Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Netflix Review: Killer At Large: Why Obesity is America's Greatest Threat

No cookie, no peace!

One of the great things about Netflix is that it allows you to find movies, particularly under promoted documentaries. Having recently had my brain turned to mush by Micheal Bay, I looked for something a little bit more intellectually nutritional. And I found it in Killer at Large.

Hopefully, if you have a Netflix account, you can watch it here. (If not, just search for it on Netflix)

Killer at Large is an examination of the rise of obesity in America and government's involvement with this rise.

Perhaps why I enjoyed this documentary was that it provides further evidence to two of my theories as to why America is going to hell in a handcart.

First we are unable to assess risk. While a hundred thousand die each year from obesity related disease and only a handful die from terrorism, it is Bin Laden and not Archer Daniels Midland that we fear.

Oh, and speaking of, secondly, that Archer Daniels Midland and the big corn industry is destroying America one cob at a time. OK, billions of cobs at a time.

Not only are they forcing high fructose corn syrup down our throats (why do we have to import our Coke from Mexico just to get real sugar in it?) but, not mentioned in this documentary, they forcing corn in the form of "green" ethanol into our cars. And every step of the way receiving huge government subsidies.

Killer at Large is very good at establishing the problem of obesity, particularly the epidemic of childhood obesity. And it does a good job of trying to show the Federal government's complicity with the rise of obesity. But what I couldn't buy is that government is the answer. Yes we should end farm subsidies and corporate subsidies. But the responsibility for childhood obesity is largely parental.

Yes, it's easy for a non-breeder to point the finger at parents. But there was a time that parents controlled what kids ate and how much exercise they got.

And this goes back to how we assess risk. The nightly news has us believing that if we don't watch our kids 24/7 a crazed rapist/murderer will snag them and kill them. So we no have a kids driven to school when they live only blocks away. We have kids playing XBox instead of kick the can in a empty field.

Well, maybe government can do something. While in Europe I really enjoyed how walkable the cities were. Yeah, they are old and kinda hafta be walkable. But instead of spending billions on more highways can't we spend half of that on mass transit? It's en embarrassment that, not only is there not mass transit out to DFW airport, but that we're at least 3 years away from it happening. DFW has only been open for 35 years.

Oh well. At least I live in one of the few walkable areas of Dallas. Yeah me!

  • many breasts (all man-boobs)
  • 1 beast
King Wally says check it out.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Two Years Today

Today is the two year anniversary of the founding of The Summer of Steve and my getting laid off from Nortel that gave birth to this blog.

Everyone still having fun out there?

Movie Review : Transformers 2 - Rise of My Lunch from Earlier in the Day

One of the good things about not having a job is that when some suggests going to see a movie at 11:30 at night, there is little reason to say no. Add to that the fact that my house's central air conditioning needs some valuable HVAC attention and an 11:30 at night movie sounds down right appealing.

Well, unless that movie is Transformers 2: The Rise of Expositional Dialog.

I've seen a lot of bad movies lately. It happens when you're locked in an airplane over the Atlantic. Your crap threshold moves precipitously downwards at 33,000 feet. So the only nice thing I can say about Transformers 2: The Rise of Lowered Expectations is that it's slightly better than Paul Blart Mall Cop and at least twice as funny.

I admit that I did not see the first Transformers movie in its entirety. So some of the more subtle motifs and themes may be lost on me.

But this movie forces us to make some wild leaps away from reality and common sense I just was unable to make. No, not that there are have been alien robots visiting our planet for eons during their epic struggle for galactic supremacy. No, it's that a smoking hot Megan Fox would even give a dweebing looking Shia Labeof the time of day much less be in love with him. Oh, AND she's an expert auto-mechanic!?!?! Really!?!?!

I would love to tell you what this movie is about. But it's not really about anything. It's essentially 1) Robot fight 2) Megan Fox looks sexy/takes off shirt 3) Robot exposition to move the plot 4) Repeat

And when the robots aren't kicking the shit out of each other T2: The Rise of the Cheese Souffle treats us to a glimpse of college life that only exists in movies.
  • Even though the campus is bustling with activity from everyone moving in, Shia's parents are able to park right in front of his dorm.
  • It's the middle of the afternoon and people, like I said, are moving into their dorm rooms, but there is always a large contingent of coeds that need to prance down the hall wearing nothing but a towel, but in full makeup. That's just how badly they need a shower.
  • Shia's Astronomy 101 is not only taught by an eccentric, quirky Proffessor (Rainn Wilson). But the front row of the class is full of hot chicks in short skirts. Really???? Cause most of the 101 classes I took were taught by disinterested grad students. And the hot chicks were only in the business building. They weren't taking to many high science classes. And why was Einstein's E=MC2 formula on the chalk board? This is an astronomy class not a quantum physics class.
Oh, and Orion is a winter constellation. You can't see it in early September which is when this movie takes place since you just established that Shia is just entering college.

