Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Holy crap this movie was violent

But I guess I should have expected it.

I saw Kick-A$$ last night in a small movie theater with about 120 high school students. If you know me, you know I love a good super hero genesis story. I appreciated how it aimed to ground this more in reality, e.g. the titular hero has no special powers, skills, or equipment--just the desire to not close his eyes to injustice in the world.

Ultimately, though, Kick-A$$ is a rough marriage of trying to bring fanatastic, stylized, comic-book violence with realistic aftermath. The young character of Hit Girl (really, really well done by Chloë Grace Moretz) epitomized this conflicted relationship. At times, I could get into my comic book head and love the ridiculously profane language the girl used and the crazy violent choreography. At other times, the mom in me had trouble watching a young girl execute and exchange such brutal violence.

If you can keep your head in comic book land--you'll really enjoy this movie. For me, overall I give this movie a B-.

Observations from two weeks into World Cup 2010

- Sweet Lord, am I finally getting used to those crazy vuvuzelas? There are pockets of time where the insane horn-blowing almost blends in like white noise. Yet, there are moments when they sure don't. Beer helps.

- If they decide to make a movie about the sportscasters from this World Cup, Peter Krause must play Alexi Lalas.

- Does the playing up fouls get worse as the stakes get higher? Like the way the guy who was somewhat elbowed in the chest convinced the refs that he got poked in the eye by grabbing his face? I swear some of these guys are thisclose to dragging out fainting chairs.

- When outfitting yourself to support your team, you may want to think how the get-up looks if your team should lose and you look dejected. I'm talking to you, Mr. English fan with a body unapologetically built by a solid years of beer drinking in the gleaming tight white bodysuit and the red and white fun fur wig. It might have looked festive and playful when you were laughing and jumping about before the game started. But by the time England lost 4-1 by Germany, your slumpy look in that ensemble personified Losing.

- I know I'm a newbie to world football, but man, these ref-blown goal calls are heartbreakers. It's got to play with your head if a goal was erroneously given to the other team or a goal disallowed from yours. It adds a capricious obstacle beyond the constants of the skills and strategy of the opposing team you're playing and your own. Egregious goal calls could easily add a sense of unfair arbitrariness that subconsciously screws with your head. After all, if the game isn't fair, what does my skills and effort matter? Of course, this makes the USA's winning goal over Algeria all the more amazing. Shaking off that incorrect disallowed goal, and scoring a goal in the 91st minute? That goal should have had people screaming "Do you believe in miracles?!"

Now, I kind of understand the FIFA argument against technology--start with goal-verification technology and where does it end--will each little foul be questioned? But I'd point to the NFL's judicious use of instant replay. And even American baseball, famous for its own controversial live calls, is considering expanding their use instant replay. I'm pretty sure FIFA would have one strong supporter in the use to instant replay in Armando Galarraga.

- And aha! I learned there is truth to the ESPN commercial about the #10 jersey. It's apparently given to the playmaker on the team, which apparently is usually the attacking midfielder and often assists on goals.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Piñata time

Remember the birthday piñata over my desk? It's one of those special ones great for toddlers because no bat is needed. You aim to pull just the right one of the ribbons and ta-da! It's raining candy.

Well on the rare occasions that folks walk into my office, I'll remember that I have this piñata over my desk and I say, are you the lucky one? and rip one of the ribbons. Well tonight was the night. It so happened that the network guy who comes in occasionally at night popped in and I looked up and there was one ribbon left. I pulled and wha-la:

Well it wasn't actually raining candy, but at least I now have access to an awesome chocolate fix when necessary!

Thanks for coming in M!

Sunday--more productive

I woke up today remembering I had to go to the lab for blood tests for my general physical. And I remembered I had aimed to get there first thing because I was supposed to be fasting for the tests. Well, I meant to go as soon as I got up but got sucked into the Germany/England World Cup game. I was impressed that the English ESPN commentator was fairly uncompromising when the English team was defeated 4-1 by Germany. He said the German team made the English team look "overweight, heavy". Ouch. I'm pretty sure I'd cry if I heard that in reference to me. He even suggested that perhaps England should look to Germany in terms of changing up their strategy and structure. Yeesh, will this guy get in trouble back in England? I worry a little for him.

