Thursday, July 31, 2008

Top 5 Movies

Movies are the great uniter. As Dark Knight seemed to prove, EVERYONE in America has a tendency to see movies. People of all ages and walks of life will watch the same comedy and laugh just as hard. Earlier this year I started tracking how many movies I'd seen on IMDB.com, and it totaled up to 765 (and counting). The funny thing is that both Jesse and Shawn had over a 1000. And I thought I had no life.....

Anyways! Here's my Top 5 Movies, in no particular order.
  1. Ghostbusters. It might have come out before I was even born, but Ghostbusters is one of those rare comedies that holds up well over time, and multiple viewings. A perfect cast of characters, some of the best quotes ever ( Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together... mass hysteria!), crazy action, an original premise. There are very times when this is on TV that I don't sit down and watch it, at least for a while. The sequel is almost as good, too. I had a bunch of the toys when I was younger, plus watched the cartoon religiously. So yeah, big Ghostbusters fan. And the fact that they're coming out with a video game that's essentially Ghostbusters III (with all the major cast members coming back for voice-overs) has me downright giddy.
  2. Big Lebowski. I'll admit it, I didn't watch anything other than "mainstream" movies for much of my young. Only in college was I revealed to the greatness that is Boondock Saints, Pulp Fiction, Evil Dead, and my personal favorite Big Lebowski. The best thing about the movie is that the first time you watch it, it really doesn't make much sense. The more you watch it the characters come alive and the funnier all the dumb stuff is. In college we started doing "The Big Lebowski Challenge," wherein we would drink a shot of beer every time the word "fuck" is said. I'm pretty sure we've never actually finished the challenge, because it's said 281 times. My dream is to go to Lebowski Fest one of these years. And I pull out a quote from Big Lebowski at least once a week....at least I'm housebroken. =)
  3. Lord of the Rings Trilogy. When I heard they were making these movies I pretty much geeked out. This was the time in my life when i was REALLY into Lord of the Rings, and to see them come to life on the bring screen was my dream. I was eagerly following what would happen on TheOneRing.net, and went opening night for Fellowship of the Ring. It exceeded my expectations, just like the two sequels did. I not ashamed to admit I squirted out a few tears when Boromir died, and when Frodo and Gandalf sail off at the end of Return of the King. I've got the extended edition DVDs (in the fancy cases that look like books) which I really need to watch now that I've got an HD TV. At first I was kind of sad that Peter Jackson wasn't directing The Hobbit, but Guillermo Del Toro is a great choice. I'll be eagerly looking forward to seeing that one.
  4. Shawshank Redemption. Probably one of the best movies ever made (not just in my esteem, 352,357 others agree), this is also probably the movie I've seen the most on this list thanks to constant showings on TNT and TBS the past 8 years. I remember first watching this movie with my parents when I was 10 and loving it then. Imagine how much I didn't understand as a kid (I thought those guys in the boiler room just wanted to beat him up, not rape him, etc). A movie with great humor, fantastic themes of love, redemption, and friendship, plus a fantastic cast (Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman have never been better) makes for one of my favorite movies ever.
  5. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Don't laugh! Hear me out: I'm almost positive this is the first movie I ever saw in the theatres. You'd have a hard time finding a bigger TMNT fan than me in 1990: Every birthday and Christmas was Turtle action figures, I wore a Turtle costume for Halloween, watched the show every Saturday, played in the woods with my neighbor Paul as the Turtles. But watching them on TV and seeing them in the theatre was two different things. These live action Turtles got hurt, swore ("Come back here! I'm not finished with you! DAAAAMN!") argued like brothers, and were generally who I wanted to be when I grew up. I have a hard time watching a lot of movies from the late 80s-early 90s, just because they look cheesy. However, the Turtle costumes still look better than some practical effects done today, and the fight scenes had the right mix of humor and action. Still a favorite of mine 18 years and a whole lot of growing up later.

