Tuesday, December 18, 2007

And the winners are . . .

ChrisMix 2:007

Another year, another mix. In case you were wondering, there is no James Bond connection for this album, although it is 48% British. The rules of ChrisMix 2 are simple: the band must be new to me this year, each band only gets one song though I should like the entire album, and to appeal to a mass market there should be no swearing. Here goes:

1. Maybe This Christmas – Ron Sexsmith

Seeing as I release this list at Christmas, it made sense to include a Christmas song. In comparison to other topics, there are relatively few Christmas songs released each year. This is definitely one of them.

2. Suicide Girl – Eskimo Joe


This starts the Oceanic portion of the album. Eskimo Joe is a great little band from Australia. They’ve got some great cover art on their latest album. They’re great. I’m not doing very well with my insightful commentary. Thankfully my livelihood doesn’t depend upon it.

3. Hello – The Cat Empire

Another Australian band, though chances are you’d never have guessed it. Do they sound Australian? I guess I expect every band from down under to sound like Men at Work. Interestingly enough they recorded this album in Cuba. I’m not sure why. Possibly to sound less like Men at Work.

4. Albi – Flight of the Conchords

I couldn’t very well put together an album this year without my beloved Conchords. They’ve taken the majority of their songs and worked them into episodes of the HBO show, including this one. I was very surprised when they fit a song about a racist dragon coherently into a plotline, but they are a talented duo. New Zealand, I salute you. Now on to the British section:

5. Chelsea Dagger – The Fratellis

I don’t attend very many concerts, but I did catch the Fratellis when they came through Columbus this summer, and it was pretty great. I really like every song on Costello Music (your cue to get the album) so had a devil of a time picking one. It finally came down to the fact that Flathead and Chelsea Dagger both have scantily clad women in their music videos and Flathead is overplayed. Unfortunately there were no such women at the show.

6. Prescilla – Bat For Lashes

Crazy band names are a staple of the music industry. How else will people remember you? The quality of your music? Pish posh. However this trend has now caught up with single female vocalists. Bat for Lashes is just a crazy name. St. Vincent narrowly missed the cut for the album, as did A Fine Frenzy. But Prescilla (also an unusual name) was definitely good enough to crack my top 20.

7. Hope For Us All – Nick Lowe

Nick hasn’t taken the American Idol path to fame. His first album is from 1966, he’s written a lot of music for Elvis Costello, he has worked as a producer for several decades, and finally became a millionaire when a song he wrote was covered by another artist and included on The Bodyguard soundtrack, which then sold 15 million copies. Not too shabby. If you’d like to hear him sing as an opposite persona to this one, listen to I Trained Her to Love Me which is great for entirely different reasons.

8. She Moves In Her Own Way – The Kooks

Admittedly, this year’s list is less indie than last year. Chances are that you’ve heard the Kooks on the radio by now; I don’t listen to it much so I’m not sure. But they are a great band and I sorely regret not seeing them this last summer. It was 5 bucks! How foolish I am.

9. Versatile Heart – Linda Thompson

I’m pretty sure that this is the girliest song on the mix. Not only does it make me look like a woman, but a fifty year old one at that. Oh well. I really enjoyed this whole album, which switches from folk to blues to celtic to country. Linda is versatile indeed, and one classy old broad.

10. Skeleton Song – Kate Nash

England seems to be an endless source of young female artists these days. Sovreign, Winehouse, Stone, Lily Allen, etc. Each has their own unique niche, but they all seem to have a bit of an attitude, which I like. Nash has a quirky mix of pop and folk, and curses like a sailor, though not in this particular song. If you can put up with her tongue, she’s a fun new member of the group. The five of them should really form a band and fight the Spice Girls. I knew who my money’s on.

11. Pretty Green (ft. Santo Gold) – Mark Ronson

Mark is a British producer, much in the vein of Timbaland in the states. On this album he ODB, Britney Spears, Lily Allen, Amy Winehouse, Robbie Williams and others. The whole thing is funky and fun, and I had a hard time picking a song. I almost chose Winehouse’s track (since she is one of my favorite new artists this year) but since she’s so popular, I didn’t feel the need to publicize her. And despite the fact that I have no idea who Santo Gold is, this track is fantastic.

12. A Little Bit More – Jamie Lidell

The sad fact is that I got this song from a Target commercial. My only consolation is that I did have Jamie in my relatively lengthy list of artists I am supposed to try out. And Target is a fine store. This song has some great bass, so listen to it on the right speakers. The mix of highs and lows is very pleasing, as is the mix of hip hop and traditional styles. All around it’s a great synthesis piece.

13. Wanna Be (ft. Lily Allen) – Dizzee Rascal

I’m a pretty big Lily fan. She’s catchy, she’s pretty funny, she’s not unattractive. I’m not a huge Dizzee fan, but his grime music is an interesting tweak of standard rap. But the nostalgia value of the track’s Bugsy Malone sampling made it win out of my favorite Lily songs, The Littlest Things and Not Big.

14. Beware Of the Dog – Jamelia

One critic touted this as the perfect pop song. That may be a bit strong, but it is a fun song, and it samples Depeche Mode, which is a plus I guess.

15. I Talk Too Much – Just Jack

I must confess: Jack wasn’t exactly new to me this year. Up and coming artists sometimes load their songs onto C-Net for free download to get publicity, and I downloaded a song of his two or three years ago. And although I thought it was a reasonably good song, it wasn’t enough for me to seek him out again. When his new album came out I decided to try it out and have enjoyed it quite a bit. You’ve got to love a song where the chorus is “Sometimes I don’t say the right thing to make you love me anymore than you do.”

16. Cobrastyle (ft. Mad Cobra) – Teddybears

The British is finally over! Now onto the Swedish music section, consisting of this song. Seeing as I have heard this song on both The Black Donnellys (RIP) and Chuck, it’s quite possible that it’s been played elsewhere, perhaps ad nauseum. But on the off chance that you haven’t been exposed to it, here it is in all it’s zippy glory. The rest of the album is similarly catchy, and includes Iggy Pop! Bonus.

17. My Shadow Is A Monday – Lavender Diamond


Probably the second girliest song on the mix, and definitely with the girliest band name. And a strange band it is. Most of their songs are extremely repetitious, primarily lyrically, which nearly becomes chanting. But it’s very catchy chanting that will stick in your head for hours afterwards. The instrumentation also seems especially strong, and integrates very well with the singer’s voices.

18. Days Aren’t Long Enough – Steve Earle


I had originally picked City of Immigrants as Steve’s contribution, but then realized that I already had Albi as my song about racism. So instead we get this lovely duet. I’ve started to listen to some more “traditional” rock music this year, whatever that means. Mostly that the singers are old and generally not popular. That’s what rock is I guess.

19. Turpentine – Brandi Carlile

As with most artists included on this list, I really liked the whole album this song came from (The Story, go get it) so had a hard time choosing a single song. The final two were this one and My Song, which is more of a traditional power ballad. This was the sadder of the two songs, and since that’s my cup of tea, it won.

20. Breakin’ Up – Rilo Kiley

Various people who share my musical taste have told me to listen to Rilo Kiley. For some reason I have refused to do so. I’m stubborn sometimes, with no apparent reason. But I finally did this year. They’ve got an original sound, some clever lyrics, a female vocalist (which I prefer.) Turns out I like them.

21. Veni Vidi Vici – Black Lips

What a weird band. This is a normal enough song, but others are about Navajo Indians and how to tell a kid that their gym teacher died. Listen to the Flaming Lips and the Black Lips together for a trippy afternoon. The Black Lips describe their music as Flower Punk, which means nothing to me. I haven’t heard of any of the bands they say influenced them. I haven’t heard of any of the bands that LastFM tells me they sound like. But since I like them, I should probably investigate further.

22. Can’t Believe A Single Word – VHS Or Beta

Yet another band that came to Columbus, and I missed them. Curse you med school and your stupid studying! You ruin all my fun. Honestly I’m getting tired of writing these blurbs. Listen to the song. You’ll like it. 93% guaranteed.

23. Falsa Baiana – Paulinho Moska

This song is kind of out of left field, but I like it and it’s my mix, so deal with it. I don’t listen to bossa nova all that often, but it is my favorite of all South American styles. I happened upon the movie Woman on Top (Penelope Cruz? Suggestive title? I should see that) and it turned out that it had a fantastic soundtrack. And Penelope Cruz, and suggestive situations. So it was a pretty big success.

Here are some other songs that didn’t quite make the cut:

Valerie (ft Amy Winehouse) – Mark Ronson (Amy is overplayed)
Tears Dry On Their Own – Amy Winehouse (same reason)
The Littlest Things – Lily Allen (wanted the Dizzee track)
Put Your Hands On Me – Joss Stone (Good, but not fantastic)
Paralyzer – Finger Eleven (one curse)
Catacomb Kids – Aesop Rock (swearing)
Give ‘Em Hell – Talib Kweli (swearing)
Supermassive Black Hole – Muse (I’ve known the band for several years)
Can I Get Get Get – Junior Senior (known the band for a couple years)
Birdie Brain – The Fiery Furnaces (crazy weird)
Beanbag Chair – Yo La Tengo (little too mellow)
Put a Penny In The Slot – Fionn Regan (have only heard this one song)
Better Than – John Butler Trio (too many Australians)
Between The Flatland and the Caspian Sea – Keren Ann (too many girly girl singers)
The Minnow & The Trout – A Fine Frenzy (too long)
Marry Me – St. Vincent (not top 20)
Self-Help Book – Simple Kid (not top 20)
Emerald City – John Vanderslice (not top 20)
Even If – The Honorary Title (not top 20)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

9th Time's the charm

So I don’t think I’ve talked about my most recent movie at all on this lovely blog. Seeing as it took up a large portion of my life for several weeks, it probably should have received some mention.

