Wednesday, December 29, 2010

It's Finally Over...

Well, it's the 29th of December and I'm still here. I made it through Christmas and my birthday with my sanity relatively intact. This is an interesting turn of events. I never thought I'd make it.

Christmas is and always shall be something of a non-event for me. In fact, if it wasn't for the other people in my family, I wouldn't do anything for Christmas at all. Just enjoy the day off from work and then muddle on. This year I got closer to that than ever before. There were no decorations in my house, no carols, no tree. My family all crowded into my apartment, so I had to get gifts. Remarkably enough, I was even put in the position of fixing someone's Christmas, so they'd have a better one. Can you believe it? ME, fixing Christmas for someone?? ME?? I mean ME?? I'm still astounded by it.

I didn't get much in terms of gifts, but that's never really been the point of the holiday for me. My goal is to survive the day with as little fighting with my family as possible. And this year, I got the closest to that goal, I've EVER gotten.

As for my birthday, as always, it passed with little note. I got a bunch of "Happy birthday"s from my friends on FaceBook, and a couple of personal messages. I went out and saw True Grit (good movie), bought myself some Blu-Rays, and treated myself to dinner. I still have the desire to have a HUGE party on my birthday, and one day, I will do it. But for this year, the marking of the 34th orbit around the sun that the earth made since I was introduced to the multi-verse, I was good with a slow day by myself. If I'd had the money, I would have topped the day off with a hooker or two, but that also is for another year.

We're a couple days away from New Year's Eve and it's looking like I'm not going to be doing much for that, either. This year, I'm going to stay up and watch one of the specials (normally, I just sleep through it) maybe with a bottle of wine or something. It could be fun.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

So It's Only, Like, About Damn Time!

I'm not one to get too high up on the Blu-Ray phenomenon. It still feels like a bit too much like unnecessary extravagance, especially since there isn't a big difference from DVDs to Blu-Ray. They both look the same. But, I am excited about a Blu-Ray release!! This one...

That's right folks!!! Get ready to journey with the Dread Pirate Roberts, Princess Buttercup, and my personal favorite, Inigo Montoya.... only this time in HIGH DEF!!!  I even found a review of the upgraded transfer of the film to blu-ray!! So go to your nearest video store, or online site and order it RIGHT NOW!!!!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Modern Day Christmas Greeting...

Best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low stress, non-addictive, gender neutral, winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most joyous traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, but with respect for the religious persuasion of others who choose to practice their own religion as well as those who choose not to practice a religion at all...

And, a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling, and medically uncomplicated recognition of the generally accepted calendar year 2010, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of the other cultures whose contributions have helped make our society great, without regard to age, race, creed, color, religion, national origin, disability, or political affiliation.

(Disclaimer: This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for him/herself or others and no responsibility for any unintended emotional stress these greetings may bring to those not caught up in the holiday spirit.)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Tron: Legacy - Enter The Grid...

Have you ever watched a movie and wondered where did all the millions of dollars go? With Tron:Legacy (T:L), every single dollar of the budget is visible on the screen. The original movie had a visual style that remains distinct and original even today. T:L took that style and transformed it into a sleeker, smoother version of itself that was new and entirely its own. The best revamp was done to the single most famous icon of the Tron universe: The LightCycle. Gone are the ninety-degree turns and rectangular jet walls, replaced by the grace of curves and the multi-level Cycle Course. Even watching those beautiful machines crash and shatter like so much glass was gorgeous (if a bit painful) to see.

Overall, the director Joe Kosinski did an excellent job balancing the necessary artificial aesthetic of The Grid with the essential grounding in reality it needed to have to in order to be taken seriously as a world in and of itself. And while doing all that, he managed to still make it reminiscent of the original style, giving the digital world a look that felt like it evolved from the first film, like software evolves from its previously written versions. My "fanboy" eyes almost melted due the sheer awesomeness of how the Grid looked.

The other big visual achievement that T:L got was the "Benjamin Buttons" style CGI that allowed them to show a youthful Jeff Bridges in a beginning flashback and as C.L.U., his digital alter-ego. And for the most part it worked really well! I found it a little off putting during the real world scenes, but once in the Grid, it added a fantastic visual creepiness to C.L.U. that perfectly complimented the character. In fact, the only place the effect broke down at all was in the mouth. And that was only in two places in film.

While we're on the subject, let's talk Jeff Bridges and the actors. First off, I have to tip my hat to Mr. Bridges. He has never EVER failed to deliver anything less than a fantastic performance in any of his movies (and I am SO looking forward to seeing him in True Grit) and Tron:Legacy is no exception. Bridges plays both Flynn and C.L.U. with absolute perfection. Even after being in the system for 20 years, Flynn still has a sense of awe & wonder about the world he built, and Bridges conveys that child like love effortlessly, and then takes Flynn on an emotional arc, catalyzed by the appearance of his son, that is amazing to watch. For any other actor, I think the temptation to make C.L.U. an over-the-top villain would be to great to resist. Yet, Bridges plays C.L.U. with a level of honesty and sincerity that fully fleshes out the characer, making him into a believable antagonist. By the end of the film, I found myself actually feeling for C.L.U. and the anguish he felt.

As tricky as Flynn & C.L.U. were to play, I think that Sam Flynn (the son on Kevin Flynn) was also a very difficult role to play, and Garrett Hedlund aced the role. The reason Sam is such an difficult role is because of the opposing goals for the character. As the audience's gateway into the Grid (and the film), Sam should just be a reactionary character, never initiating anything or having any other motives except for what's happening to him. Yet, there's also the drive to find out about his father, the anger of being abandoned, the amazement at this digital world his father created, the surprise that the stories his father told him as a child were all true. All these emotions boil under the surface of Sam Flynn and Hedlund touched upon all of them, yet never lost the openness that was needed to keep the audience anchored and invested in his character and consequently, the film.   

When it was announced that Daft Punk would be working on the music for T:L, the world was overjoyed! Then people heard the soundtrack and complained because it wasn't club dance/electronic music. It was, in fact, an actual musical score. I stayed away from the music (except for the single, Derezzed, which was impossible to avoid) until I watched the movie. But, watching the movie, I can understand why Daft Punk made the music the way they did. And as awesome as the visuals were, the movie jumped to the next level of awesomeness with the sound.

Daft Punk really showcased their mastery of music with this score. Just like the visuals paid homage to the original while being distinct yet realistic to itself, the music lives in that intersection of typical electronic beats, atmospheric orchestral pieces (the violins in "Nocturne" and "Adagio for TRON were amazing!!), and old synthesized sound (mostly on the "End Of Line" track) that flows seamlessly with the visuals. I have to admit, this soundtrack has given me much more respect for Daft Punk. It would have been easy to just create some typical (but still fantastic) techno beats for this movie and call it a day. But, listening to the soundtrack after the movie, you can hear the care that went into this album. It's so complete and whole that it stands on its own as a work of art. I do admit to wishing for a "Music Inspired By" album from Daft Punk, where they cut loose and let their signature style come pounding through, but even if they don't, this soundtrack is a testament to their skill. (I LOVED their cameo in the movie, too. It was a fun tribute to them.)

Now, being a fully fledged movie buff, I do have to admit there were some flaws with Tron: Legacy. And they fell pretty much in the same slot as the first one: the story. First, like in the original, they didn't really do much with Tron, the character the movie is named after. Secondly, (also like in the original) the script seemed to bite off a little more than it could process, trying to be too many things at once. A touching emotional story of a son looking for his father, a hopeful story of how the hidden wonders of technology could save us from the problems we seem unable to solve, an exploration of the philosophies of life, of self, and of the promise and pitfalls of both action & inaction. All of these themes and more make appearances in the story line, but despite the (impressive for a Disney movie) two hour duration, there simply wasn't enough time to cover all of that in a single movie.

The only other flaw in the film has to do with the restrained tone of the film. Being a Disney film, there are themes that T:L couldn't get into, like sexuality or violence, and other themes embedded into the film (such as not too subtle Christian religious references) that keep Tron:Legacy from fully reaching the potential of the storyline it created.

I watched this movie in the theaters on opening night, and despite its flaws, Tron: Legacy held up pretty well. As I watched the film, I noticed that it had it's audience in rapture. There was no chatter, no whispering. Everyone was just caught up in what was going on. It was amazing to see, considering that the theater was absolutely PACKED with people. 

Overall, I loved this film. I walked in expecting an epic movie, and that's exactly what I got. It was an amazing ride. It surpassed its predecessor with flying colors, and I would recommend this film to anyone who wants to have a good time for a couple of hours. As for me, I will be watching it again!