I managed to get to the lab without passing out before 10am. On a tangential note, I dread getting blood drawn because I have such small veins. Donating blood has been one of the greatest sources of conflict--I love to do it because it doesn't cost me money or much of my time yet it's a huge life-saving donation in the big scheme of things. But on the other side, because of my small veins, it's painful and sometimes, because the weak flow from my small veins sometimes clots up, the flow stops and it's not enough for a donation and it's a wasted effort.

The phlebotomist today also acknowledged my tiny veins but not before amusing me. As he was tapping my open arm trying to get a rise out of my tiny veins, he asked if I exercised and I told him sure, but not super regularly. He said, really? Because your arms are so muscular. Snort. I joked that he was being fooled by the layer of fat and he said, oh no, and continued to tap his finger on my ostensibly bulging bicep. In my near-delirium from not eating, I almost accused him of trying to pick me up. But besides that being a weak pick-up line, that notion was extinguished by his rough "shovy" style of trying to extract blood from the crook of my arm. Hardly the needlework of a flirting phlebotomist. He said he didn't want to bruise me so he flipped over my arm and said Aha! and said that the top of my hand was the obvious place to draw blood from. Between his stabby style and the fact that there's so much bone close to the surface, the idea sounded so "ouchy". But I played the grown-up and shrugged, sure. And it wasn't so bad after all:

(Try not to be mesmerized by my muscular arm.)

Afterwards and famished, I went to the Starbuck's nearby and went for the healthy oatmeal option and the nonfat latte:

I ran some other tedious errands (adult productivity--check for today) and looked at the clock and saw that the Argentina-Mexico game was on. I pulled into the same local bar as yesterday, ready to root for the underdogs: Mexico. Unfortunately, the bar only had about two dozen people and somehow all managed to be rooting for Argentina.

One observation: a third of the Argentina team has my haircut. Put Gabriel Heinze or Carlos Tevez in a ponytail-bun and I'm pretty sure it'd be like looking in the mirror. Well unfortunately for Mexico, they lost 3:1. And frankly I have to give it to the Argentina player who backed up the goalie and saved the goal with his face.

Anyhoo, going to round out the day with some adult amusement:

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Saturday: World Cup and Strikeforce--upsetting and upsets

Per my friend/World Cup mentor's suggestion, I headed to this place to view the 7am Uruguay/South Korea game:

There were about 8 people there for this game (though folks were starting to trickle in just to claim a table for the 11am USA game) and I managed to sit with some nice guys who were rooting for ROK as well:

The Olde Ship is an English pub so English that the waitresses have English accents and call everyone "Love". My early morning buddies who are regulars here informed me that folks regularly drink beer at early games like this and when they air live Premier League games. So to honor the tradition, I took the waitress up on the simple offering of "breakfast" and I ordered a snakebite. The waitress rolled her eyes when I asked if I could have the breakfast with no meat and said "no Love, it all comes together". Sigh. There's a reason it's called pub food and not English Cuisine. Yes, my toast has been deep-fried, but I was able to give the banger and ham to my new buds:

I'm pretty sure I haven't ever drank beer so early in morning before (or will again) so my buddy offered to take a pic. Adult amusement accomplished for today by 7:30am!

Despite our early morning encouragement, S. Korea lost 2-1 to Uruguay. To keep myself going upward and onward, I got an oil change. Adult productivity accomplished for today.

I tried to rally the friends from work I met up with last night to see the USA-Ghana game at a local bar with many, many screens. One showed up. And my eating didn't improve:

And the USA team lost 2-1. To the same team that knocked them out at the last World Cup: Ghana. Shoot, now that's upsetting. I went home and ended up passing out after that game--was it from the beer consumed before noon? was it from the disappointing results of the two games? or was it my hope of sleeping off the burgeoning tummy trouble from the deep fried toast that had been burning a hole in my stomach since 7:30am? Perhaps all of the above. Anyhoo, I woke up in time to meet up with Linda for dinner. I tried to redeem my earlier food choices by going with soup and salad:

Only to negate my efforts when she ordered zeppoles (pretty much the equivalent of donuts) for dessert.

