Friday, January 30, 2009

Blogs: XKCD

We've been following the web-comic XKCD for a while now, and we like what we've seen thus far. The comic's tagline is: 'A Webcomic of Romance, Sarcasm, Math, and Language.' What's not to love there? Fun computer, news, and all around nerdy related humor that resonates perfectly with our fiesty funny bone!

Quick vote: This one is a keeper!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Movie: Love in the Time of Cholera

Awhile back we read the book Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and were recommended the movie, but it took us this long to get around to it. I guess we have more business on our plates than previously supposed.

This movie is beautiful. The scenery is breath-taking, and the cinematography is incredible. The film follows the book fairly closely, though losing some details about the younger generations, an understandable cut considering the movie was already 2.5 hours long! Fermina and Florentino were lovers in their youth and while she moved on, falling in love with another man, he never forgot about her and spent his entire life waiting for her. When finally her husband died, he swept in from the wings where he had sat for more than fifty years. It's a story about marriage, sex, patience, sacrifice, and above all, love.

Quick vote: We really liked this movie and it is definitely one of the most beautiful movies we have ever seen.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

TV: Friday Night Lights

We watched the pilot episode for this television show several times and were never quite able to get into it. Above all, we felt, it was a show about high school football, and we didn't think that it could be much more than that, but boy were we wrong.

Friday Night Lights, is an interesting drama unlike any other television show currently out there. It's filmed like a documentary, following the star football players as well as their girlfriends, families, and coach through their convoluted and very genuine lives. Dillon, Texas is obsessed with football, and this team of teenagers becomes the center of attention very rapidly. It's definitely not for everyone, but we would recommend that you give it a shot, at the very least!

Quick vote: We really like this show. It original, different, and we've grown to love it; though we tend to tune out when the actual football portion of the show is on.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Music: Birds Flying Away by Mason Jennings

Mason Jennings is a relatively unknown artist who we accidentally stumbled upon. He has an incredible ability to write moving songs with poignant and often times, political, lyrics. We really like his acoustic styling and his rich vocals. Two paws up!

"Fight the violence with nonviolence.
What good is justice if the scales are bent,
By a criminal government.
Think of the dead in Vietnam.
Think of the dead in Birmingham.
Think of the freedom we don't understand."
--Black Panther

"Dr. King,
I think often of you,
And the love that you learned,
From Jesus."
--Dr. King

Quick vote: Though this guy totally thinks he's a Martin Luther King Jr. reincarnated, he's got a lot of talent and we really like him!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Books: The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

We seem to be the last animals in left in the world that haven't read The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America, as everyone we talk to about it has already read it, but we just finished it and we're recommending it here. It really is an incredible book.

In the late 1890's, Chicago was given the opportunity to build and hold a gigantic World's Fair to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Columbus's trip, and to upstage Paris's recent world fair. A slew of architects, engineers, builders, landscapers, and more set to work design a fair that no one would ever forget. In the midst of all this excitement and of the eventual success the fair would be, dwelt a serial killer of the most macabre. Great setting for a story, right? This non-fiction is a little drier than a novel, but still feels like a horror novel. We loved it!

Quick vote: If you don't mind non-fiction, this is an incredible book; and if you're one of the few people that haven't read it yet, you're in for a real treat.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Blogs: The Garlick Press

Our grandmother has been blogging for a few months now, and we really enjoy what she has come up with! Her blog, The Garlick Press, is a nice mixture of pictures, humorous stories, and documentation of family events. If you're looking to keep a finger on the pulse of the lives of the Garlicks, this is the blog for you!

