Friday, September 6, 2013

Top Five Friday #5
Best Movies To Look Forward To
(Now That Summer Is Over)

In obvious news, it's been a long time since I've posted.   Perhaps most telling is that this only the fifth installment of "Top Five Friday" and the blog has been around in one form or another since 2009.    That's a rate of approximately one per year and clearly that needs to improve.   Will it?    Time will tell, but history suggests it's not likely.    It'll be an adventure finding out.     So, now that summer of 2013 is over, which brought an embarrassment of riches in the movie field such as Man of Steel (the best Superman movie yet in my opinion), Pacific Rim (surprisingly awesome), Star Trek: Into Darkness (J.J. Abrams is one of my favorite directors alive or dead) or Iron Man 3, which is perhaps the best of the series as a few examples.  

But, what movies are left?    Note that this list only covers through the rest of 2013 and does not extend into the following year, but wanted to give any readers, if I'm being optimistic, a list of movies to look forward to throughout the rest of the year and that I'm looking forward to personally.   (This list is organized by release date and not in any other particular order)   None of the ones I'm looking forward to are until November, so sorry September and October - you're out of luck.  

Ender's Game
(November 1)
This is one of my hands down favorite novels when I was growing up and getting to see it translated to the big screen is something I can't wait for at all.     If it's anywhere as good as the book and the trailers indicate it very well could be, then this will be a pretty great movie.    It's a very interesting science fiction novel, which is really an awesome read in my opinion and a pretty thought-provoking one as well.  I doubt we'll see the rest of the Ender's Game trilogy get filmed as they would be really difficult to put to film, but I've said that about a lot of things and Hollywood keeps managing to pull it off, with varying degrees of success.    Will this end up a fantastic adaptation of a classic novel such as Harry Potter, the Silver Linings Playbook, The Help or Princess Bride?   Or is it destined to be along the lines of Eragon, the Twilight Novels or The Cat In the Hat?     I'll be finding out in November and hopefully you will too.

Thor: The Dark World 
(November 8) 
I have to say that my expectations for Thor when it came out were practically non-existent and I didn't have a lot of hope for the movie, even though the trailers made it look pretty good.     But, I've been fooled by good trailers before (Spiderman 3, I'm looking at you) and I didn't think it would go on to be one of my favorite graphic novel adaptations ever.    I didn't think it would ever be one of the best of that summer and predicted it might be one of the worst, but that honor goes to Green Lantern.   (Sorry, Brandon, but it's true).   Here we are, years later, and I can't wait to visit Asgard again with Chris Hemsworth as the title character, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Christopher Eccleston, Kat Dennings, Stellan Skarsgard and the rest of the fantastic cast .   My only concern is that it's not directed by the excellent Kenneth Branagh, who is directing instead one of the other movies on the list, but everything I've seen so far has me resting pretty easy and looking forward to this movie more than ever.     This time, I have extremely high expectations and we'll see whether they can reach such lofty heights again! 

Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug
(December 13) 
 I have to confess I was a little wary of returning to Middle Earth after such a lengthy journey the first time around, but I really enjoyed the Hobbit.    It's definitely a different look at the world created by J.R.R. Tolkien than the first trilogy as the stakes definitely lower, through the first book at least and I have to confess I've never read the Hobbit, so it's been a enjoyable journey so far to find out what's going to happen next in this prequel to one of my favorite trilogies of all time.   I can't wait to return to journey with Gandalf, Bilbo, their company of dwarves and the rest of the traveling party later this year.    

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues
(December 20)
I have to confess, I'd given up hope on seeing a sequel to Anchorman, which has its inherent charm despite any flaws and is one of my favorite comedies, given its highly quotable nature.     Year after year brought talk of a sequel, but things looked pretty dire for the Channel 4 News team, but then, out of the darkness, came an official announcement that Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, David Koechner, Christina Applegate and the whole gang would be back to bring us the news once again!    "Don't act like you're not impressed."   Like the phoenix, the Channel 4 News Team shall rise again!   

