more in contrast to Gourley's slow groove.

Sadly the best picture I got of John Gourley

The best example of the night was when they closed with personal favorite "Marching with 6" off Waiter! Of course it didn't have Nic Newsham from Gatsby's in it, but it was a brand new version that managed to be about 8 minutes long with additional jamming time. The band would slip off into jams randomly and use the chorus as an anchor to the rest of the song, and to be honest it was amazing. Maybe not as amazing as their keyboardist (Anakin Skywalker as I like to call him, he looks exactly like Hayden Christensen) flipping his stool over and going absolutely nuts on his bongo drums for a bit, but pretty awesome.

I've watched this band grow together over the past few years from a band who clearly lacked confidence (you literally couldn't see Gourley's face the first time I saw them, it was shrouded in a hood and he looked nervous) to a band that absolutely dominated a notoriously fickle Alaskan audience last night. The growth they've shown was perfectly evidenced in the bevy of new songs they played for the audience last night, all of which stayed true to their sound but at the same time displayed a maturity in song writing and a clear disconnect from where they had been with Church Mouth.

All I know is, I'm counting the days until September 3rd when they drop Censored Colors on us, sure to be one of the best releases of the second half of the year. Welcome back boys, we missed ya.


Friday, June 27, 2008


Heart warming.

Life affirming.

The best movie of the year.

One of my favorite movies, ever.

All of the above are about Pixar's newest (and greatest) creation, Wall-E. It is far and away the best movie I've seen this year, and I really, really believe that this is the time Pixar is pulling in a nomination for best picture, if not outright winning it. I was nearly moved to tears no less than five times during this movie (yes, I am a huge girl), and not necessarily out of sadness but out of the raw emotion that this movie brought up inside of me.

As anyone who knows me can say, I am prone to hyperbole. I'm an overhyper and after I see/hear/touch/taste something that I like, I tend to make it seem like the best thing ever. This is one time where I can't imagine anyone disagreeing with me. If you do not appreciate this movie, you must have issues with life because this is about as good as it gets.

Oh yeah, and the short before hand is nothing short of hilarious, possibly being the best they've made yet (besides For the Birds, which is just awesome).

Congratulations to Pixar (and Andrew Stanton in specific) for putting together such a fine movie. It really is amazing how they keep raising the bar, time and time again.

The Pull List

Issue of the week: Final Crisis #2 (Written by Grant Morrison, pencils by JG Jones)

This is the only issue I'm going to write about this week and let me tell you, I use the phrase "issue of the week" in not the most standard way. It'd make more sense with the words "most disappointing" or "convoluted continuty swamp of an" before it, but I decided both of those would just be too long.

Given that I'm a fairly big Morrison and Jones fan and I love the DC Universe as a whole, you'd think I'd be totally amped over this series. I mean come on, it's a crisis! It's DC's major event for the year. It's everything that the ridiculous Countdown series built to.

However, just like Countdown was a huge disappointment, so far Final Crisis has been as well. Sure, it's well written and has great art, plus it's fairly engaging, but we're two issues in and I have no idea what is going on. I still think Morrison will pull this one off, but two issues in and so far all we've gotten is the death of a hero and the appearances of many, many characters who I didn't even know existed before the series (and I know a lot about the DCU). I want development, I want to care, I want to see a point.

Needless to say, so far this series has left me wanting and that is something that should never come out of one of these events. Sorry DC, Marvel is currently wiping the floor with you in the battle of the mega event. There is still time, but come on. Let's get going.

Capitalist Pig Tuesdays

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Album of the week: Sigur Ros - Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust

"With a buzz in our ear, we play endlessly..."

That is what the album title of the new Sigur Ros album means in Icelandic (not even fictional Icelandic this time, we're talking legit Icelandic) and to be honest, I wish that were a possibility. Sigur Ros, Iceland's favorite sons, are one of the greatest bands on the planet, and this album proves that to be true just as much as previous smashes such as Agaetis Byrjun, Untitled, and Takk... did.

I said once that Agaetis was one of my all time favorites, and I legitimately think that this album rivals it in greatness. Listening to it is like listening to Sigur Ros again for the first time. All the spectacle and grandiosity, but replaced with a tinge of joy instead of sadness. It's a different angle on the same thing, but good god if it isn't beautiful.

This band has always been able to pull off big and beautiful, but this album shows their intent to try out smaller strokes to redefine themselves. I love them however they come, but their desire to explore the possibilities of their sound within this album are both met with welcome ears and an open heart. The sense of epic tragedy always hung over their previous albums, but hearing this album reminds you of that strange and joyful wedding you went to once, or that get together that you could never express but always wanted to. In short, this album is about unexplainable joy and Sigur Ros rediscovering why they love music.

For me? This is rediscovering how incredible this band is, all over again for the first time.

Favorite Songs

This week on Sheri and I's favorite things breakdown we have favorite songs and this will be our last week of this. I have to first apologize as for the first time I am late on posting this. I was rather tied up last night and it couldn't be avoided.

No less, for the songs list we're doing a special breakdown and that is top 20 songs but put together in a mixtape format so the songs are not necessarily in order of favorite to least favorite, but are in a randomized order to make the album as a whole work better. I'm a big fan of mix cd's and pride myself on being able to put together a quality mix, so this was a particularly fun one for me. I recommend collecting these songs and putting them on to a mix, as I'd wager it would be a particularly good one.

Also, the only other rule is that each band can only have one song on it. No repeat offenders (sorry Spoon!).

See Sheri's list here.

  1. Pete Yorn - For Nancy ('cos it already is) - all time favorite leads it off
  2. the Dandy Warhols - We Used to be Friends - #3 in my top 3
  3. the Shins - Gone for Good
  4. Michael Jackson - Billie Jean
  5. Gatsby's American Dream - Recondition, Reprogram, Reactivate
  6. Dire Straits - Walk of Life
  7. Beastie Boys - So What'cha Want
  8. the Killers - All These Things That I've Done
  9. blink-182 - Going Away to College
  10. The Faces - Ooh La La
  11. Spoon - I Summon You
  12. Eels - Last Stop, This Town
  13. Wu Tang Clan - Shame on a N****
  14. The Beatles - Hey Jude
  15. NOFX - Theme from a NOFX Album
  16. Weezer - In the Garage
  17. The Postal Service - The District Sleeps Alone Tonight
  18. The Flaming Lips - Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, pt. 1
  19. Paul Simon - You Can Call Me Al
  20. Sigur Ros - Olsen Olsen - #2 in my top 3

So there you have it, my all-time favorite songs all in one nice location. On top of that, they're organized for proper flow and mood changes to make sure no section is overly slow or fast and that everything is just right.

I'm going to try and add a project playlist of this top 20 later, but right now the website is being pretty fickle so you'll just have to take it for how it is right now.

The Weekend Edition

Sunday, June 22, 2008

This weekend was action packed. Seriously...there were many travels to and fro the Anchorage area, and it was glorious. Not only that, but I also managed to get a ton of rest and am feeling like I'm near 100% for the first time in quite some time. So combining fun with getting rested up into the same weekend along with some strangely great weather? Gimme some more of that I say!

Quick note: next weekend is slated to be even more fantastic. Concert, good buddies rolling into town for buddy Sobo's wedding, BBQ Sunday night, the closure of the Great Vegan Challenge of 2008, plus some partying sure to be slated in there...can I get a hell yes? Sounds pretty fantastic.

But that's next weekend. What'd I do this weekend?

