Monthly Archives: February 2012

Doritos Salsa Verde

This is pretty good junk food. The salsa verde flavor is nice and a medium amount of spicy. It’s a good idea to have a beer or soda with it to wash it down. You’re going to have greasy chip fingers when you’re done. Doritos are definitely jean stainers.

Critically Rated at 12/17

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Foster’s

Foster’s. Australian for beer. Sorry, I was obligated to say that. It really is Australian, there’s even a picture of a kangaroo on the can. This is a pretty decent lager, it is better tasting and more flavorful than typical American lagers. My friend lived in Australia for a few months and he said that no one drinks it down there. I’m kind of disillusioned now.

Critically Rated at 13/17

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Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (book)

J.K. Rowling’s fourth entry into the Harry Potter world is a turning point for the series. The book’s length is almost double that of Prisoner of Azkaban. They are no longer children’s books, now they are novels. It is more adult and much darker than previous entries.

J.K. expands the wizarding world in a lot of ways. The Quidditch World Cup is a huge event, drawing witches and wizards from all over the world. She introduces new wizard schools like Beauxbatons and Durmstrang. The Ministry of Magic plays a bigger role, foreshadowing events to come in the Order of the Phoenix. J.K. Rowling starts to explore the political side of the wizarding world, showcasing how the accused Death Eaters were put on trial, and comments about how Fudge is afraid to lose power and control.

Harry and his friends are now teenagers and their hormones are raging. They start to notice to opposite sex. Harry has his first crush, Hermione has her first boyfriend, and Ron gets jealous. Ron and Harry also have a huge argument and spend a significant part of the story being mad at each other. There are a few new notable characters like the snooping reporter Rita Skeeter, the star Quidditch player Victor Krum, Barty Crouch, Sr. and Jr. and perhaps most importantly Mad-Eye Moody.

A lot of the book tackles subject matters that aren’t suitable for kids. People die in this book, innocent muggles like Frank Bryce, Ministry members like Barty Crouch, Sr. and even Hogwarts students like Cedric Diggory. Voldemort comes back, and there is a fierce dual between him and Harry.

Harry is mysteriously entered into the Triwizard Tournament, and he stumbles through the tasks with a lot of help and a lot of luck, but not much skill. Harry’s biggest turning point in the entire series takes place in the graveyard after the third task. “Harry crouched behind the headstone and knew the end had come. There was no hope… no help to be had. And as he heard Voldemort draw nearer still, he knew one thing only, and it was beyond fear or reason: He was not going to die crouching here like a child playing hide-and-seek; he was not going to die kneeling at Voldemort’s feet… he was going to die upright like his father, and he was going to die trying to defend himself, even if no defense was possible….” This is the moment where Harry steps up, where he accepts that he can’t control his fate but he can control how he handles it.

This book was a huge step forward in the saga. The story didn’t just darken, it also became more complex. There are more story arcs and subplots that only become relevant later on. There are subtle lines like, “For a fleeting instant, Harry thought he saw a glimpse of something like triumph in Dumbledore’s eyes” that will eventually get explained in the final few books. And Voldemort finally comes back, and the threat is now real. J.K. Rowling took Potter to the next level, and the phenomenon became justified.

Critically Rated at 14/17

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Back to the Future Part II

This is the best time travelling movie sequel of all time. Marty and Doc pick up right where the first movie ended, rushing to the future with Jennifer in tow to prevent a catastrophe from happening. They end up in Hill Valley in 2015 (30 years from 1985, as opposed to 30 years in the past), and Marty sees what his life with Jennifer becomes (hint: less than ideal).

