Monday, November 30, 2009

Holiday Decorating... Time Lapse Photography Edition.

Check out this awesome time-lapse of my brother putting up his Christmas tree.  Unfortunately you actually have to go to his blogish thing to check it out as I can't figure out how to post videos with the new blogger editor, I seem to remember that I could do this in the old editor. 

He set up his camera to take a picture every 20 seconds. 

When you get to hi blog, click on the title Christmas Tree, then you will see this:It was totally worth it wasn't it?

Notice all of the trouble that his little guy gets into while they are doing this.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Brig Poll - Week 14. The Unbeatens Take a Severe Beating Despite Wins.

The weekly Brig Poll is out.  Alabama holding strong at #1 with Texas keeping up at #2, Florida trailing, and the Buckeyes surprisingly not falling much despite not playing this weekend.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving... Stuff I'm Grateful For!

I thought I would run down the stuff I'm grateful for, stuff that makes me feel like Sugar Ray Robinson looks!.  These are not in any particular order, that would take effort:

1.  Bonus Fries
2.  "Punk Rock Girl" by the Dead Milkmen
3.  3 sons that love "Punk Rock Girl" by the Dead Milkmen
4.  Wife's cute disapproving scowl every night when the boys and I jam out to "Punk Rock Girl" by the Dead Milkmen
5.  5 Guys Burgers & Fries and their corporate and cultural commitment to Bonus Fries
6.  Memories of being in good shape
7.  Aftershave that meets my 3 mandatory criteria: 1. Comes in a really cool glass bottle 2. Smells good 3.  Makes my face sing...  Thank You Prada!
8.  800 Thread Count sheets.
9.  Diploma from The Ohio State University
10.  Orange Chicken, even the terrible stuff at my local Chinese Take-Out place.
11.  Twin #1's sloppy kisses and shoulder drooling
12.  Twin # Trouble's bear hugs
13.  Little Guy's Super Duper Run and Jump hugs
14.  "Balboa" Beans
15.  50 - 110% 6 month stock returns, compliments of Anticitrade
16.  Wall Street journal locking me out of the mobile iPhone addition, wait, NOT grateful for that at all.
17.  The soon to be released (so Little Guy tells me) the Porsche Carrera GT Ferrari R8 Audi 9963 Super Lamborghini Corvette Gallardo Type R.
18.  Jack and Coke Diet Coke
19.  The US Industrial Chemical Science Complex that keeps Wife's hair blond
20.  My Crew (Pictured Left)

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Maaaaaaaaaaaan Doooowwwwwnnnn...!!! and Brig No Longer Resembles Dukakis.

Our nighttime/morning routine has changed quite a bit ever since the daylight savings change.  Now everybody's schedules are jacked up.

The little guys are all going to bed around 7, which means we have an entire evening of quiet bliss to enjoy, and for the most part, they are all sleeping in pretty well in the morning.

This morning was quite a shock however.  Usually we are awaken by the crying and screaming of one of the twins, today however was quite different.

The Twins were standing in their cribs yelling (and NOT in obnoxious way) "Maaaaaaaaaaaan Doooowwwwwnnnn...!!! (Man Down).

Now "Man Down" is what we yell when we are ready to get the little guys out of the tub.  It is basically our beacon call to tell Wife to hurry up and get downstairs with pajamas, because heaven only knows what takes so long to walk up a flight of stairs, grab a couple of the footie pajama things and walk back down.

The twins have been saying "Man Down for a couple for months now, but it is only recently they have been using it to mean pick me up, or get me out of my high chair. 

This morning it was a clear signal to mean, "We are done sleeping and we want to get out."

Wife had to get a pic of the efficient way that I carry the boys down the stairs in the morning.  I figure they spent "OOOOOOOOUUUUCH!"  Holy Crap!  Some lady, as I'm blogging, comes into my office and accosts my eyebrows with a pair of tweezers.

No joke, her excuse was, "wow, check out these new tweezers, they are sweet aren't they?"  No, they are not sweet, that hurt!

