Archive for October, 2007

AWESOME-tober-fest 2007: Halloween retail goodies

Posted in candy, Elvis, Halloween with tags , , , , , , on October 31, 2007 by Paxton

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I love looking around stores during Halloween. The aisles are decorated with cardboard haunted houses, pumpkins and pics of gouls, ghosts and monsters. It’s so much fun to walk around the Halloween sections of retail stores like Target, Wal-Mart and your local grocery store to see the scary versions of some regular favorites that come out every Halloween. Companies also seem to release new Halloween themed items every year. Here’s some of the coolest stuff I noticed while shopping around this Halloween season.

You can click the individual pictures for a bigger size.

Reeses Pumpkin
I love Reese’s Cups. LOVE them. They are top of my list of snacks including Cheetos and peanut M&Ms. During Halloween Reese’s will release different shaped cups (bats, pumpkins, skulls, etc). The package says DOUBLE sized and, man, they aren’t kidding. This is one giant brick of peanut butter in a thin layer of chocolate. It’s like carrying around a small child. It easily weighed as much as my head. I had trouble finishing it. If you decide to get some of these, make sure you bring along a car trailer or a pack mule. You aren’t going to get a box of these home on your own.

M&Ms
Ahhh, another seasonal favorite for me, Pumpkin Mix M&Ms. Yes, this is just regular M&Ms dressed up as black and orange pumpkins, but I LOVE M&Ms and the packaging is always too cool to pass up (check out Yellow carving a pumpkin that looks like Red). I buy them every year (peanut are my favorite followed closely by peanut butter).

Gummy Body Parts 2Gummy Body Parts 1Oozn Eyeballz
Gummy candy in the shape of human limbs seems to be pretty popular this year. The one on the left even comes in its own coffin. Nothing quite like candy that makes you feel like a cannibal. They make these things extremely realistic. Just sitting there looking at them I got a little queasy. Great, great idea, I’m glad companies are embracing the macabre during the Halloween season, but I’d be lying if I said these things don’t creep me out. Like chopped up midgets in a bag. Yikes.

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AWESOME-tober-fest 2007: Some of my awesome, awesome Halloween costumes

Posted in Elvis, Halloween, personal with tags , , , , , , on October 30, 2007 by Paxton

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I have always loved Halloween. I dressed up every year until I was in 8th or 9th grade. It was so much fun wearing costumes and hanging out with my friends going from house to house getting candy. Things have certainly changed. Today, the costumes are infinitely better but you can’t go out in your neighborhood to trick-or-treat anymore because of various nefarious individuals that may (or may not) live in your area. These individuals would love nothing more than to fool you into eating an apple with a razor blade stashed inside. What sick individual gives out apples for Halloween anyway? If that happened when I was a kid that guy would have gotten his own version of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition that involved nothing but toilet paper and raw eggs. Giving apples for Halloween is just WRONG, people. Write that down.

Anyway, my family was pretty good at documenting our holidays. I was going through some old photos and found some of my all-time favorite Halloween costumes. I have more pictures than this, but I may save those for another time. So, without further ado, here are some of my favorite costumes that I’ve worn throughout the years. Enjoy!

You can click each of the pictures for a bigger version.

SpidermanYear Unknown – Spiderman. Yes, this is it! The Ben Cooper Spider-man costume. It doesn’t get much more vintage than this. Obviously I’m “shooting my webs” at a villain off camera. Classic, classic costume. You can find these on eBay now for anywhere between 20 and 100 bucks. Check out the boxed version of this costume here.

Peter CrissYear Unknown – Peter Criss (drummer for KISS). How about them jeans and JC Penney’s belt? That’s so rock-n-roll, man. I never really listened to their music, but I LOVED the whole KISS makeup gimmick. I loved they dressed up and spit fire and had these gaudy knee boots. It was awesome. And for some reason, my favorite was always Peter Criss, the drummer. I was walking home from school and found a large drink cup with a picture of Peter Criss on it and told Mom that’s who I wanted to be for Halloween. My mom was great, she used the cup as a guide for all the makeup. She did a great job, didn’t she? Years later she would do the same thing for me when I was a werewolf. She painted on wolf-like features. It was awesome, I wish I had a picture of it.