Jack Ryan 
(December 25)
I have to say I'm pretty thrilled to be getting a reboot of the hero Tom Clancy universe, Jack Ryan, who has been played by Harrison Ford, Alec Baldwin and Ben Affleck, who I will discuss in an (hopefully) upcoming blog post for what I hope are obvious reasons.   However, that'll be for another time as Chris Pine steps into the shoes of Jack Ryan with Kiera Knightley, Kevin Costner, Kenneth Brannagh (also directing) also in the film.    Thus far, there is not a trailer for it that I've found (any trailers you find for it on YouTube have seemed to be trailers for the Wolf of Wall Street, featuring Leonardo Dicaprio for no apparent reason) and I've discovered that Paramount might be calling it Jack Ryan: Shadow One, which I'm going to just flat out ignore and never refer to it as that.    Ever.     But, my enthusiasm remains undiminished and I am looking forward to seeing this one this year, with any luck.  

Just a few films to look forward to throughout the rest of the year, with films like Hunger Games: Catching Fire or Monuments Men not making the cut.    But, of course, never a shortage of fantastic films throughout the rest of 2013, so enjoy and discuss.   What were your favorite movies from the summer? (No spoilers please).   What movies are you looking forward to this year?   What are the best and worst adaptations you've seen committed to film?   Until next time, stay classy!

This post was brought to you through Modern Vampires of the City by Vampire Weekend, which I have been listening to non-stop all week and will certainly end up on my year-end favorites list.    Check it out if you haven't yet!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Top 12 Movies Of 2011

-Top 12 Movies of 2011-

It's been well over a year since I've posted on here and although often when I talk with friends, I say, "I should write a blog about that", it's obvious that I never have. I've written this blog in my head months ago and it probably wouldn't be up this week if some people (you know who you are) hadn't demanded (in no uncertain terms) that a new blog go up before the end of the week. So, in that case, thank you and for your consideration...

It was another great year in film, personally. 2011 is notable for many reasons in American film, one of them being the releases of the most sequels in one year. Many of which were good and appear on my list. But, other sequels did not fare so well. It was definitely a year of high and lows, but you can't go wrong with any of the movies on this list. Personally, they may not appeal to you, but I loved each and every one of them in their own way.

Now, you may ask (or may not care), why a top 12 instead of a top five or top ten? This is just my opinion, but I think in any given month out of the year, there should be at least one film you want to see in theaters. However, this is not often the case. The summer months or over the Christmas holiday you have two to three great movies released in one month, leaving those months jam packed and then a bit of a lull in months where there are not any movies that would ever coax me into seeing them on the big screen. Instead, I would much rather wait for them to come out on DVD or ignore them altogether. But, thankfully, there were at least 12 movies that come out this year worth watching on the big screen. Hopefully you did so, because full disclosure, I did not. Hopefully 2012 will be different, but for now, these are my Top 12 films of 2011 -

(In Alphabetical Order)

50/50 (Rated R for language throughout, sexual content and some drug use. )
This was one of the gems of 2011 in my honest opinion. Starring Joseph Gordon-Leavitt, Seth Rogen, Anna Kendricks and Bryce Dallas-Howard (appearing in two of my favorite films of the year), it tells the story of a young man dealing with a cancer diagnosis. Equally hilarious and heartbreaking at times, it walks on the tightrope between them and never wavers. 50/50 balances the two elements of the script perfectly. I was fortunate enough to see this one with a friend on the big screen and I'm glad I did. If you haven't watched this one yet, I'd highly recommend it. It's not often a movie can make you laugh and cry as well as this one does. Love this movie.
50/50 Trailer

