Tuesday, November 27, 2007

America! ____ Yeah!

As I continue to bask in the glory of Man Vs. Wild returning for a second season (even though I have to catch up on the episodes), another television phenomenon has hit my radar. It was brought to my attention on Sunday night, as I watched the Eagles put on a classic performance against the Patriots. In typical Philadelphia fashion, they made it a nail-biter until the very end, and lost (Have I mentioned how lucky I am to be a Philly fan?) I suppose I should be happy that they proved everyone wrong, eliminated the hype of the Patriots being favored by 25 points, and played well with a backup QB. Well, I'm greedy -- I wanted the glory of winning!!

Anyway, the advertisement I saw was for an updated edition of the classic "American Gladiators." If you remember this old classic, you know how awesome it was. A competition-heavy show, American Gladiators picked contestants to challenge their strength, endurance, and stamina in a series of events against a crew of meatheads that appeared to have bathed in steroids. One of my favorite events was a battle zone, where one of the gladiators manned a giant gun that shot tennis balls at excessive speeds. The contestants tried to avoid those tennis balls as they ran between stations, using different weapons in attempts to hit a target above the gladiator. These "gladiators" had great names like Gemini, Zap, Laser, Nitro, and Turbo. Personally, looking back, my favorite was Malibu, a Cali-surfer type who was dumb as a rock and almost always got beaten by the contestants. How can you beat interviews like this one...

I didn't know stoner-surfer personas could also be meatheads. Malibu eliminated those boundaries.

I'm hoping this revival will not be as horrible as most revivals are (except for Creedence Clearwater Revival of course). The obstacle is that, although I really enjoyed the show when it was airing, it's even better now because in retrospect, it's classic cheesy 90's material. The new one will try to put a new millenium twist on the concept, but hopefully it will be worth viewing.

If not, I'll fall back on watching episodes online of the Japanese show Ninja Warrior. More on that later...

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Results are In...

Well, I'm back in the Lehigh Valley and now have Internet access. We spent Thanksgiving and the weekend back in Voorhees, NJ, which was a great, relaxing time. However, since we moved from there, we no longer have Internet access. Therefore, I was unable to post the results of the Thanksgiving morning 5K...well wait no longer. Excuse me if my modesty fails at any time during this blog post.


Ok, that's an extreme exaggeration. But I did win the race. Here are the results:

  1. Kevin - just under 25:00
  2. Pat - about 26:30
  3. Dan - about 30 seconds before my Dad
  4. Dad

From Left to Right (or from Winner to Losers): Me, Pat, Dan, and my Dad

Good job everyone (especially me). Pat claims that, had he been running consistently, rather than solely focusing his year-long efforts on running the course 2 days prior to the race, he would beat all of us. We'll see if he actually will run more in the next year. As for Dan, I'd bet good money that he'll be in better shape next year (oh, how the mighty have fallen).

Thanksgiving dinner was delicious, as always. Thanks to Gail, I distributed a Thanksgiving trivia quiz for everyone. My mother blew everyone away with 9/14 correct answers (it was a tough quiz...that's a good score!) FYI, wild turkeys can fly up to 50 mph.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

It's the Final Countdown

By the way, you ever see that show, The Singing Bee? The band leader announces the final round singing, "It's the final countdownnnn!!"...and he's awesome.

Anyway, it is the final countdown...24 hours until the Thanksgiving 5K race and I'm getting butterflies already (or is that just the coffee sitting in my empty stomach?) I've definitely been working out more lately than at this time last year (last year I did a lot of 12 oz. curls); however, I never have and never will be a good long distance runner (some of you may be thinking, "well, 5K isn't really long distance"...well it is for me so BACK OFF!) I'm a little worried about my father's fitness level right now. He ran a 5K while he was in Hawaii last week and referred to it as "the final step in his training phase." He has phases!!

I think my problem is mostly mental. I get bored of running after a while. My iPod keeps me going sometimes; in the homestretch last year, I kept playing the beginning of the song by Avenged Sevenfold..."Bat Country." I think the song and group are ridiculous but he does bellow out a pretty cool progressive howl in the beginning of the song. Tonight, I'll have to put together a new playlist...anyone have suggestions?

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Back to the Hostels...

So as mentioned before, I was going to write about some of my hostel experiences. My first stay at a hostel was with my friend Bill who was studying abroad with me in Ireland. We were living in Galway (west side of Ireland) and decided to check out Dublin and stay there for a couple of nights (east side of Ireland). I had booked the hostel in advance...at where else? "The Brewery Hostel," immediately next to the Guinness Brewery.

We were a little bit hesitant to try out the whole "sleep in a room with a bunch of foreign strangers" thing, but it was cheap. We checked in, got our bed assignments, and went up to our room. Now...I don't know if anyone else has ever experienced this when entering their room at a Marriott or even a HoJo, but we walked in and saw a guy in his skimpies doing yoga in the middle of the room. To add to the awkwardness of the situation, he met us with a look that said "I hate you" as we unsuccessfully attempted to greet him with smiles and handshakes. I reluctantly left my bag in the room with the mean underwear man and proceeded to drink many pints in the streets of Dublin.

