Friday, March 31, 2006

shadow of the giant

i first read orson scott card's ender's game when i was in fifth grade, i think, and i can't avoid saying that it had an enormous impact on me. it's one of those books that made me think a lot about things, and i'd read it again and again as i grew up, because i really liked it. more than a decade later than i first read ender's game, and about two decades after it was first published, card continues the series, or rather spin-off series (yes, i'm using tv terminology), with shadow of the giant. this actually came out early last year, but i hadn't had a chance to read it. usually with these books, i buy the hardcover for my friend (also an osc fan) from whom i then borrow it, but i wasn't able to do it this time, so i waited for the paperback. i was browsing the bookstore earlier this month, saw it and picked it up.

it was a pretty good book; i enjoyed reading it and couldn't stop reading it when i started as i often do with books from this series. it was a huge improvement over the last book, shadow puppets (something about that book just wasn't rite, but i read it too long ago to elaborate), but i still felt like some of the political maneuverings were contrived and revealed a certain lack of understanding card has of the world in which we live. of course, it doesn't really matter. the book is science-fiction and has no responsibility to adhere to the rules of our reality. it's not our future, and card can do with the world what he likes.

the small problem is that it's very clear that much of the story is inspired by what's been going on in our world recently. card throws in a lot of his thoughts on islam, on the american system of government, and on the nature and ambitions of the chinese and indian people. he doesn't get everything rite, tho.

in the first chapter, he talks about how the chinese people still believe in the mandate of heaven, the son of heaven and the imperial system. that's pretty ridiculous. sure, there is the sense that a government should be legitimate (which is what the mandate of heaven is: legitimacy), but the people of china are not clamoring for a return to a hereditary monarchy. in all the scenes with the chinese involved, they talk in this flowery language that sounds like the exotic fantasies of a clueless man. "most respectfully, sir, will you come to the office of the one called snow tiger?" first of all, no one talks like that in any language. when i read it, it makes me want to add a fu manchu accent to it to complete the caricature. and then, what kind of name is snow tiger for a despot? and then a military officer is named white lotus. if you're not going to translate english names, then why translate chinese names? it just sounds so stupid.

i'm in a less able position to comment about the other aspects, such as the indian people's belief in virlomi as a goddess who walks among her people, or the muslim world's ability or inability to get behind a figurehead caliph as they try to conquer the world, but much of it smells mostly of a wild imagination based on a few truths. but again, i'll say it's a work of fiction and so anything can happen, but because of the fact that he's using countries in our reality as models, i can't help but compare the two.

well, okay, that sounds really negative, but those are just minor beefs, really. they don't really get in the way of the story, which i liked a lot, and card writes the personal relationships in his books really well. it might not be completely realistic, but it does make you go "awww..."

the book doesn't really end. it kinda ties into the end of ender's game, but plot threads are left unresolved, so i can only assume card is going to write another. and probably another. and another. why stop a profitable enterprise, rite? well, i'll be eagerly anticipating the next book.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

cleaning hunk

this has been floating around for a while now, but i always feel like i should salute excellence in advertising (it's so underappreciated as an art), so here's the cleaning hunk. i have seriously had a dream that was a lot like this, but it didn't end there, and there was a lot less cleaning. (via towleroad)

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

my last quarter

this spring quarter will be my last as an undergraduate. some other graduating seniors have expressed some sort of emotional response due to that concept, but i can't say i'm feeling it yet. is it because i don't have plans for what i'll be doing afterward? or is it because i've been in school so long i'm not sure i fully understand what not being in school means?

in high school, i had senioritis for most of the year. after i knew i was admitted to college for sure, the academic aspects of high school ceased to matter much. all i had to do was graduate and i accomplished that while spending most of my time out in the grass of the quad tanning and flirting with boys when i was supposed to be in class. why do i work harder now? is it because i'm older and more responsible? or is it because i fucked up so much in my earlier college career i had to step it up these past couple years? i'm thinking it's mostly the latter, but i'm sure the former has something to do with it too. oh yeah, also, a lot of my college friends are now friends that live in another city or friends that work all the time. less friends to spend my free time with results in more free time being reallocated to time that i spend on schoolwork.

the minimum i have to do to graduate is to take two courses, a history course and a literature course and get a minimum of 0.7 (the passing grade) in each class (yes, i'm proud to say my gpa is strong enuf now to withstand two such grade points), and yet, instead of doing the minimum, i'm taking two additional classes purely through interest. a full load is usually considered 15 credits, and i'm taking 20. why am i doing this to myself? wouldn't i rather have a more relaxing spring quarter? well, who knos when i'll be in school again. i might as well take the opportunity while i'm still a full-time student to take some fun and unrequired courses (no matter how time-consuming they might turn out to be). it may sound weird, but i like learning and when it's about something i actually have an interest in, then school ceases to be a burden and it becomes rather fun.

