Wednesday, January 9, 2008

My 10 Favorite Things of 2007

Well, admittedly this is a complete ripoff of Mr. Yeager's Blog. After reading his, I got to thinking about what my "Top 10 Favorite Things of 2007" would be. This year has undoubtedly been a great year, and it seemed like every time I turned around, something awesome happened. That made narrowing this list down to 10 things very difficult.

Disclaimer: When making my list I left out one significant thing that happened in 2007: meeting Karen and getting engaged. That, at least in my opinion, is a huge life-changing series of events that will go in the "Top 10 Favorite Things of My Life" list. Maybe even #2 right behind video games!!! I'm going to get hit with a bottle of Le Chouffe for that comment. I will have to face the feline wrath and evil powers of The Sass (student of the great David Lo Pan)...

But I digress...

10. Our little Fantasy Football League. The whole thing was a complete mess from the get-go and never once failed to deliver on ludacris hilarity. Trades were plentiful and rediculous, the polls were obscenely funny, the boasts were unabashed, Karen drafted a team based exclusively on criminal record and how often a player made an ass out of themselves with their big mouths, and Chuck "Machete" Garcia, who didn't even show up for the draft, started with about six kickers on his team, and logged in maybe five times throughout the season managed to win the championship.

Yes, he did have Tom Brady.

9. Bad movie night. To this day people still don't understand why Chuck and I purposely spend money to see bad movies. Many of our friends enjoy movies with "sugar coatings" like character development, intelligent and well-thought-out plots, witty dialog, budgets, etc... They like to feel all warm and fuzzy or sad and weepy or at least get some kind of emotional response from their cinema experience.

Yes, we appreciate those things as well from time to time. We also appreciate a good chainsaw to the face, lots of profanity, fast cars, vapid lines, monsters, inbred hill people, and many, many gunfights. Highlights from this banner 2007 year include Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (not to be confused with Requiem for a Dream), Ghost Rider, The Hills Have Eyes II, Hannibal Rising, Grindhouse, 28 Weeks Later, Halloween, Saw IV, and Hitman.

Two movies really stood out this year, however. First was 300. Much like Sin City, it had all the violence, bloodshed, profanity, and sex that Chuck and I enjoy in our "bad movie night" cinema, but also managed to be a good movie to boot (like with believable actors and a plot and all). Who'd'a thunk it!!! (This movie was also Karen and my first blind date, and when she snickered at all the carnage, I knew I had a keeper.)

The other was Dragon Wars, or D-Wars as it was also called. In theory, this movie had all the earmarks of a good "bad movie night" flick - crazy CGI dragons destroying LA, flying dragons locked in combat with Apache helicopters, dragons with cannons on their backs, etc... The movie turned out to be legitimately horrible, however. In Chuck's words "that movie made the Dungeons & Dragons movie look like Lord of the Rings. The second Dungeons & Dragons movie. Like the SciFi Channel one." Here is the full review I gave Yeager. It seriously was the first movie I almost walked out of and absolutely hands down the worst movie of all time.

8. Computer Building. All my life I've been developing different variations of what my mom endearingly calls "Frankencomputers." That is when I take all the parts from all of the computers she desperately needs for work and combine them into one super computer which usually works. This year, I built one completely from scratch with the help of Newegg (best computer part site ev4r), Chuck, and his dad. Yeager provided moral support in the form of teasing me that I should just get a Mac. It was a great do-it-yourself project that I liken to guys working on classic muscle cars, except way geekier. It's definitely my favorite new hobby.

What I built was a monster!!! The most powerful gaming machines on the market couldn't hold a candle to it!!! Look at it in all its majesty!!! Ok, seriously, the thing worked way better than expected and I saved a ton building it myself. I learned a lot about computers and Chuck and I had fun tweaking it.

That was January 2007. Now it is falling behind the curve... Time to rebuild it. Stronger. Faster. More Expensive!!! It really is like working with classic muscle cars, except geeky.

I will not buy a Mac.

7. The 2007 PA Renaissance Faire. Turkey legs. Swords. Mead. Swords. Beer. Axes. Swords. More Beer. More Turkey Legs. Nothing else need be said.

6. Tai Chi. I have been interested in Martial Arts since my uncles let me watch violent action movies in the 80s (without telling my grandmom, of course - I was about 8 years old). I started out taking Judo and Jiu Jitsu when I was a kid, but really got into it in college when I studied Wing Chun Kung Fu. After I transferred, I fell out of practice, but my interest never really dwindled. Last year, my friend Phil convinced me to join his martial arts school, and I found what is probably my favorite martial art to date: Tai Chi.

I'm not talking about the New Age "find your soulmate, Homer" Tai Chi that aging hippies do to "decompress their auras," maaaaaaan. No, this is the centuries-old Chinese Martial Art known as Tai Chi Chuan, which translates to "Supreme Ultimate Fist" or "Great Extremes Boxing" depending on your dialect. Yes, there is a lot of emphasis on balance, mental centering, and overall health improvement, which is great for my knees, ankles, and every other part of my body currently held together with titanium and duct tape. I really enjoy the "I'm going to kick your ass" and "I'll stab you with this sword" aspects as well, which are often downplayed in New Age Tai Chi (Tai Chi Lite or Diet Tai Chi Latte).

