Friday, March 31, 2006

What in the huh?

So I must admit that I’m confused by the negative reaction to my post It’s Not Easy Being Mean. I mean the title is even a Muppets reference. How much happier can you get?

This post has resulted in my admission to the Y being questioned and been described as disturbing in multiple ways. I fail to see the connection to either. Yes, I acted flamboyant for a scene in a movie. How else do you do a gossip report? My normal monotone wasn’t going to cut it. Yes I made rats squeak and scream. I think I made it clear that this was not an enjoyable experience, but required for the study I’m working on. All I did was pet them and hold them. I left my corkscrew at home. My final mean item was playing Troy in my movie. This seems pretty harmless. Sure he's a racist, sexist, stalking, metro, dense jerk, but this presentation does require a bit of acting on my part.

When I say something horrible, it’s probably sarcasm. Alternatively when I say something incredibly nice it’s probably sarcasm. In general when I’m speaking, writing or signing, it’s sarcasm.

I’m actually not hypersensitive, just confused as to what the comments meant exactly. Blogging is not the best medium for establishing a meaningful dialogue. In any case I’ll endeavor to be a sterling example of all things positive from now on.

Song of the moment: “Running out of time” Hot Hot Heat

Thursday, March 30, 2006

The Final Countdown

This is a writing exercise I did a couple weeks ago.  The first sentence has 25 words, the next 24, all the way down to the 1 word “sentence” that finishes it.  I’ve taken the character and written him into my first gothic horror story.  

However hard he tried, all Father Adolfus could see in the painted frescos was leprosy spreading through the formerly health body of his dying church.  Peeling paint curled away from the walls, themselves a deathly shade of grey; each fragment reaching out desperately, reaching for some kind of solace.  But no solace was to be found: the painted fingers would each extend until the earth’s pull tore them from the scene.  Like the decaying skin of so many lepers, they would die and peel away from the body, leaving it torn and battered.  The only difference was that these leprous fingers would float gracefully to the church’s floor, drifting in the faint autumnal breeze.  Perhaps another difference was that no one seemed to care; lepers would evoke some reaction, even if it was disgust.  This leper received no disgust, nor sorrow nor pity: it was ignored until it seemed to no longer exist.

Standing at the front of the chapel, Father Adolphus looked out upon his once loving and caring congregation.  It wasn’t just that they were becoming apathetic that worried him, but that they were completely absent.  Each week fewer people attended his Mass, and those that did no longer seemed to care.  They would bring their bodies before the altar, but they did not bring their souls.  Their sacrifice was hollow, not holy, and still they saw no disease before them.  These lifeless bodies, shuffling in mock reverence, could never resurrect the lifeless church.  

Try as he might, his every effort had proven feeble and ineffectual.  Preaching, praying, pleading and even pandering; his failure ate at him.  He was the father, and his only child lay dying.  A prodigal child to be sure, but his nonetheless.  Surely redemption remained possible; for grace was never-ending.  If he could find the proper penitence.  A confession for his entire congregation.  Repentance for all the earth.  No, not for all.  Just the leper.  The sinner.  Himself.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

It's not easy being mean

Sadly my only talent in life seems to be my innate meanness.  Although I’m immeasurably good at it, it is still no easy task.  This week I’ve had to:

Become the ward gossip.  We filmed our FHE movie this week (as opposed to my personal movie.)  My role in our fake newscast was reading the gossip report.  Perhaps the character will be distanced from myself in that I spoke with a lisp and was generally fruity.  Among the many claims I made were accusing a friend of DUI (Dressing Ugly Incessantly), accusing the ward clerk of embezzling money, listing the members of the ward who were Democrats saying how often certain guys had been rejected the week before.  I wrote portions of the rest of the movie as well, but left the filming shortly after my gossiping was done.

Make rats scream.  As part of Neurobio lab we are stimulating the pleasure centers of our lab rats.  They got their surgery last week so no longer have the top of their skulls.  This week’s task was to handle them for an hour so they’d get used to human interaction.  Our rat is not yet used to human interaction.  He squeaks and screams every time you touch him.  It was a great hour.

Becoming Troy.  I’ve also started filming as Troy for my own movie, which entails me being mean to every other character in the movie.  Luckily I don’t have to act too much since getting people to show up for their scenes has been an egregious pain and I get to channel my frustration into sarcasm.  

Song of the moment: “Love the One You’re With” Crosby, Stills and Nash

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The Rock Snob Abides

The hardest thing about being a rock snob is that you can't just be listening to what other people are listening to. I suspect that if I reach the true level of rock snobbery I'll never turn the radio on at all. I'll focus exclusively on old music that no one's ever heard of and new artists that haven't been discovered by the populace yet. Reaching this level is actually quite time consuming and difficult to do. But in an effort to help the rest of you also be rock snobs (something a true rock snob probably wouldn’t do,) here are some bands I've discovered lately that no one else has heard of. Enjoy.

Lovedrug (A-)

I think this will be the most popular of my current picks. They're kind of Radiohead-light. They very much remind me of earlier Radiohead (The Bends, OK Computer) before they decided they could be as weird as they wanted to be. The melodies and smooth vocals will pull you, but not put you to sleep ala Coldplay. Once you're pulled in you start to listen to the lyrics that range from interesting to profound. Go out and get some today!

Say Anything (B)

I'm not a huge Emo fan. Whiney doesn't really do anything for me. I think they're generally better artists than strictly punk or hard rock outfits, but it simply doesn't appeal to me. Say Anything is like Heinz 57: emo with a kick. They've got that self deprecation and everyone sensibility common to emo, but will also take a bite out of others. They aren't nearly as high octane as rock, but have a more interesting beat than lots of similar artists. They do swear a fair amount, so this is definitely a qualified suggestion.