but what i really wanted to say was that when the quarter started a couple days ago, i was pretty much overwhelmed with all the homework i saw in my future (the lit and history classes are reading-intensive) and really questioning whether or not i should just drop those two extraneous classes and focus on the two i had to take. i hadn't taken reading-intensive classes for over a year now, and i was out of the routine of taking the time to read what i had to read and what i could skim and get a fuller picture of from the lectures. one class i thot would be a breeze appeared to be a lot harder than i thot it was going to be. another class was pretty much a straight lecture with a big class size in which i nodded off a few times on monday (i'm not good with big lectures where all i do is listen to the prof and jot down notes).

but after today, i think i'm getting a better handle on how to manage my studying and my time. after my 6 hour day today (every monday, wednesday and friday), i thot to myself that i can definitely do this. it was reassuring. i'm getting back into the reading routines rather quickly, the class that was turning out harder than i thot was actually not as bad as i thot it was, and the big lecture today was much more interesting than the introductory one on monday (i'm proud to say i didn't fall asleep, tho it might have something to do with forcing myself to sit up front). spring quarter is usually at a point when i've been taking classes with some of the same people for the whole academic year, and so classes are more fun and comfortable, and that is definitely a positive thing. also, being older than most of the other people in the class and not caring too much about what some dumb freshman girl thinks about me, it's easier to express my opinions in class discussions, and i kno my friends kno that i like talking (just look at the length of this fucking post). plus, in the spring, the sun comes out, bringing the flowers (is this the last year i'll experience our cherry blossoms?) as well as the cute boys who are sometimes shirtless and sometimes throwing a football around.

i guess that brings me to talking about my classes. my first class is the last quarter of first-year japanese. i don't need to take this class, but i wanted to finish out the series and get a reasonable beginner's background in japanese should i ever choose to, y'kno, try to find work out there or study out there or something. i really liked my t.a. from last quarter, but there's no way i can fit her sections in my schedule, so i have another different t.a. initially, i had hoped that i would get the hot eastern european t.a. (who's either queer or maintains himself quite well as some straight european guys are apt to do), but instead, i got the other white guy. i was iffy before the first day, but after a couple of sections, i think it will be a fun class. he looks a little funny, cuz his head is just slightly too small for the rest of his body (just barely noticeable), but he's a nice guy who keeps the class atmosphere fairly lite. it's perfect for the spring. there aren't really any cute guys in my class (again... the blond drama boy that was in my lectures the past two quarters has finally eluded me), but there's a guy from south africa who dresses well, but i think he does himself up too much. you can tell he spends a lot of time in the morning getting ready, and a lot of money on various grooming ventures. he might be a fag, or else that just might be how they do things in south africa. i dunno, i've never been. well, there is another guy, i think he's a hapa. he was in both of the film classes i took last year, but he sits next to the is-he-gay-or-just-from-taiwan taiwanese guy with glasses and they jabber to each other thruout lecture and section. the rest are mostly pale anime fans. shudder. i don't think there's anyone in my lecture worth mentioning, but i was happy to discover that the girl i was class-friends (friends, but only within the bounds of the shared class) with last quarter in section is in my same lecture. i was changing sections, so i was a little worried about who would keep me sane in my japanese classes, but i shouldn't have been.

the next class is the literature class, and it's the third and last class in a year-long series. because the prof who usually teaches this class was trying out his new martial arts film class (which i took) last year, this lit class wasn't offered. thus, this year, the class is a combination of students whom i remember from last year and students with whom i've been taking classes this year. it's like a mush of the present and the past, and it makes for a strange feeling, since i haven't seen some of these people since exactly a year ago. this class should be pretty fun. i've taken a lot of classes with this same prof and his teaching methods are very compatible with how i learn. the subject is very much more interesting than the other classes, cuz it focuses on fictional or editorial prose, as opposed to the endless poetry and songs of the time periods preceding. this class is usually pretty dry when it comes to hot guys, but one guy i remember from last year, whom i nicknamed andy lau (uhm, because he looks like a younger, hotter korean andy lau) showed up for the first day of class. i was happy about that, but then he didn't show up yesterday or today, so that doesn't bode well. i mean, either he's decided not to take it, or he's gonna take it but never come to class. either way, he's not gonna be there. a lot of people from my classical class are also in this class, and we all sit on one the rite side of the classroom. in the middle-back is all the pale white guys with glasses, in the middle front is graduate students, and a major portion of the left side is all east asian girls (chinese, japanese, korean, we have them all). i didn't really have a point there; i just wanted to mention that cuz i thot it was interesting.