They prevent one disaster involving Marty’s son, but Future Biff causes a different disaster that changes history and creates a hellish, alternate 1985. The only solution to fixing the present because of something that happened in the future is to go back to the past, and that’s exactly what they do.  Doc and Marty go back to 1955 again, and they revisit the events of the first movie, but just from a different point of view. The two Martys and the two Docs must not cross each other’s paths or it could destroy the universe. It was and still is very surreal and ahead of its time. What a great and novel concept: in a sequel to a movie about time travel, they not only go to the future, but they also go back to the first movie and play with concepts like alternate timelines and the tricky nature of the implications of time travel. We see four different versions of Hill Valley: 1985, 2015, Alternate 1985 and 1955. Each timeline effects the citizens and buildings of Hill Valley in different ways.

The future scenes are great. Hoverboards. Enough said. But there are also references to Slamball (which later became an awesome sport) and a baseball team in Miami. I know that the world won’t end in 2012 because Marty McFly went to 2015.

This is a fun movie, and a smart movie. It is one of the few sequels that lives up to its previous installment. The Back to the Future trilogy is a great trilogy and this is a great second act. The first and third movies are period pieces, commenting on a modern person living in 1955 and 1885, but this movie plays with the concept of time travel and it’s ramifications. In a trilogy that pretends to be about time travel, this is the only one that is really about time travel.

Critically Rated at 15/17

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Ben & Jerry’s Stephen Colbert’s Americone Dream

Ben & Jerry’s presents this vanilla ice cream with fudge covered pieces of waffle cone and swirls of caramel. The fudge coating keeps the cones nice and crispy. This is a very sweet and delicious ice cream with a nice crunchy texture. All in all, it is a good frozen treat. The American Dream might be dead, but this is an adequate substitute.

Critically Rated at 13/17

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Back to the Future

Da duh duhhhhhhhh, da-duh da-duh da-duhhhhh. If you just say that you can’t help but turn it into the Back to the Future theme. It’s epic beyond anything Steve Perry and Journey ever did together. This is a classic movie. Robert Zemeckis directs, Spielberg produces and Christopher Lloyd as Dr. Emmett Brown and the much beloved Michael J. Fox plays Marty McFly. Seriously, how can anyone hate Michael J. Fox? He is just so little and shaky, like a tiny epileptic puppy that you want to take home.  Believe me, I know I’m going to Hell, but at least Gandhi will keep me company.

At first this is a sci-fi flick. Marty meets up with a crazy scientist to test out his latest invention: a time travelling DeLorean. Everyone knows that once the Flux Capacitor hits 88 mph, you get blasted through time to whatever destination you programmed. When it comes to time travelling in style you either go with the DeLorean or a telephone booth, it depends on how stoned you are. Once Marty travels back to 1955, it transitions into being a period piece about the 1950’s.

It is a cool premise: what if you went back in time and saw what your parents were like as teenagers? It is universal, and that is why the film holds up so well. Marty gets in the way of his parents meeting, his mom ends up having a crush on him. Marty needs to set the timeline straight by getting his nerdy father to hook up with his slutty mom before his slutty mom rapes Marty. Throw in a bully named Biff and you have a tale that’s as old as time.

Great story, great characters, great actors, great lines, great soundtrack… Great movie. You’ve seen it, you love it.

Critically Rated at 14/17

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Kettle Salt & Fresh Ground Pepper

These are Krinkle kut Kettle chips in a nice normal flavor. It is not too salty, and it has just the right amount of pepper. It’s good tasting and a great introduction to Kettle brand natural potato chips. These are pretty much the exact opposite of the potato chip spectrum from processed and perfectly formed Pringles. Kettle chips are legit and you deserve to try them. You earned it.

Critically Rated at 15/17

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Red Bull

This is the O.G. energy drink. It is a bit of an acquired taste, but it is better tasting than Rockstar or Monster. It is pretty good for a quick energy boost, but I feel like I’m immune to them now. Vodka and Red Bull: a staple of night clubs, and a delicious treat before work. Red Bull doesn’t really give you wings, but if you drink enough of them you might get a heart murmur.

