Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

After my coconspirator* weaseled out of the weekend, I cooked turkey and fixings for some (more than I had room for, actually) of my Ultimate DeLux loved ones**. Of course, since I'm in half-gimp mode, food prep was spread over several days. However, peeling potatoes and chopping veggies are actually easy to do while seated. Unlike, say, showering.

I did realize that dry champagne is the perfect wine (if you can get it fairly cheaply, which I can) to pair with my favorite holiday meal, Thanksgiving. Try it, it's sooooooo tasty.

On the menu:
Cornbread Dressing
Sweet Potato Casserole
Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Green Beans
Salad ***
Pumpkin Pie
Pecan Pie
Lots of Wine
Good Grappa

* Scott
** And Brendan
*** As the link tells you, you don't win friends with salad, though

Thursday, November 26, 2009

What I'm Not Thankful For

Thanks to King Wally blog blocking me with his snarky thankfulness list, I am instead listing what I am NOT thankful for today. The racist fing Pilgrims can kiss my ass.

1. Heavy German Doors - This had been mildly amusing before I was on crutches, but now the German obsession for doors apparently out of plutonium is a HUGE pain in my ass.

2. Working on Thanksgiving. Ugh.

3. No Thanksgiving football.

4. Convection ovens that screw up all my recipes because of the damn fan. Ugh.

5. Missing my favorite holiday, and the one best suited for me sappily telling my friends how awesome* they are.

6. Jackholes who weasel out of cohosting Thanksgiving because they're going to London.

7. Mutant toes.

8. Morons who don't move out of the way of the guy on crutches -- I'm on crutches, who knows if I'm on pain meds or anti-psychotics? I could, AND VERY WELL MIGHT, go crazy and beat you inconsiderate asshats to death with these very crutches.

* That's pretty freaking awesome.

Allen Iverson: "All I Care About Is Winning -- And Being The Star"

Nothing says Thanksgiving like an overrated, self-centered athlete continuing his turkey impression. AI has decided that he wants to retire, unless, of course, a really good team wants to let him start and continue being a ball-hogging chucker. And what contender wouldn't want a guy that 10% of the league has cut ties with in the last year?

But, you know, AI only cares about winning. And starting. And scoring, a lot. And not practicing. And not being hassled about defense.

Maybe the Raiders could use him? He WAS a star high school quarterback, after all.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Beard Chronicles

When Brendan & I decided on our Halloween costumes, I knew it would require a commitment from me -- a commitment to facial hair. As several of my guy friends* know, this is one of the best parts of Halloween -- the growing of appropriate facial hair.

This is shortly after the very crowd-pleasing scruffy phase. It's also just under a week before the "so, when are you going to shave?" questions start.

And this is a few days AFTER those questions start.

Here I am in full CW-wannabe mode. Though I like to think of myself as one of the early CW-concept mock-ups. Damn focus groups, saying my interest in ultimate and that my alternative-spelling girlfriend wouldn't catch on. And what do they go with? DU-freaking-captain boy dating "Kaycie".

I know, you're wondering whose copyright I'm infringing with this headshot of Timberlake from "Dick in a Box". But it's really me. Of course, the last time I got caught infringing on myself, I had to clean up trash along Highway 59 for 8 Saturdays straight.

And here I am now. Any suggestions for the next step in reducing the beard?

* OK, fine. Just CW and Dave know this.

LOTR Rewatch: The Return of the King Part 2

0:30 - Oh, that Gimli. Always causing trouble.

4:35 - While I agree with Frodo's decision to panic (note a theme?), I think he's left it a bit late.

9:15 - Seeing visions of Galadriel while on the edge of Mordor? Not a good omen for the ringbearer.

12:05 - Do they still call it Greek Fire in Middle Earth?

16:25 - What happened to Frodo's impenetrable mithril vest? Or is it not spider-proof?

20:28 - How do they know the name & gender of the spider? Does she have a name tag?

21:29 - Do Tower guards not know how to check for a pulse?

22:44 - "Get the women and children out!"?!? Why weren't they already evacuated? Or is it Bring Your Family to Battle Day?

28:25 - Eomer grabs a spear out of midair -- how does that work?

32:14 - Ok, these four-tusked elephants are pretty freaky. But the bigger they are...

36:00 - Good to see Eowyn hamstring the freakshow orc. Though if they're so uncomfortable in sunlight, why aren't they all pasty? Or is this one an IT orc?

