Wednesday, December 29, 2010

26th Post

And with that 26th post, I figured I could start making top 25 lists. I've been critiquing some stuff lately on this blog (see Harry Potter Rant, Narnia, and Great Books). It makes sense for me to post up formal rankings of my favorite (and maybe least favorite) things so you can see what I'm comparing stuff to. Plus, they have the added benefit of being fairly easy posts to write to placate Dania. So to start us off, I present to you...

David Sorensen's Top 25 Movies
  1. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
  2. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
  3. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
  4. Up
  5. Princess Bride
  6. Batman Begins
  7. Pirates of the Carribean
  8. The Bourne Identity
  9. Ocean's Eleven
  10. Iron Man
  11. Indiana Jones: The Last Crusade
  12. Clear and Present Danger
  13. Raiders of the Lost Ark
  14. The Hunt for Red October
  15. Wall-E
  16. Star Wars: Return of the Jedi
  17. Finding Nemo
  18. A Knight's Tale
  19. Jurassic Park
  20. Inception
  21. Monster's Inc.
  22. A New Hope
  23. Toy Story
  24. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
  25. Independence Day
I am aware there are some notable movies not included on this list (Toy Story 3, for example). That is either because I have not seen them or did not think of them while I was compiling this list. I've seen a lot of movies, so narrowing it down to a top 25 was difficult, but I think this is a fair representation. The first four at least I'm sure of.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Great Books

Dania was harping on me again for not posting on this, so I promised her I'd write something today. I don't know why. I really don't have anything to say. My rants flow better in person, when I get some feedback as I am ranting. I guess I'll just have to make do.

Actually, I thought about doing a rant, but I can't really come up with any good topics. Today you'll have to deal with a rave. I'll just kind of type and whatever comes up stays (minus typos). You know what book series is really good? Orson Scott Card's Shadow series. The first book in the series is Ender's Shadow which is a stand-alone companion novel to his better known Ender's Game. I really like Ender's Shadow better, though. I connect better to Bean than I do to Ender. In fact, as the series progresses, I find myself more and more like Bean. I'm not claiming to have the super-extraordinary mind powers of Bean. I'm not a genetically engineered human. But there are several situations in which Bean's thought processes are highlighted, and I find my thought processes tend to be very similar to his. I think the same way Bean thinks, and thus the series entraps me. I come to learn more about my own behavior by examining Bean's. I'll call it exocentered introspection. Yes, I totally just made that term up. I honestly will find myself in conversation and say things almost exactly the way Bean says them in the novels. I highly recommend this book series. It even has some good political commentary in the later books.

Another good author that any self-respecting sci-fi/fantasy fan should read is Brandon Sanderson. He is, quite simply, the best currently-writing fantasy author. His works are comparable to Tolkein, although I still think they may fall a bit short.  His writing is much more accessible, however, than Tolkein's, as it uses 21st century English instead of Tolkein's early 19th century structure. His debut novel, Elantris, is probably the hardest of his books to get through (though I think it is his best), so I recommend starting with the Mistborn trilogy. And if instead of heavy fantasy, you prefer some humor, his Alcatraz books are the funniest novels I have ever read, bar none. I seriously laughed out loud at least once every 10 pages when I read those books for the first time. Sanderson is definitely my current favorite author, with Elantris, Mistborn, Well of Ascension, and Hero of Ages (the three novels in the Mistborn trilogy) all making it into my top 25 books I've ever read. I am an admitted fantasy junky, but even those who aren't the biggest fantasy fans should read his books. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


As I lay in my bed this morning, futilely trying to get back to sleep, I heard the sounds of my younger brothers playing their new video game. And that has absolutely nothing to do with this post at all, except for maybe the fact that being awake in the early hours gave me some time to do some reflecting. As most of you know, today is my birthday, so naturally what I thought about was the nature of birthdays.

