Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Best of 2008: Movies and Television and other cool things

So, here is my annual list of the best television and the best movies of 2008 as well as some other happenings from the past year:

My television list looks very similar to last year though two shows broke onto the list and one show (Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia) fell off the list due. Its Always Sunny is still very funny but the characters are so morally corupt that it is hard to like them at all. With that said, I am not going to recommend any of those shows because they may be a little risque or they just be a bit over the top, but here are my favorites from the tv world this past year.

1. BattleStar Galactica: OK, I won't talk about it anymore on this site but it is still frakkin' awesome.
2. Dexter: Great storytelling and it takes a lot that this show makes you really like the main character who just so happens to be a serial killer. Each episode is interesting, scary and highly entertaining.

3. 30 Rock: Week in and week out, the funniest show in television. The characters are absurd and always funny and always absurd and always funny.
4. Burn Notice: Set in beautiful Miami about a former CIA agent who was 'released' from the CIA and he spends his days and nights helping others and trying to figure out why he was 'burned' by his agency.

5. True Blood: if you can get thru the naughty scenes (too many), the story is actually pretty cool about vampires trying to fit in or not fit in with the human population.
6. The Office: Often uneven but still a lot of fun.

1. Dark Knight: It is hard to get cooler than this movie. You had a great performance by Heath Ledger as the Joker...the storyline was dark and brutal and terrific.
2. Tropic Thunder: Over the top and often offensive, it was also terribly funny. Definately not a movie that I will recommend to others but a movie that I would happily watch again and again.

3. Dr. Horribles Sing Along Blog: Not a full length movie as it sits at around 45 minutes but it has laugh out loud moments and it is written by Joss Whedon (Buffy and Serenity fame) which would make it worth a viewing for that reason alone.
4. Iron Man: another comic book movie (which once again shows my obsession with anything comic book related) which did not feel like a comic book movie. How can you not love

Other cool things from the past year:
  • Carter taking tennis lessons and starting kindergarten
  • Beckham continuing his craziness.
  • Obama winning the presidency...whether you are a democrat or a repub, it is pretty cool.
  • Utah Utes going to the Sugar Bowl.
  • Brodi's dad Dennis kicking cancer's arse.
  • Cool trip to South Carolina and Georgia

Friday, December 26, 2008

A slightly bloody yet always entertaining Christmas Eve ragin' party

Some quick Christmas pictures...

Christmas eve was spent with Brodi's parents and her sister and family. It was a ragin' party and you can tell how lucky the boys were all by their new stylin' pajamas.

Carter had a bell that he got to swing around and have it 'bong', 'bong', 'bong' until he got a little too excited with the ringing and it ended up bonging him in the nose. Blood flowed freely but I stepped in and took control of the situation.

With myself being the only adult male that is not actually a doctor (though I can probably tell if a cow has mastitis in the udder...that makes me a doctor somehow, doesn't it?), I put my skills to work as I expertly bandaged up my poor boy. After getting him fixed up, we listened to Brodi and Erin (both drunk on diet coke) play up a few Christmas carols on the piano. And then we called it a night.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Short Shorts and getting in trouble

So, time for a totally random story, but I remembered this story because it happened right before Christmas, about 17 years ago. I played hoops for West High School. And let me just say...our uniforms were old. That means that those uniforms have been washed and washed and washed. And dried and dried and dried. And that means a lot of shrunken shorts and shirts. I was either the shortest or the second shortest player on our team and I was one of the younger ones which meant that I got to pick last and because I was one of the shortest, I usually ended up with the 'small' uniform. Now, it was small to begin with...but after 5+ years of being washed and dried, they became itsy bitsy.

Basically, I was wearing a speedo on the basketball court. West High thrived on intimidation against other schools due to our reputation. Let me just say--there was NOTHING intimidating about me coming out in that uniform. Other players on our team had to deal with the same thing, so most of us wore spandex under shorts...but they had a High School rule my Junior year that you could wear nothing like spandex under your jerseys unless you had a Doctor's Note that allowed it (seriously, how stupid is that). So, I ditched the spandex and wore longish boxers under my jersey shorts. The two pictures that I have included here are from my Junior year so that you can see just how tight those bad boys were.

So, big game is here: West High vs. East High. I was a West student but I lived in East High school boundaries, so I had a bunch of friends that went there...add to that, it was a huge rivalry. The stands were packed in our game against them at home.

