Tuesday, December 31, 2013

American Hustle

If you want to be entertained by a cast of compelling characters and a convoluted story line, go check out American Hustle.

I saw it at Marcus Theatres last night and came away loving Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence even more than I did going in. They each had outstanding performances, and I wouldn't be surprised to see any or all of them get respect come award season.

But the acting is so good and the plot is just a bit too complicated that it felt like something was missing. I can't put a finger on exactly what it was, but I don't see it winning Best Picture for winning. It was entertaining, but not a masterpiece, per se. I'm kind of being nitpicky, but so will the Oscar voters. (This article kind of sums up my thoughts exactly).

And with four such established starts, I at least have a hard time of remembering what their names are in the movie. If someone asked me for details from the plot line, I'd describe it as "Christian Bale and Amy Adams did this" rather than using their character's names. I still don't really know what they were.

All and all, I'm glad I went and checked it out. There's many other movies that might appear at the Oscars (Captain Phillips, 12 Years a Slave, Monuments Men, Wolf of Wall Street, etc.) but I'm glad I got that one checked off the list.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Packers are flawed but still playoff-bound

By now, Packers fans around the world have (likely) exhaled after their favorite team's thrilling 33-28 victory over the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on Sunday.

I spent my afternoon like most Green Bay fans yesterday, alternating between sitting on the edge of my seat, pacing around the room and gesturing at the television.

But hey, it worked.

It wasn't the most impressive performance by a play0ff-bound team. The offense was good, but the play calling, at times, left something to be desired. The defense made mistakes that hurt, but also came up with just enough effort when it was needed most. And the special teams? The Packers are lucky that facet of the game didn't ruin their season.

As I crouched on the ground with my breath held and my hood pulled up, transfixed on what was transpiring on the television, I just had this feeling that things were going to work out for Green Bay yesterday. And really, I'm not sure why.

They didn't work out for the Packers at Lambeau in Week 16 against Pittsburgh. Yeah, the comeback against Dallas was impressive, but this certainly isn't the same Green Bay team that won Super Bowl XLV.

They'll be headed into the playoffs with as much momentum as an 8-7-1 team can possibly have, but Sunday's victory showed that the Packers have something possibly even more important: resiliency.

This team has its flaws, and they are plentiful. But there's no denying the fact that it takes a little something extra to convert three fourth downs in a row on the go-ahead drive, in the cold, on the road, in a do-or-die situation. And when the defense backs that up with a game-securing interception to run out the clock? Certainly impressive.

It's not magical or miraculous or some other sort of superlative. But the dynamics of the Week 17 win over the Bears certainly suggest that special things are possible for this Green Bay team. They'll have a chance to exercise their biggest demon over the past few seasons, the San Francisco 49ers, at Lambeau Field this coming Sunday.

They'll need Aaron Rodgers to look even sharper than he did against Chicago, a healthy tandem of Eddie Lacy and James Starks behind a cohesive offensive line, a defensive front seven that sticks to its assignments and a secondary that keeps the big-play threats in front of them. And if all of that goes according to plan? It just might be enough.

It looked like this was going to be a 12-4 division-winning Packers team before Rodgers got hurt, but it turned out to be an 8-7-1 Packers team with Rodgers playing half the season and Senescomatt Tolwalflynn helping keep the team afloat just enough while #12 was out.

The division was there for the taking for both the Bears and the Detroit Lions, and neither did. When Green Bay had its chance, they seized it.

The November Packers were tough to watch, and the December Packers nearly gave the fan base an early heart attack.

We'll have to wait until Sunday to see what the January Packers look like.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Anchorman 2 review

I really only wanted to get one thing done this weekend, and that was go see ANCHORMAN 2. As I've said plenty of times before, the original Anchorman is one of my favorite movies of all time, so I had pretty high expectations going in.

It has the whole original cast - Will Ferrell, Paul Rudd, David Koechner and Steve Carell - was there, which is essential for a sequel, in my opinion. The movie then adds to the cast with the likes of Harrison Ford (ever so briefly), James Marsden (whom I love) and Meagan Good (whom I wasn't very familiar with), but there were a great deal of cameos, much like the first, that helped the movie as well.

The first movie was classic for its witty, quotable one-liners more than anything, and 48 hours after seeing the sequel, there aren't any quotable lines that stick out in my memory. The plot is a bit ridiculous, like expected, but there are certain parts that draaaaaag out a bit too long and detract from the overall experience of the movie. There are also certain plot points that are underdeveloped (Will Brick find love?) but it's a comedy, not a Oscar-worthy drama. My gauge of how entertaining a movie is typically how many times I look at my watch/phone to see how much is left of the movie. I found myself doing that a few times on Saturday.

People have been asking me how my movie was, and I think I figured out how I want to summarize it: funny, good cameos, a bit long and the plot was lacking, but overall, it's doesn't irreparably harm the sterling reputation of the original.

If you were going to see it before, still go see it. If you weren't going to, you're probably still not going to. But there are worse ways to spend two hours.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Brussels sprouts

Have you ever been sitting around wondering how many Brussels sprouts you could fit inside a Mini Cooper?

