Saturday, April 30, 2011

Fatty McFat Part Three

Time for the new photos.  There is some visible difference, but not enough!  I need to work harder next month.

The front view looks pretty much the same as far as my love handles and flabby arms go.  However, my belly hangs over the front of my pants a little less don't you think?

My side view shows more visible change, though, and that makes me happy.  I still have lots of belly fat to get rid of still, but it is much flatter and less curved than it once was.  Oh, and under my chin looks better!

Besides my fat, I really hate my nose in these profile shots...  I need a plastic surgeon.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Chihuahua Comics: Movie Math

Okay, okay... this might be a slight exaggeration.  I mean, who actually gets a paycheck these days?  Hello!  It's called direct deposit!  Get with the program!

Ha ha.

Fine.  So a small popcorn and soda aren't more than my whole paycheck, but combined they do add up to more than my hourly wage.  Hence the sad face.  ={

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Here's What's Been Going on This Month...

So I feel like this month has been a lot of impersonal fluff.  I've talked about Harry Potter and Glee, I've written some movie reviews and interviews with friends, and I've drawn some comics... but I haven't talked much about my personal life here on what is supposed to be my personal blog!  Sometimes I get so caught up with all the new fun features of Joaquin the Chihuahua that I forget to do what I did in the beginning:  write about my life.

You need to be caught up!
  • Brian doesn't exactly love his job, but he doesn't hate it either.  The only thing that's been a bit frustrating is that they keep changing the purpose of his department.  In the beginning it was to do data entry, and now it is changing to a different sort of inbound call.  I don't really understand it all, but I think he's creating new accounts for customers.  Or something like that.  His hours keep changing too.  He used to go in at ten in the morning, yesterday he went in at eleven, and today he went in at noon.  So I never really know what time he'll be getting home.  I guess 8:30 in the evening now, unless it changes again.
  • Through Brian's work we have made some new friends, which is exciting!  It's been kind of lonely with all our other friends living in Salt Lake City miles away from us, so it's really nice to have some people in Orem that we can hang out with.  A couple weeks ago we met up with Lexi, Quintin, Sam and Colby at a really fun cake shop called The Chocolate.  It's an old house that they've converted into a little dessert cafe.  We've since hung out with Lexi and Sam again eating pizza and watching episodes of Archer and the movie Kinky Boots.  Very fun!
  • My job is going really well actually.  On slow days it can be a bit boring, but overall I enjoy working in concessions.  It's very stress-free and that's what I love most!  Well, that and the fact that I get free movies.  That's a plus as well.  Brian and I have seen ten movies since I've been working!
  • I've also met some fun friends at the theater, but as of yet we haven't done anything outside of work.  Tonight I'm supposed to watch The Conspirator with Michelle, Wesley, Michael and Katie so let's hope that happens!
  • Besides the dinner date with Kelsey and Robert, the only other friends from Salt Lake City I've been able to see are Jenna and Wendy.  We ran into Jenna for a split second while she was at work.  She gave us a huge hug while screaming out, "MY BOYS!"  She didn't even know we were back in Utah, that silly girl.  And my friend Wendy drove down to Orem with her two-year-old daughter Alison to take me out to lunch.  We went to California Pizza Kitchen and then roamed around in the University Mall.  I have to say that going to the Disney Store with a toddler is so much more fun than when I go with Brian.  Sure we are big kids at heart, but there is nothing like seeing a little girl's face light up when she sees Tangled and Tinkerbell merchandise!
  • As far as school is concerned, I am slowly progressing to start in July.  Yesterday Brian and I drove up to meet with my financial aid director.  If all of my classes transfer over (which they should) I'll be considered a junior and will qualify for enough free money and loans to not pay anything upfront.  I'll take three classes my first quarter, and then take four from then on.  That's the plan at least so let's hope everything works out!  I still have a $100 enrollment fee I need to pay before I select my class schedule sometime in May or June.
  • Life with the Keslers has been pretty good.  Brian and I are supposed to be staining the wooden patio chairs and swing, but so far we've only managed to sand it.  It's hard to find time when the two of us are home.  There's also been really bad weather here all month, and we don't want to be staining while it's raining or snowing.  We need sunshine!!  Please, Spring, kick Winter out!
  • Brian has set a goal to have his novel completed by the end of the summer.  Have I ever mentioned that Brian is writing a book?  Well, he is.  What he has so far is really good, so I can't wait for him to finish it!  I need to get on him about writing like he has to get on me about exercising...
  • Speaking of exercising, these last few days I haven't been doing so well at my fitness goals.  Easter came and brought with it lots of candy which I couldn't resist.  Even now there are still eggs full of jelly beans everywhere in the house.  I've also been readdressing a music video project that I had set aside a long time ago.  It's for a group called The Beatards and I finished it today!  Yay!  The last three days I've been at the computer tinkering with that project and not exercising like I should be...  so I'm kinda bummed about that.  I hope I can buckle down today and tomorrow so that my photo on Saturday looks skinnier than the last one!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Gleek Critique: "Born This Way" Episode

