Monday, February 20, 2012

Recommendation: Charlie Bartlett

I have been neglecting the blog of late. School has this annoying tendency to get in the way of more important things. That, and I've been watching a lot of Community. So I'm back after a short hiatus with a recommendation for the 2007 movie Charlie Bartlett. I realize this recommendation is not exactly timely, but as I just recently saw it for the first time, I think it stands to reason that some of my readership may have also missed out on this delightful film.

The story follows a young man name, aptly, Charlie Bartlett, who just wants to fit in at school. He achieves this goal by becoming the self-appointed school shrink. Charlie, played by the adorable Anton Yelchin (whom you may know as Chekov from the new Star Trek), is irresistibly lovable, unless you are the school bully (Tyler Hilton of One Tree Hill) or the principal (Robert Downey Jr.). Will Charlie win them over? Will he become popular at school? Or will he get arrested for being a drug dealer and rabble-rouser?

I'm not going to answer these questions, but I will say that this is a very enjoyable movie. It has some of the tropes of your average high school comedy but manages to turn the genre on its side with a clever and unique plot hook. Plus, as I've said, it's impossible not to love Yelchin as Charlie and want to be his friend. Check out this trailer and tell me you don't want to pinch his little cheeks!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Today I learned an expensive lesson

After Christmas I decided I wanted to take my Wii back to Scotland with me. We can argue about the relative merits of this decision (i.e. the effect it will have on my schoolwork vs. all the weight I'm going to lose playing Just Dance 3), but suffice to say, the die was cast, and that thing was crossing the ocean. There was just one problem: my bag was way overweight and I had to take the Wii out. In retrospect, I should have paid the heavy bag fee or even just paid to check a second bag, but at the time, it was getting down to the wire and I was stressed, so when my dad suggested I give him whatever wouldn't fit and have him mail it to me, I took him up on the offer.

I immediately regretted the decision, not because I just couldn't wait for my Wii but because I knew how pricey international shipping can be, and I felt bad about asking my parents to pay it. But my dad assured me it was ok, and I put it from my mind. My mother figured out how to send it after I was gone, and I eagerly awaited the package's arrival.

Three weeks later, I still have not received the Wii, and I've started to get a little nervous. Last night I asked my mother if she could track the package, and she said she would get back to me. Well, today the mystery was solved.

When I went downstairs to check my mail, I was greeted by a letter from Parcelforce, which we will equate to the UK's UPS. It informed me that my package was being held by Customs until such time as I paid them EIGHTY POUNDS in import taxes. EIGHTY POUNDS! There are not CAPS big enough to express my surprise and outrage. They're running quite a racket over at the UK Border Agency. I'm seriously flabbergasted by this. Had I but known, I certainly would have paid that heavy bag fee.

But they don't warn you about these things, dear reader, so I'm warning you now. NEVER mail a Wii across the Atlantic (or really anything valuable). You're better off buying it its own seat on the plane. Ok, now I'm being hyperbolic, but let this be a lesson to you. The amount of money my parents and I have paid to send this thing could have almost bought me a new Wii. Please, don't make the same mistake I did.

I'm pretty upset, but after I post this, I'm going to let it go and regain my serenity. And tomorrow, when my package finally does arrive, I'm going to devote myself to playing £80 worth of Zelda. So don't expect to see me for about a month.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Some music videos

I am totally digging on these music videos. The first is straight-up incredible, the second is a beautiful cover of an awesome song, and the last just makes me happy. So watch them, share them, and then write to NBC and tell them not to cancel Community. (I couldn't help throwing that in. That show is just too good.)

I realize I have already shared all these videos on Facebook, so here's a bonus video for those of you who bothered to check out the post. Cheers!

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Joy of Eating Out

I tend to be a rather frugal individual, but the thing that I fear will one day break the bank is that I eat out. A lot. I love food. I won't apologize for it. I think my future financial goals are mostly to have enough money to eat and drink well whenever I wish. (And to be able to buy $5 DVDs from Blockbuster.) Since I've been in Edinburgh, I've taken to eating out for every lunch because lunches are not included in my dorm meal plan. However, breakfast and dinner are included, so I take most of the those meals in the cafeteria. And it is these meals that have made me truly appreciate eating out.

Eating in the JMCC (which is the name of the building in which our "restaurant" resides) is an exercise in mental, gastrointestinal and gustatory fortitude. What I'm saying is, eating there on a regular basis is like punishment. You have to fight massive crowds of people in horribly disorganized queues just to get a plate of barely palatable food. 

Okay, I'm being a bit unfair. Some of it is actually quite tasty, but those dishes are so few and far between that they're hardly worth mentioning. I know I should expect bad food; it's a cafeteria, after all. But that knowledge doesn't make eating there day in and day out any less depressing. I can't get excited about going there. It's just something that must be done, gotten out of the way so that I don't starve to death every evening. And for someone who truly loves food, this is quite a sad thing to have to accept. 

I could go into further detail about the JMCC, but as I said, this phenomenon of living on a meal plan has made me come to truly relish the times when I get to have dinner somewhere else. At least once a week, I try to dine at an actual restaurant. Sometimes several members of my hall all go out together. We call those occasions Family Dinners. It's very cute. Wednesday night was such an occasion. Not to buzz market or anything, but we got an amazing Groupon deal for a restaurant on the Royal Mile we had never tried called Gordon's Trattoria. It's a family-owned Italian restaurant entering its thirtieth year in business, and it was delightful. Everything was so good that even after a starter and an entree each, we all had to get dessert. How can you say no to tiramisu? How?! You can't. So we didn't. 

The question remains whether GT's was really so great or if our senses of taste have been dulled after months of eating in the JMCC. But regardless, we will be returning to that establishment, and I will continue to savor those moments when I can truly enjoy the things I eat.