Monthly Archives: November 2010

Off Topic: I Don’t choose my Non-Choice

…also known as: The Option Not to choose an Option.  Pensive pugs is at it again.

Reverse psychology argues that the more you demand on X, the more someone will want to anti-X, where X is a desired action (or non-action) and anti-X is the opposite of that desired action (or non-action).  The quintessential example:
the Don’t Push This Button button.  It tells you not to push it, and thus, you want to push it more than if the button didn’t say not to push it.  Or, if the button itself doesn’t have a warning, if someone else instructs you, “Whatever you do, do not push that button,” of course you’ll want to do nothing but push it.

I don’t know about you, but if the desired outcome, X is actually not to do something, one will find me to be a much more obedient individual if I wasn’t forbidden to do whatever it is that a person wishes me not to do.  Statistically, I believe the chances that I will adhere to X is much greater if I had the option to X, rather than the instruction to X.  In other words, visualize yourself entering an empty hotel ballroom.  You look around and see only drapes on the windows, a podium near the back wall and four chandeliers on the ceiling.

Suddenly, a table and a chair appear.  There’s an index card on it: Table A.  You’re tired from standing so you sit down.  A couple of hours later, you leave the hotel room.  The next day, you return and see two more tables: B and C, each with a chair.  You sit at Table B for thirty minutes and then Table C for three hours.  You go back to Table A, just to look at it, and then you exit the room.  When you go back a couple days later, there is a huge sign by Table A insisting that you cannot sit there until a later date.

Now, if you’re good at following instructions (no matter how asinine the logic behind them), you will simply ignore Table A, wouldn’t you?

Ordinarily, I would be very good at such a command.  But the older I get, the more I think and pause.  If you don’t want anyone to sit at Table A, why is it visible?  Is it a test of resolve?  A test of resisting temptation?  Is it because in life there are times when you are not allowed to experience or access directly something that is in plain sight and you must learn to handle yourself in such scenarios?

I know that a person cannot always do what they want, when they want….and that which is unavailable (even if visible) is coveted all the more; nevertheless, I’m starting to suspect that if Table A didn’t have that sign, then you very well could choose not to sit there.

NFL 2010: Falcons boxing day the Packers

Given the weather systems that have swept through the central continental US over the past several days, the Green Bay Packers must be thrilled to ball-toss at the Georgia Dome today against the Atlanta Falcons.  Televised on Fox, the first quarter began with the Falcons on offense and a thirty-eight yard field goal.  Atlanta 3 and Green Bay 0.  Quarterbacked by Aaron Rodgers, the Packers put on a solid offensive display that put them in the red zone.  The Falcons defense kept the Packers out of the end zone, so Green Bay had to field goal.  Both teams 3.

The second quarter demonstrated Packers umph on offense.  The Falcons defense responded as well as can be hoped (?), if you discount the personal fouls incurred as of five minutes into the quarter.  Just when it would appear that the Packers would certainly get into the end zone, Aaron Rodgers lost the ball and the Falcons pounced on it.  Hopefully that turnover would fuel the Falcons offense prowess.  Despite Matt Ryan getting sacked and an incomplete pass, a “connection” with tight end Tony Gonzalez gave the Falcons another set of much-needed downs.  With only eleven seconds left in the quarter, Matt Ryan threw a touchdown catch to Tony Gonzalez, who was standing near the back of the end zone.  After making the TD, he dunked the ball over the cross bar of the uprights.  Atlanta 10 and Green Bay 3.

The third quarter ticked halfway through with bursts-and-pauses for each time.  The Packers’ second possession, however, proved fruitful as they tied the game with a TD (the quarterback himself crossed the goal line).  Packers 10 and Atlanta 10.  When the third quarter was a sneeze from ending, the Falcons got all the way to the edge of the end zone.  The Packers defense successfully kept the birds from scoring twice.  Would third-and-goal pay off for the Falcons?  No.  Head coach Mike Smith decided to challenge the ruling on the field of whether or not Tony Gonzalez had control of the ball (his feet were in the end zone, he was facing the field and flanked by two Packers.  Did the ball break the plane).  He lost the challenge.

The fourth quarter started with a fourth down and goal attempt by the Falcons to make a TD and running back Michael Turner answered the call.  Atlanta 17 and Green Bay 10.  The Packers’ offense did not give in or give up, neither did the Falcons’ defense.  Packers wide receiver James Jones nearly had a TD but he landed out of bounds.  In jumping up to catch the pass, Jones had to leap up and back so that by the time he came down, his left foot was half-in-half-on the white.  The two minute warning came and went…and on fourth-and-goal for the Packers, after a false start penalty, wide receiver Jordy Nelson made a TD at the edge of the end zone.  Both teams 17.

