Friday, December 30, 2005

New Year's Eve...

I have recieved permission from the parents to host a smallish gathering on New Year's Eve at my humble abode. People would be welcome to arrive around 8 PM and things would wind down around 1 AM (as there is no way I have room for everyone to sleep over).

If everyone who would like to join me Saturday night would please RSVP I would greatly appreciate it. While I am sure my house can hold all of you, I do need a head count to stay within the boundaries my parents have set forth.

I will provide snacks and soda.
You may bring food of your own if you would like.
Anyone with alcohol, whether it be in their pockets or in their bloodstream, is free to NOT join the party.
If there is any question as to what you may or may not bring, please post or leave me a message on aim.

Again, please RSVP

See you soon!

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Back in Pittsburgh

On Sunday night, my Grandpa, Andrew Spontak, died in Pittsburgh. I have been trying to write this blog post since then and I still can't. Every time I try, I get mixed up in what he meant to me, who he was, what happened, how I feel, and a million other thoughts and memories that take up the space usually occupied by any ability I used to have to write cohesively. (See: previous sentence's structure.) Eventually I will write it, but it probably won't show up here.

I am in Pittsburgh until Saturday. I leave for my tour with Cayuga's Waiters on the 4th of January. Please, between then, if you have any time, I could really use a hug.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

Those of you who have seen Narnia have probably seen this trailer already, but whatever. I got so excited when I saw it, I thought I'd share it with you all.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Girls can rock too. I guess.

Sleater-Kinney is an all-female Portland band that is pretty big on the indie rock scene. They are headlining at the Crystal Ballroom next Friday, the 30th. Opening is Stephen Malkmus, who is now touring with a back-up band, the Jicks. He used to be the lead singer for Pavement. Pavement was fairly revolutionary back in the early 90's. His new album is really good and he's living in Portland now too. And there is another opening act, Quasi. I didn't really know anything about them, so I used the amazing tool that is Wikipedia and found out it's an ex-husband and wife band. The wife is the drummer for Sleater-Kinney. (I wonder if she gets paid twice for the show?) The husband is also from Portland and used to be in Elliot Smith's band Heatmiser. Heatmiser was good. So it looks like a pretty good show all around. It's fifteen bucks. Let me know if you want to go. Unfortunately I don't have the bankroll I did last summer (damn caviar addiction) so I would probably have to collect prior to getting the tickets. Or you could go downtown yourselves. It would make you realize how much you missed hipsters. Unless you're Shakeer and have been living in hipster paradise. Anyway, I'm assuming they're going kind of fast. I'm gonna check it out tomorrow. I have no idea if anyone actually wants to go, this is a shot in the dark. Bang.

post script
New salutation for Ken: Bang Away, Auburn Thunder!

post post script

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

A blogworthy event

Well, I know I told most of you, but seriously, if what happened to me isn't blogworthy, what is? So the gist of is I almost got myself killed twice in two days. The first was when I was running at forest park. I was running, and everything was going well, until I managed to get myself on a side trail that led me off a cliff 40 feet above highway 26. I managed to scurry back up the hill, but it was fairly scary. Found a place where homeless people live. There were empty alcohol containers, and a spot where it look like people have spent some time. The other time was on my trip to Bend. About 10 miles past Government Camp, I hit a patch of ice. My car starts sliding, and I end up crashing into a tanker, and I thought the driver, too. It turns out that the driver hoisted himself up on a bar before my car reached him, but I didn't know that. I bounced off the tanker and stopped 20 feet away. My brother and I jump out of the car to investigate what I feared would be a bloody mess on the truck. It turns out that the driver was pretty much okay, but then another car, a red Volkswagen hatchback hits the same icy patch that I hit, and slides into my brother and I. I see it in time, and try to dive out of the way, but I slip, and wasn't able to get off in time. The car hit my legs, and I spun off of it, but my brother got hit dead on, and hit the windshield, kinda like Happy Gilmore did when he got hit by a Volkswagen. Except for some seriously sore muscles, I'm fine, but my brother fractured his fibula (The small, unimportant leg bone. After all the annoying paper work stuff, I try driving off, but the car is totaled. I got a tow truck back to Government Camp, and spent the night in a hotel. My Aunt and Uncle came up the next day and got us, and we are now safely in Bend. We should be back up on the 28th, and I hope to see you all after that. I would have seen more of you when I was still in PDX, but the whole snow thing kinda made things hard.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Funny video

Hey. Hope you are all having fun in Portland's snow. If not, watch this video.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Reason #1,537 I Love Oregon

Took this picture on the plane flight home... ah, it's good to be back!

