It seems like this is the week of free / cheap things.
Coldplay is letting people download Violet Hill, the first single off of their yet-to-be-released new album, Viva La Vida, for free off of their website.
All you do is click here, and fill out the form. Afterwards, they send you an email with a download link.
What do I think of the song? I think that if you were disappointed by X&Y, you're going to think this song is only okay. It doesn't have the same simple feel as A Rush of Blood to the Head, but instead has the more electronic sound they adopted in X&Y.
Ultimately, if this is the best song off of the album, then I expect Viva La Vida to be only slightly better than X&Y, but nowhere near Parachutes.
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
It seems like this is the week of free / cheap things.
Save the date! Today is Baskin-Robbins $0.31 Scoop Night!
*Find a store nearest you.
*5PM - 10PM - one night only
*small ice cream scoops will be $0.31 each (limit 10 scoops per person)
Baskin-Robbins shows its appreciation and support for local firefighters across the country with their $0.31 Scoop Night. To show their thanks to loyal customers and the firefighters who protect them, Baskin-Robbins is donating $100,000 to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. While you're getting your 31 cent scoop, be sure to donate money to your local fire department, too.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Hi there. I just want to start off this letter by saying that you're like so cool. Well, to millions of prepubescent little girls and boys, you are the bomb. Do people even use that phrase anymore? The bomb? Anyways. Though I think you're cute and marginally talented, I never really understood your appeal, except that Hannah Montana is an enjoyable enough of a show, and I have rocked out to your uber catchy See You Again a many times in my room.
But I digress. I don't really have a like/dislike opinion of you. I mean, I think it's awesome that you're a millionaire. I thought it was pretty impressive that your concert film managed to become #1 at the Box Office in February, beating out other major, more heavily promoted blockbusters. It's pretty cool that your dad is Billy Ray 'Achy-Breaky Heart' Cyrus, and that both he and your mom seem to care about you, giving you a weekly allowance and grounding you when you deserve it. And, you gave a shoutout to Jesus when you won big at the Nickelodeon Kid's Choice Awards last month, which is cool cause He's my homeboy too.
But for all this talk about you wanting to be a good girl and a positive role model, there sure are a lot of suggestive photos of you, taken with your friends, floating around the internetz. I for one really don't care, because that's what 15 year olds do. But if you thought those photos would be the worst criticism you'd get, you were wrong. Who could have predicted the hot hot controversy your Annie Leibovitz-shot Vanity Fair photoshoot would cause, particularly in the one photo where you appear naked, covered by a sheet (but you were dressed underneath, you swear!!). That's all fine and dandy, because they were "artistic," and hell, it's Ms. Leibovitz we're talking about. If she asked you to roll around in a pig pen covered in pig feces, you'd do it, because it's her.
What's not cool? Agreeing to take the pics because you were 'so honored and thrilled to work with Annie' and then taking it back and blaming the raciness on her and the magazine once the media got wind of it. Nuh uh, girlfriend, oh no you didn't. You did not just diss the greatest living American photographer. If you had a problem with the shot, you/your parents/your teacher/your grandmother/whoever else was at the photo shoot could've stopped it. There's none of this ' a situation was created to deliberately manipulate a 15-year-old in order to sell magazines,' which is Disney's official claim on the whole situation. Right, because Disney doesn't know a thing about manipulating 15 year olds to sell anything. It's plain and simple; you and your people were fine with the concept of the photos before the backlash. Backtracking is a bitch, Miley, and I wouldn't go there if I were you.
In all fairness, you probably didn't realize how much the media was going to blow this up, and you felt the need to do some damage control as a result. But seriously, you should know better at this point, as you yourself keep reiterating, you are a role model to millions of kids. Your very livelihood depends on those millions of kids and parents who watch your show, listen to your records, and buy all your merchandise. I want you to be a normal 15 year old kid, and take silly pictures with your friends, and go through your teenage rebellion stage. But sadly, you're not a normal 15 year old kid. You traded that in for your fame and fans, remember? Unfortunately, you can't get the best of both worlds.
This whole situation is unfortunate for you, Annie, Vanity Fair, and your fans. But you can't keep making mistakes (I know, I know, you're not perfect) and then apologizing later for it. That act gets real old, real fast. You may be the world's biggest star today, but keep doing that and you're going to be 'that girl who used to play Hannah Montana' tomorrow. Next time, just really think about what you do and say, before you do and say, ok? Millions of people are listening to and watching your every move, whether you like it or not. I know it's not fair, but that's the price you pay for getting to be the star you are.
Oh and one more thing. Don't mess with Annie, k? Thanks.
It's Ben & Jerry's annual Free Cone Day, today, April 29!
* Find the store nearest you:
* Free cone or cup of any flavor of your choosing
Ben & Jerry's is also celebrating their 30th birthday today. 30 years ago 2 friends, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, opened up an ice cream shop in Vermont. They soon became an international success, and Free Cone Day was first celebrated back in 1979 to thank loyal customers for their business. And, in keeping with their mission that 'business has a responsibility to give back to the community,' each Ben & Jerry's shop elects a local charity and collects donations on that day. So don't be stingy with your money just because it's Free Cone Day! :)
Monday, April 28, 2008
We're entering the last week of April, and while that may mean many different things to you, to a good chunk of our loyal readers, this means you are one step closer to graduating college and entering the 'real world.' The writers of Life in Boxes have been college graduates for a while now, some longer than others, but we all agree on one thing: the last couple of weeks of second semester senior year was awesome. You may be stressed out about taking your finals, or finding that elusive job, or even ready to leave the place you called home for the last 4 years, but whatever your outlook on life may be at this point, one thing is clear: you are never going to get these last weeks back, so enjoy your time for all it is worth.
There are so many things that college offers you that you're not going to find anywhere else, any other time in your life. We put together a list of things you should definitely be taking advantage of, before you're booted out into the real world. So, read up, go out, take advantage, and thank us later. Congratulations, seniors, you're almost there!!