38:40 - So do flying lizards taste like chicken? Probably like really gamey dark meat.

45:00 - If you can't share a moment on a battlefield, where can you share one?

50:00 - Sam's dream come half true -- a shirtless Frodo!

51:00 - Will we never see peace among orc-kind in our time? Can't we all agree to hate men and not each other?

53:25 - It seems like Mordor is into building cool buildings but not so much into the upkeep. I respect that.

58:00 - Gandalf's desire to give up is impressive, but fortunately Aragorn is there to provide the necessary dose of sack up.

1:02:00 - Good thing the "black tongue of Mordor" isn't, technically, spoken in Mordor. That could've been awkward for the lads.

1:06:00 - This happens to me all the time at the gym -- totally exhausted after a hard workout and then out of water. I feel your pain, Frodo.

1:10:00 - And our contest for ugliest servant of Sauron has a winner! Congratulations to the guy with no eyes and no regard for dental care! I do wonder what's written around the mouth of his mask, though. And Wikipedia tells me that it says "Voice of the Dread Abomination". Thank God for nerds with time on their hands.

1:13:00 - It's pretty cool of Sauron's forces that they let Aragorn do his Henry V impression.

1:15:40 - "We're on the side of an active volcano being hunted by evil. Let's chat about the Shire!"

1:18:20 - What happened to their horses? One minute everyone is on horseback, the next they're making a charge on foot. And that reminds me, with all those horses and elephants in the earlier battle, you'd think that bodies wouldn't have been the only piles on the battlefield.

1:20:50 - If there's one thing giant eagles hate, it's flying reptiles. Who can blame them, really?

1:26:36 - "Don't you let go!" This scene is pretty much taken from "North By Northwest", except Frodo is playing the part of Eva Marie Saint.

1:30:55 - "If ever I was to marry someone, it would've been her!" So, I guess hobbits don't have gay marriage, either.

1:31:35 - Cue the first of multiple endings!

1:34:56 - And the second.

1:40:00 - And the third.

1:42:56 - Sam's just been to hell and back, so why does Rosie look like she's aged so much more than he has?

1:46:26 - It's nice of Elrond, Galadriel and Himbo to meet the ringbearers. Though Bilbo reminds me of some of Grandpa Simpson's friends at the home in this scene.

1:52:12 - And the fourth.

1:53:52 - And the fifth. And final! Aaaaaaaannnndddddd, we're done.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Travel: Trieste, April 2009

While going through my 13,000+ photos from my 4 years in Germany, I realized that I never posted any from my 2 days in Trieste in April. I've added my usual snarky captions. Enjoy!

LOTR Rewatch: The Return of the King Part 1

0:00 - So, after he got jobbed at the Oscars for no Best Supporting Actor, I guess that Peter Jackson figured he'd throw Andy Serkis a bone and give him a scene sans makeup. Though without makeup, he still looks a bit freaky.

4:15 - And even given the ring's pent-up hostility, what kind of psychos are they? Smeagol jumps into "my precious" homicidal, raw fish mode with no real resistance.

6:35 - If Sauron's such a great magician/craftsman, why can't the ring give the bearer decent teeth and hair in addition to long life?

9:30 - I have to say, this forest looks only slightly more real than a set from Plan 9 From Outer Space.

10:00 - More "pipeweed"-induced giggling. And eating. I think one of the deleted scenes has Pippin hollowing out an apple for "better smoking".

12:45 - "We shall have peace when you hang!" Not exactly the offer of parlay Saruman was hoping for.

17:00 - So, I'm guessing that wasn't how Gandalf's master plan was going to play out. Far more dramatic than Saruman's end in the book, though. At least it gave Pippin a chance to go back to being less-than-useless.

23:00 - I like the reflection version of the Smeagol-Gollum personalities better than the camera rotation.

27:30 - Aragorn should probably omit his late-night visit to Eowyn when he tells Arwen about his trip. Even elvish wisdom only goes so far.

30:30 - Even the post-victory celebration is a venue for Pippin's preternatural ability to cause trouble. If he were to host Sesame Street it would turn into a bloodbath in minutes after he accidentally caused the set to collapse when "accidentally" pulling out a cornerstone.

41:30 - After an extended "Should I stay or should I go?" scene from Arwen, we get a pulse-pounding ... blacksmithing scene. Nothing gets kids today fired up like a good smithing.

43:30 - First, how is Minas Tirith the "city of kings" if they haven't had a king in thousands of years. Second, how sweet is that view?

