Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Years!

Enjoy some cheese.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Don't shake it, I think it's a Sam.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Sam likes plants

I grew a Sam. This is exactly why I try
not to study in front of my computer.

Monday, November 22, 2010


I really need to check if my roommate's in the apartment before I start talking to myself.

That was embarrassing.

Sometimes my life is so uneventful that I should have a twitter account.

Friday, November 19, 2010



I walked to my apartment from the library, and just before I opened my door, I noticed that it was a lovely night. The sky was clear and the air felt cool and brisk so I decided to spend a little time outside my balcony. I leaned against the railings as I peered up at the moon, and I realized that I wasn't alone. Just above me perched a shaded bird, who appeared to be staring down at me. And against my better judgment, I raced inside my room and pulled out my camera to see what it was with the flash. And as you can see, it was an owl!

It's so cute that I want to pet it.

Eventually, my better judgment came over me, and I realized that I probably shouldn't take pictures of a bird that's staring directly at me with a bright [hopefully not blinding] flash. Sadly, my ornithological empathy came three pictures too late, and I hope I didn't hurt it too much.

I sheepishly went inside while still feeling giddy .. if not slightly guilty for ruining the owl's night.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Little About This Blog

I wrote a fairly long post about my recently posted video, but I deleted it because it was narcissist. You didn’t miss anything. I saved you from reading two pages of pretentious rambling. Actually, you should consider thanking me.

If I was completely honest with myself, I would admit there’s a perception of myself that I’d like to project onto this blog. And if I stop to think about how many people across the world will read this post, I’ll become self-conscious and concerned about every little thing that I write.

It’s worse for my videos, especially with the video about suicide. I mean, what do you say to someone who says that you saved their life? A part of me doesn’t feel adequate or qualified to comfort and support those people, even though they deeply feel like they can relate to me.

I honestly hope the best for them, really.

I wonder if its how Herman Melville felt when people asked him about whaling.

Recently, I took a personality test for a class. And even though it didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know, it made me think about perceptions on the internet. I think everyone tends to act a little differently depending on their surroundings, but the internet provides a mass outlet to explore different aspects of your personality since you’re technically anonymous and able to regulate everything that you present to people; you decide which pictures are shown or you can precisely articulate your thoughts and ideas.

And with all the anonymity that the internet provides, I’d initially assume that people would become more rounded with their personality or characteristics, especially with the chance to interact with such a wide verity of people and resources, but I think the internet forces people to become more linear with their thinking and perceptions.

Internet users have more identities, but those identities have become more limited in their social scope. I think it’s fairly common for one person to have multiple screen names on one social network. It allows people to explore different parts of their beliefs and social tendencies without the repercussions of harming their initial or original identity.

I think that allows people to act like assholes. It provides an excuse to act differently from how they would normally perceive themselves.

In Orson Scott Card’s ‘Ender’s Game,’ children spread their ideas through the internet by posing as adults, and actual adults debated their thoughts and ideas, which shaped how they perceived the world.

I think with the modern internet, we’re all pretending. We all have separate, anonymous identities that have no relation to our actual beliefs or self perception. It’s like that scene from ‘Out Cold’ where the two guys unknowingly cyber with each other on a lesbian chat room.

If I’m honest with myself, I’d admit that I care about how people perceive me on the internet. And not because I’m insecure or lonely, but because everyone cares just a little.

And in my blog, I want to write posts that will help me understand more about myself.

I want it to be real.


You're just bummed that I didn't draw a Thanksgiving dog.

Friday, November 12, 2010


...I'm easily amused.

Monday, October 18, 2010


[Update] Okay, now I really need to study.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Little About Myself

I'm an introvert, and I'm not a particularly interesting introvert either.

To be fair, interesting introverts would be people who hoard trash or psychopaths who skin squirrels on their free time. They'd be interesting to read about, but I wouldn't want to sit next to them on a bus. By the way, if you're on the same bus as them, you should be concerned about where you're headed.

No, I'm fairly normal, and I wouldn't divulge severely abnormal things about myself on the internet. Trust me, I have a few good ones, but that's between me and my doctor, and prospective therapists.

I slightly digressed.

It's weird how people define themselves and what they present to the general public as their self-identity. Some define themselves by their past or missed potential while others are more concerned with their looks, or their job, or their education. I wonder how much of it is intentional.

In today's post, I'm going to write a little about myself. None of it is important. I think it's weird that people need to be asked or tagged to tell random facts about themselves, it's like their looking for permission or an excuse to write about themselves on their own blog.

It's a blog. What else would you write about?

Personally, I don't think anyone's going to read this post because it doesn't involve Snoopy or a picture of a dog. I've looked at my stats; those are the only two posts with views.

First fact, I love movies. I think movies are more than just escapism; they're like mutually sharing memories with everyone in the theater or anyone who's ever seen the film. It's different from reading a book because your prescription of the novel depends on how you read it, whether it's read in one sitting or it's spread out over several weeks. Songs are the same way because their meaning can change depending on where you hear it or how you feel while listening to the music. Movies are different. Movies transports people into the lives and struggles of the protagonist, and at that very moment, everyone in the audience can share the same experience with the same actions and emotions as the person sitting next to them. It's like connecting with a group of stranger without knowing anything else about them except that one moment.

I'm watching 'Before Sunrise' again. I've seen in several times, it's one of my favorite movies. And although I love this movie, I'm mainly watching it because I'm extremely indecisive. I spent roughly an hour and a half looking through dozens of movies to watch before I started writing this post. I think it's my romanticism of movies, but I love browsing through movies and thinking about their plots and how they made me feel if I've seen them. It's like looking through past thoughts that have been long forgotten.

