November 30, 2011

Update: Twin Creek Preserve

Turns out that the newest park in Sharonville isn't much to look at just yet. I mentioned the ribbon cutting of Twin Creek Preserve last week, but when Calen and I wandered to said Twin Creek Preserve on Thanksgiving Wednesday, we didn't find much to explore.

At this point Twin Creek Preserve is pretty much a muddy field of sticks.

That's I-275 in the background. The foreground green is the corner of one of the two youth soccer fields that are largely finished.

Spread between the soccer fields are a trio of plastic coyotes (with 'real' fur tails) designed to keep, I'm assuming, geese off of the fields.

If you want to check out some more, I've taken the liberty of copying the photo albums from the Mill Creek Watershed's photo page on the Preserve.

Aerial Photos of Twin Creek Preserve

Get the flash player here:

Volunteer Plantings at Twin Creek Preserve

Get the flash player here:

You can also check out some pre-construction images...

Pre-Construction of Twin Creek Preserve streams

Get the flash player here:

And here are the directions in case you want to check the place out yourself.

There's been some more media coverage of the Preserve, as well...
Here's the full plan for the eventual Preserve...

I'm really looking forward to seeing (and maybe canoeing) the place when spring rolls around and once the plantings start to mature.

November 29, 2011

Occupy IDTMI

I'm going to have to straight up open by saying that I don't understand the Occupy Wall Street (et al) protests.

Actually, let me back up a little bit.

Whenever the question of free speech vs governmental restrictions comes up, I side with free speech. I think we should be able to say pretty much anything we want to say, anywhere, anytime - unless it can be proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that allowing such would cause direct and immediate harm to somebody. We can debate the exact details all over the place, but I'll generally err on the side of allowing free speech. Just thought you should know that.

Pursuant to that position, I'm fully supportive of people's rights to protest. If you're bothered by your local school board's policies, show up at the meeting and have your say. If you're worried that your city is discriminating, call the media and let 'em film your signs. If you think the federal government is turning control of the country over to some world government via secret codes on the back of the highway signs, write to the newspaper and set yourself ablaze.

I may not join you, but I'll defend your rights to say your piece to the ends of the Earth.

That being said, unless you have a specific issue and a solution, I may just ask you what you're hoping to accomplish here, and that's where I am with Occupy Wall Street. I just don't get what the protesters are hoping to accomplish.

I think we can all agree that there is a gigantic economic disparity in our country. The rich are getting richer on the backs of the poor and the middle class. We're in the middle of an economic downturn/recession that's as bad as anything we've had since the late 1970's (or longer depending on what measures you trust). Or maybe we're barely coming out of it - very...slowly. The recession was caused by the mistakes made by large investment banks that didn't seem to suffer too much in the (so far) long run.

And the middle class is getting killed. Jobs are being lost. Homes are being lost. Retirement savings are being lost.

I get the anger. I understand the frustration. I just don't see the way out or what the Occupy Wall Street protesters are hoping to change. Rather, I don't get how the Occupy Wall Street protesters are hoping to turn their Occupy-ing into change.

How are they hoping that camping out, Occupying Everywhere, chanting, cheering, getting arrested, beaten, and trampled is going to lead to this change? And just what change do they want to see happen?

Do they want taxes raised on the rich job creators?

Do they want more regulations on investment banks?

Do they want more jobs?

Do they want more governmental support of unions?

Do they want to end subsidies to oil companies?

What's the specific goal that can be accomplished to make the protesters happy? If their goal is a more equitable distribution of wealth, I'm afraid they're going to be Occupying through a whole lot of long, cold winters.


That being said, the treatment that the protesters have received - and possibly that they have given back to law enforcement in some cases - has been deplorable. The video above shows a peaceful protest at UC Davis which was broken up by the infamous (and meme-inspiring) pepper-spraying John Pike. We've seen similar incidents in lots of other cities - including Portland, shown to the right - many of which have lead to extremely violent showdowns between protesters and law enforcement - most noticeably in Oakland.

I am happy to say that all reports here in the Queen City have been that police have done their jobs while being respectful of the protesters. There have been arrests and park-clearings, but there hasn't been violence.

November 28, 2011

Ryan Adams in Cincy

Ryan Adams just posted a run of shows that'll include a stop at the Taft Theater in Cincy in on sale later this week...

Check 'em...

TableTopics: #32

Who has inspired you as a mentor and why? (I'll change that last word to 'how'.)

Largely all of my mentors are teachers I've taught with or learned from. They're the ones I've seen in action, the ones I've learned from, the ones who've shown me what to (and in some cases what not to do).

