Sunday Sundries: A Grab Bag

Sunday is a time to sit, watch football, and reflect on the prior week.  Of course, there is very little football watching this Sunday due to such a busy week of finals next week.  While I study, I have the awful habit of scouring the internet for any brief moment of entertainment.  Here are a few of the more entertaining findings, along with observations I have kept throughout the week:

  • Fantasy football is perhaps the best marketing decision the NFL could ever make.  Even when games have no long-term implications or the game is a blowout, people that are members of fantasy leagues will keep watching in order to root for the players on their team.  I am a sucker, so I am in several fantasy leagues.  This being said, I am having an immense amount of trouble being away from the violence that I tend to enjoy every weekend.
  • I am a fan of M.C. Escher and I am a fan of Legos, so I am doubly a fan of this picture:
  • I recently made the website 1000 Awesome Things my browser’s homepage.  Every weekday, they post a different thing that people universally appreciate.  It is nice to wake up every morning and smile, knowing that I like the same awesome things as somebody else out there.
  • Flannel is soooo 90’s, but soooo comfortable.  Therefore, it is timeless.

  • I have been cooking an awful lot lately.  A few recipes that I have used recently:

Cinnamon Roll Pancakes

Alton Brown’s Pot Roast

Strawberry Basil Lemonade

Emeril’s Brined Turkey – my favorite

Spicy Mac and Cheese

  • An oldie but a goodie:
  • this guy is really good at skateboarding

Saw IXX, 3D

What’s the point of scary movies?  And for that matter, haunted houses?  Sure, people like to be jarred, but ride a roller coaster, why don’t ya?  Every year, when Halloween rolls around, I am coerced into driving what must be entirely too far in order to have the bejeezus scared out of me by folks who work as Medieval Times jousters for their day jobs.  Not for me, even on my most lionhearted of days.  Call me a scaredy cat, but going to haunted houses later infringes on my sleep schedule, waiting for boos or ghouls to jump out of the darkest corner of my room.

Scary movies are also not quite my bag, baby.  A few nights ago, a friend and I watched perhaps the most disturbing movie I have ever seen.  Not in the way that the Saw movies are disturbing – they are more in-your-face… more brash.  No, the film Funny Games is disturbing, in contrast to Saw, because the aggressors become so much more intimate with their victims, who happen to be a family on vacation.  As the title suggests, they do not have anything against their victims, they just take joy in playing psychopathic games with them.  For example, to let the family know that the situation is serious at the beginning of the movie, they send the family on a game of Hotter/Colder in order to find their murdered golden retriever.  Ew…it gives me chills just to think about it again.

The Holidays List

I ❤ the Holidays.  Like, a lot.  While in an earlier post I denounced the practice of Black Friday, its presence is requisite in moving the nation collectively into Holiday mode.  In that aspect, I loathe Black Friday just a little bit less.  I love the Holidays so much, that I have decided to put together a little list of reasons that I’m so smitten with this time of year.  So here goes:

  • Hot cocoa- Despite the absence of snow in Texas, there is still no reason that, on a 60 degree night, I should feel bad about fixing myself such a delicious treat.
  • Daylight Savings- among other things, college students enjoy the extra hour at the bar, as daylight savings commences on a Saturday at 2 a.m.
  • Fires- see hot cocoa
  • Borderline catastrophe family gatherings-  Everybody’s family has some quirks.  Some people resent the crazy aunt with 48 cats, but I think that family interaction only serves to create natural comedy.  The Holidays is just about the only time that one can, just barely, appreciate your 88 year old grandmother’s unapologetic racism.  She’s a firecracker, for sure.  Robert Earl Keen, Jr. certainly said it best:  Robert Earl Keen, Jr.- Merry Christmas from the Family
  • Bowl Games-  Somewhere along the line, the Powers That Be decided that the Holidays should be synonymous with college football.  No complaints.  GO FROGS.
  • Cuddling-  While it may not be that cold outside, it certainly is cold enough for cuddling.
  • New Year’s Resolutions- Honestly, who sticks to these?  It sure is nice for the idealist though.
  • Christmas Lights-  Having grown up in the Park Cities in Dallas, I am all too familiar with over-the-top Christmas lights.  There is always at least one opportunity per year to drive around with somebody close and see all of the excessive lighting.  Boy, I would love to see some of those electric bills.
  • Tacky sweaters-  College students around the nation have capitalized on old, tacky Christmas sweaters, and there are always surprises.

