To Wii? Or Not to Wii?

Zachary Newcott
Chimes Opinion - 9/26/09

If I have learned anything from a lifetime of playing video-games, it’s that any problem can be solved either by pushing crates, using explosives, or forming a collection of otherwise useless objects such as a loaf of bread, a coin, and a pony, which when combined, somehow form a key to unlock a door. Unfortunately all of these lessons failed me when I realized I had to pay rent this month.

It doesn’t take much to get a man through the toughest moments in life. It might just take a high-end power tool, sporting gear, or bacon. I, on the other hand, require more than just that, especially considering that I fear any power tool might partially dismember me and any sporting good might hit me in the groin (likely resulting in a comical “boing” sound). Considering the rising prices on the bacon front, there is little hope to be found there. Videogames on the other hand got me through a lot.

After all, what knowledge of biology would I have if Mario hadn’t taught me of the wonderful world of mushrooms, or the exploding fire-ball power of flowers? What knowledge of physics would I have, had not the game Dead Or Alive expanded my horizons? How else would man have harnessed the super-sonic speed of Hedgehogs if it weren’t for the days of Sega Genesis? We have come so far my friends. I'm certain I speak for all of us when I say that during high school, at one point or another, we named all of the female Final Fantasy characters after girls we really liked. I know I did.

With all that said, times are tough. This past week I had to sell my very own Wii to pay for gas. It was one of the toughest decisions I ever had to make. Before coming to Biola my Wii was my only trusted companion, without it I don't know what to do with myself. Together my Wii and I explored the farthest reaches of space, as well as the comforts of a relaxed game of tennis. Long ago I made little mii avatars of my friends, or when lacking friends, girls I had crushes on, or when lacking that, Final Fantasy girls I had crushes on. It was a confusing time for me. But that was all in the past. Never again will I have the joy of accidentally throwing my wii-mote at the television and injuring my cat, or the chance to watch my fiance look like a drunkard as she attempts various minigames that require her to draw on the screen. Weep not for the memories.

Luckily I still have the joys of being engaged to fill in the void left by Nintendo. Joys such as registering for Snuggies at Target, going to Ikea, and renting "He's Just Not That Into You" from the Red Box. This is my life now.

Beth gets the Leopard Print and I get the Zebra.

A few nights ago I became lost while driving and somehow managed to take my fiance down to the beach instead of to the movies. Apparently the sense of direction I had gained from Grand Theft Auto wasn't nearly as precise as I expected. The night took a turn for the better however when we realized that I had actually driven us directly to a group of Frozen Banana stands directly next to eachother. It's moments such as these that I'm able to realize the unexpected fun to found in the game of life. Sure, there's lots to be had in a Wii, but life has something else entirely, something that I hope to explore, and maybe booting the Wii is a chance for me to level up.

And if not, there's always Xbox.


Computers Doing Things I Don't Understand Again

I realized that my computer at work has the unnerving tendency to disfigure anyone I please, provided that I pause a video of them and rapidly scroll back and forth.

Within seconds I can turn any one I see on the Biola University site from friendly student, to demon possessed oompa-loompa.

This is what I do with my life.

Day By Day - Eating Right Week

Day By Day - Eating Right Week
Zachary Newcott

With a cool five dollars in your pocket, feeding yourself for a week might seem like an impossible task. Not if you take it Day By Day style.

Day One - Ramen Noodles Day

Oh, I'm sorry Mrs. Money Bags, but some of us out here can't afford what you call Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup. Some of us get to enjoy a dish made for the everyman, and that dish is Ramen Noodles. For those unfortunate souls who rarely have the chance to somewhat-digest this treat, on this day help yourself to the best of all the noodles; chicken-flavor, or it's close follow-up; meat-flavor. Whatever you do, just steer clear of that tempting demon we know as shrimp-flavor. It's just not worth it. Add a dash of salt into that bowl to up the precious sodium. For your health.

