Thursday, December 15, 2011

Random Thoughts: Today's Evaluation, and Old Habits Still Intact, and Worthy Reminders

As I may have mentioned (or, at least, implied) in my recent post, I still struggle with certain habits and issues, like internet-surfing. I didn't get home until about 10:30 tonight. For a while, I spent time working on a special project, which I stopped at about 11:50pm. I then went on sites like Yahoo! Movies and Plugged In for film reviews, and also to see if the new trailer for "The Dark Knight Rises" was out yet. (Not until tomorrow, with "Sherlock Holmes 2," I guess.) Anyway, I ended up surfing Rotten Tomatoes and other links for the last hour. I watched two videos, one on the topic of "The Spielberg Face" (really interesting), and the other a seven-minute montage of clips from this year's movies. I have to remind myself to be discerning when I end up viewing or examining "entertainment" or "art" or so forth.

On the downside (in a way), I'll only get about six hours of sleep, as I have to be up for my resume meeting on campus at 9 am. I'll be meeting with somebody to talk about suggestions for improving my resumes and how I can feel less stressed about job-searching and progressing. I also have an application for Minnesota Reading Corps I need to finish up, as early registration may be a good sign of getting accepted.

That being said, I need to remember not to limit myself, yet also not to overwhelm myself. It's a hard balance. But is it worth it? Well, why not?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Random Thoughts: Struggles, the Importance of Reminders, and Current Movie News

Whenever I get excited after seeing a particular movie in theaters or on DVD, I generally don't have a desire to go to sleep right away. This can be a problem sometimes, as it can affect sleep and work (depending on the situation). Although it's not a problem to be passionate about something you love or love doing (like the way I am with movies), it's when you put it above everything and everyone else that it becomes so.

I've said this notion to others and to myself many times this fall, but it's something I need to remind myself of. I feel amnesiac about this and other things at time, which is why I (and many, if not all of us, for that matter) need to remind myself, whether through written words, through speech, or through general memory.

***
I still have a habit of surfing the internet, yet never giving myself time (let alone, putting myself in the mood) to write down what I'm looking at. Mind you, I still try to be very discerning about what I look at and read online.

To sum up from the last couple of days, I've looked at the latest info, reviews and/or trailers on the movies "The Dark Knight Rises" (can't wait for the new trailer this weekend!), "The Adventures of Tintin," "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows," "Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol," "Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," "The Descendants," and "The Artist" (which I can't wait to see," among others.

More info coming soon.

Still here,
B.E.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Random Thoughts: The Value of Education

I used to be an average student who didn't take his studies too seriously. When I went to high school, things changed. I shifted my perseptive and started to take my classes and my studies seriously.

If I hadn't studied hard and gotten good grades in High School, I would not be where I am today. I once had a teacher who used to say, "Study hard, learn lots."

Education is valuable. It will take you places you never thought you could go. In general, you never know where hard work and persistence/perseverance will take you. But that's the beauty of it. Value education. Value learning. Value growing.

In addition, whether or not you like the subjects you're studying (I'm speaking primarily to college students), you can still learn from them regardless, as you learn from everything else in life.

(initially written 10/05/2011)

Testimony updates: Where am I physically, emotionally, and spiritually?

For me, I'm doing alright physically. I'm doing the best I can to eat healthy and not eat so much junk food (even though I work at McDonald's and still have some sweats every now and then). I quit drinking soda early this year (one less thing), and am, again, challenging myself with limiting and (maybe soon) avoiding fast food. Emotionally, I still have my hardships and challenges. A few weeks ago, I got in a situation one night that brought me back to the things I stuggled with a few years ago, and I realized I need to really work at shielding myself from these "parasites" (as they say in the movie "Fireproof"). My mom and family have been helping me in this process. I'm still working at it and praying about it. Which brings me to my next and last point. Spiritually, I've been praying about surrendering control and letting God's control take over. (Galatians 6:7-8 is a great example.)

In the words of Forrest Gump, "That's all I have to say about that." For now.

(Originally written 11/02/2011)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Fasting on Fast Food

You know, it's weird (and interesting) how a certain urge or something similar can affect you. This past week, I have challenged myself to avoid food and drink from McDonald's. It's been especially hard since I work there, being surrounded by food, condiments, and scents throughout my assigned shifts. Fortunately, I managed to survive this week. (A lone exception, even though it wasn't McDonald's, was a small Butterfinger Concrete Mixer from Culver's.)

What helped me was taking along one or two sandwiches (peanut butter and jelly!) and a quart of water (I count the water at McD's as a product of theirs), as well as cranola bars from Piggly Wiggly (on sale for 22 cents each this week!).

Another thing that's helped me was righting on my wrists the words I AM SECOND -- "I AM" on my left wrist, and sure enough, "SECOND" on the right. I've been considering having this tattooed on my wrists, as a reminder of this point in my life and how I'm challenging myself in maturing and growing. But I can't get ahead of myself too much.

Also, as my mother told me a couple nights ago, I need to eat everyday. I may fast from something, but I can't fast from everything -- not to say that I am fasting from eating. I do still eat. In addition, as I believe it's fine to have fast food on occasion, it should not be a consistent diet for people a la Super Size Me. On the other hand, I feel even more challenged to keep working at avoiding fast food--McDonald's, at least. Again, can't get ahead of myself. Taking it a day at a time is very helpful and motivating.

More on status updates and news later,
B.E.

