Wednesday, May 28, 2008

I hate poison oak.


Seriously, I'm just thankful that the Army uniform covers everything except the hands, and I thank God that I'm not allergic to it. But it's oh so itchy!

A little humor.

Here's proof that there really is nothing to do in Arkansas. Way to go, man!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Never forget...

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
— John McCrae

I would like to take a moment on this Memorial Day, to thank my father, my grandfather, and all my brothers in arms who have served this great nation.

And to those who have given their last for our cause, I'll never forget the sacrifices you've made.

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

Four day weekends are always a good thing. But, sometimes they get a little long. I don't have classes on Friday, so life is good.

Thursday kicked off with inviting some friends up to Strega, the new bar that opened up on the sixth floor of the new condo complex down at the end of second street. It's a great place, good ambiance, good drinks, and comfortable seating. They actually stock Cachaça, and they can make a decent caipirinha. I was shocked. I had a caipirinha while waiting for CJ to arrive.

I wound up waiting for about a half hour, because CJ somehow got lost. Not sure how he puled that one off, it's on top of the only building taller that three stories other than Reser and Gill. It's kind of like not being able to pick me out of a crowd of midgets. However he made it eventually, and brought his girlfriend, and our mutual friend Brian.

We got another round of drinks, and I had a Gin and Tonic, while CJ ordered something with Strega's special liqueur, which tastes like a liquefied alcoholic breadstick. We talked for a couple of hours about work, the future, spectacular bike accidents, spectacular rafting accidents, injuries, and other things. Maybe I'll write about some of those later on.

Another round of drinks came in, and I had a Vodka Martini. It was the Vodka Martini from Hell! First off, Strega has huge cocktail glasses, double size. Second, it's alcohol and more alcohol, pretty much just four straight shots of Vodka and Vermouth. To top it off, the bartender didn't add enough ice to the mix, so it wasn't cold enough. It was just brutal. I struggled to put it down, and gnawed on the olive like it was going to save my life. It was rough, and things went downhill from there.

Someone got the bright idea to swing the conversation to politics right before we left. We proceeded to spend the next hour and a half standing in front of the entrance arguing. I hate arguing politics with my friends, because we're inevitably drunk at the time, any argument involving drunk college students inevitably breaks down to someone just yelling slogans. This particular argument ended with CJ's girlfriend telling me to get cancer and die. And she's normally such a cheerful little girl. That kinda killed the mood, so we went our separate ways.

Friday I woke up with a brutal hangover, which I usually don't suffer from. I chalked that up to the Hellfire Martini. I studied a little, read a little, and drank a ton of water.

After cleaning up, I met some friends over at the Fox and Firkin for some pre salsa dinner. Rob was flirting with the hot, pierced waitress., Nikki. I talked Milspeak with Tristan, the former Marine, while Chris taunted me about having Tara consume her sandwich faster that I devoured mine. Hey Chris, after doing the one minute challenge at Ft. Benning, I take my time with food when I can. Deal with it. I had a Cordon Bleu sandwich that tasted great, and a pint of Black Butte Porter. Erin taunted me about the fact that I look somewhere in the vicinity of ten years old in my facebook picture, and Nancy said she didn't believe I was old enough to drink. Jeez, when it rains it pours. Nancy ordered this inhuman brownie, that was covered in whipped cream and walnuts, and two scoops of Neapolitan ice cream. She distributed spoons, and the 12 of us there devoured it.

At Latin X, things kicked off as usual. I grabbed a Vodka and Tonic from the bar, and settled down. I saw a tall nice looking girl, and asked her to dance. "I don't know how to dance, I'm warning you!" Normally any girl who finds herself at Latin X without learning salsa says that, but they know enough about rhythm and dance in general for me to work with them. With this girl, I should have listened to her. I would describe it as dancing with a cannonball. When I led her in a direction, she flung herself that way. No control at all. I locked her up in a closed dance for the safety of everyone around us.

The next embarrassing incident happened during a meringue song. I looked up at the tables, and called a girl to come down and dance with me. She came down, and right before she got to me, her friend, whom my friend Sam had asked to dance, shot him down, and dragged me onto the dance floor. Awkward, awkward, awkward... Sam proceeded to ask the girl I had asked to dance, so they danced, and we danced, and things kind of evened out, but it just felt awkward. I made it up to the girl I originally asked on the next floor, but I just felt a little out of control the rest of the night.

I wound up going home earlier than usual, at 1. I just wasn't into it as much as usual. I hit the rack, and slept the sleep of the exhausted.

I spent most of Saturday just feeling drained. I don't know why, but I didn't like it. I laid around the house, watched TV, made a blog post, but generally did nothing important.

On Sunday, Joe called me up, and we went over to McMenamin's for some drinks. The pool tables were locked down, so we went to Tailgaters. There weren't very many people there, and it was karaoke night, but the pool tables were free, so we played three games. I took the first two, but I couldn't sink the 8 ball in the third.

As we were playing our second game, some guy came on, and just murdered "Dirty Laundry", by Don Henley. It was awful. Not in the so bad it's good type, but the so bad it's terrible type. Somewhere in Texas, Henley is rolling in his grave, and very confused, seeing as he's not dead yet.