Moldy Peaches (B-)

Just plain weird. This is an extremely qualified suggestion. The Peaches have been around for a while and will never hit it big. They're one of those bands with horrible vocals and simple song structure, yet you still find yourself hooked. If you like weird, try them out.

Nine Black Alps (B)

I've only found 3 songs thus far, so have a pretty limited view of this band. But so far they rock. I think they're going to get some radioplay pretty soon, so you'll have to hurry if you want to know them before they were big.

Rob Dickinson (A-)

Whereas the last 3 bands are a bit edgier, Rob is quite mellow. Not boring really, but containing significantly less screaming, drug and sex references. For you crazy people who like your music lacking these elements, he could be your ticket. He’s got a Bowiesque voice (which I would qualify as a good thing) though not particularly the Bowie style. Not that you can really pinpoint a Bowie style, but he only tricked me into thinking he was David for about 10 seconds. Great stuff, but take my warning that My Name is Love will get engrained in your head after a single playing.

Ellie Lawson (B+)

Ellie and I go way back. I grabbed a couple free tracks of hers last summer, and just got around to getting some more. She falls somewhere between pop and lesbian music. Yes, lesbian music is a genre. It doesn’t mean the artist or the listener have sapphic tendencies, that’s just how you describe it. Acoustic, folksy, Lilith Fair stuff. She won’t blow your mind (which makes for poor driving music, incidentally) but she has enough variety to keep you interested. I think I may have heard her on the radio in Utah, which would indicate she was popular six months ago. But if you never heard her you should give her a listen.

Song of the moment: “You make my pants want to get up and dance” DR. Hook.

Monday, March 27, 2006

I need to hire someone to write my blog

I hate to wax formulaic, but it’s just what works best for me. A couple posts about odd events or crazy websites, followed by a recap of nearly a week’s events. It’s now time for one of those recaps.

I saw Munich last week. Lest you think I watch nothing but R rated movies I also watched an edited version of Gladiator and the Joseph Smith movie. It was very good, but I felt it was unnecessarily graphic. If you’re in the land of Mormons and can come across an edited version, you’ll get the same emotional impact and won’t lose anything. It had some very interesting views on terrorism, Judaism and nationalism. Highly recommended.

We had my birthday dinner on Thursday at Asuka, a local Japanese restaurant. Despite my Japanophilia I have relatively little experience eating Japanese food, but I quite liked this place. The sushi was overpriced, which seems to be a requirement of all sushi. At Laura’s insistence we sat on the floor (they have special tables set up to accommodate Provoans who like to pretend to be Japanese) and considered ourselves cultured for the evening.

We performed our play for my Literature Analysis class on Friday. Unlike all the other groups we made up our own play. That’s not to say it was improvised, we did follow our script exactly, but it’s so much easier when you wrote the lines yourself. I’d provide the script for you but it’s made up entirely of inside jokes from the class so would have very little entertainment value.

Friday was my annualish Freshman ward reunion. There’s 2 or 3 events a year, but one is usually designated as the real one, where those who have moved on to better places come back to Provo. Once there I realized that I always talk to the same handful of people, who are the ones I actually keep contact with anyway. I don’t really care about the rest of the group. Thus I’ve decided that reunions are for the most part useless and I don’t believe I will attend them with any regularity. Afterwards I watched Gladiator with some wardmates, who had never seen it before. I did have to explain every once in a while what had happened in a fight scene, but the editing was good for the most part.

Saturday we drove to Salt Lake to see the new Joseph Smith movie. I thought it was pretty good. There were some decisions I didn’t agree with completely, but I thought it was effective and a worthwhile contribution to the church’s multimedia resources. It didn’t have nearly the emotional impact of Testaments from a couple years back, but I certainly don’t consider that the determiner of a movie’s quality.

My social engineering of the week occurred after the movie. I orchestrated a trip of about 25 of us to go to the Pi. I’ve been intending to go to this famed pizza place for the last 3 years and figured I’d drag everyone with me. The pizza was incredibly greasy, but incredibly delicious. A good time was had by all.

I started filming my movie yesterday. Finally! I’ve been procrastinating for the last week, though admittedly many factors were out of my control. Chris finally got me his brother’s camera on Saturday, so I started pretty much as soon as I got it. We started the candid interview scenes, which are coming along well. Tomorrow should start the filming of the actually scripted material. I still don’t have all my parts cast, but Becca and I can start on our contentious dialogues, which end up taking up about half the film.

Song of the moment: “Mellow Yellow” Donovan

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Google: Less False than other Idols

I remember a time when Google was the new kid on the block.  Everyone adored Yahoo and Altavista and claimed they were the pinnacle of all searching.  But then, being the nerd that I am I found Google and its simplistic splendor.  No adds or buttons or options cluttering everything.  It simply found everything, nearly instantaneously.  I never went back.

I departed for my mission, spent two years with minimal use of technology (not only because I was a missionary, but also because I was in Idaho) then returned to find many things had changed.  But Google was still king.  The only difference was that now everyone else knew about it.  

In the last three years no one has toppled it.  Google has only grown and proven that anything Microsoft can do, they can do better.  Gmail is the best email program.  Picasa is the best picture sorting program (at least free.)  Google Earth is pretty useless, but incredibly cool.  Google will run your desktop, set up instant messaging and even has a new webpage creator.  Soon it will run NASA.  

But why hasn’t anyone toppled Google?  Do they kill off all rival programmers?  In the last few weeks I’ve investigated a handful of search engines that claim to be superior to Google.  Some of these include: Grokker, Turbo 10, Overture, Fast, Inktomi, Teoma, and Hotbot.  Guess what?  None are as good.  Google reigns supreme.  My search for a search engine that will find things before I even think to look for them continues.  

