Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Best Things of 2008

Well, it's the end of the year. And, as is the custom on this type of site, I'll now share with you my personal favorite "things" of the past year. This specific list was devised by close friend, and fellow blogger Mike Lizzio, but I decided to blatantly steal it and post it as my own. He's my very own Bernard Pivot. So there you have it.

And now, without further ado...

The Best Things of 2008:

Movies -

"The Dark Knight" - Yeah, I know. Blah blah blah... "The Dark Knight" was great. The best comic film of all time, and all that... you've heard this many times before, now let's move on.

"Dear Zachary"- I watch a lot of films throughout the year, and this was the first film in several years years that actually evoked honest-to-God tears from my cynical eyes. It's truly a heart breaking story, but one that everyone should see, for sure. And, yeah, it's slightly amateurish in its construction, but it only adds to the piecemeal charm of the story as a whole. I loved this film and look forward to it getting released at some point on DVD so I can see it again.

"The Darjeeling Limited" - I managed to stay away from "The Darjeeling Limited" for as long as possible, after being let down in a big way by "The Life Aquatic." I'd assumed Wes Anderson had simply come down a case of terminal quirkiness. And after all that, when my netflix queue had been all but exhausted, I was pleasantly surprised when I strapped myself down and watched the film. You know what? It touched me in a way that I had forgotten that Wes Anderson's films were capable of doing. Well played, Mr. Anderson.

Book - 

The Death of the Grown-Up By Diana West

This was at once the most eye-opening and aggravating read of the year. People today seem to simply refuse to behave like adults, and West hits the nail on the head pegging this generation for it's many immature faults, some of which even I'm guilty of. But this is a must read for anyone who hates seeing adults wearing pajamas out in public, or donning Mohawks at the age of 35, as much as I do. And just for the record, I even hate mohawks on children, as well. You now what-- let's just say that Mohawks should only ever be found on Native Americans, and be done with it.

Music -

1.) Ben Folds "Way to Normal"

Folds has yet to let me down. His lyrics, his music-- everything he does just blows my mind. Get into him, if you aren't already. You won't regret it. And if you do get this album, make sure to also seek out the "leaked" version, with the alternate versions of the songs. The alternate of "The Bitch Went Nuts" is one of his greatest songs ever.

2.) Does it offend you, Yeah? "You Have No Idea What You're Getting Into"

These guys are amazing, especially live. Electronic/brit-pop/funk... they are so many things, I don't even know how to describe them. They are terrific, and they have been part of my regular iPod loop for several months now.

Comic Book -

Mouse Guard by David Petersen

I'm not a comics aficionado-- not by a long shot. But I have been getting more into so-called graphic novels, and I absolutely loved Mouse Guard. I seem to really enjoy comics in which animals are given human traits (I'm also really keen on reading Maus and Pride of Baghdad.) But what can I say-- with this one, the cover blurb says it all, "it's Lord of the Rings meets Stuart Little." How cool is that? I really hope this is made into a movie. Soon.

Website -

1.) This is probably my most frequently visited site, and by far the most entertaining film related podcast going. In fact, if I could only choose one podcast to listen to, this would be it. Good hosts, funny banter and always well-considered reviews. It's like Filmspotting, minus the film snobbery. That's not to say there isn't snobbery, just of a different sort... Anyhow, give it a listen, you'll enjoy it for sure.

2.) - I can hear the collective sighs as I type this, but I don't know what else to say-- this site always made me chuckle, and sometimes even crack up. You may have to be a cat person to truly enjoy it, but it's one of my favorite time waster on the internet. And if you have never heard of it, give it a look.

Video Game -

1.) "Portal"

It's such a simple, yet engrossing game. I wish it was 100 levels, or 1000 for that matter-- I simply could not stop playing it. And the creepiness factor was very high with this one. I can't explain exactly why, but this game creeped me out-- I think it's because I didn't quite understand the storyline-- but I do believe that was by design. If you haven't played it, you really need to check this one out. It's not your run-of-the-mill video game-- it's really a transcendent video game experience. Or, at least it was for me.

2.) "Fable 2" - It was good, certainly not great, but good. I suppose it's hard to live up to 4 years of hype, but it really fell well short of a masterpiece. That's not to say it sucked-- after all, I played it pretty much straight on through for a few weeks, so it definitely deserves a mention here. It's a solid fantasy game, which you'll beat pretty quickly and probably not play again.

Internet Discovery-

1.)Blogging - What a feeling, to write regularly and see your readership slowly grow. I love my blog, and it keeps me in the writing habit, even when I really don't feel like it. And even when I have a deadline that I'm ignoring-- like right now.

2.) Senuti- It's a Mac app (and iTunes spelled backwards...) that lets you take music off of other people's iPods and put it on yours with no hassle. It's awesome.

3.) BitTorrent - Or, as I call it, the program that saved me hundreds upon hundreds of dollars this year on music, software and anything else that can be downloaded. Sure, it's like stealing, but you can do it from your couch, so it can't be wrong, right?

Gadget -

1.) Blackberry Storm--

The much maligned touchscreen Blackberry is not nearly as bad as some people (i.e. iPhone fanboys) would have you believe. Is it as good with games and some apps as the iPhone? No. But it's a solid phone and the suretype screen is my favorite part of it. It's my connection to everyone and everything I need throughout the day, and I love it.

