Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Shifty Shrek Seats

We went to see "Shrek the Third" at the cheap theatre tonight, and the theatre experience was actually much more entertaining than the movie itself. We had to move seats because my wife initially sat down and found that her seat was moving out of control in at least one horizontal direction. Someone up front held up a lighter during a slow song of the movie. Someone else up front raised his hands as if to say "Touchdown!" during another part. Four small children literally ran up and down the aisle for about five minutes during the movie. There was even a handmade sign on the way into the building that said "We do not accept plastic. That really really is the honest truth." The best part? It was one dollar each to get in. Now that's economy. And a pretty decent time overall, followed by a trip to the libary to snag two novels for my wife.

Thanks to a recommendation from my cousin Beth I have started listening to a podcast called "WNYC's Radio Lab." It's interesting and thought-provoking, though a little heavy on the secular/atheist side at times (modern morality, as they incorrectly hypothesized, may well come from our "inner chimp." sigh), but pretty cool nonetheless.

I went to my cousin Matt's new house today. Holy lakeshore property, Batman! It's a very nice chunk of land on a lake about 40 minutes from our house, and I hope to go back soon, especially to visit my cousin Jessie who will be staying there for a week, in about a week.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

An Easy Day's Night

Went to Saint Cloud to hang with the family today. The extended variety, that is, which consisted of two aunts, two uncles, several cousins, and some of their friends. It's nice to live close enough that we can just hop skip and jump up there for an afternoon and still have time for just the two of us after we get back. While we were up there my uncle Frank let me borrow his tripod which I will be using to record a wedding on Friday. And my cousin Erik was there with his iPhone, which was super slick. A bunch of us spent an hour playing volleyball in the back yard, which was a great time, especially since the teams were very evenly matched.

My cousin Beth, who made a delicious grilled chicken salad for lunch, and her boyfriend went with us to get some bowling shoes, which we got from a sport's store called Dunham's after checking with Wal-Mart and Sheels. The salesdude was super patient, especially since we got there right as they were closing too. We're really excited to try 'em out on Wednesday night, and we figure after a few years they will pay for themselves too. Thanks, Mr. Salesdude!

On tap for the evening, then: some West Wing, some web site coding, and some caffeine-free Mountain Dew.

Friday, July 27, 2007

The Meaning of Life

According to my uncle Pete, it's "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch."

This evening I had a free dinner courtesy of Chipotle. They sent me a card in the mail a month ago that I could use for one free burrito, no strings attached, from their new location about two miles from our house. So I went and got the biggest burrito I have ever had from there (I'm not kidding, it was huge), and ate it while watching Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Not only did I get a free lunch (well, dinner...), but it was coupled with Star Trek. Now, I'm not saying my uncle is wrong, but it's hard to argue with results, eh?

My brother Tom called me tonight to let me know he was driving behind one of those Google cars that takes pictures of basically everything in their path (sort of a Unicron of photography) and puts it online in their "Street" view on Google Maps. I freaked out and told him to try to get his picture taken by them, and then I had to go because I was right near Chipotle and can't very well drive while hungry and chatting on a cell phone. So here's hoping Tom and his old red minivan are immortalized forever (which Pete would say is redundant) on Google Maps for all to see. Good luck, Tom!

Oh, and MONSTER props to JVA, who have put most of their new record online. Listen to it!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The O.C. to the B

So today at work, in another stunning display of generosity, a coworker bought lunch for me and the five guys I work with. It was the second time this has happened, and both times we were simply told to go wherever we wanted to eat. Last time it was Chipotle, makers of the best burritos pretty much ever, and this time it was Old Country Buffet. Now, I'm not a huge fan of buffet food, because most buffets offer a stunning quantity of stunningly average food. And true to form, this one was no exception. But it was an excellent and most welcome respite from the daily grind, which actually isn't really that bad in and of itself, but work nonetheless. We had a great time, though it was capped by possibly too much ice cream with too many toppings.

