A Slice of Fried Gold

The Dark Horse rises (aka Alaska is on the map!)

Friday, August 29, 2008

Governor (Vice President?) Sarah Palin

In the shocker of shockers, extreme dark horse candidate Sarah Palin (current governor to my wonderful home of a state Alaska) was nominated as John McCain's running partner in the upcoming Presidential election. Count me in as ridiculously shocked, who knows what this is going to mean for McCain's chances and the landscape of the election as a whole, but one thing is for sure: this is a game changer. Palin's nomination puts something on McCain's side that he wouldn't have otherwise: buzz and surprise (not to mention a possible shift in women's voting).

Obama is already responding with rips about her small town origins, but anyone knows that is a strength heading in for her. I'm shocked, but I'm also kind of stoked because of her origins from Alaska and the University of Idaho like myself. The whole thing is just unreal.

Edit: Productivity in my office is next to nothing. Sarah Palin causes work stoppages! You read it here first!

Food One in Anchorage

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Popular comic creator and live art impresario/performer Jim Mahfood is in Anchorage for a signing, lecture, and live mural art demo. I've always liked the guys work, not my favorite style but it's definitely unique and he stands out amongst a crowd of other creators, and there is something to be said about that. I was at Bosco's getting books for the week and completely spaced that he was going to be there and forgot my Clerks books (amongst other Mahfood creations I own), but I got to chat with him for a bit and he seemed like a really good guy.

Today I caught his live mural art demo, and it was really cool. Essentially it's Mahfood making pieces of art live set to music, and you can see pictures from it below. The guys art is heavily influenced by music and grafitti, and you can definitely tell from what he was producing today at UAA. Thanks to UAA for bringing up a interesting and non-traditional guest to the state. Solid work there all!

Jim Mahfood working on his murals

Middle left mural

Far left mural

Queue and not U

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A line for the 3G iPhone

A couple weeks back I was discussing how to draw customers into a special store my company has opened for a major project with a coworker. We were bouncing ideas back and forth when I came up with the idea of creating fake lines to draw buzz to the store. My coworker laughed, but I was strangely jazzed by the idea so I got off the phone and went and told my boss. I prefaced it with "this may seem insane but I think it would work."

Against all odds she thought it was incredibly inventive and a likely to succeed idea, so we took the idea to the project manager as well. He loved the idea, and we quickly formulated the concept out for proposal.

Shortly thereafter, said project manager left the company and no one has discussed my million dollar idea since, but I still think it was a good idea and a rather hilarious one. I was just stoked because every once in a while I come up with something that makes me feel halfway intelligent and that was my mini stroke of genius lately.

The story doesn't end there though.

Apparently Orange/Apple had bugs in someone's office. Why's that? In Poland, the iPhone has simply not been selling. This is in the face of staggering worldwide sales (4.1 million to date) and tremendous levels of buzz. However, customers simply did not want to pay the hefty monthly charges. So Orange (think of them as Europe's AT&T) and Apple paid actors to wait in line, creating fake queues to generate buzz.

So essentially my month old idea was adopted by two of the biggest companies in the world. Not to toot my own horn, but apparently this guy has got this marketing gig down. Orange, I'd like my consultant fees in Euros please, and Apple, I'd like a 3G iPhone with a lifetime unlimited unlimited (meaning anything and everything unlimited) plan. Also, one of whatever your best Macbook is.

Not too much to ask considering I won you guys the wireless battle in Poland. Everyone knows Poland is the key to supremacy in Europe.

The Suffering of a Word Nerd

Monday, August 25, 2008

I'm a bit of a self professed word nerd. I pride myself on my ability to spell correctly and to use those words in sentences that are both conversational and technically accurate. Poor spelling is a very, very frustrating thing for me to see. In a recent article from Time however, it was revealed that the people who should be the ultimate sticklers about spelling are not only forgiving these transgressions but encouraging them.

"Making an Arguement for Misspelling" (their misspelling, not mine) is the title of the article, and it's mostly about a senior lecturer in criminology at Bucks New University in England named Ken Smith. Smith is said to see "so many misspellings in papers submitted by first-year students that he says we'd be better off letting the perpetrators off the hook and doing away with certain spelling rules altogether" He encourages the idea that words should not be labeled as incorrect, but rather be tagged as "variant."

To get this out of the way, I do like one concept that Smith proposes. He states that there is the tendency to overlook great ideas because of spelling errors, and that is an unfair situation to put intelligent people in. I agree that you should not look past these ideas, however the care to spell correctly can not be underrated.

This may seem overboard to some but when I think of the path this article could take us down I think of the movie Idiocracy. While the movie overall is flawed (but still good), it is great conceptually (somewhat like the great ideas masked by poor spelling, perhaps?) and the primary concept behind it is this: what if the dumbing down of America continues on its current trajectory? It hypothesizes a world full of morons, where simple tasks (such as feeding plants water instead of a knock off of Gatorade, regardless of how badly the plants crave electrolytes) are made near impossible.

If we start down this road then what is next? Sentence structure being deemed unimportant? School being thought of as an overrated concept? Why encourage people to strive for mediocrity? To me, it seems like this is the most surefire way to bring the degradation of our language as a whole. Granted, it isn't a flawless language, but it's ours and we should treat it right.

As a fan of the written word, I do not want to think of a future highlighted by criminally misspelled articles and horrendously written stories. That isn't a very savory thought to me, and I really hope this is not something that catches on. Shame on Time and the writer of the story (Laura Fitzpatrick, you're suspect) for encouraging it by giving this concept the time of day. This type of thinking may seem harmless, but it is the type of thing that could lead in other directions quickly.

Next thing you know, we'll have a Secretary of State sponsored by Carl's Jr. and the number one TV show in America will be a show off the Violence Channel called "Ow! My balls!" Then we'll look at Mike Judge like some sort of freakishly prescient genius.

Or maybe not. But I think you get my point.