49:40 - For a bloodthirsty mob, the orcs' fear of sunlight is a bit underwhelming.

52:30 - For all his bluster, you can see that Gandalf is quite enjoying Pippin finally getting himself into trouble rather than screwing it up for everyone else. I do wish there had been a scene where Gandalf reminded Pippin that Gandalf wouldn't have died if not for a certain hobbit jackhole.

55:30 - Ok, I was wrong. I think that the glowing Minas Morgul is cooler than Barad-Dur.

59:15 - Why does Gollum think it's such a great idea to climb while the army is marching below?

1:01:30 - I don't think these boats in the mist bode well for Faramir's next father-son chat.

1:05:40 - Ok, the beacons are pretty cool.

1:09:10 - Why doesn't Merry offer his sword to Aragorn? Seems a bit ungrateful to the guy who's kept his shit together for 2 movies now. Instead he volunteers to serve Theoden, who was ready to give up until, you guessed it, Aragorn talked him back from the edge.

1:12:10 - Celebrate the Age of the Orc -- Visit Mordor!

1:16:30 - Another happy family scene in the house of the crazy steward! Just imagine what family gatherings were like when the booze started flowing.

1:17:45 - Ok, since the army is still marching, I guess I see why Gollum thought they should start early. Never put off 'til tomorrow the betrayal you can start today!

1:19:40 - "Courage is the best defense you have now"? Are you fing kidding me? Why not just tell the men to slit their own throats before the orcs can?

1:23:00 - This whole bit about wishing Faramir were dead instead of Boromir was taken from an old "My Three Sons" episode. Of course, that ended with Chip snapping and beating his father to death with his own pipe. Watch for it on TV Land!

1:27:00 - Sam's beginning to develop anger management issues. Frodo should probably mention this to Rosie BEFORE the wedding..

1:32:20 - Not a good sign for your calvary when the music is a baleful hobbit dirge, ending with "all shall fade".

1:36:50 - So, only men that have been to war should go to war? Nice logic, Eomer.

1:40:20 - You're going to lose. You're outnumbered. You're ruined my daughter's immortal life. Elrond's just a bundle of joy, isn't he?

1:43:00 - Getting rejected on the eve of battle -- nothing fires up a lass more than that!

1:49:00 - The hobbit and the woman riding together to fight not just evil, but sexism and heightism! I believe this is being developed into a full-length movie for Lifetime.

1:50:50 - It seems like a waste of a good troll to have them just drumming.

1:57:00 - That is a lot of skulls. You can tell Jackson misses his days as a maker of horror flims.

2:01:10 - So, Denethor didn't want to call Theoden, but now Theoden has betrayed him? You can't argue with crazy.

2:01:35 - You can't argue with crazy, but you can beat it senseless with a stick.

2:04:35 - "Don't give into fear!"?!? I've gotta side with the guys panicking. Flying reptiles ridden by sorcerous wraiths are one of my approved times for giving into fear*.

2:07:35 - Orcs chanting the name of the huge-ass battering ram is a good segway into lunch!

* Also on the list are 5-foot long snakes in the wild, birds in closed spaces and relationships.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Hmmmm, Whaddya Know?

I still want to punch Lou Holtz when I hear his voice, even after 4 years away. Who would've guessed? THAT should be a 30 For 30 topic -- the most annoying coach ever.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Well, That's Seinfeldipitous

While watching "The Marble Rye" from Season 7 of Seinfeld today, the Notes About Nothing informed me that the night scenes were filmed on Nov 21, 1995. It's pretty sweet* to be watching the episode on the 14th anniversary of Jerry reeling in a marble rye.

I have to admit, I look forward to springing Frank Costanza's hen-rooster-chicken dilemma ("So they all have sex with the chicken? That's perverse!") on an unsuspecting German audience son. The lack of popularity of the best non-animated sitcom, ever, in Germany means that I have an endless series of amusing anecdotes where I do material from the show to a variety of responses. Stay tuned for follow-ups!

* i.e., pathetic

Friday, November 20, 2009

LOTR Rewatch: The Two Towers Part 2

2:45 - Ok, the romantic interlude is not working for me. That it's in Elvish makes the dialogue slightly less cheesy, but still.

8:30 - Hooray for warg-riders to save us from the sappiness! I'm sure the Rohirrim will agree that a few deaths is a small price to pay for the end of the treacle.

