In one month from today, Emily and I will be in Thailand. We leave Cincinnati on April 5th, have layovers in Chicago and Seoul, South Korea, and then arrive in Phuket, Thailand after about twenty-four hours of travel. We will be in Thailand for one month, making it back to Cincinnati on May 6th.
We don’t have many plans for the trip. We know we want to spend a lot of time on the beaches and there is a school/orphanage/hotel/restaurant that we want to visit. Other than that, it’s pretty much wide-open.
The tentative plan goes something like this....
1. Arrive in Phuket on the 6th and spend the night there. This is the only night that we have a hotel room booked ahead for the entire trip. We figured it would be nice to know where we are going when we get off the plan and try to get our bearings.
2. After a day or two in Phuket, make our way to Yaowawit School (the aforementioned orphanage) in the village of Kapong. Kapong is in the jungle, about 100 miles north of Phuket. We aren’t sure how long we will stay there. Probably a couple of days.
3. After this, we will head northeast toward the gulf coast. The goal is to make it to the island of Ko-Phangan (the smaller island just above Ko Samui). We are looking forward to renting a motorcycle and exploring the island for a week or two. It’s lined with great beaches and some small towns, while most of the interior of the island is mountainous jungle. We will probably visit some of the other islands in the area while we are there. We have some friends who honeymooned there a while back. They basically said that Ko-Phangan is beautiful and peaceful, but there isn’t a ton to do. After a couple of weeks of serious relaxing, they were ready to get back on the road.
4. After Ko-Phangan, the plan gets pretty cloudy. We will likely hop on a train and make our way south to the Malaysian border. We would like to cross over for the day, and then begin making our way back up the western coast. We’ve found some pretty sweet looking places along that coast including secluded beaches national parks and reserves. We want to make sure to check out the town of Krabi (below Phuket on the west coast) on our way back to Phuket.
To say that we are excited would be a bit of an understatement. We have been planning a trip for this spring for well over a year. At first we talked about going to Europe, but after lots of tweaks, we have somehow ended up en route to Southeast Asia. I think that we have all of the gear that we need for the trip, and we have already done a “test-pack” to make sure we can fit everything in to our backpacks...... Not bad for a month long trip. I’m hoping to update the blog a couple times from Thailand. Stay tuned for details.
Here are the rest of my takes on this year’s Best Picture nominees (to see the first five, please read my previous post).
Being somewhat of an “out doorsy” kinda guy, this movie had a lot of appeal to me. I had heard Aron Ralston’s crazy story before, so I was excited to check out the film. I figured it would be a lot of flashbacks of events leading up to the accident, which wasn’t really the case. The majority of the movie, with the exception of some hallucinations, is Ralston (played remarkably by James Franco) stuck under that rock. I would have never believed that the movie could stay interesting for almost two hours and stay so focused on one person stuck in one tiny space. Somehow, Franco and director Danny Boyle pulled it off and made a great movie. I loved it.
(As a side note, I also loved all of the Phish references throughout the movie, including the t-shirt Franco was wearing the whole time. After a little research, I found out that Ralston is a big Phish fan and was listening to a tape of a Denver show from ’99 the entire time he was stuck. He insisted that if the movie was made, Phish do the soundtrack. I guess the producers tried to make it happen, but it fell through. Instead, the soundtrack consisted of a bunch of awful, generic nonsense. Nice try, anyway.)
The Social Network
I think that this movie better served as informative piece than an Oscar winning film. You could make a pretty sub-par movie about the history of Facebook, and people would want to see it. I see it as a kind of “can’t-lose” situation. That being said, I did like The Social Network. I thought the casting was great, and the music gave it a pulse and kept me interested. I especially like the sequence when Zuckerberg (played by Jesse Eisenberg) was in his dorm room creating a “pre-Facebook” website while the drug fueled party was going on across campus. The alternating shots between the two scenes in conjunction with Trent Reznor’s track was probably my favorite part of the movie. I’ve heard a lot of debate as to how realistic the film was, but it was pretty entertaining nonetheless.
Toy Story 3
Anyone who knows me knows that I am not a big fan of animated films. I just don’t get it. I think WALL-E was the most boring thing I’ve ever seen, and I tried three times to watch Up but could never stay awake. I always think it’s a little strange when my thirty-something year old friends get upset when I say such crazy things. I mean, I liked the Smurfs when I was four, but, well, I was four. To each his own, I guess. In all fairness though, I did kind of like Toy Story 3. It was funny and kept my attention. I think it was WAY better than the aforementioned animated films. No comparison. I remember watching the first Toy Story when it came out in ’95, and it was fun to see all of the old characters back in action. I’m still not convinced that any animated film has ever deserved a Best Picture nomination.
I loved this movie, but to be fair, I’m a huge Coen Brothers fan. The Big Lebowski is my favorite movie of all time, and I think that this was Jeff Bridges best role since "The Dude" (sorry, Crazy Heart). I love the Coens’ dialogue heavy style of writing and how their movies make you laugh not because they’re necessarily comedies, but because the characters are, well, such characters. I’ve seen several of the Coen Brothers’ movies over and over, and I have a feeling True Grit won’t be any different.
I had never heard of this movie until I looked at the list of Oscar nominees. As it turns out, it was nominated for good reasons. Winter’s Bone is an interesting look in to life in deep backwoods Missouri. It’s set in the type of place where you don’t just show up unannounced, or you are likely to get shot (and then fed to the hogs, as they mention several times in the film). While the movie was a little slow at times, I think it only portrayed the pace of life in that particular setting. The story itself was interesting, and the acting was great. If for nothing else, you should see this film for an ethnographical look in to a place that you probably know very little about.