After dinner I joined my friend, Mr. F, to watch the Strikeforce fights, namely the headlining Fedor/Werdum fight. The upset I would have loved to have seen was Cris "Cyborg" Santos to have lost. Unfortunately, Jan Kinney was hardly up to task and took such a near stomach-turning beating from Cyborg that I'm pretty sure it may set back airing more female MMA fights. The upsets came in the form of 38-year-old Cung Le defeating a near 10-years-younger Scott Smith, with a back kick that dropped him. I haven't seen a disabling kick in a fight in so long--it was like the old Cro Cop Pride days. But of course, the biggest upset of the night: Werdum's submission of Fedor. The triangle choke came on so quickly and early that it was almost underwhelming. Don't get me wrong, this is a huge upset. But still...I think Fedor is still going to be considered top dog. His next fight will be the real telling story...

Friday, June 25, 2010

Productivity and amusement

As my girl and her Nana are off for a week to visit the sweet arrival of Madhu, Jane's and Prashant's baby (hoping for pictures soon--yes I'm counting on you, Nana), I'm on a mission of adult productivity and amusements.

On the productivity side--what else? Decluttering! But I also have an annoying list of errands that take time and would dread dragging the girl along to as well so I aim to cross those off the list while she's gone.

On the amusement side--I plan to see to an R-rated movie or get a drink on each day. When I say R-rated movie, I can't help but think about the Simpsons episode where Milhouse tells Bart--"we're sneaking into R-rated movie--you want to come?" and when Bart asks which one, Milhouse gleefully shouts "Barton Fink!" Because right now, it's slim pickings at the theater right now. There are actually some PG and PG-13 movies that I wouldn't mind seeing but the girl would also be game for so I might as well take the girl with me if I'm going to see them. The only well-received R-rated movie out right now is Winter's Bone. Oof, looks heavy. I may have to resort to DVD rentals.

I'm off to a solid start as I have post-happy hour plans with a couple of friends from work tonight.

Straight A's

Well the week picked up. The girl finally got straight A's on her last trimester report card. The yelling and DSLite withholding finally paid off. We celebrated with a fine meal at Chae Bahn (yes we pretty much ate that all):

The girl made me a hat with their take-out menu (guess they don't teach scale in Origami in school):

And we capped it off with a trip to Yogurtland:

Don't bother trying to make the caramel apple flavor unless you enjoy gloppy cloying crap. The Green Apple Tart flavor was ironically overly sweet which was too much with the caramel and peanuts. Thank goodness I had the smarts to make sure to get some of my classic mix of plain & strawberries with mochi balls. The girl stuck to her usual cheesecake froyo and caramel sauce mess.

Definitely a good way to end the week.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Help me, DCP

Was today only Wednesday? My head was exploding with stress. Help me, DCP:

Unfortunately, I had to resort to a higher level:

It got me through the day and hopefully will slay one of the dragons in my head that is pretty much making my brain cry.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Chollima Down on a long day

Woke up at 5am to catch the Portugal-North Korea match-up. I was intrigued by this match up--my nature is to root for the underdog and I was also curious about this secretive North Korean team that didn't do too badly last week against the number 1 team in the world, Brazil, losing only 2-1. And there have already been some interesting upsets--Spain losing to Switzerland, Cameroon already out of the Finals. So who knew what World Cup magic might happen this morning?

Very little apparently. Despite an exciting start in the beginning where the Chollima were down in near-scoring zone, Portugal eventually "took them to the sword" and won 7-0. Ouch.

By the 4th goal, there was a part of me that really regretted not sleeping in. Well at least I could go to bed early tonight.

