2015: Entertainment

I recounted the most impactful entertainment pieces for me in 2014. These are mine for the year of 2015.

Movies I Saw

  • Room
  • Inside Out
  • Ex Machina
  • The Search for General Tso
  • Spy
  • TV Shows I Watched

  • The Leftovers
  • Togetherness
  • The Affair
  • Game of Thrones
  • Mad Men
  • Books I Read

  • The Martian
  • Eleanor & Park
  • The Girl with All the Gifts
  • On the Run: Fugitive Life in an American City
  • Still Alice
  • Ways to Pass the Time

  • Writing workshops
  • Cooking my favorite foods
  • Selling unused items
  • “Konmari” my room
  • Cycling
  • Technology

  • Duolingo
  • Google Photos
  • Glow
  • Yerdle
  • Snapchat
  • My Favorite Movies of Each Year: 2003 to 2013

    Only because I couldn’t help but make my own list much like loudlysilent. As I made this list, I realized that my taste is very eclectic—it ranges from Asian American pride to foreign-philia to zombies to deep relationships to rainbow equality to simple good vs. evil. Whatever the case, I am drawn to good storytelling on a big screen. Shiny objects don’t work for me (you hear that, entertainment marketers?). The key to my heart is a story of hope and innocence. Also if it’s a story about being an outsider (probably why there’s so many films on same-sex relationships), well you got me.

    Note: The year corresponds to the year that the movie was released in the US (or if I saw it at a film festival), which doesn’t always correspond to when I saw it. After all for the first part of this decade, I was a poor graduate student. Like Roger Ebert, no runner-ups, but jury prize for the movies that should be first place, but for whatever reason, it can’t be first. It was very hard to choose.

    Let’s start with the worst movie of the last 10 years. Well at least the worst movie that I was subjected to seeing. There were many of course. There were the stories of love that had flat characters and a boring storyline. There were the action movies that was just about CRASH and BANG and very little substance. Congratulations to The Room who made it into the list. I was subjected to it as a “pleasant” post-dinner event (they did warn me though)and a cult midnight showing where I promptly fell asleep and awoke to the director giving an oblivious Q&A. It’s a film of self-indulgence, cheap filmmaking, and an overly dramatic ridiculous plotline that makes no sense. Well Lisa, you’re tearing me APART!


    2003: Good Bye Lenin!

    Good Bye, Lenin!

    Why I loved it: This was the beginning of my love affair with Berlin (the reason for its end is another story completely). I loved the clash of the East vs. West (in those days, it was really just a symbol of the Cold War). The actual story is about one of the world’s biggest political transitions—the end of the Cold War—and how a mother, an authentic socialist believer, was protected from the real world by her children.
    Jury Prize: Finding Nemo, The Station Agent

    2004: Before Sunset

    Before Sunset

    Why I loved it: Much like Before Sunrise, this sequel followed the same city wandering as the last movie of Julia Delpy and Ethan Hawke. There are too many movies out there about the beginning of love and so few about what happens afterwards when we are jaded and too experienced. Granted, I love this one more now than in 2004 when “beginnings” were more appropriate for me. I am jaded too.
    Jury Prize: Shaun of the Dead, Saving Face, Oldboy

    2005: Brokeback Mountain

    Brokeback Mountain

    Why I loved it: Relationships are hard. I get it. But rarely do films show this well. Going into this, I had a fondness for Ang Lee and Jake Gyllenhaal (before 2004, it was The Good Girl and Donnie Darko that got my attention). Heath Ledger was just that guy that played teenage romance movies. Interestingly, I remember being surprised that Jake Gyllenhaal’s character was as engaging as that of Heath Ledger. It’s hard to play someone with complexity and struggle. At that time, I struggled with acceptance and authenticity.
    Jury Prize: Good Night and Good Luck

    2006: The Departed


    Why I loved it: Because I loved Infernal Affairs. Truthfully, one of the main reasons I watched Infernal Affairs was that I hoped it would shed light on my parents’ childhood growing up in Hong Kong. To my dismay, of course, their lives were not filled with gangs and crime (from what I understand, it was much like mine—idyllic but in a big city). But who doesn’t love a story of good and evil wrapped up with…more good and evil. I was disappointed the the Police Chief’s role was small as it was bigger in Infernal Affairs.
    Jury Prize: Pan’s Labyrinth

    2007: Persepolis


    Why I loved it: I first read the graphic novel in book club. Like many Americans, I had a very narrow and stereotypical view of the Middle East. This was my first time to see their lives and the sadness that happened in Iran. That they are truly like us. And more so, that my teenage experience is very much like someone in Iran. For more, read I am Malala and watch A Separation.
    Jury Prize: Juno, Ratatouille, The Mist

