Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Movies - Definitely not on the list

Something good about the 2013 movies? There weren't any movies that I really hated, such as The Tree of Life, Benjamin Buttons, Babel, or The Lovely Bones (Brad Pitt gets 3 out of 4 on that list) from previous years.

Something bad about the 2013 movies is that I didn't see any documentaries. I only saw one foreign film, though I saw two with subtitles. The foreign film was Amore. I wrote about it here after seeing it in time for the Oscars. I think I still stand by that review.

A few movies I saw this year weren't bad, but they were possibly something worse: forgettable. Usually, I keep track of the movies I see as I see them. I didn't this year, and had to go back to a list of movies released to remember all of them. There were a few that I even scrolled past at first.

Blue Jasmin was the first of these. I guess this was more about expectation, though. Woody Allen has made some pretty good movies lately. And this one stars Louis CK? I'm in. Well, it doesn't star Louis CK. He's probably in three scenes. The rest of the movie was good, I guess, but I don't remember too much.

It's a Pixar tragedy that Monsters U was also in the forgettable category. I've generally enjoyed everything they've made without Cars in title, so it's rather sad that I barely remember anything about it.

The Book Thief was good, and I've even offered it as extra credit for my World History students. But perhaps its forgettability is worst for a couple reasons. I just saw it about a month ago, and it's a WWII Holocaust movie. You shouldn't forget that type of movie.

Next are the movies that I at least remembered I had seen, but didn't really care that I had. I think I spent more time watching The Great Gatsby looking at the sets and style that I did caring about the characters or what was going on. And I don't meant that I loved the style, either. I spent the time during the party scenes thinking about what a nightmare that would be to go to. After all, one of the best reasons to time travel back to the twenties would be the music. Why mostly leave that out?

In most years I wouldn't have seen Now You See Me. There's only one reason I saw it. See the picture to the left? That was my view to the left while I watched it. I took that one during this movie. One of the popular evening activities for locals in Greece is the outdoor theater. This one was on a roof with an Acropolis view. How was the movie? It was surprisingly entertaining.

I read Ender's Game for the first time earlier this year. The movie was a pretty faithful adaptation once you factor its time constraints. I wonder if it might have been a flaw, however. It didn't do anything to establish its own personality.

 I didn't care much for Iron Man 3. I guess I liked it better than 2, but that's about it. Mostly, I didn't like The Mandarin. I thought the comic version, I guy with magic, was a great foil for Iron Man, especially after the Avengers. His fight with and alongside Thor gave him conflict about his very neat, scientific world. The whole alien invasion left him even more messed up. How about we throw even more non science at him? The two arguments I've heard are that the comic version would be too racist (woudn't that be easy to fix?) and that magic wouldn't fit in this world (then it isn't the Marvel Universe, is it?). Perhaps I didn't like this enough that the rest of the movie became more... forgettable.

I'll write about the movies I liked more (but still didn't make the list) later today.

Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 Movies - NO top ten list!

There will be no top ten list this year. It's going to be a top five. Two reasons why.

How I spent my summer vacation.
The first is that I didn't see nearly as many movies. I was still pretty busy planning two new curricula in the spring, so I only saw a few of the big movies. And then I was in Europe for almost seven weeks in the summer. When school started again, it took a bit to get going. I've been catching up for the last few weeks, but not enough. While I usually see 40-50+ movies, I saw 23.

The second is that the movies I saw just weren't as good. Quite often I have a top ten that I'm happy with, then a few runners up that might have made it. This year, I have five movies I really liked. I have a few more that were all right, but I just don't think they make it to a top list. The rest? Meh.

I'm trying to do a little catching up on missed movies via Netflix, but first I only count movies I saw in the theaters, and second, they aren't that great, either. I recently caught This is the End and Pacific Rim, two movies that I likely would have seen in the theaters if I hadn't been on vacation. This is the End had some funny stuff, but it was skip worthy. Pacific Rim would make a top ten list of movies that might cure my insomnia. It was a three nap movie.

One of my favorite movie going experiences didn't count. I saw Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory at the Paramount last Friday night. It was the first time I had watched it all the way through in a long, long time. It turns out that it's a great movie to watch with a crowd that loves the movie. Everyone laughed at the funny parts, laughed at the cheesy parts (plenty of those), laughed at Grandpa Joe's tobacco addiction that is ruining in family, and cheered for Veruca Salt with every tantrum. And for the most part, people didn't sing along.

So tomorrow I'll write about the movies I didn't pick, then start the top five countdown on 1/1 as usual. With only five days, there's no way I miss a day, right? It's not like I would ever finish a blog project later than scheduled.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Day 101 - 101 Days of Awesome

Vacation. Summer vacation, winter break, spring break, or just a day off here and there. Vacation is awesome.

Don't get me wrong. I like my job well enough. But I also love sleeping in. I love watching TV. I love reading. I love watching movies. I love going outside. I love doing the stuff I've talked about for the last 100 days.

Tomorrow I leave for six and a half weeks to head to Greece, Turkey, Italy, and France. It's going to be awesome. See you on the other side.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Day 100 - 101 Days of Awesome

Superman. I really love the character. I love the fact that his character is flawed due to his perceived perfection. Several writers have gotten this right. The movies have had to rely on Kryptonite to be his flaw, but comic book writers are often much better than others.

I think he has the best costume design. Sure, he doesn't need the cape or the underwear on the outside of his pants, but it works on him. I think the S shield is a great work of art. That's probably mostly because my name begins with an S and I prefer to think that it's for me, though. If I were to ever get a tattoo, it would be of the S. It wouldn't stand for Superman, though.

I saved this entry for today because I knew I would go see The Man of Steel. Unfortunately, it was not awesome. Still, just because Zack Snyder's Superman was not awesome does not mean that everything else wasn't.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Day 99 - 101 Days of Awesome

They Might Be Giants.The Might Be Giants. They might be rain. They might be heat. They might be frying up a stalk of wheat.

Not only are they my favorite band, but I'm going to see them tonight. That is probably the best way to end the school year. I've seen them several times before, and I've loved it each time. They have a live album. Give it a listen.

I know I've written this before, but just about every album does the same thing. I listed to it the first time and think "meh." Then I listen again and find a song I enjoy. Then I find another on the next listen. And another. And another until I think it's their best album ever.

Much like with The Beatles, I could not name my favorite song because it's probably the last one I heard. So I'll leave this entry with my most recent favorite song from their recent album, Join Us.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Day 98 - 101 Days of Awesome

I've mentioned a couple comedians in this list. But George Carlin has to be the best. Not only is he hilarious, but he's politically correct in his political incorrectness. He's right about everything. With Lenny Bruce too much before my time, George Carlin has to be the man.

I've embedded a few Youtube videos for your benefit. But here I'm going to do something better. First, here's a link to a list of some of his best quotes. Read. Enjoy.  Next, here's a link to all of his videos. Watch everything. Laugh. Learn.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Day 97 - 101 Days of Awesome

Every year, I show Glory. This was the first year that I haven't shown it. I have a feeling that it will be back next year, as it's not only the best Civil War movie, it's one of my favorite movies.