1) Dining Hall / Local Food
From simple breakfast foods such as waffles and endless bowls of cereal, lunch takeouts of burgers, and dinners ranging from grilled salmon to Taco nights, it’s no wonder why so many college students fall prey to the Freshman 15. But aside from the overwhelming buffet-style of various cuisines in the local dining hall, the eateries unique to the nearby college campuses are worth talking about. $.05 wing nights are usual college foodie favorites, as well as food akin to the area itself (Philly cheesesteaks for those lucky to be in campuses in Philadelphia or fat cats to Rutgers students in New Brunswick). Get more bang for your buck while you have the opportunity to, ‘cause food isn’t as great or cheap back at home.
2) Health Center
As of now, we don't have universal health care in this country. Which means, unless you're lucky enough to be employed at a company with benefits, you're either not likely to have health insurance, or shelling out a lot for it. When you're enrolled in college, you're most likely than not under some sort of mandatory health plan. You may be as healthy as can be, but you never know when allergies will strike, the flu virus, or god forbid- mono, might attack, or, um, you need an emergency dose of the morning after pill, stat. Whatever. The health center has all of these options available for you, at anytime.
A gym membership in the real world can cost you anywhere between $40-$90 per month. That adds up to a lot by the end of the year. One of the greatest free services at school is the gym. Even if your school isn't known for athletic centers, the least your school's gym can have are a couple of cardio machines, weights, and a track, right? People pay good money to use that stuff. And if you're friends with people who are athletes, voila, instant personal trainers/gym buddies!
4) Computer Center/Library Services
Do you know how much a research paper costs to make? It's more than you probably think. First comes the hundreds of dollars a year to keep the school connected to Lexis Nexus and other academic databases. Second is all the paper and ink used on printing up research and your paper. Everyone takes the computer lab and library services for granted when they're at school and it's only after you have to pay $40 for printer ink that you realize how sweet it really was.
5) Student ID Discount
When you're in college, you're poor, but it's expected. So that means you can get discounts to lots of cool things. Retailers like Apple and J. Crew offer 10% discounts. Also, most movie theaters and Broadway shows and museums offer cheaper admissions. Hell, you can even get discounts on airplane tickets in college.
College students are poor, but it's okay. After you graduate, you're still poor, but nobody cares. And that's sad.
6) Sporting Events
Admittedly, not all colleges are sports-affluent. But for those who are a part of a college where sports athletes are revered as local celebrities and the identity of the college mascot is known to only those in sports, going to at least one college sporting event is vital to complete your college life. Sure, watching the game in your dorm with school friends is fun and all, but nothing beats being with a stadium full of people cheering for the same team. Home games are a must, and if you’re a student, games are virtually free – though, you might have to wait all night in line for tickets. But when your college team wins, it’s definitely worth it.
7) Free Campus Events
College is plenty expensive so when they give you things for free, take advantage of it. Colleges love attention and pretty much have an event going on hourly. Listen to the US Ambassador to China speak on globalization at 5PM, then make it out to a performance of your school's orchestra at 8PM. Or maybe you'd prefer the Mario Kart tournament at 1PM followed by karaoke at your dormitory at 7PM. There's an event for everyone. Most importantly, these free events are usually accompanied by free food.
Now that you have saved money from attending all those free events you can spend it on what you really want: Alcohol! Nightlife in the real world is generally reserved for either Friday or Saturday, rarely both. The weekend in college generally starts on Thursday, runs until Sunday, and is brought back for Boozeday Tuesdays and Wasted Wednesdays. We strongly recommend finding your limits while in college; there are few things sadder than a grown man/woman who doesn't know when to say when. Nightlife isn't restricted to drinking and dancing. There are plenty of other options: baseball, hockey, and basketball games, comedy clubs, concerts, shows, etc... Don't feel like you have to drink.
However, finding eateries open past 2 AM are encouraged to round off the night. What other great memory to have than a group of about 35 seniors jumping around in a circle, outside of a bar at 4:30 AM, singing "Don't you know, pump it up, you got to pump it up!" College is a unique experience kids, enjoy it.
Friday, April 25, 2008
Fri: 73°F / 55°F, Late Showers
Sat: 62°F / 49°F, Scattered Thunderstorms
Sun: 59°F / 49°F, AM Showers
Baby Mama (Starring Tina Fey and Amy Poehler)
Deception (Starring Hugh Jackman, Ewan McGregor, and Michelle Williams)
Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay (Starring John Cho and Kal Penn)
Tribeca Film Festival
This classic New York tradition started on Wednesday and runs until next weekend. Go out and see some indie films, celebrity pet projects, and if you're lucky, a movie star or two. Click here for the film schedule.
2008 NYC GROWS Garden Festival
New York and gardening don't normally go together, but this Sunday, Target is sponsoring a garden festival in Union Square Park. "There will be hands-on activities for the whole family, food and beverage sampling, chef and gardening demonstrations, a prize drawing totaling more than $5,000, and much more."
I clearly remember the day the whole sixth grade class got the class polls to fill in each category with a classmate who best fit it. Throughout the day friends, foes, and even the people I barely talked to came up to me to tell me that they put my name down as the class bookworm. Nerdy, yes. But hey, if you thumb through my old elementary school yearbook, you'll see a proud picture of myself, voted as the [female] sixth grade class "Bookworm." Represent.
With that said, I love reading. Nothing can be more pleasant than finding a great book that takes you to another time or place. And living the busy lives we have, doing whatever takes up time, I've found it best to read before turning in for the night. But I have this habit of rereading some oldies but goodies at least once every three months or so. Why? Some books make you have that good, nostalgic feeling. Other books make you discover new things about it, each time you read it. And for the most part, a select few number of books are just too damn good. But to each their own.
Anyway, here's a few of the current books that are in rotation for this bookworm's readings before bed.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (or any of the Harry Potter books) - Say what you want about J.K. Rowling, but I think she's bloody brilliant. Haters refuse to go near her series, yet their ignorance has kept them from reading probably one of the greatest books of our time. Readers can get easily lost in the world of Hogwarts, and true Potter fans comb through each novel for clues which led up to the final book of the series. And what better way to go to sleep, after having your conscious mind wander into a world in its own?