End of Line 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Movie Maven Loves.... Jeff Bridges

I'm not someone who makes friends easily. But the few friends I have, I keep pretty much forever. I can see myself with the same group of people even in my future lives. That being said, there are times when I hate my friends. I mean true, deep black hatred of the ages. The type of hate that destroys souls and gives birth to the most vile of demons.

Today, I hate my friend David. I hate him because in his blog, The Bimillennial Man, he introduced me to the one of the strangest, weirdest, and hottest movie reviewers on the planet, Tara Perry, the Movie Maven. Here's her take on this weekend's movies:

I swore I would never admit to watching this. Let alone post one on my blog, but I just couldn't help it. She's just so beautiful, I can't stop watching.... I hate you, David. Grrrr... Argh! *sigh*

Interview With A Director...

In a previous blog post, I talk about my opinion on movie remakes, and how I'm always open to them. One of the reasons why is because I always wonder what the movie would be like if it had been done with modern technology. To be completely honest, a large chunk of my enthusiasm for the movie Tron: Legacy is fueled by the desire to see such a visually distinctive world rendered under the power of current computer technology.

Now, I've tried to stay away from the media hype of the movie in order to not build up my expectations to an impossible-to-meet level. But given the marketing engine that Disney has, some hype has gotten through. One example of this is an interview I came across with the director of Tron: Legacy, Joe Kosinski.

It was an intriguing read, and I find that the ideas he presented in that interview give me a more solid, intellectual basis for wanting to watch the film. Don't get me wrong, there's still a large part of the "fanboy" impetus in my head, but now there's more to it. I'm interested in seeing how a living, digital world would evolve with no connection to the outside world (which would be the Internet, in this case.) I'm interested in seeing how they present the passage of time for a digitized human. And given how cool the original Tron games were, it's definitely going to be interesting to see what new games they came up with for this movie.

This is cool, now it's no longer just over the top fanboy love that makes me want to see Tron: Legacy. There's a legitimate interest in this movie in and of itself, for me. ROCK!!!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sailing On Stranger Tides

In a post last month, I mentioned that the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean movie is in the works. Well, since that posting, my dear readers, the producers of the film have released a full on trailer for the film. And it seems to confirm exactly what I was saying earlier. There is no more Will & Elizabeth, and we're focusing almost exclusively on Capt. Jack Sparrow's latest adventure, finding the Fountain of Youth. Here's the trailer:

Doesn't that look good? I always say, if you want to make a movie better, add a feisty Latina with a sword, and finally someone listened to me!! And Ian McShane as Blackbeard looks positively evil! This looks like it's going to be LOADS of fun!!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Outside The Government, Beyond The Police

Doctor Who

Doc tor Who

Tor doc Who

Torc do Who

Torch od Wo

At the same time that I found out about the new series of Doctor Who, I was told about the spin off series, Torchwood. The series takes place in the same universe as Doctor Who, but is completely Earth based.

The story goes like this: In a ep of the new Doctor Who, the Doctor finds himself battling an alien life form that wants to kill Queen Victoria during her visit to the Torchwood Estates. As you might expect, the Doctor saves the day (and the Queen) but Her Royal Majesty takes issue with the Doctor's reckless attitude and decrees him an enemy of the Empire. In accordance with this decree, she founds the Torchwood Institute, in deference to the name of the estate, whose sole purpose is to defend the British Empire from alien attack and especially from the Doctor.

While references abound for Torchwood in the new Doctor Who series, Torchwood takes direct action during the introductory ep of Tenth Doctor, The Christmas Invasion, when the Prime Minister authorizes Torchwood to destroy an alien ship. In a later ep of Doctor Who, the Doctor directly encounters Torchwood and finds out that they defend the Empire from alien attacks by scavenging alien technology and using it against future threats. In this same episode, Torchwood unleashes a resurgence of the Cybermen on Earth. In the ensuing battle, Torchwood is destroyed. At this point, one of the Doctor's former companions, Capt. Jack Harkness takes over Torchwood, moves it from London to Cardiff, Wales, and re-makes the organization (it's third incarnation) into a more empathic, less aggressive, morally grounded version.

If you were to take Angel, The X-Files, Men In Black, and Doctor who, put them in a blender and turn it on high and you'd get Torchwood. I find Torchwood more appealing than it's parent program because of the darker subject matter, as well as the morally flawed characters. The interplay between the Torchwood team alone is fascinating to watch. While I would recommend Doctor Who to any sci-fi fan, I would recommend Torchwood to my friends. For some reason, that cynical, wise ass attitude would work as well for my friends, as it does for me.

Thoughts On... The Doctor

In this previous post, I promised that I would talk about one of my newly added favorites in the realm of sci-fi television, Doctor Who. Well folks, here it is, my take on Doctor Who. One note before we begin, I've only started watching the new series which started in 2005. For all the fans who have been watching since 1963, I apologize ahead of time for any slights or insults that I may inadvertently deliver. The ones that I explicitly deliver, I won't apologize for.

For those of you who don't know, Doctor who is a show about an alien being called "The Doctor", who looks remarkably human, that travels around space and time (in a craft called the T.A.R.D.I.S) exploring, having adventures, protecting Earth, and basically just getting into all kinds of trouble. At times the Doctor has anywhere from 1 to 3 companions tagging along (usually human) as sidekicks or lightning rods. 

First off, the show itself. I am of the opinion that Doctor Who is one of the most original science fiction shows ever created. The concepts presented are fascinating, the idealism is refreshing without short changing or pandering to it's audience, and the technology presented is exceptionally creative. And it's just plain FUN to watch. There are very few shows out there (most created by Joss Whedon) that blend sci-fi, humor, drama, horror, and action in a single episode, let alone an entire series!

One of the most original concepts of the series relates to The Doctor himself, and directly relates to the seemingly never ending appeal of the show. In 1966, the actor who played the Doctor left the show. In an effort to keep the show going, the writers at the time introduced the Doctor's ability to regenerate into an entirely new appearance with new quirks, but retaining the memories of the previous  Doctors. Currently, there have been a total of 11 Doctors, with the eleventh Doctor being on air currently.

It turns out that I have seen the last 4 Doctors. One of which was in a made for US tv movie, that I had completely forgotten about until recently. The other three have been covered in the new series. Out of the Doctors I have seen, my personal favorite is the ninth Doctor as played by Christopher Eccleston. His portrayal was fluid enough that it meshed with ever changing tone of the show. The Tenth Doctor, David Tennant, was fantastic but he comes across as a bit of a goof which can short circuit the times when the show is trying to be serious or suspenseful. The latest Doctor is also exceptional, but seems a bit too grave for the role which can throw a sonic screwdriver into the comedic parts of the show.

As for the Doctor's companions, they are as random and varied as the different iterations of the Doctor they travel with. My personal favorite being Donna Noble, the only companion I've seen that wasn't hopelessly in love with the Doctor and actually gave him a hard time on a repeated basis. I do have to make a small mention of another of my favorite companions of the Doctor, Capt. Jack Harkness. He was definitely awesome, but more about him on a different posting. 

I started watching Doctor Who when a friend of mine was having orgasms watching the season 4 finale and basically begged me to watch the series. And it took two episodes to really lock me into the series. But having watched the new series, and reading up on the older series, I do have one gripe about the show. While the show is completely original as compared to other science fiction programming, there isn't a great deal of NEW thinking IN the show. I'd say about 95% of the greatest set pieces of the show have all been rehashes of prior events. The one that I particularly enjoyed, the appearance of another alien of the same race as the Doctor calling himself the Master, turns out to be nothing more than the latest "return" of a villain that has been a part of the series since the beginning. And honestly, how many times can the Daleks come back before they are reduced to a crutch?

Having a character that, for all intents and purposes, is immortal and is NOT locked into a single appearance is a television dream! But there is a catch. Having to come up with enough new material so the show doesn't get stuck in a cycle of re-hashing old material in a new format. Overall, the show is fantastic, and I'm very much looking forward to the next season (or series as the Brits call it!) just to see what weirdness the Doctor gets himself into now.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Rockin' Chicken Parm

Because I have so many friends who cook, I've gotten TONS of ridicule over my learning such a basic principle of cooking that you add seasoning while you cook. A friend of mine (a gorgeous little hottie named Jesca) started a recipes blog called Rockin' Recipes, and gave me permission to post one of her recipes here. Granted, I did re-write it for men since, let's face it guys, we can be food prep-challenged. Click here for the original un-edited recipe.