Falcons wide receiver Eric Weems got face-masked as he was returning the kick with under a minute left.  That penalty on the Packers put the Falcons at the fifty yard line.  Kicker Matt Bryant had the victory on your shoulders.  Would he make the forty-seven yard FG? YES!!!!  SWEET DICED, CANNED PEACHES!!! Atlanta 20 and Green Bay 17. Final score.

Observations & Miscellania:

1. Narration was provided by Brian Billick and Thom Brennaman.

2.  In college football news, Notre Dame ousted USC, Ohio State clobbered Michigan, Oklahoma just barely out-performed Oklahoma State, Florida State destroyed Florida, Auburn took it from Alabama, Virginia Tech jammed Virginia, and UGA beat GaTech.

3.  The Falcons wore red jerseys and white pants, the Packers wore white jerseys and yellow pants.  The two together made me think of succotash.

4.  A helmeted Aaron Rodgers reminded me of a young Billy Joel.

5.  The slow-motion instant replay of the Falcons defense piled on top of the Packers’ ball carrier in the bottom of the first quarter was beautiful.

Click here for the Falcons’ roster and here for the Packers’ roster.

Get game summary, stats, and play-by-play here.

L’amour and other Non-Food Items

In other words, Love and Other Drugs (2010).  Directed by Edward Zwick, this unapologetic chick-flick features a sick Anne Hathaway and a self-preserving and self-under-appreciating Jake Gyllenhaal as young adults counter-intuitively drawn to and in need of each other.  This premise needs no more description or contextualizing, at least the previews would suggest as much.  May I take the time to praise the poster?  Not sure about Jake’s hand-on-mouth, but for the sole reason that his name is on his side of the image and Anne’s name is on her side of the image, I’m praising it.

And yet, the movie itself is both much more and much less eventful.  Jamie and Maggie (Jake and Anne, respectively) aren’t just young people who meet, explore, enjoy, then question the unmistakable, consequential chemistry they share.   Jamie is a college drop-out whose days of high-end sound equipment have been cut short due to unprofessional behavior on the job.  A younger brother hooks him up with an entry level job at Pfizer.  In what could almost be a thematic cousin to Up in the Air , Love and Other Drugs sets itself up as a meaning-of-life journey for its male protagonist.

Major spoilers ahead.  Highlight relevant words at your own discretion.  Even when Anne Hathaway makes her first appearance in the plot and introduces the romance factor and the movie reveals that her character has stage one Parkinson’s disease, the narrative could still be about Jamie…until it stops being about him or even her.  Although the plot focuses on both of them and compels the audience to ask itself how much it could sacrifice just to be with someone they loved, there doesn’t seem to be a point to the movie for me.

Had the film skewed more towards the inner workings of the pharmaceutical industry vis-a-vis the medical profession, it would’ve been reminiscent of Thank You For Smoking.  Unfortunately, Love and Other Drugs would have to become an entirely different movie and perhaps too satirical for the intentions of writers Zwick, Charles Randolph, and Marshall Herskovitz.  If the film skewed more towards Maggie’s condition within the context of the mid 1990s (or changed to another illness), then we’d be faced with Dying Young or Autumn in New York.  Were it the latter, we’d have to hypothesize as to whether or not the writers would let Maggie live, die, or either depending on viewer interpretation of the final scene.   In case you’re wondering, it’s not a life or death ending.

I neither like nor dislike Love and Other Drugs.  I love Anne Hathaway even more now–and not just because she has a lovely body that gets more screen time than one might deem necessary for narrative purposes.*  Jake Gyllenhaal was quite charming…but I didn’t care about the movie itself.  As I walked out towards my car after the film ended, I kept thinking, “But how can Jake’s character apply for med school? He hasn’t graduated from college.  And why set the movie in the mid-9os.  What, so the filmmakers wouldn’t have to populate residences with flat screen Apple monitors? or have iPods, iPhones, and intelligent phones all over the place for authenticity?”

If you love Anne Hathaway—watch it.  If you’re neutral to her and don’t care for Jake Gyllenhaal, skip it.

Click here for other movie images.