Rachel takes a spill when Finn elbows her in the nose.  Image property of Fox.
During dance practice Finn's clumsy moves end up breaking Rachel's nose, and while she's at the doctor's office, he suggests that maybe she get a nose job. She worries that it might affect her voice and brings up Barbra Streisand as an example of a great singer with a big Jewish schnoz.  But the doctor convinces her that it might actually improve her voice... and her chances of being famous.  She begins to seriously consider doing it, even though the glee club thinks it's a bad idea (although they all have things they would change about themselves).

Mr. Schuester is shocked that the kids all have such low self-esteem, and challenges them all to find songs that promote a healthy self-image.  He's also hoping the Lady Gaga song "Born This Way" will help them to feel good about themselves.  And while he's trying to help his students, he can't help but notice Ms. Pilsbury needs to tackle her OCD issues.  She thinks it's just who she's supposed to be, but he convinces her to see a therapist anyway, and it looks like we might be seeing some hard changes for Emma.

Meanwhile, Lauren Zizes wants to be prom queen, and Puck wants to help her.  But she's not the only one who wants to take that crown from Quinn; Santana wants it too.  With her keen gaydar, Santana realizes that Dave Karofsky is gay, which leads her to understand more fully why Kurt left.  She figures if she and Karofsky can band together in getting Kurt to come back to McKinely, she'd get the glee club kids to vote for them as prom king and queen.  So they start a club called the Bully Whips to patrol the halls for any signs of bullying.  She even has Karofsky apologize for what he did to Kurt.  Kurt finds out the true motives, but still agrees to come back to McKinley if Karofsky will help him start a chapter of PFLAG.

Oh, and what's Lauren's plan to destroy Quinn?  Reveal the fact that Quinn used to be an ugly fat girl named Lucy at another school... before she had her nose job!  That's right!  "Perfect" Quinn wasn't born that way.  However, it only makes people want to vote for Quinn even more, so Lauren's plan kind of backfires.

The Pros:
  • Kurt is back at McKinley!!!!!!!!!
  • Santana is quickly becoming one of my favorite characters.  She sure had some hilarious lines in tonight's episode, didn't she?  Like "I'm a closet lesbian and a judgmental b****... that means I have awesome gaydar" or "The only straight I am is straight-up b****."  Hmm... maybe I just laugh every time she says the B-word...
  • I love when they mash up songs!  TLC's "Unpretty" mixed with "I Feel Pretty" from the musical West Side Story was terrific.  What could be better than a Quinn/Rachel duet?
  • Mike's dancing was showcased again this week, this time while Finn sang Sammy Davis Jr.'s "I Gotta Be Me."  I love watching Mike dance and I feel like Finn hasn't had a musical number in a while... so I was a happy boy!
  • For some reason I really liked when Burt told Finn, "Keep an eye on your brother" referring to Kurt.  AWWW!  SO CUTE!
  • I loved loved loved Blaine and the Warblers' rendition of Keane's "Somewhere Only We Know" as a goodbye to Kurt!  I got all choked up...
  • Kurt's "As If We Never Said Goodbye" (from the musical Sunset Boulevard - which is based on the great Gloria Swanson film) was beautiful!  Best song of the night!!  I am so glad he's back where he belongs.
  • The scene with Emma Pillsbury meeting with the therapist was done very well.

The Cons:
  • With all the talk about Rachel's potential nose job, I was surprised that nobody brought up Santana's boob job...
  • Watching Karofsky's phony baloney pretense of "changing" made me cringe.  He's still a douche!!
  • The dance number in the mall was kind of fun I guess, but I couldn't help thinking it was just a redo of last season's "Safety Dance."
  • Sue wasn't in this episode!!  Where was she??

Ask Joaquin: Why Are the Concession Prices So High?

From many random movie theater customers:  Why are the concession prices so high?

I haven't received any new questions from you guys, so today's "Ask Joaquin" is in response to a question that I get asked incessantly while working at the movie theater.  People are always commenting on the high prices of the concession items.  Some people just joke about it saying things like, "How much is my total?  A million dollars! Ha ha!"  But other customers get absolutely offended and ask, "How can you sleep at night?"

