Tuesday, April 25, 2006

SVU Crack

I still haven't taken my Neurobio test, but have watched 4 episodes of Law and Order SVU (Special Victims Unit) in the last three days. I'm pretty much incapable of turning the channel if I run across it on tv. This really isn't a good condition to be in, not only because the show is exclusively about brutal sex crimes, but because it's greatly hindering my graduation. Am I a bad person for liking this show? Perhaps. But if so USA is downright diabolical for airing it a million times a day.

But what can I say? The cops in SVU rock. I like all 4 regular policemen, the commissioner (or whatever the head guy's title is) and even the DA. It's the all-star team of crime shows. I can't sit through five minutes of any other L&O, CSI or any other member of the genre. The show should be depressing, but is instead riveting. Evidently the rest of the nation agrees since there are so many of these programs.

I also have found that I enjoy Rescue Me on FX. I'm not terribly interested in firefighting, but I am fascinated by Dennis Leary. No one emits pure venom like quite like him, and yet he's endearing. He's pretty much my role model.

Song of the moment: "Lucky Me" Sarah Slean

New York Times Bestsellers

So no one’s commented on my story Christian, which probably means that nobody has read it.  Which is sad for you, because I haven’t edited it yet and it’s fun to find where I used incorrect punctuation.  

Here’s another story, called Horoscopy.  It’s significantly shorter, and has been edited, if you’re into that kind of thing.


Song of the moment: “Comfortably Numb” Pink Floyd

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Screw those queer guys . . . wait that didn't sound right

Chris’s Rules of Fashion

  1. Polo shirts are the devil.  I think they’re ugly and I hate them and hate people that wear them.

  2. Untucked is superior to tucked in every way.  Unless I’m wearing a suit, my shirt is almost certainly untucked.  Tucking in your shirt is one step away from wearing a tie, and would you even think of wearing a tie to go to class?  Not unless you’re Alex Keaton.  And guess what?  You’re not.

  3. I don’t often wear belts.  My pants fit, and my shirt’s untucked, so why wear a belt?  Because the belt industry tells you to?  Do you do everything the belt industry says?

  4. No argyle.  It’s ugly.  I have no rational reason for disliking it.  But that doesn’t stop me from disliking weathermen.

  5. Layers are a necessary evil.  I would love to wear a single layer (perhaps two) at all times, but it’s not possible.  The multi-shirt look (plus sweaters/jackets/Kevlar) doesn’t appear to be going anywhere, so I have to wear an extra layer or two.  At least it cuts down on hypothermia.  

  6. Because I am conforming enough to societal fashion standards as to wear layers, they must be extremely thin.  I refuse to feel like the kid from A Christmas Story.

  7. Blank T-shirts are pointless.  You’ve got space on your chest: say something!  Some type of design on the shirt is acceptable (excluding argyle), but an actual statement regarding your preferences or personality is much preferred.

  8. Perhaps contradictorily, I hate clothing that has the name of the manufacturer on it.  I shop more at the Gap/Eddie Bauer etc than I should, but I refuse to buy anything that has their name on it.  They can afford billboards; they don’t need me.

  9. I try to buy clothes that I will wear year-round.  This means I don’t own a coat (only jackets, which I can wear for half the year) and I wear my t-shirts all year.  I don’t buy holiday wear, or clothing expressly for a specific event.  Buying me a Christmas tie will not put you on my good side.  Giving it to me on Christmas will get you blacklisted.

  10. White dress shirts are boring.  Yes, you need a couple of them.  But that’s it.  The rest should be other colors.  I currently own blue, maroon, green, black and grey shirts.  The colored ones are not only more interesting on Sunday, but can be worn to a wider variety of events during the week.

  11. I never buy anything I’ve seen someone else wear.  If I see someone else wearing something I own, it automatically gets knocked down a couple places on my to-wear list.

  12. Shopping at thriftstores is fine.  They’re a good place to find novelty apparel, which helps satisfy rule 7.  Less often you can actually find nice stuff at a good price.  Don’t think about the fact that someone may have died in it.  There is no point in buying anything that’s not exceptionally nice or exceptionally random.  If you say “I guess I’d wear this” you actually won’t.  

  13. Ties should make people talk.  Don’t buy one unless it’s likely to produce either a “Wow, nice tie!” or “Wow, what a hideous tie!”  Either is acceptable.  Bland is not.

  14. Pink is only acceptable if your girlfriend buys it for you.  Even then I will probably lose respect for you.

  15. Abercrombie is not acceptable under any circumstances.  NONE.  Wrack your brain all you wish, you won’t come up with a reason that I will find acceptable.  

Song of the moment: “Popular” Nada Surf

Saturday, April 22, 2006

My Autobiography

I finally finished my story!

At 17,000 words it is my longest story to date.  It certainly hasn’t reached novel length, but I believe it has safely left the realm of short story.  Read Christian and tell me what you think.


Song of the moment: “Tainted Love” by Soft Cell.

Take the bad with the good, and the bad with the bad

Shortly after finishing my beastly Neurobio lab final (I hadn’t counted on it being so) I went to Joey’s and we took off for The Mayan.  His cousins are in town and so they’re cramming all the typical Utah things to do in the next couple days, which works well for me since I too will never have a chance to do them again.

