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Electrick Children

I don’t go to the movies often.

Most of the time, the movies playing at the theaters are all regurgitated versions of the same story. I don’t really like action movies, I hate the horror genre, and is there really going to be a better rom-com than When Harry Met Sally or Sabrina (the Audrey Hepburn version, of course)?

But it’s not like I never go to see a movie. I’m in a relationship, after all, and that’s part of the job description: going to the movies with your significant other. But I am very selective about what movies I choose to see at the theater.

Independent movies – that’s my shit.

I know, it’s a super art-pussy thing to say that I love indie films, but it’s true. I like seeing different. I like seeing creativity. I like seeing movies that take chances and aren’t diluted by the multi-billion dollar Hollywood entertainment industry. Give me something done by a struggling artist; it’s in times of struggle where art really transcends.

Which leads me to Electrick Children (2012). I got to watch this a few days ago when I was home alone. Emily really hates my taste in movies because she has an overall lack of imagination when it comes to the big screen. Yeah, that’s right I said it.

Back to the movie. No spoilers here, but it’s about a young Mormon teenage girl who runs away from home after finding out that she’s pregnant. That’s all I’ll say about the story. Hopefully, you’ll see it for yourself (It’s on Netflix, so even the laziest of you blog-reading slobs can muster up the effort to put it on your TV).

This movie is the directorial debut for Rebecca Thomas, who also wrote the screenplay. She was in her twenties when it came out, and she was raised up as a Mormon herself. What does this mean? Being young, Thomas was just dumb enough to make a movie like this, and it came from a personal perspective.

Think about that last sentence – I could have replaced Thomas with Scorsese to describe Mean Streets or Coppola to describe The Godfather. That’s all I need to know about this movie – I’m in.

The movie itself was, well, odd. But I like odd. Odd is good. Not in the “Oh this guy approaching me at the bar is a super weird creep” way but in the “Oh this guy approaching me at the bar isn’t throwing me the same ‘ol stupid pickup line” way, kapish?

One of the main actors in this movie is Rory Culkin. That’s right – I didn’t say Macaulay Culkin, I didn’t even say Kieran Culkin – it’s the third fucking Culkin brother. I am always team lesser famous sibling – Kevin Dillon, Elizabeth Olsen, and Frank Stallone come to mind.

Music. There’s a song that’s featured prominently throughout the movie. It’s an obscure new wave rock song by The Nerves called “Hanging On The Telephone.” Certain songs can really make a movie, can’t they? When I think of the movie Drive all I hear is the great song by College, “A Real Hero.” “Hanging On The Telephone” has the same effect with this movie. The version that gets played ends up being a cover by Flowers Forever:

An indie film made by a first-time writer/director featuring a C-List actor and a kickass song. I realize this post was a massive advertisement for this movie, but I really did enjoy it.

I mean, c’mon, let’s see some other shit than the typical Hollywood dross.

– Chris

 

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The N-Word in Hip-Hop

I’ve been listening to one album nonstop lately: Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly.

Here’s a disclaimer: by no means am I an expert in hip-hop.

Hip-hop is such a polarizing topic. People will get into fights over this shit – which MC is better, East Coast vs. West Coast, is this rapper underground enough. It’s similar to jazz, Kobe Bryant, and craft beer – a casual conversation about it can quickly escalate into a heated debate.

With my limited knowledge of hip-hop and rap music, I feel like Kendrick Lamar is the most significant rapper since the late Tupac Shakur. Sorry Jay-Z fans, don’t stone me. I didn’t think Kendrick would follow up good kid, m.A.A.d City with an album as brilliant as this, but that’s what the greats do.


As much as I enjoy Kendrick’s music, I still face this eternal dilemma: he says the n-word a whole bunch.

I understand rappers using the word, but what is an Asian guy like me supposed to do when he comes across a rap song like Kanye West and Jay-Z’s Ni**as in Paris? Guess I’ll just bounce to the music, silently.

I, myself, don’t get offended when people hit me with racial slurs. I equate someone coming up to me and calling me a gook the same as if that person were to call me a jerk. It’s just a word to me. I find making generalizations based on ethnicity to be far more insulting. Tell me I have a micro-penis because I’m Asian; yeah, that’s way worse.

But, when it comes to the n-word, I’m on the outside, so it’s not my call. I get it though; this is such a complex issue that there are so many differing opinions about the use of it. Who fucking knows.

However, the question still remains. Would it be okay to say the n-word to music if we were in a safe place? It seemed to work out for the girls in White Chicks (one of the funniest movies ever, by the way):

For what it’s worth, my favorite take on this issue so far comes from Chris Rock.

