Saturday, June 11, 2011

Movies, or Whatever

I went and saw Super 8 last night with my dad and my sister. After the movie was over and we were walking out, the classic "discussion of the movie you just saw" began.

Dad: "So Erin, what did you think?"

Erin: "I really liked it. What'd you think?"

Dad: "I really liked it, too. I liked that the ending was completely unpredictable. Brian, what did you think?"

Me: "Uuuuuuuh...I knew what the ending was gonna be from like half an hour in, but it was alright."

Dad/Erin: (Chortles) "How could you possibly know that that soon?"

Me: "I dunno...I just did..."

I'm not saying the movie was bad. It was mediocre at worst, but honestly the thing that held my attention more than anything else in this "thriller" was that the 15-year-old or so girl who played one of the main characters looked uncannily like a younger version of a girl I know who just graduated from college, and that said girl I know is pretty attractive, and was it weird for me to therefore think that this 15-year-old was also attractive?

It's hard for me to put my finger on exactly what qualities make a movie "good" to me. But let me try to break it down anyway, as best I can.

Visuals/Cinematography: Obviously this is important. No one wants to look at a screen that looks like someone vomited on a puddle of diarrhea. We all want to see pretty things that look super cool. Take, for instance, the movie The Fountain. One of my favorite movies now. The plot is interesting and keeps my attention, but it's not why I love the movie so much. I love it because it is so damn pretty. Prettiest movie I've ever seen. Also, when it comes to action movies, nothing is more important than visuals. Plot is often negligible. People watch action movies to see awesome stunts and badass explosions. (see 0:35). If your spending millions on production, you better wow me in this category. Super 8 at least had that going for it.

Plot: Unless the movie is a prequel or based on a book that I've read, I'd like to not be able to guess the ending until sometime near the ending. As I said before, Super 8 pretty much failed me in this respect. Whilst trying not to spoil anything for those who haven't seen it, let me explain why that is. Presuming that you've seen the trailer for this movie before you went and saw it, you would be aware that there is a train crash, something tries to get out of the train, and then a bunch of paranormal things start to occur. It isn't all that difficult to guess what's in the train, and from details that are given to you over the course of the next few minutes, you can narrow it down to 2 possible endings, one of which is eliminated shortly afterward. Now, I'm not saying that if I can guess the ending, the movie is ruined for me. But it sure doesn't boost my approval rating. I guess I just really enjoy plot twists. Probably why my favorite movie genre is the phycological thriller. However, if you have a substantial enough plot that I can't easily poke holes in, I can forgive you your predictability.

Acting: I've seen so many potentially awesome movies ruined by subpar acting. I realize some films can't afford the big stars, but that isn't really an excuse. I don't care if you have the coolest idea for a story ever conceived by the human mind; if your characters aren't believable, everything else is negligible. And on the other hand, I've seen plenty of otherwise mediocre movies shoot their way up the charts because of good acting, usually done by small time actors/actresses no one has heard of yet. THIS IS IMPORTANT. DON'T FUCK THIS PART UP.

Soundtracks: Never been a factor for me. I know for a fact Twilight has some good music. Twilight still sucks ass. I'm not gonna see the movie for the music. I'll look it up online later if I'm desperate to give it a listen. And I've never been turned off by a movie because it has an atrocious soundtrack. I hope that day never comes. I can't imagine it will. I don't want to imagine that.

There's some other stuff that I take into account, but ultimately you could probably fit them under one of these categories. Anyway, this is just how I process movies. I'm sure y'all do it differently. Tell me all about it in comments.


Conor - Exercising Is Terrible And Stupid

I cross the imaginary finish line, and I stop running. I keep walking around and I try to walk it out. I'm panting and I'm sweating and I feel miserable. I lean agaisnt a tree and I hate running, I hate running so much.

The finish line that I had overcome only applies to me, which makes in more meaningful and more frustrating at the same time. Behind every finish line I create for myself is another finish line. Over the past year I've crossed a lot of them, and they keep getting further away. I'm proud of myself for the work I've done in the past year in terms of getting in better shape, but the phrase "better shape" only compares me to myself. Most of my friends are still more fit, more athletic and more better than me.

