Saturday, November 8, 2014

High Five

The High Five:

If the Internet is to be believed. [1]  "Gimme five" or the "low five" has been popular since before WWII and is at least as old as the twenties. [2]

It took until the 70's for it to morph into it's mentally deficient cousin the "high five".

At the risk of giving away my feelings about this too early in this post, I can't stand high fives.

Wikipedia lists several possible origins of this overhead hand slap.  It seems the most likely [3] is Glenn Burke and Dusty Baker, who were both playing for the Dodgers back in 1977.  In a moment of pure happiness after Baker hit his 30th home run and secured the Dodgers place in the play-offs, Burke ran over to the plate to meet Baker with his hand over his head.  Baker, not knowing what else to do, reached up and slapped it with his own hand and thus this societal pain in the ass was born.

If it wasn't Burke and Baker who were responsible, all of the other possible origin stories also involve sports.  So whoever it was, we can at least be reasonably sure that the origin is sports related.  Which makes sense and truth be told I would have been glad to see whoever it was that invented it, performing it that first time.  Or during any other spontaneous celebration of a difficult victory.

You see my problem with the high five isn't that the action is stupid or that it is inappropriate in and of itself.  Instead my problem with it is two-fold.  The first is that it is over-used and the second is that once someone puts up their hand, you are now socially obligated to reciprocate.

To further elucidate [4]:

Any import given to or from a high five, any real sense of meaning was long ago washed away by overuse.  It is now akin to asking somebody, "How ya doing?"  Which has been asked so many times, that the speaker doesn't really want or expect any answer longer than 'fine'.  Which is okay with the person replying, because they don't want to give anything longer than that either.  It's just an extended form of exchanging hi's.

Similarly, the high five, which was created in a moment of spontaneous joy to celebrate a momentous occasion is now used to celebrate everything from unjamming a stapler to managing to open a door.  In fact, I suspect you can think of someone who asks for a high five every time you see them.

Gary [walking up to a group of friends]: Hey, what's up?
Toolbag: It's Gary! High five!
Gary: What exactly are we celebrating here?  My ability to walk over here or just the simple fact of my existence?

And while that's only semi-annoying, there are plenty of other similar examples of exchanges the have become so common place their real meaning/intent is lost.  For instance saying "Bless you" when someone sneezes, wishing someone, "Have a nice day" when they leave and the previously discussed "How are you?" just to name a few. [5]

What makes the high five more annoying is that it doesn't just require a short verbal response.  Instead you must physically join in on the celebration of the workaday and you really don't have any choice.  Because when presented with a raised palm and a verbal: "High five!" you cannot ignore it without causing yourself to look like the jerk.

Chuck [the most annoying person you know and somebody you usually try to avoid seeing never mind touching at all costs]: Hey look, we have on matching socks!  High five!
You: We both have on plain white socks.  If you look, you can see that they aren't even the same brand.
Chuck: [hand still raised expectantly] . . .
You: Sigh.

Why must I be forced to participate in another's celebration of the mundane or inane?

Did you just win the game for our team?  Then I believe a celebratory display is in order.  High fives, hugs, picking you up on our shoulders or something similar is not only okay, but is called for.

Did you just pick a stray paper clip up off of the floor?  Much like the hugs and parading you around on our shoulders is probably going a bit too far, perhaps it really isn't worth a high-five either?

The ultimate problem is that some people just really, really love to get/give high fives.  Is it that they are just so overflowing with joy that they feel compelled to share it?  Or perhaps they are deprived of human contact?  Maybe social interaction such a rarity for them that the momentary smack of palm on palm is an oasis in a desert.  Maybe it's some sort of brainwashing.

I think that from now on when I find myself on the receiving end of a high five request, I'll just hug the person instead.

Or perhaps I should carry around a pocket full of confetti that I can throw to up the celebration one more notch into the absurd.

Or it might be that I'm just a grump.

High-fives: D+

[1] - And why wouldn't we believe the Interwebs?
[2] - You can evidently see Al Jolson doing it in the Jazz Singer.
[3] - Or at least the most commonly believed.  And eventually what else matters?
[4] - It's an SAT word.  Go look it up.  Fine, I'll look it up for you.  Here.
[5] - It's not that there is anything wrong with these. But when you say, "Bless you" after someone sneezes do you really mean that you hope they receive some sort of blessing or are you just filling the space with the socially normed response?

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Spaghettle Noodies

Spaghettle Noodies:

I was picking up the boys after work today.  Because it's election day, the Bear was out of Kindergarten and he got to spend the day with the lady who watches the Bean and used to watch him for day care.  As we were getting ready to leave, the topic of dinner came up.  I had previously mentioned making spaghetti a few days before and the Bear was trying to tell me that's what he wanted for dinner.

In case I haven't mentioned it before, the Bear is incredibly articulate for a five year old.  He has no problem speaking and the only words he regularly mispronounces are the ones that we haven't told him he's saying wrong because it's just too darn cute. [1]

Only on this occasion his brain got kerfuttled [2] and he spoonerized [3] the words.  Only it was one of those occasions where as you're speaking you know it's coming out wrong but you can't stop it and attempts to fix it just make it worse.

If you want to hear someone else discussing it, go look up "Brian Regan take luck" on youtube.  Or just click this link [4].

At any rate, despite the Bear's best efforts otherwise, all he could manage to say was "Spaghettle Noodies"[5] over and over again.  He kept trying to say something else, with many false starts and stops, but to no avail.

Having been the victim myself of such mental malfunctions many time in the past, I immediately started laughing.  The Bear's old day-care Nana, could only make out what sounds like "Nudies" and simply stared at him.  It was good times.

Fast forward to us getting home and making dinner.  The Pook is in full school play costume mode and is away slaving over a sewing machine, so it was just the men in the kitchen

The Bear helped me make the spaghetti sauce [6] and then once the noodles were done it was time to eat.

I don't know if you've ever eaten spaghetti with a two-year old and a five year old, but in case you haven't let me illuminate you as to a crucial fact or two.

The possibility that the two year old will not end up with sauce on every part of his being is so remote as to be non-existent.  The five year old has better odds, but they're still nothing you'd want to take to Vegas. Thus you'd better be prepared to clean up afterwards and if they are wearing any clothes you want to remain unstained with red sauce you'd better remove them prior to the event.[7]  

And thus it was that the Bean was promptly stripped down to his diaper and the Bear was told to take off his shirt.