I forgot where I was, but you get the point.  Cute kids, probably wearing coordinated outfits even though they are fraternal, and nobody knows why the 3 year old has to coordinate, oh yeah, and 4 mutant eyebrow hairs not being donated to Sinead O'Connor. 

If you have any questions, you can direct them to the comments section.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Brig Poll - Week 13. W/O a Big 10 Championship Game, Buckeyes Will Watch from the Sidelines.

In this weeks edition of Brig's Blog, the Definitive NCAA Div. 1 College Football Poll, the Brig Poll shows Texas pulling ahead of the pack.

Alabama keeps advancing on the strength of the teams they have beaten this season, even though they attained no additional points of their own for beating a non-division 1 school.

Ohio State keeps holding strong but will be overlooked for the championship game because Texas will play the winner of the Alabama - Florida matchup.

Whoever wins the Florida-Alabama game is going to be in a strong lead in this poll and I don't think that Ohio State is going to keep its place in the rankings due to its short season.  Schools winning a conference championship game rightly receive additional strength of schedule points because they are playing "another" game in addition to playing a team with a high win %.

The "other" un-beatens are still very low on my poll because they have not played a significant # of schools with a significant # of wins.  I would no expect any of them to catch up in the last 2 weeks of this pre-bowl game season, even though the "voters" are giving them "courtesy votes" in order to prop up their cash machine only to shoot themselves in the foot because they will inevitably vote against them for good bowl games appearing like hypocrites yet again.

Lets continue to raise our voices for a playoff (merely increasing the number of college football games we get to watch each season (because a DVR full of games still isn't enough), but until then, a non-biased ranking system like the Brig Poll should be used forcing teams to schedule the hardest schedule possible if they want to prove that they are the best team in Division 1 college Football.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Bee Gees Barry Gibb Robs Jack Lantern at Knife Point!

I never got a chance to write about The Great Pumpkin Carving Extravaganza of 2009, so I thought "a little late than never" and besides, it is not even Thanksgiving yet.

I love to carve pumpkins.  It is that one time a year when I get to pull out "The Balboa Knife" for a reason other than 'just because I can.'  I guess I should probably explain, so that our family inside joke can go public.

The "Balboa" Knife (Balboa is my internet last name) is what WIFE calls my Buck Model 119, it is a basic hunting knife with no special modifications or exceptional value whatsoever.  However, if you know anything about the "Balboas", you will know that they are near fanatical about their knives.

It does not matter what the occasion, if you need a knife and you are near a "Balboa", beware that when you ask if anyone has a knife, you may feel like you are in 1970's Harlem walking down the street holding a gold brick because all of a sudden you are going to be surrounded by a group guys wielding knives. I set the scene in the 1970s because my fondest memories of my dad's brothers remind me most of the Bee Gees.

No joke, I could probably produce a photo next week that looks almost exactly like the one you see here, except it would have all of the "Balboa" boys in it.  Don't get me wrong, I think the world of my uncles, but I honestly do a double take every time I see a picture of Barry Gibb and have to remind myself that it is neither my Uncle Rick, nor my uncle Chuck.

I am actually pretty jealous because I look more like Joe Dirt than Grizzly Adams when I try to grow a beard.

However, I took Stephanie to Christmas at my Grandparent's house a few years ago, and when she saw the plethora of cutting instruments available for use around the Christmas tree (totally necessary because of the way Grandpa wrapped gifts), she instantly had a new name for my knife, The "Balboa" Knife.

The carving went exceptionally well, we strapped down the twins to keep them out of trouble, but let Little Guy hollow out a pumpkin, and he did a pretty good job.  Then he had to use the iPhone Jack-o-Lantern app to pick his eyes, nose and mouth for me to carve into his pumpkin, and yes, there is an APP for that!  WIFE scooped out the rest of the pumpkins and I went to town carving.

To make things a little easier and more precise, I used a Dremel to do my rough cuts into the pumpkins, even though I did finish work with the "Balboa" Knife.  That may sound like cheating, but I did do all of my drawings on the pumpkins free-hand as opposed to using a stencil like the real cheaters out there.

