Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Most Notable Season 3 Glee Moments (Part 2)

Part 1 was written back during the show's Christmas break and can be read here.

Most Ridiculous: "We Found Love"
Will proposes to Emma in a hugely over-the-top manner which includes the Glee kids singing this Rihanna song as they also perform elaborate synchronized swimming routines. I'm pretty sure if someone tried to propose to me like that, I would laugh.

Best Tribute Episode: Michael
Worst Tribute Episode: Saturday Night Glee-ver
The show did three tribute episode this spring (the unmentioned middle ground one was a tribute to Whitney Houston), but the standouts were clear. Michael was surprisingly entertaining and, fortunately, jam-packed with songs (NINE of them) instead of plot. Although many of the songs didn't get super creative or wander too far from the original, they were all well-performed and I liked all of them.

Let's compare that to the week when Will Schuester decided that not only the theme going to be disco, but that it was ONLY songs appearing on the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. WORST. IDEA. EVER. A couple good dance numbers, but the singing was weak and the songs are just not that interesting. I could go my entire life without ever again hearing Cory Monteith attempt to sing a Bee Gees song and be more than happy.

Most Surprising and Awesome Guest Performance: "Smooth Criminal"
The 2Cellos guys who did the cover of Smooth Criminal on YouTube showed up to play along with this version, which was a pretty entertaining singing showdown between Santana and that evil guy from Blaine's old school.

Worst "They're Really Going To Sing That?" Song: "Sexy and I Know It"
I was already not super psyched about Ricky Martin as their guest performer, but then when his big opening number was THIS, I thought, "Wow, this episode is going to suck." Thankfully, it picked up from there.

Most Awesome "They're Really Going To Sing That?" Song: "The Rain in Spain"
The lead-in to this is hilarious. All the guys are helping Puck study for his geography final, and one of the things he just happens to need to know is where Spain gets the most rainfall. He suddenly finds he's able to remember the answer and everybody jumps into a rock version of this Lerner and Loewe showtune. It is hilarious and ridiculous and completely awesome.

The Episode That Kept Making Me Yell, "I DON'T KNOW ANY OF THESE SONGS": On My Way
I usually enjoy the competition shows because they're music-heavy, but this one was frustrating. Out of eight songs performed, I knew one of them, and another one slightly. I like discovering new songs on Glee, but it's so rare that ALL of them are new to me that it threw me off when it actually happened.

Best Mercedes Performance: "I Will Always Love You"
I have never been crazy about this song or about Mercedes, but she blew this song out of the water. Nicely, nicely done.

Best Kurt Performance: (tie) "I Have Nothing" and "Not the Boy Next Door"
My favorite Glee boy. I am going to miss him next year. I was going to give this award to I Have Nothing because I was surprised by how lovely it was to hear him sing something big and belty like Whitney Houston, even if he sang it *nothing* like Whitney Houston... but then I remembered how awesome his NYADA audition was. It was interesting and fun and he sounded and looked (dancing-wise, not like... cool outfit) awesome. So he gets a tie.

Most Disappointing Darren Criss Number: Everything in the Big Brother episode
I love Darren Criss, but then he got three songs in this episode and they were all extremely boring. No more deep subplots for Blaine, please. He is most fun and interesting when he is upbeat.

Best Group Number: "Paradise By the Dashboard Light"
I didn't know this song at all, but I LOVED the New Directions' performance of it. It was crazy entertaining. My attention had wandered significantly during Rachel's technically good but boring rendition of It's All Coming Back To Me Now, but this rendition pulled me back and made me pay attention.

Worst Audition Choice: "Don't Rain On My Parade"
For being someone who claims to know everything about Broadway, Rachel makes terrible choices. Even if she had sung this flawlessly and not forgotten the words, it still would have been a terrible choice. Does she sound great on it? Yes. But she broke a cardinal rules: Don't sing a song that's consistently associated with a specific performer - in this case, Barbra Streisand. You inevitably get compared to them and Rachel is not good enough to compare to Barbra. At all. On top of that, her version is very similar to Barbra's in style and phrasing - but it looks incredibly weak in comparison to the real thing.

Performed Better Here Than On Smash: "Shake It Out"
This was the only song both musical TV shows performed this semester... and the point here goes to Glee. Shake It Out was performed by Katharine McPhee on Smash as part of a wedding singer gig she had. There was no plot context to that song being performed - it was there solely to make us go, "Oh, Katharine McPhee has an amazing voice!" (And even then she delivered an incredibly generic version.)

Compare that to the Glee version, where it's used to comfort someone who has just left an abusive relationship. The song becomes very moving. The singers can sing it with passion and intensity. The lyrics *mean* something. I paid attention to the song in a way I didn't during Smash.

This song is too interesting and too well-written to just toss in at a random place in the story. Ryan Murphy knew that. The people planning Smash didn't.

Sounded Most Exactly Like the Original, Leaving Me To Wonder What the Point Was: "Love You Like a Love Song"

Song That Made Me Go, "Wait, They Rehearsed It Like That?": "Take My Breath Away"
The Glee kids get a gig to perform at prom. The song used for the prom king and queen dance is performed by... Santana and Quinn? Two of the three nominees for prom queen? They rehearsed two of the nominees to perform a duet when one of them would probably have to be out there? Was Will counting on them to lose when he assigned who was singing what? Or were those solos assigned to someone else but Santana and Quinn just decided to sing them anyway? That's pretty jerky of them. I DON'T UNDERSTAND. GLEE YOU DO THIS TO ME EVERY TIME.