Honorable mention: The Incredibles, Iron Giant, Monsters, Inc ( I had a really hard time not putting one of these animated movies in the Top 5, just because I think each of these three movies showed you could have a mature story with the "cartoony" nature of animation, much like Batman: The Animated Series), Black Hawk Down, Office Space, Pulp Fiction, and Snatch

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Top 5 Books

With all the fancy technology, movies, video games, and TV shows out there it's amazing that kids still read books. But books do something that nothing else really does: they let you use your imagination. Sure, the author my describe what a character or place looks like, but it's up to you to visualize it and make it come to life. I always tell myself "I don't read enough," but it always seems like it's easier to just turn on the TV then open a book. After I finish up Rise of Theodore Roosevelt I think I'm going to dive back into fictional novels, my bread and butter. Anyways, on to my Top 5 Books, in no particular order.
  1. The Stand by Stephen King. When I was working at the Hedberg Library in Janesville I picked up this massive novel, not sure what to expect. Everyone's heard of how good of a writer that King is, but I'd never read any of his work until The Stand. And holy cow, might as well start with his best work, eh? A sprawling novel that covers nearly all of America and dozens of characters, King's ideas of good & evil and human nature really make you think. A great read for anyone that can handle such a thick tome.
  2. Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. Back in middle school we had a program called Accelerated Reader, where we would read novels and then take quizzes for extra points. One of the books was Two Towers, which I'd never heard of before, but another book by Tolkien, The Hobbit, had been pretty decent. Plus Two Towers was worth a lot of points towards Accelerated Reader. So I started reading it and then realized it was Part 2 of a trilogy....doh! Fellowship of the Ring wasn't on the list, so I just kept reading Two Towers, then Return of the King, and finally Fellowship of the Ring when it was finally added to the list. Needless to say things made a LOT more sense after reading the first one. Since then I've read all three about 6 or 7 times, and watching the movies just made me love them even more. My mom picked up the trilogy from a garage sale when I was in high school that was still sealed in the original plastic wrap. Little did I realize that these were actually printed in the 70s, with leatherbound covers. Probably some of my most treasured possessions.
  3. Scar Tissue by Anthony Kiedis and Larry Sloman. Let me tell you, if you want to read an autobiography and not be bored your best bet is to read one about a rockstar. Kiedis's life is downright ridiculous, from starting drugs at 12 to numerous girlfriends and drug binges he'd been through. Everytime he relapsed after being sober for months made me upset, but Kiedis managed to get up everytime he fell down. A very inspirational/interesting/downright funny account of his absurd life.
  4. Hatchet by Gary Paulsen. Castaway before there was the movie, this is one of my favorite novels from when I was a little guy. Reading Brian's attempts are trying to survive in the Canadian wilderness directly caused me to spend more time outside camping and trouncing in the woods looking for flint and trying to make bow and arrows. And failing miserably. Regardless, nothing fires up the imagination of "what would I do in this situation" like a survival novel, and this one is one of the best.
  5. Life Expectancy by Dean Koontz. More twists that a pice of licorice, great characters, lots of good advice to apply to your life, basically everything you could want in a novel. Some people might write off Koontz as an author who pumps out novel after novel, but having only read this one I can safely say that if all his novels are as good as thing one I'll keep on reading. The Tock family is full of some kooky characters, but when it comes down to it they'd do anything for their family, just the way it should be.

