5 things

"I literally can’t deal with this until, like, Friday."

I heard a gal say that into her phone (she looked pretty stressed) earlier today. Literally, I heard that.


5 things I know today I didn’t know on Friday:

1) Lost.

I don’t know how anyone was able to watch six seasons of that show with entire weeks between episodes. And then months between seasons! Holy hell.

My wife and I have now become very accustomed to this routine after an episode (Netflix streaming earning its keep, baby!):

**Show ends, usually on some sort of aggravating cliffhanger. The fade to black and the quick title, “Lost,” is also usually accompanied by an aggressive soundtrack. Typically a final drum beat or, more often, a sort of siren-y sound.

**Then the final credits roll and that closing theme plays. It gets stuck in your head. My wife says, “Next one!” and I’ll often do a quick “dance” around the room in my version of “in rhythm” before hitting “Next Episode”.

(Also: my wife will usually be humming the 4 repetitive notes from that song as we attempt to go to sleep after finally shutting Netflix down for the evening.)

**Rinse and repeat. Rinse and repeat. We’re probably averaging 3-4 episodes a day. About 2/3 done with season 2.

I honestly don’t know how anyone could stand waiting for days, weeks, months before the “next one!”

2) Over the Xmas break, thanks to my sister’s bf (not sayin’, just sayin,’ the dude is becoming kind of a big deal) I saw the following flicks:

Contagion — makes you think, and it’s good from start to finish. Stop touching your face!!

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy — other than being a bit of a mouthful to say, damned good spy movie. I’ll have to watch it again sometime to try and make sure I understand everything that went down.

Kung Fu Panda 2 — surprisingly, not an embarrassment to the first one. (So curious to know how much folks like Angelina Jolie, who had maybe 7 lines to voice for her character, get paid for such “work”.)

The Descendants — a little depressing, but great characters and a touching finish.

Young Adult — Funny. Depressing. I’m not exactly sure which percentage of each.

3) It snowed yesterday in DC (that’s me with our dogs). I believe that’s the first time this “winter”. Lasted, maybe… 30 minutes? Evidence pretty much gone by this morning.

4) Alright, looking for an assist from someone web savvy.

Where should I look, or how should I go about, finding “good deals” on airline tickets to Hawaii?

5) Anyone that watches basketball on TNT knows how entertaining Charles Barkley CAN be.

He can also be, to quote Charles himself, “turrible.”

And he was quite turrible on SNL this weekend. Yikes.

Equally turrible: a movie I randomly discovered on Netflix last night when we decided to take an evening off from Lost. It had Bruce Willis! And Ryan Phillli9ippe! And, ah, 50 Cent!

It’s called Setup.

It’s not even rated on Rotten Tomatoes. Because they didn’t put it in theaters.

For good reason.







5 things

Yesterday was a holiday.

You already knew that.

I’m just saying, that’s why… I didn’t… blog? Or something.

(Also, having MLK Day off is Reason #214 I’m glad I no longer work in radio.)

5 things I know today I didn’t know on Friday the 13th (did anyone else not realize last Friday was Friday the 13th?):

1) My functionality as a human being goes down DRAMATICALLY when the wife isn’t around. I mean, good god! When I got home from work on Friday, she was already in Baltimore, where she would be until Sunday night (dance stuff).

Guess when the next shower yours truly took was after Friday morning?

Hint: my wife was back from the ‘More.


It’s better for everyone if she’s around to keep me, you know, alive, functioning, and at least moderately responsible.

2) Ever notice how every time you see Giovanni Ribisi in a movie you’re thinking, “Why is he talking like that???”

I’ve always assumed it’s some odd character trait he’s CHOOSING to portray.

But after,  yet again, asking myself that question during Contraband last night it occurred to me… maybe Mr. Ribisi just has a genuine, genuinely, REALLY annoying voice.

3) Tim Tebow fans: TOLD YOU SO.

Dude is a bad quarterback.


And yes, yes, I know I’m going to hell now.

He’s still a bad quarterback.

4) THIS ONE’S HOT OFF THE PRESS (courtesy of my pal and co-worker, Kaleb): Don’t lose your wireless network password if you’re with Comcast.


It’s $80 to have them reset it.


5) Lost.

We’re cruising through Season 3.

Jack kind of annoys me. So does John.

I’d rather follow Sayid or Jin. Just me.

(Bonus thing) 6) EIGHTY DOLLARS!!!!! (See #4)



Giovanni Ribisi and his annoying vocals will be there. So should you.

And by “there” I mean… read the Empire (buy it) on Thursday.

MY COLUMN: The Big Screen and the Boob Tube

In today’s Juneau Empire (buy a paper if you’re in Southeast Alaska!). Also available online here.

I sincerely hope that the print edition does not feature my goofy mug in quite so much glory as the online version.

Apologies for those of you that click over to the Empire link and have me staring back at you with my creeper smile (sadly, it’s the only one I’ve got).

Alright, alright — The Big Screen and the Boob Tube:

'Mission Impossible 4': one heck of a ride

You people have to stop! Seriously, the emails, snail mail letters, phone calls, texts, Facebook posts, they are all very nice. It’s too much, though. “Where did you go?” you ask. “We are dying to know what you think of ‘Mission: Impossible 4’!” you write. “Our lives just aren’t the same without your column!” you say. It’s true, my appearances in this space will now take place but once a month, but something tells me we’ll get through the change together.

I’m sorry? What’s that? Nobody noticed I was gone? No emails, texts, Facebook posts? Oh. Right. Well, this is awkward. Whatever. The once-a-month part is true, though. Hence the new column title and handsome new picture. Actually, this is going to be fun. We’ll hang out less often, but we’ll get to talk about more than just movies. We get to talk about the boob tube, too!