First half was over and it was a tight game. So, we go out to start the second half and we are about to inbound the ball. All of a sudden, the ref blows his whistle to stop the game before the 2nd half even begins. The ref points at me and says 'Fix your shorts Johnson.' I look down and my boxers had gone below the shorts. I kinda fiddle with my boxers to hide them better under my shorts, to no avail. Now, the audience is quiet because nobody knows why the game isn't starting. The ref yells at me again to fix my shorts so I keep trying. My coach yells at the ref asking what is wrong and the ref says back to him that I have undershorts coming below my shorts. The crowd is dead quiet. My coach looks at me and asks me whats wrong and I tell him that it was my boxers. My coach shakes his head and yells at the ref: "Its his underwear, lets play' and the ref yells back at me and my coach 'I don't care if its his underwear, he needs to fix it or he gets a technical.' Yep, let me just say, once again, that every fan in the stands was now hearing (it was amazingly quiet in the gym as people were trying to figure out what was going on) my coach argue with the ref about my underwear. How awesome and disturbing is that?

So, the coach has to pull me out of the game and tells me to go down to the locker-room to fix it. I am running off the court as everyone is trying to determine exactly what kind of boxers that I am wearing. I get down to the locker-room and a teammate is there to get me into the lockerroom (we had to lock the doors down there so that we weren't robbed and he had the key). I run in and I am trying to figure out what to do...and my teammate kindly offers me his underwear. Yeah, I turned him down. Thanks for the offer though, that was sweet and incredibly creepy.

I decided to keep on wearing my boxers though I ended up pulling them up to the my chin nearly so that they would not show. I ran back up to the gym and thankfully I did not get a standing ovation for being able to fix my underwear. I had no problems the rest of the game except for the discomfort of having my boxers about 6 inches higher than they should have been. And yes, we lost that frakkin' game, no thanks to the ref. This story does have a good ending though as thankfully, my senior year, we got new jerseys and my barely-legal basketball shorts were finally thrown away.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Crank up the Christmas Music!

Brodi loves her Christmas music. Now, if it is not Christmas season, I don't think she has ever listened to it...but if its after Thanksgiving, the station is tuned to Christmas songs. I really don't care much about Christmas music...until I noticed the fabulous bands that have Christmas CDs out there:

What better way to get in the Christmas spirit than turning on the NightRider/BayWatch superstar David Hasselhoff? He is a sensation over in Germany and I love European things, so this seems like a perfect match. We all know that he can act with the best of them, DeNiro, Pacino, etc...so obviously, he can probably carry a wonderful tune.

I mean if his music on this Christmas cd is anywhere near the production value as well as the singing chops on this Hassehoff classic (pay attention to the special effects which are truly special:

If this doesn't satisfy my Christmas music needs, there are several other albums out there which I would expect would be nothing but fabulous. NSync has Justin Timberlake and they also have a Christmas album. I mean, who wouldn't buy that? And who doesn't love Michael Bolton? If you are looking for a swingin' Christmas, it appears that the Bolton has come through. I will keep you updated on the quality of all of this music.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Happy 6th Birtday to Carter

Today is Carter's Birthday. 6 years old. Pretty crazy to think that he is already in Kindergarten. He is as good of a boy as we would want. As most of you know, Carter was a slow talker. He spoke about 3-5 words at the age of 3. Well, he is making up for lost time right now because if he is awake, he is talking...and talking...and talking...and talking.

Carter is a pretty cool kid. He was our little DC baby and we spent many days and nights down on the Mall checking out all of the historical sites. Brodi and I used to put him in his jogger and we would go and run on the Mall. Usually, he loved it. Sometimes he voiced his displeasure, but he always liked being outside. He was also the darling at my office in DC. Whether it was a huge babyshower in the office or just parading him around to my friends and co-workers, he was always the life of the party. Everyone loved his bald head and it was bald for the first two years of his life. Now, well, curls are everywhere.

He always needs to be moving. He always needs to be running. We would laugh that wherever we would go, he would need his time to run around, whether it be in circles around a large kitchen island or just run around the store or in the hallways of a church. He still, to this day, spends about 15 minutes every night running around just to burn off the excess energy he has.

