Thursday, October 30, 2008


What’s the most aggravating day possible? Combine being on hold, doing computer repair, and waiting in line for 3 hours.

My computer’s been on the fritz for 6 months, so I finally took the time to get it fixed. To be fair, I was only on hold for five minutes, then I decided to hang up. I’m a med student, I pay ridiculous sums of money to OSU, they forced me to buy this computer, they can fix it. So I brought it to the library and told them to fix it. At first they thought it would just take a few minutes. Twenty minutes later I decided it wasn’t going to take just a few minutes. So they told me to come back in a couple hours, and I did so. It still wasn’t fixed. So I came back five hours later. It was done, but the guy on staff didn’t know where it was. Eventually we found it, hopefully freezing-free. So far so good.

To be fair, I live a five minute walk from the library, so my combined wasted time for the first project is probably under an hour. My second project for the day (I’m on vacation, so force myself to have projects so I leave my room) was voting. Holy screw people, bring a book when you go to vote. I’m doing cardiology next week, so know there’s a significant chance that I’ll be at the hospital for 12-16 hours on Election Day. So I used my afternoon today to go. And wait. For 3 hours. The good news is that the first half of The Road is pretty good.

Here’s an idea: NOT having to wait for 3 hours to vote. Now I think we can all agree that it would be discriminatory to charge people to vote. But what if we had the option of paying for a shorter line? You show up at your local place of voting and look at the two lines. From there you decide, do I want to wait for 3 hours and vote for free, or do I want to pay twenty dollars and vote in 5 minutes? That’s freedom. And it would raise money. And it would get me back to my room faster.

Monday, October 27, 2008

I came, I Saw, I was not impressed

I've watched a Saw movie every night before going to sleep for the last 3 days. Admittedly this isn't how most of you prepare for bed. I also frequently drink a Dr. Pepper before going to sleep so I'm an aberration. I've been doing this for 3 reasons.
1. It's Halloweek! I've watched a horror movie a day since my exam last Friday.
2. I'm on vacation. When better to watch bad movies?
3. Shawnee Smith.

Really I should've listed Shawnee 3 times since that's the most important reason. Though I should've realized that this isn't the best way for me to get my Shawnee fix.

My conclusion: these movies aren't very good. You're shocked, I'm sure. They're not scary. Movies can be scary in different ways. They can be creepy, startling, unsettling, or horrific. That's really the order in which I like them. But I wouldn't even describe these movies as horrific. They're just bloody. And due to a combination of my callous nature, real life experience with gore and overexposure to extreme situations in movies, the blood didn't bother me. I wasn't really grossed out, and certainly wasn't scared.

The first movie was a bit of a mystery, which was fun. The second movie had some good puzzle solving, much like a video game. The third movie didn't really add anything. And 4 and 5 won't have Shawnee so aren't worth my time. The plots jump from simplistic to convoluted, every tiny thing is explained three times, the victims are all too dumb and the villain is unreasonably prepared and/or lucky.

Conclusion: Shawnee Smith is hot and Saw isn't worth your time, even if you can stomach it.

Mini Review: Jacob's Ladder. Also not very scary. But a much better movie. Some good performances and sweet imagery. A much better choice for your Halloweek.

Up tomorrow: The Thing.

Risky Business

I probably won't post any more political stuff before the election. Most likely. Expressing non-Obama thoughts and feelings has garnered some pretty harsh reactions. It’s going to be a long 4 years. But here’s an interesting article, as well as a funny video.

Orson Scott Card (a Dem btw) weighs in

Sarah does her part

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Birthday History

As I’ve remarked before, I have a very spotty memory. Conversations stick very well; it’s very rare that someone will refer to a conversation we’ve had and I won’t remember it. My grasp of chronology on the other hand is horrendous. I have a very hard time remembering when things happened and I tend to merge similar events together. After compiling all those Halloweens a couple days ago, I decided to look at my birthdays.

1982-2000 I was at home. All these birthdays have pretty well merged together.

