Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Favorites of Favorites

I was trying to think of my favorite episode of my favorite TV show, and I couldn’t even decide what my favorite show was, much less my favorite episode. It has occurred to me that I like too many things. I can’t help it; I am constantly finding myself liking pretty much anything and everything. Food, movies, activities, music – I can usually enjoy whatever’s in front of me.

Except bananas. Super gross, people. Get over yourselves.

Here is a list of shows I like, with a little bit about my favorite episode(s) from each one.

FRIENDSFile:Friends logo.svg
Friends is a great show. I think a lot of people who don’t like Friends (or worse, nothing Friends) probably didn’t spend a large portion of their childhood watching it. We had the whole set on DVD, and I may have spent a Winter break or two marathoning it.

My all-time favorite episode of Friends has to be the one with Pheobe’s wedding. When I was a kid, I thought it was awesome. They got married outside! In the snow! And there were steel drums, which I was kind of obsessed with for a while. Besides, Paul Rudd plays one of the best recurring characters on the show – Crap Bag.

SCRUBSFile:ScrubsLogo.jpg
I was big into Scrubs for a while, but it kind of became a poster boy for shows that gasp on long after their expiration date – even though the last season was pretty great (but let’s be honest, it was a different show).

I have a tie for what were, I think, the best moments in Scrubs – the episode(s) dealing with Brendan Frasier’s character dying, and the episodes dealing with Dr. Cox losing several patients to Rabies-infested organ transplants. Scrubs was such a campy show much of the time, so the serious or sad episodes really stood out and allowed those characters to show emotions not often seen from that style of comedy.

MR. SHOWMrshow logo.gif
I will admit, I have not seen all or much of Mr. Show. But I have seen a few episodes, and my hands-down favorite is still the first one I ever saw – Season 1, Episode 2. Bits of it can drag – but I think you get that with most sketch shows. This episode is my favorite because it contains most of my favorite Mr. Show moments – Senator Tankerbell, “The Joke” musical, and that last Pit-Pat commercial is great. All it needs is F.F. Woodycooks!

PARKS AND RECREATIONParks and Recreation Logo
It is extremely difficult to choose my favorite Parks & Rec episode – partly because the storylines often last for several episodes, but mostly because the show is so great that specific moments don’t often stand out as being greater than any others. 

But I think I would pick Season 3, Episode 16 – Lil’ Sebastian. An overall excellent episode, it’s nudged over the line by this amazing song. Listen to it. Get it stuck in your head.

(If anything, watch this clip of the cast singing the song just to see Gjlarry Gergich and April Ludgate totes making out.)

COMMUNITYCommunity title.jpg
First, Community was a great show with an aimless last season. It felt like they didn’t really know what to do with it after the main characters graduated. But they had to graduate sometime right? It was weird.

But there were some seriously excellent single episodes that I enjoyed more than the rest. The season-finale paintball spoofisodes were always a lot of fun. 

My favorite episode, however, is “Digital Estate Planning” – episode 20 from season 3. The cast members are put into a video game to help Pierce earn his inheritance. Or something. Anyway, it was cool.

CUTTHROAT KITCHEN
Okay, this is not the kind of show I’m sure you would expect to find here. Alton Brown’s torture kitchen has a pretty standard format, so there’s not a huge amount of variation (apart from individual sabotages, which are usually pretty great).

But the best episode I’ve seen (and I think I’ve seen almost all of them) was a celebrity chef episode where they played for charity. It was heat three of this “Superstar Sabotage” series that lasted several episodes. This episode in particular is great just because of the final challenge. Eric Greenspan must out-lemon-bar Johnny Luzzini, one of the best pastry chefs in the country.

I don’t want to spoil it, but Eric starts the round with all $25,000. Johnny has $100. You can see how this turns out. Watch it to find out for sure.

THE WALKING DEAD
The Walking Dead is a crazy good show. Based on the Walking Dead comics (which are also crazy good), it follows a group of survivors in a zombie-apocalyptic world.

I won’t go into too much detail, mainly because I don’t want to. There are too many great episodes to choose from, so I will just name my favorite storyline. I love what we see as we follow The Governor, one of the deadliest characters we meet in the show, after his failed first attempt at taking over the prison, our main characters’ stronghold (for a while).

It’s an excellent bit of character development (warning: link contains graphic content from the show) which ultimately ends in more tragedy – deviating as the show often does from the comics, while still fulfilling in some way those major plot points the readers expect from the show.

