Monday, December 15, 2008

Stevie Wonder

This guy looks like the nicest man ever and based on this last weekend, I'd say looks are not deceiving.

There is a whole story as to how I got to see Stevie, but for the sake of this post I will concentrate on the concert and the man. When you see an artist like Stevie Wonder, there is bound to be disappointment. I knew that going into the concert. With other artists, you face the potential of not sounding like the record because they are only good in the studio, coming across like an arrogant jerk, being lost in the hype of an over zealous stage show. None of these were issues on Saturday Night when I saw Stevie Wonder's House full of Toys concert at the Nokia Live Theater. When I walked into the concert I remembered that it was also a toy drive and had a bit of fear..."what if they don't let me in because I don't have a wrapped gift." Well, things worked out just fine and I made my way into the new theater. It really is a great room. I was in the far far back but I still felt like I was right there. The sound quality was the best I'd ever heard in a venue of that size.

Before going into the room, I found out there would be no intermission and that the concert would go from 8:30 - 11:30. There was no opening act, the concert was actually a series of different artists performing with Stevie. The lights lowered and with no fanfare or announcement, Stevie walked on the simple stage and thanked everyone for coming out. I know this sounds lame, but when he addressed the crowd, it didn't feel like he was talking to the whole arena, it felt like he was talking to each of us as though we were right in front of us. Throughout the concert, he would chat with the crowd, he would call an audible and change the song in the middle. It was clear the band rehearsed a bunch of his songs and he would play an intro and the band would figure it out and dive in. It felt so personal, so fun. As a performer, Stevie still has it. Great voice, smooth upper register. He still has the talent and sounded amazing.

The disappointment I did experience was not hearing every song you love. A format like House full of Toys has a handful of guests making appearances and singing their own songs and Christmas classics alone and with Stevie. Then you throw in the fact that this is Stevie Wonder, who had dozens of hit songs. If they spent all 3 hours playing his best songs they'd maybe be able to work them all in. But what we'd miss is the personal times; interacting with the other artists, smiling and talking with the band, it endears you to this huge artist. It's what you expect out of the quintisential nice guy. As far as the Christmas Music, it put me right in the Holiday mood! I walked into the theater, not celebrating the season yet and left with a Christmas skip in my step. When Stevie started to perform Ave Maria, my friend turned to me and said "Wait until you hear this." She was right, I got teary. It was the highlight of the Christmas portion. As for the Stevie Wonder classics, I'd have to say Supersticious was my favorite song he played. I was clapping my hands and dancing (as much as I can) with joy. It was SO fun and really gave me the joy. I think the only way to reiterate how great of a concert it was and how much fun I had is the fact that I was shaking my groove thing. Enough Said. When it comes to amazing artists I've wanted to see live for the last 20 years...two down, one to go.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Random: Don't mess with a stage manager

A recent Austrian production of Friedrich Schiller’s Mary Stuart featured a surprise ending: The prop knife for the final scene, in which a character stabs himself in the neck, was replaced with a real one. The audience applauded what it presumed to be a special effect as blood spurted from actor Daniel Hoevels’ neck. Only when Hoevels was lying prone during the ovation did the audience realize something was wrong. The knife was purchased at a local store and still had a price tag on it. Hoevels survived, and appeared on stage with a bandage on his neck the next night. No arrests have been made.


I am glad in improv, our props are invisible.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Random: Arianna Huffington

Just watching The Daily Show and Arianna Huffington is the guest and talking about blogging. Now I don't loathe this woman because "the right" tells me how to feel. I've got to say though, when she goes on the show to talk about a book on blogging with her name on it. She said she wrote the forward and actually read it. When she said she read it, she made it sound like that was an accomplishment. She went on to say that she thinks people who have recently lost their jobs in this economic downturn should start blogging. They have time on their hands and they should be freed up to blog.

From one blogger to another, let me say this....Arianna, that is ridiculous. You shouldn't say everything you think.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Blog: Vampires are interesting

Now, I am a manly man, but I would probably be up for getting a piggy back ride on the back of a vampire if we we're going to fly around the trees. Also, if he promised to not kill me.

"Vampire books, aren't we past that?" These were my initial thoughts when I first read about Stephenie Myers' books in Entertainment Weekly. They generated a lot of attention among teens and when I saw the cover I realized that I'd seen many people I know reading these books. I still haven't finished the Harry Potter books, so I am not about to get into another series. The phenomenon faded into the distance and then, a few weeks before the release there was a huge buzz about this little movie and people waiting in line days before to see it. The weekend of release, I didn't want to be near a theater but that next week I caught the movie with a friend.

Sure, I had ulterior motives to see it. (Working with teens, I want to know what is in their world.) But, I have to confess, I was interested in seeing this film even without considering it a write off. Besides the 30's classic Bela Lugosi, Vampire films are a disappointment. Even a film with two great actors like Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt was lame, so how will a film with no-name teen stars do better? Well the real difference is story. I found this movie to be interesting because its really a love story in a setting of vampires and teen age angst. I felt like I got the answers I wanted when it came to the mythology, but still felt focused on the connection of the lead characters. It had funny moments that made me laugh out loud in the theater even if they didn't mean for them to be funny. (Like, when I realized the vampires 'father' was in Can't Hardly Wait playing a teenager just a decade earlier.