Quotes to go by:
"This much I know: If you are what you eat, then I only want to eat the good stuff." ~Remy ("Ratatouille")

Friday, September 30, 2011

"Dare You To Move"

This morning started off well for me. Every so often, there are days, let alone moments, that sneak up on you and give you a satisfaction and a wholesomeness that just boost your confidence and give you optimism and hope for a new day. The weather was beautiful today. Still a bit chilly and a tad cloudy, but beautiful. The clouds and sunlight today were just transluscent. I decided to take my bike down to work. I also decided to text my mother, father, sister and brother, with a simple "Good morning," "love you," and "miss you." My brother called me back and we talked for a while, which was nice.

Despite my lazy habits, I need to remember to consider my family as much as and even more than the work that I do. After all, they are part of the accountability and support that have brought me to where I am today, so they deserve more than they get.

Anyway, while I started working, Switchfoot's song, "Dare You to Move" was playing on the radio. I thought to myself, "What a perfect time for such a song. And what a great song for anybody." I'll let the lyrics in the following video speak for themselves, and for anybody who needs encouragement today.


Sincerely yours,
B.E.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Random thoughts (9/21/2011)

While I was working today, I saw a bumper-sticker on the back of a car that anonymously said,

"It's clear that our technology has surpassed our humanity."

I instantly saw that as something of a throwback to simple things in life, as well as to a form of nostalgia. Indeed, with all the technological advances, tools and "toys" we have in our culture today, we have, in many, many ways, relied on technology to do things for us. (I doubt, though, we will become giant blobs like those in WALL*E.) In addition, while technology has given us whole new ways of interacting with others, it has also created distances and lines between us. In other words, we've become so technology-oriented that simple things like a conversation or a meal don't go without texting or messaging and so forth. I read a magazine a couple years ago where Clint Eastwood briefly commented on the notion and issues of communication in society and culture. He said something like, "Whatever happened to just two people talking to each other? Can't they just put the cell phones away or something?"

I don't consider myself a very technological person. Granted, I use the internet. I watch videos on You Tube. I text. And I use my phone. But I don't have everything on my phone, like ringtones or features that cost extra money. And I'm much rather prefer that. I like simple things. Furthermore, I like things that were once the real deal, like VCRs, typewriters, cameras with removable film, and so forth. I'm going a little off-topic here, but let's consider not bombarding ourselves with the latest gadgets or devices or products. Instead, let's practice being content, as well as valuing conversations with other people. On this same note, let's remember to value other things and other people, regardless of certain things.

I came across a quote this evening, while surfing online, about British singer Adele, and about her success this year, critically and commercially. Foo Fighters' lead singer Dave Grohl said in a September 13 issue of USA Today last week,

"People are blown away that Adele is selling so many records. I'm not. That record is great! She's got a beautiful voice, and people are shocked when they hear actual talent. Music should be more than ad placement, more than synthesized looping of a voice that's been Auto-Tuned and an image made to look like a superhero or supermodel."

I couldn't agree more. I value and respect artists who aren't in the game for success or fame, but rather because they care about their craft and about what they do. I've only listened to (and am familiar with) a few songs by Adele, but I'm aware she does have a great voice and carries an authenticity in her music that's catchy, honest, and raw.
Today's random thoughts are courtesy yours truly,
B.E.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

B.E.'s Update (9/10/11) and Encouragement

I was reminded a few days ago -- and I need to continually be reminded of this -- how easy it is to get lost in the motions and in routine when you don't hold yourself accountable by any means necessary. Since I've been living at my new residence this fall (I moved in almost two weeks ago), I've had many nights where I would stay up watching movies on my computer or doing something else to just pass the time and depend more on that than on moving forward with and carrying with me the things I've been growing and maturing in this past summer. Likewise, I've had no desire to journal immensely, as I had weeks before.

I guess that happens as you go along and you lose momentum in a certain area or phase of your life. That's certainly the case when you start taking classes again at the beginning of the school year every fall. In short, every transition is always difficult to go through, let alone comprehend.

On the other hand, all of us have to sometimes get to a low point in order to get back up again. I am instantly reminded of the TobyMac song, "Get Back Up." In fact, here is a lyric video to that very song.

I hope I can encourage you who are reading this to not back down right away, but to be patient, to keep working with where you're at and what you have, and to not worry about how things are going to go. Also, don't expect to be perfect everyday, but rather to be the best you can be and more. And don't forget to laugh, to smile, to enjoy, to embrace a challenge (rather than taking the easy way), to be humble, and to love.

In light of this, let us remember and honor the events of 9/11 ten years ago. Remember and honor the families, the soldiers, the policemen, firemen, and all those who lost their lives on this tragic day. Remember and honor.

Sincerely yours,
B.E.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Side Effects of Inactiveness or, "Ah, the Pitiness of Being Overwhelmed"

I have to remind myself at times that things in the world and focusing on the world itself (and the like) does not bring fulfillment. I started journaling immensely about two weeks ago. The last couple of days, however, I've been resorting to my lazy-self. In other words, I've allowed inactiveness to take over my control, and have even been snearing at the idea of journaling what I'm feeling.

I am also reminded that although there is so much I can do, in terms of writing, working, and talking to others, I can't do everything at once. (Not to put a limit on the latter, which is important.) But hey, we've all been there.