Side note, the show version of the governor is a much more nuanced and imposing character than the comic version, who didn’t last long at all. The casting choice of the 6’3” David Morrissey to play the role was smart, as his height alone makes him an authority figure. If you don’t watch The Walking Dead or read the comics, none of this will make sense, but maybe it will pique your interest. Great bit of storytelling.

ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT, MODERN FAMILY, PEEP SHOW
These are some of my all-time favorite shows, but I can’t name a favorite episode. The storylines of Arrested Development and Modern Family often span multiple episodes or even seasons, making it impossible for me to pick a favorite. I have favorite moments from certain episodes, but as far as entire episodes go, I just can’t do it. Similarly for Peep Show – which is crammed full of hilarious moments and lines – I can’t pick out one episode that stands above the rest. These shows are just too all-around good for me to choose.

 

So there you have it. Some of the favorites from my favorites. Turned out way longer than I expected, but that’s the way it goes sometimes. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Forgotten Corners

tmarkstheX

I had a music blog for a while. It was a Tumblr. I think I started it as just a way to share specific songs I liked with people, but it turned into kind of a song review project. In my recollection, it did not last long – but apparently it lasted almost exactly two years – from April 2010 to April 2012, after which I just stopped posting.

I probably would have kept it going, but it didn’t get much traction – there are a lot of zero play posts. And to be fair, I wasn’t a very active Tumblr user.

Still, it’s fun to go back and look at what I wrote. There are these forgotten corners – little pockets of the internet where I’ve left my mark. It’s exciting and a little sad to discover them. I had an MSN Live Space for a while, but I think that’s all gone. I wonder if my Myspace is still there, but I have forgotten my username (is Myspace even still a thing?).

It’s probably how I’ll feel in ten years when I find this blog. (Zing.)

Anyway – check it out if you have the inclination. tmarksthemusic.tumblr.com

Monday, February 16, 2015

Going Without

I decided to go a week without mobile games. My phone would be used solely for communication and the internet – yes, I am aware that that still constitutes a huge timesuck, and no I don’t care. It’s my thing I can do what I want.

DAY ONE – 2/15/15

Day one was pretty easy. We were driving pretty much all day (traveling back from WI visiting family). I wrapped up my one loose end – leaving my Clash of Clans clan (Purdue Alumni – Boiler Up!) so my lack of participation wouldn’t harm our war performance – and began my dry week. Not surprisingly, there was not a lot of temptation to use my phone for games during the 8 hours of traveling (Left WI at 11 am Lafayette time, arrived home at 7 pm). We finished up the night with some board games with friends – another welcome distraction from my lack of distraction.

DAY TWO – 2/16/15

Today was a little harder. I did not turn off my app notifications, so my phone was going off every hour or so with a game asking me to come play. Here is a list of the games currently installed on my phone:

  • Clash of Clans
  • Trivia Crack
  • Crossy Road (kind of an updated Frogger)
  • Androminion (Dominion for Android)
  • Spaceteam (needs to be played in a group anyway)
  • Bike Race
  • Chess Time
  • Flappy Bird (the one and only)

I don’t play all of them every day – but I do spend an awful lot of time playing games and not paying attention to what is happening around me. Clash of Clans is especially time consuming. Trivia Crack, Space Team, Bike Race, and Chess Time are at least games played with people I know in real life.

Many of these games are also games I play on my tablet – which is also off limits for the week. So today, I kept myself busy with a haircut, brocery shopping (grocery shopping with your bros) with my son, and a trip to the mall.

DAY THREE – 2/17/15

Had to add the Stumbleupon app to the list of things I’m not allowed to use for the week. If you're not sure what it is, and you like your free time, don't look it up.

DAY FOUR – 2/18/15

Wednesday wasn't too bad. I had after school responsibilities, and then after dinner and some kid time, I went to improv practice - so I didn't have too much down time. Still, I am being bombarded with the game notifications I didn't think to turn off when I started this. Clash of Clans in particular is a bad one. Other games may notify me when it's my turn, or when a game has expired because of my absence - but CoC just keeps saying "Come back! We miss you!" I think we need to see other people, Clash.
 
DAY FIVE - 2/19/15

I had to stay after school again today to coach my math team, so that kept me busy for a little bit. When I got home, I made pork chops with asparagus and cornbread for dinner. It was pretty tasty. I am noticing that, while I am dealing with not playing the games fine (no withdrawals or anything), I’m still using my phone just as much. Facebook, Twitter, email, etc. are all keeping my attention just as much.
 