Day Two - Macaroni and Cheese Day

Whether it requires a stovetop or a microwave, macaroni and cheese has become the universal last-second meal when there's nothing else in the house but pop-tarts. Nutritionists may still be flummoxed by what sort of daily vitamins and minerals are actually supported by the small packet of cheese sauce in every box, but that doesn't mean it won't quell your hunger until the late night burrito run. Fun tip: to get an additional taste sensation, use nothing but butter in the box recipe as well as negate the entire cooking process of stirring the cheese sauce into the mix. I'm salivating all over my keyboard and clutching my stomach right now just thinking about it.

Day Three - Cereal Day

On this day spend a half-hour or so picking out all the ants that have burrowed into your freshly bought box of Lucky Charms after you left the kitchen cupboard open over night. Take a moment to appreciate all of the technological advancements of the 20th century as you notice all of the new marshmallows the magical leprechaun has provided you with. Someday our society may learn to forgo all the non-marshmallow pieces in lieu of what we all really desire. Yes, it may only be "part" of a complete breakfast, but if life has taught me anything it's that sometimes the marshmallow rainbows make up for sum of its non-nutritional parts.

Day Four - Taco Day

On this day fully realize the potential those two-for-one dollar taco's have by purchasing some for your very own. Briefly question if American cheese has a right to be in any food before ignoring the thought and eating it anyway. You might regret it later. In fact, it's practically guaranteed you will. At the time though it will seem like the best investment you've ever made in your future. Live in the moment and take your tongue on a trip to the south of the border, and then back up again to the city of Pepto Bismol.

Day Five - Green Day

On this day realize that green foods aren't actually as expensive as you thought. Pick up a whole head of lettuce and decide whether it would be more manly to gnaw on it whole or drizzle some sort of white dressing on top of it. Enter a whole new world as you realize that you can get bananas even cheaper if you find the discounted pile of black ones in the corner. Then frantically struggle not to throw up your previous intake of tacos and macaroni at the checkout.

Weekend - Pepto Day

Eating like a college student comes at a price, but luckily doctors take the change. On this day get a hold of some Pepto-Bismol and guzzle it down to quell the fire in your heart. Swear off the Jack In the Box tacos once and for all and seek forgiveness. It's time to clean up your act and find that perfect balance, the one between salads and Ramen Noodles. It might not exist, but if you keep working at it there just might be a pot of gold at the end of your marshmallow rainbow.

In Memory of Flan

Chimes Opinion Article - September 23, 2009
Zachary Newcott

Flan was the first pet I ever had to die on my watch; at the very least the first one to die outside of a fishbowl. As a matter of fact, Flan died holding her most precious treasure, a large chunk of food which I could barely manage to pry from her cold dead claws.

Flan was a feeder mouse, which automatically placed her housing and board a cut above the rest of her old buddies from the two dollar bin at Pet City. I could classify her as being exceptionally "well cared for" as long as I didn't feed her to a large snake or pony. Just about every day for her was a new chance at life. She was mine, and I sought to care for her to the best of my ability.

Some time earlier when my mother was first diagnosed with a severe case of cancer, my sister-in-law suggested we visit a grief counselor. Knowing how backwards many aspects of my life take place, it only seemed fitting that we meet with someone to help us deal with death before it actually occurred. Seeing it as a great opportunity to get a free box of tissues to help deal with the gravity of the situation, and my allergies, I dragged myself to it as well.

In the counselors office, a rather large green plant dominated the corner gave me a slight jab each time I began to doze off and unconsciously lean towards it. It was at one of these moments that I thought I'd stop to "smell the roses" so to speak and take a whiff of the provided foliage. Smelling the fresh scent of Febreeze, I realized the plant was about as real as the photos I had seen in bargain picture frames at Wal-Mart. It made sense. After all, who wanted to be reminded of the fleeting nature of life in a grief counselors office by a withering brown sac of weeds?

I buried Flan in the weeds behind my house, quite literally, as I couldn't manage to pry up any dirt with the spoon I stole from my roommates kitchen supplies. I covered her as much as I could and decided it would be only right to give her a few words of remembrance.

"Flan," I said to myself and my roommate's cat, who I had to tenderly kick away after he began pawing at the barely covered box of Thermaflu, "You were a great mouse. Although I had no idea that your cute arched back was probably due to how incredibly inbred you were, I was smitten by your curiosity and tendency to run in mindless circles on my hand. You died doing what you loved most, eating. I respect that. I think we all do when it comes down to it."

