Saturday, December 31, 2011

Top 5 Favorite Vodkas

New Year's Eve--a time when millions across the country drink themselves into a stupor to watch a crystal ball slide down a pole while the guy from American Idol makes fun of Dick Clark on the down low.  Anyway, I'm phoning it in today, since nobody will be reading this...  Here are my top 5 favorite vodkas.

5: Blavod - The only one that makes the list because of its gimmick, Blavod is black vodka.  It tastes like Absolut, so you better mix it with something, but it's a pretty cool thing to have for Halloween.

4: Purus - The best vodka you've never tried.  Despite being hugely unpopular, Purus is amazingly smooth and light--almost refreshing (if you can say that about a drink you can light on fire).

3: Van Gogh - Famous dead painter vodka--it's smooth and crisp with a nice, mild flavor.  Definitely for sipping.  Nice bottle too--excellent for a recent college grad to display in the window of his loft apartment; easily passes as modern art.

2: Chopin - Famous dead pianist vodka (one-ups famous dead painter vodka)--it's velvety and smooth, with an almost sweet aftertaste.  Also a nice bottle--toss a candle in there and you're all set to trick a hippy into sleeping with you!

1: Grey Goose - The standard by which all other vodkas are measured.  I think it's the best, but you'll hear people say whether it's better or worse than Grey Goose, and in what ways.  Goose lost some cred when it started making about 83 various flavored vodkas (do we really need kumquat and pickle infused vodka?), but it's still the leader of the pack.  So smooth--a vodka taste without any alcoholic bite.

I used to be a vodka rocks guy, ow I'm on to gin and tonic, but I had plenty of high-end vodkas in my time.  But, as always, use the comments below to tell me why I'm wrong.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Top 5 Funniest Sitcoms of 2011 (on Cable TV)

We've been through 2011's funniest network sitcoms, but a lot of people still cling to cable to bring the funny.  Here's a look at 2011's top 5 funniest cable sitcoms.

5: It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (FX) - The show that teaches us that pathetic losers can do alright in life, but only relative to other losers.  This show shines when a normal person wanders into a plotline, showing just how pathetic Mack, Dennis, Charlie, Frank, and Sweet Dee are.  The show has slipped in the last two seasons, but the early episodes are gold--the prom episode is one of my all time favorite sitcom episodes from any show ever.

4: South Park (Comedy Central) - It's still classic.  It's still exposing bullshit.  And it's still hilarious when little kids curse.  This show has off-episodes, but generally, it's getting better with age.

3: Louie (FX) - I avoided this show at first because I thought it was about Louie Anderson, which sounds as funny as a kick in the junk, and I didn't want to waste my time watching a fat guy run around while whining.  Besides, I can do that on my own.  But I finally experienced enough peer pressure to watch, and was pleasantly surprised by my first exposure to Louis C.K., a comedic genius.  Everybody praises how real the show is--and I get that--but I think they miss how funny it is too!  It is absolutely a must-watch.

2: The Venture Bros. (Adult Swim) - Even in a world where comic book-type superheroes and villains exist,  people need down time.  The Venture Bros. shows us what happens in that time.  The show is riddled with 80s and 90s subtle pop-culture references.  It's on pretty late, so I am usually stifling laughter to avoid waking my wife up while I watch.

1: The League (FX) - This is one of the few shows on television that still makes me lol.  Literally.  It started as a quasi-clone of It's Always Sunny, but has evolved into it's own entity.  If you haven't seen it, watch one episode--Mr. McGibblets from Season 1.  If that doesn't make you laugh, stop reading this blog and go back to your Golden Girls reruns where Blanche remains one cheeky gal.  Ugh.

It is amazing how many good shows are out there.  Apologies mostly to Curb Your Enthusiasm, which is pay cable so it wasn't eligible, and Psych, which isn't really a sitcom.  Or is and didn't make the cut. Whichever lets you sleep at night.  Have a beef with what I left out or the order these are in?  Bring it below.  I'll fight back.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Top 5 Interesting Things About Lewis Carroll

You know that Lewis Carroll wrote Alice's Adventures In Wonderland and its companion piece Through The Looking Glass.  Here's some things I'll bet you didn't know about this interesting author.

5: In addition to writing, he also illustrated the first editions of the Alice series.

4: He coined the word portmanteau for various terms he used in his famous Jabberwocky poem.

3: Lewis Carroll was his nom de plume.  His real name was Charles Lutwidge Dodgson--which is the name he used on his scholarly writings.

2: "What scholarly writings," you ask?  Well, Carroll Dodgson was a mathematician and logician, writing more than 10 scholarly books and developing the Dodgson's method--a voting system grounded, in part, on the Kendall tau distance metric (yeah, I don't understand it either).

1: Finally, in addition to being the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything (hat tip to Douglas Adams), the number 42 crops up throughout Carroll's works: Rule 42 in Alice is that all persons more than a mile high must leave the Queen's court; in the preface of The Hunting of the Snark, Rule 42 in the preface is "No one shall speak to the Man at the Helm"; in the same story, the Baker has 42 boxes with his name printed on them; the White Queen in Through the Looking Glass is 101 years, 5 months, 1 day old--if her and the other queen are the same age, their combined age is 74,088 days, or 42 x 42 x 42 (remember, he was a mathematician).

