Friday, February 26, 2010

Dead Snow

What's scarier than being attacked by zombies? How about being attacked by zombies while in an isolated cabin in the snowy Norwegian wilderness? How about having to read subtitles throughout the whole ordeal? What if these are Nazi zombies? Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that is the plot of Dead Snow.  In a lot of ways, it's a formulaic slasher flick, but there is just enough originality to make it worth watching. 

It started out with what I thought was a very nice touch, a woman walking through a very serene looking Norse countryside while Grieg's In The Hall Of The Mountain King played in the background.  As the music intensified, you realiz that she is being chased by something, something which catches and kills her as the music climaxes.  That opening scene hooked me (and the trailer features Beethoven's Ode To Joy, also very nice, I enjoy the juxtaposition of beautiful music, beautiful scenery, and terror).  Anyway, from there the movie takes an abrupt turn and cuts to 7 stupid, exceptionally annoying 20 somethings headed up to the afore mentioned cabin in the snowy wilderness.  The classical music stops and the crappy Norwegian heavy metal takes over.  At this point the film seems to stall as you try to stomach about 40 minutes of these morons waiting for them to start getting killed. 

From there, however, the movie really takes off.  There are several nods to other horror movies, specifically the Evil Dead series and Braindead (Dead Alive in the US).  And in this vein, Dead Snow I would categorize as more of a zomedy than a horror film.  There are several laugh out loud moments, highlighted by one of the characters cutting off his arm with a chainsaw (a la Evil Dead II) after being bitten to prevent becoming a zombie himself.  I don't want to give it away, but what followed really caught me off guard.  The final 45 minutes of the film are a fun, bloody romp with body parts flying left and right.  I was pleasantly surprised by how much I ended up enjoying it.  If you can get through the first half, it's well worth your time.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Pass It Along

After spending the last week coughing - one of those deep raspy coughs where you're sure that at any moment a lung will come flying out - I will admit to feeling a little sense of pride in hearing 2 people who sit near me at work coughing today.  I have successfully done my duty and passed along the cold that was given to me by a co-worker.  And don't feel bad for the two new recipients, they work in Surety and are only considered human in the broadests sense of the term.  They are recent additions to the office and I'm actually hoping the one of the guys gets sick enough that he takes a few days off.  He spends about a quarter of his day talking on the phone and is unbelievably loud.  And he sounds exactly like Tom Shane from the Shane Company - I expect him to start telling people he's a direct diamond importer at any moment.  No exaggeration, he actually drowns out the jack hammering which continues to this day.  I swear that has to be coming to an end soon.  But before I stray too far off the original topic, I feel a sense of accomplishment in helping to extend the life of all those cold bacteria for a little longer.  I feel like a philanthropist.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Olympics

As I've watched the Olympics this year I've realized something.  No, not that NBC's coverage sucks, I've known that for years and have lamented the fact that I can't watch on CBC.  No, I've realized that I don't really care about the winter games.  Even with the US getting a record medal haul, I find I'd rather watch something else or do something else.  I've watched a little down hill skiing, some speed skating, and some bobsledding.  Other than that it seems that the majority of televised events I have no interest in or loathe.  I don't care about hockey, cross country skiing, figure skating, or the biathlon.  And I'll be damned if I'm going to watch ice dancing or curling.  The recent Simpsons episode about curling even made me angry.  I think I have just about hit my limit on how many winter games I can watch.  I could watch some more bobsledding and the luge, but after that I think I'm done for the next 4 years.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


With some of my regular tv shows going off the air (Monk, Pushing Daisies, Jericho, Arrested Development) and others getting ridiculous and soap opera-esque to the point of almost being unwatchable (Heroes & Lost and dare I say it *gasp* The Simpsons), I've been auditioning some new shows to add to my regular line up.  At least Lost is going to put itself out of it's misery at the end of this season although the story has gotten so convoluted and supernatural that I really doubt they can tie up even half the loose ends before the series finale.  Guys dying and coming back to life, smoke monsters, time travel, and now two separate time lines simultaneously .... come on. 