Pride and Prejudice - If you're a well-read girl, Pride and Prejudice is the crème de la crème of must-read novels. From the witty writing to the memorable characters, true Janeites know that deep down inside, Mr. Darcy is their first love. Also, it probably helps if you are going through an Austen phase :x
The Perks of Being a Wallflower - This book has impacted the way I feel about reading and writing in so many ways. From the innocent and observant narration of Charlie to his dynamic relationships with other characters, The Perks of Being a Wallflower has been dubbed The Catcher in the Rye for our generation. It's not really a recommended read for everyone, but anyone with appreciation for life should read this.
I respect Doctors of all types. I always felt there was an art to their craft. They seem to have a deft touch with their instruments that separates them from the rest of us. This was until I had two of my wisdom teeth extracted on Wednesday. There is nothing graceful about having your wisdom teeth extracted.
While a dentist can often extract your wisdom teeth, my bottom right wisdom tooth seemed difficult to extract so I was referred to an oral surgeon. My appointment was at 3:30 and after a couple of questions about my medical history from the assistant, I was in a chair by 3:45. My surgeon was old, about 65. This sort of scared me because I wanted to be sure he wasn't going to pass out in the middle of the surgery (RIP Jorge- Died when the oral surgeon dropped the drill in his face). However, he had a good sense of humor as was evident when he explained to that there's a chance that removing my lower right tooth might cause temporary/permanent nerve damage, but there was nothing we could do about it. Let me repeat that, extracting your lower wisdom teeth can cause permanent nerve damage along your jawline/lower lip! Pretty scary thing to hear 5 minutes before you're about to get one taken out. No time to think about it by then, four or five shots of anesthetics and 15 minutes get my mouth feeling pretty numb.
The tools used for the surgery were a drill, dental forceps, and small variations of a pick ax. My lower wisdom tooth was the first to be extracted. It was drilled, pushed, and pulled for a good 25 minutes. I could tell it was not easy because the surgeon kept giving that "WTF?" look as he persistently tried to jar my tooth loose. Eventually, he was able to remove it and later told me it was toughest one he had removed all year. My upper wisdom tooth took a fraction of the time. A couple of smacks, a forceful pull, and presto. My wounds were stitched and I was done by 4:40.
After the teeth were out, a piece of gauze was placed in my mouth to stop the bleeding. I was given a long list of what to do and what not to do. Replace the gauze every two hours. Take prescribed anti-inflammatory medicine every four hours, prescribed antibacterial medicine every six hours. I was told I couldn't eat anything solid or hot for the first couple of days and nothing spicy for a week. I was also told to not exercise for a week (fat chance) and to rinse the are with salt water a couple of times a day.
For about two hours afterwards I'm thinking this is a piece of cake. Why do people complain so much when they go through this? Then the anesthetics wore off. It is painful and highly uncomfortable. It adequately feels like part of your gums was torn off. A piece of gauze in your mouth, the taste of blood, and not being able to close your mouth correctly are quite a nuisance. I hate taking anything for pain relief, but at this point I took two Tylenols and that seemed to do the trick.
The next day wasn't bad. No pain to be reported and the bleeding had stopped the night before so thankfully no gauze! However, it became clear that eating real food was not an option. I tried nibbling a slice of pizza but even that was too much work. Since the extraction my diet consists of mostly juice. My most hardy meals have been mashed potatoes sprinkled with parmesan and a bowl of cream of wheat. My plan is to resume eating normal foods tomorrow and basketball by Sunday.
Overall the process is mostly annoying. If you're planning to get yours extracted I highly recommend you do. Julia asked me what's the worse that can happen if you don't. The answers are gum infection that can spread to the cheek and neck, pressure pain, cyst formation, etc... Also, the longer you wait to get your wisdom teeth extracted, the harder they are to remove. What I'm most happy about is no nerve damage! Good luck to you all going through this or those who will go through this.
More info provided by WebMd.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
What do you do when you're on an elevator and you're in a rush? Or if you want to selfishly take the elevator by yourself? Of course, you go for the ol' "close door" button.
Those "close door" buttons on elevators are always the butt of small jokes people make: "I bet that doesn't even do anything."
But for most people (or at least for me), I always had just assumed that it did, in fact, make the elevator door close faster.
However, according to a recent article in the New Yorkers, that button is just a placebo:
"...elevator manufacturers have sought to trick the passengers into thinking they’re driving the conveyance. In most elevators, at least in any built or installed since the early nineties, the door-close button doesn’t work. It is there mainly to make you think it works. (It does work if, say, a fireman needs to take control. But you need a key, and a fire, to do that.)" (Emphasis added; Link)
I haven't tested this for myself, but the more I think about it, those doors never did seem to close in a hurry after I would push the buttons.
So next time you're in an elevator, don't even bother with that button... and laugh at those who try.
The weather's getting nicer, so that only means one thing, summer's almost here! And with that comes tons of outdoor events, most of which are free and open to the public. I've been on a big concert kick lately (there's nothing like seeing artists you like perform live), and with my love for nice weather and for concerts, I'm making it my mission to attend at least one outdoor concert this summer. Thankfully, rival morning shows TODAY and Good Morning America host a series of concerts during the summer, with a slew of awesome artists booked and ready to rock&roll. The only catch is that you have to be there at ungodly hours to ensure a spot to watch them perform, but it's a small price to pay for free entertainment, right?
NBC's TODAY Concert Series Lineup
ABC's Good Morning America Concert Series Lineup
As for me,
One word: Coldplay.
Two words: June 27. (ok, I know that's actually not 2 words)
Three words: I'm so there.
Four words: Who else is in??
Ok, I know I'm being super annoying. But, um, it's COLDPLAY, my favorite band ever. I don't enjoy waking up in the morning when it's still super dark outside, but did I mention it's Coldplay?? The last time I did something crazy like that was September 06, when my boyfriend (aka John Krasinski from the Office) and actress Jenna Fischer were on TODAY to promote the season 3 premiere of the show.
They had a scheduled DVD signing at the NBC store across the street right after the interview, and even though I already owned the DVDs, I followed them there like a stalker. And while everyone else was at the signing to get DVDs signed, I just stood there and took tons of pictures like a creep-o. Whatever! In my defense, there were a handful of other people doing the same exact thing I was doing (and yes, the restraining order has been lifted). Unfortunately, I got like 4 good shots of the 100s I took, cause I'm an idiot and don't know how to work my camera. Things will be different this time around. Here I come, Chris Martin!
