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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Don't Panic

Last night I finished reading The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. Coming in at only 215 pages, it is quite a quick read. It could easily be read in a single day, if you were so inclined. It took me a bit longer than that.

Hitchhiker is often found high-up on various collections of the best books, or greatest novels, or other lofty lists. With that in mind, I was expecting greatness.

It was ok...I guess...

It made me laugh several times, and the descriptions and commentary were quite funny, and it was interesting to see several phrases which have worked their way into common usage, but beyond that, I thought it was pretty boring.
I would say that it is worth reading, but don't expect much, if anything. I think if you are only expecting something that is slightly clever, and mildly witty, and not literary genius, you will probably enjoy this book more than I did. I would also suggest reading it in as few sittings as possible. Not much actually happens in the story, so if you take long breaks between chapters, you may get a bit lost.

Amusing, but largely forgettable, is how I would describe it. Actually, it may prove to be more entertaining after reading it for the second time. Dry humor usually seems to work that way.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Name the Movie

Here is a quiz for you. What do you get when you mix Albert Finney, Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman, Jacqueline Bisset, Sean Connery, Anthony Perkins, Vanessa Redgrave, Michael York, and Agatha Christie? I'll give you a hint...it involves a train...and a little bit of murder...and Hercule Poirot, and it's totally awesome!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Compliment

The last week or two I've been feeling pretty down. I've felt stuck in a rut, and alone.
Most of my best friends are far away, and things haven't been working out like I had hoped.
I guess you could say that I've had a lot of disappointments lately.

Despite all that, today was a good day.

I went to a stake activity tonight to mingle with friends and acquaintances.
One of my friends gave me a compliment that made me blush, and smile from ear to ear.
She told me that I should win an award for being the friendliest person in the ward.
This really meant a lot to me. I don't receive compliments very often, so this was really nice to hear. Also, I'm really glad that people see me as a friendly person.

Thank you! You made my day! :)

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Maltese Falcon

I just finished reading The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett. I picked this book up last summer at an "all the books you can fit in a bag for $6.00" sale in Logan. I didn't really care about reading it at the time, but I had seen the movie, and figured I might pick it up some day. As I recall, I didn't particularly like the movie...but hey, it's a classic! Right?
Anyway, recently I've gotten on a detective novel kick, so I figured I might as well give it a go.
It was ok I guess, but honestly I didn't care for it much. It was just kind of boring. I suppose it had sort of a twist ending, but the twist was kind of predictable. I suppose if you are into classic detective novels, this one is probably worth reading, but otherwise you don't need to worry about it.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Goin' To See Mr. Zeus!

Saturday, some friends and I hiked Mount Olympus...the one in Salt Lake City, not Greece.
Greece would have been way cooler, but we couldn't afford the plane ticket...

I've done this little hike before, but it was eight or nine years ago.
Amazingly, I'm in way better shape now than when I was younger.
Back then I didn't no nuthin', but now I've taken up runnin', exercisin', and competitive paintball playin', so that helps a bit...

It was supposed to be a big group of us including myself, Tatiana, Shelly, Jason, and a bunch of people Jason was bringing.

Shelly, Tatiana, and I rode together, and arrived on time, but everyone else was running late, so we started without them. :)

It was pretty easy going until the last mile when we hit snow.

It wouldn't have been so bad had we not all been wearing running shoes. It was very slippery, and we had to fight for every footstep. It really slowed us down, but we persevered.

Tatiana stuck with us until we got to the saddle, and then she didn't want to risk the rocky climb, so Shelly and I went ahead on our own.

30 minutes later we happily found ourselves on the peak!

We didn't waste any time! We took a look around, snapped a few pictures, and then we were on our way back down the mountain!


Going down was way more slippery than going up, because it had gotten warmer. At least it made it a lot faster!

We slid most of the way down the snowy mile. This is also when we ran into Jason and part of his group. They were still heading for the peak, so we told them what to expect and then resumed our sliding.

As soon as we hit dry ground...we were running!

Shelly and I ran down the mountain until we caught up with Tatiana and a few people from the other group who stayed behind.

We stopped to talk for a bit, and I ate a squashed samich!

Then...more running! We ran nonstop the rest of the way down.

It was 10 miles round trip, and took us three and half hours to get to the top, but only one and a half to get back down! We could have made it much quicker on the way up, but the snow slowed us down a lot.

It was an awesome hike!

P.S. If it seems as though I only have pictures of Shelly, that's because I neglected to whip out my camera until we started to get near the top. I figured I'd better take some dang pictures since I had bothered to bring my dang camera! Shelly took a bunch more pictures that I still need to get from her...

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Lars and the Real Girl

Have any of you seen Lars and the Real Girl?
It's a very strange movie, but it is also touching, and profound.

