Thursday, January 12, 2012

Top 5 New Year's Resolutions

I don’t often make resolutions. Readers of my blog will recall last year (or maybe 2 years ago) I set up a bunch of goals for myself rather than resolutions. I don’t think I acheived many of them. I think it was because they were too broad. Anyhow, I decided this year, I’d make some attainable resolutions so I could feel like a success for once in my  many spins around the sun.

A lot is changing for me in 2012. I’ve got until December 21st to enjoy these changes before we’re blinked out of existence. I’d like to think that these resolutions will help me do that or at least they’ll make me feel a little better. Maybe they’ll make me happier, as I’ve had trouble overcoming the winter blues, despite all this stuff happening to me this year.  

You may be noting that it’s 1/12/12. So I’m 12 days into 2012. So far I have not done too great on these resolutions, so I thought it would be good to write them down. If you’re looking for another good blog that’s going to be resolution themed for the whole year, check out my friend Rachel’s blog I hope you enjoy the list and I’d love to hear some of your resolutions for the year.

1. Continue to go to the gym/excercise at least 3 times a week.

So far I have not been great at this. Although to be fair, it’s 11 days into January and I’ve been to the gym 3 times. So, not too shabby, but not hitting the goal yet.

2. Cook more/Learn to cook new foods.

We got our first shower gift from my 2nd cousin in law Katie. She sent us a panini maker! So yes, two nights ago while Kristen was laid up in bed with some back pain, I made us some chicken, pesto, and fresh mozzarella paninis. They were pretty spectacular. I’m excited to start trying some more interesting recipes. Maybe I’ll even try some new foods.

3.  Write something every day.

I don’t know why this is so hard. I like to think that I’m a creative person and yet I’ve felt like I’m in a creative rut. I find it much more easy to play Call of Duty for 6 hours on a Saturday when I could just as easily play for four hours and spend 2 hours trying to work on a new play or blog or something.

4. Try to be more social and enjoy life a little bit more.

I haven’t been in the best of moods lately. I’ve been very homesick and stressed out by every minor annoyance that I used to find charming about this city. That causes me to be a little bit of a shut in. Normally I could blame that on the cold, but most of the winter has been in the 40’s or 50’s so I’ve got no excuse to not experience life (of course, on the day I'm writing this, the gods are dumping snow on Chicago)l I’m just tired all the time. However, I’m definitely giving some thought to going to play D+D on Mondays at the Dice Dojo. It’ll give me a chance to do something I used to love back home and maybe meet some new people.

5. Learn a new skill this year.

I just want to learn something new. Maybe how to taste cheese or learn about whiskey or learn to bake or learn photoshop or web design. Suggestions?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Top 5 Christmas Songs

I'm on record saying that I don't really like Christmas music. I'm going to revise the statement now so I hope all the members of the press have their little tape recorders ready. I like Christmas music, in small doses, only during December. Really, only during Christmas Tree decorating, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day. And even then, there's only about 20 or 30 songs I like. I'll keep this short, here's my favorites. Leave me a comment with yours!

Top 5 Christmas Songs

1. The Pogues - Fairy Tale of New York

2. Bing Crosby/David Bowie - The Little Drummer Boy

3. The Darkness - Christmas Time (Don't Let The Bells End)\

4. My Chemical Romance - All I Want For Christmas Is You 

I love the original too, but I love this cover 1000x more. 

5. Charles Brown - Please Come Home For Christmas

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Top 5 Commuting Albums

When I first moved here, I was in love with idea of public transportation. As soon as it made sense (one year after living here, when we'd moved to a more transit friendly neighborhood), I sold my car. We were 100% reliant on the Chicago Transit Authority and I was still happy. Through chattering teeth while walking through snow to get to the grocery store I would say "See, this isn't so bad." It turns out, I could only keep that up for so long. I think I've reached my breaking point.

That's not to say I don't like the idea of public transportation. I think every major metropolitan area (I'm looking at you Detroit) should make it a #1 priority. It's good for the environment, more economical than car ownership, reduces drunk driving accidents (I don't know that there's a study on this last one, but it makes sense to me so just go with it), and helps those who may not have access to a car to get around. But when you've just spent 8 hours in front of a copy machine and all you want to do is put in your 30 minutes at the gym and get home, putting an hour on a train crammed full of people is the opposite of just what the doctor ordered. Incidentally, what would that be? Is there an opposite for doctor?

