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Nicolas Cage and The Descent Into Madness

Obligatory attention to the fact that I haven’t posted in what is close to a millennia.

Okay, since that is now over with, lets get to it.

Since the end of last year I decided to start a quest to watch every movie that has Nicolas Cage in it (This does exclude documentaries).

So far this has been an absolute joyride. Nicolas Cage is accused of overacting (what some would consider to be bad acting), and it is absolutely true. In most of the movies he is in he is absolutely electrifying to watch.

I would argue that he isn’t a bad actor and recently he has been in a lot of direct to DVD movies that wouldn’t have even been glanced at had he not been a part of them.

I just wanted to go through some quick synopses of some of the movies that I have seen so far.

Color Out Of Space (2019)

Color Out Of Space is a book by HP Lovecraft and it features one simple concept. What if an alien invaded a secluded farmstead? What if that alien really had no intentions or purpose and was just a color?

The movie is full of a bright purple and is an absolute thrill to watch. Nicolas Cage very quickly loses his sanity along with the rest of his family.

Kill Chain (2019)

I had the pleasure of watching this in 4k in my living room. Did that enhance the experience at all? Probably not.

Kill Chain does the classic trope of starting the movie near the end and then flashing back to how it all began. Nic Cage didn’t have the movies full screen time, but he did have the climactic end to it. The movie is just a bunch of hits all tied together (quite literally a Kill Chain).

Guarding Tess (1994)

Guarding Tess follows Nic Cage as the secret service bodyguard to a former first lady. He is mentally abused by her until he wants to leave and then decides to stay because of Stockholm syndrome. I’m dumbing the plot down a lot, but this synopsis holds a lot of weight.

Vampire’s Kiss (1988)

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The best way to describe Vampire’s Kiss is if somebody gave Christian Bale’s American Psycho a smaller budget and then proceeded to tell the screenwriters to “sprinkle in a couple of jokes.”

It was a fantastic movie to watch, but in the “Wow what am I watching?” sort of way.

Amos and Andrew (1993)

The premise of this movie is that a wealthy black man (played by Samuel L. Jackson) moves into a nice home and while he is getting moved in his bigoted white neighbors think he is a robber (since they didn’t know their old neighbors moved out).

What ensues is the police shooting at him while he is in his home, and then realizing their mistake and in an attempt to save face send a criminal (Nicolas Cage) in so that they can shift the blame. It is… a movie.

I don’t know if this movie aged well because in some ways it still seems relevant or aged poorly because it is almost distasteful how jokey they are about the subject while it is still such a hot topic today.

And finally…

Rage (2014)

*Spoiler warning if you don’t want to read ahead*

Nicolas Cage’s daughter gets… taken. With no Liam Neeson in sight Nicolas Cage fills the role….

And then his daughter dies.

So Nicolas Cage starts falling into a more John Wick/Equalizer role and starts dismantling the local mafias and gangs. Every single person that might have had any incentive at all to kidnap and kill his daughter.

And for the big finale, it is revealed she is killed because his daughter and her friends had found his guns and decided to disobey the rules of gun safety and accidentally shot and killed the daughter.

For an action hero, you really need to lock up your guns.

I have seen plenty of more Nicolas Cage movies and I still have a lot more to watch. I just wanted to update the blog as well as talk about the fun to watch Nicolas Cage movies that I have been watching.

Obligatory sentence that I will try to post more often.

You are beautiful and I hope you have a good week.

To-Do Lists and Task Management

Before I start talking about task management, I want to preface that I am by no means a productivity expert, I don’t have any training on what is truly productive in most scenarios. I’m just here to say my journey in personal productivity, and what I have learned along the way.

When I first started trying to be productive in my every day life I had a simple system. I just had a to-do list with everything on it. No organization, just a list of tasks.

Then I tried breaking up these tasks according to my classes, and that worked decently well. But overall it wasn’t the best for long term goals or anything else.

So I drew up a long term goal to do list, one that would be the goals for the entirety of a semester. With these two different sets of tasks I was able to manage long term goals as well as short term goals. But it didn’t end there. Now I wanted to start forming habits.

To do that I started with an excel spreadsheet and for a whole summer that listed every day as a box, and I marked when I completed a task every day. This was great and rewarding. So I kept adding more things to do every day. And then I got bogged down.

Then I cut down on what has to get done every day and converted some of those tasks to weeklies. Tasks that might need to get done a few times a week, but don’t have to be done every day.

By this time I had a whiteboard, and I found it pretty simple to convert my dailies from excel to a whiteboard checklist. From there I kept my weeklies as a checklist and I update my progress every day.

As far as tasks that aren’t repetitive I started using a kanban which is a fancy word that pretty much means structured to-do list. I’ve separated out all of my classes, my miscellaneous activities, and even some longer term goals on one of these kanban boards.

I’m by no means a productivity guru, but I can say everything that I have learned. First of all, it is really easy to have too may dailies. I only record things as daily tasks if and only if I can do them every day, no exceptions. If I can’t do them every day but I want to do it consistently a couple of times a week, then I make them a weekly.

Everything else can be considered a long term goal or a non-repetitive task. Out of these you have to determine what should be considered urgent and important, urgent and unimportant, not urgent and important, and unimportant and not urgent. This will determine which tasks need to be done now, and what tasks can be done later. As a rule of thumb, urgent and important should be significantly higher ranked than not urgent and not important.

For the tools I use:

  • Simple whiteboard checklist for daily activities.
  • Printed excel checklist for weekly activities.
  • Personal Trello board for non-repetitive tasks.