Some day I want to write something lengthy about Glory, but today is not that day. I want to write about the things I've noticed in the well over 50 times I've shown it and/or watched it in class. For example, and this is an easy one, why does Col. Shaw yell at Major Forbes to train them properly with the rifles? Because of the guy's head blowing up at the beginning of the movie. If that part is cuy out, as it is in the edited version, it makes no sense.

Here's another. In one of the absolute best scenes,  Morgan Freeman yells at Denzel Washington to "You watch who you call a nigger! If there's any niggers around here, it's YOU. Just a smart-mouthed, stupid-ass, swamp-runnin' nigger." After that, the word isn't used by anyone in the movie at all.

And I can't go this far without mentioning the soundtrack. Here's the full soundtrack. Just listen. And if you've seen the movie, try to listen without shedding a tear. It won't work.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Day 96 - 101 Days of Awesome

I need to take a moment to discuss one of the most awesome things on the internet that most of us, myself included, take for granted. Wikipedia. I use it regularly. Probably daily. Where did I find the image to use in this entry? Wikipedia.

At first, it was a gamble to use it with any seriousness. But depending what you're checking out, you will now find good and accurate information just about all of the time.

As a teacher, I was all over the "never use Wikipedia academically" kick until just a few years ago. Now I tell kids to go there to do research. Should they site it? No. Still no. But read the page. Learn the basics. That's what we used to do with a regular encyclopedia, and we probably shouldn't have sited that, either. When you're done reading and understand the topic (and if you aren't writing a paper, that's probably enough), go to the bottom of the page. See the sources cited for the Wikipedia page? Go follow those.

So... one of these, days, I should probably actually donate a few bucks to them just like they ask for every once in a while...

Monday, June 10, 2013

Day 95 - 101 Days of Awesome

I've mentioned a few comic books in the previous days, but nearing the end, I have to discuss the best comic. Ever.

Calvin and Hobbes is what all comic strips should be. It's one guy drawing new stuff every day. It's funny. It's heartwarming. It makes you think.

It's a tragedy that the anti-Calvin and Hobbes, the Family Circus, is still in newspapers while Watterson's isn't. But I'll happily spend money for reprints and collections of Calvin and Hobbes. It was sad when Bill Watterson stopped the strip. But his reasons are totally justified. I wonder how many kids today know Calvin from anything more than a bumper sticker of him peeing that a total douche would put on his car?

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Day 94 - 101 Days of Awesome

If you've been doing your 101 Days of Awesome homework, you should have checked out Preacher back on day 14. It's time for your second comic book assignment. You need to find Strangers in Paradise.

If HBO or another network really wants an adaptable comic book for its next great series, Strangers in Paradise might just work. Francine and Katchoo are great characters. Get the right actresses and you have a gold mine of material.And seriously. Go straight to the source.  Tell Terry Moore's story. Don't make up your own adventures. He did it right the first time. I remember some stuff being confusing when he switched publishers and went to color and back, but that can be fixed.

It's going to be awhile. So for now, get thee to a comic store and pick up I Dream of You, the first collection.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Day 93 - 101 Days of Awesome

My thanks to Lance E. Kisses for first showing me Office Space. It zoomed in and out of the theaters, so I had no idea it existed. I have a feeling that I would have been exposed to it since then, but I'm glad to have seen it as relatively early as I did.

This movie has spread pretty well since it came out on video. Lots of students know it. The image to the left was my desktop wallpaper for awhile, and several kids knew what it was. At least once a year, someone suggests that I should replace my classroom stapler with a red Swingline. They know what's up.

This is the movie that first introduced me to Dr. Cox from Scrubs. It has Stephen Root, who is usually quite funny (probably the best part of the later seasons of Newsradio). It gives the best, four-word answer to what one should do with a million dollars. I've never worked in an office, and I really dig this awesome movie. I wonder if it's better or more sad for those who do?

Friday, June 7, 2013

Day 92 - 101 Days of Awesome

Really short entry today. Is there anything more awesome than air conditioning? All those conservatives who want to world to go back to a previous time need to remember than AC is recent in our history. Just go to the humid south in the summer. Try to escape the heat by standing in the shade. It doesn't work. AC is awesome.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Day 91 - 101 Days of Awesome

As I've traveled around the United States and Europe, I've visited some of the best museums in the world. While Marc Chagall is my favorite artist, it's tough to make a list of awesome without a mention of Vincent Van Gogh. I've seen quite a bit of his art, and it never fails to awe.

The best thing about going to an art museum is getting up close and actually seeing the brush strokes. You see the artist's smudges and fingerprints. When looking at something by Leonardo da Vinci, that's even more awesome that you have that connection 500 years later.

With Van Gogh, you learn SO MUCH from getting up close and looking at the brush strokes. You see colors you never knew could have been there. But from far away, they work so perfectly. The strokes are often quite large and deliberate.

Something not so awesome? I've been to New York a bunch of times, but I've never been to The Museum of Modern Art to see The Starry Night. Someday I'll see it and I'll be more awesome for having done so.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Day 90 - 101 Days of Awesome

With Kurt Vonnegut, every book you read will be excellent. There was just one that I felt like I had to work my way through, and that was his first, Player Piano. I admit that there are a few I haven't read yet, and I haven't read them because they aren't as highly recommended. But still, even when the plot was tough, his writing style is awesome.

I have two favorites. The first is Cat's Cradle. It's a story about the atomic bomb. It's a story of Ice-nine. It's a story of the end of the world. It's the story of a religion called Bokononism, which makes a hell of a lot more sense than Christianity.

My other favorite is The Sirens of Titan. There are ghosts. There are space explorers. There is time travel. There were points in which I wasn't sure what was going on at all. But in the end, it didn't really matter. Here's why.

Kurt Vonnegut is a science fiction writer. And yet, nothing he writes ever feels like a science fiction story. While most sci fi writers write about sci fi stuff and tie them into larger human themes, Vonnegut is all about the themes with a bit of sci fi to get the plot moving along.

Every time I sit down to write, I want to have as unique of a voice as Vonnegut's. And perhaps that's my problem and why I don't get far.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Day 89 - 101 Days of Awesome

Elvis Presley. The King. He's awesome.

It's not just his music. It's the man, and in all shapes and sizes. He became Rock n Roll. He was the gateway to counter culture. He was bigger than Jesus before the Beatles. He was skinny then he was fat. He died on the toilet. His daughter married Michael Jackson and Nicholas Cage.

My favorite tune is As Long As I Have You. Take a listen. It's short and less than two minutes. But I've never seen Kind Creole, the movie it's from. In fact, I don't know if I've ever seen any of his movies in their entirety (or even more than clips). All I know is that in one movie he wants lemonade, that cool refreshing drink, and in another he has to win this race.