The most prevalent influence on my teaching style was Pru Phillips (that's Pru on the left of the photo - thanks, Wabash, for posting that) of Crafordsville high school. Pru was the wife of the David Phllips, head of the chemistry department at Wabash College when I was a student there. Pru didn't take many student teachers and only then during the second semester, but she was kind enough to take me on for the spring of 1996 - partially at the recommendation of her husband. My students today would likely have recognized the mechanics of Pru's classroom - the BAT sheets, the homework folders, the lab report formatting, the demonstrations - as I picked up many of my techniques from her. She worked tirelessly, put in long hours, and recognized that connecting with the students was every bit as important as presenting curriculum to them. She was a spectacular teacher, and I am lucky to have known her. The Best Man, coincidentally, was lucky to have had her as his chemistry teacher, and he has parlayed that solid footing into a career in chemistry, now at Proctor and Gamble.

Lee Cordrey (sadly I can't find a photo of him online) taught with me at Mount Healthy High School. Lee didn't bring the greatest chemical knowledge to the classroom, having been trained as a middle school science teacher and shifting to the high school at some point. Lee brought a sense of joy to the classroom and an easy-going demeanor that I have hoped to carry along in my years. Yes, there is curriculum to be covered, but there is a lot of fun to be had in the process, and I have Lee to thank for reminding me of that from time to time.

Doug Studer, my teaching neighbor for more than a decade at Princeton High School, has shown me much of how to be a good teacher. I was initially skeptical of Doug's teaching as he asked some questions those first couple of years that made me wonder how well he know the chemistry content. As I learned, however, this was entirely reasonable because Doug was originally trained as a history teacher who slid into chemistry to better his chances of getting a j.o.b. Doug is a year more senior than I at Princeton, and he has been somewhat burdened with a schedule drastically different from mine - initially taking the lowest science classes we had to offer. In the past decade, however, Doug has turned himself into a spectacular teacher, primarily through hard work. For a long time, I was of the belief that teachers were largely born, that the ability to lead a classroom was an innate skill that people either had or didn't have, but Doug has shown me that a willingness to work and improve oneself is easily as important as any natural leanings toward teaching that a person might have.

As much as it pains me to say this - because I know she'll end up reading this and I'll never hear the end of this, Rebecca Heckman (calencoriel, for those of you in the know) has actually taught me a heck of a lot, too. I haven't been able to teach beside her, so I haven't taken much in-classroom material from her, but she does a masterful job of walking the tightrope of being a teacher leader within the building. She has been my department chair under three principals now, and each one has held her in high regard, allowing her to lead our department - in various ways as leadership has dictated - for over a decade. She is far more diplomatic than I, is generous with her time to her students (she was making Facebook groups and IMing her students long before I ever considered it), and is willing to spend hours and hours at Princeton to help her students out. I still have much to learn from her.

I wish I had somebody to list from my year at Terre Haute South Vigo High School, but I only spent one year there. The first year of teaching is mostly just an exercise in trying to keep your head above water, and I don't know how much of what I was learning is anything I was actually, overtly aware that I was learning. I owe thanks to lots of folks there: Melanie Huber, my official mentor and department chair, the other four new first-year teachers in our department (it was a fun year), and loads of other folks whose names have drifted from my brain over the years.

In case you're late to the party, here's the deal...

Here's what I've answered so far...
  • #25 - "I Know What Love Is" by Don White
  • #35 - no business 
  • #36 - MLK, Jr's "I Have a Dream" speech on the National Mall 
  • #16 - first college visit home
  • #19 - No 
  • #22 - Skydiving
  • #24 - Beastie Boys in NYC
  • #27 - Fight Club / Primer / Hoosiers / Grosse Pointe Blank and Slaughterhouse Five / All-Star Superman
Already requested answers...they'll be answered (probably in this order)...
  • 37
Feel free to request other answers in the comments.

November 27, 2011

Turkey hangover

Is that sweet potato pie in the corner?

November 26, 2011

From the hills of Maine...

Wabash 29 - North Central 28...apparently a pretty amazing comeback with the backup QB starting because of injury. Check all the details...

Franklin, on the other hand, saw their dream dashed at the hands of the #1 school in the nation. Details here.

By the way, the links post will be up in the mornin'...

November 25, 2011

The 80's rocked

The Friday 80's roll on with the second part of the rock theme...

November 24, 2011

Some advice

Do yourself a favor and go see The Muppets this weekend.

It's really fun.

I can give more details later, but just take my word on this one.

November 23, 2011

From SNL

And because I'm geeked to go see the new Muppet movie today...

~admittedly not Muppet-centric, but they do make an appearance...

