The Top 100 Songs: 1990s

When you think about the best decade of music, you might immediately think the 60s or 70s. Some may argue it was the 80s or 90s. I was pretty sure the best decade of music was the 2000s, but now I’m convinced it was the 1990s.

This started as a top 10 list of 90s music, which was really hard because of all the different sounds during this era. Expanding the list to a top 100 was poised to be my most ambitious list yet. Turns out, my love for music and making lists made this a simple task. In the end, I decided to rank them using an online ranking generator allowing me to compare songs 2 by 2. I input my list of 110 songs into the ranking generator and did over 400 comparisons. The end results were very surprising.

The rules for this list, made up be me:
– No repeats for main attributed artist (e.g. Michael Jackson & Janet Jackson – Scream counts as an entry for both of them)
– No covers, original recordings only (e.g. Whitney Houston – I’m Every Woman originally recorded by Chaka Khan in 1978, not eligible)
– Must have been released as a single or on an album after December 31, 1989 and before January 1, 2000
– No complications, best of, or greatest hits releases apply

For your and my listening pleasure, I’ve created this list as both an Apple Music and Spotify playlist (see below)

 


The top 100 list is below in order based on my opinion, and because I’m me, there are 10 honorable mentions afterwards!

Did your favorite 90s song make the list?

Artist

Title

Year

Rank

Lauryn Hill

Doo Wop (That Thing)

1998

1

Bone Thugs -n- Harmony

Tha Crossroads

1995

2

Usher

You Make Me Wanna...

1997

3

Michael Jackson & Janet Jackson

Scream

1995

4

Whitney Houston

I Have Nothing

1992

5

2Pac

Changes

1998

6

I Got 5 On It

Luniz

1995

7

Boyz II Men

End of the Road

1991


8

Big Pun

Still Not a Playa (feat. Joe)

1998

9

Sublime

What I Got

1996

10

Mariah Carey

Fantasy

1997

11

Hanson

MMMBop

1997

12

TLC

Waterfalls

1994

13

Aaliyah

Are You That Somebody? *

1998

14

Alanis Morisette

You Oughta Know

1998

15

Hootie & The Blowfish

Hold My Hand

1994

16

Warren G & Nate Dogg

Regulate

1994

17

Dr. Dre

The Next Episode (feat. Snopp Dogg)

1999

18

Snopp Dogg

Who Am I (What's My Name)?

1993

19

Kci & JoJo

All My Life

1997

20

Blackstreet

No Diggity (feat. Dr. Dre & Queen Pen)

1996

21

No Doubt

Spiderwebs

1995

22

Alice in Chains

Rooster

1992

23

T.Q.

Westside

1998

24

Ice Cube

It Was a Good Day

1992

25

Outkast

Rosa Parks

1998

26

Blues Traveler

Run-Around

1994

27

The Notorious B.I.G.

Mo Money and Mo Problems (feat. Mase & Puff Daddy)

1997

28

Matchbox 20

3 am

1996

29

Ginuwine

Pony

1996

30

311

Down

1995

31

Ma$e

Feels So Good

1997

32

Rage Against the Machine

Bulls On Parade

1996

33

Do or Die

Po Pimp

1996

34

Soundgarden

Black Hole Sun

1994

35

Destiny's Child

Bug a Boo

1999

36

*NSYNC

Tearin' Up My Heart

1997

37

Jay-Z

Big Pimpin' (feat. UGK)

1999

38

Salt-N-Pepa

Shoop

1993

39

The Presidents of the United States of America

Peaches

1995

40

Beastie Boys

Intergalactic

1998

41

Eminem

My Name Is

1999

42

Green Day

Basket Case

1994

43

Ini Kamoze

Here Comes The Hotstepper

1994

44

Barenaked Ladies

One Week

1998

45

Juvenile

Ha

1998

46

Bush

Comedown

1994

47

Everlast

What It's Like

1994

48

Puff Daddy

I'll Be Missing You (feat. Faith Evans & 112)

1997

49

The Smashing Pumpkins

1979

1995

50

Third Eye Blind

Jumper

1997

51

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Under the Bridge

1991

52

The Cranberries

Zombie

1994

53

Spice Girls

Wannabe

1996

54

The Goo Goo Dolls

Iris

1998

55

Next

Too Close

1997

56

Keith Sweat

Nobody (feat. Athena Cage)

1996

57

Montell Jordan

This Is How We Do It

1995

58

DMX

Party Up (Up In Here)

1999

59

Metallica

Enter Sandman

1991

60

Backstreet Boys

I Want It That Way

1999

61

Wu-Tang Clan

C.R.E.A.M.