I'm at a loss for words now, as I'm trying to decide what I want to do at the library here. Like I said, there are so many things I could do, but I can't do everything at once. (Ah, the pitiness of being overwhelmed.)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Significance of Humility

In general, I am a humble person. Some may see that as childish or inactive at times, depending on the situation, but here's the thing: My humility is not an illustration of me in, say, grade school, nor is it an illustration of me as stupid. It is an illustration of my growth and development as a human being - physically, mentally, and spiritually. It doesn't mean that I'm perfect (by no means! If it did, I'd be role playing). Rather, it shows a dependence and a surrender of control to a higher authority. I am gradually learning this more everyday.

Humility and honest are two of the most important qualities in every person's life. Without them, things like favoritism and power can potentially consume us. Here are a few other things to consider:
- "Do not think of yourselves higher than others"
- Remember and understand the essence of ensemble/community and valuing others than yourself. (Hebrews 13:3 is a great biblical example)
- Living like you have the attitude of a student can be benefitial - that is, living as someone who is still learning, including what it means to be mature

Still here (humbly and honestly),
B.E.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Random Thoughts: Update 8/04/2011

I'm still overwhelmed by so many things, some of which include not having a job, not having a car, and feeling like I haven't really gotten anywhere the last several weeks. In addition, I've been overwhelmed by the thought of so many things I could do: I could write, I could act, I could volunteer for non-profit organizations, etc.. This is how I was feeling this past weekend. I've been doing better the last few days, though. I made a list yesterday of suggestions for what to do, in terms of where I'm currently at and what I feel led to do.

As I've mentioned to most of you or as most of you probably know, I've been focusing on writing and have continued developing ideas for books, screenplays (one of which I'm presently working on), and other articles and concepts. I also plan to update numerous movie reviews--rather, write reviews based on notes I've taken the last couple of years. (I know, it's a lot.)

I still have the thought of doing acting as a secondary thing, even though that's what I majored in. I actually will be performing in a one act next month, which will be a 9/11 memorial.

In terms of doing voice work, I've been debating whether I want to look for agents or buy tapes and/or CDs on how to do voice work. I think what I'm going to do for the time being is just make a tape with all the voices and impressions I can do, and save it for future reference.

Lastly, I'm mildly considering reading in libraries, since I still admire certain kids books and like working with kids. Either that, or I can volunteer and/or sign up for opportunities with AmeriCorps.

My prayer in all of this is for diligence, pressing on, and surrendering control. More info coming soon from yours truly.

B.E.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Random Thoughts: Intellect and Thought

I'll confess, I tend to read and listen more than I write. With the Internet and film viewing as primary examples in my own life, I tend to tune into all that's being mentioned, discussed, or delived, but I don't give as much time in actually writing it down and recapping on it. Not to say that I do this all the time; it's just a habit I've had lately.

I guess writing these thoughts out is good practice, as I have been surfing the Internet the last half-hour to and hour, mainly catching up on news of this weekend's movies (the last Harry Potter, and Winnie the Pooh) on Rotten Tomatoes, Yahoo! Movies, and IMDb.

On the other hand, being the film guy that I am, I can't help it. What I should help, though, is how I control that time, how much I spend on it, etc.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Overwhelmed in Need of Fulfillment

A few days ago, I made a huge list on my phone, of movies from Family Video that I'd like to see. I've had a tendancy to do this in the past, as I get really excited and enthusiastic about movies and about what I'd like to see. Looking back (as I've done in the past as well), I remember how extremely overwhelming I can get when thinking about so many films at once--and I MEAN so many. I also have to remind myself that I won't be able to (and can't, for various reasons) see every movie there is.

So I decided to delete the lists I made on my phone.

There are connections between this and the book of Mark, chapter eight, verse 36, which says, "What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?" In my recent case, I have to ask myself if I'm giving into films so much that I'm getting lost in them. Here is another case where wisdom and discernment come in. As much as I believe in the influence and enlightenment and entertainment value of films, there needs to continually be a line between reality (the viewer, watching the viewed) and illusion/fantasy (what is being viewed/experienced).

In addition, there needs to be discernment in terms of what brings fulfillment. I, for one, believe that reliance on film alone (or the world, for that matter) does not bring fulfillment.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

B.E.'s Update (July 7, 2011)

So apparently, I haven't been doing avery good job of posting things on here for a while. I've still been in kind of a limbo state the last few days. I'm still watching movies and writing review notes for each; this afternoon, I went through one of my Microsoft Word documents (featuring notes for original movie reviews) and made some minor updates on said documents. I've also been doing some research on movie theaters and a local auditorium in the tri-state area, but not much in the last few days.

I will say, though, that, a couple weeks ago, I made a list of potential projects I've been working on the last few months, such as ideas for books and screenplays. I'm planning to make a list (and to research) potential publishers to get my work out to and through. But for now, I should concentrate on work that I can submit, such as potential film reviews. (I have a LOT of notes and things to go through!) But as a friend of mine has been saying, keep pursuing and getting yourself out there, and don't just focus on one thing.

I have an interview with a video store in town this weekend, so hopefully something will work out there.

More updates coming soon from yours truly,
B.E.

For extra fun, here is a list of recent film trailers I watched moments ago, and brief thoughts on each of them. (Titles in bold are films on my "Want to See" list.)

Zookeeper (opens this weekend): I don't know. Kevin James and talking animals. Looks like the next live-action "Dr. Doolitle," but in the Adam Sandler territory.

