Tuesday, December 27

Hershey's Miniatures Candy Bar Rankings

As the Christmas season comes to a close, it is time for the only list that really matters. After weeks of deliberation and debate, I present to you the rankings for Hershey's mini candy bars, a Brandt family staple.

4. Krackel Bar. Don't even bother with this scourge of the mixed candy world. Low quality chocolate, mixed with some sort of cereal extract makes for a terrible candy. It simply has a cheap texture that is all but pleasing to the taste buds. A poor man's Crunch bar, if you will. People who enjoy infomercials and cheap knifes will get a kick out of this cavity facilitator.

3. Milk Chocolate. The classic chocolate candy. Just a great mix of smooth textures and sweet taste. You can't go wrong with this American icon, but when compared to the rest of the mix, it falls to third place. Consider it a Ford Fusion, that has to compete against a Mercedes-Benz and an Escalade.

2. Special Dark. They say eating a little dark chocolate every day helps your heart. Or your blood pressure. Or your eyesight. I have no idea what health benefits this candy has, but I do know that it tastes really good. It was meant to be eaten slowly and savored. Let the strong cocoa flavorings take control of your taste buds as you melt into a chocolaty world of friendship and happiness. This bar is good, and good for you (I think).

1. Mr. Goodbar. I don't know who Mr. Goodbar is, or why he got into the candy game, but I do know he makes killer chocolate. The combination of peanuts and chocolate wasn't enough for 'ol Goodbar; he had to take those peanuts and chop them up into smaller, more manageable bits, and mingle them with the quality milk chocolate I already discussed. The texture is unmatched in candy circles; even Kit-Kat has been notably jealous. Mr. Goodbars are the first candy I go for when that plastic bag is ripped open, freeing all that chocolaty goodness (except Krackel bars, of course). Thank you, Mr. Goodbar, for making my days merry and my seasons bright.

There you have it, the official Swimmers Itch rankings. Tune in next time as I rank the best shape of gingerbread man (arms up, arms down or arms outstretched?)

By Aaron Brandt, who would have at least consulted a lawyer about the deal Willy Wonka offered before turning it down at the end of that creepy movie/book. 

Thursday, December 22

Albums of the Year 2011

Here are my top 15 albums of the year. This is purely my opinion, based on how much I like the music, rather than what some hipster's blog or tumblr might say. For my tastes, it was a terrific year. All of my favorite artists (even Justin Bieber)  put out albums this year, making 2011 a solid year for music.

15. Every Avenue- Fall Apart
14. The Foo Fighters- Wasting Light
13. Frank Ocean- Nostalgia/Ultra
12. Drake- Take Care
11. Panic! At the Disco- Vices & Virtues

10. The Maine- Pioneer- The Maine came back quickly from their last album to further advance their sound. Pioneer is a very rock-y, upbeat album with a lot of heart. Lead singer John O'Callaghan has one of the better voices in pop-punk. Standout songs: Like We Did (Windows Down), Identify, When I'm At Home, Misery.

9. Yellowcard- When You're Through Thinking, Say Yes- Yellowcard returned from an extended hiatus to put out an album full of nostalgia. The band seems to have gotten comfortable within it's summer pop-punk sound, and Ryan Key's vocals carried the band to right where they left off with Paper Walls.

8. Mayday Parade- Mayday Parade- After ditching the co-writers, the band's newest album sounds a lot more like Mayday Parade used to back in the day. The album is full of youthful passion and catchy choruses, not to mention a few guitar solos. Standouts: Everything's an Illusion, Call Me Hopeless, But Not Romantic, A Shot Across the Bow.

7. Go Radio- Lucky Street- When Jason Lancaster left Mayday Parade, he formed this band, and continued the top notch songwriting that Mayday fans were used to. His voice alone screams emotion, and coupled with terrific lyrics and guitar work that usually cannot be found in this genre, this album is everything that Mayday Parade could have been. Standouts: Fight, Fight, Reach for the Sky, Redemption in the Verse, Kill the Beast.

6. Twin Atlantic- Free- The Irish accent only adds to this band's desperate lyrics and sound. Extremely catchy hooks and fast paced rhythms make for a terrific album from this underrated band.Standouts: Apocalyptic Renegade, Crash Land, Free.

5. Angels and Airwaves- Love Part II- The second part of Angels and Airwaves' dramatic cinematic project turned out to be better than Part I. The lyrics seemed a little more focused and the emphasis on the synthesizer proved to add a little more spacey vibes than usual. Crawl, Saturday Love, One Last Thing.

4. blink-182- Neighborhoods- When blink came back, I had the highest expectations, based off of their last album. Of course they could never live up to that, but the trio still managed to put out a solid collection of songs. I think the next album will have more focus and feel much more cohesive, but for now, I'm just glad they are back making music. Standouts: After Midnight, Snake Charmer, Even If She Falls, Kaleidoscope

3. Coldplay- Mylo Xyloto- Coldplay put out another stadium rock album, which is right up my alley. The songs are simply massive, obviously meant to fill up stadiums as they film live DVD's and make millions. But what makes this album great is the more subtle songs that remind me of Parachutes. This is the type of album that you can listen to and find something new every time. Standouts: Charlie Brown, Don't Let it Break Your Heart, Us Against the World, Every Teardrop is a Waterfall.

2. The Dangerous Summer- War Paint- This is one of the most underrated bands in rock music. The songs are full of passion, from the lead singer's voice, to the lyrics, to the guitar riffs themselves. They could use a little more variety, but they seemed to have nailed the formula they have been working on for the past few albums. Siren, Miscommunication, War Paint.

1. Bon Iver- Bon Iver- Is is a cliche to say this is the best album of the year? Probably. But that's how good it it. Justin Vernon has the ability to control emotions; taking listeners to a dreary day in Minnesota, where there's three feet of snow on the ground. At least, that's how I felt. The lyrics are just understandable enough to relate to, but also deep enough to wonder what Vernon is talking about, and the sound itself is about as American as you can get without using a banjo or fiddle. There is lots of variety between each song, yet it feels like a very cohesive album. Standouts: Calgary, Perth, Beth/Rest, Holocene, every other song on the album.

