Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Reach for Your Dreams!

Two years ago I wrote a column for the newspaper at Dixie State College about motivational calendars. I basically complained that they weren't really being completely honest with us. And although they have been persuading us for years to stand on the tops of mountains, make friends, work as a team, lift heavy weights, and climb flights of stairs we once thought were beyond our capacity, they tricked us to do all those things the whole time. So I've designed a few motivational posters based on the things I wrote two years ago:

1. This is one of the most popular sayings. Shooting for the moon is a good euphamism for trying your hardest in just about any category, because it forgets to mention how horrible some of it will be and only includes the pleasant parts. "Oooooh...moon! STARS! I LOVE stars!!" For example, I used to hear this a lot when I ran cross-country. I wish they had included: "Shoot for the moon...your kidney is going to explode when you do this, and your upper thigh will be constantly exposed."


2. One of the most popular ways to motivate someone to do anything is by comparing whatever they are doing to climbing a mountain. This is usually coupled with a picture of a tiny man standing at the foot of a humongous mountain, encouraging him to climb it one step at a time. I'm positive this sort of method would work way better if they said instead, "Really tall mountains can be climbed five or six steps at a time, which severely shortens the journey. You'll climb a huge mountain in no time!"
Unfortunately this is almost never the case. So I've designed this...


3. Another fairly popular saying is, "What the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve." This is often coupled with pictures of Egyptian pyramids. Unfortunately they forgot one very important part of the recipe to building a pyramid:

Building a pyramid: Ingredients
- 1: Imagination
- 1: Faith
- 1: A bunch of people who will work for free for several decades


Final Notes:
- Before I am accused of being cynical, I want to clarify that I'm only joking. I hope you all reach for your dreams!
- Speaking of motivation, I just finished the personal statement for my law school applications, maybe I'll post it here...or not. I'm not really sure if that's an okay thing to do.
- I work for The Daily Utah Chronicle. We just started an unofficial blog where we will talk about all the things we do. For example, we might write about our weight-gaining competition, and my glorious victory in a contest of strength against a girl in our office. I will write for it occasionally, and if you'd like to look at it, you can check it out here.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Mostly Cultural Update

I feel like I've been a bit busy lately with some things that are at least a little interesting, so here are a few things that I've done:

1. I went to the Neon Trees show at the Velour in Provo on Friday night. The last time I went to one of their shows was in February, nearly a year ago when they played before Ben Kweller. And both times I have attended a Neon Trees show there has been a guy to my left who I'm certain is about to clutch the back of the lead singer's head and jam his tongue into his mouth.
It is very uncomfortable to stand next to the only superfan in the crowd. You can never be sure when he's about to wrap his armpit around your head, or slobber all over your clothes because he can't take time to swallow between words while he screams the lyrics back to the band. But despite the superfan I had to stand next to, I really had a good time. Here are some of the things I like about Neon Trees -

a. The lead singer, Tyler Glenn has a really excellent stage presence. He will stand right on the edge of the stage, he likes to kneel down and sing right in your face, he will graciously hold his pose right in front of your camera mid-song until you take a picture, he dances around the stage, and he is just generally good at getting the crowd to pay attention to him and feel involved in the show. I'm impressed.
b. The drummer, Elaine Doty, is really a great drummer. Plus, judging from one conversation I had with her one year ago, she seems like a nice gal. Plus, when she lived downtown she used to attent the church ward I currently attend about one year before I started going there. That is a major missed opportunity. We could have been great friends by now.
c. That leads me to my next point, they are from Provo, so even as they get bigger, they seem fairly interested in the Provo/SLC crowd.
d. I like their songs.

So there you have it. Here is the music video for their current single. I think it's a nice song. Give it a look.