It's pretty easy to sleep actually, because--guess what--overcharging you isn't exactly murder!  In fact, you aren't being forced to buy concessions at all!  It is physically possible to watch a movie without eating popcorn.  You can see the prices and decide whether or not you want to pay them.  You can always say to yourself, "I don't feel like I should pay almost five dollars for a soda.  I think I'll pass on that."  But yet here you are, buying these optional treats anyway while whining to me.

But why are they so expensive?  Well, I used to just think that movie theaters charged high prices simply because they could.  I assumed they figured they had a monopoly on snack foods (you can't bring in your own, you know) and they knew people would dish out the money anyway.  However, theaters charge so much on their snacks because they actually have to if they want to make any money.

Now you're thinking, "But they already charged me an arm and a leg on the movie ticket... isn't that enough?  Those greedy poop faces!"  Well, the truth is, the theater doesn't actually make very much (if anything) on your ticket!  Do you know who does?  The movie studio that made the movie!

This is how it goes:  The theater signs a lease with the movie studio to play their newest movie.  The movie studio generally takes in 75% - 100% of the profits from ticket sales.  After a movie has been out a few weeks, the theater may start to keep a larger percentage, but really, they aren't making a profit from ticket sales.  The little they make from the ticket doesn't even begin to cover the costs of running all of the projectors, maintaining such a large building, employing so many employees, etc.

So to not go bankrupt, they have to raise the prices on the concessions and hope that you come and buy some popcorn or soda.  A theater manager once said, "We are not in the movie business... we are in the candy business."  So if you like the fact that a local theater is offering a showing of the movie you want to watch, you better buy some dang candy!  Because if you don't, your theater will shut down and you'll have to wait for the DVD release!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Chihuahua Comics: Sacred Easter Basket

Today is Easter Sunday!  Yay!  For Christians everywhere this is the day our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ conquered death!  He resurrected!  He lived so that we may live!  Woo hoo!  And how do we celebrate it?  With Easter baskets full of colored eggs and candy!  Didn't you see that in the scripture?  It's in the New Commercialized American Version of the Holy Bible... somewhere near the verse on the holy significance of jelly beans.

Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Movie Review: 'Hop' is Like Hip Hop Without the Hip

Hop movie poster, property of Universal Pictures.
Hop AVERAGE

Let me start off by saying this movie is not that bad.  However, it's also not that good.  The first few minutes were spectacular in my opinion.  The movie opened with the bustling and vibrant candy factory on Easter Island, and it was so charmingly magical that it put Willy Wonka's factory to shame.  Adorable little chicks and bunnies scampered about running the shiny golden machines that created chocolates and marshmallows and all of the delicious treats that boys and girls hope will fill their baskets come Easter morning.  It truly was wondrous to behold.

Unfortunately, we don't stay in that fantastical place for very long.  The majority of the movie is set in the boring old "real world" that we inhabit every day.  And for me, the magic of the movie stopped there.  In my opinion, the entire movie should have been animated.  It would have been so much better.  Instead we get a cartoon rabbit wandering around a dusty Los Angeles pooping jelly beans.

The main character, E.B. (Russell Brand), is the Easter Bunny's son who does not wish to follow in his father's footsteps.  Instead of taking over the family business by delivering Easter candy to all the children in the world (except China, which was actually a pretty funny little joke), E.B. wants to be a rock n' roll drummer.  So he escapes Easter Island and heads to Hollywood.  Soon he finds our human, Fred O'Hare (James Marsden), who is an unemployed twenty-something-year-old house sitting for some rich people.  Together they form an unlikely friendship and help one another live their dreams.

The story is cute enough I guess, and Russell Brand's E.B. actually had some really funny lines.  His one-liners helped me to watch the whole movie without falling asleep, actually.  Unfortunately, everything that happens just never lives up to it's opening scene.  Even the end was oddly non-climactic.  I heard someone describe this movie as an Easter version of the The Santa Clause.  And it really is.  Fred O'Hare ends up becoming the Easter Bunny and he even flies around in a sled...  It tries so hard to be hip and cool, but the end result is a forgettable family film that never lived up to its potential.

Love movies?  Check out my Movie Page!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Chihuahua Comics: Pregnant Tree

Happy Earth Day, everyone!  Go out and appreciate the earth!  And always be accountable for your actions... unlike that woodpecker.  I heard he flew the coop.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Patrick's Video Project on Anti-Gay Slurs

Brian's cousin Patrick Barrus made a really cool video for a college English project.  It's all about words and how they can hurt, especially when it comes to anti-gay slurs.  He had posted it on Facebook and I thought it was so cool.  I had to share it and luckily he gave me permission to do so!  Enjoy!