I sat down myself, but in the short span of time it had taken me to go from seating the Bean, to the counter to pick up my plate and back to the table, he'd already painted his portion of the town red.  So, I promptly stood back up and took off my own shirt. [8]

So there we three sat, happily munching on [9] our pasta.

And as I looked around the table at our various states of undress, I thought:

Spaghettle Noodies it is.

Spaghettle Noodies: A+

[1] - Like Pretzel.  He still calls them Prentzels and we're okay with that.
[2] - Technical term
[3] - An actual linguistic term, as opposed to kerfuttled.
[4] - Any of the first two videos have the clip.  But do yourself a favor and listen to the longer one, because Brian Regan is hilarious.  Or if stand-up turned into a Coke ad is more your speed, click this.
[5] - Prounced "Spag-ettle" and "New-dees"
[6] - Yes, I make my own sauce.  It doesn't take that long and it tastes way better than anything from a jar.  If you ask nice, maybe I'll give you the recipe.
[7] - In truth, the Bear likes his with no sauce and just butter and Parmesan cheese, but not surprisingly it doesn't really cut down on the mess that much.
[8] - After all it's a fool that doesn't take his own advice.
[9] - And in the Bean's case, wearing.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Temporary Insanity

Temporary Insanity:

You hear about people pleading temporary insanity from time to time.  News reports of the events surrounding such crimes often start something like this:

"Earlier this month a local woman [1] shot and killed five people while . . ."

Of course, while you don't actually hear about the plead of temporary insanity until months and months later, you start to hear speculation about it long before.

Bob: Hey, did you hear about that woman who killed all those people at Wal-Mart [2] last week?
Charles: Yeah, I bet she pleads temporary insanity and gets away with it too.

I suspect that that idea crosses the mind of most people when they hear about someone taking such a plea.  Surely temporary insanity is just their way of trying to "get away" with something. Right? Because honestly, temporary insanity?  You really want us to believe that you aren't normally crazy.  It was just this one time?

Officer Carl: You're under arrest for the murder of five people.
Suspect: No no officer.  You don't need to arrest me.
Officer Carl: But you're crazy.  You killed people.  You're dangerous!
Suspect: No, I'm over it now.  See it was just "temporary" insanity.
Officer Carl: Oh, well no problem then.  Have a nice day!

Well, what if I told you there was an experience that would let you see how temporary insanity is possible.  It won't necessarily drive you actually crazy [3] but it will bring into stark contrast how even the most "sane" of us could lose it, if only for a short time.

And what is that experience you might ask?  Well, I'll tell you.  Here it is:


That's right parenting.

Don't get me wrong.  Being a parent [4] is wonderful.  It's more awesome in more ways than you can fathom.  However, there are days when your kids will just drive you insane.  When the older child is crying with runners of snot coming down his face because he doesn't like the food that he ate just fine the night before.  And then the younger one comes walking into the room carrying the next item in a procession of dangerous items that he seems to be able to summon out of thin air. [5]  Of course, taking this item from him will cause him to break down into tears worse than his brother.  Speaking of brother, the older one has decided to eat his food after all, but has someone managed to get it all over his face and stomach, as well as the majority of his side of the table. [6] Which in turn somehow causes the younger one to suddenly want the rest of his food, which he will now reach up onto the table for and spill everywhere on the floor.  Which causes the older one to start crying again because this spill got a solitary drop of pears on his shoe. [7] And while you go to get a rag, the younger one sees the Halloween candy bag and begins saying "I want a lollipop" over and over and over and over and over. [8]  Which causes the older one to declare that he's having candy for a snack.  And when you inform him that that won't be true unless he finishes his food, starts the crying [9] going again. Meanwhile the younger one has suddenly discovered that the trash can is once a again a source of wonderful treasures and suddenly you realize . . .

Temporary insanity.  Yeah, I can see that.

Temporary insanity: D-

[1] - I'm not being sexist here, it could just as easily be a man.
[2] - I've no specific reason to pick Wal-Mart, but honestly if you need a store to have someone suddenly kill a bunch of their fellow customers, I suspect many Wal-Mart shoppers could step up and do you proud.
[3] - But it might.
[4] - A father in my case, but having talked to the Pook, I can attest that it works the same for the mothers as well.
[5] - Alternately it could be the next in a succession of extremely fragile and expensive things that he like wise seems to be able to summon out of thin air.
[6] - Which you might expect from the two-year-old, but the big one is five now.
[7] - Which evidently is sacred and must remain clean, unlike the front of his shirt.
[8] - and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over.
[9] - And the snot

Monday, October 6, 2014

Two Conversations with the Boys

Two Conversations with the Boys:

Here are two stories about the young ‘uns.  The boys are both amazingly awesome, and they are both so very different from each other.  Since I haven’t mentioned them for the while, and to keep you up to date here are a few facts. 

The Bear, my oldest son, is now five. [1]  He’s in Kindergarten and is loving it.

His younger brother, the Bean, is now two and a half.  He’s an unintentional force of destruction, but that’s a story for another day.

Also I need to precursor this first story by saying that while the Bear is fairly smart for his age, and on any given day we are likely to have conversations about just about anything, I don’t believe I have ever talked about this type of thing with him and that I had neither done nor said anything before this conversation to prompt his comments.

While I was working in the front yard, the bear was riding his tricycle around.  Typically everything he does comes with a running monologue, so after an unusually long stretch of silence [2] I looked over to see what was going on.

He had stopped peddling and was sitting with his head slightly tilted to the side and a far off look in his eyes clearly deep in thought.  The following conversation ensued.

Me: What’s up, buddy?

Bear: Daddy?

Me: Yes?

Bear: When people don’t want something . . .

[Long dramatic pause as he finished gathering and organizing his thoughts]

Bear: . . . it costs less.

I have to admit that in the pause in his statement, I was wondering (and hoping) that he was about to make a comment along these lines.  I also have to admit that I was amazingly proud. [3]

I tried to ask him a few follow up questions to understand what had prompted the statement, but he wouldn’t really answer them and instead he just said he was “just thinking about it”. 

I admit that we do occasionally talk about the price of things, but only in the usual small child context of him wanting me to buy him something and me explaining that it’s too expensive.   And of course he hasn’t said anything else along those lines since.  [4]

On the flip side there is the Bean.  Since the Bear now goes to Kindergarten, morning trips to day care are just me and the Bean now.  Sometimes we listen to music [5], sometimes we sing our own songs [6], sometimes we look for things out in the world [7] and sometimes we have discussions of our own. 