13:55 - I'm glad my doctor went with the normal stitches instead of the orc-style metal plates. They look cool, but with the dorf's drizzly weather, they'd rust in a hurry.

15:20 - "We're safe!" Not so fast, darlin'.

17:00 - For someone who is, at best, the other woman to an elf princess, Eowyn sure takes Aragorn's "death" hard.

18:05 - Gunpowder! What wizardry is this?

20:10 - Note to self: when plummeting off a cliff while tied to a nasty beast, be sure to pass out in the river face UP. Also make sure your horse has more faith in your survival ability than do your friends.

31:45 - The creepy Boromir death flashback doesn't really inspire one with confidence in Faramir. Though the fact that Boromir thought to bring kegs to a battle is great.

34:55 - Talk about overbearing fathers! No wonder Boromir went ring-crazy. Better life as a ringwraith than that home life.

38:05 - Faramir's not the only one to be taken aback to hear that Gollum is "bound" to Frodo.

49:00 - Theoden's not the most optimistic guy, is he?

53:00 - Maybe Legolas, Gimli & Aragorn know more than me, but trashing the guys you're going to war with doesn't seem like the best move to me.

59:20 - The elves sure know how to give off an air of insufferable arrogance, don't they?

1:01:00 - Hordes of orcs and now rain? Wonderful!

1:20:00 - Ah, Pippin, a rare moment of usefulness. Perhaps being taller helped?

1:28:30 - Did Gimli get stuck with horn duty because he can't ride to save his life?

1:30:00 - The attack of the ents is like a dream come true to many a Greenpeace-nik.

1:34:35 - "It's your Sam!" Way to put those rumors to rest, Sam. And which is the more bizarre love triangle, Sam-Frodo-Smeagol or Frodo-Ring-Gollum?

1:36:45 - "What are we holding onto, Sam?" Um, Dreams of future showers? Lice? Shreds of heterosexuality?

1:41:30 - Hmmmm... giggling after finding "weed". More fuel for the fire, so to speak.

1:43:00 - "Go with the good will of all men" Except, of course, all those working for Sauron. Not as friendly, that bunch.

1:45:00 - So, what happened to the crazy mountain men Saruman hired? They plundered a village and then just headed for the hills?

1:47:30 - Don't Frodo & Sam ever wonder what Smeagol is saying during his extended monologues? Or is he just so bat-shit crazy that they figure it's normal behavior?

Adventures in Recovery

One of the joys of crutches is that previously mindless tasks, such as going to the bathroom or taking a bath, become exciting new adventures. Which I rediscovered again yesterday as I learned that my bath outside my tub isn't nearly as stationary as its normally immobile state implies. Instead, it's a death trap lying in wait for the careless gimp to put a crutch on and ... BOOM! The next thing you know, I have to gimp (it's a verb and a noun, deal with it) my ass to the doctor for an x-ray (much cooler German name: Röntgen, after the discoverer). Prognosis: the pain is just a friendly reminder from my body not to be a dumbass, rather than an indicator of a major problem. Hooray?

On the bright side, the mass of gauze wrapping my foot has now been replaced by a rather underwhelming bandage.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

An Inalienable Right to Hang Laundry?

Apparently, people across the USA are having laundry problems -- annoying housing associations preventing people from line-drying their clothes. What's really shocking about the article, though, is that one of the women featured is writing a book about the issue. Maybe I'm a bit out of touch with American literary trends, but a book about air-drying clothes?

LOTR Rewatch: The Two Towers Part 1

1:45 - You have to respect Jackson's decision to milk the cool bad guy for all he can -- too bad Lucas didn't start Attack of the Clones with more Darth Maul bad-assery.

2:15 - This does remind me of something my granddad taught me -- never turn your back on demons carrying whips of fire. Duh.

4:45 - To quote Han Solo, "Nice work, Sam [Chewie]-- always thinkin' with your stomach". Having the ringbearer risk his life for your box of Shire salt -- smart work, tubby.

13:45 - This is remarkably similar to a walking tour of Amsterdam that Dan, April and I took. Just replace all the rocks with 18th-century buildings, stinking marshes with canals and Gollum with a witty tour guide, and there you go!

15:50 - I'm pretty sure that these Uruk-hai are just Arsenal fans that missed one of their monthly showers. Smart casting, that.

18:20 - This chase scene is really just another step in Gimli's tragic slide into comic reliefdom.