I didn't find the story predictable and overall, give the movie a B- or C+. It felt a little bit too much like an Episode of One Tree Hill, or any other teen drama on the CW when it came to the look of the movie. Hopefully they will spend the money on production, now that they know they will make the money. It had the worst cameo ever from the author. Seriously, it was really bad. It made M. Night Shyamalan's lame appearances in his films look subtle. I felt the tension throughout the film and knew I was being set up for sequels, but I didn't mind that. Now, call me a logical romantic but I did have a slight problem with the whole fall in love with someone who is a human-killing monster. Don't get me wrong, I love a good love story, but love someone that drinks blood?!?

Don't get me wrong, I suspended both belief and logic to be entertained, and I was. I'd encourage you to give this movie a shot, if it sounds remotely interesting. If you loathe these kinds of teen movies, then save the money. Now, will I be rushing out to the theater to catch the next installment? No. But I will definitely look forward to seeing where the story goes, without having to read. With three more books that are sure to be made into movies, it's clear that Vampires are not just a thing of the past, but will certainly be a part of the future.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Blog: I missed you too

lame picture representing my emotions

awesome song representing my emotions

Friends and Readers:

It has been a crazy few months and I have neglected my blog. For that I apologize and let me assure you that I am not giving up on this blogging thing. I have appreciated the emails asking where I've been. I have a new job as a youth pastor and I've been spending most of my free time dreaming and scheming. It's been a very fun and very busy 2 months. I got on a plane, went to Egypt for 2 weeks. Then I finished stuff up at my old job doing video editing stuff by working like mad for 2 weeks on a documentary. THEN I moved and started a new job. Well this last week I got out of boxes and so I guess that's the indication that it is time to blog again.

I had a great birthday, a great thanksgiving and some fun times with friends. I have formulated plenty of opinions and well thoughts that I'd like to blab on about. I am thankful that you read me blab. If you are stalking me, I am sure you especially happy to read what I've been up to.



Random: advantage to a failing economy

Monday, November 24, 2008

Random: Best Video Ever.

It may be evil that this brought me so much joy.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Election Countdown: Jon Stewart with the future president

Whether you like Obama or not, you better get use to calling him Mr. President because it is more than likely he's going to win. (Look at an Electoral Map, it's almost inevitable at this point.) Here's a funny interview with him and Jon Stewart.

"Did he just sell me a sham-wow?"

Jon Stewart is the best.

Obama looks much older than he did a year ago, then again, so do I. Therefore, maybe I could be president. TRENT 2012!

oh, wait, the constitution... TRENT 2016!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Election Countdown
W is as disappointing as the administration it depicts.

That hair doesn’t just happen, it takes our tax dollars to make it look that good.

I got a chance to see W last week and I have to say, it was not as good as it could have been. Now the timing of its release is clearly deliberate, depicting a failing administration right before America chooses a new one. I’ve heard some pundits crying foul, but give me a break. All this does is give them more opportunities to yell “liberal Hollywood”, so everyone wins.

In my opinion, it was this rush to get the film done before the election that actually hurt it. When I watch other historical movies, there is usually a couple decades between the event and the film. This time allows our memories to be more forgiving. When you watch a film about events from current headlines, when the real people are fresh in your mind, it taints the viewing. It felt like I was watching a Saturday Night Live sketch when Colin Powell and Dick Chenney were portrayed by well-known actors. The portrayal of Bush felt as over the top at times as a performance from Will Ferrel.

The story was interesting but didn’t sustain the entire length of the film. I get that they’re saying George is lazy and has daddy issues, but that was where it stopped. Its big reveal was that George Bush went out of his way to try and create a need to attack Iraq. WOW, really, that is shocking. I’ve been hearing that in the news for months. There was nothing fresh about the performances or the story.

Toward the end, I was so bored that I actually fell asleep. Now, I haven’t fallen asleep in the theater since I use to see 11:30 screenings in college. I was disappointed and wish that Oliver Stone had taken the time to let some time pass between the film and the administration. It would also allow him to rework the script and work with the actors. I say wait till its out on DVD and see what you think then. At that point we will have a new president and be able to laugh a little more at this little film.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Election Countdown: Sarah McCain Palin Ciptak



ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. -- A new father has secretly named his baby girl Sarah McCain Palin after the Republican ticket for president and vice president.

Mark Ciptak of Elizabethton put that name on the documents for the girl's birth certificate, ignoring the name Ava Grace, which he and his wife had picked earlier.

"I don't think she believes me yet," he told the Kingsport Times-News for a story to be published Tuesday. "It's going to take some more convincing."

Ciptak, a blood bank employee for the American Red Cross, said he named his third child after John McCain and Sarah Palin to "to get the word out" about the campaign.

"I took one for the cause," he said. "I can't give a lot of financial support for the (McCain/Palin) campaign. I do have a sign up in my yard, but I can do very little."

