The Worst Good Advice You’ll Ever Hear

It’s graduation season, and for many of you that means another big step in the ever-so gradual transition from dependence to independence. Take a moment to contemplate your achievements. No I’m not being sarcastic, graduating is a big deal. It’s one of those single-serving holidays where you get showered with presents from you family (and booze from your friends) in the name of maturity. It’s like some kind of scholastic Ba(r/t) Mitzvah.

Enjoy it while you can, because your accomplishments have your loved ones contemplating their existence and they are eager to dump some on you. In no time at all, the authority figures in your life will be trying to help you avoid the mistakes they made in their youth. Teachers, distant relatives, friends who graduated last year — they’ve all mastered the art of regret and are determined to find what’s best for you. Probably.

Not that there’s anything wrong with their good intentions. Passing on information in the name of progress isn’t just a noble cause, it’s human nature. But experience is the best teacher and biased opinions can be toxic to that learning process. So in truly ironic fashion, I’ve waded through the tropes and clichés and to help you figure out what’s useful and what’s not.

Without further ado, here’s all the great advice you’re going to be hearing and why it’s complete garbage.

“F*ck the haters.”

Three things in life are certain: death, taxes, and haters inevitably hating. That last one in particular has become increasingly apparent in my lifetime. The anonymity of the Internet set free the flying comment section monkeys, flinging their word poo to and fro without fear of repercussions. Some have evolved and shed their masks, building digital empires on their vitriol and smearing themselves in their own self-loathing like fecal war paint. Kids these days — raised on this behavior — are leaking the unmitigated hate into real life at an alarming rate.

It didn’t take long to figure out that acknowledging the hypercriticism in any way only makes the problem worse. No matter how well-worded or well-researched the response, it’s a reaction and that only feeds the machine. Better to ignore them completely. To turn a phrase, if they aren’t saying anything nice, pretend they didn’t say anything at all. It’s an elegant solution, at least until it too worms its way into real life.

Constructive criticism is one of those concepts they teach you in school that’s nice in theory is absolutely useless in real life, like the Pythagorean Theorem or getting good grades. In a perfect world, everyone you meet would wrap their comments in courtesy and send you scuttling into self-improvement with a pat on the back. But this isn’t a perfect world and if you want manners, you’re gonna have to pay for them.

They're not actually happy, just well paid.

Your money buys them happiness.

You know who gets hate dumped on them daily? The highly successful. Think they got to where they are by dismissing their detractors? Hells to the no. They’re the ones who figured out how to separate ‘brutal’ from ‘honesty’ and personal from business. They found value in the insults. They rose above the hate by standing on top of it, and so can you.

Real Advice: Every criticism is constructive if you build on it.

I must confess, I’ve been pretty damn good at every job I’ve ever had. Above average at least. And I’ve also been chewed out least once by every boss I’ve ever had, usually because I made a bad call. I could’ve turned around and bitched about it. I could’ve just ignored it. If I tried hard enough, I could probably lawyer the situation into being their fault. But I didn’t.

When someone criticizes you, there are two positive ways to handle it: you can accept what they’re saying is true and resolve to change it, or you can reject it and remember that one day when you’re in their shoes you’re going to handle things differently.

“Do what makes you happy.”

Happiness is a drug. No literally, being happy sends a surge of chemicals coursing through your brainbox and it feels so good, that’s why everyone wants to be it. Even people with a severe case of permanent bitchface like being happy, though you’ll never be able to tell. “Do what makes you happy” is a pretty stupid thing to say because given the option, of course I’m going to do what makes me happy. Problem is, you can’t always do what feels good because that doesn’t always pay the bills.

In that sense, this message is usually reserved for people who are undecided on what they want to do with their lives. Occasionally it’s thrown toward miserable 9-to-5er’s stuck at a dead end job simply because it pays the aforementioned bills. That actually makes it an even dumber thing to say since those people have no idea what will make them happy. Figuring that out takes time and money, a luxury not everyone has. Most college students change majors a hundred times because they can, because someone else is footing the bill for their drunken journey of self-discovery.

alcohol

But here’s the thing: a majority of those kids don’t end up figuring out what makes them happy either. You think anyone really has a passion for English or Kinesiology? False. They’re just the easiest way to cash in on all those random courses for a diploma — they’re collage degrees. Wondering why everyone seems to rush into marriage these days? Because companionship and sex makes them happy. It’s the one thing they have figured out. Unfortunately like most drugs, the happiness found in that relationship will inevitably fade. The number one reason for divorce? “I’m not happy.” That’s your bad for thinking marriage is about feeling good.

