Archive for the ‘Extracurricular’ Category

Stuff I Love: The Trailer for ‘The Social Network’

August 29, 2010

It’s the haunting choir rendition of Radiohead’s The Creep, the opening images of people friending each other flashing on the screen, and the carefully selected bites of drama from the film, edited together so crisply, that make the upcoming ‘Facebook movie’ trailer satisfying enough to be it’s own short film.

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Celebrity Death Pool Summer Update

August 19, 2010

My friends Blake, Reeve and I began a celebrity death pool last summer over some adult beverages at the Red House Lounge. At the time, 2009 was waning but some high profile people had yet to meet their maker. Blake picked Walter Cronkite, I picked Patrick Swayze, Reeve went with Robert Byrd, who cost him the contest last year but ended up winning him a point in 2010.

For the 2010 celebrity death pool, we let another pal join in and each picked ten celebs we thought might die within the year. So far Reeve is leading the pack. Let’s review our 2010 pool rules and picks:

STAKES: All you can drink on the losers during MLK holiday weekend, 2011.

RULES: One point per death, and in case of a tie, we will total the distance of the death ages from 100. Greater difference (younger deaths) breaks the tie. Every member of the death pool must tweet the point update after a celebrity dies.

OUR PICKS, in no particular order:

REEVE: Elizabeth Edwards, Dennis Hopper (74), Robert Byrd (92), Ronnie James Dio (67), Olivia DeHavilland, Nelson Mandela, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Bryant Gumbel, Kirk Douglas, J.D. Salinger (91) (FOUR POINTS)

BLAKE: Harry Morgan, Ariel Sharon, Ronnie Biggs, Dick Clark, Zsa Zsa Gabor, The Lockheed Bomber, Chemical Ali (61), Mike Wallace, John Wooden (99), Billy Graham (TWO POINTS)

ELISE: Rue McClanahan (76), Billy Graham, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Kareem Abdul Jabar, Pat Summerall, George H.W. Bush, Bob Lanier, Bum Phillips, Courtney Love, Fidel Castro (ONE POINT)

JUSTIN: Larry King, Shia LeBeouf, James Garner, Jerry Lee Lewis, Artie Lange, Rue McClanahan (76), Roman Polanski, Fidel Castro, Willie Nelson, Burt Reynolds (ONE POINT)

Quick Update

August 2, 2010

So much random blogging, so little time. To get a sense of where my head’s at, two alternative blog locations:

Conversations about Mad Men, a group Tumblr my friends and I are penning together as we journey through the fourth season of one of television’s best shows.

Hu-Stiles: The Blog, where we looked back at the crazy spring weekend we spent in Europe with the people we love the most.

The 3rd of July BBQ Road Trip

July 12, 2010

We celebrated America with giant hunks of brisket and sausage and Dairy Queen.

I rounded up my friends-who-can-eat and we caravaned to Lockhart, TX, home of the best dad gum Texas BBQ you’ll find. (Also the filming location of Waiting for Guffman‘s fictional town, Blaine, Missouri.) Central Texans are split on their favorite barbecue place down in Lockhart. Some prefer Black’s, others like Kreuz Market, I’m partial to Smitty’s. Here’s my friend Brett and I’s suggested order to feed five at Smitty’s (if you are also good eaters):

One lb of fat (brisket)
One lb of lean (brisket)
Four hot rings (sausages)
Two lbs of pork ribs
One lb of pork chops
One brick of cheddar cheese
Two potato salad sides
Two cole slaw sides
Unlimited white bread and brisket

No utensils allowed.

That took good care of us. We had some lean leftover since the fat is so much tastier. Afterward, we hit up the local DQ, which Christopher Guest fans will remember the Parker Posey character working at in Waiting for Guffman. A great way to celebrate America, if you ask us.

The Manliest Bridal Shower Brunch

May 18, 2010

Manly, or the manliest? Male-maid-of-honor/man of honor Sudeep teamed up with my most-together friend, Melissa, to throw a bridal shower brunch at a hot dog place. (The other selections were Taco Cabana and Lambert’s, a barbecue place). As Sudeep once joked – this will appeal to your very masculine side (is there any other?)

Melissa added girly touches, like a lace runner along the table, adorable favors in cloth baggies with pink flowers on them, and Chinese cherry candies. We drank pear mimosas and ate chicken and waffles (leg and thigh – gotta go with the dark meat), shrimp and grits and hash brown casserole, among other selections. My friend Mon-Pon got me a gift that included a Woman’s Day Magazine — but it was “The Man Issue”.

A huge thank you to the brilliant and beautiful people who took part. A delightful brunch before the frenzy of next week gets underway.

The Dutch Dude Deejaying from Austin Mystery

April 2, 2010

This post is a little late cause I just found the video. Alas. We spent New Year’s Eve in Holland with my mom. Part of the experience was feeling like we were in a war zone, because as it turned out, there were no restrictions on setting off fireworks from your home. I was scared for the ducks.

On New Year’s Eve, it appeared there was a massive party on the beach in the port city of Rotterdam that we watched on TV. Seemed pretty standard fare – bad pop acts, drunken people dancing in a crowd, DJ deejaying via satellite from Austin, TX… WHY WAS A DUTCH DJ DEEJAYING NEW YEAR’S EVE FROM AUSTIN, TEXAS?

SXSW Odds and Ends

March 14, 2010

It’s my first year to formally attend SXSW Interactive (previously I only attended the film part of the Film/Interactive/Music fest and then crashed the evening interactive parties to mix with interesting tech people). Spare observations so far:

1.) You can’t walk fifteen feet without someone trying to hand you a.) a Zone energy bar or b.) a Monster energy drink.

