Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Little Bit of Local Zen

I'm feeling much better in the wake of quitting last week. Here are some images of the past week here in my hometown that inspire Zen in me.

The images above were taken at Nickles Arboretum in Ann Arbor. I walked around here during lunch break to escape from work. It was so ironic that a place of serenity and beauty was so close to a place that caused such despair.

Images above are from the Zen Buddhist Temple in A2. Now that my life is getting back into order, I can be more in a Buddhist frame of mind when I visit the temple on Sunday mornings.

Buh Bye DOMA

The decision on the federal law was 5 to 4, with Justice Anthony M. Kennedy writing the majority opinion, which the four liberal-leaning justices joined.
“The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity,” Justice Kennedy wrote. “By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment.”
Source: NYTimes

Monday, June 24, 2013

Now on to More Important Things

Well as I previously announced, Friday was my last day at work. I had planned to give notice today and work 1/2 the week, but noooooooooooooooooooo, the antagonists at my former place of employment who have been the source of stress and migraines, made matters worse on Friday. So I went to the office this morning, early before most people arrived, and just slid my resignation letter under the supervisor's door. Fast forward 2 hours, I get a delicious email from my ex co-worker buddy telling me that it was chaos with management very upset and surprised about me quitting. Gee, I was just a temp, I guess they really did value my work and realize how much smoother things were when I was there. Ha! I feel good and I'm moving on.

Meanwhile, I enjoyed my first day of my 'between jobs' vacation time. In getting prepared for my 10th consecutive Toronto Int'l Film Festival (Sept 5-15), I have applied for media accreditation. The process is very detailed and it's quite exclusive. I realize I have a snowball's chance in hell in getting a media pass, but I had to try. For all this time that I have been going to TIFF, I have written movie reviews, and wrote about my close encounters with celebrities, and my delightful time in Toronto. I created this blog for the very purpose of one day qualifying to apply for media accreditation. But after going through the application process, I followed the instructions and submitted samples as they requested, but, I just don't know if it's good enough. The first criteria was to submit a letter from 'my editor' validating my purpose in Toronto, on company letterhead.

ToZ "company letterhead" logo
Well, I'm the writer and editor of ToZ and Fassinating Fassbender, so I had to quickly cook up "company letterhead" so that I can submit the letter of request to the accreditation coordinator. I must say that in the end, my spontaneous letterhead looked pretty good. I typed up a letter, saved it in .pdf form and submitted it along with some writing samples from last year's TIFF. I don't know when I'll hear something, but if they are going to deny me, I'd rather receive the rejection quickly, get it over with.

For the remainder of this week, I will be watching DVDs that I checked out from the library. I'm still thinking about my wonderful trip to Paris, so I find myself renting films about that city. Just the other day I watched the 2008 movie 'Paris', starring Juliet Binoche, and it was very good. It was like a darker French version of the British film 'Love, Actually'. And today, I rented 'Paris, Je T'Aime'. Along with those, I got the Irish thriller 'Five Minutes of Heaven', 'The Paperboy', and I finally got my hands on the 2012 flop 'John Carter'. I really wanted to see this movie to see for myself why it failed so badly at the box office, I think I will like it. And just yesterday, I went to the library at EMU to check out a book I've been wanting to read for a while, and I have the time now and again, the timing is perfect.

Can you believe that Marvel fans are hating on this man?
The book by Jonathan Gray, et al., 'Fandom: Identities and Communities in a Mediated World', will give me great insight into what fandoms are like per the various studies and observations of a variety of fandoms. Because I've been in the Michael Fassbender fandom for almost seven years now, I have seen the ebbs and flow of the good and bad in that fandom. And right now, at the height of the box office success of 'Man of Steel, I have seen a lot of irrational hate for the movie and it's principally coming from anti-fans who hate the superheros of DC comics, specifically Superman. Yeah, I scratch my head over that too, silly right? Who knew that there was a rival between Marvel and DC comics nerds? And speaking of Man of Steel, I'm going to see it again this week. I'll say it again, Henry Cavill owns Superman!

Friday, June 21, 2013

I Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest!

I'm happy to announce that today was my last day at work. I had planned to resign next week, and I still will do that on Monday, but today is the last time I will do work for those people. A few things transpired today to help me see the light and realize that they did not deserve a respectful resignation. They did not deserve me going in there for three more days to deal with their insufferable bullshit and be used. No, I quit today, but I will go in on Monday and hand the resignation letter to that fool supervisor, along with the office key and my badge. I would have done that this afternoon, but I did not have the office key with me, it was in my backpack at home.