The key is probably to not offend anyone. People talk shit about other races all the time. That’s fine, I don’t think that makes someone racist, because usually it’s just a joke. If the shit talking comes from a place of superiority and hate, then there’s a big problem. I do think society can be way too sensitive about race at times. Am I going to get enraged when Sarah Silverman says an Asian joke? Should I wag my finger at her and tell her that she can’t say that because she’s not Asian? I say who cares, just make the joke funny and it’s all good.

I doubt this issue will be completely solved in any of our lifetimes. Race relations in this country will continue to be complicated, confusing, and complex for the next hundred years. All we can do is cultivate our personal tolerance and acceptance of each other. We may as well embrace each other’s cultures while we’re at it.

I mean, shit, I live in LA, the city where we learn to hate everyone equally. That’s what I call #tolerance.

– Chris

 

Facebook Unfriending Is Awesome

I hate Facebook.

At least that’s what I thought. Over the years, this social media platform has become a wasteland of SPAM, meaningless status updates, and photos intended to promote one’s coolness.

Social media. It’s such a strange phenomenon – we can share ideas, photos, and events with friends, yet nowadays it’s a measuring stick for popularity, or unpopularity, as is the case for most of the world.

Thirsty? Go on social media. Want acquaintances to FOMO? Go on social media.


The other day, I was on Facebook and clicked on the “People You May Know” section.

I was quite horrified at what I saw.

How. The. Fuck. does Facebook know that I may know these people? The group was a weird mix from all over the place, mostly those that I don’t care to see.

It was like seeing a bad dream on my laptop screen.

I hate how smart the Internet is, oh but I love it too. C’est la vie.


It’s funny how an attitude adjustment can change the entire outlook of something.

My disdain for Facebook had gradually crescendoed into full-on loathing over the years. Then, at that moment, as I was on the “People You May Know” section, it hit me. The proverbial lightbulb went off.

Facebook was shit because I made it shit.

Why do I have all these friends? Why am I connected to so many people who I couldn’t care less about? What’s this need for everyone to accumulate more and more friends?

The solution was easy.

That night, I purged my friends list, unfriending over half of my so called friends. The ones I unfriended were a combination of: assholes, people I no longer cared to keep in touch with, people who polluted my feed with all sorts of bullshit, boring individuals, my family, etc. (just kidding about the family, I am so glad my parents are computer illiterate)

What was the result? Apparently, I have way less friends now. But c’mon, who really has hundreds of friends? Show me someone who does; I almost guarantee that I’ll hate that person.

But, my Facebook looks exponentially improved. There’s a lot less selfies and baby pictures now, which is great.

I’m not opposed to someone showing photos of their child, but every damn day? (Emily has gone over this already.)

God bless Jimmy Kimmel. He’s already celebrated National Unfriend Day for 5 years now. But I didn’t want to wait until November 17 to start cleansing my social media.

Over the years I had grown more hesitant to share anything on Facebook for the simple reason that I had so many friends that I didn’t want to share my shit with.

I actually enjoy people sharing photos, opinions, and ideas on Facebook, as long as they are honest and uncontrived.

I posted this message with my remaining friends after my purge, which felt amazing. It was a simple effort to control my content and to eliminate any unnecessary baggage.

Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 8.25.29 PM

What if everyone was friends with their actual friends? Imagine that.

– Chris.

 

Life’s a Bitch and Then You Die

I’ve been hearing a lot about death these days.

The other day, my college roommate told me he was coming back to the LA area for a few days. When I asked him what for, he told me that he and his wife are coming back to attend his wife’s grandfather’s funeral.

He suffered a stroke while driving which led to a fatal car accident.

A few weeks ago, I called a close friend of mine at noon on a Thursday. I was driving through Culver City and I wanted to see if he wanted to grab lunch. When he picked up the phone, he told me that he couldn’t because he was back in Orange County with his family.

His family discovered that his mom had a malignant tumor on her pancreas and that she needed to go to surgery as soon as possible.

The other day, another college roommate mentioned that it’s been ten years since his father passed away.

He died of cancer. The roommate and I were in our early twenties when he passed.

Last night, I was browsing through the Internet and came across an article by Brandon Huffman, a sportswriter who covers West Coast college athletics.

He and his wife discovered that their 6-year-old daughter Avery has a brain tumor that is inoperable.


I don’t know about everyone else, but I’m always left speechless when I hear about shit like this.

Emily frequently says that I can be very unresponsive at times to things she says. This, by the way, is the only resemblance I have to Don Draper.

But it’s true – I have no idea how to react sometimes, especially in matters of mortality.

Now that I’m in my thirties, I realize that our bodies eventually start to wear down, and eventually, deteriorate.