Why do we celebrate birthdays? In all honesty, it seems to be sort of a celebration of your approaching death. "Yay, you've lived another year," we seem to say, "statistically, you just moved closer to dying!" Isn't that a happy thought? It would be one thing if what we were celebrating was the actual day of your birth, but we keep track of the years it's been since you were born, suggesting that the actual reason has nothing to do with commemorating your life. We don't, after all, keep track of how many years it's been and celebrate the 2010th birthday of Christ on Christmas. No, instead we commemorate the actual events of his birth and what that birth means to us. We remember all that He has done for us, the greatest, of course, being his atonement for us in the Garden of Gethsemane, on the cross atop Golgotha, and in the garden tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. All that was possible due to his birth, and so we celebrate it each year. DIGRESSION ALERT: This year, I have discovered a problem with some of the hymns we have. For example, "Silent Night" and "Jesus, Once of Humble Birth." They're great songs, and I love the spirit they bring, but the words seem flawed to me. What is "silent" or "humble" about a multitude of angels coming down and singing praises to announce your birth? Yes, he was born in a stable, but come on he had a MULTITUDE OF ANGELS. That sounds pretty sweet to me. Anyway, I still love those hymns and this doesn't change that; just something I thought of in the last couple of weeks. END OF DIGRESSION. However, the way we celebrate birthdays doesn't seem to reflect the same kind of joyous gratitude for the life of the person that Christmas does.

Of course, there is the practical reason for counting years since birth. Age is a very objective way of measuring growth. It may not be the most accurate way, but in a large system, it is the most convenient and does have some measure of accuracy. But the practical explanation isn't sufficient for why we make such a big deal of birthdays. There is more to it, and I might have stumbled upon it in my rambling thoughts this morning in my bed. We don't keep track of how many years it's been to suggest how many years they have left, or to measure maturity. The real reason, I think, is to remind us all of how much time we have had with that person to be grateful for them. It is not really a celebration about your birth at all, but rather a convenient method of celebrating your relationship with people. Some will have known you for all your life, since the minute you were born and before. Some may only just now be getting to know you. But all are reflecting on the time that you have spent together and how great it is to know you. Remember that on your birthdays, because that is truly what it is all about.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Google Chrome is The Bomb-diggity

Everyone, you should use Google Chrome. They are currently sponsoring a really great program. All you have to do is open up tabs between now and December 19. That's it. For every tab you open up, Google is donating to all sorts of good causes. Download the Chrome for a Cause extension and open up a bunch of tabs. If you don't use Chrome, you should get Chrome if only for this weekend. It is so worth it. Do it. Now. Or I may kill you with love.

Life Comes at You Fast

It seems like just last week that I was looking ahead to the better part of a month before my first semester of college was over. Now it's down to sets of threes: 3 days, 3 finals, 3 3 page papers (yes, I am a king of procrastination). The last couple of weeks have just soared by, as has the entire semester. It's been one filled with new friends, new experiences, and a renewal of old habits. As I look back, I really have to wonder where all the time went. Tomorrow, I say goodbye to the first of many of my new friends to leave for home for the break. This one, however, will not be coming back for the next semester. Brodi Alan Bateman is going on a mission instead of coming back for Winter. It amazes me how much I've grown to love him over the course of these four short months. He is honestly one of my best friends at college, which is saying a lot because, with the exception of Nick Lewis and a few others, almost all of my friends from high school came here to BYU. I'm excited for him to go serve, but I'm going to miss him which is kind of strange for me. It is rare for me to truly miss someone. I do a pretty good job of moving forward and going on with my life. It's funny. I don't even feel like I've spent that much time with Brodi for him being my roommate, but I really do love him. Part of it, I'm sure, is that he understands a part of me none of my other roommates can. Devin and Taylor both did band and are musically inclined, but they just don't have the pure love of music that Brodi and I share. I really got lucky when Devin and Brodi picked the bedroom next to the one Taylor picked. I got some high-quality roommates. And I am going to miss Brodi, but I am excited to meet Devin's brother and see if he'll be anything like Devin.

Saturday, December 11, 2010


So I was sitting in my kitchen last night reading some Dinosaur Comics and listening to some Rob Paravonian (I recommend both if you enjoy laughing) when in walks Taylor. He is on the phone with Holly Belnap asking if we (me and my adopted roommate McKay) would like to go with them to Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I didn't really have anything else to do, so I inquired as to the price. $11.50 was the answer I got. Too steep for me. Narnia movies are simply just not worth that much money to see. I graciously declined the offer and settled back into my comics. Then the trouble started.

The girls (yes, plural: Holly Belnap and Hailey Allred) came over to go see the movie. Apparently Taylor had not relayed my disinclination to go because they immediately asked if I was going when they came in the door. I told them I didn't really want to go in the first place, and the price reinforced my decision to not attend the film. They pointed out, however, that Wynnsong gives a student discount, and they pleaded with me to join theem. Like a fool, I acquiesced. They practically began singing praises to me, for reasons I am still not clear on, but they assure me they will make known unto me when I turn 18. "Why not," I thought to myself, "if it makes them so happy for me to do this simple thing?" How very, very foolish of me.

