Thursday, December 26, 2013

Best of Vine 2013

So since my last blog post about Vine seemed to be very well received, I decided I'd share some of my favorites from this year. Know that this was extremely difficult and were I to try this on another day, it would probably look completely different. If you ever happen to feel like you could use more of this six second goodness in your life, you can sit down with me any time and I'll have hundreds more to show you. That's an open invitation. In any case, enjoy!

Best Public Humiliation Vine:

Original Poster: Nash Grier
It's the best when people react kindly.

Best Sing-a-Long Vine:

Original poster: Daz_Black
This song will never be the same.

Best Mean Girls Vine:

Original Poster: Zane and Heath
How people come up with this stuff...

Best Miley Cyrus Vine:

Original Poster: Aaron Sanders
Miley Cyrus has easily been the most ridiculed celebrity on Vine for her nude wrecking ball riding, on-stage marijuana smoking, twerking, and midget slapping antics this year. This early one however, is my favorite. Remember how Miley wanted to be a be a bird in the Can't Be Tamed days? This viner helped that dream come true for her.

Best Dog Vine:

Original Poster: Jamie Naylor

Best Inexplicably Funny Vine:

Original Poster: Isiah Willliams
I don't even know what any of the Kardashians sound like, yet this makes me laugh every time. Literally

Best Interactive Vine:

Original Poster: Brittlestar
Do as he says.

Best Vine That Created Lingo:

Original Poster: KingBach
I'm sure somebody will try to tell me that this wasn't the beginning of this usage of "tho" but I am positive that the frequency of its usage multiplied exponentially after this vine was posted.

Best Fail Vine:

Original Poster: Mattieu Serour
This was a really hard choice, but in the end I suppose this one makes me laugh the hardest. There are HUNDREDS more where this came from.

Best "Don't Drop That Thun Thun Thun" Vine:

Original Poster: Haley Hollister
This song became a sleeper hit in the summer, largely in part of the thousands and thousands of vines of users dropping "that thun thun thun." This one trumped them all.

Best Indoor Prank Vine:

Original Poster: WildJoshy
Her eyes tho...

Best Beyoncé Vine:

Original Poster: Landon Moss
Beyoncé is probably the second most ridiculed celebrity on Vine after Miley Cyrus. This was another difficult one to pick. Viners Simone Shepherd and Skye Townsend do spot on impersonations of her, but this one was admittedly the most clever.

Best Puppetry Vine:

Original Poster: Awkward Puppets
This is just another example of how golden six second comedic timing is.

Best Voice-Over Vine:

Original Poster: BWONNA
Again, how do people come up with this stuff?

Best Racial Stereotype Vine:

Original Poster: Simone Shepherd
Vine is loaded with racial stereotype promoting material. Some is offensive, a lot is baseless, and a good amount of it, like this one, is harmless fun. So long as we all have a sense of humor.

Best Vine I Want to Try:

Original Poster: Michael LoPriore
Because, why not?

Best Thrift Shop Vine:

Original Poster: Richy Dimov
Variations on this measure of this song are all over Vine, but this one with JLaw rules them all.

Best Jordan Burt Vine:

Original Poster: Jordan Burt
If you read my last Vine post, you know Jordan Burt is my favorite viner. He went on hiatus for a little while but came back stronger than ever right at the end of the year.

Best Wardrobe Malfunction Vine:

Original Poster: OneThousandandOut
They couldn't have paid someone for a better reaction.

Best T-Rex Vine:

Original Poster: Kc James
Because Kc James is always fantastic.

The Next Best Voice-Over Vine:

Original Poster: AllliCattt
Because I just had to include this one.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve 2013

Hi, me in a couple years when I come back to read this. I haven't posted in a long time. Here's what's on my mind this Christmas:

I look forward to watching this skit every stinking year. I still don't know what it is about Kristen Wiig as Katharine Hepburn to me that is just simply and eternally perfect.

I just love sweaters this year, I've decided. And I've bought so many.

This was a great find last year that I'm sure I'll come back to again and again.

I went to the Beyoncé concert in Las Vegas and it was everything. We got upgraded to the VIP area. Yes I held her hand. But even further on MULTIPLE occasions she looked into my eyes, I looked into her's, we connected, and we were aware of each other. And I couldn't ask for anything more. I'd write a whole post about this, but it's honestly kind of sacred (no, I'm not trying to make you laugh, I'm being dead serious) to me. Maybe if a ton of people come forward and want me to write about it, I will, but for now if you want to know the details, ask me. It pays to #BeyGood.

Some people need to see Elf every Christmas. I can go without. But I can't go without this one.

