Thursday, October 30, 2008


Went over to the In-Laws' to carve pumpkins tonight. I carved 'Boo' from the Super Mario Brothers series. I'm pretty pleased with the way he turned out - you be the judge (click to enlarge).

I think it turned out nicely. Before anyone asks, yes, it's based off a stencil - but one that I modded a bit. I like the way the tongue turned out.

As a special bonus, Linds made a spider... Linds obviously knows the full meaning of the word 'irony', as she HATES spiders.

Monday, October 27, 2008

CD Review: Shiny Toy Guns - Season of Poison

I really liked Shiny Toy Guns' 1st/2nd/3rd CD We Are Pilots. It had an enjoyable mix of dance, electronica, and pop/rock. Whe I heard they were coming out with a new CD, I was understandably excited. Then I learned that they had parted ways with Carah Faye Charnow, who had injected a lot of the attitude and fun that made We Are Pilots so good. Then I heard the lead single to Season of Poison - 'Ricochet!', which prompted me to write the following:

"I was pumped for a new Shiny Toy Guns release when I first heard it was coming, but if the rest of Season of Poison is anything like this, it'll just prove that We Are Pilots was lightning in a bottle, and that the lightning has escaped."

Luckily, Season of Poison isn't quite all that bad. Sisely's "tough girl" vocals prove to be tortuous at times, but her actual 'singing' voice is pretty decent. The album kicks off with a song that represents the abum pretty well "When Did the Storm Begin", Sisely sort of rhythmicly shouts the verses, but she's saved soon enough by a soaring power-pop chorus. This proves to be about as close as Season of Poison comes to a formula. Most of the CD is guitar-driven power-pop, basicaly A lot less "Don't Cry Out", a lot more "Chemistry of a Car Crash". Occasionaly it veers and careens from genre to genre, touching on hints of african drum beats ("Season of Love"), some honest to God prog-rock ("Poison") and a LOT of 80's pop ("I Owe You a Love Song", and especially "Blown Away"). Through it all though, there very few light melodies. These are big songs.

I've warmed to 'Ricochet' to the extent that I greatly enjoy the chorus, but the verses are still hard to listen to. In fact, that represents one of the problems I do have with this CD. The album is so scattershot (often switching things up within the song, and putting things that don't necessarily work together - such as the organ led verses and the distorted guitar chord guzzling of "Blown Away") that you often get something you're not fond of mixed in with a song that you enjoy. There's the painful verses of the otherwise fantastic "When Did the Storm Begin?". There's the epic "Poison" with 2 minutes of needless organ and ambient noise noodling stuck on the end. A lot of it just seems disjointed, like the band had a million different directions they wanted to go, and only 45 minutes to pack it into.

If that sounds harsh, I really don't mean it to be. Like I said initially, this is a good CD. The band obviously doesn't miss Carah nearly as much as I had feared they might. With a few head-scratching exceptions, Sisely acquits herself pretty well. It's easy to miss sure things like "Don't Cry Out", and "Le Disko", and I don't think this CD will gain quite the same place in my CD wallet that We Are Pilots did, but I'd recommend this to anyone who liked Shiny Toy Guns before.

It's nice to be proven wrong sometimes.


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Congratulations, Tampa Bay

What a series. What a game. What a performance by Garza.
That was an instant classic.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Welcome Back... Sort Of... is back!

Kind of...

You may remember my despairing diatribe against Fandango's buyout of from a few months back. My sentiments were seemingly (if the comment section is accurate) shared by several of you, and we all sat and pouted together about how our favorite movie site had gone belly up.

While the clutter and overeagerness to sell tickets still permeates the entire place, some of the things I enjoyed about the original site have returned.

First and foremost, Dave White's reviews are back. I like his reviews, as he generally skips all the jargon talk and gives you his sarcastic/cynical take on whether he thinks it's any good or not. The guy likes movies, so he tells you about them. What's not to like?

The buzz bin is back, too - every blessed cornball inch of it. Mike Standish is still making terrible jokes, and I'm still enjoying it.