The Mayan was an experience.  You wait in line to order your food, then wait in line to get your food, then wait in line to be brought to your table.  So far not the best experience.  But once you get to your table it gets interesting.  At the center of the restaurant is a waterfall, which all four floors face.  They have divers jumping from the top of the falls every so often, along with random people running around dressed as gorillas and pygmies/head hunters.  Throw in a wandering mariachi band, guys making balloon animals and animatronic birds at every table and you’ve got an evening to remember.  The food is passable, but is in no way authentic.  But seeing as the restaurant has already lumped every country south of the border (along with several African nations) into one theme, we can assume that they’re not going for authenticity.  But the sweet and sour sauce went great on my flautas, so maybe these groups should be brought together.

Of course no trip to Provo is complete without the dollar theater.  Sadly I said we should see Ultraviolet.  Now before you judge too harshly, the alternatives were When a Stranger Calls, The Pink Panther, and Firewall.  There was no chance of us seeing a good movie this evening.  However Ultraviolet was one of the worst movies I have ever seen.

I have a rather high tolerance for bad movies.  I can watch a movie, knowing from the start that it’s not going to be very good, and enjoy it immensely.  I did not enjoy Ultraviolet immensely.  The facts that the acting was poor and the plot was predictable were forgivable.  I had expected this.  I wanted a movie with swords, motorcycles and cool explosions.  And it couldn’t deliver even that.  Some of the effects were quite cool, but many looked like poor video game backgrounds.  The swords were there, but the choreography was quite laughable.  I have seen this director provide some nifty gun/sword work in Equilibrium (he even made up a form of martial arts called gun kata using handguns) and it didn’t work at all here.  However the worst offender was the script.  The dialogue was horrible throughout.  It was impossible to get invested in the story.  It was an action movie and several of the party fell asleep.  There were several conversations that just didn’t make sense.  Not in a philosophical Matrix way, but “a drunk sixth grader may have written this movie in under an hour” sort of way.

Sadly some movies are bad enough to be funny.  This one just stayed bad enough to be painful.  There were a couple laugh-out-loud lines that made it worth a dollar, but just barely.  View at your own risk.

Song of the moment: “The Good Life” Weezer  

Friday, April 21, 2006

Marketing Mastermind

Swicket: A Tale of Dr. Pepper, Midgets and Communism

“This is perhaps the most important film of the last century. No, strike that, the last millennium.” – Roger Ebert

“There is only one word to describe this masterpiece: scrumtrulescent. I’ve used it before, but never truly knew what it meant until this film danced mirthfully across my cranial sockets.” – James Lipton

“It was pretty good. It’s probably in my top 100 movies. If it doesn’t make that cut it’s definitely in my top 100 documentaries.” – Chris Sorensen

“Every other movie you have ever seen will seem like child pornography in comparison to this film.” – IMDB

“This movie basically takes everything I worked for in my life and fits it in a 55 minute gift to mankind.” – Gandhi (as spoken through a medium)

“I’ll go ahead and say it. If you don’t like this movie, you’re a terrorist. There it is, I said it. Everyone was thinking it, and I went ahead and put it out there. You should buy at least 3 copies to help support the economy.” – President George W. Bush

“Chris Sorensen is a genius.” – Chris Sorensen

Is That Your Finals Answer?

Wow, have I not been productive lately. I realize that I’m not the studying machine of the century, but the complete absence of studying on both my reading days was more than I had intended. But I have been pretty busy. Here are some midweek highlights:

Scone Party – Falon loves making scones, and we love eating them, so we had a scone party Wednesday morning. It was perhaps the least healthy breakfast event ever. But oh-so tasty.

Film Fest: Part Deux – We had a dessert night/ movie watching event on Tuesday. I wasn’t planning on attending, but got out of my tests early enough to make an appearance. We watched a couple ward movies that hadn’t made it to the film fest a couple weeks back, which were fairly entertaining. Certainly no Swicket movie though.

Toga Party – I must say that this was an ill-conceived event. I’m quite sure that Toga Parties require alcohol to work properly. Joey and I weren’t even going to wear togas (I sadly left mine in NY) but the girls came over and made it clear that we were attending and we were wearing togas. We left when they started to watch Hercules in favor of the far superior 28 Days Later, which I bought for five dollars.

Movie marketing – I started making copies of my movie and selling them for a dollar. I sold 8 last night at the Toga party, and guestimate that I’ll need to burn another dozen or so. I’m particularly proud of the movie cover, which of course I made yesterday instead of studying.

As you can see, studying has yet to be accomplished. But since my first final is in 3 hours, I think I’m about ready to begin.

Thursday, April 20, 2006


I posted this article a number of months ago, but it was recently accepted for Inscape Magazine (a BYU publication) so I had to work on it again.  They wanted me to explain a bit more about the theology I use, in case the readers aren’t LDS.  What readers of a BYU magazine aren’t LDS?  Anyway, perhaps it is clearer now.  