Honorable Mention: Harry Potter series, Jurassic Park, Watchmen

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Top 5 TV Shows

Oh television...Part-time babysitter, newsgiver, entertainment hub, family bringer-together, before the internet came along to steal my heart you were the girl next door I fell for. Good TV can move you just as much as a good movie: Make me think, make me laugh, make me cry, make me smile. My favorite movie shows did all that and more. Here are my Top 5 TV Shows! (in no particular order)
  1. Home Improvement. I grew up with Home Improvement. A dad who was involved with home improvement and tools. A stay-at-home mom. Three boys. It basically was the story of my family (except we didn't have a sage neighbor to impart advise to my dad). I'm pretty sure we (along with a lot of America) watched every single week to see how Tim could hurt himself, Al slowly developing a backbone, Wilson always saving the day with a history lesson, and Heidi being hot. MORE POWER FOR LIFE!!
  2. Family Matters. "Did I do thaaaat??" Why yes, Steve, you did. If by "that," you mean enthralled America and my young impressionable self with the juggernaut known as TGIF on ABC. Watching the reruns a few summers ago really hammered home the fact that it was genuinely a funny, heartfelt show. I declare that Carl Winslow is the greatest tv dad ever. Behind Al Bundy, of course. Little known fact: Harriette Winslow was actually a spin-off character from Perfect Strangers! Weird....
  3. Boy Meets World. Another stalwart of TGIF, the adventures of the Matthews family and Cory's friends remains very watchable to this day. The breakout character of the show, though, is obviously Feeny, the wise and sarcastic teacher/principal/neighbor/friend. I'm not ashamed to admit I cried during the last episode. Yet antoher one of those familes I grew up with, and learned life lessons from.
  4. The Office. Pretty much the ONLY show I watch religiously anymore, The Office has the art of awkward comedy down pat. I remember when I first saw commercials for it, being very excited that Steve Carell was getting his own TV show. Honestly, I'm glad I didn't watch the first season, but it wasn't the best. Seasons 2 and 3, however, are pitch perfect. I'll recommend this show to anyone who'll listen. And I'll admit that the Jim & Pam will-they-or-won't they romance made me feel like a 14 year old girl watching Dawson's Creek. A very realistic, sad, funny romance.
  5. Batman: The Animated Series. My dark horse pick. As mentioned in previous posts, I'm a comic book dork. And I reckon it all started here. A mature cartoon that (along with the original Batman movie) helped bring back the idea of the Dark Knight, rather than the Caped Crusader. Awesome voice acting, great stories, actual continuity in a cartoon (Dick Grayson grows up to be Nightwing, Harvey Dent turns into Two-Face, etc) this show proved that cartoons can be for adults while still allowing kids to understand what's happening. Give it a chance before you skoff, I bet you'll find it offers more than a lot of live action "serious" dramas.

Honorable mentions: Saved by the Bell, Beast Wars: Transformers, Step By Step, Gargoyles

Monday, July 28, 2008

Top 5 Video Games


As a male born in the 1980s it's a given that video games were a big part of my life growing up. The first system we had as a family was the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (or SNES, for all the cool kids). We got it for Christmas in 1991 ( I think, my memory is kinda foggy) and we played that machine to death. Since then I've owned a Gameboy, Playstation, Dreamcast (for a week), Xbox, and Wii, not to mention various PCs used for gaming. Without further adieu, here are my Top 5 Video games!
  1. Super Mario World for SNES. Super Mario World came packed with our SNES, and I'm pretty sure we didn't get another game for the system for another year, because me and my two older brothers were all too busy playing the life out of that game. Mario was brought in the the beautiful world of 16-bit graphics, with Yoshi, Ghost Houses, exiting a level without dying (by pushing Start, then Select), and good old Star World. My first real home experience with video games happened to be with one of the best in the world.
  2. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time for SNES. Probably our 3rd or 4th game for SNES, this side scrolling beat-em-up featured two player co-op play as the Turtles get sent back in time and then to the future, battling Foot Soldiers and other villains along the way. As a HUGE fan of the Turtles when I was a little kid, getting to actually play as them was pure nirvana. I'll honestly say that I've played through and beaten that game, with friends or by myself over 25 times. When we first figured out how to beat Shredder in the Terrordrome (you had to grab the Foot Soldiers and then them into the screen) it was a huge victory for us.
  3. Call of Duty for PC. A big thing for us in the dorms was playing multiplayer games over the Local Area Network that connected all the computers in the building. The big game that nearly everyone played was Call of Duty. Set in World War II, this first person shooter had us enthralled for months, playing Team Deathmatch and Search and Destroy. The added feature of the Kill Cam, which allowed you to see the last 5 seconds of your life from the viewpoint of the guy that killed you really fired you up to avenge your fallen self. Frank Castle (my username for the game) killed many a dirty Ratzi on the fields of Brecourt and the streets of Carentan.
  4. X-Men Legends for Xbox. I'm a big comic book dork, I'll admit it. Jumping into the adventures of people in costumes with superpowers was how I escaped when I was a little kid. Being able to play as almost all of my favorite X-Men? Using all sorts of cool powers that get upgraded as you go along? I played this bugger over and over, trying different combos of characters and different costumes, loving every minute of it. While the sequels X-Men Legends II and Marvel: Ultimate Alliance have been good, nothing compares to your first love.
  5. Portal for Xbox 360. Moving in with Ivan, Eric, and Kate allowed me enjoy the greatness of the Xbox 360 for the first time, and I promptly took advantage of it by playing a game I had heard a lot about, but never got a chance to play. But boy oh boy, for a "simple" game with only two actions (shoot, jump) this game twisted my mind and made me think outside the box like no other. A great story mixed with some twisted humor made this one of my most memorable gaming experiences.