Of course, during these conversations, I occasionally have no idea what it is he’s talking about.  I understand the words he’s saying, it’s just that he’s not the best at providing context [8]. While this isn’t strictly a conversation, the following is a good example. 

As is probably the norm for parents of small children, the back seat of my car tends to end up a hodge podge of toys, books, half eaten snack bits and other random detritus of childhood/parenthood.

Bean: I want that one.[9]

Me: What do you want?

Bean: That one.

Me: What is it?

Bean: That one.  I want it.

Me: What does it look like?

Bean: That one.

Me: [silence]

Bean [more emphatically]: Daddy, I want that one.

Me: And I want you to have it.  But you have to tell me more.  What is it that you want?

Bean: That one.

And so it goes, until finally I begin a list of random guesses of what I can remember being in the back seat.

Me: Do you want the pencil?

Bean: No.

Me: Your cup?

Bean: No.

Me: The lion pillow?

Bean: No.

Me: What do you want then?

Bean: That one.

Me: What color is it? [10]

Bean: That one.

Me [stealing a quick glance into the floorboard behind the passenger seat]: Is it the book?

Bean: No.

Me [stealing another look]: Is it the Froot Loop [11]

Bean: No

Me [relieved]: Is it the bracelet?

Bean: Okay!

He never says yes.  It’s always ‘okay’ and he always says it in the happiest most agreeable tone ever.  And it’s not like he doesn’t know all of the names for all of the other things I’ve guessed.  He just never says them.  I can only assume that it is just that for him this is how this conversation goes. [12]

I’ve tried lots of variations on this conversation, many gambits to help determine what it is he so desperately needs.  But they all end up the same way.

In truth lately when I ask something like, “can you tell me what it looks like?” there is a short period of “um, uh, er” coming from the back seat in which I start to think that we might actually be having a breakthrough and I might get some kind of helpful detail, but, so far my hopes have been dashed every time on the rocky shore of the inevitable next response: ‘That one’.

Two Conversations with the Boys:

The Bear: A+

The Bean: A+ [13]

[1] – He would want me to tell you that he is actually five and a half. 
[2] – Ten seconds would be unusually long, but in this case it was longer.
[3] – I guess Economics runs in the blood.
[4] – So I’ve held off for now on notifying the committee for the Nobel prize on Economics.
[5] - This is usually because a demanding voice from the back seat starts saying, “I want songs” over and over.
[6] – The ABC’s are at the top of the charts right now.  Bingo was there for a long time, which while repetitive in the extreme is worth it for the extreme cuteness of “Bingo was his nay-no.”
[7] – Letters, numbers and shapes most often.
[8] – Or nouns for that matter.
[9] - This unhelpfully will come with no pointing at all.  Not that I could really tell what he is pointing at anyway, since I’m usually busy driving during these exchanges. And if the car should be stopped, any request for him to point results in some comments, but ultimately no pointing.
[10] – This is truly an act of desperation as the Bean isn’t so good with his colors yet.  The only one he consistently gets is pink.  There are a handful of others he is about 50% on and the rest are completely a toss up.  Thus even if he should say a color, it doesn’t really mean that the item in question is that color.
[11] – Please don’t let it be the Froot Loop, that one single lone Froot Loop that has probably been back there for months and bears more in common with styrofoam than cereal at this point.
[12] – And I don’t think that he really enjoys these conversations either, at least that’s the feeling I get based on the sound of frustration in his voice.

[13] - Yes, these conversations can be frustrating, but I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Cereal Combinations

Cereal Combinations:

If you've been reading this blog for a while [1] you are aware that I have more than a passing fancy with cereal.

Since it is unlikely that you have ventured into the realm as much as I, here are some combinations involving cereal that you might not have thought to try:

1) Froot Loops and Cap'n Crunch: This combination occur earlier today because of two factors.  First, I wanted to finish off the box of Froot Loops that had been in the pantry forever and secondly because the Bear ate half the bowl that was left. [2]

Turns out it isn't that bad.  Actually, I would call it an improvement on both of the base cereals.  A problem with Froot Loops is that the flavor is overpowering.  With the Cap'n Crunch in their the flavor was diluted and quite enjoyable.  A problem with Cap'n Crunch is that it can tear up the roof of your mouth.  The presence of the Froot Loops eliminated this.

I suspect to get the best out of this combo you should mix the two cereals together first.

The resulting combo wasn't anything amazing and will likely be forgotten never to be eaten again, but there's one less box in the pantry and I enjoyed consuming it.

Froot Loops and Cap'n Crunch: B

2) Cocoa Krispies and Honey Smacks: Unlike the first entry, this is actually a combination that I intentionally eat from time to time.  It tastes best when you do not mix the two cereals but have a bottom layer of one and a top layer of the other.

In truth, I've had this enough times that I've come to realize that it actually matters which one is on the bottom and which is on top.  Unfortunately, I can never remember which goes where.  Right now my gut instinct [3] is telling me that the Krispies go on bottom and the Smacks on top.

You can also sub out the Honey Smacks for Golden Crisp.  Though Golden Crisp is a bit too sugary sweet for me and I don't prefer it.  And you can sub out the Cocoa Krispies for Cocoa Pebbles.  That swap gets you a slightly different taste that is just as good, but does subject you to the problem of Pebbles which is that they quickly turn to mushy paste in the bowl. [4]

The resulting combo is really good and different enough from the originals that it stand on its own.

Cocoa Krispies and Honey Smacks: A-

3) Frosted Flakes and any type Ice Cream:  It's possible you've ventured into the "cereal on top of ice cream" genre.  You almost [5] can't go wrong.  But in my vast experience, the king of ice cream toppers is Frosted Flakes.  Any variety of Frosted Flakes will do, but as previously stated, I prefer the Aldi brand. [6]

Granted I technically haven't put them on every type of ice cream in the world, so I can't testify that they will do much to help out your Pistachio Nut, [7]  but they are solid additions to the many varieties we frequently buy.

Frosted Flakes and any type of Ice Cream: A+

4) Grape-nuts combined with anything: Grape Nuts are guaranteed to completely have no effect when paired with anything else.  That is, as long as you leave the Grape Nuts off and just eat the other thing.  Because let's face it, as previously stated Grape Nuts are disgusting.

They might slightly improved the taste of a bowl full of cold poison, but I'll never know for sure.

