Archive for the ‘Movie’ Category

Breaking News: It’s 2011

New Year's drunks

Photo © 2010 Cassie Melnikow

Well, in case you haven’t noticed it’s a new year! As usual, I’d like to give my fond farewell to the 12 months that just left us by wrapping up the best and worst shit I experienced during it. Instead of making one of those Feature websites, though, I’m keeping this thing to just a small post. This one’s been wanting to come out for a couple weeks now. I finally put in an hour and knocked it out. Enjoy (or don’t)!

Albums
Best: Elton John & Leon Russell – The Union (2010) – Dad actually turned me onto this one and I begrudgingly played it at work as I had nothing else to listen to at the moment. I liked it upon the first spin, but it wasn’t until the second and third listens that I truly appreciated it for what it was – a showcase of fantastic, solid songwriting from top to bottom.
Runner Up: Kanye West – Late Registration (2005)

Worst: Avenged Sevenfold – Sounding The Seventh Trumpet (2001) – I wanted to give some more modern rock a chance and Avenged Sevenfold was somewhere on the list. Unfortunately, Random.org picked this album for me. Well, “Sounding The Seventh Trumpet” has to be a joke. Bad screaming, amateur “melodies,” and noticeable mistakes on an album filled with way-too samey-sounding songs.
Runner Up: DMX – Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood (1998)

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Basketball Games
Best: Atlanta Hawks vs. Dallas Mavericks (2/26) – A phenomenal, triple-overtime game with two near-equal opponents – in the Top 5 of all games I’ve ever seen! Jason Kidd had a monster game, leading the Mavs back from down 15 points with 8 minutes to go. At one point, the crafty Kidd even ran into Atlanta’s coach, who had stepped onto the court. The result was two free throws and possession. I’ve never seen that ever! Wild, wild game.
Runner Up: Dallas Mavericks vs. Denver Nuggets (3/29)

Worst: Dallas Mavericks vs. Portland Trail Blazers (1/30) – Mavericks lose to an injury-decimated Blazers team who were on the tail end of a back to back. Ugly game that didn’t need to happen.
Runner Up: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Dallas Mavericks (1/3)

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Books
Best: Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner – Freakonomics (2005) – I’m only going to do the best book of 2010 since I read just six and pretty much liked them all. Freakonomics just wins over Sex, Drugs and Coca Puffs as I appreciated the similar passion behind it that I see in my own NBA Sim projects. Eye-opening book, even though I wish they went a little deeper into the statistics and research of each essay.

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Comics
Best: Infinite Crisis (2005-2006) – Just like the books section, I only read 6 new comics this year and pretty much enjoyed every one. The best was Infinite Crisis which is a sequel to the legendary 1985 Crisis On Infinite Earths storyline. What’s great is that the sacrificial protagonists from that first book become the villains in this. Great, though dense read and fantastic artwork.

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Live Shows
Best: Kramer’s Reality Tour (1/2) – Ever since Seinfeld did the episode on Kenny Kramer’s reality tour I have always wanted to do it and 2010 was the year I finally did! Brandon, Steve, an unnamed officer, and I braved the chilly weather in January to board a bus hosted by the inspiration behind Kramer and see … a couple of places Larry David referenced in his show. To be honest, this wasn’t the most electrifying thing I’ve ever been a part of, but it was unique and spent with a couple of Seinfeld-obsessed friends so this one takes the cake.
Runner Up: Promises, Promises (7/30)

Worst: Next To Normal (7/24) – Went here with some friends who came up for the weekend. Usually, I’m not a big musical fan – the acting is over the top (as it has to be to convey to a giant room full of people), and the music is usually sub par (emphasis on advancing a story in the lyrics over interesting musical ideas). Well, this one was also way too melodramatic as multiple scene cliffhangers ended in Full House-style with someone running to their room crying. Ugh.
Runner Up: Comic Strip Live (6/5)

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Movies
Best: For A Few Dollars More (1965) – Obviously, everyone is pretty familiar with the awesome The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, but I didn’t see the first two installments in this trilogy until this year. And, wow, good shit! Tons of style, great characters built from very little background, and it’s just very entertaining watching each of the three camps trade the upper hand the whole time. Highly recommended.
Runner Up: Platoon (1986)