My Thoughts

Just when you think celebrities have the market cornered on stupid baby names, someone does this. This is ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous. This guy went against his wife’s wishes to “get the word out.” What does this guy think, people didn’t know the names of the candidates? I can only imagine how ticked off Mrs. Ciptak is! She just goes through the trauma of birthing a child and then learns her husband does this. It is things like this that make me sad about America.

I am not smart, but I am not this stupid. I hope he likes the couch, because I have a feeling he’ll be sleeping on it for quite some time.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Random: Dangerous Tampering

It's hard to imagine this song or video being improved upon, but it happened.

Random: A Good Point

Monday, October 20, 2008

Egypt: Home

I'm back home, doing Laundry and will be back to regular postings in the next few days. Thanks to everyone that read along and posted comments.


Saturday, October 18, 2008

Egypt: coming home

Almost there.
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Egypt: mummy

Enough said.
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Egypt: hole in the wall

We are driving in the middle of nowhere and our guide has the driver pull off the road. We then eat with bedoins (sp) in some tents. I had small bird and sandy rice.
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Egypt: traffic

Los Angeles traffic vs. Cairo traffic, Cairo wins by a landslide.
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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Egypt: Vodafone ruined it

So, blogs are down for now because the phone stopped working. This is a bummer, but just a heads up. love to all.


Sunday, October 12, 2008

Egypt: Ain't nothin but a Coptic party...

Visited the church that is on the site of the first place the message of Jesus was preached. Tradition says it was brought by the disciple Mark in 61 AD. In my experience they are usually right in their build s church right on the spot tactic, so it was pretty amazing to be at that spot. While liturgy isn't my cup of tea, I can respect it and it was pretty beautiful.

Coptic church is like Greek orthodox for Africa. They claim to have the head of Mark in the basement. I'm not sure I buy that but it was still pretty cool to honor him and his message coming to Africa. Awesome.
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Egypt: all the same

Went to a starbucks in Alexandria and it was a tasty treat. I got an iced venti white mocha. Dana kept trying to mess with me and force the iced drink but that's what I wanted. The joke is you shouldn't do ice. For whatever reason my intuition was right on and no repercussions.

Inside felt just like I was in Burbank. It was a trippy. Hooray for globalization!!!
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Saturday, October 11, 2008

Egypt: waves 1

So we visit the palace grounds of king something-or-other. Very beautiful, a fancy hotel where US President Carter met with Israeli and Egyptian officials in the first peace meetings.

The view is beautiful and the waves crash right on the walkway.
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Egypt: waves 2

Bryant was the brave one that decided to go into the splash zone. I've known Bryant since he was in Jr. High and he still makes me laugh. He's matured a ton but is still willing to go a little nuts.
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Egypt: waves 3

Bryant gets attacked by a local fisherman. "you want some water, I'll give you some water!"

(It was clear he was joking.)
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Egypt: education

So I get back in the room and I turn on the TV and a show called doctors is on. Its a Dr Phil style show with medical professionals giving advice and telling stories.

In 5 minutes I learned how to deliver a baby if I needed to. Right now they're showing a new face lift miracle. I know this doesn't have anything directly to do with Egypt but it taught me a few things about lady parts while reminding me why many in the Muslim world hate Americans.

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Egypt: toll roads

I've said for some time that we need toll roads in LA. I now would say they need to be themed like this.

Wouldn't you be a little happier to pay the toll if it felt like it was going to Pharaoh, I know I would!
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Friday, October 10, 2008

Egypt: Hookah

Bryan is enjoying the culture and looking like a bafoon. Alexandria is a city that never sleeps, my kind of city.
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Egypt: ladies night

Dana and I walking the streets of Alexandria while Kyle shops for "jewels" for his family. We decided that Dana looks way more Egyptian than me.
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Egypt: Friday Night

Friday night in Alexandria, let's get McDonalds. Ain't no party like a Mickey D's party cause a Mickey D's party don't stop! Oh and cause its safe. (no poopies) It adds to my BigMac abroad program. Germany, France, Israel, Egypt.
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Egypt: Seinfeld Education

I am trying to learn Arabic by watching Seinfeld. I think I can spell "Kramer" in Arabic. Go me.

Doesn't my pasty leg look more Egyptian than usual?
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Egypt: Goals

Today I will try not to hit the head Muslim sheik of Alexandria with my enormous backpack...again.
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Egypt: Breakfast of Champions

I like a good hotel breakfast and the food at my hotel is pretty yummy. I've learned to eat a full meal in the morning because the next one may not be coming till night. At first I felt a little awkward being a big goofy American. Then this tiny woman in a burkah (spelling) put me to shame at the roll table.

So many bread options, I don't think Atkins was ever a craze out here.
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Thursday, October 9, 2008

Egypt: Fresno

Either grab a taxi or charm your way on to a tour bus. "oh your from Fresno? We're from LA, wanna give us a ride?" Boom. Sweet air conditioning.
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Egypt: prayer at the mall

Spent the day at the library in Alexandria and met the princess of Quatar! Just ate at the mall. Its the fish and meat place just past the prayer station. Good food, just don't ask questions.
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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Egypt: view

So I landed in Cairo. Drove to Alexandria and staying in an amazing resort. Press conference tonight with Al gaziera (spelling). Met Dana and Bryant today so its good to be with friends. All is well!
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Monday, October 6, 2008


I am gone on a work trip for 2 weeks. I am planning on some fancy blogs while in country, but you never know on these trips if you will have a place to shower, let alone internet.

