Friday, January 28, 2011

Giant robots in the dark

It has been pointed out to me that I smile when I watch movies. Not any movie, not White Chicks. But in movies I like, I smile. I was smiling Wednesday night when I watched Evangelion: You Can (Not) Advance.

For some, saying that I was going to see an anime would be enough for them to lose interest. For others, if I were to describe the basic plot, "giant robots versus aliens" that would be enough for them to know that they don't want to see it. Both of these groups missed out, because the movie was fantastic. Yes, robots versus aliens is the most basic of descriptions of what happened. But the movie is about abandonment, and about deciding to be happy. It's about emotionally damaged, even mentally ill, people striving to find a place in the world. It's about the change from childhood to adulthood. It's about our faith in religious symbols. It also has giant robots fighting aliens. And those fights are awesome to behold.

I could talk about this movie all day long, but the fact is that you, Average Joe, don't want me to. That is in fact the very dilemma I faced when I discovered it was playing at the theater. Who would want to see this with me? After a couple failed attempts, the answer became clear, nobody. And to some extent, seeing the movie about abandonment and loneliness and eventual triumph alone was kind of poignant. But generally speaking, it did make me want to have someone to see it with.

I like what I like, and unfortunately, I like things that most others don't. Whether it be architecture, British television, cult movies, obscure music, esoteric trivia, subversive humor or outlandish cuisine, there's not a crowd-pleaser in the bunch. The things I like, I tend to like alone. I imagine many people think I lack passion, but I do smile. It's just alone, in the theater, watching giant robots.

Anime may not be your thing. You may have seen Pokemon, Dragon Ball Z, Sailor Moon, Speed Racer, or if you're very unlucky, hentai, and recognized that you didn't like it one bit. And if I'd forced my 100 closest friends to see Evangelion, I'm sure at least half of them wouldn't have liked it. It's more confusing than Inception. It's bloodier than Braveheart. If any of the teenagers in the movie had parents, they certainly would tell them to put on some more clothes. But, at least some of that group would appreciate the high drama, explosive action and intriguing mystery.

Earlier, I trashed on White Chicks. I've never seen White Chicks. For all I know, it's hilarious. I have a knee-jerk reaction against lots of things. Disney, country music, punching myself. But I do need to be more open to trying things. Part of the reason I love the things I love is novelty. I want innovation, I want surprise. What would be more surprising than finding a country song I liked. Or punching myself.

Evangelion was one of my favorite film experiences in the last year. You might like it too. But more importantly, try new things. And share the things you like with others. And don't stop loving it if they don't. Smile in the dark.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


This is my 666th post. That has nothing to do with the content of this post, as far as I can tell.

1. I ate at Lolo's Chicken and Waffles last night. There are very few foods that I dislike, match to the chagrin of my waistline. However, fried chicken is one of the foods that I find enjoyable, but that I probably enjoy less than the average public. Other foods include potato chips, peanut butter and most soups. I don’t believe I have ever ordered myself fried chicken; but if it’s at a potluck or picnic or whatnot I’ll have a piece. Or if I’m going to a place specializing in fried chicken. And I must say everything at the meal was quite good. So if you have a hankering for fried chicken, waffles, grits, candied sweets (sweet potatoes), cornbread, potato salad, or any manner of soulfood, Lolo’s is the way to go.

2. At Lolos someone said doldrums. I commented that doldrums always made me think of The Phantom Tollbooth. I was expecting some recognition of this, but mostly, people didn’t really know what I was talking about. It was one of those times when you realize that something from your childhood is not as universal as you had always assumed. Turns out that not everyone eats lemon jello with cheese on it. Turns out that most people haven’t read The Phantom Tollbooth, or seen the movie a dozen times. I’m not sure why I’ve seen it so many times, but I’d always lumped it in with Alice in Wonderland/Wizard of Oz/Peter Pan type broad children’s fantasy fare. I think in the course of my 5 elementary schools I may have read it twice. But if you haven’t read it, or seen it, here’s the song I remember best, which may be semi-autobiographical:

3. Call is very boring today. Though I did have a patient ask me repeatedly if I had a penis, and another tell me that he needed to finish a chapter a day in his book or the robots from Venus will replace his heart with a mechanical one. I guess I'm jaded that this is a boring morning.