Actually a lot of the stencils appear to have elevated the quality of pumpkin carving, and will probably go down in history as one of the great inventions of all time, next to the genetically modified seedless pumpkins that will just be grown with a pre-carved Jack-o-Lantern faces.  That will be a sad day, but we all know it is coming so we might as well just get used to the idea now.

All in all the pumpkins turned out really nice.  I wish I had a really good night shot of these, as they had a really nice glow to them on the front porch.

I thought I would have a lot more time to take pictures of them, but here in Texas pumpkins rot fast, last year our pumpkins lasted almost a month, these barely made it 4 days.

How did your pumpkin carving go?  In your stories, be sure to change your last name to protect the innocent, or WIFE is going to bust you up like a juiced up Russian Boxer in a classic American rags to riches to rags again series of films.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Cheap or Just Practical? Toddler Hair-Cut Edition.

It never ceases to amaze me what people are willing to pay for these days.  Infants are rollin' Ralph Lauren and often Prada, toddlers are tech-savy iPhone users and school kids have business class laptops at their disposal.

Is there no place to turn to save a couple of dollars to fund our children's American Dream of moving into a 5000sq ft. house with a 4 car garage full of Italian and German Supercars within 2 weeks of graduating from 8th grade? 

I think I have found it, do it yourself haircuts.  Most of our parents would never have dreamed of taking a 3 year-old to a stylist, maybe a hack-job barber, but Toni and Guy is a little over the top.

The other place I have found to save money is rather than paying a professional photographer to take pictures of you saving money by cutting your kids hair, is to just roll the dice and hire the nearest available 3 year old to do the job. 

Little Guy did a pretty good job with the camera.

So both of the twins got haircuts, and they both took it pretty well.  Especially after I fashioned a straight-jacket out of a long sleeve t-shirt just to make sure they couldn't go crazy as I wanted to do some scissor work, just to kick up the quality a notch.

Maybe I'm biased, but these are cute little kids.  I'm just sayin'.

So what to do next to save some cash?  Potty train the twins at 18 months?  that would save a ton of cash in diapers.

But I am thinking maybe cloth diapers, and not get them through a service either, that is a total rip-off.  I am thinking maybe re-purpose the straight-jackets.  I mean I can hose off an old t-shirt in the backyard as easily as anyone.  eeeww.

I doubt that will go over as well as haircuts, but I'll keep you posted.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Brig Poll - Week 12. What is a Corrupt SEC Referee to Do?

There was a lot of exciting action in College Football this week [read: Buckeyes Win!].  However you would be hard pressed to see that if you merely looked at the polls.  Nobody moved in the top 8 in the BCS or AP Top 25 polls.

The Brig Poll however saw quite a bit of movement reflecting not just what commentators "want" to see happen on the field, but what actually happened on the field.

This week was a real problem for the BCS.  The polls put 3 non-BCS schools in the top 6, and after Alabama plays Florida in the SEC championship game, one of them is going to bounce.  The voters have set up this 1-2 game purposely as Florida hasn’t really played anyone of quality this season, and will likely get dismantled by Alabama, but it makes for good TV ratings. 

My only question for this matchup is:  Who will the “Referees” pull for  Alabama or Florida?

Anyway, here again is my non-biased definitive NCAA D1 College Football Poll for this week:

Holiday Cheer With a Side of Pillows and a Haircut.

So it looks like it's that time of year again.  Yeah, you guessed it, it is that time of year when we start to think about Christmas earlier than we did last year.

Some ridicule the commercialization of Christmas, and the retail roll-out of Christmas stuff a mere minutes after the cute little ghosts and goblins that raided our annual candy baskets finally came down off their Type 2 Diabetes inducing sugar highs of Halloween.

I, however, embrace this ever-earlier start to the Holiday Season.  In fact, I can't wait until the Easter Bunny is wearing a Santa hat and we stuff the Turkey with a ham (instead of a duck and then a chicken) and hand out Pre-Halloween candy  Fried Fish on Good Friday Night to kids dressed up like Pilgrims and Indians and Turkeys (you know that lady from Jon and Kate + 8, the back of her hair looks like the back end of a turkey).