Truth is, it’s impossible to be happy all the time. You can find the perfect job and the perfect spouse and have the perfect life and you’re still going to grow disillusioned with them sooner or later. Life is full of ups and downs, and trying to be constantly up will only bring you down in the long run.

Real Advice: Keep your eye on the prize.

Even if you don’t know what you want to do with your life, odds are there’s at least one thing you definitely know you want to do, whether that’s traveling somewhere exotic or accomplishing something unique. If not, take a few minutes and really think about it. Once you figure it out, work for it. Really work your ass off for it.

You know that cliché “it’s not the destination, it’s the journey”? It’s actually pretty true. No matter what it is you want, the harder you work for it, the better it is when you finally get it. That might mean years of toiling away in obscurity. It could take half a lifetime. But once you get there, it’s going to be the kind of high money can’t buy. So don’t waste your life chasing a fleeting feeling. Embrace the grind. It will pay off.

“Remember your roots.”

There’s something really noble about super famous people keeping their childhood friends around. It’s like they’ve successfully slain the ego-inflating celebrity dragon and returned to the ramshackle cabin of their youth. In spite of everyone looking up to them, they look down on no one. It’s such an inspiring story that we elect friggin’ Presidents over it.

[Insert political bias here]

[Insert political bias here]

So what’s the twist? Well not to burst your bubble, but I’m going to burst your bubble. The stuff your parents were preaching could be making you a terrible person. Take my grandparents for example: they were and still are adamant that the only professions worth a damn are doctors, lawyers, and accountants. Because of this their five sons are, well, doctors and accountants. I’m not complaining since my life has been pretty cushy as a result, but if my dad had taken that to heart, I might be wanting to blow my brains out in med school rather than pecking out this post.

But wait there’s more. My dear sweet grandparents also think their offspring should find nice spouses to marry… as long as they’re Chinese. Yeah, that’s hardcore racism. This line of thinking lead to only two of their sons getting married and having kids, presumably to spare any non-Chinese paramours from the ire of my grandpa. Again, it’s a good thing my dad and his bros didn’t stick to how they were raised on that front, because us grandkids have mostly courted white folks. We’re progressive like that.

All this to say you can’t automatically assume the way you were raised is what’s best for you. I respect the hell out of my dad for overcoming his parents’ prejudice, but that doesn’t mean I agree with everything they taught me. Not all of my friends had picture perfect nuclear middle-class upbringings, yet I still took a fair share of life lessons from their parents. Reality is, no parent is perfect and taking their word as gospel is a one-way ticket to daddy issues.

Real Advice: Be grateful.

As inspiring as a good Cinderella rags-to-riches story may be, most of us don’t start in rags or end up in riches. I personally never had to settle for less, but I don’t think that makes me any less of a person than someone who did. We’re not defined by what we came from or where we’re going and there’s nothing wrong with living simply or indulging in excess. What matters is recognizing you didn’t get there on your own.

There isn’t a single human being on the planet who hasn’t relied on another for what they have. Some work harder than others, but nobody’s completely self-made. What really sets the aforementioned super famous people apart isn’t that they’re the same person they were raised to be; it’s how they recognize everyone that’s invested in them over the years. No matter where you end up, remember who helped get you there. Even if it was your racist old grandpappy.

“Be yourself.”

I always groan when I hear this. It’s not because I don’t believe in being true to one’s self. It’s not because I have something against people embracing their flaws or knowing who they are. What gets me is the idea that deep down inside, we all have a “true” self just waiting to blossom, that there’s some state of inner-being we’re destined to discover, that there’s a final person we’re meant to be. It’s bullshit.

I’ve always despised the Nature vs. Nurture debate. I’m not so ignorant that I can’t recognize we as living beings with DNA are genetically pre-disposed to certain attributes. Being born Asian means I’m never going to be anything but, and any kids I end up procreating will probably have black hair, olive skin, and squinty eyes. But the person I am right now isn’t just a product of my genetics, it’s the result of a series of choices made by me and my parents. Stereotypes for oldest, middle, and youngest kids exist because their environment informs their personality. Life experiences good and bad shape all sorts of preferences.