That green plant in the grief counselors office is probably still there today. It probably will be for the next decade. It will stay green when it is thrown in to the back alley and replaced by whatever artificial foliage mankind comes up with next. Then, much later, when mankind is overpowered and destroyed by their mechanized cognizant artificial foliage, it will probably still be around. Eventually that evergreen plant will outlive us all until it's the last green bit of foliage on earth, and then it will be more alive than all of us. It will never experience grief, or loss. It will never fully experience anything at all. It will just stay green until it needs a loving hand to dust it off and appreciate it for being there to stand in the corner and jab kids awake when they don't know what losing someone really means.

Read it online at The Chimes.


Orphan - Dollar Theater Movie Review


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Orphan - Dollar Theater Review

There are two things that scare me in this world, and one is nuclear war. The other is little girls with long black hair who come up behind you just before you close the medicine cabinet in your bathroom during a thunderstorm. Orphan is the kind of movie that goes for the latter of those two, and in doing so I must admit, the film really delivers on its promise of delivering all kinds of horrible sights.

This is also the kind of movie that knows what we're already afraid of, and so it will capitalize on our paranoia again and again, rather shamelessly, actually. It must have been a half-dozen times that the tension building music swelled to a climatic build-up just before our hero would look into a mirror or close the refrigerator door. What kind of horrible sight would be there? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Well, maybe except that one time. And it's that one exception to the rule that makes Orphan just that much more terrifying. Anywhere else I would just be annoyed, but at some point during the viewing a noticeable knot had tied itself in my stomach. This film is really quite intense.

John and Kate are two characters who (in an unexpected parallel of the reality show of the same name) have serious problems involving children. After losing the third addition to their family, and getting off the wine wagon for good, they both decide that adoption would be the best way to give the love they had for the baby they lost to someone who dearly needs it. Quickly they make haste to a nunnery were they find little Esther, whose ability to paint is actually quite good in the right lighting. Excited over this talented young lady, the parents sweep her away.

And everyone lives happily ever after.

Still, there's something just not right about Esther. Maybe it's just something about girls her age. Or maybe she's just a horrible demon child. Whatever it is, it means that Esther knows how to use a hammer. Her new mother (Vera Farmiga) kind of has the feeling the kid wants her out of the picture. Her new father (Peter Sarsgaard) is pretty confident Esther's a sweetheart when she doesn't happen to have a bottle of kerosene in her gloves.

Orphan might be cheap at times with it's jolting noises and sudden images, but that's just part of what you pay to see. This is a horror movie that actually makes good on it's promise to scare, finding a place alongside Drag Me To Hell as one of the best horror films of the year. But whereas that film had a colorful fun charm about it, Orphan is downright brutal in assaulting your sense of anxiety. Esther is almost admirable in how daunting of a villain she really is. This is no doubt largely a success due to the performance of Isabelle Fuhrman, who at 10 years old has left a sizable impact on how tightly I lock my closet at night. Sleeping after this one isn't much of an option.

See it.


Chimes Opinion Article - Feline Flatulence

Feline Flatulence
Opinion Article 9/17/09

Zachary Newcott

Beth's cat Georgie Fruit has a lot of problems, but his most recent happens to be farting. Originally it took me a couple seconds to realize that the squeaks I heard when picking him up didn’t actually come out of his mouth, but now I’ve managed to forgo the entire picking up process and just witness his farting power all on his own. It’s unassuming at first, but then it envelopes the room in an invisible cloud of barf, a cloud of which there is no escape.

Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever smelt a cat fart before. I don’t know what you’re into, and I’m certainly not one to judge, but believe me when I say it’s far worse than anything I could produce, even after devouring a pile of spicy chicken fajitas at Molca Salsa. This of course comes at the tail end of a long line of Georgie related problems, and in contrast to his recent run-in with fleas, the farting dilemma is the Mild in the bin of Flaming Hot sauce packets.

Fleas are incredible insects. Much like their brethren mosquitos, they join the special segment of the animal kingdom pyramid which is composed entirely of creatures which have no impact on this earth other than to annoy every other segment of the animal kingdom pyramid. No one is safe. In an act of random cruelty, Georgie found himself a victim by his arch nemesis (aka: the bunny living on Beth’s back porch) and became infected by these horrible pests.

