Monday, August 30, 2004 · posted at 10:54 AM
The Four-Star Follies

Still, there's been a steady critical gradeflation - what could even be called four-star fever - that makes me uncomfortable when I page theough the entertainment section of The New York Times... What's wrong with saying that the rest (with the exception of the odious Van Helsing, which did have the salubrious effect of making even Catwoman look good) are perfectly acceptable summer time-passers and let it go at that?
      - Stephen King, Entertainment Weekly.

I've never read a Stephen King book, but damn I like what he's saying. Critics are so quick to jump on the Tony the Tiger wagon and scream "It's grrrrreeat!" as they parade through movie reviews in newspapers, magazines, tv shows, commercials, and sound bites. Anything that doesn't cause you to hurl your $7 popcorn at the screen is labeled a cinematic masterpiece that's Oscar worthy.

Come on. Maybe I don't know statistics, but to say that 80% of the summer blockbusters were more than light summer fare for the beachgoer seeking air conditioning is presposterous.

As a staunch critic of Spider-Man 2, I felt so vindicated to see Stephen King, in his "The Pop of King" column, write: Spider-Man 2 really a four-star movie? I love Sam Raimi's work, but I wince at the idea od putting this movie in the same cirtical category as The Godfather and Unforgiven. Sure, I love those dizzying shots of Spidey swinging through the steel canyons of the city. Of course I loved Doc Ock clomping his way up the side of a skyscraper (while not believing the narrative source of those tentacles in the slightest). But let's be real. The emotional care of this story is a girl who's in a snit because her boyfriend keeps missing her play.

Makes me think about picking up one of King's books instead of sitting through another 90-minute mediocre movie given rave reviews.

Saturday, August 28, 2004 · posted at 2:42 AM
The new Jason Mraz DVD is porn - without the necessity of a black plastic bag.

Thursday, August 26, 2004 · posted at 1:28 AM
The bad beginning and the slippery slope. Contrary to my daily two hour long whine fests, the trip to NYC was fantastic. I wouldn't have changed a single thing – not the rain at the Empire State Building, the partial view tickets to "The Producers," or the onion-flavored cheesecake. Oh, except maybe to skip the barbeque joint with pickled vegetables and get dressed up for Nobu.

There were way too many inside jokes and "you had to have been there" stories (although if you're truly interested, I have a Power Point Presentation) so I'll just recap some highlights:

Red-eye flights. We decided to book red-eye flights because it's cheap and we're post-graduates… and we're Asian. Why are these flights that leave late and come in early called red-eye? Let me take a stab and say that it's because you walk around with red-eyes the rest of the day.

My flight left at 9pm and arrived at 5am (2am PT). That's a total flight time of 5 hours. But it's actually only 3 hours to sleep because the in-flight movie is something you want to see but never got to (Shrek 2, Mean Girls) or want to see but wouldn't actually spend $10 on (13 Going on 30).

Also, there is NO way to get into a comfortable sleeping position. Although my flight was half empty, and many people were allowed the luxury of having three seats to themselves, I held back and didn't push down women and children (I just pushed down the women) in the clamor for the empty seats and thus ended up sitting in a full row. I also sat in front of a long-legged man, and spent three quarters of the flight wondering why my seat didn't recline. I'm sure the flight was a joy for him as well.

As evidence of how desperate one gets, at one point I even tried putting my legs up onto the tray table. People eat on that thing! In short, red-eye flights can be insanely uncomfortable.

Note: If you are ever taking a red eye, don't sit in the aisle seat. Though in theory it's nice to have empty space beside you to avoid that oh-so-claustrophobic feeling of sitting window or middle, sitting in the aisle seat affords you no support system. There is nothing to lean on – save the stranger next to you. Also, people who are hightailing it to the bathroom often mistake your head as a railing for themselves to brace themselves. I felt like I was back in 2nd grade playing duck duck goose! You also run the risk of decapitation by beverage cart.

Hot waiters. New York was a bust as far as cute guys walking down the street, but there were some mighty fine specimens working the restaurant scene.

The Republic, touted by Jon as having a tasty coconut shrimp appetizer and "sometimes hot ass (male) waiters," certainly met both expectations. Half of dinner was spent playing a rousing game of "Is he gay?" for one of the hot ass male waiters using the following clues:
  1. Hot
  2. Shirt tucked in a little too much
  3. One rolled up t-shirt sleeve
  4. Sang along to J. Timberlake’s "Cry Me a River" – including the falsetto "I found out from him" line
At Penang SoHo, cute server Kevin declined a lunch invitation but accepted a request to pose prom style with Kat in front of a waterfall.

