- The ESPN.com redesign launched to mixed reviews. I proudly rolled out my changes without breaking anything.
- Started running daily and watching what I ate for a month, ultimately losing 10 pounds. Then I fell back into my old routine.
- Spent a Sunday in New York as a tourist seeing the MoMA and Avenue Q.
- The Weiner family welcomed their first child, Sadie. Congrats.
- Ran the O’Hartford 5K in 36:48, exactly tying my race partner AP.
- Survived the NCAA Tournament launch and my boss’ two week paternity leave. Probably the toughest two weeks of my career.
- Went to watch Penn State play in the NIT semifinals at MSG. We won the NIT championship, making us the best of the worst.
- Read Blink!, The Blind Side, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, The Restraunt at the End of the Universe, and Me Talk Pretty One Day.
- Mourned the death of Harry Kalas.
- Attended the Annunciation BVM School Class of 1999 10 year reunion, which was fun.
- Said goodbye to Kaitlin Lee, Aaron Ho and ultimately Andrew Erickson at work. Welcomed Brandon Dow and Shane Leighton.
- Spent a lot of evenings watching the Screaming Monkeys and 79ers games, which I attribute to there being nothing to do in Connecticut.
- Survived Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen.
- Spent some time in Ocean City, NJ with my family. It was the first time my parents ever rented their own beach house.
- Drove halfway to Newport for the Newport Folk Festival before realizing I had no cash or credit card on me. Turned around and enjoyed a nicebarbecue that evening at Pacino and APs. Not a bad day.
- Went to Disney World with my mom and brothers Kevin, Jack and Billy.Oppressivelyhot but otherwise a great trip.
- Made a surprise appearance at my brother Mike’s first football game as starting quarterback. He scored a touchdown on his first play.Helped move my brother Pat into his new house the next day.
- Spent 5 days in Boston at the jQuery conference and the Ajax Experience. I highly recommend the jQuery conference.
- Bought a new bed frame, discovered it was the wrong size for my mattress. Bought a new mattress – there was no way I was building another bed.
- Bought an iPhone. Discovered I couldn’t get my work’s e-mail or make a call without getting dropped. Returned the iPhone 3 days later.
- Saw Usain Bolt run in person at ESPN’s campus.
- Attended a Bills-Jets game, the Eastern Illinois-Penn Stategame, and the Harvard-Yale. The Penn State game included a stay at a cool cabin up by Mount Tussey.
- Watched the Yankees beat the Phillies in the World Series. A sad ending to a great season.
- Joined the ESPN bowling league and got my average score up to 113.
- Got eyeglasses because I’m apparently farsighted.
This year I took my Mom and my 3 youngest brothers to Disney World from August 6-11. It was ridiculously hot and humid the whole trip, but otherwise a lot of fun.On our first full day in Disney World we went to Epcot. Going to Epcot was a strategic move recommended by the Unofficial Guide – get the World’s most “boring” park out of the way first. Thus while everyone was excited about rides like Test Track and Mission:Space, Kevin (age 12) decided that anything that wasn’t a roller coaster was a waste of time. After fighting his mother and picking on his little brothers for a while, Kevin finally warmed up to Disney entertainment and eventually accepted something with a title as boring as Universe of Energy could be fun. Unfortunately we were all too hot and tired to really appreciate the World Showcase there are limited free options there. We did get to ride Soarin’ twice thanks to smart FastPass usage and it was a big hit amongst the entire group. I was glad I got to ride Universe of Energy, Spaceship Earth, and see Turtle Talk because I missed those rides the first time I came to Epcot. I also appreciated Illuminations a lot more this time because we got a good seat and I decided not to waste time taking pictures. By the end of the day I think everyone was satisfied with their first Disney park experience – even Kevin.
[flickr-gallery mode="photoset" size="medium" photoset="72157621891216385"]
Sadly this blog hasn’t received a lot of attention from me in the last couple months, but I finally got around to updating my theme to work with the latest versions of WordPress and K2. Up next, finally posting pictures from my trip to Disney World.
Decided to get out of my apartment this morning and go for a hike around Burr Pond State Park in Torrington, CT. Basically its this giant pond/lake/reservoir with hiking trails winding around it. I did to “blue” loop around the pond, which ended up being about 2.7 mi and over an hour of walking. I didn’t realize how long it was going to take when I set out on my journey. At first I was struck by the natural beauty of the woods surrounding the pond, but at some point I transitioned into just wanting to be finished with the hike. Still it was a nice way to start the day and its a great place to spend some time. Click on the image above or the “Read More” link to see my complete gallery
- Sometimes you think you have true love and then you catch the early flight home from San Diego…
- Well, um, actually a pretty nice little Saturday, we’re going to go to Home Depot. Yeah, buy some wallpaper, maybe get some flooring, stuff like that. Maybe Bed, Bath, & Beyond, I don’t know, I don’t know if we’ll have enough time.
- Once it hits your lips, it’s so good!
- We’re going streaking! Through the quad and into the gymnasium!
- Oh, yeah. Cheeeeese… Didn’t we lock you in the dumpster one time?