About a year ago I started the auditioning process.  Based on good reviews, recommendations, or simple curuosity, I started out with The Office, Big Bang Theory, Primeval (BBC), Torchwood (also BBC), The Family Guy, Two and a Half Men, How I Met Your Mother, and Eureka (I know, I should be ashamed to watch anything on the Sci Fi channel).  Some of them I couldn't get into at all.  The Office I will admit to watching all available episodes on Netflix, but it is so inconsistent that I don't think I'll bother watching new episodes, I'll just wait until I can stream them and watch them a season at a time.  Primeval was surprisingly good the first season, tolerable the second season, then completely fell apart in the third season and I didn't make it through before giving up.  Only Big Bang Theory and Eureka made the cuts that round, and honestly Eureka was flagging last season and I'm not sure it won't fall off the radar too.  BBT though is a clever, funny comedy.  It took a solid half season to get into, but while most comedies seem to be drifting in the direction of low brow humor, abstract situations, and characters doing the stupidest things the writers can imagine (I'm looking at you Simpsons writers), a smart comedy is refreshing.  It's something I haven't seen since Frasier.

A new round of auditions has begun this year.  Community has already fallen by the wayside and I could only make it through half a dozen episodes of 30 Rock.  Chuck seems to be a winner, I guess any show with an awkward guy who becomes a spy and gets a super hot girlfriend way out of his league has a certain appeal.  I've already heard rumors that it is getting the axe too though.  I watched an episode of Better off Ted that I downloaded free from itunes and it has promise although I've already been warned not to get too attached to that show either as it might be going away.  I've seen one episode of Legend of the Seeker and it looks promising, and having a big name like Sam Raimi involved can only be good news.  I'm also 2 episodes into Spartacus:  Blood and Sand on Starz but am skeptical so far. 

I've loaded up my Netflix queue with a bunch of contestants, some of which are undoubtedly already off the air.  I'm halfway through season 1 of Dead Like Me and so far it's not bad, but I think it's already dead.  Others on the docket include:
The Tudors
Six Feet Under
Wonderfalls (I know this one is off the air)
Mad Men
True Blood (sources tell me I won't like this though)
The Unusuals

Of course, at the nebulous date of "mid-2010" one of my favorite short lived shows will be making it's glorious return.  Of course I'm talking about Futurama, but after 3 of the 4 straight to DVD full length movies failed to live up to expectations, I'm a little concerned.  I'm hoping that it's just more suited to the half hour format. 

I still feel like I need a couple more contestants though, so if you have any suggestions, send them in.  Just know that any chick shows like Gray's Anatomy will be immediately dismissed along with any of the various iterations of CSI or anything that takes place in a hospital or court room.  For reference, I haven't abandoned the afore mentioned Heroes, Lost, and Simpsons yet, and do watch Psych, Warehouse 13 (not sure that's still going either), Eureka, and My Name Is Earl (not sure how much that has left in the tank either).  So let me have those suggestions, it's time to revamp my tv line up before I give up and have to take up reading.  *shudder*

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Good Job Everybody

According to a recent British poll, Americans are the most attractive people in the world.  Obviously the pollees have never seen the web site People of Walmart, regardless, I've been doing my part to pick up the slack.  Obviously I can't take all of the credit since the majority of the UK doesn't know who I am and the article mentions various actors and musicians hinting, actually overtly giving credit to Hollywood.  Still, some recognition would be nice. 

Needless to say at this point, I think that the majority of our British fans don't have an entirely accurate view of this country.  If they are basing their votes on celebrities with personal trainers who have had botox and plastic surgery their perspective is a bit skewed.  With the ongoing obesity epidemic gripping our nation I would put us a lot farther down the list. 

But that's not the only surprise on the list (top 20 listed below).  France cracking the top ten tells me that hygiene didn't factor in.  I'm also pretty surprised to see India rated so high.  I'm also surprised to see Sweden as the only Scandinavian representetive, although truth be told I'm not sure whether the Netherlands is considered part of Scandinavia or not.  I am by no means a world traveler so I may not have the best perspective either, but I have been to Denmark and can say that there were a lot of attractive women there.  The other big shock for me is the Czech Republic getting shut out.  A lot of top models are Czech and circumstantial evidence suggests that the nation is crawling with attractive people.  I have also been told that the Ukraine is a bachelor's paradise yet it was unrecognized as well.  And certainly China and Korea have their share of attractive women and belong right up there with Japan.  Brazil and Australia are appropriately recognized, however I would have thought Canada would have ranked higher.  If stereotypes are to be believed, then our northern brethren are more polite versions of Americans without the obesity epidemic.  But at least they made the top 10.  My final point of contention is Mexico.  Apart from a few standouts like Salma Hayek, I have not witnessed a high percentage of attractive Mexicans and would have dropped them from the top 20. 