5. NC-52. NC-52 was the first conceptual design I got to work on. It's a project that doesn't even exist yet and may not ever happen, but I got to apply a lot of my education and creativity (with some very helpful guidance from my boss), start to finish, including the $200M cost estimate.

It's kind of a point of pride for me. I talk with Yeager about this all the time, but looking back about seven years, the only thing I would have with a $200M price tag would be a bar tab. I feel like I've come a long way since those days when I said I was an engineering student - you know, signing up for and never attending engineering classes because it would get in the way of the party schedule. I guess we're all afraid of growing up at one time or another. Then we do and realize that growing up not only isn't all that bad, it's fun (and you can afford crazy things like rent and cell phone bills and food!!!). You don't have to stop having fun, but your definitions may change.

Still don't know when I'm ever going to use Differential Equations, though.

4. Burning Empires. I have been playing RPGs for a long time now. For almost the past decade I've been gaming with the same few guys. Not only did I think that I knew all of their sneakiest tricks, but that I had used all of my shady and clever ideas up as well.

I was very wrong.

The level of RP and sneaky, underhanded (and entertaining) trickery rivals the 2008 Presidential Race. And there is no preparation whatsoever (again, mirroring the 2008 Presidential Race). All we do is show up and have an intense, mind-blowing game full of large-scale battles, deceits, debates, and most importantly, shenanigans. Shenanigans of course being complete plot twists, turns, and reversals of fortune within the three minute time frame of one "color scene."

It's everything an RPG should be and I can not wait to start playing again.

3. Alison's New Job. It may actually be the All-American Karma-Based Story of how hard work, dedication, and sacrifice can actually pay off in the end. For those who don't know, my sister Alison spent every week since her graduation from NYU auditioning for any part she could get her hands on. She had a few extra shots in movies and TV here and there, but really wanted to get something steady in musical theater (where she is immensely talented).

Since she did not have her magic equity card yet, she had to show up for auditions before dawn and wait sometimes 10 -12 hours for a quick tryout that the casting people may or may not have paid attention to. In addition to that, she got fired via text message over the summer from a bartending job (classy management, for sure) for taking a day off (huh?) and lived in a very dangerous neighborhood in New York so she could continue to get to auditions on time. I felt sick every time she related stories about old men and women getting beat up on her front stoop and when she showed us videos of her practicing where you could hear gunshots in the background clear as day. Parents were not pleased.

Anywho, right before Christmas, she finally caught a break. Theaterworks cast her as a lead in one of their touring companies for a Children's Show. She gets to travel all over the country (and away from stray bullets and broad daylight assaults), has a steady paycheck and health insurance, and finally has her magical equity card, which means she can wake up at a normal hour for her future auditions. And she can move to a part of town that is relatively safe.

Thank god.

2. Northern Libs. Karen and I moved this past November to Northern Liberties in Philadelphia, and it was probably one of the best decisions of my life (even factoring in how much I hate moving). For starters, we're saving about ten to fifteen hours a week commuting, which is like getting an extra day in the week or a full night of sleep every night, depending on how you look at it. We're also near a lot of fun bars and restaurants (if you haven't gone to Honey's Sit and Eat, you haven't ever truly eaten). And let me tell you, it's nice having a social life again. I think we both just really enjoy having everything we could possibly want right at our doorstep and city life in general, especially in our own little neighborhood.

Saabulous Prime is enjoying retirement, as well.

1. My Friends and Family. I'm not trying to be sappy, so hear me out. 2006 was an odd year for me. Actually, it was an odd year for my alternative online personas. 2007 was a complete 180 in terms of actually getting out of my room and doing stuff with the people in my life who truly matter. Being able to reconnect (by disconnecting) with family and friends and do things like go to the Ren Faire, enjoy the holidays, have fun at Dan's bachelor party and wedding, attend Craigcon (I know your dark secret), see my friends, spend time down the shore, and especially to get engaged is very satisfying and uplifting. It just reminds me that the people in my life now are really the best people ever, hands down.

Honorable mention: Blackberry Mapquest, Le Chouffe, Honey's Turkey Meatloaf and Mac&Cheese

5 Comments:

At January 9, 2008 at 9:17 PM , Anonymous Karen said...

Hi! I'm Karen, the aforementioned fiancee. Yes, my cat looks that way. And no, I didn't hit Andy with a bottle of La Chouffe. But if I had the money tonight, I would have!

 
At January 10, 2008 at 8:17 AM , Blogger robustyoungsoul said...

Buy a Mac.

 
At January 10, 2008 at 8:58 AM , Blogger Andy said...

NEVER!!!

Well, not until Mac sells their OS separately...

 
At February 18, 2008 at 8:22 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dude, I SOOOO have to get myself invited to your bad movies nights. Character development is nothing but filler between the round-house kicks, spurting blood and primal scream moments. Everyone knows this but is too "cultured" to truly embrace it.

 
At February 18, 2008 at 8:22 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

PS... Macs rool.

 

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