Grape Nuts combined with Anything: F 

[1] - Or for just the last seven posts.
[2] - It is also the inspiration for this post.
[3] - Ha!
[4] - The solution is either eat really fast or eat half a bowl at a time.
[5] - Note the "almost".
[6] - Here is why.
[7] - But then I suspect nothing will.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Alien Resurrection (2003 Edition)

Alien Resurrection (2003 Edition):

There were five years between Alien 3 and this film.  The special effects took another jump forward. The plot took a huge leap backwards. [1]

The movie is in no way scary.  There was not one single time during the entire film that I felt the least twinge of fright. [2]

Honestly, I could go on and on about the things that sucked in this movie, but I'll spare you.

Just trust me.

Fine, you don't trust me.  Here are three of the many reasons you should trust me when I tell you this movie is bad.

The actors: we've got Warrick from CSI and Nick Tortelli from Cheers.

The acting [3]: Did I mention Tortelli from cheers?

The plot: Have you ever surfed around the net and found some film made by a second year theater major who wanted to make a movie using the names and ideas from his favorite group of books or movies, but he couldn't because the studio would sue him?  So instead he changes all of the names and places and things just enough to avoid getting sued.  And as you are watching this film, in whatever backwater of the web you found it in, you think, "Well, it's not so bad given where it's come from."

Well I imagine that is what happened with this movie.  Only the studio, instead of suing for copyright infringement, gave them several million for special effects [4]

If you somehow end up watching this movie and you're getting close to the end and you think, "Well, it wasn't that bad."  Just wait until you get to see Ripley and the Alien queen's love child.  You will regret the choices that brought you there. I do so declare.

The special 2003 edition is not changed from the original theater version.  At least that is what the director, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, says at the front of the movie.  Though he also says that he saw no reason to make a 'directors cut' because the movie shown in the theaters in '97 was the movie he wanted to make. [5]  Which given all of the other movies he's directed ought to mean it's gonna be good.  But it isn't. [6]

Alien Resurrection: D- [7]

[1] - There is clearly an inverse relationship between quality of spfx and quality of the movie when it comes to the Alien oeuvre.
[2] - Unless you count the disquiet I felt when about a half hour in I realized I was going to have to suffer through the rest of the pic.
[3] - Or should I say the over acting?
[4] - And for Weaver and Ryder.
[5] - Which I take to mean he's proud of it.
[6] - I wonder if he thought it was supposed to be a comedy? Amelie was a great movie.
[7] - Overall, the spfx are pretty good. That's got to count for something? Right?

Friday, July 11, 2014

Alien 3 (2003 Directors Cut)

Alien 3 (2003 Directors Cut):

The third movie in the series and a third director.  And also a third type of movie.

As previously stated in my posts on Alien and Aliens:

Alien (directed by Ridley Scott) is a sci-fi horror movie.

Aliens (directed by James Cameron) is a sci-fi action adventure/war movie.

Alien 3 (directed by David Fincher) is essentially a sci-fi art flick (with an alien that's trying to kill everyone.) [1]

It is once again noticeable immediately.  From the beginning much care is given to how each shot looks.  The sets are big and elaborate and rusty. [2] There's rain and steam and fog, which aren't used so much to hide the monster, but to make it all look just so.

We're back down to only one alien, but there's no real attempt to establish the horror aspect of the first movie.  And there are zero guns. [3]

There's plenty of running around and dying.  The monster is plenty nasty. [4]  But the plot and the director are more interested in the morality tale and the well shot visuals than the action or horror.

I remember when this movie came out a lot of people were kind of disappointed in it. A fact born out by the fact that on this film rates a full two points lower than the first two films.  And I can understand people's disappointment.  This film is not its predecessors, but then the second film wasn't the same as the first.

If you watch it realizing that.  If you watch it on its own merits, I think it is just as good as the other two.

For the record, six years had passed since the second movie was made and the spfx have jumped forward again.  We once again get to see half an android talking and this time it looks pretty awesome. Not much to say on what the computers and other technology look like, since it takes place on a prison planet and that's pretty much what it looks like.

Alien 3: A-

[1] - But in an arty way.
[2] - Seriously rusty.
[3] - Until the very end when the "rescue" ship shows up.
[4] - Though it now has a sort of bovine aspect to it because of its initial host.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Aliens (2003 Director's Cut)

Aliens (2003 Director's Cut):

Aliens originally came out in 1986, which is just seven short years from Alien, the original film, but it might as well have been the fifty-seven years Ripley was asleep because that is how different these two films are.

As I said in the last post, Alien is a horror movie.  It's dark and scary and creepy and did I mention scary.  Aliens is an action movie.  It's got space marines [1] and they have lots and lots of firepower. This isn't seven people stuck on a spaceship trying to hide from the monster.  This is a straight up war between the good guys and the bad.

Really everything you need to know can be seen in the two opening titles.  In Alien, there is a painstakingly slow crawl across space during which bits of something slowly, oh so slowly appear. Until finally it's all there and you see the title, ALIEN. [2]

In Aliens, there is some fuzzy blue light and then very quickly it resolves in the title, ALIENS.  But the whole thing is done in 1/20th the time. [3]

Don't get me wrong, I like this movie a lot.  In fact, I've seen it many more times than the first one. Probably in part because they show it on TV much more often, but also because it is more fun to watch.  It's not scary, scary boogums.  It's guns and explosions.

A big part of the difference in the movies is just the number of aliens.  In the first movie there is one alien.  You never get to see it clearly.  It could be anywhere.  It's terrifying.  In the second movie, there are hundreds of the aliens.  You see them, if not clearly, more clearly.  And while they are everywhere, they are just the "bad guys" of the film.  They don't really have any more power or coolness then any other nasty from any other us verses them film. [4]

The special effects in the second movie are also worlds better.  Many advances were made in the seven years between the two films.  The spaceship shots, while still clearly models in some shots, most of the time look great.  The computers and technology in the world and on the ships, while still not "modern" looking are much better than the TRS-80's [5] the first movie was using.

Even the painful fake head from the first movie is improved upon.  Granted in this movie there is half android [6] but it looks so much better.

In watching this Director's Cut, I could definitely see where things were added.  Most of it was fine and I liked the addition.  However, the early scenes with the colonists find the space ship and such were really not needed and took away from the whole.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying the movie doesn't have its tension but it's just not the horror movie creepiness of the original.  Which is fine by me.

Also, while it's way crueler than my statement about leaving the cat behind in Alien.  Sorry Newt, but if it was me, there's no way I'm going down into that nest to get you.