PS.  Google is constantly trying new programs.  Go to labs.google.com to serve as a guinea pig for them.  If they’re going to take over the world someday you want to be on their good side.

PPS.  After about two weeks on their waiting list, I now have access to Google webpage creator.  Check out my latest page:

http://mormonmachine.googlepages.com/swicket

It has my updated movie script.  I’d love more input before I start filming next week.

Song of the moment: “Sounds of Science” Beastie Boys

Despisition

I despise cleaning checks.  Despise!  On a very simplistic level I dislike them for the following reasons:

  1. I don’t like cleaning.

  2. They have the remarkable ability of scheduling them at the worst possible times.  This is usually during testing weeks.  This month they avoided testing days, but scheduled it so I’d have to do my cleaning on my birthday.  Blasphemy!

  3. The work is never equitably distributed.

  4. The cleaning standards fluctuate dramatically, even with the same management.  I’ve failed when my house was immaculate and passed when we put hardly any effort into it.

  5. You don’t get candy like you do during mission cleaning checks.

  6. In order to pass the test you make the house uninhabitable.  You’ll fail if there are dirty dishes in the dishwasher.  You’ll fail if there is a hair in the sink (I’ve had both happen in case you think I exaggerate.)  You have to clean the house and immediately quarantine it so no one can defile it until they decide to come inspect it.

  7. Inspectors are never there when they say they will be.

  8. There’s no way to contact the actual inspector (who is usually someone other than the landlord) either before or after the fact.

I could rant further, but I think 8 points shows that I do in fact have an argument as to why I should hate cleaning checks.  However, the reason I despise cleaning checks is on moral grounds.  Why should we have them in the first place?  We are paying to live in these less-than-stellar apartments.  Why should they get to regulate the exact manner in which we live?  I understand their concern that we don’t damage the property.  However, the things that cleaning checks inspect (is there dust on the windowsill? Are the burners of the stove spotless?) don’t really relate to us damaging the property.  Furthermore, we are held liable for any damage they find after we move out.  Even if we trashed the place, we’d end up paying for in the end.  Why do they need to inconvenience us every month when there really is no consequence for them whether we pay in time now or money later?  It makes no sense.  They’re trying to take away our agency.  I hate diabolical cleaning checks!

Song of the moment: “Lose Myself” Depeche Mode

The new style

Do you think this is a good look for me? This is from my group date last week. It was a bit of a marathon date, starting with dinner, changing to seeing Divine Comedy (local comedy troup), an odd Olympics of sorts (bubble blowing, cracker eating, Chubby Bunny and finally the delightful activity this picture was taken from), and finishing with icecream sundaes. Very mormony, but enjoyable nonetheless.  Posted by Picasa

Monday, March 20, 2006

Like a red-headed stepchild

My life, as it relates to my new red hair:

My analogue likes my new hair.  We saw V together and enjoyed our mutual procrastination of studying.  

Went to a Saint Patrick’s Day part on Friday and most definitely had the most Irish hair.  I was only there briefly because I had to study for my Neuro test, which I should’ve taken on Friday.  But I didn’t so get to spend most of Friday night and Saturday morning studying/worrying about studying.  

On a point unrelated to hair, isn’t it odd how you sometimes loathe studying and sometimes loathe the actual test taking?  I was extremely anti-studying this week but had no problem actually taking tests.  In fact I took my linguistics test early, even though I could’ve benefited from more studying, just because the studying was what was bothering me.  Back to my all-important hair.

I pansied-out and wore a hat to the testing center.  I only had a couple hours to take the test and didn’t want to have any additional complications from the test administrators.  So I don’t know if they would’ve cared about my hair.

My date on Saturday liked my hair.  I trust her aesthetic judgment.  I had a good time, but am not completely sure how she liked it/me yet.

My Bishop’s only comment concerning my hair was “I wish I had enough left to do that to it.”  I’m taking that as approval.

My most anal professor (linguistics) didn’t say anything about it.  My favorite professor (neurobio) just wanted to make sure the red wasn’t in support of the U.

My boss wanted to know how they got half of it black and half of it red, but no reprimanding occurred.  

I think I’m in the clear.

World Domination by Love, Not War

The Liberal Baby Bust

Interesting, no? Mormons have big ol’ families. This is a fact. Of course it’s a stereotype, but stereotypes usually exist because they are in fact the most common state. Although I’ve grown up with various religious reasons for having large families, I’d never really considered the political implications of our stance on families. But I’m still not having ten kids. My current trend is toward zero kids, but perhaps one day I’ll move up to 4 or 6 (I don’t believe in odd numbers of kids.)

Song of the moment: “Steak for Chicken” Moldy Peaches

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Pirate Movies: Rated Arrrrgggh!

I’m a bit surprised that no more doctrinally or opinionlly endowed than myself jumped up to answer this one, so I’ll have to do so myself.  Seeing as I am the all-powerful blogger, I’m moving this topic from a mere comment to an actual post.  The topic of today: R rated films.

The morality of R rated films is no doubt a hot button issue.  Along with caffeine, it’s probably one of the most common points of contention.  Is this because it is a favorite sin that we’re indulging ourselves in, and thus overly defensive over?  Possibly so.  Let me play devil’s advocate (perhaps too literally) and give some of the poorer arguments that I’ve heard in R rated films defense.

  1. Only one prophet specifically said it.

  2. It was said long ago and is no longer as relevant.

  3. He was only addressing youth.

  4. It’s not rated R in Australia (yes I’ve heard this.)

As I said, I don’t consider these particularly good reasons.  The fact that only one prophet has said it doesn’t hold too much weight for me.  This doesn’t tell me that it’s no longer true, only that it’s not terribly important.  President Hinkley has more important things to talk about at any given conference.  I’m not going to bother going through the value of the other points and move ahead with the Chris doctrine.