Thursday, December 15, 2005


Even though I didn’t get back ‘til 2:30 last night, I could barely sleep. It took me nearly an hour to even convince myself to close my eyes. It was a reaction I understood after I saw “The Shining” earlier this year, but with this it was different...this time, I just couldn’t believe what I had just seen.

The sheer...well, it’s gonna sound cheesy, but this is Peter Jackson’s baby all the way. And the sheer passion that went into every step of this project shows through right from the start. As eye-popping as Skull Island is, the recreation of 1933 New York is stunning. The scenes at sea got me giddy, and by the time they got into the fog surrounding Skull Island, I couldn’t dream of looking away from the screen. Everything that followed was the most constant jaw-dropping excitement and beautiful imagery I’ve seen in a single film. Ever.

For those of you who were on the same wavelength with me for last year’s SKY CAPTAIN, imagine that same reaction multiplied and taken to the next highest power you can think of. If that makes sense. It’s three hours of tension, heartache, joy, action, spectacle, romance, and everything else movies were made for. This is a movie for people who love the pictures.

And yes. It’s three hours long. Yes, it’s far longer than necessary. And you bet I felt the length by the end of it. But when you’re having that much fun and are that involved in it, you really stop caring and enjoy the ride.

Kong himself is the greatest special effect in the history of cinema. Not only does he look like a real 25-foot gorilla, and not only does he move like hell, but thanks to Andy Serkis’ performance (WETA, the effects guys, used the same method they developed for Gollum in LORD OF THE RINGS), the big guy’s got soul. Not only did Serkis do all the movements (which, when you watch Kong with that in mind, is incredible), but he also did all the vocal work, and while Kong doesn’t say a single word, the differences in his grunts and growls and yawns mean everything.

It is an effects-driven movie, and WETA handles it beautifully. With the exception of maybe STAR WARS, I’ve never felt as transported as I did on Skull Island. I don’t want to ruin any of it for those of you who have no idea what to expect (between the original, the trailers, and reading some reviews, I knew some of what to expect and was still blown away), but action/adventure films, most of the time the audience knows the film’s main characters will survive. In the case of KONG, which has probably the most famous ending of any movie in history, you know some people have to live. But the tension is right there, the entire time.

There isn’t a wasted moment on Skull Island. Just when you think the crew or Ann might have caught a break, there’s something right around the corner. Or over the hill. Or right next to them, above them, below them...the entire island lives and breathes these creatures, each one distinctly designed.

The cast is top-notch. It is VERY classical Hollywood sort of acting, which to some translates as cheesy. It ain’t always realistic, in fact it often isn’t, but it’s still exciting to watch and plenty engaging. Me, I love that stuff, so I was in.

Naomi Watts especially as Ann Darrow, striking the right balance of damsel in distress (and there’s plenty of distress) and the knowing recipient of Kong’s compassion. She radiates in every moment, remaining totally sincere. And she’s got one heck of a scream on her. Wow. Adrian Brody, as Jack Driscoll, has a hard role to play. He has to be the third wheel, the guy we know Ann must ultimately end up with, but also doesn’t get the same screen time as Kong to develop the relationship in. Meanwhile, he has to be a playwright forced into the role of the action hero. But Brody nails it. He completely makes it work, not as an action hero but as a man driven to extreme circumstances.

And then there’s Jack Black. I remember reading that Jackson had cast Black. First reaction, I was afraid he wouldn’t be able to carry any sort of drama. Then, after seeing the ’33 original, I was afraid Peter Jackson would just demote Carl Denham, a great character, to comic relief. Thankfully, neither happened, and what comes as a result is probably Jack Black’s finest work to date, and a fantastic character. He emerges more and more as a villain as the movie rolls on, and actually this is the character that sees the most change from the original, but Jack keeps it grounded with just the right bit of manic in his eye at all times.