There’s this really great monologue in the movie Fight Club: “You’re not your job. You’re not how much money you have in the bank. You’re not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You’re not your fucking khakis. You’re the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world.” It’s only of those empowering speeches that encourages people to rethink the importance they place on material goods. But it’s also full of shit. Just because there’s more to you than your job and your salary and your clothes, those things are all very much a part of what makes you you. You’re a culmination of a million incredibly complex variables, but every second you exist is a moment you can completely change who that is.

Every moment a chance to change your shitty taste in music.

Every moment a chance to change your shitty taste in music.

When you accept the proposition that there is a final version of yourself, you’re setting yourself up for an identity crisis. The world is constantly in flux and those who try and lock themselves down are bound to be left behind. Closing yourself off to the infinite possibilities life has to offer only limits your experiences. Defining who you are cripples who you could be.

Real Advice: Never stop learning who you are.

I’ve always hated tomatoes. It doesn’t make any sense because I love ketchup and spaghetti sauce and pico de gallo and so many other tomato-based things. So one summer I decided to eat whole tomatoes every day to see if I could train myself to like them. It didn’t work. In the end I just reinforced my distaste for them. I now know I definitively don’t like whole tomatoes. It’s part of who I am and that’s okay. But I also figured out I’m the kind of person who won’t be put off by one bad experience and gives things a second and third and fourth chance.

There are probably a thousand things you think you know about yourself by now, but when your environment changes, all those things are going to be challenged. Whether it’s high school to college or college to the so-called real world, you’re going to have choices to make and they will help define who you are. Don’t let anyone else make those decisions for you. Find out for yourself. Keep growing. Because life is too damn short to be one person.

New York: Part One

I’ve always wanted to go to New York. It’s basically America’s most famous city and the hub of civilization on the east coast, a place where culture is defined worldwide. Visiting has always felt like an inevitability for me, an obligation even. But for whatever reason by 2013 and the ripe old age of 27, I still hadn’t made it out there. Luckily two British senior citizens made me change my mind.

Pictured: inconspicuous, apparently

Pictured: inconspicuous, apparently

I’d seen this set of photos floating around the internet and like the rest of the world thought, “That’s so awesome, those guys are great.” But the bowler hats they’re wearing in all of them set off a tiny alarm in the back of my head. I thought, “Huh, that reminds me of Waiting for Godot. That would be so cool if those two did the play,” and went on my merry way. Until the day I die, I’ll never understand how it took me so long to make the connection that Sir Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellen had not only done the play before in England, but were doing it again in New York and would be finishing the run in March.

I had been saving to move to Los Angeles for close to two years by then and had an itch to do something semi-reckless with a portion of it. The play was the deal-breaker (or maybe deal-maker). After some deliberation of dates, I bought my ticket that night.

Somehow I didn’t get around to buying plane tickets until weeks later. I think part of me was hoping they would get cheaper but that was stupid. Another part of me thought there was no way this trip was actually going to happen. On the outside I might seem sunshine and optimism, but internally there’s a skeptic deconstructing my dreams bit by bit. I was sure I’d oversleep and never even make it to the airport. Then when I was on the plane I was positive there would be a mechanical issue and we wouldn’t leave the ground. And then during the layover in Boston I was certain something else would happen, maybe I’d lose my wallet or ticket and end up stuck there for a week.

Because that would've been awful, I guess.

Because that would’ve been awful, I guess.

Of course, none of those things happened. I made the flights, I didn’t lose anything, and late Monday afternoon, I touched down for the very first time…. in New Jersey.

Day One: Trial by Fire

I had made arrangements to spend the first two nights in an apartment on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, and Newark International was significantly closer to that part of New York than JFK. I figured any time saved traveling was more time I could spend in the actual city, which turned out to be simultaneously true and false, but more on that later.

There is an incredibly convenient train that runs from Newark International to Penn Station I had scoped out beforehand online, so that’s where I headed. Waiting by the tracks with frigid wind whipping my face was a welcome respite from the stale, processed air on the plane. That was the moment I accepted that my plans had somehow managed to work out and this whole trip was actually happening. Felt good, man.

Of course, that was just the calm before the proverbial storm.

I’m not sure what I was expecting when I stepped off the train and into New York, but what I got was one of the main hubs of public transportation in one of the busiest cities in the world. In layman’s terms, it was a f*cking madhouse. There were more people packed into that place than I think I’d even seen in my entire life. Seeing pictures and watching it on tv doesn’t prepare you in the slightest when you’re thrown into the river of bodies rushing in every imaginable direction that is Penn Station. I tightened the strap of my bags, took a deep breath, and plunged in. That was my first mistake.

