Thursday, April 30, 2009

Best I Continue to Choose to Believe

Here's the first full trailer to the GI JOE movie.

Plus d'infos sur ce film
Even though it's directed by the guy who made the Mummy movies (the WORST action movies I've ever, ever seen...well, I didn't see the Mummy III, maybe that one redeemed the other two? No? Didn't think so.) I, for some reason, think this looks cool and fun.

And here's a link to the latest Transformers 2 trailer. I hope against hope that this one will not turn my guts inside out with disgust like the first one, but I can only hope for so much--this trailer doesn't really help, I only see evidence of what irked me the first time, plus new problems (So this movie is about the bad guys trying to resuscitate an evil robot called the Fallen? Kind of like how the first one was about the bad guys trying to resuscitate Megatron? Sheesh.) Transformers 1 has been playing on TV a lot lately so I've tried watching it here and there, hoping to find that I take to it for some reason on additional viewings. Nope, not happening. It just makes me even madder than before, now I'm noticing things like the fact that you can almost never see a whole robot, only pieces of robots passing through the frame. Why must life be so hard?

Oh, and I'm not surprised that Wolverine is getting terrible reviews, that's the vibe I was picking up all along. It seems like only girls are excited about this movie. Have you noticed that?

Best Terrible News

"Mexico City shuts down taco stands."
The Swine flu. Now I'm starting to take it seriously.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Best Game Changer

A fellow named Cool Papa Bell shared this brilliant bit of re-thinking in a thread on the internet about Ferris Bueller's Day Off:

My favorite thought-piece about Ferris Bueller is the "Fight Club" theory, in which Ferris Bueller, the person, is just a figment of Cameron's imagination, like Tyler Durden, and Sloane is the girl Cameron secretly loves.

One day while he's lying sick in bed, Cameron lets "Ferris" steal his father's car and take the day off, and as Cameron wanders around the city, all of his interactions with Ferris and Sloane, and all the impossible hijinks, are all just played out in his head. This is part of the reason why the "three" characters can see so much of Chicago in less than one day -- Cameron is alone, just imagining it all.

It isn't until he destroys the front of the car in a fugue state does he finally get a grip and decide to confront his father, after which he imagines a final, impossible escape for Ferris and a storybook happy ending for Sloane ("He's gonna marry me!"), the girl that Cameron knows he can never have.

The next time I watch this movie it could be a whole different experience. What if this was the director's point all along and no one ever knew?

Best Please Tell Me More About Your Hippie Cult

When proselytizing, it's good to have something on hand that catches the eye of the man on the street, such as a totally rad bus.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Best Strikes One and Two

In New York there is a museum, the Museum of Art and Design, and I have twice failed to get the most out of it.

When their new building opened on Columbus Circle last September they had free admission that first weekend, so I went to try to enjoy it freely. But so did everyone else in Manhattan. In the rain. So I observed the balloon people for a bit and called it quits.

The MAD has "pay what you want" on Thursday nights, and last week I finally got around to going to pay what you want night. I paid $3, went inside, and discovered only 3 of the museums 9 floors were open. I would have liked to have gotten two of my three dollars back.

The one thing that was neat was there was this ceramicist making his art on the 7th floor. His thing, he explained, is that he works 8 hour days in his suit, then puts what he makes in his briefcase...

And then slams it shut and takes it home.

Later on he takes these lumps out of the briefcase and fires and glazes them.

File the cloth where he pounds the clay under art as well.

The MAD has nice Columbus Circle and Central Park views. This is probably what I looked at the longest during the 40 minutes I was there.

The other things to see at the museum that day were: the permanent collection (during which I was told there was no photography allowed in the museum...just like there are no signs saying that there is no photography allowed in the museum allowed in the museum. I had to delete a few pictures off the camera for the security guard, these ones survive), an exhibit about radiators, and some jewerly.

Based on these two trips, I feel I'm in no position at all to comment on whether the MAD is a legitimate museum or not. Perhaps there will be a third trip, a well-planned third trip when the museum is bursting with things to see. Perhaps.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Best Today Was Absolutely Awesome

It was in the 80s and the whole city rejoiced. So many content hours spent in the park.

