Put your music on shuffle and post the first ten songs.
1. “Fever” – The Black Keys
2. “Seasons (Waiting On You)” – Future Islands
3. “Only for You” – Heartless Bastards
1. “Fever” – The Black Keys
2. “Seasons (Waiting On You)” – Future Islands
3. “Only for You” – Heartless Bastards
1. Work hard and be nice to people
These are not mutually exclusive principles. Being nice and being a pushover are also not the same thing, so you can be nice and still stand firm in your principles and work ethic. I am not the best at either of these things, but if my kids learn only these two things, they should go far.
2. Be grateful for where you are in life
After I graduated high school, my mom made me get a summer job before college. She literally sat down with me and went through the classifieds, a.k.a. job listings printed out on physical paper that existed in the real physical world. I found a job at a company that takes inventory for stores – from smaller clothing stores in the mall to the Targetses, K-Martses and Searses. It paid $6.25 an hour and I hated it. I had to wake up at 4am so I could get to work at 5am so we could drive to the store by 6am to start doing inventory before a store opened. It was a crappy first job, but I think all first jobs should be crappy. One day I came home complaining about my crappy summer job and she said to me (and I’m paraphrasing), “You’re lucky that you’re going to college and getting an education so you can have a career and better your life. Some of the people you’re working with, they have no choice. They are stuck there and they HAVE to take that job.” I started college in the fall and never looked back.
3. Don’t be afraid to fail
Whatever you learn from your successes, you learn 100 times more from failures. So if you fail more, you learn more (at least you should be). Of course, you should eventually have a win, and that’s where all that learning will have come in handy. I want them to try all kinds of things. The quicker you find out that you’re not good at something, the quicker you can either move on or work on getting better at that thing. I don’t want my kids to be looking back on life with a bunch of “what ifs”.
Honorable Mention: Take care of your parents when they get old
This theoretically should be the first lesson from a purely selfish point of view, but one reason you have kids is to hope that they’ll grow up and still love you enough to help out when you become too old to do the things you were able to do on your own. There is no guarantee they won’t grow up and throw you in a retirement home the first chance they get, but all of life is a gamble.
Even though I engage regularly on social media, when asked to straight up list 30 things about myself, I suddenly get weary of sharing? Well, yes. Instead of just listing 30 things, I’ll tell a story, and in that story there will be roughly 30 things about me. I’m not just going to give it up like some man whore. You’re going to have to earn it. Deal? Deal.
I was talking with my mom the other day (I have a mom! Fact #1) and she mentioned that a restaurant my dad used to work at, Tokyo Hibachi, was closing. I was pretty surprised because that restaurant was such a fixture in my life and I just assumed it would be around forever. My dad had been in the hospitality industry for most of his life – he was a bartender for many years in LA (he told me more than a few times of the story where Frank Sinatra tipped him $100) and one of his best friends wanted my dad to help him open a new japanese restaurant. I only learned recently (like when my mom told me the place was closing) that my dad helped out a lot in getting the business proposal together and figuring out the look of the restaurant. When it finally opened in 1986, my dad managed the front of the house and suddenly my dad worked at a japanese restaurant in Lakewood. To me, it made sense. I’m japanese, and my dad works at a japanese restaurant. That’s how it works, right?
The owner, Uncle George and my dad were really good friends (we just called all of my parents’ friends “uncle” and “aunty”) , and we would always get the hookups when we were there. A free sushi plate here, a discounted dinner there. One time for my dad’s birthday, they made him a special multi course dinner where course was made with saba (mackerel), one of my dad’s favorites. Another time for Thanksgiving the restaurant was closed and they had a special Thanksgiving dinner with just the staff. Even after my dad stopped working there, we were still invited because he had been such a big part of the restaurant in its early days.
Tokyo Hibachi was your pretty standard japanese fare, but like with anything that you experience during your childhood, it automatically becomes sentimental and you become super biased towards it. Whenever we would go there, the owner would always greet me with a big handshake and a “wow, you’re getting big!” spiel, say a bunch of things in japanese to my dad that I never really understood, and walk us to our table where I would always get the dinner combo with tempura, because fried food. Every year for Christmas we would stop by to pick up a sushi platter to take for an uncle’s Christmas Eve dinner. When we got there, Uncle George would always go into a broom closet sized room in the front and emerge with presents for me and my sister.
As the years went by, the restaurant started to look old and dated and just became another japanese restaurant in a sea of japanese restaurants in southern California. Eventually the lease was up on the property and the landlord didn’t want to extend the lease more than five years. Uncle George wanted to do some renovations, but saw no point if he couldn’t stay there for more than five years, so he just decided to retire and hang it up.
I don’t know if it’s the aging thing, but I’ve been thinking a lot about moving on, getting older, and seeing things that were once fixtures of your life disappear into memories. A couple of years ago, my mom sold the only home I ever knew in Torrance to live a smaller, more manageable place. Even the Manhattan Beach restaurant my dad went to work at is no more, replaced by an izakaya called “The Izaka-ya by Katsu-ya” which is funny because my dad’s name was Katsuyoshi.
