Saturday, December 18, 2010

universal greetings.

the great road-trip is coming to a close, and eventually i'll get around to some post-trip postings. but in the meantime, i leave you with this little bit of home that's been making its way across the interwebs.


Saturday, November 27, 2010

monica's wedding.

my (youngest) kid-cousin Monica is all grown up, as she got hitched yesterday in California. i had the honor of being asked to be the official pictcha-man (not to be confused with the Jigga-man), so naturally i took quite a bit of photography, at what was a great, small and intimate event (the best kind). please check out the slideshow below.

but fear not, i culled down some 1400 pics to ~600. sadly, i didn't have time to embed with music (so i recommend cuing up some the Shins). and if you're patient, you just might get to see a few of yours truly getting his groove on. enjoy, and congrats to Monica & Chris.

it was a great post-thanksgiving preamble to my impending road trip, which starts at midnight. next stop, Phoenix...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

selling soap. no more.

just a a few more things to wrap up before i close out the chapter of my life that was P&G. i've actually made it a point to never explicitly call them out on these posts (so no one could misconstrue this as a marketing blog, or an official POV from a P&G marketer), but i guess i can say whatever i want now (spoiler alert: it's all positive).

i worked for the Procter & Gamble company.

i remember back in grad school, when i heard i had gotten an interview for an internship with "Procter & Gamble," i thought they were a law firm. little did i know they made EVERYTHING, and were the biggest, and one of the best marketing companies in the world. having an engineering degree and working on an MBA in IS - i figured i just wanted to do IT/information security/consulting stuff. so naturally, i was a little annoyed when i saw the role description i was interviewing for was "Beauty Care Interactive Marketing." Beauty Care - WTF? despite lots of personal stuff going on that summer - i had a great time with the internship, actually having fun doing something i wound up being pretty good at. i eventually got an offer, so it was a no-brainer to accept and move my life up to Cincinnati.

7+ years later i'd worked across categories and regions on several "billion dollar brands", got to stand toe-to-toe with some amazing people (marketers and otherwise, internally and externally), helped define what digital marketing could and would be for the company, and get a glimpse for what REALLY goes on inside a big and mostly-not-evil corporation. "touching lives, improving life," indeed.

most importantly, i grew up. i got to travel the country and the world. i got to work and live abroad with people from all over. thru the company, i got to know some of my closest friends and mentors. i even met my eventually-to-be fiance there, later following her to NY, where "the company' found a way to make the most out of my professional skills and personal needs.

over the years, a lot of my friends moved on to bigger and better things (comedy, politics, marketing, startups, agencies, etc). i even started meeting quite a few ex-P&G'ers from whom i would learn a TON. the common denominator though was always that these were some of the smartest, best people i'd get the pleasure of knowing - right up until the very end.

so it's really weird to find myself finally leaving. probably a year or so later than i should have. but it was worth it - (almost) every step of the way. so yea, P&G has been a big part of my life, and i'm proud to say i had the pleasure of working there.

thanks "uncle Procter"

Thursday, November 18, 2010



as i'm sure some of you may have already heard yesterday's big news - Apple is finally offering the Beatles on iTunes (see my above spoof of Apple's current homepage takeover). about damned time. but frankly too little, too late - as i've my MP3 library was long-ago already filled with their entire catalog.

honestly, i didn't really become a Beatles fan until 2007, when i was living in the far east without in-person access to all my music buddies' recos (ie, going to shows with them or having them hand me albums to listen to). fortunately, years before my move, my good friend Rajiv had insisted that to be a true rock fan, i had to have a POV on the Beatles (all i had really known was the few albums like Help! that my parents had lying around the house, and Danger Mouse's the Grey Album). i soon became hooked (Revolver and the White Album being some of my favorite albums of all time). now if only i could get shipped off to another foreign country so i can spend some quality time with Bob Dylan and/or the Rolling Stones.

a few years later, i became addicted to the game Rock Band, and guess what, soonafter Beatles Rock Band followed. sadly, i had already moved to suburban NY, so the only true Beatles Rock Band celebrations was playing the entire game through the night  it came out (as i "happened" to be in Cincinnati for a business trip), and then our 2009 halloween party (where my fiance + i were aptly dressed as hippie John & Yoko).

a few observations i'd like to share about the Fab Four:

  • they're one of the few bands to transcend musical archetypes during their brief history: starting as a poppy boy band that the girls swooned for (minus the slick dance moves and earpiece microphones), they soon grew up to be hard rock icons (as seen above, as contemporaries of the Rolling Stones, etc), and would quickly transcended into weird trippy experimental music (a'la Radiohead) before finally breaking out into their own individual projects and movements (most notabley John).
  • most people are either John or Paul fans. and while i will gladly admit to their insane talent (the 1+1 of those 2's friendship + collaboration equaled 300), John was a bit dooshy, and Paul was (and continues to be) a bit of an immature, yet talented, sellout.
  • George Harrison was the coolest, and remains my favorite (above, on the far left). and my guitar gently weeps for him.
  • Ringo* was the ugliest. seriously. sure he's aged well (which is code for...he grew a beard to cover up his face), but man was that guy was ugly*. if you can't already tell by the picture above, he's the one on the far right.
  • i only recently realized that the band's name is a pun. their namesake bug is spelled "beEtle", while the band name is spelled "the BeAtles," as in "we got the beat." pretty neat, eh? and don't even pretend you already knew that (for the sake of my fragile ego).

that's all i got. the Beatles were awesome. they are (one of the) bars to which all rock-bands should be held over time. and Ringo* sure was ugly.