First, though, let’s talk IMF. No, not International Monetary Fund. Rather, the Impossible Missions Force. The much more fun of the two, I think we can all agree. IMF agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is back for a fourth installment in “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol,” and the franchise is still looking quite healthy after the surprisingly good third chapter (J.J. Abrams’ “Mission: Impossible 3”).

So far, Cruise as Hunt has gone like this: Entertaining but confusing as hell in Brian De Palma’s “Mission: Impossible” (1996), entertaining but way, way, way over the top in John “Over The Top” Woo’s “Mission: Impossible 2” (2000), entertaining in a downright awesome action flick in Abrams’ 2006 film, and now? Now it’s Brad Bird behind the camera. You know, the well-known action director who cut his chops on equally well-known action adventures such as “Ratatouille,” “The Incredibles” and “The Iron Giant.”

Wait, what? Those are all cartoons! Luckily for Bird, the “Mission: Impossible” franchise is as close to a cartoon as you can get with real-life Cruise constantly sprinting after bad guys, jumping off the tops of the world’s tallest buildings, and generally getting smashed, blown up, beat up, shot, stabbed and drugged so often it’s amazing he’s still even able to speak coherently. No matter the reason, I’m pleased to report that Bird’s turn behind the “Mission: Impossible” camera ranks him ahead of both De Palma and Woo, maybe just a notch below Abrams.

Maybe you’re wondering what the plot of “Ghost Protocol” is. My wife was, too, as we waited for the screening to start. “Okay,” she said, “what’s this about?” I’ll tell you what I told her: Cruise plays Hunt, who works for an agency like the CIA, only it’s more CIA-y than the CIA. He and his team do the stuff that nobody else can or will and if they get caught, they’re screwed.

Beyond that? Dude, “Ghost Protocol” is 133 minutes long. It’s part of a franchise that is about spies who are constantly lying, double-crossing, and wearing masks that enable them to perfectly impersonate other characters. Sometimes, like with De Palma’s movie, there is so much lying and double-crossing that when the final credits roll everyone (including De Palma, I suspect) has lost track of what the hell is going on. “Ghost Protocol” doesn’t shy away from the lying, double-crossing or the masks. Trying to explain it in any meaningful way would only result in you (and me) feeling like we just watched the first “Mission: Impossible”.

The only unique things you need to know about “Ghost Protocol” ahead of time are: Cruise definitely sprints after bad guys, but this time it’s through a severe sandstorm in Dubai. He also definitely jumps off the top of a tall building (again, in Dubai). And the finale involves by far the best onscreen use of one of those fancy, sky scraping, fully automated parking garages I can remember.

It is a hell of a ride, and I know I’m not alone in that thinking. Pretty noticeable when only a single person gets up for a potty break in a packed theater during a 133-minute film.


Now for the second portion of the new title: the boob tube. With roughly 2,341 channels to choose from, we all have our own personal assortments of shows. We all have our own ways, even, in which we get our TV. Satellites, cable boxes, Netflix, Hulu or even the websites that allow some of us to, ahem, watch things without necessarily being on the up-and-up. Not that I would know anything about those types of sites. No matter what I cover here, someone’s going to disagree with some part of it.

Tell you what, though. I’m always looking for new shows to incorporate into my own assortment. Facebook me. Email me. Post at me via the blog ( Tell me what I’m missing.

I’m like the Green Bay Packers season ticket office: happy to add you to the waiting list. Several friends and a few references from writers I read have earned Showtime’s “Homeland” a spot on the list. Claire Danes as a bi-polar CIA agent? Sure, sign me up. Also currently on the waiting list: HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire”, ABC’s “Lost” (retroactively), and FOX’s “Alcatraz” (coming in early 2012).

As Christmas nears and various TV shows wrap up their seasons, let me just give you a scattershot of what my personal TV assortment has included recently. “Dexter” (Showtime – about a serial killer in Miami that only kills bad guys) just finished its sixth season and the final 30 seconds of the finale were perhaps the best 30 seconds yet. The subject matter isn’t for everyone, but the show is executed masterfully.

I’m behind on “Breaking Bad” (AMC – about a high school science teacher who turns to dealing meth as a way to provide for his family after he’s diagnosed with cancer), but that show is mind-bendingly brilliant if you can stomach the gruesome parts. “The Walking Dead” (also AMC – all about zombies) has stayed remarkably interesting despite the played out apocalyptic premise.

NBC’s “Parenthood” (self explanatory) is a show everybody should give a chance. Dax Shepard can actually act, by the way. Weird. “Parks and Recreation” (also NBC) is probably the funniest show not nearly enough of you are watching regularly. “Terra Nova” (FOX) has dinosaurs and is watchable. And both “Survivor” and “The Amazing Race” (CBS) continue to be reliably good, even after the 301st and 299th seasons, respectively, just wrapped.

Finally, “The Office,” a show that once made me fall off a treadmill as I failed to simultaneously run and laugh, is done. It pains me to write that. I’ll still watch as long as it’s on, but it’s done.

Oh, as is any sitcom you can think of. I don’t care what you’re watching or how highly it’s rated. Sitcoms are dead. They’re not funny and actually make me angry they’re so bad. I’d rather (and do, thanks to my wife) watch “Sixteen and Pregnant” on MTV.

On that note, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Feel free to cyber-yell at me about any of the above before we do the next installment in January. I can take it. What I can’t take, is pretending “Two And A Half Men” is or ever was remotely funny.

Tom Cruise and Germany is sexist

Somehow, it seemed almost appropriate to link these two items here.

First, I stumbled across a trailer for a movie called Jack Reacher. I’d never heard of it. But it’s got Tom Cruise and he is being a badass. I don’t care if he’s a super weirdo in real life (he is). Dude can act.

Click here for the very Mission: Impossibly-feeling trailer.

