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From Kingkiller to Draper: My media menu this month

I have been looking for a good fantasy book for a long time. I wasn’t going to get in to George R.R. Martin’s world…I already watch the show and I’m totally content being surprised by bloody weddings and random sex scenes. Don’t try to convince me otherwise either. Many have tried before you, and while it may be great, I’m just not interested at this point. No, I wanted something else, something mature but also whimsical that can take me back to the first time I ever read Harry Potter. I found all of this in Patrick Rothfuss’ Name of the Wind, his debut novel.

Young_KvotheThe book is the first in a series of three volumes titled “The Kingkiller Chronicle” which is centered around a character who has many names; Kvothe (pronounced Quothe), Kote, Reshi, and many others. It doesn’t matter. What matters is this adventuring new take on “magic” and how it can be explained through science in this made up world. Kvothe’s character is likable enough. He is smart, brave, caring, orphaned and cunning. An actor and musician by training, he is also a quick learner so “sympathy” or as you might know it as “magic” comes extremely quick to him. This allows him to rise through the ranks at the University. The only thing I don’t like about him is his red hair. But I can get passed that.

He battles demons, falls in love with a girl, all the while trying to uncover  the mystery around his parents’ death and find those who did it responsible. I’m in the second volume now titled The Wise Man’s Fear. It is even better than the first, and I highly suggest a read if you’re interested in fantasy or a fun new adventure book that’s a mix between Game of Thrones and Harry Potter. Sans offensive language.

Another thing that has been taking up a lot of my time other than reading and floating Portland’s rivers with a beer in my hand is my love/hate relationship and perseverance with Mad Men. Man, is this show an endurance race. I love it, but it can get so tedious that I almost hate it. I’m taking it slow, because unlike any other show, this show can’t be binge watched. I mean you could, but you’d get bored and give up very quickly. I suggest digesting it in 2 a week increments. I’m about halfway through season 3 and it is all that is on my mind.

Beyond that work and the gym consume my life. A couple of friends and I actually just brewed an IPA that I should be able to talk about next blog post. Until then, Cheers!

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Why Pacific Rim is the Best Summer Movie of 2013

Here, there be MINOR Spoilers

I guess I should start out by saying, that like most cinephiles, Guillermo del Toro’s body of work has thoroughly impressed me. The fact that he is tackling a totally new IP with hundreds of millions of Warner Brother’s dollars, this movie is a total gamble and may totally fail. But, great movies can fail, while shitty movies rise to the top. The fact that Grown Ups got a sequel…sans Rob Schneider…shows that America can sometimes be dumber than a sack of bricks.

pacificrimHowever, sometimes a movie comes a long, so epic, and so kick ass that it may just overcome that ol’ dumb sack of bricks, or at least be a happy medium. Let’s get some things straight: Pacific Rim does not have the cerebral fortitude that is afforded in Pan’s Labyrinth, or even his Hellboy franchise; it is however a visual spectacle of gargantuan proportions, albeit extremely corny at times.

Let’s talk about the special effects and visuals first: wow. We are talking about non stop,  onslaught of orgasms for your eyes. I don’t care if you’re boy or girl, young or old: giant robots fighting giant alien monsters has never been so beautiful.

The aliens use some sort of organic electricity as weapons that looks spectacular when attacking the giant mechas; while the tech used in the mechs or “jaegers” seems plausible via a technology similar to Nolan’s Inception. In order to pilot these behemoths they have to do it neurologically. But as I understand it, the mental capacity to connect is so high that you must use two pilots in each jaeger. Simple enough, and I thought that there would be cheesy drama and plot points derived from this cliche “two pilot” system. This never happened.

And I’ll tell you why I’m disappointed with that: when these two pilots connect to control the robots they “drift” in to each other’s mind and memories. This is a brilliant idea and could have been explored so much deeper. There is a scene in particular where a pilot drifts too far back in to their own memories, while the other pilot experiences it. This scene is by far the most powerful in the movie in terms of emotion and depth. I won’t spoil too much more, but there could have been great stories that added more character depth.

Speaking of character depth…I can’t critique it too much because there is hardly any. The characters are shallow, husks of archetypes we’ve all explored before. But that’s OKAY. I forgive this flaw because I accept this movie for what it is: a giant blockbuster movie with an almost original storyline that isn’t some stupid sequel to a racing movie or Marvel movie. I love the latter, but hey, Hollywood, let’s  try something new and experiment a little bit. If this movie does well, maybe they can make sequels that explore this.

Bottom line: giant robots using oil tankers as baseball bats against ginormous alien monsters that travel through an inter-dimensional rift at the bottom of the ocean? HELL YEAH, sign me up. Skimped on character development, but I’ll forgive it because Charlie Day mind melds with aliens. Boom! 9/10

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An Old Man and His Coffee

There is an old man that I see everyday in my office building sitting in one of the chairs in our sunlight lit hallway near a coffee shop. I randomly eavesdrop while I walk by him, mundane topics are discussed with various characters he seems to socialize with. He wears a khaki M.O. jacket and a pair of blue jeans. His gray, almost white hair is like a lawn in need of a mow, jagged and out of control; all of this is tamed by a Chicago Cub’s hat on top, always overshadowing his closely trimmed beard. In a way he kind of looks like the Billy Goat that started the Cub’s curse all those years ago. All of these are absolute, and without fail. He will always exist with these attributes in my mind. The final thing I must ask myself, ‘why is he here, every morning, without fail?’

