December 31, 2006


Topic: A review of the Best Movies of 2006

2006 was a great year for movies; this blog post is dediceated to this year in movies...

Imagine if you will that you can hear the Olympics theme song in the back of your head as you are reading this...

The Top Ten

10th Superman Returns – It was many years between Superman V: The Quest For Peace, and Superman Returns. I was surprised that this movie pulls so well from events in previous Superman films. The biggest and best surprise in Returns was that this really fits well as a sequel to the previous films. It is certainly the best sequel since part 2.

9th – Word Play – This is a great documentary, that features lots of noteworthy people. You don't have to appreciate cross word puzzles to enjoy this movie.

8th place - Flags of Our Fathers-- this is a portrayal of the lives of the American soldiers involved in the battle of Iwo Jima focused mostly on the story of the three survivors of the infamous raising of flag over Imo Jima photo. I'm looking forward to the companion film, Letters From Iwo Jima, also directed byEastwood, coming out in 2007, which focuses on the same battle but from the Japanese perspective.

7th place--Pursuit of Happyness--This was a really touching true-story about a man's determination to be a good father and the difficulty of poverty. I blogged about this one here.

6ht place--The Departed--One of the best crime dramas in a while. The acting and direction was fantastic, escipially by Nicholson, which is interesting since I read he had to be persuaded by DeCaprio and Scorsesi to do it.

5th place--The Fountain--Visually the best movie of the year. The story was compelling. Hugh Jackman was in nearly ever scene in the movie. I dedicated a post about this film here.

4th place--Science of Sleep--When I was watching Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, I knew it would be one of my favorite films ever, so I was really excited to hear that the director, Michelle Gondry was behind the lens and the script of this film. The unrequited love story was not quite as captivating as Eternal Sunshine, but the visual effects were amazing. Gondry uses only trick photography to accomplish his effects.

3rd place--The Prestige--Hugh Jackman, who plays Wolverine in X-Men was in several films this year and I think this was his best performance. Christian Bale also stares in this movie, about two dueling magicians. The Nolan brothers are such great story-tellers. I enjoyd this more that their excellent batman begins.

2nd place--Stranger Than Fiction--Little Miss Sunshine outshines Fiction in laughs, but Fiction had such a unique and touching story that reminded me so much of the writing of Charlie Kaufman, I actually thought it was by him until I saw the closing credits.

1st place--Little Miss Sunshine—Somehow I thought Little Miss would be the obvious hands-down choice for best picture this year, but it just narrowly defeats Stranger than fiction; they both have great stories filled with interesting characters and fascinating circumstances and some really hilarious moments. But Little Miss just edges past Fiction to take the Huffmania Best Picture of the Year Award 2006.

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Best movies NOT from 2006

here is a list of some great films I saw this year for the first time that were SO good but since they weren't released in '06 I won't consider them against the others: I [heart] Huckabees, Magnolia, Danny Deckchair, Primer, Human Nature, and Kinky Boots.

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Worst of 2006

The Holiday-If you read my previous blog post on The Holiday you'll understand my feelings for this film; but to make a long story short,I've come up with a theory as to why this movie was so terrible – I suspect that Hollywood commisioned a think tank to analyse what was good about Love Actually and this is the best they could come up with. They thought: the score in Love Actually is so good, lets make the American guy a score composer, and how about lets make it half American and half British to it has international appeal. ...

The biggest disappointment of '06 was 'X-men: The Last Stand' – I was looking forward to the third X-men movie ever since I walked out of the theater having seen X2 for the first time; and well I was very sadly disappointed with the direction they decided to take the story. The success of the original X-men opened the door to a lot of really good big-budget comic-book themed films such as: Spider-man, X2, Spiderman 2, Sin City, V for Vendetta, Batman Begins, etc...and some not so good ones: Daredevil, The Hulk, and so on... Considering I was really pleased with X2 (liking it a lot more than the original) it was a big let down the way X3 left the trilogy in a terrible state, and at this point there are no plans to have another sequel to fix at least some of the problems left unresolved (although two spin offs are planned, one focusing on the character Wolverine, and one on the character Magneto).

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Best movies NOT from 2006

here is a list of some great films I saw this year for the first time that were SO good but since they weren't released in '06 I won't consider them against the others: I [heart] Huckabees, Magnolia, Danny Deckchair, Primer, Human Nature, and Kinky Boots.

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Worst of 2006

The Holiday-If you read my previous blog post on The Holiday you'll understand my feelings for this film; but to make a long story short,I've come up with a theory as to why this movie was so terrible – I suspect that Hollywood commisioned a think tank to analyse what was good about Love Actually and this is the best they could come up with. They thought: the score in Love Actually is so good, lets make the American guy a score composer, and how about lets make it half American and half British to it has international appeal. ...

The biggest disappointment of '06 was 'X-men: The Last Stand' – I was looking forward to the third X-men movie ever since I walked out of the theater having seen X2 for the first time; and well I was very sadly disappointed with the direction they decided to take the story. The success of the original X-men opened the door to a lot of really good big-budget comic-book themed films such as: Spider-man, X2, Spiderman 2, Sin City, V for Vendetta, Batman Begins, etc...and some not so good ones: Daredevil, The Hulk, and so on... Considering I was really pleased with X2 (liking it a lot more than the original) it was a big let down the way X3 left the trilogy in a terrible state, and at this point there are no plans to have another sequel to fix at least some of the problems left unresolved (although two spin offs are planned, one focusing on the character Wolverine, and one on the character Magneto).

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Movies I unfortunately missed 2006:

Running with scissors, Marie Antoinette, Babel, A Prairie Home Companion, For Your Consideration, The Good Shepard

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Movies I fortunately missed in 2006:

Clerks II,

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Looking ahead: Movies in 2007...

Looking at some of the films slated to open in 2007, I'm excited for some them; most of them are going to fall into the category of action block-busters. Here is a preview...

Pan's Labyrinth. Knowing nothing about this film until I saw a preview recently before a movie, It looked gruesome and forbidding, with amazing visuals, it wasn't long until I was memorized and wondering why I hadn't heard about this before. I think maybe why is because that it's an adult-geared fairy-tale, because of the intense plot and the violent images; so it's the antithesis of Shrek from a money-making perspective, and from why I will probably love it perspective. From what Ive read it contains violence both realistic and fantastic, being that half of the movie is set in the real world, and half in a spectacular fantasy. Apparently it had it's release on December 29 2005, but for some reason it's only going to a handful of cities at a time. I really hope it swings by somewhere near Charlotte, because I feel like this is a movie I really NEED to see on the big screen.

300. In 2005 I was blown away by Sin City. It was a movie based on a graphic novel (comic book) that was beautifully transposed to film. I quickly became aware that Sin City would be a special case in the world of movies based on comics, because you simply cannot dumb-down the graphic violence of the source material, which is essentially the central character of the film, the same is true of the grown-up language, and much of the other mature content of the story. The film is an ideal translation of the graphic novel. This is a story that is intended for an adult viewing audience. In early 2007 we have another one of Frank Miller's graphic novel's being brought to the big screen; and from the look of it, 300 will be just as gruesome as Sin City was. Miller's The Dark Knight Returns batman series is considered one of the best in it's history. 300 is based on a real event in history, when 300 Spartans, on a suicide mission, were able to hold back the whole of the Persian empire.

Spider-Man 3 – I really hope Spider-Man 3 doesn't blow it the way X3: The Last Stand did for the X-men series. Spider-man 2 was my favorite so far in this series; but so was X2 in the X-men series, so I'm rightfully nervous; but unlike The Last Stand, Spidey 3 has the original director. The last trailer I watched looked promising, this may even be better than the second one.

