Catching Up (Sophomore/Junior year)

Lest the title of this confuse you, it's my second year at Fox, but also my penultimate (next to last) year. Yeah, that's right. I pulled out penultimate, just for you reader, because you're special to me *wink*. In terms of credits I'm junior status. I'm not covering two years of material. I know I'm long-winded, but that's a little much for even me.

So here's the deal. It's been a long time since I've blogged. I don't know if anything in particular re-sparked my motivation to catalog my time here at Fox. Maybe I've just got a dull late-night on my hands. Either way, I've got a few orders of business to tend to. Please bear with me.

As some of you may know, for the entire month of October I devoted (almost) every evening/night to the watching of a horror/Halloween appropriate movie. The reasoning behind this was such: I never feel like I adequately celebrate Halloween. It always sneaks up on me. (Side note, you'd be surprised how many people made me feel like poo for wanting to "celebrate" Halloween. Tsk tsk people. Judge not.) This year I really wanted to get into the spirit (no pun intended) of the season. I have to show for it a decent list of movies to share. I had to expand the criteria a bit to accommodate my horror-shy housemates, but movies were indeed watched, with fair regularity.

Munn House Horrorfest 2011:

1. The Strangers 

A pretty fresh, legitimately scary take on the slasher genre.

2. Saw 

Revamped the genre. Respect.

3. Trick 'r Treat 

Pretty fun, very Halloween-y watch. Will revisit annually.

4. Sweeney Todd 

Horror+musical+Sondheim+Alan Rickman+Johnny Depp+Tim Burton+buckets of technicolor blood=maximum rewatchability

5. 28 Days Later 

Modern zombie movie, stripped to the essential elements, with a weird score. LOVE.

6. The Secret Window 

Saw the twist coming a mile away but still an intriguing watch.

7. Shutter Island 

Not much of a horror movie, but a pretty solid thriller with a great DiCaprio performance.

8. Zombieland 

One of my top ten favs of all time, easy. Satisfaction guaranteed. First Emma Stone experience of mine, 'nuff said.

9. Hostel 

Too racy for my viewing pleasure. "I have made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a woman" Job 31:1. Interesting parallels between de-humanizing cathouses and killing houses though.

10. Scream 

The consummate slasher movie, which also manages to be self-aware and hilarious. YES.

11. I Am Legend 

"If we listen, we can hear God's plan."

12. Mr. Brooks 

Ugh. Kevin Costner as a serial killer? No thanks. There's a difference between underplaying a character and forgetting to act. Also, did Demi Moore used to be able to act? Both of these vets were out-acted by Dane Cook. And the dialogue sounds like it was written by a foreigner.

13. The Birds 

Classic for a reason. Maybe a little hokey but it holds up surprisingly well for a horror movie of its age.

14. Nightmare on Elm Street 

Respect for the completely unique premise, and I'm sure it was terrifying when it premiered, but the effects are truly laughable.

15. Nightmare on Elm Street 2 

I don't mean this word in a pejorative sense, I mean it quite literally. This is probably the GAYest movie I've ever seen.

16. Nightmare on Elm Street 3 

My favorite of the old bunch. Totally creative with some legitimately scary/disturbing images.

17. The Rite 

Doesn't break any new ground, other than having a very faith-affirming, encouraging message.

18. 30 Days of Night 

VERY impressed. It really captures the terror-stricken feel of its characters. Shows vampires can still be fraking scary.

19. Saw 2 

I believe this is an underrated, and by no means terrible sequel. The setting works, and so does Donnie Wahlberg's  performance.

20. Scream 2 

GREAT horror sequel. Unexpected, unique, artistic. Can't say enough good things about it.

21. Blair Witch Project 

One of the few movies that still really brings the chills on the second and third watch. Very human, and all the scarier for it.

22. Cloverfield 

Cracks the top five favorite movies for sure. I don't care if it makes me a bad critic either. This movie means a lot to me, and I believe it's executed almost perfectly for its genre.

23. Paranormal Activity 3 

Yeah, this series knows what its doing. The build seems creepingly slow, but no one's complaining by the end.

24. Halloweentown 

Not bad for a Disney original. Sure, the friendship/family speeches are a little embarrassing, but this movie is fun for its nostalgia if nothing else.

25. Halloweentown 2: Kalabar's Revenge (^)

26. The Mist 

I actually had to pause and punctuate certain scenes in this movie with something more benign. Almost too scary, and depressing as all get-out.

27. Rec 

It's hard for me to enjoy movies in other languages, but this Spanish zombie/outbreak movie climaxes in a way that will stay with you. VERY scary.

28. Fright Night 

Not scary, but really fun. Like-able lead, even if McLovin doesn't make a particularly intimidating second-act villain.