 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Movie Review: Wimpy Kid Should Stop Writing in His Diary

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules movie poster, property of Twentieth Century Fox.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules AWFUL

Diary of a Wimpy Kid was actually kind of a cute movie.  I never got a chance to see it in theaters, but I saw the movie on HBO recently and I thought it was a pretty funny and heartwarming kiddie movie.  It had a lot of spunk and quirkiness, which made all of its wildly improbable hijinks not only tolerable but endearing.  However, its sequel Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules was quite the opposite.  It just plain sucked.

The movie is about Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon) being forced to bond with his brother Rodrick (Devon Bostick) by their constantly clueless parents (played by Steve Zahn and Rachael Harris).  They seem to be oblivious to the fact that Rodrick is unnecessarily cruel to his younger brother, and seem to think that leaving the two of them alone for the weekend will make them be best friends.  It doesn’t work out that way of course, and we get to see the two of them fighting annoyingly for two hours.

Rodrick’s character was juvenile and obnoxious in the first movie as well, but you only saw him in small doses.  In this one, he’s given a much bigger role and that is unfortunate.   I can’t stand Rodrick.  And Greg’s character isn’t much more lovable.  Although you sympathize with him because he’s little, and gets picked on, and blah blah blah… he’s not really a very nice kid.  The whole first movie was about him realizing that his friendship with Rowley (Robert Capron) was more important than being a popular middle schooler, yet in this sequel he has forgotten that lesson and continues to be the worst friend possible to poor Rowley in hopes of being seen as cool.  He embarrasses Rowley in a YouTube video hoping it will make him cool.  He forces Rowley to lie about a party Rodrick threw in order for his brother to think he’s cool.  He won’t do a magic show with Rowley because he doesn’t think the girl of his dreams (Holly Hills played by Peyton List) will find it cool... and on and on and on.

Newsflash:  You aren’t cool Greg Heffley.  And neither are you, Rodrick.  You are both petty and annoying and I’m tired of watching your ridiculously contrived antics on the big screen.  Thank you, and please shut up.

Love movies?  Check out my Movie Page!

Movie Review: ‘Sucker Punch’ is My Newest Guilty Pleasure

Sucker Punch movie poster, property of Warner Brothers.
Sucker Punch AVERAGE

I’ve been accused of always sharing Brian’s opinion about movies.  The assumption is that I don’t have a mind of my own, and that if Brian likes a movie I will also like it, and if Brian dislikes a movie I will also dislike it.  I will admit that a lot of the times I agree with Brian’s opinions, but let me assure you that I do not simply mimic him like a trained monkey.

Case in point:  the movie Sucker Punch by director Zack Snyder.  Brian absolutely hated this movie, but I actually liked it!  Notice I didn’t say that I loved it, but I definitely did not hate it like Brian did.  The movie is exactly what you would expect from a Zack Snyder film as far as his visual style is concerned.  Have you ever seen 300 ?  It looks a lot like that with sped up and slowed down action sequences, a certain grittiness, and a definite nod towards comic books and animé alike.

While not as good as some of his other movies (like Watchmen), I found Sucker Punch to be highly watchable and entertaining.  The story is of a girl named Baby Doll (Emily Browning) who is sent to a mental institution after accidentally killing her sister.  There, the corrupt Blue Jones (Oscar Isaac) strikes up a deal with her stepfather to have her lobotomized before the week is out.  As a coping mechanism, Baby Doll reverts to a fantasy world in her head where she is not a mental patient but actually a sort of prostitute/exotic dancer working with the other girls in a club ran by Blue.  These other girls include Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish), Rocket (Jena Malone), Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens), and Amber (Jamie Chung).  They plan to escape before the “High Roller”—the doctor coming to lobotomize Baby Doll—comes for her.

What’s a bit strange is that Baby Doll seems to revert to an alternate reality within an alternate reality.  So beyond the pretend club, there is also a world where she battles with bizarre creatures and receives guidance from Wise Man (Scott Glenn).  He tells her that she needs to collect five things in order for her to escape.  She needs a map, fire, a knife, a key and a mysterious fifth object (spoiler alert: it’s herself).  So throughout the movie the girls obtain each item in turn, simply dancing and seducing in the one reality, while kicking butt with machine guns and samurai swords and explosions in the other reality.  We never see what they actually do to get the items in the real world situation of the mental hospital, we just flip flop between the dance club and the war-torn fantasyland.