The supporting cast, with the exception of the earlier-noted individual, is superb. They’re developed long enough that they don’t waste too much time, but enough so that you give a damn when the shit hits the fan. Personal favorite was Captain Englehorn, a relatively boring character in the original, but here he comes off like the king of the sea. And the land for that matter. Classic action hero.

I cannot implore you enough to go see this on the most massive screen possible. Portland people, your best options are theaters 8 or 9 at the EAST SIDE Century, theater 1 at Lloyd Center, or theater 1 (I BELIEVE it’s theater 1) at Tigard. For Lloyd and Tigard though, just ask for the Giant Screen show times. I can’t wait to see it on that. And see it at a busy time, preferably this weekend, because the crowd reactions make the movie. It’s one to cheer, scream (I heard a lotta shrieks), and laugh to.

I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did. It’s one of those things where I did think I’d fall in love with it, but when it happens you never think you’d fall so deeply. This film deserves all the money and awards thrown its way. Especially Peter Jackson. Right now he’s got a nomination for Best Director at the Golden Globes, and I can only pray the Oscars’ll show him the same love he got two years ago.

P.S. Great side story. The night Jackson came back to the hotel from the Oscars after RETURN OF THE KING won everything, he had a production meeting for KING KONG. That very night. Some people partied…he was making another movie. That’s awesome.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Hello, friends. How are you? I am well. I would just like to let you all know that during a final my already impressive Falldown skills enter the realm of epic and would ask that you try it yourselves to see if it is somehow a stress-induced phenomenon common to all people of our age, or whether it is me in particular; my distaste of the thought of returning to the test somehow enabling my synapses and such to fire at a greatly increased rate. Thank you for your time and attention. Have a safe flight home, and if confronted with terrorists or lost luggage or things of that nature, remember that the solution to every problem is a quality roundhouse kick.

post script
I may be the greatest 9-speed Falldown player in the history of this universe (and all the other ones, if Dr. Gorman's crazy theories are true.)

Sunday, December 11, 2005

JHS Wins State Football Championship

Congrats to all involved...I must admit, while I'm incredibly proud of you, I'm also insanely jealous we couln't pull it off last year. I'd love to hear comments on the game.


Saturday, December 10, 2005

Coffee House

Props to Nolan Gary for giving me his ticket. He walked in anyway. Real lax security this time. Not very crowded either.

Ellen Nye and Alex Ward made great hosts. They started out Coffee House with Ellen sitting aside as Alex obnoxiously eats a whole slice of pizza, while Michael Laos keeps shouting out, "That is so Michael Bauer!" Alex later explains Michael Bauer really is an obnoxious eater. I enjoyed it. Alex also had a couple really funny stories about concussions that his dad caused him to have.

Real creative acts this time. I can't remember all of them, so I'll talk about my favorite one.

Some senior guy started beat boxing into the mike, then looped it. He did it really, really, well. Then he plays a bass run on his guitar for accompaniment, and loops that too. Then he raps an MC Hammer song, PERFECTLY. He throws some guitar solos into it too. Wow.

Then he plays a song that he wrote. He played an accompaniment, looped it and played over it. And he did that a lot. And they always came together perfectly. Meanwhile, he sang in it too. He's even a good singer. Toward the end he had a guitar solo where he used used this really cool effect: you heard what he played about a second after he played it, and when it came out, the best description I can think of for it is that it sounded like a violin with distortion that blended all the notes together. My brother tells me that was probably a synthesizer. Anywho, he can play faster than anyone else I've ever seen.

You've probably guessed it. Ben, you probably had it by the time you read "some senior guy," since you read me like an open book. It's Michael Bauer. I couldn't think of how to start this review. I wanted it to be a "this was an awesome act" post, as opposed to a "I love Michael Bauer" post, so I left his name out til now.

PS. I went snow boarding today. I reminded my self of those really fat guys I've seen on Comedy Central that give really good monologues about their experience with sports. I found can almost do everything pretty well on the Buttercup Run. I was starting to get the hang of it by the end. Plus, I can do a really killer face plant.

Other PS: Here's some student's application to NYU that Alex read during Coffee House.