*(to be clear, this whole post was simply an excuse for me to share my graphical spoof ridiculing Ringo Starr's sub-optimal appearance. that fact that i could use a * as a poor typographical pun to also make this point only made it more worthwhile. you're welcome)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

from soap to yogurt. and America!

it's official. i'll soon be unemployed.

...though rest assured, loyal readers, it's not to the "America: what happened?" tunes of our current domestic woes, but rather the "America: it happened!" way that is moving our global economy (and allowing me to take a pretty awesome road trip*).

the gist: after 7+ years shilling some of the world's best personal care products via the wonders of in the interwebs (aka "digital marketing"), i've turned in my resignation notice, and will soon be jumping into a broader, more senior "integrated marketing" role - to sell yogurt. mo money, mo problems, indeed.  but i was able to negotiate the entire month of December off. but i promise, more on that in a bit*.

so you're probably asking yourself, "self, yogurt doesn't really seem that exciting? why would our good friend Raman choose to go that route (especially when he had a safe and stable job)?" to be clear - i didn't seek this out - it kinda found me, and was too good an opportunity to pass up. and while i was still doing well in my current career with the soap-company, my NY-based location (away from the corporate mothership) wasn't really helping with certainty and upward trajectory.

this new role, while a bit of a risk, is a calculated one. i'll be at the US headquarters of a European company (so yes, potential travel and relocation are in my future), but for the meantime i get to stay put in NY (minimal disruption to my personal life). the values of my soon-to-be new yogurt-making employers are a good fit with where i'm coming from and where i want to go, and i'm a big fan of the culture there (pun fully intended). all that being said, this was one of the tougher decisions of my personal and professional life - as i'm leaving behind a lot of great friends and colleagues, and a global network of rockstars that's hard to beat. but the future awaits, and i'm excited about the next 5-7 years of my career selling yogurt.

and frankly, between you and me - this is the real litmus test of IF marketing is the right fit for me long-term. i think it will be, as i'm getting on-board at the ground floor of something big - and the room for me to continue growing personally and professionally seems boundless.

*but enough grown-up talk. let's get to the real reason you're reading this: America.

(click above to see the latest and greatest itinerary of my upcoming trip)

that's right. America. while i did recently attend a rally in DC, that's not what sparked this interest. i effectively have a month off as i transition between my job of selling yogurt to my job of selling soap. i'm already out west for the Thanksgiving holidays with extended family, and have no commitments until the Christmas break - where i reunite with my immediate family in Cincinnati.

so in-between the two, i'm renting a car and hitting the hi-ways and by-ways of the American south/midwest (AKA - a bunch of states i've not yet been to - getting me closer to one of my many travel goals - 50 states by 40). i'll be starting in LA, and making my way to/thru Arizona and New Mexico - and then straight up to Denver, Colorado. from CO, i'll be flying over to Omaha, Nebraska, where i'll zig zag my way through Nebraska, Iowa, and Kansas, before zooming down to Oklahoma and Arkansas. my final stop will be in Houston, Texas, where i'll hang for a few days with a close friend from my German-speaking days. and then i'm leaving on a jet-plane for Cincinnati for the holidays.

so my question to you, dear reader is this: got a place i can crash? while you may not live in my path of American exploration (and if you do, seriously, let's talk), i'm sure you've got a sibling and/or close friend along the way. if not, at least give me your recommendations of random sights to see (giant-sized baskets) and foods to try (giant-sized baskets of artichokes). otherwise it's just going to be me and the road. and i just might drive the road crazy.

so that's all (for now) folks. just keep buying soap to keep my current retirement savings going. start buying yogurt to ensure i have a job in the new year. and let me know what i should do along my route through America!

remember: soap, yogurt, America!

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

welcome back Conan.

i never caught onto the whole "Coco" movement, but i have been a Conan fan for a long, long time (i'd share a video that illustrates said point, but a certain someone has issued a cease + desist of such interweb video tom-foolery)

sure i stopped watching "Late Night" once i finished grad school and got my first real job, but it was always reassuring to know he was putting up the good fight. then the Tonight Show debacle gave him a rise in prominence (and ratings). sadly, the double-edged sword that is living in NY kept me from seeing any of his live shows (we get everything, but it sells out in minutes).

his live show premiered last night. i'm a big fan of shows made for cable VS the networks. a built-in smaller audience allows for more great story-telling and conceptual risk-taking that the masses of America aren't willing to deal with. that's why you get lots of (mostly) inane stuff on the networks (Two & A Half Men, really?), and really brilliant stuff on cable (It's Always Sunny, Mad Men, etc). don't even get me started on HBO)

so, for those of you that missed it, i now share with you, the cold-open.

 your welcome.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Surya - master debater.

my buddy Surya is running for Congress in Ohio's 2nd district. he recently debated the incumbent Jean Schmidt on local TV, and frankly - to quote a close Republican friend - dominated. here's the debate, and Surya's most recent (and final) ad as icing on the cake.

i hope wherever you live, you've registered and will be voting this Tuesday. 

(Surya - apologies in advance for my my lame pun, i couldn't resist).

Friday, October 15, 2010

hello ZoomZoom.

so if you've been watching my car dilemma unfold in recent weeks, you'll be pleased to know that i've purchased my first new car, as seen above (mountains and starry night not included, this was a stock photo i took from the interwebs). 

i feel so grown up now, like i just went thru a rite of passage. thankfully dealing with my salesguy online (and made the process more bearable.

and don't call it "cute" - it's "cool" - all 5 doors of automatic (sigh), moon-roofed, "gun-metal" blued, goodness (though the blue IS a bit lighter than shown above).

now i can whisper "zoom zoom" as i zip pass you on the high-ways and byways of life. 