Aliens: A

[1] - And that should tell you everything you need to know.
[2] - Just like the movie.  There's something out there.  What is it?  Can you see it?  Oh dear god!
[3] -  Just like this movie.  There's something wrong! It's Aliens. Let's start shooting.
[4] - Don't get me wrong, they still bleed acid and can bite your brain out of your skull, but in the end that's no different than bad soldiers who throw grenades and fire machine guns.  Either way you are dead.
[5] - Or is that too obscure a reference?
[6] - Sorry, artificial human.
[7] - I mentioned this in the Alien post, but I didn't see a clean way to talk about it in this one.  So here's a long footnote.  Aliens was the first rated R movie that I ever saw in the theater.  It came out before April in 1986.  I know this because I was only 15 when I saw it and I turned 16 in April of that year.  I had not yet seen the original and I went with my older brother and a friend of his.  I had no idea what to expect.  Anyway, the funny part of the story is that we all bought our tickets separately. My older brother, who is six years older got carded to get into the movie.  They didn't ask me for ID at all.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Alien (2003 Director's Cut)

Alien (2003 Director's Cut):

I got the Alien Anthology for Christmas or my birthday a couple of years ago and for one reason or another I haven't had a chance to watch it since then. [1]  Well, I finally managed to watch it.

The movie came out in 1979, the directors cut came out in 2003 and it is now 2014.  This version starts with Ridley Scott, talking for just a second saying he is proud of the film and that he had added some new footage that had never been seen before and changed a few things that needed fixing.

I never saw the original Alien in the theater, which really isn't surprising as I was nine at the time. In fact I didn't see Alien until after I had seen Aliens. [2]  Since then, I would guess that I have seen the original movie maybe three times (not counting today's viewing).  I've not seen the film enough times to be considered an expert on it, but I didn't see anything that stuck out as new or substantially different.

The Alien movies are supposedly 'sci-fi' movies, but let's be realistic.  The four movies are not all of the same genre.  The later three are more of what you would consider a sci-fi action movie.  The first one is a straight up horror movie.  Sure it's set in space and in the future, but don't kid yourself.

The movie holds up pretty good even though it is now thirty-five years old.  The special effects are pretty dated in some places. [3]  The computer systems on the ship are laughably low-tech, but I suppose in 1979 they were cutting edge.  The shots of the ship flying in space are pretty bad, but the real loser of the spfx is when they reactivate Ash's head so that they can talk to him.  The detached head they manipulate and the talking head [4] are not even close to similar.  Actually, I can remember thinking the same thing the first time I saw the movie in the late 80's.

The super secret computer interface room that only the captain is allowed to go into is kind of dorky too.  It's got eight million blinking lights on the walls that would serve zero purpose.  I wish they had just made that room dark and spooky like the rest of the movie. [5]

Anyway, as for the rest of the movie, as previously stated, it's scary.  Really scary.  Super duper scary. [6]

They do a great job of never really letting you see the alien monster clearly.  It's always around a corner, or there's bad lighting or there's steam everywhere.  Occasionally you get a clear look at an arm  and and it's obvious that it's a man in a suit, but those fleeting moments don't make you feel much better.

As I said, I've seen it enough times to know what happens and it's still a nail biter.

Other things that stand out for me are:

- Awesome cast including: Sigourney Weaver and Yaphet Kotto. [7]
- I like that they bothered to make the alien ship in Prometheus very similar if not identical to the one from this movie. [8]
- I've also always liked how the Alien monster was super drooly. [9]

Finally, let me just say that if I was on a space ship and there was a monster running around killing everyone, the cat better get its own butt into the escape pod, because I will straight up leave its butt behind.

Now excuse me while I go watch something nice and safe.  Maybe a musical or a kid's movie.

Alien (2003 Director's Cut): A

[1] - Mainly it's because, if the Bear and the Bean are around there's no chance I'm watching it and the Pook isn't a fan either.
[2] - Which I did see in the theater, but we'll save that for another day.
[3] - Pretty dated is a nice way of saying really old looking.
[4] - Which is just the actor sticking his head through a board.
[5] - There are some other spfx moments that fall short (like the stiff unbending baby alien), but really they are not that bad and again, this was 1979.
[6] - Especially when you are watching it alone because everyone else in the house is in Tennessee.
[7] - He's awesome.  Homocide: Life on the Streets anyone?
[8] - Prometheus still sucks in the plot department, but it's a nice bit of continuity.
[9] - Don't ask me why.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014



Our country seems obsessed with coffee.  There is a coffee house on every corner and many times there's another between those.  The Pook loves the stuff. [1]  You can find it every where.  If a business only gives away one free drink you can bet that drink is coffee.  You get it free when you stay at a hotel, get your oil changed or talk to just about any type of professional.  The bulk of half an aisle in every large grocery stores is devoted to the stuff and yet I think it tastes like sewage.

It's just straight up nasty.

And please don't write me and try to sway me to join the coffee legion with one of these lines:

"But if you tried brand X coffee you would like it."

"You've got to prepare it right.  If you put enough Y and Z in it, it is [insert your favorite high praise adjective here]."

"It's an acquired taste."

Please, do me a favor. [2]

I've tried coffee many times.  It's so prevalent in society that every few years I thinks to myself, "Maybe it's changed.  Maybe I've changed.  I'll try it again."  So I do and then I spend the next five minutes shuddering.

I've tried lots of brands, styles and flavors.  They all smell wonderful.  That's the nasty trick of coffee. It smells divine.  If you catch me when I'm pushing the buggy down that aisle in Publix you'll see me breathing deeply.  The aroma is just so good.

Then you taste it.  If you get a good brand, or a one that has good flavors, that first second can be pretty good, even down right tasty.  Then the back end of the flavor hits your taste buds and it tastes like, to steal a phrase from the Pook, "liquid butt." [3]

Long ago before coffee was everywhere, they used to make coffee flavored ice cream that wasn't actually made with coffee.  If I had to guess, I would say it probably had as much to do with coffee as a hand grenade.  Anyway, that ice cream tasted like the first half of the flavor of coffee.  I rather enjoyed that ice cream.

Now, in the interest of authenticity, coffee flavored ice cream is made with real coffee and thus includes the horrible bad taste that comes after the good. [4]

So to all of you who swear I would like it if I just tried Brand X, unless your coffee is made with something other than coffee, don't waste my time.

As for the, 'you've got to prepare it right' people, I've heard this one many times too.  Someone once told me this, "If you put enough cream and sugar in it, you can hardly taste the coffee."  If you've got to add enough other things to mask the drink's flavor, why are you drinking it?

