The Tight Rack Post

One of my new obsessions of late is darts. Not sure why I have it in my head that I want to be good at the game, but Cricket with a few friends is a terrific way to change out while throwing back a pitcher or two. I picked up an electronic dartboard for the apartment a few weeks back for practice (and the fact that it adds up my scores for me) but I’m still pretty amateur. Today after work a bunch of us form the office headed down to Tight Rack on the ‘Trail to play a few rounds. The place is pretty cool, and offers cheap darts, and free pool till 8. I had a good time hanging out with my fellow Colorvisioners, and even managed to come in 2nd place one round (a personal best by a long shot). I’m trying to get accustomed to the soft-tip s mainly because that’s what’s readily available at most pool halls, but I have to say I have an affinity to the heavier steel tips (not that I am any better with them of course).

The Random Survey Post

Most people get upset when it comes to tele-marketers and I am definitely amongst the majority when it comes to cold calls. However I am a sucker for a good survey. I am not sure what separates the two, maybe the simple fact that they aren’t trying to sell me something, or that I like to feel my opinion matters; probably a combination of the two. I like to feel like I am being evaluated or examined. Going to the doctor's office, having my IQ or palm read, or even getting measured by a tailor, it gives me an odd sensation of satisfaction and personal doting. Surveys definitely fall into that category for me for whatever reason. Why mention this? Well I just received a call from a survey company in Michigan who where conducting a study on my utilities company and the value to me vs. Green Energy efforts. I sat for a few good minutes answering the questions along the scales provided and offering up a lot of 1-10 responses. After getting off the phone I felt that odd satisfaction I get after being tended to or doted on, so I figured I’d share. I’m also currently participating in a month-long survey at AskMen.com where each Wednesday there is a new section of their survey to complete. If you are a survey-nut like I apparently am I’d recommend checking it out. ---Yeah ok, so this might win for most random post ever, but there you go. The end.

P.S. I like surveys. Do you? Please answer on a 1 to 10 scale with 1 being not at all, 5 being neutral and 10 being very much so.

The Boyband Post

So last night I felt the need for a change and went to a salon at the Millennia Mall (the pretty people / expensive mall) to get a ‘proper haircut’ as I was telling myself. I went in open minded and pretty much surrendered all design decisions to the stylist there. An hour and a half of foils, smelly chemicals and reading terrible magazines later I pretty much have the exact same haircut but in crazy colors. I am not sure about it myself, especially considering the ridiculous price tag, but I was given lots of compliments today at work as I rocked my self titled ‘boy-band hair’ to the office. Not sure how many of those where merely courteously compliments, but they seemed positive none-the-less. Kim offered a very complimentary “mid life crisis!” jab when she stopped by my desk, but besides that I was able to avoid the jabs for the most part. Anyway here it is, be nice:


The Doctokr Post

Dr. Dappen, a previous client of mine during my freelance design days was featured on ABC’s Good Morning America yesterday in an segment on telecommunication doctors practices. His practice; Doctokr Family Medicine (that’s a combination of ‘doc and ‘takler) was examined against other online and phone doctor practices by Diane Sawyer’s team and came across quite favorably over the competition, largely due to his house calls and other more traditional methods mixed with his telecommunication packages. His practice is a unique take on traditional medicine to be sure, and it has always been a lot of fun to develop ways of advertising his services. In the past I have done newspaper ads, flyers, brochures, web-material and character designs for his company. It’s great to see it grow and continue to expand across the Northern Virginian area. The article is on ABC’s website, and there is also a short video of the segment in the upper left side of the column.


The Drink Around the World Post

Hit Epcot yesterday with Bruce and Dianna using some tickets that where generously passed on to me by Dawn over in the Sports Department. They expire at the end of the week so I figured a trip out to the park would be a good idea on the long weekend. I was really keen on trying the ‘drink around the world’ challenge Bruce was talking about where you hit the World Showcase and have a beverage at each country. It was pretty good fun and we got some pretty good pictures on the tour. About halfway around the lagoon though the heat and drinks got the better of me. Around USA I was in a good mood, which was only antagonized by Plumb Wine shots came around in Japan (see Ninja strangling picture below). After that I stuck with beer. We skipped Africa because…well its not even called Africa on the map, just ‘the outpost’ and consists of a few wooden carvings for sale, a drum and a Coke vending machine.* Here are my Drink-around-the-world shots in order: Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, USA, Japan, Morocco, France, England, and Canada.

