Monday, November 24, 2014

What in the World Happened to John Cusack?

John Cusack was one of my first favorite actors. This was back when I first started to realize that there was value in movies beyond just the shallow giggles that Legally Blonde and How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days gave me. John Cusack just happened to star in a few of the first movies that made an impact on me and made me realize, "Hey! Movies are a really great thing."

For a few years, I followed John Cusack's career. He was in a few romantic comedies -- all actors do them sometimes, right? But the ones he was in were more tolerable than the standard fare. He was also in a few ok-but-not-great movies that were essentially panned by the critics. Eventually, I lost interest.

A few weeks ago, I watched the movie Adult World, starring Emma Roberts and Evan Peters. Yes, I watched it because I'm currently hooked on American Horror Story. That's another blog post completely.

Anyway, so Adult World was ok but it wasn't great (I'm a respected film critic with these opinions). It's basically about this recent college grad played by Emma Roberts who gets a job working at an adult store while trying to make it as a poet/writer. She meets her favorite poet of all time, played by John Cusack.

It was a really bland and thankless role that he played. He was basically a shitty, washed up poet who manipulated Emma Roberts' naive character and then embarrassed her... this is vague enough to not be considered spoilers, right?

Watching this movie -- the newest Cusack movie I'd seen since Hot Tub Time Machine back in 2010, made me wonder what he'd been doing all these years. A few clicks on IMDb later, I realized he was doing a lot of movies but none of them appeared to be very good. Adult World, which I thought was entertaining enough to watch once but altogether kind of "meh," was actually one of the higher rated movies from his recent filmography.

Hot Tub Time Machine 2 is coming out and it looks like Cusack is not returning. Instead, his character is going to be played by Adam Scott (who I really do love -- refer here). As silly as the plot was, I actually thought Hot Tub Time Machine was really funny. Cusack fit in well with the cast, kind of playing the "straight" character to a bunch of idiots. It's a shame that he either a) wasn't invited back for the sequel or b) didn't want to do it. Either way, recasting the role seems kind of pointless to me. I'm sure Adam Scott will do a good job, but they might as well have just created a new character for him instead of having us believe that John Cusack, a tall and bulky 48-year-old, magically converted to a younger, smaller body. But I digress on that point.

Before Hot Tub Time Machine, I hadn't really enjoyed a Cusack movie since 2005's The Ice Harvest. What happened to the actor from that movie?

What happened to the John Cusack who embodied the mid-life crisis, commitment-phobic character from High Fidelity? Or the long-haired, depressive puppeteer who discovered a portal into the mind of John Malkovich in Being John Malkovich? Then there was Identity, Grosse Pointe Blank, and Bullets Over Broadway. All of these within a 10 year period! 

Hell, even the action blockbusters he did back then were decent. Con Air, anyone? Or is it just me who loves that one? Anyone? Bueller?

And one cannot write a post about John Cusack without mentioning the fabulous, star-marking role of Lloyd Dobler in Cameron Crowe's Say Anything... That film is easily one of the most emotional teen movies that the '80s offered up. 

So now I must ask... what in the world has happened to John Cusack? He used to be the go-to "nice guy" in good movies, even though he demonstrated very clearly in some indies that he could play a not-so-nice guy as well. But lately, he's just been blending into the background of mediocre films.

Is this intentional? Was he burned out and decided to just do some low key movies for the time being? Or is this just another example of an actor in Hollywood aging and being offered fewer and fewer decent roles?

It's hard to say the exact reason it happened, but it does make me a little sad. Where can I petition to bring back late-1990's John Cusack? 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

This is a haircut

I don't get very many haircuts.

I got a haircut in August 2013:

This is what I looked like last week, after 15 months with no hair cuts:

Yeah, it was starting to not look pretty.

Well, my wonderful roommate is currently in cosmetology school. And I got to get a haircut and color for $10. Here was me about 5 hours after the above picture was taken:

It's still pretty long, but we cut off the ends that had a lot of breakage. I also got layers and an ombre. The bottom of my hair is still the same color it was before, but she added a darker copper red color to the top.