Monday, October 11, 2010

goodbye Celica.

last week i was in a car accident*. i'm fine, and no one was hurt, except for my friend of some ~11+ years, who was not able to survive. it was only a car, but having now said goodbye, i find myself remiss.

my '96 Celica was not my first (the first being the '84 i inherited from my dad + sister), but it likely will be my last. it was my first "new" (to me) car - having gotten it late in my college years (used - a family first!).

it was a cool ride then - cd and tape player, power windows, hatchback, spoiler and all - and it was a cool ride now - until the very end. over the years, the clutch had been replaced (after teaching far too many friends how to drive stick on it), as had the brakes, the tires, and even the radiator (a project i embarked on with my future brother-in-law at a crowded train station). when the a/c went out a few years ago, i didn't bother replacing it, opting to rather keep the windows down, and music blaring.

it had driven me all over AL, GA, MS, and GA for road-trips to see rock-shows, pretty girls and/or good friends. my tv, computer, clothes, comics and far too many personal belonging had been shuttled in and out of it between dorms, apartments, houses, and condos. it had moved me to OH - twice, and into (and out of) my first house. eventually, it took me out to NY for our most recent (and what would be its final) move. despite all the work/hassles of life, they were OK as long as i had my good Celica buddy. because driving it was always a fun (and fast) time.

*and then, it all came to a (fitting?) speeding end. driving in the rain (carefully, and slowly, believe it or not), crossing a bridge, i hit a patch of water, and hydro-planed into a concrete barrier at a not-so-slow speed. fortunately, the undercarriage of the car took most of the damage, though leaving the car undriveable. i got lucky, as the accident could have been much worse (others could have been hurt, i could have gone flying). i was in immediate shock after the accident, so it wasn't until much later that night that i realized how much worse it could have been, especially in light of recent events.

but i was ok. the Celica would not be. in it's aging years, as i had long ago dropped the collision insurance (opting only to pay for damage to anything else in its path), so the repair guy let me know it really wasn't worth it to fix up. while i'd already been thinking a new car was inevitable, it was not something i really wanted, even though i knew i had to grow up eventually.

so this past Saturday, i went to the tow-lot, cleared out my belongings, and handed over the car title to have it "junked." you've already seen the final pictures above.

so goodbye, dear Celica. R.I.P. you'll always represent the white machine (as said by my dad, and coined by my buddy Joe). but you sure could go fast, so we'll have always called you the InjoXpress (mach deux).

i guess i now have to buy a new car.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

happy birthday mario.

i just found out that my good friend Mario is turning 25. similar to the teen-bopper speed-metal quartet Weezer, Mario's been around at most of they key stages of my life. allow me to reminisce:

  • growing up an adolescent playing the original "Super Mario Bros" on my friend Raj's NES after school. 
  • in junior high - playing SNES Mario Kart at Marshall Beasely's on the weekend, or b&w Mario on Tommy Chai's gameboy during science fairs. 
  • true, there was the brief affair with Sonic the Hedgehog at neighbor Milton's house (and on my Game Gear). but that was a short-lived fling-of-fancy, so we won't spend too much time on that. 
  • in highschool it was Mario-64 on the snuck-in TV of my boarding school dorm. 
  • thru highschool and college, on my freqeunt weekend/holiday visits home, there were many 4-player Mario Kart 64 races late into the night at my friend Bhuwan's house (after many a lengthy lecture by his father, or as we prepared to defend from an inevitable TP-attack) - with his younger brother Barun + the afore-mentioned Raj 
  • Mario Kart DS was a big hit during my travels - playing little kids in restaurant waits, or with Ben + his brother on the tube in London.
  • "the New Super Mario Bros" (DS) was a mainstay on many work flights around the world - whether it be thru an earthquake in Hawaii, or passing the time on a weekend trip thru Southeast Asia (where i finally bought myself an actual green mushroom)
  • during my many "grown up" years in Cincinnati" i clung to my youth by playing far too much Mario Kart Wii with close friends.
  • "Super Mario Galaxy" helped me deal with my girlfriend moving far away to NY.
  • and now that i'm actually in NY living with my fiance (the afore-mentioned girlfriend) - the newest 4-player, side-scrolling "Super Mario Bros" (Wii) has been a maddeningly frustrating big hit with our friends here. 

as Mario's grown up, so have i. most of my generation would probably argue, Mario's a bigger deal than Mickey Mouse or Spider-Man (well, let's not get TOO carried away). i can't wait to see what's next, to get to eventually play some Mario with my future kids, nephews, nieces, and grandkids. so anyways, i leave you with a pretty interesting piece i recently saw in an industry publication:

...a truly evergreen gaming franchise is celebrating a remarkable milestone for the industry. The endemic Super Mario Brothers turned 25 years old this month, celebrating a quarter of a century of bringing fame to Italian plumbers, mushrooms, and 1ups. The mere soundtrack to Super Mario Bros. echoes with nostalgia, not to mention the fact Mario and his supporting cast have endured as iconic characters beloved by all for much longer than most modern- day gaming heroes. Mario made his debut in Donkey Kong, but established his legend in Super Mario Bros. on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), selling over 40 million copies worldwide, putting Nintendo, and Mario himself, at the forefront of gaming’s new identity.
As Nintendo grew with changing technology, from the NES to the Wii and into handheld devices like Game Boy and Nintendo DS, the Mario brand evolved as well, oftentimes launching a title alongside a new system to bring a familiar face into gamers’ homes with their latest console. Over time, Mario games have sold over 222 million copies across all platforms worldwide, ac- cording to Nintendo. Robert Lowe, Nintendo Marketing Manager UK Ireland, noted that Mario “is an enduring gaming icon that has a truly universal ap- peal. His games blend immense creativity, superb gameplay, and unbridled fun in a unique and spellbinding way.”
Though he’s gone through many iterations as technology has evolved, Mario continues to possess the staying power across generations, technology, and narration, allowing him to remain a videogame staple for over five genera- tions. While most cartoons, videogames, and movie characters strain to remain relevant, Mario does it with ease, bringing new and experienced gamers together. Nintendo has featured the character beyond his own titles as well, using Mario to introduce new play mechanics to gamers, like puzzle games via Dr. Mario, RPG games like Mario and Luigi on the DS, or ushering in the 3D-platform adventure with Super Mario 64, which many argue is the greatest videog- ame ever created. Even analog gamepads, now a staple across all forms of gaming, can give credit to Mario, as the control style was invented for players to better control the plumber in the 3D envi- ronment on Nintendo 64. This coupling of familiar, beloved characters with new technology has let Nintendo innovate beyond the joypad and console, breathing new life into the company and the industry as a whole.
Even after 25 years and over hundreds of millions of games sold, Nintendo confirmed that we can “rest assured [knowing] that it will be Mario who takes us on brand new adventures in the future.” To this day, a Mario game still sits in the top 10 for monthly NPD sales and news of his latest adventures - be it in the tried-and-true environment of the Mushroom Kingdom or in outer space on planets shaped like his head - create gamer buzz like no other. So here’s to you, Mario. A very happy birthday, with many more years to come.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Mandi & Corey's wedding.

so my sister got married a few weeks ago - the official pictures are finally here...

(click above to see a quick musical montage put together by Tine Hoffman, photographer extraordinaire)

and if you're even more interested, check out the piece that our hometown paper, the Montgomery Advertiser put together (with their own related photo galleries).

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


sure, it's just another prime number, but it was reason enough for me to take the day off and get a few "ME" things done...
  1. moved car ($^$% 8am street cleaning).
  2. slept in.
  3. morning shower (that's something considering i've become a night showerer)
  4. read the economist.
  5. work email to a work friend (even though i'm not working).
  6. NY tips for a friend planning a surprise birthday trip.
  7. read some comic books.
  8. made some postcards.
  9. went for a walk.
  10. bought some postcard stamps.
  11. bought some quarters.
  12. went to the library.
  13. tried some cheese.
  14. got some candies walnuts.
  15. got a jerk pork panini.
  16. got a Dr. Pepper.
  17. sat in the park for lunch and contemplative thinking.
  18. talked to a guy about yogurt.
  19. put icing on cupcakes.
  20. read some birthday cards.
  21. got some sweet audio stuff from my sis + new brother-in-law.
  22. attempted to fix my blackberry.
  23. called + talked to my troubled cousin.
  24. looked into some interesting grad school programs.
  25. made some wedding plans.
  26. went to the gym.
  27. making fajitas for friends for dinner tonight.
  28. made fresh salsa (last night, but for today, so it counts).
  29. will play some video games (Mario!)
  30. will read some comics books.
  31. this blog post.

so in reality, it's not much different from any other day that i stay at home and not work. not as much quiet introspection as i would have liked, but y'know, there's always tomorrow (and the day after).

Monday, September 13, 2010


with all the hubub over secret announcements as of late, i feel the need to jump on the bandwagon and post the following vague image:

no, i'm not starting a Indo-Chinese secret society (or am i?). and NO, this isn't just an attempt to show off what happens when you pair my religion/comic-addled imagination (there's an upcoming post on that) with my lackluster Photoshop skills (there's another post on that).

i'm sure some of you will eventually figure it out (i may have to mail you a hint), though i'd ask you to NOT leave comments below and ruin the fun for all of our other loyal readers.

you're welcome.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

death (and life).

this is a pretty sad post, so i decided to put the happiest, cutest picture i could find at the top.

yesterday my fiancé found out one of her college friends (and husband) died in a car accident Friday.

we were taken aback, sad, and remorsed (is that a word?), but are ultimately ok. our thoughts go out to Yu Lin + John's family and friends. this is never easy.

i had only met the couple once at their wedding in San Francisco a few years ago. we had a great time, but as with all weddings, didn't get to spend too much time with the couple. we were actually supposed to see them next weekend at another friend's wedding, and had just mentioned how we were looking forward to get to know them as a couple, etc. i guess that will never happen.

but it sparked a number of conversations and thoughts on the broader topic.

it was too soon. 
in our late 20s/early 30s, it always seems like one week after another, someone is getting engaged, married, or having a kid. we've even had our first few divorces. and yes, there is death. but as we get older - into our 60s, 70s, 80s - what milestones do you look forward to hearing from your friends about? unfortunately - it's not life (unless you count grandchildren - but i assume you get desensitized to the good news/cuteness that comes with the territory of being a new grandparent).

