Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Rundown: Countdown to Victoria

Now that we've found a place and confirmed moving dates with the the guys who are hauling our stuff to the island, all that is left to do is pack and think about all the things I'm looking forward to with this move to Victoria.

While I'm certainly going to miss aspects of life here in Kimberley, the simple truth of the matter is that despite my one year sabbatical to the quiet outdoors of British Columbia, I'm a city boy at heart and Victoria has more of what I'm looking for.

What are those things? Keep reading because they're the topic of today's Rundown.

Top 5 Things I'm Looking Forward to About Victoria

I don't think I can say this enough - I love sushi!

As much as the drive to Fernie makes for a nice evening out with the wife, spending three hours in the car to enjoy my favorite food just isn't worth it. Instead of having sushi once in a blue moon, we'll be able to walk around the corner and pick up dinner whenever we want.

Fast food will be a thing of the past; sushi will replace all on-the-fly meals and that is absolutely awesome.

This may sound silly to some, but since we aren't at the "having kids" stage of life, Cool Hand Luke gets treated like our child and everyone wants their kids to have friends.

With this move, the little puggy bastard will have a built in best friend right upstairs. The little ball of energy will be able to hop out into our fenced backyard and hang out with Chili, our landlord's pug.

While we'll certainly still play "The Bite Game" and go for some marathon walks to tire him out, it's going to be real nice to just open the door and let him expend some energy without having to stop everything to entertain the dog.

In addition to making a long weekend out of the UFC's proposed trip to Vancouver this coming summer, Victoria is home to Armageddon Fighting Championships.

Being able to get out and cover events in person will be a great way for me to continue my development as an MMA writer and foster some new relationships within the industry.

Maybe the newspaper will be interested in having someone cover these events for them...

I love my jobs and I want the same for my wife.

Right now, she hates work and it's making her question her chosen career path. That makes me angry.

Hopefully, this move to a bigger and better hospital with actual opportunities for growth and improvement, not to mention support and stronger management, will result in a renewed faith in her abilities as a nurse and a long and fruitful career of helping others.

Shopping. Restaurants. Museums. Movie Theatres.

Nothing personal Kimberley, but having a choice between buying my clothes at Wal-Mart, Zellers or Superstore just doesn't cut it for me.

I need a place with malls and stores and more than four restaurants and a big-ass movie theatre that shows all the new movies and museums and Chapters and Starbucks...

You get the point.

Continue reading ...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

It's Official...

Victoria, here we come!

While the move was official a couple weeks ago when Sarah secured a job, you can never be 100% until you find a place to call home and over the last 18 hours, we've done just that.

If I may say so myself, it's going to be awesome.


For starters there are two bedrooms, which means world headquarters of ESKimo Enterprises will exist in their own separate space, as opposed being situated in the living room.

It's on the ground floor with a fenced backyard, so late night pee breaks for a certain hyper-active pug will involve opening a door instead of dragging my lazy ass off the couch for a stroll in the darkness.

We're not too far from Sarah's new hospital, there are a number of restaurant / pubs in the area where I can drop off resumes and our landlords, who will be living upstairs, seem absolutely great.

But the best part of all... they have a pug!

While Sarah and I will still have to work on making friends, Luke will have a built-in playmate and sparring partner right upstairs in the form of his new pal Chili.

There were certainly some other option, but this one just made the most sense, being in town and close to everything we want and need, including sushi.

Chili was the clincher.

I just hope he and Luke get along, although two pugs wrestling it out for ownership of the backyard could make for an awful cute YouTube video down the road...

Continue reading ...

Monday, September 28, 2009

Monday Morning Soapbox Moment

This is going to stray from the normal humor-injected ramblings that take place here on iBlog and venture more into the "angry man who doesn't understand the world" area.

You've been warned...

With my wife working in the medical field and being around constant shortages of care, budget cuts and finger-wagging about overtime, we've spent a lot of time discussing the allocation of finances a great deal and d'you know what?

We're screwed.

Hospitals can't find enough nurses to staff floors because they're all stressed, tired of working above capacity and having no help.

Schools have more and more students with fewer and fewer teachers, classrooms growing to the size of poorly attended university lectures.