Second, I read this story this morning on the way to work. Essentially, this town in Germany has made a couple of its more tricky parking spaces “men only.” You know, because women, you know, aren’t as good at parking. Or driving. And stuff.

It’s funny!

Also, at least in the case of my wife and me — backwards. She’s WAY better at parallel parking than I am.

And she’s Asian.

5 (Xmas) things

"Best. Christmas. Ever."

I say it every year for my mother. So far, it has held the double-meaning of also being true. This year continues that tradition.


5 things I know the day-after-our-day-after-Xmas-day-version-of-Xmas that I didn’t know on Friday:

1) It can be scary going off-script for your wife’s Xmas present/s. You know, venturing off of the list via email where you can just click a link, hit “submit order”, and be 100% certain that she’ll like it. After all, she picked it out!

This year, I sent said links to the rest of the family to make sure she got lots of that stuff.

Me? I went with a couple of things that I was, say, 85% certain she’d like. But 15% worried there would be that awful moment where a person’s face betrays how much they don’t like what they’ve just unwrapped.

I’ve had a few misses, believe you me.

This year, though, I think I did alright. Just sayin’, guys… going off-script can work out.

(It doesn’t always. Also just sayin’.)

2) The Minnesota Timberwolves have been terrible, and I mean just terrible, for a long time. Forever? Kaaaaaaaahhhnn!

They might still be quite terrible.

BUT, this 21 year old kid from Spain (Ricky Rubio) can pass the basketball. Digging his highlights after, granted, 1 game.

3) The drive from Arlington, VA to Cape Charles, VA (pictured) takes a solid 5 hours when there’s any sort of traffic.

4) The drive is worth it.

5) As 2011 quickly ticks down to 2012, there’s a name change you should all be aware of. GREAT (several kinds of GREAT, actually) coffee can be delivered right to your front door directly from a farm on the Big Island.

The farm formerly known as Makana Gardens (and you can still go to that website) is now:


I vouch for them.

I hope to, maybe, join them… some day…

I hope your holiday was/is grand!

Cheers from Cape Charles, Virginia.

2 things

Getting cute on a Sunday with the title…

2 things I knew today but wanted to pass along anyway:

1) Fans (i.e. you) control a lot of the roster makeup in the Pro Bowl (NFL All-Star Game). It’s a chance to either, A) shamelessly vote for your team’s players, regardless of if they’re the most deserving or not, or B) vote as if you’re a legit judge of talent and don’t have a favorite team.

Or C) pretend to do a cross between A) and B) before sort of gravitating toward A).

Anyway, ballots close tomorrow.

Go vote right now to try and make the Pro Bowl slightly more watchable.  Never mind the fact that half the guys who “make it” will bow out of the free Hawaii trip with an “injury”.


I’m excited.  Seeing the content for the meat of the column tonight (hint: Tom Cruise is involved).

MY COLUMN: 'Total Recall' a total blast

A day late with this. I was out of the office yesterday and then just, how do I put this… lazy. I was lazy.

So, no need to ask you to buy a paper if you’re in Juneau. (Seriously, though, buy a paper if you’re in Juneau. The newspaper industry needs your pocket change.) Link to the review in the Juneau Empire here, or just scroll down:

By Chester Duke Carson FOR THE JUNEAU EMPIRE

Fans of The Governator’s 1990 version of “Total Recall” tend to share a common concern with this reboot. They’re worried that an iconic figure from the original will be forgotten in the Colin Farrell version. And no, they’re not worried about cameos from Arnold Schwarzenegger or Sharon Stone.

They’re terrified this “Total Recall” will forget the three-boobed lady. Spoiler alert! She hasn’t been forgotten.

Now, with those weirdoes breathing a little easier, let’s move on. It’s appropriate to compare the two movies to start. They’re both inspired by the Philip K. Dick short story, “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale.” They both center on a man named Douglas Quaid. Both movies quickly reveal that things are not what they seem. At least not to Douglas. Not after visiting a place (Rekall) that specializes in giving you memories that aren’t real. He’s married to Lori, but Lori is soon trying to kill him. He dreams about Melina, but he has no idea who she is.

And P.S., Douglas, you may or may not be a super-skilled secret agent. You might also be dreaming. What is real, what is fake, what is somewhere in between is all a mystery to poor Douglas. From there, The Governator’s movie and Farrell’s drift apart. Arnold’s goes to Mars. Farrell’s never leaves Earth.

Here’s how else the two movies differ: this one is rad.

Before Arnold’s fans track me down in a roid rage, I enjoyed his “Total Recall” as well. It’s fun. It’s over-the-top action. It’s gory. It’s Ah-nold at his best.

The Governator’s “Total Recall” never made me jump with surprise, though. I never found myself inadvertently yelling “Holy hell!” during its action sequences. I didn’t constantly have to scoot back in my seat to avoid falling off. Director Len Wiseman (“Live Free or Die Hard”) knows how to direct an action flick.

Nobody is going to claim Farrell is on Arnold’s level as an action hero (after all, only one of them is in the upcoming “The Expendables 2,” which by rule includes every single action star known to man). Conversely, it’s probably safe to say that Farrell is considerably more gifted as an actor than The Governator. Farrell’s Quaid feels more layered. He seems like he has more going on in his head. It’s easier, then, to invest in him a bit emotionally.

Sorry, Team Arnold, but I’m not sure I’ve ever invested a single emotion in a Governator character. Well, unless you count feeling like I wanted to gouge out my own eyeballs with a spoon while sitting through his Mr. Freeze scenes in “Batman & Robin.”

