Saturday, January 31, 2009

Three Miscellaneous Internet Items

1. I saw this on Facebook today; it's if Hitler were an Aggie football fan.

I don't know what movie this is from, but there are a bunch of versions of this on YouTube. The funniest one I've seen was probably the one about the Cowboys-Giants playoff game last year (with Hitler as a Cowboys fan. Who owns a T.O. jersey).

2. The 'sband and I watched one of the world's greatest movies last night: The Princess Bride. Also, here is a recent Daisy Owl strip about it.

3. One of my friends just had a baby. One of my other friends (it's Nancy) told me about a site with funny e-cards, I sent one of them to the first friend, although this isn't it:

Click here to read more . . .

Friday, January 30, 2009

Flight of the Conchords: Second Helping

Writing that first blog entry sent me on a Flight of the Conchords YouTube voyage. Songs from their live shows are pretty fun to watch. I haven't seen many songs that didn't make it onto the show, but this is the best one I did find:

However, I didn't turn up anything as good as what Neal found: Bret in Lord of the Rings!

Those two seemingly innocuous lines have now become hilarious. (He also shows up in a council meeting in Fellowship of the Ring, but he's in the background and we had to zoom way in to decide if it was him or not.) I feel like they missed a real opportunity not putting a reference to that in "Frodo, Don't Wear the Ring," even if it is pretty darn funny anyway.

Also, Neal somehow remembered that it was Jemaine in those goofy Outback Steakhouse commercials of yore:

I barely remembered that those existed, let alone what the dude looked like. (Speaking of, it's quite a compliment that Bret got cast as an elf, eh? Not one that Jemaine would get. But he has fake goofy Australian who eats at a fake Australian restaurant as consolation!) It's extra funny now on top of the New Zealand-Australia rivalry stuff from the show:

Good times.
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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Wheel! Of! Fortune!

I've been getting kind of into Wheel of Fortune lately (as I mentioned on facebook). I used to watch it with my parents, but never made an effort t see it on my own. But then I noticed--I've gotten kind of good at it. It's pretty fun. After the 'sband and I saw a woman win about $50,000 the other day, he was like, "You should go on this show."

It seems like a show it would be kind of trying to be a contestant on. When I was trying out for Jeopardy!, they emphasized that luck is a big factor in how well anybody does--some days the categories will go your way, and some days they don't. But a contestant on Wheel of Fortune is even more at the mercy of luck--leaving aside the caprice of the wheel, there just aren't that many puzzles, so there aren't that many chances to build up your money. On the other hand, you get to keep what you win, no matter what place you come in, which is nice. Out of curiousity, I looked up the application.

Wheel of Fortune seems to have tons of theme weeks, and that's reflected in the application. They ask: are you a teacher? What grade? Are you an NFL fan? Are you an NBA fan? Are you a WNBA fan? Are you an MLB fan? For all those sports, they also ask your favorite team and favorite player. Are you in the Armed Forces? What branch? Are you a NASCAR fan? Who's your favorite driver? Are you a country music fan? Who's your favorite singer? Are you a soap opera fan? What's your favorite soap opera? Who's your favorite soap opera actor/actress? Do you have a child between the ages of 10 and 17? Do you have a son/daughter who will be graduating from high school or college? And, most curiously--do you have a pet, and what kind?

I understand the sports player thing and the kid thing, because they often have teams of two--but the pet thing? They wouldn't have you bring your pet, would they? And if they didn't, what's the point? "Hey, it's theme week--all these players are dog owners! Wow, what an elite group!"

Also, this raises a conundrum. Say I were to apply--would I claim to be a WNBA/MLB/NASCAR fan? I guess that would compromise the integrity of Wheel Of Fortune Sports (and NASCAR) Fan Weeks. On the other hand, it would raise my chances to get on the show, right? And it's certainly more of a gray area to claim to be a fan of something than claiming to be a teacher. But then, back on hand one, who wants to play Wheel of Fortune with some NASCAR dude?

I could say I was an NFL fan with clear conscience, though. I would pick the Packers and A. J. Hawk. (He's my favorite because at the local movie theater, he stars in the little commercial thing telling you to turn off your cell phones.)
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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Flight of the Conchords

As of tonight, the 'sband and I have watched all but one of the episodes of the first season of Flight of the Conchords. It's odd and quirky and funny--I'm not going to say it's the funniest thing I've ever seen, but I'm definitely glad I've seen it.

Jemaine and Bret, the members of the band Flight of the Conchords (a novelty-songs duo from New Zealand) play Jemaine and Bret, who are members of the band Flight of the Conchords (a novelty-songs duo from New Zealand.) Each episode has a plot about them being down-on-their luck musicians who are trying to make it big, and then they break into song sometimes.