2. Saturday was my mom's birthday. Last year we celebrated my mom's birthday by going to see Paul Blart: Mall Cop. We might as well have just stayed at home and punched each other in each other's faces. I wish more than anything that I had been punched in the face for two hours in the place of watching that movie.
This year we went and saw The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus. For those of you who don't know, this was the movie Heath Ledger was working on when he died. They had only finished one-third of the movie when it happened, forcing them to figure out how to finish the movie without him. At different points in the movie, Heath Ledger's character is played by Colin Farrell, Jude Law, and Johnny Depp. In addition to these four, the movie also had Christopher Plummer, Tom Waits (who does an awesome job playing the devil), and famous midget Verne Troyer--not to be mistaken for fellow midget Jason "wee-man" Acuna of Jackass fame, who reached cinematic heights by running around in buttless chaps, dryhumping all kinds of different things, and getting punched in the wiener by his funny friends.
Anyway, I think I really liked this movie. It's hard to tell, because at the end of it I wasn't completely sure what had happened. But it managed to be totally confusing in a way that made me want to go back and watch it again. The visuals are really great, and the story is pretty interesting if completely off the wall. I think it's worth seeing, but I wouldn't be surprised if you hated it. Here is a trailer:

3. Speaking of movies, I have a friend named John who, with his friend Cameron, hosts a 24-movie marathon once a year. This year's marathon concluded this morning at 7:00 a.m. I was at my mom's birthday party most of the day, but I did show up at the marathon at around 10:30 p.m. Even though I was subjected to two of the most uncomfortable/worst movies I've ever seen in my life, so bad that I shudder at mentioning them and their content, there was one movie that I really loved. It was called Amélie, and it's a French film. Obviously, we watched it with subtitles, because most of us, possibly all of us, did not speak French. Anyway, it's really funny, very clever, and I really loved it. Here is a trailer:

4. My car has started making weird noises. I have remedied this by listening to the music in my car too loud for me to hear the noises.

5. Jokingly, I suggested we should start an Anti-Biggest Loser contest at my work, and see who could gain the most weight. Somehow it has become a reality, and I'm trying to gain weight, although I can pretty much predict my eventual total failure in the competition.
Anyway, we weigh-in every Monday, and despite my greatest efforts to eat the least healthy, most fattening foods available to me, my metabolism refuses to yield.
Here is a Before and After picture of kind of how I'm hoping this goes for me:

And that's about it. I am now in the final semester of my undergrad, which is encouraging. Maybe next time I'll tell you a little bit about my classes, although I don't have any classes this semester quite as interesting/completely worthless as my magic class last semester.

Friday, January 8, 2010

I Know Now Why You Cry

One of the things I'm really bad at is being sad about things. It's not that I never get sad, it's just that I'm not very good at expressing the tell-tale signs of sadness. I'm like Cameron Diaz in The Holiday, I can't really cry, and the day I really cry is the day I will finally know that I love Jude Law.

But until then, I've gathered four examples of times that I get a bit misty-eyed, in order to persuade you that I'm completely capable of approaching tears in a number of embarrassing and inconsequential ways. Here you are:

1. When Vice-President Glenn Close tells the American people in a press release to pray for the president in Air Force One. I don't get emotional when I'm asked to pray for the president in reality. It only works if the president is Harrison Ford, his plane has been hijacked by terrorists from Kazakhstan, and his family is being held hostage by Gary Oldman. Now that is something to pray about. That is something to cry about.

2. When I watched a season marathon of The Biggest Loser on the Oxygen Network. Granted this only happened once, but I remained seated on the couch for nearly an entire day watching one season of The Biggest Loser from beginning to end. When my roommate got home in the middle of an especially touching moment, I had to pretend I wasn't touched. "The Biggest Loser? What? I'm not emotionally attached to this. My eyes are not moist! Of course not, that would be totally silly! I was just flipping through the channels during the commercial break of Die Hard with a Vengeance. I EFFING LOVE Die Hard With a Vengeance." But truth be told, in spite of the fact that I weigh 135 pounds and am pretty much incapable of gaining or losing weight, I apparently have a powerful emotional response to the struggles of people who are several hundred pounds overweight.

3. Kerri Strug. Almost any Olympic medal ceremony will send me to the brink of tears, but the 1996 women's gymnastics team had Kerri Strug: the human equivalent of a three-legged dog rescuing a drowning baby. Watching her coach carry her to the podium, and then watching her sing along to the national anthem as she limped around made me want to wave an American flag over my head, and then use that flag to javelin a British horse in patriotic fervor. My 9 year old eyes were fighting for control.

