Feb 27 2015

chromatical book stacking

Dr Ray Stantz: “Symmetrical book stacking. Just like the Philadelphia mass turbulence of 1947.”
Dr. Peter Venkman: “You’re right, no human being would stack books like this.”
–Ghostbusters, 1984

Last Saturday Heather and I went to Excelsior Springs to kick around some antique shops and flea markets. We have found in our travels that you can categorize these shops in one of the following:

  1. Antique Shops–they have antiques, and sometimes other random things.
  2. The Savoy–they have antiques, and usually have names that are prefixed with ‘The’–The Blackthorn, The Pristine. These places are very expensive.
  3. Flea Markets–a little bit of everything, priced anywhere from bargains to way too much
  4. Junk shops–the prices don’t even matter, the place is full of junk

One of the places we went to was large and full of stuff, but another shopkeeper had given us the heads up that we should expect some “hoarder tendencies.” Turns out he was right–it was a junk shop extraordinaire. There were several rooms entirely sorted by color and material: teacup room, blue glass room, red glass room, white glass room, wood and brass room.

As we neared the end of our tour of this shop, I was, naturally, drawn to the books. At first. Then I decided I didn’t really want to sort through them. Now, there are different ways of sorting books: Dewey Decimal, Library of Congress, alphabetical by title, author, or genre. But this was entirely new to me:


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I have often wandered into a bookstore and the owner is like, “What can I help you with?” And I’m like, ya know, I’m kind of looking for something…orange to read.”

 

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Aug 17 2014

Review: Would It Kill You To Smile?

51VXRM8GN1LI didn’t even make it through the first two chapters.

The characters and their relationships to the narrator are hard to keep track of, and the book might just have the most unlikeable protagonist since Drumline. I paid a quarter for the book, and sadly, I overpaid.

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May 1 2014

Taqueria Monarca

Taqueria Monarca is a food truck found on the 2400 block of Holmes street in Kansas City, Missouri weekdays at lunchtime. They serve tacos, burritos, tostadas and other Mexican food with your choice of meats including steak, beef, pork, chicken, chorizo, tripe, and tongue.

I have tied their tacos, which are very good, but I normally get their tostada, which is only $3 and is usually enough food for me. I highly recommend the asada tostada.

Link to their Facebook page.

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Apr 1 2014

Quotable: Denny Burk on Noah

“As far as midrash is concerned, Noah is the midrashiest midrash that ever was midrashed.”

–Denny Burk from his review of Russell Crowe’s Noah, via Challies.com

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Feb 21 2014

Guss’ Pickles: best pickles ever

20140210-101209.jpgI found these in the cooler at my local Walmart out in the sticks. They are easily the best pickles I have ever had, better than Clausen, Vlasic, Heinz, anybody. All that stuff in the bottom is garlic and pickling spices. Guss’ pickles are nice and crisp and cucumber-colored instead of being dyed artificial yellow-green. Unfortunately a jar of these pickles runs about $4, so I don’t buy them all the time. Still–you need ’em.

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Sep 25 2013

I’m a big kid! $#%+!

I recently attended the freshman showcase for my daughter’s theater department at college. Most all of the incoming freshmen and transfer students performed a monologue, a song, or dance number. There were several good performances, and a few amazing ones.

Sadly there were a few that appeared to be the performer’s attempt to prove that they were grown-up and not at all a kid fresh out of high school. Clearly the only way to do this is to say $#%+!, frequently and loudly. In case you did not have a chance to perform, an alternative method to prove true grown-upitude was to write it on the poster you prepared to introduce yourself to attendees. As expected, punctuating an otherwise semi-interesting monologue with $#%+ made it amazingly interesting. Similarly, inserting $#%+! onto a shoddily prepared poster completely distracts from poor preparation and craftsmanship.

Instead of coming across as more grown-up, it comes across rather like this:

spongepipe3

 

 

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Jun 19 2013

Review: NoteMaster

stacks_image_673_1NoteMaster is a note-taking app for iOS. I switched to it after trying out various note-taking apps, and not really loving any of them. I love this app.

