Wednesday, May 31, 2006
12:04 PM : : x marks the spot. this might be lengthy, so if you haven't seen the new xmen movie yet (many spoilers below), or don't care about the xmen, stop right here. first off, i enjoyed the movie immensely. if nothing else, it's still a xmen movie, which ranks it automatically as one of my favorite movies ever. having said that, the movie was a tad disappointing. it started off amazing, it was headed toward "this could be the best x movie ever" territory, and then somewhere around the two-thirds mark, it plummeted to earth and pretty much crash and burned.
things that bothered me:
(1) halle berry - they should have just dropped her after the first x-movie. she's not a good actress, that oscar means nothing, and she's no storm. plus she sort of forced storm into the story due to her real life demands for more screen time. storm is a major character and she did need to be given a bigger role, but halle is not the woman to pull off a believable storm. at any point did people think "oh, that's so storm, i couldn't even see halle berry." nope, because halle berry is no storm.let me expand on that. while brett "rush hour" ratner didn't totally ruin the movie, it's pretty obvious that he lowered the quality of it. it's hard to blame a guy who only got hired to do the movie weeks before shooting started, but really, i have to blame somebody and why not brett? all of the good things he did, i aped from bryan singer. ratner said that he was out to make this particular movie funnier (one-liners) and to drive up the romantic element. the one-liners weren't too terrible and some of them were pretty good, but the romance bit was dramatically overdone. but fine, the xmen movies, viewed objectively, always have had some bad lines and stretched out romantic moments. still ratner really took it to the next (worse) level.
was that his influence or the team of producers and scriptwriters who worked on the film before ratner got there? hard to say. but i know that ratner fucked up the movie somehow. his pacing was a off, his intentions were off, and as my friend greg (a huge x-fan) said "so now i'm kinda mad again at (bryan) singer for ditching. i mean, just one more to finish the trilogy and then they could do whatever they want. so i'm boycotting superman unless it gets really good reviews." that pretty much encapsulates it, brett is no bryan.
aside from all of this, the movie was amazing. i loved the characters dying. i love it when films kill off main characters in general and to see it so unexpectedly was awesome. it was a wonderful shock to see character after character dispatched. sure they will probably all come back, but it's still great to see. the movie can exist in its own x-universe and doesn't have to follow the comic's continuum, so go ahead and kill people. none of these actors want to be back anyway right? the only person i feel bad about is rogue de-powering herself. she's been pretty useless in three movies (despite being one of the most powerful xmen) and i guess we'll most likely never see her powered up.
it was so brilliant of the films to emphasize casting stellar actors in most of key roles, as opposed to people who just looked the part. i recall thinking that ian mcclellan would be way too old for magneto and being unhappily surprised that kelsey grammar would be the beast. but really, having actors with the vocal gravity of ian, patrick stewart, and kelsey grammar lends authenticity and weight to what can be, at times, totally ridiculous lines and monologues. in retrospect, patrick stewart and ian mcclellan really carry these movies (along with hugh jackman of course, but it's much easier with the already popular wolverine).
i'm curious where this franchise will go next. sure, wolverine is probably going to be made. a prequel for magneto is looking like a spin-off (why i can't fathom). they could go with featuring some less famous xmen but most of the iconic xmen have already been used. who are they gonnna have left? banshee? havok? longshot? jubilee? dazzler? cannonball? bishop? that guy from lost (josh holloway) was rumored to be playing gambit in x3, which would have been great since he already looks exactly like gambit. where are they going now? will tons of xmen movies and shows be coming down the pipleline? that would be awesome. i wouldn't mind seeing another generation x show on tv, similar to how superman made the transition to smallville.
oh, and i missed the scene(s) at the end of the credits. i should probably be excommunicated from the x community for this. but i had a defense for walking out early. i think. either way, i'm sure i'll be watching the movie multiple times anyway. just watch it, you know you want to.
