Reflections on Maui

What’s better than vacation? A Hawaiian vacation of course. I just came back from a week basking on the beautiful beaches of Maui. I went with my girlfriend and one of our best friends. I had been to Maui once before with my family when I was a senior in high school, but this time I was in control of the situation. We were going to do things our way. Naturally that means we did a bunch of touristy things.

We went snorkeling. We went whale watching. We shopped on Front Street in Lahaina. We drove the scenic Road to Hana. We jumped off Black Rock. We went to a luau. We ate Spam and I had shaved ice. We stayed in a shitty hotel one night, camped illegally on the beach another night, but stayed in posh resorts the rest of the time. We saw turtles and whales and wild chickens and I even saw a small shark.

The weather was perfect. It was usually eighty degrees or so during the day. It rained a few times but it was always welcome. The night sky was stunning. I saw more stars than I’ve seen in years.

Maui is relatively small but there is a lot to do. We only hit half of our checklist. We did Molokini but not Haleakalā. We rented a car but not bikes. We hiked in the jungle but didn’t go zip lining. I don’t mind not doing everything we wanted to. It gives me a reason to go back.

The worst thing about Maui is coming home. Real life is a drag. All I can think about is how much better life was a week ago with the sand beneath my toes. I’ll be back there again as soon as I can. Next time might be forever though.

Critically Rated at 16/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

Leave a comment

Filed under Entertainment

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch is an interactive movie from the amazing series known as Black Mirror. It’s like those choose your own adventure books you remember from childhood, you get presented with choices as to what you want the main character to do. Different choices lead to different outcomes and you feel like you’re controlling the action.

The basic premise is about a video game programmer named Stefan (played by Fionn Whitehead) making a video game adaptation of a book called Bandersnatch. Situations come up and you the viewer choose what Stefan will do. Will he eat Frosties or Sugar Puffs for breakfast? You decide. Of course, this being Black Mirror the choices get more varied and bizarre. It becomes very meta and self aware. Stefan comes to realize that he is not in control. I can’t go into any more detail without giving anything away, so I’ll stop my synopsis on that note.

There are multiple endings so repeat viewings are necessary. This is more than an episode of Black Mirror. It is an event. It sticks with you when it’s over. It makes you question if free will is real or not. It makes you want to talk about it with others and compare your experiences and endings. There are a lot of references to other Black Mirror episodes but I think you can enjoy Bandersnatch even if you haven’t seen the show before. Black Mirror is one of the best shows on Netflix and Bandersnatch proves why. Check it out. You’ll thank me later.

Critically Rated at 17/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

Leave a comment

Filed under Entertainment

The Perfect Job

I couldn’t fall asleep the other night. I was tossing and turning, my mind was wandering, and I inadvertently thought of the perfect job: caretaker for a rich person’s bomb shelter. Duties would include upkeep and maintenance, making sure it’s fully stocked with food, water, and supplies to last a few years. The richer the person, the more perks it would have like movies, books, music, video games, board games, basically anything needed to stave off boredom. That includes plenty of alcohol and hash oil.

The job would pay six figures because it’s a made up position and I think it should pay that much. It would allow for a comfortable lifestyle. Benefits are included of course. Medical, dental, 401(k), all that jazz. The best part is that if the apocalypse ever does happen, you simply take over the bomb shelter and lock the owner out before he can use it. You hunker down and enjoy the underground mansion and wait it out for a few years. Hopefully society will have collapsed and you won’t have to face any repercussions.

Critically Rated at 17/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

Leave a comment

Filed under Random Rants

Searching for Sugar Man

I was scrolling through Netflix looking for a good documentary to watch. I wanted something happy and uplifting and came across Searching for Sugar Man. I recognized the title because my friend had recommended it to me a few months ago, but I never got around to it. I decided to give it a go. I’m glad I did because it was fucking awesome.

It’s the real life story of Rodriguez, a forgotten Detroit musician who was active in the late ’60s and early ’70s. His sound was like a more urban Bob Dylan, there’s a gritty poetry to his lyrics. He released a few albums but they didn’t sell well in the US and he was dropped from his label.

His music somehow became popular in South Africa and he became a cultural icon there. However this was during apartheid so South Africa was isolated from the world. Nobody knew anything about him except for his name and his music. The documentary explores his impact on the South African music scene and follows two fans trying to track down information on who he was and how he died.