Basically, it is about a really shy guy named Lars, who buys one of those life-sized sex dolls on the internet, only he thinks that she is a real person. At first everyone thinks he is crazy, but the town doctor says that to help him, they need to play along, and let this delusion run its course.

I know it sounds dodgy, but despite having a sex doll as a main character it is actually a very clean and family friendly film.

The trailer provides a good overview of the plot, and the feel of the film:



The whole town rallies to help Lars by treating his doll, Bianca, as part of the community. She goes to church, does volunteer work, gets elected to the school board, spends time with friends, and generally becomes very popular.

At first the doll is really creepy, but as the town warms up to her, she becomes a real character. Also, when she first arrives, she looks like a prostitute; but as the towns people care for her, she slowly becomes more normal looking. They put her in more tasteful clothing, change her hair slightly, and even apply makeup more conservatively. She actually becomes quite pretty. It's really a very interesting transformation.

As Lars' relationship with Bianca progresses, we see his interactions with real people improve. It's almost as if Bianca is his starting point for normalcy. He can talk to her, and interact with her, without any fear or anxiety. He just needs practice.
Several times you can see him talking to Bianca, explaining how to best handle a certain social situation. It is as if he is reciting something he read in How to Win Friends and Influence People. By teaching her these principles, he also reinforces them in himself.

I said before that the film is very touching and profound. Here is probably my favorite scene in the entire movie:



There are a few more scenes like this one that really tug on the heart strings. I particularly like several of the scenes featuring Margo (the girl with the bear), especially their handshake, and the very last scene of the film.
My favorite though, next to the bear CPR, has to be when Lars' older brother tells his wife how guilty he feels for leaving Lars alone with their sick father, and then pushing him away when he returned home. He chokes up as he tells his wife that Lars went to live in the garage like the family dog, and I just about lose it myself.

I first saw Lars and the Real Girl last summer, and I watched it again just the other day. I really like this film, and would highly recommend it to anyone.

P.S. If you do see this film, and you happen to make the following connections:
1. Lars is 27, and I am 27.
2. Lars doesn't have a girlfriend, and I don't have a girlfriend.
3. Lars is very shy, and I am semi-shy.
4. Lars has a sweet 'stache, and I am capable of growing a sweet 'stache.
Please leave the comparisons there. I assure you I will not be buying myself a silicone girlfriend any time soon, and I hope that I demonstrate slightly better social skills than Lars.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Male and Female Dating Strategies

How should I put this? I am a single person. I've been a single person for a very long time.
As a single person, I'm always encountering various tips and strategies regarding dating. I find all of these different dating philosophies interesting, but I can't say that I subscribe to any one in particular.

For this post I am going to outline, and discuss, two separate three-part dating strategies; one from the male perspective, and the other from the female perspective.

"Steve"

This male dating strategy is taken from The Tao of Steve. The movie itself pretty much blows, and is full of hypocrisy and inconsistency, but the strategy it presents is worth considering. Here it is:

1 - Eliminate your desire, i.e. don't be lustful. You can't go on a date and spend all night trying to make your move. Women can tell if you have an agenda or ulterior motive. Your only interest should be in getting to know them through casual conversation. You can't fake it either, you genuinely need to let go of your desire, otherwise you are just a lying hypocrite.

2 - Do something excellent in their presence, thus demonstrating your dating worthiness. You need to be awesome! Girls only want to date guys that are interesting and exciting. You should plan dates that will allow you to present yourself as someone who is fun to be with.

3 - We pursue that which retreats from us. If you retreat and make yourself difficult to catch, you become more interesting to the woman, and she will want to pursue you. If you are too easy to catch, it leads to boredom. Basically you need to leave them wanting more.

(Note: I once had a girl tell me that the definition of a "creeper" is someone who is only interested in being physical, or someone who talks negatively about other people. This seems to support the ideas behind rules 1 and 2.)

To summarize: Be Desireless, be excellent, and be gone.

While I think that the psychology behind this philosophy is sound, I question whether this strategy can actually lead to a relationship. The third rule is where I have the most hang-ups. I agree that retreating will make you more desirable, but I have a hard time seeing how this will help you beyond the first date. You can't always be distant or the girl will just think you aren't interested.

Here are some of my thoughts: People are only interested in dating people that other people want to date too. Did that make sense? Conversely, nobody wants to date someone that no one else will go out with. Rather than completely retreating, if you demonstrate that your attention is in demand, you become more interesting. On the other hand, if you are suddenly always available, and live only to serve that one person, they will feel smothered and lose interest. At least that's my take on it. This is also why "nice guys" often have trouble getting into relationships. They are just too eager to please.