it should have been something (someone) else.
we expect death to come in an expected manner - like with old age and disease. it doesn't make those things any easier, but you have time to steady yourself for the worst. but at any point lightning, a bus, or worse could strike, and you're done. no one wanted this to happen, but did it have to be in such a manner? if you read the article linked above, you'll note that the person whose fault it was survives. they'll get on with their lives, but they've ruined countless others. this was nothing intentional, but that doesn't make it fair, or right.

life is precious. 
it sounds cliche, but sadly rings true more now than usual. this came out of nowhere, and frankly it could have happened to any of us. our immediate shock made everything else big (career, vacations, etc) seem insignificant, and everything else small (meals at home, talking with your friends) seem more important. animals and insects reproduce litters and swarms - knowing that many will die, and few will survive. even our ancestors had many children, because there was no certainty how many would survive to carry the family on. but in our modern society, families usually can only afford/manage to have 2-3 children. and so much goes into them. for something like this to happen becomes all the more devastating.

it will always hurt.
a few years ago a close childhood friend passed away. my dad spoke at his funeral. sadly, death is nothing new to my father, as he has seen most of his family (in India) pass away over the course of his adult life. he said something that really stuck with me (i'm paraphrasing):
"people say you'll get over it in time. they're wrong. you don't. you never forget these people. you keep them with you, they become a part of you. what's painful now becomes something you learn to endure, and not as hard to live with anymore."

i'm now going to make cupcakes. i would advise you do the same.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


a few months ago my friend Kyle told me he was starting a side-company...

naturally, i asked Kyle (in Portland) to sign me up - i was ready and willing* to make a modest contribution for a good (and well-thought + designed) cause. besides, i needed a new pair of glasses. unfortunately, they weren't available in NY until a few weeks ago. naturally, i went in to check them out immediately, found a pair that worked for me, dropped off my prescription, and picked up my new pair yesterday (just in time to hit the hip Brooklyn party scene).

so i've got a new pair of stylin spectacles. and i like to think that somewhere far away (here or abroad), someone in need will be getting a pair. so if you've got some cash and need some well-made glasses, get your self some 141's (or ask Kyle how you can help get them in your town). and tell your friends to do the same.

*basically - if someone i know goes out on a limb to do something special and unique, i'm ready and willing to support them with money or time. sure i'm a nice guy, but it's also because i'm living vicariously through their bravery and effort. so what are you waiting for? go start a for profit, not-for-profit, creative arts community program, tell some jokes, write some fiction, write some non-fiction, or even run for office.

thanks for doing something awesome Kyle.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

the book is better?

how often have you seen a movie/show and said "the book was better"? i'm usually as guilty as the next guy, i'm also a big fan of stories transcending mediums, so long as it's not a literal translation, but rather taking the story to ANOTHER level (not necessary a vertical move, but a lateral one), that is more suited to what makes the new medium so special. so in today's post i'm going to discuss 2 such transitions done right.

the Divine Loophole
a few months ago, a friend pointed the Ramayana: the Divine Loophole out to me - a(nother) retelling of the classic Hindu tale. Sanjay Patel, a Pixar artist was inspired by a more modern novelization of the sacred tale (by Ashok Banker, of which i'm still only 1/2-way thru), and decided to make it more "kid-friendly." the end result, a beautifully simple and sweeping tale that captures the essence - if not the themes - for first-generation Indian-Americans to tell the kids that they're now raising even more far-removed from their (grand)mother culture . i've already bought a few copies for various friends with kids, the majority of which are actually NOT indian. a good story is a good story (and this is from one of the greatest stories in human history). and great art is great art (i mean, the guy worked for Pixar!). besides, it's about a blue guy fighting demons with his monkey-sidekick. what's not to love?

Versus the World
ok, this half of the post was a long time coming (in fact, many of you are probably wondering why it did not come sooner, and/or accuse me of coming up with the broader highbrow topic to just talk about the film). Scott Pilgrim VS the World. with all my going on (and on) about Scott Pilgrim on this here bloog, it was only a matter of time before i let my thoughts be known. but for those of you that don't know of my fanatism, let me give you the basics about SP. it's an indie (and award-winning) comic by Bryan Lee O'Malley - about an out-of-work guy in a band who meets the girl of his dreams (literally), Ramona Flowers. but for true love to triumph, Scott must first defeat her 7 evil ex's. along the way are plenty of geek-tastic references (video games, comic books, ninjas) woven into the comic book real-life witty (and at times, charming) antics. what's not to love? 

naturally, i was pretty jazzed when i found out that director Edgar Write (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz - both 5-star films IMHO) was helming a LIVE ACTION version of my new favorite cult-comic, starring Michael Cera (Arrested Development, etc) in the heroic lead role as Scott Pilgrim. once again, for those of you who missed it the first 37 times, here's the trailer:

despite my RIDICULOUSLY high expectations the movie was actually pretty damn good (4.5 out of 5 stars). so what kept it from being a 5-star masterpiece (like my other summer movie fave: Inception?) believe it or not, high-expectations are only part of it. what was really at work in that missing 0.5 was that i was TOO familiar/enamored with the source material. over the course of a few years, and six more slowly-paced black & white graphic novels, i got to know Scott, Ramona and the gang. for awhile i even entertained the idea that Scott Pilgrim was what Calvin (of "& Hobbes" fames) must have turned out like when he grew up. while reading the books, everything else (between the panels and liberal use of onomatopoeia) was left to my imagination.

the film was a colorful, effects-filled, fast-paced, loud-music, and decidedly different (from almost any other film made) approach to the story. not minding the story, the only thing in recent memory that matches the visual spectacle of Scott Pilgrim VS. the World was the film adaptation of Speed Racer a few years back (that's LOST's Matthew Fox as Racer X kids!).

