Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Boat Buddies

Attention, fanbase! My new game is now available for you to play! Huzzah!

Click here to download "Boat Buddies Battling a Big ol' Battleship in Bodiggory Bay, Baby!"

The assignment for this game was to create a game that could be played cooperatively. So, to play, you may want to fetch yourself a cooperator. Now... the strange thing is, technically, I haven't even played this game all the way through yet. Because it's cooperative, and I am minus a companion and minus a sidekick, I haven't been able to playtest it. Um. So hopefully it works. But I can tell you that if you too are minus a companion/sidekick, it's still possible to play all the way through. It's just gonna suck. But play around with it and drop me a comment if you'd like to boost my self-esteem.
Last time there were some errors, but no one was sure if it it was an error or if the game was just supposed to be like that. Lemme tell you: this time, there is only one boss. You'll have to play for a several minutes to get to the boss. Turrets should be shooting at you. The boss should be shooting at you. When the boss goes down, the whole ship should go down. Um. Yeah. If nothing works, please let me know. If everything works, please give me a high five.

Once again, if you take credit for my work, I'll punch you in the mouth. Repeatedly. Graphics I also do. Music I do not do. Music been did done by Nintendo, Rare, Square-Enix, and... um... HAL Laboratory? And the sound effects... ah, who knows?

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Continuing Adventures of the Same Game

So, as far as I can tell, I've had about three to four players of my "FireFox mod." I'm pretty sure more than one constitutes as a fanbase. However! 33.3% of my players complained that he (or she) couldn't get past the first boss. Not because he/she lacked the required skills, but because Windows Media Player trapped him/her in its arena. TWICE. This is most unfortunate. There are three levels, and three bosses, and my dream is that one day all my players can say they've officially saved the day. Well, I downloaded what I uploaded, and I didn't have any problems with it, so I'm not sure what happened. But lemme tell ya what I'm gonna do.

This is the original version. The one I submitted for class. I wouldn't think it should play any different, but you at least gotta make it to the second level. If something still isn't going right, this version includes cheats. Which I'm not gonna share with you. Unless you really want them.

Also, I don't know that the instructions were very clear. Nope; definitely not.
Use your arrow keys to move,
use the space bar to shoot,
shoot at those nasty executables and what not flying at you,
they'll go down after three hits (five on the third level),
and killing 20 of them will get you to the boss.
Kill the boss, also.

Hope it goes better this time around. Never give up. Trust your instincts. Let me know how it goes.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

My First Book!

So, I generally don't get a lot of thinking done, because I'd much rather be wasting away in front of the TV or living it up via video games. But in those rare moments when I find myself enshrouded in silence, occasionally a fantastic quote pops into my mind. Such as:

"If the world is dark, then the comedian sheds light on it.
If the world is ugly, then the artist draws beauty from it."

-James "Zanzibar" Carlson
Brilliant! Or how about:
"The most important decisions you make are the ones made in the present."
-James "Jujyfruit" Carlson
O! The great advice I give!
But how will I ever get these inspiring quotes into circulation? (I'll admit, blogging was the easy way out.) Most great quotes generally seem to travel quickly through books. Therefore, I must write a book! But I don't feel like doing anything creative at the moment, so I'll just publish a lil' quickie:
ONCE upon a time... if the world is dark, then the comedian sheds light on it; if the world is ugly, then the artist draws beauty from it.
~~Meanwhile~~
"The most important decisions you make are the ones made in the present," James Carlson proclaimed, as he sheathed his sword and stepped over the dragon's horrible corpse.
And they all lived happily ever after.
The End

Well, everybody, I hope you found that story to be both eye-opening and life-changing.

If not, as a small consolation prize, I'd encourage you to search "Blue Ridge Mountains" on my good friend, The Hype Machine. Sean introduced me to Fleet Foxes just recently, but I've really been enjoying them. In response, I've written my brother this little diddy:

But, Sean, don't get callous;
I'm sure it'll be fine.
I love you— I love you,
Oh, brother of mine.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Sweetest Venom

Oh, how I hate school. How I hate it with an undying passion! You know what I hate most about school? Homework. As if rotting in its walls all day wasn't enough, they send their terrible venom home with me!

But Hark! What glorious wonder is this?! Homework I enjoy doing?!?! WHAT IS HAPPENING TO MY LIFE?!?!?!
Yes, folks, game design. One of the few tasks I've ever enjoyed working hard at. I feel pretty happy with the game I turned in this morning, so I thought I'd share it with you, my beloved reader. It's far from perfect. I've noticed a few bugs, and I wish I had added on a bit more before I had to turn it in. But all things considered, it's not awful.

And as an added bonus, I'll throw in my first assignment, Ghostie McGhostensen. That's how much I love you.

These are the first files I've uploaded to Media Fire, but it seems promising. Let me know that it works. Let me know if you have any problems with the files. Let me know if you love it. Or like it. Or think it's decent. If you hate it, you leave me alone. Forever.

Also, the games themselves are copyright (O-8) to Uncle J. "Xarwinius" Karlsson. Well... exlcuding whatever isn't already copyright to Windows, Mozilla, Apple, Google, Valve, Game Maker, Nintendo, and Rare... I think that covers everything. But seriously, if I find out you took credit for my work, I will hunt. you. down.

Hope you enjoy!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Zeroes

James Carlson presents:
A Heroes Rant.
I don't know how much addiction has entered my life. Usually it's more of an obsession. With obsession, it's an uncontrollable drive to do or think about something I enjoy or even love. Legend of Zelda. Half-Life. 28 Days Later. Sufjan. To name a few. I think of an addiction as an uncontrollable drive to do or think about something that I hate.