I just loved this movie. Say what you will about the screenplay, the music is the most complete and shameless return to musical theatre format in a Disney musical since Mulan. Idina Menzel should've joined the ranks of Lea Salonga, Judy Kuhn, Jodi Benson, Anika Noni Rose, and Paige O'Hara years ago.

It's been a wonderful year for Disney. I was nervous about this one, and it completely delivered. Any movie with Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks is bound to be a good film, but everything about this one was great. I happen to love the Walt Disney Company and Mary Poppins in particular, but even if you don't, this movie is for you. Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks both give Oscar-worthy performances, but the bound to be unsung performance is Collin Farrell who I've never taken seriously before. He was utterly devastating in this.

I might be headed back to this wonderful city in the spring. It feels right. 日本人の皆さん遊ぼう!

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Well, it is November...

  • Running water.
  • The abuelita at Wendy's that went to hand me my food, felt how lukewarm my fries were, threw them away and got me hot ones.
  • Teachers who look out for me and have my best interests in mind, even when I don't.
  • Insulation.
  • Teachers that give me second chances and allow me to turn in late work.
  • Teachers that are just plain inspiring.
  • Co-workers.
  • Family that provides and doesn't really care to know why.
  • Cleanliness.
  • Study buddies.
  • Genuine compassion and connectivity.
  • The countless on campus resources that assist me in my education that I am finally starting to find and take advantage of.
  • Words of the prophets.
  • A vehicle that runs, starts most of the time, smells nice, and doesn't lose a part every time it is driven.
  • Vine.
  • A computer that doesn't burn me from overheating, weighs less than 10 pounds, and doesn't sporadically shut on top of my fingers.
  • Food.
  • Pink freakin' Lady Apples.
  • Works of art that particularly touched me this year namely: next to normal, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Hunger Games Trilogy, Beasts of the Southern WildWonder, Rabbit Hole, and Ragtime
  • All of the books I had time to read over the summer, for that matter.
  • Endless opportunities.

Monday, October 21, 2013

I am legitimately terrified.

So THIS just happened.

I'm in the library right now. Should be studying, was of course checking Facebook and saw this being shared by several people:

I'm just sitting here with this book open:

And I laughed because I figured the answer would be something about the changes in political and social structure between the Nara and Meiji Era. Well, instead, I opened to page 45, and (really, you guys, I'm scared) this happened:

"He vowed to her that she should be his love in this and in all future lives, and she answered so passionately that she seemed utterly transformed from the listless creature he had known, and it was hard to believe that such vows were no novelty to her."


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

ôkwərd - "causing or feeling embarrassment or inconvenience"

Dear Universe,

Why must there be multiple routes to a single destination? I suppose this can be become philosophical and we could get into agency and destiny, and yada yada. I'm talking I want to get into a specific room in a specific five story building. Do you not realize that when I have to walk there with somebody else, the route they normally take is DIFFERENT FROM MINE?!  We then have to have this painful silent communication of "oh you go that way? I usually go this way...I think my way is faster...but I'm fine with your way...I'm fine with you taking the lead in our class project...but I like my doesn't matter, after all we're going to the same place...right?" all whilst side-stepping and juking like it's our job. Guh.

Dear Facebook Event,

So I don't post anything on Facebook anymore. Now the only people who really monitor (or at least make their presence known) my Facebook profile are over 40 and that for some reason translates to frightened turtle behavior for me. Anyway, as far as events, I'm super OCD and have to clean out any red (notifications, messages, event invites) when I log in or else I...I just have to. So typically when I get invited to an event, I'm not sure if I'm attending. I'm usually not particularly inclined to attend, nor am I against attending, but I am definitely against replying "maybe" and looking indecisive or superior. So usually I just hit the x and remove myself from the event without replying. And then I forget about it all together and don't attend. But sometimes not judge me...want to remain amongst the invited people even if I know I'm not planning on attending. I guess this is just the 14 year old in me BEGGING to be accepted. See what you do to me Facebook? I guess you also help me stay connected to people I probably wouldn't ever see in the flesh half-way around the world so I can't live without you but....guh.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

September 22, 1827

"On the twenty-second day of September, one thousand eight hundred and twenty-seven, having gone as usual to the place where [the plates] were deposited, the same heavenly messenger delivered them up to me with this charge: that I should be responsible for them; that if I should let them go carelessly, or through any neglect of mine, I should be cut off; but that I would use all my endeavors to preserve them, until he, the messenger, should call for them, they should be protected."

-Joseph Smith

September 22, 2010

"I'm here. I'm surprised by how little journal writing time we have. They've had us going at 100 miles per hour since we stepped into the building. Saying goodbye was fine. I didn't look back. Not sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing. I haven't really had time to process what is really happening. I still can't quite believe that I'm really here, I'm wearing a name tag and that this is really happening."