Later, a Cute Café Guy worked the espresso machines at Housing Works Used Book Café. I wonder how "Excuse me, but there’s a rat running around" works as an opening pick-up line.

Thin walls. Our hotel, the Will Wogers was cute – even if the décor was a mix of Asian inspired, contemporary and flea market chic and they stopped serving breakfast and providing hot water without any notification to the patrons. The thin walls, however, proved to be no match for the noises from surrounding neighbors. Luckily we didn't hear "A Night in Paris" next door, but we were awakened one morning to a domestic (is it still called domestic if it's in a hotel away from home?) argument that contained screaming, expletives, and a very suspicious thump against the wall that made us question if we’d be witnesses to the next Laci Peterson/Lori Hacking case.

Crazy driver. It's not news that New York is home to the most insane driving – but I thought that that kind of white knuckle, heart racing, prayer-inducing ride was limited to taxi cabs only. For the ride to the hotel, our doorman (a different one than the one who advised us against an umbrella the day we got drenched with remnants of Charley) called us a car service. How excited were we to ride around in a black Town Car? And how quickly did that diminish!

Signs your drive is going to suck:
  • The Town Car makes its grand entrance in front of your hotel – with one tire up on the sidewalk.
  • The dress code for the driver appears to be curlers and a house coat.
  • There's a whole lot of personal junk in the trunk of the car.
  • The windows are open all the way to mask the driver’s emphysema-like wheezing.
  • Your nostrils are growing icicles.
  • The driver has a conversation with the radio.
  • You see the driver’s arm fishing for tapes scattered across the floor of the passenger seat - while the car is in motion.
  • You're feeling sharp shooting pains in your shoulder.
  • The car has to physically stop at the toll road because the driver doesn’t have an ExpressLane card.
  • There's rubbernecking at an accident site, and your driver is contributing to it and almost causing several other accidents.
  • You've decided you've found religion and start praying at hyperspeed.
  • The driver purposefully doesn't let others merge into the lane, yet tries to force merging into others lanes – cutting them off.
  • A cab driver calls the driver a "stupid bitch."
  • The driver yells "stupido negro!" out the window.
  • You start writing which loved ones will get what possessions on the back of a receipt.
  • The driver demands more monetary tip when you think all she deserves is the verbal tip to "f*** off."

But after all is said and done… New York again, anyone?

Friday, August 20, 2004 · posted at 1:26 PM
Where there's a Will, there's a way. Last night, Will, the fashionable, endearing witty nurse with the southern drawl, was evicted from the Big Brother house.

The evil Adria put Will up for eviction, breaking an alliance and citing technicality (she made a pinky swear with the girls – not Will) for the second time (the first time being that she didn’t promise Jase and Scott her support – her twin did). In a triple burn, Adria not only nominated Will for eviction, she denied him the use of the Power of Veto, AND cast the tiebreaker vote to boot him out right to his face. Her reasoning? Will didn't approach her to plead his case. Translation: Will didn’t kiss her ass.

No more cheerful polo shirts, no more slightly mussed but precisely styled hair, no more great one liners from the man who brought you:
  • "It's hard to talk to Jase because all you can see are his huge watering armpit stains."

  • "Nurses don’t do yokes." [on carrying buckets on his shoulders for a food competition]

  • "There’s nothing Drew can do that would make him les attractive. He could be doing his laundry and he’s still sexy."

  • "Jase is about as erotic as a wet t-shirt contest in a nursing home."

Sigh. I guess Big Brother 5 has officially become Drew Watch 2004.

Friday, August 13, 2004 · posted at 9:27 PM
Bird's nest. I just got my hair cut for the first time in over a year. This isn't counting any kind of trim or split-end finding mission (which is often done sitting in my car in traffic or at my desk in the office) – I'm talking about the full-on $100+ haircut and color that starts with one of those feel good head massages/shampoos and ends with a relentless push to make a $100+ purchase of hair products.

Anyone who's seen, touched, or heard (the crinkle-crinkle of my crispy ends rubbing together) my hair knows that I was way overdue for a hair treatment. Aside from the tight grasp of my purse strings when it comes to beauty treatments such as manicures, pedicures and makeup – what was stopping me from this much needed service?