Captain America (Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action)
I definitely had a lot of concerns with this film, having watched the 1990 film (and I'm warning you now, don't do it) and I had some concerns over the casting of Chris Evans. But, thankfully, Chris Evans was up for the task as the iconic Captain America. The rest of the supporting cast was stellar too, including Hayley Atwell, Tommy Lee Jones, Hugo Weaving and the consistently underrated Stanley Tucci. The film is excellently directed by Joe Johnston and it should be no surprise to some that he directed The Rocketeer. Captain America shares the same sense of nostalgia and adventure that film possessed. The end result is a great movie that isn't perfect, but enjoyable throughout. Don't watch the 1990 film (seriously don't) and instead watch this great adaptation of Captain America.
Captain America: The First Avenger trailer

Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (for brutal violent content including rape and torture, strong sexuality, graphic nudity, and language).
If you've read the books or watched the Swedish adaptations (excellent films in their own right), then you know what you're getting into. This, for me, is the definitive adaptation and I cannot wait for the sequels. If you don't haven't read the books or watched the movies, then it's a great character study and missing persons mystery that you should definitely follow as soon as possible. Rooney Mara is a revelation in this film and in my opinion, she should've won Best Actress for her role in the film. The film is cast so well though with Daniel Craig as journalist Mikael Blomquist who teams up with a computer hacker (the aforementioned Mara) to solve a decades old mystery. I can't say enough good things about this movie, although I'll freely admit it's not for everybody. It is, however, awesome.
Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011) trailer

Hanna (Rated PG-13 for for intense sequences of violence and action, some sexual material and language).
Another one of the real surprises of 2011 for me as it's a combination of a modern day fairy tale and a high tech action film that I thoroughly enjoyed. Normally, a combination of the two wouldn't work, but here, it's handled so deftly that you can't help but admire it. Starring Saoirse Ronan, Eric Bana and Cate Blanchette, it's a coming-of-age story about a young girl entering the world for the first time, a fairy tale about a fight against a wicked witch and an expertly crafted action film about a fight against the CIA and a film that you should definitely check out at your earliest opportunity. Like the previous entry, it might not be for everybody, but if you give it a try, I think you'll love it. I know I did.
Hanna Trailer

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 2) (Rated PG-13 (for some sequences of intense action violence and frightening images). )
With Harry Potter, you're either going to love it or hate it. If you know me, you know which side I'm on. Splitting the final film into two parts was a very wise move. I can't imagine trying to compact all of the epic nature of the finale into just one film. Given the build-up to this film and the record-setting nature of the book series, could this movie possibly live up to the hype? The answer, is a definite yes. If you're a Harry Potter fan, there's no excuse for missing this movie and if you're not a Harry Potter fan, then start reading the books right now. Stop reading this blog and go pick up the books from a friend, local library or wherever you choose to, but get them now. And then once you've read them all, watch all the movies that will culminate in this magical film. Go!
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 2) Trailer

The Help (Rated PG-13 for thematic material)
The issue of racism is always a very controversial and volatile one to discuss, but this is a good film to foster discussion of the topic. It's a feel good and inspirational movie, which balances the often difficult subject matter of racial attitudes in the South and the issue of a civil rights as a whole with some humor and fantastic performances by the cast. Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Bryce Dallas Howard (again) and scene-stealer Jessica Chastain all infuse this movie with a lot of goodwill. I believe this movie deserved every award and attention that it received for tackling this issue with grace, powerful performances, humor and a lot of heart. I can't say how it compares to the book (which I'm in the process of reading right now), but the movie was one of my favorites of the year. I can't stress how impressed I was with this film.
The Help Trailer

Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol (Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense action and violence)
This is, hands down, my favorite action film of the year. Going into the holiday season, I was looking forward to this film as the follow up to one of my favorite action films (Mission Impossible 3) and since it was being directed by Brad Bird (director of The Incredibles) making a transition to live-action film. The result is a resounding success. If Mission Impossible 3 didn't, then Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol definitely absolves Tom Cruise of any of his couch-jumping insanity. Apart from the awesome Tom Cruise, you have a spectacular cast including Jeremy Renner, Paula Patton, Micheal Nyquist, Lea Seydoux and the never-fails-to-amuse Simon Pegg. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to watch this movie and enjoy!!
Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol trailer