The fact is that if I were a perfect person I wouldn’t watch R rated movies.  I don’t really think there are any movies that are SO good that Christ himself would watch them.  Perhaps there are some that he’d use as a teaching tool for others, including many that wouldn’t be “church movies.”  The point being that I wouldn’t lose anything by never seeing a movie again, and would probably be better off for it.  Movies are primarily for entertainment.  You can, and I do, learn a great deal from them, but this same information and experience could be gained in different ways.  So if I was avoiding all possibility of evil I could avoid movies altogether.  However, this is not where I’m at spiritually.  I am currently saying, thinking and doing many things wrong in my life.  I’m striving to become better, and slowly succeeding at doing so.  The fact that I do see some R rated movies is exceedingly low on my list of things to change about myself.

I’m not going to let the MPAA decide what movies are appropriate for me and what aren’t.  Why should this group control my moral decisions?  The ratings are in fact guidelines, and guidelines that I do pay attention to.  I support the idea of ratings, but they are obviously terribly subjective.  I investigate every movie that I see (I don’t usually bother with PG, but any PG-13 or R) beforehand to see if there will be objectionable content.  I make my own decision from there.  I think this is what the Church wants us to do.  Make informed decisions about what will be uplifting and what will be detrimental to us, regardless of what others say.  

For instance, I was moderately uplifted by V is for Vendetta.  It wasn’t the best movie ever, but I definitely learned something from it.  There was a bit of blood, a bit of swearing and a bit of nudity.  Honestly I don’t care about swearing.  I went through the public school system; no movie can compare to what I’ve heard all my life.  Violence doesn’t bother me too much, unless it becomes excessive, and this particular movie wasn’t.  Again, excessive is extremely subjective and is something you have to determine on your own.  The main thing I look at when I’m investigating a movie is the sexual content.  V had none.  The nudity was nonsexual, not at all provocative and completely appropriate.  That said, I wouldn’t recommend this movie for young children.  This is where the ratings are helpful, because I think what’s appropriate for me and what’s appropriate for an 8 year old are completely different.  It’s not that anything is fine for me, but I am able to understand and appreciate mature themes that others can’t.  There’s a reason we have age restrictions on drugs, driving, voting etc.  It’s not that everyone above the age limit should use these privileges (if drugs can be called such) but that those above the age limit are better able to make choices concerning these issues.

I’m tired of discussing this now (this is actually because of fatigue and a hectic schedule, not irritation at the subject.)  I suppose my summary would be that the Church leaders make a point of not dictating everything to us.  This is one of the topics they leave us to judge for ourselves.  All comments about R rated movies that I’ve read discuss what CAN be found in R rated movies and how we need to avoid bringing any extra temptation into our lives.  It’s not that R movies are bad, it’s that they can be.  We need to learn to distinguish what’s inappropriate and shun that, but not shun everything.  O be wise, what can I say more?

Song of the moment: “Staralfur” by Sigur Ros.

Here’s Orson Scott Card’s take on the matter.  He has no more authority than I, but is certainly a better writer:
http://www.nauvoo.com/r-rated-movie.html

Friday, March 17, 2006

V is for 5, which times ten equals 50

Welcome to my 50-post spectacular.  I thought about doing a nice little montage of some of the great posts that I’ve put up, but I think I’ll just let you scroll down through the page instead.  50 Posts!  That averages out to a post every 1.3 days.  Not too shabby considering nothing ever happens in my life.  It’s the blog about nothing.  

Instead you’re going to get my latest movie review: V is for Vendetta.  In an attempt (successful I might add) to avoid studying I went to a sneak preview last night.

I thought this movie was fantastic.  You should take that review with a grain of salt since the last movie I saw in the theater was Underworld Evolution, which I’d give a “Very Good” rating, at least pertaining to its genre.  But V gets a straight out fantastic, regardless of your movie preference.

You can read about the plot elsewhere so I’ll skip that mandatory step of a film review.  I thought the acting was great.  Hugo and Portman were great as you’d expect.  Sure Portman was bad in the Star Wars films, but not worse than EVERYONE else in those movies.  She seems to have a great record in non-Star Wars films.  My only critique of her is that she seems to weigh about 13 pounds.  I have no idea if her exceptionally thin frame is natural, but she does appear to be one of the smallest humans ever.  Otherwise she’s great.  Hugo similarly never disappoints.  He conveys V extremely well despite having his face covered the whole time with the moderately creepy Guy Fawkes mask.  Of special note is the supporting cast, mostly Brits, who are great across the board.  They really sell their roles as bureaucrats and revolutionaries.  

The story is extremely interesting and very pertinent to current political issues.  Although it has obviously applicable criticisms of the Republican party (primarily to conservatives and the religious right) and the current presidency, I never felt it was doing so unfairly.  I support both the Republicans and President Bush, but read the movie as a cautionary tale of how their actions could go too far.  I took it more as an anti-big government film, not an anti-our government film.  And personally, I felt it was Pro-American.  V’s similarities in actions and ideology match very much with revolutionaries that started our country.  Although the 1812 Overture, featured prominently as part of V’s plan, had nothing to do with America when it was written, I think it’s been accepted as a national anthem of sorts.  

The effects were great as you’d expect from the production team of The Matrix.  The only commentary needed here is that stuff does indeed blow up and it looks awesome.  

