Friday, January 29, 2010

What I learned this week

I learned a few things this week:

First, I love it when I can use stuff in my craft stash for stuff beyond scrapbooking or the original use I got it for. I lost the belt to my long sweater, like, immediately. My crafty friend Linda, suggested looking through said craft stash for some grosgrain ribbon to fit the bill. I found one in a very agreeable color and length. I really like how it looks instead of empty belt loops.

Unfortunately, I discovered that my work-appropriate snuggie looks like a bathrobe when I tie it up. It completes the picture when I have a mug of coffee in my hand--someone commented that all I needed was my hair up in rollers. So now I kind of have to wear the sweater open, like a work-appropriate snuggie cape.

Another thing I learned is that it's so hard to limit yourself to top ten movies. I almost immediately had to edit yesterday's post to include "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind". And of course, after comparing top ten lists at lunch, I realized that there are some other great (whether sentimental, relatable, moving, well-crafted, etc.) that I forgot about:

- "Office Space"
- "Idiocracy"
- "There's Something About Mary"
- "Forest Gump"
- "Lord of the Rings" trilogy
- "The Professional"
- "The Sixth Sense"
- "The Karate Kid"
- "The Breakfast Club"
- "Boogie Nights"

And I also want to check out some movies after our discussion: "The Science of Sleep", "Hustle and Flow", "The Lives of Others", and, of course, "Pulp Fiction".

Finally, I discovered that Eddie Vedder still has an amazing voice. I feel like there's been a black hole in the last dozen years where I didn't really follow or explore new music. I recently heard "Hunger Strike" on the radio (which was from when I used to regularly listen to new music) and then heard him on Pearl Jam's recently released "Just Breathe". I can tell his voice has changed somewhat through the last years but it's still as rich as ever. Anybody have an opinion on the new album?

Anyhoo as I head into the weekend, I have high, high hopes of productivity.

Wish me luck.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Top Ten movie list, for now

A friend at work and I were loosely talking about favorite movies and we challenged each other to come up with a list of top ten movies. The intent was to be somewhat reflexive with no hard rules or pressure that the movies had to be critical or technical masterpieces. Also it was a list for now--it wasn't supposed to be some fixed life list--kind of a gut reaction top ten list.

I generated my list from movies that moved me, inspired me, or thrilled me. The caveat is that I haven't seen some classic or awesome movies, e.g., "Saving Private Ryan" or "Pulp Fiction", so please don't yell at me that I excluded some brilliant film. I just probably haven't seen it. And again, it's just loose gut reaction--I'm sure I'll feel I've left some great movies out by the weekend. Anyhoo here are my picks in no particular order (BTW, with three exceptions, I cried in each one):

Dumbo: Honestly, I'm not a blind devotee for Disney films (my rant on their Princess films is for another day), but for a Disney animated film, this movie articulated so much: the strength of maternal devotion, the cruelty of others (whether it is other mothers, those who dream of money with no thought of consequence, etc.), the "black feather" in all of us, and of course the big overlying message: taking what others may consider your biggest flaw, owning it and making it a strength. And of course, only an animated film made in the first half of the last century would realize underage drinking as such a cutesy, adorable trip.

Terminator 2: My God, when I saw Linda Hamilton doing those pull-ups in her cell, I was like, now that is one tough mother. I never had much affinity for damsel in distress movies and this one gifted us with the opposite. The movie had a simple universal storyline--save the world--and awesome action sequences to get there. It could only have been better if Michael Biehn's character from the first one was there. Don't worry, I didn't cry watching this one.

Hero: First off, with any foreign language film, you have to watch the non-dubbed version (with subtitles). I can't stand how dubbed versions can change a whole performance and even wreck a movie for me. Anyhoo, even though Hero is heavy in "Wire-Fu", the fight choreography (and yes, I love that there are both male and female fighters) is still amazing and beautiful. The stories are told from different points of view and the use of color and visuals are gorgeous. The underlying story of dying for a much bigger principle, i.e. unifying your country, is powerfully executed here.

Holes: For a movie aimed at kids, this movie has it all, a mystery, a love story, mythology, some action, and comedy. I loved Shia LeBeouf in this. Yes, I cried watching this movie, dammit.