I got a couple of hours to kill before I go to a party to watch the hockey game. The Flyers are gone, so I don't really care about who wins, but I promised Joe I'd make an appearance, we'll see what happens.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The American James Bond

I've been watching a lot of Heroes lately. I've come to several conclusions about the show. One, Hayden Pannettiere can still manage to look hot, even with a few ribs sticking out. Two, the writers are smart, seeing as they haven't fallen into a similar beating of basic Mendelian genetics like Metal Gear Solid has. And three, there is only one member of the cast who isn't a phenomenal idiot.

That character is Noah Bennett, who is certainly the most complex character in the series. Mr. Bennett is, as the title would suggest, James Bond wrapped up in the pathos of 1950s America. He is a company man, in more than one way. Dedicated to his job, and ruthless in his prosecution of it. However, above all things, he is a family man. As dangerous as he is on the job, he's exponentially more so when called to defend his family. When the two interests collide, things get very interesting.

His appearance was drawn up very well. The Browline glasses he wears immediately call to mind a 1950s Cold Warrior who routinely deals with issues larger than himself, larger than his nation.

While he's eerily similar to his British counterpart in his ruthless efficiency, He differs in key aesthetic categories. His mannerisms are wholesome, but when called to, he works and talks with barely contained violence, far removed from the smooth witticisms and calm under fire of 007. While James Bond sleeps with almost anything with a pair of breasts, Mr. Bennett conforms faithfully to the American ideal of a monogamous relationship with his loving wife. Mr. Bennett is a magnificent bastard who's always at least three steps ahead of anyone else, which allows him to be arguably the most dangerous man in a world filled with people with inhuman powers.

In a way, Mr. Bennett is symbolic of America, very similar to Alden Pyle in Graham Greene's 1955 novel, The Quiet American. Idealistic in a way, ruthless, fiercely protective of his own, and willing to destroy anyone who threatens them. Unlike Pyle, Mr. Bennett is a more balanced representation, rather than blindly bringing down everyone around him, Mr. Bennett, who is arguably just as destructive, is much more controlled in what he does.

This guy alone, makes Heroes worth watching, even the strike induced miscarriage that was the second season.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Killing time.

Well, I joined 20 something bloggers, some sort of social network, that I found somehow. At 20SB, they have a debate section, where they post a topic, and people blog their opinions on that topic.
I find myself sitting here, munching on leftover chicken alfredo, watching quite possibly the worst Crichton film adaptation ever, and nursing an unusually strong hangover. While bouncing on the site, I happened across the new debate topic, and I figured it was as good a topic as anything to blog on.

The topic is...

With that said, this week's debate is about credit card companies. Do you think credit card companies should take more responsibility for their vulture-like activity? If you've been to a college campus, I'm sure you've seen tables strewn about with promises of free gifts simply for filling out an application. Similar practices can be found in most chain stores these days too (especially clothing stores).

On the other side, do you feel that people should be taking more responsibility for their finances by making more informed decisions BEFORE signing up for a credit card?

I think the vulture analogy is surprisingly apt. The sheer volume of credit card applications that get sent to me is shocking. They use mass marketing to prey upon the ignorant. As evil as that sounds, that's the heart of capitalism. Pretty much every major business uses similar cutthroat tactics. It's not evil, it's simply the most efficient business model. The marketing strategies in themselves are not unethical. Nor are the standing policies among some companies that they do not explicitly include on contracts. Rate hikes, continuous interest, and a rash of other methods that some companies use to give people the shaft are vague, complex, and disjointed. You pretty much need an attorney present to figure out what you're getting into. What is unethical is the combination of the two. When they mail you an app that can net you a credit card that only requires your name, DOB, and SSN, yet they attach it to a contract that's more complex than some home loans, they put themselves in a position to profit from a person's ignorance.
However, personal responsibility is a requirement. A scheme that depends on ignorance can be defeated by education. You need to read the contract, ask about the interest system, and ensure you have the income to cover the purchase. A credit card can be a very useful financial tool, if you know how to use it. It's practically a requirement for harnessing the purchasing power of the internet. But if you don't know what you're doing, you can ruin yourself financially with one. Personal responsibility and education is a must. Before you take a card, do some homework, check with a financial planner if you don't think you can figure it out on your own. In general, just Don't be stupid about it.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Two new singles.

Here's two new singles that have been recently released that have caught my interest.

The first is "Handlebars" by Flobot.

Flobot's an indie hip/hop group from Colorado, who just released their new album, Fight With Tools. The song has a feel that's kinda like Eminem meets Cake. It's a little odd. But it's got a very interesting message. The song is about the progress of ambition, from the carefree days of a child bragging about the little trivial things of childhood, all the way to being a member of a government who's decisions can save or kill millions of people. It's kind of a sentiment I can agree with. It seems like not so long ago that being able to do trivial things like ride a bike without using the handlebars was the most important thing in the world. Now, I have a job that gives me the power of life and death over anyone who winds up in my AO.

The other single is "Inside the Fire" by Disturbed.

The Video is a little jarring... Be warned.

The song is sung from the perspective of the Devil, lecturing the boyfriend of a girl who committed suicide. It's a dark song, with a very dark video.

Disturbed's new album, Indestructible, comes out in early June. It appears to be more of what makes Disturbed a great Heavy Metal band. Driving bass, frantic guitars, and good vocals. Hey, don't fix what's not broke.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Way to go Ducks.

