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Showing posts from October, 2017

The Upload Project #10

CD #21 '0404 Mix' with 5 repeats(some of these made me recoil a little bit. Fat Joe? Pre-rehab Eminem? SMH. I had questionable taste in music back in the day.)
Janet Jackson- Just A Little While
Musical Youth- Pass The Dutchie
N.E.R.D- She Wants To Move
The Offspring- Hit That
Prince- 7
Crash Test Dummies- Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm
Fat Joe w/Ashanti- What's Luv
Traveling Wilburys- Handle With Care
Blondie- Call Me
The Cars- Moving In Stereo
The Gap Band- You Dropped A Bomb On Me
Kinky- Mas Y Mas
Eminem- Superman
The Hives- Hate To Say I Told You So
Red Hot Chili Peppers- Roller Coaster of Love

CD #22, Untitled. A mystery CD that was declared 'unreadable by this computer.'

CD #23 'Ultimate Summer Mix' with too many repeats to count. I'm feeling lazy.
Mungo Jerry- Summer Time
Inner Circle- Sweat
The Corrs- Summer Sunshine
Katrina and The Waves- Walking On Sunshine
Jason Mraz- The Remedy
Joe Walsh- Rocky Mountain Way
War- Low Rider

CD #24, School of Rock Mix
Cream- White Ro…

Netflix & Chill #29: The Big Sick

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Watched On: Redbox
Released: 2017
Starring: Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Ray Romano, Holly Hunter, Adeel Akhtar, Anupam Kher
Rotten Tomatoes: 98%
Pick: Mine

I've been listening to various Nerdist podcasts on and off for a couple of years now, so both Kumail Nanjiani and his now wife, Emily V. Gordon and their story were somewhat familiar to me going into this movie and having heard both of them on a podcast here and there, I found them both to be funny, intelligent and engaging so I was all about tracking this movie down and watching it. (If for no other reason than to find out what the mysterious illness affecting Emily actually was- the podcasts/interviews I've listened to with them have made reference to it without actually coming out and saying what it is- at least, not that I can remember.)

So, the movie opens with Kumail (Kumail Nanjiani), a young Chicago comedian who performs at night and drives for Uber during the day. He was a one man show about his Pakistani background, b…

This Week In Vexillology #235

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Our tour of Germany comes to an end this week with the state of Mecklenberg-Vorpommern (or, as I'm going to refer to it as to avoid constantly misspelling 'Vorpommern', Mecklenberg-West Pomerania). Meck-Pomm rounds us out not only with an interesting flag, but because of the ancestral roots of The Missus' maiden name, 'Bandow'- wherever the first Bandows came from, they came from here, so I think it's nice to give the place a shout out!

The northeastern 'shoulder' of German, Meck-Pomm is the band that just keeps getting back together. They were apart, they merged after World War II, split again in 1952 and got back together once more after German unification in 1990. They are, if that's possible, kind of like the Alaska of Germany in that they're one of the larger states (6th biggest by area) but it's also the least densely populated state. A glance through their delightful Wikipage reveals it to be a scenic and beautiful place right alo…

The City Council Endorsements

It's almost November and that means Election Day is right around the corner for local offices, including Iowa City's own City Council! To be honest, I haven't really been as plugged into this race as I have in years past. I've never been very impressed with our City Council and I'm still sort of mad at myself that I let the Charter Review process sort of slip by me without even going to a meeting. (Sidebar: I honestly don't know where we're gonna be ten years from now, but damn it, I want to go to a meeting about shit like this next time! Iowa City deserves a directly elected mayor and I hate that City Council Districts don't mean shit, because the entire city can vote on the District races as well. My District should have it's own representation voted on by my district, damn it!)
But here we are again for another election and I'm actually rather pleased to find our new house in the southern end of District B, which means that we've actually…

Boozehound Unfiltered: With A Name Like Cockburns, It's Gotta Be Good

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Boozehound this month is stepping away from whiskey to take a dip into the deep and wide ocean that is the Wonderful World of Port. This means, before we plunge into our review of Cockburn's Special Reserve we have to answer the most basic question of all: just what the hell is port anyway?

