Friday, July 31, 2009

Someone Stop Christian Audigier!

I'm a believer in sticking with what you're good at: It's why Michael Jordan should have stuck to playing basketball instead of baseball, and being retired and playing golf instead of trying to be a general manager; it's why Scarlett Johansson should stick to acting and not singing; it's why Paris Hilton should stick to being rich and not acting; AND it's why Ed Hardy should stick to tattoos and not anything else.

Now don't get me wrong- Ed Hardy is a good artist and I can see why people originally would have wanted his work on their bodies. I first saw his artwork a few years ago and I was really impressed. Then I started seeing it more... and more...and more. Soon it was on t-shirts and it was pretty much the beginning of the end from there. In 2004, Christian Audigier started producing clothing for Ed Hardy and that was around the time that it got old for me. Now, you can find Ed Hardy products literally everywhere you look. It's not just shirts anymore. Now, you can find Ed Hardy jeans, sandals, rhinestone cell phone covers, belts, scarves, sunglasses, perfume, shoes, and pretty much anything else you could imagine on any street corner in America. I was already convinced that Audigier had taken the trend too far when I found an Ed Hardy bottle of wine at Whole Foods. I can't remember ever seeing a trend that went so overboard. Wine? Are we really supposed to believe that a wine with Ed Hardy's name on it is going to be good? Someone needs to get Christian Audigier to stop. I can't even think of what's going to be next. An Ed Hardy professional sports team? Ed Hardy Hemorrhoid Cream? At this point, nothing would surprise me.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Crazy of Love

I don't watch much television. When I do, I try to keep it to Sportscenter or games that I really care about. However, sometimes I wander off and end up watching things that I regret immediately, namely reality TV. I remember when reality TV was first coming out. "Survivor" was the first one I can remember other than all of The Real World shows. Survivor was a cool idea and I didn't watch much of it, but I could get the appeal. Then a bunch of new shows came out; some good and some bad. As more and more came out, I kept thinking that reality shows were just a phase. There was no way that people could keep getting entertained by something so idiotic. I was wrong though, and soon we moved into the unfortunate phase of reality dating shows. This probably started with shows like "Blind Date," and then moved into the "Elimidate" and "Next" age. Eventually came "Flavor of Love," and it was all downhill from there. Soon we moved into the age of "Rock of Love," and I'm sorry to say it's only getting worse.

Lately, my girlfriend and I have been watching a newer show called "Daisy of Love." The girl, Daisy de la Hoya (yes, she's related to Oscar) was previously on "Rock of Love," and apparently, the producers loved her so much, they decided she needed her own show. While watching, I'm constanly asking myself a few questions:

1: Who's voice does her voice remind me of? - I still don't know! Every time, I spend the first half of the show trying to answer this question. The closest thing I can think of is that it's kind of like listening to Fran Drescher's voice on helium and then put inside a girl who's IQ is comparable to a dish sponge.

2: How does a guy who's name is "Sinister" make it past the first episode? - This may have something to do with the whole IQ thing. Or it may have something to do with the fact that the other choices have names like "12 Pack," "Torch," and "Dropout." Ouch.

3: Why am I still watching this? - Ummmmmm....

That's the thing about reality television. You never know why you're watching it, but you know you're strangely entertained. 5 years ago, I doubt that a show that's about a girl who has more plastic than a life size Barbie doll sorting through 20 tools to find a boyfriend would have sold. But now, people need to be shocked by their television, and it's taking more and more to shock them. Sure, shows like "Blind Date" had their place at the time, but compared to "Daisy of Love," "Blind Date" looks more tame than my de-clawed cat. What scares me is that now it seems like reality shows AREN'T going anywhere anytime soon. If we've moved from shows like "Blind Date" to shows like "Daisy of Love" in such a short time period, I am more than a little terrified of what is going to come next. So stay tuned and brace yourself.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Coolest Man in Movies

The other night, I watched a movie that I was probably more excited for than any other movie that came out last year: Gran Torino. The reason: Clint Eastwood. The man is what, 80? 113? But he still makes killer movies. He proclaimed that this movie would be his last acting role, so I knew I had to see it.