I’ve had my Cool Movie written for months. I think most of it was done back in the summer. But despite how it may seem at times, med school is actually rather time-consuming so I hadn’t had a chance to do anything with it. But once cardiology was over I saw that I had a full five weeks until my renal exam (it’s usually 3 weeks until the next exam, but we had a couple holidays and evidently the kidneys are twice as important as other organs) so decided now was the time. Now being then, six weeks ago.

So I actually got 90% of the filming done in the first week of the block. The last 10% stretched over the next two weeks, but this was primarily due to my own laziness since they were mostly just narration scenes. For a while I toyed with showing the movie at our Variety Show, but when I started to compile footage and discovered the wealth of material I had before me (large portions of the movie were unscripted, so I had no idea how long they’d go) I decided it wouldn’t fit well into the show. Hence I came up with the Flight of the Conchords number that we did instead. So with no set deadline I took my sweet time editing which was a luxury I haven’t always had in the past. I debuted the film to mixed reviews, though largely favorable. Most of the complaints came from girls who hadn’t gussied themselves up and only realized the importance of doing so after seeing themselves on camera. Hardly a problem with my artistic vision.

At first this movie seems like the same type of movie that I’ve made before. It’s an instructional video on how to be cool, not unlike my video on how to stay single. It’s a fake history of coolness, much like my fake history of the SWKT. This is my ninth movie, and I try to make each different. I had very specific goals for this movie to make it at the very least a departure, and hopefully an improvement of previous efforts.

1. I made no Mormon jokes in the movie. I have no problem with these jokes and I’m sure I’ll make them in the future, but I wanted to make a movie without this crutch.
2. I wanted a quality introduction sequence. My intros are usually just text and music, but I wanted an actual opening sequence for the movie. I had a bit of one with my Cops movie, but this time I timed it much more carefully and think it’s a more interesting concept.
3. In the SWKT movie I had a short segment where I asked people ridiculous questions and got candid responses. This was one of my favorite parts of the movie, even though it had nothing to do with the rest of the feature. So I again took many candid responses (in fact the responses make up half the movie, and took the majority of the film I used) and integrated them into the movie. Some were completely random, but most actually relate back to the “plot” and “themes” of the movie.
4. The movie does have more plot and themes than I typically do. It’s by no means a story-driven movie, but it is a bit more focused than some previous efforts. The scenes are also not purely for comedic value, but make some actual statements about being cool. It’s primarily satire, but I do feel they are some legitimate observations.
5. I was fairly selective with my actors. Though only a couple parts were hand-written for a particular person, I had very specific people that I wanted in the movie. I’m confident in my writing, but I wanted people that I thought were funny and/or engaging on their own and put them into the scenes and interviews. It would seem an obvious change to make, but it’s something I haven’t really focused on in the past.

Also of note, though not intentional, is that the movie is my longest yet. It comes in at an hour and twenty minutes. The movie itself runs just under an hour, with about five minutes of bonus scenes involving the characters introduced in the movie. We then have the bonus footage, consisting of bloopers, outtakes and interviews that I thought were good but didn’t fit into the flow of the movie. So the movie ended up being about a half hour longer than I had intended. But hopefully it’s a quick hour and a half for everyone watching.

I’m starting to write my next project, a modern day Ohio legend. Look for it this March.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Chocolate Rain!

If you can get me some of this new Dr. Pepper, you'll be my friend.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Chrismix 2: 007

I started Chrismix 2: 007 last week. I’ve whittled it from 150 to 60. It’s those last 40 that will be hard. Curse you bands!

My rules this year:

1. The song must be new to me this year.
2. The band must be new to me this year (this is a new rule.)
3. Only one song per band.
4. The CD must be appropriate for all ages (excluding babies who are being reared in silence.)

Rule 1 is easy. In fact I need that requirement to even make the process manageable; a generic mix would have no motivating force. Rule 2 is hard, because I do love that new Radiohead album. Rule 4 eliminates about a third of the new stuff I listen to (indie, rock and rap) which should probably tell me something, but I’m going to ignore whatever that may be. But Rule 3 is the killer. I’ve been listening to music by album more than by single these last couple years, so it’s really hard to pick the single song the best represents the band.

This is a silly project. At least it keeps me from studying those stupid kidneys. I hate the nephron, nephrology and nephrologists. Especially nephrologists.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

TV movies; like normal TV only longer

I’ve seen two movies based on television shows recently. Both were quite good, though this came as no surprise since the shows themselves are first rate.

The first was Battlestar Galactica: Razor. Now before any of you naysayers speak up, I’m not listening to any of your lip. Yes, Dwight loves Battlestar, thus assuring that it is a nerdy show. It may be nerdy, but it is awesome. I was just telling my roommate today that I’m looking forward to Battlestar’s upcoming season premiere more than that of Lost. Both are fine shows, but Battlestar is very often a more satisfying experience. The nerdiest among you have debated the value of Heroes versus Lost and what you may miss is that Battlestar takes the best elements of the two serial drama powerhouses, and adds better acting, cooler effects and an epic storyline. It’s a fantastic show, as anyone who has watched an episode and a half will tell you.

Razor wasn’t fantastic, but it was good. Strangely enough the movie takes place in three different time periods, none of which are in between the most reason season and the upcoming premiere. It’s basically three different sets of flashbacks, but which all tie together and provide a couple new bits of information for the upcoming season. The concept didn’t exactly enthrall me, but I trust the writers of this show to do whatever they please. And it worked well. The biggest impact the movie had was to make me excited for the new season. And perhaps this was the major point of it all. If only the new season didn’t correspond with my time studying for the board exams.

The second movie was the new Futurama movie. For those of you that are unfamiliar, this is another cult following show. It’s from the writers of The Simpsons, but was never terribly successful. But the DVDs of the show sold extremely well and it has been one of the centerpieces of Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim programming, and like Family Guy before it, it has been resurrected. In another unusual marketing movie, 4 movies are being made, which will be cut up into 16 episodes which will be shown on Comedy Central next year. It’s strange, but fans of the show are happy to see it in any form they can.

This movie is called Bender’s Big Score, and the plot is too complex to go into and fairly inconsequential. What is consequential is that it was very entertaining. Futurama is fairly unique in that it has funny characters spouting funny dialogue while acting out funny storylines, all the while with funny visual gags in the background. It doesn’t have as many laugh-out-loud spots as Family Guy or a classic Simpsons episode (though far more than current episodes), but it is constantly amusing. Furthermore the characters are much more relatable and paradoxically human (seeing as most of them are mutants, aliens, robots etc) than those in other animated shows. So not only is it uniquely funny, but the storylines, silly as they may be, seem more important to the viewer. I thought these strengths were shown very clearly in the movie. But I’m not sure if a new viewer will enjoy it much. There are constant references back to previous episodes throughout the movie. Almost none of them are essential to the plot, but I think the movie would seem very random to a new viewer. But for me, it was simultaneously a great bit of nostalgia and new entertainment. I can’t wait until the next one.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

T-Day

Some lessons from Thanksgiving weekend

1. I have never, nor is it likely that I ever shall use my vacation effectively. My goal: study for 3 hours a day. That didn’t happen. It was a slackerly goal, and still didn’t happen. Wanting to get stuff done just spoils the vacation.
2. I don’t really like Thanksgiving. What is the main component of the holiday? Eating. I enjoy eating, but I don’t want a holiday for it. I don’t really have any family traditions, so there’s nothing else to do. I don’t like football, so the main activities of the day are also not enjoyable. All in all, it’s just not a good holiday for me. I may not celebrate it in the future.
3. It’s always cold on Thanksgiving. It was 70 degrees on Wednesday. It was 30 on Thursday. This wasn’t a problem, except I had to run a football game. I stayed by the hot chocolate the whole morning.
4. People don’t like sweet potatoes. I made a bunch, and brought about 80 % of them home. This was great, because I like them and got to eat them for the next couple days.
5. Black Friday, when experienced in moderation, is both easy and unproductive. I went to four stores, which weren’t the ones having huge sales. I went at 10, which is after the crazy sales started, but before the masses lazier than I got to the store. The really good stuff was already gone. But I didn’t have any lines and got some reasonably good deals. My experience didn’t increase or decrease my chances of shopping on this dreaded day next year.
6. Spamalot is nearly as funny on repeat viewings. I’m not a huge theater person, and have never seen a play more than once. But when offered a free ticket to the show which is in Columbus for the week, I took it. I think the presentation on Broadway was better (as you’d expect) but this was still a very enjoyable experience. I think due to the variability of a live performance, repeat viewings of plays hold up better than watching films over and over. But it’s not nearly as cost effective.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Like the Conchords

Our tribute to those delightful Kiwis.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Compulsion

I compulsively delete my spam every time I open my email, which is roughly twenty times a day. So as an effort to liberate myself from my unhealthy tendencies I refrained from deleting any spam for the last week. This was fairly convenient since it was test week and this probably saved me at least four minutes over the course of the week. In any case, my grand total came to: 139. Isn't that crazy? I'd get rid of the email account, but it's engraved on the back of my iPod, so I'm really stuck with it until B-Debbie dies.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

In case you missed it

I'm not sure why this hasn't been all over CNN this last week, but we have another picture of Bigfoot! I found it very interesting that half the sites I found covering this story didn't include the picture itself. Why have a story about a new bigfoot picture, and not post the picture? In any case, in honor of Halloween, here's Mr. Foot.



