The First (and Only?) Barton Family Turkey Bowl

After Thanksgiving dinner last year, I rounded up a couple of my brothers-in-law and nephews for an innocent game of touch football in the backyard, my modest ambition being that it might be the start of a new Thanksgiving tradition. We divided into teams and started playing. The rules were simple: four downs to get the ball across the yard into the end zone, and to down someone, you had to touch them with both hands. The nephews that were playing ranged from age 3 to age 8, so the competition wasn't particularly fierce. The participating adults were mostly relegated to handing the ball off to the young kids and pointing them in the direction they should run.

Both teams had scored a pair of touchdowns before we had our first sign of controversy. With the score tied 2-2, the opposing team marched across the yard looking for the go ahead score. On their final down, my oldest nephew Jacob ran for the end zone. His brother Caleb touched him just short of the goal line, but Jacob kept running, claiming he had only been touched with one hand. Much to Jacob's chagrin, the adults quickly ruled in favor of the younger Caleb, and the ball went to our team on downs.

Our drive, on the other hand, resulted in a touchdown, and we kicked off back to the other team. Admittedly, I was starting to get a little bored with the game. On an ensuing play, I made a hasty decision in an attempt to make things more interesting. I happened to be defending Jacob, and as the ball was passed in his direction, I stepped in front of him and grabbed the interception. Caught by surprise, he slipped and fell to the ground. Meanwhile, I began to charge back across the yard, but still had to make it past my brother-in-law Russ. With a little extra cutting and weaving, I narrowly evaded his outstretched arms en route to another touchdown. Quite proud of myself and trying to catch my breath, I noticed Jacob was still on the ground. As he slowly got up, he began to head for the house. When his dad asked where he was going, he shouted "I'm OUT!" before running inside.

Whoops. No one saw much of Jacob for the rest of the day, and it has never come up with him since. As for me, I ended up getting my just desserts in the end (and I don't mean all those slices of chocolate and pecan pie). My spontaneous evasive actions made me sore for a week.


Thanksgiving Recipes

First things first, happy 24th birthday, Kristen! In honor of your big day, here is a cheese ball recipe. Just kidding.

Roasted Red Pepper Cheese Ball

You know you are talking about an American holiday when you need appetizers to prepare for a giant feast. I tried out this recipe for Thanksgiving last year, and it turned out to be a success.

• 2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened
• 1 (8 oz) package finely shredded cheddar cheese
• 1 tsp garlic powder
• 1 tsp dijon mustard
• 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
• 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
• 1 1/2 tsp worcestershire sauce
• 1/3 cup jarred roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
• 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Mix together cream cheese, cheddar cheese, garlic powder, mustard, parsley, cilantro, and worcestershire sauce. Stir in the roasted red peppers last. Spoon the mixture onto plastic wrap. Shape into a ball, and roll in pecans to coat. Refrigerate until serving.

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

In my family, someone always brings a pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving, just because there is supposed to be one, but it usually only has maybe one slice cut out of it when the day is over. This recipe is a much better use of your pumpkin purée.

• 3 cups white sugar
• 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin purée
• 1 cup vegetable oil
• 2/3 cup water
• 4 eggs
• 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
• 1 tbsp ground nutmeg
• 2 tsp baking soda
• 1 1/2 tsp salt
• 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
• 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine sugar, pumpkin, oil, water, and eggs. Beat until smooth. Blend in flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt. Fold in chocolate chips and nuts. Grease and flour three 9x5 inch loaf pans. Bake for 1 hour, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool on wire racks before removing from pans.


Favorite Commercials, Pt. 2

After reading through Kristen's post, I decided to compile some of my favorite commercials as well. Here is what I came up with:


"Cog" (Honda Accord)
"Isn't it nice when things just... work?"

This one is longer than your average commercial (2 minutes), and I have never actually seen it on TV—just the internet—but it really is something to behold. The whole ad is one continuous shot, and everything you see is real. There is no trick photography, and minimal CG. The ironic thing about the tagline at the end is that it actually took 606 individual takes to get everything to work just right. To read more about the painstaking process, check out this article. (Video)

"Cat Herders" (EDS)
"You see the movies, you hear the stories... I'm livin' a dream."

