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)!
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