29 April 2011

The 13th Letter

Listening to: Star Slinger, "Apollo Throwdown (RMX)." Hailing from the United Kingdom, this twenty something DJ and producer is kind of all over the place lately on my music blogs and stuff. Here's a bonus track, "Mornin'."

Current pushing: Melissa Beck's Tumblr. Hey MTV watchers, you know who you are. For almost a decade now, one of my favorite blogs has been Melissa Howard's (Real World: New Orleans). I love it when celebrities blog publicly, and at length. I love it even more when the celebrity in question is a word nerd, kind of neurotic, Hello Kitty obsessed, and super hilarious. Okay, for those criteria, Melissa is actually the only celeb that fits.

Anyway, Melissa would always write these huge long posts about her not so Hollywood life, her commentary on trashy television shows, going to Puck's insane wedding, and her crazy and loveable parents. She talks candidly about her various jobs, her Oxygen show, her actress work, and of course, reveals the motivation for doing RW/RR Challenges. For some reason, Melissa was only ranked ninety two on Maxim's Hot 100 Women of 2004 but taking into account personality, there's hardly a doubt she would have been number one.

Sadly her Princess Melissa site is gone but thanks to the power of the Wayback Machine, all her old posts are right here. Yes, right here! This link is probably the greatest gift I could give you this year, and I won't even need any "thanks" in return.

For awhile I thought she'd stopped posting but recently discovered that Melissa had jumped ship to Tumblr awhile ago but I just never knew. Finding her Tumblr and filling in the missing years was like catching up with an old friend. I mean, our friendship is kind of one sided but still.

So I've been patiently reading through her Tumblr archives -- I hate how Tumblr does archives by the way -- and trying to not read through them too quickly. Our favorite Melissa is now married, lives in Long Island, and has a beautiful baby named Shalom. And here's a recap of her awesomely low key wedding from My Simply Perfect. And a post about her engagement story. And her take on canceling play dates. I could link to her all day. Just read her already.
"But I am a pro at faking it. For years, honey. My husband doesn’t know the half of it. And he has astigmatism so he won’t be able to get through the first paragraph of this blog. But don’t think an hour before he gets home, I don’t get to pouring Pine Sol in the toilet. Swish, swish mother fucker. I’m the queen at taking the quick, non-luxuriating shower and throwing on tight jeans and a button down to give off the air of having sat around in real clothes.

Oh please, girl. As long as the sink is empty and the counters are wiped down and a batch of clothes is in the process of being folded, bitches are none the wiser. Hey! I should make a faking the funk checklist so you too can live the lie."
Admission: I check out The Miz's site once in awhile, but I don't follow WWE so it loses my interest pretty quickly. But maybe you will like it because you still follow professional wrestling. I mean, who am I to judge?

And if you're still secretly into the RW/RR stuff, we may need a new owner for our fantasy Challenge league. Don't be shy kids. It's only a guilty pleasure if you feel guilt. MTV 4 Eva.

26 April 2011

Source Code (2011)

The hardest part of making a movie that always Groundhog Day its way backwards is keeping each leap fresh for the viewer. Source Code did an admirable job of this. Sadly, in everything else it pretty much failed. The logic of the time travel and parallel dimensions breaks down under scrutinization. Plus naming this technique "source code" is just confusing if you know anything about computers. It's 2011, we're pretty computer savvy; maybe they should have named it something else. The idea of source coding (in the film) is neat but come up with a semi-original name at least. Imagine if "Inception" had been titled "Implant" or "Idea." Lame.

Luckily Michelle Monaghan and Vera Farmiga are really charismatic actresses and Jake Gyllenhaal gets another notch on his mediocre blockbuster belt. And there was a Russell Peters sighting! I've been wondering what Peters has been up to and in a break out role he plays...a comedian. Whatever, a man's gotta make moves right? Overall this was just entertaining movie hopping fodder that could have been so much better. Sigh.