The Weekend Edition

Sunday, August 24, 2008

This weekend was another very calm, very pg rated one once again. Which is perfectly fine, because I had an absolute blast, but for those looking to hear about my tawdry activities in local Anchorage bars and the shenanigans that frequently ensue, you're not going to get them. What are you going to get?

  • Tropic Thunder with Colver and Lorna
  • A ridiculously delicious dinner at my parents with my parents, my sister and niece, and family friends
  • Gyming it up (on the weekend? no way!)
  • Hannah and David's grand adventures (including: lunch at Snow City, dinner at Bombay Deluxe, going to and walking out of the trash that was Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas at Bear Tooth, lots of shopping, watching the gold medal game for men's basketball - GO REDEEM TEAM!!!, and much, much more)
  • Bagging and boarding what felt like infinity comics
  • Going rafting with Kim and my parents

The highlight of the weekend was going whitewater rafting for the first time ever.

My dad, mom, myself, and Kim - I seem freakishly huge

Recently I've been trying all kinds of new outdoorsy activity. I always like the outdoors, but for some reason it always just doesn't happen. I just never seem to go out and do things of that variety. However, with kayaking and skeet shooting finally going down, this weekend I got to try what I really, really wanted to do in rafting.

It was an absolute blast! I had the best time at Lion Head with the fantastic guides from Nova. It would get up to class III and class IV rapids on that run, and it was super cold but my god was it invigorating and an absolute blast. It's just such a unique sensation rafting down a river, going through absolutely treacherous water with people around you nearly falling out at all times.

Even though it was incredibly cold (because this is Alaska) no one's spirits were down. It was sort of like a rollercoaster, where I'd find myself yelling intensely, except not out of fear but out of raw emotion. Sort of a mix of every emotion I could muster into one yell, but one that came out as pure joy when it was all said and done.

I had a fantastic time, and I was so glad I got to share it with my parents and Kim. Now I can't wait to go again, and already discussed a little about going down to visit with Kim and go on a trip with her family where the water is actually warm. I've heard of this "warm" river water business, but I assumed it was just a legend, like unicorns or Sasquatch (Sassy to some). Kim assures me it is not.

I remain skeptical.

The Unlikely Comeback

This isn't going to interest nearly anyone, but I had to write about it because I was extremely excited (so amped I tried to explain it to a not remotely interested Kim). About four weeks ago in my fantasy baseball keeper league I dealt off a lot of my primary players for bigger packages of younger players, hoping I could rebuild around a more balanced squad that had more potential and less centralized talent. After a year lost to injury after injury and following a year of sudden disappointment in the playoffs, I felt as if it was my only possible course of action.

Over twenty games out, about a month to go before the playoffs, and I looked like a non-factor for contention.

Then my pitching staff got it together and Melvin Mora and Mark DeRosa began their impersonations of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.

Four weeks later, against all odds I made a hellacious run through the league and made the playoffs on the final day. I was back six games (so I surmised through theoretical, current state math) going into the weekend and the guy I was behind dropped three games in his matchup and I gained 6 in mine. Bada bing, playoffs, here I come!

Of course, I win the right to play reigning league champion and all around powerhouse Sam Erickson, a good friend of mine who got absolutely lucky in beating me last year (either that or he paid off CJ Wilson to make me lose in the playoffs to him). One way or another, it's exciting times in the League of Champions. Let's just hope my team has a few more good weeks left in it.

I'm a lead farmer, mother******!!!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Robert Downey Jr. as Kirk Lazarus as Sgt. Osiris

Ever since I first saw the cast of Tropic Thunder, I knew it was going to be something interesting and entertaining at the very least. Then I saw the first picture with Robert Downey Jr. in blackface, and I knew it was going to be even moreso. Then the red band trailer came, and we had small asian children getting tossed by Ben Stiller and letting off wilhelm screams, Stiller playing Simple Jack, and Downey Jr. getting his Jefferson on, I knew we would have one of the most controversial and entertaining comedies around.

And I was right.

Tropic Thunder is a fantastic satire on Hollywood. It's raunchy, it's ridiculous, it's hilarious, and honestly, I'd be surprised if it wasn't mostly truthful. From the opening with the fake trailers to the ending with a special guest star bumping and grinding to Ludacris as the credits play, every single second was played up for a laugh. In a nearly two hour long movie, you'd think you would run into a lot of duds, but my face hurt afterwards from laughing so much. This is a truly hilarious movie.

It features what is a tie for my favorite line so far this year in any movie ("I'm a lead farmer, mother******!!!" which is tied with Pineapple Express' "Daewoo, bitch!"), top to bottom fantastic acting work (you name it, Jack Black, Jay Baruchel, Brandon T. Jackson, Nick Nolte, Stiller, Tom Cruise, Matthew McConaughey, and the unstoppable comic talent that is Danny McBride were all awesome), and one of the best comedic performances in I don't know how long by Robert Downey Jr.

An American actor playing an Australian method actor playing a black character who speaks a bizarro jive dialect heavily influenced by the Jefferson's and other pop culture. One who never drops the character even when in the most dire of situations. To say this acting job was fearless was an understatement. He became an overnight god because of Iron Man, he has the Oscar bait coming out with the Soloist, but if either gets anywhere near touching the performance he lays down as Kirk Lazarus, well, I'll be shocked.

This comes heavily recommended. Colver and I (not sure about Lorna) were pretty much dying the whole time. Also, remember: it's not offensive, it's satire. There is a difference, and the key to enjoying it all the way is to realize that one basic truth.

Alaska 1, Rest of USA 0

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Today it was announced that the Alaskan State Permanent Fund will be given (to those who are direct deposit) by September 12th. This is a pretty big deal for us Alaskan folk, as on a year to year basis we get pretty decent sized checks just for living here. This year? It's an exceptionally large check and we get an energy refund check.

Those two combine to give us Alaskans an estimated $3,300.

Ahhhhhhh yeah!

Already, my office and friends are discussing what they're going to spend their check on. Some are talking payments on new cars, exotic vacations and cruises, big TV's, providing the budget for their softball comedy movie titled Balls Deep. People have come up with a ton of things to do with their money and all are awesome ideas. What's mine?