The Fandango run portions of the site (read: pretty much anything not under the "buzz" tab) still suck. It's still cluttered, it's still pushy - but at least it's no longer 100% awful.

You taken small steps towards being something other than a weeping pile of suck, Fandango. Only about 152 more and we can consider this whole thing just a big misunderstanding.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Movie Review: The Happening

Dear M. Night Shyamalan,

Are you even trying anymore?

'The Happening' is one of the stupidest movies I've ever seen.

Anytime the main core of the advertising for a movie is "the first R-rated film from director x", it's basically admitting "man, we've got zero plot, so we're going to up the gore and hope no one notices". Well guess what, M - I noticed.

The best part about the entire movie is Zooey Deschanel's eyes. I am not making this up.

I probably could have given this a '2' if the phoned in "OMIGOD, WE DIDN'T LEARN UR LESSON AND IT'S HAPPENING AGAIN" ending hadn't been tacked on. That could be seen as a spoiler, but honestly, it's the ending we knew was coming from about 10 minutes into the movie. But, hell... you had to prove your point, and I respect that to the tune of one

Please stop making movies until you learn what is and what is not a good script. Also, for the love of all that is holy, please send your next script to no fewer than three 5th graders. If even they think it's a moronic waste of time, please rewrite until you have something that makes some damn sense.

Now, if you'll pardon me, I have to go find some lions and allow them to rip my arms from my body for no other reason than a bunch of trees told me that I don't want to live anymore. Sounds cool with me.

1/10 (This is one of the stupidest movies ever. I know I already said this but seriously, the Mummy Returns is like the Godfather compared to this pile of garbage.)

...May as Well Watch Football

The Vikings won in dramatic fashion against the Saints last night. Here's a couple of things I noticed.

1. I already sort of knew this, but Tony Kornheiser is an excitable jackass. He uses hyperbole to the point where everything he says loses meaning, and still manages to sound like he doesn't know what he's talking about. He's almost impossibly adverse to criticism, and manages to sniff it out where none exists. Ron Jaworski made a decent point about owners not paying attention to talk radio, and Mr. Kornheiser decided to make it into an issue for a fair while afterwards. At least he didn't threaten to wring his neck and hang him over the back of a shower rod like a duck (what in the hell does that even mean?). Just another just another example of how the spastic cockflickery of sports talk radio doesn't translate so well into play-by-play/color commentary in an actual football game.

2. Even a blind squirrel is right twice a day, and Kornheiser was absolutely right about the Vikings towards the end of the first half. The Saints were doing their best to give the game to us, and our offensive playcalling was just incredibly passive. It turned out okay in the end, but at some point, this unspoken "play for a field goal", hope for a touchdown" mentality is going to be the death of us.

3. Antoine Winfield had an unbelievable game. He got a lucky snare of the blocked field goal, then had a great play with the improvised sack/forced fumble/fumble recovery. They showed a stat later in the game that mentioned that he's only been thrown at 16 times, and the opposing receiver has only caught 5 passes. That both shows two things. Number one is that Winfield is an elite level cornerback that is vastly underrated because of relatively low interception numbers. Number two is that the remainder of our defensive backs are exceedingly easy to complete passes against.

4. Reggie Bush is a monster and an amazing athlete, but I'm not convinced he'll ever be a dominating running back. If he gets open field in front of him, he's a beast to take down (though the Vikes did make it easier for him than they should have on his 2 punt returns), but for whatever reason, he can't get around the corner on running routes that well.

5. Adrian Peterson will probably break 300 yards in a game someday, but for every superstar amazing game he has, he'll have one like he did last night. When a defense has his number, it doesn't seem as if any number of touches gets him anywhere. In his defense, though, the O-Line didn't really open many holes up for him. Part of that is because the Saints D-Line played their best game of the season, and part of that seemed to be our "for God's sake don't lose this ball game" passive mentality that I described earlier.