So there you go--the 5 most interesting things you never knew about the guy behind Disney's Alice in Wonderland.  Any thoughts?  Share below!  And like us on Facebook...

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Top 5 Best Time Travel TV Shows

Time travel is a major premise for a lot of t.v. shows.  To qualify for this list, a major theme of the show has to be time travel, not one episode (or even multiple episodes, a la the Star Trek franchise).

5: Dinosaur Train - My son occasionally watches this show about a group of dinosaur children who hop on a magical train which takes them through time to various prehistoric eras where they meet and learn about various prehistoric dinosaurs and other creatures.  It's a clever way to expose kids to science and sci-fi, while keeping things light (for example, when a T-Rex meets a pterodactyl, he befriends him instead of eating him).

4: Voyagers! - I vaguely recall this show from my childhood, and that recollection tells me this was the coolest show on television.  Looking back, it lasted only a single season, so my guess is that my memory is highly suspect.  Anyway, the coolest thing about the show was the Omni (the thingy in the top right of the picture)--I was pretty sure it was real and could be purchased at Bradlees.  Of course, I desperately wanted one so I too could travel through time.  Missed marketing opportunity--a good toy line and millions of naive little boys could have saved the show.

3: Life on Mars - Both the U.K. and the U.S. versions of this show are very good (a lot of people disparage the U.S. version, but without good reason).  In this show, Sam Tyler, a cop in the present day, is hit by a car and wakes up as a cop in the 70s.  Both series play great as cop shows and as sci-fi thrillers.  Can't say much more without giving too much away, so just go watch the shows.  Watch the U.K. version first, then the U.S.--the endings are different, and pretty wild.  They are short (2 seasons and 1 season, respectively) so watching won't take long.  Theses deserve your attention.

2: Quantum Leap - Oh boy, this show was good.  Scott Bakula found himself inhabiting the bodies of various people throughout time without any idea why he was there other than to fix some sort of a wrong.  With the help of that guy from Married to the Mob, he righted the wrong and saved the day, only to leap into another time and body he knew nothing about.  Most memorable were when he leapt into himself as a kid.  And the one where he encouraged a young Steven King; that was pretty cool.

1: Doctor Who - The Doctor and his companion travel the universe and the stream of time being awesome.  The Doctor is one of the most kick-ass characters ever dreamt up--the last of the Time Lords, he and a human girl fly around in his spaceship/timeship, which is disguised as an old English police call box, protecting the innocent, and often Earth, from baddies.  Occasionally, he dies and regenerates into a new form, and the character lives on (played by a different actor).  Okay, it sounds hokey; but it's not--really, it's not.  It's really, really cool.  Oh yeah, it's also the longest running and most successful sci-fi show of all time, and has a total of over 780 episodes, so don't take my word for it.

Sorry Sliders fans, I didn't feel comfortable including the show since it jumped to alternate realities where sometimes things seemed like they were in the past or future, rather than actually going to the past or future.  The show just didn't fit the criteria.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Top 5 Favorite Recent Facebook Posts

It's been a while since I did this, so here's the top 5 funniest things I've read on Facebook recently.  I'll only use first names, and let those who were quoted claim their quotes in the comments, if they choose to...


5: Penny - "It's just like 'American Beauty,' only instead of rose petals, it's credit card statements!"

4: Dennis - "Toby Kieth is the personification of White Trash."

3: Christie - "Only 3 sips of wine in, but I feel like I've had 4."

2: Karen - "Why does the word 'poop' make everyone in my house laugh?"

1: Amanda - "Thank you Panera for celebrating my 1 year anniversary of having a Panera rewards card...it's been a beautiful ride so far and things are looking good for our future together."

I'd love it if everyone owned up to their quotes, but I understand if people don't want to.  Anyway, thanks FB friends for keeping things light and funny!  If you've come across any funny FB or Twitter quotes lately, share them with us below!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Top 5 Favorite Words With Bizarre Roots

A portmanteau is a word for which the form and meaning are derived from a blending of two or more distinct forms.  You use these words, but I'll bet you didn't know how they came to be.

5: Smash - After a while, people started to notice how often "smack" and "mash" went hand-in-hand.  Now, we rarely say mash (except with reference to potatoes), and we say smash about as often as smack, if not more.

4: Because - If you act because of something, that something is the cause of your acting.  "Because" is a portmanteau of "by the cause."

3: Internet - An international network of linked computers used primarily for (1) dissemination of pornography; (2) social networking; (3) playing video games; and occasionally (4) working.  For some reason, the short form became "internet" rather than "internetpornfacegamework."

2: Goodbye - Years ago, as Europeans left from a visit, they'd be wished safe travels by the phrase, "God be with ye."  No word on where "smell ya later" came from...

1: Bonfire - Ancient Celts used to burn the bones of cattle slaughtered at the festival of Samhain, the end of summer/beginning of winter ritual, this "bone fire" (banefire in Middle English) eventually gave us the word bonfire.  Crazy, right?  I wonder if the Celts celebrated by playing the homecoming game the next day.