You see there’s this popular perception that New Yorkers are all rude as hell and don’t give a rat’s ass about you or the horse you rode in on, and that’s not entirely true. The truth is, they’re in a hurry to get somewhere and you — the wide-eyed wandering tourist trying to figure out which way is up — you’re in the way. Finding a quiet corner or a place to sit and get your bearings amidst the chaos is not an easy task. My host had told me to get to the Lower East Side, I would need to take the F train. It seemed simple enough. Problem being the F train doesn’t run from Penn Station to the LES and telling me which one I needed to get on was beyond her abilities. Luckily I had installed a NYC Subway app that gave me an exact route and which trains would take me to which connecting stations to get to where I needed to go. That should’ve made things simple. It didn’t.

Photo Jan 03, 11 15 42 AM

As you can see in the picture above, subways can be a bit complicated. You end up on the wrong platform and the train is going to take you the wrong direction, and getting to the other platform isn’t as simple as action rolling across. If you’re lucky you can head back up the stairs and take a left or right to the other stairs that will take you down to the other side. Of course I didn’t know that at the time. The first train I got on was the right one, but it was headed the opposite direction. By the time I realized this mistake, I was several stops away from where I had thought to go, which meant a new route was now the fastest. No big deal, I thought, just go with the flow.

Helpful hint: when you’re getting on the subway and you’re not sure whether the name on the sign is the direction you want to go, just pretend they’re like you’re facing a regular street. The side you’re on is going to take you to the right, the opposite goes left. It took me at least three more trains to figure this out. Thankfully I’d picked up a tidbit to buy an weeklong unlimited rides pass so my many mistakes didn’t cost me money. Just my leg.

When I finally got off the F-ing train, my left knee was killing me. I’d worn comfortable shoes as recommended, but they weren’t enough when it came to the billions of subway stairs I had climbed. I’ve never torn an ACL or MCL or QCL before but I was pretty damn sure I had. Thankfully it was only another few blocks to the apartment I’d be staying in.

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Double Feature Sunday: American Hustle and Saving Mr. Banks

[Editor's Note: This was supposed to be written months ago but I'm just now getting around to it. That's why it's not Sunday when it's being posted. Whatevs.]

Hollywood seems to have this love/hate relationship with films based on true events. On one hand, they love making them. Reality provides us with stories that writers couldn’t make up in their wildest dreams and audiences automatically get a movie they can invest in because it really happened. They’re basically witnessing history.

On the other hand, reality doesn’t always fit the traditional three act structure most movies adhere to. The heroes may not be heroic enough nor the villains villainous enough, or it might be missing some critical action beats and suspense. And so in the process of making a “better” picture, details get smudged and the truth gets bent.

I try to accept those taken liberties, just as long as the story itself isn’t whitewashed beyond comprehension. Little did I know this philosophy was going to be pushed to its limit this week.

AmericanHustleBanner

American Hustle follows a pair of mid-level con artists who end up working for an ambitious FBI agent in an effort to save their own skins. As they work to expose corrupt politicians and mob connections, they all begin to find they’re in way over their heads.

Saving-Mr.-Banks-2013-biographical-drama-film

Saving Mr. Banks chronicles the struggle of screenwriters, musicians, and Walt Disney himself to acquire the rights to the Mary Poppins film from the story’s eccentric owner. Enduring her nagging and nitpicking, they discover what the character means to her and how deeply personal it is.

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Broad Generalizations

Women are complicated. At least that’s what they tell me.

It’s Valentine’s Day, which means the internet will be filled with equal parts sappy romantic gestures and not-so-secretly bitter observations about said gestures. The singles portion of the population will be forced at some point in the day to ponder where they’ve gone astray in their quest to swap DNA: women will wonder where the good guys have gone whilst the men lament their inability to understand the gentler gender. For my part, I’ll be embracing the misery by watching some terrible movies. Maybe Twilight. For science.

In truth, I like to think I have a better grasp on what goes on inside women’s heads than most guys. Sure I can count my ex-girlfriends on one penis, but I’ve had enough platonic female friends (their choice) and older sisters (parents’ choice) to know how they think. Notice I say “how” and not “why”. There will never be an answer to the latter.