Other hostels that I stayed at, whether it was with my friend Bill or just me flying solo, were really not all that bad. I'm a deep sleeper, so you'd have to be pretty damn loud to wake me up with snoring or drunken stumbling, and people probably hated me for doing just that. One very large, loud, severely drunk group of people in a hostel in Scotland woke me up, but that was because they thought it was hilarious to take pictures of everyone that was sleeping in the room (funny in retrospect...frightening to wake up to). I did meet a lot of cool people in the hostels though, and thankfully never had anything stolen. Amsterdam, for one, was appropriately the most laidback hostel experience.

Ironically, however, the worst hostel experience was on another trip in Dublin. This entire weekend ended up being the weekend from Hell (my bag was stolen in Scotland with passport/camera), but it started off with me nervously looking at my watch constantly as I sat on a bus in traffic, traveling from Galway to Dublin, from where I was to fly to Glasgow, Scotland. The traffic made me late for the flight, so I had to reschedule for the next night and stay in a hostel in Dublin. I decided that with the complications that I would stay in the cheapest hostel in Dublin (I think it was about 10 euros a night...pretty damn cheap).

I fell asleep fine that night, but eventually kept getting woken up by someone coming in and out of the room. It seems he felt it was necessary to talk to himself as he loudly entered and exited the room multiple times ("ok...crazy person Kev...shake it off and go back to sleep") I fell back asleep but eventually awoke to someone sleeping in the top bunk across from me (the crazy guy) who did not think that sliding an object against the metal railing of the bed back and forth was rude. I suppose that he sensed I was looking at him because he held out the object toward me, which I found out was a lighter because he lit it as I quickly closed my eyes and pretended I was still asleep. My heart pounded as he immediately got out of the bed (which I was convinced was so that he could light my mattress on fire) but he left the room. I suppose he felt bad about his rude behavior overnight and decided to give a wake-up call to all 10 of the strangers in the room...except he woke up everyone at 8 am, yelling, "it's 10 AM! check out in an hour!"

Needless to say, I did not come across any underground businesses that trapped hostel-goers and sold them to wealthy people to murder. But then again, I never did travel to eastern Europe...

P.S. "My webshots" link on the left side has some pictures from Europe.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Horror Movies

So I watched the movie Hostel II the other night, and as a lover of horror movies (both cheesy and scary ones), I thought it was very well done. By 'well done,' I mean successfully bizarre and f*#$ed up. I'll approve of a horror movie when I get a chill on the back of my neck at a particular scene. Hostel II did that to me during one of the kill scenes (I'll refrain from describing it). Other horror movie scenes that do that to me include the part in the original Psycho (yes, the original...not the remake with Vince Vaughn), when Bates (as his mother) walks from the bedroom to the top of the stairs to stab the detective. There's just something about the angle in that scene (looking down from the ceiling) that makes it creepier.

Another scene that does that to me comes from a movie that is more or less hated by pretty much everyone who saw it, except me. Yes...The Blair Witch Project. There is a scene when they wake up in their tent because they start hearing weird noises. These noises start to get louder and creepier until their tent starts shaking. I thought it was creepy because I've been camping a lot and when you're out there all alone, weird noises can make you want to change your underwear.

Also, they never reveal what's making the noises...they only show the girl screaming obscenities and running. I think a lot of movies with a mysterious creature/ghost element become less scary when you see how cheesy the creature/ghost actually looks. The movie intentionally refrains from showing the actual "Blair Witch." That's why I liked the movie (and probably why everyone else hated it), because it keeps your imagination running after the film is over.

Anyway, I was going to relate my viewing of Hostel II to my actual experiences in hostels but I got off track...I'll save that for another post...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Man Vs. Wild Returns!

Watching Sportscenter this morning, I perked up when a commercial came on with the one and only voice of Bear Grylls, the wild outdoorsman and star of show Man Vs. Wild. Apparently a new season of the show is beginning tomorrow night on the Discovery Channel. It's unfortunate that the show will be airing on Friday nights but there will of course be reruns at more convenient times.

If you have not seen this television program, tune in. A madman named Bear Grylls purposely gets dropped off in the middle of various outdoor areas (with only a bottle of water, a flint, and a knife), and walks viewers through the steps in order to find yourself to safety. It could save your life the next time you get stranded in a rainforest, desert, glacier, volcano, etc. (basically, day-to-day situations). Ok, so maybe you will never need to know that urinating on your tee-shirt and wrapping it around your head will cool you down when lost in the Mojave Desert. However, it is quite entertaining to watch a guy actually do it on TV.

You may ask, "Who is filming him do all of this?"...well, the camera crew stays by his side, but they come prepared with their own food and necessities and at no point do they help Bear Grylls (unless he's in a really bad way). There was some speculation into how "real" the show was, and rumors that some of the events on the show were staged. Cut the guy a break!! He's obviously got brass balls...I mean, his name is Bear freakin' Grylls! Staged or not...you can't fake squeezing water into your mouth out of a giant mound of rhino feces.

Support for the show aside, I'm glad that the show sparked controversy over its genuity. I think that's going to fuel Grylls' fire and blow people away in the new season.