I do have to note that the idea of sending someone backwards in time to fix things in the present is something I've been wondering about since 12 Monkeys. See, in college, I had this long argument with a friend over how any way you cut it, Bruce Willis' character would have ended up saving the world. Or at least successfully completing his mission. What we saw for the duration of the movie was just a few almost there attempts but the credits rolled before Willis actually got things right. However, because he was able to be repeatedly sent back, there was really no chance of failing. Actually just re-watch 12 Monkeys instead of Source Code. It's a far better movie.

Adjustment Bureau (2011)

Way to be heavy handed guys. Early on in Adjustment Bureau, Matt Damon asks his assigned watcher if he's an angel. "Um, not really, more like a case worker." Eventually the men behind the scenes are revealed to be doing the Designer/Architect/Chairman/God's work. Okay, we get it. It's a parable. Or an allegory. Whatever.

In short it's a Matrix without any of the philosophy or action. The film is about free will, the power of destiny, the even greater power of true love, and the idea that little mistakes in our lives are quickly corrected to set us back on the right path. The only respect I have for the movie is that it's based on a story by Philip K. Dick -- writer of stuff like Blade Runner, Total Recall, Minority Report, and A Scanner Darkly.

Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, and John Slattery are pretty likeable leads but the script doesn't give them much to work with. Oh and Terence Stamp's character is nicknamed "The Hammer" for the unsentimental use of his powers but he basically turns out to be just a passive aggressive bully. The movie could have been so much better but it's kind of silly and ridiculous. And obvious.

22 April 2011

O is for Other, P is for People...

Listening to: Luna, "Everybody's Talking (Harry Nilsson)"

Talking with a friend the other day, she lamented the fact that she seemed to be getting an extra earful of other people's problems recently. She requested that we analyze what she was doing to be the target of such rants, diatribes, and egocentric repetitive problem venting with no discernible positive actions or solutions. I said I didn't even have to analyze anything. I already knew her problem: her friend PR was all wrong. Let's look at what an actual public relations firm does. Actually no, that's pretty obvious, instead let's dive right into what friend PR should do.
Control access: A good firm manages what you are willing to do and sets boundaries about what is acceptable -- and when exceptions can be made. Think of it as crowd control and preventing yourself from being overwhelmed. When you are celebulous (as you most certainly are), people need you for a variety of things. The problem is, you only have a life to live, one world to turn. Friend favors, expected attendance at events, shoulders to cry on, mundane office gossip, random requests, all of these things can be draining. As much as you want to be there for everyone, you can't be. Every starlet has a few people manning the velvet rope. You should too.

Sample phrases:
"I don't do airport runs after midnight. Get your own magic pumpkin."
"I'm running out the door, but we can do this over text. Or Twitter."
"That's a baby shower and a colonoscopy in one? Thanks but I'll pass."

The key here is to not feel like you have to apologize. "Sorry" is nice but not part of the PR vocabulary. You don't have to feel bad about telling someone that you can't do something. We are grown ass people. "No" is enough. Trust me, as adults I'm sure people will appreciate knowing what you're available for and what you're not. "I am good with illogical career advice, irresponsible financial planning, Mac product recommendations, details about mega-drama that I'll inevitably spread later, and weekday runs to Costco. I can also say 'no' to that dress."

Marketing: This brings me to the next component of friend PR. Come up with a comprehensive plan to promote the things you are good at, preferably with a memorable tagline. For example, a classic: "Always there when you call, frequently on time. (But I'll ditch you if my boyfriend is around.)" The message is honest and clear, proper expectations are formed, and friends are made aware of your positive/negative traits. Simple is good. Individual messages can also be tailored to different demographics.

"Carefully reassembling the pieces from your emotional wreckages since 1997."
"When you need to bitch, call a friend. Me."
"Unbiased advice, almost never."
"The best part of waking up is I'll be out the door by seven."
"I used to fiend for your ex-girlfriend/sister/best friend/mother, but never went up in her."

Advertising: Now you gotta get this information out there. Take all that stuff you decided on in the marketing meetings and then tell people about it. Drop things into conversation about how you're "always awake at five am, and it's important that my friends can call at any time." People will appreciate knowing this tidbit about you. Or tell them about "another friend" who always bores you with the annoying recaps of his essentially non-existent dating life. He'll get the hint soon enough. Remember, good advertising can be sometimes be passive(-aggressive), oftentimes it has to be. The most important thing to do is focus on expression and effectiveness. Tell your friends who you can be in their lives, communicate.