I will be blogtastic for sure when I get back. Thanks for checking up on the blog in the mean time!


Friday, October 3, 2008

Ghost Town was not what I expected from Gervais

I would go to the Dentist way more if it were Ricky Gervais.

It’s always been very hip and trendy to be a fan of British Comedies. I have tried to avoid making such attempts at vanity. Therefore I haven’t really loved a comedy from England since Monty Python. Then a few years ago I was told that I needed to watch this show called “The Office”. Within a few minutes, I had fallen in love. Anyone that reads this blog is aware that I am referring to the original version from the creator and star Ricky Gervais.

His follow up to the two seasons of “The Office” was two seasons of “Extras”, a show about an actor trying to make it and doing extra work to put food on the table. It is equally funny and convinced me that there was something great about Gervais. From what I had seen in interviews, he was not enchanted with Hollywood and saw himself as a writer. He refused to go the route of Dane Cook. (“Employee of the Month”, “Good Luck Chuck”) He wanted to write projects and make the formula instead of forcing himself into roles that only fit his name.

I was surprised when I heard he was staring in “Ghost Town”. This film has some great elements like Greg Kinnear, Tea Leoni, and writer turned director David Koepp. Koepp is Steven Spielberg’s go to writer, whose credits include Jurassic Park, Spider-Man & the latest Indiana Jones. Unfortunately, no one reaches their full potential in “Ghost Town”. It was fairly simple, predictable and uneventful. Kinnear never really had a shinning moment. Leoni was fun to watch and made me wonder why she doesn’t make more movies, she’s so likeable.

Gervais was certainly the right fit for the movie, playing a snooty dentist. But with the bar so high, I don’t think the movie was the right fit for Gervais. It felt like he had a few moments to just be him and the rest of the movie was just filled with predictable dialogue that moved the story along. Gervais did fine in this part but it did take him off the pedestal I’d put him on. As for a recommendation, I would wait for the DVD and rent it if you’re at the Redbox and there isn’t anything else that you and your significant other can agree on. You will get a chuckle or two but won’t be blown away as if you were watching one of Gervais’ own creations.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Coen Brothers don’t hit a home run,
but they get on base.

If I worked at a gym, I would probably get involved in some crazy spy stuff too.

Coen brothers, John Malkovich, Brad Pitt, Francis McDermont, George Clooney; all these people could build a fair amount of hype. Luckily I had tempered my expectations and walked into the theater, not expecting to be wowed, but hoping to enjoy myself. I was pleased with what I got out of “Burn After Reading”. It was quirky, it was a morality tale, it was what one should expect from this kind of Coen Brother’s film.

I enjoyed watching characters that seemed outlandish and believable at the same time. Clooney is right in his zone when he takes on these roles and this was no exception. Malkovich was just angry the whole time which was undoubtedly fun to watch but didn’t wow me. Francis McDormand had hints of her character from Fargo in this film. Her motivation was to get multiple plastic surgeries to look slightly better. That would usually be obnoxious but as a credit to her talent, it came across endearing in this film.

Brad Pitt stole the show for me, my only disappointment was that he hasn’t been in more of the Coen Brother’s films. He is underrated as a comedic actor, even his guest spots on friends make me laugh just thinking about it. No one doubts his ability to pull of the occasional laugh but this movie showed his range. Just watching him process his harebrained idea made me want to rewind in the theater.

Now as a whole this movie wasn’t fabulous. I find with Coen Brother’s films, the first viewing doesn’t do it justice, they grow on you. Case and point, the first time I saw Lebowski I thought it was kind of funny. So, I will give it another shot on DVD. It felt like it dragged at times but with that when we got to the conclusion I was just plain happy. It was definitely fulfilling for me. So if you are a fan of Joel and Ethan, then catch this in the theater while you can. If not, then its worth going with friends or seeing it at home in a few months. The later category won’t love it, but I think they’ll be entertained. And that’s the idea, right? Not everything has to be “No Country for Old Men 2- Electric Boogaloo”

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Random: Perspective

700 billion dollar "bail-out" almost approved.
The US is currently in 10.5 trillion dollars of debt.
The Gross Domestic Product of the US is 14 trillion.

I wasn't going to get Starbucks that day, but after reading about the economy it made me feel a little better about my purchase.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

BTTF 4?!?

VAF- Video Awesome Fridays

Watch the video before reading the blog. This video makes me miss good ol’ music videos.

Remember when you could turn on MTV and actually watch a music video? Well I was reminded of how gloriously bad these videos can be when I came across this gem. I like this little dance song, its got a good groove. And of course, the concept of people checking their coats at the door of a club makes one think of time travel. So it makes perfect sense that this video would establish the artist as the guy running the coat room at a club who bumps into Doc Brown. They travel into the future and visit the exact same club that looks exactly like the present day. Only difference is O’neal McKnight (great name, I know) is going to get the girl this time.

