June 30, 2010

Clearing the bilges again

My inbox has hit a ridiculous number of messages at this point, and a number of them are links that I sent myself over the past few months intending to turn those links into full-fledged blog posts...instead, you get this...
  • The Worst Thing Voting - a blog was having a contest to find out what the worst thing any of their readers had ever done was.  The three finalists listed in this post are all horrific things to have done.  I never could get around what to write about this because all three acts are thoroughly deplorable.
  • No Value: The Mismeasurement of Teaching Quality - The ways in which schools and school districts are graded in Ohio is almost ridiculously complex, involving a number of different metrics, very few of which are as simple as the old system of indicators in which they measure to see if 75% of your students pass each subject test.  One of the more complex measurements is called Value Added and somehow measures how much improvement your district's/school's students have shown in the course of the year as compared to the improvement shown by students across the state.  The linked article certainly doesn't look at that measurement in a positive light.  My problem with writing this one up is two-fold.  First, it's a long article, and I'll admit that I've still only skimmed it.  Secondly, I don't, honestly see the teachers unions as being unbiased in this debate.  The unions protect teachers (me included) and tend to be very much against any possible way of measuring how well teachers are doing at their jobs, and I don't know that I'm that far against measurements of how I'm doing.
  • The Future of the Merch Table - This one tells of a new app that allows you to pay for something via credit card at places that don't accept credit cards.  I couldn't find anything really interesting to say here.  Should've dumped it into a weekend links post instead of letting it linger in my inbox this long (since May 16).
  • Microsoft Office 2010 full review - It's just what the title says: a full review of Office 2010.  Sounds like a good but not absolutely necessary upgrade from the 2007 that I have at home and at school.  Plus, pretty much everybody I know is going to slowly move over to the newer version of Office over time.  Why read about whether it's better or not?  We're going to use it eventually anyway.
  • 50 Greatest Lost Albums - I caught this article in a newsstand while The Girl and I were in DC and didn't get a chance to read the full article about albums that you can't go out and buy as their out of print, never released on cd, or simply deleted from the artist's catalog.  The choice and exploration of Time Fades Away by Neil Young at #1 was what I makes the article worthwhile.  I get tired of just posting a bunch of lists and going through them one at a time, so this post languished.  Plus, they're mostly British albums, anyway.
  • How We Became White People - The guy who writes the Stuff White People Like blog explores - in a light-hearted way - his status as an immigrant in this country.  Again, I just didn't have anything interesting to say other than "hey, this is chucklesome."
  • Science from the Sporran - The coincidence of how this came to me is ridiculous.  I'd had my students define a few terms on a worksheet, typical beginning of the chapter stuff.  The terms were in three columns of unequal length on the page, however, so I fancifully added in two terms to even things up: sporran and polytheism.  Also on the sheet was the term kinetic energy, and I'd shown my students a demo of an Astro Blaster (multiple bouncy balls falling together with the top ball gaining back all the kinetic energy and bouncing ridiculously high) and told them that the same could be done with a basketball and tennis ball.  Lo and behold, the next day, one of my students came in with this link which connected sporran and the basketball/tennis ball demonstration.  She'd assumed that my inclusion of sporran had a greater meaning and had gone a hunting the connection, finding these videos of a kilt-wearing man doing science experiments in a faux-1800's setting.
And now, the bilges are cleared, and the inbox is heading back down to a more manageable size...

June 29, 2010

Alphabet game: L is for artists

Rolling, rolling, rolling at this point...my favorite L artists...and my favorite songs by them...

June 28, 2010

Misusing a word...badly...

Three-time finalist Andy Roddick has been knocked out of Wimbledon after an epic five-setter against unseeded Yen-Hsun Lu of Taiwan on Monday.
~ CNN article's lead sentence, emphasis added

Today's match was impressive - three tie-breakers and a fifth set that ended at 9-7, but I'm not entirely sure that the adjective epic can be rightfully applied to a match in light of Roddick's performance in last year's final (16-14 in the final set) or the Isner-Mahut match last week (70-68 in the final set - in case you just rolled out from under a rock). 


Race and the trends of DC comics

Before we get to the racial question, lemme provide a little background here - particularly for those of you who haven't been reading comic books for decades...

Comic books have gone through a number of eras (I'm going to focus primarily on current DC properties here because the subject of today's issue is the trends at DC comics):
  • The Golden Age - (mid 1930's to late 1940's) - before, during, and just after WW II; typified by Superman and Captain Marvel (Shazam); added in a sciency, atomic tone after the war ended; non-white characters were typified by Ebony White (a black face pickaninny who drove The Spirit around) or Chop-Chop (The Blackhawk's buck-toothed Chinese mascot).
  • The Silver Age - (mid 1950's to around 1970) - saw a number of redesigns of Golden Age heroes (Flash, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Superman, Captain America) into the more modern versions that most people recognize now; Marvel's modern heroes appear (Spider-Man, Avengers, Hulk, Iron Man, Daredevil, X-Men); race fades into the background for the most part as many of the racial stereotypes fade away
  • The Bronze Age - (mid 1970's to mid 1980's) - kept most of the heroes of the Silver Age; shifted the tones of many stories to tackle real-world issues (drug use, racial discrimination, depression, religious differences, cultural shifts of hippies and counter-culture, social inequity); the first major black heroes appear (Luke Cage, Black Lightning, Storm, John Stewart, Blade, Bronze Tiger) all of whom were distinctly Black - defined by being black, not just heroes but Black heroes, often aligned with a sort of crossover from blaxplotation films; saw the publication of the panel shown at the top of this post
  • The Modern (or Dark) Age - (mide 1980's until maybe current) - darker, more violent tone to comic storytelling (typified by Watchmen and Dark Knight Returns); psychological explanations for many of the villains; crossover events every year or two and now seemingly a constant cycle (World War Hulk leading to Civil War leading to Secret Invasion leading to Dark Reign leading to Seige leading to World War Hulks); trade paperback collections become more successful leading to long-form story arcs rather then single-issue stories; new non-black minority characters and revamps come forward (Blue Beetle, The Atom, Firestorm, Green Lantern [Kyle Rayner], Dr. Light, Wildcat)
This, then, is a bit of how we've gotten to where we are and what's happening at DC Comics.  During the Modern Age, there were a number of replacements of older characters with newer version (again), something that seems to come with every new generation of comic book writers.
  • As Green Lantern, Alan Scott (Golden Age) gave way to Hal Jordan (Silver Age) who gave way to John Stewart (Bronze Age) who gave way to Kyle Rayner (Modern Age) - white to white to black to vaguely Hispanic.  
  • The Blue Beetle mantle went from Dan Garrett (Golden Age) to Ted Kord (Silver/Bronze Age) to Jamie Reyes (modern age and Hispanic). 
  • The title of Dr Light, Caucasian villain, shifted to Kimiyo Hoshi, Asian hero.
  • The Atom - Al Pratt (Golden Age, no power, white guy) to Ray Palmer (Silver and Bronze Age, white guy, shrinking powers) to Ryan Choi (Modern Age, born in Hong Kong, shrinking powers).
  • Firestorm - Ronnie Raymond and Martin Stein (Silver Age, white guys - don't ask) became Jason Rusch (Modern Age, black teenager).
  • Wildcat - Ted Grant (whit guy, boxer, Golden Age) gave way to a number of other versions including Yolanda Montez (Bronze Age, hispanic). 
  • Batgirl went from Barbara Gordon (Silver Age, red-headed white cutie pie) to Cassandra Cain (Modern Age, Asian).
In the past couple of years, however, DC has seen nearly every one of these changes undone, taking what was becoming a far more racially-diverse DC universe and returning it to a more white/Caucasian/homogeneous past.
  • Hal Jordan was resurrected and returned to prominence as the one, true Green Lantern.
  • Jamie Reyes's new series was canceled.
  • Kimiyo Yoshi was pushed to the background after the use of - and ruination of the name - Dr Light in Identity Crisis.
  • Ryan Choi was killed.
  • Jason Rusch's series was canceled and the black face of Firestorm reverted to the white face of Ronnie Raymond.
  • Yolanda Montez was killed.
  • Cassandra Cain became a mind-controlled villain then retired to be replaced with Stephanie Brown (blond, white cutie-pie) 
  • See a more thorough (if perhaps too much so) list here.
Comic Authority, a comic-themed blog that tends to be far more fanciful than serious, has posted a marvelous piece titled "The Racial Politics of Regressive Storytelling" by Chris Sims.  Here's Sims's conclusion, though I highly recommend the reading of the entire article:

But you can't really even blame the creators entirely, because it's reinforced by the fans. I'm sure a lot of it comes from the fact that the stories are often good stories (as I said, the Legion stuff isn't necessarily what I want the Legion to be, but it's still very enjoyable), but there's an underlying resistance to change that seems to come out in a far more ugly manner when race is involved. Again, I would certainly hope that the majority of comics fans aren't racist, but I heard John Stewart referred to as "Black Lantern" years before Nekron started sending out rings, and I've heard enough people refer to Jason Rusch as "Blackstorm" to know that a lot of them don't understand that casual racism is still racism.

Which is one of the things that's so galling about the regression from Ryan Choi to Ray Palmer. It's been a running gag among my friends that in comics, only white Americans ever find meteors, get splashed with chemicals or get visited by spacemen, everyone else (from Jack O'Lantern to Black Bison to the Gaucho to Apache Chief to Samurai and so on) has to have a power that relates to their race or their country -- specifically, the broad stereotypes drawn from white Americans' perception of their race or country. It's almost inescapable, and it reinforces the idea that non-white characters are defined solely by their ethnic differences.

But Ryan Choi was a character that actually had a character, and was one of the few Chinese-American characters in comics that didn't have powers relating to Kung Fu dragons. He was just a guy with super-powers that was filling a role that nobody had bothered to do anything with in years.

And now he's been shoved into limbo so that Ray Palmer can come back, reduced to a gentrified footnote so that the DC Universe can a little bit more like it did in 1978.
DC's executive editor, Dan DiDio, responded to Chris's article through an interview at Comic Book Resources (CBR) with a fairly impassioned response:

[CBR] There's been a lot of discussion – and a lot of angry discussion, I'd say – coming out of some of the recent DCU storylines, specifically the death of Ryan Choi in the "Titans" Brightest Day launch...

Didio: And if I could jump in here for a second, I'd ask "What past that?" There seems to be a concern about us pulling back in diversity, and we identify Ryan Choi, but we don't identify what more than that. If you're talking about a single character, we can't run backwards from the way we act and behave with our characters because we're afraid of addressing characters of different race or putting them in stories that are bigger or more exciting, I'm sorry to say. This is an interesting thing to me, because since I've been here, we've been extraordinarily aggressive in trying to bring racial diversity and diversifying our cast of characters as much as possible. That's been part of our agenda for the last five to eight years since I've been here. We're talking about a single character with Ryan Choi, but I'd love to know about examples past that, because at the same time that we've got Ryan Choi, we've got a Great Ten series running. If you look at every team book and everything we're doing, we go to extraordinary lengths to diversify the casts and show our audience in our books.
...which Laura Hudson of Comics Alliance masterfully annotates to provide very specific examples - including the cancellation of the Great Ten series that DiDio defends.

CBR also posted a Quote of the day from DC Senior Story Editor Ian Sattler saying this:
It's so hard for me to be on the other side because it's not our intention. There is a reason behind it all. We don't see it that way and strive very hard to have a diverse DCU. I mean, we have green, pink, and blue characters. We have the Great Ten out there and I have counter statistics, but I won't get into that. It's not how we perceived it. We get the same thing about how we treat our female characters.
David Brothers at 4thletter! answers that quote marvelously on his blog:
The problem with this statement is that green, pink, and blue people don’t exist. In fact, comparing actual, real-life people to fake people when discussing real-life issues is a pretty screwed up thing to do, isn’t it? It’s saying, “Yes, I understand your complaints, but look over here! This thing that we made up is just like what you want, just a different shade! That’s the same thing, right?”

No, it really isn’t. The point of diversity is to reflect reality. If you’re bringing up imaginary people when talking about actual people… you probably should just stop talking. A real life example: you’re making a cartoon for kids. Your boss asks why there aren’t any kids in your show. You respond that there are several kids, like this dwarf, this baby dragon, this baby goblin, those are like kids, right? No.


When you consider the trend of how DC has treated its non-white characters (and the fact that this argument has to be phrased in terms of white vs ______ is foul), DC Comics comes off looking pretty stupid. I don’t care whether these characters fit into their Silver Age nostalgia or not. When, as a company, you have made a habit of marginalizing a specific type of character, introducing new characters that you’re going to let die on the vine in an attempt to show how “diverse” you are, and then talking out the side of your mouth in public…
I couldn't have said it better.  Thankfully, David Uzumeri said it very succinctly.


June 26, 2010

A round of applause for John Isner and Nicolas Mahut, please

Seriously, 138 games in the final set?  Those dudes deserve a massage or sumpin'.

    Why 2K?

    Just wanted to point out that this is post #2000 on In Deference to My Idols.

    I have absolutely nothing prophetic or substantial to say about this quasi-momentous event.