Beats, Rhymes, and Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest (opens this weekend in select cities): Documentary on the influencial hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest. We'll see.

Project Nim (opens this weekend in select cities): Documentary on 70s story of a chimp who was part of a groundbreaking science experiment to show communication between man and animal. Looks compelling in its illustration of interspecies communication.

Another Earth (opens July 20 in select cities): Story of the discovery of a replica of planet earth in space looks intriguing, thought-provoking, emotional, and mysterious.

War Horse (opens December 28): One of two Steven Spielberg-directed projects (the other being The Adventures of Tintin) coming out this fall, this one looks wonderful in its WWI setting and nostalgic aspects. Should be an amazing family film a la The Black Stallion or Secretariat.

Brave (opens Summer 2012): Pixar's next animated feature looks amazing already. Just watch the trailer!

Captain America (opens July 22): the last superhero/comic-book movie coming out this summer. Hopefully, it's really good. Can't wait.

Life in a Day (opens July 24 in select cities): Documentary consisting of originally-made You Tube videos, submitted by You Tube users, with simple messages and aspects of life and emotions expressed. Now this is my kind of film. I'm looking forward to it.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Random Thoughts: Reactions to the Recent Joplin, Missouri, Disasters

When I read or hear stories about people who've lost so much, like the recent tornadoes and disasters in Joplin, Missouri, it not only breaks my heart, it also reminds me how spoiled many of us (if not all of us) are, in terms of where our culture and society is regarding consumerism and commercialism and such, as opposed to others who have lost everything. Yet, it can be an enlightening and hopeful illustration of contentment and humility, as well as how we can make a difference in the lives of others and be given an opportunity to be a hope and light for them amidst such a dark event or occurance. Regarding the recent disasters and events in Joplin, Missouri, my heart and prayers go out to the families and residents, and to the memories of those who lost their lives.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

"Listening" to Music: More Than Sounds

Yesterday, as I was downloading pictures onto my Facebook album, I simultaneously went on You Tube and listened to music from the 90s, and eventually the 2000s (thus far). Later in the evening, as I looked back on it, I reminded myself that you need to discern between what is popular and what is right.

During her acceptance speech at the Academy Awards in February 2010, actress Monique (Best Supporting Actress winner for her role in the movie Precious) thanked her husband "for showing me that sometimes, you have to forego doing what's popular in order to do what's right." Indeed, she was right. And indeed, there is a huge difference. Consider, when you listen to music, are you more in tune with what the song is talking about, or are you mesmerized by the "tune" (or style, or sound) of the song that you don't care about what their saying? As I was listening to music from the past decade, I found that many of the popular songs in, say, 2007, we mostly rap or hip-hop (many of which I've never even heard of).

Call me a cynic or a snob, but I'm glad I'm not caught up in the "popular" music scene. I say this not to be against the music scene. I say this to state that I am not one for mere escapist music, in general. (On the other hand, listening to classical music from composers like Bach or Beethoven can be escapist for good reasons.) The type of music that I appreciate and value is the type of music that is honest and speaks truth. I speak not only of contemporary Christian music and such, but of music from films soundtracks (e.g., John Williams, Hans Zimmer, Thomas Newman), rock (Coldplay, All-American Rejects, Beck), and acoustic, to name a few. I'd like to really hear a song that makes you think or that means something to you.

The late Tupac Shakur

Getting back to the hip-hop scene, one artist I will vouch for (although not entirely) is the late Tupac ("2Pac") Shakur. Before his death in 1996, Shakur was known for his honest yet often provocative music on thug life, the streets, and brotherhood, as well as family. (His endearing track "Dear Mama" is a good example of the latter.) One song that I revisited a week or two ago was "Changes," which skillfully crafts issues and themes of the times and of life. In fact, Shakur opens with the line, "I see no changes/Wake up in the morning and I ask myself/Is life worth living/Should I blast myself?" It's a near-harsh line, but also a near-universal one. Are we willing to wake up everyday and face the challenges the world hurls at us? Are we willing to make changes for the common good of our relationships, our jobs, and even the way we live? I applaud 2Pac for bringing to light these questions (depsite a few course words on the track).

In short, I am for music that makes you think, that gives you inspiration or optimism, that gives you encouragement from whatever challenges life throws at you. And it can or doesn't have to include words. Amazing how the heart and soul are impacted.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Still at the surfing . . . Yet . . .

What I mentioned in my last post applies to this current moment--surfing the Internet. Rather, I am surfing You Tube. I essentially spent the last few hours downloading pictures onto my Facebook album. At the same time, I listened to various music from the 90s, and eventually the 2000s (thus far). As I said before, sometimes I can get so caught up in surfing, that I loose sight of everything else and spend more time on one thing than the other (or another). At least I'm very wise about how I'm responding to certain music, thankfully. I'm glad I'm not caught up in the whole "popular" music scene nowadays, yet there are still songs that have a worthwhile quality every now and then, that I can't help but pay attention.

As I do with movies, I don't merely listen to music (well, sometimes, yes), I really listen to it. The same should go for all kinds of media viewing and examining. The next time you watch a movie or listen to a song, think about what kind of impact it has, for better or worse. Remember, the media and culture has more influence than you realize.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Random Thoughts: We Are Students

I just came to the library at the University in Platteville (where I'm currently typing this blog), and, on my way over, had a thought: Even though I've been a college graduate for about five months, I still feel like a student. For one thing, I still use the computers at the campus library from time to time, as well as at the Public Library downtown. I also, from time to time, visit with friends at the student center nearby (almost once a week, in fact). And, I have a bike. Okay, this last reason may not be a big reason for feeling like a student, but since I don't have a car (Yep!), it can count.

