Monthly Archives: July 2010
Do not trust people who make the same face in every picture. Nobody makes the same face all of the time (unless they have a condition). If they are defaulting to a preset facial configuration they likely have something to hide. Just like clowns. And don’t trust clowns either.
Always pre-order an IMAX ticket. Always.
Some lessons are only learned in blood.
Never assume a woman is pregnant. Never. And even if you know she is pregnant, best to play it safe and wait for her to bring it up.
No one actually prefers Skippy to Jif. They just don’t know any better.
If you are going to Wright’s Chicken Farm, get there at Noon, or be prepared to wait.
The Simpsons has not been good for about ten seasons. If you still like The Simpsons, you’re either a hopeless fan, or just hopeless. Seasons 2-8 are pure gold, and I believe unmatched by any modern show. And if you’re wondering, no, Family Guy is not better than The Simpsons. There are at least 100 episodes of The Simpsons that exist in a league above Family Guy.
The Star Wars Prequel Trilogy is bad. The Original (Pre-Special Edition) Trilogy is the only trilogy. George Lucas forgot how to make good movies. He has lost touch. The prequels get worse over time, and the originals only get better. Hayden Christensen is awful. Jar Jar Binks is awful. Jake Lloyd is awful. I’m just thankful I didn’t care that much for Indiana Jones. Lucas ruined that too.
Almost everyone who says, “I like all types of music”, will continue, “except country and rap.”
If you want to become a better writer, write often and read even more.
Of course there is much that I have on my mind day to day that I wouldn’t want to write about publicly. Being human, I imagine this is common to most. We all have our secret thoughts and imaginings. But I do want to write about this. Think of it as a well thought out sigh.
There are times when I want to complain. And then I am reminded that there are many in my position, and many more who are worse off, and the fires of frustration die down a bit. What is this position? Singleness, or singularity as I like to call it.
I know what you’re thinking, cry me a river. Or maybe that’s just what I’m thinking. Good family, many good friends, faith, food, clothes, a home, a job, and the ability to read, write, and post it all for people to see. I have a good life for sure. And I have reason to hope for a good future. So what’s the problem?
When I was very young, about preschool age, I wanted a girlfriend. Back then it was just a silly thing of course, but that silly thing never left me. As I got older I always felt it deep down, below my ever changing thoughts and outlooks and physical body. And I never went through that “girls are icky” stage.
Skipping over much, we come to the present. In my 23 years I have had one relationship that lasted under a year. That was five years ago. Now you’re up to speed.
The other day I was filling a propane cylinder for a girl who looked about my age. We made the usual “Nice weather, but hate the humidity” small talk. Then, the smallest thing caught me off guard. She said, “Thank you” and smiled and looked me right in the eye and kept it there for more than a moment. To any observer I’m sure it was nothing. And it probably was nothing. But just that extra little moment. That little tiny unsubstantial fleeting moment. That smile that said, “I see you.” That little bit of female recognition. That mustard seed of a glance that became a tree in the fertile soil of my hope. Well, it made me smile.
Similar things have happened before. And when it does, one rain drop seems to quench the vast desert of unsatisfied longings.
So that is the silver lining. Many drink their fill of love and remain forever thirsty. For the son of singularity, a small drop of water brings life to barren lands.
It is no evil thing to want a good woman.
The world is filled with many splendid things. Among God’s creatures, there are two insects that I hold in high regard.
The Dragonfly is king of all insects in my eyes.
They look really cool with their four wings and giant colorful eyes. And the way they can dart in any given direction and then stop and hover is fantastic.
Also consider that they don’t attack people like other flying insects. They don’t sting, and outside of one distant memory I have of someone accusing a dragonfly of biting their father, they don’t bite. They simply fly around.
Sometimes they swarm in my backyard when the bugs are stirred up. I can recall many instances where I was mowing the lawn and dragonflies were scooping up bugs all around me.
And speaking of bugs, dragonflies certainly eat annoying insects like mosquitoes and black flies.
Something you may not know about dragonflies is that they tend to hang around you when you’re out on the water. When I go fishing in any fresh body of water I make note of the dragonflies following the boat and landing on the end of our fishing poles.
Dragonflies are great. Appreciate them.
Bumblebees are also delightful insects.
Like honeybees, they fly around pollinating flowers which then become various fruits and vegetables. So we depend on these bees in order to survive.
But what sets the bumblebee apart from his sweet cousin is his sunny disposition.
Unless you step on one, or go out of your way to piss it off, bumblebees won’t attack you. They’re perfectly content minding their own business (I didn’t say beeswax) .
I have never been stung by a bumblebee. I have been stung by many honeybees.
I guess this was my Discovery Kids version of a blog post. If you have kids, tell them to appreciate these creatures. I sure do.
I now bring you a new segment in which I read a random CNN.com headline and make up a story.