This video clearly doesn’t make any sense, then again, how much sense does the classic “Thriller” make? It makes me laugh, makes me want to let the music get inside me and dance the night away, makes me want to travel through time. IT’S ON! And by “It’s on” I mean that I will just continue to dance alone in my room when getting ready in the morning, I will not travel time but just watch the Back to the future Trilogy.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Random: ideas

My birthday is in less than 2 months. Just something to consider.

Video Music Awards were HORRIBLE!!!

This little british fellow contributed the horribleness.

Most of the time I try and make my titles clever and coy, but I had to go completely blunt in this case. I am not a fan of most award shows. Besides the Oscars (which, to quote my friend Emily “is my superbowl”), I find them boring and uneventful. I usually save myself the time and just look up the list of winners online. There was something intriguing about the Video Music Awards this year. I was talking with some friends out in front of the theater the other night and commented that the VMAs were in Los Angeles this year. I was wondering what arena they would be held in, and a friend said “down the street on the Paramount Lot.”

I thought that was interesting and did some research online, turns out they’d be doing the show “all over the famous Paramount Studios Lot”, taking on a Hollywood theme. It sounded kind of cool and while I wasn’t usually tuning into these things, I’d throw this one on the TiVo. Well, I now feel the need to apologize to my TiVo for subjecting it to this horrible few hours of television.

When they showed the main room, it felt like an awkward gymnasium with people in folding chairs and bleachers in the back. There was no warmth to the room and the people were not impressed. The host, Russell Brand came out and absolutely bombed the opener. He is a former VJ for the UK MTV who gained some popularity after his role in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”. I later found out he became infamous when he showed up to work as the host of the British TRL on September 12th, 2001 dressed as Osama Bin Laden. MTV fired him for his lack of judgment. Apparently they felt he had learned his lesson and was a great fit as the host of their largest annual event. Now I am willing to forgive people for their mistakes, but it will take a LONG time to forgive him for his horrible performance. It was not just a bad job, it was horrible.

Jamie Foxx was one of the first presenters and came out with energy and tried to pump up the room. Whatever energy he built up, the host quickly deflated. Brand kept returning to a set of “Jonas Brothers are virgins” jokes. It was kind of funny the first time but not something you want to hear 100 times, no matter what your views are on teen promiscuity. And the host was leading into nothing of value. The performances were trying harder to be different than they were good. The acceptance speeches had the same “who cares” sentiment that I have when I get a notice on Facebook that the “compare my friends” application has determined I am the most “tech savy”. Britney Spears had a stump speech and simply repeated it, as if her manager had given her strict guidelines while sitting in the audience with her.

It was like every choice was a poor one. Even the stage was lame and lacked common sense. (Don’t put mirrors on the back wall, we can see the camera crew and the teleprompter.) Pete Wentz from Panic at the Disco came across like a frustrated cheerleader at Valium High School every time he tried to pump up the crowd while re-explaining how to text our votes. The room felt dead, the songs felt fake, I just couldn’t finish the show and angrily deleted the show. The only thing that was slightly redeeming was the DJ AM and Travis Barker House Band routine. It was great to see a drummer jam with a DJ, very cool sound and just in line with some of the mash-ups that I’ve been listening to lately. Still, not worth watching an entire show for those 45-second lead-ins after a commercial break.

The theme and prospect of something fresh and new got me to tune in this year. What was delivered was a misfire on every level. It’s going to take something big to bring me back to the VMA’s, because this years show was downright HORRIBLE.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Random: When there is a will...

...there is a way! This dog is legit, and deserves his freedom.

I think we have a theme's dog video fridays.

(kudos to dustin for showing me this video.)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I am proud to be a human.

The Birds Nest in Beijing is spectacular. I’ve seen American Birds Nests in the US and clearly China is winning when it comes to avian houses.

During the opening weekend of football I felt like something was missing. I know that for some friends, this weekend is the best. They track their fantasy football teams, cheer for their favorite team, avoid human contact all Sunday afternoon while they watch every available second. I am not a football fan. I will watch a game and engage with my friends but it’s about friendship, not the sport. Seeing their zeal for football reminded me of how much I miss the Olympics.

I like the idea of nations coming together to engage in sports and represent their countries. I liked the challenge and the fact that these are the worlds best. This years Olympics were different though. It was as if the spectacular opening ceremonies grabbed everyone’s attention and said “tune in, this is going to be awesome.” The ratings show that people did tune in. For those 2 weeks, we had a nice break from the political garbage that’s been filling the airwaves. Each day the talk around the water cooler at work was about the events of the night before. There was a positive vibe and it made me feel united with my friends. I did miss my old roommate Josh sitting on the couch arguing with the gymnastic judges; “Eight point seven…she stuck it!” Mind you he’s never done gymnastics and yet is questioning a judge that’s devoted their life to the sport, but our feeling of empowerment is one of the great things about the Olympics.

Clearly the Chinese officials got what they wanted. I heard some staggering figures about the money they invested in the cities infrastructure to ensure a seamless experience and the training to ensure as many gold medals as possible. All of the negative press about human rights violations and horrible smog seemed to fade away. Every time I saw a helicopter shot before a commercial break the streets were empty in this giant metropolis. It was clear that a communist memo went out to say, no driving in the city for 2 weeks. Imagine how that memo would be received in the US. Hopefully we will see in Chicago, 2016. But as for 2008, it was a polished and nearly perfect presentation.

