Me I just sort of splurch the stuff on and spread it out sort of evenly with the tip of the tube. Works, temps are never above 60 at full stress test...a little e6300 @ 3.4 Ghz...
Oh Ya, you probaly won't find artic silver at Comp usa. If you do it will be twice the price. Heres one on line http://jab-tech.com/Thermal-Compound-c-52.html , gang it up with some other bits and bobs and It will offset the shipping cost.