Sunday, February 28, 2010

Motivation is a Bitch named...well, motivation

I don't know what the deal is lately, but it has been SO HARD to get motivated to do anything, particularly anything school-related. I have three tests next week, two in accounting and one in German, not to mention my German cultural essay is due tomorrow, and all I want to do is sit on the couch and watch my Netflix movies. I had all day yesterday to do everything, and instead I watched "Dances with Wolves" (p.s. if you're looking for a movie that will definitely aid with procrastination, I suggest this gripping 236 minute drama. Fantastisch), went and got pierced (again) and met some friends at Bardenay. Now the thought of going to my studying group for my Intermediate Accounting III class (snore, yawn, cough) makes me want to cry. It probably doesn't help that we ran 8 miles this morning (half-marathon training sucks) and now my legs feel like jell-o and I know it's going to be hell to get up off this couch.

Anyone else feel like this during this time of year? Ugh. I need the sun. I need school to be over. I keep telling myself three more months and I'm free from the tyranny that is accounting, but three months is sooooooooooooo far away. Plus, my impending move to Saarland (in Germany in case you don't have a map) makes focusing even harder. Adult ADHD, be GONE!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

I hate Idaho Drivers

I had another moment today, driving to work, where my anxiety level went from 0 to 400 in a matter of 10 minutes. First, who the HELL thought it was a good idea to close the center lane of Main Street for construction work between 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. on a f*cking work day?? Second, just because people have to merge into your lane due to said lane closure does not mean you have to let in every F*CKING car that needs to get in, douche bag! I sat at the same light for nearly 10 minutes because the car in front of me insisted on letting every single person into our lane. See, how it generally works is you let one in, I let one in, the person behind me lets one in, etc. And you wonder why I came | | <---- this close to repeatedly ramming your car out of the lane and onto the side of the road.

I'm sure it's not just Idaho drivers. But they are, perhaps, the most inept drivers on the west coast. I know one of these days I am going to just hit someone like bumper cars. I don't have enough self control not to, as is evidenced by my three-year relationship with alcohol.

On a different note, due to my insomnia, I almost finished _Mrs. Dalloway_ for the third time last night. One of the greatest books ever written.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Whose Idea Was It, Anyway?

I'm sitting on my couch watching the Men's 15km Biathlon (instead of studying audit...and I wonder why I am such a shitty student lately) and there's only one question that comes to mind: who the hell thought it was a good idea to combine cross-country skiing and shooting guns in the same event?

For those unfamiliar with the biathlon, essentially it is an Olympic sport that combines the crazy sport of cross-country skiing with the fundamental right of American citizens: the right to bare arms. (However, biathlon could mean any two combined athletic events: like swimming and bike riding or binge-drinking and sex). Competitors cross country ski around a course and then shoot a target, at least that is what I am gathering from watching this. Not only that, they shoot with their skis on, which seems kind of dangerous to me, but what do I know?

But how did the biathlon come to be an Olympic Sport? Who thought this would be a good event to include in the Olympic Games? I did what any decent English major would do: I wikipedia-ed it (and yes, I just turned a noun into a verb...). Here is the history of the Biathlon, according to my very, very reliable source:

"The sport has its origins in an exercise for Norwegian soldiers, as an alternative training for the military. The world's first known ski club, the Trysil Rifle and Ski Club, was formed in Norway in 1861 to promote national defence at the local level.

Called military patrol, the combination of skiing and shooting was contested at the Olympic Winter Games in 1924, and then demonstrated in 1928, 1936, and 1948, but did not regain Olympic recognition then, as the small number of competing countries disagreed on the rules (see also Governing body, below). During the mid-1950s, however, biathlon was introduced into the Russian and Swedish winter sport circuits and was widely enjoyed by the public. This newfound popularity aided the effort of having biathlon gain entry into the Winter Olympics.

The first World Championship in biathlon was held in 1958 in Austria, and in 1960 the sport was finally included in the Olympic Games. At Albertville in 1992, women were first allowed in Olympic biathlon.