Nowadays I personally prefer to be a little more upfront about it, and I'm willing to gently interject mid-whatever, "Am I really the best person for this situation?" That will make them double take and really consider if I am truly the person they should be telling their "my dog went to the vet and I'm so worried about him because he shakes so bad when other people touch him that sometimes he tinkles" story. In this example, a momentary pause will reveal to both of us that I am clearly not the right guy for this particular job. Hey, I care about your dog (a little) but there's probably somebody else who will be more capable of giving you the reaction you're looking for. Maybe reach out to them? "What's their number? No, I'll go ahead and dial that for you. It's ringing... Call me later when you have salacious secrets to share."

I do have a friend who very expertly says, "Hmmmm, yeah, I think I just stopped caring." I kind of love that style too. It's all personal preference really. Just be sure to use all your tools to get the message across. Be creative, use different mediums. Think audio, video, notes, innuendo, flashing banner ads, anonymous Facebook messages from a newly created account. Whatever. You can't have this great marketing plan and then not buy the ad space to inform people.

Note: A good PR firm will also know how to damage control. That's a key component actually. You're gonna inevitably piss off some friends during your short tenure on Earth. A good crisis management team will prepare you to handle that. Sometimes.
So the aforementioned friend has a problem with people always coming to her for a patented blend of patient listening skills and hard edged advice. However this tends to lead her down the path of having too much crap she doesn't care about thrown at her. For example, she is not good with "it'll be okay" and "that sucks, I'm so sorry" talks but she's constantly being put in that position. The incessant whining about dead end relationships is wearing on her too.

Currently, she has been doing all the things a normal person does. Not picking up the phone, long delays on reply texts, going invisible on chat. Yet somehow she is still being hunted down. I told her that she needs to fire her current friend PR firm and hire me. I'll clarify her vision, recontextualize her conversations, adjust her apologetic attitude, wipe that "want to be nice" drool off her chin, and really get her on her shit. Basically I recommended a complete brand overhaul. I also said I'd waive my normal hefty consulting fee. My new suggested tagline for her: "I've always got (about) five minutes for you."

If you need, I'll be your Ogilvy & Mather of friendship too. Pretty please?

Coming soon: A detailed look at the corporate structure of friendships. A few months ago, at a bar, a friend mentioned that she had to talk to her "board of directors." When I asked her what that meant, she replied, "You know, the people who help me make major life decisions." Brilliant! I'd like to take this idea to its fullest extreme and send "Welcome to the board!" invite letters on fancy stationary. If only I had taken calligraphy that one summer camp instead of ham radio or stained glass. A lot of damn good bottle rocketry did me too. "Life skills workshops," they had to have been kidding.

21 April 2011

Hanna (2011)

I heard so many good things about this movie. All my usual trusted review sites, the recent Double X Gabfest, a handful of friends. So why was it so disappointing? (Spoilers ahead) I thought this movie would be amazing since I have a thing for assassin movies. Well, news flash: this isn't really an assassin movie. In fact, there's hardly any action at all. And there are plot holes galore. Why Eric Bana leaves his daughter to fend for herself is beyond me. I mean, he could have easily killed the villain himself if he wanted to. And people kept running into obvious set pieces that would be cool for cinematic combat but totally illogical if you're trying to stay alive.

I did like Saoirse Ronan a lot. Her look is perfect, and I'd like her and Bryce Dallas Howard to star in something sisterly together. There are some intriguing parts to the movie, and it dares to be different, but I'm pretty sure I enjoyed reading more about the movie than actually watching it. Maybe my expectations were too high, or directed toward the wrong sort of film, but I think I need to let it wash over me and then see how I feel about it. I'm giving it a higher score based on how much I wanted to like it, but entertainment value wise it was probably just average. I sure wish there was less running around by Hanna. And less scene chomping by Cate Blanchett. And a better wig on her. A much better wig.

Was director Joe Wright's vision of creating "a reaction against a kind of prevailing sexual objectification of young women" successful? I guess so, but would you have noticed if you didn't read about his intentions beforehand? And here's a related piece from Sylvie Kim and Hyphen: "Lust Action Hero: Movie Heroines and Why I Wish 'Hanna' Had Been Asian American."

