Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Sunday, February 25, 2007

"Mutton inducing salivation"

Being the Chinaphile that I am, I'm into the box I stuck over on the sidebar there. Zhongwen.com is a great place to brush up on your Chinese characters, and I noticed one in particular that sums up why I love China. The word for "envy" is what the title says, the combined characters for "mutton inducing salivation." And I can say, if any hungry person's ever walked down a crowded China street and smelled the sweet grilled aroma of mutton on a stick, you really do know what envy is. Awesome language, indeed.

Monday, February 19, 2007

LaRoche can't out-thump Tiger

Playing golf with former Atlanta Braves teammates John Smoltz and Jeff Francouer was nothing new for Buccos 1B Adam LaRoche. But on Sunday, he had an extra challenge, and sounds like he came up short.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Sushi, Mandarin and must-see TV?

So, I realized (as I said) that I really do miss China and decided to do something about it. Last night after I posted I spent a while studying Chinese, which I haven't really done since I got back to the Meiguo. I'm focusing on reading and writing what I can already say and understand, and I remember more than I thought I did. And then, since I've been in an Asia sort-of mood, tonight I stopped for some Japanese takeout and overheard the hostess speaking Chinese. I asked her if she was from China (which I knew she was, because she was speaking familiar Mandarin) and told her I heard her speaking Chinese, which is a very obvious clue that I understand Chinese. She then said (right on cue), "you speak Chinese?" and the conversation went from there. Turns out she's from Beijing (even lived in the same district as me) and came to America about a month before I came home. Speaking Mandarin is something I haven't done with another human being for a while, so it was nice to say the least. Hopefully the past couple days' efforts can continue.

By the way, I haven't changed the channel since watching The Office and Scrubs earlier on NBC, and lo and behold, a couple hours later ER is almost over. George Clooney, Goose and Noah Wyle are all gone, but (and I find this pretty funny) the new doctors in the Cooke County emergency room include:

Uncle Jessie from Full House
The guy from A Walk to Remember, that Mandy Moore movie
The Indian girl from Bend it Like Beckham
The brown-haired daughter from Roseanne
And, Lady Macbeth from Scotland, PA

All those sort of weirded me out. Maybe I just watch too much TV.

I miss China

2008 is coming quick in Beijing, and the fight for manners continues. Note the staged photos and believe me when I say, that's not how you board a bus in China. Gotta love government propaganda.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

No date, no problem

So, yet another February 14 passes with me all alone. But I'm ok with that. And here are a few reasons why. First, we can all crush (or man-crush) on this guy.

And oh am I man-crushing. Second, I don't have to spend ridiculous amounts of money on things that die. I'm not feeling bad about the lack of gifts, because yesterday I got three new t-shirts in the mail. Over on Facebook, Jonathan Boyle agreed to be my Valentine. (Can't go wrong with a good buddy as a Valentine if you can't find a girl, I say.) My mom gave me some chocolate covered cherries, so that takes care of the choco-factor. (Thanks, mom.) And the best yet, there's a special Vamlumtimes Day episode of Teen Girl Squad up! (And it's awesome.)

Nope, no S.A.D. for me. Instead, hope you too are having a happy Valentine's Day.

This is why I'm a Mac guy

I always did hate that paperclip.

This is why I'm not rich or powerful

If I was in charge, we'd cancel schools and close stuff down when there's really good weather, too.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Pensblog consistently cracks me up

They really are geniuses over there. Even if you're not into Penguins hockey--check that, at this point that's not an option--you should check out the Pensblog.

UPDATE: Just read this article in today's Post-Gazette, from a Kansas City writer. He gets it. The Penguins can't leave Pittsburgh. And as the Pensblog said a few weeks ago, Bob Smizik is an idiot.