1993

62

Sugar Ray

Fly (feat. Super Cat)

1997

63

Lenny Kravitz

Fly Away

1998

64

Master P

Make 'Em Say Ugh

1997

65

Aerosmith

Crazy

1993

66

Mark Morrison

Return of the Mack

1996

67

Brandy

Sittin' Up In My Room

1995

68

The Chemical Brothers

Block Rockin' Beats

1997

69

"Weird Al" Yankovic

Amish Paradise

1996

70

Color Me Badd

I Wann Sex You Up

1991

71

Radiohead

Creep

1996

72

Kid Rock

Cowboy

1998

73

Will Smith

Gettin' Jiggy Wit It

1997

74

Ol' Dirty Bastard

Got Your Money (feat. Kelis)

1999

75

En Vogue

Free Your Mind

1992

76

Marcy Playground

Sex & Candy

1997

77

Naughty By Nature

O.P.P

1991

78

Crazy Town

Buttefly

1999

79

Jamiroquai

Virtual Insanity

1996

80

The (Dixie) Chicks

Wide Open Spaces

1998

81

Robyn

Show Me Love

1995

82

Ace of Base

The Sign

1993

83

Oasis

Wonderwall

1995

84

The Mighty Mighty Bosstones

The Impression That I Get

1997

85

The Tony Rich Project

Nobody Knows

1995

86

SWV

Weak

1992

87

Sisqo

Thong Song

1999

88

702

Where My Girls At?

1999

89

Beck

Loser

1993

90

LeAnn Rimes

How Do I Live

1997

91

Mary J. Blige

Real Love

1992

92

The Prodigy

Firestarter

1996

93

Kris Kross

Jump

1992

94

Crystal Waters

100% Pure Love

1994

95

Babyface

Every Time I Close My Eyes

1996

96

Nine Inch Nails

Closer

1994

97

Snow

Informer

1994

98

Garbage

Only Happy When It Rains

1995

99

New Edition

Hit Me Off

1996

100

Honorable Mentions:
101. Shaggy – Bombastic (1995)
102. Meredith Brooks – Bitch (1997)
103. Jewel – Who Will Save Your Soul (1995)
104. Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit (1991)
105. LFO – Girl On TV (1999)
106. Lil’ Troy – Wanna Be a Baller (1999)
107. Vitamin C – Smile (1999)
108. The Offspring – Pretty Fly (For a White Guy) (1998)
109. 98º – The Hardest Thing (1998)
110. New Kids On the Block – Step By Step (1990)

*Aaliyah – Are You That Somebody? is not available on any digital platforms.

In Memoriam: Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Tupac Shakur, Big Pun, Bradley Nowell, Lisa Left-Eye Lopes, Aaliyah, Nate Dogg, Layne Staley, Christopher Wallace, Chris Cornell, Adam Yauch, Dolores O’Riordan, Earl Simmons, Russel Jones, Keith Flint, Chris Kelly, and Kurt Cobain.

Credits: Wikipedia, Apple Music, Pub Meeple

Working Whilst Home

Some of us are working from home full or part time for the first time ever. As a technology professional that’s been in the game for more than 10 years, here are my thoughts.

wfh
My standing desk WFH setup

Working from home (WFH) isn’t easy if you’re used to going to an office or another location every day. Some people love and others hate it. I come down somewhere in the middle. In my past I’ve had a job where I consistently worked from home at least once per week, by choice. Now that some of us are forced to spend both our working day and personal time at home, things need adjusted.