*I thought the back-side nudity was much more relevant to the film’s story and theme as it reinforced that these two people are very comfortable with each other.  The two “only breasts” shots are used for more comedic purposes, which don’t backfire but can be read as gratuitous.  Not that the shape of her bosom would be a shocker for anyone that has seen Havoc.

Off Topic: I like Chinese

I am Chinese.*

“Yi zhi xiang” as in “keep thinking,” is first tone, second tone, third tone.  So the “yee” requires a level inflection in voice.  “Zhi” requires an upwards “huhn?” slant, and the “xiang,” involves moving your voice down and up like a check mark.

For “keep smelling good” and “keep resembling,” the “yi zhi” are pronounced the same with the same inflections as “keep thinking.”  But, the “xiang” is level in “smelling good” and downwards (like a “no!”) in “resembling.”

Show of hands…will you go holiday shopping on Friday?

* I suppose politically and culturally, I identify more with “Taiwanese,” but because I was not born there nor do I know how to speak Taiwanese (other than “wa gah li pa), I wouldn’t say “I’m Taiwanese (American).”

NFL 2010: Falcons pin cushion the Rams

The St. Louis Rams hosted an afternoon of turf wars with the Atlanta Falcons.  Televised by Fox, the Rams, quarterbacked by Sam Bradford, were on offense first.  Three minutes later, the Rams punted the ball to the Falcons.  Due to one 5 yard false start penalty, a 15 yard unnecessary roughness penalty, and an incomplete pass, the Falcons had to send the ball right back to the Rams.  Two plays later, tight end Michael Hoomanawanui made a touchdown catch for the home team.  St. Louis 7 and Atlanta 0.  The Falcons’ offense improved by the middle of the quarter when his decision to throw the ball, after seconds of tip-toeing in the pocket, led to a complete pass to wide receiver Eric Weems.  Five minutes later, Falcons Matt Bryant kicker attempted a forty-two yard field goal.  It was good.  St. Louis 7 and Atlanta 3.

The top of the second quarter had Rams kicker Josh Brown making a fifty-three yard FG.  St. Louis 10 and Atlanta 3.  At the end of the Falcons’ next possession, quarterback Matt Ryan and wide receiver Brian Finneran connected for a TD.  St. Louis 10 and Atlanta 10.  The middle of the second quarter gave the Falcons a lead with a FG.  Atlanta 13 and St. Louis 10.  The final forty seconds could’ve given the Falcons a TD lead but they had to settle for a FG because Brian Finneran couldn’t keep hold of the ball (he was well-covered) and Matt Ryan may not have known that tight end Tony Gonzalez was wide open.  Atlanta 16 and St. Louis 10.

The third quarter began strongly for the Rams–wide receiver Danny Amendola’s thirty-one yard kickoff return and running back Steven Jackson’s sixteen yards of moving down the field preceded a TD catch by wide receiver Brandon Gibson.  St. Louis 17 and Atlanta 16.  The Rams defense turned out a solid performance through the middle of the third quarter.  The Falcons defense wasn’t backing down, but would their offense reclaim their own momentum?  One could argue in the affirmative given Tony Gonzalez’s catch with under six minutes left in the quarter.   Three minutes later, the Falcons were first-and-goal courtesy of a catch by tight end Justin Peelle.  A couple plays later, Peelle brought the ball in to the end zone.  Atlanta 23 and St. Louis 17.

The fourth quarter ticked down halfway and the Falcons gained another three points from a FG.  Atlanta 26 and St. Louis 17.  The game hadn’t seen any sacks by the bottom of the quarter; the first interception would occur when Falcons safety William Moore got his hands on a shovel pass.  Wahoo! Double time on that wahoo as Falcons running back Michael Turner doled out a rushing TD after the two-minute warning.  The Falcons nailed a two-point conversion thanks to wide receiver Roddy White (who cut into the bottom right corner of the end zone).  Atlanta 34 and St. Louis 17. Final score.

Observations & Miscellania:

1.  Game narration was provided by Sam Rosen and Tim Ryan (the former was in the booth, the latter on the field).

2.  Rabbit Hole!  There’s the Nicole Kidman I love.

3.  The Falcons wore white jerseys and pants.  The Rams wore navy tops and bottoms.

4.  After Brian Finneran made the TD in the second quarter, one could hear him “woohoo-ing” all along the sidelines.

5.  Roddy White has had high school experience in wrestling, baseball, and football.  He was good in all three.

Click here for the Falcons’ roster and here for the Rams’ roster.

Get game summary, stats, and play-by-play here.