PirateYear Unknown – Random Pirate. The costume turned out great didn’t it? My mom was great at making costumes out of crap we had around the house. Dig those funky yellow running shoes! So pirate-y. That ginormous sword was borrowed and I only held it for the picture. There was no way I was carrying that monstrosity through the neighborhood trying to collect candy. Check out my younger brother as Big Bird. Yes, yes that is embarrassing. He’s gonna love that. You can see another pic of this costume here.

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AWESOME-tober-fest 2007: Some of my favorite scary books

Posted in books, Halloween, holiday, reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on October 17, 2007 by Paxton

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Let the Halloween season begin! I was going through some of my books at home deciding what I should keep, what needs to be thrown out, what needs to be taken to the local used book store or what needs to be put up on my Book Shelf at PaperbackSwap.com (great site, check it out). I’m a pack rat. Also, my wife and I love to read, so the paperback graveyard at our house is out of control. So, I was going through some of these books for the above reasons and found many “scary” books that I loved, both recently and when I was a kid. Several of these books seriously freaked me out. The type of book that has you staying up at night staring at the drapes wondering if a guy with a knife is just watching…and waiting. Since it’s Halloween, I thought it would be fun to take a look at a few of these. Maybe you’ve read a few of them.

Scary Stories to Tell in the DarkScary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz; illustrations by Stephen Gammell. This was the first book in a series of three. The two sequels were More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones. I read these in elementary school (the first book was released in 1981) and they seriously messed up my sleeping patterns. It wasn’t just the stories that were included in these books, Gammell’s illustrations lean intensely towards the macabre. The combination of the chilling stories and the illustrations helps to build the effect in your mind and it winds up decidedly stopping your ability to sleep for the next few days. Click on the book image to see a bigger picture. Look what they chose to put on the cover of the first book. How insanely creepy is THAT?! That’s the kind of mind job that awaits. Each of these stories is collected from American Folklore and have been passed down, in one form or another for generations. Because of this, you’ll get familiar stories like The Hook and The Babysitter, but there are other stories I’ve never heard of. The one that has always stuck in my mind is called Room for One More. BONE CHILLING. At least, it was to me as a kid. If you haven’t read these books, check them out at your library or you can get the collected set of all three books here.

This series of books has been one of the top ten most challenged books by the American Library Association for inclusion on school library shelves. The ALA feels it is too violent, insensitive and inappropriate for its target age group.

13 Alabama Ghosts13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey by Kathryn Tucker Windham. I was born in Birmingham, AL. I went to elementary, junior and high school in Birmingham. Kathryn Tucker Windham’s Southern ghost story series staring the titular spook, Jeffery, was extremely popular. Jeffrey supposedly haunted Windham’s Selma home and living with him inspired her to write her ghostly series. There were like 12 books in the series and it included other states like Mississippi and Tennessee. Each book told of a “famous” Southern ghost story in a different town of the state. Windham really tried to incorporate Southern lifestyles into the stories. She focused a lot on the characters and the times in which they lived, almost as much as the ghost the story was about. The stories were cool because they happened in places I’d heard of, but they were also pretty creepy. They all seemed to take place in old abandoned mansions or hotels. The most famous story in the book is about the Pickens County Courthouse in Carrollton, AL. This courthouse is famous for the ghostly image that is seemingly burned into one of its attic windows. Very cool book that is very respectful of Southern life and culture but adds the eerie element of long-ago ghost stories.