Simulating A Normal Work Day

Firstly, you should have a dedicated space where you can go work. Not your living room sofa, dining room table, or garage work bench. Hopefully you’re fortunate enough to have an office space or a spare room you can isolate yourself in. This allows you to have a place to go to start working and to leave when you’re done. Additionally, if you share your shelter with other people, you can use this space as an off-limits working area.

Before going to your work space and after you get out of bed, try to do some normal things just like you would before you would go to work. Take a shower, get dressed, make coffee, have a snack, or whatever you can do to make it a normal work day. Once you get to your computer you should be ready to work.

I’ve tried to replicate my work setup from my office as much as possible to be the most efficient. I have a standing desk at work so a few months ago (not knowing there was going to be a pandemic) I purchased a smaller sit/stand desk at home. Being used to standing while working all day and then sitting at home doesn’t work for me. Now I can stand all day just like I do at work and not feel the pains of sitting for eight hours per day.

Technology

A hurdle that most people have when they work from home is not having the same technology they’re used to from work. You may find yourself being stuck using a 13-inch laptop now instead of your dual 20-inch monitor setup at the office. Yes you can go out and buy monitors for home, but in reality you probably can accomplish up to 80% of the work you previously were able to do just fine on your laptop. It may take some adjustment and learning periods, but it’s definitely possible. If you find yourself using your own personal technology for work, you may want to make sure you have a compatible computer with your employer’s systems. Hopefully your IT department will be able to give you some guidance on that.

Most of our jobs in 2020 do not require you to print. If you’re used to being able to print anything/everything in the office, that doesn’t mean you need to do that at home. Try reviewing documents on a computer or tablet screen prior to needing to print. Your IT support people will thank you for not having to support a home printer.

Be sure to stay in touch with coworkers and family during this time. Zoom, FaceTime, Teams, Skype, and much more are great ways to communicate with people not in your same geographical location. Try to do video calls as much as possible instead of a voice call. This will allow you see other faces and feel a little more connected.

Staying Busy

Some people say they are more productive at home (me included) because there are less distractions or interruptions. Sometimes you are so productive at home that you may run out of things to do. An important part of working from home is staying busy so you’re not watching the clock or doing too many non-work related tasks. One way you can stay busy is dig through that pile of projects or tasks you’ve been putting off for the last year. Most of these things are time consuming and require concentration that you may not have in your normal work day. What else do you have besides time at home now, it may the right time to take a stab at them. Another way is to ask your peers or manager for things you can be doing. Every company I’ve worked for has organizational tasks that can be done during slow periods. You may even find yourself learning something new when helping out a peer.

Breaks

Taking time for yourself during the day is essential to your mental health during an extended work from home period. Be sure to take ample breaks and get away from your workstation for a few moments. Some ways you can take a break can be walking your dog, throw in a load of laundry, go grab the mail, take a shower, or make yourself an espresso.

Some things you should not do during a break are scroll through social media, watch TV, read the news, get a snack, or play a game on your phone. Activities like these lead to decreased productivity and a feeling of doing the same thing over and over again. It’s important to physically move around during the day, especially if you’ve been sitting a lot. Also, set aside a time of day to catch up on the news. Don’t stress yourself with reading everything as it comes in.

Snacking

When you’re at home all day, nowhere to go, no one to see, it can be easy to head for the pantry for a snack. It’s paramount to your health, and food supply, to avoid snacking more than usual while working from home. Try not to eat more or worse than you would on a normal work day. An easy way to prevent this from happening is simple, don’t buy any bad snacks. If you don’t have chips in the house, you won’t want to go look for them.

Pick a good stopping point or time to eat lunch. During this time you can focus on something else other than work. Make a sandwich and sit down and have a chat with someone or call a relative.

Distractions

I’ve long believed distractions can be good and lead to higher productivity. As long as the distractions are short and constructive, you can try to implement some of these into your daily routine. In addition to the suggestions I went over in the breaks section you can try other short brain stimulating activities that allow you to focus on something else for a few moments. Some activities I would suggest are a quick game of table tennis with a spouse, work on some language learning in Duolingo, shoot some hoops, work on a puzzle, check the oil in your car, or sit on your porch and enjoy the weather.