6. I'll admit it, Gus Frerotte may not be the QB that the Vikings need, but he's closer to being that quarterback than Tavaris Jackson is. He has the ability to throw the ball deep, and doesn't make very many mistakes. This doesn't help us win Super Bowls, and sort of delays whatever future the Vikings may have for the position, but at this point, he's the best we can put on the field.

7. I really miss Twins baseball (speaking of which, how awesome is it that the Rays beat the Sox? The answer - really awesome.)

All in all, that was a tense, enjoyable football game that turned out in our favor.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Scott Baker = Ace

I've noticed that my blog shows up near the top of the list for the google search 'scott baker ace'. Ironically, the post which triggers this high ranking is a questioning of his ability to be the ace of the staff.

There should no longer be any question about that. Consider his stats (with where he ranks in the AL in parentheses):

ERA: 3.45 (8th)
Winning %: .733 (4th, he was 11-4, and keep in mind that he could have easily won a few more games, considering he was on the tough end of three 1-0 games)
WHIP: 1.178 (5th)
Strikeouts to Walks: 3.36 (7th)

He also gave up just a .247 AVG, and strikes outs 7.4 per 9 innings - which puts him just outside top 10. I really look forward to watching him pitch a full season next year as the undisputed ace of the Twins' starting rotation. Sorry for doubting you, Light Rail.

The Sound of the Wind Escaping the Sails

162 games wasn't enough to contain this season. The Twins were picked to finish anywhere from 3rd place (optimistic) to last (pessimistic). Even devoted Twins fans were figuring on somewhere in the range of 75 wins and a 4th place finish. The Tigers were too good, the Twins were too young. After all, we'd finished poorly last year, and that was before we got rid of Torii and Johan. There was just no way we were going to be playing meaningful September baseball.

What happened?

Seemingly out of nowhere, we took interleague by storm, and suddenly we had hope. Maybe we'd pull down 3rd, maybe even keep pace long enough to take 2nd. Soon the Indians and Tigers were well in our rearview, and we were facing something we hadn't envisioned in anything but our most unrealistic dreams - a bona-fide to-the-wire pennant race.

After completing the sweep of the Sox and taking first place his past Thursday (which was one of the most exciting games I've seen in any setting, '91 world series included), we were in the driver's seat. If we did our business against the Royals, the future looked bright. Unfortunately, the Royals have gotten good at playing the spoiler. In 2006, they swept the Tigers and let the Twins grab first on the last day of the season. This year, they opened the door for what was sure to be an exciting game number 163. Of course, there was the makeup game on Sunday, but that was a mere formality. This was going to come down to a winner-takes-all playoff. Everyone knew it.

After a great game (and it was a great game), I sat on the couch speechless, feeling absolutely gutted. Blackburn came up big in the biggest game he's ever pitched, but Danks was looking possesed on the mound. My stomach twisted a little tighter with every pitch either of them threw (especially on the Thome blast - I somehow knew that was going to be the only run of the game). I've not watched a game that gave me this kind of feeling (not even in the playoffs in 02-04, and in 06). Having been able to watch a vast majority of the games this year for the first time (thank you FoxSports!), the guys on the Twins roster have become family. I've watched Gomez strike out on that same blasted low and away pitch 900 times now, to the point where I cringe every time he gets a 2-strike count. I've watched Scott Baker turn from the goofy looking kid who couldn't get anyone out into... a fairly goofy looking kid who could just turn out to be one of the best pitchers in the AL. These guys are the most enjoyable team to watch, and I've greatly enjoyed living and dying on their every move. I'm sure in a couple of weeks I'll look back on this season and be satisfied with the amazing run they had, but for now, I've still got that sunk feeling in the pit of my stomach. It's been a lot of fun, and I knew in the back of my mind that this day was coming, but that doesn't ease my mind too much right now. These guys have been a pure pleasure to watch day in and day out, and I look forward to next year, when others will think twice before underestimating us.

What a season by a great team. I love this baseball for exactly this feeling, even if it's a little hard to stomach at the moment.

Here's looking forward to April.