The only solution was a cat bath, and for Georgie the cure was worse than the disease. Although he doesn’t have much fur, his wet body resembled a mummified skeleton scampering back and forth in the shower and screaming wildly. If it wasn’t so funny it probably would have been disturbing. Yet he had his revenge by witnessing the flea bath of his rival Johnson the bunny, who in the midst of his treatment inexplicably began drumming on the sink faucet with his hind legs in a desperate attempt to keep his heart from exploding.

Still, the fleas returned. My old roommates could relate. Their cat Stig also got fleas, and Jon has since resorted to scratching his bites his their car keys, leaving long red stripes down his legs. Micah has since begun to consider wearing a flea collar of his own around the apartment to effectively counteract the parasitic onslaught. Stig meanwhile has given up moving and instead has collapsed in a large round heap in front of his food bowl, lazily pawing at it in request for more.

My solution was fire, and lots of it. Luckily, Beth put out my torch and instead opted to shuffle out the money needed to get medicine from the vet. Money, I remind you, that could have gone to the poor. Or videogames.

Yet, after all of this, Georgie has only repaid us in releasing noxious barf breath from his rear end. Again, I suggested fire as a solution, but I feared Georgie’s gasses would result in a cataclysmic explosion. Then again, pets aren’t really here to repay us for the food we feed them or the poops we have to scoop up for them when they miss the litter box (Why Georgie? Why?). They’re just here to eat and bother us when we’re at the computer, just like children, except furrier. It’s the moments when they curl up next to us and place their heads in our lap that we appreciate them for just what they are, cute little farting machines.


Day By Day - Commuting Week

So it turns out that the Chimes wanted to hurt my feelings this week and not publish my Day By Day article, instead choosing to publish one about various dances from around the world. I'm all for dancing (usually dancing involving vigorous hip thrusting and repeated pointing to a specific body part), but the one they had chosen unfortunately failed to capture my interest, mostly due to the authors ability to use big words I don't care to try to understand...

Well, here's mine. I'll leave it up to you to decide which article should have made it in.

Day By Day - Commuting Week

Labor Day weekend has come to a close, and although history may never know its true origin or purpose, we have accepted our day off from school and work with open arms. Now we must head back to the old grinding stone once again by braving traffic, the merciless heat, and angry drivers. This week lets celebrate our daily commute.

Day One - Bike Day

Nothing says "I Freakin Love the Environment! Probably Way More Than You Do!" than showing up to class covered in a shiny layer of sweat. On this day save the gas by blowing the dust off your bicycle. Although it may have been passed down by your great-grandparents, made out of wood, and features one giant wheel accompanied by a tiny wheel in the back, this beauty will get you anywhere, provided that the hills aren't too steep. Additional respect points are rewarded in proportion to the amount of spandex worn in conjunction with the amount of stretching performed upon arrival at your destination. Declare to your coworkers "Welcome to my world. My world of exercise!" while propping you leg up against the computer and attempting to reach your toes.

Day Two - Bus Day

In many cities across these United States the public transportation system is renown as the best method to get from place to place. Here in Los Angeles it mostly serves as the best method to fear being shot or stabbed while in a moving vehicle. On this day celebrate your commute by sincerely hoping that the woman with a shopping cart full of cats doesn't decide to sit next to you and engage you in a conversation concerning the mind-controlling gasses emitted by airplane exhaust. On the other hand of the spectrum, take this opportunity to explore your own "crazy side" by engaging another stranger on the bus by repeatedly referencing your extensive Pog collection and the numerous benefits of padded walls.

Day Three - Rollerblade Day

Although having the advantage of eight wheels (making them a faster alternative to four wheeled automobiles, mathematically speaking), rollerblades are mostly useful for reminding you of your dependance on sturdy objects to hold onto as you'll spend the majority of your time desperately pulling your weight across the landscape. Instead, I suggest you follow in the footsteps of my greatest mentor, the Dog Whisperer, by attaching yourself to a pack of dogs and have them pull you wherever you need to go. "Hyah! Hyah!" you'll scream, as you harness the power of the pack and become the lead dog with your fellow canines racing down the street with you in your bright pink rollerblades following close behind.