So, portmanteaus...  Did you know that Lewis Carroll coined the term?  Yup, the same guy who wrote Alice in Wonderland.  interesting, right?  he's an interesting guy...  More on him later, probably.  Anyway, comments below (if you can think of other portmanteaus, please share them!), and don't forget to share on Facebook! 

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Sunday musings... Dr. Who.

I am catching up on some Dr. Who while cleaning up and preparing for visitors tomorrow.  This show is just so much fun.  It's clever and funny, but also pretty cool.  Favorite line from this episode: "It's a fez, I wear a fez now.  Fez's are cool."  Anyway, Merry Christmas to those who celebrate it.  Oh, and sarcastic clap for Tony Romo--nice performance for me playing for the fantasy football championship yesterday.

For a glimpse into a small section of the Dr. Who universe, click here--the top 5 t.v. cyborgs.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Top 5 Best Breakfast Cereal Companies

We're dealing solely with cold cereal in this list, so it doesn't matter that the company you like makes the best bagels--they live and die by what we pour milk over every morning.  We already went over the best non-sweet cereals and we will go over the best sweet cereals later.  Here are the best companies behind those cereals...

5: Kashi - Kashi was bought by Kellogg, who has retained Kashi as a distinct brand.  This is the easy #5 on the list.  It has a smaller selection than the big boys below, and what selection it does have is limited to "healthy" cereals such as the GoLean series, Heart To Heart (Oat "Os"), the Granola series, and the Kashi 7 Whole Grain Cereals series.  Look, Kashi isn't gross, but it's more expensive and usually less tasty than its competitors.

4: Quaker Oats Company - Quaker is responsible for Life cereal, which is probably the most popular and delicious cereal that hasn't been copied by other companies.  More importantly, Quaker makes Cap'n Crunch which, despite scraping the roof of your mouth to shreds, is among the best sweet cereals ever made (with Crunch Berries--the regular kind is fine, but the Crunch Berries make the meal).  Quaker also brings us Puffed Wheat and Puffed Rice, as well as Quisp, which is a cereal that seems to be stuck in the 1950s, but tastes pretty good.

3: Post Foods - Cocoa and Fruity Pebbles are enough to vault Post to number three, but add in Honeycomb cereal, and it's no contest.  Post also brings us Alpha-Bits (which are disappointing because they do not contain the entire alphabet), and Raisin Bran (the best of the raisin brans).

2: Kellogg Company - Kellogg's makes one of the greatest cereals of all time: Rice Krispies (and it's sweeter brother, Cocoa Krispies).  Behind that, Kellogg's has some big names, but none really rise to the same level of greatness as Rice Krispies: Raisin Bran, Corn Pops, Frosted Mini-Wheats, Honey Smacks, and Froot Loops.

1: General Mills - This company's tasty breakfast treats reads like a grocery list of deliciousness: Cheerios, Chex, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Cocoa Puffs, Cookie Crisp, Count Chocula, Kix, and Lucky Charms, to name a few.  None of the other companies even come close to the amount of excellent cereals coming out of General Mills.

I never expected this to be so clear--I thought I'd have difficulty choosing between the top 3.  But nope, it was pretty straight-forward.  So there's some information you never needed, never wanted, and will never use.  Yep, that's 2 minutes of life you'll never have back.  Why not make it 5 minutes and add a comment about your favorite cereals (and cereal companies, if you have any) below?

Friday, December 23, 2011

Top 5 Starfleet Captains

Okay nerds, this one's for you.  There are 5 Star Trek t.v. series, so picking the 5 best Captains be a matter of putting the Captains from each series in the proper order, right?  But I'm a firm believer that Janeway sucks, and Tryla Scott (youngest Starfleet officer to make Captain) and Rachel Garrett are much cooler.  I also believe that none of these three should crack this top 5 best list:

5: Mackenzie Calhoun - Calhoun is Captain of the USS Excalibur, and the main character in a series of Star Trek novels and comic books.  His command style is similar to that of Captain Kirk, though he's believed to be a more efficient killer, which makes him sorta scary and potentially a sociopath.  Anyway, the coolest thing about him is that he is the only Star Trek character to never appear in any series or in any movie, yet still have an action figure [nerdgasm].

4: Hikaru Sulu - Sulu was cool on the original Star Trek, but as Captain of the USS Excelsior in Star Trek VI: the Undiscovered Country, he attempts to rescue Kirk and Doctor McCoy, and eventually prevents an assassination attempt on the President of the Federation.

3: Christopher Pike - He was Captain of the USS Enterprise before Kirk, he has shuttlecrafts named after him, and even a city named in his honor (Pike City on Cestus III).  As a testament to his bravery (one example of which was his saving of multiple lives while exposing himself to dangerous rays which left him disfigured and crippled), Pike has the Medal of Valor named after him.

2: James T. Kirk - The first Captain we all knew, played by an actor who couldn't deliver lines and was somewhere between disliked and hated by his cast-mates, Kirk is the biggest icon in Star Trek (along with Spock, who though he served as Captain, never did anything worthy of being in the top 5).  Kirk, as Captain of the USS Enterprise, would be #1 if not for a guy with a French name, an English accent, and an iconic bald head...