It’s a pretty riveting story. Writer and director Malik Bendjelloul does a good job of introducing Rodriguez’s music and the reasons why his songs are still relevant. The soundtrack is comprised entirely of Rodriguez songs. The film won the 2012 Oscar for Best Documentary so you know it is good. Spoiler Alert: there is a happy twist part way through that might just shock you if you aren’t familiar with the story. I highly recommend Searching for Sugar Man.

Critically Rated at 16/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

Leave a comment

Filed under Entertainment

Avocado

I’m from California and that means I like avocados. The avocado is king in California. People pay ten bucks for avocado toast. They will spend two bucks to add two slices of avocado onto their burger. If they had avocado milk people would buy it. California is crazy for avocado.

I’m going to name some fun avocado facts for you. The avocado you’re most familiar with is the Hass avocado. Who is Hass? I don’t know, but he’s immortalized through his namesake avocado. Some people call avocados alligator pears. I wish we all did. Avocados should have gone extinct alongside megafauna after the last ice age. Animals like the giant ground sloth would eat the fruit and poop out the seed. A mound of ground sloth poop makes for great fertilizer, ensuring the growth of a new avocado plant. Humans developed a taste for the avocado and decided to keep it around.

Finding the perfect avocado is an art form. They are notoriously fickle fruits. Sometimes they aren’t ripe and are hard and inedible. Sometimes they are overly ripe and become brown and mushy and gross. But the perfect avocado deserves to be praised and enjoyed. You could eat it plain, but if you add some salt, pepper, and a squeeze of lime you’ll be in heaven.

You might think I’m eating an avocado as I write this but you’re wrong. I’m just craving a good avocado. I went on a quest to find one. I went to five produce stores within a three block radius and couldn’t find an adequate avocado. Avocado season is over. I might as well go into hibernation. Wake me up when it’s 2019 and avocados are back.

Critically Rated at 16/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

Leave a comment

Filed under Snacks

Urban Dictionary

Urban Dictionary is a website where users can define a word or term so that the uninformed can become informed of what the damn kids are saying these days. Not sure what thicc means? Go to urbandictionary.com to find out.

You can upvote or downvote definitions so the most popular ones are viewed first. I know this because I defined Novato, my hometown, over a decade ago and I’m still the number one definition. That’s impressive. I should put it on my resume, along with the time that I won HQ. But alas, I’m too modest so I’ll stick to humble bragging on my blog that nobody reads anymore.

Critically Rated at 13/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

Leave a comment

Filed under Random Rants

Zoomies

You know when a dog gets super excited and starts zipping around all crazily? Those are the zoomies. It’s one of the best things dogs do (it’s hard to top unconditional love for their masters though). My dog gets the zoomies when we let him off leash at the park or beach and usually whenever me or my girlfriend comes home from a long day at work.

I always knew about the zoomies but I didn’t know there was a term for it until I discovered the subreddit dedicated to them on Reddit. You better believe I wasted a whole afternoon glued to my phone after that discovery. Life doesn’t get much better that watching hyper dogs running around excitedly. Happy dogs make happy people.

Dogs weren’t meant to stay cooped up all day. They need space to run and play and let out all their energy. They need the zoomies. Don’t deny them that. And make sure you record them so you can upload them to the internet and share them with the world. We all deserve to enjoy the zoomies.

Critically Rated at 15/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

Leave a comment

Filed under Random Rants

My Good Deed at Jack in the Box

I work at a corporate restaurant and have dealt with a lot of shitty customers. I bite my tongue and turn the other cheek because I have to. The end result is that I hate cheap people who do scummy things to get free food. A few months ago I was at Jack in the Box and there was an irate customer in front of me yelling at the teenaged cashier. From what I gathered, the customer was really upset that the cashier asked him if he wanted only an Ultimate Cheeseburger or the entire meal. The customer was going off, calling the cashier all sorts of nasty things.

Then the customer fucked up and asked me a question: “Hey buddy, wouldn’t you be upset if you clearly ordered one thing and they kept on trying to get you to buy more things that you don’t want?”

Finally I had a chance to voice my opinion to a shitty customer without getting into any trouble. I looked that asshole dead in the eye and said “First off, I’m not your buddy. And no, I wouldn’t be upset that he’s asking if I want to upgrade to the meal. That’s his job. You seem like the type of person who would also complain if he didn’t offer you the meal. You’re cheap, you’re rude, and you’re wrong.”