In my health promotion class, we learned that disease prevention programs (such as mammograms to screen for breast cancer, daily flossing to prevent cavity and tooth decay) can be really difficult to implement. One of the reasons is because people know they haven't been doing what they should and don't attend appointments or screenings because they fear the judgment of those in an authority position.

To me, going to the stylist isn't much different from going to the dentist or doctor. I know I should… but I really dread it. In the same way people fear the doctor in the white coat asking about their exercise habits or dietary intake, I fear the stylist in Diesel jeans asking these inevitable questions:

When was the last time you got your hair cut?
This is one of those self-perpetuating problems because the longer I go without getting my hair cut, the more I don't want to go get a haircut.

Who's your regular stylist?
Umm, my sister after 5 shots of vodka? This is a tricky question because I want to lie and say "Jen at dearinger" or "Vince at Robert Cromean" or just the generic "someone back home" but I feel like the hair community is small and stylists, like doctors and dentists, have a network and know that there is no Jen from dearinger or Vince from Robert Cromean.

What's your daily hair regimen?>
Hair is supposed to have a regimen? Truth be told, I don't even brush my hair every day. This used to be acceptable when it was short… no so much when it's long to the point where I can chew on the ends (also something I will not be disclosing).

What kind of products do you use?
I suppose the answer they're looking for is NOT "whatever is on sale at Target." George Michael conditioner?

What would you like today?
A crew cut? A bouffant? My mom's patented bowl cut bangs? Most likely I'm here because I don't know what to do with my hair anymore.

But there's no way to avoid that conversation – especially with a new stylist, and the need to cute-ify my hair finally won out over the potential and almost certain mortification…

Let me tell ya, I feel more comfortable at the gynecologist than the stylist - at least you're not expected to make small talk with your feet up in metal stirrups.

A thought occurred to me as I heard the nth mention by the stylists of this nightmare 7 hour Japanese hair straightening procedure on this woman who had the kinkiest hair ever - what do they say once you've left the seat?

We all know we share hilarious work stories with friends or family – the stories of computer illiterate people who "reboot" their computer by turning the monitor on and off, or the idiot who hit the intercom button during a trash-talking conversation about the boss. I know I've started many a story with, "I babysat the craziest kid today" and proceed to talk about details no one would want attached to their name.

I can imagine the happy hour fodder right now: "This girl came in looking like the before picture for a Frizz-ease ad." "Her hair was so dry it made the Sahara desert look tropical." "That color was not one God ever intended for this earth."


And of course, for me, no visit to the salon is complete without the "this is the reason I'm never coming back again" moment. This could be because of a horrible haircut or something really, really, embarrassing (which, with me, is most often the case).

The stylist was blow drying my hair with high heat for the longest time in order to achieve that flipped out look that would last for 6 seconds before I put my hair back in a ponytail. I was wearing a thin dark t-shirt and when I finally got up and removed the hair smock, aka the heat blanket, my shirt was all wrinkled and had little sweat streaks running along my back. I know because the salon had mirrors – lots and lots of mirrors. In fact, they're even facing each other, so that you can look into one and just see a whole line, a whole army even, of sweat streaked shirts.

So in answer to the earlier question of What would you like today?… To curl up in a ball of shame and embarrassment

Wednesday, August 11, 2004 · posted at 2:09 AM
One in a trillion.
… if everyone in the world was tossing coins eventually someone would get 5,698 heads in a row and they would think they were very special. But they wouldn’t be because there would be millions of people who didn’t get 5,698 heads.

      - The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, Mark Haddon

I've taken two statistics classes, run a handful of my own research projects and sat in (cluelessly) on countless meetings to discuss p values, confidence intervals and survival analyses. I can tell you what a Type I error is (rejecting the null hypothesis when it is true) and a Type II error is (accepting the null hypothesis when it is false) but I remember the Kolmogorov-Smirnov test only as the "Vodka Test." Give me a bunch of numbers and probabilities and I will have no clue what they mean or what to do with them.

But the main thing holding me back from being a grand statistician (besides about half a pound of grey matter) is the lack of objective logical-mindedness. I can’t detach myself and look at only numbers.

In statistics, you're not supposed to get excited about an event unless it's "statistically significant," meaning that's it's not what you would expect from chance.

