Monday, August 31, 2009

Welcome Week

The annual arrival of NYU's "Welcome Week" and this subsequent post about it means that I have reached an entirely new level of pathetic.

Welcome Week was something that was always somewhat of a sign of hope of a promising year for me through the past four years. Despite the fact that I barely participated in any of the activities it signaled a start of a another year at an institution I was in love with, a return of friends scattered across the world I hadn't seen all summer for another year and it was a signal for my return to Manhattan, a place that spelled freedom, home and direction all at once for me.

This year was going to be different because this year Welcome Week was not being held for me, meaning no new exciting year with professors and classes at the institution I had fell in love with, no return of friends scattered across the globe and no return to Manhattan, or for that matter, New York City. The real world, no matter how much I tried, could not be held off any longer. This year, like always, the start of Welcome Week signified the start of a new year, a year in which I was jobless, cut off from friends and directionless.

I had woken up this morning at 9AM with the full intention of getting onto the train and into the city to edit my film and maybe see some faces. However, upon waking at the scheduled time I just couldn't bring myself to get out of bed and go to a place that I no longer felt I belonged so I stayed in bed. At first I put up an admirable fight, telling myself that I would get up and take a later train in but I was doing nothing but lying to myself, I didn't have the will power to bring myself to my beloved estranged university.

The past week had been miserable, I had only managed to get myself up to go to Jury Duty (which I ended up sleeping during when I wasn't called into a courtroom, and even then I came awfully close) on Tuesday and then to my internship on Thursday (where I sat around and did nothing until the end of the day when I had to go and drop a package off uptown. Despite the fact that I had kept telling myself to write I ended up waking up well past 12PM each day, actually, more accurately, past 2PM each day and spending all my time beating "Star Wars Force Unleashed" for the third time and watching "How I Met Your Mother," which I had already watched. Additionally I'm sure there were moments of near yelling at the computer monitor as Ted did yet another stupid thing related to his love life. It wasn't pretty. As I said; pathetic.

For the past 3 months there has been a huge struggle for me to do just about anything. Despite all my big talks while I was in school about how you need to discipline yourself and work on your own projects no matter what you're doing I was unable to get myself to do anything all summer. I was unable to complete something even as simple as a page a day on my screenplay despite the fact that I had so much free time, I felt like a failure.

The worst part of it all was I knew I was making all the wrong moves, choosing the bad choices and taking that step that would ultimately lead me down that slippery slope. Eventually it got so bad that I couldn't even get myself out of bed. I think that's what giving up feels like; giving up is the worst feeling in the world. It's similar to the feeling of powerlessness you feel when events spiral beyond your control only its worse because at least then you know you've done all you could possibly have done but in this case you don't have anything because there's still more you can do; you're just not doing it.

I hope that is what giving up felt like because that would mean that I hit rock bottom and that the only place to go is up. However, whether its rock bottom or not isn't significant because ultimately it's up to me to fight my way back up otherwise the only place I'm going is where I've been for the past week.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Browsing other Blogs

So as I was browsing other people's blogs, more specifically Keith Lango's blog, a blog introduced to me by a friend of mine who was a senior at NYU when I was a freshmen; Stewart Shaw, I came upon some really good stuff, one of which is this below:

selected animated scenes from Beauty and the Beast in their early stages.

This video has reminded me just how much there is to learn from old-school Disney. It also makes me say wow a little bit because occasionally I get to hear Robby talk about what it was like to be the voice of the beast.

As someone that knows next to no computer animation, any sort of animation I do/have done (with the exception of the bit that I had done for assignments in intro to 3-D) is hand drawn, yet at the same time I have never really gotten past the rough stage of animating to the clean-up and coloring and I would really like to get to there at some point, so I guess it's time for me to start thinking up ideas that I can animate and following through on them. Seeing this video on the Beauty and the Beast is very intimidating yet I'm still motivated by another thing I found on his blog:

I found this post on Bill Plympton and was especially motivated by the note he made for himself:

"(note to self: never accept what somebody else defines as 'impossible'),".