But just so we're 100% clear here, even if your "cup of coffee" is actually half cream and a quarter sugar, you may completely kill off the first 'good' half of the flavor of coffee, but that nasty after taste is always still there.

And if you are drinking it for the caffeine, in this day and age there are plenty of other better tasting places to get your fix.

Last we come to the "It's an acquired taste."

What kind of stupid argument is that?

I'm willing to bet earthworms, mountain oysters and pickled dung are acquired tastes too, but I don't see too many people doing what it takes to become a fan of them on Facebook.

Why force yourself to drink something that you think tastes bad just so one day you can fool your brain into liking it?

I know.  I know.  I'm in the minority here.  The planet's already been brainwashed and coffee is king. Long live the king.  Just don't expect me drink it.

Coffee: D+ [5]

[1] - Not quite as much as me, but it seems a close second at times.
[2] - Not really, it's a British phrase.
[3] - It's how she describes grapefruit.
[4] - Oh well, I'll stick with mint chocolate chip.  The kind with the big chips if you please.
[5] - The smell keeps me from giving it an "F".

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Are You My Mother?

Are You My Mother? (P.D. Eastman):  I've always liked this book and recently have been reading it more, so I thought I would share some of the observations I have accumulated over the years.

First off, yes this is a Dr. Seuss book.  We had lots of Dr. Seuss books growing up and the Bear and the Bean [1] have the beginnings of a sizable collection of their own.

This one was not written by Seuss, but instead by Eastman who also wrote "Go Dog Go!"  Another classic and another one we read quite often.

Anyway on to the grading and comments [2]:

The cover: Simple enough cover.  Personally, I always liked the dog on the cover.  Much more than the bird.  Since the dog is only on four-ish [3] pages, I always felt I was kind of cheated by the implicit promise made by his appearing on the front.

The story itself starts on page three and let me just jump right in to the controversy and say that from the beginning it is abundantly clear that the egg the mother bird is sitting on is clearly not hers.  I realize that the baby bird that hatches later looks a lot like her, but nevertheless it cannot be hers.  Compare the size of the egg to the mother bird. [Picture] The egg is larger than the mother's entire torso.  There is simply no way that egg came out of that bird.  Trying to contemplate it brings up images from Stephen King's Dreamcatcher. [4]  And forget about trying to imagine what she looked like just prior to laying it.

From here the plot moves on with the baby falling out of his nest and going in search of his mom.  There's a few pages spent getting him moving and then we begin the meat of the story in which he runs into a variety of things and questions if they are his mother.

The first encounter is with a kitten. The kitten doesn't say anything.  Which is fine as it is very cute and just a kitten.  Except then you realize that this bird is literally minutes old and can already talk.  The kitten is clearly days, if not weeks, old.  Why doesn't it talk?  I've decided it is stunned into silence by the sudden appearance of lunch and immobilized by the variety of choices it has on how to consume it. Alternately, perhaps its giant staring eyes are meant to imply that it simply isn't that bright. [5] Whatever the answer the presence of the kitten gives the Bean plenty of opportunity to show off his meowing prowess.

Up next is a hen.  I've no real problems with the bird, except perhaps disappointed at its one word response.  The Bean has no real idea what a chicken should sound like and if you make some chicken noises for him he laughs in a way that implies he thinks you are completely off your nut.

Now the dog makes his big appearance. [6]  I've decided the dog's voice sounds like a civil war era southern gentleman named Beauregard. [7]

There's a recap of the birds adventure so far and then he come to a cow.  The cow clearly sounds like a snobbish, over weight, socialite dressed in a skirt suit and pearls in a tea room in Manhattan. [8]  I've no problem with the cow, though it is at this point you realize that this bird lives in a very brown world.  Besides a touch of yellow here and there and some even rarer splashes of red, everything in this world is the exact same shade of brown.  Bird, kitten, hen, dog, cow, tree, nest, rocks, shadows, etc, etc, are all the same color.  It is a depressing universe.

Now the baby bird begins to have a crisis of identity and we start to see just exactly who he is. [9]  Mentally pulling himself up by the bootstraps [10] he moves on in earnest and comes to the wreckage of an old car. We should note that the car is the first thing to not be mostly brown, but is instead yellow.  As a child this car always made me kind of sad.  I felt bad that it was left here abandoned and useless.  As if to point this out to the reader, in later recaps when the bird lists the things that are not his mother, the car is never mentioned.

The baby bird then meets a boat and an airplane, which have red highlights [11]. Neither are his mother, but they do finally let us begin to see just what voice this bird has.  It is clear that the role of the bird should be read with as much drama and pathos as possible.  He speaks like a Shakespearean actor trying, with the limited dialogue he has, to break the hearts of everyone who hears his plight and stir in our breasts raw emotion. [12]

The drama continues as the baby bird has his last encounter.  It is a steam shovel [13], which the bird names a 'Snort' after the noise the machine makes.  When he was younger the Bear loved to read this book except for this part.  He would actually try to get me to skip these pages because he was clearly frightened by the 'Snort' [14].

The baby bird is then saved as the shovel deposits him back into his own nest.  Only this brings up another problem with the text.  This bird has traveled quite some distance at this point.  He has passed four different animals and a wrecked car.  He's peered down into a deep valley at a boat on a river and then moved on to stare up at a plane in the sky.  Finally moving on to encounter the shovel.  He started out walking and after the cow he was running and yet, somehow, the operator of the Snort knows where he came from and where he needs to be returned to.

Is the shovel's operator the most eagle eyed person on the planet?  Able to spot small birds falling out of nests half a mile or more away?  It just doesn't seem possible.

More likely, I believe we are to assume that the baby bird has not been travelling in a straight line. Instead he has been spiraling outward from the tree passing by various things that ultimately are not what he thinks they are in a kind of "I am the Cheese" journey.  Such that by the time he meets the Snort he is still only mere feet from his starting point.  Who knows maybe the Snort is not a steam shovel at all [15] or maybe the bird never left the nest at all and the entire journey was a flight of fancy.

The book ends with the baby bird back in his nest just in time for his mother, who has been oblivious to the entire journey [16], to return with the baby's first meal.  She asks him if he knows who she is and armed with his newly earned knowledge, the baby proudly lists off everything that she isn't.  And having discerned all that, and despite never having anyone tell him or even use the word, he declares she is a bird and his mother. [17]

Despite the flaws in the book mentioned above, I, and the boys, still do enjoy it tremendously and I hope you will too.