  • Good amount of Frisbee Golf (three rounds this weekend)
  • Rocking with 3/4ths of Puma Town
  • Hanging out with the Crewnit at Snow Goose
  • Partying by myself downtown (seriously.)
  • Sleeping until 1 pm (haven't done that since college)
  • Catching Beowulf on PPV (strangely badass)
  • 3 on 3 bball tourney at Alaska Club West (we lost both games *cry*)
  • FG with Sharpe, Johnny, Sam, Nick, and Bob (feeling like summer 2007!!)
  • Prefunking with Amy, Patrick, Sam, Nick, Sharpe, and Nate
  • Having a blast downtown and at Koots with Sam, Sharpe, Johnny, and Nick
  • The Sixth (Russian) Sense
  • Finally finishing all of my comics!
  • Having a nice relaxing Sunday chilling with my mom and friends

So yeah, it was a busy one and a good one. Of course, as per usual there has to be a primary focus. What was it this week?

I should get a shirt made with this on the chest

I had many ventures around Anchorage area bars this weekend and I stayed pretty on the level the whole time, never got too crazy, didn't spend too much money, and had a ton of fun. Friday was particularly revelatory, as I went out to the bars totally solo. You'd think that would be depressing, but I met a lot of cool new people, danced with a ton of people, had a fun bachelorette party experience, and just had a generally great time.

However, Saturday was far more fun, as my good friend Sam was in town visiting so we brought together last summers party crew for one great night of partying, with Sam, Nick, Sharpe, Johnny, and I having a blast downtown and at Koots. Highlights from that included the two bachelorette parties we ran into, my bet with Sharpe over whether or not I could successfully pick Russian girls out of a crowd (here is a hint: I can), dancing like crazy with pretty much everyone, prefunking at Amy's, and a delicious Taco Bell run to end the night.

Sadly enough, I did not bring my camera, but sometimes things exist better as memories and without photographic evidence. I think last night was definitely one of those evenings. It was one of those "had to be there" nights as even waiting in line for half an hour at a bar ended up being a blast. To say we were having a good night was an understatement, we were on fire to quote NBA Jam.

The Vegan Diaries, Day 22

Well we're hitting the home stretch in the Great Vegan Challenge of 2008, and with 8 days remaining Amy and myself have shown absolutely no signs of relenting. Besides a stretch that lasted an afternoon towards the beginning of the month where I felt ill, I've had absolutely no problems with this at all.

The foods are delicious, meals are varied (although I am borderline obsessed with Middle Way Cafe right now...seriously their vegan baked goods and tasty sammiches are the food of the gods), and I feel stellar. I could make this last way longer if I decided to...but I'm not going to, because it turns out I do really like meat and things of that sort.

This challenge has really only made me aware of one thing, and that is that I could really do anything if I set my mind to it. Too bad I'm lazy and am only really motivated by competition, which really cuts in to what I actually accomplish.


Feed the Animals

Friday, June 20, 2008

This album is blowing my mind right now. Could it actually be better than Night Ripper?

This settles it. Gregg Gillis is an absolute genius.


Thursday, June 19, 2008

This Saturday is the Alaska Club's big 3 on 3 basketball tournament, and Colver, Nick, and I signed up for it so we can get the Drunken Cowboys some representation in something that doesn't involve drinking and answering trivia questions. Over the past three days, we've practiced for a couple hours each day and went from decent to good to very good, developing chemistry very quickly and going undefeated in that time. Everything was looking great for Satuday, but then something happened.


On a drive for a runner in the lane, I landed on someones foot and heard a pop sound as I went down with a scream. Just a quick scream, not like the time in college when I was playing with my friend Jen and eight others in a full court game and I screamed for what must have been five minutes after rolling it. No, but this time was not good either.

I'm not one to miss events I plan for, but who knows what condition my ankle will be in. I've been ingesting Advil, elevating and icing my ankle, and resting since I got back, but it's pretty swollen and it absolutely sucks to walk on. However, as Colver knows I sprain my ankle more than any other person on the planet so, if anything, this will be good for me because it actually corrected my status of not having my ankle messed up. Am I clumsy? Perhaps.

Most of it is my fault, as I refuse to wear high tops even though they are designed explicitly for that purpose.

The point is I am my worst enemy, once again. Let's hope my stupidity doesn't keep victory away from the Drunken Cowboys (sporting edition), as I'd be pretty upset if that happened.

The Pull List

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

For those looking for a Capitalist Pig Tuesday post, sorry! This week had a couple of interesting releases (namely Coldplay's very good Viva la Vida and Wolf Parade's At Mount Zoomer) but I honestly was a bit too busy to write it. But you didn't miss much because I'm guessing I would have been one of the infinity billion people blogging about one of those two albums (specifically Mount Zoomer, Coldplay is too mainstream to generate a lot of blog power and Wolf Parade is just edgy enough).

So I'm joining you again with the second edition of my weekly comic recommendation post: the Pull List! I have three single issue recommendations this week, along with an extra special trade paperback recommendation. Enjoy!

Book of the week: Wolverine #66 - Written by Mark Millar, pencils by Steve McNiven

Millar. McNiven.

I should be able to write those two names and that would pretty much sell the issue, but that would actually be underselling the issue. After Jason Aaron and Ron Garney's exceptional arc on the title (Get Mystique!), I figured it was unlikely for anything to overshadow it any time soon, regardless of the follow up creative team.

But I was wrong, as Millar's distinctive style currently on display in Kick-Ass and Marvel 1985 was replaced with an extremely interesting take on the future of the Marvel universe and some very not-Millar like scripting. Not in a bad way, but in a "damn, he really kicked it up a notch on this one didn't he?" sort of way. His handle on Logan and vision of his future is truly original and gripping.

Not to be outdone, Millar's Civil War partner-in-crime McNiven predictably delivers ho hum, "I'm one of the two best superhero artists around these days" pencils, proving that he doesn't need an action scene to make you crave what he provides. This book would be easily understood without any words at all, and that is a huge compliment to the phenomenally talented McNiven.

Part 1 of "Old Man Logan" is an out-and-out success, and we could be looking at one of the beginning of one of the best Wolverine arcs ever. 'nuff said.

Favorite title release of the week: Ex Machina #37 - Written by Brian K. Vaughan, pencils by Tony Harris

Brian K. Vaughan is my favorite writer ever, and that is a hell of a thing because Garth Ennis is pretty much a god to me. Anything he writes is a must buy for me, and Ex Machina (his one remaining ongoing title) is quite simply one of the best books on the market these days. I could go on and on about BKV, but it has all been said. He has one of the freshest and most original voices in comics, and that stands out all the better on his creator owned work such as Ex.

Tony Harris of course brings back his photo referenced style of art that is constantly pleasing and always interesting, and the two work extremely well together...as they should after working on the series together for the entirety of the run.

This arc is however a bit of a slow one so far, as we're getting a very spread out story featuring all of the main characters getting not a lot of face time and a fairly decent amount of story time dedicated to the anti-hero character who is working as the protagonist for this arc. Really, this series is at its best when Mitchell Hundred is the focus and is in nearly every scene. I trust BKV, but I'm a bit hesitant to rave about this particular issue. A solid release that is assuredly one of the best releases this week, but a bit of a step down from previous issues.

"You shouldn't miss it, but probably did" book of the week: RASL #2 - Written and illustrated by Jeff Smith

Jeff Smith's Bone series has been one of the most popular stories in the comic medium over the past few years, as its single volume collected edition has turned it from a cult sensation in the 1990's (along with the best thing ever to be published in Disney Adventures magazine) to a cornerstone in young adults reading lists.

RASL is Smith's creator owned follow up that series (he also made Shazam!: The Monster Society of Evil, but that was obviously based off existing characters) and I really didn't know what to think of it going into this issue. Issue #1 was interesting, but it was fairly confusing and chose to accept that readers knew a lot that we clearly did not, given that it was the first issue. Also, it was sigifnicantly darker than previous Smith works, which isn't a crime but felt rather jarring.