I like it a lot, and it definitely looks a lot healthier with all those ugly ends cut off.

So I guess I'm good on haircuts for another year or so?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Cuteness Overload: Animal videos that will cheer you up

Sometimes -- when I feel sad, I stop being sad and be awesome instead. True story.

But when I'm not Barney Stinson, I sometimes turn to YouTube videos to lift my spirits. Being an animal lover, I spend an embarrassing amount of time perusing YouTube to find funny videos of cute animals... or cute videos of funny animals. Here are a few of my favorites.

Jack is a sheep who thinks he's a sheep dog... and he helps round up the other sheep:

Buttermilk is a rambunctious pygmy goat:

Peggy Sue is a large pig who finally gets taken to her forever home:

Here are some cows who are really happy they get to once again frolic in the field after a long winter:

These alpacas help protect young lambs from foxes when they're too little to protect themselves:

What are your favorite animal videos?

Monday, November 17, 2014

5 Necessities For Road-Tripping Alone

Tomorrow morning I will be heading out on a 5 hour trip to Tennessee to visit my mom. It will be the second time I'm driving out there by myself. I love road trips, but solo road trips are a horse of a different color. They aren't the worst things in the world, but they can get boring after awhile. You focus more on how much your butt hurts from all that sitting when you're alone also because you don't have someone else there distracting you. At least, I found that to be the case for myself.

It can also be a bit scary to travel a long distance by yourself, especially if it's something you do infrequently or if you're visiting a place with which you're unfamiliar.

I have a few tips for easing the stress and minimizing your boredom.

1. Have a general idea of where you're going

With modern technology today, we don't need to follow a complicated map with different colored paths and confusing directions. Having a GPS gives us a little relief with that. I still, however, think it's a good idea to at least know the general direction you're going.

Are you going north or south? East or west? What are the major highways you'll be traveling? It's good to know this stuff in advance just in case your GPS freaks out on you or in case you make a wrong turn. You will at least have a semblance of an idea of which way you need to go to get on track. With that in mind...

2. Use a back up GPS or map

For my first trip to Tennessee, I bought my first ever GPS. I bought a Garmin nuvi 40LM. I really like it so far, even though I've just used it for two trips. When you're coming up on an exit, it breaks into a split screen. The left side shows the regular GPS screen with your little car going up the road you're on. The right side of the screen actually shows a realistic picture of what your turn looks like. It shows the green exit signs and shows arrows for which lane you need to be in.
I thought that was really helpful.

However, my GPS came close to dying a couple of times. It's always good to have a backup -- whether it be your phone or a print out from MapQuest. 

Having a backup eases my mind. I tend to be a worrier, so it's a big relief to know that you're covered if something goes wrong.

3. Wear comfortable clothes

You're by yourself and you're on a long trip. Why wouldn't you want to be as comfy as possible? On my last trip to Tennessee, I wore my Juicy Couture velour sweatpants, a t-shirt, and flip flops. It was heavenly. 

It's a little colder outside this time (and by "a little" I mean "a lot"), so I plan to wear my Fall Out Boy hoodie, my old, broken-in jeans, and my Vans.

To me, comfort in travel is one of the key points. If you're wearing shoes that hurt your feet or pants to tight they dig into your hips, you're going to be fidgety and grumpy.

4. Get caffeinated!

Even if you're not a coffee drinker, getting some caffeine in your system is helpful on long, solo trips. It will keep you alert and should prevent any accidental nodding off on the road.

I didn't do it on my trip to Tennessee last time, but I have almost drifted off at the wheel on a couple of other trips. If it's never happened to you, be glad. It's the most terrifying thing ever.

Drink a soda or an energy drink, pop some caffeine pills -- do something. You gotta stay awake!