"Lift up your heart and rejoice, for the hour of your mission has come; and your tongue shall be loosed and you shall declare glad tidings of great joy unto this generation."  - Doctrine and Covenants 31:3

September 22, 2011

"A year ago today, I put on that name tag for the first time. It's gone by so fast, but at the same time it almost makes the end seem further away.

To be honest, I do feel like I've come and learned a lot and done what I could to bring others to Christ and wouldn't regret anything if I were to go home now. When I think about how much Japanese I can speak and understand now, I truly feel like the Lord loves and knows me specifically. The great thing is that all of that should double. Twice as much joy, twice as much satisfaction, twice as many blessings. That's why I'm more than ready to tackle this next half.

We ate at a 88円 回転寿司. That was good."

September 22, 2012

"Two years. I feel like it'd be appropriate to do some sort of sappy entry but I don't have time.

Today was preparation day, but it wasn't really a day off. 12時から3時までは教会の裏の家にKorean Food の活動があって、4時から高村姉妹のバプテスマ会がありました。。。。さんが全部に出席しました。バプテスマ会が終わって会員としゃべたりして、7時半にレッスンを教えました。疲れました。最近感じているけど伝道の期間が終わってほしくない気持ちが強いけど伝道に対する望は残念ながら少ない。なぜか。複雑な気持ちです。失敗したというように感じたくはないけど、多分明日起きたら気分がすらっと変わるかな。”

October 12, 2012

"I'm in Seattle about to get on the last plane to Salt Lake.

Today (back in time, weird) we ate breakfast, laughed a lot, said goodbye to everyone in the office, and then the Zinkes drove us to the ferry. They hugged us and then waved to us in the distance. Seeing their small figures across the water to me was magical. I felt like I was in a movie.

I'm just so grateful for these two years I've been given. It was unbelievably difficult, but the reward is so great. I've never felt as grateful as I do now at this very moment. How grateful I am for a loving Heavenly Father who places angels in our lives to love us and strengthen us. How grateful I am to have had the opportunity to be that help. It's worth it. He lives and loves us and if we give all that we have to the cause, he will bless us more than we have room to receive. I loved my mission. Jesus is the Christ, so come what may."

September 22, 2013 - Today

And yet another year goes by, just as fast as ever. This is still the best thing that I ever did.

I'm not getting any younger and life certainly isn't giving me time to catch my breath. I've got a lot to look forward to, but I'm so glad that I know that I don't expect to be any more or less happy in the past or future than I am now. "I'll be happy when..." just isn't what I do anymore. 

"Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety of hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast; always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God."

-Ether 12:4

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

When a couple goes Facebook official:

When I realize (via Facebook) a couple has broken up:

Every time I come across a protected Instagram account:

When I watch pretty much any Mormon Message:

When I read the comments on any YouTube video that has anything to do with Mormons:

What happens at one point or another as I pass 7 fast food restaurants on my walk home everyday:

How I accept any compliment:

And here's a bonus of Queen Bey getting ripped off the stage in Sao Paulo:

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

First Week of School Tender Mercies

  • Friends in my hardest class that also live in my apartment complex. Study buddies.
  • Being able to take Doctrine & Covenants from my Marriage and Family (which by the way was the best class I've ever taken...I wish I had time to blog about it) professor from summer term.
  • Public restrooms that have barriers between urinals. 
  • Professors that know my name even before I've met them.
  • Clean roommates.
  • Hardest classes and most homework yet, has luckily translated to more motivation to be responsible for me.
  • A couple stress-relieving classes.
  • A great job and yet another free all-sports pass (even I won't call that a ROC Pass), this time with football.
  • Today I had classes from 9AM to 1PM and had to work from 1PM to 5PM and didn't pack a lunch. I can make myself a near Food TV caliber dinner when I want to, but packing food is a domestic skill I still haven't acquired. Anyway, at about 2, somebody showed up at work and said "hey want a pizza?" and handed an entire pizza through the ticket window. I'm not kidding. This happened.
I kind of resent when people over-use the phrase "tender mercy." Oh well.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

August 24, 2012

"I can't believe that I am about to enter my last transfer. Coming close to the end has allowed me some time to reflect here and there. A positive attitude and repentance have really saved my mission now that I'm winding down to the end. As I look back on my mission, as a whole I see it as a trial of my faith. I think I had a very strong testimony of the gospel before I left, and for that reason, this time has become a test and I am now able to finally be grateful for it. It wasn't easy, but I can say that I'm stronger now than I was before. There is still some recovery that needs to take place for things that have happened in these two years. I realize that as well. That may take time after my mission...or maybe it will always be a part of me.