On a field trip to the University of Oregon Stadium, UO tour guides forced middle school children to remove any clothing that depicted the logo of a different Pac 10 School.
What is it with other Pac 10 schools and oppression? First ASU obliterates its cheerleading squad, now UO is dictating what middle schoolers can wear? C'mon. You're embarrassing the rest of us.

Gnarls Barkley

As I mentioned earlier, I picked up the two Gnarls Barkley albums about a month ago. Here's the overdue review.

Gnarls Barkley is the collaboration between Cee-Lo Green, and Danger Mouse. They play mostly a Neo-Soul type style. It's somewhat nostalgic, bringing up shades of late 70s soul music, but with a distinct modern twist. Very similar to Lauren Hill and Macy Gray, only with male vocals. They burst onto the scene in 2006, with their debut album, St. Elsewhere.

Released on May 9th, 2006, St. Elsewhere was praised by critics for its innovative production techniques. Very similar to Danger Mouse's previous work on the Gorillaz album, Demon Days. St. Elsewhere has a rating of 81 on Metacritic. Popmatters named it the best release of 2006, and it took home the Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album. The first single, Crazy, won the Grammy for Best Urban/Alternative Performance.

The thing that struck me about the album is that there aren't any truly bad tracks. I think Transformer is a bit garish, but it's not unlistenable. The album hits the high points on the way in, with Crazy and Smiley Face, and out, with Storm Coming and the Last Time. The production value is great. Another great thing about this album is that it's very concise. It doesn't waste sound or time. None of the songs break 4 minutes in length, and as such, the album doesn't wear out it's welcome. Some of the songs could be better if they were longer, but I'd rather have a song too short than too long. St. Elsewhere is definitely worth buying.

Gnarls Barkley returned in March of 08 with their sophomore effort, The Odd Couple. The Odd Couple doesn't have the consistent energy of St. Elsewhere. It starts out very strong with Who's Gonna Save My Soul, Going On, and Run, at the 2, 3, and 4 slots respectively. However, it lacks any other marquee tracks. Would Be Killer is just painful to listen to. This step back is marked by the album receiving a 76 on Metacritic. The album is by no means bad, but it fails to live up to the expectations established by the masterpiece it followed. The production seems a little sloppier, and that may be due to the album's rushed release, due to it being leaked onto the internet. It still has the punctual feel that has come to epitomize the group, though.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Another Drill.

Another weekend sacrificed to Bravo Company. We spent Friday doing preventive checks and maintenance (PCM) on a lot of the equipment the platoon has. Fun, fun, fun... We started with our weapons. This is my rifle, sort of... I use an M-4, which is basically the ubiquitous M-16, with a shorter barrel, and a collapsible stock. There's an M-203 mounted underneath the barrel. The M-203 is a 40mm self propelled grenade launcher. Instead of a ghost ring iron sight, I have an M-68 close combat optic, essentially a laser sight. And mounted on the top rail, I have a PEQ-2, which is a laser sight that can only be seen through night vision goggles.

I sat down at the table, and broke down the weapon, ensuring it was clean and going through the PCM tasking, step by step, making sure the weapon will work when my life depends on it. When I began breaking down the bolt carrier assembly, I noticed a huge chip taken out of the gas tube. Yipee, my weapon's gonna be deadlined! Again... I had just gotten her back from having the crater in the star chamber repaired, a whole new upper receiver. Now I'll probably have to wait until they can scrounge a new bolt carrier before I get it back again. Argh.

After I turned my weapon in, my squad leader tasked me to verify that the company's brand new bunch of PAS-13s worked. The PAS-13 is a new thermal optic scope. It's bulky as fuck, pretty much useless for anything other than recon, but it's sooooooo cool. The PAS-13s were followed up by an inspection of the PVS-14s. These are monocular night vision goggles. Good stuff. After that, we inventoried the PVS-7s, the older binocular night vision goggles, that just suck. They were old, and missing pieces. The fun level was further crushed when a brand new NCO decided to supervise what I was doing. apparently he didn't think me competent enough to check if something works by myself. Despite the fact that I had already finished 3 PVS-7s, 10 PVS-14s, 5 PAS-13s, and my rifle, he thought it necessary to stop me and try to give a full lesson on how to conduct a PCM. I told him I had things in hand. He flips out and goes on a rant.

"If you don't listen to me, how are you gonna know if you have the dermis shield, the sacrificial window, or the... whatever the hell that is!"

"That's a strap, sergeant..."

"Shows how much you know, it's a..."
*flips to the itemized list, checks item 14*

"OK, so it is a strap, but that doesn't mean you're all hot shit!"

He proceeds to spend the next 5 minutes yelling at me about how if I was half as good as I thought I was, I'd be a general. I just chuckled to myself and kept working. I found it particularly entertaining when he started asking me what certain parts were, even though I apparently wasn't smart enough to conduct a PCM without his holding my hand not 15 minutes earlier. I wound up finishing the PCMs on 6 PVS-7s, he did 3.

After we finished all the PCMs on the equipment, we got herded into a classroom, where our new platoon sergeant broke down the promotion system. Learning how to climb the corporate ladder. I really appreciated this, because no one had really stopped to break down how all that shit worked in the guard to me. I have a real good feeling about our new PSG. He might not be able to replace our old one, but he knows what he's doing, and he knows how to handle soldiers. It was a good end for Friday.