20 April 2011

Ascetic Junkies

Currently pushing: The Failure Series. My friend Sam's podcast about not making the mark. "Conversations, anecdotes, and other ramblings about and inspired by episodes of failure, in all its myriad forms." The first episode also features my friend Yasmine, who wants the world to know that she's only a failure on the inside, but not on the outside. Or was it the other way around? I so want to guest speak on this show. "Failure, ha, I'll show you failure!"

A friend said to me that I have the most disposable time of anyone we know yet I'm really not using it wisely. I'm not sucking in much media and just get on the hamster wheel of Internet life every day. My original question for him was if I should continue to watch Friday Night Lights. I know the show is great, we've watched six episodes already, but should I pony up for another five seasons? Once I'm in on something like this, I know I'm gonna wanna watch it all so this is a make or break moment.

The more relevant question is what I'm doing with all this disposable time. With no normal job, not many obligations to speak of, and having already cut out most television, movies, and social events from my life, what in the world am I doing with all those hours?

Basically I'm browsing a ton of random shit. Even with my Reader all organized in efficient folders, I've got almost nine hundred subscriptions, I got Twitter to stay on top of (which I never do), and about once a week I get all fired up to download music. Luckily I generally avoid Facebook. For some time now, I've been getting the feeling that I'm never quite actively involved in anything, with only cursory glances at everything. That has to change.

So what I need is some spring cleaning. I have to remind myself that it's pretty useless to know random crap from all over the place and it's far better to concentrate on just a few things. The first thing to go is gonna be long articles. With Long Form, Longreads, and The Essayist, I've always got lots of material on hand. The problem is, most of that stuff isn't sticking or very useful. I need to switch from iPhone reading to book reading. I'm gonna limit myself to two or three long articles per day, maximum. And if I read them, I need to really stop and think about them or engage in some way. Cut the fluff, concentrate, concentrate.

I mean, really, what do I need to know about the possible mating strategies of dinosaurs for? Or a profile of the men behind Goldman Sachs? And I definitely don't need to know about a researcher who lives in caves to discover the natural rhythms of the human body. These are all fun and dandy but it makes me lose focus. When you train to become a ninja, or a monk, you focus on a few things. Maybe just one or two. You perfect a few skills and then move out from there. The problem is that I'm pretty much interested in everything/anything. Having these long form essays to follow has been the worst as they've introduced me to longer pieces (which I love) that take some time to get through.

Each article has a word count and an estimated reading pace. For example, 3,301 words should take about thirteen minutes. That average works out to about 250 words per minute, or about a book page per minute. I've discovered that I'm a huge skimmer, but even with that, I'm wasting hours reading about crap I really don't need to know. Plus when I'm tweeting or Tumblring, or sending articles to friends, I'm just extending the amount of time I'm wasting on these pieces.

So here's what I'm doing. See ya opinion posts from Slate, Jezebel, Awl, and New York Times. See ya anything art, fashion, or architecture related. Bye bye tech world news and views. Peace out sports and video games (well after the NBA playoffs). Farewell publishing and book blogs. Sayonara to the tons of people I follow online who are not super amusing or my friends. Don't let the door hit your ass on the way out entertainment and gossip sites. Sorry Asian blogosphere, I need to take a time out.

Okay wait. So what am I keeping around? I'm gonna pick like five items in each category to still be up to date on, and focus the rest of my energies on work, writing, or the general young adult scene. If you thought I was boring before, get ready for even more boring. I figure I'm already well ensconced in my boringness so I might as well go all the way. Plus you'll just never get through everything anyway, as this timely NPR article points out: "The Sad, Beautiful Fact That We're All Going To Miss Almost Everything."

The flip side of all this is that intaking a lot of random stuff will lead to good things because you never know what will spark an interest or an opportunity further down the line. This article about lucky versus unlucky people -- via Cheryl Renee Herbsman -- touches on the idea of serendipity and karma and keeping your eyes open and connecting the dots later. I'm totally with that philosophy but I probably need to swing the other way. So here we go, focused like a laser.

