31 December 2008

Out With a Bang

It's the end of the year so why not end it with a Top Ten list? These are ten fun ideas, theories, or terms that have entered the Jon lexicon in 2008. Without further ado, the list:
(1) The Persistence Theory
We've determined that persistence and proximity is the way to a girl's heart. I hope you'll agree.

(2) Intervention Teams
Everyone makes bad decisions in life, here's what needs to happen when your friends make one. Or fifty.

(3) My So-Called Life
Are the days slipping on by? Forget what you're doing year by year? Everything blending together? Try creating a life spreadsheet!

(4) Crossing the Streams
Do you like to mix your friend groups? Should you consider it? Maybe, maybe not.

(5) Man-ic Panic
Men in their late 20s are freaking out and taking drastic action to jump start or escape from their lives. It's a phenomenon.

(6) Fussy Buddy
Find out if you suck to be around. Debbie Downer? Fussy Buddy? Nobody calls you to hang out? Here's why. Also includes the term of the year: FOMO.

(7) Social Manipulation
Admit it, you like it when things go your way socially.

(8) Karaoke Set List
Don't sleep on the power of scripting your first few karaoke songs.

(9) Arch-nemesis
Life is too short not to have frenemies and enemies. Who's the Batman to your Superman? Who's your Lex Luthor?

(10) Relationship Worksheet
Makes for great conversation starters, reference charts, and overall analysis of what's wrong with you (them).

24 December 2008

Crazy Love

From EW's 2004 review of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, possibly my most romantic movie of all time:
"[Jim] Carrey has often played timid, stammering nerds, but this is the first time he has eradicated any hint of stylization. He makes Joel a deeply vulnerable ordinary man, too 'nice' for his own good, haunted by dreams of romance he's scarcely bold enough to voice to himself. We can see why he's attracted to Clementine -- she's the sort of highly eroticized, let's-try-anything girl who's a geek's idea of romantic danger -- and, more mysteriously, why she digs him: The way [Kate] Winslet plays the role, her volatility masks a deeply fractured soul. These two couldn't be more different, yet deep down they're matching wrecks."

22 December 2008


Earlier this year I introduced the the world to the life timeline. Its purpose was for remembering, analyzing, and just using the power of Excel to get some perspective on your life. Well, it's nearing the end of 2008 and I'm ready to drop another life spreadsheet on you. Introducing the Relationship Worksheet. The idea behind it is dead simple. By now, if you are around my age, you've probably had a few relationships under your belt. If you're exactly me, shit's gone wrong, patterns have emerged, issues have been fixed, then unfixed, and hopefully fixed again, but you're just lacking that overall big picture view. By taking just a few minutes I can solve this problem for you.

Open up a spreadsheet, use the template, and plug in your own answers. Then go take a break and return with fresh eyes. Take a look at your relationship worksheet. Notice any patterns? Do you always date emotionally withdrawn people? There it is, plain as day. Are all your relationships just long enough to last through a full calendar year? Afraid of commitment buddy, just admit it. Do you need to stop dating the nice, sweet, but ultimately boring guy? Been there, done that. Should you try dating older? Um, maybe.

Feel free to drop in some new rows with anything you feel might be relevant. Possibilities can range from things like "Did my friends approve?" to "Did we say 'I love you?'" Use your imagination and tell me if you hit on anything super crucial that should be part of the standard template. You don't even have to constrain this to honest to goodness relationships. Include some semi-serious dates, flings, grey areas, etc. I can't help you define exactly what a "relationship" is but maybe by putting everything down you'll figure it out yourself.

Another huge side benefit of this thing is that it makes it much easier to talk about relationships with your friends. I mean, I've recently completed this with a friend and now we have a fuller picture of each other's relationship histories and we can commence haterade-ing by talking about specifics. No more "Wait, which one was that again? When did you date? And for how long?" Cut that bullshit out and just refer to the spreadsheet. Use your valuable time deconstructing the failed relationship, not constantly rehashing the statistics of it.

I know, freaking genius, someone give me an award. Or just send me your worksheet so we can talk about it.

If you want to get real serious, I've seen this around in bookstores and always sort of want to pick it up: "Love Listography: Your Love Life in Lists." Who doesn't love lists?!

20 December 2008

Bolt (2008)

I can't quite figure out if Pixar did the animation for this movie. I don't think so since everything I can find out about it only indicates that John Lasseter helped produce Bolt. We waltzed into the movie past the previews but just in time to catch a Cars remake of Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, which was probably better than the actual Cars.

While Bolt is definitely geared toward younger audiences, it's got enough entertaining elements to keep adults engaged for most of its running time. It's not witty or clever like other Pixar films but even Pixar can't do Pixar anymore. Overall the film was a quality production, with good animation, engaging sidekicks, and a run of the mill "Homeward Bound" story. Disney's been here before but that's okay I guess. The best part of watching the movie was catching it in 3D, which added a lot to the experience, unlike my last 3D movie outing.

18 December 2008

The Secret

"There are few things humans are more dedicated to than unhappiness. Had we been placed on earth by a malign creator for the exclusive purpose of suffering, we would have good reason to congratulate ourselves on our enthusiastic response to the task. Reasons to be inconsolable abound: the frailty of our bodies, the fickleness of love, the insincerities of social life, the compromises of friendship, the deadening effects of habit. In the face of such persistent ills, we might naturally expect that no event would be awaited with greater anticipation than the moment of our own extinction."
-How Proust Can Change Your Life-
I'm working through "How Proust Can Change Your Life," by Alain de Botton. It's slotted mysteriously under self-help and I guess that's useful from a marketing standpoint but I've found it just to be a great book full of interesting ideas and more personal/social commentary along the lines of Friendship: An Expose. Regardless of exactly what it is, it's a fascinating book and written beautifully.

Basically there are chapters based on Proust's writings and worldview on how to love your life, how to express your emotions, how to be a good friend, how to be happy in love, how to read, how to interpret art, and how to revel in the details. Fine, it's a self-help book. Whatevers. But it's one that's written well, isn't dumbed down to simple "Life is blah blah blah" type of pronouncements, and holds no promises for a better life. It's just a good read to get you thinking.

Of particular interest to me was his chapter on friendship, which spoke to my heart and gave me confirmation that the way I think/treat friendships might just be okay after all. Proust had cynical views about friendships in general but yet he was a tremendous and much loved friend. "It meant that Proust's overwhelming priority in any encounter was to ensure that he would be liked, remembered, and thought well of." Some call it being manipulative, some call it being a calculating bastard, I see it as a defense of cynical, self-centered, but ultimately great, friendships. Proust and I must get together more, he seems like a fascinating guy.
"Given the effort and strategic intelligence he devoted to friendship, it shouldn't surprise us. For instance, it is assumed, usually by people who don't have many friends, that friendship is a hallowed sphere in which what we wish to talk about effortlessly coincides with others' interests. Proust, less optimistic than this, recognized the likelihood of discrepancy, and concluded that he should always be the one to ask questions and address himself to what was on your mind rather than risk boring you with what was on his."

17 December 2008

The Beautiful Game

And from a recent Secret Santa (we used this site, which was awesome, Elfster.com), I received this book, "The Macrophenomenal Pro Basketball Almanac" written by the great team behind freedarko.com. Basically the book celebrates and profiles some of the NBA's more interesting stars. Their manifesto focuses on the beauty of the game, the game beyond wins, losses, and stats. It's beautifully illustrated and a must-read for every basketball fan. I've often thought that the way someone plays the game reflects their personality and I know some people agree with me. I'd rather trust my fifteen minute impression of someone playing basketball than the one I get from talking to them. It's that serious.

