Thursday, 25 February 2010

Scrabbling for Life

I'm a Word Nerd, and have been for a while. It took me a few years to catch on to the proper usage of there, their, and they're, as well as the difference between 'to' and 'too,' but now I think spelling and grammar are the bee's knees!

Oftentimes I'll be chatting with my friends and they make me stop and repeat what I said with a thorough explanation on my choice of vernacular. Apparently I'm prone to using obscure words only fantasy novelists scribe.

As a Word Nerd, it only makes sense that I'm also a big Scrabble nut. I've played more Scrabble in the past two weeks than in than I have in a year, and that's because my boss happens to also be a Scrabble maniac. We have a vicious rivalry so strong that people in the office have even started to take sides in.

It started out with me winning about three games in a row last year during summer barbecues and camping trips, but she got a second board for Christmas, and now we play at least once or twice a week.

The biggest runaway victory so far was claimed by me when I won by 103 points or so, and the highest scoring word being worth 69 points to my credit.

This came just after she smote me with a 99 point victory, and the highest scoring word racked up 65 points to her score card.

Our closest match was a tie game in which my extra points added to her score, and almost cost me the win. As it turns out, a letter V is nearly impossible to place anywhere on short notice, good letter to have otherwise though.

By the way, there are 20 letter Vs in this blog entry.

This Tuesday was our most recent bout, and it was a real slug-fest. We were neck and neck until the end, she had too many consonants the entire game, I had too many vowels. At one point I literally had the Letters AAIIOOO, which unfortunately not a word, and only worth seven points anyway (plus 50 for using all seven). In the end she won by 27 points. I tried my best, but sometimes, just like a card game, the letters just aren't in the bag for you.

Today we've scheduled another match, and this one should be good. We've gone back and forth for a while, and I can't let her win two in a row, otherwise she might gain some serious momentum and Word Nerd status card might have to be revoked.

And FYI, I'll throw down on Scrabble with anyone, anywhere, anytime. Maybe I should start the Extreme Scrabble League, anyone want to join?

Pearl Jam - Do The Evolution

Monday, 22 February 2010

Hillbilly Theatre Feature

For a lack of anything better to give you for a Monday blog, I present another round of Hillbilly Theatre, as produced by Sasha Spencer. These ones are a little tougher, let's see who the biggest movie geek is.

The first person to name both movies correctly is awarded one million Internet points!

Thursday, 18 February 2010

The Case of Missing Eyebrow

A mystery is afoot, and I have a feeling some supernatural powers are involved.
It involves a night of heavy partying, and some fake eyebrows. Allow me to set the scene, and bear in mind that absolutely everything I state here is %100 true.

Two weeks ago I received a package at the office mailed to me by my brother and his wife. It was a late Christmas present, and amongst the various items that were in the package, came some fake facial hair. Everyone had a good chuckle as I paraded about the station wearing a fine moustache and soul-patch.

That very evening there happened to be a party I was invited to. We all agreed I'd be the life of the party if I were to wear some of my fake hair. A chance to put the spotlight on myself? Great! I heartily agreed, and tucked the phony eyebrows away in my wallet for later.

This is where the story gets a little hazy as I had worked my way through (I'm told) at least two thirds of a 26oz bottle of Wiser's Canadian Rye, my hard liquor of choice that night as it were. At one point, I slapped on my eyebrows and it was time for photos!

This is the last time I saw my eyebrows together.

One wanted to fall off, but we quickly rectified the situation with some tape. After we'd had our a giggles over my bushy brows, it was time to go home. A friend offered to me home, so I agreed and left the party. I immediately face-planted on the stairs when I went inside, and set about trying to make egg-salad sammiches, but quit after cracking half a dozen eggs and went to bed.

Flash forward to six days later, and I arrive at my office and find one of my wayward eyebrows lying on my desk. I hadn't given them any thought since the weekend, and assumed that I'd given them the toss the night of the party. I picked it up, put it on the caricature of myself I have on the wall, and thought nothing else of it. I assumed that one of my two coworkers who were at the big shaker had found it and brought it home to me.