We weren't the only one to enjoy it (duh). Came home and saw this great status update from my old stake president on Facebook. I feel we've always gotten along well, sort of wondered why, now I think I know... (hint: it's in the fifth line)

ALSO. The big news:

Salta, Argentina is the new Bilbao, Spain which was the new Mexico City North.
Barnes hearts swell with pride.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Best Steely Resolve

From a gchat yesterday afternoon. I left my co-chatter hanging on where I was headed, they tried to reel me back in with some very tempting conversation bait as I tied my shoes and headed off:

[begin chat]
ME: you won't believe where I'm going right now!
THEM: a few guesses...
the superhero store?
carnegie hall
fuku that is
5:44 PM
New museum?
ME: all good and close, but not where I'm going
ok, I got to go where I'm going cuz I'm going there right now
5:45 PM
THEM: tell me first
ME: nope, sorry. I just left. I'll tell you after.
them: please!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
don't leave me hanging
5:46 PM
ME: sorry. i left!
THEM: ughh
I'll find you
you can't escape me

i know you didn't just leave me hanging

5:47 PM

I ate a whole pig today

and played Guitar Hero

and watched Real Housewives
and all seasons of Friday Night Lights

you're really not there huh?
5:48 PM
and did you know that my aunt is Susan Boyle?
5:49 PM

[end chat]

Very hard to resist, but I did. Good thing they didn't ask me to guess what their favorite Slayer song was.

And I've only watched Real Housewives once, but it made a real impression on me.

Best it Was 70 and It Was Sunny: Behind the Scenes

I bet you didn't realize that Andy has a giant bunny.

Her name is Ellie. She has her own bedroom.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Best Use of Available Hours

I think I give off the impression of watching a lot more TV and playing a lot more videogames than I actually do. But during March, a month where I lived in an apartment with an enormous TV and an X-BOX 360, I certainly did put in some video game time. But don't worry! I wasn't wiling away my time pointlessly, no, I was playing the BEST video game(s) I've played in maybe ever. I was playing (and beating) Half-Life 2 and its follow-ups, Half-Life 2 Episode 1 and Half-Life 2 Episode 2.

Okay, if you've played Half-Life 2 then you don't need to read any more of this post because you know how good it is.
If you haven't played, then please, let me try to explain my enthusiasm.

This is a video of one of my favorite sequences in HL2. Really, you don't have to watch it, I just didn't want this page to go imageless.

It is difficult for me to pin down exactly why Half-Life 2 is so great. It's just one of those games where you run around with your gun sticking out in front of you, shooting bad guys and solving puzzles. But there's something about this game . . . it's very immersive, there are no cutscenes, the whole thing happens continuously, you're running through the whole story and the whole story is happening to you. But the main thing is this game feels like it must have been made by video game making geniuses because something awesome and interesting is constantly happening, there's just excellent pacing, and some how this atmosphere emerges from the game that has you really feeling like, yeah, you're this scientist and you're right in the middle of a major league crisis on earth (being taken over by aliens, of course). Sometimes you're sneaking around and just trying not to be killed in some tunnels, sometimes you're stuck in the middle of what feels like a full out rebel war. The danger escalates through the game and it contains some of the most exciting "Oh crap!" moments I've encountered in videogames (of which, like I was saying, I haven't played that many of [since High School])--for example, there are these really tough villains called Striders which are like giant daddy long legs with gattling guns that take a whole lot of rockets to blow up. They are DEADLY and they are hard to kill. The first time you have to fight a Strider you don't have to fight A strider, you have to fight about five or six. But later on, there's times (like at the end of Episode 1) where you just have to fight one Strider--part of you wants to be like, "Oh, no big deal, just have to fight one strider" but the fight is so hairy! You'll die so much, and just love it.

I shouldn't have written that long paragraph, I should have written: Half-Life 2 (and Episode 1 and Episode 2 [and no, I don't understand why they aren't called Episode 2 and Episode 3]) is as good as many great books that I've read. And I don't feel like the hours and hours I spent playing it were misspent. At all.

Also, what's really great is you can get all three Half-Life 2 games and the spectacular Portal and never-played-by-me Team Fortress 2 all together on the budget-friendly Orange Box collection.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Best More Chinatown than Chinatown

Friday I was walking down Eldridge and there were all these lanterns up and I was like "Yeah, this is more like it...this is like Chinatown in the movies"

Turns out it WAS the Chinatown from the movies, they're filming Jerry Bruckheimer's "Sorcerer's Apprentice" for Disney with Nicolas Cage as the sorcerer over there. Of course. And yes, there will be brooms.

