Archive for March, 2013

March 22, 2013

Your Friday Jam

Happy greatest Friday of the year!  March Madness has taken over and nobody is getting anything done at the office today, except for very long, booze infused lunches…

Here is your Friday Jam to enjoy.  I’m going in a different direction this weekend from the songs I’ve been posting recently, but this band is truly my favorite.  And if you’ve never seen The Departed in concert (or their predecessor Cross Canadian Ragweed) you haven’t lived.  Seriously check them out – they love their fans.

 

March 15, 2013

Your Friday Jam

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day this Sunday, and because the Sunday holiday means that we really get a full weekend of celebrating this great holiday, here is your Friday Jam.

If you’re sick of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, stop complaining and go buy a good taste in music, it’s not that expensive.

If I have time, I’ll be back sometime this weekend to break down tomorrow night’s UFC 158, featuring the epic and long-awaited clash between GSP and Diaz.

March 8, 2013

Your Friday Jam(s)

Let’s get the weekend kicked off with two hip hop tracks, courtesy of D-WHY, that sample Kanye (A God Amongst Men) and Mumford & Sons (The Rave).

Sick stuff – enjoy.

March 6, 2013

Bus to Dulles airport

Choiloi and Zanahoria have left on a trip abroad, and they flew out from IAD.  Apparently there is a bus that exists that runs from L’Enfant Plaza to Dulles airport – the 5A bus.  It costs $6.  More info here

Luckily, we were able to drive them to the airport because of our rain day off of work.

March 6, 2013

Face the Facts – Episode 5: The Amazing Spandaman and Adventures with Waffles.

Face the Facts

Welcome to another edition of FTF, my scrumtrulescent  blog on the wonderful and irrelevant. I’m going on a trip so there won’t be another FTF for a few weeks. I’ll be sure to fill you in on the the goodies from our adventures overseas as soon as I get back State-side. In the rare case that I don’t make it back, I wanted to include my will in this FTF. So here goes:

To my brother Lam, I give you all of my videogame equipment and the board game Cranium (to get smarter). To my brother Binh, I give you my headphones and protein shaker (to get stronger). To my flat-mate Klar, I give you my Bowflex (to get swole-er). To Cthulhu, you can have any extra toilet cleaning supplies I have in my bathroom (because go screw yourself evil Cthulhu). To my wonderful wife, I give you everything else. Oh yeah, and to my buddy Lt. Dan, I give you my brain pod and the remaining balance of my graduate school debt.

Fact – There really is no such thing as a “Belgium Waffle.” It was simple a marketing tactic to sell the “Brussels Waffle”to Americans who were bad at geography. What many mistakenly call a Belgium Waffle is simply a Brussels waffle made with American waffle ingredients 

So Zanahoria told me the other day that we had some ground beef and potatoes that we needed to use up before our trip. We decided to make waffles out of them. This is what happened:

1. We busted out the Mouli, a vintage French grater we have courtesy of Mummo.

 

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2. Then we went SHREDDER on those potatoes and seasoned it with a touch of salt and pepper.

 

 

3. After that, Zanahoria seasoned the meat with an assortment of delicious spices.

 

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4. We mashed it all together an balled them up.

 

 

5. Next we heated the waffle maker and put the ingredients in.

 

 

6. Viola! I present to you your meat and potatoes… in waffle form.

 

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So they were fairly easy to make and were quite tasty.We are  now thinking of hosting a “you bring it and we will waffle it” party. Think of the possibilities! Brownie waffles, Cookie Waffles, Cheese Waffles… we could even combine Chicken and Waffles and make Chicken Waffles! Mind Blown!

Fact – The resignation letter that Jarvis, Tony Stark’s butler, wrote in Iron Man No. 127 was actually artist Dave Cockrum’s real life resignation letter to Marvel. The only editing done  to the letter was changing “Marvel” to “Avengers.”

So Klar, Zanahoria, and I went out to sushi this past weekend. While we were waiting for our food I busted out some doodles. Zanahoria and Klar were both floored by the magnificence of my art work. Klar said he had never witnessed such grace in the form of a sketch. Zanahoria asked me if my hands had been blessed by the heavens. They wanted to know what inspired me to create such a wonderful work of art.

I told them what they were seeing was a character I had created during my childhood. His name was Spandaman, the awesomely radioactive sponge. They asked “did he have a sidekick?” Well, it was probably whoever my best friend was as a kid… so no. Not even an imaginary one? Well my imagination kind of sucked (superhero sponge?!) so that’s a negatron. Nonetheless, they just couldn’t get over how cool Spandaman looked. Klar said that I should turn it into a web comic serial on FTF. Zanahoria said that if Klar said it was a good idea than at least one person thought it was a good idea. She probably had more to say but sushi had just arrived.