Explosions. ‘Nuff said.

Funny how the stream of consciousness works sometimes.  At one moment, I am “accidentally” setting a T-bone steak on fire in a cast-iron skillet, consequently setting off the fire alarm and sending smoke billowing out of the door to the balcony (don’t worry neighbors! I’m only cooking).  The next moment, I am youtubing the simple query of “explosions”.  I was not disappointed:

The Discovery Channel has provided quite adequately for my thirst for explosion videos.  Their web series, Destroyed in Seconds, features a chemical plant’s reserve warehouse, that is full of rocket fuel, really ruining a few peoples’ day.  WHOA.

Another armory, this time assumedly in Russia, blows up, with the shockwave being felt from miles away.  I would love to be a safe distance away to see something like this.

Once again, Destroyed in Seconds brings us a sweet explosion.  This time, American innovation leads a Pacific Coast town to rationalize that the best way to get rid of a deceased whale that has beached itself is to…you guessed it…BLOW IT UP!  Car crushing hilarity ensues.

BONUS:

THE BACON EXPLOSION, perhaps the greatest step in bacon innovation since fried bacon on a stick.

BONUS BONUS:

Explosions in the Sky- All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone

Explosions in the Sky- Your Hand in Mine

Explosions in the Sky is an instrumental band from Austin, most well known for their work on the movie Friday Night Lights.  Their style is self-described as “cathartic mini-symphonies”.  Quite enjoyable stuff.

Kinecting the Dots

Thanksgiving has come and passed, and with it Black Friday- the biggest shopping day of the year.  While their male counterparts are all tuckered out- nay, comatose – from a Turkey Day full of testing the limits of stomach elasticity, housewives take the opportunity to see how they stack up against their female counterparts in bloody battle royales.  They rise at hours normally reserved for barflies and bushbabies, are armed only with fingernails manicured to a point for eye-gouging, and are driven by enough cappuccino to open their own Starbucks franchise. The spoils for the winner (or should I say survivor): the honor of possessing the newest toy or gadget before any of those other suckers that decided sleeping was more important than taking part in America’s version of the Running of the Bulls.

The African Bush Baby, most feared of nocturnal primates

Producers capitalize on the perennial mayhem by rolling out new and improved lines of crap that most people either already have in some capacity or don’t need.  Electronics and gadgets have won the day, most recently, and that trend seems to continue this year.  Not to be outdone by competitors, Microsoft unveiled their newest attachment for their Xbox 360, the Kinect.  Armed with 3 cameras and 4 microphones, Microsoft’s estimated $500 million ad campaign promises the consumer that “you are the controller” with the add-on.

Being both a sucker and a self-labelled “gamez0r”, I decided to see for myself whether the gadget was a the real deal, or if it would find its way to the Chinese garbage dump where all of our failed electronics go.  Although I went to pick it up the Tuesday after Black Friday, I was still halfway hoping to have to scratch and claw my way into the local GameStop.  Thus, I decided that I needed to pack some heat, so I threw a steak knife in my back pocket in case things got ugly.  To my utmost chagrin, there were no rabid soccer moms in GameStop this day, but only zoned out college students hoping to score another copy of Call of Duty: Block Ops (their other copies had gone through the washing machine, or been peed on by the cat, or mistaken for a bagel and ruined both the game and an unsuspecting toaster).  I was not completely put off by not running into danger, however, because I was able to secure Microsoft’s latest & greatest.  Along with the hardware, Dance Central and Kinect Sports seemed the two most entertaining choices of games.