Worst: Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997) – I saw the original Mortal Kombat movie when it came out during the summer of 1995 and loved it. Upon successive viewings, it doesn’t hold up all that well. Still, I had always wanted to see the sequel just due to the nostalgia surrounding the first movie. Well, as I’m learning more and more, decisions based purely on nostalgia usually turn out to be terrible ones. I was cringing in the first 5 minutes of this movie and only managed to sit through the whole thing as a challenge of endurance.
Runner Up: The Expendables (2010)

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Restaurants
Best: Swig [Bar] (3/26) New York, NY
I’ll keep this category brief and only mention the best place. Swig is a bar located just blocks away from our place and is a great place to grab a drink with visitors. The atmosphere falls right in between a dive bar and an upscale bar – perfect for this comic book reader in old man clothes!

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TV Shows
Best: The Civil War (1990) – I recall watching a few episodes on video while staying at my aunt’s house sometime around 1994 but I didn’t seriously pay attention until I got these through Netflix this year. Wow. This series is 20 year old and it’s still breathtaking – the production values are incredible, it’s both educational and entertaining and, most impressively, it makes the entire setting of the 1860’s come alive. Now, I can’t wait to get through Ken Burns’ Baseball.
Runner Up: Sober House: Season 2 (2010)

Worst: Amazing Stories: Season 1 (1985-86) – This was a series I remember watching a few episodes of back in its original run when I lived in Long Beach, California. I’d never seen it since so I only had a few, hazy memories of it. Unfortunately, those memories weren’t very illustrative of the entire show. The episodes I remembered were alright … everything else was garbage.
Runner Up: Celebrity Rehab: Season 3 (2010)

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Video Games
Best: Heavenly Sword [PS3] (2007) – I have a giant list of games I need to get through and to make sure I actually play all of them, I’m going in chronological order. So, I finally got around to the crop of games that came out right around the time the PS3 first debuted. Heavenly Sword was one of these and was spectacular. Interesting fighting gameplay, a gripping story, and the best acting I’ve ever seen in a game, it also was relatively short (about 9 hours). Great, great game.
Runner Up: Bully [PS2] (2006)

Worst: TitanWars [iPhone] (2010) – Gotta be honest: I don’t remember a thing about this one. I was in a phase of downloading a bunch of random, free iPhone games and these two were pieces of shit that lasted less than a day on my phone.
Runner Up: Bowman Attack [iPhone] (2010)

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Video Game YouTubes
Best: Metal Gear [MSX] (1987) – Video games are, and have always been, a huge hobby of mine but I’m finding that I have less and less time to play all the games I want to. So, to satisfy this demand I’ve grown to love watching people beat games on YouTube. Anyway, this game is NOT the one for the NES – it’s the original one for the Japanese MSX system that the NES version was based on. Fucking awesome game, especially impressive for 1987.
Runner Up: Ultimate Spider-Man [PS2] (2005)

Worst: Brawl Brothers [SNES] (1993) – A lot of the games I watch on YouTube are old games that I either don’t have the equipment or patience to play. Brawl Brothers was a game my brother and I rented some weekend back in 1993 and never beat. As such, it was one I had to see again. Mistake – this thing is boring and shows how far games have come in 15 years.
Runner Up: Splatterhouse 2 [Genesis] (1992)

    Site Updates:

  • Added Grand Theft Auto IV [PS3] (2008) to Currently Enjoying
  • Removed The Bravery – The Sun and the Moon (2007) from Currently Enjoying
  • Removed Elton John – Caribou (1974) from Currently Enjoying
  • Added Crash Kings (2009) to Currently Enjoying
  • Added George Harrison – Dark Horse (1974) to Currently Enjoying
  • Added The Cape (2011) to Currently Enjoying

Current Mood: Rocking at Rusted Hero show tonight emoticon Rocking at Rusted Hero show tonight

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MINI BLOG: Interview with the Vampire