I love 1 Nephi 20: 10: 

 "For behold I have refined thee; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction."

I love the imagery. I liked myself before my mission, but I'm a different person now. I've been refined by fire. I'm a different shape. It doesn't necessarily mean that I'm better or worse...just different. It may not be what I want, but it's what Heavenly Father wants and needs me to be. I've started to accept that. I really feel like I needed to be here in order to realize that."

Sunday, August 4, 2013

"A glimpse of a better world, or at least a happier one."

Friday night I, very last minute (as in, I bought the tickets and had to leave ten minutes later in order to make it in time) decided to see Bruno Mars' Moonshine Jungle Tour concert at the Maverik Center in West Valley.

I really didn't know much about this guy. "Nothin' on You" was the song you couldn't escape right before I left on my mission, so when I came back, the name "Bruno Mars" struck a familiar ring, but meant nothing else to me.

This performance on TV a couple months ago caught my attention:

It was basically having this performance in mind and the availability of affordable tickets (and giving my brother his first concert experience) that got me to that arena.

I feel that the older I get, the less expressive I can be with words. Instead of trying to describe what I experienced, I want to echo every last word of this review by NPR.

I'm going to use some excerpts from it.

"Mars has released two sparkling albums full of radio friendly pop, 2010's Doo-Wops and Hooligans and last year's Unorthodox Jukebox. You can't escape the sound of his voice or his sensibility, but though he's dismissed by many as a mere song-crafter, Mars is actually the moment's most valuable pop historian. In his songs we see the whole history of melodic music you can dance to, from Tin Pan Alley to his beloved early-'60s pop to that '80s moment when new wave and R&B collided. His sound is also wonderfully international, interspersing reggae and Latin influences with the swagger of hip-hop."

Maybe I was born in the wrong era, but I find it extremely difficult to find my identity in contemporary music. Lately I haven't really loved the mellow, poetic, alternative rock (The Postal Service, Stars, etc.) that used to be "my thing."  Melodic, jovial, music that is sung is a huge rarity in not just popular music, but in current music, period. I don't enjoy the deafening themes and beats of dubsteb and most current hip-hop. I can't sit still or even stay awake and listen to an artist whisper their lyrics (no matter how poetic) to me like I used to. And I certainly don't enjoy (never have) auto-tune.

 "...Mars asserts his own humanity by stressing his skills and grace as a musician. Instead of the almost musical theater-like atmosphere of most current arena tours, this one focuses on the basic unit of post-midcentury pop: the band. As Mars and his mates bust synchronized moves and admire each others playing, their delight is our delight."
It's the melodic jazz, blues, and soul of decades past that moves me. These artists were singers that sung from the top to the bottom of their ranges. They belted, they were backed by real instruments, they danced, and they crossed all boundaries. Their voices were their talent. Their voice was what they had to showcase; no need for whistles and bells. I feel that this kind of music is a tragically dead genre. Or at least I thought that until Friday night.

Oh and by the way, Bruno played lead guitar for nearly half the set. Not just a couple chords to make him look cool, he carried the melody, played solos and power chords, all while dancing. He also played a mean drum solo for the encore. I had no idea he could do that...

"It's just that old thing that art occasionally offers: a glimpse of a better world, or at least a happier one. Lately I've been struggling to cope with all the complicated and painful news that's come our way; maybe you have, too. The verdict in the Trayvon Martin case has led to many crucial but painful conversations about race. The bankruptcy of Detroit — the city where so much great pop music has been made — inspires worries about the state of urban America and the growing distance between our rich and our poor. Recent events in the Texas House of Representatives highlight how deep our political divisions have become. For an average citizen, this is a lot to deal with."
I'm fine with artists being social activists. Really. In fact I think it's a necessity. But we (or maybe just I) need this kind of art as well. The kind that is simply an escape. The kind that just makes you dance.