NOTE: If you are planning on using this recipe as part of a pre-meditated seduction, please make sure that your target is:
  • A) Not a Vegetarian, and
  • B) Not lactose-intolerant
Believe you me, the night will go a lot more smoothly if you have those facts ahead of time! And here's the Male version of Rockin' Recipe's Chicken Parmesan:
Your Weaponry:
3 Bowls
2 Sheets of Wax Paper
1 Baking Dish (A Cookie Sheet can be substituted)
1 Skillet
1 Stove with Oven

Your Ammunition:
4 Boneless & Skinless Chicken Breasts
2 Large Eggs
1 Cup Vegetable Oil
1 Cup Italian Seasoned Bread Crumbs
1 Cup Flour
1 pkg Shredded Mozzarella Cheese

A large amount of Pasta Sauce (your preference)
Some flour for dusting (your preference)
Some butter or margarine for greasing (your preference)

Battle Prep:
- Fill the bowls:
-- Bowl 1: Flour
-- Bowl 2: Eggs beaten within an inch of their lives
-- Bowl 3: Bread Crumbs (Optional: Add salt & pepper to taste.)

- Grease the Baking dish with your choice of butter

Battle Plan:

Stage 1:
On a stove top place oil in skillet and let heat. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

By this point, the chicken breasts have been making smart ass remarks, so you take each one and place it in between the two sheets of wax paper and beat the wiseass out of them! When they are about a quarter of an inch thick, they've learned their lesson.

Take one of the newly schooled chicken breast and pat it (on BOTH sides) in the flour. This dries the skin and allows the egg to stick a little better. Next, dip it in the egg.

Order some of the expendable crumbs to jump into the oil and test if it's ready. If the oil bubbles around them, it's time for stage 2.

Stage 2:
Take the chicken breast and dip both sides in the final bowl with bread crumbs. When the meat has a solid shield around it, transfer it to the hot oil. Cooking the chicken on both sides should take only 2-3 minutes. This is just to solidify the bread crumb shield into it's final golden brown form. While this is cooking, prep the next breast for its time in the oil.

Evac the finished chicken into the greased baking dish and place the next piece of chicken into the oil. keep going until all four have done their duty and are in the baking dish.

Pour a fair amount of your chosen pasta sauce on top. Then bake for 35 min. Then it's time for stage 3.

Stage 3:
At the 35 min mark, add the shredded mozzarella and then bake another 10 min until the cheese is browning. This chicken is now DONE!

You can serve this with whatever other dishes you wish, or man up and eat it solo! Recommended team mates: Linguine (or any pasta, duh!), or serve on a bed of rice.Other than that, you're on your own for what else you want to serve with it.

NOTE: This recipe has been known to increase attraction and create a great deal of affection for the cook in those who eat it. Be warned: do not, I repeat, DO NOT serve this to someone you don't like!

An Interesting Discovery...

I have a confession to make, my dear readers, and it's a painful one. I don't know everything. No, seriously! I know that reading this blog has made you believe that I am an undeniable, never-ending font of knowledge, second only to the Lord God Himself!! But, alas, I am not. I am the first to admit, that there are whole realms of knowledge that I am not privy to. The current bane to my font of eternal wisdom and know-it-allness (yes, I know that's not a word! Just go with it...) is cooking.

Yes, the arcane and mystical art of food preparation is still very much a mystery for me. I can make cold cereal, scrambled eggs, mac & cheese, and a wide variety of sandwiches... but that's it. To be completely honest, most of my meals have been take out. Unfortunately, I don't have the money to continue that particular style of cooking, and so by necessity, I'm forced to cook for myself. And since I can't live on just the stuff I know how to make, I am also forced to learn how to make actual meals.

Which brings us to the topic at hand. I've learned recently (the last year or so) that you have to pre-season food in order for it to have any flavor. Yet, even with the most vigorous seasoning I could accomplish, I still couldn't get a truly flavorful meal. All my seasoning stayed at the outermost layer of whatever I was preparing. But, I recently got an idea: what if I put seasoning in with the food while it was cooking AS WELL as when I prepare it for cooking?? Last night, I tested my theory. I took my chicken and seasoned it as normal with my old faithful, Goya Adobo, a seasoning mix that is used in practically all latin cooking consisting of garlic powder, onion powder, salt, black pepper, dry orégano brujo, and occasionally dried citrus zest.

I got a pot and put some corn oil in, and then crumbled up a cube of chicken bouillon in the oil. I heated up the oil and put my chicken in. It took about 15-20 min, but I came out with some very tasty chicken. Of course, I also burned the oil/bouillon mix that I was cooking the chicken in, but at least the theory held!!!

Now, I know that the experienced cooks reading this all are shaking your heads at me and grumbling any number of names at me. In my defense, I don't watch cooking shows, I wasn't trained in cooking, nor have I taken any cooking classes outside of high school Home Ec. This is all new to me, so cut me a break! For my next trick: how to get rice to not come out as a sticky mush better suited for sushi!

I think I might be aiming a little high....

Monday, December 6, 2010

Some New Rock Music....

I was creating a mix CD for a co-worker of mine when I needed a good, recent rock song. I did a little digging and found this song. It's got a great beat, catchy lyrics, a great guitar solo.... oh, and really hot women in the video.

As far as I can tell, this is a relatively new band and this is their first single off of their first album that was released this summer. I got this album as an early Christmas gift and I haven't heard it all, but what I've heard is good. Check out the video for "Porn Star Dancing"

Company Christmas Party: The Aftermath...

Well, I made it through the Christmas party. Overall impression: underwhelmed. For the past six months, I heard stories about how wild & crazy this particular party was going to be. With every story things got wilder & wilder. There were hints of lesbian make out sessions, clothes swapping, and other interesting things. Instead, I got a bunch of people playing pool, drinking, and talking.

After a few minutes of arriving, I decided to not go through with the "get totally wasted" plan and just drink a little bit to get a nice buzz and then ride out the buzz at the festivities. Now, don't get me wrong, I actually had fun. I know, I couldn't believe it either. I actually ENJOYED being out with people, drinking and talking. I think I'm losing my hermit tendencies.

I was even considering hitting on this absolutely GORGEOUS waitress, but common sense prevailed and I did not. Instead, I ogled all the hot women I work with (now slightly dressed up) and the hot girlfriends/spouses of my male colleagues. It was a lot of ogling, but after 3 or 4 Long Island Iced Teas, I knew I was up to the task. I also talked about increasingly erratic and bizarre topics with my co-workers, such as: the risk/reward analysis of actually hitting on the waitress I was checking out, whether or not a pool table would make a suitable bed, the benefits of substituting a relationship with Internet porn and prostitutes, whether or not online dating is relatable to a confidence scam, etc.

I had planned on bringing a date, but online dating did not produce anyone in time, and my alternate choice for a companion got locked down at her job, so I was stag for the night, but it was still a good time. And I made it home safe & sound. All in all, it was a good time, but I was hoping for a bit of a wilder time. There would be SO many more stories I couldn't tell!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Company Christmas Party and My Last Drinking Binge...

So my company is having a Christmas party tonight with an open bar. I'm not one to drink wantonly, but I was thinking about going all out and getting completely trashed at the party, and participating in what most of the people in the world consider to be "having a good time". Since what I normally do: playing video games, reading books, and watching tv/movies, don't seem to be "good time" activities.

I usually don't get drunk because alcohol is a super extreme depressant for me and knocks me out rapidly. One time, I made it a point to get trashed, it was for one of my birthdays... possibly my 27th birthday... I went (read: was dragged) to this bar near the Greenwich Village area of Manhattan, NYC called Jekyll & Hydes. It's a cool place, going for the horror movie/evil scientist laboratory vibe. If you get a chance, check it out.

I made the mistake of telling the bartender that it was my birthday, so all my drinks/shots were filled with more than would normally be the case. Right around midnight, I told the bartender that my birthday was over. He looks at me and says, "Look at my computer screen. It still says the 27th. It's still your birthday. Now have another!" It was shortly after this exchange that  I started the new drinking policy of drink whatever's put in front of me (at the behest of my so-called friends).

Anyone who has EVER been on a drinking binge knows that "Drink Whatever's In Front Of Me" is NEVER a good policy. I was, of course, a neophyte to drinking so I thought it was a good idea. That thinking ended when my bartender decided to pour me a shot of something that was pitch black. I mean PITCH BLACK, like I had trouble seeing the glass around the drink it was so dark.

"Drink this," says my bartender. And I say "my" bartender, because it seemed to me, buzzed as I was, the he was pouring drinks just for me. Everyone else's drinks just materialized in front of them, but mine were slow poured. I looked at the shot glass and asked, "What is it?"

"Just drink it!" So I did.

Now, I thought the drinks I had before were hitting me hard, but THAT drink felt like Mike Tyson had put on one of those Predator invisibility suits, stood in front of me, and PUNCHED ME DEAD IN THE FACE. I was shocked as hell to see that I was still standing after drinking that. "So what was that?"

