Monthly Archives: August 2010

My Favorites: “Scream”

I was either 12 or 13 years old the first time I saw “Scream.” It was my first horror movie.  I really hadn’t seen anything remotely scary before it. Granted, most true horror fans would probably tell me “Scream” isn’t scary. Well, I was 13. And I was then, and still am now, a wuss. I’ll stick to the “non-scary” scary movies, thank you very much.

I was home alone when I watched it. With my door shut. And even though it was in broad daylight, it still scared the living daylights out of me. I’d never seen someone get gutted or have their throat slit. And I remember how much my mom startled me when she knocked on my door, because I hadn’t heard her come home.

I personally think “Scream” is a well-written, well-acted, intelligent action thriller. It manages to be tongue-in-cheek yet still take itself seriously. It’s not a parody, unlike the unbelievably awful “Scary Movie” series, but it does recognize on-screen that the entire killing spree is following the “rules” of a horror movie. And the sequels, while, perhaps, weaker, still work very well if you view the series as a whole.

You can keep your gory flicks like “Saw” and your Japanese remakes a la “The Ring” or “The Grudge.” I’ll take the teen horror genre, which also includes “Halloween,” “Nightmare on Elm Street,” “Cursed,” “I Know What You Did Last Summer,” and “Urban Legend” — all of which are required viewing for me every October. I do like certain other horror movies, but these will forever hold the fondest place in my heart.

Bring on “Scream 4”!


Nathan
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I Finally Get It

My, how this is a year of evolution for me. Less than 365 days ago, the mere thought of me attending a baseball game would have been nauseating, even laughable. I hate sports, always have. In my entire life, I’ve never attended a single sporting event – professional, school, or otherwise. I’ve had no interest, no desire. I was against the entire principle of sports. After all, athletes are overpaid, school athletics programs often overshadow academics, and riots can even break out over the results of what is ultimately just a game.

So imagine my surprise when I was invited to a baseball game and I actually found myself saying yes.

And if that wasn’t enough, picture my shock when I actually really, really enjoyed it.

Yes, that’s right, I finally understand why people like sports – at least in person. Because I was cheering, screaming, shouting, hoping, and singing right along with all the other fans. Granted, these were the Pittsburgh Pirates, so we really didn’t expect our hopes to be answered. But it was the environment, the atmosphere that really got to me.

I’m not sure what I thought an event like this would be, once upon a time. I think I expected insane fans, long lines, drinks being spilled on me, and other general unpleasantness.

What I found instead was excitement, entertainment, food, and – yes – just plain fun. People always told me that, even if I don’t enjoy watching such things on TV, being there is entirely different. And that, I see, is indeed true. Now I’m even planning on going to a Penguins game this season. (Though I admit, I’ve had a bit more interest in hockey the past few years due to a friend’s obsession with the game, so going to a hockey game is slightly less out of character for me.)

Plus, I got some great pictures, some of which I stitched into this awesome panorama (which is also, at the time of writing this, my header). Click to see it full size (very large).

So, hell froze over, pigs flew, I went to a baseball game and enjoyed it, and the Pirates actually won! A day of insanity, indeed. 😀


Nathan
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My Favorites: Steven Spielberg Presents “Taken”

I was talking to @KaitorTot (holla!) on Twitter a few days ago, and I mentioned one of my favorite miniseries of all time. Then I decided to start a series of blogs about some of my favorite movies and TV shows. This is the first. Whoo!

Steven Spielberg Presents “Taken” aired back in 2002 when Syfy was still called Sci-Fi, when they weren’t worried about marketing or a brand name and just called themselves what they were. It had a run of 10 two-hour parts and aired over two weeks.

“Taken” has one of the most detailed, planned-out storylines I’ve ever seen. Starting in Roswell in 1947 and continuing through the then-present, it spans four generations of three different families — two of whom encounter and are abducted by aliens, and one family that spends their lives hunting the abductors and abductees alike.

The Keys’ family story starts with Russell, who has nightmares of being abducted. With his life a mess, his marriage fails, and years later he discovers his son, Jesse, is also being taken when they encounter each other on the same alien ship.

The Clarke family story begins with Sally, who harbors one of the Roswell aliens (in human form) in her home. The alien impregnates her then…well…takes off.