But we've got a bunch of helicopters at the ready should anyone ever invade Canada!

While I understand both Canada and the United States' actions in propping up the automotive industry with billion dollar bailout loans, what kind of message does that send to nurses who spend every day trying to save lives or teachers who try to educate overstuffed classrooms of children?

Sorry, there is no money to better equip and staff your hospital, but we can dump a load of money into the car industry because they bring in a whack of cash each year. Saving lives is great, but if you could start producing a profit too, that would be even better.

We can't provide housing and care for the homeless, but millions can be spent in and around Vancouver so that for three weeks this coming winter, everyone can look and see the ridiculously expensive new buildings and roads and venues cost money that surely could have been better used elsewhere.

Yeah - that makes perfect sense, especially when you couple it with the recent push to get the homeless off the street.

The push isn't "let's find them places to live, help them get back on their feet and doing better" either. This is a "find anywhere you can to keep them out of sight until we give you the signal" type initiative to present the false image that Vancouver is a glorious place without the same problems that every major metropolitan area is plagued with.

There are millions of dollars to give the city a faux-shine, but not a dime for after-school programs to help keep kids active and off the streets.

Maybe we could start giving those kids rides in all the army vehicles we seem to build and produce each and every year?

Or we could just take a better look at where we're spending our money.

Continue reading ...

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Things I Learned This Week

1. C'mon End of October
As much as I hate moving, this move can't get here fast enough.

Simply put, I'm over it here. Not that I won't miss certain people and the beautiful surroundings, but I need a city.

I need a place where people go out to eat for lunch and the guy who is stuck working during the day can actually earn some money.

And I need sushi.

2. Newspapers Don't Return Emails
Or at least not unsolicited emails from people telling them they need to improve their MMA coverage.

Between the Victoria Times-Colonist, the National Post and the Globe and Mail, you would think that one of them would at least send a "Thanks for you input, we'll be in touch" type email, knowing that if I'm willing to cold email two of the biggest newspapers in the country, a response email would make me do cartwheels.

Alas, no cartwheels this week; guess all that "slow and steady" advice I've been getting is the way I'm going to have to go.
3. Another Shining Moment for the US Justice System
Plaxico Burress started serving his two-year sentence for shooting himself earlier this week.

While I certainly agree that his decision to bring a concealed, loaded handgun into a club was moronic, am I the only one who thinks this feels like if the cops showed up in 8 Mile and hauled Cheddar Bob off to the clink when he shot himself?

He's an idiot, not a threat to society...
4. All Things Considered, Business is Good
As much as I'm over-anxious and anti-patience, my move to writing about MMA has been outstanding and business is good.

In just shy of five months, I've gone from starting Keyboard Kimura as an outlet for myself to being syndicated on four strong sites, interviewing a number of talented fighters and MMA personalities and garnering well over 1,000 reads per day.

Even if nothing else changes between now and May, I'll easily break the 300,000 page views mark and that is pretty damn impressive if you ask me.

Continue reading ...

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Gone for a Minute, Back on the Grind Now

"Thought I was finished (Nope) / Not Jerry Seinfeld"

The lyrics to my man Classified's 2006 single "Find Out" serve as the title and kick off this return of sorts because, well, let's be honest... it's been a while since I dropped by iBlog.

Sorry... it won't happen again.

Here's a quick update of what's been taking up my time as of late and what I've skipped over in ignoring my duties here for the past week:

  • I'm now officially addicted to Criminal Minds
  • Got myself an advertising deal for both iBlog and Keyboard Kimura
  • House hunting in Victoria from Cranbrook sucks
  • Work is a veritable ghost town, but I still have to go in regularly
  • Newspaper editors don't return emails... ever

That's about the extent of things really.

The advertising will be coming soon and is far from a financial windfall, but still cool nonetheless.

Criminal Minds is my brother-in-law Timothy's fault; we watched a marathon the day they were set to leave here a couple weeks back, and since then I can't miss an episode. I watch four hours of the damn show Friday and Sunday on A&E and caught the season premier earlier this week.

Thanks Timmay...

Anyway, from here on out, I'll be doing my best to get back to the daily delivery that got all 47 of you hooked in the first place, complete with Rundowns on Wednesdays, Soundtrack on Friday and all the random goodness you've come to know and expect from me here.