Saturday started up with some refresher on small unit tactics. No big deal. In the off time, we swapped stories, most of which I probably won't repeat here, or anywhere. We then had a TA-50 layout, to ensure we had everything we needed for the upcoming deployment. In between, we broke for lunch, and we were allowed to go pretty much wherever we wanted, given the fact that we were allowed an hour and forty minutes to go eat.

So we were off to McMenamin's. On a Saturday, at noon, things are pretty slow. But the servers that day were just flat out gorgeous. Our server was a beautiful girl named Robin. Joe, yes, the same Joe off the recent 21st birthday, demanded that they put the Red Wings game on. The unstable sergeant from Friday decided to join us, and while most of us either watched the game, or played pool. Not Sgt. Psycho though. He proceeded to spent the majority of the time there trying to stare a hole through Robin's pants every time she came by.

I noticed noticed Robin was watching the Hockey game, when she wasn't serving someone. Sick of having the same conversations with the same people over and over, I walked over to her, and struck up a conversation. Just a little small talk about sports, school, and work. The rest of the guys gave me shit about it for the rest of the day. Whatever. It was worth it.

On Sunday, we were going out to Camp Adair, to build upon the training done on Saturday. So we drew weapons. Not wanting us to dirty up the weapons that we had cleaned and PCMed on Friday, they issued us the remainder of the weapons. Of course, my M-4 was now deadlined. So I got the last weapon available. An M-240B. A 28 lb hunk of steel that weighed twice as much as my normal weapon, and was about 4 times as unwieldy. Running with that thing sucks, running with that thing through the woods, really sucks. On the bus ride to Adair, Sgt Psycho sees that I don't have my usual weapon, and decides to take a couple of potshots at me. Told me that I finally had something I didn't know a damn thing about. Whatever, it might not be my primary weapon, but I know how to use it. I biffed it on a couple of areas that were thick with logs when we were assaulting through some objectives. It was irritating. Things reached their peak when we had our platoon movement to contact lane. I wound up in the assault element, and had to advance by bounds. I got up and ran, and as I dropped down behind cover, all of a sudden the barrel just dropped into the dirt. I looked over, and realized what happened. See those study looking bipod legs on the gun? Sheared 'em clean off. Whoops.

Meanwhile, some reporter for the Democrat Herald was taking pictures, setting up a story he's writing on the guard. I tried to be civil with him, because most of the other guys weren't. Most soldiers who've deployed OIF or OEF are paranoid of reporters, because the coverage from the media in Iraq and Afghanistan is so ridiculously slanted against the military that anything that gets said, or done, is used to demonize us and what we're trying to do. But good publicity is easier to come by inside the US, and is always helpful, so I tried to put my best foot forward.

We marched back to trans, and during the AAR, I'm sitting down next to the gun. SGT Psycho comes over and looks at me smugly, he looks down at the gun, sitting on the ground without the bipod. He picks up the 240, and tries to engage the bipod, only to realize that there no longer is one. Yeah, I'm not an idiot, what a surprise. We took trans back to the armory, and cleaned our weapons. I wrote out a 5988 form for the 240 I broke. We sat through another briefing on VA and Vet Center protocol, which was good, because too much of their resources are drawn up by Vietnam era treatment, and they're just now starting to understand the modern war. I'm surprisingly exhausted, but I haven't been able to con myself to sleep yet. I figured I'd do something productive in the meantime.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Drink of the Moment: Gin and Tonic

Ah, the Gin and Tonic. The magical drink that glows, cures malaria, and makes women beautiful.

The Gin and Tonic was originally made in India by the British East India Trading Company in the 18th century, to treat their soldiers. That's right, this drink was originally a medicine. This is probably one of the earlier instances of abusing meds.

The tonic is what was medicinal. It contains quinine, which prevents malaria. The tonic water used at the time had much higher concentrations, and as such, was unspeakably bitter. So people would conceal the taste by mixing it with gin.

In the preparation of the Gin and Tonic, you need two things. For the really slow readers, those two things are Gin and Tonic Water.

Take a highball glass, and fill it with ice. Then add 2 ounces of gin, fill the rest with tonic water, and stir briskly. a wedge of lime is the traditional garnish, but you can throw just about anything in there. Sit back, sip your drink, and hum God Save the Queen.

With a highball glass, you'll get a 1 to 2 concentration of gin to tonic water. One of the beautiful things about this drink is the ease with which the proportions can be adjusted. I've had Gin and Tonics that ranged from a glass if gin with a hint of tonic water, to a splash of gin to cut the tonic. If you like a more concentrated drink, but don't want a highball sized concentrated drink, you can also adjust the glass you're drinking from. An Old Fashioned Glass works nicely for that.

Another curious feature of tonic water is that it glows under a black light. If you're the type of person who likes your drink at a certain concentration, this is actually a pretty good way to check the concentration. The brighter it glows, the less gin is in it. If your friends are jokers, and they buy you a glass of gin, and try to disguise it as a gin and tonic, you have a way to keep yourself from being caught off guard.

A common variant of the Gin and Tonic is the Vodka and Tonic. I often order this at nightclubs, because low end vodka is much more palatable than low end gin.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

I Am a Witness.

