Viking Cherry Noble Bar

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This review is actually fulfilling a request made by a friend in the army that spent  some time stationed at Ft. Lewis in Tacoma, WA. That information is relevant, because Washington is just about the only place you can find these natural energy bars at a retail store, and supposedly they’re really popular among the troops stationed in the area. There are several flavors to choose from, but luckily he brought me a Viking Cherry to try because the only other way to get hold of these is to order at least a box of 12 via Paypal for $25 plus shipping.

The idea behind these bars is actually pretty novel. Dana, the founder of Noble Bar, did some research to discover what ingredients were widely consumed by various civilizations. He then took those ingredients and combined them in his kitchen to create bars people from said civilization might have eaten. With this in mind, I bit into my Viking Cherry and imagined I was one of those badass longship oarsman starving for energy instead of a slightly overweight American blogger writing a deprecating review of Farmville.

My initial assessment of the bar was pretty positive; first taste impressions were that of Ocean Spray Craisins and birdseed. Some may find that profile slightly off-putting, but I really enjoyed it. The bar was perfectly chewy, and a little more moist than I was anticipating. At 2 ounces it’s a little smaller than a PowerBar, yet still surprisingly filling. I can’t attest to it’s energy rejuvenating powers, though, since I move around about as much as a centenarian just coming off a double hip replacement surgery.

I don’t know it they’re quite worth +$2.00 per bar, but considering the company is basically one guy and their production capabilities are limited, I can’t fault the price too much. I would recommend anyone in the Washington area, or anyone searching for novelty energy bars, give one of these a try, but they’re not necessarily a “must have” for the rest of us.

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Farmville

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I’m pretty sure at this point the only people in the world not familiar with Farmville are my aunt Vicky and my 7th grade art teacher that hardly knew the difference between a computer keyboard and a bingo card. In fact, a recent Kansas City Star article claims that the game commands 73 million dedicated ‘farmers’ worldwide! That’s every single person living in Texas, New York, Florida, and North Carolina combined!  To further put that astronomic number into perspective, Blizzard, the company that manufactures World of Warcraft, announced a year ago that their incredibly popular game only reached 11.5 million users worldwide.

As far as the game itself, it’s easy to see how people that otherwise have no idea what a cotton seed even looks like initially become addicted to the game. The graphics are cute enough, and players are handsomely rewarded with 4-H county fair ribbons. Soon enough though, anyone with any semblance of a life away from their computer realizes that the game is more tedious than shaving your body with fingernail clippers. Small, manageable, plots soon turn into gigantic plantations or feed lots that command 30 minutes or more of attention at a time. Frustratingly, harvesting crops/animals isn’t a simple click and you’re done process. Zynga, the evil masterminds behind the Farmville scam, require you to individually click on each plot/animal and navigate a little menu to harvest! Even more frustrating, though, is that expiration dates on the crops require even the most casual farmer to check their farm on a regular basis. Sadly, people let this monotonous chore dictate their daily schedules.

I can understand how someone could enjoy the small pleasures of Farmville at first, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s downright shameful to continue playing the game after a couple weeks. This phrase is a bit cliche, but I can’t think of a better application for it; Friends shouldn’t let friends play Farmville.

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Avatar

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I will be the first person to admit, that before Avatar’s premiere, I thought for sure it would flop harder than You Don’t Mess With The Zohan. Granted, I didn’t have a whole lot to judge the movie on other than that damn Coke-Zero commercial, but there’s just not a whole lot about blue, giant-arrow-shooting, cat-people that I find particularly interesting. With the commercial’s odd looking creatures and large mechanized flying machines, I just saw Avatar as a sequel to all the worst parts (Jar Jar Binks) of The Phantom Menace shoved together. I had assumed that director James Cameron’s “revolutionary” 3D technique was just a gimmick, and I wasn’t about to put on goofy headache-inducing red and blue glasses to watch a glorified 3D movie that belongs at Six Flags.