"Unlike many headliners, however, Mars roots his spectacle in the act of generating a groove... Mars doesn't set himself apart from his eight-piece band: he dresses like them, dances in sync with their steps, and lets them enjoy significant moments in the spotlight...
This emphasis on camaraderie onstage affected the atmosphere in the whole arena. I've been to plenty of big shows where everybody joined in the revelry, but this might have been the first one where I saw no impropriety, no disregard for others' feelings, no unwarranted aggression. As I danced, the woman behind me smilingly encouraged me to put down my pocketbook and shake my hips.... A family a few rows away, including a pint-sized brother and sister in their Sunday best, took selfies and waved their hands in the air. "
Okay, I'll retract that statement. WE need this kind of music. I saw strikingly similar behavior at the concert I attended. People were striking up conversation with strangers, dancing with each other and taking group pictures as favors. Many of these groups were families.
 "Her dad [the author's daughter] noted that this was the first concert we'd all attended together by an artist we'd all discovered at the same time... Bruno Mars is a family-style pop star because — like a century's worth of master manipulators of the double entendre — he grasps the connection between grown-up thrills and childish giggles. Think of Mars' first idol, Elvis Presley, slyly winking and shaking his hips. In today's hyper-sexual pop world, such innuendo is so gentle that it charms the parents and doesn't scare their kids. 
From Just Jared
 Mars's fans, incidentally, were as diverse as it gets: Asian, African-American, Latino and white. Mars himself is half Puerto-Rican and half-Filipino, and his band is mostly African-American... being in that room, joining in the dance, allowed me to imagine the America I want to live in every day: tolerant, aware, kind."
Can I say that again? WE NEED THIS.
"I wouldn't make too much of this feeling — it's the kind of thing that overtakes many crowds in the midst of simultaneous enjoyment — but what makes Mars's show special is that the music itself provides a basis for believing in love and grace across the lines of identity. It's often been said that Mars's songs are derivative; he borrows heavily from throughout the history of black pop from gospel to hip-hop, and as he himself said in concert, he named his first album Doo Wops & Hooligans because he's "in love with old school music." Instead of feeling stale, however, in concert Mars's traditionalist tendencies reminded us that popular music has been the main symbolic meeting ground for people who otherwise might not have ever left their own neighborhoods. "
Identity. I think that's the operative word here. That's my problem. I've tried so hard to create an identity for myself through music. I've tried so hard since perhaps junior high school to have mutual interests with my peers in music especially. WHAT GOOD IS THAT?! It's one thing to be open, to take recommendations, and to try new things, but IDENTITY should be 100% rooted in an individual. I'd much rather make friends through differing interests rather than my interests be limited to those that are shared by my "friends."

I listen to music for me. And it's terribly sad that society will try to pigeon-hole you or try to stick a label sticker on you based strictly on your taste in music. If you like Bon Iver and Elliot Smith, you're hipster. If you like rap (and are a Utah caucasian), you're a bro. If you're female and like Katy Perry and Rihanna, you're dumb. If you're male and like pop or R&B solo artists, you're gay. If you like screamo, you're probably on drugs or cutting yourself. Why, why, WHY do we do this?!
" ...I think it's...fair to hope that all of us who shouted along with one of his most-loved ballads of sweet romantic uplift were able to carry forward the message contained within the evening's grooves, and in that case, made explicit in its chorus. Look at each other, concertgoers. Thank Bruno Mars for helping each of us take the risk to believe this about each other: you're amazing, just the way you are."
Preach Bruno. I'm definitely a fan now.

Click below to see the full video:

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Vine Lovin'

I just needed to let everyone know how much I love Vine. Yes, you read that right. I'm still using Vine. I'm actually looking at and enjoying it more than Instagram. I hardly ever post, but I browse it all day. It's replaced my YouTube browsing. It's all of the hilarity and creativeness of the YouTube community condensed into 6 seconds. No ads, no "never gonna give you up", no top comments, no music videos. The 6 second limit forces creativity and tends to be the perfect comedic timing. It's created a very clever and artistic, comedic community. Just look at these:

Original Poster: Jordan Burt
This is my favorite Vine poster. Many of you will recognize the scenery. He's a Provo resident.

Original Poster: Marcus Johns
Marcus is probably the most popular user on Vine. He seems busy now, but his earlier stuff was hilarious. Even if he were just to make vines of clouds from here on out, he'd still have his million followers.

Original Poster: Bo Burnham
This one never gets old.

Original Poster: Princess Lauren
This is a teenager with a well-adjusted sense of humor.

Original Poster: Kc James
He and Jordan Burt make a great team.

Original Poster: Landon Moss
Another one of my favorite users. 

Original Poster: Chloe Fey
Apparently this one made the rounds among Junior High Kids through one of those "Best of Vine" Facebook pages (you all should just get the app instead of liking those pages so we can still get funny videos like this; descending the soapbox now...) This is still hilarious though. Probably the only funny face video that made me hurt myself from laughter.

Original Poster: Jackson Holland
This is the one that got me hooked.

Original Poster: AYZEE
This took forever to film.

Some users (some are listed above) I'd recommend:

Jordan Burt
Marcus Johns
Landon Moss*
Simone Shepherd*
Kc James
Princess Lauren
Liane V
Trey Kennedy
Jerry Purpdrank
Brittany Furlan*
Jerome Jarre
Eric Dunn*
Curtis Lepore
Trampwall Sam
Michael Lopriore*
Meagan Cignoli
Bo Burnham*
    *Strong language. Sensitive readers, steer clear.