Time to tackle Keyboard Kimura for the day and look for more houses, then go to work for the night.

See you tomorrow... I promise.

Continue reading ...

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Once is Random, Twice is a Trend... a Very, Very Disturbing Trend

Change the image on the television to some hardcore porn and you have the viewing pleasures of the collection of middle aged men staying in the building next to us.

No, I wasn't intentionally looking in their windows or anything like that. Here's the story:

Last night, Sarah and I took the pooch out for a walk after watching a movie. It was fairly late, so we went to our usual place over behind the new building next to ours. As we're walking, I look up towards all the lights that are on in one of the condos and see some serious sexy time taking place on the television.

I laugh, tell Sarah and proceed to lament the sad state of affairs that is this particular collection of gentlemen. While I certainly don't know them from Adam, there is something about stealing away for a golf weekend with your fellow fortysomethings and watching all kinds of porn that is well, sad.

Sure, I watched porn with the boys a time or two in my life, but it was when I was between the ages of 16 and 25, max. A snowball stands a better chance in hell than the likelihood of me spending a weekend away with the lads in my mid-40s watching a bunch of porn.

Anyway, what makes it worse is that when I took the little mongrel out for the same stroll this evening, guess what was on the television?

You guessed it... porn!

Two questions jump to mind:

  1. Are these guys actually ordering PPV porn on a rental condo television or did they bring their own?
  2. How do you make the decision to watch porn every night while sharing a condo with a bunch of your friends? What is that conversation like?

"What's on tonight, Jim?"

"Not much, Tony. Whattaya say we throw on some porn?"

"Sounds great! I'll tell the others. Somebody make some popcorn."


Now this has become a sociological experiment, as you can be damn sure that once the sun goes down tomorrow night, me and Luke will be out in the darkness behind that building, watching to see if it's a porn-with-the-boys weekend.

Continue reading ...

Friday, September 18, 2009

Soundtrack of My Life: Run This Town

Song: Run This Town
Artist: Jay-Z feat. Rihanna and Kanye West
Album: The Blueprint 3

The Roc is in the building... put your diamonds in the sky and just enjoy the brilliance.

These three are so iconic individually that I don't even feel the need to get into details about the brilliance that comes from combining the three.

Just pop it in and listen to the masters on the mic and Ms. Rihanna doing her catchy chorus thing like she always does.

Continue reading ...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Things I Learned This Week

1. I'm Not Quite Ready for Some Football
Slept through most of today's action, despite the fact that it was the opening weekend and I have five fantasy teams to keep tabs on.

Personally, I blame the first half of the Minnesota - Cleveland game and that unretiring bastard Brett Favre. Nothing exciting happened and the Vikes looked like they weren't planning on running the ball much, so I took a nap.

Wake up, AP has gone for 180 and three scores and I missed it all. I'll try to be more awake for next week.

2. Ryan Loco Has a Fitting Last Name
Most interviews I conduct last in the 15 - 20 minute range, stick to the script and leave me feeling like I did my job.

Talking to the star of The Loco Life took around an hour, went on several different tangents and left me feeling like I would have a couch to sleep on if I was ever stranded in Encinitas, California.

Oh... and the guy is totally off his rocker! When you've got 30 minutes to kill, go read the interview and get your daily dose of laughter.

3. Creativity is Dead in Hollywood
Confirmation came this week when I realized we're maybe a year away from their being nothing but remakes (Melrose Place, 90210) and multiple versions of the same show (CSI: Boise and NCIS: Wichita ... Coming Soon!) joining Reality TV left to watch.

Can no one come up with a decent, original idea these days? Do we really need to bring back Melrose Place?

Couldn't we have brought back something better?

4. August Promises Don't Pan Out in September
This should have come as no surprise, seeing as I was hired a year ago as a full-time bartender and have never had more than three shifts on the taps in a week, but the "we'll get you more shifts when so-and-so leaves" I heard in August have turned into two shifts a week for September.

Even better is that we keep bending over backwards and rewarding the people who need accommodating, while the guy who came in whenever he was called and does a good job 99 times out of 100 is no the Wednesday / Thursday day bartender.