Satan’s Literature

I have little use for the classics.  I realize they’re well written, timeless stories that truly exemplify the human condition, but I don’t really have any desire to read them.  Anything that has been raised to the lofty title of “literature” is likely too full of itself to realize that it is no more than words on paper.  I realize literature is not self aware, but it’s difficult to mock something that has no self concept.  You just don’t get the satisfaction of fine ridicule.  
Being inanimate, literature has never done anything to harm me personally.  But others have used it against me on many occasions.  The main culprits for my functional ‘alliteracy’ are my English teachers.  I don’t know if alliterate is actually a word, but my beloved Spell-check isn’t rejecting it, so I guess it’s kosher.  I’m using alliterate to mean I can read, I just usually choose not to.  I can read Macbeth.  I can tell you what it means.  I can tell you what the trees symbolize and how they indicate Shakespeare was gay.  I just choose not to.  God has given me the right to make such decisions, and I tend to be pro-God.  These diabolical English teachers ignore my decision to avoid ‘the classics’ and force me to read them, laughing maniacally all the while.  It’s feasible that I would have enjoyed these books had I read them of my own volition; this I can fease.  But by forcing my nose between the pages these teachers have ruined it for me.  Let me give you an example.
In seventh grade we read The Golden Goblet.  I wouldn’t equate this book with Anna Karenina, but it must have won a Caldecott or Newberry or Golden Globe, or whatever they’re giving books these days.  Its protagonist was a plucky young Egyptian lad named Raq.  Raq bothered me right off.  According to what these same English teachers had been teaching me for years his name should have been Raqu.  There’s always supposed to be a U after Q; even I can remember that spelling rule.  And I learned how to spell in England.  I still occasionally spell color as colour, and have never figured out grey versus gray.  Yet this Q-U rule doesn’t seem to apply to Raq.  I’m pretty sure this is the exact reason we attacked Iraq back with Read-My-Lips Bush.  They didn’t respect the U then, and they don’t respect George Double-U now.  
Raq wanted to be a goldsmith, which I didn’t care about at all.  I’d already learned all I needed to know about metal working from Johnny Tremain and his silver and Alma and his dross.  Raq should pick a career they haven’t written a book about yet, like professional recumbent bicycle salesman.  I never got to hear about that in grade school.  But Raq wanted to be a goldsmith, and soon got involved with secret societies, ancient treasure and that sort of thing.  In reality it should have been the type of thing I’d like.  It almost certainly had more plot, better dialogue and more scarab beetles than The Mummy.  But no one forced me to watch The Mummy, so I enjoyed it.  They forced The Golden Goblet on me, just as Satan would if he were a middle school teacher.  And I strongly suspect he may be in his spare time.
A greater sin than forcing me to read The Golden Goblet was forcing me to respond to it.  For most of the books I read through school there was some type of an activity to go along with it; a diorama, a book report, or training monkeys to reenact a chapter.  For this book we had a response journal.  We needed to respond to each chapter with an entry in our journal describing our personal reaction and feelings on what occurred.  My teacher wanted us to write a page of response about the page and a half we had just read.  It seemed to me that seventh graders had become the new Gutenberg printing press: producing twenty-something handwritten copies of The Golden Goblet, only slightly abridged and extremely misspelled.  This is a cruel waste of time to inflict upon any child, but doubly so to inflict upon me.  I had no emotional response to this book.  Only after 9 years of constant thought on this book have I been able to come up with this response, such as it is.  And had I turned in a response of this nature I would have received a poor grade and a trip to the school guidance counselor.  The school shrink would only be a temporary setback, but the poor grade in a seventh grade English class would almost certainly be a smudge on my transcript keeping me from all higher education.  I’d be flipping burgers instead of enjoying the benefits (ie girls) of a college education.  
That which I am forced to do, I do not enjoy.  It’s Satan’s plan: to force us all to read fine literature and refine ourselves, whether we like it or not.  Well perhaps this isn’t his plan exactly; his plan involves ensnaring us with sin and making us miserable like unto himself, or some such thing.  But this is the exact manner in which he would go about educating the masses.  And since I’m not a devil worshipper, I won’t stand for it.  I’m taking a stand against the classics.  Perhaps it’s just a post-adolescent rebellious streak, but the world should be so lucky if all the teenage punks out there rebelled by refusing to read The Great Gatsby.  From this point forward I will read nothing published before 1997.  I will read nothing that has won any awards, or received praise from anyone with an English degree.  I’d prefer it if the book contains typos, missing pages and switches between the present and pluperfect tense without any grammatical reason.  Anything that indicates that neither love nor care was put into its writing.  Any book I read should have at least 4 sequels, and I should be able to figure out how the book will end by page 10.  The book should have flexible binding and be short enough to fit in my back pocket.  And lastly, the book should be based on a movie, so I can see the movie and pretend I read the book.  But I don’t want to read any book that is later made into a movie, because this would indicate it’s of literature-quality.  
So it looks like I’m down to cheap sci-fi, romance novels and Dean Koontz.  But I still have my standards.  The romance novels must at least have Fabio on the cover; I don’t want any of the cheap stuff.  Or better yet, I’m just going to go watch American Idol reruns.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Metro Training Center

Today at the MTC I saw four Elders in a row with pink ties.  I’m not going to bother statistically analyzing that for you, but the point is that is far too high of a frequency.

I admit that I own one tie that has pink in it (along with green and blue.)  If I were more metro I could even defend it that it’s not pink, but salmon.  Though if I were more metro, I probably wouldn’t feel the need to defend my ownership of a pink tie.  In any event, I bought it for a dollar in China, so feel little guilt over the investment.  