In my opinion, these are the top three songs from season 1 (unless there's something totally awesome in that last episode--fingers crossed!):

3) "Business Time" (I was going to put this one first, but its doesn't keep up its hilarity on repeat viewings as well as the other two. Also, it's about adult intimate private happenings, just so you know.)

2) "Hiphopopotamus vs. Rhymenoceros" (which are just the greatest rap names ever. Also, the episode this song is in, "Mugged," gets my vote as greatest episode. It's hilarious.)

1) "Most Beautiful Girl"

Apparently, the second season is showing now on HBO, which is probably pretty exciting for people who have that.
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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

It Is What It Is

I don't feel very creative or energetic today, so I didn't think of anything I wanted to write about. However, since I am committed to the streak, I'm just going to post a whole bunch of adorable pictures.


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Monday, January 26, 2009


I just got done reading Dune. I got the impulse to do so from this article on Television Without Pity (I'm starting to wonder if I should fear that website's influence on me) about how there's a new film version of it just getting underway. Also, there are lots of references to it in Questionable Content. And Neal already had it, so it was right there. Plus, it doesn't hurt that reading Dune apparently bolsters my nerd cred (although, let's face it, my nerd cred is never going to be wholly legit until I finally cowboy up and read The Lord of the Rings. Siiiiiigh).

I thought it was pretty good. It's one of those books that lets you try to figure out what's going on on the story's universe before it explains it to you, which is fun--although at the end I often have the feeling that not every loose end was as tied up as I would like. Also, I agree with my mom, who had told me that she read it and enjoyed it, but when she went back to re-read the good parts, she couldn't find any. It was interesting as a whole, but I can't think of any particular scene that had me glued to my seat. There are some pretty great secondary characters, though. My favorite (and I suppose you could count this as a spoiler) is the main character (Paul) 's little sister, Alia. That little chick crazy.

Despite the engaging characters, sweet sci-fi settings, and big actions scenes, I can see why attempts to make it into a movie have not been well received. It's pretty complicated, riding on understandings of complex religious and political structures. Besides that, a lot of the book is made up of characters very closely observing others and unraveling their motivations. How do you do that on film? Or rather, how do you do that well on film?

I haven't decided whether I'm going to read the sequels or not. I hear they get weirder and also, they aren't right here in my apartment so I'd have to put some actual effort into getting a hold of them. Decisions, decisions.

Finally, when I Google image searched "dune," it gave me suggested related searches of "dune movie," "sand dune," "dune book," and "fjord." If that doesn't crack you up, then you and I are very different people.
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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Review of Star Wars: The Clone Wars: The Motion Picture: Saving a Baby Hutt, for Some Reason

About a week and a half ago, the 'sband and I got around to watching Star Wars: The Clone Wars (The Movie). It wasn't, like, terrible. Neal has watched episodes of the Clone Wars TV show, and he said the movie was pretty much exactly the same, except longer. It seems like it would be pretty decent for something you'd watch on Cartoon Network, but I'm glad we didn't go see it in the theater.

The biggest negatives I'd read in reviews didn't seem that bad to me. I read that it was like watching somebody else play a video game--fight, cutscene, fight, cutscene--but I thought it gelled better than that. I'd also seen complaints about baby-Hutt slapstick (since Anakin and his Sassy Padawan have to rescue Jabba the Hutt's infant son for reasons that aren't entirely convincing), but there was barely any of that.

The dialogue is pretty stilted, even for Star Wars. It got less rather than more annoying as the movie went along, though. Also, the new Sith-ish villain they introduce is kind of lame. She has the two-lightsabers thing going on, but never used them to do two different things at once, which annoyed me (instead of blocking Obi-Wan's blade with both of yours, use one to block and the other to cut his legs off! COME ON!). She also couldn't manage to kill the 11-year-old Sassy Padawan with them, either. Weak. The thing I just couldn't stop noticing was the voice acting on Obi-Wan. Like I mentioned to Neal, it was like the voice actor gave very serious thought to the role: "What is the essence of Ewan McGregor's performance as Obi-Wan Kenobi?" he asked himself. "I've got it! Smugness. Pure, unadulterated smugness. I'm going to be awesome at this."

The biggest "Wait . . . what?" factor in the movie is definitely the gay Hutt. See, Jabba has this uncle, Ziro, who lives on Coruscant, making it convenient for Padme to go try to negotiate with him (side note: this happens about two thirds of the way through the movie, and until it did, I had completely forgotten that Padme existed. I didn't miss her when she wasn't there, apparently). You wouldn't think a being without feet could mince, but you'd be wrong. Displaying his customary level of cultural sensitivity, Lucas apparently watched scenes of this character--a craven, highly-strung, gaudily adorned nightclub owner, and decreed, "I want him to sound like Truman Capote." . . . It's weird, is what I'm trying to say.

