Summer Movies 2015

Welcome back, everyone. This summer’s post is definitely late, but I’ve had wedding planning and injuries keeping me busy. Check out last year’s post here.

This summer movie season is already off to a great start and I’m sad to admit that I haven’t been able to keep up. Here’s my movie schedule for the rest of the summer: (Click movie title for trailers)

May 1 – The Avengers: Age of Ultron 

Artificial Intelligence bent on keeping humanity safe by destroying is as played out as tropes can get, but the addition of James Spader as Ultron is making me very optimistic about this superhero sequel. (spoilers: it’s fantastic)

May 15 – Mad Max: Fury Road

The original Mad Max films are masterpieces of atmosphere, world-building, and car crash stunts. Tom Hardy is looking appropriately stoic in the title role, the action looks bigger, and the post-apocalyptic fetish outfits are making more uncomfortable than the ones in Beyond Thunderdome. (Cast: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult)

May 15 –  Pitch Perfect 2

Call it a guilty pleasure if you must, but the original made a strong case for women-driven comedic films. The sequel takes the singing competition around the world and adds the Green Bay Packers for some reason (review to come).

May 22 – Tomorrowland 

I have no idea if this film is going to be designed to look like my favorite section of Disney World’s Epcot, but it’s on my radar either way. The special effects and attention to detail look top notch in this sci-fi adventure. (Cast: George Clooney, Hugh Laurie)

May 29 – San Andreas 

My fianceé always gets excited for the “end of the world” movie each summer, and San Andreas is that movie for 2015. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson plays a rescue helicopter pilot during an earthquake.He has a daughter trapped in the wreckage or something. She’ll probably almost die but likely won’t.

June 3 – Entourage 

I never watched the show. I feel like they missed their window on this one, but I might get out to see it.

June 12 – Jurassic World 

Chris Pratt stars in this 4th Jurassic Park movie. BD Wong is back as Asian Science Man #1, as well. The film looks like it borrowed the dumbest parts of Jurassic Park III (super predator dino) and mixed it with the peril of the original (all the dinosaurs get loose on the island and the park falls into chaos). Chris Pratt, though.

June 19 – Inside Out 

I’ll see anything not Cars-related from Pixar, and Inside Out looks very promising. As a therapist, I’m excited to see how the story of a young girl’s emotions will unfold onscreen. Voice cast looks fantastic as well (Lewis Black, Amy Poehler, Bill Hader, Mindy Kaling).

July 1 – Terminator Genisys 

It physically hurt me to type that title. Arnold’s back, Game of Thrones‘ Emilia Clarke is our new Sarah Connor, and the most recent trailer spoils the biggest twist of the movie. Two out of three isn’t bad, I guess.

July 17 : Ant-Man 

Ant-Man is not a top-tier hero, but neither was Iron Man before 2008. Even though Edgar Wright left as director, I’m optimistic about Paul Rudd as the titular hero. In case you didn’t know: Ant-Man can shrink himself, but his strength is inversely proportional to his size; the smaller he is, the stronger. Yeah, we’re starting to scrape the bottom of the Marvel Superhero barrel.

July 31 – Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation 

Tom Cruise is back and doing more of his own stunts. I think I saw him hanging off of a plane in flight at the end, there. As long as Tom Cruise is running, I’ll be right behind him. (Cast: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames)

August 7 – Fantastic Four 

A gritty reboot of the Fantastic Four isn’t the worst idea for a movie this summer, but it’s pretty close. Also, the words “gritty” and “fantastic” should not go in the same sentence (Cast: Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara, Jamie Bell, Toby Kebbell)

That’s all, folks! Lots of superheroes this summer but still a healthy dose of 90s nostalgia with Jurassic Park and Terminator: Genisys (ugh, that title).

What summer movies are you most excited for? 


Setting Good Goals

Goals are some of the most misunderstood facets of life. We all know the general idea of what a goal is but I think we fail to use goals to motivate us. We think things like,  “I’ll start working out tomorrow” or “I’ll buy more veggies next week.” These things are never completed fully and sometimes are never even started at all. Goal-setting feels like it should be common sense, right?

  1. Set a goal
  2. Do it

Why is it so hard to follow through, then? What keeps us from being consistent, motivated, committed?