When you are in a very bad work situation, and you are not appreciated or valued, and if you are lucky enough to either have some money set aside, or a new job lined up... just get the fuck out the crazy work scene. I will use the entire next week to decompress and unwind from the last two weeks of hell, and be fresh and renewed when I start my new job on July 1st!

I flew over the cuckoo's nest today! Hallelujah!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Resignation Letter Time

The time has finally arrived! I have accepted a job offer, a great career opportunity, not just a "job" per se. It's more than having a job to pay the bills and live, for me, my new job is a huge step up the professional ladder and I'm so excited, thrilled, and happy! The past 10 days has been one ongoing nightmare of bullshit at my current job. Unprecedented levels of bullshit has occurred there in recent months and at this time in my life, I just didn't think I could take anymore. Since I could not find new employment at the beginning of the year, I figured I would lay low and just focus on Winter term at school and plan my spring European vacation (more on that later). In the back of my mind, I had planned to leave my current job sometime after my trip, and thank God that plan came to fruition.

Without going into details and public whining about the work I do at the present, allow me to just say that I was overworked, underpaid, and seriously under appreciated. As a contract worker, I was at their mercy and I just did the work. Deep down inside, it was eating me up because I know I'm better than this and I need to find something else soon. I came across my current job via the job ads at in mid April. I submitted my resume, and about two weeks later, I get a call for a phone interview in early May. After the phone interview, I was invited for a face to face interview with three people. These type of group interviews can be intimidating, but all the ladies were nice and lovely. This second interview went so well, after I left, I got a call from them just over an hour later asking me to come back for a third interview. Wow! What a fantastic way to start off my vacation because this interview was the day before I took off for my holiday. They knew I was going out of town and asked if June 19th was a good time to come back. They wanted to give me breathing space to get back and sorted after a long vacation. And like I mentioned earlier, my first day back at the hell hole place was horrible. I literally was in three countries in the span of 48 hours by Monday morning and I felt like I was in the twilight zone of disbelief by 8:15, on June 10!

The post-vacation high was completely demolished by 9:00 am that Monday back at work and I was ruined for the rest of that week. I was so pissed off at one point, that I TOLD myself that next week would be my final week here. However, I needed to be smart, not emotional, so I also had another backup plan with the temp office to hook me up with something else for the interim. Meanwhile, I had an assessment to take for the interviewing company which took 5 hours of my time on Sunday. I felt empowered while working on it and knew that I had knocked it out of the park. My gut told me that the job was mine, but, I still needed to go to the 3rd interview and impress them. Shit hit the fan earlier this week which made me solidify a quit date to be Friday of this week. But low and behold, after my interview ended, I was offered the job. I have never experienced anything like that before. It was surreal, I'm still surprised that I held it together and did not jump up and down like I was on The Price is Right! In London, I had a sitting with a Tarot Card reader at the College of Psychic Studies and she showed me two money cards that came out from the deck. She said I was going to get a new job soon and earn a lot more money. Yes, she was right! I start my new job on Monday, July 1st.

So since yesterday afternoon, I have been on my own private cloud nine in knowing that my days are numbered at where I work right now. I have received the official offer letter today, which is contingent upon me passing the background and drug screening, which I will certainly pass. What I plan to do is hand in my resignation on Monday morning with a quit date of Wednesday. That way I can finish off some financial paperwork with expenses and ordering lab supplies. Anything beyond what I cannot accomplish is their problem. If they give me shit about quitting, I'll quit on that very day! What's important to note is that I deliberately want to have next Thursday and Friday off for me as vacation days. I need those days to make up for the fuckery that really upset me last Monday and Tuesday, so soon after returning back to home from overseas. I need this time to decompress, relax, and enjoy life a little bit with no drama. I want to be clear and free of my soon to be former job and get on with life. As a temp, they are lucky I'm giving them three days, very lucky.