If you won the lottery tomorrow, would you think, "Someone had to win it and I had a 1 in 1,533,939 chance of doing so." Or would you think, "Hot damn, I’m never washing this pair of underwear again!"

So if something really unlikely happened – like, your Gucci heel happened to get caught in a manhole cover and a cab driver drops his ice cream and sideswipes a dumpster that starts careening straight for you… Can you really just write off that it's completely without higher meaning or significance? That this kind of thing happens 1 of 1,370,000 occurrences, or 9,500,000,000 occurrences, or 100^100 occurrences... and you just happen to be the 1?

Saturday, August 07, 2004 · posted at 10:03 PM
Appalling mating practices. I can't believe the gall that some guys have. At times I think it's admirable that a guy faces his fears of rejection and humiliation and talks to a girl he is interested in – other times I think it's extremely despicable that a guy has no shame and will hit on anything in a skirt or wearing lipstick, no matter the situation.

I was waiting in line at the store. I am notoriously bad at picking lines. There will be a few lines to pick from and I will always pick the slower one, the one with the rude cashier or the rookie cashier, the one with the person who wants to use 36 coupons and 4 different payment options, the one with the customer who just can't seem to fill out the personal check correctly. Sometimes, even if midline I pull "the switch" and go to another line, that line will become sluggish due to one of the aforementioned scenarios. I have pretty much resigned myself to the fact that I will spend at least 3% of my life waiting – which is not horrible considering what the hell else would I do with my time.

There was a girl in front of me, probably college age (though this is questionable due to elaborate crow’s feet), with her 80 year-old grandmother. The cashier, a greasy-looking lip licker with a ponytail immediately started ogling the girl in all her peroxided glory.

"You’re irresistible," he said. I kid you not. With Granny standing right there! This guy is trying to holla at this girl in front of her grandmother! He was probably banking on the fact that Granny couldn’t hear and subsequently beat him with her purse.

"Oh, thank you," Crow’s Feet replied.
"Really, you are mmm mmm mmm," goes Greasy.
"Thanks. I think I’ve seen you here before," CF says.

Greasy holds out his hand. "I’m Greasy."
"Hi. I’m Courtney/Brittany/Heather."

Excuse me, did you guys just shake hands over a box of Summer’s Eve??

"So what do you like to do for fun?" asks Greasy.
"Go out clubbing, drinking," replies Courtney/Brittany/Heather.

At this point I can't decide who is more heinous. Are you seriously trying to flirt during a transaction of private products, including but not limited to ob tampons and yeast infection cream? I mean… anything with the word "Vagi-" (e.g. Vagisil, Vagistat) should just be an automatic anaphrodisiac.

And why even waste your breath doing the whole dance? What could possibly come from it? A wild night clubbing that culminates in Granny paging her at midnight to come change her Depends? The necessity of even more feminine hygiene products for irritability and burning down the line? Oh wait, no… true love and a solid relationship where you can proudly tell your family and friends the romantic story of how you met over an itch that just wouldn’t quit?

Shudder. Call me cynical, picky, or just easily disgusted. But if I ever answer a guy’s advances while standing over my feminine hygiene purchases… assuredly I have hit rock bottom.

Although I guess it could have been worse… he could have hit on Granny too.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004 · posted at 9:29 PM
Left on the pedestal. Every week I peruse the Target sale ad to see what those crazy designers Todd Oldham, Michael Graves, Cynthia Rowley and Isaac Mizrahi are up to now. Something that's disturbed me recently, however, is that there is always a sale on DVDs. Rock bottom prices like "2 for $15" and "2 for $20."

I have a problem with this. Why? I'm Chinese… I should be ecstatic! It's not even that I paid more for them, although the "I just washed my car and then it rained" syndrome can be a bummer. It's just… I think these movies are good and don't understand why they're at such bargain bin prices. You get what you pay for... and a $7.50 movie is seafood-flavored ramen, not fettuccine with lobster and shrimp. How is one to measure worth and value if not with a monetary value?

Recent disappointments (see Spider-Man 2 review) and experiences (see X2 entry) have led me to question my movie preferences.

Does Wing Commander move me? Does Waterworld speak volumes to me? Is Armageddon really on my Top 5 list?