"A couple of weeks ago I woke up and told Dean I needed to go to the liquor store and asked if he'd come along. He laughed and said "OK, bad day?" I use white wine to cook with on occasion and the cooking wine in the grocery store is beyond bad. So game on... we went to the State Liquor Store."
--In a brown paper bag

"Perhaps my favorite thing about pie night is to watch the wives chastise the husbands over how many pieces they have eaten. And then I promptly catch their eye and pass them another when the wives aren't watching. Shh... keep that a secret!"
--Pie Night 2008

Quick vote: This is an informative blog, and often we get to see pictures of our beloved Aunt Izzie! Check it out!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Movie: The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters

We were introduced to this movie this week by our Aunt/Uncle Sceech. The King of Kong is an iconic documentary about life, struggles, competition, and video games. It is centered around the old arcade game King Kong, where Mario must battle King Kong, avoiding many projectile objects, to try to rescue Princess Peach (an impossible feat).

Billy Mitchell has held the record on King Kong for decades when a newcomer to the videogame scene, Steve Weibe, beats it on a game console he keeps in his garage. Controversy surrounds Steve's score, so a head-to-head competition is proposed betwixt the two to determine who should hold the Guiness World Record for the highest King Kong score.

Quick vote: This movie is incredible. We give it an A+ and wholeheartedly recommend it!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

TV: Kath & Kim

We've heard several people mention that Kath & Kim is one of the stupidest shows on television lately, and as such is actually quite funny. So after hearing all of these rumors, we decided to try it out for ourselves. The show, while ridiculous and bizarro is an interesting character study, and we found ourselves interested in watching more, perhaps rubbernecker-style.

Kath is a loving, though quite clueless, mother to her daughter Kim, who is worthless in every way imaginable. They are both obsessed with fashion and have their own unique styles. They both love to keep up with all the Hollywood gossip. Kath is in a healthy relationship and preparing to get married to a man who has recently lost 200 pounds; while Kim is estranged from her doting husband and lives with her mother. The makings of some great love stories right there. The show is ridiculous and pretty funny, but also quite annoying and we suspect that you will feel differently about this show based on your mood and lack of sleep.

Quick vote: This show is stupid. But we kind of like it... Don't judge us!

Also, happy birthday Aunt Izzie!!!!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Music: Lost in Space by Aimee Mann

Preface: Happy Inaugural Day! Sammi is busy celebrating while Maggie is sulking in the corner with her GOP engraved bone collection.

This album, pilfered from our Aunt Jocie's collection, is warm and delicate. Aimee Mann sings to a background of trumpets, acoustic guitar, and occasionally violins. She reminds us of country-esque Sarah McLachlan mixed with Brandi Carlisle and a great-sounding band in the background. Her lyrics are honest and raw, and her voice and musical stylings sound good. We've been enjoying her lately, and recommend you give her a listen!

"Say you were split,
You were split in fragments.
Well maybe I want that too,
And not all the pieces would talk to you.
Staying won't put these futures back together,
So better take the keys and drive forever."
--Humpty Dumpty

"I keep going round and round on the same old circuit.
A wire travels underground to a vacant lot,
And shrinks the picture down to a tiny dot;
Where something I can't see interrupts the current."
--It's Not

Quick vote: This album is pretty great. We'd give it a B+.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Books: It by Stephen King

We have been reading the book It by Stephen King for quite some time. We picked it up back in December, but had a hard time finishing the >1000 pages, and picked up several books in the interim. This weekend, however, we finally finished the behemoth and lived to tell the tale!

It is the story of Derry, Maine; a small town that is being terrorized by a large unknowable force that feeds on children. Seven eleven-year-olds set out to defeat the being, the It and nearly do, but twenty-seven years later It is back again, and they must return. It often shows up in the form of a clown, or your worst nightmare incorporated into a clown (e.g. zombie clown, werewolf clown). We liked the book, but it wasn't quite as scary as we had hoped for. We kept waiting for the super scary parts found in other classic Stephen King books, but it just got creepy and grotesque. It definitely wasn't worth the 1,000+ pages.

Quick vote: Meh. We wouldn't recommend it.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Blogs: Wordle

The internet is full of lots of fun tools, so we weren't surprised to discover Wordle, a tool for creating "word clouds" out of any text provided or by crawling any url provided. What is a word cloud, you ask. Well look below to get an example taken from our blog as of 1/15/2009.