So it was no surprise to find me listening to my John Denver Christmas station on Pandora Radio last night while making new Christmas-inspired cushion covers for the living room, which turned out really well despite the fact that I broke my last needle and had to watch the Penn State game until the wife came home with reinforcements, sad I know.

But just in case you really care about the pillows, I posted a pic of them below somewhere.  I highly recommend recovering throw-cushions as a cheap way to spice up a boring room.

Making them yourself is really easy, even if you put in a zipper like I do, because I hate making them permanent as the most expensive part of making throw-cushions are the cushion inserts.

We decided to only do 4 of our 7 cushions on the couch, so we just needed 2 1/3 yards of fabric, 4 zippers and a spool of thread.

I decided I wanted to do red velvet pillows, not because of Christmas as much as they remind me of red-velvet cake, and that is a visual that I can relish for a long time, that stuff will kill you, but at least your death will be sweet and savory.

Rather than just a velvet though,  Stephanie found this really luxurious red velvet corduroy, I think they turned out really nice.  I did get lazy though and didn't even pull off the old covers, just slapped the new ones right over the top.  In a few years these things are going to be like those Russian stacking box things.

After looking at this picture, it is kind of underwhelming, maybe we need to add something here, maybe like a climbing wall instead of the gallery portraits of the kids in the background, I don't know, just something.  I bet Mason would say that the room is missing an Aston Martin DB9 R8 Audi Roadster 9963 Porsche Carrera Faster Turbo.  I might tend to agree.

Oh, and just for those that care, check out my little guys before church this morning after I gave the twins their FIRST-EVER haircut (little chunks of Twin #1s super curly strawberry-blond hair will be for sale on my Etsy site later this week.  Which gives me an awesome idea.  I'll tell you about it later, just know that I am a genius.

The best thing about this pick is not the cute little mongrels posing for it, it is the way their mom dressed them.  Little Guy is rolling some Andrew Fezza that Stephanie picked up at our new Nordstrom Rack yesterday.  Little Guy started to look like The Hulk in his last Sunday shirt so we had to upgrade him (ugh!!!  I hate buying stuff after Halloween for the kids and having to give it to them before Christmas) and the tie that came with this ensemble is pretty spectacular.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Signed. Sealed. Delivered.

I wanted to send out a Congratulations to my recent Diaper/Wipes Case Giveaway winner and post a pic of the winnings.

Since the case I was planning to give away was actually a screw-up as detailed in a previous post, I threw in a couple of extras just for good measure, as I knew they would find good homes and good use.

It was a screw-up only in the sense that I thought that it was going to end up Pink and White Polka-Dots on the outside and Grey on the inside.  When I finally finished with it and turned it inside out, it came out backwards.  It's still pretty nice, but not exactly what I was looking for at the time it was made.

I've gotten a few requests for these from some of my other readers, so stay tuned for some pictures of how those are going to turn out, you never know, I may just decide to give-away a few more of these or do a diaper bag give-away next, although I am thinking more along the lines of a double rope bag for my readers that double as climbers.  [Randy, I was looking at some 330gms wool at Harrisons of Edinburgh so we may have to do a suit giveaway at some point. Harrisons is in Exeter, so when you are in London, we may have to check this out]

I'll keep you posted!  Thanks again for reading and congrats to the winner/s!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Brig Poll - Week 11... Florida Not as Good As Projected.

Here is this week's poll.  This week was devastating for many teams, not necessarily for their individual performance on the field, but for their strength of schedule. 

I thought that Texas was going to take a beating in the poll this week, but some of the other games were far worse for teams in or around the top 10.

The big surprise this week is Iowa, even after their loss remains #2.  Although many used their loss as a way to get them out of the top 10 and let a couple of 2 loss schools in, the numbers do not lie.

Florida dropped as its strength of schedule wanes a bit late in the season.

This next week should be another breakout week for many teams that continue to win but their value will be mainly on how well their past opponents are doing in their respective schedules.  Everybody loves strength of schedule, but many have selective memory of what games should count and which ones shouldn't.

I had a discussion this week with one of my readers about what about looking to the future to do the rankings, maybe a quarterback was injured, and the team should not be penalized for that in the polls.  Or maybe a close game loss with another good team should not count against them.  To those fortune tellers I say good luck, I can only rank based on what happens on the field.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Inner Punk and President.