Of course not, because that's a ridiculous proposition.

But apparently, they do things a little differently in the UK, because the answer is 38,182.

The vegetables weighed the equivalent of 29 festive reindeer and if laid out end to end, would be the length of a mile of tinsel, according to the UK's Orange News. After he finished his challenge, the sprouts were painstakingly picked out of the car by hand and taken to a local soup kitchen to be put to good use over the Christmas period.

So there you go. Not that you were ever wondering, but now you know.
Mini /Rex

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

12 Days of Christmas

Every year, someone takes the time to figure out the market price for all of the different gifts listed in the "12 Days of Christmas" and compares it to years past. This year, the total figure for the 12 days is up seven percent, to over $114,000. Apparently the biggest jump, according to PNC Wealth Management, was for the "Nine Ladies Dancing" who got a well-deserved 20 percent raise.

And let me tell you, they earned each and every dollar of that raise. One dollar at a time.

Via StaceyReid.com

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Justin Tucker

I knew going into last night's Monday Night Football game that I was going to be cheering loudly for the Baltimore Ravens. They're a relatively easy team to cheer for (unless you're Adrian Peterson, apparently) and they're from a city I've visited twice, including for the Packers vs. Ravens game this year. I had a very pleasant time at that game, and given the fact that, as a Green Bay fan, I was really hoping for a Baltimore win over the Detroit Lions so that the Packers might be able to control their own destiny when it comes to the playoffs this season. (I also don't really like the Lions in general, so I'd probably be cheering against them anyways.)
When I'm watching sporting events where at least one of the teams involved is not a favorite of mine (so the Packers, Brewers, Badgers basketball and Notre Dame football), I'm typically on twitter for the majority of the game. (I'll chime in during those other games, but typically my focus is on the TV, not my phone.) The Ravens were unable to score a touchdown at all last night, so the unlikely hero was kicker Justin Tucker, a name that not many Green Bay fans knew of before yesterday. I knew he was a second-year kicker out of Texas, but I'm weird like that. But watching him develop into a sort of folk hero as that game went along was kinda cool to see. It was cool to see Packers fans understand what this game meant and get behind this likable guy as the game went along. When Justin Tucker hit that 61-yarder at the end of the game, I let out a shout as loud as any play during a Packers game this season, and then Tucker's postgame interview saying "you're welcome" to fantasy football players was awesome.
Via NorthJersey.com

Kickers are weird, but I love them. Thank you Justin Tucker.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Mars One

Ok, I know this is a couple of days old, but this is still pretty....well, I don't really know what it is. Awesome? Futuristic? Terrifying? Something along those lines.

 The group "Mars One" is apparently accepting applications for people to go to Mars sometime in the next 20 years. MARS. That's so far away. The kicker? Mars One is not planning on anyone making the return trip. Guess it's a one way flight. Here's more from the LA Times:

Mars One made headlines this spring when it began accepting applications for the first round of Mars colonizers. Anyone on the planet over the age of 18 was invited to apply, regardless of whether they had previous experience in engineering, medicine, planetary science or really anything.

Applicants were asked to submit videos in which they explained why they wanted to go to Mars and how they felt about never returning to Earth. (
Mars One does not envision sending anyone home.)

They were also asked to describe their sense of humor.

By the time Mars One stopped accepting applications in September, 202,000 people had expressed interest in being among the first humans to step foot on the Red Planet.

Eventually, Mars One will whittle down those applicants to about 40. Those selected will train in groups for seven years. And, if everything goes according to plan, at that time a global audience will vote on which group will go to Mars.

This feels like a scene out of like a "Hunger Games" type of movie, except more futuristic-y. Voting people off the planet? I know they're volunteering, but it's still kind of odd, no? Science be crazy, yo.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Snooze button

Having trouble waking up in the morning? The snooze button probably isn't the answer.
Here's a reason why. According to the New Yorker:

"Approximately a third of the population suffers from extreme social jetlag—an average difference of over two hours between their natural waking time and their socially obligated one. Sixty-nine per cent suffer from a milder form, of at least one hour."
So the majority of us are sleep deprived. And an extra 10 minutes isn't going to help.

Here's more from the article:

One of the consequences of waking up suddenly, and too early, is a phenomenon called sleep inertia. First given a name in 1976, sleep inertia refers to that period between waking and being fully awake when you feel groggy. The more abruptly you are awakened, the more severe the sleep inertia.

In the grip of sleep inertia, we may well do something we know we shouldn’t. Whether or not to hit the snooze button is just about the first decision we make. Little wonder that it’s not always the optimal one.

When we do wake up naturally, as on a relaxed weekend morning, we do so based mainly on two factors: the amount of external light and the setting of our internal alarm clock—our circadian rhythm.

So I guess the moral of the story is that getting out of bed is super tough and no one should have to do anything before 10 am, right?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

TIME Magazine

What do Walter White and Pope Francis have in common?

Well, not much. Considering one person is fictional meth kingpin and one person is one of the most known people in the (real) world.

But, according to TIME Magazine, both are pretty darn influential.

