Monday, April 30, 2018

The Betsy DeVos Institute For Privileged Children

I made a new commercial lampooning US Department Of Education Secretary, Betsy DeVoss. It's basically a takedown of her handling of the Department and what her philosophy on Educational standards seems to be. Have a look for yourself:

Friday, April 27, 2018

Some Energy Bill Scammer Called Me

Some scammer offering to reduce my energy bill called me. I handed him over to "Otto". The scammer didn't want to hear about Otto's Beanie Baby collection, his lactose intolerance, or his tendency to crap his pants. The rep realized that he was out of his element and handed Otto off to a supervisor where Otto explained it all again.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Uranus Smells Like Rotten Eggs

If I were still in grade school, the latest news about the seventh planet in our solar system would make me laugh so hard, I'd get sent to the principal's office. Again. You see, scientists have recently discovered that Uranus' upper atmosphere is composed largely of hydrogen sulfide, the molecule that makes rotten eggs smell so stinky. So, essentially, Uranus smells like rotten eggs. Oh, the fun I would have had with this news back in the day:

"Hey, teacher! They say Uranus smells like rotten eggs! They're going to probe Uranus just to be sure!"


The funny thing is, Uranus is also an incredibly windy planet. Winds on Uranus can get up to around 1500 mph. So, basically, it's windy, it's a gas giant, and it's named Uranus. It's basically the gnarliest fart ever ripped in space.

Monday, April 23, 2018

A Walk Around Lafayette Cemetery #1

I had been thinking about my most recent trip to New Orleans and had been lamenting all of the things that we did not get to do while we were there. Easter Weekend put a pretty big crimp in our plans with lots of places closing early on Holy Thursday, remaining closed on Good Friday and through Easter Sunday. I had hoped to do a tour of the Old Ursuline Convent, but it was closed on Easter Monday. We had to settle for the Beauregard-Keyes house across the street. We actually hadn't meant to get a tour, I just had gone up to the porch in order to get a better picture of the Old Ursuline Convent and somehow got driven like stray cattle into the tour of the Beauregard-Keyes house.

One of the other things I had hoped to do was take a walk around Lafayette Cemetery #1. I have visited the site a number of times over the years and have a great story about the first time I went there in 2010 that deserves its own video and would a great into to a video tour of Lafayette Cemetery #1. Unfortunately, the itinerary got switched around too much due to Easter closings and we weren't able to get out there. Yet, while going through a bunch of my old, unpublished Youtube videos, I ran into a walkthrough I did of Lafayette Cemetery #1 back in 2012 with my brother, ChrisMac. I don't know why I never published the walkthrough. If I had to guess, it was because the wind ruined what little narration I was providing.

Still, it's a nice video, and I think it shows some beautiful tombs, thus, it deserves its time to shine. So, here it is, with some new background music in order to mask the heavy winds:


Thursday, April 19, 2018

A Quiet Place

I saw A Quiet Place is past weekend. It's a horror film directed by John Krasinski who also stars with his real-life wife Emily Blunt as parents who are trying to protect their family in a post-apocalyptic world where they must live in silence while hiding from creatures that hunt exclusively by sound. For such an intimate and simple story, this movie is really well crafted. Your experience in watching it is largely going to be dictated by your immediate environment in which your watching it. My daughter and I saw this in a packed theater on a Saturday night and the rattling of snack bags and the whispers of inconsiderate patrons and the occasional cell phone light really distracted from the experience. Still, I liked the movie overall and appreciated what it was trying to do and the message it was trying to convey (the importance of family, etc etc).

What I really liked about A Quiet Place was the amount of detail that has been put into executing the premise. That being said, the small touches that the movie uses makes it frustrating to think of the premise in a larger context. A Quiet Place starts out with everyone playing Monopoly using cloth tokens instead of the standard ones. Okay, so the fear is that monsters might hear the tokens being jaunted across the board and attack? If that's the case, then how does one handle snoring or farting which are noises that are certainly louder than token-skomping. And you can't tell me that the family can harvest the crops they are growing without making a sound greater than moving a Monopoly token, even if they do it by hand. If louder sounds in the vicinity mask the quieter sounds around them, then why not broadcast the sound of running water around the farm rather than worrying about running a lighting system?

There are a lot more nerdy nit-picks that I can make, and I'm sure that there are people out there more observant than me who can pick out even more than what I noticed. But, you can't let those nits take you out of the movie. So, turn off your brain, go to the theater when few people will be there, and go see A Quiet Place.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

A Tour Of A Toys R Us

Toys R Us is in the middle of closing all of their stores and liquidating all of their inventory. The thing about liquidation sales is that they don't automatically mean you'll be getting a super low price. At least, not right away. A liquidation sale means that merchandise that was marked down before the liquidation are no longer marked down. The original price of the merchandise goes back up to 100%, and then the price gradually falls. The liquidator will first mark items down to 10% off, then 20%, finally escalating to some actual deals that might even beat sale prices elsewhere.

