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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Now Playing #5: Halloween Movies Edition

For about 2 weeks, my roommates and I hosted daily movie nights - mostly horror/thriller movies. Here they are, in no exact order!

- The Others

I had seen it before, but I still got goosebumps from this one. Not gory or super scary, but uniquely spooky in a way that gets under your skin. A generally good movie.

- Cry_Wolf

As a fan of the Scream series, I really hoped this would live up to the teen thriller genre. It didn't disappoint. Very nice twist at the end!

- Scream

You've got to love a movie this self-aware. Endless props to Wes Craven

- Cabin Fever

Given the amount of hype I've heard about this film, I expected a LOT more from it. It was a beating to get through. The only relevant scenes are the Shaving scene and the Pancakes scene - anyone who's seen it knows which ones I'm referring to.

- The Thing

The Thing is a good movie. It's not often you see horror in the snow, and less often that you find a movie that keeps you guessing and speculating all the way throughout.

- The Descent

Jumpy, but not scary. It shouldn't be billed so much as a horror film, I think. I'm not sure how best to genre-lize it, but it feels more like an action film at points. A cathartic journey for a scarred protagonist.

- 28 Weeks Later

I really like the two "28" movies, but this is the lesser of the two in my opinion.

- Quarantine

A good entry in the new POV-style horror genre (like Paranormal Activity and Blair Witch). Frustrating storyline at points, but the final scene is undeniably creepy.

- Planet Terror

Not too scary, just a fun Rodriguez/Tarantino-style ride.

- High Tesion

This foreign (French, I believe?) thriller was much better than expected. Very intelligently directed, and the twist will have you talking after the credits roll.

- Drag Me To Hell

Newer Sam Raimi - very campy for sure. It'll have you wincing out of hygiene concerns more than anything.

- Cloverfield

One of my favorite films from the past few years - features real characters and powerful imagery. Stop whining about motion sickness!

- Let Me In

Not scary at all. Let Me In is a remake of a (reportedly better) Swedish film. It's a romantic horror film. Confused? Watch the movie and you'll get it better.

- Night of the Living Dead

THE classic zombie film. Romero pioneered an entire genre of films with this one, and it deserves the respect it gets. Be patient with poor Barbara, she's very stressed.

- Young Frankenstein

Timeless comedy. I love you, Mel Brooks.

- Saw

One of my favorite series. I just wish the acting was slightly better in this movie, but oh well. While it may have pioneered the infamous "torture porn" genre, the Saw movies have plot twists and morality questions that will throw you for serious loops.

- The Fly

This movie is a horror film unlike any other I've seen. Not particularly jumpy, but it makes you think about things - and the thinking is what creeps you out. What does it mean to be human? As a side note, this film has great makeup and general effects.

And that's all, folks! I wish we could have had a list filled with more classics, but we had to work with movies that we all actually owned. All in all, it was a good time!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

What are my priorities?

I've been a regular blog reader for far longer than I've been a blogger myself. One of the blogs that I've enjoyed reading since its inception is Advanced Riskology. It's run by Tyler Tervooren, and promotes "better living through uncertainty." As a part of sharing a more adventurous lifestyle, Tyler is on his own quest for 1% - experiencing or accomplishing things that less than 1% of the world's population will ever get to do. Tyler updates his Quest for 1% on a monthly basis, and typically asks a reflection question to his AR community at the end. This month's prompt is as follows:

This month was all about recognizing and re-organizing priorities for me, and now I want to hear about your priorities.
What are the top three priorities in your life, and why? Why are they important to you, and how do you make sure you give them the attention they deserve? What do you do if you notice you’ve been neglecting one?

I think priorities generally shift over time. Anyone who knows me personally or has been reading here for any amount of time knows that I'm currently in my sophomore year of college, which has huge influence on my priorities. So for now, my top three are: getting good grades in school, staying involved with people and projects that I care about, and staying in good health.

  • Grades are important because they define a lot of college for me. If I don't maintain a good Grade Point Average, I'll lose the scholarship that brought me here - and then I'll really be scrambling for what to do.

  • Being involved with great people and projects has great benefits: having a full AND fulfilling social life while also doing things to help me grow. 

  • Good health is important because I think everything links back to it - no matter your goals in life, you can reach them better when you are in good health.