So, as ever, the key is expectations. If you go into this with low expectations, expecting it to be more like a high-quality Saturday morning cartoon show than a big budget summer blockbuster, it's . . . fine.
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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Things That Happened Today

We had brinner--breakfast for dinner. This involved pancakes. It was much more successful than last night's supper, which left me seriously pondering the likelihood of throwing it all back up. The only negative consequence of the pancakes was getting syrup on my pants. And that's much better than what usually happens with me and syrup, which is that I get it in my hair. (This happens much more often than it should to an adult woman.)

As I indicated in my Twitter, we bought a wall clock for the living room--finally. I hate wearing a watch at home (I have the same attitude toward shoes), so I was always craning around to see the time on the microwave. Heaven help me if the timer was on for laundry or something. Now I will always know the times! (Caveat: the ticking is incredibly loud. Vegas is running odds as to whether by the end of the week, I will have gotten used to it or thrown it frisbee-style into the road to be crushed repeatedly by buses.)

Also, I was going to tell you more about the red coat I have mentioned in Tha Twitta, but it doesn't make sense to go on and on and on and on about how great I think it is without any pictures, and my cell phone takes terrible pictures. Other avenues of bringing you photographic evidence of the hottness of my coat also failed. Consider this topic pending.

I thought about doing a post about how it's really weird that such a large proportion of our recent presidents have been left-handed, but the topic has been really thoroughly covered. So you got this instead. What's important is: the streak continues!
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Friday, January 23, 2009

Things I Need to Stop Doing

1. Getting into political argument with strangers on the internet. This is never rewarding, and yet I keep taking the bait. It has to stop. (Especially on other people's facebook statuses. Sorry about that, Chestertonian Rambler.)

2. Looking for live singing performances from the Sixties on YouTube, because no matter how hard I try, I will never find something that tops Lesley Gore singing "Judy's Turn to Cry." I found it for my blog yesterday, and it is mesmerizing. The Sixties were awesome. I know you didn't click on it yesterday, so have at it now:

3. Drinking Pepsi, or maybe just drinking Pepsi with Chinese food? I'm not very observant about how my body reacts to stuff (it's an area of dumbness I have), but it's been hard to miss that sometimes after I drink Pepsi--or maybe just when I have Chinese food and also Pepsi?--my stomach gets very angry at me. Seriously, I think it wants to walk off the job right now, Alien-style.

That's my excuse for not coming with a better blog post. Not feeling so hot over here.
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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Stuck in My Head

I've had a song in my head all day, which has been more annoying than usual because it's an unusually annoying and terrible song. It's "Bobby's Girl," an Oldies radio staple, which I dislike not so much for the mediocre music as for the lyrics, which are embarrassing for all womankind.

Let's break this down.

It starts with a chorus of glum-sounding dudes singing:
(You're not a kid anymore)
(You're not a kid anymore)
Then the young lady singer chimes in:
When people ask of me
What would you like to be
Now that you're not a kid anymore
(You're not a kid anymore)

I know just what to say
I answer right away
There's just one thing
I've been wishing for...

So, what do you want to be when you grow up, young lady? An astronaut? A nurse? No, that's silly.
I want to be Bobby's girl
I want to be Bobby's girl
That's the most important thing to me...

And if I was Bobby's girl
If I was Bobby's girl
What a faithful, thankful girl I'd be
Then it turns from the sad-even-for-1962 into just creepy:
Each night I sit at home
Hoping that he will phone
But I know Bobby has someone else
(You're not a kid anymore)

Still in my heart I pray
There soon will come the day
When I will have him all to myself...
Really? He's already got a girlfriend? Can't you just imagine singer-girl going up to her (let's call her Cindy) and being like, "Oh Cindy, by the way, my life's one and only, consuming ambition is date your boyfriend." This statement would surely be followed up by maniacal laughter and Cindy telling her dad to make sure to lock the doors at night.

And then the point about her only reason for existence is driven home a little more:
I want to be Bobby's girl
I want to be Bobby's girl
That's the most important thing to me...

And if I was Bobby's girl
If I was Bobby's girl
What a faithful, thankful girl I'd be
What a faithful, thankful girl I'd be

I want to be Bobby's girl
I want to be Bobby's girl
I want to be Bobby's girl

Oh man. It's just so much worse than the similarly-themed "Johnny Angel" (which is still a little sad, but far more reasonable) and, I submit, more sexist and self-loathing than even "Judy's Turn to Cry" (the sequel to "It's My Party," in which the protagonist is THRILLED that the scumbag who dumped her
on her birthday takes her back. Side note: the video I linked to on "Judy's Turn to Cry" is FANtastic).