Letters to Iwo Jima -- This is a companion film to Flags of our Fathers, also about the battle of Iwo Jima, but as told from the Japanese perspective.

Live Free of Die Hard -- Release date: June 22nd. First of all; the title sounds eerily super patriotic. But I have really enjoyed all the other films in this series. I have one big concern: Is this really going to be about terrorists? Thieves hiding behind terrorism has been a critical element of every Die Hard film so I hope that continues here. It's been years since Die Hard With A Vengeance (which was fantastic), Live Free has a legacy to live up to. Lets hope the director of the Underworld movies doesn't tarnish the franchise.

Grindhouse--Release date: April 6th - I recently found out about this. Basically it's two short retro-style action movies such as you would have seen in a 'grindhouse' in the 60s and 70s (this is a popular them for Tarantino since he draws a lot of his inspiration from the films he saw in his youth in such situations). The first of of the two films is directed by Robert Rodriguez, the second is directed by Quintin Tarantino. These guys have collaborated often in the past (From dusk til Dawn, Sin City).

28 Weeks Later--Release date: May 8th, 2007. This is a sequel to 28 Days Later, and while it doesn't involve that cast, and is directed by someone new, I'm still very much looking forward to this. In Days the setting is Britain, and the movie starts pretty much as the main character wakes up alone in a hospital with an IV in his arm after being in a coma for 28 days, during which time his country has been devastated by a blood and saliva borne pathogen that pretty much turned humans into zombies on crack. Weeks will presumably take place 28 weeks after the plot of Days; I can only hope that this film maintains the British setting because that was something I enjoyed about the original.

Sunshine--The director of 28 Days Later, Danny Boyle, has his own film coming out this year--a science fiction about a team goes to reignite the sun, part of which has died and is consequently causing havoc for Earth. They are also going to discover what happened to the first team sent to save the star that fuels life on Earth. This seems like a very original story so I'm really excited about it.

Bourne Ultimatum--Release date: August 3rd. I don't think action movies get any better than the Bourne series. They strike a perfect combination of extreme action (amazing fight scenes and car chases) with rapid story development. I enjoyed the first Bourne movie a little more than the second. My biggest complaint for the second film was the shakiness of the camera.

I am Legend--all I know about this is that it's a science fiction where Will Smith plays the last non-vampire human left on earth, which to me sounds like a very interesting premise for a movie; kinda Outer Limits-ish, or Twilight Zone-ish, and cool.

Strangly Two of my childhood obsessions are being brought back to life on the big screen this year...

TMNT – follows first two Ninja Turtles movies--I'm really not sure about this... It's not live action as the original trilogy were; instead Warner Bros., who bought the rights from New Line Cinema, to make this film have opted for Computer Generated Images. The Turtles were second only to the Transformers as childhood obsessions for me; which brings me to my next anticipated film...

Transformers- I'm very interested in seeing how this turns out. It's live action, so all of the action, and the machinery and the transformations will hopefully be very realistic--This could be an epic action film like Independence Day. It seems that many fans of the original are disappointed that this is directed by Micheal Bay; but he didn't do too bad with The Island (2004) which was a mediocre science fiction story, but it had pretty great special effects which will be critical for this live action Transformers. I'm not worried that this movie will be disappointing; if it does, it in no way taints the magic of the original series or the spectacular 1987 animated movie. But this movie does have the potential to be amazing! For some reason even though my parents knew I loved The Transformers cartoon growing up, I wasn't allowed to see the original Transformers (1987) animated film- and so one day in college I rented it and I think I know why my parents wouldn't let me see it. Spoiler Warning: pretty much all of the transformers get destroyed in the first 15 minutes of the film, including their beloved leader Optimus Prime; I'm pretty sure that would have devastated me as a child, so I thank my parents for having the foresight not to let me see it when it came out. The truth is, the 1987 movie is amazing; it even features Orson Wells in his last performance as the voice of the new super evil planet sized robot called Unicron. I'm not really worried about if the new Transformers movie will suck or not. This movie isn't a continuation of the 1987 animated film, but a retelling of the Transformers mythos from scratch. And if aplied right, this could be a huge blockbuster success.

Looking far ahead: Movies in 2008....

The Dark Knight – I really like that this movie dosen't have “Batman” in the title. I really liked what the Nolan brothers did with Begins. Bale is as good if not better than Keaton as Batman. This will be a movie that I'm very much anticipating. Cominisher Gordon was excellently portrayed by gary Oldman, who is an actor that deserves a lot of respect; he can convey so many nasty elements of human nature so well, but in Begins he also showed that he can play a humble good guy as well.


December 30, 2006


Topic: An Anniversary of Sorts...

I recently returned from a trip home over Christmas. While there I picked up the remote and turned on the tube and started scanning the channels. Up and down I went, looking for something, anything, that might distract me from the occasional awkward feeling that I get when spending time with all my family together. My family is great, they are wonderful excellent people whom I love greatly; but when combined in close quarters the emotions generated by their contrasting points of view, like powerful rays of protons aimed in opposing directions, they can have a devastating almost atom-smashing synergistic force, and that feeling can grade tremendously on my nerves. I stumbled onto the Daily Show, and gosh darn it, it was so good, just like I remembered--the perfect harmony of juvenile humor blended with relevant political satire. It was beautiful; a perfect momentary distraction from Christmas bliss.

And now that it's approaching January, for me that means it's approaching the one year anniversary that I opted to stop subscribing to cable television, or as I like to think of it: paying to pollute my mind. I cut the cord; severing the umbilical-like connection between my conscious and subconscious to the infinitely moronic and meaningless stream of s*** that poured out of my television set. There was so much potential, yet all I seem to remember is the oppressive feeling of being subjected to unscrupulous advertisements for genital enhancements and fast pollution-driven autos with mostly meaninless syndicated programming filler smashed in between; which collectively feels something like the prostitution of my soul. For the precious few shows I did enjoy I could not justify the expense for the collective mass of crap that passes for basic cable television. When it comes down to it, there was nothing so terribly beneficial about television that I felt like I'd be missing out if I gave it up. And that's about 700 dollars a year I can keep in my pocket.

So I gave it up. It was not easy. I like many of my fellow Americans had developed an addiction to the comforts of the boob-tube: the communal laughter of a studio audience, the whimsical world of Volkswagen drivers, the happy-go-lucky dumbed-down sitcoms...hmmm, I wonder: where does that word “sitcom” come from? It sounds rather peculiarly a lot like “Sit Calm,” as in “sit calmly and buy what we tell you and become what we think you should be.” but anyways, at first it felt a little strange to stare at my blank dull gray television set and realize that from now on I'd have to interact with it by choosing a movie to watch, instead of just lying back and basking in the glow of cable's dimwitted wonder. I just lacked the motivation to pick out a dvd. At first I took solace in just laying there starring up at the large gray rectangle. Then I'd get up an examine my DVD collection; but all I'd accomplish is realizing which movies I wished I had. This is typically when I wondered: Why can't I just pay for the content I want? Why must I be exposed to constant advertising? Why do I have to pay for 180 channels for 10 channels that are interesting to me?

Well what have been the effects of no cable?...I think most of all I'm starting to discover that even though I'm not terribly efficient at any particular skill I at least have slightly more ambition to do SOMETHING worthwhile with my life, even if I have no clue what that is...still.