Friday, May 26, 2006
5:11 PM : : um, excuse me... we used to be such shy children. not shy, just fearful of talking to people not related or already friendly to us. our parents used to force us to go ask shopkeepers or salesmen questions because we were so aghast at the notion of having to ask anyone anything. my mom especially took affront at our hesitation because she felt that if she could force herself to ask things with her "poor english," the least we could do was suck it up and go ask things for ourselves.
it took awhile before i felt comfortable enough to ask people in positions of authority anything. and i use the term "position of authority" very loosely. librarian? fifth grader? waiter? if you were older or uniformed, i choked up trying to talk to you. and this type of mentality carried over into school life. for me, talking to teachers was forbidden. i pretty much avoided teachers as much as i could because they made me uncomfortable. had a question to ask about the homework? just miss it and move on. screw the grade, maintain the anonymity.
this same sort of hesitation still pops up from time to time, rearing its ugly head at the most inopportune moments. usually it takes the form of automatic deference to anyone chinese and old enough to be an uncle/aunt type. it's like a total inability to conduct normal conversations with chinese people whom i've been accustomed to treating as "significantly older than me" my whole life. i'd always thought that this communication barrier would automatically disappear as soon as i reached an age, and a maturity level, where i could be perceived as grown up.
as a "kid," i saw the older kids (maybe four years older than me) speak with parental friends openly and frankly. i figured that would happen to me when i reached their age. but now that i'm old enough, and presumably mature enough, i still feel like i'm twelve. so i have to give myself these pep talks and tell myself that "hey, i'm an adult now. people will treat me like an adult if i present myself as an adult."
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
1:06 AM : : uncanny, astonishing, new, xtreme, ultimate. superlum sent me a link to "the top 25 xmen." number twenty five was "strong guy aka guido." the guy above him was "chamber." who? yeah, exactly. i was so incensed that i had to settle the matter myself. i had to make my own top xmen list. of course, after reading the article clearly, i realized they were picking "the best xmen" based not on power levels but more personality and embodiment of the xmen ideal. which is hilarious because most of these guys weren't even actual xmen -- for those of you not in the know, there are a number of different x-teams, like minor versus major league baseball. this ign list was made (like most lists) to provoke reaction. well, two short days before the final xmen film, i've been provoked. and here's my own list of the top twenty xmen.
will the real xmen fans please stand up. i'll see you guys thursday night, midnight showing.
ps- if i could somehow capture the joy with which i just undertook this task (and how seriously i took it), i could solve the world happiness crisis forever.
Sunday, May 21, 2006
2:30 AM : : video killed the radio star. finally, all of my hard work has paid off. i've become the stuff of every kids' dreams. i've become immortalized as a video game character. okay fine, it's not actually me but it's based on me. here's me, and here's virtual me. notice the mole? yup, that's mine. they even got the mole by my right eye (here). i bet this is how cindy crawford feels.
a while ago, when i still worked at the video game company, i was asked if i was authentically chinese. yes sir i am. so i was asked to stand for some reference photos. i was to be the skin of the chinese player for our upcoming ping pong game. now understand, ping pong may be tennis-lite to america but in china it is a revered sport. so i was basically being asked to represent my countrymen in one of the most (if not the most) defining sports of my people. the only way this could have been more authentic would have been if i was asked to star in a badmington game.
and since ping pong is such an asian game, you know they're going to make the chinese player awesome to play. note that i told them we needed to make sure that you could play holding the paddle both the american way and the superior chinese way. i'm true to my roots.
anyway, they took some photos, then promptly sent me back to my video testing cave. the actual game got delayed time and time again. i figured it would never see the light of day. then janelle told me that the game was coming out this tuesday. and she sent me these screenshots. they not only used my skin but apparently some of my features for the character (those are unmistakably my eyebrows for sure)! i thought it would just be a little bit of reference for the character's skin tone but look, it's practically me digitized. (ok i'm going a little too far, but i have to enjoy this while i can). i object to the weird cranium size virtual jon seems to possess, but who cares really. they also said they might try to stick in my tattoos (or maybe just one) in the game. maybe it's an unlockable. my mom would be so proud.
now i'm wondering what the character's name is. how cool would it be if it was "yang." someone go buy this game (and a xbox 360) so i can check out if i'm a ping pong king or what. wow this is monumental. i'm so going places in my life. somehow, miraculously, i've pretty much achieved all that i dared dream to get out of life. i played video games for a living, i'm in a video game, i've written a book, what else is there really? maybe tomorrow i'll grow to six feet tall and be able to dunk. the sky is my limit now.