The Chinese spent 44 billion dollars on these games. There were great moments like the opening ceremonies that made this investment clear. The opening ceremonies in Athens 4 years early set a record with $28 million in costs, Beijing shattered that by spending $300 million on theirs. When you saw the 15,000 people performing it became obvious why it was so expensive. With all that investment it seemed like they could have at least coordinated some seat fillers. I understand there are dozens of events at one time, but you’re a communist nation with huge pockets and over a billion people… why can’t you coordinate the effort to make sure there are always packed housed?

Even with these petty imperfections it was still a great set of games. A month later I do miss them and hope that London has the same excitement…In the mean time, it’s back to hearing about football. I will end this blog with a recollection of a few memorable Olympic moments.

Moment that ticked me off.

I have to share a negative, because this really ticked me off. While becoming the fastest man in the world, he decided to slow down and showboat for the last 20 meters. Sure he beat the record, but he could have destroyed it. Instead he slows down and raises his hands in the air. Then he comes across like an arrogant teenager during his victory lap. I wanted some class, but unfortunately talent and tact aren’t always present in the same person.

Moment that broke my heart.

Ok, Lolo Jones was the odds on favorite for the 100 meter hurdles. She’d trained her whole life and took off with a clear lead. As the race was clearly hers, her foot clipped the 2nd to last hurdle. She finished the race second to last and immediately hit the ground after the finish line. Staring up to the sky she was overwhelmed with disappointment, she just seemed shocked.

Then she had the class to go over and do a post race interview. She was pleasant and congratulated the teammate that won. She said, “I run that race every day and hit two hurdles a year. I just happened to hit a hurdle on the biggest race of my life.” This broke my heart and apparently broke hers. She walked off to the tunnel and when she thought she was out of sight, she leaned against the wall and just sobbed. I was teary watching this athlete break down. Its still very memorable and in a sad way, a highlight.

Thanks for reading my super long post, I had to write a long enough blog to keep your Olympic blog needs for the next 4 years!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Random: Halloween Costume

See more funny videos at Funny or Die

Ok, I can't stand people dressing their animals. This video is proof that I am not alone in my opinion. Both dogs are trying to kill their owner with their eyes.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


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I remember…
- awaking to immediately hear that America was under attack.
- seeing the images of the planes hitting the towers over and over.
- the people running in the streets with ash filling the sky.
- crying.
- being sure another plane would hit another building any minute.
- feeling fear, anger and patriotism all at once .
- understanding why hundreds of thousands of young men enlisted in the weeks following Pearl Harbor.
- knowing the world would be different from that day on.
- going to work that night to an empty restaurant, wondering if a year later I’d have been drafted and serving in the Army.
- wanting to have an enemy to focus on, but not knowing what nation to blame.
- thinking I’d never forget this day.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Sequel isn’t as good as the original!

That’s Elisabeth Shue playing the role of Elisabeth Shue.

This movie sounds like it will have what you want in an indie comedy. From the Sundance buzz to the producers having a track record that includes “Little Miss Sunshine”. This is the quirky story of a bad actor writing a bad play and having a group lacking talent to perform the musical that reaches too far. The opportunity to revisit “Waiting for Guffman” territory excited me. As a former drama nerd, I get excited about this story as it reminds me of my days of yore. But unlike “Waiting for Guffman”, this didn’t have me laughing the whole way through, in fact my laughter was sporadic and just based on the quirky moments.

The characters weren’t memorable, to the point where a week after seeing the films, I can barely remember the arch types let alone the funny moments. Hamlet 2 kept building to a final scene when the musical is finally performed. With the first 80 minutes being filled with boredom, the play wasn’t able to carry the rest of the film. This one is skip-able in the theaters and not necessarily worth the spot in your queue. If you can’t resist, it won’t be a complete waste of time, but it will leave you unsatisfied. Of course I could be wrong, you may love it and therefore have no taste. The way I see it these are the only two options.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Random: Math & Statistics are never wrong

note to self: hang out with more crazy peeps and find your self statistically more likely to be sane.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Definitely a Disaster!!!

Just because I really liked Juno & Enchanted, doesn’t mean I am defensively hating this movie. It is horrible on its own merit.

Maybe you saw this post and realized it was for Disaster Movie and thought to yourself "wow, Trent saw this." If you said this out loud and I was in the room, I would yell "clearly, you don't know me" and slap your face. When I saw the previews for this train wreck of a movie on TV, I literally gasped. How is this happening?!? How are these movies still being made? So, I did some investigating. (10 minutes of Google searches qualifies as an investigation, right?) The last film, Epic Movie made $40 million domestically and even more in the international box office. This current trend started with Scary Movie, which I was okay with. But the idea that these movies started making more money as time went on is shocking. Was there more that needed to be said? Did the characters have multiple story arcs like Michael Corleone Godfather?