But I'm left with one lingering question ... Is the Daily Show alone worth considering the ridiculous cost of cable television? I could try not to waste time, and what feels like my life-energy, by watching the other crap on TV. Okay, so there's the Colbert Report to factor in as well, and the American version of The Office (although the British version is far superior), and maybe a handful of other shows; but do those few shows make it worth the constant exposure to the surprisingly idiotic programming I'd have to stomach?...hmmm, I wonder: why do they call it “programming”? Maybe it's because as I watch all those redundant commercials and recycled situational comedies I'm being programmed to be an ideal complacent consumer and member of society...I ask myself: aside from the expense, is cable really so bad? After all, if it weren't for cable I'd never have discovered re-runs of Northern Exposure in high school, or episodes of The Kids in the Hall and Six Feet Under in college. Perhaps I'm giving too much credit to the real world? Well if this post was more like a television show and less like the real world, there'd be an obvious moral to this story...hmmm, does the fact that a popular show titled 'The Real World' is completely devoid of any morality make the last statement I made ironic?


Topic: Love Everlasting

Tonight I sit and think about the universe, and acknowledge my greatest fear.

To anyone who has ever felt love in their life, as I have felt, to the point where your heart felt like it would burst; this blog is dedicated to you, and so I assume that means this blog is dedicated to the whole of humanity. So it seems to me that something as passionately bitter-sweet and beautiful as love could not be a cosmic fluke, which is what it would be if the universe sprang into being without a reason.

If there is one wish I could have answered, it would be to know without question that love is everlasting, that it is eternal, that it is not bound by time or the constraints on a lifetime. I want so passionately to believe in everlasting love; I want to know that God exists and that love is the heart of God. I acknowledge that I tend to think with my heart (emotions) more than my mind, so the way I think about the universe must be biased. But, even so, my mind tells me that it cannot be rational or logical for the universe to exist by accident. Here is perhaps why...

For most of my life I've questioned religion. I think I rightfully have difficulty accepting a faith because it is written in a book. I have a hard time accepting that a book can be infallible. I want to, because the belief is a wonderful idea, and at the heart of it is the greatest of ideas; but my conscience won't let me do that, unless it can be supported by reason. On the other hand I don't have as hard a time accepting that ethical scientists applying the scientific method to be as objective as humanly possible can produce knowledge that over time is dependable.

So there is a legitimate question as to the accuracy of many religious documents' explanation the origin of the world; and as such there is a shadow of doubt for me cast on the reliability of everything else in these documents, not just their assertions about the creation of the universe. Scientists and mathematicians using what they know about the properties of the universe and their observations of starlight can determine that something as remarkable as the Big Bang is how the universe was created. Philosophers ask themselves: What was causing that to happen? And: Was there something causing that to happen? Which essentially is the same thing as asking: Is there a god? Which for me is the same thing as asking: Is there a God who created this world as an opportunity for us to exist for the sake of loving each other?

Without the consideration of love, I could easily be an atheist without any care except for myself. But because of love, every face of someone I care about is a face of tragedy if love is eventually all for nothing. I care because I just can't accept that my friends and family could ever be lost forever, even though there's no evidence to support my hope. How can someone I truly love be lost forever? How can I go on knowing that eventually everyone I have ever loved will be lost forever. What would be the point in having love if it is as easily and inevitably destroyed as our bodies? ...The root question that these questions all stems from is: How can something as precious as love be created for nothing? I firmly believe there is nothing in this universe more precious than the human capacity and experience of love--Perhaps I'm biased. I think the fear of this question is what so many people hide from. In their heart they yearn to know that love is everlasting, but feel this same realistic concern as I do, because the finite nature of life on this planet unsettles them, and so perhaps they ignore the feeling and take solace in distractions, or in faith.

But ultimately Science is what gives me hope to believe that I can know there is a God of the universe. Not long ago, I was struggling ... am struggling, with understanding my place, our place, in the universe; well really for most of my life--I want so badly to believe that there is purpose to my existence, to our existence. But it occurred to me, that whether or not something willed the universe to spring out of nothingness or not is not so important; what is important to me is this idea that there must be a force that willed there to be the possibility where a universe could spring out of nothingness. And why: because of no reason at all other than this universe did not need to exist ... does not need to exist ... nothing needs to exist; there is no knowable reason for it's existence ... So I wonder: How could there be anything unless something has made a possibility for it to exist? There didn't need to be a universe, and yet here is the universe. It's not as significant that the universe it here, as it is significant that it's possible for the universe to be here. I think ... I believe ... someone cared for there to be a universe so much that the universe happened ... is happening right now. This moment in time, the impression the breath in your lungs makes on the fabric of space-time is connected to every moment and every ounce of existence; and it took a tremendous amount of energy to bring into existence. I believe something or someone had to want for that to be possible. And what in the world for? I suggest it was in the name of love.

December 25, 2006


Merry ... Holidays!

Well I've got the car loaded up and I'm just about to go home to visit my family and I thought I'd send out a Merry Christmas message; but then it occurred to me that that's kind of exclusive of me and I was thinking how traditionally the holidays have been about celebrating what makes us unique as a group of people. For me growing up Christian that meant sharing time with my family and celebrating the birth of Christ and the enlightenment he brought to the world.

But in the world we live in today it seems more important than ever that we celebrate, love, and respect all people; not just in spite of our religious and cultural differences, but in light of our differences. We need to be about bridging the divides between us, because when it comes down to it we're not all that different. In fact, all of us are 97 percent the same genetically as a Chimpanzee (although I think my dad is a lot closer). My new years resolution is to at least understand better where other people are coming from.

So for now and the months ahead I'll say: Merry Christmas, and Happy Chaunakah (a little belated), and Happy Eid ul-Adha, and Happy Kwanzaa, and Merry Mahaparinirvana, and Happy Holaka(Pagwa), ...and for any good spirited Atheists out there (and I have wondered if I am one) well when you get a holiday you can get a holiday cheer too but I guess for right now can share in a Happy New Years!

December 24, 2006


Movie Review: The Pursuit of Happyness

A few nights ago I went with some friends to see The Pursuit of Happyness (note: the miss-spelling of happiness is intentional -- it has to do with the story). This is one of the best cinema descriptions of the struggle to overcome poverty I can remember. It doesn't focus entirely on the gloomy aspects of poverty, there are plenty of funny moments thrown in. But it accurately captures the tremendous stress of poverty, and the difference little things can make in keeping someone from being able to succeed; like not having money to cover rent, or not being able to dress appropriately for a job interview. The story is not a typical story of overcoming poverty because the main character has the advantage of being extremely determined; which in a way can be inspiring to anyone. Most of all this movie is about one man's determination to be a good father. Pursuit of Happyness is the perfect choice if you want to see a movie that captures the real spirit of the holidays.

December 23, 2006


2006: Year in Review

2006 was a remarkable year, a year unlike any other in my life. So I feel like highlighting some of the events that made this year so great. The year began in Charlotte, North Carolina where I was visiting one of my best friends, Mike, for the first time since he moved there. We were celebrating the turning of a new year at a really great neighborhood bar when at the stroke of midnight, the dawning of this year, the song Space Oddity by David Bowie came on the jukebox. I knew then: it was going to be a good year. I went back home having no idea that within a few months I'd be selling my small house and leaving behind the small town I'd grown up in, and my mom and dad, and my brother and his family, and moving to Charlotte.