Most Inspiring: "Mean"
Two of the most oddly inspiring characters in the show (Puck and Coach Beiste) sing this song together about eventually triumphing over the people who cut them down now. It's a very touching rendition because these are two characters who are very tough on the outside - not the ones you'd think of as being vulnerable or hurt easily.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Top 5, Bottom 5: The 1970s

I've frequently heard it called one of the greatest decades in movie-making history... and it's also one of the ones I've seen fewest movies from. I've seen more movies from the '60s than from the '70s, and, in general, I like the '60s better. With that in mind, and because I have been lazy all weekend and didn't have an actual blog post ready, here are my top 5 and bottom 5 1970s movies, according to Flickchart.

Top 5:
1. Annie Hall (1977, my #4). No surprise here. I love this movie ever so much.
2. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1974, my #36). For some reason I had completely forgotten that this was made in the 1970s. I saw it listed on here and actually thought, "But that was in the 1980s." Which is ridiculous and incorrect. I do love Monty Python, and this is my favorite of all their movies.
3. Star Wars (1977, my #44). I am indeed a Star Wars nerd. Although Empire is my favorite, I like this one a lot too.
4. Star Spangled Girl (1971, my #46). A pretty great movie adaptation of my favorite Neil Simon play. Admittedly, I like this one as much as I do mostly because I love the play so much.
5. All the President's Men (1976, my #56). I should own this movie. I don't know why I don't yet. It's a wonderfully written drama.

Bottom 5:
1. Star Wars Holiday Special (1978, my #1707 out of 1712). As much as I enjoy a truly terrible movie, this one has long, long boring stretches in between the hilarious absurdities.
2. Blood Waters of Dr. Z (1971, my #1705). Saw this on an MST3K episode and had the same reaction - it's not even amusingly terrible, just boring.
3. Squirm (1976, my #1686). Not only boring, but also pretty disgusting. I don't do well with worms to begin with. Thousands of them writhing around after 2 hours of awful dialogue is pretty much a recipe for a movie I will hate.
4. Mr. Superinvisible (1970, my #1666). Saw this as a child and I remember thinking even then that it was pretty stupid. I saw bits of it again as an adult and realized, "Wow, this is terrible."
5. Laserblast (1978, my #1624). As with most of the others on my list, this is just boring.

How about you guys - what are some of your favorites and least favorites from this decade?

Friday, May 25, 2012


I don't read a LOT of webcomics, but I do read a few, including a few that I haven't seen a lot of people mentioning all over the bloggerwebnet, so I thought for today's post I'd tell you some of my favorites.

Some don't have any explanation because a lot of them are pretty similar in format and in humor - nearly all are mixes of cynicism, snark, nerdiness, absurdity, and terrible puns. I don't do a lot of heavily plot-based ones, except for the occasional burst of energy where I attempt to catch up on Sluggy Freelance, which is hilarious, but SO PLOTTY. I have never managed to catch up on it.

The Perry Bible Fellowship (Hardly ever updated these days, but the archive is well worth reading)
Cyanide and Happiness
Garfield Minus Garfield (Garfield comic strips with Garfield taken out of them)
Hipster Hitler (Exactly what that sounds like)
Horse_eComics (Comics based on the Horse_eBooks Twitter feed)
CAPTCHArt (Comics based on CAPTCHAs)
Luke Surl Comics
Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal
T-Rex Trying (Chronicling the adventures of T-Rexes attempting to do things)
xkcd (Of course)
Irregular Webcomic (On a rerun kick right now)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Introversion: Why Write About It?

After one of my introversion blog posts last month, an acquaintance left a Facebook comment that said something along the lines of, "Why does this have to be a big deal? I've never felt pressure to be overly social, and I've never looked down on anyone for being introverted, so I don't really see this as a problem."

Although I'm sure many people in the church have that same experience and reaction (and that's good - I'm glad not everybody is affected by the bias), my initial reaction was hurt. I felt like my past painful experiences were being dismissed, like my sense of displacement was just something I came up with in my own head, like if I would just stop complaining and DO all the socializing I was told to do I'd find it wasn't that bad after all and everybody would be happy.

Here's the thing though: I did that, and I wasn't happy. I *didn't* think it was a big deal until I was well into my 20s. All through my teens, I was as social as I could, and I knew I sucked at it, but I couldn't change anything. I wanted to live for God, and this was how I was supposed to do it. A part of me realized I'd never gotten any results from doing things this way, but thought, "Well, as long as I'm doing the right thing, God will reward me for it ultimately." So I simply resigned myself to the fact that I'd never have any real life friends. ALL the people I truly considered friends were people I'd met online. (Nearly all those people are still my good friends to this day. The people I interacted with most in real life back in high school? I have occasional contact with two of them.) I was an introvert trying to be an extrovert - not even an extreme one, just a "normal" one - and it just kept backfiring.

Eventually, I realized how miserable I was. So I gave up for awhile. I gave up trying to reach out to anyone and hermited myself away. I began identifying myself as an introvert, but it was an entirely negative thing. In my mind, it meant, "I will never have a normal personal relationship with anybody because I'm weird and incompetent. I'm sorry you have to deal with me."

