"I need some fucking friends." -- Peter Klaven (I Love You, Man)
Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Too early to tell.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Martin Prince: As your president, I would demand a science-fiction library, featuring an ABC of the genre. Asimov, Bester, Clarke.
Student: What about Ray Bradbury?
Martin Prince: I'm aware of his work.

The Simpsons, Lisa's Substitute


Wednesday, October 15, 2014
When you read my review about Annabelle, there is only one thing you want to know: Is it scary?

Considering that I am writing this review in the dark of a stormy evening, and that I have to try to remember what scares the movie had, I think that isn't wasn't. There were some. You would've seen them in the trailers, but over all not scary.

Annabelle, the movie, is the prequel to the early part of The Conjuring. It tells how that dang doll became evil.

When we first get a glimpse of the doll, you will laugh. It was a present. When the box opened, you will laugh. It is the most ridiculous doll you ever saw. How can someone want that? Yet, it was accepted with gladness.

Annabelle, the doll, only becomes evil due to evil circumstances having to do with Southern California death cults. It's the Manson Family, but worshipping the devil.

The best scares were in the basement. The elevator scene had me cringing every time the door opened. Running up the stairs was frightening. The floating doll scary. And the way it looked evil from moment to moment made me scared.

Yet. When all's said and done, that's all the movie had. The denouement was lame. I knew it had to end that way.

3 of 5 stars.

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Monday, October 13, 2014

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Sunday, October 05, 2014
Orioles sweep. Going to the ALCS.

Baseball is good.

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Watching a day game is a perfect way to spend a day while skipping work. Watching the Orioles get an early lead is also a perfect way to spend a day skipping work. Watching that lead evaporate in 10 pitches not so much. Slipping slowly into despair? Not a great substitution for work. Sudden joy and elation? Beats work anytime!

For game 2 of the ALDS between the Baltimore Orioles and Detroit Tigers, I took my nephew. It's his first postseason game -- my second! I dragged him out of school around 10 AM to catch this game at noon. Orioles don't do day games very well, but they're gonna need to in order to make it through the next round. They'll be getting nothing but day games until the ALCS, so its sink or swim in the daylight.

The atmosphere in the morning is different than the night before. It was like everyone was still hung over and the coffee hasn't kicked in yet. Uggh. We all feel like we need a pick-me-up. Hopefully, the Orioles don't and won't.

On mound is Wei-Yin Chen, the only lefty started Buck Showalter will throw against Detroit. This is a team that mashes lefties. Chen cruised the first time through their lineup. He was staked to a 2 run lead by a Nick Markakis homerun, which barely cleared the fence. The second time through the Detroit lineup, Chen only threw 10 pitches and put the Orioles in the hole 5-2. He gave up doubles, a three run homerun, and a solo shot. It was a blitz, and he was yanked for the young Kevin Gausmann.

All through that brutal half inning, there was a Detroit fan sitting a few rows back cheering. He clapped for the double. He clapped for the three run homerun. He cheered for the solo shot. He was starting to become annoying.

This year was a good for me in attending Orioles games. The first game of the package, the third game of the season, the Orioles lost, but if you told me that they would sweep the World Series champion Boston Red Sox, I would've told you they wouldn't. And they didn't. Yet, since then, I have gone to nothing but wins. The closest loss was a 2-1 win versus Toronto in which the Orioles won in extra innings despite Tommy going boom and blowing a save.

While the Tigers beat out 5 runs, I felt my personal winning streak slip away. I fell into despair. The three beers didn't help. As the game continued, the Orioles would get men on base and fail to produce runs. The Detroit fan would cheer the failure, and I would slide deeper into my despair. My nephew would encourage me with signs for getting to the Detroit bullpen, but I don't think that would happen. Even when they took out their Cy Young winner in the fifth Detroit still threw a good pitcher for a couple of innings shutting out the Orioles.

Finally, at the depths of my despair, the eighth inning rolled around and the Orioles got to their bullpen. Adam Jones who isn't doing well was hit by a pitch causing their bullpen to be called in to get the final 5 outs of the game.

Jones moved to third on a Nelson Cruz single then scored on a Steve Pearce single.

JJ Hardy walked to load the bases.

While all this transpired, the crowd was sensing something special. They got loud. I was busy yelling into my neighbors ear, that Buck should put Delmon Young in for the ineffective Caleb Joseph. Buck is smarter than me. He brought him to pinch hit for the ineffective Ryan Flaherty.

I am a Flaherty fan, and I approved.

In comes Young. First pitch swinging. Bases clearing double. Orioles take the lead. The crowd goes wild.

It was amazing. From the pits of despair to elation! Yet, I could not comprehend what I saw. It was the most amazing thing to have witnessed. I was in a daze. It would take me another day to crawl out of the pit of despair, but the Orioles had taken the lead.

The eventually closed out the game for a win. Camden Yards was really, really loud.

We await the final game of the series.

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I took a half day on Thursday and then a full Friday off in order to catch the Orioles in the postseason. After 5 years of being a season ticket holder, these are my first postseason games from that investment. In reality, these are my first postseason games ever.

I didn't make it to the '70 postseason. My Lolo did, and he found it cold. I didn't make it to '83. My brother went and found fun heckling the White Sox. I didn't care too much about baseball in '96 or '97. Then the Orioles went through 14 years of misery. I am not going to miss out on this.