If you have ever read and enjoyed C. S. Lewis's book Voyage of the Dawn Treader, do not go see this movie. It was pure torture to me, as Hailey can attest. Honestly, with this book, I can understand taking some creative liberties with the story. As Lewis wrote it, it doesn't exactly fit itself well to cinema unless you have absolutely superb actors (which they don't) and are appealing to a more refined moviegoer (which they definitely do not do). I didn't expect to watch the story of the book unfold before my eyes on-screen, but the way they altered the story was absolutely criminal. Even then, however, I might have enjoyed the experience had it actually been a good film. But it wasn't. The first two Narnia films were actually surprisingly good, albeit not great. Dawn Treader is not so. With the exception of Eustace Scrubb, the acting was subpar. The special effects did not live up to the standards of today's modern movie world. All in all, it was a pretty bad movie; a complete letdown after the first two.

I don't often recommend not seeing a movie. Even Harry Potter movies, if you are a fan, I would not tell you to not watch. I sometimes advise waiting for a film to go to the dollar theaters before viewing, but I hardly ever would say to not watch a movie at all. Voyage of the Dawn Treader, however, is bad enough that I really do commend you to not waste your money and two hours of your life to see it. It just isn't worth it.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


A lot has been happening in my life recently. It is the end of my first semester at college, and life gets pretty crazy around this time. I have to go birthday and Christmas shopping and study for finals and finish up a few more papers and things are just kind of moving along. In all the rush and madness, I find there are times when I just need to stop, take a break and a breath (name the literary device and you get a point), and put life back into focus. When I get feeling that way, there's a trusty friend I like to turn to and rely on. He lives downstairs in the dungeon. He's not the best at what he does. In fact, he's not even very good at all. He's been beat up from a long life, but he's still got a lot of value to me. Not so much that he's irreplaceable (in fact, I might prefer it if he got replaced), but still a great asset to have on those days when life is just taking me along and I need a handhold on the shore so I can get my bearings. His name is Broadbent Yamaha.

I am so blessed to have the talent that I have. I am nowhere near the best piano player. In fact, I'm barely a good piano player, but I can't imagine life without even the meager talent that I do have. All too often, I take it for granted. Not everyone can make those black and white keys connected to little felt "hammers" that strike wires of varying thickness and length produce music like I can. I honestly don't know what I would do if I couldn't do that. Playing piano is the best thing I know how to do to relieve stress. When I sit down and start playing, suddenly nothing else matters. In that moment, it's just me and the instrument and the music we produce together. Sure, it's not all bliss. It can be frustrating at times when I am trying to work through especially difficult passages ,or when the quality of the piano severely hinders the music produced, but in the end it's all worth it. In the end, I get the pure joy and satisfaction that comes from making a beautiful piece of auditory art, even if it's only beautiful to my own ears.

And so, I will continue to visit Mr. Yamaha. He has become one of my greatest friends this semester. When there is no one else I feel I can talk to, he is the one that hears all my frustrations, all my griefs, and all my joys. I'll keep looking for the steadying hand, and Mr. Yamaha will always be there ready and waiting for me.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Following the Rules

I'll admit it: I'm a stickler for rules. When rules are made and clearly outlined, I don't like to break them. Especially when the rules are actually quite simple to follow, I don't like it when people break the rules. If you have ever played a sport with me, you will recognize this aspect of me. Whenever a rule is broken, I get uppity. Even if in the course of the game it doesn't really matter, I feel the need to address the problem. If it is a rampant condition, it has the potential of ruining the whole game for me. In fact, sometimes it can ruin a whole day, even though in the long run the game doesn't matter at all. I'm aware it is not a good mindset to have, but the rules are there for a reason.

Anyway, there have been several events recently that have triggered these thoughts. Going to school at BYU, you have to agree to this little agreement called the Honor Code. Only, it's not actually a little thing. They take it very seriously, as they should. You can get kicked out of school for breaking it. And yet the mindset of many students is "As long as I don't get caught, it doesn't really matter." It's sad, really. Especially for those of us who have to stand up for the rules because if we don't we get in trouble, too. We don't want to offend people that bend the rules; we understand that there are cases where it seems justified to break a rule that is more of a line far back from the cliff than a hard and fast drop-off point. However, that doesn't mean it is in fact OK. Most of the time, the offenders realize this too, but sadly are much more worried about getting caught than the fact that they are actually breaking a rule that they agreed to follow as part of their acceptance to this excellent school. As long as the chances of being caught are small, too many are content with following most of the rules, which just makes life harder for the rest of us.