What is this Villainy?!

So Bad It's Good

I love a good villain. A truly great villain just makes the movie so much more interesting. The stakes are higher and the suspense is more thrilling. A good villain pushes the hero to the limits and makes it all the more satisfying when (if?) he wins. For various reasons, the following villains are the most memorable to me. I included a short, spoiler-free blurb about why they're my favorite. 

It's good to be bad.

It's good to be bad.


The Dark Knight - The Joker

An obvious pick, but well deserved. The Joker is one of the best villains of all time in any medium and Heath Ledger did the character justice. The Joker is unfathomable, he's unpredictable,  he's chaotically evil. You don't know what he wants but he'll do anything to get it and that's what makes him so incredibly dangerous. 

 

Inglorious Basterds - Colonel Hans Landa

What makes this villain great is that, from the very first scene, we learn to fear and respect him. And he's polite and sharp and witty all while being so chillingly good at being evil. At some point, we just have to tip our caps to expertise and professionalism. Hans Landa is an expert villain through and through. 

 

No Country For Old Men - Anton Chigurh

Combines the enigmatic unpredictability of the Joker with the expertise of Landa. Chigurh is a relentless psychopath. One of the few villains that really made me hold my breath. 

 

Mission Impossible III - Owen Davian

A fantastic performance by Phillip Seymour Hoffman. What really sells it for me is how menacingly calm he is through the whole movie. How, even when it seems like the good guys are winning, he merely sounds a little annoyed like it's merely an inconvenience to him. He actually sounds bored while he dismantles our heroes. His confidence in his ability to cause suffering and exact his revenge fills me with dread. His nonchalant demeanor makes it feel like he's always in control, making it one of the more suspenseful movies I've ever seen. 

 

The Man From Nowhere -  Brothers Man-Seok and Jong-seok

Sometimes, a good villain is just someone you really, really want to see get punched in the face. You could argue that the previous villains were all admirably horrible. Their efficacy, while malicious in intent, could be respected. Man-Seok and Jong-seok are the opposite of that. They are worthless, spoiled, scum. So when the hero wins (or does he?) the sense of justice and satisfaction is magnified. I'm not familiar with Korean actors but the guys who played these scumbags did a really good job of making me hate them. 


Second Worsts

The Ones That Made Things Hard

In general, I don't like it when the villain is too easy. There's no suspense with an easy villain and, consequently, no relief and no excitement at the resolution. You have to give the hero a worthwhile adversary. Someone or something exceedingly difficult to overcome. Only then does our "hero" earn such a title.

The Matrix - The Agents, The Machines, Smith

The Agents are just so slippery. No one can even touch them. And, invulnerability aside, what scared me even more was their omnipresence. Such powerful enemies can be any where at any time in seemingly unlimited numbers. 

World War Z - The Zombies

The zombies in World War Z are insane. Let's refer to this chart which plots the killing power of the zombies in each zombie movie. 

You'll notice that the World War Z zombies aren't on the chart. That's because the WWZ zombies are so far to the right that they would elect zombie Donald Trump to be their leader. I put a frowny face to mark their place in relation to the chart. 

In most zombie movies, I feel like I could survive for quite a while. But if I was in World War Z, I would just give up and accept my new "life" as a man-eating Usain Bolt. 

Edge of Tomorrow (Live, Die, Repeat) - The Mimics

Big, fast, numerous, intelligent, and so, so lethal. And then they also have that "gimmick". 

The Lord of the Rings - Sauron's Army

Over the course of three films, few enemies have felt as unbeatable as Sauron and his army. The odds were stacked against man and the weight of the world was on the Fellowship. Without the grueling journey and the grand battles, the impossible trials and the unconquerable enemy, the Lord of the Rings trilogy just would not be quite as epic as it is. 

The Likable One

Kingsman: The Secret Service - Richmond Valentine

My favorite thing about Samuel Jackson's Valentine were all the quirks of his character. I like that Valentine intentionally breaks many of the stereotypes of the classic spy villain. In addition, he's so contradictory. He can't stand the sight of blood or gore and doesn't like the feeling of killing yet he has concocted a device that will wipe out the majority of the population. He's mega-rich but dresses casually and his idea of a nice meal is McDonald's. He's a super villain but he's actually quite reasonable rather than cruel. He's got the hubris of a villain but speaks with a disarming lisp. He's Samuel Jackson but he's so unlike the rest of Jackson's characters (except for his character in Unbreakable). Dooms-day device aside, he's actually quite likable. 

The Dynamic Duo

The Departed - Frank Costello and Staff Sgt. Colin Sullivan

I can't say much without giving it away but I really like the juxtaposition of these two. And what makes them even better is that the scheme they hatch gives them the upper hand throughout, making the movie incredibly tense.

The Ones I Can't Talk About

I said no spoilers.

Memento - Villain

Gone Girl - Villain

Se7en - Villain

And finally,

The Indefensible One

Winnie the Pooh - Owl

Stare into the eyes of true evil. 

Taiwan Highlights!

27 days away from home! Taiwan was really great. One of the best trips of my life. 

My favorites:

Mom and Dad. I feel like I'm finally at the point in my life where I really appreciate my family more than ever. I love my parents and I know they love me. I will always be their son and they will always be there for me. Leaving them made me tear up a little. See you guys in November. I'll miss you. 

One of the only pictures with all 4 of us!