However, my mindset settled in for this issue and so did Smith, as the second issue is light years better than the first. We get development, a better grip on what is happening, and a far more interesting rendition of the main character RASL. Smith's pencils are the stuff of legends and clearly his style once again, but that leads to my main complaint about the issue: RASL and his lady friend are supposed to be super sexy but both sort of look like children/teens. Of course, that is an ongoing issue for Smith (I blame the height scale of his characters), but it's true and a bit of a distraction when we are attempting to believe that these two are old enough for what is going on within the pages.

Small complaint and not something that is going to change, but it definitely is one thing that bothered me in the issue. A big step up though, and I am getting even more interested to see where this series is headed.

Trade paperback recommendation of the week: Y the Last Man book 10: Whys and Wherefores - Written by Brian K. Vaughan, pencils by Pia Guerra

Here. Here. Here. Here.

Those are just four of the times I've written about Y the Last Man on my blog. Given a while to reflect, I'd say it's my co-favorite series of all time with Garth Ennis' and Steve Dillon's Preacher, and this is the last chapter of the story. For those that have been reading in trade form, get on that. For those that haven't been reading it at all, shame on you. Get out there and get that whole series, and that goes for everyone. This is about as good as it gets in the comic book medium.

Get your dancing shoes on

Girl Talk, aka Gregg Gillis, at Musicfest NW

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh yeah! In a surprise announcement today, Girl Talk's label Illegal Art said that the dance party inducing artist has completed work on his new album. When will it be released?

Tomorrow on their website, using the Radiohead concept of "free if you want it to be." However, if you pay, you'll receive bonuses (artwork, physical copy, etc.) at a later date.

Count me in, as Girl Talk's Night Ripper is the single best party CD ever made (take that Jock Jams 5!!!) and I love it to death. Can't wait to throw down some serious dance parties this weekend in its honor, as it is going to be stupendous.

It's business time

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

I can't believe I forgot to mention this!

A while back, Amy and I got on a kick of creating a resume/cover letter writing business and selling our services to the greater Anchorage area for a nominal fee. This business (2 Hermanos and Better Letter were our two most frequently used names) ended up not making us much of anything. Actually, due to our intense coffee addictions and the fact that we solely worked at Kaladi Bros., I'd say it cost us money. After all, our only customers were friends and family members in need, and we did not charge them.

However, we did have one client who would pay us if his son got a job using our letter, and while we can't prove that our letter was used we were paid no less. Amy and I are $40 richer! Big money! Not a huge amount of cash but pretty awesome if I do say so myself. Now we just need a steady stream of customers and we'll be on our way to being a real business. I'm very happy for the one customer we successfully helped - helping you ended paying for my coffee for a little over a week.

As you may know, coffee is serious business.

Favorite albums of 2008 (so far)

Monday, June 16, 2008

For our next big list, Sheri and I are churning out a mixtape version of our favorite songs of all time, with a 20 song tracklisting encompassing our musical tastes for all time. However, because that is such an arduous affair and neither of us really had time to work on it, we're taking a break from our list comparison event. Instead, this week I'll do another list I'd been intending to get to: my mid-year favorite albums of 2008.

Once again, these are favorite albums of the year, not necessarily best...whatever exactly that would entail anyways. I also only included seven albums, as these are the only albums that have been released so far that I think can legitimately make my end of year list.

Also, check out my muxtape of my favorites along with assorted other tracks I enjoy here, all for your listening pleasure.

1. Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground - Self Titled

Favorite track: Birds (On a Day Like Today)

Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground is the brainchild of soon-to-be indie rock god Kirk Huffman (former bassist of my favorite band Gatsby's American Dream) and Kyle O'Quin (keyboardist from Gatsby's self titled album), and for a child of the 90's, this album gives me a little piece of what it was like to live in the 60's.

It's psychedelic rock at its finest, at times jammy, dreamy, and grandiose as all get out, it was my most anticipated album of the year coming in and blew me away even after I got my hands on it. Lyrically bizarre but told through gloriously sweet vocals brought to you by Huffman, the true star of the album is the dense soundscapes the band creates with a massive amount of instruments. To say they are original doesn't cut it, they make music like no one else does today.

To seal the deal, I saw them at Sasquatch and they played half the album in stellar fashion, both perfecting and reinventing the sound brought on the album within the same performance.

This band should be in every music aficionados regular musical rotation, and I can't wait for more of the world to bask in their glory. Blow minds baby, indeed.

2. Tokyo Police Club - Elephant Shell

Favorite track: Tesselate

This is an album I've already raved about within my blog here, but I'd like to emphasize once again how superb this debut is. I was a fan of their A Lesson in Crime EP and I saw them at Bumbershoot last year, but I felt as if they had a chaotic energy that would be better suited if focused in a more structured sound.

With Elephant Shell, they did that to a stunning degree, channeling all of the talent that poured out of them into eleven tracks of sheer rock gold. My most listened to album this year so far.

3. Vampire Weekend - Self Titled

Favorite track: M79

I'm unsure as to whether or not anyone who reads blogs has heard of this band. They've received absolutely no hype whatsoever.

Oh wait, nevermind...they are the most hyped band so far this year by far. I get confused sometimes.

However for once, the hype is worth it as this band's debut is a breath of fresh air. It recalls one of my favorite albums that my mom had me listen to quite often when I was younger (Paul Simon's Graceland) but at the same time, it is its own animal altogether.

It's brilliantly orchestrated and wonderfully simple, and frankly if we had one new artist (alternately forward thinking and respective of the past) like this band ever year the world of music would be a very better place right now.

See what I said about this album before here.

4. Death Cab for Cutie - Narrow Stairs

Favorite track: You Can Do Better than Me

I know, I know, as recently as this blog post, I said that this was my favorite album of the year. But that was over a month ago. I mean come on, how can you expect me to maintain my opinion for that long?

Truth be told, I still say it's Death Cab's best album yet. Its a very well put together album that reaches new heights for the band while taking them in directions they had yet to go before, while still providing the same thing we'd expect from a Death Cab album. However, it is a very tough year and the three above this album could not be denied.

5. Jamie Lidell - Jim

Favorite track: Wait for Me

This album I'd say is the most unexpected of any on my list. I'd never had any experience with Jamie Lidell, his type of music isn't really my thing, and really, there wasn't a lot of hype behind this album.

But this is the most joyous of any album I've heard so far this year. Lidell brings back the fun and impassioned singing that I love Motown for and layers it upon incredibly catchy piano and drum based beats. This album is designed to get your toes tapping and to get you singing while you drive.

This is the feel good hit of the summer, except it is just me that is treating it like that. Not only that, but it gets better with every spin.

See my original write up about this album here.

6. Styrofoam - A Thousand Words

Favorite track: Bright Red Helmet

I just picked up this album recently after hearing "Bright Red Helmet" on UAA's college radio station KRUA (88.1 = best station in Anchorage), and before then I hadn't even realized this high quality electronic outfit was releasing a new album. I'd been a big fan of their previous album, but I must admit, this one may be even better.

This album has less well known guest stars than 2004's Nothing's Lost (come on, that album featured Ben Gibbard and Andrew Kenny), but makes up for it with songs that are more well put together and instantly catchy. While Styrofoam never reaches the same high they did with Nothing's Lost's standout track "Make It Mine," the new album is more consistently engrossing and the overall performance of vocalists are superior.

For fans of the Postal Service and glitchy electronic indie pop, this one is highly recommended.

7. Islands - Arm's Way

Favorite track: In the Rushes

I went on and on about this album in this post, but I just want to say once again that this band really took a big step in my eyes with this album. Islands were another band that I thought were too chaotic to ever really become a favorite of mine, but they tightened up their sound and really released an exceptional album.

