Saturday, February 27, 2016

Trader Joe's discontinued Charmingly Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies. This is a travesty.

Monday, February 22, 2016

The Worst 538 Article?

I love 538, but this was pretty terrible.

Here's where it all goes wrong:

"First, let’s check out his credentials. We want to know, essentially, how many good movies DiCaprio has made and how they stack up against the pre-Oscar résumés of those who have been honored with a top acting prize. We can do this by simply counting up films with high ratings on Rotten Tomatoes"


So the question is whether or not DiCaprio has been the Best Actor in any given year. That's obviously a subjective question. But if you wanted to try and analyze it with data, I suppose you could look at other acting awards besides the Academy Awards or maybe critics who mention best performance or something like that. Instead the author thinks that you can measure how good an actor is by how many good movies they've made. That's certainly a strange metric to base an entire article around.

By that logic, Robert Horry is the best basketball player of the last 50 years since he's won the most NBA Championships. Horry is a good player, but he's not that good. And most people would say that DeNiro is deserving of his 2 Academy Awards for acting, but he's made plenty of bad movies.

We're talking about acting, not directing. It's certainly possible to give a good performance in an otherwise not great film. Here are some of DiCaprio's movies that fell below the 75% rotten tomatoes bar:

Romeo & Juliet
Shutter Island
Revolutionary Road
Blood Diamond
The Great Gatsby
The Basketball Diaries

Meanwhile Jack Black has been in a bunch above the 75% mark including 3 Kung Fu Panda movies, School of Rock and Tropic Thunder. I love Jack Black as much as anyone, but I don't think anyone would look at those performances and say Jack Black out-acted DiCaprio because his movies had a higher rotten tomatoes rating.

What the author seems to miss is that DiCaprio is in the discussion for "best actor of his generation." When you Google that, you see DiCaprio mentioned along with Hoffman, Spacey and Washington. You click on a thread and you see DiCaprio, Bale, Norton.

If movie critics made a list of the top five current actors in Hollywood, DiCaprio would certainly be on the list, if not #1. So that's why people think he deserves an Oscar. Not because he's been a fair amount of good movies.

Friday, February 19, 2016

SF Recap

DAY ONE


Monday morning I arrived at Denver International Airport at sunrise.


I proceeded to fly over the Rocky Mountains. 



And landed in San Francisco, where I went straight to La Taqueria to meet Niraj and get a burrito. La Taqueria won 538's burrito bracket and I was curious because I've always wanted to try a griddled burrito (you have to order Dorado style to get it griddled.)



I ordered the Super (adds avocado, sour cream and cheese) Carnitas burrito Dorado style with no beans.


The burrito was quite impressive. The griddled tortilla makes a huge difference and I wonder why every place doesn't offer the option. The meat wasn't as flavorful as I might have expected, but overall this was an outstanding burrito. I also opted try their Agua Fresca. (When in Rome) They had a bunch of flavors, I picked Tangerine. It tasted just like clementines, which I love.

From there we walked to Dolores Park and made some game plans.


After that we headed to Golden Gate Park to play 18 holes of frisbee golf.


Burnsdog crushed me. He was up 5 holes through 7.




But I did hit the best shot of my life. You can see my green disc in the basket above. I stupidly had already moved from where I took the shot for this picture, the shot was farther back and on the left. I'd say it was at least 50 feet out.

From there we went to Magnolia Pub & Brewery on Haight St.



I got the Proving Ground IPA, Devils on Horseback on Brussels Sprouts, and cheddar bacon burger. When they brought out the devils on horseback (bacon-wrapped dates) I commented that the Brussels sprouts were a waste. (I mean I like them, but they are no bacon-wrapped dates.) And then they turned out to be the best Brussels sprouts I've ever had.


From there we checked out the last night that Amsterdam (a bar) was open. But I was so tired, I didn't last long.

DAY TWO

We started the day by walking to Alamo Square. 


From there we tried to go to House of Thai 2 but they weren't open yet, so we went across the street to Kate's Kitchen. I got the spicy chicken on baguette with their home fries. Delicious.




After lunch we bussed it over to Anchor Brewing for a 1pm tour. They're nice enough to give you a decent sample of Anchor Steam before the tour starts. And then after the tour, they give you 6 other Anchor samples.