I can't quite seem to grasp how to give them all just the right amount of attention. I seem to have to "binge" on each every now and then and neglect the others, which keeps me locked in a difficult cycle. I NEED those grades - but I also need to maintain relationships, activity and health. But as I struggle through trying to figure these things out, I also wonder: what comes next? What happens when the need for grades, arguably the most critical of my priorities, goes away after graduation? Will I consciously pick the new priority, or will it be handed to me?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

How My Life Changed This Summer

It's about time I take a look back and reflect on the summer, since I've just finished my first break of the school year. This summer was HUGE for me in terms of personal growth. I'll try and put up each major highlight and it's description in this post.

- Personal Contract

At the beginning of the summer, I began to get that nasty "it's going to slip away and won't get to do anything I want to do" feeling. This feeling has come up (and proven true) in several summers past, so I decided to head it off by making a tangible promise to myself. So just after midnight on May 7th, 2011, I wrote this short personal commitment statement:
I'm writing this as an open proclamation - No longer will I allow myself to go down the path of failure. No longer will I perform in a lackluster manner and simply say "I tried." NO. I have been given far too many opportunities to let myself fail. I will not shy from the road less traveled-by, nor will I ignore te advice of others. This summer will not be one of laziness and regret, but one of growth, achievement, and fun. In short, it's time to step my game up.

In frustration, renewal, honesty, and hope;

Christian Buckler

- Watching Mustache Man

I watched this video through the Art of Manliness:

And quickly fell in love. This is a key example of what I want to be like for the rest of my life. In great fitness, challenging myself through fun obstacle races, and not being afraid to go a bit crazy.

- Kentucky Trip (Gpa's funeral, painting, scholarship)

I made a casual trip out to Kentucky this summer for two main reasons: My Grandfather's funeral and picking up a scholarship. However, this being my vacation, I thought it would be "cool" to strip and repaint my grandparents' back porch while I was in town. This taught me a couple short lessons. The first: Once you hit flow in a certain task, it's best to ride it until completion. For instance, If you figure out the best way to paint the handrail of that porch, paint ALL the handrails - not just the handrail of one section. By leaving that task, jumping to another one like painting side rails, and coming back to the handrail; you're less effective at handrail painting than you were at the start. I would attribute this to reacclimation, and I'm sure it would depend on how different the tasks were.

The second lesson was simply that wasps aren't that bad. As a quick confession, I'm near-phobic not a huge fan of stinging insects like wasps, bees, and yellow jackets. That porch had nooks and crannies all over the place that made for GREAT wasp nests. Cool. Long story short, I killed a bunch of the things so not I'm not as skittish of them.

- Gym Internship

I worked as an unpaid intern this summer at a local gym, and observed on a daily basis the ins and outs of small businesses, particularly that of a small franchise gym. I also got to see health professionals at work, including personal trainers, homeopathic product promoters, bodybuilders, massage therapists, endurance athletes, and one potential NFL recruit. Overall, I met a lot of great people and learned a lot - oh, and I had some fun along the way, too.

- LeaderShape

I could write many, many posts about LeaderShape. I was one of 4 TCU students sent to the LeaderShape institute this past summer, and came away with several great experiences and great friends. I left LeaderShape with a new outlook on life: one filled with hope and potential. Above all else, LeaderShape taught what it means to live with integrity, and also the power of the individual.

- 24-hr romance

I had a brief romantic fling with a girl back home, one that really showed me what actual compatibility and chemistry looks and feels like. She called things off pretty quick for reasons I won't describe here, but I'm still reeling from the beauty of that moment.

- Give a Damn

I wrote about Giving a Damn earlier this summer, a realization I had after LeaderShape. We could all do a better job of sitting in the front row of our own lives - and lining up our thoughts and actions while we're at it.

- Mormon Friends Leaving

I had a handful of good friends leave for their 2-year missions this summer, and I'll miss them dearly. That being said, I'm very excited about the awesome opportunity they have to travel to another place and experience life with all kinds of people for so long.

- Argument With a Friend

Perhaps I was a little too gung-ho about my GAD attitude. At the very end of the summer, I attempted to call a good friend out on a discrepancy between the opinions she was stating and the actions she was taking. This resulted in a bit of a spat (most folks don't like being told "you're wrong." Odd.) that has since been resolved forgotten.

These events were only a few points of my summer, but they illustrate the overall themes and growth that occurred. And to think I was so worried about wasting it!