One of the more memorable ads to run during the Super Bowl in recent years, it's the attention to detail that makes this one so great. On top of the cinematic production values, we get cowboys doing things out of character like trying to get cats out of trees, winding balls of string, and using lint rollers. I couldn't ask for much more out of a commercial. (Video)

"Monkey Business" (CareerBuilder.com)
"It's just that... I work with a bunch of monkeys."

Having worked at some pretty lame places in the past, I can totally empathize with this guy, stuck in a go-nowhere job at Yeknom Industries (get it?). Plus, there is pretty much nothing funnier than monkeys dressing as and acting like humans. (Video)


"The Fun is Back" (Atari 2600)
"The fun is back, oh yesiree, it's the 2600 from A-TAR-I."

Whenever someone mentions the Atari 2600, like one of Pavlov's Dogs I have been conditioned to immediately think "for under 50 bucks (50 bucks!)", thanks to seeing this commercial non-stop while growing up in the late 80's. "Rap" music has never appealed to me as much as it did back then. (Video)

LifeCall Emergency Response
"I've fallen... and I can't get up!"

Not only did the unfortunate old lady from this ad become a pop culture icon in her day, she also proved to be the inspiration for countless other blossoming senior citizen actors that followed. Without her, I'm not sure we would have gotten to experience the crazy Cash 4 Gold lady. Also, I'd like to give a special nod to the old man "having... chest pains", as I feel like he gets unfairly overlooked. (Video)

Hall of Shame

Energy Hogs
"There's no insulation, boss! It's hog heaven!"

Here is one of the commercials that prompts us to hit mute or change the channel every time it comes on, as Kristen alluded to in her post. Quite the opposite of monkeys, there is nothing more annoying than pigs acting like humans, especially when they are poorly articulated puppets with exaggerated accents. (Video)


Top Five Favorite Commercials

Dave and I have developed the habit of muting the TV during commercial breaks. Whenever we do happen to see/hear a commercial, we are generally annoyed or disgusted. There are a few exceptions, though. Here is a list of my top 5 favorite commercials of all time.

5. Beggin' Strips "I'd get it myself, but I don't have thumbs!"
This commercial borders on just-plain-annoying, but for some stupid reason, I find it hilarious. Maybe it's because this dog reacts to the smell of bacon like I do. "I love you, I love bacon, I love you, I love bacon." (Video)

4. Goldbond Medicated Itch Powder "Scratching to infection"
This is an older commercial (I'd estimate mid-90's), but I couldn't find it on YouTube. In it, there is a boy with a rash on his arm and he's scratching it. Luckily his fake TV mom shows up with the Goldbond Medicated Itch Powder to warn him, "You could be scratching to infection!" I have to say, I have never seen anyone scratch to infection, but now whenever someone is scratching, I always think they could be.

3. Hillshire Farms "Go Meat!"
This is a current commercial that I now have memorized because I think it's so great. Ask me sometime... I'll sing it for you. (Video)

2. Bush's Baked Beans "Roll that beautiful bean footage"
I am willing to admit that I had a pretty lame sense of humor as a kid, with this commercial as evidence. When this commercial first came out, I found it so hilarious that I walked around saying, "Roll that beautiful bean footage" for months. Now the Bush's commercials have gotten more elaborately zany and Jay has gotten a little better at his acting, but the original still cracks me up. (Video)

1. Mastercard "We Want The Funk"
I hate the commercials where they use CG to make it look like babies or kids are doing amazing things. What I love about this commercial is that those boys are for real. I always un-mute the TV when this commercial comes on because it brings a smile to my face. I have big plans to teach Eddie some dance moves as soon as he can walk. (Video)

Honorable Mention: Cash 4 Gold "I had no idea my gold jewelry was worth so much money!"
This commercial didn't make the top 5 because it is a terrible commercial, but it gets an honorable mention because it is the most frequently quoted commercial at our house. I don't mean to brag, but I can do a pretty good imitation of the old lady (she shows up at the 0:18 mark). Plus, I've seen it so many times (thanks to Comedy Central and HGTV) that I almost have the rest of it memorized too. (Video)


Family Photos '08

Here are some shots of us from the Andrews family photo shoot a few weeks back. The complete album can be viewed here.

You can almost smell the pine. No wait, I just smell like candles again.

Eddie's not buying our faux casual pose.

Who wouldn't want to kiss those cheeks?

This one definitely captures the essence of Ed. Mmboo.

