Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Memoirs of a Showgir-- I mean, Geisha

In this week's Village Voice, Dennis Lim reviews Rob Marshall's Memoirs of a Geisha. And man, it isn't pretty...

...But it is really, really funny.

Some favorite quotes:

"The movie version of Golden's bestseller, from the director of Chicago, comes up with a new angle: In this garish pageant of dragon-lady vamping and drag-queen catfights, the geisha experience is roughly akin to working the bar at Lucky Cheng's."

"Swaddled in the posh vulgarity that passes for awards-season elegance, Memoirs is deluxe orientalist kitsch, a would-be cross between Showgirls and Raise the Red Lantern, too dumb to cause offense though falling short of the oblivious abandon that could have vaulted it into high camp."

"Rob Marshall's movie is something of a lip-synch disaster: Chinese actresses play Japanese geisha (in a period concurrent with the Sino-Japanese war) and speak English the way Hollywood has always imagined Asians do, all stilted syntax and awkward enunciations ("You are! To become! Geisha!")."

"Sold into an okiya in childhood, mysteriously blue-eyed Sayuri (Ziyi Zhang), often shot through bars and slats in case we fail to grasp her caged condition, longs to escape servitude—to become! geisha!—which she does under the tutelage of the kindly Mameha (Michelle Yeoh)..."

"And in the scheme of this movie, which dispenses with pesky World War II in one or two sonorous voiceover lines, what Sayuri wants, Sayuri gets."

"With Marshall preoccupied picking out fabrics and lacquer veneers, the task of directing the actors seems to have fallen to the beleaguered dialect coach. To complement the clashing accents, Memoirs is a free-for-all of wildly divergent acting styles. Zhang's phonetic struggles are the most (mis)pronounced, but she throws herself heartily into the film's hilariously anachronistic big number, a splashy expressionist routine on platform clogs that would have cleaned up on So You Think You Can Dance?"

"Clad in chinchilla-fringed outfits and hurling sidelong death glares, Gong's viperous Hatsumomo wipes the floor with Zhang's cowering Sayuri: "I shall destroy you!" she hisses in the most Showgirls-like scene."

He compares it, twice, to Showgirls. 'Nuff said.


Monday, November 21, 2005

Second-Hand Cabin Depressurization

BRISBANE, Australia (AP) -- A French woman who is terrified of flying admitted in an Australian court Monday that she drunkenly tried to open an airplane door mid-flight to smoke a cigarette.


She walked toward one of the aircraft's emergency exits with an unlit cigarette and a lighter in her hand and began tampering with the door, prosecutors said. But a flight attendant intervened and took Sellies back to her seat.

It's a good thing she wasn't in an emergency exit row.

Defense lawyer Helen Shilton told the court Sellies was terrified of flying and had taken sleeping tablets with alcohol before takeoff.

I hear sleeping pills and alcohol go real well together. Kind of like cocaine and Drano.

Shilton said Sellies has no memory of what happened on the flight and that she has a history of sleepwalking.

Sleepwalking?! This just gets worse and worse...

But Magistrate Gordon Dean sternly warned the woman: "You must understand, if you are on a plane you must behave yourself."

Yes! And that means no touchie the cabin door while on Unisom and Jack Daniels!

Sellies, who did not speak in court and was aided by a translator, was placed on a 1,000 Australian dollar (US$734; euro623) bond -- meaning she will have to pay that amount if she commits another offense in the next 12 months.

Someone please tell me that this woman isn't going to ever get on another plane ever in her entire (or at least my entire) life!


Sunday, November 20, 2005

Bush Thwarted by Locked Doors

Our favorite funnyman, George W. Bush, embarrassed himself and our country once again yesterday as he tried to dart out of a press conference after being told by a reporter that he seemed unenthusiastic and a little "off his game."

"Holy Jeebers, Batman! This must be some sort of high-tech security force field..."

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Elevator Karma

On my way from my cubicle to the elevator today, I sighed to myself and thought "well, the workday is done, but now I have to sit and wait for this stupid elevator."

See, the elevator in our building is notoriously slow. But on top of that, it teases you into thinking that it's actually coming by groaning and grunting the way most elevators do when they are coming up to meet you. But nooo... this one still takes for-frickin'-ever to get anywhere.

So, I hit the "down" button and, lo and behold, I heard a *ding* and the elevator doors slid open! The warm and inviting elevator car was just sitting there, waiting for me to get in... It was as if it was saying "C'mon, Eugene! You get a free ride today! And ice cream!"

Despite the fact that there was no ice cream in sight, I decided that, for once, the elevator gods had decided to take some pity on me. I had paid my dues, and made my offerings. And it was time to collect. So I took my quick, wait-free ride down to the first floor, and headed off to the library.