So exciting news time! From now on FTF will be bringing you the web comic series “The Awesome Adventures of Spandaman!” FTF is proud to present to you…

The Awesome Adventures of Spandaman – No. 1 – The Obligatory Origin Story

*best to play this while viewing the comic 

Millions of years ago, an astroid containing radioactive fragments crashed into Earth. The astroid plunged deep into the Pacific Ocean, exploding on the ocean floor and causing massive tsunamis and earthquakes all around the planet. All of the surrounding wildlife perished from the initial blast except for single sea sponge. The radioactive elements had animated the sea sponge, giving it both incredible intelligence and lithe limbs!

 

My Note, page 16

 

The sponge walked over to a wrangled mess of kelp and seaweed and fashioned a cloak. He then made a utility belt out of bits of coral and shell. Parts of the astroid had forged together upon impact and created the coolest pair of sunglasses, which the sponge appropriated to mask the fact that he did not, in fact, have eyes. From then on the world would know that unassuming sponge as SPANDAMAN!

Tune in to future installments of FTF for the next Awesome Adventures of Spandaman… now with actual adventures!

Fact – George St. Piere’s chest tattoo is Kanji for “jujutsu.”

So unfortunately I’ll still be out of the country when the welterweight extravaganza (aka UFC 158) occurs. The co-main event of this card is about as good as it gets with GSP going against rival Nick Diaz and my boy Jonhy Hendricks going against Carlos Condit. I won’t go into to much detail as I am sure Klar will have a write-up of some sort as the match rolls around, but I will leave you with this promo:

GSP said in an interview that the tattoo on his chest means that there are two sides of him, and that he can be very rude and very nice. He finished by saying “I like to be rude when I fight.” The term jujutsu translated means “the gentle art.” Does this imply that the non-tatted side of his chest is the rude ying to his tatted side’s yang? Something tells me he won’t be “inspired” by his tattoo on March 16.

Fact – People that read VividKaret.com are above average.

Tune in to the next Face The Facts where FTF will finally look at the future of gaming. Be sure to check all the new fresh blogs up on VividKaret.com. Follow VivdKaret on twitter @VividKaret #quadrangleofpower and follow Face The Facts @facethefacts22 #thingsthatareawesome.

 

March 3, 2013

My first time to prison

It was my first time in a prison. I had left my phone at the hotel and my driver’s license at the front desk.  (This left me feeling very helpless.)  We were walking down the hall, unsure of what it would be like.

And then I heard yelling… As we got closer, it got louder and there were flashing lights, and we realized that the yelling was cheering.  When we arrived at the door, the prisoners had formed a tunnel with their arms and we all ran through.  On the other side, they gave us big smiles and handshakes, welcoming us.  It was not what I expected.

We were visiting the Cleveland Correctional Center near Houston, Texas, where an initiative called the Prison Entrepreneurship Program operates.

PEP

This holistic program boasts that its admissions process is more competitive than Harvard’s, in terms of number of applications and acceptances.  The goal of the program is to help people help themselves, so the prisoners have to demonstrate their willingness to work and take initiative even to apply by studying for and getting a decent grade on a standardized test.

Those selected will get out of prison in three years or less, and must have a GED.  Their crimes can range from drugs to theft to murder, but PEP does not accept those who have been sexual predators. They must not be a member of a gang, have strong work ethic, and be willing to change.

One prisoner described his arrival at Cleveland Correctional Center.  He was shocked by the difference in culture.  The other prisoners tried to give him hugs, they welcomed him, and he was a bit taken aback. PEP intentionally creates this culture of joy and fun that is different from the regular prison culture.  They even come up with “sweet names” for each person involved, which add humor and fun, and take away some of the “tough guy” mentality.

PEP’s core program involves a “mini-MBA,” where prisoners gain business skills, create their own business plan for a business they can start after leaving prison, and get mentored by volunteers who are top executives.  It’s a lot of work, and it starts with a tough analysis of one’s past life and character.  PEP involves a spiritual change, where these men realize that they can do better and that they are worth it. They learn the ten core principles behind PEP, which include integrity, accountability, and fun.

On the day we visited, they had just finished putting a philanthropic aspect into their business plans.  One prisoner told me that he wanted to start a tire company in Dallas, and then become involved with an organization that helps poor kids get toys.  He also wanted to give to the cancer society because his family had been affected by cancer.

