Monday, February 28, 2011

Yawnfest 2011

Everyone at work thought the same (except the girl from HR who thought the pair of hosts were the highlight of the night. Count me confused!). It was, hands down, the worst Oscar in ... forever.

Don't even get me started on Kirk Douglas's Dirty Ol' Man schtick. It was uncomfortable to watch (and I am well aware that he'd suffered a stroke). And Melissa Leo's histrionics were too, too much. It was beyond irritating, especially when she paid for full-page "For Your Consideration" ads to persuade Academy voters to give her a statue, but she didn't have anything prepared for her speech? It was like witnessing a desperate barfly swinging on a stripper pole at closing time.

Next time, the Academy should hire industry insiders because the best jokes were the ones that revealed Hollywood's guarded machinations. I stayed up for this crap?

*sidenote: My colleague grew up and went to school with the guy who was handing out the Oscar statues and playing "grab the stick" with Mr. Douglas. (Her friends nicknamed him Miss Golden Globes last night.) He's Omar Sharif's grandson and his Facebook page plays out like a Jersey Shore slideshow.


The Oscars came and went and even though the Academy has been trying to attract a younger demographic by hiring a pair of young stars, both Paul and I just wished Billy Crystal would come back. I mean, his minute-long monologue trumped the entire telecast. Even with that ghastly face lift and Anne Hathaway's gajillion costume changes, he still managed to stand out. (Natural charm, I suppose.) James Franco looked like a distracted gerbil after snorting an 8-ball backstage. And he couldn't do anything with those dark circles? He looked so over this shit, it was like he was simultaneously cranking out the introductory paragraph of his next big essay while humouring Anne's girlish giggles.

Even Hugh Jackman's stint topped this! C'mon! Why don't the Academy realize that hiring young hosts won't solve the dying ratings? They need to nominate relevant actors (who aren't getting pregnant for sympathy votes, ahem) and respect their oeuvre, not simply their status. Paul and I were both perplexed by Hailee Steinfeld's nomination in the supporting actress category. She carried True Grit. It could've been an Anna Paquin moment! Now that would've dredged up viewers.

Anyway, Paul's disappointed that his hero, Roger Deakins, lost again for the best cinematography Oscar. However, he was rooting for Danny Cohen for The King's Speech because, in his words, the movie took more risks and sidestepped lighting conventions for a mainstream release. I thought The Social Network looked like a typical Fincher flick: muted yellowed tones anchored by dark shadows, little to no use of natural light, a modern take on Gothic broodiness.

Three of our company's releases were nominated this year as well, but none of them won. Boo! Probably gonna get an earful about how we were robbed tomorrow :P

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Weekend fun

Someone took this picture of me when I was visiting Paul on set. He says I play the part of the annoyed movie producer very well. Agreed. If I was on any of his shoots as an actual investor, I'd be hemorrhaging millions a minute.

It's a bit difficult for me to resist playing assistant director whenever I'm around cables and craft. Luckily for me, I've worked with the majority of the crew before so my directions were graciously welcomed.

"Why don't you conduct a rehearsal while the lights are being set up?" I'd say to the director. Or, "Let's block the scene," when I sensed that the talent was getting anxious.

It feels good coming back to do this once in awhile. I miss running the show and calling out, "Quiet on set!" and readying everyone for the shot. Paul is always tempting me to return, too, if only to work side-by-side with me (he's a bit of a romantic that way). He also knows that being an assistant director is just something I happen to do well rather than a profession I'd seriously depend on for income.

Which reminds me: Maybe it's time to quit the Directors Guild now that I'm receiving benefits from my current job?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Love doesn't blossom in a vacuum

The Globe published Naomi Powell's blog entry confirming the widely held belief that people don't marry across income brackets. I also jumped into the fray (now deleted):

I think the majority of the commenters are missing the key point of the article. That is, the focus of the study is on the income bracket of the parents and how that affects the marriages of their offspring (who may not be in the same income bracket themselves).

From a purely anecdotal standpoint, I can attest to the study's findings. My partner is, like me, a 1.5 generation immigrant, but from a divergent part of the world. Our parents came to Canada with next to nothing and worked to become upper-middle-class. However, my partner and I work in the film industry, which is notoriously low-paying.