Friday, December 9

Why the Chris Paul trade was denied

Recently, a huge trade involving Chris Paul, Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom and a few others was rejected by NBA commissioner David Stern. Watch the short video that explains it all if you live under a rock and don't know what I am talking about. Dangling preposition.

This seems fishy to me. Here are a few possible explainations for this trade to be rejected.
  1. E! paid off David Stern so that Lemar Odom would stay in Los Angeles with his annoying wife so she can do annoying Best Buy advertisements and continue to be on her annoying shows on that annoying network. 
  2. The candy market in New Orleans isn't good enough to fuel Odom's addiction. Major candy lobbyists in LA stepped in and made sure this deal kept their largest client in the city of angels. 
  3. Bush was doing a flyover of New Orleans and remarked, "Ya know, it's been a while since I took the blame for ruining this city." Ray Nagan was mysteriously unavailable for comment.
  4. The Lakers wanted Kris Humphries in the deal, but soon realized how terrible he is at basketball and it all fell apart. They contacted Stern to take the blame for such a terrible miscalculation. LOL Chris Humphries. 
  5. Justin Bieber nixed the deal as a Christmas gift to Selena Gomez. She is a huge Pau Gason fan. Biebs gets what he wants. 
  6. The Miami Marlins made a better offer to Chris Paul, offering him $300 million and a mini Hummer golf cart just to be the guy that opens and closes the roof on the new Marlins ballpark. Take that, Yankees. You don't even have a roof.
  7. Lil Wayne refused the deal, stating “Had a lot of moments that didn’t last forever, now you’re in the corner tryin’ to put it together – how to love.” The only ones who got that reference were the staff writers at Pitchfork and Birdman.
  8. Mark Zuckerberg stole the idea of the trade from Eduardo Saverin and it ended in a lawsuit. 
  9. David Stern's brain was claimed by the Players Association as part of the lockout deal. They gambled it away a few days later in Vegas. 
  10. Basically what happened was Michigan State played Wisconsin for the Big Ten title and lost, which threw off the time-space continuum (because State fans cried about it too much), resulting in a alternate reality version Jason Richardson winning another NCAA title, forcing Chris Paul to go to MSU, which led him to get drafted later (because Izzo ruined him) and he plays for the Spurs now. The ripples from that reality came over to our own reality and altered the trade in such a way that it could not be done. Or at least that's what I learned in Mr. Dumar's high school physics class. Sparty On! (dangling preposition)
  11. David Stern is a hack.
Bonus- 12. Tim Tebow made the final call, because Tebow knows best. Tebow! Hashtag Tebow! #tebow

Yes, I know the banner at the top is messed up. I'll fix it, but you can blame Ron Paul for it in the meantime.

By Aaron Brandt, who thinks the moon landing was an inside job by the government as an excuse to go to war with the South. #conspiracy 

Friday, November 25

Salads: The villain of Thanksgiving

I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving. I sure did, besides the fact that the Lions blew it again and Suh is an idiot. However, I would like to take a minute to discuss one of the key issues facing the stomachs of Americans all over the country. Salads.

I simply do not see the point of salads and I never have in the past. Traditionally, the salad comes before the meal; an appetizer, if you will. However, I find nothing appetizing about salads whatsoever. Salad is glorified grass, served with a few shrived vegetables and doused in a sauce of fat, sodium and high fructose corn syrup. Basically, salad is cow food for humans.

You could eat salad all day, and never get full. In fact, world champion speed eaters consume mass amounts of lettuce in order to expand their stomachs due to the fact that salad has almost no nutritional value. The only way it tastes respectable is if it is covered in heart attack syrup. So why would I want to eat anything with no taste or satisfaction? Beats me.

And rarely is salad fresh. Nothing says yum like some limp brown leaves and soggy tomatoes. Even fresh salad has its drawbacks. The fresher the salad, the more likely a boll weevils will be crawling all over it, ready to occupy 100% of your household food items when they catch a ride from Olive Garden to your house.

I move to abolish salad. I am not a horse, content with whatever plant scraps my trainer throws at me; I want to enjoy an appetizing appetizer. Give me some nice Italian bread or at least an onion ring or two. Real food. None of this pointless salad business. Do you think the Pilgrims messed around with salad? No, they were too busy killing live animals with guns and cooking them over fire to waste time preparing a tedious salad. America. (Technically the new world at the time.)

By Aaron Brandt, frustrated salad eater.

Thanks to Mara (below average texter) for the topic.

Wednesday, November 16

Why I don't own an umbrella

Way back in 2008, I was going over my list of junk to bring to college. Toothpaste, underwear, Lord of the Rings complete extended edition on DVD; you know, the usual. My mother suggested that I bring an umbrella in case it rains while I'm walking to class. Being the independent 18 year-old I was at the time, I scoffed and rejected such a ridiculous offer. Well mom, looks like I had good reason to deny that umbrella. 

The Reflector A man reported to be carrying a gun toward ECU’s campus actually was carrying an umbrella, officials said today. Reports that he was carrying a gun prompted a three-hour long lockdown of East Carolina University and a large search of campus and surrounding area by armed police. Officials ended the lockdown just before 1 p.m., and an e-mail from Chancellor Steve Ballard said the reports turned out to be unfounded. Campus was locked down following two 10 a.m. reports that the man was walking on Fifth Street downtown toward campus. A search produced no arrest, officials said, and no hostage situations took place. Police confirmed at a news briefing at 1:30 p.m. that the man had a large umbrella in his backpack that people mistook for a rifle. Scores of armed police, with guns and rifles drawn and pointed, searched city and university buses, the Rivers Building and other campus facilities, the downtown area and a residential area near campus.

See, when you bring an umbrella to class, you send your school into lock down mode for three hours and find yourself face down on the pavement with an entire SWAT army pointing automatic weapons at you. Is that really worth it? I'll put up my hood and forge through the worst of what West Michigan has to offer if it means not getting shot in the name of dry clothing.

By Aaron Brandt, anti-umbrella, anti-get-mistaken-for-a-terrorist.

Wednesday, October 19

Wild animals on the loose in Ohio!