London & Paris

Due to the workplace issues, I was not able to be in the frame of mind to share with you about my vacation. In short, I had an awesome time!!! I love London and enjoyed it even more by spending time with a friend I met online, Marjan. She's really cool and we enjoyed each other's company on the Friday and Saturday, and Sunday morning before we parted ways. We ate at a posh restaurant, and visited a very hip suburb of London. I look forward to hooking up with Marjan again, and now that I got a new job, I can afford to travel to Amsterdam in the near future to meet up with her. :-)

After London, I took the Eurostar to Paris. My first few moments in Paris was chaotic, but I got it sorted out when a taxi service guy offered to walk me to my hotel since it was only a 5 minute walk from Gare Du Nord instead of hailing a taxi which would have ripped me off. I stayed at Hotel Le Rocroy and it was nicer than I anticipated, and much larger that London hotels of my price range. I really like Paris and I need to visit again to see more of it, especially at nighttime. My friend Ann, who lives in Paris, made my experience in Paris more enjoyable due to her being my tour guide. And today is her birthday! xoxo

I loved the Louvre but surprisingly, loved the Musee d'Orsay even more! The Eiffel tower was marvelous, and Arc de Triomphe was spectacular - but it nearly killed me with those long windy stairs, and I'm in shape! LOL!

Then I returned to London for one more night and met up with an old friend. Well, now I know why the old adage says, 'Friends and politics don't mix'. My friend brought up the topic of the Woolwich murder and asked my opinion. I told her how tragic it was and I felt sorry for the soldier and his family, and detest the murderers and hope they are made examples of. Well, my friend's opinion differed from mine, and in all honesty, I was so taken aback and offended by her comments that it destroyed the rest of my evening with her. I was still civil and pleasant, but it was feigned and I knew in the back of my mind that her cynical and blunt attitude just was not my cup of tea. Once we parted ways with a hug at the end of the night, I knew that would be the last time I would see my friend. I wish her well, but this was the final straw as she has said many things during our political conversations over the years that I did not agree with. Life is too short and although I greatly value differing opinions, there are some boundaries that once crossed, it's just not fun anymore. I'm moving on. In this trip, I hooked up with a good dear friend, made two new friends, and will cut off ties with one friend.

It's all good and I'm finally in a good place now that I'm back in the driver's seat of my life again! And I tell you one thing, I probably wouldn't be where I am now if I hadn't made the decision to go back to school for my Master's degree. It's costs a lot of money, and a lot of blood, sweat, tears, sleepless nights, and no social life, but it's something that gave me the leg up in my new career opportunity. So if you're deciding about going back to college, follow your gut and just do it!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Film Review: Man of Steel - 9/10

Hot Henry Cavill as Superman/Clark Kent/Kal-Al
The superman DC comics is one of the oldest superheroes, first created back in 1933, so Superman has been on the conscious of comic book and superhero lovers for many, many decades. I think the main appeal to Superman is that he is also the only non-human superhero who really is more human than most humans, if you're following me. What I'm saying is that his love for humankind and Earth is ironically stronger than what most humans feel towards each other and mother Earth. In this latest re-visioning of Superman, directed by Zack Snyder, 'Man of Steel' is darker than the Superman of the past in its explanation about how Superman's home planet, Kryton was destroyed. We also learn that the 'S' on his uniform is not just a mere letter, but a symbol of Hope from his world. As the soul survivor of a dying planet, Kal-Al/Clark Kent/Superman was shipped off to Earth to live a full life and be a productive member of Human society.

I saw Superman on Saturday evening with a sold out crowd, I even saw one college age student don his Superman cape to this screening. Never have I witnessed before so many solid groups of friends and family members,  12+ people going to the show together, and thereby making finding seating together quite difficult. But when the film began, you could hear a needle drop because everyone was just absorbed into the re-telling of another Superman film. Although there were a lot of young kids there under 10 years old, this Superman did not have the bubble gum campy style of previous movies, this was serious, the real deal.

Superman's parents send their son off alone to Earth with the essence of the unborn people of his race bonded within his DNA. When General Zod (Michael Shannon) learns that Jor-El, played by Russell Crowe, stole the relic that is key to the survival of his race, he makes it his mission to find the boy one day to get it back. Gen. Zod and his posse are imprisoned for their murderous activities and coup attempt, and frozen for eternity in another part of the galaxy. Meanwhile, Kryton is dying and the core of the planet starts to destroy the planet until it is nothing more. On target to Earth, baby Kal-Al is on towards his new home where he is lovingly raised by the Kents played by Kevin Costner and Diane Lane. As Clark Kent grows up (wonderfully played by the ridiculously hot Henry Cavill), he knows he is very different and his father explains to him that he needs to keep his powers to himself because people will be scared of him and ostracize him. But through a series of accidents and the desire to save people's lives, and through witnesses of his abilities, Clark has to move on in the world and work at various jobs to keep busy.