"It's called Liquid Cocaine." I made a vow, after my bartender said that to NEVER, EVER, EVER, EVER, EVEREVEREVER drink that shot again. By this point, my friends and I had acquired some bar friends and we were swapping drinking stories and they were all making fun of me for being a newbie drinker. We had a flaming drink appropriately called, "Flaming Moe"s. At which point, I noticed that one of our bar friends was the drop dead gorgeous Italian woman I had been checking out earlier in the evening when I was still sober. And she was dressed in form-fitting black leather. And what a form she had! So, in my drunken stupor, I decided to walk up to this beautiful woman and say, "You are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen."

I said this without slurring a single word, in crystal clear English, despite being dead drunk. I know this because, if it had been drunk speak, her 9 foot tall, muscle-bound, Italian Mobster looking boyfriend would not have taken issue with my statement and stood up with the intent of splattering my face along the bar. At which point, my friends and I thought it would be very wise to vacate the premises.

Yes, that's right. I ran like a little girl. You know why? Cause running allowed me to survive and not be hunted down and killed for hitting on the wrong girl! You know how the Mafia are... vindictive! Then, while waiting for the Path train, which would take me back home to Newark, I started feeling sick. A tidal wave of nausea rose up through my body and I ran and started puking my internal organs out onto the tracks. During this completely involuntary action, my mind as a way of punishing me for my sins, decided to re-surface the memory of an article I had read earlier that way of some poor schmuck who had died in this same situation when a train came down the tunnel and decapitated him while he was puking over the rail.

Needless to say, I was scared out of my mind as I couldn't stop myself and I prayed devoutly for the train NOT to come on time. After all, what's ten minutes late between friends?? Thankfully, I finished emptying my stomach before the next train arrived. And I made it home safe & sound.

Now with an experience like that the last time I got trashed, why WOULDN'T I want to get trashed again???

Yes, I know. I need my head examined.

Top Ten Holiday Movies....

In keeping with the dark, twisted holiday themes of my life, I have compiled a list of my favorite holiday movies. These are the movies that have kept me sane (or what passes for sane for me) over the years during these festive, family focused frivolities. Before we get to the actual list, I want to give props to a couple of flicks that were good, but didn't rank high enough to make the list. First of the honorable mentions is Death Race. This one would have made the list except that most of the stuff that shows it takes place during the holidays is only on the Unrated version. Second, is The Addams Family which almost made the list on the strength of its opening scene of festive carolers about to be drenched in boiling liquid by the The Addamses! The master touch was the switch in the music from Christmas carol to The Addams Family theme.

And now, here are my top ten favorite holiday movies. 

10) Black Christmas (2006) - Christmas horror movies abound, but most of them focus on making the icons of the holiday evil, and there's only so many times I can watch Santa kill people before it gets old. This movie felt more like what my life would be like if I were caucasian and a serial killer. I'm already mentally deranged. One out of three ain't bad, right?

09) Nightmare Before Christmas - I always though this was a cool concept. The rituals of Christmas as interpreted by Halloween. This would have been higher, but a bunch of the songs are kind of annoying after the first viewing. Still the basic idea and the intensely impressive hard work in making this movie more than make up for the music.

08) Scrooged - This is probably the closest I'll ever get to liking a regular holiday movie. There's just something about the pathos and never ending sarcasm of Bill Murray that makes this movie awesome to watch. Even after he's been reformed, he still keeps the same style. This movie even made the three spirits fun!!

07) Lethal Weapon - There's nothing that warms the cockles of your heart than some good action during the holidays. And that's what Mel Gibson & Danny Glover deliver. Plus, we get a topless girl listening to Jingle Bell Rock, a shootout in a Christmas tree lot, and an epic hand to hand fight right in front of a somewhat cheerily decorated house! 

06) Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang - The deadpan wiseass humor of Robert Downey Jr and Val Kilmer make this a holiday favorite for me. And the bonus of Michelle Monaghan bouncing around in a sexy Santa outfit doesn't hurt either!

05) Gremlins - This movie is the single most anti-consumerist movie I have ever seen. A father takes a gift to his son, and that gift spawns a bunch of evil creatures that terrorize an entire town! Plus, Phoebe Cates delivering one of the most horrible Christmas memories in film history just makes me happy in the fact that there are people who have had worse Christmases than I!

04) Bad Santa - I prefer the unrated version of this movie, but the best part is (and I can't believe I'm going to say this) is the sex scene... "Fuck me, Santa! Fuck me, Santa! Fuck me, Santa! Fuck me, Santa!" There's just something about that line that is just.... enchanting.

03) Trading Places - Where Gremlins is anti-consumerism. Trading Places is anti-commercialism. There's nothing that makes the holidays complete than having your boss take everything in your life away from you and give it to someone else, all for a lousy $1 bet!

02) The Ref - This movie is the closest I've seen to Christmas at my house growing up. Yelling, screaming, and gun play (well that was only the one year at my house, but still) and then a stupid meal that degenerates into more yelling, and screaming, until someone runs away.

01) Die Hard - This movie takes one of the most common holiday stories, trying to get to your family for the holidays, and gives it some major balls! No longer is it being stuck with strange people in a snow bound airport or small town. No, now it's a group of highly funded thieves pretending to be terrorists, with enough C4 to orbit Arnold Schwarzenegger and machine guns galore!! If this isn't a Christmas tradition at your house, make it one! Or else, I'll send John McLane to YOUR house and then we'll see how your house stands up to sustained gunfire & explosions from terrorists!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Enter December, Stage Left...

And here we are once again, in December. The month of my gestation, when the extra-terrestrial, trans-dimensional, and temporally bi-located scientists defiled the laws of physics and decent society and created me. Once they realized their error, they dumped me on this no-name rock in this backwater part of this slum galaxy.

But on the plus side, there are some things I'm looking forward to this month! Obviously, there's the release of Tron: Legacy. But there's also the Tron soundtrack, done by none other than Daft Punk!! And now that I have a PS3, I can also look forward to Tron: Evolution! One of the few games that I have a hope of surviving the multi-player online combat! Plus, the 2nd greatest movie to be released this year and the most original concept film, Inception, comes out on DVD!! Although, I might want to get THIS movie in Blu-Ray. I think it's worth it, don't you?

Plus, if I get a Christmas bonus from my job (unlikely), I might be able to afford to get a hooker for my birthday! (Practically impossible, but that would be a nice present!) Or maybe an actual birthday party, with drinks, dancing, and hot women dancing and getting drunk, still snubbing me, then puking all over my floor and electronics.... Hmmm, okay so that's probably a no on the birthday party either.... *sigh*

Still, there's a lot of awesome things happening this month! And I have the company Christmas party to go to later this week! That should be fun! Nothing is better than watching a bunch of co-workers get drunk and make complete fools of themselves while you record them for future blackmailing. Yes, this month might actually be fun for a change! I guess, we'll see!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Rare Bit of Christmas Spirit...

Just so that it's on the record, I absolutely HATE this time of year. For a variety of reasons most of which I will not go into here. I will say that this season brings back too many bad memories and buried frustrations and mixes it with a disgust fueled by the cynical view of the world I have. Now, I'm not trying to convince other people to hate the holidays. If this time of year brings you warm, fuzzy feelings and makes you all gooey inside, more power to you. I am not a completely evil, heartless, soulless bastard. (NOTE: I said "not completely".) I don't begrudge everyone else having a happy holiday season, just don't push your good cheer on me!

That being said, there are certain points of quality entertainment that I enjoy related to this season that allow me to get through every year. I want to share with you one of them.

Back when I was growing up (oh so long ago, it seems...), there was one Christmas special that I enjoyed watching. For some reason this special tapped into a version of Christmas that felt very real for me. And the music wasn't cloying or overly saccharine. My favorite song was their version of the Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer by none other than "The California Raisins"!!

Doesn't that video just ROCK!!! If you get the chance, check out the whole special. It's only a half hour, but it's pretty cool!

Monday, November 29, 2010

My Christmas List...

My history with Christmas is not a pleasant one. Most of my memories of this "Festive" holiday involve a great deal of emotional and physical pain. Consequently, christmas has become a non-event in my eyes. You will not see me getting a Christmas tree, lights, or any other such holiday nonsense. To all that crap, I give a wholehearted, "Bah Humbug!!"

Now unlike the villians of Christmas, Scrooge & The Grinch, I don't care if anyone else has a good time. Go, be merry, exchange gifts, kiss under mistletoe or mistlefoot, or mistlearm or whatever. Just don't push your good cheer on me. Now since Christmas is a non-event for me, I usually don't build a list of things that I want. But, there are tons of people out there who keep asking me for this list. After years and years of this, I have finally come up with an effective tactic against this. Widespread advertising of the things I really want.