    That should keep you busy. #savevine.

    Wednesday, July 10, 2013

    July 10, 2012

    A year ago today:

    "During the lesson he talked about how he 「人と長く付き合えない」(can't have lasting relationships with people) and how that's the source of his psychological issues. That really sent an arrow through my heart. I think I had, actually still, very much have that problem. I can't let go. My dad sent me a picture of *names withheld* , gag. But beside the point, it really made me miss my life before the mission and nearly put me into mourning thinking about how things simply won't be the same when I get back. I can't deny that it makes me sad. I know that if I let Christ be my friend, I'll always be guided to the people I need to be around, I just really am sad that there have to be goodbyes. Enough. Head up, move forward. There are many many angels that have brought me this far and it's too late to turn back and chase them now. I just pray that they won't fade away." 

    Monday, July 8, 2013

    So, my body changes shape like nobody's business. I've come to realize that even though I can always make healthier choices (and I'm always trying to) a huge part of this fluctuation is beyond what I can control. And I'm okay with that. I'd rather look good as opposed to bloaty, but I think I'm grown up enough to be able to not let my physical appearance bear any weight (ha) on my self-esteem.

    My real issue? Clothing. Here's just some perspective. Towards the end of my mission (the picture above on the right) I couldn't find a belt tight enough to keep my pants on. My clothes all fit like parachutes but I was okay with it because I knew I would be going home soon and would be throwing most of them away because they were so worn out. When I went back to Tokyo in November, I went shopping with my Grandma and was truly unaware of what my pant size was. Obviously, I was going to need a new wardrobe in that I wasn't wearing white shirts and slacks everyday anymore. I came home with two pairs of jeans at waist size 29. 

    I haven't really bought pants since then until last week. I picked up a pair of shorts and decided to be generous with myself. I bought them in a 32 waist, my size before I left on my mission. I was pretty sure I had gained weight and needed to compensate for that (I'm guessing my jeans have kind of stretched with me because I can still fit into them comfortably). Long story short: I haven't worn them. 5 inches in 9 months ya'll. But just you wait, I bet in a month or so I'll be able to slap those things on no problem. 

    This didn't really have a punchline. Just some monologue that's been happening as I've been cleaning out and organizing some images on my computer. Move along.

    Wednesday, June 19, 2013

    The Comparison: Tokyo vs. Anaheim

    In my family, Disney barely comes in second to Jesus.

    I pegged this saying quite a while ago and it's still oh so very true. My family vacations to Disneyland in Anaheim, California at least once a year, my parents usually going two or three times during the year. My dad also just happens to have work conventions in Disney World in Orlando from time to time, PLUS whenever one of us is visiting our family in Tokyo, we always squeeze in time for Tokyo Disney Resort.

    I visited Tokyo Disney Resort back in October and I just returned from three days in Anaheim yesterday. (Update: so this was six months ago...but I just once again returned from Anaheim last week so this is all of a sudden relevant again.)

    I've been to both Disneyland in Anaheim (日本語) and Tokyo Disneyland (日本語)many many times and I'm often asked about the differences between them? Is it the same? Is it different? Is it bigger? Is it smaller? The answer to almost every question is a yes and no, so I thought I'd get them all out of the way by writing them down. There's no way that I can cover it all, but I'll try to provide you with the basics.

    1. Both Disneyland and Tokyo Disneyland have sister-parks.

    Most everyone that's been to Disneyland within the last ten years knows that it has a companion theme park, California Adventure, just next door. Tokyo Disneyland is the same, it's partner being Tokyo DisneySea. No, it's not a water park and yes, it's much much cooler than you think.

    California Adventure went through a major overhaul while I was on my mission and I was very impressed with the improvements. California Adventure was originally built on a budget and when it first opened, it showed. A lot of the rides were built cheap with very little immersive environment and theme making it feel like just another amusement park you can find anywhere in the country. With a complete overhaul of the entrance of the park that features a replica of the historic Carthay Circle Theater (where Walt Disney premiered the first ever full-length animated feature film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs), an entirely new area (Cars Land) and some touch-ups to the carnival rides in Paradise Pier, California Adventure feels like a very Disney experience.

    DisneySea on the other hand was built with zero inhibitions. It was built in 2001 and at that time, Tokyo Disneyland was the highest profiting amusement park in the world, thus the park was built on a budget of roughly 4 billion dollars, the most expensive amusement park in history. DisneySea is a unique experience you can't have anywhere else on earth. The attention to detail is impeccable. You could spend an entire day just breathing in the atmosphere, not riding any rides and you'd be satisfied. I would, at least.