18 April 2011

Apollo World

Currently pushing: I already tweeted and re-everythinged the heck out of both of these links but they need to be shared. A great article about teenage girl friendships, "My Rayannes," and a comprehensive breakdown of Rayanne's wardrobe and style by Tavi (Style Rookie). The fashion post is seriously epic and a must read for all MSCL fans. Oh and Emma Straub, the author of the My Rayannes article, has a book of stories out that I'm dying to read, "Other People We Married."

My godsister, Jessica, plays harp for the Boston Symphony Orchestra, which is one of the Big Five and among the best in the country. Previously she played for the New York Opera (among many other places). Jessica's dad was my flute teacher and after he passed away, she became official family. I'm not sure how that works actually, I should ask if there's some sort of Chinese god-sibling certification process.

Jessica moved here from Beijing when she was thirteen and spent most of her high school years in Michigan, at the same arts high school that Jewel went to. I remember when we were young that doing something like bowling would be dangerous for Jessica, as her valuable hands could never be at risk. I guess I never conceived how much practice and playing she had to do, as when she was around us she was just hanging out like a regular person, as opposed to a superhuman musician. This interview with WGBH is the first one I've ever heard with her -- she talks about her background at the 15:55 minute mark -- and it's been awhile since I've actually heard her play. Go listen!

A few years ago I was reading forums and following along as fans discussed the auditions for the new Boston harpist. Jessica ended up winning the position, of course, and it was thrilling to hear all the great things that people were saying about her. "I know her!" Over the years, many of her music friends have stayed with us in San Diego. Violinists, pianists, flutists, oboists, all from overseas and studying at Juilliard or some other conservatory. Oh and Jessica is the cover girl on this month's Harp Column. My mom must be so proud.

Ever wondered about the process of finding a conductor? Check out these two Slate articles: The Elusive Maestro (2011) and The Semi-Conductor (2008).

15 April 2011

All In for the Win

Listening to: The Morning Benders, "Lovefool (Cardigans)" and Ben Taylor, "Nothing Compares to You." I guess I'm in a covers mood. Actually I'm arguably always in a covers mood.

My sister just sent an email asking me to explain why Shaq's strained calf muscle keeps him out for weeks while other player's injuries only last a few days. The answer is: I don't know. I mean, Shaquille Rashaun O'Neal is old. Like thirty nine years old. And he weighs (at least) three hundred and fifty pounds. His body just breaks down a lot. He's also the only hope the Celtics have of winning title eighteen. Yes, it's desperate times for Celtics fans starting this weekend, when they face off against the Knicks in round one of the 2011 NBA playoffs.

Post Kendrick Perkins trade, the Celtics' new additions have been nigh useless and the growing sentiment among fans and experts are that the Celtics are done as serious contenders. They got blown out by the Heat and the Bulls in recent weeks and the entire attitude of the team is in the dumps. They need Rajon Rondo to step up but he's somehow morphed from best point guard in the league to inconsistent and puzzling headache. It's been theorized that the Perkins trade has emotionally affected Rondo as he lost his best friend on the team.

It's easy to forget that for these dozen guys who spend all their time together, losing your hang out buddy can throw everything into flux. You lose that person you talk to, eat on the road with, and for Rondo and Perkins, basically grew up with. Since the trade deadline, the Celtics have added five new players -- Jeff Green, Nenad Krstic, Troy Murphy, Carlos Arroyo, and Sasha Pavlovic -- and that must be difficult on a team used to steady and stellar chemistry. And poor Avery Bradley, the only rookie left on the team. Who does he hang out with? As we learned in Episode 4 of The Association, Bradley is tasked with getting peanut butter and jelly for every pre-game spread. That must be an even lonelier task now.

I'm already a pessimistic fan at heart -- always fearing the worst -- but I still have a slight hope that Boston can pull through this year. Although logically they aren't good enough, maybe they can just magically make it happen. Of course, nothing would hurt me more than to see them fight to the Finals and then lose to the Lakers again. Last year's Game Seven defeat was too painful. I can't do it again this year. So please basketball gods, just tell me if the Celtics will win a championship this year. I'll trade you something really valuable in return if the answer is "yes." My first born child is yours. Okay fine, George's first born child as well. Take all our children!