Exercising this year has made me proud because it's toootaaallly not anything I'm used to and it does not come naturally to me at all. Not that running a bunch comes naturally to anyone. One of the things that I've learned this year is that everyone has been working out and exercising this whole time, and I just never knew about it. At first I thought it was like, really admirable of me to be going to the gym, and that that moved me into a different class of person, but no, there's my friend from Psychology, lifting weights like a champion. He seems like such a normal guy, and here he is, working his ass off. Cool. There's the girl from german class, running what has to be at least 5 miles on the track. Even if it's not significant or remarkable, I'm still proud of myself. I get done running and everything in me seems to scream "WE ARE SEDENTARY AND PEACEFUL. CUT THIS OUT." I would take more enjoyment out of spiting my own body so, but whenever this happens I'm also pretty miserable and sweaty and tired. So. Not ideal.

I'm going to try my best to keep going, and I'm going to try my best to keep getting better, but it's going to suck, and I'm going to waste a bunch of time doing something that I only appreciate and value in hindsight.

I'm not looking forward to this at all.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

"No, Donny, these men are nihilists; there's nothing to be afraid of."

by Brendan Cavanagh

Sorry, guys. I really should start planning/writing my blog posts before Thursday arrives and I realize I'm sans-topic. But it's not my fault you see.....''s summer.  Yeah. So it's understandable if I kind of forget that I have to write something every Thursday. But then there are days like today where I work ALL DAY and don't really have time to write. This is the best I can do for this week. I promise I'll have something a little more substantial next week.  Hey, at least I post every week.

So after I took a shower after work tonight, I was waiting patiently for my mom to return home from the store with the necessary accoutrements, and while I was waiting I caught a few minutes of a show on the History channel, called Swamp People. It looks to me like it simply follows people who live in the bayou as they fulfill decades-long feud with the mythical Sasquatch, hunt for dinner (frogs) and do numerous other weird things. But there were two brothers I admired, by the name of Guist. They're living the dream, Dude. At one point they were hunting for frogs for dinner, and one brother went and chased a toad without a flashlight into the swamp! There was a commercial cliffhanger, and I thought he died. But I shouldn't have doubted his knowledge of the bayou, 'cause he made his way right back.

These brothers are a great amalgamation of Henry David Thoreau and Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski. This video adequately sums up their meager existence.

"All that shit fun, dude, even when you get lost, man."

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


I like girls who don't wear makeup. Or, I guess, girls that don't usually wear makeup. I'd rather see who you are than be forced to ponder the difference between what you are and what you want to be. Sure, you look a little better, but you look a little weaker, too.

Fluffy appearances are a suffocating problem. They aren't limited to people. They aren't really limited at all. Everything eventually takes on a fluffy appearance to make itself appear better. It's not that we're disappointed in what we have, we just know that with a couple snazzy facades, people will think us better than we really are and we won't have to admit to them the difference, unless of course it's in an environment where they'll understand the reasoning.

I work at a country club. The country club — where old ladies wearing as much frosting as would rival their late embalmed peers come to speak the foreign language of bridge — is an ode to makeup. At the club, we're all about appearing to be on top of everything. You have needs? We uh, have 'em covered. Or something like that. We'll make it look like we do. We want people coming into our restaurant to feel like they're at some superior place. They're not. They're at a restaurant who can afford to pay a better chef. This is true because they're giving us obscene amounts of money to be able to come and give us more obscene amounts of money via dinner checks. So only they can belong there. So they can feel superior. Because they look pretty in that makeup.

I just got back from seeing the X-Men: First Class for the second time. A lot of the movie is about not hiding who you are and blah blah blah. But all I could think of the whole damn time was the popcorn in my hands. I was furious. Here I am at a five dollar movie, holding popcorn that cost $7.75. Yep, eight dollars for a bag of popcorn; five dollars for a movie ticket. First I wanted to spit on the lady that sold it to me, but that wouldn't do any good. I just would love the chance to talk to the person hiking those prices on a (seemingly) monthly basis. I just want to ask them why they keep raising the prices, you know? I want to dare them to give an answer other than "because we can." Because they can. They can charge you whatever the hell they want to for popcorn. If you buy it, you're an idiot. Buying movie theater popcorn is not only selling out to the man, but shelling out eight dollars to him as well. I did this today. I feel terrible about it. The popcorn in my stomach sits broodingly, as if it was a friend whose trust I had betrayed that I had eaten. If I could eat that feeling, it would taste like this popcorn. And what's more fascist of them, you can only get refills only on large sized items. Really? What's the reasoning behind that? Because they can.