So, for those of you who can't help yourselves and want to buy me a Christmas gift and so you don't have to bother calling, texting, or emailing and asking me for what I want, here's my Christmas list. Feel free to purchase me any of the following:

01) A Girlfriend
02) A 2004-2006 Dodge Durango
03) A JVC Kaboom box
04) A Mac Laptop (15 or 17 in screen )
05) iTunes Gift card
06) Best Buy Gift card
07) Playstation Network Gift Card
08) DVD Movies
09) Blu-Ray Movies
10) Cold, Hard Cash

And so we're clear, the movies better be good ones! Nothing like "Eat Pray Love" or "The Notebook". If you have doubts about buying the movie, just get a gift card instead. 

By the way, this list also works for my birthday as well!!

My First Thanksgiving...

And here we are on the far side of the Thanksgiving weekend. Surprisingly enough, I survived. Despite certain issues that threatened to destroy the holiday, I was able to spend time with family avoiding the usual bickering and such by having the holiday feast at MY house which seems to have been accorded the status of Neutral Territory.

After that, it was a great low-key weekend. I slept... A LOT! Catching up on missed sleep is such a good thing. I bummed around my house, hung out with some friends, and played video games. I'm almost done with Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow!

It turns out this holiday weekend gave me just what I needed. Rest and relaxation. It's an interesting twist for me. If things keep going like this, I might actually ENJOY this holiday season! I'm sure something will screw it up. Murphy's Law hasn't failed me yet!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

My 25 Most Played...

This post is inspired by one I saw on a blog I follow, Musings of A Wannabe Star, where the author lists the 25 most played songs on her iTunes player. I took a look at my Top 25 tab and was kind of surprised at the list. Now, this is just on my work computer and doesn't contain my entire music collection, but still talk about reaching all over the place. Anyway, check this list out:

25) Skat Strut - MC Skat Cat & The Stray Mob
24) Snap Ya Fingers - Lil Jon (Feat Sean Paul & E40)
23) Tell Me How You Feel - Joy Enriquez
22) Shake Up The Party (Pound Boys Fiesta Radio Mix) - Joy Enriquez
21) What Do you Want - Joy Enriquez
20) All Jacked Up - Gretchen Wilson
19) Voodoo - Godsmack
18) Right Round - Flo Rida (Feat Kesha)
17) Paralyzer (Lenny B. Radio Mix, Atlantic City Beats Edit) - Finger Eleven
16) My Immortal (Rock Version) - Evanescence
15) Run Back To Your Side - Eric Clapton
14) Thank You - Dido
13) Insomnia (Haji & Emanuel Radio Mix, Atlantic City Beats Edit with Breakdown)
12) Renegade - Styx
11) Kiss From A Rose - Seal
10) Brand New Day - Ryan Star
09) U & Ur Hand - Pink
08) My Lovin' (You're Never Gonna Get It) - En Vogue
07) Men In Black (Album Version) - Will Smith
06) Tango Maureen - Rent Cast
05) Telephone (Glee Cast Version) - Glee Cast
04) Ring My Bell (Mr. Lee's Radion Mix) - DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince
03) Safety Dance (Glee Cast Version) - Glee Cast
02) Billionaire (Glee Cast Version) - Glee Cast

and my number one most played track is..... *cues drum roll*

01) Boogie Woogie Wu - Insane Clown Posse

I look at this list and it hits me just how varied my tastes are... I mean three of my top ten are from Glee for crying out loud!!! Who would have guessed that?? And I just recently got into ICP, I never thought I listened to that track so many times. Weird, right? Well, my dear readers, what's YOUR number 1??

Video Games Live - Oh, What A Night....

Last week, I went to one of the most amazing events I've ever experienced: Video Games Live. Some friends and co-workers told me that it was a great time and I was going to love it, but I had no idea how much fun it was going to be. I have to say that anyone who recommended VGL to me in the past was 100% correct!! I went with two friends of mine who had NO CLUE what they were in for. Both were video game fans, and both of them absolutely LOVED it. (They even took video clips which they STILL won't upload so I can see!!) So, it's not just me going off on some tangent. Normal every day folks love VGL just as much as I do. And the age range of the appeal was amazing, I saw people ranging in age from 3 to 83. One family brought their youngest in a Link costume from Legend of Zelda for the costume contest! (My guess: They were going for the Wind Waker Link.)  Of course, they won. Who's going to vote against a mini-Link?

For those of you who don't know what Video Games Live is, let me explain. At it's core, VGL is a concert. Yes, there is usually a bit of a "festival" in the hours leading up to the concert where people can play games and enter in contests, and stuff, but the point is the concert. Anyway, the producers of the show get local orchestras to play out the themes of popular video games, and display scenes from the games in accompaniment. But the show doesn't end there. They also add a live show on stage that interacts with both the scenes playing out on screen and with the music. It's a mind blowing experience to hear a full orchestra play out pieces of music that you've only come out of tv speakers coming from a video game console.

The best part is this concert isn't partisan to any specific console. VGL gave props to games all across the board like the Metal Gear Solid series (but no Snake Eaters, dammit!!), Sonic The Hedgehog, Chrono Trigger, Castlevania, Legend of Zelda, the God of War series, Resident Evil, Halo, Street Fighter 2, Final Fantasy, Super Mario, and others. They even went back to the real classics of video games: Frogger, Centipede, Asteroids, and Pac-Man all got their props.

The most surprising segment for me was for God of War. It was done so well, they started it with an intro from one of the producers of the game and then went into the intro for one of the games with that creepy old woman narrating the events of Kratos's current life. Then the orchestra came in and just swept me away in this grandiose wave of sound that was simply thrilling. In fact, I was so caught up in the music that I didn't notice a woman come on stage (despite the spotlight on her) until she started singing. That woman (by the name of Laura Intravia, look her up. Seriously, do it!) knocked me for a loop. I've never heard someone sing with that level of strength and power live. And it was for God of War! Stunning! Absolutely stunning!!!

Ms. Intravia did a couple of other bits where she showed off her flute playing talents with the themes of Legend of Zelda (and she looked SO HOTT in the Link costume! Never realized how sexy that outfit would be on a girl!) and Super Mario Bros. I did have one nitpick about the Super Mario Bros bit, though. While her flute skills were amazing, I didn't think they should have used a recording for the background music. They did have a full orchestra on stage with her... so why not USE IT? But that's just a minor detail.

My personal favorite segment was, without a doubt, Tron. Hearing an orchestra play the various themes from the game (and the movie, since the games borrowed heavily from the movie's score) literally gave me chills. So much so, that I had goosebumps all up and down my arms. It made me want to watch the new movie even MORE!! It was also amazing to see and hear the reaction the audience had to Tron. It was one of the biggest cheers of the night.

They also had a special guest, the inventor of the home video game console, Ralph Baer. This is the man that parents everywhere can blame for having to spend hundreds of dollars on video game systems every couple of years. It was cool to learn some of the early history of video games (like he invented his Brown Box System here in Nashua!!), it gave the perfect sense of scope. Especially when they set up a replica of Baer's original Brown Box and played the ORIGINAL pong. With the orchestra adding music to it for the first time! To go from that to the music of World of Warcraft really emphasized how far video games have come in the last 40 or so years.

If you ever get the chance to go to Video Games Live, you should. Even if you're not a video game fanatic (but really, who ISN'T these days?) you'll love the vibe and energy of the event. I wholeheartedly recommend it, and I'm a hermit-of-sorts!! You can see a bunch of clips of their various shows on YouTube, but they don't compare at all to being there live. I can't wait for them to come back around here, so I can go again! Seriously, do yourself a favor and check it out!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Personal Message from Captain Jack...

For a long time, I swore off of Disney movies. Why? Because at the time, they had done multiple DVD releases of every movie they made except my personal favorite, Aladdin. Plus, the Disney movies had seemed to have lost their originality. They were just trite and emotionally flat. But one movie broke all that for me: Pirates of The Caribbean: Curse Of The Black Pearl.

For one shining moment, Disney was able to recapture that magic they had when they weren't watered down blandness ready to be spoon-fed to the mindless masses. When they blended intelligence and genuine wit with grand adventure to make epic goodness. And the grand star of the show, the master of ceremonies was Jack Sparrow.. um.. CAPTAIN. Captain Jack Sparrow was the true heart of the movie.

Then in typical Hollywood fashion, they made a pair of sequels and the first thing they did was reduce the role of the person EVERYONE wanted to see. Consequently both of the sequels kinda sucked. Rumors started of a fourth Pirates movie, but people weren't too receptive until a key piece of news was released/leaked. The fourth movie would focus exclusively on Capt. Jack. The story with Elizabeth & William is done, but Capt. Jack is still floating around.