Interview with the Vampire (1994)
An engrossing and visually rich film, “Interview” kept me interested by presenting some of the facts of everyday vampire life that get left out of other movies: boredom, sadness, loneliness, and apparently a whole lot of homo eroticism! Great acting all around (but that’s to be expected with this powerhouse cast) and Goldenthall always adds a creepy, Gothic vibe to the scenes, but I felt one too too many Vampire-logic holes for my taste. I mean, really, you can’t kill a vampire by stabbing him through his heart but you can with a scythe? [3/5] Liked It

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TWITTER: Streaming Netflix

About to watch Interview with the Vampire via streaming Netflix on my PS3

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MINI BLOG: Slumdog Millionaire

Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
Ok, I’m impressed. It’s so painfully obvious that “Slumdog” was the brainchild of nothing more than one of the gimmicks of gameshow “So You Want To Be A Millionaire” (I guessed the ending with about half an hour left in the film). But, like a great Greek epic, even though the ending is never in doubt, it’s all about the journey that makes the story worthwhile. “Slumdog” prevents a fascinating look at the culture of India’s lowest class (especially the children of this environment) and how they must hustle and struggle to survive almost every moment of their lives. This movie also brings a modern polish to movie-making with web-inspired sub-titles and almost reality TV quality filming. Do I believe this was Best Picture worthy? Maybe not, but definitely worth a view. [4/5] Really Liked It

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Viewing Review

Yep … this site is going to start being a lot more reviewy. I’m falling into a period of my life where I do the same things over and over again (work, play guitar, play basketball, watch basketball, talk about basketball, dream about Dirk Nowitzki) so I’m going to pepper this thing (extremely liberally) with what I think of all the entertainment I experience.

At least that’s the plan for now until my band starts gigging and then things will get cool.

Maybe.

Anyway, the way I rate TV shows and movies is pretty similar to how I rate albums. Ok, actually they just use a similar scale and have none of the OCD-like 2-part system. Since I’m a card-carrying member (and lover) of Netflix, I use their system for movies:

  • 1 – Hated It
  • 2 – Didn’t Like It
  • 3 – Liked It
  • 4 – Really Liked It
  • 5 – Loved It

Whew … now that we’re done with that uber-important information, just know that I do the same thing for TV shows … except I rate each episode and take the average!!!! What the hell is wrong with me?

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Mini Blog: Sick Sleep

In the past 48 hours I’ve slept 28 hours! Yes, that is more than half of two days. I was sick as shit and immobile … just lying on my bed watching Judge Judy’s online, Netflix movies, and passing out. The one time I got up was to get food and that was a mistake. But, I woke up today feeling a lot better …

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  • Zepmoon
    Thursday, June 4th, 2009 at 14:14 | #1

    Have you been associating with swine again?

  • Cassie
    Thursday, June 4th, 2009 at 19:02 | #2

    Suckling on Locke’s teet again, were we?

Yeah, Yeah, Yeah …

Yep … I’m still not sure if I like these Friday Catchups at all. I’m definitely not a fan of the way they’re presented, so expect it to change as I go (of course, that depends on them surviving). Since I missed last week (that’s how enthusiastic I am about doing these so far), there’s going to be an overload in some categories.

 


What I’m Listening To:
David Bowie – Aladdin Sane (1973)
Billy Joel – Cold Spring Harbor (1971)
Dr. Dre – Dr. Dre Presents the Aftermath (1996)
R.E.M. – Lifes Rich Pageant (1986)
The History of Howard Stern: Act II – 1987: Video Thrilled the Radio Star
The Karate Kid Soundtrack (1984)
Hanoi Rocks – Oriental Beat (1982)
Neil Young with Crazy Horse – Everybody Knows This is Nowhere (1969)
Ringo Star – Beaucoups of Blues (1970)
Madonna – Erotica (1992)
Blur – Think Tank (2003)
The History of Howard Stern: Act II – 1988: Radio Wars

I’m starting to finally appreciate David Bowie now that I’m in his good album period. “Aladdin Sane” isn’t as good as “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars,” but it’s still solid. I had high hopes for The Karate Kid soundtrack, but not even “You’re The Best” (the song playing during the ending tournament) was as good as I remembered as a kid (I used to sing it to myself when pretending I was doing martial arts in my backyard). I can’t believe I enjoyed Neil Young as much as I did and Ringo’s second solo album really ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.