Usually I prefer dramas or independent romantic comedies. I like movies that make you feel like you gained some insight or knowledge about life, even if it's just a different perspective. And although I love compelling transcendental stories and characters, my favorite genre would have to be talking dogs. Think about it. Talking dogs are awesome. I thought 'Bolt' was amazing, 'Up' is easily my favorite Pixar movie, and I couldn't imagine my childhood without watching 'Homeward Bound' several dozen times.

I love pets. My family has had several dogs, a couple of hamsters, two chameleons, a turtle, a rabbit, and a few fishes. The fishes never lasted more than few days because I think we forgot to untie their plastic bags or we didn't lift them above the store's security doors. I've always loved dogs. They're sturdy. Playing with my parent's dog, Sam, is one of my favorite things to do when I visit home. It's such an unconditional love that's expressed without humility or repercussions. I think everyone regresses into a child when they talk about their beloved pets.

I had a few more things, but it's getting pretty late. Plus, there should be a little mystery saved for further discussions. In a way, I think that's one of life's beauties, the small attempt to connect and understand one another. Blogs might seem like repetitive, superficial information about strangers, but maybe the attempt to connect with people is all that matters.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Basic Food Groups

I'm watching 'Lost in Translation.' It's great because I left to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and I'm confident that I didn't miss anything. Recently, I noticed that the fast food restaurant on campus offers free jelly packets for their breakfast meals. Usually I buy a small container of peanut butter and sliced bread to make ham and cheese sandwiches so it was only a matter of time. I honestly believe peanut butter and jelly sandwiches has been the best invention since sliced bread, it's like the next evolutionary step in lunches. Actually, I believe bottled water is the best invention since sliced bread. It's such a weird cultural phenomenon.

Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are so much better than peanut butter sandwiches. My university used to sell peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for a dollar, and I used to think they were the best deals on campus. It was a great until other people started buying them, and they would sell out before noon. It was a weird balance between over sleeping and starving over cheap meals. College.

I tried a ramen noodle diet for several weeks, but I felt lethargic and light headed on a regular bases. That's when I realized a meal that cost less than a gumball probably wasn't a great idea.

You have to starve for your art sometimes, especially if you're a double science major with a minor in science.

If you prefer to eat, consider taking Plant Economics in college. At my university, we've tried everything that's edible and pertains to plant, except alcohol. You have to wait until after class to consume alcohol. We've tried several different nuts and peas and juices. We made bread yesterday, and if the lab wasn't so long and I didn't spend a couple hours in lectures and inoculating bacteria in clinical microbiology, it might have been a fun experience. At least our loaves turned out good.

I don't have a witty way to end this post, but I think I'll have a sugar-free fruit cup for desert.

**I tried to draw a food pyramid, but I failed miserable. You should thank me for sticking to dogs.

Monday, September 13, 2010

My name is Sam...

I spent a ridiculous amount of time drawing and editing this picture, you don't even want to know.
I made this picture to commemorate my video receiving a million views
...and I haven't played with Paint in a while
[Updated Sept. 15] .

Thursday, September 2, 2010

I Insist, After You.

Another post?

I try to over compensate.

Actually, I'm planning to write an email to a friend, and I'm a little rusty with my writing skills since I haven't typed anything or had an original thought in several months. It's weird how my inner monologue tends to mimic the narrative style of the most recent book I've read. Unfortunately, the most recent novel I've read was a whining tale of teenage angst.

I really didn't like that book.

Usually when I'm into a book, I try to finish reading it in one or two sittings. That being said, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was a hassle. I would have used a different word, but some people might have been offended. I read the first twenty to fifty pages in the library and then I bought a used copy from the half price bookstore. The next day was a blur where I spent most of my time either reading in bed or on my desk chair. I remembered I stopped once to warm-up a can of ravioli. I'm sure my copy of The Deathly Hollows still has several stains of meat sauce. I'm that classy.

There were very few books that interested me in middle school, but I specifically remember one novel that captivated my attention from cover to cover. It was a very dumb book; I'm not even going to look up the title. The novel revolved around a colony of talking lemmings who were approaching the fateful day where they all committed suicide. If you haven't heard the common misconception about lemmings, they're cute furry rodents who run off cliffs in mass hoards for no apparent reason. The protagonist of the novel curiously wondered why they all committed mass suicide, and every lemming he asked, whether they were young or old, told him the same thing, 'We've always jumped off cliffs; it's just something lemmings do.' It was very unsettling for the lemming, but when it was time, he felt the sudden urge to run. And while he ran, other lemmings joined him until the whole colony was around him and they were all headed toward the cliffs. And at the very tip of the cliff, he had a sudden urge to live. He scurried past the waves and waves of lemmings plunging toward their deaths, and when he approached his family's burrows, he saw that all of the young infant lemmings were left to restart the colony and the older lemmings had died to insure enough resources for the next generation. One of the infants asked if protagonist the was going to help them rebuild, and he said that he needed to find his own place in the world. He wasn't a lemming anymore because he didn't jump off cliffs; he survived. It was a very short book, roughly a hundred pages.

I'm sure the book was about peer pressure or self identity or something, but I've never really thought about it. I was just easily amused, and I had a soft spot for talking animals.

Sometimes when I write, I wonder if I'm being original by preserving my thoughts and feelings instead of passively letting them slip through my consciousness like everyone else. I guess it's weird that I'm in early twenties, about one year away from graduating college with two science degrees, but I'm still fixated on writing stories and creating characters with depth and emotions. I wonder if I'm being progressive or regressive with my thoughts and ideas, and when I approach my metaphoric cliff, if I'll jump, stay an adolescent, or become something else.