"Townspeople hid indoors Wednesday as deputies with high-powered rifles hunted down and killed lions, bears, tigers and dozens of other exotic beasts that escaped from a wild-animal park after the owner threw their cages open and committed suicide. After an all-night hunt that extended into the afternoon, nearly all of the 50 or so escaped animals had been either gunned down or captured alive, authorities said. As of midafternoon, the only animals still on the loose were a wolf and a monkey, according to the sheriff's office." The Denver Post

Typical Ohio. Letting some nut job stockpile some of the world's most dangerous animals until he lets them all out and then kills himself. I worked at a zoo all summer, so I consider myself to be an expert when it comes to taming wild beasts, and even I think this is ridiculous. You could just be running along the road, training for the Cleveland Marathon, and BOOM, you are trampled by a giraffe and eaten by a lion. No time to even fight back. I blame LeBron.

And of course animal rights activists are up in arms over the sheriff's order to shoot and kill the animals on the lamb (pun). I mean, we don't want to hurt those innocent animals as they tear through the local elementary school, would we? In reality, we have a once in a life time opportunity here. People pay thousands to travel to Africa for a chance to shoot some big game, but now you can hop in the car for a few hours and fire away at all the safari creatures you want! If I lived in Ohio, I'd be setting bait traps and spike pits like I was Tom Hanks on Castaway. Just hoping for my one moment of glory. Babe Winkleman's Outdoor Secrets will be all over that.

Also, I picture the rouge monkey and wolf as best friends. Like, they are smarter than all the other animals, so they decided to work together. The monkey rides on the wolf's back, terrorizing the country side with pranks and other nonsense, and when the situation gets heavy, the wolf goes all White Fang on everyone and then it's back to monkey business.  Just two wild animal bros having a great time in Ohio. The same cannot be said for Roary the Lion over there...

By Aaron Brandt, who received a "B" in his high school PE archery unit. Bull's eye. 

PS. Ohio apparently can't spell "animals" when it matters most? Ani Als.

Tuesday, October 18

Words with Fronds

An original artwork by Aaron Brandt.
By Aaron Brandt, Mt. Clemens Library Scrabble champion 2002.

Monday, October 17

This week in music

Here is a smattering of sound waves, a proverbial who's who of musical artists and brand new songs currently shuffling through my iPod, which Steve Jobs himself forged at Mordor with his bare hands. Click the links to legally listen to each song. Some of them are so piping hot fresh that there are no YouTube links. So find it yourself.

1. Princess of China- Coldplay (feat. Rihanna)
2. Verses the Mirror- States (Happy birthday, Molly)
3. Toes- Lights
4. Without You- David Guetta (feat. Usher)
5. Call me Hopeless, But Not Romantic- Mayday Parade
6. Where I Belong- Switchfoot
7. Crash- You Me At Six
8. All That Comes Out of My Mouth- Carolina Liar
9. Radiosurgery- New Found Glory
10. After Midnight- blink-182
11. Television- Jack's Mannequin

12. Slightly old jam- Crawl- Kings of Leon

13. Really old jam-Chicago is so Two Years Ago- Fall Out Boy

14. Mashup/Dubstep/House jam- Paper Towels- Kap Slap

By Aaron Brandt, copy/paste expert. 

Saturday, October 15

Michigan vs. Michigan State: The ugly aftermath

So I don't know if any of you heard, but Michigan State beat Michigan 28-14 and I found the resulting Facebook/Twitter response more than humorous. Let me go over the classic reaction/war of words between Michigan and State fans.

MSU Fan: "Hey Michigan, we beat you 28-14! Four years in a row, little sister!"

Michigan fan: "Yeah, but we are 67-33-5 overall against your sorry school."

MSU Fan: "I don't care about the past. What was the score this year, little sister?"

Michigan fan: "We are still smarter than all of you anyway. You go to a farm school."

MSU fan: "Yeah? Your girls are all ugly, little sister."

Michigan fan: "At least we don't play dirty like you guys do."

MSU Fan: "We overcame all 13 of those penalties and you still lost by 14, little sister."

Michigan Fan: "At least we didn't cheat like you guys did 10 years ago. Spartan Bob."

MSU fan: "Scoreboard. Let's play basketball, little sister."

Michigan fan: "Your program is not elite."

MSU fan: "Your quarterback is not elite."

Michigan fan: "Why don't you go burn a couch."

MSU fan: "All of your fans are Walmart Wolverines."

Michigan Fans: "Because our school's standards are so high. That's why you didn't go here. You couldn't get in with your GPA. Go deliver my pizza"

MSU Fan: "Who won the game again?"

Michigan Fan: "We should have because you guys are cheaters. And your uniforms are ugly. That's not even your school's colors."

MSU Fan: "You don't even have a mascot."

Michigan Fan: "You will work for me someday."

MSU Fan: "You will...You...We...What was the score?

Michigan fan: "You smell bad."

MSU Fan: "You smell worse."

Michigan fan: "Want to stop pretending we care about football so much, and watch the Tigers game tonight?"

MSU Fan: "Sure."

Michigan fan: "Ok, save a pizza for the game, after you are done with your delivery route."

By Aaron Brandt, noted college football rivalry dialog writer.

Picture credit: Dale G. Young/The Detroit News

Tuesday, October 4

The TBS strikezone is wrong!

I hate that stupid little box on the right side of the screen called Pitch TRAX, that displays balls and strikes. During playoff games, it sits there, flashing every single pitch. But who died and made this computer king? Instead of actually watching the game and understanding the nuances of an individual umpire's strike zone and style, we blindly depend on some computer made by the same network that gives us Meet the Browns? Why? If you paid any attention, it was clear to see that the computer was not always perfect. But there it was, acting as the be all end all when it came to balls and strikes.

Take a look at the called strike zone by umpire Wes Gerry Davis. Yankees fans and Tigers fans alike complained about how off the calls were. Well, maybe if they paid attention to the game, and not the computer program that Tyler Perry put together while filming Madea Goes to McDonalds, the haters would have seen the consistency. In fact, it appears as if the Tigers got the smaller strike zone. But not accoridng to the technology that Stuey Griffin programmed. Baseball isn't a game of perfection. There are so many wrinkles that change day to day, such as the strike zone, first base calls and even the way the infield dirt is watered. To get worked up about balls and strikes based on the interpretaion of a computerized system that is clearly flawed is futile. Just watch the game, friends.

