Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Here are my best movie awards for films I watched in 2012. As always, several of these may have crude language, violence, and/or sexual situations. If you want to know the content of any of these films, go to or

Best Drama


First of all, the sport of mixed martial arts (MMA), the boxing of the 21st century, doesn't interest me. It's unnecessarily violent and injury-prone.  So when I first heard about this little movie called "Warrior" coming out, I didn't give it a second thought. But then a friend or two had some glowing things to say about it, so I thought I'd check it out.  Wow, am I glad I did.  It will remain one of my favorite movies of all-time for many years to come, so much so that I've already re-watched the last 30 minutes of the film a half dozen times.  From a great story of redemption to brilliant acting (Nick Nolte and Tom Hardy deserved Oscars) to one of the greatest closing songs ever, this powerful movie was easily my favorite of the year.  I give additional props to the production team in leaving out unnecessary R-rated content which could have so easily found its way into the film.

Honorable Mention: The Descendants, Win Win, A Separation, Looper, Argo, Flight, Anna Karenina, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, Safety Not Guaranteed

Best Comedy

~ The Guard

There were some high-profile comedies released this past year, and while some were very good (Silver Linings Playbook and Seven Psychopaths) and others overrated (Moonrise Kingdom), the one that stood out for me as the funniest film I saw this year was "The Guard".  Starring Brendan Gleeson (a comic genius) and Don Cheadle, this movie is about a rural Irish cop in over his head (or is he?) in dealing with drug dealers and hit men.  It's hilarious.

Honorable Mention:  The Muppets, What to Expect When You're Expecting, Silver Linings Playbook, Hope Springs, Ted, Seven Psychopaths

Best Action

~ The Avengers

This is a tough category, as there were so many solid action films this year.  But in the end, I have to give it to the Avengers.  Not much needs to be said about a movie that blew away nearly every box office record this past summer, so suffice it to say that this film was WAY more fun than it had any right to be and was the first movie to make The Hulk actually fun.  Once again, Joss Whedon proves himself a genius behind the camera.

Honorable Mention: The Man from Nowhere, Ip Man 1&2, Safe House, Chronicle, Men in Black 3, Dark Knight Rises, Looper, Headhunters, Skyfall

Best Family/Kids

~ The Muppets

While action movies were doing well in 2012, family flicks were experiencing a down year.  There were several decent ones, but nothing great.  So I'm giving it to the Muppets for once again charming a new generation.  Sit down with your family and check out this film for all ages.

Honorable Mention: Hugo, Madagascar 3, Tintin, The Odd Life of Timothy Green

Best Chick Flick

~ Anna Karenina

My wife and I had to go to a little single-screen indie theater to catch the new cinematic edition of Tolstoy's masterpiece, "Anna Karenina".  We found ourselves surrounded by Russian expats, some of whom probably hadn't been to a theater since Omar Sharif played the titular character in Dr Zhivago.  And like that 1965 film, the story of Karenina centers on her marital infidelity and the huge costs that comes with it.  A lesser director would have merely followed the script laid out for him by Tolstoy.  But this director dazzles the viewer with a unique film set that evokes a Russian theatre.  Quite enjoyable!

Honorable Mention: What to Expect When You're Expecting, Hope Springs, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

Best Foreign

~ The Man from Nowhere / Ip Man

I can't choose, so I'm naming two movies as the best foreign flicks of the year.  "The Man from Nowhere" is a great Korean film about a man with a secret who comes to the aid of a neighbor.  "Ip Man" is actually two movies, the first takes place during in China during WWII, while the other shows us a few years later.  Ip Man was Bruce Lee's master, and this story of heroism was very enjoyable to watch.

Honorable Mention:  Headhunters, A Separation

Best Movie You've Never Heard Of

~ Safety Not Guaranteed

This was a fun little flick about time travel that avoids some of the cliches and mistakes of other films while giving us some real character depth.  The ending is not one you see coming...

Honorable Mention: Jeff Who Lives at Home, Rampart

Worst Movie of the Year

~ One Day

Vacuous and depressing, this one is not worth a rental.  And if you come across it in a few years on TNT, you may want to consider immediately calling Comcast to cancel your cable subscription.  Enough said.

Honorable Mention: The Lorax, Friends with Kids, Moonrise Kingdom (mostly because of how over-hyped it was)
Tuesday, July 03, 2012

How to Make Your Own Diagonal Bookshelf

The bookshelf in the picture above took 20-30 hours to build and $200-250 in material costs (using poplar wood).  For a general idea of how to do your own custom diagonal shelf, here is how I did it.

  1. I chose to do a full-wall shelf, both in height and width.  In my case, this meant going up and around a hallway, and since the other side was too skinny to really employ a diagonal shelf, I made that portion a typical straight shelf.  I measured all of the primary outside dimensions and then modeled the shelf with 3D CAD software, from which I could then pull dimensions for all the boards, as well as be able to play around a little with the design.  For example, pictured in the image below is an option with corner cupboard doors. For a small fee, I can design your custom bookshelf for you. If you would like my assistance, email me at teichrod(at)gmail(dot)com and I'll be in touch. 

