Sunday, May 30, 2010

Albuquerque: The Unknown

A couple guys that I work with created this short documentary about moving out to Albuquerque. It's funny, sweet, and true:

Albuquerque: The Unknown from Puzzled Pictures on Vimeo.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

What I Love, #2

The olfactory edition of things I love:

I love the smell of jacaranda trees. There is a short stretch of 183rd Street, near my parents' house, that is lined with jacarandas. They bloom suddenly and with violently purple flowers in the spring, and the smell is completely overwhelming. I miss those trees.

I love the smell of strawberries just after they are washed. Strawberries are one of the few foods that I will eat and eat and eat and eat and eat. It's amazing that I'm not allergic to them, I've eaten so many in my life. I adore strawberries, fresh, frozen, baked, pureed, in ice cream ... yum.

I love the smell of ragu after it's been cooking for five hours. The smell of success! It's also the most complex, deep smell, something that can't be achieved unless all five of those hours are invested. It's a commitment, but so worth it.

I love the smell of Dior Fahrenheit, it reminds me of Dear John. I've been talking about him a lot lately, I'm not sure why. As soon as I catch a whiff of Fahrenheit, I am immediately reminded of him, the good, the bad, the drama, the mundane.

I love the smell of Acqua di Gio by Giorgio Armani, it doesn't remind me of anyone. I only like the men's scent, not the women's. I'm very much biased towards men who smell like Acqua di Gio, for no reason other than the fact that it smells like springtime and rain and freshness and deliciousness.

I love the smell of rice cooking. When rice is bubbling away in a ricecooker, steaming, just before it is fully cooked, it suddenly smells wonderful. I am hungry about two seconds after I can smell cooking rice, it's that powerful to me. It probably helps that I really love rice.

I love the smell of a freshly poured glass of red wine, before it develops its real scent, when it's still tangy and shallow. I don't like to drink the wine until it's had a chance to breathe, but I like the smell of it while it's still suffocating. Odd, yes.

I love the smell of synthetic engine oil, it reminds me of my dad. He has explained the different between traditional and synthetic oil to be many times, but I still don't have it quite clear. I do like the smell of the synthetic stuff, though- metallic and unctuous, and not at all bad.

I love the smell of cheese. I love cheese! I really like the smell of cold Brie, room-temperature Camembert, and slightly melted grated Parmigiano, just before it's cooled into crisp-chewy cheese crackers. Cheese is glorious. I feel nothing but pain for lactose-intolerant people in the world.

It's amazing how evocative different smells are. I've always had a very good sense of smell, and it's strongly tied to memory- one whiff of a certain combination of scents and I'm immediately taken back to whatever moment it was that I am reminded of.

This exercise, listing what I love, is sort of working. I keep thinking of things that I like, rather than spending time fretting about things that are frustrating or annoying.

I've started doing yoga, so that's probably helping, too, though I'm half asleep when I put myself through the paces at 7:00 in the morning.

Carrying on over here, trying not to freak out about turning 28 in a week and half....


Friday, May 21, 2010

VFX Sweatshops

Interesting article about my industry, from Time.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

(500) Days of Summer, For the Love of LA

(I'm warning you now, if you haven't watched this movie, this post will not make any sort of sense.)

It's been almost a year since I first wrote about "(500) Days of Summer."

Lots of things have happen since last August. I find that when I watch movies, a lot of what I take away has to do with my emotions at the time. When I watched "Paper Heart," I was feeling rather chirpy and optimistic, so I felt buoyed and cheered by the movie (review some other time).

I knew that I really liked "(500) Days of Summer" when I re-watched it and found that I was carried away by the film, without being unduly influenced by my own internal thoughts. I fell back in love with Tom Hansen, I rekindled my love of The Smiths and Regina Spektor, and I re-listened to the soundtrack, which I had purchased after my first viewing of the movie. Still good.