As I have mentioned before on this blog, this boy knows how to wreck havoc on his body. He has had many falls and accidents--jumping off the couch and hitting his head against the coffee table (2-4 stitches below his eye)...running in our backyard and getting smacked with the lock of the gates right below his eye (2-4 stitches)...rough housing with his cousins and breaking his collar bone...crashing into an end table at the church (bruises all over his face) and having it fall down on top of him...nearly losing his finger when it got caught in the hinge of a door (15 stitches used to save the tip of his finger). He has done it all and he has done with his happy attitude.

He is a genius on the computer. He can play all kinds of games (kindergarten smart games, Harry Potter games, Lego Indiana Jones, etc.) on the computer, on his DS. He types his name and plays online games. He is scary good at it.

He loves soccer. The first year, not so much. But he still asks about playing on Saturdays even though I have made it clear that soccer won't begin again till Spring. He is really liking tennis right now...and he plays with a coach every Friday. He even has his own racket. He also likes to spend time on the couch at night watching the Utes or the Jazz play basketball.

His mind works in fabulous ways as he tries and understands what is going on in life. Yesterday in the car, he was watching a dvd. It was a looney tunes dvd. This was our conversation:
Carter: That bunny is faster than a train. He is really fast!
Sam: Good to hear Carter.
Carter: I think that bunny may even be faster than Jesus.
Sam: Carter, lets not talk about that right now.
Carter: Is Jesus as fast a train?
Sam: (not sure how to respond). Yeah, I guess he is.
Carter: Oh, I guess Jesus is faster than the bunny as well.
Sam: Yeah, I guess He is.
Carter: Is Jesus in the sky?
Sam: Yes, Jesus is in heaven right now
Carter: And heaven is in the sky...I am now going to take my rocket and visit him. Bye Daddy...5-4-3-2...
Sam: (Yeah, I didn't know how to respond to that)

And Carter loves his family. He talks of his Amma and Ampa (Brodi's parents) all the time...he talks of Grandma Kate and Grandpa Frank (Sam's parents) all the time...he talks of his best friends (Necie and Hope) and he loves the kids in our neighborhood. Though he often ends up competing with Beckham, he sure does his brother. And he always tell his parents how much he loves them.

Happy 6th Birthday to Carter. You are a good little dude.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Music with an odd selection...

I really like music and I am lucky to have a wife that has very similar tastes to me in regards to music.

Early on in our dating relationship, Brodi took me to go see the band 'Live' up at Wolf Mountain, or whatever they call that place now. We loved it...it was a great setting and some terrific music. It was even more entertaining with the different people around us. There were all types of people, including the couple in front of us who were busy making out and doing just about everything possible this side of getting thrown in jail for indecent exposure (If I had a cigarette, I would have probably had offered it to them). But overall, great concert and a lot of fun and it became a clear indication to me that Brodi was the one as how cool was it to have a girl not only buy the tickets for that concert but to also like it and love the music?

We are also big fans of the band 'Everclear.' I had a chance to see them in concert in Salt Lake City as well as in Washington DC. We also met Art Alexakis, the lead singer of the band, at Disneyland of all places. I am a total idiot, but I went up to him at the Blue Bayou (restaurant there in Disneyland) and introduced myself. Just exactly what every lead singer of a famous band wants is some stinkin' MALE groupie coming up to him to tell him how much he likes their band. Now, if it was Brodi, I am sure it would have been awesome for him...but alas, it was me. He was very cool though, he made sure that I bought their newly released album and I controlled myself enough to not ask him for a hug.

So, my ipod is full of songs from Everclear, Live, Linkin Park, Metallica...are you seeing a trend here? I like music a bit on the harder side. But there is an exception band/performer. Ilike 'P!nk.' Yeah, nuts. But I have 4 or 5 of her songs (who knew...sober...Pill, among them) on my playlists and she has some great music. So, I guess she is my guilty artist pleasure.

With that said, I have a wide range of musical tastes from the bands that I mentioned above to 'My Chemical Romance' to 'Spoon' to 'Cat Stevens' to 'The Killers.' If you have any offbeat or guilty pleasures of music, let me know, as I am pretty open to trying different sounds.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

6th grade awkwardness

Random Story Time: So I have been thinking of my growing up days on the mean streets of Bountiful, Utah. As a 6th grader, you think you are the most happenin' kid in town and that you can do no wrong and that you are as cool as a cucumber (yes, I realize that I am using some very uncool words). As 6th grade progressed, I met the new girl that had just moved into the neighborhood and she was new to the school. She seemed very cool, she was very pretty and she was very tall. She had me by a couple of inches. My eyes were even with her chin. After a couple of months of 'hi's, I guess I decided that our relationship had truly progressed to a point where the logical next step was to ask her to be my girlfriend.