We are now halfway through the second round of the NBA playoffs, and it seems we already have our signature play of the playoffs.

I love watching Lebron play. He's a physical freak, with MVP caliber skills. Personally, I thought he should have beat out Kobe for the MVP. It's plays like that one that thrill me. And the call? Perfect. "No Regard for Human Life!", just awesome. I think he's been playing that well since last season's playoffs. I remember watching the playoffs in Detroit last season, when Lebron finally tapped his massive talents, and annihilated the Pistons.

I hate to resort to a cheesy ad campaign, but...

We are watching the developing years of the next great superstar in Basketball. Cherish this. Every moment you can watch. Just like my Dad, who talks to me about watching Wilt and Russell go at it, and my cousins, who talk of Michael's formative years, down the road, I will be telling people, I saw Lebron play.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Salsa, Hockey, and the birth of an alcoholic.

Well, it's been a fairly eventful week for me.

Monday was Cinco de Mayo, as you know. I had a fun night of mexican food and Dos Equis out at the bars. However, I spilled some of my Jose Cuervo onto my modem, and knocked it out of commission for several days.

On Wednesday, I got a replacement modem, and went out with some friends to the Salsa Dance at Oddfellows hall. I wore my Boondock Saints T shirt. It was a hit. Almost too big of a hit. I felt like a manikin, simply the vessel upon which the shirt was mounted. It peaked when Tara dragged me out onto the dance floor, exclaiming "I must dance with that shirt!" Jeez. I'm up here, stop staring at my chest ladies! :)

Then on Friday, we had the usual Latin X night festivities. We started out at McMenamin's. It's usually not that crowded around 7:30, So when we showed up, we found ourselves in the irritating position of having every table being occupied by one or two people, so we couldn't get a table. Faced with the choice between eating outside or not getting seated for an hour, we got the tables outside. Thankfully, the weather was good. In the end, it was a good think. We were expecting 8-10 people, we wound up with 15. Sweet, yet potentially problematic. but being able to expand to other outdoor tables fixed the problem.

Once we went down to Platinum, it was the same old story. There was alcohol, dancing, music, and fun. Tori said she was going to whip me at pool. But she failed to show up. Guess I win by default.

I just have one question. Why do women insist on wearing shoes that tear up their feet? Is that extra inch really worth the blisters and mangled toes? And if you're going to, why can't you put some moleskin on beforehand?
Saturday night, one of my friends from bravo company turned 21. So I escorted his drunken parade throughout the bars. We spent the bulk of our time at Clods. I had a Vodka and Tonic. Being a bit of a jerk, I ordered him a cement mixer. Being a much bigger jerk than me, Chuck got Joe a British Liposuction. The British Liposuction is the worst drink I've ever encountered. It consists of a shot that's one part gin, one part Worcestershire sauce, and one part lard. Yes, lard. Joe took that shot, then puked it back into his shot glass, and booked it to the bathroom. I didn't see him for about 20 minutes after that. Afterwards, he came back, looking a few pounds lighter, and downed my cement mixer, and enjoyed it. That's how bad the shot Chuck got him was.

After we got sick of drunken frat boys and country music, Joe wanted to go to Tailgaters, where we would have to deal with drunken frat boys and rap music. I convinced him to go to McMenamin's on Monroe so we could play pool. Unfortunately, there was a line for the pool table, so we headed out. Some random guy bought joe a shot before we left. No clue who he was.

So we were off to Tailgaters. You could hear the bass from outside. Rap Music... Check. Our party had dwindled down to three people, Joe, myself, and one of Joe's friends, a former Army supply tech. The parade of CAC cards to the doorman. Yippee. We put down for the next pool table, and ordered some drinks. When I went over to the bar, this guy looks over at me. "Wow, you're really tall!". Yeah, he was truly a marvel of observation. I got some change to pay for the pool table and headed back to the table. "Look how tall that guy is!" Captain Obvious strikes again! Three fights broke out while we were there, all promptly crushed by the bouncers. Pretty rough considering there was fewer than 30 people there. Drunken frat boys... check. Whatever.

I brought the quarters over, and we played a game of cutthroat. I was playing pretty well, and got the other two down to 1 ball each, while I still had 4 active. Suddenly, Joe, who had hit a scratch on nearly every ball, knocked down 3 balls on one shot. Unfortunately, they were the 12, the 14, and the 15. All I was left with was the 11. I promptly eliminated Joe, but Joe's buddy knocked me off.