5. Make sure you have some good jams

Music is the make or break thing for me on road trips. If I don't have good music to listen to, the experience just isn't the same. It becomes more of a chore than an adventure.

Whether you have an iPod or you're still burning mixed CDs, make sure you've got the goods prepared before you leave on your trip. And make sure you bring something you actually want to listen to. There's nothing worse than being on a road trip and being stuck with music you're already sick of.

It's good to mix up the type of music also. I will go between Top 40 music and something like The Offspring of Less than Jake. I mostly try to stick to upbeat music on road trips. No sense in making yourself depressed when you've got nothing but miles and miles ahead of you.

I am personally going to be pumping the new Ariana Grande album... because I'm a teenager at heart and I like to dance in my car. Judge not lest ye be judged.

So those are my tips. If anyone has any other helpful tips, please feel free to add to the list!


Sunday, November 16, 2014

My Crappy Phone Crapped Out On Me

Since April of 2013, I've had a Samsung Galaxy S2. Yes, it was old when I got it. No, that didn't mean it was cheap.

I started using Straight Talk as my carrier (prepaid through Walmart - aka Tracfone). It was never that great of service, but it was cheap. And it honestly wasn't awful service, but my phone would randomly lose service in areas that no one else would. 

The phone itself wasn't a huge upgrade for me when I first got it. If it had been up to me, I would have carried over my previous phone (a Motorola Electrify that I had with US Cellular), but it wasn't unlocked and I could only use it with US Cellular. Plus, I'd heard so much great stuff about the Galaxy.

I don't think the Galaxy is that great. And I am sure they've made leaps and bounds worth of improvements since the S2 came out, but that thing was not all it was cracked up to be.

For a phone only a year and a half old, it was glitchy as hell. And it had been glitchy since I got it. Not a month or two after I got the phone, I'd pull it out of my pocket to find that it had just shut itself off randomly. When I would turn it back on, the battery would be in the red and I'd have to recharge it. This would happen even if I had a nearly full battery prior to it shutting off.

I'm not a tech person, so I'm not sure what the problem with it was. But I would just ignore it and chalk it up to a mild annoyance. Well, over the past few weeks, my mild annoyances started to turn into big ones.

My phone decided to just always stay warm. I would turn it on and have literally no apps running and the phone would be hot to the touch. It started dying after just a couple of hours off the charger. It started dying while it was just sitting in my purse on silent mode while I was at work.

And then the text messages started to happen. Someone would send me a text and the phone would keep receiving the text over and over and over.

I took some screenshots (the camera was one of the few things not freaking out on me at this point):

Not only did it send me repeat text messages... but it wouldn't let me type at all. I couldn't type a text message. I couldn't type a Google search. I couldn't tweet. I couldn't do anything involving the keyboard. I tried switching the Swype on and off to no avail. It didn't even matter if I switched it back to the archaic keypad from the flip phone days.

I could receive calls, but I couldn't make them. I tried calling my mom but the phone wouldn't ring on her end. It would then tell her she had a missed call even though it never actually called out to her. I tried calling my roommate's cosmetology school to schedule a hair appointment. When I dialed their number, it started calling my mom again.

Worse came to worse and the phone became essentially useless.

I'd been looking at trying to switch back over to US Cellular as they have great service in our area and they now offer moderately priced prepaid plans. They also had the phone that I wanted. What was that phone, you ask? (You didn't actually ask, but I'm going to tell you)

The Motorola Moto X.

Cue the heavens opening up and angels singing.

This phone is the best phone I've ever had. Granted, I've only had it a little over a week now but so far there has been no weird glitchiness.

It's also really cool looking. Motorola is cool because they have all kinds of designs for their phones. I chose the bamboo backing for mine. Here's my pretty phone:

I can go two days without charging it. The camera is excellent and the screen is very sharp and bright.

I can also use the Swype and have it actually understand what I'm trying to type. With my Galaxy, it didn't matter if I swyped or just typed and used auto correct -- it would correct to something completely different than what I was actually trying to say.