Nothing like being able to make $40 over two days to help pay for a move...

5. Jay-Z is Still the Man
Don't believe me? Go out and get a hold of The Blueprint 3 or wait 'til Friday when "Run This Town" shows up in Soundtrack.

"D.O.A." stands for Death of Auto-Tune and is vintage Jay telling you what he thinks, whether it's what you want to hear or not.

Until he truly retires, Jay-Z is still the baddest MC in the game.

Continue reading ...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Rundown: Busier Than the Prettiest Hooker on 2-for-1 Tuesdays!

Pictured is Ms. Julia Roberts who once played the prettiest hooker on film opposite Richard Gere in Pretty Woman.

No, this isn't a post about Pretty Woman, though I could certainly tell you everything there is to know about the flick as it is easily one of my mom's all-time favorites and was a sick day from school staple growing up.

This is, however, a breakdown of all the things going on in life right now that have me running ragged and working at a fevered pace.

From interviews with fighters and MMA personalities to shifts at the restaurant and planning our next move, this week has me feeling busier than the prettiest hooker on 2-for-1 Tuesdays and I thought I'd share that with you.

You're welcome.

spanFive Things Keeping Me Busier Than Humanly Possible

5. Moving to Victoria
It's official: we're relocating again, heading off to Victoria next month to try again in another town.

Things just haven't worked out here the way we wanted and Victoria offers a better collection of the things we're looking for both in life and work, so we're packing up and shipping off once again.

Between now and then we've got to find a place to live, find me a job, pack up this place and arrange for all our stuff to get out there. Unfortunately, working on most of those things will have to wait until next week.

4. Harassing People to Give Me a Job
Maybe harassing isn't the right word; begging might fit, but I try to keep the emails and letters free from any usage of the word please with more than one e.

Jokes aside, this move is a chance for me to really break into things on the MMA front if someone is willing to take a chance, as both Victoria and Vancouver have outstanding newspapers with quality websites in need of some MMA coverage.

And I want to be that guy...

3. Writing
This one should be pretty damn obvious.

I know what you're thinking: how hard is it to write two mediocre "blogs" per day? Well, for starters, nothing that goes up at Keyboard Kimura is mediocre; Sports Illustrated doesn't carry mediocre and they're becoming fans of carrying K2 material.

Additionally, when you're trying to make this your career - not necessarily this particular brand of writing here, but you know what I mean - it's more than just sitting down and smashing out random thoughts.

Plus, next week gets even crazier with two fight cards to preview in addition to the everyday routine.

2. Transcription
Easily my least favorite part of what I'm doing right now.

I need one of those computers or programs that has voice recognition and can take what I've recorded from various interviews and convert it into text for me, because I hate trying to do it myself.

Fifteen minute interviews take an hour to transcribe with all the starting and stopping, Google every sponsor and coach mentioned to make sure you spell their name right and so on and so forth.

My birthday is coming up quickly people - someone feel free to buy me that software.

1. Interviews
Now we come to what is clearly my favorite part of what keeps me busy these days.

In addition to the outstanding interviews I've already churned out, I've got a bunch on the horizon, including having completed two today; one with Ryan Loco and one with Ultimate Fighter Season 10 contestant Matt Mitrione.

Still to come are Cole Miller, Sam Stout, New Jersey Athletic Commission Board member Nick Lembo and potentially a couple more TUF 10 contestants.

What makes it even more enjoyable is that the goofy, awkward Spencer who first interviewed Cabral Richards is long gone, replaced by a seasoned vet with a great mix of intelligent, though-provoking questions and straight up nonsense.

The forthcoming Ryan Loco interview (tomorrow or Friday on Keyboard Kimura) is the most ridiculous thing I've ever done, and I mean that in the best way possible.

With all this in mind, sorry if I don't reply to emails, answer you on MSN, have time to chat on Facebook or pick up the phone.

Chances are I'm already on it, either talking to a fighter, trying to get a job or ordering a pizza because I'm too damn busy to cook!

Continue reading ...

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

King of the Marginally Talented

Yeah, I'm shocked at how many opportunities you've gotten over the years too, Nick Cannon.