More than anything, the way Los Angeles is portrayed in this movie is amazing. I don't know if this would be the same if I didn't know the city, but I do know the city, and I love the city, and this movie really beautifully displays honest parts of the city without Vaseline-smeared lenses of googly-eyed love. One of the scenes in this movie that really sticks out in my mind is when Tom goes to a rooftop party at Summer's apartment and, realizing that she is engaged and his fantasy of a romantic reunion are kaput, leaves in a cloud of tears and self-hatred. He emerges from her building, banging through black iron bars, behind which are green plants and pretty flowers. He's back out on the concrete, outside of Summer's cage, the confines of which are where he wants to be. He doesn't want to be released back into the city, he wants to stay trapped.

It's a sad scene, to be sure, and the side-by-side of Tom's expectations versus the reality of the party are depressing and poignant. I love that. I didn't really get that until the second viewing of this movie because the first time I saw the film, I was too distracted by the fact that Summer lived in the Barclay, a building that I almost lived in. I looked at places in both the Barclay and the Piccadilly and ended up at the Piccadilly, for a year of living amongst the worst drivers in the city. There were a lot of those distractions for me when I first watched the movie, and it took me away from the story. This time, I was better prepared for it and less distracted, to discover new depths to the film that I very much enjoyed.

When Tom dances in glee after a big night with Summer, with cartoon bluebird, UCLA marching band, and pedestrians in blue, he trips merrily through the Civic Center Mall and right in front of the Arthur Will Memorial Fountain, places I have been. Regretfully, I have not danced in any of the places Tom dances in, though I did have a memorable dance in a bookstore once to an Etta James song. (For all the LA locations, see this handy Google map.)

The gray cement tunnel that Tom and Summer drive into as they listen to Carla Bruni, the ugly parking structures, the cracked sidewalks, the suburban soccer fields, the douchey bars, all of these are background blips in the movie but such strong indicators of LA. As much as the movie is about a relationship between two people, it's also about this flawed but interesting city. There's a vibe and an energy that the movie really captured, that isn't really describable but very palpable as soon as you set foot in LA (downtown, really, the westside does not have the same sensibilities at all).

I don't go to downtown often, but I always find it immensely absorbing every time I do. I used to go downtown for art shows, where wine and cheese were served alongside avant garde and often gruesome pieces of art. I don't pretend to have like all the shows, but I loved the people: the weird, the ugly, the incredible, and I always enjoyed how the art crowd devolved into a party crowd by the time the liquor was dwindling down to its final dregs.

Tom and Summer and all their friends are definitely the softer side of downtown LA. There are plenty of harder-edged people there, that wouldn't give a second glance to a sweet boy like Tom. It's part of what makes downtown so fun, and gives it its unique energy.

For a movie made on a shoestring budget (less than $10 million), it's amazing how well everything was depicted. Marc Webb, thank you for the love sonnet to LA, it makes me miss home.


Monday, May 17, 2010

What I Love, #1

I've been reading lots of self-help lately, because I feel restless and unsettled. All the advice I've read has blurred together in my little brain, so I couldn't say which source it was that told me to do a simple exercise (they're all listed as simple, frequently untruthfully) and list the things I love.

Not things I love in a general sense, like family, friends, or cheese, but very specific things that I love, that I can clearly picture or remember or hearken back to. So, in an effort to help myself and to try and untangle the mazes in my head, I'm going to try it.

I love the freeways in Albuquerque. They are not the drab grayish greenish concrete of Californian freeways, but a bright and rather cheerful reddish clay color, with energetic turquoise trim.

This is where the 40 and the 25 meet, between my workplace and my apartment. I took this photo when I was driving back home yesterday, after my whirlwind week in LA. It made me smile to see these freeways, and it was then that I realized- I love Albuquerque.

I love Palms Boulevard, between National Boulevard and Motor Avenue, in Los Angeles, just off the 10 freeway. (Apparently, this is my streets-and-freeways edition.) Seven years ago, while sniffling with a cold, I got into my first (but not last) fight with Dear John. It was the first time I realized that fights are not the end of the world, and certainly not the end of a relationship. It was a big moment for me. Even with my runny nose, congestion, and wooziness, I recognized that it was something to remember, and I have always kept it with me, remembering it.