Still, while Farrell gives Quaid a bit more depth, let’s not pretend the “Total Recall” reboot isn’t just as much of an action extravaganza as the original. Wiseman’s movie features a future Earth where the majority of the planet is inhabitable (sadly plausible). The Colony (Australia) is where the common folk, including Quaid, live. They mostly work, however, in what remains of Great Britain. The cross-planet commute is actually fairly quick. Called “The Fall” by the future peeps, it’s essentially a commuter rail that goes through the planet. As in, through the middle of it. The core and everything. Visually, the future world is a lot of fun.

Commuting through the earth’s core every day? C’mon, that is cool.

Living in that world, of course, isn’t as fun as looking at it on the big screen. Quaid, like most of us, feels very much unfulfilled. He commutes across the planet every day to work in a factory. He commutes back home to his tiny apartment. Rinse. Repeat. Rinse. Repeat. His attraction to Rekall is more than understandable.

Unlike most of us, Quaid’s wife (an awesomely vindictive, hateful Kate Beckinsale) relentlessly chases him all over the planet trying to blow him up. The girl of his dreams, literally, is Jessica Biel and she apparently loves him deeply. Also, she can hold her own in a future car chase, gun battle, whatever.

Just in case things aren’t stressful enough already for Quaid, there’s also the fact that he’s the only thing standing between The Colony and an all-out invasion by an army of robots. The Chancellor of the hoity-toity Great Britain part of the planet (an arrogantly corrupt Bryan Cranston taking a break from cooking meth) is running out of living space, you see, and he means to take it by force.

Quaid, then, has to figure out who he actually is. He has to avoid getting murdered by his wife. And he needs to save the world. No big deal.

“Total Recall” is a total blast.

5 things

One week until this season of Hard Knocks starts on HBO. Oh, and this year it’s about the team in Miami. The Dolphins. I’ll be watching. I think the person who owns this car will be, too.

5 things I know today I didn’t know on Friday:

1) My wife, well, my wife’s Asian parents — again, I’m allowed to say things like this without fear of reprisal because I married into those rights — apparently never got the memo on the dentist. You know, the one where it says, “Go to the dentist”?


She has been twice since I’ve known her. Once was last year when we took her to the dentist as a Christmas “present.” Amazingly, despite a decade between checkups, that one wasn’t THAT bad. She waited another year to go again.


And there was some drilling. Some numbing. More drilling. More numbing. I read a whole People magazine from several months ago as I waited. Honestly, I still don’t know how she got away with not going to the dentist, like, ever. She got off easy.

But still. If you didn’t get the memo either: Go to the dentist. More frequently than once a decade.

2) Confession: I’ve watched no Olympics. None. Wait. Nope. Lie. There was boxing on one of the TVs last night in the gym. I glanced at it. I think it was a German vs. American match. Not sure.

I guess I’m not that patriotic.

3) The Dark Knight Rises is on par with Christopher Nolan’s first two Batman flix. That is to say, it’s good. Each movie requires about a half hour of getting over the horribly annoying Batman voice Christian Bale uses. Really, it’s only further testament to the overall quality of the films that I’ve gotten over it each time. 

Good lord is that voice ridiculous, though. I kept thinking of this SNL Digital Short.

The way Rises ends, it sure smacks of a fourth installment. Supposedly, that wouldn’t come with Nolan at the helm, though… maybe Joel Schumacher wants to revisit the scene. Wouldn’t that be fun (on Opposite Day)?

4) If reading the Game of Thrones books doesn’t do it for you while you wait until the END OF MARCH 2013 for Season 3

Try this.

Or this.

5) The Super Sonics never should have been stolen from Seattle. Fact.

Some day, Seattle will have a NBA team again. Fact (hopefully).

Certainly, more hopefully after reading this.

MY COLUMN: The Big Screen and the Boob Tube

It’s in this morning’s Juneau Empire so, yeah, buy a paper if you’re in J-town. Or… click over to the paper’s website. Or… just read it here:

Some face-punching seems to be in order

By By Chester Duke Carson

For the Juneau Empire

The first couple of times, I chalked it up to character acting. You know, that snooty terminology used to describe, ah, acting. Giovanni Ribisi, I think, is a very good (character) actor. Dude can act.

Dude also has, apparently, one of the strangest voices around. I can’t remember when I first became aware of him. It was before his turn as Nic Cage’s kid brother in “Gone in Sixty Seconds” (2000). Maybe his reoccurring role as Phoebe’s brother on “Friends”? Not sure, and the truth is that it doesn’t matter. Mr. Ribisi always talks like he’s constantly teetering between sneezing or just whining incessantly. The words come out of his mouth and you’re ready to say, “Bless you!”

Or, “Why are you talking like that?! Does every character you play call for that nasally, I-might-sneeze-at-any-second-or-maybe-not voice? For crying out loud!” Then someone tells you that’s the way he talks. Like, in real life.


Ribisi can be seen (and heard) right now in the new Marky Mark action film, “Contraband” (20th Century Theatre). Marky Mark — sorry, Mark Wahlberg — is the star, the hero, of course. Ribisi is the villain, or at least he’s the most easily identifiable bad guy. Director Baltasar Kormákur (not of American descent, in case you were wondering — he’s Icelandic) has created an action film that checks in at just under 2 hours long, features solid acting from an impressive cast, and actually is driven more often than not by interesting characters and believable twists. I won’t spoil the surprises.

Wahlberg plays Chris, a former master smuggler. His old man’s in prison and Chris is busy trying to go, and stay, legit. Can you guess where this is headed? While Chris and his wife, Kate (Kate Beckinsale), are at a friend’s wedding, Kate’s little brother, Andy (Caleb Landry Jones), is busily following in his brother-in-law’s old footsteps. Except Andy ain’t as good. When Customs boards the ship Andy is smuggling cocaine on, he dumps the drugs.