He can thank his daddy for his lack of a neck.

Eddie with his cousins, Riley and Dax.


Battle of the Bonds

Here are the final poll results:

1. Daniel Craig's abs - 10 votes
While I figured the race would come down to Daniel Craig and Sean Connery, I didn't expect Craig to run away with the contest so handily. I suppose I neglected to consider that a good majority of our blog readers are women, and Craig seems to have a very Bond-esque power over the female gender. Not that I'm complaining, as long as Kristen keeps getting excited to see future Bond movies on opening weekend with me.

2. Sean Connery - 7 votes
Perhaps if I had revealed the above image earlier, Connery would have been the victor. A snug fitting terry cloth man romper can be just as hypnotizing as washboard abs, am I right ladies?

3. Timothy Dalton - 6 votes
Okay, there is no way that six different people would really vote for Timothy Dalton. The way I see it, there are two potential explanations. Either Timothy Dalton himself discovered our poll and wanted to pad his vote count (as seemingly indicated by the last comment on the previous post), or some jokester wanted to screw with the results. The latter isn't exactly unprecedented, so I'm going to go with that one.

4. Pierce Brosnan - 3 votes
3 votes—that seems to effectively sum up Brosnan's tenure as 007. A respectable showing, but not really enough to make a lasting impression.

5. (TIE) George Lazenby & Roger Moore - Zero Votes
Poor guys. Either of you could have been the one that our mystery jokester picked to vote for repeatedly, but that's just the luck of the draw. Maybe next time you'll remember to make your own luck. That's what being 007 is all about.

Quantum Reaction
We went to see Quantum of Solace on Friday night. I thought it was unrelenting and visceral, with style to spare. How's that for a quote worthy of the dvd cover? All in all, definitely a worthy follow-up to Casino Royale.
Our friends, Marc, Hali, Scott, and Lariann went along with us. You may remember the customized cupcakes that Kristen made as a treat when we watched the new American Gladiators earlier this year with the same group. Well, Hali decided to meet our challenge, and made a Bond-themed cake. She gets high marks for her relative faithfulness to the official logo.


You Know the Name, You Know the Number

Vote for your favorite actor to play 007 and don't forget to leave a comment, or I will throw my steel-rimmed bowler hat at you.

Sean Connery
"The name is Bond... James Bond."

Featured In:
• Dr. No (1962)
• From Russia With Love (1963)
• Goldfinger (1964)
• Thunderball (1965)
• You Only Live Twice (1967)
• Diamonds Are Forever (1971)

Signature Moment: Wupping Red Grant (Robert Shaw) on the Orient Express in From Russia With Love. (Video)
Darkest Hour: Getting wupped by "Bambi" and "Thumper" in Diamonds Are Forever.

George Lazenby
"This never happened to the other fellow."

Featured In:
• On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)

Signature Moment: Committing himself to monogamy by marrying the headstrong Tracy di Vicenzo (Diana Rigg).
Darkest Hour: The new Mrs. Bond getting offed by Blofeld as the happy couple are driving away from their wedding. (Video)

Roger Moore
"Nobody does it better."

Featured In:
• Live And Let Die (1973)
• The Man With The Golden Gun (1974)
• The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
• Moonraker (1979)
• For Your Eyes Only (1981)
• Octopussy (1983)
• A View To A Kill (1985)
Signature Moment: Outskiing thugs to a thumping disco beat in The Spy Who Loved Me. (Video)
Darkest Hour: Please see the entirety of Moonraker, Octopussy, and A View To A Kill. Actually, on second though, maybe you shouldn't.

Timothy Dalton
"His bad side is a dangerous place to be."

Featured In:
• The Living Daylights (1987)
• License to Kill (1989)

Signature Moment: Sledding down a mountain in a cello case in The Living Daylights. (Video)
Darkest Hour: Popping a wheelie with a semitruck in License to Kill.

Pierce Brosnan
"You were expecting someone else?"

Featured In:
• GoldenEye (1995)
• Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
• The World Is Not Enough (1999)
• Die Another Day (2002)

Signature Moment: Proving terminal velocity false by riding his motorcycle off a cliff and catching up with a falling airplane in GoldenEye.
Darkest Hour: Fashioning a makeshift parasail escape from a giant space laser in Die Another Day.

Daniel Craig
"You know my name."

