To Ride Or Not To Ride...

Posted by Solace In Hunger

I never really learned to ride a bike... My parents' time with their work while I was growing up never really led to moments where they could take me to the park to master the skill of moving on two wheels. I had a day of instruction from my sister's boyfriend at the time when I was 16. And I had another day when I was in Taiwan for a bike excursion when was 21. Both times, I had spent the time to learn my balance and go a short distance but without a bike of my own and other people to continue learning from I quickly became discouraged and wrote off the task as something I would never get a grip of.

It's a common daydream to find myself in flight against the wind, zipping in an out of the trees and mountaintops and dancing in circles. Perhaps being on a motorcycle then is not so strange, no? Granted the idea originally came from a friend and her love of guys on bikes but the more I thought about it, there is something about riding that is very much in sync of how I feel. There is that feeling of freedom which I only get a hint of as I speed in my car with the windows and sunroof down. Being able to journey on the road in a bike has that sense of adventure that does does not come sitting behind the wheel of a car. I imagine that even a mundane commute like going to work would just be exhilarating on a bike. On top of that, they're economically more efficient than traditional modes of transportation (though my current ride still takes the title of "most efficient")

Doing research on bikes I found this beast...

This Kawasaki Ninja 250R is an entry level sport bike and to me it symbolizes the beginning of a new adventure. There are still things that must be resolved financially over the next few months but let it be known that I will be enrolling in an MSF class very soon...


Moving Forward

Posted by Solace In Hunger

I am an artist. My very existence on this planet is always fleeting, growing, expanding, searching, experiencing and learning. I very much am the air of my sign and drift to where the winds take me. I do believe in life some of the best growth comes with pain. I feel there NEEDS to be some bad times to totally appreciate the good. It's strange I know. As if I subconsciously seek out the darkness to make the light shine that much brighter. I don't believe that people grow when things are all that well. When most are at their happiest they try so hard to "freeze" that time that they do not allow themselves to unravel along with the strands of life. They become complacent and become out of touch with their identity. I don't know a brilliant person who is not in some way tortured themselves. However, this does not mean that we should not enjoy every second when life is at it's brightest. A true appreciation of the world comes when both can be fully explored.

I tried then to fight whatever stress or sadness could come my way behind the mask of a smile but then I realized I was not being honest with myself. That I was not honest with reality. Letting those impulses seal itself within started a deadening of my feelings and I started to become a shell of myself. Instead of facing things head on and making them better I would just hide them under a laugh. If you want to laugh, then laugh. If you want to cry, then cry just let it ring true, and never go against where the current of your heart leads.

Now that I have shed myself again of another spiritual husk, I awaken with renewed vigor. My fists tighten as a burning blood surges through my veins. I can hear a fluttering of a song in the back of my ear. My body trembles with so much energy I could soar into the sky. The breeze comes again and with it I float to the sky and land where the currents of life take me.

The world is shining brighter again...


That's Not Chinese Food!!!

Posted by Solace In Hunger

So, after repeatedly discussing the differences between Americanized Chinese Food vs. Traditional Chinese Food to my non-Asian friends I have come up with a simple guide to distinguish the restaurants that serve either food...

-Forks are in the place settings.
-Food taste is more bland than they Authentic counterparts.
-Menus are only in English.
-Water is initially served while tea needs to be requested.
-Waiter/Waitress heavily encourages ordering items unfamiliar to newer patrons of the cuisine.
-Advertise heavily on TV, print and online. Might have their own website.
-LA County Department of Health Rating: A

-Lacquered chopsticks are the only utensil in the place setting. Forks needs to be requested.
-Food taste are in some cases acquired.
-Menus are mostly in Chinese, MAYBE with misspelled English underneath if there any at all.
-Tea is initially served while water needs to be requested.
-Awkward interactions with Waiter/Waitress (usually because of language barrier) leads to patrons ordering items recognized heavily in the Americanized restaurants (Beef with Broccoli, Orange Chicken).
-Advertise through word of mouth ONLY. The concept of having a website is beyond some owners.
-LA County Department of Health Rating: B

Also, note that many familiar conventions that we experience in the Americanized restaurants were never even Chinese to begin with. Here is a talk I found on the TED website where New York Times writer Jennifer Lee dispels the misconceptions you might come across in your local Chinese restaurant.