And tonight, during the premiere of season 3, I realized that I'm addicted to Heroes. Which I hate. The whole concept of Heroes is that ordinary people begin to discover that they're gifted with extraordinary powers, blah, blah, blah, blah. Now, this is all well and good. Some chose to use their powers for evil, while all other characters pretty much just stand around and cry because their powers complicate their lives. Notice I left out the crowd that makes a choice to use their powers for good. Here's one of the major issues that I have with the show. There are no protagonists. As the story sporatically jumps around through past and present, it becomes clear that pretty much everyone becomes a villain at some point, or at least lives as selfishly and as whinally as possible. This didn't really occur to me until tonight as [SPOILERS] Claire tried to kill Peter, Peter killed Nathan, Ando killed Hiro, and Mohinder got freaky.[/spoilers] Sure, it could just be because these characters are constantly pushed to harder and harder circumstances, but wasn't that the Joker's theory? Where is our Batman?! Where is our Christopher Nolan?!
Now, Heroes faithfuls; I know you want to defend Hiro. But that only brings me to my next point: Nobody ever uses their freaking powers! If you had the ability to travel through time, teleport, read thoughts, fly, or heal yourself while an evil beareded man is tearing open your skull, wouldn't you use it every now and then? Especially if you're supposedly trying to save the world? Of course, their was that one scene in season 2 when Peter and Sylar were about to have an epic battle... and the camera panned away. What. Teh. Heck.
As if all of this wasn't bad enough, nothing is ever resolved. Some characters are even killed off, only to reappear later for some dumb reason. That's pretty much all these powers do: ensure that stupid, static characters never die. Instead, new characters and new [lame] plot complications are introduced every episode.
No protagonists, unused super powers, no resolution, no death, terrible acting, horrible writing, no Batman, no redemption... the list goes on... Oh, how it agonizes me how the list goes on...
Tim Kring even apologized for the way last season turned out... That gave me such hope for this season! Stop playing with my heart!
So why can't I stop watching? I think it's because the show really does have potential... Oh, how it pains me how much unfufilled potential there is!! Everything I mentioned just has to be reversed! Actual heroes! Resolution! Death! Sweet battle scenes!
Tim Kring... NBC... if by some freak coincidence you're reading this, let me come write for you! Sure I don't have any experience, but I charge you no thing! I can make those awful characters into true Heroes!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Samskeyti

I get needlessly overemotional after midnight, true enough, but I literally think this is the most beautiful thing I've ever heard.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Fustation

These days, anytime I try to talk about my problems, they only get worse. And I've got a lot of problems. I gotta try something new...

....................................

I got a Link plush toy today. ^________^


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Blahging Block

Tonight I tried to type "common ground" in an e-mail to a friend, and I accidently typed "TacoBell."

I ain't right.

Friday, August 22, 2008

H is for Helping!!


Ugh. I don't know think many people know this (mainly because it doesn't come across very well), but I think God has given me a heart for helping others. Now, all that really means is that I want to help others, but more often than not, fail to do so. Often I pray that God will provide a blatantly obvious opportunity to help someone out. Well, my Lord certainly answers prayers, but that doesn't make me any less of an idiot (ironically, my most frequent prayer request).

The past couple of days I've ran into plenty of people in need. The first right here in Monutown. I was driving home and saw a kid walking home from school, looking for a ride. He was your standard teenager. Lots of black (of course, I love black) and a skateboard in his right hand. At first I sort of scoffed to myself, as I had been working with teenagers all day and had had quite enough. But as I passed him, I realized that's really not what my attitude ought to be at all! I could've been a "good Samaritan!" I found myself in remorse a quarter of a mile later, praying for another hitchhiker to come along. A second chance.

God does indeed answer prayer. The next day in WP, I was heading home once more when I saw another hitchhiker with a cowboy hat and a guitar. A guitar! People with guitars are always interesting; it's a scientific fact! I gave this one far more consideration, but still sped right by him.

Why was I slow to give either of these guys a chance? Of course, picking up hitchhikers in our society is frowned upon. There's too much concern over which ones are stalkers, rapists, serial killers, and worst of all... moochers. But since when have I gone along with popular thought? The Halo series brought nothing new to the table, Juno was the worst tragedy ever to befall our great nation, and Jesus Christ is Lord and died and rose again to save you from your sins. Why not pick someone up?

To make matters worse, as I was driving home, I saw another person in need. A teenage girl. And the last time I checked, teenager girls have a very low rate of raping and serial killing (mooching and stalking... no comment). Her car had veered off the road and she was trying to push it up onto an exit ramp. Surely I would have done no wrong in helping her out! But I sped past her again, helping her only an afterthought. What is wrong with me?! I want to help people so badly, but I run past every opportunity I get!

Maybe it's because of my own misanthropy (which doesn't mix well with the spiritual gift of helps). Maybe I'm afraid of rejection because Americans are too proud to receive help and trying to assist someone only makes you nosy and overbearing. Maybe Majora's Mask done me wrong.

Which, of course, demands an explanation. One of my favorite games of all time, The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, is one of my favorite games of all time because you run around helping people. In its far more popular predecessor, The Ocarina of Time, you watch lives decay as the influence of Ganondorf (the King of Evil) spread, and, of course, it's a given that once Ganondorf is defeated, the land of Hyrule once again becomes a peaceful and prosperous place. But in Majora's Mask, your aid becomes so much more personal. As you go about the country of Termina, you met plenty of hurting "people" in need, jot it down in your Bomber's Notebook, and then come back and help them out in some obscure way, usually involving some sort of sweet mask. Heck, if you need to, you can even turn back time and simply try again!