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
A few nights ago, I received a chain email from a friend. Like with all other chain emails, I had the same reaction: roll my eyes and hit 'delete.' However, this particular subject title caught my eye. I opened the email, only to read the horrifying news about how a sick, so-called artist who was attempting to redo a past exhibit:
In 2007, the 'artist' Guillermo Vargas Habacuc, took a dog from the street, tied him to a rope in an art gallery, and starved him to death. For several days, the 'artist' and the visitors of the exhibition have watched emotionless the shameful 'masterpiece' based on the dog's agony, until eventually he died.
Now anyone who knows me can tell you how much I heart dogs. I can pretty much name any breed of dog just by seeing it (though, the new hybrids tend to throw me off with their silly names). To see pictures of an emaciated dog exhibited as "art" was too much for me to even believe. Luckily, about 2 million other animal lovers signed the online petition, too, and this madness "for the sake of art" was put to a stop:
After pressure from WSPA, the Honduras AHPRA and the public, the Biennial organizers have agreed not only to make AHPRA official observers but also to include new competition rules that prohibit the abuse of animals. While we are satisfied that no-one will be able to abuse animals in the name of art during this forthcoming exhibition, stronger laws need to be in place that prohibit animal cruelty. WSPA and member society UCC are currently supporting a campaign, led by the Commission for Natural Resources and Environment of the Nicaraguan Assembly, calling for legislation to protect animals in Nicaragua. (wspa.com)This is just one battle won. Everyday, there are millions of animals around the world treated cruelly for the sake of art or whatever sick pleasure. So if you have a heart, sign the Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare.
In August of last year, I went to a retreat in Pennsylvania where people mostly ate burgers and were attacked by mosquitoes. Although I'm not one for nature, my only regret was finishing second at the Taboo tournament (I will have my revenge). On that Saturday evening, Eugene Cho, a pastor from Seattle, delivered the sermon. As I was busy writing/doodling something completely unrelated, Eugene spoke of how when he watched TV, he skipped over the child sponsoring commercials until his young son called him out on it and asked him why those kids on TV couldn't eat and why we weren't do anything about it. Who needs coffee to wake you up when truth will do?
On the way back from the retreat, I was inspired to do something. I thought a lot about things we could do. Seven months later, I was thinking about how my fantasy basketball team was doing. Hm, maybe I fell asleep too long.
I don't think sponsoring a child makes you a better person and I definitely don't think it's a "Christian" thing, but I do think it helps. I strongly encourage you all to help too. Help with a friend or a group of friends, make it a social thing, or go at it alone. Here are a couple of sites worth looking at:
World Vision: Sponsor a Child
Christian Children's Fund: Sponsor a Child
ONE: Join the Fight Against AIDS/HIV and Poverty
American Red Cross: Disaster Relief Nationally and Abroad
Also check out Eugene Cho's Blog. A pastor that rants, gotta love it.
As for me...
Hola, Brenda Arely from El Salvador. Hope this helps...
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Contrary to what people might think about me, I don't actually count calories. It's hella depressing, and I don't think it's entirely conducive to a long-term healthy lifestyle goal. I can't say I don't look at caloric information though; I do, just to see what I'm putting in my body.
Starting yesterday, a new law was supposed to go into effect in NYC, requiring all chain restaurants in the city to display caloric information on all food and beverages (on menus and price boards). It's part of a new initiative by the Department of Health on drastically curbing obesity in the next couple of years. The New York State Restaurant Association (NYSRA) is fighting this ruling, with places like McDonald's, BK, KFC, and Domino's not participating as of yet. The NYSRA is expected to appeal to a higher court, but in the meantime, any chain restaurant with more than 15 locations nationwide has 6 weeks to comply before fines are issued. Below is a breakdown of how many calories some of your faves are, and it ain't pretty. It's no wonder why some of these chain restaurants are fighting to keep caloric info off of customers' minds. As a reference point, the Food & Drug Administration's recommended caloric allowance per day is 2,000.
Starbucks - Venti Iced Cafe Mocha: 400 calories
Wendy's - 3/4 pound Triple w/cheese: 980 calories
Taco Bell - Bell Grande Taco Salad w/Ground Beef: 1,450 calories
TGI Friday's - Ribs: 1,910 calories
Outback Steakhouse - Bloomin Onion: 2,310 calories
Pizzeria Uno - Chicago Classic Deep Dish Personal Pizza: 2,310 calories
Monday, April 21, 2008
My friends and I, we play a lot of board games. Now this may sound sad, but really it's a great, affordable, way to meet up and hang out with friends.
A good party board game will get everyone involved and laughing. Nowadays, board games are not just for kids and rainy days.
Of course, not all games are created equal.
So to help you weave through the crap and find some really fun group board games, here's my list of worst and best party board games....
7. Dirty Minds
This game was seemingly perfect for our group of friends, because, well, we're all pretty crass.
The way it works is you are given three clues that are intentionally misleading and easily seen as perverted, but the clues lead to an answer that is positively tame. The point of the game is to answer the clues correctly and collect cards to win.
Why it's good:
The clues really are hilarious.
Here's a sample:
1. I throb when I'm excited
2. A massage brings me to life
3. Pumping is my business
Answer: a heart.
1. I'm a four letter word
2. I'm a name for a woman
3. I end in u-n-t."
Very funny indeed.
Why it's bad:
The clues come in a booklet that you can easily peruse. This means that after a single game, everyone has pretty much heard or read through most of the clues. There is zero replayibility. It's fun once and only once
If someone unwittingly bought it (sorry Steve :x), play it, but never waste your hard earned money on it.
6. Loaded Questions
This is an ideal ice breaker game because the questions and answers involve the players. The game goes around with a player asking a question ("If you could rid the earth of 3 creatures, which 3 would you dispose of?") and the rest of the players answer the question on a separate sheet of paper. Someone reads all the answers and the player who asked the question has to guess who said which answer. The more you get right, the further you move along the board.
Why it's good:
Like I said, it's a fun ice breaker. You get to learn new, trivial things about your friends. What's more, it's fun to write ridiculous answers or inside-jokes. The fact that the game focuses on the players makes it unique.