The Supply Tech decided to bolt afterwards, but Joe wanted to stay until closing, and I had promised Neil I'd get him home in one piece. so Joe and I played another game of pool, and I soundly crushed him. I've gotten a little better with practice. With 45 minutes left to kill, I decided to go watch the few girls who were left dancing. One of them waved at me, so I called her over. Feeling in a generous mood, I tried to set Joe up with her. I wanted to get her to go dance with Joe, but instead she simply offered to buy him an expensive drink if I'd buy her a cheap drink and dance with her. But I didn't want to leave Joe high and dry on his birthday. It's kind of awkward getting a girl who's hitting on you to go hit on your friend. But Captain Obvious came to scuttle that problem. He started hitting on her, not letting either of us get a word in edgewise. Finally, she looked a little squeamish, and I gave him a glare. He looks back at the girl. "What, are you dating him?" And proceeded to start to interrogate her about our relationship. After about 15 seconds of that, I got sick of him. I got his attention for a sec, "Shut the fuck up, go away, and let me talk to her!" I didn't push it any farther, because I knew the bouncers were on edge, and would have bum rushed me the moment I stood up. Fortunately, Captain Obvious seemed to get the message, and bailed out. Unfortunately, the girl's friend saw her in between a 6'5" guy, and a 6'8" guy yelling at him. She promptly swooped in and took her to the other side of the room, exclaiming, "She has a boyfriend!" That could have ended better. This is why I hate lingering at bars around closing time, the dominance games are so damn annoying, especially when you don't really want to play.
Joe decided to head home. On the way out, I ran into the girl again. She apologized for her friend, and explained that her friend thought I was getting too aggressive, but she knew what had happened. She asked where I was heading. "Home, I've got better booze there." She was nice, but I was too far into chaperon mode to try anything with her.

All I had to do was get Joe's drunk ass 6 blocks, to his dorm. No problem, right? Wrong. Things only got more annoying. We got to the corner of Monroe and 14th street, and ran into this anorexic looking asian girl eating a pita. Clearly plastered. "I'm horny, let's have sex!" She said. Joe, being equally trashed, promptly took her up on her offer, and kissed her. She coughed a half chewed wad of tuna pita into Joe's mouth. As this hilarious spectacle is unfolding, I notice her friend. I don't know if he was her boyfriend, or another poor soul bringing home the drunk, but he made a beeline towards Joe. I grabbed him, gently, but with enough presence that he hesitated. Introduced myself, and pretty much asserted control of the situation. just because I don't like dominance games doesn't mean I can't be the Alpha Male when the situation calls for it. Once the situation was defused, we exchanged drunks, and I proceeded to continue taking Joe back to the dorm.

Joe proceeded to the emotional stage of drunkenness. He started talking about his friend back home who got shot during a drug deal that went south. I quickly told him to change the subject. That brought up some memories that I didn't want to deal with right then. Joe promptly chose about the next most depressing topic. One of the Air Force ROTC cadets had committed suicide that week. I know I give the Air Force a lot of flak, but that still sucks. Fortunately, I got him to his dorm before the conversation could go anywhere else. I trudged home, and fell asleep.

The next morning, brought me playoff hockey action. My Flyers took on their in state rivals, the Pittsburgh Penguins. My friend CJ, a Sharks fan, who's far more enthusiastic about hockey than I am, came over. He was still in a funk after the Shark's quadruple overtime loss to the Dallas Stars. I was trying to jump start his love of hockey again. We had some drinks (When I told that girl I had better alcohol at home than at the bar, I wasn't lying). I made CJ a white russian, and myself a caipirinha.

The Flyers went down in a blaze of terrible penalties, and we lost our best defenseman to a puck to the face one minute and seven seconds into the game. Wait until the series comes back to Philly. Things'll be different.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Here's something funny.

I found this online, it should help bide the time until Kingdom of the Crystal Skull comes out.

Back from yet another globetrotting adventure, Indiana Jones checks his mail, and finds his bid for tenure has been denied.

Can you say Irony?

Well, I decided it was time to go ahead and whore out my blog to the fine folk at However, it turns out that someone beat me to the punch. As I was inputting the info for my blog, a little window pops up, "Someone has already submitted this blog". No problem, I registered with the site, and claimed ownership. Then I looked at the blog's detail page. It had a few labels assigned to it. The first one was don't, and the second one was drink. Bwa? Don't drink? Now, I'm not advocating becoming a sloshing drunk, but nor do I advocate abstaining from taking in life's pleasures. I just thought that was entertaining.

Anyhow, here's the page for the blog. Feel free to leave a review letting me know what you think. Feedback's always appreciated.

Friday, May 9, 2008

What do you listen to?

Well, I'm still retagging my iTunes library. Only 1,405 more songs to go. Yay. :(

Anyhow, listening to all this music reminded me of a pretty sweet website I frequent. It's called is a music database that uses a program called audioscrobbler to track what it's members listen to. It also has a social network aspect to it as well. What website doesn't these days?

To get plugged into, just visit their site, and download the audioscrobbler program. Then, download whatever plugin matches your preferred music player, in my case iTunes. Set it up so that Audioscrobbler starts when you start that player, and listen to your music. The Audioscrobbler program also comes with an Internet radio player that lets you surf songs via genre or similar artists. It's a pretty sweet deal.

One of the cool things about this site is the way you can share your charts of who you listen to. You can break it down by your most recently played tracks.
DragonFireKai's Profile Page

Your most played tracks.

Your most played artists.

They also have flash based charts.

They even have image based charts for your top albums.

For those of you who are on, feel free to add me as a friend. Here's my profile.

Drink of the Moment: Leite de Onça

Today I bring you another drink from Brasil. This one is Leite de Onça, also known as Jaguar's Milk.
Keep in mind that this is not a drink you'll likely be able to order at a bar. It's a traditional drink for the Feast Day of Saint John. It's carries a kind of rustic flavor to it that always brings a smile to my face.

To make Leite de Onça, you need milk, condensed milk, cachaça, and chocolate liqueur.

