Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Teaching confuses me. I’ve been a Sunday School teacher since Marchish, so reckon I’ve taught the class six or seven times. But I’m not at all convinced I’m getting any better.

Some things are certainly improving. I started my first lesson with 5 pages of notes. I have yet to get much beyond 2, so have cut back to 2. This has yet to backfire on me, though if it does the worst case scenario is finishing class early, and who would complain about that. So I’m preparing less, if that could be considered progress.

But are my lessons better? I have a problem in that I don’t like to follow what the manual tells me to do. I nearly always find the exercises it suggests annoying, so don’t do them. Why put the class through something I wouldn’t want to do? The manual also suggests reading long sections of scripture, which I find exceedingly tedious. You know that half the class can’t hear the person reading, that nearly half of them zone out immediately, and that the person reading isn’t even paying attention to content, just pronunciation. So that’s not a worthwhile activity for any extended period. And I do my best to not reteach primary. If we’re going to go through the stages of repentance, we’re going through them in under 30 seconds. So following the manual is pretty well out of the picture.

Lest it sound that I’m disregarding the lesson itself, I don’t think I am. If the lesson is about the afterlife, as it was this week, I want to talk about it in a way that’s new to the class. My mind is twisted enough that I should have a new way to look at resurrection for ten minutes. And maybe they’ll never use my analogies but at least I’ve not hammering the same old thing into their heads. And maybe they’ll disagree with my personal take on the subject, but that can bring some debate.

My problem is that my lessons, with no template on which to build them, seem vastly different each time. And I can’t tell which type are the best. I like to bring in nonreligious quotes and stories, but these seem very hit or miss. Personal stories usually keep attention well, but more often then not I don’t have anything particularly relevant. Some weeks I feel like I use too many scriptures, other weeks too few. Games and exercises are great when the work, but they almost always seem contrived.

This week seemed good, but I’m not sure why. Two times ago there was a deafening amount of silence, and I haven’t the slightest idea what I did differently. Candy helps. That’s really all I’ve figured out.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Cat . . . ladies

I was asked today why there are crazy cat ladies, but not crazy dog ladies. Here are some thoughts:

-The strongest connection between animal hoarding and mental illness is OCD. Hoarding in general is common with OCD and animal hoarding can both serve as an obsession and a compulsion.
-They frequently are delusional, so don’t realize they are incapable of caring for all their pets. This really throws out any logical reasons as to why they’d collect cats (they are easier to keep indoors, are quieter so easier to keep hidden, somewhat easier to provide with food.)
-They often have attachment disorder (overly fond of their pets) and paranoid/antisocial disorder (dislike of people) which may be more conducive to keeping cats than keeping dogs.
-Men more often collect dogs, women collect cats. I would guess there is no dog-man stereotype because dog collecting men would more often be homeless or in jail (two large repositories of mentally ill men.)
-Animal hoarding may be connected to a mothering instinct. So there would be more cat ladies than dog men.
- If they’re schizophrenic they could be having auditory hallucinations and cat’s are quieter.
- If they’re paranoid cats are generally less threatening. There is no cat equivalent to Kujo. And we all know that cats are horrible team players so they can’t gang up on you.

This article was way interesting:
They become cat ladies because a parasite makes them like cats. Awesome. Probably not true, but awesome.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Chris Emmys

In a perfect world, these are who should win the Emmys. Emmies? I don’t know how to pluralize that. And in a perfect world lots of these shows wouldn’t have been nominated. Sorry for the all-caps, I’m copasting it. I just made up that word, but it’s not that much shorter than copy/pasting, so it probably won’t stick. But anyway, here we go.


Winner: Two and a Half Men. Kidding. That show is horrible and the committee must be a little bit brain dead. And as much as I love 30 Rock (and I do) I’d also prefer if the previous year’s winner wasn’t a contender. But I’ll still pick 30 Rock. Flight of the Conchords or It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia would be better choices.


Winner: this one’s really hard. The first season of Dexter was fantastic, the second was only good. This season of House was also not as strong as previous efforts. So while I love those two shows, Lost wins. Lost was excellent this year. I would’ve liked to see Battlestar Galactica or The Wire on this list.