These are just a few thoughts stirred from a short book that I read several years ago.

During a Break

I’m writing this while downloading a movie. I’d consider it multitasking, but since my internet is so slow, it’s equivalent to breathing while sleeping. It’s still multitasking.

It’s weird that I’m trying to write and listen to a movie at the same time because lately my head has felt congested and I haven’t been able to think clearly. After sniffling in class one day, a classmate asked if I was sick, and she explained that she’s been sick since her roommate had a cold or something. That was my first suspicion that my dry, bleeding nose might be connected to my headaches and drowsiness. I think I’ve been sick for a while.

I think the worst part about being sick is whenever other people don’t notice it, which makes me self-conscious that my voice normally sounds disjointed and crackled, and I wonder if I usually have snot dripping down my nose. When people ask if I feel better, I want to know if I honestly look the way I feel. I think I play it off well.

I’m ten minutes into the movie, and it’s not that great; I guess its background noise. I considered watching Spring Forward, but I’ve seen it several times. I’m currently watching an independent film about backpacking called Southbounders. It was between this movie and another independent film about a road trip. I guess I’m in a travel mood.

I hate that point in a movie or book where you’re convinced that you won’t like it, but you’ve already gone too far to stop. It’s like the distance you’ve traveled before it’s too late to get something you’ve forgot in your bedroom. I think everyone has their limit. My limit is across the street; if I’ve already crossed the street then it’s too late; game over.


A few weeks ago, I read The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, and I recently finished Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. It’s an odd pairing; I planned to read both of them during my short summer break, but The Lovely Bones was longer than expected. In summery, I didn’t like either of them.

(Slight spoiler)

The Lovely Bones was okay, it just wasn’t what I was expecting. Half of the novel was riveting with the author’s intricate control of creating the vivid life and world of Susie Salmon, the protagonist. Ultimately, it shifted away from becoming a suspenseful murder mystery and settled into a story about moving on past the death of a loved one. Midway through the novel, the character development fizzled out, and you’re left skimming through the lives of less developed, one dimensional characters that were not particularly interesting. I understand that the author had to convey that the lives of Susie's loved ones went on past her death, but it still felt unsettling and less engaging than the first portion of the book.

(No spoiler, except he cries a lot)

There were several complaints about Perks of Being a Wallflower. As it’s mentioned in several reviews on, Charlie, the main character, wasn’t actually a wallflower. He had friends and experienced drugs and parties and went to dances. If Charlie was a wallflower in high school, I was either a pebble or a dust ball. Personally, I’d define a wallflower as someone who’s socially awkward, easily nervous, and an unintentional loner. At no point did Charlie ever seemed nervous or socially awkward; he just felt apathetic and naive. Also, Charlie wasn’t a believable fifteen years old. The author intentionally improved the narrator’s grammar and spelling to convey Charlie’s maturity, but the sentences in the beginning of the novel felt too simple and choppy, and it limited my ability to relate to him as a character. Most times the narrative felt like an adult attempting to sound like a child. It's hard to perceive Charlie as a bright, gifted writer when the author included so many run on sentences and Charlie continued to have a naive perspective of the world. Although most teenagers are insecure and self-deprecating with their problems, they have a sense of depth and rationality to their actions and thoughts. Instead of elaborating about his emotions, Charlie cried. He cried a lot. He cried often and without humility. I'm usually a very empathetic person, but someone needed to tell him to stop. I felt that instead of conveying how Charlie felt or drawing readers into the emotional depth of the moment, the author blatantly wrote, '...and then I cried.' After I read so many reviews that claimed this book changed and affirmed people's lives, I honestly hope I missed something. I’d hate to think this book became popular with a cult following due to name dropping pop culture references, famous books, and excessive drug use. I’d hate to assume it's famous just because it’s a banned book. To be fair, the book had moments of insightful melancholy, but it never expanded into genuine character development of the protagonist. Also, I thought the book properly addressed homosexuality and I can see how gay teenagers could relate to the character, but it wasn't anything deeper or more engaging than an after school melodrama such as Dawson's Creek.

Southbounders was an okay movie. It felt a little too campy in the beginning, pardon the pun, but it gradually became better. It was very independent with less experienced actors, modest picture quality, and poor sound design. That being said, they filmed majority of the movie outside, which would have compromised the resolution for most indie films. It wasn’t transcendent or life affirming, but it was background noise. It was okay.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Response to video

Before I deleted it, I wrote a post describing the influences of the video. I mentioned the unanswerable questions of beliefs and religion, and I thought a lot about the great beyond. Originally, the video was going to be about a dying girl's conception of Heaven and an afterlife, thoughts and speculations about what's to come. In most ways it doesn't matter whether we're young or old, we're all uncertain about death. Death doesn't just happen a lot of the time, it always happens.

As I continued writing and editing, I realized the story wasn't about death but about being alive for the last time. A long time ago, I heard a radio program about a man who deeply pretended to only have a year to live, and instead of skydiving or traveling the world, he chose to move in with his parents and tried to reconnect with them. I think that's the ultimate way of realizing your priorities, an honest wish list of things to do before it all ends.

Finding and experiencing love, spending time with family and loved ones, and enjoying the simply, subtle things in life; these are the things that I project onto a dieing character.

Life's just one small attempt to rest in peace.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

...because after I read it, I felt slightly depressed, and hungry.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Drinks and a Movie

I’m currently drinking instant apple cider, and it’s better than I expected. On the front of the pouch it proudly proclaimed, ‘A Rich Source of Vitamin C,’ and on the back, it cautioned in thick bold letters, ‘Contains 0% Juice.’