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and some drug material).
It is a great time to be a Sherlock Holmes fan. Not only do you have the excellent version of Sherlock on the BBC (which I can't recommend highly enough), but you have a stellar version of Holmes and Watson played by Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law respectively on the big screen. They're joined in this outing by Noomi Rapace (who you may know from the Swedish version of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) and Jared Harris, who expertly plays the villainous Professor James Moriarty. The original movie is one of my favorite films that I've ever seen, but this film might be even better. A stellar sequel in every way possible and one of the best films of 2011. The game is afoot!
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows Trailer

Reel Steel Rated (PG-13 (for some violence, intense action and brief language).)
Many people will reduce this to "Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots" the movie or "Teleroboxing" (if you had a Virtual Boy.), but it's not. With winning performances from Hugh Jackman, Dakota Goyo and Evangeline Lilly, this is a film about relationships (which as I've been told by a very wise man is what all of life can be reduced to)., specifically the relationship between father and son. Real Steel is what many people, myself including, went to the "Transformers" movies hoping to see. Robots you can cheer for and cheer I did, out loud, more than once. One of the feel-good movies of the year and definitely one of the best. Give it a chance and you'll be pleasantly surprised that you did.
Real Steel Trailer

Super 8 Rated PG-13 (for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence, language and some drug use).
Directed by one of my favorite directors, J.J. Abrams (Alias) and produced by Steven Spielberg, this is one of the highlights of the year. It's buoyed by stellar acting from all of the child actors involved, especially leads Joel Courtney and Elle Fanning, who were just so enjoyable to watch. I'd be remiss in not mentioning the excellent soundtrack from Micheal Giacchino, which only serves to underscore the sense of nostalgia, hopefulness and mystery that pervades the movie. It's a mystery movie, a monster movie, a coming-of-age story and one that I am just positively thrilled to recommend. Oh and don't forget to stay after the credits. You won't want to miss that. Going into this movie, I knew that I'd enjoy it and I did not walk away disappointed in the least. In fact, I walked away with a fist pump into the air and a smile on my face.
Super 8 Trailer

Thor (Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence)
When it came to summer, there was probably no movie I had lower expectations for than Thor. Boy, was I wrong. The God of Thunder translates perfectly from the pages of the comic book to the big screen, thanks in large part to the performance by Chris Hemsworth, who is some spot-on casting for the role. In fact, every role in the film is spectacular with Natalie Portman, Stellan Skarsgard, Anthony Hopkins, Clark Gregg and Kat Dennings, who manages to bring a lot of fun into every scene she's in. I also cannot say enough about Tom Hiddleston, who brings a lot of depth and talent to the role of Loki, who I was certain was unplayable. Kenneth Branagh balances the action, humor and story all extremely well with a very steady hand. This is one of my surprises of the summer and a definite success. Marvel continues their streak of successful adaptations with Thor and makes me say words that I didn't ever think I'd be saying: I cannot wait for a Thor sequel.
Thor Trailer

X-Men First Class (Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action and violence; some sexual including brief nudity and language).
Now if Thor was the movie I had the lowest expectations, then X-Men: First Class was the film I was most worried about. I loved the X-Men as a kid, loved the comics, loved the movies (until the third one) but was genuinely concerned about the movie. I talked about it quite a bit (and my apologies to anybody who had to listen to those worries and thank you), but it turns out in the end, I had absolutely nothing to worry about. The end result is not just one of the best films of the year, but one of my favorite superhero films. The casting, as is becoming the norm thankfully in comic book adaptations, is stellar. James McAvoy, Micheal Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Rose Byrne, Nicholas Hoult, January Jones, and a fantastically evil Kevin Bacon are just some of the stars that make up this film. Credit must also go to the amazing script and the direction by Matthew Vaughn, who previously directed the awesome film Kick-Ass. It's a very intriguing storyline, intersecting historical events with the rise of mutants, which is well-done in my opinion. This is considered a prequel to the earlier films (even if the timeline is irrevocably screwed up), but in the end, I just am looking forward to their sophomore class. It's a fresh start and hopefully a springboard to a new franchise of X-Men movies. Make mine Marvel!
X-Men First Class Trailer

And there you have it. Now, I've met my blogging quota for the year. Look forward to this blog around this time next year for my favorite films of 2012.