Quick vote: Wordle is a lot of fun, a great way to waste a lazy afternoon while waiting for the long weekend to arrive!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Movie: Sex and the City

All year we've been hearing about how phenomenal the Sex and the City movie is, so one night when our dad was out of town, we went out and rented it. It was probably much better for those people who have followed the show for years, but we still enjoyed it. It's definitely rated R for a reason, and it's not a movie that most males would tolerate, but we liked it.

Carrie Bradshaw, amazing author and friend extraordinaire, has found her happy ending with Mr. Big and she has decided to marry him. Her three friends each have their own happy endings which become convoluted through the course of the movie. It's a fun film about fashion, friendship, and love. The movie was much better than we expected, even though we had never really seen the television show.

Quick vote: We liked it, alright; it was pretty fun. Don't mock us mercilessly!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Politics: The First Dog (Part II)

As the inauguration of our new president quickly approaches, the first family has been focusing on the most important matter, what will they get for their first dog? The options have been narrowed down to two, the Labradoodle, or the Portuguese Water Dog. We consider this such an important issue that we will give our recommendation a second time, with these revised options.

Maggie: I have met a few Labradoodles at our local dog park, and what a hoot those guys are! No seriously, I'm a lab mix myself and I have to wholly endorse any lab/poodle mix. Labradoodles seems to take on the best attributes of the two breeds, while simultaneously diluting out any genetic problems that might be compounded by inbreeding. They are excellent with children, loyal, easy to train, active, and lovable. Our Aunt Izzie is a relative of the Labradoodle, the Golden Doodle (A golden retriever/poodle mix), and she has an excellent temperment, great manners, and loves to play! These dogs don't shed, which would be a great plus for Malia's allergies. Portuguese Water Dogs need a lot of time and dedication to train them, or else they become destructive. The Obama family is sure to be quite distracted, and I don't want a doggie to destroy the White House and then the rest of us be punished by harsh anti-doggie legislation. I won't let it happen! As loyal as they are, a labradoodle puppy is sure to agree politically with the family, and then intelligently defend their positions to other doggies around the world. This is an excellent choice!

Sammi: What Maggie is not telling you is that Labradoodles are an unpredictable breed. The Obamas could end up with an excellent dog, or they could end up with an unholy terror; that's just the risk that you take mixing two very different breeds. I think that the Obamas should stick with the tried and true, the Portuguese Water Dog. Barack himself has a foreign background, and he would relate well to the Portuguese breed. These dogs are working dogs, great companions, easily trained, and enjoy being petted. A dog of this breed would be perfect for the Obamas, they could train it to pull things around the White House, and it would be content to sit, eagerly awaiting a command, through long meetings or cross-country flights. Also, that reflecting pool in front of the George Washington Monument would make an excellent swimming pool. Since the breed is great at learning and working, perhaps the puppy could pick up some secretarial or note-taking work around the office, saving the taxpayers from having to hire someone! Look at that face, how could you say no to it?!

Quick vote: Regardless of the breed that the Obamas finally settle on, what's really important is that there is a first dog to advocate for canine rights all over the country, and that said dog is a bitch!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Music: Acid Tongue by Jenny Lewis

Jenny Lewis, singer for the band Rilo Kiley, recently released the solo album, Acid Tongue, which was recommended to us by our Aunt Didi. We love Rilo Kiley, and we were excited to see what Jenny Lewis would come up with. It seems as Indie music progresses, it becomes closer and closer to folksy-country music, which is what has happened in this case. We really like the album, it's fun and funky, but there are some songs that could easily be called country.

"You go west for the black setting sun,
You go south to the white spirit world,
You go east for those real green eyes,
You go north, walk the good red road,
Pretty bird."
--Pretty Bird

"If you're high strung or stressed out,
Down in the dumps, been turned out;
Stabilized, motorized, insecure or fableized,
Curious or furious, picked apart like Prometheus;
Legalized, penalized, simplify, dry out your eyes.