I think I need vitamin C because my gums hurt and I’m worried that I might have scurvy. Sometimes I think I know too much. Whenever I wrote a report on scurvy, they said severe cases can have blood spots on the buttocks and hemorrhoid around the eyes. It could be the other way around, but I wouldn’t want either. While I read through several scientific journals, there were papers that mentioned less severe vitamin C deficiencies can be common among single males who live alone and don’t cook. They may suffer from common malaise, which means generally not feeling well, tiredness, and depression.

It’s like they’re watching me.

The instant apple cider packets were left behind by my previous roommate along with a few packets of pasta, a sack of rice, a can of cream corn, and a bag of pinto beans, most of which we couldn’t cook because we didn’t own any pots to use our stove. I still don’t have an oven pan for the biscuit batter that he left in the refrigerator. He moved out two months ago, and I don’t think he’s coming back for pasta and instant apple cider.

I just finished the cup of apple cider, and I already feel better. Given, the pouch of ‘apple dust’ also included 20 grams of sugar.

I think I’m severally deprived in folic acid, also known as natural green stuff. Usually I acquire my daily serving of vitamin C from fruit cups, but I don’t think they make vegetable cups with light veggie syrups … and cherries.

I thought about walking to the nearest fast food restaurant to buy a teriyaki bowl for some carrots and broccoli. And I don’t know how you gauge your nutritional standards, but when you’re legitimately considering a substantial diet from a fast food chain, you’re not doing so well.

I’m currently watching ‘Grave of the Fireflies,’ and it’s very hard to imagine that it was in a double feature with ‘My Neighborhood Totoro.’ I wonder how we’re affected by the movies that we watched throughout our childhood. It’s odd to imagine a generation without hand drawn Disney movies. A while ago we tried to give our little cousins a box of Disney movies on VHS, but they said that they don’t have a tape player anymore. I think good children’s movies transcend generations; it’s like sharing a memory because we can all remember how the movie originally affected us.

I guess it depends on the movie because I remember watching ‘Dr. Doolittle’ with my other cousins, and after the movie was over and the lights turned on in the theater, they asked when the animal movie was starting. Maybe it is a generational gap, but I desperately hope it isn’t. Plus, it was only ‘Dr. Doolittle.’

Sometimes I wonder which personal characteristics are trivial and what’s actually important. Whenever I want to get to know someone, I usually ask them what’s they’re favorite Disney movie. It’s like asking them about their childhood dreams or aspirations before they even considered them goals or fantasies. It’s like finding out what spurred their sense of wonder and magic, and it’s like sharing something literal, something with substance and matter. The more I think about it, I don’t know if it matters what you ask someone, whether you ask someone their favorite color or song or movie. I think it’s the attempt that matters the most; it’s the interest and the vain feeling that we can truly know someone.

More instant apple cider, please.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Response to video

I like writing. When I was younger, I wrote a couple hundred pages documenting skewed memories of the previous school year. A lot of it was irrelevant inside jokes and stories told between friends; most of it was dialog. Some people thought it was a journal, but the facts and details were distorted in hindsight; I knew others would read the story so I was bias toward certain characters and events. I’ve always been reserved and I think writing helped process and organize my thoughts, but looking back on the documents and short stories, I was probably trying to lie to myself. I was trying to convince myself that everything happened rationally through the eyes and mindset of different characters and through my own eyes. A lot people thought I wrote it to get attention, and they were partly right, but I wanted all of my memories and thoughts to mean something; I wanted them to be somewhere other than in my mind, where they were passing thoughts that slowly faded. Writing always helped validate my thoughts as more than just a fleeting waste of time.

If you haven’t noticed, majority of my videos have been inspired by a girl, and normally that would be a complement. Hundreds of sappy love songs and whimsical poems have been inspired by the profound love of certain girls, but on the other spectrum, just as many self deprecating break up songs and suicide notes have mentioned previous loved ones. Unfortunately, most of my videos have leaned toward the latter. There were several nights where I regretted meeting her at all, and needless to say, I had a lot of baggage when I first started making videos.

And if you haven’t watched a lot of my videos, I never blame the girl. In the end of the videos, the girl turns out prominent or successful, and that’s the ending that I desperately hope will occur. What’s real in majority of the videos, at least emotionally, is the guilt and regret that the guy usually experiences.

In real life, I think that I ruined her and she just had to continue living her life. We were a few years apart, and I feel like I took advantage of her trust; I feel like I should have raised her better and appreciated her more, but it’s all in the past. Whenever I think about her, I feel regret, and it's the same emotion that I experience when I watch several of my videos.

I look back on that relationship and all I can think about is how much I messed her up, like every detail that went wrong and how I could have done it better. It’s so easy to forget and appreciate how much I helped her through a few rough times in her life, and that I was supportive, and that I loved her. We were happy once or twice too.

Everyone needs to walk that fine line between remembering all that we’ve done to from some sort of self identity and purging a lot of things to stop living in the past. The video’s about someone who wanted to experience a time when he affected someone, when he felt more than just bare and melancholy. When he remembered the girl, he vaguely remembered the good parts and regressed back to how they first met. And the girl said to remember her, which signifies that you should remember all of it, even the good parts. Forgetting the bad parts isn’t worth entirely forgetting the person who you loved, how they made you feel, and how much you affected them, good and bad.

Take the good with the bad, breathe in and out, and repeat.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

'It's Kind of a Funny Story' by Ned Vizzini

Lately, I've been a dork with too much free time.

Lets be honest, if a friend heard me say that, they would assure me, 'Oh come on, Ryan, you usually study too much to have too much free time ... and just forget about the other thing, someday someone's going to like you for who you really are.'

I feel sidetracked and mildly depressed.