I kid, I kid.

Sometime soon (though with me, that's a very relative term), I'll post the movies that I'm looking forward to the most in 2012. Will 2012 find another 12 great movies? We'll have to wait and see, but for now...

Stay Classy.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Best Albums of 2010

Top Five Friday #4
-Best Albums of 2010-

You have no idea how hard it is to limit the top albums of 2010 to only five (5), as there are so many albums which are definitely deserving of attention and admiration that released in the past year. I, would of course, urge you to check out various other music sites or blogs that might give you a more comprehensive list so that you get a full view of the year in music. However, it's called Top Five Friday for a reason and that allows for just five albums.

These are the albums that have been on repeat over and over since they've been released. These are the albums that have occupied me on numerous times driving and kept me going during the various road trips that I've taken. These are the albums that have made me happy and amazed me with the creativity of musicians throughout the year. These are the albums that everybody should buy, in my humble opinion and these are my personal choices for the top five albums of the year.

Not only will I give you the top five albums of the year, but with each album, I'll include three tracks to listen to to give you an idea of what the album is like. If you like those tracks, then there is a good chance you'll like the rest of the album and if you don't like those songs, then there is something very wrong with you.

5. Contra (Vampire Weekend)
Vampire Weekend's follow up to their self-titled debut is filled with some of the most fun songs that you'll hear from the past year and definitely doesn't fall victim to the dreaded sophomore slump. Their second album is filled with not only more confidence but also a sense of excitement that makes this album so enjoyable to listen to. Contra also retains the charm and creativity that fueled the first album, which makes me look forward to their inevitable third album even more.
Listen to: White Sky

4. Together (The New Pornographers)
Anytime the New Pornographers release an album, it's almost guaranteed to make my top five albums of the year and this year is no exception. This Canadian supergroup produces epic pop melodies sound effortless and easy to create. This is their fifth album and as the album title would suggest, it's definitely a group effort. Utilizing the talents of everybody from A.C. Newman to Neko Case, this is another fantastic album of power pop that is worth listening to. Repeatedly.
Listen To: Your Hands (Together)
Sweet Talk, Sweet Talk

3. Treats (Sleigh Bells)
Not only one of the best albums of the year, but definitely one of the best new artists of the year. The sound of the album is fresh, exciting and nothing short of phenomenal. This is perfect for blasting out of your stereo, driving on a summer day. This is one of the loudest albums of the year and hopefully it's loud enough to get the attention it so richly deserves. It's a bold and fantastic debut here. Hopefully they'll be around for a long, long time - if we're lucky.
Listen To: Infinity Guitar.
Crown On The Ground
Tell 'Em

2. Suburbs (Arcade Fire)
On their third album, Arcade Fire proves that the old saying "third time is a charm" holds true. This is the best album from this indie rock group, proving just as engaging and captivating as the previous two outings. Arcade Fire's debut Funeral was an audacious debut, shooting right out of the gate and while they lost their footing slightly with their sophomore debut Neon Bible, there is no doubt that they've found their footing and voice once again in this stunning musical examination of the ideal American dream. No doubt at all that you should listen to and appreciate this album at your earliest opportunity.
Listen To: Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)
Empty Room
Suburban War