The guy didn’t seem to like my answer very much and called me an asshole. I told him he was an angry person. He went back to yelling at the cashier before he stomped away without buying anything. I went up to the cashier to order. He thanked me for having his back and gave me a coupon for a Jumbo Jack. I told him that it was my pleasure. I’ve been wanting to do that for a long time. Who knew that good deeds could be so satisfying?

Critically Rated at 16/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

1 Comment

Filed under Random Rants

I Won HQ

Well, it finally happened. I won HQ. For those out of the loop, HQ is a live daily trivia gameshow that you play on your smartphone. You try to answer all twelve questions correctly and the winners split the jackpot. The questions come in a variety of categories like sports, history, pop culture, science, etc. Every now and then they have a themed game.

Last night’s game was focused on the American version of The Office. I was stoked and had a feeling I would do well. I watched it while it was airing weekly on NBC. It’s one of my Netflix background shows. I’ve also seen tons of YouTube compilations like Dwight’s best moments and every “That’s what she said!” so I felt prepared. I even had an extra life for playing five days in a row. I was at my dive bar and we had a group of eight each playing on our own phone. I had an extra life and I was sandwiched between two diehard fans of The Office. I was set.

The game began and the first few questions were easy as they always are. What was the name of the company they work for? Which character wasn’t in the pilot? The questions got harder as the game went on. I got knocked off around question seven. That extra life came in handy and I am not ashamed to have used it. I got back in the game and got right back in a grove. Which character didn’t dress up like a cat at Halloween? Who passed out at the Christmas party?

Before I knew it everyone else that I was playing with was eliminated and it was just me left. Everyone gathered around my phone and we worked together to advance me forward. I got to question twelve and the world got quiet and time slowed down. Where did Jim and Pam have their first kiss? I thought it was on the booze cruise but my friend Debbie said it was after the Dundies which was hosted at a chain restaurant. I went with her answer and victory was mine. I got it right. I finally won after eleven months of playing HQ. I celebrated. My fellow players cheered. The bartender rang the bar bell. My friend from Miami texted me congratulations. I became an HQ champion! I won fourteen cents. I’m not sure how much it will be after taxes, but that doesn’t matter. I won HQ. I don’t have to play anymore!

Critically Rated at 16/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

Leave a comment

Filed under Random Rants

Hiking Boots

I hiked Yosemite’s iconic Half Dome in June. It’s an epic sixteen miles and good hiking boots are essential to conquer the Dome. I used the hike as an excuse to get a new pair. I went to Sports Basement and tried on a few before settling on the Tor Tech mid waterproof shoe by Hoka One One. They are great hiking boots. They provide a lot of ankle support, they are really comfortable, relatively lightweight, provide great traction over rough terrain, and are waterproof. They are a bit too bulky to be an everyday shoe, but they make you want to go hiking so you have an excuse to wear them. This isn’t an advertisement for Hoka One One, it’s just an ode to hiking boots in general.

Critically Rated at 15/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

Leave a comment

Filed under Random Rants

Bug Spray

I have eleven cans of bug spray in my house. That’s a lot of insect repellent. Most of them are slightly used and four of them are at least halfway gone. I don’t have a bug spray fetish. It’s not a collection. It’s an accumulation. I go hiking/camping a lot and always seem to forget to bring bug spray so then I have to make a pit stop and pick up a new can. I bring the can home and add it to my stash. It’s a vicious cycle. I haven’t gotten West Nile yet though, that’s gotta be worth something.

Critically Rated at 8/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

Leave a comment

Filed under Random Rants

Your Hair Looks Nice Today

I overheard one of my coworkers saying “Your hair looks nice today!” to my manager. My manager thanked her. I don’t know why. “Your hair looks nice today” is not a real compliment. Why can’t her hair just be nice? Why did she have stress today? It’s the equivalent of saying that your hair is usually a mess but it looks good at this particular moment. It makes you question what your hair looks like on a daily basis. It’s like when someone comments that you’re in a good mood. That means you’re usually an asshole. You got to read between the lines. Not all compliments are compliments. Your hair looks nice today. Normally it doesn’t.

Critically Rated at 4/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

Leave a comment

Filed under Random Rants

Fantasy Football

The NFL season is four weeks in and that means fantasy football is in full swing. Fantasy football is a game where you and your friends form a league and each person has their own team. It starts with a draft: each person picks real NFL players to fill out their own roster. Each week you play head to head against another friend, accumulating wins, losses, and points. There are surprise victories and stunning upsets. And a whole lot of shit talking. It’s not fantasy football without shit talking.