After one of these activities you can feel refreshed, distressed, and ready to get back to work. You’ll start to notice that you will be looking forward to one of these distractions and might even try to work harder to get there quicker. Don’t be afraid to schedule things during the work day, providing your employer doesn’t make you stay glued to your computer all day, you could have a standing chess meeting with cohabitant.

Make The Most Of It

The single most important thing about working from home more than usual is to make the most of it. Of course it’s not ideal for some, but if you sit and pout about it all day, that doesn’t help anyone. Try some of the suggestions above to make more of your day and don’t forget to stop working when the day is done. Just because you’re still at home and can work doesn’t mean you should. Take time for yourself, your family, and/or your friends.

Oscar Nominations 2020

The 92nd annual Academy Awards (Oscars) air Sunday February 9, 2020 on ABC

Back again for 2020 are the Beard Blog Oscars picks.

I made a determined effort to see as many nominated films this year before the awards.

Overall I feel like this year was a hell of lot better than last year. Some big names really showed out this year and put forth a plethora of legendary performances. This is a very difficult year to not only predict but also decide on which film / whom I thought was the best.

Overall, Once upon a Time…in Hollywood was my favorite movie but I’ll admit I’m partial to both QT2 and LDC3 and I think they put together a great movie. Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie also had great parts in OUATIH.1

Scarlett Johansson had a great year with an amazing performance in Marriage Story and an interesting portrayal in Jojo Rabbit.

Parasite seemed to come out of nowhere and while I wasn’t excited about reading subtitles throughout an entire movie, they disappear into the great story behind them. This is also the 12th time a foreign language film was nominated for Best Picture. And also for the second year in a row after last year’s nomination for Roma.

1917 was a great war epic that was uniquely shot and looks fantastic. This will probably win a lot of awards thanks to the director/writer’s personal ties to the film.

I felt like Joker was a bit overrated, but I can see why people hold it highly just based on the performance by Joaquin Phoenix. This is considered to be another comic book movie, but if you’ve seen Joker, you’ll realize it was just set in the world of Gotham City.

One of the longest movies ever nominated (Gone With the Wind holds the record) The Irishman. This seems like the final chapter in a long career of great films between Martin Scorsese, Robert DeNiro, and Joe Pesci. If you can get through the over three and a half hours this clocks in at, you’ll be delighted by how the story wraps up.

Knives Out was a great take on murder mysteries that also seemed to come out of nowhere. A great cast and superb writing could make this a sleeper this year.

I felt Ford v. Ferrari was a great bio film but may leave some audiences out if they don’t appreciate motorsports and/or the history of cars.

Jojo Rabbit is a weird look at WWII Germany. I found it entertaining and witty, but not Best Picture worthy.

The nominees are below, in bold is who I think should win, and in italics are what I think the academy will give the Oscars to.

  • Best Picture
    • Ford v Ferrari
    • The Irishman
    • Jojo Rabbit
    • Joker
    • Little Women
    • Marriage Story
    • 1917
    • Once upon a Time…in Hollywood
    • Parasite
  • Actor in a Leading Role
    • Antonia Banderas – Pain and Glory
    • Leonardo DiCaprio – OUATIH1
    • Adam Driver – Marriage Story
    • Joaquin Phoenix – Joker
    • Jonathan Pryce – The Two Popes
  • Actress in a Leading Role
    • Cynthia Erivo – Harriet
    • Scarlett Johansson – Marriage Story
    • Saoirse Ronan – Little Women
    • Charlize Theron – Bombshell
    • Renee Zellweger – Judy
  • Actor in a Supporting Role
    • Tom Hanks – A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
    • Anthony Hopkins – The Two Popes
    • Al Pacino – The Irishman
    • Joe Pesci – The Irishman
    • Brad Pitt – OUATIH1
  • Actress in a Supporting Role
    • Kathy Bates – Richard Jewell
    • Laura Dern – Marriage Story
    • Scarlett Johansson – Jojo Rabbit
    • Florence Pugh – Little Women
    • Margot Robbie – Bombshell
  • Directing
    • Martin Scorsese – The Irishman
    • Todd Phillips – Joker
    • Sam Mendes – 1917
    • OUATIH1 – Quentin Tarantino
    • Bong Joon Ho – Parasite
  • Writing (Adapted)
    • Steven Zaillian – The Irishman
    • Taika Waititi – Jojo Rabbit
    • Todd Phillips – Joker
    • Greta Gerwig – Little Women
    • Anything McCarten – The Two Popes
  • Writing (Original)
    • Rian Johnson – Knives Out
    • Noah Baumbach – Marriage Story
    • Sam Mendes – 1917
    • Quentin Tarantino – OUATIH1
    • Bong Joon Ho – Parasite

