Archive for April, 2007

October Road

Friday, April 27th, 2007

pilot_01.jpg Can I introduce you to a really bad show? October Road. It’s about a kid who’s facing a mid-life crisis–or a quarter-century crisis–at age 28. He wrote about all his hometown friends in a bestselling novel and never spoke with them again, and now he’s come back to them and his ex girlfriend and his family and his ex’s kid who might his. It’s soooooo hard to watch without imitating. There’s one scene where Laura Pepron, who plays the ex, confesses to her best friend in a close-up: “The whole time I was yelling at him I just wanted to kiss him.”

When scenes like that happen, David and I have face-offs at home as to who can do a better imitation. That line has stuck around. May I also recommend the show Medium for inspiration. There was one episode where Patricia Arquette attacks a man who she thinks hurts her daughter. It’s worthy b/c her face doesn’t move and she emits a high-pitched like animal sound. (She’s pretty, I like she’s more plumb than the average TV starlet, but even with the Emmy, she cannot act, people.) The way they staged it, it just looks like she’s punching the pillow. Very fun to re-enact at home.

Drew Barrymore

Thursday, April 26th, 2007

images1.jpg I read People.com at work when I’m aggravated and Drew Barrymore is the number one most beautiful person alive! In response, she said something like “it makes my peacock feathers stretch out to heavens and burst into little truly beautiful heavenly star.” That is just so out there, I kind of love it. Does she not have a publicist? Thank you for my second laugh of the day.

Money troubles

Wednesday, April 25th, 2007

images.jpg I told my mom today I wish I were a millionaire so I could quit my job (who doesn’t.)

“You can marry a millionaire,” says mom, “you don’t have to make it yourself.”

“Too late for that.” (I married an actor.) “Maybe one of my kids will make millions, but of course by that time, I’ll probably be dead.”

“That’s not necessarily true,” she says. “Treat them well, and maybe some of it will trickle down to me.”

Then we talked about the colossal, hyped real estate prices in New York.

“Maybe,” she says. “You’ll have to move to a house with a backyard. By the time I retire, you’ll have two kids.”

“Sure, you can live in a tent in the backyard. And when it rains, you can come inside. Like on the porch.”

Ha ha ha ha. Thank god my mom is funny. It was my first big laugh of the day. It helps!!!

the Namesake

Wednesday, April 25th, 2007

namesake-poster-766860.jpg After watching this flick, I realize every immigrant story is bitter sweet–the ones from Asia and Southeast Asia anyway. It’s too far between the U.S. and Asia to feel some sort of loss and all these stories seem to be about lives marked with loss and some joy, and an absolute disconnect with the new adopted country and the kids you have here shaped by it. That’s why this story makes me so darn weepy (the book, I loved; the flick, not so much. It went all over the place and never really accumulated, and it’s odd that Kal Penn, the lead, looks the same age as the actors who play his parents.) I saw it with my mom, which only added to the weight I felt, watching the scenes of the new immigrants feeling lonely in the U.S., receiving some negative attention because of what they looked like, etc., etc., etc.

Mom found the flick “boring” and decided the filmmaker wasn’t that talented. (She has no idea what goes into moviemaking, though I think, as I said…she was right). When I asked her if she still regretting immigrating to the U.S., she looked as serious as she always does and says yes.

“Really? Even after more than thirty years in this country?”

“Yes, I wish I never left Korea.”

From which point, I was completely released for any feelings of guilty or immigrant-related melancholy. I mean, seriously, if you still regret something after thirty years, don’t you think that’s a little retarded? Don’t you think at some point you don’t really think about it b/c the point is so moot? My friend’s husband’s folks immigrated from Germany–his dad from East Germany, and he ran without a look back! (Granted, East Germany isn’t like a resort country or something). But you’re here! There’s really nothing you can do about what happened so long ago. Plus, the Korea you remember from whence you came no longer exists. Even the language my folks speak from the 1970s is different than what’s currently spoken. When they go visit on occasion, think of Austin Powers coming back to the present time asking whether to shag now or later (though…another sentence might be more fitting for my parents.) All I mean is the world they miss no longer exists — the streets they grew up on are different, the people, the culture — and so, I feel sorry for them all over again.

