Wednesday, November 30, 2005

What Bonnie Said or The Most Profound Relationship Advice I've Ever Heard

This actually took place right around Halloween, and I'm not entirely certain why it came to me last night that I ought to post it here, but it did and I am.

3 of us (Bonnie, Lorri, and I) were doing what late-20s LDS singles are wont to do: talk about why they are single and try to figure out what they or members of the opposite gender are doing wrong. Anyway, at some point, Bonnie said this:

"Its not about finding the perfect person, its about finding the perfect relationship."

I'll let that sink in for a minute.




Ready to discuss? Ok.

First of all, for me it hearkens back to a scene in Good Will Hunting (one of my all-time favs, although you'll want to get it editted or have built up an immunity to the F-word before watching it) where Will (Matt Damon) is telling Sean (Robin Williams) about this girl that he met and went out with. Sean asks if he's going to ask her out again and Will says "I don't know. Right now she's perfect. What if I get to know her better and it turns out that she's not perfect. I don't want to mess up what I've got right now."

Sean says, "I'm going to ruin the surprise for you. She's not perfect. And you're not perfect either. But whats important is: Are you perfect for each other?"

Anyway, Bonnie's comment really made me think a lot. I really think that she is right. Because obviously nobody is perfect. And its easy to stand on the dating sidelines, figurative-speaking, and just pick out things about everyone that aren't perfect, and then justify to yourself that reason you aren't dating is because no one is "good enough" for you, that you'd be "settling" to stoop so low, etc. When really what we should be looking for is the perfect relationship, rather than the perfect person. And you really can't even get a glimpse of what your relationship with anyone would be from the sidelines. In order to even get a hint of what a relationship with someone would be like you have to put yourself in a situation where you can see that. Most commonly, known as a date.

Or at least I feel like by going on a date with someone, I am at least opening myself up to the idea that I could potentially have a relationship with that person, and also on a date (especially a good old fashioned one-on-one date) you get a chance to see how you interact with someone. And you practically have to go on multiple dates with someone to really get a good idea of what a relationship with that person would be like, whether it something that would be perfect for you, or not.

But by not dating someone who we don't immediately have the hots for, we limit ourselves in finding out what kind of relationship we might have with another person. Since then I've tried to date more, maybe not tons more due to numerous factors (busy load of coursework, situation-specific shyness that kicks in at high gear when it comes to asking someone on a date, etc.), but I've definitely opened myself up to the idea that maybe if I take someone out a couple times I might see something there that wasn't there before (little Beauty and the Beast homage).

Now this isn't to say that I've thrown all criteria for choosing who I date out the door. I still want to feel at least that I could be attracted to the person, and I still have an aversion to girls who really don't have much to say that isn't punctuated with giggles, but hopefully I can be a little less picky about smaller issues because in the end, its not the perfect person I'm looking for, but the perfect relationship.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Old Wonka or New Wonka? Need we even ask?

Apparently so. My little sister has taken it upon herself to be the standard bearer for the new Johnny Depp-starring, Tim Burton-directed version of the Roald Dahl classic "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." Meanwhile, my older brother and I am firmly in the pro-original Gene Wilder-starring film camp. The original film was actually titled "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" despite the name of the book being "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory."

And this is the beginnings of the argument for the pro-Depp folks. They try to claim that its a better film because its "supposedly closer to the book". I include "supposedly" in quotation marks, because the vast majority of these people have never actually even read the book. I have. And I will concede that the original film contained several plot elements that were not from the book. For example, the whole Slugworth offering each of the children a small fortune in exchange for an Everlasting Gobstopper, the fizzy-lifting drinks scene, the geese that lay golden eggs rather than the squirrels, and of course the bizarre boat scene. BUT, while these elements were in the original film but not in the new "truer to the book" version, the new version does its own share of adding plot. The bizarre puppet Small World rip-off as the children arrive at the factory, the fact that Willy Wonka does seem to even like children, and most notably the entire plotline involving his father, Wilbur Wonka, that leads to his not originally allowing Charlie to bring his family with him to the factory, once he has been selected as the grand prize winner.

Depp Wonka

It would seem that the original book did not have enough of a conflict to get a good movie climax out of. The first film's climax comes as Charlie proves that he isn't it for the money by returning the Everlasting Gobstopper, even in the face of Wonka's tirade about Fizzy Lifting Drinks. The new film tries to make a climax out of Charlie helping Willy confront his father and finding out that actually he really does love him and that family are swell. Neither plot is from the book, and I have to give the edge here to the first film.

The next point the pro-Depp camp will make is that Johnny Depp makes a much better eccentric Willy Wonka. Who cares? Where does it say that Willy Wonka has to be a weird-o? The fact that Depp was so weird and uninterested in the children, Charlie included, made it hard for me to connect with him, and to be honest I could not hardly fathom why Charlie would even want to live with him. In fact, Depp's creepy-wierd portrayal of Wonka has led some to believe that he was modeling Wonka after accused child molester Michael Jackson. How can anyone possibly pick him over the wacky, but well-meaning Wonka portrayed by Wilder?

Lets compare the Oompa Loompas, while we are at it. The new film's Loompa's actually sing songs whose words were written by Dahl himself. The original book actually contained poems/songs when each of the children were carted off that spanned several pages. And I have to admit that the new Oompa Loompas (all played by Deep Roy) are certainly entertaining, especially the first time they dance for Augustus Gloop. But the original Loompas while not singing Dahl's original poems (the new ones only sing parts of the epic poems) are cultural icons. How many of us have seen people go to Halloween as these old school Oompa Loompas? I'm willing to bet that no one will ever go to a Halloween party dressed as one of the new Oompa Loompas.