While I lack in the movie watching department, I have paid my respects. In my 1999 road trip, I visited Graceland. And on my 2011 road trip I visited his home in Tupelo. Warning. Visiting his home takes less than an hour and there's nothing else to do in Tupelo.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Day 88 - 101 Days of Awesome

I've already used one day for a track from The Empire Strikes Back. And yet, here I am with another. It's Yoda's theme. Just listen to it and you can imagine Yoda lifting the X-Wing out of the bog.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Day 87 - 101 Days of Awesome

Karaoke. For many of you. that word doesn't go with the word awesome. But that's because you haven't gone to karaoke when I have.

The problem many people have with karaoke is that people try to sing well. Unless you actually sing well, that's not going to work out for you. No, everyone else should be finding the most ridiculous, worst songs possible.

I haven't really been to a good karaoke night in quite awhile. I think Rock Band has become a substitute for it, but not an acceptable one to me. I enjoy playing Rock Band, but it's different.

So what are my tunes that I sing? I tend to enjoy belting out You Sexy Thing by Hot Chocolate. Rod Stewart's DaYa  Think I'm Sexy is always a hit. I like Touch Me by The Doors. And of course, my favorite is probably The Wings tune Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey with backing vocals from Lance E. Kisses.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Day 86 - 101 Days of Awesome

I have no idea how I stumbled upon this a few years ago, but it became a favorite clip of mine. There are several other versions of the song on youtube - a quick search will find them. But this is the first version I heard.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Day 85 - 101 Days of Awesome

My thanks to somewhat regular commenter The Jakes for recommending Cheeseboard Pizza to me many years back. This isn't your typical pizza place. You don't go up to the counter and order the pizza you want. No, you order the pizza they want.

The make one kind of pizza every day. You can check their website to see if it's one you're going to like that day, then head on in. But beware - it doesn't matter what time you go or on what day. There will be a line out there door. I've never waited less than five minutes and often about 15 to get in. But once you get to the counter, you order and they have it ready, hot and fresh out of the over.

I tend to enjoy any pizza they have with Crimini Mushrooms. But really, don't worry about what kind they're serving. They're all delicious.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Day 84 - 101 Days of Awesome

I like Stephen King. He's awesome. There are a bunch of his books that I really love. Pet Semetary was the first one I read back in middle school. It (the book, not the pronoun) is scary with a great story and great characters. The whole idea of The Long Walk has stuck in my head since reading it for the first time, and I recently reread it. Misery was probably the fastest I ever read a book. The whole Dark Tower series is epic and flawfully perfect. The Eyes of the Dragon. The Talisman. Needful Things (which others disliked - I loved the slow build and then all of the shit hitting the fan at once). Duma Key. 11/22/63. And don't forget his novellas which became Stand By Me and The Shawshank Redemption.

My favorite? The Stand. It's the story that really introduces the ideas that are going to go into the Dark Tower series. It takes a lot of great characters and throws them into the worst possible circumstance and watches them become more than they were, for better or worse. It's the next Stephen King book that I'm going to reread.

Yeah, he's also thrown out a few turds. The ending to Under the Dome is first and foremost. I can't make it more than 40 pages into Lisey's Story. The Colorado Kid was ridiculous (Hey! Here's an unexplainable mystery. Let me go ahead and not explain it!). I liked parts of The Cell, but it just didn't add up. And From a Buick 8 had a cool idea that just didn't go anywhere in the end.

I'll probably read just about everything that he continues to write.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Day 83 - 101 Days of Awesome

I hate exercise. But there are very few better feelings that when you finish exercise for the day. Not only is it done, but you accomplish something that day. As I'm getting close to finishing another round of Insanity, this is my awesome of the day - my post workout drink of chocolate milk.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Day 82 - 101 Days of Awesome

On the night Craig Ferguson got his robot sidekick, this is how he was introduced. It's three minutes of pure awesome.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Day 81 - 101 Days of Awesome

I'm discussing many more awesome movie soundtracks than I originally planned, but I don't think that's a bad thing in any way. The Superman soundtrack is pretty amazing. It's another of John Williams's greats.  I actually want to focus on just the first 1:30 of the clip above. Even though the main theme is so fantastic, this is my favorite part. And yeah, the rest of the clip is also cool.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Day 80 - 101 Days of Awesome

If there's anything I've learned over the past ten years that is most important, it's this: The Mythbusters are awesome.

I saw Adam and Jaime at Comic Con a few years back, and they were great. Then a couple years ago I saw Adam Savage driving in his Prius in San Francisco while I was driving my Prius. We had a Prius Parade, and it was beautiful.

I used to show an episode in class. The junior Mythbusters test whether Benjamin Franklin really completed his key and lightening experiment. My favorite part about the episode is that Adam and Jamie test fart myths. It was perfect for eighth grade.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Day 79 - 101 Days of Awesome

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

I really, really love this movie. Clemintine is someone I really could fall for. And it would probably end up in the same way, with me getting my memory erased. Again.

Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet are perfect. The script is perfect. The stuff that doesn't make sense at first later does, and it's perfect. The music is perfect.

But maybe I love it because on some level I wish it could be real. Is that awesome? Probably not.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Day 78 - 101 Days of Awesome

I want to talk about a few really awesome soundtracks. While I'll have a few posts that focus on some other soundtracks, this is to cover a few that I might now want to give a full post to, but they're still awesome.

 The first is Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves.

No, I'm not talking about the crappy Bryan Adams song. The Overture, embedded above, is a cool piece. It's a real call to adventure. I haven't seen the movie in a long time. I suspect that any good feels I have for this movie are from the Overture.

Next is Pirates of the Caribbean.

I enjoyed the first Pirates of the Caribbean. I mildly enjoyed the second. I disliked that third. I couldn't finish the first half of the fourth. Much like Robin Hood, I think I liked the main theme better than the movie. I remember it being a fun, though too long, movie. But I still like listening to the track above, called He's a Pirate.

Dances With Wolves.

Dances With Wolves is, as I remember it, a pretty good movie. But I haven't seen it since I saw it in the theaters. Unless you count when I saw Avatar, that is. Anyone seen it recently? Does it hold up? I've listened to the soundtrack plenty of times since then.Jump to around the 4:00 mark for the part you'll likely recognize, if not from the movie but from the dozens of other times it's been used since then.

Finally The Last of the Mohicans.

This is another movie that I've only seen once. I saw it on video more than 15 years ago, and I need to see it again.  Any movie with Daniel Day Lewis is worth rewatching just for his performance.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Day 77 - 101 Days of Awesome

I enjoy listening to Penn Jillette's podcast, Penn's Sunday School. It's funny and discusses atheism and libertarianism. I tend to agree more on the atheist side, but I never outright dismiss his libertarian viewpoints when he gives his particular viewpoint. He's comes from every issue from the point of view of love and liberty.

I've seen Penn and Teller a couple times in Las Vegas. Not only is their show great, but they wait outside the theater to sign autographs, take pictures, and talk to each and every guest who wants to. I really dig that.