    June 25, 2010

    Browsing the references

    I've sung the praises of Baseball-Reference before, but I just want to take a few moments to remind everybody out there about just how cool the best baseball reference site on the net is.  I tend to use it two or three times a week throughout the baseball season, and I continue to realize that there are hundreds of aspects of this treasure trove of a website that I haven't even explored.
    • Andy Pettite's most similar pitcher at age 37 is Mike Mussina.  Both are pitchers who belong solidly in the Hall of Very Good.  Both pitchers have spent their careers on excellent teams pitching very well.  Both have a single second-place finish in the Cy Young voting but have never finished about fourth otherwise, having earned about .9 of an award for their career.  Both are well below Hall of Fame quality if measured by black ink (times leading the league in anything), but both measure well in Hall of Fame Monitor - a measure of overall career length/strength.
    • If you combine the top five players (ARod, Jeter, Manny Ramirez, Barry Bonds, and Randy Johnson) in terms of all-time career money earned playing baseball, they've earned over a billion dollars.
    • The three highest OPS+ seasons of all time belong to Barry Bonds - 2001, 2002, 2004 - with 2002 being the highest.  He had a .609 on-base percentage as a 39-year old man.  'Roids or no 'roids, his performances during the first half of this decade are just cartoonish.
    • Carlos Delgado is the best player to have been born on June 25; Tommy Corcoran the best player to die on this date.
    • Four players have played more than 2000 games playing only for the Reds in their career (Bench, Larkin, Concepcion, and Bid McPhee).  Mario Soto is the only pitcher to throw more than 160 (he pitched 297) games and only pitch for the Reds.  Nineteen players played one game for the Reds - their only MLB game in their career - and never got to bat.
    • Billy Herman - a Hall of Famer - is easily the best player to have been born in The Hometown.
    • Pete Rose is the most unique player in baseball history based on similarity scores.  Ricky Henderson, Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, and Barry Bonds are rest of the top five.  Typically, I would say that the more unique a player is, the greater a player is, but Pete Rose is the outlier here.  He is nowhere near the same quality as the other four on that list.  He's the 13th highest on Hall of Fame Monitor, #59 on Hall of Fame Stanadards,  15th on black ink list, and 24th on gray ink.  Rose was a statistical freak, but he's not an inner-circle Hall of Famer by any means.
    • The most-searched for player on Tuesday (the day before I was writing this) was Jamie Moyer who tied the record for most HR allowed in a pitcher's career.  I was one of those searches.
    • Rafael Palmeiro played 2831 games - more than anyone else - without reaching the World Series.  Ken Griffey, Jr was second with 2671 when her retired last week.  Ernie Banks played 2528 without ever making the playoffs.  Go Cubbies!
    • Nolan Ryan and Cap Anson played 27 years - the most ever.  Jamie Moyer is tied for 10th place with 24 seasons and isn't showing much sign of slowing.
    • I hope that Matt Stairs plays for a new team next year so he can break the record for most teams played for in a career.  He's currently at 12, tied with Ron Villone and Mike Morgan.
    • Julio Franco holds the records for most games, HR, doubles, total bases, at-bats, plate appearances, extra base hits, sac flies, intentional walks, caught stealings, double plays grounded into, and outs made at or after the age of 43.
    • Hank Aaron never won the Hank Aaron award.
    • The Reds have had the third most players hit HR (706 players) for their franchise - behind the Cubs and the Braves.
    • The baseball-reference blog is kind of geekily awesome.
    • We're close to the highest ratio of strikeouts to walks in the history of the game.
    I'm thinking that we're at - or near - the death of the print sports encyclopedia.  There's just no way that a print encyclopedia can keep up with this kind a website.

    June 24, 2010

    Five by five: Favorite music from favorite artists

    Artists with the most five-star songs on my iTunes...(identical versions - like from a Greatest Hits album - duplicates eliminated)
    1. Wilco - 26 (Jeff Tweedy another 6)
    2. Bob Dylan - 24
    3. U2 - 18
    4. The Beastie Boys - 16
    5. Lyle Lovett - 15
    My favorite songs from Wilco / Jeff Tweedy
    1. "Organ Blues" from Alpha Romeo Tango
    2. "Laminated Cat" from Sunken Treasure Live
    3. "Kamera" from Yankee Hotel Foxtrot Demos
    4. "Spiders (Kidsmoke)" from A Ghost is Born
    5. "Misunderstood" from Being There
    My favorite songs from Bob Dylan
    1. "Girl from the North Country" (with Johnny Cash) from Nashville Skyline
    2. "Lily, Rosemary, and the Jack of Hearts" from Blood on the Tapes
    3. "Isis" from Desire
    4. "Seven Curses" from Bootleg Series, Vol 1-3
    5. "Lay Lady Lay" from Nashville Skyline
    My favorite songs from U2 (this was the toughest of the lists to narrow down)
    1. "Slow Dancing" with Willie Nelson from If God Will Send His Angels
    2. "Callin' on Sunday" with Lyrics Born from a mashup on the internet somewhere
    3. "Bass Trap" from The Unforgettable Fire
    4. "Bad" from Wide Awake in America
    5. "All I Want is You" from Rattle and Hum
    My favorite songs from The Beastie Boys
    1. "Sabotage" from Ill Communication
    2. "So What'cha Want" from Check Your Head
    3. "Root Down" from Ill Communication
    4. "High Plains Drifter" from Paul's Boutique
    5. "Intergalactic" from Hello Nasty 

    My favorite songs from Lyle Lovett
    1. "Moritat" from Smile: Songs from the Movies
    2. "You Can't Resist It" from Lyle Lovett
    3. "Dr T's Theme" from Dr T & the Women
    4. "Flyin' Shoes" from Step Inside This House
    5. "The Girl in the Corner" from The Road to Ensenada

    June 23, 2010

    Water: the cause of and solution to all of life's problems

    Two stories about rivers today, folks, one shockingly unhelpful and one possibly really helpful...

    The first river story is a tragic one, that of the Albert Pike Campground on the Little Missouri River in Arkansas.  The campground lies - or rather, lay - next to the Little Missouri River along a flat, wooded area built up with a mixture of rustic cabins and tent sites.  In addition to the natural beauty - isolated lowlands beside the river surrounded by steep hills leading away from the river, one of the attractions of the area is the remoteness, the lack of cell phone reception or any input from the outside world - including any warning system or radio tower (that fell two years ago in the windstorms that eventually knocked out Ohio schools for a week.)

    The typical river level just downstream from the campground runs near three feet deep with a volume of fifty cubic feet of water per second, flows that can lead to a nice, relaxing downstream paddle or even to children splashing away in the river while parents casually watched nearby.  On the morning of June 11th, however, the drainage from thunderstorms in the area - thunderstorms that brought up to ten inches of rain overnight - rushed down the hillsides and funneled into the Little Missouri (nice video of the storms and the topography here), raising that river level from 3 feet to 23.3 feet, taking the flow of the river from 50 cubic feet per second to somewhere over 20,000 cubic feet per second.  The graphs - posted by the Outside Blog - speak volumes.

    Those people never had a chance.

    The second river tale is one that might...might have a happier ending.  This is the story of the Atchafalaya, a river and swamp that branches off from the Mississippi River at the Old River Control site of the Army Corps of Engineer's continuing battle to keep water flowing in the Mississippi River channel instead of diverting into the Atchafalaya and finding a new path to the Gulf of Mexico.