My entire attitude changed one I read this review, and suddenly I was open to checking it out. My buddy found tickets for about $15 at a relatively close IMAX theater, so we decided to go see it on opening night. The “IMAX Experience” thick-rimmed glasses we received at the door weren’t red and blue, but still made everyone look like Harry Caray. At first, I was pretty disappointed in them (and at Gizmodo for writing such a persuasive review of the 3D technology) when the IMAX in 3D advertisement ran, only to find out shortly that the 3D advertisement was inexplicably shown in plain old 2D! This was realized just as the movie began, as the true 3D effect was completely unmistakable!

It was like nothing I’d ever seen before!* The CG was absolutely incredible! If it weren’t for the super advanced electronics, un-natural fauna and flora, and 8 foot tall blue cat people, I would have had a hard time figuring out which scenes were filmed and which were computer generated! I remember one scene vividly that made me feel uncomfortable. The depth in the shot was so extreme, my instinctual fear of heights made me clench both arm rests next to me!

Ignoring the monumental 3D aspect of the movie for a moment, I’m not sure how well the story would appeal to a wide range of audiences. For example, I’m a huge science fiction fan (and Fern Gully fan, for which most of the movie seems inspired by), but I’m not sure how much I would enjoy the almost 3 hour long movie if I had seen it in 2D. Several scenes seem relatively unimportant, but what’s there to complain about? They’re in freaking three dimensions! I can’t help but wonder though, if the appeal of this movie is simply due to the fact that it’s technologically the first of its kind. 20 years down the line, when 3D movies are mainstream, will Avatar be considered amongst the best?

It’s for those reasons that I wouldn’t recommend anyone see this outside of a 3D IMAX theater. If you do have the means to catch it in all its technological glory, certainly make a point to. Just remember, watching Avatar in 2D would be like buying a Corvette with an automatic transmission; you’d be missing the entire point.

*Not technically true, since I see things in 3D on pretty much a daily basis.

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Brothers

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I’m going to go ahead and get this out of way in the first sentence: this movie is not the feel-good movie of winter. Repeat, Brothers is intense, and not the movie you should take your grandmother to go see when she’s in town for the holidays. It’s about as much as a ‘war movie’ as Transformers is, but the emotionally charged script would make it difficult to watch for persons that could identify with the characters.  Although supporting actor Jake Gyllenhaal doesn’t think the premise of the story is all that realistic, I still wouldn’t recommend anyone in, or thinking about joining, the Armed Services let their girlfriends, wives, or mothers go anywhere near this film.

Warnings aside, Brothers is well done and worth at least renting in the future.  Jake Gyllenhaal and Tobey Maguire convincingly play rough-neck brothers, but in my mind, the best acting performance of the film is by 10 year old Bailee Madison, who put a 12 year old Miley Cyrus to shame.  Maguire still manages to fit several blank stares into the film, and several story-lines seem to abruptly end before they’re resolved.  I had the feeling towards the end of the movie that director Jim Sheridan was simply giving as many emotional scenes as possible to his big-name actors in the attempt to glean some awards for their performances.

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Worth Xtra-Dri Power Shirt

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The first thing to realize about this shirt is that it isn’t at just shirt; it’s a Power Shirt.  Made by Worth, this Xtra-Dri® “compression performance garment” is made by some super secret NATUREXX® material.  So secret and awesome, Worth felt the need to take the word ‘nature,’ throw a pair of x’s on the end of it, capitalize every letter, then register the entire monstrosity on the off-chance  another company  would think to do the exact same.  It’s doubly amusing since the fabric is about the furthest thing from ‘nature’ that I could imagine.  It’s pretty much just lycra, but really thin, and it doesn’t really do much compressing.

Although it’s not much of a compression shirt, it’s still super comfortable.  The cut seems slightly larger than a cotton shirt of the same size, and the color is super bright.  I’m just saying, I wouldn’t recommend wearing it while participating in the Running of the Bulls. I would recommend it for stop sign Halloween costumes and off duty firemen, though.

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