October 25, 2010


I saw Hereafter this weekend. I liked it, but Jill didn't. She did say it was better than The American, but that can barely be considered an endorsement. Even though I liked it, it wasn't without it's problems:
  • About 1/3 of the movie is subtitled. I know this is so uncultured of me, but sometimes I am just not in the mood for subtitles. I didn't mind them this time, but I wish I had been warned.
  • The music is very heavy-handed and at times annoying.
  • Plot advancements happen via google searches. This shouldn't bother me that much. It's 2010, and people really do base actions and decisions on google searches. But it feels like lazy writing. Maybe it's just forever tainted because it was used in Twilight.
  • The dialogue is often awkward. In a moment of amazement, a character actually says, "Well I'll be."
Listing all of those weaknesses made me wonder why I think I liked it. Maybe I'm greatly underestimating the appeal of Matt Damon. The tsunami scene at the beginning is breathtakingly horrific. Not "I wish I could erase this from my brain" horrific (like some scenes in certain movies). The movie never again reaches the same power as that opening scene, but I thought it was an interesting meditation on what happens to us after we die.

October 18, 2010

The Easy Red Social Town

I've seen like a billion movies since I last updated. What gives? I'm lazy, that's what gives. I saw The Town, The Social Network, Easy A, and RED. See? A billion. So here are the reviews, from my least favorite to my most favorite.

Easy A
Likable protagonist, sometimes funny, but the movie is very overrated. I was expecting something like Clueless - silly contemporary literary adaptation but with Scarlet Letter instead of Emma. I left the theater very disappointed.

I know a guy that refuses to watch movie trailers, because he feels they ruin the movie. I think that guy would like RED a lot more than I did. It was a perfectly fun fluff movie, but it felt like an extended version of the trailer. No surprises, no amazing chase scenes, no commentary on society. (Though there IS a lot of Karl Urban in a suit.) So you'll like the movie exactly as much as you liked the trailer. (Maybe a little more if you like looking at Karl Urban in a suit.)

Srsly, I'm wearing a suit.

The Town
I really liked this movie, but I left the theater disappointed with the scope of it. (Does that even make sense?) The premise, from the trailer, is that this small area of Boston is responsible for a disproportionately high number of bank robberies. That premise has a lot of promise. But it's just a regular bank robbery movie with a little bit of romance. I had a problem with Ben Affleck's character being characterized as the hero. He kills a lot of people breaks a lot of laws, and gets away with it. Am I supposed to be ok with that because of where he comes from? Because of his life circumstance? The movie isn't very clear with that. And Jon Hamm's character would have been a total waste of a character, were it not played by Jon Hamm. But it was, so no complaints. Overall, the movie was intense and entertaining, with great bank heist/car chase intensity.

The Social Network
Loved this movie. (Just pretend that it's not half fiction.) I like that it never really tells you what to think of Mark Zuckerburg. It makes judgments on all other characters (that scene with the twins and dean was AWESOME), but you never really feel comfortable coming to any conclusions about Mark. Is he good or is he evil? Mostly evil, right? He deals with his deep insecurity over being excluded and marginalized by society by creating his own society... and then using it to excluding and marginalize the people who were his actual friends. Very interesting movie. Great dialogue, excellent music and cinematography, and good pacing. I loved the actor that played the twins. They were my favorite characters.

September 29, 2010

But which bar is ME?!

I present to you, the most confusing bar graph in the history of bar graphs. (The long, sordid history of bar graphs.)

I scored somewhere between better than 93% of the public and below 3% of the public. Out of 15 questions. I'm higher than better, but less than below, but only of 3%. Using math, I've deduced that my bar is 4%... of something. I just want to know how much better I am than other people, in the form of concrete statistical proof. Is that too much to ask?

Take the quiz. It's fun and churchy. (I know, redundant.) I scored 3 degrees less than one half of the minority population, taking into account the average mass of a small dog. What did you score?

September 23, 2010

Something to read

I love this post. (I love most posts by this author, but this one is especially nice.)

September 7, 2010

Hey, boss

If you hang out with Jill and me for an extended period of time (YOU SHOULD BE SO LUCKY!), you will likely hear one of the following phrases:

"Indeed, top hat."
"I'm so omnommy."
"Oh no, tubes!"

These are a few of our own personal idioms. They succinctly express things like: "What I just said was kind of pointless, and a little bit passive aggressive, but let's not let things get tense." Or: "Aren't my sudden moments of insecurity awkward and hilarious?" And sometimes: "Holy crap, this conversation has gotten so stupid that we might as well be hillbillies sitting barefoot in a mud puddle, picking our teeth with straw, talking about all the different types of meat we like to eat." I can usually remember how each particular phrase/made-up word came to mean what it now means, but they've become so ingrained in our daily lexicon that they're less about the story that became the phrase and more about our shared history and emotional understanding.

Here's how a phrase or word becomes an inside idiom. Last week, I was telling Jill about this youtube video of a woman throwing her neighbor's cat in the garbage. Some self-ordained internet posse took it upon themselves to track this woman down and harass her for her heinous crime against humanity. Well, against cats. Catmanity. I was telling Jill the things they did to her, like post her real address and phone number online, spam her email accounts, and call her boss. Jill stopped me here and demanded explanation, "They called her boss?" I confirmed it. She got a weird look on her face, but let me continue with the story. She said internet people were weird, but admitted, "I guess that would get annoying. A bunch of people calling you "boss" over and over again." I clarified that they called her employer, but we were already laughing at the misunderstanding. Laughing quite uproariously, while acting out the bully tactic of calling someone "boss."

And thus "Hey, boss" (said in a menacing, taunting tone) was born. It's also appropriately used in im-chat as "BOSS" at the end of a sentence. It means: "I'm teasing you, but in a light-hearted silly way."

September 5, 2010

The American

Jill and I saw The American last night, the spy movie with George Clooney. (George Clooney was with the movie, not Jill and me. In case anyone was confused.) I can't really spoil this movie, because there was NO PLOT. If anyone ever writes a screenplay that includes several long scenes of the male protagonist sitting alone in a room, thinking about his troubled past, that movie must star George Clooney. Jill broke the movie down into seven scenes: George Clooney sitting alone in a room thinking, George Clooney building a gun, George Clooney listening to a priest talk while he sits silently and thinks, George Clooney driving a car (all the while thinking), George Clooney with a beautiful woman, George Clooney walking in the dark thinking he's being followed, and George Clooney on the phone. Create about 5-6 variations of each of those scenes, shuffle them in random order, and you've got the very boring movie I saw last night.

August 30, 2010

Voldemort is not the bad guy

Yes, another post, but Harry Potter was slighted in my comments and I must avenge his honor! Not really, but a commenter presented an interesting observation about the Harry Potter saga that I think warrants interesting discussion. (I will mention some book 7 spoilers, if you care.)

Chad said:
The magic stuff and basic story elements are fine enough but the bad guy is terribly boring. He's like a villain from Captain Planet or something. "Blast, foiled again because I do not understand basic concepts of love, friendship and turning the water off while brushing my teeth!"

This comment is funny, but I think it misses the point. Voldemort is not the bad guy in Harry Potter, in my opinion. Voldemort is the personification of pure evil. The "bad guys" are the ones that are seduced by Voldemort's (evil's) promises of greatness and power. The worst offender is Bellatrix LeStrange. She is just about as cartoon-evil as Voldemort himself. But all other bad guys are varying shades of gray.

J.K. Rowling does some really interesting things with the concept of "bad guys" throughout her series. We first meet Voldemort in book 1 physically attached to Professor Quirrel. Our first introduction to the "bad guy" has him completely consuming one of his followers. I think this is significant. The true power of Voldemort is his influence over those that follow him.

We see him again in book 2 as Tom Riddle, before he became Voldemort. His "bad guy" status isn't readily apparent, but like in book 1, he only gains power when someone willingly opens up to him. Rowling shows us that even Ginny Weasley, who throughout the rest of the series is completely good (in an awesome, kick-ass kind of way), is vulnerable to Voldemort's power. Ginny's weakness was her insecurity and fear, and evil preys on our weakness. Book 1 shows us that the danger of Voldemort lies in his influence over people, and book 2 shows us how easy it is to allow that influence to consume you.

By the time Voldemort comes into full power, I think Rowling has presented a wide range of bad guys. The Dursleys, Gilderoy Lockhart, Sirius Black, Lucius Malfoy, Peter Pettigrew, Severus Snape, Draco Malfoy, Barty Crouch Jr., Cornelius Fudge... these are the bad guys. But even the worst bad guys have redeeming moments of love, friendship, and loyalty. One of my favorite moments in the series is in book 7, when Voldemort asks Narcissa to see if Harry Potter is alive. She lies. Not because she has any change of heart, but because she loves her son. As Sirius says in Order of the Phoenix, "the world isn't split into good people and Death Eaters." He was talking about Dolores Umbridge, of course. A perfect example of how sometimes the very worst bad guys work for the "good" side.