the director's approach to Scott Pilgrim was NOT to make a literal word-for-word, scene-for-scene translation of the source material, but rather to build something something that was unique and appropriate for the big screen - cramming 6 books into 1 film (unlike Harry Potter, it would not have been appropriate to break up the story into several for each volume). 

so the film was great. critics (geek and non-geek alike) loved it, and the the full row of my friends i took to see it opening weekend had a great time (though given their silence throughout, i was a little apprehensive they might want to stone me after). the style was fresh, the pacing was fun, and even the colors/costumes/lettering felt like something out of a comic (in a good way). sadly - America did not feel the same way (they were all too busy watching Eat, Pray, Love and/or the Expendables). Scott Pilgrim wasn't the blockbuster to payback the high production cost and marketing, so only lasted a few weeks in theaters. the masses don't know what they missed. 


so what's the lesson learned? it's not (always) about whether the book was better. what matters is if the story can transcend itself to be told in new and different ways in evolving mediums.

that and everybody needs a monkey-friend.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

my content conundrum (in the shallows).

WHY is it easier for me to... the Starman, Superman, or indie comics/graphic novels (via the library, TFAW, or Amazon) VS the Nick Hornby, Dave Eggers, or Ashok Banker collecting dust on my shelf/bedside table?

...skim/obsess through articles from Wired, Fast Company, and/or Google Reader VS sitting down with my weekly copies of the Economist and/or the New Yorker? an episode of Mad Men, [insert HBO series], or Clone Wars VS catching up on any # of films (foreign or domestic) that i've been meaning to watch?

damn you Nicholas Carr for articulating it so much better than i could have. but that doesn't mean i'm going to read your book (i just got 14 new graphic novels from the library)!

Friday, August 27, 2010

phone-evil, pt.2: she don't want no smart-phone?

ahh, the power of double-negatives (and poor grammar). like the double negativity of these 2 posts-as-fists in the face of the evil phone-industrial complex! WHAK! POW! 

phone manufacturers are evil (as explained in two parts) 

PART 2: she don't want no smart-phone? 

smart phones aren't for everyone. i (begrudgingly) get that. though the real icing on the cake was when my mom (and subsequently, my dad) got iPhones last year. i went thru a lot of phases (of grief) to accept this. for the longest time i was upset that they were spending quite a bit of $ (monthly data plans) on something they were hardly going to learn to use, but i eventually got over it. who was i to stop their adoption of new technologies? 

so first, thanks to Steve Jobs - for convincing my parents to hand over their hard-earned money for something they don't need (now i get my dad's objection to me getting Reebok Pumps in 5th grade). 

but this post isn't about my #1 reader (hi mom!), it's about my #0 reader, my fiance...who takes pride in NOT reading my bloog (since it's pretty much a distillation of all the other noise she gets from me on a daily basis =), so we can talk about her all we want here.

my fiance (to protect the innocent, let's simply call her "Katie") needed a new phone. the Motorola KRZR she'd been using for the past 3-4 years was finally breaking down. while i've had a smart-phone of some sort in recent years, she resisted, and i'm OK with that. 

her rationale? her phone was great, and worked fine (a battery that lasted for DAYS - remember that?). beyond that, she rarely texts, and doesn't feel the need to be online 24/7. why bother looking up random internet stuff when i'm always around (not because of my fake-omnipotence/know-it-all nature, but rather the always- on gadget in my pocket)? "Katie" is not too crazy about the Facebook or Twitter, because she recognizes the practical inanity of it all (one of the influencing factors of my "social media blackout" - which is more of a frequent brownout these days). among many other reasons, this practical, no-nonsense nature is why i love her (why she reciprocates still escapes me, but that's another post). 

and let's be clear - Katie's not a luddite. she's gets the interwebs. we chat all day at work, we're both users of the cloud (Google maps, mail, calendar, docs), she's an avid user of TripAdvisor, and she likes to her recipes online (so she can cook with cool is that?). beyond that, she tinkers/takes apart her car + electronics when she has to (probably because her dad's an oldschool car-guy, her 2 older bros are electrical engineers, and i'm useless). oh, AND she's a chemical-freaking-engineer who formulates secret formulas in a lab all day (sadly, she has yet to concoct a concoction that will grant me super powers, though i am still hoping). bottom line?  she's way smarter than you + i mere mortals (and i'm pretty sure she knows kung-fu). 

but i digress. it's time for "Katie" to get a new phone. she still doesn't want a smartphone. she just doesn't see the point. it's just another way to spend money we don't need to. as with the acceptance of my parents unnecessarily wanting one, i've come to grips with the fact that my better half does NOT necessarily want a piece of tech she doesn't need (you should see the running iPod debate in our household). one day i'll convince her otherwise, but that day is not today

so it's time to go phone-shopping in 2010. as you may recall from Part 1, i recently made the smartphone switch from Apple to Google for a # of reasons (and believe you me, i did my research). since the smartphone market has advanced so much in recent years, i would expect just as much, if not more innovation on the lower end of the phone spectrum (no pun intended nerd-readers). at at least a common adherence to good/simple design principles. boy was i ever wrong.

pretty much all non-smartphones are total crap these days. remember the Motorola Razr (the predecessor to Katie's KRZR)? that thing was heralded as THE hallmark in phone design. beyond making calls - it didn't do much. it didn't have to. it was a great looking phone that fulfilled it's primary function. nothing more, nothing less. it was a great phone used by everyone, their mother and Jack Bauer/Michael Westen.  but good phone design was restricted to Moto - there were some solid phones by Nokia and Sony-Ericsson (even Spidey had one). 