One of the only pictures with all 4 of us!

Dad trying to pull my strings? 

Dad trying to pull my strings? 

Matching shirts!

Matching shirts!

Extended Family. For the first time, my Chinese has been good enough and I've been confident enough to actually get to know my family a little. My grandparents, aunts, uncles, and my cousins- I've never really felt a bond with them before but, over the course of the month, I felt a little closer to my blood. I'm pleased to report that they are all super cool and super nice. Uncle Lei is a kind, gentle soul, Uncle Ruey is both smart and chill, Aunt Tungbow is warm-hearted and caring, and Aunt Fengchiu is super fun and in-the-know (she tipped us off on a bunch of the good spots to eat). Cousin Pinglin is super fun like her mom and Cousin Jeanine is bubbly and joyful while cousin Han-Han is more meek and gentle. Grandpa was old and jolly while Grandma was funny and sharp. 

Before 6 am, the market is already in full swing.

Before 6 am, the market is already in full swing.

Morning Hustle. I really like how early people get up and go about their business. I would go out for breakfast at 6 am and the market would be in full swing by then. Everybody was already wheelin' and dealin', hustlin' and bustlin'.  I like the liveliness to start the day. In the U.S., I feel like everybody is a grumpy zombie in the morning with Starbucks in one hand and smartphone in the other. 

The Compactness. A cross-country road trip is a few hours, not a few days. The culture and sights of Taiwan are condensed into a manageable distance. 

Public transportation can take you pretty much anywhere in Taiwan.

Public transportation can take you pretty much anywhere in Taiwan.

 

Public Transportation. Traveling in Taiwan is made even more manageable by its impressive public transportation services. Using the Taiwan High Speed Rail, you can get from Kaohsiung (southern end) to Taipei (northern end) in just an hour and a half. Buses are reliable and on time and take you from city to city for $2.50 a ticket. The MRT makes traversing the entirety of Taipei ridiculously easy. There are even public bicycles accessible to the public. 

The Convenience. I'm such a fan of the 7-Elevens and OK Marts and Family Marts! There's one on every corner (sometimes 2) and they sell everything. I could probably eat for a week just at a 7-Eleven. In most cities, anything you might need can be obtained by walking within a few blocks. There are plenty of markets selling fresh fruits, veggies, meat, and fish while food and drink vendors line every street. There's almost always a train station near and convenience stores and department stores carry everything else. 

The Culture. I love the fusion of all the different cultures in Taiwan. It's a blend of Chinese, Japanese, European, American, and Taiwanese aborigines cultures. There is a wonderful, unique harmony between old and new, rural and urban, elegance and cutting-edge, traditional and modern. 

The People. The people in Taiwan are very nice and very friendly to foreigners. Many a time I stopped to ask a stranger for directions and he or she was more than glad to help. They always did their best and, if they weren't sure, they were careful to avoid giving us wrong directions. If I stuttered in Chinese, they were patient with me and they would smile and ask me where I was from (and sometimes they would even compliment my Chinese). Once, a couple of older ladies asked my brother for directions and he, not knowing much Chinese, managed to say, "Uhhh... Wo bu shuo zhong wen" (Uhhh... I don't say Chinese). The ladies laughed (in a delighted way) and said "Ohhh ni zen ke ai!" (Oh, you're so cute!). When we were climbing Elephant Mountain, a couple of older gentlemen we passed on the way up would give us encouragement and cheer us on, saying, "Keep going! You're almost there! You can do it!". 

The Modernity. In Taipei, there were high-tech gadgets and gizmos that I haven't even seen in the States. The MRT is more modern than the NYC subway system (and much, much cleaner!) and the malls (especially the one in Taipei 101) are not inferior to those in the U.S. Houses and apartments have A/C, restaurants and public restrooms are relatively clean, there is free wifi for citizens in the entire city of Taipei, and MRT fare is paid using a very nifty, very convenient "YouYou" card. The Taiwanese have access to the latest phones and computers, high speed internet, and the only time I didn't get a signal for 4G was when we were deep in mountain region. Even then, our living space was clean and comfortable. Everything is not quite as modern as in the U.S., but it's not that far off and I didn't take that for granted. 

Nature. America is beautiful but you have to drive a thousand miles to get from a mountain range to the beach. Meanwhile, Taiwan has a lot to offer in a much smaller space. Spectacular, lush mountain ranges everywhere, bamboo forests, nice parks, surprisingly beautiful rice fields, and shoreline all around. When we visited Jiufen in the mountains, it was so pretty. Climbing Mt. Guanyin and driving along Taroko Gorge were two of my favorite parts of the trip. We didn't visit Sun Moon Lake but I imagine that it's quite beautiful as well. Another thing I like is that even the tourist attractions didn't seem all that touristy and weren't too crowded. 

A view of Taipei from Elephant Mountain.

A view of Taipei from Elephant Mountain.

Home Cooking. My mom and grandma cooked us up some really good meals and it was nice eating with family again. 

Feet Fishes. An incredibly unique experience. These foot baths are full of little fishes that come and eat the dead skin off your feet. They have separate tanks for different fish sizes. It was pretty scary at first (especially with the larger fishes) but I got used to it after a while. 

The Lees. "We're half way around the world, guys." So blessed to be able to hang out with such amazing friends so far away from home. 