January 2nd 2006 my friend Mike brought me to a local video store which he said he knew I'd love. He couldn't be more correct...Visart is quite possibly the most amazing video rental store on the planet. If a video rental store could be someone's soul mate, then Visart is mine. For proof of this I will reference an earlier visit today where I discovered they had a Christmas movie section where the employee picks usually are, and some of my personal favorite Christmas movies (although rarely praised as great Christmas movies) were on their shelf, such as: Lethal Weapon, and Batman Returns. And there were other titles like National Lampoon's Christmas vacation Part 2 (which I didn't know existed), and Santa's Sleigh, which judging by the image of Santa wielding a deadly icicle, and the description “You don't want to be on HIS list!” lets me assume it was a horror. I assume Die Hard must have been checked out, because that certainly has to be the greatest Christmas movie of all time. And I also think Star Wars: The Empire Stricks Back (which is certainly the best star wars film, although I admit this is coming from someone who doesn't really love the star wars movies. And why? Dune! That's why; the book, not the movie...the movie by David Lynch isn't bad, it's just not the same) should also be on that list because it starts off on a snowy planet; and I'm sure at some point you've seen a tie-fighter Christmas tree ornament in your lifetime. Since I don't really love or covet star wars, I think it would have been cool if they could have somehow tied in Christmas, because then I could love it as one of the greatest Christmas movies of all time...but I digress...

Shortly after my trip to Charlotte, I flew down to visit my married friends Robert and Carla who at the time lived in Texas, and I got to see what living near a military base was like; we also visited Austin, Fort Worth, and Dallas. It's not like I hadn't noticed how large Texas is on the map of the USA; but Texas just feels bigger than other places when you're riding on those wide open highways. The rodeo in Fort Worth kind of summed up all of my expectations of what Texas would be like--very proud, more proud to be part of Texas than proud to be part of the US; but it was a fun experience even if I did feel the whole time like I was sticking out like a sore thumb. Austin on the other hand is very alternative (their motto is: “keep Austin weird”), and has one of the best bar-scenes around. I ask myself: Does Austin really belong in Texas?? And I think the answer is yes; because I like to think that if the state of Texas were the big white swish of a Yen-Yang sign, then Austin would be it's little black dot. That's not to say that the rest of Texas is evil, it's just Texas.

It was not long after I had returned from Texas that it occurred to me that maybe I really should consider moving to Charlotte; and so I applied to a full time volunteer position for a non-profit organization I had heard about and was offered an interview. The interview was my second visit to Charlotte. It was the night before the interview that my friend Mike asked me to be the best man in his wedding. I was so surprised and honored, I didn't really care how well the interview the next morning would go. Weeks later, I got the news they were offering me the position. When she called, my now supervisor said if I needed time to think it over, that would be perfectly fine. But this felt like the biggest no-brain-er so far in my life-- I immediately accepted the position. And so I was nervous but I knew in my heart it was well past the time for something new, for a little adventure, for a chance to do something good with my life, to see a little more of this amazing planet where we humans make our home. I moved to Charlotte in May. I had one final get together in my house with my college friends the weekend before I had to have all of the stuff that had accumulated removed for the signing of the contract with the attorneys. I was literally running back and forth from the moving van to my house just finishing only 10 minutes before I was scheduled to meet at the attorney's office—I was racing so hard I'm pretty sure my body was going into some kind of shock and I was covered in a nervous cold sweat. What a strange feeling that was, rushing to empty your house, throwing everything I owned into trash bags and cramming them all into my vehicle and a rental truck and finishing only mere moments before the deadline--I would describe that feeling to being something like walking outside and discovering a dragon has landed behind your home and there is flames spurting from it's breath and realizing that if you don't sleigh this dragon right now you'll loose everything since you don't have dragon house burning coverage with your insurance. I do miss my house. It was a really great feeling to know that I had my own tract of earth on this world to call my own. It is a feeling I believe everyone should have the opportunity to have, which ironically made it feel a little easier to give up my house and set off to do the sort of work that I do.

Charlotte has been so easy to feel at home because of the amazing friends that I've made since I arrived here. There are some pretty amazing people here. A lot of my friends are into outdoor games; So I've enjoyed playing Ultimate Frisbee, and Pick-up Soccer games, and the Softball league I was on (we had some good moments, but only won one game out of the season, by forfeit of the other team).

Back in early August I went on a trip to meet the rest of the bridal party for Mike and Carrie's wedding. We stayed in a house on Tybee Island not far from Savannah Georgia. Tybee Island is a nice little bohemian community; it's quaint, and close enough to Savannah to make a trip into that city relatively easily. The house we were staying in was not so typical; it contained bizarre art that some of us found a little disconcerting, but I enjoyed. (I believe it also contained some sort of mold because the week after our trip to Tybee island I was fairly sick while in Atlanta for some training.) Mike's sisters brought along diet sodas and mentos to practice the now infamous mentos experiment. You can see the video I recorded here. It was great to meet everyone and get a preview of the wedding experience. In the group photo below you can see, from left to right: Penny, Dave, Jess, Jen, Carrie (above), Mike (above), Maureen, Meghan, and me.

I had the opportunity to go to two pretty good concerts this year: First was a Tom Petty concert here in Charlotte. It was my first Petty concert. The lead singer for Phish opened for Petty, and Stevie Nicks made a guest appearance for several songs. I drank a lot of expensive crappy beer, and at the end of the evening as I was going to pee in the woods near where our car was located I slipped and tumbled down a 30 foot slope in total darkness in the trees; that in itself was kind of a surreal experience. The other concert I saw was in Athens, Georgia -- it kind of came about randomly -- I went with my friends Carly, Brian, and Amy. I ended up driving and when we got there we met up with a girl named Anna who lives in Athens. I really liked the city for the short amount of time we spent there. We had dinner at this amazing restaurant called The Grit. I never would have guessed that it was vegetarian; or maybe I just have low expectations of what vegetarian food is like. My Parmesan with chicken-like-substance was fantastic, I would not have known the difference. The band we went to see was called Rogue Wave and their song 'Bird on a Wire' is one of my favorites from this year. There was an opening singer named Jason Collette who was also pretty good. The venue was excellent; it wasn't a large room. There were probably only about 40 people tops at the show, although I'm sure it could hold a lot more; at the end the band came off the stage and played an acoustic encore amongst the crowd. We didn't leave Athens until about 1AM in the morning, so I didn't get home until about 4AM and had to get up a few hours later for work, but it was well worth the experience of seeing Athens and a great concert.

In the weeks leading up to Mike and Carrie's wedding I was a little concerned about my responsibility for throwing a bachelor party. We had about 100 dollars worth of steak, and a good selection of beer. Someone else brought some decent cigars, and a bunch of guys hung out to celebrate Mike's decision to share his life with the girl he loves.

Everything about the wedding ceremony for Mike and Carrie made it the most beautiful wedding I've ever attended, and I haven't been to a lot, but man this one was great. Everything from the vows, to the music, to the readings and the blessing, to the home-made wedding invitations, was all chosen by Mike and Carrie, and is was all the work of their friends and family.

As much as it was an honor to be chosen to be Mike's best man, it was exponentially more terrifying to think about giving the best man's speech. Months leading up to the wedding I began agonizing over what I'd say--I don't enjoy speaking in front of large groups of people, especially when trying to be funny. But Mike is a great friend and I know that no matter how I botched up the speech he'd still love me; but for his and Carrie's families and for everyone else's sake I was very nervous about looking like a Jack ass in front of them; I didn't want to ruin an otherwise perfect day.

I don't remember exactly what I said, I do have a vague idea of the points I was trying to convey. I was so nervous I sneaked into the library right after the wedding ceremony to go over what I was going to say, but each time I tried to re-memorize a phrase all I got was a blank slate. In the end I decided to use my notes as a guide, and moments before it was time to speak I quickly drank a glass of wine and a bottle of beer, on a stomach filled with nothing but anxiety. With my heart already beating at a fast pace, it didn't take long for the alcohol to have an affect. But I was fortunate because the alcohol had exactly the right affect-- it made it much easier to speak in front of the large group of people while wondering why my voice over the speakers sounds like I haven't hit puberty yet, but it didn't significantly impair my cognitive functioning so much that I wasn't able to speak at least somewhat intelligently, and it all seemed to miraculously come together; at least I think so because most people said it was a good speech. I keep trying to convince myself they were being honest. A few days later a friend asked me how it felt that my first joke bombed but all the rest were a success. I thanked him because all I could remember about the speech was the first joke bombing.

