2014 Year In Review

This is a recap of the movies I saw in theaters in the past year. Living 30 minutes away from a theater that plays indie films has been the best experience of my time as a movie fan.

  • Her
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Frozen
  • Locke
  • Ida
  • Goodbye World
  • Blue Ruin
  • Edge of Tomorrow
  • Snowpiercer
  • Boyhood
  • Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Tracks
  • 20,000 Days on Earth
  • Fury
  • John Wick
  • Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
  • Gone Girl
  • Interstellar
  • Nightcrawler
  • Whiplash
  • Dear White People
  • The Hobbit: The Five Hours of Boredom

The best (which means my personal, totally biased ranking) being:

  1. Birdman
  2. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  3. Boyhood

Now for a recap of what I read:

  • Winter’s Heart (Robert Jordan)
  • Crossroads of Twilight (RJ)
  • Knife of Dreams (RJ)
  • The Gathering Storm (RJ and Brandon Sanderson)
  • Towers of Midnight (RJ and BS)
  • The Old Man and the Sea (Hemingway)
  • A Memory of Light (RJ and BS)
  • Stardust (Gaiman)
  • Mistborn: The Final Empire (Sanderson)
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Kesey)
  • Mistborn: The Well of Ascension (Sanderson)
  • Mistborn: The Hero of Ages (Sanderson)
  • Watership Down (Adams)

This is a recap of the places I camped at this past year:

  • Pinnacles National Park
    • cold as shit when we went and a little boring unless you rock climb, but the best starry night I’ve seen in CA
  • Big Basin State Park
    • expensive, but one of the cleanest campgrounds (and in freakin’ redwoods)
  • Big Sur Campground
    • it rained, which is good because our campground was empty
  • Yosemite National Park
    • crowded as shit but Yosemite is Yosemite, and its spiritualistic qualities never cease to inspire awe.
  • Kaspian Campground (Lake Tahoe)
    • quiet, right next to a highway but oh well, i heard coyotes one night

Overall not as much camping as I would have liked but without a car there isn’t a whole lot of availability. Oh well. At least I had a good year in film.


Top x3 lists

4 years ago I made a favorites list. 2 years ago I revisited that list and redid it. For the 3rd list, here it is, in 3’s:
  1. The National
  2. Arcade Fire
  3. Vampire Weekend
  1. The Big Lebowski
  2. Pulp Fiction
  3. 2001: A Space Odyssey
  1. Oatmeal
  2. Tomatoes
  3. Pancakes
  1. The Old Man and the Sea
  2. Dune
  3. Watership Down
  1. Campfire
  2. Coffee
  3. Pine
  1. Silence
  2. Wind in the trees
  3. Cicadas
  1. John
  2. Paul
  3. George
  1. Beards
  2. Mountains
  3. Sweaters
Guilty Pleasures:
Katy Perry
Love, Actually


ble Mentions:
Citizen Kane (film)
Breaking Bad (television)
Sufjan Stevens (musician)



I thought of this as I was not studying, since my life can now be divided into two mutually exclusive events, studying and not, therefor had some time to think to myself. This would be a perfect story to tell around a campfire with a bunch of 8-12 year old boys, since they being the most stereotyped into enjoying this kind of pastime, but one told by Chinese people in Chinese to Chinese while camping in China. This will most likely be esoteric, however all humor is subjective anyway.

Our story unfolds much like many of the forgettable horror movies pumped out in the past decade; our main character (dad) and his family have recently moved into a 大雜院,his neighbors seem friendly enough, he’s received positive reviews about the school his kids’ll be attending, so on. After a fashion (and some lame exposition) he comes to find that the previous tenants had been sent to the fields for some reeducation through labor, the father having been found out to be a political dissident and capitalist sympathizer. After, the family starts to notice weird things, like the stove being turned on despite no one doing it (we’ll just blame the kids), or the bike tires all being flat, or the dad starting to sleepwalk at night.

Eventually, once the instances of sleepwalking continue to increase in frequency, the dad hires a specialist to come in and inspect, to see if there’s any ghost activity.  He comes in and immediately after he starts his inspection he freaks out and bolts. This worries the mom, who then starts to pressure the dad into finding a new apartment to move into, I mean it’s 2014 for Pete’s sake!  But the dad is in between a rock and a hard place, his income isn’t high enough to get an apartment, so they’re stuck in the 大雜院 for a time. Then, one dark night, the dad starts to sleepwalk. He stealthily creeps like the wind without sound into his son’s room, who’s sleeping on a bed like a green meadow, the dad leans over the son, the son wakes up because he can subconsciously sense someone there, looks at his dad, he can tell something’s wrong with dad, his dad leans even closer, locking eyes with his son, and whispers, “上課!”