2.) Microsoft really can’t catch a break here. People snicker when the Bing promotional folks try to offer free rides or talk up their product, the “It’s All About the Browser” presentation only introduced Internet Explorer 8 to be nice and Stiles won’t even go into the Silverlight “lounge” (one of many sitting areas around the convention center to recharge your phone and chillax) for fear it’s seen as implicit approval of Microsoft.

3.) Why do I keep seeing people wear sunglasses indoors?

4.) There are parties galore, but the sponsored, please-present-your-badge elements are turning bars that are considered fratty or dumpy or otherwise lame ANY OTHER DAY OF THE YEAR into faux-elitist locations. FAIL.

5.) So far the only journalism panel I’ve attended is one called “Media Armageddon: What Happens When the New York Times Dies”, in which The NYTimes’ David Carr played the role of traditional media punching bag to Daily Kos’ Markos Moulitsas’ fist. For a stretch there, they tussled while two other panelists and a moderator sat there. Carr sounded far more reasonable. Both wound up agreeing on most points. But overall, what a sorry, wasted opportunity for a good panel. That moderator did not organize or direct that conversation in any discernibly interesting or productive way.

The Great Morgan Smith Photo Caper

February 24, 2010

A funny thing happened at work yesterday. Our intrepid young staffer Morgan decided to change her Tribune bio photo to something a little different, something a little more grown-up. A little more “adult”, if you will. Problem is, the photo looked both more adult… and too adult. (Cue all the sexy secretary, naughty librarian comments here.)

The Trib photographers started asking me about it at something like six am, and asked for copies to download it. Colleague Ben’s long-lost-friends started crawling out of the woodwork asking if she was available. We brainstormed a few ideas to put Morgan’s photo on promotional t-shirts, under the slogan “You know my URL”. Oh, the ideas kept a-comin’.

Less than 24 hours after she put up the photo, she took it down, citing “workplace harassment”. As one of her secretary photo devotees protested, “She can’t help being attractive! What! What is she going to do, change her face?”

The photo in question, and the not-so-controversial photo, melded together:

Nothing but love, Morgan.

Some Recent Outrages

January 7, 2010

You know how much I love a good outrage. Being outraged is probably one of my favorite things besides profanity and politics. For some reason I am outraged by many things at once right now, which is kind of inconvenient because I can’t concentrate fully on one particular outrage this way. Anyway, a short list:

1.) Another Grey’s Anatomy/Private Practice “crossover event”

Both programs are pretty awful, I know. IMHO, Grey’s peaked at the end of the second season with the whole Denny-LVAD wire drama. It’s been downhill ever since, and I watch for pure pop melodrama pleasure. Stiles banned it from our DVR so I usually have to watch it online.

But the Grey’s spinoff,  Private Practice,  is even worse. Last season, the creator and EP of both shows married the two for a crossover episode where you had to watch PP in order to follow the storyline of Grey’s. It’s an obvious ploy to help the ratings of the lesser program. But also a waste of my time, because if we were interested in the characters and storylines of the other show, WE WOULD WATCH THE OTHER SHOW.

Now, next week, the producers are doing it to us again. Another crossover event. That’s an outrage.

2.) Luke Wilson shilling for AT&T

Here’s the cerebral star of many of my favorite films, including-but-not-limited-to The Royal Tenenbaums. He doesn’t appear to be that interested  in  fame or money, but ended up with both.  Now he appears to be blatantly selling one for the other. AND FOR AT&T, the phone/internet provider that’s locked in a battle to keep the U.S. broadband network from getting upgraded to much faster speeds. This is perhaps more of a shame than an outrage.

3.) Subscription cards in magazines

This one’s just unacceptable. I can’t believe I haven’t written every single blog post about this particular outrage. I can’t open a new magazine without eighteen subscription cards falling out, and then a week later re-open the magazine to find another subscription  card in there. Seriously, what percentage of new subscribers to magazines mail in a little card,  in some instances where postage is required? And in many instances, where another piece of mail must be sent (like a check) in order to activate the subscription?  Since this happens to all of us, I’m sure subscription card litter winds up everywhere. OUTRAGE.

Purgatory

December 26, 2009

The more I travel, the less I expect a smooth trip or a even a mildly pleasant one. It’s almost inevitable that your flight will be delayed (if not canceled), that you get to your destination but your bags will not, or you will be flying back from Amsterdam when a dude in the rear of the plane decides to light his balls on fire in a failed Al Qaeda plot (we think).

So here we are, in Dallas (when we were supposed to be connecting in DC), headed to London (though the destination is Amsterdam), hanging out in the “DFW Comfort Lounge” (I suppose they’re trying to be ironic). Our first attempt at leaving Austin failed. We were re-routed since our aircraft was stuck somewhere in the tundra. Drove home. Drove back to airport to take off on re-routed itinerary. Made it to Dallas. Found out flight to London was delayed a few hours. Consumed some subpar tacos. Considered the “three tequila flight”. Opted for a post-meal fro yo instead. Found out our flight was delayed again. Now sitting in this so-called “lounge”, watching a retrospective on the “We Are the World” concert from a few decades ago.

Chuck Klosterman said something last year at a book signing about how airports are purgatory — an in-between place where everyone’s waiting to go somewhere but at the mercy of higher powers. Couldn’t have said it better.

UPDATE 9:17pm: Just learned both airports in Europe we must stop at (Heathrow and Schipol) are going to be quagmires… heightened security after the pants-on-fire-security-threat. Time to take that tequila flight.