19:10 - Isengard is now in desperate need of a Queer Eye for the Straight (or maybe not -- not even a whiff of a Mrs. Saruman) Wizard makeover.

22:50 - It's hard to be snarky when so many innocents are being killed, but a blogger does what he must.

25:00 - Is it just me, or does Wormtongue remind you of Karl Rove?

29:00 - Just when you think a normal orc is annoying, here comes the whiny one. Evil, filthy, violent AND a voice like fingernails on a chalkboard? Ugh.

30:20 - And apparently his manager agreed.

33:00 - It's weird how you get a bunch of dudes dressed in leather and steel and the testosterone just oozes out of every pore.

38:15 - "What madness drove them [into Fangorn]?" Gimli, were you not listening to the part about the battle and the orcs chasing them?

42:00 - After his success as a guide, I think that a GPS with Gollum's voice would be a big seller. "After 200 meterssssss, take a left, nasty hobbitsessss!"

49:55 - I don't think the Nazgul were hunting the ring -- I think they're just joyriding on their sweet new flying reptiles.

53:25 - Hey, look, it's Gandalf! In clean clothes! And with what seems to be a rather nasty case of identity theft.

54:15 - It looks cool, but why is there a tower built into the peak of the mountain? One man's vanity project is another's dramatic platform for smiting.

58:00 - If Shadowfax is such a buddy of Gandalf's, why did he sit out the first movie? Contract demands?

1:04:00 - I have to say, troll-powered automatic doors are pretty cool.

1:05:40 - Evil henchmen are much less threatening when they wear mascara.

1:08:30 - Dreaming of a huge pile of pipeweed? Not even my heavy-smoking friends have dreams about piles of Marlboros. Kumar on the other hand...

1:14:10 - Hitting on Eowyn while she's grieving -- sleazy and counterproductive. No wonder Wormtongue thinks Saruman is his only chance to score.

1:19:00 - I love how Gandalf completely ignores the fight going on around him. Just another day at the office.

1:25:00 - Ok, the burial singing is nice and all, but I'd prefer to skip to the orcs.

1:30:30 - One problem with having a horse-based culture be a focus of the movie is the recurrent "dramatic" riding scenes. Followed, of course, by the spellbinding horse-whispering of Aragorn!

1:33:00 - "You stink of horse" Saruman's not exactly the king of witty reparteé, is he?

1:35:05 - So, Aragorn has a thing for strong, independent women. That's a feather in his cap!

1:39:00 - The first appearance of the Smeagol/Gollum dual personalities, good times!

1:42:00 - Fish 'n Chips or sashimi? I've gotta side with Smeagol on this one, as long as the fish in question is tuna and not cod. Then Sam's got the right idea.

1:46:00 - Ah, Faramir, battlefield philosopher.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Separated at Birth?

While watching "The Two Towers," I noticed that Faramir bears a striking resemblance to a young Irish lad of my acquaintance. Thoughts?

Thanks for Robin "Jackhole" Giller for the photo of his brother

LOTR Rewatch: Fellowship of the Ring Part 2

2:20 - (Time from flipping the disc) Bilbo's bit of crazy here woke me up after the extremely slow interlude in Rivendell.

3:45 - Time for more walking!

4:45 - While stirring, this focus-on-each-character scene is exactly the kind of padding that's important in a long movie. When else will you go to the bathroom?

9:15 - The whole avalanche scene seems like the perfect place for a product placement for North Face's Gore-Tex Robes.

14:30 - After seeing Saruman conjure up a storm, Gandalf's inability to open the doors is rather underwhelming.

18:30 - I've gotta blame Pippin for the attack of the lake creature -- such a moron.

20:30 - So, what did the dwarves do with all the rock they carved out to make Moria? Is there a huge pile of rubble on the other side of the lake?

26:00 - As Gandalf goes to read the story of Balin, you can see the idiocy building in Pippin's eyes. Who can read when there's so much trouble to be caused?

32:30 - The moron twins finally are of some use -- all it took was Frodo's apparent death to get them moving.

40:00 - Gandalf can't take Saruman, but he's ok to face off the Balrog?

42:00 - Or maybe not.

44:15 - And cue second elvish interlude. Only Enya was excited about this.

49:00 - Am I the only one that thinks Galadriel's man is a himbo?

1:00:00 - How bored is the orc with the history lesson? Why does boring old man insist on delaying the killing?

1:01:10 - How does an orc get stuck with the job of Uruk-Hai dresser?