    No visit to Tokyo is complete without a trip to DisneySea for me. I absolutely love Tokyo Disneyland and go as often as I can, but DisneySea cannot be matched or replicated. If you only have one day in Tokyo to go to either Disneyland or DisneySea, pick the latter.

    2. The "Disneyland" parks are also different.

    This will make a little bit more sense to those who have visited both Disneyland and Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Disneyland is the original. It was built in 1955 and has of course gone through many changes and makeovers throughout the years, but a lot of its original charm is still intact. It's the only Disney park that features the pink Sleeping Beauty castle which is much smaller than its Florida and Tokyo counterparts.

    Tokyo Disneyland is much more similar to the Magic Kingdom in Disney World. Its centerpiece is identical: the massive blue and white Cinderella castle. Tokyo Disneyland was built in 1980 and in comparison was designed to handle much larger crowds than its California counterpart. The walkways are much wider and everything is generally bigger in scale. Of course, for someone that hasn't been to either park, you could say there are more similarities than differences. Both feature a castle in the center, Main Street USA (World Bazaar in Tokyo), Adventureland, Tomorrowland, Frontierland, Toon Town, etc.

    If you were to ask my personal preference, I prefer Disneyland. It's the original, and that counts. There is so much history and so much charm. If you close your eyes you can almost see the 1950's women in dresses and men in suits with their children, square dancing in the plaza. You can almost hear Walt Disney proclaiming "to all who come to this happy place, welcome" as you enter the gates. Plus, it has more unique rides that can't be found anywhere else.

    As for rides, the lists are comparable. They have many of the same rides although for the most part, none of them are carbon copies. They have slight and subtle differences that make the comparison really fun for us die-hards. Disneyland's unique attractions include the Matterhorn and Submarine Voyage while Tokyo Disneyland has Pooh's Hunny Hunt (I can't stand Winnie the Pooh, but this is the most incredible ride I've ever been on) and Monster's Inc. Ride and Go Seek. 

    Here are the lists of attractions:
    Tokyo Disneyland

    3. Shopping and Dining

    Many first-time Disney visitors that I talk to come back complaining about the food, whether it be quality or price. Quite simply, they're not doing it right. There are plenty of really great options at decent prices for what you get. You do have to do your research and be smart about where and what you eat.

    Both Tokyo and Anaheim resorts have wonderful dining options, but they do vary. In general, Disneyland has really big portion sizes. Of course, Disney food is never cheap, but particularly on my visit this week, I felt like I ate too much.

    The food at Tokyo Disney Resort is even higher in quality, but the portion sizes are much smaller. 

    Overall, I prefer Disneyland's merchandise by miles, but I'm willing to bet that Tokyo makes much more money on merchandise. Why? Behold:

    4. The Guests

    Disneyland was the first park of its kind and for that reason has remained a tourist destination for all. There are plenty of locals that visit Disneyland, but one of its most striking features at any time you visit is the diversity of the guests. People from EVERYWHERE come to see the original Happiest Place on Earth in all of its historic charm.

    Tokyo on the other hand is dominated by locals and it is much more crowded. Much, much, much, much, seriously...MUCH MORE CROWDED. Very few people in the Tokyo Disney Resort are first-timers and they know their way around. Fast-passes (ask someone who knows if you just lost me) run out for all rides in the afternoon typically. Also, going back to the merchandise: most of these visitors have been to the parks multiple times so they're looking for special seasonal items. They're also looking for gifts (sweets, mostly) to give to their friends and co-workers. It's a Japanese custom to return with gifts when you take a vacation. Therefore, the merchandise here is not tourist friendly. There's very little lettering or "proof that I was here" merchandise, which is usually what my family and friends want me to bring home. It's kind of generic.

    5. The Culture

    Simply put, Japanese culture demands impeccable customer service and Disney is the crown jewel in the customer Yeah. Really though, the employees at Tokyo Disney Resort are the most helpful and friendly service people (collectively) that I have ever encountered anywhere. Disneyland's great, but they are no match for Japanese customer service. This difference is immediately noticeable. 

    Hopefully this answers these frequently asked questions. Honestly, this barely even scratches the surface. I need an entire afternoon to fully elaborate on the differences. If you ever want to just hear someone talk eternally about Disney parks, you've found your man. Seriously though, let me know if you have questions, want advice/suggestions, or want to go  Disney-ing sometime. I'm always ready.

    If you want a comprehensive comparison of parks I HIGHLY recommend these three articles:

    Round 1
    Round 2
    Round 3
    The Rematch (current)

    These were written forever ago, but I think are still an accurate comparison and depiction of each Disney park; plus they're really fun to read.