Reviews...just because

Powers: The Definitive Collection vol 1 & 2 by Brian Michael Bendis & Mike Oeming - This was an impulse pickup from the Sharonville branch. The second volume was on the shelf, so I went ahead and reserved vol 1,3,4. I'd heard of but not much about Powers before so I came in pretty blank. The plot can be summed up as a simple enough two-detectives-investigate-super-powered-homicides. The main characters, however, seem to have a whole lot more in their backgrounds than we're initially lead to believe, and their ties to the Powers community become a significant part of the storyline.

The book strikes a tone that is a combination of detective noir and quick-paced,knowing police drama, with the characters speaking to each other in quick, clipped half sentences, requiring the reader to catching the meaning amidst the patter. That combination along with the deepening plot as to the growing dissatisfaction of the common public with their superpowered protectors and a slowly-revealed governmental conspiracy makes for an engaging read illustrated in perfect, drastically cartoon style.

How Baking Works by Paula Figoni - I'm always on the lookout for books that might work for my chemistry extra credit assignment in which the students read a non-textbook chemistry book and answer some questions, make a video, present a project, do sumpin'. I didn't really know what this book was when I grabbed it from the PLCH shelves, but it turns out that this textbook - used in culinary and baking programs - is perfect. The chapters are filled with rockin' science written at a level that is imminently approachable and connected with examples and exercises that the students can perform in their own kitchen.

Great choice and one I'm going to see if I can swing through for the school to buy.

(At this point, I'm going with quick thoughts as I've been writing this post for a week now and haven't gotten it finished...)

Lex Luthor: Man of Steel...

All-Star Batman and Robin...

Superman/Batman: Night and Day

Tangent Comics: Reign of Superman

All are awful. Avoid them.

Flip Flop Fly Ball by Craig Robinson - book of infographics from online designer, baseball fan, and all-around British can check out his work here...some overlap, lots of unique stuff on each side (book/website)...surprisingly, book isn't all infographics (which I would have also enjoyed)...also interesting stories about Robinson's journey to baseball as a British guy who has lived in Germany, New York, Toronto, and England...seems a nice guy who's open to wandering the US on a trip to various baseball parks and making friends along the way (but not so saccharine that he's above a little mocking of some of those 'friends')...good read...quick, too...lots of info packed into beautifully-designed infographics...

The Rocketeer: The Complete Adventures by Dave Stevens - I don't get what the big deal is. Yes, he draws Betty Page as being dead sexy, but that's not really a raison d'être for an entire eight comic book issues. The plot is thin. The characters are one-dimensional...there's no real resolution...check out the visual highlights at the link above but let the rest pass...

The Science of Good Food by David Joachim and Andrew Schloss - This one doesn't work for my EC project as there isn't any sort of thematic chapter.  It's mostly just an encyclopedia listed alphabetically by food type. Some of the entries are interesting, and it might be a useful reference tool for cooks who want to know some of the science behind various ingredients, but it's nothing I want or need.

Luther (season 1) - fascinating stuff...only six episodes in the first BBC season...makes for a compressed storyline...great lead from Idris Elba (Stringer Bell of The Wire)...interesting morality play with the titular Luther growing an odd friendship with a killer from episode 1...certainly worth a watch even though the six-hour running time doesn't allow for subtlety or slow character development...second season (only four episodes) came in at PLCH yesterday...looking forward to seeing where this one's going to go as the lead is about as self-destructive as can be...

Batman: Under the Red Hood (DVD) - adaptation of DC's "Under the Hood" storyline with Jason Todd's return from the beyond...the story's good enough, even doing fair justice to the flashback to "A Death in the Family"...the characters work, the storyline interesting, the conflict works...the voices don't work for me...I missed the Batman and Joker that I know, Kevin Conroy and Mark was a noticeable loss for me, and I just couldn't get past it...well done but not right for me...

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline - This one's the find of the week. Novel set in twenty or thirty years in a dystopian future in which the entire world spends the majority of their life jacked into Oasis, an entirely immersive online world with thousands of worlds and billions of people. Our protagonist is a gunter (egg hunter) searching for the Oasis's creator's final Easter Egg - billions of dollars and total control of the Oasis. The character quickly - in our story, anyway, it takes nearly a decade, most of which happens before the book opens 0 - moves from nobody to Oasis-wide celebrity when he becomes the first player to unlock step one of the three steps to the Easter Egg. Along the way, of course, our lead falls in (and out of) love, runs up against the great evil of the Oasis (a murderous corporation), nearly loses, comes out on top thanks to his devotion to the hunt, and ultimately learns the value of friendship and the real world.