There is some skill involved, but it’s mostly luck. For example I currently have fifty points more than my league leader, but I’m in third place because I lost two close games and he is undefeated. I have more than a hundred points more the person in second, but she has won one more game than me so she’s better. Points are nice. Wins are what really matter though. As the great Vin Diesel says, “It doesn’t matter if you win by an inch or a mile. Winning is winning.” If you win you are obligated to let your opponent know that you beat them with an insulting GIF and a taunting message in the group chat. It’s the only way to play.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

Leave a comment

Filed under Entertainment

Cursive

I spent the majority of third grade learning to write cursive alongside my classmates. We had to use cursive on every paper in fourth, fifth, and sixth grade. Then we got to seventh grade and we didn’t have to use it anymore. Papers were either typed or written in print. It’s been two decades since the last time I used cursive regularly.

I wrote my name in cursive today, just to see if I could still do it. I could. It looked sloppy but it was legible. I was actually a little impressed with myself. It became a bit of a game. I challenged my coworkers to write their names too. Most of them succeeded but there were a few spectacular failures.

Learning cursive was a huge waste of time. We should have learned how to code instead.

Critically Rated at 3/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

Leave a comment

Filed under Random Rants

Three Thousand Meter Run

I went to a private school that was kindergarten through eighth grade. Once a year there was a school wide track and field day. All the students from grade 4-8 would choose two events and everyone had their moments to experience the glory of competition. The most popular events drew the best athletes, I thought I could cheat the system and get a medal by choosing a fringe event. Instead of competing against fifty kids in the hundred meter dash or high jump, I chose the three thousand meter run against six kids.

I was in fourth grade at the time, making me ten years old. I was the youngest one in the race, the others were all thirteen or fourteen and had been running the three thousand for years. They dominated me. I was so slow and they were so far ahead and there was no way I could beat them. I forget how many laps we had to complete but it was a lot, and that was a long time to know that I’m going to be in dead last. I just put my head down and kept on running around the track.

After a while I heard cheering. I thought someone finally won and it would be over soon. I kept running. I heard more cheering. I kept running. More cheers. And then my name. I realized that the cheers were for me. My fellow fourth graders were cheering for me, rooting me on. They didn’t care that I was clearly losing. They just didn’t want me to give up. I can’t remember how long it took me to cross the finish line but I did it and I did it because of them. It was a great feeling. Like something out of a Disney sports movie. I never ran the three thousand again. I never needed to. I already did it.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

Leave a comment

Filed under Random Rants

I Have Two Places in San Francisco

I moved into my girlfriend’s place a few weeks ago. It’s a big step in our relationship and our lives. Congratulations to us. It was not as smooth of a transition as it could have been because I still had to pay the last month’s rent for my old spot. It was a waste of eleven hundred bucks, but I technically have two residences in San Francisco right now. That’s twice as many as the average person. I believe that makes me a baller. I can either sleep downtown or retreat to my quieter house in the Presidio. I have options. I only have another week of dual residency and you can bet that I’ll be gloating as much as I can while I can. How many places do you have in San Francisco? Oh, I have two. Two places in San Francisco in 2018. That’s just how I roll. It’s more convenient than having one.

Critically Rated at 16/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

Leave a comment

Filed under Random Rants

SpikedSeltzer

I’m a beer drinker. I like to drink beer. But sometimes beer is too heavy and I want a lighter alternative. That’s when I go for SpikedSeltzer. SpikedSeltzer is a brand of alcohol-infused sparkling water. It comes in a variety of flavors, each one is crisp and refreshing with a 6% alcohol content and only five grams of carbs per 16oz can. You can drink it straight from the can, but it tastes better over ice. You can even use it as a mixer. It comes in cranberry, lemon, lime, orange, and grapefruit.

They can be dangerous because you can’t taste the alcohol. It tastes just like sparkling water. Maybe it is psychological but I feel like it doesn’t dehydrate me. It’s my new alcohol of choice if I want to get a buzz while being active or for day drinking under the sun. The biggest downside to SpikedSeltzer is that it’s not really popular yet. I went to six different stores around my house to find it and didn’t have any luck. I found a twelve pack of it at Target and snatched it up. If you happen to come across it, don’t hesitate to pick it up. It’s worth it.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

Leave a comment

Filed under Drinks