PS. Detractors claim it's a mangy bear. As in, a bear with the disease mange. Who's right? Well it could always be Cain.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Google-famous

I heard an editorial some time ago about measuring your fame by how quickly your name comes up on search engines. Basically we're all in competition with people who share our names, to see who's the most google-famous.

I don't do very well. I looked through the first 20 or so hits for Christopher Sorensen. Unfortunately for my google-fame, a number of them are professors who publish, so get lots of hit, or entrepreneurs who own businesses, which also get lots of hits. Oh well.

I do however own every instance of Ranteumptom that comes up. I guess making up a word will do that. As I scrolled through my Ranteumptom credits I came across this blurb:

Chris Sorensen studies neuroscience, like most successful writers. He frequently writes for Schooled magazine, but this is his first entry into a reputable publication. He is devastatingly handsome. He returned home to New York to attend medical school. His favorite color is green, and you can read more of his musings at ranteumptom.blogspot.com. He cannot be taken seriously.

It would be much cooler if someone else had written this, but then I remembered writing it one night when I was asked to contribute a bio to Inscape for their issue that I was published in. Here’s the link if you want to read my article:

http://inscape.byu.edu/winter2006/sorensen_satan.php

The things I find to do instead of studying. Writing silly articles and then finding them on the internet.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Catagorize me

For someone that’s so interested in personality, cognition and himself, I really have a hard time pegging down my actual personality type.

I usually think of myself as a very type B person. I’m very casual and relaxed. I don’t tend to get stressed out. I don’t fight for points at our exam review sessions. I feel zero compunction to provide answers or exert leadership over class discussions, whether at school or church. I drive places without maps. I prefer to be late than early. I have no idea how much money is in my bank account. Et cetera, et cetera.

But then I go and exhibit some very type A traits. Last week I decided to go to the ballet, which I don’t think particularly labels me as A or B, though certainly a less manly version of either. When I discovered the tickets I had planned on purchasing were sold out and I must rely on rush tickets, I immediately came up with several alternate plans. I looked into how much each set of tickets would cost. I ordered the film version of the ballet (Dracula, incidentally, which made it a bit more macho) from Blockbuster online. Because I wasn’t sure if the film would arrive by the day of my date, I looked into all the public and university libraries in Columbus. I spent a trip home from a friends house stopping at each store which might conceivably have this DVD (Borders, Barnes and Nobles, Circuit City, Hollywood Video, Target and Walmart, which all happened to be on the same road.) With no luck I went to the ballet box office a couple hours before I was to meet my date in order to be there before rush tickets were sold. Point being I ended up acting in a very anal manner, making me question if I am in fact a type A. In the end I both received my DVD on the day of the show and got my rush tickets so we were able to see the show, and had a good time.

Now type A versus type B is hardly tried and true psychiatry. It’s everyman psychobabble. And even using this generic system, there’s a continuum involving type AB. Which I guess defines me, as well as 90% of the population.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Easy to Please

I dislike very few foods. I have two possible explanations: I lack passion (thus have few strong likes or dislikes) or I lack a sensitive palate. Actually it’s probably both of these things. In any case, it’s a very helpful characteristic when I’m at the mercy of another’s cooking. Conversely, it’s inconvenient when trying to be decisive over a meal choice. Although I’d hardly say this is a comprehensive list, it’s everything I’ve been able to think of in the last few weeks.

Black Licorice – This stuff is gross. I fail to see how anyone enjoys it. I’m glad that much of the population agrees with me on this one.

Mayonnaise – Totally gross. I realize that I enjoy many things that contain mayonnaise, but the mayo on its own is disgusting. I refuse to purchase it, which means that I consequently don’t eat a lot of tuna. It’s worth the sacrifice.

Tofu – Gross. I guess that saying gross to these is pretty superfluous. If tofu is disguised it can be edible, but on its own it is a nasty gelatinous block of evil.

Rye Bread – This bread is edible only on Reuben sandwiches. Even a brick would taste good when smothered in Swiss cheese and sauerkraut. Otherwise rye is just a bitter waste of carbohydrates.

Stuffing – I have no qualms against store-bought anything. Sometimes I even prefer it to homemade. Bu while certain varieties of homemade stuffing are tolerable (but highly overrated) anything else is gross.

Quiche – This is very surprising, because I like most of the ingredients of quiche. And sometimes I have some and it’s fine. But usually it inspires an inexplicable gag reflex.

Celery – I simply have a moral opposition to food that requires more calories to eat than it provides. I realize that it has next to no taste, but I still avoid it whenever possible.

I think that’s it. There are many foods that I feel aren’t nearly as good as everyone else seems to think they are (watermelon, pepperoni, baked potatoes) but these seven are the only ones that I actually dislike. I can’t really think of any dishes or genres of food that I oppose, except obviously those which are chiefly comprised of these seven ingredients. So if you’re having licorice and mayo on rye, don’t invite me over.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Useless, but tempting



I have no need for more t-shirts. But it is on sale . . .

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Now I can be preppy too

There are five Starbucks within five minutes of my house. Now keep in mind, I don’t live in NYC. This is Columbus. It’s not even downtown Columbus. There’s a company that makes steel bars behind my house. This is not the trendy part of town.

But if I need coffee, and need to pay an exorbitant price, I have five choices. I can pretty much drive in any direction and will pass one of these options on my way to wherever I desire. So I was very relieved that when a new store opened down the street, it wasn’t a Starbucks. Instead it was a Chocolate Café.

Never heard of this company? Neither have I. For all I know this is the first, but it certainly looks like a chain. I had little idea of what to expect (I suppose I wouldn’t been surprised if there weren’t any chocolate) I entered yesterday. Turns out that the Chocolate Café is to chocolate as Starbucks is to coffee.

The majority of my experience with Starbucks is from China, which may not be completely accurate. But they seem to have a wide variety of coffee, as you’d expect. In addition they have coffee related products, coffee paraphernalia, coffee-like drinks (cocoa, steamers etc) and various gourmet goodies. So the best reason to go is certainly coffee, but you have a lot of options. Chocolate Café is a chocolatier on one side, an ice cream shop in the middle, which shifts into chocolate desserts before settling on chocolate drinks. I’ve never had Mexican Cocoa or a Banana Steamer, and look forward to doing so when it’s cold enough to justify it. In addition to a full range of coffees they also include gourmet sandwiches and salads, which admittedly have nothing to do with chocolate. Unless there was cocoa in the secret sauce of the Reuben sandwich I sampled. As with Starbucks the atmosphere was pleasant, the prices were a bit too high and everything generally tasted pretty good. My sandwich was pretty great, and the free samples in the chocolate area (I am a student after all, I’m not going to buy something when they provide free samples) were quite tasty.

Welcome to my neighborhood Chocolate Café. Feel free to build three or four more so I’m not forced to travel in a Northwest direction to get some more chocolate goodness.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

The rock won



I imagine that what you all wanted to see tonight was a close-up of my hairy leg.

My leg and a rock become intimately acquainted seven weeks ago. Strangely enough a number of people have assumed that this was because of a skateboarding injury. I don’t know what it is about me or about the cut that reeks of skateboarding, but that is the most common guess. I actually hurt it whitewater rafting, which is only slightly less interesting. The gash up my leg didn’t seem to want to heal for the first three weeks, remaining an ugly red scab that was still tender weeks later. But thankfully the scarring process has finally kicked in and it looks like this may be the final form.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Druggie

There’s a funny dichotomy to med school finances. Doctors are rich, but med students are incredibly poor. Your average homeless person has a net worth of zero dollars. Your average med student has a net worth of negative 150,000 dollars. Most of the time we ignore this massive debt. But every so often we panic and do stupid things, like become part of drug tests.

A couple weeks ago I volunteered for a new fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) study. The researchers are trying to test whether anti-hypertension medication can help autistic individuals increase their concentration. So they give the autistic patients various drugs and have them perform cognitive tasks while in the MRI machine. fMRI is interesting because it not only images your brain, but tells you which areas are being used and how strenuous this use is. So they can tell pretty well how each medication alters brain function, as well as recording the increase or decrease in actual performance on the tests. In order to be a valid experiment they need controls, so they’ve hired med students to come in and take the same drugs and do the same tests and they’ll see how our performance is altered.

The first week it went fine. I showed up, took my drugs and studied for 2 hours while we waited for the drugs to take effect. I felt nothing, but I think the drugs did lower my blood pressure. It’s a blind study, so I really shouldn’t know what my pressure is or else I’ll know when I’m taking the placebo, which will happen one of these weeks. After a couple hours I get into the MRI machine and have to lie completely still for about 40 minutes while I do a variety of mental tests, most of which are extremely easy. Rhyming, listing words that start with S, picking which words belong in an office and which don’t etc. The only hard one is when they show 3 words and I have to find a 4th word that connects them. For example, they show Jelly, Bag and String. The answer is Bean. Maybe that was easy for you, but they drive me crazy. Especially when I can’t move my head only have five seconds and am stuck in a giant humming tube. I don’t know how many the autistic patients are getting right, but I only bat about .50. I digress.

The first time is fine. But a couple days ago I have my second visit. I take my drugs and start reading about arrhythmias. Which, incidentally, are boring. So I’m not very surprised when I get sleepy and have a hard time concentrating. I thought back to the night before and am pretty sure that I got six or seven hours of sleep, which is normal for me. So I end up reading Readers Digest and playing Spider Solitaire instead until it’s time for me to take my tests.