Rant over.
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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Chronicling Me Some Narnia, Part 3

I found this out a while back from Television Without Pity, but I wasn't excited to write about it because it's a bummer. Disney has dumped the Narnia series. Something about blah, blah, blah, hard economic times. Whatever. Maybe The Voyage of the Dawn Treader wouldn't be the biggest movie of summer 2010, but it would make you money.

There's some hope, I guess, that a different studio will pick up the project, but as those links indicate, the timeframe is tight. They only have the actors locked in for a certain amount of time.

Here's the thing: Dawn Treader would be a totally kickin' movie. (This lady agrees.) It's a nice mix of cohesive plot and episodic adventures (they're on a sea voyage to the end of the world, but they land on various strange and mysterious islands). They meet lots of interesting characters and, since it's Narnia, learn Important Lessons.

Plus, this is the book where C.S. Lewis discovered that children could have personalities! It features Annoying Cousin Eustace (the snotty British child you love to hate!), who has his own redemption arc within the plot.

After seeing Prince Caspian last summer, I gave some thought to the potential of each of the remaining Narnia books as films. Dawn Treader tops the list, I have to say. It's definitely better raw material than Caspian was; it would need less tweaking.

The Silver Chair would be tricky. (Also, even Disney's original deal only covered the first three movies.) By book 4, all the Pevensies are out of the picture--it stars Redeemed Cousin Eustace and his friend Jill. Jill could be fun, though. I like Jill. It would be a darker film, however. The main characters spend most of their time isolated, much of it on a cold, desolate landscape, and most of the rest in a miserable underground kingdom. And their adventure isn't fun like in Dawn Treader. It just wouldn't be as enjoyable to watch.

Then there's The Horse and His Boy. This is my favorite of all the Narnia books, but I don't know if that's a widely shared opinion. One thing I like about it is that it's the deepest you delve into Narnia--it's from the point of view of people who are from and live in that world. The Pevensies appear, but it's something of a mid-quel to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, since it takes place when the Pevensies are all grown up and ruling Narnia. The main characters aren't anybody you meet in any other books, but they're interesting and likeable. There's fun, there's happiness, there are pretty locations, and there's even some glitz (what with the royalty and all). I think it would be a lovely movie, but it might not be what audiences are looking for from a Narnia film.

The Magician's Nephew might be the best book qua book of the series, now that I think about it. This is the deepest you delve into the real world; it's the story of the professor from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe back when he was a kid. We see him interact with his family (his uncle is kind of evil!) and everything. Then he and his friend Polly go to a couple different planes of reality, and then they see the very creation of Narnia. I can't decide whether his alternate-reality adventures would be really cool or just too weird on film. Either is possible.

Then there's The Last Battle. I flat out do not know how they would make this a movie or, if they managed it, how they'd get anybody to watch. Most of it is just creepy and dark and unpleasant. (I remembered when I re-read it recently why I had only read it once before. It's not any fun.) Redeemed Cousin Eustace and Friend Jill show up to help the King of Narnia try to save the kingdom/world, but . . . well, they fail. They lose and Narnia is destroyed and then everybody dies. Even the Pevensies. But then everybody gets to go to Heaven (except for Susan, because she's a slut now? Or something?), so they're totally stoked about having died. Which makes sense with Christian theology--after your earthly life, you get to kick it in this fantastic place and hang out with Asla--I mean, Jesus forever, and it will be awesome. Nevertheless, it would be a hard sell in a kid's movie. The whole package is just not feasible as a summer blockbuster.

So basically, my guess is that even if somebody rescues Dawn Treader, there might not be any more made. I'll certainly take whatever I can get, though.
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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Chronicling Me Some Narnia, Part 2

(Oh, there was a Part 1. Sure, it was almost eight months ago, but I hadn't forgotten.)

Wherein I Talk about Order

As I have mentioned before, I really can't handle it when the Narnia books are printed so as to lead people to read them in "chronological" order. (Seriously, I kind of freak out.) Here is why I am RIGHT that they should be read in publication order.

For reference:

Publication order
1. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
2. Prince Caspian
3. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
4. The Silver Chair
5. The Horse and His Boy
6. The Magician's Nephew
7. The Last Battle

Chronological order
1. The Magician's Nephew
2. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
3. The Horse and His Boy
4. Prince Caspian
5. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
6. The Silver Chair
7. The Last Battle

Reasons Publication Order is Better

A) They were clearly intended to be read in the order they were written. As you go along, it's obvious that Lewis assumes that you've read the books that were previously written, since he makes explicit references to them.