Anyway, whenever I finish reading a book, I normally search for more information regarding the novel through a combination of Wikipedia,, and Youtube. Usually, I browse through other readers' impressions and reviews; I read through general background information and the writing process; and I watch interview clips and the author's readings on videos, because I'm cool that way. Well yesterday, I spent from 5:00 pm to 3:30 am reading It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini, and I enjoyed every minute of it, but afterward, I lacked the stamina for my several hour routine of finding every little detail there's possible to know about the book and/or author on the internet.

Apparently, Ned Vizzini has a Youtube page, and guess what? I have more subscribers than him. Yeah, he can go on writing amazing books and being a successful novelist, but at this particular moment in time, I have a dozen more strangers watching my random videos compared to his random videos. Plus, I have less uploaded than him; that's right.

I like how I just reiterated my first simple sentence with three heavily supportive paragraphs; I spent roughly eleven hours reading a book on a Friday night and I'm happy that I have more subscribers than a successful young adult novelist, who posts random videos about his dogs on the internet.

I'm being ironical because the book's about a kid with depression, I think.

It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini fully encapsulates the tone and feel of our current generation of teenagers, who feels stressed and inadequate for their daily lives. Craig, the protagonist, narrates how his severe depression eventually leads him to a brief stay at a psychiatric ward, where he meets an assortment of colorful mental patients and he deals with his life and issues.

The writing is crisp with a dry, witty sense of humor and an enduring flow that makes the story believable and engaging. All of the novel's characters feel developed and well-rounded, and the dialog and interactions between characters feels personal and real.

It's a great book; I loved it.

Also, the protagonist seems sad and self-deprecating, but he's hopeful that things will get better; you know who else is like that? Eeyore. I hate people who say Eeyore's pessimistic; he's clearly a optimistic realist since he knows things can't possibly get worse.

1/2 'Jussic Park' by Michael Crichton

I know the one person who reads the blog is going, 'Oh no, not Jurassic Park again.'

For anyone else who happens to stumble on this post, let me say that this isn't an unbiased review. I love Steven Spielberg's film adaptation of Jurassic Park. It's the reason I wanted to become a paleontologist, until I realized they don't make any money. There are very few movies that inspire a generation of children to believe anything is possible, and I haven't seen a movie since the first Jurassic Park that displays the depth and realism of living, breathing dinosaurs.

Yeah, I'm bias, and you know what, Jurassic Park novel? You let me down.

I read reviews of the novel Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton (because I watched the movie seventeen years ago, what are they going to ruin?). And there are avid fans of the book that honestly believe the novel is better than the movie, and I'm okay with it. What makes me cringe is the thought of someone reading the book's four hundred pages, and saying, "Wow, that was a really bad book. I'm glad I didn't spend a few bucks and rent the movie ten years ago."

There was literally a review that said, 'I somehow resisted the Jurassic Park craze whenever it was in theaters, but I finally read the book and I thought it was okay. I'm just glad I got to see what all the hype was about.'

Really, pretentious much?

I want to mention that I only read half of the novel before I was swamped with exams, but I'll probably check it out of the library pretty soon just to finish it. On a lighter note, did you know The Incredible Journey, which was remade into Homeward Bound, was also based on a novel with the same name? I don't know if I need to remind you, but the animals didn't talk in The Incredible Journey so I might read it out of curiosity.

Reviewers mentioned that the Jurassic Park novel goes into more detail and it does, tediously. The underlining suspense of the first one hundred pages relies on the readers inability to presume that John Hammond, the rich billionaire, constructed an island full of dinosaurs, which shouldn't be very suspenseful since the title of the book is Jurassic Park. The characters were more developed since they weren't restricted for a PG audience, but the character's interactions with each other felt wooden. And although they had more dialog and you got to know them better, they were still one dimensional stereotypes. Also, I'm a biology major and they glossed over a lot of the genetics, ibid the novel included more about the science than the movie, but it would have been nice if the mentioned the polymerase chain reaction or used some type of scientific terminologies. Given, I'm not sure if the book was written before PCR.

Like any bias book/movie review, I rented the movie after two hundred pages and I believe the critics underestimate the alterations from the books as improvements. Steven Spielberg is infamously known for overly sentimental movies such as E.T. and War of the Worlds, but it seemed appropriate and almost necessary for him to eject more emotion between the characters from the adults' interactions with the children to the concern of the grandfather's worry over his grandchildren; it felt needed for the viewers to empathize and relate to the characters on a level beyond, 'dude, that would suck to be them.' Also, the film's pacing was more enjoyable than the novel. If you haven't seen the movie, the first ten minutes might not make a whole lot of sense. It's okay, it's a two hour movie; you'll get over it. The novel takes one hundred pages to get on the island, and a lot of it was an unnecessary attempt to climax on the character's arrival. Lastly, the premise of dinosaurs attacking people just works better as a movie. It's such a simple story that requires cinematic flare to make it something amazing, something grand and unconceivable right in front of your eyes, dinosaurs towering over ant-like people and a T-rex roaring overhead. It's something made for movies.

Yeah, it's rare, but the movie's better than the book.

'Ender's Game' by Orson Scott Card

I read this book awhile ago, but I haven't wrote a review/summery. It's probably easier to write about a book in hindsight because if you liked it, the memorable parts stay with you and everything else fades away.

It's a good book, a very good book; it might be the best science fiction novel I've ever read, and if you know me, you'd know how little that means. The story follows the development of Ender, the protagonist, from his childhood to his exponential maturity into the world's greatest commander. As you might know, Ender's Game is the first in a twelve book series, but the novel can easily stand alone as its own futuristic adventure with a satisfying resolution. The narrative was quick and concise, and the pacing was riveting with suspense and intrigue.