2001 – My freshman year of college. My main birthday experience was with my one sister who was also at BYU. I had 3 friends from home who were also in Provo, and the 4 of us had a “party.” I also celebrated with my FHE group, which coincidentally had 2 other people who were also born on March 22.

2002 – A mission birthday, which are pretty unremarkable. This one was funny because our dinner appointment couldn’t make it, so they dropped off tacos at our apartment. 3 of them. Who buys 2 twenty year old boys 3 tacos to share?

2003 – I’m pretty sure I was with my Mongolian companion who hated me. I didn’t tell him it was my birthday.

2004 – My friends tried to throw me a surprise party. Unfortunately they didn’t realize which door I most frequently used and I ended up surprising them. But it’s the thought that counts. Plus I’m pretty sure I got multiple Apple Crisps.

2005 – I spent most of the day filming my Cops parody. At the end of shooting we got together and had a little social gathering. I had to leave this to go home to meet with another friend with a mutual birthday. I’m pretty sure there was an amusingly awkward gift exchange (courtesy of my roommate’s lingering.)

2006 – Not much. A friend made me a cake which we ate together. I think I had dinner with my sisters.

2007 – My newfound Ohio friends attempted a Roast. Roasts are hard to do, especially if you’re avoiding dirty jokes, and when your subject is as infallible as myself. But kudos to them for trying.

2008 – Nothing.

By looking at these 8 days, I get some view of how the last 8 years have gone. Certainly, a day is a meager 365th of a year, but with my memory I need to use these benchmarks to measure of how I’m doing. Some of these birthdays were great, others not so much. What happened? I think a lot of it goes back to the cycles I wrote about a month ago. You’d hope that every year would be better than the last, but that’s not necessarily the case. If you’re not mindful of growing your social life, it’ll crap out on you. My posse has pretty well died, so I’ve got 5 months to build a new one. Applications are available.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Halloween History

As I discussed my Halloween plans for this year with a coworker today, she asked if I was a costume person. I’d never considered myself as such, but I guess I am. I’ve already established that I’m a Halloween person, though the costumes have never been a conscious draw. But I wear my leprechaun hat at St. Patricks, dress as Dwight for Office parties, wear my Cuban shirt when I eat Hispanic food, etc. I like to get into things. So I guess I am a costume person.

I much prefer high concept costumes. 3 Hole-Punch Jim is a great example. On the Office Jim put 3 black circles on his shirt and was 3 Hole-Punch Jim. That’s really my kind of costume. Buying a costume is pretty worthless. You need to make something yourself, preferably with little to no budget.

Here’s my Halloween History.

I gave up on Trick or Treating pretty early, so don’t think I dressed up much after age 12 or so. Before that I don’t have much recollection. I know I was a vampire at least 2 times, perhaps more. Not surprising. I know I was The Shadow one year, almost certainly the year after that movie came out. I was also The Flash once, again the year after that show became popular. Beyond that, I don’t recall.

In the year 2000 I was Tie Man. I wore every one of my ties. Not my best year, but it was fun to fashion the ties into various articles of clothing.

2001 – I was on my mission. I swapped nametags with my companion for the church Halloween activity. There were a number of old people who never recovered from the confusion, so we didn’t repeat this in 2002.

2003 - I was half of Kris Cross. My roommate Curtis and I did this together. Chris and Curtis, pretty close to Chris and Chris. If I hadn’t done this already I could’ve been more authentic when I moved in with another Chris the next year.

2004 – For one party I was a cowboy. Not high concept. But I did get to wear my giant belt buckle. For another party I was an undercover cop, posing as a beat poet. That once was better.

2005 I was in China, so didn’t dress up for Halloween per se. I did participate in the Fall Spectacle, where I dressed as a farmer and Agnetha Faltskog.

2006 I was Wolverine. I thought this was clever because I dressed as a hybrid of the Wolverine character and wearing Michigan apparel. I figured there wasn’t anything scarier in Ohio than Wolverine wearing wolverine apparel.

2007 I was the one, the only, Jemaine Clement. Almost no one knew who I was, most thinking I was being Dwight again. Lack of recognition didn’t really concern me.