B) You get attached to certain characters based on how early you're introduced to them. This is a complaint I heard from someone who read a set that was presented chronologically--his favorite character was young Diggory, but after The Magician's Nephew, he was only present as the mysterious old guy that the Pevensie children stay with. If you start out with the Pevensies, it's more satisfying, since they carry most of the stories.

C) There's an increasing complexity to the writing as you go along in publication order. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is very, very simple, while The Magician's Nephew has much more going on, both in the writing style and the ideas presented. It makes more sense for the complexity to increase incrementally as you go along, instead of ricocheting back and forth.

Anyway, that's why I'm glad that when they decided to make the movies, they decided to release them in publication order. (It was probably less for my reasons than because The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is by far the best known and therefore the most marketable, but the ends justify the means!)

Of course, this might not matter anymore, but I'll save that post for tomorrow. (Really tomorrow, not eight-months-from-now tomorrow.)
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Monday, January 19, 2009

You Know What You Should Watch Tonight?

How I Met Your Mother (on CBS at 7:30 Central [the best timezone!]).

I alluded to my great love of this show during yesterday's post. I rented the first disc of the first season of it a month or two ago, on a whim, and Neal and I went a little crazy over it. (We bought the second season because Netflix would have taken too long and Blockbuster didn't have it.)

It's a very funny show (yes, even though it's on CBS), with focus on characters and continuous plot as opposed to one-off gags (although those can happen, too). But there are three things that really set HIMYM apart:

1. The characters are actually nice to each other.
When you think about it, it's the default for characters on sitcoms to be mean to each other. I don't notice it much until I see the characters on HIMYM treating each other like real people do. Sure, they tease each other sometimes, but generally they're inclined to help each other out because they're friends instead of having a "what's in it for me?" mentality. Also, the married couple (Lily and Marshall) are goofy sweet with each other, instead of hating each other with a blinding rage (see: Ray and Debra, Doug and Carrie, Ross and Rachel).

2. Solid continuity/in-jokes.
HIMYM has probably the second-most impressive dedication to continuity of any comedy I've seen. (It comes after Arrested Development, which is no slight on HIMYM, as AD's continuity was crazy amazing.) This means that HIMYM really rewards its viewers for paying attention and watching the episodes in order, as there will be callbacks to previous jokes.

Some are obvious: in Season 2, Barney and Marshall made a slap bet. Marshall was awarded five slaps that he could use on Barney at any time. He's doled out three so far, in three separate episodes, one of which was all about the impending slap. In the other it came out of nowhere, for Barney and for the audience. Some callbacks are more subtle: there's a running gag that Barney had a romantic liaison with Madeline Albright--Barney mentioned telling "Madeline" something about world affairs, just in passing, last week.

The upshot is that the makers of the show respect not just their own story, but the viewers as well. It's not like how in season 1 of Friends, it was a big deal that Ross had only been with his ex-wife, and then years later we were supposed to buy a joke that he had slept with a dorm cleaning lady in college.

And finally 3. Neil. Patrick. Harris.
Doogie Howser grew up into somebody totally hilarious. NPH's Barney is the most cartoonish character on the show, with his crazy womanizing, insistence on dressing in nothing but suits, mysterious evil corporate job, and dedication to his own awesomeness. But he absolutely pulls it off.

In fact, Barney is in the midst of a serious, for-reals storyline, and NPH is managing to juggle it with Barney's requisite goofiness beautifully.

I'm such a sucker for this storyline, too. See, he's realized he's in love with Robin, who used to date Ted. The real problem, though, is that he's against relationships and monogamy and all that boring stuff, preferring to remain awesome. So he's in love with her, but he can't see how she would go for him even if he could manage to tell her, because she knows all about his one-night-standing, lying, and womanizing. Basically, I will go for any "He's secretly in love with her!" story, especially if there's a healthy does of "He's not the type of man who falls in love!" on top of it.* And, like I said, NPH is doing an amazing job with it. Boy about broke my heart last week.

Anyway, I don't know exactly what tomorrow's episode is about--the commercials have something with Barney and Ted bartending, while the totally unhelpful CBS summary is "Three Days of Snow: Lily and Marshall retire another ritual, forcing them to reflect." (If they keep up their pattern, it will be a few episodes before they come back to the Barney/Robin thing. They want to keep me in suspense.)

In conclusion, give HIMYM a try tomorrow (or on the internet) if you haven't before.

Also, if you want something to watch at 7:00, The Big Bang Theory is pretty entertaining. It's no HIMYM, but that's a bit much to ask for.