Critically Rated at 14/17

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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (film)

Alfonso Cuarón directs the third movie in the franchise, taking over for Chris Columbus. The movie is much darker from the get-go, the Warner Bros. logo and opening titles are dark and gray, and we know that the Potter films are only going to get better.

Harry, Ron and Hermione are no longer kids, now they are teenagers. Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson are much more natural on screen in this one. The first two movies they were performing, now they are acting. Believe me, there is a difference. They know their characters now, and this screenplay gives them more material to work with. This movie is more character driven than the first two.

The adult cast continued to improve as well. Gary Oldman joined the cast as Sirius Black, Emma Thompson plays Trelawney, Michael Gambon takes over as Dumbledore, Timothy Spall is great as Peter Pettigrew, and David Thewlis plays Lupin. Not enough can be said about Alan Rickman as Snape, he can always be relied on to kick ass with just a few lines. Snape has a great moment where he instinctively protects Harry, Ron and Hermione from werewolf Lupin, it is insight to his true self.

The first two movies were great for laying out the foundation, but now a more accomplished director is able to build up the franchise.  Cuarón makes the word feel more natural and lived in. The students are still in robes, but they are disheveled and more casually strewn together. The wands are now much more unique and individualized, and they remain so for the rest of the films.  Hogwarts seems explorable and livable. The camera is much more dynamic. It sweeps around, it follows characters, and it gets hit with snow and rain. It feels like another character. This movie was a make or break point for the franchise; a bad director could have ruined everything. Cuarón improved upon everything Columbus did. I don’t have the facts to back this up, but I feel this movie got more people to read the books than any of the other films.

I wasn’t a fan of the time traveling aspect in the book. I feel it is a cheap to have time travel in a saga about magic, and I think J.K. Rowling realized the same and so time travel was never a plot device after Prisoner of Azkaban. That being said, I really enjoyed the time traveling aspect in the movie. They did it right.  Throughout the movie Hermione pops up suddenly, and later Harry gets hit by a rock, Hermione sees something strange, they are saved by mysterious howling, and Harry sees what looks like his father casting a patronus charm. Then later, they go back in time and you find out how Hermione was popping up suddenly, they find out that they threw the rock, that Hermione almost saw herself, that they were the ones howling and that Harry saw himself cast the patronus. And he even goes so far as to explain that he knew he could cast it this time, because he had already done it before.

A great movie, easily one of the best in the series. It is no longer a kid’s movie. Alfonso Cuarón is a great director and this film is proof. It is a part of a greater whole, but he made it very personal and very unique without ruining anything previously established. It sets up some story arcs for future installments, but it also stands out as its own film.

Critically Rated at 15/17

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Steel Reserve

This is an 8.1% High Gravity lager. When you gotta get drunk on a budget, you gotta get a forty. If you get a forty, you might as well get a strong one. Don’t forget the paper bag. Forties taste awful, but if you drink them from a bag you look cool, and that’s worth something. This is a decent forty, it is more drinkable than some, but you’re not looking for good taste, you are looking for a good buzz. This can get you drunk, and that’s all I expect from malt liquor.

Critically Rated at 11/17

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Fanta

Who loves orange soda? Kel loves orange soda. I am not Kel though. And I doubt that you are Kel. I don’t understand people who love Fanta. In a world of root beers, cream sodas, lemon-lime sodas, Mountain Dew, Dr. Pepper and Coca-Cola, why would you choose orange soda? Every once in a while is alright, but if you crave orange soda you are probably a serial killer. Ted Bundy, Jeffery Dahmer, John Wayne Gacy and Charles Manson all loved orange soda. You know that it’s true because this is the internet, and the internet is factual. Anyway, if you drink orange soda it’s either Fanta or Sunkist, and Fanta is decent. Anyway, no, I don’t want a Fanta. Fuck off.

Critically Rated at 11/17

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Disc Golf

Disc golf is a sport that you make fun of, then one day you are bored, and so you finally cave to your hippie friend and try it. Then the next day you go out and buy a few discs of your own. It’s just a fun way to get outside and shoot the shit with some buddies.