Last year the Celtics started their epic run to the Finals while I was headed to Europe. Clearly I need to leave the country again for them to succeed this year. Mexico is only a short drive away, maybe I better go down there for the next two months. Anything for my Celtics. I'm already preparing to get all emotional either way. Damn feelings, damn this weak heart.

Let's end on a happy note: Paul Pierce's best dunks of the season. For some reason Pierce has been unleashing some monster dunks this year, which proves that he's still got a little spring in his step. And speaking of hops, this JR Smith dunk is the craziest one from this season-- even greater than any of Quake Griffin's. Pause it and look at where Smith takes off from before he hammers it home two-handed. I'd take some of that in the morning.

09 April 2011

Green Eyed Love

Currently pushing: Looking at work spaces. A guy I know started this site, All Work Know Play, that showcases people's desks -- mostly artists, designers, fashion folk. And then Julia Wertz posted her desk, and Theresa's drool worthy home office. Looking at all these desks, I'm convinced major work must happen there. Also, here's this article about writing anywhere you can and typewriters in the bathroom.

[Update]: And Ameer's rewiring of his desk.

Since I rarely have the same work space ("Have laptop, will travel"), lately I've been trying to get mental with it. How quick can I get myself into a place where writing happens? Or not even writing, but anything semi-productive. I used to require double screens for everything, but after being away from my beloved doubles or so long, I've gotten used to the smaller real estate. When writing or researching though -- or surfing and AIM chatting -- having one screen is just never enough is it? Part of getting myself there is to just ditch the idea that I have to be fully comfortable in order to write.

No more trying to find the perfect chair, the ideal distance from the monitor, the right music queued up, the right snack foods within arm's length. I just need to get busy and do it. Does this sound like a pep talk? I hope it does I'm pep talking myself. Out loud.

Of course, some day I'd like a desk with some fun things around it because I like to decorate. Actually some day I'd just like to own a desk.

Over at the Dear Sugar Rumpus column, a reader writes in to talk about professional jealousy. "Even when I pretend to be happy when my writer friends get good news, the truth is I feel like I swallowed a spoonful of battery acid. For days afterwards I go around feeling queasy and sad, silently thinking why not me?"

Everyone feels this way sometimes. A friend gets promoted and you're happy but a bit blue at being passed over. Someone buys a new house and you wonder why you can't buy a new house too. Their friends are better than your friends, etc. Jealousy can just appear anywhere can't it? Not to get all high and mighty on you, but this kind of jealousy doesn't really afflict me. I think it's probably because I'm overly convinced of my own awesomeness so it's rarely under debate. Some people call it delusional.

I guess I don't fully understand the sort of jealousy that appears when people have something you don't. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to have some of the things that I see around me. A desk for example. A career. Belongings. Certain kinds of friends or community. But those are things that are being sought out, and they'll eventually arrive. What I don't understand is how not having something makes someone feel terrible about themselves.

To what is your self worth attached if it can be negated by other people's positive accomplishments? Shouldn't it be inspiring to see other people achieve? Instead there's oftentimes an attitude of taking them down or trying to dismiss their success. Compare and contrast has replaced show and tell. Failure is great for the soul, but not jealousy! I guess there's a lot of "it could/should have been me" but ultimately it wasn't you, so move on people.

Definitely read Sugar's response to the reader because it's pretty spot on. And this 2003 excerpt of an article by Kathryn Chetkovich, "Envy," talks about her relationship with Jonathan Franzen. Both were struggling writers at one point but then Franzen went on to huge success, obviously.

04 April 2011

Blame It On the Icicles

Listening to: The Dø, "Unissasi Laulelet." I have no idea where they are from, what language they are singing in, or what that the "ø" in their name is called. Normally I'd research the hell out of this band but I think I'll just live in my ignorance. And put this track in repeat.