Captain Owen Crawford discovers the crashed Roswell saucer and is eventually put in charge of a top-secret organization that studies the aliens’ visits to earth, as well as the mysterious implants the aliens place in people and what their endgame could be.

Interesting side note: Dakota Fanning narrates the miniseries throughout and appears in the final two parts. She was just a youngun back then.

10 two-hour parts may seem daunting, but it’s a fast-paced ride, and I watch it about twice a year. I can usually polish it off in a weekend. Wonderfully cast, beautifully filmed to match the era of each episode, and superbly written, I highly recommend it if you enjoy science fiction.

You can buy Steven Spielberg Presents “Taken” on Amazon.


Nathan

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Curiosity’s Sake

Every time I post something new, I can watch my blog’s stats to see how many people read it. Often, I get 70 or 80 viewers for each new post, but usually very few (if any) comments. So I’m curious. Who’s actually reading my stuff? If you’d be so kind as to reply to this via commenting, tweeting, e-mailing, or even Facebooking if you know me personally, I’d appreciate it. I’d just like to get a general idea of the variety of people reading, or if it’s actually 80 views but only 3 people.

Thanks!


Nathan

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No need to share this time! 🙂


The Versatile Blogger Award

A little while back, Briana over at Twenty-Something passed on the Versatile Blogger award to me. ‘Tis my first award, and I’m honored, so I’ve been thinking about what to post ever since. I’m supposed to tell you seven things about myself and then give the award to fifteen other blogs.

So, seven things about myself…

  1. I used to read so much, easily three or four novels a month, but since I started working about six years ago, the amount I read has decreased considerably. When I come across a book I love – such as anything Harry Potter – I can burn through it right quick (I read “Deathly Hallows” in around seven or eight hours). But now I’m lucky if I read one book a month.
  2. I’m a mama’s boy. That’s right, I said it. We disagree about a great many things, and we’ve had our share of arguments, but my mother is easily one of my best friends. We share a sense of humor, even if our interests are considerably different (she’s never read even a single sci-fi or fantasy novel, for example).
  3. I watch way, way, way too much TV. Probably around 50 hours a week. Much of it is reruns of shows like “Friends,” and a lot of it is food-based reality TV, like “Cake Boss” and “Chopped.” And I thank God for the people who came up with “Leverage” and “Burn Notice.”
  4. I didn’t go to college, and sometimes I deeply regret that, while at other times I’m so glad. I have a job that I love, and most of my co-workers do have degrees (and hefty student loans). So I’m proud that I’m doing what they’re doing.
  5. I have a dream of being a writer. I’ll certainly never be as talented as JK Rowling (may she live forever), but I like to think I can tell a story at least as well as Stephenie Meyer. I’ll I’ve had a book in my head for years and I finally started writing it back in January. I’m around 160 pages in, and I figure it’ll be 300 when I’m done. The problem is, I go through writing spurts, where I’ll write 30-40 pages in a week, then won’t be in the mood for like a month. Maybe I’ll post a brief excerpt of what I’m writing sometime soon.
  6. This is the worst year of my life. It sucks in so many ways. It’s full of fear and uncertainty and awkwardness. My future could be terrible.
  7. This is the best year of my life. I’ve learned so much about myself and finally started to figure out who I really am. I have a real social life. I like myself for the first time…well, ever. My future could be fantastic.

And now I’m supposed to pass this on to fifteen blogs. And that’s a bit of a problem, since I read very few, and the few that I do have already received it. There was a time, quite a while back, when I could’ve done this easily. But I haven’t been a big blog reader in several years. So, while I feel bad accepting an award I can’t pass on like I’m supposed to, I’m still going to accept it because I’ve never really been awarded for anything. So, thank you, Briana. And everyone reading this should definitely check out her blog, if you haven’t already.


Nathan
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Kennywood, Idlewild, and Family — Oh, My!

What a hectic long weekend it turned out to be. And – lucky you – I’m going to tell you about it.

Thursday was my community day at Kennywood, so I’d had long-standing plans to go and get the second use out of my season pass. I went with my aunt and uncle, my 16-year-old cousin (who just so happens to share my birthday), and my 2-year-old cousin. So, of course, the 16-year-old and I broke off to do our own thing.

