August 20, 2014

The radar is open again

Media of which I have partaken of late...

Seconds by Bryan Lee O'Malley - O'Malley's follow-up to Scott Pilgrim takes a slightly older protagonist, Katie, still struggling with the fact that things in her life aren't working out exactly as she had planned.

In this case, the protagonist isn't, however, dwelling in a fantasy world as was Mr Pilgrim. Here Katie is a successful chef who is in the middle of putting together her first restaurant of her own while still trying to work at the titular Seconds as the head chef. As things don't go quite as planned at Seconds, Katie finds herself being visited by a house spirit that offers her a chance to change the day's events so that a friendly waitress won't be hurt by an accident in the kitchen. Katie takes advantage of the opportunity and then begins to spend every day living half a life, knowing that - in spite of the spirit's insistence that Katie only gets the singular second chance - she can cheat her way to redoing every single day.

Each morning, however, Katie wakes up in a world that has been changed in very unexpected ways. Her actions begin to have more and more drastic consequences: poisoning the house spirit; growing a second, evil house spirit; and changing her restaurant into something entirely not what she wanted.

O'Malley continues to mine the theme of revisionist history, of living in the now rather than in the past to great effect. This isn't the lengthy tale that Pilgrim is, but it's a far tighter story for that. It doesn't have the same emotional weight, but it's tighter, and it's still really good. Check it out.

Tucker & Dale vs Evil - See, most horror movies have the innocent (or trampy and drunk) college kids killed by the evil, murderous rednecks in the woods. This time, however, the rednecks are really nice people, unsure of themselves, just looking for a nice vacation home in the country, trying to help the nice neighbor kids.

When the kids misunderstand every single sentence from the eponymous Tucker and Dale, the kids end up killing themselves via accidents that continue to make Tucker and Dale look more and more sadistic.

It's not a horror classic, but it's a fun twist with likeable enough characters. Worth a look

Deadpool: Soul Hunter - Funny stuff from the merc with a mouth...

I particularly enjoyed the initial 'filler issue' that happened to lead directly into the second issue. Great use of the silver-age-style with Deadpool filling in for a drunken-no-more-until-Deadpool-comes-along Tony Stark in the Iron Man suit leading to trouble with a demon. Funny stuff...

All-New X-Men: Out of Their Depth & All-New X-Men: Here to Stay - I dig the concept of having the original X-Men, the teen mutants, show up in the present to find themselves terrifically changed - and in ways that horrify their younger selves. The idealism of youth coming up against the phenomenally hard truths of wizened age - especially when you're a comic book hero who sees just about everybody you care about die, change allegiances, nearly die, and fight each other all the times.

The dichotomy between young and old Scott Summers, the horror of young Jean Grey knowing that she will become the Phoenix and be killed, Hank McCoy seeing the blue mess that he will all works really well.

Baseball Myths Debunked - This book doesn't. It's boring.

Punk Rock Jesus - and this one is dumb...don't read it. Read the same author's Joe the Barbarian instead...much better.

Sheezus by Lily Allen - I'll admit that I have a big soft spot for Lily Allen's first CD, Alright, Still. That is a brilliant, fun, witty bit of modern Brit pop, and encapsulation of an era, a rebirth of soul filtered through a very English sensibility. Her second disk, It's Not You, It's Me was a lot more polished and a lot less fun. I didn't dig the high-fashion turn that Allen was taking.

This third disk is somewhere in the middle, full of mocking - but with a bit too much bite and self-defensiveness at times. Not a bad disk at all, but not a great one, either. Worth a listen...

A Letter Home by Neil Young - ultimate in lo-fi...recorded in a straight-to-vinyl booth in Jack White's Nashville record store, Neil YOung has put out an album of covers, songs that he says influenced him. There's some pretty stuff here, but it's full of so many scratches, pops, hisses, and every other artifact of old that it's tough to listen to.

Here's the full album. Check out "Girl From the North Country" at 6:06 for the best track. (By the nature of the length of the disks the booth produces, the songs are no longer than about 3:00 each.)

August 18, 2014

What's all the Hoopla about?