I've been offline for a week and the Internet is still here? How can this be? I thought without my presence a corner of the web would collapse. This is not so apparently. We were in Tahoe last weekend, with snows coming down hard over Donner Pass, which threw my friend's fine advance planning all out of wack. The first night we were forced to camp out in a town nowhere near a snowboard slope (by "camp" I mean motel). We didn't have to resort to cannibalism but there were some grumbles to be had. As a mental exercise, we did pick which of our party would most likely to be eaten first. Obviously I was a big contender for that title as I'm pretty useless for anything survival related, however my saving grace would be that I'm good for team morale. Plus my skinny ass would hardly be delicious and that's never high on the list of potential good eats.

With heavy snowfall and delays all weekend long, the actual snowboarding portion of the weekend was a disaster. I got in a grand total of four runs, all of which were navigated with very little vision. Snow is white people, and white things do not stand out from each other when other white things are right next to it. My New Yorker friend, out to claim his coast's superiority, was talking all sorts of smack pre-trip. Halfway down our first run he said to me, "I think I'm getting vertigo." I'd call him names but that would be ungentlemanly. Our third annual Tahoe trip ended with a woman down, as my friend threw out her shoulder. Luckily our other friends were on hand to Flip camera it all for the post-trip video. What are friends for if not to capture the moments when you're in pain and waiting for the snow patrol to arrive?

Most disappointingly, we brought our A-game outfit wise but couldn't even display them. The weather was too fierce and our mis-matching ties and ugly shirts from the thrift store weren't able to be fully displayed. Plus, because we only had one day of riding, I didn't even get to debut my secret team swag that I had prepared for. I had stickers to give away! Maybe next year.

I forget sometimes that most of my friends actively avoid having an Internet presence. Their personal relationship with the Internet is essentially negative. They don't want to be found -- especially by co-workers. I'm constantly pressuring people to do things online and their concerns are always security orientated. "Who can find me? What will they see? Can it be anonymous?" I'm of the opinion that the Internet will find you so you might as well establish a site and take control of the situation before someone Googles you and the second hit is something really embarrassing. I don't quite understand where people think the future is headed, as if they could hide forever from search engines. Information about anyone will be out there -- like it already is -- and the question is which bits of it are accurate.

I guess I don't quite understand the stakes as I have the luxury of mixing and matching my online and offline selves. In theory potential employers could read this and not hire me, present/future friends could read this and hate me, but really, who cares if they do? People will judge you however they want, a few extra tidbits probably won't make a difference. Then again, if you're a budding politician or a priest, you may want to censor yourself some.

For the record, there's a part of me that keeps wanting to use "IRL" but I just can't bring myself to do it. I can't get behind this acronym, even if it seems to be quite useful. In real life I'm just like this, but more prone to falling asleep on you.

For the past two weeks I've been slogging through this article: "The Social Network, the End of Intimacy, and the Birth of Hacker Sensibility." From what I can tell, other people are reading this article too, also one or two sections at a time. Maybe we could all have a discussion soon. There's a lot to think about in here but the writing isn't engaging so it's taking me awhile.

Another article I've been referencing a lot recently is this "Models of Identity Development" thing forwarded to me by a friend who is studying racial identity from a psychological side. It'll be good for you to identify which "-ist" you are, as that is what I'm trying to do. On the drive back from Tahoe, part of our conversation was about affirmative action. If you care about such things, here's my friend's ex-professor using the analogy of a race track to frame the issue.

Lastly, I must share this fantastic Believer article about runners, Michael Cera, and being comfortably uncool. I ran cross country in school and tried to go for a leisurely jog six months ago. It was an absolute disaster. I'm never running again, except in fear. Or from love.
"With [Michael] Cera, we at last have an actor who effortlessly honors the American teen male anti-athlete, a boy who populates so many high-school cross-country teams. He is not a genius, he is not pathologically shy, and he is not widely loathed. Rather, he is a little shy, a little marginal, and a good bit quirkier than his classmates. He does not necessarily read constantly, but when he reads -- or listens to music, or skips school to go to a matinee by himself -- it is with an outsider’s wistfulness, with a hopeful eye on the world beyond high school. He is a character who resonates with a kind of kid -- and that kid is everywhere -- who turns to movies for reassurance that he is not alone. That boy wears short shorts, and he runs."
-The Race That Is Not About Winning-