This is the kind of trash that Kim Kardashian’s agent dreams of and uses as a vehicle to further her career as a celebrity. (She’s “famous for being famous.”) These movies are made for economic reasons, which means in a capitalist society, the consumer has the power. Yet half a million people went this last weekend to see it. They make easy and lame jokes that are so very topical. This movie should not even be a direct to DVD release, it should be released directly into the $3 bin at Wal-Mart. If you want to watch lame pop culture references in not very funny segments, turn on SNL!

If you see this movie, you are hurting America…please stop hurting America!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Random: food for the soul?

Today in starbucks they were setting up the fall promotional art. Signage, mugs, even new bags of beans. They transform the store to fit the season. This year they are promoting a new oatmeal. Now I like there products as much as the next guy, but this add was a bit much. Starbucks is now claiming to have food and drinks that nourish your SOUL!!! I'm sure it tastes good but this claim is far too lofty and downright ridiculous. Things that can impact your soul: books, music, God, relationships...not a mocha.

Come on Starbucks, you're better than this.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Random: happy but sad.

I pull into the station on Labor day weekend and say "Yes, $3.83!!"

Then I think how sad it is that this makes me happy. Gas cost $1.61 a
gallon when Bush took office. I can't wait for alternative fuels to
become the norm. Like hydrogen, or trash, or re blood of Unicorns.
Anything but expensive oil!!!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Random: Lost & Found Lion

watch video before reading post

This is a shorter version of a documentary I heard about from the 70’s. Apparently it’s a true story and pretty cool. While the music induces a horrible flashback of the early 90’s and the end titles are uber-cheesy its pretty cool. The whole time I was expecting the animal to rip someone’s head off. While that would have been my ending of choice this one will do. I guess its cause I like lions and Brits.

I am not encouraging you to actually track down old pets, old friends, or old girlfriends/boyfriends. Both are dangerous, not what you remember, and better left a memory. Don’t blame my blog if you make a dumb choice. This story was turned into a documentary because it’s the exception, not the rule.

I am off to check Craigslist for any Jaguars that are up for adoption.

Friday, August 29, 2008

50 years of an Amazing Talent...
25 years of getting progressively weirder.

This is a computer generated image of what Michael Jackson would look like today without any cosmetic surgery... then again, he’s said explicitly he hasn’t had any cosmetic surgery so these wacky computers must be wrong.

Michael Jackson turns 50. The story goes that his father had him playing tambourine for the Jackson 5 until he started singing back up and clearly blew his brother out of the water (Poor Jermaine.) Michael was a lead singer at 9, had an abusive father long before that, and remained in the public eye long after that. Jackson is ridiculously talented and his eccentric side has always been present along with his talent.

I have a general rule; just because something goes out of style doesn’t mean it goes out of my favor. Michael Jackson was my favorite artist as a kid. I was raised in a time when Bad was an edgy record, when you watched the making of thriller every time it was on TV, when Jackson truly was the “king of pop”. His music is infectious, when I was a senior in high school and his music was “out of style”, I would pull into the student parking lot blasting any number of his hits. People would turn down their Tupac to listen to his hits.

I stood by him when accusations started to come out in the early 90’s. I just figured people were out to extort an eccentric guy. Then almost a decade later he does an interview with Martin Bashir, a shady British journalist. Bashir certainly twisted Jackson’s words to make him look really horrible. With that said, he did say some things that weren’t normal. I remember watching the interview with a bunch of guys at the time. My friend Dana and I, super-fans, defended him the whole way through. Then when everybody left the room we turned to each other and said this didn’t look good.

The guy clearly has issues, and definitely hasn’t used good judgment. Sharing a bed with children that aren’t yours, after being accused of shadiness, not smart. Calling it “Magical” while trying to justify it to a tabloid reporter, not smart at all. I don’t know if Michael did anything more than what he admits. What I do know is the guy is a damaged man with an unprecedented talent. It’s disappointing too, imagine if he was balanced and still making great records. Imagine if he wasn’t spending every dime he had on lame crap in overpriced boutiques in Vegas, but managing his Beatles Rights and investing in other artists…sad, I know.

You know what, I am not going to mourn the mistakes of Michael or focus on what could have been. Instead I am going to listen to his music throughout the weekend, pull up to different places blasting his hits. I am going to watch the making of thriller on you tube. Let’s celebrate a great musician that changed pop music and transformed a remote planet with a gift that you can’t see…but hear. Oh, glorious Captain Eo, I’m also going to watch that in celebration of this happy day.

We can’t change the past, but “we are here to change the world!”

Happy Birthday Michael.

I've shown this before but couldn't resist to show it again. A past birthday, click here and scroll to the bottom. Michael accepted his cake as an award.

Michael Jackson accepted the “Artist of the Millennium” award, when in reality all he was being presented with is a birthday cake. Enjoy this awkward moment. (note: watch the start and not the No Doubt acceptance speech. The only reason that is in the clip is because Michael is still on the stage.)

Tropic Thunder is exactly what was forecast.

You may remember the kid on the left in the glasses as a loser friend from knocked up, but I remember him from Almost Famous as the Led Zeppelin superfan kid.