    At the moment, the Army Corp keeps seventy percent of the upper Mississippi's flow heading into the lower Mississippi and allows thirty percent to head off into the Atachafalaya.  Paul Kemp, an Audubon Society scientist, suggest in National Geogpraphic this week that the ratio be shifted so that more water flows into the lower Mississippi - more like 80-20 - and that a number of upstream dams be opened so that the flow increases even more to push the flow through New Orleans even higher and to help keep the Deepwater Horizon oil spill at bay.
    The Mississippi will not be able to keep the oil at bay indefinitely, however. The river's flow naturally declines each summer, and by August, Kemp's idea will no longer be effective.
    If only we could stop the oil leak before August...

    June 22, 2010

    Alphabet game: K is for artists

    Only one K this week as opposed to the Kings Kids Karnival...an event that I heard used to exist out near Kings Island...


    June 21, 2010

    Lonnieburger Baskets: Terry's Turf Club

    Now this is the stuff...

    This is the burger that we set out looking for.

    Terry's Turf Club...recently of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives...one of Food Network's 50 States, 50 Burgers...Restaurant Widow's choice for best burger in Ohio...

    Terry's is a decent drive away from The Homestead out in the exurb of West Chester, so The Girl - and Steph the first time, The Mother-in-Law the second time - had a chance to work up a bit of an appetite.  Our first visit was on a Monday evening, and we had a wait of around fifteen minutes, a short wait from what we'd heard about Terry's typical evening crowd, and got to share one of their typical six-person tables with another trio.  The second visit came just after their four o'clock weekday opening, and we were able to walk right in and sit down at a table we didn't even have to share.

    • The meat is outstanding - understandable since it's apparently Angus chuck with what seems to be very little spice being used - and the burgers are marvelously grilled.  The grilling starts with the large patties - I'm guessing eight ounces each - being dropped on a buttered grill, salted and peppered, then patted down to ensure good contact with each part of the patty.  Beside the burgers are the buns which are griddled in a bit of butter giving them a marvelously golden crust to stand up to the burgers themselves.  The beef, here, is the story, and it's a masterwork of the finest order.  That beef is then perfectly cooked with crisp edges and just barely pink centers.  I was lucky enough to taste just the burger itself as my second one was served with a piece broken off and fallen onto the plate.  Oh, wow...oh, wow.  Burger - 10 (if there's something better out there, I'm going to have to go all the way to eleven.)
    • Even though the burgers themselves are effectively perfect, it's the toppings for those burgers where Terry's is supposed to be legendary, offering a half dozen special toppings that change every few months.  Their signature topping - which I sadly haven't tried yet - is a mushroom and Burgundy sauce that everyone raves about.  This is offered beside - at the moment - a rosemary garlic curry that tempted me and a trio of other sauces that had less interest for me.  The standard - and free - topping are fairly standard: tomato, lettuce, onion, american or swiss cheese, and banana peppers.  I particularly enjoyed the peppers and onions grilled - in butter beside the burgers and bun on the griddle, of course.  All were of high quality as was the bacon - a bit pricey at $3 for three slices - which was thick-cut and flavorful, pre-cooked before being throw back on the grill while the burgers cooked, coming out crisp and perfectly finished.  After the burgers are cooked on the first side, they are flipped over and any cooked toppings or sauces added on with the cheese added on top while the second side cooks letting the cheese melt down across the totality of the burger and any grilled peppers and onions. With all the toppings, the burgers end up fairly tall, so they're presented to the table with a serrated knife for the splitting into more easily devoured parts.   Toppings - 9 (They might be higher, but I haven't tried the sauces just yet.)

    Photoa from Cincinnati Re-Adventure and Glen Hartong


    • The Terry's experience starts outside with a dozen old, wooden theater seats with nice padding outside allowing comfortable waiting experiences.  The seats are flanked with arm-waving signs greeting guests to the Terry's experience along with at least a dozen neon signs from days gone by.  Inside, the neon continues, casting a faint red glow throughout with dozens of old neon beer signs on every available space and a trio of gorgeous bevadors outlined in neon, themselves.  The restaurant is small, seating no more than fifty people at any one time, often at communal tables due to the necessity of the always-present line of people hoping to get into Terry's.  Most of the tables have a good view of the bar and the grill - a please to see worked on our second visit by Terry Carter, himself, who stopped by to visit our table when he saw us admiring his grilling skills.  Ambiance - 10

    Photos by MorrisTai and ChemGuy

    • Terry's has to have a weakness, right?  If their burgers are that awesome, their fries have to stink, right?  Sadly, no.  The fries are miraculous, too.  They're great.  The orders are huge - easily enough for us to share three ways among three hearty eaters.  The fries are freshly cut each day and fried to perfection before being simply but perfectly seasoned - I don't even know that there were salt or pepper shakers on the tables because nothing - the fries, included - needed them.  The fries were on the thick side of square profiles - maybe 3/8 of an inch across - and fried to a dark, crispy finish while staying fluffy inside.  Fries - 10

    • This is the only, minor bugaboo with Terry's.  It's not expensive, but it's not cheap either.  The basic burger - with cheese if you want it - is $7.00.  Fries are $3.50 but serve three easily, so I'll split that into $1.17 per person.  My drink - a diet coke - was a can of coke but was served with a highball glass with ice and cost $2.00 - a bit much for a can of coke that I could easily have brought in.  Bacon is, however, $3.  So, for the bacon cheeseburger with fries and a diet coke - my standard of cost - ends up being $13.17.  If you eschew the bacon - which I did the second time and found that these burgers are so awesome that they don't need the miracle that is good bacon, you can save a few bucks and earn Terry's a few more points.  Price - 3
    Other Stuff
    • Terry's has a full bar and a good beer selection. +1
    • Terry Carter - the eponymous owner - stopped by our table and chatted with us commenting that his mother from the hills of Kentucky taught him that you always need butter and bacon for anything.  He was personable up close and hilarious to watch him cook. +1
    • The bun was also grilled and would have been good enough to eat on its own, reminiscent of a grilled bun at Miami University's student union cafeteria. +1
    Total - 45 (out of a perfect 50)

    If Terry could somehow make his burgers available for half the price that they currently are, this would be nirvana.  As it is, it's only earthly perfection.

    Summary rankings so far...
    • Terry's Turf Club - 45 (out of 50)
    • Quatman's - 32 / 34.5
    • Sammy's - 26
    Next up, Kuma's Corner from Chicago and Cafe de Wheels in downtown Cincinnati.  If they beat Terry's, I don't know that I'll be blogging about them, however, because I may just have keeled right over dead from pleasure.

    June 19, 2010

    Happy Pater Familias Weekend!

    Would you believe that I randomly hit keys and came up with this coherent intro?