Begin by taking a container to mix the ingredients. You can make this drink in rather massive quantities if you want, so I'll list it by ratios. Begin by mixing 1 part milk, and 1/2 part condensed milk. Mix them until they've blended together. Then add one part cachaça, and chill it. The drink is served cold. Right before your ready to serve the drink, add 1 part chocolate Liqueur. Then pour it into a mug. If you choose to add a garnish, sprinkle either Cinnamon or chocolate powder. Once the drinks have been served, go out and enjoy the summer night.

As usual, if you don't have cachaça, or don't like the taste, you can replace it with rum. The most popular variant replaces the cachaça with Vodka. This version is popularly called Tiger's Milk. Rawr.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Let's be serious for a minute.

I want to bring up a very serious situation right now. Sorry about spewing out the posts today, but I just got the internet back up.

I'd like to talk about Cyclone Nargis. A cyclone is a Hurricane in the Southern Pacific and Indian Oceans. Same exact type of storm, just a different location. Cyclone Nargis made land fall in Burma six days ago. Things like this make me thank God daily that I live in the US. We're spoiled.

Cyclone Nargis had peak sustained winds of 135 MPH. This would have made it a category 4 hurricane if it were in the Atlantic. Most people regard Hurricane Katrina as the worst natural disaster to hit the US in modern history. Hurricane Katrina killed 1,836 people. The death toll of Cyclone Nargis is currently at 22,980, and it's still climbing.

While the Burmese government has remained resistant to formal international aid, the initial stages for international aid have been set. The US has given 3.25 million dollars, the EU have given 3 million dollars, Canada has given 2 million, and the generous British have already pledged a hair under 10 million. But every bit helps, and anyone wishing to donate to the relief effort is appreciated. The easiest way to donate is through this nifty page that Google has set up. It has a direct donation set up for UNICEF and Direct Relief International. Please, give what you can.

May is a good month for films...

There are three major films that come out this month that I'm looking forward to. The first was Iron Man, which I already reviewed. The other two haven't come out yet.

The first movie that remains to be seen will premier tomorrow. It's Speed Racer. To be honest, I don't have very high expectations of the film, but I want to go see it on the opening weekend, simply so I can see how many people have epileptic seizures. Check out the preview, it's like an acid trip on meth. In terms of raw sensory stimulation, the sheer, raw, lights, color, sounds, and movement, this might be the most intense movie ever.

The other film is Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. I've been avoiding any exposure to the previews or info. I want to watch this movie cold. I have always loved the Indiana Jones films. The character just resonates with me. I want to take the film in like it's the first time. and I will beat anyone who spoils it for me.

I am Iron Man!

Well, I promised a review of Iron Man, and here it is. Albeit, delayed a little due to the meeting of my modem and some wayward tequila. I set the bar pretty high based off the trailers, but the movie blew away all my expectations.

Visually, it's as beautiful as any of the other Marvel movies made recently. Say what you want about the lack of development in most of them, but they're gorgeous in terms of eye candy. The desert is bleak, the armor sleek, and the city is practically luminescent.

The audio is divine. Especially at a theatre like the Carmike 12, which features a wicked sound system. The sound of the explosions, gunfire, and footfalls of the larger armors are visceral. You feel them every bit as much as you hear them. The soundtrack is similar, built upon heavy guitars. Thankfully, the movie utilizes, but didn't lean on the Black Sabbath track that the character was named for. Keep this movie in mind when you upgrade your home theatre, this will be the movie that you want to demo on the sound system.

The story is well written, and does a good job of modernizing the origin of Iron Man, taking the setting from the Vietnam War, to the current OEF.

What really sets this movie apart from the other superhero movies is the acting. At first, I was opposed to the idea of Robert Downey Jr. playing Tony Stark. However, the more I thought about it, Tony Stark is essentially a womanizing drunk, encased in a flying tank. Robert Downey is already a womanizing drunk, and the flying tank is just special effects. He acts out Stark with the natural finesse of a man who isn't really acting. Gweneth Paltrow is stunningly beautiful in the role of Pepper Potts, resilient, yet still very feminine. Terrance Howard plays Arthur Rhodes a little softer than he's portrayed in the comics, but he does a very good job at operating as a foil to the more flamboyant Stark. But in my humble opinion, the most underrated performance was Jeff Bridges' portrayal of Obadiah Stane, easily the most complex character in the film. All these actors are stars in their own right, but the synergy they achieve in the film is amazing.

One quick note for when you watch this film, when you watch the ambush, keep in mind that it's the Air Force trying to defend Stark. They are flyboys, and not indicative of the military at large. They certainly aren't infantry. They did just about everything possible wrong in terms of defending against an ambush. You could take pretty much any buck private from my company and they'd do a thousand times better than the flyboys in the movie.

All in all, this is the most entertaining film I've seen in at least a year. I think There Will be Blood and Juno were fundamentally better films, but not near as fun to watch. There's something for everyone in this film. It possesses a rare mix of comedy, action, and drama, without overdoing it. And if you stick around after the credits, you'll get another gift.

Go see this film, you will not be disappointed.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Go forth and support the Mexican economy by drinking lots of cheap mexican beer and tequila! I'll do my part!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Silly Sun Devils...

This is why I will never understand Arizona State University. They cut their entire cheerleading squad because 6 members of the squad took a picture two years ago. Tell me something, is this...

really that much more explicit than this?