Completing Taiwan. Honestly, sitting in the car for so long wasn't all that fun but it felt like quite an accomplishment to make it all the way around the island. 


The Food.

Breakfast. I really did enjoy my breakfasts in Taiwan. I know I made a big deal about fan tuan but I think my favorite is actually the light, flaky shao bing and the crispy, savory dan bing. And the food is SO cheap. My other favorite thing about Taiwan breakfast is the drinks: dou jiang, hong cha, nai cha; I would buy and drink them every day if I could.

Bakeries. I love Taiwanese bakeries! I love the bread there. Sooo soft and just the right amount of sweetness. And the variety! The Taiwanese aren't afraid to get inventive with their bread and I'm always one for trying new things and sampling new flavors. 

Baozi. These are the best baozi I've ever had in my life. So many flavors (such as buttermilk red bean, pepper steak, kimchi, black sesame, and kimchi) and SO cheap at just $10 TWD (33 cents) a bao. 

Bubble Tea. So many flavors and the add-ins are so good. Coconut jelly, pudding, aloe (BIG chunks)- and the boba quality is incomparable. And the price! What is $4+ in the Ohio is just over $1 in Taiwan. 

Other Drinks. It's not just the bubble tea. Just walking into a 7-Eleven, I am overwhelmed with the large selection of drinks that I enjoy. In the U.S., it's mostly just soda, juice, and teas that are too sweet. I'm really going to miss those cartons of oolong tea.  

Fruit. My goodness, the fruit! Walk across the street and I get to take my pick of the freshest and juiciest. I must have eaten over a couple dozen dragon fruits and mangoes and more lychee than I've had in my life. And it just so happens those are my #1, #2, and #3 favorite fruits!

Coconut Juice. Straight from the coconut. So cool!

Night Markets & Street Food. I love night markets. I love trying things and night markets are a great opportunity to do just that. You can get a little of everything without putting so much as a dent in your wallet. If you're not sure what you're feeling, head to the night market and you're sure to find something that looks good. Plus, I really dig the liveliness and the feeling of festivity and people watching at night markets is such good fun. 

Gua Bao. Pork belly, peanut powder, and pickled mustard greens wrapped in a soft, warm, steamed bun. I love everything about gua bao and, upon my first encounter, I ordered 3. Not all at once, either. I would finish the one I had, decide that I really wanted another one, and then go back. I couldn't get enough. It was probably quite amusing for the guy selling them. 

Beef Noodle Soup. The best bowl of niu rou mian that I can remember. The beef was incredibly tender. The free bucket of help-yourself pickled mustard greens was a nice touch. 

Shaved Ice. OMG. Honestly, this is probably my favorite dessert of all time. 

Peanut Ice Cream Wraps. This has a good shot at second. 

Oysters. I've never had so many oysters in my life. It's all fresh in Taiwan and I got to indulge in this food that I rarely get to eat back home. 

Yan Su Ji. Tastes like memories. I got a serving from the same place from 5 years ago on STM. 


Yup! Taiwan was amazing! Even so, I'm glad to be home. 3.5 weeks was enough. I missed the comfort of my own room, my shower, my computer, my bed! I won't miss Taiwan's heat and humidity and I like that things in the U.S. are more wide and spacious. I really like Taiwan, but America, my home, is still #1. 

Daily Daydream: Favorite Actresses

A while back, I started wondering about actresses. My wondering turned into a couple hours of casual analysis and deliberation. I feel like I've seen enough movies now that I should be able to make a thoughtful, informed determination of my preferences. Still, it turns out that picking favorite actresses is quite a bit more difficult for me than picking favorite male actors. I don't seem to have as strong of an opinion on any one in particular and there are no clear favorites of mine. So how do I decide which actresses are my favorite? What criteria are most important to me for constructing this list of starlets? Perhaps the actresses I see most often are the ones that I like the best? Or should I consider the ones that I find most attractive? Although, when rating actresses, shouldn't actual acting ability be the defining measure? I explore each category below. 

Based on Volume

Maybe the actresses that I see most often in movies or shows are my favorite. Could it be that I am drawn to these actresses and subconsciously seek out their works? If that's the case, then my list top actresses would look something like this:

1. Jennifer Aniston - No show will ever top Friends in my heart. I've watched each and every episode a countless number of times. While Aniston's character, Rachel, wasn't my favorite of the bunch (that title belongs to the one and only, Baby Kangaroo Tribbiani) I honestly think that her and David Schwimmer put on the strongest acting performances and not just because they were the "main characters". Her expressions, inflections, nuances and comedic timing were consistently great and I feel that she handled the more serious scenes the most convincingly. Meanwhile, Perry (Chandler), Kudrow (Pheobe), Cox (Monica), and LeBlanc (Joey) each had a few of their own relatively weighty plot-lines and generally failed to impress. 

2. Amy Poehler - Star of Parks and Rec. Poehler, in my opinion, was the most consistently strong character in the series, especially in the later seasons. Lofty praise considering a cast that boasts fan favorites Aziz Ansari, Nick Offerman, Aubrey Plaze, Chris Pratt, and Rob Lowe. Through 7 seasons of Parks and Rec, I've seen more of Poehler than any other actress save for the ladies of Friends

3. Michelle Monaghan - This one came as a surprise to me. But she happens to be in so many of my favorite films: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Mission Impossible III, Gone Baby Gone, Source Code and HBO's True Detective.