Honorable mention goes to: Counter-Strike, Final Fight, Donkey Kong Country, F-Zero, Tenchu: Stealth Assaassins and Duke Nukem: Time to Kill, Halo 2

Top 5 Week!


Hey folks, and welcome to Top 5 Week here at the blog. Everyday this week I'm going to rundown a category of my absolute all-time favorite Top 5 entertainment things. Today's Top 5, to be posted this afternoon, is.......Top 5 Video Games!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Sad Day

I just saw on CNN.com that Randy Pausch had passed away, at 47 years old. If you haven't heard about Professor Pausch, this is what he's famous for: The Last Lecture, a speech given by professors at Carnegie Mellon college that boiled down all their work into a simple idea, as if it was their last lecture they'd ever give. And in Professor Pausch's case, it very well could have been. He was diagnosed to terminal pancreatic cancer in 2006. His Last Lecture has been seen by more than 3 Million people on YouTube, and I'm not ashamed to admit I got misty eyed at the end. Do me a favor and watch it. It's about 70 minutes long, but I think it'll make an impact on your life. I know it has mine.

Godspeed, Professor.



You cannot change the cards you are dealt. Just how you play the hand.





Rules for My Business

It's always been a dream of mine to own a small-business, mainly so that I could be my own boss. Since most of my friends have been entering their full-time jobs in the past few months it's interesting to hear the corporate culture of wherever they work at. In general it seems the smaller/newer a company is the more relaxed the culture is. And so I've come up with my RULES FOR GRAPEDRANK ENTERPRISES
  1. Monday: Work starts at 12:00 Noon. Friday: Work ends at 12:00 Noon. You will be paid for 40 hours a week, but only working 33 hours a week. Nothing really gets done during these time periods in a typical office anyways. And it's a general fact that the less time you're at the office the happier you are. Unless you come to the office to get away from your kids, then you've got other problems buddy.
  2. Going off of #1, come in for the day, get your work done, and then leave. There's no reason for you to be here if you're not doing work.
  3. If you've got too much work we'll give some to someone else, train them to do part of your job. If you've got too little, we'll give you more responsibility. It's as simple as that. A diverse workforce that knows how to do multiple jobs is better than a highly specialized one that only knows how to do a tiny part.
  4. Dress is Social Casual: Shorts, t-shirts, flip-flops are all allowed. If you have a meeting with a vendor then you are required to dress up, but I'd rather have you comfortable then looking classy. As long as there are no stains or holes, wear what you want.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Nobody Likes a Loser


So I read the Brewer Blog on Jsonline.com everyday, because it's updated 2 or 3 times a day with stories about the Brewers. However, the people who comment on the blog constantly complain about "those fair weather Brewer fans," people that are getting into the Brewers now that they're starting to do really well. The truth of the matter is this: watching a team lose all the time sucks. It's a simple fact of human nature is that no one (except masochists) enjoys losing. If you keep losing at something, you typically stop. Conversely, winning is fun! And watching a local team win is great!