And just to make sure I drag this out a little too long, I’m going to wait a couple days to post my picks for this year’s Academy Awards. We’ll call it “Boog Picks.” Okay, maybe not.
For the first time in history, I have managed to see all of the movies that are up for Best Picture in the Academy Awards before the ceremony. Here is my brief take on each film.
I would definitely consider this the most visually-striking film of the year. It was extremely creepy and beautiful at the same time (the final scene was mind-blowing). My weak stomach forced me to keep my eyes closed for about one-fifth of the movie, but the rest of the time, they were glued to the screen.
The Fighter was not what I expected at all. From what I had heard of the movie, I thought it would be tragic tale of addiction and defeat. Instead, it was a quirky, and even funny at times film with over-the-top characters. After seeing some footage of the family that the movie is based on, it was clear that these “characters” were actually very realistic. Dicky Ward (portrayed by Christian Bale in the film) is a larger-than-life goof ball, and Bale played the part flawlessly.
Inception seemed long – really long. I mean, I thought that van was never going to hit the water. I wasn’t that in to it, but those types of movies usually aren’t my thing. In all fairness, I saw Inception shortly after having surgery, and I think I was still a little whacked out on pain-pills. Maybe it would make a little more sense to me if a saw it with a clear head.
The Kids Are Alright
This is another movie that was not what I expected. I actually did think that this one was going to be funny, but it got very real, very quick. The dynamics of the relationships in the movie are very deep and intriguing. I enjoyed it much more than I expected.
The Kings Speech
Amazing. The Kings Speech basically had everything that I could want in a movie. It was touching, funny, inspirational and, most importantly, historically accurate. Em and I went and saw this with my grandparents, and it was fun because they remembered when the events in the movie were actually taking place. I can’t say enough about the casting and acting in this film. Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush were unbelievable both individually and as a duo.
Alright, I think that’s enough for now. I don’t want to give you all of the goods at once. More to come.
After a few days of tough deliberation, Emily and I have decided to move to Albuquerque, New Mexico.
I was offered a spot in an M.A. program, as well as a teaching assistantship, at the University of New Mexico. It's pretty exciting because this is one of the top programs in my field in the country. I wasn't even sure if I would get in, let alone get a TA'ship.
Even though this is a great program, it was not my top choice among those that I applied. I tried for a Ph.D. position at the University of Washington, but I was not accepted. Because I was competing against people who already had their M.A.s, I knew I would have a tough time getting in but decided I might as well give it a shot. The good news is, because of a web colleagues between UW and UNM, there is a good chance that this move will help me get in to that program in two years (that is, if Emily and I don't fall in love with Albuquerque in the meantime and decide to stick around for a few more years while I finish up there).
This decision wasn't very easy. Although the program is great, we were a little unsure of the location. Em and I love the idea of living in the Pacific Northwest - a major reason that UW was so appealing. I got accepted in to a program at the University of Montana in Missoula, which has tons of appeal. I still haven't heard back from Colorado State or Portland State.
After some research, we came to the conclusion that Albuquerque actually looks pretty sweet. There are several aspects of the city that match our lifestyle, and there are a lot of job opportunities for Emily. We both have also been wanting to brush up on our Spanish, and this will be a perfect opportunity. The location of the city is pretty awesome. We will be within a few hours drive from Denver, the Rocky Mountains, the Grand Canyon, Red Rocks and, our favorite, the national parks of Utah. The combonation of being so close to Utah and the caliber of the program is probably what sealed the deal. Well, that and a video that we found while reading about the city. I'll attach it to the blog in case you want to watch it. It's pretty good, and I'm hoping it will get everyone who sees it fired up to come and visit us. Enjoy.....
It's February 1st, which means that four out of five application deadlines for the grad programs I applied to have come and gone.
I put a lot of work in to the applications and remember thinking that once I have them completed and in the mail, I would just relax and let whatever happens happen. I honestly thought that I wouldn't stress out during the wait, but I was completely wrong.
The thing is, Em and I aren't just waiting to find out what school I'm going to get in to. There's also a pretty major move involved. I applied to five schools in five cities, the closest of which is over 1200 miles away. The plan is to move at the beginning of June, but we basically can't do any planning until we know where we are going. No moving truck, no apartments, no job searching. We just wait.
What started out as exciting daydreaming about possibilities has quickly turned in to frustrated anticipation. Don't get me wrong, it's still exciting. I am just more than ready to get some news.
Well, its been over seven months since I last posted anything on here. For some reason, I really suck at this. I think my problem is that everything that I feel is worth writing about, I have already discussed with everyone that I think might read this blog.
But what the hell....I'm going to give it another shot.
At this moment, I have about a million things on my mind (give or take). I'm waiting on replies from grad schools, holding my breath for Em's and my trip to Thailand (April 5th), trying to work out the remaining effects of my surgery, looking for work while I'm in between schools, wondering how I can be a better husband and pondering my faith all from the comforts of my in-laws basement.
No shortage of writing material.
I think that Em's and my next few months are going to be pretty exciting - mainly because of the Thailand trip and our move out west to wherever I end up going to school. I figure this blog will be a good way to keep a journal and keep our friends updated. And don't you worry, I'll still throw in plenty of random nonsense as well. Thanks for reading!