The program has given these men hope.  One man who spoke to the group had been in foster homes and was sexually molested as a child.  He had been involved with drugs, but had finally made a life for himself with honest work, a wife, and child.  But when his wife left him, he was devastated, and had a downward spiral back into the drug world.  Through PEP, he was given hope, and realized that his life was worth something.  He looks forward to getting back on his feet.

We also heard from a graduate of the previous PEP class, who plans to open a shoe shining business when he is released.  He pitched his business plan to us as if we were potential investors.  Each person who spoke, whether it was a prisoner, a staff member, or a PEP volunteer, received a standing ovation and cheering from all the men.

Several PEP graduates already have thriving businesses.  We heard from one graduate, James Cornish, who started a successful business hauling waste away from construction sites – Cornish Trucking.  His family had been involved in the trucking business, and he was excited to follow in their footsteps. People like him who are successful give hope to those who are currently in the program, and make them realize that this is really something possible for them.

When a prisoner completes the 6-month mini-MBA, they have a graduation ceremony, where they receive a certificate of completion, as well as a certificate from Baylor University.  Baylor was impressed with the rigor of the PEP curriculum, which includes college level material and projects, as well as Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment.  Many of the prisoners have never appeared in a cap and gown before.  PEP highly encourages family members to attend this ceremony.  For some, it is the first time they see their child.

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Photo from PEP’s facebook

Upon release from prison, PEP encourages its graduates to live in its transitional housing to help him avoid falling back into his old ways. PEP also offers a business incubator with access to Quickbooks and the Internet, as well as access to continued mentorship.  In the future, the organization plans to broaden its support for its graduates and their businesses.

Having read their website and annual report, some aspects of what I saw did not surprise me. But one thing that impressed me was the sheer enthusiasm of the participants – it was contagious, and soon they had us all clapping, cheering, and even dancing.

I was also impressed with their eagerness to share their experiences.  It was almost as if they had been paid off by the PEP’s development guy. But no, they were genuinely sharing how the program had changed their lives, and how they were excited not only to have the skills to start their business, but to have achieved a character transformation with the support of their brothers and PEP team, and to contribute to the community in a positive way.

Finally, I was impressed by the central focus on character and spiritual transformation.  They call it “Cleveland Cardiac Center” instead of “Cleveland Correctional Center,” because the prisoners focus on changing from the inside out.

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With a PEP grad who now works for the program

March 1, 2013

My new bike

So Vivid Karet has a new member of the family, so to speak:

honda bike

I figure if I’m going to be driving around all the time, I may as well have fun on the way.

Goal #1: Master changing lanes without getting killed.

Goal #2: Master my Nazi-escaping, fence-jumping skills.

Goal #3: Become a pro:

March 1, 2013

Face the Facts – Episode 4: Make Him Feel The Pain!

Face The Facts

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Welcome to another addition of FTF, my bro-dacious blog on the wonderful and irrelevant. So it has been awhile, and I am sure many of you are wondering how things are going in La Casa de Vivid. Things are going splendidly. I have been married over a year now to the beautiful Zanahoria, and while I don’t show it enough, I love her very much and am so happy. I am constantly amazed by her and I am thoroughly humbled at the thought of how much patience she must possess to deal with me.

Living in DC has been a blast. I find myself thinking of this city as home now. When we leave this will have been a very special and memorable stop in our lives. My flatmate and Chtulhu have done an excellent job completing the quadrangle of power (TMed by Zanahoria). They hold a very unique place in the hearts of my wife and I. As I have started to adopt this city as my new home, I too have started to view my flat-mate and his rice-rocket-racing-demon-troll of a wife, as family.  They are about as kind and respectful as flatmates get and they get down 90’s style just about as well as anybody short of…

Fact- The brain, which serves as the interpreter of pain for the body’s pain sensitive nerve tissues, itself cannot experience the pain as it is the only part of the body without these nerves. 

The “feel the pain” is an homage to my awesome (and sometimes oddly sadistic) dad. A few years ago when I was in law school in Florida, my family came down to visit during the holidays. Naturally (as people tend to do in Florida) we went to the beach where my brothers and Zanahoria decided to bury me in the sand. Before long I was basically entombed in the sand with only my head free. It was all fun and games until my dad walked over, balled a large clump of wet sand, picked it up, and proceeded to drop it with gravitational might… on my privates. As he did this, he yelled out “make him feel the pain!” He couldn’t stop chuckling after that, he was practically  giddy with evil. So my dad can bring the pain.