The thing I really want to hit on today is this article that Penn wrote while appearing on Celebrity Apprentice. If you didn't watch the show, the article still makes plenty of sense. In addition to other things, he discusses pure art and pure joy. One of his lines - "I use Teller's broad definition of art -- 'Whatever we do after the chores are done.'" - lets me believe that what I'm doing here is actually art, and I like that.

That article was one of the main inspirations for me to complete this 101 Days of Awesome. Please read. Or even better, listen to this clip from his podcast of him reading it.

Penn's Huffington Post Article

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Day 76 - 101 Days of Awesome

With the release of part one of The Hobbit, I was reminded of how much I really enjoyed Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings. Those movies are the longest movies that I actually enjoyed being long. Most movies are way too long, The Hobbit included. But I overlooked it for LOTR.

I was a Peter Jackson fan way back when I first saw Bad Taste. Most of you haven't seen it. It's one of the funniest movies I've ever seen. Yeah, it's gross. But it's a very cartoony gross. If you've sat through an episode of The Walking Dead, you can certainly handle Bad Taste.

I enjoyed the first Hobbit movie. I wonder, though, if my enjoyment was of the movie itself or of the sentimental return to Middle Earth. It's too long. Jackson has put absolutely everything possible into this movie, and then added another twenty minutes on top of that. I'll hold off final judgement until I see all three movies - and I will, as Jackson earned that from me with the first three movies. I still can't imagine how this is going to be stretched into three movies.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Day 75 - 101 Days of Awesome

I have too many posts about food, don't I? Well in order to argue, you would have to argue that CHICKEN WINGS aren't awesome. That would make you lame.

I enjoy me some tasty wings. On my 2004 road trip, I drove to Buffalo to have some delicious buffalo wings in Buffalo. While I don't have any pictures from my meal that night, I do have this picture taken the next day on the Canada side of Niagara Falls. As I experienced both within 24 hours, I can tell you that the wings were more awesome than the Falls. The Spider-Man ride? That was also pretty awesome.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Day 74 - 101 Days of Awesome

Before you start reading, press play and listen!

That's all I really need to have here, right?You're ready for adventure. I saw Raiders of the Lost Ark when it was released in theaters about a year ago and had just as much fun as the first time. There were a few kids in the audience who were really digging it. I have a feeling that two things are going to make these movies hold up forever. First, they were already set in the past. They won't be dated in that way. Second, they don't rely on big special effects. It's all stunt that should be filmed in the same way today. And even the special effects they do have (melting faces) look just right for the story.

That's all I want to say. Just listen - it's beautiful! (imagine that yelled in a German accent).

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Day 73 - 101 Days of Awesome

I didn't discover Scrubs until fairly late in its run. I saw most of the episodes in syndication and completely out of order. In fact, I'm still not really too sure of the chronology of the show. But I still grew to love it anyway.

There are some spectacularly great episodes.The musical episode is my favorite of the novelty musical episodes (yes, better than Buffy). My Way Home is a Wizard of Oz themed episode. My Screw Up features Brendan Fraser and shows how good of an actor John C. McGinley is. But the best episode is My Lunch. It's the episode with The Fray's How To Save a Life

I mentioned John C. McGinley above. He plays Dr. Cox. Dr.  Cox is one of my favorite TV characters ever. He's not totally believable. But he's rather consistent.  Most importantly, he's the guy who taught me that it's ok to express my hate of Hugh Jackman.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Day 72 - 101 Days of Awesome

A few days ago I mentioned my 1999 road trip. Another result of that trip came at the end. I ended in San Diego attending a fantasy football draft, the CFFL league. As a football fan, I thought it was pretty awesome. I headed back home ready to start our new league, EDSFFL. A couple years later I even joined the CFFL.

I did really well the first several years of the EDSFFL. My team, Sharks With Frickin' Laser Beams Attached To Their Heads, was regularly in the playoffs, I went to the championship several times, and won the league twice. My success has been... less so in the CFFL, though I proudly have won it once with my team Clobberin' Time.

The biggest problem is that I probably root for actual football teams less now than I did before. My team wins? Whatever. How did my fantasy players do?

Friday, May 17, 2013

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Day 70 - 101 Days of Awesome

The UK version of The Office was hilarious by itself. The US version became great when it stopped trying to emulate the UK version. Yeah, it has overstayed itself. When Steve Carrell left the show, it hasn't been the same.

But my favorite character is still there. I celebrate the ending of the TV show with a salute to the most awesome character. Creed Bratton is played by Creed Bratton. Creed Bratton was in the band the Grass Roots. Those of you who know the character but didn't know that fact might be wondering if I were talking about the actor or the character.

For those of you who don't know the awesome of Creed, here's a collection of clips. You might be thinking,"I don't understand the context of these clips."  That's OK. He doesn't either.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Day 69 - 101 Days of Awesome

I was first exposed to John Steinbeck when I was assigned The Red Pony as our first novel of freshmen year. I hated it. It felt like a kids book when I wanted to start reading real novels. I later read Of Mice and Men. Better. I wasn't assigned The Grapes of Wrath. I remember other students reading it and disliking it because, according to them, there was a twenty page description of a turtle crossing the road.  In college I was assigned In Dubious Battle. It was OK, but tough to get through.

So with all that behind me, I still don't know why I actually picked up East of Eden. It was recommended to me by a couple friends whose judgement I guess I trusted. But it looks just as boring as the rest of his stuff. And before you say it, I read it before Oprah made it one of her book club choices.

I'm a somewhat fast reader, but it ended up being a really fast read, even at a dense 600+ pages of epicness. Here's my favorite line from the book:

"If necklaces of pork chops were accepted, it would be a sad child who could not wear pork chops."

I haven't watched the movie. I'm somewhat afraid to. I usually watch a movie as soon as I finish the book. It's been about fifteen years since I read it. I think it's getting time for a reread, and then perhaps I'll take a look at the movie. That's my timshel.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Day 68 - 101 Days of Awesome

Sleep is pretty awesome. But you know what's even more awesome? Those days that you get to sleep in with no alarm at all. I want one of those days.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Day 67 - 101 Days of Awesome

Why do people like Louis CK? It's because he says things that people think but more eloquently and a million times funnier. And that thing you think might not have been a conscious thought. It might be that reason you hate something but haven't been able to put your finger on why you hate. He'll tell you.

Here's an example as he talks about the miracle of human flight.

When the comics of 2040 talk about who inspired them as kids, Louis CK is going to be mentioned over and over again. I know this because the comics of 2013 are already saying it.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Day 66 - 101 Days of Awesome

Here's one that I can't describe well enough. You need to check it out for yourself. First of all, if you aren't subscribed to some podcasts, you need to jump on that. Once you do, you need to check out Mike and Tom Eat Snack.