The Cincinnati Library (PLCH) has a streaming movie site to which they subscribe and to which all card-holders have full access. It's called Hoopla, and you should check out some of these movies soon.
  • Charade
  • Baseketball
  • ET
  • Harvey
  • Hud
  • Endless Summer
  • Gung Ho
  • Sullivan's Travels
  • Igby Goes Down
  • Lars and the Real Girl
  • 39 Steps
  • Man on the Moon
  • Four Lions
  • Where the Buffalo Roam
  • The Court Jester
  • The Nutty Professor
  • Mulholland Dr
  • Midnight Cowboy
  • The King's Speech
  • The Sting
  • The Iron Lady
  • Legend
  • Let Me In
  • Bernie
  • Brokeback Mountain
  • We Need to Talk About Kevin
  • Small Soldiers
  • Lock, Stock, & Two Smoking Barrels
  • Double Indemnity
  • The Serpent & the Rainbow
  • Holiday Inn
  • The Last Waltz
  • October Sky
  • Let Me In
  • The Evil Dead
  • Touch of Evil
  • Blown Away
  • Killer Klowns from Outer Space
  • Of Mice & Men
  • Mo' Better Blues
  • Shane
  • Ain't in it for My Health
  • Cloak & Dagger
  • The Woman in Green

I'm very pleasantly surprised at how many good movies there are - admittedly amidst a whole lot of dreck.

August 16, 2014

August 15, 2014

Community Power Study

At least week's OEA (Ohio Education Association, doncha know) summer training, we went through an activity in which we tried to map out some basic knowledge about our various local school districts so that we could more successfully organize our members. I'm embarrassed to admit how much trouble I had in filling out the form about Princeton.

So I turn to you guys, many of whom are Princeton folks, to see if you can help me with some of the answers. I'll put my early answers in italics.
  • What are the major celebrations and festivals in your community?
    • Sharonville - St John's Fest, SharonFest
    • Lincoln Heights - Heritage Days
    • Evendale - ???
    • Springdale - ???
    • Woodlawn - ???
    • Glendale - Black Squirrel 5K 
  • What are the community's slogans and mascots? Who are the best known members of your community?
    • Slogans?
    • Mascots - Princeton Vikings, all the elementary schools are Little Vikes, I think
    • Best known - Isley Brothers, Roger Troutman, ??  
  • Does your community value its history? How so?
    • Each community is very protective of their own identity, their own history.
    • How so? ??? 
  • What are the core values of your community?
    • Family...survival (sometimes short-term)...
  • What is the main economic source of the community (e.g., light manufacturing, farming, heavy industry, service industries, etc.)
    • GE aircraft engines, Ford transmission, light industry, service 
  • What is the economic structure of the community served by the school district? (rough percentages)
    • $32K & below, $32K-$60K, $60K-$120K, $120K & above
      • ??????????? Where the heck could I even look this up?
  • Percentage of residents who work in the community (rough percentages)
      • ??????????? Where the heck could I even look this up?
  • Age (rough percentages)
    • 0-18, 18-30, 30-65, 65+
      • ??????????? Where the heck could I even look this up?
  • Education (rough percentages)
    • less than high school, high school graduate, some college, BA/BS, advanced
      • ??????????? Where the heck could I even look this up?
  • Political party index (rough percentages)
    • democratic, republican, independent 
      • ??????????? Where the heck could I even look this up?
    • Are there specific political organizations that have power in your community?
      • ???
  • What is the ethnic breakdown of the community served by the school district?
    • ??????????? Where the heck could I even look this up?
    • I can make some guesses based on the breakdown of the high school, but I don't know that it's entirely representative of the district population as a whole. 
  • What is the approximate number of households in the community?
    • ??????????? Where the heck could I even look this up?
  • What are the main retail business centers (and locations) of the community? Where are intersections with high vehicle traffic?
    • Tri County area, Fields Ertel area, Glendale-Milford & Reading Rd intersection...???
  • Where do people congregate? Where would be an appropriate place for flyer distribution or bannering?
    • ???

August 13, 2014

Update: My favorites

I first posted this in December, 2005, my first year blogging. We're not more than eight and a half years since then, and I think it a decent enough time to see what's changed since then.