Disc Golf is a lot cheaper than real golf. Most courses are free and are in public parks. You only have to spend money on a few different discs, like a distance driver, a mid-range, and a putter. Get a few discs and you are ready to play. Different discs have different flight patterns. Touching discs doesn’t make you gay.

There are lots of YouTube videos with good advice and tips for everything from driving to putting, to different types of throws. The best way to improve your game is to just get out on the course. Keep it fun and casual, and you will meet a lot of people. A lot of people drink or smoke while playing, so you should too. It’s a fun community. Follow course etiquette and let faster parties play through. If you are by yourself, don’t hesitate to ask to join another group. They won’t mind, and if you’re new they will offer you advice and maybe let you try out a few of their discs to see which ones are right for you.

Disc Golf is growing rapidly in popularity each year. You should jump on the bandwagon now so you don’t seem like a tool later.

Critically Rated at 14/17

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Kettle Brand Sweet Onion

First off, these are not krinkled like the better Kettle chips. That’s a few points lost right there. And it loses a few more points for the unusual taste. I didn’t know that sweet onion was a desirable flavor for a potato chip. I didn’t know that people were demanding a chip that was reminiscent of sweet onions. It seems like it would be weird tasting. And so I tried it, and it is weird tasting. It tastes vaguely of sweet onions I guess, and so if you like sweet onions and want to taste a potato chip that tastes like that, you might like these chips. Maybe.

Critically Rated at 7/17

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House M.D.

Rather than write a review I will just write the average episode outline.

We begin outside the hospital. This week’s guest star is doing something really cool or really mundane. And then they start spitting blood, or maybe they faint, or possibly start speaking in gibberish while shitting themselves. And then we go to the opening credits.

Now we are in the hospital and House is insulting his team and berating them for no particular reason. Then someone brings up a case and House doesn’t care, then they mention a weird symptom, and then he does care.

Meanwhile someone on House’s team, or maybe Wilson does something to annoy House. Maybe they have a prank war, or a bet going, or have a personal issue that House needs to exploit. This is this week’s subplot.

The patient is getting better. Then they get a new symptom. Maybe their vision goes blurry, but usually they start pissing blood. Sometimes they get blisters or a rash. All it means is that they were wrong the first time and now we need to start antibiotics or steroids. They are getting better and it looks like things will be wrapped up earlier than usual.

Meanwhile in the subplot, something funny or zany happens, or maybe someone is super pissed off or two team members start bonding. We have to make these characters likeable, watchable, and relatable, because most doctors are lame but this is FOX and they can’t be mundane.

The patient was responding to treatment, but now another symptom pops up. What hasn’t happened yet? Um, they lose hair or their toes are turning black. If the team hasn’t suggested Lupus yet, they will suggest it now. Either way, they start another treatment, maybe a total blood transfusion or leeches.

We go back to the subplot, and it is getting resolved somehow. Maybe House is telling Wilson something about how Wilson can’t win the prank war because he is “too lame.” And saying “too lame” will make House realize that something about the patient’s heart is “too lame,” and now he knows what is wrong and how to treat the patient. The patient is saved in the knick of time, wakes up and spouts some profound words of wisdom, maybe has a little moment with House, and that’s the show folks.

Imagine 8 seasons of that, with occasional episodes that stray against the formula and you have a cool medical show. Hugh Laurie is amazing as House. He is a great character, basically a medical Sherlock Holmes with an attitude. He is a dick, but he’s a genius so he gets away with shit. It’s a pretty solid show, and 8 seasons is an accomplishment. Check it out if you haven’t.

Critically Rated at 13/17

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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (book)

The third installment of Harry Potter finds the young wizard and his pals back at Hogwarts for another magical year. New teachers like Professor Lupin and Trelawney provide Harry with insight to his past (and future). A shadowy character from James and Lily’s past escapes from Azkaban prison, and rumor is he is looking for Harry.