On the other hand (as I was thinking on my way over here), I think many of us if not all of us are like students. We meet people everyday and get to know them day by day. We watch movies and TV shows and listen to music; thanks to DVDs and Blu-rays, we have access to behind-the-scenes extras and documentaries on the makings of these types of projects, regarding the people involved and the intended themes involved as well. More importantly, and above all, we are like students in that we continue to learn more and more everyday. This has significant meaning in the different phases we go through in life, whether high school, college, grad school, a new job or career, or a new chapter as a specific type of family member (e.g., a parent, an uncle or aunt, etc.).

In accordance with this idea, I can honestly (and riskingly) say that I'm glad none of us are perfect. Because if we were, what more could there be to learn? What would our relationships be like? Who would we turn to for help or support or guidance? Regarding this latter allusion to the notion of omniscience, I can't help but recall the famous Bob Dylan song, where he sings, "We all gotta serve somebody." (Just a thought.) As I mentioned in my Ars Poetica for a Poetry class last semester, a personal journey is either one of two things: a straight road full of routine and convention, or a series of different roads of exploration and discovery.



Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The process/search goes on . . .

I am reminded how impatient and sometimes boring it can get while you're waiting for something to happen. I've mentioned this to several people over the last few weeks, but sometimes, in my opinion, you can't really take any serious steps until you know for sure how something is going to turn out.

I found out this afternoon that I wasn't accepted a job with a non-profit organization in Minnesota this coming fall. This is not to say that I was frustrated or mad with the organization. I am very thankful to have, at least, had the opportunity to be interviewed by and alongside so many wonderful people who are passionate about what they do.

The person who e-mailed me said that they were impressed with how I was and what I brought forth in the interview earlier last month. They also suggested I look into other AmeriCorps services around the country.

On a slightly different note, I spoke with a friend yesterday who reminded me to keep applying and to keep getting myself out there. (She's still searching for jobs, as a matter of fact.) So, it's nice to know, on one hand, that I'm not alone in this, in addition to where the economy is at (as I've been told by friends and relatives).

Basic reminders: Don't be discouraged.

As a friend once told me, "You didn't come this far to quit." I hope this is encouraging for those of you reading this, and for those who are in a similar situation.

Still here,
B.E.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Glimpse of My Story

There are certain films that come along where you can identify with specific qualities or themes of a character or a situation. Included are those kinds of movies that affect you personally, whether it involves a disability, a death of a family member or relative, or a triumph of the underdog, to name a few. A movie I watched recently was Adam, a film that not many people saw in 2009. It stars Hugh Dancy (Confessions of a Shopoholic, Ella Enchanted) and Rose Byrne (TV's Damages, Knowing) as a twentysomething man with Aspergers Syndrome and a young teacher who moves in next door to him. The story chronicles the growing relationship and struggles between these two completely different characters as well as the lessons they learn from each other along the way. The latter even questions her role in this man's life, uncertain if a relationship will work between them.

Here is a trailer for the film to give you an idea.


Watching the film, I couldn't help recalling personal struggles I had growing up in school. Many of you don't know this, but I, as well, have Asperger's Syndrome. I was diagnosed at age three. Before I go any further, I should mention that Aspergers (for those of you unfamiliar with it) is a form of autism that consists of high-functioning abilities but a lack of communication skills. I used to think I was the dumbest kid in my class, growing up in elementary school. During my sophomore year in high school, I found out about my condition while playing on my family's Quiz Wiz handheld game. I also recall my mother telling me that, when I was younger, she thought that I wouldn't be able to communicate with anybody.

Like I said, I haven't shared this with a lot of people, but to those I have, I had mentioned that it has hardly affected me since I started going to college. And since then, I have learned that it is not (and should not be) the disability, or whatever type of handicap or disadvantage, that defines us. It is the spirit of the person. It is who they were created to be. I have also come to value uniqueness, as well as creativity and honesty, which are very important qualities to live by.

I do have occassional struggles and blame my condition at times, I'll admit. One thing that helps me, though, is remembering where I'm at right now, how far I've come, and the hope I have for tomorrow and the next day and the day after that and so forth. Recently, I graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville with a Bachelor of Arts degree. So that's something to be proud of. In addition, there are other movies that inspire me and give me hope regarding character and purpose. Some of these films include Forrest Gump, which I look at as a story of a mentally challenged man whom no one saw any greatness in, yet goes on to do so many extraordinary things in life. Another is Up, a poignant and bittersweet story about an elderly man who learns about the important things in life, as well as the notion of letting dreams go. And another is Chariots of Fire, a compelling true story about two 1920s Olympic runners with completely different motivations but worthwhile stories.

As you can see, movies are one of my strong suits. As much as they have the power to entertain, they also have the power to enlighten, to inspire, and to show us glimpses of ourselves, of our lives, and of the world. They can even suggest the promise of a greater life and a greater future for us. And I hope that with my story (at least, with what I've written here), I have inspired and enlightened some of you, and have hopefully shown you that there is value and life in every human being, regardless of any disability or disadvantage they may have.

If there's anything else that any of you would lime to know about me that you don't know, don't hesistate to ask.