1:03:50 - Christmas comes early for the fellowship!

1:11:00 - Ok, the giant statues are pretty cool.

1:16:30 - Why is it so windy in Ring-world?

1:28:00 - For 6 (Frodo and Sam kind of weaseled) vs a horde, losing 1 while taking out, what, 100 orcs isn't bad. Unless, of course, you're Boromir.

1:29:40 - I thought at first they were pulling an Obi-Wan with Gandalf in the movie. But no, just a memory.

1:30:30 - And so start the rumors of The Love Which Hobbits Dare Not Name

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

LOTR Rewatch: Fellowship of the Ring Part 1

In my gimpdom, I've decided to rewatch the Lord of the Rings extended editions. And, of course, I have snarky comments to share. Enjoy!

1:15 - Galadriel has man hands. And why do the rings for humans look like yearbook rings?

2:00 - Sauron has something of a beer gut - perhaps ring-forging isn't very good exercise?

5:25 - Note to self: do not trust magic rings imbued with all the malice of evil beings. It's pretty much the worst girlfriend, ever -- beautiful, alluring, exciting, but sucks the life out of you and abandons you whenever it best suits its needs. Also, it apparently prevents the owner from having other female companionship (see: Gollum; Baggins, Bilbo; and Baggins, Frodo) yet doesn't give any of the other benefits of a girlfriend. Or so we hope.

10:00 - It's impressive just how fugly most of the adult hobbits are. Apart from those with named roles, of course.

17:30 - The Sackville-Bagginses: the forgotten villains of the Lord of the Rings.

19:30 - I realize that it's supposed to be tobacco, but Bilbo raving about "the finest weed in the South Farthing", and the characters' devoted obsession to it, make me think that "pipeweed" is at least partially responsible for hobbits' massive appetites.

20:25 - It's not surprising that Sam is head over heels for Rosie -- she's the only hot hobbit. Strong work, Sam. Or it would be, if he actually did anything.

24:30 - Bilbo really sets the standard for sneakily snarky birthday toasts to moochers you don't really like. A small niche, granted, but one that he thoroughly dominates.

31:30 - Gandalf does a spectacular job of weaseling out of any explanations here. And Sauron wins Best Villainous Lair until further notice.

33:00 - And now, Gandalf goes to ... the library!

38:00 - So, Frodo's big solution is... hide the ring under some papers. In a chest. In his house.

41:30 - Frodo has to leave NOW, because he's being chased by horrid, nasty things. Gandalf has to go hang out with his wizard buddy. But Sam should be a fine replacement.

44:00 - Aaaaaaannnnnddddd the long walk begins.

47:00 - Time for Gandalf the Grey to chat with Saruman the Slovenly.

50:00 - What is it about Christopher Lee that makes him so good at playing the powerful good wizard turned to evil (see also: Dooku, Count)? I think it's the combination of the eyebrows and the teeth.

56:00 -- So, Sauron's top henchmen can't cross water? No wonder they get flying lizards in the next flick.

1:00:00 - And Pippin's streak of uselessness begins.

1:05:00 - Another weakness of the Nazgul? Not so good at telling live bodies from pillows. They also always fall for the old flaming-bag-of-dog-crap trick on the doorstep of Barad-Dur.

1:09:30 - So is Saruman just going to starve Gandalf to death? Or did he forget about him with all the orc-excitement?

1:16:30 - This is the evil Middle-Earth equivalent of the scene in every A-Team episode where they have to build something. Just replace welding with molten steel and a battering ram with big-ass orcs.

1:23:10 - Nice to know that even Nazgul panic -- they stupidly try to outrun the river rather than just riding to either shore. SIlly ringwraiths!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Sign Your Company Has Been Horribly Mismanaged

When the NY Times has an article with the headline, "G.M., Citing Progress, Reports Loss of $1.15 Billion." Hooray! Only $1.15 billion!

Thought Of The Day

Nothing feels better than finally scratching an itch you couldn't reach. Sooooooo good! And get your minds out of the gutter -- I'm not speaking euphemistically.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Wait, SUDAN Will Be Calmer?

It takes a pretty bad situation to warrant this quote by Algerian Football Association president, Mohammad Rawrawa:

"We will win on Wednesday in Sudan because the atmosphere will be calmer.”

Um, what? Apparently Egyptian security is so bad that Algeria is looking forward to a going to a country wracked by civil war. That's some nice work, Lou.