And check out this NBA Archetypes post by Upside and Motor. It's comprehensive, well thought out, and comes with examples. Freaking awesome.

Gang Green

The Celtics are 23-2, have won their past fifteen games in a row, and are approaching a record setting start. There's even talk that they might be the best Celtic team ever. Now I know that's hyperbole, especially considering they've only won one championship, but they are really good and a joy to watch. I'm still childishly giddy about how successful they are.

I mean, last year the team was thrown together, happened to gel and coalesced into championship form ahead of schedule. The common thinking was that the KG-Ray-Pierce trio would need one full year to hit their stride. Well, now they've hit their stride and they're crushing opponents. A showdown with the hated Lakers looms Christmas Day but even though the Celts have lost James Posey and PJ Brown, they are possibly better than last year. The Lakers are better this year too but we whupped them last year so I don't see how this year will be any different. Their biggest challenge will probably be Lebron and the Cavaliers out East, not the Lakers and the rest of the ragtag West contenders. How quickly things change.

This version of the Celtics is easy to love and is so basketball perfect-classic. A point guard who's a defensive terror and can both distribute and drive to the hoop at will. A two guard with the prettiest jumper in the game. A do everything small forward equally adept in all phases of the game. An ultra-athletic four who can post up, consistently drain the seventeen footer, and defend and rebound. A beefy center who has a mean streak and lives to block shots and clean the boards.

Plus they're all so fun to follow. I mean, for one, third year point guard Rajon Rondo is amazing. His first career triple double was 16 points, 13 rebounds, and 17 assists. Oh, and add three steals to boot. The last time someone threw up such a huge triple double was, well, Magic Johnson? Rondo's been killing teams this season and is making his case for the All Star squad. Ray Allen has found his niche in the offense (after struggling a bit on that end last season) and has been the early season team MVP. He's not over the hill, not by a long shot. Paul Pierce has fully evolved into the perfect all around player and he's upped his defensive intensity another notch this year. And Kendrick Perkins is a beast. Then there's Kevin Garnett, whose mouth is used to intimidate opponents and whip his teammates into a frenzy. Heck, he even made Glen Davis cry once.

I would love to watch this team in person. Just once. It might literally be a once in a lifetime experience, to see the defending Celtics live. Last year I said I'd pay $1000 to fly to Boston to catch a Finals game if they made it. Silly me. A thousand dollars wouldn't have gotten me anywhere near the court. This year, I looked up tickets for the Lakers-Celtics bash at Staples and the cheap seats were like $300. If I'm going to go watch them live, I want to watch it super up close and personal. I want to be sweated on and never wash my shirt again. Sadly, I don't have a few grand just lying around though. Is it worth a laptop to watch one basketball game? My heart says yes but my head (and wallet) say no.


15 December 2008

And Justice 4 All

Listening to: Betty Everett, "It's in His Kiss (The Shoop Shoop Song)." But only on Youtube as performed by Aretha.

A few weeks ago, there was a Yelp holiday party. You had to email a special address and ask to be invited. I'm not really a yelper (although I was onto it way early thanks to Ameer) but I thought I'd be a shoo-in. When the time came for George and Dann's excited "We got in!" announcements, I had to hang my head in shame because I was out. That's right, virtual rejection, a new and thrilling low.

At the time, Jon G thought he was rejected too but it turned out he hadn't emailed them so he was basically choosing not to attend out of his own free will. The party featured free alcohol and a night at The Exploratorium. While the non-rejectees said it was fun, I didn't feel like I missed out on too much.

Today's a different story. Go to the main page of Yelp.com right now. Look on the right side under Review of the Day. See someone familiar (click here if it's not Monday anymore)? Yes, it's true, Jon G now has officially more hits for something he's done online than I've ever had in my Internet life. He's an sensation! I seethe with jealousy but bask in his reflected glow. I know a Review of the Day Yelper now, which will be a fact I pull out at parties everywhere. Seriously, Yelp is like huge. So far his review has been rated 10 useful, 6 funny, and 8 cool.

The worst/great part of this is that I introduced him to Ramen Club, and I'm the one addicted to ramen while he's just so-so. I'm also the one who's frequented the place three times in one week and am slowly worming my way into the server's heart to get free green tea ice cream. My review is right there (under Jonelle Y. and a few days earlier) and George and I told all our friends to Yelp this place because we needed a good ramen place within walking distance of the Marina. Well, now Jon G has done it and with this one review, I bet he's single-handedly responsible for keeping Ramen Club in business. So thanks, and congrats, to Jon G.

Just last Friday, we had been talking about how Dann stole George's first to review thunder for some BBQ place. George told him about it, said there were no reviews, but then neglected to review it herself. Dann pounced on her misstep like an opportunistic tiger, got the first to review badge, and then George sent him a scathing email like "You reviewed it first! You stole it!" That made Dann feel so guilty he deleted his review and now it looks like someone else snuck in there and stole that little blue badge away from both of them. There's a moral to the story here: Don't succumb to friend-guilt.

I know, this is like fighting for pennies when Jon G just won the lottery but still, it's important that little things in life give you motivation.

10 December 2008

Stuff I've Been Reading 12

  • Evil Genius - Catherine Jinks
  • Top of the World: 2008 Boston Celtics - Peter May
  • 24 Girls in 7 Days - Alex Bradley
  • Sex and the Single Girl - Helen Gurley Brown
  • A Step From Heaven - An Na
  • Good Omens - Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman
  • Shenzhen: A Travelogue From China - Guy Delisle
  • Speak - Laurie Halse Anderson
  • So I've been keeping this column for a year now. It's proven to be useful in remembering what I've been reading but beyond that I'm not sure it's served much purpose. I do enjoy writing it though and it's been fun to go looking through what I've read in the past month. In the long run it makes more sense to do this over at Goodreads since most of my reading friends are on there. I'm sure it'll be easier to compile and update too. So I'm thinking this may be my last "Stuff I've Been Reading."

    With that in mind, I wanted to do some statistical analysis on exactly what sorts of things I've spent my time on. A month or two ago, one of my friends asked me for my Top 50 fiction books. I didn't think I'd read that many good books period, much less fiction. But I'm a sucker for lists so I gave it my best shot. I petered out around forty books I'd generally recommend. It seemed depressing. Like all this time spent reading, a literal lifetime, and I couldn't compile fifty great books to recommend. I finished my list but only by really stretching the bounds of "great." I had to resort to using "classic," which really means nothing. I had to even dig deep into middle school and high school books. "Where the Red Fern Grows" anyone?

    Roughly speaking, I've read 75 books this year. That doesn't sound too bad, considering it's an average of a book every five days. But that's taking into account books that aren't really books. Light fluffy page turners, non-fiction topical things, and YA novels that are high in excitement but really only take a few hours to breeze through. Plus, compiling the list from my Stuff I've Been Reading 1-12 is a bit misleading because there's some books I've reread and some books I didn't fully finish. There was only one month I read nothing, March, which coincided with having to turn in one of the major drafts of Exclusively Chloe.

    The general breakdown goes like this: 75 total books read. 22 fiction, 30 non-fiction, 18 young adult, and 5 on how to write or writing related. Of those thirty non-fiction books, eight dealt with the Celtics, basketball, or chess. I don't mean to separate out YA but they are generally shorter and easy to breeze through and often were read for research purposes. Of the fiction books, three were short story compilations, five or six were part of a sci-fi/fantasy series, and only three or four were heavy and serious book-like. Oh and one was a graphic novel.