I wish people knew me. I wish people cared what I thought. I wish I was a politician with some clout of any kind. If I was a famous songwriter, if I was a comedian at any venue, basically if I had any better way of bitching about this I would, but all I have is you, blogger: movie theaters are evil. They charge you ten bucks a movie, eight dollars a popcorn, six dollars a soda, and I lost my wallet their once and that had $60 in it. When I went back for it they hadn't seen it, but they probably used it to buy that stupid Green Lantern pop-up that currently occupies a corner of the main lobby. They use their exclusivity to hike their prices, because unfortunately, people will always care to see good movies in their finest venue. Instead of competing with lower prices, other movie theaters simply raise their prices and ride the waves of profit.

And the thing is, we act like it's reasonable. They act like it's fair for you give them $15 for a snack and a drink. We take it like a bitch and give in to their reassuring fake smiles. AMC Theaters should be protested or burned down or something, not allowed to pass off their indefensible greed as response to market turns. Once you remove the makeup, you notice they're robbing you at gunpoint.

When Tina Pham makes her Facebook status "I hate fake people" and 84 of her friends "like" it, you'd think that those kids are supporting an idea they share. But they can't be. Tina Pham is a fake person, at least to a degree. She doesn't know 3700 people as friends, she likes the mutual gain that is the  acceptance of having an army of Facebook buddies in exchange for the normality of being Tina Pham's friend. The mutual gain of makeup is that we don't have to broach the awkward parts of life in exchange for allowing things to be the way they shouldn't.

The government wears makeup, the board of education wears makeup, the higher-ups wear makeup. It makes them look prettier; they're not. ESPN wears makeup. The Catholic church wears makeup. LeBron James wears makeup. The devil wears makeup. Sacred Heart-Griffin wears makeup. Every smug bastard that has looked at you with a smile and told you something to keep you in line is wearing makeup.

God damn, that sure does look awful on you.

--Eliot Sill

Hitting rock bottom

Slap yourself.

Trust me, I'd love to do it for you, but I actually have moral standards. Remember morals? You know, thinking before you make choices? I don't know how I've managed to stay in this room for this long with you without punching myself in the face for putting up with you lately.

Do you remember what it was like when we first started dating? Because I don't actually even remember that person anymore. You used to give a shit when I talked. You used to, I guess, pretend? That you were remotely interested in what I had to say. You would look at me with these awfully convincing eyes and explain to me what you thought on the situation. Your half-assed solutions to my real life problems never really worked out as I hoped they would, but I always took your advice. Because I think you're smart. Also I think — thought — you had a pretty good philosophy on life. But most of all? I listened to you because you seemed to have my best interests in mind. You gave off the impression of someone who wanted me to succeed. Bu--

-I did want you to succeed.

Are you serious? That's what you tell me? That's the equivalent of consoling me about my dead mom by telling me that she was at one point alive. I fucking know that, Kelly. That doesn't change the condition of the problem. I'm sorry I'm unloading this all onto you now, but Jesus, you've treated me like a bag of some other couple's kid's shit that's been left under your pillow: by making me deal with it. I've been taking care of myself and doing everything I can to re-win your favor because it's so fucking obvious that you're tired of me.

At what point does it seem like a good idea to not tell me that I'm not keeping you satisfied? When does it cross your mind to maybe inform me that I'm constantly fucking up? Seriously answer, why didn't you tell me?

-I just ... -

Just what?

-I guess I didn't want to hurt you. ... I knew you'd be crushed and this meant a lot to you.

Oh wow, great. Well let me tell you right now and clearly, Kelly, I'm fucking hurt. Stabbed in the God damn face. I would say "stabbed in the back," you know, if you hadn't made it so fucking obvious that you were cheating on me.

-I'm sorry.

Yeah, maybe now that I'm having a traumatic fucking breakdown in front of you. But about five hours ago I bet you thought you were pretty damn slick.

-No, Kyle, I never felt good about what I was doing. I know this doesn't matter ... but I felt like shit the entire time.

Well you know what would've helped you out there? If you would have told me that you felt shitty instead of fucking around. Like a slut. That's what sluts do. They fuck other guys even though they're dating people. Maybe I should put that in a song lyric, see if you can relate it to your life at all.

-What the hell are you doing right now?

I'm hitting rock bottom, Kelly. I'm hitting it right in the fucking mouth because you've dropped me to it. Thanks.

-I'm gonna leave now.

Why the fuck doesn't this even make you sad? That's all I wanna know...

-Because you're clearly not the person I started dating. I don't even know you at all anymore.