Still here,
B.E.

The following is a song that was featured in the closing creditis of the movie Adam. I posted it on here because, for one thing, it recalls a status update I posted on Facebook last week regarding said valuing of people. It's called "Somebody Loved" by the Weepies. It has a beautiful and poignant melody. Enjoy.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Standing for Purity, with Tools to Help

PluggedIn online recently re-posted an article on their website about an interview that writer/editor Bob Smithouser had with recording artist Rebecca St. James in November of 2008. The interview focused on the topic of sexual purity in a culture that has become less innocent and more, shall I say, amped up. To put it simply, we are definitely living in a very different culture and society nowadays. Many things, especially in entertainment (movies, TV shows, music) have been amped up - profanity, violence, sexuality -, but not for good reasons. The same goes for magazines one finds in stores. Generally, you can't pass a checkout aisle without seeing a magazine rack with some cover issues containing some or more skin and some or less clothing. (This doesn't apply to every magazine, mind you, but it has become pervasive in many today.)

One of the things I hate about the entertainment industry (being the discerning man I have become in the last several months) is how things have become sexualized. You look at many recording artists in music - people like Britney Spears, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, even Miley Cyrus - and you can't help but think that it's not only apalling regarding their sexual-related choices, it's also sad in many, many ways. One of the things Rebecca St. James talks about in the PluggedIn interview is when parents should begin talking to their children about these types of issues and topics.

I think the age is getting younger and younger because there is so much exposure to sexuality at a young age. It's coming from movies and television and the Internet. It's what the kids are talking about at school. Parents need to focus on getting in before the culture does. I hear stories about children 6 or 7 years old hearing about stuff at school and I wonder, What happened to innocence? (my emphasis)

Again, it's a very different culture and society we live in nowadays.

I mentioned above that I have become a discerning individual. And I am honest about that in large part, regarding the kinds of movies that I watch and the kinds of music I listen to. I will also be honest in saying that I have been hearing music and watching films within the last couple years that have had questionable content. I even ponder at times if someone were to ask me why I put myself in such a situation. Well, for one thing, to test my discernment, and also, to prepare myself to have a conversation with other people about it. My philosophy is that you shouldn't just watch or listen to something for the sake of watching or listening to it. You should really think about it and talk about it. You should discern what makes it good or bad, what makes it worthwhile or not worthwhile, and so forth. (I obviously won't see and can't see every movie there is, so not all movies, or songs or art, apply to this.)

Anyway, what does this have to do with sexual purity, you may ask. Well, a whole lot and more. It says in scripture, as Rebecca references, that we are to "protect our minds and fill them with things that are honoring to God" (read Phillippians 4:8). When I'm faced with a sexual temptation at times (yes, I can still be tempted), I try to think of something pure, something positive, something that reminds me of where I've come so far as a growing individual today.

One thing that helps me is knowing that there are positive, pure, and Godly examples in the entertainment industry who are really making a difference. Some great examples in music include Rebecca St. James, and the band BarlowGirl. So the next time you watch a movie or listen to music, don't just listen to it. Think about how it's affecting you. Above all, guard you heart and mind so that it doesn't corrupt you. And don't ever think to yourself, "It's just a song," or "It's just a movie." These things have more impact than you realize.

The PluggedIn article mentioned above can be found at http://www.pluggedin.com/familyroom/articles/2008/rebeccastjamesinterview.aspx.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Experience, Transition, Progress

Experience has many names. But I guess what it comes down to is that everybody knows only so much. Another way to put it: Everybody knows a lot of some things, but nobody knows everything.

Screenwriter William Goldman is famous for quoting, "In Hollywood, no one knows anything." In other words, he's referring to the fact that there are no perfect filmmakers or celebrities or movies or ways of making movies in Hollywood. Yet, there have been landmarks within the industry throughout the past century in terms of the technology that has developed and become useful. Along the lines of only knowing so much at a given point, this is where I'm at far as my experience with job searching, working, and applying goes.

For those who are in a similar area, remember that this is a process. Don't merely look at it as a series of end points and new beginnings (which isn't entirely a bad thing, mind you), but as a transitional and learning experience. Look at what you can learn from previous experiences, whether they involve family, work, social time, recreational activities, or what have you.

Here are a few transition-related quotes I found on thinkexist.com:

Nothing is secure but life, transition, the energizing spirit.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

We live in a time of transition, an uneasy era which is likely to endure for the rest of this century. During the period we may be tempted to abandon some of the time-honored principles and commitments which have been proven during the difficult times of past generations. We must never yield to this temptation. Our American values are not luxuries, but necessities - not the salt in our bread, but the bread itself.
~ Jimmy Carter

The best performance improvement is the transition from the non-working state to the working state.
~ Unknown

Still here, and progressing,
B.E.

SpongeBob Revisited

Lately, I've been revisiting the fictitious undersea world of Bikini Bottom. For all you animation/cartoon peeps out there, I am, of course, referring to the world of SpongeBob SquarePants. Since its debut in 1999, it has become one of the most popular cartoons on television. It has spawned several DVDs as well as a feature-length movie, numerous toys and products, and an iconic place in popular culture. I consider myself one of those fans. I've always enjoyed the sheer silliness and ridiculousness, as well as the equally silly animation and exaggerations and such in many, many episodes. This is not to say that every episode is worthwhile, but overall it's just a series with those types of characters you can't help but grin at and enjoy yourself along with. Never before (and probably never again) will we ever see such a brilliantly unique blend of silliness, optimism, weirdness, and craziness/zaniness in an animated series.

