25 Random Facts about Drew

The current meme-du-jour seems to be this one, so here is my two cents… 25 Random Facts about Drew:

  1. I was born October 23, 1967. Cusp of Scorpio & Libra, and contain positive and negative personality aspects of both of these astrological signs, if you believe in astrology.
  2. I do not believe in astrology.
  3. I was vomited on in elementary school by Kathy Baumgartner. She upchucked on my favorite maroon jacket, which gave its wear-ability to protect me. I still miss that coat.
  4. I only started wearing socks in the last several months. Even in the coldest weather, I rarely used to wear socks. Exceptions: anytime I was dressed up (like in a suit) or when cooking in a professional kitchen.
  5. I am most embarrassed when I forget someone’s name or (even worse!) call them the wrong name. I have a great memory for faces, but not so much for names. This makes for great situations where I’ve met a student when they were a freshman in college and then meet them again once they’re beginning their search for graduate education and I say, “it’s nice to see you again”. The student is impressed that I remember them, when in fact I simply recognized them. I would trade some of the facial recognition for better name retention, though.
  6. My high school time was formative, just like everyone’s. I keep in touch with very few people from high school. I  don’t attend high school reunions. Despite this, I recall those days fondly.
  7. I used to walk through the woods home from school. Those woods are gone now, but I am confident that I could still draw a pretty good map of them.
  8. I love to play Frisbee. I used to play Frisbee for hours with my childhood friend, John.
  9. My childhood friend, John, died in his mid-30’s.
  10. During the summers as a child, I would go for weeks without wearing shoes. Would go everywhere (that allowed it) barefoot. The skin on the bottom of my feet was tough like leather.
  11. I used to enjoy walking through the drainage & creek systems around my neighborhood. These were long creeks, connected by short (and some long) tunnels that we’d walk. If you were careful, you could walk great distances through the creeks without getting your feet wet.
  12. My brother and I walked a REALLY long, narrow tunnel underneath Beechmont Mall (another article with pictures). It went from the north side of the mall, under their large parking lots, under Beechmont Avenue, and under Anderson High School. This solidified (dare I say cemented) an abiding enjoyment of exploring out-of-the-way, abandoned, or derilict places — urban exploration. Unfortunately, I do not get to do as much of this as I would like.
  13. As a kid, I loved to build models from kits. I’d spend hours assembling, sanding, and painting them. Later, I used a Super-8 camera to make short stop-motion animation films with the models.
  14. I have a recurring dream about an underground concrete area accessed through a secret door in an amusement park… This underground area is impossibly large, dark, empty, and should be scary. But in my dream, it’s not scary. This dream is probably informed by MZD’s HOUSE OF LEAVES, though it feels like I’ve been having this dream for a long time. Longer than the book has been out.
  15. I had my ears pierced in college, but let them close up. Otherwise, no body modifications. I’ve been thinking about a tattoo for a while, but still haven’t committed.
  16. Oranges are my favorite fruit. But it is difficult to find a good orange in this area. We had amazing fresh orange juice in Punta Cana that changed forever our perception of how good orange juice can taste.
  17. Dead things freak me out.
  18. I have run some form of communication technology for the last 20 years… From a Commodore 64 BBS to a BBS on PCs (all of these were called “The Cafe’ BBS”) through static HTML pages, PostNuke, Xaraya, and now WordPress… Technology has always fascinated me.
  19. I built my own Personal Video Recorder (PVR). We almost never watch live television at my house any more. This is one of the coolest computer projects I’ve worked on. It has turned into a monster (in a good way) — from one proof-of-concept PC with a decent sized hard drive to a very powerful PC with large hard drives, two tuners (one standard-definition and one high-definition) connected to a NAS array with over 1 terrabyte of storage. When we were in Houston Texas for a friend’s wedding, we met the development team of BeyondTV (www.snapstream.com), the software that ties it all together. That was great fun.
  20. I am very interested in true human interaction & connection, and will drop any book or technology to be with real people. I am the type of person who gets energized in large-crowd situations.
  21. Online social sites (Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, InCircle, etc) hold very little allure to me. Some of my colleagues in university development report great success in tracking down lost alumni via those methods.
  22. I am a reader… I love reading, have an enormous book collection (my culinary book collection is nearing 500 titles), and have been a serial reader for as long as I can remember (a serial reader is a person who spends no time “between” books — think chain smoker, but with books instead of cigarettes).
  23. I have never been interested in fashion. I wear clothes simply to avoid being cold.
  24. I have a well-endowed sense of humor and have no trouble poking fun at myself.
  25. I was born hungry and have remained so all of my life.