At the same time, hearing about little Avery just makes things look even more fucked up.

A song came into my head. Nas’s Life’s a Bitch:

I’m not the most well-versed hip-hop head, but even I can recognize that Illmatic is an all-time classic.

I also remembered a Reddit post from a user who had a terminal illness. I was moved and inspired by the words this user posted. I go back to read this post every once in a while to remind myself that you never know when you’re gonna go.

I know that there’s a big emphasis in our society to save money for retirement. We need to purchase a home in our twenties so that by the time we enter our fifties, the house is paid for.

But I also know that the future is promised for no one. In my opinion, we overvalue money too much while undervaluing time. Like I’ve written previously, time should be viewed as currency.

I think the point is this – do what you want to do, but have no regrets. Are we going to look back at our lives and be glad, or will we think about all the things we could have done during our time here?

No one can make our lives fulfilling but ourselves. In this world, good things and bad things happen to all of us. There’s no rhyme or reason when it comes to mortality. Like 2pac says, life goes on, so we might as well make the most of it.

– Chris.

Liquid Courage

I should know my limits by now.

Yet, every now and then I will revert to my twenty-year-old self. Back when I was a spring chicken, I would drink without noticing my increasing state of drunkenness, and without warning I would end up praying to the porcelain god.

I’d like to think that I’ve matured since then. My tolerance for the booze has lowered substantially. As a result, a buzz hits early and often, but this is just the warning sign I need. I can usually maintain a decent level of buzz for the night without it getting out of control.

But then there are nights like this past Saturday. Four IPA’s later, I had the genius idea to start drinking whisky. This is not recommended; remember the general rule of thumb:

Liquor before beer, you’re in the clear.

Beer before liquor, you’ve never been sicker.

One glass of Macallan 12 – neat of course, any self-respecting man shouldn’t drink whisky on the rocks; don’t be a pussy – would have left me just shy of oblivion. But alas, rookie mistakes still happen from time to time. I had just one more glass of Macallan, and that put me over the edge.

I would tell you what happened after that if I remembered. It was a #Blackout.


 

The next day, I went over the horrific details of the night’s end with Emily.

Some of the highlights include telling two friends that they should date each other – so not awkward – and a bar bouncer asking a friend if I’m alright – apparently I was running into people.

There was one thing that Emily pointed out which I found interesting. I asked her if I was at least being funny while I was drunk. Her response was:

One whisky Chris was good. Two whisky Chris was a hot mess.


 

A regular reader of this blog should be able to tell that I am constantly thinking about the state of men in terms of dating and interacting with women.

Saturday night got me thinking about how men often use alcohol for the purposes of girls. It’s called liquid courage – men use the buzz to give themselves the balls to approach and attempt seducing women. It’s why guys pregame before hitting the clubs.

Here’s my take on this issue – getting buzzed to talk to girls is an easy trick a guy can use, but it won’t make him better at talking to women, and that’s the key, really.

The good thing about alcohol is that for many of us, it will get us into a more talkative state. That’s a big plus for a single man looking to meet a woman out and about. No girl wants to have a conversation with a man and have it feel like talking to a wall.

Being buzzed can also help a man’s energy level. Most communication is nonverbal, and a lot of this is attributed to someone’s vibe. Be the friendly, positive energy guy, and a girl will give you the time of day, unless she’s miss antisocial or miss bitch. In that case, who needs her?

The bad thing about using alcohol is obvious – it impairs judgment. People are more incoherent and make less sense the more buzzed they get. They also forget things like a girl’s name, or other basic information that two strangers would exchange at a nighttime establishment. Men need to be in control of themselves and make sense when they meet women, so let’s not get trigger happy with the beverages.

I suppose the key is finding what works for you. Use drinking to be more social, not reckless. I’ll end it with a quote that we can all think about:

One shouldn’t drink to feel better, but to feel even better.

– Chris.

Thoughts On Approaching Girls

I went out Saturday night with two of my single male friends. We went out to a bar known for their great beer selection, modern industrial ambiance, and good music.

That was a complete lie. This bar is known for having lots of girls.

Long story short, nothing too exciting happened. Don’t get me wrong, we had a good time, but the night didn’t play out like a scene in Swingers. There was no engaging with beautiful babies, no smooth operating, no swing dancing to Big Bad Voodoo Daddy.

I wonder why my friends didn’t talk to any girls there. I am certain they wanted to. These are two good guys, eligible bachelors who have their personal and professional lives in good order.

I’m also certain that I wanted to stand back and watch my friends talk to girls. Few things are better than being a fly on the wall while witnessing a friend attempt to spit game. I was ready to be their dating hype man, a personal Flavor Flav, if you will.


She’s with a group of girls.