Even after reading some of the 1 and 2 star Yelp reviews of Tokyo Hibachi (and feeling a “YOU DON’T KNOW NOTHIN” rage inside), it will always be a special memory that takes its place among the things in my life that are no more.
I don’t think that was 30 facts, but whatever.
Even if you don’t believe in all that astrology mumbo jumbo, it’s always at least entertaining to read. When I was at an impressionable age I was reading the comic strip section of the paper (what “web comics” are to the kids these days) and I happened to read the daily horoscope for my sign. It said “Expect a surprise visitor today,” among other things. I brushed it off until my friend dropped by unannounced to drop off something at my house, which he never did. Even though I never went full “OMG THESE ARE SO TRUE” on horoscopes, you never really know what forces govern the universe and it did leave an impression on me (because of the aforementioned impressionable age). Whether you are religious, agnostic, spiritual, or atheist, everyone must admit that there are unexplainable things happening in our universe because we can’t possibly know the answers to everything that’s happening. Whether those unexplainable things are gods, spirits, metaphysical thingamajigs, or just more advanced science, we may never know.
There are a bajillion astrology sites, so after randomly picking one, here’s what a site said about Leos:
“Lions are powerful creatures and so are the Leos. They exert power at every state of life. Being a Fire sign they are also great source of energy and can be the motivating force to others. Leos are also great friends. They are kind hearted and will normally go to any extent to help their friends. They also spend lavishly on their friends and throw great parties. However, their desire to be praised and recognized for whatever they do lead them to gather people around them who are opportunists. Leos also befriend with people who are useful or potentially useful to them.
Leos love to rule. They simply can’t take orders from anyone. They will remain the only ruler in their domain, which can be office, home or partner. Leos are possessive and dominate in a relationship. Romantic relation with Leo can be exciting and their ideal partners are people who would accept their dominance. They strive to build an image larger than life. They crave for social acceptance and are often found to roam the higher social circle.Leos don’t like to be crossed. They would strike with a great force when criticized but will also easily forget and forgive.”
Let’s break this one down:
“Lions are powerful creatures and so are the Leos. They exert power at every state of life. Being a Fire sign they are also great source of energy and can be the motivating force to others”
If I’ve motivated people, great! But I haven’t really seen much evidence of that.
“Leos are also great friends. They are kind hearted and will normally go to any extent to help their friends. They also spend lavishly on their friends and throw great parties.”
I don’t think I have ever thrown a party in my life. Also, ask any of my friends the last time I bought something for them.
“However, their desire to be praised and recognized for whatever they do lead them to gather people around them who are opportunists. Leos also befriend with people who are useful or potentially useful to them.”
This isn’t looking good. I’m not even sure if I would want to be my friend.
“Leos love to rule. They simply can’t take orders from anyone. They will remain the only ruler in their domain, which can be office, home or partner. Leos are possessive and dominate in a relationship. Romantic relation with Leo can be exciting and their ideal partners are people who would accept their dominance.”
This just sounds weird. Dominate! Domination! Possessive! Rule! I am probably the least dominating anything in any of the environments I exist in. Just ask my wife. Heyyooooooo!
“They strive to build an image larger than life. They crave for social acceptance and are often found to roam the higher social circle. Leos don’t like to be crossed. They would strike with a great force when criticized but will also easily forget and forgive.”
It is true that I like to dream big and I don’t like to be crossed, but who does like to be crossed? However, I will strike with a great force when criticized, with that “great force” being the unfriend button. But then I’ll re-add you because hey, life’s too short to hold a grudge.
It’s always fun to read these things, especially with loved ones and friends and others who actually know you. Sometimes things match up, sometimes they don’t. Just remember that correlation does not equal causation.
For good or for bad, your hometown always has a special place in your heart. The sights, sounds, and smells you remember combine to create fully formed memories of growing up. Even though I was never a beach bum, living near the ocean was always a big part of my life. I don’t think I will ever able to move more than 20 miles inland. The Pacific Ocean may be a vast and scary unknown covering half the earth’s surface, but it’s my gigantic security blanket.
Another security blanket that I had to part with long ago was a behemoth of capitalism known as Del Amo Fashion Center. In 1981, it became the largest indoor shopping center in America (a title it has long since given up). Before the Internet eroded the retail dominance of giant malls, you had to physically walk/bus/drive to an actual place to waste time. If you broke down my youth in terms of time spent anywhere, it would be evenly divided between home, school, and Del Amo Mall.
20 years ago, it required an Avengers-like assembly of mall stores to satisfy the retail needs that amazon.com can provide today. Stores like KB Toys would always be there for me to gawk at the wall of Super NES games that I would never be able to buy. At Suncoast Motion Picture Company I would peruse its racks of unapologetically retail priced DVDs as they played movies on the TV screens throughout the store. Sam Goody let me listen to whatever CDs happened to be featured in their bolted-down CD Walkman-cum-music sampling devices. Nirvana’s Nevermind was the sole representative of the entire “Rock” section of CDs.