Well this is what happens to someone when they try to handle dating you. They turn into this. Don't act like you didn't cause this. I am so stupid for considering a future where we could exist as a couple.

-You're making me feel really shitty right now.

Oh, excuse me? I'm making you feel shitty right now? Because I'm pretty sure I'm the one at the bottom of a fucking dumptruck. Because you put me there, by the way.

-Can I please just go? I feel sick. I can't take much more of this.

What're you gonna do, snap? Finally? Hey, maybe you'll start being honest with me!

-You want some honesty? You're furiously angry, which I suppose isn't surprising, but nothing I can do or say will help anything. I can't win. Why would I be here? Please let me leave.

Fine. Fine, go off and fuck you, by the way. We're done, obviously.

-I'm sorry. (Pulls a ring out of pocket) Do you want this?

Fuck you for what you've done to me. You keep that, all I'd want back is everything it stands for. And I can't have that. Go.

-(Puts ring back, exits)

(Goes to fridge, pulls out bottle of Jack Daniels, considers, declines, puts bottle back, hits countertop with fist, saunters into living room, falling face down onto couch.)

(Muffled into pillow) Damn it.

--Eliot Sill

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


This is my current daily summer routine:

Wake up at 10am
Lie on the couch until noon either reading or watching TV
Eat breakfast and hang out with Allegra until 2
Watch a movie or try to apply for a job until I have rehearsal
Go to rehearsal from 6:30 to 9:30

I'm telling you right now that this is not the most interesting way to live. So far I have just been going through the motions of summer rather than enjoying the freedom I was supposedly yearning for all school year. Summer used to be completely different. Summer used to mean countless bike rides, adventures, calloused feet and endless hours of sunlight. Unfortunately, I grew up and seem to have become pretty damn lame.

The other day I was given a pretty big wake up call concerning my lameness when I found myself in the middle of a water war with some middle schoolers. It all happened very fast and I definitely did not intend to end up soaked. However, when it was all over, I felt like I had been given a gift; real summertime.

I was taking a walk with my sister Allegra down an alley by my house when two 11-ish year old boys ran out of from a back yard and very politely asked "Can we throw water balloons at you?". "Uhh, Allegra, do you want a water balloon thrown at you?" was all I could think to respond. After the first moment of confusion we both seemed to recognize the opportunity here. The opportunity to beat the shit out of some middle schoolers.

We began taunting them and backing away as there sad attempts at aiming let their balloons burst anywhere on the ground but within ten feet of us. They threatened to chase us until one pointed out that Allegra "looked like she would beat the crap out of them". We taunted them a bit more and then hurried back my porch half a block away. It wasn't long until their gang of 5 boys made there down my street and when they saw me on my steps they were back in war mode. Allegra ran and got our hose and had them cornered until they realized it had limited reach. To solve this problem i ran inside to get the giant water gun I had left from assassins. From there it was just a full fledged water fight. We ran though my neighbors yards. I got soaked, they got soaked and Allegra destroyed anyone stupid enough to get close enough to her.

If you were to ask those five boys who won the fight they would probably say they were the victors but of course I would disagree. But that's the beauty of those pick up wars; no rules, no real end. They can end and restart whenever chance would have it. It was this experience that made me remember why I count down the days until summer. It isn't because I can't handle the work of school, it's for the chance adventures that can happen at the most unexpected moments. It's for the clothes that get ruined doing something awesome. It's for being a kid forever and always. (Taylor Swift reference.)


Monday, June 6, 2011

Nick - Pikmin!

Pikmin is one of my favorite games. Don't be fooled by its childish appearance; Pikmin is terrifying. Beneath the cute, natury veneer is a frank portrayal of the "survival of the fittest" aspect of nature.

The game begins when Captain Olimar crashes his spaceship on an unknown planet. With his ship missing many of its most vital parts, and his space suit only able to continue life support for 30 days, Olimar faces bleak chances of survival. Then he happens upon Pikmin.

Pikmin are tiny creatures on the very brink of extinction, beaten into evolutionary submission by the efficient and cruel predators of the planet. They fall in line with Captain Olimar, and the two set out to desperately struggle for life in this hostile environment; Olimar by fixing his ship, and the Pikmin by using his leadership to defeat predators.

Pikmin is interesting because every enemy in the game is larger and more formidable than you by volumes.
The world of Pikmin is full of predators, like this Burrowing Snagret.
Because of the nature and size of the enemies, it is impossible to defeat them with Captain Olimar alone, or with just a few Pikmin. The game is all about strength in numbers and teamwork.