Me and my older brother file into Camden Yards about 4 PM, 90 minutes before game time. The stadium has a rather subdued atmosphere. This isn't like the feeling of Opening Day where everyone is absolutely excited for baseball. Postseason play leaves the spectators anxious and hungry for a win. They end up mute waiting for the fun to begin.

Yet, everyone is still excited. What will we get? A great game or bitter disappointment?

The ceremonial first pitch was done by Manny and Weiters, two key Orioles who are missing time because of injuries. Then, Chris Tillman, the ace of the staff, started the game right striking out the side in the first. The fireworks started when the Oriole came up to bat. Nelson Cruz hits a two run homer to stake the home team to 2-0 lead. It didn't last a half inning, because Detroit came back with back-to-back homers to tie the game. After that, the pitching took over.

Tillman pitches well but inefficient for the next couple innings. In particular, Detroit's Iam Kinsler sees 30 pitches in several at bats fouling off many of them. Tillman was done after 5 innings of work and 105 pitches. His Detroit counterpart, reigning Cy Young winner, Max Scherzer, kept the Orioles bats quiet after the early inning trouble. They didn't get to him until the 8th.

My brother was worried all throughout the game. After a JJ Hardy homer gave the O's the lead, it was nail biting time. Literally. I was biting my nails hoping we shut down this potent Detroit offense. I had faith, because this was the type of Orioles game that they seemed to play. A homerun, strong starting pitching, and then the bullpen to get the job done. The Orioles will have to play that game.

Then deAza hits a one out double in the eighth to knock Scherzer out of the game. Detroit's bullpen is notorious and this half inning proves it. The Orioles batted around scoring 8 runs to put the game away.

The calm, subdued atmosphere was gone. It was loud and electric. I hate that Seven Nation Army chant, but it was still fun to do as the runs kept coming. Then a new chant picked up: "We Won't Stop! We Won't Stop! We Won't Stop!" This is the slogan for the Orioles postseason and it is apropos. Orioles won't stop scoring. Orioles won't stop beating your stinky pitching. Orioles won't stop until the game is over. It was a 4-3 game at the start of the inning. It became 12-3 bludgeoning.

High fives all around as this happened. The guy and his son next to you who you told that Jones Cruz would hit a first pitch homer -- high five! Your brother -- high five! People as you leave -- high five! People as they are leaving -- high five! I witnessed some drunk dude high five my brother then give the bro-hug. Baseball was good that night.

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Saturday, October 04, 2014
Boy do I love animation. I am crazy for anime. I am a big fan of Pixar. CG style? I can take it. Hand drawn? Love it! Now for a little love for stop-motion style of Laika. Every couple of years the studio releases one of their hand made gems. Coraline was a revelation. Para-Norman was spooktacular and featured some of favorite animated images of the past few years.The Boxtrolls is fun animated movie to love, too.

The Boxtrolls starts with a kidnapping. The boy becomes a box troll, a race of creatures living in the sewers who recycle things into inventions. They also sound like Gizmo from Gremlins. The movie unravels the tale of why the boy was kidnapped, why the town hates the box trolls, and why cheese is a necessity.

I really dig Laika as an animation studio. Para-Norman was phenomenal and made me wonder how they did it. The Boxtrolls continues on with fine craftsmanship. The story is a little bit trite, but it works. I wish we would get more diverse animated fare in the future.

3 of 5 stars.

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Wednesday, October 01, 2014

I don't know what this was, but I thought it was one of the more hilarious Simpsons couch gags in a long while.


Sunday, September 28, 2014
All that flying out to Wisconsin this summer and back made me hungry for cheese. Pick up a block of it now and then. Truck it home. Make grilled cheese. It's all tasty but sometimes you need something more. Something like cheddar cheese popcorn. Not the white cheddar you find around here, but the bright orange stuff. The stuff of your childhood. The good stuff.

It's easy to get if you fly out through Chicago's O'hare. There are a few kiosks that sell the stuff. I picked up a few bags. This one time, as I transferred through O'hare, I decided to pick up a bag. I only found Garrett's, but I knew there was a Nuts On Clark there, so I searched around for it. It was around the corner. These two brands joined the other bag of popcorn I had brought back from Wisconsin. Right then and there I decided on a taste test.

First up is Seguin's cheddar cheese popcorn. This one was at a disadvantage as the bag had been opened for a couple of days, so it wasn't as fresh as the following two. This one also wasn't popped fresh that day. It was probably packaged a few weeks before I bought it. Of the three, it had the sharpest cheddar taste. It also had the most normal looking of popcorn with a brilliant orange color.

Garrett's cheddar cheese popcorn is a great contender. The popcorn are fluffy and more rounded. The cheese taste is smooth. It's color is a a mellower yellow-tinged orange.

Nuts on Clark's cheddar cheese popcorn is the best of the three. I recommend getting this on your trips through Chicago. It has the same mellow cheese taste as Garrett's, but the popped kernels are slightly bigger and fluffier. I saw that they use Monster Mushroom Popcorn to achieve that awesome size and shape. I'm not sure if Garrett's uses the same, but theirs is a smaller size.

You can't go wrong with any of these. If you can get Seguin's, then get it. If you want Garrett's then want it. I recommend Nuts On Clark's cheddar popcorn.

You should also try the Chicago mix -- cheddar and caramel corn. It's just as good.

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