Sunday, December 30, 2007

Screen Actors Guild New Website

Screen Actors Guild launched their "New and Improved" website today. It's definitely more user friendly and more intuitive so that visitors to the site can find things easily and not get lost among the many levels, not to mention many tiresome mouse clicks.

Best of all, the main page of the website featured many of my photos I took for the Guild through the years. :-) Yay Me! Please click here to view their website.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Movie Review: "Sweeny Todd"

After leaving the Ritz Carlton (Pasadena), which by the way soon to be the Langham Hotel, Lan and I decided to go watch "Sweeny Todd". I'm a sucka for musicals and I remember when I was a young pup in NYC, I wanted to go watch the Broadway version of this movie. I was vastly intriqued with a demon barber cutting up people and then to dispose of these which he deemd evil people to his friend and accomplice to make shepherd pies. What a gruesome concept! Unfortunately, I was too young to go by myself, and none of my friends back then care to watch a Broadway musical. So, 3 decades later, I didn't want to miss this opportunity and wait for the DVD/Blu-ray version.

Lan is a great sport. Despite her lack of interest to musicals and distaste for bloody horror flicks, she agreed to accompany me. The storyline is great, but no surprise to me since I already know the storyline years in advance. However, the performance by Johnny Depp, both acting and singing, far surpass my expectations. Not to mention, Helena Bonham Carter's portrayal of Mrs. Lovett was superb... she has a beautiful voice as well.

This is Johnny Depp's best performance showing all his talents in one single movie performance. I would be surprised if he doesn't get a nomination for an Oscar in Feb 2008. We gave it a big 2 thumbs up. Don't miss this movie! And if you did, make sure you at least rent the movie in the coming months.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Movie Review: "National Treasures - Book of Secrets"

Well, it's Christmas Day, since all the stores are closed, we really had nothing to do other than watch a movie. I've been anticipating "National Treasure 2 (the sequel to the first one), The Book of Secrets" for about a month now. It came out last weekend, but I was just inundated with so much work from SAG and Tiamo Photography, LLC. I haven't had a chance to see this movie. So Lan and I, along with her brother Thanh ventured to the movie theaters today knowing fully that it would be a mad house.

While this movie will probably not be nominated for any categories in the Golden Globe Awards , SAG Awards, nor the Academy Awards, it was an exceptionally entertaining movie. Usually, sequels can't live up to the original movie because of the exceptionally high expectation of the viewers, this movie did just fantastic.

The lead character Ben Gates played by Nicolas Cage, and Abigail Chase played by Diane Kruger (of Troy as Helen) was sparked an intriguing hook to the audience as this time, they are separated and Ben Gates had to move out of his lavish multi-million dollar estate. The ever witty Riley Poole played by Justin Bartha kept me laughing and fully engaged into the storyline of the movie. Jon Voight who portrayed Patrick Gates joined by his movie wife, Dr. Emily Appleton, portrayed by multi-Oscar winning actress Helen Mirren, added to the original movie with a new storyline that alleviates some of the intensity of the movie. I guess that's how they turn a simple movie plot and turn it into a 2 hour + movie. I guess I'm just a "sucka" for a treasure hunting movie, and the intertwine of history and fictional characters just sucked me right in. Yes, I liked "The DaVinci Code" as well.

This is a 2 thumbs up movie for me and Lan. Don't miss this movie and keep your eyes peeled for the Blu-Ray disc of this movie.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Conversations with the cast of Heroes

SAG Foundation hosted the "Conversations with the cast of Heroes" this afternoon. Among the thirteen regular cast member, Masi Oka who portrays Hiro Nakamura was there. I was fortunate enough to bump into him after the event. Here's a picture of him with me.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Corporate Portrait: Proudfoot & Quach LLP

Tonight I photographed Lan and her business partner Don Proudfoot for their corporate portrait session. Don has been a litigator for the past 40 years. He's a fantastic lawyer with many years of experience as a trial lawyer. Combined with Lan's tenacious style and detail oriented thoroughness, they make a fantastic team. They recently left their law firm to form Proudfoot and Quach LLP. They are located in Pasadena. Visit their website to contact them.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Beowulf - 3D