The rest of the reception was a lot more relaxed for me, and my memories are a lot more fuzzy thanks to the wine taking its effect, but it was nice to see my old college friends and dance with them and reminisce about our college days. The wedding was a beautiful experience.

After the wedding reception, some of my friends and I loaded up in a 12 passenger van for a side venture to Montreal, Quebec. Montreal is one of the most interesting cities I've ever visited, there was so much beautiful architecture, plus the fact that there was French everywhere made it kind of exciting, like really visiting a foreign country; no offense intended to Canadians, but the rest of Canada seems really American. We ran into some interesting street performers. One man stood motionless with a sign next to him that said, “Free Hugs” At first I didn't have the courage to receive a hug from this man, but Amy did. The following day somehow I found the courage to get a hug.

In November I went for more job training in the mountains, after which I met up with my friend Dave to check out the Asheville Film Festival. I enjoyed the independent films, and Asheville was gorgeous. It may be the most beautiful town in North Carolina.

I've seen some pretty great movies this year. The Prestige, The Fountain, The Science of Sleep, Stranger Than Fiction, Little Miss Sunshine; were all excellent. I enjoyed an opportunity recently to help a group of my friends who were building a set of shelves for a church that provides day care and after school care. I really love my job in Charlotte, each day is filled with new and interesting challenges. I hope I can make a difference here. It has been a really wonderful year, and I am very thankful to God and all of my family and friends for that.

2006 was a great year for a lot of things so look for a 'best of' for 2006 post coming out soon...

And look for a 'best of' movies of 2006 post as well...


Topic: Bumper sticker idea

I'm kind of surprised that I've never seen a bumper sticker that says: “Get Bent” that phrase seems perfect for a bumper sticker.

Another great possible use of the phrase “Get Bent” would be in a science fiction movie where the villain is a robot, or cyborg, or a machine of some sort, and at the climatic final battle, the human hero has a gun aimed at the robot and is about to shoot it which will cause it to fall into an large industrial-style grinding machine (or maybe they have already done something to cause the robot to fall into a large industrial-style grinding machine), and right before he, or she, pulls the trigger (or hits the "on" switch), they say “Get Bent!” ... then boom followed by crunching sounds. As you may recall, a good catch phrase was a critical ingredient in action movies in the 80s and 90s. The Terminator had, “I'll be back” John McClain had “Yippy-ki-yay Mother F***er”

Right now I'd like to say Get Bent to blogger for forcing me to switch to the new and improved version. I like the old one. And it wasn't nice of you to switch the placement of where you put the sign-in to trick me into logging in with the signing up for the new blogger option. very sneaky blogger people. I felt safe and comfortable with the old service...

December 22, 2006


I have two things to say about Hot Chocolate:

1) There are few things in life as fulfilling as a cup of hot chocolate that has two packages of hot chocolate mix stirred into it.

2) The song “You sexy thing” by the artist “Hot Chocolate” is not a work of musical genius; but I will remember it always because that was what I saw on Christmas Eve on the BBC in 1997 when I was visiting my sister in London, and it is a song I would like to someday dance with my wife to at our wedding reception.

December 21, 2006


Topic: Human beings-more than the sum of our parts.

Here is a little more of my personal philosophy on life and the importance of human existence...

The thing that I find really amazing about humanity and what I believe makes us truly special in the universe is that we are so much more than the bodies we are physically constructed with—we are so much more than the sum of our parts. In fact, our bodies just give us a means to have the opportunity to experience the human perspective on existence. And thus they provide us with an opportunity to make a beneficial difference in the world we live in, rather than just try to substantiate the status-quo.

Existence itself is not reliant on conscious self reflective awareness (To use the infamous Tree-Falling riddle as an example: “If a tree falls and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?” I say: “yes”, because the sound is not contingent on it being heard), but without conscious self-reflective awareness there may not be any relevance to existence. And yes that is presupposing that there must be a point to existence in the first place, and there isn't any grounds for assuming that there be a point to existence; except one: I think there must be a willful force involved for there to be a 'potential' for something like our universe, or anything for that matter, to be able to exist—this is in fact the proof I believe is all I need to know there must be a God). To me it's not about why would the universe exist; it's about why could the universe exist. The particular scientific mechanics behind the formation of the universe are not important, it is that there is even a possibility for there to be mechanics behind the formation of the universe that convinces me there must be a willful and ultimately responsible force behind all of existence. I am willing to take a leap of faith and assume, regardless of the scientific mechanics of how humanity was begotten (evolution, etc.), that the characteristics of having self-reflective awareness and being given the ability to be compassionate were intentional, because human self-reflective awareness alone is not why I think humanity is truly special in the universe, but rather it is the human capacity for compassion that makes me personally have reason to believe that within humanity lies what is most sacred in all of existence -- our capability to be empathetic and to love each other. This I believe is perhaps the reason for existence, a reason why a willful creative force established the potential for the universe to exist in the first place, which is what I believe led to the creation of the universe, and the evolution of humanity.

Part of human experience is that we are also the animal beings that consists of our bodies and our minds, and all the chemical reactions that ensue. Our primal urges are just as relevant to our experience as any intelligent pursuits, and should be celebrated as such. All this makes me wonder one particular question: Are humans more important than any other species? My gut reaction is: Yes—obviously. I think it should be obvious that the individual human is more important than an individual chipmunk for instance, or maybe even a whole forest of chipmunks, but in the grand scheme (a.k.a. the big picture) humanity is not necessarily more important than any other species because all life is interrelated. I read or heard somewhere that if you count up the cells in the confines of your body, there are more bacteria combined than the cells than the cells with your dna that make up your body. That's a very fascinating thought to me—and it demonstrates the idea that we are interdependent on other species that constitute the biosphere.

I think if more people understood that their body is a means to experience a human perspective on existence they would less obsessed with things like exterior beauty and commercialized trivial matters and more willing to do something constructive with their human experience. material things and exterior beauty are transitory; the virtues of demonstrating compassion and being empathetic are part of the inherent beauty of existence. As a free citizen I have the right to approve of urges that are the product of human instinct, but I am also free to reject the manipulation of human instincts by elements of society such as commercialism.

I guess the main point I'm attempting to make is that the sanctity (And I don't mean 'sanctity' necessarily in connotation with any particular religious sense) of humankind is in itself justification for the possibility of existence. We are so much more than the flesh and blood we are made with -- we carry within us all the potential for love and being compassionate for each other, which gives purpose and meaning to everything.

December 20, 2006


More Tech Talk: Here are my thoughts on MP3 players

For months I've been considering the options when it comes to purchasing a portable MP3 player; here is a rundown based on what I have researched...There are basically two categories of MP3 players: 1) less expensive-flash based players that are limited by quantity of memory and thus the number of songs, that use far less battery power and transfer songs much faster; and 2) more expensive hard-drive based players that offer huge storage capacity and large screens that can play video.

When it comes to the first category – flash-based players -- There are two strong contenders: The Ipod Nano, which there is now an 8GB version available, and the Sansa (who was first to have an 8GB player available) which is manufactured by SanDisk, considered to be the leaders in flash memory. Personally I like the Sansa, it has a pretty rugged titanium back cover, and is a lot cheaper than an equivalent Ipod nano. If only it could play video it would be the perfect little player. The Sansa is getting very positive reviews, but the safest bet is the Ipod nano.