1: Jean Luc Picard - The best Captain in the history of the Star Trek universe.  Picard was measured and level-headed, taking suggestions from his fellow officers and friends, but always making his decision after weighing the evidence he gathered.  Plus, he deserves props for putting up with Riker all those years!  My son would have been named Jean-Luc, if my wife allowed it.  Luckily for my son, my wife did not allow it.

Ugh, such a nerd.  Share with other nerds via Facebook, and feel free to comment below.  Oh yeah, random observation--why do all the good Starship names start with an "E"?  

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Top 5 Best Christmas Movies Since 2000

The commercialization of Christmas has had at least one positive side-effect--a proliferation of Christmas movies!  Granted, the millennium is still young, but here are the best Christmas/holiday movies since 2000.

5: Fred Claus (2007) - Vince Vaughn is Santa's brother, Fred.  Fred goes to the North Pole and hilarity mildly humorous antics ensue.  This movie wasn't great, but this wasn't a terrific decade for Christmas movies, so it makes the list.  There are a few funny moments (though a couple seem ripped off from other movies, like #2 below), and it is very watchable.

4: Four Christmases (2008) - Vince Vaughn (still on a Christmas movie kick) and Reese Witherspoon are a modern couple without kids, and with no intention of getting married.  They end up having wacky encounters with their parents and realize all they're missing from life.  It's an entertaining and funny movie.  This won't be a classic, but it's worth watching.

3: Bad Santa (2003) - The story of a horny, jerky crook posing as a mall Santa.  Billy Bob Thornton is hilarious, and dirty.  And really funny.  And really dirty.  He's funny and dirty.  With its great one-liners and literal lol moments, this one is destined to be a classic.

2: Elf (2003) - Will Ferrell is a human raised by Santa's elves who leaves the North Pole for New York City where he meets up with his business executive father.  Ferrell is absolutely terrific in this movie, bringing the same style comedy as in Anchorman and Old School, but slightly softened, making this movie acceptable for the whole family.  Zooey Deschanel also shines in this film as Ferrell's love interest.

1: Love Actually (2003) - This movie is packed with stars and follows a bunch of story lines encompassing a roller-coaster of emotions.  As each of the story lines resolves, you find yourself laughing, crying, smiling, cheering, and falling in love with this movie.  It is at times hilarious, at moments poignant, and almost always unpredictable.  This movie will be watched by people at Christmas for the next hundred years, it's that good.

Who knew that 2003 was such a banner year for Christmas movies?  Full disclosure: I didn't include A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas (2011) because I haven't seen it yet.  Word is it could certainly be good enough to jump right into the heart of this list.  What do you guys think of these flicks?  And should Harold & Kumar be on the list?  Should anything else that I missed?

Check out these other Christmas posts:
Top 5 Worst Christmas Songs
Top 5 Best Kids Christmas TV Specials
Top 5 Obscure Quotes from Popular Christmas Movies
Top 5 Worst Lyrics from "Do They Know It's Christmas?"

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Top 5 Worst Christmas Songs

Intentionally not included on this list are songs that have no following.  For example, there are novelty songs like those using only rubber bands; and there are obnoxious and bad punk cover songs of holiday standards, but nobody listens to these.  This list is intended to compile the 5 popular worst Christmas songs.

5: Do They Know It's Christmas? - Alright, the song isn't so bad, but as I previously noted, the lyrics are too offensive to not include on this list.

4: Dominick the Donkey - When this song was released in 1960, the Italian community loved it.  Now it sounds like a goombah caricature.  It's also just annoying to go from White Christmas or All I Want For Christmas Is You to this abrasive, annoying song.

3: ?Donde Esta Santa Claus? - Aww, it's a kid singing in a different language, isn't that cute?  Nope.

2: We Wish You A Merry Christmas - One verse says, "Oh, bring us a figgy pudding."  Yeah, everyone's clamoring for figgy pudding.  Sounds amazing.  Sure.  And now that the demands are stated, the next verse: "We won't go until we get some."  Nice; really nice. Not only do you want me to give you something crappy-sounding that I'm sure not to have on hand, but you are threatening me with your continued presence unless I acquiesce.  What a terrible song.

1: Christmas Shoes - This is a song about a heartless, hell-bound cashier and his devilish refusal to, on Christmas Eve, provide a cheap pair of woman's shoes to a poor boy which the boy only wants to bring to his mother so she can wear them to meet Jesus after she dies that night from cancer.  Wait, what?  It isn't about the cashier?  Oh, it's about the narrator who learns the true meaning of Christmas when he buys the shoes for the boy?  Well ain't that just sappy.  Notice, the cashier is still a dick who is looking to close the sale.

There are so many beautiful Christmas songs out there, but there are plenty of bad ones as well.  Let's hear what lousy Christmas songs you think were snubbed from this list?  Post your comments below, and please share this on Facebook!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Top 5 Weirdest Creatures I've Eaten

I didn't eat mushrooms until a decade ago, fish until 5 years ago, and I still don't eat pork (it's not religious, I just don't eat it--I'm working on it...).  My weird food phobias are even stranger in light of my willingness to eat some other strange foods.  Here's the top 5 most unusual creatures I've eaten.

5: Buffalo - This isn't so bizarre these days, but it's still not terribly common.  Tastes like beef, only leaner and with a slight sweetness to it.  I had it in burger form, and it was one of the best burgers I've had.