Let me introduce you to the Vespa LX. It's a beautiful, classic styled scooter from the greatest vehicle manufacturer ever - Vespa. Able to reach up to 59 mph on highways, safer than ever, and ridiculously gorgeous, this little puppy is practically screaming to be mine. Why's that?

It comes in at exactly $3,299.

It's fate. It has to be. Our check is $3,300...this Vespa is $3,299. How can I not make it happen?!

Oh wait.

Alaska is cold as hell 8 months out of the year. Scooters are open air vehicles. I'm not insane.

Combine those three reasons logically and you have a fairly good reason as to why I wouldn't do such a thing. More than likely, I'll save most of mine for my eventual purchase of a small island off the coast of Italy (I know...boring). The smart play, I know, but it's how I roll. Intelligently, and with thoughts always on Mediterranean living.

Let's get it on?

At work, we always have to make sure that there is someone at the front in case someone comes in for a delivery or a meeting or something. Even though I no longer sit on that side of the building, sometimes the cards fall strangely and both people near the door have to be gone for a while and I have to cover anyways. Today was one of those days.

It was no big deal because I had to edit some pages on our internal intranet anyways and I could do that anywhere, and as long as I had music to listen to I'm pretty good with whatever I have to do. I just went to Pandora (an internet radio site that creates stations based off the artist/song you put in), put in Al Green and let the glorious soul wash over me as I worked. People would walk by and they'd jokingly call me Sharee (the person who normally sits there is named that) and I'd make jokes and go back to my business.

However, something a bit strange and coincidental happened while I was there. We have a fairly attractive VP and as I was sitting there I looked up as she walked around the corner into sight. She was walking to her office, but from the corner she smiled and I smiled back. At that very second, guess what came on?

Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On."

Could not have been better (worse?) timing as my smile evaporated and I quickly prayed to myself that the music was quiet enough that she did not hear it. She made it past, went into her office and nothing was said about it. I sighed, looked at my screen to see Marvin Gaye grinning at me and began to laugh hysterically.

If I only had a brain...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

As I've mentioned a couple times recently, I'm not in tip top shape in terms of health. Not weight wise (that's an entirely different story) but I've been sick lately. Hasn't been that big of a problem because I'm fairly good at overcoming that kind of thing, but in the mornings the last two days my mind has been really fuzzy. I've been really off my game and have definitely not been operating at my full capacity.

Want an example? Today I got in to work and I wandered over to my coworkers desk to tell him about how my coffee was dreadful the day before (I was heading out to get my daily coffee). As I stood there talking, I was internalizing how frustrating it was that my shoes felt like they were at different levels. "Did one of my legs grow while I slept? Am I standing funny? What's going on?!"

Turns out this morning I put on one of my black dress shoes and one of my brown dress shoes. Massively different shoes in size of lift, color, shape, everything. Yet I managed to get all the way to work and nearly an hour into the work day without even realizing that the shoes I was wearing were not from the same pair.


The Weekend Edition

Sunday, August 17, 2008

So I'm sick. Rather, I have been sick, I'm still moderately ill but I'm still forcing myself to do things. So this weekend was a bit calmer than usual, although still full with many superb highlights. What went down?

  • Suite 100 with my parents (delicious!)
  • The Mist in all its b movie glory
  • Rearranging my niece Emily's room and coffee with my sister
  • Frisbee golf (twice - once with Amy, Patrick, and friend, another time with Amy, Nick, and Colver)
  • Cross town bike ride in glorious weather
  • Melvin Mora turning into a modern day Babe Ruth
  • Jason's softball game with Amy, Hannah, and Annie
  • Moose's Tooth with Jason, Amy, Hannah, Annie, Nate, Michael, Eric, and Ben
  • Gymnastics with Amy
  • Turbo bar hopping with Amy
  • Colver and I participating in Suckout Central's Fantasy Football draft
  • Finally catching Vantage Point

So yeah, it was still a pretty busy weekend. The highlights definitely were the turbo bar hopping/gymnastics with Amy, both of which were incredibly entertaining, and Suckout Central's draft.

Suckout Central is a fantasy network (ish) started up by my friend Pat that yearly plays at least fantasy baseball and fantasy football with other sports mixed in from time to time. My first draft with them was last year's football league, in which I finished second, and Colver is in our baseball league so this was his second draft with the league. This was the biggest one I'd participated in as it was a fourteen team league, but overall I think I did well. Not only that, but I had a blast doing it. Live drafts are the only way to go in my opinion.

For those that are interested, my team (Bo Jackson All Stars) is below:

QB: Marc Bulger, Matt Leinart
RB: Joseph Addai, Willie Parker, LenDale White, Chris Johnson
WR: Larry Fitzgerald, Marvin Harrison, Santonio Holmes, Vincent Jackson, Ted Ginn, Jr., Jabar Gaffney
TE: Alge Crumpler
K: Rob Bironas
D: Arizona Cardinals

Not too bad if you ask me, and it was a great capper to a very good weekend.

Summer Lovin'

Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin during the awards ceremony

The Summer Olympics are in full swing right now, and there are headline driving events all over the place. Michael Phelps dropping a record eight gold medals on the world. The Redeem Team's quest for gold. Dara Torres and her last Olympic run. Usain Bolt's absolutely incredible victory in the 100 meter dash. All fantastic stories and thrilling events, with extra emphasis towards the wonderboy that is Phelps. However, nothing has captured my attention as much as one unexpected event.

Women's gymnastics.

That probably is unexpected. Well, it was rather unexpected for me as well, as I had no interest in watching it at all. Generally, I wasn't really getting into watching any of the events, but fate had other plans for me. Apparently Amy's TV/DVR stopped working and she happens to be really into gymnastics, so she asked me if I could record it. I begrudgingly agreed, and the next day she came over to watch.