I really dislike reality tv. Pretty much all of it. But I do find Project Runway interesting. It’s pretty inexplicable. Perhaps Heidi’s mere presence is enough to get me to watch.

Alec Baldwin - 30 ROCK
Tony Shalhoub - MONK
Steve Carell - THE OFFICE
Charlie Sheen - TWO AND A HALF MEN

Winner: Alec Baldwin. Steve Carell does an amazing job, but Alec is just a bit better. Steve gets the laughs because of the situations he’s placed in and his excellently buffoonish dialogue. Alec makes me laugh just saying normal things in moderately normal situations. Jemaine might’ve taken my vote away from Alec, but I’m not sure if even he can stand up.

Tina Fey - 30 ROCK
Christina Applegate - SAMANTHA WHO?
America Ferrera - UGLY BETTY
Mary-Louise Parker – WEEDS

Winner: Tina Fey. Honestly, Tina Fey, though on My Island, probably isn’t the best actress on this list. But I don’t watch any of the other shows, so she wins by default. Sweet Dee from Always Sunny does a great job.

James Spader - BOSTON LEGAL
Bryan Cranston - BREAKING BAD
Michael C. Hall - DEXTER
Hugh Laurie - HOUSE
Gabriel Byrne - IN TREATMENT
John Hamm - MAD MEN

Winner: Another tough one. I hear that Breaking Bad and Mad Men are excellent, but I haven’t gotten around to seeing them. So it’s the near godlike Hugh Laurie versus the newcomer Michael C. Hall. I like Hugh more, but I’d rather have Michael win so his show gets some more props. House doesn’t need more of a following.

Glenn Close - DAMAGES
Mariska Hargitay - LAW & ORDER SVU
Holly Hunter - SAVING GRACE
Kyra Sedgwick - THE CLOSER

Winner: Mariska Hargitay. She rocks my friends. If I had more time and wanted to hear more about rape cases I’d watch SVU a lot more.

Jeremy Piven - ENTOURAGE
Kevin Dillon - ENTOURAGE
Neil Patrick Harris - HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER
Rainn Wilson - THE OFFICE

Winner: Neil Patrick Harris all day long. He does a fantastic job. I like Jeremy Piven and Rainn Wilson as well, but they just can’t touch Barney.

Kristin Chenoweth - PUSHING DAISIES
Jean Smart - SAMANTHA WHO?
Holland Taylor - TWO AND A HALF MEN
Vanessa Williams - UGLY BETTY

Winner: Kristen Chenoweth. My sweet Olive. I like Amy Poehler a lot, but more with her improve work (Check out Upright Citizens Brigade.)

William Shatner - BOSTON LEGAL
Ted Danson - DAMAGES
Zeljko Ivanek - DAMAGES
Michael Emerson - LOST
John Slattery - MAD MEN

Winner: Michael Emerson. Ben Linus rocks in most every way possible. I’d watch a show of just him stuck on an island. I’d love to see most any of the actors from Battlestar on this list, but especially James Callis (Baltar.)

Candice Bergen - BOSTON LEGAL
Rachel Griffiths - BROTHERS & SISTERS
Chandra Wilson - GREY’S ANATOMY
Dianne Wiest - IN TREATMENT

Winner: no vote. I haven’t seen much of any of these shows. But I am moderately embarrassed to admit that I’ve seen 2 episodes of Brothers and Sisters and enjoyed them both. Whichever character Rachel Griffiths plays, I’m sure she does a good job.

30 ROCK - Jack Burditt (”Rosemary’s Baby”)
30 ROCK - Tina Fey (”Cooter”)
FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS - James Bobin, Jemaine Clement, Bret McKenzie (”Yoko”)
PUSHING DAISIES - Bryan Fuller (”Pie-lette”)
THE OFFICE - Lee Eisenberg, Gene Stupnitsky (”Dinner Party”)

Hard. I’ll give it to the Conchords just because they’re awesome. But Daisies has strong writing, and those are good episodes of 30 Rock and Office. Especially Cooter, which was amazing.