- No. That’s a piece of crap. We stopped selling that six months ago. Nice gesture, though.
- You’re my boy Blue!
- Good talk, see you out there
- If you’re holding this letter you already know.
I got tired of spending weekends tucked away in my apartment, so I decided to take the train down to New York City for the day. I went to the noon mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, then walked over to the Museum of Modern Art. After spending some time there looking at the works of Van Gogh, Monet, Picasso, and Warhol I walked down to Times Square to get Broadway tickets from the TKTS booth. Then I walked back over to the Rockefeller Center to look around the NBC Studios area (I didn’t take the tour because I went on it years ago). Then I went back towards Broadway to see Avenue Q. Click the picture to see my full photo gallery.
The Super Bowl is the ultimate corporate event and since every television network is owned by a multimedia juggernaut, its really become a showcase for the home empire. NBC Universal had a lot of ads for its theme parks, movies, TV shows, and its parent company: GE. But I think what surprised me the most was how NBC’s talent and properties showed up in other sponsors ads.
First up, Conan O’Brien in one of the funniest ads of the year. It brings up a good point though, Conan never does ads. So why would he do one this year? Could it be because NBC wants him to get some more exposure before he takes over The Tonight Show this fall?
Next up is Monsters vs. Aliens appearing in the Sobe commercial. This one makes a little more sense, since Sobe sponsored the 3D trailer event for Monsters vs. Aliens just seconds before. All in all though, the characters seemed a bit out of place in an already weird commercial.
Alec Baldwin of 30 Rock introduces the American public to Hulu. Hulu is part owned by NBC, so this could be considered a house ad. But it isn’t a subsidiary, so it stands to reason they produced their own commercial. And who better to play a television executive then a man who already plays a television executive on TV. At one point he’s actually watching his own show.
Finally MacGruber is an SNL skit turned Pepsi commercial. This one seemed most curious, since Pepsi already had a series of commercials that were stylistically different geared towards their brand “refresh”. Watching this (hilarious) commercial almost makes me wonder in NBC threw in the SNL guys for an extra ad sale.
Hey, I’m blogging again! Last year I had a best movies of the year list done by now, but I haven’t seen enough of the end of year films yet to put out a definitive list. However, I decided I should at least start thinking about my favorites for the year. So I decided to start with a post in the fun style that Kaitlin Lee wrote her list in a few weeks ago.
My Favorite Movie of the Year (So Far): The Dark Knight
Not very original I know, but this is a film that surpassed everyone’s high expectations for it. Where other superhero movies have been comic books focusing on the build up to a final battle, The Dark Knight is a graphic novel brimming with stories and skirmishes that build to a thrilling climax. I’ve watched it a half a dozen times and I’m still not tired of it.
Buy It: DVD | Blu-ray
My Other Favorite Movie of the Year (So Far): WALL-E
Yes Pixar is the most successful film studio around, but WALL-E raised the bar even higher once again. WALL-E is a visual spectacular with a surprisingly deep story. It’s the characters though that make this film so special – it’s hard to awww at the sight of WALL-E and Eve together.
Worst (or Most Disappointing) Movie of the Year: The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
Ok I know that most people didn’t expect this movie to be good, but I thought the first two Mummy films were some of the best popcorn flicks in a while. I hoped the country shift would breathe new life into the film, but instead it was just a way to get away with making the SAME EXACT MOVIE AGAIN! Except it was much, much worse than that. Not satisfied with mining Indiana Jones movies for inspiration, this one literally lifts whole storylines and action sequences from it. Add to the fact that you have Jet Li in the film and your final battle is a repeat is him merely standing behind thousands of undead soldiers. Really? What’s most disappointing was China really was a great creative opportunity for this franchise and some of the visuals were spectacular. Unfortunately the story, script, acting, and directing were asinine.
Honorable Mention: The Spirit. Actually probably a lot worse than The Mummy 3, but I expected this one to be bad.
Fun Sleeper: Let the Right One In
Hard to say its a sleeper because the geek movie sites are all raving about it, but to the general public this Sweedish preteen vampire movie is an unknown. Don’t confuse this with Twilight, the pop culture phenomenon which is apparently about “vegetarian” vampires. Fear not, in this movie the vampire feeds on human blood – a lot. Besides its horror appeal though, there is a very twisted but sweet story about young friendship.
Overhyped: Burn After Reading
I love the Coen Brothers, but this one just seemed weak. Brad Pitt was funny but kind of over the top. Clooney was creapy. John Malkovich – I just couldn’t buy a guy that goofy being a spy. Really, aren’t spies supposed to keep a low profile? And while all the Coens’ films are about stupid criminals, I just couldn’t really find anything likable in any of these characters. I do plan on giving it a second chance some day, but I came out of the theater dissapointed with this one.
Honorable Mention: Frost/Nixon. I liked this but anyone who thinks this is Ron Howard’s best is crazy.