Plus, there is a partial cover of one of my favorite tracks off the Rushmore soundtrack on the album, which earns them major kudos.

There you have it. My favorites to date, and listed below I have albums that need more spins but could get on there, honorable mentions, and releases I'm very interested in that I haven't had a chance to explore yet.

Need more spins: M83 – Saturdays = Youth, Coldplay – Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends

Honorable mentions: My Morning Jacket – Evil Urges, The Raconteurs – Consolers of the Lonely, Flight of the Conchords – Flight of the Conchords, The Mars Volta – Bedlam in Goliath

Haven't listened to yet: The Hold Steady – Stay Positive, Portishead – Third, Ghostland Observatory – Robotique Majestique, No Age – Nouns, Someone Still Loves You, Boris Yeltsin – Pershing, Wolf Parade – At Mount Zoomer, Fleet Foxes – Self Titled

The Weekend Edition

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Another great Alaskan weekend has flown by, with this one being a bit more diverse than other ones I've went through so far. What went down this weekend?

  • A random dude wading in Westchester Lagoon finding my beloved driver and giving it back
  • Driving to Ninilchik Friday night on 3 hours of sleep, powered by americano and the best summer mix ever
  • Staying there with parents in an awesome motorhome
  • Going halibut fishing and being ridiculously successful (or prolific at least)
  • Getting back to Anchorage from Ninilchik in 2 hours and 45 minutes - booyah
  • Partying downtown with a mish mash of the Crewnit
  • Finishing off season 3 of How I Met Your Mother with Amy
  • Seeing 21 at Bear Tooth
  • Bstar Glac proving that it still stands head and shoulders above the rest of TV

A somewhat lighter weekend than usual due to the fishing trip, but a good one no less. The primary focus this week will be on the trip itself.

View from campground we were staying at in Ninilchik

The trip was the big event from the weekend, and it was really nice having a change of pace in there. As much fun as it is to do the same thing every weekend, every once in a while doing something like this fishing trip is a very good. Considering it was Father's Day weekend (Happy Father's Day Dad!), it felt as if I absolutely had to go on this trip and I'm really glad I did. Especially because I had my first motorhoming experience, and I have to admit, it's awesome.

Me pulling in a ridiculously large Skate (fish)

The trip was alternately really relaxing and really tiring, as it was nice being out on the boat (despite my first foray into feeling seasick) but good god, pulling up 20 fish or so is TIRING! I can't even imagine how tough it would have been if I had actually gotten a single one worth writing home about, as we likely did not get anything bigger than 30 pounds. Still, it wasn't a trip for food - it was a trip to have fun and spend time with family.

My parents and I in front of our haul - light day, but fun

I really like fishing, I must admit, but I never get to do it anymore. I'm very glad I went, as even though the day started out pretty much dreadful (huge swells, rain, cold!) it ended up getting very nice out and I put my sea legs on fairly well after an initial inauspicious beginning. It was kind of tough making the whole thing work with my current vegan diet (although the concept of a vegan going fishing may boggle the mind), but I made it happen (thank you PB&J and Soy Crisps! You are life savers!).

Now that I've done it, I'm looking forward to making more outdoors events happen, from more fishing to BBQing to camping to hikes, gotta make it happen. We only have a short time of summer in AK, so I have to make the most of it while I have it.



I'm not going to go in to details, but the mid season finale for Battlestar Galactica was absolutely insane. So much happened in the walls of its single hour that it would encompass four or five episodes of a normal series. The final panning shot of the main characters was absolutely incredible, and one of the better shots I've ever seen (movies included).

I am stunned.

I have one overwhelming question from all the happened: what's next? So much happened, I have no idea what they'll do for the next 11 episodes, but god I can't wait to find out.

Of course I have to, because it's looking like it won't come back until 2009. *cry*

Avengers Assemble

Friday, June 13, 2008

Last night I caught the 12:01 AM showing of the new Incredible Hulk with Alex, Colver, and Nick, and it was a very entertaining flick and a far better rendition than Ang Lee's bizarre attempt from a few years back. Edward Norton was very good as Bruce Banner, the story was top notch, and they did a great job with Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth was exceptional as the villain). Not only that, but they set up the Leader very, very well as the future villain. So all in all, good job team Hulk. Now we just need to get our hands on the special edition Edward Norton cut (he had a 2.5 hour version that he wanted to release but was overruled by the studio).

Anyways, the main point of this post isn't to talk about the Hulk. As much as I liked it, I strangely haven't been that excited by Iron Man or the new Hulk film. Very good movies both, but they just haven't gotten my juices flowing like when I first saw X-Men or Batman Begins. However, one part of the Hulk did - the "Thunderbolt" Ross/Tony Stark meeting. Good god, I want the Avengers movie now!

What Marvel is doing in creating their comic universe on the silver screen is absolutely incredible, and it really gets my fanboy self up in a tizzy. Now, if they don't screw up the whole thing by casting Matthew McConaughey as Captain America and by ditching Jon Favreau as the guiding light behind Iron Man, we'll be A-OK. With that said, there's only one way to end this: make mine Marvel!


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Today I ran into someone I hadn't seen in quite sometime. We both had double takes, I said "hey, how's it going?" She responded with the standard "good, and yourself?" The average person would strike up a normal conversation given this situation, but of course I'm not normal. I immediately respond with "do you remember who I am?"

She did, but that's not the important part of the story - I do that a lot. I always think people I haven't seen for some time have no clue who I am, and 99 times out of 100 they think I'm an idiot for even bringing that up as a possibility. And I am an idiot, because I can never just choose the option that would take me to "fun conversation" instead of "awkward conversation."

I swear, given any situation and the infinite amount of possibilities laid out for my selection, I almost always choose the most ineffective or most strangely offensive option (this really explains why I don't have a girlfriend). Some would call it a gift, others would call it a curse. My good friend Amanda would call it my shocking lack of tact.

I call it me being me. I'm ridiculous, but I guess that's part of my charm.

The Pull List

What's that? Another weekly regular occurrence? I can hardly believe it - three weekly segments on my blog now, with this one being all about a favorite of mine, and a favorite of yours as well I'm sure - comics. Within this segment I'll pick a couple favorites from my weekly pull along with a random pick that may have slipped through the cracks.

Definitely won't be interesting to everyone, but I love comics so this is what you're going to get!

Co-book of the week: The Goon #25

Back in March, I threw down a review for the first OGN related to this series called Chinatown and pretty much raved about the series. As well I should, as Eric Powell's bizarre series is one of the best ongoings on the market today. This week we see our boy the Goon at a crossroads: leave his home and find happiness perhaps, or stay and protect his friends (he's the only hope for the town) and live a miserable existence. Harder question than you'd imagine to answer, as the character for all his toughness is ultimately a good guy and doesn't want people to suffer because of his actions.

This continues the path of seriousness that Powell has taken this once off-the-wall and frequently laugh out loud series down, and as much as I loved it before, it may be actually better since he restarted releasing the series. The story has progressed more in the past five issues than it had in the previous 20, and we still get entertaining yarns and glorious art from Powell - I don't know what changed...a new colorist, new inker, new art style for Powell, but this book is one of the best looking things on the market right now.

Every comic reader should be on this book. It's a must read, and has been for the entirety of its run. This issue is a fine example of all the Goon brings to the table, but would not be good for someone who has not read the rest of the series.

Co-book of the week: Action Comics #866

Since directly after One Year Later finished (a five or six issue stretch that DC imposed upon all of their books after Infinite Crisis), Geoff Johns has been the creative mastermind behind Action Comics. While his run started off very well, a combination of pairing with Richard Donner for writing and Adam Kubert's incredibly slow pencils curbed any momentum the series developed. Finally, after more than a year, that arc ended and we were graced with a new member of the creative team: Gary Frank.