Missionaries are supposed to be conservative!  All you missionaries that are reading this, send your pink ties home and pray that being girly is still in style when you get home so you can use them once again.  Missionary ties should only fall into two categories, neither of which is metro or stylish.

  1. So conservative that they will blend in and match with any suit you could ever possibly wear.

  2. Incredibly ugly, to be worn at Zone Conference and traded with other missionaries.

I have spoken.  As a dry cleaning employee for the MTC I am officially an expert on such things.

Song of the day: “The Sounds of Science” The Beastie Boys

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

1089 is the lonliest number

Today was a rather notable day, despite the fact that I didn’t really leave my bed until 4.  No, I’m not THAT lazy; I study in my bed.  I did so from 9 until 4, which was a fun warm-up for finals that start in couple of days.  But today was notable because:

It was my last day of undergraduate classes.  Technically I didn’t go to classes today (my Tuesday lab has finished) so yesterday was my last actual class.  A couple finals and I’m done.

I took two tests in a row at the testing center.  I’ve never done this before, but I collected both Linguistics and Neurobio and had a grand old time doing them one after the other.

My power cord came from Dell.  I must say that I’m amazed it got here within one business day of my ordering it.  I’d be more amazed if my Dell merchandise stopped breaking, but I’ll take what I can get.

And of course, today I reached the milestone of 1089 visits to my blog.   Happy 1089!

Monday, April 17, 2006

My Food-centric Life

I awoke from my 35 minutes of sleep on Friday morning and stumbled my way through the day. Once I got off work at 5 (luckily it was a slow day) I decided to reward my near-all-nighter with some food. Heck, if I’m not dating anymore I can spend twice as much on myself right? So I not only went to Pudding on the Rice, but also went to Sweet’s Luau. After some careful analysis I determined that it was much more cost-effective to buy the largest rice pudding and eat it for a week than pay a dollar less for the normal sized portion. I was relieved to see that they’ve put in seating, though it looks eerily like the milk bar from Clockwork Orange. I received a huge portion of raspberry rice pudding, which I will still be eating several days from now.

Unfortunately my financial wizardry didn’t work so well as Sweets. I again decided I should buy the 7 dollar triple plate and have it to eat for a couple days. My previous experience with Hawaiian food lead me to believe that 7 dollars would be a massive portion, but I was sadly mistaken. The Kalua pork, Katsu chicken and Lauau were all good, but I easily ate it in one sitting.

Saturday was pretty much the best day ever because I got 2 free meals. I dragged myself out of bed at 11 (lazy yes, but I was making up for the previous sleepless night) to get some free pizza from my ward. Nothing like BBQ chicken pizza to start your day off right. I followed up this free meal with free barbeque that night, also thanks to the ward. Free food = happiness.

Sunday we drove to Vernal to eat Easter dinner with my sister. We did some other things with her, but dinner was certainly the focus. It was very tasty, and nearly free, though the 5 hours driving a couple days before finals were less than desirable.

And now today I’m preparing to drive to Alpine (about a half hour away), my only motivation being, other than it’s part of my church calling, to get free food. Sister Pearce is notorious for preparing huge amounts of near-gourmet food for the students that make the trip to Alpine, and we were chosen to go this month. So it will eat up another couple hours of precious study time, but I will certainly be full. There had better be stuffed mushrooms, or it could get ugly.

Song of the moment: “Fly That Knot” Talib Kweli featuring MF Doom.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Technical Difficulties

Technology, like females, hates me.

My iPod earphones died on Friday. I picked them up and the left earpiece simply fell apart. RIP earphones.

Of more concern (since I don't have a spare) is that my power cord for my computer ceased functioning. The AC adaptor box is emitting a high pitched beeping noise and I watched as my computer's battery died before my eyes, despite being plugged into the socket. It's aggrevating not having access to your computer when you know there's nothing wrong with the actual machine. Luckily I pulled my files off before the battery died so shouldn't fail any classes due to a dead computer. However this does add to my list of Dell malfunctions: replaced CD drive, replaced hard drive, replaced processor, replaced fan, currently malfunctioning fan, currently malfunctioning battery and now dead power cord. The only thing I can say to support Dell is that all replacements have been covered in my warrantee and todays phone call was a record 20 minutes, with service survey.

This problem could stop postings for the next week or so, or I may be a nerd and do it from other people's computers. This post would indicate the latter.

Song of the moment: nothing, my computer's dead!

Twisted Shiksas

Looking for oddball music that is becoming mainstream? Here’s a couple picks for you:


I first thought that this fellow was a Jewish rapper. “Hold it” I says. “Everybody knows that there is only room for 4 white rappers in the world, three of which are already Jewish.” How wrong I was. Matisyahu is in fact an orthodox Hasidic Jew, but he sings Reggae, not rap. If you were looking for the perfect soundtrack to study your Talmud and smoke weed by, look no further.

My experience with reggae is fairly limited, but Matisyahu seems pretty good. Reggae often blends into the background by its very mellow nature, but Matisyahu brings himself back into your attention by throwing in the occasional guitar riff. He does in fact sing a fair amount about all things Semitic, so be prepared to have no idea what’s going on.