I couldn't tell you the exact time things started to change. I knew I needed some balance, so I reached back out to people again, trying to find the best combination of socialization and alone time (my most effective socializing-alone time ratio these days is probably 1:4 or so, although I almost never get that). I tried so hard to embrace the things I knew I was good at - listening, keeping in touch with far away friends, encouraging emails - but no matter what I did, I always felt guilty for not doing more. I was so frustrated with myself for not being more motivated to spend time with people.

I really think it wasn't until I started reading introvert-specific blogs a few years ago that I truly learned to not only be OK with who I am as an introvert, but to rejoice in it and embrace it. Up until then it was something that I knew was true about me, but also something I needed to apologize for. "I'm an introvert. I'm sorry." I remember reading the "How to Care For Your Introvert" article, and the Introvert's Corner at Psychology Today's website, and at some point I stumbled onto Adam S. McHugh's Introverted Church blog, and then his book, Introverts in the Church, which completely changed my life.

Introverts in the Church took me almost a year to read, because almost every single sentence connected with me. I would read a paragraph and mull over it for a week, journaling and thinking and praying through it. Eventually I'd move on to the next paragraph. I have also never cried so much reading a book. After years of feeling like there was something wrong with me, like I was fundamentally broken and could never really be fixed, here was someone telling me that not only were those "flaws" all right, but they were something beautiful. Something created by God, not destroyed by sin. The blurb on the back of the book said, "Read it and heal," and heal I did. By the time I finally finished it, I had built up new confidence for myself as an introverted Christian, an introverted woman, an introverted future teacher. I finally saw the value in that aspect of myself, and that's when I started to write about it and fight for it and work to affirm other introverts in who they were.

And *that* is why all of this is a big deal. Because if other people hadn't been blogging about this, I would still think I was broken. I would constantly be fighting my introversion and feeling guilt and shame when I couldn't overcome it (which would be almost always). And it's funny how much freer I feel to socialize now that I know that it's perfectly OK for me to go home at an early hour. I *do* enjoy my socialization more - but only because I know now how it fits into this aspect of my life.

There are other people out there like me - more than I realize sometimes. I am always surprised when someone I don't interact with much sends me a Facebook message or pulls me aside at a gathering and tells me that they read the introvert-centered blogs and articles I post, and that they're grateful for them. I love when people tell me they've been encouraged by reading my introvert experiences and identifying with them. I don't want anyone to live with the shame of failed extroversion the way I did. I want to continue to share my story. I want people to be aware of how certain activities or programs or communities or systems send constant subtle "Introversion is bad" messages. Even if all I ever do is encourage one introvert who feels like an outcast by letting them know that they are valued and loved by God FOR their introversion, not in spite of it, then it all will have been worth it.

Monday, May 21, 2012

My Favorite Movies I Saw in 2011

Specifically, movies I watched in 2011 that ended up in my top 250 movies on Flickchart. This means they consistently beat out other movies that I liked just about equally well.

I also found a couple in my top 250 that should not have been. They will be edited out.

No deep comments here. Just a list.

#47 - Angels in America (2003)
#100 - Black Swan (2010)
#147 - Midnight in Paris (2011)
#150 - Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)
#154 - The King's Speech (2010)
#157 - 127 Hours (2010)
#167 - Pirate Radio (2009)
#192 - Take the Money and Run (1969)
#205 - Best in Show (2000)
#223 - 28 Days Later (2002)
#232 - Chaplin (1992)
#234 - The Beaver (2011)
#235 - Another Woman (1988)
#240 - Beginners (2010)
#249 - The Social Network (2010)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Movies I Saw In April

Oh, right! I did see a couple movies in April! They were these!

Breaking the Waves (1996). Lars von Trier movie (my first) about... well, I don't want to give away plot points because I knew nothing going into it and that was great. So let's just say it's a heartbreaking story with incredible acting. It was painful to watch, but for a good reason - because it really connected with me emotionally. 4.5/5.

The Departed (2006). Martin Scorsese flick about police corruption. Scorsese's a very good director, and the characters and acting drive this movie very nicely. 3.5/5.

It's Kind of a Funny Story (2010). Cute quirky indie comedy about a kid in a mental hospital for depression. It's all a little too cute and too quirky, but there are one or two nice moments. 3/5.

A Dangerous Method (2011). David Cronenberg directs the story of Freud and Jung developing psychoanalysis. Started off fascinating, but then became a bland melodrama. If only the second half was as good as the first. 2.5/5.

Carnage (2011). Roman Polanski's adaptation of Yasmina Reza's Tony-winning play about two couples trying to resolve a conflict and dissolving into viciousness. Incredible acting, great writing, fascinating characters. 4/5.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011). A spy movie with an enormous ensemble cast. That is, unfortunately, just about all I can remember of it because I was so very uninterested in it. Even sadder, it's because I have so much trouble connecting to the genre. I do not do well with spy movies. 2/5.

Office Space (1999). Cult comedy about the atmosphere of working in an office. I didn't find it as funny as I was supposed to, but I did enjoy it, and I feel like it would get better after multiple viewings. 3.5/5.

With every review I write over on my movie review blog, I mention my favorite part of my movie and my least favorite part. It might be fun to pull that over into this monthly update by announcing my absolute favorite and absolute least favorite movie-watching moments this month. I didn't write about that with Office Space because of cross-posting blogs (although at this moment I'm not sure why) but here are the rest of the "nominees."

Best Movie Moments
-Emily Watson in Breaking the Waves.
-Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon in The Departed.
-Zach Galifianakis in It's Kind of a Funny Story.
-Keira Knightley in A Dangerous Method.
-Christoph Waltz and John C. Reilly in Carnage.
-Benedict Cumberbatch's minor role in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, just because I love him.