But besides all that, it's a great movie.

Actually it isn't. It's a pile something the cat threw up. (Thanks Norm).

  • Robot-fu
  • Tongue-fu
  • Academy Award Nomination to Director Michael Bay for making blowing up most of the planet so pedestrian.


King Wally says "feh".

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Doucher of the Day

I made the mistake of leaving the nurturing biosphere of The Wallagio to venture out for much needed supplies. In so doing, I, mostly tangentially, had to interact with an assortment of the the most wretched hive of scum and villainy that ultimately is the Dallas experience. So, here are today's contestants for:

Doucher of the Day

  1. The asshat blazing down the aisle at Home Depot and nearly hits me and then make a wide turn so that I can't pass him on the left.
  2. The pottbellied gentleman wanting to cross Park Lane near the Bed, Bath & Beyond wearing a brand new black New York Mets uniform in 90+ heat and humidity.
  3. The moroon in the Lexus SUV on Greenville who decides that he needs to turn left. So he gets to the far right of the lane and narrowly avoids hitting the motorcyclist who assumed he was turning right.
  4. As always, the bald dude with hipster glasses passing judgement on all he observes.
Vote now, or die!

Last Week's Storms Continue to Take Their Toll

I'm sitting at home, mostly minding my own business, when I hear some rustling outside my front door. I assume it's the UPS guys dropping off a package. Although, for the life of me I couldn't remember ordering anything.

Ususally when the UPS guy drops something off, I hear some rustling, he rings the bell and knocks a few times and then drives off.

But this time no ring, no knock -- just rustling.

So I opened my front door to see what my early onset alzheimers has cased me to treat this unknown package like Christmas day, when I see this:

Not to worry. The tree trunk is not about to crush my neighbor.

Her reaction to this the fallen tree pretty much says it all, "What the fuck!?!?!"

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Why He's My Leader

Since the Adam Carolla Show was ridiculously canceled back in February, I have had to listen to his show archives. Beginning with his first shows in January of 2006, I have made my way to September 1, 2006. It was on this day that Adam had one of his most popular rants ever.

If you do listen to it, be warned, it is 30 minutes long. And it starts out slowly with Adam interviewing a 500 lbs woman whose husband was having sex with her daughter right in front of her. The interview picks up steam when the woman's other daughter and the daughter's boyfriend get on the phone. Essentially, this is Green Acres meets Idiocracy.

Well maybe this was his most popular rant ever.

Facebook people will have to click to original article to see the videos.

I Thought He Was Smarter Than This

I'm sure he knows what he's doing and make a fortune from this.

Andy Beal is Donald Trump's Benefactor

Andy Beal's the Dallas banker most (in)famous for having single-handedly taken on the bestest of poker's best -- a so-called syndicate that included the likes of Chip Reese, Howard Lederer, Doyle Brunson and Jennifer Harmon -- back in 2001 in the Bellagio's high-stakes poker room. The subtitle of Michael Craig's riveting 2005 account of that kajillion-dollar showdown described it thusly: The Professor, the Banker, and the Suicide King: Inside the Richest Poker Game of All Time. But in 2006, Beal's love for the game got a kick in the pants courtesy one Phil Ivey, who, after a mere three days, wound up lifting from Beal's wallet, oh, $16 million, give or take.
blog it

Area Dog Angry After Bath

According to Barb & BC, who took care of Zoë! while I was covorting across the European continent, the above pictured dog loves swimming.

So why does she hate baths so much? I understand not liking the water squirted in her face. But a soft pleasant stream of warm water is equally unpleasant to her.

Hey Zoë!, if you don't want another bath, stop picking up fleas.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Walkabout 2009: Dresden

By the time we were done with Prague we still had a few more days in Europe looking at us right in the face. With nothing better to do, and not wanting to take too long of a train ride, we moseyed up to Dresden. We had no idea President Obama was doing the exact same thing.

When we arrived at the main Dresden train station, I immediately commented on the large number of cop cars there. Honestly, I was being snarky and figured there was just a police station near by. That was until we got to our hotel.

We weren't staying in the city center. When I hit Orbitz up for hotel rooms, almost all of them came back at over $200. I didn't know why. I just assumed that Dresden was very popular this time of year.

The tram we took to our hotel gave us our first clue as to what was going on.

But when we got to our hotel we saw this.

The intersection the hotel was on was shut down and a crowd had formed hoping to get a glimpse of the US President. Unfortunately, I guess, this route was a decoy and Barack never showed up.

The next morning, after packing, we were headed to Frankfurt to decompress for a day before our flight home. The only problem was the streets were blocked again.