Compare him to a friend of mine whom I've known since we attended elementary school. He and I frequently visited the prospect of dating right into our adult years, but never made the leap. Although we still get along very well, his family background always deterred me from presenting myself as a serious romantic contender. His family would be considered, with no disrespect, lower to lower-middle-class/income.

Although a child prodigy, his family did not encourage him academically and failed to be involved in his life. He was on his own after high school and did odd jobs for years until I finally convinced him to attend university to widen his social circle (as he was dissatisfied with his life). However, during this time, he also bonded with those from similar family backgrounds.

So while the public school system no doubt allowed me to meet him, his family's values do not jibe with mine as we differ in terms of how we prioritize education, our knowledge base (eg. my family vs. his family's ability to fund trips abroad), and our philosophies in child-rearing (his is more passive, mine is more active). Whereas, my partner and I not only have chemistry, but due to our families' relative financial stability, we are able to ride out trying economic times without huge repercussions whereas my friend's family would not be able to contribute financially and is, thus, less obligated to preserve active family ties (extended and otherwise).

Family legacy shapes the way we see the world, not necessarily with money, but it is an important factor. So while my friends and I are technically in the same income bracket, I chose a partner whose family is similar to my own (which now only leaves the language barrier a problem :)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

And it begins ...

I started some loco shit today and didn't even know it.

Every quarter, the president of our company gives an update on the business and, as his assistant, I organize the event. Multiple offices dial in and he eventually opens it up to questions. He specified to me earlier that he'd like to encourage people to be more proactive in expressing interest and curiosity in regards to company activities. So today, after another employee asked a question, I went ahead and asked mine because, as usual, no one from any of the other cities had the courage to do so (which I will soon find out why).

I basically asked him if there was a possibility of expanding to a certain part of the world because I had read in the newspaper that he was in the process of acquiring a couple of companies in that direction.

He answered me straight, made a couple of cracks, and was completely at ease.

Later in the day, I get a phone call from an executive assistant with whom I work nearly exclusively. To sum it up, she said I was out of line, that I have not been with the company long enough to ask questions without first having them approved, that 20 some odd people were concerned that I was revealing company secrets, that rumours are now being spread about my ability to keep my job, and finally, that it's surprising the boss hasn't reprimanded me yet.

Oh boy, where to start? It was a Q&A! I'm not allowed to Q in the Q&A? What sort of fucked up logic was this?!

She lectured me for 15-minutes and told me she didn't want to hear my explanations. "What compelled you to ask a question? You could've easily asked him in person!"

I told her the boss was encouraging that kind of environment during the conference and I just went with it. There was no "strategic motivation" behind my intentions.

After more babbling from her part (while I silently banged my head against the receiver), I heard a momentary pause and said, "Is there anything else you'd like to speak to me about? If not, then I'd like to thank you for bringing this to my attention, it was very much appreciated. I will definitely watch what I say next time, but I need to get back to work."

And hung up.

I brought this to my boss's attention. I was concerned that my job was at risk. He said he received a few emails about the same thing, but he told me not to worry too much about it. "Actually, don't worry about it at all," he clarified.

He said the information I brought up was public knowledge, he's discussed the same things in media interviews, and nothing I said or he elaborated on was confidential in any way. I mean, my question was based on information released in a newspaper article published last year! It's not like I told everyone I came across an email detailing a deal, how it'll going down, and when money will exchange hands.

So basically, these complainers haven't been reading up on the company and think that whatever I say must be a result of my privileged position. It's called Google, look it up!

Ugh, corporate culture. You'd have to be at the very bottom or top to survive it unscathed.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Year of the Rabbit

On efficient communication
Mom texts me: "Happy chinse new year. Did you call me."

I text back: "Happy Chinese New Year. I didn't call you."


Snowpocalypse my ass. Yesterday's newspaper headline was something akin to, "From Snowtorious B.I.G. to Snowbigdeal." Toronto received about half the snow originally predicted by meteorologists. Seriously? Now it's -16 degrees Celsius and super sunny. Not great, but also not the literal freezing over of hell.

Remind me what sort of qualifications you need to be a weatherman again? A diploma in Staring Out Your Window? A double certificate in Being Outside?