Monday, February 12, 2007

I heart the Internet

I was reading the other day about how Google is basically the "front door" of the Internet, which is pretty true. But this article/blog (I can't remember where I saw it, but it was from Digg) said that all that's changing. They were writing about Netvibes, and since then I've changed my home page (from Gmail). Netvibes lets me see all the Internet sites I go to anytime I sign onto the Internet, which is Gmail and basically everywhere I linked to on the right, by reading RSS feeds and all that stuff I don't totally understand and showing them on one simple page. I have my Netflix queue on there, Rotten Tomatoes' top 10, the Post-Gazette, culture.ish, and all the Pirate blogs I can handle. Plus, I have the classic Google search bar, Youtube and Google image searches all right there. If you're into the Internet, check out Netvibes (or something similar) for your daily dose in one pretty little package.

Wii and worldview

I haven't posted for a bit (a week), and you might be wondering what I've been up to. (When I say "you" I basically mean Chris at this point, because I have no knowledge of anyone else reading this blog.) Well, I spent this past weekend playing a lot of Wii, mostly on Saturday in Cleveland (I drove up there for the day to hang with the Wilseys, which meant me and Sam playing Wii, watching Ninja Warrior, and Eee bringing us burritos) and on Sunday when two friends from church (and one of their younger sisters) came over. In short, Wii is sweet.

Also on Sunday, we had a youth group thing after church, our first installment of "Cultural Apologetics" coinciding with the worldview-type stuff we've been covering during our current departure from 1 John on Wednesday nights. Eight kids stuck around, we made some frozen pizzas and then we talked about books, movies and music. Basically I'm trying to get them to read culture.ish. So far, so good.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Latest Bucco news

Via ESPN Insider, Pirates prospect Andrew McCutchen, who will open the year with AA Altoona Curve, ranks as the 9th best prospect in all of baseball, according to blogger Keith Law, and is sure to rank higher next year, when I wouldn't be surprised at all if he'll be the starter in center (if Duffy doesn't play to expectations) or right (if Duffy does) in Pittsburgh. For those of you who don't subscribe to Insider, here's what Law, a former exec with Toronto, had to say about McCutchen:

"9. Andrew McCutchen, CF, Pirates
Jumped two levels to Double-A at age 19 and didn't miss a beat. Legit center fielder who can fly, already hitting for plus power and controlling the strike zone, too. He and [Mets CF Fernando] Martinez are the two early leaders for the No. 1 spot next winter."

Kansas City third baseman Alex Gordon was ranked as the #1 prospect.

In other news, the Stats Geek talks about Armas, Kovacevik answers about Castillo, and DL signs another Cuban right-hander. Around the blog world, Cory at Pittsburgh Lumber Co. continues his preview of the NL Central opponents, here on the improved Milwaukee Brewers, and Pat at WHYGAVS talks about what needs to go right for the Buccos to contend in 2007, here focusing on Jason Bay.

Better in any language

Thanks for the great find, Dre. (I still heart you, Asia.)

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Super Bowl!

Update 11:52: Well, my Internet crapped out on me and as far as this blog's concerned, the second half never happened. To sum it up: Peyton Manning and Tony Dungy won it for the good guys and the FedEx "ground sounds slow" commercial ended up being probably my favorite. Plus, Robert Goulet and Ricardo Montuban both made appearances. It was fun, maybe we can do it again sometime... Peace.

Update 8:02: What is up with Mr. Clutch, Adam Vinatieri? Is it the Patriots curse? Is he hiding a New England jersey under his Colts garb? The half comes to and end, Indy 16, Bears 14. Commercials I liked from the first half: FedEx ships to the moon, Dave and Oprah in love. Yellow sighing machine was memorable. Fist bump is out, heart didn't stand a chance... eh. My wild card is the Garmin Power Rangers, still not sure. Bud Light has put in a solid performance so far (dalmation, English class), and I feel like there were some others that were ok but I already forgot. OK, break for the half. See you in quarter three.