    2008: The Dark Knight

    The Dark Knight

    Why I loved it: Heath Ledger appears twice in this list. But I wouldn’t say that it’s just because of his acting ability. It was everything here. For me, the ferry scene was what did it for me. To trust the people and to trust honesty. This complexity just got me.
    Jury Prize: In Bruges, Departures, Milk

    2009: Up


    Why I loved it: The first 10 minutes. Lovey dovey films and songs are everywhere. My love of the Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, and Before Midnight is compressed in the first 10 minutes.
    Jury Prize: Up in the Air, District 9, Precious

    2010: Inception


    Why I loved it: Incredible visual effects. The dream vs. reality. The dream within a dream. The spinning top. The exploration of what it means to make an inner intention. And simply put, a compelling story.
    Jury Prize: Klown, The Kids Are All Right, The Social Network

    2011: Weekend


    Why I loved it: There’s nothing as special as two people meeting and having lasting conversations. To me, it was as simple romance should be. Plus the fact that one person is closeted and the other isn’t.
    Jury Prize: Drive, Remington and the Curse of the Zombadings

    2012: Argo


    Why I love it: Great storytelling. It is simply what Hollywood is. A story of how the remaining Americans at the beginning of the Iranian revolution got out through the most Hollywood way ever.
    Jury Prize: Compliance, Ted, Pina

    2013: Gravity


    Why I loved it: Going into the movie (in IMAX) of course, I thought it was a movie about special effects. I mean, really, we have seen many movies shot in space. What I discovered was a story, even though it was at a small scale, that was human and real. Unlike many movies, the “enemy” wasn’t a human figure or some monster. It’s just a fact of nature or in this case, space. It is a bad day in space. But the ability of Sandra Bullock and George Clooney to convey who they are in such a small view…says so much. If this was a book, I wouldn’t read it. But as a film, this is everything a film should be. A film is about a deep story, visuals that engage the viewer, and performances that make us feel a part of the story. Where the metaphors and themes speak so deeply to me in loss and hope. Not to mention, I loved the ending alluding to rebirth.
    Jury Prize: What Maisie Knew, Blue is the Warmest Color, Fruitvale Station

    BURFday wishlist 2014

    This year, I am spending it in San Francisco. Unlike the rare last year where I didn’t do some crazy celebration.

    This year, I am better grounded. Although a bit more cynical and jaded. But as for my birthday? What’s crazy is that I nearly got everything from last year’s wishlist minus the serendipity while traveling (turns you really have to plan and just wandering doesn’t mean that there are pleasant surprises everywhere) and the portable tripod never quite appeared.

    But for my wishes! Well!

    Previous years: 2013, 2012, forgotten year in 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, a forgotten year of 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002

    1. Presence > Present
    2. CANDY! Although Chris has caught on and will prevent me from OD’ing on candy.
    3. More opportunities to improve my craft of writing (more classes, maybe conferences?)
    4. BE PUBLISHED LIKE LEGITIMATELY (and not just self-published—can somewhere please accept my pieces???)
    5. Another pair of casual walking shoes (because apparently my shoes from last year are almost worn out!)
    6. The wisdom to know when to strengthen a friendship and when it’s just simply not worth it
    7. Endless supplies of snacks and tasty juices
    8. A better macbook pro

    Birthday WISHlist 2013

    This year, I will be spending my birthday abroad in Rome. Ever since I was young, I always had a self-entitled day. But this year, for my 31st, I’ll be in Florence with my number one fan. They say Italy will be enrapturing. But will it? I don’t know. I stopped being fascinated by Italian cuisine when I reached my teens (no more spaghetti and meatballs!). And wine? Unless it’s high quality grape juice… But the culture of Italy, that is what I seek to experience!

    Previous years: 2012, forgotten year in 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, a forgotten year of 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002

    1. Safe unencumbered travels abroad (like not getting lost)
    2. Serendipity while traveling (no more ending up in concrete jungles of nothing)
    3. A better cheap AT&T data plan
    4. So that it makes sense to upgrade my spotify account
    5. Good casual walking shoes
    6. Homemade ice cream. Like really homemade.
    7. Candy!
    8. Portable tripod

    Things I forgot and will swear that I won’t forget next time

    I really won’t forget next time. Really. A list of things that I forgot to bring.

  • Mini tripod
  • Extra battery for camera. Charger optional
  • Noise-canceling over the head headphones
  • All kinds of medicine to soothe all kinds of ills including bug bites
  • More dark neutral tops
  • Map of the local area and prepared directions
  • Travel pillow
  • And…to prevent this kind of situation from happening:

    Sending my fellow accomplice (of trouble) into a local Rite Aid to that special aisle at 1 in the morning and the cashier smirking during the harried payment, “Late night emergency, huh?”