2.)My MacBook-- 

My first foray into the world of Mac has been absolutely wonderful. Everything works so effortlessly... and it doesn't crash! What a novel idea! To be fair, my first computer ever was a mac, but that was a Performa 450 back in the days of 2400 baud modems. This thing is sleek, sexy and... aluminum. Yeah, it's supposed to be the "greenest" Macbook ever. If by green, they mean expensive, they are correct. But it was worth it. This thing has quickly become my favorite ( I don't consider my wife and cat as belongings, so...), and I can already see I am slowly becoming a lifelong Mac user. I'll be selling my sperm and blood plasma to buy my next one, but who cares! Also, y'know, being a screenwriter and all, I had to kinda look the part... fake it til you make it, right?

Random celebrity happening -

1.) The Death of the Unbiased Media. Enough said.

2.) Celebrity "Pseudo-Retirement" 
The fad of Actors and Actresses threatening(?) to retire from acting is just ludicrous. I'm looking at you, Joaquin Phoenix, Emma Watson, Keira Knightley. Go ahead and do it. No skin off our collective asses. Why would you retire? You're a celebrity-- the most helpless, skill-lacking breed of human going. You will retire and do what, exactly? Plan your comeback? Please. You know you are of the luckiest .01% of the human race, and you know damn well that the only thing that will stop you from acting is if you overdose on drugs or crash your sports car.

What's that? Bitter? Me? No, I'm not bitter-- why do you ask?


So, there you have it. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but it will certainly suffice, considering it's New Year's Eve. Also-- the movies that I listed were not my top three overall, but simply three that I thought should be mentioned. I'll probably compile a list of the best films near Oscar time. Until then, I wish all of you a Happy New Year, and a hope that you'll pass on the news about my trusty little blog. Be safe. -- Jon

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Song of the Week: "Funny Little Frog" by Belle and Sebastian

This is the first installment of what will (hopefully) be a weekly feature on the blog. I'm not going to go too deep into my selections, beyond saying that it'll be songs that I think are great, that I think you should give a listen.

My first selection is from the band Belle and Sebastian, and it's called "Funny Little Frog."

So go ahead. Give it a listen.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Movin' on up...

So, I've been a bit lax in the posting department. Good reasons all around, I assure you. I mean, the end of the semester, holidays, a trip to Disney-- all of that notwithstanding, the hold up has more to do with the fact that I'm in the process of moving the ol' blog from Blogger to Wordpress. Essentially, I'm moving from one to the other to increase the amount of customizable options available for my posts. That's right-- I'm a grown up now. Writing some HTML, even.

Anyway, I do have a few good posts brewing, though. Within a couple of days or so, you'll be redirected to the kinda new, ever-so-slightly improved I hope.

Until then, I guess I'll catch you all surfing on the information super highway.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Game on

See that, right there to the left?

That's my XBOX avatar. A recent update to the XBOX 360 dashboard has taken (read: stolen) a page out of the Nintendo Wii's book, and enabled online users to create a personalized image for themselves. My first attempt at an avatar kind of made me look like an ultra-hip lesbian, so I thought I'd take another shot. This is what I came up with-- I think it's slightly better.

I'm able to share my avatar on my blog with this neat little trick from Sean Dwyer over on his blog, Media Bytes. If you have an XBOX avatar, simply plug your gamertag into this bit address:

Obviously you'll simply place you gamertag in the space where it says (gamertag).

And if you do have one, friend me-- my Gamertag is JonRocks62. Though I'm rarely online on my XBOX because my router is far away from my system, and I refuse to pay $100 for the XBOX wireless receiver. Truth be told, I rarely get to play it at all anymore. But, I'll get on eventually, and accept any and all friends. So, game on... at some point in time.

Monday, December 1, 2008

I'm turning...

My friends, I write these words from the humble keyboard of a budget priced Gateway laptop. It's treated me well over the past few years. However, during the final days of my thesis, it averaged about 4 crashes a day. Two of those crashes saw me lose over two hours worth of work each. Not cool.

So, I've decided to do it. I'm going to remortgage my house, sell my blood plasma and visit the sperm bank a few times so that I can afford to treat myself-- I'm getting a Mac.

That's right-- I'm going to be one of those people now. You know, the people you see at the coffee shop who look upon your Gateway or Dell with a mixture of pity and disgust. I'll be joining the cooler-than-you set, which is odd because, in 99% of cases, I am not cooler than anyone. Trust me. And I do feel compelled to say that I hate-- no-- loathe those bullshit Justin Long Mac commercials. It is perhaps the most arrogant ad campaign I have ever been privy to. Those commercials alone almost made me not even want a Mac.


What can I say-- I'm an aspiring writer. A Mac is what I've wanted all along-- and sometimes you have to look the part, right? So Apple gift cards will dominate my Christmas list this year, in hopes that they will soften the blow at the bottom line of a Mac purchase. Not likely.

So, my friends, I'll still be the same old Jon. I'll still write this blog for an audience of about 4. If you see me in a coffee shop or book store, say hello. And if I give you a smug eye-brow raised look when you plug in your PC, rest assured-- I'm just keeping up appearances. I'm still PC friendly at heart.

So, now, let me try out some snobby mac-user lingo...

Ciao, babes.