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Monday, December 28, 2009

Beardage, Then and Now.

In order to reaffirm my masculinity, I feel it is important to periodically demonstrate my abilities to grow facial hair. It would seem as though "periodically" happens approximately every three years for me.
The first time I attempted to grow a full beard was immediately following my mission. I was so sick of having to shave every day that I decided to rebel. This first attempt did not go well. I think it only lasted maybe three weeks.
I will spare you any photos of this first attempt, mainly because I'm pretty sure I don't actually have any photos of this first attempt.

The second attempt went much better.


This was three summers ago, and I had the beard for pretty much all of the summer. I spend two months growing it out, then the last month I shaved it off in increments so I could try a few different styles.



I think my most recent attempt at a beard was the best one so far. Each beard seems to come in a little bit thicker than the one before. I was also a bit more meticulous with my trimming this time around.

Despite this beard looking totally rad, I really didn't like it much. Over the years my feelings on shaving have fluctuated quite a lot, but currently I am really excited about the idea. (This is possibly because I've spent a considerable amount of time actually learning how to do it properly, but that is a topic for a future post.) In addition to wanting to shave, I also felt that the beard made me appear older, and slightly more creepy than I would prefer. I figure since I am already freaking out about entering my late twenties, I don't need any help feeling older.

As a present to myself, I decided to shave the beard Christmas morning. Of Course I had to follow my tradition of shaving in increments.
Here is my favorite style:




I know this has a name, but I just like to call it my "Wolverine 'Stache".




Sadly, the beard is no more. I must admit that the last few days I have been suffering from a slight case of beard separation anxiety. It is hard to suddenly destroy something you have worked so hard to build over the course of many weeks. Oh well, I suppose I can always grow another one.

Anyway, to further preserve the memory of this awesome facial stubbery, here is one last picture of me looking slightly weird and angry:



p.s. Bonus points if you can identify the photo behind me. It just happens to be by my favorite photographer of all time.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Geriatrically Awesome!

The other day, my Dad (who is officially a senior citizen) said something I thought was really funny. He was in watching TV with my Mom when I walked into the room. He turned to me and said, "I feel very stylish...I am taking every medication I see advertised on TV!"
Is this what I have to look forward to when I get old? I don't know about you, but this is a style I am not anxious to be current on.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Avatar



I just returned from seeing James Cameron's new film "Avatar". Words cannot adequately describe the experience, but I will try. This was without question the single greatest theater going experience I have ever had! "Incredible" just doesn't do it justice. The movie is breathtakingly beautiful, awe inspiring, reverential at times. I had no idea that such things were possible. I am speechless just thinking about it. It truly is indescribably good!
The world James Cameron creates is so thoroughly immersive, it almost feels as though real life were a dream. I have never had such a physical, emotional, and mental response to a film before. I was completely enwrapped. I physically and verbally cheered in moments of delight and excitement. I cringed and clenched my fists in moments of anger and frustration. My jaw dropped in amazement many times. This movie involved me on every level. It really is a unique experience, and I wish I had had a camera trained on me throughout the film to record my reactions. I would love to be able to go back and witness my own responses to such a wonderfully new experience.
Make no mistake, this isn't just some new special-effects intensive popcorn movie; this is revolutionary. This is industry changing. Everything else pales in comparison.
Is it mostly CGI? Yes. Can you tell that it is CGI? Yes. Is all the CGI distracting or annoying? NO! James Cameron has finally found a way to do it right! This is the best CGI I have ever seen and the effects are seamless and beautiful. The look and style are very conducive to the alien world Cameron creates. After a while you stop thinking about the special effects and just allow yourself to be immersed in the world of Pandora. The 3D of the IMAX format takes some getting used to, but after a few minutes you will feel as though you are right there alongside each and every character. All I can say is, be prepared to be surprised!
In the weeks leading up to Avatar's release, I read everything I could find on it. Nothing I read even came close to doing it justice. One write-up talked about how the technology developed for Avatar would be the biggest thing to hit the film industry since sound! I was pretty sure that hype of this magnitude would be impossible to live up to; I now see that they were absolutely, 100% correct. After you see Avatar you will never look at another movie the same way again. I realize that not every film lends itself to Avatar's method of story telling, and that's okay; but for every imaginative, surreal, epic adventure, the bar has been raised. People will be talking about Avatar for a long, long time.
Coming in at 162 minutes, it is quite long. I absolutely recommend a preemptive stop in the restroom prior to the movie. Trust me, you will not want to miss a single second of this masterpiece. I honestly didn't want it to end. Avatar is so masterfully crafted that there is never a dull moment or a dragging minute. It could have easily been twice as long and I would have been thrilled. As the conflict resolved I felt a sense of apprehension come over me as I knew that the film was drawing to an end. I literally was disappointed when the screen went black because I wanted to remain on Pandora just a little longer. To paraphrase one reviewer, "for the better part of three hours, James Cameron makes you feel like a kid again." I agree with this statement whole-heartedly, and I can tell you that it felt very good. It felt like returning home after a long absence, or like something you have eagerly awaited for so long has finally come. Avatar is the film you have been waiting for, even if you don't know it yet.
The majority of the criticism for Avatar is directed at its story and dialogue. One review called Avatar a mix of Dances with Wolves and Fern Gully. I would say that this is an accurate description...but who cares! The story works! It is emotional, and touching, and thought provoking, and real! It grabs at your inner core and makes you ponder what it means to be both human, and humane.
It has also been criticized for containing environmentalist propaganda. My response to this is: Yes, Avatar has an underlying message(Gasp), but this is not necessarily environmental. Why is it a bad thing for a film to have a message it wants to get across, or a central theme that people can relate to, or a moral of some sort? I say the best films ARE the ones with a message, or that give you something to think about. Avatar is an allegory that can be applied to many situations that we face in the world every day, not just the environment, or our military campaigns. Some of its parallels hit very close to home, and I expect that different people will identify many different morals contained in Avatar. To me this is a sign of a very good film. Personally, I feel as though my appreciation for life has been enhanced by my participation in Avatar.
Definitely go see Avatar! Definitely see it in 3D! Definitely see it in the IMAX, if possible! I would say that if you have an IMAX theater within a two hour drive of your home, it is worth making that drive to see Avatar as it was meant to be seen.
I went in to Avatar with very high expectations. James Cameron is one of my favorite directors and he has produced some truly incredible films in the past. I was very much aware of all of the hype and rumor surrounding this film. I can honestly say that every one of my expectations was not only met, but blasted into outer space! I don't believe I have ever been so delighted by a film in all my life. I can't praise it enough. I will definitely be returning to the IMAX for another viewing.