My iPhone Experience

Recently, while my PDA was acting strangely, I tried the Apple iPhone as a prospective replacement for my AT&T Tilt (HTC 8925 running Windows Mobile 6.1). I bought an 8-gig 3G Black. Used it for 4 days, and returned it to go back to my Tilt (after hard-resetting it and reinstalling software).

Here’s what I like about the iPhone:

  • Nice form-factor. It felt sleek & good in my hand and in my pocket
  • Good screen. Nice, large, and bright
  • Decent battery life
  • Good network reception
  • Good sound on iPod stuff
  • Nice little touches throughout — the phone screen going off automatically when you put it to your ear and back on again when you bring it down — the garbage can animation when deleting a picture, for example — and others.

Here’s what I didn’t like:

  • Single-tasking! Why can’t I, for example, update my RSS feeds in the background while I organize my calendar?
  • Kludgy to get Audible audiobooks into the iPhone
  • No copy-and-paste between applications
  • No recurring reminders (I wanted Windows Mobile’s “Remind again 5 minutes before event starts” and other re-reminder options that the iPhone didn’t provide)
  • No caching RSS feed reader (I wanted the iPhone to download & cache all my feeds & images so I don’t have to wait for each one to download, and I can read feeds in a no-network area)
  • No turn-by-turn GPS (I know it’s coming, but it’s not here now)
  • 2 megapixel camera. My PDA has a 3 megapixel. Why go backward?
  • Too many apps that are feature limited or payware. I felt nickled-and-dimed.
  • Cannot hard-reset and rebuild. It felt like I was being allowed to use their proprietary technology, but I never felt like I was using my technology.
  • Apple’s iron-fisted control over the apps that are available and their slow app review/release process
  • Cannot expand the iPhone’s memory
  • Cannot mark calendar events as private
  • Cannot assign calendar events to categories. My brother-in-law showed me a workaround involving multiple calendars, but that made my desktop calendar view messy.
  • The iPhone did not show today’s special events (birthdays, anniversaries, etc) in the calendar view. Sure there are apps for that, but I look at my calendar every day — why should I have to install/open another app?
  • Lack of a Today screen (though I was getting used to not having it) — I saw a cool unlock screen app that would put the day’s events on the lock screen that was pretty cool. Maybe that was for jailbroken phones only.
  • The entire need to “jailbreak” one’s iPhone. I’m an adult. Let me decide what to install on my PDA.

If/when Apple addresses these issues, I will consider the iPhone again. But things like “single tasking” are not likely to be addressed by firmware revisions.

In response to Apple’s rapid release cycle, I’ve heard it said that when Apple releases something that is useful to you as it is that you should consider buying it. The iPhone, while very cool — and the focus of a rabid fanbase — just didn’t have the business applications that I require. It was not useful to me as it is. It’s a good platform; just not for me at this point.

Scott's Best and Worst Films of 2008

My college buddy Scott sees movies. LOTS of movies. He’s seen more movies in the last 15-20 minutes than you will see all year. He also writes up an annual best-and-worst report of the movies he’s seen each year, and kindly gave me permission to post his list here. Enjoy!

Hey Now!

So here is the long-awaited (or at least, long-promoted) list of my Best and Worst films of 2008.

Please keep in mind that these are strictly my own personal tastes, I’m not asking anyone to agree or disagree (goodness knows there will be PLENTY of that with these two lists!)… I’m just giving you my personal views on these flicks.