1. America
2. Brazil
3. Spain
4. Australia
5. Italy
6. Sweden
7. England
8. India
9. France
10. Canada
11. Mexico
12. Portugal
13. Wales
14. Russia
15. Japan
16. Ireland
17. Argentina
18. Netherlands
19. Scotland
20. Germany

Sunday, February 14, 2010

My Nose

No sooner did I publish the last post then I remembered what it was.  I woke up Thursday morning with a sore nose, and not just feeling like I slept face down and had it crooked all night, since Thursday it has continually felt like somebody punched me in the nose.  I did some fighting on Tuesday, but not on Wednesday so it's pretty hard to imagine that I took a shot to the nose on Tuesday night and was oblivious enough that I didn't notice it until Thursday morning.  That more or less leaves me with just the option that I hit myself in the face in the middle of the night or somehow bashed my nose on the headboard or nightstand or something.  I just can't fathom how I could have done something like that without waking myself up.  The only viable option that leaves me with is alien abduction although I've never heard of nasal probes.  According to an episode of Futurama though, some do have an affinity for "human horn" which is used as an aphrodisiac, but I woke up with it in pain, not removed so that seems unlikely.  Plus, when I say 'viable option' I am assuming a Shelvis level of paranoia and conspiracy theories, and truth be told I don't think even he believes in aliens.  He might have a theory about time travelers punching me in the face though.

Getting back on track though, the ailment has been compounded by some sinus congestion.  I don't know if it's related or coincidental, but what I do know is that trying to blow my nose hurts like hell.  I did have 2 sudafed left in my medicine cabinet that I noticed had an expiration date of 1996, and I paused momentarily before deciding it was worth the risk.  As you may have guessed, it didn't kill me, but it only provided temporary relief and now I can't get any more because I don't want to end up on any federal watch lists.  It has made sleeping difficult since laying down increases the sinus pressure and consequently the pain.  There hasn't been any noticeable swelling or discoloration at least.  I am now accepting any and all theories as to what might have happened.  The leading condender is currently sleep walking, which is actually just a hackneyed segue to add this video of a guy named Jorge Huaman playing the Santo & Johnny classic Sleepwalk.  I love this arrangement, Jorge is quite talented.  Plus he's got a very straight nose.  See how I brought it all back around like that?  Pretty impressive if I do say so myself.

Valentine's Tradition

I nearly forgot about a Valentine's Day tradition here in Craw Fu nation.  That tradition is posting a video of a song that seems appropriate for how I'm feeling that particular day.  Past videos have included Love Stinks and She F$%ing Hates Me.  It nearly slipped away from me this year as I was participating in another Valentine's tradition:  sitting in the dark, curled in the fetal position, rocking back and forth while gently sobbing and eating a tub of ice cream.  That's when I realized that this year's video could be none other than Joe Satriani's All Alone. 

It wasn't a clear cut choice though since Joe's song Cryin' also seems relevant and I like it better.  Plus it has a video in HD with better quality audio so I was really torn.  In the end I decided I'd throw 'em both up there.  Seems only fair to Joe.

Anyway, I hope everyone else out there had a good Valentine's Day and a good weekend.  Seems like I had something else I was going to say, but I'm already dreading getting up for work tomorrow so I'm going to call it a night.  If anybody remembers what it was, let me know.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Why I'm A Dog Person

This is why dogs are better than cats.  A Florida family's cat set the house on fire as everyone slept, in a vain attempt to kill all of the occupants and presumably feast on their charred corpses.  That is just speculation since nobody really knows what happens in those evil little cat minds, and it's probably better that way since whatever they are thinking would surely terrify us.  Anyway, this lucky family also owned a hero of a golden retriever.  Bubba the dog foiled the insidious plans of his feline nemesis - running through the house barking as loud as he could to wake up all of his humans.  The family has stated that they believe they would all have died if not for Bubba's intervention. 