My Top Ten...

To coincide with my bottom ten film list, I thought I would also present to you my current standing Top 10 Movie List:

1. It's a Wonderful Life


This has been my #1 favorite for a long, long time. I suppose at various times in our lives we all feel a bit like George Bailey. The lessons he learns, with the help of an angel named Clarence, I believe to be essential life lessons that we all must learn. This has become a Christmas classic, which is nice, but I don't actually think this is a Christmas movie. The conclusion of the film happens to take place at Christmas time, but the film largely is set during other times of the year. I'm glad that most people watch this movie at least once a year, but I think it is an excellent film for any time or season.

Here is a good quote by Karolyn Grimes (who played Zuzu) on what makes the film so important: "The film is timeless -- it applies to yesterday, today and tomorrow. We can all identify with the fellow whose dreams never quite work out the way he envisioned for himself. But in the end, we reflect on our own lives and realize that we have touched others and truly made a difference. We also are reminded, once again, what really are the most important things in our lives: faith, family and friends."


2. Life Is Beautiful


This is a hard movie to watch, but I love it. The first half of the film has some of the most genuine romance I have ever seen, and the last half is powerful, tragic, and life altering. To me, Life is Beautiful is the best hollocaust film ever made. I found it to be far more moving than Schindler's List without showing anything graphic. This movie will change your life!







3. Big Fish


There is just something about this movie that is hard to describe, but it gets me every time. This often absurd story covers a lot of ground, all of which is profound. I love this movie! If you haven't seen it, you need to, immediately!








4. Forrest Gump


I know a lot of people who don't like this movie very much, and I can't understand why. To me, Forrest Gump is about seeing the best in all people. Here is a man who is so simple minded that he doesn't really see the differences in people that sometimes lead to prejudices. He is genuine and caring, and unquestionably loyal. I think if we all learned to look at the world through the eyes of Forrest Gump, the world would be a better place.





5. Gattaca

Gattaca is science fiction at its best. It masterfully portrays the triumph of the human spirit over seemingly insurmountable obstacles. I think that as our society progresses, this film will become even more relevant than the time at which is was originally made. That alone is an indication of how good this movie really is.








6. The Shawshank Redemption

If ever there was a film that exemplified making the best of a bad situation, this would be it.  Inspirational is an understatement.










7. Return To Me


This has been one of my favorite movies for a really long time. I know it's sort of cheesy, and a bit predictable, but I love it! Roger Ebert called it a PG rated adult romance. "Here's an old-fashioned love story so innocent, so naive, so sweet and sincere, that you must leave your cynicism at the door or choose another movie. Bonnie Hunt's "Return to Me" could have been made in 1955, starring Doris Day and James Stewart. " -Roger Ebert
I don't remember the circumstances now, but this movie came to me at a time when I needed a pick-me-up, and it has helped me in this respect many times over the years.




8. (500) Days of Summer

Often when I am going through a difficult time, I somehow seem to find the perfect movie to make me feel better. This is exactly what (500) Days of Summer did for me. It came to me literally the very day I was upset after having my hopes for another relationship shattered. It helped me to have a positive outlook again.
A comparison with Annie Hall is unavoidable, but I never really found common ground with Annie Hall like I did with (500) Days of Summer. If any woman is wondering how it feels to be a guy after being rejected, especially those prone to pining and infatuation, they need to see this film. I've dealt with a lot of rejection, and this movie perfectly illustrates the mental, and emotional process I always seem to go through.

9. Love Actually


Yet another film that came to me at a time when I was despairing over some failed attempt at a relationship. Many of the films on my top ten list earned their place by associating themselves with periods of my life filled with great emotion. Love Actually is quite simply the ultimate romantic comedy. It tells eight stories simultaneously, and chances are you will identify with at least one of them. It is absolutely delightful, and whenever I am feeling down, it is guaranteed to put a smile on my face. I like to think of Love Actually as a cure for the holiday blues.





