Archive for the ‘Fun Stuff’ Category

I loves me some fine snark

Thursday, December 9th, 2021

One of my favorite snarky movie review posts was back in 2000, on a now-defunct blog called At Swim Two Birds, named after a literary novel. It was a collection of reviews of the truly execrable movie, Battlefield Earth. The blogger had collected a series of reviews from newspaper movie reviewers, and linked and excerpted them.

I remember two bits from those reviews. In the first, Roger Ebert said that the director used a tilted camera in some shots because he had seen that other directors used tilted cameras, but he obviously didn’t know why the other directors had used them.

In the second bit, which was in the final review quoted, and the one that made me fall off the couch in helpless laughter, the reviewer, whose name I don’t recall, opened the review by saying that he had held off for a week after the film’s debut prior to writing his review, and that, in cases like this one, where every review was scathing, it was often tempting to say that the movie wasn’t actually all that bad. He said he couldn’t do that with Battlefield Earth, “because I would be lying.”

This is a restaurant review, not a movie review, but I giggled throughout it, and just had an incredibly wonderful time reading it.

I will not be eating at this restaurant.

Some Halloween Music

Sunday, October 31st, 2021

It’s a cold night here, with rain and a chance of snow in the forecast. Here’s a little music for the holiday.

First, a Jonathan Coulton classic.

Next, a Tom Waits song that I was not familiar with.

Here’s the Kingston Trio from 1958 with Zombie Jamboree.

And here’s a version of the same song by Rockapella.

Here’s a song about vampires that I really like. This version is by the composer, but I prefer the version by Small Potatoes. Unfortunately, that one doesn’t appear to be on YouTube.

Of course, we can’t forget werewolves.

I have an old cassette that has a song on it called The Mummy Shuffle, which is all about the love a woman has for Kharis, the mummy played by Boris Karloff. Unfortunately, it only appears on YouTube as the entire tape. This is cueued up to the start of the song.

Road trip report

Tuesday, September 21st, 2021

I was out of town over the weekend. One of my sisters had a birthday recently, and her daughter wanted to host a surprise party for her. It was originally going to be held on her birthday, but it was delayed because my niece’s husband tested positive for COVID.

In any case, I left home last Thursday and drove to Texas. I took two days to travel from Denver to Dallas, which seemed to work well. It turned out that I was the surprise at the party, which was fine. I had a nice visit Friday and Saturday, then left Sunday morning to head home.

On the way out, I went east on I-70, then south from Salinas. My plan for the return trip was to head west, stopping in Amarillo for a meal at Dyer’s BBQ, and stopping overnight somewhere along the way before heading north on I-25 at Raton to get back to Denver. It didn’t happen that way.

I got to Amarillo in time for a late lunch, but Dyer’s was apparently closed for remodeling. At least, there was fencing all around the building, it looked closed, and nobody was parked around it. Disappointed, I grabbed a quick fast-food lunch, then continued on. I was far enough west of the main highway that my GPS navigation decided that the back roads were faster than going back to the highway. That may have been correct, but it meant fewer gas stations and rest stops, which can be important factors for someone my age.

In any case, I got to Raton before dinnertime, and headed north because I wasn’t that hungry yet. I ended up driving all the way from Dallas to Denver in one day, which was not something I’d intended; I just didn’t want to pay for an overnight stay when I was only a couple of hours from home. It took about 13.5 hours total. The last time I’d done a drive of that length was in 1997, when I drove from Denver to San Antonio in one day; about 16 or 17 hours, as I recall.

I spent yesterday recovering; the lack of activity caused pain in my legs and hips, and I had a headache that started sometime Sunday afternoon and lasted until sometime yesterday. If I had it to do over again, I think I’d stop in Amarillo, no matter that it was early afternoon, and find another place for a good meal and get a room overnight. Maybe try that place that has the 72-ounce steak that’s free if you can eat it in a certain amount of time. Not that I’d order that; I know I can’t even consider that kind of massive meal anymore.

Tunesday

Tuesday, November 27th, 2018

Time for some music-related stuff. Thanksgiving was last week, and Arlo Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant” is almost obligatory in some circles. Here’s something I ran across, but was unable to spend time on prior to the holiday. Perhaps for next year …

Here’s a nice rendition of Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon.” I listened to it because the name of the group attracted my attention.

Finally, here are two videos that are sequential selections from the same presentation on the Circle of Fifths. I knew parts of this before, but these are very clear and informative.

It’s Thanksgiving

Thursday, November 22nd, 2018

Since it was only my girlfriend and myself today (my daughter and her friends had other plans), I did not cook a Thanksgiving dinner. I did make a couple of desserts: a bourbon chocolate pecan pie and some chocolate rum balls. Instead, we went out. It was fine, and I don’t have the room in my fridge for leftovers from cooking a big meal, anyway.

One thing I meant to do, but never got around to, was to learn this so that I could play it today. Maybe next year.

I’m wishing this YouTube channel had more posts

Monday, August 20th, 2018

I ran across Speech Jammer Storytime a few days ago, and it’s not only fun, it brings back memories. When I was attending the Naval Academy, one of my extracurricular activities was being part of the Brigade Activities Committee, the group that ran skits at pep rallies and pregames.

