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The Buddha is mobile now

LaMarcus Aldridge: NBA Western Conference Player of the Week

I don’t have many favorite sports teams, but I have to root for the Portland Trailblazers being as they are my hometown team. So, I take great pride in the fact that my team’s own LaMarcus Aldridge has been named this week’s Player of the Week by the NBA. Go, LA!

Animate It!

I volunteer for Film Action Oregon because of my ongoing endeavors in film-making and because they stand for such a great cause.  What they also do quite well is empower the youth through the film arts.  Animate It! is just one of their programs that help that cause.  Here’s the info:

Beginner Class
Beginner level Animate It! workshop for kids ages 7-11. Students will learn about the art of animation by creating their very own stop-motion animation video! Students who do not feel ready for an advanced Animate It! workshop are highly encouraged to participate. The class will incorporate various fun, DIY animation techniques building towards the creation of an animated sequence!

Dates: January 22nd and January 23rd
Times: 10am-1pm both days
Location: The Hollywood Theatre
Cost: $70, limited scholarships available

Advanced Class
Have you taken an animation class before? Are you familiar with how to use stop motion software? Join our new advanced level Animate It! workshop. Students will work with a professional animator to expand their technical knowledge, and learn how to incorporate audio into their films. Class size is extremely limited, so enroll soon! Animate It! workshop will be instructed by animator Dan Ackerman, Director of ‘Ackerman Films’ and owner of ‘Stage 13’ Production Studio

Dates:
Saturday, January 29th
Sunday, January 30th
Saturday, February 5th
Sunday, February 6th
Times: 10am-1pm each day
Location: The Hollywood TheatreCost: $200

Call 503-493-1128 to enroll

Here’s the link to their website:  http://www.filmactionoregon.org/educating/animate_it.html

What better way to enrich a youth’s life than through the arts!

A Family Less Ordinary

I’ve really taken to the TV Show called No Ordinary Family (ABC, Tuesdays, 9pm) partly because, well, in all honesty, I miss Heroes.  But mostly because I’m beginning to really like the characters and what they go through to balance possessing extraordinary abilities with everyday life.

Jim (Michael Chiklis) is the head of the not so ordinary Powell family.  He is a police sketch artist who wants to do more.  He developed the ability of super-strength and invulnerability.  We already know Chiklis can play a superhero, so Jim is no stretch.  However, I like the restrained excitement with which he plays his character, tempered with an “all around good guy” vibe.  Stephanie (Julie Benz) is Jim’s wife, and is a very successful scientist at Global Tech, Stephanie developed super speed, which has come in very handy on more than one occasion.  (Fanboy Segue: Benz played the vampire “Darla,” one of my most favorite characters from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series.)  Rounding out the family are Daphne (Kay Panabaker), the daughter who developed the ability to read minds as well as tactile postcognition, and JJ (Jim Bennett), the formerly not-so-smart son who ironically developed super intelligence.

Supported by “sidekicks” George St. Cloud (Romany Malco), District Attorney who also happens to be a good friend of Jim’s, and Katie Andrews (adorably portrayed by Autumn Reeser), Stephanie’s lab assistant, the Powells are able to evolve into a superpowered family you can get behind.  And now that new characters (both good and bad) continue to be introduced– not to mention that the character of Will/Joshua (played by Josh Stewart) continues to evolve into something more than just a hired gun for Dr. King– I’m making space in DVR to catch the Powells do their thing.

What I appreciate most about Family is that, unlike Heroes, they don’t seem to take themselves too seriously.  Of course, it helps that it’s family friendly (probably slated for syndication on ABC Family at some point), so it has that aw-shucks and a we’re-just-trying-to-be-normal-even-though-we-kick-ass approach.  It is perhaps this lightheartedness that makes me appreciate it more.  Oh, sure, there’s a badass villain who happens to be Stephanie’s boss, Dr. King (portrayed by Commander Decker! a.k.a. Stephen Collins) but even that character (for now) seems pretty harmless.

Let’s just hope they don’t jump the shark at some point by suddenly granting powers to the previously non-powered (*cough* Ando *cough*) or by doing something else that is purely nonsensical.  I’d like to be able to enjoy the Powells for a very long time.

The Slow, Agonizing Death of Customer Service.

As someone who’s worked in the service industry for over two decades, I will attest to the fact that most customers suck, and some, I’m convinced, live to make the service industry professionals’ lives a living hell.  This, of course, can lead to service professionals’ overall discontent over their jobs, which can lead to poor customer service.  Which then leads to customer dissatisfaction.  Etcetera, etcetera.  It’s a vicious cycle.

Okay, so bad customer service is never that bad.  Not always.

Chalk it up to lack of training and low expectations, I suppose.  And maybe even geography.  Service in Portland, Oregon, for instance, will be way different– better or worse– than that  in, say, New York City or Los Angeles.

And it may also be culturally influenced.  Service in Japan (or most anywhere in Asia, for that matter) is traditionally outstanding.  Although it is not completely immune to lesser versions, it would still blow the Westerners’ version out of the water.

What’s more frustrating is that, these days, it seems people in the service industry may not even be aware that they are providing service that is less than stellar.  Is it because more and more consumer needs are being met without intermediaries via self-service kiosks or online transactions?  The human interface being diminished or, in most cases, eliminated altogether, that the very notion of customer service has become foreign?  I don’t know if I completely buy that, but I’m sure it’s a contributor.

With the way nearly everything going to full automation in the “civilized world,” perhaps customer service will soon be a thing of the past.  I’m sure some will argue that it already is.

Merry Christmas!

Pop Culture-Infused Vocabulary

I like using pop references in everyday conversation.  I’m convinced it keeps me hip and young, and makes everyone like me.  There’s nothing like a good movie or song reference used to throw people off guard and make them realize just how awesome and smart you are.  Here are some examples:

28 Days Later. I have an absurd fear of zombies.  And this particular zombie movie scares the shit out of me.  So, I think in an effort to try to address that fear, I sometimes use this movie title in conversation but as a verb.  I would say something like, “I would hate to be 28 Days Latered.”  I also use it as an adjective, to describe something infinitely frightening.  “God, that’s so fucking 28 Days Later!”

Kanye West. You’d have to have been living under a rock to not be aware of the time when Kanye West grabbed the microphone from Taylor Swift’s hand after winning MTV VMA Video of the Year in 2009, and Kanye was a-yellin’ and a-screamin’ about how it should’ve been Beyonce who won the award.  Sure the reference is a year old by now, but I still get a chuckle (or confused look) when I say things like, “Suzy just went all Kanye West on David at the meeting,” in reference to Suzy stealing David’s thunder during a presentation.

Groundhog Day.  This is one of my favorite movies of all time.  In fact, I was just watching this on my iPhone while driving up to Seattle last night.  It’s a classic.  There are so many useful sound bytes in this movie.  One of my favorites is the scene between Phil and Mrs. Lancaster on the second go-about:

Phil:  “Do you ever have deja vu, Mrs. Lancaster?”

Mrs. Lancaster:  “I don’t think so, but I could check with the kitchen.”

But anyway, whenever I feel like I’m dealing with the same shit all over again, I’d throw my arms in the air and bellow, “This is so fucking Groundhog Day!”  My cubicle neighbors unfailingly cower in fear.

Jet Li. Whenever I feel like imparting physical pain over someone because they pissed me off– or just because I feel like it– I would taunt them by saying something like, “Don’t make me go all Jet Li on you.”  Again, they would cower in fear because, since I’m Asian, they already assume I know kung fu.  I’m not about to correct them.