Are You My Mother?: A

[1] - In case you've forgotten, go here, though the post is two years old now, it at least will let you know who is who.
[2] - In some cases I've found pictures of some of the pages online.  Here are links to two sites with several for those not fortunate enough to own this piece of classic literature.  Here and here.
[3] - The tip of his tail is on one page.  Not sure if that really counts.
[4] - Technically I've never seen the movie as I heard it was awful, but I've seen several previews so I'm pretty sure what happens in the book happens in the movie.  (For what it's worth, I thought the book was pretty good.)
[5] - Or maybe I'm reading too much into it.
[6] - Big being a relative term.  He only has two lines, but hey it's better than the chicken.
[7] - It's obvious from the text.
[8] - Also very obvious from the text.
[9] - More on that later.
[10] - Not pictured, but if they were they would be brown.
[11] - Clearly living things are brown.  Old worthless machines are yellow and useful functioning ones are red.
[12]This is particularly evident on page 42.  His cries to the plane of "Here I am, Mother!" should evoke images of the likes of Lawrence Olivier or Orson Welles spotlighted left of center stage, surrounded by darkness, on his knees, one arm reached up into the sky, the other clenched at his chest as he cries out in emotional pain.
[13] - Similar to an excavator, but not the same.  Also note how the machine is a combination of red, brown and yellow.  Given our previous color scheme, is it alive or machine?  Is it useful or used up?  It is all these and none of them.  It is a monster and as the book reveals, it is also a savior.
[14] - Which I never did.  Man up, son.
[15] - Perhaps it is a metaphor for how technology can help us realize our goals.
[16] - There is a comment to be made here about the bird/nut not falling far from the tree, but I'll let you make it on your own.
[17] - It occurs to me that perhaps I have misread the text and this last page is actually the lynch pin.  Perhaps the books is meant to be commentary on the self and identity.  A sort of Freudian/Nietzsche-ian dialogue on the id.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Cereal: Aldi vs the Name Brands

Cereal: Aldi vs the Name Brands:

I have previously talked about how much I love cereal. [1]

And I suspect at some point I will talk about how much I like the store Aldi. [2]

One of the many things I like about Aldi is that there store brand is often as good, if not better, than the name brands.  This is very true with their cereals.

Aldi cereals are boxed under the name: Millville. [3]

I have, naturally, tried many of these and now I present to you a face-off between the Aldi brands and their name brand counterparts. [4]

Kid's Crunch vs Cap'n Crunch (Quaker): Just so you don't think this is going to be a completely one sided review, I figured I start with this one.  To put it bluntly, I think a bowl of Styrofoam would be better.  This stuff was flavorless and texturally was like Cap'n Crunch which had gotten soggy, dried out and then went stale. [5]  There is a peanut butter version of Kid's Crunch, but I don't really like the peanut butter version of Cap'n Crunch, so you won't catch me trying it.

The Verdict: Quaker is the clear winner.

Honey Crunch 'n Oats vs Honey Bunches of Oats (Post):  I think that there are two Aldi versions of this one, as compared to the six hundred versions of the Post cereal. [6]  The Aldi versions don't taste exactly like the Post cereals but they taste just as good in their own way.  Also the Aldi versions don't have quite as many oat clusters. [7]

The Verdict: A tie.

Frosted Flakes vs Frosted Flakes (Kellogg's): If you hadn't noticed before the name "Frosted Flakes" is not actually copyrighted. So everybody tends to have their own version.  I'm a big fan of the frosted flakes, despite the fact that they go soggy in milk very quickly.  Well the Aldi version slightly solves that by coating each flake in ten pounds of sugar.  This makes them oh so much better. [8]  And just like the Kellogg's version the flake part gets all stuck up in your teeth.

The Verdict: Aldi wins

Chocolate Frosted Flakes vs Frosted Flakes: Choco Zucaritas (Kellogg's): The Kellogg's version used to be called Frosted Flakes Chocolate with Choco Zucaritas in smaller writing underneath, but while you weren't watching they dropped the word Chocolate all-together.  Last summer (2013) there was an Aldi version.  It was probably the noisiest cereal ever invented [9] Nevertheless it was very good.  I am sad that they have not yet brought it back.

The Verdict: Aldi wins

Crispy Oats vs Cheerios (General Mills): The Aldi version isn't bad, but it isn't very good either.

The Verdict: General Mills wins

Honey Nut Crispy Oats vs Honey Nut Cheerios (General Mills): Every once in a while I get a hankering for Honey Nut Cheerios.  If I'm lucky I can satisfy it away from home, because if I buy a box, I eat one bowl and then it sits on the shelf until it goes stale.  The Aldi version tastes effectively the same but the O's are much harder and crunchier.  Which I actually think is a positive.  And I spend less money as it sits on the shelf going bad.

The Verdict: Aldi wins.

Apple Cinnamon Crispy Oats vs Apple Cinnamon Cheerios (General Mills): Aldi used to stock this on a regular basis.  It came in the same cases as the Honey Nut version, but I guess it didn't sell as well because they no longer make it.  To me it tasted better than the the Cheerios version and it was also much harder and crunchier.  Which was even more of a positive in this case.

The Verdict: Aldi wins.

Peanut Butter Cocoa Puffs vs Reese's Puffs (General Mills): Reese's Puffs are pretty tasty, but the Aldi version are just a bit more coated in the peanut butter goodness.  Besides making them taste better, it also makes them just a bit heavier.  Also, they actually retain the milk inside themselves better than Reese's Puffs.

The Verdict: Aldi wins handily.

Fruit Rounds vs Froot Loops (Kellogg's): Remember how I said the Kid's Crunch was kind of like flavorless Styrofoam?  Well they take the stuff that was too flavorful for the Kid's Crunch and use it to make the Fruit Rounds.  Blaaaagh!

The Verdict: Kellogg's win easily [10]

Marshmallows and Stars vs Lucky Charms (General Mills): The cereal bits are bad. The marshmallows are gross.  About the only good thing about this cereal is that it comes packaged in a box that fits easily into your trash can.

The Verdict: General Mills wins decisively.

Aldi Raisin Bran vs Kellogg's Raisin Bran vs Post Raisin Bran: This is another example of a cereal name that isn't copyrighted.  All three are pretty good.  Not something I go to on a regular basis.  [11]  Of the three I like the Kellogg's version the best.