For me, I liked the look of the movie, the rockin’ soundtrack, and some of the more human moments.  I wasn’t too interested in the fighting (it is cool to look at but basically pointless), but I was pretty drawn into the other aspect of the movie.  Although Baby Doll’s character isn’t developed at all and the story is a bit lacking in terms of depth, we get some pretty strong performances from sisters Sweet Pea and Rocket.  Jena Malone and Abbie Cornish are very talented actresses, and for me, they added a lot to the group dynamic and made me care about their escape.  Another performance that I found incredibly fascinating was Oscar Isaac’s portrayal of the villain Blue.  Without him, I don’t think I would have liked this movie at all.  He was just so sexy and suave, yet deeply disturbed and twisted.

So will you like this movie?  I don’t know.  Brian hated it.  Most critics hated it.  But for me, it turned out to be a lot better than I expected.  There are probably a million reasons why I shouldn’t like it, but Sucker Punch sort of became my guilty pleasure.

Love movies?  Check out my Movie Page!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Gleek Critique: "A Night of Neglect" Episode

Sue meets with the "League of Doom" in her office.  Image property of Fox.
After a month-long hiatus, my favorite show Glee is back!  This week's episode (the first of the final six for the season) was all about the kids needing funding to attend Nationals in New York City.  Will's suggestion is that they sell saltwater taffy, but his girlfriend Holly Holiday tells him that he's thinking too small.  Her idea?  Throw a benefit concert to raise money!  So the New Directions kids begin to plan "A Night of Neglect" featuring songs by sometimes overlooked artists, because they feel, well, a little overlooked.  They've won Regionals yet they are still getting slushie facials in the hallways.

To add to the neglect, some of the members of New Directions are also part of Brainiacs which is an academic decathlon team.  Who knew Artie, Tina, Mike and (wait for it...) Brittany were members of this club?  Well, turns out nobody did.  The four of them competed on local television on the show Smarty Pants and none of their fellow choir members even tuned in to watch.  The Brainiacs are supposed to go to Detroit to compete, but they don't have any school funding either.  To make amends, Mr. Schuester decides that "A Night of Neglect" will benefit both groups.  Isn't that sweet?

But someone is very much against this benefit concert, and I'll give you one guess who that is...  Did you guess Sue Sylvester?  You'd be right.  However, she's not taking on the glee club on her own anymore.  She's formed "The League of Doom" consisting of the old glee club coach Sandy Ryerson (aka The Pink Dagger), Will's ex-wife Terri (aka The Honey Badger) and Vocal Adrenaline coach Dustin Goolsby (aka Sargent Handsome).  Sandy's job is to form a group of hecklers to throw insults during the benefit concert, and Dustin's job is to destroy Will and Holly's relationship.

Turns out Dustin doesn't really have to do anything to split the two teachers up.  Holly is afraid of commitment so she breaks up with Will all by herself.  She's taking a substitute teaching job in Cleveland, leaving Will alone to try and patch things up with Emma, who's just revealed that Carl has left and is wanting an annulment of their marriage.  Obviously I'm not surprised that Will and Holly or Emma and Carl didn't work out... because Will and Emma are madly in love with each other!

In the end, Dustin and Sandy have failed in their missions, and Sue is not very happy.  Although the benefit concert had low turnout, they still managed to earn the money they needed.  How did that happen?  Sandy's kryptonite is Aretha Franklin, and when he heard Mercedes sing he couldn't help but donate all of his drug money.  So like I said, Sue is not happy.  She announces that it is Honey Badger's moment to shine, and Terri looks absolutely ecstatic.  I'm sure Terri is poised and ready to stop Will and Emma from ever getting together again.