fast forward back to today and take a look at again at the non-smartphone market (via the major wireless carriers in the US). they're all non-intuitive clunkers with far too many buttons, bells and whistles - VS simply being excellent at making calls. it is shockingly appalling.

what's the reasoning here? simple. by having an inferior offering in the non-smartphone market, the wireless carriers make smartphones (with their profitable data plans/contracts) more appealing and aspirational to the masses - even though they may not need it.


so on both the high AND low end of the spectrum, i have firmly illustrated why phone manufacturers are evil. 

believe it.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

phone-evil, pt.1: goodbye Apple, hello Google.

a legitimate, long-overdue post (i always say that). but i feel compelled to write to tell you...

phone manufacturers are evil (as explained in two parts) 

PART 1: goodbye Apple, hello Google. 

so i (finally?) got rid of my iPhone, and traded (up) to Android. why'd i make the switch? allow me to elaborate, in order of easiest to most dramatic: 

1. my fiance was on Verizon. 
even though we're still living in sin, we're eventually going to be a family unit, which gives us all the more reason for a family plan (on a related note, see Pt.2). besides my 2-year contract with AT&T was up. 

2. i wanted to try something new. 
in 2007, my love-affair with smartphones began with Blackberry. i soon moved to Asia in 2008 and switched to Windows Mobile. and in 2009, after a tragic bike/phone-smashing accident (i ran into a pole, phone-pocket first), i switched to the Nokia N95. but this was just a stopgap measure. on the Jun'09 release date of the new iPhone 3G, i was first in line to get one. what began as a painful activation experience (i blame AT&T, as the folks at the Apple store were GREAT), soon led into my obsession/fascination with arguably the most advanced phone of the time. Apple made, and continues to make great devices (i recently switched to a Mac), and i mostly LOVED my iPhone (maximizing it's use for a music/media player, work/personal email, GPS, camera, etc). they changed the game for smartphones (sadly, i eventually had to cede my work email, and now also carry a Blackberry). and then Google came along with their goofy idea to get into the computer-in-your-pocket. now the only (major) player left was Google's Android. but we'll get to that later.

3. Apple screwed me (and many others).
unfortunately, like all marketers/manufacturers - Apple ultimately got too big (and partially evil) in the phone business, and stopped looking out for the little guy (me), prioritizing making a buck over optimal user experience. remember how i mentioned getting a Mac? well i finally got around to switching my iPhone over to my shiny new Mac, after which i soon received a friendly iTunes message asking me to upgrade my iPhone Operating System (OS) to iOS 4. now being a former ECE, i should have known better. new software is usually designed for new hardware. so 9 times out of 10, it's just going to slow your old hardware down. "but this is Apple," i thought, "they're smarter than that. besides, they're all about the seamless integration of hardware + software, so i should be OK." WRONG. upgrading to iOS 4 made my phone slow to a CRAWL. and could i go back to the previous version of the OS? not easily. were Apple really so obsessed with user experience, how/why would they make this happen to me? could they not have given me upgrade warnings, perhaps not even allowing me to do so (or better yet, creating an 3G-only OS "tweak"). i only found out the next day of this, and from a tech-blog, not some Apple press-release (tho i recently read this, but it's too little too late). i'm pretty sure Apple isn't this stupid (does that make them that evil? here's a similarly themed John Oliver/Wyatt Cenac bit). i'm pretty ure it's evil. they wanted me to trade up to a new phone (2 years later), even though i shouldn't HAVE to 

THAT was the final nail in the coffin. Apple got their way, and i di "trade up" my phone (and as you already know, it was NOT the iPhone 4). i got myself the sleekest (Google) Android-enabled phone, the HTC "Incredible." 

out of the box it took some getting used to, but my ability to customize and enable it how I want it (unlike the iPhone, for which you have to "jailbreak" to do so) is light-years better. not to mention i can "trade up" the memory (micro SD) and/or battery over time. and video is waaaay easier. i can simply plug-in, and drag+drop files to watch on my frequented planes and trains (whereas with iPhone i had to convert the file into an Apple-friendly format, import the file into iTunes, and THEN sync my phone. all in, a ~20/30 min process per video. bottom line, if you're REMOTELY geeky/computer savvy, go Android. if you're my parents with an iPhone 3G, hold onto it, but don't upgrade your OS (yet).

so that's that. i'm a GoogPhone guy now. 

coming up next:
      PART 2: Why does she have to get a smartphone?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

get ready to waste some time...

yea yea, my sister got married last weekend. more to come on that.

in the meantime, here's something that's taken up too much of my day already:
(NOTE - i removed the embedded ad bc the song was getting annoying everytime the bloog loaded with more recent posts - you can find + play the interactive ad here)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

WOW. a special kind of ignorance.

as many of you esteemed readers know, the staff at subscribes to a whole slew of emails from many different political factions. the latest installment from the GOP (which is curiously missing the signature of one Michael Steele) was quite interesting. 

we're not saying there were NO left-leaning provisions in the recent DISCLOSE Act - Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light On Spending in Elections (strained acronym alert!) - which would force disclosure of election-related disbursements by corporations, labor unions and nonprofit groups (based on the recent alarming Supreme Court ruling that said corporations could basically pump as much $ into campaigns as they wanted)...