Whew! Oh, except those drugs were for Tim Briggs (Ribisi). Briggs’ attitude isn’t exactly, “Whew!” It’s more, “I’m going to kill you unless…”

Cue the brother-in-law, who just happens to possess the skill-set needed to make good on the bad guy’s lost money and save Andy’s skin.

No, the hero ex-con getting dragged back into the game in order to save the life of someone he loves isn’t the most original premise in the world. “Contraband”, though, has several other elements going for it. The settings (New Orleans, a freighter, and Panama) are unique. Wahlberg, Ribisi and Beckinsale (largely wasted in a role that calls mostly for her to be periodically terrorized by Ribisi) are all fine actors. Ben Foster, who I still think deserved Oscar consideration for “Alpha Dog” (2006), might have them all beat in the talent department. Foster plays Sebastian, a trusted family friend of Chris and Kate. Sebastian is easily the most complex character in the story. I’ll leave it at that.

Take everything else away, though, and what makes “Contraband” work is that it has “it.” Having “it” is a way for people to describe something they don’t feel quite comfortable describing. Sports analysts use “it” frequently (see Tebow, Tim). For a movie like “Contraband”, I would call “it” the ability to invoke a ridiculous feeling of hope in the audience. Hope that Chris’ big plan to go down to Panama and smuggle a load of counterfeit money back to the U.S. to make good on Andy’s debt will go exactly as planned. You hope that, even though you realize as you’re doing so that the movie resulting from such a smooth ride would be terrible. Somehow, then, as the movie plays out on screen you’re hoping for something you know you don’t actually want to happen. And can’t. You’re engaged the whole time.

Or, way more succinctly, “it”. “Contraband” has “it” and it was a pleasant surprise to so genuinely enjoy an action flick.

Plus, Ribisi gets the snot kicked out of him a couple of times, which is satisfying on a couple of levels. Yes, his character deserves it. Also, though, that voice of his… well, sometimes, don’t you just want to punch him in the face to get him to stop talking like that?

Just me?


Quick subject change to avoid getting too deeply into why I feel the urge to punch Giovanni Ribisi in the face: the boob tube!

Same disclaimer as last month: I’m always on the hunt for shows to add to the repertoire. We all have shows that we watch and think, “Man! I have to get others watching this.” Tell me what I’m missing! Facebook. Twitter. Blog ( Email. Take your pick.

First up, The Retroactive Group: “Lost” (ABC) has been playing in our apartment at an average rate of 3 episodes a night. Netflix streaming is earning its keep this month, baby. The wife and I are closing in on the end of season 3 and all I can say is I admire those of you that watched it one episode at a time, one week at a time, when it was airing. As the kids say, OMG! It’s all we can do each night to shut it down and get a few hours of sleep. If you are looking for a way to kill about 900 hours, join us.

“Homeland” is one season old. Claire Danes just picked up a Golden Globe for her work as a bi-polar CIA agent. We ripped through the season in a matter of a few days and when it ended, of course, with a cliffhanger either my wife or I (can’t remember who for sure) simply yelled, “Nooooooooo!” Season 2 can’t come soon enough.

The It’s Still On And It’s Still Good Group: “The Biggest Loser” (NBC) is in its 100th season. The new season just got going and, ironically, we usually watch while eating dinner. “Southland” (TNT) is a cop drama (there are a few of those on TV, not sure if you noticed) that has managed to maintain its high quality thus far (i.e. David Caruso is not in it). New season just started.

The Brand New, Still Has That New Show Smell Group: “Alcatraz” (FOX) has J.J. Abrams’ (“Lost”) fingerprints all over it. That, FYI, is a good thing. So is having Sam Neil in a starring role. Nobody reveals the big mystery more maddeningly slowly than Abrams. Showtime has “House of Lies”, a show I have yet to sample but will. It’s Showtime. It’s Don Cheadle (not “Chead-lay” like I heard a radio deejay say during a promo recently).

Finally, if you have spent any time at all in Portland, Ore., give “Portlandia” (IFC) a dabble. I’m very familiar with P-town and I laughed a lot. My wife isn’t, and she didn’t.

Crap. I’m still thinking about punching Giovanni Ribisi in the face. That’s a little worrisome. Also worrisome: the sequel to “Ghost Rider” comes out next month (Feb. 17). Surely, I’m not the only one who wants to punch Nic Cage in the face!

5 things coming tomorrow...

I’ve somehow run out of brain power for today.

I’ve got the Coffee Berry Borer on the mind.

Little bastards…

I digress.


Coming in 10 days?

Installment #2 of The Big Screen and the Boob Tube.

Marky Mark will be involved.

Maybe The Biggest Loser, too…

Any other TV shows I need to become aware of over the next week and a half?

Let me know now so I can, ah, you know, find them online to watch. Somewhere. -cough!-

5 things

Christmas is coming (and so is the new column)… the goose is getting fat (but you shouldn’t just because it’s the holidays)… yada yada yada.

5 things I know today I didn’t know on Friday:

1) Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol. Saw it. Liked it. Not sure if I liked it more than #3, which was a JJ Abrams flick (i.e. fantastic)… but I’ll delve more into it in Thursday’s column.

I’ll probably try and find a way to tell the story of how even getting to the freaking theater, with tickets, on the correct day, at the correct time, proved to be our own freaking Mission: Impossible. Maybe not, though. I come across as a bit of dolt.

2) So apparently Buddha Bar is a global thing? I’d never heard of it. The wife and I went with a group of friends to the DC joint on Saturday night for dinner and drinks. Interesting (hip?) atmosphere, dim lighting, a giant Buddha, good food and drink.

But not $120 good. Which is what our bill was (just me and the wife, our group’s bill was well over $500 — it ain’t THAT good).

3 & 4) Best moment of the previews before Ghost Protocol: The GI Joe 2 preview.


