Monday, October 23, 2006


A few entries ago I talked about the brilliant and hilarious NPR show "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me...", in which I mentioned that I like to listen to the podcast version of the show during my daily workout. Well, there's only one Wait Wait podcast per week and lots more days in which I like to do my workout, so I've been searching for other good podcasts. Here's my problem. One can go on a site like Podcast Alley and search for podcasts by genre, but that doesn't really work for me because really I'm looking for one that's interesting, not necessarily about a specific topic. My other requirement is that it be free. I'm interested in the Splendid Table podcast but in order to download it you have to pay for it. Dude. I'm a product of the internet revolution. Everything online is supposed to be free.

And so I finally found another worthy podcast, Filmspotting. Like Wait Wait, Filmspotting is based in Chicago, but I don't believe it's nationally syndicated. If you live in the greater chicago-land area you can hear it on Chicago Public Radio, or you can do what I do, and download their free weekly podcast. The show is great. The format features two film-nerd buddies who often dissagree about which films are instant classics and which are trash (For example, one absolutely adored The Illusionist, the other hated it). The typical show starts with a featured review of a recently released movie, ventures into some listener feedback, detours into a segment they call Massacre Theater in which they act out a scene from a movie and listeners are invited to figure which scene for prizes, and frequently finishes with their top five list. Each week's top five has a different theme. A recent favorite of mine had the following premise:

The Situation

Every film made between 1980 and 1989 is going to be wiped from the Earth. Your mission: save one.

The Request

Give us a call and leave a voice mail. The one film you'd save from the 80s and why.

The hosts, Adam Kempenaar and Sam Van Hallgren typically reveal their runners-up (numbers 6 through 10) before alternating between them as they reveal their top five. In this case, the five movies from the 80's they would save from destruction. Which five movies from the 80's would you save from destruction?

The discussion is often interesting and the analysis is often real and heartfelt. They tend not to clinically analyze the films but truthfully acknowledge how the film hit them at an emotional level. And it's always fascinating to listen to two intelligent people disagree on a film and hear why one of thinks it's a masterpiece and the other a piece of trash.

I will admit that the podcasts can tend to be long-winded, frequently going over an hour. But this is why I like them for my workouts, as it inspires me to keep going just a bit longer on the elliptical trainer.

Here's my list (off the top of my head, I might have forgotten some classics):

1. The Princess Bride
2. The Empire Strikes Back
3. Back to the Future
4. Ghostbusters
5. The Right Stuff

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Punch Bowl

The Punch Bowl
Originally uploaded by areageek.
This picture has achieved legendary and classic status among my family. In the picture, I'm the cute one.

This was taken at my Grandparents' 40th wedding anniversary celebration. I remember a few things from the party, but I don't remember being around the punch bowl while this picture was being taken. I do remember eating some red grapes that I thought were disgusting because I wasn't expecting them to have seeds in them. And getting locked in the bathroom with my cousin Kim.


Originally uploaded by thewbert.
Some of you may have noticed that my Flickr account was updated weeks ago with pictures from my vacation to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, but that I haven't blogged about it yet. Well here's the blog entry. Over on the right you can see a picture from the top of Mt. Washburn. We, being my parents and I, hiked up to the top on our first full day at Yellowstone. The veiw from the top, a mere 10,243 feet, was spectacular. There was a bit of haze in the air from all the nearby forest fires as it was forest fire season when we were there but the weather was perfect, warm and dry without being too hot. Click on the picture for more select pictures from our vacation.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Fun is awesome.

On friday I attended the Great American Beer Festival in glorious Denver, Colorado. This festival is apparently in the Guinness Book of World Records as the event with the largest number of beers on tap.* Guinness was not in attendance. Here are some random observations.

  • Every damn brewery in the US thinks they're clever and unique. They're not. Seriously, every brewer had some clerverly punny-named IPA or Porter. They pretty much all tasted the same. I stopped sampling anything with a clever name after the first 10 minutes.

  • I want a pretzel necklace. I didn't get the memo on these. About half the people in attendance had a pretzel necklace. I guess so they could snack on pretzels between 1 oz. samples of beer.

  • Some brewery in Alaska makes a smoked beer. The rep said they actually smoke the barley used to make the beer the same way one smokes salmon. It was better than it sounds, but I can't imagine what one would pair this particular beer with. I certainly wouldn't want smoked beer with my smoked fish.

  • Surprisingly, my favorite new find came from a brewery in my own backyard, the Wynkoop in LoDo. I've been there a few times and always noticed the "Patty's Chili Beer" on the menu. Intrigued, I was thrown off a bit by the menu's promise of ancho and annaheim peppers. Don't get me wrong; I like peppers and peppery foods. But I wasn't so sure it would make a good addition to beer. Beer isn't supposed to be spicy, it's supposed to be what you drink when you're eating something spicy. Turns out, this beer is delicious. In the sample I had the pepper aspect wasn't spicy per se, it simply contributes an organic and earthy freshness to the beer. Drinking it was like the smell you get when you take a ripe, fresh pepper and make that first cut into it on the cutting board. The smell overwhelmes you, not in a spicy\hot way, but in a flavorful smell of nature itself way. This is what the beer tastes like.

  • Another favorite of mine was called "Orange Blossom" from Papago Brewing in Scottsdale, AZ. It pours a cloudy golden color and, as the name would imply, has a slight aroma of citrus. The taste is smooth and slightly sweet, the kind of beer you can quaff rather quickly without realizing it but has enough flavor to hold its own.

  • I'm apparently allergic to the Colorado Convention Center. About two hours into the tasting my nose started running like crazy and my eyes were itchy as hell. I didn't realize immediately that it was an allergic reaction (I thought I was getting a cold), but it must have been. Not long after leaving, my symptoms started going away and I awoke the next morning feeling fine.

  • Fun is awesome. So read a sticker handed to me by a guy manning some kind of "beer glove" booth. I'm inclined to agree with said sticker.

  • There was a booth there by the Mormon Drinking Team, also known as X-communicated. They had several hilarious t-shirts for sale, my favorite being the one with a picture of a happy jesus holding a glass of beer with the words "What Would Jesus Drink".

A fun time was had by all. Props to my beer-drinking cohort Lynne who came all the way from Atlanta to attend the beer fest with me. We got a couple of pictures of us at the fest on her camera. She left it on the bus when we came back to Boulder but rumor has it that she retrieved it from RTD's lost and found this morning. Huzzah! I'll post a picture if/when I get one.

*This is unverified. I personally have no idea whether or not this event is in the Guinnes Book of World Records.