Unless...your daughter has a pioneer trail the next day and you have to put together a covered wagon made with swimming noodles and a bed sheet:

And you have to dig out a pioneer outfit cobbled together from an old suit skirt and shirt:

I was also supposed to put together a dozen treats for these little pioneers. We went to the store to get some more cookie mix but I said everyone is going to be bringing sweets, what about something different, like trail mix? The girl gave me the face she displays when I suggest getting her friends clothes instead of video games for their birthdays. (Side note: ironically, I recognize that as a kid I hated getting clothes instead of toys for my birthdays but now as a parent, it seems like such an awesome idea. Why is that?) We compromised on snack bags of Sun Chips. No baking!

This little pioneer says, Happy Trails!

Sunday, June 20, 2010


kicks my a$$ sometimes.

Observations from one week into the World Cup

- I now know what a reverse Christmas tree formation looks like.

- Like fouls in basketball, these football players really try to sell fouls. Given the pure emotion I've witnessed when a goal is scored, the jaded part of me takes a long drag of a cigarette and exhales, he's faking it to the refs when a guy faceplants himself. It's only topped by the player (who practically horsecollars another player) with the honed acting skills of a six-year-old displaying a hammy shrug of the shoulders mouthing what did I do?

- I thought I was starting to get used to that insane hornblowing/buzzing noise during games, but more often I think, no, that cr@p has got to stop NOW. It's the aural equivalent of being hexed to birth a unicorn from my body. I saw on the news that at a recent Florida Marlins game 100,000 of those same type of horns were given out. The segment showed players with earplugs and mothers clamping their hands over the ears of screaming babies. And the game lasted 11 innings. Mental note: avoid Florida Marlins games. They're cursed.

- Settling down around 7pm to watch that morning's DVRed 4:30am Argentina-South Korea game after learning the score and highlights, isn't nearly as exciting as experiencing it live. Kind of like watching the Twilight movies sober. Sigh. It's the Sophie's Choice of the World Cup in California: sleep or real-time experience.

Which brings me to this: whether to get up early and watch the DPRK (North Korea) vs. Portugal game at 4:30am on Monday. Before work. As I mentioned before, I can't help but pity-root for this team. In some ways, it'd make a nice Cinderella story if this North Korean team made it to the Finals.

But it's sad that part of the sweet story is the relief that their families won't be sent to the labor camps. Also it doesn't help that the DPRK's coach constantly credits their "eternal President" with the team's positive skills. It's kind of like that Twilight Zone story where this kid with cruel magical powers can read everyone's minds. They all have to think happy thoughts or else he punishes them by taking away their mouths or something freaky like that. So the kid is surrounded by all these adults with panicked, forced faces of joy, constantly effusive with praise for the kid's wonderful ideas like eating cake and ice cream for every meal.

But even with smug celebratory words praising the Supreme Leader's wisdom and power to gift his players with skill, underneath it'd be pretty darn magical to see the lowest-ranked team in this World Cup make it to the Finals.

Friday, June 18, 2010


Last night, the girl told me we needed to bake cookies for an auction in her instrumental class today. She lucked out in that we had a bag of mix and before 11:30 we had two dozen cookies packed up in Gladware and tied up with curling ribbon and a label. Apparently the kids "bid" with credits they had earned through the year in the class.

The girl came home with this:

She said that it was one of the first items up to bid and she used up all her credits to get it. Considering she dumped 2 dozen Duncan Hines oatmeal cookies and got 2 pounds of See's candies in exchange, it kind of made it worth staying up late to make the darn things. In fact, I'd consider this a win.

A major win.

Sweet P strikes again

Well color me most pleasantly surprised, Sweet P did it again. I found two awesome sweet rolls from 85degreesC with an even sweeter note on my desk this morning:

My initial instinct was to save both for later but I became very, very weak after the sweet scent of the taro roll.

Yes, I ate the whole thing.

Well no sweet deed goes unpunished. I gave her the Hipstamatic for her iPhone. Ha, that'll show her.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

FIFA World Cup 2010 - Trying to get on board

Not being raised a sports fan and this being the USA, I've had very little exposure to professional soccer, or football, as everyone but the USA calls it.