Why can't helping people be more like that? That's all I want: for people to spill their hearts out to me, to have a notebook that automatically sums up their problems and provides the times that I can help them, and to be able to solve everyone's problems by wearing a mask and dancing around! Is that so much to ask?

It pains me also because I think I do live my life very selfishly, and I'm sure there are plenty of times I've also sped past the problems of friends and family without a second thought.

Well, next summer I'm hoping to try something new. I'd like to travel across the country, helping out everywhere. I need to plan a bit, and save up a lot, but my hope is to wind up in all sorts of places, just helping with whatever, directed both by Volunteer Match and local churches. And God. That's the plan anyway, though it does feel somewhat lofty... Hope I don't leave this one by the side of the road too...

Monday, August 18, 2008

How I Spent My Summer Vacation (Part I of I)

Alas, the blog is dying. I'm OK with that. But thought I'd give you a quick update.


This summer, I worked at Camp Elim for nine weeks. Twice counseling:

And seven times videographing and photographing:


Though I'm not really doing much of anything in this picture...

Videographing/Photographing includes: videographing and photographing various activities, editing videos for the end of the week to show to parents, taking and printing cabin photos and camp photos, uploading photos to the website, putting together a summer wrap-up for the churches that supported us, putting together a summer promo for next year, helping put together a brochure for next summer, eating leftovers, and being bothered in my office.

I really enjoyed the summer, though it was a little draining. I made a lot of new friends, saw a lot of life change in campers and staff alike, and drew closer to God.

Now I'm headed back to school (curses!), at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs (or UniCo@CoSpri for short [or UCCS for even shorter]) (curses!). School starts a week from today (curses!) and I still haven't registered for classes because I'm having trouble with their network (curses!). I'll be living at home and working at... uh... TBD.

In other news, most of my friends are heading out to the farthest reaches, I went swing dancing last night, and am currently on an arduous quest to collect all Sufjan B-Sides. It is impossible.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Yes 40th Anniversary Tour is cancelled.

video

Because Jon Anderson is old. But I still love his voice, his wisecracks and wonderful mannerisms. I just want to see them all in person.

Dang it all. I was really looking forward to that. Oh well. 45th, boys?

Monday, June 9, 2008

Québécois Gold!

So, I'm at Camp Elim now, and will be for most of the summer. I suppose I won't be posting much, but I can't stay away from my beloved blahg.

So I'll just post whatever.

"Dixie," by Harmonium. I love it!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Spaced


(Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, Jessica Hynes, 1999, 2001)

Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, (two of my absolute favorites) priorly teamed up (with many other wonderful comedians) to make a sitcom about life in London at the millennial turn under the influence of American culture. The show begins with Simon Pegg and co-writing co-star Jessica Hynes pretending to be a couple in order to obtain a flat. This isn't a huge part of the show, as only their landlady is duped into believing them. Instead, the rest of the series revolves around the outlandish characters and their outrageous misadventures.

This is the funniest show I have ever seen. The humor is brilliant and the timing is perfect. No cheap shots. No clichés. And what I love about the Pegg/Frost/Wright Entente is that their projects aren't just a lot of stupidity thrown together, but always offer positive, redemptive themes. In this sitcom, I think its generally as simple as all the friends looking out for each other. Spaced is now my favorite television show.

An American remake pilot was recently filmed, but was quickly shot down by Fox! Hip-hip! Hurray! Spaced releases on [Region 1] DVD this summer (July 23). Finally. In the meantime, if you want to check it out... well, if all else fails, YouTube has all fourteen episodes.
5/5 stars

Above: You and I, splitting up, looking for survivors, and getting out of Raccoon City.

Friday, June 6, 2008

"Brave" New [Jim]

Today's a whining post. I'd urge you to skip over this.
So, the daily posting has definitely come to a halt, but I'll try not to let this blog die out. Not just yet. I've been pretty busy trying to catch up with old friends. But as I watch myself interact with others, I can't help but think that something terrible has happened to me. I'm different. But not in the way you would hope someone would be after a year of Bible college. While I try to be more focused on Christ and try to be more considerate of those around me, I just seem to be getting worse. I've become even less articulate, more awkward, more clueless, less confident, more overemotional, and afraid of everything... Where did all of this come from?

Actually, a lot of old friends have made comments about me based on how I used to be that really kinda hurt... I don't know how to respond, but it sounds like I used to be a real piece of work. But it's like I'm only trading out terrible qualities for other terrible qualities. What am I doing? What do I do now?

I have nothing to look forward to! I know this is dramatic, but it's refreshing to at least be honest every now and then. I don't want to go to UCCS. I don't ever want to go to school again. Neither do I want to stay home, 'cause I'll just end up playing video games and watching TV all day. I don't really want to go to Camp Elim, either... I mean, with this emotional and spiritual instability, I especially don't want to be counseling. I really can't seem to find anything I want except a fantasy girl who does not exist and children I'll probably screw up twice as bad as I have myself. Yeah, the dream is still to make video games, but I don't believe in myself at all anymore. And God seems to be silent... or I can't hear Him, or I'm not listening, or something.

Is it really fair to pin all this on Emmaus, or was this character decay inevitable? I feel like, as gay as it may sound, Emmaus has crushed my spirit. I feel like I've been driven insane and reduced to nothing. Though Emmaus is (and always will be) over, I feel haunted. I don't know if it was the shame-based teaching, the impossibly lofty expectations, or the perpetual inability to be myself, but I feel devastated. Like I have nothing left.