Sign 'O' the Times: First I'll be the first to say I don't enjoy watching taped live music shows. When I watch SNL reruns, I generally fast forward through the music portion. But this featured Prince's music at one of his brilliant peaks and featured two of my favorite female poster women of my youth: Sheila E and Cat. Sheila E was an amazing percussionist in her own right and when Prince featured her as his drummer--women were really breaking out in places that were predominantly assumed by men. And Cat! Cat came out just when I needed her. At a time, when women were expected to be thin, pretty things that were lovely to look at (which was, and is, soooo not me), Cat arrived. With a body and carriage that exuded strength, not skinny, Cat owned the stage with such confidence, she literally reclassified sexy in my mind. BTW, I did not cry at any point in this film.

The Shawshank Redemption: Whenever this movie is on, I always get sucked in. The crafting of this gripping film that includes uncompromising views of prison life, different natures of man, hope, wit, humor, and determination is a work of art. Especially when you add Morgan Freeman's buttery baritone narration.

The Big Lebowski: I distinctly remember falling in love with Philip Seymour Hoffman after his scene-stealing performance in this movie. Overall the cast is outstanding from Jeff Bridges to Julianne Moore to Peter Stormare to John Turturro and on and on. It's a killer combo of mystery and comedy when the premise is watching a stoner solve the puzzle of mistaken identity. PS, didn't cry in this one either.

Shaun of the Dead: Yes, I know this movie owes alot to various predecessors, but this movie is brilliant in its satiric look of zombies in the modern day. The Everyman as unlikely hero is not a new concept but it's both hilariously and movingly executed in this movie by Simon Pegg.

Tampopo: This is, hands-down, one of my favorite movies of all time. If I could get my hands on a subtitled version of this, I would make it a ritual to watch it every year with some sort of party. It's a Japanese movie that has a main storyline of a struggling noodle shop interspersed with funny (some moving) vignettes of food's relationship with various facets of life. If you ever have a chance to see this movie, see it.

Precious: Well I won't bother repeating what I said before, but this movie is astounding.

And there it is, so far. I sure would LOVE to hear anybody else's favorite movies!

: How could I forget another one of my favorite movies of all time? Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a fantastic movie on the relationship of memory particularly in personal relationships. This movie while being both conceptually and visually out-of-the-box and arresting is wisely illuminating and uncompromising on love and long-term relationships. I can't believe I forgot about this movie--I really, really love it. Hmmm, I guess I'd have it replace "Holes" on my list. Darn, limiting to ten is hard.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


The other night we babysat my friend's little cutie. He was recovering from a cold and wasn't up for a full-on photo shoot so I settled for some iPhone pix. He fell asleep early on:

Nothing like a little angel sleeping. Even Ana found him irresistible:

Sigh. Too cute.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Just call me Weena

After a solid week of rain last week, it bloomed into a rewarding sunny weekend. Today there is supposed to be one last downpour and then, frankly, SoCal winter is over in my book. There will be a few months of gorgeous weather which I've become accustomed to and take for granted like dutiful Eloi. That is, until the Morlocks of SoCal weather invades: wildfire season. But that's down the road...

Anyhoo, as I've adapted to this SoCal weather, I've become increasingly sensitive to cooler weather and become a baby in dire need of swaddling when cold rain is added to the mix. During last week's rainy weather, I was shivering in my office, promising myself to bring in a blanket, loss of professional dignity be damned. Only to curse myself when I consistently forgot. Well over the weekend, I happened upon the answer to my prayers: a long sweater in the Clearance section for $10.

Here's the equation:

Long sweater = work-appropriate Snuggie

Clever, right? Perhaps I'm slightly more advanced than Weena after all.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Productive weekend

My weekends are getting more productive--hitting some resolutions:

Watched the SAG awards--considering that combined with the Globes, these indicate the running for Oscars, I was so disappointed that "Precious" did not win for Best Cast Performance. But at least Mo'Nique won. Mark my words--she's taking the Oscar. And Jeff Bridges! On a slight tangent, loved, loved him in "The Big Lebowski".