The Verdict: Kellogg's wins by a nose [12]

Crunchy Granola Raisin Bran vs Raisin Bran Crunch (Kellogg's): Again both of the cereals are fine.  But the Aldi version's flakes are tastier and crunchier.

The Verdict: Aldi wins

Cinnamon Crunch Squares vs Cinnamon Toast Crunch (General Mills): The Aldi version has more powdery cinnamon and sugar on it.  This makes it a little more toothsome [13].  Either are fine, but we go through a lot of the Aldi version in our house.

The Verdict: Aldi wins.

Corn Squares/Rice Squares vs Corn Chex/Rice Chex (Quaker): All of them test nearly the same.  The Aldi versions are even harder to tell apart.  The Aldi versions are also just a bit less solid.  This gives a slight edge to the Chex.

The Verdict: Quaker Wins.

There are actually a lot of other Aldi versions of cereals but as they are versions of name brand cereals that I don't eat in the first place, I've never bothered to try them.

Looking at the results it seems like you've got about a 50% chance that an Aldi Millville cereal will be better than name brand version and since the Aldi versions are much cheaper, I never feel bad about trying them out and then if they suck, throwing them away.

[1] - You can read it here
[2] - Perhaps the future version of myself can come back and put that link here.
[3] - Any similarity to the name 'General Mills' is entirely coincidental. I'm sure.
[4] - Presented, mostly, in the order I thought of them.
[5] - If that's even possible.
[6] - And that is only a slight exaggeration.
[7] - Which might be an issue for you, but wasn't for me.
[8] - I also highly recommend them poured onto ice cream.
[9] - With the obvious exception of the tooth shattering Grape Nuts.
[10] - And hopefully the Fruit Rounds die.
[11] - If you need your colon cleared out any of the three will do you proud.
[12] - Or should I have said by a scoop?
[13] - If I can say that without sounding too pompous.

Monday, June 9, 2014

RC Cola

RC Cola: I know what you are thinking.  RC Cola?  Who even sells [1] that stuff any more?

I just finished spending a week in Cincinnati and at the end of the week I was lucky enough to go see game 5 of the Kelly Cup [2] playoffs.  Strangely when I went to get a drink at the concession stand at the U.S. Bank Arena [3] I was confronted with an unexpected set of choices.  There was no Coke. There was no Pepsi.  There was only RC.

In case you don't know RC Cola stands for Royal Crown Cola and actually has a pretty interesting back story.

If, like me, you were asked to name a cola that started in Georgia, the only possible answer would be Coca-Cola.  But RC Cola also started here. [4]  In 1903 Claud Hatcher's grocery store was selling a sizable amount of Coke and thought that his orders to Coca-Cola were large enough that he deserved a discount.  Coke disagreed and Hatcher cancelled his orders to Coke and told them they would regret it.  He then went into the basement of his store and developed his own beverage and the name of that product was: Royal Crown Ginger Ale. [5]

He went on to develop a couple of other flavors as well [6] before finally getting around to creating RC Cola.  Though I'm not sure that Coke ever got around to regretting not giving Hatcher a discount, Hatcher did manage to make what is basically the ignored third wheel in the cola wars. [7]

The RC line does have a few highlights in it.  They were the first company to sell soda in a can.  And they were also the first to sell soda in an aluminum can.  The Pook was a big fan of Diet Rite for a while, but that was when it was one of the few colas to be made with Splenda. [8]  For me you can't do much better than the commercials for RC 100. [9]  The commercials had lots of things with numbers on them shrinking down to zero (a bathroom scale being the one I remember best).  Anyway, it was catchy enough that to this day it doesn't take much to get me to start singing the whole thing. [10]

As for the actual RC Cola?

It pretty much starts out mostly flat and finishes the journey in record time.  I only drank half of mine at the hockey game.

RC Cola: C-

[1] - Never mind buys
[2] - That's the ECHL championship.  Yes I realize it is minor league hockey and yes I realize that I could have seen the actual Stanley cup playoffs the same night, but the Stanley Cup was on TV and this was live.
[3] - Home of the Cincinnati Cyclones.
[4] - In Columbus Georgia to be specific.
[5] - Yeah, I didn't see that coming either.
[6] - Strawberry and Root Beer
[7] - It's kind of like if Cain and Abel had a third brother named Brian that really didn't ever do anything of note and thus wasn't mentioned.
[8] - She quit buying it once Coke released Diet Coke w/ Splenda.  (Ooh, twist the knife.)
[9] - I never actually drank the soda.
[10] - RC 100's got nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing.  No sugar and no caffeine.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Paramore - Paramore

Paramore (by Paramore):

I previously talked about Paramore's first album Riot! some time ago.  If you are interested in that post it's here: Paramore: Riot!. [1]  Somewhere between now and then I got one of Paramore's other albums  [2] but wasn't nearly so struck with it as their first.  And lo time did pass.

This year for my birthday, I happened to get their latest album, which is self-titled.

Riot! was an album that grabbed you with it's punk/emo hands and shook you about [3] and didn't let up until it was good and ready.  It made no promise to be anything other than that and it came through on that promise beautifully.

Well, this Paramore is not that Paramore.

But wait!  That is a good thing.

The new album has already made it completely through twice during my daily driving and when I leave home in about an hour, it will begin its third. [4]

The music on the CD is as varied as . . . something that's really varied. [5]  There are still plenty of good punk/emo songs that you hear and can instantly see the connection back to Riot! [6]  But there are a lot of other great songs that come from places so very very different.

To give you two examples:

"Ain't It Fun" is the sixth song on the album and it sounds like it came directly off an early Michael Jackson CD.

The thirteenth song is "Hate To See Your Heart Break" and it sounds so much like a Fleetwood Mac song, that when I got home today I actually checked the CD's liner notes to see if the names Nicks, Buckingham, McVie or Fleetwood appeared anywhere. [7]

Just in case I haven't been clear enough, all of this is a very good thing.  The album has quirky interludes and a general theme that bring it all together and tie it all up in a very neat bow and in the end it is all still so very punk and so very Paramore.

Paramore: A-

[1] - Though I have to say having just reread the post, it doesn't really thrill me (the post, not the CD).
[2] - For the record it was Brand New Eyes
[3] - In a good way
[4] - Which is a good sign and usually doesn't happen.
[5] - Yes, I realize that is exceedingly weak sauce.
[6] - I know that they have a CD from before Riot!, but I don't have it, so I can't really comment on it.
[7] - They don't.