It's almost all actors. Huh. Interesting. Looking back on the month, the one that sticks out the most now is, oddly enough, Zach Galifianakis. He was absolutely the best part of that movie. I wanted to know more about his character, and I connected with him so much. So even though this fake award should probably go to... well, just about anyone else on this list, I am going to give it to him. It is almost certainly the last fake award he will ever receive from me, because I generally don't like him much.

Worst Movie Moments
-The ending of The Departed.
-The moments when they sneaked out of the hospital in It's Kind of a Funny Story.
-The entire last half of A Dangerous Method.
-Having to stretch to come up with a reason for the action to continue in Carnage.
-Realizing that I wasn't going to like Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy just because it was a spy movie, and getting sad about that.

And I'm pretty sure this has to go to A Dangerous Method, because it was such a disappointment. The first half was so fascinating and the second was so very, very boring.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Introvert Guilt

In a world where extroverts are considered the norm and introverts are considered abnormal (even if not deliberately), one result is that whenever I do take time for myself, I feel guilty, especially if I'm deliberately bowing out of a social activity to take time for myself.

So here are a few helpful introvert tips that help me to feel better about it.

1. Be open about yourself from the beginning. The more open I am about my introversion to those around me, the easier it is to explain to those people when I bow out of social situations. I have a group of people know who understand that I will only participate in activities with them about half the time they ask me to... and they're OK with that, and are willing to explain that to anyone else who asks why I keep to myself so much. Making allies is great.

2. Plan out your social time. Sometimes introvert guilt will push me to go out and spend social energy I don't have, and I suffer for it. I become cranky and unfocused, and all because I talked myself into deciding, "Well, I can go out and do this tonight." Now I plan it all out. At the beginning of the week, I tell myself that I will go out 2 times this week (maybe just 1 if it's a stressful week) and then I stick to that. If I know there are specific activities I want to attend - birthday parties or movie nights with friends - I schedule that in. Otherwise, it's open for spontaneous social gatherings. And if I don't go out twice that week, that's OK, too. It's easier for me to go along with a self-imposed limit than to judge on a case-by-case basis whether I should go out or stay in.

3. Find compromises. Best compromise: Coming back home early. Drive yourself whenever possible. Then you can make the rounds, spend a little time with everyone, and make your way home when you feel yourself starting to fade. If I can reassure myself I've put at least a little time in, it's so much easier to head back to my quiet time.

4. Remind yourself why you made this decision. Sometimes when I'm feeling especially guilty for not spending time with people, I think, "Well, I should be productive! Because then I won't just be sitting around doing nothing." The thing is, this does nothing to assuage the guilty, and frequently I have trouble even being productive because I feel pressured to get so much done to prove to myself that it was a good decision. So I started rewarding myself instead. If I felt guilty for bowing out of a specific activity, the first thing I'd do starting my alone time was watch an episode of my favorite TV show, or read a book, or turn up music and sing along to it. Something that reminds me how much I love doing things by myself. Something that reminds me how much I needed this. Something that overwhelms the guilt with delight at being alone. Then I can go ahead from there and be productive if I want... or I can just enjoy being alone.

Introvert guilt can be difficult to crush, and I still have a tendency to apologize to people when I choose alone time. (Or tell an introvert lie.) But these are some things I've found to help me not only embrace my introversion, but embrace it boldly, without feeling guilty that I just need more alone time than other people. Because that is OK. And I am not about to let misplaced guilt take the joy of solitude away from me.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Why I Watch What I Watch (As a Christian)

I posted yesterday on Facebook about the movie Cabin in the Woods, which I very much want to see. Someone responded to my status, commenting that Cabin in the Woods was a very bad movie and not something that Christians should watch. While I am very much in favor of Christians following their own convictions and wouldn't encourage someone to watch something that goes against what they feel they should watch, I did think, "Oh, I should write something about that."

My take on what Christians should or shouldn't watch is sometimes very different from other people's take on it. I tend to approach things from the complete opposite direction. When I go to watch something, my main question is, "Is there good in this?" while most Christians I talk to about consuming media ask, "Is there bad in this?" The reason I go the other way is based on the Bible verse Philippians 4:8:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Interestingly enough, this same verse is often used to justify the opposite worldview. It frequently gets turned around to be entirely negative. Instead of, "Whatever is true, think about such things," it turns into, "Whatever is not true, do not think about such things." It's a subtle difference, but a very important one. The emphasis is on things to avoid, rather than things to embrace.

Here's the thing: When you're looking for things you need to avoid... you are thinking about them. If, for example, you sit through a movie and make a mental note of every time someone swears, then by the end of the movie that's what you remember. You remember the bad language and how offensive you thought it was. Any good that was in the movie got trumped by the bad, because that's what you thought about the whole time. That is the exact opposite of what this verse tells us to do.

Now what if the "bad things" outweigh the good things about the movie and can't be so easily ignored? Well, that happens too. But if the movie overall has lovely, right, noble, admirable themes intermingled with cursing... that's not an example of that for me. Cursing is made up of fairly arbitrarily-chosen words that society has deemed impolite. I don't believe in letting something like that take over and ruin a good story. It's not worth losing the story to be upset about the language. I'm a "big picture" kind of person. I'm bothered by big things rather than details.