As they say, like father-in-law like daughter-in-law. So everyone knows my wife is a super ninja warrior princess. She has  a battle cry like Xena and her approach to fighting is Lawless. A while back, inspired by my viewing of the movie Warrior (I have a review of the movie further down in the blog), I decided I needed to teach my wife a little mma in case some one was stupid enough to mug her. We do live in the city, and in the city one faces inner city pressure. So I gave her some boxing gloves and I put on mitts to teach her some basic punches. She started punching me and not the mitts.

After recovering from the kidney shots, I told her she should take it easy and just try and hit the mits. She scoffed at me and replied that if she was going to learn to fight she might as well learn to hit some one instead of giving them really accurate “fist bumps.” So I decided to switch gears and offered to teach her some jiujitsu. She was having none of it, she wanted to drop some Z-Bombs. I told her that she needed a foundation before she threw haymakers. She said fine, “teach me the basics and I’ll fill in the bleeders.” Yeah… she said that. So if someone ever decides to attack my wife, you are going to end up like this guy:

 

Filling in the bleeders

Filling in the bleeders

 

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Zanahoria happened, bro

 

Fact – Tom Hardy actually weighed less in The Dark Knight Rises as Bane than he was as Tommy in Warrior (movie review #spoilers)

First of all, I nominate this movie for guy’s night. Yeah, I like it that much. The movie is about two brothers, one is a marine and the other brother is a science teacher, dealing with their emotions through mma. They train to compete in a grand prix style tournament that features the best mma fighters in the world. So naturally these two guys get in, because there are only like a handful of fighters in the entire freaking world. I mean, this is a world that references the UFC and Strikeforce! Was George St. Piere and Chael Sonnen just on vacation? Was Jon Jones ducking another fight? Where was Anthony Johnson? Surely he has a lot of free time after being dismissed from the UFC. Wait… he was in the movie.

Anyways, as one would expect from an M Night Shyamalan movie, there is a twist (spoiler alert) and the brothers meet up in the finals. Except that that really isn’t a twist and I’m pretty sure the trailers all show the brothers touching gloves while the commentator says “you won’t believe this… but the men fighting in the finals are brothers!” Twist! The announcer isn’t talking about siblings; he was just stunned that two black guys made it to the finals when only one black guy had entered the tournament (Anthony Johnson). Oh, and the movie was awesome and not in 3d, so yeah it was obviously not a Shyamalan movie.

 

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Review: This was a solid film that for better or worse, drew comparisons to Rocky. One of the greatest disservices to future movie watchers is how much of a caricature Rocky has become in today’s culture. The six sequels, the cartoonish portrayal of the rival boxers, the six pack Sly hopped up on HGH, and the inclusion of 80’s music later on in the series has led to a self over-saturation, causing many to stick Rocky in the notorious “fun” guy movie genre.  Guys, it wasn’t a great film because of the egg drinking and the over the top training montages, that was only 99%.

At the core of the OG Rocky was the very essence of the American dream. Here was a guy, down on his luck, and all he had was the love of a woman, his faith in God, and his ability to work harder than the next guy. His success encapsulated everything a hard working American believed in, that in this country, anyone has the potential to be great; you just need faith and a can-do spirit. That classic and iconic movie, the movie that won best picture, is the caliber of film I believe more closely resembles Warrior.

Warrior

The two protagonist in Warrior are estranged brothers. Tommy is an intense ex-marine bad-ass and Brendan is a good-natured but down-on-his-luck science teacher. Brendan also happens to have had a brief career in the UFC. Both are equally appealing to the audience due to the solid performances put in by the actors. Each has his own reason’s for fighting, and the movie does a good job of balancing the characters and making it hard to root for one over the other.

The film’s first two acts do a good enough job of filling in the characters back stories while moving the story forward, though there may be some cliché moments involved in these acts including it’s very own training montage. The last act, which centers around the big Sparta tournament, may be some of the most adrenaline pumping fun I have had at the movies. It was a rolling crescendo of violence; a brutally realistic representation of mixed martial arts fighting.

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This wasn’t just a movie that reminded us of how hard it is sometimes to make it day in and day out with so much uncertainty in the world,  this was a movie that took you through the hardship and let you celebrate in the triumph. I’m not saying this was a movie that got me out of my seats cheering, but that is because I have the common decency not to stand up and block the view of the person behind me.  The movie served as a communal cathartic release for an audience that most likely empathized with the hardship of a tough economy and the underdog mentality that comes with it. Many relate to the pain that grudges can cause, not just to the person but their family. To that end, there is a mix of appreciation and recoil at how powerfully this movie captures the struggles of the human experience.