    Overall, for my year of reading, I'd be able to say that I'd recommend seven books that were definitely really great. My top ten looks like this, with the bottom three being a bit of a stretch.
    1. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay - Michael Chabon
    2. Love is a Mix Tape - Rob Sheffield
    3. How To Be Alone - Jonathan Franzen
    4. Speak - Laurie Halse Anderson
    5. Watchmen - Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons
    6. The Princess Bride - William Goldman
    7. Good Omens - Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman
    8. Soon I Will Be Invincible - Austin Grossman
    9. Lullaby - Chuck Palahniuk
    10. Personal Days - Ed Park
    That's kind of, well, sad. It means that approximately for every ten books I read, only one is truly memorable and worth recommending. Then again, that's probably a similar ratio with movies.

    I made three large Amazon orders this year, each time for about a dozen books. I rediscovered the wonders of the library, tried to resist buying things in brick and mortar establishments, and received lots of free YA books provided to me. Total cost of buying books (which I can write off!) is probably $600. A small price to pay for edification and knowledge right? Then again, I question what I really remember from most of these books. My long term memory is shot and even though I was fascinated by books about Google, McDonald's, Wal-Mart, The Fifties, biological civilization, Wall Street, I'm not sure what I could recall too many interesting facts or stories.

    All in all, it's probably a sign that I should divide up my reading time better. Read some books that have heft (and smaller print), try to read and process, and more importantly, remember what might be striking about each piece. Maybe it's time to start a book journal to jot down thoughts, great lines, and interesting themes that need to be explored.

    Anyhow, thanks Nick Hornby for the inspiration! It's been fun.

    08 December 2008

    Looking Glass

    "It is easier to read a book than to write one; easier to listen to a song than to compose one; easier to attend a play than to produce one. But movies in particular suffer from this user asymmetry. The intensely collaborative work needed to coddle chemically treated film and paste together its strips into movies meant that it was vastly easier to watch a movie than to make one.

    A Hollywood blockbuster can take a million person-hours to produce and only two hours to consume. But now, cheap and universal tools of creation (megapixel phone cameras, Photoshop, iMovie) are quickly reducing the effort needed to create moving images. To the utter bafflement of the experts who confidently claimed that viewers would never rise from their reclining passivity, tens of millions of people have in recent years spent uncountable hours making movies of their own design."
    -Kevin Kelly, Becoming Screen Literate-

    05 December 2008

    Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

    Stop right here if you plan on seeing the movie. I'm going to spoil a few things, if not plot details, at least the emotional ride that is best experienced first hand. To begin with, the film is incredibly engulfing. It's almost impossible not to get drawn in as you experience the childhood scenes of young vagrant Jamal and his brother, Salim. The story is structured around Jamal's amazing success at the Indian version of "Who Wants to be a Millionaire." Because he's just a street rat (scoundrel! take that!), the unctuous host hands him over the authorities for interrogation on suspicion of cheating. Great premise, interesting set up. The frenetic energy pushes the film along and you get invested into the story. All great stuff.

    That's why it's so jarring when during the last third of the movie, you have to suspend your disbelief so much in order to make everything work. I felt like the movie was like the Tower of Terror, a slow rise to the top, a thrilling climax, and then a drop that makes you want to yack when hitting bottom. Character's motivations fly out the window, too many coincidences occur, and it becomes clear that this isn't just fiction but a fairy tale. And the game show gimmick tires a little bit, even if it's deftly done. I want to wholeheartedly recommend the movie and give it an enthusiastic thumbs up but the ending confused and flabbergasted me a little too much. It's still a worth a watch though.

    One of our friends (who hasn't seen the movie yet) said that it was supposed to be the most convincing portrayal of life in the Indian slums. Since I don't know anything about that particular subject, I'll take her word for it because the movie did seem quite realistic in that sense.

    03 December 2008

    The Air Up There

    "The rap on [Brett] Favre over the years has been his lack of impulse control, his confident conviction that he can 'make something happen' by dint of his will and a strong right arm. That's what accounts for the interceptions: forcing passes into bad situations.

    But it also accounts for his success. It's what makes him exciting, what his fans most admire in him -- and most often cringe at. Like any mythological hero, he is thus undone by the very gift that makes him heroic."
    -New York Times-

    02 December 2008

    Our Space

    Listening to: Janelle Monae, maybe the next big thing? Like Andre 3000 plus Lauryn Hill. Can't decide if I actually dig her music yet but her fusion of punk rock soul is interesting.

    I'm fighting a gradual slide into being a nocturnal person again, which is a bit disappointing because I've been waking up at ten-ish (or earlier) for the past three weeks. I suppose I shouldn't fight it too hard because the time nears when I'll soon have to start looking for jobs. I'm pretty committed to the idea of moving up and it takes a hefty penny to live here. So I will work to blow out 2008, the year of not working, in fine lazy fashion. Then I will tether my 2009 to a crappy job and long for the days of sleeping in.

    So I've been staying at George's apartment in San Francisco for awhile now and it's safe to say that it's been a grand success. In fact, I've discovered that she's kind of turned into mini-me. She's constantly on her iPhone, loves to bum out on the couch, reads before bed, and is excited when new Netflix arrives. In our old age we are connecting and fusing into one. Soon people will have to say JonGeorge or GeorgeJon and drop the "and." We also realized over the Thanksgiving weekend that we're the only single folk in our mutual friendship circle. Everyone else is either married, engaged, in a long term relatonship, or in a psudeo-relationship. We're the only ones left! Mom Yang is frankly panicked about me taking over George's couch because what kind of guy will want to date a girl who has her brother camped out in her living room?

    The good news is that I've infiltrated George's apartment completely. I have my own computer station, my own pillow, and my own super big fuzzy blanket. She's also been kind enough to give me two cubbies on her big Ikea wall shelf. I, in turn, have increased the amount of junk food in her house by 500%. I'm really settling in.

    We watch TV in matching flannel pajama pants.

    It warmed my heart to see that her DVR still has stuff I recorded months ago and now I'm busy filling it up with basketball and football games while she carves out space for Brothers and Sisters, Top Chef, and the Britney documentary. We've recently hosted an ice cream party and often desire to eat the same foods for dinner. Basically we're reliving our teenage years together.

    So far, my biggest accomplishment (aside from avoiding being kicked out) is introducing her to Felicity. I did it all strategically too, making sure we had no Netflix movies on tap, there was nothing good left on DVR, and she was ready to be emotionally bombarded. That pilot episode of Felicity. Goddam. If you can't feel anything watching Felicity be all awkward, pathetic, and lost in love, you are dead inside. We shot through four episodes in short order and really pulled the mood of the night down, but in a really great way. Take the Felicity challenge, I dare you.

    I just wanted to report that San Francisco is treating me well, and more importantly, that my amazing and super great sister is taking fabulous care of me. I've already scheduled my return flight home because I think leaving on a high note would be grand for both of us. Right after the Stevie Wonder party, I'm outta here. But oh, I'm already planting the seeds of my return...

    01 December 2008

    Hi Eliza

    I've been thinking about starting a podcast (topic: unknown) but I haven't decided if it's a good idea to have another frivolous online habit. My ideal podcast would just be me sticking a microphone in my friends' faces and asking them ten questions. It would be short in length but long in effort. So while I have that idea swimming in my head, I found out about Odiogo, which takes words and translates them into computerized speech. That allows them to be podcasted and listened to!