I turned the comments off for this post, 'cause I don't want anyone to feel obligated to say something. I'm not looking for pity, and I'm certainly not looking for the default Christian answers. This is just something I had to say.

You can say the word.
Unworthy though I am,
O Bread of Life, O Bread of Life,
I will be healed and come.
Christ, Christ is my hope.
Christ, Christ is my light.
-Karen Peris, The Innocence Mission

(I really don't like to post song lyrics, but you looked like you need that.)

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Movie Review MADNESS

So, on my international flights, I had plenty of time to catch up on my film consumption. Here's what I consumed:

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe
(Andrew Adamson, 2005)

It's been quite awhile since I've read the book, so I really can't remember how well the movie stays true to the original story. But it seemed fairly well done. The kids weren't too bad of actors for their ages. All the baddies had ridiculously lame voices, though... Something felt like it was missing. But I love Aslan, and everything he said made me cry. 'Cause [H]e's(?) Jesus.
3/5 stars

Beetlejuice
(Tim Burton, 1988)
I watched this on the Israeli movie channel, HotFun, because I was too tired to do anything else and nothing else was on. I vaguely recall seeing this movie when I was a kid, but all this movie was is, as they say on the streets, stinky poopy doo-doo. I kinda hate myself for watching all the way until the end.
1/5 stars (pretty much the worst rating I'll give)

the second half of Collateral
(Michael Mann, 2004)
I flipped to this right after Beetlejuice (but on HotAction). It was dumb, boring and cliché. Why don't you shut up and leave us alone, Tom Cruise?
2/5 stars

The Savages
(Tamara Jenkins, 2007)
Wasn't that entertaining, and I didn't really get anything out of it. I didn't dislike it, but I wouldn't watch it again.
2/5 stars (but a higher two stars than Collateral)

The Kite Runner
(Mark Forster, 2007)
Beautiful. Powerful. Heart-warming. Intense. Epic. Brilliant story, cinematography, and acting. (Or at least I assume so. It's always harder to tell when the movie's in another language.)
5/5 stars (pretty much the best rating I'll give)

The Good Night
(Jake Paltrow, 2007)
With Martin Freeman (The [British] Office) and Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) starring, I was hoping for more of a comedy. I liked the story though, but it was kind of an awkward film to watch on a plane while surrounded by Bible college students.
3/5 stars

Um... I think that was it.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Israel I Have Loved, But Emmaus I Hated

Hello dearest friends and family! I've returned from yet another "Conque-temps" with a bit of a burden lifted from my shoulders (EMMAUS IS OVER!!!!!!!!!), and I'm slowly gaining optimism. I still feel as though Emmaus was somewhat of a defeat, but at least I'm able to move on now.

The trip itself, you ask? How polite of you. Well, I have some mixed emotions...

I mean, Israel is an incredible land! After all, some of the most important events in world history take place in that region! But even its history (and future) aside, it has such interesting people and beautiful landscapes! And Jerusalem is amazing! There's so much in the Old City to see, and so many nooks and crannies to explore! During my stay, I kayaked down the Jordon, rode a camel in the desert, scaled down a cliff at Galilee, "spelunked" through a long, narrow, pitch black, waterlogged tunnel under Jerusalem, and much more! The trip itself was incredibly fun!

But... It was still Emmaus. Awkward silences and forced conversations were bountiful. Sometimes I would say something (could be a joke, a question, an observation) and everyone would just go totally silent. It was such an awkward group... And I put up with, no exaggeration, the most annoying person I've ever met. I couldn't explore as much I wanted to, because the buddy system was strictly enforced and I had no-buddy. We rushed from place to place and stared at more piles of rocks than I care to recount. So while we did a lot of fun things, I still felt really lonely. In fact, I think I would have been less lonely if I had actually been alone.

But Emmaus is over and I am free! It's so good to be home and I hope to see all you Coloradan readers soon! I didn't take many still shots, but I got a lot of video footage and will try to compile something soon.


Above: The only decent still shot I took.

Pa

A belated happy birthday to my Dad!


Above: You (as my wonderful Dad)!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Post-Resolution: To Israel

Oh yeah, so, for anyone that didn't know, I'm headed off to Israel tomorrow.

I know I should be excited, but as educational and inspiring as I'm sure it should be, it's also kinda the final stretch of the Emmaus menace. I know— I know I'm a turd for viewing such a great opportunity so darkly. See, I signed up for the trip in September, when I was (believe it or not) a bit more optimistic. I thought I would have made a good deal of friends too. Please don't misunderstand me; I've made some great friends, but unfortunately, none of them are going on this trip. Actually, I'll be with some of the most annoying people I can imagine being with for two and a half weeks. A lot of the kids there are really nice too, but I have just never been able to click with very many of them. I just don't want two and a half more weeks of awkward silences, forced conversations, masks, and... well, loneliness. If any of my faithful blog followers can arrange to accompany me over there, please don't hesitate!

Well, all that aside, my blog will be on a bit of hiatus. I've been careful to post every day since I've started, so this is a monumental occasion! Hopeful getting out of the habit won't bring the blog to end, as it usually does with all my pointless projects. Oh well. New ones are always bound to pop up!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Firefly/Serenity


(Joss Whedon, 2002, 2005)

Firefly is one of the greatest television shows I have ever seen. Originally airing on Fox, it quickly gained a strong cult following. And no wonder. Whedon brilliantly combined past, present, and future; embodying the old west spirit of adventure, a science fiction sense of imagination, and the fact that people of all eras face the very same conflicts. The characters, never flat or uninteresting, are what really hold the series together. It's a wonderful blend of drama, action, romance and humor. I only docked it a star because a few of the episodes didn't really seem to go anywhere.

