Musings

A Guide to Getting a Girl’s Digits

Last night, our friends got together to celebrate Chris turning another year wiser.

We went to this bar/lounge/club in Orange County called The Commissary Lounge. I would like to rename this place The Meat Market. I have coined it The Meat market because my girlfriends and I could feel the eyeballs scanning us from head to toe as we walked into the empty room at 9:30. Picture a big warehouse, empty in the center of the room, and the perimeters lined with couches, a full bar, and a DJ. As the time passed on and the center started filling in, I did notice some women whenever I scanned the room for Chris. But it was definitely a sausage fest from where I was standing. So much of a sausage fest that there was an endless rotation of men who approached we three girls the entire night.

Credit: Yelp

Credit: Yelp

As one of Chris’s friends puts it, “You know you’re a hot commodity when you’re drunk and you didn’t even pay for a single drink.”

Chris has written posts about how he thinks men should approach women. Given yesterday’s eventful night, I’d like to share a woman’s perspective of what works and what doesn’t work. Without further ado, I share with you a tactical guide to getting a girl’s number.


WHAT WORKS: Approaching a girl and asking her common questions like, A/S/L? I must have told at least 5 guys that we were from Arizona and I now live in Fullerton. *Yawn*.

WHAT WORKS BETTER: Small talk and basic get-to-know-you is okay, but what really stands out is when someone can spark a common interest or make an interesting observation off the bat. It is also refreshing when someone can show off their sense of humor or personality instead of interview you. Maybe I am annoyed by the interview questions because I’m a recruiter Monday-Friday. Leave me alone.

Example: A guy started asking a series of “Would you rather” questions. “Would you rather be fat with a beautiful face or have a model body with an ugly face?” … “Would you rather live life to the fullest and die at 35 or live a stable, ordinary life until 60?” … “Would you rather have hair all of your body and not be able to shave or be hairless everywhere?” The defensive shield lowered with every laugh.


 WHAT WORKS: Early on in the night when the room was empty, us three girls sat on the couches. We were engaging in conversation until a pot head randomly sat down on one end and proceeded to have a conversation with Ms. Hot Commodity. This approach was okay, as he ended up conversing for around 15 minutes. Apparently he was pretty deep with the aid of Mary Jane.

WHAT WORKS BETTER: A really outgoing, confident dude came up to all three of us on the dance floor. What was really smooth about this approach was he didn’t single any one of us out. But what he was able to pick up from this conversation was that I was in a relationship, another was engaged, and only one was available. Even then, he continued to engage with the engaged girl, making jokes like, “How did I not notice that? Look at that ring. That must be a VS2.” Girls look to their girlfriends for approval and by being friendly with a girl’s girlfriends, you’ve just made allies. Plus, if you are able to learn multiple girls are single, you can then make your move instead of strike out with the, “Sorry. I have a boyfriend.” move. Often told by single girls as a shield.

WHAT DOESN’T WORKA dude literally came up to me and introduced himself as we shook hands. The next question he asks is, “Where are you from?” As I internally sighed, I explain I’m from AZ but moved to Fullerton. He follows up with, “What made you move out here?” I replied, “For love.” What happened next? This fool literally walked away. Good luck getting close to my single friends!


 WHAT REALLY WORKS: Be genuinely nice.  There were a group of guys towards the end of the night who offered to buy us girls multiple drinks. But then one of them realized Miss Anonymous probably had reached her limit, and offered to get her water. Not just tap water but bottled water. This doesn’t really matter too much to me because when I’m dehydrated I could care less if it is filtered but bonus points to this super considerate nice guy.

By the way, this guy was the only one out of all the sausages who ended up leaving with a number. 🙂

dwight the office

#Winning

~Emily

Sorry, I’m in a Rush.

I am certain that if I moved to Seattle I would be an excellent writer. There is something about the pitter-patter and cup of black coffee that inspires me to open up a blank page and type.

This morning I woke up to a random email with the subject line: Hi Emily, Long Time No Talk. Curious, I opened it. It was Tom. He apologized for not being in touch lately, but wanted to know how I was doing. It turns out Tom wasn’t doing so well. He lost a lot of his investments while on vacation and didn’t have enough money to return back to the states. He asked if I could wire any funds via Western Union. “If you can’t help out with more, a thousand dollars would be really helpful so I can buy a plane ticket.”