4. Scarlett Johansson - As it turns out, Scarlett starred in one of the first movies I had ever seen in theaters: Perfect Score. However, it was so long ago that I had absolutely no idea that she was in it since I had no idea who she was at the time (to be fair, she wasn't yet famous). A year later, still oblivious to who she was, I saw her again during family movie night in In Good Company. So I was "familiar" with Johansson before I even knew her name. Considering her extensive filmography, I guess it makes sense that I would accidentally stumble upon a couple of her performances in my youth.  She was in The Prestige and Her, a couple of my favorites and her recent work as Black Widow in the Avengers series has been highly enjoyable to say the least. 

The thing is, even though I like Aniston, she alone is certainly not the reason I love Friends. Additionally, only one of her movies, Office Space, is in my list of favorites (and she plays a relatively minor part). Similarly, with Poehler, I don't think I can justify placing her in my list of top actresses for just one role.  Meanwhile, while it is true that Monaghan is in an impressive number of my favorite movies, I've decided that she contributes very little to my affection for those movies. When I think of those films, she's an after-thought. Her roles, though significant, are forgettable. As for Johansson, I distinctly remember Perfect Score and In Good Company as being quite bad despite my considerably lower standards at the time. Still, her impressive body of work since then earns her some points. We'll see. 

Based on Looks

What about looks? It's certainly a factor. Still, I'm hesitant to put too much weight in such a shallow category.

Emma Watson - Everybody's gaga about her and, for once, I totally get it. She's gorgeous and classily so.  I like that she seems kind and intelligent and that she carries herself with grace and dignity.

Carey Mulligan - Slightly less obvious pick but I've always felt she was pretty since first seeing her in Drive. Bonus points for being well-regarded in terms of her acting ability.

Rashida Jones - Thought she was really cute in I Love You Man. It's a shame that her character in Parks and Rec was mostly a waste of screen time in the later seasons. 

Rachel McAdams - Not a fan of Mean Girls (don't really understand the love for it) but I really like the roles she's been taking lately. I thought Midnight in Paris was decent and About Time was charming and delightful. 

I think she looks cute with bangs!

I think she looks cute with bangs!

 

Based on Acting

You would think that the most important criterion for determining my favorite actresses would be their ability to, you know, act. But in truth, I think that, once above a certain threshold (the line between average and truly terrible), I have trouble identifying and fully appreciating really good acting. There are times when a particular performance stands out and distinguishes itself in my mind but, for the most part, any decent acting job earns an A in my book. With that in mind, I let each actress' list of accolades determine the front runners for this category. 

Meryl Streep - Pretty much unanimously regarded as the best actress alive with 19 Oscar nominations and 3 wins. The next living actress with the most nominations is Judi Dench with 7 nominations and 1 win. 

Kate Winslet - Youngest person to acquire 6 Academy Award nominations.

Julianne Moore - The most recent Oscar winner for her role in Still Alice.

Amy Adams - 5 Oscar nominations and the actress whom I am the most familiar with of this bunch. 


And the Joshua goes to...

In the end, I decided that the most important factor to me, in regards to choosing my favorite actresses, is my enjoyment of the roles and characters she plays. Acting ability, attractiveness (including personality), and volume are also considered but I need to have a special fondness for the characters that they portray. So, without further ado, here is my current personal list of favorite actresses. 

Joshua Award for Favorite Actress

Anna Kendrick 

I think I'm in like with you. 

I think I'm in like with you. 

I've actually been asked before whether I like Kendrick. I think my response was that, while I like her, I wasn't crazy about her. As it turns out, she tops my list of favorite actresses. I've liked her in every movie that I've seen her in, big role or small. She was great in Up in the Air, adorable in 50/50, and showed off her pipes in Pitch Perfect. Even in her smaller roles in End of Watch and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, I felt that she was charming and delightful. 

On top of that, she's pretty, talented (besides starring in movies, she sings, she dances, performs in theater, and does voice acting), and I like her personality and sense of humor. To me, she seems really cool and fun. Distinguished with a penchant for goofiness, chill with a hint of sass. 

Favorite Role: 50/50

 

Amy Adams 

With 5 Academy nominations, she's one of the best actresses in the game right now. From Enchanted to Doubt, girl's got range. I like that she does all kinds of movies both silly and serious and pretty much everything in between. I thought she was one of the highlights of American Hustle and I quite enjoyed her smaller part in Her

Favorite Role: American Hustle

 

Anne Hathaway

What a long way she's come since The Princess Diaries. Since then, she's earned a reputation as an excellent actress; she is one of just 23 people to win an Academy Award, a Golden Globe, a BAFTA, a Screen Actors Guild Award, and a Critics Choice Award for a single role (Les Miserables). I thought she was stellar in Interstellar and I really enjoyed her in Get Smart, a pleasurable and slightly underrated action comedy. 

I have very little love for The Dark Knight Rises, but it did have its moments. This is one of my favorite scenes and I think Hathaway was quite good in her portrayal of Selina Kyle. However, after all this time, I'm not at all ashamed to admit that my favorite film of hers is still The Devil Wears Prada

Favorite Role: The Devil Wears Prada

 

Scarlett Johansson

I really don't think I'm as high on Johansson as many others seem to be. I spoke about her a little in a previous section and my impression of her has been mixed. Coming into this, I never thought Johansson would make my list of favorite actresses. However, I can't deny that I happen to really enjoy a lot of the characters she plays, especially recently. She was great in Lost in Translation, captivating in Her, and kicked all kinds of ass in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Seriously, the Black Widow is almost certainly the best super heroine in the history of Hollywood. In addition, I enjoyed her in The Prestige, one of my favorites movie ever, and her small role in Chef was a delightful cherry on top. 