DAY SIX - 2/20/15

Friday. Friday! I had an improv show at 8 pm (call time at 6), so I didn’t have very much time at home. Spent most of it hanging out with my kid, making dinner, then getting ready to go.
 
DAY SEVEN – 2/21/15

I kept busy on the last day. We took the kid to a swimming lesson in the morning, then I played racquetball with friends around eleven. We cleaned the house a bit, then had friends over for games (more like an interminable round of Monopoly) later in the evening. Again, there was plenty of phone use. Just had to ignore the game notifications.

DAY EIGHT – SUNDAY 2/22/15 – AND FINAL REFLECTIONS

At last, the day came when I could once again… forget about the whole thing and not realize I could play games again until Sunday afternoon. Ah well. I guess it didn’t have that much of an impact.

I learned that I am probably going to use my phone for entertainment whether I can play games or not – this may or may not be a bad thing. I see a lot of people go on technology-free binges, staying off all electronics for an appreciable amount of time to glorious effect. This week was not one of those. But there have been a few repercussions:

  • I am currently locked out of my clan in Clash of Clans. They are set to “closed” status and I have no way of contacting them. So I have no choice but to check in and ping myself against their doors every so often in hopes of getting in.
  • I have lost/forfeited about ten games in trivia crack due to inactivity, making me the laughingstock of my small Facebook friend circle. What a dunce.
  • Crossy HumiliationFriends are passing me up in Crossy Road scores and number of unlocked characters. Again, laughingstock.

Despite the obvious negative outcomes of this experiment, I am actually none the worse for wear. I am noticing a slight freedom, however. I used to check my social games (the three above most often) several times a day – this was spurred on by the almost constant barrage of notifications I would receive from those games, reminding me to play. I could go on about the ramifications this has for society as a whole, but the thought of doing that makes me kind of tired. All I will say is that it’s kind of nice to force the realization that none of those things actually matter. I don’t need to worry about checking my Trivia games before 48 hours pass or I lose the game – because it’s just a game, and I can start a new one. None of it is real.

Thanks for reading! Post over. Now to play some Clash.


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Cats and (Briefly) College

I think I can say I’m a cat person. I’m also a dog person. I don’t discriminate. But this post is about cats. Mostly one, but there are others in there.

When I was in the fifth grade, I asked for a cat for my birthday. (I am pretty sure it was the fifth grade. It could have been the fourth grade. I am almost positive it wasn’t the third or sixth grade.) I got two! Some family friends had just had some kittens in their barn, so we took two of them. We named them Charlotte and Rosie. They were purdy cute.

Charlotte      Rosie
Charlotte.                                                Rosie.

I remember waking up with them curled up on my face, or crammed up against me under the covers. They slept with me when I was sick on the couch. Charlotte used to sit on the back of my dad’s recliner and watch our fish tank (pictured). And then they got fleas.

Cats get fleas. It happens a lot. But it affected Rosie a little differently than it affected Charlotte. She developed a weird skin rash and started licking the fur and skin off her belly. She started laying in the litter box for hours (we think because it felt good on her skin). We finally had to take her to the vet to be put down. It was pretty sad. But to be honest, I was a kid and  she grossed me out. Lurking

We still had Charlotte though! And as a stupid kid, I would alternate between being really nice to her, and tormenting her. She spent a lot of time in the basement, sitting on the rafters in the last room. We would chase her down with pool noodles whenever we wanted to play with her. I think this was around the time she started to become less social. She would scurry across rooms, hurrying from my room upstairs, to her litter box in the basement, to her food in the laundry room. I don’t think she felt comfortable in open spaces – partly I am sure because of us chasing her around, and partly because she was terrified of my dad. I have no idea why. I think he had loud footsteps.

It was around this time – high school – that we brought Charlie into the house. Charlie was basically a stray. One of our neighbor’s many street cats had kittens. She moved the first one to NOPE'Da new place after they were a few weeks old, went back for Charlie, and forgot where she was going. We watched her walk around the backyard – Charlie dangling from her mouth – looking for that other kitten. So my mom decided he would be safer inside with us. (we found a few dead kittens scattered around the yard that summer. She was not a clever cat.)

Well, Charlotte took one look at this tiny yellow kitten, and nope’d right out of there. Hissed right in his face and walked into my bedroom. The thing was, Charlie loved spending time in my room. As he grew (and he grew a lot), he soon dwarfed Charlotte in size. Charlotte weighed about 7 pounds The Hakuna Matata yearsat this time. Charlie grew to about 20. So there were many nights that I was woken up by those two cats freaking out on my bed. Charlie would sleep by my feet and Charlotte would sleep up by my head – and they would often just sit and shriek at each other, then fling themselves around the room. It was super annoying.