This evening I took my video camera back to the place I bought it, which was not a Best Buy or online retailer. It was a place called National Camera where the camera itself was more expensive than many other outlets such as the ones I just mentioned. I got it there, though, because I knew I could take it in if I had any problems and my chances of finding answers and solutions were much greater than a Best Buy or online retailer. So anywho, my camera was having a bit of an issue and the guy who spoke with me tonight ("Chris," one of the managers) was very helpful. Unbelievably helpful, in fact, to someone who has grown tired of the casual detachment that passes for service at other places such as, well, you get the point. In fact, this Chris dude just chatted with me about video compression formats, computer software, camera mechanics, and other things just for the heck of it while he cleaned my camera free of charge. Most excellent.

We watched a movie called "Shark Tale" tonight, which I continually compared to its counterpart, "Finding Nemo." Such a comparison is unfortunate, since the two films are vastly different and share only the medium in which their stories were told, but inevitable, since they are both ultimately about talking fish. Dreamworks seems more like a one-trick pony with every film they produce, its trick being weak and superficial parodies of pop culture strung along with fairly thin storylines. This holds true for the "Shrek" films (though I have not seen the third) and certainly for "Shark Tale." Pixar movies are rich multi-layered stories that rarely dip into the vast but shallow bucket of pop culture parody, and are all the more timeless and endearing for it. I suppose it also doesn't help matters, as far as Dreamworks is concerned, that I watched "The Incredibles" and "Finding Nemo" last week. But that's how things go, I guess. The moral of the story? I really want to go see "Ratatoullie." I also want to see "Transformers" again, but that doesn't really have anything to do with the rest of this entire post.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Long Road Home

This is gonna be a short post because I really have to get to bed. Like, now. But I just wanted to say thanks to all the family members and relatives and friends of the family who made our trip to Georgia so cool. It was awesome to see so many people, from both sides of our family, and do all of the fun things that made this trip such a good one. And thanks to Sarah who once again ferried my wife and I home from the airport and then stayed to have some Papa Murphy's* (mmm...delish...) and watch a few movies. It was a fantastic trip, but it sure is good to be back home. G'night everyone.

I was recently informed by my cousin Jessie that my blog often revolves around food. This is true. But how can I help it, when things like Papa Muprhy's and broasted chicken are so good? :)

Monday, July 16, 2007

Off to the Sunny South

Short post tonight, folks. We leave tomorrow for a week of visiting all manner of family (both immediate and extended) in Georgia. Last time we were down there together was about two years ago, and I'm really looking forward to getting back. Time to pack and get to bed!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Rolled and Broasted

Once again we made the trek to Grandy, Minnesota, this afternoon with one goal: deliciousness. And oh, what a good decision it was. Every artery-gunging trip to the Brass Rail for a multi-course meal of the fattiest cottage cheese this side of 1400 Independence Avenue, the best breaded mushrooms known to man, and the tastiest chicken ever. I dunno, man, this place is just so good that even though it takes about an hour to get there from our house, we find it necessary to make the trip as often as we possibly can, though we are often coaxed into it by a few friends. ;)

And to continue the food theme of this post, I went to the store this evening to get some breffist cereal and, in what is a first for me, some oatmeal. Of course I've had oatmeal before, but I realized after talking to a guy at work last week that I have never actually gone out and purchased a can of Quaker Oats since, well, since ever. My mom always bought 'em when I was a kid, and I guess it never really crossed my mind once I left the ol' nest. So there I was in the cereal aisle with a cylinder of rolled oats when I noticed the exact same thing a few feet over. It was like a weird name brand vs. off brand grudge match of oatmealish proportions, except that both were the same thing made by the same company. The difference between the two available selections of Quaker Oats? One was the "1-Minute" kind, and its counterpart was the "Old-Fashioned" kind. I literally sat on the off-white grocery store floor tile for a good four minutes, both canisters in hand, trying to discern some difference between the two. Both had the exact same nutrition information, serving sizes, self-congratulatory fine print about reducing heartworms (or whatever it is these oats do nowadays)...even the same ingredients for Pete's sake ("100% Rolled Oats"). But one had a 1-2 minute cooking time, and the other had a 2-3 minute cooking time.