I had been using Apple’s native Notes app for years, but I was running into limitations–there was no way to do bold, indent, make bulleted lists, and it only synced with iCloud, which is of no use to me due to the age of my Macs at home.

notemasterNoteMaster allows you to quickly and simply insert bold headings, bulleted/numbered/check box lists, and even insert pictures. Notes are saved as a .docx file so you can open them in Microsoft Word. The app is beautiful and easy to use. The documentation for how to use the app is included as NoteMaster-created documents. The app also includes several templates/themes so you can change the look of each document.

One of he best features is that it syncs absolutely beautifully seamlessly with Dropbox. The free version lets you create up to seven notes, and the full version is only $3.99.

Here is the link to the developer page.

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Nov 10 2012

Review: China Dragon

While on vacation we tried out a Chinese restaurant my brother recommended, China Dragon in Concordia, Missouri. It’s a little place on the main drag—restaurant only, no buffet.

The Food
The food was very good, and the portions are large. I don’t know about you, but I’m picky about my favorite dish, pork lo-mein. Some places have those thin, round, ramen-style noodles, and other places have those nasty, wide, flat noodles. This place has neither–they have what they call ‘soft noodles’ which are very nice (aren’t all noodles soft once you cook them?). Anyway, they are round and fat, like Americans. The General Tso’s chicken was very good–lots of chicken, not a lot of coating (there are some restaurants that have lots of coating and not a lot of chicken). The crab rangoon is literally packed as full as it can be, the egg rolls are great, and the egg drop soup is wonderful. I just really can’t say enough good things about China Dragon’s food. In my opinion the lo-mein could be greasier, but that’s a personal preference*.

The Service
The entire restaurant is served by the owner / waitress, Tina (her husband is the cook). Tina is friendly, bubbly, and just so darn nice she makes it very difficult not to eat there every night.

The Prices
It’s pretty inexpensive to eat there, and we have always had food to bring home.

Conclusion
Just go, man. Don’t believe me? Try these other reviews; my favorite is the one that says ‘GET OFF THE INTERSTATE NOW.’ Tell Tina her brother and sister from Higginsville sent ya.

[mappress mapid=”2″]

* I have a wonderful memory of leaving an entertainment venue late at night one November long ago and then eating leftover greasy lo-mein sans utensils. Mmmmm.

 

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Jul 10 2012

Review: Brave

We saw Pixar’s Brave last weekend. It was OK.

I didn’t love or hate the movie; it was just fine. Really, it just seemed like pretty much every other Disney princess movie: I’m a young princess, I don’t want to do any thing I don’t feel like doing, I am willing to do bad things to keep from doing it, I don’t care about the consequences, etc. Our princess does learn a lesson, but it doesn’t really change much of the course of the movie–only a small consequence at the very end; in every other way, she gets what she wanted. By comparison, look at Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark in Iron Man, who learns the most significant lesson early in the movie, changing the course of his entire life as you had seen it to that point.

I really wanted to like our heroine, but if she was my daughter I wouldn’t like her very much (but then, I didn’t really like her parents in the film either).

The film is visually gorgeous, and it is humorous at times. The rest of the characters are fine, but I didn’t find myself caring about them a great deal.  I liked much of the music, but didn’t love it. Overall, I would say you could wait until it hits DVD.

Best part? The short film La Luna that precedes the movie, which was beautiful and imaginative.

I hate saying it, but Brave replaces A Bug’s Life as my least favorite Pixar film. Favorites? Up, The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Toy Story 1 & 2.

 

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Apr 16 2012

Review: Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

Nostalgia

You know how you have fond memories of a TV show or movie from when you were young, and when you finally get to see it again as an adult (or in this case, older adult), it isn’t quite how you remembered it? Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s amazing, but some other times, well, not that good. Or awful.

One of the first non-animated movies we got for the girls when they were little was The Goonies; Heather and I both loved that movie. When we sat down to watch it, it was every bit as awesome as we remember (well, maybe not every bit–back then I still held out hope of finding underground passages, booby traps, waterslides, and hidden pirate ships). But there was something neither of us remembered: profanity–and a whole $@#&! lot of it.

Some other memories haven’t fared so well, either. A couple years ago I found Bravestarr on Hulu. If you haven’t seen it, it was a cartoon that was basically a sci-fi western. It was awesome when I was 14. When I watched it recently, the animation and draftsmanship were still amazing, but what else would you expect from Filmation? Everything else, though, was absolutely awful. For so long Heather wanted Greatest American Hero on DVD. We never got it for her, getting her Dukes of Hazzard and MacGyver instead, but she finally found GAH on Netflix. She didn’t even make it through the first episode.