Of the hard-drive players: there are three options I would consider.

Option1: Zune -- Great hardware meets Idiotic Software. From what I hear and read (I'm too poor to actually own one) The Zune itself is a beautiful piece of technology; it's got a 3-inch screen, plays video and audio, and it can connect wirelessly to other Zunes for music transfer. However; the Zune is not compatible with Microsoft's own Plays-for-sure concept, so other non-Microsoft subscription services aren't compatible with the Zune; instead you are forced to use the new service called Zune Marketplace. Zune also automatically encrypts music with DMR so that even if an MP3 wasn't previously protected, it will be thanks to the Zune. The good news is that the stupidity of the software of the Zune can be fixed theoretically either by hacked firmware, or if Microsoft learns from it's mistakes and changes it's restrictive concept for the Zune.

If you really want to get a good lowdown on the Zune you need to listen to Episode 76 of TWiT (This Week in Technology), a great podcast from Leo Laporte. I have become a TWiT junkie. I've was a listener of Leo Leporte way back when he hosted The Screen Saver on TechTV; before TechTV's parent company was bought and it was merged into the video game network G4, which was the end of TechTV.

Option 2: Toshiba's Gigabeat. The Zune isn't as novel as you might think; it's actually based on the Gigabeat by Toshiba. The Gigabeat when it first came out was hailed as the “Ipod Killer” but from what I hear, just as with the Zune, there has been little impact on Ipod sales. At the moment the Gigabeat is available in up to 60 GB, with a 2.5 inch screen, it plays video so you can download your favorite shows, and it's very affordable when you compare specs with the Ipod. It lets you interface with MS MediaPlayer (unlike the Zune strangely) for transfering music. It's rumored there will be cool accessories for the Gigabeat like the Zune will have and the Ipod has currently. My main concern is that since Toshiba has it's hands full making Zune's for MS, it's conceivable that the Gigabeat will be left behind.

Option 3: Ipod. The Ipod is the bread and butter for Apple. It's the standard by which other MP3 players try to measure up to. It's more expensive than third-party systems, but it offers tons of cool accessories, like car FM transmitters/chargers. It is set up to work with Itunes, just as the Zune is set up to work only with MediaPlayer, but the difference is that the

My recommendation: Get an Ipod. Sure it's more expensive for your bang per buck. But in the end you can be sure Apple will always stand behind the Ipod, and the Ipod will be the industry standard.


Time for some more Tech Talk: PS3 verses Gears of War – what game system to buy?

I don't have much time for video games anymore but I can't help but feel some excitement when I read about the new systems coming out; I guess it's my inner geek coming out... Between the two powerhouse video game machines available right now, the 360 and the PS3, I might need to revise my earlier theory that the PS3 is a better purchase than the 360; especially for this holiday season of 2006. Mostly thanks to the Gears of War trailer I saw in a theater before a movie recently, the game looked breathtakingly gorgeous on a theater-size screen; and although I was annoyed that a video game trailer was showing a before the movie I was waiting to see, I must admit that was a really smart marketing strategy. Showing the graphic capabilities of the game on a movie theater screen using the song 'mad world' which many gamers will connect with because of it's association with the cult classic film Donnie Darko, and the lyrics match very well with the concept of playing a game like Gears. I heard on the Podcast 'Press Start' (a podcast about video games by NPR) that part of the fun of Gears of War is that the developers used live action footage to inspire the camera dynamic of the game, so there is shakiness and it feels much more like you're playing in a movie environment and not detached as you can feel in a lot of similar games.

Still from what I've read so far about the PS3 verses the 360, it seems to indicate the PS3 is a better piece of hardware. The 360 has been on the market for a year, so there has been enough time for developers to create a an impressive game such as Gears. In a year from now, the PS3 may have some spectacular games to offer as well. So if it's a choice between the systems, it's a tough call but I'd go with the PS3 if you can spare 600 bucks. If you can afford to have all three next gen systems (because how can you NOT want to own the inexpensive innovative and fun little Nintendo Wii?) then I'd get the 360 now and get the PS3 sometime next year. The Wii should be first on your list.

December 18, 2006


Topic: So much to be thankful for...

Today was a great example for me to see the opportunity we have to, in Ghandi's words, “be the change we want to see in the world”. Some of my best friends and I got together to build shelves and storage cubbies for a church that provides after-school care for children. My friends are a lot more talented at crafting things than I, so it's hard to gauge how much help I actually was; and most of them are in much better shape than me so by the end of it I was struggling to hide how tired I was.

It really dawned on me how in need people can be sometimes as we finished and I thought about what the lives the kids who benefited from this church might be like and what a blessing it is that this church provides them a dinner every night. What a difference one meal can make. It takes so much energy to escape poverty, every little positive difference is significant. I take so much of the opportunity and good fortunes that I have received for granted and on a good day I might have 70 percent of my life together. But most of all today helped me to see how so much of my own time and our societies time in general that is wasted on unimportant things.


Topic: To all the Huffmania fans...

I feel the need to give a 'shout out' to the Huffmania fans out there: This “Holla” is for you!

December 16, 2006


Movie Review: 'Love, not really'...(actually: 'The Holiday')

Yesterday I went to see the movie The Holiday. Now this was not a movie I was planning on seeing, but I had just gotten home from the grocery store and as I ran past some of the girls in the building I live in with eight filled plastic bags of groceries cutting off the circulation in my left hand they invited me to go see a movie with them. I hesitated and then said: “Yeah!” I hesitated only because I already knew The Holiday was going to be terrible by the way it's been promoted as the latest crappy romantic feel-good comedy. But when a group of ladies ask me to go to the movies, how can I say 'no'? Research opportunities like that don't come along everyday.

While I don't necessarily object to movies that emphasize the importance of feel-good hugs, and male crying, there were parts of the story that made absolutely no sense to me ... (like how does a travel website make any money if people just switch homes and there is no money exchanged? Why didn't Cameron Diaz go to jail for driving without a British driver's license? Why would anyone just trust a complete stranger to live in their house?) For a good movie I can suspend my disbelief, but this was not the case. The characters in The Holiday were at least kind of likable; Cameron Diaz even started to grow on me by the end. I guess I just get annoyed by movies that are so predictable and are obviously trying to elicit emotions from me; mostly because for the most part they work and I end up resenting myself for buying into this sappy crap. I'm not ashamed to admit that I liked Love Actually, but that movie was actually good. The acting in Holiday was actually fair, but by no means capable of making up for the predictable sappy and often unbelievable story; but by the end of the movie the overall experience had improved to the point of feeling like a mildly anesthetized castration. I feel kind of like Scrooge bashing this movie so much but if you want to see a good romantic comedy, check out Science of Sleep, or rent Love Actually, but if you can help it, mind the gap and skip The Holiday all together: 2 out of 5.

December 13, 2006


Movie Review: The Fountain ... and thoughts about the content of existence

Two nights ago I went to see the movie The Fountain with a couple friends. This was one of the most visually amazing cinema experiences I've ever had. I read that Aronofsky decided to use bacteria cultures magnified to represent star dust, rather than computer generated affects, which I really appreciated. The nebulae are memorizing and have a natural quality that I doubt any synthetic computer generated effects could duplicate. While watching the film I felt like the characters, and the imagery, seemed to represent something more, like elements of the film were tapping into Jung's concept of the Collective Unconsciousness (i.e. Hugh Jackman was the same character, existing in three separate times). Basically the story of the film literally transcended the characters experiencing it.