But given the huge international inclusion of it and the significance of South Africa as host--I'm trying to get on board with the FIFA World Cup this year.

First off, I do give major props to these players. No doubt about it, they are Athletes, with capital A. Bodies carved from relentlessly chasing a ball for 90 minutes on a huge field and the stamina and endurance to do so demand respect. Apparently it's not uncommon for a lot of these players to run 3-7 miles in a single game. Wow.

Second, I get the "accessibility" of the sport that all the current articles remind me of--all you need is something to kick (ideally round) and a goal. Players from all walks of life can participate and international football has garnered some of the best rags-to-riches stories out there.

And finally, as the World Cup happens only once every 4 years, it's EPIC. Qualifying for the World Cup is a huge feat in itself and then the World Cup takes place over FOUR WEEKS. It's like the Olympics but it's all about football. I love the pageantry as they enter the field and the adorable South African children that escort and stand by teams from all over the world--a grounded moment of touching sweetness before they all scramble on the field for an hour and a half.

Now here is what I'm struggling with:

First, I've watched bits of a few games and it appears to be a very low-scoring sport. Or amazingly, sometimes no-scoring. I saw a lot of the Argentina/Nigeria matchup on Saturday, which featured one of the most lauded players: Lionel Messi (playing for Argentina). You know what the score was? 1-0, Argentina. Holy cow. This means during 90 minutes (yes, an hour and a half) of playing, only one goal was scored. I kind of get that it's indicative of a great game between two top dogs, but yeesh, it's like trying to sneeze for 90 minutes. Now I get why that infamous sportscaster screams "GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAALLLLL!" like a man who waited for his wedding night after a very long engagement. No wonder there are riots at these games--that's pretty much an hour and half of pent-up tension. And now I understand why some of these goal-scorers cry after finally getting the ball between the posts.

Second, the noise. I've watched football americano on tv and even attended a few games in the stadium but the constant buzzing horn noise during these games is insane. It's like there are bees inside my brain when I watch a game with the sound on. Someone told me that the horn noise is specific to this World Cup, but either way, it makes it hard for me to stay tuned in. I need to hear that noise like I need to hear the phrase "Bros before Hos" or "You got it, Bro-chacho". And by that I mean, I don't ever want to hear it.

And finally, I struggle with the nationalism of these games. I know this is not exclusive to the World Cup and I understand it is a HUGE deal to be representing your country in such high achievement in sport and skill. The brawling at regular games is bad enough--and yes, I know such poor fan behavior is not uncommon in many American pro sports--but when a Columbian football player is shot down in broad daylight for accidentally getting in a goal for the other team, I question if such representation goes too far. Or when the Iraqi football team said that Saddam Hussein's son-in-law used to have them tortured after bad games, I would definitely such representation goes too far when such punishment is state-sanctioned. So as I watched the PRK (North Korean) team play against #1 Brazil this afternoon, I couldn't help but root for them, if mostly out of pity that a decent game wouldn't get their food rations cut off or hopefully buy some time out of the coal mines. Thankfully, though they didn't win, they at least scored a goal in their 2-1 loss. Please tell me that at least their family got their rice ration today.

Anyhoo, I'm giving it a go. I've got a friend at work who is schooling me in strategy and standing in these games. Now if I can actually get up early enough to watch some of these games--games play at 4:30am, 7:00am, and 11:30am here on the left coast.

Let's go World.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Kia Soul - The Choice is Yours

They played this commercial during the previews for The Karate Kid on Saturday:

And after I stopped laughing, I'm pretty sure I'm driving the cardboard box and need to get a Kia Soul.


Well this day felt much more productive. I purged and donated a carload stuff off to GoodWill. I crossed a few more items off my list but it still seems to have made only a tiny dent...

I started running out of gas by 10 tonight, doing laundry and going through my bathroom drawers:

I was briefly sidetracked when I found some lipstick and "detoxifying" masks I totally forgot about as I pondered how to sort the stuff...