The Pros:
  • I am glad that Charice's character Sunshine Corazon came back, along with the Vocal Adrenaline coach Dustin Goolsby (played by Broadway star Cheyenne Jackson).  They were both in the season premiere and I always thought it odd that they were brought in never to be used again.  I mean, they are both superstars.  Charice's song "All by Myself" was great.
  • Brittany sure knows her cat diseases!  I loved that the ditsy ex-cheerleader actually turned out to be an asset on the Brainiacs team.
  • The League of Doom was very silly but I enjoyed it.  I particularly liked how they kept getting confused over the name... sometimes calling it The Legion of Evil.
  • Sue talking about Holly Holiday:  "She's looser than a thrift store turtleneck and probably just as diseased."  Hilarious!
  • Mercedes had plenty of screen time which always makes me happy!  She turned into a demanding little diva in this episode, but by the way she sang Aretha Franklin's "Ain't No Way" she earned the right to be!  That girl is amazing!
  • Mike Chang's dance solo was terrific, and I thought Holly Holiday did a great job singing Adele's "Turning Tables."  She sang it as a goodbye to Will Schuester... and a goodbye to the show in general  (at least until they decide to write her back in again).
  • Did Santana stand up to that bully Dave Karofsky or what?!
The Cons:
  • Although Will and Emma need to just get together already, I am sad that Carl is getting his marriage to Emma annulled.  I feel sorry for both of them.
  • Apart from Kurt and Blaine, only Sandy and his hecklers came to the benefit concert.  I seriously don't understand how the entire town of Lima is so oblivious to the talent these kids have.  Seriously?  Not even older couples wanting to enjoy a night out bought tickets to this thing?  Not even their parents??
  • It seems to be the running joke that whenever Tina starts a song something happens to make her stop singing.  Usually she bursts into tears for some reason or another.  Glee writers, if you are listening, STOP DOING THAT!  Let the girl sing, dang it!
  • Blaine and Kurt didn't sing.  I'm always sad when they don't sing.

Chum Chat: Jack and His Thoughts on Christ and Easter

My father—also named Jack Garcia—is a truly great man.  He’s charismatic, compassionate, and a strong believer of the Christian faith.  With the Easter holiday quickly approaching, I thought it would be a good time to talk to him a little about Christianity and the true meaning of Easter.

JOAQUIN:  Hey, Dad!  Like all of us, you’ve faced some trials in your life, but when was it that you felt compelled to devote your life to God?

JACK:
   It was when I was living in Fort Lyon, Colorado.  Molly [his second wife] and I had separated, and I was all alone in a big house on the grounds of Fort Lyon Correctional Facility.  I wanted my marriage to Molly to work, and I cried out to God to reconcile me to my wife.  His immediate response was: "Reconcile yourself to Me."  From that moment on, I became a true follower of our Lord, Jesus Christ.  I still have my ups and downs, but I live my life as a response to God's patience, love, mercy, and grace in my life.

JOAQUIN:
  And I’m guessing that’s what led you to study at the Nazarene Bible College in Colorado Springs.  What is it like now that you've graduated?

JACK:
  Nazarene Bible College helped me come to know the truth of God's Word regarding God and grace.  I am able to live a life of security, and I am able to do so because I now understand what the Bible has to say about Life.  I truly understand that we are fallen and broken people navigating a fallen and fractured world.  This understanding helps me as I minister to those in need. 

JOAQUIN:  Speaking of those in need, you now work at the Springs Rescue Mission.  How does your job benefit your life?

JACK:  At Springs Rescue Mission, I come into contact with a lot of broken and wounded people that society treats as outcasts, and realize that God gave them the same value He gave me when He emptied Himself and came down to earth, taking on the form of a man, and being obedient to death, even death on a cross.  The love of God is not just for those who understand the true nature of God's relationship with us, but for every single person.  The beautiful thing about God's economy is that I am ministered to by those who come to the mission for help.  It's amazing the faith of the people of God who are enduring adversity, and their strength of faith is an example for me.  I am at a place in my life that I believe I am doing what God has put me on earth to do--and that is to love and be loved.

JOAQUIN:
  So they give to you what you give to them:  a strengthened faith in Christ.  Based on what you believe, who is Jesus Christ?

JACK:
  One could really be bogged down in theology trying to answer this question.   The bottom line is that Jesus Christ is God.  He is the God who saved His people by dying for their sins.  He is the God who earnestly seeks us out.  He is the only true God, and not only does He love us in a way we can't even wrap our brains around to understand, but He wants us to love Him.  Imagine that!  God, Creator of all, wants us to fall so madly in love with Him that we desire to please Him, to write Him love letters and sing love songs. 

JOAQUIN:  That’s beautiful, Dad.  What role should Christ play then in our day-to-day life?

JACK:  He should be everything for us and to us.  He's not a genie in a bottle that we cry out to when we have an earthly and physical need.  Too often, we look to Christ for what we can get out of the relationship.  When we say that Jesus Christ is our Lord, we need to understand that we come under His sovereign rule, but His sovereign rule is not like that of men, but is a rule in which we are blessed and led to eternal Life.

JOAQUIN:
  As you know, Easter is just around the corner.  What is the spiritual significance of this holiday?

JACK:
  Easter is about the two parts of the Atonement:  Christ's death on the cross and God raising Him from the grave—RESURRECTION!!!  When Jesus took the place of Barabbas on the cross, He took the place of each and every one of us.  We are all guilty of death, but Jesus died a substitutionary death for us, and all we have to do is believe in Him.  Easter is the event in which sinful and unholy man was reconciled to a Righteous and Holy God. 