Why it's bad:
Some of the questions are lame. Take for example this question: "On a scale of 1-10, how hard of a worker are you?" First of all, that's a pretty boring question. Second of all, it's hard for you to guess which of your friends wrote 6 and which wrote 7. The game is more fun if you just choose a good question (instead of reading the one the game tells you to).
Also, do not try to play with more than 5 people. With more people, it gets harder to guess and the game moves slower.
Fun once in a while, but not really worth the purchase.
This is a classic party board game. Think real-life Mario Party. You make up to 4 teams, and you play different mini-games, varying from pictionary, to charades, to spelling backwards, to answering trivia questions in attempts to get to the end of the board.
Why it's good:
Cranium is great for big groups. Everyone in the team can participate in the different mini games. The fact that different skills are needed allows everyone to be good at something. And overall, the game is just plain fun.
Why it's bad:
I think the biggest problem with this game is it sometimes is too long. If you try play Cranium to the end, expect to go on for 1 or 2 hours.
Another problem with the game is its "Humdingers" game (humming a song). Unless you're 30+ and white, you're not going to know a lot of the music clues given.
Also, the clay that comes with the game can become pretty useless pretty quickly unless properly maintained.
A good game to have, even if you only break it out once a year.
Scattergories is much more of a thinking person's game. You are given a list with 12 categories ("Things you find in a medicine cabinet", "Authors", "Fictional Characters", etc.) and then you roll a die that has letters on it. Whatever letter is rolled, you have to try your best to think of something for each category with that letter. After your allotted time is up, you read your answers. If your answer makes sense you get a point. If someone writes the same answer down, however, neither of you get a point.
Why it's good:
Scattergories lets you use your brain and be creative, which is a nice change of pace since most games focus on chance. The fact that there are 16 different lists and 20 letters means that replayibilty is pretty high. Also, special rules such as using alliteration (for example, Roger Rabbit for fictional characters would give you 2 points) make the game more challenging.
Why it's bad:
The only real problem is that it isn't exactly a high-energy game because you stay quiet for a good portion of the game. It's fun, but it's not something you break out to keep everyone laughing and talking.
A great game overall. Not the most exciting party game, but a fun one none the less. Definitely worth the purchase.
3. Pop 5
Think of it as a quicker, simpler version of Cranium. Pop 5 is made by the same people, but the game focuses on pop culture. A player picks a card and has to choose 1 of 5 different ways to get their team to answer correctly. The twist is that each method is worth different amount of points; so the bigger the risk, the bigger the reward.
Why it's good:
Pop 5 seems to address a lot of problems that I had with Cranium. The game is a lot more fast paced -- no board, just the mini games, and since it focuses on pop culture, the clues are accessible to more people. All of this while keeping the varied gameplay and excitement of Cranium.
Why it's bad:
If you play too much and too often, you can get through the list of clues they give you pretty quickly. So unless you start making your own clues up, you can run into replayability issues in the future.
A fun, quick party game. Very fun and worth buying.
2. Apples to Apples
Apples to Apples epitomizes the idea of "simple party game." Basically, the game is a huge stack of green and red cards with different words on it (anything from "Michael Jordan", to "Dirt", or "The 60's" can be found on a card). A player picks up a green card, read it aloud, and everyone else scrambles to find a red card in their hand that best matches the green one. The first player reads each one and decides who the winner is. The green card player rotates and the point of the game is to get the most points.
Why it's good:
As I mentioned, it is very simple. There is nothing you really need to teach anyone. The sheer card selection and the variations of the game make it very replayable. The best part of the game is trying to convince the judge to choose your card over someone else's.
Why it's bad:
Since players are the judges, sometimes they don't make the best choices. It's part of the game, but if your perfect card gets snuffed, it can cause an uproar.
Simple and fun with big groups. Buy it.
This is an old school party board game. You have to get your team to name common words written on a card. The catch is you can't say certain words. So if your word is "diamond", you have to figure out how to describe it without saying "baseball", "ring", "carats", "jewel" or "engagement". If you're good, you can go through 5 or more words before your time is up. If you're bad, you can end up with negative points.
Why it's good:
The game is fast-paced and requires a lot of quick thinking. It gets everyone involved because your team wants to guess as fast as possible, while the opposing team is listening carefully in hopes that you mess up. The combination of skill, luck, and teamwork make it, in my opinion, the best party game around.
Why it's bad:
There is a learning curve when it comes to Taboo -- it's not a game you just pick up and can play. Hopefully, everyone you play with has already played before or can pick it up quickly.
Also, since it relies on a word list, you inevitably repeat clues, making it not the most replayable game ever.
Despite its flaws, it's probably the best party game you can play. If you don't already own it, you should go pick it up now.
Saturday, April 19, 2008
The Forbidden Kingdom (starring: Jackie Chan, Jet Li)
Friday, April 18, 2008
Now that spring is finally here, allergies are also in full swing. As a fellow allergified victim, I'm probably at my all-time low around this time of the year, with constant sneezing, congestion, mucus, boogers, phlegm .. you name it, I've got it. But really, what does all that sniffling and snorting really mean? What does your body want from you? And what can you do to remedy it?
If you’re congested, your snuffling and snorting are typically the result of mucus blocking the flow of air in your nose, says David Brodner, MD, an ear, nose, and throat specialist in Boca Raton, Florida, and a spokesperson for the American Academy of Otolaryngology. Flushing with a saline rinse can clear excess mucus that comes with a common cold or seasonal allergies, says Melissa Pynnonen, MD, assistant professor of otolaryngology at the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor. Several brands of saline rinse are available at drugstores, or mix up your own saline with eight ounces of warm water and one-quarter teaspoon salt. Put half of the solution in each nostril using a syringe or nasal spray bottle. It’ll flow out of the opposite nostril. Repeat on the other side, and then blow your nose. (msnbc.com)
For other odd gurgles, cracks, and growls coming from your body, check out this health feature from the Today show to decode what your body's sounds are trying to tell you.
The NBA Playoffs start Saturday and I'm actually looking forward to it. For the past couple of years I've had to watch one dull playoff after another take the joy out of basketball. Each year had on intriguing match up but nothing like this year. This year is tough to predict but here's what I know...