The real fun here comes from the 1980's references that are the gist of the hunt. Apparently the Oasis's creator's obsessions were with the 1980's and the secrets of the Egg hunt can only be unlocked by obsessively watching the movies, listening to the music, viewing the television shows, and playing the video games of the 1980's. The book is crafted almost entirely of references to Atari and Commodore 64 games, Michael Jackson and Hall and Oates tunes, Family Ties and the anime of the decade.

The book doesn't feel like it's of high quality, but it certainly was an enjoyable read. I strongly recommend it for anyone who remembers early Dungeons and Dragons modules, Adventure on the Atari, or computer games on floppy discs.

November 22, 2011

Tiny Desk: Goat Rodeo Sessions

Yo-Yo Ma and friends - including the mandolinist from Nickel Creek and the Punch Brothers stopped by NPR for a Tiny Desk Concert - as well as staying around to record for All Things Considered.

Pretty music...

Looking forward to hearing The Goat Rodeo Sessions, their just-released album that I just reserved from PLCH.

Lonnieburger Baskets: Virgil's

And we have begun crossing the river...

This weekend's burger foray took us to Bellevue, Kentucky, just east of downtown Cincinnati. It's a forty-minute drive from our place in West Chester, and in the process, we pass by the exit for Terry's Turf Club (our top-ranked burger in the Cincy area). That means Virgil's Cafe (warning, auto-playing Tom Waits) is going to have to be pretty spectacular to merit a second visit.

Was it?

Cincinnati Magazine's review says...
  • #6 - Virgil's Cafe
    Virgil's feels too fancy to qualify as a burger joint. Clean and crisp black linen tablecloths covered with butcher paper and overly polite waiters just don't scream out "Burger time!" But don't let that fool you; the modestly named "beef hamburger" - grilled, succulent beef topped with sauteed mushrooms and caramelized onions on a multigrain kaiser roll - equals hamburger heaven. And do not miss out on their sweet potato fries with a side of ancho-mayo.

  • Their 'beef hamburger' (yes, seriously, that's what it's called on the menu - as though a hamburger would be anything but a beef hamburger) is, indeed tasty. The beef is nicely moist if a little greasy. I went for medium and got something on the pink side of that. The Girl went for 'something on the done side of medium' and go exactly what she'd asked for with very little pink left in the center. The patties are plain but high-quality beef (100% prime chuck according to the menu) with almost no spices, something I missed as the burger needed a bit more salt. The patty is oddly perfect - evenly thick throughout, perfectly round - which could be because Matt Buschle (owner, chef of Virgil's - check out his vimeo channel, warning: fat man) makes them in bulk or because they're pre-bought, I dunno. Burger - 6

  • The menu says the burgers come with sauteed mushrooms and onions and a choice of cheeses (Swiss, cheddar, or blue). For an extra $2 each, you can add pastrami, bacon, or an egg. I went for cheddar and bacon. The Girl went with Swiss and her onions on the side. She only likes the onions if they're cooked to death. Her onions weren't nearly dark enough for her, but I enjoyed them and appreciated the double helping. The cheese was - as you can see above - nicely melted. The bacon was tasty and very crisp without being remotely burned (I think they deep fry their bacon.) The onions and mushrooms were sauteed without being too dark. Toppings - 7

  • The burgers don't come with any fires, only kettle chips which I'll admit we never saw. For an extra buck and a quarter each, we swapped out the chips in favor of sweet potato fries with the threatened ancho mayo. The fries came out nicely hot and decently crisp (hard to ever get sweet potato fries totally crisp with their high amount of sugar). There wasn't much spice on them at all, and they could have used more salt and pepper. The fries didn't stay hot for too long, but that's partially a product of how thinly they were cut. I didn't see any reason to rave about the fries. They're fine but nothing special. Plus we had to pay extra for them. The ancho mayo was indeed ancho-ey and mayo-ey but just fine. Fries - 6

  • I was surprised with the ambiance in the place. It's a converted house that's been turned into a really attractive restaurant with beautiful wood work throughout. The seating breaks down into three or so areas, each with a little different flair and rotating artwork (for sale) on the walls. I dug the place, but it is a little more high class than most of the joints we've been getting burgers. Seating is limited, and reservations are strongly recommended (OpenTable is available online). The service was busy but pleasant. Ambiance - 8
  • Ah, here's the rub. Burger is $10. Bacon another $2. Fries an extra $1.25. Diet Coke was $2. That's a total of $15.25 for burger, fries, and a drink. This isn't a cheap burger. Cost - 1