There is no personification of good in the book. Lily Potter comes close. The power of her love goes head-to-head with the power of Voldemort, and I can't think of any character flaws. But besides Lily, all of the other good guys are just as imperfect as the bad guys. Even Dumbledore has his serious flaws and regrets, as we learn in book 7. The heroes of the book all have their less-than heroic moments: Ginny Weasley opens the chamber of secrets, James Potter severely bullies Snape, Remus Lupin nearly kills a bunch of people as a werewolf, Sirius Black almost causes Snape's death and is extremely cruel to his house elf, Ron Weasley abandons his friends in a fit of jealousy, and even Harry Potter gets so obsessed with the deathly hallows that his carelessness leads to the group's capture, Hermoine getting tortured, and Dobby getting killed. These aren't small mistakes, they are bad enough to make them the bad guys in small snapshots of the overall story.

One of the best things about Harry Potter, in my opinion, is that it blurs the line between good and evil. But it does it in a very subtle way. For the most part, you know the good guys and you know the bad guys. (Except for Snape, until the very end.) Voldemort is not a subtle or nuanced bad guy, but his affect on the bad guys and the good guys is subtle, ambiguous, and devastating. It's what drives the books. How do we deal with evil? What does it look like when we encounter it? Can we recognize it? Can we recognize it in ourselves?

(p.s. In Chad's defense, he's only judging Harry Potter by the movies. I'm sure if he read the books, he'd be totes bees.)

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Holy cow two posts in one day. After 20 days of no posts even. It's almost like I'm avoiding something I don't like doing... but I can't imagine what that would be, in the middle of a rainy Monday morning.

Movie review time! I saw Scott Pilgrim vs. the World on Saturday. I wanted to see this movie two weeks ago, but a return appearance of Tubes! (Jill's arch-nemesis) foiled those plans. SPOILERS AHEAD. BE YE WARNED.

The best part of this movie was Michael Cera's whiny pouting. And I even thought I was starting to get sick of him. I was wrong! He has emo-whiny pouting down to an art. I am trying to perfect his delivery of "but...it's haaaard," slouching halfway down a chair, wallowing in my own abject despair, complaining about my non-problems. I wallow in abject despair at my own non-problems ALL THE TIME, so it's very useful to learn how to do it properly. Today I've already used this new skill to whine about the following things: you can't seem to find long straight skirts at stores anymore, I'm not wearing a giant sombrero, people can see my face, Harry Potter isn't real and I'm not magic, I have a headache, people keep talking to me, it's not raining, it's raining, and the expectation from society that I take a shower every single day. These are very serious non-problems and I'm glad this movie has shown me how to effectively complain about them.

The worst part of this movie was the choice at the end. Scott has to choose between Knives and Ramona, and I don't know enough about why he liked either girl to really care much about which one he chose. But I still felt like he was picking the wrong girl, at least according to the movie. The most recent fight scene seemed to be saying that Scott and Knives were the best team, but then he goes off with Ramona? Like I said, I don't know enough about why Scott even liked Knives (other than the fact that she looked like an anime character... and I guess anime characters are hawt?) to care that he didn't chose her, but it did feel like the movie itself was pulling the Knives to prevail. And I didn't buy that she suddenly didn't care if Scott left her for Ramona.

Overall, good movie. It was really fun to watch, and very funny throughout. But there was something missing with character development. I enjoyed watching the characters, but didn't care much about what happened to them.

Aw man. It's raining again, but not raining enough. *pout* Why can't I just get exactly what I want every moment of every day? Is that too much to ask? Why is life so hard?

How Jamie Learns About the World

I've completely dropped the ball on those Monday Morning Memory memes. Big surprise to all of you who know me, I'm sure. Jill is especially disappointed, I'm guessing. So to make up for it, here are several short memories where I learn something new about the world. (And I promise, the titles of these stories may make you nervous, but you have absolutely nothing to worry about.)

Jamie Learns About Lesbians: Jill and I were riding her bike. Well, Jill was pumping and I was sitting on the seat, cracking a whip demanding she go faster. (Kidding! It was totally loving and tender. Maybe a little too loving and tender.) We pass some boy from school and he shouts at us "You guys are lesbians!" Not knowing what he was talking about, but sensing it was an insult, I yelled back, "So are you!"
Scene: Later that day, Jamie sitting in the kitchen with her mom.

Jamie: Mom, what's a lesbian?

Mom: You don't need to know that.

Jamie: [leaves the room to find the dictionary]

Jamie Learns About Masturbation: I'm about 11, trying to blend into the background while the grown-ups talk about things. The current grown-up topic: the Michael Jackson trial. Pretending to be invisible and eavesdropping on adult conversations was one of my favorite hobbies as a kid. This eavesdropping session the grown-ups used a new word, saying it in hushed tones while stealing furtive glances at the girl on the couch pretending not to be listening.
Scene: Later that day, Jamie sitting in the kitchen with her mom.

Jamie: Mom, what does masturbate mean?

Mom: You don't need to know that.

Jamie: [leaves the room to find the dictionary]

Jamie Learns About the "F-Word": It's the first day of 7th grade and a kid in the hall yells an unfamiliar word that starts with "f." I spin around and gasp in shock. (I think I may have pointed as well.) Could this be that "f-word" I've heard so much about?
Scene: Later that day, Jamie sitting in the kitchen with her mom.

Jamie: Mom, does the f-word rhyme with "duck?"

Mom: You don't need to know that.

Jamie: [leaves the room to find the dictionary]

Jamie Learns About Polygamy: In 7th grade (again), girls in the P.E. locker room joke about how one girl is a "lesbian polygamist." Thanks to my trusty sex-ed teacher (the dictionary), I know what a lesbian is, but I'm not sure about "polygamist." And I'm sure I've heard this word before.
Scene: Later that day, Jamie sitting in the kitchen with her mom.

Jamie: Mom, what's a polygamist?

Mom: You don't need to know that.

Jamie: [leaves the room to find the dictionary]

The dictionary was useful only about half of the time, and I'm very glad I didn't have the internet as a child. "Dictionary" would be replaced with "google" and even though I thought I wanted to know everything, there were some things I really didn't need to know. Some of those ages and dates are a little embarrassing to admit, but "embarrassing to admit" could be the title of a movie based on my entire pre-teen/teen life. When you are the oldest kid in a sheltered Mormon home, growing up with mostly Mormon friends, some things just take a little longer to figure out.

August 10, 2010

I just wrote a book

In less than five minutes. Well, the premise to a book, but with a premise this strong, the book pretty much writes itself. Here it is, tell me what you think. (Be honest, but only if you think it's awesome.)
In a neo-noir one-way spaceflight, a young techno-obsessed geek stumbles across a time-traveling soldier which spurs him into conflict with a profit-obsessed corporation, with the help of a shape-shifting female assassin and her reference book, culminating in wish-fulfillment solutions to real-world problems.
You can write one too. Just go here. Or if you are really lazy and less concerned about the details of your book, go here. My favorite bad guy? Computer viruses made real. I don't know why, but that sounds like the coolest villain ever. How did they get real? What do they look like? What happens when they infect humans? (I didn't pick it for my story because I have an artistic hyphenated-word theme going on. It's a metaphor for the way the characters feel about each other, or something.)

August 4, 2010

Deep Blue

I walk in the cemetery, minutes after sunset. I watch the lightning over the Salt Lake Valley. The city lights slowly brighten as the wild sky darkens. It’s not a picturesque rolling thunder storm, with majestic hues of deep blue and purple. It’s a hasty smear across the sky, the color of a massive bruise. Like the one that covered half of my thigh the entire summer of 1994, after the fall down the water slide. Brown and black with a fleshy orange undertone from the lingering sunlight. Lightning flashes in quick bursts, behind the Wasatch mountains, above the ball park, over the lake. I hear no thunder over the pulsing bass of the The Suburbs.

I open a new google doc, to write this all down before I take a shower. I read last night’s document, my scripture journal, where I wrote about doubt and fear and starting on a new spiritual path. I re-read my self-assigned study topic from last night: to re-read the reaction of King Benjamin’s people after his prophetic address and ponder on my reaction to the “fear of the Lord [that] had come upon them.” Nine years ago my reaction to those verses had triggered my first true conversion to religion. I re-read it today and wonder what’s it like to know something wild or to truly feel fear.