    The idea is really cool and after listening to a few posts, the computer voice isn't terrible, but it's also debatable whether anyone actually needs a podcast of my blog. Then again, why not have the option to make your posts into MP3s when Odiogo makes it so easy to do? Here's my Odiogo page and you can scroll down to listen to sample audio posts. Neat hunh?

    27 November 2008


    Since the book is so close to completion, I've been given the go ahead to write out my dedications and acknowledgements. The dedication was easy, I knew/know who I want to dedicate every one of my books to because she's the one that's always championed my writing career (Hi Lilly!). Heck, without her there would be no writing career. So dedicating this book to Lilly was a no-brainer. Plus, in an egregious oversight, I wasn't given the chance to dedicate or acknowledge anyone for the first book. This is my opportunity to make it all right.

    The acknowledgements section was a bit harder. I knew who I needed to deeply thank, all the people who had shepherded the project from beginning to end. That numbered four -- Lilly and Stefanie at Full Circle and Karen and Grace at Penguin. They were invaluable in helping shape the project and in many instances, contributing incredible ideas and solving knotty plot issues.

    Beyond that, there were a few fashion consultants I would often IM or shoot a quick email to when looking for sounding boards or expertise. In one case, I asked my friend to describe the processes involved in her full makeup routine. I took meticulous notes. Then she IMed me back awhile later to say that one of the steps was wrong. Something about brushing versus smearing. Thank goodness for that, otherwise my cover as a knower of makeup application would have been blown. Generally, one of the best parts of writing the book was sending out random IMs to people that might have said, "Quick, how do you feel about gladiator sandals? Will they still be hot in two years?"

    I asked my editor what the difference between a dedication and acknowledgement was. Her answer: "The dedication is basically who you dedicate the book to, whereas the acknowledgments page is where you thank everyone who helped you along the way -- or anyone else you want to thank." While that sounds plain and simple, it's not as easy to do as you'd think. I even Googled around to find out how other authors handled their dedications versus acknowledgements.

    Since I didn't have the space to thank everyone in the acknowledgements, I thought I would compile a short list today on the most thankful of days. First, I have to thank the fashion team, which was headed by Des, Meggo, Helen and Dominique. Many names will have to be left off here because I can't remember everyone I contacted. Just know that your contributions were not wasted because now I think I know what's trendy and cool.

    George, Lynn, and Janelle were consistently enthusiastic about the project and were the first people to see and read through the manuscript. I sent them the first draft and they seemed to enjoy it. It's hard to underestimate the relief that comes when anyone reads your work and can say nice things about it, even if they are related to you or former roommates. The three of them, along with James, were also my cover design consultants. Ultimately, the cover was the work of the publisher but it was nice to have their opinions and insight anyway.

    Thanks to all the people who inspired names, personalities, quirks, and little tidbits of fun. Part of the fun of this project was being able to inject little Easter eggs for people. I'm not sure how many remained but hopefully there's a fair amount in there. I'm creating fiction, I can write anything I want! That's so weird!

    And then there was Cleo, Amanda, Jennifer, Dhonielle, and Christina, who all read the book in various almost done states and gave me the general thumbs up -- plus a heap of useful feedback. Amanda had even made it through in one sitting, the day after I sent the manuscript over to her. Which says something (good) right?

    Last of all, I have to thank my mom. Because everyone thanks their mom! Especially when you're living with her while you finished the manuscript. And I think I'll like to append a special thanks to George because without her there would have been no us (magazine).

    26 November 2008

    All the ladies who truly feel me

    "But it is disappointing to watch what some have called the 'year of the woman' come to such an embarrassing conclusion. This was an election cycle in which candidates pandered to female voters, newsweeklies tried to figure out 'what women want,' and Hillary Clinton garnered 18 million votes toward winning the Democratic nomination. The assumption was that these '18 million cracks in the highest glass ceiling,' as Clinton put it, would advance the prospects of female achievement and gender equality. It hasn't exactly worked out that way.

    In the grand Passion play that was this election, both Clinton and Palin came to represent -- and, at times, reinforce -- two of the most pernicious stereotypes that are applied to women: the bitch and the ditz."
    -New York Magazine-

    23 November 2008

    Twilight (2008)

    A seventy million dollar opening and the new blockbuster franchise is here. Twilight is already too big to be a guilty pleasure so it's really just a pleasure. I'm totally biased about this movie but I'll just put it up front, "I loved it!" The movie wasn't the greatest thing in the world, as any review will tell you, but it had enough of everything to make it a thrilling experience.

    For this entire Twilight experience, I've been riding along sort of passively, covertly having discussions about it with other secret fans. Halfway through the movie, as I clasped and reclasped my hands in glee, I decided to embrace my Twilight fandom without irony, judgement, or sarcasm. See, it's not about whether the books are actually great, or if the whole thing is a carefully calculated marketing campaign, the truth of the matter is that Edward and Bella will be a romantic touchstone for a generation of tween girls and it's useless to hide from it -- even if Bella is sort of annoying and wishy-washy.
    "You have the story of a young woman falling so deeply in love that she doesn't care if she dies or becomes a vampire. There is something so dangerous and alluring about it, and it all goes off in this very lush mountain backdrop. It's an obsessive love that's not that far from 'Romeo and Juliet,' or 'Titanic' for that matter."
    -Director Catherine Hardwicke-

    No woman will walk out of the theater not wishing she had her own Edward, forever vigilant, incredibly great looking, and a dangerous bad ass with a sparkly heart of gold. As my friend said after watching the movie, "It reminds me of what it felt like to be in love for the first time." If you allow yourself to be pulled into the vampire magic, you will be smitten, I guarantee it.

    Just ignore some of the cheesy lines, the horrific special effects, the unintentional comedy, and the entire hilarity that was the baseball game. Oh wait, I'm doing it again. I can't quantify my Twilight statements with disclaimers or dismissals, I just have to puppy love it and overlook all of its faults.

    I kind of want to watch it again...

    Also, I'm a big fan of Kristen Stewart. Her talents are old news for anyone who's seen her movies (Panic Room, Speak, In the Land of Women, Into the Wild) but she's challenging Ellen Page for the title of my favorite young actress. I also didn't recognize Nikki Reed as Rosalie, which makes Twilight a total Thirteen reunion for her and Hardwicke.

    18 November 2008

    Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?

    Malcolm Gladwell's got a new book coming out. It's called "Outliers: The Story of Success." Even if you're not familiar with Gladwell, it's doubtless you've seen The Tipping Point or Blink. His books have their detractors and their faults but they are certainly entertaining and thought provoking. In fact, I believe Gladwell's work is overlooked a bit because his books are so easily accessible and populist. I'm not sure if he started the trend of this type of book but stuff like Freakonomics seems to me a direct result of Gladwell's strong sales and influence.

    A few years ago I discovered Gladwell's website, where he's got all his articles from the New Yorker archived. It's a treasure trove. His pieces date all the way back to 1996 and each of them are worth a read. I find Gladwell's observations more gripping and easier to digest in shorter format, where it seems like he's not stretching as far to make a point. Plus, he really digs into some fascinating topics, many of them focusing on the (perceived) role of intelligence. Some of his other articles I've really enjoyed have been focused on food. Constructing the perfect cookie, investigating why ketchup doesn't come in as many varieties as mustard, or how caffeine created the modern world. This is stuff that's awesome to know.