I had a few minor grips, and I'm sure it's just me since I usually don't read science fiction. A few of the characters felt one dimensional, but maybe that's why there are twelve books in the series. Lastly, I'm lame, but whenever I read ... anything, I expect there to be some type of love interest between the protagonist and another lead character. I know its usually just tacked on and it wouldn't have contributed to the story, but its weird without it.

I recommend it.

Is it bad that every time they mentioned the aliens' army I thought of Halo?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Response to video

I have to study for an exam tomorrow and two final exams at the end of the week, but over the past two weeks there’s been an increased interest in the video involving the girl who committed suicide; it’s had over eighteen hundred views over the past seven days.

Normally an increase in views is a good thing, but it’s different with this particular video because its popularity may have different implications. I hope you guys are alright.

When I originally finished the video, I debated whether to post it. It took about two weeks to make the video, and during that time I was so concerned about whether I could capture that universal moment in time that we’ve all experienced, a time of bleakness. We’ve all been through a time where we’ve felt alone and detached from our accomplishments and potential, and we just feel like failures. We wonder whether it’s worth continuing.

I was so concerned about whether I could capture the essence of self-loathing depression that I never really stopped to think whether I should. I didn’t consciously stop to think of the implications that it would have on the viewers of the video.

If it’s not explicitly implied, I do not encourage suicide.

People will have their own interpretations of the video, but I believe it’s about a brash decision influenced by loneliness and depression. When I was growing up, I was always told that suicide was selfish because if you died then you’d make everyone you loved burdened and depressed. And while it’s true, I’ve always thought it was selfish to say, “Don’t kill yourself because then I’d be sad.”

Suicide is bad for you. No matter how bad things get, you have the potential to do anything, whether it’s changing the world to rectifying past regrets. Your life is valuable; you’re not alone; and you make a difference. Whether we know it or not, we affect people. Life isn’t a road we walk alone, but a web where we’re all connected. You have the ability to touch lives, and more importantly, you have the chance to be happy.

Everyone goes through spouts of depression, but at some point, somewhere in everyone’s past, everyone has been happy. Sometimes life needs to be lived moment by moment, it comes and goes in waves, but you need to be alive to have your chances at affecting others and experiencing happiness.

Just hang in there; you’re worth it.

That came out mushier than I wanted it to be, but you get the point.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Dreaming of a simpler time that never happened; you were there.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

"It's the internet, you know, the place where people leave their breadcrumbs like photos and videos and blogs. They post their favorite quotes or spontaneous banter about the world and how they perceive it. And you're just wondering, looking at the trails and paths beaten by others. So you found her trail; you found the girl who'd complete your world, but she stopped logging on a year ago and it's been two years since she posted anything. The internet is like an archive of missed soul mates divided by time. At this exact site, she was here writing the exact same things going through your head, it's comforting in a way since you're not alone. But you missed her-- you missed her by a lot."


Sunday, March 21, 2010

‘The Invention of Hugo Cabret’ by Brian Selznick

I highly recommend borrowing ‘The Invention of Hugo Cabret’ by Brian Selznick from the library, especially if you’re a preteen or younger, or you have children and you’re looking for a good, wholesome book for them.

It’s conceptually more unique than any other book I’ve read, but its story felt so timeless and classic that it flows and reads like a film illuminating in the back your mind. Essentially, it’s half novel and half picture book, and it feels like a cinematic experience. If you were ever a child who read a hand drawn picture book and never wanted it to end, this is the book for you… well it ends, but you’ll be engulfed in a 500 page tale before it does. The novel’s pacing and flow is exquisite and the drawings are timeless and detailed. Don’t get me wrong, this is a kid to young adult book, but it’s very wholesome and very refreshing.

On a side note, I noticed there’s an audio CD format… don’t get that, just don’t. You’ll miss half of the book and it’ll ruin the experience.

Also, it’s rumored Martin Scorsese might make a movie based on it. I mean, if you need a better reason…

Update (12/17/11):
And it's better than the movie.

‘Postsecret: Confessions of Life, Death, and God’ collected by Frank Warren

If you haven't heard about postsecret, it's a community that anonymously mails their deepest secrets on postcards.

Most of their secrets are revealing and insightful, some are heartfelt, heartwarming, and shameful, a few are down right hilarious. ‘Postsecret: Confessions of Life, Death, and God’ is composed of more than two hundred postcards and a few short stories based on the theme of— life, death, and religion.

Unfortunately, it's only 270 pages, which sounds like a lot but each page contains about one sentence, and the only complaint I had was that it could be finished in one sitting.

‘Life of Pi’ by Yann Martel

I highly recommend ‘Life of Pi’ by Yann Martel, but I read the end of it on a five hour train ride from Fort Worth to San Marcos, Texas, and the people next to me started being loud so I skimmed through the last few pages so I could find another seat. I've recently reread the last ten pages, and they're fairly graphic.

Still, the book maintained colorful animals and a charming sense of humor for two hundred pages that were sophisticated enough for adults and stimulating enough for preteens and young teenagers... until the end. Don't say I didn't warn you, I had nightmares.

Also, the beginning of the book shifted from regular font to italicized font; the regular font takes place in the past, which is in first person, and the italicized font is the present, which is in third person. It sounds complicated, it isn't.

‘The Last Lecture’ by Randy Pausch

‘The Last Lecture’ by Randy Pausch is easily the best nonfiction book I’ve ever read. Personally, I fell in love with the humility of the copy that I borrowed from the library. Unlike most books on the New York Time’s best seller list, ‘The Last Lecture’ was situated in the stuffy mathematics and computer section. Think about it; when’s the last time you went to the old computer manuals section of your local library.