Day Four - Speedwalk Day

Running takes too much work, and walking at your own pace all too often results in being slowed down by infamous "slow walkers" who seem to always manage to squeeze their way directly in your path. Luckily, no one bothers a determined speed-walker, as these professionals tend to usually appear as though they're constantly in urgent need of a bathroom. Get to class fast on your feet by donning an expression of constipation and rapidly moving your arms as your legs move at a slightly fast, but not too fast, pace.

Day Five - Labor Day Encore

It was a short week anyways. On this day celebrate your commute by not making one and kick back with a tall glass of Arizona sweet tea, the perfect companion drink to relaxation and unemployment. Declare this day as Labor Day Part II: The Return of Labor Day the Phantom Menace. Enjoy yourself. Days like these only come once or twice, or whenever you decide to have one, a year. It's a beautiful thing.

Chimes Opinions - Contact Time

Contact Time
Opinions Article - 09/08/09

At some point in history a man, most likely inspired by the Three Stooges, realized that the best method to correct ones vision would be to repeatedly poke something into their own eyes. That realization led to the invention of contact lenses, an item that has since garnered universal recognition as a viable alternative to the constant glasses-breaking us book worms all so frequently had to endure at the hands of angered biker gangs, as well as provided the perfect excuse to cry in public. After numerous encounters with bullies at college and frequent emotional breakdowns due to sudden flashbacks of a previous episode of Greys Anatomy, I finally decided that a product such as this was meant for me.

My only previous encounter with contacts was four years ago, when I thought my entrance into college would benefit from the lack of a broken object affixed in front of my eyes by scotch tape and carpenters glue. A wrench was thrown into my plans however when I realized that contacts required prodding fingers into one of the top three places on my body where I desperately didn’t want fingers to prod: my eyes.

As cool as having lazers shot into my eyes sounds, I just couldn’t go for surgery either. I settled on a pair of frames which I would later repeatedly lose until finally sitting on them.

Two weeks ago I decided it was time to try again. Again I endured the same practical joke the optometrist pulled on me at my last three visits by sitting in a dark quiet room until having a powerful jet of air shot directly into my face at the most unexpected moment. It appears my doctor makes for a tough audience, as in my surprise the empty coconut thud, heard as my head banged against the medical instruments, refused to elicit the slightest laugh. It’s a sick world we live in.

With Beth at my side I took my seat, placed the glistening lense on my finger, and raised it to my eye.

Thirty minutes later the situation had not changed. It appeared that as my finger approached my face, my eyelid would close at equal speed. All those years of listening to my mothers words of not sticking various objects into various body parts had finally, and surprisingly, sunk in. Although when I was six I could jam Play-Dough anywhere I wanted, I just couldn’t do it now.

As I repeatedly tried again and again, a thirteen year old girl taking the same test approached the counter, poked both her eyes twice, and apparently completed the same task I was attempting to finish in a matter of seconds.

The patience of the doctors was beginning to waiver. If I was going to do this I was going to have to overcome the disturbing memory of the time my brother convinced me there were crystals inside of toothpaste and squeezed an entire bottle in my eye. A breakthrough arrived when I realized I could force my eyelids open if I jammed my fingernails deep into them.

“Great job,” the doctor told me. “Now take them out.”

Looking back into the mirror and staring at my red eyes, I fully realized what a terrible situation I had placed myself into.

As they began to close the metal gates and shut off the lights I realized that once again I had lost the battle to contacts. The tears in my eyes were no longer merely from the irritation of constant poking, but from the recognition of my own defeat. I had failed, and now I had to face the humiliation of having my face grabbed by the doctor and the contacts removed by someone else’s hand.

I drove Beth home in silence. Although it’s pretty often that I embarrass myself, this was one of those special occasions where I also got to be sent away in a state of near blindness. She took my hand, and turning her way I realized how lucky I was to not only be near-sighted, but to be close enough to see her.

I returned the next day to face my arch-nemesis, and I returned victorious.

Now I just have to do it every morning...