Also, keep in mind that these are picked from only the movies I’ve seen. (That seems obvious enough…  but when you look at my Worst list, you must remember that there were probably much worse movies out there last year, but I just choose not to see those.) So there ya go.

And without any further ado… here are:

Scott’s BEST 15 Movies of 2008

First (as is my tradition)… the Honorable Mentions. So close to the Top 15 and yet… not so close. But certainly great movies worth the mention (hence the award). This year was really tough… probably because I saw so many movies this year. A lot of quality films were released. So in the end, I erred on the side of being OVERLY inclusive… and thus I chose10 Honorable Mentions. Ridiculous, I know. But – hey – it’s my list, right?

And they are:

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button – Beautifully filmed. Brad Pitt as a little old man. Long… but great. (if it were shorter, I might have put it into my top 15)
Role Models – Funny. Pee in my pants funny.
Forgetting Sarah Marshall – I couldn’t forget this one! Such a fun time.
The Wackness – Overlooked. And wrongfully so. This is one’s not wack.
The Duchess – Royally good.
Horton Hears a Who! – Wanted to hate it. Ended up loving it.
Speed Racer – Why did people hate this movie? It was brilliant!!!
Rachel Getting Married – Best dishwasher scene and toast scene all year.
Milk – Penn & Brolin. Rockin’ the Harvey. Great film.
Towelhead – Small, overlooked. Brilliant and brutal. Hard to watch. Hard not to watch.

Well… those are the ALMOSTS… let’s move on to the CHOSEN FEW.
And here they are, starting from Number 15 and working our way up………….

15. The Visitor – Richard Jenkins is amazing, but so is the rest of the cast. This film is so simple and so good.

14. JCVD – Van Dam-tastic!!!Who knew this guy could act? Who knew this guy has a heart bigger than the size of his round-house kick? We all do now.

13. Happy-Go-Lucky – Sally Hawkins gives the best female acting performance this year. Hands down. (Maybe in the past 5 years!) She’s won countless awards for it and yet wasn’t nominated for an Oscar. Unbelievable. The film centers on her performance and rests on it. And is utterly delightful.

12. Slumdog Millionaire – Believe the hype. This is a wonderful film. Not the absolute best of the year, but a feel-good (mostly) movie that is dazzling to watch.

11. The Strangers – Horror movies get no love. This one is creepy beyond measure and completely unforgiving. Succeeds on every level.

10. Bolt – Everything a family animated film should be: fun, adventurous, beautiful to watch and well-written.

9. Frost/Nixon – Two stellar starring performances supported by numerous wonderful supporting performances. Directed brilliantly by Opie. As usual.

8. Tell No One – A French thriller/psychological drama/mystery.The kind of film that American filmmakers dream of making one day. So good.

7. The Dark Knight – A little-known film that didn’t get much press… but darned good.

6. Tropic Thunder – This is one of those movies that you hope never ends. So funny and exactly on the mark!

5. Wall-E – Pixar never misses. Never.

4. I’ve Loved You So Long – The subtlety in this film is unparalleled. One of the best dramas in many years. The best closing line all year.

3. In Bruges – Best written script. Tightly structured and delightfully wicked. I predict that McDonagh could be my favorite filmmaker in the years to come.

2. The Fall – Best Art Direction in years. Best Cinematography in years. Not a single nomination or even a mention by any major awards. A crime. This film is nothing short of brilliant and utterly beautiful.The story is tender and well-constructed. A real-life fairy tale weaved together with a spoken one. Touching and amazing. Words fail describing the beauty of this film.

… and my NUMBER ONE movie of 2008 is …

1. Let the Right One In – Who’d have thought a Scandinavian coming-of-age love story between a little boy and a little girl vampire would be so tender and so perfect? Heck, who’d have thought it would even be made! But it is – by far – the best movie of the year.

*** Okay***

You’ve seen my Top 15 (plus 10) of 2008. Now for the real Stinkers!!!