The movie isn’t without flaws.  V, though a sympathetic character, is by no means a perfect one.  He redeems himself for the most part, but he goes through some reprehensible actions to do so.  Additionally the film uses homosexuality as its symbol for an inalienable right that the evil government condemns.  I admit that I couldn’t think of any other single issue to use as a symbol of personal freedom that’s been unfairly seized, but they hit up homosexuality several times throughout the movie, almost to the point of making it seem part of a specific political agenda.  The final criticism I had was that the film was pretty heavy handed.  Not only do the themes and political messages lack any semblance of subtlety, but the visual imagery is also pounded into your head.  The movie is beautiful, but they do go out of their way to show you EXACTLY what each scene is harkening back to.

So not a perfect film, but extremely good.  If you can handle Holocaust imagery, throat slashing and British cursing I’d highly recommend it.  Hurray for comic book adaptations actually being good!  Now if only video game movies could figure out how it’s done.  

Song of the moment: The 1812 Overture by Tchaikovsky.  

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Red Steel

In honor of Saint Patty's Day, I dyed my hair red like a true Irishman. Not that I'm a true Irishman, I'm just emmulating one. I am in fact proudly Danish, and am considering making a shirt saying “Kiss me, I’m Danish.” Alternatively a less polite version, but perhaps more comical, would read “Eat me, I’m Danish.”

Back to the story at hand. My hair was approaching Wolverine mass once again so I thought I’d use my day off to get it cut. With my handy-dandy coupon the haircut was free and I noticed that a hair coloring was 10 dollars off. I had attempted black hair with a red tint last year and failed, so thought I’d let some professionals have a whack at it. This was the result. I’m fine with it, and like it even, but am not sure if BYU will feel the same way. Luckily I have a test tomorrow so won’t have to ponder over this for too long.

On the plus side, Myheritage.com, which I am still spending more time than I should on (ie I spend time on it at all) is now giving me considerably fewer female matches. I had previously been a bit concerned that I matched with female celebrities as often, and sometimes more often, than male. But my Irish hair matches me 74% with Heath Ledger, 70% with Mark Wahlberg, as well as linking me with David Schwimmer and Colin Farrell on several pictures. This particular picture is an attempt at Ben Stiller's famed Blue Steel. Posted by Picasa

Pi-est Pie of them All

There's no question that my pie was the most unique pie at Pi night. For one, it wasn't a pie. Furthermore, it was the only pie that went out to 7 decimal places. But because of those dang French Judges, Joey's Pi Pie won the coveted Most Unique award. Was it shaped like a clock? No. Did it contain pretzels? No. Was it made with love? I'm pretty sure it wasn't. Not that I'm bitter or anything. Joey will pay. And pay dearly. With interest. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Hurray for Pi Day!

Here’s some stuff that’s been going on as of late.

I watched half of Constantine and The Life Aquatic with my analogue (isn’t that a cute pet name for my Chris-variant friend?)  We had attempted to see Walk the Line, but Provo being what it is every single movie at the dollar theater was sold out on Friday night.

This weekend was stake conference.  This means no date Saturday night if I want to be righteous and go to the evening session.  I debated whether being righteous is all it’s cracked up to be, but ended up going.    

We had another Saturday morning cartoon session.  We attempted to kill ourselves by eating biscuits & gravy (kindly provided by Becca) scrambled eggs and bacon.  We ended up skipping the bacon to give our arteries a break.  I thought the Futurama we watched was pretty family friendly, but evidently I was mistaken.  I think the girls would prefer Disney cartoons for the next iteration, which may very well mean that Saturday morning cartoons have been killed for me.

I have to finish my entry for Pi Day.  I’m actually making a cherry and chocolate cheesecake, both to enjoy the alliteration and to win the most creative pie contest.  No one ever suspects cheesecakes on Pi Day.  (For the non-nerds among you [though I don’t particularly think any read my blog] today is March fourteenth, thus 3 14, thus 3.14 which is the beginning of the mathematical concept Pi.  Pi Day, along with Mole Day, are nerd holidays, and I initiated a Pi contest last year which has been adopted as a tradition.)

I made up two new words yesterday.  Feel free to use them.

Suicid           Past tense of suicide.  It eliminates the pain of having to say “committed suicide.”
Seminnocuous          Only somewhat harmless.

I saw intracranial surgery on a rat this morning.  We stimulated the dentate gyrus of his hippocampus to initiate long term potentiation.  It was pretty cool, but would’ve been cooler if it weren’t 8 in the morning.

Song of the moment: “Paradise City” Guns N’ Roses

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Chrisboard's Top 40 (+13)

I want to be a rock snob.  Few people aspire to be such, but I do.  I seek elitism in all its forms.  I want to think highly of myself, little of others and assert my obviously superior views on the world around me.  Unfortunately I don’t have the time or money to be a real rock snob.  But in an effort to move in this direction I’ve compiled a list of my favorite 150 bands/artists.  I’m only posting the top 53, which seems random, but actually was actually done for a wise purpose.  I fear Erin’s wrath if I don’t have Coldplay in my list, and that’s how many it took to get to them.  Before you read the list I have a few caveats you need to keep in mind.

This list is highly ephemeral.  I’ve never actually made such a list before, but if I did I think it would vary considerably from week to week, or even day to day.  

I didn’t spend much time (well too much time considering my 3 tests next week, but I could’ve spent at least three times as long on it) so the rankings aren’t terribly accurate.  I’d give each artists +/- 5 positions.  So Weezer is number 18 on this list, but may really fall anywhere from 13 to 23 were I to analyze this further.  

This isn’t who I consider the greatest, but who I most enjoy listening to.  The Beatles are number 31, but I consider them more important and generally “greater” than Moxy Fruvous, my number 1.  But the facts is I like listening to MF more, and do so considerably more often.