First Round East
Boston Over Atlanta in 4
I love the Hawks. I would trade the entire Knick roster and a quarter of central park for Josh Smith, Al Horford, and Joe Johnson. However, this series won't be close. Garnett, Allen, and Pierce will make this a statement series.
Detroit Over Philadelphia in 4
Detroit over Philly will not be fun to watch because the Sixers, outside of Iguodala and Miller, are not a good team. Hell, even with them they're not a good team. Detrot does an amazing job of boring sub par teams to death with tenacious defense and offensive efficiency.
Orlando Over Toronto in 6
Dwight Howard vs Chris Bosh. That's a matchup woth seeing if you're a basketball fun. I think Bosh will have a huge series. Unfortunately for him, Howard has the better supporting cast. Too much Hedo and Rashard for Toronto to handle.
Cleveland Over Washington in 6
When the Wizards lost Gilbert Arenas early in the season I thought they had no chance at the playoffs. Luckily for the Wizards (and my fantasy team), Antawn Jamison played like a man posessed. Even with Gilbert back, Caron Butler is struggling with injuries and theres no one in the NBA who cna guard Lebron.
First Round West
Los Angeles Over Denver in 6
Denver was able to get hot at the right time and earn a playoff spot. Although it's not a big surprise that the Lakers are in the playoffs, it is surprising to to see them as a 1 seed. Although, Denver can score with the best of them, they play zero defense
Dallas Over New Orleans in 7
Chris Paul finished first in fantasy rankings and will probably finish third in the MVP race. His Hornets are the biggest surprise of this season and have a been a ray of hope to a community that desperately needs it. The Mavs, on the other hand, struggled at first with Jason Kidd running the show, but it seems they have found their rhythm. My instincts say that Dirk will have a great series.
Phoenix Over San Antonio in 7
In the 80s, the Pistons had to overcome the Celtics, in the 90s the Bulls had to overcome the Pistons. This is the year that the Suns prove too much for the aging Spurs. I didn't like the Shaq deal with the exception that it would help them against teams with better big men. This is the early favorite as the best series in Round 1.
Utah Over Houston in 6
Houston won 22 in a row but the Jazz are a better team. With Deron Williams running the show, the Rockets are going to have a tough time matching up against the versatile Jazz.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
The giant frozen dessert megachain known as Pinkberry (which is really based off of a Korean chain called Red Mango; you can read more about in Yuri's post below) settled a class-action suit this week in LA, regarding claims that it was misrepresenting its product as "frozen yogurt" and "all-natural." While not denying any wrongdoing, Pinkberry has agreed to pay $750,000 to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank (a food collection agency) and Para Los Niños (a non profit family service org) plus the legal fees and an additional $5,000 to the plantiff Lisa Sutton, who claims she suffered injuries and loss of money spent on Pinkberry products ("Oh no, I ate Pinkberry everyday for it's 'health benefits' and now I'm broke and fat!!" Puh-lease, girlfriend).
The problem stems from the fact that Pinkberry's products do not meet California Department of Food and Agriculture's standards and requirements of what frozen yogurt is, namely that it contain the necessary amount of bacterial cultures per ounce (According to the Los Angeles Times, Pinkberry's product had only 69,000 bacterial cultures per gram, compared to 200,000 for Baskin-Robbins). The ingredients also have to be clearly listed, which Pinkberry has only begun to do so on its website recently, in response to the controversy.
So, I doubt Lisa Sutton will be visiting a Pinkberry anytime soon, but according to the Gothamist, the $5,000 she's receiving works out to be like one medium original dessert (with toppings) every day for three years. Which I so need, because uh, a) I don't really care that it's not really frozen yogurt and has no health benefits, and b) since they opened one up right across the street from the building I work at, I've gone everyday. Which is not good, not good at all.
No offense to our Korean readers, but I think we all need to admit that we don't always have the best business sense. Today, I bring you a tragedy of Korean entrapreunership in two acts..
Pinkberry, Pinkberry Everywhere, Let's All Have a Drink.
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I think I discovered the super top secret formula Koreans use when creating their own businesses:
1. See a Korean make money off of a business
2. Copy business idea
3. Open a store in the same area
It happened with PC bangs, and it's happening with plain frozen yogurt stores:
On Thursday, New York City’s first Red Mango is scheduled to open, within a mochi’s throw of a rival Pinkberry on Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village (183 Bleecker and 177 Bleecker, respectively), and around the corner from a Yolato.
Another in-your-yogurt face-off will come to a head in Flushing, Queens, where a Red Mango will soon open a mere 40 steps from a Pinkberry on Roosevelt Avenue.
It's like these people don't realize that it's not a good business move to open a store right across the street from a place that already sells the exact same thing. Where is long-term sustainability in that?
I think these Koreans need a history lesson. At one point, in Palisades Park (a single square mile town), there were 4 PC Bangs in operation. Now? Not one is still around.
Koreans always feel like they're above the law. Turns out this applies to all levels of Korean entrapreunuers:
Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee was indicted on charges of tax evasion and breach of trust on Thursday.
What makes this story worse? Lee's probably not going to serve any jail time because Korean judges are generally leinient towards corporate leaders.
Way to make us look good, Lee.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Three of the children that go to the center where I tutor in appeared in The Daily Show on Wednesday. Cool? Yes. Proud? I don't know why. WAY TO GO YEEs! Or as you will see on the clip, Success, Possibility, and Stay At Home Dad.
Since I'm quite into photography, I get asked about digital cameras alot. Which one should I buy? Is this one good?
Most of the time, these people are talking about point-and-clicks and the users plan on taking casual pictures of friends and family.
When it comes to point-and-clicks, it's not too difficult to find a good, cheap camera.
If you follow these simple guidelines, you'll find a camera that is a perfect match for you....
Form vs. Function
The first thing you need to decide when looking for a digital camera is what you value more, form or function?
The more you want the camera to do (manual modes, scene modes, more zoom), the bigger it's going to get.
If you're willing to sacrifice easy menu access and some more advanced features, you can get a smaller and thinner camera.
For most users, form is usually better. Something pocketable is better then a big camera with features you're never going to use anyway.