A.C.T.

The female strategy was explained to me by a friend, so I am uncertain as to its origins. Also, being a guy, my understanding may be limited. However, I did take notes while she explained it (seriously), so the concepts should be solidly preserved. Here they are:

1 - Animation. Basically, be animated in your personality and interactions. Talk with your hands, and talk about things that he is interested in and will remember. Try and avoid everyday small talk. Doing these things makes you more memorable.

2 - Closeness. Be where he is. This one is difficult because there is a fine line between "closeness" and "stalking". If you are able to be around the guy more often, he will be more likely to think about you, and consider you as a potential date.

3 - Touch. This is the most important. It is generally understood that the "T" accounts for 90% of the effectiveness of this method, while the "A" and "C" only account for a combined 10%.
The "T" also incorporates the three-times-touch rule, which I had actually heard of before. That is, if a girl touches a guy three times on his arm (or particularly his elbow), then he will detect her interest, and be more likely to ask her out. Touching is not limited to the arms. The areas of touch that guys notice most, are the arm, leg, and back.

A similar concept to number 3, is that of C.T.T.I., or the Casual Touch That Isn't (casual). This applies to both genders, and basically means that if a person is deliberately touching you, they are probably interested.

One note about the A.C.T. strategy is that it must only be used on someone within your own range of attractiveness. This basically means that it will only work on a person who would likely be attracted to you anyway. It will help guys to notice you and think of you as a potential date, but it won't make Brad Pitt come knocking at your door.

******
One final concept that I would like to address, which I believe applies to both genders, is the creepy vs. cute principle. This means that if a person likes you, then all the little things that you do to get their attention will make you appear more cute in their eyes. However, if a person doesn't like you, then all those same actions will just make you appear more creepy. You need to be aware of how you are being received, so you can proceed appropriately.
******

I have no idea how well any of these strategies actually work. I hate playing these sorts of dating mind games, and generally I don't even try. I'm more a fan of the "be confident, and be your best possible self" philosophy. I also quite like the techniques found in How To Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie. I think that if you develop good interpersonal skills, and work on being the sort of person that you would want to date, then you probably won't have any trouble getting dates.

(If you actually took the time to read this entire post, you may now consider yourself as officially "Robby Approved".)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Retrosexual?

Some of you know that recently I have become interested in classic shaving.
The forums that offer insights into traditional shaving usually have discussions on other traditionally manly things.
Recently, this brief lecture video began circulating in these forums. I thought it was really interesting and thought I would share it with everybody.



I've always considered myself more of a traditional sort of person in my styles and interests.
I think of myself as a man cut from the traditional mold, so I am embracing the "Menaissance" and declaring myself a "Retrosexual"!

P.S. This declaration only makes sense if you actually watch the video.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Rediscovering An Old Favorite

This morning I rediscovered one of my all-time favorite songs. "California" by Mason Jennings.

The song speaks of hope, and loved ones gone away. It is absolutely beautiful.

Hearing this song again, after an eight year absence, felt like the long awaited return of an old friend.

I hope you enjoy it.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

DE-Ego-2

I present to you, the 2010 Desert Edge Ego!



I think it looks pretty dang good!

Thanks Planet Eclipse!


Monday, May 3, 2010

Eraserhead

I recently watched, quite possibly, the strangest movie I have ever seen! Seriously, Eraserhead is freakishly weird! It's indescribably bizarre! I could try to tell you about it, but you wouldn't be able to properly understand unless you saw it for yourself.

What on earth possessed me to watch such a strange movie?

Here's why:
I have a very good friend, who is practically my movie soul-mate. We agree on almost everything, even non-movie-related issues.

Recently we were talking about scary movies, and she mentioned that Eraserhead is the most terrifying film she has ever seen. As I recall, she advised me not to watch it.

I was intrigued.

I feel that to truly know a person, you need to understand certain key things about them, including what really scares them. So with the intent to better know my friend, I decided to defy her counsel and watch the film.

So late Saturday night, home alone, while it was raining, I watched Eraserhead.

Remember my previous post about why "scary" movies don't often scare me? Well this one didn't scare me either. This time I will defer to reason #1. ;)

Nothing about Eraserhead was terrifying to me, I just thought it was inexplicably weird.

Like my friend, I honestly can't recommend this film. There isn't anything unusually graphic or obscene, it's just the kind of film that can't possibly add to the quality of your life, and you are probably better off not having its disturbing nightmarish imagery inside your head.

As far as the content goes, the film is unrated in the USA but I would personally give it a PG-13 rating.

If you do decide to watch it, just remember, "In heaven, everything is fine."


(On a side note, immediately after publishing this post, I checked my visitor counter. It read 666. Now that's kind of creepy...)