Monday, January 17, 2011

My Birthday Plans

Ninja schoolgirl steampunk quest with samurais, robots, mutants, aliens, mecha, Nazis, dragons and explosions.

What red-blooded American male wouldn't want to see this? What sensible woman would?

Connect the Rants

Marathons are stupid. I have no issue with the race itself, just the routes they choose. Why should one small portion of the population greatly inconvenience the rest because of their hobby? If I wanted to put up an exhibit for my stamp collecting (I don’t collect stamps by the way. I don’t need to add another aspect to my nerdery) that would be fine. But if I wanted to place that exhibit in the middle of 26 miles of public roads for 8 hours, I highly doubt my petition would go through. There was marathon encircling my house yesterday. Thankfully, I didn’t have to go to work, or go shopping, or do most anything. Someone’s hobby shouldn’t put me on house arrest. But, you say, marathons help promote health. Well, possibly. Running is good for you, but running a marathon isn’t necessarily. There are certainly cardiac and musculoskeletal consequences to pushing your body to that extent that make the overall health benefit questionable. But, you say, it makes the city money. Maybe it does, but the city isn’t me. Boston, Chicago etc make money on their marathons. Phoenix? I don’t know and I’m not going to look it up. But regardless, run the stupid thing NIMBY. If you’re traveling to Phoenix to run a marathon it makes perfect sense to me to run it outside of town in the desert. That’s what Phoenix is known for.

Race for the Cure/AIDS Run/Memory Walk are stupid. By all means, let’s solicit public donations to medical research. But this charity running thing makes no sense at all. If you enjoy running, why in the world should I pay you to run? Do you pay me to write or watch movies or go people-watching at the rodeo? If you don’t enjoy running, how is doing something you don’t enjoy helpful to anybody? If I were to run the 10 K, I guarantee you that by the end of it I’d hate the people I was raising money for. Yes, give money for medical research. In fact, take all the money it takes to throw the event, and put all that money into medical research as well. And, whereas marathons may not be the best thing for you, running 5 k or 10 k is a more reasonable exercise routine but don’t just do it once a year. If you need people to SEE you giving money to charity, you suck. Give the money on your own. Go exercise on your own. Be a good person on your own.

What isn’t stupid is private advocacy for medical research. Now, I’ve changed my position on this point somewhat, so maybe in the future I’ll think marathons are wonderful, but I doubt it. I’ve long had a beef with breast cancer. Breast cancer gets a lot of press. (If you’re looking for some levity, you can take that as a mammography joke.) You’d think it’s the worst thing out there, but it’s not. It’s not the most common or deadly cancer. For instance lung and colon are deadlier and lung, skin and prostate are more common. It’s not the hardest to treat, we have a variety of treatment methods, whereas some cancers we have practically nothing. It’s not the most painful, this is usually attributed to pancreatic, stomach or bone. In short, by no measurable means is it the worst cancer. But everyone loves breasts, and very few love colons, prostates and pancreases. Previously, I would have argued that breast cancer advocates need to stop making such a hullabaloo and help out some of these other camps. But, I’ve changed my mind. If you, or your wife or mother or doubly unlucky husband has breast cancer, by all means make a hullabaloo. It shouldn’t matter to you which cancer is the most common. If you want to raise money for your cause, raise money. Advocate, fundraise, awareness-raise, do whatever it is that you want. It’s your time and money; it’s your life.

But, I’m not so sure about the government. I read an article this week where the author proposed the government isn’t spending enough on AIDS research because they want homosexuals and minorities to die. Yes, I read it on that home of whackos and conspiracy theorists, CNN. The government spends huge amounts on AIDS research, more than on cardiovascular health (more deadly) or neurological disease (crippling and arbitrary) or most anything other than cancer as a whole. And while I couldn’t say they’re spending too much on AIDS research, I can and will say they should be spending more on other diseases. AIDS gets 15,000 times the budget of Picks disease. Pick’s disease is rare, but trust me, you don’t want to get it. Breast cancer gets 3 times the funding of leukemia. Helping women is great, but shouldn’t we be even more sympathetic to children? On the one hand, I am saying that if you want more research for Huntington’s or diabetes or kidney failure, you should advocate your cause. On the other, should the government really bow to uneducated public opinion and fund the disease de jure and not the deadliest ones? I’m not sure.