*The best examples of this I can think of are: Joey falls in love with Rachel, season 8 of Friends (which pulled Friends back up from the hole of season 7, even if it couldn't sustain the goodness into season 9), August Falcon (in a reference that only my mom will get), and the Todd Rundgren song "I Saw the Light", which I was completely wild about for a couple years in high school. I'm sure there are more that I'm not remembering right now. Suggestions?
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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Songs I've Downloaded Recently

Three categories here: Guitar Hero, How I Met Your Mother, and Weird Al.

I've downloaded several songs that I enjoy playing on Guitar Hero, the most recent of which are Wolfmother's "Woman"

Blue Oyster Cult's "Godzilla"

and the Scorpions' "Rock You Like a Hurricane." (Sorry, there was nothing they would let me embed that wasn't a live show accompanied by an orchestra, footage from Guitar Hero, or a small child playing bass over a cassette tape.)

That last one doubles as a How I Met Your Mother song--there's an episode where Barney has a mix CD, and as he explains, his mix CD philosophy is not that it should rise and fall. It should be "all rise!" I found a playlist of this CD through an old link to the CBS website, which is how I knew that "Rock You Like a Hurricane" was on there. The only song they play on the show is Bon Jovi's "You Give Love a Bad Name." (Ditto on the embedding problem, except replace "small child with a bass over a cassette tape" with "clips from NCIS for some reason.")

Because when you hear those first few lines? How can you not get pumped?!

In a different, and possibly the greatest ever, episode of HIMYM ("Slap Bet"), it is discovered that Robin was a teen singing sensation in her native Canada. I had to download the song from the fantastic music video:

Finally, Weird Al has a new single out (well, fairly new to me--I forgot to check his website for quite a while). Like his best songs, it gets ever funnier as it goes along.
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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Keeping Up With My Correspondence

Dear Obama,

Hey! Congratulations on your impending inauguration, and all that hoopla. Quick thing, though: stop it about pushing the digital switch back. Stopitstopitstopit. The commercials have been on for a year; anybody who didn't realize that and precisely when the switch was coming clearly never turns on their television, so they won't miss it when it's gone. Also, this article is right--pushing it back will just confuse the issue and continue to cost TV stations money running the same channel in two ways.

Just, c'mon, stop it. You have more important things to focus on, like introducing a playoff system for college football.


* * * * * * * *

Dear Saturday Night Live,

Man, you are terrible. You're good for what, one laugh per hour? Maybe you should only exist in election-spoof form.


P.S.: Kristen Wiig? Why are you, or anyone, employing her?
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Friday, January 16, 2009

Olympics in Madison, 2016?

I had been seeing headlines the past day or so about cycling events maybe taking place in southern Wisconsin if Chicago gets the Olympic bid, but I just now actually clicked on one of the stories--it turns out some events might take place in Madison itself:
The road course would begin in Madison, have a couple loops in the city, then head west for five loops and the finish over demanding terrain in the Blue Mound area; the time trial road course would be entirely in Madison; and the mountain bike course at the Tyrol Basin ski area in Mount Horeb.
This sounds like a great idea to me. Sure, it wouldn't compete with the whole Forbidden City/Great Wall mystique that the Beijing biking events had, but Madison and the surrounding area is very pretty. And the end of the article points out, correctly, this town is full of bicycle enthusiasts. Bicycle lanes, bicycle stores, bicycle conventions--Madison is collectively a cycling fool.

Even if it happens, it would be unlikely to affect us directly, as the odds are very small that we'll still being living here in 2016. Still, even if we won't be able to walk down to Capitol Square to see some Olympic cycling (which would be pretty awesome even if it is just cycling), it would be pretty cool to watch Olympic coverage and watch people competing on what used to be your home turf.
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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Some Project Runway Opinions

Fact: Project Runway is awesome.

Everybody I know who's tried watching Project Runway likes it, regardless of gender or sexuality. The 'sband, Craig Ferguson, my dad . . . everybody likes Project Runway.

One great thing about it is that it's a competition reality show that's actually about the quality of work the contestants do, not about the contestants having tv-drama-friendly personalities. That said, nobody (and no show) is perfect, and there have been a few egregious judging decisions. Here are the top three.

#3: Season 3, the recycled materials challenge--Allison is eliminated instead of Vincent

OK, so Allison's dress was not good. But Vincent's dress was horrrrrrrrible . As one of the other contestants pointed out (angrily) to Vincent, his model couldn't even walk in that dress.

Where Allison went wrong was A) that weird hair bow thing on her model and B) not being totally, perhaps clinically, crazy. Allison was cute but mild-mannered, which is not a good recipe for sound bites. Vincent, on the other hand, was always doing something totally weird, which the cameras love. That's why he got by week after week with designs either out-of-date or just boring (there was a challenge where they had to make outfits for themselves, and he made a plain black shirt and plain black pants. And didn't receive a lick of criticism from the judges). It had to be the crazy that saved him, which was never more egregious than with his childish, non-functional trash dress.