JOAQUIN:
  So with the greater meaning that all Christians give to the holiday, does the secularization of Easter bother you?  You know what I mean.  You see movies like Hop in theaters, with bunnies and chicks and eggs…

JACK:
  I wouldn't say that it bothers me per se.  I'll still eat the Easter eggs and the chocolate bunnies!

JOAQUIN:  Ha ha!  Well of course you will.  You have a worse sweet tooth than I do!

JACK:   I will say this, though... today at the mission I noticed a big picture of an Easter bunny on the pantry door.  I took it down.  Why?  Because such things have their place, and I don't think their place is in the pantry door of a non-profit organization that honors and preaches Christ.  There might be fellow employees who would have left it up.  That would be their prerogative.  I don't think this is anything worth fighting over.  Besides, God's grace is bigger than such things as Easter bunnies.  So, there.  I hope I've confused you just a little bit with my response. 

JOAQUIN:  No, I think I get what you mean.

JACK:  It's just an opinion...nothing dogmatic about it in the least.


JOAQUIN:  Well, thanks for the interview, Dad.  I hope you have a Happy Easter!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Movie Review: Bradley Cooper Does Limitless Drugs

Limitless movie poster, property of Relativity Media and Rogue Pictures.
Limitless ADMIRABLE

Limitless is a really good movie starring Bradley Cooper as Eddie Mora, a man struggling to get anywhere in his life.  He’s been trying to write a novel for who knows how long, his girlfriend has just left him, and he’s simply not living up to his fullest potential.  In short, he’s a loser.  But when he runs into his ex-brother-in-law Vernon (Johnny Whitworth) his life changes for the better… or does it?  Vernon is a drug dealer selling a new drug called NZT that instead of impairing the user actually enhances them.  You know how we only use a fraction of our brain?  Well, NZT lets people use 100% of it!  The possibilities are, well, limitless…

So with this heightened capacity for learning, a greater memory, and a new sense of drive Eddie finishes his novel in record time, makes lots of money, and soon begins to dabble in the stock market where he meets Carl Van Loon (Robert DeNiro) who hires him on to tackle his big competitor Hank Atwood (Richard Bekins).  All of his success causes his old girlfriend Lindy (Abbie Cornish) to take interest in him again, and with a new career and his girl back, it seems like life couldn’t be better.

However, there are two sides to this coin.  He borrows money from a thug named Gennady (Andrew Howard), who later begins demanding NZT pills as payment.  Vernon is murdered early on, making it more difficult to get a hold of the pills.  And on top of supplying to Gennady and battling with his own addiction, Eddie also finds himself being followed constantly by an unknown man.

I really liked this movie for several reasons.  One, I found the story to be very intriguing and full of action.  Lots of twists and turns!  Two, it’s nice to see Bradley Cooper doing something a little different.  But more than anything,  I liked the movie’s visual style.  The opening is a really cool shot zooming along the streets of New York, and it seems like we are zooming into a photo into a photo into a photo (kind of like navigating the street view of Google Maps).  It also does some cool stuff with the lighting, using warmer and more vibrant colors whenever Eddie is using NZT, and reverting to a grainier, duller look when he is off it.  At times we’ll see multiple Eddies in the same shot, referring to his improved capacity to get things done… very cool.

And the ending?  I loved it!  It’s one of those endings that has you asking questions!  Is he off NZT or is he still a user?  The answer is debatable, and I highly recommend seeing this movie if you haven’t already.

Love movies?  Check out my Movie Page!

Happy Birthday, Jeremy Ashida!

It's my friend Jeremy Ashida's birthday today!  He's a happily married singer/songwriter, and I really admire his gusto in pursuing his dreams no matter what.  I decided to honor him and his music today by posting the three music videos that I have done for him.  I hope you guys enjoy!





Sunday, April 17, 2011

JoaquiNews: Nicolas Cage Arrested for Public Drunkenness

Nicolas Cage's mug shot.
NEW ORLEANS—Academy Award winning actor Nicolas Cage was arrested for public drunkenness, disturbing the peace and domestic abuse on Friday.  Cage was in New Orleans to shoot a movie, and according to police officers on the scene, he got himself so completely drunk that he made Charlie Sheen look like a respectable member of society.  He got into a loud argument with his wife on the street and then forcibly grabbed her by the arm and dragged her into a house that wasn’t even theirs. 