Megapixels don't really matter
The first thing somebody mentions when they talk about their digital cameras is the megapixel count. Really, this stopped being an issue, like, 5 years ago when 3.2 megapixels was standard.
Why? Because megapixels are there to tell you how big you can print your photos. With 3.2 megapixels, you can print high quality 5x7 pictures (I even printed 8x10's with good results with my old Canon SD110).
According to Digicamhelp.com, 6 megapixels will yield high quality 11x14 prints and 8 megapixels can print whopping 16x20 prints.
Since the few people who actually print their photos usually go with 4x6 prints, they can choose any modern camera, regardless of megapixel count.
Brand Does Matter
When it comes to things like computers and socks, I always say brand doesn't matter. If it has good parts in it, it'll be good.
But when it comes to digital cameras, I find that brand plays a big role.
The main reason is because, unlike computers, which all share parts and software, digital cameras all have unique sensors and software. Some companies make it well, some do not.
I have strong brand loyalty to Canon, especially when it comes to digital cameras. They have good imaging sensors, intuitive software, and they are always well reviewed. So if you were to ask me what kind of digital camera to buy, I would tell you stick with Canon.
However, if you're looking for a more balanced look at digital camera reviews, there are two really great resources: DPReview and Steve's Digicams.
Both have detailed camera reviews and they also have "Best Cameras" lists, which are super useful.
And if you'll notice, you won't see any generic brands up on their lists.
As I mentioned before, megapixels don't matter. With that said, there is no reason for an average Joe to spend too much money on a camera.
You can pick up a perfectly good camera with lots of features for 250 or less.
That way, if in 2-3 years you want a newer, nicer camera, you won't feel as guilty.
Don't Buy Warranty
One last tip, don't bother with warranties. Most don't cover accidents such as dropping, and repairing individual parts of a camera is almost always too expensive to be worth it. You're probably better off putting the money you would use on a warranty on accessories (memory card, camera case) or save it for your next camera purchase.
So like with most electronics warranties, don't bother.
PS. Buy a 2gb memory card. They're cheap and big enough that you won't ever need to buy another memory card.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Jason Mraz - Music, Magic, Make Peace tour with Bushwalla, Justin Kredible, and the MakePeace Brothers. Sunday, April 13, 2008. 7PM at World Live Cafe, Philly PA.
If you are a music lover, and you like live performances, the one thing you must do in your lifetime is see Jason Mraz live. I'm not kidding when I say he is one of the best artists to see live, and his strength as an artist really lies in the shows he puts on. I've seen him about 3 times now, and I have to say, the April 2008 Music, Magic, Make Peace tour is my favorite show of his. Tickets are probably hard to come by at this point because he literally sells out every show within minutes of them going on sale, but if you do get a chance to catch it, you're in for an awesome time.
The MakePeace Brothers opened the show, and they are a folk quartet (though they were a trio this particular night) of real-life brothers who are all very cute. Their music was good, and they played 6 songs, including the inspiring "Hero," which you can check out on their website. The very entertaining freestyle acoustic rapper Bushwalla performed 7 songs, and having been on tour with Mraz before, much of the audience was very familiar with him and his songs.
After what seemed like hours of waiting and people pushing us around (it was a standing room venue), Mraz finally took the stage with his trusty sidekick Toca. He opened with Plane, one of my faves from the Mr. A-Z album, and minus Geek in the Pink and a slew of other songs from the olden days, he mostly stuck to new material from his upcoming album We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things (out 5/13). Even though he said he was congested, he sounded amazing, and of course, he is the king of improvisation, which he liberally exercised in his set. He was chatty and charming, and what I love about him is that he's still incredibly gracious and humbled by people coming to see him. He played about 14 songs in total, and when he launched into I'm Yours towards the end, we all went crazy.
And after that long set (about an hour and a half), he came back to perform an encore with everybody from his tour, which was awesome in itself, but after that fun performance ended, he stuck around to perform You and I Both solo, which the entire audience sang along to. Mraz, his guitar, the audience's energy= AMAZING. My boy is back!!!
Monday, April 14, 2008
With the weather kicking up, and the sun smiling down at us, it’s time for a wardrobe change! But before you get too excited over spring fashions, make sure you don’t go out looking like a fool. Now, when it comes to fashion, I wouldn't say that I am the most fashionable person around. I just know the basics; certain colors look fresh together, anything with rhinestones is too gaudy, and if there are feathers involved, I'd rather kms (kill myself). But there are a few trends that I happen to see waaay too often that I find to be either ridiculous or just plain fugs. So rather than a spring fashion "do's and dont's," I'll focus on the "don'ts." And by "don'ts," I mean if you ever are caught breaking any of these rules .. Lord, help you.
Make sure you aren’t breaking any fashion crimes by reading the following cases ..
Case A: Wearing Socks with Sandals.
I have a dear friend who is all-around a pretty good guy. We get along fine .. but every once in a while, he likes to test our friendship by trotting around in his Champion white cotton socks and his Timberland sandals. Whenever I see such a lethal display of footwear, I am appalled. Make up your mind, damnit! Sandals are all about proudly displaying your feet (unless you’ve got some nasty business going down there, please double-check yourself before going out to expose your toes!) .. to see fuzzy white socks peeping between sandals just reminds me of some gnarly toe jam (you know what I’m talking about). Seriously, lose the socks.
*Unless, of course, you are a college student, living in the dorms…’cause I mean, sweats, a hoodie, socks w/ sandals is the ultimate college student’s attire. But if you aren’t within college boundaries, don’t bring that heinous fashion eyesore elsewhere.
Case B: Wearing a Backpack whilst carrying a Purse.
Time and time again, I keep saying it. But every time I see a poor girl carrying such a deadly combination, I seriously wanted to chuck my backpack in her face. I mean, why carry the damn purse if you've got a convenient bag on your damn back? Or if anything, stuff that inside your backpack or larger tote bag that you happen to be carrying! I don't care if you've got a cute Coach wristlet or a new LV bag you've got no other opportunity to show off because you never get invited to parties to actually present it in a more fashionably acceptable way .. C’MON!
Case C, Section I: Wearing Sunglasses Indoors/At Night.