We start off with my least favorite test. Nuclear, Album and Man. I think for a while and my time elapses. Was it Family? Yes it was, but I get it too late. At the end of the exam I figure I did about the same as last time. But while they’re recalibrating the machine for my next test I start to have a hard time focusing my eyes. Eventually they start and I list off about thirty types of clothing. Again they have the calibrate things and I get extremely tired. But soon enough it’s time to decide what rhymes with meat and what doesn’t. During the next break I fall asleep. These aren’t ten minute breaks mind you. This is about a minute and a half. The machine operator asks me if I’m ready for the next test and I don’t answer. He asks again and this wakes me up and I say that I am, hoping he just thought I wasn’t answering before. I manage to stay away for the rest of the 40 minutes, but just barely.

There’s a post-exam, which is uneventful. I mention that I think they medication is making me sleepy and they note this on my chart. I also happen to see my blood pressure on the chart (their security isn’t very tight) and am surprised to find that it had dropped from 120/80 when I came in (which is normal) to 85/?? now. That’s not a healthy pressure. But I feel better now so I drive home. I sit down in my recliner and figure out what I want to do for the hour until my next class starts.

I wake up 3 hours later. Fortunately my teacher is pretty cool and just has me sign the roll when I show up near the end of his physical exam lecture. But seeing as we were doing heart sounds and pulses and my blood had stopped moving I probably wouldn’t have been much help to the class.

So I need to make sure that I don’t develop high blood pressure, because at least one kind of medication knocks me out. But it did put 25 dollars in my pocket, which makes it all worth it.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Med school gourmet

As you well know, I’d always rather make up my own recipe than follow one. Here are two of my most popular culinary inventions of the last month.

Crunchy Quesadillas

It’s often been pointed out that Taco Bell has 5 ingredients that it uses for everything on its menu. This is only a very slight exaggeration. So when asked to make a Mexican dish, I thought I’d just take Taco Bell’s approach and invent something Mexicanish. I broiled two tortillas, one covered in cheese and the other in refried beans. Any beans will do, though mine had salsa mixed in, which added a bit to the taste. The only relatively novel thing in this dish was that after the tortillas were crisp/brown/melted I added a meticulous layer of tortilla chips onto the refried beans. I added some more cheese, slapped the two layers together and cooked it briefly so the layers melted together.

I had intended to have several layers (perhaps 3 tortillas) including a layer of grilled chicken. But I decided that I liked them relatively thin so the chicken out of the quesadillas themselves. It was already grilled though, so after cutting each tortilla into 8 slices and artfully arranging them in a dish I garnished them with chunked chicken with melted cheese to hold it in place.

So they were gooey and tasty, which is my personal definition of a quesadilla, plus a bit spicy and crunchy. I’ve actually made them a couple times since because they store relatively well (remaining crunchy.)

Chris Mix

A friend had told me he liked chocolate covered peanuts mixed with sour watermelon candies. I told him he was on crack. But since we had a test this week and I needed some study food, I decided to concoct my own mix.

Take 2 part Sour Patch Kids. Not everyone likes the Kids, but I do so tough nuts to everyone else. Add 2 parts chocolate covered peanuts. My roommate tried to add chocolate covered raisins, but I nixed that. Raisins are grapes soaked in evil. My only addition to the concept, but I feel a vital one, was adding 3 parts animal crackers. This supplied the vital base for the recipe. The chocolate was sweet, the Kids sour AND sweet, so it was really necessary to add something plane.

So basically it’s an alternative trail mix, removing anything healthy. It was also extremely popular. My batch for test week ended up being completely devoured between our viewing of the Flight of the Conchords and our trip to the Demolition Derby.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Carwars

I haven’t written here in a while. There’s no good reason for it; I’ve just been busy. And when I have to choose between doing things and writing about the things I do, I choose to do things.

An interesting event of late is that my car’s brakes broke. It was rather inconvenient, but thankfully not dangerous. Before heading into the shop I mentally prepared for a particular price. This was rather silly since I know nothing about cars, but still, I decided how much it was going to set me back. Unfortunately it cost ten times the amount I’d prepared myself for. But due to my massive tuition and consequent massive loans, money has really ceased to have any meaning. So I took out my credit card, paid and went on my way. I need rotors after all. To try to balance out the damage to my finances I only spent a dollar at Wendy’s instead of my normal two.

Perhaps as a form of catharsis I went to a demolition derby last night. It was certainly enjoyable to see the cars smash themselves to bits. I had hoped for a completely redneck crowd, but most of them actually looked pretty normal. There were a couple hillbillies here and there, but nothing too extraordinary. There were ten matches or so, some of which were very entertaining. But really when you have cars hitting each other until one of them stops working, it generally is pretty slow near the end. But it was a good time. We also saw “the shortest street in the world” which we knew didn’t actually hold that honor. But it was an entertaining sign to see, and the street was remarkably short.





Tuesday, September 04, 2007

I should probably post something about my life, but tonight's not the night. Instead I will leave you with this fact:

I own 38 t-shirts.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Lyrical Gangster

The Black Eyed Peas are a very successful band. From this I assume they have quite a bit of money. So I don’t understand why they can’t hire a lyricist to help them out.

Now I’m not a big Alanis fan, but she did the world a favor by pointing out how ridiculous both the lyrics and video for My Humps is:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W91sqAs-_-g

Now will.i.iam, or however he punctuates it, has released his latest opus “I Got It From My Mama.” Here’s a sample:

Baby where’d you get your body from?
Tell me where’d you get your body from.
Baby where’d you get your body from?
Tell me where’d you get your body from.
I got it from my mama.
I got it from my mama.
I got it from my mama.
I got it got it got got it…
Admittedly that’s the chorus, but the chorus happens to occupy 90 % of the song. The verses are slightly better, but then lapse into another fantastic refrain of:

If the girl real fine,
Nine times out of ten,
She fine just like her mama.
If the girl real pretty,
Nine times out of ten,
She pretty like her mama.
And if her mama real ugly,
I guarantee ya she gon’ be ugly like her mama.
And if her mama real ugly,
I guarantee ya she gon’ be ugly like her mama.
HE COULDN’T EVEN COME UP WITH A SYNONYM FOR UGLY. He has to abandon his clever wordplay (switching fine for pretty, later alternating it to sexy and hot) and use ugly every time. Now I know that Fergie’s a big star now and takes her thesaurus with her on tour, but can’t he find a 3rd grader to help him out here?

Wouldn’t the world just be a better place if the Peas took their beats (which are admittedly very danceable) and hired some poor schlub to put something moderately compelling lyrically into their songs? I’m a bit busy, but I could refer them to several dozen of my friends who seem to have more skill than will.i.iam.

Admittedly, I’m a hypocrite. Beck is an artist I quite like, and his latest single “Timebomb” is filled with such gems as these:

We're going sideways
Highways
Riding on an elevator
Cold just like an alligator
Now my baby's out of date
Fighting and lightning
And tightening above the buckles
Of an atom bomb's timebomb
Tick tick tick tick


I don’t know, somehow I just feel better about Beck’s lyrics. I’m positive that he knows what all of these words mean. He’s rambling off a stream of consciousness, but again, he knows what a stream of consciousness is. Even if it’s absurd gibberish, it feels like he put thought into it and everything is intentional. I’ll download both songs, but I’ll only pay for Beck. I’ll have the Peas around for when someone requests to hear it, but I’ll silently judge them when I press play.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

All these tremendous brunettes around

So evidently I’m attracted to brunette secondary characters on marginally successful tv shows. Who knew?

My most recent interest is Jemima Rooper, who nearly stars in the British tv series Hex. Though technically not the main character, she’s a lesbian ghost who’s funnier and has a better accent than the protagonist, so she’s the reason I watch it.





The pattern has emerged after my continual interest in Shawnee Smith, who played Ted Danson’s secretary in Becker. I’ve nearly watched Saw several times because I know she’s in it. But for now I watch her brief scene in The Island as Buschemi’s girlfriend and make do.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Flight of the Conchords- Albi (racist dragon)

New Zealand wit may be some of the best wit in the world.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

My movies

With my summer schedule I’ve had the luxury of seeing a variety of movies recently. Although a couple have snuck past me (I have yet to catch Die Hard 4, so don’t ruin the surprise that McClane wins for me) I’ve seen most of the hits of the summer, often in the first several days.

The Bourne Ultimatum was pretty good. As with the Pirate movies and Oceans movies, you know what you’re going to get at this point. If you liked the previous iterations you’ll like the most recent one. Bourne is back and his spying and fighting prowess are once again very impressive. I feel that Mormons are overly fond of these movies because the majority of films in this genre are rated R. I however have seen many of these films, so realize that the plot in these movies isn’t terribly original. I had hypothesized the end of the movie before it started, which I really feel I shouldn’t be able to do. I like the style, I like the stunts, but I’m just not wowed.

The Simpsons Movie was likewise pretty good. It wasn’t stupendous, which is what I was hoping for but not expecting. But it was about as good as the Simpsons was 10 years ago, which was more the enough to warrant my price of admission. Some parts didn’t work, but most did. I for one would have been happy to wait another six months and have it go through test audiences a couple more times to fix some of the silent spots when you knew the writers thought they were being hilarious and the audience just didn’t respond. But regardless, I was laughing nearly constantly for the first 10 minutes, and consistently throughout.

Now it’s interesting to me that while I enjoyed these movies, I’ve had a much better experience with a different set of films. With my roommate gone and my Blockbuster subscription all to myself, I get to experiment much more with what I see.