my third class of the day is the aforementioned classical class. there are 8 of us in this class (down 1 from last quarter, but i didn't really like her anyways) and we've all been taking this class for two quarters now. the work is sometimes time-consuming, but the topic is interesting and the class atmosphere is very easy-going (due to the fact that we've known each other for some months now and have nothing left to prove to each other). i don't think i have much to say about this class that i haven't already said before.

and my last class, the history class, the larger lecture, caps my day. well, before this class, i have a half-hour break, which i had initially disliked (i prefer all my classes all in a row so that when i'm done, i'm really done), but since my school days are so long now, it'll give me an opportunity to take a breather and get lunch. anyhow, like i said, i was uneasy about this class at first, despite having more than a passing interest in the subject matter, because of the large class size and my inability to stay awake in classes where interaction is minimal, but i think i'm okay with it. the prof lectures well and when we covered new material today, i didn't feel like sleeping at all. i also think she's a dyke. she strikes me as one. i'm not saying all middle-aged women have to be married by then, but it's the way she carries herself and dresses, and especially her glasses and her hair. for some reason they scream lesbian to me. not that it affects the class; just an observation. being a bigger class, there are more cute guys in this class. one looks like a freckled thinner version of ron livingston with lighter brown hair. he's the only one in the class who takes notes on his laptop, so he's laptop guy. then there's a guy who all year i've been seeing whenever i go thru smith hall, so i'm calling him smith guy. he's tall with buzz-cut blond hair and earnest brown eyes. he reminds me a lot of one of my high school crushes, not in the way he looks so much as in the kind of feeling i get from him. he's always with this asian girl tho. the last guy i've scoped out thus far is a tall asian guy who was wearing a red cut-off reminiscent of a basketball jersey, and so naturally, his nickname is yao ming. he's much cuter than his namesake tho. like i said, it's a large class, so i've more searching to do. there might be other hot boys in class to ogle (i can't be expected to be looking at my lesbian prof ALL the time...).

that's about all i had to say about school thus far. it's only been a few days, as it's still the first week, so things are bound to change. ever since i got to relax a bit on the beaches of hawaii, i've been so horribly optimistic about things (even my 5 hour plane ride back in the middle of the nite wasn't so bad), i think it would honestly sicken my pessimistic side, wherever he went. tho the springtime has usually always been fairly good to me.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

advice to rice queens everywhere

advice to stupid rice queens everywhere: don't tell people that you think their native languages sound "silly."

talking with this idiot was a bit painful, but it was raining really hard and i got a ride home out of it, so i guess i got something for my trouble.

Monday, March 27, 2006

honolulu international guy

to the hot dude who was sitting near me in front of the bookstore (and the burger king) at the honolulu international airport.

i would like to thank you for helping me pass the time. a few minutes after i sat down with nothing much to do, you walked past me and sat a couple chairs down from me. you immediately caught my eye, your big brown eyes, your dark wavy hair hidden under your baseball cap, your simple gray long-sleeve, cargo shorts and flip-flop sandals outfit accented with that white band you wore somewhere between your wrist and your elbow. for two hours, we waited wordlessly for our respective flights, but while i was listening to music, you didn't look like you were doing anything. what were you thinking? where were you going? why didn't you wait at your gate instead of out here? me? i never wait at my gate. too many people. every now and then, i glanced over and took in the sight of you, and every now and then, were you glancing at me? i could see you thru the corner of my eye. we only exchanged eye contact briefly a few times, but i never wanted to linger. your big gay friend stopped by and gave you a bottle of rum. did you say you were going to maui? when a bunch of old ladies needed a block of seats, you moved over so they had them. how nice. when it was time for me to board, i got up and walked away with my bag. i turned back and saw you doing the same, but in the other direction. that was the end of it, but it was a lot of fun for two hours in which all i did was wait... i'm sure it would have been more fun if i'd said hi, but i just didn't have it in me. what did you expect? oh well, maybe next time.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

oscars, quick picks

okay, rill quick, since i was too lazy to do this before and i have to do them now, before the oscars start...

picture: brokeback.
please, do you even need to ask a reason? this movie was great. yes, crash was also a good movie, but when it comes down to it, i think crash was too laid out and heavy-handed. i felt like it could have been more subtle. yes, i'll say it. i didn't like it because it was too accessible.

director: ang lee.
ang lee is an amazing director, and he did an amazing job with brokeback. this is a category that fernando meirelles should have also been nominated in. i liked the direction in constant gardener more than i did the direction in capote, munich, and good night, and good luck. yes, i did just say that. but he still wouldn't have beaten ang. go, ang, go! represent!