If you want to go where they chain up the sun,
See Fernando, see Fernando."
--See Fernando

Quick vote: If you like Rilo Kiley, you'll enjoy this album. The music is fun and quite unique. We like it!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Books: Free-Range Chickens by Simon Rich

We picked up the quick read, Free-Range Chickens by Simon Rich this weekend, and were not disappointed with what we found. We had been recommended the book a couple of weeks ago, but just got around to reading it.

Simon Rich, a writer from SNL, fills his pages with short essays that are guaranteed to produce laughter. He writes about childhood, philosophical questions, and Count Dracula's profile. This book was brief, hilarious, and fairly clean. We really enjoyed reading it, and recommend it to y'all.

Quick vote: This is the funniest book we've read in quite a while. Check it out! You won't be disappointed.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Blogs: Engrish

Our mom's friend, Uncle Eli, recommended that we check out the blog Engrish, which posts classic misspellings and mistranslations of the English language by Asian speakers.

Quick vote: This blog is awesome and hilarious! Enjoy.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Movie: Get Smart

When we first saw the preview for the movie, Get Smart, we groaned internally. Yet another stupid spy/not-a-spy movie where the characters bumble their way through to miraculously defeat the bad guy. Which is exactly what the movie is about, but somehow it's not as horrible as we had originally imagined it to be.

This movie is an adaptation of the 1960's television show of the same name. Steve Carrell plays Maxwell Smart, and Anne Hathaway plays Agent 99; two intrepid agents who must work together to take down the evil Russians and their undercover group, KAOS. The show is pretty dorky, but not-unlovable, and while we probably won't ever watch it again, we enjoyed it the first time around.

Quick vote:
Yeah, watch it. You'll laugh a few times, roll your eyes a few times, and then move on.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

TV: Big Love

Big Love has been on the air for a few years, but we haven't picked it up until recently when a few people happened to recommend it to us. The show follows a family of polygamists living in Salt Lake City, trying to live a normal life and yet still stay under the radar. The show is from HBO, so be warned there, but we really like it. It's smart, sassy, and does quite a good job of portraying the family, the LDS people, and the FLDS people.

Bill Hendrickson lives a quiet life in Sandy, a suburb of Salt Lake City, owning and operating two hardware stores. He lives in a quiet block and owns three houses, each of which contain a wife and a few children. His middle wife, Nikki, is the daughter of an FLDS prophet, and tied to a community the rest of them want desperately to distance themselves from. This peek into the lives of a polygamous family, what they give up and what they gain by living 'the principle,' is fascinating and we're very much enjoying it. Not to mention all of the fun stars that crop up everywhere (including Deb from Napoleon Dynamite!)

Quick vote:
We really like this show, and the way that it portrays LDS people (a little crazy, but nice people) in comparison with the FLDS people (gross and strange). This is a very well done show, and HBO has done an excellent job.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Music: 808s and Heartbreak by Kanye West

Our Aunt Heady gave us the album 808s and Heartbreak by Kanye West a few weeks ago after we mentioned that we enjoyed a few of his singles (like Gold Digger!) and we've been listening to it nearly non-stop ever since. Kanye is known for his rapping, but this album is something completely different, and though we've tried, we just can't explain what it is that is so attractive about the music. This album seems bold, raw, and personal; unexpected from a man who wrote tunes like Crack Music and Drunk & Hot Girls.

"I'm not lovin' you the way I wanted to.
I can't keep my cool, so I keep it true.
I got somethin' to lose, so I gotta move.
I can't keep myself and still keep you too."
--Love Lockdown

"If spring can take the snow away,
Can it melt away all of our mistakes?
Memories made in the coldest winter,
Goodbye my friend, I won't ever love again.

Never again."
--Coldest Winter

Quick vote:
This album is incredible, and we're blown away by its depth. We recommend it to anyone who isn't afraid of a little R&B music and a lot of awesomeness! (Our father is not included in that group!)