    Basically I think the appeal of reading Gladwell (aside from it just being interesting) is that it lets you feel smart, if just for a bit. You feel like you've really learned something and can now look at a part of the world in an illuminated light. His articles are like the type of fun conversation and observations you wish you could have with a bunch of friends over drinks or at the dinner table but rarely do because really, who in the world knows all this stuff? I saw Gladwell on a CNN round table once and was immediately struck by how much he reminded me of Cillian Murphy. Here's a video of him at TED talking about finding the perfect spaghetti sauce. I think I'd definitely invite him round to dinner if I had the chance.

    Here's an excerpt from his new book addressing why Asian children are better at math. I mean, aside from the fact that we just study harder and our parents would kill us if we sucked.

    12 November 2008

    No Bull

    "I'd never taken an accounting course, never run a business, never even had savings of my own to manage. I stumbled into a job at Salomon Brothers in 1985 and stumbled out much richer three years later, and even though I wrote a book about the experience, the whole thing still strikes me as preposterous -- which is one of the reasons the money was so easy to walk away from.

    I figured the situation was unsustainable. Sooner rather than later, someone was going to identify me, along with a lot of people more or less like me, as a fraud. Sooner rather than later, there would come a Great Reckoning when Wall Street would wake up and hundreds if not thousands of young people like me, who had no business making huge bets with other people's money, would be expelled from finance."
    -Michael Lewis, The End-

    08 November 2008

    Step into a World (Rapture's Delight)

    In my mind, when I first heard hip hop, I loved it. That's how I tell the story anyway. Like I heard Tribe, instantly gravitated towards it, and become a fan of the entire genre. Then again, upon really thinking about it, that's not the story at all. If I really want to date when I got into hip hop, it was probably college. I mean, my musical life started at Meatloaf, wound around 10,000 Maniacs and Yanni, and firmly planted itself with Alanis and Jewel. No rap anywhere to be seen.

    But rap was around me even if I wasn't paying attention. I can recall in middle school, the only two girls of color (one was black, the other Middle Eastern/mixed?) would go around reciting "You never know she could be earnin' her man / And learnin' her man, and at the same time burnin' her man" all day long. I had no idea what they were quoting until years later, when I finally pieced together how early they had caught onto Dr. Dre and Snoop. Or how late I had.

    And then at this Chinese family retreat in '94, a younger kid from L.A. would bring his boombox into the ping pong room and put Warren G's "Regulate...G Funk Era" on repeat. Even then it didn't strike me that this was something I had to have in my life. It was just background music.

    The thing I did know was that I loved Rakim. I loved the way he looked, the way he talked, and the way hearing the bass on "Don't Sweat the Technique" made me feel. I guess it made me want to dance, even if I didn't know how. It helped that the song was paired to a basketball video (NBA Jam Session, 1993) I watched religiously. Due to this video, I sought out Rakim and Eric B. albums but didn't get any further into rap -- aside for a bit of Heavy D.

    In a way, everything else I encountered didn't have quite the same appeal. Near the tail end of high school I met friends who did have some rap experience but they were into Tupac or Wu-Tang, artists who were not my preferred rap taste, even though I hadn't really consciously developed my palate yet. According to Pandora, I was looking for "tremendous bass, swingin' beats and boastin' lyrics," which I didn't find again until I heard Tribe and Gangstarr in college.

    After that, it was love at third (or fourth or fifth) sight/hear. And then a subsequent rap explosion. And it was probably all due to a girl -- a definitive crush at first sight. Once, while hanging out in the getting to know each other stage, she asked what type of music I liked. I said, "hip hop." Totally duplicitous in retrospect but I rolled with it, especially after both she and her friend commended me for my fine answer. I made a hasty exit before we could get in-depth about exactly who I liked. "Um, Rakim?"

    Over the next few days, I completely raided the school library, checking out everything in the rap section and proceeded to crash course my way through Hip Hop 101. By then I realized that the posters on her dorm room door meant something. This was her (rap) cheat sheet. I took extra care in listening to The Roots and KRS-One. If I liked what she liked, maybe she would like me! There was also a Master P poster on her door but I couldn't get through any of his CDs. Even puppy love has its limits. Ugh. Na-nah, na-nah.

    I'm cringing telling this story, because it represents a moment in time when I explicitly went out of my way to study a girl's tastes and then emulate them, in an attempt to get them to like me. I suppose lots of people do this but it's still wholly embarassing nonetheless. I hope I haven't been this blatant since. Actually, there's a whole host of embarassing stories surrounding this girl, and there was no happy ending to compensate. Not even close. Well, except for the hip hop I guess.

    05 November 2008

    Stuff I've Been Reading 11

  • Chuck Klosterman IV - Chuck Klosterman
  • Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs - Chuck Klosterman
  • No one belongs here more than you - Miranda July
  • Love is a Mix Tape - Rob Sheffield
  • Geek Magnet - Kieran Scott
  • Model Spy (The Specialists) - Shannon Greenland
  • Westminster Abby (S.A.S.S.) - Micol Ostow
  • Cindy Ella - - Robin Palmer
  • Plus many other YA books flipped through
  • I can't really report that I finished my stated goal of reading a dozen YA books. Goal, unaccomplished. However, starting and finishing are two altogether different things and in that respect, I probably did shoot through about ten YA books on hand and kind of got my fill and got all inspired -- which was the point. Now that I feel like I'm a semi-accredited YA author, I take interest in the debate about "What is a young adult novel?" Some people feel like a young adult novel would basically be dumbed down versions of adult books. Like cartoons versus live action shows. Obviously this is a broad, and very faulty, stereotype. Cartoons are real too, just like YA novels.

    But there is a difference between the two, so what is it? Well, it's hard to say. It's not the language, that's for sure. Teens probably have a better vocabularies than most adults so you don't have to shy away from using big words or anything. So that's certainly not the difference. I do like this quote, which attributes some of the difference between young adult and adult books to a matter of perspective.
    "The protagonist in YA fiction is almost always a young person, from a teenager to late teens to early twenties. Yes, adult fiction has characters of this age, but generally adult fiction looks in on the young person's life, whereas YA fiction lives out the young person's life. This is perhaps the biggest difference between the Young Adult titles and adult titles. YA titles will tend to be told from the point of view of the young person."
    -Ian Bone, Playing with the Big Kids-
    To be honest, I was confused and not entirely sure of the definition myself until I really started doing YA research. In the beginning, I wondered if YA books were the equivalent of PG-13 movies. No nudity, less swearing, drinking and drugs only as a morality lesson, and not too much on-screen violence. I wondered if you could touch upon themes that were dark or serious. Well, now I know. You can do anything you want. A good book is a good book and the young adult classification isn't there to put some sort of gauzy happy filter over everything.

    The best example of a book that's always in the YA section nowadays is "The Outsiders," which everyone read in school. I don't think I would have associated it with YA until I kept seeing it shelved there and realized that the fact it's about teenagers, told from a teenager's perspective, and S.E. Hinton was fourteen when she wrote it makes it the prototypical YA book. But The Outsiders has violence, death, cursing, murder, alcohol, drugs, and all sorts of bad things in it. And it's a timeless classic.
    "The language can be chaste or peppered with all sorts of choice profanities. Such a story could deal with vaguely sexualized 'crushes' without there being graphic portrayals of sex; another such story could deal with the confusion that revolves around the unfolding of one's sexuality. There is nothing inherently 'fluffy' or 'light' in such stories, even if the emotions expressed might seem puerile to those of us who are older and more cynical about matters of the heart and loins.