Many of you know about my life long fascination with all things Punk.  As you can see from my blog banner, I have a fondness for the skull and crossbones, not because of some ethereal netherworld connection, but because of the continued personal battle between conservative normality and my high-school counter culture nostalgia.
As a skater, the "threat of pain" and "actual pain" has always been a present force weighing on me.  Punk is the genre that explained that pain. 

The years spent sitting on concrete steps watching friends smith-grind handrails and crash with force on the asphalt below were set to the musical angst of a generation of punks.  The Misfits, Fugazi, The Ramones, and The Dead Milkmen, all contributing to a movement that many of us still embrace in our hearts, while condemning it with our present reconciliation with society outside of the shadows and parking lots.

We wear ties to the mall, but we always walk into the shops with with the Minor Threat and Ministry T-shirts and wonder what would happen if we just for once, indulged ourselves and bought one to replace the one we lost in college.

My favorite thing about punks, however, is not their music, it is their hair.  It is just that simple.  Punks spend more time on their hair than the most wealthy Wall Street banker, and use more product than Miss America.

I can't remember how long I have have a fascination with Mohawks, I know that nearly every caricature I have drew from the age of 8 to 35 had a mohawk, and if it was in color, it was a green mohawk.  In the vain of going punk, my personal relationship with the mohawk is as close as my ability to play the guitar, which is to say, virtually non-existent.  I can't play, but I would love to, I "can't" have a mohawk, I merely admire them from a distance.

So when I pulled out the axe this week for a little jam session, I started thinking to reminisce.  Little guy loves to play my guitar, and he also loves skulls, that was probably learned.  I got him his first skull and crossbones belt buckle at about 6 months, and he has a vast assortment of Jolly Roger style t-shirts. 

Last night, at Nordstrom's, he found an awesome skull/bones shirt and brought it to me with a beaming smile and asked if he could have it, and it broke my heart to have to put it back because the last thing we need in our house are more T-shirts.

So I started thinking the other night about whether I should encourage this watered-down punk culture or not.  And it really is a tough call, because for 20 years now, I have been waiting and plotting the perfect time to pull out the clippers and give myself a mohawk and now I am plotting to give us both mohawks.  Not sissy fauxhawks, I mean clean shaven on the sides, and sick tall and narrow hawks, just like the photos above.

But what if he decides he likes the look?  What if he decides that the corporate rat race is for the birds and the suckers and wants to spend his life wearing a wallet chain and a nose ring and working at Zumiez at the mall because he isn't really presentable for any other line of work.

I mean when was the last time you saw a punk with enough initiative to do landscaping, let alone run a landscaping company.  Punks don't perform manual labor unless it's welding, and then they just go on to build gnarly raked-out motorcycles

Most of them have logistical problems with hairnets and most of them never make a court appearance wherein they are the person doing the representing, rather than being represented.

So what is a punk to do?  Some burn-out, and most of the rest of us just admire from the sidelines and repress our inner punk but I think a few of them become President of the United States.

Now we all think that President Bush was giving a shout out to the Longhorns, but I am pretty sure that he was signaling to all of the punks out there, that you can be lazy, barely graduate from high school, still get into Yale where you can do nothing but get high, get inducted to Skull & Bones (which is where punk goes yuppie), go to Harvard MBA school, run a few companies into the ground while getting high on coke, watch a few Larry the Cable Guy videos to learn how to fake a southern accent, get elected Governor of Texas and then beat a "faux-caring" hippie in a close race to the White House where you can just appoint the Devil incarnate (according to some commentators and pundits) to be your VP and bomb a bunch of countries back to the stone-age they were already living in anyway.

So rock-on Little Guy, rock-on.

Monday, November 09, 2009

PETA Friendly Vampires and Lame Movie.

So this weekend after watching a Twilight Spoof on Saturday Night Live, I agreed to watch the actual movie.  Aside from being told by a good friend on Facebook that not only did I lose 2 hours of my life that I will never get back, I lost 2 hours of my MANHOOD.  Ouch, but quite possibly true.