1. Fang Island (Fang Island)
Fang Island describes their sound as "every high-fiving everyone" and that is exactly what you'll want to do after listening to this groups first full-length album. There are so many words to describe this album, but all of them are positive. It's just an amazing accomplishment and an even better album. Just pure mind-blowing and ear-pleasing awesomeness. The album starts off with fireworks (literally), which is to say this album starts off with a bang and is an indication of how epic this album is. Plus, the album ends with fireworks as well, so that you can put it on repeat and just listen to it over and over. Trust me - you'll never want to leave Fang Island.
Listen To: Daisy
Dream Of Dreams
The Illinois

And that it's, folks. Those are my top five albums for the year. If you enjoyed any of these albums that I've recommended (and I can't recommend them more highly), please go to your local or online retailer as soon as possible to purchase these. Pure auditory awesomeness. Don't miss out!

Until next time, stay classy!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Boy Scouts Would Be Disappointed

-The Boy Scouts Would Be Disappointed-
-(But the Zombies Delighted)-

Some of you might know that I'm very kinda concerned about the impending zombie apocalypse. I have the Zombie Survival Guide and always take it with me on a trip. You never know when it might come in handy. According to my parents - never.

Late last year, there was a headline about a Zombie Satellite. It had me momentarily excited as I clicked on the link as I thought that perhaps the government was finally taking the zombie threat seriously and had dedicated a satellite to track them. As you might guess, not so much.

My brother and I, one fateful summer where I was actually motivated, worked out. My brother prepared me on different training techniques to help fight off zombies and worked on running a lot, which trust me, will come in handy if zombies come around. Thank you, hermano, for attempting to keep me prepared for World War Z.

Since that time, I have not kept up with that same level of diligence. I should, as Professor Moody is so fond of saying in the Harry Potter series, maintained "Constant Vigilance!". Unfortunately, I haven't.

I realized this as we started to have what newscasters are labeling as a "blizzard" here in Illinois, with some news organizations suggesting we might have two feet of snow or more. I'm not a big fan of snow, but I am just a little bit excited about the possibility of a snow day, which I haven't had in years. Even at my most recent job, they never closed and I lived right across the street, so I would be the one called in when everybody else called off. So, fingers and toes crossed for a snow day.

In the meantime, being the amazing son that I am, I called my parents to make sure they were okay since Indiana is also having some "adverse weather conditions". We began to discuss the weather and the conversation turned to what would happen if the electricity went out. Did I have candles? Enough food items that I could eat without the use of a stove or microwave? Did I have a flashlight? Did I have enough blankets? Did I have a first aid kit?

The answer to all of those, on my end, was surprisingly "no.". At this point, I came a shocking realization.

Not only was I not prepared if the power went out, but -dramatic pause-

-My parents are more prepared for the zombie apocalypse than I am!-

Which is obviously unacceptable and indeed, sad.

Not to say a candle is going to solve your zombie problem by any means. In fact, lighting a zombie on fire is not going to do you much good at all. Blinding them with a flashlight or throwing a blanket over them won't help you much either, though with any of these, you might be able to distract them long enough to run away. The number one rule of Zombieland is cardio. Don't forget that lesson.

But, the important lesson, I think, to take away from this entire situation is all about being prepared. Once I can get out of my house again, then I will make it my mission to be more prepared. Not just for the zombie apocalypse or in the event of electricity going out, but in general. So, please, if you think of anything I should need to help with being prepared for an emergency, ranging from the basic, such as the electricity going out or extreme, such as a velociraptor attack or any other situation you can imagine, please feel free to share.

Same goes for everybody else out there who reads this blog (all three of you), it's important to be prepared. It's equally important for us to help one another to be prepared, because as Shaun (Simon Pegg) says in the film Shaun of the Dead,: "As Bertrand Russell once said, "The only thing that will redeem mankind is cooperation."

However, as he so also so eloquently states in the same film, "As Mr. Sloan always says, there is no "I" in team, but there is an "I" in pie. And there's an "I" in meat pie. Anagram of meat is team.."

Words to live by.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Spider-Man + Calvin & Hobbes = Awesomeness!

