July 17th, 2012

Lego Batman 2 Review

Did you know I still occasionally write game reviews?  I know, it was a surprise to me, too.  I have written for DEN for a little over 6 years now, but the last couple of years have been sparse.  That’s partly my own fault, but it’s also because DEN has changed focus a little bit. It’s more movies than games now, and even though I love movies, I stink at reviewing them.  Everything ends up the same “Yeah, I enjoyed it.” A movie has to be really bad for me to dislike it.  I prefer reviewing games because there are so many more avenues to explore with them.

My latest review is of Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes. I absolutely love the Lego games, so I had been looking forward to playing this one from the moment I heard about it. I won’t ruin the review for you, but it’s a Lego game that stars Batman, so you might be able to guess what I thought of it.

July 3rd, 2012

Ranking Running With Scissors

Some of these albums I have not had to re-listen to in order to rank them This album I actually had to listen to a couple of times to reacquire a feel for it.  It’s “so 90s” in a way, but not more pidgeonholed to a time than any of his other albums.  I’m not sure how to explain my feelings on it other than to say this album felt like a turning point for Al, but maybe the turning point was mine.  This seems to be about the time that Weird Al started transitioning from “offbeat comedy songs guy” into “representative of geek/nerd culture icon.”  I don’t know, maybe that’s just my perception.  I was 27 when it came out, a number that Al has used in several songs. Maybe it’s that intersection that makes me confused about this album.

11. Jerry Springer – A song about the Jerry Springer show. I feel like we already had this song, in “Talk Soup” on Alapalooza, and it wasn’t my favorite then.

10. Pretty Fly for a Rabbi – Parody of “Pretty Fly (For a White Guy), and pretty much a lot of Jewish jokes. It’s catchy, but… it’s pretty much a lot of Jewish jokes.

9. My Baby’s in Love with Eddie Vedder – An original, about how his girlfriend loves 90s darling Eddie Vedder, to the point where she’s “knitting him a sweater,” even.

8. Truck Drivin’ Song – Our church had a couple of long-haul truck drivers when I was growing up. I even went on a trip once, down to Georgia and back. That was enough for me to know I’d never be a truck driver. They’re a unique breed, and I heard plenty of truck drivin’ songs (like “Convoy” and “Gimme 40 Acres”), but none of them were ever about a cross-dressing truck driver. Weird Al saw a gap in the trucker musical library and he filled it. No other truck drivin’ song has the phrase “darling little rhinestone pumps” in it, I’ll wager.  He really nails the feel and sound of those old songs, while giving them an update no one knew they needed.

7 Albuquerque – A long-form exercise in randomness and absurdity. I enjoy this one, but can’t listen to it very often.  It’s a little too random and goofy for my tastes most days.  I am a little jealous that Brian got to hear him sing “Albuquerque” while in Albuquerque, though.

6 Polka Power! – Here’s this album’s polka, featuring songs by the Spice Girls, the Beastie Boys, and Chumbawamba. Again, I feel Al improves on the originals in most cases.

5 Grapefruit Diet – A swing (ska?) song about food, based on “Zoot Suit Riot.” Lots of fun.

4 Your Horoscope for Today – Al runs through each of the Zodiacal signs and gives you the horoscopes for each of them. The highlight of this song is the bridge, which I’m still trying to learn all the words to.

3 The Weird Al Show Theme – Exactly what it says. I loved the show, and I loved the theme song opening. Here it is so you can enjoy the many different kinds of animations to go along with it.

2 The Saga Begins – The story of Star Wars: Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, told in song form from Obi-Wan’s point of view. This song, based on Don MacLean’s “American Pie,” is so much better than the movie it’s based on, but wouldn’t exist without the movie, so… yeah. That’ll make your brain hurt.  If you haven’t seen the movie but want to know what happens in it, just listen to this song.

1 It’s All About the Pentiums – Not only is this my favorite song on the album, it’s one of my favorite songs of Al’s in general. Lots of computer terms, used correctly, and in humorous ways.  I absolutely love this song.  It contains such wonderful insults as “you’re waxing your modem trying to make it go faster” and “in a 32-bit world you’re a 2-bit user.” Yes, the references are a bit long-in-the-tooth now, but they’re still fantastic.