Now, it may be my proximity to Miller Park, but I've found myself going to more Brewer games, and especially watching a ton more games on TV. (BTW, I've always said watching baseball on TV is boring, but I rescind that comment. If you're familiar with the team it makes a world of difference) Now, would I be doing this if the Brewers were sucking? Probably not. The reason people watch sports is to A.) Watch a competition between highly skilled athletes, and B.) Feel like they're part of the team. But you really don't feel like part of the team when the team you're cheering for is getting stomped game after game.

So here's to all the "Fair Weather Fans!" I feel for you folks...hopefully I'll see you at the game on Friday!

Also, this is probably the best idea for a Brewers site ever. PeeYourPantsForTheBrewers.com states that "I have never seen a full Brewers season where they make the playoffs. Born in July 1982, I missed that amazing World Series run. It’s been a long 25 years- the longest playoff drought in baseball. With a young team of quality stars and shrewd management, we’re boldly making our move. I get so excited thinking about the Brewers now, a little pee comes out. In fact, When the Brewers make the playoffs I will pee my pants." So far 7,079 Brewers fan have agreed to pee their pants if the Brewers make the playoffs. Well, count me in and make that 7,080!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Charles, get outta my head!


Like I mentioned here, sometimes I get thinks stuck in my head. Currently I have "Gunga Galunga" flowing through my cranium. I was perusing Facebook the other day when I saw the title of someone's picture album was "Gunga Galunga!" and I was like, man, that's really familiar. Some digging into my mental archives brought back good memories of watching that movie. But now I'm just saying "Gunga Galunga" over and over in my head. Here's the whole speech, since it kicks booty:


So I jump ship in Hong Kong and make my way over to Tibet, and I get on as a looper at a course over in the Himalayas. A looper, you know, a caddy, a looper, a jock. So, I tell them I'm a pro jock, and who do you think they give me? The Dalai Lama, himself. Twelfth son of the Lama. The flowing robes, the grace, bald... striking. So, I'm on the first tee with him. I give him the driver. He hauls off and whacks one - big hitter, the Lama - long, into a ten-thousand foot crevasse, right at the base of this glacier. Do you know what the Lama says? Gunga galunga... gunga, gunga-galunga. So we finish the eighteenth and he's gonna stiff me. And I say, "Hey, Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort, you know." And he says, "Oh, uh, there won't be any money, but when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness." So I got that goin' for me, which is nice.

There's a 40% chance I got "Gunga Galunga" stuck in your head right now, just because I repeated it so many times....mwahahhahahah.
Oh, and Chad: Caddyshack was filmed at Boca Raton Resort & Club - 501 East Camino Real, Boca Raton, Florida.

The Mechanic


For the second time in my life I took my car to a non-Edgar mechanic (Berg Sales in my hometown handled nearly all the maintenance issues for our vehicles while we were growing up, and even in college I tried to time maintenance for when I was home on break). Back in college I was having some REAL trouble turning the wheel of my '99 Alero. I took it in to at dealership nearby, and $249 later they informed me that the power steering hose on it was broke, but they had replaced it. For $249.....a hose. I vowed to never go back there, to find myself a more small-town mechanic to go to with my troubles. So with the big road trip coming up, I figured that I would take my car into Scotty's Firestone, a mechanic in Brookfield that my employer has a deal with for reduced prices and a shuttle to and fro.

Part of me wishes that I was more mechanically inclined, that I'd have the equipment and time to figure out why my left tire ticks, why the cigarette lighters won't allow my phone charger to work. I know how to change oil, rotate tires, all the basic things. But anything more difficult than that is beyond me. Is that because you need to hook a diagnostic computer up to newer cars to figure out what's going on with them? Or is it just that, as humans, we're becoming more and more specialized in what we need to know? I don't need to know how to fix all the stuff on my car, because it hardly ever breaks down and when it does there are professionals for that stuff. Least my bruised man-ego hopes that is what it actually is....