But then Charlie became an outside cat – he was, after all, basically a stray, and never really got the hang of a litter box. He never really fit inside all that well. Plus he peed by all the doors all the time. So he went back outside – but he stayed in the yard. He was decidedly ours.

CatpressionWhen I went to college, Charlotte stayed behind. No pets in the dorms. Apparently she just sat on the edge of my bed until I came home, months later. My parents had to move her food, water, and litter box into my room. There was basically a small quilt of cat fur on the foot-end of my bed which marked where she spent her time. She was a sad panda.

 

I started dating Mary early February of my sophomore year at Purdue. The next school year, my mom called me and told me that I should probably take my cat. My apartment at the time didn’t allow pets, but Mary’s did! So Charlotte went to live with Mary and her roommate. She acclimated pretty well to college life, and they were nice enough to keep her litter box in their living room. Or in their apartment at all. It’s not the nicest thing to keep in an apartment, especially in a living room. It’s just a box of poo.

Anyway, after we graduated, I went to live in the apartment above Mary’s parents’ garage for the summer, because we were getting married. Charlotte came with me. We thought we’d lost her while unpacking, but it turns out she had somehow squeezed herself through a 1-inch gap and was hiding underneath the washing machine. She came screaming out the first time I turned it on. We lived in that mini-house together for about three months, until Mary and I Own itlanded our teaching jobs in Lafayette.

So we all moved to Lafayette! We found an apartment right downtown, and Charlotte of course came with us. This time her litter box was right by the front door, but it was a hallway and when the door opened it was kind of behind it – so it was all good. It was a nice apartment, and Charlotte seemed very happy. She was starting to open up – actually coming into the living room when people were around! Though she did tend to keep to the top of the couch.

In the spring of 2010, we decided to buy a house. There was a tax credit up for grabs, and savings be damned! Charlotte came with, and I can honestly say she might be the happiest she’s ever been. For the first few weeks after moving, we’d find her hiding under the covers of our bed – just a small lump in the middle. Slowly, she adjusted to her new surroundings. I was able to pick her up and hold her for an actual amount of time for the first time in my entire life (and hers!). She started sitting on my lap. She started sitting on Mary’s lap. She sat on a friend’s lap last week! She is a changed animal. Maybe she is getting old (17 years is, I suppose, a lot for a cat). Yard Accessory

But if we’re going to talk about cats, we have to talk some more about Charlie. Remember Charlie? The cat we brought in from the mean streets of Clayton, Indiana? Well, a couple of years after buying our house, my parents divorced and sold their house – and the yard went with it. As my mom was living in an apartment that didn’t allow pets, Charlie came to live with us. And we promptly lost him, because we didn’t know how to keep a cat from leaving the yard to find his actual home. Fortunately, I had put a collar on him before leaving him in the yard, and 8 days after he disappeared I received a phone call from someone who lived about 5 blocks away. Charlie was found! And after a night in the garage, he seemed content to stay.

Charlie was with us for a solid two years, during which he came into the house twice. On one of those visits, Charlotte decided to corner him in the bathroom and start a fight. Five pounds vs. twenty. Charlie went back outside, and Charlotte went to the vet to get the hole in her stomach stitched up. Could have been worse I suppose.

Dat hair In May of 2013 he developed some pneumonia after being under anesthesia for a haircut (a yearly necessity – his hair developed terribly mats in the winter). Faced with thousands of dollars in medical bills, we were forced to put him down. He sat right between us when they did it – all shaved and sad looking. It broke me down - I sobbed all night. I didn’t think it would affect me so much – but he was something special. He was one of the nicest, biggest cats I have ever met. But hey – as my mom said, he had two extra years with us that he probably wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.

So that’s my cat history. I did leave out the cat who walked into our house in Florida during a rainstorm and never left (we named him Cat), but if we’re being honest, I barely remember that cat. He did used to sleep with me in Florida, and he did ruin some brown shag carpet after we moved to Indiana. Good times.Lethargy

Anyway, nowadays Charlotte has to compete with our kid – but to tell the truth, she seems to enjoy his torture. She likes to be around him, even if sometimes he gets a really tight grip on her tail or a chunk of skin. She is getting old (like I said, 17!), but I think she’s still got several good years to go.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Da Way It Is

I am not really sure what the point of having this blog is anymore. I like having it, but I'm not delusional. I know it's nothing anyone will read. So what's the point?