4: Frog - Frog legs, to be precise.  Kermit tastes, well, greasy and slimy.  Plus, the frog that donated his legs was big, but there was still almost no meat on the bones.  I would not eat these again, and am feeling slightly ill from the memory.

3: Alligator - I've eaten alligator on several occasions, and I've yet to enjoy it.  It tastes like greasy chicken.  Really, that's it.  It's slightly rubbery, very greasy, and quite chicken-y.

2: Ostrich - I dunno, it's just poultry.  But I guess it's weird to eat it in the U.S.

1: Whale - I legally ate a whale steak in Reykjavik, Iceland.  A few observations: first, despite what you'd think because of the blubber, my whale steak was very dry; second, it was somewhat tough which, when combined with the dryness, leads me to believe my whale was overcooked; third, I felt pretty bad about eating whale some time after I ate it.  Whales are pretty intelligent and the concept of eating an intelligent creature eventually came to bother me.  Yeah, I know...

So... have you eaten anything bizarre, strange, or unusual (and not just Taco Bell or other fast food joints, including the McDonald's secret menu)?  Share your stories below.  And please, if you enjoyed this post, share it on Facebook!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Top 5 Craziest Kim Jong-il Moments

Kim Jong-il is dead.  For well over a decade, this crazy person (the guy staring at the corn in the picture) ruled North Korea in what most of the world has described as "repressive."  Why do I call him a crazy person?  Read these top 5 craziest things about him, and tell me if you have a better name.

5: In his first game of golf, he shot 38 under par with 11 holes-in-one.  That would be impressive for Tiger Woods on a mini-golf course.  In fact, it is much, much better than any round of golf ever recorded.  

4: He once planned to import and breed giant rabbits to solve hunger problems in North Korea.  Yeah, really.

3: Despite the giant rabbit thing falling-through (and hunger presumably still being a problem), he said: "Unlike in many countries of the capitalist world, [North Korea] is a state free of homelessness, unemployment, prostitution, and starvation."  North Korea: where everyone has a home, a job, and food, but no whores.  And no giant rabbits, so maybe, actually, no food.  And if that's wrong, maybe the others are also wrong, so there may be no job or home.  And there may be whores...  North Korea: live poor and hungry on street, but get laid if you come into money!

2: To stay young, he was said to inject himself with the blood of virgins.  Scientifically literate, image conscious, and ethically-minded?  Maybe he is a god!

1: Sorry, this one isn't funny at all.  He said: "Our nuclear deterrent will be ... a merciless offensive means to deal a just retaliatory strike to those who touch the country's dignity and sovereignty even a bit..."  Given his enormous ego, maybe we're all a little safer without him.

So another dictator is dead.  Here's hoping his son and successor is more reasonable and willing to work toward peace.  Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sunday musings... Community.

There's a nice community of us here coming from all over the world and from all walks of life; it's interesting to hear what everyone has to add.  These posts get a lot of comments on Facebook as well, unfortunately, those comments don't make it here.  So let me make a request--please post here!  But either way it's cool, the guest bloggers and I are just glad you're reading!

Reminder: if you are interested in writing a "top 5" (or several), please let me know a.s.a.p.--the baby is due any day now, and without guest posts, this blog will go dormant for some time...

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Top 5 NYC Holiday Decorations Between My Office and Grand Central

During the holiday season, walking through midtown Manhattan is crazy due to the millions of visitors; but it's worth the hassle to see some of the cool holiday decorations.  Here are my five favorite this year:

5: Big Balls!  Gigantic red ornaments sitting in a pool of flowing water, each several feet across.  (This pic is actually from last year, but they're there again.)

4: The Tree at Rockefeller Center!  When Alec Baldwin isn't getting kicked off flights, he's busy pretending to work at 30 Rock on 30 Rock, the home of this enormous tree!

3: It's my Building in a Box!  What's better than gift wrapped apartment building?  It sure as hell beats a car!

2: Steampunk Christmas!  This is a projection onto the side of a building showing gears and clockwork.  Last year I remember a bunch of bubbles being projected onto this building.  This is way better.

1: The Tree at Bryant Park!  The blue lights are so elegant and beautiful.  Like Rockefeller, this tree is in front of an ice-skating rink, except this tree is much closer.  It's smaller than its more popular cousin at the Rock, but it's by far the best tree in the City.

I'm lucky to work in this city, seriously.  Comments?  Thoughts?  Share them below.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Top 5 Best Kid's Christmas TV Specials

Remember when that swirly CBS "Special" logo appeared?  If it was in December, you knew an awesome Christmas special was seconds away.  Well, since 'tis the season and all that, here you go--the long-awaited, much anticipated, top 5 best Christmas t.v. specials for kids!

5: The Year Without A Santa Clause - This makes the list for 3 reasons: (1) claymation, (2) Messrs. Heat Miser and Snow Miser, and (3) the best fantasy world of any show in this list!  In this world, Santa taking "a day" off (because working 1 day a year can be rough) makes headlines around the world!  Also, there are more supernaturals than in Twlight and True Blood combined!  Heat Miser, Snow Miser, Santa, elves, gnomes, Mother Earth (Gaia), flying reindeer, and more.  It's pretty wild!