I went to an undergraduate university that had a great books program. I had a professor, Dr. Dougherty, that would say that many other schools questioned why we read the same old classics over and over. He posited that we do it because there is something there that makes it a classic, a message or a lesson that is timeless and is as important and relevant today as it was back then. So there may be a few complaints about this movie rehashing some of the same “redemption” movie tropes and sport clichés . You may feel that way while you watch it; but when it is over, you may be thinking you have just watched a classic.

5 out of 5 Vivid Karets:

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Fact – Tom Hardy’s fight scenes were generally short because of his limited knowledge of mma.

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Fact – They were originally planning to CGI Bane’s physique, but decided it would be more realistic if he looked strong but not bodybuilder strong. Criminal masterminds plotting terrorist attacks have limited time to lift and plan their diet.

Fact – Dennis Rodman didn’t play a second of high school basketball, and was only 5’11” when he graduated.  He grew eight more inches by the time he was twenty, at which point he quit his job as a janitor at the DFW airport to play basketball at Cooke County Junior College.

So the NBA trade deadline past with very little movement. Players that were rumored to be on the move (Josh Smith/Al Jefferson/Marcin Gortat) stayed put. The teams that were suppose to be active (Jazz/Hawks/Nets) didn’t do anything. The Bucks acquired another short shooter in JJ Reddick, and the Suns united twin brothers Markeiff Morris and Marcus Morris. BTW, Zanahoria pointed out that if Markeiff ever stinks in a game you can always say “Markieff, more like Marqueef!” (she’s so funny).

The biggest move at the dead line involved my Houston Rockets trading Patrick Patterson, Cole Aldrich, and Tony Douglass for Thomas Robinson, Francisco Garcia and Tyler Honeycutt. Here is what the sport’s media had to say about the trade:

What do you think of Houston fleecing Sacramento for Thomas Robinson? Why do teams continue to trade with Dork Elvis? Everyone, STOP TRADING WITH DORK ELVIS!!!!! -Bill Simmons *Dork Elvis refers to Rockets GM Daryl Morey’s

That was a shocker. The highest-value player here is obviously Robinson. – Zack Lowe

Rockets definitely win this trade, Robinson helps their rebounding and defense now. – David Aldridge

So yeah it was nice trade for the Rockets. It gives the team more financial flexibility moving forward. Patrick Patterson was on a rookie contract with his option coming up (he has earned a bigger payday) and Thomas Robinson still has up to 5 years on a rookie salary. The rookie salary is the most valuable commodity on an NBA team. This is because it is fixed salary based on the CBA, not a percentage of the cap based on the free market.

Because basketball is a young man’s game, many skilled rookies can come in and contribute like a veteran by their 2nd and 3rd year. That sort of production could warrant a salary three times as much once the rookie contract ends. Now the Rockets can sign a max player, have money for extra depth, and they have another draft pick. Watch the Rockets make a hard run for Dwight Howard during the summer. While they didn’t improve their chances at a playoff push this season, they have a very bright future.

Speaking of the Rockets, my buddy Klar hooked me up with tickets to go see the Rockets play the Wizards last weekend. This was double the awesome because I get to watch the Rockets and I get a chance at personal redemption. What do I mean by redemption? Well a year ago, we went to a Knicks/Wizards game pre-Linsanity. I may have been the only person in the building that knew who Jeremy Lin was. When he left the court to walk back to the locker room I stood at the railing to say hello and get a high five. IGNORED!!! Like flat out “I won’t even acknowledge your existence” ignored. I went to a GSP dark place in my head after that. Fast forward a year later and I finally get a chance to totally redeem myself. I will not be ignored:

Oh wellos…there is always next year. So he was probably just afraid of making his bestie Channy P jealous, right? Channy P gives a very interesting handshake BTW.

Fact – Research shows guys with best friends live longer

To all the bros out there and their bromantic endeavors, I present to you the second best bromance (behind UD besties 2008) Jeremy Lin and Chandler Parson:

Fact – Reading VividKaret.com blogs makes you a cooler person

Tune in to the next Face The Facts where FTF will look at the future of gaming. Be sure to check all the new fresh blogs up on VividKaret.com. Follow VivdKaret on twitter @VividKaret #quadrangleofpower and follow Face The Facts @facethefacts22 #thingsthatareawesome. Quick shout out to the guys that are having a bachelor party at Casa de Vivid. Tonight will be fun but it is nothing compared to finding the one you love and spending the rest of your life with them. Truly, congratulations!

Peace Outside

March 1, 2013

Your Friday Jam

Here’s your jam for the weekend.  Alex Jordahl is a young 18 year old MC with some serious skills (and nice beats).  “It’s On” works at the gym or just chilling – it’s just all around good music.