    Two weeks plus in retrospective

    In two weeks, so many things can happen. For better or for worse. Unexpected and predictable. Then there are the moments you won’t forget. The news you didn’t expect to hear. The stares. The return to what once was. The snow slowly falling. The rain pouring. A cold that won’t go away. The small things that come in a box. The people who you found to be always there for you. The familiar faces you never thought would return. And then the wonder of new things, new events, new faces. And the grandness of the future.

    Things I learned in the past 2 weeks:

  • Groundhog day is really an excuse for a huge party. And an excuse for college students to create a mosh pit and crowd surf. On February 2nd, the appearance of the Groundhog Phil at Punxsutawney. He says, “Spring shall come early!”

    Phil, what did you say?

  • All great things must come to end.
  • But when you open your heart, amazing things happen. Be ready for the pleasant surprises.

    Closed hearts

    Open hearts

  • Despite the many food challenges, I can really eat a lot!

    Look it's me!

  • And there always new people to meet at every corner

  • But there are some friends I’ll never forget

    Former roommates - Jen and Jenn

  • The symphony at Heinz Hall is amazing especially a piece designed for a solo trumpet

    Looking up into Heinz Hall

  • Watching a large ship sail into the Bay is so much better than watching the Super Bowl

    Oh it does fit!

  • Don’t participate in the pillow fight if you have full makeup on (and want to keep it on). But if you do, it’s a definite great work out. Make sure you wear something that you don’t mind getting full of feathers. You might also want to wear something so that you don’t breathe in feathers.

    I am on the right in my dress

  • Legally Blonde (the musical) is really that good. Like oh my god?!
  • When you see an unguarded balloon, take it asap. It might not be there later.
  • There’s street cleaning on my side of the street on Thursdays. On the other side of the street, it’s every day except Thursdays.
  • There are patrolling cops on weekend nights that will give parking tickets. So yes you can get a parking ticket for parking in the middle of the street in the Mission
  • Moodjam!
  • Silver linings are in every gray cloud.
  • Phone calls and lists

    Phone calls in order of increasing anxiety
    10. Tech support
    9. Parents. The I did something very bad and need your help type.
    8. Scheduling doctor appointments
    7. Trying to overcome language barriers
    6. Phone interviews
    5. That unexpected call at 4 am
    4. Apartment management companies. At least when I rented from Walnut Capital.
    3. Calling someone I don’t know well to…hang out because they don’t do aim.
    2. Restaurants for food delivery. Every time I do it, the other party gets irritated because I don’t speak clearly and/or loudly.
    1. Insurance companies

    Telemarketers fit there somewhere, but when was the last time I experienced one? Right.

    There is a reason I love the automated systems. That is, if I get my question gets answered. I <3 511. But my favorite calls in random order 1. Birthday wishes (me to you) 2. "I have arrived. Where are you?" Goal-directed. 3. The unexpected call from a friend to say hello 4. The unexpected call to hang out spontaneously 5. "FREE FOOD"

    Ever since coming back to the Bay Area, I have…

  • visited the Berkeley Rose Garden for the first time (with Jack and Lily)
  • partially unpacked my boxes and luggage (a mess of band-aids, papers and books is still downstairs)
  • rediscovered the ring I lost over and over again I originally got in Pittsburgh, wearing it on my left middle finger
  • had multiple doctor appointments
  • realized that I have a fantastic memory for remembering all these appointments
  • ate ribs at Evervett Jones with Lulu
  • will get a Southwest Rapid Rewards ticket soon!
  • rented a car for the first time and also felt embarrassed about not knowing how the process worked (the lady at the counter was speaking so fast!)
  • played with a GPS device included with the rental for the first time–better than the one Ben has…
  • speaking of which, I caught up with the other Ben, Benjamin Bunny, after being out of touch for almost two years
  • met E finally in PERSON after being delayed and delayed in true California fashionably late style
  • met up with Shinelun, Mr. Shiny, again
  • actually let SHINELUN swipe the bill. tsk tsk
  • seen E terrorize Shinelun for eating sour oranges despite a \”perceived reluctance\”
  • have seen Shinelun not flinch to such attacks–he is a strong boy
  • enjoyed the suburbia of LA county…to a certain extent
  • did not experience traffic!!!
  • found fantastic tea places and cupcakes in Claremont
  • bought gas at $3.17/gallon thanks to the NeverLost GPS system…woo!
  • received multiple e-mails for phone interviews — some for positions I want, some not, some in bad locations, some in great locations
  • nearly all-day on-site interview — it was incredibly not stressful, but I wonder if it was because I had taken a Dayquil…
  • bought a $3 strawberry buttercream cupcake in Claremont which I ate in a record 2 minutes
  • chatted up with some guys on the LaRoche campaign and told them honestly that I was not interested in their cause, gave them $5 and they sang me a song
  • stole wireless broadband from Starbucks
  • nagged by parents, but hey that\’s \”home\”
  • List of my first experiences in Pittsburgh