The ranking of new artists is even less accurate than those of established musicians.  I love the Kaiser Chiefs and The Streets at the moment (both in the 20s), but they may not even be in the top 200 in a years time.  And just to contradict myself there are several bands I just started listening to that I think have a lot of potential but I didn’t include at all in my extended list.

Certain genres of music aren’t included in these rankings.  I have to be in a very specific mood for classical, comedic, religious etc so didn’t include them in these rankings.  

Without further ado: the top 53 musicians in the land of Chris.  Get cultured and take a listen.


1.  Moxy Fruvous
2.  Radiohead
3.  Beastie Boys
4.  Blur
5.  Soul Coughing/Mike Doughty
6.  Ben Folds
7.  Gorillaz
8.  Cake
9.  Flaming Lips
10.  Garbage
11.  Hot Hot Heat
12.  Queen
13.  The Pixies
14.  Offspring
15.  Beck
16.  The Pillows
17.  Korn
18.  Weezer
19.  Ani DiFranco
20.  Kaiser Chiefs
21.  Postal Service
22.  Barenaked Ladies
23.  The Streets
24.  Basement Jaxx
25.  Splashdown
26.  Fiona Apple
27.  Gomez
28.  Eminem
29.  Polyphonic Spree
30.  Nine Inch Nails
31.  The Beatles
32.  David Bowie
33.  Guster
34.  Jurassic Five
35.  Joydrop
36.  Rasputina
37.  OK GO
38.  Dropkick Murphys/Flogging Molly
39.  Reel Big Fish
40.  Green Day
41.  The Cure
42.  Elliot Smith
43.  Tori Amos
44.  Prodigy
45.  Save Ferris
46.  Rage Against the Machine
47.  U2
48.  The Clash
49.  Evanescence
50.  REM
51.  Dar Williams
52.  The Smiths/Morrisey
53.  Coldplay

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Facebook'em Danno

I had my first experience with internet dating last night.  This statement is actually 80% false, but I have a flair for the dramatic.  A more accurate description of the event would be that I met a girl in person last night who I only knew via the internet.  But since this is the closest I hope to get to internet dating, I’m going to consider it my initiation.

The full story (minus some facts and most portions of names) is as follows.  I am a member of the Facebook community.  This is not a point of pride in my life as I consider the site a massive waste of time.  However, it is the now the 7th most frequently visited site on the Internet (the first probably being Google and porn rounding out the top 6) if this gives it any legitimacy.  There are many ways to waste time on the site, but one is by joining various interest groups with other students at your university.  After joining such groups as “Conan OBrien is my Hero” and “I was raised by Nintendo” I decided I should form my own group.  After much consideration and many hours of prayer I decided on the Coalition of Chris, primarily because there are a half dozen Chrises in my ward.  So I formed said group and within a couple weeks we now have 146 members at BYU.  

I didn’t limit myself to those named Christopher, but have Christian and even a Christer and a Christin.  Who knew those were even names?  I also allowed any female variants of the name, much to the chagrin of a few members who wished it to remain a fraternity and not a siblingity.  But why associate with just males?  Quite boring I say, so I added the girly half of the populace.  One such girl (I’ll leave her unnamed, though she’s obviously a Chris variant) started chatting with me via Facebook and I soon officially added her as a friend.  Again for those of you unfamiliar with the site, you designate people you know as friend and they must accept your invitation and then others will see that the two of you are connected.  Of my 80 people listed as friends on Facebook she is the 4th that I’ve never actually met.  The first was a girl that was incredibly hot, and after adding each other as friends we’ve never spoken.  The second 2 were equally hot, plus shared common interests with me.  We’ve communicated back and forth a bit but nothing has ever come of it.  So I had no particular expectations of this 4th attempt, but low and behold we progressed from email banter to phone banter to bantering in person.  We watched an episode of Lost, discussed movies and videogames (the fact that she could hold a conversation about both gives her major cool points) and generally had a good time acquainting ourselves.    

Truly I have a talent at stretching a relatively boring and unimportant story to take up a full page of text.  I really should’ve been an English major instead of a minor.

Song of the Moment: “Dig For Fire” The Pixies

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

My Own Private Nielsen

I’m wrapping up work on my latest script, “Swicket: The Untold Story.” I’m going to add another couple scenes, and need to do quite a bit of reworking, but I have the majority of it down on paper now. I need some volunteers to read what I have thus far and tell me what is funny and what isn’t. I’ve learned that what’s funny to me and what’s funny to the general public often differ considerably. The script is too long to post, so email me if you’d like a copy and are willing to provide feedback.

Song of the moment: “Princes of the Universe” Queen

A Man's Gotta Have His Standards

I appreciate a good jab more than most anyone. In fact I have stopped dating girls for being too nice. If they are incapable of insulting me I won't be able to talk freely with them (I will insult them, this is a fact; and I believe in reciprocity), and thus my already tenuous communication skills will break down, as will the relationship. So I have no problem with a list of supposed reasons I wouldn't marry a potential candidate. However, there are some glaring errors on the list. Evidently I haven't made my opinions on certain matters clear over the years. So I'll either confirm or rebut each point in the list.

"Inherent differences" that might cause Christopher not to marry you:

You question the morality of music file-swapping.

False. Feel free to question. Feel free to abstain. It's called agency. It's also called having a brain with independent thought. I support both. But don't bother me about it. The only person I'm hurting is Metallica, and if I met them in person I'd punch them in the face.

You have not invested 75% of your income in Asian-made cartoons.

Moderately true. An interest in anime is most definitely a plus. A toleration of me watching it on occasion is a requirement. Sadly most of the girls that like it are bizarre individuals (who would've guessed?) so I'm leaning towards one that tolerates it. As for actual expenditures, this clearly shows a lack of knowledge of my character. Chris, spending money on luxury items? I wish I were so carefree. My budget is as follows: food, dates, savings account. Sometimes food is eliminated.