But true to Fox's nature, the show was canceled after only fourteen episodes. Three of the episodes weren't ever aired. Perhaps it's bettered that it was taken off the air, because the show never got a chance to "jump the shark." But for three years the show's loyal fans were left in suspense. Finally, Serenity was released to wrap up the unanswered questions and bring some resolution to the series. And what a resolution it was! This movie was nothing short of epic! A few details from the show were never explained, but for the most part everything was nicely wrapped up. Serenity stayed true to the Firefly series and there was certainly no skimping on the action. I loved it.
Firefly: 4/5 stars
+ Serenity: 5/5 stars
¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯
Total: 9/5 stars

Above: You and I, defying all odds.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

A Triple Holiday Extravaganza!

A celebratory day today!

First, the obvious: Mother's Day! Happy Mother's Day to my Mom, your mom (notice yours is in lowercase), moms everywhere, and everyone ever born of a woman! (Adam and Eve, you're OUT.) My mother is wonderful!


Above: You, a wonderful mother having a wonderful day!

Next, it's Brother Andrew's birthday! Hip-hip hurray, Brother Andrew!

Above: You (the big one), having a super birthday!

Finally, today is also Pentecost, a day commemorating the church being filled by the Holy Spirit! Happy Pentecost, everybody!


Above: A wondrous site to behold!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

im in ur blahg

Recently it has come to my attention that the type of pictures archived on such sites as LOLCATS and I Can Has Cheezburger are thought to be funny. WRONG. Once again, America, it is up to me to correct your poor taste and lack of common sense. Thank goodness you have me, or who knows what kind of shenanigans you'd be getting into right now!

For those of you unfamiliar with the "lolcat" phenomenon, a lolcat is a picture of a cat with a caption intended to be funny. Sometimes the picture will be Photoshopped and not funny. Sometimes the cat won't be doing anything at all (still unfunny). I suspect that more often than not, the creators somehow agitate, frighten, torture, and generally piss off their cats to get the shots they use.

What is the solution? How do we reverse this fad and return to normalcy and decency? The answer is obvious: Me. We replace all lolcats with Laugh-Out-Loud Jim! Pictures of me, your Uncle Jim, with grammatically correct, poetic captions as opposed to lolspeak nonsense. Compare these two images, and observe the enormous leap in hilarity!


Above: Not funny.


Above: Hysterical!!

Friday, May 9, 2008

No Rest for Jim/Some Rest for Sarah I Hope

Oi. So I'm safe and sound at home now, but there's no rest for the lazy (What?). I've got plenty to do between unpacking everything I've brought back, repacking for Israel, and visiting everyone I've missed so much! It's certainly good to be home, but it really feels like I'm just stopping by for the weekend. Oh well, Israel should be a good experience.

In other news, happy birthday to Sister Sarah! I hope all is well on east side!


Above: You too having a happy birthday!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Rock


(Michael Bay, 1996)

In The Rock, Ed Harris takes 81 tourists hostage on the island of Alcatraz, arms several biochemical missiles and aims them at San Fransisco. Sean Connery is a former prisoner of Alcatraz who had once almost succeeded in escaping. His help is enlisted by the FBI to infiltrate the island. Nicolas Cage, an FBI chemical specialist, for some reason, gets involved at every juncture and inadvertently ends up being the hero.

Meh. What's to say? It was corny, predictable, unbelievable, and cliché. Your standard action flick, but nothing about it was enthralling. The dialog was flat and cheesy. Hans Zimmer delivered yet another score that sounds exactly like his Pirates of the Caribbean theme (literally, once you've heard one Zimmer score, you've heard them all). The actors are fine, but their acting was poor. Actually, this is the only Michael Bay movie I've seen, but I feel thoroughly unimpressed. I'm being a little cruel, I suppose. I didn't hate it. But what was to like?

2/5 stars

Above: Me, being typecast.

"...it's you! You're the rocket man!"

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Seantabulous

Happy birthday, Seantabulous! You get your very own post!


Above: You, having a happy birthday!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Resolution

Today has been pretty dull. A little anticlimactic, actually. On my final day at Emmaus I was expecting a bit more of a bang. Parades, explosions, a heavenly host sounding their trumpets... Something along those lines. Instead, it seems quieter than usual. I think most people are either crashing after staying up late studying or are out celebrating. I'm ending the year as I spent it: in my room. =)

Actually, I'm feeling a little exhausted myself. I've just staggered through yet another school year, but this one was, I believe, the hardest one yet. At times, it took all the energy I had just to get out of bed and drag myself to class. I had no home to retreat to. I endured the longest, coldest, most bitter winter I've ever experienced. Everyday I found myself wanting to drop out. I've lost a lot of battles. I've lost myself.

But I've finished.

Praise God, Who never let go of me! Never was I alone! He also blessed me with all of you! I can't tell you how much your encouragement means to me: the e-mails, the packages, the letters, the random phone calls, text messages, and even just hanging out with me, either at Emmaus or over my breaks! I am overwhelmed at how many good friends I have and what a great family I was born into! Thank you all!

Thank you also to the new and wonderful friends I've made here! You've made this year so much more bearable for me... You have no idea how much I appreciate you! Here are just a few of the friends I've made this year:




Not pictured: You. (Also Connie... Whatever happened to her?)

It's hard to say how much I've really learned this year; but I'm praying it wasn't a waste of time. I have mixed feelings about the future, too... mostly pessimistic... but at least I've survived yet another one of my...