Monday, November 12, 2007


Well I survived the 15th annual Great International Beer Festival, and I must say...it was a good damn time! Right off the bat, those beer fest organizers kept us in suspense. We arrived at the Rhode Island Convention Center about a half hour before the event started and immediately entered a line. Completion of that line, which had an ID check and ticket stub collection, was surely the entry to the beer. Nope! More suspense! We assembled into a second line! Ok, it was all coming together then...we were to wait in that line and dispatch in groups up the escalator...to the beer fe--no! A third line!! A-ha...tricky beer fest organizers!

Okay, so maybe it was a little annoying that we waited so long, in 3 consecutive lines, to enter the festival but it was well worth the wait. We were handed a sampling cup, which we sized up to be about 4 ounces (okay alcohol math folks...that means 3 samplings = how much? that's right! 1 can of beer!) 8 glorious rows of beer booths were set up, and we were like giddy children who were experiencing a candy shop for the first time. Thankfully, we were some of the first people to enter so we were able to enjoy some good beer before the long lines formed. And...well...yea, I guess that was pretty much all we did for the following 3 hours (aside from breaking for chicken fingers and bathroom breaks). Here are some of the beers we had:

That is a majority of the beers that I remember we tried (keep in mind, multiple beer samplings ≠ precision in memory) Of those, Hilary and I decided that one of our favorites was the Pennichuck Espresso Russian Imperial Stout (unfortunately, it's not widely distributed). Souvenirs of the night include a tee-shirt that I purchased ("Working is the curse of the drinking classes" - Oscar Wilde) along with a pint glass ("Give me a woman who truly loves beer and I will conquer the world" - Kaiser Wilhelm) -- It seems that I'll be conquering the world. Celebrity sightings of the night (although we did not see him at the festival but rather the bar that we went to afterwards) were limited to Randy from Real World: San Diego.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Attack of the Soy Sauce

Before I head out today, I'll add another post, more for the delight of my co-workers than myself. We ate at a Japanese restaurant yesterday which was a very fulfilling lunch, and it ended up being much more fulfilling for Kathryn, Gail, Dave, and Josh (he's our programmer). I excluded myself from the added fulfillment because what I got was unnecessary laundry duty.

Everyone jokes about Dave spilling things on his pants so much that he was forced to buy stain-free pants. The joke was on me yesterday though. I don't know if our waiter just didn't like me or what but he managed to spill soy sauce down the full side of my right leg - I don't think any more khaki area could have been covered considering the amount of soy sauce. The situation probably would have been much more awkward had it not been met with an outburst of laughter from everyone at the table. The waiter felt so bad that he gave me a piece of cake.

So watch out for the soy sauce everyone!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Is it really November?

Two weeks from today is Thanksgiving! That means approximately 336 hours from now, I'll probably be on the verge of passing out (no, not from alcohol...that will be approximately 348 hours) For the past few years, my father, my two brothers and I have made a tradition to run in a 5K on Thanksgiving morning. My father has probably been in the best shape out of all of us each year, which adds to the dramatic fact that he could beat us. If any of you know my father, that would mean we would hear about it just about everyday until the next race. I can hear it already...

Me: Hey Dad, how was your day?
Dad: Not as good as that day I kicked your -

Last year, my oldest brother Dan was also in good shape and he left us all in the dust. Pat, who I don't think had even speed-walked since the previous Thanksgiving run, somehow crept behind me in the homestretch of the race (not like I distinctly remember that or anything though). Fortunately, however, I was able to finish before my father. But none of that will matter in 2 weeks. Are you beginning to sense the competitive nature of the Whalen family?

P.S. Note: new blog added to the LVH blogs..."The Adventures of Gail and Bill"...Yes, Gail started a blog with her husband. Now Kathryn, Gail, Dave, and I can get matching rings and put them together to create a superhero (like Captain Planet...except it would be Captain Web).

P.P.S. It's been 5 minutes since I posted this and the Captain Planet song is running rampant in my head.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Somebody's Got a Case of the Mondays...

...but it's not me (note: it turns out you really can have a case of the Mondays!). Anyway, I had a very nice weekend. On Friday, I went to my cousin Clare's wedding, which of course was a lot of fun. Unfortunately, Clare injured her knee at the wedding reception (it turns out she tore her ACL!!), but on the upside, she was able to get it checked out and get a brace and crutches before they leave for their honeymoon on Tuesday.

On Saturday, my parents threw a post-wedding luncheon at the King George Inn, and everyone seemed to be starving. Once they brought out bread baskets, we all digged in as if we were a pack of wolves that caught an intruding coyote in our territory (and believe me, I watched that exact event on National Geographic HD last night...there were some definite similarities).

That night, I had another fantastic meal with my girlfriend Hilary, in celebration of our two-year anniversary, at The Farmhouse. She got me an awesome gift...tickets to the Great International Beer Festival in Providence, RI this weekend (note that it says on the home page..."unlimited sampling"...easily the best 2-word phrase in reference to beer). I look forward to writing about that experience upon returning.

In closing, I would like to relieve everyone by letting you all know that I will not be taking part in the writer's strike.