Chimes Day By Day - Cat Week

Day By Day - Cat Week

This week we celebrate the joys of owning a cat. Unless you live on campus. Then we celebrate the joys of knowing someone else who owns a cat of whom we can reap the benefits.

Day One - Feed The Cat Again

I know there's one thing your cat will love, and that's food. On this day give your cat everything it's little heart desires by opening a can of rotten-smelling ground fish bits and watch your furry rascal go crazy, or watch as he wanders away completely uninterested now that you've finally given in to his demands. If all out of traditional cat treats, try tossing him a pop-tart and see what happens. I hear they love cherry flavor. Don't we all?

Day Two - Try To Use The Computer Day

On this day attempt to finish your 900 page memoir while having your cat meander by your feet. Think of it as a wonderful writing experience until he begins clawing deep into your legs. Although you can still see the screen through the tears in your eyes, cherish the moment when your cat wonders in front of it to completely obscure your view. Attempt to pet him away until you realize he's stepping on your keyboard and has somehow managed to hit all the keys needed to initiate a computer self-destruct sequence.

Day Three - Give Your Cat A Scratching Post Day

In an effort to distract your pet as much as possible from yourself give him a scratching post to let out his aggressive affection. Set him in front of it long enough for him to wander away, again, completely uninterested. Have fun as you physically move his paws up and down on the post to show him how clawing on such an object is performed. Then collapse on the couch in defeat until he returns once again to shred your legs.

Day Four - Trash As A Toy Day

Although the bag might say that it "Is NOT a Toy," watch as your cat has more fun pouncing and rolling inside of it than he has ever had with any of the playful objects you have invested in for him. Once his taste is wetted for garbage, stand back in horror as he has fun exploring all of your trash by pouring it out on the kitchen floor.

Day Five - Cat Shower Day

After his adventures in the garbage, realize that the time has come for your whiskered friend to get a bath. All though his claws and ear-piercing meows might say no, the smell of moldy garlic cloves will say yes. Take a moment to appreciate the comical appearance a wet cat attains in such a state, preferably in the form of a girlish giggle.

Weekend - Outside World Day

Although trips to the park with your pet are normally reserved for bigger animals such as dogs and ponies, on this day celebrate your love for your kitty by giving him a harness and taking him on a trip to the outside world. Although this will likely result in dragging your cat for the entire duration of the trip across grass and pavement, eventually he'll find the fun to be had by wandering into a thorn bush and refusing to leave.

Chiming In - Summer Vacation

Yes, I've been slacking on my posting, but I do have a reason. And that reason is college. Here. Take my recent Chimes articles as a small offering.

What I Did On My Summer Vacation
September 4, 2009

College is good for two things, and neither of those things are getting a job afterwards. One is the opportunity to claim that you're still in college when people ask what you're doing with your life. The other is to find a potential spouse. Biola is no stranger to this last option, as the "ring by spring" and graduating with a "MRS" degree have become universally known sayings around campus. This can be an infuriating experience.

I know what you're saying, "Zack, all you do is watch reruns of How It's Made, and your favorite music is 'The Bicycle Song' by Queen, what could possibly make you an authority on lasso-ing a lady with a ring?" Well Mrs. Doubting Pants, it just so happens that this summer I got engaged.

As I frantically drove north from Los Angeles, I wondered when would be the best time to ask Beth's parents for their daughters hand in marriage. Would it be before or after I reveal the fact that I had already proposed?

I was discovering that marriage was actually a tricky thing. Whereas I used to believe that the married life was nothing but videogame playing and "Lost" marathons, now I was starting to realize that it somehow took more than just that to get a future Mrs. Newcott to stick around.

After alerting my brother in law of my predicament he immediately offered a paid trip to Mexico within three hours complete with guns and pitbulls. Nevertheless, I was determined. Beth was the only girl for me, and if that meant I would have to set my current gamer score in "Call of Duty" aside -- I would just have to. There are three ways of doing things in this world, the right way, the wrong way, and the Zack Newcott way, which is also still the wrong way except more confusing and involves lots of shrugging of the shoulders.

There are a lot of preconceived notions regarding how to make the most memorable wedding proposal, and most of these involve ball-park signs, hot air balloons, and appearing with long flowing blond hair alongside a wild stallion while holding a carton of "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter." While I tried to make all those things a reality, I continued to set the actual proposal aside until I had the chance to ask Beth's parents for the go-ahead.

