Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Email from my gym

Occasionally my gym will send me emails to tell me about special promotions or to announce new classes the gym will be offering. Today I received one of the latter emails. Here is the first sentence of the message:
Like to drop it like it's hot? Show off your best moves right here in the LFF club. Introducing a new group fitness class where you can dance the weight away...SH'BAM.
There's more, but that's really all I wanted to share with you. To sum up, my gym is offering a new dance fitness class; it is called "Sh'Bam"; and the old white person who wrote this email wants to know if I like to drop it like it's hot.

Happy Tuesday!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Monday, August 15, 2011

Best. Trailer. Ever.

I am seriously considering buying a copy of this movie from Amazon.

To celebrate the upcoming election season...

Here are some discussion questions about democracy, brought to you from America the Book by the staff of the Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

Discussion Questions:

1. If you lived in a monarchy, would you rather be the king or a slave? Why or why not?

2. What is the central ideological difference between democracy and cannibalism?

3. You're a fifth-century Greek city-state growing increasingly concerned over repeated Persian incursions into the central Peloponnesian peninsula. How many hoplites can you dispatch to Thermopylae without jeopardizing the triremes commanded by Themistocles for the naval engagement at Artemisium? Show your work.

4. Does the expression "When in Rome, do as the Romans do" apply to all cities, or just Rome?

5. The notion that each individual has worth in society found political expression in the invention of democracy. What's bullshit about this?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Recommendation: Tuna Sub

Today is Friday, which means it's Tuna Sub Day!* At Subway they have daily specials where you get a 6" sub, a bag of chips, and a drink for $3.99. For those of you who don't go to Subway every other day like I do, 6" subs usually cost around $3.50, so that's like paying $.49 for the chips and drink. What a deal!

But I did not mean for this to become a Subway ad. I merely bring it up because the Friday special is, of course, the tuna sub. And it is great. Here's how I make my tuna subs. I suggest you try it this way and let me know what you think.**

Ok, start with honey oat bread. This will provide a delightful sweetness to the sandwich. Plus it has whole grains, I think, so it makes me feel healthy. Add provolone cheese and have it toasted. I'm not eating any cold tuna sandwiches. That's nonsense. For the veggies I add lettuce, onions, and pickles. I used to do green peppers with the lettuce and onions, but I have decided that the pickles are superior. Now, this last bit is important. To make the sandwich spectacular, you mustn't neglect seasoning. Add salt, pepper, and grated parmesan, and then finish off with oil and vinegar to add flavor and a bit of moisture. And that's it. My perfect tuna sub. I urge you to try it, and also feel free to tell me about your favorite subs in the comments section.

Happy Tuna Sub Day, everyone!

*Actually, any day of the week can be TSD. I love tuna subs.
** But only if you like it. I don't want to hear you disparaging my favorite sub. Them's fightin' words.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

My Early Artistic Aspirations

My mother was cleaning out her office recently and found a picture I had drawn as a child. I was likely 6 or 7. And I was possibly deranged.

Note the diagram to indicate teeth clicking. In all my childhood drawings, I wanted to make it very clear what I was trying to portray. Clearly, here, I am portraying an evil, gay, earless dog. Who is clicking his teeth. For some reason.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Recommendation: Settlers of Catan

I've mentioned before that my friends and I play a lot of board games. We are connoisseurs, you might say. We play obscure indie games made by Europeans and guys in basements. That is either very hipster or extremely nerdy. Probably the latter. But one game among the many has won a special place in our hearts. It is the game to which we always return when the others have ceased to entertain. It is one game to rule them all. It is THE SETTLERS OF CATAN!!

Imagine that last sentence as if it were said by this guy from Futurama. If you don't understand the reference, get on Netflix and watch the first episode. I command it!

Settlers, as we in the biz call it, is a German board game first published in 1995. The Wikipedia article about the game actually refers to it as a "German-style board game," which I had to further investigate, as I didn't realize that was a particular class of board game. Here's what that means:
German-style board games are a broad class of tabletop games that generally have simple rules, short to medium playing times, indirect player interaction and attractive physical components. The games emphasize strategy, play down luck and conflict, lean towards economic rather than military themes, and usually keep all the players in the game until it ends. German-style games are sometimes contrasted with American-style games, which generally involve more luck, conflict, and drama.
That definition applies pretty well to how Settlers works. Here's the idea: the board is made of hexagonal pieces that can be rearranged in myriad ways to form the "island of Catan."

Your basic board looks like this:

Here's what it looks like up close.

Basically, the object of the game is to gather resources and then use those resources to build settlements and cities, which earn you victory points. The first player to ten victory points wins. I could go into detail about the gameplay (how you get resources, how you build stuff), but I don't want to risk losing you. Suffice to say, despite the simplicity of the basic concept, this game always delights and amuses me. Because the board can be changed around in so many ways, it's always a slightly different game. And the game designers have made several expansions that change the gameplay just enough to add a little variety.

The best part of Settlers is that at any time you can try to trade resources with your fellow players. It forces you to work on your wheeling-and-dealing skills and adds dimension to the game, because although you are competing for dominance, many times you need something from your opponents in order to succeed.

In conclusion and in summary, Settlers of Catan is an awesome board game. But don't take my word for it. Find someone who owns it (or buy it yourself) and give it a try. You might not be convinced now, but after a couple games, I think you'll be a convert.