Oh, the dilemmas we face. I really wanted to call up my brother Andy, whom I always turn to when I can't figure out something, but I just spoke with him a little while before about a computer question. I figured the store clerks wouldn't know anything (I was one for nine years, and I could barely tell the difference between an eggplant and a leek). My wife was at home exercising. My parents...hm...I guess I could have called them. But in the end I hiked up me breetches and confidently selected the "Old-Fashioned" variety.

Pleased as punch, I made a beeline for the bakery aisle to nab some brown sugar and get the heck out of that store. I snagged the first bag of off-brand brown sugar I could find and was about to rush to the register when I noticed, sitting placidly next to the brown sugar...several bags of dark brown sugar. Nutrition information? Same. Fine print? Same. Ingredients? "Sugar, Molasses."


Saturday, July 14, 2007

Good Gravy

Wow, a lot can happen in the space of two weeks. Especially when that two weeks involves a trip to Lincoln, and then Des Moines for a few days, then Lincoln again, then Omaha for a few more days, then back to the Twin Cities. It's been a crazy time, and thoroughly enjoyable as well. We got to see all manner of family and friends during the fortnight, some with whom we only manage to visit once or twice a year. Actually, this weekend is merely a breather to relax and regroup since we leave for Georgia on Tuesday to visit even more relatives. I'm a huge fan of staying close with family and friends, as is my wife, and it's awesome that we have jobs that allow us to do this sort of thing in the summer.

A few noteworthy events from the past two weeks, then, in no particular order:

- Family in Lincoln. Getting to spend time with my niece is always good. Of course it's nice to see everyone else too, but my other relatives aren't just starting to walk, nor do they get nearly as much enjoyment out of common household items like a cardboard box or empty wallet. My brother Phil took us to see his work (A fitness center! Free Mr. Pibb!) and my brother Tom took us out shooting (thanks for bringing earmuffs, man). Lots of cards and croquet were played. Good times.

- Family outside Lincoln. We went to the Farmer's Market while in Des Moines and I had some of the best kettle corn ever popped by mankind. We also saw our nephew who is a few months older than my niece, and far more mobile too. Man, kids sure are fun. :) We ate at a super tasty restaurant and I had about the best piece of steak in the world. In Omaha we relaxed a lot and went to some other delicious food places too, but mostly it was nice to just visit with the relatives. Excellent.

- Transformers. Yeah, we saw it. Yeah, it wath pretty thweet. Not the best movie ever, but for a Michael Bay film it wasn't bad at all. I want to see it again, even, which doesn't often happen with movies that bear Bay's infamous directorial stamp. The original animated movie was much better, but seeing Optimus Prime transform from truck (where's his trailer?) to 'Mech while doing 80 down a freeway is worth the price of admission. It should also be noted that a few days prior to this I saw the new Die Hard with my brother Tom. Fantastic movie, folks. An incredibly welcome change from the CGI-infested action films that have come out of Hollywood for the past several years. Lots of fights, lots of explosions, and lots of John McClane doing his thing when he could be cashing Social Security checks if he wanted to...wow. It's a great time, and Sarah, remember, I will be happy to go see it with your dad anytime he wants to.

- Scavenger Hunt. A bunch of my friends got together while we were in Lincoln to do a three-hour hunt with 60 items to find, and while my team came in third place (by only one point!) we still had a great time. My brother Andy drives a Jeep like the last copy of Star Trek is on the line, but it sure made getting around town much quicker. The items were weird, but we didn't have too much trouble finding them. Tom, if you read this, I'm sorry about taking your jar of pickles and your "House For Sale" sign, but there was no choice. It had to be done. :)

- Amigos. You know we went there, like, a billion times. Oh man that's good stuff. Best nachos in the world. :)

Sure we did a bunch of other stuff, but this blog post is quickly becoming too long for most people to read, so I'm gonna cut it off. Time to shower, then play with the video camera, and think about tomorrow's delicious Brass Rail chicken which will be had for lunch. Mmm...broasted chicken...