Are you shitting me, Tom? First, I wish I had a thousand dollars so I could repair my damaged car. Second, the only friend I ever had named Tom was on social media. Yes, the one who had 75.9 million friends before they all ditched him for Mark (Zuckerberg).

Tom Anderson Myspace

Tom Anderson from Myspace.com

I was shocked. Someone actually expends their energy in crafting these emails and takes the time to spam strangers with it. The more I thought about it, the angrier I got.  Because this email landed in my inbox, it meant that these schemers must be successful. I guarantee you no one does this as a hobby. Then, going through my daily morning routine, I opened up the New York Times and came across this article titled Swindlers Target Older Women on Dating Websites. The article interviews the strangers who threw away their life savings because they were either too kind, too trusting, too naive, too much of a Good Samaritan. I felt sad when picturing these lonely, desperate women deceptively charmed because they were chasing the feeling of love and companionship.


I was once naive, but I will never have testimonies like these women. Even after being held up at gun point two times in my high school days, I still believed that everyone had a good heart. It wasn’t until the third time I was held up at gun point that I realized maybe people have to earn the label good-hearted.

As I grew older, I grew more cynical. I remember the other day I was walking around Little Tokyo and a well-dressed man came up to me and asked if he could borrow my phone to look up the name of the restaurant he was supposed to meet his friends at. His phone battery had died and he didn’t have access to his email, but knew it was in the vicinity. I thought about the many times my phone died and how I could have easily been in his shoes, but the cautious side of me replied, Sorry. I’m in a rush.

Then, another man crossing the intersection next to me told me I was beautiful and I had a nice purse. I could feel myself walking quicker and holding my purse tighter. “Do you want to have a drink with me at a bar?” Sorry. I’m in a rush.

I feel sad that I am so skeptical of people’s characters until they can prove that they are decent human beings. Maybe I fear more because I am a woman who can only lift 10 pound weights in each hand. My mentality has shifted from innocent until proven guilty to guilty until proven innocent. Maybe it’s because all the news reports are the rapists, the kidnappers, the sexual assaulters, the murderers.

Does anyone else feel this jaded about humanity?

Emily

P.S. – Woo! I am definitely moving to Seattle. Chris just asked if we should eat pho for dinner. It must be because it’s a rainy day!

Pho Tai Bo Vien from Pho 45 in Garden Grove - Yummiest!

Pho Tai Bo Vien from Pho 45 in Garden Grove – Yummiest!

Should Parents Post Photos of Their Children on the Internet?

I stumbled across an interesting AskReddit thread posing the following question:

Within the next 10 years, a generation of children whose parents posted their entire lives online, without their consent, will become young adults. How do you think they’ll feel about it?

Pause. Think about that. It is a really great question. We all know from this article titled, “How Many Kids Do You Want?”, I am rather dog obsessed and not child obsessed. My only “child”, a 5 year old, is very hairy, walked from day one, and still hasn’t talked. Do I post photos of Kang Kang online? Hell yes… he has more followers than I do (follow him!). Do I ask him if I can snap photos and post him on social media? Hell no! But again, he is a dog and he can’t talk back. This is why dogs are man’s best friends and “children”.

IMG_2857

@oclhasa — doing what he does best: act cute!

But would I care as a human being? The best way to answer this personally is to think back through all of my photo albums sitting in my mother’s home. You know, the Polaroid and Kodak moments where every snap counted because you only had limited film. As a baby, I was often told I looked like a monkey… I had fine, static-infused hair that stood straight up, huge cheeks and deer-in-headlights eyes. My mother also had an interest in taking naked photos of me. I often wondered if Instagram was around in the 80’s, would I go viral as @NakedMonkeyBaby? Transitioning into a pre-teen, things were not looking up in the appearance department. I had awful hand me downs from my older brother who was 7″ taller. His shorts were my high-waters when high-waters weren’t in. I often cried, “Why can’t you be a sister?!” I wore these really ugly coke-bottle glasses with metal frames that took over half my face (you can’t even pass them off as hipster). I grew up surrounded by 4 male cousins and as a result turned into a bit of a tomboy. There is actually a photo of me at a park in the scorching AZ summer – topless – with 4 topless boys. I have to admit I could really pass off as a boy, especially with my identical bowl-shaped hair cut that matched my brothers. My hair was never brushed and I never wore dresses. As a teenager, things started finally looking up. I started to blossom and became more confident. I was able to save up my own money and bought new clothes that actually fit. In the final year of high school, I registered for a Facebook account and started posting photos of my teenage self on my own. I liked having the say in which photos were Facebook-worthy and which were to be deleted and never surfaced on the web.