Favorite Role: Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Also considered: Rachel McAdams, Isla Fisher, Rose Byrne, Tina Fey, Natalie Portman, Zhang Ziyi, Keira Knightley


There you have it. The Joshuas have been handed out and my daydream has been concluded. Many of these picks were surprises to me- I feel like I learned a little about myself and I had a lot of fun doing so!

Sm4sh!

Love this game! 

Mains:

1. King Dedede 

THE KING. A dollop of goofy, a pinch of dastardly, and a whole lot of belly. I love the king for his pocketful of gordos, his jolly, tummy thumping taunt, his snarky crouch, his belly-flopping dash, and that BIG, THUNDEROUS, THWOMPING HAMMER. 

2. Zero Suit Samus 

Fast and flashy. This lithe, acrobatic bounty hunter is a delight to play. 

3. Yoshi 

Was never particularly fond of Yoshi is the previous games. But in Sm4sh he's just so solid overall and handles really well. 

4. Pikachu 

Has been one of my favorites in every game. I just can't get enough of this adorable little guy. So quick, so cute.

5. Villager 

I'm actually not great with this guy and his play style type is probably my least favorite (spammy, campy, stally). However, I just can't resist his his wonky moves (turnips, bowling ball, PLANTING A TREE???), serial killer eyes, balloon fight homage, and the fact that this guy infuriates Pat to no end. 

I'd say Zero Suit, Yoshi, and Pikachu embody the type of characters I typically like. Quick characters with solid moves and strong aerials. Dedede and Villager are the exceptions but they happen to have strong aerials as well. 

Honorable Mentions

1. Little Mac 

Hands down, my favorite addition to the Smash roster. Wonderful design, delightfully unique, perfect homage. And SO POWERFUL. Those jabs! Those fists of fury! Little Mac would be my favorite and my main if my brother hadn't played the game first and staked his claim. It's okay though. It's better to have a little character diversity between us. Plus, I'll just make extra sure to play characters that annoy him

2. Ness

Like Yoshi, I've never been that fond of Ness in previous games. However, his aerials in this game are awesome and I can't resist good aerials. Still not a fan of that recovery though. 

5. Toon Link

Honestly, I think regular Link is better but I just love how they imported the cel-shaded art style from Wind Waker. Toon Link is adorable and both he and Link have really solid attacks both on the ground and in the air. 

4. Diddy

Solid moves, strong aerials. Actually, it's partially because he's too strong that he's not in my top 5. Considered the strongest character in the game right now, competitive smash is over-saturated with the "HOO-HAH" Diddy. Look, I'm not actually good enough at this game to dominate just because Diddy is top tier but I'd rather not be mistakenly attached to the stigma of being a Diddy main. 

5. Bowser

For some reason, I seem to be more drawn to the heavier, villainous characters in this iteration of Smash. I guess they just feel more powerful in this game and their lack of speed doesn't hinder them as much in this game since it's slower overall compared to Melee. Plus, I like playing as characters Pat hates and King Koopa is another one of them. 

Honorable honorable mentions:

Do I like Bowser Jr. or not? I can't decide. When I first started playing, I considered him one of my top 5 favorite but, admittedly, it may have been mostly because he annoyed Pat. Although, I do enjoy Bowser Jr.'s chaotic play style and heaviness... I think Greninja is solid. Shadow sneak in particular is a really cool move.  Surprisingly, I like ROB. Super strong up-smash, great recovery, quick F-air, and incredible U-air. As much as i prefer not to use projectiles, I like that how straight-forward ROB's are... I have to admit, I like Wario. I didn't want to like him. He's ugly. He's vulgar. But you know what, the goofy fart has won a little spot in my heart. And, my goodness, when he jumps he looks practically graceful... and then he kills you with gas. Wa... Or course I like big Link. And he gets my vote for rad-est alt costumes in the game... I like Mario & Luigi more in this than in previous iterations... I'm not the best with Megaman or Sonic but I really, really appreciate that they imported these incredibly iconic non-Nintendo characters into this game. Megaman's design was extremely well done... Also, Mii Fighter because playing as yourself in Smash is always fun. 

 

 


The Worst

Untitled presentation.jpg

Make me play these 10 characters in a row and playing Smash will almost, almost, feel like a chore. DK has terrible aerials and one of the worst recoveries in the game. I don't mind Wii Fit Trainer as a character but she's just so lackluster. Palutena feels slow and awkward. I don't know how to use Rosa & Luma. I'm glad they gave Zelda a little more flavor but she still feels underwhelming in my hands. Duck Hunt is that epitome of the playstyle that I hate. Super spammy with low killing power. I don't have the patience to play him. And he doesn't have the novelty or aerials of Villager. I've never much liked Lucario as a Pokemon and I just don't "get" him as a Smash character- I don't appreciate his core mechanic, the aura together what I feel are lackluster approach options and range on his attacks. Game & Watch is okay; his armored up smash is baller and his click-clack retro animations are well done but I just don't like playing with him. Glad Charizard is in the game, he's an iconic Pokemon. But he's slow without feeling nearly as powerful as Dedede, Ganon, or Bowser. For Shulk, I'm not a fan of his rather gimmicky core mechanic: the Monado Arts. I don't think they were implemented well and I'm terrible at utilizing them. Dishonorable mentions: Dark Pit, Doctor Mario, Lucina/Marth. These guys are a waste of a character slot. They could have just made them an alternate costume like they did with Alph. KInd of a shame that half of my least favorite characters are the new additions. 