Let me preface this one by saying that I know almost nothing about Justin Bieber and I’ve watched CSI a couple of times. Here it goes.
Justin Bieber to Appear on CSI
Annoying twelve year old singer/teeny bopper heartthrob, Justin Bieber, is set to appear on an upcoming episode of CSI. Bieber will play himself, but in an alternate reality where fat people are skinny and skinny people are murderers. In a recent interview, Bieber stated, “I’m at the top of my game. Everyone loves me. But I’ve always wanted to be an actor. Ever since I was eleven, yo.”
It has been rumored that Bieber’s presence on the set has driven some cast members to consider an early retirement from acting. Laurence Fishburn, who may or may not be on this particular CSI, has been accused of calling Bieber a “no talent Canadian baby”. And that blond haired woman who used to be on the show told National Enquirer reporters, “CSI used to be respectable. We had that actor who starred in that old Mark Wahlberg movie, Fear, and he was great. Then he left, and now we have Canadian pop singers breaking down our doors.”
The writers of this particular episode have also received criticism for taking the show down a more sci-fi/ fantasy route.
“The show has really become stale. I mean, I don’t know how many seasons we’ve been on the air, but it’s just crime after crime after crime in this boring reality of ours. Let’s take it somewhere else. How about we address the obesity epidemic at the same time? You people just hate change. We’re writing a damned good episode about fat people who are skinny and skinny people who are murderers. If you are offended…good! That’s what we want. We have Justin Bieber. What do you have? That’s what I thought,” said head writer, Dale Bergman, when asked about the upcoming episode.
Love it or hate it, CSI is one of TV’s most popular crime dramas. (I mean, it’s no Du Shiniang, but what is?) But we’ll just have to wait and see if it can handle the drama behind the scenes.
Alan Dales is a reporter for CNN. He has a degree in Ancient Chinese Romance Literature from Gudger College, and works in a secret government base developing more nutritious chocolate jimmies.
I wanted to write about my experience with Christopher Nolan’s Inception immediately following my first watching, but I knew that a film of this type requires a repeat viewing and a little time to process. By the way, this is going to be riddled with SPOILERS, so if you have yet to see it please read no further.
Based on the trailers I was expecting a crime drama. I thought that Joseph Gordon Levitt’s character was going to betray Leo’s character and through it all Leo was going to deal with some intense memories dealing with the love of his life. It turns out that was only half true. What Inception actually is is far better than what I was expecting.
Chris Cavalieri made a good observation after my second viewing when he recognized that the movie could have easily been silly and ridiculous. After all, the concept of going into a dream with other people is outlandish. As if a dream is a tangible place that you can inhabit. Nevertheless, I never scoffed during the movie. I was never distracted by the impossible things that the movie was suggesting. Of course these people can enter into your dreams. Nolan took good care to create a believable universe for us built on rules. But at the same time he doesn’t overdo it. He tells us what we need to know. The totems and the rules of time and limbo and the subconscious etc. He lets the world exist as it is. He lets us fill in the gaps.
One concept that I really liked was that of time within dream layers. This is not too hard to accept since we often experience what seems like a very long dream over the course of a few hours. Time is not the same within our dreams. So when we are told that time goes slower (or faster depending on how you look at it) as you descend into further dream levels, it isn’t a stumbling block for the audience. In fact, it adds great depth to the plot. Now we can have characters existing in various worlds (dream layers) while moving through time at different speeds. It is a creative way to expand the scope of this universe and adds to the suspense. You have a slow motion van falling off a bridge in layer 1 as Arthur moves through zero gravity in level 2 to prepare the needed jump to wake up the people who are in level 3. Once again, this could just be ridiculous, but it works. Nolan takes his craft seriously.
A stellar cast works to make the world of Inception believable and interesting. Leonardo Dicaprio is one of our best modern actors and Jospeh Gordon Levitt is repeatedly proving himself with films like 500 Days of Summer and Brick. I loved his role as Arthur. Ellen Page has been a source of love and hate for me in the past, but I liked her as Ariadne (the name of someone who created a labyrinth in Greek mythology I believe) since she deviated from her usual wit and sarcasm. She just played a genius. I also liked Ken Watanabe as the super wealthy corporate guy. And Tom Hardy as the forger is very likable and a good actor in his own right. Marion Cotillard as Mal pulled off a haunting, seductive, mentally unstable performance. And of course Michael Cain. Always a treat.
I love that this movie makes you think.