1:48 AM : : oh look, i found myself.
liu ping - beijing, china
Thursday, May 18, 2006
2:09 AM : : how may i help you? clearly, now that i've been an "efa (education finance adviser)" for a week and a half, i'm totally qualified to give you financial advice. so here it is: consolidate your student loans. since i was raised as a spoiled child with no concept of money or the true value of a dollar, i knew nothing about student loans before last week. i didn't even know if i had student loans, much less how they worked.
now i know everything. and i'm here to say that if you have student loans that can be consolidated, you must do it now. those of you who have already consolidated, maybe you can consolidate again to get a lower rate. if you have a low rate already, then sit tight and find a job to pay off those loans asap. interest is accruing people. interest. is. accruing.
consolidation provides you with these benefits:along with the standard consolidation benefits, most companies will offer you discounts if you sign up for automatic debiting and after making a certain number of consecutive on-time payments. for example, my employer can offer up to a 1.25% discount. you can literally save thousands of dollars over the life of your loan.
the federal government implemented the loan consolidation program (higher education act of 1965) to give students a chance to lessen their loan burden. it's great, i highly recommend it. i know spewing this information sounds like a conflict of interest for me. but really, i'm here to spread the christmas cheer about consolidating. (i'm saving the true shilling and hard selling for when my book comes out.) there are honestly no negative side effects to consolidating and i'm just shocked i've never heard of loan consolidation before. help me, help you.
feel free to contact me at priority student loans for additional information, or just call if you want to hear my super professional phone voice. it's professional, and super.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
11:56 PM : : friend-potism. my mom used to (and probably still does) think that my hanging out with friends all the time was a total waste of effort and commitment. as i ran around conducting my approximation of a social life, she would constantly say things like "it's good to have friends, but they won't be able to help you get a place to stay, money, food, or a job." she liked to say this when i was near absolute zero on my life monitor. she chided me for focusing too much on hanging out and not enough on the important things in life -- like you know, providing the basic necessities for an adult life.
well, i don't want to say that she's wrong but of late i've decided that having your own built-in craigslist can almost be better than actually putting in the effort to improve yourself. case in point. all of my adult life jobs (heck, all of my jobs) have pretty much come from friends.
my first real job, at a pharmaceutical company, came courtesy of a family friend. my second job at a video game company, courtesy of a friend of a friend. i literally had to go see this mysterious "james wong" the first day of work and say to him "hi, i'm jon, thanks for letting me use your name to get myself hired. i said we're great friends, let's be." and most recently, i've become an underling of hong's. no muss, no fuss. he just hired me. oh and let's not forget, i was able to write a book mainly through the labors and work of a friend slash agent for life. see how easy it is mom? through friends i've acquired many a job, which has led to money and food.
the only exceptions to this rule have been my cafe job at michigan and my two semi-jobs in new york city. when i first moved there i knew nobody useful in the city so i had to be somewhat proactive in acquiring work. i got a callback and internship with the first company i applied with, the now defunct a.magazine. and then i contacted some random video editor guy online and he hooked me up with a video editing company -- which lasted until they went off to film a jon bon jovi documentary three months later. as if. jeff turboff, if you're out there, many thanks. so outside of those three instances, i've used and abused friend privileges to get where i am today.my mom also takes a hard stance against me moving home so there have been a few times where i've had to look for places to live. every time, i've been fortunate enough to have a friend offer to let me stay with them. thanks friends. if ever i'm in a position to help you out, you just tell me and i'll be sure to pass on the request to a friend of mine so that they can help you out too. pass it forward as they say.