This also means that even in the most expertly handled battles, many Pikmin die. They valiantly sacrifice themselves for the good of the group, an ultimate expression of loyalty and duty.

A large part of the game is carrying food, in the form of plants or corpses of defeated foes, back to the Pikmins' home. It is then turned into seeds, from which new Pikmin can be plucked. This is how lost Pikmin can be replaced, and your strength and numbers grow. In this way, your predators become your prey.

Ultimately, Pikmin boils down to teamwork and leadership. The Pikmin live or die based on your decisions, and without each other both Olimar and the Pikmin would be helpless. Working together, you can accomplish tasks that would be impossible for an individual.


Sunday, June 5, 2011

Part 1: Out of the Womb

By Robert Langellier

Yo read this real quick.

I emerge. First in my wings I feel the motion of air for the first time. Then my legs adjust to the new freedom of their surroundings: they walk, for the first time. They are old and brittle, and I cannot use them well. My pace is like molasses, and I limp along awkwardly.

Then my beady red eyes start to focus. I vaguely remember light, from when I was a nymph, but very little comes back to me. I begin to see, finally, for the second time in my life. The eyes are weak, for thirteen years of darkness has kept their development at bay.

I have risen out of instinct, as my father and many generations of fathers have done before me. This new world is one of splendor and of wealth and of vast infinites I never dreamed of in the black. There are colors and movements and feelings, other creatures, endless greens, and millions of things I cannot even describe. All around me they encircle and swirl into one great mass.

It is terrifying to enter this new world. I am fearful and afraid. After over a decade of stillness, I realize I don’t even understand my own body, much less the world around me. I have no sense of how to function, so I trust my instincts. I move along with trepidation, although despite my towering fears I am awed by the beauty all around me.

It is vast and brilliant, but I know this new great world has welcomed me with a death warrant. For me, this divine landscape is the end of the world. I am aging, and I am going to die very soon. I do have passion still in me, and I will join my rising brothers in the fearful rush for a mate before the endtimes. Otherwise, my 13-year life underground will have been in vain.

I drag myself with my strong front legs up the bark of a tree. I find a lonely, comfortable spot about halfway up, and I start to push through my skin. I dig out of myself, bursting forth into the sensitive breeze. After many hours of work, I cling to the heights and try my best to focus in on the light from my old body, stuck next to me on the same bark. After a moment I leave the shell and begin my descent back to earth. I am truly new.

I spend an entire two suns trying to master my body. I never do, but soon I learn to understand it in some ways. Soon thousands of others rise after me, and soon it is millions, and then it is billions, and more and more billions, and on the twelfth sun we are everywhere, for now. I learn to revel.

My passion drives me to sing. I learn that I have a hypnotizing song. Under the early big sun I wait for my brothers to signal the chorus, and I join. I contract my ribs. Click. I dilate them. Click. And my song repeats and continues and carries forth into the females with its luring ancient pull.

Together with my brothers our song is enchanting and beautiful. A gorgeous, beckoning, deafening screech flows in waves through the daytime air until the big sun is gone and I am asleep.

Now I am on the hard concrete. I limp forward still, more confidently and smoothly than before. I have found no mate yet, and I am curious of what will happen to me. And I begin to question even the most fruitful of turnouts. I may find the sweetest of beady eyes, but it seems futile to continue onward upon impending death. I am going to die, and soon. There is no escape, I know, from all this. My fate in this heavenly world has been sealed, and I hate it, and I want nothing more but to yell out, only I have no throat. Only my body commands me to continue, and now it is stronger than I am. Suddenly I see a mammoth, pale-skinned creature, with giant but widely spaced hairs, each one almost as thick around as a pine needle. Instinctively I feel my wings begin to take flight, and I lunge forward at the colossal leg with all my strength, before bouncing off weakly and hitting the ground with a violent screech of my ribs. I wonder momentarily why I did that.

I take flight again, lurching forward randomly in the air, as I have very little control in the direction of my flight. I aim for the tall tree close to me, and upon arrival, I desperately try to cleave to any surface I can find. No use; my flying is far too turbulent. I see a branch and frantically try to grasp it, but as I fly toward it my head hits the trunk and I fall to the ground with another screech. My second attempt I find a leaf and settle upon it. I join my brothers in song.

Parasite On My Peni