I sat on my computer as she watched, but with every passing minute I started paying a bit more attention. After the team finals I was hooked, and last night Amy and I watched the recorded individual all-around before going out to the bars (because everyone knows there is no better way to pre-funk than to do it while watching gymnastics). Sometime last night it went from base enjoyment to sheer love, as it was incredibly entertaining both in actually watching it and in the limitless joke opportunities provided for us. It was fantastic.

Especially awesome were the two absolute bundles of joy, also known as Ksenia Semanova from Russia and Shawn Johnson from USA. They were both wondrously entertaining gymnasts and remarkably precious (they're both sub 5 foot - there were many jokes involving how I wanted to put them in my pocket and take them home with me made) and they genuniely seemed to enjoy what they were doing. That was in direct opposition to the robotic and seemingly underaged Chinese women's team and the extremely talented but icy Nastia Liukin.

No less, it was a blast watching with Amy and while at the bars we were aghast at our future without gymnastics. How terrible would that be? Turns out not too bad, as I turned on the TV tonight to find out that the individual event finals were now airing.

That's absolutely brilliant if you ask me.

Bird watching

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The man, the myth, the legend

2005 - Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Internship buddy: "Hey man, you should go to this show with me."
Me: "Who is it?"
Internship buddy: "Andrew Bird. He used to be in Squirrel Nut Zippers, but now he's just doing solo stuff."
Me: "Huh. Squirrel Nut Zippers? Like the swing band?"
Internship buddy: "Yeah, except it's nothing like that."
Me: "Well, I love a good show. I'll definitely go."

I didn't go.

September 2nd, 2007 - Bumbershoot in Seattle, Washington

Amy, Jason, and Hannah: "WOOOOOOOO!!!!"

We were drunk. Andrew Bird? Not so much, but we hardly paid attention to that. Or him, as he performed right in front of us at the Starbucks stage. I took in a couple songs by myself, but overall I missed the majority of it.

January 3rd, 2008

Andrew Bird's Armchair Apocrypha finishes 13th in my year end favorite albums chart.

I've had a strangely long history with Andrew Bird. He swings in and out of my life, trying to force himself to become a bigger part of my life but constantly being rejected by my bad decision making or alternative, non-music related interests. Even when I listened to him finally over the last year, I recognized him as a very talented musician but something didn't quite fit for me. He was great, but not for me.

In short Andrew, it wasn't you. It was me.

However, something happened. I don't know what, but I changed and one day his album Armchair Apocrypha started speaking to me. Next thing you know, he went from not even being in the top 50 of my most listened to artists in Last.FM to the seventh most listened to one and the second most listened to in the last three months.

While I was down visiting for Sasquatch and tomfoolery and hanging with Jorgy and Erik, Erik outright asked me "was Spoon really your favorite album last year?" I thought about it for a second and said "I can't think of any reason why that's changed, so yeah I guess so." That was likely true at the time, but now? It's a whole new ball game. Just for funs sake though and to give Erik a new perspective on what my musical tastes have diverted towards, here is my Top Five Albums of 2007 - Redux.

  1. Andrew Bird - Armchair Apocrypha
  2. LCD Soundsystem - Sounds of Silver
  3. Jens Lekman - Night Falls Over Kortedala
  4. Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
  5. Of Montreal - Hissing Fauna, Are you the Destroyer?

I cannot even imagine what a full thirty album list would look like, but I have a guess it would be wildly different. But no less, the point of this exercise is Andrew Bird is the man. I can't wait for his new album, and the mere fact that he himself is saying that he's incredibly impressed by it (as he says in his New York Times blog here) just gets me more excited.

Not bad for that guy from that swing band that used to be kind of popular in the 90's.

Not bad at all.

Reality Check

At this point, everyone and their brother has seen the Dark Knight. It has made slightly over $450 million dollars so far, making it the third biggest moneymaker of all time. It deserves it too, as plenty of crap movies make a lot of money and only really celebrate the lowest common denominator. It's a truly audacious blockbuster that doesn't pull punches and tells a great story very well. However, there is a point where enough is enough.

As of two days ago, according to IMDB (the Internet Movie Database for the uninitiated) the Dark Knight was now ranked as the single greatest movie of all time based off user voting.

The best movie ever.

Granted, at this point IMDB has been long known to cater towards fanboy frenzies leading to movies getting far higher ratings than they necessarily should have due to users stuffing the ballots with tens just because they are overly enthusiastic. At the same time, typically there is the counter balance of users whom are backlashing against the film, stuffing it with one ratings instead. This leads to an unrealistic representation of what moviegoers truly believe.

TDK has not met the same backlash as others quite yet, and you are not going to get that from me. What you are going to get is a tad bit of frustration, as I don't care who you are, there is no way it should be the best movie you've ever seen. The hype has just been so overwhelming that everyone buys into it being this end all, be all movie that it is not. Thankfully, it's dropped back down to number three behind the far superior Shawshank Redemption and the Godfather.

But still, at what point is there some sort of reconciliation between reality and the hype?

Hopefully soon, because I've still just seen it once and I'd sure like to see it again, minus the fake fanboys in the Joker makeup. I'd like to enjoy it for what it is, a great comic movie, a very good crime movie, and definitely one of the best releases this year so far.

Not the best movie ever by any means though.

Oh comic day...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Cover to Secret Invasion #5

I'm going to get back to doing my weekly column on comics called "the Pull List" starting next week, but frankly, this week was just too huge for me to do anything besides read, read, read. How many books were dropped in my pull this week (theoretically if I had the patience to let them get into my pull, as the employees of Bosco's are well aware of)?


Holy crap. That's the biggest week I've had in forever, and it follows a series of smaller weeks. To put it in perspective, on an average week I probably pick up 10 to 12 comics, if not a few more. When I buy them I organize them into three tiers (good, better, best if you will) and then read them from my favorites on down. The best category this week featured 13 comics. Thirteen! More than my total on an average week.

This included three awesome Dark Horse titles (BPRD: The Warning, Hellboy: the Crooked Man, and the Goon), Secret Invasion, Fantastic Four, the newest issue of the Batman R.I.P. story arc, the Walking Dead, and Warren Ellis' second issue of his Astonishing X-Men run. So yeah, it's a pretty big week.