Sunday Siesta

Lately, I've been seeing a lot of facebook posts of my friends at the beach sippin' on a pretty drink. Well, I ain't got time for the beach! I got papers and finals! So I'll just have to make do taking a break for an hour and sitting back on my beautiful new hammock, listening to some smooth jazz, and sipping on some iced tea.

Sunday Shoot

Needed a solo picture of me in more professional-looking clothes for my LinkedIn profile pic so I asked Kelly to help me snap a couple casual pics. I felt awkward but we managed to get a couple decent ones :)

For the First Time In Forever

For the first time in 5 years of college, I'm actually pretty excited about the classes I'm taking next autumn. After this semester, I'll have completed my graduation requirements. However, instead of graduating, I've decided to stay another year. My scholarship is good for two more semesters and I'm not even close to finding a job so this seems like a good way to buy me a little more time, develop skills from classes that I'm actually interested in, and live a college life that I feel like I've missed out on the past 5 years. For the first time in forever, I at least have an inkling of what I want to do. I've been so aimless and unmotivated and depressed up until now, it's such a relief to have even a little direction for at least a year. For the first time in my college career, I actually scheduled my own classes. How is that possible?

Well, in the first couple years, my classes were pretty much completely determined by whichever track I was in. The adviser would tell me exactly which classes I needed and then I would just take them. I was completely disinterested so I just followed the paper that I was given. After that,  I bounced from major to major not knowing what I wanted, completely lost. Scheduling classes filled me with dread and anxiety so Elean would schedule for me. I'm grateful to her for making sure I was in the classes I needed to complete my major and fulfill my requirements. Now that those requirements are filled, I get to spend a year just taking classes that I want to take. And just that feeling of wanting is exciting. I've never even a little wanted to take a class before. This is huge for me; truly a blessing from God. 

For the first time in forever, I think I kinda sorta know what I want. :D

For the first time in forever, I think I kinda sorta know what I want. :D


The Plan

My original plan was to use the extra year to complete a Computer Science minor alongside a couple Design classes. I think that learning a programming language will be a useful, substantive skill applicable to a wide variety of possible jobs that I'd be interested in. Meanwhile, Design is a subject that I've always been interested in and I could also see it being a useful complement to my Communication major. However, I found out that, due to prerequisites, it is impossible to complete a Computer Science minor in just 2 semesters. Therefore, I'm going to do the inverse: complete a Design minor alongside a couple Computer Science classes. 

Other minors I considered but ultimately decided against: 

  • Business - I already have many of the requirements but I've also already completed an Economics minor so I feel like I won't get much more out of a Business minor nor will it make my resume more well-rounded than a Computer Science or Design minor. Majoring in business would have been great. Minoring in it, not as much.
  • Professional Writing - I strongly considered this one purely because one of the classes places you in an internship writing for companies like the Columbus Dispatch. Seems like a really good opportunity. However, I have none of the requirements, I'd have a really heavy workload, and all the classes sound really, really boring. To be honest, I don't have the confidence in myself to be able to succeed in it. Besides, I think I should have learned my lesson about forcing myself into classes that I have no interest in. I could force myself to suffer just to bank on the hope of this internship being worth it, or I can actually enjoy myself taking Design and CSE classes while having free time for Manna and other things. I'm looking into writing for a sporting news/entertainment website over the course of next year. If no one likes my work, I'll build my portfolio by getting serious with sports blogging on my own.
  • Chinese - nah. Actually learning the language is more important than completing a minor in it. I can learn Chinese without a minor. 
  • Statistics - Sounds like it could really be useful. But then I remembered slogging through math and stats classes earlier in my college career and nope'd right out of this idea. 
  • Video Arts - I'm really interested in film editing but it's harder for me to see the usefulness of completing a minor in it. 
  • Film Studies - Love watching movies but then I remembered that I don't need to take a class to watch movies, I can watch them on my own time. It might teach me how to better appreciate certain movies but there are plenty of resources out there that will help me do that. 
  • Creative Writing - Getting better at writing is about practice. I can practice for free. That's what this site if for. 

Schedule:

Autumn Semester 2015

  • 3 Design Classes - Fun
  • 1 CSE Class - Java
  • 1 Film Editing Class - Just want to learn some basics.
  • Boxing - No hard punching :(, but, mostly, I just want to get good at jump-roping. I have no rhythm. 
  • Flag Football - Didn't get to play football in high school, it's my favorite sport to watch, and it's good exercise.