2008 Yet to be revealed.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Low level obsession

I started watching True Blood this morning, because I have academic suicide ideation. But how could I resist? HBO, vampires, not studying. It seemed like such a good idea.

And I enjoyed the first 2 episodes. I then had to throw my computer out the window so I could study. But really, how often do vampires let me down? The presence of a vampire in any story makes it almost irresistible to me. They’re dark, sexy and I'm a sucker for mythology. Here’s a list of the good and bad of the vampire canon.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (movie) – Luke Perry, Pee Wee Herman, AND cheerleaders
Underworld – I love you Kate Beckinsale
Underworld Evolution – not as good, but still pretty sweet
Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust – best vampire anime
Vampire Hunter D – not as good as the sequel, but pretty good
Blood: The Last Vampire
Nightwatch – those crazy Russians and their Matrix/Lord of the Rings/vampire movies
Monster Squad – for nostalgia purposes mostly
Dracula (original) – old timey, but good
The Lost Boys – sweety 80's goofiness
Interview with a Vampire – slow but worthwhile
Blade II – the best of the trilogy, and pretty worth watching
Dracula: Pages from a Virgin’s Diary
Dracula – the ballet
Nosferatu – still creepy
30 Days of Night (the graphic novel [ie pretentious comic])
The Historian
True Blood – so far so good

Not So Good
I am Legend – so much promise, with little payoff.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula – weird, with lots of weird sex.
30 Days of Night – a couple excellent moments, but a whole lot of wasteland
Blade Trinity
Masterpiece Theater’s Dracula – pretty dull. From masterpiece theater? How surprising.
Bordello of Blood – I have a love/hate relationship with Dennis Miller.
Queen of the Damned
Van Helsing – I should probably rewatch it, but I hated it in the theater
Ultraviolet – SO bad. You’ll be surprised how bad.

On my to-watch list
Buffy (the series) – never seen it surprisingly, and don’t want to until I have more free time to watch all bajillion hours of it.
From Dusk til Dawn
The Hunger – David Bowie!

Not on my list – Twilight. Sorry Mormon hack lady, you won’t get me.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


They say lots of things will kill you. Microwaves, cell phones, diet soda. Doctors debate all of these things. There’s proof, there’s not proof, there’s not enough proof, on and on and on. And I can’t speak for the first two, but you don’t need to worry about the diet soda. Do you know why? Because the doctors will start dying long before the rest of the population.

I’ve never been a lawyer, businessman or firefighter. Maybe when they have their annual firefighter convention, everyone orders a Diet Coke. But I doubt it. But every time we have a lunch meeting (and my current rotation has 4 a week) the vast majority of the physicians present are chugging down diet soda. The really good doctors, who pay attention to nutrition articles, are drinking water. But it’s pretty rare to see a soda of the nondiet variety.

So once the doctors start dying off en mass, they’ll have proof diet soda kills you. But until then, I consider it pretty medically sound to keep enjoying my DDP.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A Fair Trade

I consider myself something of a creative genius, but I’m stumped. When I got called as Sunday School President last month my bishop gave me a unique challenge. He wanted me to come up with Sunday School Activities. Events sponsored by the Sunday School, and relating to the Sunday School curriculum, that took place outside of church. Huh? I’m supposed to come up with something churchy for the ward to do on a random Thursday night? Fun I can do. Lessons I can do. Fun lessons even. But spiritually uplifting activities that have my unique flare? This I’m not sure about.

I’ll make a trade with you. I’ll provide some fun activity ideas for you and yours. In exchange you can provide me with an idea for a Sunday School activity. Scripture Chases will not be accepted as a valid answer.

1. On Friday we went to a haunted corn maze. It was pretty sweet. Lame, but simultaneously awesome. They had the most ridiculous booths set up. Rabbit petting, a goat obstacle course, stacks of mattresses to jump on, and best of all, a giant pile of sand. Just a pile of sand. Go find your nearest equivalent and have yourself a ridiculous evening.
2. Last week we had Tacos and Dominos night. I bought a fairly sizable quantity of Mexicany ingredients and we spent a couple hours cooking/eating and then played Dominos. Dominos is a pretty good mix of luck and simple strategy that makes for a good party game.
3. The week before we went Mormon Barhopping. I decided that it would be fun to visit various ice cream parlors in Columbus and sample their wares. The route I planned included five of my favorite ice cream shops, but we crashed after four. Even though we shared dishes at each location, there’s still only so much ice cream that can be eaten in a night.