I went to see a late show tonight with Lan at the Edwards on Main Street. It's the 3D version of the critically acclaimed animated Tale of Beowulf. It's a fantasy set in 5th Century Denmark. The main character Beowulf (Ray Winstone) must defeat Grendel (Crispin Glover), a monster to say the least, who's been terrorizing a nearby Kingdom ruled by Hrothgar (Sir Anthony Hopkins). It's your average Love, Infidelity, Seduction, and Action movie. It has all the elements of a boxoffice hit. Plus... it's an animation with life-like characters. Not only the voices of these great actors brought these characters to life on screen, the animation is phenomenal. It's by far better than say "Final Fantasy" animation because Robert Zemeckis and his DP (Director of Photography) turned this animation into a movie epic with artistic camera angles. During the fight scenes, Zemeckis utilized many creative camera angles through high tech CGI brought this movie to a new level in animation.

To boot, we paid an additional $2 for the 3D version. We have not seen a 3D movie in a long while and they really improved on the glasses. We both wear glasses, and these 3D glasses sit comfortably on top of our regular glasses for 2 hours. I really think the extra $2 was worth the extra money for this movie. It really brought this very well made animation to life. Lan and I gave this a big 2 thumbs up!

Friday, December 07, 2007

Attack of the Pearl Harbor - 66 Years Ago Today

Sixty-Six years ago today, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Here's a really good website recollecting the series of events of that day. The History Place. The picture above is the memorial of the USS Arizona which was sunk on that day.

I remember watching a movie called "Tora Tora Tora!" when I was young. What an epic movie. That's when my Dad explained to me the history of the attack of the Pearl Harbor. I was intriqued at the time because of the violent relentless surprise attack on a early Sunday morning. No one was prepared for this attack, in fact, most everyone was at Sunday worship. I was trying really hard to understand war with my naive childlike mind and couldn't grasp the thinking behind such brutal attack. Kamikaze pilots would actually crash into their target rather than bail and survive a crash just so that it can create a bigger impact on the attack. I thought to myself, why would anyone hate another so much as to terminate oneself than to survive and preserve another life? I wasn't sure I was impressed with their persistent and focused attack without regard for their own preservation, or was I just dumbfounded at the way adults rationalize brutality and violence not to mention attack of civilians and enemies that had no way of defending themselves. Where was the nobility of being a soldier and wagering war against your enemy?

To this day, I still don't understand war. Why would anyone opt to take a lose-lose situation vs. a win-win situation for all parties? Negotiation? Communication? Senseless death? Perhaps, I value my life... all lives very much. Perhaps, I will never understand war, killing one another and for what purpose?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Charles Durning - SAG Lifetime Achievement Award

Charles Durning will be receiving Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement Award on January 27, 2008. He paid us a visit today and was interviewed by our SAG President Alan Rosenberg.

I remember watching Charles Durning as a kid and my most memorable movies with Charles Durning are "Best Little Whorehouse in Texas", "Tootsie", Scarface", and "The Hudsucker Proxy". I'm a fan of his work. He was so funny when he was chasing Dustin Hoffman around the room in Tootsie. He's also an excellent singer and dancer and received 2 Tony Awards for his musical performance on stage.

He spoke of many things during the interview and quite a jovial guy with a great sense of humor. He’s actually a Silver Star recipient during WWII. At a poignant moment, he was a little choked up when he spoke of having to kill during the war and later captured twice as prisoner of war. He was actually injured but he joined his troop on the day of Battle of the Bulge. What an interesting man.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

New Wacom Cintiqs!

I posted several times in the past that I use and LOVE my Cintiq 21UX monitor/pen tablet for my digital imaging and graphic design work. The ability for me to draw directly on the screen speeds up my workflow and provide infinite control of pen pressure rather than from my wacom pen tablet.

Today, Wacom launched not 1, but 2 new Cintiqs... 20WSX (wide screen) at $2000 and the portable 12WX at$1000. The 12WX would be a handy tablet to pack into my laptop bag when traveling, on location shoots, or to a client's house for sales presentation and image adjustment/enhancement. This would be a great Christmas gift under the tree for your special someone. :-)

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Navigon 2100 GPS

I got up early this morning to get to Staples and purchased the Navigon 2100 GPS. $149.95 This unit is listed $199 everywhere else. I've been looking for a GPS unit for my Dad for some time now. He's reluctant to drive and afraid to get lost at night because he's in his 70's now and his sense of direction and eyesights is not so good now. This way, he can drive my Mom to more places rather than cooped up in the house all the time. I thought it would make a great Christmas gift as it is very difficult to come up with new ideas and useful gifts for him year after year.