I still haven’t seen the first GI Joe, and maybe I never will. But Bruce Willis’ perma-spot atop my man crush list means I’ll definitely be seeing the sequel. I wasn’t the only guy in the audience who let out a laugh/surprised squeal when he popped up rather prominently toward the end of this trailer (pictured).

Sign me up!

I did see the first Expendables. It was terrible/awesome. Willis is, again, featured in the trailers for the follow-up. I’m, again, pretty certain he’ll be only moderately involved in the actual film. Still, he does appear to have an action scene in #2, which is more than he did in #1.

Oh, and Sly Stallone is not dumb. He heard the cries for Jean Claude. And Chuck Norris.

We have to watch. No choice.

Chuck will punch you in the face if you don’t.

5) You know what’s a weird site?

Watching your wife try to teach your blind dog to catch.


She’s trying.

I haven’t seen (get it?) any sign that he’s getting any better. Because, you know, he can’t see!


5 things - post road trip

The wife, the dogs and I did a lil’ road trip up into the Northeast. Probably just under 1,500 miles put on the car. And I have now come to conclusions on several states based on very limited, brief appearances there.

5 things I know today I didn’t know on Friday:

1) Connecticut is lame.

There, I said it.

We did a night in New Haven on the way up and a night in Mystic on the way back down. Maybe my New Haven impressions were puked on by the puking episodes induced by the Atlantic water the dogs drank too much of. Not really New Haven’s fault, and really, that little beach was quite cute. Apparently, the old folks have it on lock down, too. We went in the afternoon and had zero competition other than the old peeps hanging out in the parking lot, shooting the sheeyit.

Also, Yale. Nice campus. Sure.

Mystic is on the water, too. So, cool. But Thai One On was an underwhelming restaurant. Maybe we should have known that from the name?

Overall, I’ll take a pass on hitting up Connecticut again. Just sayin’.


I wonder if my wife living here has anything to do with this study’s results…


2. Rhode Island is awesome. Seriously, how cool would it be to know that no matter where you are, the ocean’s a couple minutes away?

Really enjoyed Newport’s offerings and grubbing on lobster and corn on the cob at Anthony’s in Middletown.

Did not see any of the Griffins.

3. Danvers, Massachusetts. We stayed there. That’s about it. Lots of mentions of the Patriots on the radio. Soooo… you know, I’m okay without that in my life.

4. Belfast, Maine.

Ooooooh, Belfast (pictured — we took that from a footbridge that goes across the bay). I love that little town. I love Maine. I love the Maine coast. Maybe because it reminds me of Southeast Alaska (also pictured, the dogs at our hotel-front beach in Belfast).

Everything about the place is charming. I even enjoyed the vegetarian restaurant Chase’s Daily. And it’s a vegetarian joint. Did I mention that? They don’t serve meat.

Sampling the various brews at 3 Tides? Also quite fun. Also, the only night the wife did ANY driving on the trip. That’s how much I love that lady.

5. If you’re a burglar, or prospective burglar, a free piece of advice: Avoid LL Cool J’s house.

Spending too much money on coffee is smart

A rather soft, downright fluffy, spot exists in my heart for cheapskates. It’s soft, mind you, but not overly luxurious. I wouldn’t dream of wasting money on down comforters or anything. They can sit on the floor and hangout. I’ll sit on the floor with them. Screw furniture. Being cheap is being smart!

That’s what I always tell my wife, anyway. I tell her that too much sometimes if you ask her (please don’t). The thing is, “everything in moderation” applies even to cheapskatery. Example of times when being cheap is not smart: anything involving your significant other.

Look, when it comes to your significant other, whether that be an arrangement the CEO of Chick-fil-A (Dan Cathy) looks down on or something that old, white, southern, Bible Belt folks are comfortable with, don’t be cheap. Trust me. Also, Dan Cathy is an idiot. So there’s that.

There is exactly one other instance when being cheap is dumb: coffee.


“Wait, I know of a crap-ton more stuff that it’s a good idea to spend money on,” you say? Thanks so much, Captain Obvious. Oh, next you’ll say that nobody would EVER tank in the Olympics. Not on national TV. Not on global TV. Not in front of, um, the world. Take badminton, for instance. Nobody would dare do something like continuously serve the – ahem – shuttlecock into the net repeatedly. On purpose. Because everyone would see that and realize, “Hey! They’re tanking!” Yes, thank you Captain Obvious. There are other situations where being cheap is dumb, true. Nobody would ever shamelessly tank a badminton match at the Summer freaking Olympics, duh.

What’s that? China, South Korea, Indonesia, and South Korea again already did that? Well, that just means those shuttlecock, ah, whackers are free to spend more time with their morning coffee. If they’re smart, they’ll pay for the good stuff.

Completely coincidentally, let’s transition from Asians to math.

Something we all partake in from time to time, hopefully with some degree of moderation, is the consumption of adult beverages. It doesn’t matter if you go out for a drink in New York City or Podunkville Village, where there’s only woods for miles and miles around and the locals gaze at you with a little bit of a rapey look in their eyes. You are going to pay dearly for the right to gain a little liquid courage. A cocktail in the Big Apple might run you, what, 12 dollars? If you’re lucky. Options, then, for NYC are as follows: One, drink responsibly, spend around 20 bucks (once you add on tax and tip), and wind up home alone wishing you’d had more than one drink. Or two, spend way more than that, wake up in your own vomit wishing you could remember why you’re waking up in your own vomit. And why are you only wearing one shoe? Wait, where ARE you? This is not your apartment. Crap, time to check your cell phone to see which exes you drunk-texted. Or, even worse, drunk-dialed.

Pretty awesome. Nobody bats an eye, by the way, at dropping that kind of cash on alcohol. In one night.