KT Tunstall

I also first thought that KT was a rapper, since who but a rapper would change their name of Katie to KT? It’s totally gangster. But it turns out that she’s a blues/folk/country/pop singer. This sounds like quite a range, but I think you’re familiar with the type by now. I wouldn’t quite lump her in the lesbian music genre, though like Dar Williams she does have a bit of a lesbian following. Listen to her pronouns; they’re pretty ambiguous.

I first heard of KT while in China, where I pirated a wide variety of music. It wasn’t really any easier to pirate music in China, I just had more free time to devote to such activities. We ran across her because she is of mixed Chinese and Irish heritage. I had mostly forgotten about her until I both saw her on VHI and heard her on the radio this week. If she’s on the radio in Utah, she’s on the radio where you are.

Song of the moment: “Pop Goes the World” Men Without Hats

Rip Van Sorensen

There’s nothing quite like getting twelve hours of sleep.

This was to compensate for getting 35 minutes of sleep the night before.  Stupid Literature Analysis class.  If anyone wants to read “Can Batter My Heart Better the Saints?: An Analysis of Holy Sonnet XIV by John Donne” let me know and I’ll post it for you.

Now to be productive, maybe.

Song of the moment: “The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song” The Flaming Lips

Friday, April 14, 2006

Insane in the Membrane

We were talking about Schizophrenia the other day in neurobio and I came to a startling realization.  I may be crazy.  The following are the seven hallmarks of schizophrenia:

  1. Delusions – Don’t have these yet, except perhaps of grandeur.  

  2. Hallucinations – Also safe from this one

  3. Formal thought disorder – Tangential and circumstantial thought patterns certainly seems to fit for me.

  4. Avolition – Lack of drive and motivation, also me.

  5. Social Isolation – Me.

  6. Poverty of thought and speech – I’ve got the poverty of speech down.

  7. Blunted or flattened affect – ie doesn’t express emotion.  Certainly have that one.

Conclusion: I could have schizophrenia.  At the very least I could be described as schizotypal, which happens to be my new favorite word (pronounced skit-so-tip-al.)

Song of the moment: “Pure Morning” Placebo.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The Mystics are going down

How much do I like the Flaming Lips? Like watermelon...or sandals with pressure points drawn on them...or a panda with a sad face...or a Sunday when you wake up and it's raining....well, I like them more than hard bread.

If you recognize that quote you receive 18 cool points.

But a more accurate account of how much I like the Flaming Lips is that I actually went through the trouble of going to Best Buy and buying their latest CD, At War With The Mystics. This is the first CD I’ve purchased a hard copy of in about 3 years. And I most certainly haven’t been disappointed.

The reviews I had read were that this album was amazing, but not as amazing as their previous two. It’s a hard thing to have your work embraced by the rock snobs and have to continue living up to that standard. Not only to they have to continue to be great, but they have to be great in innovative new ways. I really hated how Beck’s latest CD got lambasted by some critics. They didn’t like the CD because he didn’t completely reinvent himself like he had on previous albums. Guess what? We like Beck! We like Beck to sound like Beck! That album was great, as is this one.

For those of you unfamiliar, the Flaming Lips are pretty out there. An example of their eccentricity: one of their previous albums came on four CDs that are meant to be played simultaneously. They’re crazy, and that’s why we love them.

I admit, this album is a step less crazier than Yoshimi, but I think that’s going to make it more accessible to the general public. Crazily enough they have even taken tracks from this album and put them on movie soundtracks. Perish the thought!

However, I have two pieces of advice for this album. Firstly, listen to it all the way through. The songs link into one another and it is in fact a concept album. I had to turn off the shuffle feature on my iPod so I could get the album in the intended order (it has been playing in my ears for the last 3 days.) Secondly, the experience is greatly amplified with a reasonable sound system. There are many 3D effects and if you’re playing it out of your laptop speakers you’re going to miss lots of what’s going on.

Flaming Lips. Great stuff. Love them, buy them, tell your friends to buy them.

Song of the moment: “It overtakes Me/The stars Are So Big . . . I Am So Small . . . Do I Stand A Chance?” The Flaming Lips

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Sex Commando, all Israeli hero

I think this is awesome.  Orthodox Jews are now awesomer because of it.  Go Sex Commando Go!  Don’t worry, the story is completely clean.  



Welcome to this week’s Thumbs up/Thumbs Down, which from henceforth will be known as Ta-da.  The actual abbreviation would be TUTD, but when you pronounce this it sounds like Ta-da.  Anyway . . .

Whereas last week I compared two unlike items (a chicken sandwich and rice pudding), this week I’ll make a more exact comparison.  I do this because it seems more fair, and because it just happened to work out this week.

Thumbs Down: Mr. Pibb Xtra.  

In all likelihood, I’ve had this drink before.  When I order Dr. Pepper at restaurants (like all really classy people do) they will sometimes say they only have Mr. Pibb and I accent the substitute.  I never inquire as to whether they are serving me the Xtra variety or the normal, but I’ve probably had both.  But this was my first instance of purchasing this soda with the express purpose of analyzing it.  The results are negative.  