Well, at it's most basic: it's a fortified wine made with grapes from the Douro River Valley in Northern Portugal. It's a bit more complicated than that in terms of the varieties of port and different shades and the like, but that's essentially it in a sentence. The grapes from the Douro get made into wine and then, they add a neutral grape spirit known as aguardente. This has the effect of stopping the fermentation process and leaving residual sugar in the wine and in a nice twist also boosts the alcohol content on this delicious stuff, so it's good times all round!

The World of Port is a delicious and, if you have the benjamins to spend, expensive place to explore- and it&…

Netflix & Chill #28: Wonder Woman

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Watched On: Redbox
Released: 2017
Starring: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright, Danny Huston, David Thewlis, Connie Nielsen, Elena Anaya
Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Pick: Mine

I've been wanting to see Wonder Woman ever since it was in the theaters over the summer, so once I saw that it had arrived on Redbox, I snatched up immediately to see for myself if it was as good as advertised. Turns out, the hype is real, the movie is excellent and I'll go one step further: this might be the best DC Comics movie yet.

The movie opens in present-day Paris, where Diana Prince (Gal Gadot), who works as an art restorer (which is a nice touch that I enjoyed) receives a photographic plate of herself and four men taken during World War I.  Looking at the photo, she remembers her past. She was raised on the hidden islands of Themyscira, home of the Amazons, who were created by Zeus to protect mankind. Her mother, Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) reveals the rest of their history- how Ares, son of Zeus, be…

This Week In Vexillology #234

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I was going to look at the flag of Hesse this week, but decided it was kind of boring (there are multiple red over white horizontal bicolors out there. Even if it's defaced with the Coat of Arms, it's still kind of 'meh') so switched it up to take a look at the flag of Saarland instead!


Right off the bat this proved to be an interesting choice, because outside of the city-states of Berlin, Bremen and Hamburg, Saarland is Germany's smallest state in both population and area. Historically, it's also something of an interesting anomaly, because prior to the aftermath of World War I, when it came into being as 'The Territory of the Saar Basin' it hadn't existed as an entity at all. Parts of it had been Bavarian, parts Prussian- but there had been no Saar before The League of Nations upped and created it.

The inhabitants voted (90.8% of them) to rejoined Germany in 1935, but post-World War II from 1947 until 1956, it was a French occupied territory disti…

Bookshot #101: Hyperion

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I had no idea what to expect when I picked up Hyperion. I had seen Dan Simmons books before- with interesting titles like Illium and Olympos they had always vaguely intrigued me, but I had no idea what to expect when I actually sat down and cracked open one of his books. Put it this way, if you've ever had that dangerous, snobbish thought that 'science fiction isn't real literature' well, you need to go and read Hyperion. Because it's not just good science fiction, it's genre bending, excellent literature, packed full of references to religion, classic literature, poetry- so many it made my head spin at various points. When I finished this, I almost, almost ran to Wikipedia to spoil the sequel for myself, but I turned away. I made myself wait. Because as with all good literature and great books,  I can't wait to see what happens next.

In the far future of the 27th Century, humanity has spread across the galaxy with a core of worlds being connected through a…

Albums2010 #94: Singles

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I remember seeing Future Islands perform on Letterman a couple of years back and thinking to myself, 'man, I should check these dudes out' and three years and one Men In Blazers Pod Special later, here we are, finally sitting down to check out their 2014 album, Singles.