The competitions from 1958 to 1965 used high-power centerfire rifle cartridges (such as .30-06, 7.62 mm NATO, etc.) before the .22LR rimfire cartridge was standardized in 1978. The ammunition was carried in a belt worn around the competitor's waist. The sole event was the men's 20 km individual, encompassing four separate ranges and firing distances of 100 m, 150 m, 200 m, and 250 m. The target distance was reduced to 150 m with the addition of the relay in 1966. The shooting range was further reduced to 50 m in 1978 with the mechanical targets making their debut at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid" (Wikipedia).

Right. I still don't get it. It seems to me that participating in cross-country skiing is in and of itself a hellacious act. I've been cross-country skiing once, and I lasted 20 minutes before I promptly threw up, took off the skis, hiked back to the cabin and proceeded to get shnockered. But combining that act with the act of shooting a rifle seems, well, like a really bad idea. Anyone else think this? I mean, best case scenario, you shoot the target, hoorah, you get to go on. Worst case scenario, you shoot someone else. Whoops, sorry. I was really tired after all that cross-country skiing.

Friday, February 19, 2010

"The Last Station" Premier

One of the not-so-great things about living in Boise, aside from the horrible weather, the lack of sun for a good portion of the year, running into everyone and their dog everywhere you go, etc., is the fact that, during the winter, there is rarely anything fun to do. Sure, there is skiing or going to the movies or going to the ballet, but that gets very, very old after a while. Plus, when there aren't a ton of good movies that come out, one may be forced into sitting through two hours of "Dear John." Nicholas Sparks: die.

This is not to say that Boise isn't great. I guess growing up here, I'm slightly jaded. Occasionally, however, fun and exciting things do happen. Noted film director Michael Hoffman is a graduate of Boise State University, and as such, feels he has roots here in the community. This works out nicely for people like me who yearn for more when he directs a new movie and brings the premier back to Boise.

I was fortunate enough to be in a sound financial position to purchase tickets (well, I gave up booze and decided I did not need a new pair of running shoes) so that I could go to the premier of "The Last Station" with my friend, LaDawn. (P.S. all proceeds from this film went towards the Boise Contemporary Theatre and The Agency for New Americans).

"The Last Station" is a film about the end of the life of Leo Tolstoy. Now I have to admit, I've never read Tolstoy, nor do I have any real desire to. My understanding is that _War and Peace_ is like 1000 pages. Thanks, but no thanks. I have Netflix. I'm sure there's a movie adaptation somewhere. But, according to the film I watched last night, Tolstoy apparently had a huge following of people. Maybe I should wikipedia him and find out a little more. (Wikipedia tells me that he was a "Christian Anarchist" and preached "nonviolent resistance." Fascinating). I move on.

So the film last night starred James McAvoy, Christopher Plummer, Helen Mirren and Paul Giamatte, none of whom actually came to Boise for the premier but hey, we can't all be cool like Matt Damon or Michelle Pfeiffer, right? Rather than give you an entire synopsis of the film, which I'm sure you could google (or you could actually fork over the $9 and go see it, yes), I'm going to use this opportunity to do what I do best: criticize everything.

Truth be told, I thought the film was fantastic. Maybe it was the Chardonnay, maybe it was because it was Thursday and I was so emotionally elated at the thought of the end of the week, but I was completely emotionally moved by this film. I cried. Twice. Not just little tears either, mind you. BIG tears. I tried to stop myself because I spent a good portion of the afternoon carefully applying my eyeliner, but then I remembered it was waterproof and quit caring so much. From what I gathered, this Tolstoy character was an asshole. I mean, truly an asshole. He sort of reminds me of those people that are all pretentious and nonchalant but really just come across as total douches. Despite the fact, though, that I wanted to kick Tolstoy in the balls for leaving his wife, the way Hoffman presented the characters really made you feel for their plights. The relationship between Tolstoy and his wife, Sofya, was so carefully constructed that despite the fact that you thought Tolstoy was an ass, there was still that emotional connection with him. This is what saved the entire overarching theme of the movie: the complexity of marriage. Yeah, sure, it was about a lot of other stuff, too, but what it ultimately came down to was this intricate bond between a man and a woman who had spent the majority of their lives together and knew everything about each other, yet, in the end, could not stand to be around each other (well, Tolstoy had an issue being around his wife. She was pissed because he changed his will to give all his money to the poor people of Russia. I would be super pissed, too). But these characters grow and change, and their complexities and emotions and interactions are so well-developed, THAT is what makes this film truly amazing.