It’s not that it’s bad per se, but it simply doesn’t compare to Dr. Pepper.  The initial flavor isn’t as strong and the residual sweetness is irritating.  It lacks some of the fruity quality of the good doctor and instead has a bit of a tang that I find moderately unpleasant.  In addition to these flaws they insist on calling it Xtra, and I hate words that try to sound cool by starting with X.  It’s dumb, and this soda is dumb by association.  Stick with DP, no question.  I did find a new concoction this week by mixing 3 parts DP with 2 parts Diet DP.  It dilutes the slightly syrupy nature of straight DP while pushing the flavor of DDP ever so slightly.  In case you’re wondering I don’t often attempt to create drinks at home, I was simply consolidating bottles.

Thumbs Up: Vault Zero

Vault markets itself as a soda energy drink hybrid.  Zero is the diet variety.  Now I fail to understand how an energy drink with zero calories works, but I wasn’t drinking it for the buzz since neither sugar nor caffeine have that effect on me.  I bought it because it was 50 cents and I’m a sucker for anything new.  But I was pleasantly surprised.

I don’t really like Sprite or 7-Up.  I’ll drink them when parched, but almost never purchase them.  If I do it’s the Cherry variety.  I prefer Vault Zero to either of these products.  It’s a hard thing to distinguish between all these “uncolas,” so the only assessment I can give is that I like Vault better.  Try it for yourself and see if you agree.  It’s my new favorite clear soda.  After Fresca.  And Crystal Pepsi.  And Ginger Ale.  Yes, I drink way too much soda, you don’t need to tell me.

Song of the Moment: “Hips Don’t Lie” Shakira and Wyclef (sorry to abandon my Alternative standards, but it’s stuck in my head.)  

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Chris: Financial wizard

If you're reading this you're almost certainly a college student, and thus by definition dirt-poor.  Want to stay that way?  Here are some pointers on how to be cheap thrifty this summer.
1.     Stop eating breakfast.  It's not really the most important meal of the day, that's just a myth perpetuated by the cereal companies.  When's the last time you had a breakfast date?  No one of the opposite sex = a wasted meal.
2.     Look like a hobo.  If you currently shop at the Gap, switch to Old Navy.   If you shop at Old Navy switch to DI.  If you shop at DI switch to stealing your roommates clothes.  The hobo look is totally in, so the shabbier you look the better.
3.     Get on welfare.  
4.     Stop paying rent.  You've got friends and they've got couches.  If no one's sleeping on them they're just going to waste.  If you don't have friends (I'm looking at you engineering majors) you can construct a nice cardboard box fort to summer in.  Props if you stay there during the winter too.
5.     Sell plasma.  Being a blood whore is the easiest job in the world.  But it’s hard out there for a blood pimp.  
6.     Girls: Mooch off boys.  Any activity that you can't find a boy to pay for isn't worth doing. Trust me, we're gullible enough and you're cute enough that you can go weeks without buying a meal or movie ticket.
7.     Boys: avoid the mooching girls.  
8.     Haircuts are a waste.  You've got scissors and a mirror.  How hard can it be?  If you're a vain soul and insist on having someone else cut your hair, find a friend who has scissors. And remember, you only need two cuts per year, three if you're drinking your milk, which I advise against.  Water is cheaper.

So you've just received your inheritance, won the lottery or found a pot of gold.  What's next?   Here's how to burn that cash.

1.     Go skydiving.  You know you want to.  And how else can you spend a couple hundred bucks for couple minutes of entertainment?
2.     Buy novelty T-shirts.  Sure you could scour DI for that trendy novelty T.  But who has time to go to DI?   Just get online and spend ten times more to have it shipped to your door.  Make sure to get overnight delivery.
3.     Go to Vegas.  Perhaps the only activity that is less cost-efficient than skydiving.  But trust me, the complimentary drinks are worth every penny.
4.     Donate to the Send-Chris-to-Med-School Foundation.  Remember, he may be working on you someday.   Isn't your health worth your money?
5.     Throw extravagant dinner parties.  Invite all your friends, and with your new-found affluence you should have a lot more.  Feast and speak in British accents.  Instead of Western Family and Sam’s Choice, buy the actual name brand foods.  Don't worry, they'll still taste the same.
6.     Go see first-run movies.  You rich people get to see movies months before us poor slobs.   Plus there's no line since the rest of us are standing outside Movies 8.  
7.     Bathe in Jamba Juice.  It's great for the skin and the delightful fruit scent will stay with you all day.  Aloha Pineapple works best.
8.     Girls dig it when you give them your number written on a ten dollar bill.  Plus they may spend the bill, and another even cuter girl could get your number.
9.     Shop exclusively at your campus bookstore.
10.     Donate to the Buy-Chris-an-Xbox360 Foundation.  It doesn't have quite the humanitarian reputation of other charities, but I'm pretty sure you'll still get that warm fuzzy feeling inside.

Double Feature

In the noble pursuit of doing zero homework and the lesser goal of being social (I watched both with groups) I saw two movies tonight.

The first was The Chronicles of Narnia.  I realize I may be the last person in the world to see it, but it wasn’t too high on my priority list.  And although it certainly wasn’t horrible, it wasn’t anything great either.  The comparison to Lord of the Rings is inevitable, but the fact is that LOTR does everything better than this did.  The movie seemed far too long and the effects occasionally looked cheap.  But for me the biggest problem was that I didn’t like any of the kids.  I wanted the queen to kill each and every one of them.  The wisecracking Beaver and the fox were really the only good characters that I wanted to survive.  In order to make the experience more enjoyable my friends and I resorted to playing Mystery Science Theater with it.  This adds to most movie viewings.