There are numerous reasons that a movie can fail. These films cover all of those.

And – yes – I actually paid to see all of these. I have failed.

So, here they are:

Scott’s WORST 15 Movies of 2008

15. Doubt – A fine example of a brilliant playwright that wrote a brilliant play … and then showed what a horrible director he was by completely screwing up his movie with absolutely terrible direction. Booboo, that scary, scary wind! Haley, get thee back to a theatre!

14. Untraceable – Describes the plotline and any fraction of believability or good acting in this film.

13. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day – Too bad I almost died for an hour or two watching this movie. I just wanted to scream at everyone on the screen: “I don’t care about any of you! You are boring me! Stop! Please! Stop! Give me my life back!”

12. Get Smart – If I had, I wouldn’t have paid full price for this crap.

11. RocknRolla – Further proof that Madonna has completely screwed up Guy Ritchie’s head. He’s still trying to make the same movie over and over again. And it keeps getting worse each time he releases it with a different title.

10. Leatherheads – Describes the people responsible for giving us this piece of doody.

9. Blindness – If only. And quite possibly the worst ending of a film all year. Like a typical SNL skit where the writers can’t come up with an ending.

8. The Spirit – My most disappointing experience all year. Wanted to love this one. Now, I only want to fight Frank Miller.

7. Valkyrie – aka “That Darn Hitler!” So anti-climatic, I just couldn’t get past it. We know what happens. We know Cruise is gonna fail. Hard to root for an idiot, idealistic as he may be.

6. The Reader – This movie is nominated for Best Picture of the Year. I think I want to throw myself in a tank with a poisonous jellyfish (wait, that’s another movie). Winslet takes her shirt off for 40 minutes and then mopes around for another hour and a half. Just dull, bleak, and uninteresting. Geez, I hated this film.

5. City of Ember – This sounded like such a cool concept for a movie. It tried really hard, but about halfway through, it just fell entirely apart. The movie should’ve stayed buried with the rest of the city.

4. Gran Torino – Four terrible things we learned from this film: 1. Racism is apparently funny. 2. There are zero Hmong people who can act. 3. Eastwood has apparently become a parody of himself. Yes, no one can pretend to make fun of being Eastwood, like he does himself… without meaning to. 4. No one can tell Eastwood: “Clint, we gotta fix that barbershop scene. This is a drama. Seriously. Oh, and Clint… don’t sing.”

3. Rambo – Okay, Sly, time to go to sleep. Nighty-night, big guy. You had a good run. Sh-sh. Just lie down. Give me the camera. Sh-sh-shhhhh….

2. Righteous Kill – Summing up where Pacino and DeNiro’s careers are heading for.

… and finally – thankfully – my NUMBER ONE WORST movie of 2008 is …

1. The Happening – There were times while I was watching this movie where I – TRULY – thought that I was being punk’d. There is NO WAY that Wahlberg could be acting that badly. There is NO WAY that M. Night could have written this trite and utterly ridiculous movie. When Marky Mark talks to a plastic plant, it could be the worst acting moment ever captured on film. Wow. This movie is completely ri-donk-ulous. There is no way to plan a movie this bad. Ouch.

There ya go.
Plenty of fodder to take aim with.
Fire away.

I welcome your thoughts, rebuttals and insights!!!

Scotty boy

1/20/2009 Wine Dinner at Midwest Culinary Institute

Below are photos from the January 20, 2009 Wine Dinner at Midwest Culinary Institute. Menu is below!

Amuse Bouche
Trevisiol Extra Brut Prosecco, NV

Seared Scallops with Celeriac Slaw and Blood Orange Beurre Blanc
Les Deux Tours Sauvignon Blanc 2005 and Mosel River Riesling 2007

Roasted Rack of Lamb with Israeli Couscous, Swiss Chard, Carrots Vichy
Delas Cotes-du-Rhone Saint Esprit 2007

Fromage du Maison
Parcel 41 Merlot 2006

Friandises (sweets)