4: How the Grinch Stole Christmas - Sing along:
"You're an asshole, Mr. Grinch.
You really are a fuck!
I hate your stupid face, and you really fucking suck, Mr. Gri-inch!
You're a dickwad, and every who knows you is absolutely certain...
that you are a schmucuuuuck!"

3: Frosty the Snowman - I think it was Michael Goudeau who said of Frosty on the old Penn Jillette radio show, "There must have been some animatronics in that old silk hat they found."  Because there's no such thing as magic.  Still, the best take on frosty is from Family Guy (skip ahead to 0:51).

2: A Charlie Brown Christmas - We all know the story.  Snoopy wins an award for gaudiest shit-slepped-together-last-minute-decorations-for-a-dog-house, Charlie Brown picks a shitty tree, nobody can dance, and Linus reads us the Bible.  Honestly, this is my favorite Christmas special to watch now--there's something really charming about Peanuts.  Watching them feels like home.

1: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer - This has it all--claymation, an island of misfit toys, a gay elf who thinks the other elves shun him because he wants to be a dentist and not because they're homophobes, a crazy man who can "taste" silver and gold on a pick-axe, the abominable snow man, a talking snow man, a bunch of songs, and all the usual Christmas stuff.  There are so many disparate but ultimately converging story lines that demand your full attention, you can't help but be engrossed.  Rudolph is the perfect kids Christmas special.

The hardest thing about this list was putting Rudolph over Snoopy, but I think the reindeer deserves it.  The Charlie Brown special is awesome and holds a special place in my heart, but there's too much going on in Rudolph for Charlie Brown to really compete.

Any glaring omissions?  What would be your number 1?  Let us know in the comments below, and as always, please share this on Facebook or Twitter!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Top 5 Worst Time Magazine Persons of the Year

In 1927, Time Magazine started choosing a "Person of the Year."  Time says it is for the individual (or group) who has had the biggest effect on the year's news, and claims it is not necessarily an honor, pointing to several people on this list as proof.  This year it chose "The Protester."  Totally lame choice when you think of the ineffective "Occupy" movement that is currently pissing off Americans daily.  Entirely appropriate if you consider the protesters that have effected change and caused the overthrow of totalitarian regimes throughout the world.  Maybe they could have found a single person, but whatever, I'm okay with it.  Here, however, are some of Time's worst choices:

5: You (2006) - In 2006, you were Time's Person of the Year.  Where do you keep your plaque?  What a damn cop-out.  A flimsy mirror graced the cover, and "you" were chosen because of your presence on the interwebs.  Despite what you may think, however, you were a terrible choice for Person of the Year.  There were lots of better choices in 2006, including Stephen Colbert.

4: The Endangered Earth (1988) - Seriously?  Shut up, Time; shut up.

3: Ayatollah Khomeini (1979) - And now, a list of bad guys for your reading displeasure.  Khomeini was behind the Iran Hostage Crisis, a kidnapping of 52 American Embassy staff who were held as hostages until 1981.  This had already started when he was chosen to grace the Time cover as Person of the Year.  He also called for Islamic revolutions, striving to create a worldwide Islamic state.  A decade later he issued a fatwa on Salman Rushdie for writing a book about a theologically embarrassing part of the Koran.  What a dick.

2: Adolf Hitler (1938) - So I went back and read the article, because I couldn't believe that Hitler was chosen (even though it was just before he started WWII).  This makes my list because even though Hitler was newsworthy and met Time's criteria, the article was critical of Hitler, but not critical enough.  If Time picks a newsworthy bad guy, they need to make it clear he's a bad guy.  This presented Hitler as "the world's No. 1 International Revolutionist" which, in context, was lauding the change he brought while criticizing his rants against Communism and "international Jewry."  It also consistently refers to him by his title, the honorific Fuhrer Hitler.  It states, "His was no ordinary dictatorship, but rather one of great energy and magnificent planning."  Yikes.  But I can't put this as #1.  He is the worst person on this list, but when he was chosen, he hadn't yet revealed the level of his insanity.  Plus, I am certainly biased by a lifetime of belief that Hitler was the worst person ever to live (as I've come to acknowledge over the years that it is a debatable point, sadly).

1: Joseph Stalin (1939, 1942) - Stalin was responsible for the death of millions of people.  Millions.  And it was all before Time made him Person of the Year.  It isn't as though nothing else was going on in 1942 that Time couldn't have found someone more worthy, and perhaps less evil.  Oh yeah, this guy got it twice--fucking twice.

So Time's claim that bad guys get the award honor title(?) because they make the most news in the year is a hollow statement considering Osama Bin Ladin didn't get it in 2001.  Seriously, honoring Hitler is terrible, and honoring Stalin twice is disgusting.  And yeah, Time, it's an award--don't try to bullshit us now.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Top 5 Worst Lyrics from "Do They Know It's Christmas?"

"It's Christmas time, there's no need to be afraid..."  So went the lyrics of Do They Know It's Christmas?  by Band Aid--a supergroup comprised of various artists who donated proceeds to those stricken by famine in Africa, and particularly, Ethiopia.  But there was reason to be afraid, or so it seemed if you listened to the rest of the lyrics.  Here are the top 5 worst lyrics in this song.