(Non-horror movies I also watched to fill out the list)

29. Surf Ninjas 

Terrifyingly bad. Couldn't sit through it. Even bad for a ROB SCHNEIDER movie.

30. Indiana Jones Trilogy 

First of all, AWESOME! I don't know how I lived this long without seeing these movies. Loved each one, even if I couldn't stand the girl from the second one. The girl from the third was a greedy Nazi and I still preferred her to the girl in the second. Another thing, while this isn't horror, have I told you how afraid I am of snakes? Count it!

31. 127 Hours 

Again, not a horror movie, but it contains the single most cringe-inducing scene I've ever seen in cinema. I had to leave. And a horror movie has never elicited such a reaction from me.

So there we go. I certainly Halloween-ed myself out this year. Full speed toward Christmas ;)

In other news, I absolutely love my living situation this year. The guys I'm living with are some of the most genuine, kind, generous, respectful, and God-loving men I've ever met or may ever meet. I want to be them when I grow up. That's not to say our happy home is conflict-free, but what group of human beings could be, really? I had real trouble engaging socially last year. Praise God this is no longer even a little true. Do I still get homesick on occasion? Sure, but it feels so good to belong.

I'm in a bit of a bum mood as I write this, it's been a tough week, but I can't allow this to cast a shadow on how great my life is going right now. God is bringing peace and restoration into old relationships of mine, ones that have been weighing on my heart for some time. He has made known to me my calling and how I ought to be living it out where I'm at right now, and it is just such a wonderful feeling.

I came into school knowing I'd only be here for three years and then likely move back to Springfield to get a ministry job down there. With this in mind, as I reached the end of last year, not having truly engaged myself here in a lot of ways, I was tempted to treat this time in my life as a brief transition between living in Springfield and living in Springfield again. And this would be truly tragic, for me to squander my time here. I realize it now. But God has provided ways for me to really, truly engage, almost in spite of myself. My friends, as I said before, are one of these ways. The other is Young Life.

I'm leading Young Life in Canby, Oregon. I always knew I wanted to be a Young Life leader. Young Life is, after all, the reason I'm a Christian right now. It saved me in more ways than one, too. In high school Young Life was my saving grace, the highlight of my week, and leaving high school, I could think of no higher calling than to be a Young Life leader. My leaders, Bill in Wyldlife and Adam in Young Life, have shaped my character more than any other men I've ever known, or probably will ever know, and to think I could be this, to some degree, for young men in the hellish pit of high school, brings me unspeakable joy.

I got plugged in with Canby last year through some pretty random, fortunate circumstances. I was psyched, to be sure, but the same lack of engagement I mentioned earlier spilled over into my Young Life... life. I could get up in front of everyone and make a fool of myself without breaking a sweat but actually getting to build one-on-one relationships with kids spooked me more than any of those movies I watched last month. But I had to. I had to take the next step. Because when I was in high school, it wasn't the club shenanigans that really impacted my life. It was the time my leaders invested in me, letting me know I was actually worth someone's time. I couldn't settle for being a clown on stage. I had to be a leader, a mentor, a role model.

I'd mentored guys back home. I still am, to some degree, but those circumstances all came about so naturally, so organically, it doesn't seem in retrospect that I made them happen at all. Coming to a new town, a new school, and attempting to break into an already-existing social scene and reach out to kids in this new context is what got me quaking in my seasonably-inappropriate flip flops. But this year, this year I decided I was done coasting, and with the help of some of my other extraordinary Canby leaders, I got to a place where I felt comfortable building these relationships, reaching out, being vulnerable and social and outgoing as the job requires. And now the time I spend with my Young Life guys is the highlight of my week, every week, without fail. This must be my calling, it just must, or I'm totally missing the point of everything.

In my reading life, I have exhausted all the possible Donald Miller books in the world. Granted, he's only written five books, but it's a melancholy thing nonetheless. The last book of his I had to read, which my friend Dylan happened to buy for me from Powell's the day I finished Through Painted Deserts, is called Father Fiction, and is about Don's experience growing up without a father. In an earlier blog I mentioned how much his perspective on this topic touched me through a different book of his, and this one is devoted solely to said topic. Frankly, I was nervous going in. I expected it to be a painful, if necessary process, re-opening some of those old wounds in order for me to heal properly. And I'm glad I did it. If I learned anything from the book it's that, yeah, it sucks I was dealt a crappy hand in the father department, but God has given me everything I need to be a real man, and no one, not even my earthly father, could ever take this away from me.

If anyone gets to the end of this, please let me know. I'll bake you cookies or something. But I'll end on a request. Please send out some prayers for people dealing with unexpected life changes and complications. I'm afraid this is as specific as I can get. Also, pray for those who are in the process of physically or emotionally healing . I really appreciate it. Go with God, stranger.

"Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them."

-Deuteronomy 4:9


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