The other movie was the less reputable Kung Pow: Enter the Fist.  If you’re not familiar with this movie, they cut and pasted scenes from two old kung fu movies with some new material and redubbed all the voices.  Every character but one were dubbed by the same guy, who was also the writer, director and star of the movie.  Of the two I much preferred this one.  It was horrendously stupid; if you can’t handle Three Amigos don’t even attempt to watch this film.  But the jokes are nearly constant, and about 1/3 of them are hilarious.  That’s not a great ratio, but it still means that I laughed out loud more often in this movie than most comedies I see.  If you watch expecting it to be the dumbest thing you’ve ever witnessed, you won’t be disappointed and will laugh all the way through.

Song of the moment: “Youth and Beauty Brigade” The Decemberists.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Free at last!

After a month of work, and procrastination of said work, it is finished. My movie is done. Mostly.
I had 90% of the filming done by last Sunday. The last 10% consisted of music scenes (the movie soundtrack includes rock, punk, folk, classical and rap music, all original compositions) and a scene involving my ex-roomy Chris. He had the nerve to get married last week and I had to wait for him to get back from his honeymoon to film. That we did, at 7 in the morning. Unfortunately for us it was snowing, so I had to some last minute adjustments to get the scene to work correctly indoors. But filming was finally complete Thursday morning at 8. I had 2.5 hours of footage and 36 hours to finish my movie.

I started editing on Monday. As with my previous 2 movies, the process was not as simple as it should have been. The hard drive I rented on Monday became unreadable on Wednesday, meaning I had no access to my work (I had done about 5 hours of work at that point.) It miraculously began working again on Thursday, meaning I got 5 hours of work back, but I was now a day behind. To make up for this I worked at a special multimedia computer in the library for 14 hours on Thursday, the first 12 being consecutive. I don’t think I’ve ever done anything for that long before in my life. But by midnight Thursday I had finished all the editing and started burning my movie (a process that takes about 2.5 hours.)

I came to the lab Friday morning to find the computer frozen. I still had until 7 to get it done (so it could be shown at the ward movie night) so didn’t worry too much. I started burning another DVD and went to class. I came back at noon and found the computer again frozen. I managed to switch to another computer (they are usually scheduled several days in advance and you have to have reservations) and started it burning. By 3 I had a copy burned and tried watching it on a DVD player. Nothing. I simplified the menu system I was using for the DVD screen and started burning another disk before heading to work. I returned after 6 and the DVD was just finishing. By 6:20 I had my DVD in hand with 40 whole minutes to spare before the festival.

I’d say the reactions were quite positive. I got a lot of laughs throughout the film, though sometimes they were at jokes that I thought were minor, where some major jokes didn’t get much attention. The only complaint I got was that it was too long. I agree that it didn’t match the other movies at the show (they averaged 10 minutes, whereas mine was nearly 40) but I really couldn’t do this movie in much less time. But to but to counter the occasional length complaints, I had a lot of people that wanted copies, which is always nice.

So I had a great time, but am glad that it’s done. And now I have a trilogy! I’m guessing that med school will kill my filmmaking aspirations, but maybe those med students are just fooling us all and actually have a ton of free time.

Song of the moment: “Atonal Swicket Symphony Ending in F” by Nate Jackson

Friday, April 07, 2006

Genuinely Weird

Ever have one of those days when your teeth feel sharp?

I'm not being figurative. They feel like saw blades.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Young Frankenstein's favorite

Welcome to this week’s edition of Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down.  This is the first edition, and almost certainly won’t be done every week.  But I’m going to pretend like it will be.  Those of you who know me know that I will almost invariably try new things when given the opportunity.   As such I am quite the consumer.  This week I tried two new food items, and will dispense with you the wisdom I gained from doing so.

Thumbs Down: Buffalo Snacker from KFC

I know, I know.  A 99 cent sandwich from KFC.  You’d expect it to be a taste sensation.  But sadly it’s not.  The buffalo sauce is adequate, but tangy in a slightly unpleasant way.  They fall apart too easy and the service isn’t very quick.  But the biggest fault is that they are too small.  You’d be much better off getting a Hot N’ Spicy McChicken or Spicy Chicken Sandwich from Carls Junior, both of which are nearly twice as big and also cost 99 cents.

Thumbs Up: Pudding on the Rice

At the exact time I was purchasing my KFC I saw that Pudding on the Rice was now open.  Having zero concept of what this was, but also having about 10 minutes of spare time, I decided to investigate.  Turns out that this is a new store devoted entirely to rice pudding.  Yes, you heard me right, nothing but rice pudding.  Where else than Provo?  According to their website they’re in New York, Paris, Tokyo and over a 1000 other locations.  I like rice pudding, but I doubt the financial wisdom in opening this store within a mile of 4 ice cream places.  Maybe people will like having an extra option.  And options PotR certainly has.  The salesgirl (who was hot, which was an added benefit) told me that they always had 16 flavors available, indicating that they actually have more than that.  I sampled both the Chocolate Raspberry and Caramel Turtle.  I ended up going with the Turtle, and spread a 3 dollar portion over a couple meals.  I admit, it was delicious.  Probably not much healthier than ice cream with all the chocolate and caramel, but delicious nonetheless.  