10. Dan in Real Life


I have no idea if or when this movie was in theaters. I never heard anything about it. I first saw it based solely on my parents recommendation; I fell instantly in love with it. The titular character demonstrates my personality almost perfectly. His reactions to less than ideal circumstances really hit home to me. I identify with this movie in a very personal way, and it has become very special to me.






There you have my top ten list of movies. Once again, these are only my opinions and don't really have any value whatsoever, so don't get upset if you disagree. I welcome any comments, especially lists of some of your favorite movies.

My Bottom Ten...

Anyone who knows me, knows that I love movies. There is almost nothing that I enjoy more than discussing my favorite films. Unfortunately, over the years, there have been a handful of truly awful films which produce in me a reaction I can only describe as a mental dry heave. Keep in mind, these films are not necessarily poor quality films, nor are they "bad" movies. They are films which either insulted my intelligence, or left me feeling disappointed in every way imaginable. These are the films which robbed me of a portion of my life that I will never get back. With that, I present to you my bottom ten:

1. Elf

Seriously, how did this movie even manage to get made? Did somebody actually sit down and write that crap? I wish I could have been in the meeting when this film got the go-ahead, just so I could find out how a bunch of Hollywood big-wigs could have possibly convinced someone that this movie was a good idea. I consider it an atrocity to mankind that this has come to be considered as a "holiday classic". I know most people disagree with me, but this is a truly awful movie.







2. The Graduate

#9 on AFI's list of the funniest movies of the century...I must have missed something because there was not a single funny thing about this movie. It was just despicable, depressing, and pointless. I will never feel the same way about Simon and Garfunkel again, and that is a shame.








3. Phantom of the Opera

Excellent Broadway musical, amazing music...awful movie. Everyone I know who has actually seen the live musical, hates the movie; and everyone I know who loves the movie, has not seen the musical. They slightly changed the story, changed some of the songs, added a few laughable scenes, hired the worst possible actor to play the Phantom, and assembled a cast that did not have the vocal talent to do justice to the music. That being said, I don't think there was any way possible for them to match Sarah Brightman and Michael Crawford. This movie should not have been made.




4. Labyrinth

Do people seriously like this movie? I dare someone to name one thing about this film that was actually good...and you'd better not say David Bowie's sweet contact juggling skills!









5. The Day After Tomorrow

They got chased by ice!........I am seriously speechless. You really just need to see the look on my face right now.











6. The Cider House Rules

This was supposed to be a touching story of a young, naive boy, who with the help of his caring mentor, discovers life and comes of age. Instead it came across as a sleazy, immoral, abomination of a film. Apparently coming of age happens when you start drinking, get a girl pregnant, and engaging in all sorts of other unseemly behavior. This film is a blemish in the otherwise excellent career of Michael Caine. This is also the film which made me hate Charlize Theron, and dislike Toby Maguire. Thank goodness he was redeemed with Spiderman and Spiderman 2. Let's just forget about Spiderman 3 though.



7. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Similar to The Cider House Rules, what should have been a touching story about life, just turned trashy and disappointing. Benjamin Button is an extraordinary individual who lives an ordinary life. The real hiccough of the story is that whenever Benjamin Button has a major decision to make, he always seems to make the wrong one. These bad decisions include: having affairs, getting a woman pregnant, not marrying the woman, abandoning the woman and his child, having even more affairs, drinking, and general irresponsibility, just to name a few.
For anyone who saw the movie and hated it, and felt that there was potential that was seemingly untapped; I would recommend reading the original F. Scott Fitzgerald's short story that this movie is supposedly based on. Everything I wrong with the movie was right with the short story. After reading the original story, I can tell you that the filmmakers truly butchered a very moving tale.

8. You Don't Mess With the Zohan

I was pretty excited about this movie; I thought it had a lot of potential to be funny. An expert Israeli special forces soldier who moves to America to fulfill his life long dream of being a hair dresser? How could that not be funny? Unfortunately the story is bloated with the crudest sex situations you could imagine, extremely unfunny racial jokes, and displays the extreme poor taste which is so pervasive in modern comedies. I felt extremely deceived and violated by this movie. It should have been rated R. I'm no Adam Sandler fan, but this is definitely the least of his films.




9. The Saint

Awful! Awful, awful awful, from start to finish it is awful. This movie made me hate Val Kilmer and Elizabeth Shue. I wasn't much of a fan of either of them prior to this movie, but it really made me hate them. Shue is far too ditsy and downright idiotic to be convincing as a nuclear physicist who has unlocked the secret of cold fusion. Kilmer...well, actually I don't even know what he was supposed to be doing. I guess he was some sort of super thief who used James Bond and Mission Impossible style gadgets to steal things. It sounds cool, but it just isn't. I don't know how long this movie is, but I want back whatever space of time it stole from my life!



10. Amadeus

I am aware that this film won best picture, however, that does not make it good in my eyes. Every time Mozart in on screen or utters that henous laugh of his, I just want to punch him in the face; punch the director in the face, punch every person who had a hand in making this movie in the face! I'm not a violent person, but this movie makes me have all sorts of violent cinematic fantasies. It is no bueno.