The point is I went from reading absolutely no single issue comics (only trades) from around 2002 until 2005 (dates are fuzzy) to reading an absolutely astonishing amount. But it's cool, it's my biggest vice and my greatest addiction. I can't complain, and frankly, eight books in this week everything has rocked the house. I'm loving it, it just always kind of blows my mind when the stars align and there are just huge weeks like this.

I love it.

But my wallet doesn't.

Happy Birthday to the Boss!

Monday, August 11, 2008

No, it is not Bruce Springsteen's birthday. Even if it was, I would not be making a blog post about it because for the most part, I could care less about celebrity birthdays. However, it is the birthday of someone special, and that is Hannah "the Boss" Ross!

Happy birthday Hannah! I'm sad that you aren't up here to share it with the Crewnit, but I'm sure you're having a grand time down in Minn-uh-soo-tah with Jason, Lacey, and Kevin.

Congratulations to Lacey and Kevin!

Friday, August 8th in 2008, my good friend Lacey was married to her fiance Kevin in their lovely home of Minnesota (Minn-uh-soo-tah). Crewnit and Pervcom founding members Jason Johnson and Hannah Ross were there representing all of us, and are assuredly having a blast.

All I know is I'm envious and am incredibly happy for Lacey and Kevin. You guys are a great couple and will have lots of great times together as husband and wife. Plus, as I said in your card Lacey, you get bonus points for marrying a guy who likes comics. How cool is that?

No less, congratulations to the both of you! You two are wonderful together.

Links! News! Music! Oh my!

I've been reading a lot of things lately that I wanted to comment on, but instead of writing individual blog posts about each, I'm just going to write mini-posts about each because they are not worthy of full post status. Sorry tidbits, you don't get a full post, but you do get mention so yay for you!

Onwards with the information!

  • Gregg Gillis, aka Girl Talk, has announced that he plans to play his final show on December 21, 2012 (the last day in the Mayan calendar and what some say will be the last day of the world). Not only that but he wants to make it a 24 hour set complete with sets, costumes, and tons of spectacle. In other news, I now have a new record for furthest out setting plans: December 21, 2012 is now tied up.
  • Katy Perry's hit "I Kissed a Girl" tied the Beatles classic "I Want to Hold Your Hand" as the longest running number one hit on the Hot 100 Billboard singles chart ever. In other news, Gregg Gillis changed his final concert to today, because apparently the apocalypse is starting early.
  • Nate Ruess (the former frontman of the dearly departed band The Format), Andrew Dost (formerly of Anathallo), and Jack Antonoff (multi-instrumentalist from Steel Train) announced the formation of a band today called Fun. Color me excited, as I love the Format and Anathallo and I'm sure this crew can really put together something special.
  • Latest obsession: News of the Weird. It's a weekly collection of bizarre news bits published in small newspapers around the world (and in the Anchorage Press). It should really be called News of the Awesome, because it provides me with many minutes of entertainment on a weekly basis. This week featured news involving scientists providing Octupuses Rubik's Cubes and a metal band frontman who lives in a monastery in Italy and wants to send his albums to the Pope. Fantastic.
  • Ed Brubaker (one of the top comic writers in the business) was tapped to develop online content for Sony, including an online television series called Angel of Death that will star Death Proof star Zoe Bell. Couldn't happen to a better and more talented guy.
  • In other news, the new arc of Brubaker's Criminal started this past week and it was stupendous as per usual. If you aren't reading that book, you shouldn't be reading comics. I'm going to say it - it's the best book on the shelves right now.
  • Apparently Grant Morrison's stellar mini-series WE3 is being made into a movie and has a top director attached to it. Who is it? Morrison isn't telling, but I have to say - good luck turning a three issue mini about a cyborg dog, cat, and rabbit who just want to go home and to not be used as weapons any more, while still pleasing their owners, into a movie that people will get. Some things should stay as comics, I say.

The Four Day Weekend Edition

Sunday, August 10, 2008

This weekend I was lucky enough to have a four day weekend. It was an absolutely incredible time and additional awesomeness came from the fact that I did not have to take time off to have the four day weekend - I was sent away for vacation paid by my company! Hooray me! Before I get too far into that, I'll do a quick breakdown on what happened.

  • Going to the Agulawok Lodge for three days on the company dime
  • Fishing, viewing bears, skeet shooting, kayaking, and eating like a king for the whole time
  • Beautiful weather (almost) the whole time
  • Kung-Fu Panda with Colver, Lorna, and Kim
  • Going out to the bars with a bunch of people for Nate's bday
  • Singing Karaoke for the first time ever (Sublime's "Santeria" with Kim and Colver - we were bad)
  • Coffee with my sister
  • Chilling at Bosco's with Will
  • Frisbee Golf
  • Lunch with Kim
  • Getting caught up on sleep and exercise (thank god!)

So it was a very busy weekend as per usual, but one highlighted by one extremely extraordinary event. That of course was my company flying me (along with 9 coworkers) out to the Agulawok Lodge out by Dillingham, Alaska for around three days of pure, unadultered relaxation and high life on the company dime.

View from where I was staying

When we first got there, we went to check out where we would be staying. We were split up into two different cabins, and my cabin featured four bedrooms, two baths, a full kitchen, and a great living room with a wood stove. The beds in the rooms were probably the single most comfortable beds I have ever slept in and our fridge was stocked with exactly two things - soda and beer - and of both they had a huge variety and a lot of each. We had a bar with Johnnie Walker Black Label, Crown Royal, Tanqueray, and more, a wine stand that was fully stocked at all times with incredibly delicious and surely expensive wines. When we'd wake up, there would be freshly baked cookies and hot coffee waiting for us.

In short, it was heaven.

Shortly after arriving we had our first lunch, which was an incredible salad loaded with delicious veggies and steak, and it was absolutely incredible. While there, I was lucky enough to have that, baked sea scallops in a bed of risotto, pancakes, amazing bacon and sausage, eggs with tomato and avocado, the best baby back ribs I've ever had, and spectacular corn on the cob. Plus, the previously mentioned cookies weren't half bad either.