 


What I’m Watching:
Sober House (2009)
Tough Love (2009)
Cassandra’s Dream (2007)
Lost: Season 5 (2009)
2009 NBA Season (2009)

“Sober House” is finally over … and just like it’s predecessor, “Celebrity Rehab,” each successive episode was less and less entertaining since the people involved were growing saner. There was an old-school “Lost” twist this week with the death (?) of Ben as a kid – which totally fucks shit up when time travelling. And I’m embarassed to say I watched the first couple of episodes of “Tough Love” – a matchmaking show on Mtv. I think I have a vagina now.

 


What I’m Playing:
PopCap – Zuma (2008) [iPod]

Zuma possessed my soul. There are 12 worlds, each with multiple levels and I was stuck on 11 for the longest time. As soon as I broke that seal, however, I’m unstoppable. However, just because I can beat the game without trying doesn’t seem to prevent me from still compulsively playing it on every commute.

 


What I’m Reading:
Dean Oliver – Basketball on Paper (2002)

I bought a comic to read on eBay 2 weeks ago but it still hasn’t arrived so I’m only reading one thing at nights (something I have to get used to). “Basketball on Paper” is so much better now that I have a few years of NBA Sim under my belt.

 


What I’m Doing:
Trying to start up a band again … booked 3 hours of studio time tomorrow in Smash Studios
Crying at every Dallas Mavericks loss

 


The Encore:

This is a couple of weeks old but I figured that I’d share it with all you non-NBA watching people. And, yes, he used to be a Mavericks last year 🙁

Ah, Radiohead. Back when you were content with being just the best rock band in the world …

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Second Serving

Here goes nothing: my second attempt at this Friday CatchUp. Still not sure if I like it, but I’ll reserve my judgment after a few more of these.

 


What I’m Listening To:
People in Planes – Beyond the Horizon (2008)

As I mentioned last week, I liked their song “Vampire” which was used for a Dirk Nowitzki YouTube mix. I decided to buy their album from Amazon since I liked a couple of their other tunes I found on YouTube. Unfortunately, the album is really samey – all the songs kinda blend into one. Good for a single song listen, but not the makings of a great album experience.

Daryl Hall and John Oates – Whole Oats (1972)
U2 – Pop (1997)

Wow … I actually liked this Hall and Oates debut. So easy listening that I feel like I’m in a dentist’s office or a shopping mall circa 1985, but damn near perfect songcraft. I remember U2’s Pop album coming out in high school and cool, older kids saying it was “really good.” I finally gave the full thing a listen and guess what? They were “really wrong.”

Beck – Midnite Vultures (1999)
The History of Howard Stern: Act II – 1986-1987: Philadelphia Freedom

 


What I’m Watching:
Once Upon a Time in America (1984)

Long and slightly bloated, this crime epic is just … ok. It’s actually a bit amazing that a movie made by Sergio Leone and starring Robert De Niro about gangsters doesn’t deliver all the goods.

Lost: Season 5 (2009)
Castlevania Games beaten on YouTube
2009 NBA Season (2009)

 


What I’m Playing:
Gameloft – Block Breaker Deluxe (2008) [iPod]

Another subway commute game. This was actually the game I played before Mahjongg … maybe two months ago. But at the very end something fucked up and I wasn’t able to beat it. So, after beating Mahjongg, I decided to show some restraint and try Block Breaker again rather than buy a new game.

 


What I’m Reading:
John Kennedy Toole – A Confederacy of Dunces (1980)
Dean Oliver – Basketball on Paper (2002)

A reread of this classic. The first time I went through this book, I wasn’t really aware of the idea of “pace” in basketball. Now, having a year or so under my belt of doing my own pace research, I expect to get a lot more out of this one.