Biggest Surprise: Kung Fu Panda
While Pixar has been going out and creating amazing movies, Dreamworks has been content to cater more to the lower end of the kid crowd with movies built on fart jokes and pop culture references. Even the Shrek franchise has lost a lot of its steam. So I wasn’t expecting much more than a few laughs at Kung Fu Panda. To my surprise, Kung Fu Panda actually had a sweet story and endering characters. And the animation was fantastic. Unlike The Mummy, Kung Fu Panda capitalized on the richness of China’s landscape and culture. If you haven’t had a chance to see this film, you should (and find an HD version if you can).
Movie I loved that nobody else I know liked: Cloverfield
A lot of people did like this movie, but the people I went with were kind of underwhelmed. I have a soft spot for disaster movies though and I think this was a refreshing take on an old concept. For the YouTube generation, carrying around a video camera in the midst of a monster attack seems as rational as running for safety. And keeping the creature’s orgins a relative mystery seems like a smart move (no need for Matthew Broderick trying to explain some nuclear Godzilla). All in all this movie is just a lot of great, geeky fun.
Worst Timur Bekmambetov Movie: Wanted
I was a big fan of Night Watch and enjoyed Day Watch, so when I heard the director was making an American action movie I was excited (though important to note, not excited to hear the 3rd Night Watch movie will be made in America and in English – that’s stupid). I fell asleep the first time I watched Wanted and thought that’s why I didn’t like it. Then I watched it awake and stopped halfway through. What really did me in though was reading about how cool the comic it was based on was and how far from it they strayed.
Disturbing Trend: Fewer Good Indie Movies
I felt like I saw fewer indie movies this year and there were fewer good ones getting released. I was especially disappointed with the year end movies, not even one of which compares with last year’s slate. The upside is that the more commercial, blockbuster films are getting better. Still, I’m hoping that some more cool, obscure films find their way to the cineplexes in 2009.
Honorable Mentions: Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Iron Man, and Rachel Getting Married
Forgetting Sarah Marshall seemed a little more genuine than some of the more recent Apatow inspired flicks. I’m looking forward to Jason Segel reviving the Muppet franchise. Yes Iron Man was Robert Downey, Jr’s film, but I was equally impressed with the smart direction by Jon Favreau. Between this and Elf, he’s one of the more surprising filmmakers out there. And Rachel Getting Married was the queen of the indie films for me this year.
Elligable Films (all the movies I’ve seen from 2008 so far)
21, American Teen, Be Kind Rewind, Bolt, Burn After Reading, City of Men, Cloverfield, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Frost/Nixon, Funny Games, Get Smart, Ghost Town, Gran Torino, Hancock, Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay , Hellboy II, In Burges, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Iron Man, Kung Fu Panda, Let the Right One In, Pineapple Express, Quantum of Solace, Rachel Getting Married, Role Models, Slumdog Millionaire, Snow Angels, Speed Racer, The Bank Job, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Dark Knight, The Duchess, The Happening, The Incredible Hulk, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, The Rocker, The Ruins, The Spirit, The Strangers, The Tale of Despereaux, The Wrestler, Traitor, Tropic Thunder, Vantage Point, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, WALL-E, Wanted
Happy New Year everbody! While 2009 is now underway, thought I would check look back on the year that was 2008:
- Saw There Will Be Blood. Twice. I saw all the other award nominees too.
- I went sledding and hurt my arm.
- Worked on blog networks, NCAA Tournament, Olympics, and redesign.
- Ate my first Chipotle burrito. Also would try other new foods including Thai, Indian, and various seafoods.
- Saw a SportsCenter commercial being filmed, but I did not make it into the final cut.
- Visited Providence, RI, Orlando, FL, Boston, MA, Washington, DC (thanks Chris and Marc), Seattle, WA (thanks Heather), and New York, NY. I also visited Washington Depot, CT, which is now the most popular post on this Web site.
- Austin left ESPN, so did Paul, KC, Andrews, Jeff and Stella
- Roger, Aaron, Dheerja, Andrew, Brian, Greg, Lisa, Nick, Dustin, Will and Jason joined ESPN
- Bought my first Mac. I’m typing this post on it.
- Started using Twitter. I posted 447 tweets in 2008.
- My brother Pat graduated from Penn State and got a job teaching at Penn Wood High School. My brother Chris graduated from high school and went to West Chester University. My brother Mike graduated from middle school and went to high school and my brother Kevin graduated from elementary school and went to the middle school.
- Took my first ever trip to Disney World with my brother Chris. Among my favorite moments was getting to sit down at an animator’s desk and learn to draw Tigger.
- Saw WALL-E twice and The Dark Knight three times.
- Went to the PGA Travelers Championship, a Mets-Phillies game, a Knicks-Mavs game, and the Jimmy V Classic. Did not make it to any Penn State games
- Upgraded to high speed Internet and digital cable.
- Ate 5 bowls of pasta at Olive Garden’s never-ending pasta bowl event. Will never do that again.
- The Phillies won the World Series. I got as far as the Wynnewood train station in my quest to see the victory parade, but no further.
- Bought a Blu-Ray player on Black Friday.
- Visited the Franklin Institute for the first time in probably 10 years.
- Surviving until Jan. 5.
I’ve been thinking of A Muppet Family Christmas a lot this season and I was disappointed to see that the DVD is no longer available for sale. Fortunately I found this descent quality version on YouTube. Enjoy.