There have been a fair amount amount of negative reviews for The Fountain, which I can only attribute as perhaps many of the critics were carrying certain expectations when they went to see it. One of the reasons I've been anticipating this film is that I read Aranofsky described The Fountain as what happens when you listen to David Bowie's Space Oddity while you are writing. I think The Fountain is ahead of it's time. If for no other reason than the rich imagery this movie deserves a positive review, but the story and concept of the movie, along with excellent performances forve me to give this movie no less than 4.5 out of 5.

...I have some tangents to investigate...

On the ride home from the movie we were talking about the number Pi because it is the title of another Aranofski film, and how remarkable a mathematical concept it is. And that got me thinking how mathematics are truly universal -- mathematics are the study of the unchangeable textures of existence. And since I do believe there must be a God responsible for the possibly for a universe to exist, it kind of indirectly occurred to me that maybe the ultimate way to communicate with God will be threw mathematics; or another way to look at it, maybe God has left us a message in the mathematical constructs of the universe; perhaps we will uncover this message by solving Einstein's “theory of everything”, the unified field theory. Maybe traditional notions of communication do not apply and the message is lived in our human experience; essentially our lives are the message. I have a philosophy that humans are the creative manifestation of God's awareness. That's how I interpret the “golden rule” and the message from Jesus that we should love God by loving each other. If God is responsible for everything, then of course God is communicating to us threw mathematics, and threw every aspect of experience, from the mundane to the extraordinary. Then God's message is in time itself, in space, in the chemical reactions in our bodies, but most importantly in the smile on a friend's face.

Thinking about the consistency of mathematics, which are a conceptual framework that the forces of nature all adhere to, it occurred to me that human experience is made up of two things: 1) certain unchangeable phenomenon (such as mathematics, or the shape of a sign-curve, the forward direction of time, the structure of the periodic table, and so on) that structure the environment we have named the universe, and 2) our ability to be creative with these rudimentary components of existence; such as the way we are able to take those basic colors of the visible light spectrum and create an image with infinite shades and tints; we can paint a picture that transcends the image on the canvas, and touches some part of our shared experience. What we think of as Art is exactly this creative manipulation of the components of existence.

Maybe there is a connection with our ability to be creative with the basic components of existence and the possibility that there is a way to communicate with God. Then again, maybe it's just wishful thinking. We can certainly be thankful for all the amazing ways our bodies are able to receive and transmit meaningful expressions and experiences threw our senses.


New Addition: Greatest Movies List

I've just compiled a list of my favorite movies of all time with links to respective IMDb pages. This is a work in progress, so films may come and go from this list...

Here is the list:

December 8, 2006


Movie Reviews: 'The Prestige' and 'Stranger than Fiction'

Here are a couple movie reviews. I've had some really fulfilling movie-viewing experiences in the last two weeks, the kind that really make you feel happy and appreciative of any moment life has to offer. The kind that make you aware of the transcendent nature of the universe and our role in it, and see clearly that life is a lot more substantial than just the day to day things we needlessly occupy our time with...

The Prestige

Last week I saw the film The Prestige with my friend Mike and I was very impressed. I didn't realize the term “prestige” meant the third part of a magician's act; but according to Wikipedia that's because the term was made up by the author for the book on which the movie is based, which is funny because I would have believed it otherwise. This film is directed by Christopher Nolan, and the screenplay is written by Christoper and his brother Jonathan Nolan. It stars Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Scarlet Johanson, Piper Perabo, and Rebecca Hall. Warning this review does contain some movie spoilers. I figured out the trick ending (well both of them) of the Prestige pretty early on in the film (or at least; I think I had); the clues were there, but that didn't detract from my enjoyment of the film whatsoever, and there are certainly things I didn't pick up on the first time watching it. I could see how the Nolans had planted several hints that if you didn't see the trick ending coming you could appreciate them during a second viewing.

One of the most interesting aspects of this movie is that the roles of protagonist and and antagonist are played by both main characters, each having a surprise ending, and each having emotional depth. As with many films that play with personal ethics and show various points of view for a single character, using non-linear story-telling is crucial. The acting was good by both leading characters, my only disappointment was that the second of the two trick-endings was what I expected. I wanted to be surprised by Hugh Jackman's version of The Transporting Man; but that aside, the movie was very well constructed with it's non-linear story-telling and stellar performances. Scarlett Johanson gets more than my benefit of the doubt ever since I fell in love with her character in Sophia Coppola's Lost in Translation. The Prestige was definitely a great movie and lives up to it's name -- 4.5 out of 5.

Stranger than Fiction

Wow! I just saw the movie Stranger than Fiction (2006) and was blown away. Now I should say that while I LOVED it, this movie may not be everyones cup of tea (to use a lousy way over-used cliché). I went into this movie thinking that it was written by Charlie Kaufman (but I got to the movie a little late after getting somewhat lost on some back roads, buy hey Charlotte is a confusing city, and consequently I missed the opening credits) and I was very pleased with the content of the movie and how it well produced it was; so I was surprised that it wasn't written by and has nothing to do with Charlie Kaufman when I saw the closing credits. But I think it's worth noting that if you're a fan of movies written by Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, Human Nature, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) I believe you will enjoy this film. It has many of the themes that are common in Kaufman-written movies such as: an absurd story line, and complimentary oddly-disconcerting soundtrack, the characters go threw immense personal struggle that is extraordinary but shows a lot about our own human nature, and it makes you feel a lot of different emotions as you watch it. There must be some conspiracy going on here, because this really seems like it should be a Charlie Kaufman movie.

***spoiler warning***

The plot of the movie is: Will Ferrell's character lives a very simple life as an IRS auditor, then suddenly he begins hearing a voice in his head that narrates pieces of his life. Soon after this begins happening Ferrell's character is assigned auditing a young baker, played by Gylenhaal, who he immediately feels an attraction for; her character is snarky and hilarious and at first despises Ferrell's character by the nature of his job; but soon she sees a humbleness and humility in him that she finds endearing. Meanwhile everything the narrator says happens accurately, which is becoming very disconcerting to Ferrell's character, especially when he hears the narrator say: “little did he know” an action he takes would lead to his eminent death, and so Ferrell's character seeks out the advice of a literary expert, played by Hoffman. I love movies like this, where as a moviegoer you are asked to suspend your disbelieve of certain irrational aspects of the movie (another common thread to Charlie Kaufman movies), because when you think about it: life only makes sense because it does. That is to say: what reason is there really for why there would be so much order to this experience we've been taught to refer to as LIFE? There is of course no observable reason for there to be anything -- therefor not even any reason for us to have the capability to consider why there would be any observable reason for there to be anything, whatsoever.

The portrayal of the characters was fantastic. Dustin Hoffman, who plays a sage-like character, and Emma Thompson, as the writer of Will Ferrell's character's life and fate, were great. Will Ferrell is becoming one of my favorite actors. When Ferrell's character is asked by Hoffman's character: What is his favorite word? ...he responds: “Integer.” How perfect for someone whose career and personal life is obsessed with numbers to the level of OCD. You could really see the squareness and orderly world that Will Ferrell's character lived in threw the cinematography of this film. Which contrasted very poignantly with the total resistance to structure that Maggie Gylenhaal's character strives for. Maggie Gylenhaal is awesome in real life and in this movie! In this role she epitomizes everything that I think is sexy. Thank you Maggie for actualizing my fantasies on the big screen.

