Thursday, May 26, 2005

Nuclear skies

NPR kicks off a series of examinations on nuclear proliferation with a story about the current status of the U.S. and what do to about its arsenal. The notion was brought up that there hasn’t been a lot of progress since the end of the Cold War. The U.S. still holds a sizeable stockpile that carries a lot of weight when dealing with other nations. As in poker, sometimes the size of your stack counts more than what cards you’re holding. (Sorry just watched Rounders the other night.)

The story casts some interesting perspectives on how and if the U.S. should disarm completely. The fact that the U.S. keeps a cache of nuclear weapons paradoxically keeps other countries from having to develop nuclear capabilities. Allies such as Japan have not needed to resort to investing in their own nuclear weapons because it relies on the protection of a nuclear United States. So what happens if we disarm as what most people think is best? Is it going to help with the gradual deduction of warheads in the world or just open the door for other countries to establish their own nuclear programs?

The U.S. is in a tough spot. It makes me wonder how effective our politicians and their diplomacy really are. Are we just viewed as bullies who others listen to just because they don’t want to get beat up? I’ve always felt that you get more by gaining people’s respect, not their fear. It’s seems that the U.S. keeps sliding out of the respect side and resorting to the fear side. So how do we reverse that trend?

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Gomezmerized, part 2

There’s no hiding that I think Gomez are a great live band. As much as I love "Here Comes the Breeze" and "Revolutionary Kind" on their albums, the live versions are ten times better. I’ve been lucky enough to find several collections of live concerts and have built up a Phishead-like collection. So when Gomez were finally able to release an offical live album that would only be sold at their concerts I was glad the rest of society would be able to hear evidence of their awesomeness. Since I had a pretty robust collection that included the concert recorded for their official release, I was not spilling over with excitement. Of course I still bought it. You know, supporting the band, having the official album art, all that.

It’s funny, in this age of p2p, iTunes, mp3, whatnot, I buy CDs as much or more than I ever did.

I listened to the live album; it was good, not great, I’ve heard better. I was disappointed to discover that half of the disc skipped and it wasn’t my player. I ripped the songs onto mp3 and had no trouble with the digital versions. "Oh well, that sucks but I can live with it."

Then I discovered that this was a problem that several other people were experiencing. Someone on a Gomez message board offered to try and trade in the defective discs when she goes to the next concert. I thought I’d give it a shot, contacted the person and mailed it to her.

Two weeks later, I receive a large, flat package at work. I open it and out falls a new copy of the live CD, a note saying that the band hopes this one works okay, and vinyl version of their latest studio album signed by each member of the band!

I was floored by this act of random generosity! It helped ease the blow of finding out that my car needed another $200 in repairs. That nightmare continues. But it was a surreal experience in karma. Everything works out.

I could only convey my gratitude with an email of repetitive thank yous and an offer to donate my liver should she need one. But she brushed it off as no big deal.

There are good people in the world. And chances are, they’re also Gomez fans.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Picture time

Here are some photos off of my Holga camera from my birthday (the day that won’t ever quit apparently):

James and Courtney

Ingrid, Davy, Beth and Brian

Hero shot

I didn’t take these, but here are a few from Design Ranch:

The Dining Lodge


Screen printing with Decoder Ring

Uh... yeah

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

It’s official

I bought my ticket to an opening day showing of the last Star Wars movie, Revenge of the Sith, which felt akin to renewing my Certificate of Geekiness. What’s worse is that I’ve seen every one of the movies on opening day (if you count the re-release of the original trilogy). A few friends and I even skipped high school to go see the re-release of the Empire Strikes Back, so I guess that makes us some kind of thug-nerd hybrid.

What is it about these movies that makes all guys like them? I’ve never met a guy who didn’t enjoy Star Wars on some level. Of course there are varying degrees of fanaticism. Okay so my girlfriend found out that I downloaded the Clone Wars cartoons to get more back story which leads up to the last movie. Much ridiculing ensued.

But like anything in life, whenever you think you’ve taken something to the ultimate level, you can always find some other soul who one-ups you. Take for example, opening night of the re-release of the first Star Wars movie. People were dressed up as characters (from Luke to very obscure characters) and acting out parts of the movie while the audience sat and waited with toy lightsabers in hand. But the most frightening sight was that someone had actually come as the Death Star. Yeah, not a character in the movie but the big planet. This guy wore a black body suit with a giant grey sphere enveloping his head. He had also glued hundreds of little x-wings and tie fighters on his person, all flying towards his globular headpiece. My friends and I, instantly dropping down on the scale of nerdiness, could only react with a slack-jawed stare. I could insert about fifty Star Wars nerd stereotype jokes here but I think that this says it all.

It’s a humbling experience, which keeps it all in perspective for me whenever I think I’ve gone too far with my obsessions, be it Gomez, Apple Computers or whatever else. I can always feel better about myself by picture the Death Star guy.

And no, I am not dressing up for the premiere next Thursday.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

I said God Damn!

Austin City Limits Festival 2005

Allman Brothers
Robert Randolph
Thievery Corporation
The Arcade Fire
Franz Ferdinand
The Walkmen
The Fiery Furnaces
Mates of freakin’ State

Even if you’re not a fan of the mainstream bands, that’s a pretty impressive lineup. I’m most excited about the last two. Although I think we’re getting spoiled in Austin. Last night:
Gina: You know what would make it perfect? If Beck were playing.
Steven: What? No Gomez?

Favorite band name on the list: The Massacoustics

Tuesday, May 03, 2005


Being Chinese doesn’t wiegh too heavily on my mind most days. But the wide-eyed stares from people whenever I say something to my parents always manages to bring me back down to reality. I guess I can understand the spectacle of hearing someone you know reveal his ability to speak virtual gibberish to your ears with a few random hints dropped along the way such as "car insurance" or "tax refund".

This is when you discover how paranoid people really are. "Were you talking about me? You were weren’t you? You were telling your parents what an ass you think I am right?"

Another thing that reminds me of my Asianicity is whenever I spend extended amounts of time with my family, my inner monologue reverts from English back to Chinese. It’s a weird phenomenon that puzzles even me. Granted, I don’t have the most refined thought process. It’s never a clear-cut train of thought such as "Hey pick up that Coke on the table and drink it." Actually, I wonder sometimes if I have ADD. If anyone else out there hears a jumble of voices that speak in sentence fragments then let me know and we can compare notes. On good days I’ll think that it’s a sign of genius. On bad days I’ll think it’s a sign of mental illness. Does the inconsistent language usage support one theory or the other?

Part of me is ecstatic when I catch myself thinking in Chinese, as if it’s validation that I’m truly Chinese. It was somewhat encouraging to hear my dad admit that he’s started to dream in English. Of course it could also mean that mental illness is genetic.

I thought of an alternate title for those with no Simplified Chinese vieweing capabilities: Do Asians dream of Chinese sheep?