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

For better or worse (almost certainly worse) my mind works in a negative direction. When my eager Greenie companion asked me my favorite hymn, my immediate response was “I hate In Our Lovely Deseret.” And I do, it’s stupid. It’s hard for me to pick favorites, but easy for me to pick my least favorite. I was given a list of 10 options for my next rotation, and the only way I could pick what I want to do is to pick which 9 I didn’t want to do.

But Fall is my favorite season. And contrary to my normal M.O., I don’t have anything against Summer, Winter or Spring. I’ve got pretty good cold and heat tolerance and no allergies. There’s just something pleasant about Fall. Stepping out the door to 60 degrees and sunshine makes me happy in a way Summer just can’t understand. Perhaps it’s a laziness thing: the best season is the room temperature one. The leaves don’t do anything for me, so I don’t think aesthetics play a role. But I guess I like them better than the alternatives. Snow reminds me of shoveling, and Spring has an unpleasant moist connotation.

Fall may win (and although Autumn sounds more sophisticated, it’s not how I think of it) simply because of Halloween. I like candy, I like ghosts and I like misdemeanors. Can any other holiday compete? Plus Jim brings up a very good point for Halloween:

Jim talks about Holidays

In honor of Halloween being pretty much the best holiday ever, I’ve listed some of my favorite October movies. Do yourself a favor and pick a couple up for this holiday season.

For the kiddies (not R)
Tremors – good at any time of the year really.
Beetlejuice – my favorite movie for many years
Labyrinth – All hail David Bowie.
Ghostbusters – All hail Bill Murray.
Addams Family Values – better than the first one
Willy Wonka – Gene Wilder is freaky.
The Ring – pretty good the first time.
The Worst Witch – you’ll want to see it after this: Tim Curry singing his heart out
R (it’s hard to find scary PG movies)
The Orphanage – if I have a Halloween movie night this year, we’ll probably watch this.
28 Days Later – Believe it or not, there are great zombie movies.
Descent – pretty sweet.
Alien – Psychologically designed to be creepy.
Shaun of the Dead – Funny and scary. Twofer!
Silent Hill – creepier than you’d think.
Slither – similar to Tremors, though admittedly not as good.
Blair Witch – great once, and just once.

You could watch Gremlins, Edward Scissorhands or Nightmare Before Christmas, but I watch those around Christmas instead, to spread the morbidity.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Fringe Finally Flies

The biggest problem with med school is that it wreaks havoc upon my tv watching. I’ve got weeks of Pushing Daisies and Terminator and How I Met Your Mother just sitting there, languishing in misuse. So I was pretty behind on my Fringe.

Fringe seemed perfectly designed for me. Take plot of the X-Files and combine it with the remarkable track record and vision of JJ Abrams. Throw in some actors from shows I like (The Wire, not so much The Mighty Ducks) and you’ve got some promise. Turns out, the first episode wasn’t so great.

Problems with the pilot:
1. The girl wasn’t hot enough. Shallow I know. But when you’re standing in line next to Jennifer Garner and Evangeline Lilly, almost anyone is going to have trouble.
2. The guy wasn’t funny enough. Is this equally as shallow? That’s a debate for another time. Suffice it to say the character was designed to be a wiseacre and instead was just a pest.
3. It cost too much. I have no idea how much it cost and don’t care to research it. All I know is it looked like they were trying to spend a ton of money to make things look cool, which is grating, and I’m pretty sure they can’t continue to spend that much money on every episode.
4. The mythology wasn’t immediately interesting. Lost was immediately a delicious mystery. Alias was immediately an action thriller. This didn’t stand out.
5. The world’s rules weren’t defined. Science fiction is tricky. You need to quickly establish what can and can’t be done in your world. True, the show is about weird stuff happening. But one particular scene (a woman pulls the skin off her arm to reveal a robotic hand) clashed too much with the vision of a pretty realistic 2008.