**Spoiler Warning**

As I was watching the film I felt conflicted about the impending ending. The whole movie is leading up the end, quite literally for the main character; so you feel conflicted as you watch it, you want everything to work out, but you also can't appreciate a story when the plot wraps up everything nicely which is not realistic. (But then what in this movie is meant to be realistic?) So I think some people may hate the ending because of it's simple and happy ending-style wrap-up of the story, but as I watched it, it occurred to me that the movie was in a way defying expectations, by allowing the main character to survive it also shows a transition of Emma Thompson's character, and doesn't take away from the choice to face his fate knowingly. ***spoilers over***

This movie belongs in my profound life-changing list of greatest movies of all time.

December 4, 2006


Topic: Be Informed! Alternative Media

Back when I was a cable subscriber I felt compelled to have cable television to be in touch with news, and worldly events, but now there really isn't any television programming I consider to justify the price. So I gave it up, and with the Internet and alternative media sources, I've never felt more informed as to what's going on in the world. There is some content that I miss (the Daily Show most notably), so I wish there was a way I could have network programming as a subscription service.

A few days ago I was listening to an NPR report on alternative media, about how mainstream media felt threatened by alternative media's increasing popularity; and they should be, with alternative media individuals can choose the direction of their information instead of being spoon feed the useless irrelevant information on the traditional network news sources. A few alternative media outlets I'll discuss here include: NPR, Google News, Podcasting, and Blogging


NPR (National Public Radio), has long been a love in my life. I've always found the programming of NPR to be of higher quality to any television programming period. This might be because they are competing with for-profit advertising based media sources, so I feel they have a cleaner slate to work with and are more objective in their reporting, and since they are on the radio I feel they have to compete harder to get consumer attention. The result is a much higher quality and intriguing service.

Since NPR is non-profit and funds it's programming threw sponsorship and donations, I feel like it qualifies as an alternative media source. The benefits of NPR over other alternative programming is that, while they are structured in a corporate way, they are also more readily accessible (over air waves) than other alternative medias, and they have greater checks and balances as far as the quality of their content in the same way that for-profit media sources have except with respect to actually informing their listeners with much more relevant content. Shows like This American Life, Prairie Home Companion and Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me really succeed in being entertaining and informative and shows like All Things Considered, and Fresh Air are excellent daily digests of world news that I find far more relevant that the subject matter in typical Prime Time television news shows. If you have access to NPR, and chances are you do, then I highly suggest you turn off the television and spend more time listening to your local public radio.

Google News

There are two big advantages to Google news. For starters, your have diversity in the sources on any particular topic, so you can read about an event from multiple and conflicting points of view, which can be extremely helpful for separating out Fact from Opinion. The second advantage of Google News is that you can customize it to your particular interests. You can easily generate a Google account without having to use Google's gmail, but I can see no reason why you wouldn't also want to have a Gmail account. Once you do, you can arrange the location of a news topic in any particular location on your page, and you can add or delete the Standard sections of news compiled by Googles search engines, or add or delete Custom sections of news using Google's search engine for issues that you are concerned about. Take a look at this page, a blend of Standard Content and content that I find personally interesting. Link:


Podcasting is the new underground media, and while it may not be mainstream yet I can imagine a time in the near future when mainstream media will migrate to a podcasting format by utilizing computers with Internet access as a way to distribute traditional broadcasting (there are many popular television shows already available as downloadable Podcasts). But until that day it's going to remain mostly underground, and thus more directly influenced by people with a Geeky persuasion, which is why I'm listing a couple of my favorite “geeky” podcasting sources.

Apples I-Tunes is very cool because of it's simplicity. Once you register it's very easy to log in and purchase media, but there is also a lot of free content that can be accessed with I-Tunes. I like to use it because it automatically updates my Podcasts, which otherwise would be dificult to keep up with; in this way it functions like a network television provider except that I control the content. You can download the podcasts (often as an MP3 file) manually from many of the homepages for these podcasts, but using I-tunes makes it a lot easier to manage them.

TWiT and net@night are two great podcasts that are a product of the brain of Leo Leporte, a former personality of the TechTV television channel which I very much enjoyed before it's demise. If you're interested in technology related topics, then I strongly recommend you tune in to these shows. On this show, he has a team of industry experts connected by telephone and/or the Internet to discuss recent technology related news. It's often witty and amusing to listen to as well as very informative. You can get it here.

Net@night is an an Internet show with Leo and co-host Amber MacArthur that utilizes an Internet service called TalkShoe to allows you to listen and call in live on the internet, which is something that's unheard of in the podcast world as far as I know. Of course the actual podcast inself is produced after the fact. But the idea of a live Internet-exclusive broadcast is fairly revolutionary. This show might represent where the Internet is heading as far as alternative media. The net@night show is available here.

PressStart, is an alt.npr* podcast focused on video games. This show brings together video game enthusiasts to discuss video games, not just for their game content, but also on topics such as how they relate with society and that sort of thing. Each episode ends with the cast members revealing what they are currently playing. Check it out here.

*Alt.npr is an alternative, podcast based, collection of programming that covers specific topics. Another alt.npr podcast I enjoy is Youthcast, a podcast pertaining to the issues children face in school and life: their home is here.

GeekDrome - which is a Vodcast (video podcast) - If the idea of Podcasting seems to be somewhat Geeky, then this Podcast would be the Leaning Tower of Piza of Podcasts. It represents basically every geeky commodity (love of science fiction, comic books especially Spiderman, reviewing movie trailers, etc.) all rolled into one Vodcast: Once you've finished watching the self-programing geekyness of the opening credits you'll understand. This is really a great example of the power of alternative media. It's excellent content that is focused on a niche group, but because of innovative technology it's made possible for distribution. GeekDrome is part of the Revision3 (another spin off of TechTV) and is available here.


There are Blogs all over the Internet. Even the Terminator has it's own Blog, it's named very aptly, The Blogginator; but instead of describing the ways to prevent John Conner from defeating the machines, it's devoted to California politics. I'm ashamed to admit it was long after the advent of Blogging that I learned that the word 'blog' was short for 'web log.' I need to get on a soap box for a moment: I don't like Internet slang, mostly because it's an indication that technology is becoming more and more a mainstream experience, meaning it's now in the hands of adolescent children with little appreciation for their technological elders. But most of all I cant stand the the overuse of Internet acronyms that help instant messengers speed up their conversations; it's fine to use these in instant messaging conversations, but they don't belong in the real world, or on blogs, FWIW! Okay that's it, I'm done complaining.

The bottom line is: now that our society is growing increasingly technologically centered, and innovation has advanced the possibilities for communication, there is much greater opportunity for alternative media to thrive, which can only be a good thing since the more you know the better decisions you can make in the world.

Now please excuse me, I'm going to watch a Geekdrome episode about the upcomming movie “300.”

December 1, 2006


Topic: Landscapes

Today while riding in a trunk I witnessed a glorious sunset. It looked very tranquil; with clouds covering a great big shinning disk in the sky. Then I considered the way I think about the Sun, the star Sol that our home world Earth orbits around. I often take all the energy it gives for granted. I remember learning that some ancient cultures worshiped the sun as a god, like a fatherly figure. Then I considered that some cultures also consider the Earth to be out mother. Who is the Moon then? Is it our sister? “Hey Sis, so is it your job to occasionally brighten the night sky with light reflected from Dad? Well, I just want to say we appreciate that, Thanks! It really is helpful for us humans down here trying to make our way around on mom at night time.”


Journal Entry: Stamp Purchase

I needed to send a letter so I got some stamps yesterday at the Post Office. I inquired as to what interesting stamps they had, and it turned out they had some DC Comics themed stamps that look really nice. But no Catwoman?!? What's up with that?

Select this link with your mouse pointer to view more pictures

I also discovered that you can send you digital photos to this website and they can print out personalized stamps for you that count as real US Postage.