Honestly, you might be the most successful marginally-talented entertainer around these days.

Despite a number of kicks at the can, Nick Cannon has never ascended beyond mid-card status in Hollywood, yet somehow, he keeps getting opportunities.

People thought he was destined for stardom after a successful run on The Nick Cannon Show and his debut film Drumline, but since then, exactly what has he done?

Besides marry Mariah Carey, the answer is not all that much.

Wild N' Out is funny and part of my current "there ain't nothing else on so I might as well watch this" rotation, but we're talking about reruns from a discontinued show.

Movie roles have been either ensemble work (see Bobby) or horrible leading roles (see The Underclassman), while his music career saw he second album get permanently shelves after two singles had little to no success.

And now he's hosting America's Got Talent.

While the show is a summer success for NBC, it has little do with Cannon's efforts and more to do with people and their ridiculous fascination with watching talent shows judged by marginal celebrities.

Mr. Mariah Carey is creeping up on 30, and despite his youthful looks is no longer eligible for teen comedies with musical interludes; those roles are reserved for Zac Effron and his High School Musical associates, leaving Cannon with few options.

My prediction?

Drumline 2: Encore.

Laugh all you want, but you know Cannon's at home right now writing that script.

Continue reading ...

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Things I Learned This Week

1. What Time is It? Time to Get My Drank On!
This has been the most outstanding weekend in a long, long time and not just because we've all been various stages of hammered over the last 36 hours.

Whenever you ask Michelle what she wants to do, here response is "Get My Drank On!" and that is awesome. Despite the fact that it's narly 4:00 pm and the day hasn't really started yet due to last night's festivities, my suggestion that alcohol intake probably wouldn't happen to night was met with a resounding, "What?"

Expect drunken status updates on Facebook later.

2. The Dog Likes Advil
Don't worry, this is not information we found out while intoxified or anything like that. We did not feed the dog pain medicine.

He stole the bottle. Noisy, rattling things amuse him. Noisy, rattling things amusing him amuses all of us.

This is what happens when you've been getting your drank on for the better part of two days.

3. Deuce Answers the Phone at All Hours
My man Deuce lives in Newfoundland, three and a half hours ahead of us here in Kimberley. Despite this fact - which we were acutely aware of early this morning - we decided we missed him enough to call and tell him.

Five minutes after leaving our message, a surprisingly awake Deuce returned our call, laughing at the ridiculousness that is drunken Sarah, Michelle and Spencer.

Tim was passed out already by this point. We called Deuce because my clippers died right when we were preparing to shave comatosed Tim's legs...

4. eHarmony Isn't For Everyone
Believe it or not, you can be turned down by eHarmony. How miserable would that make you feel?

The fact that the process of joining eHarmony is very, very labor-intensive (I started yesterday after hearing the story and seeing their adds for a free communication weekend... and yes, my wife knew I was doing so) would just make this even more depressing.

You go through 487 questions and come up with, "Sorry, you're too picky and we don't have a single person who is compatible with you."


5. Getting Some Serious Readership
In non-boozy weekend news, this week has yielded a couple more syndication opportunities for my work at Keyboard Kimura, upping the number of readers I get per day and increasing my exposure even more.

What makes it even better is that neither offer came through the usual means (read: me begging someone to carry my work). Instead, they approached me and being the attention whore that I am, I said yes really quickly and patted myself on the back.

Slowly but surely, we're getting out there and going to be taking over the MMA world...

6. And Still Reigning Scrabble Champion...
Prior to getting mangled last night, we rocked a four-way game of Scrabble, which the wife was running away with.

That is, until I dropped "HISTORY" on the board with my last seven letters, landing on a double word score in addition to collecting my 50 bonus points.

You're winner and still reigning Scrabble Champion of the World...

P.S. I went undefeated in games last night, as Tim and I also won Cranium and he "lost" at very drunken game of Bullshit.

I'm out... time to get our drank on!

Continue reading ...

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Good Times, Good Times

So the rain and misery that was supposed to accompany Tim & Michelle's visit to the booming metropolis of Kimberley has yet to materialize, which means we're getting out and about today.

However, we'll be a little slower than normal since we hammered back a bunch of booze last night.