Anybody that knows me should know that two of my favorite things in the whole wide world are Spider-Man & Calvin & Hobbes. Here, in this fantastic display by Mark Pelligrini and Timothy Lim, they managed to combine the two in a masterful - dare I say classic - display of awesomess. Thanks to both of them for this!!! Click here for a larger version.

It'd be even more funny if it weren't describing and summarizing actual storylines that our friendly neighborhood wall-crawler has been through in the past few years. It's pretty awkward.

Yep - Spider-Man has dealt with clones (far too often.)

It's true - Aunt May (or a genetically-altered actress) has managed to be "killed" several times.

As much as it pains me to say this - Spider-Man did sell his & MJ's marriage to the devil.

Pardon me while I throw up - but yes, Satan did "magically" erase everybody's memories after Spider-Man revealed his identity during the events of Marvel's Civil War - in exchange for the previously mentioned marriage.

I'm embarrassed to even acknowledge it.

What I will acknowledge is this cartoon strip's absolute brilliance and hilarity!

It's still awkward but hilarious. Seriously, the fact it summarizes (and satirizes) events in such a clever fashion actually makes it more funny. This is the best thing I've seen on the net in a while and I just had to share it with you all. Hopefully you enjoy! Any comments on this epic bit display of artwork, feel free to share once you're done laughing. I haven't been able to wipe the smile off of my face yet. Just too awesome for words. Until next time, excelsior!!!

P.S. - This post was written while listening to the song Spider-Man, track eight (8) off of Spiderman: Rock Reflections of a Superhero, a musical re-telling of the events surrounding Peter Parker's transformation into Spider-Man and the events following, complete with a few catchy numbers, a few eye-rolling numbers and some narration by the one and only Stan Lee! It has to be heard to be believed! The back cover alone is worth the price of purchase. Yes, ladies and gentleman, that is Captain America, playing the tambourine. I must have this!

Monday, September 13, 2010

The World Is New

Actually, the world isn't new. My laptop, however, is.

It seems like only last year that I bought a brand new laptop computer, if you recall my previous blog post, and unfortunately, it was only last year. Thanks to hindsight, it's obvious that it was a mistake. What might be the mistake? I bought a Compaq computer during a too-good-to-be-true sale at Wal-Mart. Well, you know the old saying about Compaq? Take the C, the A, and the P from Compaq - remove the O, M and the Q - add an R - and you have crap. Crude, but then again, it's an old saying.

And that's my final word on Compaq. Well, actually, the
word I'm searching for.... I can't say because there's preschool toys present. (Bonus points if you know what that's from!).

Seriously, with the laptop, came a one year warranty. Almost immediately after the one year warranty, the troubles started. A whole host of errors one after the other. At first, I thought they were small and I tried to fix them on my own. At first, it appeared that my fixes worked but after a week, it was apparent that was not the case. Once my laptop was basically a giant, expensive, semi-working paperweight, I took it into Best Buy to have the Geek Squad take a look at it. (If only it was a Buy More...) Didn't take long for them to declare my hard drive pretty much...dead. And like a bad Mastercard commercial, they started to list the cost of repairing it...

Replacing Your Hard Drive: $49.95 (plus tax)
A New Hard Drive: $80
A New Operating System: $120
Your New Laptop Dying Two Weeks After Your Warranty Has Expired: Priceless.

With tax and other assorted prices that would be added on, it would be almost as much as the price of a brand new laptop. But, I still thought about it. The laptop still worked, albeit a little bit slower and with a fair amount of errors. I figured I could use it for a little longer, but fate (and the poor construction of a Compaq laptop) had other plans. Later that night, like Tom Hanks in Castaway, I discovered fire.

Specifically, on my couch as the power cord to the laptop had burst into flames. It had started to spark and then burst into a flame. A small flame - not like a huge wildfire or anything, but fire nonetheless. Enough to make a small scorch mark on my couch cushions, but thankfully that was all. A quick removal of the power cord and the emptying of a bottle of water onto my couch cushion made Smokey the Bear proud, even if we weren't in a forest at all. I think just the whole fire prevention thing should've made him pretty pleased.