BATTLESTAR GALACTICA - Michael Angeli (”Six of One”)
DAMAGES - Todd Kessler, Glenn Kesller, Daniel Zelman (”Pilot”)
MAD MEN - Matthew Weiner (”Pilot”)
MAD MEN - Matthew Weiner, Robin Veith (”The Wheel”)
THE WIRE - David Simon, Ed Burns (”30″)

Winner: Battlestar. A very very close second to The Wire. I didn’t love this last season of The Wire (nor was this season of Battlestar as excellent as normal) but on an episode v episode fight, BG wins this one.

30 ROCK - Michael Engler
ENTOURAGE - Dan Attias
PUSHING DAISIES - Barry Sonnenfeld
THE OFFICE - Paul Lieberstein
THE OFFICE - Paul Feig

Winner: Pushing Daisies. All fantastic shows, but I think Daisies has the best directing.
BOSTON LEGAL - Arlene Sanford
BREAKING BAD - Vince Gilligan
DAMAGES - Allen Coulter
HOUSE - Greg Yaitanes
MAD MEN - Alan Taylor

Winner: House by default. I actually think House’s directing could use some work, but the quality of the show is excellent overall.

Other categories –

Best guest actor – Will Arnett does an amazing job on 30 Rock.
Best guest actress - Sarah Silverman on Monk. I didn’t see it, but I’m guess it was great.
Reality series – I hate most of these shows, but Dirty Jobs is alright.
Variety show – Conchords gets shut out here too. Jerks. I’ll go with the Daily Show. I like Colbert as well, but I think the Daily Show is more reliable.
Miniseries – John Adams was very good.
Actor in Miniseries – I loved Tom Wilkinson in Recount. Kevin Spacey probably deserves it more (he was a more bigger character, and did it well) but I like Tom more, and he drank Dr. Pepper throughout the show.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Superheroes and Such

Dark Knight

I went into this movie with mixed feelings. It had received such great reviews I didn’t feel it could possibly live up to them. But I did plop down my extra dollar to see it in IMAX and I wasn’t disappointed, even with the high hopes.

The good: It is quite a bit deeper than a straight-forward superhero tale. I think I may actually go see it again to try to pick up all the pieces. Not that it’s super subtle: if Alfred or Gordon are speaking it’s probably about the thematic elements. But I want to see the action again too, so I’ll have a lot to look for a second time around. Ledger does steal every scene he’s in, which is a lot of them. He probably has nearly the same screen time as Bale. And Eckhart does a great job as Harvey Dent. For even a casual fan of the comics his story is telegraphed loud and clear, but they did a good job making it all seem very natural. That sentence will make more sense once you watch the movie. It’s been a while since I’ve seen the first one, but this one seemed funnier. I actually couldn’t hear some lines because the audience was laughing too loudly.

The bad: Action scenes were pretty choppy. It’s Nolan’s style, but I think it obscures some of the impact of the scenes. Although I was never bored and was happy to get a full 2.5 hours of plot, I’m pretty sure it could’ve been trimmed down a bit without losing any real content. I foresaw every plot twist but one; but I do watch a lot of movies. And they kept the horrible Batman voice! I was sure after all the complaints from the first movie Bale would stop that raspy Bat voice. I understand why he does it, but it’s annoying and obscures the dialogue. But no, it’s like they gave the finger to reviewers and did the voice even more.

All in all, a very good film. I’m not really sure where they’re going to go with the third film. I’m assuming there will be a third, since trilogies are where it’s at, for whatever cinematic reason. They used up Batman’s most powerful foe Ra’s al Ghul in the first film, the arch-nemesis Joker in the second, as well as the most personal villain Two-Face. Batman has a long list of villains that could be used, but I’d hope the third film is even more epic than this one, and it would be hard to do that with Poison Ivy or Killer Croc. They did introduce Batman’s paranoia in this film so I wouldn’t be surprised to see Brother Eye make an appearance next time around. Nolan’s done an excellent job so far, so I’ll trust him to figure something out.