Which leads me to my next point. If the new film were the first version of the book that had been made, there never would have been a remake. No one would even remember that the film existed. It is easily forgettable and seems as much a vehicle for Burton's and Depp's egos as an homage to the classic story. The original film is made timeless by the wonderful performance by Gene Wilder and the great Oscar-nominated soundtrack including such classics as "The Candy Man Can", "I've Got a Golden Ticket", and "Pure Imagination".

Wilder Wonka

The only point I can concede to the new film is that it gets us to the chocolate factory much quicker than the original film. As a child watching the original film, the whole waiting to get into the factory part was excruciatingly long. And certainly today's generation of attention-starved kids would have left the theater in search of the latest Sponge Bob offering far before Charlie had actually found his own Golden Ticket. That said, now that I am older there are actually a large number of humorous scenes thrown in for adults in this pre-factory portion of the film. My personal favorite is the man with the computer that he has programmed to tell him where the remaining Golden Tickets are located. The computer refuses because, "What would a computer do with a lifetime supply of chocolate?". The angry programmer then suggests that he will tell the computer EXACTLY what it could do with a lifetime supply of chocolate. Great stuff.

Anyway, my older brother has purchased the DVD of the original film and is bringing it with him from Omaha this Christmas break so that we can have a true showdown of the films. He says that the comments from the now grown, but still very German Augustus are not to be missed.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


Last night at Institute our after class treat (funny how once you make it into the 25-30 year old class they start treating you like kindergarteners, not that I'm complaining) were some Famous Amos chocolate chip cookies. And I mentioned to Julene that they reminded me of the old "Chocolatey Chip Cookies" that McDonalds used to sell along side their McDonaldland Cookies. Obviously they weren't as popular as the McDonaldland Cookies, I mean who could expect to compete with animal crackers in the shapes of our favorite McDonalds characters, but once I was older and started working there, it became clear right away that they clearly were the superior cookie. Basically they looked like Cookie Crisp cereal, which I've never eaten due to my mother's insistence that a bowl full of cookies couldn't possibly count as breakfast. She felt the same way about Chocolate Pop-Tarts, which of course led to me buying them my first summer away from home.

Back to McDonalds, though. The topic got us talking about how McDonalds used to have a whole cast of kid-friendly characters (more on this later) and how now you almost never even see Ronald. I mean who doesn't remember the Ronald McDonald Christmas time ice skating commerical where he picks up the girl who can't skate and they have a great time. Thats says Christmas to me almost as much as watching Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer. Now the best McDonalds can muster is a campaign telling me how much they are "lovin' it". Apparently kids no longer get to choose the restaurant or else today's kids just aren't swayed by cartoony characters with ties to menu items.

Just for fun, I decided to see if I could find some pictures of the McDonalds cast of characters. Here's what I was able to dig up:


ronald mcdonald

Birdie the Early Bird:

mcdonalds birdie

mcdonalds grimace

*Note: As I was searching for images I found out that Grimace apparently was supposed to somehow represent McDonalds shakes. Like maybe he is made of shake mix? Not sure.


hamburglar mcdonalds

Mayor McCheese:

mcdonalds mayor mccheese

The Fry Guys aka The Fry Kids:

mcdonalds fry guys

The McNuggets Buddies:

mcdonalds mcnuggets

Big Mac:

mcdonalds big mac

*Note: Does anyone remember the playground equipment that included a gigantic Bic Mac head where you could climb up and look out. There were holes in the top of the hat, and also you could crawl around inside the Big Mac part. It had a bunch of bars where you could look out? I think we always called it Mayor McCheese but its clear to me now that it was actually Big Mac, judging from his hat.

Another obscure character that seems vaguely familiar to me was this pirate, Captain Crook:

mcdonalds captain crook

And if that wasn't enough, here's a nice group shot:

mcdonalds characters

Looking at this group shot I'm realizing that some playgrounds actually had that tree you could climb on. The tree was also featured prominently in the McDonaldland cookies. Must have been some kind of talking tree. Also on the far left there's a guy in white looking kind of like Moses. Some of the sites spoke of a character called "The Professor" who I know nothing about. I'm guessing thats him.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Random Thoughts on the English Language #5

Many times someone trying to make a point will say something like "let me reiterate...". How come you never hear some say "let me iterate"? I mean besides a computer programmer. But seriously, can you re-iterate without first having iterated?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

A stroll down Halloween nostalgia lane

Last night I went over to a friend's house for some chili and cornbread and some Halloween movies. Little did I suspect that the Halloween movies would be a couple of videotaped programs from the early 80s. First we watched "Witches Night Out", which I have always remembered, but never had any idea what the name was. Basically a witch is feeling washed up until on Halloween she changes some kids into "real monsters" not just lame costumes. Basically they become a real werewolf, ghost, and Frankenstein's monster and scare some people in town until the witch teaches them that Halloween is a day when we can all be something different just for one day. Then everyone gets transformed and has a great time. This used to be on every year. The animation is pretty low budget, but I always thought it was great and is has a great theme song ("Halloween! -- A witch with magic, Halloween!")

Then we watched "Disney's Halloween Treat", which was some kind of Halloween special including clips from lots of Disney cartoons and movies. Why is it impossible to see any of these great Disney cartoons on TV any more? Not even the Disney channel shows Disney cartoons. What a travesty. Sadly I had to leave before we got to the end which included the "Legend of Sleepy Hollow" cartoon, a great Halloween classic.

But perhaps even the best thing about the whole tape was the commercials. The tape was made in 1984 and had some real gems, including a commerical for a potty-training baby doll ("Bye Bye Diapers"), a commerical for the Castle Greyskull He-Man set, and an Activision commercial for Atari games featuring a young Phil Hartman getting super excited to play some video hockey.