Primer is a great movie. I’d heard about it from various circles and finally got around to seeing it. I’m not going to divulge much of the plot, because I think it’s more fun to go into it cold. Suffice it to say that it’s a science fiction movie, but it focuses much more on the science than anything you’ve seen in the theater in the last decade. It was a rather complex movie, but I enjoyed it all the more because of it. If you were scratching your head in The Matrix, prepare to watch it several times. It’s an independent movie, but went on to win a variety of awards at film festivals. It was made for a scant seven thousand dollars, which is utterly ridiculous for a science fiction movie. And you can definitely tell throughout that it’s an amateur production. The lighting changes drastically from scene to scene, some parts are a bit out of focus, the sound is even a bit off at times. But I like it even more because of these flaws.

I also just watched The Host. Now Rotten Tomatoes just ranked this as one of the 10 best science fiction movies of all time, which is completely off base. It’s about a mutated tadpole that eats Koreans who can’t run fast enough. It’s not spectacular. But it’s a good movie. It’s a good movie made in a country known for making . . . nothing. Have you ever heard of a South Korean movie, actor, director, anything? The fact that it’s so out-of-the-blue makes it great. The fact that it has political and environmental statements that are only slightly beaten over your head is great. The fact that the tadpole looks pretty darn cool is great.

It’s just so much more fun when you find movies yourself. It’s true that you sometimes have to go though a lot of mediocre ones before you find the gems, but it’s so much more rewarding. Even if Bourne had been absolutely amazing I don’t think I would’ve had the same satisfaction that I had watching these other films. And while I readily admit to being elitist, I don’t think that’s even a factor here. I also just watched Pathfinder and enjoyed it greatly. There are dozens of things to rip apart about the movie, but there were also several elements (digital cinematography, costuming etc) that I greatly enjoyed. All in all it was a bad movie, but it was original, a rarity, and I enjoyed myself simply because I had found it. Critics panned it, I’m sure it didn’t make much money, but I happened across it one day and found a lot to like. You should go out there and find yourself some unknown movies.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Palmyra Pilgrimage

I declare the Palmyra Pilgrimage a success. I’m not sure what would have constituted a failure, but I had fun so I’ll assume we didn’t fail.

Originally I had about a dozen friends from Columbus scheduled to attend. In the week beforehand that number plummeted to 6. This would rather discouraging, especially considering that some of the pioneer members of the trip decided against going. I considered calling the whole thing off, but learned that Stephanie was in fact bringing her contingent of friends from DC, so I needed to be in NY to greet them. So we took our 6, and pulled in a last-minute 7th ringer and got ready to go. Normally I leave people pretty confidential in my blogging, but today it’s full disclosure. The cast of our trip consisted of:

In Yoshi (my car)
Myself: I’m going to save you any description of myself.

Kate: Our resident redhead. She nearly missed the trip due to the release of Harry Potter. She also nearly missed it because of a test she had on Monday. She also considered missing it because she wouldn’t have a chance to meet my mother. It’s really quite amazing she came at all. She really wanted a Garbage Plate.

Lolly: Our DJ extraordinaire. Whereas most of my friends are students, he actually has a job (in business, DJing is a hobby.) Because of this I considered making him pay for all our trip expenses, but his magnanimity only goes so far.

Tiffany: Lolly’s girl, and the youngest member of our expedition. Her youthful zeal gave the rest of us fogies some added energy.

In the Pete-mobile
Pete: Owner of the mobile. He had to work so his car left several hours after ours. He was so excited to see Pageant that he left his girlfriend behind to join us in our quest.

Jaclyn: Accountant by day, conspiracy theorist by night. Apart from her gun advocacy, a very nice girl whose deadpan delivery rivals my own.

Matt: Not a close friend of mine, but a last-minute addition that greatly added to the trip. His waxes philosophic a bit too often, but is otherwise an upright human being.

Up from DC
Stephanie: My bishop’s daughter. She seceded from the ward during the year to start working in DC. But we’ll forgive her because she did bring her friends Kristi, Erika and Charlie to bring our group to the round number of 11.

Day 1:

The trip from Columbus was blessedly uneventful. I’ve been involved in a few too many accidents to be completely nonchalant about roadtrips, but this one was incident free. I’d put together a special playlist that we only made it partially through. Instead we opted for watching a couple Office episodes (we later discovered that the Pete-mobile used Arrested Development instead) and listening to several comedy albums. This meant that we spent the rest of the trip quoting Mike Birbiglia (who I met on Thursday, which was fun), Jim Gaffigan, Dimitri Martin and Celebrity Jeopardy. We also burst into a spontaneous sing-along of Blister in the Sun, which for better or worse was caught on tape.

We arrived in NY at 10:30. Kate made her participation in the trip conditional upon a trip to Borders to get the final Harry Potter, so we headed there to join in the wizardly festivities. Now I’ve been to anime conventions, Star Trek conventions and med school parties, but this was the biggest group of nerds I have ever seen. I suppose the fact that I loathe Harry contributes to my judgment of these people. But being stuck in a bookstore isn’t such a bad thing and it was soon midnight. Kate had insisted on coming to see “the fun” but due to our late reservation had a very poor spot in line to actually receive the book. So Lolly and I drove over to Wegmans and confirmed that there was in fact a pile of books there with no line. However she wouldn’t let us buy one, we had to go back and get her and bring her to Wegmans to buy it herself. To punish her for this delay we read the last couple pages of the book and threatened to reveal the ending to her throughout the weekend.

So we made it to my house around 1. The Pete-mobile showed up around 2 and we then cut the cake to celebrate Lolly’s birthday. By this point my dad had gone to bed (he did stay up to great us, which was commendable) so we whispered the birthday song and enjoyed our late night snack. Some people went to bed, but Kate was up reading for several hours and I stayed up to greet the DC crew, who showed up around 3:30. It was actually quite remarkable that we made it out of the house before noon the next morning. The 11 of us used up 8 beds and 1 couch, which due to our timing were all vacant from family members.

Day 2

This was a long day. We had a lot to do, but very few actual commitments, which is the way I like to vacation. We started off easy by going to PowderMills Park and looking at the Fish Hatchery. A couple people questioned this visit, but I wanted to progressively get better throughout the day. We then explored the Mushroom House, which I’d never actually visited. It’s a fun little bit of real estate, and we didn’t get shot at for snooping around so I was happy.

We made one of our many stops by the Erie Canal next. Since it was still morning we didn’t partake of any Abbot’s Frozen Custard, but we did take some pictures and scare some ducks. We then traveled down to the village of Pittsford to get a Garbage Plate at Village Hots. Unfortunately it has closed down since last I visited (these Hot shops seem to have a hard time staying in business.) So we explored the more scenic Pittsford Erie Canal before heading over to Fairport to their local Hots.

Reviews of the Garbage Plates were understandably mixed. The plate is far from high cuisine (http://whatscookingamerica.net/History/GarbagePlate.htm) but I make a point of having one or two a year. It’s really the only Rochester food I could think of. Although most people split their plates, we did a pretty admirable job of making it through the colossal dishes. Although few people would qualify the meal as “good” they all agreed that it was a worthwhile experience.

After recovering a bit from our main meal of the day we headed to Palmyra. We started off with the Grandin Building, which was pushing visitors through at an amazing rate. But since we didn’t really follow our tour guide, I think everyone got to look at the printing equipment for as long as they wanted. We also enjoy some time in the antique bookstore next door, as well as talking with the Antimormons, which were out in force this year. Jaclyn even talked one into giving her a free t-shirt, which she put on later in the day, much to the dismay of some of our group. It understandably made her the center of attention as we continued to visit church sites and the missionaries would invariably descend upon her to make sure she wasn’t causing any problems. We didn’t get any actual grief until we reached the Hill Cumorah Pageant, where she was asked to cover the shirt (it read “We used to agree.com”) or leave. Oh that crazy Jaclyn.

We had to make it over to the Hill Cumorah in the afternoon to get our backstage tour. I’d seen most everything before, having been in Pageant a number of years ago, but I think it was pretty neat for everyone else. We went under the stage, to the prop shop, through the wigs and costumes and then finally to the top of the Hill. I came across a number of old ward members, half of whom didn’t remember me. I guess 7 years has that effect.

After our tour we backtracked to the Sacred Grove/Joseph Smith House/Temple area. Half of us did the actual tour, but having gone through it a number of times I just skipped the houses and went into the grove. I don’t know why, but neither house (Cabin and house) really does anything for me. But as always I had a good experience in the grove, with the added pleasure of seeing a vole and an offroad wheelchair.

I had been taping things throughout the day with my video camera, which didn’t get odd until the Pageant itself. I had no need or desire to tape the whole thing, but did capture a few choice scenes. My video was really less distracting than all the flash bulbs going off, but I still felt like Pageant security was going to come down on me. But that was probably because Jaclyn had so recently brought us to their attention. In addition to our full group we added a couple other friends from DC, as well as some friends of mine from Rochester. So we had quite the congregation to see the show. Getting away from the pageant seemed much harder than in years past. But we played some party music and rocked out in our borrowed mini-van and all was well.

Day 3

This was primarily a travel day, which was again uneventful. We did attend church in the morning, which was only noteworthy because a couple of the group hadn’t brought any dress clothes. There are worse things than going to church in jeans.

We said our goodbyes and took a couple group pictures. Lolly had seen our old canoe under the deck and decided we needed to take a picture in it. You can’t really see the cobwebs and heaps of dead leaves in the picture, but it wasn’t entirely pleasant.