Not too many albums left, though I’ve considered going on after the albums with my Top 10 of all his songs, the Top Ten Food Songs, the Top Ten TV songs… I’m not sure how much Weird Al this blog can take!

June 20th, 2012

Bravery Takes Different Forms

I am not a courageous man. I do not take risks. I rarely even watch a movie or TV show without knowing what I’m getting myself into. I can’t remember the last time I got mad at a spoiler – even if I wish I hadn’t heard it, it isn’t the end of the world for me.  Knowing how magic tricks are done is more enjoyable to me than the viewing of the actual tricks. I don’t like surprises. This is just how I’m built. It leads to as much stability as a person can have, but I do know that the accompanying danger is that you can get stuck in ruts.

A few years back, as a byproduct of improv, I made the conscious choice to say “yes” to more things. I wasn’t going to get all crazy about it and say yes to everything, just more things. To the outside observer, it probably wouldn’t look like I’ve changed much, but from in here, I can see some big steps I’ve taken.

One of the steps has been with food. I’m a meat-and-potatoes guy, always have been. “Fancy” food is wasted on me, and there are plenty of tastes and textures that make me gag. A while back I said yes to trying some salad, and now there’s a salad at Texas Roadhouse that I actually crave every so often. I still don’t like lettuce on my burgers, but it’s something, at least. I eat broccoli on occasion now, but I still despise peas and asparagus. It’s a process, and I’ll never like everything you want me to.

This calendar year has had me trying some new things that apparently gross a lot of people out. Here’s the thing: I don’t think you can be all “Hey, you should try more stuff!” and then be all “No, I meant this other stuff, not that gross stuff!” That pretty much tells me you don’t really want me to try new stuff, you just want me to like what you like. Secondly, the next thing out of your mouth is going to be, “Ugh! that is SO unhealthy! You eat terribly!” I will grant you that these things are not the healthiest, but I will also tell you that these are not my normal day-to-day diet. Yes, I eat things that aren’t good for me. No, I don’t only eat things that aren’t good for me. If you’ve ever eaten and enjoyed ice cream, pizza, candy bars, or crème brûlée, than you’ve done the same thing I have here.

(I don’t mean to sound jerkful here – I just take a LOT of guff about what I like and don’t like. It doesn’t bother me that you don’t eat steak, so why should it bother you if I don’t like beets or mushrooms?)

So here are three new things I have tried this year:

    • Doritos Locos Tacos – And, apparently, I’m not the only one. These things have been selling like the dickens. You know why? Because they are super tasty. My wife makes taco salad for us occasionally – ground beef with some spices that we put over Fritos and put cheese and sour cream on (she also puts tomatoes and other things on hers). This? This is kind of like that, only with Doritos. It is really, really tasty. I have eaten, to date, nine of them. But you know what? I don’t think I’m going to have any more of them, because they kind of play havoc with my stomach.  Too bad, really.
    • Twinkie Wiener Sandwich – Inspired by UHF. I had wanted to try it for a long time, I just had never gotten around to it. So, on the occasion of my 40th birthday, with friends gathered around, I tried it. And it was… not bad. The Twinkie tasted like a sweeter hot dog bun, really.  And having cheese on your hot dog isn’t that strange.  I’m not going make a habit out of eating these, either, but if I needed to, I could eat more of them.
    • Bacon Sundae – Just tried this one today at Burger King. It was okay. Nowhere near as good as the previous two entries. Honestly, if they had smaller, crispier pieces of bacon that were mixed in rather than on top, this would be a lot better.


Burger King’s Bacon Sundae. I went with four coworkers, one was too chicken to try it.

I’ll leave you with one last discovery. I was picking up some things at the grocery store last week, and my eyes landed on some WhoNu? cookies. I decided to give them a try, because why not? You know what? Not bad. Not bad at all. I can eat these things, and they satisfy my sweet tooth.  Take a look at that link there. Turns out, cookies might be the healthiest experiment I’ve undertaken.

Nice work, cookies.