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Brother & I (with monkey hair)

Going back to the original question, I think it’s safe to say I’m just thankful my parents still don’t know how to use the photo function on Facebook. My response is out of sheer embarrassment of being an ugly duckling monkey growing up. I’m not sure if I would feel differently if I were cute or pretty. What I can say though is I do enjoy gathering in the living room with family and friends, browsing through physical photo albums, and allowing them to laugh at my expense. There is something sentimental about not having all of your photos visible to just anyone online. Funny side note: My mom is on Facebook and she is my friend. I once posted a photo of my brother and I. She commented, “Good picture. Put on Facebook.” This illustrates how technically savvy they are (thank God).

My advice to parents if they want to post photos of their kids is 2-fold: 1.) Make sure it is a flattering photo – save the embarrassing ones for a private album and 2.) Make sure metadata or geolocation settings are disabled. When I posted photos of Kang Kang on Instagram I had my “Add to Photo Map” setting on. Chris pointed it out and said to remove it because if you zoom in you can actually see where we live! It’s pretty spot on. God forbid any dognapper knowing my routine over the course of 10 posts and one day dognapping him! Apparently there are stories of this happening to children so be diligent. The other thing to consider is your photos can end up anywhere as you’ve given permission when you accept the Terms & Conditions on sites like Facebook. There was a Facebook lawsuit when a girl realized her face was part of a sponsored advertisement photo. Facebook won (surprise!); lucky for the girl it wasn’t an STD campaign. Oh, and don’t forget about the creepers. Child pornography exists. I would be mortified if my physical photo albums ever become Facebook albums. Which leads me to the next point – don’t accept friend requests from strangers. I keep getting weirdos inviting me to be friends. To which I say:

DeleteDeleteDelete

Let’s discuss! What are your thoughts to this question?

Forever Young

The sun was setting as Emily and I stood in the crowd at the main stage. It was Friday, the first night of BottleRock Napa Valley: a music festival in its third year, located in a place that’s known more for grapes and sommeliers than rock and hip-hop music. We watched as Imagine Dragons played their songs with a flurry of smoke and lighting effects behind them to accentuate the music. In the middle of their set, the elaborate lighting tricks briefly came to a halt as Dan Reynolds sang a cover of Alphaville’s Forever Young. The song choice felt a bit odd, but I didn’t think too much about it. His version wasn’t as good as the original, but it never is, unless you have chops like Jimi Hendrix (All Along the Watchtower) or Amy Winehouse (Valerie).

Fast forward to Sunday night, and No Doubt, the headliner of the festival, stepped onto the stage. Their set was filled with songs that have become familiar to millions since the mid-90’s, and with good reason. These are hit songs from a top-class band, and no one embodies the earned confidence of over twenty years of success more than Gwen Stefani. She sang with the same power this past weekend as she did when the band recorded Tragic Kingdom. She moved with the same swagger of the pre-married, pre-maternal Gwen of the 90’s.

But really I was most flabbergasted by how she not only looked just as she had twenty years ago, but she somehow looks even better now.

Gwen Stefani at BottleRock Napa Valley, 5/31/2015

Gwen Stefani at BottleRock Napa Valley, 5/31/2015

How can this be? Is life unfair? What am I doing with myself? Several times in between songs, Gwen looked in amazement at the tens of thousands of us in the crowd and asked, Is this real?, wondering how so many would still come to see her band play. Looking at Gwen, I kept asking myself, Are you real? How does a 45-year-old mother of three look like that?

I pondered about this for a while, since that’s what we do here at A Couple Talks: ponder about shit. I came to a few conclusions.

The first, and most obvious, conclusion is that she simply makes a lot of effort to take care of herself. Gwen has said that her secret to looking good is torturing herself. This is not torture of the William Wallace variety, but a torture of the hedonist inside of us. We love junk food and calorie-filled beverages despite knowing that these things are like steroids for Father Time. We give into the pleasures of now but suffer the consequences of later. It’s a simple concept: eat healthy foods, exercise regularly, and stay clean.