On the way back to OH we stopped at Niagra Falls. It ended up being a bit farther out of the way than I remembered, but it was still worth the brief departure. It was a great day at the falls, which did mean that there were tons of other people there also. We did the American side because we were in a hurry, but I like alternating between them anyway. This stop was really the only event on the way home. Kate did finish Harry Potter about an hour from Columbus, which put her time at about 42 hours. Not amazing, but considering the amount of other things we’d done in those days it was surprising she managed it. We stopped in Kirtland to get gas, but didn’t actually do anything else there.

So as I finish writing this it occurs to me that blogging about interesting things doesn’t necessarily make for interesting blogging. Deep I know. But it was a fun trip and we’ve already started planning our next destination.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Wanna Be

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kyA6sg2qPnE

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Did I just hear . . .

Bugsy Malone. A movie that evidently existed only within the Sorensen household has made it's rap debut. I was listening to the new Dizzee Rascal CD (British hiphop DJ, for those not in the know)and suddenly I hear Lily Allen singing "So you want to be a boxer" in the chorus. It's faster and the lyrics are altered, but the tune is there. It very nearly blew my mind.

Dizzee Rascal ft. Lily Allen: Wanna Be. Check it out.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Fifth time a charm?

I’m now using my 5th Chocolate phone. Ridiculous.

Phone 1: Stolen by a hobo. Obviously this wasn’t Verizon’s fault, other than having such an attractive phone.
Phone 2: Memory chip melted when a girl I didn’t like called me.
Phone 3: Sliding mechanism broke.
Phone 4: Vibration mechanism ceased functioning.

So now I’m on phone 5. It’s very possible that this is my typical bad luck, but seeing as they never seem surprised when I come in with a newly defective phone, I think it’s a less-than-stellar product. But as long as they keep replacing it free of charge I’ll keep using it.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Gladiatorific

This is the American Gladiators Event I threw a couple months ago.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Sharing the crazy

Most of the time my job is boring. Making copies, transposing files, hunting down test subjects, centrifuging blood. It’s not a glorious existence. But every once in a while I have an interview that raises the interest level several thousand percent. A lady I talked to recently said all of the following in a forty minute time period:

1. President Bush needed to be in God’s hands (ie dead.) This statement is a pretty low level of crazy.
2. She had mailed her artwork to Janet Jackson. Again, unusual, but not crazy.
3. Her ex had stolen 26,000 dollars from her. Unlikely considering I knew her exact employment history, or lack thereof.
4. This caused her to get in a car accident, which resulted in needing a hysterectomy, which resulted in the government implanting a device to read her thoughts.
5. The government taps her phone (odd considering they can already read her thoughts and see through her eyes.)
6. The government implants these implants during many people’s surgeries.
7. She has a frequent contact with the Holy Spirit (I could buy this.)
8. An early indication of this was a picture of the Last Supper appearing in her yard inside a metal box she saw in a dream.
9. Satan has visited her twice, once as a 3.5 foot tall cat in a suit, then again as a large pair of eyes that remained on her wall all night.
10. She’s been given numerous visions, including a very detailed visit to Saturn.
11. She’s also been given a spiritual companion. Her companion’s name is Tatiana and they engage in spiritual sex (the patient is spiritually a man.) She described spiritual sex in some detail, but I’ll just let you know that climax is “like a mushroom cloud.”

You may think it’s bad form to post the particular psychoses of a patient on my blog, and perhaps it is. But one thing I’ve noticed about psychiatrists is that they feel free to take a light-hearted view of their patients, and feel nearly compelled to share what they witness on any given day. I think you can’t just bottle up this craziness. As I sit and search through records in the central office I hear a constant string of absurd conversations. “So how’s so-and-so today? He’s the king of Greece today. Does Greece have a king? The country changes most days, but he always stays king.” You don’t hear this kind of casual banter about someone with pneumonia. But you don’t really need to. You can talk to the person with pneumonia about it. When someone’s delusional, you can only discuss that delusion in any real manner with a third party. And when the delusional patient is screaming and ordering and generally trying to make your life miserable, you need to vent. So psychiatrists cope, by sharing the crazy.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Reviews: Rollout!

Here are the answers to last week's quiz:

Who is the leader of the Decepticons?
Mumrah (Thundercats)
Skeletor (He-Man)
Megatron
Starscream (2nd in Command)

The Constructicons combine to form what giant(er) robot?
Devastator

Generally speaking, what can Decepticons do that Autobots can’t?
Fly

Which of the following are not one of Soundwave’s helpers?
Laserbeak (an eagle)
Ravage (a panther)
Rumble (a miniature robot)
Masterblaster

Who doesn’t lend their voice to the Transformers movie?
Eric Idle
Mark Hamill (I hate Mark Hamill)
Leonard Nimoy
Orson Welles
Also Judd Nelson, the bully from the Breakfast Club, Casey Kasem and the Micromachines guy each do a voice. Little known facts.

Who is the leader of the Dinobots?
Grimlock

What was the American rip-off of Transformers?
Go-bots

What is Transformer food/fuel/currency/mammon?
Energon

What is the Transformers’ homeworld?
Cybertron

Who has the same voice as Starscream?
Cobra Commander (from GI Joe)
Hordack (from She-Ra)
Shredder (from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)

I suppose I should also give my review for the new movie. As with my Spiderman review, this is extremely biased. Seeing as Transformers is my favorite cartoon of the 80s, any movie containing Optimus Prime will automatically be great, regardless of the actual quality. Luckily this movie was as “good” as a movie featuring giant robots could be. It won’t get any Oscars (except for effects, which it deserves), but it was thoroughly entertaining.

Michael Bay and Spielberg did a good job balancing the original show with a modern, streamlined revival. Lots of elements from the cartoon make no sense from an adult view, and they did a good job of removing these parts while maintaining the spirit of the original. Yes the fanboys would prefer it if Megatron still turned into a gun, but it makes more sense for him to be a jet. In return for changing things they threw in a lot of inside jokes for fans of the original. I could easily see the film failing by changing it too much or not changing it enough, and they did a good job.

Obviously this movie requires a large suspension of disbelief. But if you’re watching it in the right context, it delivers in spades. There was a certain level of gravitas about the whole war, which served the story well. There was also a surprising amount of humor. This certainly wasn’t Knocked Up, but I laughed out loud several times through the movie. A lot of the humor was aimed at the under-10 crowd (I can see no other reason to include a robot urination scene) but it was balanced overall. The acting was nothing remarkable, but everyone was serviceable. I’ve liked LeBouf since Constantine, and this and Disturbia look to push him onto the center stage for the next decade or so.

As a Michael Bay movie, we expect some great action, and he delivers. What I didn’t expect was the quality of the effects. There weren’t that many “that looks so awesome” moments, but what impressed me was that there wasn’t a single “oh, look at that CG” moments. The movie looked believable throughout, which really is the point of CG. It’s not about spectacle, it’s about making imaginative stories possible. And this movie did that better than any in recent memory.

I saw the movie with another guy and two girls. The males had both nostalgia and an affinity for action/sci-fi skewing our view, but liked it a great deal. The girls were basically humoring us by going, but both ended up having a lot of fun. And that’s probably the best descriptor of the movie: it was fun. Try not to smile.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

More than meets the eye

My Spiderman Quiz was rated far too difficult (the high score was a 60%) so I dumbed down this Transformers Quiz quite a bit.

The Transformers Challenge


Who is the leader of the Decepticons?
Mumrah
Skeletor
Megatron
Starscream

The Constructicons combine to form what giant(er) robot?
Devastator
Constructicus
Metroplex
Jimmy Hoffa

Generally speaking, what can Decepticons do that Autobots can’t?
Speak French
Fly
Procreate
Fire lasers from their eyes

Which of the following are not one of Soundwave’s helpers?
Laserbeak
Ravage
Rumble
Masterblaster

Who doesn’t lend their voice to the (original) Transformers movie?
Eric Idle
Mark Hamill
Leonard Nimoy
Orson Welles

Who is the leader of the Dinobots?
Grimlock
Slag
Snarl
Raptar

What was the American rip-off of Transformers?
My Little Pony
Go-bots
M.A.S.K.
Changemasters

What is Transformer food/fuel/currency/mammon?
Nutella
Carbon
Energon
Human scalps

What is the Transformers’ homeworld?
X23
Cybertron
Digitron
Asteroid Belt


Who has the same voice as Starscream?
Cobra Commander
Hordack
Shredder
Sister Peterson

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Soda jerk

Soda innovation has been slow lately. Although they’ve been releasing new sodas at fairly regular intervals, the “new” flavors have little to offer.

The prime example of this would probably be the new Coke Zero Cherry and Vanilla Flavors. Now I’ve purchased both of these a number of times and have enjoyed them, but are they really necessary? Can’t we handle Diet Coke in its variety of forms? Or why don’t they replace Diet Coke with Coke Zero? I can certainly taste the difference, but I’d be hard pressed to pick which I preferred over the other. If it would drop the price at all to mass produce one or the other I’d drop one without a second thought. I guess they want to avoid the whole New Coke fiasco.

Another prime example is the Pepsi Jazz series. Again, they have a Cherry AND Vanilla flavor that differs little from Diet Cherry Pepsi. The Strawberry is different at least, but isn’t terribly good. And then they release a third variety: Carmel. Who in the world has been writing Pepsi letters requesting a Carmel soda? Is it bad? No, it’s fine. But you buy it once for the novelty and then only ever think about it if there’s a ridiculous sale going on.

Coke Plus I think is a funny concept. Vitamins in my soda? What are they going to do next, put Fluorine in my drinking water? The product is decent (sensing a trend?) but I don’t think it will ever replace vitaminless Diet Coke. It has a slight aftertaste that is just enough to make me forego my daily intake of Folic acid. But as a ¼ doctor I wholeheartedly support pregnant women drinking Coke Plus.