So in summary, marathons are stupid. Running to cure a disease is stupid. Raising money to cure a disease is good. Telling the government to spend more money on your cure is still under debate.

I'm with Gervais

Ricky Gervais is a funny man. He's not necessarily a nice one. If you've ever seen any of his comedy, you wouldn't expect him to play nice. He skewers, deflates and lampoons. He makes awkward situations. Certainly there were others who reveled in the awkward pause before him, but much of today's awkward humor stems from him.

His Golden Globes performance was great.

If there is any group of people in the world that deserves some ribbing, it's movie stars. Well, politicians and athletes as well. The bigger the egos, the more they need to be mocked. When you get paid not only unseemly quantities of money, but also unseemly quantities of praise and attention, you need to get torn up every now and again.

Keep it up Ricky. I'm with Coco, and I'm with Gervais.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Only the Good Die Young

I'm going to talk about tv again, even though I talked about it last time.

Fine, fine, I'll talk briefly about my life. I'm currently doing my ED rotation. ED is what the ER likes to call itself. Which is dumb, because it confuses people who expect it to be called ER, and ED is already an acronym for something else that nobody wants to be associated with. Yet, they will still correct you if you call it the ER, because it's a Department, not a Room.

Anyway, I'm working in the ED, and generally I hate it. Not because I hate the actual work, or the people, who are actually pretty great. I just hate that I've spent the last 1.5 years focusing on psychiatry, and now they want me to remember stuff about spleens. At 4 in the morning. When people might be dying. Like I said, the staff is pretty great actually, it's just not what I want to be doing. And in psych the worst thing that happens is a patient screaming at me, but in the ED it's patients screaming at me, plus rectal exams, pelvic exams, blood, needing translators, not knowing how to use their computers, and not remembering everything I need to about spleens. Psych wins.

Now, on to tv. I love Arrested Development. More than most people. I've seen all the episodes, I've eaten at the banana stand, I've made my friends dress as Tobias. But I'm not really upset that it got canceled. Does the world really need 10 seasons of AD? Could the jokes really keep stacking on top of each other for that long? Would GOB still be riding a Segway in 2011? I would have liked maybe one more season, but not much more. It was such a dense show that I just don't think it would do well on the long haul. Maybe I'm wrong and season 10 would have been sublime comedic bliss. I would love if it were more successful for the writers and producers could do other equally brilliant projects, but I'm not really sad that I watch AD on DVD not on TV.

Terriers on the other hand, should not have been canceled. It ran on FX from September to December of 2010. I just watched it last week. It was awesome. Imagine if The Dude were a detective, and you get the picture. Or imagine if Veronica Mars were an alcoholic former policeman. Either way you've got a great show and either way you'd have Terriers. But no one watched it, including myself, and now it's dead. And it ends in a cliffhanger!

Terriers, the best thing to happen Terriers since this song:

Sunday, January 09, 2011


I have a disease. It’s called anglophilia.

Sure, some of you have celiac’s disease or glaucoma or tropical spastic paraparesis, and I guess those things are pretty inconvenient as well. But do you have to spend hours scouring the internet for old BBC footage? I do.

I recently started watching Top Gear. I don’t even like cars. I built up my knowledge to borderline proficient as I was trying to choose between cars to buy, but I promptly burned away those brain cells (I can do that) after I bought Yoshi. I think Ferraris and BMWs look pretty neat, but I’ve never really had a desire to learn about them, let alone purchase one. So why watch Top Gear? Because it’s three funny British guys. Or rather, 2 and a punching bag. There is no logical reason why I should spend any amount of time watching a British show about European sports cars that I don’t really care about. I recently bought myself a racing video game, just so there was some practical (and I use the term loosely) reason for me to be watching a tv show about cars. On a separate note, Burnout Paradise is awesome.

