Sunday, July 31


I assume everyone enjoys winning, to prove in competition that they are superior to their opponents. However, I believe there is something better, a good competition where everyone is pushed to their limits, and no one takes any cheap shots which the losers can grouse over afterwards. I would rather lose in one of those than win in a blow out.

I have a distaste for teams and people that seem unbeatable. I hated the Bulls when Michael Jordan was leading them to championship after championship. I've never liked the Yankees though their invincibility is certainly up for dispute. Really disliked the Cowboys, and that dislike has been transferred to the Patriots. Michael Phelps and Lance Armstrong are on my list of least favorite athletes too. For some reason, I've never had a problem with Tiger Woods though.

Tuesday, July 26

Interning at a bank

So, I work as a marketing intern for a local bank. It's an interesting choice, really. I like to think of myself as some sort of anti-consumerist/ capitalist, product of never being in true need of anything I guess, and a bank is very much a tool of the consumer. What's more, I have a problem with advertising, creating a need where none is present before. However, I don't really have to do any of that. This bank is working on creating a new website, so I've been writing the content for it. Can't hide what I believe though. My most recent assignment was to write up some basic information on credit and credit reports. My boss, the marketing director, told me that it was too dark. Lines like "Credit is everywhere in modern life. Credit companies tout gold and platinum cards on their advertisements, and banks promote their low-interest loans" and "Ignorance about credit has driven some people into the deepest debt" were not appropriate. Now I need to rewrite them to be more positive like CitiFinancial's website. I'm not even supposed to mention that interest will increase the cost of a purchase. Defining it is enough.

So now I wonder if I'm living in the 'bad faith' that Sartre spoke of (See that! I just dropped a name. Now watch me look like a fool as I butcher his philosophy. To prevent this, I'll be as vague as possible, so I can still claim that my basic intentions were correct. Can't beat me.). I'm doing something at odds with the nature I have created for myself, but I acknowledge it.

Oh well. The money is good, and the hours are flexible. And I have the chance to write. Not much more I can ask for.

Monday, July 25

Greatest Movie Scenes

Since I'm on an entertainment kick with these last few posts, I figured the best thing I could do is continue it by listing not my favorite movies (too hard) but the greatest scenes. There's some TV shows on the list too, so sue me. This is my blog, and I make the decisions.

The Princess Bride
-Inigo Montoya's final confrontation with Count Rugen
One of my all time favorite movies makes the list here. That line is just so great! "Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father prepared to die." Inigo's growing strength, and Rugen's increasing terror. I just want to jump up and cheer everytime.

The Matrix
-Morpheus' sparring match with Neo
Great fight choreography matched by philosophical questions. The sharp contrast between the physical and mental challenges put before Neo, and how they become one. Simply cool as was Morhpeus's delivery of "Is that air you're breathing?"

The Godfather
-Michael Corleone becomes the godfather
What grabbed me about this scene was the perfect juxtaposition of the scenes, the peace of the baptism contrasted by the harsh murders of all Corleone's enemies. The hypocrisy! What an evil guy!

Cowboy Bebop
-The end of 'Hard Luck Woman' (Beginning with Faye's return home)
Wow. Powerful stuff here. Faye running up the hill to her house was just excellent even though I knew what was going to up there. And the music! Wow. It just carries the last few minutes of the show as Ed leaves with Ein, and Spike and Jet drown their depression in hard-boiled eggs.

Kill Bill Volume 2
-The Bride and Elle Driver fight
A different kind of fight. Instead of graceful leaps and crazy wall running we get swords that can't be unsheathed because the ceiling is too low. Pure insanity.

Kill Bill Volume 1
-A pleasant conversation between the Bride and Vernita Green
Cool lines that are well delivered. The relative calm of the scene providing a sharp contrast to the earlier vicious fight and subject of their conversation.

Mystery Science Theater 3000
-Climbing down the tree in Time Chasers
Not the best episode, but the hilarity in this scene simply wouldn't stop. The sheer length and lack of tension in this scene were perfectly accented by classic lines like "Spielberg stole that bit" to "What? Did the tree contribute money to the film? Pan off it already!" to "...and a tribe of Ewoks finishes him off!" to "It's an Ent! Hrum." Inspired hilarity.