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

TMI


I like movies. I like finding out about upcoming movies, and then talking about them with my friends. I like the countdown of days to the big release of a movie I've been looking forward to for months, if not years (hello Fellowship of the Ring). However, I really need to start staying away from movie websites. Back when I was a young'un I used to visit Aint It Cool News to hear about what neat movies would be coming out, read reviews, see spy pictures of on set stuff, and watch trailers before they were in theatres. But here's the thing: the more you know about a movie, the more it ruins the actual theatre experience. Just too much information about it, watching too many trailers ruins the surprise. Half the trailers out there these days show way, way too much of the movie. And as much as I love seeing all this neat insider stuff about movies, I'm starting to get to the point where I'd rather go into a movie knowing nothing about it. Can you imagine walking into Dark Knight and not knowing that the Joker was being played by Heath Ledger? Without all the hype of his dying performance? I think that'd be a nice change. So here's what I promise myself: If there's a movie coming out that I really want to see I will only watch the trailer for it once. I will try my best to shy away from other previews of it. It will not be easy...but for the sake of my movie enjoyment I must.
After I see it, however, the floodgates will be opened and I'll be reading everything I can about it, like I'm doing with Dark Knight. Such a good movie.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Roadtrip


Well, it's decided: The roadtrip is going to be about 6500 miles: 3500 out to Cannonn Beach, Oregon; 1000 down Hwy 101 on the Pacific Coast through Oregon and California; and then 2000 miles back on Hwy 80 (though we could take Route 66, which would be kinda cool). I'm thinking that if we leave on Wednesday, August 6th from my place we should be out to Oregon by Saturday the 9th. Then we've got about 4 days or so in Oregon and California before heading back. We'd be back in Wisconsin on Sunday, August 17th. Charlie doesn't have anything going on this summer other than working out and getting ready for the Marines in October, so this should work out pretty well for the both of us. Other than drinking a beer in every state (we're gonna try and pick up a beer that's actually brewed in each state, too) we really don't have much for plans. I'd like to see Yosemite, go bungee jumping, maybe learn to surf, but other than that it's all up in the air, which is refreshing and scary at the same time. Considering this is something that I've been planning out for 5 months now it's pretty crazy that it's going to happen in 3 weeks.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Vindow Viper


So our corporate building is having it's windows washed this past week. A 7 story, all black glass building, it sure does look nice when it's all clean on the outside. However, it makes me wonder: How exactly does one get the job of window washer? What qualifications are required? What the heck does your resume look like?? "Former mountain climber, good with a squeegee, fan of smudge-free shoes." Window washer is definitely one of those "Dirty Jobs" that Mike Rowe should do, if he hasn't already. A job that you don't think about that much, but one that's "necessary" of modern society. Can't have dirty skyscrapers, can we?
And how much does it cost to wash a building as big as this one? So many questions!

Sometimes I...

~Sometimes I...forget how to walk down stairs, mid step. I have to stop myself, get back into motion, then continue.
~Sometimes I...will get something stuck in my head for days at a time. A phrase, slogan, piece of a song. They bounce around in the noggin until something else pushes them out.
~Sometimes I...wonder how much different my life would be if I had went to Green Bay or Eau Claire instead of Whitewater. Chances are, not for the better.
~Sometimes I...want to wake up early on a Saturday morning and watch cartoons in my PJs again. But then I realize that most of the Saturday morning cartoons are crummy anime.
~Sometimes I...think about dropping everything and moving to California to try my luck in movies. Not as a actor, but as a grip or assistant or something. But aside from not having the tenacity and heartless to live in that soulless world, I could never leave my family behind like that.
~Sometimes I...go for a drive, just so that I know the area better. Milwaukee is a big place for a small town boy.
~Sometimes I...doubt humanities worth, but then I see a little kid full of wonder and enjoyment at the simplest things and realize that love of life is still inside all of us. If we'd all bring it out once in a while the world would be better off.
~Sometimes I...am really happy it's Friday. Ah heck, who am I kidding. I'm always happy when it's Friday =)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Junk Drawer



Everyone has one. That drawer in your kitchen or in your dresser that's just full of junk. All the miscellaneous pieces, parts, and knickknacks that don't have anywhere else to go, or that you're lazy to find a place for. When I was a little kid it was the bottom drawer of my dresser. There were times when it was so filled with stuff that it would barely close.