*Disney was so racist.


The Indiana Jones Post

Indiana Jones is one of those characters that everyone can’t help but love. He’s like James Bond, but less of a womanizer. The classic trilogy has a fond spot in my heart and contains some of the most memorable moments in movie history. It’s been a long time coming but the fourth installment to the legendary franchise is here and I have to say that Indy’s still got it. Harrison Ford is back in the role that was made for him, and it’s almost like he never left. Though he looks a lot more haggard in the face than the Indiana of old, his performance is just as impressive, charming and charismatic as his previous outings, and it’s really great to see him back. Regrettably Sean Connery opted out of the movie (fool!) so he doesn’t make an appearance, but the interaction between Ford and series newcomer Shia LaBouef does a great job at filling the void. The action is the usual classic Jones fair, with car chases, daring escapes, overblown punching sound effects and a lot of great environmental obstacles. Once you get past the fact that Ford’s a bit more wrinkly and grayer this time around, then it feels like you are watching the old films again with a new plot.

Though Crystal Skull is far from being with out faults. Half way through the movie they throw you a curveball which I thought was a joke. Unfortunately this plot point develops to become the big reveal at the end of the movie and takes the film in a more science-fiction direction than I have come to expect from a ‘Jones film. The magic and mysticism of the past entries is dropped in favor of a much different outcome, which while, good, is far removed from the classic storytelling stile of its predecessors. Also there is one scene that needs to be removed ASAP. It involves Shia LaBouef tarzaning his way through the jungle canopy with his newfound monkey friends. The whole segment is absolutely ridiculous and seems out of place to a bizarre degree. Fortunately it lasts about a minute and is promptly forgotten. Besides these offences and one too many prairie-dog gags the movie is pretty much exactly what you’d expect (and want), so go check it out this weekend.

I do worry that the film relies heavily on its previous iterations and the fondness the fans have for the films. Without the first three this movie would be extremely ho-hum. But considering its classmates and the characters legendary status built up over the years you really can’t help but love a lot this movie has to offer. If you never cared for the first three (is that possible?) then this one won’t win you over. But if you are an Indy fan, then this one will fit right in.


The Jawsome Post

The other day I partially dislocated my jaw during an overly exaggerated yawn first thing at work. I was tired, as I often am at the start of the work week and felt the need to yawn like a silent opera singer. During which I felt a stiff pop and wet tearing feeling right in front of my left ear. Followed of course by the lovely sensation of being punched in the face. Two weeks later, it still hurts to clench my teeth or fully extend my jaw (say for yawning) and I am starting to gnash my teeth at night to compensate. All in all it’s pretty unpleasant. So I might just have the weakest jaw muscles of all time. I prefer to think I’m just so hardcore even my yawns can shatter the human body. But that’s just my take on it. Which is actually a lot more useful than the take my doctor offered. Our entire encounter consisted of a few very brief comments:

Dr: Did you have to pop it back in place before you could close it?

Me: No.

Dr: Then it’s a partial dislocation. Take Ibuprofen before each meal for a week.

Me: Well it happened two weeks ago.

Dr: Call an aural surgeon if Ibuprofen doesn’t work.

Me: Ok.

[ Exit Doctor ]

After a weekend of eating Ibuprofen whenever I remember and trying not to poke my face too much I am noticing an improvement. Hopefully I can just ride it out and not have to bother going seeing a specialist. If my jaw heals crooked you all have to promise not to poke fun ok. Thanks.


The Spatz 60 Post

Last night was a nice mix of downtown activities. Bruce and I met up at Spatz in Winter Garden for some beer, darts and a drastically oversized jalapeƱo burger to start the night off right. Henry met up with us and help trounce my measly dart scores in Cricket. I really want to be good at darts-not sure why- but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen…well ever.