Return of the King
-Faramir's charge and Pippin's song
Very moving. A beautiful song to stand in contrast with the brutality and futility of the Faramir's attempt to retake Osgilliath. There's nothing else to say.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail
-King Arthur fights the Black Knight
I can't resist the ridiculousness of this scene. The savage Black Knight taunts Arthur roundly after taking a cheap shot when the king was at prayer and never admits to defeat, even as his limbs are hacked off. Nearly hurt myself laughing the first few times I watched this scene.

Well, I certainly have shown a proclivity towards violence with these choices. So, now you know a little bit more about me. Expect some edits as I think of more favorite scenes.

Sunday, July 24

Star Wars

I am a big Star Wars fan. I've read a whole pile of the Expanded Universe books and even played Decipher's card game with a friend until the Tatooine expansion came out and blew everything away with how devastatingly powerful it was. Never got into the action figures or other toys though.

This post is about the movies though. I watched Episode III a few weeks ago and have generally sorted out my thoughts about this story now. Yes, I found the prequels to be a let-down, but there were definitely positives like the performances of Ian McDiarmid, Ewan McGregor, and Samuel L. Jackson. I heard a lot of reviews rag on Hayden Christensen's acting, but I'm willing to cut him a lot of slack after watching him in Shattered Glass. I guess he just does whiny and petulant better than evil.

Considered as a whole, the story was amazing. I can imagine Lucas pitching the idea, had it been conceived as a whole first. "Right, so this kid gifted with 'the Force,' a kind of magic, is taken to be trained in its use. Meanwhile, as the most evil person in the galaxy is secretly twisting him, his mother dies after he dreams of her terrible pain. Then, he begins to dream of his own wife's death in the same way. The evil guy promises to show him how to save her, and he falls to temptation. For a long time, the evil guy orchestrates a massive war, playing both sides to consolidate his own power and defeat the good 'Force' users. The final half will be both the story of this first individual's redemption, and his son's own touch with evil." If I respected Shakespeare's plots, this would certainly qualify as 'Shakespearean.' But I don't will have to settle for saying that it's a bleeding cool arc.

Problems cropped up though. The writing was terrible. 'Younglings?' Good grief. The love story was out there too. A Dork Tower comic strip, put it very well with the punch line, "No, you hang up first." Lucas went overboard on the computer effects too.

Originally, I was thinking Lucas was just good at the big ideas and sucked at the little stuff, but then I remembered that Darth Maul and General Grievous were just too cool. Some of the greatest villains ever.

Not sure what I think about R2-D2 becoming such a bad boy. It was funny, I guess, but really odd. I'm just not sure.

Still a fan, but don 't know what's coming up to look forward too. I guess there's always fan films. Watched Revelations a few months back and was blown away by the effort put into it. Simply amazing. Computer was too slow though and the video kept skipping and being stupid.

Harry Potter

Well, it appears I've been a terrible slug and already broken my written promise. However, I've decided against the easy way out of self-flaggation and will make it up with a flurry of three posts today.

First up, Harry Potter, bought the Half-Blood Prince Saturday before last and finished it this Saturday after my mom had a go at it. I must say it has certainly renewed my faith in the series. The Order of the Phoenix seriously bummed me out. Some may call it dark, I just thought it was just irritating to hear Harry whine about everything for some 800 pages. Before I go on with this post, I will be revealing the ending so stop now if you cherish an unexpected ending.

And what an ending it was! Voldemort didn't show up once and it was still so threatning. It's amazing how Rowling could keep the reader's attention so long with what amounted to an extended climax from the search for the third Horcrux to the end of the attack on Hogwarts. On a sidenote, the assembling of all every somewhat important character at the end of the book reminded me of the series finales of Clone High and Seinfeld, some out-of-place humor. Fleur returned though, and that was fun. Now if only Krum will come with our intrepid heroes as they search for the Horcruxes. No more school for our heroes either. It's going to be one long hunt for evil now, though it will tick me off something mighty if this gets extended to an eighth book now. I want closure!