Although the box was mishapen and uncomfortable, for a month I continued to carry the ring around with me everywhere I went out of fear that if i left it in my room it would be consumed by my stockpile of dirty laundry and empty coke cans, something else I also realize doesn't quite fit with married life. Eventually I just couldn't wait any longer.

On a lazy Saturday while Beth and I were making a Facebook profile for our cat Georgie Fruit (add him), I apparently got that crazy look in my eye. Was it a look of passion? Maybe. Whatever it was, it inspired me to pick her up into my arms. Realizing that I was in no way capable of lifting anything heavier than a remote, much less a human being, I dropped her off on the couch. It was there, in front of my first love, the television, that I asked her to be my wife. She said yes.

In many ways, it was the perfect proposal. Mainly because it came as a surprise to the both of us.

The next day when I took Beth's parents to the fanciest restaurant I could afford (Mimi's) I told them Beth and I "wanted to get married." Their response was an immediate "did she say yes?" Luckily it seemed that they expected I wouldn't be able to contain myself.

So that's what I did over my summer vacation. I got engaged. In the process I have joined the ranks of Biola undergrads who have donned their rings before their caps. Am I proud of that? Who knows. But I got the girl of my dreams, and that's rather something.


The Final Destination - Movie Review


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The Final Destination

In case you didn't know, this is the The Final Destination. I'm not entirely sure what that extra "the" means apart from the fact that this recent sequel must have been inspired by this past years THE Fast and The Furious sequel, a film that spoiled the tendency I usually have for adding "the" to film titles that don't require it. Like, The Schindler's List, or The Citizen Kane. It just seems less intelligent and unnecessary, which I suppose is what this sequel is.

Unlike many reviewers, I had very high expectations for The Final Destination and was more than willing to cut it a little slack. If you don't believe me, just ask the lady who sold me two tickets at full price. I have a deep respect for this series which has set it's corner stone upon finding the most creative methods to murder its characters. In the past these methods have involved large falling pieces of safety glass, falling escape ladders, exploding fences, roller coasters, tanning beds, boat propellers, and oh so much more.

What this Final Destination lacks is a satisfying plot and captivating characters. That's bad. What it does have is 3D. That's good. But what the 3D lacks is a satisfying way to cover the audience with blood after each gruesome execution. That's bad. So what reason do we have to go see this?

Well, there are all the deaths. So many deaths. However, the basic formula for most of these is: Object A Goes Through Person B's Head (probably the eye or mouth), and the cycle continues. There is a fairly good one here or there, but you don't need to read a short story by Chuck Palahniuk to be able to spot them. Then again, the moment of the execution itself has rarely been the most satisfying part of the Final Destination series. It's usually the build up. These executions are supposed to be carefully designed examples of the chaos theory. Usually the victim is somehow the constructor of their own demise, and usually without even realizing it.

This film also makes use of several premonitions which allow the central character to view, essentially, the murder weapon to be used. This technique removes the previous ingenious methods of ominous foreshadowing and replaces it with so-so interstitial animations. Gone were are the days of scary flocks of pigeons or insidious messages, instead now the characters all go to eat at diners called "Death By Caffeine," go to see movies called "Love Lies Dying," or take part in any activity that has some form of the word "death" in it. It's amazing these people only wear clothes from Ambercrombie and not from Hot Topic. Although, the latter choice in apparel could have made them slightly more interesting to watch.

Rarely do you get to see a film featuring characters as thinly drawn as this. These people look like they have never left a mall except to go to the beach. Their interactions with each other never go much further beyond "I'm going to the pool to hit on some wicked hot chicks... and most certainly not be disemboweled by Deaths cruel hand. Then maybe I'll go see a 3D movie. Eh? Right?? Because people watching this right now are in a 3D movie! Eh?? Get it?" Wink. Dead.

Never have I been so distantly interested in whether or not someone was about to die. And I play tons of videogames. The first lines of this movie start with, "Everybody comes here to see a crash." The movie itself actually proves otherwise.

Wait for the next installment. The Final Final Destination.