I am struggling with relationships right now. I don't have any serious ones here in Albuquerque, nor do I want them, but I feel like I am gradually cutting myself off from the people that I was once so very close to. My two best friends are in San Francisco. My other friends have scattered, to New York, Korea, Japan, Canada, or other places not easily visitable. I have not helped matters, of course, by moving into the Midwest Southwest (thanks, Amanda and my co-worker!), where I am surrounded by desert and not much else.

During my random browsings online, I also read something about friendship being a choice. It is a choice. Do I make time for my friends? Or would I rather go home and sleep? Do I make time to do things with my friends? Or do I go home and draw? Particularly as we get older, and people start to pair off and get married or move in together, it comes down to consciously choosing what we want to do with our time.

I'm not sure what I want to do with my time yet, and am retreating into work until I figure it out.

Meanwhile, I'll be thinking about things that I love, and why I love them, and hopefully, that keeps my thoughts from wandering into anything too dark.


Sunday, May 16, 2010


What IS IT with people in animation??



Thursday, May 13, 2010

Inspired to Read

I have books on the brain!

First of all, I am currently reading "The Season of the Witch," by Natasha Mostert. I'm in LA, I needed a bit of a mental reprieve from anything too thought-provoking. It's good so far, full of just enough angst and weird witchy incidents to keep me interested. It's fluff, nothing life-altering, but fun- something like a beach read, but for dark and gloomy days, when staying in is so much nicer than going out.

Plus, she gets bonus points for having games on her website. Any author committed enough to figure out how to get two themed games onto their website is okay in my book (har, har).

Second of all, my sister and I had a very nice, relaxing dinner at home last night, bunny hopping about underfoot, and then watched "The Jane Austen Book Club." It's actually based off a book (of course) of the same name, about a group that gets together and starts up a book club, solely reading six books by Jane Austen. (Yes, I plan on reading the book.)

The film is very simple, very easy, but still sweet and cute. These six people decide to read one Jane Austen book each month, then gather to discuss it. And as the movie proceeds, we see that each person becomes the embodiment of an Austen character (my favorite being Mario Bello as Emma).

Nothing insane or completely cliche really happens- it does a pretty good job of portraying everyday life, with the mundane things that happen to us all. There is a montage in the beginning of the movie that's very ho-hum and really set a great mood- things like credit cards not working, and having to slide the card over and over again in the card reader.

Each character is, out of necessity, rather a caricature of someone. Exploring the depths of six people is near impossible in a film, after all- but the caricatures were done well, with a delicate touch. I liked each character, flaws and all, which is pretty impressive, since I'm a very critical movie watcher and have been known to instantly dislike a character based off their voice or their opening line.

Most importantly, this book reminded me of the existence of Jane Austen. I've read "Emma," "Pride and Prejudice," and "Sense and Sensibility," and I enjoyed all of them. I think at the time, I had also read "Jane Eyre" and was much more into the drama of that book, but I distinctly recall laughing during "Emma." So why haven't I read them again? Me, the stubborn re-reader of books?

I'm not sure, but I have no good reason not to pick them up again. I will read all of Jane Austen's books this year- my first resolution of this year, and one that is quite easy to keep.

I'm having a bit of a faltering of faith in my personal life at the moment, concerning some people around me. It's been made worse by my visit to LA, since they are in this city, so I'm struggling to deal with that in a logical way before I leave. Once I get back to Albuquerque, I feel like things will settle.

Who knew that I would actually miss Albuquerque?? Here I am, missing it!


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Home Sweet Home

I've been back home in sunny LA since Sunday, and it feels like I'm caught in a whirlwind. There are so many people to see! So many restaurants to visit! So much work to do! So much time I must spend lavishing attention on my sister's bunny! (She has been working late lately, so I get up early in the morning and feed the little monster and play with him, since he is a crepuscular, meaning that he's up and hopping around like a whirling dervish by about 7:00.)