No problem. There was another train station three tram stops from our hotel. We can either take our train from there (hopefully) or we could take a train from this station to the main one. Either way it was better than just standing around.

We hiked to the train station and just as we were to cross the street to the train station, we were told we could not cross. A friendly police officer informed us that President Obama's motorcade would be passing by in about an hour and that no one was allowed to move until after he's passed.

So I guess we did end up just standing around.

After what seemed to be much more than an hour and enduring a light sprinkle, our friendly Polizie announced, "Here he comes!"

And there he was. What, you don't believe me?

How about now? That's clearly him.

He even waved at us.

And there he goes. Oh, and that's our cop Dominic in the foreground.

And that's the rest of the Obama posse.


And I think if you're touching dirty toilet paper, you're probably doing it wrong.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Walkabout 2009: Prague

I hate to even admit this, but by the time I got to Prague, I was just about vacationed out. There are only so many centuries old buildings, bridges and statues you can see before you become numb to the splendor. Prague is a beautiful city with an amazing history. Having been virtually untouched by the two World Wars, it is a unique living museum of European architecture.

But I did become numb to it all.

That is until I discovered U Flecku.

Situated literally right around the corner from our hotel, U Fleku is a 500 year old beer house that offers up as genuine Czech experience as I could have dreamed of. Long tables make this place a gathering of people participating in a grand communal ****** rather than just a couple of people at four top talking about that asshole at work.

Oh, and beer -- what kind would you like? Miller Lite? maybe a Pale Ale? how about a strong Belgian ? Too bad!!! They serve one beer -- the same delicious Schwarzbier they've been brewing/serving for 500 hundred years. Oh, they also served a Czech drink called Becherovka. It's a strong spicy drink. While supplies last, I was able to bring home a bottle, so please feel free to ask for a sip.

And on top of all this greatness, there is the food. It is here that I first fell in love with tenderness of the pork knuckle. It was suggested by the Turkish couple sitting next to us out our table. Upon my first bite, I gleefully gave our new Turk friends an enthusiastic thumbs-up.

Unfortunately, we had to leave the next morning -- my stomach yearning for another chance at a pork knuckle.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Walkabout 2009: Paris

After a long night train (11 hours and very little sleep) we finally made it to Paris. Wanting to stay awake as long as possible and to work off some excess energy I suddenly had, I literally walked from the hotel across the street from Gare de L'est to the Eiffel Tower and back. According to Google Maps, thats 8.3km one way. Dang!

Unfortunately, I didn't have a working camera on the first day. I remedied that on the second day by purchasing a battery grip for a mere €200 and took the shit-ton of pictures you can now see at the top of this post.

I had met a waiter in Antibes -- Stefan -- who had once worked as a Maitre D in Houston. Due to a green card snafu, he is now "stuck" in Antibes -- poor guy. But he recommended a night boat ride up the Seine. Well, I'm not gonna lie to you. It wasn't that great. I much preferred just walking up and down the River.

Other Paris disappointments -- The Louvre in general and the Mona Lisa in particular. There are just too many people in the Louvre to enjoy it. And the crowd around the surprisingly tiny Mona Lisa forced me to take pictures of it from a long distance and then just gave up any thought of getting close to it.

Also, when you're not overcome by car/bus/truck exhausts coming from the street you're pulverized by cigarette smoke coming from passers-by and bistro diners.

But despite these minor annoyances, Paris is still Paris and thus is pretty awesome. The food, of course, is awesome. My only complaint being that the options are often overwhelming. Oh, and the waiters can be borderline assholes at times.

And for anyone planning a trip to Paris, beware the Gold Ring Scam. I had this attempted on me 4-5 times. A gypsy will appear to pick up a big gold wedding ring and show it to you. The first time this was tried on me, my spidey sense told me that something was up and just ignored the gypsy. But apparently they will forcefully make you take the ring and expect some kind of reimbursement.

Walkabout 2009: Antibes Wrapup

More random pictures from Old Antibes.

On our final day in Antibes, we biked to Nice and back.

** If viewed from Facebook, click on View Original Post, to see the picture galleries. **

My First Meal Home Is.....

Breakfast tacos from Taco Joint.

I'm full up on them now.

Walkabout 2009: Day 5

Well, they can't all be great days.

The intent today was to head into Cannes on the last day of the film festival and soak in the city.

Well, there's just not that much to Cannes. Yes it's pretty. But there wasn't much to do unless we wanted to spend a lot of money.

So with some extra time on our hands, we headed over to Nice. Admittedly, we went to Nice without much of a plan. And with the last train going back to Antibes about an hour after we got there. Thus all we did was walk around a little bit around the town near the main train station.

We then got back to Antibes and had dinner at the same restaurant as the night before only this time I had the Mussels. Disappointingly they were not as good as the scallops. But It was still overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. So that's cool, huh?