A Rough Representation of what he looks like
A Rough Representation of what he looks like

It’s the damn coffee. Apparently we have a pretty delicious option here from a small independent company that provides the coffee for our building, and it is great enough for Billy Goat Willy to come to every morning. But a peculiar thing happened today as I walked by him on the way into the office. While I overheard his tedious conversation with a lady friend about tires and how long they are supposed to last, a topic she was clearly uninterested in, a thought occurred to me. This particular coffee company shop is closed down for renovations for the next week. So here I am, with a sudden realization about life: we are total creatures of habit.

Here is this old, obviously retired man. Day in and day out he has coffee in Portland while he takes his walks; but what does he do when the shop is closed? He still shows up for ho-hum banter with friends and strangers, coffee in hand. This time however, it is Starbucks.

This means he went to Starbucks (the closest one is a mile away), bought his coffee, and then came here to drink it. This train of thought blows my mind and is awesome. I think that what this man can teach me about life is this: that most tires are only supposed to last around 70,000 miles.

What about you, do any of you have quirky characters that hang around your office building everyday? Let me know in the comments below!

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“What if Westeros and Miami Vice Had a Kid?”

I found these designs last week while on a Tumblr binge. Mike Wrobel, a Tokyo based graphic designer made a mash up of some of our favorite characters from Game of Thrones if they were thrown in to an 80s-90s era subplot. Think A Kid in King Arthur’s Court…but completely opposite. By the way, when are we going to get a remake of that one? And why was that child actor in every kid’s baseball movie of the 90s other than The Sandlot? Anyway, I’ll post my two favorite here, but the rest can be found on his site.

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Independence Day: & Four Other 4th of July Traditions

With the July 4th right around the corner I thought I’d write a blog talking about my Independence Day Traditions with friends and family. It is truly a time to be thankful for the freedoms we have in this country, even if they are constantly being monitored by the NSA.  In the comments, let me know what you like to do!

1. Independence Day

President Whitmore’s speech in the historical documentary, “Independence Day” clearly stands the test of time:

“Good morning. In less than an hour, aircraft from here will join others from around the world, and you will be launching the largest aerial battle in the history of mankind. Mankind, that word should have new meaning for all of us today. We can’t be consumed by our petty differences any more. We will be united in our common interest. Perhaps it’s fate that today is the 4th of July, and you will once again be fighting for our freedom. Not from tyranny, oppression, or persecution, but from annihilation. We’re fighting for our right to live, to exist, and should we win the day, the 4th of July will no longer be known as an American holiday, but as the day when the world declared in one voice, ‘We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight! We’re going to live on, we’re going to survive.’ Today we celebrate our independence day!”

Will Smith in Independence Day

Man, I still get goosebumps whenever I hear the end of that speech. Ok, obviously this isn’t a historical documentary, but it might as well be. Will Smith hasn’t been in a movie this kick-ass in a long time; how can he do better than this movie? It is the pinnacle of his career in my opinion, even the rumored sequel won’t be able to hold a candle to this one. He is shooting down aliens with a cigar in his mouth, with his stripper wife waiting for him on Earth. The whole idea is ludicrous and amazing. And exactly why it is on the top of my list to kick off the 4th of July weekend. The rest of your 3-4 day weekend can’t go wrong if it starts out with rousing speeches from President Bill Pullman.

2. Drinking a beer (or 7)

This one is literally a no brainer. Once you are of legal age to drink alcohol in the United States, you must imbibe at least one beer on this great American holiday. If you don’t…you just might be a terrorist. Kick back, relax, and drink your favorite piss beer, or your favorite craft beer. IPA or Busch Light: this is the one day of the year that I view all beers equally. If you’re smart, it all tastes the same after the 3rd one, so start out with the fancy stuff, then transition to your Natty Ice. Remember to pace yourself, fireworks are on the horizon, and you want to be coherent for that.

Only move to hard alcohol AFTER the fireworks. Make it extra American and mix rum with Coca Cola (even if you prefer Pepsi, you’ll thank me) and some orange juice with vodka. Those are the only two liquors allowed on this holiday in my opinion.

3. Singing Country Songs and the national anthem (hopefully with a flag in one hand and a beer in the other)

This is the one day a year I allow myself to enjoy a country song or two unironically (stone me to death hipsters). There is nothing more American about singing surface level deep lyrics while in a straw hat about a truck in a field on a warm Summer’s day. Granted, I’ve never owned a truck, let alone have it get stuck in the middle of a field on a warm Summer’s day, but I understand the sentiment. This, followed by a bellowing of the Star Spangled Banner is just what the doctor ordered.

4. Blowing S*** Up!

Everybody must experience at least one life and death moment during a 4th of July party. Mine comes from an upside down mortar. And another comes from a home made sparkler bomb. I was young, and lucky I still have all my fingers and hearing. Be safe, have fun and remember these moments, because life only goes down hill from here (kidding of course). But we only get to blow shit up legally for a week a year, so cherish these moments!

5. Spend the day with Friends and Family BBQin’ and livin the American Dream

Because no matter how real or stressful, or out of hand can get, you always have a charred hot dog and friends only minutes away. Seriously, spend your time off this weekend and every 4th of July thinking how great we have it in this country 99.9% of the time. Sure, its not perfect, but some guys over 230 years ago came from a different land and set us up just right here in the ol’ US of A.

And when you’re drunkenly debating domestic and foreign policies with your friends, remember we are all united under one President:

“‘We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight! We’re going to live on, we’re going to survive.’ Today we celebrate our independence day!” – President Whitmore, 1996