To start, I should say that I probably have more respect for Clint Eastwood than any other actor in Hollywood. The man has a resume that is tough to top and he is truly a Renaissance man. Don't believe me? Look at what he did for Gran Torino: Not only was he the lead actor, but he directed and produced the movie as well as co-wrote and sang in the theme song for the movie (which was nominated for Best Song in this year's Golden Globes). He also directed the movie Changeling last year and wrote the score for that film. The man does it all and does it well.

So what was the final verdict on the film? The truth is, I'm still trying to figure the answer to that out myself. I do know one thing though: Clint Eastwood was amazing. The main problem for me was that he didn't have much surrounding him in the way of acting or, for that matter, a script. He had some amazing lines, but a lot of the other actors got screwed with lines that I doubt anyone could make sound normal in their circumstances. There were a few scenes that made my girlfriend and I look at each other like: Did that really just happen? And not in a- That was awesome! Did that just happen??? way. Despite the awkward moments and acting around him, Eastwood's performance makes the movie worth watching. He speaks each line with a growl that simply cannot be topped. It's epic. I would love to be able to growl like that. Somehow, he always manages to land some great lines and this film doesn't disappoint. When he shoulders a shotgun at a young punk and growls: "Get off my lawn!" I got chills. At another point of the movie, he's confronting another punk and says: "Ever notice how you come across somebody once in a while you shouldn't have fucked with? That's me." What other actor can you think of who, at nearly 80 years old, could say that line and completely convince you? Can you see Tom Cruise pulling that off when he's 80? Jake Gyllenhaal? Vin Diesel? I don't think so. Clint Eastwood is in a class of coolness of his own, and if you're not convinced, watch Gran Torino.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Curse

The other day, I went to my first Dodger game of the season. I had a really great time, but when I got the tickets, I forgot about one important thing: The Curse.

In case you don't follow baseball, the Dodgers are having one of their best years ever so far. They have the best record in baseball and they show no signs of slowing down. Even with (arguably) their best player, Manny Ramirez, suspended for 50 games for steroid use, they continued to play strong and with him back, they look poised to make a run at the World Series. Going into Friday's game, they were even riding a 5 game winning streak. So basically what I'm saying is that I should have know better than to go to the game. You see, statistically, the Dodgers lose 90% of games that I attend.

My girlfriend and I were late getting to the game, so we strolled in around the 4th inning (I should note at this point that usually when I am late to a game, the Dodgers are down by multiple runs and the starting pitcher is fuming on the bench next to a cooler of Gatorade he has smashed with either his fist or the nearest bat). I cringed a little as we found our seats and looked at the score: Dodgers:1, Marlins: 0. Whaaaaaat? Maybe this really is their year. However, shortly after we took our seats, the Marlins made a charge and went up 3-1. To my shock, the Dodgers came right back, and tied the game at 3. Around the 7th inning, something happened that I have learned to accept through the years. Though I can't know for sure exactly what transpires each time, I imagine it to go a little something like this:

Joe Torre (the Dodgers manager) signals to home umpire that he wants to come out to talk to the pitcher and heads to the mound, looking into the outfield as he walks out. The pitcher is looking at him, confused.

Torre: Look, I know that you're pitching well, but did you see who's in section 313 tonight?

Pitcher (looks out at the bleachers. A look of disbelief comes over his face): Seriously? Doesn't he know we're trying to make the playoffs here?

Torre (shaking his head): I guess not.

Pitcher and manger sit in silence for a few seconds

Pitcher (looking up): Listen, I know the drill, but do you think maybe, just once, we could do things a little differently? I mean, my ERA is down below 2 for the first time in my career.

Torre: I'm sorry, there's just a way things are done when this guy shows up.

Pitcher looks at his feet and kicks some dirt, looking dejected.

Torre: Tell you what, Washington is coming into town in a few weeks. I'll play you a minimum of 2 innings a game when they're in town. Your ERA will be back down in no time. I'll even take you out for a Shirley Temple after the game. Deal?

Pitcher (smiling): Deal

Torre: Good. This guy likes high fastballs.

(Torre hands the pitcher the ball)

Torre (starting to walk back to the dugout): Serve it up!

Pitcher: Wait...what if he comes to the games against Washington?