 


What I’m Doing:
ZogSports 3-on-3 Co-Ed Basketball

My team, “No Names” (ugh, I hate this name) has made it to the playoffs as the 2nd seed. Tomorrow, every game of the playoffs will be played and there is a maximum of 6 games we might have to play. It will be grueling, but awesome if we can pull out a victory. The rest of my team is made up of the winners from last year so it’s doable, but this year’s competition is supposedly way harder than last year’s.

Wednesday Trivia at the Banshee Pub (Team Name: Lost’s A Rerun) 4th place
High school friend, Michelle, is visiting us this weekend

 


The Encore:

I randomly came across this clip yesterday. I used to have an AOL account back in high school and, though I’m sure we had no problem cancelling it, I do recall AOL having some annoying business practices.

Mighty Led Zeppelin anthem + Nintendo bloops and bleeps = hotness!

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I Watch The Watchmen

Photo © 2009 Warner Bros.

Sunday night I found myself in the office, putting in some weekend time into a project that wouldn’t go away. After only a handful of hours, I couldn’t take it anymore; I couldn’t bring myself to put any more work into the project and Watchmen had already been out (and unseen) for 2 days! I hurriedly gathered my possessions together and rushed over to Regal Union Square Stadium 14 to catch the 10:30 pm showing. There was a surprisingly long line waiting for me, but it moved quickly and I parked myself into one of those single, wheelchair-companion seat to watch the film adaptation of one of the most influential stories I’ve ever read.

Almost three hours later I was exhausted. I found myself conflicted in how exactly I felt about the movie as a whole, but I was also thoroughly entertained. In the days since, I’ve discussed the film with a couple people, so to blog a little quicker, I’ll just paste my comments here.

E-mail to the webmaster of the SteverOnline
I’m going to blog about it a little later today, hopefully. I’m still formulating a definitive opinion, actually, but here just 10 of my initial thoughts.

  1. The main three (Ror, Owl, Silk) looked exactly like the comic characters. I especially liked Steve Nash’s rendition of Rorschach (was it just me who thought that actor looked like Nashy?)
  2. I thought the effects on Dr. Manhattan were lame and so … obviously cgi. It didn’t look like he was actually in the scenes.
  3. I actually liked Ozymandius being super tall and thin. He looked like the next generation of man which is sort of what he is.
  4. I also actually liked the change of the ending. The whole space alien/psychic terror infliction never really resonated with me in the comic. Making it appear as if Dr. Manhattan just goes nuts actually makes a lot more sense. Plus, it’s nice and quick so audiences don’t have to sit through all of that build up, the pirate comic, etc. Don’t get me wrong, I like all of that stuff, but in the interest of time I thought the decision was fine and even enjoyed it.
  5. I thought the violence and nudity were gratuitous. I always found the nudity in the book jarring (Dr. Manhattan’s peenie being the lone exception, oddly) but at least it seemed kinda ho hum. Here it was like a porn all of a sudden! And the porn kept going and going. I mean, the comic interspersed the sex with allusions of other stuff going on. Here it was just man and woman butts pressed onto the camera.
  6. Like so many creative endeavors I think they hit it out of the park with the opening. The comedian’s killing and the credits … though I wish the credits had remained semi-still instead of eventually turning into full motion. Maybe it was depicting passing of time, but I really thought the semi-still was a great effect.
  7. The movie never seemed bigger than the comic! That was weird. Maybe that was the ultimate thing that I couldn’t grasp. It’s like reading a novel version of Indiana Jones … I want to just see the damn movie cuz it’s cooler. Here, it was the exact opposite.
  8. I have read “WATCHMAN” so much now that it was like watching Spaceballs or a good Seinfeld. I knew all the dialogue and could even tell when they changed 1 or 2 words. That actually wasn’t fun but I got over it after a while
  9. Too god damn long. Even though it seemed like a feast … at one point I went “fuck there’s a lot more story left! Awesome!” I did have to leave to pee once and I was exhausted near the end. Maybe they should’ve done a 12-part mini series or something.

 

After a couple of hours to let it sit, I came up with this conclusion:

IM conversation with the French Tickler, Richard Killiam
the thing is the comic is done in a cinematic fashion, so the movie feels more like a remake rather than an adaptation. the comic is a better movie than the film!

