Archive for October, 2013

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For some reason, when people pass a car accident, they feel the need to look and see the damage.  The same psychological trigger that causes this phenomenon must be the logic behind the ratings of the MTV show Teen Mom.  If you are lucky enough to have never seen Teen Mom, or it’s evil twin sister show, 16 & Pregnant, the show is about the lives of multiple families that have to deal with the hardships that come with teenage pregnancy.  While the show could hypothetically be informative and thought provoking, it is usually just a conglomerate of sad anger between incompatible couples and parents.

While I do think that there is a time and place to discuss these issues, this show is not it.  Most of the show is just arguing between scorned lovers and arguing between children and their parents.  The constant negative energy and banter between all the parties is just plain depressing.  While their situation is extremely tough, the way the kids speak to their parents and vice versa is appalling.  Other than a few glimpses of cute babies, the show is a cauldron of sadness that shouldn’t be watched by anyone who enjoys happiness.  There is a whole other discussion about the exploitation of these kids and what giving them celebrity status does to society, but we can save that for another time.  Sorry for venting, but every time my wife watches in on DVR, I have to immediately leave the room or put on headphones.  I am currently writing this blog post upstairs, while still being able to hear the yelling and bleeping on the TV downstairs.  This is why I think that Teen Mom is the worst thing in the history of everything.

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This year marked the fourth year of our Amazing Baseball Weekend trip.  Between 4 and 6 guys load up a minivan and travel to multiple stadiums and local watering holes.  To pass the time, we create a 64 person deathmatch tournament.  The rules are simple.  Anyone can compete.  This includes real people, fictional characters, video game characters, friends we know, etc.  Each participant is allowed one weapon if it is part of his/her persona.  We go around the car and vote who would win in a fight to the death.  Once the votes are tallied, that competitor moves on.  If there is a tie, we call a friend to break said tie.  We then decide how much damage that character absorbed throughout the fight, which carries over to future rounds.  The character also can assume some of the “powers” or weapons of their previous opponent.  So if Chun Li beat Pedro Cerrano in a fight, she then acquires his bat.  Anyway, without further ado here is the Death Match from ABW IV.  I am sure it is a little confusing, but it is a lot of fun and helps make the time go by quickly.  I recommend doing similar tournaments when you are on long drives with groups (death matches, best movie, best looking person, etc.).

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I love movie trailers.  When I go to the movies, I try to get there 5-10 minutes earlier just to enjoy the full cinematic experience of watching the trailers in the movie theater.  I have the Trailers app on my iPhone and will plan seeing a movie once I see a good trailer.  

This was decidedly NOT the case with Captain Phillips.  I am a huge Tom Hanks fan and enjoy a good movie with some action in it.  However, the trailer for Captain Phillips was definitely lacking.  It seemed more like a drawn out hostage negotiation type of movie with really creepy-looking villains than a movie that could keep your full attention for 2 hours and 15 minutes.  I had a few conversations about the movies with family and friends and everyone had the same mindset.  “I love Tom Hanks, but that movie just does not appeal to me”.  

I did become slightly intrigued in the movie once I heard that “Captain Phillips” had received a 94% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.  My interest level spiked however when my parents offered to treat my wife and I to the movies and dinner.  Just like the saying that food tastes better when it’s free, a movie is better when it’s paid for by someone else.  So I will fully admit that I would not have seen this movie if my lovely parental units did not pay for my ticket.  I am very happy that they did.

Captain Phillips is based on a true story of a hijacking off the coast of Somalia.  I did not follow the story closely when it happened in 2009, but I do remember hearing about some of it on the news (likely on in the background as I mindlessly wandered the internet).  Without giving away any spoilers, I will say that the movie had a decent flow to it and made you care about the characters, despite only knowing them for a short time.  There is a good amount of action and it does a good job opening your eyes to the Somali piracy world.  The movie was much more gripping than the trailer would have you believe and Tom Hanks puts on an acting clinic yet again.  I was just blown away by Hanks’ last scene in the movie.  Even though movies are ridiculously expensive and losing their luster to other entertainment options, I sincerely recommend seeing “Captain Phillips” if you are looking for something to do on a slow fall night.

Rating: 7.75/10

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As I mentioned in my coffee blog today, I have recently become a coffee drinker.  This was mostly thanks to having coffee with flavored creamer, as every time I had it with milk and sugar, it just wasn’t all that appetizing.  In most grocery stores, there is your basic creamer flavors: French Vanilla and Hazelnut.  Sometimes you will come across a flavor that is seasonal (pumpkin spice) or promotional (Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookie).  In Keyfood last week, I happened to stumble upon the Heath Bar International Delight creamer.  I believe that Heath Bar is one of the most underrated gems in the candy world.  It is great to eat on its own and is even better in a complementary role in sundaes or baked goods.  The only real negative is that it can get stuck in your teeth.  So when I found it as a creamer flavor, I was obviously very excited to try it out.

Now most creamers are not very true to their original taste.  I understand that, since it is also mixing with coffee.  But the Heath Bar creamer tastes nothing like the original at all.  I think if you try to convince yourself that there is a hint of Heath Bar, you can probably taste it.  But that was not the case with the bottle I had.  After three uses, I finally threw out the rest of the creamer.  The Heath Bar creamer went from something I was excited about to something that made my coffee undrinkable.  A very disappointing purchase and one you should avoid.