If you ask me, that daytime lantern picture is actually pretty dope

Monday, April 20, 2009

Best Getting to Know the Neighborhood: Two Victories

A while back I learned that "sichuan" means the food is going to be spicy, and for me, that's nearly all the Chinese I need to know. In an effort to see what living on the edge of Chinatown has to offer me in the spicy and delicious department, I went to menupages and looked for nearby establishments with the word "sichuan" in their name. Sadly, only two came up, but happily, I've now eaten at both and they both were totally great.

Restaurant #1: The Grand Sichuan @ 125 Canal Street

I went here on Friday, which was a super-sunny and perfect day. They sat me near a window watching the traffic empty off from the Manhattan Bridge...something about it had me feeling like I was in Los Angeles. The Grand Sichuan was heaps cheap, offering a $4.65 lunch special (entree, soup, rice)--but even crazier, this special was $3.75 until recently. Sheesh!

Prices so nice that I ordered a bowl of Dan Dan Noodles, too. Looking at this picture, can you tell what's the best thing about the Grand Sichuan? Well, the best thing about the Grand Sichuan was that the waitress noticed I drink LOTS of water and just left the pitcher with me. That's service! And these dan dan noodles were just great...of course, this picture is before I mixed them all up, all the peppers and hot oil and pork were hiding at the bottom.

Here's the part of the lunch that was $4.65: I had the Sichuan Double Cooked Pork and a Hot and Sour soup. The soup was, unfortunately, nothing at all special but the pork was great. Just slices of pork, green pepper, onion, and hot peppers. Plenty of mouth-tingling spice, I was very happy with this meal (next time I'll try a different soup, perhaps their sichuan wonton?)

Restaurant #2: Famous Sichuan & 10 Pell Street

Ate here today (Monday.) First of all, if you want to go to a street that will really make you feel like you're in China Town (and not in a shoulder to shoulder tourist destination), take a walk down Pell. Secondly, it was all rainy and gray today and this place was a perfect rainy day-destination. Very hospitable environment with large fish tanks full of fish for eating and other tanks with fish for looking at. A few tables of Chinese families having magnificent looking lunches, and me, just looking at the lunch menu.

Set lunches at Famous Sichuan were $5.85 which included entree, rice, soup (another lackluster bowl of hot and sour) and a spicy pickled cabbage and carrot appetizer. I ordered the Sauteed Vermicelli with Spicy Minced Pork which had two peppers by it on the menu (as opposed to the typical one pepper spice indication). While I think things like double or triple black diamond designations for ski runs are silly and over the top, I appreciate a menu that helps me find a restaurants spiciest dishes at a glance.
And the double-pepper rating didn't lie, this big bowl of noodles, peppers, and pork was delicious AND spicy enough to inspire me to stir in some rice to cut down on the mercilessness of it a bit. Eating something good and good and spicy just puts me in an absolutely proper mood. I wish I could just eat this picture. I REALLY liked Famous Sichuan and I REALLY want to go back. Consider it perhaps the first place I've discovered that I'll long for and travel to once my Elizabeth street days are over.

(And if I have room when I'm done, I'll go over to the Grand Sichuan for a second lunch.)
(But also, I've read that the Grand Sichuan does an excellent hot pot, and I've never even had Chinese hot pot, so I need to go learn about that)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Best All Up In Tha Club

Saturday was Bryndee's birthday, we celebrated the normal way: clubbin'. Fact: first time in all my New York years that I'd done anything like this. It wasn't so bad, I'd say I had fun. Sometimes it's just nice to get out.

(If you didn't know, Bryndee is the one pointing in this picture)

You know about me and hats.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY BRYNDEE. (and Happy Birthday to Akon, too.)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Best Mysterious Notice

Best It Was 75 and It Was Sunny

I was so close to spending the day outside, but then I turned the TV on during lunch and discovered there's a complete Star Wars marathon on TV. Do you realize how true to the pure spirit of Star Wars the opening of Revenge of the Sith is? Now this is some real Star Warsin'.

I know I can break away from this, I know it. But I also know how I might be spending my birthday.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Best It Was 70 and It Was Sunny

Andy told me his Mom would put a couple Sunkist in the fridge and I told him I'd be right over.

—Andy, I gotta tell you a funny story about [redacted].
—Is it embarrassing?
—Aren't most funny stories?
—Is it about the time he f--ted and his pants fell off?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Best I Will Put a Stop to This

People! Americans! Control yourselves!