Was it all a dream? We see the totem spinning in the end and we can’t be sure if it will fall or keep spinning. This leaves it open for us to decide whether or not he is in a dream or in the real world. But even more, it makes us question the nature of reality. Cobb’s main purpose is to be with his kids “up there in the real world”. But is the real world the real world or is it just what Cobb believes is the real world? He has released the guilt that ruled him after Mal’s death by the time he returns to his children. Only then can he look at their faces and embrace them. So whether or not it is “real”, Cobb believes that he is united with his children again. The fact that he walks away from the totem before he can see if it falls indicates that his love for his children is greater than his fear that it isn’t real. But for what it’s worth, I believe he is in the real world. Nolan just leaves it open to force us to think about what makes this world real.
Is Inception possible? For me this has to deal with the topic of free will. Where does inspiration come from? How do we form our core beliefs? Can one conversation, one verse, one word shape us without us realizing it? Interesting to think about.
What is reality? Is it based on our perception or is it a truth apart? If a tree falls…
And how could we be sure? Must we take a leap of faith?
I love how this movie gets you thinking. One of the best I’ve seen.
9 out of 10
I have compiled an enemies list a la Richard Nixon. (Pay no attention to the order)
- Michelle Mcphee (Loud, rude, loud, and hater of Muse)
- Bill Maher
- Colonel Sanders (I’ve had KFC 3 times and I get sick every time)
- Skippy Peanut Butter
- Everyone on The View (including guests)
- The Paparazzi
- George Lucas (After what he did to us.)
- Hayden Christensen
- The 152nd Pokemon (Chikorita)
- The creators of Happy Feet
- Chelsea Handler
- Anyone responsible for The Real World or Laguna Beach or Jersey Shore
- Brian McLaren
- Elizabeth Gilbert
- Seth Macfarlane
- Ozzy Osbourne’s children
- Paris Hilton
- Carlos Mencia (What’s a “beaner” anyway!!!???!!)
- Matt Lauer
- Hershey (For shrinking the Cadbury Egg from 39 to 34 grams. Cadbury did not do this. Hershey distributes them in America and they did it.)
- Richard Nixon
- Child prodigies
- Rob Lowe
A few of these posts began as Facebook status updates. (Quick aside:we should never stop making fun of people who use Facebook. Even if we use it all of the time. Once it has become fully accepted as a part of our normal lives I fear a piece of our humanity will be lost forever. But I digress) What I should say is that I thought of something short and sweet that someone else might get a kick out of. And at first I intended it to exist as a status update. But, after some consideration I decided to expand on whatever it is I was thinking. Plus, whenever I try to write something thoughtful as a status update it is usually squashed by a sarcastic response. (Once again, keep it up people. If you let me get away with stuff like that who knows what repercussions it will have for humanity.)
Just recently I was going to write, “Eternity is the most terrifying concept imaginable”. I almost wrote it, even though I had just written that Inception was stuck in my head. I’m guilty of multiple postings over a short period of time. That’s the drawback of using status updates as a creative outlet. And that’s part of why I started this blog. If you’re going to express yourself, why not use your words in a way that couldn’t fit on Twitter?
Eternity is terrifying. As a child I recall thinking about this concept for the first time. I became fearful of the endlessness. And I was thinking of endlessness in Heaven! Greater than the greatest thing we can imagine. Greater than a million Chuck E Cheeses and Christmas mornings. But forever? Forever! Nate King came to this realization around the same time and we discussed it together. This helped somewhat, but ironically it was time that eased my anxiety.
Some time later (young teenager) I considered eternity in hell. Worse than the worst thing imaginable. Forever. You burn your hand on a hot stove and you instantly take it away. That sucks. But hold it there for 10 seconds. Hold it there for 10 years. Hold it there for 300 trillion years and it doesn’t scratch forever. Hell is awful, but it’s the forever part that gets you.
You can think of eternity another way. In this life we always have a sense that we can escape. Worst comes to worst we can die. Or for a less intense example, think of how often people hide from things. They hide from their own fears by putting up walls both physical and psychological. There are no walls in eternity. No escape from the truth. Whatever that truth may be.
There is no running from eternity. No denying it. If forever is your destiny, you cannot escape yourself.
How many people drink to escape themselves? How many use drugs or any other substance for a vacation from their own conscience?
Maybe the most terrifying aspect of eternity is yourself. You are trapped with you forever.
You should probably be someone you wouldn’t mind spending forever with.
There’s your job for the day. Become someone you wouldn’t mind being with forever.
But how do I do that?
I figured it out, which should come as a relief to everyone.
This is what we have to do in order to save our country.
Step 1: Set up a large screen in the Capitol Building. Force all members of Congress to gather. Then have them watch Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.
Step 2: During the movie, serve various types of cookies and chamomile tea. The servers should be children.
Step 3: Immediately following the movie, have Bill Cosby interview the children. He will ask them about what it means to live in America. This will be funny and heartwarming.
Step 4: Have the President of the United States read the Declaration of Independence to both the Congress and the children in attendance.