Rating: 2/10

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For the first 30.5 years of my life, I actively avoided coffee.  The main reasons were:

  1.  I didn’t think that I needed the extra boost of energy
  2. I didn’t want to drink something that people said was very addictive
  3. No matter how much milk and sugar I added, it never tasted good

Whether it was mental, my hellish commute, or just getting old, Reason 1 went out the window.  I would be exhausted all morning long and tried to figure out what I could do to get a boost.  I do not like energy drinks enough to have them in the morning and I am not a fan of tea.  Reason 2 was no longer an issue once I decided I’d rather be an addict but awake instead of free and tired.  Reason 3 was the only thing stopping me from giving coffee one last real shot.

One day my wife (also a former coffee holdout) decided to make me a cup with some creamer her parents had left at our house the day before.  From the first sip, I loved it all.  The warmth of the liquid, the sweet after taste, and of course the caffeine.  The glorious, glorious caffeine.  I now understand why people always need their coffee in the morning in order to function or crack a smile.  The feeling of a good coffee high is about equal to having star power in Mario Bros.  You work faster than usual, can accomplish tasks that you seemingly couldn’t do earlier, and you feel like you are a God that can do almost anything.  If I had known this was the feeling coffee could give me, I would have found a way to make it taste better years ago.  Now I can semi function with some milk or sugar, but it still needs to be a somewhat light and sweet for me.  Creamer is still my favorite though, especially with the wide array of flavors out there.  I stick with french vanilla for the most part, but occasionally will dabble into the exotic section.  I now love a good cup of coffe, but  also realize that I am addicted to this black gold.  At least I will be an addict who is awake.

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Anyone who knows me knows that I am a pretty reasonable, level-headed guy who can usually see both sides of an argument.  I like to think I see the same way when it comes to political issues, even though I am usually further than arms length from many issues that arise.  For example, my wife and I currently just had to go to CNN.com to read up on what the government shutdown is all about.  So while I can usually see both sides of a political argument, it doesn’t mean that I necessarily agree with either side.  Here are my thoughts on the shutdown.  I hate politics in all aspect of life.  I realize that they are an evil due to the way this world works, but I hate them.  I have avoided doing things in life that would involve getting involved in a political game just because I do not want to play these games.  One of my least favorite parts of my corporate jobs have been the political butt kissing that goes on both during and after office hours.  I guess that’s why I love Ned Stark so much.  His stance always has been to be say what you mean and believe and don’t backbite.  But again, this unfortunately is not the way the world works.  The quickest way to get ahead in many aspects of life is to throw on your knee pads and go to town on the highest superior you can find.  That will never be me for better or worse.  Given the way I live, I think I will be fine with that decision, but I understand those who would rather live on their knees than die on their feet.  To each their own.  Anyway, on to actual politicians.

I do believe that there are politicians in this world who truly have people’s best interests at heart and believe they are doing things for the truly right reasons.  But I also think the people with the least amount of corruption are those with the least amount of power.  To move up in the political game requires making tough decisions and alliances that can go against everything you believe in, or so far towards something you believe in that you lose a part of your soul.  I do not think that any professional politician truly has the good of the public in their hearts 100% with every decision.  It is nice to think that they do, but all of their decisions end up being for personal benefit and their own selfish interests, whether it is direct or indirect.  In some ways, you cannot blame these people because it is “All in the game”.  But when I say things like “all politicians are crooked and I will never trust any of them”, that is the basis of my statement.  Whether or not the reasons for the shutdown are valid, at least part of all of this is posturing by both sides.  This affects many, many lives and the burden will only continue to grow.  While the root of the shutdown may be legitimate, I am sure there is a myriad of personal, selfish reasons why it is continuing.  I think it is an absolute joke and EVERY SINGLE person involved in it from every side should be ashamed of themselves.  They are all crooks in my book and will remain that way until they all prove me wrong.  I will not be holding my breath for that though.

I sincerely hope and believe this will be the only time I discuss politics on this blog.  I like the much, much simpler things in life like sharing my thoughts on sports, food, electronics, and different media.  The quickest way to get unfollowed by me is to talk about politics on your social media soap box.  So I hope you could at least see my point of view and know why I will do everything in my power to avoid any poltics talk on this blog for as long as I write it.  Thanks for reading!

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Hybrid candies seem to be the new thing in the sugar game these days.  Products such as Starburst Jelly Beans, Chewy Jolly Ranchers, and Nestle Crunch Girl Scout Cookie flavors are examples of good, successful mixes.  The latest of these candies that I have found is Starburst flavored candy corn.

Just like the aforementioned Staburst Jelly Beans, these candy corn have the signature classic Starburst flavors (lemon, orange, strawberry, and cherry), with the jelly bean-specific green apple thankfully missing from the collection.  All four flavors are very true to the original Starburst flavor, which is great.  Some people do not enjoy the consistency of candy corn, while some people love it.  Count me in as someone who likes candy corn, so this was a nice discovery for me.  One thing that is good about the Starburst Candy Corn is that they do not lend themselves to be binged as much as the jelly beans or fruit chews, which is good news for a binging fiend like myself.  The flavor is pretty strong and true, but something you are not wishing there were more of once they are done.  When you pick up one piece, it is not easy to immediately see which flavor you are holding, because only the bottom third of the corn is colored with the flavor (red=cherry, yellow= lemon, etc.).  I think/hope we will see more flavored candy corns in the coming years, and I also hope there are more Starburst flavored snacks in the near future.

Rating: 8/10