  • doing laundry (seriously)
  • drinking a (half) glass of wine
  • going out to a club and actually enjoying myself
  • going to a bar and actually enjoying myself without drinking anything
  • hosting a house party
  • attending parties where I knew only one person but still enjoying myself
  • going to an opera
  • going to a symphony
  • spending more than $50 on dinner
  • having a real date
  • using a cellphone as my only line of communication
  • playing softball (for fun)
  • taking a hip hop class
  • A reiteration of the things I must do before leaving Pittsburgh – what I have done and what needs to be done.

    1. Go to the Shadow Lounge again. Actually sit down and listen to music.
    2. Eat brunch at Sunnyledge.
    3. Eat brunch at Lidia\’s.
    4. Visit the church on Craig/Forbes.
    5. Eat at a restaurant at Mt. Washington.
    6. Have dinner at Mallorca.
    7. Go to the Carnegie Science Center.
    8. Try Club Havana. Salsa?
    9. Eat at Eleven.
    10. Eat at Chaya.
    11. Enjoy a walk at Point State Park
    12. Go to Phipps and actually experience the botany.
    13. Ross Park Mall
    14. Steelers game? What?
    15. Nationality rooms at the Cathedral of Learning.
    16. Cafe at the Frick.
    17. Tour the Homewood Cemetery.
    18. Visit the Negley tomb in the Allegheny Cemetery.
    19. Cross the river on the good ship lollypop?
    20. Go into the church in East Liberty.
    21. Walk through Station Square.
    22. Find fight club at cmu. Try to stay out of harm\’s way.
    23. Appreciate the sun on the mall.
    24. Stephen Foster Memorial and cabin.
    25. Eat a cookie at Prantil\’s.
    26. Pig\’s hill?
    27. Go to Kennywood.
    28. Have a moment from the view at Mt. Washington.
    29. Be posh at the Red Room.
    30. Take a walk in Regent Square
    31. Eat wings at the wing zone.
    32. Be a carnivore at the Pittsburgh Steak Company.
    33. Breakfast at a riverside hotel. Like the Sheraton or the Hilton.
    34. Dine at the Cafe Du Jour.
    35. Satisfy my sweet tooth at El Dolce. Turned out it didn\’t exist, but I went inside crazy mocha for the first time!
    36. See a movie at Harris Theater. (the Silk Screen film festival!)
    Added recently
    37. The places I didn\’t visit during my self-created ice cream tour. Like Handel\’s Ice Cream and Page\’s Dairy Mart
    38. Frick Park
    39. Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium
    40. Drop by the Craft Factory apparently, not possible!
    41. One date
    42. Peruse Fort Pitt Museum
    43. Gobble a sandwich at Tram\’s Kitchen
    44. Start a morning at Square Cafe
    45. Feast on 150 slice pizza at Mama Lena\’s
    46. Visit what used to be Sanctuary
    47. Experience the Cambod-ican Kitchen
    48. Kill my wallet at that french restaurant on Murray – La Provence
    49. Get a haircut in Pittsburgh I got Salon service at least
    50. See a play at CMU
    51. The vegetarian Indian restaurant near Monroeville
    52. Dine at A Taste of Art (a training ground for high end restaurant work)
    53. Reluctantly try Tasty\’s
    54. Partake of Cafe Zinho
    55. Casual business lunch downtown
    56. Chow down at Kazansky\’s Deli
    57. Roll down that hill in a trash can (someone suggested this to me)
    58. Try a Yuengling
    59. Experience the Regina Miller Gallery
    60. See an entire (student) performance at the CFA
    61. Eat kosher food at Milky Way
    62. Touch the water of the three rivers in Pittsburgh
    63. Indica Bistro
    64. Break my wallet again at Casbah
    65. Experience Halo Lounge during the day
    66. That only Polish Restaurant in Little Italy
    67. Wildwood. By Lily\’s suggestion!
    68. Attend a wonderful screening of TBA
    69. Visit the Frame
    70. Spend money at a local Pittsburgh boutique
    71. Dawdle at 1889 Cafe
    72. D\’s Six Packs and Dogs
    73. De Lucca\’s
    74. Underground tour of CMU
    75. Indiana, PA?
    76. Roland\’s Seafood
    77. Stand on the balcony of CFA or Margaret Morrison
    78. Ibiza
    79. La Casa on Ellsworth
    80. Do it the Pittsburgh Rare way
    81. Run through the train tunnel near CMU
    82. Leave with no regrets