For dessert we had a crème brulee and threw a Frisbee not quite on the beach since there wasn't a beach there.

Walkabout 2009: Day 3

Well that's just great!

I got up early this morning and wanted to post some blog items and maybe figure out where our next stop might be. So I hop on the Orange provided WiFi. After struggling through their website that was supposed to be English, but was partial still French, I found a way to buy time on their network. I walked through the steps. And at the end was told that my password would be emailed to me.


If I had email access I wouldn't need to buy time from you guys?

Well I bought an hour from the front desk and finally got on for a little bit.

But enough about my internet problems. This was another great day.

We headed back over to the Cathedral after a quick breakfast at café near our hotel. And as amazing as the cathedral is on the outside, it was equally amazing on the inside. How did they have the technology to build this in the 1100s?

Next up, we take the train from Strasbourg to Colmar to take a local train to some of the small wine making villages in the area.

And here's an example of the great luck we've had on this trip after only 3 days. We were originally going to go to Turkheim. But upon getting off the train, we didn't see anywhere to go and quickly go on the train and got off a couple stops later.

We got off the train this time and was greeted with the stench of a freshly fertilized field. Seeing a small village in a nearby hill, we hiked up and found a small winery.

And this is where a good day becomes a great day.

We met one of the owners of the winery who graciously gave us a tour of the building. The winery makes mostly white wines and sparkling wines (not Champagne since it's not in the Champagne region) and a Pinot Noir. She then told us how the village was destroyed during World War I since there was major battle there and also sustained considerable damage during World War II. The winery had mostly shut down well into the 70s making only enough wine for the family that owned it. But things turned around in the 80s and is now thriving from the renewed interest in small label wines.

Interestingly, the owner was recently in Houston trying to find a distributor in Texas. Their wine can be found in Washington, Oregon, Michigan and Massachusetts.

After the tour, we were treated to a tasting. It was a little disappointing that most of their wines were white and neither of us are much fans of white wines. But we did find a nice dry Riesling. But for me the standout wine was the Pinot Noir. I had a visceral reaction upon my first sniff. It was beautiful. And it tasted even better than it smelled.

We bought two bottles of the Riesling and one of the Pinot Noir. We intended to give one of the Rieslings to Vanessa's aunt, but she doesn't like wine. How is that even possible in France???

We headed back to Colmar to find a train to Beaune. But there were no trains or hotels in Colmar. But the friendly ticket agent in Colmar found us a hotel in Mullhouse, so we crashed there for the night.

Walkabout 2009: Day 2

We're in Europe!!!!

And I can't say I'm real impressed with Frankfurt Airport. It reminds me of both Newark and Hobby airports way before they were renovated.

After a lengthy walk from our gate to baggage claim, we thought we were lost. There was an official-looking area that looked abandoned except for a uniformed gentleman that was leaning against a wall appearing to be on break. We asked if this was the way to baggage claim. To which the man replied snarkily, "Well you have to go through us first. ". He then pointed to a beaten-down man that took our passports, stamped them and moved us on our way. It's good to see that after only a couple of years in Germany, JT has made snark all the rage.

The trip from Frankfurt airport to Strasbourg went smoothly, for the most part. We missed our train from Offenberg to Strasbourg, however. Looking at the schedule, the next train was due to depart in a half an hour, so no worries. Well, until it never arrived. And then the next train never arrived. A quick review of the timetable showed that those trains only run on Saturdays and the next train for today was an hour away.

But we did eventually make it to Strasbourg, got our hotel and went site seeing. And while the amazing beauty of a Strasbourg should alone be enough to blog about, the thing that struck me most was that kids are punks the world around. We first observed a table of "Too-Cool-For-School" punks smoking at an outdoor café while drinking their Coca Colas. Ooooh la la. But the topper was seeing about half a dozen punks yucking it up and drinking their Forties while leaning against the Notre Dame Cathedral.

And it was while dining, that Vanessa and I had a conversation about the awesomeness (literally awe inspiring) of the Cathedral. It is both an amazing achievement in both engineering and artistry and taking nearly 300 years to build. To which Vanessa suggested that the only thing close to this she could think of that was close to this were the pyramids of Egypt. To which I quickly replied

"With an almost infinite supply of Hebrew slaves, you can do pretty much anything."

Which became one of our many catchphrases of the trip.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Heading Home

By the time you read this we should be in the air, heading back to Dallas.

I'm sorry that I haven't been able to blog as timely as I had hoped. WiFi in Europe isn't as available as I had hoped. But most of my pictures have been posted to Picasa.

FYI. While it lasts, ask me for a shot of Becherovka. You'll be glad you did.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Day 13 Update

We're heading to Prague tonight and there is supposed to be free internet in the room. Hopefully there will be sufficient bandwidth to upload pictures.