Monkeys PawThe Monkey’s Paw by WW Jacobs. Published in England in 1902, this short horror story is a literary classic. It has been retold numerous times in other books, comics, tv shows, movies, etc. The Simpsons even did a parody of it in one of their Treehouse of Horror episodes. In the story, the monkey’s paw is a magical talisman that grants wishes, but the wishes come at an enormous price. Very, very cool story, yet it’s extremely horrifying. If you want to read the short story you can read it in full on this website.

Monkeys PawThe Lottery by Shirley Jackson. Published by the New Yorker in 1948, it’s a short story that has come to be considered an American classic. I read this in high school and was fascinated by it. For the first two-thirds of the story I was baffled and a little bored about seemingly normal events. It’s the final third of the story that grabs and horrifies you. I liked it so much that for an eleventh grade Honors English project I chose to write a short sequel that I called The Last Lottery. It received very high marks from my teacher and she had me read the story to the class. I, unfortunately, do not have a copy of that story, otherwise I would put it up here. If you want to read The Lottery, you can read the text in full here. I’ll see if I can scrounge up the one copy of The Last Lottery that is in existence.

Whoever Fights MonstersWhoever Fights Monsters by Robert Ressler. True crime account by one of the first and leading criminal profilers. Ressler spoke at Auburn when I was in college and I was fascinated by the killers he has profiled. John Wayne Gacy, Charles Manson, Sirhan Sirhan and many others. He even describes some of the cases surrounding these killers. A truly chilling account of real life crime and how the serial killer thinks.

The Last VictimThe Last Victim by Jason Moss. Another true crime novel. This is even scarier. Teenager Jason Moss starts writing letters to famous serial killers. He tries to become their ideal victim from within his letters to see what makes them tick. He gets too close and actually visits John Wayne Gacy in prison. Absolutely terrifying. A look at how these real life killers think, but from the victim’s point of view.

Monkeys PawSkeleton Crew, Night Shift, Nightmares and Dreamscapes, Everything’s Eventual and Four Past Midnight by Stephen King. Stephen King has a lot of scary stories, but his best stuff are his short stories. Not all of them are horror. Some are funny and some are random and weird, but some are chilling. And since the story is shorter, the eeriness seems to be even higher because the text is so concentrated. There are several stories in each of these 5 short story collections that were damaging to my calm. A few of my favorites:

“The Monkey” about a toy monkey that kills every time it beats its cymbals.

“Children of the Corn” about a small town inhabited only by children under 19.

“The Moving Finger” about a regular guy haunted by the appearance of a finger trying to claw its way out of his bathroom sink drain (sounds weird, but it’s almost maddening to think about when you read the story).

Autopsy Room 4 about a man waking up in a medical lab realizing that a doctor is about to perform an autopsy on his body, and he can’t move or speak to stop it.

There are others in the 5 King books that are haunting and chilling and wonderful. I love these collections more than King’s full novels. If you haven’t, and you love Stephen King, read them, please.

Well, those are some of my favorite scary books. What are some of yours?

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New Computer for me; well relatively new, not new-new

Posted in computers, humor, work on October 11, 2007 by Paxton

Winn-DixieWinn-Dixie finally refreshed the IT department’s computers. When I started here in 2005 I got a Dell Optiplex desktop with Windows 2000 (!), 512Mb of RAM and this gi-normous CRT monitor that took up my entire desk. To say my computer was old and slow would be like saying Gigli was a bad movie. REDUNDANT. As if old components wasn’t enough, all I had left on the hard drive was 100Mb. I don’t know what’s taking up all my space as I’ve uninstalled all unnecessary applications and deleted all my temp files. Since now there’s no room on the hard drive to create temp files my computer comes crashing down around me like an imploding Vegas casino whenever I try to open a Word document. I’m a computer professional, I should have a computer that is more commiserate with my mad programming skillz. This is like having Jeff Gordon drive in the Pepsi 500 with a Honda Prius. It’s absurd.