#2: Season 2, the designer makeover challenge--Nick gets eliminated instead of Santino

Well, I tried and tried, but couldn't find a picture of the suit Nick made for his fellow designer, Daniel. Suffice it to say that judges were correct that it looked like a woman's suit and that the fabric puckered in many places. But Santino's jumpsuit for Kara? Was, for one thing, literally falling apart (the left arm was falling off) and, for another, was uh, a jumpsuit. And it looked gross and ill-fitting. Although, show me a jumpsuit that isn't gross and ill-fitting, and I'll give you a cookie.

But Santino was Season 2's designated villain, so he had to be kept around as long as possible. Admittedly, as far as "villains" go, Santino wasn't all that bad. He was pretty funny (killer, killer Tim Gunn impression), and he did make good stuff sometimes. Far superior to, say, Wendy freaking Pepper.

#1: Season 1, the Grammy/Nancy O'Dell challenge--Wendy Pepper wins, Austin is eliminated.

This was the problem with Wendy Pepper (besides being mean and not a very good designer): she had watched too much Survivor. Everybody else was there to kickstart their careers in fashion design--they wanted to make good things, and they were perfectly willing to help each other make good things (this is another way in which Project Runway is superior to other reality shows--they give each other advice and sometimes even use their spare time to give other designers a hand). Wendy thought she was there to be on A Reality Show, with alliances and strategies and junk. It was the first season; when you think about it, she didn't really have a good reason not to think that way (until of course she observed that no one else did).

So Wendy was an ideal villain. That's why, I am convinced, she was crowned winner of the last challenge before fashion week, meaning that she got into the final three who got to have shows on the big stage. They were supposed to make a dress for stupid Nancy O'Dell to wear to the Grammy Awards. Wendy made that dumb orange thing with, like, a feather skirt. Nancy was like, "Oh, I could just edit that and it would totally work!" (Why couldn't edit somebody else's?) Whereas Austin made a beautiful dress, because that's what Austin did. Nancy insisted it was just too fancy for the Grammys. Austin had talent, but Wendy had drama, and the producers decided they needed the latter in the season finale.

But! Like I said, such decisions are rare--usually the judges choose well.

And now I wll tell you what I think have been the best and worst challenges--in terms of the concept of what the designers have to do and the quality of work they come up with.

Worst: Season 4, the Tiki Barber menswear challenge.

There were three problems with this: first, that the designers come on the show with the understanding that they're going to make womenswear. They are, by and large, women's designers. Similarly, menswear is clearly harder to make. It demands separate pieces (no dresses), pants (no skirts), and pretty rigid construction. Finally, Tiki Barber is totally boring. Even if a designer had the ability to make something interesting, they were limited by having to make something for a dull guy to wear on the Today Show. How can you make something original for a guy who needs a boring suit?

The best stuff they made was dull, and the worst stuff was just shockingly bad--like Carmen's over there. As you can see, she never found the time to make a shirt.

They should never repeat this one.

Best: Season 5, the drag queen challenge!

This was just a great episode. Drag queen wear is the opposite of menswear--you can do almost anything, as long as it's loud and fun. There were a bunch of great ones with this (Korto made this fantastic red dress with 3-D flames on one side of the collar--I loved it). Joe's sailor/Ann Margaret thing at left was the winner. Plus, the drag queens themselves were great TV. I don't know if they could repeat this one either, since it was so memorable, but it's the kind of drama and originality they should shoot for.

Also, here's a creepy picture I found of Tim Gunn, Andrae, and Santino.

Click here to read more . . .

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


You may have noticed that I've been gussying the ol' blog up a bit.

I picked the new layout because the skinny text column was driving me CRAZY. I had to resize the pictures down there of Shatner and Mangino over and over. Blogger is terrible enough at pictures without worrying about having room for them. (Because, for reals, Blogger is TERRIBLE with pictures.)

I also added a badge for my Twitter. Twitter is basically a teeny tiny blog (or like a facebook status). You can only post a sentence of two at a time, so it's a nutshell of what's going down at the moment.

I updated my links a little bit to add my sister's Japan blog. She doesn't update much, but it's very interesting when she does.

Finally, since I complain about the weather in Madison so much, I figured I'd just put a little bug over there.
Click here to read more . . .

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Alberta Clipper

The weather here isn't . . . great this week.

According to the National Weather Service, we're getting the effects of an Alberta Clipper, which is a pretty name for "it's going to be colder and windier than you can shake a stick at." (Side note: one of these days, I want to literally shake a stick at something, just to do it.)