When I visited the Toys R Us in Orland Park, IL, there liquidation sale was still at the 10% phase. A lot of merchandise was still on the shelves. The place was pretty active for an early Saturday night. Follow along with me as I take a quick tour of the Toys R Us in Orland Park, IL.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Lost In Space

I binge watched the new Netflix original series, Lost In Space, this weekend. It's based upon the television series from the '60s that follows the adventures of the Robinson family, stow-away Dr. Smith and The Robot aboard their ship, Jupiter 2, as they try to find their way to their colony in the Alpha Centauri system. The 2018 update has the family assigned to a colonial group with several other colonists and Jupiter vessels aboard a mothership named Resolute. Overall, the 2018 reboot series is pretty good and evokes some nice callbacks to the original Lost in Space series, including Billy Mummy, who played Will Robinson in the original series, playing the "real" Dr. Smith in the reboot.

I have to admit that I almost stopped watching the show during the pilot. The science was so far off, that I was finding it hard to suspend disbelief. For example:


  • Temperatures in the area that the Robinsons landed are stated to be -60 C. I can buy that their suits would keep them warm, but, I find it hard to believe that they could remove their helmets and not have the urge to at least cover their ears or the top of their heads somehow. 

  • Judy Robinson becomes trapped in a glacial lake that is rapidly freezing. In the show, the lake freezes from the bottom up. In actuality, water freezes from the top down. The lake she's in can't be liquid carbon dioxide because carbon dioxide can't exist in that state under standard Earth pressure/temperature. You'd need an atmospheric pressure of 5 times that of Earth's in order to get carbon dioxide to a liquid state. 

  • Will Robinson has the brilliant idea to ignite some magnesium to use as a heat source to melt the ice and free his sister. He says something along the lines of "Do you know what happens when magnesium meets ice? It burns even hotter". Problem is, that only happens with dry ice, which is frozen carbon dioxide (2Mg + CO2 -> 2MgO + C). 
Once you get past the pilot episode, the subsequent episodes are pretty good. I like the dysfunctional family dynamic, I like the slow reveal of what happened to Earth and the nature of the aliens. And I hate Dr. Smith in a way that I haven't hated a villain since Gaius Baltar on the Battlestar Galactica reboot or Kai Winn on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. I found the ending of the season finale to be a little bland and predictable, and I found the back and forth with the robot (He's gone....no he's back...no he's gone again....no he's back again..aaaaaaand GONE! For now!) to be a bit much. 

Overall, I think you'll enjoy Lost In Space if you can take the time to binge watch it and turn off your brain a little. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Car Warranty Scammer Calls Me

A rep from one of those fly-by-night car warranty companies called me. They call me about once a week and usually hang up once I start going into one of my characters. This time, however, the rep took the bait.

The rep asked for Thomas Mac and I then came on trying to sound like a crazy, doddering old man. She asks me about my Mustang and I start going on about the joys of driving a convertible. She asked how many miles I had on the Mustang and I tried to wax philosophical. I spent a good 10 minutes going off on tangents, the funniest being when I kept trying to figure the origin of her first name.  Whenever she'd try to connect me with a specialist, I'd misunderstand and start complaining about my medical problems.

Monday, April 9, 2018

The Top 5 Eggs Benedict In New Orleans

The dish known as Eggs Benedict, a breakfast dish consisting of two halves of an English muffin each topped with Canadian bacon or ham, a poached egg, and hollandaise sauce, was first popularized in New York City around the late 1800s. Several restaurants in New Orleans have their own take on the dish, and I have sampled many of them over the years. If you're as big of an Eggs Benedict fan as I am, then you might want to know where to find the best Eggs Benedict in New Orleans. The following list is my own opinion:

TommyMac's Best Eggs Benedict In New Orleans:

  1. Cafe Fleur-De-Lis: Hands down, the best Eggs Benedict in New Orleans. The spicy hollandaise sauce gives this take on the dish a good kick without being overwhelming and without significantly changing the nature of the dish. 

  2. The Old Coffee Pot: Their Chicken Benedict is a welcome deviation from the original. They replace the Canadian bacon with buttermilk chicken and the hollandaise sauce with biscuit gravy. 

  3. Cafe Pontabla: Their Cajun Benedict replaces the traditional Canadian bacon with spicy cajun sausage. 

  4. Stanley: Their Breaux Bridge Benedict features boudin, ham, American cheese, poached eggs, and Hollandaise on French bread.