But (this is where things get weird) neither of them professed to knowing anything about it. One girl, whose sister hosted the party, said that she'd found one of my eyebrows at her house. Yesterday I was informed that that particular eyebrow is still there, so that accounts for the other brow.

The other lass whose boyfriend was the one that drove me home said she didn't bring the eyebrow in either, and neither of them were in her boyfriend's truck.

Who could have brought my eyebrow back? My office building has a security code, so nobody can get in who doesn't know the password. Someone suggested that perhaps the eyebrow had been stuck to my jacket and fell off the night before. But the adhesive on the back was barely sticky, and the odds that it would have been stuck to my jacket for 6 days before falling off are pretty darn slim.

I for one like to imagine that the eyebrow is actually alive, and over six days after having been abandoned outside, it inched its way home like a caterpillar. How it got in the building is beyond me, but hey, its a magic eyebrow. Who knows what it can do?

Flobots - Handlebars

Monday, 15 February 2010

Review: Crazy Heart

Yesterday I got to see a movie I've been anticipating for some time now:

Crazy Heart
starring Jeff Bridges and Maggie Gyllenhaal

Crazy Heart is the story of Bad Blake, an old burnt-out country star whose career is on the ropes. He's barely making enough money to live on, he drives a faltering 78' Suburban, he drinks too much, he smokes too much, and his former protege, Tommy Sweet, has a career that's to soaring Garth Brooks-esque heights. Life sucks for Bad Blake, and it's not getting any better.

That is, until his manager books a gig opening for Tommy Sweet, something he's reluctant to do, and he gets romantically involved with a budding reporter.

As other reviews have stated, this movie doesn't blaze a trail through any new territory. The characters, the plot, it's all been done before. If you saw last year's 'The Wrestler' starring Mickey Rourke, you've seen Crazy Heart.

But that's the only negative thing I have to say about Crazy Heart, and even then, that isn't such a bad thing.

First off, this movie had an amazing soundtrack! Anyone who's a fan of country music will love this movie. Jeff Bridges sings all of his own music, and looks and sounds the part of a Country music veteran of the 70s and 80s.

The only movie I can think of off the top of my heard that was more Country than this, is Walk The Line starring Joaquin Pheonix; That movie was about Johnny F'n Cash! To even come close to that standard is difficult.

Secondly, the cinematography was astounding. The sweeping shots of rural southwest America were astounding. That's a hard bit of scenery to screw up, but still, you can appreciate the rich colours and vastness this movie presented during Bad Blake's lonesome travels. You'll never get tired of looking at the screen, that's for sure.

Third, Jeff Bridges was awesome. You can't go wrong with The Dude, his performance in this movie is definitely Oscar worthy. Maggie Gyllenhaal was decent as well, and both of them have duly received nominations for their performances.

Overall I give Crazy Heart a


The cons: I can't really think of any. Like other people have said, it's a plot that's been done before. To equate at a country version of The Wrestler isn't incorrect. But Crazy Heart is just too good of a movie to count that as a bad point.

Also, I'm a hard-ass and I don't like to give 10 out of 10s unless I leave the theatre a changed man.

The pros:
- Great music. Even people who aren't country fans will be able to enjoy the soundtrack in this movie.
- Fantastic Acting, I mean, come on people, Jeff Bridges!
- Some truly hilarious moments that I'm still giggling about a day after the fact.
- Beautiful cinematography.
- Great story from start to finish.

Overall, this was one of the best movies I've seen a long time! The fact that movies like Avatar and District 9, both of which I really liked, are on the card for a best picture Oscar and Crazy Heart isn't, is insulting to the intelligence of the Academy.

This term gets bandied about quite a bit, but if there's one movie you should see from the lineup of Academy nominated films this year, it's Crazy Heart.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Review: Little Jake and the Three Bears

I recently received a late Christmas present my older brother and his wife while at work.