Monday, January 5, 2009

Books: The Laramie Project by Moises Kaufman

We picked up this play over the holiday break (While our parents were lounging by the beach...) on a recommendation from our Grandma Christa. We haven't read any plays (other than Shakespeare) for a while, and it was fun to pick up The Laramie Project, and we finished it in about an hour.

The members of the Tectonic Theater traveled to Laramie, Wyoming after the brutal beating of openly-gay college student, Matthew Shepard. They interviewed members of the community, both those that were intricately involved in Matthew's life and were around that fateful night, and those that had just heard about the incident secondhand. They then got together and compiled all of the interviews into a play, which they performed all over the country, including in Laramie itself. We found it quite interesting to read the responses of the community to the life and death of a remarkable young man.

Quick vote: This book is a quick and interesting read about a town not too far from us. We recommend it!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Top Three Blogs of 2008

2008 has been a great year for blogs, both nascent and blossoming, including our own which was born in Fall 2007, but didn't really take off until 2008. We found a lot of great blogs this year, and hopefully that trend will continue! Keep reading to find out...

3. The Plug. (Original Review) This is technically not a blog, rather it's a web-zine, but it's exceptional enough that we had to include it here. The Plug comes out with a new edition every month with hilarious interviews, fun activities, and a great read every time. We love the contests and events discussed, and we have even attempted to duplicate some of them! This is a great site, and you can visit it here!

2. Indexed. (Original Review) This blog explores the world graphically in a funny and savvy way. Each day, the blogger draws a graph of some sort on a note-card, and scans it in for everyone to enjoy. They poke fun at current events, enlighten as to political policy, and shed light on obscure topics. We recommend this blog for all those visual learners out there, and for anyone interested in a good laugh, check it out here! (Our daddy's pick!)

1. Seriously, So Blessed. (Original Review) This is our favorite new blog for the year, and we've been following it for months now. The "writer" is an excellent satirist who is poking fun of the traditional Mormon Mommy Blogger and the young-LDS family in general. We find this blog funny and look forward to reading it. If you are interested in this sort of thing and haven't checked SSB out yet, you can read it here!

Thanks for reading our blog, and any blogs that we may have suggested to you this year, your presence is much appreciated! Happy New Year!

Honorable Mentions: Oliver, Cake Wrecks, and The Sartorialist.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Top Three Movies of 2008

We watched a lot of great movies in 2008, and we watched a lot of really crappy movies as well, which seems to be the consensus across the nation. Here are our favorite flicks from the past year:

3. The Dark Knight. (Original Review) This sequel to Batman Begins was probably the most-discussed film of the year, and for good reason. Heath Ledger's performance as the Joker was stunning, and he will be genuinely missed. Furthermore, the acting was excellent by all the cast including: Christian Bale, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Morgan Freeman. If you're one of the last people/animals that hasn't seen this remarkable film, we recommend you do so, and in fact you should make it your New Year's Resolution! (Our daddy's favorite!)

2. Juno. (Original Review) This quirky flick about a high-school girl who gets pregnant and then struggles with the consequences was awesome. We loved the unique cinematography, the LOL one-liners, (LOL = Laugh Out Loud for you old fogies.) and the touching message of this indy film. We whole-heartedly endorse this movie!

1. Air Guitar Nation. (Original Review) Air Guitar Nation is an incredible documentary following the Worldwide Air Guitar Competition, which is exactly what it sounds like. We thought that the competition would be a laughingstock, but the contestants are exceptionally talented, and it was fun to watch them play the air guitar... (That doesn't sound right. They have the same musical abilities as we do, a capacity to wag our tails to a musical beat, and they are quasi-renowned for their musical abilities?! How rude.) We love this obscure movie, and we think that you would too!

2008 was a great year for movies, and we're excited to see what 2009 has in store! Stay tuned to find out what we think...

Honorable Mentions: Enchanted, Stardust, and Waitress.