4. Any sad musical montage ever featured on The OC. This includes, but is not limited to when Ryan moves back to Chino, when Seth runs away to Tahiti, when Caleb dies, when Marissa dies, when Johnny dies, and the most traumatic, when Anna moves back to Pittsburgh. This is probably the main reason why I don't really cry all that much. After watching Anna move back to Pittsburgh, everything else sad paled in comparison. Don't watch either of these videos if you want to be able to retain the capacity to express sadness in the future about anything unrelated to the olympics, weight loss, or Glenn Close.

Last of all, I put together a small collage of celebrities crying. If nothing has made you cry yet, I hope this will.

Final Note: In the quote at the top, I meant that it was said by the Terminator...not that it was in the movie "The Terminator." It was actually said in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, just for your information.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Kicking Off the New Year by Lurking Around My Friend's Family Room

Summer Roberts from The OC once said that "The way you spend New Year’s eve is the way you’re gonna spend the rest of the year." That's why I'm going to spend the rest of the year bowling at a pretty mediocre level with a group consisting of a 5 to 1 male to female ratio, followed by an early-morning game of group-oriented Oregon Trail, and then sitting awake in the family room of my friend Scott's house by myself until 7:00 a.m.

My two friends have fallen asleep, but I refuse to go to bed because I have some other friends who had plans to visit the Original Pancake House at 7:30 a.m. I've decided to push straight through. So instead of falling asleep I've decided to write this blog

In the past hour since Scott fell asleep, here are some of the conversations we've had:

Conversation 1 -
Scott: You have to have the mother bird.
Craig: Why do you have to have the mother bird?
Scott: Because of the chickens.
Craig: What do the chickens need?
Scott: Well, they were doing something?
Craig: What were they doing?
Scott: They were in the bird cage.

Conversation 2 -
Scott: They can poke holes in the house.
Craig: Who can poke holes in the house?
Scott: Me
Craig: Why would you poke holes in the house?
Scott: I'm going to push down half of the house.
Craig: Whose house?
Scott: My neighbor's. The Blaire's.
Craig: Are they going to upset that you pushed down their house?
Scott: I don't think they'll mind. The Lexus the Lexus commercials...Lexuses are the only cars that can drive in the snow...wait, were we talking about cars?

Anyway, I have a friend named Sarah-Ashley who used to do a year wrap-up on her blog where she went through some of the year's best and worst aspects. I hope she'll consider doing it this year, but as long as I'm suspiciously sitting alone and awake in my friend's family room at 6:38 in the morning, I'm going to go ahead and do it myself. I hope you enjoy. Also, I hope I'm as conscious as I think I am, or else this is going to be a bit choppy.

Best Restaurant: I'm really not horribly picky. I've been lucky enough to have a good number of friends with good taste. When I'm with them I can fool the rest of the world into believing that I am somewhat cultured and a little sophisticated. I've been to my fair share of fancy restaurant this year. I even bought a $10 potato at Flemings. But to be honest, the restaurant I enjoyed the very most this year was plain old Einstein Bagles. I love Einstein Bagles. I love getting a toasted Asiago Cheese bagle with fried green tomato or jalepeno cream cheese. I love how I can get two tasty bagles for less than I can buy a baked potato at Flemings. Thanks Einstein Brothers.

Worst Restaurant: I'm not exactly sure what this place is called, but my heart is telling me it is Ganesh Indian. Consequently this was Sarah's least favorite restaurant last year. Through some decision-making process I still don't completely understand, we decided to order the goat meat. I don't know how we reached this misguided conclusion. Granted, I'm sure there are people out there who love eating goat. But I don't think the average person often thinks, "I sure can't wait to wrap my lips around that delicious goat." That person would be wrong about the goat at Ganesh Indian, at least, because I'm pretty sure each bit of goat meat was actually a small rat carcass covered in sauce. That texture really did me in.