July 30, 2010

July 27, 2010


I saw this on opening day and have been mulling over my response to it. I've read a large variety of reactions to the movie. Some think it's the best movie ever and several internet-crazy fandoms (are there any other kind?) dedicated to this movie and its characters have sprung up over night. Some feel an overwhelming desire to notify everyone to the movie's mediocrity and document, in detail, their profound personal disappointment. I have difficulty figuring out my own opinion in the face of such conflicting impassioned opinions.

It's an excellent summer action movie, but even that doesn't quite describe it. Either (1) action movies have become so crappy and lame that when we get a genuinely good action movie, it feels like the best movie ever; or (2) it isn't accurate to describe this as an "action" movie, it's really more of a "thriller." (See, according to my arbitrary movie classification rules, thrillers can be and often are much better than action movies. Action movies = chick flick. Thriller = serious drama.) I'm leaning towards option 1. I think the backlash to the film was that it was advertised as a mind-bending thriller, when really it's a well-made movie with excellent action sequences, an original plot and good acting. Nothing was particularly mind-bending, and very little was emotionally involving.

This conclusion doesn't mean I didn't like it. I liked it a lot, actually. And I can recognize that it has that mysterious element that makes a movie, book, or comic book so much more susceptible to fan hysteria. Twilight has it. Harry Potter has it. The Matrix has it. Maybe it's the fantasy element? Thinking about it now, maybe it's the promise an alternate reality existing right in our backyard. All we have to do is fall asleep (or wake up, or get an owl-delivered letter, or make eye-contact with the hot vampire in the cafeteria), and endless possibilities are open to us.

I feel like I'm rambling aimlessly, so here's a list of things I particularly liked, and a few things I didn't. (Warning: Spoilers ahead!)

  • The movie elicits audience participation, it leaves a little room for debate. The ending with top just starting to wobble was great.
  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt and that entire no-gravity fight sequence.
  • I liked the time difference between dream levels.
  • Tom Hardy. Who is he and why has he not been in more movies?
  • This movie is not a remake, prequel, adaptation, or sequel. It's actually a unique story, and an interesting one.
  • The movie expects you to pay attention. It doesn't recap or dumb down. If they've said it once, they're done and moving on.
  • The movie was complex, but not too twisty. No sudden shockers that make you re-evaluate everything you've seen already. I like twists, but in a movie this complex, I appreciated that it was fairly straight-forward. (Though I did spend the entire movie trying to predict how the rug was going to be pulled out from under me. Was Cobb the one really being inceptioned? Was the entire heist an elaborate hoax to steal something from Cobb's mind?)

Didn't like:
  • The snow action scene. Skiing and guns? Meh.
  • The reason for the inception felt kind of weak. I get why Leonardo DiCaprio went through with it, but all of those other people? To prevent an energy monopoly? Lame.
  • The characters were all pretty flat. Even Leo. This is the second movie in a row that he's been grieving a dead wife. Speaking of which, out of the five Chris Nolan movies I've seen, four have the main character grieving over a dead love interest. Memento, The Prestige, The Dark Knight, and now Inception. (Five out of five if you count Bruce Wayne grieving over the loss of his parents, in Batman Begins.) If I were Chris Nolan's wife, I'd be slightly concerned.
  • There were a few logic fails that I haven't been able to reconcile. In dream level 1 (the city in the rain), the fall into the water is enough of a kick, but the van flipping over isn't? Shouldn't Joseph Gordon-Levitt at least wake up at that point? If no gravity in dream level 1 means no gravity in dream level 2 (hotel), then how is there gravity in all the deeper levels? It's not as if there really was no gravity; they were in the airplane the entire time and were just dreaming that there was no gravity. None of these were really enough to take me out of the story, but when I'm discussing it afterward (as this movie demands that you do), I prefer a movie where everything makes sense, no matter how complicated the story.

I always underestimate how incredibly fun a great action movie can be. I really enjoyed watching this movie. I felt the same way leaving the theater after watching the most recent James Bond movies. It was an exhilarating ride that was immensely entertaining. I look forward to seeing it again.

July 9, 2010

Movie Review Catch-up

Toy Story 3 - The Incredibles is my most favorite pixar movie, but The Toy Story Saga (shut up, Twilight, you don't own that word) is a very close second. Mr. Tortilla Head was hilarious and creepy. (What is the essence of a person, really? Is he just a collection of parts? Would he exist if just one detachable body part remained? Can Mr. Potato Head really be Mr. Potato Head without the potato?) This movie is just as good as the other two.

Twilight: Eclipse - So hey, I actually kinda liked this one. Where has Jasper been all this time? He needs his own movie. And no Edward flashback? Boo. About that engagement ring: Jill knew a woman that was Stephenie Meyer's cousin's wife (or something) who made wedding rings that she claimed Stephenie Meyer approved as the "official" Bella engagement ring. It looked nothing like that giant sparkly egg. The woman Jill knew had to stop making them, by order of Stephenie's lawyers. Producing and selling that ring were her and her husband's primary source of income. Seeing an ad for Bella's "official" engagement ring made me wonder how awkward those family reunions must be. Would that woman's customers all demand refunds? Has she gone bankrupt? It made me wonder what it really does to a family to have someone become extremely famous. How many extended relatives expect to leach off of your success? What is your obligation to a distant relative who makes a living off of your work?

Back to the movie, it was entertaining and not nearly as cringe-inducing as I anticipated. It was also much better than Last Airbender.

The Last Airbender - This movie got beat up pretty bad by critics, but it's not as bad as they say it is. It's not good, but I was entertained and somewhat intrigued. The acting was Star Wars: Episode 1-3 level bad, but the story is interesting. I hadn't watched the cartoon before, so I could easily get distracted by plot. And I don't know why the critics are calling the movie "ugly"... I thought it was very pretty. But then they probably had to watch it in 3D and this was yet another movie that outsourced their 3D after the movie was finished. Quit doing that Hollywood! No one wants to pay MORE money for an uglier movie. If you see this, definitely see it in 2D.

June 21, 2010

Monday Morning Memory: 2nd Grade Trauma

For this Monday Morning Memory, I will recount my most traumatic memory from second grade, possibly from all of elementary school. Like most of my pre-adult traumas, the entire situation is blown out of proportion and largely my own fault. My teacher was Mrs. Noonan. My mom had written a note to excuse me from gym class - I had a little bit of a sore throat and a lotta bit of not wanting to do whatever activity was going on that day in gym class. I gave the note to Mrs. Noonan and she told me to remind her about it as we left for P.E., because she'd probably forget. We line up for P.E., and Mrs. Noonan seems to have forgotten. Here's my big moment. I'm standing in line, desperately hoping Mrs. Noonan remembers, knowing that I'm supposed to speak up and remind her. Anything involving "speaking up" was not possible for me at eight years old. So I walk to the gym with my class, knowing that the P.E. teacher (Mrs. Sychee) is expecting me to participate.

During that long walk to the gym, I grow increasingly anxious over my situation. What if Mrs. Sychee realizes I'm not in my gym shoes!? (Unlike my non-gym sneakers, my gym shoes had WHITE laces.) If I just participate, what if Mrs. Noonan realizes she forgot the note? She'll think I wasn't really sick! If I tell Mrs. Sychee the situation, she'll wonder why I didn't remind Mrs. Noonan. If I just say nothing, I'll have to participate in P.E. today! With a small sore throat!

We finally get to the gym and I have a fool-proof plan. See yesterday, one of the girls in the class had to sit out because she twisted her ankle. All I have to do is tell Mrs. Sychee that I hurt my leg (obviously I couldn't say ankle because that would be too obvious), and she'll let me sit out. I don't know why or how, but I was confident that would solve all of my problems.

Turns out saying "my leg hurts and I need to sit out" gets me sent to the nurse's office. Panic begins to set in. I try desperately to come up with some story to get me out of this mess, but by the time I get to the nurse's office, I just burst into tears. I confess everything. I'm sure I make no sense (how do you describe that problem in a way that makes sense?), and the nurse walks me back to my classroom to hand me off to Mrs. Noonan. Exasperated, she asks me why I didn't just remind her? Mrs. Sychee wants to know why I didn't just explain the situation? For the rest of the day, my answer to any question is to simply burst into tears. (This becomes my default coping mechanism for most elementary school "problems." Like that time I forgot my math book. Or the time my book order was delayed. And that time I didn't finish coloring in my worksheet.) Most traumatic day ever.

June 20, 2010

New Music: Albums

Enjoy some new (to me) music from albums I've recently purchased.