This book is longer and darker than the previous two books. It is on the cusp of no longer being a children’s book. Voldemort is notably absent. In fact, there is no real antagonist in this story. We are lead to believe that Sirius Black is the villain, but he turns out to be anything but. Another thing that sticks out is the use of time turners. Twist it a few times, and you go back in time a few hours. Hermione uses one throughout the year in order to go to all her classes, some of which overlap. Hermione and Harry use it at the end to rescue Buckbeak and save Sirius.

It is worth nothing that Sirius Black is the Prisoner of Azkaban, so the book is essentially called Harry Potter and Sirius Black. Harry finds a father figure in him, and Lupin to a lesser degree as well. Lupin is a great teacher. He brings out the best in Harry and teaches him advanced magic. Harry is starting to become powerful. In the first two books, he relied on luck and help from his friends. Now he is capable of producing a patronus charm to take on dozens of dementors at once.

James Potter, Sirius Black, Remus Lupin and Peter Pettigrew were best friends when they were students at Hogwarts. They invented the Marauder’s Map, and Harry uses it throughout the book and through the rest of the series. Sirius Black seems to be a threat at first, and than you find out he is a good guy. Lupin was a good guy the whole time, but at the end he transforms into a werewolf, and he becomes a threat. It’s a cool role reversal. Trelawney seems to be a fraud, but then she makes an actual prediction and in later books we find out more about her past prophecies.

The names of the characters usually are clues to their true nature. Remus and Romulus were the two wolf cub brothers who founded Rome. Sirius is the dog star. Black is a reference to Rebecca Black and her dark magic corrupting the innocent.

This is a fun read, and it sets up even more story arcs that get resolved in later books. You start to see that J.K. Rowling had Potter all mapped out, and this book is when shit starts to get crazy.

Critically Rated at 15/17

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City Slickers II: The Legend of Curly’s Gold

I’m not much of a Hollywood insider, but I have noticed that if a film does well financially it sometimes warrants a sequel. Some sequels are actually better than the original. And some sequels are totally unnecessary and cheapen the first film. If you are unsure which of those two categories City Slickers II falls under, just look at the second part of the title: “The Legend of Curly’s Gold.” Still not sure? It is an unnecessary sequel.

The premise is that (Mitch) Billy Crystal finds a treasure map in Curly’s old hat. Mitch, Phil (Daniel Stern), and Glen (Mitch’s brother, played by Jon Lovitz) decide to go in search of Curly’s gold. Oh yeah, and Curly had an identical twin brother named Duke, and Duke is just as tough as Curly. The only real difference between the two is that Curly was a cowboy and Duke was a Merchant Marine, and Duke’s name is Duke and not Curly.

So the four of them go on a treasure hunt, following the map and shit happens along the way. Eventually they find a cave, and in the cave they find a treasure chest. And in the treasure chest is gold! But then it turns out it was only fake gold, and they are sad for a minute, before they realized that even though the blatantly failed, they still succeeded in a way (even though they really failed). And then they all go home.

Just when you think that it’s the end to a shitty movie, Duke comes back to visit Mitch one more time. It turns out that Duke found the real gold, and he wants to share it now. Because he had a change of heart for some reason, because why not?

It is a tolerable movie, but it definitely cheapens the original. There are a few funny moments, but the first one had more laughs, more heart, and was much better. Lame sequels are a Hollywood tradition.

Critically Rated at 8/17

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Planters Salted Peanuts

Planters sells nuts. Salted and shelled peanuts in this case. According to the ingredients, it contains peanuts and peanut oil. If you are allergic to peanuts I would not recommend them. If you like peanuts and your doctor says it is ok for you to eat them, then I would recommend them. Peanuts are good, and Planters knows how to salt a peanut and make a good thing even better. Good job with these nuts.

Critically Rated at 13/17.

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