I am a dynamic figure, often seen scaling walls and crushing ice. I've been known to remodel train stations on my lunch breaks, making them more efficient in the area of heat retention. I translate ethnic slurs for Cuban refugees, I write award-winning operas, I manage time efficiently.

Occasionally, I tread water for three days in a row.

I woo women with my sensuous and godlike trombone playing, I can pilot bicycles up severe inclines with unflagging speed, and I cook Thirty-Minute Brownies in twenty minutes. I am an expert in stucco, a veteran in love, and an outlaw in Peru.

Using only a hoe and a large glass of water, I once single-handedly defended a small village in the Amazon Basin from a horde of ferocious army ants. I play bluegrass cello, I was scouted by the Mets, I am the subject of numerous documentaries. When I'm bored, I build large suspension bridges in my yard. I enjoy urban hang gliding. On Wednesdays, after school, I repair electrical appliances free of charge.

I am an abstract artist, a concrete analyst, and a ruthless bookie.

Critics worldwide swoon over my original line of corduroy evening wear.

I don't perspire. I am a private citizen, yet I receive fan mail. I have been caller number nine and have won the weekend passes. Last summer I toured New Jersey with a traveling centrifugal-force demonstration. I bat .400.

My deft floral arrangements have earned me fame in international botany circles. Children trust me.

I can hurl tennis rackets at small moving objects with deadly accuracy.

I once read Paradise Lost, Moby Dick, and David Copperfield in one day and still had time to refurbish an entire dining room that evening. I know the exact location of every food item in the supermarket. I have performed several covert operations with the CIA. I sleep once a week; when I do sleep, I sleep in a chair. While on vacation in Canada, I successfully negotiated with a group of terrorists who had seized a small bakery. The laws of physics do not apply to me.

I balance, I weave, I dodge, I frolic, and my bills are all paid. On weekends, to let off steam, I participate in full-contact origami.

Years ago I discovered the meaning of life but forgot to write it down. I have made extraordinary four course meals using only a mouli and a toaster oven.

I breed prizewinning clams. I have won bullfights in San Juan, cliff-diving competitions in Sri Lanka, and spelling bees at the Kremlin.

I have played Hamlet, I have performed open-heart surgery, and I have spoken with Elvis.

But I have not yet gone to college.

PPS: Longest PS ever (as far as I can tell)! Beat that Ben!

No. 1 Duke v. No. 2 Texas: 97-66

NOW we're playing like national champions.

Friday, December 09, 2005

So Apparently My Residence Hall Caught Fire

...I was over in my early christianity history class (it counts for humanities, of which I need a few) when my roommate calls me and is like, "Hey Mike, the fire alarm just went off, and the building's on fire, and the fire's in the bathroom right across the hall from us."

Literally, right across the hall. There are sprinklers in each room, and I didn't know how the system worked, but I thought that maybe the sprinklers in my room might've gone off, which would mean my laptop, printer, and every single book I owned would be destroyed. didn't make for a good studious mood for the last lecture of the semester.

Fortunately, everything is fine...though the bathroom's outta commission for a while.

The cause? Some toilet paper somehow caught fire. Weird.

Anyway, now I'm too busy being thankful that I'm not totally fucked for my finals and my final philosophy paper to really be able to pay attention in Spanish class...hmm...

Thursday, December 08, 2005

A note from DC

This morning, Mr. Wendt collapsed during first period. While on the
floor in room 60, his heart stopped and through the CPR and our staff's
ability to administer a defibrillator, (we have two at school,
thankfully) his heart started and breathing resumed. He was taken to
the hospital where he cannot have any visitors but you can email him at

As of this writing he is alert, speaking with his family, sitting up,
and doing much better. He admitted to not having breakfast this morning
and for someone who has to monitor blood sugar, that may not be the
wisest thing to do. We are thankful for the quick thinking of so many
people here to help him this morning. At Mass this morning, many
students prayed for him. We can't wait for his return.


After 10 months gone from Jesuit, Fr. David Olivier SJ returns today. He
is assigned to the Jesuit Community to serve where needed and to pray
for the works of the Society of Jesus. We welcome him back. His foot
seems to have healed and he is ready to go.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Having Fun and Doing Stuff!