"Bloodbuzz Ohio"
from High Violet, by The National

"Dancing in a Minefield"
from Pins and Panzers, by Plushgun

"Wide Eyes"
from Gorilla Manor, by Local Natives

"Love Like a Sunset II"
from Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, by Phoenix

"Just Listen"
from Sirens of the Sea, by OceanLab

June 17, 2010

Prince of Persia and Karate Kid

I need to catch up on my movie reviews before I see Toy Story 3. (Yay! Toy Story 3!)

Prince of Persia - Imagine Pirates of the Caribbean without Johnny Depp. Sure, Jake Gyllenhaal is great (as is Orlando Bloom). But a movie like this really really needs a Johnny Depp (if not the Johnny Depp).Unsolicited spoilery feminist critique: Besides spectacularly failing the Bechdal-Wallace rule, any epiphany, experience, or character growth is stolen away from the only female character by the end of movie. Jake Gyllenhaal sands-of-times back to the beginning of the movie, and it ends with an arranged marriage planned between him and the only woman in all of Persia. The entire movie was spent showing that woman getting over her initial dislike and slowly falling in love with him. But none of that matters. She gets to marry a total stranger. Apparently, all that matters is that the man knows they were in love.

The Karate Kid - I have much less to say about this movie. It was predictable but cute. A tiny bit too long, but I enjoyed watching it.

June 14, 2010

Monday Morning Memory

Since I so enjoyed the little trip down memory lane regarding socks in the pool, I thought I'd share another random memory. Maybe I'll make it a thing: every Monday morning, post a random memory.

In 10th grade creative writing, I wrote a poem about a homeless man dying on a bench one winter morning. It was called "All But One." Every stanza ended with "all but one." It was fancy literary device, and I was quite proud out it. The last stanza told about how everyone woke up from their warm beds that morning. All but one. My friends thought it was so awesome, it made them all cry, and they demanded my teacher read it immediately. The next day, our lesson in creative writing was about avoiding sentimentality in writing. He urged us, at this stage of our writing at least, to avoid topics like dead babies, car accidents, and homeless people. The message didn't fully take, in high school I wrote stories about a girl's mom who had an affair then died, an old woman who sat alone in a sad corner forgotten by her family, and two kids who almost died as a direct result of defacing a haunted tree. But I have never written another poem or story about a homeless man.

June 13, 2010


Remember jellies? Apparently, they are back in.

The pink ones were always the best, followed closely by clear.

Of all the silly clothes from my childhood, I'd have never guessed these would be back in. Jellies were my official pool shoes. Now, I realize that most people do not wear shoes in the pool. But my mom was weird. She insisted we not go barefoot in the pool, lest we blister up our feet on the rough cement pool floor. My grandma's house in Idaho had a pool, and every summer vacation was spent there. So every summer, it was either socks in the pool, or jellies. For a few summers, we actually did have to wear socks, because our other shoe options were not waterproof. (But socks are?) Try swimming in a pair of socks. It doesn't work. The socks do not want to be worn in pool, so they will slowly roll off of your foot. Socks, you see, are reasonable. They realize it is ridiculous to be worn in the pool. Or maybe they think they're in the washing machine and are obeying their natural instinct to separate and be lost forever. Or maybe they have no human qualities at all. We'll never know. What I do know is that jellies were the far superior footwear for swimming.

May 24, 2010

The Joneses: Movie Review

Who can resist a movie where David Duchovny is being adorable?

This movie was just okay. The premise is that four salespeople pose as a family in an affluent neighborhood and "self-market" specific products. The movie set-up some really interesting discussion topics, but didn't really push the ideas far enough. The movie ended up turning into a basic "will they get together" plot, which was disappointing.

There were a couple of ideas I wish the movie had explored further. (Major spoilers ahead.)

David Duchovny's character (Steve) spends a lot of his energy marketing all of his new toys to his next door neighbor. Steve doesn't know that the neighbor is already in severe debt and can't afford to buy a rider lawn mower with a television attached. So the neighbor gets increasingly discouraged trying to keep up with Steve Jones and his infinite ability to buy expensive things. The neighbor refuses to talk to his wife about it, and eventually drives his fancy lawn mower into the pool and kills himself. A similar thing happens with the son's friend. She gets in a car accident after leaving a party drunk on the wine juice packs the son was trying to market.

The movie suggests that the suicide and the car accident are The Jones's fault. I think the whole idea of self-marketing is at best morally questionable, but what about personal responsibility? Whose fault is it really that people buy more than they can afford? Or succumb to peer pressure and get too drunk to drive? There's no discussion in the movie, it's the Jones's fault.

Another idea I liked was about living an authentic life. If you buy all the props of success and happiness, does that make you successful and happy? How much of our identity is defined by the things we buy? The Joneses aren't a real family biologically, but they end up coming together and functioning like a real family by the end. If you pretend something is real for long enough, does that make it real? Like the other idea, the movie just hints at this idea, but doesn't really delve into it enough to say anything interesting.

Even though the tone and style are completely different, this movie reminded me of the tv series Mad Men. Mad Men explores the ideas above, but in a much subtler and more powerful way. I think what ultimately disappointed me about this movie was that it had so much potential, but it couldn't rise to the challenge and deliver.

Also, the movie seemed to think its audience didn't know the premise going in. The premise that this was a fake family was clearly spelled out by the trailers, but they wasted the first quarter of the movie trying to freak the audience out, assuming they'd think it was a real family. Creepy things... like having the daughter hit on the dad. If I didn't know the premise going in, it would have been incredibly disturbing.

P.S. I did see Iron Man 2, but I'm really not going to review it. I enjoyed it, but it's exactly what you think it will be. I'm longing for a really good movie that exceeds expectations. I'm looking forward to Prince of Persia, Inception, and The Last Airbender (formally known as Avatar).

May 20, 2010

I need a Cheering Charm

I saw Iron Man 2, but I don't feel like reviewing it. The Survivor season finished, but I don't feel like talking about it. Everyone around me is still obnoxious, but I'm not in the mood to properly mock it. I told Jill the other day that it feels like there are dementors roaming around lately and she reminded me that I am a huge Harry Potter nerd.

Other things I have said to Jill that indicate my Harry Potter nerdism:
  • [While on a moving walkway at the airport] "I like to walk on these and imagine someone is watching me on a Marauder's map thinking 'how is she moving so fast?!'"
  • [After a particularly great day or event.] "That was almost Patronus-level good."
  • "Accio remote!" (This hasn't worked. Yet.)
  • "Imagine he's a boggart and mentally Riddikulus him into something hilarious." (As a way to get through an excruciatingly boring meeting with a particularly obnoxious presenter. My favorite Riddikulus charm turns them into a Survivor contestant, crouching in the bushes giving a heart-felt confessional.)
  • "If I were wearing a horcrux, I'd probably quit my job over this. I just need to take a xanax. It's no sword of Gryffindor, but it'll have to do."

Ok, so that last one is a bit emo. I blame the demetors! Maybe I need to eat more chocolate.

May 3, 2010

Please Let Me Differ!!!

During our daily heavily-work-related chats, Jill said the following: "(2:58 PM) Jill: a chart or table isn't always the best way to organize information." I beg to differ. Note my previous blog entry. Now note these lovely graphs:

How is that NOT a better way to relay information?

eta: Best graph ever, btw. srsly.

April 29, 2010

800 miles later

I was in Vegas for a few days (celebrating Jill's golden birthday - she turned 27 on the 27th), but I'm too lazy to blog about it. So you can read about Day 1 and Day 2 at Jill's blog. There are pictures! Day 3 was meant to be the chill-by-the-pool-all-day day, but the crazy wind turned it into watch-law-and-order-marathon-in-the-hotel day. Yes, that's lame, but it's still better than work!

April 23, 2010

Subject weird

I know... I haven't posted in forever. I have nothing to say, but I did just get an email from my mom. This is always a random highlight at work for me. My mom is weird (aren't all moms?), and her sudden email epiphanies are always very enjoyable for me.

From: Jamie's mom
Sent: Friday, April 23, 2010 11:35 AM
To: Jamie
Subject: weird
I think it's weird that today is my 29th anniversary and I forgot about it. MOM

From: Jamie's mom
Sent: Wednesday, April 21, 2010 11:32 AM
To: Jamie; Jill; Carly; Caitlin
Subject: Fwd: Jill's Birthday
I wasn't sure if Grammy send this you all of you. MOM
----- Forwarded Message -----
From: Jamie's Grammy
To: Jamie; Jill; Carly; Caitlin; Jamie's mom
Sent: Wednesday, April 21, 2010 10:13:18 AM
Subject: Jill's Birthday

From: Jamie's mom
Sent: Wednesday, January 27, 2010 12:17 PM
To: Jamie
Subject: unbelievable
Guess what happened to me on my walk today???A FRICKIN BIRD FLEW RIGHT INTO MY HEAD!!! Creepy. MOM

From: Jamie's mom
Sent: Monday, January 25, 2010 12:24 PM
To: Jamie
Subject: your water color pics
Jame-Do you have any idea where I put your watercolor pictures you painted that used to be on the dining room table? MOM

That last one is my favorite. I haven't been home for over a month, but she still believes I'd know where she put something. Because I created it. Over ten years ago. I also like to imagine her shouting her name after relaying the urgent message.