Virginia Tech

Sunday, April 22nd, 2007

It’s awful what happened, let’s just say that up front, lest you think I’m completely heartless. I can’t imagine what it’s like to lose someone like that, in the middle of their lives, for absolutely no reason, for preventable circumstances, in such an insane, violent manner.

After the shooting, a co-worker came up to me and said that she thought the actions resulted from an individual who was pushed to the breaking point of an environment filled with the haves and the have-nots, someone dealing with being a minority. She had gone to Vassar for one semester — and the class, values, and ethnic differences were more than she wanted to bear — so she transferred and flourished at a NYC institution.

I don’t know that I completely buy that explanation — class stress and misfit status contributed shaping this kid, for sure, but from everything he’s quoted as saying? He was just clearly nuts. Anyone saying that they have an imaginary supermodel girlfriend named Jelly from the planet Neptune is suffering from — I don’t know, I’m not a psychiatrist — but how about schizophrenia? Delusion? Narcissism? He was just plain crazy. Lots of kids contend with being a misfit in a severe way — being the only middle class among the wealthy, being the only non-Christian and Christian world, or non-white in a white campus, and they do not flip out and shoot 30 some-odd people. So that rationale alone does not make sense to me, and yet…

Another friend told me that she feels those social/financial circumstances are not enough to compel a student to behave that way, that we all have certain challenges to overcome, and that your attitude and perspective dictates how you survive and handle such stress — and we both kind of got annoyed by each other in the moment. Maybe she was annoyed with me b/c I wasn’t getting what she was saying, and I was getting annoyed b/c I didn’t feel like she was giving sufficient recognition to how much these kinds of circumstances can break you. You might be a confident kid with a healthy set of adaptability tools, but I also think some kids are subject to such intense racism or classism or what-have-you that breaks their spirit and they never fully recover. I think it’s much harder for a nonwhite boy than a nonwhite girl to fit in into mainstream American society. I think kids sense weakness/insecurity and attack like like wolves on the lone sick moose member. I’m lucky — whatever racism, etc. that has crossed my path has not been so overwhelming that I haven’t been able to recuperate, but I still remember freshman year, taking an Asian American lit class — there were kids who grew up in North Dakota and other parts of the country where they were a minority living in communities that were not all that educated and enlightened, and the barrage of prejudice was so relentless and cruel that the result is that they just plain out hate white people. Racism can drive people crazy, and though ultimately, that’s not why I think this kid went ballistic at Virginia Tech, aspects of his personal story make me think about this.

At the same time, I have a handful of Asian American friends who identify with the shooter, feeling the pain of his social ostracization due to his race. And I’m just like dude, he was crazy. I know you went through racism but you could not shoot 30 people and feel detached from that! That kid was totally CRAZY.

I hope this incentivizes people to pay attention to people who are clearly in trouble. There were signs this kid was mental, people seemed to sense it — his very presence disturbed other students to the point where they dropped out of class. It makes me think of every kid I’ve ever observed who fits this bill. When I toured with a feminist theater group, one kid in Iowa threatened to kill us. There was one kid I went to high school with who never talked and was caught punching his locker. In college, there was one freshman football recruit who didn’t seem to have the same regard for fellow students the way the rest of did — he threw a tray of food at the cafeteria employees, he actually went to the bathroom in a sink when two stalls on his floor was occupied (sorry to be gross, but it just demonstrated how whack he was), never mind the freshman who walked around in a hairshirt and no shoes during the winter semester.

I guess it’s hard to imagine someone like that will ever snap, you kind of expect them to stay in their own quirky bubble or something. They don’t become this way over night, and though it’s easier to assume someone else will deal with their problem, it’s not okay to let this go, especially on a school campus where there are presumably safety nets, to observe a kid who has no friends, who talks to themselves, who is clearly unstable. I don’t want this kind of violence to ever erupt again, but I’m worried that we’re in for more freakouts. And I hope when I encounter someone like this again that I try to get them help. Who knows. I hope I do.