I'm not sure that I followed the whole plot, but let me see what I can tell you.

A not-super pretty girl moves to Washington/Oregon somewhere because her mom is hooking up a minor-league baseball player that can't hold a job.  She somehow makes a ton of friends on her first day at school, even though she is not-super-pretty.

Rather than hooking up with the normal kids or even the Indian kid who goes to school on "The Res", she hooks up with some kid that bedazzles his face, but that only shows up when he is in the sunlight, because apparently the inventors of the bedazzler are vampires, or at least vampires are their core demographic market.

Vampire boy lives with a bunch of other vampires, but not this kind of vampire (left) they are more like this kind of vampire (left-below).  Basically not your garden variety vampire (that was supposed to be funny).

So then garden variety vampire smells her as the PETA friendly vampires are playing baseball, then a nationwide chase begins as bad vampire wants to eat not-hot-chick.

To sum up, good vampires save human girl from bad vampires even though none of the vampires have fangs.

1.  This is too much crappy drama without any of the classic vampire suspense.
2.  What the crap is a vegetarian vampire, and why would I want to watch a movie about them?
3.  I could have made this movie on my iPhone, apparently no editing was required.
4.  Most of the music was terrible and did not flow with the film.

If you watched this move more than 5 times voluntarily, please leave me some comments about why.  I don't get it.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Definitive NCAA Div 1 Football Poll... Now Discuss Amongst Yourselves.

I have decided to grace each of you with the definitive college football rankings based on my 4 tier strength of schedule, non-biased proprietary ranking algorithm.  When you look at the games actually played on the field this year you will find that this ranking system is nearly flawless.

Other ranking systems add in significant biases depending on conference, margin of victory and other meaningless statistics needed to ensure that USC and Oklahoma can play each other every year in perpetuity in the Bowl Championship Series National Championship Game.  They consider hypothetical match-ups and make inferences based on games not yet played but assume the results in their polling.

As we saw last year, ranking were arbitrarily based on who was going to play who the next week, and ranking those 2 teams in the top 5 made a significant difference in the viewership of that game, not a data point that should be used in determining champions in a system lacking a play-off.

So here it is, please discuss in the comments section about why you think this system should not be used to determine the Bowl Games this year, I expect some comments from the "Men of the Scarlet and Gray" on this one..  Enjoy!

I’ll take a Capitalistic Economic System, Hold the Capital.

What happens when you want to support the free flow of capital, and yet you have no capital to flow?  Some of us have to find this out the hard way.

Every day in America we face economic choices.  Where do I put my money?  Should I save it, should I spend it, or should I invest it in someone that I believe can invest it in people and equipment and ideas that will turn my capital into multiples of my original investment?

Do I finance medical school/law school/rodeo clown school hoping that I will be able to realize a return on that investment of many times its cost?

Most of us just spend our capital, hoping that the joy we receive from consuming the output of the Chinese manufacturing sector will exceed the cost of whatever cheap plastic do-dad we have just purchased.  In fact until this year, we routinely spent more than we made generating a negative savings rate as a country, which is why we constantly have to guilt the Chinese into financing our Chinese import purchases.  In essence we are paying interest to the same people we are buying from, even if we pay cash.

Little Guy learned this lesson the hard way a few weeks ago.  We were shopping for something we probably didn’t need, and Little Guy found a 5 pack of Hummers.  There was the classic H2, and H3, and a couple of Hummers that just looked made up, it was a 5 pack, it needed 5 cars, what was the manufacturer to do, just put 2 cars in it?  Ridiculous, that is what American public schools would have you believe, you can just hope for 5 cars, and maybe it will happen with the help of candle-light vigils and unicorns.

So, he asked me if he could have it.  Seeing that the morons couldn’t even put in the Original HUMVEE, or H1 as it is commonly known, I said “no”.  Now don’t get all Debbie-downer on me, he got a new Ford GT a couple days before, so he was pretty set for the week.