      June 18, 2010

      Lonnieburger Baskets: Quatman's Cafe (Norwood)

      It's another Saturday night, and we're continuing our hunt for the best burger in the Queen City.

      This week's visit to Quatman's was certainly an improvement over Sammy's (cumulative score 26/50), but I'm thinking that we still have a ways to go before we find the best burger in town.

      Let's get right to it since this post has been languishing for like three weeks now.

      First off, The Girl and I disagree about the burgers at Quatman's, so a number of the scores below are going to be given twice.  We'll come to an overall total at the bottom, but there'll probably be a couple of those, too.

      • No choices of how to cook the burger.  You ask for a burger, you get a burger.  Burgers were well sized (probably a 6-oz burger, if I were guessing) but not over-sized (stay tuned the next few days for what over-sized means) and well cooked - fried in this case and still a little greasy around the edges.  Things here are about as simple as simple could be - burger with pretty much no spice, just good quality meat fried and slapped on a bun.  Burger - 6 (The Girl gives it a 7.5)
      • You can add cheese - and they have a decent selection of cheeses including some rather rarer choices like horseradish cheddar which The Girl went for - and your standard pickle, onion, mayo but nothing else.  I asked if there was any chance of getting bacon on the burger and was told politely that there wasn't any chance.  No joke, no snark, no messing with me like I was at Ed Denevic's or anything, they just didn't go for bacon. Everything was fresh but not special or anything. Toppings - 4
      • Here's actually where I think Quatman's gets a lot of its credit around Cincinnati - including being named best burger in Cincy from AOL's CityBest.  Quatman's is old school, like I would believe that nothing inside has been touched in decades.  At most places, saying something like this means that the place is crowded and maybe has some sort of gimmick like people writing on the walls or nailing their dollar bills to the ceiling or hanging up license plates or something - not so at Quatman's.  This means Quatman's is an incredible simple bar, a bunch of tables, a deli counter, and a window air conditioner for the summer.  It's simple, old school, plain.  To lots of people, this means it's just like it was when they were kids and probably when their parents were kids, too.  I dig the place, but I knew places like this back home in The Hometown.  There's pretty much no decoration - a few beer signs and posters, a couple of flyers for local charities but not much else.  There's one tv - a flat screen in probably the only concession to modernity.  There's even an old ice box door that I'm guessing used to have ice brought in from a horse-drawn carriage long ago.  Ambiance - 7
      • Fries were fries here.  Not wide plank fries, not quite thin enough to be shoestring (like the old Steak & Shake specials).  They're fries coked well, served hot.  The Girl asked for hers to be well done, and she did get that - not burned, just fried a little longer.  They get an extra point for hitting the special request.  Fries - 6 (The Girl gives 'em a 7)
      • On Mondays, Thursday, and Saturdays, Quatman's runs a special (they run different special each day - Ham & Cheese on Tuesday, BBQ on Wednesday, and good Catholic fish on Friday) of cheeseburger, fries, and a drink for $6.19.  On the other days of the week, you're looking at $4.50 for the cheeseburger plus $1.65 for fries plus whatever your drink is.  My can of coke - cans only, no fountain which seems really odd for a place with a bar but it was pretty much a bar serving beer - was a buck or so (sadly, the receipt has gone a drifting at this point).  I didn't see any Manhattans or martinis around the place.  That's dirt cheap, especially when The Girl's beer (draft, 10- or 12oz Christian Morelein) counted as her drink. Cost  - 8
      Other stuff
      • Seriously, The Girl's beer counted as her drink in the special.  I'm not a beer drinker, but I'm giving them a bonus point for that...+1
      • They've opened a second Quatman's now, this one out in Mason.  The Girl ate there like three days later than we ate at the one in Norwood and reports that it's the same place.  Any time you can take a neighborhood staple and clone it without losing anything, that's impressive...+1
      • They don't offer bacon on the burger...-1
      Total...from ChemGuy 32...from The Girl 34.5

      This puts Quatman's into the lead, a place that they won't be holding for long as we've visited two places since then that I'm thinking are going to finish a little ahead: Terry's Turf Club and Kuma's Corner in Chicago, both residing on the Food Network's 50 States, 50 Burgers list.

      June 17, 2010

      Sweet Home, Chicago

      The Girl pointed out that this trip (our third) officially makes Chicago our most-visited vacation destination.  Also in the running are Santa Fe (2 trips), Grand Canyon (2 for me), Los Angeles (2 abortive trips for me), New Bedford and surroundings (2 trips).

      With only a couple of full days plus an extended evening in Chicago and two baseball games already on the docket, we didn't have a whole lot of other time to spend in the Windy City, so our trip was a fairly brief one, even briefer than our Christmas trip this past winter.  (How have I not yet posted photos from that trip?  Slacker...)

      A quick recap with some detail here and there...

      • Drove in from Cincy.  Left 'round 9am, got to O'Hare around 3:30 Chicago time.  Parked in economy lot F ($9 daily) and took the shuttle to the CTA train.  Blue line in to within three blocks of our hotel (Grand stop on the red line, Conrad Hotel at $90 a night via Priceline).
      • Stopped at Chik Fil A near Lafayette, IN for lunch and to try the spicy chicken sandwich.  Surprisingly spicy, in fact, a little too spicy for me.  Still perfect cooking, two pickles, good bun.  I'll stick with the original.
      • Checked in an went walkies 'round the north Michigan area of Chicago.  Dinner at Pizano's on State - very tasty but huge Giambotta A La Harvey for me, Chicken Parm for The Girl - on the recommendation of The Mother in Law who travels via PBS almost exclusively.  Turns out that we'd been to Pizano's before, just to the Loop location.  
      • Some walking around before heading back to the hotel.  Walked by Xoco but decided to pass on dessert for the night in spite of seeing the mack daddy himself walking away from his restaurant.
      • At Pizano's we realized - I remembered - that the Stanley Cup finals were ongoing with the Blackhawks leading 3-2 heading into Wednesday's game.  I stayed up to see the final goal (4:06 into overtime) and hear the start of the screaming and honking in the streets of Chicago.

      • Breakfast at Xoco - empanadas and churos for each plus a bread pudding to split.  Wonderful, wonderful food.
      • Across to the Lake, through Millennium Park, into the Loop and down to US Cellular (White Sox) for the game around noon.
      • Lunch at the stadium - brat for The Girl, Italian beef for me, soft serve for both afterwards.  Nice stadium, another crossed off the every-growing list.  Saw the White Sox win handily, but Alex Rios and Miguel Cabrerra didn't do much for my fantasy team.  Very enjoyable stadium, nice seats ('bout 2/3 of the way up in the lowest level, out by the left fielder.)
      • Back to the hotel for a quick lie about and clean up heading out the red line to meet Katydid at Belmont.  Hopped a bus to Kuma's Corner to continue our burger quest.  Details will be forthcoming, but expect a high score.
      • Homeward - well, hotelward - to watch game four of the NBA finals (go Celtics!) and fall asleep happy for the second straight night.