The second, and somewhat depressing, conclusion is genetics. Some, like Gwen, have always looked great and will continue to look great because they have won the genetic lottery. This is not to discredit those that have painstakingly worked to stay fit, but having a biological edge certainly counts for something. On the other hand, if one didn’t get so lucky in this department, it doesn’t mean he or she is lost cause; it just means that more “torturing” is required.

The third conclusion is one that often isn’t thought about when it comes to keeping a youthful look. I don’t personally know Gwen Stefani and I haven’t read too much about her, but this is what I believe to be true: she loves her life. She is driven by things that excite and inspire her, like music and fashion. She doesn’t wake up everyday to a dull existence of sitting in a cubicle from nine to five. She is kicking the shit out of life, and it shows in her youthful energy and appearance.

Most people think looks are beyond our control: we are either blessed or cursed with what our parents handed to us, they say. I’m not too sure that’s true; in fact, I believe quite the opposite: some of how we look is not in our hands, but a lot of it is. If we value the lives we lead, we will take more care for ourselves. To me, this is Gwen’s greatest attribute: not the powerful vocals, the eloquent lyrics, or the trend-setting fashion, but the vigor and drive that permeates her life, and it shows. Maybe she will be forever young; I wouldn’t put it past her.

– Chris.

No More Thong Song

The year 2000 was a different time. Smartphones didn’t exist. There was no such thing as social media. The World Trade Center stood tall in the Manhattan skyline.

I was a senior in high school, and Sisqo’s Thong Song dominated the airwaves during that year. Everyone loved it. The girls enjoyed the catchy tune, and the guys, well, one can easily see why we loved it too. For seventeen year old guys with hormones bouncing around our insides like Pop Rocks inside our mouths, the music video was something else. A short, platinum-haired guy bouncing around women in glow-in-the-dark bikini’s? Yes please (As a side note, if LL Cool J makes a cameo in a music video like he does at the 2:31 mark below, you know it’s about to get real sexual).

If they weren’t already, thongs were brought into male consciousness as a result. The thong industry and guys with ass fetishes should give a big thank you to Sisqo for his efforts. Women started wearing thongs more and more; I would suspect some were motivated to feel more self-empowered and others wanted to attract men.

Today, an article was published by the New York Times: Young Women Say No to Thongs. It details a new movement of women opting for fully covered cotton underwear, abandoning the thongs that have been en vogue for the past decade and a half. These women are choosing comfort and practicality over fashion they believe is designed to appeal to men. There’s a popular line of underpants that have the word “feminist” printed on the back (oh yes, the F Word is brought up). The core of the movement which has gained a cult following is for women to dress for themselves and stop aiming to please other people.

I am all for people dressing for themselves. Women and men should have their own fashion sensibilities; whether we like it or not, the way we dress says something about who we are. Women who like wearing granny-panties should wear them despite what others may say, just as men should wear sweater vests if they feel so inclined despite public mockery.

There must be, however, plenty of women who wear thongs simply because they enjoy wearing them. It’s flat-out incorrect to generalize by saying all women wear thongs to appeal to men. As the article suggests, this movement towards fully covered underwear should be about variety– if a woman prefers more “coverage,” she should feel comfortable enough to do so.

Besides, men should just be excited that they can see women in underwear, period. If a man is getting intimate with a woman and gets suddenly turned off by her underpants, it’s time for him to be put on panty-timeout.

– Chris.

A Buyer’s Remorse

Emily and I went to the mall this past Memorial Day weekend. The usual hordes of shoppers occupied the walkways and shops. I decided to bring a book with me to pass time while Emily shopped. I sat on a bench and in between reading chapters of Stephen King’s The Stand I looked out at the crowd and felt a bit somber. Society has turned us into mindless hoarders and consumers, I thought.

Who can blame us, though? The Internet enables us to see ads of the newest gadgets and the latest fashion 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Holidays have turned into sales opportunities: what better way to remember our fallen soldiers than with a 40% discount at Nordstrom? Facebook and Twitter feeds have been overtaken with businesses pitching their products. Even individuals themselves are becoming advertisements, hence the birth of the fashion blogger. We have become the all-consuming, all-accumulating culture of retail.