Not anything gross - no one puked, no one is on their death bed this morning - but enough that I can officially say that moving to Victoria just became a whole lot more awesome because we'll get to spend far more time hanging out with these two.

And when we do hang out, I know what three of us (Sarah, Michelle and this guy) will be drinking: Parrot Bay Vodka coolers.

Goddamn them things are good!

Not ultra-sweet like the thousands of brands of Bitch Pop out there, and not horribly tasteless of bland like so many other canned or bottled drinks you can get out there. These things are effin' awesome.

I'd tell you more, but the day awaits. Someone has to make breakfast, Michelle and I need to start on the Caesars and then we're off to float down the river...

See you tomorrow.

Continue reading ...

Friday, September 4, 2009

Soundtrack of My Life: Get Right

Song: Get Right
Artist: Jennifer Lopez ft. Fabolous
Album: Rebirth (2005)

I really don't care how many of you laugh at Jennifer Lopez making an appearance in the Soundtrack of My Life.

G'head, listen to the song.

Then try to walk around all day without that crazy horn sample blaring in your head all day, or without remembering the beat and getting a little extra swagger in your step. If you're in the car, you knock you're going to be head-bobbing to this all day long...

Just like the title of the album, which, technically speaking, this exact track isn't on - the remix was just a single, the original minus Fab was on the album - this track was a renewal of my love of Jennifer Lopez after what felt like an eternity of being sick of her.

For a while there, everything sounded too similar; they were all danceable tracks with a hip hop cameo and while this one is no different, it's different. Youknowwhatimsayin?

This is light years away from "My Love Don't Cost a Thing" and "Jenny from the Block" and that is a very good thing. That song and that whole Bennifer thing nearly killed this woman for me and everyone else.

That would have been a shame because as much as she sucks at being married (so far so good with Marc Anthony), she is one hell of an entertainer and the dance breaks in this video are dynamite. Yeah, I said it... dynamite. Don't pretend you don't like a good dance number. Ain't nothing wrong with it.

Crazy story behind this song that maybe only I find interesting:

Usher originally recorded it as "Ride" with the intention of using it on his 2004 album Confessions, but it didn't make the cut.

Lopez later scooped it, changing very little and had some success with it.

As good as Confessions was, imagine how massive it would have been with this on there too, because you know Usher would have killed it.

Anyway, enjoy the track and you're lying if you don't think it's infectious...

Continue reading ...

Thursday, September 3, 2009

My Thumb is All Jacked Up

Though that isn't actually me in the picture, it very much could be within the next day or two.

My thumb is severely jacked up thanks to a shitty knife and an unripe avocado.

I know there are going to be some people out there who advocate removing an avocado seed by scooping it out with a spoon, and while that is certainly a viable method, it's not how I roll. I used the old "heel of the knife" routine.

Unfortunately, when you mix a rock solid stone with a crappy knife that surprising has a completely blunt and useless heel, shit like this happens.

Impact of dull knife onto cement stone sends knife sliding off stone and into Spencer's thumb. Massive amounts of blood follow.

I spent all day night yesterday with a maxi-pad wrapped around my thumb. What? Them fuckers are super absorbent... besides, I'm married to the only nurse who doesn't have a ridiculously overstocked first aid kit in the house.

You gotta use what you got, people.

Anyway, I took a look at the gash on my thumb - the same thumb that already has a great scar down the center of where my fingerprint would be from an arena accident when I was six - and it looks way worse than it feels.

I still don't know if that's a good thing or not; while the lack of intense pain is awesome, the amount of skin dying around the wound and disturbingly tender fatty tissue sticking out from it don't make me optimistic about having this thing dealt with through home remedies, even with the new supplies that mysteriously landed on my bathroom counter.

Nope, chances are this is going to be a trip to the doctor tomorrow afternoon, which is not only a great way to spend a Friday, but also a wonderful way for Tim & Michelle (brother-in-law and his GF) to kickoff their vacation.

"Hey guys! How was the flight? So I jacked up my thumb a couple nights back and now I need to go to the doctors. Don't worry, they have good magazines."

Sounds like the start of something awesome to me...

Continue reading ...