Del Amo even used to be high tech! Suddenly, during one visit, electronic mall directories were a thing. You could tap through the mall directory on a touchscreen and it would tell you how to get to every store from where you were standing using little isometric maps and an animated footprint trail leading to the store you didn’t need to go to so you could buy the thing you didn’t really need. It was amazing. I thought this certainly was the height of human achievement and that we were downfall of civilization was coming at any time.
Before any of us had a car, my friends and I would bike or take the bus to Del Amo and do one, some, or all of the following:
Del Amo’s last hurrah was probably its appearance in Jackie Brown, where it played a pivotal role and where everyone at school spent even MORE time at Del Amo trying to be an extra in the movie so they could brag about it to everyone. Even by then, in the late 90s, it was in decline and by the time I went off to college, it was in freefall. I have only been there a few times since then, mostly to watch a movie in the new outdoor mall area, which is kind of like a facelift on an aging O.C. housewife, but Simon Malls is throwing down $200 million to renovate the entire complex, so maybe from the ashes a new generation of mallrats will rise. Even if it ends up being $200 million well spent, it will never recapture the pre-Internet magic I experienced in my youth.
It’s apropos that I write about this today because yesterday I thought I had lost my wallet. Even though I can think back to specific points in time throughout the day, I certainly can’t account for all of them. As my wife was trying to help me walk through every single thing I did that day, there were just some things I couldn’t account for. Luckily I found my wallet, but it made me think about exactly what I think about and retain throughout the day.
Watching movies is one of the best things ever in life. You get magically transported to another world for a couple of hours and you don’t even have to stand up.
1. Ocean’s Eleven (2001)
This movie really is the best. This movie hits from the very beginning and never lets up. The pacing keeps you from even noticing the passage of time like the inside of a Vegas casino while seamlessly intertwining comedy, suspense, and action. Every part, no matter how small is masterfully played. It’s like watching the 1992 Dream Team straight murder every team by 40 points every five minutes.
2. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
This is one of those movies where if you come across it on TV, no matter how far in it is, you just start watching it. I remember the first time seeing and marveling at the fact that I sat through the entire thing. It’s probably the most serene and peaceful movie about prison, ever.
3. Office Space (1999)
I graduated from college right after the first dot-com bust so I was very fortunate that the company I was interning at offered me a full-time position – others were not so lucky. It was at this company that I was introduced to the world that Office Space would portray with such chilling accuracy. I understand that this is a movie not everyone will understand. However, those that do have an undying, almost religious devotion towards it. My friends and I would constantly quote this movie during lunch or over AIM as we sat in our soft-wall office or cubicle or shared office. It was kind of a cynical introduction to the real world, but it really makes me appreciate where I work now.
4. Superbad (2007)
This movie will never get old for me. I can’t really point to just any one scene, but the overall tone and the dialog just reminds me of how I would joke around with my friends and just riff of of stupid things that come up. I was so uncool in high school that I wasn’t even trying to unsuccessfully score beer and get with girls, so maybe I’m just trying to live vicariously through this movie. Also, I can’t believe Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg wrote this movie in high school. High school! What the hell was I doing in high school? Maybe I should’ve written a movie.
5. Heat (1994)
When I was in middle school I had to do some research for a report, so my mom took me to the public library in downtown L.A. (yes, there was a time where you had to physically seek out information). Right outside the library there was a shoot going on for some movie and I always wanted to stay and watch and be as close as they would let us be. I asked around and found out it was for some movie called Heat. I had to go back to the library a couple weekends in a row and every weekend they were shooting that same scene, so I got to see them shoot that scene a few times, whatever scene that was. Of course, because it was an R-rated movie, it would be years before I would even get to see it. I eventually forgot about it.
It turns out that they were shooting was one of the greatest shootout scenes ever for a movie that would end up being one of my favorite movies ever. Even before I made that connection years later, I thought this movie was awesome, but that just made it even more so. Michael Mann is able to capture that ethereal mood of LA in the evenings and night that I remember when I was younger, so whenever I watch this movie, it strangely evokes old feelings and memories (fortunately none of which include shootouts, gangsters, or murder).
I could probably make this list twice as long, but I’m tired and it’s late. Maybe I can make a Part 2.
This past weekend, thanks to a hook up from a friend we got to take Dylan to California Adventure and he had the best day of his life. He has been to Disneyland before, but he was too young to truly understand the irresistible lure of the Disney empire. This time he got to eat ice cream, churros, actually go on rides, experience the joy that is Toy Story Midway Mania, and met his idol, Buzz Lightyear.
While we were walking around Paradise Pier, he was walking around with an extra spring in his step and I’ve never seen him so happy in my life. There are so many more moments in his life that I’m looking forward to see him experience and I think that is what I’m most excited about right now. Also, with another boy on the way, I’m really excited to see Dylan become a big brother and watch both of them grow and be there for each other.
Also, I just rented Ex Machina on iTunes, so I’m pretty excited about that.