I couldn’t help but wonder if any of this mattered. A man down the hall dropped $10,000 on a Rolex even though he could simply check the time with his phone. A woman across the way spent $1,000 on a Louis Vuitton wallet- yes, we spend money to be able to hold our money. I can’t judge- it’s their money- but still, am I alone in finding this level of vanity to be excessive?

Eventually, I was inside the aforementioned Nordstrom, walking around with an 800-page book in my hand. People were sifting through the racks of clothes, others stood in line for the fitting rooms, and employees were busy ringing customers up. An older man stood by the TV and watched sports highlights, waiting for his wife to finish looking at shoes. Emily was on the other side of the floor looking at makeup, and I contemplated the futility of everything.

Then I spotted a nice shirt, waited for a fitting room, liked what I saw, and promptly dropped $60 for it. Let the self-loathing begin.

– Chris.

Pitch Perfect 2 (2015) – A Man’s Review

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

They surely had that in mind when they made Pitch Perfect 2. The sequel to the surprisingly successful 2012 a capella movie followed the same script: a floundering musical performance in the beginning, a struggle to find identity in the middle, and an epic a capella number of a lifetime in the end. I’m not alerting for spoilers because it doesn’t matter if viewers know the ending; the point of movies like this is the ride, not the destination.

The first Pitch Perfect had all the makings of a movie I would totally despise. A movie about an all-female collegiate a capella group doesn’t scream must-see to me at all; that just reminds me of Glee. Who needs to see that shit?

But something strange happened: I enjoyed the first movie. These girls can really sing, and the dorky tone of the movie had a certain charm to it. The movie knew it was ridiculous and didn’t take itself seriously, but instead chose to have a self-deprecating tone. And Rebel Wilson. She’s the female answer to Zach Galifianakis-a comedian with a deadpan game so strong it will make the most hardened of people LOL (we also think she would make a great Disney princess).

I left the movie theater after watching Pitch Perfect 2 thinking that I could’ve waited for this movie to be on Netflix. The story was a complete retread of the first movie; it seemed as if Universal Pictures decided to show the same ‘ol song and dance again because they knew it would sell.

As a result, most of the jokes in the movie didn’t work because these were basically the same jokes being told a second time. How many times will we find humor in men being unreasonably into a capella? Will we always find minority and lesbian jokes amusing? This movie proved that the answer is an emphatic no.

If it wasn’t for Rebel Wilson’s reprise of Fat Amy, I would deem Pitch Perfect 2 unwatchable. She put the entire movie on her back with another great performance, hitting all the right comedic notes throughout. This is art imitating life: Fat Amy believes she carries the Barden Bellas in the way that Rebel Wilson carries the entire movie. Once again, she crushed it.

I wouldn’t recommend people to see Pitch Perfect 2, just like I wouldn’t have recommended people to see The Hangover 2. The sequel could have been much more than it is had the filmmakers been more vigilant about providing a fresh spin on the story of the Barden Bellas. Instead, they chose to rehash the same plot points, resulting in an aca-underwhelming viewing experience.

– Chris.

The F Word

This past Sunday, the most recent episode of Game of Thrones aired, ending in cringe-worthy fashion.  A female character was raped on her wedding night after being forced into a marriage. The scene set the Internet ablaze with complaints and protests about the show’s depiction of women. The upset viewers cried, “Did she need to be raped in order to keep her character interesting?” Thrones, an adaptation of the widely popular book series A Song of Ice and Fire, is deviating from the book’s story more and more.  In the book, this female character wasn’t raped; this particular scene was added by the TV showrunners. As a result, many viewers who saw this scene as gratuitous and sexist are vowing never to see another episode.

Beyond female nude scenes and gender roles on TV shows, a broader topic has emerged to the surface-feminism. What is feminism? Who is qualified to speak about feminism? Are men allowed to chime in on women’s rights, or are we all inherently the oppressor because we are males?

I’ve seen tweets throughout the week from women urging other women to ignore the opinions of men when it comes to feminism because they are not us. I posted a question on my Facebook-Can men be feminists? Women responded with Yes and Absolutely. This role of men in feminism has been debated by women for years.

My belief is this: feminism exists because there’s an imbalance in society. I am fully aware that women have it much worse than men do in general terms. Women have to bear children-that sucks. Women are constantly degraded to being nothing but sexual objects by men-that sucks. The vast majority of domestic violence and sexual harassment in the workplace occurs at the expense of women-that really sucks. Perceptions and stereotypes also affect women: If a woman is quiet in the office, she’s often considered timid and lacking in leadership qualities, whereas a quiet man may be looked at as introspective and refined.