In my experience with clients and in my personal life, I have seen goals set in unhealthy ways. Setting a goal in an unhealthy way will lead to frustration, disappointment, and will likely keep us from completing the goal. Let’s explore some ways in which we set unhealthy goals:

  • 1. We make goals too big: Goals are necessary to complete tasks, but if we make the goal too large we put ourselves at risk for disappointment and frustration. Now I am not saying to “settle” or aim for less than your best, but we must manage our expectations for ourselves based on where we are. If my goal is to play in the NBA (at 5’7″, without a shred of basketball talent), I will likely be disappointed.
  • 2. We start with more than we can do: If our goal is appropriately large, we must then begin to break that goal down into smaller pieces. If my goal is to bench press 200 pounds, I probably don’t want to start at 180. We have to crawl before we can walk. Break the overall goal into smaller chunks: “what can I do today to make progress towards my goal?” Set a smaller goal for the week, for the month, for the year, for five years. Let your goals guide your behaviors.
  • 3. We expect perfection: setbacks happen when trying to make changes. This is inevitable. It is a very difficult thing to get outside our comfort zone and make changes. Our old ways will fight back and we will slip: we will skip a daily run or cheat on our diet. It is important to take the setback for what it is and stay focused to be more successful the next time you experience a setback in the changes you are making.

Crafting a healthy relationship with goals is a life long journey of trial, error, and compassion. The points mentioned above are great places to start, but there is no magic in them. Change is hard work, but I have seen that putting a bit more thought into the creation of goals themselves saves a lot of frustration and heartache when it’s time to get down to the business of self-improvement.



What goals are you setting for yourself today? 

Film Friday | “X-Men: Days of Future Past”

This film is a true testament to the insanity of Hollywood.

The original X-Men film, released in 2000, was a surprise hit. It jump-started the now-longstanding popularity of superhero movies and was a pretty well-crafted adaptation of a legendary comic series. A sense of surreal nostalgia washed over me as I watched this new film, Days of Future Past: in the year 2000, there were no iPhones, Frasier and Friends were still on the air, 911 was just the phone number we called for help, and Hugh Jackman was an unknown actor. Can you even put yourself back in that mindset? The world was a different place then. That the original cast could return to a film 8 years after the last one they made together is pure Hollywood insanity.

The movie starts in the not-too-distant future. Sentinels have taken over the world, enslaved humanity, and killed almost all mutants. The film opens by showing mutants trying their best to merely survive against the Sentinels: giant, shape-shifting, almost invincible machines. They meet up with Xavier (Patrick Stewart), Magneto (Ian McKellan), and Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) and contrive a plan to send Wolverine into the past to stop this reality from ever occurring. Wolverine is sent to 1973 where he meets the cast of the well-received reboot film X-Men: First Class. His mission is to prevent the assassination of Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage), the creator of the Sentinels.

If this feels complicated, just know that it is and it isn’t. Director Bryan Singer does a fine job of balancing what is happening in the future with what is going on in the past. The stakes are always very clear and the entire film feels appropriately tense. The audience can sense the race against time itself as Wolverine and the young Xavier (James McAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) struggle to change their future.

The film is filled with great performances, particularly from Fassbender and McAvoy. McAvoy especially shines in this film as he must portray young Xavier’s arc from apathy to responsible leadership. The fight scenes are thankfully free of shaky-cam and finally feel like watching the old 90’s X-Men cartoon, where teamwork was more important than any individual power. The Sentinels were fantastically realized: cold, unfeeling, powerful, scary. Gone are the goofy faces of the cartoon sentinels; these ones mean business.

Overall, I would highly recommend this movie, especially if you’ve seen the other X-Men films. The narrative carries a lot more weight if you have developed a connection with the characters in their other movies, but this isn’t necessary. This was a popcorn movie done right.

What did you think of X-Men: Days of Future Past?




  • The Kelsey Grammer cameo almost made me give a standing ovation. Beautiful.
  • The final scenes of the film, with all of the previously-dead mutants from the now-rebooted timeline, were very affecting for me. It felt like a strong closure and an appropriately warm goodbye to the characters.
  • Quicksilver’s big moment was everything I wanted it to be.
  • The end credit stinger was a young version of Apocalypse, one of the ultimate villains of the X-Men. He has pretty much every power you could ever want: shape-shifting, telekinesis, the ability to shoot energy beams, being able to change his body into weapons, regeneration, telepathy, teleportation, and he wears alien power armor that makes him even more durable. He’s an ancient mutant and occasionally recruits other mutants to become his Four Horsemen. Apocalypse was marvelously represented in the 90’s cartoon.  I absolutely love how deep into comic lore mainstream movies are getting, don’t you?

Film Friday: “Godzilla”

Godzilla is here! The new film directed by Gareth Edwards follows the old ways of Godzilla movies past. Edwards’ first film, Monsters, was a well-crafted suspenseful travel movie that focused more on the human characters and their connection than on Monsters wrecking the landscape. The end result was a taught little film that conveyed an organic emotional arc with a side of mortal danger and paranoia.