I’ve also started watching An Idiot Abroad. I’ve been pumping myself up about my upcoming trip to Thailand, so started watching this travel show. It’s unlike any other travel show, in that the traveler, or traveller to be more British, doesn’t like traveling. His “friends,” one of which is Ricky Gervais of The Office fame, are forcing him to visit the 7 wonders of the world. Whereas I have no reason to watch Top Gear, at least I have a purpose for watching AIA. But regardless, or irregardless to be less British, it is a very funny show. And I should probably give it to my traveling companions so they can better prepare themselves for my good-natured complaining.

But perhaps the show which I can most highly endorse, and which you’ll have a hard time finding, is Q.I. This stands for Quite Interesting, and it’s a British quiz show. The Brits’ fondness for trivia is one of their many superior characteristics to folk on this side of the pond. They seem to have dozens of these shows. But this is my favorite, partly because it’s hosted by Stephen Fry, who by my estimation is one of the most likable people in the world. Also because it’s called Q.I., not Quite Correct. Contestants are primarily comedians, and they not only getting points for giving correct answers, but points for interesting answers. They don’t lose points for being wrong, only for being wrong when their answer is a popularly held incorrect belief. This show is amazing. It’s nerdy, funny, clever, and perhaps most of all, British.

Anglophilia. We don’t have a walk or race or ribbon. We just have unnaturally good taste.

Friday, January 07, 2011


I haven’t complained about girls in a while, and I know that’s endearing, so here goes. But to be fair, I’ll try to complain about guys in equal measure. And to be even more fair, these are generally things I’ve been observing others do, not things that have been done to me, so perhaps I’m a bit less biased than normal.

Guys often say “There’s no one to date.” This is them being lazy. What they mean is “No girls are actively pursuing me.” Now I’m the first to admit that I’m a lazy soul, and I appreciate girls showing some initiative. However, I certainly understand their hesitance in doing so. There’s a bit of chaos theory involved here. Say there’s a girl, and you’re neither interested nor disinterested in her. She decides to invite you to a potluck, or to some group outing or to sit by you at church or whatnot. Sometimes, this makes her more attractive, because she’s jumped from neutral to readily attainable. Sometimes this makes her less attractive, because her initiative has taken away some of your control in the velocity of the courtship. I couldn’t tell you what factors go into pushing this one way or the other, and neither I suspect could the girl, so understandably she is unlikely to make such a move. So when guys complain that there are no girls to date, because none of them are sending clear signals, it’s not really accurate. Conversely ladies, the guy has the identical dilemma in showing initiative, so you can’t say it’s easy for them to ask you out either.

Girls don’t just want certain male behavior; they want to dictate the exact manner in which that behavior should take place. A lovely friend of mine just got engaged. Props to her. Although she was happy about the engagement, she did comment that she was disappointed it wasn’t more of a surprise. This complaint came after she had specifically requested that he propose by a certain date. Earlier in the day she had in fact, excitedly, told me how she thought he was going to propose that night. When he did, not surprisingly, it wasn’t a surprise. Another friend recently recounted a situation in which a guy asked for her last name so he could look her up on facebook, rather than ask directly for her phone number. I admit, not an ideal situation. But the point is he was expressing interest, and she was dissatisfied that his interest wasn’t exactly in the manner in which she desired. If you’re getting the attention and the end result you want, be willing to put up with bumpy road to get there.

Just as girls have unrealistic expectations about male behavior, likely brought on by Hollywood, guys have unrealistic expectations of beauty, by the same source. Pre-example disclaimers: of course everyone has their own aesthetic preferences, and I have no particular affection for Reese Witherspoon, apart from sharing a birthday with her. I recently overheard a friend saying he wouldn’t go out with Reese Witherspoon if she weren’t famous. She’s not cute enough. If you look at people who are primarily famous for being attractive (is she really famous for her acting?) and setting them below the threshold for people you are willing to date, there’s probably a problem with your expectations. I suppose this could be considered an insult to the girls I date, but I don’t expect them to be as attractive as the professional beauties I see on the screen. You can’t expect entertainment standards to be the standards of your reality, nor would you really want to.

