Monthly Archives: November 2013

High School Reunion

Today is my ten year high school reunion. It’s been ten fucking years since I graduated high school. It’s mindboggling. It’s crazy to think about how much time has gone by and about how much I’ve changed. For starters, I was pretty much straight edge in high school. I didn’t really drink and I only smoked once a year on 4/20. It’s not like that anymore. I’m not actually going to go to my high school reunion. There’s no need to. I’m still in touch with most of the people that I want to be in touch with. And there are way too many classmates that are now married with a mortgage and kids. I still am a kid. I’m younger now than I was back then. I liked high school and I liked my class and I have my yearbook if I’m ever feeling nostalgic. I just don’t think I have the stomach to be reminded of my mortality and see how many gray hairs everyone has now. That’s not my idea of a fun Saturday night. Maybe I’ll have the balls to show up for the twenty year reunion. Nonetheless, I wish everyone in Novato High School’s Class of 2003 the very best. Here’s to the night.

Critically Rated at 11/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Calling It

There are times when you’re watching events unfold and you know what’s going to happen before it happens. Calling it means that you’re not only paying attention, but that you’re an active participant in events that you have no control over. It makes you feel more involved. You’ll be watching the game, notice how the defense is lined up, you’ll tell everyone within earshot that there will be an interception, and, lo and behold, there’s an interception. Congratulations, you have just called it. Other times you’ll be at a party and see two drunk strangers make a connection, and you’ll announce that they’ll be disappearing together soon. A few minutes later you’ll notice that there’s a line outside the bathroom door and no sign of the drunken couple. Looks like you called that one too. Calling it is a fun game. It doesn’t matter how often your prediction turns out to be wrong because they will only remember the times that you were right.

Critically Rated at 13/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Broke (documentary)

Broke is documentary that explores the reasons how so many professional athletes squander their money and end up declaring bankruptcy. It was the premiere episode of ESPN’s 30 for 30 Volume II, and was directed by Billy Corben. Various athletes from the MLB, NBA, and NFL give interviews and provide insight about how they wasted their millions of dollars. They buy mansions, luxury cars, and outrageous jewelry. They pay child support and huge divorce settlements. They loan money to family and friends and never get paid back. They gamble and make it rain at strip clubs. They get hurt and injured and never see that big paycheck. They are forced to retire by age thirty-three and have no work experience to get a real job. They don’t know how to save, they make bad investments, and they get swindled.

Broke is an interesting documentary because sports stars become icons, they become heroes and it’s fascinating to see your heroes lying in the gutter. Sad, yes. Tragic, yes. But definitely fascinating. You realize how easy it is to waste a fortune. Some of them lost their fortunes because of bad luck and bad circumstances. But most of them lost their money out of sheer arrogance and stupidity. And all of them have an interesting tale. Check it out, I watched it on YouTube and you can too.

Critically Rated at 12/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Leftovers

Another Thanksgiving has come and gone, and hopefully your refrigerator is stocked with leftovers. Leftovers are the extra food that you still have at the end of a meal. You put them in Ziploc baggies, Tupperware, a to-go box, or in tin foil and stick it in the fridge. You pop it into the microwave and nuke it whenever you need a quick snack or bite to eat. A lot of college kids rely on leftovers to get from Thanksgiving to Christmas break without starving. Some food is more perishable than others. I wouldn’t recommend taking home fish or other types of seafood. Nachos get all soggy when you try to reheat it. Chinese food and pizza make the best leftovers. You don’t even need to heat up the pizza if you’re feeling lazy. A lot of leftovers stay in the fridge too long. They get moldy and inedible and you have to throw it out. That about sums up what is wrong with Americans: we get more food than we can possibly eat, and then we hoard it and hide it until we have to throw it away. But leftovers are a tradition, and you can’t leave Thanksgiving dinner without a slice of pie.

Critically Rated at 12/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Taking an Alternate Route

People usually have a set route for getting to where they need to be. You go the same way to work every single day. You go the same way home every single night. You see the same things and the same sights day in, day out. Every once in a while you have to go a different way or you’ll go crazy. When you come to a fork in the road, take it. The world has a lot to offer, and taking an alternate route is a good way to discover what’s out there. You’ll find a restaurant you’ve never eaten at. You’ll notice a park that you’ve never been to. You’ll see things that you never would have seen if you stuck to your old routine. Taking an alternate route might change your whole life, but you’ll never know unless you take a chance.

Critically Rated at 13/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Ocean Spray Cran-Lemonade

Ocean Spray Cran-Lemonade is a cranberry and lemonade juice cocktail. I like it. It tastes good and it’s refreshing. Cranberry juice and lemonade make a good team. Cranberries are tart, lemons are sour, and they go great together. This isn’t a healthy beverage. A 15.2 fluid ounce bottle has 53 grams of sugar. That’s a lot of Pixie Stix. It does have 100% of your daily Vitamin C content so there are some benefits I guess. Ocean Spray Cran-Lemonade is slightly more satisfying than your average lemonade hybrid. There are better tasting, more refreshing, and healthier lemonades on the market, but you shouldn’t be too picky about lemonade. There’s nothing wrong with settling for Ocean Spray.