Disclosure – Movies on this list I have not yet seen at time of publishing:

  • A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
  • Harriet
  • Little Women
  • Pain and Glory
  • Richard Jewell
  • The Two Popes

Check out my Oscars predictions from last year!


1 Once upon a Time…in Hollywood
2 Quentin Tarantino
3 Leonardo DiCaprio

Beard Blog’s five best albums of 2018

My picks for the best 5 albums of 2018, ranked not by best to worst, but by release date. These albums were selected for their overall enjoyability. It is becoming more rare that albums are enjoyable from beginning to end.

Man of the Woods by Justin Timberlake – 2/2/18

Motw

Justin Timerblake’s 5th solo album (counting 20/20 experience as two separate albums) explores new sounds. JT is dabbling in some country styles and it lands very well with his new “Man of the Woods” persona.

Beerbongs and Bentleys by Post Malone – 4/27/18

Bb

The second album by Post Malone shows his growth in the music business as well as proving that he’s for real and here to stay.

Dan + Shay – 6/22/18

D+S

The third and self titled album by country duo Day + Shay who are famous for taking the Rascal Flatts style and bringing it into modern country music.

This One’s For You Too by Luke Combs – 6/1/18

LC

The re-release or “deluxe version” of This One’s For You released a year prior by Luke Combs. The 2018 album completes his debut into country music after being discovered from Vine.

Kamikaze by Eminem – 8/31/18

Mm

The 10th album by Eminem and according to Marshall, a makeup for his last pop-ish album. This album goes back to classic Eminem with funny lyrics, great rhymes and personal attacks. No holds barred.

 

Take time, before we get too deep into 2019 to take a listen to these albums if you haven’t yet.

Bonus: Here’s an Apple Music playlist with all 5 albums 

The Eternal Jukebox

My Last Ten Albums, Ever

eternal-jukebox

Music is Important to Me

A co-worker and I were having a music discussion around how satisfying it was to have physical media when we were younger. This co-worker and I often have analytical conversations around movies, music, and technology. Most of the time we fall on the same side of the arguments. The latest confab got me thinking…. What if something in the world destroyed the ability to access music so effortlessly like we do today. Since I was about nine years old, music has been something I enjoy listening to everyday. Whether I’m sad, happy, or indifferent, music is always there to appease me.

There Are Some Rules

Music streaming is gone, iTunes has shutdown, Sam Goody is gone for real, and all you have left is one jukebox. This magical jukebox can play any ten albums for as long as you live, as many times as you like. Before all the music is destroyed you have to quickly pick ten albums to fill the jukebox. 

“Today we have 50 million songs at our fingertips which is great and potentially life changing…”

These ten albums should be the ten albums you could listen to for the rest of your life. They shouldn’t be the best ten albums ever made, that’s always subjective. Your favorite ten albums could also be a mistake since you might be missing out on music that makes you feel all sorts of emotions. Ten albums are all you get, forever.

Because this is a artistic exercise, our eternal jukebox cannot play “greatest hits” or other types of compilations.

Eternal Jukebox Library

Here’s my list, these ten albums will forever be in my mystical eternal jukebox.