Featured In:
• Casino Royale (2006)
• Quantum of Solace (2008)

Signature Moment: Emerging from the sea ala Ursula Andress in Casino Royale. Ladies, start your swooning!
Darkest Hour: Casino Royale's tortune scene. Gentlemen, start your squirming!


Quantum of Blogging

Those who read our blog regularly have probably figured out by now that when something new is coming out that I am looking forward to, I feel compelled to blog about it like crazy to hype myself up (i.e. Indiana Jones, Batman). Well, the new James Bond movie, Quantum of Solace, is about to arrive in theaters. Not to worry, there will be no live blog for all 21 previous Bond films, or 007 Cinema series analyzing each one in great depth, just the requisite poll (coming Monday), and the following "brief" retrospective.

My introduction to James Bond was GoldenEye, which came out when I was a sophomore in high school. As with Batman Forever, here was a movie that was tailor made for my oh-so-refined 15 year old sensibilities (plus having the classic N64 game paired with it didn't hurt). After rewatching GoldenEye on video with my friend Marc, he started to talk about all the older 007 movies, and we hatched a crazy idea: we should watch every Bond movie ever made.

It was the summer of '96 when we started on this ambitious goal. Whenever we were bored and needed something to do, we'd cruise down to 3-D Video and rent another one. We plowed through all the Sean Connery films in no time, but once we got through a few of the Roger Moore outings, our pace slowed considerably. The months gradually turned into years, but we continued to press on. By the time we were leaving on our missions, we had seen all but the few with the worst reputations.

When we returned home, we caught up with the disappointing The World is Not Enough (Denise Richards as a nuclear physicist? Puh-lease). We also forced ourselves to finish off the remaining films on our list, however mediocre they might be, in time for the arrival of Die Another Day in 2002. Six years later, we finally completed our goal, and it felt like the end of an era. When we witnessed the over-the-top hokiness that was Die Another Day, I was once again let down. I wondered if perhaps I had outgrown James Bond entirely.

Luckily, the Bond producers also recognized the end of another Bond cycle, and saw fit to refresh the series once again. Influenced greatly by Batman Begins and the Jason Bourne films, Casino Royale was the best Bond in ages (okay, pretty much ever). Plus something I thought impossible happened. Kristen, a notorious hater of all things 007, actually liked it (she even watches it when I'm not around). Casino Royale also set up the intriguing prospect of a direct sequel, something no other Bond movie has done before.

So to make a long story short, my flagging interest in 007 has been renewed, and my expectations for Quantum of Solace are great, hence my compulsion to blog about it. Well I feel better now. I am so ready for this movie.


Vote or Die

No matter who you are voting for today, I think you will agree that this is pretty much the best celebrity endorsement ever.

But with Lando Calrissian as our president, we could rest assured that there would be plenty of Colt 45 to go around for everyone.


Scruffy Looking Nerf Herders

First things first, here is what everyone wants, Edbacca in all his glory.

When it was decided that Eddie was going to be Chewie, we had a couple of ideas for my costume. Kristen half jokingly suggested that I be George Lucas. She was a little surprised when I responded enthusiastically to the idea. I had been growing a beard, so all I would need is a flannel shirt, some unflattering jeans, and a little gray hair dye (and maybe a baggy prosthetic double chin too). Unfortunately, family photos the week before Halloween put the kabosh on that idea since I would have to shave my beard. The next logical choice to pair with Edbacca was Han Solo of course.

I decided to go with the blue jacket look of The Empire Strikes Back, because come on, is there anyone cooler than Han Solo in Empire? Don't answer that all you non-geeks out there. I was a little disappointed when several of my coworkers confused me for Indiana Jones. Just one of the cons of working in an office with mostly women I suppose.

Kristen did borrow my sister's Princess Leia gown that she wore for Halloween a few years ago. Unfortunately, it was just kind of big and frumpy, and not very flattering overall, so she opted not to wear it (and she couldn't be talked into the steel bikini look either). In case you were wondering, I also tried on the Leia gown when exploring costumes ideas. It really wasn't flattering on me.

A few miscellaneous things, the sunrise Friday morning was so amazing, I had to pull over and take a few photos, even though I was already in full Han Solo attire. Hopefully I inspired a few double takes.

And finally, ever wondered what Jack Skellington would look like as an old man? Thanks to the unseasonably warm temperatures, now we know.