I tried Pepsi Max last week. The story behind it is much more interesting than the soda itself. In 1993 Pepsi made a new formula for Diet Pepsi that tasted more like normal Pepsi. They wanted to release it in the US, but the FDA wouldn’t approve one of the sweeteners. So they released it in every other country in the world, where it has been one of their more popular drinks. Finally last month the FDA approved that final ingredient and they were able to start selling it here. With one change: they added 30% more caffeine (slightly more than Mountain Dew.) Predictably it tastes exactly like half a glass of Pepsi mixed with half a glass of Diet Pepsi. I did stay up the entire night after drinking 3 ounces of it, but I feel that is unrelated. Drinking the rest of the 2 liter has done nothing for me, either emotionalloy or in terms of my alertness.

Where’s the innovation Coke and Pepsi? The only new flavors that I’ve enjoyed this year were from Diet Rite and whoever makes Vault. They shouldn’t even be in the contest. Sure Pepsi Blue and Clear failed commercially, but I thought they were dang cool. And I’m the only person that blogs about soda so they should take notice.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

God works in mysterious ways

Because I’m not spending time studying (though if I were a good med student I’d start getting ready for the Board exams) I feel obligated to volunteer my service for things that I’d usually ignore. Saturday was a prime example of this.

A friend of mine was moving across town so I volunteered to help her move. Admittedly I probably would have done such a thing during the school year, but that works against the theme of this post. I wasn’t terribly happy to discover that there were only 2 of us that showed up in the morning, despite the 6 or so hands that were raised in Elder’s Quorum. So as I moved things with one hand I used the other to make calls on my cell phone, waking people up and guilting them into helping us out. Despite my efforts at recruiting, it still took us longer than I had anticipated and I didn’t get home until 2.

This wasn’t a big deal, except I had volunteered to work at a First-Aid booth at a Comfest at noon. I had signed up to work at this booth a couple weeks earlier because another friend of mine was in charge of getting med students to fill these positions. However she hadn’t told me what Comfest was at the time. Turns out that although it is technically a nondescript Community Festival, Comfest is most famous for being a congregation of topless women. It is legal to go topless in Columbus, but most women usually waive this right. Comfest is an exception. In the days leading up to the festival I also heard it described as the gay festival, the hippy festival, and a den of iniquity. The last being from a missionary. So I had a dilemma on my hands. I thought I was being a good person by doing volunteer work and helping out a friend, but it may in fact lead me into certain temptation. In the end the choice was taken from me as I missed my window of opportunity at my other service project.

So I got home at 2, just in time to sleep until my doorbell rang at 3. I did my best attempt at alertness and answered the door, to find the Sister Missionaries. They had asked me the day before if I would mind hosting a discussion in my apartment. Since I had no studying to do, I said that would be fine, and here I was. They didn’t actually have a discussion, we just watched The Testaments with their newest investigator and soon-to-be-convert. I don’t think our HDTV and surround sound are really necessary for feeling the Spirit, but evidently the Sisters have decided that my place is THE place to watch movies. Their investigator had missed the ward activity the night before, so I invited him to the barbeque we were having a few hours later.

Going to a barbeque is hardly a selfless activity, but since I spent a good portion of the time fellowshipping, I’m counting it towards my point. After dropping my new friend off at home I reached my apartment at 12, having spent the vast majority of the day doing service, preparing for service or skipping sinful service I had agreed to do. What was my reward?

I couldn’t sleep.

At all.

I’ve had restless nights before, but this was a pretty unique experience. After about an hour in bed I realized that I was even more awake than I had been when first getting in bed. So I got up and spent the next 6 hours on me-time. I squandered the majority of it by watching 4 episodes of Battlestar Galactica, but hey, I deserved it. I didn’t really get tired until about midnight, so evidently that night of free time was my blessing for helping others. God works in mysterious ways.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Potatoism

It’s summer, which means different things to different people. To me it means watching entire TV shows on DVD. This summer I believe I may watch Hex, Battlestar Galactica and Twin Peaks. Or I could get a girlfriend, I haven’t quite decided. But I’ve started off with the Larry Sanders show.

I’ve been vaguely aware of the Larry Sanders show for some time. I can’t name a single thing that Garry Shandling has done and it’s been interesting to learn about a moderately famous person who had somehow slipped completely under my radar. But in the last week I’ve watched 4 DVDs worth of the show (which is all that has been released) and I assure you that it is hysterical.

I’m not entirely sure why the show is funny. There are certainly a great many things working against it. The picture looks horrible. It certainly doesn’t help that I have a HD TV and a near HD DVD player. The show started in 92 and they simply didn’t plan on me watching it in this manner. It’s also a problem that the show is set in 1992. A lot of the humor is very topical and I just don’t catch all the jokes that were funny to those familiar with show business 15 years ago. This also influences the guest appearances. I don’t really care about Sharon Stone. She may have been huge 15 years ago, but I know that her most recent work was the villain in the Catwoman movie, who was made of stone due to prolonged super-makeup use. Yes, incidentally I have seen the majority of the Catwoman movie. The show also aired on HBO and relies on a bit of shock value with swearing, which gets tiresome.

But as I mentioned earlier, the show is hysterical, and I’m not sure if I can convey why. The main cast of Garry Shandling, Jeffrey Tambor and Rip Torn are each amazing in their own way. They’re horrible people that you love anyway. I’m pretty confident that The Office wouldn’t exist without this show. These characters are very grounded in reality, but end up having very extreme reactions to some absurd events in their lives. I particularly loved Rip and if the complete series is ever released I may very well buy it to see more of him. The format of switching between the talk show that they run and showing their personal lives is very effective. The bits with celebrities on the talk show are funny, but not nearly as funny as the celebrities making fun of themselves in backstage footage. And although the celebrities themselves are often a bit dated (I love that David Duchoveny is a recurring guest on the show, but he certainly lacks Hollywood clout these days) the bit parts are a veritable who’s who of modern celebrity. Sarah Silverman, Dave Chappelle, Jeremy Piven, Janeane Garafalo, Scott Thompson, the list is pretty endless. Ok, so that list probably doesn’t wow you, but it’s fun that pretty much everyone that shows up on screen is recognizable.

If you can handle Rip’s dirty mouth the show is must-see TV. TV from 15 years ago, but better than the majority of today’s programming.

Working stiff

I’ve called many people crazy before, but today was my first experience with someone who is actually schizophrenic. Admittedly, I’m probably never supposed to use “crazy” in any professional area. But for all practical purposes, when people think “crazy” they are thinking of a schizophrenic individual. And today I met my first.

It was a relatively short encounter and really wasn’t as interesting as you might hope or expect. She’d been committed by her family and has been here for about a week. She seemed normal enough at first but as we interviewed her the answers she gave to our questions never seemed to quite add up. She’d go off on tangents and her stories would occasionally contract themselves. I think the biggest disconnect I noticed was that her cause and effect didn’t make any sense. She said one thing made another happen, when it was clear to everyone else that those things had no relation. It was kind of like an elaborate Wernicke’s aphasia: she was speaking gibberish but it seemed completely normal to her. Wernicke’s applies to actual gibberish words, but she had gibberish stories and responses.

Although that interview yielded little fruit, we did get blood samples from several patients to enter into our study. Although this is good for the project, it was relatively bad for me in that I spent four hours in the lab processing blood. I was quickly reminded why I gave up on biomedical research: it’s dead boring. It’s just a horrible mix of doing mindless things (labeling test tubes) difficult things (using complex equipment) frustrating things (perfectly separating two layers of solution) and of course waiting. Watch as I become a professional researcher.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Living the dream

So I’m a week into my “summer vacation.” What have I been up to?

Well most importantly, I invented a new sandwich yesterday. A friend gave me some avocadoes in exchange for watching his tomato plants while he’s away on a real vacation. After a quesadilla, a burrito and a tasty scrambled egg/avocado combo I was out of ideas and had a couple left. So I decided I’d use the avocado as a base for a sandwich, much like peanut butter. I vetoed avocado and jelly sandwiches and instead tried avocado and honey. I decided this would be a bit too bland so added a fair amount of cinnamon to the mix and my new sandwich was born. It’s fantastic. Unfortunately now all my avocadoes are gone so I’ll have to wait for him to go on vacation again.

In non-avocado news, classes are over. I had my last test a little over a week ago. It was a little anticlimactic in that it wasn’t a final or anything; just the latest in a series of tests. But the last couple months have been relatively relaxed, so it wasn’t really a pressure drop. We’ve been doing our neurology/psychiatry unit, which I’m relatively informed about. So where many of my classmates had a bunch of microbio or embryo or immuno experience in previous units, I actually have had classes on these topics before. My prior experience didn’t really translate into higher test scores, just less stress for me since I could usually reason my way through problems I didn’t have immediate knowledge about. When we return to class in August we’ll have one final blessed unit of neuron before heading back into uncharted territory.