Spring Semester 2016

  • 2 Design Classes - Complete the minor
  • 1 CSE Class - Hope to have a pretty good grasp of Java after this.
  • 1 Economics of Sports Class - Really interested in the financial side of sports which dictates so much of the success (Patriots) or failure (Browns) of a franchise.
  • 2 Chinese credits 
  • 1 Video Editing Class (?) - Don't know if I'll have time.
  • 1 Judo Class - No punching each other in boxing but maybe they'll let us throw each other in Judo? When watching MMA, I've always been more impressed with the take downs and the holds than anything.
  • 1 Volleyball Class - Volleyball is just a good, lifelong sport. Plus it will be good to be able to know a thing or two about it in case I have a daughter who wants to play. Although, I think I'd prefer her to learn soccer or tennis. Vball shorts are a bit... scandalous... Plus, she'll probably be at a height disadvantage. 
  • Social Dance - Waltz, Foxtrot, Tango. I'd fail at Hip Hop but I'd love to be able to dance (well) with my wife at our wedding or take her waltzing XD. Love this scene, by the way. 

Other fun classes I considered:

  • Podcasting - Want to start a podcast with Pat just for fun. Think this would be a good way to learn the basics.
  • Fencing - Sounds cool but it's hard to see me ever having an opportunity to apply these skills ever again in my life.
  • Badminton - Fun, but, again, too niche to spend substantial time getting good at it.
  • Rock Climbing - Really like climbing but I can already climb the climbing walls and I don't see myself going out and scaling actual cliffs. 
  • Ice Skating/Ice Hockey - Learning how to ice skate would be cool. 
  • Racquetball - Most likely wont have access to racquetball courts after OSU. Plus, I can just join Racquetball club if I want to play.
  • Soccer - Hmm.
  • Tennis - This is Pat's sport.
  • Riflery/Archery - Both sounded cool at first but I think the fun would run out pretty fast. 

His Power Made Perfect

This past week, I've been struggling especially hard with feelings of inadequacy. I feel like a chump. For so many reasons (which I won't go into right now), I feel so incompetent, so foolish and weak. I feel so inept and so incapable of doing good. So... lacking. In addition to that, my mind this week has been all over the place- scattered, frenetic, and unable to focus. My heart feels restless and anxious. 

I've been praying hard that God would strengthen me and change me to be a better servant. I've been praying that he would calm my heart and that I would find refuge, rest, and peace in him. I've been trying to write these words on my heart:

2 Corinthians 12:9 - But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Psalm 62:5 - For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.
2 Timothy 1:7 - For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
Philippians 4:6-7 - Do no be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

I've also been trying to calm myself by taking time to just be still and in complete silence, meditating on God and just talking to him. I know he already knows all the things I'm going through but I think just saying them all out loud and listing the all out to him is helpful for me. Not really praying for anything but just confessing: "God, I feel so weak and I'm anxious about this or that and my heart is restless". Sometimes I'm not really sure what to pray but I know that God knows just what I need. I think he sometimes wants us to just admit our struggles to him without necessarily asking him to do something but just knowing that he can and will and he has taken on our burdens. 

To try to combat these feelings of inadequacy, I'm going to count my blessings. Here and now, I'm going to remind myself of all the ways that God, through his grace and mercy, has uplifted me in the past couple of months. Truly, God has lent me his strength and his mighty arm. I can't let these feelings of shame and worthlessness hinder me from carrying the cross.

Philippians 4:13 - I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

The Count

Philippians 4:8 - Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.

As a reminder to myself and as a written testimony of God's strength and power and grace and mercy over the past few months, some of the things I've accomplished and goals I've met:

One

I've lost close to 40 pounds. ~20 pounds in the first 4 weeks since December 26. ~20 more in the 10 weeks following. I posted a picture below. I strongly debated on whether or not to post that because it's not really like me to post an ostentatious topless selfie like that but I figure that the only people will ever see this are my parents and maybe a couple others so it's no biggie. Plus, I have to admit that the side-by-side difference is quite staggering. I'm like half way to qualifying for some kind of weight-loss/fitness commercial.

WP_20150325_23_03_53_Smart.jpg

My goal was to get down to 155 by the end of the year but since I'm already under 150 after 4 months, my new goal is 135. Not sure if that's possible but maybe I'll surprise myself again. I started from 186 pounds as measured when I went to the doctor's for an appointment regarding my back pain. I went back a little over a month later weighing around 160 pounds and the doctor and nurse both thought that they must have weighed me incorrectly the first time. When I got to tell them that there was no mistake, that I actually had lost all that weight in such a short time, I have to admit, it felt pretty good. The doctor was impressed and the nurse asked me how I did it. 

How did I do it?

It started with depression and hopelessness. Starting December 26th, my depression and anxiety got so bad that it was paralyzing to me at times. Feelings of loneliness and worthlessness were overwhelming me. I couldn't sleep, I could barely function. For the next month or so, I got maybe between 1-3 hours of sleep a night. Occasionally my body would finally shut down and let me have around 7 hours, fitful as it was. I legitimately started running because it was harder to feel the pain in my heart with my lungs burning. Being depressed while running was better than being depressed while still. Anything was better than that. So if I felt depressed, I ran. So I ran every day.

There were a few days I missed because my knee infection got pretty bad, but most days I ran on that too. To numb the pain, I ran. Eventually, it became a habit. I ran 34 miles in January. I think I might have run 34 miles in the past 4 years combined. Which brings me to 2.

Two

Running. I have never, even in high school when I was in the best shape of my life, run over 30 miles in a month. Yeah, there are people I know who probably run over 30 in half a week. But not me. This was a pretty big accomplishment for me and no one can take that away from me, not even myself. I did it, there's proof above, and I can't let myself invalidate it or be ashamed of it. 