Unless you're Stevie Wonder (ah, too soon?) or some celebrity avoiding the paparazzi, there is no need to wear sunglasses indoors or at night, you know, when the sun is nowhere in sight. Or if you have some crazy cataracts. Or if you're Cyclops and have some sort of laser beam eye defect. Seriously, people. Even if you have a sty, wear a damn pirate's patch. Someone give me a perfectly logical reason as to why someone who is neither blind or stalked by the paps would wear their sunglasses indoors. Your eyes are clearly out of danger, especially when you're in a perfectly shaded room. At least flip them over your damn head, if you insist on keeping them on.
Case C, Section II: Wearing Sunglasses on the Back of Your Head.
You are not cool. Unless you’ve got eyes on the back of your head. But the same rules for Case C, Section I still apply.
Case D: Asian-Themed Tattoos Are the New Tramp-Stamps.
Springtime is the time when you wear a bit less to show a bit more skin. And for all of those ink-loving people, it's the perfect time to show off your ink-work or to add another to the collection. But keeping in mind of the somewhat painful and somewhat permanent decision to get a tattoo, there are some cardinal rules in getting inked.
Roses, butterflies, Looney Tunes characters, and pictures of loved ones. Definitely tacky. Definitely smells like hooker boots.
But now, they’ve gone and done it. Asian-themed tattoos are the new tramp-stamps. Any sort of Asian writing (Japanese or Chinese writing seems to be quite the stamp) or Asian-themed designs (koi fish, white Bengal tigers, etc.) have now taken their place in the tramp-stamp book. The best is when I see a person toting around their "PEACE LOVE MUSIC" tattoo, which usually translates over to some randoms characters like "VITAMINS CORN PENCIL." Yikes.
All in all, enjoy the newfound warm weather, guys. But just don't become a fashion victim whilst doing it.
Friday, April 11, 2008
Fri.: 53°F, cloudy, rain
Sat.: 69°F, few showers
Sun.: 52°F, partly cloudy
Street Kings (starring: Keanu Reeves, Forest Whitaker, Hugh Laurie)
Prom Night (starring: Brittany Snow, Scott Porter)
Smart People (starring: Dennis Quaid, Sarah Jessica Parker, Ellen Page)
Umami Food Festival
Food tastings, chef round tables, art exhibitions, all in one place. Through the 18th. At Roulette, (20 Greene St., b/t Grand & Canal St) Call for tickets at 212-868-4444 or reserve online at smarttix.com.
88 Cent Manicures
For the ladies: Orchid Garden Spa (139 1st Ave, b/w 8th & 9th St), Friday, 4/11, 11am-9pm.
Grand opening special, manicures 88 cents, with this coupon.
We here at Life in Boxes have recently discovered one of the best blogs ever: Stuff White People Like.
The site regularly takes something white people like and breaks it down for the rest of us. I mean, like, why do white people like rugby?
Rugby’s greatest appeal lies in it’s uniforms.
Unlike other sports where jerseys are made out of nylon or mesh, Rugby jerseys are like thick sweatshirts with collars! In fact there is no other jersey on earth that can move so seamlessly from the playing field to the farmers market.
It's hilarious gems like these that makes the blog so great.
While this pseudo-reverse-racism is all taken with a grain of salt, it got me thinking, "How white am I?"
After perusing their list, I have found that I am 32/95 (33.68%) white. Not too shabby, I think.
How white are you?
People are often confused about me. People tell me they think I'm Brazilian, Arab, etc... However, none of it compares to what I heard on my most recent trip to Wendy's. As I'm getting out of my car, I notice this older guy staring at me. As I get closer he stops me and says, "Oh, I thought you were Andy Pettitte for a second."
Andy Pettitte is 6'5''. I am 5'7''. Andy weighs 225, I weigh 150. However, if you have trouble recognizing a difference of 10 inches, 75 pounds, and a considerable tan then I completely understand how you can get us confused. In this guy's defense, I was wearing an Andy Pettitte tee shirt. This is a common mistake. Look what happened to the guy on the video.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
In response to fellow Life in Boxes editor and fellow Office lover Julia's post below, today I also celebrate the return of our favorite show after a too-long hiatus. I haven't been this excited since... uh, September, when Season 4 premiered.
One of my favorite aspects of the show is the twisted Jim Halpert-Dwight K. Schrute relationship, which I enjoy as much as the Jim/Pam relationship. Entertainment Weekly put together 16 of Jim's best pranks on Dwight. It's hard to pick a favorite, I think mine's a tie between the Vending Machine prank (How funny is it to give Dwight a bag of nickels to buy back his own stuff??) and Future Dwight's fax to Present Dwight ("Do not drink the coffee!"). I also highly enjoy the Gaydar, which you can purchase at your local Sharper Image. ;)
Which one is your favorite?
P.S. - Sorry to our loyal readers who don't really watch the Office (but you really should) and are thrown off by a double post on the same topic. But we're really excited about tonight. Like really.
Do you have any plans tonight?
No? Oh, that's too bad. I guess you have no soul.
For anyone who does have a soul, they'll probably be glued onto their television sets tonight for the return of .. [dun dun dunn] .. The Office!
Here at Life in Boxes, it's been a bit of a running joke that another editor (Hi Jen!) and I are a little bit in love with The Office. We blogged about it here when the new season was airing. We continued on when the WGA strike put production in a standstill for 100 days. And yes, when our beloved show returns tonight, you bet your Tivo that we sure as hell are going to post about it today.
*semi-spoilers / links ahead
Tonight's episode is called "Dinner Party." From the spoilers read here and there online, as well as the recently added "cold opening" on the NBC website, it is pretty self-explanatory even in the episode title itself as to what's going on with our Dunder Mifflin friends tonight.
It'll be interesting to see how producers are going to hide Angela Kinsey's (who plays everyone's favorite cat-loving and party-planning extraordinarre, Angela Martin) burgeoning baby bump. According to recent interviews, expect to see Angela behind printers, behind the desk, etc. Aw, I guess the speculated pregnancy-lovechild story between Angela and Dwight won't be happening anytime [soon?].
Anyway, after weeks of waiting .. it's finally here. We can all breathe and start the countdown.
8 hours to go.