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Rundown: Hidden Gems

There is a show returning to the airwaves tonight on Fox called Glee that I'm very pumped to watch. It has all the makings of an incredibly funny show and really, in the era of Reality television, good shows are hard to find.

What has me most excited about this show is the presence of Jane Lynch, who some will recognize from The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Role Models. Without a doubt, she is one of the funniest women out there.

But because so many people are now devoted to pseudo-television like The Bachelor, The Amazing Race and garbage like The Hills, a quality show like Glee could go somewhat undetected by a large portion of the population, landing it in the Hidden Gems category.

Here are five other personal favorites that fit the same bill.

Top Five Hidden Gems

5. Outkast's Aquemini
Before "Ms. Jackson" and Stankonia put Outkast on everyone's radar, their third album Aquemini was an absolute classic.

Loaded with lyrical gems and more funky beats than you know what to do with, Andre 3000 and Big Boi dropped a bomb on the world before they were dropping them over Baghdad.

The best of the bunch is "Skew it on the Bar-B," a quick-hitting Organized Noise creation featuring Raekwon on the second verse.

4. Sleepers
All it should take to get you to watch this movie is a look at the cast assembled in this brilliant flick about revenge:

Brad Pitt, Robert De Niro, Dustin Hoffman, Kevin Bacon, Jason Patric, Minnie Driver, Billy Crudup and the late Brad Renfo all deliver outstanding performances in Barry Levinson's surprisingly-slept on story of four friends from Hell's Kitchen.

Go to Blockbuster or wherever you rent movies and find it... you can thank me later.

3. The Unthinkable Thoughts of Jacob Green by Joshua Braff
While I picked up the book upon recommendation of a friend and because the author is the older brother of Zach Braff, the reasons I love this book extend way beyond the fraternal relationship the author has with the star of Scrubs.

This book had me laughing out loud and on the verge of tears as I read the story of young Jacob Green, a Jewish kid trying to figure out life and himself.

Let me put it this way: I loved this book so much, I've been painfully waiting for the last five years for another offering from the elder Braff.

2. Garden State Soundtrack
Yes, I love the movie and recommend it to anyone as well, but a ton of people know about it and I've told anyone I know who didn't already, so including the film would be pointless.

The soundtrack, however, is another story altogether. Soundtracks often get overlooked when they don't have some massive billboard smash on them. That fate befell this gem, but I'm not complaining.

It is the perfect accompaniment for a long drive, as there are up-tempo tunes and mellow moments as well, including tracks from Coldplay, Zero 7, Colin Hay and The Shin, who will, of course, change your life.

1. A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints
This movie was such a surprise to me that I immediately bought a copy from Blockbuster and routinely fall asleep watching it on nights when Sarah is at work.

Divided into two times - present and past - the younger stars pull as much weight, if not more, than the adult stars of the film, and that's saying a lot when you're up against Robert Downey Jr., Rosario Dawson, Chazz Palminteri and Dianne Wiest.

But Shia LaBeouf, Martin Compston, and Melonie Diaz all shine. The performance Channing Tatum puts forth as "Antonio" will show you why many believe he is one the most talented young actors in Hollywood today.

Continue reading ...

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

This Is Awesome!

How awesome is the news that Disney has acquired Marvel?

Well, take those three crappy Spiderman movies, the horrible Daredevil attempt and two sub-par Fantastic Four efforts, ball them up and throw'em in the garbage, because with the backing of a major studio with beaucoup bucks, you can be sure that new versions are in the making.

The same goes for the two shitty incarnations of The Hulk too!

Now, all those characters that you (read: me and my fellow comic book nerds) have always wanted to see on the silver screen will be get the royal treatment from a studio with the pull and pockets to do them justice.

As great as Christopher Nolan's take on Batman has been, the rest of the DC Comic collective isn't nearly as appealing, aside from seeing some young starlet slip into the Wonder Woman outfit.

The latest Superman was nowhere near as successful as anticipated, and while The Flash and Green Lantern have sound possibilities, the Marvel Universe is just too impressive to beat.

Besides the characters mentioned off the top, you still have Captain America, Thor, Hawkeye, each of the X-Men, Punisher and many, many more.

Regardless of your comic book affiliation, this is a great announcement for geeks everywhere!

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