In this podcast, Michael Ian Black and Tom Cavanagh, well, eat snacks. They pick a snack, eat a snack, rate a snack. It's the PER system. Sometimes they pick the snack themselves. Sometimes they are sent by viewers (and they know they aren't actually viewers).  There are running jokes, so don't start with the most recent episode. Start at the beginning. Just... go subscribe and listen for yourself. 


Saturday, May 11, 2013

Day 65 - 101 Days of Awesome

Delicious. Have you been to the Public Market Emeryville? There's some damn tasty food there. I seem to be drawn back to the same place every time I go, getting the exact same thing. It's the Afghan Cuisine. I typically pick up the three item sampler with Saffron Chicken, Spicy Chicken, and Lamb and Potato Curry.  Delicious.

Lance E. Kisses once said, while standing outside of it pointing at the burger place next to it, that those burgers might be the greatest burgers in the world, but he would never know it. I have been there many times. I have never eaten a burger there. I want my Afghan Cuisine.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Day 64 - 101 Days of Awesome

I laughed pretty hard the first time I saw Austin Powers. It's almost too bad it became as popular as it was. It would have made for some pretty good inside jokes. I showed it in class at lunchtime a few years back. It still held up pretty well.

But the awesome thing about it is the soundtrack. It's such a sweet taste of the late 60s. While I don't exactly watch the movie much anymore, I still take a listen to the soundtrack every now and again.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Day 63 - 101 Days of Awesome

I've mentioned a few times before that I don't particularly like musicals, but I love the ones I do. My favorite is probably Singin' in the Rain. I've had the opportunity to see it in the theaters with a crowd a couple times in the past few years. It's always a great experience, and watching certain songs is just pure joy.

In my opinion, the absolute best part of the movie is Make 'Em Laugh. If this scene were filmed today, it would be edited over and over again to make it work (unless it's Joseph Gordon Levitt). But the original? The talent oozes off of the film cells.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Day 62 - 101 Days of Awesome

I've mentioned before that my favorite video game series is the Legend of Zelda. If you've never played the game... just skip this one.
In the Ocarina of Time, you learn the Song of Storms. Well, the way you learn it is actually pretty cool. You go back and forth in time. When you're your older self, you learn it from this guy who learned it from you when you were younger because you learn it then go back in time and teach it to him, who then teaches it to you later. Yeah.

Anyway, a few Zelda games reference the song later. It's always a blast to hear it again. It's pretty awesome.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Day 61 - 101 Days of Awesome

Flight of the Conchords did one major thing right - they stopped after two seasons. What they left us with were two awesome seasons. I went through them fairly quickly. Here are two of my favorite songs from the series:

Monday, May 6, 2013

Day 60 - 101 Days of Awesome

Ah, The Daily Show. I have no idea when I last missed an episode of The Daily Show. When I've gone on vacation, I've made it a point to record every episode at the highest priority. On one of those trips, my DVR crapped out halfway through. I think that was 2007. So yeah, it's probably been since then. I've fast forwarded through some interviews, but I've seen most of the rest. I've had some catch up marathons for sure.

I'm going to take a moment to clarify what a lot of people likely mean when they say that they get their news from The Daily Show. Occasionally, they will bring a story to light that isn't being talked about by other news outlets. Perhaps there is some bill being passed by Congress that is full of hypocrisy. If it isn't "front page" news, we might not be exposed to it otherwise. Those of us who watch are also smart, so we'll go investigate more on our own.

And you can't forget that The Daily Show begat The Colbert Report. It also gave us Steve Carrell, Ed Helms, and lots of other funny, funny people.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Day 59 - 101 Days of Awesome

The first major road trip I took by myself was in the summer of 1999. I went to Seattle first, where I spend quite some time before really starting the trip. On the day I left, I drove I-90. It crosses the top of Idaho. It's a really beautiful drive through the pine tree covered mountains. I hit that as the sun was setting. I had been listening to Jimi Hendrix  - The Ultimate Experience. At the end of the album is Jimi's Star Spangled Banner from Woodstock. The sights and the sounds made the most awesome amalgam of existence for my drive.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Day 58 - 101 Days of Awesome

I've talked about Star Wars a few times already, and I'm sure I will again. But on Star Wars day (May the Fourth be with you), I need to write about it again.

So for today, I'm going to mention the original ending to Return of the Jedi. Yes, it's the Yub Nub or Ewok Celebration song. The Daves of Thunder podcast would end its episodes with this beautiful and celebratory piece.  It's really how every school day should end. Imagine if you will that instead of the bell that this started playing. Kids and teachers could celebrate in the hallways together as they dance the Ewok Celebration dance that I'm sure long time commentator The Jakes still remembers well. What a beautiful world it would be if this were the way it were. If I were principal...

Friday, May 3, 2013

Day 57 - 101 Days of Awesome

I love The Goonies. As a kid, it was one of my absolute favorites. I fondly remember riding my bike all the way down to the Capri Theater to watch it a couple times. For a buck, I got to watch it twice with something else in between. I could have stayed to watch another time, but I would have had to watch the other movie again, and I probably was supposed to be home at a certain time or something.

I remember the horror in sixth grade when we were supposed to watch it in class as a celebration after we performed Hamlet. But then Ms. Oetting previewed the movie and wasn't happy with the number of times they said "Shit. So we watched the John Wayne movie Hondo. What's up with that shit?

But the awesome I'm going to talk about is the music. This is a specific piece of music from the movie that you will find embedded below. Take a listen as you finish reading. It's the first 1:40 or so.

As a kid, not only did I love the Goonies, but (hyperbole alert) I wanted nothing more than a Goonies sequel. Back then, there was one way to find out what movies were coming out that I knew of. You went to the movies and watched the trailers. So just imagine the awesome I felt the first time a trailer started and that music played! For a few seconds, I knew it was coming. Goonies 2 - Even Goonier! Now imagine the lack of awesome when I discover that instead, Dennis Quaid was going to be miniaturized and injected into Martin Short. And it wasn't just the Inner Space trailer. It was used often in the second half of the 80s.

So why is it awesome if I was so devastated and am still awaiting Goonies 2 - Electric Goonieloo? Because it is.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Day 56 - 101 Days of Awesome

If you have legitimate plans to watch the series soon, don't read on. Otherwise, I don't spoil everything. Just the end.

How will the series end? Will it suck? Will they tie up loose ends? Will the characters be redeemed? Some shows miss the mark (ahem, Battlestar Galactica and Lost). Some shows get it just right (Cheers and arguably The Sopranos).

Occasionally, it's perfect. The absolute best series ending of all time was for Six Feet Under. Not only was it beautiful, not only was it emotional, not only did it complete the stories of the characters, but it did it in a way that was SO PERFECT for the series before. Spoiler: A show about death showed us the deaths of the main characters. And the song playing, Breathe Me, makes it perfect.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Day 55 - 101 Days of Awesome

There are many, many songs in this world for which the following is true for many people. You hear the first few notes and you start to feel nausea. You want to turn it off. You want to complain. You want to declare that the terrorists have won. You want to strike down your fellow man just so that song will end.