Update 7:55: Mr. Hadley tries a Coke, tries lots of things. Lovie ices Vinatieri. Those are three crazy words in a row.

Update 7:52: Something like that (two consecutive fumbles) almost happens every time I actually talk about football. So I won't. There was definitely an Amber Brkich / Boston Rob sighting on that Amazing Race All-Stars preview. I bet they still go to the Beaver Valley Mall.

Update 7:50: Sorry about the delay, I had some connectile disfunction there. Shame about Benson. And I'm guessing the reason you've got to watch out for Urlacher is not only because "he's so tall." Call me, crazy. The Colts really are moving the ball. Oh, man fumble!.. Bears ball. WAIT, Grossman loses the ball. This is rediculous. Colts ball.

Update 7:39: Don't do it, yellow sighing machine thing!!! Didn't quite understand why he was so obsessed with quality, but you really did feel for him, ya know? I think it was the sighing thing.

Update 7:37: Fist bump is out. And then poor heart didn't stand a chance. Both solid efforts. It's really raining. Way to go, sunny Miami.

Update 7:35: Oh yeah, the game. Colts power home a TD to take the lead: 16-14.

Update 7:30: Those were both somewhat disturbing (Dorito's check-out girl and Men taking their shirt off to wash a Chevy). Verdict: Not cool.

Update 7:25: The Budweiser dalmation-look alike dog was cool, and then the Garmin Power Rangers rip-off was crazy. I think I liked it.

Update 7:23: Nice drive from the Colts, but they couldn't put it in the end zone. Chi-Town 14, Indy 9.

Update 7:16: I like that Coke "Grand Theft Auto" commercial. That's one they could've debuted tonight and it'd be in my top 3 so far. The first quarter really was nuts. I was legitimately more interested in the game than the commercials, which is saying something (plus the commercials weren't anything great). We'll see if that continues. Peyton shows off his lazer rocket arm to open the 2nd.

Update 7:10: You hate to see anybody injured, especially in the Super Bowl. Question: Is that Budweiser "don't hold back" song a real song, or a song created for the commercials, because if it's the latter it should never be played otherwise. Glad to see Benson on his feet.

Update 7:05: What a crazy quarter so far. Good call on the pushout, then Cedric Benson fumbles and Colts recover. I gotta say, as far as frozen pizzas go, Red Baron is the way to go. I'm going Supreme tonight and enjoying it muchly. Their crusts could be thicker and breadier, but toppings-to-sauce ratio and tastiness marks are both high.

Update 7:00: Are those all real Chevy songs? Chevy is scary. Bud Light ESL was funny. Oh man, best yet: Dave and Oprah in love. Dave and Oprah in love!!

Update 6:54: Wow. Addai fumbles, Chicago's ball. Thomas Jones does a Willie Parker impression, 52 yards, but no TD... yet. Bears on the 4. Wait, there it is: Grossman TD to Moose Muhammad. Extra point good: Bears 14 Colts 6.

Update 6:50: FedEx ships to the moon! And they used Job Bluth's music... "The final countdooown." Devin Hester x2: Fumble! Colts ball! This is exciting stuff so far.

Update 6:48: TD Colts! Peyton to Wayne... Oops, botched extra point. Chicago 7, Indy 6. Let's hope Indy's special teams aren't the difference here tonight. Again, sucks that it's raining.

Update 6:44: Man, I really hate those heavy bone bruises. I'm glad the Colts are in white, and the Bears in blue. Great uniforms tonight. Much better than last year's metallic blue Seahawks and white Steelers digs. (Steelers in black trumps all, however.)

Update 6:41: Tracy Morgan always makes me smile :) Sierra Mist is trying hard. That beard combover dude makes a million commercials. Sucks that it's raining in Miami.

Update 6:37: Ha. With Blockbuster you don't have to use a mouse. Get it? A mouse. (Netflix is better.)