The Johns/Frank team is nothing short of a match made in heaven, as brilliantly exemplified in this issue. They've already recreated the magic behind Superman's relationship with the Legion, and now they're giving us a reborn Brainiac for the ages. Also, they're finally tackling the Clark Kent side of things, as we see Johns exceptional work of handling even the most mundane of situations is just as exciting as his action work.

So long as this book continues to be released on time, it will likely continue to be one of the best books DC is releasing (Vertigo not included) and even rivals the work Johns is doing currently on Green Lantern. Exciting things are afoot in this book, and now is the best time to jump on.

"You shouldn't miss it, but probably did" book of the week: Captain Britain and MI:13 #2

I'm a big fan of Paul Cornell's comic work. This Doctor Who series writer wrote one of my favorite mini's of the past few years with Wisdom, and now he's tackling a major Secret Invasion tie-in and handling the job better than some of the most seasoned comic vets. Cornell's writing on this book make this lowly American genuinely care for the British heroes desperately staving off invasion, all the while maintaining the wit and bizarre happenings that ran rampant in the Wisdom series.

Plus, Pete Wisdom is in it. I legitimately would buy anything if he was featured. The guy is awesome.

Capitalist Pig Tuesdays

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A very light load this week, as there are absolutely no viable movie purchases (or any other special category items as well). However, there is one high profile release this week that is definitely worth a gander, if you dare!

Album of the week: My Morning Jacket's Evil Urges

My Morning Jacket is a strange band to me. Many media outlets raved about them, bloggers could not stop talking about them, my mom absolutely adores them. And there I am, constantly wondering "what's the big deal?" I dug the instruments, especially on tracks like "One Big Holiday" and especially when performed on their live album Okonokos.

Then one day last month I was listening to my ipod at work and a song came on that caught my ear. It was "Off the Record" off their massively adored album Z. I was hooked, and since I've become a big fan of that album and the band overall. Just in time for the release of their new album Evil Urges.

Now if you listen to some reviewers, this album is the beginning of the end for the band. What do I think? As a fan of music, it's the first time I've listened to a MMJ album and thought "damn, this is good" right off the bat. As someone who recently got into the band and is now familiar with older material I think "it's a little different, but still good." Sure, tracks like "Highly Suspicious" are a bit off the beaten path. Sure "Thank You Too!" may sound like their attempt at a wedding ballad.

But they're all delightful tracks full of the MMJ spark, with the southern fried charm they add to the alternative rock formula being on full display on tracks like "I'm Amazed" and "Touch Me I'm Going to Scream, pt. 1," every bit as relevant and fantastic as they were on other albums. It's an extremely diverse album, with wildly different directions being taken from track to track. This in my opinion is not a crime, but is the sign of a band that doesn't want to be pigeonholed as any one thing, and of a band that doesn't want to settle into a groove (or rut, depending on your angle).

With all that said, I consider this album to be a out and out success for the band, and really shows their talent as musicians and as songwriters. At this point, their next release could be any genre and I wouldn't be surprised. That's a very rare sight out of a band these days.

Click here to stream the album, totally legal and free.

Favorite Guilty Pleasures

Monday, June 9, 2008

This week on Sheri and I's list day, we sort of cheat and don't really do a list. What we do is actually just present a multitude of favorites, because to be honest it'd be pretty hard to really rank what your favorite guilty pleasure is. I mean, is it the best thing that is a guilty pleasure? Is it the most embarrassing of all of them? What is it?

So instead, it's just a random group of things that we love that are not exactly industry standard, and generally things that a normal person would keep on the down low for loving. Of course, Sheri and I are not normal people and share whatever we love with everyone, but these are things that still draw ire and "seriously?" comments from the average person.

So without further ado, here is a link to Sheri's blog, and below are my favorite guilty pleasures.

Comics: I'm putting this one first because it's a strange choice for many different reasons. #1 - I love them quite a bit, and do not feel any sort of guilt about it. #2 - They've become quite popular, negating any of the negativity that used to come to them. #3 - Even if I did feel guilty about them, I have too damn many of them to possibly hide the fact that I have them.

I have 23 full long boxes at this point, with several hundred extras yet to be put away. To say I'm addicted may be an understatement. In fact, the one embarrassing thing about them is the fact that I have so many of them. Truth be told though, there was a time when I actually quit reading comics due to concerns of how people would think of me. I missed a lot of damn good comics because of that, and I'm embarrassed to this day of how I acted. Sorry comics! I'm glad you forgave me!

Hugh Grant romantic comedies: Generally, I'm a sucker for romantic comedies. At one point, my mom called me a "hopeless romantic" but really, who isn't a sucker for a happy ending? In specific, Hugh Grant romantic comedies really get to me, from the higher end works of his career (which has rarely left the comfort of the romcom) like Notting Hill and Love Actually, all the way to lower end materials like Mickey Blue Eyes and Nine Months.

I like it all, and good god, does it make me feel dirty sometimes.

Fatboy Slim's You've Come a Long Way Baby: There was a time that this wouldn't be a guilty pleasure, and this would be considered hip. Too bad for me the year for that was 1998, not 2008. No less, this album coming on my ipod randomly (in specific, massive hit "Praise You") was the inspiration for this list.

At this point, Fatboy Slim is received with a mixture of derision and scorn quite often, and frequently matched up against fellow "strangely popular bad bands that headlined music trends" like the Cherry Poppin' Daddies (seriously, that name was announced on the radio...and frequently) and Chumbwumba (they weren't even part of a trend, I just wanted to mention them). The difference between those two and my boy Norman Cook?

His music rules! I was terribly addicted to it my freshman year of high school, and when I hear tracks from it I hear the relentless mocking coming from those around me about it - but I also hear some seriously fat beats and catchy tunes. Rock on Fatboy, rock on.

Ridiculously bizarre 80's movies: Was anything normal in the 80's? Seriously? So much weird stuff came out of that decade, chief amongst the trends being the cult classic movies that came from it. Here's a quick lineup. Evil Dead? Check. The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension? Check. The Adventures of Baron Munchausen? Check.

If you ever caught these on cable, you'd quickly speed by and say something akin to "no way am I watching something like that!" Honestly, they look and sound ridiculous. I agree. But damn, they sure are entertaining! They feature crazy costumes, rock band super heroes, tree sex, and Jeff Goldblum in a ridiculous cowboy costume, and they are awesome from beginning to end. We could use a lot more of that type of creativity today.

Avril Lavigne's "My Happy Ending": This is the guiltiest of all my guilty pleasures. Well, probably.

No less, I consider myself a pretty decent music-phile who knows quite a few bands that your average music fan has not heard. Hell, I pride myself on the elitist mantra of "I liked them before they were big."

However, good god, this song has some sort of magical pull upon me. I hear it in Best Buy, and I find myself nodding my head and fighting urges to sing along. Sitting in a restaurant and it comes on the radio? Toe tapping and whistling along. It's the bane of my existence, but damn! It's so catchy! I can't help it. In the dreaded world of radio hits, we could use more of pop gems like this and less crap - yes Nickelback, I am looking directly at you and your very, very ugly lead singer.

Drama (aka Laguna Beach and the OC): I don't mean dramas. I love dramas, but I don't consider them to be guilty pleasures. No, I'm referring to the exquisite brand of drama that only stories coming from the county of counties (aka Orange County) can provide.

Sure, they're ridiculously cheesy and totally contrived (even you Laguna Beach, the "real" Orange County), but they sure provide some tasty drama and some incredible levels of unintentional humor. Of course, on typical occasions I would never, ever mention that I enjoy them because frankly, they are embarrassing. Embarassing, but delicious.