I have no segue to this point, but girls want to have their cake and eat it too. Weight joke omitted. The biggest problem I see in this category is friends. Now, friends are important, or so I hear. And a boyfriend doesn’t replace the need for friends. But if you can’t date, or even do things with boys that might lead to dating, because of the amount of time “required” for friends, that’s likely a problem. I have had the following conversation: “Do you want to go out Friday? Oh, sorry, I’m doing xyz with Sally, but I really want to get together. Ok, how about Saturday, I’m free most of the day. Oh well I’m doing xyz with Jane in the morning, then meeting up with Gomer at xyz; how about in 2 weeks?” Yes, she could be trying to let me down softly and not simply say no. This is also lame by the way. But I think the problem is more often that girls actually allocate all their free time to friends. And if they actually prefer doing things with their friends to the prospect of romance, that’s their prerogative. But then I hear an awful lot of “Guys in AZ/OH/NY don’t ask girls out.” A lot do, but get friend-blocked.

So ladies, consider your priorities, time allocation, and how particular you are about the exact manner in which guys do things. Guys, consider your own lack of motivation, and how stunning a person needs to be to make you happy. Also, I realize I’m not particularly equipped to give dating advice, but I find that most people who give it don’t know what they’re talking about, so I might as well join in.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Said the Trump

I was fired a couple days ago.

I’m not going to lie, I’m irked. I’m vexed. I’m even perturbed. Partly this is because I assumed, and we all know how assuming turns out. I knew that the Sunday School President was getting released because he was moving out of the ward boundaries, and I assumed that as the only counselor, I’d become the Sunday School President. Also the fact that I’ve been president before and that I was doing all the scheduling and much of the presidenting already contributed to my assumption. It didn’t really occur to me when I was called into the bishopric’s office that I was going to be released. I wasn’t expecting it, and wasn’t prepared for it.

I am now a member of the temple committee. My concerns are numerous.

I haven’t been in a committee since, I’d guess 2000. It’s not that I’m not a team player, I just don’t enjoy committees. I hate being partially in charge of something. I’d like to be responsible for it, or not responsible for it, not responsible for 12% of it. I like to try out new styles/programs. I like to be in-the-know and I like to make decisions. In short, it sounds like I’m not a team player.

It’s not that I don’t like temples. They’re just my least favorite mission of the church. And I’m not overly fond of missionary work.

I was asked to help with the temple prep course, and I can’t tell whether this was because they liked my teaching style in Sunday School or wanted to cut my influence from 90 people to 5.

I realize this post sounds bad, but I’m writing it anyway because I think it’s interesting. We are specifically told not to aspire to positions in the church and in my mind I had rarely done that. I did on my mission, mostly when I was a greenie on a bicycle and dreaming of an AP’s Taurus. But since then, “moving up the ranks” hasn’t mattered to me. I don’t feel like being in charge of FHE or Activities, or Sunday School was ever about being promoted. Perhaps because no one is impressed by those callings. Being single, there really isn’t anything above Elders Quorum President, and I don’t even want that calling.

But I have liked being in charge of things for the last decade, and will miss that. I felt like I had a good benchmark of how I was doing. I could tell if people liked the activities better, or if more people came to Sunday School. I have no way of telling how well I’m a temple committee member.

People often express how receiving a new calling can be overwhelming. They say they don’t know how they’re going to do it. Being an egomaniac, that thought doesn’t concern me. I know I can do this calling. I’m just not very motivated. I feel like I was doing something I liked and was good at, and am now doing something I don’t particularly like, and I’m not sure you can be good at.

Which may be the point I suppose. IF I was an excellent teacher/leader and thus have learned what I needed to learn from that experience, THEN it would make sense for me to now do something else. The fact that I don’t particularly like it may well be the point, since of course I should like it. And if I was bad at it, I'd been bad at it for the last couple years, and why make people suffer for any longer. And while I used Sunday School as a bit of a crutch to make sure I did my scripture study, I now have much more immediate reason to be doing my temple work. I just wish I hadn’t been fired to get my attention.