Critically Rated at 11/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Four Days in October (documentary)

Four Days in October is one of the many documentaries in ESPN’s 30 for 30 series. It focuses on the Boston Red Sox during their improbable comeback in the 2004 ALCS against the New York Yankees. As you might recall, the Red Sox were down three games to none in a best of seven series. The Red Sox were playing their hated rivals for a chance to go to the World Series and break the “The Curse” once and for all. But no team had ever come back from a three game deficit, and one more loss would mean the end of the season. It looked like the Yankees had it in the bag.

But there’s one thing that separates baseball from most other sports: there is no clock. You have to play to the last out. It sounds cliché, but it’s really not over until it’s over. Positive attitudes, clutch performances, and key hits kept the Red Sox alive. They proceeded to win the next four games in spectacular fashion, inspiring a nation along the way. Those four days in October gave baseball fans some of the most memorable moments in MLB Playoff history: Kevin Millar and his motivational pep talks, Curt Schilling and his bloody sock, Dave Roberts and his game-shifting steal, and the invincible bat of David Ortiz are just a few that stand out.

You don’t have to be a baseball fan to appreciate this documentary, but it certainly helps. It also helps if you hate the Yankees. Four Days in October does a good job of capturing the excitement and energy happening in the Red Sox dugout and locker room. You can tell the players know that they are in the middle of something special. They know that destiny is on their side; they just have to enjoy the ride.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Blue Raspberry Flavor

Why is Blue Raspberry such a popular flavor for candy? I can understand why Raspberry would be so popular. It’s kind of sweet, it’s kind of tart, it’s a very well balanced flavor. But why do they have to make it blue? I guess it makes it a little bit more fun but candy is already fun, they don’t need to dye it unnatural colors. The only thing Blue Raspberry flavors do is stain your tongue blue, and that’s not always a good thing. Sometimes you try to hide fact that you have candy. You’ll pop a piece into your mouth when nobody is looking. But you can’t be discreet if you have a blue tongue. Everyone knows that a blue tongue means that you have candy, and then you’ll have to share with everybody. A blue tongue is a dead giveaway, and an unfortunate side effect of a Blue Raspberry flavor.

Critically Rated at 10/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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The Tommyknockers (book)

Late last night and the night before,

Tommyknockers, Tommyknockers, knocking at the door.

I want to go out, don’t know if I can,

‘Cause I’m so afraid of the Tommyknocker man.

The Tommyknockers is a 1987 sci-fi novel written by Stephen King. It takes place in the same universe as most of his other books, but this one is about aliens as opposed to ghosts and monsters and the supernatural. It begins with Wild West novelist Bobbi Anderson discovering the tip of an enormous spaceship sticking out of the ground in the small town of Haven, Maine. She feels compelled to dig it out, but the ship starts releasing an odorless, invisible gas that starts to transform Bobbi and the citizens of Haven into something else, something not human.

There are a few characters who are immune to the “becoming”, one of them being Bobbi’s lifelong friend (and occasional lover) James Eric “Gard” Gardener. Gard is immune to the gas because of a steel plate in his head from a skiing accident a few years earlier. He helps Bobbi to dig out the ship over the course of a summer, watching helplessly as Bobbi and the townspeople start losing teeth and their sanity.

What’s cool about this story is that there is no real main character. You could argue that Gard is the protagonist, you could point to Bobbi being the one who drives the plot forward, but the main character is really the town of Haven. The story is about how the spaceship affects the townspeople. It seems like almost every citizen in Haven gets at least one chapter that explores how the “becoming” changes them. There are a lot of background characters and subplots, but the whole thing comes together nicely in the end.

This is a great book, one of my favorite Stephen King stories. It’s pretty lengthy but it’s never boring. Stephen King knows how to tell a good story, and he has a great writing style. It’s casual, yet detailed. He has fun with the narrative, jumping around on the timeline and exploring the minds of different characters. It’s also a metaphor for substance abuse, so there are a lot of things to pick up on if you read between the lines. Read it. You’ll like it.

Critically Rated at 15/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Picking Things Up With Your Toes

Picking things up with your toes is a useful skill. It’s perfect for when you drop a small object while you’re barefoot and you’re too lazy to lean over to pick it up. You’ll be able to recover a dropped fork without crawling under the table. It might not be hygienic, but it gets the job done. You should practice picking things up with your feet. Start with a pen or keys and work your way up to larger objects like cell phones. Once you’re skilled enough, you’ll be able to able to feed grapes to your lover with your hands tied behind your back. The ability to pick things up with your toes is proof that we evolved from monkeys. It’s in our DNA. It’s a skill that we need to bring back.

Critically Rated at 12/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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A Dog That Knows It’s in Trouble

Growing up, my family had three dogs. Every once in a while we would come home and discover that one of them had left a present on the living room carpet. And by present, I mean shit. It was always easy to determine which one of the dogs pooped on the floor. It was always the one cowering behind the furniture with a guilty look on its face. There’s no mistaking a dog that knows it’s in trouble. His ears are lowered, his tail is tucked between his legs, and he won’t make eye contact. And you would be furious if it wasn’t so adorable. That dopey look of shamed embarrassment will melt your heart every time. Humans might pretend that they are in charge, but dogs have us well trained.