Needless to say, it can be grating. This person over here is not following the unwritten rules of the train and he's sitting on the outside seat during rush hour forcing people to endure the awkward situation of asking him to move, which most people would rather stand than endure. That guy over there is listening to house music, which is a crime in it's own right, but it's so god damn loud that I can hear it on the other side of the train. AND SOMEONE JUST STEPPED ON MY FOOT! There's precious little that can make this whole thing tolerable. The one thing I never ride a train without is my iPod. As long as I can stick something in my ears and stare out the window, it's going to be OK. A lot of times, I shuffle. But in the morning, on my way to work, I generally prefer to put a full album on so that I don't have to worry about doing any skipping around. With that, I present today's list.

Top 5 Commuting Albums

1. The Clash - London Calling

Favorite Track : Lost In the Supermarket

2. Material Issue - Destination Universe

Favorite Track : Ballad of a Lonely Man

3. Elvis Costello - My Aim Is True

Favorite Track : Miracle Man

4. Rancid - And Out Come the Wolves

Favorite Track : Old Friend

5. Atmosphere - When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold

Favorite Track : The Waitress

So commuters, what are some of your favorites?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Top 5 Halloween Candies

I know, I know. It's almost 2 weeks after Halloween. But I live in an apartment building, so I don't see trick or treaters and I don't have any kids to take trick or treating. I didn't see my first piece of halloween candy this year until 4 days ago when someone in accounting brought in all of their leftovers. Some would say I went a little overboard on the first day, but if you space out the amount of candy I would have eaten in the average 2 weeks after Halloween, I was way below the line.

Allow me to begin by saying I have some of the best parents in the world. They are very supportive of me and are always there to help me to do the things that I want to do. That all being said, I’ve been wondering something lately. Does anyone out there think that having more restrictions on foods when you were a kid leads to an unhealthy adulthood? Anyone who would look at photos of me as a child would question the restrictive nature of my diet when my parents were paying for my food. Yes, I ate a lot of food that wasn’t that great for me, but I don’t think that’s really what made me fat. I was fat because I liked to play Mortal Kombat in my room while the other kids were pretending to be Mighty Morphin Power Rangers on Randy’s trampoline. I preferred to spend those few years of adolescence before getting my driver’s license burning incense, writing in my journal, and listening to Our Lady Peace while the others rode their bikes and got into trouble. I was an indoor kid. Cut to adulthood. I pay for my own cereal now and I find that I always choose the sugary stuff that my parents wouldn’t let me have over the corn flakes or cheerios (both of which I do enjoy.) My fiancĂ© and I always swing by the candy aisle when we grocery shop. We don’t always get something, but it’s rare that there isn’t at least a bag of pretzel M+M’s in our utility/menu/candy drawer. What I’m getting at is, I’ve developed quite a sweet tooth. I do pretty well at keeping it in check, but when it hits hard, it can’t be ignored.

Candy can fall into a lot of different categories for me. You could do a general candy list, a movie theatre candy list, a driving candy list, and a Halloween candy list. How I choose that something winds up in the Halloween. For now, since we’re still within an acceptable window, let’s go with Halloween candies.

What qualifies something as “Halloween” candy? I’m going to lay down the following qualifications.

1. Must be available in bite size
2. Must have been available when I was trick or treating age (up the age of 13 I think).
3. Should still be available today.

All that said, please leave some comments with your thoughts on my list and your own list. I’m trying real hard to keep writing in this at least 3-4 times a week and knowing that others are reading will definitely keep me driven. Here we go.

Top 5 Halloween Candies

1. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

I’ve always loved peanut butter. I don’t eat it as much as I used to and I think it's because I burned myself out on it as a kid. However, Reese's has always been a staple in my candy eating career. I've always loved Peanut Butter Cups. When you dumped my candy bag into the communal candy bowl (which was great for me because it allowed me to dip into my brothers collection as well) you would find only wrappers for the Peanut Butter Cups. I would grab them out of the bag in between each house.

2. Whoppers

I think my love of Whoppers is genetically inherited from my father. Every year when we would go trick or treating, he would search our haul for the Whoppers and I think I just grew to love them as I became protective of them. Man, they are great. OH! AND DID YOU KNOW THERE'S A VERSION WITH REESE'S PEANUT BUTTER INSTEAD OF CHOCOLATE! They are so good, but don't come in Halloween sizes.

3. Dots

My teacher is second grade was the worst. She was mean, especially to me. A favorite story around the family table when reminiscing about childhood is the time when she said something hurtful to me in front of the class and I began to cry. Since I was wearing my cub scout uniform at the time, she saw a window to get a second jab in by saying "Oh class, look at the girl scout." I have to imagine the girl scouts in the class probably took offense, as they probably didn't want me in their ranks any more than the boy scouts did.