I know many of you probably disagree with some, or all, of the films on my list. Please don't hate me for my taste in movies. This is nothing more than my own opinion and really isn't worth anything in the grand scheme of things. I like talking about movies I hate almost as much as I like talking about movies I love. I would like very much to hear about some of the films(so called) that you would put on your own bottom ten lists...

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Disturbing Dream


Last night I had a dream which disturbed me greatly. I woke up in a state of panic, and was so unnerved that I had trouble getting back to sleep.

I was at a beach, which was strangely vacant. The only other people present were total strangers...and one friend. My friend was pretty far away and seemed uninterested in spending time with me. I felt as though I didn't belong, so I left.
I climbed the steps up the rock wall leading to the parking lot. I had no transportation, so I just wandered around the parking lot for a while.
After some time, I was joined in the parking lot by my friend. Usually I really enjoy talking to this person; this time however, the conversation was one that I have been dreading might happen for real at some point.
I asked a question, which my friend thought about for a moment before answering. The answer was exactly the one I didn't want. I was crushed and humiliated, saddened and panic stricken. I tried to persuade this person otherwise, but it was no use.
I looked to the nearby road, and in a moment of desperation I ran into the middle of it. The moment the truck hit, my dream changed from first person to third person and I saw my body thrown aside.
This was the point at which I woke up. I think this was my first ever "death" dream. I'm slightly concerned about this. Those actions in no way reflect any of my waking thoughts.
Yesterday I did watch a TV show where a guy steps in front of a truck, but in his case the truck stopped. I hope this dream isn't a warning sign of more serious issues.
More than the thought of my demise, the thing which caused me the most distress was the conversation I had with my friend. The results of that discussion are what really terrified me and kept me awake last night.
I can only hope that when this conversation happens for real, the results will be far more satisfactory.
Anyone out there adept at interpreting dreams?

Friday, December 4, 2009

Reputation

This morning I was reminded of a humorous encounter I had a few years ago. I'm not sure what reminded me of it, but here it is none the less:

I was meeting a friend and one of his coworker(someone I had never met) for lunch one day at LBS in Logan. (LBS has the best burgers and sandwiches on the planet by the way. Try the Logan Club, it's my favorite.)

Anyway, when I was introduced to the coworker, he said to me, "you look familiar, didn't we meet in prison a while back?"

In response to that question my friend started laughing hysterically. He turned to his coworker and said, "No! Definitely not! This guy signals before turning into a parking stall!"

We all had a good laugh about that one, and it still puts a smile on my face.

While I appreciate having a good reputation, I'm not so sure I want signalling into parking stalls to be my defining characteristic. What do you all think?

Monday, November 30, 2009

I Get It Now!


Last week I had a strange experience which puzzled me for a brief time until I brushed it aside and figured it was nothing. I was sitting in the Union Building in between classes(as usual) and reading a book(as usual) when I was approached by a small herd of girls. Yes, girls do travel in herds. Anyway, the leader of the herd had a clipboard. I was all prepared for an awkward interview on a subject I was not particularly interested in. What she said instead surprised me. She said, "I enjoy how focused you are on your book. What's your name?" Slightly suspicious of her intentions, I reluctantly told her my name. She wrote it down on her clipboard and then the herd moved off as quickly as it had approached. I sat there for a moment in quiet vexation, before concluding that it must have been some strange assignment for a class I would never have to take. That was pretty much the last time I thought about the experience until today.
I was perusing one of my friends latest blog posts when I saw a link from her page to an interesting looking blog. I decided to surf on over to that other blog and see what it was about. What it is about is doing little nice things every day to try and make the world a better place. Quickly I discovered THIS recent post which just happened to give an assignment to compliment a total stranger. I have no idea if my experience is in any way related to this blog, but as soon as I saw it, it gave a certain reassurance that perhaps there was some reason behind that girls awkward compliment. Anyway, it's a very "nice" blog with a lot of really neat ideas. I encourage you to give it a read.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving Dinner(s)

This Thanksgiving season I had a total of 5, yes five Thanksgiving style dinners. Allow me to list them for you:
1 - Thanksgiving dinner provided by the Non-Trad student center at WSU.
2 - Ward service auction/Thanksgiving Dinner.
3 - Erica's residence hall Thanksgiving party/dinner.
4 - Sunday dinner at Cherie's house.
5 - Actual family Thanksgiving dinner on Thanksgiving day.
I am curious how many Thanksgiving dinners everyone else has had this season. I'm pretty sure this is the most I have ever had. I really like Thanksgiving!