The lodge was loaded with things to do, and I tried to do them all. I went skeet shooting for the first time in my life and did okay, although it was really fun. I went kayaking for the first time as well, and after the initial stress of not wanting to flip in the middle of the enormous river, I had a great time. There was ample amounts of drinking and relaxing as well, but while there we had two big events: a fishing trip to the Nushagak River and a bear viewing trip to the Katmai National Park.

The whole crew with our fish

After our first lunch, we flew out to the Nushagak River for our guided fishing trip. We split up into two crews and loaded up into boats and went down river, and promptly had the easiest few hours of fishing I've ever experienced. Most of the time when I'm fishing I'm used to being surrounded by other people who are fighting over the same small amount of fish. Here, there was an enormous amount of fish who all seemingly were fighting for the right to get on our hooks.

On my first cast I caught a beautiful silver salmon, and I maxed out within an hour and a half. As a whole, we all maxed out before the plane was back to pick us up and we had fifty salmon to share amongst the group. It was absolutely awesome.

What's up bear?

The fourth bear that came to visit

Scavengers squawking at the bear for scraps

The next day we flew an hour plus away from the lodge for a trip to the Katmai National Park to go bear viewing. The Katmai is world renowned and most have seen pictures from it without knowing it. You know those pictures where bears are catching the fish as they try to jump up the mini-waterfalls? That's at the Katmai.

We had an incredibly successful trip, as it was ridiculously gorgeous after a cloudy beginning, there were five bears at the falls and one more towards the beach as we were walking up, we met a very cute park ranger, we had good food, and we got the experience of a lifetime for free. I have 100+ pictures of the experience, but it was an astounding sight to see these bears so close without the fear of being mauled (which is becoming a very real thing in Anchorage any more).

So yeah, all in all it was a rocking few days. Every once in a while I'd look at the clock and think "man, I would be in my office right now" as I'm looking at absolutely majestic sights. That combined with the fact it was free and that I was getting paid for it made these great experiences even better. I couldn't ask for a much better experience.


Po the Panda with the Furious Five

It may not come as a shock to those that read my blog that I like animated movies. Rarely do I ever find an animated movie that I don't like. I think this is because they are targeted towards families and encourage good and respectable things and are full of heart - and I'm a fan of heart.

Wall-E to date is my favorite movie this year because of the grand scale and story they tell, because of the humor, because of the glorious animation, and most of all, because of the sheer amount of heart. I hope the Academy looks its way when Oscar nominations are going out because I honestly believe it deserves that kind of attention.

However, Oscar nominated animated movies are few and far between (besides in the animated film category...obviously). Most that come out are more in the passable entertainment class - fun, but not worth purchasing later. Fitting squarely into that in my mind was Dreamworks animated release Kung-Fu Panda, and amazingly enough, it ended up surpassing my limited expectations.

Kung-Fu Panda has perhaps the most standard animated movie plot ever. Loveable loser dreams for something more, when a miracle strikes and he gets his wish. Roadblocks arise, but in the end he finds out what he's really made of. It's a bit of pastiche, but it's so ridiculously fun that you find yourself not caring at all.

Jack Black truly gets his perfect role in this movie, playing a bit of a loser who happens to be overweight and incredibly entertaining. You know, sort of like Jack Black himself. Black is supported by a number of great actors, including inspired work from Dustin Hoffman, Ian McShane, Seth Rogen (as a kung-fu praying mantis - YES!), and David Cross (Tobias Funke as a kung-fu crane...need I say more?).

Besides the fact that its a heartwarming story of a character reaching his true potential and the fact that it's tremendously funny (skidoosh = best kung-fu word ever), the fight scenes are frankly incredible even in the low resolution download I watched. With animation there is plenty that they can do that actual kung-fu flicks cannot do and they take that for all its worth. There is a level of inventiveness to the action that was extremely unexpected. Combine that with the kinetic glory of the hand-to-hand combat, and you have yourself some great action.

Last but not least, although the animation didn't compare with Wall-E on a technical standpoint, the visual flair and style that they put into it really stood out as a unique spin on the computer generated animated film genre. There was almost a painterly feel to backgrounds and landscapes, giving the action surroundings that had actual weight.

So, in short, I was pretty darn impressed. I had wanted to see it because it was an animated movie, and I'm glad I finally got around to it. I wholeheartedly recommend it, as it's just a bundle of pure fun.


For some reason, when I played video games I would go by the handle "Shaft." Particularly on Counter-Strike, which was a bit of a obsession for me for quite some time, but also in others. It became quite the persona for me, as people would use that as my name in this entirely different world instead of David.

It became who I was, which is strange because Shaft was actually John Shaft, who is a bad mother (shut your mouth). I am in no way a bad mother, and I am also a tall dorky white guy. So not exactly what you'd visualize when you think "Shaft."

However, when most people think of Shaft they probably don't think of Richard Roundtree. They probably don't even think of the Samuel L. Jackson update (costarring the hilariously awesome villain duo of Christian Bale and Jeffrey Wright). They more than likely think of Isaac Hayes brilliant "Theme from Shaft," a pure and unadultered funk blast that earned Hayes fame, fortune, Oscars, and Grammy awards. That's what I think at least, so in part, Hayes was responsible for creating a very strange and real part of me.

Sadly Hayes died today at the age of 65 for reasons unknown. All I know is the man with the golden baritone voice is gone, and the world just got a little less sexy because of it.

You're damn right.

Best Friends Forever

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


Pineapple Express is not a comedy for everyone, but as an all-time fan of stoner comedies like Harold and Kumar, Grandma's Boy, and especially Half Baked, this one really takes the cake for me. Not only that, but it gives us some of the best buddy action comedy stylings since the 80's when Eddie Murphy was rolling around with Judge Reinhold.

The genius of the movie is really that it makes fun of the genres it is representing while also respecting the hell out of them to the point it becomes a great example of them. Plus, Seth Rogen implements the things that he loves putting in his scripts - friendship, bro's over everyone, and carrying people out of precarious situations.