I thought that I was a pretty smooth operator. I was good at sports, I was a very talkative kid and I could talk to girls or boys...but this did not go off as well as I had hoped.

I talked with my friends who talked with her friends and a meeting was set up at the afternoon recess where just the two of us would go out and talk on the playground. The recess bell went off and I assumed my place on the playground. Nikki followed out soon after. Our friends (about 20 of them, I believe) all watched from inside the building through the window. We both kinda said Hi and then I went for it:

Sam: How are you Nikki?
Nikki: Great, how are you?
Sam: Fine, thanks for asking
Sam: Good weather we are having, isn't it?
Nikki: Yep.
5-10 second awkward pause
Sam: So, I wanted to ask you: 'Do you want to go with me?' (my head was probably down and I was probably shuffling my feet a bit)
Nikki: Go where?
Awkward 2-3 second pause as I contemplated how to respond to that question
Nikki: Oh...Yes, Yes, I will 'go with you.'
Now, for those not familiar with 6th grade talk, 'going with you' meant to be boyfriend/girlfriend and thankfully she realized it after a few seconds.
Sam: Cool.
Nikki: Yeah
Another awkward 3-5 seconds and then this is where you see the genius of Sam...
Sam: So, how do you spell your name? Is it N.i.c.k.i?
Nikki: No, I spell it N.i.k.k.i
Sam: Thats great. I'll talk to you later?
Nikki: Sounds good. Thanks

Yes, one of the first orders of business after becoming a couple was to ask her how she spelled her name. I guess I needed to know how to spell her name so that I could put 'Sam+Nikki' in my notebooks and spell her name correctly...I mean, you can't spell your girlfriend's name incorrectly, how dumb would that be? Props to her for keeping her cool and having the presence of mind to not fill dead air with: So Sam, how do you spell your name?

We then both proceeded to casually go talk with their friends and let them know that they are now boyfriend and girlfriend and how cool was that? The friends cheered.

What did being a couple in the 6th grade mean?
  • 4-5 hand holds (sometimes after our friends would urge us to hold hands on the bus)
  • Exclusive dancing (under our boyfriend/girlfriend arrangement, I don't think we danced with anyone else) at the school dance which consisted of being arms-length away and shuffling our feet to the music
  • Giving each other Valentines Day cards
  • Playing next to each other on the school playground...me with my friends with her and her friends doing something right next to us.
  • About 10 phone calls to each other
I still don't remember how we 'broke' up or even if we did break up (she moved after our 6th grade year to SLC)...I am sure it was dramatic and tragic all at once. The one thing, looking back on all of this, that I now realize is how glad that I am that I am no longer in elementary school.

Scary thing is though that Brodi probably thinks that is how I acted with her the first time we went out.

Monday, December 8, 2008

It may kill you, but at least your belly would be full

I have been known to not eat too healthy. In high school, breakfast consisted of 'Mike and Ike's' candy and lunch was a snickers bar. Thankfully my mom was a great cook so I at least got a great dinner. Overall though, I am not a bad eater. With all that said, there is bad eating and then there is really, really bad eating.

There is a diner in Phoenix called 'the Heart Attack Grill'. Its meals consist simply of huge hamburger patties (half pounders) and are given names like the Single Bypass Burger. The Quadruple Bypass Burger (bacon, cheese and 4 half pound hamburger patties) has 8000 calories. Yes, 8000 calories. Yes, you still read that right, 8000 calories. I do have to say though that my favorite menu item from what I have seen is the Flatliner Fries (deep fried in pure lard). Nothing better than a fully deep fried lard fry. It is also nice to see that this hamburger joint serves up unfiltered cigarettes. Could life get any better than downing 2 pounds of hamburger meat, a nice extra large soft drink and top it off with a few puffs off the cigarette? Yeah, I doubt it too.

I would totally be there if they served Tab, but alas, they only serve sugar drinks, Beer and Jolt as beverages. So, I will just have to view this place admiringly from afar.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Rule #235

I have many rules that I live by. Brodi is hounding me to add the following rule to the list:

#235: When you put a drink in the freezer to get it extra cold, remember to take it out or better yet, don't put it in there in the first place.