Anyway, she loved Dots. Her desk would be littered with boxes of them on her birthday and in a rare show of compassion towards her students, she would share. Despite the horrors of being her student, I really like Dots. However, unlike the previous two, I only eat Dots at Halloween. They are never a choice any other time.

4. Sixlets

I forgot all about these little guys until this week when I saw them in the bowl of candy. I noticed something odd about these little balls of candy coated chocolate. I think the candy that is used to coat them is also the same ingredients that are used to make gumballs because every time I emptied the entire tube (the only way to consume sixlets) into my mouth, I thought they might be little weird gumballs, but shortly after, my mouth was filled with chocolate. One of life's great surprises. 

5. Candy Corn

Look, there are some things that just can't be explained. I love candy corn and I don't know why. How dare you judge me?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Top 5 Documentaries

So much time between blog entries. How does this happen? Well, usually, I have an idea for a blog and by the time I'm at a computer to write it, I've convinced myself that it just doesn't have the momentum. "I can't think of 5 *insert thing here* that I like enough to put on a top 5 list." It's this kind of self-judgement that's probably held me back a lot in life. Tonight, and hopefully for the foreseeable future, I'm just going to go for it. Some nights, I'm not going to have something to write about that relates to what's going on. On those nights, I go back to the original plan that I had set up for myself and go to the rainy day bin. My friends Dan and Alicia really helped me fill it up. However, I would love more ideas for top 5 lists that I could write. Anything you're interested in, leave it in a comment, and I'll make it a top 5 list at some point.

Anyhow, tonight I'm sitting here eating some dinner and watching a movie on Netflix Instant. That's where the inspiration for this post comes from. I'm watching Michael Moore's documentary "The Big One". For those who haven't seen it, it basically follows Michael on his book tour for his novel "Downsize This" and while in certain cities, dropping in on corporations that had laid off tons of employees while posting huge profits to try and get an explanation.

I love Michael Moore. Friends of mine will tell you about how I fell asleep in the middle of Bowling For Columbine, but listen, I was tired and there was a point where, like an 80 year old man, I could fall asleep in any movie theatre unless the movie was absolutely riveting. I used it as my rating system. "Hey, Tubbs. What did you think of Eight Crazy Nights?" "Fell asleep." "Hey, did you see Spiderman yet?" "Yep. I stayed awake the whole time too."

I also love documentaries in general. Netflix Instant is chock full of amazing documentaries and I've watched my share (probably yours too). Without further ado, I present my.....

Top 5 Documentaries

1. The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters

Oh you haven't seen this movie yet? Well, get off of your computer and go watch it. I'll wait.

Oh good you're back. Wasn't that awesome!

But seriously, King of Kong follows school teacher Steve Wiebe, who after losing his job, decides that he's going to break the world record for Donkey Kong. And he does it! The movie does not end there of course. We go one to see the world of intrigue that is classic video game record breakers. There is, without question, no better film villain than Billy Mitchell. He truly belongs on my "Top 5 Film Villains" list, but I guess I didn't think of him at the time.

2. Jesus Camp

I've watched this movie four or five times now. You wouldn't think it to be terrifying, but it truly is.

Now, I'm a Christian. I don't think that religion itself is a bad thing. However, these people are CARAZY! They are brainwashing their kids. The true testament of the movies terror comes in my father's review. Now, my dad doesn't watch movies like this very often. He loves the Godfather. He loves the Jackass movies. He loves Dumb and Dumber. I don't think he's much of a documentary guy. After watching this movie with my brother, he called me and he said "You need to watch this movie. I had a nightmare last night that I was trying to rescue the kids from the camp while the woman who runs it chased me with a machete (that's not verbatim of course, but it was something to that effect).

Go watch it.

3. Monster Camp

This (like King of Kong) is one of those documentaries about quirky people who take something really seriously while the audience is essentially laughing at them. Granted, this doc, like many of it's type, portrays these people lovingly and teaches us that it takes different strokes to move the world. But you just can't help but laugh at the guy who pays his daughter her allowance in "in game gold" that she can use during their LARPing weekend. Oh yeah, I didn't mention that. This movie is about LIVE ACTION ROLE PLAYING!

4. Capitalism: A Love Story

Probably my favorite of the Michael Moore movies. Every single one of his films is terrifying to me, but I think this one is the most unsettling and relevant today. If you want to spend every day wondering if you're going to lose your job, you should watch this movie.