So moral: go see it. I promise you'll like it.

We also had tickets to the reception following the film, which was wonderful because it gave me a chance to ask a director a question that, well, I'd always wanted to ask a director. I'm assuming that one of the things directors do is try to elicit a specific emotional response in the audience. But because emotions are truly subjective, the way I feel a specific emotion may not be the way Michael Hoffman feels that same emotion. I wanted to know what it is like, as a director, to sit and watch the final product--what sort of emotions does one feel when they watch something that was created by them?

So I've gotta be honest--by this point, I had had five glasses of Chardonnay. I can't remember exactly what he said (shit, I don't quite remember LaDawn driving me home last night), but I know it involved something along the lines of a lot of editing and a lot of time trying to get the exact movie he wanted. And how so many times while making this film (five years in Eastern Germany...suck) he didn't think it was actually going to happen. But he also talked about the financial pressures of making a movie and how you want your movie to be successful but you also want it to stay true to what you want.

Okay, so it's no secret that I want to work in movies. I want to create pieces of art that truly reach people on an emotional level, and I'm so pissed that so much of Hollywood has become about profit. What happened to making movies simply for the love of making movies? Of creating things that span across different people in different places, reaching them on different levels? Why are there so many shitty movies out there that people pay to see? I don't understand! I had this horrible realization that I had paid $11 in Santa Monica to sit through quite possibly one of the worst films of my life (Dear John) and that someone actually took the time to make it because they knew that there were idiot people out there who just lap shit like that up. UGH. If Nicholas Sparks really feels an emotional connection with the shit he writes, I'm going to personally bitch-slap him.

I think I'm starting to rant now. I'm going to wrap this up. Here is a picture of LaDawn and I with Mr. Hoffman:

Thanks old lady who took the photo and didn't tell us she was taking the photo.

Also, I would like to say thank you to Meryl Streep for not having the time to be in this film because Helen Mirren is a way better actor than you, and super, super hot for an older lady and it was an absolute pleasure watching her.

So yes, go see "The Last Station." Fantastic film and you will not be disappointed. It is kind of long, so I recommend going to the Flicks to see it (if you're in Boise) so you can take some wine in with you.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Mo' Cal in SoCal

So for the first time ever, I visited the great city of Los Angeles. I use the term "great" to describe L.A., not just because I thought it was a fantastic place full of so many different types of people with so many different things to do, but great in the sense that, holy shit, it was huge.

My flight arrived at 9:50 p.m. on Friday, and as we flew over the vast expanse of lights and freeways and oceans, I couldn't help but compare the thousands upon thousands of people driving along the multiple freeways to platelets in veins. The red brake lights and white headlights looked like thousands of tiny platelets traveling through the vast networks of roadways and freeways and highways. It was all very fascinating. Had the fat dude on the plane not have been all up in my shit, I would have tried to get a picture, but his ginormous, varicose-veined calve was on top of my carry-on. You'll just have to use your imagination.

Promptly upon arriving in L.A., I met up with my friend Amanda and she took me to this wonderful place called Alibi for a vodka soda ($7) and some delicious prime-rib tacos (also $7). She told me about the new food trucks, started by the chef of this restaurant, that sold food out of these massive truck-kitchen things. Hmm...can we say taco truck?

Next, I met up with Alice in WeHo (West Hollywood: ). She said I would know it when I saw all the fags. I thought she said bags, until I rolled up in my rented Pontiac on Robinson and saw, well, a sea of gay men. As far as the eye could see. And not just any gay men. Well-chiseled, well-manicured, well-dressed, HOT gay men. We went to a bar called East-West, where I met a ton of Alice's friends and was treated to the tallest vodka-soda ever. Oh, did I mention there is no smoking in L.A.? FANTASTIC! I woke up the next morning in my hotel smelling of incense, and not cigarette smoke.