After the tour we Ubered over to an Escape Room. 60 minutes to get out of a locked room. To read my full recap, go here. 





We escaped with 13 seconds left! A nail-biting time of 59:47. In other words it took us 99.64% of our possible time to escape.

After that we headed to The Social Study where I tried some Sanfrangria. Since the Escape Room was in Japantown, we were inspired to have sushi for dinner. We went to Hot Zushi and it was great although I didn't take any pictures.


DAY THREE

Here's the view out Niraj's window. Not too shabby.


A brief backstory. In December I got an email that a bar near me would be tapping Pliny the Elder. I show up an hour and a half after they open and it's already gone. So Niraj and I head to Monk's Kettle for lunch and I order a Pliny the Elder like it's nothing special.


Couldn't decide between the burger and the chicken sandwich so we get one of each and split one. Both are really amazing and the fries come with outstanding tomato jam.

Then we hop in a ZipCar and drive north to Petaluma. Home of Lagunitas Brewing.


Great stuff. In fact, I gave Aunt Sally's Sour my highest rating to date. 

Here's the bathroom at Lagunitas:


After Lagunitas, it's just a short drive to Santa Rosa, home of Russian River Brewing. I really wanted to get a flight to try all their beers. But the week I was here happened to be the once a year release of Pliny the Younger, one of the most sought after craft beers. People have waited 8 hours in line for this beer. I wanted to try it too but didn't want to wait a super long time. So we show up and it doesn't look that bad.



Still in line.


Took us just over 2 hours to get inside.


After all that we we get a glass of Younger. And...to me it's hardly different than Elder. For some people waiting all that time might build it up so that they think it's something more than it really is. I think it had the opposite effect for me. Like, I waited this long for a beer that tastes like a beer?

The star of the show really is:


That's a 21-beer flight. 18 fit in their custom holder and three more served on the side. Most were good, some were outstanding.

And on the way home we pulled of at a viewpoint for a dramatic shot:



Simply put, another fantastic trip.

SF Escape Room

Niraj and I went to an Escape Room. 60 minutes to solve all the puzzles needed to get out of a locked room.



So going into it, we see that this room has a 12% success rate. That's fairly daunting. 

We had 11 people, including one family of 7 and a couple that showed up late. 

This room was much larger than the ones I had done in Denver. There they had a max of 8 and we escaped one with just 5 of us. We all go in and watch a cheesy short video from the character behind this escape room. Honestly, when we walked into this one it looked like there was nothing to do. In previous rooms there were 5 or 6 various types of locks. And my strategy for Niraj was study the locks first so you know what types of answers you're looking for.  Well, here they were no locks. So much for that. I start searching through a cabinet and I find a clock. 

As it turns out there were 8 puzzles that we had all the information to solve that in the end revealed one answer. And there was one puzzle that we couldn't solve yet, but we didn't know that. It happened to be the one that Niraj spent the most time on. 

But the rest of the 8 varied immensely in type and time required. They were labeled A through G. A was a giant crossword on the floor with 15 clues scattered throughout the room. Some we only found after we assembled the whole thing. The clues were simple but assembling it was a different matter. I worked on it and got lucky that everything that I guessed at where it might go, turned out to be right. And then I saw the answer written diagonally well before we realized there was an arrow showing us where to start reading the answer. This one took at least 10 minutes and we had multiple people working on it at various points. I mistakenly thought "Louisiana marsh" was going to be "bog" and was stuck when there was no g. We were looking for "bayou."

Me and a kid worked on B and it only took 1 minute once had all the clocks to put them in the outlines on wall and read their hands. 

C involved standing with hands and feet against a wall in marked spots to spell out letters. I didn't work on this one at all. 

D was a pattern puzzle written on the wall that looked impossible to me but someone else eventually solved it. 

E involved finding a word in a book. I don't think it was too hard but didn't touch it. 

F was a complicated one. You had to assemble a maze puzzle made of bins, then figure out which ones the maze route didn't go through, then convert the numbered answer into letters using codes hidden around the room. Of course when you walk in and see 3 = w, you don't even know what to do with that. Didn't work on this one either. 

G...I don't remember at all. 