Posted by Solace In Hunger

So, my beloved Mercedes C230 Kompressor of the past six years has started to begun to show its first signs of age. Due to an oil seep whose location has yet to be identified, electrical systems here and there are being damaged culminating in a repair bill that will wipe out both my generous bonus (by today's meek standards) and 3rd paycheck received for this month. Shit happens, yes, but when taking into account how this affects my payment schedule and its severity in keeping me from complete debt freedom it is heartbreaking.

Before this everything was going as scheduled...keeping up with my payments to have ZERO debt in next 13 months, while still having enough to get new headshots, sign up for further acting classes, cover enrollment fees in casting websites AND a wardrobe update for possible assignments. And then this hammer...adding two more months at least of living off the bare minimum... not taking my girlfriend anywhere nice... saving up for that ring ... not exploring theatres or museums... trapping myself at home if I knew it could save me just five more dollars.

But I really started to think about this... First off, at least it's just two more months and not a lifetime of debt as others have recklessly accumulated. But more importantly, as an actor I'm always going to have this struggle. Even if I did have everything paid off, should I be lucky enough to be cast in more projects and audition more I'd have to look for a lower paying job that provides more flexibility which would still bring me to this conserved lifestyle even without an already existing debt. Perhaps this is just a minor test to reaffirm myself to what I am becoming...a grounding of my likely future reality...


P90X Tracker: Day 2

Posted by Solace In Hunger

And the workout for the day is plyometrics! As much as people dread the exercises for killing the legs and dramatically pushing up the heart rate, I was really excited for it as the techniques are vital for developing the motions and muscle needed to perform 540s and aerials.

I'm still sore in the chest from the previous day's workout but it feels really good. I believe I haven't pushed myself this hard since being involved in weight training in high school and if the future gains will be as prominent as they were back in those days then I have something amazing to work forward to.

I'm off to GNC to pick up some whey protein and some much needed rest.


Now, I've Done It...

Posted by Solace In Hunger

As exhausting as they have been, I have been very unhappy with the workouts that I have been having lately. I can attribute that my most successful periods of working out came at a time when I was instituted in a program such as when I was in weight training or taking martial arts and gymnastics classes regularly. With an upcoming fight scene, photo shoot and events of summer coming up, I now have goals to push myself to reach. Seeking to regain a structure for my workouts, I sought out a program where I could best develop lean muscle (not a big fan of the bodybuilder muscle on muscle look) and retain my agility and light weight for martial arts. That's when I remembered this...

Recommended highly by fellow martial artists who I have trained with in the past, the P90X is a 90 day interval training and nutrition program for intermediate athletes. There are 12 different exercises whose order is rotated in 30 day segments to be performed 6 days a week. Those exercises range from target body strengthening, plyometrics, Kenpo and even Yoga. The exercises have a steep learning curve and require that the practitioner is already in moderate shape at best. Even if recommended, the nutrition program requires no intake of supplements or omission of staple favorites like meat and bread.

Now for the record, I am one of those people that has always dismissed infomercials of cookie cutter workout fads and those who know of my eating habits know that the term "diet" is nowhere to be found in my lexicon. Had it not been for friends recommending this program, I would have dismissed this as anything else. After locating a discounted copy on eBay, I am only days away of beginning my journey to a better me.

My goal here will not be just posting before and after pictures (sorry to those who will be viewing my pale ass), but also progress pics of intervals at every ten days. I firmly believe that this program will help with my health, nutrition and martial arts capabilities even if I don't achieve the chiseled beach body looks of the program's testimonials. Now, it will only be a short time until I can put this and myself to the test.