Glory Days

Back on topic. The year was 1991. I was in summer classes at CMSU (now UCM), taking Dr. Sample’s Drawing II (three hours a day, three days a week) and Dr. Leuhrman’s Watercolor I (four hours a day, five days a week). I absolutely loved my watercolor class. It was one of the few classes where I actually tried hard to learn, tried to please my instructor, and begged for honest critiques (unlike pretty much every other art class). I only remember a few people from class: Dr. Leuhrman, the instructor, who always wore whites and pastels, and never got a drop of paint on him; some big guy, whose name I can’t remember, but who had a giant mane of jet black hair, a jawline beard, and was one of the few people in art school that made me insanely jealous of his ability; a girl named Ashley; and a cheery young woman named Elsa, whom I would later name my firstborn after. The big hits that summer were Wind of Change by the Scorpions, and Bryan Adams’s Everything I Do, from the summer blockbuster Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.

I think it was Wilxn , or maybe Wayne, who was with me when I saw the trailer for RHPOT (at the AMC theater inside Bannister Mall…remember Bannister Mall? Back before it went all skeevy and they tore it down?). Wilxn and I went to see it in the theater that summer. It was amazing. I think that was the day we went to the Swap Shop, saw two movies (the other one, I believe, was Mel Gibson’s Hamlet), and probably went just looking around for stuff. We got home late (when didn’t we?), and that was when we realized it really was possible to do too much stuff in one day.

Back to the movie–easily my favorite movie of the whole summer.

Back to the Present

Later I saw it a couple of times on VHS. I know I saw it once with Noodles, whose favorite line was at almost the end of the movie: “Reckanize this?”

A couple weeks ago I picked up a copy of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves on DVD. I have had Michael Kamen’s amazing soundtrack for years, but I hadn’t seen the movie in at least 17 years. Last night while I was working on a case for my new Bible I popped the movie in.

It was terrible.

The movie is so hammy, so goofy, and what I believe to be unintentionally campy it’s hard to believe I enjoyed it as a serious adventure flick. I’m not going to say anything about the movie’s most frequent complaint–Kevin Costner’s accent–because it didn’t bother me then and it didn’t bother me now.

Alan Rickman, who is awesome, chews scenery with the power of a thousand suns. His inflections in so many scenes are so funny, it almost seems like Kevin Reynolds (the director) told him, ‘Hey Alan, can you play the Sheriff of Nottingham kind of like Peter Ustinov played Prince John in Disney’s Robin Hood? That’d be great.’ Rickman’s Sheriff doesn’t just say ‘spoon,’ he says ‘speeooon!’

Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, whom I remember being very pretty, um, I did not now think was very pretty (of course, all women are less pretty after being married to Heather).

Morgan Freeman was awesome as Azeem. One of my favorite parts of the movie, both as a young buck and now, was the part where Mortiana the witch busts in and and tries to impale Robin, and then Azeem busts in and throws that gigantic scimitar across the entire screen. I remember it caught Wilxn and me so off-guard I think we literally yelled in the theater. I guess we’re the kind of guys that Shakespeare had to make comedy relief for, for fear we’d jump up and stab an actor. Whatever. Lincoln would back me up on this.

Everyone else was fine, whatever. The movie’s real weakness is the goofy script and hammy directing.

Best part of the entire movie, then and now: the late Michael Kamen’s amazing score (he also did the incredible score for Hudson Hawk). For those of you who don’t think you could pick out anything from the soundtrack aside from Bryan Adams’s Everything I Do, I guarantee you have heard it, usually when you hear  that amazing fanfare accompanying the Magic Kingdom logo at the beginnings of a number of Disney movies.

The DVD Itself

The RHPOT DVD itself, well, is amazingly bad. You actually have to flip the disc over in the middle of the movie. This isn’t like Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring, where the movie is so amazingly long that it literally won’t fit on a single disc, but the producers of the DVD realized this and made an elegant transition for you to get some more popcorn, go to the bathroom, come back and pop in the second disc. With Robin Hood, the disc-flip happens mid-scene.

For those of you out there who want to get into DVD production but you think your low IQ or lack of skill might keep you from realizing your dream, there is hope.

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