H was a literal 50-piece puzzle that you had to put together first. The kids took 20 minutes just to put this together. Then it revealed a math equation that wasn't easy and then convert that to letters as well. 

So these A through H all lead to one answer. We had it figured out about halfway though but it didn't make sense. And then once we finally got the complete answer about 35 minutes in, it still didn't make sense. We had 11 puzzle-solving people in the room and no one could figure it out. About five minutes go by and the room people finally give us our first hint. 20 seconds letter I flipped one thing over and it was super easy. That ended Phase One. 

The room people gave us a new card that involved the puzzle Niraj had spent so much time on. Now we had everything we needed and Niraj knew where everything went so it went quick. I shouted "Hit the Lights" a good two minutes before we needed to. Once we had everything in place, I shouted out the answer that ended Phase Two. 

This opened a brand new area of the room. We had about 10-15 minutes left at this point I think. Yikes.  We finally see our first lock, with four letters needed to solve it. We start looking for letters. All of a sudden people find three of them. I accidentally pull something apart and say whoops. And start putting it back on. A room guy comes over and says to me, "Sir you need to be careful with those supplies, they are very fragile." I immediately apologize out of habit and then two seconds later process that it's a hint and start pulling them all apart. Niraj comes over and finds the letter in a piece I had pulled apart but left behind. That was the missing part to solve the lock and Phase Three. 

That revealed a question that was a callback to the video that we watched when we entered the room. I had absolutely no idea. Thank goodness for kids who paid close attention. One of them knew the answer right away. This revealed the final puzzle.

We only had about 1 minute left at this point. We had to assemble an arrow. It took a little bit to figure it out. The arrow pointed to the key that opens the door. We got the key give it to a kid who runs over to the lock. And...


We escaped with 13 seconds left! A nail-biting time of 59:47.

In other words it took us 99.64% of our possible time to escape.

I love the whole thing. Genuinely thrilling.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Derren Brown!

I'm surprised that I haven't written about Derren Brown before. He's a mentalist/magician/etc and I find him and his shows fascinating. I probably discovered him around 2009 and every couple of years I remember him and go watch everything I can on youtube. This is probably the fourth time this has happened.

On youtube you can find a variety of shows.
He has somewhat traditional magic type stage shows. I've watched Something Wicked This Way Comes, An Evening of Wonders, Enigma, Infamous and Svengali. I've yet to see Derren Brown Live. Here are two of my favorites:

"An Evening of Wonders"




"Svengali"





He also has a bunch of edited one-hour TV specials and series. I've seen The Great Art Robbery, The System, The Events, all four of The Experiments, Pushed To The Edge, The Heist, some episodes of Trick of the Mind and Trick or Treat.

Clip of Trick of the Mind: Season 2, Episode 1



What's interesting about this is he gives you one explanation for how he did it. Or was he just able to use sleight of hand and forge the signature. I don't know.


And there's just a slew of great clips that are pulled from a variety of shows.


Pickpocketing




Paying With Paper




Card Trick




Choosing The Right Door



I've seriously looked at buying tickets to a show in the UK. I'm all in.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Friday, February 05, 2016

Spotlight will win Best Picture.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Point / Counterpoint: Rooting for the Broncos in the Super Bowl

Point: 

It makes sense to root against the Broncos in the regular season. The Chiefs are directly competing against them for a playoff spot. And as happened this year, if the Broncos had lost more games, the Chiefs would have had won the division, had a higher seed and a home playoff game.

But once the Chiefs are out of it, how the Broncos perform doesn't affect my team. It seems kind of petty to keep rooting against them if it doesn't help my team. I have friends who are Broncos fans. I love the city of Denver. Peyton Manning is a great quarterback and it would be a great story to have him win his last game in Super Bowl 50.



Counterpoint: 

FUCK THE BRONCOS. I hope the Manning era is a complete disappointment for this franchise. I want them to get blown the fuck out and have Peyton retire and then the Broncos go 5-11 for the next 20 years. I embrace the pettiness. Everywhere I look, I'm surrounded by jerseys and logos of a team I hate. The Broncos already have the most Super Bowl losses in history. Just add another one onto the pile. Let that be their legacy. Last time the Seahawks beat them by 35. Let's see if the Panthers can do 36. Fuck the Broncos.