Now, it looks like the rumors are true. I found a link to a teaser trailer for Pirates of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. If the movie is half as good as this little personal message from Jack, it'll be like the first movie a rollicking good time!! Check it out and tell me what you think!!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Finally, After All This Time...

I've been in my apartment now, for a little over a month. And while it's still not quite up to what I envision, I thought it might be a good idea to give people a preview of my bachelor pad. If you click on the link below, you will be brought to my album of apartment pictures on FaceBook.

Apartment Pictures

They are arranged in a sort of tour-like fashion if you check them out in order. Otherwise, just click on which ever suits your fancy. Thanks to my little sister for playing photographer for me!

Once I get my place to the standards that I want, I'll take some more pics to really show off. This group of photos is more to give an idea of the layout of the place. As always, thoughts & comments are welcome.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Lost Opportunity Found Again...

Unless you vacuum seal your entire life, whenever you move you lose stuff. Knick knacks, papers, you know small stuff. In my move to Nashua, I noticed that some of my paperwork was gone. Including some tickets to an event I was really looking forward to for a couple of months: Video Games Live.

For those of you who don't know, VGL is basically a concert where a live orchestra plays the themes of a bunch of classic video games: Mario, Halo, Zelda, etc, while playing clips of the games on a screen above the orchestra. As I understand it, there's also a live stage show to go along with it.

A friend of mine went to the show in NJ and he said there were events before the concert. One audience member won a Guitar Hero contest before the show, and got a chance to play the Guitar Hero song live on stage with the orchestra!! Cool, huh? I'm going next week and I'm going to have a blast!! I found a video that give a glimpse of the show.

The show tours around the world. Check out their site to find when they're going to be in YOUR area!!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Flynn's Return Is Almost At Hand....

In about six weeks, the movie I've been waiting the whole year to see, Tron: Legacy, will be out in theaters. I've been staying away from news and stuff about it cause I don't want to spoil the movie for myself, but I am VERY excited to experience this film.

This film is the ONE film I will watch in 3D because this is the only film that actually has a legitimate reason for being in 3D: the story supports it. I just recently discovered that Daft Punk was tapped to do the music for the film, and I can't think of a better choice! I saw their DeRezzed video/movie clip and it was fantastic.

For those of you who don't know, the original Tron film was a landmark in the film industry due to it's massive use of computer animation. These days, anyone can CGI a film, but in the mid 80s to do almost an entire feature in CGI was thought to be impossible.  Check out one of the signature scenes from the first film, the LightCycle race:

By today's standards it's pretty tame, but 20 years ago that was cutting edge! And now, Disney Pictures is returning to the world of Tron and bringing with it all the massive advances in computer technology since the first one. Check out the LightCycle circa 2010:

Just for that jump alone it's worth watching the movie. Now, they have released the final trailer for the movie. And you get to see a little more of the world of Tron. Check it out and then join me on Dec 17th, 2010 in theaters to watch what will be an EPIC of DIGITAL proportions!!

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Battle Resumes...

I wrote a post awhile back about acquiring a PS3. It's been about a month since I've had it and I must say, I'm still LOVING it. I'm now up to 4 games:

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow
Prince Of Persia: Forgotten Sands

I've played all of them a little bit, but I'm focussing on Castlevania. Why? Because it's Castlevania. I'm a huge fan of the series. I've played a bunch of the games, though not all. And I've always enjoyed them. I was worried about LOS at first, but Konami did a good job with the game. Translation: I can't believe how freaking difficult this game is!!!

Now, I've been out of the video game scene for awhile, I grant you, but it shouldn't take 5 hours of battle to beat ONE boss. Who are they making these games for anyway?? People who have PS3s & XBoxes linked directly to their brains using neural jacks??  As you can probably surmise, I've beaten the first of the Lords of Shadow, a schmuck named Cornell who thought being the Lord of Lycans made him something special. But since it was such a massive battle (two game sessions, one for 2hrs and the other for 3hrs cause I had to restart the battle from the beginning), I took a break from playing. But, I'm going to start back up again tonight.

Wish me luck!

Monday, November 1, 2010

The First Of Many Holiday Gripes...

Any of my friends will tell you that I'm not the biggest fan of the Thanksgiving/Christmas season (known in the My Church has taken over your Mid-Winter Pagan rites collection nicknamed "The Holidays"). While I have a great deal of personal reasoning behind this, which I'll most likely get into later on in the season when the cheerful masses will REALLY get me pissed about The Holidays, I try to put on a neutral face and let the good cheer flow around me.

Still there is a limit. For example, I heard people listening to Christmas carols today. THE DAY AFTER HALLOWEEN. For crying out loud we haven't even had THANKSGIVING yet, people!! Give me a little time to build up my Scrooge Shielding before exposing me to all that good cheer.


I hope this is NOT an omen for the rest of this season... Damn, and I just remembered, my birthday is coming up too... The big 3-4.

*fake smiles* Happy Holidays, people... *end fake smile*

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween CD 2010 - Epic Fail

I don't know if you know this, dear readers, but every year I try to come up with a mix CD (or 80 min playlist for those of you too young to know what a CD is) for Halloween. This CD would, ideally, be filled with music to suit the awesomeness and greatness of this most festive of holidays. Unfortunately, most years I don't get a complete list of suitable, new music. And this is one of those years. I only got as far as the second track.

Here's the list for those of you who are curious. If you have the songs, listen to them back to back, and you'll understand why I put them together. The content just seems to flow so well from one to the other:

01) - "Boogie Woogie Wu" by Insane Clown Posse
02) - "3 AM" by Eminem

That's it. That's all that I got for this year. I'm sorry, dear readers. There's no one to blame but myself. But I hope that by next year, I'll have an awesome Halloween CD!!! Oh, and Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Top Ten Funny Halloween Movies

If I had the ability to choose my own birth date, there's only one option for me: October 31st. That's how much I love Halloween. I don't partake of the commercial aspects that much. I rarely dress up and I don't hand out candy. That's not what Halloween, or as it's originally known: All Hallows Eve, is about.

Halloween is about fear. Old world religions had the power of the Gods wax and wane just like the seasons, in order to cement the idea of the constant battle between Good and Evil. There was a day where the power of the Good & Righteous is restored to its full glory ready to take on the yearly battle against the Evils of the world. It was known as All Saint's Day. But on the eve of this holy day (See where the name came from?) the power of good would be at it's weakest and the people would take measures to defend themselves against the Evil. All the commercialized rituals we have now are based upon those initial rites of fear.

Given my personal mentality, I take the day of Halloween to explore the depths of those things that I should normally fear, but don't. And it's FUN!! It's my favorite time of year because I can come to believe that the rest of the world, for one night, joins me in rejoicing in the darkness. That for one night, the rest of the world can take glory from the triumph of the villains. While that's not really true, it's nice to indulge in, and it gives me a strong foundation for what comes immediately after: the Holiday season. So, every year, I dig up 4 or 5 horror movies to watch and take part in the joy of seeing people terrorized, running for their lives to no avail, and dying horrible, gruesome deaths to pay for their sins.

But not all of the horror movies are about delightful, abject fear. There are those who take Halloween from a different angle and take the scares and add humor. They make Halloween funny, where you jump and cry out and then laugh!  And that's what this post is about. I'm going to give you my top ten funny horror movies. Go and rent some, and temper your fear with laughter!

10) Little Shop Of Horrors - The only horror movie I know of where the plants dance and sing as they kill! How could you NOT have fun with that?

09) Teen Wolf - What better way to make a werewolf movie fun than to have shoddy production values and loads of teen angst! Plus, street surfing!!!

08) Young Frankenstein - Mel Brooks made this movie. That's all you need to know.

07) Zombieland - A crazy way to look at the rules for surviving a zombie apocalypse. Wit, sarcasm, and practical humor prove just as effective against zombies as they are against everything else.

06) From Dusk 'Til Dawn - From the moment I saw the first ad ("Vampires. No Interviews.") I knew I was going to laugh my ass off during this movie. It brings a delightful, wise ass sarcasm to vampire movies that is severely lacking. I mean, come on, just because you're facing a evil horde of bloodsuckers doesn't mean you can't toss out a couple of good barbs, right?

05) Gremlins - Dude, Gizmo made this movie. You remember the rules, right?

04) Army of Darkness - Talk about a wise ass horror movie and no other comes to mind. Now, I'm going to Borders to pick up my copy of the Necronomicon. How did that password phrase go? Clatu Verata.. Necktie? No.... umm... Nickel? No... Damm it, think!

03) The Frighteners - What? Ghosts can't have attitude? Just cause you dead don't mean you stop the con, right?

02) Ghostbusters - Come on, you knew this one was going to be on this list!! There was NO doubt. Oh, question for you: ARE YOU A GOD??

