Planes, Trains, and Funyun Breath

Chimes Opinions Article
Zachary Newcott

Previously the closest experience I had to riding a real train had only really arrived last Christmas in the form of me placing my niece’s pet guinea pig on my dad’s miniature train as I joyfully sang the theme song from Indiana Jones while it rode through the tracks frozen in fear. The experience was only benefited by imagining it was wearing a little hat and had a whip. Now it seems the tables have turned. This past weekend I was treated a ride up to Portland, Oregon by means of Amtrak, and in the process I can say I have had my comeuppance served in full.

Beth came along for the ride and after seeing the apocalyptic film The Road just
earlier that week I decided it was necessary that I collected necessary supplies for the trip. All the same, I neglected to realize that although Superman is comparatively faster than a speeding train, so are cars, airplanes, horses, and at times, even humans walking at a brisk pace. We rode the rails over night and into the afternoon.
Unfortunately my supplies only included a family-sized bag of Funyuns and two
Lunchables, which we had to ration out over the course of nineteen hours.

I also forgot toothpaste.

There is something to be said for the unexpected beauty to be found in the
morning when one wakes up at their seat to see mountains out their window covered
in a blanket of snow. Then again, the experience is a bit weakened considering that
one wakes up every ten minutes due to the constant rumblings of the tracks and the
guy a few seats ahead whose laugh is composed entirely of a loud hacking noise.
Which brings me to an interesting conclusion: seats were never meant to be
slept in. Beds were. This is one of those things that history should have taught us, yet sadly hasn’t completely sunk in. I try again and again, and usually I can only seem to doze off if I practically break my spine in half, wrap my head in my jacket to keep it from freezing off against the air vent, and wedge my legs somewhere between the seats ahead of me. Here, in this surreal position, I am capable of at least waking up an hour or two later, not necessarily feeling refreshed or able to recognize that I have slept, but at least capable of knowing that I have woken up from something. Possibly just from passing out due to spoilt Lunchable meat.

Luckily, when sleep doesn’t come, there are plenty of friendly folks on the rails
who are eager to share their stories. These hardworking folks come from all walks of
life and carry with them literal garbage bags filled with experiences. I spent a few
hours of my first night listening to two strangers up ahead of me go head-to-head as
they both competed each other to share their stories about who knew someone else
who had a worse case of cancer. It could be said the woman with the loudest voice
had come out on top, but in the end I suppose there were no winners.

I got caught listening in on one conversation, and then found myself discussing
role-playing games with a bearded stranger for three hours. Not wanting to insult the
man with my disinterest, yet still grasping for something to reference other than World of Warcraft, the stranger’s station mercifully arrived just in time before we began discussing smelting a third time. Beth meanwhile was apprehended by an old man
with bright suspenders and a half-empty bag filled with what she suspected to be
nothing but underwear.

On any journey the greatest destination comes with the appreciation of your
companion. The trip was long, and although we were at times in a state of
desperation, I can honestly say that there is no one I would rather have shared an
entire bag of Funyuns with than the one who I came onboard with. As we both woke up
from our uncomfortable naps and found ourselves in Portland we knew we had
gained something that we would always share. Funyun breath.

The Great Not-Valentines Day Plan

Biola Chimes Article

Love. It’s all around me. From the flocks of friendly cats wandering the neighborhoods, to the scary man I just saw on the subway who threatened a fellow pedestrian for casually brushing by him, it seems everyone is catching a wiff of the same thing, and no, I don’t mean the smell of my cat Georgie’s litter box. Everyone is catching the old “kissing disease,” which is what I usually call any disease someone catches. Except this time thankfully it’s not leukemia, it’s actually the Valentines Day jitters.

For some special people, Valentines Day is one to be cherished and looked forward to. Those special people however can range from uncomfortably affectionate lovers who treat each other with public oil massages in the park, to downright terrifying people who surprise their special someone with personalized billboards, skywriting, and/or by kidnapping them and placing them in a situation not unlike Hannibal Lecter. I’m not one to judge. Personally, I’m counting my blessings this year that my fiancee has completely forgotten about Valentines Day altogether.

“Good thing I remembered all that stuff you told me to do for the big day coming up,” I told her, with a phone poised in my hand. “I made so many plans I can’t even remember all of them! Oh so many plans! What were they supposed to be again?”

“What day?” She responded. “Is something coming up?”

Thinking quick, not unlike a fox, I responded by saying, “I mean... What?” And then ran away.