Update 6:34: I really don't plan on talking too much about football, because my pizza will be done soon and that's not really why I watch the Super Bowl. But, I must say this, last year I was one of those millions of people watching the Super Bowl "world-wide" (a 6 a.m. kickoff in Thailand) and this is WAY better. The announcers explained a "forward pass" and the commmercials were for English Premiere League Soccer. My oven just beeped, and Peyton was just picked off. The Bear fans in Miami are into it.

Update 6:30: Indy can't do the same. Peyton Manning takes over on the 30. I'm not sure what I think of Hester's ponytails, but hey, he just ran back the opening kickoff.

Update 6:27: Hester makes the Indy special teams look silly. TD Bears. Yowzers.

Update 6:24: Bears win the coin toss, they'll recieve. Here come some commercials. Will we see any new Peyton Manning classics tonight?

Update 6:20: No one reads this, so this is amazingly pointless, but I see everybody doing it, so, so will I: A Super Bowl running live-blog. Let the blogcitement begin!

The Piano Man did a nice job of the Star-Spangled Banner. Nothing over-the-top, just Billy Joel and a piano. Classy and well-done. Commercials so far: Chad Johnson's Super Bowl party wasn't particularly memorable, but sort of a funny concept. Maybe if they show it again I'll have more to say.

OK, go Peyton Manning. (Because I'm into 6'4" quarterbacks with lazer rocket arms.)

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Pens win, Bucs sign starter

The Pens continue to roll, and a couple of days ago now the Bucs added Tony Armas, Jr. to the fifth starter mix.

I'm working on a couple baseball things: An in-depth look at all six NL Central teams to see how we stack up against our own division, as well as a fantasy baseball preview. Sites I've been checking out lately include: Thunder Matt's Saloon, a Cubs blog dedicated to one of their own (who, by the way, would look great in our new red unis--and the Cubbies do have a crowded outfield right now), outfielder Matt Murton. I've also been following the story of the ATHF Mooninite terrorist plot in the city of Boston--really crazy stuff.

Winter = Lame

So, in yesterday's news, Phil didn't see his shadow out in Punxsatawney, PA, and winter will be over in 6 weeks, or so the only weatherman I pay any attention to says. And I say it's a good call... winter's no fun at all. It was two years ago that I made the trek to Gobbler's Knob, and let me tell you, it's cold out there. It's cold everywhere this weekend (last night I saw Roethlisberger's jersey number on bank temperature readings) and yeah, I am way ready for spring.

Reasons I'm ready for winter to end:
1. Yet another winter passed without me being permitted to hibernate (you're wrong about this one, society. WRONG.)
3. If I wore flip flops outside right now I would die (and oh, how I love wearing flip flops)
4. It's wet outside all the time, even when it's not raining. This is because snow doesn't melt until it gets on your pant legs.
5. It's cold. Did I mention that?
6. Pitchers and catchers have not yet reported.

Reasons I'm ok if winter continues:
1. Sidney Crosby can't skate if there's no ice

And that's about it... Go Pens!

Pan's Labyrinth

Here's the trailer if you don't know anything about it. But here's all you really need to know anyway: Go see it.

I was expecting something cool, but this totally blew me away. First, I was surprised and stoked to find out it wasn't in English, which for whatever reason I didn't know. If you're not into subtitles or wide-screen format or screens bigger than 13", maybe this isn't for you. Otherwise (and I hope for all of you your you fall into the "otherwise" category) it's worth seeing. I've seen a lot of good movies in theaters lately (Children of Men, Casino Royale, The Departed) but this one was definitely my favorite. Guillermo del Toro tells two equally-as interesting as they are different storylines: A violent war-time story set in post-WWII Spain as well as a look into a little girl's fantasy full of crazy cool creatures and dangerous adventures. It's sad, it's scary, it's moving, it's awesome.

It's not playing everywhere, so find a theater near you where it is (I saw it in Squirrel Hill... it's at the Waterfront in Homestead, too) and check it out.