  1. Once I had my overall dimensions, I had to choose how to space the individual shelves and how deep to make the bookshelf.  I chose to make each shelf “compartment” 12”x12”, which is a little large for most books but allows pretty much all normal books to fit (as you can see above).  Making the compartments smaller will mean more compartments which means more space for books, but it also means more notching and thus more work.  Originally, I planned to make the shelf out of 1”x10” oak boards, but in order to save about 60% on material costs, I chose 1”x8” poplar boards instead (real dimensions are ¾”x7¼”).  Almost all books are less than 7” deep, so this ended up working well.  A couple things to consider though: 1) an 8” nominal depth may not work as well if you choose to include any cupboard storage space; 2) if you’re using a lighter colored stain for the bookshelf, poplar may not be a good choice as it tends to come a bit discolored and has an uneven grain.  It works great, however, if you stain it dark as I did.
  1. I chose to stain the wood prior to making any cuts, though this was primarily due to schedule considerations.  In hindsight, it may be best to make all the cuts and notches prior to any finishing work.  In my case, I had to go back and do a little touch-up with stain on a few pieces, and then covered it all in polyurethane finish prior to final assembly.
  1. I cut all the angled miter ends with a Skil-Saw set at a 45 deg angle.  Once this was done, I measured and marked the centers of the notches.  

  1. I made all the notches with a router using a ¾” straight dado bit, which worked like a charm.  To cut the notches straight, I clamped a square to the board to hold the router against.  It was easiest to make the cuts by making three router passes per notch.  I had to take care to notch all like-sloped parallel boards from the same face (either front or back), and notched them a little more than halfway through the board.  Since the boards ran a tad thicker than ¾”, I had to go back and use a Dremel to widen the notches slightly and smooth out the notch edges.

  1. For the non-diagonal shelves, I notched the vertical boards ¼” to give better support for the shelving.

  1. Once all the boards were cut, notched, and Dremeled, I did a test fit-up to verify that all the boards fit together prior to putting on the polyurethane.  Where necessary, I used the Dremel to fix any tight notches and interferences.  Some of the boards weren’t perfectly aligned on the sides or top, so I had to cut a few of them slightly to align the ends.  Because of the size of the bookshelf, I found it necessary to assemble it near its final location in the house.  Once all the diagonals were fitted together, I used wood screws (with a pilot hole to avoid cracking the wood) to fasten them to the perimeter boards.  From there, the bookcase was easy to tip into place.

  1. The boards initially weren’t all aligned depth-wise, so I used a couple clamps to pull them into alignment and then screwed several steel brackets across the back of the shelf to hold the boards in place.

  1. I stabilized the bookshelf with some small wood shims under the baseboard, and then used two 3” steel angles, screwing them to the wall and then to the shelf.
Monday, January 02, 2012
2011 was also the year that this blog died.  Tomorrow marks the 5th anniversary of the start of this blog, so it is appropriate that I wrap it up today 880 posts later.  The blog evolved a lot over the years, but recently my interest in keeping it going has waned (in case you hadn't noticed), along with the time required to invest in it.  Three kids can tend to do that.  It was fun while it lasted.  I got to give out a bunch of books via March Madness bracket competitions, and post Best of the Year movie awards, and highlight good articles and columns by Mark Steyn, Doug Wilson, Theodore Dalrymple, among many others.

The top 5 most viewed pages:
1. Pay No Attention to that Burning Ball of Gas!
2. Babies and Abortion, Part II
3. Wilson on Twilight, Cartoon Porn, and Domestic Abuse (the traffic for this post was largely due to the word "porn" in the title)
4. I See Old People
5. A Good Sign

The most commented on post was easily this one ("Mike" and I went back and forth for awhile about the ethics of killing in defense of an innocent).

For those still reading, thanks for joining me for at least some of this five-year journey and for the occasional comment.  Adios.
Brothers, what we do in life echoes in eternity. - Maximus in "Gladatior"
Once again, a chance to look back on those who will not see 2012.

Harry Morgan

Andy Rooney

Steve Jobs

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Darius' book montage

The Cross Centered Life: Keeping the Gospel The Main Thing
Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God
Overcoming Sin and Temptation
According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible
Disciplines of a Godly Man
Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism Is the Solution and Not the Problem
When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor. . .and Ourselves
The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
Respectable Sins
The Kite Runner
Life Laid Bare: The Survivors in Rwanda Speak
Machete Season: The Killers in Rwanda Speak
A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I am a missional, evangelical, post/protestant, liberal/conservative, mystical/poetic, biblical, charismatic/contemplative, fundamentalist/calvinist, ... anabaptist/anglican, metho
Show Them No Mercy
The Lord of the Rings
Life at the Bottom: The Worldview That Makes the Underclass
The Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception
Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming
The Chronicles of Narnia
Les Misérables

Darius Teichroew's favorite books »