Other Stuff
  • Virgil's is a neighborhood place, and Matt makes nearly every bit of food in house. He's a big proponent of local, quality food. I'm all in favor of that. I hope that their non-burger options were better. The burger was fine but won't be drawing me back in. +1
  • The burger bun was housemade but far too dense. The bottom was nicely substantial and became tasty as the juices soaked into it. The top, however, was too chewy without that juice. The Girl brought part of her burger home and was almost repulsed at how dense and chewy the top was the next day. The buns are pretty but too heavy. -1 
  • We sampled their appetizers with a serving of their jalapeno hush puppies (pictured above). They had nice flavor and were pleasantly moist. They were, however, small and not terribly numerous. At $4 they didn't feel like a bargain. +/- 0
  • It's in friggin' Bellevue. That's frickin' far from home.
  • We did stop at the Party Source on the way home, so there is that.
And our total? 28 points for Virgil's. We were not impressed.
  • Terry's Turf Club - 45
  • Cafe de Wheels - 44
  • Senate - 43 
  • Stuffed on Vine - 38
  • Five Guys Burgers and Fries - 36 
  • Roxy's - 36
  • VanZandt - 34
  • Gabby's - 34 
  • Oakley Pub & Grill - 34 
  • Quatman's - 32 / 34.5
  • Troy's - 32 
  • By Golly's - 32
  • Wildflower Cafe - 31.25 (scaled from 26/40) 
  • Virgil's Cafe - 28
  • The Pub at Rookwood Mews - 28
  • Smashburger - 28
  • Habits Cafe - 28
  • Graffiti Burger - 27
  • Arthur's - 26
  • Sammy's - 25 
  • Gordo's - 20

November 21, 2011

Just for one of you...

Here's the link to This American Life's episode about money being fiction. It's worth a listen.

And just to fill the space so this is sort of a real update...

Um, here's a link to a recent, fun Family Guy episode in which Brian and Stewie travel to the past to find Brian's tennis ball.

And a nicely done Google music commercial...

Two from the Enquirer

The Cincy Enquirer is an awful newspaper. Awful, I say...

That being said, two articles from this weekend caught my eye...

November 20, 2011

College Football excitement

Great last 24 hours of college football...
  • #2 Ok State...loses 37-31 in double OT
  • #4 Oregon...loses 38-35 when they miss a tying FG on the last play of the game
  • #5 Oklahoma...loses 45-38 with a TD from Robert Griffin III with 8 seconds left
  • #7 Clemson...waxed 37-13 by NC State
  • #9 Stanford...barely leading at half 14-13 hosting California (hung on for 31-28 victory, natch)
  • Wabash beats Illinois College 38-20 to open the DIII playoffs

November 19, 2011

We all await Zorp... the meantime, The Girl and I are going to try out Virgil's Cafe in Bellvue tonight. Their beef hamburger was rated #7 by Cincy Mag a while back, and we need to get us back on the burger train.

  • Dear John - seriously, these are my people
  • SuperPunch tumblr - He runs a second blog, too?
  • "End of the World" - Best episode of Parks and Recreation yet. It's really nice.
  • From Bill Simmons - Suck it, Bill.
    For the past four and a half months, I've been walking across America, raising money for heart transplant patients, raising awareness for organ donation and exploring ways to fight tedium amid eight hours in a cornfield or feed lot. I've even had occasion to read your columns, Internet connection providing. As I was approaching the Queen City this week I thought of your recent QB Power Rankings and the breakdown of Matt Schaub as the league's version of beige window blinds. Then it struck me, that Cincinnati is the Matt Schaub of U.S. cities. Has anything about the city been relevant since 1979 (The Big Red Machine, the Who concert tragedy and WKRP's "Turkeys Can't Fly" episode)? Have you ever heard someone excited to get back to Cincinnati, or conversely, decry what has become of the once-great Queen City? It's just there, as it always is. Couldn't Matt Schaub really be a metaphor for that which that stirs no discernible passions, interest or derision? As in Simon & Simon was the Schaub of '80s detective shows or John Jay was the Schaub of the Founding Fathers?
    — Mikey Walks, Los Angeles
  • Against the Grain -Stop motion doesn't get any more stopy or motionish

Hudson - Against The Grain from Dropbear on Vimeo.

Earth | Time Lapse View from Space, Fly Over | NASA, ISS from Michael König on Vimeo.

November 18, 2011

The 80s rocked

But we're not talking about Guns-n-Roses or Twisted Sister, we're talking about Springsteen, J Giles Band, John Cougar, even Michael Jackson.

Take a listen to today's 80s playlist.

November 17, 2011

Random ten...a twist

Today's random ten...iTunes, in this order,  pooped out these ten songs.

Here's the closest I could come to actual video of the songs on iTunes...