The homeowners were too star struck to say anything as Cage beat his wife with an Oscar trophy and then blacked out in the corner after downing a bottle of Listerine.  All of this behavior might have been overlooked if it had been during Mardi Gras, but alas it was just a regular old Friday.  Cage was thrown into jail.

Research shows that Nicolas Cage has been a drunk since he was two years old.  It was at an Olive Garden in Florida where the then toddler sipped on his first sangria.  A waitress had accidentally given it to him (instead of his apple juice) and he was instantly hooked.  Once Olive Garden quit serving alcohol to him, he switched over to margaritas at Applebee’s.  With the help of these chain restaurants and their lenient alcohol-serving practices, he grew to be the biggest lush of his preschool class—challenging his classmates to drinking games in the sandbox.

Bail has been posted at $11,000… which should be chump change to a celebrity of his caliber.  Unfortunately, all that money spent at the liquor store has left the actor in financial ruin.  Better sell that Oscar on E-Bay, Nick.  That, or melt it down into gold bars.

Although based on actual news stories (click the links), this story is FAKE.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Fatty McFat Part Two

This is just a mid-month update on my fitness goals!  It was just about two weeks ago when I posted "Fatty McFat" with the proclamation that I was going to lose my gut and get healthier so help me God.  These two weeks have had their ups and downs but overall I've been pretty successful.  I just hope I can continue on with the same dedication.  In a couple of weeks I'm posting another set of photos, so I hope I look sexier in time for the photo shoot!  Ha ha, highly doubtful but a boy can dream, can't he?

The first day of exercise was torture.  All the heavy breathing and sweating left me exhausted and sick.  And what's worse, for the next three days I was so incredibly sore that I thought I might never work out again.  My arms couldn't straighten all the way, so I walked around with my arms hanging slightly bent at the elbow.  It was very odd to walk around like a chimpanzee, hoping nobody would notice.  I'd try to reach for things only to fail because I couldn't extend my arm as far as I was used to.

My legs were just as sore as my arms.  On the morning of my first day of work I went to the closet to get my work shoes and they were just sitting on the floor, taunting me.  "Why don't you bend down here and pick us up?  Come on, Jack... just squat.  Get down on one knee.  We're right here in front of you."  But I couldn't!  My legs just couldn't bend anymore.  I had become a broken old man after a mere half hour of exercise two days previously!  Eventually I just flopped onto the bed, rolled off it onto the floor, and then wormed my way over to where my shoes were.  After putting them on I couldn't get back up again so I had to call 911 and have someone come over and put me back on my feet.

Part of that story might have been an exaggeration, but I was seriously aching all over and it was limiting my ability to function.  I asked Courtney what I should do about it and she just said to keep exercising.  "Just push through it and eventually your body will stop feeling so sore."  So I started doing the exercises she taught me again, and I've been doing them pretty regularly ever since.  Some days I just don't have time, but usually on those days I walk to and from work, which is good exercise in itself.

I've also been trying to eat a bit better.  At first, I was using SparkPeople to track my calories, but I soon found it almost impossible to stay within the recommended calorie intake.  I would have a granola bar for breakfast, pack a sandwich with some carrots or applesauce for lunch, and then have like a salad with tuna for dinner and still wind up eating too many calories!  One of my friends told me not to worry so much about the calories, but to cut out sugar.  And I have been for the most part.  One day I had a chocolate candy bar, but I think that's the only really sugary thing I've had since starting this healthy quest.  I've been eating a lot more fruits and vegetables than I used to and I've been drinking lots more water.

Speaking of drinking water, it has replaced my beloved soda and the transition has been fairly easy but I still miss my Coca-Cola.  And I am surrounded by temptation.  At work we are allowed to have free soda and popcorn on our breaks, and it's hard to deny this work perk and just have my carrot sticks and water!  Sometimes I'll just be filling up a large soda for somebody at the concession stand and just really crave it.  I'm surrounded by unhealthy snack foods for eight hours at a time, but so far I am still going strong!  I kind of feel like a hypocrite telling myself that I can't have soda or popcorn while telling the customer, "Are you sure you don't want a large popcorn for just 75 cents more?  Let's add a large Coke and make it a combo!"  I'm contributing to the obesity of America.  Jamie Oliver would be so mad at me!

Anyway, here are my numbers so far.  I started this weighing 153 lbs, and now I weigh 148.  So I've lost five pounds in sixteen days.  But more importantly, my body fat has gone from 15.2% to 13.8%.  That's almost two percent!  I've realized that I don't necessarily want to lose pounds, just convert fat into muscle.  So I'm more concerned about the body fat percentage than actual weight, but I'm still keeping track of both.

Stay tuned for more Fatty McFat updates!

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