But sometime, the vocalist enters before you're able to do any of those things, and there's a little surprise. It isn't Avril Lavigne after all. It's Weird Al! And suddenly, the nausea ends. You want it to keep playing. You want to sing along. The terrorist have lost again. You want to celebrate with your fellow man.

Who the crap doesn't like Weird Al? Bad people, that's who. A few years ago there was a petition to have Weird Al perform at the Super Bowl halftime show. Who heard that idea and thought it was a bad idea? Bad people that's who. It needs to happen because Weird Al is awesome.

Here's another surprise. Many of his original songs are awesome in your workout mix.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Day 54 - 101 Days of Awesome

Today I'm going to mention the three-in-one awesome punch in the face of AMC. A movie only station just a few years ago now has three shows on the air that are three of the best on TV, two of them probably among the best shows of all time.

The first is the Walking Dead. I would not include it as a potential best of all time, but it's entertaining as hell.  I'm not a huge zombie movie guy. My favorite is probably Shawn of the Dead, but that has little to do with the zombies. In this format, however, it allows characters to shine brighter than the zombies (or walkers, skin eaters, or biters - never zombies). You get time to get to know the people. And then they die. With some characters, they become the bad guys. The zombies are really the MacGuffin.

The second is Mad Men. I didn't start watching it at first, and it took me some time to get into. Then once Netflix started streaming it, I watched the first four seasons back to back fairly quickly. There really aren't good guys and bad guys in this. There are even more shades of that than the people in the Walking Dead, and in this case it's more subtle and yet more real. I really enjoy watching the historical events of the 60s play out in the background. I almost with there were some way I could justify giving extra credit to students for watching this, as they would get a pretty good idea of one angle on the 60s.

The third is Breaking Bad. It's another one that I didn't watch at first, but I caught up very quickly. Ever season has gotten better and better than the last. Instead of subtle good guys and bad guys, you have one good guy. And over the course of the series, he becomes a bad guy. You watch that transformation happen. It's a much more graceful, natural swing than Anakin had in the Star Wars prequels. Bryan Cranston is absolutely brilliant. He not has earned each Emmy he has won. It's the best performance TV has ever seen.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Day 53 - 101 Days of Awesome

One of my favorite movies of all time is the Iron Giant. One of the biggest travesties of all time is the marketing for that movie. Not nearly enough people saw it in the theaters.

I have showed it in class several times. It does a great job of showing the Cold War paranoia from the 50s. One thing that has encouraged me is the number of students who had seen it before I show it. That means it got out there a bit. But I don't mean a large number have seen it. I would guess about five per class had seen it previously. Another great sign is that none who have seen it before complain when they find out which movie they will see.

It's a fantastic movie. I always get a tear in my eye when the Giant says "Superman" at the very end, as do many others. Of course, I have to acknowledge that the voice actor is Vin Diesel. It's one of the times in my class when the tears shed are intended and encouraged. No comment on the other times.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Day 52 - 101 Days of Awesome

Patton Oswalt is one of the funniest comedians working today. Unfortunately, most people know him for his character on the King of Queens. Luckily, many people also know his from Ratatouille.

Listen to his "Feelin Kinda Patton" album. The video version is replayed on Comedy Central every now and again, but the audio version is even better. There's some great bits about the Gay Pride Parade, Black Angus, TiVo, Dr. Pepper (not the drink), and Pissdrinkers.  Each one of those is brilliant.

My favorite bit of his reinforced a belief I have in my life. Birthdays. You won't find them on this list because no one cares when it's your birthday. They say they do. They post something on your Facebook wall. But they don't. And they shouldn't. So you didn't die for 365 days. Wow. Neither did almost all of the seven billion people in the world. As Patton put is,

 "I'm 26!"
"Great. Go to work. Who gives a shit?"

Listen to the routine here, and then go away on your 33rd birthday.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Day 51 - 101 Days of Awesome

As I looked over my list, I was surprised to see that I had skipped The Beatles. This was a horrible, horrible oversight. At first, one might say, "The fact that you skipped them means they aren't awesome." Some might also say, "The Beatles are overrated." They would be wrong about the first, right about the second, but right for the wrong reason.

I tend to listen to The Beatles in streaks. When I hear a The Beatles tune, it sticks in my ear. I go home and play that album. And them I play another. And another. Keep repeating. And then I hit the point where I overplay them and relax for awhile. But a few months later, the whole process starts itself over again. That's why I initially skipped them.

The Beatles are the biggest band ever. They are the most influential ever. Those are easy statements to make, and they're probably accurate. So yeah, they are overrated. But compared to what? Their music is amazing. It's fun. It holds up.

So what's my favorite The Beatles song? Today maybe it's And Your Bird Can Sing. No, wait. I'm rather enjoying Things We Said Today. While My Guitar Gently Sleeps is great, too. But how can I like those more than You Won't See Me? And then I might hear A Day in the Life. That will be my favorite. Until I hear another song that I like better that day.

And the main reason why The Beatles are awesome is that you can put The in front of their name to make the sentence sound awkward.  Awesome.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Day 50 - 101 Days of Awesome

Every time I sit down to do some work, I like some background noise. Sometimes its music, but I'll often see if there's anything worth checking out on TV. If Seinfeld is on, it will be on my TV. The only problem is that I end up paying more attention to the TV than I do to my work. There are episodes I've seen over and over again, but I don't tire of them. Episodes that I haven't seen in a while bring even more joy.

Perhaps the one thing that really hasn't held up over time is the laugh track. The best shows these days do without. Curb Your Enthusiasm, which is in a way a next generation of Seinfeld, is better for not haven't it. Since a lot of Seinfeld humor is cringe humor, it tends to take away from some scenes. These guys are assholes, as the final episode proved in court. That means it isn't always something a group should laugh at. I'm an asshole, so I should. But groups shouldn't.

Beyond that, the humor holds up quite nicely.  I find there's always a few really good laughs still in each episode, as well as many quotable lines.  It's always fun now when you hear Larry David's voice pop out of nowhere. It's fun to see Bryan Cranston show up in a few episodes pre-Malcolm in the Middle. Seinfeld makes a quite worthy fiftieth day of awesome.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Day 49 - 101 Days of Awesome

When I bust out my guitar to sing a few tunes, this is the version I prefer to sing.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Day 48 - 101 Days of Awesome

Roger Ebert passed away on April 4. He was criticized a lot by people who didn't really like movies. "He doesn't like any good movies," they would say. "He only likes artsy movies."  No. The truth is, he loved movies. He just loved good movies.

It didn't totally sink in with me until I started watching 30-50 movies a year how jaded you can really get by a boring, lousy, seen-it-all-before movie. And some interested special effects just aren't enough to justify it. Most people go to just a few movies a year. They're going less to see that movie than to escape. I get it. Just don't read what the critics have to say, because they're writing for people who want to see good movies.