CONQUESTS and CONTRETEMPS!!

I need a haircut...

Monday, May 5, 2008

New Stuff

OK! Refresh your page! Once more! If statistics are any friend to you, you should have seen that my banner is now cycling between random images. Hurrah! This is how I spent my afternoon today, so hopefully it's working for you too. I've noticed that sometimes it won't load fast enough and will just end up displaying an empty box... Let me know if it's causing any other problems...

I'll try to restock it often and filter out the runts of the litter. I feel these first three are not my best work... I think what I hate most about them is that in all three (on three seperate dates), I hadn't showered those days, so my hair is always really gross... (Hmm... Maybe I shouldn't have pointed that out...) Emmaus has really got me down, OK?!

Oh, and special thanks to this guy. I don't know who he is. I just found him on Google.

Also new: Conquests and Contretemps: Abridged is now available on the sidebar!

Stay up-to-date with your dear Uncle Jim in an even more trivial way!

EDIT1: Disregard this post! I'm taking the banner down until I can weed out the empty box of death.

EDIT2: Disregard that last edit! The box of death is dead!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Amazing Grace


(Michael Apted, 2006)

Decent. I liked it, but it could be a little slow and dry at points. Some of the scenes were a bit over the top, but overall it was a well done film. I guess more than anything else, I was really happy to see a "Christian movie" with some effort put into it. The production values were excellent and the Gospel wasn't forced on the audience. It was integral to the story and not exaggerated in any way. The movie, never preachy, was encouraging to me in a lot of the comments on God and faith. For example:

Bill: I know that lying down on the wet grass is not a normal thing to do...
Dick: None of my business, sir.
Bill: ...Truth is... uh... I've been even more strange than usual lately, haven't I?
Dick: ...Uh...
Bill: It's God. I have 10,000 engagements of state today, but I would prefer to spend the day out here getting a wet arse, studying dandelions and marveling at bloody spiders' webs!
Dick: You found God, sir?
Bill: I think He found me... Do you have any idea how inconvenient that is? How idiotic it will sound? I have a political career glittering ahead of me and in my heart I want spiders' webs...
[~~LATER~~]
Tommy: Mr. Wilberforce, we understand you're having problems choosing whether to do the work of God or the work of a political activist.
Hannah-Banana: We humbly suggest that you can do both.

All of that kinda tugged at me just because I'm trying to figure out what I should be doing with my life... Everyone else tells me to strive to be successful, whereas I want to do what God would have me do and I want to find some happiness. But I think Wilberforce, as portrayed in this movie, anyway, is a good example of how God will use the talents and the passions we have (I daresay He's given to us) for His good purposes. How much more so when we submit to His will! Also, I really liked this:

Johnny: Although my memory's fading, I remember two things very clearly: I'm a great sinner and Christ is a great Savior!
3/5 stars

Above: Me, opposing slavery.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Sufi

I want to grow up to be Sufjan Stevens.

Variation On 'Commemorative Transfiguration & Communion At Magruder Park'

What Goes On

The Lakes of Canada


Above: Me, a terrific musician.

When's the next album?

Thursday, May 1, 2008

A High-Ku

by Jim

lightning shatters night
a mighty roar comes after
darkness stands no chance

Interpretive key: God is a SCARY LION!! Be on His side!

You, You, You, You, You

So, I've come to the conclusion that my blog is way too self-indulgent. My arrogance, self-importance, and self-consciousness is bad enough without it overflowing into my posts.

So I've decided to make this blog more about YOU.


Above: You.

Um... So... I think that you're great! And... Thanks for reading! And...

And... Uh... I'm gonna go now...

Any ideas?

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

No Country for Old Men

Also, watch for spoilers. I'm all about the spoilers!


(Joel and Ethan Coen, 2007)

2007's Best Picture Oscar-winner No Country for Old Men was certainly a worthy contender for the title. I was impressed with the storytelling, in that it really didn't have to depend on anything outside of its storytelling. What I mean is that this movie will never become dated because it didn't rely on its setting or any CGI or gimmicks or even unnecessary dialog, but purely on the tale it told. The acting was really terrific; not once did I feel like I was watching a movie. By the way, I don't think I've ever been more frightened by a villain than I was by Anton Chigurh. In general, very out of the box, well done, and thrilling film.

But then I got to the end. Or at least I suspect I did because credits started rolling. There was absolutely no resolution, and I had no idea what the film was trying to say. If I was to take a stab at it, it had something to do with life being a cosmic imbalance of freewill and chance, and that often there's simply nothing we can do against pain and injustice. It's just inevitable. I think a glimmer of hope was hinted at in the closing lines, but without seeing that hope manifested, it's hardly satisfactory. I guess satisfaction wasn't the point.

It's nice to know that, in truth, Good and evil will all unbalance out in the end.

All in all, I enjoyed it and feel glad I watched it. If you consider yourself a film connoisseur, you may want to check it out too. Beware brutal violence and a smidgen of language.

4/5 stars


Above: Me. I kill you.

I've Been Punk'd!!

First off, I woke up with my hair like this this morning:



Of course, as usual, I woke up five minutes before class and was too busy trying to find clean clothes than to worry about my hair. But everyone 'round these parts seems to think I'm just trying to be a punk. No one appreciates cool hair anymore.

In other news, I'm done with all my reading for this year, and in celebration have decided not to read anything ever again.

I guess thta means I wo'ntbe editting my posts anymore.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

3:52

I post to you from 3:52 AM.