By Aaron Brandt, who is trying to repair all the floorboards on the Tigers' overloaded bandwagon. Tigers in 4, 5 or Yankees in 5. Game, set, match. Fried.

P.S. I am writing this blog in my sports writing class while watch a documentary about professional wrestling. Yes, I am improving my writing by not paying attention in my writing class. Tuition money at work, people.

P.P.S. Get baseball off TBS.

Friday, September 23

Writer's Block: The Musical

I open a new blog post. Blank page. No ideas. No motivation. Glancing at the white text box I see my enemy, that little blinking bar in the top left corner. It just sits there, flashing it's skinny frame at a regular interval, taunting me, "Hey, Brandt, when was the last time you blogged? August? You're no blogger. You are a hack. Go back to using Twitter with the rest of the bad writers." I can momentary silence his vitriol by typing a few meaningless words, but he comes right back, knowing that those characters have no purpose or direction.

Technically this pixelated demon is called an insertion point, but who really cares. He is nothing more than a reminder that I have not blogged about anything significant since July (hello Cru, and your nebulous new name), aside from a few stupid pictures and a few average video clips. And Mr. Insertion Point knows it. He knows that I haven't had time to write a decent blog. He knows I haven't even been looking for topics. And he knows that I have resorted to asking the Facebook world for topics. Oh the humanity.

So what am I going to do about it? I will kill Mr. IP. He is a dead man. I will forge through this drought of creativity and thought with shotgun blasts of words and paragraphs. I'll set up a hotline for people to call in and request topics. I'll open a P.O box so anyone can mail me ideas. I'll hire a staff to scour the web for interesting stories that I can obliterate with sarcastic salvos. Topics on topics. Posts on posts. Blogs on blogs. It might get messy,  but I am willing to try anything to rid my dreams of IP's haunting regularity. Blink. Blink. Blink. Blink. Enjoy it while you can, digital spawn of Bill Gates. I'm putting you out of a job like Steve Jobs.

By Aaron Brandt, who just bought a new set of Pilot G2 pens (blue). 

Saturday, September 3

New Chipotle ad "Back to the Start"

Has anyone seen the new ad from Chipotle? Here it is.

I think this is one of the best advertisements for fast food in a while. People love cute little animated animals, Willie Neslon, Coldplay and happy endings; this ad has it all. The music is set perfect to the video, and Nelson's voice gives the song a purely American twist. I don't know if anyone has seen how meat is processed these days, but it is enough to make you only eat vegetables for the rest of your life.

What the ad really does well is forge an emotional connection to Chipotle. In the ad, the Chipotle farmer is he hero, saving all the animals from steroids, chemicals and general abuse from modern food processing. The viewer feels for the animals, and when they are released, the viewer cannot help but see Chipotle as one of the good guys. Instead of trying to sell one new product, Chipotle sells itself as a whole organization. Therefore any new product that comes out will be associated and directly connects to this advertisement.

When I first heard Willie Nelson was covering a Coldplay song (one of the best songs of all time), I was skeptical. But this ad really hit its mark in reversing the common perception that all food is processed in a way that would make a garbage man cringe. I think my grandma would even like this commercial. Solid advertising.

By Aaron Brandt, who is not a vegetarian, country music fan or supporter of PETA. 

Monday, August 15

Rapidfire Round Two

I asked for topics. Thanks for your responses. Here goes.

Pizza Toppings- Should be limited to either pepperoni, green peppers or chicken. Anything else is just trying too hard.
Custodians- The unsung heroes of America. They do everything we don't want to, including clean up the women's bathroom, which are always dirtier than the men's bathrooms.
Hipsters- I don't have a problem with hipsters, as long as they keep their hand rolled cigs out of my airspace and tone down the condescending looks because I wear Nike's 94% of the time. I like some of your music, excluding Vampire Weekend. Or did they sell out too much already to be considered hipster? Yes? Well I still can't stand them.
Cassie Wygant- Some girl that I know that wanted me to blog about her. Enjoy your five minutes of fame.
Divit- Some girl that wanted me to blog about her's dog. Sorta looks like a rat. Might actually be a rat.
Toads and their blankets- A reference to a comment by a girl who wanted me to blog about her regarding the fact that she considered bricks to be "toad blankets." I cannot make this up, folks.
Hummingbirds- How do they do it? Flying around all paranoid and such. Chill out, bird, the fake plastic flower feeder thing's gonna be there tomorrow, no mater how fast you flutter your little wings.
Copper Beech- The place in which I live. I have to be careful what I say, or the main office will call and vaguely threaten a lawsuit. So umm, yeah, it's a great place to live...
Twilight- I haven't read the books or seen the movies, but I do know that everyone hates the main character because she is a bad person. I can't get into that. And Taylor Lautner is in that movie, right? The kid who everyone thinks is going to GVSU next year? Yeah, because a millionaire actor would enroll in a DII university. For what, an advertising and PR degree? (happy, Susín?) Ok. Besides, we have Lautner look-alike Mark Riashi Jr. already.
Color blindness- I've always wondered, do we perceive colors differently? Like, when I see red, is that actually your blue? Are we all color blind? What is it like to live on the planet Kamino and have the ability to see into the ultraviolet spectrum? Did Han shoot first?
Sporks (more spoon or fork?)- Are you blind? Obviously more spoon. I'll be honest, anything you can do with a spork, I can do with a spoon. The prongs on a spork aren't big enough to stab anything worth stabbing. Spoons on spoons on spoons.
Sex in the City- Never seen it, never will.
VHS Tapes- Classic. However, I don't miss constantly having to press the tracking button. Actually I don't miss anything about VHS tapes. What is a VHS tape?
Is camping in a trailer really camping? Are you kidding me? If you think camping in a trailer is really camping, then you must think that power walking is running. No, camping is done in tents, without electricity or running water, or bathrooms. Camping means you cook your own food, poop in a hole in the ground and brush your teeth with dirt. Don't come to me with your "camping" inside of a mobile building. Go back to some barren parking lot and drink Busch Light with the rest of the rednecks.
What exactly is a rack? A rack is slang for one thousand dollars. So apparently rapper Young Chris has thousands upon thousands upon thousands of dollars, according to his song.
#hashtags- A cool way to make parts of a tweet stand out. However, using this in any other situation, such as on Facebook, MySpace or college research papers is downright #unacceptable. Follow me on Twitter. http://twitter.com/AaronBrandt

This concludes round two of rapid fire. Thank you for participating.