Monday, May 15, 2006
11:39 PM : : call me. stalk you. inspired by a recent bill simmon's column on fantasy leagues, i am going to strike while the idea is hot and start my own celebrity fantasy league. you will draft celebrities and then accrue points for the appearance of your celebrity in that most essential of gossip rags, "us weekly." girls, stop screaming, i know it's a dream come true. it's really a ploy to get you to play a fantasy game that you can really get behind so that you will graduate to real fantasy sports. and guys, you know you read us weekly, keep it real, join the league too.
what you'll need:
(1) access to us weekly each week
(2) dedication to wasting your time reading about celebrities
(3) a thorough knowledge of aforementioned celebrities
(4) not a whole lot more quite frankly
here are the proposed rules (modified from bill simmons' for simplicity):
(1) a trial ten week season (june through about august including the playoffs)
(2) head-to-head weekly matchups
(3) you will receive points based on how often one of your celebrities' pictures appears in that week's issue -- 5 pts for a cover, 3 pts for a cover inset, 2 pts for solo picture in the issue, 1 pt for a group picture in the issue, etc.
(4) you will have 3 female celebrities and 3 male celebrities on your team
(5) we will conduct a draft via email to acquire our celebrities
(6) you will be able to add/drop celebrities each week before setting lineups on friday for the upcoming week.
detailed rules and the exact way this will all work available to interested parties later. for now, who wants to play? yes george, i see you, who else?
Friday, May 12, 2006
2:53 AM : : when we watched the movie dodgeball in the theatres, one of the funny phrases in the film was "salacious sixteen." it was one of those moments that you know is supposed to be funny, and so i obligingly laughed. of course, i had no firm grasp of what the word "salacious" meant. i looked it up at home later and it turned out to be rightfully funny. why i did this, pretend to myself that i knew enough about the word "salacious" to laugh at, is beyond me. but i find myself doing this all the time. laughing and then wondering "wait, what am i laughing about exactly? whatever, keep laughing." i can't decide in these instances if i'm trying to fool myself or the people around me. other people do this all the time too though. so maybe we're not trying to fool anyone. and big words just make people laugh.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
2:17 AM : : habla con ella. i read today something to this effect: that only the very young and the very old are at liberty to dwell upon themselves; to "recount their dreams at breakfast" and interrupt discussions with memories that are only tangentially related to the conversation at hand. "the rest of us are expected, rightly, to affect absorption in other people's (lives)."
true isn't it? most people feel a bit bad if they're blabbering on and on about themselves, even if they can't help it. what puzzles me is those people who insist on steering every conversation their way. it's impossible to have conversations with people like this. i'm not talking about one-on-one talks, since in that occasion, it's okay to meander on about yourself at length. but when someone can't discuss anything without interjecting their own bullshit story about "oh yes, i had a friend who owned a cat that was just like that, and he was from nebraska too." who cares?
i once had a conversation with two good friends at a diner. the topic was religion i believe and throughout the whole night two of us kept trying to talk around the third person because he was incapable of saying anything that didn't somehow relate to his direct experience with life/religion. it was incredibly frustrating.
some people completely lack conversation tact and i'm both fascinated and repulsed at the same time.
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
9:10 PM : :
"you can't go on leading the student's life... your friends here will grow older and go away." (when) george protests that he'll get new friends, maugham says, "yes, but you'll grow older too. is there anything more lamentable than the middle-aged man who tries to go on living the undergraduate's life? the old fellow who wants to be a boy among boys, and tries to persuade himself that they'll accept him as one of themselves -- how ridiculous he is. it can't be done."