As a little memory exercise I'm going to try and remember all the stuff in my current junk drawer, which is located at the top of my dresser (movin' on up!)
Box of pencils, lighter, condoms, super glue, unopened dvd of Big Lebowski (break seal in case of emergencies), swimming goggles, spare AV cable, index cards, bottle opener, bike chain oil, deck of cards, fingernail clippers, AA batteries, two dumbbell bars, small notepad, Santa Christmas tin, old postcards from my grandparents...

...I'll think of more throughout the day, stay tuned.
EDIT #1: The copy of Big Lebowski is a spare, I've got the normal one on my shelf. What do you think I am, some sorta barbarian?!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Things move a little slower on Nokomis.

I headed home this past weekend to see the family a bit, and Saturday after visiting with my nieces for a while I headed up to Lake Nokomis, near Tomahawk WI. Me and my family have been camping up there since I was about 10 years old. We stay at Campers Haven, a rustic campground with a beach and and island about 50 yards out. When we were younger my buddies Brad and Jesse and I used to camp out on the peninsula that juts out into the lake. We'd put up our tents just feet from the water, and cookout and drink all night long, listening to weird rap acts from the 90s that Jesse had found. Jesse's grandparents own the campground, and originally he was going to be a Teacher during the year, and he'd have 3 months during the summer to run the campground when they had handed it down to him. However with Jesse changing career paths and his grandfather passing away this year I'm left wondering what will happen to the campground.



Anyways, I was up there this weekend for the first time this year, and it just reminded me that things move a lot slower up there. Nothing has changed, at all from last year. Drivers go the speed limit, everything is cooked on the grill (except the fresh picked strawberries), beers are passed around graciously, "fuck" is peppered generously into every story, country music quietly twangs in the background of a roaring fire. I may be a "big city boy" now according to everyone up there, but there are few things I enjoy more than being up there. Maybe I should look into buying that campground....hmmm..

Rock On!

The full set list for Rock Band II was announced on Kotaku.com, and holy moly are there a lot of great songs. My favorites are:

4. Alice in Chains "Man in the Box" 1990's (big fan of Alice in Chains ever since the 90s, they're one of the "Big 5" rock bands of the 90s)

5. Allman Brothers "Ramblin' Man" 1970's (Allman Brothers kick ass, always have, always will)

7. Bad Company "Shooting Star" 1970's (really excited to sing the vocals on this one)

11. Billy Idol "White Wedding Pt. I" 1980's (every day is a nice day for a white wedding)

18. Disturbed "Down with the Sickness" 2000's (OOH-AH-AH-AH-AH!!!!)

23. Foo Fighters "Everlong" 1990's (My #1 favorite song ever, I was pissed when I found out Guitar Hero: World Tour would have it, because I figured it would be exclusive to that game. Luckily Dave Grohl answered my prayers. I'd get the game just for this song.)

36. Lit "My Own Worst Enemy" 1990's (Just straight up 90's rock/pop goodness)

42. Modest Mouse "Float On" 2000's (a more mellow song, but it'll be fun)

45. Norman Greenbaum "Spirit in the Sky" 1960's (such a great, classic song! I can't believe they got the master for this)

59. Soundgarden "Spoonman" 1990's (best drum rhythm ever)

And that's only up to 59! I'll be spending far too much time playing that game when it comes out.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Tastes like burning!


So I got sun burnt again yesterday when I was tailgating at the Brewer game. I don't know what it is these last couple years, but I'm finding it takes more and more for me to get tan and I burn a lot easier than I ever did when I was kid. So the question is: Does the skins ability to absorb sun decrease with age? Did I just wear more clothes when I was younger? Or did my mom make sure to always slather me up with sunscreen when I was a wee lad? Only intense interrogation of my mother will tell.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Fit as a Fiddle


Over the past 5 years I've been trying to stay in shape using various means. I didn't have any problem with it in high school, because I was always in gym class and sports, but the lazy life of a dorm-dwelling college student doesn't exactly lead one to eat healthy and workout. I'd workout here and there, never taking it very serious, and thus not seeing any gains. Unlike nearly everyone else I knew I was trying to put on weight, not lose it. But I also refused to take protein supplements (mostly because I couldn't afford it). And aside from playing the random softball or ultimate Frisbee game I really didn't get much cardio exercise. Moving furniture for 2 summers definitely helped build muscle mass, but I laxed back into nothing when the school year was on.