Another thing: January 8. I ran my first 5k ever. I've never run over 2 miles before. In high school, I was fast, always the fastest player on my team but I was a sprinter not a distance runner. I didn't believe that I could do it. I didn't think it was possible for me after just a couple weeks of running. I didn't plan for it, I just felt good enough after mile 2 to give it a shot. And I did it. It took me 30 minutes but I did it. A week later, I did it again and, a couple weeks later, again. By the 5th time, on February 13th, I was down to 27 minutes. Then, exactly a week later, I shattered that time and ran it in just under 24 minutes. This past week, on Wednesday I shattered that personal best with a time of just over 22 minutes. How in the world am I shaving, not seconds, but minutes off my time? And even more curiously, these past two times in which I've beaten my PR were coming off of around 2 hours of sleep in the previous night. I don't really understand why, but I seem to run better on less sleep. Maybe this is common knowledge among runners, idk. My goal was to get down to a 24 minutes 5k by the end of the year. I'm not sure what my new goal should be. Maybe just to keep running 30-40 miles a month. 

Three

I've been doing a lot better in school. I've been completely aimless and unmotivated these past 4 years and my grades have really, really suffered. Feelings of depression and worthlessness made it hard to focus. But all this should be its whole own blog post so I wont get all into that right now. But I've gotten a 4.0 in the past 2 semesters and I'm on track to finish this one with a 4.0 as well. In addition, by the end of this semester, I'll have essentially finished all my graduation requirements and I will be eligible to graduate. I've decided to stay another year but, again, whole 'nuther blog post. 

Four

Started going to Manna again and I've started to rebuild a lot of the friendships that I felt I had lost. I will write about this more later.

Others

  • Started being more responsible with bills and financial stuff 
  • Regained my scholarship
  • Created this site for myself to practice writing
  • I've been taking better care of my health by going to the doctor
  • Been getting a lot better at cooking, I only eat out like 1 or 2 times a month
  • Keeping my email inbox clean
  • Keeping my room and the kitchen clean
  • Getting better at basketball
  • Scheduled classes for myself (lol)

PS. After writing this, I've decided I want to do each of these justice and go at least a little more in depth with them but, for now, this will suffice. I've got other things I gotta go do!

 

Bumps and Bruises

Been a bit banged up this year...

  • recurring and lingering back and neck pain
  • knee infection
  • sprained thumb (still not fully healed going into week 5)
  • stomach flu
  • insomnia is back

Even so, I'm really thankful to God that none of them have been really serious and I have recovered or am recovering from it all. Plus, he has blessed me with student health insurance!

Let Encouragement Echo

Lately, when someone gives me a compliment I try to force myself to hear it twice. This is because I feel like we often have a habit of shrugging off praise. Meanwhile, we take even the smallest criticisms deeply to heart, even ones that we have fabricated in our own minds.

Sometimes we are too hard on ourselves and beat ourselves up for failures instead of taking time to feel good about ourselves for equal-sized accomplishments. Maybe partially because we hold up our accomplishments against those of others and believe that ours are "accomplishments" since they seem small and ordinary in comparison. But I shouldn't let the highlight reels of others undermine my own achievements. Just because the successes are small, it doesn't mean that they need to be subverted by quotation marks. I need to stop being ashamed of what I have accomplished. My offering to God is imperfect, but an offering nonetheless. I will trust that he can and will use it for his glory.  

Another reason I have a hard time accepting compliments is that I have a hard time believing that I deserve it. For a long time I have struggled with feelings of worthlessness. In my mind, I cannot believe that I could do something our amount to anything worthy of praise. And yet, I realize that this is wrong. Satan uses my insecurities to sabotage the words and acts of encouragement that my loved ones take time and thought to give me. I say that I trust these people (and I do), so I need to try harder to believe them when they tell me that I'm not worthless and when they tell me that I'm important to them. 

On the other side of this, I put a lot of thought and heart into the compliments and encouragement that I give others and I am careful to make sure that I really mean it when give praise. It's important to me that my loved ones know that I speak sincerely because I want to reassure them and comfort them and let them know that I truly love them. 

So now when someone offers me a compliment, I try to hear it twice. I may shrug it off at first or deflect it out of habit, but the second time I try to really hear it and believe that the encouragement from my brother or sister is genuine. Let love pierce through shame and doubt. When Satan tempts me to despair, I will let the kind, uplifting words of my brethren drown out his treacherous accusations. I will let encouragement echo. 

Haircut!

Started getting my hair cut more often:

  • Keeps me feeling fresh; small reminder to not get sloppy.
  • Great way to help me get out of my comfort zone and talk with strangers. Barbers (/hairs stylists?) are pretty great conversationalists; it's pretty much a part of their job! They'll strike up the conversation, it's the least I can do to keep it going. I'm terrible at small talk so I should make good use of this opportunity to practice. 
  • Teaches me to speak up for myself. If I'm not happy with how it looks, I just have to speak up! The stylist wants to make me happy but they can't read my mind. If I want them to adjust something, I just have to tell them. In the past, i would just let it go (hair grows back!) but I think it's better to be assertive in these types of situations. 

Today's stylist was Kim. I never schedule with the same stylist; each one has their own personal flair or favored technique and I think it's kind of fun to get something a little different each time. Hair grows back!