Black Friday

Last night, or early this morning, whichever you prefer; I had my first ever Black Friday experience. My brother Andrew convinced me to wake up at 2:30 AM so we could get to Old Navy's sale starting at 3:00 AM.
Some things were exactly what I expected, but other parts surprised me. When we got there, there was a line going out the door and around the side of the building. Luckily the line moved swiftly so we didn't have to wait out in the cold for very long. Once inside I was surprised that there was none of the pushing, shoving, or arguing over sale items that I was expecting. In fact there was sort of a hushed silence over the store, as if people were well aware of the unholy hour of the morning they had chosen to do their shopping.
Andrew and I both easily found the items we were looking for, tried them on, and then began our 45 minute wait in the check-out line. We got out of the store at 4:10 AM. Besides the long wait for a register, it was a pretty standard Old-Navy experience. I think the effort was well worth the $15 jeans. I don't think I would do it again for just any old sale.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Hiding Place



This afternoon I finished reading a fantastic book! The Hiding Place is about a Dutch Christian family who hides Jews in their home amidst the German occupation of Holland during the second world war. In addition to being a fantastic, true story, it is full of profound examples of people who truly live the teachings of Christ.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, however at times it is difficult to read. It treats the gruesome subject matter delicately, but it is difficult to not physically cringe at some of the atrocities described. Several times while reading, I was overcome with emotion and wanted to cry out, "How could people do such terrible things?"
I had an experience while reading The Hiding Place that was completely new to me. I should first explain that it is very rare for me to have an emotional response due to something I am reading. I love reading, and I get really into books, but I always seem to separate what I read from any sort of real feeling. I suppose I usually read purely for enjoyment. Last week I was in the Union Building on campus, and I had a break between classes, so I decided to read the next chapter in my spare time. The chapter I read happened to be Chapter 5, entitled Invasion. Some hard things are described in this chapter. For the first time in my life, there in the middle of the Union Building, I broke down in tears because of something I had read. I don't think I want to describe why I became so emotional during this particular chapter; I wouldn't want to potentially spoil anything. I imagine that everyone who reads this book has a slightly different reaction to it, but it surprised me how much feeling came through those words.
One of the most wonderful elements of the book, is that despite the horrors that are described, the prevailing theme of the book is gratitude and faith. Gratitude for all things, and in all circumstances. At one point, the barracks of a concentration camp are described as being completely infested with fleas. Upon arriving in the filthy place, one of the imprisoned women kneels down and thanks God for the fleas. It wasn't until much later that they discovered that they had enjoyed a great deal of freedom in those barracks thanks to those fleas. The guards hated going into that particular barracks, so the female inmates were able to get away with a lot of things that otherwise would not have been possible. The women were able to hold religious services and openly teach from The Bible, all thanks to a flea infestation.
It is fitting that I finished reading such an amazing book on Thanksgiving Day. I would like to thank my friend Melanie for recommending it to me. In turn, I recommend The Hiding Place to all my friends.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Midnight Lights

So I had a weird experience last night. I was lying in bed trying unsuccessfully to sleep when all of a sudden(at about 12:05 am) my room is illuminated with a super bright blue light from outside. First I thought to myself, "Is someone shining their headlights into my window?" But then I realized that my window is on the wrong side of the house for that to happen. The light quickly changed from blue to brilliant white. With the changing color I thought to myself, "Is someone lighting fireworks outside?" But of course I realized that I would have heard them if that were the case. Suddenly the light changed to red, and now I jumped out of bed thinking that there was a fire outside. I looked out the window and all I could see were the Christmas lights on my neighbors house. Completely puzzled I laid back down and tried to figure out what I had seen. I couldn't explain it at all. These spectacularly bright lights only lasted maybe three seconds max. I got up several times to look out the window again hoping I would see something that would explain what I had seen. I knew that no Christmas lights could light up my room as if it were day time...so what was it? In my mind I was considering everything from heavenly visitors and UFOs to some prankster with a billion candle power spotlight.
Eventually I fell asleep, and didn't get a chance to investigate further until after school. On my way home I caught the tail end of a radio news program that talked about bright lights in the sky and something the size of an oven.
As soon as I got home I hopped on the computer and quickly found the answer to this amazing experience. A METEOR!
Here is a link to a bunch of good videos.
Here is a link to the news coverage.
This was a pretty incredible, once-in-a-lifetime experience. I'm glad I was a awake for it. I just wish I was outside looking up at the sky when it happened. I need to do more star gazing.
So did any of you see the lights? I'd love to hear about your experiences.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Willis

For my birthday in October, my brother gave me one of the single greatest gifts of all time. This is something I have wanted for the last nine years. This is something truly amazing. I present to you my new favorite shirt:


That's right! I'm What Willis Was Talking About!!
If you haven't heard the catchphrase that this originates from. Here is a little clip from Diff'rent Strokes.

The Dentist

I LOVE going to the dentist! No really, I do. I always have. I suppose I like it for the same reasons women like going to the spa, or having their nails done. I like the feeling of being carefully cared for. I really enjoy lying back in that comfortable chair, with that bright light shinning above me. I especially like when the dentist uses the little scraper thing on my gums and teeth. I get a sort of all-over tingly sensation that I suppose accompanies anything with a gentle personal touch. I suppose I might feel differently if I were prone to all kinds of complications, but I've never had so much as a cavity. I have pretty awesome teeth.
In honor of my awesome dentist appointment today I thought I would post a link to my favorite song from one of the single greatest musicals of all time...Little Shop of Horrors. Enjoy!

Monday, November 9, 2009

500 Days of Summer

"This is a story of boy meets girl; but you should know up front, this is not a love story."