I’ve done my best to distill the information into this easily digestible post, but be aware that as the title suggests, these don’t apply to all girls. Just most of them.

Women Don’t Rank Things

Quick, name your top 5 U.S. Presidents.

If you’re a guy, odds are you spouted off some combination of Teddy Roosevelt, Lincoln, Washington, Wheelchair Roosevelt, and either JFK or Clinton for their allegendary lady prowess. If you’re a girl, you probably named Lincoln and Washington, mumbled one that’s still alive, then trailed off and changed the subject. It has nothing to do with interest in history or politics (okay maybe a little). Girls just don’t rank things and guys rank literally everything from their favorite pro athletes to their most satisfying dumps.

It all makes sense. According to an evolutionary study that I just made up, males have been programmed to compete with each other until they establish who’s the Alpha and who’s the Beta and who’s the Cera so on and so on… I don’t actually know the Greek alphabet. And we apply this hierarchy mentality to everything. Shirts I never wear are at the bottom of the drawer, food I eat most of is at the front of the fridge, and kitchenware I use often is still on the stove. Because why would I bother washing it and putting it up when I’m just going to use it tomorrow?

For females, it’s much simpler: there are girls they like and girls they don’t. If Mean Girls taught me anything, it’s that the Queen Bee isn’t necessarily the dominant girl as much as she is the group’s social compass for what to love and what to hate. That carries over to their stuff too. Ever wonder why girls go berserk for a walk-in closet? It’s because they like all their clothes and like being able to see all the things they like at once. Also it means being able to store and care for items according to their individual needs.

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New Year’s Resolutions 2013

In 2012, I set a bunch of incredibly easy New Year’s Resolutions for myself. Somehow I still failed about half of them. So this past year, I tried something new. I came up with a handful of Resolutions, but I kept them almost entirely to myself. The idea was, if I am my own biggest critic, then if I mess up, then I will be harder on myself than anyone else could possibly be.

Well the year is over, so here are my goals from the past year and how I did.

1. Be Healthier

A long time ago, I noticed in his wedding pictures my dad was as rail-thin as I have been my whole life. Being pretty insensitive at the time, I asked him when it all went downhill. He restimated around 27. Ever since then, I’ve had that magical number in the back of my head as the time when my metabolism would take the proverbial dive. I’d have to stop being such a slob or deal with the consequences like most human beings.

This took the form of “Health Kick 2013″ which got off to a roaring start. I bought better groceries, minimized junk food, and worked out six days out of the week for nearly five months. Once summer camp started, it was impractical to keep up the same regimen, but I chose the healthier foods from what was provided and got plenty of exercise from the every day rigors of the job. The crash came once summer ended.

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Remedial Community 101

If every show currently on television were going to be cancelled tomorrow and I could only save one, it would be ‘Game of Thrones’. If I could save two, the other would be ‘Agents of SHIELD’. But if I could save three, the third would undoubtedly be perpetual underdog ‘Community’.

The Study Group… and Chang

Not to be a pompous ass, but I’m going to be a pompous ass and say most people don’t seem to get Community‘s humor. It can be heavy on meta-jokes that rely on viewers being familiar with other movies or tv shows, and admittedly some episodes (and more recently, seasons) are weaker than others. To make matters worse, there are enough running jokes that depend on your continued viewership to make ‘Arrested Development’ jealous. The result is a show that tends to cater to its own narrow demographic of media-savvy fanatics and not much else. It’s not an easy show to jump into late and be able to fully enjoy, and with four seasons and nigh 100 episodes in the books, it’s not likely to increase its following by enough to ensure a sixth season.

To their credit, they’re trying to address the issue. They’ve brought back the original show runner Dan Harmon, who they dumped unceremoniously after season three in favor of the notoriously hard to work with Chevy Chase (who is himself gone now), and they’re approaching the new season with a tweaked concept and a re-pilot of sorts. They’re trying to let anyone can jump on board come January 2. Still, the people most likely to keep watching are those who are attached to the characters and familiar with the show’s tropes.

In an attempt to recruit more viewers, I have sifted through and hand-selected 8 episodes of Community for potential new fans. These aren’t necessarily the best episodes or even my favorites (okay some are), but they’ll give you a taste of what the show has to offer that others don’t, introduce you to the hilarious character dynamics, and get you primed for what’s sure to be an epic Season 5. All in 3 hours or less.