Yes, some might argue that may only mean she has so much more to look forward to when I surprise her this Valentines Day morning with her cat dipped in white chocolate and encrusted with diamonds. Sure, such surprises have their joys, but just think of the joy I can bring to her by giving her a day full of so much deception that she’ll be unable to ever understand what holiday is currently occurring for everyone else. So very much joy, I say.

My plan is so simple really. All I have to do is disable her internet connection to keep her off Facebook, then isolate her from her friends, perhaps by distracting them with Valentine’s Day gifts of their own. Then all that’s left is to print my own personalized version of the morning newspaper and replace the headline to something along the lines of “It’s Not Valentines Day.” After that, it’s clear sailing, as long as I can keep her from going to the grocery store and can easily convince her that the Valentines Day parade we run into is actually for returning astronauts. It’s almost too easy.

All this I am willing to do for her. Nay, for love. And also for me. But love mostly. Sort of.

Shhh. Don’t speak.

Finally, to complete my deception of love, I ask that all of the Chimes readers join in by quickly lowering their heart-shaped balloons and tossing their boxes of chocolates into a nearby shrub as my fiancee passes by. Remember everyone, now that I forgot to make those dinner reservations Beth told me to make two months ago, we’re all in this together. There’s no backing out now.

Happy Valentines Day Everyone!


Just look at him

If i wasn't so easily impressionable, I would say that is one very cool and very satisfied snake.

According to a recent article, this guy's owner got him hooked after smoking 20 cigs a day, and now the viper gets one in the morning and one at night.

And if he doesn't get one you don't want to be around.

Even though I do find the image captivating, I think I'll try to keep Georgie Fruit from getting any bad habits.
Although I suppose he could use an intervention about that troublesome drinking problem.

"Georgie No!"


The Road - Movie Review


View Trailer
The Road

I read the novel of The Road, and as far as adaptations go this one just about has everything you'd expect. Except maybe minus the disturbing burnt baby parts. If you read it then you know what I mean, and if you hadn't then maybe you get the idea of how brutal Cormac McCarthy's apocalyptic vision of the future really is. Nothing is sacred. Director John Hillcoat this time takes the helm, and considering his last project The Proposition left me reveling in a nihilistic sense of who-in-this-world-cares-anymore, it only seems natural that he tackle the darkness of a world depraved of light.

No real explanation is given for why exactly the world has turned its dial to crap mode, although it goes without saying that just about anything could be the cause. I blame Tyra Banks. Trees stand barren and dying, cities collapse in ruin, and all creatures wasted in the ditches. The Road, unlike films like 2012, opts to focus in on the journey of one man and his son as they make their way to the coast. Why they're heading there? Well, why not? This story is one that highlights that journey towards the ever receding horizon. Sometimes it takes a journey to realize that the horizon lies wherever you happen to be standing.

As a film The Road realizes this apocalyptic world with a sense of complete immersion. It's very real, and as such, it's also very scary. On the other hand, I do think the film could have been even scarier had it focused in just a little bit more of the details depicted so vividly in the book.

I find that Cormac McCarthy is a brilliant screenwriter who just so happens to publish his works as novels. He takes time to show his world and characters through their actions. So I found the films use of narration to be unnecessary. In terms of acting, the characters seem real until they occasionally speak in unusual formalities. I didn't find myself connected to them as deeply as I did when I read the book, but perhaps my experience in reading it tainted my experience in viewing it. I will at least say that by the end of the novel I had tears in my eyes, this time I was just being reviewed.

To others, I'd recommend you pick up a copy of the book, and then, if you have the time, maybe head over here and we'll play Fall Out 3 together.


Where Have I Been All Your Life? - Better Question, Where Have Cat Cones Been?

It's a been a little while, I must admit, since my last posting. And boy just think about all the things you've been missing out on. Just think. Wow. Things like my cat Georgie who just got a cone head.

Yes. It's finally happened. Georgie got declawed this week, and due to his excessive paw licking Beth's mom resorted to stapling a neon green visor around his head. The little guy was so resourceful however that I later had to staple on an addition of green felt.

I'm fairly certain he hates the world now. If the bloody paw prints in the kitchen didn't send a message I'm pretty sure the puddle of cat urine I found on top of the stove this afternoon certainly did.

Geogie might not be happy, especially after I staple on another addition to the visor cone, but it looks like at least this random dog from Japan is:

Just look at him. Adorable. Heart warming.