At the beginning of the book, I was disappointed in Rowling for having resorted to the Snape is evil red herring again. "Come on now" I was thinking. This card has been played in every other book. He's not evil. Well, I was wrong, but I'm sure he'll have a chance to redeem himself.

As far as the many mysteries this book presented, I figured the Half-Blood Prince was actually Harry's mom. It really seemed like Rowling was bashing the readers upside the head with hints though, what with Hermione's constant suggestion that it wasn't necessarily a girl and Slughorn's constant fawning over her. I found it a pleasant surprise that Snape actually had a positive trait. I never really considered what was bothering Tonks, but I'm a sucker for happy endings (as happy as this ending could be) and glad to see Lupin find some happiness. He has always been a favorite of mine, and I feel as though he has been shortchanged in the last few books.

My mom and I have a disagreement about Snape's intention and Dumbledore's reaction in the end. My mom thinks that Dumbledore was actually pleading for Snape to end his life. I think that Dumbledore started to plead because he knew about the Unbreakable Oath and knew Snape would actually carry out the plan since Malfoy was too weak to. Thoughts?

On a final note, I'm pleased with how the romances turned out here, much better than Order of the Phoenix though I'm still mad about Cho being a jerk. I liked her! Still, Harry telling Ginny they can't be together because Voldemort will use her is trash, just like in Spiderman. Just because they aren't "together" doesn't mean feelings don't exist that can't be used. Beat that, a triple negative! Also, snogging is a funny word and will have to become part of my vocabulary.

Saturday, July 16

Outsourcing and the global economy

I'm going to say this right off. Undoubtedly what I'm writing here will really irritate people. I probably will come across as arrogant or simple as well. You must understand that this is not my intention. I merely want to write what I think about outsourcing. Personally, I don't know anyone who lost their job to outsourcing, so I'm sorry too if I tread all over your feet. I would also like to point out that the only training I have in economics is a single high school course, so glaring errors and fallacies are not unexpected.

So, outsourcing. I guess it's a big issue. It was really huge a few months ago, but I continue to hear about it every so often. As far as I know, Lou Dobbs continues to devote a portion of his show on CNN to reporting on it as well. Well, here are my thoughts on it.

Good. Let's send those jobs all over the world. Hopefully this new market will allow parents in China and India to send their children to college thus raising the entire country's standard of living to that of the United States and then outsource their jobs to Africa and South and Central America and subsequently raise their standards of living. Spread the wealth around, I say.

Of course, there would be a significant portion of the labor force without a job then. Well, I have a plan in that case as well. First, the government simplifies its tax code, so major businesses and corporations can't hide behind tax havens and especially target those which outsource their workers. With these increased taxes, provide more higher education grants, so these newly unemployed people can return to school and find a new job. I hear that it's mostly accounting and tech support and jobs like that are the ones getting outsourced, so it shouldn't be hard to find a more meaningful career in college.

To better understand the context of this post as a whole you need to understand my own thoughts on globalization. I'm all in favor of it economically. One thing I did learn in that economics class junior year was that the American economy has largely been succesful because of the open market. Then let's create a truly free market. Knock down all tariffs and sign all the free trade agreements we can. Then competition will greatest and quality will improve and costs lowered as organizations contend in this new economy.

Thursday, July 14


Habits are one of the most important aspects of our being that we can cultivate. Sure, single impressive events like some tournament or contest may be memorable, but they do not have the same sway over our overall life. Though they may be small, habits lead to greater things and direct the way we view and react to things as a whole.

I'm proud of the day I started two new habits, at least 45 minutes of exercise (typically either Dance Dance Revolution or a four mile run with push-ups and sit-ups at the end) and reading the Bible. These allow me to grow physically and spiritually. Now, to improve my writing and self-expression, I resolve to make updating Spice of Life a new habit. At least once every other day, if at all possible, I'll make a new post.

Now that it's written, it will be done.