Bubble Boy: Ask 9 out of 10 people that have seen this movie, and they'll tell you that this movie absolutely sucked. I mean come on, it's a ridiculously cheesy and stupid comedy about a kid who loves a girl, but can't show her that because he's a bubble boy. When she leaves to get married, he has to chase her down in a bubble suit across the country to express his love. How could that be any good?

Very easily!

Ever since I saw this movie (I had seen October Sky and was a big fan of Jake Gyllenhaal, so I of course saw this) I loved it. Sure, it is all those things I said in the first paragraph, but the whole movie is ok with that. Every actor commits fully to their roles, every moment is taken up for all it can be - this movie does not waste a second. It takes what should be mediocrity and by god, it squeezes out awesomeness from the humble beginnings.

Well, that's what I say. Everyone else I know hates it...but there it sits on my DVD rack, nestled in between Cabin Boy and Buckaroo Banzai.

S.W.A.T.: This is what critics are referring to when they say "mindless summer action flick." It's based off a TV show from yesteryear, it's frequently flat out impossible (2 mile shot from a gun to take down a helicopter? don't worry...I got that), and it stars maybe the world's most hated leading man (Colin Farrell, come on down!).

But man, I saw this in theaters and thought it was entertaining. Then I randomly decided to buy it for $2.99 on a Black Friday one year, and have watched it roughly 200 times since. It is maybe the single most rewatchable movie ever made, and it gets slightly better each time. If it started out as a hair above average before, now it's stellar.

Sure, it may be everything that's wrong with Hollywood, but everything is awesome whenever it's on. I may actually be this movie's single biggest fan. Yay me?

Kids/Animated movies: This may be a revelation towards my maturity level, but if I was to have a movie marathon of the movies I get the most enjoyment out of, they'd likely be comprised of at least 50% kids and animated movies.

You like Unforgiven? I love Fievel Goes West. You like Field of Dreams? I love Little Big League. Odds are, if it's intended for 10 and under, I'll love it as well. I can't help it, I just love that stuff.

One of my strangest and favorite evenings during my summer vacations in college was one when my parents were out of town, and everyone I knew was tied up with other things. What'd I do? I made a couple PB&J sammiches, threw them on a Fievel Goes West plate, grabbed a huge glass of milk, and put in my old Fievel tape. It was glorious. I can't emphasize that enough. Did I mention that I was 20? I'm a sad, sad man...

First Flat Top hike of the "summer"

One of my favorite things about summer time is hiking, and living in Alaska I have many, many options within a very short distance. One of the best (meaning leisurely and great exercise, plus scenic as all get out) in town is Flat Top, which is a mountain that is probably the most popular hike in Anchorage. Amy and I already hit it up once this year, but considering today was a nice day I figured I'd take my first stab at running up it.

Running up Flat Top is something my buddy Matt and I started doing last year, and it's been a bit over a year since the first time when I ran it in 29 minutes and 53 seconds the first time through. By the end of the summer last year I was down to around 23 minutes, but that was a long time and many beers ago. Plus, last year actually had a summer that resembled a summer, as Flat Top was heavily marred by snow and mud all the way up.

However, even with those natural impairments to my path, I still made it up in exactly 30 minutes, and all the way back and forth in around 55 minutes. The way down was slower than usual because I have a natural aversion to death, and considering that the top of the mountain was a special fusion of ice and snow, I decided to slide down as if I was sledding...but you know, without a sled. All in all, it was a really good time and fantastic exercise, but I really, really wish it was nicer here so I could have hikes that didn't require me to tread through snow.

Oh well.

Fun fact though...side benefit to running up and down the mountain? When I was running down the stairs and coming out of a flat stretch at near full speed, I came upon a group of four people - two guys who looked like they were about to die and two really cute girls, one of whom stared at me with a mixture of "who's this hot guy?" and "why am I not hiking with him?" as I ran by with a hurried "hello!" Fannnntastic!

The Weekend Edition

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Ahhhhhhh yeah!!!!!!

That's the sound I'm making because it was the first weekend of the year for me that really felt like summer hit Alaska. That of course is a very good thing, because summers in Alaska are absolutely incredible and the best place in the world to experience them. I can never get enough of them, and even with the late start this time I still feel as if this summer is going to be all-time, to quote Amy.

What made this bad mamma jamma so rad? Let me count the ways...

  • Frisbee Golf fridays
  • Margaritas at La Mex
  • Bernie's outdoor patio, absolutely dominated by the Crewnit and the extended Crewnit
  • Dance party plus at the Anchor
  • Coffee with my sister
  • Roughly 13 naps - very necessary
  • Getting caught up on comics
  • Camping out at Eklutna
  • How I Met Your Mother redux
  • Doing all that while keeping it vegan

Really, in an extremely unsurprising trend revelation, the days were decent but the nights were spectacular. Friday night we had a massive posse pretty much take over Bernie's Bungalow Lounge downtown and it was a heck of a time, and it all came on the heels of a great round of frisbee golf where Colver and I tied at even and an hour or two at La Mex having margaritas.

On top of that, after Bernie's a smaller group (key conspirators: myself, Amy, Kim, Cate, Patrick, etc.) went to the Anchor and had a blast rocking the dance floor. Suffice it to say, there was a significant amount of the running man thrown down that night, along with a lot of me getting strangely low to the ground. Little known David fact: I can get very, very low while dancing. I may be secretly good at the Limbo, if anyone in fact still limboed.

The Crewnit with our driftwood wizard wands

Saturday night may have been even better though, as Colver, Lorna, Kim, Amy, Hannah, Jason, and I went out to Eklutna for a camping trip featuring Loaded Questions (and the absolutely ridiculous answers that went along with them - my porn star name = Sir Francis Drake Huffman, for example), the First Annual Crewnit Beach Tag Football Game (Eklutna Megabowl? Discuss.), Johnson family domination (Jason's brothers Eric and Michael came out), driftwood wizards, steamrolling up the ying yang, and fitting everyone (besides Amy, who was satisfied by staying outside) into Colver and Lorna's mansion tent.

My team from the Eklutna Megabowl - Hannah, myself, and Eric

Camping is always one of my favorite activities during the summer (along with hiking, it forms a fairly deadly duo), and I have a feeling there will be a lot more trips like this throughout the summer. Sadly, I missed out on the first camping trip of the year (where the legendary Perv Com was created) but I vow to not miss any others for the rest of the summer. Or at least that's what I say now, as sometimes things are out of my control.

Picture of the Crewnit from Estadia de Bonfire, aka Bonfire Stadium in Eklutna

We had a rocking good time, and Amy and I even made it through totally vegan - vegan italian sausages are surprisingly delicious, FYI. If we can make it through an Alaskan camping trip without eating any animal products, I'm fairly certain the both of us are going all the way. Hurrah for our incredible willpower I say.

#12 - Carnet de Voyage by Craig Thompson and #13 - Aqua Leung by Mark Andrew Smith and Paul Maybury

#12 - Carnet de Voyage by Craig Thompson
#13 - Aqua Leung by Mark Smith and Paul Maybury

Currently, I am simultaneously working through two legitimate books (aka not graphic novels) in Bill Bryson's Neither Here nor There and Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People, but while reading them I've been simultaneously reading many (many, many, many) comics on a weekly basis and the occasional original graphic novel. These two were finished back during my Sasquatch trip, but I never had the opportunity to write about them before now.

Also, I just want to say that I am resigned to the fact that I likely will not reach my 52 book goal for the year, but eclipsing thirty is still a very real and far more possible goal for myself.

No less, on to the books!

As some of you may have noticed, I've been on a bit of a Craig Thompson kick lately. First, one of my all-time favorite graphic novels in Blankets, then Good-bye Chunky Rice, and now Carnet de Voyage. The reason why is in terms of graphic novelists, I find him to be one of the most interesting, real, and visually intriguing of the whole bunch.