  5. Court Of The Two Sisters: They use the classic recipe and they do it very well. Why try to improve upon perfection?

Friday, April 6, 2018

Yet Another Insurance Scammer Calls Me

I got a call from some rep pushing a "new, state of the art, pain relieving technology" sling to help relieve shoulder pain. She asked for "Thomas Mac" and I begged off and pushed her off to my "dad" who was the one with shoulder pain, Diksmash. Diksmash was all too happy to tell the rep about his shoulder pain. She asked if his pain was in his left or his right. Diksmash said it was in his shoulder. She attempted to clarify. He attempted to remember which bone his shoulder was connected to. She eventually gave up and asked about his insurance. She asked Diksmash if he was with Aetna. Diksmash said he once had a girlfriend named Edna, but that was years ago and he figured she was dead by now. The rep said "No...." and Diksmash jumped to the conclusion that she was saying that his girlfriend was alive! He was so excited, he had to tell his son right away that his girlfriend was alive! The rep said she didn't know Diksmash's girlfriend which made him very mad. The rep muttered something and hung up.


Thursday, April 5, 2018

The Best Bread Puddings In New Orleans

Among other things, New Orleans is famous for its bread pudding. Nearly every restaurant in town offers some variation on it. And, I'm a huge fan of it. Over the years, and over this specific trip, I've sampled a lot of bread pudding in New Orleans. Who has the best bread pudding in New Orleans? Well, that's subjective. But, for my money, the best bread pudding in New Orleans comes down to five places:

TommyMac's Top 5 Bread Puddings in New Orleans:

1) Commander's Palace
2) Red Fish Grill
3) Bon Ton Cafe
4) Muriel's
5) Napoleon House

Now, hands down, the bread pudding at the Commander's Palace is the best bread pudding in New Orleans. At $25 a serving, it's rather pricey for what you get. So, when considering the dollars to deliciousness ratio, the bread pudding at Red Fish Grill is probably your best bet. 

I'm told that I also need to try the bread pudding at Copeland's, Mother's and Dookey Chase's. We'll save those for next time.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

The Sights And Sounds Of Jackson Square

I have to admit, Jackson Square is one of my favorite places in all of New Orleans. French colonists originally created the area as Place D'Armes (Weapon's Square). When the Spanish took over New Orleans, they called it Plaza De Armas. After the Great New Orleans Fire in 1788, the Spanish rebuilt the adjoining St. Louis Cathedral and the Cabildo (where the Louisiana Purchase was signed). In 1815, to honor Colonel Andrew Jackson's victory in the Battle Of New Orleans, the area was re-named to Jackson Square and statue representing Colonel Jackson was erected in the middle of the square.

The area regularly plays host to a number of painters, musicians, psychics and other artistic individuals at any given time. My daughter and I grabbed some sandwiches from Nola Po'Boys on Bourbon Street and headed over to Jackson Square to eat them and people watch. The video I took should give you a good idea of what Jackson Square is like.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

A Tour Of St. Louis Cemetery #2

St. Louis Cemetery No 2 is located on Claiborne Ave,  just a few blocks from St. Louis Cemetery No 1 between St. Louis Street and Iberville Street. It's divided into two sections due to Bienville Street  being run through it later in its existence. Some famous people interred here include: The Venerable Mother Henriette DeLille (a current candidate for Sainthood with one officially recognized miracle credited to her), Oscar Dunn (Louisiana's first African American Lt. Governor) as well as a number of politicians and soldiers.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Walking Down Bourbon Street

Most of the streets in the New Orleans French Quarter are named after French royal houses and Catholic saints. Of course, the most recognizable and famous street in all of New Orleans is Bourbon Street. Named for the ruling house of France at the time, The Bourbons, Bourbon Street quickly became notorious for its brothels, saloons and gambling parlors. After WWII, efforts to clean up Bourbon Street started to mount, culminating in the 1970s when Mayor Landrieu turned it into a pedestrian mall in order to stimulate tourism. The next 20 years saw Bourbon Street turned into a tourist trap nicknamed Creole Disney with the proliferation of souvenir shops and corporate ventures. There's still a bit of a seedy side to Bourbon Street these days. There are some strip clubs and adult stores among all the restaurants, bars and shops lining the streets. And, on any given night, you never know what you'll see from one of the balconies along the route. But, on a Monday night at 8am, I figured it would be tame enough to bring my daughter along for a video walking tour.

A couple of highlights of the walking tour include me catching some beads at around 5:34 and me holding the sign for Huge Ass Beers at about 10:10

Sunday, April 1, 2018

A Tour Of St. Louis Cemetery #3

We took a trek out to New Orleans City Park today. On our way, we stopped at St. Louis Cemetery #3 and did a quick video tour. Opened in 1894, St. Louis Cemetery #3 is much better organized than its counterparts. It was flooded during Hurricane Katrina but most of the tombs sustained only minor damage. Famous people entombed here include ragtime composer Paul Sarebresole, photographer E. J. Bellocq, and painter Ralston Crawford.

If you're in the vicinity, make sure to also stop by The Luling Mansion and Pitot House.