But it was good enough to watch episode 2. Episode 2 got better. We didn’t waste a bunch of time meeting everyone. Lead guy got much less annoying. There was only one problem: it was a pretty close copy of an X-Files episode (Tooms/Squeeze.) This is the problem Sliders had: every episode was a dumbed down version of a classic sci-fi movie. Heroes very nearly falls into this trap by so closely mimicking X-Men stories. I enjoyed the episode, but I’m not going to spend my precious free time watching a show that’s copying another show which has already earned my lifelong devotion. I’ll just go watch my X-Files dvds.

Episode 2 was good enough to get me to episode 3, which in turn got me to 4. Each was good enough to warrant another hour, but not much more. Until episode 4, last week’s episode. And really, this episode wasn’t monumental, but it started to get some very important things right. Not-Jennifer-Garner has become a smidge more interesting with each episode, and is now pretty watchable. Whiney lead guy looks to have stopped his whining. Cranky Old Genius looks like he’ll be more of a character and less of a caricature (thus far he’s by far the most interesting character.) And most importantly, the mystery is opening up. This episode introduced tasteless bald guy and mind-reading, sonic-pistol-wielding guy, who were both pretty awesome. The MacGuffins have become interesting and I am actually starting to formulate theories about what’s going on. If I can't be theorizing as I watch, a show like this isn't going to be worth watching.

It took you 4 episodes JJ, but you just earned me to the end of the season.

Monday, October 06, 2008

On the Bad List

50 Cent

I discovered last week that my movie, The Legend, had been removed from Youtube. Not the whole thing, just the first third. Why! I cried to the heavens. First I cursed the name of David Hasselhoff. Surely his lawyers somehow found the clip of him I used in the video. But after searching through the Youtube records I discovered that 50 Cent demanded my video be removed due to his song playing in the background of the credits. Real gangster 50 Cent. Whine about me using your song behind my back. I didn’t even get a complaint, they just took the video away on the sly. It’s a bit strong to say that I hope you get shot by a rival rapper 50 Cent, but I certainly hope you get tased or something. My apologies to David Hasselhoff. You are still awesome.


I registered to vote today, the last possible day in Ohio. That’s my style. In my defense I’m pretty sure I’m registered (I voted 2 years ago) but I thought I’d go through the paperwork again just in case. The med school, knowing that we’re cripplingly busy provided the forms in the back of our classrooms. Only one problem, they’re not so much registration forms, but more registration for Obama forms. The top half was appropriately neutral, but then the bottom consisted of a liberal checklist. Did I want to register as a Democrat? Would I be voting for Obama? Would I like to participate in the Obama campaign? I didn’t check any boxes.

I was sitting at a stoplight the other day and noticed a couple walking down the street. Hurray for cardiovascular exercise! I then saw the man walk up onto a lawn, pull the McCain sign out of the ground and throw it in the next house’s trash. As I drove away the couple continued walking down the street. Really guy? You need to destroy someone’s sign? The 20 Obama signs on the street were offended by the 1 McCain one? There’s a slight chance that this was his own home and something on his walk had convinced him to become a Democrat. But seeing as he kept walking away, chances are much higher that he’s a douche. I really wanted to follow them home so I could spray paint GOP graffiti all over their house. Not because I love tagging or want to destroy their property; just so they’d think the Republicans have satellites watching their actions at all times.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Things from Skins

Warning, the following contains mixed metaphors. I started to proofread it, but decided I’m just going to post it as a jumbled mess. This is how it came out of my head.

I’m a pretty linear thinker. A leads to B leads to C. I like organic pathways, but the feedback loops always mess me up. I like to think discreet actions result in discreet consequences and that these progress in a relatively logical fashion. Part of this is science based, and part religious. I think Mormons are linear thinkers. Eternal progression, lists of principles, sequences of ordinances, steps in hierarchy. It’s a relatively logical and flowing religious ideology.