For the summer I’m doing schizophrenia research. Well, hopefully. I was accepted into a program to do said research, and they’ve paid me for 8 weeks of work on it, but the work has yet to materialize. My PI (Principal Investigator ie boss) is taking a month off in Scotland, so I’m a bit lost as to what I should be doing. The 2nd in command just took a job at another hospital, so I’m even more confused. Because of these two events they haven’t been interviewing patients for over a month, so my hopes of just jumping into an existing project aren’t going to work out. So while I wait for approval to work with actual patients (hopefully that paperwork goes through this week) I’ve been more or less filling the time at work. I’ve organized my office a bit. I’ve made a lot of copies to get packets ready for patients. I’ve attended optional seminars for the psychiatry department (it was comforting to be able to hear a lecture aimed at practicing psychiatrists and to be lost only a small portion of the time.) The closest thing to real work that I’ve been doing is getting trained by our resident psychologists in their psychometric studies so I can do them with patients if/when my approval goes through. I guess I can count myself fortunate that the time I spend waiting for something worthwhile to do makes my vacation seem longer.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Everything is Overrated

I recently viewed Ocean’s 13 at The Movie Tavern. The best thing about the experience was the theater itself. It’s not my favorite kind of theater (the dollar variety) but at least it’s a 5 dollar ticket with a student ID. They only show a handful of movies, but they tend to be the highest grossing first run movies that I want to see anyway. The gimmick of the theater is that it is also a restaurant. Some of the seats are up against a bar, while others have a small table placed in between chairs. It’s a fun concept, even if the food is expectedly overpriced. But who would pay 3 dollars for candy when you can pay 5 for Apple Crisp? Fools that’s who. We had just been to a luau, so didn’t have any food this time.

On to the movie itself. It was fine. That’s really the best review I can give it. I don’t understand why America is so enthralled with these movies. Sure the ladyfolk can ogle messieurs Pitt, Clooney and Damon simultaneously, but really, what’s the point? You don’t make a movie just so your stars can exist up on screen. No doubt that these 3 are cool cats and fun to watch. I’m also a fan of Cheadle, Izzard, Pacino and x number of others in the movie. But the movie itself just isn’t that good. The first one wasn’t that good. The second was pretty horrible. America, these movies aren’t good, stop throwing all your money at them! I’m not saying I hated the movie. I did laugh several times. I thought some of the banter was witty. Some of the concepts were interesting. But nothing was stand-out by any means. The theft elements were ridiculous, so it was a poor heist movie. There was no action to speak of, nor any drama. And though it was amusing, it hardly succeeded as a comedy. It was just there. Blah.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Creepy

They did a pretty good job of making Scarecrow creepy last year. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that they've done some good work with the Joker.




Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Back from the dead

Sadly for the internet community, blogging is extremely low on my to-do list. I have a great many school things to attend to, followed by a relatively high number of church things. I’ve been working on improving my social life, so that takes an increasing amount of time. Leaving me with negative hours in my day. How do I fit blogging (a very low dividend activity) into that schedule? The answer is simple. Avoid studying by blogging.

But now that I’ve established a time in which to write, what should I write about? I’ve got weeks and weeks of semi-interesting stuff. I’ve eaten both chili and pepper ice cream. I’ve visited Cedar Point, home of the highest concentration of rollercoasters in the world. I purchased a surround sound system for my apartment. I’ve thrown an American Gladiators Barbeque for 150 people. First things first: Spiderman.

I did see Spiderman at the midnight showing at the IMAX. We played Scum in line for a couple hours to assure we’d have a good seat in the theater, which is fairly ridiculous at IMAX. But it was fun nonetheless. I even put together a Spiderman quiz to test my fellow line-waiters knowledge of my favorite superhero. The highest score was a 60, which made me feel like a good expert of Spidermania.

The movie itself was awesome. I admit that I’m biased and any movie involving Spiderman will be awesome, regardless of the actual quality of the film. So objectively, it wasn’t as awesome as the first two movies. The first two were more coherent and focused than this one. In this “final” movie Sam Raimi experimented more, with mixed results. I liked the extra humor, as well as the variety of characters and extra horror elements. He took many of the elements from the first two films and magnified them. Consequently, the film is very . . . full. I don’t think it holds its own as well as the first two; however, I think it was a very good conclusion. The movie not only pulled together its own plot points, but pulled together the variety of themes from the trilogy. So while it certainly could’ve been a better movie, I think it was a great cap for the trilogy.

I was pretty happy with the various characters. Gwen was good, as was Sandman. I had my doubts about his inclusion (he’s just not as epic or sinister as I’d like) but he turned out very well. They made up a fair amount about the character, but they got the spirit of him right. I was also pretty pleased with Venom. I would’ve preferred comic-book Venom, who’s a 7 foot tall behemoth complete with tongue and slobber, but I’m not convinced they could’ve made him look right. The spider doppelganger they made him was good and more story appropriate. Green Goblin’s amnesia conflict was actually very in tune with the comics and a great (if unoriginal) device to use for Harry this time around.

So I fully support the movie. It’s the last movie I saw in the theaters, and probably the only one I’ll see until Transformers in July. Optimus Prime, you’d better be good.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Going for the record

I’m trying to recover from my weekend. I think I’m almost there, but I’m considering not having another one this week. Here’s what went down:

We started the weekend on Wednesday last week. We hit up our typical Brazenhead expedition to feast on ½ price burgers. Then we had our first social gathering of the week: Lost night. It was a great episode and a good time was had by all.

Thursday we crashed the Relief Society book club. It was really a very light crashing. For one, I had actually read the book earlier in the week so they’d have no formal right to protest. And for two, we had our own table where we discussed Homicidal Psycho Jungle Cat, so we weren’t actually a part of their group anyway. We followed this up by having people over to watch The Office/NBA playoffs. We then had a group of about a dozen stand in line and watch Spiderman 3 at midnight.

Friday we had a ward activity where we hung out with the Stake Presidency at Deseret. Deseret is a privately owned neighborhood that some rich Ohio Mormon built, complete with a ritzy house for each of his kids, a pool house, indoor basketball court etc. Odd stuff, but fun. We were supposed to go to an Empinada party, but ended up gathering at Stacy’s for basketball.

Saturday we were invited to eat breakfast with a guy in our apartment complex. I got about an hour of stuff done then we had to go to a barbeque where a friend was showing off her nieces and nephews. That night I threw a Cinco de Mayo party where we all made smoothies, listened to mariachi music and eventually watched more NBA playoffs. It went until about 2, which was a little hurtful the next morning, but it was a pretty successful to-do.

Sunday I was in charge of running a potato bar immediately following stake conference. Baking 80 potatoes, transporting them to and fro and tricking the ward into singing in the choir while I set things up required some skill, but I was up to it. The lunch was my main event of the day, but I also ended up attending a birthday party, a memorial for the cadavers we dissected, a CES broadcast at the Bishops and a viewing of the SNL special. I didn’t really see my home until after midnight, and needless to say, got nothing constructive done.

Monday’s only planned event was a Ultimate Frisbee competition in the evening, but we ended up having a bunch of requests to use our enormous television. So we watched the Jazz game until about 1 in the morning, at which point my weekend finally ended.

Six days, with at least two parties per day. In some cases I had to stretch the definition of party, but still, it was an action packed weekend. I hope to not have one so full in the near future.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Burned Out

This is why I don’t date:

I’m throwing 2 parties next week (for the release of Spiderman 3 and Cinco de Mayo, both of which require celebration.) I anticipate that each will have between a dozen and three dozen participants.

I organized a group date this week to go see the Imani Winds. I was turned down 6 times before I found a date.

Admittedly, this was a tough sell. She had to like classical music. Not only that, she had to like a wind quintet playing Latin/African/Asian music. The show was great, but even I had no assurance that it would be (other than being 1/5 bassoon.)

If by some slim chance the girl that I went with reads this, I do like her and did have a great time. The fact that she was my seventh choice was not a statement on her quality, just that she’s not someone I often associate with, so wasn’t my immediate pick.

My parties are more successful, don’t involve rejection, and require about the same time and energy. Now I just have to convince myself that the Celestial Kingdom is organized around the party system.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Partymeister

So I plan two types of activities: church and personal. Although the two usually involve the same people, there is a big difference between the two.

For instance, my last church activity was Newsies Night. Now you’re probably thinking this was lame, because Newsies is lame, but it was pretty awesome. I basically turned the watching of Newsies into a Mormon Rocky Horror Picture Show. I watched Newsies 2.5 times (that part was pretty lame), coming up with different ways for the audience to interact with the movie. Everyone yells Nerd whenever they say Dave’s name, and Yee-haw when they say Cowboy. I provided wiffleballs for people to throw at the screen to try to hit different targets throughout the movie. People had newspapers to rip up and squirt guns to shoot when they yelled “Soak ‘em.” I was going to have printed copies of the lyrics waiting for everyone, but luckily the DVD has a feature where the lyrics run at the bottom of the screen like a Sing-Along. We had hotdogs, popcorn and drinks in the back to enjoy when you got tired of singing Santa Fe as loud as you could. I think that if I were in Provo this activity would’ve spread like wildfire across the stakes.

My last personal activity was Poker Night. We had 4 pairs enter the tournament (I manage to fit dating in every so often) which admittedly was 1 pair too many to play 7 Card Stud. To fit with my original concept of Appearance of Evil Night we had IBC, Tootsie-pop cigarettes and a plentiful supply of poker chips that I had found on sale. We spent the first third of the evening eating subs from our new favorite sub shop and just generally hanging out. Then I taught the group how to play draw, stud and hold-em poker. At the end of the night we gave prizes (mostly chocolate-based) to the top chip-holders (which definitely was not me.) We finished off the evening by watching Casino Royale, since it’s really a waste of any evening to not use our giant TV. We may have a second round in the next few weeks using Maverick.

I think both activities were pretty successful. But it’s interesting how there’s no way I’d exchange the personal activity for a ward one, or vice versa. The next ward activity will be an American Gladiators picnic, and the next personal one may be a Spiderman countdown. If I’m writing in my blog at all by that point, I’ll let you know how they go.