...BUT for the GOP to say/send this? 

amazing, eh? send this kind of email to its constituents is just plain silly. but i've come to expect that sort of thing from them.  though let's not leave the political commentary to the echo-chamber that is often the halls of RamanCoke, let's bring in an esteemed, outside expert. 

from the Halls of Asgard (now somewhere over the great state of Oklahoma), let's ask THOR, the Norse God of Thunder what he thinks: 

hmmm. i sort of get your point Wing-Head. this sort of crap makes me want to go curl up in a ball at home too (but i mostly just wanted to jam in a cool graphic at the end so this post wasn't a complete waste of pixels)


Tuesday, July 27, 2010 notice?

sure, there are far more interesting things i COULD be writing about, but as the lady-friend and i finally started watching the namesake of this amusingly appropriate SNL skit (in the summer hiatus), it felt appropriate to share in good humor:

if you actually watched the show, you might ask yourself "who knew Bruce Campbell had a steady job?" or say something like "i didn't know there was a modern-day Macgyver-ish secret-agent show out there!"

it's no THE WIRE, BSG, or LOST, but it sure goes down like candy. and then Don Draper had to come back and ruin all my fun!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

spiderman VS batman. who?

no, this is not a post where i fanboy pontificate on who would win in a battle royale between 2 of my favorite superheroes (let's be clear, Green Lantern, the Flash, the Fantastic Four, Invincible, and Scott Pilgrim all make the cut into such a complex round robin/bracketing system akin to the World Cup). rather, view this post as a complex character study, where we make some elegant compare/contrasts.

but first let's get the basics info out of the way (for sheer entertainment value, as it really provides no useful context for the more interesting discussion below). assuming you live under a rock, let's first answer, who are they?

BATMAN  (a.k.a. "the Bat," "the Caped Crusader," "the Dark Knight," "the world's greatest detective")

  • first appearance: Detective Comics #27 (May 1939)
  • secret identity: Bruce Wayne, billionaire playboy/philanthropist
  • main squeeze: Robin (j/k, as Bruce he's a pimp and can't be held down by any one lady, though he fancies Catwoman and/or Talia, daughter of arch-nemesis Ra's Al Ghul
  • buddies: Robin, Alfred, Nightwing (the original Robin), Commissioner Gordon
  • inspiration: dead parents, bats, ninjas
  • powers: none. he's just a slightly obsessive guy in peak physical/mental condition, who's trained to be the best at everything - fighting, ninja-stuff, detectiving. also has a ton of gadgets, cars, planes, etc with a bat-prefix ("where does he get those wonderful  toys?")
  • notable media: 60s TV show (holy Adam West!), 60s movie based on TV-show, some Tim Burton movies, 2 crap-tastic Joel Schumacher movies (shudder), a few awesome cartoons ("the Animated Series," and "Batman Beyond"), 2 more recent awesome Chris Nolan movies, and even a musical

SPIDER-MAN (a.k.a. Spidey, Wallcrawler, Webhead, "Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man," "Threat or Menace?")

  • first appearance: Amazing Fantasy #15 (August 1962)
  • secret identity: Peter Parker, freelance photographer, closet scientist, sometimes schoolteacher
  • main squeeze: Mary Jane Watson, Gwen Stacey (deceased), 
  • buddies: Harry Osborn, Johnny Storm, Luke Cage, Wolverine
  • inspiration: dead uncle (Ben), pro-wrestlers
  • powers: does whatever a spider can (sticks to walls, a "spider sense"); spins a web, any size (web-shooters), catches thieves just like flies; Is he strong? Listen bud; He's got radioactive blood (and thus the proportionate strength of a spider)
  • notable media: 1975 rock album, 1977 TV show, 1978 Japanese TV show, 80s cartoon, 1995 Ramone's theme song cover, an awesome 2003MTV CGI-animated series (with Neil Patrick Harris as the voice of Spidey!), a few other so-so cartoons, 3 Sam Raimi films starring Tobey Macguire (the first 2/3 of which were really good), and an upcoming musical.

so what's the deal with these 2 (a.k.a. why am i bothering to write this post) pinnacles of super-awesomeness? it's about

...who are they really?

Bats is just a [war-on-crime obsessed] guy (with LOTS of money). his fanaticism stems from the childhood trauma of having his parents gunned down in front of him by a common criminal. but still just a guy (who dresses up at night and runs around in tights and a cape). to strike fear into the heart of criminals ("a cowardly, superstitious lot"), he has BECOME a symbol of fear and terror - or more specifically, a bat. but it doesn't end by simply putting on the pointy ears. Bruce Wayne IS Batman. and Bruce Wayne is just a mask that he wears to blend in around the rest of us.

Spidey is the everyman. as Peter Parker, he has hopes, dreams, lame low-paying jobs (with jackass boss), limited success with the ladies (though he DID wind up marrying a super-model, so maybe there's an aspirational element to it), and an uncomfortable amount of guilt. he just happend to ALSO be randomly bitten by a radioactive spider (it could have happened to any of us), got powers, and decided to make some cash with it. by shirking his responsibilities to use those powers for good, his father-figure uncle was gunned down by a petty thief Peter could have stopped (and thus the lesson that "with great power comes great responsibility"). and to this day PETER carries that guilt around with him. so everything Spider-Man says and does is really Peter (even those cracks he makes wise with the bad-guys, which is really what he WANTS to say to everyone else mean from his "real" life)

so there you have it: 
    Bruce Wayne is really Batman.
          Spider Man is really Peter Parker.

your welcome.
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