Anyhoo, in terms of productivity, I'm taking baby steps--I exercised (argh, though I think I need to get new running shoes--I wear them out in the same place every time), chose the low-cal soup when I went to lunch with my buddy (though I may have negated the benefit by eating a ton of salad drenched in real dressing), organized some stuff to mail to some patient folks, as well as putting together a giant bag for Goodwill. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I can keep up with this small momentum and snowball it into a productive week.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

My votes

for SAG Awards for theatrical motion pictures:

Male Lead: Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart)
Female Lead: Carey Mulligan (An Education)
Male Supporting: Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds)
Female Supporting: Mo'Nique (Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire)
Cast: Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire

I was torn between Jeremy Renner and Jeff Bridges for Male Lead, but ultimately my gut sided with Bridges. And good gravy, Carey Mulligan is a refreshing standout--I was just glued to her watching her in "An Education". And yes, I know there is so much buzz about Sandra Bullock in "The Blind Side". I do like her (and frankly, I thought she showed more nuance in "The Proposal" than "The Blind Side") but this would be like a "Color of Money" vote for me and she's too young for it. And as for Meryl Streep--I know, I know, she's amazing in everything and I too lived for the "Julia" scenes, but I'm still going to pull for Mulligan. Christoph Waltz was utterly engaging--though I think he was well-served being in a movie that was so dialogue-heavy. Is anybody else surprised how talky "Inglourious Basterds" is? I actually dozed off a few times and they were still talking in the bar. But when the action came, man, it was extremely and blisteringly violent. And you know my opinion on "Precious" and Mo'Nique.

On the television side, I've got votes in but I'm a little less sure as I didn't see all the shows nominated.

Looking forward to the seeing the final results this weekend--

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The rains

Holy cow. You know how it never rains in Southern California? Well, it's been making up for lost time. Besides full-on downpours--one causing a splash that literally covered my car in a giant wave--the wind has been swinging traffic lights and bringing down trees:

There was even a tornado warning and they herded the kids together in the Multi-Purpose Room at my girl's school.

As if this wasn't enough for poor, unprepared SoCal, we're forecasted to get a week of this. And it's supposed to get worse on Thursday.

Even this East Coaster is getting a little nervous...

Monday, January 18, 2010

Some surprises

Was anyone else surprised by some of the wins on the Golden Globes last night? The big shocker--Jeff Bridges for Best Actor?! Now I'll have to watch Crazy Heart...

Plus I guess I'll have to see "Avatar" now. Is that the Oscar Best Picture frontrunner now?

I loved that "The Hangover" won for best comedy picture.

And I'm calling Mo'Nique to win Best Supporting at the SAG Awards and yes, the Oscars...

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Just What the Doctor Ordered

First off, I have to confess that the past few months have been somewhat stressful, which finally culminated in coordinating the move of our office last week. Mix in the holidays, and the usual day-job work of month-end and year-end closing, and I'm pretty sure I was thisclose to a stroke. I've grown about a hundred gray hairs and gained a third chin from my go-to coping mechanism: stuffing my face with comfort food. People were actually coming up to me saying you need a drink or that I had a look of what do you want? on my face complete with deep furrowed, frowny brows.

I think the most stressful part about coordinating a move, especially one with weekly construction meetings, is that there is only so much that is actually in your control and you have to rely and trust vendors to do what they say they'll do. Of course, the largest and monolithic of those vendors (which shall remain nameless) did not follow through on some key tasks and I was scrambling and panicking through the weekend. Anyhoo, bottom line, the big job was complete last weekend, with a few various loose ends to tie up.

Now I am not one that promotes drinking but I have to confess I needed a drink like I needed amnesia to forget the previous months' labors and stresses. Kind of how you forget about the whole birthing process because you've got a beautiful baby afterwards--to the point that you look forward to doing it all over again because it wasn't that bad the last time, right?

Anyhoo, I wasn't the only one affected by the move and a whole bunch of us planned for Happy Hour after work last night.

Let me digress here to explain my drinks of choice: I'll do beer and wine on short social, dinner engagement type events. The pros: I can drink them slowly, enjoy them with food, and can be coherent bordering on profound without resorting to salty language. The cons: they make me pretty drowsy and I usually pass out in a couple of hours. In terms of beer, I prefer a nice wheat beer, e.g. Pyramid Hefeweizen, and in terms of wine, my pick would be a viognier. The hard liquor exception would be a very well-made mojito. And I mean a real, mint-leaves-crushed-with-a-pestle with sugar syrup and fine rum, mojito. Unfortunately, these typically are not made to this standard in most bars and where available, usually run about $10/serving. Which means I rarely have them. Sigh. I love a good mojito.