I do all of my "life chronicling" in other places. Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, etc. have all become microblogs themselves - at least enough so that anyone who wants to know anything about me already does.

So I guess this is for everything else. The odd writing project, recipe, or "thing I have nowhere else to put". It feels like a hiding place almost. Like a box on the street that anyone could look into, but why would they? It's just one box of a big pile, which is actually kind of nice.

But anything I actually want to share? That goes on Facebook. Where the people are.

Friday, January 23, 2015

An Exception to the Rule.

Regular (hah!) readers of my blog will notice a lack of activity from November 2012 until nowish (January 2015). Pretty big gap. In that time I switched schools, earned my Masters degree, and became a father. It was pretty busy – but full of bloggable moments. So why the dry spell?

I generally don’t blog about my everyday life. I tried it once, and I couldn’t keep it up. There is something so tedious about rehashing what happened to me during the day that I end up quitting after one or two. I tried to keep a journal in high school – and a week later, threw it away. I can’t do it.

So why have a blog? It’s a kind of safety net, I guess. I like that it’s there. I like knowing that if I ever wanted to blog about something, I could. This is also why I don’t pay for a custom URL – sparsely-updated safety nets don’t deserve having money thrown at them.

Of course not enjoying writing about my everyday life means I have to come up with other things to blog about. Well, when I started this blog way back in September 2013 (mostly because I wanted a new email and hadn’t considered the possibility that deleting my old one rather than just sort of deactivating it would eliminate my access to everything liked to that email account – like my old blog, for example), I promised to “focus more on cooking and projects, and less on stupid posts about my life that no one really cares about anyway.”

Wise words.

So the things I usually feel like blogging about are honestly the types of things I would read about. I often search online for recipes – I hardly use cookbooks anymore since there is so much online. And every so often when I do write something creatively, it usually winds up on here – especially when it was written specifically for this blog (thanks 24HBD). I like to write about things I create, because it’s a break from the usual for me. It’s like, hey – I did a thing, so look at the thing I did!

The focus of this blog has widened a bit, I would say. It’s not all recipes and projects anymore – I started (and then took a 2.5 year break from) posting academic papers from college that I really enjoyed writing/re-reading. The kinds of things I don’t want to just drop in a folder and forget – I like to relive them, and then force my friends and family to live them as well.

Really, looking back through all the posts on this blog I can see that they are all a) recipes, b) building projects, c) creative projects (improv included!), or d) photography stuff. There are a few posts slipped in there about vacations and opinions and whatever, but most of what I post seems to be stuff I make.

Except for this post. Aren’t you glad you read it?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Downfall of the Family Callahan

Here you go, Koscielny. I wrote you a dang sestina. I used a random word generator to choose my six words, which are:


A) suspicion

B) tea

C) burying

D) bottom

E) estate

F) insisting


So here you go. Years late, and generally unintelligible, because sestinas are awkward and horrible. Hope you're happy.



The Downfall of the Family Callahan

Among the family grew a great suspicion.

Sideways glances whilst sipping at their tea.

Seen silhouetted by moonlight, burying

Objects unknown on cliff top from bottom

Was assumed to be among their own estate.

(Though innocence was all they were insisting.)

Interesting to note the insisting

Parties, mostly first to cast suspicion,

Were family leaders of the fine estate.

A family fortune made by selling tea

Greedily squandered from top to bottom

While arguing on who they would be burying.

Quickly, a note on who was burying

Family treasures, they would be insisting

Once great wonders rotting in the bottom

Of pits dug, while avoiding suspicion,

By not the owners of Callahan Tea,

But by ones taking care of the estate.

For all while upkeeping the estate

Despite the family’s attempts at burying

The help from public eye, they grew the tea

And cleaned the land. So through their insisting

Of effort they were giving, suspicion

Landed among the top, not the bottom.

Now the treasure rotting in the bottom

Of pits on cliff-top grounds of the estate,

Needed to be moved without suspicion,

So night found them undoing the burying

Already undertaken while insisting

That fortunes lie in gold, not in tea.

The family in the morning found the tea

untended, and searching the cliff bottom

found the wreckage of the help. Insisting

upon finding the wealth of their estate

They looted the bodies before burying

Finding nothing confirmed their old suspicions.

For all the suspicions of the family of Callahan Tea,

Their wealth still went out to sea, burying itself on the bottom.

But for the bribes of a rival estate, good fortune would be all they were insisting.