November 16, 2011

TableTopics: #27

What's your favorite book and movie?
  • Slaughterhouse Five - The emotional connection of this one turns it into so much more than a weirdo sci-fi book, even though that's what it kinda is.
  • Sandman - Tears by the time I get to the end of this one, once the wake comes around...wonderfully rich characters in a wonderfully looping story. The absolute editions are gorgeous.
  • Planetary - The finite nature of this comic series, admittedly, helped me get into it, but that's not what's spectacular about it. The combination of so many cultural references surprisingly creates an entirely new something that's beautiful.
  • All-Star Superman -  There's not been a better Superman story told, and there aren't many better tales. We've pretty much never gotten this resonant a story from the comics.
  • The Electric Brae - This one has a long, long history in my world. The copy I have was sort of stolen from the New Albany-Floyd County Public Library. It came into my world at a very needy time, and it's been perfect for me for a number of rereads. Pretty much everybody I hand it to doesn't believe that it's all that much good, but for me, it's everything I want and need.
  • Infinite in All Directions - Another one that came into my world at a time when I needed something. The connection with Aberdeen certainly didn't hurt. Intelligent exploration of science and how it affects our world, what it means to one great scientist.
  • Fight Club -  The book is better than the movie, seriously.
  • Brave New World - I've loved this since I read it in high school. Brilliant exploration of modern culture and eugenics and mass production...and I love the misunderstanding of today's culture from the future archeologists.
  • Iowa Baseball Confederacy - Found this one in the Wabash bookstore as a frosh. Cost me a whole dollar. Best $1 book I've ever bought. Wonderful balance of magic and sports...great love story.
I'll go for All-Star Superman from the comic world and Slaughterhouse Five from the non-. I read Slaughterhouse Five every couple of years, and I love it every time.

In case you're late to the party, here's the deal...

Here's what I've answered so far...
  • #25 - "I Know What Love Is" by Don White
  • #35 - no business 
  • #36 - MLK, Jr's "I Have a Dream" speech on the National Mall 
  • #16 - first college visit home
  • #19 - No 
  • #22 - skydiving
  • #24 - Beastie Boys in NYC
  • #27 - Fight Club, Grosse Pointe Blank, Hoosiers, or Primer...
Already requested answers...they'll be answered (probably in this order)...

November 15, 2011

TableTopics: #27

What's your favorite book and movie?

I've had a canned pair of answers to these for years,and I don't know that I'll be overthrowing those canned answers, but let's take a little bit to look at the various nominees...