All of that, and it's pretty hilarious too (and features pretty much the most funny/awesome fights I've seen in a long time). Any movie that can make jokes about imitating what drug dealer life is to get by (has to get into his persona you know), Godspeed You Black Emperor!, and the crushing reality of a younger person wanting to get married too fast in the same act gets my vote of confidence.

And it features three incredibly awesome performances (there were a number of great supporting roles as well), two from the prodigious talents from Freaks and Geeks University (Seth Rogen and James Franco, taking stoner movie conversations to simultaneous new highs and lows) and a third from Danny McBride, playing the third in their fearsome triumvriate of BFF's.

McBride is the character in the 80's buddy action comedy that should die, but always seems to make it out of even the most precarious situations. Quite often it's the situation he is in that makes it hilarious, but the way he pulls it off so straight faced and so "of course I made it" is a training video on subtle humor.

To be fair, it isn't without it's flaws. Going in, I was pretty much in love with the movie's redband trailer. While there were many other funny parts, a lot of the major parts were already spoiled by it. Not only that, but the movie itself flowed better as a trailer than it did as a full motion picture. Some things likely could have been left on the editing floor, and I did get restless a number of times during it's near 2 hour timeframe.

Those are not crimes however, and any movie that can make me laugh as often as this one did gets a bit of leeway when it runs long. Kudos to David Gordon Green on making the bold transition from straight arthouse dramas to stoner buddy action comedies. It's quite the leap and most wouldn't handle it well, but you took it with great aplomb. Kudos to you sir, and to all those involved with the making of this movie.

Legacy? What legacy?

Congratulations Brett. You got what you wanted. You've been traded to the New York Jets.

Now live with the reality of closing your career in a far different place than your cozy Green Bay with your extremely talented team. I can't wait to watch the Patriots stomp you twice a year until you retire.

Sad Panda

Monday, August 4, 2008

The tickets for the Patriots game against Seattle went on sale this morning at 9 AM Alaska Standard Time. I was logged in, ready to go, and refreshing my browser like a crazy person. The moment struck and I quickly said "best available" for all options on Ticketmaster.

Sold out.

In one minute.

Completely cleaned out.

Sad, sad panda.

Legend Lost

Put your arms down Brett - You have nothing to celebrate

I'm an absolutely gigantic fan of football. I have been pretty much all of my life even though I've never played it as an organized sport at any point in my life (although I would have made an absolutely killer linebacker or tight end). Growing up and even today my favorite team is the New England Patriots, but I have a lot of love for all of the greats.

I was a big Barry Sanders fan, I respected the hell out of all of the Niners greats like Joe Montana (best football name ever), Steve Young, and Jerry Rice, and was amused by the hijinks of ridiculous stars like Deion Sanders and Michael Irvin. The one star that honestly shined above them all from the 90's and today has to be Brett Favre though. For the past 15 plus years, Favre has been Mr. Football in what many consider the heart of all football: Green Bay, Wisconsin.

In recent weeks though, both Favre and his fabled team have lost a bit of luster. After his best (and their best) season in a few years, Favre retired not on top but with every bit of his legend intact and proved that he could make good players great once and for all. When he won his championship, he did it with a great lineup featuring talents like Reggie White, Antonio Freeman, and the Devin Hester of yesteryear, Desmond Howard.

This past year, he showed everyone that with him at the helm you could dominate with an undrafted free agent at running back, question marks at receiver, and a mostly young (but extremely talented) defense. He was the glue like he always was, except he willed them to be better than they should have been. So like I said, he didn't retire on top but he added a new chapter to his gleaming legacy.

Now it's like he's adding a nightmarish epilogue that no one wanted to see. This is like the Wizards years for Michael Jordan, where everything isn't as good as it was before, it all gets ugly, and no one comes out unscathed. You have Favre wanting to unretire, the Packers wanting to move on with Aaron Rodgers after months of thinking Favre was out of the picture, you have the Vikings drooling over the concept of starting Favre instead of Tavaris Jackson, and you have a slew of football fans wondering "what happened to our hero?"

How could Mr. Football want to leave his home and play for another team? How could he unretire and throw his entire legacy and former/current team into complete and utter turmoil? These are the questions that I ponder as I try to wrap my head around the concept.

Everyone has an opinion on this subject, but I think Favre should just stay retired. It's looking like he's now going to battle Rodgers for the starting spot at the QB position for the Packers, and anyone who thinks he won't get it is lying to themselves. What does this mean for the Packers? It means they get another year, maybe two with Brett, their living legend and the king of Green Bay, with very little chance to make it out of the NFC let alone to defeat the monsters of the AFC.

So another couple years of unrealized dreams for what likely will end up being the destruction of the psyche of another talented young QB in Rodgers, a player who could grow up with their young and very talented nucleus and lead them to Super Bowls in years coming.

In my opinion, Favre coming back is one of the more selfish moves in recent sports history, and that's with clowns like Chad Johnson and Terrell Owens parading themselves around the NFL. In a present state of the NFL that features holdouts and outrageous behavior, it's the favorite son who just wanted to keep playing who takes the cake.

And I just don't understand why it had to be that way.

The War Against Beer Pong


Recently, I've started receiving Time magazine's top 10 news stories in email form every monday. This is odd mostly because I never actually signed up to receive this, but I'm thankful no less because it never ceases to interest me. Every week there are very topical news stories, there are wonderful photographs, and there are some very bizarre ones as well.

This week one in specific caught my eye: "The War Against Beer Pong."

I'm a young guy, so I of course have played a significant amount of beer pong in my life. I'd go as far to say as when I play it I'm quite the enthusiast. Of course, truth be told if anyone is playing it they're an enthusiast because it involves alcohol. The stuff simply makes a person enthusiastic about whatever they're doing at the time.