I totaled up some stuff. I realized I may still be able to pass that class I thought I was failing if I do stuff. So I stayed up night and did stuff. Then smarter 3AM brain kicked in and realized I did math wrong. The chances are actually still pretty slim, but there's still that narrow li'l chance.

No matter what happens, I just don't ever want to say that I gave up.


Avobe: Me, not give up.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Ironically, This Post Started Out About How Uneasy I Feel About Posting

Bad news, everybody. It's been really windy the past couple days. Windy as in cold. Cold as in unproductive. I plowed through some major reading today, anyhow, but I still feel as if I got nothing accomplished. Eight days now, and I just want it to all be over...

[transition]

So, I'm one week in, and already I'm having doubts about all this blogging business. I mean, this was supposed to be the hilarious, feel-good weblog of the year. But so far I've just used it as a vehicle for whining and forced contemplation. After the Festival of Faith and Writing especially, I really just want to write, but I'm afraid I may be overdoing it a bit. I mean, I could just journal for self, but somehow I just don't feel motivated to do that at all. I'm self-centered enough that I have to be sure to show those around me how interesting my thoughts are and how freaking creative I am.

But am I being too open? Really, who wants to hear how unhappy I am? How lonely I am? But I don't want to pretend like I'm happy either; I think that's an awful way to go through life. The only option that leaves is sitting in a corner, being as quiet as I can, trying to act as if I don't have an opinion at all. Which I have been doing for a long time... It's no wonder I'm so unhappy...

So am I not open enough? (Show of hands, who wants to hear more about my love life?) I hate being open 'cause most people never seem to know how to respond. Sometimes, I suspect they think I'm being fake. But doesn't that just make me paranoid? Maybe they'll just hate me no matter what I tell them. But these are the kinds of things I think, which I really don't want to share. As I've mentioned before, I suspect that I'm going a little insane. Even if not, no doubt I'm over-analytical. It'd be nice to look at someone someday and just be able to think absolutely nothing about them at all.

There are a billion different rabbit trails I could go down right now (probably closer to three), but I'm going to go down this one:

"Can Christians Tell the Truth?" That was the title of one of the sessions I attended at the Festival of Faith and Writing. Lectures were given by Leslie Leyland Fields, Debra Rienstra, and Vinita Hampton Wright (don't worry, I'm sure those names mean as much to you as they did to me). I won't go into what all of them said, but in short, they agreed we have to tell the truth.

Just the day before, I heard a Christian woman on the radio, telling the story of her husband's tragic death. She cheerfully rattled off the gory details of what led up to him writhing on their driveway, tacking on "but God has just been so faithful through it all." (Er... Not bad... It was the way she said it) She then proceeded to push her new cookbook. Now, I'm sure she was masking a lot of pain... but if she insists on telling the tale, why hide the hurt? It's sickening, really. It cheapens Christianity. When you accept Jesus as your personal Savior, you'll never hurt again. Nay! If anything, the pain becomes greater in this life, but we have such great hope! Even Jesus was described as "a man of sorrows," experienced incredible pain throughout his life, and never blissfully ignored it!

It just ticks me off, because this has become such a common attitude! In fact, this is one of my chief complaints about Emmaus. First semester, my pessimism was starting to wear off a bit and I thought I was finally making some friends. So I went to sit next to one of said "friends" at dinner. She asks me how I am, and nonchalantly I respond, "I've been better." Dead serious, and without batting an eye, she scolds, "James, we have Jesus." Actually, this one of the defining moments of my Emmaus experience. At this point, I realized that I had no friends. At this point I realized how deeply I hate Emmaus. (FYI - I did make some really good friends later in the year; no worries.)

Why do Christians insist it has to be this way? Why do we think we have to pretty up salvation and sell it? We're sinners bound for an unyielding lake of fire and Yahweh loves us so much that He came and took our place. I'm pretty sure that can stand on its own. In fact, when we pretend that there's no pain, it makes us seem inhuman. It's detrimental to our testimonies. People can sense such a huge gaping crater of a lie from a mile away and will just end up running in the opposite direction.

So, yeah, Christians have to tell the truth. And I'll keep striving to get better at honest communication. So you'll read my crappy emo posts whether you like it or not! (You could also stop reading.)

Oh, crap... This turned out much heavier than I wanted it to be... Ahhh! Quick! Post something funny!


Above: Me, funny.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

ATTENTION

I'm self-conscious.

Return to your homes.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Sunshine

As part of my philanthropic blogging services, I'd like to share a bit more of what I've been watching, listening to, playing, and reading (someday I will read a book!). And, of course, no post would be complete without my over-analytical comments. Tonight's film:

(Danny Boyle, 2007)

Actually, I don't remember hearing hardly anything about Sunshine as it was coming out, and no one (that I knew) seemed to be paying particular attention to it. If it wasn't for my love of 28 Days Later (same director, same writer, same star, even same composer) it probably would have completely passed me by. But I'm pretty glad I caught this one.

Robert "Jim" Capa (Cillian "Jim" Murphy) and a team of seven other astronauts are responsible for restoring our dying sun after the first team has inexplicably failed and disappeared. They are mankind's last hope (which you know I'm a sucker for), but of course, as with any space thriller, problems continually arise and their mission becomes harder and harder to carry out.

Frankly, there's nothing that thought-provoking here; it was just a fun movie. The effects were excellent, by the way. Still... there's something valuable to me in this movie, and I think it's the same thing I found in 28 Days Later. In Days, the main character Jim isn't anyone special or important, but he really mans up throughout the movie and by the end is taking down everyone he has to in order to protect the two girls entrusted into his care. In Sunshine, the crew has to overcome a lot of strife, misfortune, and even their own accumulating insanity. It was so thrilling to watch how hard Capa drove himself to carry out what he had to do. For me, these movies fit perfectly into John Eldridge's theory of the three desires of every male heart: adventure, battle, and a beauty to rescue. So seeing them played out before me in such a well done film certainly gets me excited.