Phantom’s Revenge – which I hadn’t ridden yet this year – was closed at the start of the day due to some technical problem, so we headed over to Exterminator. I was a bit wary of getting on this one, since the last time I rode it, I got fairly sick. This time, I’m happy to report, I was fine, so I’m going to blame the last time on the fact that I’d had Potato Patch fries beforehand. I’ve decided those fries, which used to be so delicious, now just aren’t the same. By not eating them, I avoided being sick the entire day.

Then we headed back around to Racer, another of my favorites. Since we were in the area, our next goal was Jack Rabbit. Unfortunately, this is when it started to rain – the first time. Riding Jack Rabbit in the rain was…interesting. I hate being wet, not to mention my cargo pockets were full of things that don’t respond well to moisture – cellphone, camera, et cetera.

Afterward, we waited out the brief rain and then headed to the now-open Phantom’s Revenge. Oh, how I love that ride. Of course, just as we were about to board, the rain started again. And rain, on a hypercoaster, feels more like bullets. Still really fun, though.

At this point, my cousin was starting to get discouraged, but I was still fine. But we sought out the rest of our group and hung with them for a bit before heading out again. We did Pirate – my personal favorite ride, even though it’s not the most fun – and headed to Thunderbolt. While in line for Thunderbolt, the rain started yet again, and they closed the coaster. So we didn’t ride anything else.

Despite the frequent rain (I think we counted six times, overall), it was still an enjoyable day, especially now that I appreciate Kennywood for reasons other than the rides.

Friday, I got up early again and headed to Idlewild. Some of my mother’s siblings have wanted to get together there for a few years now, and finally we did – me, my mom, an aunt and uncle, and an aunt and her boyfriend.

Idlewild is the number-two kids’ park in the world, apparently, but I gotta say, at 26, I still totally love the place. It’s considerably calmer than Kennywood, but now that I’m gettin’ older and all, I don’t mind that. It’s shadier, too, so that’s nice. And the weather, which I’d feared would be a repeat of Thursday, turned out to be fantastic. No rain, the humidity seemed pretty low, and there was a cool breeze.

Friday at Idlewild was Italian Day, so it was packed, which would normally bother me, but despite the huge crowd, lines for food and rides moved quickly. There was a huge pavilion full of Italian food vendors, and everything pretty much rocked. It’s only in the last few years that I’ve really started hanging out with my mom’s side of the family, and I’ve come to realize what a blast they are. Plus, it’s a rarity to see my mother get out and really have fun, so I was glad she got to do that.

The highlight of the day, for me, had to be meeting a really sweet English family who were here “on holiday” (I so geeked out when they said that) to attend the wedding of her sister to an American man. We were waiting to ride the train, and their young son was pretending it was the Hogwarts Express, singing some song he made up – “How do you get to Hogwarts? How do you get to Hogwarts?” I absolutely adore meeting English people, especially as kind as they were. We chatted for a bit about the weather – it’s considerably warmer here than they’re used to, and we explained it’s been uncharacteristically hot here this year – and told them we hoped they enjoy the rest of their vacation.

I also surprisingly liked Idlewild’s circus. I’ve never been a fan of circuses, in general, especially clowns. But the Royal Hanneford Circus puts on a good show. At 45 minutes, it’s the perfect length, and it features quick-change artists (my favorite), a Doberman act, and the Wheel of Doom, among others.

And there were concerts throughout the day, culminating with the Vogues. By then we’d already been there for almost 10 hours, so we only stayed for a few songs (including “Five O’Clock World,” my personal favorite). But that just happened to be my very first concert. Sad but true.

Anytime I get to have Dippin’ Dots, pizza, funnel cake, and potato wedges, it’s a great day, so Friday was – well, Friday was perfect, and that’s not something I say very often. Seems like the best I can usually say about my day is that it wasn’t bad, so to say something was good is rare, let alone perfect. I actually get choked up when I think about how great a day it was, because that’s just not common for me.

I spent Saturday recuperating, taking just enough time to run out for some food. We were all pretty much exhausted. And today, I spent time with Mom and Dad as well as another aunt and uncle from my dad’s side. (My parents each have a decent number of siblings, so I have a huge family.)