Afterwards we headed downtown to Sky 60 to catch some of Buck’s spinning. I always like heading to Sky when he plays mainly because being on a rooftop, there is always a breeze, and considering how packed the place gets, that’s a very good thing. Also getting the ‘secret password’ to get in will never get old, even if they tend to be a tad ridiculous. After hanging out there for a while we dipped off to the streets to wander before last call. Ended up on Wall Street watching the live band there. Band was pretty abysmal, but the stage setup was notably elaborate and rather impressive. I don’t know how a band so bland deserves such a swanky tour bus… but whatever, good for them.

I had a good time, which is further evidence that I need to spend more time downtown and venture out of my comfort zone near the apartment more often than I do.


The All American Post

My economic stimulus check arrived in my account this week and I am extremely excited. While getting a nice chunk of undeserved money is always a good thing, I am particularly excited about this particular kickback. I’ve decided to finally make an effort towards my new year’s resolution and get the ball rolling on my citizenship application. The filing and biometric fees on the application are in the high 600’s so what better way to stimulate the American economy that by turning that money right back around and giving it to the government? That while at the same time adding a fresh and eager American to the roster? Ok maybe spending the money on a Bald Eagle and teaching it the theme song to Team America World Police, and how to light fireworks would top it.... I’m pretty pleased about the whole endeavor as I’ve wanted to get the process started for ages now, but the price tag and 18 month turnaround on the application/test/swearing in has always put it somewhat out of reach.

On the other hand I have had reservations about taking the plunge. The best way I can describe it (as I tend to do whenever the subject comes up) is that being British is kinda like being left-handed. While being right handed would make my life allot easier and simpler, being a lefty is kinda part of who I am, so would I really want to change something I sorta like about myself in favor of what makes sense from a logistical standpoint? Being British has always made me feel a little special over here, and there is a definite appeal for me. Truth be told though I love living in the States and don’t ever plan to not be here. I see the opportunities available to me as a citizen as being something I really want and will benefit from and its really only fair considering I have lived here longer than I ever lived in the UK at this point. Stefan already has his application underway via the Army and the rest of the family are coming along too. It just feels right, and to be honest I’m almost looking forward to having to take a civics quiz and filling out all the paperwork. I even bought note cards!


The Airtran Attempt Post

So I am trying really hard to like AirTran. Primarily because Sarah always has nothing but delightful experiences on the airline, but also because United pretty much sucks (that includes you too Ted) and everyone else’s prices are too high. However despite my attempts to appreciate the airline I am constantly getting shot down by them. This weekend was a perfect example. The flight I booked apparently didn’t guarantee me a seat on said flight. Merely I was guaranteed a ‘reservation’. What the hell that means I don’t know but apparently its worth $300. I get to the gate and ask for a seat (pretty please) and find that its oversold by 15 seats. The only way I can guarantee a seat is to hope 15 people forget to go to the airport or upgrade to first class. Fortunately due to the situation they where offering the last two first class seats for a nice $60 upgrade. Being that the upgrade usually costs $200 bucks I decided to take up the offer. That and I saw a large group of 14 year old foreigners on a youth group trip all waiting in line for the same flight and I wanted NOTHING to do with them*.

So anyway after getting on board we are stuck waiting 45 min while a crew comes in and tries to fix a cockpit malfunction. The captain comes on every fifteen minutes or so to ensure us that they are trying the ‘quickest fix possible’ which is hardly reassuring. After a wait, we taxi and head to the runway. Only to turn around and go right back to the gate. “We don’t feel comfortable taking of with this nagging issue that we thought we had resolved” is the captains response. Back on come the techs. Sitting up front I was able to see and hear everything that was going on in the cockpit, and the confused faces and seemingly random ‘lets try this one and see’ approach to the knobs and buttons hardly made me confident. After half an hour they decide they need to reboot the plane (you can do that!?!?) which meant all laughs, air and communications went dead. We where stick in the dark for two hours before everything came back to life and we where able to take off. Come on Airtran…I wanna be friends. Why won’t you let me in? Why you gotta always be like this?

*Why the hell do those groups wear matching colored t-shirts? You can’t shut the damn kids up for 30 seconds. There is no way you are going to misplace any of them. And if by some strange reason that happens: good for you. Get on the plane.

