Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Beauty in breakdown...

Finally got to see Garden State last night.

Totally worth the wait. Zach Braff delivers in his first feature with a story that is gentle, heartfelt and real.

Fantastic acting and story. One of my top 5 of 2004...

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Once again, the critics are bollocks

For my birthday, Alli and I had a "Shane Day". I got to pick where we went, what we ate, etc. So for our mid-day movie, we went and saw the critically-acclaimed movie, Sideways, a movie that has opened to much laud and praise from nearly every critic in the land and is a prime example of why I am not a critic.

The movie was terrible. Not The Singing Detective terrible, but terrible nonetheless. Sure, the acting by Paul Giamatti was, as always, spot on. However, the movie was useless except for one minor 2-minute scene between Giamatti and Virginia Madsen where they are talking about what got them into wine (this presents another one of my problems with the movie - I loathe wine). But this conversation between the two is so good that it almost makes the rest of the movie worth it.

Who am I kidding? There was no WAY that made the movie worth it.

I'm really pulling for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I hope it wins everything.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Merry Christmas

Remember the reason for the season.

Luke 2:1-20

Thursday, December 16, 2004

A Long Way Down


A new novel from Nick Hornby. Most excellent.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Best/Worst Christmas Songs

Wonderful Christmastime - Paul McCartney
Happy Christmas (War is Over) - John & Yoko and the Plastic Ono Band & the Harlem Children's Choir
Santa Claus is Comin' to Town - Bruce Springsteen
Santa Baby - Kylie Minogue
I Want a Hippopottamus for Christmas - Gayla Peevey
Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer - Elmo & Patsy

Baby, It's Cold Outside - Zooey Deschanel in Elf
Tender Tennessee Christmas - Alabama
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings - Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLachlan
When the River Meets the Sea - John Denver & the Muppets
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas - Frank Sinatra

I love this time of year. There are two stations in KC that play Christmas music 24-7 from Thanksgiving on. HOWEVER, there are some major offenders during that time as listed in the above list. As much as I like the Beatles, the two songs listed above are two of the most annoying songs that get played during this season. You would think that I wouldn't think of stepping on more classic rockers' toes, but the Boss's rendition of Santa Claus is Comin' is so awful that I refuse to listen to it all the way through. I just can't stand it. And why would you mess with Madonna? I know that Madonna was not the first to record Santa Baby, but it's tons better than Kylie's weak rendition of it. But truthfully, there are no worse songs during Christmas than the Hippo song and Grandma Got Run Over... Musically, they are grating - like fingernails on a chalkboard. Lyrically, they are just as bad.

If you haven't seen Elf, I highly suggest seeing it this season. It's just a good holiday movie. Funny and sweet and features Zooey Deschanel singing the best version I've ever heard of "Baby, It's Cold Outside". Just remember: "The best way to bring Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear." I grew up on the Alabama Chrismas CASSETTE. I think we might have even worn it out. "Tender Tennessee Christmas" is the song that I remember more than any. And I don't even like country. OK, so I know that the BNL/Sarah song is a recent recording, but those dang Canadians blend their voices so well on this song that it has to be on the list. Another album that we grew up on was John Denver & the Muppets Christmas Together. I think they even had a TV special. I love all the songs on this CD (yeah, I bought this one), but this one is my favorite. Frank. Christmas. Have Yourself a Merry One. Enough said.

Greatest TV Characters of the Past 10 Years

I watch TV.

Not an obnoxious amount of it (especially lately), but I have my shows that I like. So, in this guy's opinion, the following characters are my favorite of the last 10 years, listed in descending order by their greatness.

Lowell Mather - "Wings" - Lowell, the mechanic on this show about a small East Coast commuter airport was a big-hearted lunkhead who was always good for several laughs per episode. He was, by far, the best part of that show. Thomas Haden Church is now up for a Golden Globe for his role in Sideways. He's certainly come a long way.