The first thing that jumps out at you about Future Islands is the music itself. It feels like synthpop, but a Wikipedia dive into the band's page reveals that prefer to consider themselves post-wave, which combines "the romanticism of new wave with the power and drive of post-punk" which actually sums up their music nicely. It feels like new wave- the lyrics are often sad and tinged with melancholy, but it's not happy boppy 80s style music either- it's got an edge and drive to it that makes it stand out immediately. They cite (again from their wiki-page) New Order, Joy Division, Kim Seal, The Cure and Smashing Pumpkins as influences, all of which I can see, but curiously absent from the li…

Netflix & Chill #27: No Reservations

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Watched On: Netflix
Released: 2007
Starring: Catherine Zeta-Jones, Aaron Eckhart, Abigail Breslin, Patricia Clarkson, Bob Balaban
Rotten Tomatoes: 42%
Pick: Mine 

So, I watched Burnt last week and was sort of unimpressed with it but I kept seeing No Reservations float past me on the old Netflix app and I thought, why not give another food-based movie a go? So, we went old schoolish and fired it up.

Catherine Zeta-Jones stars as Kate Armstrong, the head chef of a trendy New York restaurant which Wikipedia informs is called 22 Bleecker Street and is in the West Village of New York. (Neither of which is all that relevant to the film itself, but Wikipedia thinks it is important.) Kate is driven, obsessed with making the most perfect food possible and runs her kitchen at a breakneck pace. She intimidates everyone around her, including her boss (Patricia Clarkson) who sends her to therapy (with her therapist, played by Bob Balaban.) Kate hates leaving the kitchen to take compliments, but is all…

This Week In Vexillology #233

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Our tour of Germany continues this week and we're moving to the other end of the size spectrum by taking a look at the flag of Germany's smallest state- The Free Hanseatic City of Bremen.


So before we plunge into what's up with this cool looking flag, we've got to take a slight historical detour to talk about the Hanseatic League, since it's sort of relevant here. Basically, the Hanseatic League sort of emerged as a commercial and defensive confederation of Northern German cities in the 1100s and rose to be the chief commercial power in the Baltic for nearly three centuries before declining in the middle 1400s and petering out by 1669, when only nine members attended the last formal meeting of the League. Three cities remained as members until it's final demise in 1862 and those are the three cities that retain 'Hanseatic City' in their official titles: Lubeck, Hamburg and of course, Bremen.

The League has modern legacies in the German airline Lufthansa…

Sportsyball!

Adopt-A-Team: Maybe I should stop following teams around...  it's too early to tell, but I either suck at picking teams at random or I just seem to select teams doomed to mid-table obscurity. But it's early in the season, so there's still time for Defensa Y Justicia to make some noise, but so far...  it's been kind of a rough start:

L to Temperley (Copa Argentina)
D with Gimnasia
W over Estudiantes
L to Union
L to Colon
D with Huracan
L to River Plate (Copa Argentina)

Not a rousing start to the season so far! 2 draws, 1 win and 2 losses. I did do a little more digging on my team though and found out that the club has been around since 1935- but in kind of a bummer bit of news, there's nothing out there about how the club got it's name. The colors of green and yellow were the colors of the bus line 'El Halcon', which belonged to a former club president- it's also where they get their nick name of 'The Hawks' or 'El Halcones' which is …

Tom Petty, 1950-2017

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I've been trying to put together some words about the passing of Tom Petty for about a week now, but haven't really been able to find anything all that profound, except to say this:

It was late in elementary school, early in junior high when I began to discover music on my own. Prior to that, I had sort of been at the mercy of the musical tastes of my parents, a strange mix of Jethro Tull, Peter Gabriel-era Genesis, UB40, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and lots and lots of opera. But my first explorations: Q103. That was the radio station. Open House Party with John Garabitien was my Saturday night. August and Everything After by the Counting Crows was the first album I purchased- and you know it really makes me feel old to admit this, but it was a cassette purchased from Sam Goody in Sycamore Mall.