Pope Francis was named TIME's Person of the Year, after his papacy began in March of this year. A very worth candidate, and a whole heck of a lot more worthy than Miley Freaking Cyrus.

Walter White was named the year's most influential fictional character by TIME, and give how obsessed I've been with Breaking Bad, that's warranted too.

I just find it funny that can be mentioned in the same breath. But in all seriousness, looking back on 2013, they're definitely two of the biggest names.


And that is what you get when you google "walter white pope"

I love you internet.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

What are the odds?

Some people just have bad luck. I've never hit a deer with my car, but I've driven over part of a dead one and drove underneath one that the girl in the lane next to me hit. Close calls, but nothing like this.

A 27-year-old woman was knocked out by a flying deer while jogging in Virginia. Yes, that's right.
Krystine Rivera was running by the side of Clairborne Parkway in Ashburn last week when she was hit by an airborne deer, the Washington Post reported.
The deer had been struck by a nearby car.
Rivera told Washington TV station WRC she never saw the deer coming.
"I was running, then I was on the ground and then was listening to the paramedic," she said. "I'm surprised I made it out alive."
Both Rivera and the driver were hospitalized, but the deer did not survive.

Read more: http://www.kcci.com/news/national/jogger-knocked-out-by-flying-deer/-/9357144/23392090/-/10kpf25z/-/index.html#ixzz2n6r3kQGa

Photo from http://shenkitup.com/wp-content/uploads/watch-for-flying-deer-teenage-boys.jpg

Monday, December 9, 2013

Don't give your money away!

If you've traveled through an airport in the last dozen years, you know all about having to empty your pockets, take off your shoes, slide everything through the x-ray scanner, and so on and so forth. In the hurry to get everything back on your person, apparently lots of people are leaving loose change behind. In fact, that loose change is adding up for the TSA.

According to Time.com:

The Transportation Security Administration hauled in $531,395.22 in pocket change that passengers left behind at security checkpoints last year, according to documents obtained by the Washington Post.

The half-a-million bucks the TSA reported collecting in 2012 is the most ever reported to Congress. Passengers in Miami made the fattest contribution to TSA coffers — $39,613 — while those passing through the airport in Guam gave — or lost — the least: $1.70.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Money makers

Want to feel depressed about how many zeroes are on your paycheck? Check out the list of the top-paid CEOs in 2013.

10. Gerald Rubin

Company: Helen of Troy

Compensation: $41.6 million

9. Richard Bracken

Company: HCA Holdings

Compensation: $46.4 million

8. E. Hunter Harrison

Company: Canadian Pacific Railway

Compensation: $49.2 million

7. David Zaslav

Company: Discovery Communications Class

Compensation: $49.9 million

6. John Hammergren

Company: McKesson

Compensation: $51.7 million

5. Leslie Moonves

Company: CBS

Compensation: $62.2 million

4. Robert Kotick

Company: Activision Blizzard

Compensation: $64.9 million

3. Mario Gabelli

Company: Gamco Investors

Compensation: $69 million

2. Larry Ellison

Company: Oracle

Compensation: $77 million

1. Elon Musk

Company: Tesla Motors

Compensation: $78.2 million
Read more: Top 10 Highest Paid CEOs | Top 10 Everything of 2013 - Business | TIME.com http://business.time.com/2013/12/04/business/slide/top-10-highest-paid-ceos/#ixzz2mjA97Avy

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Ankle Swagger

Subscription clubs are pretty popular these days, whether you're getting beer or bacon or razors or whatnot. This particular club, however, I'm not sure.

It's called Ankle Swagger, and here are the different packages.

Seems like a good idea conceptually, but WHO THE HELL IS PAYING $12 FOR A PAIR OF SOCKS? New socks are one of my favorite things in the whole world (seriously) but I can't justify that price. $3 for a package of razors? Yes. Sign me up. Four times that for one pair of socks? I'm out.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Baby names

As the year ends, some of the more interesting articles to read are the "top 10" lists of this, that and the other thing. One of those articles I found recently dealt with baby names, and how, according to The Telegraph, families in the UK are moving away from naming their children after royalty. There aren't as many babies with the names William, Harry, Kate or baby George, but families have taken to naming their children more after fictional characters.

Like, characters from Breaking Bad for example.

From The Telegraph:
Names from the American crime series Breaking Bad were picked by a growing number of parents. Skyler and Jesse have increased as choices by 70 percent and 13 percent respectively. From Homeland the name Brody was up by 40 percent. Carrie and Dana also increased by 200 and 66 percent respectively. Arya from the TV drama Game of Thrones was a new entry to the top 100.

I find this interesting, especially when these kids have to explain their name later in life. Not that "Jesse" is a complicated name, but to say you're named after a meth cook from a TV show that aired in 2013? That's odd to explain.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Tackled by his manhood

I've never played a down of real, organized football before, but I can only imagine how much this would hurt. Chck out how Rams safety TJ McDonald brings down Niners TE Vernon Davis.

Davis then tweeted this out today: It should be a league rule saying that a defender can not tackle a player by his penis. the most painful thing ever!

In the defender's...defense, he avoided Davis' helmet, which is all the NFL cares about these days, right?