I tested the Navigon and I really love their 3D Reality view on a 3.5 inch display. It clearly shows which lane you should be if you want to exit to the correct freeway interchange. It's particularly confusing here in LA freeways and really useful feature to avoid missing an exit because you're in the wrong lane. Their text to speech of street names and exits is pretty accurate and it would be great for my Dad so that he doesn't have to constantly look at the display to navigate to where he wants to go.

Whenever, I slow down and come to a stop, it displays all gas stations, and restaurants in the vicinity. Some restaurants displays with their logo such as McDonalds and Starbucks coffee. Chevron logo is also displayed for their gas stations.

The only drawback is that it's only a 3.5 inch display, and it comes with only a care charger. You'll have to pay another $20 for an adapter to charge it indoor with a household electrical outlet.

All in all, I'm very satisfied with the Navigon 2100 because it's feature packed for it's price. There aren't any other GPS on the market at $150 can produce the same amount of quality display and information

Saturday, December 01, 2007

HKSAF Christmas Ball 2007

Hong Kong Schools Alumni Federation hosted their annual fund raising Christmas Ball tonight at the brand new San Gabriel Hilton Hotel. I was invited to photograph the event. Since this is a fund raiser and for a good cause, I volunteered my service for this event.

HKSAF is a non-profit organization consists of various alumni schools and organizations in Southern California. Their main effort every year at the Christmas Ball is to raise scholarship funds for needy students in Hong Kong to study abroad. Everyone usually have a great time at the ball getting dressed up and meeting old and new friends.

This year, HKSAF invited (hired) Sum Sum, and Ban Ban (sisters) to perform and entertain the crowd. When I was just a little kid in Hong Kong, I used to watch Sum Sum every night. She used to do an evening variety show called "Enjoy Yourself Tonight". She also used to do a TV commercial for TV Guide stating it sells for only "$0.30". Everyone used to imitate her. Wow, that was almost 40 years ago. (shuddup, I know I'm dating myself) Here are some of the highlight photos of the evening plus some personal ones with Lan and her mom.

If you're an alumni from Hong Kong, please visit HKSAF for more information regarding membership application. They also welcome any amount of donation regardless you're an alumni from Hong Kong or not.

APS 1300VA UPS Battery Backup System

After purchasing the Apple Mac Pro for the past month, and loving it so much. I've been spending sleepless nights (ok, I'm kidding... in reality, I have an "off" switch on the back of my head. When it hits the pillow, I'm out) thinking about in the event of a bad electric spike, it can seriously damage my baby. Not to mention, if I run into a blackout during upcoming Summer months, I can lose my files to data corruption, and lose my work which I may have worked on for many hours.

The solution is to get a UPS (Interruptible Power Supply) made by APC. Belkin makes several reputable model as well. However, I'm old school with APC from the years of working as a network administrator which we employ APC UPS to power backup network servers.

Circuit City had a great deal this weekend with the APC 1300 VA Battery Backup System with LCD Display. The voltage capacity is very important when considering a UPS because depending on the number of device, computer, monitor and peripherals such as external hard drives and external DVD burners, it might be too much of a strain on a more anemic version. 1300 volts protection is just about right because it's affordable yet it can protect all the devices I mention above. It's rated up to 136 minutes of power backup which is ample time for me to save my files and turn off my computer, or enough time for power to recover. Plus, it conditions electric current coming out of the wall to my computer power supply and avoid too high of a spike which can permanently damage my baby. This model has a LCD display which show the status of the electric current and the load it's taking on. As a curiosity, I noticed that the electric current fluctuates from 119 volts to 122 volts throughout the day. It has 8 outlets. 6 of which is battery backup for devices such as monitors, computer, external hard drives. And 2 outlets not backup for devices such as printers, speakers, DVD burners, etc.

Now with APC 1300 VA running 24/7... I can now sleep soundly. ;-)

Bought it at Circuit City $129.95 - $15.00 Coupon discount = $125.00

Just a quick update on 12/9, Circuit City is selling it for $119. I guess I'll make a quick stop to CC and get my $10 + Tax back since it's within 30 days price match period.