5: "There's a world outside your window, and it's a world of dread and fear" - That's how we see Africa--a world of dread and fear.  Not the birthplace of humanity or the land of the Pharaohs of Egypt, the ancient Nubian pyramids in the Sudan, and the famed city of Timbuktu--no it's the world of dread and fear.

4: "Here's to you, raise a glass to everyone; here's to them, underneath that burning sun" - Yeah, let's drink to the starving children of Africa--cheers!

3: "And the Christmas bells that ring there, are the clanging chimes of doom" - I guess they do know it's Christmas time--that's when the ominous sound of Christmas bells chime their message of doom.  Sweet.

2: "Well tonight thank God it's them, instead of you" - Does God hate Africans?  Thank God it's them--we really dodged a bullet by choosing to be born in the U.S.

1: "Where nothing ever grows, no rain nor rivers flow" - There are 6.5 million km of forest in Africa, representing almost 22% of its land area.  The longest river in the world--the Nile--as well as the Congo, Niger, and Zambezi are all in Africa.  Debundscha, Cameroon has the fourth highest average rainfall in the world.  Stuff grows, rain falls, rivers flow, and lyrics fail.

"Do they know it's Christmas time at all?"  Some do, sure, but a lot of them aren't Christians, so maybe not...  So I'll admit, I like this song.  I think it's catchy, and I think the lyrics are sorta funny in their distinct, offensive way.  More importantly, the song made some money to help starving people, which is more than most of us do.  But still, those are some pretty offensive lyrics.  What do you guys think--am I way off-base here?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

QUIZ: Top 5 Acronyms Only Nerds Know

I am a nerd, and this proves it--I can tell you what each of these acronyms stands for.  Can you?  A hint follows each one.  An overall hint: several answers can be found on this page. 

5: TNG - Mr. Crusher would know this one, which sorta sucks.

4: BSG - This acronym was created by man.

3: MIB - Not a movie involving Will Smith, but something you might relate to his action figure.

2: PEBKAC - Everyone in IT should get this; everyone who has called IT has probably had this issue.

1: TARDIS - It's bigger on the inside.

If you aren't embarrassed, post below how many out of 5 you know.  If you think you can stump others, add additional acronyms below as well.  I'll post answers after people have a chance to look.

(If you like this quiz, check out this Christmas movie quote quiz.)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Top 5 Stupidest G.I. Joe Action Figures

G.I. Joe was a highly influential cartoon for every boy in the 80s.  The cartoon world where the quasi-military Joes warred with the secret criminal Cobra organization masterminded by a half-snake, half-man bent on conquering the world blinded us to the fact the show was just a long commercial for the Hasbro toy series.  The toy series premiered in 1982, but became progressively weirder as the cartoon series wore on and gained in popularity.  Below is a list of some of the worst G.I. Joe figures ever made, some for their gimmick, some for other reasons.

5: Shipwreck (1985) - Shipwreck was a sailor.  In 1994, he got a revamped action figure and became a Navy SEAL, but initially, he was a sailor.  He came with a parrot.  The parrot's name was Polly.  His G.I. Joe specialties included deck swabbing and singing songs about the Navy.  He was never helpful.

4: Sneak Peek (1987) - Sneak Peek performed advanced recon for the Joes.  Doubtless his light gray and bright orange costume, combined with his neon green periscope-ish thing, provided Cobra plenty of advanced notice the Joes were lurking nearby as well.

3: Chuckles (1987) - Chuckles is the Joes' spy--undercover as a douchebag in a Hawaiian shirt with an inconspicuous holster over the shirt around his chest and a foot-long blade cleverly disguised as a gigantic knife strapped to his leg.  He was terrible at his job, and his name was Chuckles.
 
2: The Fridge (1986) - The 1986 Bears won the SuperBowl.  William Perry--nicknamed "The Fridge"--was a defensive player who was used occasionally in offensive plays.  In the '86 Super Bowl, he scored a touchdown on a running play, carrying several defensive players with him.  In G.I. Joe, he was only available by special mail order, his weapon was a football on a chain (although the chain was molded plastic, so it was really a football on a pole), and he was listed as a Physical Training Instructor for the Joes.  The Fridge stood 6'2", 382 lbs.  Yup, the Joes had a fat guy as their PT instructor.

1: Ice Cream Solider (1994) - He's not a terrible character--he's a flamethrower commando, whatever that is, and his weapon is pretty bad-ass.  His secondary military specialty--according to his official file card--was "Barbecue Chef."  Yikes.  But really, he's on this list for having the worst Code Name in the history of the franchise.

There is a world of lousy G.I. Joe figures out there.  What are your favorite terrible action figures?  I only saw half of the new movie--were there any goofy new characters introduced in it?  Share your thoughts below.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sunday musings... Presidential politics.

How can it be that the best people we can trot out for the highest office in the land are, on one side, a guy who has largely failed to keep his promises and has been impotent against political gridlock in the first 3 years of his presidency, and on the other side, a series of politicians who are each worse than the last in terms of social policy or, in the worst cases, basic common sense?  Where's our Reagan?  Our FDR?  Our Kennedy?  Hell, I'd take a fictional Jed Bartlet at this point...

