August 17, 2015

My weekends are too busy

When I lived in Chicago, I often had weekends where I didn't do anything. Some of these were intentional (because of a long week at work), but sometimes it wasn't. Weekends of the latter sort usually left me with regret, because I felt like I wanted to do something, anything, rather than stay home and watch Netflix. Since moving to San Francisco, however, I haven't had many (or in fact, any) of those kinds of weekends. Instead, I now encounter some weekends where I am actually too busy (too many things scheduled at once). It's a pleasant change, but it's gotten me to wonder why that is the case.

To the best of my knowledge, here are the reasons why my weekends are now "too busy":

1. My friends are different in San Francisco. Much of the initial "dead space" on my weekends where I spent time alone has been taken up by a core group of friends who I spend more time with. This is probably for two reasons. The first is that while I had friends in Chicago, my friends there weren't necessarily friends with each other. This meant that while I had friends, I didn't necessarily have a friend group. The biggest explanation for this is probably that my core friend group (the debate team) happened to scatter after graduation, whether to New York, Los Angeles, or elsewhere.

But secondly, the kinds of things that my friends like to do here are different. For example, we now gather to play Dungeons and Dragons every weekend. Not only is my social group here more interconnected, our shared interests make it easier to actually hang out more.

2. The weather out here is better. This wasn't as much of a problem during the summers in Chicago, but during the winters going out was not fun. As a result, half of the year is now more open to actually going out and doing things.

3. A deliberate attempt on my part to do more. Post graduation in Chicago, I had a hesitancy to go to events on my own. I've since been trying to get over this, and be more willing to go to events even if nobody else is.

4. Having a roommate. This gives me a person who does stuff that I can also do stuff with, just by the nature of having a roommate.

As a result of all of these, I now have the opposite problem with weekends as compared with when I was in Chicago. I don't know how long this will last, and as I've since realized this is mostly conditional on a host of factors beyond my control. I'll try to enjoy it while it lasts.

June 15, 2015

Review: Mad Max: Fury Road

This review is a little late, but I really like this movie. If you haven't seen this movie you should got out and see it. If you're a fan of the Mad Max franchise, then you must see this movie. Even if you aren't a fan of action films generally, Mad Max: Fury Road is the kind of film you can enjoy.

The plot of Mad Max: Fury Road (MMFR for short) is perfect for an action movie. Just enough is explained to give the driving and fighting scenes meaningful stakes, and yet not so much exposition is given as to make you question whether the universe is well constructed. Sometimes action films try to do too much, or try to go too deep with their lore. This can work out even with plot holes (Inception, The Matrix), but most often it does not (pretty much all of the other Wachowski films, etc). Mad Mad's plot manages to avoid this. Partly because so little of it gets explained, it avoids collapsing on the weight of its own loopholes. And yet what you do see manages to engross you, moreso because of its brevity. You leave with a sense of the Mad Max universe being more whole than is shown and in fact want to know more.

Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron are great leads, but it is really Nicholas Hoult, as Nux, that is the breakout character of this movie. He plays his role not only enthusiastically, but also manages to make Nux fleshed out. His character gets probably the most growth throughout the film and in a sense becomes a third protagonist, the best proxy for the audience in the movie. It's this characteristic of Nux that makes him the character people will find themselves unexpectedly involved in.

None of this, however, would really matter if the action sequences weren't great, which they are. They stylistically fit well with the Mad Max universe, and can only really be described as "fucking awesome." I don't think there was a single moment when I thought that the action was too ridiculous or too plodding, and though I wanted to see more of it, I wanted to see more of this entire movie.

I hope that the inevitable sequel to this movie keeps what is good going. The tight action sequences, the right balance of plot, and the great acting are all what made this film. And while I don't necessarily expect Tom Hardy (or Hoult as Nux) to be back, whatever characters and actors they decide to sign up should try striking the right balance as well. MMFR manages to be a serious film that doesn't take itself too seriously, a feat that's rare, but makes for a great movie. If you haven't seen it already, you should.

March 27, 2015

I've decided to give blogging another try

But only partly here. A big part, since I am already interested in it, will be cover the 2016 United States Presidential election. You can find everything here:

March 2, 2015

Short Story: Cookie Caper

Prompt: You walk into the kitchen jonesing for a cookie. You grab the cookie jar and it's completely, unexpectedly empty. Yes, you're busy, but this is important. Then you notice the piece of paper with magazine cut-out letters

You weren't quite sure why there would be a ransom note, but then again you weren't quite sure why the former paramount leader of China was rummaging through your library. Nevertheless, you ultimately had to come to the conclusion that Hu (Jintao) stole the cookie from the cookie jar.

February 3, 2015

Short Story: Las Vegas Troubles

Prompt: It's the near future in 2048, and just outside of Las Vegas you get pulled over by the police. The police offer looks pissed.

Just great, you thought, the first time I've been to Vegas since I was a kid, and instead of enjoying the Angry Birds convention I get to deal with Angry Cop. Now that you think about it, it is strange that the American History Association would host their now annual Angry Birds convention in Las Vegas, but it's even weirder that you've only been to Vegas 2 times. You'd think that as someone who always wanted to be more irresponsible, you would have gone more often, but life caught up to you and your youth was wasted doing a boring desk job.

Even stranger was the fact that your parents took you to Vegas when you were 4. You suppose that probably makes sense, as they were new to the United States back then, and definitely were still pretty enamored by the touristy elements of being in the country, but who brings a child to this kind of city? So much of your childhood now makes sense.

Then you realize it's been 8 minutes since you handed over your license and registration to the cop, and now you start getting worried. You've never liked cops. Actually, that's probably not true, but as you grew older and read more stories about cops shooting unarmed teens, cops beating people for no reason, cops using civil forfeiture just to fund their departments, cops who in general have an us versus them mentality, you've started to realize your dislike of police in general. Not that any of your own personal interactions have been bad, but that's mostly because you're not black, which, unfortunately, you guess is just a benefit of the lottery of birth. Especially since they outlawed being black last year.

For a brief moment, you start reminiscing about how life has changed since you were 16, the last year you were really sure of anything. But then the police officer comes back, still looking mildly unhappy, but perhaps restrained by the fact that it was still illegal to beat you (and fortunately for you, that your car recorded every police interaction).

"Sir, do you know how fast you were going?" she asked.

"I don't, officer, but I was pretty sure-" you started, before she interjected.

"Sir you were 32 miles over the speed limit," she replied, curtly.

"But officer, the most recent sign I saw said the limit was 64 miles per-"

"Not in this zone. That zone ended 128 miles ago."

Well, it could be worse, you thought to yourself. I mean, after driving for so long, you'd think that you would have been pulled over earlier during your trip. "I suppose I'm in the wrong here, officer. How much is the fine?" you ask.

"It's going to be about $256, and you'll probably get some points on your record." she answered.

That last part made you wince. It would probably take about 512 hours worth of driving classes to get those points erased, which was time away from doing what you loved, which was anything but being in a driving class, which is probably why you were in this mess in the first place.

The officer left, and you drove on. About a thousand miles later, or 1024 more miles to be more precise, you finally reached Las Vegas.

Las Vegas in 2048, of course, was merely a giant hotel and convention center, situated next to a mega brothel, with a giant hat the size of the old Mount Rushmore (before they added President Putin), whose sole purpose for existence was hosting the conventions of cults like the American Historical Association and their mass suicides, but you already knew that.