Monday, May 08, 2006
3:40 AM : : half of inspiration is perspiration. you know when you walk through the bookstore and wonder how all these crappy books are made? well, i'll tell you how. people come up with an idea, put in the effort to write something, and then somebody buys it for distribution (not necessarily in this particular order) -- even if there's seemingly no comprehensible market for such a book.
never underestimate the power of people with random tastes. many a time i've wandered through the bookstore and tried to figure out how a certain book could possibly be moving units. but the fact of the matter is, if the book is in a major bookstore, it's probably selling. this fact (which i should be happy about considering my position) leads me to a dilemma.
i'm trying to figure out what the topic of my next book should be. yes, i like to throw that phrase around as if i now have a bonafide writing career. anyway, what i'm currently trying to figure out is what i'm capable of writing and if there's a marketplace for my words. in flipping through a few publishing magazines it's been made very clear to me that the hot thing to be writing about now is vampires. if you can somehow combine vampires and chick-lit, all the better. luckily for all involved, i actually know quite a bit about vampires (i played lots of rpgs that involved vampires). tragically, by the time i could get my act together and write a tale about vampires who double as celebrity chefs, that trend will be out; only to be replaced by something i probably know nothing about.
what i need is for someone to bring me a list of things that will be hot six months from now and i'll just pick one that i know, or once played dorky games about, and then write it. instant success. following this train of thought, i figured i could write a tongue-in-cheek book about sleeping since i am an expert on it. much to my chagrin, i went to the ucla book fair last weekend and saw a book detailing the different positions of sleeping for couples (it's published by mcsweeney's no less). that's practically my exact idea. it hurt to look inside the covers and realize that whoever wrote this book did it in a much cleverer way than i would have. anyway, i hope to bring out my own "19 cuddle buddy positions" as a companion volume for non-romantically linked friends who just need an extended hug at night. look for it on your bookshelves and the dressers of your sleeping companions.
Thursday, May 04, 2006
5:21 AM : : bruce banner. this is something i've been wondering. you know how there are tons of "fun loving, hunky, frat guys" who have "hearts of gold?" these are the guys who are out boozing it up, molesting unsuspecting girls, and trying to start fights. but away from that scene they are "super nice," "genuinely kind," and a "real sweetheart." of course, pretty much everyone thinks they're an asshole except for their close friends. now, which side do we take on this one?
i mean, does the heart of gold win out over the drunken lout or does the loud mouthed idiot erase any positive traits that might be hidden inside? i'm of the opinion that we form our judgements of people based on their least desirable attributes. i mean, why look at a person as half full when you can just as easily look at them half empty?
of course, maybe i'm just unsympathetic to the cause of the frat boy who turns incredible hulk-like around alchohol and is really sensitive otherwise. then again, maybe it's sexism because i'm quite sympathetic to the nice girl who has the bitch persona. i mean, i understand why that happens and can write off the bitch aspect to a defensive or offensive tactic but with this oxymoronic male i can't. maybe i just don't know enough of them to truly understand the appeal or the motivation behind the sensitive rager.
i read the other day that if a man's ring finger is longer than their index finger, it indicates a high level of testosterone. use that information however you wish.
Monday, May 01, 2006
12:12 AM : : it's safe to say that i've known george longer than most. people (admiring females mostly) always ask me, "how do you know women so well?" my answer to that question is always "oh, i have a twin sister." for some reason, that seems like a perfectly valid reason for my absurd understanding and knowledge of the other gender. scoff if you must. but i bet my knowledge of what it's like to grow up female trumps yours (if you are a guy). of course, i was only a witness, so i must claim some fallibility when faced with gender politics.
anyway, i've always been a big fan of short hair. if a girl can pull off short hair, she generally adds not only personality but also a certain panache to her style. it's not easy to pull off short hair. many have tried, many have failed. there's a fine line between mullet or man hair and true feminine chic fun (short) hair.
in reflecting upon whom among my circle of friends have managed to pull off short hair with aplomb, i came upon many convincing answers but one girl's name rose above the rest. shockingly, that name was my sister's. over the years i've seen george through a variety of hairstyles and while i've often paid attention to them (maybe even mocked one or two of them), i'd hardly attributed pulling off short hair to her every growing list of accomplishments. but there it was, staring me right in the face. my sister has been successfully living in the short hair world for years, which is no small feat.
so, in tribute and celebration, here it is: a brief history and glorification of george's hair. (i recommend watching this in "view slideshow" mode)