  • Bone Thugs-N-Harmony – E. 1999 Eternal
  • Dirty Heads – SWIM TEAM
  • Ed Sheeran – X
  • Hootie & The Blowfish – Cracked Rear View
  • John Mayer – Continuum
  • Ma$e – Harlem World
  • Michael Jackson – HIStory: Past, Present, and Future, Book I
  • Nelly – Country Grammar
  • Sam Cooke – Ain’t That Good News
  • Sublime – Sublime
  •  
    Honorable mention: Lauryn Hill – The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill

    Read more

    Artificial Intelligence: The Downfall of Humans

    Us humans are programmatically extinguishing ourselves out of existence

    ai-brain

    Artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the latest buzzwords you hear in the media, but it’s been around for a long time. AI is defined as intelligence demonstrated by machines, in contrast natural intelligence is displayed by humans and other animals. Even the simplest of machines or activities can have AI. Think about the last time your received coupons in the mail for a grocery store or department store. Using AI, that company determined the set of coupons you should receive to increase the probability of you visiting to their store or website. It’s straightforward and sometimes helpful, but that’s just the tip of this very large iceberg.

    When I think about artificial intelligence, machine learning, and autonomous machines I get excited for what the future holds. At the same time I start to ruminate about what all of this will mean for the future of us mortals. If we continue to build machines that learn, think, and live on their own, without our interaction, we could be creating our own extinction. 

    “The key for that machine to be successful is knowing what is right, wrong, fake, real, or useful. “

    Humans are currently the most advanced and smartest race on the planet Earth. Most of us have compassion, foresight, and morals which lends us to save inferior organisms like plants and animals. The plants and animals also offer us the resources we need to survive. Machines that aren’t based on needing plants, animals, or humans will have no use for those objects. Last time I checked, the advanced computers and machines using AI today don’t have any compassion or ideologies to prevent them from one day purging the Earth of humans.

    Creating an Artificial Existence

    Let’s start to perceive how AI evolution would occur that might force us humans out of continuation. Humans have created complex machines that can think for themselves as well as learn new ideas. Because humans are so diligent, most of the world’s information is procurable digitally on the internet. A high-powered machine could easily graze through all the information on the internet and learn everything, thus making that machine the smartest being in existence. The key for that machine to be successful is knowing what is right, wrong, fake, real, or useful. This machine, that I’m going to call BAE (Ben’s Artificial Existence), after years and years of studying old and new enlightenment, would be more powerful than anything we’ve seen to date.

    Let’s assume BAE has learned all the factual bits from the internet. BAE now knows how to speak, read, and write in every documented language on the planet. It also knows how to build anything (provided it’s blueprints were available on the internet). Lastly, with all the programming language information available (especially on the subject of AI) BAE is now a world-class artificial intelligence and machine learning expert. Because BAE is smart and is, presumably, self-aware it now has the means to upgrade itself. BAE can make phone calls (in any language), open bank accounts, trade on the stock markets, take over other machines; the list goes on and on. After a while BAE could start to reprogram other machines, creating a botnet army. BAE could also invent new technologies to make itself and it’s army untouchable. Before we know it, BAE has millions of machines that are self-sufficient, self-aware, and no longer have a use for the human race.

    Now let’s crawl back up out of that rabbit hole. All of this seems far fetched and is a lot like the plot of the movie ‘Transcendence’. The way people are advancing technology and all the information we have out there, it does seem that someday it could be possible. It’s also entirely possible that there are a few intelligent and prudent humans who can program compassion, sacrifice, and self-worth into machines. In that case we would have the ultimate personal assistant / companion.

    Humans aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, at least not from machines taking over the world. In reality, it seems humans will destroy ourselves before something else.

    Beard Blog Movie Review: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)

    Raped while dying and still no arrests? How come?

    three billboards
    Mildred Hayes and her billboards

    Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a dark and twisted tale about a mother and the tragic loss of her daughter. Frances McDormand plays a foul-mouthed smooth talking country woman who seems to have reached the end of her wits. After almost a year since her daughter was brutally murdered and no news from the Police, Mildred (McDormand) calls out the police chief in a very public way, on three billboards.

    This movie isn’t about catching the murderer of Mildred’s daughter. It’s not about how she was raped and burned alive. It’s also not about how small town police departments are often notoriously complacent. This movie is about exactly what the title says, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. The billboards go up and the the small town around them comes crashing down. 