April 12, 2010

Crisis of Twitter

Who do I believe? The church or Wil Wheaton? WHY would twitter make me choose?

My eleven-year-old self may have been in love with you Ensign Crusher, but I think I'll have to go with my religion. Despite its unimpressive, over-generalized proof. *gulps down third can of Dr. Pepper*

April 4, 2010

Sometimes I read books

Along with my movie reviews and my semi-frequent Survivor recaps, I figured it wouldn't hurt to throw in a few book reviews. I read a lot less often than I should, but I do manage to tear myself away from the television/computer/movie screens long enough to read some books. Here are reviews for the last two book I read. Book reviews will not have serious spoilers.

A Wizard of Earthsea, by Ursula K. LeGuin
I can usually categorize most fantasy into two groups: plot-driven fantasy and character-driven fantasy. All novels have elements of both, but fantasy novels seem to be dominated by one or the other. I prefer character-driven fantasy. I'd consider Harry Potter to be character-driven. Plot is certainly a key element, but the main draw is the investment you have in the characters. I'd consider Lord of the Rings to be plot-driven. It certainly has memorable characters, but the reader feels somewhat removed from them. The draw is the adventure, or the quest. For all books, not just fantasy, I much prefer character-driven stories. A Wizard of Earthsea is a book that I'd consider to be plot-driven. It wasn't ever hard to put the book down (which means it took me forever to finish it), and there were some action sequences that felt especially long. But in all the books I've read by Ursula LeGuin, there are potent moments, images and ideas that make the long action scenes totally worth it. Here's an example of one of those moments. The main character, Ged, has performed a spell that nearly killed him. The people nearby take him to his home, where he lies unconscious. He finally wakes up when his pet otak (a little squirrel-like animal) licks the wounds on his face.
"Later, when Ged thought back upon that night, he knew that had none touched him when he lay thus spirit-lost, had none called him back in some way, he might have been lost for good. It was only the dumb instinctive wisdom of the beast who licks his hurt companion to comfort him, and yet in that wisdom Ged saw something akin to his own power, something that went as deep as wizardry. From that time forth he believed that the wise man is one who never sets himself apart from other living things whether they have speech or not, and in later years he strove long to learn what can be learned, in silence, from the eyes of animals, the flight of birds, the great slow gestures of trees."
It's just a small relatively-inconsequential paragraph in the novel, but it contains a sudden exquisite moment of insight that will stay will me for a long time. So although the novel was somewhat slow reading, I enjoyed it and look forward to reading the sequel.

A Mercy, by Toni Morrison
This is one of the best books I've ever read, and gets pretty close to being a favorite. (Though I can't imagine book will surpass Mama Day by Gloria Naylor, this one is certainly close.) This book is also a little hard to get into, because Morrison plunges you right into the end of the story, then slowly builds back up to that point. The story is set in the 1600's in colonial America, and follows several characters that are all slaves, literally or figuratively. The main characters are also all orphans; some violently uprooted from their communities, some cast away by their own families. They are trying to survive alone in a new world. The book explores slavery, motherhood, and what it means to be cut off from your roots. Even though it is difficult to get into initially, once you're a couple of chapters in, you are immersed in the world and fascinated by the characters. The end is heart-breaking and haunting. As I tried to fall asleep after reading it, I kept having imaginary conversations with my mom in my head. A Mercy is a beautifully written book, and I'm sure I will read it again many times.

Coming soon... I started reading The Last Days of Dogtown by Anita Diamant, but was severely disappointed by it. I tried to push through, to give the book a chance (even though it had a description of someone's "winking nipples"), but I had to give up when one chapter was told from the point of view of a dog. There's only so much I can take. I really liked The Red Tent, also by Anita Diamant, so I was disappointed that this book wasn't very good. I have quite a few books on my "to read" list, but I'm not sure where to go next. I have the Earthsea sequel, a couple of recommended YA books, and some thrillers by Jill's favorite authors. I am also always open to suggestions, if you have a good book recommendation.

March 29, 2010

How to Train Your Dragon

No spoilers in this post.

I saw this in 2D. While I don't like paying more for 3D or wearing glasses for an entire 3D movie, there is something I do like about 3D. When a movie is designed in 3D, it feels like they pay more attention to movement. So even in 2D, the movie feels more exhilarating. This was definitely true in How to Train Your Dragon. This was a fantastic movie, probably the best one I've seen all year so far. The characters are endearing and you become invested in them right away. The plot is fairly conventional, but there were a few developments that I didn't expect. The best part of the movie are the emotional moments. Because you care about the characters and because the film is beautifully crafted, the moments of discovery or insight or betrayal are very compelling and powerful. I highly recommend this movie.

March 23, 2010

Ramona Quimby

They are making a movie based on the Ramona books. These are the first books I remember reading, ever. I wanted SO BADLY to be Ramona Quimby. In elementary school, my friends always told me I looked just like her, but I knew I was nowhere near that cool.

Things I remember from the books: Ramona turned the letter "Q" from "Quimby" into a cat. I tried to figure out a cute picture for the letter "S" from "Saunders" but snakes are not as cute as cats. I remember the part where her mom told her to leave for school at a "quarter after" the hour, and Ramona figured that must mean 25 minutes after, because a quarter is 25 cents. I remember her friend, the blonde boy with the curly hair. (Howie!) More than anything, I remember Ramona's frequent frustration with the world around her, and her desperate need to understand it and be accepted by it. When I read stories, more than anything, I read for character. Ramona Quimby was the first character I remember making friends with. I hope the movie does her justice.

Here's the trailer:

March 17, 2010

A Very Important Rant

St. Patrick's Day edition! Let me warn you: I'm really going to let my emo bitter contempt for humanity fly in this one. It's a rare peek into my intj brain, so if you'd like to take some pictures, go right ahead.

It is really pathetic to look around the office and see everyone wearing green. We all know that the hours spend in a cubical farm are bleak and joyless. Do we really need to all be wearing reminders of that fact? It's worse than Hawaiian shirt day. Hawaiian shirt day has at least gained a certain level of socially-accepted pathetic tragedy that only the truly deluded office workers even participate. St. Patrick's day has yet to get to that enviable point. So not only do I have to wake up before 6 am, take a shower, wear clean clothes, go to work, and sit at a desk for 9 hours pretending to care deeply about something I have no real investment in, I have to wear something green.

Then there are those that purposely don't wear green. The people that are so desperate for attention, yet so pathetically lacking of any interesting qualities that they need to engineer overly-contrived conversation starters to get people to even notice them. They don't even care that the forced attention is given through obvious contempt. Mere attention is validation enough. Being looked at and talked to is all these people need to feel valued by society, because their definition of "value" is so skewed by lonely years of social isolation. I don't care how many girls ignored you in high school, it is never okay to ask me anything about what I'm wearing. And I resent the stupid holiday that makes people think it is.

You know what the threat of pinching really is? It is the threat that a stranger will cross the boundaries of social-acceptability. If a stranger is allowed to pinch me, what else is he allowed to do? For one day, people who enjoy this kind of boundary-crossing physical contact get some sense of authority. What kind of sick culture celebrates this level of inappropriateness? It is not okay to dictate what I wear, it is not ok to talk to me about my clothes, and it is never EVER ok to touch me. I despise any holiday that tells you otherwise.

*Deep breath.*
I feel much better now.

March 16, 2010

Who is more tired?

Jamie: I'm so tired I keep almost drooling. While sitting in my desk.
Jill: I'm so tired I snorted in the bathroom. Because I fell asleep.

You get to make the call again. Who is more tired?
A. Jamie
B. Jill
C. Who snorts while they're asleep?
D. Asleep is a cool word. More words should be constructed that way. I am asit. I am also atype. I bought a new good book, so I wish I were aread. I have an assignment to work on, so I should probably be awrite. I am clearly not awork.

March 12, 2010

Episode 5

Survivor post again! This one is short. I propose that the entire game of Survivor be played with blindfolds from now on. Blindfolded reality contestants = hilarity.

March 10, 2010

You make the call: Beads?!