5. Inside Job

Kristen and I just watched this one of Halloween weekend. It was just as terrifying as any horror movie we could have watched and Kristen was close to heading down to the Occupy Chicago protests to lend her voice to the chorus. Then she said it was too cold. I'm just glad the sentiment was there.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Top 5 Movies I'm Excited For!

My love for Jim Henson's Muppet's has been no secret to readers of this blog. There was no question I was going to be seeing the new Muppet movie, but the new trailer that was released this week really sold the ticket. I love the idea that this movie supposes a world where all of the episodes of the Muppet Show, all of the movies, all of that stuff, is being performed by real Muppets and not puppets. It makes them real, but not in the way that all of the other movies made them real. It makes them "canon" for the real world. Does that make sense? No? I don't care.

Anyhow, I love going to the movies. I like 'em all. But I really do enjoy the fall and summer and all the big movies that come out. It got to a point this summer where I said to Kristen while reading an EW magazine "You know, we're going to have to see at least a movie a week to keep up with all the stuff I want to see." Of course, we didn't wind up doing that. We won't do it this fall or next summer either I'm sure. But still, there are so many movies I'm excited for on the horizon. Here's 5 of them!

Top 5 Movies I'm Excited For

1. The Avengers

I've wanted to see a Justice League movie since I was in high school. I don't think I'll ever see one, but seeing an Avengers movie is just as mind blowing to me. I have to give Marvel credit for setting it up the way they did too. It took long term commitment to make Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America movies that were successful on their own while still looking down the pike and knowing this was going to be a reality. It's going to be amazing!

2. The Muppets

This is the trailer that I mentioned at the top, the one that inspired this post. Tell me this isn't a brilliant concept for a Muppet movie. Plus, Jason Segel is on record as being a huge Muppet fan. I feel like he was a great choice to write and star in this movie. 

3. J. Edgar

I'm not all together sure why I want to see this movie. I don't have much connection to the subject matter or anything, but it just looks really good.

4. The Dark Knight Rises

Let's face it. As long as someone keeps making Batman movies, I'm going to keep seeing them...forever. But Chris Nolan's Batman films have been more than just "comic book movies". They are cinematic masterpieces.

5. The Hunger Games

These dark, dystopian YA novels took the world by storm a little while ago. I got into them in a big way. The books are so fun and fast and crazy. They are just the type of book where you finish reading it and say to yourself "That's going to be a great movie." I really hope that I'm right.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Top 5 Simpsons Episodes

Top 5 Simpsons Episodes

We’ve heard it all before. The Simpsons are being threatened with cancellation because the actors want to be compensated fairly for their work. I use fair loosely however. Paying someone who works 3-4 hours a week 8 million dollars a year seems more than fair, however, when you consider the amount of money the show makes, one could say the actors deserve what they are asking and probably more. However, to those of us who make considerably less than that for a 40 hour work week, it seems more than prudent to tell Nancy Cartwright to shut her whiny mouth and just be grateful she has the job she has during her time before the mother ship comes to hurry her to L. Ron Hubbard’s side on Planet Glypfnoar.

I’ll pose another question to you. It’s one that’s hard for me to ask as someone who grew up with America’s favorite cartoon family. Is it time for us to just let the Simpsons go? For example, people know that I love Kevin Smith. Some may say I’m obsessed with the work of the director, podcaster, and raconteur. When he announced that his upcoming film “Hit Somebody” would be his final film and that he would be segueing into other media and new projects after his retirement, I did not join the throngs of Kevin Smith fans who begged him to reconsider. I applaud him. Go out while things are good. Don’t fizzle.

The Office is another perfect example. To preface, I’m currently enjoying Andy as the new boss. However, there was absolutely no reason to continue the show past Steve Carrel’s departure last season. Take a cue from your British forefathers. Do 2 great seasons and call it a day. Move on and do something else. Keep coming up with new ideas.
On the opposite side of the coin, I still think the Simpsons has been totally entertaining. Are they still the groundbreaking show that they were in the 90's? Not by a long shot. But it still makes me laugh. I feel like I would feel the void if there was no more Simpsons. It's kind of like the sun. Even if I'm not always enjoying the sun, I feel better knowing it's there.
Just in case it goes away, I thought I would reflect on my....

Top 5 Simpsons Episodes.

1. King Size Homer
2. Weekend at Burnsie's
3. Homer at the Bat
4. You Only Move Twice
5. Homer's Enemy

My apologies. For some reason I could not post any youtube videos. I encourage you to go and watch these episodes for yourself.