The Weekend Update Post

Despite the title this post will not end with Jimmy Fallon throwing a pencil at the camera. Oh he's not on the show anymore?...yeah well that was a test. You still watch SNL? SHAMEFINGER!!

This past weekend I took a trip back to VA to spend some time with Sarah. I finally got to meet her coworkers which was cool if not long overdue, as well as get the chance to chill with some of my good buddies downtown in Georgetown for a night. We went to Carpool in Herndon one night for some pool with Cara and her boyfriend Fernando, and managed to catch Pete at Eric’s place in Arlington before heading out.

Mother’s Day had me busting at the seems after Sam, Jake, Dad and Me took Mum up to Amphora for a ridiculously large breakfast. It was a real shame that Stefan couldn’t be there, but I did get the chance to speak with him over the weekend which was great. He seems to be doing well though I definitely detected a desire to get back home. Which of course I cant blame him for in the slightest. Mum was really pleased with her morning though and it was a lot of fun. Being away from my family makes me really appreciate how much sitting down together means to me. I can’t wait till Stefan’s summer leave later on this year where we will hopefully all be able to get together and spend some time as the whole unit again. Caught Ali and Bob up at Tyson’s for a quick drink too, so despite the short visit I got to see a lot of my family.

Finished up the weekend as a guest player for Sarah and Eric’s kickball team (Detective John Kimble) which was pretty awesome despite Virginia’s consistent attempts to ruin the weekend with shitty weather. It was cool again to meet all the people I hear so much about, and I had a blast. Unfortunately the game ended in a tie, but it was a high scoring game (17-17 in the end I think) so its not like we weren’t trying or anything. Plus any game that ends with the referee hopping on a scooter and zipping off of the mall becomes officially awesome regardless.

The Go Speed Racer Post

Speed Racer is like a messed up steak dinner. Its so overcooked, funny colors and cheesy* that you’d expect to throw it back in the chef’s face. But truth be told it’s the most enjoyable film I have seen all year. I find it hard to believe that I could feel emotionally attached to anything to do with a race where a guy go-go-gadgeted over a neon buzz saw and an ‘evil’ racer gets catapulted into a giant toilet (while encased in an ejector bubble no less) but that is exactly the case with Speed Racer. The whole thing is so ridiculously overblown and outlandish that it becomes more genuine a movie because of it. Nothing looks or feels real; the acting, the costumes, the effects, the environments… but it all fits together so perfectly. This is what summer movies are all about. It hands down beats Ironman in every category (besides the Downey-Factor; in which the score is in Ironman’s favor).

By taking a source material as ridiculous as Speed Racer and making it even more ridicul
ous the Wachowski’s have ended up with a really charming and genuine film, despite it’s over exaggerated presentation. The film is legitimately moving at times, action packed and nail biting at others, and absolutely hilarious when it wants to be. The transitions, the effects, the cars and the editing are all brilliant and really makes the anime-style extremely well realized. The movie is simply stunning and should be at the top of your Christmas list if you like getting high-def awesomeness to justify your oversized flat panel purchases. Plus Christina Ricci is hot!? Who knew? Bonus.

The pacing takes a little time getting used to, and the odd direction style and line delivery seem bizarre for the first few minutes, but once you make the s
witch over to Speed Racer’s unique logic, it all clicks. I find that films these days try to explain everything too much and become faulty because of their apparent need to justify a brand in a movie setting. Speed Racer takes the opposite approach and takes a cartoon and makes a movie out of it verbatim. I enjoyed it as much as I did watching the ridiculous shows I loved as a kid. If it works, why bother trying to reinvent it? I honestly cant think of anything I’d change about this film. It does what it needs to do perfectly, exceeded my expectations tenfold and delivers a satisfying, emotional and endearing story out of what could have ended up being MarioKart-on-acid: the movie. Oh and the springboard-race-car sound effect is in the running for most awesome thing ever. Look out transformer noise…its coming for you.

It is for all these reasons that I wish to start (or join if there is one) a Go See Speed Racer Campaign. By ‘campaign’ I really mean: I think yo
u should just go see it, and force anyone around you to do the same after you thoroughly enjoy it and are as heartbroken as I am that Ironman will ensure that hardly anyone will notice this gem.
*Steaks should never be served with cheese.