German Beatbox Kid

Posted by Solace In Hunger

This kid makes me wonder if my carefree 80's childhood of playing with GI Joes and Transformers was wasted when I could have had a head start in training for my 540 or perhaps become a great beatboxer in elementary school like this German kid.


Made In Taiwan...

Posted by Solace In Hunger

I get excited whenever I hear of Taiwanese contributions to the world. Boba, Ang Lee, Jay Chou any many others have origins in the island nation. I think that part of my fascination comes from the fact that growing up in mostly white neighborhoods I knew no other Asians (let alone Taiwanese). So, whenever I hear of anything from the country of my ancestors (let's not start the Chinese/Taiwanese debate shall we? I believe we really are all the same despite what we call ourselves.) my ears perk right up. And the latest discovery to grab headlines stateside is...


...yes, two concepts that are in unspokenly symbiotic of each other have been fused together tastefully with this restaurant chain. Other than the perverse novelty the theme provides, patrons note that visual repugnances like poop lights, urinal drinking glasses and toilet plates with curry on top give the actual food a new context for the taste buds.

I think I'll give this a pass the next time I go back to Taiwan. Or will I?

Source on TIME.com


Why Do I Always Find Out After The Fact...

Posted by Solace In Hunger

I never was a big fan of Jimmy Fallon. I stopped watching Saturday Night Live regularly after the Phil Hartman, Dana Carvey era and saw it once in every blue moon if I ended up home on a Saturday night. And every time I did see him I was not impressed.

Well, upon hearing about his upcoming late night debut, you must imagine my surprise upon reading in his Mini-Bio "He has already been called the best SNL player since Phil Hartman, and is popular amongst SNL fans." What!? This guy? And then I came across this video of impressions which apparently his fans even forgot he could do:

...and then five minutes later I had to pick myself off of the floor. I guess I should've paid more attention. Yeah, you could say I think he's funny now. Good luck on Late Night, Jimmy!

Jimmy Fallon on Internet Movie Database


What I'm Watching: Ricochet

Posted by Solace In Hunger

Former police officer Nick Styles (Denzel Washington) is a modern day hero with numerous convictions as an Assistant D.A., a beautfiful wife and two daughters, sponsorship in an inner-city community youth center and the admiration of the citizens of Los Angeles. His success catapulted from the largely televised arrest of Earl Talbert Blake (John Lithgow) who believes he who has the power to giveth shall taketh away.

Yeah, it's mostly predictable and full of plotholes and cringing setpieces but the film's pacing and strong performances from Washington and Lithgow earned itself a spot for my library. John Lithgow MADE this film for me. Though I have always loved the versatile actor from his lighthearted fare (Shrek, 3rd Rock from the Sun), his few villainous roles always struck a deeper chord within me. In watching the scene where Blake is having a birthday cake with Style's two preschool daughters, seeing his familiarly disarming smile just creeped me the fuck out. The 109 minute ride is one you have been on before, but you will be hard-pressed to turn away once you lend it a glance.

Ricochet on Internet Movie Database


What I'm Watching: Babel

Posted by Solace In Hunger

Two Moroccan children transitioning from childhood to adolescence, a vacationing couple struggling to regain their lost bond, a mother teetering on handling the responsibilities of her family with another and a deaf Japanese girl finding acceptance in an alien world that exists beyond her doorstop. These four stories of strife are united by one tragic accident in Babel.

Anybody familiar with Alejandro González Iñárritu's previous works knows of his mastery of taking multiple personal tales and weaving them into an opus reflecting to us the power of our actions no matter how seemingly small. Like most other work of this type (i.e. Traffic, Syriana) there is almost a fly-in-the-wall, documentary feel as we observe the effect one action can have on so many different people. (On a side note, I still wonder if some of the characters in the film were actually played by actors or folk culled from the locations being filmed.) I have always been a fan of these splice-of-life megadramas for their complexity and raw honesty. Ever engaging, the work is indeed powerful and left me still shaken well after viewing.

Babel on Internet Movie Database


Seth Rogen Is Really Mad At Me...