Step 5: Dismiss the meeting, but be sure to give all members of congress a personalized Gift Bag before they leave. The Gift Bag will include three letters, a gift certificate for $50 to a Friendly’s restaurant with a note encouraging them to take their family , and their birth certificate. The letters will be from an unknown child, a soldier stationed overseas, and the person dearest to them. The birth certificate is to remind them where they come from.
Step 6: Invent three new holidays. One will honor Dr. Seuss. One will be called Family Survival Day. One will be called Charity Day.
Step 7: Wait for a solar flare to disable all electronics.
Step 8: With the food and water and survival skills gathered from Family Survival Day, people will survive for the 3-6 months needed to get our systems back online. And hopefully Charity Day will prevent them from killing each other.
Step 9: Have the President give a speech about what really matters. The months spent in basic survival mode will have humbled everyone, greatly reducing corporate greed and political power grabs. His speech should reach everyone.
Step 10: Build an anti-solar flare dome around the entire earth.
Follow these simple steps and I guarantee you that this country will be right back where it should be.
I’m going to be honest with you. I’m pretty tired right now. Writing about free will is something that one should probably do when their brain is operating at maximum, but it’s the topic that I’ve been thinking about much lately, so I’ll give it a go.
My old stance on the subject of free will was simple; of course it exists. Call it a gut feeling. That was good enough for me until college.
In college, I often argued with a friend over free will vs. predestination. He believed in predestination, which basically accepts that God is in control of everything, including our wills, and therefore determines our eternal abode.
The problem with this is that we do evil things so it’s hard to see how God could be entirely in control of our wills and not be evil himself. It’s hard to imagine that God controls people and then damns them to hell for doing the things he made them do. That’s no good.
Beyond the theological arguments, free will is no less complicated. For instance, how do you even define the will? And with so many internal and external pressures and controls is it even possible to claim that any decision is purely your own?
I’ve thought much about this topic. And after many years of thinking, debating, researching, and writing I’ve developed my own outlook on free will.
Here it is.
Almost everything in life is beyond our control.
The time in which we live.
The area in which we live.
The existence of other influential people like friends and siblings.
Our pre-history (The sum of the lives and events that preceded our lives)
The nature of life on this planet (Eat and drink to survive, reproduce, avoid pain etc…)
The sights and sounds we are exposed to.
Philosophies and religions.
Genetics and upbringing.
And countless others…
I imagine myself being swept by a massive wave over an endless ocean. I can’t control the wave, and I can’t escape the water. This is the world we live in.
That isn’t everything. I know in my heart that if this was the plain truth of life, life wouldn’t be worth living. A life without a will is a life without value. It is a life without heart.
We live in the present. We always live in the present. The present is like the thin membrane of the water. It exists between eternity past and eternity future. The vast ocean depths and an endless sky. We live in the present, and that is where our hearts reside. It is the home of our wills.
I didn’t choose this world. But even if I am the sum of all these things beyond my will, I can still see myself as a separate identity. I am not anything else. My soul is mine. And I can decide what to do with it.
The deepest part of you; the source of your decisions and ultimate identity is your heart (soul). The junction of flesh and spirit: present and eternity.
Or, you’re an advanced animal that developed a complex sense of self in order to deal with a dark, cold, and violent universe.
It’s up to you to decide. You could even make that last alternative sound more attractive.
There are many worthy causes out there in our harsh and unfair world. How often do you come across an injustice that cries for an outspoken advocate? In those moments we tend to forget that we have the power to speak out. We have the power to make a difference! I’ve stood on the sidelines long enough. I can’t hold back anymore.
There is a silent segment of our population that secretly endures heightened anxiety during the cookout season. Always, they are at the mercy of the grill-master, who has the power to make or break their experience. All he need do is choose the wrong kind of hot dog. That is, the kind with the natural casing.
“Natural casings are made from the submucosa, a layer of the intestine that consists mainly of collagen. The fat and the inner mucosa lining are removed. Natural casings tend to be brittle once cooked and tend to “snap” when the sausage is bitten” (The ever reliable Wikipedia)
As a child I couldn’t eat them until I peeled the “skin” off. My father gave me a hard time and often accused me of wasting the best part. Usually when I don’t eat a certain thing my father claims that it is the best part, like when I remove the peppers from a supreme pizza.
More recently, I was over a friend’s house for a cookout. I asked his father, “Are you cooking the hot dogs with the skin on them, or the other kind?” His father replied, “What are you talking about?”
He had never considered the difference. But he is not alone. Many people never bring it up in everyday conversation.
So what am I looking for here? What do I want you to take away from this reading?
I want you to consider that there are many people who do not like to chew on intestines. When you buy those hot dogs, and only those hot dogs for a cookout you are alienating a significant portion of your guests. Sure, they can just eat the hamburger instead, but this is America. This is the land of freedom and opportunity. At the very least, have the skinless option. There are many fine varieties.
Stop being so selfish. You monsters.