Roger Ebert wrote for me. And not just movies - his blogs were also great. I posted in this very blog about something he wrote about evolution that made someone like me, a science novice, understand it even better. But when I saw a movie I didn't especially like but he did, he made me see the merit of the movie. I didn't always agree, but I got it.

People seem to enjoy my year end top ten list. Roger Ebert is gone. I don't have that go to critic anymore I can rely on. My list will certainly suffer for it. Rogert Ebert is awesome.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Day 47 - 101 Days of Awesome

I grew up as a comic book nerd. While I only read stuff occasionally these days, I still hold a vast and useless abundance of knowledge of the comic book world, especially the Marvel world. My favorite comic book was always The Fantastic Four.

If one were to attempt to gain the information that I have of the Marvel Universe, such a holy grail that it is, there's one place to start. You have to go to Fantastic Four #1. After all, it is the beginning of Marvel Comics. All of the cornerstones of what makes that universe start there, and the legend builds as the series continues. You learn the origin of my favorite hero, The Thing, as well as that of the greatest villain, Dr. Doom.

Here's the problem I see. Outsiders to the comic book world would be quick to throw out all of my statements. Comic book insiders might agree or disagree, but I woudn't be tossed to the side so quickly. That's because of the recent movies. While the Spider-Man and X-Men movies had a lot of successes (many being very good) and the Avengers movies were all very good, the two FF movies all out sucked.

Having been to the comic cons before it came out, I knew it. The guy who played Dr. Doom, the horribly cast Julian McMahon, gave all the wrong answers. He talked about liking Herbie the Robot from the old cartoon. No. Wrong. Bad. It was all, pun intended, doomed to fail.

I'm hoping that talks of the reboot go in the right direction. Much like Spider-Man and Batman, the FF has a great rogues gallery, which could create some great movie moments. In the meantime, grab some reprints of those early issues. You're gonna have a good time.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Day 46 - 101 Days of Awesome

Bonus - watch them sing this for Graham Chapman's service. Actually, the whole thing is amazing, if not for the fact that Chapman was dead. Watch John Cleese's eulogy.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Day 45 - 101 Days of Awesome

As I sit here writing (on which is totally day 45 and not some day in the future, because that would mean I didn't finish on time and then went back and did it later), I'm enjoying some delicious chocolate truffles. For breakfast. Yesterday, I enjoyed a chocolate bar donut from Safeway. Again, for breakfast.

Aero = Awesome
The breakfast connection is purely coincidental. It's chocolate that is so damn important. Sure, it's keeping my belly a significant size. But it's so delicious. Some of my best memories of trips to Europe involve stopping in to chocolate shops, grabbing a chocolate ice cream (or gelato) cone, or rest stops on bus tours in which we all load up on junk food, mostly chocolate.

If you really want to condemn Columbus for the diseases he brought to America, that's fine. But you must also acknowledge the fact that he also opened the door for later Spaniards to bring chocolate to Europe and mix it with sugar to make its awesomely goodness.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Friday, April 19, 2013

Day 43 - 101 Days of Awesome

When I went to Italy in 2003, I found myself in one of the most amazing, awesome places on Earth. The Cinque Terra.

 It was more of an accident when I was there the first time. I didn't plan the trip extremely well, and ended up with an extra full day in Sienna with not a whole lot to do. So I decided to do a day trip to Pisa and to the Cinque Terra. I took the train up to Pisa and saw the tower. Yep. It's leaning. Then I headed up to spend an hour or so in the Cinque Terra. When I arrived, there was just one thought in my head. "I didn't plan enough time to be here."

It's one of the most beautiful places on Earth. It feels great. It looks great. The food tastes great. You need to spend some time there.  So when I decided to take the Rick Steves' Best of Europe Tour in 2005, it was only that much sweeter that in included two nights there. I spent that full day taking the amazing hike between all five towns. That physically tough hike gave me some of the most rewarding views ever. 

This summer, I'll be back there. This time I'm spending three night. I can't wait to enjoy two full days there. I'll probably repeat much of the hike this time, though not to all five towns. I'm going to do the most amazing parts again. And then I'll spend a day relaxing, probably on the beach and slowly roaming through the towns and grabbing a nice spot to sit and read.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Day 42 - 101 Days of Awesome

With just about two months left of school, that means just about two months left until summer vacation. In an attempt to be physically ready for my vacation, I started another round of Insanity. This workout is awesome.

This workout is appropriately named. I completed a round last year as the new school year began. It kicked my ass every single day. And I finished it. Physically, going through the full nine weeks was a great accomplishment. Mentally, it was probably more difficult.

And now I'm back to do it again. I'm hoping to lose some pounds and some flab, but mostly I was the cardio fitness. I plan to do a lot of walking in Europe this summer. That means wearing a backpack, lots of hills, and tons of stairs. I want to go every single day without running out of steam.

Insanity is probably overkill, but I know that hiking to the top of a bell tower isn't going to destroy me. I finish on June 14th with my final fit test.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Day 41 - 101 Days of Awesome

I am not a Star Wars prequel hater. I watched all of them in the theaters early and often. Could they be better? Very much so. I wish that Episode I had actually been an Episode zero, then I, II, and III could have been about the Clone Wars and Anakin's turn as an adult. But still, I had a whole lot of fun. And it didn't rape my childhood. The original trilogy is still there, and I still love it.

Image by Deviantart user Ionahipri
And that's why I think that the Disney purchase of the entire Star Wars universe is awesome. More Star Wars stuff is great. Taking it out of Lucas's hands is also great. The worst part of the prequels was his dialogue. His ideas are fantastic. His words are not. Let JJ Abrams create a movie. Let some other people get their hands dirty in remote corners of this world. Let's see a Han Solo Solo. Let's watch Baby Yoda and Baby Chewbacca solve crimes while flying around the galaxy in the Centennial Falcon.Bring it on!

And for those thinking that Disney and Star Wars don't go together clearly have never been on Star Tours. I'm looking forward to a few more rides. How about a Tauntaun-Go-Round?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Day 40 - 101 Days of Awesome

This was funny. When I was in high school. A lot of things were funny when I was in high school. Now it's so not funny that it's awesome. Then the bear leaves.

The Nude House of Wacky People from rae on Vimeo.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Day 39 - 101 Days of Awesome

I'm very actively planning my summer vacation, and I'm going to head back to Italy for a few days. I'm thrilled that I have the luxury to throw a few days of Italy into this vacation, even though that wasn't part of the original plan. So what am I looking forward to most? The Gelato.

If you've been to Italy, you're already nodding your head and probably drooling a bit. That's what afternoons and/or after dinner is all about in any Italian city. You walk around with an amazing cone of some of the best ice cream in the world.

So what's the most awesome flavor? I like a scoop of banana and a scoop of chocolate together. It's a frozen banana.