The few people who know me really well also know that I have a weakness for romantic movies. I know I'm a guy and I'm supposed to like movies with guns, and explosions, and hot girls driving fast cars...and I do, to a certain extent; but deep down I'm really just a hopeful romantic. (Don't tell anyone, ok?)
Anyway, I recently discovered a new favorite movie; 500 Days of Summer. This movie is absolutely fantastic, and is probably the most realistic film about relationships that I have ever seen. How do I know it's realistic? Well, simply because it describes, almost exactly, the pattern that has been present in all of the significant relationships I have had in my life. I frequently relate to life through the movies I see, and this one is as applicable as they come.
This isn't a fluffy, predictable movie about finding the great love of your life through extraordinary circumstances; this is a down-to-earth story about the relationship struggles we often must pass through in the pursuit of love. The hard truth is that no matter how certain we are of our feelings for someone, often the relationship doesn't turn out the way we want it to. The trick seems to be learning what you can from each relationship, and then moving forward until you finally meet that certain someone who is equally certain about you.
After seeing 500 Days of Summer, it seems as though the last several years of my life have been as if this movie were stuck on repeat. Perhaps one day I will finally learn the necessary lessons, allowing the movie of my dating life to end, and the story of my real life to finally begin.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Seriously?


Four and a half miles per hour? Really? Does this seem even remotely reasonable? I don't know about you, but I'm pretty sure I've never seen a car speedometer with one-mile-per-hour increments, let alone half-mile increments.
I can sort of see where they are going with this. I get that they are trying to tell people that they Really, Really, Really don't want them speeding; and I understand how 5 mph turns into 10, and how 10 mph turns into 20, but really? Could this inane speed even be enforced?
I tried really hard to actually drive the 4.5 mph, and it was painfully slow. A suicidal squirrel could have jumped right in front of my tire and I could have stopped in time...
Anyway, I thought the speed limit sign was pretty funny, so I thought I would share it with everyone on the world wide web. You're welcome!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween in Review


I usually don't like Halloween parties because I hate dressing up in costume, and I usually feel really awkward in large groups. I don't know if the parties have changed or if I have changed, but this year...Halloween was awesome! I dawned the gorilla suit for two different parties, and went to a third party where costumes were optional. As for the awkwardness, that vanished as I focused on meeting all the fun new people that were in attendance. I used to feel so out of place when I didn't know many people, but now I've started enjoying getting to know people. I've already made some good friends out of the effort. This was a very good season for me, and I'm really looking forward to what the rest of the year has in store.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

I just realized that I never got around to writing a review of this amazing book!
I saw the movie over the summer and was so moved by the story that I immediately hopped online and purchased a copy of the book it is based on.
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is the real life personal narrative of Jean-Dominique Bauby, the former editor of ELLE magazine in France.
Jean-Do, as he is called by his friends, suffered a stroke which left him completely paralyzed head to toe...except for his left eyelid. Both the book and the movie describe his thoughts and experiences as he comes to terms with his tragic condition.
The story itself, and the events described, are seriously profound; but the real magic of the story comes through understanding how the book was written.
Jean-Dominique wrote the book himself, after suffering this so called "locked-in-syndrome." He did this with the aid of an assistant who would recite the alphabet, beginning with the most frequently used letters, and Jean-Do would blink when she came to the letter he wanted to use. He would compose and memorize entire passages of his book at a time, until he could recite them to the scribe.
Knowing that every single letter of the book was painstakingly blinked out by Jean-Dominique Bauby causes one to literally hang on every word. He died only days after it's publication in France.
It isn't a long book; an average reading could probably read the whole thing in two or three hours; but it is definitely a book that is so profound that it will cause you to view life from a completely different perspective.
I liked the book and the film equally, but for different reasons. I highly recommend them both.

Sweeney Todd

Friday night I had a truly choice experience. I got to take a date up to Logan to see USU's production of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street!
A pleasantly long drive, followed by pizza at Fredrico's provided an excellent beginning to the evening. We got to double with my brother Andrew and his date Erika, who happens to be one of my favorite people in Logan. Since I moved, I don't get to see my brother as often, so it was nice that we all got to go together.
Going in, I was completely unaware of the characters or story in Sweeney Todd. I never saw the film, or any other production, so in all respects, this was my first ever Sweeney Todd experience. Let me begin by saying that it was amazing!
My date is very well versed not only with Sweeney Todd, but with theater in general, and she thought it was fantastic. We both agreed that it was the best university production either of us had ever seen.
I was really impressed by the nature of the story. It was really a deep and poignant, yet tragic tale. I really loved all of the characters, their individual stories, and the life lessons that were presented through their experiences.
The production was fantastic! I'm really glad we sprang for the good seats on the front row so we could really take in all the little details that might otherwise go unnoticed. We were so close we could see the sweat dripping and the spit flying! It was also thrilling to see my friend Andrea in the ensemble cast. She did a great job!

The music was different than anything I have ever heard in any other musical. I'm still not sure exactly what I thought of it, but it was very good. I thought the drama was excellent. I was surprised at some of the twists and close calls that were present, there were a lot of parts that really surprised me, or had me on the edge of my seat. I was also surprised at how funny it was. Some of the songs portrayed truly vile acts, but I laughed through the whole thing. There were also a lot of more subtle moments that the actors were able to use to generate big laughs. I've definitely never seen anything quite like it before. Overall I thought it was excellent, and well worth the trip to Logan.
The excursion yielded many highlights, not least of which was the disappointingly brief drive back to Bountiful. I had a fantastic evening and wished it could have lasted longer.