    Friday, May 31, 2013

    Confessions, Pt. 1

    I loath Wal-Mart and everything that it stands for. This isn't the confession part. I've been open about this for longer than I can remember. I always do everything in my power to stay out of that establishment.

    During my freshman year of college, I developed a really good habit of running usually between 9 and 10 PM. The ritual included coming home, taking a luke warm shower and then eating four or five spoonfuls of Haagen Dazs mango sorbet. This is still perhaps my only expensive, snooty luxury I indulge myself in. I can't even begin to tell you what that did to me. It felt like I was getting an extra hour of sleep every night because of how refreshed I felt after that routine.

    I haven't been able to find Haagen Dazs mango sorbet since being home from my mission. I bought a generic brand they sell at Smith's and it didn't even come close to doing the trick. If anything it did the reverse. It just felt like canceling out the exercise I did because it was so heavy.

    So...last night I found out that on Haagen Dazs website you can locate flavors in stores by zip code. Any guesses as to the only place that sells mango sorbet within 20 miles of me is? Yep. I ended up in Wal-Mart in sweats, flip-flops, and wet hair a little after 11 last night. Please don't put me on People of Wal-Mart.

    Saturday, May 25, 2013

    “It's strange because sometimes, I read a book, and I think I am the people in the book.”

    Every time I feel affected by something I come running to my blog and think "I have so many feels! Share the feels!" but when I come to write it I can never quite express it in a way that feels appropriate or interesting or relevant or exciting. I feel like I'm just trying to tell a bunch of dogs how great kitty liter is. You just can't understand it. I can't make anyone feel what I felt. So I suppose this is just for me to come back to and enjoy every now and then.

    I'm out of school and have rediscovered my love for reading fiction. I really wish I could keep doing it during school, but there just isn't time (more like initiative) to do it. Just like every summer of my primary education, I'm blazing through books.

    I read The Perks of Being a Wallflower and just loved it. I've certainly chuckled at finding scenarios comparable to my life in books from time to time. There have been times when certain expressions and characteristics remind me of myself or someone I know. This story felt like it was taken from my mind. It was like I knew exactly how everything was going to play out, not because it was formulaic, but because I had experienced it. Not necessarily the circumstances, but the ideals, emotions, aspirations, and desires of the main character.

    The novel is written in the protagonist, Charlie's voice and it only took about 20 pages for Charlie's voice and my voice to merge in my mind. I had never experienced this before. Charlie was me, I was Charlie. This happened in my brain long before I found the quotation in the title of this post which by the way was one of the coolest aha moments I've ever had.

    I related to this character on so many levels it was like climbing a skyscraper. I've always preferred observing to "participating." I've always been content so long as everyone else is happy. I don't know how else to express this, you should just read the book.

    Like so many other coming-of-age/young adult novels, this one had lots of heavy content in it. Lots. I've read books that grossed me out and offended me before. I think written language can be so much more foul than visual because it doesn't have to be physically created. This book, however, never offended me. If anything it  just reinforced principles and standards that I have set for myself in stone, but then on top of that, taught me how to love and accept everyone. 

    It made me want to be so much more than I am. It's made me look inward, but at the same time made me feel this sense of urgency to step outward.

    I saw the movie tonight as well, same day I finished the book. It's fantastic. You should see it, but read the book first if you can. It's the best novel to film adaptation in my memory. It does help that the author wrote the screenplay AND directed it. I mean, the screenplay is one thing, but he directed it! How cool is that? The performances were stellar all around. Charlie's purity, charity, and innocence translated perfectly to the screen.

    And, you guys, can we just appreciate Emma Watson for a second? Emma Watson, guys and gentlemen:

    Her accent didn't bother me one bit. Not. At. All. I can't picture anyone else as Sam.

    Anyway. Yeah, this book has tons of literary merit and stuff. Yeah. 

    I just hope someone else will find this and hopefully pick up the book and have something remotely close to what I experienced. That would make me happy.

    I think the idea is that every person has to live for his or her own life and then make the choice to share it with other people. You can't just sit there and put everybody's lives ahead of yours and think that counts as love. You just can't. You have to do things. I'm going to do what I want to do. I'm going to be who I really am. And I'm going to figure out what that is. And we could all sit around and wonder and feel bad about each other and blame a lot of people for what they did or didn't do or what they didn't know. I don't know. I guess there could always be someone to blame. It's just different. Maybe it's good to put things in perspective, but sometimes, I think that the only perspective is to really be there. Because it's okay to feel things. I was really there. And that was enough to make me feel infinite. I feel infinite.