Communicator Harry Solomon - "3rd Rock from the Sun" - I took some warming up to French Stewart. At first, I didn't realize what a comedic genius he was until I saw the movie Love Stinks. I gained a greater appreciation for his 3rd Rock character after I realized that he was not in fact, ANYTHING like his character on the show. The more I watched 3rd Rock, the more I liked it, but only because of Harry. As the family's only communication to the Big Giant Head, it was always great to see him go into Communicator mode.

John "JD" Dorian
- "Scrubs" - A relatively recent series, "Scrubs" has quickly become a favorite of mine. After missing most of the first season, I now rarely miss an episode. Zach Braff's JD is my favorite character because he is such a real character. His internal monologues are reminiscent of "Ally McBeal" and his insecurities and quirks are what make his character great. Plus, his ongoing feud with Janitor calls to mind Jerry v. Newman. No reason for their animosity toward each other, but brilliant nonetheless. And anyone who has ever looked up to someone can understand his adoration of Dr. Cox despite Cox's constant torment of him.

Julian Sark
- "Alias" - If Sark were more of a main character, he'd probably be higher on this list, but for a young show, this is one of the reasons that "Alias" has such a huge cult following (and is ultimately one of the best, if not THE best, shows on television). Sark is the ultimate bad guy. Dry, charismatic, good looking, and...British. What makes Sark amazing is that he is played by a guy from OREGON named David Anders. That's right. Oregon. It was good to see him in the forefront of the action in Season Three, but he will likely take a backseat this upcoming season (less than a month away!) with the addition of The Sister.

John Cage
- "Ally McBeal" - I got into this show really late, but there has only been one wackier, more nuanced character in the last ten years of TV (see below). Cage, played brilliantly by Peter MacNichol was a brilliant legal mind, severely hampered by his eccentricities. The way his nose whistled was my favorite.

Joey Tribbiani - "Friends" - Sentimental, sure. But I love Joey. Matt LeBlanc was smart to sign up to play him in his own show because he doesn't really have any other characters (see: any of his movies). Secretly, I was so glad. "Friends" needed to end, but I was going to miss it a lot and "Joey" at least has him. I imagine that if it lives (and there's a good chance it won't), that we'll see reunions with the other friends somewhere down the road. I can only hope.

Cosmo Kramer - "Seinfeld" - The craziest, most eccentric, most interesting, and most funny character in possibly the entire history of television. Most people probably couldn't even give you the full name of the man who played him (see here), but EVERYONE knows Kramer. The things that he did and the ideas he came up with were so off-the-wall that you wondered where people came up with them (the "Bro", the shower food disposal, tanning with butter). I know this isn't very original, but he was the reason that show was great. With only the other 3 characters, that show isn't half as good.

Marshall Flinkman
- "Alias" - I imagine that the producers of "Alias" were pretty pleased with themselves when they realized what an amazing casting job they had done when they put in Kevin Weisman as the geeky Q type character to Sydney Bristow's Bond. I know I was happy when they started including him in every show. He is the perfect amount of comic relief to a show that without it, is just a really really good drama. Marshall makes "Alias" the greatest show on television because he provides the balance that it needs to keep from taking itself too seriously. Rock on.

Jack McFarland & Karen Walker
- "Will & Grace" - There is a strong following of this show out there that think that the producers got it wrong. It should be called "Jack & Karen". While I love Debra Messing and Eric McCormack as the star-crossed friends, they are just too boring. Megan Mullaly and Sean Hayes are what make this show and if "Sex and the City" had not been on the last 6 years, Mullaly would have racked up several Supporting Actress Emmys by now. I grouped them together because...well, they go together.

Chandler Bing
- "Friends" - I imagine that it would have been easy for the other characters of "Friends" to get irritated with Matthew Perry. For the first several years of the show (if not for the entire length of it), Chandler got all of the funny lines and all of the best one-liners. His character was just, cross-dressing father who sings burlesque; sleazy romance-book-writing mother with a penchant for younger men. (One of my favorite lines of all-time from Ross: "Tonight did you wear a black cocktail dress and invite me up to your room?" "No" "Then you are NEITHER of your parents.") When Chandler and Monica hooked up, you half-expected him to blow it (and he almost did), but Chandler was the great sarcastic everyman...the guy who thought of all the lines that everyone wished that they could deliver on cue. ("Guess what!" "The fifth Dentist caved and now they all recommend Trident?") I think my favorite thing about "Friends" though, was Chandler and Joey's friendship. I could relate to it (especially the foosball playing). While I truly miss my Thursday friends, I'll always have the seasons on DVD to remember them by.

inspired by this article.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

I totally blew it.