    I have found that the best-written YA lit (defined here as being stories that focus on common adolescent themes and worries, often with a teen protagonist) is very frank and honest with its audience, even if the said audience is as disparate and divided as the stereotypical school lunchroom seating arrangement."
    -OF Blog of the Fallen-
    I've never experienced this -- and I can't wait to! -- but YA authors are often looked down upon in the literary world. There's a NY Times editorial from an author who comes to terms (sort of) with her book being bought by a YA imprint. Like it's not "real" that she's a YA author. It all sounds like the snobby stereotyping that comic books, cartoons, board games, and other childish pursuits have to fight against; that they're not as serious or important as other types of art. This is definitely a fight I would gladly suit up for.

    And don't look now but YA novels are huge money makers. The YA market attracts all sorts of "real" authors and more than ever, shows and movies are based on fare aimed at young adults. Hello Twilight, I can't wait to watch you soon!
    "'I see now that dismissing YA books because you're not a young adult is a little bit like refusing to watch thrillers on the grounds that you're not a policeman or a dangerous criminal, and as a consequence, I've discovered a previously ignored room at the back of the bookstore that's filled with masterpieces I've never heard of.'"
    -Nick Hornby-

    03 November 2008

    (Next) Summer Lovin'

    It's like really official, the book is nearly complete. I have advance copies of it sitting right here and it looks amazing. I wasn't expecting a full blown cover or anything, just the words set up and printed out, but the advance version looks just like the real thing. Technically this version (advance uncorrected proof, "not for sale") is sent out to be read for minor corrections, last minute changes, and that type of thing, but it feels absolutely perfect. I know this isn't the final but it sure looks like it's ready to be passed around and ogled over.

    I don't even know if I've really talked about the project publicly but now that I've gone through final drafts and it's 95% of the way there, it's time to start talking about it all the time. First off, it's called "Exclusively Chloe" and it's about a girl who grows up as the adopted daughter of Hollywood royalty. It's a YA novel and geared toward teen girls but everyone will want to check it out because it's me writing as a girl!

    My inner teen girl has been silent for far too long and she's been itching to fall in love, to complain, to shop, and to well, shop some more. I won't even lie and say that research for this book wasn't fun. The few people who have read bits of this thing have all been like "Wow, I'm shocked this is you." Or one person said, "This is totally you." Anyway, it's about 245 pages, is being put out by Penguin/Puffin/Speak, and will be officially released May 14, 2009. I believe it'll be a bit under ten bucks so it's super affordable and totally worth every penny. Start saving up now kiddies, everyone on your list will need one.

    There's already a few blurbs out there on the Internet and the Amazon page is ready to take orders so I'm ready to reveal the full cover and start the talk. Here's the back cover copy to whet your appetite.
    "Chloe-Grace can't help it: she's spectacular. How could she not be, with celebrity parents who have been the queen and king of Hollywood for years? But Chloe is a celebrity unto herself as well -- she's the first ever celebrity-adopted kid in Hollywood. Some kids grow up with silver spoons in their mouths; Chloe had an entire set of platinumware shoved in her face, along with two hundred paparazzi.

    But now Chloe's sixteen, and she is tired of every undesired moment of the world's attention. Normal kids get to keep secret diaries. Chloe can barely keep her sanity -- until she thinks about what it would be like to be a 'normal' kid in a regular school. To really understand it, she would need to go undercover. So she gets a 'make-under' at the hands of her mother's fabulous stylist, and enters the normal world. But she soon finds out that there is just as much drama there as there is in Hollywood...."

    29 October 2008

    Rachel Getting Married (2008)

    So the director of Silence of the Lambs comes out with a movie about a messed up, troubled, and still in rehab Anne Hathaway returning home for her sister's weekend wedding. Hathaway's Kym snipes at everyone, is desperate for attention, and basically kind of ruins everything. But it's not like she hasn't done this before. The two sisters show how you don't necessarily need to be a sociopath to rip people apart -- just family will do. They eviscerate each other with words and memories and then sorta make up and then do it all over again.

    I saw the movie in a theater of older folk and I'm wondering what kind of reaction they had, or if they were expecting an entirely different movie altogether. While I can't say every minute of the film was amazing, in sum, I really enjoyed it. Jonathan Demme's use of hand-held cameras brings you closer to the characters and was an excellent stylistic choice. Hathaway is being touted for an Oscar and I think she deserves a nomination.

    Overall, a film like this brings forth emotion from an audience. Some of it is yanked out of you but many of the moments are genuine. Heck, half the time you want to slap Kym and tell her to grow up, just as if you were her family. While I wouldn't necessarily recommend this to everyone, I think the film did a nice job illuminating dysfunction in people and families and I left the theater pleasantly surprised and with a lot to think about. Can't ask for too much more I guess.

    There is one slightly jarring thing about the film. It's almost aggressively multi-ethnic. I'm not sure if I'm just being overly sensitive here but it looks like they really went out of their way to present the couple -- and the family -- as the most Benetton friendly thing on Earth. The sister is white, the guy she's marrying is black (although the movie poster doesn't represent that at all, on purpose?), and they're having an Indian wedding (but strangely, no Indians in attendance). The guests are a cross-section of a whole bunch of not too stereotypical stereotypes. As if to say "We're super eclectic, we have friends from all over!" When they trotted out the middle aged white mom DJ working the decks, I kind of couldn't stand it anymore. The film takes BEP's line to heart a little too much maybe. "Got black to Asian, and Caucasian saying, that's that's the joint, that's the jam."

    That sounds like it would be a good thing, and it's kind of cool how the movie doesn't address it at all, but then again, it felt a little bit forced.

    Another reason I was excited to see the movie was because I'm a big fan of slam poet extraordinaire Beau Sia and he had a decent sized role. I'm not sure who cast him but I love that he's getting out there. I hope his acting career takes off because that guy totally deserves it.
    "If there is anyone in the entertainment industry watching me perform, I want you to keep in mind, that regardless of how you feel about the content or performance of my work, that if you're casting any films, and you need a Korean grocery store owner, a computer expert, or the random thug of a Yakuza gang... then I'm your man!"
    -Beau Sia, Def Poetry Slam-

    28 October 2008


    More iPhone fun. Seriously, I can't understand why people don't just get an iPhone. It's not even that expensive anymore. It's the greatest device ever and totally life changing. People who hate on it just because it's Apple or for some other absurd reason should try one for a week and see if they change their tune.

    Here's something totally amazing. You can write in Chinese (and other languages)! Our dear fake-FOB friend showed us what an amazing tool this could be. It's even funnier when you totally suck at Chinese like we do. Twelve straight years of Saturday morning classes and I can't get far beyond "Hello" and "Dog/Cat." What's super cool is that you can either spell it out pinyin style or just write it out. I can't wait to dig out my old Chinese school books and learn some useful phrases like "Your mom takes out the trash!" or "How much for that bun?"

    Tragically, I think, you can only communicate in Mandarin with other people who have iPhones.

    And if you wanna make your iPhone the hit of the town, color coordinate your apps. Ameer [High Entropy] introduced us all to this one and now we all do it. The first thing other people ask when they see it is, "Whoa, is that a setting?" Hell no, you gotta do it all yourself! Just arrange your apps by color and it will look oh so beautiful. Otherwise it's just one big jumbled mess. Sure it takes a bit of time but once you have it set up, everything will be easily kept in order. Did I mention it's amazing looking?