Example: I love the music from Grease, but I'm really distressed by the movie because it has a terrible message: "Change everything about yourself so your guy will like you. It'll be totally worth it." That's a movie that's not worth watching for me. I'll happily listen to the music and enjoy that, but I will not rewatch it because its message is offensive.

A more controversial example: I hate the combined messages of Facing the Giants, Flywheel and Fireproof: "If you trust God and follow these steps, your life circumstances will fall into place and everything will be great." That message is just not true. I hate those movies not just because of the acting and the writing (although that sure doesn't help), but because I find the overall theme to be manipulating people into believing a lie. This is... if not offensive, certainly distressing.

On the flip side, there are movies like Annie Hall, my 4th favorite movie of all time. Annie Hall is not a "clean" movie. There's some cursing and a lot of references to sex. But its overall message is an uplifting one: "Relationships are difficult and complicated but can change you for the better." That is a true message. An excellent one. A right one. So that is what I think about and focus on. Those are the things I love in this movie. Those are the reasons I embrace it as a movie worth watching.

I would never make someone watch something that went strongly against their preferences. Some people don't like cursing or violence in their movies, just like some people don't like characters bursting out into song. I don't demand that people watch violent movies or musicals (or Sweeney Todd, which is both) just because I don't have a problem with them. But nor do I think it's appropriate to judge someone's level of faith by what kinds of movies they watch. I'm sure the person whose Facebook comment prompted this blog in the first place wasn't doing that - it's just something that I know happens a lot. "Christians don't watch this." "A Christian wouldn't listen to that song." "That's not very Christian of you." The reason those kind of judgments can't be made is I have a genuine prayed-about, thought-through, backed-up-with-the-Bible reason for watching the movies I watch and staying away from the ones I do. It's not out of rebellion or rejection of God or tradition. My movie watching choices do connect to my faith, very strongly - just maybe not in a way that most people think of.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Flickchart's Best-of-the-Years vs. My Own

On the Flickchart Facebook group, Flickchart founder Nathan Chase posted a list of the #1 movie from each of the past 20 years, as chosen through Flickchart's global ranking. I thought it might be fun to compare them with my own Flickchart rankings.

Flickchart: The Avengers.

Me: None. I haven't seen any films from 2012 yet.

Flickchart: Drive.

Me: Midnight in Paris. No contest. Drive is my #13 out of 32, which isn't too bad, since I liked most of the movies I watched last year pretty well. It sits between Horrible Bosses and The Tree of Life.

Why my choice is better: Two people I know who hate Woody Allen movies loved Midnight in Paris. I love Woody Allen movies and I also loved Midnight in Paris. This movie is just that good. Drive was good but not good enough to overcome genre/actor/director prejudices (at least for me)

Flickchart: Inception.

Me: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. The first movie in years I gave a 5-star rating to the first time I saw it. Inception is my #2, however.

Why my choice is better: Well, Inception is so close that I almost don't want to argue against it. But I haven't been as glued to the screen in a long time as I was with Scott Pilgrim. I've now seen it six or seven times, which is so much more than I usually watch movies, and every time I catch something new.

Flickchart: Inglourious Basterds.

Me: Up. I haven't seen Inglourious Basterds (yet) so it's not on my list.

Flickchart: The Dark Knight.

Me: Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. Highest-ranked theatrically-released film is Charlie Bartlett. The Dark Knight is #20 out of 59, after Australia.

Why my choices are better: Dr. Horrible has a better track record. Fewer people have seen it, but out of all the people I know who have seen it, the percentage of people who love it is higher than it is for The Dark Knight. And as for Charlie Bartlett... well, I can't defend that choice as well, because it's just an emotional connection for me, with no real justifiable reason. So I'll just say Dark Knight is good, but it goes on so long and I just stop caring.

Flickchart: No Country For Old Men.

Me: Hairspray. No Country For Old Men is #35 out of 63. Wasn't a huge fan. Although Javier Bardem's

Why my choice is better: Well, this is just a clear genre preference. Musical vs. western. I will take the musical every time. Except when the two genres combine and we get unbelievably annoying shows like Oklahoma! and Annie Get Your Gun. Then I just run away.

Flickchart: The Departed.

Me: Bug. MAN, that was a crazy film. The Departed is at #21 out of 87.

Why my choice is better: Although The Departed is quite a good film, Bug is one of those that I'm impressed with because it manages to do so much with a single room and just a handful of actors. It's based on a play that is extremely well-written and tells this incredibly devastating story with so few resources. Wonderful stuff.

Flickchart: Batman Begins.

Me: Proof. Batman Begins is at #21 out of 74, which at first I thought was extremely generous, but then I looked over that list and realized I watch a WHOLE lot of crap from 2005...

Why my choice is better: As I'm sure you have noticed, I am much more likely to choose a quality character-driven script than anything with major action sequences. I watched Batman Begins twice and couldn't tell you a single thing that actually happened in that movie. I just remember Cillian Murphy being once again the most terrifying actor on the planet. His eyes are a soulless, empty abyss.

Flickchart: Shaun of the Dead.

Me: Napoleon Dynamite.

Why my choice is better: Well, I'm unlikely to convince anyone of this, so I'll just say Napoleon Dynamite makes me laugh harder and more consistently, although Shaun is at #5. And should really be at #4 - I definitely liked it better than Garden State.

Flickchart: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.

Me: Love Actually. Return of the Kings is #49, about halfway down that list.