I don’t think life travels in a straight line. It probably does for some people, supermodels for instance, but not for most of us.

I think it’s a pretty common concept that you need the bad to appreciate the good. If your life was all great all the time, you wouldn’t actually appreciate it. Without the contrast, that life would be pretty meaningless. If your life was all bad all the time, you’d probably shoot yourself. Again, pretty meaningless. So to be maximally beneficial, life must be a mix of good and bad. This is what is most educational for us, and what results in the highest end level of happiness (despite the all great all the time plan’s lack of trouble, it only results in a mediocre level of contentment.)

Another common concept, among Mormons at least, is the pride cycle. You rely on God and you get blessings. Blessings make life good, you get proud and you forget God. Without God your life becomes bad and you’re humbled, turning again to God. The goal is to stop the cycle by not becoming proud. In a worst case scenario people stop the cycle by never becoming humble. Call it the pride cycle, call it hubris, in any case pride cometh before the fall.

I think life’s not that linear, but contains a lot of these cycles. Sometimes the cycles are our fault. We get proud, we make mistakes, we travel backward instead of forward. Sometimes the cycles aren’t our fault. Accidents happen, challenges arise, things change. And although I think we should TRY to live linearly, continually building and progressing, I think the cycles may be what helps us the most.

Back to Skins, my subject of the week. The kids of Skins are a fun loving, hard partying bunch. As you’d expect, get a bunch of angsty, dramatic kids, throw in a variety of drugs and alcohol and bad things happen. Sometimes catastrophically bad things. Sometimes the misery and woe they live through are clearly a consequence of their unwise actions. But sometimes it’s just bad luck. But a theme of the show is living through the pain. Picking yourself up when things go horribly wrong and starting over. Here’s a neat montage with the fitting music “It’s gotta get bad before it gets good”:

Contains some minor spoilers, a fair amount of dancing and one F-bomb (stop at 2:15 to avoid)

So bad things happen, whether due to our faults or happenstance. Instead of continually climbing up that stairway of life we tumble down, perhaps to the bottom, often bruising ourselves along with way. Now what? You’re back where you started. Everything’s been taken away from you. What do you decide to do?

The easy answer is to give up and stay where you are. It’s easy to get bitter and just sit there on the stairs. You tried already, so why try again? All you got was bruises. So you just sit there instead of climbing up the stairs again. Or worse you say Screw This and intentionally go down the stairs, slumming your way through life, intentionally living below what you know you’re capable.

Climbing those stairs a second time is hard, but it teaches us a lot. Repeating the climb can be either harder or easier than the first time, and I think both are valuable. It can be harder if you’ve become discouraged or bitter or fragile. But overcoming these new internal challenges can teach you even more than when you first climbed the stairs. Once you’ve faced these internal challenges the climb becomes easier. You’ve done this before, so you have experience to help you on your assent.

Over the course of the show the kids of Skins almost all tumble down the stairs. They’re proud, unlucky or both and wind up falling. Often they end up losing everything they cared about, and are forced to reevaluate most everything about their life. But by helping each other, they decide to start rebuilding, step by step. I’m not saying this was a groundbreaking show or a philosophical masterpiece, but it made me look at challenges differently.

Although I’ve traditionally thought of these cycles concerning spiritual progression, I saw in Skins that it could apply to other areas as well. We can be at a certain emotional level, only to plummet to an earlier emotional period, and have to build our maturity back up. We can operate at a certain intellectual level, only to collapse to a lower level due to emotional or motivational problems. One that I hadn’t considered before was social progression. I’ve never thought much about social progression, but it’s something we all do. We built the quantity and quality of our friends and acquaintances. And through our actions and happenstance, what we’ve built can collapse. When this happens, we have to start all over, rebuilding our network step by step. I’d never thought about this, and have certainly missed opportunities to do this, instead just sitting on the stairs, socially stagnant. This post has gone on far too long so I’ll delve into this more later.

Some more spoilers, swearing and things that won't make sense out of context