01) Beetlejuice - Hey, you deceased people out there! Do you have those pesky living folks infesting your home? Well, all you have to do is call the afterlife's one and only Bio-Exorcist! You know his name. So...   Say it once. Say it Twice. Third Time's the Charm...

Thursday, October 28, 2010

As If I Didn't Hate Twilight Enough Already....

Most of you know that I'm a comic book fan. As someone who loves stories in general, I've always found comics a very dynamic medium for storytelling. I've also made no secret that my favorite comic characters come from the DC Comics Universe. Today, I found out something that has me wondering if the people at DC are going insane.

In a push to generate original modern material, DC has created a new series of graphic novels under the "Earth One" banner. First on the list for this series is Superman. How do they plan on re-inventing Supes into a more modern incarnation?? By Twilight-izing him.... Yes, I'm serious. Don't believe me? Read the article for yourself!!

Can you believe this?? First off, WHY, DC, WHY??? I can't count how many times I've defended DC against any & all who doubted their storytelling prowess. Talking about the deeper philosophies embedded in their stories and how their characters have become a part of the American Mythos. To have them do this, makes me want to throw my hands up in disgust and move to the Marvel universe permanently.

Second, why Superman? Of the entire pantheon of characters in DC, the one most apt to go "Twilight" would be Batman. And while I would prefer that DIDN'T happen, it is kind of a perfect marriage. Bruce Wayne is dark, moody, and spends most of his time brooding and living in darkness. I would figure DC wanting to appease the Twilight Twits would blend the Terry McGinnis character (From Batman Beyond) with Bruce Wayne for (the inevitable, but not yet announced) Batman: Earth One graphic novel. Like I said, I wouldn't want this to come about, but I could understand going that route. It makes logistical sense. 

And speaking of Batman, there's always been a kind of yin-yang thing with Batman and Superman (the two flagship franchises of DC, which is why I'm still talking about Bats). So, if DC is going to make Superman angsty and moody, what are they going to do with Bats? Make him an upbeat, happy-go-lucky, devil may care guy? Seriously??

Finally, from a storyline perspective, having a moody & brooding Superman is inherently dangerous. For all the flack Supes gets from his detractors, he is the single most powerful being on the planet. He could theoretically knock the Earth out of it's orbit of the Sun and kill everyone. This is not the character you want to have being angsty or moody. Supes being an overgrown boyscout is one of humanity's defenses against his power.

*crosses fingers* I'm hoping DC re-thinks this idea, but I also know better than to really expect it to change. God, I really, really, REALLY hate Twilight.... I can't wait until that damned series fades into Oblivion.

An A.R.K. - Act of Random Kindness

Right on the heels of my rant (after which I felt much better, by the way), the Cosmic Awareness decides to throw me a curveball in the form of an act of random kindness. Here's the story:

My co-workers have had kind of a front row seat for the madness of my apartment hunt. Granted, I kept most of it kind of low key, but they still got to see a lot of it on a day-to-day basis. The day after my last posting, one of my co-workers, Janet (name changed to protect the innocent) comes up to me and says, "I have a gift for you."

I eyed her, suspecting some kind of prank. Not that Janet is a prankster in any way. She's an agreeable, solid character, a genuinely nice person. Which, of course, makes her the PERFECT front woman for a prank. I know there are several other pranksters in the office. I responded with a bit of my paranoia bleeding into my voice, "Really?"

"Yes, a big present. A service of dishes for 8 people!" As Janet goes on about a family member cleaning out old stuff from a previous (short term) marriage, all my paranoia dissipated to be replaced with amazement, gratitude, and yes, a bit of shame for suspecting her. (Which just adds to her being the perfect front woman for a prank!)

And the dish service is fantastic, too. Not at all girly or anything. Just simple and classic. It was a very cool thing for Janet to do. While other co-workers have donated stuff to my apartment, this instance struck a chord because it was completely random. I knew Janet was listening, but she has two daughters and a large extended family that she's dealing with, so I was thinking that my issue just went in one ear and out the other. So, the fact that my issues registered enough for her to remember it was really cool.

Second was the timing. Just as I'm at the point where I'm freaking out about all the little things my apartment needs, someone came and randomly gave me a chunk of the stuff I needed to get. Janet couldn't have timed it better if she were paid to! It was really cool.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Life Note: Apartment

I've decided to start a new ongoing series of posts on here called "Life Notes". Basically, it's just a mini-rant about a small, stupid issue that is either taking over my mind or bugging the living crap out of me. For my first Life Note, I'm going to rant about having an apartment.

You know the thing that messes with my head about having your own place? All the little things you find you need to have that you never thought about before. Like a can opener! Who in their right minds ever thinks about can openers? They are no-brainer MUST have, right? Well, here in my new place, I didn't have one.

My family and friends, trying to be helpful, donate stuff, cans of beans, soup, corn, etc. I'm thinking, "Hey, I can get me some corn for dinner tonight!" NOPE, because I didn't have a freaking CAN OPENER!!! (But I bought one yesterday, so I'm finally good there.)

Then there's pots. Not frying pans, but POTS. Like a medium sized pot that you could cook rice in... or like 4-5 chicken thighs in. Nothing huge like the soup cauldrons that Grandma's the world over use to indulge in their arcane magic of cooking, just a nice medium sized pot. They're like EXTINCT!! I went to a couple of places looking for a single, solitary pot. (On my shopping trip for a damned can opener, figure why not kill 2 birds with one stone, right?) Couldn't find them anywhere!! Oh, sure for like $130 I could get an entire SET of pans, pots, and stuff, but I don't have that kind of money. And all I wanted was a medium size pot for me to cook some rice in. NOTHING!! Sure they had pressure cookers that I could fit my TV in, and they had waffle makers, and pancake makers, and George Forman's "THE NEXT GRILLERATION". I kid you not, that's actually in stores. But, a single solitary pot was NOWHERE to be found!!

And let's not even talk about other little things.. like spreadable butter for sandwiches.. or garbage bags, or for that matter a garbage CAN!,  push pins, Tupperware, BOWLS, for crying out loud. How difficult is it to get a non-miniature sized bowl where I can get more than ONE spoonful of cereal in? And there's hand towels, spatulas, a ladle, sieves, glass cleaner, paper towels, those plastic things to organize your utensils, sponges to do dishes, dish washing soap, broom, mop, bucket, dustpan..... I MEAN COME ON!!!!  

People, if you are living in an apartment with others, whatever you do, DON'T MOVE OUT ON YOUR OWN!! Your wallet/purse will NEVER recover!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

You Might Be A Geek If...

In the spirit of my last blog post, and in the style of Jeff Foxworthy's "You Might Be A Redneck If...", I have come up with a new low for humor, dear readers! The title of this post says it all.

Now, before we continue, I just want to say that I came up with all of the following statements. They are 100% Dilking originals, but feel free to use them if you wish! Oh, and if you think of any, post them in the comments!! Anyway, here we go:

You Might Be A Geek If....

If you buy tickets to see a movie in theaters you already own on DVD, you might be a geek.

If you have more computer parts in your house than you do furniture, you might be a geek.

If a girl shouts "Bug!!" and you whip out a Netbook, you might be a geek.

If you can recite the Star Spangled Banner in BINARY, you might be a geek.

If your idea of a romantic night is having your Everquest avatars sitting in front of a digital fire, you might be a geek.

If you have a wife & kids in The Sims, but can't get a date in real life, you might be a geek.

If you have drawn up blueprints for an robot girlfriend, you might be a geek.

If you spend more time surfing the internet than actually talking on your phone, you might be a geek.

If you think watching G4 is foreplay, you might be a geek.

If you think chatting online is a great idea for a date, you might be a geek.

If you know the Konami cheat code by heart, but can't remember your sister's name, you might be a geek.

If your entertainment system has better sound than the local movie theater's, you might be a geek.

If someone shouts "WOW" and you think World Of Warcraft, you might be a geek.

If you can disassemble electronics in less time than it takes to turn on a light bulb, you might be a geek.

If your coffee table is a spool of Ethernet cable, you might be a geek.

If you set up all the appliances in your house to be controllable from your laptop, you might be a geek.

If you think it's a cool idea to install an A.I. in your car so it talks back to you, you might be a geek.

If the first thing you set up after moving to a new place is your electronic equipment,  you might be a geek.

And last, but not least:
If your online characters have more sex than you do, you might be a geek.

I'm Such A Geek..

Right on the heels of my second public declaration of Back To The Future as my #1 favorite movie (the first time was on my very first blog post. Don't belive me? Check it out, I called it Blog Zero - The Origin.), I find out exactly how much of geek I really am.