Posted by Solace In Hunger

The other day Kristen and I had found these awesome remote control Street Fighter toys. They operated no different from RC cars with dual sticks to control movement and buttons on the underside of the controller to perform attacks. Even getting the toys to perform their character's signature move sets was done no differently on the remote control than you would on a game pad. We both had decided to pick one up each and went back to the house to mess with them some more.

As soon as we had got back, I pulled my Ryu out of the box to send a few Dragon Punches towards the way of Kristen's Blanka. The figures moved very quickly and we had the idea to start drag racing the toys down the floor of the living room. We had sent them bolting down to our roommate's room from which there was a large crash. Time for play was over. What waited for me in that room was just a mess, and the figures were lost somewhere in it. Time was pressing for other errands I had to tend to and I went to my room to draft a note apologizing for mess and offering to pay for any damages.

I heard the front door slam open and shortly after footsteps scurrying to the room underneath. It didn't take long to hear that cry of "WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENED HERE!". No note was going to get me out of this one and I went downstairs expecting

And then I woke up...maybe I should stop eating right before bed...


What I'm Playing: Street Fighter IV

Posted by Solace In Hunger

We Await Your Return, Warrior...

These words are uttered upon the end of Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike. However, it has already been ten years since that game's release and though we have been spared the countless upgrades as its predecessor it does mean that we have been without a new entry in the Street Fighter canon for quite some time. Until now...

The other reviews you may have read are true, Street Fighter IV takes a step back from the two steps forward the hardcore complexity and alienation the Street Fighter III series had brought us. The biggest change is the removal of the parrying system which rendered a player practically invincible. However, the steep learning curve associated with that system leaves its accessibility to only the semi-pro and pro tournament players. Filling in this void is the new Focus Attack system which can "parry" the first hit of the majority of attacks leaving the opponent open to counter attack depending on how long the Focus Attack is charged up. Adding the ability to buffer in dashes and cancels brings a new range of strategies to the gameplay.

Fifteen of the original world warriors, four Alpha characters and five newcomers pack the new roster. T. Hawk and DeeJay are out but producer Yoshinori Ono has stated that those characters may be included as downloadable content if fan response is high enough. The new characters can hold their own and I can imagine Crimson Viper and Abel becoming new favorites on the professional tournament circuit.

Even though the game was built to recreate the more simpler and familiar feel of Street Fighter II there is something very refreshing about it. The story for Street Fighter IV occurs between parts II and III so characters that made the transition to part III had lost some of their "new" moves in that installment. However, even when playing those characters there is still something new to discover. While not for everyone, I loved the new soundtrack by Hideyuki Fukasawa. Fans of his work from Chaos Legion and Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams already know of his style of mixing ambient, orchestral and EDM styles as evidenced from the stages Brazil, Russia, Scotland and the new character theme remixes.

My only gripe is that to fully experience this game, you WILL need to purchase an arcade stick. Neither the 360's D-Pad or PS3 shoulder triggers function well enough to capitalize on the many combos and precise movements needed to be an effective player against upper tier opponents. The later combo trials in the challenge mode require that you be able execute movements to the frame and its very easy to have a thumb push the wrong direction or pulling a trigger a moments too late.

Rounded out with opening and ending anime cutscenes for each character, unlockable voice options, medals and a lengthy challenge mode which unlocks alternates colors and taunts the disc is a heavy package that a player can devotes scores of hours to and come away still feeling rewarded. Now, if only I can lose my reliance on the Shotokan characters and hold up my own with the Japanese players...

Street Fighter IV (PS3) on GameFAQs


16 Eggs A Day!!!

Posted by Solace In Hunger

That's the diet of a Nevada man nearly the same age as I whose unique diet is a part of his mission to have a six pack before his ten year high school reunion this summer. It's no secret I have embarked on my own quest to return myself to the state which I had found effortless to maintain only years ago but need I exceed a carton a day to do it???