Because we have no lives, this debate has been a topic of consternation over here at Stalling Headquarters. Perhaps you can help us solve it with another edition of You Make the Call.

Jill and some guy she knows are trying to make the exclamatory phrase "BEADS?!" happen. It's alleged meaning: "I am not on-board." It's origin:

That is not the entire clip. GOB continues to express his not-onboardness by proposing a bee enterprise of his own, as he angrily buzzes out of the room bragging that his buzz-ness will bring in the most "honey." (I looked for the whole clip online, but couldn't find it. It's very funny.)

The conflict: I propose that an exclamation of "BEES?!" more embodies someone who is not on-board. Jill insists that "BEADS?!" means not on-board. This has caused much confusion as we both insist on using our own new exclamatory statements and refuse to acknowledge any other possible meaning. See the following chat, where we each present our arguments. (Clearly, it is a busy day here at Stalling Headquarters.)

Jill: i'm bees with damonic laughing
Jamie: that's a shame. i was hoping you'd be on board.
Jill: GOOD
Jamie: beads then.
Jill: beads to what?
Jamie: the new, true definition of bees
Jill: why do you insist on doing things wrong?
Jamie: i hate doing things wrong. that's why i never do things wrong. no matter how much you want me to. BEES
Jamie: see, there are no angry sounds associated with beads. and when you are not on board, you are angry. so bees = not on board. it allows the possibility of bzzzzing to further emphasize your not on boardness. beads?

[moment of contemplative silence]

Jamie: you want to disagree, don't you. and wouldn't it feel so good to get all BZZZZy about it?
Jill: no. he [GOB] is so outraged at beads. that it must represent outrage. AND HE IS NOT ON BOARD WITH BEADS. it is so simple. he says beads with such disdain
Jamie: he is bz'ing though. because his clinging to bees further illustrates his not onboardness. if he had ended it at "beads" he'd be on board
Jill: you are not right!! just becuase you want to buzz! doesn't make you right!!
Jamie: so by saying "beads" we are being the bizarro GOB, on board with everything and pleasant. beads are pleasant and hippy like. even celebratory in a marti gra environment. why would you celebrate not-onboardness? why would you celebrate war?
Jill: we aren't trying to be bizarro gob. we are quoting gob!
Jamie: but see.... gob is always the opposite.
Jamie: so the TRUE meaning of beads is onboard.
Jill: no. it is not
Jamie: if you want to be all ironic and funny about it and use it the GOB way, fine.
Jill: i insist on bees=on board and beads=not on board
Jamie: but still: i am right. beads = on board.
Jill: no you are not
Jamie: see, now you are just being irrational. you have no reasoning.
Jill: you were irrational long before this
Jamie: other than GOB thinks so, and that is anti-reasoning.
Jamie: in the show, GOB is wrong.
Jill: three people in the world use this. two think my way. one thinks your way. so. seeing as we live in a democracy
Jamie: the creator of the show clearly thinks my way, and he invented it. so.
Jill: he doesn't think your way. because your way is stupid
Jamie: when is GOB ever right?
Jill: and the creator of the show is not stupid
Jamie: GOB is always the opposite. he is always wrong. your way is GOB's way. how can you not see that?
Jill: how can you not want to say beads with as much disdain as gob does?

[another moment of contemplative silence.]

Jamie: that... has nothing to do with right and wrong.
Jill: i don't see how this is a moral issue
Jamie: like i said, you can still say beads when you mean not on board. but that true meaning is that you are not on board with something that is true. something that you most logically should be on board with. like you and the true meaning of beads.
Jill: the true meaning of beads. you are crazypants

So you make the call:
What means "I'm not on board!"
A. Beads, clearly
B. Bees, obviously
C. Who or what is GOB?
D. Um... you are crazypants. And should maybe go outside more often.

March 9, 2010

Alice in Wonderland

I saw this yesterday, in regular-old 2-D. I have been very unimpressed with 3-D, but then the only movies I've tried in 3-D were Up and Creature from the Black Lagoon. And that second one was the old red/blue glasses type 3-D, so maybe I should give it another shot sometime. Maybe with Clash of the Titans. So, this movie. I was really excited for it, then saw the luke-warm reviews, but had already bought tickets, and went in thinking it'd be kind of meh. I've realized with movies that expectations play a very large role in my enjoyment of the movie. If I see a movie because I'm bored and it was the only one that I thought I could stand (Push, Percy Jackson), or if I have no idea about the movie but am with someone that really really wants to see it (Quantum Solace, Slumdog Millionaire), then I usually really like the movie.

All of that set-up and still not to the actual movie. [Spoilers ahead.] I liked it. A lot more than I thought I would. But I get why people aren't liking it. It's weird, sometimes really weird, but that's expected. For all it's weirdness, it's still incredibly predictable. No plot points are surprising, and a few are so vague that they don't make sense. What exactly did the Red Queen do that was so bad? Blow stuff up and steal the crown? If the crown is so easily stolen, what power does it really even have? I couldn't help but feel a little sympathy for the Red Queen, even though it was clearly telegraphed that she was EVIL and supposed to lose. That tall creepy one-eyed Stayne was really intriguing, and I wanted to know more about where he came from. It seemed like a lot of the Underland kingdom was either "good" or "evil" depending on who was wearing the crown, but Stayne seemed to be an even more sinister evil than even the Queen of Hearts.

The movie has interesting implications (Victorian women trapped in the marriage path, becoming a different version of yourself), but never really figures out what it's saying with them. Alice takes an unexpected path in life, but isn't that really more a luxury of her class than a break-through for her gender? There's the dichotomy between the White Queen and the Red Queen: traditional delicate femininity, conventional beauty, and polite passiveness are considered good and worthy of love where the shouty, bossy, big-headed woman is banished to live a life with no companionship (not that she ever had any genuine companionship before). So that seems to work against the "woo! independent woman!" theme.

Overall: It's a very pretty eye-candy movie, predictable and a little unfocused, but not nearly as annoying as Avatar. I enjoyed watching it, and if you think you'll like it, you probably will.

March 2, 2010

Today's lunch converation

Jill and I are eating lunch, talking about a relative we'd just recently had dinner with.

Me: He's kinda weird to talk to. I feel like I'm being condescended to, even though I know I'm not.
Jill: [shrugs] I don't ever feel that way.
Me: I think it comes from him being shy. Which is funny, because I'm always worried I come off as being snotty and condescending when I'm just shy.
Jill: He has confidence in his opinions, always thinks he's right, plus he's shy. I can see how that can feel like condescension.
Me: [light bulb goes off in head] He's just like me!
Jill: Haha. He kind of is!
Me: No wonder people don't like talking to me.

Do you know anyone that is a lot like you? If you met another person that was exactly like you, do you think you'd be good friends? I think I would, but it that it would take a very long time to discover such a person. Even if we were around each other all the time.

The Lightning Thief and Oscar Nominated Shorts (And Bonus Basterds)

I'm getting behind on my saw-it-in-the-theater movie reviews! As usual, there are spoilers.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief-
I have not read these books, so I went into the movie only knowing the basic premise: Harry Potter plus Greek mythology. I was not disappointed, this movie was a lot of fun and very entertaining. I have just enough knowledge about Greek mythology to have a bunch of fun "Oh! It's the lotus eaters!" moments, but not enough to get all well-I-never-nitpicky about inaccuracies. I'm kind of curious as to how Aphrodite has time to give birth to a full cheerleader's squad of daughters, though. I also don't understand why Percy's mom had to marry Mr. Stinky. And if she really had to marry someone stinky, were there really no nice stinky people? Heck, why doesn't SHE just get stinky? It's not hard: stop showering, eat lots of garlic, get several pet hamsters. People do it every day.

Oscar Nominated Shorts: Animated
My prediction is that Wallace and Gromit will win, but I hope it doesn't. 30 minutes is too long for a "short" film. These were not as good as last year.

Bonus: Inglorious Basterds
I didn't see this in the theater, because I wanted to be able to fast forward as needed. I rented this last weekend, and liked it a lot more than I thought I would. There's a relatively small amount of action, the most intense parts are the dialogue scenes. One slightly embarrassing tidbit: I didn't realize this was completely fictionalized. I mean completely completely. I knew it wasn't a true story, but I thought it was still going to fit in with actual historical events. So I kept waiting for the "Basterds" plot to be foiled, because we all know Hitler didn't die in a movie theater along with all the top officers of the Third Reich. So I was thoroughly surprised when they start pumping about 80 thousands bullets into Hitler's body and the building actually blows up. It's a cool concept. Tarantino imagined the war ending in a way that a film director would find the most awesome. More people should make movies like that.