In case you were ever wondering...
My Favorite Decently Nice Restaurant in the Cincy Area
Knotty Pine on the Bayou - I don't get down there nearly as much as I would like, but it's still a fine treat when I do. Let's go with Troy's Cafe much closer to my house.
My Favorite Much Cheaper Restaurant Near My House
Waffle House on Cincy-Dayton Rd - no doubt at all
My Favorite Fall Flavor
Pumpkin - hands down, easily my favorite flavor pretty much year round - no doubt at all
My Favorite Summer Fruit Flavor
Peach - no doubt at all
My Favorite Flavor Combo
Peanut Butter & Chocolate - I still like it, but I don't know that it still holds the sway it once did for me.
My Favorite Candybar Snack
Take 5 - the original flavor only, the rest of the flavors stink - I guess so, but I haven't had one in probably a couple of years. Don't know that I've had a candy bar in a while.
My Favorite Game of the Moment
Volley Pollo - It's fun and all, but I haven't played it in a long while. I'll go with QuizUp the app on my phone.
My Favorite Movie to Watch Over and Over
tough call - O Brother, Where Art Thou and Hoosiers probably - Scott Pilgrim maybe...
My Favorite Fast Food Milkshake Place
White Castle - but the hometown one only serves chocolate now, blech - Haven't had any White Castle in a while. If I want a milkshake in the summer, I go to The Cone. In the winter I go to UDF.
My Favorite Milkshake (non-fast food division)
Pumpkin malt at the Cone - It's tough to remember this flavor exactly as it's a late, late summer only thing. The rest of the year, I go for the peanut butter malt.
My Favorite Cartoon (phenomenally vulgar division)
South Park - This one has changed to probably Archer.
My Favorite Cartoon (superhero division)
Justice League Unlimited - new entry here, used to be the 90's Batman - Now it's Bob's Burgers. I watch it pretty much every week via
My Favorite Movie Theater
Rave - edging out The Esquire based on recent more-commercial fare at the Esquire - Sadly the Rave closed. I have become more mercenary, shifting from The Rave in Milford to AMC in West Chester to wherever we happen to be. I still see most things in West Chester at what used to be the Rave but is now the AMC. I don't care for the price increases or the crumbling area around the theater itself, but it's the closest to my house.
My Favorite Candle Scent
Any spice-ish thing...pumpkin, cookie, vanilla, harvest, apple pie...nothing with flowers - absolutely still true
My Favorite Ultimate Series
Ultimate Fantastic Four - I'm surprised I picked that one. In general, I enjoyed Ultimate Spider-Man more, even through the change to Miles Morales.
My Favorite Season
summer - no school  - no doubt, no doubt
My Favorite Sport to Play
Tennis - I haven't picked up a racket in probably five years. The lack of playing has been far worse for my health, and I miss it terribly. Of course, with my commitments to ASM and OEA, I'm not sure leisure time is something I have a lot of.
Favorite Sport to Watch
Tennis, again, though high school basketball is a near second - still true
My Favorite TV Series (current)
The Office or Scrubs, probably The Office - Neither is still on the air in original form (though Scrubs seems to be constantly on somewhere in syndication). The shows I watch regularly are The Goldbergs, Community (in whatever form it is on Yahoo now), Parks and Rec, Modern Family, The Middle, The Daily Show, Colbert Report, and Bob's Burgers). Let's make this Favorite Live-Action, Scripted Sit-Com and say my favorite is Parks and Recreation, but it's close. 
My Favorite Basketball Player
The Basketball Jesus - Either him or Steph Curry or Kelsey Mitchell.
My Favorite Joke
The Thor Joke - It's still that one, yes.
My Favorite Web Comic
Order of the Stick - It's XKCD instead.
My Favorite Food
steak - nothing fancy, just a very nicely grilled, medium-rare steak with olive oil, salt, and pepper (or Montreal Steak seasoning) - Yeah, probably so, but this was well before the Year of Living Steakishly, so that taste in steak has changed dramatically. I can't deal with a home-cooked steak anymore as compared to the best in Cincy.
My Favorite Color
What am I, like four years old? - I'm still immature, but I don't have a favorite color.
My Favorite Movie
The Muppet Movie - It's certainly in the running.
My Favorite Country (non-US division)