Torre (stopping in his tracks and turning slowly): Then God help us.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Save the Pandas!

I really really don't like SUVs. I think the habit was ingrained in me by my mom. I don't think my mom would ever get behind the wheel of one unless someone put a gun to her head and told her to drive one. When I was little, my mom would always complain about them (how big they were, how much gas they guzzled, etc.). As I've grown older though, I've realized that she wasn't just being a weird mom. There's something about SUVs that I really don't like, and it doesn't have anything to do with their ridiculous size or their unconscionably bad gas mileage. In fact, I'll even take foreign SUVs out of the equation (I still hate them, just not as much). I save my utmost dislike for American SUVs, and here's where it starts: the name.

When I was in Europe a few years ago, I caught sight of one of the smallest SUVs I've ever seen. Having seen all the small cars in Europe, I guess I shouldn't have been surprised, but seeing an SUV in Europe kind of blew me away. I decided to go check it out. When I got closer, I noticed that it really wasn't all that bad. It had all the space that five people could realistically need, and it didn't look like a direct descendant of a World War II tank. I moved around to the back to read the name: Panda. The Panda??? I'm from America: land of intimidating SUV names. My foreign made Civic is used to driving alongside Excursions, Navigators, Armadas, and Titans. Not Pandas. Can you imagine the crap GMC would take if their next SUV was called the Panda?
Then I started thinking about it more. Is there actually a reason that American SUVs have to have intimidating names? Really, what's wrong with a name like the Panda?

The truth is, there's absolutely nothing wrong with a name like the Panda. But for a culture that prides itself on it's bad-ass-ness, naming a car (especially a car as American as an SUV) anything short of "bad-ass" would be admitting defeat to foreign companies. So while I can hope for more Pandas and less Envoys and such, the truth is, I'm more likely to live to see an Apocalypse than a Panda made by an American company on the highway.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sun Turner

Having used one for as long as I can remember, I would have to say I'm a bit of a fan of languages. I think that you can't really appreciate your own language until you try to learn another one. Right now, I'm taking Spanish through UCSD and it is not an easy language. It has really made me appreciate the beauty and adaptability of languages though. When languages don't have a word for something, they tend to have really interesting translations. For example, I'm reading a book in the class called "Los Girasoles Ciegos," or "The Blind Sunflowers."

The word "sunflower" in English is basically nothing more than a description of what that particular thing does: it's a flower that follows the sun. In Spanish, the word "girasol" comes from the verb "girar" which means "to turn," and "sol," which means "sun." Put those together, and again, it's a verbal depiction of what the flower is: "sun turner." As you learn a new language, there are countless words like this that come up, and (at least for me) it makes the process of learning that much more enjoyable.

Saturday, July 18, 2009


I feel really crappy for breaking this nice little run I had going so quickly. I'm not going to have time to make an actual post today. Therefore, I promise two entries tomorrow...and, they'll be quality.

Friday, July 17, 2009

End of the Underdog

If you know anything about golf, you know that throughout the PGA season, there are 4 major championships: The Masters, The US Open, The British Open, and the PGA Championship. To me, it feels like The Masters and the US Open get the most credit. If I could pick one major to win though, it would be the British.

First of all, I have to say that all of the other majors are amazing. Each one has it's perks. If you win The Masters, you get the green jacket, which is probably the coolest piece of clothing in all of sports. If you win the US Open or the PGA, you get the cool trophies, and all the history that goes with them. These are all great and, don't get me wrong, I would gladly take any one of them in an instant. But here's why I love the British:

One: The British is the most unpredictable major. Case in point: Today. Tom Watson, a 59 year old, is winning and Tiger Woods missed the cut. Going in, everyone (including me) was picking Tiger to win. There were stats going around like: In the three British Opens held at Turnberry, (the course where the tournament is being played this year) the number one player at the time has won each one. But here we are going into the weekend, and Tiger Woods is going home.