Anyway, corporate decided that we had suffered enough with resource errors and crashing hard drives and decided to upgrade our workstations. I thought I was going to get a brand new Lenovo desktop (yay!) but unfortunately they didn’t go that far. First they replaced my clownishly large monitor with a brand new, 17″ flat-screen work of art. The screen on this baby is like butta, my friends. So much easier on my strained eyes. It really does help with headaches and such after developing and writing code for 8-9 hours a day. Next they refreshed my computer with an extra 1.5Gb of RAM and Windows XP professional. Yes, Winn-Dixie adopts Windows XP only 6 years after it was released, Woo-Hoo! At this rate we’ll have Windows Vista by the time I retire.

new Computer

Here’s a pic of my new workstation. Gorgeous, isn’t it, daaaaahling? I’m literally tearing up as I type on it right now. Everything runs so much faster and cleaner. The colors are bright and not hazy. Letters and fonts are cleaner and easier to read. It’s a little poor boy’s dream come true!

When I came in the morning after they refreshed our computers all of our old CRT monitors littered the floor like some sort of computer graveyard. I bruised my shins trying to make my way into my cubicle.

 

 

 

Anyway, I was just so happy I thought I’d share. I should have a more appropriately Halloween-y article for you by Friday. I’ve been working on it the past few days but haven’t been able to gussy it up and make it look all purty for you guys. So check back in a few days for a more seasonally appropriate article.

 

Peace.

 

 

Octoberfest: My RateBeer.com ratings

Posted in beer, humor, ratebeer.com, reviews with tags , , on October 2, 2007 by Paxton

Well, it’s now October. Hard to believe. We are in the thrust of the college and pro football seasons and Halloween is right around the corner. Time flies when you are getting worked like a dog. The below article was written several weeks ago but I thought it would work better as the opening article for the month of October seeing as how it’s about beer. I have mentioned RateBeer.com before, but I thought it would be fun to delve a little deeper into it. Enjoy.

I joined RateBeer.com in 2005 with my friend Steve. We started rating our favorite beers and noticed that our tastes ran exactly opposite those of the most popular raters on the site. We like the light, American pale lager, whereas “beer snobs” tend to prefer the thick, dark sludge-like consistency of the European beers. So Steve and I started to write a bunch of “tongue in cheek” reviews blasting beer snob’s favorite beers and glowing reviews of the American lagers. It was all done in fun and even if no one else thought it was funny, he and I did.

Well, early in this blog’s life, I wrote about an incident I had with a beer snob at RateBeer.com back in 2005. He was an ass, we exchanged some emails, I got pissed and wrote a blog article about it. It was dumb, but it kinda got me off the site. Well, I went back recently to read some of my old beer reviews and I thought they were funny. These reviews were written before I had a blog, but it showed me I enjoyed writing and having fun with product reviews. I thought I would share a few of my reviews from that site so you can see what I was talking about.

RateBeer Profile

Here you can see the main account page at RateBeer.com. My reviews are in the right hand grey column. My personal details are in the left hand yellow column. I have 39 reviews posted as of today. My last one was dated in October 2005. On your profile, RateBeer has you put a Beer Philosophy. Here’s what I wrote:

I prefer the lighter, American macro-brews. I like my women dark, not my beer.

That about sums it up, I think. RateBeer.com is a fun site to use, but some of the members can be a little snotty. They were probably snotty because the hardcore members were just irritated that I wasn’t taking it as seriously as they were. Regardless, the site is interesting to look through and read reviews, so check it out if you get a chance.

Now let’s take a look at some of my reviews. Here are several of my favorite beer reviews I wrote on RateBeer.com.

Bud Light – “My favorite beer and what I compare all other beers to. Crisp, clean American taste. After a few bottles I feel like running for President and invading a small totalitarian government!”

Bud Ice Light – “I didn’t think it was possible, but Bud made a beer lighter than Bud Light. This is like drinking out of the faucet. Really good for bar-b-ques. Why nurse your bottles of beer when you can drink a case of this and still be able to pilot the red-eye from New York to LA the next morning?”

