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...

    10 October 2008

    Tell Lara I Love Her

    I sat down tonight to take in a classic, Doctor Zhivago, with my mom. She saw it when it came out, over forty years ago. I saw it maybe twenty years ago, when I was in fifth grade I think. I believe we watched it in class actually. I'm not sure what the teacher was thinking. Sure it's a classic film but was I supposed to get anything out of the film as a ten year old? All I remembered about the movie was the ubiquitous Lara's Theme. Which has kind of haunted me these twenty some odd years.

    Well, let me just say after re-watching this thing that it's great. Romantic, gripping, and not what I expected at all. I thought it was just a love story but it's actually so much more than that. The story is set against the backdrop of the Russian Revolution and that fact utterly escaped me the first time around. I didn't recall anything about a rape either. Or maybe I didn't even know what the hell had just happened. And while Julie Christie's Lara had always been captivating in this iconic way, I can't say that I really liked her character. She was just kind of there and didn't exactly seem like she was worthy of Zhivago's love. His dutiful wife (played by Charlie Chaplin's daughter), totally gets shafted.

    Actually, all the characters were just kind of there. Dr. Zhivago himself didn't really capture the imagination and even though horrible things kept happening to him, he didn't seem to have any real emotions. Throughout the movie I was Wikipedia-ing everything and got more background and perspective on the book, the film, and the history of the Revolution but without all the research, I might have been a tad bit lost. Still, I think I loved the film and would definitely watch it again. Maybe I'd even give this 2002 version a try, which stars Keira Knightley, and um, Bill Paterson. Okay, maybe not.

    Apparently the movie was the Titanic of its day. It won multiple Academy Awards, made tons of money, and was loved and hated in equal measure. I can see both sides because it is kind of slow and overly long. Still, I was really drawn into the story and it gave me the same wretched/wonderful feeling after watching any (good) film about unrequited love. A powerful feeling of romance swept over me even if I'd be hard pressed to explain why when looking at the details.

    My mom's friend lent her this boxed set of old Oscar classics so I'll probably be working through stuff like Lawrence of Arabia and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers in the near future. It's family bonding time!
    "There are two kinds of men and only two. And that young man is one kind. He is high-minded. He is pure. He's the kind of man the world pretends to look up to, and in fact despises. He is the kind of man who breeds unhappiness, particularly in women. Do you understand?

    I think you do. There's another kind. Not high-minded, not pure, but alive. Now, that your tastes at this time should incline towards the juvenile is understandable; but for you to marry that boy would be a disaster. Because there's two kinds of women. There are two kinds of women and you, as we well know, are not the first kind. You, my dear, are a slut."
    -Komarovsky, Doctor Zhivago-

    08 October 2008

    Louis Vuitton Don

    "[Takashi] Murakami's retrospective is a clear indication of what results from this close marriage between art and consumerism: a castrated art -- one completely devoid of critical content. Murakami's work is part of a growing movement of Japanese pop art, with Murakami frequently referred to as Japan's Andy Warhol.

    Superficially, the two artists seem to have a lot in common: Both use imagery appropriated from popular culture, both employ repetition of imagery as a common pictorial motif. Perhaps most important, neither artist actually executes their own artworks, instead employing a 'factory' of assistants to manufacture their paintings and prints, with the artist only touching the finished work to sign it.

    Yet, to play up this comparison is to undervalue an important distinction between the two: Warhol, at least in his early work, criticized mass imagery even as he appropriated it. Murakami's work lacks even a whiff of subversiveness; it remains, at its core, a celebration of banality."
    -(Super)flat Pop-

    06 October 2008

    Stuff I've Been Reading 10

  • Girls For Breakfast - David Yoo
  • Watchmen - Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons
  • Personal Days - Ed Park
  • Sweep - Cate Tiernan
  • How to Write A Damn Good Novel - James N. Frey
  • Simon Bloom, The Gravity Keeper - Michael Reisman
  • My personal goal while being back in San Diego and settling down again is to read a dozen YA novels in the next month. What I've discovered while working on this goal is that I can't read YA stuff along with other things. Usually I have a few books I flip around in but when I'm trying to get into the head space or tone of a YA novel, I can't read really read anything else or I lose my train of thought, as it were. Or maybe I just like these YA novels so much that I'm getting sucked in and don't want to stop.

    Other things I'm hoping to fit into this schedule are books about reading and writing. One of them is titled "How to Read a Book." It's advertised as "the classic guide to intelligent reading" and comes highly recommended. I kind of love it, even if it's slow going. Seeing as I've never really taken a literature or writing class, I feel like I need to self educate myself, and fast. I was talking with a friend the other day and she said that I could probably remedially just learn some proper grammar by working through the right books. That would involve discipline and self motivation of course, but it's something I should challenge myself to do because it's my livelihood!

    I mean, when I was playing with Lulu Titlescorer, a fun little app that tells you the chances your book will be a bestseller based on the title, I got lost on the little drop-down boxes about the words in my title. I mean, do I really fully understand what a "proper noun used as adjective/modifier" or "preposition/article" are? Um, maybe not.

    I took my best swing at it and my chances of producing a bestseller with my next book is 69%. Not bad right? Roll the dice and cue the champagne!

    02 October 2008

    Choke (2008)

    This definitely isn't as palatable as Fight Club, Chuck Palahniuk's other adapted work. I'm gonna say that you either love or hate this movie. I, of course, just mostly liked it. Any emotion too strong either way is way beyond my means apparently.

    Everything in the movie is sort of absurd, the smaltzy gets a bit heavy, and the tone swings wildly between depressing and hilarious, but I found myself entertained every step of the way. Which is much better than anything something like Burn After Reading had to offer.

    Sam Rockwell is creepy and attractive at the same time, which is pretty hard to pull off if you think about it. His big sidekick Brad William Henke is sort of Seth Rogen's cinematic older brother, back when Seth Rogen was actually funny -- like for a second. As for Kelly Macdonald, some people might cringe over her acting skills but I really dig her weird monotone-ish, perpetually hurt, delivery and find her very capable. But like my friend said after watching the movie, "She's like Kate Winslet. But not."

    I think I'm going to go read the book now. Then again, maybe I should pass on that. It might be too much for my virgin eyes/ears. Fox Searchlight had novel promotional swag for the movie, which caused a brief Internet blip a few months back. Additionally, I love The Christian Science Monitor's terse review of the film, which speaks volumes -- a plot point concerning Jesus' foreskin might have turned them off -- plus the reviewer dismisses Fight Club. Blasphemy.