I don't think so. Does all the sand down in the desert create this sort of oppressive attitude? I've seen college students do much, much worse, and so has anyone who's been to a bar in a college town. To ASU, fucking live a little, pricks. You were willing to prostitute your cheerleaders and dance teams as long as you profited from it, but as soon as a picture with a little skin surfaces without you getting royalties, you stomp out the entire program? Go fuck yourselves.

Behold, The SUN!

The sun finally came out this weekend, which indicates that Oregon is moving out of its perennial "Grey Period". Thank God. It get depressing here in the winter.

My Dad also came down to visit me. It was good to see him, I don't get to see enough of my family, and I can never find the time to go visit them. I'm a terrible son, I know. :(

He arrived on Friday, which happened to be the opening day of Iron Man. So I booked some tickets on Fandango, and we went and watched the awesome movie. I'll review it later, but for now, if you haven't seen it yet, go see it now. Stick around after the credits too. It's worth the wait.

The next morning he woke up at around 8 and took the car to have its oil changed. I on the other hand, snored until 10:30. I know... lazy. He woke me up when the car was done, and we went out for a run. We ran a few miles, through Avery Park, and down to the farmers market. On the way, I always stop at a little physical fitness station in the park. I did some push ups, some leg lifts, and some situps. The situps went a little sour. I let my legs straighten out, and out of habit, I straightened up. The problem was, this was an unlaquered wooden bench. Yeah... Splinters... Ouch. I was pulling splinters out of my ass for the next mile. We got to the waterfront farmer's market, and cruised that for a little while.
Once we got back to home, we cleaned up, and went to go watch the OSU spring game at Reser Stadium. Had a polish dog, some frozen lemonade, and a bag of kettle corn. Good food, good weather, and a good team to watch. The run defense looked great, and a few players really stood out. James Rodgers was his usual dynamic self, breaking loose for a long TD and outrunning everyone on the field. Victor Butler was dynamic, including multiple sacks and TFLs, and one sack where he just bitch slapped Lyle Moeavo to the ground. Justin Kahut, the kicker who must replace the immortal Alexis Serna, also looked good, going 4/4, including a 50 yarder and a 55 yarder. Moevao didn't look that good, and Canfield didn't play due to surgery, and the freshman phenom Ryan Katz looked absolutely miserable. However, there was another, less heralded freshman, a Justin Engstrom, who was clearly the best QB on the field. Possessed of good size at 6'5" 205 lbs, he has a strong arm, and great placement on his passes. Mark my words, this Scappose product will make a name for himself.

Later that night, a few friends from Salsa invited me over to watch some movies. The theme was Violent Irish People in Boston. Kind of specific, but the Boondock Saints and the Departed fit the bill perfectly. I drank a Corona, and finished off the kettle corn. I know, I was drinking a Mexican Beer on Irish movie night. It was what we had available. Drinking pleases the alcohol gods, so they will grant me this one thing. They'll grant me forgiveness! If they do not listen, then to Hell with them! (Kudos to whomever gets this reference...). They have this 80 lb American Bulldog that apparently love popcorn, and just stared at me the whole time as I ate.

I got up this morning at 9, and we went to have breakfast at the Fox and Firkin. they've got good biscuits and gravy there. I stopped by Borders, and picked up the two new Ciaphas Cain novels, the two Gnarls Barkley albums, and a copy of Mirrormask. I'll review those later.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Doubleyou Teeeee Ef.

Now, I enjoy playing video games. However, what I don't like is the industrial advertising complex that has arisen. Sites like IGN, Gamespy, and others, that feel like they can review ,advertise, and market video games in the same way as people review, advertise, and market a static medium like film and music. I'm going to tell you right now, you can't. A static medium is fundamentally different from an interactive one, especially when you get into the blockbuster level games like GTA IV.

I don't like the way that GTA IV was marketed. The reviews ooze preferential treatment and gloss over flaws so they can give the game a perfect score for the sake of having the exclusive. GTA IV has a 100 on metacritic? Nothing's that perfect. Think of the best movie you've seen in recent years. Pan's Labyrinth? 98. Tarantino's Opus, Pulp Fiction? 94. The Oscar Juggernaut that was Return of the King? 94. Schindler's List? 93. Think about the best games of the past 3 years. Super Mario Galaxy got a 97. The Ayn Rand Epic, Bioshock? 96. Call of Duty 4? 94. Apparently GTA IV is better than any of them. But when you consider that it has noticeable flaws to a casual gamer like me, I start to question what might have gone on in the review session. Sometimes it's even counter intuitively obvious, like in the GamesRadar Review, where they note that the game's not flawless, and then proceed to give it a flawless score of 100/100. Excuse me?

Questionable practices aside, what infuriates me even more is the assumptions that some sites make about the people who come to them hoping for information. This is what put the what the fuck in this post. As in, Is this what the fuck these guys think their constituency is solely interested in? I'm done with IGN, and it's sister site Gamespy. It's not that they showed this stuff, as EA says every time I boot up Madden, it's in the game. But it's not the ONLY thing in the game, and you couldn't tell that by watching that video. It's only gonna cause more problems down the road, more so than the game itself would make.

Rant aside, I think GTA IV is a good game, and if you like any of the previous installments in the series, you'll love this one.