At a later date I'll talk about the other gifts, like my new Create-A-Commie playset, but the most interesting thing I received was children's book, Little Jake and the The Three Bears. was by far the funniest of the three gifts, and I gathered a few members of the around to have them listen to its tale.

These are self-published books from, a pro-hunting organization that wants to teach kids while they're young about safer hunting practices. It kind of feels like an attempt at disseminating the 'negative propaganda' spread by anti-hunting agendas looking to ban the sport.

I've been cruising around their website, and I have to say it's a fascinating result spawning from a not-uncommon feeling felt amongst sportsmen. The people who I've chatted with at gun shows seem to have a sense among them that their right to hunt is being taken away, or slowly taxed and restricted to the point where it just isn't feasible. This book is a very friendly and measured response from a group of people who are wrongfully as labeled “Gun-nuts” and “Rednecks.”

And for parents who really do want to teach their children about hunting safely, with respect to both the law and the land, it's a pretty good piece of literature. The lessons it teaches are all legit, here's a little quote from a review on the site:

“...Dad teaches Little Jake all the ins and outs: why it’s illegal to fly and hunt the same day; how to get within range of a caribou herd; how to aim behind the shoulder; why hunters must pack out all their meat...”
Of course, I don't imagine this book would have an impact at all on kids whose parents aren't hunters themselves. A coworker who caught the tail end of the book as I was reading it aloud said something along the lines of:

“This would scare the hell out of my daughter if I read it to her!”
For someone my age though, it was worth a chuckle. I didn't see the end coming even though I really should have. I think its message is good, but I also understand how anti-hunting groups might look at this as “Gun-nut brainwash propaganda.” But then again, maybe if they took the time to read the book they'd garner a little appreciation for the sport of hunting.

I give Little Jake and the Three Bears


It gains big points for having full and colourful illustrations, small words that were easy to read, and hilarious dialogue. The main character also had a lot of compassion and wisdom for his young age, as evidenced when he spares the life of a few bears.

It loses points though because throughout the book Little Jake was tromping about the wilderness by himself, and illegally operating a motor vehicle, when he clearly should have had adult accompaniment. The website says Little Jake is actually a teenager, but I don't think kids would see that.

Furthermore, lets quit it with the constant characters named Jake. I rail about this all the time, but I think Jake is just too overused. Can't we call all these generic characters something else for a change?

How about Bobbert? Or Theodore? Or Deckard? I've only heard Deckard used twice before, and once was Harrison Ford's character name, so it's gotta be good, right?

Monday, 8 February 2010

Superbowl Ads

Last night was Superbowl 44 where the New Orleans Saints took home the NFL championship with a 31-17 victory over the Indianapolis Colts. This marks both their first appearance, and victory, at a Superbowl during their 43 year history as an NFL franchise.

But, the fantastic football game aside, I was watching the game so as to scam my generous friends out of delicious food and watch the commercials.

This year seemed to be a pretty hum-drum affair. The commercials were okay, but overall it was a poor offering, especially for the Superbowl. Too many ads just left me with raised eyebrows, or looks of disapproval.

One running theme this year seemed to be pantsless men. Several completely unrelated ads contained men who were sans-pants, and as such I saw an uncomfortable amount of tighty-whities over a 3 hour span this year.

Not only that, but there was Superman ice-cream cake being served at the Superbowl party, and I received the slice that had Superman's tightly clad crotch on it.

It was pretty gay. Thanks guys.

Another series of ads I didn't care for were the Go Daddy website commercials featuring race car driver Danica Patrick. First off, I don't find Danica Patrick to be all that good looking, and second of all, since when did selling domain names become something that women would tear their shirts off for? I like ads with sex in them, but this is just confusing.

Finally, my favourite ad of the entire night was for Doritos. They held this contest in which people would submit their own commercials, and winners would receive big cash prizes. In my opinion, this ad has everything that makes a Superbowl ad great; Snack-food, violence, odd clothing choices, and a beard.