Now for socializing where the conversations get ranty and the humor a bit ribald, my go-to drink is rum and diet coke. If I'm feeling fancy or it's on an event tab, I'll go for Captain Morgan's spice rum but honestly, I can do house rum pretty well. The pros: if I maintain a good pace, my energy stays high throughout the night. The cons: my language definitely veers into salty territory, along with the cursed combination of thinking I'm saying something profound, when I'm merely holding up various objects to my face, announcing this is what I'd look like with a moustache! Depending on the space, I also will attempt to bring back various dance moves from the 80s while alternately channeling Cat (when Prince was Prince), Madonna, and a Beastie Boy. (To save time and space, I'll save the rest of the drinking spectrum for another post some day.)

Back to Happy Hour. I pretty much decided to go with option B--in fact, I was so sure in my decision that I responsibly arranged for folks to drive me to and from Happy Hour. When I got there, I pretty much had 3 rum&cokes in a row, which pretty much kept me lit through the night. To which I have to say I discovered other pros and cons:

Pro - I'm proud to say I'm not mean when I drink--in fact, I'm the opposite. I had the revelation that all my co-workers are some of the sweetest, funniest, and most understanding people on the planet. With the best skin! Man, I cannot explain how good everyone's skin looked. I remember wanting to touch their perfect faces but thankfully refrained from doing so. I think I actually started calling one of them "Porcelain skin doll" to her face. Wait a minute...she wasn't a co-worker. Ouch. That part is probably a Con.

Con - I think I'm more coordinated than I am. My apologies to all my co-workers who I thought I could throw french fries in their mouths from various distances. I can't.

Pro - I was much more open to telling folks how much I admired them. Especially about their porcelain-like skin.

Con - Apparently I have an Elaine-esque habit of punching someone in the arm in various moments of disbelief--usually accompanied by a no way!, or you're lying!

Pro - At the urging/dare of some co-workers, I attempted to thwart the advances of some dude who was digging on one of our co-workers who was too nice to reject him. Hmmm, maybe this probably belongs in the Con column.

Con - I choked. Papillon Soo Soo would have been so disappointed. In terms of dignity, this was probably a Pro.

Pro - After some long discussion on the benefits of using Moroccan oil on hair, I made some promises to clean up and fem up my appearance at work.

Con - There's no way I can keep that promise.

Anyhoo, it turns out the night was just what the doctor ordered. After Happy Hours, a handful of us went to another venue and got our groove on. That's right, bring on the popping and locking, the cabbage patch, the sprinkler, with a heap of Solid Gold Dancer! Good Lord, let there be no pictures. Aaaah, and the icing on the cake: hash browns at the Denny's.

It was a good night, indeed.

Monday, I just might be ready for you.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Happy Friday

My girl dressed her cat, Ana, in this Build-a-Bear corduroy jacket. Looks ridiculous, right?

Yet the cat keeps it on...

Happy Friday everyone!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

3 weeks

My friend Linda just informed me that yesterday, 3 weeks after getting her TWO prosthetic legs, she WALKED without a walker, cane, zip. The details are obviously her story to tell, but just the simple facts blow my mind. These are BOTH legs, not just one. I think of the pain, the weight, the balance, etc. I have had the opportunity to spend some weekend time with her and witness the evolution to bed to wheelchair to two-arm, wheeled walker. I was looking forward to the cane stage but now this!

Linda, when I try to say this to your face, it comes out like tongue-tied treacled and cliched garbage but believe me when I say that you're ridiculously awesome. I always admired your wit, your fire, your creative mind, your just-do-it attitude, and your generosity sharing your time and gifts before all this. Inside my head and heart I knew you'd do all you're doing but I'm floored you're doing it all so soon. I know we've joked about this, but you really are Cherry Darling--you're kicking our zombie a$$es and nailing us right between the eyes.

So of course, it got me thinking. What have I done in 3 weeks? Or to be more constructive, what can I do in 3 weeks? Well today I start my WW log again, no joke. The Points, the 6 cups of water, blah, blah, blah. I am at 158.5 today (yes, I realize I went in the wrong direction since New Year's Day). I also plan on knocking off 3 of my resolutions in 3 weeks. I look forward to seeing where I am at after 3 weeks, February 3.

Thanks for kicking my a$$ as always, Linda.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

No excuses

to hit another resolution this weekend.

Monday, January 11, 2010

My Girlfriend's Back


To a true Dodger, welcome back.