The moral of this story couldn't be clearer: 
Cat = Evil
Dog = Man's best friend.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Useless Trivia

I have a buy one, get one free special on trivia today:

The collection of spikes on the end of the tail of dinosaurs like the Stegosaurus is known among scientific circles as the 'Thagomizer' - a term coined not by a paleontologist, but by cartoonist Gary Larson in a 1982 Far Side drawing, where it was explained (by a caveman) that it was named 'after the late Thag Simmons'.

Lieutenant Colonel Jack Churchill held the unusual distinction of being the only British soldier in WWII on record as having killed an enemy soldier with a longbow. 'Mad Jack' Churchill insisted on going into battle armed not only with the medieval bow, but also a claymore sword. After WWII, he got into surfing, and became the first man to ride the River Severn's tidal bore.

Sunday, February 07, 2010


A couple of welcome's are due.  First, welcome to the world Eliana Crawford.  I'm now an uncle to a beautiful, healthy little girl.  She was tired when I met her and slept most of the time.  She only had the energy to briefly crack one eye open and give me the stink eye and then it was right back to sleep.  I'm trying to get a photo up on Facebook, but the mobile upload is giving me problems at the moment.  Hopefully soon.

Next, I would like to say welcome to the US to Burton Cummings of The Guess Who.  According to recent reports, he aced his citizenship test.  I must admit that I don't know enough about the process to know what comes next or how long until he's officially a citizen, but welcome anyway.  Here is, in my opinion, their best song.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Various Miscellany

Just in time for Valentine's Day, the Goodwill has announced a new promotion:  Dump your ex's stuff.  What better way to get into the spirit of the "holiday".  Nothing will make you feel better than knowing that even though your ex hates you, Goodwill still loves you.  Also, if you are in the market for a future ex, you can pick up a wedding ring from their web site.  Nothing says I love you like a ring from the Goodwill with the stench of a failed relationship still on it. 

Today I find myself intrigued by all the news of a Tesla Motors IPO.  Thus far, the company has failed to make any money, and by their own admission are still several years away from profitability, however they appear to be the first company to possibly have the technology to mass produce a somewhat affordable electric car.  Their Model S sedan, which I believe will be available next year, will set you back $50,000.  Out of my price range, but comparable to other luxury sedans on the market.  And unlike other attempted electric vehicles, Tesla's vehicles will feature high performance.  The Model S will accelerate 0-60 in 5.6 seconds, have a top speed of 120 mph, and a range of up to 300 miles on a charge.  Tesla estimates that a charge will cost you $4 in electricity at current rates.  The primary concern for me would be that the battery packs are expected to last 7 years, or 100,000 miles.  I haven't been able to find what they cost, but you can be sure that it isn't cheap.

It remains to be seen whether Tesla can scale up production to become profitable, but they do have some encouraging backing.  Daimler has contracted with them to suppled power trains and batteries for vehicles to be used in Europe, and the company has been given long term loans by both the US Department of Energy and the California Department of Energy in order to develop alternative fuel vehicles.  This is significant since the government denied similar loans to both GM and Chrysler because they are not seen as viable companies.  I see a lot of promise in Tesla and hope that they can help to revive the US auto industry.  I am anxiously awaiting the reception that Wall Street has for the IPO.

I also feel like this is an appropriate time to voice my objection to people who wait until the bus gets to their stop before fishing around in their pockets for the correct fare.  If you are on the bus for the 40 or so minutes it takes to get from downtown to the east side during rush hour and can't find the time to get out your fare so as not to keep a bus full of people waiting for the 2 minutes it takes to count your change, then you sir or madam are rude.  It may be time to implement mob rule to insure that common courtesy is once again common. 

Finally, I have been looking at 30 year fixed mortgages recently in the hopes of procuring financing to buy a condo and have entered some numbers on a few bank web sites.  What I've found from the few I've looked at is that there are exorbitant fees associated with a mortgage.  Bank of America was far and away the leader with more than $8,000 in loan origination fees, points, appraisal fees, and half a page of miscellaneous 'screw you' fees.  But my question at this point is, what should I expect to pay in fees on a loan?  Admittedly I haven't done a great deal of research online, primarily since the information I have found is a little spotty.  Anyway, I would appreciate any informed advice from someone who may have been through the process recently.