      • Up earlyish for a walk to the Wabash and Washington (breakfast walking along the way from the Corner Bakery) to get a good spot for the Blackhawks celebration parade.  We set up at the corner of Wabash and Washington resting against a concrete planet to make sure we had somewhere safe to be.  The Girl recorded the whole thing on her Flip camera, and I'm going to do a bit of editing and throw it up on YouTube, but you can check the view from about twenty feet above where we were standing on this video in the meantime.  There are a bunch of great photos from the Chicago Tribune here (we are on the right side of photo #78 though you can't nearly make us out...we're also vaguely 25 seconds into this, in front of Staples...why, oh why doesn't Flickr have a button that says 'find me at recent public event'?).  After hanging out with a couple million of our closest friends at the parade, The Girl mentioned that this was what a Macy's Thanksgiving parade in NYC was like and again stating how disappointed she was after coming to The Hometown and seeing the smallness that was the Harvest Homecoming Parade.
      • We didn't hang around for the rally, instead cramming into a packed subway train up the red line to Addison to Wrigleyville.  Our seats - thanks, Stubhub - were under cover and in the absolute top row of the stadium which actually afforded a great view of the field and a nice breeze coming out of the south.  We got a couple of drops of rain on our backs, but the game wasn't remotely near a delay at any point.  Two games, two days of pretty perfect weather.  White Sox all over the Cubs with Rios going 4-4 with a HR and three runs scored.  Good day had by all except BP whose sponsorship of the Crosstown Showdown trophy was roundly boo-ed in the park.

      • Wandered around a bit after the game, all the way down to the Belmont station, just to let the crowd clear before taking the train back to the hotel to clean up for dinner at the Weber Grill Restaurant.  Excellent steak (not quite up to Jeff Ruby standards but still very, very tasty) and mashed spuds.  Then a wander over to Xoco for dessert of churros and homemade vanilla soft serve with pecan-maple-bacon streusel topping and salt caramel sauce.  Enjoyed it all while being lucky enough to sit out on the streetside seating. Outstanding work from Rick Bayless again.
      • Crappy breakfast at Così, back onto the CTA red to blue to O'Hare.  Gave away our three-day passes at ~9:30 - still good until 3 that afternoon.  Rolled homeward with a stop on the NE side of Indy for lunch of salads at a mall food court.
      • And home again, good evening, Sebastian.
      So, anything else you want to know?

      June 16, 2010

      How manly is ChemGuy via the Manly Movie List?

      Here's what we've got: Top 100 Great Movies Every Guy Must See.

      Let's start by sorting into two categories:  movies I've seen and movies I've not seen.

      I've seen #1-5,7-15, 17, 18, 21-27, 29-31, 33, 36, 37, 39, 40, 43-45, 47, 49-53, 55-58, 61-67, 70, 71, 73-78, 80, 83, 86, 88, 89, 91, 92, 94-97, 100.

      Haven't seen...
      • #6 - Once Upon a Time in America - immediately on my list to see
      • #16 - Backdraft - never interested me
      • #19 - Once Upon a Time in the West - another Eastwood western, all down with it
      • #20 - The Cowboys - never heard of it
      • #28 - Carlito's Way
      • #32 - Transformers - don't wanna
      • #34 - In the Line of Fire - old guy Eastwood interests me way less
      • #36 - Miller's Crossing - slept through it once
      • #38 - Starship Troopers - isn't this supposed to be awful?
      • #41 - Armageddon - isn't this supposed to be awful?
      • #42 - Old School - having not seen this is like a badge of honor at this point
      • #46 - Dawn of the Dead
      • #48 - The Wrestler - it's Arnofsky, I'll get to it soon enough
      • #54 - The Hurt Locker
      • #59 - The Evil Dead
      • #60 - Army of Darkness
      • #68 - Glory - really?  The Civil War bores me.
      • #69 - Last of the Mohicans
      • #72 - Midnight Run
      • #79 - Cinderella Man
      • #81 - A Knight's Tale - isn't this supposed to be awful?
      • #82 - American Wedding
      • #84 - Halloween
      • #85 - An American Werewolf in London
      • #86 - Hard Times - never heard of it
      • #87 - Death Wish - one of the old man's favorite trash choices
      • #90 - The Patriot
      • #93 - Manhunter
      • #98 - Man on Fire
      • #99 - Rolling Thunder - this isn't the Bob Dylan documentary, right?
      And how the heck is Fight Club not on this list?  Unforgiven? And why aren't there more films from before 1960? (The Searchers is the only one.)

      June 15, 2010

      June 14, 2010

      The internet is making you stupid

      I got a subscription to Wired again - mostly because it was free.  See, every year I get dozens and dozens of two-liter bottles from our open house and scavenge the codes on the bottle caps (please, more Coke products and fewer Pepsi products for future years) for points on MyCokeRewards.com.  This year I managed enough points for a free subscription to Wired, continuing my pattern of getting magazine subscriptions, letting them lapse because something about the magazine annoys me, then later renewing the subscription because only the positive parts of the magazine rest in my head.

      So, I have a subscription to Wired and occasionally find some awesome articles within.

      This month's absolute gem is titled "The Web Shatters Focus, Rewires Brains" which codifies many of the thoughts that I've been having about internet usage and its effects on the brains and learning styles of users - particularly on the students that I am currently teaching.

      Some selected quotes:
      "By keeping lots of brain cells buzzing, Google seemed to be making people smarter. But as Small was careful to point out, more brain activity is not necessarily better brain activity."

      "When we go online, we enter an environment that promotes cursory reading, hurried and distracted thinking, and superficial learning. Even as the Internet grants us easy access to vast amounts of information, it is turning us into shallower thinkers[.]"

      "A 1989 study showed that readers tended just to click around aimlessly when reading something that included hypertext links to other selected pieces of information. A 1990 experiment revealed that some “could not remember what they had and had not read.”"

      "She found that comprehension declined as the number of links increased—whether or not people clicked on them. After all, whenever a link appears, your brain has to at least make the choice not to click, which is itself distracting."

      "The Internet is an interruption system. It seizes our attention only to scramble it. There’s the problem of hypertext and the many different kinds of media coming at us simultaneously."

      "We willingly accept the loss of concentration and focus, the fragmentation of our attention, and the thinning of our thoughts in return for the wealth of compelling, or at least diverting, information we receive. We rarely stop to think that it might actually make more sense just to tune it all out."
      Check out the full article over at Wired's website.  I'm thinking that I'll be handing it out early in this coming year for my students - or throwing it to our advisory folks to get it read by all of our students.

      Grandpa Folky

      June 13, 2010

      Update: On a diet - financially and calorically

      We're two weeks into the diet plan - not weighing myself yet, maybe that'll start this week - and I've made one adjustment: every time I get outside and get some exercise done (could be walking for a couple of hours around Chicago, could be mowing the lawn, could be grubbing the flower beds - as long as I'm sweating for a while, it counts) I earn an extra $1.