Now Carnet is a bit of an oddball, as it isn't really an OGN (original graphic novel for the uninitiated) but a travel journal that Thompson made while he was travelling on a signing tour through Europe and northern Africa (latter part was just visiting, not actually signing). Within the pages of this we just get a bit of insight into who he is as a person while also getting a view into what it's like to travel the world in this modern age of amber alerts and strained foreign relations.

Overall, it's an interesting if not somewhat repetitive read. It cannot compete with his other works, but as an unabashed fan of his visual style, I dug it. Thompson gets the opportunity to stretch his legs even more within these pages, as instead of needing to tell a story he simply has to journalize events which leads to even more creative layouts (I'm a huge fan of his layouts). Additionally, he gets to get into far more interesting landscapes and architecture, which allows him to really show what he can do in terms of intensive detail.

If interested in traveling and/or a fan of Thompson's artwork, definitely give this a shot. I enjoyed it, but I'm really big on both sides of that and/or equation.

Aqua Leung on the other hand is a far more successful venture as it is actually a story based OGN, thus having the inherent boost of having the structure (you know, beginning, middle, end...ish) that Carnet lacked.

This book is Mark Andrew Smith and Paul Maybury's very own rendition of the legend of Atlantis, and it is an extremely interesting interpretation and read. Although it starts a bit unfocused with a bit in the beginning with some sort of massive cosmic turtle who acts as the storyteller introducing us to the backstory and to the characters. Once we get involved with Aqua, the story really takes off and we're treated to a very fun romp where a young boy finds out that he is not just an ordinary kid but the savior of the kingdom of Atlantis.

Sure, it sounds slightly ridiculous, but it's very fun and has a big imagination to it. The visuals do take a bit to get used to, as I found them to be a bit cluttered at times and the coloring to be a bit overly dark. Midway through the book though the storytelling duo really finds their visual niche and the quality of art begins matching the quality of the writing, and the second half is far more interesting than the first because of that.

Aqua Leung was a very interesting read, but one major problem that I was unaware of going in is that it is secretly a part one. Or at least I hope so, as the story of Aqua was only partially told and there was no resolution in terms of Aqua's attempts to unify the kingdom of Atlantis.

Because of that, you have to be willing to wait for the completion of the story at a later, unknown date. The main problem with that is I'm unsure whether the completion of the story is really worth the wait in the same way that Bryan Lee O'Malley's Scott Pilgrim series or Kazu Kibuishi's Amulet series is. We'll see, pending further volumes. An interesting start, I just wish I knew it was only the first volume going in.

The Vegan Diaries, Day 5 - It's Showtime

Thursday, June 5, 2008

So the first inklings of road blocks have finally struck me in the great vegan challenge of 2008. As much as I hate to admit it, it's the absolute truth. What are they?
  • Events
  • Lethargy
  • Upset stomach

Up first, events. These are killing me. It seems like I have wall to wall events right now, from work lunches to work dinners, from BBQ's to camping. To put it more succinctly, I picked the worst time imaginable to do this. Every event comes with amazing food that is decidedly not vegan friendly, and it's a hell of a thing to not get involved with it. I mean come on, I love food. A lot.

However, I do want to go into a bit of detail about one of the events which made the whole thing go by easily - last night's Showtime dinner.

At my job, we have reps show up from networks and premium channels on a semi-regular basis to visit and schmooze and take us out to dinner and do trainings. Last night, Showtime (home of Dexter and Weeds) took myself and a group of coworkers out to dinner at Kincaid Grill, and it was absolutely awesome. As it always is with Showtime, because frankly in terms of coolness of reps there are two classes: Showtime and everyone else.

So I just wanted to say, thanks to John Stillson, Patrick (I didn't catch your last name man, sorry!), and Allison Weilbacher for the wonderful time out, and thanks for being really understanding about the vegan bet. Also, Allison, you had better come visit because we're going to miss you a lot at GCI. You're the best.

Back to the point of the vegan bit. Today two things really hit me - an extreme lethargic feeling and a really bad upset stomach. I felt sluggish, lightheaded, and generally ill at ease. Of course this could be a lack of sleep and any number of things to explain the stomach ache, but I get the feeling that it has more to do with the drastic change in my diet. Hopefully this won't affect me too badly, but I have to be honest: I miss meat. I miss milk. I miss cheese. Imagine what day 26 is going to be like! To note, I've specifically targeted day 26 as the worst day of the month. No idea why.

But I can do this. I will not let Amy win. No sir.

The Vegan Diaries, Day 3

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

I'm now three days into my fearsome competition with Amy, the competition of course being who can last the longest as a vegan? So far, so good for the both of us. Although Amy seemingly had a bit of a rough start (hunger pains? lock it up Steele), we've both made it this far and we even made an awesome dinner together tonight which was 100% vegan, delicious, and very filling. Plus we had vegan ice cream afterwards, and it was aces. On top of that, we watched some How I Met Your Mother which always brightens my day.

I had a feeling this wouldn't be too rough on me, but so far I like it quite a bit. I'm eating way more fruits and vegetables and strangely I feel as if my meals are far more diversified than they were when all options were open. How weird is that? No less, veganism? To this guy, it ain't no thang.

Favorite TV Shows

Monday, June 2, 2008

This week on "Sheri and David Present: Our Favorites" we have our favorite TV shows. This time, the rules are laid out like so: any type of show applies (meaning mini-series count), the show must have run at least 3 seasons or have been cancelled before it had a chance to complete its run, and once again, this is not best tv show. It's favorite.

TV is a fun subject because it was something I didn't watch a lot of when I was younger. Well...I did, but I didn't watch it like I do now. We're in the era of appointment television, although thankfully appointments that we can reschedule thanks to DVR's and DVD's and the internet. After all of that came together, I became far more into television, as you can likely tell from the period of time my favorite shows come from.

Here is a link to Sheri's blog - make sure to check her's to get a fun comparison of where we stand as people. I'll give you a hint - we're hugely different. No less, on to the list...enjoy!

1. Battlestar Galactica (Sci-Fi - Still airing - Midst of season 4)

I think I may have mentioned this show a few times (specifically here), but I just want to reiterate: I love this show. Sure it's Sci-Fi and is oft misconstrued as massively dorky (it's the name I swear), but secretly it's the best show on television - now or ever. With the most brilliant ensemble cast on TV (led by personal favorite James Callis), the best music (sorry Michael Giacchino, I choose Bear McCreary over you), and the most interesting story/writing, it's hard not to choose this as my favorite.

Which is why I did.

Get on this before it's all over, as we're in the middle of the last season. You'll want to be there when the last episode shows and we find out if our heroes make it to Earth.

2. How I Met Your Mother (CBS - Still airing - Headed into season 4)

Buh wha?! I just started watching this? How could this be my second favorite? What about Arrested Development?

What I love about this show is it is everything AD is but it also has a warm heart without getting sappy, it has characters who genuinely seem to like each other, and it has a very relatable story behind it - young people in search of love and happiness. As a young person who is nearing the same place these characters are, it's hard not to love watching it.

Also, it's absolutely hysterical, as the rapport between the cast leads to hilarious situations, fantastic banter, and comedy without words. Simple looks between the cast can lead to huge laughs. To note as well, this show secretly is the best on TV at picking songs that fit the situation they are in. That's a huge plus in my book.

3. Arrested Development (Fox - Unceremoniously cancelled after 3 seasons)

Just because I went with HIMYM as my second favorite does not mean I don't love AD any more. By all means, it absolutely does not. Arrested Development is the funniest show ever made, with whip smart writing, go for broke plot points (road trips to Iraq? having one night stands with blind women? hooking up with cousins? this show will go anywhere), and my favorite cast of any show ever.