Godzilla follows a similar pattern, starting with a harrowing event that introduces the human conflict of the film. Aaron Taylor-Johnson plays Ford Brody, an Army bomb tech who reconnects with his engineer father, Joe, (Bryan Cranston) in Japan. Together, they explore the secret behind the tragedy they both survived years earlier. Unhappy with the Japanese government’s cover up of the disaster, Joe is obsessed with the idea that some thing caused his nuclear plant to meltdown.

From here, the plot unfolds as the government races to contain the mess and the Fords struggle to survive. Ken Watanabe and David Strathairn are featured, playing a scientist and an Admiral, respectively, but they are underused. The writing doesn’t give them much to work with, really.

Godzilla then shows up in response to Man’s tinkering with Nature. He’s huge, powerful, and makes his appearance “to bring balance to the world.” It’s hard to even comprehend the sheer size of Godzilla here, but several clever set pieces provide a sense of scale and horror.

Yes, Godzilla fights another monster, eventually, but the creature action takes a back seat to the human drama. Edwards teases us with short skirmishes between the giant beasts, but the real showdown isn’t seen until the very end of the film. As frustrating as this tends to make the viewing experience, it is a wise decision that keeps us wanting more.

This decision would have been more less frustrating had the emotional core of the film been more satisfying. Brody Ford is just not a very interesting character. He’s an Army Man and loves his family, but that’s about all we are given. He travels from Point A to Point B and grimly pushes on, doing stuff and things. Monsters, in comparison, featured two leads that played well off of each other and who deepened their bond together as the film progressed. That kind of interplay is sorely missing in Godzilla.

Overall, Godzilla is a fine film and greatly entertaining. The cinematography and score are excellent and the creatures are realized with a sense of weight and power that make them feel real. I fully appreciate Edwards’ throwback/homage approach to making his kaiju feature. The King of the Monsters is finally back.




  • The Mothra Easter Egg was fabulous fan-service to the classics. Sequel? (It’s in the scene where the Brody’s go back to their old house in Japan. Look for a terrarium with a cocoon)
  • I was worried the movie would not feature Godzilla’s Atomic Breath. I was absolutely giddy as his tail/scales started to glow.
  • Bryan Cranston’s character’s death severely weakened the emotional core of the film. I think had he survived, the film would be substantially more engaging. Consider that nit picked.


What did you think of Godzilla? 



Be Not Overcome With Excuses


Source, found on WordPress Here. Click the image to enlarge. 

What do you feel when you look at the chart above? Do you feel inspired? Encouraged? Challenged? Motivated? Ashamed? If you feel a twinge of guilt after reading through the suggestions in the picture, then keep reading. You’re not alone.

Too often we let charts and graphs like this defeat us. There is a treasure trove of top-tier tips gathered in the image above, but we’re likely to scan over it for 10 seconds, decide it sucks, and close the Tab on our browser to look at more pictures of cats. Why is that? The layout is whimsical, sure, but I think there’s a bigger issue at play: we are afraid of making changes. We glance at a couple of the suggestions on the graph and write off the idea of being more productive as a fantasy equivalent to peace in the Middle East or the Cubs winning the World Series.

We make excuses, rationalize, deny. These defenses come much more naturally than admitting we are lacking in some way. We fear change almost as much as we fear failure, so we externalize our fear and become dismissive of well-intentioned advice. We do not see a forest of great suggestions for the trees of small changes we’d rather not make because we fear we won’t be successful:

“I don’t have time to exercise.”
“It’s too expensive to eat healthy.”
“Only hipsters wear smart fabric.”

We do mental gymnastics in order to sidestep the possibility that there might be room for improvement in the way we live, work, and think. The healthy habits suggested in the chart step on our toes and challenge us. That is supposed to be an uncomfortable feeling. Do you feel it? Notice how you feel bad (sad, guilty, ashamed) about the unhealthy habits in your life but your mind rushes to defend you, how it makes excuses, denies, rationalizes. That’s your fear. It is the assassin of self-improvement.

Now, take a deep breath. Relax. Read the graph again slowly. This will take longer than 10 seconds. The cats can wait.

Start at the middle of the graph. Follow one thread at a time away from the center, pausing on each bubble. Mindfully consider each suggested change and picture implementing it in your life. Can you see it? Some suggestions might not be a good fit for you right now, but strive to be open-minded about how you’d like to improve your career, your home, or your mind. Take another deep breath, create a plan of action, start small, and start today. A better you is hidden beneath your excuses.


What changes will you make today?



Film Friday: “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”

Don’t read too much into this film.