I went to my parents' on Sunday, managing to have a family dinner together for Mother's Day, which was great. I miss my family, more than I could express, and am completely unused to having them so far away from me. Spending time with them was wonderful.

Sunday night, I came up to my sister's house, since she lives (literally) two miles away from my workplace. I'm bunking with her and Gouda during the week and headed back to see my parents on Friday, before taking off for Albuquerque on Saturday.

There's been a lot going on lately in my head. It's a very loud and crowded place, and I'm trying to get to the bottom of it. I don't know if it's the changes I've made to my life, the new movie I'm working on, the new people I'm working with, or what, but something is hinky.

Have I mentioned the new project? It's "The Green Lantern," with Ryan Reynolds.

Need to go further investigate the rumbling in my mind...


Friday, May 07, 2010

Off, Off, and Away

It's been busy lately, not with work, but with settling into Albuquerque and getting my brain put together. I'm still slightly sick from altitude-itis, so have been running about 80% speed, which means everything takes longer. My memory is suffering from this strange phenomenon, making trips to the store interesting, since I seem to forget about half the stuff I need to buy.

All in all, these have been hectic but productive weeks here in New Mexico. So, of course, I'm going to tear myself away from here and go back to LA for a while! Just when I was getting used to things...

I'm going to work out of the LA facility for a week or two, depending on how things go, and then mosey on back to New Mexico.

It's so strange being here, because I literally don't know anybody. There's no chance of me running into someone I know on the street or in a store or whatever, and that's an odd sensation. In LA, I was forever seeing people I knew no matter what hole-in-the-wall place I went to. I kind of miss those spontaneous moments; they were fun.

I'll be home just in time for Mother's Day, but I sent my mom flowers today. She e-mailed me photos, because she's a pretty awesomely tech-savvy baby boomer:

Pretty cute, I think. I love tulips, and I think my mom likes them, too. I don't know why, but I stopped buying roses for my mother a few years ago. Maybe when I started to get roses? I think with the emphasis placed on roses for Valentine's Day, it seems like a more romantic flower. Tulips are bright, cheery, and seem to last longer than roses do, so they're what I go with.

Slightly worrying to me lately is the fact that I don't speak in Korean to anyone around here. I don't see my family for hours at a time. I feel like I'm losing my grasp of Korean, slowly but surely. This can't be good. I have to stockpile up on my Korean while I'm in LA.

I have a long roadtrip ahead of me this weekend, but I think it'll be peaceful and calm and hopefully even relaxing. Blogging from my phone will probably follow shortly.


Wednesday, May 05, 2010


According to graphology, here's my personality, based off specific letter and then based off my writing as a whole:

- The right-ward slant of my cursive indicates that I am open to the world around me and like to socialize with other people.
- The small size of my letters indicates that I am focused and can concentrate easily. I tend to be introspective and shy.
- The closed loops of my L's indicate that I am feeling tense and restricting myself in some way.
- The closed loops of my E's indicate that I tend to be skeptical and am unswayed by emotional arguments.
- The points at the tops of my S's indicate that I am intellectually probing and like to study new things. The higher and pointier the peaks, the more ambitious I am.

I am moderately outgoing. My emotions are stirred by sympathy and heart-rending stories. In fact, I can be kind, friendly, affectionate, and considerate of others. I have the ability to put myself into the other person's shoes.

I will be somewhat moody, with highs and lows. Sometimes I will be happy, the next day I might be sad. I have the unique ability to get along equally well with what psychologists call introverts and extroverts. This is because I am in-between. Psychology calls me an ambivert. I understand the needs of both types. Although we will get along, I will not tolerate anyone that is too "far" out. I don't sway too far from one way or the other.

When convincing me to buy a product or an idea, a heart-rending story could mean a great deal to me. I put myself in the same situation as the person in the story, but I will not buy anything that seems overly impractical or illogical. I am an expressive person. I outwardly show my emotions. I may even show traces of tears when hearing a sad story.

I am a "middle-of-the-roader," politically as well as logically. I weigh both sides of an issue, sit on the fence, and then will decide when I finally have to. I basically don't relate to any far out ideas and usually won't go to the extreme on any issue.