And that’s really I all I have to say. Good luck being productive, it is a tough goal, but a worthy one, that will definitely make life work out much smoother.


Dining Tables and Tabletop Board Games

My friends and I play a lot of board games. I have brought this up in a couple of posts throughout this blog but I haven’t talked about one of the secretly important parts of tabletop board games.

The table.

When my friends and I moved in together, the apartment was already furnished. In the living room it came with a couch, a loveseat, a TV shelf thing, a nightstand shelf thing, and a not particularly large coffee table.

Although this wasn’t a large coffee table, and by the merit of it being a coffee table, not a large table, we made do with it. We played hours of board games on it. We fit huge game setups on it and set our coffee cups on other surfaces. If we made dinner we would sit on the couch and eat while watching TV, and it was fun.

But it wasn’t a dinner table.

And we thought it didn’t matter.

Then we started playing Dungeons and Dragons and the desire for more table space increased with the levels of our characters.

We still weren’t fazed.

Fast forward. It is a random Saturday in Summer and one of my friends and I go get some lunch and then go shopping for random stuff. On our way back home I get a crazy idea to try to get a dining table.

We stop by a thrift shop.

We walk out of the thrift shop with a decent double-leaf dining table for $15, and somehow manage to fit it into the car.

We get back home, set it up, and then go back out to buy a tablecloth to hide any of the imperfections. The result was amazing.

The most impressive part of the dining table though wasn’t for the table space part of its namesake, but instead for the dining part.

For once we could all sit in chairs, maintain good posture, and eat while facing each other. My roommates and I aren’t blood-related, but eating around a dinner table still makes it seem like a family.

Seriously, if you haven’t eaten around a dinner table with your family or with your friends, do it. The quality of life enhancement that something as simple as a thrift shop dinner table can bring is insane. Coffee tables are nice and all but it is a completely different experience eating around a dinner table.

Board games are also enhanced by sitting around a dinner table. The increased table space means that everyone has a place to put their cards/pencils/tokens/etc. while still having plenty of space to put the board for the game.

The greater elevation from the ground means that everyone can sit around the table sitting comfortably in chairs, instead of leaning over a small table.

And everything was good.

Until we realized that the leafs were a little warped which caused the table to have an uneven surface.

So we talked about putting a piece of plywood on top of it or something like that.

And then one day I got off work and got really in the mood to do a dumb project in the middle of the afternoon like making a tabletop.

My friends and I got into the car and we headed down to Lowe’s.

There, we looked for plywood that would fit the dimensions of our table. And we kept looking in the wrong section near the lumber. Finally we asked an associate and were pointed to the thin board/MDF section, and there we had the best idea.

Why not use something other than plywood? Why not use whiteboard?

And so we did. And it’s awesome.

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There are some pros and cons games to be weighed here, and I think we won out because everything boils down to us being college students.

Pros:

  • We can study and draw stuff on the table
  • We can keep track of stuff for board games using the whiteboard table.
  • We have a near perfectly level surface to play board games on

Cons:

  • Have to clean before use because of expo gunk
  • Weird if you’re hosting a high-class dinner party
  • Some friends might think you are too cool

All-in-all would I suggest a dining table? If you can get one in your current financial and spatial situation, then yes.

Would I suggest a whiteboard table?
Are you an actual family with actual responsibilities like raising children or hosting dinner parties with top hats? Probably not.
Are you anyone else? Then you should be asking, “Why not?”

Was this story too long? All I’m saying is that dinner tables are pretty cool.

 

Speedgaming and Far Cry

Starting about a year ago I found a Twitch streamer named BounceyBoy. I wasn’t big into watching livestreams or watching speedrunners until I saw him play Super Mario Sunshine. The movement of that game was beyond anything I ever saw in a videogame, and after a little bit of practice I realized it was completely possible to do some of the tricks.

It was the most fun I’ve had in a while playing Super Mario Sunshine jumping around like a speedrunner. I never would be able to get good enough to speedrun a game like that but I figured it would still be fun to find a game to speedrun.

A little while later I thought of Far Cry, it’s a fun game that I even enjoy playing hours upon hours. So I looked at Far Cry 2, only a couple of speedruns are listed, but most of it is just driving, which is my biggest gripe about that game. If I’m spending 3 hours just driving then I’m not going to have that much fun.

So I thought of Far Cry 3, looked up the speedrun times and it clocks at like 4 hours, I think I might try it, but I’m still not sure.

Far Cry 4 is a little bit of the same as 3, about 4 hours of probably just driving around.

So I did what any fame hungry speedrunner would do. I made up my own category.

The most fun part about Far Cry 4 is the arena. The rest of Far Cry is just the arena with more driving in between and more fetch quests.

The arena has 4 different game types but the most notable one is the weapon challenges.

There are 39 weapon challenges, one for each gun in the game. Each challenge consists of 5 waves of enemies. It is one of the most fun things to do in the game since it only consists of the satisfying combat of Far Cry 4.

And so I decided to make that my speedrun, completing all 39 weapon challenges. And I have to say it was a blast, my first run was a solid 3 hours and 22 minutes of action. And then I realized I missed one of the challenges. My next run was a true 39 weapon run, I was also able to shave off 6 minutes. That run is right here.

I plan on doing this run until I get a run that I have no deaths on and around 4 minutes on every challenge, which would be a 2 and a half hour run.

So with that, I’ll end this blog post saying that I am now in fact a world record holder (until somebody more competent tries the run).