Keystone Light – “This would normally go directly towards my beer interests, but it’s more uninteresting than it is good. Cheap, which I like, but boring, which I don’t.”

Milwaukee’s Best – “Ahh, the Blue Can of Death (BCoD). This is only worth a try if you are short on cash since a case of this crap only costs about 20 cents. And that’s for a reason. I can brew better beer in a used prison toilet.”

Samuel Adams Boston Ale – “I’m actually embarrassed this is an American beer. WTF?! It tastes like someone took a spoiled keg of beer and puked in it. I wouldn’t clean my toilet with this crap.”

Samuel Adams Boston Lager – “Another catastrophic failure for the Boston Beer Company. Heavy ass lager that tastes like I licked the bottom of an oak barrel. The only reason this gets a 3 in Flavor is because I tried it in Colonial Williamsburg on draft and managed to choke it down without throwing up bile the rest of the night.”

Sapporo Classic – “[A very] nice, Japanese beer. Thick with a heavy aftertaste, but goes down nice with a plate of fried rice and a cup of sake. Drop your cup of sake into a glass of this beer to create a Sake Bomber. Not responsible for you getting your drunk ass kicked out of the restaurant. ”

Amstel Light – “Not surprised this is brewed by Heineken. Bittersweet taste, not in a good way. Like Heineken, if I want to feel pretentious and snobby, I’ll stand in a bar holding a bottle of this, otherwise I ask for Bud Light. Is there an Amstel regular?”

Natural Light – “Great if you are on a budget and enjoy drinking stale tap water. One of my friend’s favorites, I’m thinking of dis-owning him.”

Natural Ice – “For those of you who thought regular Natural Lite was too bold and hopsy, here’s your beer. Holy crap, I get more of a taste from swallowing my own spit. It will get ya drunk, but so will swigging Nyquil.”

Foster’s – “Australian for ASS.”

Olde English 800 – “”8-Ball” I bought this beer because of the NWA song enumerating the virtues of drinking it. I was slightly disappointed. No ghetto hoes were butt-dancing in my grill after cracking open this malt liquor. I’d rather cap myself gansta-style than drink another bottle.”

King Cobra – “I really wish I could rate the taste of this beer. I bought a 32oz bottle of it in college and it was unceremoniously stolen by one of my friends. He left only a note saying he owes me one Nattie Light. Needless to say, I killed this friend.”

When I wrote these 2 years I ago, I thought they were funny, and I still think so. Most of them were really “tongue in cheek”, like I said. If I bashed one of your favorite beers, I really am sorry, but I hated it.

But what do I know, I’m a wine snob. 😉

Hey, how about an update? I’ll write a few new reviews right this very moment. Let’s go.

Monty Python’s Holy Grail Ale – “What is your name? Pax.
What is your quest? To taste Monty Python’s Holy Ale.
What did you think? It’s like being simultaneously punched in the face and kicked in the groin. It was so bitter I felt like I drank a box of alum like I was in a Tom & Jerry cartoon. Yes, Monty, you made a horrible beer, the joke is on me. Why dost thou forsake us?”

Miller Chill – “Is this what Miller thinks Mexican beer tastes like? Have they ever even BEEN to Mexico…..and I don’t mean the one at Disney Epcot. This beer tastes like lime Kool-Aid mixed with dirty water. While probably close to the taste of real Mexican drinking water, it tastes nothing like Mexican beer.”

LaBatt Blue – “Our Canadian friends have made a beer. That’s pretty much all I can say. This beer is like Chinese food. It’s good, but I forgot I drank it 5 min after I was finished. It’s the equivalent of a beer Etch-A-Sketch. Shake and erase…….then repeat. Although you got to love the commercials with the guy in the bear suit. Awesome.

That’s it for this week. Hope you enjoyed the reviews. Till next time……BE COOL, MY BABIES!!!

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