Essentially, Randy Pausch was a renowned professor of virtual reality, but he was so much more than a man between the walls of academia; he was person. As a child he had aspiring dreams, and as an adult, he lived and preached a fulfilling and wholesome lifestyle. In a lot of ways, it’s similar to a self-help book, where he offers conventional wisdom to the readers and attendants of his actual last lecture, but it’s more than a spokesperson or physiologist attempting to sell a book and make a profit; he’s going to die. This is it. And he delivers on so many levels.

Also, I’m the type of person who likes to finish a book in one or two sittings just to be done with it, but you can feel the gravity of his words and everything that’s written feels important and intentional. If you read this book, which I highly recommend, read slow and soak it in.

‘A Winkle in Time’ by Madeleine L'Engle

I finished ‘A Winkle in Time’ by Madeleine L'Engle. I didn’t like it. I thought it was blatantly preachy and condescending toward children. I understand that I’m several years past the novel’s targeted audience, but children’s novels don’t have to market toward a single minded agenda. Like Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry's ‘The Little Prince,’ children's fantasy books can be vivid and imaginative, hopeful and educational.

‘A Wrinkle in Time’ is a disservice toward its genre since it’s labeled a classic in terms of children’s science fiction and fantasy, and if kids assume this is the best novel literary minds have to offer them, they’ll stop reading altogether. They’ll turn on the television and watch some other mindless dribble that they’ll actually enjoy.

No really, I didn’t like it.

‘Life as We Knew It’ by Susan Pfeffer

I just finished reading ‘Life as We Knew It’ by Susan Pfeffer, and I thoroughly enjoyed it, except the first thirty pages where the protagonist acted like a self involved teenage girl, which was appropriate because—she was a self involved teenage girl.

What transcends this novel from others in the ‘dooms day’ genre would be its attention to details. From its delicate character development to the immersive realism, the novel captures a snapshot of the global catastrophe. Its imagery seemed so crisp with describing the empathy of family and the apathy of strangers, and its scope felt like it pinpointed the worldwide disaster to a single person in one of a billion families. It sincerely portrayed the feeling of a modern day dust bowl and the desperation of the great depression.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Short Stories and Video Ideas

The Bedtime Story
(an old video idea)

Somewhere in a desolate tower, a young girl waited. She's trapped in most ways. Originally, a wyvern guarded the stone tower with its fire laced breaths and imposing wings and pincers. The beast was known throughout the land, and so was its trapped captive. Her legend spread. Some parents used her story as a cautionary tale meant to scary children away from strangers while others embellished her accounts to catalyze kids' imagination or induce their fantasies; she was even a princess in most tales. But while her story spread, she waited; kept alive by the vain hope someone would come to her rescue. Eventually, parents fabricated happy endings, which filtered their children's innocence, and the tragedy of the young girl was resolved in the minds of most who heard the tale. And while fairtale prospered and callow kids slept peacefully at night, the young girl continued to wither as she waits for her real, brave knight.
The next two short stories have the same setting and characters so I guess they go together.
A Book by Its Cover

She spread her arms out while we paced through the isles of books, and the tips of her fingers skimmed across the spines of hard covered novels. We walked and her finger tips carried a cadence like the spokes of a bicycle wheel hitting against a baseball card; along with our light steps and the swooshing of her jeans, it was almost hypnotic and we continued down the paperbound rabbit hole. Eventually, we slowed and her eyes darted from book to book, title to title. She skimmed, and she said, ‘Sometimes I come here to feel like a metaphoric picture.’ A side of her lips pursed, and she nearly formed a smile. ‘I want to read dramatic words or phrases with their eclectic fonts and sizes and different textures and colors. I like the old ones that show their age.’ She opened a book, one that was worn with scuffed and amber pages. She put it back on the shelf and continued skimming through the titles. ‘And in just a few minutes I can look back across the shelves until the lanes converge and disappear. I can look and feel like a picture. My eyes would have seen more than a thousand words.’

That was the reason we were alone in the library.

Most people read for escapism. They want to walk along the canvas of someone’s fictitious world and milk the pages of their knowledge and wisdom, their tales and adventures. And while I watched her read different titles and the names of authors who’ve died or remained forgotten, I’m reminded that this girl didn’t want to escape through someone else's painted fiction or become saturated with knowledge or wit. As she looked through shelves of books, her intentions were unmistakable. She didn’t want escapism, she wanted to be lost.

I gave her a weak smile, and she politely returned the expression. Her beautiful eyes peered up at mine as if to say, It’s alright, really. I would feel sorry for me too.


There were cushioned seats with wooden tables on either side of the book shelves, but she passively sat between the tightly woven walls of hard covered books that towered above our heads. Sometimes she nodded her gaze upwards, almost toward the ceiling, and she very slightly grinned. I think she liked being overwhelmed; she felt secure in the fortress of literary fiction and the softness of the thousands and thousands of pages.

Suddenly we heard footsteps breaching through the silence, and a man appeared with a small piece of paper etched with a book’s call number. His eyes weaved through the rows as they hastily skimmed through the spines. He paused for a moment. He looked at his sheet and back to the shelves, then back to his sheet and back to the shelves. The routine was unmistakable; he was looking for something that wasn’t there.

Eventually, he walked away empty handed; he even left his piece of paper.

“Sometimes I feel like a book,” she said after the spectacle. “Most people don’t want to be thought of as books; the metaphor has become synonymous with being boring or predictable. I think that’s pessimistic. Just because something’s literally written in front of your eyes doesn’t mean it’s simplistic. Poetry, which uses the fewest amounts of words, can have the most convoluted explanations. Supposed intellectuals have carried hundreds of debates and written dozens of books over the simplest of sentences or shortest of stanzas. If I was a book, I’d have depth. I’d have color and intrigue. People would want to read me, and then reread me just to have the slightest understanding of my character, of my essence and being.”