Kurt Vonnegut

Sunday, April 22nd, 2007

vonnegut.jpg I know I’m a little late posting this, since every newspaper has gone on to ruminate on other topics (my cousin Ed was graciously transfering the home of my site to his server.)

I actually don’t enjoy Kurt Vonnegut’s writing. I can see he’s quirky and talented, but so is Joan Didion, and I can’t stand her writing either — apologies to both sets of fans.

There have only been two big loves in my life — I married the second one (I know, just like Gwen Stefani). Anyway, the first named Vonnegut as a favorite, so I was obliged to read the first edition Slaughter House Five he loaned me.

He got mad when I returned it with a hamburger stain. I can still hear him ask me with complete disgust how this could’ve possibly happened, it wasn’t really a possibility in his universe, but so routine in mine (Maybe that’s one of the whys of the breakdown). Those days, I was using a brown suede pocket book I loved. I got it for 50 cents (thus the big love for the bag) from a New Haven thrift store, and carried the Vonnegut in it to read on the subway and stuff. And you know, at lunch, I couldn’t finish my hamburger so I threw it in my pocket book with everything else.

Of course, the girl I am today wouldn’t borrow first edition books, or treat it like a lunch pail, or stick a burger in her bag…at least without throwing some napkins in after it.

Aside from writing a kabillion books that gave people pleasure, Vonnegut also wasn’t afraid to speak on behalf of other people, on behalf of what he thought was right and wrong. He had like three biological kids and adopted four more, so all those little facts make me believe that he was one of those folks who made the world a better place. They are out there! That’s really all I wanted to say. He seemed cool.

TV Land

Sunday, April 22nd, 2007

TV TV in general. Who knew I would grow up to be such a TV “ho”? (It’s such a ugly term that the quotes help me deny that I’m using it.) Growing up, when we were living with my aunt, my cousins and I were FORBIDDEN from watching any boob tube. My aunt never let us watch TV because she noticed it made all the kids fight more.

And long after I moved out of my aunt’s house, I still showed little interest in TV, just didn’t have a taste for it. So why am I now mesmerized 24-7 by it now? Maybe it was the influence of roommates who grew up in households with different TV attitudes than ours. My husband’s taste for taste for ESPN, ESPN1, and ESPN2, among other sports channels leads our tube to be on like on ALL THE TIME.

At first, it started with telling myself that there is truly great storytelling going on TV today. There are more interesting writers and actors working in TV than even in film, and sometimes theater. And initially, I think my tastes backed up that take on the situation — 24, Lost, Grey’s Anatomy’s, Six Feet Under. I had weekly appointments with all these shows, I shaped my socializing around them, and experienced great agitation and restlessness when a friend would not realize I had to go RIGHT THAT MINUTE if I were to get home in time for the beginning of ER (I think that friend no longer talks to me b/c I ditched her for ER. I might be the only left who still watches it. Okay, she should ditch me.)

And then as these programs began their slow descent and inevitable decay, I didn’t quit. Somehow, over the years, I developed a voracious appetite that had to be fed almost every day. It’s like the plant Audrey II in “Little Shop of Horrors.” I’ve watched American Idol, So You Wanna Dance, CSIs, Law and Orders, and even Medium to satiate this endless hole! And as the program quality worsens, so do my standards. I have even teared up at Medium. (Though in my defense, the guy who plays Patricia Arquette’s husband is a really good actor, and it was a very moving episode, okay?)

But when I stop and think, I wonder, what would I be doing if I weren’t watching these shows? Maybe finishing my novel draft? Or the play I owe at the end of June? Taxes? (Bad scene.) Laundry? (Really, really bad scene.) After such a realization, a bigger person would then take the next step and perhaps curb their boob tube time and begin their new life as a crusading environmentalist, a teacher of children, a world-class bob sledder…but I am…me. And honestly, I don’t think wasting time is all that bad. Is it? We’re all here on earth passing time anyway. There’s so much emphasis on productivity equaling a valueable life that perhaps it’s a sign of a mentally healthy person who can just relax and click on the remote. That’s right, I’m so secure that I don’t feel threatened by wasting hours on my DVR, while you’re out there supporting your family, discovering the cure for cancer, becoming a knock-hockey champion.

That almost sounds convincing.