Upon arriving home, I felt like I was transported to 14 years and 3 weeks prior, a boy ripping the packaging open like on Christmas morning and haphazardly setting up my new toy.  Several long moments of calibration proved to be more than a minor inconvenience, rearranging my furniture in a configuration that makes sense for nobody’s agenda but this diminutive toy that has come to rule my life.  Finally, I was ready to play.

Popping in Kinect Sports, I was taken to a life that could have been, where I was the acrobatic soccer/ping-pong phenom Shepherdiño.  On game point of the world ping-pong championships, however, I was left fuming because the machine decided to throw a backhand when I clearly threw a forehand.  Having no controller to throw in order to express my frustrations, I sternly ejected the first game in favor of Dance Central, hoping that the Kinect could sense my anger by the expression on my face.

Dance Central satisfies two out of my three foremost guilty pleasures, so I anticipated that I would be a fan.  After three songs and several layers of clothing shed out of necessity (I think I had soaked them through, at that point), I decided that Kinect is best played either with friends while enjoying a beverage, or in very brief increments.

Disclaimer:  for anybody that saw Batman Forever, I acknowledge that the Xbox Kinect is eerily similar to the Riddler’s “Box” invention, which sucks people’s dreams and fears out of their minds while they watch television, turning them into lifeless drones.  Let us hope for no similar news stories in the near future involving Bill “the Cryptic Inquirer” Gates.

Bill Gates as "The Cryptic Inquirer"

Jim Carrey as "The Riddler"

Reinventing the Name

Every year when the leaves and the bears awake from their winter’s slumber, when the crack of baseball bats shatters the icy winterland’s grasp, when the rubbery squeaks of sneakers on hardwood are at their most energetic, I get a little giddy.  Whatever pumps you up in the spring -March Madness, Spring Fever, Spring Break, heck, I’ll even throw in a late season Snowday (Mother Nature permitting, of course) – I bet I’ve got you beat.  Ladies and gentlemen, an oldie but goodie, I present Name of the Year.  Each year, conspicuously corresponding with the NCAA Basketball Championships, this clever blog enters 64 scrupulously selected and is-this-a-joke? hilarious names into a single elimination bracket.  Following are a few reinventions into non-proper nouns of some of my favorite names  from the website’s Hall of Name:

  • Tokyo Sexwhale – Class of 2003 – n. – the Sexwhale, as you might infer, is a close relative of the more common sperm whale.  Their symbiotic relationship between the people of Tokyo, Japan and the Tokyo Sexwhale is ancient.  Even Mr. Miyagi can’t remember it.  Long ago, Edokko (or Tokyoites, take your pick) discovered that the subspecies of whale, native to only the shallows of Tokyo Bay, enjoyed Japanese food immensely.  The street vendors and restaurants on the bay started realizing that, when they threw their food out on the beach and in the water, the Tokyo Sexwhales began regularly coming for feedings.  Mad because the Sexwhale was “stepping on their turf”, the Tokyoites began running operations with the whales not unlike a cramped cow feedlot, thus ridding the land of any food shortage concerns forever.  That’s the circle of life happening before our very eyes, dames and damsels – and we didn’t even need Elton John nor Simba to find it this time.  Symbiosis.

Artist's Depiction of the Tokyo Sexwhale (from Cloverfield)

  • Nimrod Weiselfish – Class of 2002 – n. The Nimrod Weiselfish is a now extinct fish.  Some marine biologists have been overheard calling them “the Dodo of the sea”, although that might be quite harsh.  The Nimrod Weiselfish had a pesky habit of chronically beaching themselves, effectively driving a nail into their own proverbial coffin.  No one much misses them.

Nimrodicus Weiselfensus