I don't see anything wrong with having shelves of movies such as Never Been Kissed, Ever After, Bridget Jones’ Diary, Sleepless in Seattle, While You Were Sleeping, 10 Things I Hate About You, and any movie with the word "wedding" in the title (e.g Wedding Singer, Wedding Planner). I'm a sucker for the cheesy romantic comedy. These are not "chipper chicken" movies demoted to "Value" status. I’d like to think that these movies are so good that they are popular and mass produced to the point where there remains excess amounts that can be sold at factory cost (or below). But I think it's time to face the grim reality that I like shelves of chick flicks to go along with my shelves of chick lit.

Some abhor these cheesy happy endings. Mostly they are guys afraid of the high standards set by cinematic Prince Charmings and Mr. Rights, or feel their masculinity is threatened by admittance that The Cutting Edge is a damn good movie. There are a few women who claim romantic comedies are "ungood for the soul" because they create a false sense of reality and trick the audience into thinking It Could Happen to You (which I have on laserdisc).

"Isn’t that so cute?" we ask. We chime "Awwwww" and "How sweet" … but is it really? Is that really the reaction you would have if indeed, it DID happen to you?

"Why don’t you even do that?" a girl might ask of her boyfriend about filling a room full of lavender roses. The honest reason? Because you would freak out if you walked into a room filled with roses!

Time to be real. How would you feel if you found out a high school peer took pictures not just OF you, but WITH you… WITHOUT you knowing it. Sorry Lloyd Dobbler, but that's the kind of thing that sends shivers up a girl's spine – and not the good kind.

If someone really responded to every request with "As you wish" would you say "He loves me!" or would you think "Sissy boy! Stand up for yourself for once!"

A guy you've barely spoken to all four years of high school writes you a love letter after graduation. He's leaving town the next day. Do you a) meet him at the train station for a goodbye smooch or b) breathe a sigh of relief that you will be miles apart?

Tv shows, due to time allowances and story development, are much better at showing the realistic side of romance. Ben admits that Felicity moving from California to New York didn't really flatter him as much as scare him. Laura Winslow finds her neighbor Urkel's acts of unrequited love annoying rather than endearing. Sam Weir finally hooks up with object of his desire, cheerleader Cindy Saunders, only to discover they can't be soulmates – she doesn’t like Steve Martin’s The Jerk.

In real life, you never want to feign appreciation for a glass rose. Mortification is being serenaded at a ritzy waterfront restaurant in Seattle. Awkwardness is sitting through a 4 minute song with lyrics like "you smell like Plumeria." Someone says, "I was born to kiss you," you reply, "Thaaaanks."

We want to watch Hollywood kisses and destined lovers on the silver screen at a safe comfortable distance… we don't want to be confronted with real life Romeos knocking on our doors… and knocking… and knocking.

Romantic comedies DO create a false sense of reality, but it's not that this stuff is supposed to happen. The false reality is that you want it to happen.

You think you want the crème brulee… but what you really want is the Jell-O.

Monday, August 02, 2004 · posted at 1:45 AM
Curtain call. Today was the last day of production for Justin's movie. I won’t miss the sketchy audition studios, the stuffy questionably health-inspected restaurant, or the fear the Director of Photography always seems to command, but I will miss the novelty of "the biz" and the smiles and waves from the director/producer/actor/writer to the sidelines.

Due to a paucity of extras, Banshee and I were in a multitude of scenes. However, airbrushing can only do so much and I fear the final product. Let's just hope they were far-aways rather than close-ups… for everyone’s sake.

Noteworthy and not-so-noteworthy observations:

Walking is much harder than it looks when there's a camera on you, you have about 5 inches to squeeze yourself into a chair and there are awkward table legs that keep meeting your size 7 shoes.

The cover for the menu of Eggs Etc. mentions that the restaurant owner emigrated from Taiwan and was taught by her American mother-in-law how to make good home cooking. What?? The best breakfast is yo tiao with sweet soy milk!

Extras utilize craft services more than the hardworking crew because the crew is always working hard and don't have time to cut themselves pieces of bread…or wash grapes, apparently.

I wore the same clothes in 3 different scenes (all set on different days). My role will be “Girl who doesn’t change her clothes and probably smells.”

I'm in the same scene twice, but in different places. In one camera angle, I'm on the outside patio when Justin and "Tori" are inside the restaurant talking. You can see me through the window getting attacked by the pink and blue balloons. Thanks Jose. In the other camera angle, you can see me through the side window walking out the front door with Karen. Hopefully editing will make it so I'm not also "Girl who defies laws of physics."

Any time there is a camera, you will inevitably grow a zit in a highly visible locale on your face.

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