So put down the ‘Breaking Bad’. The show’s over and you’re still a loser for not keeping up. It’ll keep until summer.

1. Pilot, Season 1 Episode 1

[Editor's note: click the titles to watch. I made it that easy.]

Screen Shot 2013-12-19 at 2.59.41 AM

As with any good story, you have to start at the beginning. Pilots are designed to sell networks on the continued viability of the show, and as a result, they tend to be overloaded with information, depict easily-distinguishable generic characters, or present high production values that drop steeply in following episodes. Community commits none of these trope crimes.

Sure, it starts out simple enough. Jeff the disgraced former lawyer is attracted to Elizabeth Shue-lookalike Britta and uses oddball Abed to get the info he needs to break the ice. She needs help in Spanish so he tells her he has a study group, not knowing Abed has recruited Annie (the pretty, driven girl), Troy (the cocky former athlete), Shirley (the divorced mother), and Pierce (the old rich, possibly racist guy) to join as well.

If that all sounds cliche, it is. For the first few minute. With no desire to actually be in a study group, Jeff prods them into blasting past the niceties and airing their dirty laundry. It only takes two scenes to see there’s more to each of them than meets the eye. But the frenzy he’s whipped them into turns Britta off and he has to calm them back down to win her back over. He does so with a deftly precise speech, which will be one of the show’s signatures for years to come.

And just like that, the smartest comedy on tv was born.

Quotent Quotables: “Woah, you just wrinkled my brain.”

2. Physical Education, Season 1 Episode 17

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Though there are a lot of great episodes with their semi-iconic moments between the pilot and ‘Physical Education’, this one is the best at capturing the show’s bread and butter while showing off the peanut butter, jelly, ham, and cheese as well (don’t try to figure out which is which, it’ll be awkward for everyone).

Jeff is thrilled to be taking a billiards class so he can show off his style while the rest of the group tries to set up Abed with a potential secret admirer. Things go awry when the billiards coach wants Jeff to wear gym shorts instead of his leather jacket and designer jeans, and the group finds Abed’s usual antics to be… undateable. Hilarity, obviously, ensues.

If the series has a foundation, it’s Jeff’s fragile ego and staunch resistance to learning lessons (while accidentally learning lessons) and the group rallying around Abed to make themselves feel better. Both are on full display here. It also sets the standard for Greendale’s endless supply of absurd “professors” who provide ample opportunities for guest stars.

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5 Things I’m Sick of Reading on Facebook

Opinions are like assholes, in more ways than one. There was a time when people could keep their scents to themselves and those in the immediate vicinity, but then along came social media like a megaphone for butts and suddenly everyone’s blasting their e-romas across the globe.

A normal megaphone for some

A normal megaphone for some

Horrifying simile aside, it’s not so bad until they congregate and decide to draw lines in the digital sand. We’ve all seen those little pictures pop up on our Facebook feeds making blanket statements in Impact font. Those innocuous little doodads used to make funny observations about cats and ridicule celebrities, but they’ve been twisted into beacons for gathering thousands of like-minded b-holes under one pixelated banner.

There is a silver lining, though. Their openness with everyone saves you from the awkward silence that follows the revelation that you may, in fact, hate them. But sometimes for your own sanity, you have to let people know how much they stink.

These are the assholes I’m tired of smelling.

1. “I think girls look better without make-up.”

There’s this fantastic movement going on right now to change the public perception of “beauty”. People are sick of advertisers telling them they should aspire to look like those rail-thin models when it’s neither genetically possible nor physically practical to eat nothing and have a normal job that doesn’t involve old dudes taking pictures of their semi-nudity. Slowly but surely, the public is warming to the idea that beauty can be found in imperfections. And then there’s make-up.

In a desperate attempt to escape the friend-zone, “sensitive” guys will often post something akin to, “I don’t like when girls wear make-up. I like natural beauties.” It’s a thinly-veiled plot to appear progressive and forward-thinking because chicks are into that crap. But what they’re really saying is, “I like girls who are beautiful without make-up.” Well, no shit.

I also like it when they smell like rainbows and glow like sunshine. If it's not too much trouble.

I also like it when they smell like rainbows and glow like sunshine — if it’s not too much trouble.

Invasive surgical procedures non-withstanding, we can’t really change the face they’re born with. Until science finds a way to cherry-pick genetics (and grants me my tiger-otter-chameleon sidekick) we’re stuck working with what we’ve got. Sometimes that’s a complexion that turns heads in a rainstorm; sometimes it’s a mug only a mother could love. Begrudgingly. No matter where they fall in the Punnett square, the reality is that people just look better with make-up.