    “An emotional ride with plenty of laughs, tears, and surprises.”

    Sam Rockwell is becoming one of my favorite lesser-known actors. After Three Billboards… he cements himself on that list. Rockwell’s performance should land him an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Officer Jason Dixon. Throughout the film you can see his character evolve and by the end you start to feel sorry for him, even after almost two hours of hatred.

    The rest of the cast is great and they all turn in amazing performances. Woody Harrelson somehow jerks the tears right from your face while still making you laugh. McDormand’s rough exterior eventually cracks and you can see the shining light that’s been trying to get out for the entire movie. John Hawkes has a great supporting role as Mildred’s estranged husband. There’s even a surprise role by Peter Dinklage. Dinklage’s portrayal of James is delightful and well-spoken as usual.

    In summary, Three Billboard Outside Ebbing, Missouri is fun, but deep down it’s tragic. We are carried through various instances of death and despair but writer Martin McDonagh peppered in enough comedy to keep us sane.

    Who should see this movie?
    Fans of dark comedies, viewers looking for an original movie, and people who like great screen performances.

    Who shouldn’t see this movie?
    People who don’t like natural (vulgar) language – It is rated R. That’s it. Everyone should see this film.

    Score

    9 / 10 – An emotional ride with plenty of laughs, tears, and surprises. One of the most original ideas I’ve seen in a long time.

    See more of my movie reviews here

     

    Spoilers

    Caution! Spoilers ahead.

    Read more

    SUV Search: Complete

    Most new SUVs are good, but none are perfect.

    suv-search

    My wife and I are in the market for a new SUV this fall. We are looking to replace our 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee, not because we hate it, but because our lease is about to come to an end. There are so many options out there that fit our needs, which could be why this segment is becoming the most popular among car manufacturers today.

    Feature Rich

    We have a very specific wishlist for this next SUV, mainly because of what we have already been accustomed to. Most of the items are luxuries or technology based goodies that we feel every car should have.

    • Remote startpullquote
    • Heated / ventilated front seats
    • Large panoramic sunroof
    • Heated steering wheel
    • Apple CarPlay compatible stereo
    • LED daytime running lights
    • Factory-installed hitch
    • Powered lift-gate

    Not that bad of a list right?

    In addition to those refinements, we really need a car that has an engine that can really move when we need to. We previously had a vehicle with an undersized engine and while it was good on gas, merging onto the highway proved to be somewhat dangerous. Some of the options we’re looking at vaulted us into the luxury SUV space which we didn’t want to tread in. Companies like BMW, Lexus, and Jaguar have great offerings but we did not want to get in on the low-end of their trim levels to meet our budget.

    Narrowing It Down

    In January of this year, we traveled to Detroit for the North American Auto Show to take a look at some potential new models. We came away from this show mostly disheartened by the fact that our beloved Jeep was not changing and thus not keeping up with the influx of technology in this space. The early leader leaving the show was the newly redesigned GMC Terrain. Remember that car I mentioned earlier that had a very underpowered engine? That was a 2013 GMC Terrain with a 4-cylinder lawnmower engine that would redline going up the slightest hill. Needless to say, we only owned that car for about six months. There was some hesitation to lean towards the new Terrain, but the new 2.0 turbocharged engine seemed like a good upgrade that we’d be happy with. Leaving the show I was just about set on getting the new Terrain, in fact, if they would have offered a trade right then and there, I probably would have taken it. They didn’t offer me a new 2018 GMC Terrain on the spot, so we decided to sleep on it.

    Fast forward eight months and we’re still looking at new cars coming out and deciding what we’re going to do. We have a slight deadline because our lease is set to expire sometime in October of this year. Lots of time ahead, but we aren’t taking this decision lightly. While the GMC Terrain is still in the running, we’ve had some other potentials come into view. The 2017.5 Nissan Murano checks all of our boxes and looks pretty cool too. We took a Sunday trip to our local Nissan dealer (because they are closed on Sundays) and eyeballed some new Muranos. This spelled bad news for the Murano because it just doesn’t look at good in person as it does in promotional photos. Now back to one again, the original GMC Terrain that started courting us in January.