On the plus side for Egypt, their coach, Hassan Shehata, does sport a sweet mustache.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

My Tummy Track Marks

When I went to the pharmacy to pick up my medicine for my foot surgery, I was a bit surprised to get a box full of syringes. Um, what? One of the many reasons* I didn't pursue a career in medicine was that I had no desire to stick people with needles**.

When I expressed my surprise to my doctor, he countered with surprise that I didn't know how to give myself a shot. I told him the theory was perfectly clear, but that I didn't fall into the three categories of self-injectors:
1. People with chronic medical problems, such as diabetes or repeated rabies scares
2. Heroin users
3. General freaks that inject themselves for fun, like Slipknot fans.

He did not share my lack of enthusiasm, and now I'm in the first category and get the joy of shooting my stomach*** full of something (placebo?) every morning. Which has led me to the nice line of horizontal track marks you see above. I can't wait to wear my belly shirts -- track marks + tummy hair = Sexxxxxxyyyyyyyy!

* Laziness and lack of concern for fellow human beings were also high on the list
** With some exceptions. I'm looking at you, Pelosi and Hannity.
*** It's the most convenient significant fatty deposit I have.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Year of Good Books: October

Another good month of books, if not quite up to the standard set in September. Again, no dogs, though nothing warranting 5 stars, either.

The Eye of the World - Robert Jordan starts his fantasy series The Wheel of Time here, and I went back and reread it in anticipation of the release of the 12th installment of the series, The Gathering Storm. It's fast-paced, fairly self-contained, yet it also sets the seeds for the series, some of which have yet to be resolved (frustrating, yet impressive planning on Jordan's part). If you like epic fantasy, this is top-notch, with the characters fully developed and distinct. Highly recommended!

The Rescue Artist (or Stealing the Scream, in Europe) - Edward Dolnick tells the story of the theft of, and attempts at recovery of, Edvard Munch's The Scream. He interweaves it with stories of other art thefts and the hunts for the missing treasures, some recovered, some not. Informative and fun true crime!

The Year of Living Biblically - AJ Jacobs spent a year trying to follow all the rules of the Bible (8 months Old Testament, 4 New), while his wife spends 12 months trying not to kill her rather annoying husband. It's hilarious and filled with lots of biblical trivia (did you know the Bible forbids wearing clothes made of a mixture of fibers?), in addition to serious looks into the reasons behind these rules, he also visits a variety of Jewish and Christian believers of all flavors, from ultra-Orthodox to ultra-liberal. Lots of fun, but one best served by discussing with others*.

* or yourself, if you have multiple, conversant personalities

Dearly Devoted Dexter - Jeff Lindsay's sequel to "Darkly Dreaming Dexter" is a fun romp with the blood-splatter-analyst-by-day, serial-killer-by-night. His biggest adversary? His apparent descent into couch-potato-normalcy. Light, dumb fun, a good break from the slightly more intellectual reading of the month.

Born Standing Up - Steve Martin's memoir of his early life through the end of his stand up career was more a listen than a read, but I did enjoy hearing his voice throughout. However, for someone who knows only a smattering of his routines, this was frustrating, as he explained only bits of his material, leaving me a bit confused WHY he was so popular. Far fewer laughs than I'd hoped for, and wayyyy too serious.

Rogue Trader - Nick Leeson's autobiography understandably puts the blame for Barings' fall more on senior management than on his on HUGE mistakes, and that portion rings true. Leeson is more than willing to admit his own problems, though he does tend to emphasize what he sees as mitigating circumstances -- pressure from above, a desire to live up to expectations, etc. However, it's also quite clear that senior management was unconcerned with how he was making money -- only that he was (or, at least, was APPEARING to). What's especially galling is that the EXACT same attitude was present in the major banks in the recent crisis, and the governing bodies showed a similar disinterest in actually blaming those responsible -- the execs and the boards of directors of the various banks.

The Know-It-All - AJ Jacobs's first gimmick book was his story of reading the Encyclopaedia Brittanica cover-to-cover. And as annoying as he was in his year of biblical life, he's ten times more annoying here. He comes off as completely asocial, seemingly only reading the encyclopaedia to come up with obscure facts to throw into conversations he's otherwise unable to be a part of (of course, I do this far too often, so it hit home). It's funny and informative, but I would strongly recommend at least a month between AJ Jacobs books.