Why my choice is better: Return of the King is fine. It's a nice ending to the story. But I never connect with it the way I do with Love Actually. This silly story with fairly superficial characters manages to win me over in a way that a 9-hour epic fantasy series never does. Maybe I just got tired of caring about them...? Man, this would be so much easier to defend if my #1 from 2003 was The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra (my #2), or Angels in America (my #4)... It's so hard to justify my adoration for Love Actually.

Flickchart: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.

Me: Chicago. Two Towers is at #40 out of 70.

Why my choice is better: The Two Towers is definitely the least interesting in the series. It's just so much traveling. Chicago is funny, entertaining, and has John C. Reilly's rather heart-breaking performance of "Mr. Cellophane." Even the myriad of Hollywood stars doesn't mess this musical up. If I was given a choice between watching these two, I would pick Chicago every single time.

Flickchart: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. Yeah, Flickchart loves its LOTR.

Me: Moulin Rouge! Fellowship is #29 out of 44.

Why my choice is better: Oh, no contest for me here. Moulin Rouge! is one of the most incredibly original movie musicals of all time. It is visually stunning. And it shouldn't have worked. The people involved are not Broadway- or even pop-star-caliber singers. The songs chosen are odd. The jokes are over-the-top and campy. And yet, when it all combines, you get something that truly is magical. This was the last film until Scott Pilgrim that I gave an instant 5-star rating. I watched Moulin Rouge! in 2006 or so, so it took me five years for me to find something that came close to approaching this movie's quality.

Lord of the Rings is nice, but it doesn't come anywhere near that for me.

Flickchart: Memento.

Me: Memento.

Our choices are the same. Well done, Flickcharters.

Flickchart: Fight Club.

Me: Fight Club.

Once again, well done.

Flickchart: Saving Private Ryan.

Me: The Truman Show. I haven't yet seen Saving Private Ryan, so no commentary on why my choice wins, although I find it hard to believe it could trump Truman.

Flickchart: Good Will Hunting.

Me: Waiting For Guffman. Good Will Huntington is my #10 from 1996.

Why my choice is better: Working-with-gifted-teen movies are a dime a dozen, but theater mockumentaries are rare and beautiful creatures. That's all.

Flickchart: Fargo.

Me: That Thing You Do!

Why my choice is better: Er. Well, my #1 from 1996 should almost certainly not be That Thing You Do! I do enjoy that movie, but Emma, Breaking the Waves, and Shall We Dance? are all hovering around the top and are all movies I like better. Doesn't matter, though, I like them all better than Fargo, for which I have never understood the appeal. It's at #25 out of 36.

Flickchart: Se7en.

Me: Before Sunrise.

Why my choice is better: I do like Se7en (it's my #3 for the year), but Before Sunrise tells an incredible story through nothing but two people talking. It's engaging and compelling when it could be unbelievably dull. So many indie films attempt to be this one, and they nearly all fail. I haven't ever found a better "talking movie" that wasn't based on a play.

Flickchart: The Shawshank Redemption.

Me: Forrest Gump. Shawshank is my #7.

Why my choice is better: Forrest Gump took all my expectations for what this movie was going to be like and threw them away. It sets you up to make you think it's going to be one of those super-realistic, serious stories about someone with some mental handicaps, and then out of nowhere it's a fantastic tall tale. I'm a complete sucker for that kind of story. Shawshank is good, but it never surprised me.

Flickchart: Schindler's List.

Me: Groundhog Day. Schindler's List is my #9. I saw a lot of good movies from 1993.

Why my choice is better: Although Schindler's List is excellent, Groundhog Day is so much more rewatchable. (Which is a good thing, since my mom does watch it every February 2nd.) Every time I watch it I enjoy it.

Flickchart: Reservoir Dogs.

Me: Noises Off. Reservoir Dogs is my #10.

Why my choice is better: Noises Off is easily one of the funniest movies I've ever seen. Reservoir Dogs is cool and interesting and all, but Noises Off is much more satisfying to watch. Noises Off also has no mutilation torture scenes set to cheery music, although whether that's a point for or against it is probably a pretty subjective decision.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Blind Spots 2012: Office Space

Office Space is currently #59 on Flickchart's global ranking (and the #13 comedy). It's gained a huge cult following but I had never seen it before.

I feel about it the way I feel about most movies that have the "cult" sort of label attached to them: 1) I don't think it's nearly as interesting or funny as I think I should think, but 2) I have a feeling that if I watched it several more times it would grow on me. There's nothing wrong with the movie, but nothing really stood out to me as something I loved.

Office Space actually reminded me a lot (in an odd way) of one of my very favorite cult movies - Napoleon Dynamite. They both have very low-key humor, a fairly loose plot, distinct and quirky characters, and infinitely quotable lines. They're both structured more as a series of entertaining scenes than a straight beginning-to-end story. The first time I watched Napoleon Dynamite I thought it was mildly funny but nothing special, but as friends kept making me watch it over and over again, little lines or moments started jumping out at me as hilarious. I feel like the same is true of Office Space. There were so many little things that, although they were new to me, jumped out as potentially hilarious, even though they just made me smile pleasantly at the time rather than actually laugh.

(It's also occurred to me that, although it's a bit flashier, I made the same journey with This Is Spinal Tap, which is now my #7 of all-time on Flickchart.)