By Aaron Brandt. Blogs on blogs on blogs. 

Wednesday, July 27

Website review: Collectible Supplies

Growing up, I had a large amount of sports collectibles in my room. I acquired them mostly through garage sales. At this point in my life, I am slowly getting rid of all these knickknacks. Some of my favorite pieces were various schutt mini helmets. Obviously my favorite was the University of Michigan Wolverines helmet I got as a birthday gift way back in the day. Now had I decided to further my collection, a good place to start would have been Collectible Supplies, a website dedicated to the sales of various sports collectibles. Their Schutt helmet collection is very large, featuring teams from most major colleges. The site even features rare throwback helmets from older teams. They also have collectibles from all major sports, including the NFL, NCAA, NBA, MLB, NHL, NASCAR and other minor sports. You want a new pair of Everlast MMA gloves? Boom. Is a Detroit Red Wings Mr. Potato Head Doll on your Christmas list? Look no further. What about that Minnesota Twins hitch cover that grandpa has always wanted? Got it. The variety of products on this website makes it a useful tool for the casual and serious collector alike. Purchasing is easy, with credit card or PayPal options. The site also features a nice "order tracking" feature, which allows the user to follow the status of their precious collectible. So if you are looking to expand your collection beyond a few bobbleheads, take some timeout of your day and head to Collectible Sports.

Friday, July 22

Campus Crusade changes name; takes out Christ

Day old news, but I was too busy getting a library card to blog about this. Basically the Christian college organization Campus Crusade for Christ is changing its name to Cru. Why, you ask? Well, why don't we find out from the vice president, Steve Zellers.

"We felt that our name was getting in the way of accomplishing our mission. Our name was becoming more and more of a hindrance. It’s reverted back to some of its meaning related to the Middle Ages – forcing Christianity on different parts of the world,” he said (FoxNews). Nine percent of Christians and twenty percent of non-Christians were "alienated" by the name, according to their research. "We've been having issues with two words in the name -- campus and crusade," said Zellers.

I can see the rationale to drop the "crusade" from the name; as not to associate with the crusades from the Middle ages, but they fail to explain why "Christ" was left out in the cold. You want to disassociate yourself from the crusades? Then don't use an abbreviation of the word as your new name, then take out Christ. And how can the word "campus" cause issues?

The pathetic explanation for dropping Christ was explained in the Huffington Post:
"Cru enables us to have discussions about Christ with people who might initially be turned off by a more overtly Christian name," said Cru's FAQ section. "We believe that our interaction and our communication with the world will be what ultimately honors and glorifies Christ."

Let me get this straight. In order to bring more people to Christ, you are dropping Christ from your name so that people don't think your group is associated with Christ? I mean, what a ridiculous concept, for a Christian organization to have an "overtly Christian" name, right? (Please note dripping sarcasm.) Personally, I don't think tricking people into joining your organization is the best way to spread the Gospel. You say that your communication will be what honors and glorifies Christ? What about the communication to the world that Christ in your name is a "hindrance?"

The 16th verse of Romans comes to mind, "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile." Note that Paul does not say anything about alienating people because he calls himself a Christian here. Or Luke 9:26 "Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels."

Newsflash, if you think changing your name will bring in people that feel alienated by Christianity, then you might want to reconsider your public relations strategy. What an underhanded way to bring people into your organization.

I gave Cru a try back in the day, and I have to say, it was not my cup of tea. That's another blog for another time, but I do feel that a non-Christian would be very alienated by what goes on inside the organization, rather than it's name. I simply don't think it is a very good idea to change the name because a small percentage did not like it.

So many Christian organizations are hidden behind nebulous names such as InterVarsity (I thought it was some sort of intramural tennis club for about a year), Agape, Kairos, Power to Change, Promise Keepers and See You at the Pole (what?). Why not be honest and have an "overtly Christian" name? I'm sorry, but this is just not a good look for Cru. It sends a terrible message to the whole world. A message that says "we are afraid of offending people with the name of Christ." Cru is an internal nickname that works amonst those who were already part of the organization. Cru is not a brand that can carry the organization, or even try to explain what goes on within itself. But Zeller couldn't care less.

“Much like lots of brand names they don’t necessarily have meaning in and of themselves,” he said. “It is a name we intend to give meaning so that when people hear it they know that it’s a caring group of Christians who are passionate about lifting up the name of Jesus.” Forcing meaning to a meaningless name? Could there be a more risky PR strategy?

In conclusion, Cru could have easily dropped "crusade" from it's name, and kept Christ. I don't care about their explanation or what really goes on within the organization, it is the public's perception of the change that matters. And so far every single news report has had a negative headline regarding the change. This causes the public's perception of the organization to change in a bad way. There are almost no positive comments on these articles, and that should not surprise anyone. It just looks bad on Cru's part. Cru folded to the pressures of a politically correct world, and took a substantially weak stance. Now they have to clean up the mess and put out a few more hurried "explanations" before they lose all credibility.

P.S. The Lutheran campus organization is called "Christ on Campus." Just saying.

By Aaron Brandt, who was impressed with the Allendale Public Library's collection of "The Book Thief." They had about ten copies.

Monday, July 18

I'm on Google+

I just got on Google's new social network, and I am in the middle of figuring it out. Seems pretty cool so far, as long as lots of people start using it. It makes Facebook look cluttered. I really like how it connects all of Google's various services together in one place. It's nice for bloggers and users of Picasa, such as myself. And there is no such thing as Farmville or Mafia Wars and all the other stupid apps that clutter up my newsfeed.