Not one to take “no” for an answer, he promptly told me, “Fine, I am going to buy it myself!”  No joke, those were his exact words.  So I said, “Fine, good luck with that.”  I merely expected some whining and running to Wife to ask her to buy it after telling her that I said it was ok, but he marched his bad little self up to the check-out line and waited for his turn at the register.

I must have looked really creepy as I hid behind a rack of clothes and just watched him to see what he would do.  He stood there defiantly, and even got mad as some lady cut in line in front of him, probably thinking that he belonged to the lady paying in front of him, otherwise he didn’t flinch.

I had no idea what he thought he was going to do when he got to the front of the line.  I didn’t get to find out either as Wife came around the corner and caught his attention and asked what he was doing.  I think he might have actually put the cars up on the counter and tried to pay with smiles.

You know, the same way we are going to pay for Universal Healthcare.


Wednesday, November 04, 2009

G.I. Joe Total Flop…Was Childhood Really This Lame?

What a total disappointment.  G.I. Joe was one of the worst movies I have seen in a long time, and that includes “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past” and “You, Me and Dupree.”  I totally missed out seeing GI JOE in the theatre, even when it was at the Dollar Theatre last week near our house.  Now I am not sure that was such a big deal.

When I was a kid, G.I. Joe was all the rage.  Blue lasers for the good guys, the guys defending America and the world, and red lasers for the bad guys, the commie loving Cobra and his army of cyborgesque fighters intent on destroying the world for no other reason than “what else are they going to do, be gardeners?”

So I thought that this movie would be at least OK.  The beginning was really cool.  I love back-stories.  My marriage has strained several times under the weight of my need to watch movies with the Directors Commentary playing because I have an insatiable need to know what the director was thinking when he hired his dad to write the score for the movie, when his dad was a nobody, and then somehow scored and Oscar for best original score.

I want to know how you became evil, because you were born like every other little kid, you ate Cheerios at church so your parents could keep you from screaming, pooped your diapers and even played dress-up in your mom’s high heels, hardly what you would believe could spawn a life of global domination and universal mayhem.

Maybe in their youth, all of the great conquerors wring their hands together while flashing mischievous grins and making growling noises.

Twin #1:  "What are we going to do today Twin # Mischevious?"

Twin # Mischevious:  "The same thing we do every day, try to take over the world!"

But despite the 30 seconds of really cool back-story of a double dealing arms salesman set in Pre-Industrial France, the movie was so devoid of substance that I dozed off at least 5 times.  The actions sequences alone could not get me to care about your Sean Connery “The Rock” rip-off green plasma rocket looking thing that will end humanity as we know it.

And sorry ladies, even though we like watching chicks in thigh-high leather boots shooting guns, you are not supposed to be the main characters in a film meant to pique the nostalgia of 30-45 year-old men, and subconsciously convince them to go out and buy 2 of every G.I. Joe action figure and machine, 1 to give to their sons, and the other to keep for ourselves as a memory of simpler times where nuance was not as important and when we didn’t have to pretend that communism isn’t really communism it is just making things fairer for the little guy using “totally capitalistic” income re-distribution where the state makes it easier on everybody by just owning everything in the first place.

I wanted this movie to be good, a classic battle of Good over Evil where evil is not just a little girlfriend/boyfriend spat.  After I found out that it was a set up for multiple sequels, it was even worse.  The tough guys flashed cheesy little smiles when they should have been showing grit.  Dennis Quaid, Seriously?  He showed the same demeanor and seriousness in G.I. Joe as he did in “The Parent Trap.”

And Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes, that should have made only 4 second appearances 2 or 3 times in the movie, were paraded around as if bringing them out of the shadows would add to their mystique.

We loved them, but we know their role, they are the guys behind the guys, and the fact that they are quasi-brothers, that is classic sequel ending stuff.  Seriously, did you not see the Star Wars Trilogy?

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

I'll Take 3 Big Macs, the NJ Governorship and a Fire Drill Please. PSA

I would normally just post a snarky commentary on todays elections in New Jersey and Virginia, but even I would be bored by that, and I have nothing useful to say after Chris Christie called out NJ Governor John Corzine last week and said "Governor Corzine just needs to 'Man up and just call me fat!"  Below you can see NJ hopeful Christie explaining to congress that he only ordered 3 Big Macs for lunch, not the 7 as mentioned by Gov. Corzine.