Her eye peered at the piece of paper left on the shelves, wedged between the space where the book should have been located.

“There are thousands of books here,” she continued. “It wouldn’t be hard for the librarian to confuse the call numbers, maybe place a fiction novel near the old computer manuals by accident; that novel would be destitute. Anyone who’d want the book wouldn’t know where to find it.” Her eyes strayed away from the torn notebook paper and looked across the rows and rows of bound, paper columns. “Sometimes I feel like a book, the most interesting book that everyone would want to read and reread, except I haven’t been opened in a while.” She sighed, a gasp that nearly exhaled every last hope in her body. “And my greatest fear would be that I’ve been displaced. I'd be stuck somewhere I shouldn't be, and no matter how much I'd try, I'd still be alone.”

There was a moment, a short second filled with indignant self-deprecation where her face was numb and blank. And then she laughed, the type of laugh that quickly restored blood flow and caused her to dub over in shortness of breath and pain. As I kneeled by her side, she grabbed my hand and our arms lulled from side to side as she asked in witty banter, “But I’ll always have you, my trusty old computer manual; you’ll be here, right?”

And I replied, “Of course, my favorite little novel.”

Saturday, January 30, 2010

On the paper houses

This is going to seem narcissistic, but I don't mind. A lot of time and effort went into this video, and it's worth mentioning if you're interested.

Originally, the video was meant to be a pop-up book. And I don't know if you know anything about pop-up books, but I know I don't.

The video was meant to be extravagant, stretching multiple pages, intricate origami pieces, and detailed characters and animation.

So that wasn't made. I literally spent hours watching videos about paper folds and building designs, and I had absolutely no idea how any of it was accomplished. It was like watching a magician reveal their tricks, and you watch and say, 'Oh that's how they do it.' You bask in the knowledge that you know how to do something, even though you don't, and if you ever tried the trick, it'd never seem to work. Apparently, pop-up books are my magic show, and the illusion was pretending that I could follow along.

By the time I realized I had no idea what I was doing, I bought two glue sticks, one glue bottle, and sixteen sheets of poster board; I used two rolls of scotch tape and three or four sheets of poster boards; and I somehow constructed six paper houses. After two weeks of toiling with the idea of trashing the whole video all together, I thought to myself, 'Well what the h-- am I going to do with six paper houses?'

Lucky, I was semi-resourceful with paper. Tucked away somewhere in one of my parents' closets sat a box full of stacks and stacks of paper. They were old sheets that were neglected for years and were nearly forgotten. At one point in time, they were esteemed to be worth hundreds if not thousands of dollars for their content, but then they were neglected and pushed out of sight and indefinitely out of mind. They were my notes from previous college classes, mainly organic chemistry and physics. Finally... after years of resentment, I finally had a reason to take organic chemistry besides fulfilling my major's requirements. If I hadn't taken organic chemistry, I wouldn't have enough scrap paper to cut up and fold into paper houses.

It all made sense.

By the time I made the paper houses and painstakingly drew the lines and windows and doors, I had no idea what to do with them. The houses patiently rested on my shelve like a peaceful neighborhood meant for civilized creatures from Ferngully. If it's before your time, Ferngully was an animated movie about fairies living in the rain forest, or something. In any case, I couldn't think of a story for days.

And around that time, I had my birthday. Let it be known that I don't like birthdays because they signify that I'm much too old to have such little life experiences. It's depressing; I know. It's overly dramatic, self centered, and self loathing; I know, I know, I know. Still, just like loners feel lonesome during the holidays, I feel older and more insecure near my birthday.

One night, I was thinking in bed. And I highly discourage thinking in bed because there's a reason you're laying there on a pillow with your eyes closed and your mind drifts. I thought about the houses and the people that would live inside them. I thought about how numb they'd feel trapped inside the white walls and perfectly straight windows and doors. They'd stay inside and pretend to be content. No one's outside, and no one's complaining; everyone must be fine. They'd force a smile and assume they're not meant to feel sad, scared, or lonely. And I would be an ungrateful God who flooded their streets with lights and flashes as I rearranged their simple lives like toys. They'd feel small like they couldn't control anything at all in their own little world, and they'd feel so alone.

I was inspired; I spent the rest of the night tossing and turning while I thought about clips and phrases. I was exhausted the next day at work, but I felt refreshed that I had an idea. I spent roughly three weeks on a near failure, and finally, I had thoughts. It felt good.

The rest was a blur. Winter break ended so I had to travel about five hundred miles back to college. I packed the paper houses inside a cardboard pizza box, which I stuffed inside my backpack along with DVDs and video games. The houses endured a five hour train ride and five minute taxi trip to my apartment, where I arrived less than one day before my first class of the semester. Firstly, I looked at my school schedule for the first time in two months. Secondly, I brushed off valuable real estate on my desk for the houses. Thirdly, I unpacked everything else. I wanted to get this video done, out of sight, and out of mind.

Currently, I'm well situated in school and the houses have been packed back inside the pizza box for a week now. I finished my revisions on the video and I posted it again. Still, I feel like the video isn't up to par with my expectations. I feel like if I was a paper person living between paper walls, I want my life to seem more complete. Here are the pictures left out due to time restrictions.

I'm missing one that said, "I used to Be a paper airplane," which doesn't really make sense, but when I was half sleep, I thought it was hilarious.

For those of you who don't know, I'm planning to take a youtube hiatus to work on school. I might view comments, but there won't be another video posted for a while. Thank you for watching.