Saturday, my cousin Robin, her finance, and Alice and I hiked up this big-ass hill to Griffith Observatory. I consider myself pretty much in shape, but I guess not being exposed to warm weather kind of snuck up on my body, and by the time we reached the top, I looked like I had just run a marathon in Tijuana. Note to self: gray is not a good exercise color for the excessive sweater. We ate at this cute little cafe called Trails () and I had a goat cheese, tomato and basil something or other. Quite tasty. And just what I needed to off-set the smell of sweat.

Griffith Observatory was amazing and the views of Los Angeles were SPECTACULAR!

It was my first time visiting an observatory (at least that I can remember. I'm sure I went to some crappy one in elementary school on a field trip, but I don't remember). Mind you, for a hard-core science fiction geek, this was the coolest thing I had ever seen. How I had never been to one of these things, I do not know. Here are just a few killer pictures. Ah, I love it. We went to a planetarium show, though I can't remember what it was called, and for once, there was no motion sickness! I was too fascinated with everything that was going on around me. I felt like yelling, "make it so, number one!" Though I'm sure that would have officially outed me as the biggest, sweatiest nerd there.

Oh, by the way, there is an awesome view of the Hollywood sign from the observatory. Oh wait, Los Angeles decided to sell "the peak" to private land owners? And those land owners want to develop the property? I smell protest!
Normally, that says Hollywood. But on the faithful weekend that I am in L.A., it says "Save the Peak." God I hate protesters. Not that you can tell from this picture anyway, but I was too pissed to get a good shot.

I stayed with my friend Desiree Saturday and Sunday night. Sunday, we decided to take her ocean kayaks to Malibu and ride around. Um, yeah, only been sea kayaking once, and was not entirely pleased with the high tide rolling around. We sucked it up though and made it out on the water. It's kind of unnerving thinking about the fact that while you're paddling around out there, there's about 200 feet of vast ocean beneath you. Probably something out of "The Abyss" or some shit like that. James Cameron, why must you make me afraid of the ocean??? That being said, though, it was a blast. I found a tennis ball, which I named Penn and promptly left on Desiree's front porch furniture. Lame. And I didn't fall out, that was until we were coming back in and this giant wave flipped my kayak, hitting me on multiple points on my body, causing me to lose the oar (oh, but not before it hit me in the head) and my sunglasses. Both were recovered.

On Monday, I did all the touristy stuff and went down to Hollywood. I'm just going to include pictures because I'm sure you don't need me to tell you step-by-step what I did. There were hundreds of people huddled around trying to get photos of their favorite celebrities stars or hand prints. It looked like Disney World over spring break, complete with lots of small children trying to get pictures with their favorite characters, a burned-out looking Marilyn Monroe (oh God, she looked like she'd been ridden hard and put away wet), and an Elvis and an Elmo who both accosted me because they liked my shirt. And let me just say this, Hugh Jackman, you should be embarrassed. I though Wolverine would have bigger feet. For shame.

After paying $15 for two-and-a-half hours in a parking garage (Sarah: -10), I decided to go walking around all the mansions in Beverly Hills.

Now here I go. I've seen large houses before. I've seen people with some sort of self-desire to flaunt their wealth in entirely ridiculous, austentatious ways. But you have got to be kidding me!

Because nothing says "I'm super awesome" like a giant stone arm holding up your mailbox.

Or having a home bigger than my parent's neighborhood (I didn't have enough frames to really show the expanse of this property). I'm still not entirely sure who lives here, but they must be famous because the Starline tour bus makes a regular stop here.

The kid who drove out of this house had a pimped out Escalade and proceeded to honk at me as I ran by. Sorry, dude. Your parent's have obviously been hit by the economic crisis in California because they bought you a piece-of-shit Escalade and not a $100,000 Beemer.

So that was my trip to Los Angeles. I can't wait to go back! Hopefully for longer than 3 days.