The product seems quality and I support them in their novel endeavor.  I do however have a couple minor suggestions.  They serve their rice pudding in Tupperware dishes.  That’s just odd.  You’re going to have a hard enough time selling your pudding folks, you don’t need to have your dishes look like they hold leftovers.  They also rented out a huge store and are only using one wall.  There is seriously a ton of extra space, all plain white, which just looks odd.  Finally I’m not a huge fan of the name.  It’s kind of clever, but I don’t think lots of people will get it.  Need help?  “If you’re blue and you don’t know where to go to why don’t you go where fashion sits . . .” Pudding on the Rice.  Maybe I give the general populace too little credit.  If you’ve got one near you, hit this place up.

Song of the moment: “Blitzkrieg Bop” The Ramones

Monday, April 03, 2006

Serenity Now!

I decided on Sunday to avoid the whole game playing ritual that’s been instituted in our ward.  Basically three of four apartments have game night every Sunday (almost always girls apartments, I guess as a form of counterdating) and people play party games or board games or whatever.  I participate fairly often, but have lost most of my motivation to do so.  My overdramatic analogy for my roommates is that I’ve been emotionally castrated.  There’s no possible way I’ll hook up with anyone at this point, so there’s no actual point to dating or flirting.  I still go and do things, even dates, just for the superficial fun factor.  But nothing will come of it so I can just as easily lose the motivation and occupy myself in other ways that seem more enjoyable at the time.  This was an extremely long introduction to explain why I watched Serenity on Sunday.

For those of you not in the know, there was once a TV show called Firefly.  It was basically a western in space.  The idea is not terribly novel, but it was pulled off very well.  I’ve only seen a handful of episodes but I’ve enjoyed them all.  The show was cancelled after it’s first season, but strong DVD sales and fan interest allowed them to justify making a movie which hit theaters last year I believe.  This is Serenity, and might I add that it was awesome.

Basically the movie was a two-part episode, with better special effects and some finality for the series.  I won’t go into the plot, since it’s not easily summarized.  For me the main appeal of the show is the characters, who are each quite interesting in their own respects.  It was great to see them get together in a last adventure.  I’d love to see another movie or series, but have no expectations of this occurring.  But if this was in fact their last hurrah, it was hurrafic.  I’ll give away the vague spoiler that some characters die.  I was so mad when a favorite of mine bit it.  I was more emotionally attached to these characters than any movie I’ve seen recently.  I doubt the effect would be nearly as powerful had I not seen the series previously, but I still think it’s worth noting.

If you’ve seen and liked Firefly then Serenity is a must see.  If you have a means of seeing the show first, I’d highly recommend doing so before viewing the film.  But even if you can’t I still think you’ll enjoy the ride that is Serenity.  It’s even tempting me to see Slither just so I can one of the actors at work in something else.  And that’s saying something.

Song of the moment: “Love Cliché” Bran Van 3000  

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Turning Indian, yes I'm turning Indian, I really think so

For the last few years I’ve been telling myself that I need to read Indian newspapers more often. This morning (in preparation for General Conference of course) I decided to. My efforts were greatly rewarded.



Commitment Issues

I'm currently working on two movies, 4 short stories, 2 poems, 1 country song (weird I know considering I hate country music), 2 articles, and a research paper proposing the use of John Donne to study Mormon doctrine. If I knew what was good for me I'd sit and finish one of these projects. But I don't, so won't. Here's one of my short stories I've just started. Short is a relative term in that I'm on the 15th page and am probably half done.


Song of the moment: "Better Way" by Ben Harper

Saturday, April 01, 2006

PSI: Perpetually Single Individual

If ever there were a formula to make you feel like scum (ie single) this is it: go to both a mission reunion and a wedding reception in one night. If you don’t understand I’ll explain briefly.

Mission reunions have one purpose and one purpose only: to show the other missionaries your wife. You can substitute this with your girlfriend, but even being unsealed is a strike against you. Showing up with a baby gets you extra points. Against my better judgment I showed up to mine sans wife, baby or even girlfriend. At least I have my hair (red though it may be) which some of my contemporaries can no longer claim.

Wedding receptions are horrible things. The free food is great of course, and doubly so when they have chocolate fountains and/or wedding cheesecake. At least this reception had chocolate fountains. But horrible factors include waiting in lines, making small talk with their relatives you don’t care about and will never meet again, and feeling guilty for not giving a gift. This last reason is of course my fault, but it’s been a busy week. Add to the fact that the groom (my old roommate) is considerably younger than I and met his wife shortly after returning from his mission (being bitter that he is from Hawaii and got to go on his mission to Australia is a separate issue) doesn’t help anything. Don’t get me wrong, I love the guy, and his wife as well, and most certainly wish them the best. But going to his reception a couple weeks before leaving the land of potential marriage (in the altered words of Babylon 5: Provo is the last, best hope for marriage) was not a recipe for a healthy self image.

I realize of course that the last couple blog entries paint me as being a horrible person. Perhaps I am. But if I can deal with it so can you.

Song of the night: "Walking with a Ghost" The White Stripes