P.S. If use Google’s translate, it works not good, my meaning maybe is lost. Sorry la.

A Collection of Short Thoughts

I miss my beard.

The beach is pretty nice. I like the ocean.

Life is cyclical.

The three words in one of my dictionaries for brown sugar are: 红糖 (literally: red sweets),黑糖 (black sweets),and 黄糖 (yellow sweets).

Getting enough sleep* can be the difference between “I hate mondays and I hate this place and I want to go back to bed and I hate you all and I hate this place” and “I’m just a little tired.”

I hate it when asterisks don’t have corresponding explanations.

With the weather here being the same (almost identical patterns and temperatures day to day) it’s hard to demarcate the passage of time. Add to that the busyness that makes time seem to pass faster and the result is that I still feel like it’s late May.

It rained today (Sep 29). Even though it only lasted 5 minutes, it was beautiful.

Having bad shit in life makes the good stuff better by comparison.

我觉得还不会说汉语。我的语法太简单了,我的句子总是太短了。虽然我感到我的汉语需要进步,需要练习,可是几星期前,我在中国饭馆用中文点了菜。Nothing else matters. 可以说:什么别的事都不重要?

I had a test the other day, and it was so difficult that I went through all the 5 Kubler-Ross stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance) in a 50 minute period.

I’ve been writing this for about 3 months.

And now for some words that have at one point during the drafting of this been stuck in my head:








2013 June 30 Sunday

Musings from 二〇一三年六月三十号星期天。上个月我是开始学中文的。现在我的中文不很好,可是每天九个或是十个小时我学习中文,所以我可能快可以说话汉语。对不起,我的中文还不好!

One thing I’ve been thinking about a lot recently is how infectious and poisonous negativity is. I’ve noticed that if I’m too often in contact with someone who’s more negative than positive, or with someone who bitches and moans about every little thing, then I start to take on that persona, that negativity starts to grow within me like a cancer. It’s difficult to remain positive, or to retain a good perspective. Especially now, it’s easy for me to lose perspective and become fixated on the bad things, e.g., having to clean up the dorm everyday instead of 3 times a week because we can’t keep it clean enough, or having practically zero free time during the week, or all the small annoying little annoying rules that keep me restricted. It’s easy to lose perspective that I’m given three squares a day (albeit shitty food, it’s still hot food), a clean, warm, dry place to live, totally comprehensive medical and dental insurance at about 27 dollars a month, getting paid money to learn a foreign language, not to mention all the bags of swag that I’ll get if I make it through training. It’s easy to forget that thousands of people want to be where I’m at. It’s easy to forget that there are hundreds of millions of people in the world who struggle to put food and clothes in and on their bodies. I’ve been trying to remind myself that for all the gifts that I’ve been given these past few months, wading through a little bullshit is an acceptable price to pay. Nothing in life is free.

I also recently realized that I place a high value on food. More specifically, I was watching a video on how to make a small dish, and I realized that I missed good food. 因为The food here sucks 所以 I am sad. Oh well.

普通话不太sexy的,but I am learning to enjoy its sounds regardless.

One thing I do enjoy about my class is that quietness isn’t seen as a bad thing by the teachers. Sometimes they come in and ask us why we’re so quiet (as a class), but I think it’s partially due to experience with talkative american students. I speak more often, but speaking is part of a language and can’t be overlooked. That I understand. But so far, being extroverted and gregarious hasn’t been expected, and being otherwise hasn’t been seen as being wrong, which is something that often can occur in american classrooms.

I think once I have a strong grasp of chinese (in, say, a few years), I’ll start to learn a new language. As much as I’d like to tackle cantonese, I think I want to take it easy, maybe something with an alphabet…perhaps korean? or french or german?

Everybody wants to be heard, validated, wanted, valued. Some people go about it the wrong way. I feel that the dylan song My Back Pages (“oh but I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now”) is pretty applicable to me right now; about 7-8 months ago seemed to be my peak of maturity, self-realization and -awareness, and motivation for self-progress and all that jazz. I feel like I’ve slightly reverted. I look back at what I wrote anywhere from 2 years to 6 months ago and wonder if the feeling of becoming less mature in my ways of thinking is real or imagined. I can’t think of concrete examples of what I mean, so this is all just jibber jabber.

I’ve noticed that now that I’m not reading books or watching movies as often, I find it harder to read between the lines and analyze them. My ability to critically view books and films is now pedestrian at best. Oh well. Ain’t no body got time to think like some professor anyway.

“Hydrate today to perform tomorrow.”