Coming soon: All-time favorite SpongeBob episodes

Til then,
B.E.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

47 degrees F + Bike riding (or anything active-related) = Great Outdoors

Today's forecast was 47 degrees F in the southwestern part of Wisconsin, so today I decided to take my bike out and ride downtown all the way to Wal-Mart. I know I'm repeating myself when I say, What a perfect day to do so. And what a perfect day to be active outside. I use the word "active" to suggest simple things as walking, running, or in my case, bike-riding.

Words of encouragement I hope I can offer: Have fun, but not too much fun. Don't overwhelm yourself. Make sure you get rest.

(I'm speaking for myself, on one side.)

Sunny with a chance of mild wind,
B.E.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Job Interview Relection

So, last Friday, my interview in St. Paul, Minn., with Admission Possible went really, really well. It was les stressful than I thought it would be, which is always reassuring in such cases. The teaching portion I had to present for five minutes was the one I was probably most nervous about, and it went okay. But I think everybody else had a stronger approach to the material each of them presented. But more importantly, everybody, from the volunteers who interviewed to the other applicants, was just terrific. All in all, it was a great experience, regardless of whatever the outcome will be. I should be hearing back from them by the end of this month. I'll keep you all posted. I'm crossing my fingers and praying, and well as kind of taking risks at the moment, regarding what may happen this summer and this coming fall.

More info coming soon,
B.E.

"You Are Here"

There's a song I've been frequently hearing over the intercom radio at work that has intrigued me. However, I couldn't find the artist or the name of the song online until recently. I googled the song lyrics on my Blackberry yesterday morning and sound a "Song Meanings" link with the song and lyrics on it. The name of the song is "You Are Here" by Sam Bisbee.

What intrigues me about this song is the notion of peoples' existence and presence in the world ("I am here/You are here/We are here/They are here/Everyone is everywhere/No one is nowhere/We're all somewhere/There is no out there/You are here"). The second last line, I'm not sure I fully understand. Anyway, looking at and reading the lyrics, the song is very poetic in how it describes what various people are doing at a given moment, including a flight attendant on a plane, a little girl who sees the same plane and wonders about its size, a female DJ who wonders if anyone is listening to the music she's playing, and so forth. The song (for me, at least) echoes similar elements from Paul Thomas Anderson's movie "Magnolia" and Bob Dylan's classic song "We're All Gonna Serve Somebody."

Check out this song.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Power of Expression

I had an amazing experience almost four years ago when my family and I visited South Dakota one summer. We went to a church one Sunday morning, and there was a deaf girl in the front row, with her interpreter near the alter. I remeber watching the interpreter during the Worship and Praise session of the service, and thinking about the girl.

There's such an amazing spirit and genuine quality about a deaf person that really transcends the human condition and speaks beyond multitudes. I don't recall if this one event solely persuaded me to learn more about deaf people and gain a greater respect for them, but it indeed had a profound impact on me, in terms of a form of communication and emotion that cannot be expressed in words.

I am always inspired by such qualities and emotions in people and in other forms of communication and art, whether it's a moving picture, a song or score, a photograph, a poem or letter, or a simple handshake, a smile, or a hug. One person  who continues to have a profound impact on the film industry through his written reviews is veteran film critic Roger Ebert. After losing his voice to cancer almost three or four years ago, Ebert continues to write film reviews for the Chicago Sun Times, and currently has a new show on PBS titled "Roger Ebert Presents At the Movies." And even though I'm not one for always agreeing with what film critics say, I find Ebert's continued prolific work and ethic to be very inspiring. This is also true of writing, in that the power of the written word can be just as great as the person who speaks (or is unable to speak) it. This is a great reason for which I love writing, and I hope it continues to be so with the work I continue to write, honestly and passionately.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Breakdown of "Most Attractive" Occupations

Yesterday was only the second consecutive day I worked on my resume and tried job searching. (Noticed I said consecutive.) I also started my own account on Monster.com, as a way to get my resume out to potential employers. What needs to be done, as first order of business, is for me to finish my resume (I'll be speaking with a professor about it tomorrow morning), thereby making the job search aspect a little better. (I don't know, to be honest.)

However, the objective part of my resumer isn't really definite. I have only three words listed in my rough draft: writer, newspaper, and website. I know that I want to get a job and/or make a living as a writer; maybe for a newspaper or a website, I don't know.

I recalled my notes from Carol Eikleberry's "The Career Guide for Creative and Unconventional People" about making a list of occupations I find "most attractive" (pp. 67). In the categories of Writer, Director, and Performer, for instance, I marked the following (I think) "most attractive" occupations, as can be found in the back of Eikleberry's text. (I almost feel like Chris Farley's Bennett Brower as I emphasis/quote.)

WRITER: Biographer, Columnist/Commentator, Continuity Writer, Critic, Crossword-Puzzle Maker, Librettist, Playwright, Poet, Reader (story analyst), Screenwriter, and Writer-Prose, Fiction, and Nonfiction.

DIRECTOR: Creative Director, Cue selector, Motion Picture Director, Stage Director, Book Editor, and Dictionary Editor.

PERFORMER: Actor, Announcer, Dancer, Double, Impersonator, Narrator, Singer, and Storyteller.