Several reviews have touted Captain America: The Winter Soldier as a stark commentary on the times in which we live, where surveillance is omnipresent and the term “preemptive strike” is synonymous with “safety.”

The writers of those reviews must not have watched the last act of the film (See spoilers/rambling section).

To be sure, The Winter Soldier does a fantastic job of juxtaposing our current ethically grey “strike first” mentality with the more traditional foreign policy of Steve Rogers (Chris Evans). Captain Rogers must still adjust to the new world in which he finds himself. In his day, America’s military dealt with the bad guys who did bad things. Steve Rogers’ America didn’t spy on or kill anyone who might possibly become a bad guy in the future.

However, the Captain’s moral conflict is meant to propel the plot, nothing more. Captain Rogers is given a shady mission and uncovers a secret that changes everything he thought he knew about his new world.

As Rogers leaps into action to uncover the truth, he encounters the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), a lethal assassin with a robotic arm who is a match for The Captain in each of their brutal fights. The fights between these two are incredibly well done and have just the right amount of that shaky camera the kids these days seem to love.

Rogers is joined on his quest by recurring teammate Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and newcomer Sam Wilson, who goes by the codename “Falcon” (Anthony Mackie). These three characters are the heart and soul of the film. The interactions between them feel naturalistic and, at times, snarky, almost Whedon-esque (which is a good thing). The pairing of Evans and Johansson is refreshingly platonic and the two bicker like siblings. When they stick their necks out for each other it matters so much more because they’re not out to jump each others’ bones. Falcon fits into this blended family like a weird uncle or cousin: ready to help any way he can, having more courage than sense.

Captain America: The Winter Solider takes an old-school approach to a central conspiracy that it unravels with unrelenting momentum. The Winter Soldier is my favorite Marvel film to date: more serious than the Avengers but with that deft comedic touch Marvel does so well. Directors Anthony and Joe Russo deliver a classic political thriller coated in a glossy modern sheen. In the end, we care about Captain America because he’s a Good ol’ Boy. He’s the perfect white hat hero who does the right thing even when greying things up would be so much easier.



  • Ok, there is no relevant social commentary because S.H.I.E.L.D. was infiltrated with NAZIS. Come on, guys. Do you really think the Russo Brothers and their writing team are equating our modern approach to National Security with Nazis? The plot contains at least one classic trope twist.
  • I watch action movies for the opportunity to witness fistfights as good as the ones in The Winter Soldier. Simply wonderful.
  • Danny Pudi!

Honesty is Not Always the Best Policy

One of the most common difficulties facing the clients I work with is the idea that brutal honesty is something to be proud of. I hear it almost daily:

  • “I call it like I see it.”
  • “I don’t sugar coat things.”
  • “I didn’t do it right.”
  • “It’s my fault I’m in this situation.”
  • “I should have known better.”

These are truthful statements, of course, but when struggling with depression or low self worth, these truths are poisonous to change and recovery.

Continue reading

New Blog Theme/Life Update

It’s new! It’s shiny! It’s minimalistic! (It’s free)

I’m liking this new theme so far. The font is a bit serif-y for me, but that’s a small gripe. I like the simplicity and the amount of white space. It pulls the eye to the content and leaves no room for frills. I’ll let it stay for now. (Theme: Syntax by Automattic)

Meanwhile in the real world, my Grad School internship has turned into a full-time job: I am a therapist. It’s still a bit surreal and every now and then I feel like I’m going to have to go home and write a paper or go to a night class. The transition from internship to job (career?) was seamless and I think I’m still adjusting to that.

Almost daily I’m being reminded that I still have so much to learn about therapy, working with other professionals, and myself. I’ve been caught up in my head about a lot of it for a while now and I’ve felt my personal process try to creep into my mind while I’m at work. It’s distracting and it’s no way to live life or do my job effectively, so here I am, internet.

Let’s see where this goes.



“If you say you can or you can’t you are right either way” 
― Henry Ford

Summer Movies 2014

It’s that time of year again: I tell you what movies to watch! See last year’s post here.

…Click the movie title for the trailer…

April 4 – Captain America: The Winter Soldier

I’m loving Chris Evans in this role and am excited for the sequel to the original film. Expect more of the Captain adjusting to modern day life and the shades of gray that have crept into how the world handles conflict.

May 2 – The Amazing Spider-Man 2

After the reboot no one was sure they wanted (which was a kick-ass film that honored the origins of the character), we have a new film. Jamie Foxx plays deep-cut villain Electro and Andrew Garfield returns with his snarky and honest portrayal of Peter Parker.