However, last summer I had a free workout pass to the UW-Milwaukee workout center which I got in the habit of lifting 3 times a week, plus swimming laps at their pool. Oh yeah, then playing sand volleyball a few times a week. Being in probably the best shape of my life when August rolled around I got a workout pass for the fall at Whitewater, but that quickly languished into laziness yet again. However, ever since moving to New Berlin I've had a lot of free time to workout and read up on fitness and nutrition. I've been lifting about 2-3 times a week, and I've been swimming off and on at our pool. Ivan stumbled upon some cheap bycycles for sale that we might get, which would be excellent because I loathe running. Also he found a website that helps track daily calories in addition to other information. My goal is to be 200 lbs by September (I'm about 192 lbs right now), which mean I'm going to have to amp up the amount of protein I eat, increase my workouts a bit. Hopefully that website and swimsuit season give me a enough motivation to keep at it.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Stone Temple Pilots


On a whim I bought tickets for Stone Temple Pilots on the 4th of July, and man alive that was a good show. Julie Lawrence from Onmilwaukee.com does a much better job than I could talking about the concert here. They played all their big songs
(my fave being "Trippin on a Hole in a Paper Heart), did a short cover of Queen, and brought up two sailors on stage for the encore songs to chants of "USA! USA!" My legs still hurt from jumping around so much.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Things I Love #2: Girls in Bands



I just realized this when I was watching Skillet last night at Summerfest: Girls in rock bands just rock my world. Korey Cooper, the keyboardist, guitarist, and backup vocalist for Skillet was just jumping around, head banging like crazy, jumping up on amps and generally being cool as hell. Jen Ledger, drummer for the band, was beating those skins like they owed her money, hair flying the whole time. I was enraptured by just watching both of them (the flashing lights and violinist busting strings only added to the coolness of it).
I think my love of girls in bands goes back to when we used to go to Bad Brad's on Thursday night for "The Jam." One of the local bands, The Blue Olives, would allow pretty much anyone to come up and play with them, doing mostly classic rock songs. Their saxophonist was a girl, Joan, who was cute in a nerdy-band-girl way, but when she'd play that sax or sing "Bobby McGee," man, my heart would just melt. Something about about a girl shredding it up, belting out one of my favorite songs, or laying down a stellar baseline just makes me smile.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Summerfest Concerts


Summerfest is back once again, and I was fortunate enough to go on the first night to see Three Dog Night on the M & I Classic Rock Stage. The problem with watching a band that had it's heyday in the '60s and '70s is that, well, they're old. People's voices change over time, fingers slow down, etc. However, Three Dog Night night sounded great. They played all of their big hits like "One," "Mama Told Me (Not to Come)," and "Joy to the World," but they also played some of their lesser known songs like "Shambala" and "Never Been to Spain," a personal favorite of mine. All in all it was a fun show, with an energetic middle-aged crowd.

Sunday night we managed to watch three different bands, from all over the spectrum (and which I hadn't heard any of them going into it). First up was Parlor Mob, a band from New Jersey that Michelle had heard about. Playing to a small crowd at the Zippo stage, they still were fun to watch, playing music that sounded like Wolfmother and Jet, which isn't a bad thing. Next up was the Sweet Tarts @ Jo Jo's Martini Lounge Stage. A cover band from the area that plays mainly pop and country songs, the Sweet Tarts were a lot of fun to watch, and could cover pretty much any song with their dual lead singers. Finally we caught The Polyphonic Spree, an elaborate 23 person band/choir. I can honestly say I've never seen anything like it before. Everyone was standing on their seats, hands in the air just soaking up the cheery music. The band then made their way through the crowd after a robe change, where every was giving them high fives and pats on the back. It was a bit too loud, left my ears ringing all day on Monday, but definitely worth it.