March 1, 2010

Why I like Survivor

From my last two posts, it may seem like Survivor annoys me. It's often sexist, some players are huge jerks, and it's rarely "fair." But what better mirror for our every day lives?

If a male executive and female executive are equally hard on their employees, guess who gets the "bitch" label? Along with whispered back talk of "why is she here so late, doesn't she have kids?" or "is a skirt with that high a hemline really professional?" Survivor equivalent: See previous post comparing Parvati and J.T. Or: "she swore she'd vote with me then lied (in a game of lying)? What a horrible mother/scout leader/Christian." Or: "how dare a woman try to form alliances while wearing a bikini (on a tropical island). Slut!"

If a VP makes six figures and gets four weeks of paid vacation, does that automatically mean he knows how to send an email? Or plug in a USB device? Of course not. Survivor equivalent: The winner is rarely the one who can start fire without flint, catch fish with his bare hands, or build a shelter out of twigs and coconut shells.

I admit, Survivor is just entertainment. But for me at least, it's fascinating entertainment. People "voluntarily marooned" on a desert island don't really act much differently than they do at work, home, or church. But when someone gets voted out every other day, and a million dollars are at stake? All of those passive aggressive grudges and prejudices quickly come right to the surface.

February 26, 2010

That girl is like a virus

I realized last night that Parvati and J.T. are almost the exact same player. They both have excessive amounts of charisma, and use it to their advantage. They could both be very successful cult leaders. Upon meeting them, other players suddenly want to help them win. In J.T.'s original season, one player said "J.T. winning would be like me winning." In Parvati's second season, her alliance convinced one player to not use immunity and another player to hand over his immunity, right before voting them out. Both J.T. and Parvati joked about how stupid everyone was to believe them, and then successfully lied to them again. In those seasons, Parvati and J.T. won the million dollars.

In this season, Parvati is on the "villains" tribe and J.T. is on the "heroes" tribe. When men use charm and charisma to win Survivor, it's heroic and lauded as brilliant "strategy." When women do it, it's sneaky, evil, and compared to a virus, while being dismissed and devalued as mere "flirting."

February 19, 2010

Things I'm learning from Survivor

I realized the this season of Survivor gives us the opportunity to really understand what makes a hero and what makes a villain.

  • Allow men to "run their mouths," but vote out women when they do it.
  • Allow men to suck at puzzles, with no consequences. (Even though losing the puzzle means voting someone off.)
  • Are really good at building huts in the tropical forest.
  • Like to repeatedly shout "ONE VOICE" over the top of other people talking.

  • Have the uncanny ability to predict horrible events. (At least if you are Courtney. She has two fulfilled prophecies so far: "Break her shoulder!" and "I hope he doesn't drop dead.")
  • Can't build huts or make coconut popcorn.
  • Allow men to complain loudly, but mock women when they offer suggestions. Or at least when they are waitress offering suggestions.
  • Make really sad boo-boo faces.
  • ROCK at puzzles.

February 17, 2010

The last hour of my life

I just spent the last hour watching tv, switching back and forth from Millionaire Matchmaker and Cougar Town. I know Millionaire Matchmaker is stupid, but sometimes (ok, lots of times) I really enjoy stupid tv. Watching Cougar Town was totally an accident. I was aiming for the Olympics, but clearly Channel Surfing is not my sport. I only missed by 1 channel, so if I keep practicing, who knows. If I could change the channel using a gun while wearing skis, I might have a chance in Russia in 2014.

7 pm, Thursday... he better be aiming for CBS or NBC

I was pleasantly surprised to find that I actually kinda liked it. It scored overwhelmingly high in the "casting people I like from other shows" category: Monica from Friends, Phoebe from Friends (though only for a guest appearance), Jordan from Scrubs, Shawn from Scrubs (my favorite of Elliot's boyfriends), and most points for BUSY PHILIPPS!!! Kim Kelly from Freaks and Geeks!

For the cast alone, I watched for the entire two episodes, no doubt missing wonderfully trashy shenanigans from Patty's Millionaire's Club. It was actually pretty funny! And occasionally insightful and sweet. Jordan is playing her exact same character, who I love. Monica is a lot like the Monica from the early seasons, when she was actually likable. And Kim Kelly is all grown up, but still the same lovable loud mouth. So maybe this show doesn't score high on the originality, but I'm ok with that. Not every show can be Community. I think the next time I watch this show, it will be on purpose.

A Very Important Rant

Today's rant is brought to you by: Crazy fans

Some people cannot handle being fans. They cannot handle liking something. Please note the following:

Exhibit A

Exhibit B

DO NOT do these things. It is inappropriate. (One excessively more so than the other, I'll let you decide. Hint: IT'S OPTION A.) If you are a crazy fan, and you insist on doing these things, please continue to do so over the internet. It is hilarious. (Not really a rant, but the exasperation is still there.)

Pandora discoveries

Contemplative emo edition. This songs may already be popular and overplayed, but they're new to me.

"Almost Lover" by A Fine Frenzy

"There's No Way" by Sam Bisbee
(no youtube video. D: sorry.)

"Roam" by Lijie
(enabling not allowed... here's the link)

...and this isn't a new discovery, but since the videos for my three new faves are so fail, I'll include it as bonus. This is probably my favorite love song.

"Amie" by Damien Rice

February 11, 2010

Fire represents life

I promised a Survivor post, and here it is. Try to contain your excitement.

Survivor is tonight! I'm just so happy. Tears of joy.

I keep trying to write a post about why I like Survivor so much, as a way of introducing the epic upcoming "Heroes vs. Villains" 20th season. (Airing tonight, 7 pm, on CBS!) But I decided to just keep it simple. You are either a Survivor fan or you aren't. I can't make anyone love this show as much as I do, but I can talk about it on my blog with the hopes of discovering some other closet Survivor lovers.

That's right. I've even bought the merchandise. I'm officially a Survivor geek.

So here's my pre-Suvivor post. I am ranking the survivors from season 20. The people at the top are the ones I'd most like to see win. The ones at the bottom are the ones I'd really enjoy seeing lose a fight with a shark. Or maybe just get voted out pre-jury.

Season 20 Survivors: Favorite to least favorite to most loathed:
  • Boston Rob - Villain: from the Marquesas and All-star seasons
  • Parvati - Villain: from the Cook Islands and Fans/favorites seasons
  • Cirie - Hero: from the Panama "Exile Island" and Fans/favorites seasons
  • Courtney - Villain: from the China season
  • Colby - Hero: from the Outback and All-star seasons
  • Amanda - Hero: from the China and Fans/favorites season
  • Jerri - Villain: from the Outback and All-star seasons
  • Candice - Hero: from the Cook Islands season
  • J.T. - Hero: from the Tocantins season
  • Stephanie - Hero: from the Palau and Guatemala seasons
  • Tom - Hero: from the Palau season
  • Sandra - Villain: from the Pearl Islands season
  • Sugar - Hero: from the Gabon season
  • James - Hero: from the China and Fans/favorites seasons
  • Danielle - Villain: from the Panama "Exile Island" season
  • Rupert - Hero: from the Pearl Islands and All-star seasons
  • Randy - Villain: from the Gabon season
  • Coach - Villain: from the Tocantins season
  • Tyson - Villain: from the Tocantins season
  • Russell - Villain: from the Samoa season

Yes, this is the THIRD season for some players. Player or fan, survivor is a lifetime commitment. The players in bold are previous winners. The players in italics made it to the final tribal council in at least one of their seasons. This game is going to be good. I can't wait! :D

February 9, 2010

Apprehension, wealth, and number two

I often want to blog about religion, but I'm apprehensive. It feels inappropriate to discuss the scriptures and my testimony on the same site where I talk about poop. (Maybe I should just stop blogging about poop. Yes, these links are all unique posts concerning poop.) I've thought of starting yet another blog devoted solely to religious topics, but religious experiences are meant to be shared. And I'm lucky enough to have people that actually read this blog. I have mentioned church before, but there have been many moments where I've wanted to share an insight or an experience, and have held back. How do all of you other bloggers feel about this? Does any body else share similar reservations about publicly blogging about their testimonies? I think community is a vital element of testimony (I'll expound on that in another post), so I'm going to try and overcome my apprehensions and post more often about religion.

(Even though I'm pretty sure everyone who reads this knows me in real life, here's some brief background. I was born and raised in the LDS church. I went to BYU. Since college, I've been sporadically active and am trying to change that "sporadically" to "regularly." Regardless of my activity level, I've always lived a Mormon lifestyle and have a very strong testimony of the church.)

