Friday, May 28, 2010

Breakfast of Champions, by Kurt Vonnegut


"You [the reader] are an experiment by the Creator of the Universe [Vonnegut]. You are the only creature in the entire Universe who has free will. You are the only one who has to figure out what to do next—and why. Everybody else [the characters in the book] is a robot, a machine. [As in real life,] some persons seem to like you, and others seem to hate you... They are simply liking machines and hating machines... It is exhausting, having to reason all the time in a universe which wasn't meant to be reasonable."

Rating: 5/5

Film: Sex and the City 2

In a sentence: This movie was an outrageous date with an old friend, but had enough product placement so as to bring fashion vomit to a whole new level.

Rating: One thumb hesitantly up

Friday, May 21, 2010

Plane Ride

As we head into the white
Where clouds of snow and cotton candy lie
Above the mountaintops and streams
And every now and then the rooftops gleam

Look to the right—
What's that over there?
Man with a mustache, hat, and a beard?
Look to the left—
Chateaus galore
Almost like what I've seen in a storybook before
Don't look down
If you're the type to get sick
Especially when that turbulence gives you a kick
Oddly enough, we rarely look up
But what's there to see, more of that blue stuff?

This is the land where civilizations were built
Where man conquered, surrendered, and killed
This is a land where treaties were made
Between nations, nature, promises were said

It makes me wonder why is it that we're put on this Earth
What can I possibly do—
As just one in this great dearth
Yet flying so high makes the world seem so small
Maybe I can make a difference after all

[Written: 12/22/09, on a flight from Qingdao to Sanya, China]

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Film: The Back-Up Plan

Jennifer Lopez's latest movie The Back-Up Plan ($41M worldwide box office gross to date since its April 23 release) is no cinematic masterpiece, but it certainly exceeded my expectations. In fact, if not for a free movie screening and the opportunity to spend time with a good friend, I may very well have never seen this 98-minute long, PG-13 film.

The story is about a woman, Zoe (Lopez), who fears that her clock is ticking, but instead of looking for Mr. Right, pays for a vial of sperm and decides to take matters into her own hands... or, erm, belly. You know the old saying—love comes when you least expect it. Literally the moment she steps out of the doctor's office on insemination day, Zoe meets the man of her dreams, Stan (Alex O'Loughlin). Of course, it's a subjective call when it comes to determining whether art mimics life or life mimics art in this case. The pair's fabulous first date and weekend away (on the second date) can either be read as a condensed representation of a perfect courtship or as a reflection of modern women taking dating advice from sappy rom-coms as unrealistic as this one.

Despite the predictability of this film (including the water-birthing scene that makes most of us squeamish, and the steamy makeout scenes so obviously designed for a largely Lifetime-watching female audience) there are some redeeming qualities that save it from being a complete flop. Even if the spark isn't completely there, O'Loughlin and Lopez sure do look like a stunning pair. This movie does make you laugh in the moment, however fleeting and unmemorable the jokes may be. Best of all, listening to the peppy, feel-good scoring is like taking a hot shower at the end of a long day. No matter what else has failed you previously, you walk out of the experience feeling a little warmer inside. Somehow, you're comforted by the fact that you're not the only one who hasn't found your Prince Charming yet, and that hope is just around the corner, all to the upbeat, motivational derivations of tunes from The Princess Diaries and Legally Blonde. (Don't judge my musical taste. Sometimes, a girl's got to listen to a girly song.)

If there is a lesson to be learned from (or reinforced after) watching this film, it's that you must find yourself before you find someone else. You must know how to make yourself happy, because you're the only person who you'll live with every day for the rest of your life. But you knew all of that already, didn't you?

Movies like these are like chicken soup for the female soul. Even though it's the same flavor stewed in the same way with the same ingredients, it's an affirmation that we're all worthy of love. And that's an idea that never gets old.


Article first published as Movie Review: The Back-Up Plan on Blogcritics.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Anthony Robbins

"Live life fully while you're here. Experience everything. Take care of yourself and your friends. Have fun, be crazy, be weird. Go out and screw up! You're going to anyway, so you might as well enjoy the process. Take the opportunity to learn from your mistakes: find the cause of your problem and eliminate it. Don't try to be perfect; just be an excellent example of being human."

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Restaurant: BLD

interesting, clean ambiance. went here for lunch. felt a bit like we were dining at crate & barrel. didn't get to try anything on the wine menu, but it looks like they had quite a selection. had the spicy cuban pork sandwich. messy meal, but very good food. wish the fries that came with it could have been truffle. no ranch dressing served at the restaurant, but the aioli was a good substitute for dip. parking was difficult, as is the usual with weho, though valet is only $1 with validation. great place for a business lunch or sunday brunch pre-shopping at the grove.