Kurt Thomas, Welcome to My World

Every so often, you read a sports story that warms your heart and makes you think of how all humans are interconnected. This NY Times* piece is one of those. It details how some NBA players (notably Jason Kapono and Jameer Nelson) almost never dunk, and Oscar Freaking Robertson never dunked in his entire NBA career. Dwight Howard, whose offensive game is almost entirely predicated on dunks, described Nelson's single NBA dunk as, "He has dunked, I think that was on NBA Live 2005,” Howard said, referring to the video game." Heh.

Take heart, guys. Just as Jerry chose not to run, we can all claim we choose not to dunk.

* Yeah, so I'm reading while laid up from surgery. Sue me.

Pop Stars & Politics -- Gutless The World Over

The NY Times has an interesting video (click to watch, you might have to register, I don't know) about Pakistani pop stars singing out against the US, not the Taliban. According to some of them, the Taliban is a very minor problem, in spite of the bombing of 200 girls schools. Of course, this is the safe way to appear politically active in Pakistan -- just like opposing the war in Iraq (AFTER the invasion) was for US pop stars or jingoistic flag-waving has been since Lee Greenwood. The best part is at the end where the alternative band says that it's the duty of mainstream stars to criticize the Taliban while the mainstream stars imply that alternative bands should do it. It's good to know that seeking popularity through shallow displays of political awareness isn't just the curse of American pop music.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Swine Flu Vaccines for Citi, Goldman Sachs -- Who Cares?

I don't understand why people are so annoyed that Citigroup and Goldman Sachs received doses of swine flu vaccine for at-risk employees. After all, if the execs at the major banks were to get sick, it would cripple our nation's ability to lose gargantuan amounts of money. These banks are a crucial national reservoir of ethically-immune behavior -- we can't risk losing these skills!

Ireland 2009: Day 1 -- Dublin

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Photos from my day in Dublin last month. The sunlight and blue skies are real -- no photoshop needed! Click the photos above to see larger versions.

Is This Really Sign-Worthy?

How many people have to wash their horse in a park parking lot to merit a sign prohibiting the practice? I do like the graphic of the horse shower, though.

Why Europeans Think All Americans Are Fat

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Here I am, walking the streets of Dublin, and what do I see? A Bacon Sandwich. For breakfast. Now, while this sounded delicious, I had to pass it up as I had just eaten. But when the "healthy" fast food chain starts hawking sandwiches filled with everyone's favorite artery-clogger, it might indicate a country with a food problem...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Screeching Is The New Singing

At JT's German Adventure, we try to bring you the best in the worst of entertainment. And Yoko Ono has, once again, stepped up to the plate. Wow. Just, wow. I guess this explains why John Lennon's will requested that he be buried with his ears plugged. With lead.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Word of the Month: Trenting

With tasty stout lurking around every corner, roads narrower than many sidewalks and all (legal) driving been done Bizarro-world fashion on the left, Ireland is basically a verdant island of entrapment for DUIs. This makes it crucial for all conscientious travelers to have a DD. But if your main candidate* weasels out of driving, what can you do?

Answer: you trent like there's no tomorrow. As soon as the car stops in the vicinity of a pub, you race to get your pint**, ensuring that the driving duties fall to the other Hertz-approved driver.

So, why is it called trenting? Several years ago, an acquaintance was scheduled to drive to an ultimate tournament at 6 a.m. one Saturday morning. He had stayed out late at the LL Cool J*** concert and so wanted to sleep on the 4 hour drive, but promised to drive the return leg that night. Cut to the semi-finals, and I find my acquaintance, on the sidelines, holding two beers while his team struggled to reach the finals. When I ask why he's drinking and not playing, he replies, "I don't want to drive home, so if I'm too drunk, I don't have to." In his (admittedly lame) defence, he did add that he didn't think his team would win and so that made it ok. The acquaintance's name? If you guessed Trent, you win a prize!

In the interest of his anonymity, I won't give his last name online. But if you buy me a beer early enough in the evening so I don't have to drive home, I will tell you his last name :)

* Let's call her Meryl K., no, too obvious, we'll go with M. Kusyk
** The mental strain of driving on the wrong side means that one pint is enough to pass the keys.
*** Yes, we mocked him for this.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Fun With Photos - Bovine Edition

I like how the cow in the foreground is trying to act like it is grazing while it's really watching the attempt at a rectal exam in front it.

I should also mention that 10 seconds later Franzi said, "Look, they're playing!" and we had to inform her that they weren't trying to play leapfrog.