The Picture of Dorian Gray


Friday I finished reading The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. I must say that I was extremely impressed by this story.
I already knew Oscar Wilde to be an amazing author because his other famous work, The Importance of Being Ernest, is one of my favorite plays.
Dorian Gray is completely different, but no less amazing. I actually had a difficult time reading Dorian Gray because Oscar Wilde's vocabulary is so immense that I found myself looking up, on average, three words per page. I actually bought a small dictionary to keep with me whenever I was reading this book.
Dorian Gray was a little slow to get going, and it took sort of a boring turn in the middle, but the last third of the novel was very impressive.
The character of Dorian Gray truly is one of the greatest, and most evil villains to ever grace the printed page. As the reader you are both disgusted by him, and fascinated by him. You wonder if he could possibly become more evil, and then he proves that he can. Despite all this, you also hope that somehow he may realize the error of his ways and find redemption.
The last third of the novel really was my favorite. It was thrilling, suspenseful, hopeful, disturbing, shocking, truly terrifying, and immensely satisfying.
I am always nervous when I approach the final pages of a book and there is no clear resolution in sight. This was the case with Dorian Gray. Even up to the last two pages it seemed as though a proper end could not possibly be achieved, but in Oscar Wilde's genius he manages to produce a surprisingly satisfying conclusion in the last few paragraphs of the story.
My initial reaction after finishing a book is always a good overview of what I thought of the book as a whole. After completing The Picture of Dorian Gray, I closed the book, sighed in satisfaction, and verbally declared, "That was very good."

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Blog Explosion!

I just published 12 posts all at once! It's a blog explosion!




















It's like my blog just got roundhouse kicked by Chuck Norris!




















If my blog were a baby, it just got punched in the face!














Special thanks to Drew "Peacock" Thomas for punching this baby in the face!

Enjoy!

Things That Must Go!

I always listen to X96 in the morning while I am driving to school. I love their segment "Things That Must Go." Inspired by this excellent radio segment, I present to you, in no particular order, my own personal list of things that must go:

1. Flipflops









Flipflops are great...IF YOU ARE GOING TO THE BEACH!
These annoyingly ubiquitous little sandals were once just a casual pool side accessory, now they are the all-occasion, all-weather, footwear of choice for twenty-somethings everywhere. You may remember(but probably not) the White House flip flop scandal of 2005 where the etiquette of flip flops in formal situations was addressed. A group of High School girls wore flip flops in conjunction with their dresses to meet the President of the United States at the White House!
If I knew I was going to meet the President, I would definitely not show up looking like I was ready for a day at the beach.
I am of the opinion that these little foam soles are too casual for pretty much every place you commonly see them. It irritates me that people wear these things to school, church, work, and on dates. I've even known some girls that have worn them with their wedding dress! Seriously what has happened to our sense of propriety? Get some real shoes people!

2. Cilantro








For some reason this disgusting little herb has been popping up in everything lately. I don't know if I am unusually sensitive to its flavor but, to me, it is overpowering and sickening. It seems to have a very sharp metallic copper flavor which is something I do not want to taste in my food. It's gotten so bad that I've had to make a mental list of places that put cilantro in their food so I can avoid them.

3. People who wear those Bluetooth headsets EVERYWHERE!










If ever there were a certain tell-all sign of douche-baggery, this would be it. I'm not opposed to these little gizmos in general, but I honestly struggle to think of a situation where using one doesn't make you look like a total "renob". I can pretty much a guarantee that if you see someone who is always wearing one of these, even when they aren't in the middle of a call, they are certainly a douche-bag of the highest degree. For more information on the subject please visit this link.

4. Guys in skinny jeans.













Ladies, do any of you honestly find this look attractive? I challenge anyone to find a guy who looks better in skinny jeans than in any other kind of trouser-based article of clothing! I'm confident that such a person doesn't exist. Every time I walk past some weird guy in skinny jeans I literally start to dry heave! I'm struggling to even write this post because I keep having weird convulsions while thinking about them! They just need to die quickly and go away for ever! If you are a wearer of skinny jeans, shame on you!

5. Vampires









In an earlier incarnation of this yet unpublished blog post I had a quite lengthy rant and rave session on the ridiculousness of the current popularity of vampires. I decided to ditch this tirade in favor of a single image which perfectly sums up my feelings on the subject.
(Disclaimer: The image is slightly crude, and possibly offensive, so view at your own discretion. Also, while the conciseness of the visual slam against vampires appeals to me, the insinuations made do not reflect my own personal feelings or method of expression. I did not create the image or its captions, I am merely posting the link.)

...BEST...ROADTRIP...EVER!

The week before Fall semester started, Andrew was home from working at the scout camp all summer, and I had just moved home. Since this would probably be the last time we would be at home together for a significant amount of time we decided to take advantage of the opportunity and go on a road trip. Destination...San Francisco! Here is photo documentation of the highlights of our trip, which were many. Enjoy!

The first day was pretty much just boring driving. Until we got to...Lake Tahoe!