Voice text was the same. It would get most of the words I was trying to say, but there was always at least one word per sentence that I'd have to go back and fix with my Galaxy. So far, my Moto X pretty much gets me 100%. It's nice to have a phone that's on the same page as me.

The phone is a lot bigger than what I was used to, but it's thinner. I actually like the bigger screen because, again, I can actually type and it know what I'm trying to say.

Also, I've actually been able to upgrade to the newest version of Android (my Galaxy was practically in the stone ages compared to what's out now). That means all the apps in the Play Store are actually compatible with my phone. Previously, there were a lot of apps I couldn't even download. Including the Weather Kitty app.

Basically, it's a weather app that shows pictures of cute kitties while telling you what the weather is like. Behold:

It's the best thing ever.

So far so good.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Some Blog Announcements: Button Swap + More Social Media

After a long period of having one foot in the blogging world and one foot out, I've decided to try and go back full force into blogging again. I think I have finally adjusted to my current schedule enough to find ample time to write and, of course, network with other bloggers.

The first thing I'm going to try to do is ad swap. For the longest time, I thought I could get away without doing any kind of advertising. I don't know why, but I just never really wanted to do it before. Now I'm going to start. There's nothing wrong with bloggers mutually helping each other out, right?

So here's how I'm going to start it. I will swap ads with up to 5 bloggers per month. I'm not anticipating getting a lot of hits on this honestly, so if you're interested in putting up my button in exchange for me putting up yours, please either comment here/tweet me/email me to let me know and I will do the same for you.

I only want to do a maximum of 5 ads at a time because I hate when I go onto blogs and it seems like content is sacrificed to make room for sponsors. I understand that sponsoring is a big way of getting our names out there, but I don't want to clutter up other people's blogs or clutter up my own.

So here are my buttons. You can copy and paste the HTML below the image to link my button to your website:

Again, if you use my button and would like me to link you back, please let me know!

The second thing I'm going to try to do is connect on more social media platforms. Right now, I primarily use Twitter and only Twitter as a means of promoting my blog.

Pink Nightmare does have a Facebook page that I'm going to try to use more. I've made a new banner for it, and it's an interesting one. Please like my Facebook page. The more likes I get, the more information I will start sharing via Facebook. So if Facebook is a good platform for you to get updates, please like and share.

I'm also going to start attempting to use YouTube on a more regular basis. I don't have anything set in stone yet, but I'm working on a few things that will allow me to actually put together some decent vlogs. Vlogging is still uncharted ground for me, except for in this shining moment in history:

Anyway. This post is more promotional than anything else, so I apologize if you were looking for some snappy content.. I will be back with that soon (I hope).

I look forward to swapping buttons with you all and will be back soon!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

On Being Shy

As an adult, it's difficult to have control over your own life when you are a shy person by nature. This is something I've struggled with for years and I've never really put into words how it actually makes me feel. This post is an attempt at that and an attempt at seeing how other people might deal with this issue. 

On the internet, I am bold. I say what I feel and I'm honest. With my family and close friends, I'm the same. Sometimes I'm even clever and quick-witted. I make jokes with ease. I am not able to do this around people I barely know or around people who are just acquaintances. When I try to converse like a normal person, I get tongue-tied or my voice comes out as a whisper. I say stupid things and am generally very awkward. My adrenaline speeds up to uncomfortable levels and my heart pounds. I am shy. 

I'm not sure when it started, but I haven't always been shy. You might remember this post where I was the first person in my Kindergarten class to get in trouble -- for yelling out in class. My teachers in elementary school usually remarked my report card with a nicer version of, "Cherie is a good student, but she never shuts up." If I really had to pinpoint when it happened, I would say that it was somewhere around 2002 when I moved to Virginia. My father died in August of 2002 and we moved to my current city about a month later. I started school in a city I barely knew with kids I'd never met before. I attended a very small, private school where the number of kids per grade was usually somewhere between 5 and 10. I was shy at first, but due to the size of the school, I came into my own fairly quickly. 