I tend to write a bit smaller than the average person. When a person's letters are small and tiny, this indicates an ability to focus and concentrate. This character trait is a huge asset in careers like math, science, race car driving, and flying planes. However, if I write tiny all the time, I will also display characteristics of someone who is socially introverted. I will often sit on the sidelines and watch others get the attention at parties. I might be willing to open up and be warm, but only in small groups or a select group of people. When I am busy working on a project, it is common for all other noises and distractions to just fade away, and my ability to focus is incredible. When I say "I didn't hear you," I really mean, I didn't hear you.

I will demand respect and will expect others to treat me with honor and dignity. I believe in my ideas and will expect other people to also respect them. I have a lot of pride.

I am secretive. I have secrets which I do not wish to share with others. I intentionally conceal things about myself. I have a private side that I intend to keep that way, especially concerning certain events in my past.

I have a desire for attention. People around me will notice this need. I may fulfill this need in a variety of ways, depending on my character.

In reference to my mental abilities, I have a very investigating and creating mind. I investigate projects rapidly because I am curious about many things. I get involved in many projects that seem good at the beginning, but soon I must slow down and look at all the angles. I probably get too many things going at once. When I slow down, then I become more creative than before. Since it takes time to be creative, I must slow down to do it. I then decide what projects I have time to finish. Thus I finish at a slower pace than when I started the project.

I have the best of two kinds of minds. One is the quick investigating mind. The other is the creative mind. My mind thinks quickly and rapidly in the investigative mode. I can learn quickly, investigate more, and think faster. I can then switch into my low gear. When I am in the slower mode, I can be creative, remember longer, and stack facts in a logical manner. I am more logical this way and can climb mental mountains with a much better grip.

My true self-image is unreasonably low. Someone once told me that I am not a great person, and I believed them. I also have a fear that I might fail if I take large risks. Therefore I resist setting my goals too high, risking failure. I don't have the internal confidence that frees me to take risks and chance failure. I am capable of accomplishing much more than I am presently achieving. All this relates to my self-esteem. My self-concept is artificially low. I will stay in a bad situation much too long ... why? Because I am afraid that if I make a change, it might get worse.

It is hard for me to plan too far into the future. I kind of take things on a day-to-day basis. I may tell you my dreams but I am living in today, with a fear of making a change. No matter how loudly I speak, look at my actions. This is perhaps the biggest single barrier to happiness- people not believing in and loving themselves. I am an example of someone living with a low self-image, because my innate self-confidence was broken.

I am sarcastic. This is a defense mechanism designed to protect my ego when I feel hurt. I poke people harder than I get poked. These sarcastic remarks can be very funny. They can also be harsh, bitter, and caustic at the same time.

I have a healthy imagination and display a fair amount of trust. I let new people into my circle of friends. I use my imagination to understand new ideas, things, and people.

I have a particular shyness toward people and a fear of moving too fast in any direction. In some cultures, respecting people, rules, and adhering to protocol are ways of life.

I am stuck in the middle, afraid to take action. I have a fear of looking bad or of crossing boundaries. It would be easy to work with me on a team, because I will usually follow the rules. However, this desire to respect the boundaries can often be construed as a lack of confidence and people will walk all over me if I'm not careful.

* * *


That's a lot of words, based on a single page of writing.

For the most part, these are very true. Some of these things aren't true- or maybe I'm in denial and they really are true. Who can know for certain?

It was an interesting exercise, at any rate. There seem to be a lot of handwriting analysis that can be done online, or over snail mail if you're so inclined. I've never seen a therapist or a counselor or anything, but I imagine that this feeling is what I would have should I go to one. I'm completely overwhelmed by myself. Maybe this will lead into a self-fulfilling prophecy- I write the way I write because these things are what I will end up becoming.

I don't know, I don't care, and I don't intend to let any of these things, good or bad, affect my life. Something to think about, yes, and something to while away the time so I can distract myself from other things that are going on...