Now I'm definitely not against Susan and I'm not against Britain's Got Talent operating as a place where everyone's got a shot and where the downtrodden-seeming have a chance to prove themselves. What I'm against is the way everyone is behaving. Quit posting on Facebook that this performance changed your life! Quit making it clear to us about all the crying you've been doing! What your posts need to say is "Again?!" Have you forgotten that this happened before? Less than two years ago? When that dopey guy came out on Britain's Got Talent that everyone thought was too dopey to be good but then he killed it on that song and everyone started posting it and mailing it around and telling each other that it made them cry?! Well I haven't forgotten about that, because I was one of those people . . . -ish! Hey, the world is full of dopey and frumpy people and some of them have talents and some work hard just like beautiful people sometimes have talents and sometimes work hard. Control yourselves! Don't go into complete hysterics every time one of them shows up on TV or the internet!

How are you going to be acting when this exact same thing happens next season?

I blame the judges for this mania, they were the first three people in the world who could have at least mentioned that this exact same sort of jaw-dropping Ugly Ducking performance totally happened before.

(If you haven't seen this spectacular youtube, check it out here, the embedding has been disabled so that's why you have to click through.)

(And this is the dopey guy you've all forced out of your memory.)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Best Report from Oak Park: Alternate Birthday Cake Photos

Thanks to Mom, we've got two more pictures of me with my birthday bunny cake to make up for the one I posted where I'm smiling weird.

Also, in these pictures I'm wearing a t-shirt from my Sectional Meet 14 years ago, That's what happens when you go home, you find yourself wearing really old t-shirts.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Best Report from Oak Park: With Details

So, yes. Got back today from an Easter trip home. It was good, it was fun. Everyone got along. No one got lost. Not much happened (just as I hoped) and not many pictures were taken, but the following I can account for:

1. Mom and Grandma picked me up from the airport Thursday. We went straight to Culvers.

Favorite burger in the Chicagoland area? Quite possibly. A deluxe double bacon burger always hits the spot something fierce.

2. Thursday night Mom made my favorite casserole, Chicken Macaroni Casserole.

3. Friday Mom and I saw a matinee of Monsters vs. Aliens in 3D. Hmpf. Nothing too special, unfortunately. What? I expected entertainment, okay?! On the way home we got Johnnies. Pretty much I always eat from the exact same places when I come home, so I switched it up by ordering something I had never had before: the pepper & egg & sausage combo (available Fridays only!) (I also had a hot dog.)

4. Friday night Mom, Dad, Emily and I played Scrabble. I won because I was the only person who kept track of their score. At the end of the game, when it got friendly, we were able to use all but one single tile.

5. Saturday I went with Emily and Grandma to the Oak Brook mall to get a new white shirt. We had lunch at the California Pizza Chicken.

I chose pizza over chicken. And if I hadn't eaten this whole stinking thing I would have had more room for Las Fuentes.

6. Can you believe it? We had dinner at Las Fuentes on Saturday night. Whilst dining I invented an awesome new Mexican treat: the taquito taco!

7. Here's the cat.

8. Kristen came out Saturday night and we all went to church together on Easter. That's a whole lot of Barneses for normal little Easter Sunday, isn't it? Well, truth is we were all in Chicago because Dad was getting an exciting new calling. What calling? I was thinking about telling you later. But you probably know already, because you're my Mom, and you're the only person that reads what I write with each picture.

Here's a bunch of pictures of Mom and Dad. I don't post these because you're dying to see sort of the same picture over and over, I post them so Mom can click on them and make them big and download them and decide which she likes best to keep forever.

(I told a joke)

Normal family pictures resume here:

9. On the way home from church there were dinosaurs in the woods. Can you see them?

10. Easter Dinner!

11. Easter Dinner was also my honorary birthday party, this is my birthday cake. It is not an Easter cake. You're thinking of a different bunny cake. This is the Birthday Bunny. Also, I have trouble smiling, okay?

12. Monday morning: Grandma left.

13. Monday afternoon: Mom took me to Mickey's (an Oak Park institution equally popular with High Schoolers who have cars and Construction Workers jonesing for a Pizza Puff) because they have a rib deal on Mondays. I think she just wanted to find something to keep me busy while she and Kristen talked about being Moms.

I also had one of their Big Mickey double cheeseburgers which I always felt were pretty meh and turns out they still are.

14. And that's pretty much the trip. Just imagine a really laid back five days spent in Oak Park and you'd be imagining my Easter vacation pretty dang accurately.