Now, coffee. The standard immediate reaction when one sees a specialty coffee bean priced at, say, $20 a pound is a snort, followed by an eye roll, capped off by a defiant swig of Folgers. Mmm, Folgers. Cheapest part… of waking up! Is… Folgers in your cup! It’s true, at well under a buck an ounce, Folgers is cheap. And it is, I guess, technically, coffee. So good on ya! You’re drinking coffee and paying nothing for it.

The fact that it tastes like hot water with dirt stirred in doesn’t matter. It’s cheap!


Coffee beans, the best, rarest in the world, CAN cost $50 a pound. $100. More. If Donald Trump has his beans infused with gold, that probably costs a pretty penny, too. There’s a coffee bean that is collected only after the berry is eaten and pooped out by an animal called a civet. It’s called Kopi Luwak. It goes for up to $3,000 a poop. Nope, sorry. Pound. $3,000 a pound. We don’t need to get crazy here. You can get good, specialty, locally roasted beans from anywhere in the world for $2 an ounce. Easily.

I tracked how long my last bag of coffee (Ethiopian beans roasted locally here in Virginia) lasted me. Drinking 2-3 cups each morning, the 9 ounce bag lasted me 10 days. Even if you round down, take a day off, call it 9 days, an ounce a day came out to $2 a day for GOOD coffee. Instead of hot-water-with-dirt flavors, we’re talking chocolates, citruses, not to mention the floral aromas that physically make you feel… good. The morning coffee becomes an actual, shockingly enjoyable experience. Like watching your first women’s handball match at the Olympics (so awesome – and yes, there are handball “experts”).

$2 a day for amazing coffee vs. $20 for one cocktail and a night of disappointment. Or 50 cents a day for hot-water-with-dirt flavored black liquid.

I got a C in calculus my freshman year in college, so check my math. (For the record, scheduling freshman calculus at 8am, Monday through Friday is just bizarre. I could have easily gotten a C+ if that class had been more appropriately scheduled for hung over college kids.) But what my math tells me is that paying more for specialty coffee is smart.

That’s coming from a big-time cheapskate. Which reminds me, I need to see if the wife is up for a  “Total Recall” matinee tomorrow. That should save me about $3 on movie tickets, just in time to dump $39 at the concessions stand on a popcorn and soda.

At least I’ll already have enjoyed my delicious, grown in Maui, roasted in Virginia, $2 an ounce morning coffee by then. And maybe some Olympic badminton on TV. I hear the South Koreans are quite good.

 -Chester can be reached at

Not sure how this happened

But work was filled with… work? Today? It’s weird.

That and the fact that the wife, who hasn’t been to the dentist more than twice in the last DECADE, made sure our joint dentist appointment lasted three hours today. Instead of the usual, um, one.

More on that tomorrow.

When we do 5 things one day tardy.

Also, we saw The Dark Knight Rises. Nothing dramatic happened other than on-screen, so that was nice. I was a little suspicious of the three folks sitting in front row. All three rotund. All three with their OWN ginorma-tubs of popcorn.

I’m just suspicious of that kind of behavior in general. Probably says more about me than them.

(Other than this: they’re fat.)

5 things

It was rainy, cloudy, and “cool” here in the DMV on Saturday.

It was… glorious.

We’re back to 90s and humid as hell — figuratively — now. So that’s awesome.

5 things I know today I didn’t know on Friday:

1) The wife and I have our one-year anniversary approaching rapidly. Yes, smartasses, I know what the date is. Or I’m pretty sure, anyway. For whatever reason, the gift for year one is “paper.”

And I knocked it out of the park. Just sayin’.

Gifts aside, we’re also doing a little trip later in August. Via the road. Pups in tow.

Connecticut. Rhode Island. Maine. Massachusetts. I plan to eat a lot of lobster.

We’ll be brand new to all those places so, in all seriousness, travel and restaurant tips encouraged and appreciated!

2) This guy likes goats. A lot. Fill in your own punchline.

3) I have a thing for vampires. I must. I don’t know how else to explain my deep infatuation with The Vampire Diaries (cast pictured). Screamed through the 2 seasons on Netflix and am already well into season 3 via, um, other online channels.

High school drama. Super natural secrets. It’s just a winning combo.

I think someone (me) needs to create a new show… all I have so far is this:



4) This dude murdered his parents when he was 14. He’d like to get out of jail now, please. Lengthy, interesting read.

5) Confession: I fell off the McDonald’s wagon last night. Not hard, but still, fell. The wife ate a salad and I ate fries and a chicken sandwich. Naturally, the immediate sense of guilt far outweighed the immediate gratification. Still, this time wasn’t followed by violent vomiting the next morning, so that’s something.

Follow-up Confession: I also had Wendy’s this weekend.


Don’t get all judgy now.

5 things

The wife and I have one more episode of Game of Thrones to watch. And then? March? Next Year?

Son of a… ironically, the wait for the next TV season has driven us into the arms of the books. To, you know, read.

5 things I know today I didn’t know on Friday:

1) As an avid Team Edward member and appreciator of Stephenie Meyer, I have to admit I enjoyed The Host almost as much/maybe more than the Twilight books. I’m intrigued by the teaser for the movie — click here to see it.

Comes out next year.

2) I am aware more and more that I’m getting old. But seriously, I don’t get the saggy-pants thing. I just don’t get it.

This morning, a young man got off the metro in front of me and I thought, “Oh, green pants.”

But they weren’t his pants. They were his underwear. Honest mistake, you see, because his jeans were tucked tightly, neatly right UNDERNEATH his arse. Sooo… what I’m saying is that his,  um, buttocks were on full display to the world in his green underpants.

That’s cool?

Isn’t it hard to walk? What if you have to run?

My favorite, though, is when they wear belts and STILL make the effort to show their underpants/ass to everyone.

I don’t get it.

