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