Critically Rated at 13/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Ice Cream Cone

An ice cream cone is dry, thin pastry shaped like a cone. You take the cone, add a scoop of ice cream, and there you go. It’s one of the best ways to serve ice cream. A lot of people eat ice cream from a bowl or directly from the carton, but cones have a few perks. Ice cream cones are more fun to eat. Bowls are boring. Plus you have to wash the bowl when you’re done eating. There’s no cleanup involved with a cone, you just eat the damn thing. And it tastes delicious. Most people don’t keep ice cream cones in their homes, so they become more of a treat. Cones make a happy food even better. Cones remind you of your childhood, of summer days and county fairs.

Critically Rated at 15/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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The West Coast Sign

I live in San Francisco and so I see a lot of friends posing in pictures flashing the West Coast Sign on Facebook. You know, that hand sign that Tupac was always throwing up back in the day. It’s a sign of pride, a symbol that you’re proud to be from the west coast. It’s a simple gesture, but an alarming number of people don’t know how to do it correctly. If you’re looking at the back of the hand, the ring finger should be over the middle finger. That’s how Tupac did it and that’s how it’s supposed to be. Most of the posers that you see on Facebook have the middle finger over the ring finger. That means “Wannabe” not “West Coast.” It almost looks the same, but it’s wrong. And you don’t look cool if you’re wrong, you look like a fucking tool.

Critically Rated at 4/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Real Ghost Stories

Most people would never admit that they believe in ghosts or spirits. They aren’t real; they are just stories and legends told by superstitious and paranoid people. But everybody knows somebody who has a ghost story of their own, something that they swear really happened. It’s someone that you trust, and it’s something that they couldn’t make up. There are such things as real ghost stories. I had one friend who swore that his house was haunted. Doors would open and shut, there would be random cold spots, one light would always get turned on in the middle of the day, and you could sometimes catch a whiff of perfume in the living room. I stayed over a few times, and I always felt uneasy. We never saw the actual physical embodiment of a ghost, we never had any photographic evidence, and we never had any proof whatsoever. We didn’t need any, that would take all the fun out of it. There’s something fun about being afraid.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Forgetting Socks

People forget shit all the time, but only girls forget socks. I’m not trying to be sexist here; I’m simply stating the facts. And the facts say forgetting socks is a chick problem. It seems like almost every single day one of my female coworkers will come to work, start to change into their uniform, and realize that they forgot socks. One time I was in the breakroom and a girl came in bitching that she forgot her socks. Another girl gave her an extra pair of socks from her bag. I asked that girl why she had an extra pair of socks. She said it was in case she forgot to bring socks. Girls forget about socks so often that they plan on forgetting them. I’m glad that I don’t have to worry about forgetting socks. It’s only an issue when I’m packing for a trip. I typically won’t forget socks, but I’ll always forget something else important.

Critically Rated at 9/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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S’moreos

It’s slow season at the restaurant where I work at right now, and we had a little downtime after the lunch rush the other day. We started coming up with ideas for new desserts using the stuff we had available. We got a couple of jumbo marshmallows and a pack of Oreos. We would toast a marshmallow with a butane torch, cram it between two Oreos, top it off with a generous drizzle of caramel, and proceed to stuff our faces. Each bite was pure bliss and more of a sugar rush than a shot of grenadine mixed with Kool-Aid. I dubbed them S’moreos, a combination of S’mores and Oreos. I thought I was really clever for coming up with that name, and then I googled it and found out that S’moreos already exist. We invented our own recipe though, that’s got to be worth something.

Critically Rated at 15/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Missing the Lunch Special by a Few Minutes

I wanted a bento box from the sushi place near my house a few days ago. They have a lunch special where you can get a bento box with a few choices for $7.95 from 11:00 AM to 2:30 PM every weekday. I woke up craving it and I was determined to get it. I woke up and got dressed, started doing some chores, and got sucked into the internet for a while. When I finally noticed the time, I realized that I was pushing it. I grabbed my jacket and some cash and ran out the door. I speed-walked the few blocks to the sushi place, and pushed open the door slightly out of breath. The hostess offered me a seat at the bar and a menu, both of which I took gladly. I glanced at the menu, but I already knew that I wanted the bento box with a California roll and teriyaki chicken. The server came over, and I asked if I was too late for the lunch special. She smiled politely and said that I just missed it. She said that I could still get a bento box but it would be an extra six bucks. I just got up and left, settling for a slice of pizza from down the street. The bento box would have been more satisfying, but I wasn’t going to order it if I couldn’t get the lunch special discount. Missing the lunch special by a few minutes blows. It makes you think about all the bullshit things that made you late. You might have a full stomach if you hadn’t decided to do the dishes or take out the trash. You might have saved a few bucks if you shaved last night instead of this morning. There’s nothing you can do about it, except for trying to be more punctual next time. You live, you learn.

Critically Rated at 7/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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