      At this point, two weeks in, I have $21 in the bank.  Cheated three times, exercised four times (not great for two weeks, but it's a start).

      And I'm dying to spend the $21 - new Mad About You DVDs on Amazon...new Kate Nash album...Lego collectible minifigs...Wii Sports Resorts...ice cream in all its myriad forms...

      Late Links

      Back in the Queen City (more on that Chicago trip in the next few days) and back to the links if a bit late... 

      Who is Alvin Greene?

      So just who the heck is Alvin Greene?

      The quick facts so far...
      • Greene's the democratic nominee for US Senate.
      • He's an unemployed Army veteran with an involuntary but honorable discharge in August of last year.
      • He was arrested for felony obscenity charges in November and is still facing an indictment from - according to the AP - "show[ing] photos to a woman and talked about going to her room at a university dorm."
      • He didn't campaign in any outwardly visible sense.
      • What he did do - pay the initial $10,400 filing fee - came from a personal check.
      • His answers to Keith Olberman in the above interview are comedically brief, uncharacteristically so for a politician seeking office.
      • He whomped his opponent by a 59-41% margin.
      • He didn't have a campaign website or run any print or video ads for his campaign.
      • Greene raised $114 in campaign funds.
      • Greene doesn't crack a smile in either of the videos that I've seen of him.
      All kinds of possibilities exist...
      • The man's an incredibly private person who doesn't want to talk about all his hard work behind the scenes.  Yet he's running for a very public office.
      • Somebody is putting up a patsy to get slaughtered by the Republican nominee.
      • The 'e' at the end of the last name Greene identified Greene as African-American which identified with a largely African-American electorate.  (Not my theory, by the way)
      • Something horrifically fishy is going on.
      • Mr. Smith really is going to Washington.
      • The open primary system - allowing anyone to vote in the Democratic primary of South Carolina, mentioned right at the end of of Olberman's interview - let a lot of Republicans cross over and vote for Alvin Greene.

      June 9, 2010

      I couldn't ignore this is I tried

      It's amazing how easily I can send myself off onto some obsessive jag.

      All I have to do it to find a pdf of the meaning of the bar codes on the newest Lego collectibles, and I'm done for the day.

      It doesn't take much, really.

      Take, for example, my recent reading of You Couldn't Ignore Me if You Tried: The Brat Pack, John Hughes, and their impact on a generation.

      It's a fine book.  Hell, it's actually a really enjoyable - if slightly obsessive - book about a fairly narrow topic.  Thankfully, it's a topic that I'm all down with and that I'm all good obsessing about.

      The book is, as Kirby Fields writes...
      ...is a series of tight essays on, for my money, the right batch of movies: Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, St. Elmo’s Fire, Pretty in Pink, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Some Kind of Wonderful, and, the surprise of the bunch, Say Anything. Interspersed throughout these movie-specific chapters are more general essays on topics such as John Hughes’ upbringing, the role of music in these films, and the impact of the infamous New York magazine article that coined the term “Brat Pack”. The result is a work that’s part cultural analysis, part trivia, and whole bunch walk down memory lane.

      The structure of the movie-specific chapters relies on the same formula throughout: Introduce the broad overview of how the movie fits in the sequence of ‘80s youth films; examine the nuances of the casting, with special attention to the actors who did not get the part (what if Rick Moranis had been allowed to yuck it up in the role of Carl the Janitor in The Breakfast Club?); relate noteworthy on-set stories, complete with relevant pranks, tensions, and romances; then sum it all up with two pages on how the movie was received and what it all meant for the careers of the actors and the lives of the audience.
      If you have any interest in - or especially if you have any love for - the movies listed in that first paragraph, grab this book.  Its an easy, enjoyable, exhaustive read that doesn't necessarily shy away from occasionally mentioning that not everything on the sets or in Shermer was roses and sunshine.  Again from Kirby Fields:
      [T]he chapter on the origin of the term “Brat Pack” is noteworthy if only because it shows the very real consequences of a term that we have casually tossed around for the past 25 years. One of the handful of summative chapters near the end finally takes the movies to task for being so damn white. One of the great quotes belongs to sociologist Joshua Gamson: “I very much doubt that black urban kids were watching these movies and going, ‘Yeah, that’s me’”, If you haven’t thought about it before, take a moment to reflect on just how offensive Long Duk Dong is. He’s not Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany’s bad, but he’s pretty close.
      But back to the obsessive jag part.

      In the past couple of weeks, I've watched - or often rewatched - five of the films covered in this book.  (I'll try to hunt down St Elmo's Fire and Say Anything some time this summer, promise.)  Here are my thoughts...(in the order that I screened them this week)... 