Possible dinner for tonite ...whole wheat pasta with salmon...mmmm

Source on CNN.com


What I'm Watching: O Brother, Where Art Thou?

Posted by Solace In Hunger

Here we have the surrealist farce from the Coen Brothers which is also a loose take on Homer's Odyssey. A trio of chain gang escapees led by George Clooney romp throughout Mississippi encountering politicking Guv'nors, Babyface Nelson, seductive Sirens and the Klan all while trying to reach a buried loot before it is washed away by a flood.

Somehow recollection of reading The Odyssey in high school seems to have escaped me and it may be time for a revisit. I thought the Coen's re-imaginings of the foes of their Odysseus to be brilliant. Of worthy note is John Goodman's menacing, Bible selling, white supremacist of a cyclops that brought a chuckle from me whenever onscreen. The film succeeds in capturing dreariness the dust bowl era yet lightening it up with the over the top lyrical slapstick common to the radio gags of the day.

Now it looks like that I have to turn to Amazon to track down some of Homer's works...

O Brother, Where Art Thou? on Internet Movie Database


What I'm Watching: The Contender (2000)

Posted by Solace In Hunger

With the aftermath of the elections still fresh in our memories and recent talks of bailouts, economic stimuli and what our country is to do with Iran and Afghanistan become evermore inescapable I scoured the collection for a political thriller which brought this film to light. Plus it was an excuse to view another film with my favorite actor Gary Oldman. =o)

I liked how the film skirted with intention ambiguities and that nobody was truly who you thought of them to be. I am still amazed of how compelling Mr. Oldman's swarmy Republican McCarthy-esque Shelly Runyon is despite a very ugly hairpiece. Though the idea of electing a woman to the highest level of office has yet to become a reality, it has lost its one time characteristic of absurdity by the public since I had seen the film the first time upon its release. The large impact from this that pushed each camp in the driving or pushing Joan Allen's character into office had lessened on me. However, towards the end I began to feel force fed in the idea that Democrats are the embodiment of what is just with the land with Republicans seeking ruin upon those who do not follow a select strict moral faith. All this capped off with some preaching of integrity and the sell out ending that would either arouse vindication or contempt depending on one's political leaning.

Reports I read later on alluded to a supposed rift between Gary Oldman and his agent who were producers on the film and the execs at Dreamworks who distributed the picture. Apparently, the original script was much more grey and Oldman's Republican villain given a much more human side. When Democratic supporters and Dreamwork exec's Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen reviewed the first set of cuts with writer/director Rod Lurie, changes were alleged the make the film slanted as we see it today. Also, the release date was moved nearly a month before the 2000 presidential elections.

Perhaps I may come off as depicting Democrats as pushing propaganda, but let it be known that this author is a Democrat himself and that I believe that BOTH sides are guilty of it. I am sure that other people on both ends of the spectrum are not too proud of people in their own party who seem blinded by their own ideals at the cost of what is truly progressive for their fellow citizens. It is just that I wanted that first cut that was more grey. I wanted that film that would leave the theatre silent at the end of the credits because I was not forced into any direction. Perhaps it delves into a deeper desire the see the reemergence of the endings of the films in the 70's that just left you in the dark except for an experience that became good or bad from your own interpretation of the events.

Wow, I didn't plan to write this much...

The Contender on Internet Movie Database


What I'm Playing: Flower

Posted by Solace In Hunger

If there was a videogame equivalent of a Zen rock garden this game is it. Lush colorscapes and a joyously haunting orchestrated score ice this angel cake of interactive goodness. Simply put, you're the wind as you guide flower petals to budding flowers which in return add additional petals to further pollenate the landscape. Yeah, I know...it's better experienced than explained. It's part Disneyland ride and connect-the-dots partnered with the visual scope of an IMAX flight documentary. Like That Game Company's previous title Fl0W, the simplicity of the experience is hypnotizing. Definitely a nice break when you're not feeling like chainsawing alien hordes or landing a 5,000 meter headshot with a sniple rifle.

Flower on GameFAQs