Yes, today was a good day.


Tuesday, November 08, 2005

How hard is it to wrap a sub?!

Okay, so today I decided to try something new. Instead of gorging myself on delicious NYC pizza, I went for a healthier option and walked over to Subway instead.

I ordered a Oriental Chinky Chinaman Chicken Onion something-er-other sandwich to go... Now, before I go on, I want to make it known that, having worked in a few food service establishments, I feel somewhat justified criticising stupidity at other food services establishments... if for no other reason than, well, i know I can do a better job, and I have in the past.

Alright... so I walk back to my office and sit down at my desk, very hungry and looking forward to eating my Far East Kung Fu Chicken Sandwich with extra Slanty Eye Terriaki Sauce... I put the bag down on my desk, only to notice there's a weird bulge at the bottom.

"Gee, I think to myself, what could this be? Did my Chinaman try to escape my hungry mandibles?"

Well, long story short, the incompetent Subway worker managed to wrap my sandwich in exactly the wrong way, as to allow all the sandwich contents to spill out of the roll and collect at the bottom of my bag. I had to pick up all the pieces of my Bucktoothed Laundromat-Owning, Supermarket-Running, SARS-Contracting Chicken sandwich and drop them back into my whole wheat roll.

I mean, how hard is it to wrap a sandwich so that the innards don't leak out??

THAT's what I get for being healthy!! Gah!!


Tuesday, July 19, 2005

In with the new, out with the old...

So... to recap the last couple of months:

- I bid farewell to my home of three years, Boston, MA and trucked all my stuff home to NJ (temporarily, as I will explain later).

- My family and I took a trip out to the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, and the Navajo Indian Reservation. It was our first family outing in probably 8 years! Took lots of photos.

- Had one day of rest at home before flying down to New Orleans to attend the wedding of my good friends Brad and Liz. Found out the true value of "Hand Grenades." Took a ton of great photos.

- Had one more day of rest at home before flying out to Europe with Linds. We hit Amsterdam, Geneva, Venice, Florence, Rome, Vernazza, Barcelona, Granada, Madrid and Paris! Met up with many friends (Alok, Alex, Mike, Jen, Kristen), made some new ones, and generally had a fantastic time. We ate more than our fill of mouth-watering food, took in some awe-inspiring sights, and bought some neat-o gifts. Took 1.5 gigs of photos. For more on this, for now, see our travel blog.

- Came back to NJ to rest and recover from all my travels... only to find that my hard drive had died. Luckily, this happened before I uploaded all our photos from Europe... but also happened before I backed up any of my photos from our family trip or Brad/Liz's wedding. I was not pleased.

- Ordered a new hard drive to replace the broken one... And finally made a purchase I had been waiting a whole year to make: I bought myself a shiny new 15-inch Powerbook! ...oh, and it didn't hurt that a shiny new iPod mini came with it (I love being a student).

- Ah yes, I almost forgot... Soon, I will leave home once again, but this time with most of my stuff, and move over to Brooklyn, NY, where I will spend at least the next two years while attending grad school at NYU. Rock on.

Phew... Anyhow, hopefully I'll get those Europe photos up soon. And with some luck (alright, a whole lotta luck) I might be able to resurrect some files/photos from my dearly (mostly) departed hard drive. Meanwhile, I will be relaxing, getting back into some sort of shape, playing ultimate, and maybe (just maybe) recording some music.



Friday, May 20, 2005

Showered with... Pastries?

Today marks the end of an era for me. It was my last day of employment at Golden Cage Music. My employment there has been interesting. It's been... well... quite a ride. Working there can be quite stressful at times and the rewards are not always tangible (or even recognizable, at the time). I fully expected to walk out of there cheering and jumping for joy, like I'd just won some weird one-and-a-half year long marathon.

But instead, there was a strange sense of calm... It first hit me earlier this week, when I realized this was my last week at work. That was significant not necessarily because it signaled the end of my employment there, but the beginning of the next two years of my life.

My day began like most others: I got up, showered, ate, and drove to work. Within the first half hour, I was given a blueberry coffee cake, 4 of my favorite muffins from the local coffee shop (cinnamon apple spice.. yum) and a decaf coffee (by my request). I was showered with pastries. It was great.

Tonight, my Boston friends and I will gather to eat barbeque and then go out to karaoke. A fitting end to what has been a pretty great day so far, I'd say.


Thursday, May 12, 2005

Almost there...

So many interesting things will be happening in the next few months... My last day at work is in a week. Then I'll be moving from Boston back home... from where I will be traveling to Arizona for a week, New Orleans for 4 days, and then Europe for a whole month! Then it's back home to relax and write/record some music... Then in September, I'll be moving to NYC to start grad school at NYU's music business masters program.