You can tell how impressive this frozen-can explosion was in our freezer by just seeing that its entire top was blown clean away. It is tragic though to lose a Tab in the process.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Perched high above the water

So I gave Beckham a bath yesterday night. He decided when he got in the tub that he didn't want to have a bath. No, that is not a gargoyle, that is an almost three year old boy trying to stay clear of the water. Eventually he succumbed to the water and enjoyed his bath.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Battlestar and Science Fiction Geekdom

Brodi had a post the other day on her blog about science fiction movies. I am not a sci-fi geek. Brodi, on the other hand, is. Have a Stars Wars question? She is the gal. Want to know something about Aliens? Yeah, go to her...you get that kind of knowledge with hundreds of viewings, I think.

With that said, there have been several sci-fi shows/movies that I have loved. Serenity, a Joss Whedon production (based on a short lived tv show, Firefly, from around 2002), was a genius movie. Truly terrific....how can you beat a cowboy western science fiction movie? Trust me, you can't. The first Matrix? Wonderfully entertaining. But there are many sci-fi shows that I could never get in to such as 'Star Trek' and the 13 off-shoots of the original Star Trek.

But a few years ago, a little remake came to the television, Battlestar Galactica. Yes, that cheesy early 80s television show. Well, times have changed and it is not your mother's Battlestar any more. Brodi and I decided to give this show a chance during its first season and it is spectacular. It is rough and tumble, it is dark, it has great actors and actresses. It is probably the finest show on television. Well, the show ends its run this Spring, finishing off 5 full seasons. Starting in January, it has 10 episodes to go and it is finished. One of the main characters, James Callins who plays Balthar, summed up the finale of these shows and whether or not expectations would be too high on these final episodes with this line: "Honestly you can't be disappointed," he said. "I think if Adolf Hitler were back, he'd be crying in his handkerchief." Probably not the best analogy...but it sounds like expectations have been raised. But hey, if Adolf Hitler liked it...yeah, still probably not the best analogy.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Rockin' Thanksgiving

First off, let me just say that is shocking how much weight you can gain over a 3 day period. Shocking. But it is OK, all of that weight just went into my belly and face--hardly noticeable.

Thanksgiving was fabulous as usual. We spend the evening before Thanksgiving as well as Thanksgiving at Brodi's parents house where we make our stuffing (bread, sage and about 14 cubes of butter) and then we spend the rest of the time eating and eating and eating. I want to feel the pain of being full and trust me, I felt it. I felt it real good. The kids love this because they get the full attention of their grandma and grandpa as well as hanging out with their Gubler cousins. The kids had a contest of spelling different words at the dinner table and laughing their heads off at some of the words they had to spell. Lets just say that the older cousins did a bit better at this game than the younger ones.

The next day we head down to our family ranch down in central Utah where we spend a couple of days eating and playing hard. The ranch is beautiful and lodging is awesome. There is a bedroom and a bathroom for every adult couple as well as another bedroom and a bathroom for ever family's kids (14 bedrooms, 12 bathrooms, yes, you read that correct).

Carter and Beckham could not get enough of it all. Carter calls it: Grandma Kate's Desert House. We then spent the next 2 days hiking to see Indian art, riding four wheelers over thousands of acres and riding horses. They especially liked the hike. What could be better than having hilly desert land in front of you, a nice trail, all of your cousins and few rules? Beckham did have one of his silent tantrums. This tantrum consists of him getting angy over something, laying face first on the ground (or dirt as it was, as we were on a hike) and not moving for a couple of minutes. When he decides that he has won the argument, he gets up and acts like nothing happened. Adorable, unless it was your kid. And Beckham is my kid.

Carter rode the horse all by himself. In fact, he asked that Brodi not steer the horse for him after a while as well. Beckham loved it as well, but he wanted Brodi to sit with him (though he has also ridden a horse all by himself).

The four-wheeling was fun as it was open roads every where you went. The kids just sat in the four-wheeler, clenched their teeth and hung on, laughing and talking the whole way.

Dinner was massive as every family made it their duty to bring lots of food. Plenty of food. And overall the trip was as fun as expected even though Beckham was a bit confused with me sleeping in his bed with him (he wouldn't sleep in the crib or on blankets on the floor, so he got to join me in the bed...Carter slept with Brodi) so we spent about 3-hours in the middle of the night hanging out with my trying to convince him it was time to go to sleep and him trying to convince me that I was wrong.

Overall, a very nice weekend and it is back to the grind of school, work, etc...