Best Concert: Earlier this year I went to see Ben Kweller. Not only was Ben Kweller fantastic, I got a great picture with Ben Kweller where he puts his hand on my shoulder. There were ten other shoulders he could have put his hand on, and he picked one of my shoulders. I think that speaks very highly of my character. Then I got a cd signed by Ben Kweller, it was great. AND IT'S NOT OVER YET! Before Ben Kweller, a band from Provo played called Neon Trees. Not only were they a really great time, their lead singer was one of the best showmen I have seen, and their female drummer was absolutely fantastic. Plus we got to chat with this drummer afterwards, and I think she stole a bit of my heart away. And that's the truth. I encourage you to check out this band.

Worst Concert: I didn't go to many concerts this year, so I'm not going to choose a bad one. Although, listening to some of the opening bands before Neon Trees wasn't so great.

Best Movie: This is a really difficult decision. I went and saw a bunch of movies this year, and so instead of picking one favorite, I'm going to make a list in no specific order and extol their virtues
- Star Trek - Very exciting, at no point did it lose my attention. Good story, good casting, good movie.
- Avatar - I went into this movie without any huge expectations, and I thought it was fantastic. I always knew Dances With Wolves would be better if there were less American Indians and more aerial dogfights in space.
- Australia - Some people hated this movie because it was two movies packed into one very long movie. But I liked both movies, so I didn't mind that it kept going. Some people think this movie is kind of girly. Some people think I'm kind of girly for liking this movie. But I like this movie a lot, and I'm a very masculine guy. And I can prove it with that picture of me below with all the guns. Obviously those people are total idiots.
- District 9 - I saw this three times, and twice in one weekend. Very original, very clever, and even funny here and there. Excellent job.
- Drag me to Hell - I made more than one, but especially one really weird noise when I watched this movie. It made me jump a million times, with several strange sounds escaping my mouth involuntarily. Plus, it was really funny. A great time.

Worst Movie: Paul Blart: Mall Cop is very possibly the worst movie I have ever seen in my life, and definitely the worst movie I saw this year. "Hey, I've got a movie idea: overweight, somewhat unlikable mall cop rescues mall from BMX-biking, skateboard-riding, extreme sport enthusiast superthieves, who despite their super-thievery, have decided to rob a suburban mall."

Favorite Bands: I went through a lot of music this year, but the bands that continued to catch my interest were: The Generationals, Neon Trees, Miniature Tigers, and Ben Kweller. However, I spent some months finding 40's and 50's music for my grandma's birthday, and I found some excellent stuff.

Here are some music videos and what not from each one of those bands. Check it out. Or just scroll past them -

Best TV Show: I had three favorites -
- Heroes: I love Heroes. The only problem with my extreme love for Heroes is that there is nothing this show can do to drive itself into the ground that will make me stop watching it. With that said, this season has been pretty good, if a little slow now and again.
- Glee: I think Glee is really funny. Some people think Glee is kind of girly. Some people think I'm kind of girly for liking Glee. But again, if I was, then how can you account for me standing in the desert holding all of those guns?
- Survivor: I loved watching Survivor this season. Russell deserved to win, and I was disappointed that he didn't. However, it did feed my desire to eventually be on this show. Just the thought makes me shake with nervous excitement, seriously. When I think about applying for this show, I get butterflies.

Worst TV Show: I understand that Scrubs has somehow managed to pull a pretty decent crowd. Some of these people are people I think are pretty nice, intelligent people. But that doesn't stop Scrubs from being the absolutely least-funny television show I've ever seen. Watching weird people run around and do weird things with no explanation on why in the world everyone who works in this hospital is so incredibly weird drives me out of my mind.

Anyway, it's getting near the time when I'm going to be heading out on my night-long determination to eat a pancake. My ride should be arriving any minute. Not a very long list, I know. Maybe I'll extend it another time. Until then, I hope you had a fantastic New Year's Eve, and best of luck in 2010.

Final Note: I've located a few grammatical and spelling errors in this blog, but I'm not fixing them because I think they reflect how I felt at 6:00 a.m.