I started attending public school again in high school. My high school experience was less than stellar. Although I look back on it more fondly than I did while I was actually there (nostalgia and all that), I wouldn't care to repeat those four years due to how awkward it was for me socially. I was used to attending small schools. Even before the tiny private school, my school in Missouri still only boasted about 100 kids per grade. My high school? There were closer to 400 of us. And that was just the freshman class. 

It was a culture shock. I came home crying to my mom after the first day of school thinking I'd never fit in there and I'd never make any friends. While I don't think I ever really "fit in," I did eventually make some friends. But it took me considerably longer to warm up to the high school kids than it ever did in the past. 

When I would think about approaching some kids to see if I could sit with them at lunch or even to ask them a harmless question about the homework, my stomach would knot up and I'd feel how I assume it feels to be sea sick. And whenever I would actually be bold enough to speak the words I'd formed in my mind, I'd get tongue-tied and those words would come out jumbled. 

I didn't make very many friends in high school. I had a few, but I never exactly had a "group" and I rarely went out and hung out with people on the weekends and after school. College was the same. Most of the friends I had in college were people I'd known from high school that had stayed local after graduation. I met a few people I really liked in classes for my major, but I was too nervous to ever try to extend the friendship to one where I saw them outside of class. There were plenty of people in college that I would love to have been friends with, but I always psyched myself out of trying to be social with them. 

Part of me thinks I stayed at my first job, Pizza Hut (where I still work part time), for as long as I did because I was comfortable there. Even when a new person started working there, I was comfortable being myself because I was always comfortable with the majority of people I was working with. For some reason, after I get to know a person or a place so well, If I'm in a place I feel comfortable or around a person I feel comfortable with, I lose my inhibitions and I let myself speak freely. I even say stupid things or mispronounce my words to these people and laugh it off. But when it comes to speaking to someone I barely know when I'm not within that comfort zone, I panic. 

The nervousness does not carry over to my actual job, where I work customer service. I can speak freely to customers without feeling awkward because I don't really think of myself as me, and I don't really think of them as real people. Maybe this is weird and wrong, but thinking of them as things rather than people allows me to be comfortable and provide them with good service. The same is with my customers at Pizza Hut. The same is with people I interact with at grocery stores, malls, restaurants, etc. I am fine as long as we're discussing something related to my job or their job. I only clam up in these situations when someone asks me personal questions or tells me personal stories.

The issue doesn't seem to be lessening with age. I now work at a call center with somewhere in the neighborhood of 250-300 other people. I sit in my row with my "team" (the 15 or so of us under my supervisor) and I am mostly comfortable talking to them. I don't know each of them on a personal basis, but I am at least comfortable discussing work related things with most of them. I have also been lucky enough to make some good friends at my current job. I am completely myself with those people, but I can't be myself around other people at work. Even something as seemingly simple as saying, "Hi! How's your day going?" in the hallway is a colossal effort. The group of people who went through training with me seem to keep in contact with each other, at least a superficial level. It's hard for me to even stomach saying hello to these people. It's not that I don't like them. They are all very nice people, but we never really clicked as friends and now we're just awkward acquaintances. 

I'm afraid that there are many people out there who think I'm a colossal bitch or who think I think I'm better than they are, but this is not the case. I'm sure that's how it appears to people who don't have this anxiety and who aren't in my head. I actually just get so panicked that it's easier to avert my eyes and say nothing than to try to force out some kind of fake enthusiasm. And I honestly wouldn't blame people for thinking badly of me. 

Most days, other people's opinions of me do not bother me at all. But there are some days when I see someone who so casually jumps into conversation with strangers and I feel a bit less than. 

I'm not sure what the point is of sharing this with you other than to get people to think about those people you encounter in life who aren't really responsive. They may really just not want to talk to you, but they might want to say something and just honestly lack the words. 



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