One day he learns about a large mysterious hidden object found frozen in ice, and he goes to inspect it to find that it is a ship that his father sent to Earth 20,000 years ago. Clark learns more about his identity, home planet and race of people through clever conscious imaging of talking to his father Jor-El. This is where I appreciate the new re-visioning of Man of Steel, it allows us to understand and see how Clark comes to appreciate and recognize his extraterrestrial identity and embrace it proudly and to use his abilities to help Earth. However, once Clark entered the ship and activated it by using a device he had on him since birth, it sent a signal to Gen. Zod's ship and the chaos begins.

The excellent Michael Shannon as Gen. Zod
We are introduced to a new Lois Lane played by Amy Adams. This lady is strong, and a smart journalist. She learns about Clark's true identity by following him onto the ship hidden in ice and soon becomes his curious friend. She is so amazed by this story that she is compelled to write about it, but her editor, Perry White, played by Laurence Fishburne feels that it is not a story that they can published because it would scare people. Hell bent on getting the story out there, she finds another way. So in Clark's 33rd year of being on planet Earth and learning of his abilities, Gen. Zod shows up on Earth and he demands Earth to surrender "one of my citizens" or the entire planet will be doomed. Clark realizes that he has to surrender himself to Gen. Zod to prevent Earth from being attacked. However, he doesn't trust Gen. Zod, and his gut instinct was  right. In the end, Clark must choose to save Earth, or finish off the last few survivors of his race. He makes the choice, and it's gut wrenching for him... the sudden realization that that decision is in his hands and once he makes the decision, it can't be undone.

The grandest fight scenes in the superhero genre can be seen in Man of Steel as Superman fights with the few  remaining members of his race. The action and CGI in this film, which is a trademark of Synder, is exceptional and exciting! There has been what I sense to be a smear campaign by rival studios and fanatic fans of Marvel comics, totally set on talking garbage about Man of Steel. Some film critics review of the film make me wonder if they even actually saw the damn film, because if they did, some of them wouldn't be so childishly negative as they have been. But ignoring those fools, you can see for yourself that currently at IMDB, the rating is currently at an impressive 8.3 (I submitted my vote too of a 9). And more impressively, it has scored an A- at Cinemascore,which is the default source for haters to refer to in trying to justify their critical attack against a film. Ha, you lose suckers!

I want to see Man of Steel again, it was that good! Rarely do I desire to watch a movie again but this was thoroughly entertaining, not a dull moment, or a lag within the film. Superhero movies are design to suspend reality. And based on some of the negative comments about the film, it appears that superhero films are now being held to a much higher standing, be it the quality of the acting, the set design, the usage of CGI, and a believable plot. To me, Man of Steel had met my standards in these criterias and I suggest to you to just ignore the exaggerated negative criticism, which again has an agenda behind them, and just enjoy this film for what it is; a great superhero story that was in desperate need of new blood and a beautiful actor whose own personal reserve elevates Superman to new levels of entertainment, and bring in a new audience. According to Deadline Hollywood and Box Office Mojo, Man of Steel is breaking June box office records and on its way to a least $150 million world-wide weekend (still has many markets to open up in , including China). Congrats to DC comics in finding the perfect new Superman in Henry Cavill!

Score: 9/10

Thursday, June 13, 2013

It's that TIFF time of year!

I had a great vacation to London and Paris, and I will write much more on it in the coming days. I experienced technical malfunctions with my NEW camera, and I'm hoping the images for my first five days are recovered. But anyway, I do have some photos and I will post those in the meanwhile.

However, the thing that gave birth to ToZ is approaching: It's TIFF time again! But this time, it will be a special occasion because it will be my 10th anniversary of going each year since 2003! I want this to be special and I'm making preparations to really dig in deep to provide great coverage and commentary and film reviews and celebrity sightings! If you like, I suggest you keep an eye on this thread at the newly renamed Awards Watch (it was a forum of Awards Daily, but drama prompted the move). A lot of very cool people who are massive TIFF lovers will be posting the latest news there, including me.

This year's Toronto International Film Festival is September 5-15th, and ticket packages go on sale soon!