For the past 12 weeks, we have been playing a poker tournament of champions...a buy-in and then a weekly game for points...average score of best 8 3 pays out.

We hosted the finals at our house last night. I started the night tied for 3rd and felt good, considering we had 18 people playing and I was on my home field.

And I was the first out.

And I ended up in 6th.

Marginal hands killed me. Pay to see a flop, then don't catch anything. I think that I might have taken down one big pot all night...the rest of them I ended up folding to other people because my cards were just THAT BAD.

Oh well. Our weekly poker game is pretty cheap entertainment. Good times.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

My Holiday/Birthday Wish List

OK...I love having the ability to create a wish list on Here's mine...

As a reminder, my birthday is 2 days before Christmas. Just in case you want to get me anything.

Here are things of interest on my list:

Apple iMac G5 and Apple iBook
Apple is really going after the home market. These are really really affordable home-use computers that are completely customizable to the power that you want. What is particularly interesting is that there are folks who want the portability of a laptop so they immediately look at the PowerBook, but what is interesting is that Apple has now positioned their pricing so that you can buy a 17" powerbook for the same price that you can get BOTH a 17" iMac and a 12" iBook, giving you both the stability of a desktop at home (and a nice one at that, with the G5 technology) as well as the portability of a nice little 12" iBook G4.

Some Spectacular DVDs
Napoleon Dynamite
Rounders: Collector's Edition
Family Guy: Seasons 1,2,3
Billy Madison / Happy Gilmore 2-pack (does it get more genius than putting these two together?)

U2: How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb
Zero 7: When it Falls
The Urge: Too Much Stereo (the only album of theirs that I don't have...)
Frank Sinatra Christmas

Doyle Brunson's Super System
Dinner for Two by Mike Gayle
Positively Fifth Street by James McManus

I would also like the following, but they can't really be categorized...
Nice Playing Cards
Scene It DVD Game
Trivial Pursuit DVD Pop Culture Game
Macromedia Studio MX 2004 for Mac
Remote for my Digital Camera

I know it seems like a lot, internet, but if you buy from my Amazon wish list, you can have it sent right to me.

Christmas is fun. Alli and I got all our shopping done last Monday...all we have left to buy for is each other. I'm excited.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

And he shall be called "Dead Money" no more

Rough poker night last night. In what could have been huge for me in me and my friends' version of the Tournament of Champions, I bluffed at the wrong pot.

My brother brings a friend of his to all of our games and thus far, he hadn't been to impressive. I think he took some umbrage with the fact that I called him "dead money". Well, Chris, dead money you are no longer. Here's the hand:

My hand: J-8 offsuit
My stack: about 1/3 his
The flop: J, 7, 6 rainbow
4th St.: King

At this point is where I went all-in. Chris checked to me and I read him correctly that he did not have the King. Going all-in, I represented it, but he read me correctly and knew I didn't have it either. He had the stack to call (although it was a large call) and he did.

He out-kicked me with his queen. I only had about 10 outs, an 8 to win or a 7 or 6 to split the pot.

River: Nothing. Goodnight Shane.

Stayed and dealt. I was happy to see my brother go out next...that helped me immensely in the Tournament. I was also pleased that "Dead Money" won.

Nice work, Chris.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Just call it a Christmas party!

Tomorrow night is our company "holiday party". Our company tends to go all out for things like this and this year is no exception. We have gotten so large now that we have to hold our event in a ballroom at a hotel vs. having it at a restaurant like we used to.

I realize the desire to be "politically correct" but is there anyone who doesn't consider it a Christmas party? It's the Christmas season, everyone in the country still gets Christmas Day off as a holiday (except the geniuses that work at movie theaters).

Just call it a Christmas party.