The anticipation is killing me!


Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Better Late Than...?

"The first lady raises a valid point. Since it would take years for stem cell research to find a cure for Alzheimer's, why start? It makes no sense. If you can only save people eventually, you're really doing a disservice."

--Jon Stewart, on Laura Bush's claim that embryonic stem cell research is too preliminary and gives people false hope

Thursday, March 31, 2005

R.I.P. Mitch Hedberg...

I just found out that one of my all-time favorite comedians was found dead yesterday. Mitch Hedberg was a comic genius, and his passing is truly a loss to the world of entertainment and comedy.

To be honest, I feel a little weird writing such mushy stuff about the passing of a stand-up comedian. But I thought about it for a while .... and realized that he's really the first celebrity or well-known person whose death actually makes me sad. His comedy has made me laugh 'til my sides hurt more times than I can remember... his jokes cheered me up on numerous occassions... His humor influenced almost every one of my close friends and shaped the way we think of jokes and comedy. My singing group in college even named our album after one of his jokes ("Dry Clean Only").

An excerpt from the MTV news link above states:

Much like Steven Wright, Hedberg was a master of the sharp-as-glass-shards one-liner ("Rice is great when you're hungry and want 2,000 of something"; "I would imagine if you understood Morse code, a tap dancer would drive you crazy"; "When someone hands you a flier, it's like they're saying, 'Here, you throw this away.' ") His comical, almost-too-obvious observations about life's subtle peculiarities inspired Time magazine to declare the stand-up comic "the next Seinfeld" in 2000.

R.I.P., Mitch.


Monday, February 14, 2005

Happy Valentine's Day!

These are entries to a Washington Post competition asking for a rhyme with the most romantic first line... but the least romantic second line:

Love may be beautiful, love may be bliss
But I only slept with you, because I was pissed.

I thought that I could love no other
Until, that is, I met your brother.

Roses are red, violets are blue, sugar is sweet, and so are you.
But the roses are wilting, the violets are dead, the sugar bowl's empty
and so is your head.

Of loving beauty you float with grace
If only you could hide your face

Kind, intelligent, loving and hot;
This describes everything you are not

I want to feel your sweet embrace
But don't take that paper bag off of your face

I love your smile, your face, and your eyes -
Damn, I'm good at telling lies!

My darling, my lover, my beautiful wife:
Marrying you screwed up my life

I see your face when I am dreaming.
That's why I always wake up screaming

My love, you take my breath away.
What have you stepped in to smell this way

My feelings for you no words can tell,
Except for maybe "go to hell"

What inspired this amorous rhyme?
Two parts vodka, one part lime

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Excuse me, waiter...

...There's a bug in my kung-pao chicken!!

A few nights ago, my girlfriend and I went to Chinatown Seafood in Coolidge Corner (Brookline, MA) to get some dinner. It was the night of the blizzard, so the place was nearly empty.

We ordered some soup, a seafood medley, and a plate of kung-pao chicken. After about 45 minutes, everything had come out except the chicken. Shortly thereafter, the waitress came over and annouces, "Here is your kung-pow beef!"

"Um," my girlfriend said, "I ordered kung-pao chicken, not beef." The waitress looked surprised, then slightly offended, as if to say "Of course you ordered the f--ing beef, you idiot." She took the plate back without so much as a sorry and stalked off back to the kitchen. We were pretty sure that we got the order right, since my girlfriend doesn't eat red meat. Anyhow, another 15 minutes expired, along with most of the seafood dish, until finally the waitress came back with the correct dish.

We dug into the steaming plate of chicken, vegetables and peanuts. I was muching happily on the mixture, taking small sips of my Tsing-Tao beer every now and then, when all of a sudden, I hear my girlfriend say in a low, but distressed tone, "EW... Oh ... My... God..."

Now, knowing my girlfriend can be picky about the meat she eats, I expected to look up and see her holding a questionable piece of chicken in her chopsticks. Boy, was I wrong. Instead, I looked up to find her poking at a DEAD BUG that had been mixed in with the rest of the chicken.

I've worked in restaurants before. I know that, sometimes, restaurant kitchens aren't quite as clean as you'd expect them to be. But I've never actually seen this sort of thing happen.

We signaled the waitress again. She came over and almost whisked away the plates without a second glance. We stopped her and pointed out the little creature in our food. Once again, she didn't show the slightest bit of regard for the mistake and said "Oh okay, we'll bring out another one."

When we asked about getting a discount on the check, she said "We don't normally do that. But I'll ask my manager." Right.

In the end, they offered us a 15% discount. Too tired and too nauseous to argue, we just left it at that.

Ugh. Consider yourself warned. Don't ever go over to that awful place. You might eat more than you bargained for.