This week will be spent working, of course, and trying to figure out a way to make my biggest summer dream come true before time runs out. Granted, I’ve been trying to figure it out for over a month now, so I doubt my chances are very good, but I’m still going to try.

I wish more weekends could be spent like this. Truly a “grateful to God” weekend. I sincerely hope yours was just as good.


Nathan

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What Is Love? (Baby, Don’t Hurt Me)

“Love doesn’t make the world go round, love is what makes the ride worthwhile.” – Elizabeth Barrett Browning

I’ve never been in love. Well, with one possible exception, but that’s a very long, complicated story that’s best left unspoken.

I’m 26 years old, and I’ve never dated. And by that, I mean I’ve never been on a single date. Which I suppose has a few advantages. I’ve never had to experience an awkward, uncomfortable first date. I’ve never had to worry about whether or not I should kiss my date at the end of the night or if we’ll both tilt our heads in the same direction, resulting in a devastating nose bump from which there’s no recovery. I’ve never had to worry about meeting anyone’s parents or that I might say something to embarrass myself – well, okay, that one’s pretty much inevitable.

But I’ve also never even experienced my first kiss. How very Drew Barrymore of me. (Side note: I kinda like her and her many quirks.) And at this rate, one day it’ll also be very Steve Carell of me.

And though I go back and forth on how I feel about this, I think I’m actually kind of okay with it. Because while it sucks to never experience mankind’s deepest, most important, and most powerful emotion, I’d rather never experience it than experience the twisted version many people nowadays seem to have.

Yes, just because I’ve never been in love doesn’t mean I don’t understand the emotion. Which is more than I can say for most people.

First and foremost, people are so afraid of not being in a relationship. Why? For one thing, because they define themselves by their relationship status. If they’re not dating someone, people wonder why. “Is there something wrong with her?” “Is he gay?” “Does she drive people away?” “Is he secretly seeing a married woman?” “Is she an alien from the planet Flaflooga?” Well, maybe not that last one. But many people are driven to be in a relationship just because of public appearance.

And, of course, there’s the introverted factor, as well. They’re afraid of being alone. Which is understandable, but not being in a relationship doesn’t mean you’re alone. But it makes people ask themselves, “Why doesn’t anyone want to date me? Is there something wrong with me? Do I drive people away? Am I actually an ali—” Well, you get the idea. Which motivates people to look even harder.

And one thing I’ve definitely figured out from observation is that you cannot go searching for love. When you do, you settle for something that merely resembles it. Love isn’t something you can make happen. It’s something that you have to allow to take its own course. It’s a force unto itself, more powerful, perhaps, than gravity.

But people try to force it anyway, and we hear more all-too-familiar quotes – “He’s not too bad. I can change him.” “Her quirks don’t bother me that much.” “Once he settles down with me, he’ll grow up.” “Once she and I start living together, I’ll get used to it.” After all, this is what we’re “supposed to do.”

And this, friends, can be summed up in one very simple word: “Settling.” And settling is fine, if you’re picking a laundry detergent or a restaurant or an internet provider or which candy bar you’re having on your lunch break. But when you’re talking about the person with whom you plan to spend the rest of your life – well, I’d say that’s one time you should never settle.

Piece of advice: If you feel like you have to change the person you’re with, or if you feel you have to change against your will in order to make a relationship work, you’re probably not in love. When you’re in love, there’s no doubt. There’s no question. You look at them and there’s nothing you care about changing. Does that mean they’re perfect? Of course not. No one is. But you love them despite their flaws – or possibly because of them. And if they never change, you just don’t care.

They say relationships take work. And I’m sure that’s true. Sometimes you’ll have to do things you don’t want to do. But there’s a rather significant line between “work” and “This is driving me crazy!” Learn to recognize that line.

Honestly, I’d much rather be single for the rest of my life than experience some cheap imitation of love. Because even though I’m single, I’m not alone. I do have friends and family who care about me, who spend time with me, and with whom I can enjoy life. And that is what’s truly important in life.

I just refuse to settle when it comes to love.

Or what candy bar I’m having on my lunch break. It’s gotta be the Milky Way.


Nathan

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