It's a really fun game but apparently it's spawning quite the nationwide controversy. Many schools (particularly Ivy or faux Ivy league schools) have started banning the game citing it as one of the leading reasons for across the board binge drinking increases. It's even being banned in entire towns and cities, as Belmar, New Jersey banned the game entirely due to its rowdy nature affecting neighborly love (but perhaps that isn't because of the beer pong, but because the fact your city is full of people from New Jersey).

This isn't just happening to the under 21 flock either, this is happening to people of a legal age. The game is strictly not allowed because of what in encourages people to do.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not failing as a young person here, but I understand what they're trying to do. They think by banning one of the major games in the drinking community that they will somehow curb binge drinking. It's a great concept and to be honest it is an honorable one as well.

However, they seriously underestimate the innovative nature of people looking to have a good time. Give a group of young people a couple cases of beer and a deck of cards or even a roll of quarters, and I guarantee you they can find some sort of game to play that will make that beer go away very quickly. Short of banning alcohol entirely and making these campuses dry entirely, you're not going to escape it.

I just don't understand why people do things like that to solve "problems": you can't use a bandaid to cure a major wound. If you think something is seriously amiss, take legitimate action. No screwing around with minor obstacles, create solutions that actually would greatly affect the situation.

Instead, the world continues to come up with solutions like this that do nothing but to incite people to come up with new ways to do the same thing. Plus, beer pong is seriously fun. Who wouldn't want to play it? It's better than similar alternatives like beer bonging (the binge drinker's method of choice) or Edward Fortyhands (yes, this is really a game where you duct tape forty's to your hands and you have to finish them before they get unstrapped), where people could get alcohol poisoning fairly easily.

Of course, within the same article they talk about "water pong" and how that was banned at Dartmouth University. That whole concept just boggles my mind (I love water, but seriously, water pong? That's just ridiculous.) Not to mention the fact that they actually banned it due to the dangers of H2O overdoses. I think some places are just ban crazy to be honest and love inciting young people into talking about their rights and becoming involved.

Maybe that's the point of all of this really. Perhaps this is the way people of authority are looking to get young people to be less apathetic, by making them fight for what they care about. If it really takes making the sport of beer pong a martyr to make the frat set care about their rights, maybe it's a good thing after all.

The Weekend Edition

Sunday, August 3, 2008

This weekend was strangely wholesome. Well, maybe not wholesome, but the fun I was involved with involved less debauchery than usual, and believe it or not that was a welcome change. Mostly because the decline in debauchery also came with a dramatic decrease in money spent, which is super as well. Thank god because my money has been converted into stuff (food, clothes, coffee, etc.) lately at an absolutely alarming rate.

No less, what did I do this weekend?

  • Mini First Friday adventure with Amy to check out my neighbors exhibit
  • Dinner party at Kim's with Kim, Emily, Lorna, Amy, Hannah, Colver, and Rory
  • Nephew Outreach Program with Charles (Hiking and Moose's Tooth with my Dad - awesome!)
  • 2 minutes of coffee with my sister Bobbie and my niece Emily
  • Hanging out with Hannah at Middle Way
  • In Bruges v 2.0 with Hannah (plus bagging and boarding infinity comics)
  • Rocking out with Amy!
  • Having fun and promptly dying at Bernie's Bungalow Lounge
  • Breakfast with my mom at Harley's (delish)
  • Frisbee Golf with Amy (9 freaking pars)
  • Re-reading Planetary and Nextwave and realizing that Warren Ellis was my favorite writer

So yeah, pretty chill weekend spent with friends, but an awesome one no less. The highlight was definitely the inception of the Nephew Outreach Program in which I got to hang out with my nephew Charles for a while.

Myself and Charles on top of Flat Top

Even though Charles had lived here almost all of his life, he'd never had a chance to experience hiking Flat Top (or any of the surrounding mountains). He loves the outdoors, he just never had the opportunity. Thankfully, I was allowed to provide it for him and we had a great time doing the hike. The kid is an absolute manimal though, as he is legitimately one of the best hikers I've ever went with.

I can run up the stupid mountain, but he glides up the thing. I'm convinced he's part mountain goat, and I honestly think he can compete with my friend Matt in terms of going up the thing. This is of course without ever really hiking in his life. I can't imagine him with training. He said he was interested in running Mount Marathon, which is an insane race in Seward on the Fourth of July that goes up a mountain. I think he could do it without training, right now. Crazy.

Charles and I on top of Flat Top

After our hike, we went over to my parent's place and hung out for a bit before needing to head off and hit up Moose's Tooth for lunch. Charles had never been there either (Moose's Tooth is an Alaskan institution and honest to god the best pizza place on the planet) so I got to give him another first. My dad met up with us there, and it was awesome just chatting and eating delicious pizza with the two of them.

Honestly, one of things I miss out on the most probably are family functions. That is why I wanted to do something like this. I hadn't seen my nephew in months and that was a ridiculous state to be in, especially when I can try to be a positive influence on his life and guide him to find successes in his future. It was a great time, and I'm looking forward to doing it more often in the days ahead.

I may be a big goofball who is ridiculous more often than not, but I can do what I can to instill the very positive lessons my parents gave me on the kid. I think that's the least I can do.

Patriots Day

Tom Brady doing what he does

Tomorrow is a big day.

A very big day indeed.

Tomorrow morning at 10 am PST (9 AM for us Alaskans) tickets for the Seattle Seahawks go on sale, and I will be online purchasing two of the best seats I can grab for my friend Erik and I.

Buh wha?! Seahawks tickets? Why would a die hard New England Patriots fan be purchasing tickets to a Seahawks game? Well, the Patriots will be visiting December 7th, and yours truly will be braving the 12th man garbed in Patriots gear (head to toe baby) next to Erik, safe in his Lofa Tatupu jersey. It's going to be awesome and it's been a dream of my life to see the Pats live. I've been a huge fan since 1993 (beginning of the Drew Bledsoe era, so you know I'm legit) and am incredibly excited.

Even though I may be killed by giant men who are very passionate about a team with a coach that looks like a walrus. That's a big deterrent to be honest, but you can't hide who you are.