Two: The British Open is completely un-Americanized. The three other championships are all held in America every year and use this theory: Bigger is better. The British is played in England, Ireland, and Scotland, where the game began. Maybe we should take a tip from them. Every US Open is held on a course that is longer than the last. While yes, it makes for low scores, it effectively takes out over half the field. It's the end of the underdog in golf. Sometimes, there are still unexpected winners, but you had better bet they hit the ball a long ways (like Lucas Glover this year at the US Open). The British Open is tough, not because of how long the courses are, but because you have to play smart golf to win on them. Maybe watching guys hit one irons off of most tees isn't as exciting as watching someone rip a drive 350 yards, but shouldn't there be a place in the game for where it began? Golf began as a thinking man's game, and the British is proof that it still has a place.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

John Leguizamo's Voice...But Worse

Don't ask me why, but lately, I've been thinking a lot about animals. Wild animals that is; not dogs and cats and those annoying little guys from G-Force. All this thinking got me to pondering a very important question: If you could pick any wild animal NOT to be in the next life, what would it be?

Obviously, there are a lot of possible choices. You can go with the "prey" approach. I mean, really, who wants to spend their whole life getting chased by lions and cheetahs? Being an impala would definitely suck.

You could also go with the "dirty jobs" approach. Who would really want to be a dung beetle anyways? Rolling balls of elephant turds around all day sounds like fun and all, but I would probably pass. Or what about a sea cucumber? Well, ok, it might be cool to throw up your stomach to distract predators. Fine, that one's off the list.

Then you could go for the "just plain boring" approach. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that you would be hard pressed to find someone who would want to be a legless lizard or a cane toad.

As for me, the animal I would least like to be would probably be a crow.

For starters, let me go over a few things that crows have going for them. Obviously, they can fly, which is awesome. They also don't have very many predators, which is definitely a plus. Also, they're a major part of Native American mythology, which is definitely a perk. And lastly, they're black, which is sweet because if you were a crow, you could go dive bomb people at night.

Now let me tell you why I would never, ever, ever want to be a crow: the noise they make.

When I was little, I lived in a guest house on my grandparents property. It was a fairly large property that had a huge yard full of old oaks. During the springtime, these little green worms would come down from the trees, suspended by this silky thread they secreted. As soon as those worms came, so did the crows. When we were outside the house, the cawing would be so loud, we could barely hear. Seriously, they couldn't think of a better noise to make? Not only that, but if there's one thing you can say for crows, it's that they know how to project. Their caws are way too loud for an animal that size.

Here's one for you: If you were a female crow, how would you choose your mate? If I was a girl crow, I woudn't be able to take all the cawing. I would probably fly myself into a window faster than the crows in those Windex commercials. Also, can girl crows really tell the difference between caws? My guess is yes. Even though any two caws sound the same to me, I would bet money that to lady crows, some guy crows sound like Barry White and some sound like John Leguizamo.

So, finally, let me refine my previous statement: If I had to pick one animal to NOT be in the next lifetime, it would be a guy crow who the lady crows think sounds like John Leguizamo.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Systematic

A few things: Lately, I've realized that this blog, which I have proclaimed and even named "unsystematic" is becoming more and more "systematic." Since I've been watching a lot of movies the last few weeks, (some good, some bad) my writing has slowly shifted towards reviews and critiques. Well no more, I say. From here on out, there will be unsystematic-ness in this blog! Or at least I'll try. I may throw in a movie review or rehashing every once in a while, but mark my words, I am going to try to get this blog back on track.

Also, I am taking it upon myself to start doing the things that I keep telling myself to do; namely writing and running. In about six weeks, I'm scheduled to run a race in Oregon called the Hood to Coast. It's a 197 mile relay that is run by 12 man teams. That makes the distance I have to run somewhere around 17.5 miles. For a solid 3 months, I have told myself that it's time to start training. I even took a few short runs to start the process. But somehow or another, I keep finding excuses to get out of it. So in the morning, I'm going to start my training. For real.

In fact, today I am going to embark on a mission. I am going to run at least 4 times a week and I am going to try to blog every day until the race. I'm going to apologize ahead of time because I feel like as I near the end, I am bound to start cranking out some truly terrible entries. Maybe they'll involve my cat's bowel movements; maybe they'll involve my secret love for late night MTV. I don't know. But should something like that pop up, I'm sorry. There, I said it. Now let's get this going.

Let this be the beginning of a less systematic blog and a more systematic life.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Curse you, Michael Bay!