May 16 – Godzilla

After the 1998, uh, attempt at making a modern Godzilla tale, the world is ready for more monster destruction. Gareth Edwards (Monsters) leads a phenomenal cast including Bryan Cranston, Aaron Johnson, and Ken Watanabe. Rumor has it there are multiple monsters that Godzilla will hopefully snap in half. I’m very excited for this one.

May 23 – X-Men: Days of Future Past

Hard to believe it’s been 14 years since the original movie. Hugh Jackman and his abs are back, along with Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellan, and the cast of X-Men: First Class. The movie adapts a legendary arc from the comics and finally gives us Sentinels on the big screen. They were a huge part of the 90s cartoon and I cannot wait to see them in action.

May 30 – A Million Ways to Die in the West

Seth McFarlane does Seth McFarlane things. I’m no snob, but his humor is hit or miss for me. Liam Neeson, Amanada Seyfried, and Charlize Theron also star and/or are very strapped for cash at the moment.

June 6 – Edge of Tomorrow

Tom Cruise stars in a violent dystopia actioner with elements of Groundhog Day. Apparently, the film was inspired by gamers reloading their video games at a quick-save point after they die. I’m in it for the Tom Cruise running scenes.

June 13 – 22 Jump Street

Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill return to milk some more nostalgia money from 80s kids. The first one was surprisingly funny and effectively showcased Tatum’s hidden talent for comedy. I’m 50/50 on whether or not I’ll just wait for it in Redbox.

June 27 – Transformers: Age of Extinction 

Michael Bay’s Baysplosions and robots are back, but this time there’s Marky Mark. I want to say I won’t see this, but I feel like I still will. 22 Jump Street can’t get all the nostalgia money, now…

July 11 – Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Rise of the Planet of the Apes was one of the most surprisingly engaging and well-paced action films in recent memory, so I’m excited to see how the damn dirty apes escalate their war on humans in the sequel.

July 25 – Hercules 

Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson is Hercules. I’m not sure if I need any more information than that.

August 1 – Guardians of the Galaxy

Chris Pratt is Star Lord, the leader of a rag-tag group of weirdos in Marvel’s newest. The Guardians have a strong cult following among comic nerds, but it will be interesting to see how many homeowners will get out to see this one.

August 8 – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Holy hell, this is the summer of nostalgia. I freaking loved the Turtles when I was a child, but I have a car payment now and Megan Fox is in this movie.

August 15 – The Expendables

Stallone, Schwarzenegger, and their prune juice now add Wesley Snipes, Harrison Ford, and Mel Gibson to the old folks home. Don’t misunderstood the snark: I will see this.

August 22 – Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

Robert Rodriguez has assembled another big cast with lots of familiar faces from the first film (Mickey Rourke, Rosario Dawson, Michael Madsen, Jessica Alba). Can we be excited for a sequel after all these years?

That’s it! There’s a chance most of these films will be schlocky attempts to rekindle a love for properties well past their time, but I can still appreciate a good time at the movies.

What summer movie are you most excited for? 

Fast Food Epiphany

Tonight, I finished the last class of my Master’s degree.

Here’s how I celebrated the end of my formal education for the foreseeable future: I wanted to pig out on some unhealthy fast food, so on the suggestion of my classmate Jennifer, I treated myself to some Arby’s. You know, cuz it’s more expensive than a normal fast food place. I opted to go into the store because hey, that way I get to sit and eat and not clean up after myself. Oh yes, it’s like that.

As I sat there eating my sandwich and dipping my curly fries in my usual double play of honey mustard and Arby’s sauce, I had a thought: I used to work at Arby’s for about 2 years in high school. On warm summer evenings just like tonight, 17-year old Aaron served roast beef and mozzarella sticks to people in a hot greasy mess of teenaged awkwardness and angst.

That was 6 years ago. Today I finished a Master’s degree. As I looked at the current employees of the Arby’s tonight, I thought about who they were, who they might be, what they might do. Someone there might get a Master’s or some other graduate degree. Someone might be a doctor. Someone could be an astronaut. They’re only teenagers, after all. They have their entire lives ahead of them, just like I did then. It made me think about how people have such potential and possibility, how 17 year-old Aaron never in a million years would have guessed he’d have a Master’s in Counseling one day. He was too busy chasing girls and playing in a band. He never could have imagined things could possibly work out so beautifully.

So then here I was, having an emotional reaction and smiling like an idiot to myself in the middle of Arby’s and I just wanted to hug Jimi, the chill guy behind the counter, to tell him he could be anything he wanted to be and that life could be all that he dreamed and to never give up on himself…

…but instead I ordered a Jamocha shake and a cherry turnover to go and went about my amazing, blessed life.

I hope Jimi does too.