You have a problem with people dying their hair.

True. Although I have no strong feelings towards hair-dying, I wouldn’t anticipate enjoying the company of someone that has a strong moral/ethical opposition to it. The exception here being that I do have reservations against dying your hair blonde. My wife is free to share this moral opposition. This point obviously refers to the fact that I’ve dyed my hair twice in my life (shocking!) and the fact that I may do so again in the near future.

· You admit to a country music phase when you were 13.

True. This disqualifies you.

· You made a derogatory comment about iPods.

False. I support Mac bashing and trend bashing. Feel free to ridicule them to your hearts content. If you’re a good ridiculer that wins you extra points. The fact that I own 2 iPods probably contributes greatly to my poor self image. But they’re a necessary evil (I couldn’t possibly walk to campus without music now could I?)

· You sleep sometimes.

I admit, I first thought this was some statement about my having a great work ethic. Wishful thinking. To compensate for not sleeping as a child I now take great pleasure in naps. It would be counterproductive if my wife didn’t share this hobby.

· You made an Idaho joke.

False. I make Idaho jokes all the time, both against the state and against myself for being called to serve there. I mean really, what kind of slacker gets called to Boise? Idaho jokes are a plus.

· You explained your embrace of Intelligent Design and named it as a reason you intend to homeschool all your children.

60% true. Intention to homeschool eliminates you. My theoretical (increasingly so) children will have enough working against them that I don’t intend to stymie their social skills by imprisoning them in my home. Accepting God’s hand in the formation of the natural world is obviously a good thing. Being stupid enough to deny that God could use evolution to bring about His ends writes you off my list.

· You “just don’t get” his Jabberwocky poem.

True. Feel free to hate my poetry. It “stinks” so disliking it is fine. Being dumb enough to not understand it will eliminate you. This isn’t John Donne here; it’s a story about a monster stepping on a little boy.

· You Don’t like his sister

False. I believe Catherine effectively explained this. There’s little chance of her liking all 8 of my sisters. She doesn’t need to like my collective sisters, nor does she need to like any particular sister. None of my sisters are enough like me to make a dislike of them at all indicative of the success of our relationship. Furthermore her interactions with any of them are likely to be limited enough as to make this point nearly moot. That’s not stating my intention to live on Crete without a phone, but a simple observation of my current interaction with in-laws. I like both my brothers in-law, but it wouldn’t really matter if I hated their guts.

I think I’ve done a good job of killing that joke. I’d fear the onslaught of comments from my incendiary remarks, but suspect that my moderately facetious rebuttal will come across as oversensitive and vigorously defensive. The truth is I’m avoiding studying.

Song of the moment: “Get Myself Arrested” by Gomez

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Speed Dating

Single women of the world rejoice, I am once again available.  

As with all dating matters, I will keep my blogging on this matter rather vague so as to minimize any potential embarrassment on the part of my co-dater.  I understand that association with me can be rather damaging to ones reputation and hold you back from many upper level government positions.  For those of you that don’t speak Chris co-dater would be my girlfriend, who no longer qualifies as such.

It was fun while it lasted.  We dated for exactly a week.  She was and is a fantastic girl who I greatly enjoy being with.  But by the end of the week I knew that I wasn’t going to marry her (timing played a role here, but it was primarily some inherent differences between us) so there was no point in continuing the relationship.  Having a girlfriend is great, but that’s not my end goal.  So I broke it off, which admittedly is easier than being dumped, but by no means a pleasant event.  Time will tell if we remain friends or by necessity separate ourselves.

So that’s it.  I’m back on the market and taking the highest (and cutest) bidder.

Song of the moment: “Landed” by Ben Folds

Sunday, March 05, 2006

The Sum of All Stress

April sucks.  I’m sorry for those of you that think “sucks” is a swear word, but you’re from Utah, and you’re wrong.  April does suck, and for a wide variety of reasons.  It starts out with April Fools Day, where the longer it takes you to clean up the “joke” your “friends” pull the funnier it supposedly is.  During April we have the pleasure of doing taxes, followed immediately by complaining about how little we get back.  April showers suck, and the May flowers that result aren’t anything to shout about.  And to top it all off we get to take finals, the bane of college existence.  

Is there anything worse than a final?  Sure, every so often you get a teacher who gives a group final or has everyone show up and eat donuts and call that a final.  But usually it’s a time to cram four months of neuroanatomy into your head and hope it doesn’t explode during the test.  Because of course this would ruin your scantron.  You slave your way through several hours of writing, guessing and praying, and once you finish you have thirty minutes to relax before your linguistics exam begins.  The most wonderful time of the year this is not.
     
Here are some tips on how to cope with the stress that finals inflict upon us:
     
Belittle The Exam.  Stress comes from thinking the test is a big deal.  You can eliminate stress by making the test seem unimportant.  If you’re extremely good at this you can even talk yourself out of bothering to show up to the exam.  We don’t recommend taking it to this extreme.  Try to reach a level where you’re still motivated enough to study and actually take the exam, but where you’re not giving yourself ulcers over it.  Ladies just repeat this mantra to yourself: “I’m here to find a husband.  He doesn’t care about my GPA.  Stress gives you wrinkles.”  Men have a similar chant to go over “I’m here to find a wife.  I can lie about my GPA.  Retaking the class will help me meet more girls.”  Just repeat these lines over and over until you feel better.
     