You know those bands who are insanely talented, but once they get popular, they feed off the popularity so much that you can tell they feel like putting their name on a song is good enough? The best example I can think of is the recent Green Day song: "Know Your Enemy." The song has a whopping two chords throughout and the lyrical diversity is as sparse as the chords. All I could think of when I heard it was: "Green Day's not even trying anymore." This past weekend, I watched Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, and, summed up, it is "Know Your Enemy" but in film form and stretched into a painful two and a half hours. However, to me, this film is far more sinister than anything Green Day could conjure. Not only did it feel like Michael Bay wasn't even trying to make a good film, I felt like he was taunting me for its entirety.

If you are planning on seeing the movie, let me give you some things to look out for:

One: The movie is a shameless two and a half hour commercial. There are numerous products advertised, ranging from General Motors to LG phones to Dyson Vacuums. However, if you saw the first movie, this is nothing new to you. Remember when the Mountain Dew machine turned into a Decepticon? You remember...
Two: The producers are really hoping you think that Megan Fox is hot, because she's sure not there for her acting.
Three: Neither are the rest of the actors.
Four: Here is what aspiring filmmakers should take away from this movie- Never let something as petty as a storyline get in the way of some good action.
Five: Noise, noise, noise, and more NOISE!!!!!!
The UK version of FHM had one of the best reviews of the movie I've seen:

"It's like watching a blender for two hours while someone shouts at you. And then the last half an hour is the same, except it’s more like having your head strapped to a washing machine while you watch a blender and someone shouts at you."

To me, the film is a bit of an enigma. Somehow, it manages to be a vast exhibition of excess and a pitiful display of minimalism all in one. Granted, the special effects in the movie are amazing. However, with all of those people working hard to make those work, you would think someone would have put in some effort to make the script work.

Here's my theory about the film: Not only was Michael Bay not even trying to make a good film, he was banking on people (like me) seeing the film even after nearly every review told them not to. He knew the reviews were going to be brutal. How could he not? But Bay banked on two things going into this movie. One was the carrying over of the fan base from the first movie. The second was that he seems to think that the American public is mindless enough to be entertained by senseless action and dialogue that could have been penned by fourth graders. The thing that scares me isn't so much that he thinks that way; it's that he might be right.

So maybe it's fitting that when the film finally ends, the Green Day song "21 Guns" comes on for the (not kidding) 4th time. It's the final "F-You" from Michael Bay as you exit the theater in disbelief. Well you won't fool me again, Michael Bay. I'm sick of being conned. Now excuse me while I go buy a Dyson.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Let the Right One In

For as long as I can remember, I have loved movies. I think it's safe to say that many of us feel the same way. Movies transport us to wherever it may be that we want to go (or don't want to go). They're our passport to adventure and the only one that guarantees a safe trip back. They are our fantasies, our fears and our gateways to the unimaginable. And lately, they've become so cliched and predictable that the fun seems to be lacking. At least that was what I thought before I saw the film, "Let the Right One In."
Let me give you the premise: boy is getting picked on at school, boy meets new girl, boy notices new girl never comes out during the daytime, people start disappearing in town, boy and girl fall in love, more people disappear from town... A vampire movie? you say, I've seen those before. Not like this you haven't.
Rather than dwell on gore like most American vampire films would do, (Let the Right One In is Swedish, by the way) the film chooses to focus on the strange love story that develops between the two main characters, Oskar and Eli. The film sticks mainly to the vampire rules we all know-vampires must drink blood to live; vampires must stay out of the sun; vampires cannot enter a room to kill someone unless they are invited in. Where the film strays from the norm is in it's form. At first, I thought there was a problem with my speakers, but then I realized that a large part of the dialogue is muted. What this does is to focus your attention on other things. The smallest sounds that the director chooses to give the audience are amplified. It creates a movie watching experience unlike anything I've ever seen. The end result is a vampire film that is less reminiscent of more recent films like "30 Days of Night" and more reminiscent of the early silent vampire films like the original "Nosferatu." The film exudes a creepiness throughout that far surpasses the cheap scares that have become expected from most newer horror films. So give "Let the Right One In" a chance. It's a film that is both haunting and beautiful, and one that will stick with you far longer than most films you will ever see.