    Ameer chose to go ROYGBIV with his but that didn't quite work out for me. I preferred to start with a blue page, and then a red/green, yellow, purple/silver, and finish up with a white and black page. Here's an idea of what that looks like. Tell me that's not amazing. I spent some time looking for the right colored apps regardless of their actual function. Just because I'm stupid like that. I mean, why wouldn't I need to know how much fuel my jet has? Or have a map of the Japanese subway system?

    I download apps just for cool logos and if they fit the hues I need. It's an ongoing search but with dedication, anyone can do it. Hint: You can move your already docked items to one page and then use the now empty dock to transport other apps back and forth in fours, instead of dragging them across so many pages one by one. Thank me later.

    I just love looking at people's iPhone setups. I'd like to believe it gives you insight into them as a person. What is more important to them? The text icon? The phone? Do they know how to take a screenshot? Are they a likely moblog candidate? What sorts of games do they have? Are they on Loopt? Should we be friends?

    It's totally that deep.

    In other iPhone news, I just bought a Bluetooth head thingy (Jawbone 2), mainly because I recently got a damn ticket for driving and talking with no headset. No warning, nothing. The ticket cost as much as the Bluetooth. And I was just checking voicemail. Or, um, something.

    And because I double bag my phone (plastic case and also a pouch), I just got this Golla Camo thing. I'm very particular about my gadgets, or more importantly, how they're protected so I'm hoping this works out. I lost my previous pouch and my iPhone has been in danger ever since. When in doubt, double bag everything.

    27 October 2008

    Mux It Up

    Doing a mix tape just isn't the same anymore. The barrier to entry has gone down too much, the ease of transferring songs between two people has ruined it forever. That's how I feel about the current state of mix tapes anyway. Then again, maybe that's just me and creating a mix tape is still magical if you do it with passion. I can't recall the last mix tape I made or received, although it's something I used to do all the time. Mix-CDs actually. When tapes were still in vogue, I was way too uncool to present (new) music to anybody. "So, here's a tape looped with 'Kokomo' and 'Don't Worry, Be Happy.' Hope you love it, because I love you..."

    I'm still in possession of a mix tape that I've been hoping to pass to someone for over five years now. I haven't seen her in all that time but it's supposed to sum up a summer's worth of memories. "Cool Like That: Two People's Instinctive Travels in the Paths of Labor" Maybe I'll just be holding onto this thing forever. That's kinda sad no?

    Another reason why making mix tapes just isn't the same is because creating the covers aren't as much fun anymore. Why spend time designing the CD cover when it'll most likely be ripped to a computer and then set aside? A mix tape loses something in the translation when it doesn't take two hours to burn and three versions of the CD sized paper to have everything lined up perfectly.

    Then again, the sentiment of a mix tape can never be changed. It's something you make to make the other person think of you. It's taking ownership of certain songs so that when they hear it, even years later, they'll always think of you. Mix tapes are super devious if you think about it. I may have to bring it back...

    Anyway, here's a mix tape from 1999 that I made for somebody. It had the best cover ever. A (traced) version of the Bad Boy logo, changed to a female with pigtails. I titled it "Ready to Cry." Little did I know how appropriate that would be.

    Here's the mix tape in individual form, .rar form, and also the track list. Oh, and on favtape too, although it sucks because you can't upload your own tracks like with muxtape, meaning you can't get some songs on your mix if they don't already have a copy. I miss muxtape.

    I miss a lot of things.

    25 October 2008

    W. (2008)

    I recently watched Thirteen Days, a movie about the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. Thirteen Days also features actors playing well known politicians. The difference here, of course, is that there's hardly a laugh to be found in Thirteen Days. This movie is played strictly for laughs. I found myself entertained throughout, and even if the whole thing is a bit over the top as a caricature, it does capture something about how we feel about Dubya.

    I actually left the theater impressed by Bushy Junior's career trajectory. I mean, if this was your friend, a total drifter and fuck up who then pulled his act together enough to (a) own a baseball team (b) become the governor and then (c) win the presidency, you'd be patting him on the back regardless of his politics. It's true, George W. might be a real American hero!

    24 October 2008

    A Heartbreaking Work

    I just wrapped up the last few pages of Rob Sheffield's "Love is a Mix Tape" and I gotta say, it's got me feeling sad and blue. I don't know why I never read the thing -- what a great title -- or ever spent more than twenty seconds flipping pages but the book is amazing. I guess I avoided it because I thought it was all about music and when I looked at the mix tape songs that introduced each chapter, it was all music I'd never heard of or didn't really like.

    What I didn't realize was that the title was absolutely literal. Rob's mix tapes are all about love and more specifically, love for his wife, who died tragically a few years after they got married. Sheffield's writing is very intimate and poignant and his thoughts on falling hopelessly and madly in love, and then losing that love would hit close to home for anyone. Plus the way he talks about music is outstanding (he's a music journalist), even though I didn't know 90% of the songs he was referencing.

    Seriously, this book was sad sad sad but in a breathtaking wonderful way and I'm delighted to have read it. It's like unbearably heavy and light at the same time. Here's an excerpt where he describes his wife, Renee.
    "Girls take up a lot of room. I had a lot of room for this one. She had more energy than anybody I'd ever met. She was in love with the world. She was warm and loud and impulsive. One day, she announced she had found the guitar of her dreams at a local junk shop. I said, 'You don't even play the guitar.'

    She said, 'This is the guitar that's gonna teach me.'

    Unlike me, Renee was not shy; she was a real people-pleaser. She worried way too much about what people thought of her, wore her heart on her sleeve, expected too much from people, and got hurt too easily. She kept other people's secrets like a champ, but told her own too fast. She expected the world not to cheat her and was always surprised when it did. She was finishing her MFA in fiction, and was always working on stories and novels. She had more ideas than she had time to finish. She loved to get up early in the morning. She loved to talk about wild things she wanted to do in the future.

    She'd never gone two weeks without a boyfriend since she was fifteen. (Two weeks? I could do a year standing on my head.) Before she met me, her wish list for the next boyfriend had contained three items: older than her (I failed that one), rural (that one, too), and no facial hair (I would have needed six months' notice to slap an acceptable sideburn together)."
    -Love is a Mix Tape-

    23 October 2008

    Infinite Jest

    "He [David Foster Wallace] talked about a kind of shyness that turned social life impossibly complicated. 'I think being shy basically means self-absorbed to the point that it makes it difficult to be around other people. For instance, if I'm hanging out with you, I can't even tell whether I like you or not because I'm too worried about whether you like me.'"
    -Rolling Stone, link from kottke.org-

    21 October 2008

    Bubble Boy

    You remember that fun game we like to play? Which wedding would you go to if it was scheduled on the same day? Friend A or Friend B's? Well, a real life example of this has happened and not only are the stakes high, the person involved is a possible bridesmaid for both weddings. I don't know what the proper protocol here is but I'd assume it's first dibs. Which is kind of terrible if you think about it because then it's like someone's basically making a decision for you.

    Well here's what's going aside from the fun game of Wedding Roulette. My book is practically done and going through copy edits. I hear that galleys are coming in the next week or so, which represents the first time I'll see it bound and looking like a book. To be honest, throughout the entire process, I've never seen it all at once in physical format. Usually I'm reading it off the computer or printed out in snips and pages. A few weeks ago, when I turned in the final draft, I had a chance to print it all out and sat down at the pool to go through it.