 

I was thinking about going into a whole thing about my history with and love for Watchmen the comic, but this post is really about the movie and I’ve said my peace. If you haven’t already seen it, maybe wait for the DVD to come out. But it’s definitely worth seeing once.

Current Mood: Geeking Out emoticon Geeking Out

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Friday CatchUp

Hmm … I really don’t have much to talk about, but I saw that I only posted 3 non-mini blogs in February. The last time I only managed to squeeze out 3 blasts was back in July of 2007 and that was mainly due to a website error that left stanus.butt down for weeks. So I guess I’ll just have to force myself to come up with something to talk about!

Maybe I’ll try something new here. Call it inspired. Call it a cop out. Call it a one hit wonder. Who knows … maybe it’ll have some staying power. Probably not. But it’ll fill up space on the site quite nicely!

This is the first (and quite possibly last) Friday CatchUp: a posting where I quickly recap what I’ve been listening to, watching and doing the past week. It’ll give me a weekly deadline to at least say something instead of waiting for inspiration to strike (though I’ll still be on guard for those opportunities). I’ll also be sure to post The Encore … your reward for making it through the entire boring post!

 


What I’m Listening To:

Danny Elfman – Batman: Original Motion Picture Score (1989)
Elliot Goldenthal – Batman Forever: Original Motion Picture Score (1995)

I always loved the music to both of these movies but this was the first time I actually listened to the full score albums. Batman Forever was kinda the same theme over and over, but Batman is probably just under Star Wars, Indiana Jones and Back to the Future as far as film scores go!

The Bob Seger System – Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man (1969)
Eric Clapton – Eric Clapton (1970)

Generic rock from even one of the best periods of music is still boring as hell.

 


What I’m Watching:

The Wrestler (2008)

Good movie. We went to go see this at the 1-room theater five blocks away from the apartment and used a 14 month-old gift card to see it for free.

Batman: The Animated Series: Season 3 (1993)
Lost: Season 5 (2009)
Tom Green clips on YouTube
2009 NBA Season (2009)

I’m sure it’s safe to assume I will be watching the NBA every week so I’ll keep quiet about it unless something big happens. Meanwhile, something big has happened: the Mavericks lost to the worst team two nights ago … and this team didn’t even have their two best players. Owner, Mark Cuban, is fuming and I believe big things will be happening soon.

Tool Academy (2009)
The Bachelor: Season Who Cares (2009)

I’m embarrassed to admit that I watched these two shows. Well, I only watched the finale to the Bachelor since Howard Stern talked it up so much (it was absolutely ridiculous), but I actually have been tuning in each week to watch Tool Academy 🙁

 


What I’m Playing:

Electronic Arts – Mahjongg (2008) [iPod]

I’m still simming for my NBA Sim project so I haven’t been in a video game type of mood, really. But, on my commutes to and from work I’m always playing this little gem from EA. I’m actually nearing completion … I only have about 8 levels left before I conquer the damn thing.

 


What I’m Reading:

Squadron Supreme (1985-86)

Watchmen changed my life when I read it at age 17 and it’s weird to finally realize that it wasn’t as revolutionary as it is always touted to be. Squadron Supreme was completed a full year before Watchmen and hits on a lot of the similar themes. But, let’s be real, as good as Squadron is, Watchmen takes a shit on all comics for all time. And, yes, I will be seeing the movie this weekend!

JLA: Terror Incognita (2002)
John Kennedy Toole – A Confederacy of Dunces (1980)

 


What I’m Doing:
ZogSports 3-on-3 Co-Ed Basketball
Wednesday Trivia at the Banshee Pub (Team Name: A-Rod’s Cousin)

Wednesday was Cassie’s birthday and ever the gamer, she decided we would try out trivia night at a pub down the street. The place was so nice and the event so fun, we’re definitely planning on going back again.

 


The Encore:

This song was used on a cool Dirk Nowitzki mix I found on YouTube. Here’s them playing it acoustically (just as good as the studio version).

Huge, huuuuuuuge Tom Green kick right now. Here’s one of the best.

Current Mood: Inspired emoticon Inspired

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