I need to drink a little bit more.

I don’t know what to say.

I’m tired.

Excuses. They’re reasons for men to stay in our comfortable nests. I heard each one of these excuses that night from my friends. Fear of rejection cripples a lot of men out there. Here’s a tip: rejection will happen. It’s like baseball: if you have a career batting average of .300, you’re going to the Hall of Fame.

Actually, that night a girl came up and started talking to me. We engaged in some usual chit chat (What are you drinking? Are you celebrating something? Blah blah blah) when her friend came up and said, “Who are you?“, not in a friendly way, but with a scowl. She said it more like in a get-the-fuck-out-of-here-you-potential-rapist kind of way. In addition to being super rude, she obviously didn’t know that A) I wasn’t hitting on her friend, and B) her friend actually came up to me.

I say this to illustrate that some girls will reject a man no matter what, and that men shouldn’t take rejection personally. These types of situations have more to do with them, not us, so simply move on and be glad that’s not our problem.

I’ve found that the best way to approach a girl is by simply saying Hi. Quite a revolutionary idea, isn’t it? As men, we tend to over-complicate things. We try to look two, three steps ahead but forget to be in the moment. Let’s just say hi and see where that goes.

What do I say next? It doesn’t really matter where the conversation goes. A man and a woman in a bar can pretty much talk about anything. Of course, people don’t usually talk about how the housing market crash has impacted our national economy over cocktails with house music blaring in the background. But it’s important to remember that we’re all people. We all have lives and think about shit. Just talk.

I know, it’s so easy to write this when I’m sitting on my high horse behind a computer screen. Trust me, in my time I’ve struck out more often than Ryan Howard. I don’t claim to be an expert by any means. These are simply personal opinions from someone who can relate to the struggle.

And besides, Ryan Howard has hit plenty of home runs in between the strikeouts. Who wants to just hit singles all the time?

– Chris.

Thoughts On Charleston

About a month ago, Emily and I drove to downtown Los Angeles. It was a drowsy, overcast Sunday morning and traffic was minimal. We were on our way to a friend’s graduation.

And then it happened. We got into a car accident. Fortunately, it was minor – no one got hurt – but by the reaction of the other driver, one would’ve thought the accident was an act of terrorism.

Once we collided, the other driver pulled up beside us, rolled down his window, and started yelling. “You fucking hit me! Pull the fuck over right now!” He actually hit us, for the record, but we did pull over. He jumped out of his car, stormed towards me, and the next words that came out of his mouth are the ones that I’ll remember forever.

Fucking Asian drivers.

He didn’t call me a gook, chink, or nip, but those probably would’ve been less offensive. His three words said a lot about him: here’s someone who has turned a stereotype into a truth in his world, and has thus accepted his own racism.


I’m shocked but I’m not shocked.

That was my reaction to hearing about what happened in Charleston. I’m shocked because these were people in a church. The victims included pastors and the elderly. Why would anyone target them to murder?

But my initial shock was quickly dissipated by the harsh reality that hit me that Sunday morning.

Racism is still alive.

In no way am I trying to equate what happened to Emily and I to what happened to the victims in Charleston. We’re alive and well; there’s no coming back for these church goers. We live in Southern California where the population is diverse, a cultural melting pot where acts of racism aren’t usually life threatening. The Confederate flag still flies in the air in Charleston.

Think about that: the Confederate fucking flag.

Courtesy of Sean Rayford - Getty Images

Courtesy of Sean Rayford – Getty Images

I will never live in the South. I’m sure there are a lot of great Southerners that live there – the term Southern hospitality exists for a reason. It’s these crazy motherfuckers that screw it up for everyone else. I’d rather not deal with that shit.

***

I think it’s disingenuous and absurd for people to simply point at guns. It feels like these people want to blame what happened on the easy access people have to firearms.

How about we look at the asshole who shot these people?

He was white, and he hated black people. It’s really that simple. Was he mentally ill? Yes. Did he have easy access to a gun? Yes. But the main issue is that his actions were led by his racist ideologies.


I must admit – I think Lynyrd Skynrd’s Free Bird is a great song.

But I’ll never be a fan of a band that so proudly waves the Confederate flag like they do. That flag represents the blood of thousands and a shameful period in this country’s history. It’s a reminder of the worst in humanity, to believe that we aren’t entitled to the same basic rights.

***

I don’t necessarily like Bill Maher. He’s a little too hateful towards religion and the Republican Party for my taste, and he once said the 9/11 attacks were not a cowardly act, which is ludicrous.

But I keep thinking about his words on racism today. People want to blame guns or mental illness for what happened in Charleston, but the underlying reason is, for lack of a better term, black and white.

– Chris.