So when I heard about the death of Tom Petty, it only reminded me that there are a short list of bands and artists from my youth whose music will always, always resonate with me and Tom…

Columbus Day Is Not A Real Holiday

I sense a disturbance in the Force. It's coming... articles are starting to bubble up. You see them here and there- whispers and accusations. The War On Holidays is about to open up a new front- the War on Columbus Day is almost here.*

Let's get one thing out of the way, right up front: Columbus Day is not a real holiday. It's a bullshit holiday. I never got a day off school for Columbus Day. I never get holiday pay for Columbus Day. All I know is that it's a day where you can get appliances for cheap and the mail doesn't come. And let's be clear: why are we celebrating Columbus anyway? For a start, he was a terrible, terrible human being- people always trot out this excellent edition of The Oatmeal which points that out- and for two, he didn't actually discover 'the new world'**. Leif Erikson did that.

Which brings around to the meaning of this bullshit holiday to begin with. If, it's about celebrating the discovery of the Americas by Europeans…

Netflix & Chill #26: Burnt

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Watched On: Netflix
Released: 2015
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Alicia Vikander, Omar Sy, Daniel Bruhl, Matthew Rhys, Uma Thurman, Emma Thompson
Rotten Tomatoes: 29%
Pick: Mine

Bradley Cooper stars as Adam Jones, a hot shot chef who was on the verge of getting his Third Michelin Star in one of the best restaurants in Paris before drug use and his insane quest for perfection caused him to implode in spectacular fashion, taking down his restaurant and his career and the careers of quite a few of his friends along the way, He disappeared, sobered up and sentenced himself to exile in New Orleans shucking one million oysters. That done, he heads back to London to get back in the game, open a new restaurant and get the third Michelin star.

Getting the band back together proves to be more difficult than Adam anticipates. The former maitre d of Jean Luc's restaurant (Daniel Bruhl) hasn't forgiven him and kicks him out of his family's hotel. A former sous chef from his old …

This Week In Vexillology #232

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We're starting our grand tour of German States with the perhaps (and I'm not German, so if you want to make a case for some other state, come at me, brah) the state that could be called the 'California' of Germany- that's right, we're starting in Bavaria:
So where is Bavaria?If you picture Germany in your head, the lower right hand quarter (more or less) is where you'll find Bavaria. It's capital is Munich, home of Oktoberfest- so it feels right to start here. In terms of area, it's the largest state in Germany, and slides in at number two in terms of population (behind North Rhine-Westphalia). Bavaria has been around for a very long time. As a Duchy, it goes all the way back to the year 555, became an integral part of the Holy Roman Empire and existed as an independent Kingdom from 1806 to 1918 when it then became a Republic.

Flag-wise, there are actually two official flags of Bavaria, the streifenflagge (a horizontal bicolor of white over blue) a.…

Psephology Rocks: Oktoberfest Ist Here!

I missed the actual date for the German elections, but I still think the aftermath is worth talking about because I think the German system is probably one of the first mixed systems I've looked at while doing these posts. So, before we break down the results of the elections (which I'm sure everybody's seen by now: they voted way back on September 24th, so go figure) we should probably pop the hood and see how the magic happens in Germany.

From a structural point of view, Germany is a federal parliamentary republic- so it's got a bicameral legislature, a President for a head of state (largely ceremonial) and a Chancellor for a head of government (who actually runs things, usually the leader of the largest party in the Bundestag.) In that sense, it's really that different from a lot of other parliamentary democracies out there. But it's once you get into the nitty gritty of it all that interesting differences get teased out.

The upper house, the Bundesrat is act…

Squawk Box: Trekkerdamerung

Star Trek: Enterprise
This might be an unpopular opinion, but I think that Enterprise deserved at least one more season and it baffles me that the fourth season didn't get them at least 13 more episodes- hell, even a pick-up as a mid-season replacement would have been something that this show had earned at the very least. I get why they pulled the plug though- it took this show too long to find its footing and it spent three seasons getting lost in a lot of unnecessary muck and mire before putting together a remarkably solid, nay, even good 4th Season. That only makes the overall experience of the show that much more frustrating. This could have been really, really good- the threads were all there. They just didn't get it put together in time.

If it were me, I would have made a rule from Episode 1: if they haven't met an alien in the Original Series, they can't appear on Enterprise. There were too many episodes in the first season that felt like they were checking off …