I eventually got my bathroom drawers sorted out and hey--another New Year's Resolution down-3 to go!

And I certainly hope I can have more productive days like this--with or without the detoxifying mask and new lipstick...

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Side-tracked/The Karate Kid (2010)

Unfortunately, my good intentions have been thwarted by distractions. Last night, I started sorting out old magazines and ended up doing the crosswords in them while eating stacks of Oreos:

This morning I did accomplish cleaning the floors but then I took the girl and her friend to see a movie:

We discussed:

Though the movie felt long (which it is, clocking in over 2 hours), I have to say Jackie Chan totally redeemed himself for the turd that was "The Spy Next Door". His character's revealing fight scene totally reminded me of classic Hong Kong Jackie Chan. And I have to say that it was nice change to see Chan in a more dramatic, less clownish role--I can't say I missed the goofy mugging that normally comes with his movies and I definitely didn't miss the awkward romantic scenes from "The Spy Next Door". It was a moving moment when he reveals his character's big loss and young Jaden Smith was a nice foil for him. There were moments clearly meant to parallel the original Karate Kid--some worked (e.g., Chan's Mr. Han's sad confessional) and some seemed more forced and awkward--e.g., the "updated" version of the famous "Wax on, Wax off" is now a long version of "hang up your jacket". Oh and the new Karate Kid, Jaden Smith? I'm sure we'll be seeing more of him.

Then back to house for a little Wii time. The girl demonstrated Big Game Hunter 2010:

And her friend quickly picked it up:

To cap off the day--UFC 115 at Buffalo Wild Wings with a friend and fellow fan, Mr. F:

Can you believe Cro Cop is only 35? Don't worry, despite the screen behind me--he won. He's not the same devastating kicker from his Pride days, but tonight he was trying new things (yes, he threw out a couple of side kicks) and got submission of the night. The glaring white elephant in the room is the caliber/experience of his recent winning match-ups: Pat Barry was incredibly effusive to be in the ring with him, smiling and high-fiving often and was thisshort of squealing "I'm in the ring with Cro Cop!" He eventually gassed out--in the choking arms of Cro Cop--the final vignette featuring an exhausted, splay-legged Cro Cop appearing to have just rescued a drowning Pat Barry.

The big fight of course was Rich Franklin's KO of Chuck Liddell with a short right, after Liddell had broken Franklin's left arm with one of his famous kicks. Shoot, poor Chuck Liddell. I'm sure that's not how he pictured his last fight, which sadly, this probably was.

Overall the card was great--did not expect Martin Kampmann (does anyone else thinks he looks like a young Dolph Lundgren) to beat Paulo Thiago and the first fight between Carolos Condit and Rory MacDonald was exciting from start to decisive end.

Now, I'm sure to have a productive day tomorrow...

Friday, June 11, 2010

Preparing for the weekend

Please, please, please let some of this stuff soak into my brain and body and do stuff this weekend.


Well today was better than yesterday, though it did start with this:

(Yes, that's a dead fly sinking in my coffee. God grant me the dignity that I noticed this before I drank from the mug.)

I managed to get some things done afterwork, including a bit of purging and replacing a broken microwave with a working one:

Which included pulling out the behemoth old one out:

And wha-la!

Perfect fit.

Man I hope I can continue getting things done this weekend...

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Herr Franziskaner

Herr Franziskaner, please make tomorrow a better day.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Mike Stilkey Show

Last night, the girl and I checked out the new Mike Stilkey installation, which also happened to be the inaugural exhibition of the new Hurley )( Space Gallery here in Costa Mesa.

Currently his work are book sculptures, where he takes unwanted/unused books and creates some art with it:

Incorporating upcycled materials speaks to me--I love it:

The exhibit included two huge pieces, totaling 5000 books:

I was surprised/impressed by some of the books donated to the project. Can you believe someone gave away the hardback to V.C. Andrews' "Flowers in the Attic"? That was a classic during my adolescent years.

I was glad the girl was inspired by the art too:

With all the inspiration these last couple of weeks, kind of makes me want to make something...