All in all, you wouldn't be missing out on anything huge if you skipped it, but it's worth watching if you want to be entertained.

4/5 stars


Above: Me as Cillian Murphy as Jim as Robert Capa

Thursday, April 24, 2008

More Math, More Disappointment

The results are IN!!

Your first year at Emmaus, you are given two tests at the beginning of the year. One is a test of your Bible "knowledge." Was Ahab a wicked king or a good king? What region was the Euphrates river located in? Stuff like that. The other is really more of a survey... Its questions assess your prayer life, your fellowship, your ministry, etcetera. Then they give you the same two tests at the end of the year, so you can compare how much you've grown.

In Bible trivia, I got a higher score by 24%. That's pretty good, I think.

But, on the spiritual growth survey, my categories dropped, on average, by 11.5%. The most dramatic drop was 25%. Yeesh! Now, others who saw their scores drop said they think they overrated themselves on the first test, but... I don't know... I tried to be very fair and unbiased taking the assessment both times. And even if that was the case, what does that mean? That Emmaus has made us all a little humbler? Or did it just make us all feel a little guiltier?

I'm sorry; I don't mean to whine so much, but I do feel overexorted. And I'm disappointed that I myself have let my spiritual life sink like that, and I hope it won't slip much further. Mind you, I was coming off the Elim mountain-top experience when I took the first test. But at this point in the year, I'm just... tired.

It just seems to me that the Bible trivia test was just kinda silly... I mean, I guess it would be impressive to meet someone who knows all those minute details, but I don't think an unbeliever is ever going to corner me and demand to know who Crispus was (a believer mentioned twice in the New Testament, not to be confused with Crispus Attucks). I would have much rather gotten a healthy increase in my spiritual maturity and I think when you're well established in your Bible devotions, the "trivia" will follow.

Again, I'm sorry for complaining (I guess not that sorry since I ended up posting this).

I'm reaping what I have sown. Remind me to sow a bit more next time.

...maybe it's just because I didn't get to see the sun once today...

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Math

I'm beginning to notice a direct correlation between two of my least favorite things: homework and despair. I smell conspiracy.

After a great weekend with my Mom at the Festival of Faith and Writing, I came back to beautiful spring weather and began to feel a lot of anxiety wear off. For two days, I actually felt pretty happy. But the second I decided to do homework, my happiness was shattered. In mathematical terms:



video
Above: Me, doing homework.

This is most unfortunate. However, I have discovered that doing homework outside in the beautiful weather makes it much more bearable! By some mathematical miracle:


Incredible!

Actually, it would seem my grades are looking pretty grim. I may not get this certificate after all... But as I've thought about it... So what? I really didn't come for a certificate, and I can't see it ever being of any use to me. I came here because I thought a Bible school would magically make me into a better a Christian. Closer to Jesus, better grounded in the Word, well-equipped to lead and to serve. That certainly hasn't happened magically, but I do think I've grown. In fact, the class I have the worst grade in, I've gotten the most out of. Funny how that works.

Nevertheless,

Certificate or no certificate, I'm not done yet. I will (as Christians so zealously overuse)

"PRESS ON."

...ack... it's supposed to rain tomorrow...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I Am Art/ I Am Artist

Art has been on my mind for the past couple of weeks. Beauty in the natural world has always stood out to me. For a while there, I think I lost sight of it, but now that spring is back and the year is coming to a close, a bit of perspective's coming back to me.

It's embarrassing to try to put what I've been thinking into words, but it's like I have this heightened sensitivity to beauty around me. In the weirdest sense. For instance, last night I could see something special in the night sky, just above the city lights and just below where the stars came into view. It was as if there was something waiting for me beyond the horizon. Or take the feeling of a cool breeze on a warm spring day. It makes me feel as if someone's calling to me from far away. So I think I'm probably going a little insane. Blame it on Emmaus.


Above: Me, as art.

But lo! Last night I was relating all this to my dear friend Connie (with less insanity, I hope), and even this morning she pointed out these words to me:

"The heavens declare the glory of God, and the expanse proclaims His handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard."

The more I think about it, the less insane it seems that the night sky and the winds of spring might be talking to me. God has created beauty all around us, and beauty speaks.

Only a few years back, I was asking the question "what is art?" Yet now I find myself asking, "What isn't art?" It seems like everything God has made has something to say. What's more, He imparted even to us the ability to create, and it seems to me that everything we create has something to say, even if it exists for practical purposes.

Even what we create seems to glorify God in that it cannot be built outside what He has created. For instance, we cannot build a skyscraper apart from physics. Music is another good example. God created the notes and let's us discover the chords. Though we are allowed the creativity, God has already created all the possibilities of sounds to be played.

But the fact remains that we live in a world of corruption. Natural disaster, war, hate, everything gives you cancer. So then it is the artist's job to pull light and beauty out of darkness and despair. In this, he glorifies God.

Even to the unbeliever can the artist give hope, just in reminding him that there is beauty. I speak not only of the Christian artist, but also the secular. Creating beauty, they glorify. Some may even blaspheme in their work, but I think that the fact that they are searching for beauty deserves some merit.

Even Satan, who tries to distract us from the beauty of Yahweh, is being used to bring glory to Yahweh. Even in that contrast is beauty.