Who wants Doritos?

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Review: White Out

Last night involved the viewing of Whiteout, directed by Dominic Sena, and starring Kate Beckinsale.

It's a thriller set in Antarctica, where bodies start turning up after the discovery of a downed Russian freight plane. Kate Beckinsale, the science station's Marshall, starts poking around and soon she's getting chased by an ice-pick wielding maniac.

I'll make like a pencil and get to the point, this movie was awful. True cinematic trash. It was a piece of garbage from the opening scene right til' the end.

This isn't even worth downloading off the internet for free. In fact, I think Warner Brothers should pay you to watch this movie. I can't do justice to how terrible this movie is without you having seen it, but I should shame myself for even giving you even the slightest modicum of suggestion that this might worth your time. It's just awful, and stands testament to exactly why I don't watch suspense or horror movies.

It's not because I can't handle them and I don't like being scared, it's because most of the time they're terrible, filled with plot holes, and the characters do things that a normal person would simply never even consider doing. I know it's a movie, I know there's supposed to suspension of disbelief, but there's a threshold.

My rating for White Out is:


It gains half a point for having one scene where I was actually into the action of Beckinsale running from the murderer; and another for breaking the stereotype of suspense cinema when the film's only black man not didn't die first. Way to push boundaries!

As a side note, the best part of the movie was when Beckinsale revealed that she came to the South Pole to get away from the stress of her LA cop lifestyle, and I looked at everyone who was watching the movie and said:

"I guess she needed some time down!"

Blackalicious - Deception

Monday, 1 February 2010

Optimism for Television

Last night I sat down and watched FOX's Sunday evening 'Animation Domination' line-up. I don't catch it all that often, especially since The Simpsons has been god-awful for years, and King of the Hill had been on the decline as well for some time before it was cancelled.

Family Guy is alright, but I personally feel it's nowhere near as good as it used to be either. American Dad is a shining star, that used to really suck but took a real 180 and is actually very watchable now.

But today I'd like to talk about the third installment of Seth MacFarlane's line-up, The Cleveland Show.

As you may know, this is a spin-off from Family Guy starring Cleveland Brown, an exceedingly patient and caring man, who moves to his hometown where he gets married to his high-school sweetheart and all sorts of wacky hijinks ensue.

I'll be blunt about The Cleveland Show. Its debut sucked. I stared at the television and wondered why I was wasting my time with this awful program. It didn't long for me to have a flashback just five years earlier to a time when American Dad had just come out, and I thought the exact same thing. So I grit by teeth in hopes that things would get better.

But since I don't watch Fox's Sunday line-up all that much, I haven't been regularly tuning in to keep up with the program. Until last night I think I'd seen 3 episodes (maybe) of their 12 show run.

But I gave Cleveland a chance last night and, I'm just gonna throw this one out there, I really enjoyed it. Really.

The episode involved Cleveland taking charge of a group of 8 unruly teens. To build their self-confidence he had them start selling cookies on street corners and in bad neighborhoods. But because they're bad apples the kids sell drugs instead, and Cleveland gets into all sorts of trouble.

The absurdity of the show is great, but I find the funniest moments are when Cleveland does his straight-man act and has some clever sex and drug innuendo. This is pretty similar to another show that I find people either loved or hated, King of the Hill (KOTH).

An old roommate of mine protested and railed against KOTH, claiming that he hated it. It's understandable why as the show can be slow, dry, and sometimes you really wanted to reach into your TV and punch Peggy Hill in the face. But the more I made him watch it, the more he enjoyed it.

I think The Cleveland Show is going to need some time to pick up its pace, and I have a feeling the more you watch it, the more you'll enjoy it. But as for me, Season 1, Episode 12, "Our Gang," has won me over. And you gotta believe me when I say I honestly hated The Cleveland Show when it came out!

So for old time's sake, give your friend Cleveland just one more chance. Besides, if the show's ratings stay where they are, and you truly hate it, you only have to ignore the show for just one more season.