Scotland - yup...haven't really been to another one other than a very quick visit to Canada from Niagara Falls.
My Favorite Friend That I've Recently Reconnected With
Kristin Butler ne Reichow - I'm not still in contact with Kristin, but I am digging having more Facebook friends of late.
My Favorite Temptation (today division)
chicken fried bacon - meh...that might be tasty, but I don't want to try it
My Favorite Thing to Do This Time of the Year
Sit on the couch, late at night, snuggled with the dog, watching the Christmas tree with my glasses off - It's summer now, so I'll go with playing a round of frisbee golf first thing in the morning.
My Favorite Park
Turkey Run State Park - I miss it terribly. Wanted to get there this summer, but it looks like I won't do that.
My Favorite Dessert (non-Pumpkin Pie division)
Tiramisu - possibly tiramisu gelato - still a good choice...might include a great ice cream sandwich, chocolate chip cookie variety...really want one of those tonight as I type this...
My Favorite Band
Wilco - Yeah, good choice still.
My Favorite Guitarist
Richard Thompson - yup...and he's coming to Middletown in a couple of months
My Favorite Pudgy Comic Book Geek Turned Famous Movie Director
Kevin Smith - I got very, very bored with Smith and have just been annoyed with him for the past few years...pretty much since I read (I think) My Boring-A$$ Life.
My Favorite Cooking Magazine
Cook's Illustrated - I've been preferring Cooks Illustrated, honestly.
My Favorite Sunday Morning Breakfast
Cook's Illustrated's french toast - That is outstanding, though it's been a while since I made it.
My Favorite Book
I'd like to say Electric Brae but I haven't read it in a few I'll go with one I read about once a year: Slaughterhouse 5 - Still that one
My Favorite Side Dish
Cook's Illustrated's roast potatoes - those are outstanding
My Favorite Cookbook
The Best Recipe - I haven't been doing a lot of cooking lately, so this one hasn't had much of a chance to change
My Favorite Single Issue Comic Book Story
Action Comics #775 - Still pretty outstanding
My Favorite Graphic Novel
either Watchmen or Superman: Secret Identity - Yeah, Watchmen is still phenomenal.
My Favorite Taco Bell Item
Carmel Apple Empanada - Yup
My Favorite Gift Ever
my pepper mill - I use it all the time.
My Favorite Online Service
gmail and google calendar - Sure
My Favorite School Cartoon from Chilhood
Donald Duck in Mathmagic Land - Love it
My Favorite Use of Tax Money
The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County (PLCH) - Yup
My Favorite Taste of Scotland
McVitie's Dark Chocolate Homewheats - Love ' ' ' s'mores ever
My Favorite Author
Chuck Palahniuk - Probably true, though I haven't read anything by him in a while. If not him, then Kurt Vonnegut. Actually, Vonnegut is above Palahniuk.
My Favorite Sit-Com (no longer on the air division)
Mad About You - Scrubs also deserves a mention here.
Here are a few that I'm adding in as of August, 2014.
Favorite video game (Wii)
Wii Sports Resort
Favorite cd
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy by Kanye West (seriously, though this changes from time to time)
Favorite snack food not available in Cincy area
Flamin' Hot Cheetos Limon
Favorite burger in Cincinnati
Terry's Turf Club
Favorite barbeque in Cincinnati
Eli's BBQ
Favorite Mexican restaurant in Cincinnati
Taqueria Mercado on Route 4
Favorite soft drink
Cherry Coke Zero
Favorite YouTube subscription
either Smarter Every Day or Veritasium
Favorite workshop destination of the past few summers
probably Provo, UT...maybe Salt Lake City, UT
Anything else that anybody wants to know?

August 11, 2014

My to see list...long term

I keep a mental, long-term, to-see list in my head at all times. Things that are on it that I want to check off but over which I really have almost no control at all...
  • Clown driving a car (full make-up/wig required)
  • Person I know in an airport other than Cincinnati or Dayton
  • Woman riding motorcycle, man holding on behind her
  • Volkswagon Beetle with flowers painted on it
  • Bus with Further in the destination spot
  • Adult in a superhero costume (not at Comic-Con or amusement park)
  • Proposal at a restaurant
  • Lonnie on a mug or pencil or something at a gift shop
  • Book on bookshelves of bookstore signed by author but not marked as such 
What else should I add to the list?