Snack Attack.  Nothing helps you forget about finals quite like sugar and trans fats.  Luckily for you Provorem has a nice selection of overpriced and undercooked food that you can enjoy at 3 in the morning.  Head over to IHOP or Dennys to mingle with other students procrastinating their studying.  Betos and 7-11 are surprisingly popular at 4:30 AM.  Any of these places are guaranteed to make you just queasy enough to stay awake for another couple hours, but won’t usually make you sick enough to miss the test.  If you don’t feel like leaving the apartment (this is usually due to a significant drop in personal hygiene standards during finals week) you can just step into the kitchen and whip yourself up a snack.  Anything to take you away from those books for a few minutes of relief and replenishment.  
     
Misery Loves Company.  Keep in mind that everyone else is suffering through this as well.  Except those stupid roommates who are just working or taking a semester off.  Avoid them during finals because they’ll just make you mad.  But everyone else is sharing your pain.  Join together and do a couple stress-relieving activities.  Catch a movie at the dollar theater.  Throw a mini-dance party.  Burn textbooks that you can’t sell back.  Have any kind of fun that will take about an hour.    

Yes, finals suck.  But you’ll make it through.  There are relatively few classes that are a matter of life and death.  And if they do happen to kill you, you won’t have to worry about finals next semester.  
     

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Hire me B&J!

By my estimation the best jobs in the world are: movie critic, ice cream taster and professional napper.  Sadly I have yet to be offered any of these positions, despite a tremendous amount of experience in each area.  But I’m going to hope that the powers that be read the following resterauant review and see that I would be perfectly suited to specialize in critiquing ice cream, movies and sleeping conditions.

The Thai Pepper – located in Provo Utah.  They have an address but I’m too lazy to look it up.

We went to the Thai Pepper last night to go along with watching the movie Ghandi.  To be more accurate we could have gone to the Bombay House, and to be more comical we could have eaten hamburgers off the grill.  But we wanted to try someplace new, so the Pepper (soon to be renamed the Thai Kitchen) fit the bill perfectly.  

We arrived at about 7:30 to find the place completely full.  Although I’ve had friends who would only eat places that were full, claiming it shows that the food is good, I’ve never followed this rule.  In fact I would love to be the only person in a restaurant at any given time.  This could be my antisocial tendencies at work, but it is most definitely the most efficient way to eat.  Because the Thai Pepper was full we ended up waiting an hour for our food and got to sit elbow to elbow with 30 other people.  Neither of these won the place any points in my book.  

The d├ęcor was lacking.  I don’t really care about decorations in the slightest, but if you do, don’t go to the Thai Pepper for the ambiance.  The restaurant consists of a large rectangular room with white walls and the occasional Asian decoration.  The employees all had accents, but I have no idea whether they were Thai.  I suspect they were Laotians pretending to be Thai because no one wants to go eat Laotian food.

Were I a real critic I would’ve ordered more than one thing, but I’m actually a college student so stuck with the curry.  I love curry and am too lazy to make it myself, so must order it whenever presented the opportunity.  My date ordered curry (of a different variety) as well so I can’t really critique the whole menu for you.  The place did suffer a bit from Mexican syndrome, that is that all the food sounded the same.  There were 6 different curries, but each only had one ingredient that made it unique from the others.  But both the Pineapple (mine) and Peanut (hers) were quite tasty.  

The food was good, which is most likely the important thing.  Our particular dishes were a mere 2 stars on their spice scale.  This sounds wimpy but 4 was labeled as very hot and 5 was labeled with a question mark.  So it had enough kick to make you notice, but not enough to make you cry.  I attempt not to cry during dates, only afterward, so marked this as a plus.  Having never been to Thailand I can’t comment as to the authenticity of the dish, but again, I don’t really care about such things.  It tasted good.

Overall: it was a good experience.  However, it was no better than Thai Ruby.  The food was comparable, and the price was comparable.  Thai Ruby has the benefit of better decoration, shorter waiting and much better location.  I can walk to the Ruby in 1 minute, versus driving to the Pepper in 10 minutes.  For me the Ruby will be the obvious choice for my future curry needs.  

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Bizarro

The pattern in my life thus far has been such: Chris likes girls (to be fair I rarely commit myself to a particular one), Chris attempts to gain girls’ favor, fails, and complains about the whole endeavor.  Last weekend this pattern strangely inverted.  I had a girl ask me out one night (not a first, but a rarity) and another tell me she really likes me the other.  To say confess her undying love for me would be quite an exaggeration, but she did come out and tell me that she has liked me for a while (I could’ve broken my dateless Valentines streak) and that I’ve evidently been completely missing the signals.  I like her as well and we’re now dating.  Weird no?  I guess this is the way it’s supposed to work, but I’ve never really experienced it this easily.  My theory is that the closer I get to medical school the more irresistible I become.  That and my sideburns are pretty much amazing.  

Weatherbugged

You know what they say about Provo, if you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes.  You know what?  They say that everywhere.  And everywhere you go they seem to think that their weather is more variable than anyone else’s.  Weather changes unpredictably and quickly people; your city isn’t special.  Unless you’re in California, where everything’s always perfect.  Except for the drive-bys.  But weather-wise it’s obviously top notch and we all hate you for it.  

But in terms of weather, Provo has been quite strange lately.  It was 65 on Monday.  You can’t complain too much about 65 in February.  Then Tuesday it rained all day, which I can and did complain about.  Today we got back near 60, but then we have snow slated for later this week.  What did people do before Weatherbug?  An even scarier question is what did we all do before Mapquest?  And if you think back really hard you may be able to remember a time when there was no internet and we had to bring pictures to Kinkos to get them blown up into posters, haggling all the while whether or not they were copyrighted.  Basically life sucked back then.  This obviously has nothing to do with Provo’s unpredictable weather.  And on an equally unrelated note: I have a girlfriend now.

Song of the day: “All These Things That I’ve Done” The Killers