So if you are on Google+ already, add me. And if you want an invite, I'll send you one, as long as you promise to read my blog. Or send me cash donations. https://plus.google.com/u/0/110047240368336667496/posts

And for the op-ed section of this post; I think it's funny when people knock new social network sites and updates. For example, when people talk about how much they hate Twitter when they don't even have an account. Now it's all about how Google+ is stupid because Facebook already exists. Or when people complain about a change on Facebook that we will all get used to in a day or two. If we had a choice, none of us would go back to the old versions of Facebook and such. There's the rant. Again, if you want an invite, hit me up and I'll do what I can. And add me to your circles if you have Google+. Also, +1 this post.

By Aaron Brandt, who used Twitter before it was cool and MySpace after it was cool. 

Thursday, July 7

Zip line crash! At a wedding!

Check out this video. It really got me worked up this morning.

My job at the zoo is to ensure the safety of all riders on the zip line. We go over inspections, safety checks, rules, more safety checks and attach a harness which reduces circulation by 12% when you have it on all day. So when I see something like this, well, I can't say I feel bad for anyone. Let's break this down.

Mistake #1- The bride clearly is not adhering to rule number four, which instructs riders to keep their hands on the rope, or keep them at their sides. Instead she goes flailing like a wounded bird, which could easily knock the trolley off of the line, causing her to get stuck or at least slow down (which happened).

Mistake #2- Clearly the bride ignored the "no dresses allowed" rule. I mean, come on, how is she supposed to put on the leg straps? Let's not get into the details of why that wouldn't work.

Mistake #3- This dude is the definition of people I can't stand. I can explain all the rules very clearly, telling them not to run or jump at the end of the platform, and what do they do? Take a running start and swan dive off the edge. Umm, bro, when you start at a high rate of speed on a downward angle, you are going to end at a high rate of speed. And the 18 year old girl at the other end will not be able to catch your beer gutted body when it slams into her at 100 MPH. In this case, just married Justin slams newly wed Wanda and the rest is history.

Mistake #4- Good idea, getting on the line when someone else isn't even at the other side yet, Hot Rod. I mean, with your running start, there is no way you will hit her, especially since she slowed herself down by flapping her arms...Oh wait, never mind.

Mistake #5- Was this dude even attached? I mean, the harness I put on people has three carabiners attaching the person to the rope and a two piece, Petzel harness which is certified climbing gear. It is impossible to fall off, even if someone acts as stupid as this guy. Was he just holding on to the rope? Good idea, man.

Mistake #6- The camera guy. Dude, just shut up and film. Let Tom Bergeron and Bob Sagat narrate your video later. Instead he chimes in with an insightful "I got it all on fiiiiilllllmmmm. That's Youtubin'...I'm Youtubin' that shh...I'm Youtubin' that, Red." I bet Red doesn't even care, or have a computer for that matter. Red is just happy about the open bar, which is clearly where the groom was right before he got onto the zip line.

In summary, it is always a good idea not to act like an idiot when you are attached to a half inch wire while suspended off of the earth. It makes my job easier, reduced your medical bills and save the life of the 112 pound girl at the catch side if you follow the rules and just enjoy the ride. So please, come to the zoo and visit me at work. Our zip line is 100% safe, and 100% fun. Juicy Juice. 100% juice for 100% kids. (paying the bills)

By Aaron Brandt, who does not do anything with lions or animal poop at his job. He remembers when that joke was funny. Oh wait, he doesn't. 

Sunday, June 19

Worst father ever?

Happy Father's Day; here's a video to make yourselves feel like great parents, no matter who you are.

Umm, worst dad ever award winner here? I think it's parenting rule number one that you, under no circumstances, let your child pick up dead animals. Yet this dude is just filming his daughter rub roadkill all over herself. I'm not sure how one can intentionally get rabies, but if I had to do it, this would be one of my first ideas. Find the nearest pancaked creature and slather his carcass all over my shirtless body. I'm sorry, but are 1.9 million views on YouTube worth having your daughter foam at the mouth like she's Tea Cake from "Their Eyes were Watching God?" Then you have snooty comments from mom, "Do you think she will be a vegetarian after this?" Uhh, if by vegetarian you mean she won't be able to eat anymore because she is in an iron lung, then yes, she will be a vegetarian. If your daughter's future diet is your main concern, as she rubs a rodent's rancid bodily fluids all over her Pull Ups, then you might want to hire a nanny.  "Now take a video of the mom." Calm down spotlight hog, Child Protective Services will give you plenty of attention in your interview. I think there is a direct relation between the number of subscribers to his YouTube channel and the number of days the girl spends in the hospital.

Contrast that with my dad, who happens to be the greatest dad of all time. When he brings dead animals into the equation, it is in the form of a mounted deer used to scare me from outside of my window when I was 7. Or the fact that my old cat "ran away," until we found out he was eaten by a dog. Five years later. And when a squirrel actually did try to spread his rabies on our family, pops nearly shot him off the roof with a rifle. And I would NOT have been allowed to rub Norman's (that was his name) bullet riddled squirrel chest all over my buzz cut. No, my dad is the greatest dad ever, and don't you forget it. I have been blessed to have such a great example as a person, and a Christian as my father. And he has a pretty good blog, too.

By Aaron Brandt, who still wonders how the last cat actually died. #SuspiciousCircumstances. 

Thanks to Chuck I. for the heads up on the video.

Saturday, June 18

Cat ruins Japanese baseball game

I love a good cat story, but this cat really crossed the line. In what began as a nice evening in Japan at the hollowed grounds of Yokohama Stadium, home of the Yokohoma BayStars; turned ugly when a cat wandered onto the field and put a halt to the Hiroshima Carp's own Tomoya Sayashi's at bat in what appears to be the bottom of the third inning.  Tomoya was just trying to maintain his torrid batting average (he went 2/5 in 2009), when this idiot cat ruins it all for him. I mean, Carp manager Kenjiro Nomura was just trying to get something going with a 2-2 count when this malarky occurred. The game had to be stopped while everyone went crazy trying to either catch the cat or avoid the cat like he was Godzilla (too soon?).