The younger version of me says, You're the balls, Linda.

The current version of me says, You're an inspiration, you're awesome, you're as funny, fiery, forward, tough, and beautiful as always. Eh...ditto.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Maybe not quite magic...

but how about a little joy?

As previously mentioned I have been itching to make something with Tim Burton/Alice in Wonderland, that Gabe Askew video, and Thomas Demand on my mind. But a fast and easy medium to work with was foil, so the theme was Winter Wonderland:

Unfortunately, as confirmed by a number of folks at the office, a cursory glance makes it seem like a simple office prank:

Especially when you try to be thorough:

But there were a sharp few who understood the love in this project and one actually said it looked like a "winter wonderland" and looked frozen over. Viva la art and love, I say.

Thanks to my partners in crime...or art, depending on how you see it, my blogging mentor and my much hipper friend.

I must give full credit of the creation of the hearts and the word joy to my blogging mentor who also is my photography mentor and showed me how to use the remote with my camera. Hooray! That's two accomplished on my 2010 list...

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Highlights from the Holiday Bowl

As mentioned, I had the great opportunity to go to the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl last week. Here are some cool highlights (besides face painting):

When I saw something ejected from some planes flying over the stadium before the game, my mind thought for some reason they were dropping off promotional t-shirts:

But it turned out those were Navy Seals that jumped out of those planes!

I gotta say, I was pretty impressed they managed to land on the football field:

Another cool highlight is this giant (football field size) flag that unfurls annually at the Holiday Bowl. Sadly, my mind got distracted wondering how they wash such a ginormous flag:

The honorary chairman was "Jack Box". He gave out a coupon for a free sourdough grilled sandwich. Unfortunately, the coupon is only good in San Diego.

And of course, the best highlight--Nebraska wins the first shutout in Holiday Bowl history, beating Arizona 33-0.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

I go back and forth on FaceBook

I have still not joined FaceBook despite the number of friends and family on board. My main excuse is that I don't need another reason to be glued to my computer. But I think this is why:

Friday, January 1, 2010

Welcome 2010

As I mentioned yesterday, besides my general resolutions of wanting to get in shape, be a nicer person, clean up my dirty mouth, and declutter, I wanted to make some quantifiable New Year's resolutions:

In honor of 2010, here are 10:

- Break 150 (I woke up at 156.5 pounds today. A mere half pound less than I did on the first day of 2009.)
- Make something (the range here is huge)
- Take a photo shoot of a family, process, and present 20 images on CD like a high-falutin' real photographer.
- Learn how to use the remote for my camera
- Take a self-portrait
- Get cozy with my 580ExII flash
- send my sister the first 20 finished pictures from her wedding
- purge a garbage bag full of stuff to Goodwill
- wash my car
- clean out my bathroom drawers

Looking at this list, it kind of looks like a weekend to-do list, but I have to confess that some of these things I've been meaning to do for months. Hopefully putting it on my New Year's resolution list will encourage me to finally do them. With few exceptions (e.g., breaking 150), most of these items I'd like to repeat multiple times throughout the year.

Wish me luck. Anybody care to share their resolutions? I'm pretty sure you'll inspire me.

Thinking about changes for the new year

As I eat this "Crispy Potato Soft Taco" (delicious) and ponder its nutritional benefits (none), I'm thinking of changes for the new year. Like laying off the crispy potato soft tacos, for one. And I need to declutter and get organized. And I know my family and friends would like me to lighten up on the profanity as well...

I know, I know, I'm a sucker for the opportunity of renewal every New Year and 2010 is no different.

There are the typical things I want to improve--like the previously mentioned eating habits. And of course, its buff sibling--getting back on track with the exercise. My sister asked if I'm trying to reach some arbitrary number. And I can honestly say no, it's about how strong I feel. And I remember feeling pretty strong when I was in the 140-145 range. But right now I'm feeling pretty uncomfortably mushy. Remember the looks of horror in that scene in "The Dark Knight" when the thug realizes the Joker had a cell-phone bomb implanted in his body? That's kind of how I feel. But for me, I'm horrified that someone has surgically implanted a fanny pack of goo below my waistline.

My general goals each year have a similar focus--health, family, friends, and growth. I think this year I'd like to give myself some quantifiable goals that relate to my general goals. Something to ponder for the new year...