actor: heath ledger.
yeah, it'll probably be philip seymour hoffman, but when i watched capote, i felt like it was "acting," you kno? and don't get me wrong, i love hoffman's work in a lot of stuff, but capote just wasn't "best" for me. heath ledger's performance on the other hand was so much more, by being so much left. i wasn't watching heath ledger; i was watching ennis del mar. that last shot when he's looking at the shirts and the photo of brokeback and he says, "jack, i swear..." oh god, talking about it now makes me want to bawl. i have to say tho that this is probably the category with the most great nominations. all of the actors in this category did a really spectacular job.

actress: reese witherspoon.
i thot she was great in walk the line. a lot of people are pulling for felicity huffman, and i might have as well, but i haven't had a chance to see that movie, so i can't saw whether i liked her performance or not. the buzz is that reese'll take it and i can't argue with that.

supporting actor: jake gyllenhaal.
am i just picking people from brokeback? maybe. but i really do think it was the best performance. it wasn't really a supporting performance, but i wouldn't want them to be up against each other... in this way, anyways. thinking about jake's performance, the hope that he conveyed thru his character thruout the movie up until he... it was so good. matt dillon is great, but i think if matt dillon won an oscar, the world would implode. just kidding, i loved him in my bodyguard.

supporting actress: michelle williams.
okay, yes, i am just picking people from brokeback. people are saying rachel weisz is going to take this one, but i'm unconvinced. i love constant gardener and she was one of the best parts of that movie, but was it better than alma del mar's silent (well, mostly silent... jack nasty!) suffering? girl's come a long way from being the girl i didn't like on dawson's creek. hey, how weird is it now that katie holmes is the girl i don't like! actually, this category is hard to pick, cuz i loooved amy adams in junebug too. but i think perhaps the difficulty level was higher for michelle.

visual effects: king kong.
are you kidding me? hands down king kong. the ape was spectacularly animated. war of the worlds and narnia don't even compare (okay, aslan turned out better than i expected, but still). for serious.

original screenplay: crash.
this is tough, because i wanted to watch match point and the squid and the whale before i made a pick, but i didn't have the time. but out of the three i did watch, crash was definitely the one i liked most.

adapted screenplay: brokeback.
i've already talked about this one.

makeup: star wars.
narnia had some nice stuff going on, the white witch was great, but i think the work in star wars was better.

art direction: memoirs of a geisha.
no doubt, this movie was beautiful. harry potter was really cool too, but there's something about the exotic mystical environment that is asia that fascinates me (j/k).

original score: brokeback.
i mean, why not? actually, to be honest, i've watched too many of those brokeback parodies and the song no longer has the resonance with me that it did when i first watched the movie. but, if i remember back to that time, i definitely liked it more than most of the others. people say john williams is going to get it for geisha, and i don't doubt them, but personally, i liked brokeback better.

original song: it's hard out here for a pimp.
i don't even remember the crash song, and i haven't seen transamerica yet. i guess three 6 mafia get my pick by default.

live action short: ausreisser.
i haven't seen any of these cuz i haven't had the time, so randomly picked a name.

animated short: the moon and the son.
same reason as live action short.

animated feature: wallace and gromit.
i already talked about this one.

sound editing: war of the worlds.
i think this is the special sound effects category, and i thot the ones in war of the worlds was better than those in king kong. they stand out in my mind more anyways. but i feel like king kong's going to take this one anyways.

sound mixing: walk the line.
it made me like listening to country, so i'll pick it over the others. honestly, i don't kno what sound mixing is.

editing: constant gardener.
i'll give it to constant gardener where i can, but i have to say the editing was great for most of the other movies too. crash was really fantastic as well.

cinematography: brokeback mountain.
i'm sorry, but those vistas of the mountains, and the vast expanses of sky, and the composition of all the shots, it was all just so so beautiful. but then geisha was pretty too. i'm sure it was great in new world too, but i didn't watch that one. i'll just default on brokeback.

foreign language: paradise now.
i haven't seen any of these. i kno, i'm so bad. but paradise now is the one i most want to see. people are saying tsotsi is gonna win, but the movie just looks very unappealing to me.

documentary feature: march of the penguins.
i've only seen enron and penguins, and penguins was much better (tho enron was a very informative movie). i hear nothing but great things about murderball, and i'm very excited to go see darwin's nightmare, but i don't think anything will be able to beat the wonder that penguins was. did you see the hot french guys behind that movie? oo la la, indeed.

documentary short: god sleeps in rwanda.
i haven't seen any of these, but rwanda has the most powerful and striking name.

kimono design: geisha.
i didn't see any kimono in the other movies, so i don't think the others can beat geisha. actually, i loved the costumes in charlie too, but come on, the kimono in geisha was 80% of how beautiful that movie was.

okay, everyone have a good oscar day. i'll prob be back tomorrow to rant about how brokeback didn't win nearly as many as it should have, but hopefully, i won't. go go brokeback!