I don't know what was more scared, the cat, or the cameramen when it jumped into the stands. I love when he fakes out the batboy and runs in a circle around him. Bat boys are rarely coordinated, even in Japan. Then he does what all cats do, and loses control of his furry legs when he gets moving too fast. Typical cat. Then he jumps into the stands for the final time, freaks out all ten people sitting on the third base line (must have been Rod Allen bobblehead night, hence the massive crowd) and disappears into the night. Just an average day in Japanese baseball.

This is why Ichiro left for the MLB. Because our games don't get sidetracked by a mangy cat. When stuff like this happens, we whip out the tazers and have at it. And when a cat does happen to make it onto our fields of dreams, we pick it up and throw it on the ground instead of letting it scamper into the press box unscathed.

And how about the Carp mascot? Looks like a mix between the Phillie Phanatic, The Statue of Liberty and Rosita from Sesame Street. His(?) name is Surairi, and that's about all I know about it. Sick fist pump, bro. And I want a Carp shirt really bad. I know there are a few readers in Japan; I'm just saying I take a size large...

And finally, look at what kind of food the stadium has to offer. You know what, it actually looks better than anything at Comerica Park. When your main food attraction is Little Caesars $75 Hot 'N Ready, then you're doing it wrong, Illitch. I'll take an order of the stuff on a stick, the things in a bucket and two yellow/brown drinks on the side. Priced at only 5/22~6/19, you cannot go wrong. More on Japanese baseball food later.

By Aaron Brandt, スタジアムグルメも野球観戦の楽しみの一つとして、みなさん、ぜひマツダ スタジアムへお越しください

Saturday, June 11

2011 Michigan football throwback uniforms unveiled

Michigan revealed their throwbacks today for the Notre Dame game, and I have to say, they look pretty sweet. A lot better than the monstrosities that Nike made for Ohio State (which were inevitably sold for tats). These are going to look especially sweet under the lights at the Big House. Great job, Adidas.

By Aaron Brandt, who did not sell his 1999 Fraser Recreation flag football jersey online. 

Monday, June 6

Life on Mars! Proof!

This guy's video is all over the Interwebs right now, igniting all those conspiracy theories again.

Basically, some guy got on Google Mars and found a while blob, and now he's claiming its either a "bio station," a "way-station" for space travelers who don't want to come to earth, or NASA (but he doubts they have what it takes to pull this off). And it "appears fairly well maintained." Umm, dude are you looking at the same white grainy strand as me? Well maintained? Like, can he see little brooms and containers of Lysol wipes in this supposed alien way-station? Is there a maid? That coat of paint on the front door looks recent... I mean, the gutters a little clogged, but hey, that's just a little weekend spacewalk project for Buzz Aldrin.

And  he also says, "clearly it's not a rock." Oh, you are right, Mr. Mars geologist. Based on a satellite photograph from  miles up in the Mars sky, you can deduct that a while spot is not a rock. Come on man. You see one little contrasting color and you jump to the three most unlikely conclusions possible, and then claim to have made "the most important discovery on Mars yet!" And guess what! NASA won't even talk to him about it! They must be hiding something! Because they have time to personally respond to every nut-job with a computer who "finds" stuff in space. Talk about jumping to conclusions. And bro, you are still using Windows XP. Do I need to go on any longer? I mean, the image is probably blurry because your non-existent graphics card probably can't render Google Images. The scientists who sent people to the moon would scoff at your dinosaur of an operating system.

Personally, I do not care whatsoever about goes on in space outside of our atmosphere. If aliens attack, then we cough on them like Dakota Fanning and they die of a head-cold. If there are microbes on Mars or even buildings, then we leave them alone and live our own lives. I really don't care about how spiders mate in zero gravity or if there is water on Pluto. People want us out of Iraq because of all the money and lives it costs... What about putting people on Mars? Nothing says "worthwhile purchase" like spending trillions so some guys can bounce around in red dirt. That's my space rant. If you don't like it, have a Tang and remind yourself why space it stupid. #SpaceIsStupid

By Aaron Brandt, who's knowledge on the subject of space comes from Magic School Bus and Bill Nye the Science Guy.

Monday, May 30

Loose fingernail at Lutheran North

While taking in the LHN spring concert, I glanced down, and what do I see? A rouge fingernail just chilling on the ground next to a hanging chad from some long lost handout. Look at that beast. That is no ordinary hangnail. That was a premeditated removal, which could only have been accomplished with a jumbo sized nail clipper. No teeth are strong enough to rip off a chunk of cartilage that large. How boring must chapel have been for that situation to occur? "Hey, I think I am going to get out my manicure kit and go to town on my extremities right in the third row." A word of advice; it might be a good idea to simply get a broom on the mat that covers the floor. You know, so when larger body parts like fingers and hands show up, they get cleaned before a sarcastic blogging graduate returns to watch the choir sing "Silly Sixties."

I just figured I would gross everyone out because it's Monday.

By Aaron Brandt, who did not see any syringes on that long neglected gym floor cover.

Sunday, May 29

World record LipDub in Grand Rapids

If the GVSU LipDub wasn't enough for you, the city of Grand Rapids just set the world record for having the largest lipdub. Or the record for having too much free time... Either way, this is still pretty cool, considering the amount of coordination required to pull something off like this.

This is just reason #583 why Grand Rapids is better than Detroit. I just don't see Martha Reeves "Dancing in the Street" in Detroit like the fine folks of the 616 did. She would have "Nowhere to Run" with all of the crime and pot holes.

By Aaron Brandt, expert LipDub blogger. 

Thursday, May 26

Aliens make massive crater in New Jersey

Apparently some people in New Jersey are all worked up over an 18 inch deep hole in the ground that appeared out of nowhere. Dirt was scattered about 100 feet away, and the population is now on high alert. "It's just really, really weird," said planetarium director Jerry Vinski. "We dug around and couldn't find anything. We used metal detectors because all meteors have metal in them, and we couldn't find anything, large or small." 

Ok people, no need to overreact.  A small hole shows up, and the stinking planetarium director Jerry Vinski has to come down and assess the situation like its Roswell all over again. When I think of a "crater" I imagine some massive hole in the ground that obliterated everything in it's path. Not this little pile of mulch. 