I wasn’t going to blog about this movie because my opinion on it was simple… If you like Ben Stiller movies, and you laughed at the trailer, then you will like this movie. If you loathe Ben Stiller and think the trailer is stupid, then you will hate it. This movie is simple, kind of like Zoolander, except I liked Zoolander more. I laughed, don’t get me wrong, but it was like eating Cheerios. No one eats a bowl of Cheerios and raves that it was amazing, you just are happy to have a tasty breakfast. (Or Dinner, I won’t limit Cheerios to a single meal)

One surprise was the performance of Tom Cruise. I use to be a huge fan of Cruise, but in the last 3 years since he jumped on Oprah’s couch he’s become more and more repulsive. I walked out of the theater talking more about him than the other funny moments. It was a perfect move by Cruise; not taking himself too seriously. Only time will tell if this is a step in the right direction, or a hiccup in his pursuit of crazy. The other cameos in this movie were great. The actors making fun of the industry was the best part of this little film.

So, why are you writing a blog about this movie then? I decided to write this after reading Entertainment Weekly’s review of the film. Lisa Schwarzbaum gave this film an “A” rating. Really? An “A” for this simple little movie? Movies like Juno and No Country for Old Men didn’t earn that high of a rating according to Schwarzbaum. Is this lady just giving A’s away? My friend Danny, a high school teacher, use to lament students expectation of earning A’s because that was like a pass. Just because parents and colleges expect A’s doesn’t mean Danny would give them out for a performance that was par for the course. “C” means you hit the marks and did what was expected.

I try and rate things with that same integrity. I am calling Schwarzbaum’s ‘integrity’ into question here. I think she got it just plain wrong. Most of the time I agree with EW, but they got it wrong here. It’d be generous to give it a “B”, it was not excellent, it was Cheerios.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Confessions of a Disney Dork: The Convention

This is Mecca for the obsessed Disney fans.

I am a Disney Dork. It feels good just to be honest and say that. If you’ve known be for a few years, you’ve known about this and known that I am really not ashamed. The way I figure it, we all have quirky things and its better if we just own it rather than justify it. I’ve thought a lot about why I have this and there are some interesting theories about my personality and childhood and all that business. I won’t go into that here.

It became clear a few years ago that I wasn’t alone in this obsession when I attended my first NFFC convention. (NFFC: National Fantasy Fan Club, can’t have Disney in the title because of lawsuits.) My friend Dennis, another Disney Dork took me and Dann to this Mecca as he’s a member of the NFFC. The convention is a week long and has some fancy speakers throughout the week. I’ve only been on Sunday when all the vendors come out and the general public can get in for the low cost of $10. In years past I have dropped some coin and bought some cool stuff. (Well, I think its cool.) This year, in spite of the economy being “fundamentally sound” I didn’t have the cash to spend on trinkets. Instead I decided to go another route and have fun with friends.

Many of the Vendors at these events are a little over the top in their pursuit to sell you things you don’t need. To have fun I began to ask my very simple questions, acting like a novice. “So this thing is about Disney?” “Where can I find the Looney Toons Memorabilia?” I love playing dumb, especially when I really do know a ton of the trivia. Most of the people I encountered early on were so nice, and pounced at the opportunity to educate me. I would ask questions, trying to get Dann or Dennis to crack up. I never let on to the people that it was a joke. They all went home with a spring in their step that they got to educate a rookie.

I may be an uber-fan but I’ve never understood the appeal of pin trading. People have thousands of pins and are very territorial. I would offer $20 for all of them and they would scoff at me. Believe it or not my offer was genuine because that’s really what all of that stuff is worth to me. I was getting a little bit annoyed with some of the pin vendors and other people I was encountering later in the day. Their condescending tone was a little too much like the Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons; just out to make a buck and hoping make others feel stupid in the process.

When my frustration started to take over I spotted James & Kim. This was like the exact opposite of the annoying vendor. They are sweet and genuinely love them some Disney. They’ve spent the last 9 years working on an exact replica of Nature’s Wonderland Railroad. That is a ride that was replaced by Big Thunder Mountain in Frontier Land. They are not done, but still chugging away on their endeavor. I’d heard the stories of them recalling the hours they’ve spent building the ‘battling elk’ to the exact specifications according to pictures and even some schematics.

I would never spend that many hours on a project like that and can laugh at the minutia, but I have to be realistic. I’ve spent countless days in the parks, hundreds of hours reading books, and thousands of dollars on an annual pass for the last 14 years. Jim & Kim crack me up in an endearing way. They finish each other’s sentences and clearly love what they do. We all have our obsessions, some are more socially accepted than others but it doesn’t change the fact that we all geek-out. So next time you see someone that’s a little ‘dorky’ realize that it is just a passion that isn’t socially accepted. I dare you to engage them and ask them about what they love. It’s fun to be around passionate people, even if it’s just a passion about a ride that closed 31 years ago.

See you next year, Disney Dorks!

Some pictures from the event…

(left to right) Jim, Kim & Trent

This is one of the three rooms that house the vendors, selling anything and everything Disney.

they sell everything from Disneyland Hotel Hangers (over the top, I know.)

to some cool collectibles like the telephone from Walt’s apartment. (cheesy to a mere mortal, but I think its rad.)

All these items are sold by these hipsters. (This couple cracked me up and deserved a photo.) These people empty their garage and come out once a year to fill your garage with stuff you don’t need.

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