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Top 5 Things That Aren't Legal, But Should Be

The U.S. is one of a few countries where freedoms are guaranteed, yet, here's my list of the top 5 things we should be free to do, but aren't.  Crazy, huh?  (Full disclosure, I'll note my personal relation to each issue.)

5: Smoking in bars.  (I don't smoke, and like bars where nobody is smoking.)  If someone opens a bar by getting financing, renting a location, purchasing equipment and supplies, hiring and training staff, and buying advertising, he should be free to do whatever he wants with it.  Yet in a growing movement to ban smoking in bars, bar owners may be subject to a fine.  We all know smoking is bad for you, but grown-ups are free to do bad things so long as they don't adversely affect others.  But this isn't about the smoker's choice to smoke, it's the bar owner's choice to allow smoking.  If a bar owner thinks that a smoking ban will increase business, then he can institute a ban.  Otherwise, he can allow smoking.  It shouldn't be the government's call.

4: Prostitution.  (7-Up approach--never had it, never will.)  Film it and claim it has artistic value and you can pay people for sex; drop the camera and pretense and you can't.  Buy someone a bunch of drinks or flowers to make love, you're cool; give the same person the cash to buy it herself, you're a crook.  People should be free to reign over their bodies, including selling sex, if they desire.  Legalizing and regulating prostitution could generate tax revenue, prevent the spread of disease, give prostitutes basic human rights, and curtail underground prostitution by utilizing the resources currently invested in fighting what amounts to consenual sex between adults.

3: Marijuana.  (I don't use drugs.)  Why is pot still illegal?  It's less harmful than alcohol and almost all, if not all, other drugs.  Two U.S. Presidents admit smoking dope, and no doubt others have done so without copping to it.  A recent poll shows that more than 50% of Americans favor legalization.  Why is it illegal?  Because a myth about the dangers of weed and a culture of marijuana as a gateway drug has developed and persisted, despite scientific evidence to the contrary.  Ridiculous.

2: Gambling.  (I love to gamble, but I'm a cheapskate.)  Every state can make a fortune legalizing gambling.  Centuries old prudishness and bullshit puritanical values provide reasons against legalizing gambling.  It's more of the government deciding that you aren't responsible enough to spend your money, often citing the fact that in a casino, all the odds favor the house.  What's ridiculous is that these same governments often offer state-sponsored lotteries, where the odds of winning are orders of magnitude smaller than the worst games in casinos.  The position is hypocritical and untenable.

1: Gay marriage.  (I am a man married to a woman.)  The best argument against this is some people's amorphous concept of what constitutes a family.  Yet studies show there is not an adverse affect when a child is raised by same sex parents.  Upbringing and cultural biases make people ignore the data.  Ideally, these biases wouldn't affect the government, but politicians often kowtow to their constituency, regardless of the freedoms promised to U.S. citizens.  In 50 years, people will look back at us with disbelief, the same way we look at people who thought anti-miscegenation laws forbidding blacks and whites from marrying were a good idea.  Besides, it's not the government's job to regulate who individuals associate with.  The government should be out of the marriage business altogether.

So that's it.  Sorry it's not funny, but I was in a ranting mood while drafting.  So...  Did this stir anything up in you?  I'll assume anyone who doesn't comment agrees completely (and continue to live in my happy little bubble where everybody thinks like me).  Of course, you could comment below and set me straight.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Top 5 Smurfs

In the 80s, schtroumpfs were everywhere--but we know them as smurfs.  They were on toy store shelves, television, stickers, notebooks, backpacks, lunch boxes; basically anything that could be marketed to a kid had a picture of a smurf slapped onto it.  Their indelible blue faces are burned into my memory.  Here are my top 5 favorite smurfs:

5: Brainy Smurf - Brainy was a know-it-all, a kiss-ass, and an all-around douche.  He was integral to the show, filling the role of "the asshole you love to hate."

4: Jokey Smurf - Jokey's sole contribution to the smurfdom is that he hands other smurfs presents which blow up in their faces.  He's basically a domestic terrorist.  Ridiculous.

3: Smurfette - Gargamel was an evil wizard who wanted to catch smurfs to either eat them (pretty dark, huh?) or turn them into gold.  To capture them, he created a smurf of his own--Smurfette--to lure the other smurfs to him.  She was the first (and for a long time, only) female smurf, giving rise to endless jokes about how all the boy smurfs want to smurf her in the smurf.

2: Vanity Smurf - The smurfs were progressive enough to have a gay character; backwards enough to have him be a caricature of a gay man; and too chicken-shit to be honest and open about it.  Well, it's time to open up the closet door and step on out, Vanity.  It's the 21st century and nobody gives a smurf anymore (except Rick Perry).  

1: Grouchy Smurf - The 80s were a different time; a time where kids' cartoon characters could talk about "hating" things with reckless abandon, and nobody cared.  Grouchy's catchphrase was, "I hate [whatever/whoever]!"  Well Grouchy, I love the lessons you impressed upon my young mind--thanks, and smurf you.

These are the best--or do you think I'm wrong?  Maybe you've seen the movie and that changes things in your eyes?  Share your favorites below.

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