It's weird to judge a movie based so much on how you think you might like it in the future, but I really feel this is a movie I shouldn't give up on. In a year or two, I'd like to rewatch it. I'd love to watch it with someone who really enjoys it. It's got a bizarre charm to it that I feel I am just on the verge of, and it could someday become one of my very favorites. Or I could watch it 3 more times and still not get it. I will have to keep everyone updated on the "liking Office Space"-o-meter.

For the moment, 3 stars.

Blind Spot Movies I've Seen So Far, In Order of How Much I Liked Them
Beetlejuice (1988)
Office Space (1999)

Blind Spot Movies I Have Yet To See, In No Order

The Hurt Locker (2008)
The Seventh Seal (1957)
Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
The Exorcist (1973)
The Band Wagon (1953)
Planet of the Apes (1968)
Carrie (1976)
Rushmore (1998)
Gone Baby Gone (2007)
Nosferatu (1929)

Monday, May 7, 2012

Top Facebook Statuses of April

Holy cow, it's May already.

So here are my top 10 most popular statuses in April.

It has now been six months since Jacob and I made our relationship official (after our two weeks of secret kinda-sorta dating unofficially). SIX MONTHS. Time moves so fast. It's been a wonderful time, filled with prayer walks, silly hypotheticals, encouraging conversations, and a fantastic stuffed animal monster. Now on we go to the next six.
Fun story: This got THIRTY-SIX likes. I was kind of floored by how many people liked it. I told Jacob we apparently had a fan club, and he responded, "We'll have to tag them in each and every thing we post on each other's walls!" I think he's right. They've all just inadvertently signed up for the Jacob-and-me newsletter.

Going out to eat alone with a good book is always used as a sign of terrible loneliness on movies and TV shows, but I find it deeply peaceful, satisfying, and invigorating.

It's just Seth and me hanging out at home tonight. I walked into the living room where he was and yelled, "PARTY TIME, youngest brother!" He solemnly replies, "Well, to start the party, we could both mention some movies we saw recently - it doesn't matter if the other person has seen them or not - and then we talk about them." Yup, he's my brother all right.

And this, children, is why you should NOT just click "change" on everything when you spell check a document. I just read a student-written play featuring the inspiring line, "It's going to be okay. Everything is going to be airtight."

Getting an EXTREMELY encouraging student teaching evaluation is such a nice way to close out the week. I can't believe I only have 3 more weeks here. Dang.

Me: I want jalapeno poppers.
Elizabeth: No! They're gross! They pop in your face!
Me: I think you have them confused with balloons.
Sometimes that happens. I'm glad I could set her straight.

To anyone who may have just walked by me and heard me announce in song that I was a Mormon, I'm not. Sorry for any confusion. I'm very tired and singing along with my iPod is no longer entirely voluntary.

I have the best friends ever. Got a random package of awesome stuff from Jennie today, including such essentials as little green army men, pens and pencils, a mini Slinky, and, best of all, FOOD - just as I was about to run out of meals and be stuck with peanut butter & jelly the entire rest of the semester! That just made my day.

(Playing Last Word. The subject is "Things you fold," the letter is W.)
Elizabeth: Water rags!
Me: ...What's a water rag?
Elizabeth: It's a rag for water.
Me: What do you DO with a water rag?
Rebekah: You fold it!

‎(In Turntable. Randy had rejoined us after a break.)
Randy: We still themeing?
10Kan: 3:00 or less, now.
Sentynel: Yeah, under 3 minutes.
Me: how to make a boiled egg costume
Me: Er.
Me: That is not our theme.
Me: That is a misplaced paste.
Sentynel: I don't think I could find many songs on that theme.
10Kan: I would totally listen to a song about that.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Time Travel Mouth Man! (aka Worst Superhero Ever)

I had a whole different blog planned for today, but this conversation just happened, so that blog is getting pushed to Monday because this was too much fun to not share immediately.

This is a combination of a discussion I had on RinkChat with my friend Heather, and a series of Facebook status comments between myself, my friend Travis, and my sister Bekah. Fun fact: despite the fact that very few of my friends actually blog, these three all have blogs of some sort, so I've linked to them via their names.

Here goes:

The long version of the story that started it all, as told in RinkChat:

Me: Ha, also, since you didn't see this on Facebook, this is the discussion we had during tonight's dinner date, and which has continued in even more detail on Facebook: What would it be like if your mouth could reverse time? Like if you put food in your mouth and it got younger and younger until it reverted back to its original ingredients? What kind of implications would this have?
Me: But with everything, not just food. My favorite implications with this included eating raisins (he gave me the mental image of a baby shoving like 30 raisins in its mouth and then freaking out when the raisins suddenly doubled in size as they turned into grapes), throwing up (I said something about being sick, and then we both said at the same time, "BUT THEN IT WOULD TURN BACK INTO FOOD") and sucking your thumb (a child with this power who did this would always have a baby thumb, even as a grown adult).

The conversation, as continued on Facebook.

Travis: Awesome! I would never have to fear expiration dates again!
Me: Yeah, we decided this would be great for someone who has to scavenge for food in dumpsters.
Travis: You could start with chicken and end with eggs!
Ticia: You'd probably be a very popular kisser.

Ticia didn't continue the conversation, and I don't know of a blog she has, so that's why I didn't mention her at the beginning.