And so, I took that as a sign that it was time to go laptop hunting. Once again, I considered all of the options (even contemplating a switch to Apple), but in the end was discovering that many of the more inexpensive laptops were Compaq again, which I had vowed not to do. Never again. I had to decide whether to accept a substandard laptop or perhaps I would have to go a bit outside of my price range to have a laptop that might be more than a one-year rental. Thankfully, not too far outside of my price range was a beautiful Gateway laptop (to be exact this Gateway laptop.) And so far, so good.

This time around, I have a much, much better warranty. (Check back with me in a year though) And hopefully much, much more blogging. (Check back with me in a few days to find out though). Until then, stay classy!

P.S. - And if you're wondering (probably aren't) where the title of the blog post came from, it's the title of a song from the 90's ska band Save Ferris (themselves inspired by the classic 80's film Ferris Bueller's Day off) and if you're at all interested, here is the music video to listen to: The World Is New.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

-Should I Stay Or Should I Go-

While this may be the title of a classic song by punk rockers The Clash, it was easily one of the easiest decisions I've ever made. For all of those who have been following at home, you should know by now that the city to win the sweepstakes for well, me, was the metropolis of Peoria, Illinois. I know, I know. It's not any closer to my friends in Ohio or family in Ohio, but it does get me away from Walgreen's and into the until recently seemingly unattainable world of professionalism. In March, I had a job interview at a place called the Bowen Center in Indiana and had what I thought was a great job interview. (I was to learn, later, that it was only a pretty good interview). Initially, I was like the little boy in this video here on the right but weeks later, when I finally realized they had decided to head in yet another direction, I was more like the little boy in about 12-15 seconds into the video.

Absolutely devastated. For a few short weeks, I was under the hope that I was leaving Walgreen's and then, that hope was cruelly ripped away. With under a month now until I needed to make the decision on renewing my lease there at my current address, prospects seemed slim. I would have to make a decision here soon and at the lowest point of my despair, I considered just taking my savings to travel around for the summer to make a pancake tour of America (which would be a tour of the United States to discover the best pancake places in the United States), an idea which was not really embraced by my family or friends. Or even me, for that matter. I'm not even that big of a fan of pancakes in the first place. But, I'll just claim temporary insanity on that score. After taking a day off to recover, I set out to start applying once more.

Before, I applied exclusively to other states closer to family such as Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania and even New York. But, now it appears that I would need to apply to Illinois as well. Apparently, that's what I should've been doing all along. Within days of applying to Lutheran Social Services of Illinois, I had an appointment for an interview. The interview was with the Adoption team supervisor and the Foster Care Supervisor. I won't bore you with all the details of the interview, but throughout the interview, it was very clear that I was wanted in Foster Care and Adoption Services. There was a brief tug of war and Foster Care was victorious. From there, they went over what I'd be doing at this job, taking me on a grand tour of where I'd be working, had me meet several team members and showed me what a great interview would be.

It was virtually a lock, but it's not official until they make the job offer. And after one, long, agonizing week, they did. Not to let it get missed here in this paragraph like the moment where Frodo throws the ring into Mount Doom (it's a quick moment in the Return Of The King. Shockingly short, in my opinion but I digress), I was officially hired by Lutheran Social Services of Illinois! That's a bingo!

And now, it was time to say farewell to Walgreen's and to Kankakee. No hard feelings either way. In fact, I was pretty impressed by the support from everybody there. The people there were simply amazing and although I probably won't miss the job very much, I will certainly miss my co-workers and managers and staff. But, it's on to a new adventure. Continuing with the the Lord of the Rings from earlier, let us “Remember what Bilbo used to say: It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to."

Except now I know for the moment, where I'll be swept off to and now, dear reader, so do you. Off to Peoria, Illinois.

Away We Go!

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