In my opinion, feminism is the belief that women deserve the same basic rights as men do. I also believe that it’s very important to be wary of generalizations when it comes to men and women: not all men are creeps and misogynists, and not all feministic women despise men.


The biggest badass on the planet right now is probably Ronda Rousey. She has risen to the top of the mixed martial arts world, obliterating the competition along the way. She has dispatched her opponents so quickly that entire fights can be shown on a single Instagram post. Sports Illustrated, the magazine that normally puts women on their covers because they’re wearing bikinis, recently put Rousey on the cover with the headline: Ronda Rousey Is The World’s Most Dominant Athlete. I tend to agree.

Ronda Rousey is on top of the sports world.

Ronda Rousey is on top of the sports world.

But even Rousey isn’t impervious to gender biases. She continues to get asked from time to time, “Why are you single?” Some may believe the underlying message behind the question is a compliment-You’re successful, attractive, and men must throw themselves at you, so how do you not have a man? Others, however, may see the question as a gender-biased slight, inferring that something must be wrong with her since she’s single while, on the other hand, successful, famous single men are celebrated for being such ballers and pimps.

Rousey has said that she never intended to be an example for women, but that’s exactly what she has become-a role model. She is a woman at the top of a predominantly male field. Dana White, the president of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), once famously said that women will never fight in the UFC; he has since changed his tune dramatically. Ronda Rousey was merely pursuing a passion of hers, blocking out any noise about her gender. She now realizes that she is doing much more than that. This 15-minute segment on Rousey by HBO’s Real Sports is worthwhile to watch:


I do believe in gender equality, just as I believe in racial and sexual orientation equality. But is saying that enough? What role should men play in this battle?

I don’t want this to be a woe-is-me situation; I know that the world’s smallest violin is playing for me. Like many things related to women, I’m just left wondering.

 

– Chris.

 

Checkout Charities – To Donate or Not To Donate?

TJ Maxx Home Goods Cashier: OK. So total today comes to $86.43.
Me: OK. I’ll put it on my credit card.
TJ Maxx Home Goods Cashier: Would you like to donate to Save the Children Foundation today?
Me: No thanks.
TJ Maxx Home Goods Cashier: Are you sure?
Me: *awkwardly* …Yes.
TJ Maxx Home Goods Cashier: [in a condescending voice] Okay. (Shoves me my bags of pillows and other decorative items clearly necessary for daily survival.)

It’s not that I don’t care for children despite my article of potentially never wanting to have children of my own. The same interaction generally happens at Petsmart, except there is no human asking you if you would like to donate, it’s on the credit card screen as:

Would you like to donate to your local humane society?
No Thanks   $1   $2   $3   Other

That is smart. Automated computers never get tired or forget to ask the question. The man in front of me donated, and as the cashier handed him his receipt, he announced, “Thank you for your generous donation today.” Then it was my turn to be rung up. *Gulp*. Now that my wallet is out and it’s clear I have $60 to spend on Kang Kang’s grooming, I should donate at least a dollar to a poor homeless dog, shouldn’t I? I’m sure the woman behind me heard the other man’s donation. Will she judge me and think I am a selfish, awful human being with no heart if I click that ‘No Thanks’ button? Will the cashier smile at me the same way he smiled at the donating man?

That is the problem I have with Checkout Charities. It has capitalized on human psychology and was invented to make a consumer feel trapped, guilted, and selfish if they decline on donating. I once asked a cashier at Albertson’s, “Can you tell me more about this charity? What percentage of the donations go to the actual charity? How much of it goes towards their cause?” She didn’t know how to answer a single question, not even the mission. Well, that is just fantastic.

It really is astounding. According to Cause Marketing Forum’s report, retailers raised $358.4 million in 2012 through this method. Its great for retailers because it makes them look like they actually care about non-profits and great for non-profits because they can profit. All the meanwhile the donations come from the consumer who really has no idea where the money is flowing to.

An article came out in the NY Times recently, titled ‘4 Cancer Charities Are Accused of Fraud‘. Everyone can relate to knowing someone who has been affected by cancer, right? Its devastating and we all want to find a cure or at least make the cancer patients remaining life better. So we slap pink ribbons on everything and hundred of millions of donation dollars later, there goes the executives taking a trip to Disneyworld… without the cancer patients. Only 3% of proceeds actually went to cancer patients?  This is ludicrous.