See, Back To The Future is celebrating it's 25th anniversary of it's release with a couple of big events. One is the full on, high-def remastered, outatime badass release of the entire trilogy on Blu-ray on the 26th of October. AMC Theaters is jumping on the bandwagon with a special showing of the original film, Back To The Future, in theaters on 10/23 and on 10/25 in select cities, one of which is close to me. I'm such a geek I bought tickets to go see it.

Think about that for a second. I currently OWN the trilogy on DVD. I can go home and pop in the disc and watch the movie whenever I want and I bought two tickets to see it IN THEATERS!!!Not to mention that I was thinking about getting the "DeLorean Edition" of the Blu-Ray release, which comes with a scale model of the DeLorean from BttF II.

How much of a geek am I, huh? See people, these are the things that prevent me from getting girlfriends. No woman in their right mind would go out with a guy who gets all hyped up about a 25 year old movie being shown in theaters again... My only solace is that a good friend of mine from college is coming with me. Of course, SHE's married so she can afford a geek out. Me, I have no excuse.. But, while I am a *HUGE* geek for doing this, at least I'm not the only one.

And I just realized the Blu-Ray comes out NEXT TUESDAY!! YEAH!!!

*reads last bit and hangs head in shame*


I am such a geek...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Halloween Essentials: The Jack-Chop

Now, I normally don't do product endorsements since no one really reads this blog. But, in this case, I do have to make an exception. This product is just too good a deal for me NOT to tell you, my dear readers, all about it! It's called the Jack-Chop! You know what? Instead of me telling you about it, here's a commercial for it:

Now, that is ESSENTIAL for your Halloween needs!!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Top Ten Favorite Movies of ALL TIME

Whenever someone found out how much I love movies, they always asked me the same question. "What is your favorite movie?" For a long time, I didn't have an answer. Because I could promote any movie I watched as the best or the worst if I were in the proper mindset. Then I came to find the perfect means for determining my favorite movie. The criteria is really simple. Ask yourselves this, dear readers, what movie would you always be into watching, no matter what mood you're in? Depressed cause your lover left? Watch this movie to forget your sorrows. Happy cause you got that job promotion? Watch this movie to close out the celebrations. Angry cause some one cut you off? Watch this movie to calm you down. If you can think of ONE movie to fit all those scenarios and whichever others are coming across your mind right now, THAT is your favorite movie.

As a movie lover, it took me a long time to create this list. Some of you may be surprised at an entry or two on this list. But most will read this list and say... Of course, those are the ones he likes. They are so obvious! So, I now present to you my top ten favorite movies of all time. This is the mother lode for me. If an alien culture contacted me about movies, these would be the movies I would show them.

10) The Princess Bride
This is an interesting entry for me. Normally, I would scoff at what is essentially nothing more than a period piece chick flick, right? WRONG! What makes this movie is EVERYTHING ELSE in it. It was like the producers wanted to make an awesome fantasy film and needed a love story to tie the individual scenes together. From my personal favorite, Inigo Montoya and his 20+ year quest for revenge, to the little boy sick in bed making faces at the "kissing parts", The Princess Bride is nothing less than fantastic.

09) Groundhog Day
This movie is fantastic because the premise is completely absurd, but handled in the most realistic way possible. A guy suddenly get stuck in a time loop, reliving the same day over & over again. No explanation. No reason why. No "test of your soul" or whatever. It just happens. How would you deal? What would you do? Another reason I love this movie is because it's a premise that can't be copied without referencing the original. Seriously, ever since this movie was released, any type of medium dealing with a person repeating time is described as a "Groundhog Day" event. This movie is unique, intriguing, amazing, and just fundamentally awesome!
08) The Matrix
It's exceptionally rare for me to encounter a film so densely packed with so many different philosophical treatises, so tightly written that can still be described as fucking KICK ASS!! The movie blends computer theory, existential philosophy, and various theological treatises using kung fu, spaceships and robots. Watching this movie was life changing for me. I never thought in a million years a movie like this would EVER make it past the Hollywood executives. And I'm glad it did. (NOTE: This list is just single films, otherwise the whole trilogy would be in this slot.)

07) Live Free Or Die Hard
This is another entry that people would find surprising. After all, if you like a series it's usually the first in the series that's the best. Like the main protagonist of the series, John McClane, did for the action hero, this series bucks the trend by getting better with each successive movie. The reason I love this movie is simple: DH4 shows that despite how advanced we think we are, or how awesome our technology is, the greatest power we have is our spirit. The technobabble is just a distraction. Our will to live, to survive; our determination to NOT be beaten. THAT is what drives us. It might not win us friends, or give us an easy life, but it drives us to succeed and compels us to move forward. To always strive for what's just out of our reach, no matter how hard it tries to elude us. (NOTE: Series favorites in order: 4, 1, 3, then 2)

06) T2: Judgement Day
Here's another series that showcases the power of the human spirit. But that's just one of the things that makes this movie awesome. You take the example of the human spirit, mix in the struggle against the demons that are fueled by that same spirit, add in the question of what makes a being human, ethics of the usage of technology in war, and some philosophy of time travel. Blend in some action and you got a fantastic ride that you'll want to re-live over and over again. (NOTE: Series favorites in order: 2, 1, 4, then 3)

05) Serenity
The thing about science fiction movies is that they tend to build upon each other which makes it very difficult to get original ideas. Serenity is an original view of the future. Most science fiction assumes a betterment of human society where everyone kind of levels out and people are always on equal footing. Serenity showed us that just because humanity reaches the stars, doesn't mean that we quell our social demons. That it's possible to advance technologically but still have no solutions for poverty, governments desire to control their citizen's thoughts, etc. Mash that up with some good old fashioned humor and some hell raisin' good times and you got something truly unique.

04) Fellowship Of The Ring
J.R.R. Tolkien is the father of modern fantasy. Period. Everything you know about elves, orcs, dwarves, trolls, etc. was collected and re-vamped by Tolkien's Lord Of The Rings series. Reading those books, assuming you don't get bogged down in the overwhelming details, you fall in love with the characters and through them the species they represent. For the first time ever, Hollywood has managed to create a decent representation of that world and from there accurately tell the story of Frodo and the other members of the Fellowship. And, they show how the fate of the greatest of societies hang on the actions of the individuals within those societies. This film showcases the strength of the bonds between people, human or not, and how those bonds allow us to overcome and endure what we think is unendurable. (NOTE: The whole series is awesome in order.)

03) Raiders Of The Lost Ark
Raiders introduced audiences to Indiana Jones, one of the unluckiest heroes in movie history. That he survived the first scenes of the film is a testament to not only his strength of will, but also to the depth of his knowledge. I think that's what got me into the Indiana Jones series. The fact that I was shown a hero that wasn't all about the action. Jones did the research, gained the knowledge he needed (and a lot more) and then used that knowledge to survive. Jones was a thinking man's hero. (NOTE: Series favorites in order: 1, 3, 2, then 4)

02) Return Of The Jedi
Star Wars borrows heavily from the trademarks of successful mythologies which, in turn, made the series into a wildly successful mythology. But out of the original trilogy, Return of The Jedi is my favorite because it took the typical payoff of the mythological story and grounded it in reality. Normally, the young upstart is trained by a old sage and then has the necessary power to defeat everything in his path. But in Jedi, that young upstart gets really good with his training, yet kind of like Icarus, bites off more than he can chew. And when he gets in trouble, who does he go to? His father. The same father who only moments before (in one of the GREATEST SPEECHES EVER!!) threatened to corrupt his own daughter's mind, now is the only salvation for his son. Coming from the fucked up family I have, I could most DEFINITELY relate! (NOTE: Series favorites in order: 6, 5, 4. Prequel Trilogy doesn't measure up.)

01) Back To The Future
The best sci-fi stories always use the technology they create to showcase some hidden aspect of the human condition. The best feature film example of this is my number one favorite movie of all time: Back To The Future. Yes, you could call it a time-travel movie, but that's not what it's really about. The movie is about a teenager seeing his parents when they were teenagers and realizing how MUCH they have in common despite the different times they lived in. A powerful statement about family and understanding that could only be brought about in a sci-fi or fantasy framework. At the same time, the movie also showcases the strengths humanity gains from it's traditions (the storytelling of the mother, which provided a contextual guide for how things were supposed to go in the past), the power of the bond between mentor and student (the Doc & Marty), and how dangerous humanity can be to itself given the improper use of technology. All of that, rolled up into ONE movie liberally dosed with fantastic music, intense writing ("What did I TELL YOU? 88 MILES PER HOUR!!!") and awesome comedy. It's no wonder that no matter what mood I'm in, I'd always watch Back To The Future and why it's my number one movie of all time.

That's my list, dear readers, what's yours?