The 'snap yo fangas' Post

Our company recently landed The Doodlebops as one of our brands for Amazing Pictures and Tom and I have been working at getting some APs ready for approval. Not being 3 (or owning a child that is 3) I had no idea what The Doodlepops are so I logged on and searched them out so I’d have an idea what we where putting together. Turns out the Doodlebops are every bit as ridiculous as their name entails, but are very popular with the toddler-crowd. They sing and dance and dress like cracked out Teletubby-Wiggle hybrids pretty much. Oh and ride around in a ridiculous bus with Bus Driver Bob. Why tell you about this? Well in our searching for some Doodle-material Tom came across this little gem on YouTube. The usual little ditty ‘Get on the Bus’ has been replaced with everyone’s favorite gangsta rap of 2006*. What’s so great about it is how well it all ties up. I can’t help but crack up watching this, so I figured I’d share.

*Or whenever. I wont pretend to know the details.

The Cinco Cinco Post

Cinco de Mayo landed on a Monday this year so I assumed that it would be a low key night downtown, or maybe all the events would be bumped up to the weekend. Bruce, Henry and I headed down to the Wall Street area of downtown last Monday and I was pleasantly surprised to see the place teaming with people. I had never been to Wall Street before but will definitely be heading back. The area has about 5 or so multilevel bars lining a short street in the center of downtown. Streamers, lights and flags hung across the courtyard area from bar to bar and a stage was down one end with live local bands playing. The area is all run by the same guy so you can wander from bar to bar without ever needing to get away from the party. Inflatable margarita bottles and beads where flying off of balconies and people where wall to wall throwing back margaritas, tequila shots and the obligatory Coronas. I was determined to get a picture with a Mariachi band during the course of the night but was unable to track one down, so I decided that finding an elaborate sombrero would suffice.

It was also made a bigger night due to the Orlando Magic playing in the playoffs, so all the tvs where tuned and roars of madness would flow down the sea of people whenever they scored. It was a decidedly convenient way to keep track of the game without having to sit through it. I had a great time, and look forward to going back. Didn’t have such a great time Tuesday at work though. I was feeling the festivities for longer than I would like afterwards due to my inability to drink tequila and not feel like the living dead the next morning. I need to work on that I reckon.

The Ironman Post

Ironman is one of the comic characters that I have never really known anything about. I tend not to stray form the Batmans and Spidermans of the world, so I really didn’t know what to expect with this movie. I had the feeling that this was just another secondary comic movie like Fantastic Four and Daredevil, which are crapped on by everyone and I never end up seeing due to lack of interest. About 2 weeks before Ironman hit people started really talking it up. A sucker for a good hype train I started to get excited about seeing it, with the hope that it could be like Transformers and a bandwagon I could get behind and enjoy.

After seeing the movie I can say safely that I definitely did enjoy it and it deserves the praise it’s getting. A fun and quirky Tony Stark, played by Robert Downey Jr. is centerpiece to the movie and really makes the film. His portrayal as the overconfident, cocky prick millionaire is a fresh change from the superhero ideal of being a humble and self-sacrificing secret identity. Stark’s direct contrast and lack of frills that bog down a lot of other heroes brings out the best in Downey and the result is extremely refreshing.

My only gripe with the movie was that there was a tone of back-story and buildup to Ironman actually flying about and being a do-gooder. While this would usually be a good thing for the film, it is highlighted by a lack of time left over for actu
al Ironman-ing. Much of the conflict and strife that comes Tony’s way involves executive boards and red tape, which is hardly as thrilling as terrorist ass kicking and suit vs. suit rumbles. The final battle is too long coming, too easy to predict and honestly fails to deliver a satisfying conflict. This is a real shame because everything is in place at that point in the film for a really brilliant ending. Still, it’s adequate and doesn’t leave to bad of a taste in your mouth. Apparently I was too out of the loop to hear about the secret extended ending after the credits. I have seen it since thanks to YouTube, and even though I don’t know much about Ironman I defiantly got a kick out of the extra scene and recommend sticking out the credits if you catch the movie. All around fun though. The perfect summer action flick.