    It was a bit nerve wracking. I tried to clear my head and think about this book as something I was totally unfamiliar with and resisted the urge to go through with a pen correcting things, nit picking, and generally trying to author it. It turned out to be easier said than done. Even though it's a brisk read, I stopped halfway through because I just couldn't take it anymore. I couldn't go through it without having that writing voice ringing in my head. I had to beat a hasty retreat and finish it later.

    So when these galleys come in, I'm going to give it another go and really read it in one sitting. Hopefully there will have been enough distance between writing and reading for me to enjoy it. I had a friend read a similar versioned draft and the day after she read it, she emailed me and was like "I'm done." I was a bit floored by how fast she'd read it and felt relieved that someone had been able to finish it. In one sitting no less.

    Her comments were basically, "Okay, so I know you're not gay (at least, I think I know), but I seriously had a hard time adjusting to the fact that you wrote that, especially at the beginning. It captured something in the FEMALE teenage mind so well that I can't wait to make my best friend read it."

    So that's like my first real review and it blurs the line of my masculinity but in a totally great way. I think there's only been four or five people who've even looked at parts of the book -- aside from anyone involved in it -- and mostly the comments have been positive, which is a relief.

    So yeah, the book is pretty much done and coming early summer 2009. I'm sure I'll be talking about it a lot more because really, it's kind of exciting.

    16 October 2008

    Bring It Back

    I've never seen The Last Unicorn. Is that criminal? Did I miss something? There are certain things that I feel like you need to watch at a certain age otherwise the magic is just not the same. Stuff like Labyrinth or The Secret of NIMH, maybe even The Princess Bride or Goonies. If you didn't catch this stuff when you were a kid, watching it now just isn't the same. On the list of things like this that I missed out on: The Dark Crystal, Legend, and The Neverending Story.

    A totally underrated film in this category is Krull (I just discovered the name of this thing), which is sort of like Beastmaster. I remember watching this movie, feeling horrible about the heroes getting hurt -- and one dying -- and wanting a magical Glaive so badly. I almost don't want to watch this again because it might ruin my memories. But it's availabe for ten dollars and it's pretty much a must buy. I think I'll be purchasing Flight of the Navigator too to put it through its paces twenty years later.

    I found this blog, sadly no longer updated, that collects the theme songs and intros to classic 80's cartoons. A co-worker last year and I happened to hit upon M.A.S.K. and couldn't remember the acronym. In case you were wondering, it's "Mobile Armored Strike Kommand." We both had the helicopter guy. For three seconds we felt warm and fuzzy toward each other and reveled in our shared childhoods.

    And if you really wanna bring it back, Silverhawks is now out on DVD. I can't purchase it though because so many of these cartoon series are actually horrible to watch in retrospect. For example, Thundercats were amazing way back when but now episodes are slow as molasses and painful to sit through.

    To be honest, nothing made me feel the age difference more at work (our office was filled with 18-22 year olds) than talking about old school cartoons. Old school to them was stuff like Doug. Who? Exactly. There's no better way to measure generation gap than to talk about pop culture influences. Parents shouldn't deny their children the opportunity to soak in all that entertainment trash otherwise their kids will be left out in ten years when everyone talks about "Remember when....!?" Nostalgia is a not to be underrated bonding force.

    There's this one cartoon that involved an eagle, a hawk, and a turtle totem pole that would come to live and attack things each episode. I think it was part of some compilation cartoon. Anyone know what I'm talking about?

    If I had a daughter she would be trick or treating this year dressed like Rainbow Brite. Of course, adults like Tinsley Mortimer already have that T-shirt.

    15 October 2008

    You live, you learn

    It's true, I just spent a good five or six hours doing a re-design for this site that incorporated the (sort of) new Blogger widgets and ding dongs. I wanted to take the blog in another direction and was so excited for it all to happen. The trouble was, my coding skills are pretty rudimentary -- if copy and pasting can be called "skills" -- so everything took much longer than expected. When I finally got a working copy ready to show the world, I realized that you can't use the new Blogger features if you're not hosted on blogspot. Hum, might have wanted to check on that before I did the project.

    So yeah, hours of my life down the drain. The good news is that I'm capable of sitting still for long stretches without moving. Or eating, or going to the bathroom, and possibly not even blinking. The bad news is that even when I'm trying to be productive I end up with nothing to show for it. Now the day is done...

    While I'm here, I've been Netflixing like crazy and am hoping to shoot through the following series:
  • Mad Men
  • Dexter
  • Gossip Girl
  • Twin Peaks
  • Band of Brothers
  • Justice League Unlimited
  • 12 October 2008

    Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist (2008)

    I was pretty psyched to watch this movie. Aside from having an awesome title, it seemed like it might be the teen answer to "Before Sunrise." I kept my expectations low however and that was probably wise. There's no denying that the title is still amazing and that Michael Cera and Kat Dennings as Nick and Norah are fabulous, but the movie just could have been so much more.

    It was cute. It had some good lines. It had a happy ending -- that's giving nothing away. But overall there just wasn't a sense that this was a magical night. It was hard to build up a consistent sense of connection and relationship when Nick and Norah kept getting jerked around from one set piece to another. There was a little too much obvious over the top humor (along with random quirky cameos) and not enough screen time spent on just Nick and Norah. I wanted to the movie to be about them, instead, it often tilted away to focus on the antics of the side characters.

    One thing that bothers me (in movies) of late is how the dorky shy guy will magically be approached by the girl of his dreams. Then he keeps on rejecting her or keeping her at a distance for no apparent reason. And then she just keeps throwing herself at him. That just doesn't seem realistic to me. I mean, fine, if it happened to me once I'd take it all back. That's not a challenge Cupid, just a hint. Overall the movie was definitely a good time but it had the potential to be so much more. I'm definitely going to check out the book though.
    "Kat Dennings has an odd, arresting beauty: sleepy blue-green eyes, porcelain-pale oval face -- and lips so red and juicy they look like the prototype for the wax ones little girls used to wear at Halloween. Along with the slight space between her perfect teeth, the effect is sexy and slightly comic."
    -New York Times-

    11 October 2008

    Didn't I Blow Your Mind

    Oh what I would give to have John Hollinger's job. Watch the NBA all day and then apply fun statistical models to everything. As the new season approaches, Hollinger has given a break down for every player and even better, did individual scouting reports on all of them. That's insane! Seriously, like every player has a scouting report.

    It revealed great things like how Tony Parker rarely uses his left hand, even on layups. Or how Dirk Nowitzki might be the best shooting big man of all time -- Larry Bird just rolled his eyes. And how Dwayne Wade is a huge gambler on defense. Armed with this information, my (W)NBA career is surely only a few months away.

    Seriously, I'd want these people's jobs: Bill Simmons, John Hollinger, or Steve Sabol. In that order.

    Make sure to click on the player cards and check out the Hollinger reports. A few examples: Carmelo Anthony, Deron Williams, and Rajon Rondo. The most fascinating part of the reports is the little line at the bottom that compares the player in question to whom they're most like (at their current age). For example, Andrei Kirilenko is comparable to a young Derrick McKey. Michael Redd is Jerry Stackhouse. Joe Johnson is the second coming of Michael Finley. Plus lots of head scratchers like Shawn Marion is most similar to Chris Mullin?!

    In other news, the Celtic's season opener and championship ring ceremony is on October 28th. Clear your social calendars. Also, the special edition DVDs of their season will be available starting then too. The set will feature complete games so everyone can relive their crushing victory over the Lakers. Over and over and over again...