Hellboy 2

Sadly, not as good as I hoped it would be. Not bad certainly, just not great. They created a fantastic world for the characters to play in, but it just wasn’t terribly compelling. Though Hellboy had better visuals, more laughs, and about equal action, it just lacked the depth of Batman. And the dialogue was just bad at times. It’s nice that they didn’t take themselves too seriously, but perhaps a bit more work would’ve helped. But the film did seem like a segue from the apocalyptic conflict of the first film and the impending apocalyptic conflict of a third film. It’s certainly worth a watch, especially if Batman is sold out when you show up.

Get Smart

Surprisingly good. We saw it on a whim, and I for one was greatly pleased. It wasn’t as funny as an Apatow gut-buster, but it was pretty darn funny. It might be a step away from family friendly (there’s definitely an anal sex simulation in there) but it’s getting closer than my normal choice. I’ve seen just enough of the original series to recognize catchphrases and references, which was an added bonus. Carell does a great job stepping away from the massive shadow of Michael Scott, and it was the first time that I’ve liked Hathaway. I certainly wouldn’t mind if this turned into a smart and fun little franchise.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Charmed Life

It must be pretty sweet to be Joss Whedon. I expect he’s put a lot of work into his career to get to this point, but it seems like he gets to do whatever he wants. TV (Buffy, Firefly), movies (Serenity, he co-wrote Toy Story, Speed, Titan AE), comics (he writes an X-Men comic, as well as a Buffy comic) and now he’s taken to the internet. His latest is an odd combo of comedy, comics and musicals. After Sunday you’ll have to pay to watch it, so get over there:

I don’t think it’s the most amazing thing ever, but it is pretty fun. And it has Neil Patrick Harris and Nathan Fillion, so how bad can it be?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Shoe Issues

The burning question of the ages: what to wear with scrubs? Crocs are ugly and stupid, in case you were thinking of suggesting them. The newest trend for medical professionals (and chefs oddly enough, according to their website) is the Dansko.

Hmmm, still pretty ugly. They may be covered in leather, but they’re still clogs. And clogs just don’t jive with the scalpel-jock look which is really your only reasonable option when wearing scrubs. Don’t get me wrong, I love not having to think about what I’m wearing each day, but you just have to acknowledge that it’s weird that I wear monochrome pajamas to work every day. They don’t look good on anyone. But that’s another issue. Back to the shoes.

So the trendiest option is the girly shoes. Sure, I could use the 1 inch heel they’ve got on them, but they still seem like a bad option. The second most common choice I heard recommended was Eckos. The urban wear? That seems to be on the opposite side of the spectrum from Danskos. They’re probably too manly for me. Turns out people meant Eccos, which are a much more reasonable option.

So I went to DSW, my favorite shoe store. DSW is the only place I’ve shopped for footwear since 2001. Because as many of you know, I’m cheap. As I shopped I measured how cheap I was. I get apprehensive spending more than 20 dollars. I’ll drop less than 20 with little worry. But once I tip over 20, I start to get apprehensive. Perhaps this is because I received 20 dollars a year from my grandparents as a child and have ingrained in my subconscious that 20 dollars is a year’s worth of money. But that’s probably not it. In any case, spending more than 20 dollars for anything makes me unhappy, so I shop at DSW. I rarely escape spending less than 20, but at least the 30 or 40 I spend is much less than the 140 dollars Danskos will set you back.

I hate shoe shopping. As previously stated, I hate spending more than 20 dollars. Another major factor is that I don’t care about shoes. I am completely passionless when it comes to footwear. I find it immensely difficult to shop for things for which I have no strong feelings. I have yet to find a pair of shoes that I love. I label shoes as ugly quickly enough, but I rarely hate them. I just don’t care about them. The desire not to spend a lot of money and my lack of conviction for any foot fashion nearly paralyzes me.