It also features one of my favorite characters ever - George Oscar Bluth, also known as Gob. This role is played by Will Arnett, and the man crafted one of the best and strangest characters in television history. He simply appears on the screen and I start laughing. Everything he does, from giving himself a roofie so he would forget that he has a son, to his puppet Franklin, to traveling everywhere on a segway, is comic gold.

These are some of the reasons why I love the show so much. Now with the likelihood of a movie increasing every day, I'm getting more and more excited every day and may have to revisit my DVD's soon to get back with the Bluth family, as it has been too long.

4. Lost (ABC - Still airing - Headed into season 5)

Oh Lost. You're so enigmatic. I'm sure that would make Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse (the showrunners) very happy to hear, but that is both the reason why it's so high on the list and why it finishes behind the other 3. It's high points are as high as any other shows, but the frustrations behind never receiving answers and constantly receiving new questions takes its toll.

With that said, it's one of the most well acted shows on television, featuring two of the most top notch performances on television today by Terry O'Quinn (personal favorite Locke) and Michael Emerson (is he good? is he bad? do we care?...Benjamin Linus) and one of the best scores on television by up-and-coming composer Michael Giacchino. The massive plot is perpetually intriguing, and every hint of an answer we get is absolutely delicious. Also, the direction (especially by Jack Bender) leads to one of the best looking shows around as well as one of the most cleverly shot ones.

I just wish we could get more answers, and I wish I had a better feeling about where the show is going as it heads into season 5. I grow increasingly concerned that they may have painted themselves into a bit of a corner, but that remains to be seen. I have faith, but they have two more shortened seasons to tie up a lot of loose ends. Good luck to all involved.

5. Band of Brothers (HBO - mini-series)

Band of Brothers was a mini-series created by Saving Private Ryan cornerstones Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg that told the story of Easy Company of the 101st Airborne Division of the US Army. It follows the entire company from basic training before World War II all the way to the completion of the war, and it is the greatest war story ever told in my opinion.

It's everything Saving Private Ryan gave us, with incredibly visceral scenes of war, very faithful depictions of the comraderie between soldiers, and haunting recreations of the settings of the war, but extended to a ten episode series. With a cast headlined by de facto main star Damian Lewis (whose Winters is the heart and soul of the series), this is an absolute must watch by anyone and everyone.

6. Seinfeld (NBC - 9 seasons, lived a full life)

I think perhaps the most amazing aspect about this show (besides perhaps the hilarity and its effect on pop culture) is the fact that this show about "nothing" can be used in relation to so many situations in so many people's lives. I regularly have conversations with people at work about how things in our lives sync up so well with the Seinfeld crew.

No less, this really is a show about nothing. All it is about is the day to day lives of four friends who live in New York City, where they live out their lives as massively self-absorbed and generally loathsome people. Loathsome, but hysterical representations of the id in everyone as they do and say everything we want to - we just don't because we're not as quick witted or malicious. Legendary, to say the least.

7. Veronica Mars (UPN/CW - Unceremoniously cancelled after 3 seasons)

Another of my favorites that suffered an untimely and early death, Veronica Mars is a show famous for a few things. Season long mysteries? Check. Incredibly self-reliant and amazing lead? Check. Dense plots weaving many threads together, from many different sources in terms of characters and time? Check.

Regardless of what others say, this is a show you can enjoy without watching the whole thing. It's just highly preferable that you don't go that route, as the central mysteries provide the driving force behind the series. Well, that and Veronica herself, as played by Kristen Bell. Bell is the show, as she appears in nearly every scene and is one of the best characters ever in my opinion. She's funny, smart as hell, and always a step ahead of everyone - including the audience.

It's funny and ridiculously intriguing, and this is a mystery based show that I can assure you provides answers. Satisfying ones at that.

8. Wonderfalls (Fox - Unceremoniously cancelled after...part of a season)

This one was axed faster than every other show on my list. Truth be told, I think it only showed four or five episodes before being killed. However, the creator of the show Bryan Fuller (of Pushing Daisies and Dead Like Me fame) and the cast had made most of the series already and wrapped it up in a very satisfying fashion, all in 13 episodes.

Probably the most bizarre series ever, it's about a girl named Jaye (Caroline Dhavernas) who starts seeing inanimate objects come to life. Not only that, but they tell her to do things. Not evil things of course, but things that end up being helpful to those around her and ultimately helpful to herself (even if they don't seem that way at first).

No less, it's ultimately a very funny and touching love story with a wonderful ensemble cast (especially the ridiculously precious Dhavernas and Lee Pace as her brother), and in my opinion is Fuller's best work. Once again, this just goes to prove that people need to give shows more of a chance. Maybe if they did, we could still be watching this show instead of trash like the Moment of Truth.

I'm just saying.

9. Firefly (Fox - Unceremoniously cancelled after...part of a season)

I can't believe it! Another awesome show cancelled too soon by Fox? It's like there is some sort of trend here.

This show was created by geekdom's reigning king, Joss Whedon (of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame). It's best described as a sci-fi western, and within its 15 episodes Whedon manages to create a dense and full 'verse for our very eyes. Our guides to that 'verse are the crew of Serenity, a ship perpetually on the run from Alliance forces and consatantly in turmoil, all of whom are very well acted and well developed within the series.

My favorite (and hopefully your favorite) is Captain Malcolm Reynolds, as played by Nathan Fillion. This character personifies the show as a whole, a scoundrel in the vein of Han Solo, he's the ultimate badass with a heart of gold type. He's another of my all-time favorites, and that character single handedly made me a huge fan of Fillion.

The show is an extremely entertaining romp following the crew as they try to survive and to help solve the mysteries they've inadverently gotten involved in. This show was cancelled extremely early as well, but at least we received some resolution within the movie Serenity and the comics Whedon has since written. Still, another one that went away too early.

10. Futurama (Fox - Unceremoniously cancelled after 4 seasons, straight-to-DVD releases still coming out)

Matt Groening's greatest creation.

I said it.

Better than the Simpsons, this cartoon about a normal guy from today who inadvertently is cryogenically frozen for 1,000 years is one of the funniest shows ever created and maybe the most rewatchable one as well. It also is strangely heartfelt as well, as the episodes about main character Fry's dog (Jurassic Bark) and what happened with his brother (the Luck of the Fryrish) are still very funny, but also beautifully sad.

No less, stellar show that is on Cartoon Network constantly and is still having straight-to-DVD movies released, so it still technically lives. But it was killed before it was done by Fox, although it did get four seasons out of the deal.

Honorable mentions:

Sports Night: Cancelled after three seasons, this was the last cut of the list. Aaron Sorkin's best work in my opinion, very funny, very smart, and hits the drama in all the right parts. Plus it's about a Sportscenter like TV show. I mean come on...how can you go wrong there?

Jeopardy!: Favorite game show ever. It's all about trivia, which I absolutely love as well. I even tried out for it last year, but to no avail. Apparently I'm not intelligent enough for it...yet.

The Office (USA): I'm talking about the version with Steve Carell and Rainn Wilson that is heading into its fifth season on NBC. This show captures the workplace very well, although it enhances it quite a bit with the sheer insanity of the work by the two aforementioned actors, and the Jam situation - aka the relationship between Jim and Pam (John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer). Makes it better than the average bear, for sure.

Freaks and Geeks: Judd Apatow and Paul Feig's creation is genius in dramedy form, and it features an absolutely incredible ensemble cast (Jason Segel, James Franco, and Seth Rogen...feel free to bow). Captures what it's like to be in high school very well, while also giving us a very funny slice of life of the outcasts of the world.

The Price is Right: I haven't watched this since Drew Carey took over, but when Bob Barker ran the show, this was a daily watch for my friends and I in college. I'd kill to play Plinko, although when I went down I missed my opportunity. Maybe someday...