Restaurant Details Below (from Yelp):

7450 Beverly Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Neighborhoods: Mid-City West, West Hollywood

(323) 930-9744

Price Range: $$
Accepts Credit Cards: Yes
Parking: Street
Attire: Casual
Good for Groups: Yes
Good for Kids: No
Takes Reservations: Yes
Delivery: No
Take-out: Yes
Waiter Service: Yes
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes
Outdoor Seating: Yes
Good for: Breakfast, Brunch
Alcohol: Full Bar

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Letter to Me (at this Point in Time)

Dear Self,

Realize that there are always going to be a gazillion opportunities in life, no matter how dead-end your current prospects may seem.

Have you have become too mired in the career-building aspect of your life? What's your ultimate goal? To look back when you're old and wrinkly and be able to say, "I have no regrets. I was and am happy." So why is it that our society is so fond of telling us on the one hand to consciously pursue our dreams and peer pressuring us on the other to set goals on traditional paths to "success?"

Remember that one of the best pieces of advice you've ever received is to honestly evaluate what you like to do, then find a way to get paid to do it.

Think hard about how important money really is to you at this stage in your life. Now consider for a moment a scenario in which personal finances were taken off the table—what would you be doing? Work backward from that end state. Imagine that you are in fact doing what you've envisioned. Do you have what you need to survive? If this is insufficient in satisfying your minimum requirements (whatever they may be), then what other things that you like to do can you turn into sources of income?

Perhaps this makes entrepreneurs out of all of us, and maybe we're not really the entrepreneur type. But what does it mean to be an entrepreneur, really? In many ways, it's just as well that you substitute the word "creativity" for "entrepreneurship." Anyone can and should find it in themselves to be creative.

Money should be a means to an end, not an end in itself. Steadfastly pursue your interests and passions, and the rest will take care of itself eventually. Have faith.

Have faith not only in yourself, but in other people. Like attracts like, and if you are a good person from the inside out, then you will naturally and effortlessly form relationships with other good individuals. Character counts. Expect the most from yourself and never anything from others. Their respect (or lack thereof) for the Golden Rule speaks volumes. Stay true to what you believe in, and don't doubt what you know you know—especially when it comes to your morals and values.

Be confident, but never so much so that you lose the ability to keep an open mind. Feed your mind. Read. Write. Think hard. Question everything. And leave room for accepting ideas different from your own. No pain, no gain. Challenge yourself.

When in doubt, reread this letter to affirm your current convictions. Eat well. Stay healthy. Love life. Continue to pursue happiness.

Stay hungry.


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Why I'm Against Pre-Nups

If you feel the need to sign a pre-nup, then don't get married. You're either not ready or it's the wrong person.

Pre-nup = viewing marriage as a potentially short-term, terminable at will deal + attempting to quantify love and trust + self-reassurance of protection from your spouse

Essentially, you are saying to your significant other... "Hey, let's get married. But in case this doesn't work out, at least I won't be losing out materially." Maybe that's why the US divorce rate is ~50%—society seems to no longer view marriage as a lifelong commitment to be as practical (or, in some cases, even desirable).

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

William Butler Yeats

"When You are Old"

When you are old and gray and full of sleep
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true;
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face.

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead,
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Woody Allen

"To love is to suffer. To avoid suffering, one must not love. But then, one suffers from not loving. Therefore, to love is to suffer; not to love is to suffer; to suffer is to suffer. To be happy is to love. To be happy, then, is to suffer, but suffering makes one unhappy. Therefore, to be happy, one must love or love to suffer or suffer from too much happiness."

James Morrison

I don't know where I crossed the line
Was it something that I said
Or didn't say this time
And I don't know if it's me or you
But I can see the skies are changing
In all the shades of blue
And I don't know which way it's gonna go

I thought that time was on our side
I've put in far too many years
To let this pass us by
You see life is a crazy thing
There'll be good times and there'll be bad times
And everything in-between
And I don't know which way it's gonna go

Oh, we're a little closer now
In finding what life's all about
Yeah I know you just can't stand it
When things don't go your way
But we've got no control over what happens anyway

If it's gonna be a rainy day
There's nothing we can do to make it change
We can pray for sunny weather
But that won't stop the rain
Feeling like you got no place to run
I can be your shelter 'til it's done
We can make this last forever
So please don't stop the rain

Let it fall...


From: "Please Don't Stop the Rain," Songs for You, Truths for Me