About a year ago (obviously the Christmas season) I was trying desperately to remember the name of my favorite Christmas carol, but alas I could not. So I was asking everyone what the song was and kept telling them it was about having fun and doing stuff. Unfortunately no one could help me. Until that is SCOTT came to the rescue!!! And told me the song I was referring to was in fact called "So This Is Christmas."

Now for an Outsider exclusive. That's right boys and girls, ladies and gents, refined young women and booger pickers, an interview with Benjamin David Vincent himself.

Cynda: "So Ben what's your favorite Christmas Song."

Ben: "well cynda, I'm glad you asked because this is a matter I've been thinking a lot about lately. I'm just not sure. I think it is "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen." It's the closest to true. But there really isn't a perfect Christmas song. Many of them are very good, but they're all missing something. I would like to think that the perfect Christmas carol can still be written. Until then, mine is Gentlemen. But that is subject to change because I haven't heard all of them and know I'm forgetting some."

So now that Ben and I have shared I invite all of you to tell us your favorite Christmas songs!

Actual photo for item on eBay...

Merry Christmas

Monday, December 05, 2005

Penn is messed up.

So apparently Penn's been involved in a little scandal recently. Someone took a picture of two students having sex in front of their high rise window and it got published in the school newspaper. Here are some articles about the event. I found them to be quite amusing, especially the second one.

Exposure suit not likely for high-rise pair
Still, expert says that dorm-window scene constituted public act
By jason schwartz
December 5, 2005

The couple pictured in the now-infamous Hamilton College House sex-scene photo could be prosecuted under state law for exposing themselves in public.
But experts say it's not likely.

Penn's Office of Student Conduct has not said whether it will take action in this regard and has not returned repeated phone calls for comment.

The Pennsylvania criminal code states an act is "lewd" if the person involved "knows [it] is likely to be observed by others who would be affronted or alarmed." The crime is a third-degree misdemeanor.

The couple at the center of last week's scandal had sex against the window of the high rise apartment for three days in a row, said fifth-year Psychology graduate student Andrew Geier, who was closely involved with the case.

Patrick Egan, an attorney and professor at Temple University Law School, said prosecution for these acts is possible but unlikely.

"If you do something continuously in front of a window, one can infer that there is knowledge" that it is a public act, Egan said. "You're in front of a window -- hello, somebody can see you."

A conviction for a third-degree misdemeanor would result in probation and a permanent mark on the offender's criminal record, Egan said.

One senior who wished to remain anonymous said he filed an indecent exposure complaint against the couple in late October but that the Office of Student Conduct decided not to act on the grievance.

The student said OSC Associate Director Ed Rentezelas e-mailed him last week to say that there would be no investigation into his claim.

"Our office will not be taking any further action in your case," Rentezelas said in the e-mail, which the student forwarded to The Daily Pennsylvanian. OSC officials did not return calls to verify the authenticity of the e-mail.

History professor Alan Kors -- who served as an advocate for the Engineering junior initially charged by the University with sexual harassment for taking and distributing the sex-scene photos -- said he does not think that indecent-exposure charges are necessary.

"Let's put this behind everyone," he said. "I hope people will just leave [the couple] alone."

The student who lodged the indecent-exposure complaint said he filed it after the OSC investigated him for downloading and e-mailing the pictures and creating a group on making light of them.

"At that moment, I got very angry. I was basically outraged," he said. "I was just trying to show [the OSC] how ridiculous it was" that they were investigating him and not the couple, he said.

The student said the investigation into his actions ended in late October. Though he was forced to remove the Facebook group, the student was never charged with any violations.

Kors called the investigation of the student "absolutely disgraceful," and compared it to the case against the Engineering junior.

"It is indicative of the same lack of judgment, the same double-standard, the same contempt for student rights," he said, calling the OSC "unfair, capricious and dumb."

Kors has called for a University investigation of the OSC. He sent a letter explaining his position to the president and provost Friday night. He had not received a response as of yesterday afternoon.

High-rise windows able to withstand stress, sex
By jason schwartz
December 5, 2005

The couple pictured in the Hamilton College House sex-scene photos were apparently engaging in safe intercourse, any other consequences notwithstanding.
A representative from Viracon, the glass company that outfitted Hamilton with its windows, said the couple were not in danger of breaking the window by having sex against it.