We'll start with movies and break 'em down by genre...
  • Favorite comedy - Dr Strangelove or The Big Lebowski or Grosse Pointe Blank or O Brother, Where Art Thou?
  • Favorite kids-ish movie - The Muppet Movie or Spirited Away
  • Favorite action movie - Hero or Kill Bill: Vol 1
  • Favorite foreign film - Hero 
  • Favorite guilty pleasure - Road House or LA Story
  • Favorite drama - Fight Club or The Usual Suspects or Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind or Goodfellas
  • Favorite sports movie - Hoosiers or Field of Dreams
  • Favorite documentary - The Fog of War or I Am Trying to Break Your Heart
  • Favorite war movie -The Thin Red Line
  • Favorite concert film - Rattle and Hum or The Last Waltz or Purple Rain 
  • Favorite western - The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly or Unforgiven
  • Favorite sci-fi - Blade Runner or The Matrix or Primer
  • Favorite suspense - The Player 
Let's play knock out again. The goal is to look for a film that I actually think is a great film and one that I'd willingly rewatch at the drop of a hat no matter my mood.
  • Out first - Road House - It's not actually a good film. I know that.
  • 2nd - The Matrix - As much as it shouldn't be so, the subsequent craptacular films poisoned this one.
  • 3rd - The Last Waltz - It might be ranked higher if it weren't for the Neil Diamond crap and focus on Robbie Robertson.
  • 4th - Rattle and Hum - As background, sure, but to actually sit down and watch the thing from tip to tail isn't one that I'm desperate to do all the time.
  • 5th - Spirited Away - The oddness is gorgeous and beautiful, but it is beginning to age for me.
  • 6th - Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - This one's a little tough to watch because it's such a hard ending for me.
  • 7th - Purple Rain - The concert footage is outstanding, and the between is hilarious, but those parts are of such dubious quality that this one doesn't make it any further.
  • 8th - The Fog of War - This one's a thinker. It's a hard watch.
  • 9th - I Am Trying to Break Your Heart - Same reason as Rattle and Hum: it's not one I'll watch all the way through just because I'm killing time.
  • 10th - The Thin Red Line - Too slow for viewing unless I'm in the mood.
  • 11th - The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly - This cut is tough, but they'll all be tough cuts from here on in. I haven't seen this one enough (only twice) to say that it'll age and stay one of my favorites.
  • 12th - Unforgiven - Man, this one's dark. It's spectacular and amazing, but it's dark.
  • 13th - (From here on, every movie is in the running for my favorite depending on my mood.) - Kill Bill: Vol 1 - As much as I enjoy the hell out of this one, I'm not sure it's a spectacular film. It's stylish, but it's kind of all sizzle not as much steak.
Screw it...strengths of the rest...
  • Dr Strangelove - Amazing quality performances from the most spectacular mimic that we've seen on film. Marvelous cultural relevance. Brilliant dark humor. Not laugh out loud funny through most of the film.
  • The Big Lebowski - Tough to pass up no matter my mood. Spectacularly quotable...imminently referenceable...perfectly paced throughout.
  • Grosse Pointe Blank - Impossible for me to turn away from. Perfect character study. Beautiful Minnie Driver. Most excellent John Cusack part ever, and that's saying something.
  • The Muppet Movie - Cameos galore...funny at every turn...great message...Charles Durning...inspirational
  • Hero - My vote for the best movie I've ever seen...highest quality but not my favorite even though I do love it.
  • LA Story - I know this one isn't on par with the others in terms of quality, but it's a weak spot for me because of the second date thing. I love this one.
  • Fight Club - I'll watch this one any time. Great performances from all the leads. Hell of a book. 
  • The Usual Suspects - Best film of the 90's...I'm still stunned at the twist every time, and I find something new every time I see it.
  • Hoosiers - If it weren't for the inexplicable kiss (which is explained in the cut scenes), this might be the perfect sports movie ever. It's not all truthful, but it's phenomenal, and it brings me to tears every time when they head out for the final game.
  • Field of Dreams - It's a little slow in parts, but I weep like a baby in the last scene. It's perfect in every way.
  • Blade Runner - First off, the choice is the director's cut. It's marvelous and thoughtful, and the climax with Rutger Hauer is among the finest scenes on film.
  • Primer - This one's a thinker, probably the most thoughtful film I've seen. It's one that has to be seen over and over to be understood, and I love seeing it over and over. Outstanding stuff.
  • The Player - Brilliant acting...more cameos than The Muppet Movie...dark as dark can get...great paranoia
I'm going with Grosse Pointe Blank...Fight Club...Hoosiers...and Primer. That's the best I can get, a final four. Take it or leave it.

I referred to my critickr rankings for some help here. I really should go back through and update those.

I'll come back tomorrow with the book choices.

In case you're late to the party, here's the deal...

Here's what I've answered so far...
  • #25 - "I Know What Love Is" by Don White
  • #35 - no business 
  • #36 - MLK, Jr's "I Have a Dream" speech on the National Mall 
  • #16 - first college visit home
  • #19 - No 
  • #22 - skydiving
  • #24 - Beastie Boys in NYC
Already requested answers...they'll be answered (probably in this order)...
  • 32...37
Feel free to request other answers in the comments.

November 14, 2011

The ultimate in narcicissm

The new versions of Picasa has a feature called FaceMovie that takes all the pics identified for one person and turns them into a movie with the faces roughly stacked on top of each other.

This would be great for graduation or wedding or whatever videos.

Or just for being a narcissist.

November 12, 2011

Best night of the year

November 11, 2011

More 80's

I'd originally called this playlist New Wave 80's back when I started the 80's collection, but as I listen to it today, I'm not so sure these all qualify under that genre.

November 10, 2011

TableTopics: #24

If you could have front row seats to any concert, who would you like to see?

I'm going to chuck the option of traveling in time to see anybody in history - purely an arbitrary choice. I don't feel like going through whether I'd rather see Bob Dylan in 1962 or 1975, Led Zepplin on which tour, U2 in Sun Devil Stadium, Queen at Live Aid, Beatles in whatever year.

The acts in contention...
  • Beastie Boys*
  • Richard Thompson*
  • Ryan Adams*
  • Avett Brothers
  • Wilco*
  • U2*
  • Chris Isaak*
  • Beck
  • Cake*
  • Lyle Lovett*
  • Yonder Mountain String Band*
I've already seen many of those in person already (those marked with a *), and some of those were pretty decent seats - Richard Thompson and Yonder Mountain in particular.