The fresh mountain air was so exhilarating that we decided to go running. Actually I decided to go running and forced Andrew to come along. Here I am stretching as obnoxiously as possible.

We camped out overnight at Lake Tahoe. The best part about the campsite? THE BEAR BOX!
We really had fun camping. That night we hiked up to a smaller lake near our campsite and looked at the stars for probably an hour. The night sky was so vivid and clear, it was amazing! It's been a long time since I've done some good star gazing.

I was amazed at how beautiful and sandy the beaches were. This lake is HUGE!
I thoroughly enjoyed our brief stay in Lake Tahoe. I am really anxious to go back. The only things that would make it better would be riding bikes, and a hot babe to share it with. Oh yeah!


I was sad to leave Lake Tahoe, but we saw some great scenery on the way out. The lake is somewhere out in the distance.


Andrew and I both have a love of cars. Whenever we go on a trip we purposely plan our route to take us by as many good car locations as possible. Our first stop was at an auto brokerage warehouse just outside of San Francisco.


In San Francisco we went some Japanese garden place. It was pretty cool...I guess.

This is my kind of thrift store!
It's hard to tell from the photo, but the yellow dress is on a male mannequin. Nice!


While we were in San Francisco we stayed with our Uncle and his family. Our first full day in town he invited us to come visit him at his office where he was going to take us on a mystery adventure.

Yeah, he works here. He is the CIO of McKesson, the 13th largest company in the U.S. That's a pretty big deal apparently.
When we got to his building, we checked in at security, were issued temporary visitor passes, and then one of our Uncle's secretaries came to escort us to his office. It was all very official.

Here is the view from his office on the 37th floor.

What was the top secret adventure you ask? Well somehow with his connections he tracked down the company where they film the TV show Mythbusters, so we went there, had a tour of the place, and met everybody! It was pretty much amazing, especially since we are just a big family of geeks who love the kind of things they do on the show.
That's our Uncle Randy on the left. Our awesome cousin Avi is next to him. He does amazing things with robots and Nerf guns by the way.


The following day on our way out of San Francisco we did some touristy things, but first...we had to check out some more cars. While we were driving around in a somewhat dodgy area of San Francisco trying to find a particular car museum, we stumbled upon this place:
We had no idea it was any where near there. We literally turned around a corner and were like, "What the heck? There's Pixar!" Security looked pretty tight so we didn't try to go in the front gates. Instead we crossed the street and went here:
Nice right? They had an original Shelby Cobra. Original! I'll probably never see another one again. They are pretty darn rare.


We crossed a bridge:
We crossed another bridge:

We drove around on the crazy steep streets of San Fran:
We drove up to Coit Tower to take a look around and use the funky self cleaning bathroom thing.
We drove Lombard Street:

On our way out of the city we crossed the Golden Gate Bridge:
I really wanted to jog across it, but we were on a tight schedule. Text time I'm running across that dang bridge!

This is me all exciting about driving across the Golden Gate Bridge:

I got even more excited when we went here:

Where we saw these beauties:
and these:
and these:
and these:
Aren't they gorgeous! If I had to pick between an Aston Martin and a hot girlfriend, it would be the dilemma of the millennium! It would require at least several days worth of carefully weighing the pros and cons of each option. I mean this girl would have to be pretty dang hot to even be considered on the same ballot! I honestly have no idea what I would choose...but it would probably be the car. Hmmm...maybe that's why I don't have a girlfriend...

I particularly love the interior:
"I want that."
The Aston Martin sales associate was super cool too! His name is Andrew and he is from Scotland. He is pretty much as big of an Aston Martin geek as we are so he took us all over the place and talked cars with us for quite a while. It was pretty cool!
Finally we had to wipe the drool from our mouths and tear our sweaty bodies away from these beauties. Ok so our reaction to the cars wasn't quite that graphic, but who cares!


We drove for quite a while before we got to our next destination. On the plus side we got to go through some sweet tunnels!
"And then?...the tunnel..."

All these tunnels took us to Yosemite. I've decided that this is my new favorite national park!
Good old El Capitan'.

We made sure we spent some time in the Ansel Adams Gallery, where I purchased several nice prints as souvenirs.

Leaving Yosemite was interesting. We encountered some extreme changes in terrain in a very short amount of time. First it was stuff like this:
About ten minutes later it was stuff like this:
The gravel was really weird; it was so loose it felt like walking on sponge.

About five minutes later we were driving through this:
Poor fire damaged trees...

The last part of our exodus from Yosemite was the most fun as we encountered some very twisty roads with lots of dips. We were having so much fun on these roads we made a few videos.

video
This was before we got the really good dips. After driving through stuff like that for a while, we finally came to a sign that said "Dips Next 5 Miles." We thought what we had just gone through was pretty dippy, but we had no idea what was in store.

Ok, you can't really tell from the video, but these dips are HUGE! It was like riding a roller coaster! There were some dips with massive scrapes at the bottom. We set the cruise control at the posted speed limit, so we didn't get to crazy, and then we just enjoyed the ride.
video

Well, there you have it. This is our amazing road trip in a nutshell. I have tons more pictures so if you want to see more of them just ask. Perhaps I could do a follow-up entry some day.