This is just one good reason why Neal and I didn't wait another six months to get married. When people came up here in July, everybody loovvvved Madison. Can you imagine if it were this weekend? (Saturday's high: a balmy 19!)


Yesterday, when it was warmer but snowy and cloudy, I took a picture with my phone from about the same spot:

See? Not as good. If you didn't know there was a lake there, you wouldn't be able to tell--and I mean in real life, too. I walked around on the lake when I was over there, and I only had a vague idea of where the shoreline was.
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Monday, January 12, 2009

Comics, Except on the "Web"!

I've been gradually accumulating some web comics in my internet reading rotation, so I thought it was high time I shared the good ones with my blog people. (Disclaimer: these all pretty much have strong language and adult themes. To varying degrees--Daisy Owl not very much at all, Diesel Sweeties almost constantly. Any comic I have copied onto this page is fine, anything I link to might have f-bombs or sex jokes.)


This is the first one I started reading--I think I found a link from ashpags? Anyway, it's supersuper nerdy, to the point where there are physics and computer jokes that go totally over my head. I think I get this one:

There are more accessible cartoons as well:

(I know I've posted that before, but I don't care.)

Just this week, he put up a chart of relatable references for the metric system (such as 10 Celsius=jacket weather, 80 cm=width of a door frame), which isn't so much funny as it is just really useful and pretty genius (although it's funny too).

Questionable Content

This is probably my favorite web comic. It's a character-based continuous story, so it's a little hard to get into unless you start at the beginning. Also, I had a hard time finding a stand-alone strip without casual swearing, but this one is ok:

The blonde on the left is Hanners, who is adorable and obsessive-compulsive. (She's the best one.) This one is moderately nerdy as well. The only downside is that much of it is music nerdery, which I don't get any of. But like I said, it's mostly character-based anyway. The QC world is one almost identical to our own, except there are robots. And Hanners grew up on a space station. And there's a superhero who delivers pizza.

One interesting aspect of it is that the cartoonist (his name is Jeph) gets better at drawing as he goes along--if you click that link to the first strip, it looks like a completely different cartoon. For whatever reason, I think watching the evolution of his artwork is pretty cool.

Anyway, one reason I'm doing this entire post is because I wish I knew other people who read this, just so I could talk about it with them. ("What do you think of Dora's new hair? I think it's rad! And what is the deal with Faye and Sven?")

This one never fails to crack me up. Especially the rap.

Diesel Sweeties

This one's weird. I'm not going to give you words about it, I'm just going to put some up.
(Oh man. I don't know why I think that last one is so funny, but I do.)

Daisy Owl

This is my most recent discovery. It's cute and offbeat. Daisy and her little brother Cooper are human kids being raised by an owl.

Mr. Owl's best friend is a bear named Steve.

And I've already told you about Garfield Minus Garfield, but here's a recent one:

Click here to read more . . .

Sunday, January 11, 2009

I Think Too Hard about Commercials

Usually, all commercials in a series are roughly of the same quality. For instance, all those UPS whiteboard ads inspire the same feeling in me--that feeling of "Cut your hair! Cut your stupid hair!"That's why I'm struck by the unevenness of those AT&T "alter ego" commercials. That one with the T-rex coming to the party instead of the friendly dinosaur? Possibly the funniest commercial in heavy rotation. (Up-and-coming challenger: "I'm sorry Dick Butkus.")

I also mildly enjoy the one where the guy blew up a turkey. On the other hand, there's the one where the news guy, his producer, and his cameraman presumably die gruesome, preventable deaths. That . . . that is a compelling reason to get reliable coverage, I guess. Also in the "not so much" category is the snowman one:

Riddle me this, snowman: say you had received the call. What then? You would have melted anyway, you are a snowman and that is your fate.

Yeah, I know . . . he's a snowman anyway and can't talk on the phone, so why does it matter? Well, it bothers me. Like I said in the title of the post . . . .
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Saturday, January 10, 2009

Look, It's a Blog Entry!


So, it's 2009 now, and let's face it--2008 was not a good blog year here at Wisconsin Adventures. It wasn't that I didn't have adventures in 2008. I totally did. But 2008 was a pretty stressful year (really good, but also stressful), so I just never got around to documenting most of them here.

That just means that 2009 will be better! Also, ever since MacKenzie gave me an award/a gentle chiding, I've known that I've got to turn this thing around! So I'm going to see how many days in a row, today included, I can put up a new entry.

I'm also going to try to return to a previous blog goal of including at least one picture in ever entry. I didn't have anything specific in mind for this one, so I googled "awesome." I didn't want to use the first image it gave me, because of course it's something I've already posted. So here's a runner-up:

*This is a reference to a Go Fug Yourself entry that cracks me up whenever I think about it.
Click here to read more . . .