That is classy.  It caught my attention because the words "man up" are a staple in my house.  Our 3 boys hear it a lot after falling down, stubbing toes and even last week when I stubbed my toe, Little Guy even said, "Dad just man up a little, you will be fine, look, its not even bleeding!"

However, I thought as a special treat for my readers I would throw something out there that we almost never think of, and that is Fire Safety. 

Somehow last night during family night we got on the subject of the house burning down, so we decided to have a fire drill.  I'm not exactly sure how we got on the subject, but it seemed like a good impromptu activity for the night.  Certainly not as useful as hide and seek or swallow the blanket, but good enough.

So we freaked out the kid by setting off the alarm, but had a couple fo good run throughs. 

I Showed him how if he smells smoke when he is sleeping, to first look out the window to see if maybe he and his brothers driven their mom to chain smoking and drinking like a sailor on shore leave in Okinawa to deaden the pain of constantly being a yelling board slash jungle gym.

If that coast is clear, he should start screaming and crawling on the floor. 

Then I sprang into action doing my best Parkour imitation up the stairs into the twins room, throwing one under each arm and back-flip to double somersault back down the stairs to the front door, where for drill only purposes we left the dogs inside to meet their doom.

All in all it was a pretty good lesson and one that everybody should do with their families.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Halloween Fun... And Other Family Fluff

I am not sure that I have ever had this much fun on Halloween before.  LEGO CHEST-BUMP, need I say more?  The candy was as plentiful as the family, and the football was as just as sweet.



As you may be able to tell, I have a completely IRRATIONAL hatred for all things USC, All Florida Schools, and U. Oklahoma. These football teams it appears can do no wrong.  They can lose to 3 crappy teams, and then blow out a team with a barely winning record and all of a sudden they are back in the top 10.

Now don't get me wrong, I could care less about the "lesser" conferences, but if we are going to use the crazy logic that OU beating Texas Tech means that OU is better than UT becuase Tech beat UT despite losing to UT on the field of play, then Boise State is better than USC. 

Interesting the conversations we have to listen to to determine that regardless of the win/loss record of any team, USC, OU and Florida should just be granted the first ever 3 team Championship game, each team just subbing out each quarter for like 12 quarters of play.  Actually I think I am going to propose that, that sounds like a fun game.

However, as much as you come here to hear me rant about college football, you probably want to see pictures of my cute kids and their cousins and hear about the 1st Annual Brig Bash [Halloween Edition]. What an awesome party.  You can probably see more great pics of the weekend over at

We hosted at our place and all of the Grandparents showed up, as well as a whole slew of Aunts, Uncles and cousins. There was award winning chili, Jack-O-Lantern themed pizzas and a big pan of Johnny-Cake.

Our weekend even featured a sleepover and some spirited conversation about the actual process and societal effect of buying, selling and the tax consequences of mutual funds/ hedge funds and other fun financial products.  It also featured a rousing game of pin the face on the pumpkin, giant balloons, and little parachute guys that we threw off of the balconies from the game room down into the living room.  Uncle Z even hooked up a fog machine, flashing spotlights and laser show in the garage set to spooky music and was a HUGE hit from the neighborhood kids, who left their own party up the street to hang out in our garage checking out how he did it.

The only thing that needed adjustment this weekend was my candy strategy.  I expected a lot of kids, but I had no idea how much of a meiser I was until some little girl (who was our 1st trick-or-treater) came back to our house a mere 10 minutes after we saw her first only for me to discover that her bag was full.  She could not have hit more than 10-12 houses. 

So I had to move to the 3-4 pieces per kid in order not to be blacklisted by all the kids next year, much like we did with the "smarties house" or the "3 pennies wrapped in plastic wrap lady."  nobody wants that.

Thanks to all of you who came, and for any of you that want an invite next year, good luck, probably not going to happen.  I hear it is VIP only and crazy exclusive.  Rumors are that Oprah, Tom Cruise and the Gray's Anatomy guy  McCreepy will be there.  See you next year!