I'm gonna go with order of elimination...
  • 1st out - Beck - His past couple of albums have left me cold, so I don't know that I'd enjoy all the stuff he plays.
  • 2nd out - Richard Thompson - I've seen him in concert a half dozen times. While I've never been in the first couple of rows, I've been in the near balcony just over Richard's shoulder at the Southgate House. I can't imagine it'd be much better directly in front.
  • 3rd out - U2 - Bono wanders around a whole lot, and I'm thinking that no one particular seat would do for one of their concerts.
  • 4th out - Yonder Mountain String Band - I've seen the people who hang out in front of the stage at the Yonder Mountain concerts, and I'm not sure I'd be able to handle that level of controlled substances without getting a prescription for glaucoma. I like my teachers license.
  • 5th out - Chris Isaak - The Girl and I saw him a decadeago, and I have no idea whether Isaaks can still rock the concerts, so I'll pass on the risk.
  • 6th out - Avett Brothers - I don't know what kind of show they'd put on, and as much as I dig their music, they just don't quite make the cut compared to the rest of the acts left for me.
  • 7th out - Lyle Lovett - He's a little too laid back to need the front row. His concerts are good enough from a few rows back.
  • 8th out - Cake - Their music is a rockin' experience and would be good from the front row, but their newest album is way weaker than their previous albums...don't know what they could bring to the concert.
  • 9th out - Ryan Adams - Here we start getting to tough choices. Adams isn't a guarantee to show for the concert, so I'm not going to take the risk.
  • 10th out - Wilco - Man, this one's tough. They're  without debate my favorite band, and I would love seeing Jeff Tweedy's expressions from down by the stage, but I've seen Wilco a whole bunch of times. They're rock solid, but I'd rather go with...
  • My choice - Beastie Boys - They're a rocking band, and they're hilarious in concert (one 45-minute set at the Rock the Vote concert in 2008), so I think seeing them up by the stage would be awesome. I'm down with pretty much their entire oeuvre,  so I'd be able to sing along with everything.
Beastie Boys...I'm sure they'd be thrilled to have me there. Right there at the first row in their next NYC concert.

In case you're late to the party, here's the deal...

Here's what I've answered so far...
  • #25 - "I Know What Love Is" by Don White
  • #35 - no business 
  • #36 - MLK, Jr's "I Have a Dream" speech on the National Mall 
  • #16 - first college visit home
  • #19 - No 
  • #22 - skydiving
Already requested answers...they'll be answered (probably in this order)...
  • 27...32...37
Feel free to request other answers in the comments.

November 9, 2011

My dream collection

Did you know there was/is an Internet Database of Periodic Tables?

Until recently, neither did I...

I don't understand the arrangement of lots of these, but I clearly have some reading to do.

November 8, 2011

November 7, 2011

TableTopics: #22

What would you try if you had no fear?

Well, let's consider my fears...
  • heights
  • spiders
  • general risk
I don't think there are any real other fears that I have. There are things I don't like - eggplants, microfiber, beer, Julia Roberts to name a few - but they aren't things that I'm afraid of. If that's it for my real fears, let's take a look at where that might lead me.

There are a few things I've avoided because of my fear of heights...
  • skydiving
  • walking on the skyway over the Grand Canyon
  • hot air balloon flight
There's pretty much nothing I've missed out on because of my spider fear.

The kinds of choices that I've made because my general fear of risk have steered me toward my career - one where seniority used to protect you - toward a stable house. I'm not one to start a business because it's too much of a risk, not one to throw my money into risky stocks, not one to radically change what I'm doing in the classroom, but none of those are things that I really want to do.

So, the things I've missed out on are because of my fear of heights, and I really do want to go skydiving. The balloon thing would be nice and all, but not as cool, and the skywalk looks neat but seems like it would be disappointing.


In case you're late to the party, here's the deal...

Here's what I've answered so far...
  • #25 - "I Know What Love Is" by Don White
  • #35 - no business 
  • #36 - MLK, Jr's "I Have a Dream" speech on the National Mall 
  • #16 - first college visit home
  • #19 - No 
  • #22 - skydiving
Already requested answers...they'll be answered (probably in this order)...
  • 24...27...32...37
Feel free to request other answers in the comments.

November 5, 2011

Happy Guy Fawkes's Day, all

November 4, 2011

November 3, 2011

Laiki remembered

On this day in 1957 the Russian space agency sent a dog into space. Laika, that dog, became the first animal successfully sent into space, but she did not return. The Russians never intended for her to return but rather for her to pass away aboard Sputnik 2 once she had given her life to research that would eventually lead to humans successfully entering and returning from space.

Today, 54 years later, we remember Laika.

If you get a chance, take a read of Laika, a gorgeous graphic novel about Laika and her handlers. The book is warm and engaging, heart wrenching and hopeful. It's a spectacular tale beautifully told.

November 1, 2011

Cincy Shirts

I'm not a born and raised Cincinnatian, so there are a number of shirts for offer by that I don't get, but they're still fun.