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Double Feature Sunday: The Family Stone and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

I rewatch some of my favorite movies every year. Part of what makes them my favorites is the layers and nuance. No matter how many times I watch them, there’s always something I never noticed before. It could be anything, from a plot-driven wardrobe change to a prophetic set decoration in the background. But the main reason I do it is because revisiting the stories gives me the same nostalgic comfort as the smells and sounds of my parents’ house, no matter where I am.

I save a number of movies for the winter holidays, chiefly because they’re snowy and holiday-ish. Since it’s the first time I’ve sat down with them this season, so I went with two of my absolute favorites.

The Family Stone is about an uptight woman who goes home with her boyfriend for Christmas, meeting his rambunctious, tightly-knit family for the first time. He plans to propose to her, but he needs his family’s (more specifically, his mother’s) approval so he can give her his great-grandmother’s ring.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind focuses on a quiet man who is having his recent ex-girlfriend erased from his memory though a purposely dubious scientific process. He’s asleep during the procedure, but as he relives each moment with her in reverse-chronology, he realizes he doesn’t want to lose these memories after all.

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A Tale of True TV

They say everything happens for a reason.

If by that they mean that things happen which cause other things which eventually somewhere down the line causes something of note, yes, they do happen for a reason. But if they mean every little action happens with the intent of one day causing something at least tweet-worthy, well that’s simply not true.

But every once in a while, something magical happens — against all logic and reason, in the face of overwhelming odds, fate sees fit to put two things together as though they were meant to be.

Some people call it destiny. Some call it coincidence. Some call it luck. Me? I just call it right.

This is the story of how I was a Nielsen household.

It Was the Best of Times

I have a Bachelor of Arts in RTVF. That fancy acronym stands for Radio, Television, Film. While that sounds like I should be some kind of media guru, what it actually means is I’m a Film major who is vaguely aware that the other two exist. I only took as many Radio and TV courses as was necessary to fill my degree’s requirements, which with my inability to register for classes on time was several.

This one semester I thought it was probably a good idea to learn about Film Law, since copyrights and permits and all that are half the battle in production. But the class was long-filled and I really needed to be considered a full-time student, so I took Media Sales instead.

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If I wrote it: X-men Apocalypse

So Bryan Singer just announced that the next X-men film will drop in 2016 and deal with one of their most infamous and powerful villains to date — Apocalypse.

This set all my sensibility alarms off. The X-men movie franchise hasn’t quite recovered from the series of bumbling, painfully mediocre movies since The Last Stand tried (and failed) to handle the Dark Phoenix Saga. The upcoming Days of Future Past looks to be attempting to right the ship and bring the franchise into a new era of continuity and greatness, but ready to tackle Apocalypse? No way.

For those of you who don’t know, the Age of Apocalypse story is based on an alternate universe where Professor X was killed and Magneto became the leader of the X-men. The world’s first mutant En Sabah Nuhr (the real name of Apocalypse) rose to power and essentially became Marvel’s mutant Hitler, adhering to the mantra “Survival of the Fittest” and determined to eliminate all inferior lifeforms, chiefly humans. Magneto and the X-men were the main rebel group, though there were others who also played their parts. It was a long, intricate, epic take on how things could have turned out in a world without Charles Xavier.

It goes without saying, it needs to be handled carefully and with respect to the source material. Bringing it to screen in less than 3 years time? Forget it. Not possible. I was so disturbed by the idea that I had to take a walk (and it’s below freezing in Texas right now). I took that time to really think about where I want my life to go and the best way to handle the news, so I took a deep breath and I started thinking. If this movie is inevitable, how can it possibly be done right?

Here’s what I came up with:

Days of Future Past will run it’s course, not really taking much from the comics except the time travel (maybe Storm getting cooked by a Sentinel for good measure). The climatic battle in the Past pits Young Charles and Erik working together once more to protect the President from malfunctioning Sentinels. Meanwhile in the Future, the Old X-men defend Old Wolverine’s body from a Sentinel assault in hopes he can right the Past in time to save them. They have a contingency plan, however, to utilize Blink’s mutant powers to time travel themselves to an alternate universe where they can try again. The battle in the Past reaches a fever pitch and…. Young Charles dies.

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