3) I love Omaha Steaks. Last year we ordered an assortment of the good stuff from them (rib eyes, fillets, bacon wrapped whatever, etc.). We were quite pleased. And in fact, when little sis’ birthday came around this year we sent her a big ole’ package from Omaha Steaks. She’s still talking about it (in a good way).

That said, the downside to doing business with them is that you then start receiving phone calls. Lots of phone calls. It doesn’t seem to matter if you never answer, or answer, wait for a second, and then hang up. They keep calling.

I finally broke down today and tweeted my frustration.

Within a few minutes I had a reply from @OmahaSteaksHelp.

And now?

Now we’re cool again. I’m actually getting hungry thinking about the various offerings on their website…

Twitter can do good. Who knew?

4) Date night to mark the return of the wife to my life: Villa d’Este in Alexandria.

Italian joint we were referred to by a friend.

Verdict: Cute, romantic atmosphere. Relaxed. Good service. Really enjoyed the pasta we ordered… and the muscles and calamari.

BUT it didn’t strike me as the best $100 meal we’ve ever had. And the muscles were sandy, which I wouldn’t mind THAT much except we heard the owner (?) saying as we were leaving, “Those muscles were so sandy!” Yes, and you sold them to us anyway.

5) Do as I say, not as I do, yeah Jason Kidd?


5 things

Team USA basketball, in my colleague’s opinion, is dumb. Actually, “so dumb.”

She might be right.

5 things I know today I didn’t know on Friday:

1) Of late, for obvious reasons (cough! Steve Nash! cough!), I’ve been talking about Kobe Bryant more. So, this story by Ian Thomsen from Sports Illustrated caught my eye yesterday morning. It’s about Team USA, not the Lakers, but what I loved was Kobe’s classic arrogant quote about the team’s post-up players:

"Yesterday,” said an Asian reporter to Bryant, "you said that you are the best player in the post other than Tyson Chandler. That being said…”

And Bryant interrupted him.

"No, no, no,” said Bryant. "Not `other than Tyson Chandler.’ The best post player, period. Tyson Chandler’s not in that conversation.”

So cocky.

The kind of quote I used to think, “What a d#*k.” Now I love it.

But my co-worker’s response was, “Wait, why is Kobe playing in the post?”

When we realized it was because Team USA has exactly one center (Chandler) and one power forward (Kevin Love), she summed it up nicely: “That’s so dumb.”

Might be.

2) This first paragraph from (by Rich Juzwiak) speaks to me:

To love horror movies is to live a life searching for a fix like your first highs and rarely getting it. For me, those first loves were slashers like Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street and Halloween. Since I saw those movies, I’ve had hopes for every over-hyped horror film, and those hopes are almost always dashed. Then I saw V/H/S.

I love horror movies. And they’re mostly terrible. I recently watched Hostel Part 3, for example. Terrible.

So color me excited about V/H/S.

3) Savages review has been submitted. I’m 67.3% sure it’ll make it into the Juneau Empire — been some dicey back and forth between my editor and me. Worst case scenario, I’ll post it in this space myself tomorrow.

I had thought it’d be fun to do another “interview” — like this one I did with Michael Bay. Re-reading that piece, I thought it was pretty fun. To write and to read.

My editor said, basically, “My boss hated that piece. Made a point of telling me.”


Hopefully tomorrow’s review is better received.

4) Confession: I am now hooked on The Vampire Diaries.

I might have a problem.

5) Disney DOES have a problem. They’re in North Korea and they don’t want to be. How could you, Mickey? Minnie?

Mid-week 5 things


The week of 100+ degree heat (at 10pm) zapped me of all blogging capabilities.

And then Oliver Stone’s Savages ruined whatever coherent thoughts I had left.

Back on track tomorrow, including my co-worker’s thoughts on why Team USA (basketball) is “so dumb,” more on Savages, my confession about vampires, and the best potato chip around (not sold on the east coast, speaking of “so dumb”).

Why Mitch Kupchak owes me a "thank you" card

All sports fans have said half jokingly (but only half) at some point, “I could do a better job as GM than fill-in-the-blank.” Especially true for Minnesota Timberwolves fans, no doubt.

I might have said it about L.A. Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak last year when he quite literally gave Lamar Odom away in a trade with the Dallas Mavericks. I might have meant it, then. Ironic, then, that that’s the trade that allowed the Lakers to ‘absorb’ Steve Nash’s new contract. Genius? Luck? (It’s luck.)

Whatever. As a Nash fan, I’m now a Laker fan. And SO excited.

Partly, because I’ve been daydreaming about this for a while.

I’m half joking when I say Kupchak owes me a thank you card. I’m sure he wasn’t reading my tweets and thinking, “YES! I should have thought of this!”

I mean, I’m mostly sure anyway.

First tweet: May 22ndJust throwing it out there.

June 21: Throwing it out there again after reading Ramon Sessions opted out of his Lakers contract.

June 30: Rooting against Toronto. Hoping LA was going to do the smart thing.

July 3: Hearing, for the first time, whispers about LA and Nash.

July 4: Starting to understand I was going to have to like the Raptors, but holding out hope.

July 4: Still sticking to the Kobe/Nash pipe dream. Not really hopeful.

July 4: Pretty sure Robert Sarver was going to be Robert Sarver, angrily tweeting to the universe.

(Also, that lead to an exchange with a rather angry Suns fan, culminating with him saying he hopes Nash breaks his leg and claiming this was worth than “The Decision” with LeBron.)

July 4: Excitedly missing the DC fireworks show. Nash is a Laker.

Do I really think Mitch Kupchak got the idea from me? Of course not. Well, probably not.

And I don’t really need a thank you card, but that would be fun.

Bottom line: I’m now a Lakers fan. A Kobe Bryant fan. And this next season is going to be so fun I’ve almost forgotten my beloved Dolphins start their season first.