Turns out they only had a couple pairs of Eccos, and they were a scant 30% off. I demand 50 to 70% off. Low and behold a beautiful pair of black sneakers are 70% off. They certainly aren’t going to work for when I have to wear my suit and tie, but they’ll work fine in surgery. Presto purchaso, the job is done.

Turns out they’re Sketchers. Which means I now own 3 pairs of Sketchers, easily displacing New Balance (1 pair) as my preferred shoe. I found it weird that so many had sneaked into my collection, and also that I had a collection. I’m pretty sure I remember a time when, as a semi-adult, I owned only 3 pairs of shoes. Now I have 12. I think I was happier then.

I realize this has been more meandering and pointless than usual. I’m out of practice.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

BRT is a universal principle

I was entering a Taco Bell on High Street.

Homeless guy: Hey, you a Buckeye?

Me: No

Homeless guy: You like Obama?

Me: No

Homeless guy: . . . . Can I have dollar?

At least he tried. Sadly, I wasn’t able to afford the gordita I wanted after giving him that dollar. But the new Strawberry Slush is delicious.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Niacin Adventures

A couple weeks ago the med school had each student stab another in the arm. There really isn’t an effective way to teach phlebotomy other than having us practice on each other. So as part of our training, each of us took a blood sample from another member of the class. Thankfully both the story of my bloodtaking and bloodgiving are unremarkable.

A week later we received results from our blood tests. I’m not sure if it was a wise financial decision to run 200 unnecessary blood tests, but it did give us a chance to analyze some lab results, again as part of our training. Turns out they decided to do a lipid screen, probably because it is simpler and cheaper than other tests. Or perhaps they have a genuine concern for our cardiovascular health.

Turns out that despite a month of eating rather poorly and getting little exercise (due to studying for boards) I have remarkably low cholesterol. This was much to the chagrin of my roommates, who both eat more healthier than I do. One’s cholesterol was quite a bit higher than mine, the other just barely under. Take that healthy diets. However, in addition to my low cholesterol, low triglycerides and low LDL (bad cholesterol) I also had low HDL (good cholesterol.) Sacrebleu! A HDL under 40 is an indicator of potential heart disease, and mine is 36. Not horrible to be sure, but still in the danger range. It would be much better if it were in the 50s or 60s.

What to do? My research indicates that increasing exercise and eating a healthier diet can help, but it will probably only get it to 42 or so. I kind of made up that number, but it is what the research said and I like downplaying the importance of diet and exercise. So instead I started taking Niacin. To get crazy-high doses of niacin you need a prescription, but you can get 500 mg tablets over the counter. In case you were wondering, a multivitamin contains 20 mg of niacin. So 500 isn’t exactly a minor amount. You’re supposed to consult your doctor before taking it, so I consulted myself and started treatment.

The first two days went fine. Then on the third day I was sitting at my computer, minding my own business. Suddenly I was burning up. I was sitting directly in front of the AC, but felt like I’d been sitting in the sun for an hour. My hands looked pretty red so I went into the bathroom and saw that my face was indeed quite red. I took a cold shower and about twenty minutes later I felt normal again.

Now do any research on Niacin and you’ll see that the first side effect listed is always flushing. I had seen this, but largely discounted it. I had yet to experience a side effect from any drug I’ve taken (though admittedly, I have probably taken fewer than average) so obviously was immune to drug complications. It probably has to do with how caffeine doesn’t work on me. I had watched for flushing the first time I took it, but hadn’t noticed anything. I later realized why. The first two times I took niacin I had taken them with dinner and was asleep not too long afterward. On this third day I had taken it with lunch. Evidently it takes me exactly 6 hours to metabolize the drug.

So now I take the niacin right before I go to bed. I also take a small aspirin with it to cut back on the flushing. I’ll try to remember to get another blood test in 6 months or so to see if I’ve safely removed myself from the cardiac danger zone. I guess I can do the whole diet and exercise thing, but maybe I’ll wait to see if the niacin will solve all my problems.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Movies: past, present and future

Here are some movie reviews in roughly chronological order.