Brian Dawley, who works for Viracon technical services, the high-rise windows are particularly strong because they are made of tempered glass.

Tempered glass, he said, is about four times stronger than the glass of a standard car windshield.

"I wouldn't expect -- unless you really hit [the windows] with a hard object -- to be able to break it," he said.

Though he added that the glass is typically stronger at some points than others -- and weaker where there are scratches -- it would take significant force to do any damage.

It is doubtful that two people pressed against the surface -- no matter how vigorously -- could break the glass, Dawley said. He added that a chair thrown at the window with a running start might not even get the job done.

Even though the couple's actions were safe, Dawley said that he and his company "don't recommend it."

Please Don't Poke Me.

So, I went and watched me some Duke Basketball last night.

Oh man.

When VA Tech took the lead with 1.6 seconds left, one of the VA Tech Hokies started taunting the Cameron Crazies, like "Looks who's winning now?"

Don't taunt the Crazies.

"The ACC regular season started with a bang on Sunday night as Sean Dockery buried a 45-footer as time expired to lift top-ranked Duke to a 77-75 victory over Virginia Tech on Sunday evening at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Coleman Collins put the Hokies ahead, 75-74 with a rebound basket with 1.6 seconds remaining in the game. Following a timeout and brief delay to set the game clock, Josh McRoberts fired a pass to midcourt to Dockery, who dribbled once before launching the game-winner. Dockery finished the night with a career-high 19 points, with 16 of them coming in the second half."

IT WAS THE BEST GAME I HAVE EVER SEEN. Anybody who saw it on TV or saw the highlights that will probably be on for days knows what I'm talking about, and yeah, I was there. Yeah, we all flipped out and screamed and yelled OUR HOUSE. OUR HOUSE. OUR HOUSE. Yeah, I rushed the court.

I get chills every time I see it.

And yes, you can see it too!

If this link doesn't work, just check my AIM profile. It'll be on there too.

ESPN called it the best finish in Cameron's history.

I don't doubt it at all.

I didn't understand the Cameron Crazies at first...the waiting in lines for hours (days for the UNC game...oh, tenting. You are too hard core for me) the painting themselves blue and white, but now, I get it.


p.s. The Cameron Crazies are ridiculous. We are the most obnoxious, creative fans ever, basically, and we yell THE ENTIRE TIME. Everybody's coordinated, know what to do to react to everything, it's ridiculous, but you catch on pretty quickly to the general cheers that go with every's the specific ones for each team that I LOVE .

For example: Last year, the VA Tech coach, Greenburg, got ejected from the game, and when asked to comment, said "It's ridiculous. Someone should control those fans, I almost got poked in the eye." Hence the chant: "PLEASE DON'T POKE ME. clap clap clap clap clap PLEASE DON'T POKE ME clap clap clap clap clap".

When they took foul shots, the entire student section (which is a helluva lot of people) did the Hokey Pokie (they're the hokies, get it?) as loud and exaggerated as possible.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Chuck Norris

I'm sure some of you have already heard these, and others don't appreciate Chuck Norris in all his glory, but for you red-blooded Americans who are in the dark, I have linked some of the legends about America's greatest hero. There are more out there if you are so inclined.

My favorites:

Chuck Norris sold his soul to the devil for his rugged good looks and unparalleled martial arts ability. Shortly after the transaction was finalized, Chuck roundhouse kicked the devil in the face and took his soul back. The devil, who appreciates irony, couldn't stay mad and admitted he should have seen it coming. They now play poker every second Wednesday of the month.

Chuck Norris was the fourth Wiseman. He brought baby Jesus the gift of "beard". Jesus wore it proudly to his dying day. The other Wisemen, jealous of Jesus' obvious gift favoritism, used their combined influence to have Chuck omitted from the Bible. Shortly after all three died of roundhouse kick related deaths.

Chuck Norris is 1/8th Cherokee. This has nothing to do with ancestry, the man ate a fucking Indian.

Chuck Norris died ten years ago, but the Grim Reaper can't get up the courage to tell him.