One particular pep rally skit I remember had me narrating something, with my words amplified and emitted via the loudspeakers mounted on the wings of Bancroft Hall that were on the far side of T-Court from me. There was a noticeable delay between the time I spoke and the time I heard my amplified speech. Because of that, I can really sympathize with this guy:

Yesterday was Star Wars Day

Saturday, May 5th, 2018

I could have posted about it then, but …

Daylight Saving Time funnies

Sunday, March 11th, 2018

Tuesday

Tuesday, February 6th, 2018

A couple weeks ago, I posted a video of ‘Tico, Tico’ that I liked. Since then, I’ve run across some more performances of it that I like. The first one is by Paco de Lucia. He gets pretty fast with his fingers on this. I used to have an LP or two of his. I’m not sure what the short bits that follow his performance are.

Here’s another version that’s pretty fun – it’s by Liberace. He gets some incredible speed in his performance.

Liberace was one of the more flamboyant performers I remember from my youth. I remember Bugs Bunny did a Liberace impression once or twice. Given his over-the-top wardrobe, I wonder if he had the same problem with the IRS that Diana Ross had – they were going to disallow the deductions she took for her stage outfits, but she demonstrated that most of them she couldn’t wear offstage – they wouldn’t allow her to sit down. He couldn’t make the same argument, since he performed sitting down.

Here he is performing ‘Malaguena’ and mugging with Sammy Davis, Jr.

And here’s another version of Malaguena, this time from Chet Atkins.

I’m back!

Friday, September 8th, 2017

Marion and I just returned from a European trip. Well, we actually returned last Saturday evening, but my internet was out. It remained out until last night.

I couldn’t get a tech over the holiday weekend; the first available slot was Wednesday morning, which I couldn’t do. Wednesday afternoon I was available, though, and when the tech came, it didn’t take him long to determine that it was a cable problem. The cable crew couldn’t come out until sometime yesterday, but they got my internet up and running again.

We were on a tour called “The Best of Eastern Europe.” The tour group leader (CEO, or Chief Experience Officer in the parlance of the company) didn’t agree that it was a tour of Eastern Europe; her opinion is that it was a tour of Central Europe. The company actually has a tour that goes to most of the same cities that they call “Explore Central Europe.”

The differences are that the “Eastern” Europe tour includes Poland, and the “Central” Europe tour is part of their National Geographic tour series. Joking around on the tour, we decided that that the tours were named as they were because the general public considers anything east of Germany to be “Eastern Europe,” while “National Geographic” readers are likely to know more geography.

We had a great time. I drank a lot more beer than I normally do on the trip – I’d have one or two half-liter glasses with most dinners. It was usually quite good beer, too. The only beer I wasn’t that fond of was the “smoked beer” that I tried in Cesky Krumlov. It’s a local specialty that was first brewed when part of a brewery caught fire, and they decided to use the barley that had come through the fire. It wasn’t bad, but I preferred the more usual beers, such as Staropramen. One of the other guys on the tour asked for “a good German beer” at a biergarten in Berlin, and was told that the really good beers came from the Czech Republic.

I was rather surprised at how hard it was to find restaurants serving traditional food in Berlin; the best meal we had there was actually at an Italian trattoria. Italian and kebab places seemed to be the most common.

Warsaw and Krakow were nice (I prefer Krakow). We got traditional food in each of those cities, and Marion acquired a taste for pierogi.

In the Czech Republic, we also got traditional food in both Prague and Český Krumlov.

By the time we got to Vienna, I was starting to tire of traditional foods. We attended a concert of Mozart and Strauss music in the venue that saw The Magic Flute’s first performance. The Instagram reviews the people sitting in front of us were reading described it as “cheesy but fun,” but we thought it was both good and fun, with no “cheesy” involved.

We’d been in Budapest before, so we hadn’t planned to stay there after the trip officially ended. We ducked out on the walking tour part-way through, because we’d already seen Heroes Square, and took a tour of the State Opera House instead. Much more interesting, and we took the tour that provided a mini-concert of two arias at the end. Beautiful building, with great acoustics.

We saw several castles, and took tours through most of them. We had a couple of extra days in Berlin prior to the start of the tour, so we took a day trip to Potsdam. We toured Schloss Cecilienhof, where the Potsdam Conference took place, then saw the gardens at Sanssouci. We couldn’t get onto the grounds of the third palace in the area (the New Palace, I think) because it was closed for a classical music festival.

In Krakow, we saw Wawel Castle, but didn’t take an “inside” tour.

We did tour Prague Castle, and attended a concert in the Basilica of St. George. If you’re there, definitely pay for one of the inside tours – St. Vitus’ Cathedral is not to be missed.

Český Krumlov Castle is nice, but not as impressive. The gardens are pretty nice, though.

In Vienna, we toured Schönbrunn Palace, which was impressive. We also had a very good meal at the palace cafe. The palace offered nightly Mozart/Strauss concerts, but we attended one downtown. The palace was on the far side of downtown from our hotel, and its concert ran later. Given that we were leaving Vienna the next morning, I wanted to get back to the hotel earlier, so we went with the concert at Palffy Palace.

I’ll probably post a few photos over the next few days, but it’s getting too late to do so tonight.