Travis: Take your time; wash your cottage cheese down with some milk!
Bekah: You could feed people fish and they'd be all, "hey, look, caviar!" and you'd look all rich and cool.
Me: WAIT, you mean feed them fish that had been in your mouth already? That does NOT make you look rich and cool.
Travis: If you think feeding people something that had been in your mouth doesn't make you look rich and cool, then there are clearly parts of the Internet you just haven't explored.
Bekah: Well, I meant more like they'd call it caviar because...wait, that only works if they had the power too. Besides, you wouldn't TELL them you'd put it in your mouth.
Me: I think that counts as using your power for... really strange evil.
Bekah: Well, if you're going for a more straightforward, money-hungry evil, you could always make a bunch of caviar and sell it. Then you really WOULD be rich and cool. Well, rich.
Travis: I think if you had this power, it would be a message that God wanted you to profit by it.
Me: I was thinking food sanitation inspector would be a fitting job for this kind of person. They could just eat the food and figure out whether what it came from was healthy or not. I mean, it would be disgusting, but it would be using it for the better of others. I think I have the idea for my next NaNoWriMo... (Incidentally, we also discussed what if you had this power but then your stomach sped time back up.)
Bekah: If you ate something poisoned, would it revert back to being not-poisoned? 'Cause that would be useful. Or would you just be eating really young poison?
Me: Well, it would probably depend on the poison, if it's only poisonous when mixed to be so. Eating something poisoned would certainly separate it out into poison and previously unpoisoned food. However, this would only be useful if you kept it in your mouth, and if you did that in the first place with poisonous food, the poison wouldn't get into your system anyway.
Travis: I look forward to hearing about your progress in November.
Bekah: Also, Nathan pointed out that if you get hurt you could ACTUALLY kiss it and make it better.

And now, the conversation with Heather, when I shared it with her:

Heather: LOL LOL LOL
Heather: You could neverr kiss anyone, either.
Me: Well, we decided it really only worked if something was IN your mouth, not just touching it. So he pointed out that kissing wouldn't necessarily do that unless there was tongue action, in which case you would youngify their tongues.
Heather: Man, THAT would be creepy, LOL.
Heather: Wait, would it work on YOUR OWN TONGUE?
Heather: You'd be losing your baby teeth FOREVER.
Heather: And just think of getting braces. Eventually, the metal would turn back into ore, which would turn back into rock. YOU WOULD HAVE BOULDERS IN YOUR MOUTH.
Me: I am going to collect the discussions on FB and here about it and post them all on my blog.
Heather: LOL
Heather: I wonder about juice, too. Would it turn back into chunks of fruit?
Me: Yeah, I think so. And if you then kept it in there longer, the fruit would turn back to seeds.
Heather: My brain is spinning.
Me: My sister Rebekah ended up with this WEIRD idea where you could eat fish and then feed guests caviar that you made in your own mouth.
Me: If she thinks this is acceptable party host etiquette, I am NEVER going to a party she hosts.
Me: She insists it's OK because she wouldn't TELL them that's where it came from.
Heather: LOL LOL
Heather: Uhm, yeaaaaah, suuuuure...
Heather: I was just thinking about language. We'd all think in the modern version of English but end up speaking like William Shatner.
Heather: William SHAKESPEARE
Heather: William Shatner takes so long to speak that he'd probably end up sounding like Beowulf.
Me: William Shakespeare climbeth a mountain. Why climbeth Shakespeare a mountain?

This. THIS, my dear readers, is why I love nerd culture. I love being friends with people who overanalyze everything and come up with every possible implication of every crazy hypothetical you throw at them. It's wonderful knowing I am not the only one who spends a ridiculous amount of time thinking about these things. (Fun example story: I had a week or two in high school where I used to figure out all the different weapons we could use to defend ourselves if giant spiders tore the roof of our house with their giant spider legs and tried to kill us. This was, fortunately, a week during my little brothers' obsession with archery, so I figured we could shoot knives at it with bows, since we didn't have any ACTUAL arrows.)

Feel free to comment with your own list of horrifying implications of this awful superpower.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Here's Some Music

I broke my newly-attempted blog schedule by not posting on Friday. To be fair, I was away from home that day from 6 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. or so, and then was doing something else on campus until 12:15 in the morning, so I didn't have a lot of time to do anything that day, and I hadn't come up with anything earlier in the week to post.

I don't have a lot of time this week to post this week either (a second major project is due this Friday), so if I write any posts at all, they'll probably be fluffy ones

Take this post, for example. Here are some of the songs I've acquired in my music library over the past couple months. I haven't had as much time to acquire songs or listen to music this school semester as I have in the past, so the list of enduring favorites is ever so short, but here's what I have found, in order from when I discovered them, from January to now.

Let There Be by Gungor. Rather an epic opening to an album I fully plan to listen to all the way through someday. Gungor is one of the few worship artists I have a fair amount of respect for.

Never Fall In Love (With an Elf) from Elf the Musical. This cast recording was underwhelming as a whole, but this song has become a favorite.

Oh, Internet by Hannah Hart. The creator of the hilarious YouTube series My Drunk Kitchen records an anti-SOPA song. Woot for nerd songs.

Send Me an Angel by Kevin Max. Kevin Max is back with a new EP that, once again, is vastly different from everything else he's ever recorded. Will this man ever stop surprising me with his music? (Which sounds a bit like he's sneaking up behind me and playing music in my ear, but that is not the case.)

I'm the One That's Cool by The Guild. Best. Nerd. Anthem. Ever. Also, I want to be Felicia Day when I grow up.

We Are Young by Sam Tsui. Sam's released quite a few covers over the past few months, but this is my favorite. The song's crazy overplayed, but I sure love how his voice sounds singing it.