      The Breakfast Club
      • This one was always my favorite of the Hughes movies.  I watched it dozens and dozens of times throughout a few summers spent in the clubhouse at the swimming pool that my dad managed when I was growing up.  Many of those viewings were spent with my sister - neither of us desperate to hang out at the pool for another day.
      • This one has aged very well, holding pretty much every bit of the drama that it originally had.  Makes sense, really, since it's about five archetypical characters who may be products of their time but aren't necessarily limited by that time - geek, basket case, princess, jock, rebel.  The problems that each has - jock's pressure to achieve athletically, princess's pressure to be slut/saint, basket case's being ignored by family, rebel's violent home life, geek's pressure to success academically - aren't things that are in any way rooted in the 80's.  This'll last.
      • Molly Ringwald plays much more mature/older than the other films with her even though this was only filmed a year after Sixteen Candles and actually before Pretty in Pink.
      • I've said before that I somewhat identify with the principal's character, having supervised lengthy detentions like this before, but on further viewing, I still find myself connecting more with the students.  The principal is such a putz that it's tough to find anything even remotely likable or relateable in him.
      • The janitor is the same guy who played the oily bohunk in Sixteen Candles.  Who knew?
      • Hughes clearly knew these characters well.
      • I'll put this up as Hughes's finest film.  
      • Not surprising to read in the book that this is being made into a play here and there.  The setting would easily translate with almost all the action taking place in the library or a few relatively interchangeable other rooms.
      • On a ten scale, I give this a nine and would imagine that it's going to continue to be relevant to high school kids for a long time.
      Pretty in Pink
      • There's no way Duckie gets the girl.  Duckie being infatuated with Andie seems like such a stupid puppy love crush that it doesn't work at all - something the book explores well with interviews with Ringwald, Cryer, Deutch.  In real life, Duckie maybe gets Andie long enough to realize that he's actually gay.
      • I wouldn't've noticed the awful toupee on Andrew McCarthy in the final scene if the book hadn't mentioned it.  (Love the book and all the trivia that I now know about these films.)
      • The classicism that Hughes mines in so many of his films is poorly done here.  Yes, we get it that Andie is poor and the McCarthy character is rich, but they both have to be so one-dimensionally rich and poor?
      • After seeing Some Kind of Wonderful, the depth of the relationship between Andie and Blane is surprisingly deep.  Yeah, they only go out on a couple of dates that we see, but that's a hell of a lot more than the 'love' in Wonderful.
      • Duckie is hilarious.  Love this character and don't have any clue why Andie would go for him in the least.  He's great comedic relief but certainly not romantic lead.
      • Annie Potts is also hilarious.  
      • James Spader is classic here.  Love him in lots of his roles, but here he does a smarmy jackass so easily and totally that it's almost endearing.
      • I wasn't in high school at the time of these films (sixth grade had just ended for me when this one came out), but does anybody have any clue is people actually dressed like these people in schools - the rich kids in Don Johnson suits and massive shoulder pads, the poor kids in quirky, thrift-store creations and wacky hats all the time?
      • If it weren't for the romantic plotline (you know, the plot of the movie), this would be an entertaining watch.  As it is, meh.
      • I'll give it a five out of ten.  This one hasn't aged well.  It's very much a product of it's era.
      Some Kind of Wonderful
      • In the book, the cast joke that they were just remaking Pretty in Pink with Duckie getting the girl in the end.
      • Love Eric StoltzCan't imagine him as the lead in Back to the Future - the movie that he was doing before he got canned and went into the lead on this film.  Far too serious for that role - at least as Michael J Fox worked it.
      • Hughes's classicism comes even further to the fore here - sort of.  Supposedly Eric Stoltz's family is poor, having never had a college boy, having always worked for their money.  Yet their house looks pretty nice to me, and dad is never shown doing any kind of work - not any job, not any work around the house.  Supposedly he's a working class guy because the script says he is.  And the sister is embarrassed about their for pretty much no reason as far as I can tell.
      • Lea Thompson ended up marrying the director here.  Still together as far as I can find any info.  Interesting tidbit.
      • I do want the song that plays over the closing scene - "I Can't Help Falling in Love" by Lick the Tins.  Nice version.  I'll have to grab it from iTunes since I can't find it at the library.
      • The 'bad kids' in this movie couldn't be written more stereotypically.  The lead shows up with a knife, booze, cigarettes, nudie playing cards.  The rest look like horrifically drawn stereotypes - the gang kid with the dark sunglasses and the bandanna over his forehead, the thicknecked head banger with stoner sunglasses.  Wow...Hughes so clearly understands a very small slice of the American teenager but so clearly has no idea what some of the others are like at all.
      • The puppy love of Keith (Stoltz) for Amanda Jones (Thompson) is ridiculous.  He's never met the girl, never talked to her, but he says he loves her.  This is like some kind of weird, fifteenth century poetic love thing, but it certainly doesn't belong in a film where the true romantic lead (Watts) says that a woman can be anything in 'this day'.
      • The love by Keith for Watts isn't really any deeper.  Yeah, they've been friends for a long while, but there doesn't seem to be any real intimacy between the two, and the only thing they have to hang 'love' on is one kiss and a bunch of time spent hanging out with Watts bad mouthing Keith's other crush.
      • The transparency of the Keith, Watts, Amanda Jones naming convention (all Rolling Stones-related) is a little bit much for me.
      • I'll give this one a six out of ten, but it's not much better than Pretty in Pink.  It's basically the same film with the genders swapped and the ending going the other way.
      Ferris Bueller's Day Off
      • This is Hughes's last great teen movie.  He didn't direct either Pink or Wonderful, and they might've been better with him at the helm.  He didn't do much more directing after thing - Uncle Buck; Planes, Trains, and Automobiles;, She's Having a Baby; Curly Sue - and none of them were teen films.  This wraps up his involvement in the genre.
      • Much, much better film than the last two.
      • I don't remember how many sad and serious scenes there are in this one - dealing with Cameron's home life, with Ferris's realization that he's going to lose his friends next year when he goes away, Sloan's time spent with Cameron talking about Ferris, the art museum, even.  Those moments make this a much more human film than it would be without them, but they're not the big set pieces - the parade, the Porche, Rooney's escapades at Ferris's house - which are the things I always think of when I think about this movie.
      • No Brat Packers here at all.  That group died a very quick death after the moniker came into being (great chapter in the book about the article that coined that term.)
      • This one works about as well as The Breakfast Club and has aged very well, too.  Interesting to see Charlie Sheen in his first movie role.
      • I'll give this one a seven or eight out of ten.  I'm thinking this one will stay popular for a while.
      Sixteen Candles
      • The father-daughter scene in the middle of the movie is a great scene, but it's not in tone with the rest of the film.  Really breaks the light-hearted mood that's been set up thus far.
      • Another example of 'love' between two people who haven't even met each other.  At least the father correctly points out that it's a crush in that scene.
      • I swear that lead love interest (Jake Ryan) is Matt Dillon.  It has to be Matt Dillon.  Has to be.
      • Anthony Michael Hall is hilarious.  This has to be one of his greatest roles.  Farmer Ted is brilliant - especially in the dance scene.  Great stuff.  Really makes the movie.
      • Long Duk Dong is entertaining, sure, but he's an offensive stereotype.  It's a weakness of the John Hughes movies that the book spends a bit of time checking out.  Hughes wrote Vacation - the only black characters steal the hub caps.  In Some Kind of Wonderful, the only black characters are non-speaking 'bad kid gangsters'.  In The Breakfast Club, there are no minorities at all (more understandable with just seven real characters in the film.  Pretty in Pink is minority-less.  If Hughes was able to capture the teen experience, it's the teen experience of white, middle class Midwesterners.  I'm good with that, but it does limit the overall influence of the genre.
      • The book mentions that Hughes was under pressure from the movie studio to include a number of juvenile humorous moments in order to tap into the Porkys market, and this one does have the only nude scene in any of the Hughes movies as such.  The clanging of the gong the first few times Long Duk Dong is mentioned or shows up on screen are awful.
      • The final scene - the table top scene - freaks me out every time.  I swear that table is going to shatter with the two people sitting on it.
      • I can see this one aging well because it, again, isn't a product of the times.  It's a sixteen-year-old girl being forgotten in the wake of her older sister's wedding.
      • Jake Ryan's move of passing his girlfriend - who he, admittedly, doesn't really like - off to a freshman with a Rolls Royce and a six pack of beer.  There may be a couple of laws broken there.
      • They don't mention date rape at any point - in the DVD extras, they do use that phrase - but clearly if the prom queen is passed out and Farmer Ted takes advantage of her, that's what he did.  Whether she enjoyed it or not, it's date rape.
      • I'll give this one an eight out of ten.
      • The Breakfast Club - great film, timeless
      • Sixteen Candles - excellent film, timeless
      • Ferris Bueller's Day Off - very good film, timeless
      • Some Kind of Wonderful - dated dreck
      • Pretty in Pink - dated dreck