    There has always been one wildcard in our race, but it only had the support of half the votes. I have really admired the Volvo XC60 since it’s redesign last year, and even added it to my list. Volvo is a great car company, and they know it, which is why the are now moving up the price list and becoming more of a luxury brand than ever before. My wife has never been impressed by either the XC60 or XC90. “Volvos are for old people, and I’m not old yet” exclaims my wife every time I mention the Volvo SUV. I’ve realized that’s a fight I cannot win, and thus we move on.

    The Winner

    A strange, almost divine series of events have unfolded lately that lead us to pick our next SUV. I was doing more research as I always do and found that the 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokees were soon entering production. I thought to myself, “I wonder what’s new on the 2018 model year?”, turns out, just enough. The upcoming Grand Cherokee updates included one key feature that was missing from all previous Grand Cherokee models, Apple CarPlay. This was the one feature we had to have, not because it’s cool, new, and easy to use, it’s because most car infotainment system are downright horrible. The ability to essentially mirror your iPhone on your car’s screen for music and maps is monumental. Along with the addition of CarPlay, Jeep brought back a new special edition trim called High Altitude which fits our styling tastes perfectly. The basics of this special edition are removing all the chrome accents, including the Jeep badges, and replacing them with matte finish dark accents. This creates a very modern take on a more luxurious trim.

    If all goes well with finances and timing, we will be leasing a 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee High Altitude in white.
    IMG_5768

    How I Did The Research

    Over the last 10 months I’ve been researching mid-size SUVs as they are announced and adding them to a spreadsheet to compare the specifications. I have posted it here so that you all can see the various types of specs I was comparing and how the different vehicles stack up. You’ll also notice that I went after specific trim levels on each SUV and only cared about certain features. This was mostly due to the fact that almost all SUVs in this class are going to perform the same and have the same overall sizing.

    I hope you have enjoyed reading about my research and hope this will help someone else make a decision on a very large purchase. I will definitely post an update once we finally get our new SUV.


    Click here for spreadsheet

    The Apple Watch : A Retrospective

    On April 25, 2015, I received my first generation Apple Watch Sport and Apple Watch. You can read my original review here, where I talk about moving away from traditional watches and a Fitbit. Now, a year later I still have my same Apple Watch, and a whole new love for it.

    Over the last 12 months, I have worn my Apple Watch 99% of the time I was awake. There may have been a day or two I forgot to put it on or did not charge it. After so long, it now becomes habit to want to check my wrist for messages, activity, and weather. At it’s core, which is receiving iPhone notifications, telling the time and showing me on-demand information on the watch face, the Apple Watch is a necessary device for my lifestyle.

    Between my wife and I, we accumulated a good collection of sport bands in various colors to keep the look fresh. One of the joys of the Apple Watch is changing the band every morning to better match my clothing choice for the day.

    I’ll admit that I don’t use the Apple Watch to it’s full technological extent. Third-party apps, different faces, and glances have all become secondary features. The watch is now more of an appliance in my life and a fashion accessory. That’s more than I can say for my iPhone which is somewhat an appliance, but more an entertainment device.

    After a year, what I use my Apple Watch for is very simple:

    • Telling time (like a traditional watch)
    • Keeping track of time (alarms, timers, etc.)
    • Checking the weather (watch face complication)
    • Tracking activity (workouts, steps, standing, etc.)
    • Getting alerts from my iPhone (iMessages, emails, etc.)

    That’s about it. Can’t imagine what my day would be like without it.

    As Apple said, this is a very personal device indeed.

     

    How an iPad Can Replace your Laptop or Desktop Computer

    Home computing is not the way it once was. 15 years ago every home had a big white/off-white box in one room of the house where people would spend hours typing and clicking away. Today, you do that same time wasting twice as fast and from your couch in front of the TV. We are getting much better at consuming multiple sources at once, but the content is being more dumbed down because it’s usually distracted by another source. Whatever the case may be, we may need to better think how the home computer is classified.

    Read more

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