The following is a current breakdown number of said occupations from the above lists, under the WRITER and PERFORMER categories. DIRECTOR, I'm unsure.

WRITER: Poet, Reader (story analyst), Screenwriter, Writer-Prose, Fiction, and Nonfiction.

PERFORMER: Actor, Narrator, Singer, Storyteller.

The next step is to research these occupations I have narrowed down to.

Until then,
B.E.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Interpretations of Story

A story can be many things.

To a producer
        it's a property that has box-office value.
To a writer
        it's a screenplay.
To a film star
        it's a vehicle.
To a director
        it's an artistic medium.
To a genre critic
        it's a classifiable narrative form.
To a socialogist
        it's an index of public sentiment.
To a psychiatrist
        it's an instinctive exploration of hidden fears or communal ideals.

To a moviegoer
        it can be all of these and more.

~ from Louis Grannatti's "Understanding Movies" text (pp. 372; my line breaks and bold marks)


Process Over Perfection

The following is from David Burns's book, "Feeling Good," as quoted in Carol Eikleberry's book, "The Career Guide for Creative and Unconventional People." As I was reading the latter yesterday, I came upon this excerpt from Burns, and I believe that it adds to the notion of going through life with challenges, with failures, and with mistakes, instead of trying to live a life of perfection. (We hear it all the time, but who is perfect anyway?)

In fact, just think what it would be like if you were perfect. There'd be nothing to learn, no way to improve, and life would be completely void of challenge and the satisfaction that comes from mastering something that takes effort. It would be like going to kindergarden for the rest of your life. You'd know all the answers and win every game. Every project would be a guaranteed success because you would do everything correctly. People's conversations would offer you nothing because you'd already know it all. And most importantly, nobody could love or relate to you. It would be impossible to feel any love for someone who was flawless and knew it.

Perfection? Think of it, rather, as a process. We're only human, after all. Everyone knows a lot, sure. But no one knows everything. On a spiritual note regarding the Christian faith, there is and can potentially be a sense of process and growth in terms of being better people than we once were. The Bible, in addition, can be seen as a source of inspiration and change, signifying a higher authority - and, ultimately, a perfect one.

To anyone who is struggling with perfection or such, I challenge and encourage you to look at where you are now, how far you've come to that point, and to be thankful for what you have accomplished instead of trying to get to an end point and be done with it. Life is not a race to the finish line after all. It is a journey. It can get brutal and rough, but never forget that there is hope, faith and life in it, including those who have your back everyday.

Pressing on,
B.E.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Current topics of interest

I've been researching, watching, and studying animated films (specifically Pixar and Disney, respectfully) for the past few months. About a week ago, however, when I was done working one evening, I was looking at some magazines and came upon one that talked about (according to said magazine) the "100 Greatest Sports Movies." This got me interested in studying the sports film genre next. Some really good, worthwhile sports movies (or, beyond-sports movies, as I like to call them) that come to mind include Rocky (1976), Chariots of Fire (1981), Breaking Away (1979), and so forth. I've also been interested in seeing the movie Hoosiers (1986) again sometime, and have been wanting to see the films Hoop Dreams (1994) and Searching for Bobby Fischer (1993), to name a few.

Another topic interest I developed this past week was researching, watching, and studying comedies, in terms of discussing comedies of the past as opposed to the comedies of today.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

"What To Do" or, "Not Merely Various Endings and Beginnings"

About a year-and-a-half ago, I was speaking to one of my good colleagues at a performance one night. I shared with him how I was struggling with what exactly I wanted to do with my life after I graduated. And he gave me some of the best advice I've ever been given. He said that what was important was where you're going to be and what you're going to do for a certain number of years instead of for the rest of your life. He gave some of his perspective by exemplifying what he was considering for the next, say, five years, teaching in a school.

The same goes for study periods or semester schedules and so forth. The lesson is that focusing on a certain amount of time instead of the rest of the time you have in your life is less overwhelming. Indeed, it can be overwhelming, but it's a step-by-step process.

Think of it this way, to use a commercial I saw last fall, as an example. The slogan for Verizon was, at one time, "It's not back to school. It's forward to what's next." It's amazing how little things and comments in commercials can be encouraging. But, besides the point, having the perspective of a step-by-step process and not a series of end points and beginning points (to define "commencement") can help in terms of where you go in the next area in life. I told myself the same thing when I graduated recently--not as the end of one thing and the start of another, but rather the continuation of a journey, a story, even though it is a new chapter.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Job Searching Update (01/08/2011)

In terms of what I've been doing with job searching this week, I have, on one hand, been spending not as much time with it as writing and researching for reviews, as well as transfering and deleting documents from my username folder through my college account. On the other hand, this transfering and deleting has given me the idea of my own "deeply experienced personal process" (as Carol Eikleberry, Ph.D, describes in her 2007 "The Career Guide for Creative and Unconventional People"), in terms of the types of peices I have written in my five-to-six years as a college student. It has also given me the idea of putting together a portfolio of what I would consider to be my best works throughout that time. (I did the same for an English porfolio that I submitted a few years ago when I was, at that time, an English major.)

My feeling is as I go through and finish with this transfer process and make time to go througb said documents, it will help give me a clearer idea of the type of writing I wish to pursue. Where to do it is still the question.

True creativity does not result from a few quick tips for your job search. It results from a deeply experienced personal process.
~ Carol Eikleberry