I'm going to start out slow. I LOVE Mormon blogs. My absolute favorite is Feminist Mormon Housewives (site not working currently, see here for now), though By Common Consent is a close second. Earlier today, I was reading a book review on Times and Seasons. It reminded me of several other excellent posts I have read on various bloggernacle sites about wealth and prosperity. For a couple of highlights, see here, here, and here (especially Amri's comment 17).

Each of those posts resonated strongly with me. Not because I think I'm wealthy (though I know compared to the rest of the world, I really am), but because I see a lot of wealth in my family. My family is very conservatively Mormon. They are very generous with sharing their wealth. But they subscribe to the idea that wealth is a result of righteousness and hard work. I think hard work often (but not always) relates wealth, but I firmly believe that wealth is largely obtained through luck. There are plenty of evil lazy rich people and even more good hard-working poor people. Prosperity (as defined in terms of dollars and assets) comes from being dealt a really good hand and knowing how to play it. I don't like conflating it with religion and righteousness.

I remember a family vacation, at my uncle's lake house. I was sitting with my dad in the upstairs living room, overlooking the lake that was just outside the back door. My dad asked me if I ever look at all this and wonder why I wasn't born into this family. Why I had the bad luck to be sent to my dad instead of his more prosperous younger brother. My dad was acknowledging the luck aspect of wealth, but still assigning it more importance than I think it deserves.

Whether I like it or not, ideas of wealth and prosperity are heavily infused into our religious culture. It's an interesting and often emotionally-charged discussion. Is wealth good or bad, or is it more complicated than that? For those of us lucky enough to be wealthy (and really, all Americans should be considered wealthy), what are righteous uses of that wealth? How much of that wealth should we be sharing? Where do we draw that line between want and need? While I'm not exactly sure how I feel about any of it, but it is definitely a discussion worth having.

I know that's kind of a cop-out ending. But if I felt like I had to have draw persuasive mind-blowing conclusions every post, I'd never talk about anything but poop. And thus ends this installment in Jamie Tries to Talk About More Religion. (This doesn't mean I'm going to stop posting about silly things. In fact, look for another one of those obnoxious Survivor posts coming soon.)

February 8, 2010

WoW noob

Seeing as most people I know play and love this game, I thought I'd try out the 10-day free trial. Here are my observations from my first (and probably last) two hours of playing World of Warcraft:
  • By far, the hardest part of the game is coming up with character names.
  • All fantasy creatures (wolves, cougars, wild pigs, etc) carry on them a pair of tattered pants.
  • I was able to trade 50+ items of tattered clothing for 400 bullets and 400 arrows. Score!
  • Oh wait. I can't just throw arrows and bullets. And the store merchant won't buy them back. So these things are even more worthless than my 25 pairs of tattered pants. Fail.
  • Playing as an "evil" cow shaman is WAY more fun than playing as a "good" human warrior.
  • Upon first entering the human world, I see a human male something pounding THE HELL out of a tree with a wooden mallet.
  • Upon first entering the cow world, I see several large male cows spinning furiously in circles.
  • I decide to stop laughing at them when I walk into a torch and accidentally catch myself on fire.
  • My human warrior man was much more patient than me. After being stabbed several times by some troll, he still doesn't have enough rage for a decent hit. When I just step on a belt buckle, I am brimming with rage. I can't imagine how full of rage I'd be if I was attacked by an ugly troll carrying two extra pairs of tattered pants.
  • Cows and humans can't walk through walls, torches, or rocks. Though not from lack of trying!
  • Though it is more convenient, walking backwards out of a room instead of turning around is a bit embarrassing.
  • Though it promises to increase your health, sitting on the ground and eating a piece of bread in the middle of a battle is not a good idea.
  • Are higher level players able to talk at me, through my speakers? Or was that the drugs kicking in? I passed a player-cow by a bridge (green text and everything), and she asked me, audibly, out loud, to help her find her dog. I stared at her for a while then ran away.
  • The chat feature is not at all intuitive, and I'm much too impatient to read an instruction manual. So if you approached a shaman cow last night, and she stared at you for several awkward moments, and then ran away, I'M SORRY. I COULDN'T FIGURE OUT THE STUPID CHAT.
  • So it turns out, when I'm a magic evil cow in a social situation with other magic evil cows, I act the exact same as I do in real life!

February 5, 2010

Before and after

Alternate title: Woo! New haircut!

New haircut, hair color, AND glasses.

One of the most hilarious tv moments ever

Alternate title: This will probably not be nearly as funny out of context but OH WELL.

The show:
Community. You should really watch that show. I haven't proselyted a show this fervently since Arrested Development, and weren't you all glad when you finally gave in and watched then?

The characters:
Jeff - snarky used-to-be lawyer with a giant ego
Britta - aimless, usually mature, 28-year-old
Annie - high-strung, over-achieving 18-year-old
Troy - 18-year-old used to be high school football star
Abed - somewhat awkward pop-culture junky
Shirley - middle-aged recent divorcee with thinly-veiled rage issues
Pierce - tactless older man who desperately wants peer approval

From left to right: Abed, Senor Chang, Shirley, Troy, Britta, Jeff, Pierce, and Annie

The set-up:
Annie started dating Vaughn, Britta's ex-boyfriend and a "gateway douche bag." In order to save her from him, Jeff and Britta tried to get Troy to start dating Annie. All of these people are in the same study group. All of this scheming has just come to light, during a study group session.

Jeff: Annie. We’re sorry. We were worried about your well being.

Britta: I guess we feel like we’re sort of all a family and Jeff and I are like your Greendale parents.

Annie: You’re not my mom, Britta. She would never wear boots that go up that high. And what about respecting me as an adult and as a friend.

Britta: Oh. You want to be treated as an adult and a friend? Try not dating your friend’s ex-boyfriend, find your own man.

Annie: But you don’t like Vaughn.

Britta: No I don’t. But I also don’t like seeing him with anyone else. Ta da!

Annie: I asked you if you cared and you said no.

Britta: Fine. I cared. I’m a girlie girl. I like boys and I don’t like it when they’re mean to me and I don’t like when they stop kissing me and start kissing my friends. I’m not that cool. I’m not Juno, okay homeslice?

Jeff: This is what it was about for you? You were jealous?

Britta: Oh please you can’t tell me that you weren’t jealous that Vaughn had his hippie hands all over your debate slash make-out partner.

Annie: What are you insinuating? I took that kiss for the team.

Jeff: What?! [pause] Yeah, that kiss wasn’t for pleasure. It was strategic and joyless.

Annie: What?! [pause] Yeah.

Troy: You did get weirdly specific when you were describing Annie’s body.

Jeff: More specific than the stuff you told me about Britta?

Annie and Britta: What?!

Shirley: Does anyone get specific about me?

Pierce: Check your e-mail.

Shirley: I mark you as spam.

Pierce: Who the hell is Pam?

Abed: When you guys first came in we were as wholesome and healthy as the family in "The Brady Bunch." And now we’re as dysfunctional and incestuous as the cast of "The Brady Bunch."

Shirley: I agree with Abed. This is getting creepy.

Annie: No more creepy than when Jeff wears tight jeans and you say "I’d like to slap those buns on the grill."

Jeff and Pierce: What?!

Shirley: First of all I don’t talk like that and second of all where I’m from it’s perfectly normal for women to talk about their male friends’ backsides. And you don’t see me saying anything crazy about Abed and Troy’s weird little relationship.

Abed and Troy: They’re just jealous.

Jeff: Alright, alright, maybe we’re not a family. Maybe it’s more complicated. Because, unlike a real family, there’s nothing to stop any one of us from looking at any of the others as a sexual prospect.

One of the best tv moments EVER: At this point all characters look around the table and consider all possible romantic pairings, or "ships" as we tv junkies call them. It is just several moments of silent looking, but it is one of the most hilarious things I have ever seen. I can't wait to buy this show on dvd and start forcing more people to watch it.

February 3, 2010

Me as a cartoon character

Alternate title: I miss photoshop. :(

Meet the Cartoon Jamies:

This Jamie can control your thoughts, dreams, and entire perception of reality with her grossly over-sized forehead.

This Jamie is an antler-horned green goddess of nature who shape-shifts at will from human to tree to wapiti.

This Jamie is an ambiguously gendered sociopath who recently escaped from the secret lab of an evil pharmaceutical corporation. S/he suffers from constant, uncontrollable explosions of adverse side effects.

This Jamie is a typical cubicle drone by day, ruthless robot assassin by night. Her super human strength relies on regular inhaled doses of helium. The higher her voice pitch, the deadlier her fists.

This Jamie is the sassy mother figure that keeps the big-headed, deer-horned, drug-addled, and squeaky robot freaks working together on the side of justice. She's in an on-again/off-again relationship with Batman and always looking snazzy in her off-white pullover turtleneck.