We have people that still think we didn't land on the moon, still think 9/11 was an inside job and even more people think Michael Jackson is alive. Yet no one is doubting the story of some New Jersians? I mean, this has all the markings of an inside job. No one heard anything explode or boom or even whistle. They detected nothing in the ground. Do you realize how easy it is for me to go outside right now, without a shovel, and dig an 18 inch deep hole and scatter the dirt 100 feet away? So easy that I just did it while you were reading this blog. Twice. I am certain that some kid got up in the morning and said to himself, "Hey self, I want to get on the AOL Weird News page today. I am going to make a fake crater." So he grabbed a shovel and creaed a sensation that has left New Jersey befuddled.

My apartment complex (Copper Beech in Allendale, Michigan) has had massive craters in its parking lots and roads since February, but I didn't see planetarium director Jerry Vinski anywhere. The police never investigated and I sure didn't get on AOL Weird News. No, I just blogged about it and then got a call from the Copper Beech HQ demanding I take it back. Well, they are repairing the sinkholes as I speak, so I guess that's one good act of service I can report. Anyway, it is clear to me that very little good comes out of New Jersey. Nothing but spray tans and fake crater stories. By the way (btw), here is what a real crater looks like. Take notes, people. 

By Aaron Brandt, crater expert. (From the bomb craters that are all over Mt. Clemens)

Wednesday, May 25

Should kids be allowed on Facebook?

Good ol Mark Zuckerberg is now coming out and saying that he wants to talk about having kids under 13 on Facebook. He went on to blab about education and technology and a few other things that rich people talk about a lot. Here's the full article. CLICK ME. 

So should Facebook let kids on the site? No. Seriously, what a terrible idea. Not that little kids aren't already faking their age and getting on anyway; this has the makings of a huge mess.

Kids today are growing up far too fast. At my job at the zoo, a girl about 12 years old dropped her brand new Droid on the ground and cracked the screen. Of course, tears ensued, along with a panic attack and then an emotional call to mom, who obviously bought the phone for her daughter. I'm 21 and my phone cost about 1/4 the price of hers. When I was 12, I was worried about getting another Adam Deadmash card in a pack of hockey cards, not dropping my smartphone on the ground. (I seriously have about 15 Deadmarsh cards).

Kids are too young to have a Facebook at age 13. I logged on for the first time in 2007 (I was 17), and I still occasionally see the stupid stuff I posted and cringe (then click delete). I was young and pretty annoying back then. I can't even imagine what my 11 year old self would have said (probably something about Star Wars).  One quick glance at my newsfeed reveals that many people my age can't even maturely handle a Facebook (or a grammar test). And who are all these kids that go to Lutheran North that think they can just request me? I don't know you, little freshman posing in front of your bathroom mirror in your best Hollister outfit for all 342 of your profile pictures. Denied.

Yes, eventually most of us mature. But for me, my maturation process during my pre-teen years was not permanently documented by hundreds of statuses, pictures, YouTube videos and inbox messages. I am so thankful that no one can see my old sub-profiles in AIM or the notes I passed in Miss Otto's class. But for today's kids, everything they ever say is recorded. What might seem like a great idea when you are 13, usually ends up being something embarrassing by the time you hit 20. I mean, look at my stupid 17 year old self over there, thinking he is all funny and stuff. What a moron. Wipe that grin off your face, Aaron. You don't know anything about anything.

Pre-teens shouldn't have to worry about whether Bob and Suzy are Facebook official, or if Johnny poked Kim back. They should read a book or go outside and play sports. Do I feel bad that the girl at the zoo broke her phone? Nope, because mommy will just get her a newer, nicer one so she can tell all 25 people that she knows about the zoo on Facebook. Leave Facebook to the people who's brains aren't still growing. No matter how small those brains might be on average...

By Aaron Brandt, who still regrets using the screen name "BenWallaceDude3" 

The wonders of technology

Just another average day in Allendale. I woke up, got called off from work, made a breakfast of eggs and toast and began to scour the Internet for blog topics. Then at 9:56 A.M. Eastern Standard Time, both of my parents messaged me on Google Chat at the exact same time. From separate locations.

Anyway, I still have no idea where the library is in Allendale, if they even have one. I feel like a library might exceed the entertainment levels allowed by the city. There must be some ancient law written into the city's charter that makes sure the True Value is the most exciting place in this town.

By Aaron Brandt, bla bla bla witty comment that I am too lazy to think of right now. 

Friday, May 20

P!nk vs. Selena Gomez and her pink horses

Is this the final sign of the apocalypse before the rapture tomorrow? (No. Read Matthew 24:36). Basically Selena Gomez is shooting a music video with a couple of horses painted pink on some beach in California. And the singer P!nk gets all mad about it and starts tweeting about animal cruelty and such. Because going to Twitter is a great way to handle controversy. Then all the PETA supporters get all worked up and declare war on Selena Gomez. And by war, I mean posting 140 characters on a website.

Anyway, this pretty much sums up the state of Hollywood. Celebrities get all worked up about two horses painted with animal-safe dye, while ignoring actual problems in the world. Those horses probably have a better life than I do, yet P!nk has to call on "activists" to come out and protest. How about calling on people to volunteer at a soup kitchen or clean up a park? You know, doing something for a cause that actually matters? Shame on you P!nk. One, your name is super annoying to type, and two, you clearly showed what little sense of reality you posses. Animal cruelty? These small brained beasts will get a nice bath tonight and never even know they looked like something out of Cinderella. Meanwhile, thousands of worthwhile causes would have given anything for the kind of exposure a tweet from P!nk would generate. But then again, what can I expect from the lady who sings "Raise Your Glass." Nobody should apologize, but knowing our world, these horses will be visiting the White House next month. And they will vote "nay" on the healthcare bill.

By Aaron Brandt, who ate a chicken tonight and loved it. I might even watch Wizards of Waverly Place later. But probably not.

Awesome Boston Bruins advertisements

As an advertising major, I love Boston Bruins' campaign this playoff season. Instead of coming up with some blase, safe little phrase (See Red, The Beard is Back, Rise Up, Fire on Ice), they actually tried an edgy, humorous approach that pokes fun at its opponent. And their commercials are even better. This is what I want to do with the rest of my life. Take notes, Red Wings marketing team. 

And the commercials...