Victor/Victoria – I was channel surfing for the first time in years (I watch plenty of tv mind you, just all tivo’d) last week and came across this one that I’d always meant to see. But it’s not exactly a party movie, so I never had occasion to see it. It was amusing, well made but a bit heavy handed. In the end, despite a long running time, nothing much happens. I guess that’s what happens when you have a lot of musical numbers that don’t actually advance the plot.

Breach – A bit of a jump there, 1982 to 2007. I didn’t think this one was very interesting. Admittedly, I was sending emails during the whole thing. I don’t know if it’s a cause or effect situation, but a movie where you send emails throughout is destined not to be interesting.

Be Kind Rewind – I thought this one was very good. Jack Black plays someone slightly different from himself. Mos Def is kind of retreading his 16 Blocks character, but a bit more innocent. The movie didn’t have a ton of gut-busting moments, though it did have a couple, but was very funny as a whole unit. There were pacing issues and massive gaps in reason, but you just have to go along with it. There’s no way the characters could be as dumb as they are AND as ingenious as they act, but it’s really just a feel good story, not a depiction of reality.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall – The day after my exam I treated myself to this and the Hulk as a double feature. I liked the Hulk, but I think I liked this one more. It may be my favorite Apatow film. It’s not as funny as Knocked Up, but I like the story much more. I found it much more relatable and dare I say insightful than his other films, nearly all of which I have enjoyed. It certainly helped that they just piled it full of actors that I like (Jason Segel from HIMYM, Veronica Mars herself, Mila Kunis, Jack McBrayer, Paul Rudd, Jonah Hill etc) I wish I recommend it to everyone, but as an Apatow film, you know what you’re going to get. A fake orgasm sound competition? Yeah, no one’s getting this one for Christmas.

Hulk – Sweet. As one of the few people in the country that liked the first film, I can definitely say that I liked this one more. Most everything I have to say has been said. Yes, it matched up well with the 70s series, which is a good thing. Yes, the acting wasn’t anything amazing, but I didn’t need it to be. I’m not at all sure that Liv Tyler can act, but I definitely want her to keep getting leading roles. The CG isn’t perfect, but you know what, it’s a SUPERHERO MOVIE. It’s a comic book brought to life, which in it’s purist sense is a cartoon. The giant beasts beating the crud out of each other can look like cartoons and that doesn’t bother me in the slightest. I’m not sure how Hulk 2 is going to turn out with The Leader, a guy who’s super power is being smart. The Brains versus Brawn idea works fine on paper, but I want action in my Hulk movies. We’ll see.

Wanted – Pretty good. As I told my friend before entering the movie I wasn’t expecting it to be good, I wasn’t expecting it to bad, I was expecting it to be mindless. I was hoping it would be Shoot ‘Em Up ridiculous, but it turned out to only be Matrix ridiculous. But the fighting was pretty continuous, so I can’t complain much. And when there wasn’t fighting, there was scantily clad Angelina Jolie, which goes a long long way towards making a movie worth watching. It would’ve preferred a bit more Fight Club edge (they started in that direction a number of times and always pulled off before going all the way) but all in all it was certainly a fun 2 hours and well worth 4 dollars.

What’s coming up?

I’ve read a number of truly horrendous reviews of Hancock. I think this movie had some potential, but I haven’t liked the trailers at all, so I’m not very surprised. And even though I’ve heard it’s pretty bad, I’m sure it will make tons of money. Maybe even a little bit of mine if I get bored.

The advanced reviews of Dark Knight are sky high. As the counterculturist that I am, all this hype is making me less excited for it. Evidently this movie is going to be so good my head will explode, which I try to avoid usually. But to be honest, I’ll still see it the first weekend (schedule permitting) and perhaps even pony up the extra to see it in the IMAX.

What am I really excited to see? Hellboy comes out the next weekend. I realize that Hellboy is no Batman, but this preview gets me so pumped:
Batman has one outlandish fiend, this has dozens. I have no doubt that Batman will be the better film, but I think this one will be more interesting. And good versus interesting is a tough call in my book.

I’m still mad about Scully’s hair. I really hope they have a director’s cut where she looks like her cute short-haired self.