And by the way, if you've ever been told that Gelato is simply the Italian word for ice cream and that they're the same, someone is a liar or ignorant. Here's a pretty good explanation.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Day 38 - 101 Days of Awesome

Long before There's Something About Mary, I discovered Build Me Up Buttercup. It quickly became one of my favorite songs. In college, it became what I often call my favorite song. Like so many favorite songs, it's smothered with memories of emotions. The first few notes are enough to give me goosebumps when I hear it unexpectedly. Take a listen to the awesomeness.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Day 37 - 101 Days of Awesome

Neil deGrasse Tyson is one of the most awesome people on the planet. And he can probably tell you more about every other planet than anyone else.

Guests on the Daily Show can be hit or miss.Neil is never a miss. He's one of those people who you learn something new from every time you hear them speak. He's not only super brilliant but he can explain his ideas to the layman.

His love of science is infectious. When he speaks, I almost want to study science. I don't, but I read more science after watching or listening to something with Neil on it than I normally would. Just listen to him talk about Sir Isaac Newton.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Day 36 - 101 Days of Awesome

I promised yesterday a couple days of delicious burgers. I hope you weren't expecting In-N-Out. I enjoy an a burger from there every now and then, but the crazy cult following is hyper inflated. I follow up Fuddruckers with a delicious Nation's burger.

Nation's cooks up their burgers diner style right behind the counter. You know that they are cooked up when you order them. I order mine with the grilled onions and sliced pickles.They give you plenty of both of those toppings, as well as the rest.

The biggest complaint I usually hear about it is that they put too much dressing on them. To which I reply two things. First, I like the Miracle Whip dressing. Second, you can order it without or light on the dressing. They'll do that. And then you too can enjoy a tasty Nation's Giant Hamburger.

Are there more awesome burgers than Fuddruckers and Nation's? Yes. But not by a whole lot. And when they're consistently awesome at these two places that are both nearby and farther away, that makes them both awesome.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Day 35 - 101 Days of Awesome

I'm not a huge fan of chain restaurants in general, but that's likely because places like Applebees and the Olive Garden give them a bad name. But when I want an awesome burger, I don't feel like I need to go far. Today and tomorrow I'm going to list a couple chains that actually have awesome burgers.

Today it's Fuddruckers. I used to think that it was just the make-it-yourself style that made it work, though that's definitely part of it. I like having exactly the right amount of pickles on my burger (and that's all the pickles).

But still, the burger itself has to be rather tasty. Their regular beef burger is pretty good. Their exotic burgers are even tastier. If you've ever hesitated to try the elk, buffalo, or ostrich, hesitate no longer. They're also healthier.

And I can't ignore the burger buns. They are light, fluffy, and delicious.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Day 34 - 101 Days of Awesome

The Soup is one of my favorite shows. If you want to feel the pulse of America through one of its crappiest arteries, you need to know and understand some of our crappiest TV shows. Watching the Soup for 30 minutes a week takes care of that for you. As they put it, Joel McHale "watches it all for you."

If it weren't for The Soup, I wouldn't know Greg Kelly.

I wouldn't know the Honey Boo Boo's mom, the Human Thumb.

I wouldn't know Donka Doo Balls.

And if you don't know those people, you don't know 'Murica. Watch The Soup.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Day 33 - 101 Days of Awesome

One of my favorite movies released in the past ten years is Once. But that's not the awesome thing for today (even if it is). Even more awesome than the movie is the soundtrack.

I liked the movie when I first saw it, but didn't absolutely love it. I bought the soundtrack and listened to it on my trip to Eastern Europe soon after. As one of the lead characters was from the Czech Republic, I listened to it a few times while I was there. And continued to listen to it for the rest of the trip. And when I got home. And pretty much ever since. It's always on hand in my car and every mp3 player I have. I have probably listened to that more than any of other full album since then.

Here's the best song, followed by my second favorite.


Monday, April 8, 2013

Day 32 - 101 Days of Awesome

My absolute favorite video game series is the Legend of Zelda. I want to take a few posts to feel the awesomeness of a few of those games.

It's likely that my favorite game is Majora's Mask.This game was presented as a direct sequel to The Ocarina of Time. You get lost in the forest and come out in a different world. Except this world has three days to live. After three days, the moon is going to crash into the world killing everyone.

OK, game on.

You don't make it.

That's the difference. You fail at saving the world.

Luckily for you, you still have your trusty Ocarina of Time. You get to jump back in time three days. That's where the game really starts. You figure out how you can save the world, but it's going to take a lot of work. You need to gather some
Made out of nightmares, not cheese.
stuff in order to actually save the world before the moon can crash into it. You then begin your journey through those three days. Over and over again.

During those three days, you start to learn the actions and patterns of the people. They repeat themselves. You turn into the Link version of Groundhog Day. But here's the thing that takes this game to a new level. These people are living tragic lives. That's in addition to their impending doom at the end of the three days.

So sweet.They're going to die, though.
As you continue through the game, you save lives. You rekindle romances. You make people happy. But then you play the Ocarina and go back to day one. Their problems start all over again. You have to choose to continue your journey of saving the world and ignore their problems. By the time you get to the end of the game and finally do save the world, you had to ignore those other problems in order to do so. And that makes the game tragic and sad.

The music is also amazing - it compounds the tragicness and sadness - but that's for a different post.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Day 31 -101 Days of Awesome

Coming back from Washington, DC and getting a heavy dose of history, the American Dream is pretty awesome. With this, I don't mean the greed and materialism that has come out of it. I mean the concept that our Founding Fathers established and that we've revised. It's the still as-of-yet-unobtained ideal for our nation. The concept that eveyone has a chance. Everyone starts on an even playing field, whether they are born here or come here later in life.

As I mentioned before, it hasn't been obtained. Not everyone has an even playing field. We don't play nice with people who arrive here after they are born. And if you're born the wrong race or gender, it's an uphill battle.

But we've been working on that since our country started. One of the themes that I take through my class is that when America began, it was set up for everyone have certain unalienable rights - provided you were a white, land-owning male. And step by step, we've eliminated those three requirement. Legally, at least, and when it comes to voting. Something I was excited for in teaching this new curriculum, 11th grade US History, is that we actually got to eliminate all three barriers.

The first, land-owning, is eliminated around the time Andrew Jackson become president. The second, white, takes the Civil War. And then we have a bit of a hiccup that takes 100 years to overcome. We didn't quite finish that in the eighth grade class because the course ends soon after the Civil War. We end it with Jim Crow in place and women still without the vote.Since we're (theoretically) going up to the present in the 11th grade curriculum, I get to teach it all.

And yet it isn't finished. Somehow, there are STILL people today trying to limit voting rights. This is yet another reason to teach history. We're going through another civil rights movement in regards to gay rights. Education and job opportunities aren't equal for all communities, and those are usually distinguished by race.

But I know history. And that gives me optimism for the future. These ideals are growing. We can get there. I just hope the American Empire doesn't fall before it happens. But if we can hold on to this country, we stand a chance. In the immortal words of Trey Parker and Matt Stone, "America - Fuck Yeah!"

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Day 30 - 101 Days of Awesome

It's a pretty great memorial. Well done.