Not to be confused with Ludacris, a rapper.

Going back to human psychology, I find it really interesting that many stores now ask, “Would you like to round up your change to the next dollar?” I almost always say yes on this one. I don’t know what it is about nice whole round numbers. And for some reason knowing you are donating less than a dollar almost makes it feel like 0. What? My total is $3.01? Sure, let’s round that to $4. Add 99 cents …pfft that’s not even enough to buy a junior cheeseburger post tax.

Anyways, my point is, don’t get scammed into donating. Donate to causes you care about and donate anonymously. Unless you’re in the PAC party, there’s no need to share with the public who you support unless your end goal is to get others to donate to your cause you’ve researched and feel passionate about. Look at every charity as if they are a homeless drunk man asking you for a dollar. Would you trust this person?

Let’s discuss! To donate or not to donate?

– Emily

Reality Bites (1994) – A Second Look

“Don’t look back. You can never look back” – Don Henley, The Boys of Summer.

Some sentiments last a lifetime. Memories from the past become immortalized into permanent nostalgia. It can be a first kiss of a high school crush, a college graduation, or seeing a favorite band perform live. Movies also act in this way: whenever The Shawshank Redemption or Pulp Fiction comes on the screen, I am compelled to keep watching. I get brought back to the 90’s all over again, as if I was watching these movies for the first time. I still love them just as much today; watching Andy reunite with Red (spoiler alert) and hearing Jules recite The Bible before shooting Brad are scenes that stand the test of time. Coincidentally, Reality Bites was released in 1994, the same year as both The Shawshank Redemption and Pulp Fiction. But unlike the two classics, my feelings towards this movie are quite different today from the past.

I actually saw Reality Bites about seven years after it was released: I was only 12 when it first came out. It’s about four friends in Texas, freshly graduated from college, and faced with the reality of adulthood. Lelaina is a struggling filmmaker; Troy is a rebellious musician; Vickie is a promiscuous Gap employee; and Sammy is a closeted homosexual in the conservative State. Lelaina is making a documentary about their lives when she eventually meets Michael, a TV executive who wants to date her and air her documentary on his channel. She agrees to both, but the edits made to Lelaina’s documentary by Michael’s producers represent the commercialization and artistic compromising of Corporate America that she and her three friends despise. Predictably, Lelaina and Troy were in love with each other the whole time and they end up together.

Back then, I thought the four friends represented a cool counter-culture of artistic integrity, a purity of youth, and an anti-establishment spirit that wasn’t motivated by money. Today, these characters seem less sophisticated and more misguided and naïve. Troy used to be a man of principles, but now he comes off as a rebel without a cause. Lelaina was an underground documentarian with an original idea, but maybe she was just a novice filmmaker who lacked the skills to make a good product. Michael was a sellout who was kowtowing to The Man, but should we overlook his strong work ethic and ambition? Lelaina, Troy, and her friends are dreamers, and I appreciate that, but what’s a dream without direction and drive? If the movie showed Troy approaching record labels in an attempt to get his music picked up or Lelaina going to different directors to get the tips of her trade, I would have more respect for them. Instead, they spent less time doing and more time complaining and lamenting. There is no replacement for hard work: that is where passion lies.

I will say, however, that the music of Reality Bites continues to bring me back my younger days. Lisa Loeb’s Stay was a colossal hit back in the 90’s. Lelaina and Vickie singing Squeeze’s Tempted in the car is still a great scene, and perhaps the most memorable scene of all occurs when Lelaina, Vickie, and Sammy break into a spontaneous dance craze to My Sharona in a local gas station.

It’s a funny thing to revisit something from the past, and a funnier thing, still, to realize that the sentiment has changed.  Our past feelings are different because we are different. Whether it’s due to the callousness or maturity of adulthood, we will look back and change our minds about the past. I imagine the Baby Boomers have a similar experience with The Graduate as I do with Reality Bites: what was once a movie about young adults with youthful exuberance and hope is now a movie about kids who don’t really know a damn thing about life because they haven’t lived enough yet. Perhaps that is why Don Henley urges us not to look back-we may not like what we see.

– Chris.