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Jury Duty Pt. 2


MATTHEW, 22, exits the juror waiting area and lines up outside by the receptionist's counter. His i.d. tag that says "Juror" on it is pinned over the "internet" wording on his shirt, making it read "Juror Predator". The receptionist babbles on about being a juror and thanking the members standing there for being present as though they had a choice in the matter.

Matthew isn't listening to a word she's saying, he's too busy looking around him at the faces of those surrounding him, none of them look happy about being there.

The line begins to move and crowd of people walk through brightly lit hallways and stairwells down to the basement where they are taken to a long sloping corridor. It is as if they are being taken to the pits of hell, or somewhere dark and spooky, like the mansions horror films frequently use.

The group comes to a stop as the come through the sloping corridor and to the foot of two elevators. Little by little, about four or five at a time, each potential juror piles into the elevator and take it to the fourth floor. Stepping out, Matthew is surprised by his surroundings. It was as though they went through some journey, leaving hell and entering heaven, or something that someone might use to represent heaven.

Around him stand great marble pillars that reach to the arching sky-blue, richly ornamented ceiling. In the center of the hallway that they all stand in is a great marble staircase which appears to spiral back down to hell as a great hole in the center of the rectangular lobby reveals us the floors below.

Large, heavy wooden doors guard several entrances to the courtrooms. The group comes to a stop in front of one. The officer leading the group pauses to distribute pencils and paper to the potential jurors. She explains some things that Matthew doesn't really listen to and opens the door for everyone to enter.

The crowd of 20 or 30 people file into wooden benches facing the judge and they all sit quietly. The judge makes a speech about being a juror and the responsibility of the juror that MATTHEW doesn't really listen to and then signals for chosen jurors from the previous day to come in.

One by one additional potential jurors are called up to side bar to discuss what they have circled on their papers and then put in the juror's seat and then dismissed. Finally, after 30 or more minutes of waiting, Matthew is called to sidebar.

---Sidebar Conversation Omitted For Legal Reasons---

Matthew takes his seat as Juror number 8 and the judge asks him some questions.

Please state your name and town
you're from

Matthew Chao, Bloomfield

Are you working now?

(thinking about his internship)
Not really

Does anyone else in your
household work?

My mom and dad

What do they do?

They're both computer programmers.

What do you do in your spare time?

Now? Look for work.

He gets a laugh out of the crowd of potential jurors

Matthew (Con't)
I also like to write, draw... sleep

He gets a bigger laugh out of everyone in the room.

Ok, do you think people in this country
sue too much, not enough?

Sometimes too much, although I think
we're getting a little better about that.

Will that influence your decision in this

I don't believe so

Matthew kicks himself mentally.

Ok, thank you.

The judge calls the next person up to sidebar to speak with them and legal counsel again.

Matthew (v.o.)
Shit! Why'd I say that? That
was just stupid. I should have
said "yes, it will." dumbass!

The judge dismisses the man at sidebar and legal counsel both take their respective seats and talk.


Prosecuting counsel stands up and looks over at the jury.

Prosecuting Counsel
At this time we'd like to dismiss
juror number 8.

Matthew V.O.

Thank you for your participation,
please return to the holding area.

Matthew is already halfway out the door of the courtroom before the Judge finishes, he can hardly contain his excitement.

End (more or less)

Jury Duty


A silver 2003 Honda Accord cruises at a leisurely pace down the street. It slows down to make a turn and is honked at by the car behind it.


MATTHEW, 22, dressed in a Cowboy hat and a shirt that says "Internet Predator" on it, looks around confused; there doesn't appear to be any signs that say no turning. He continues onto the next street and begins to turn there.


The car from earlier follows him and honks at him again.


Matt ignores the car behind him and continues driving at his leisurely pace. The car behind him honks at him again, clearly wanting him to go faster. By this time Matt is fed up with him so he flips him off and slows down, bringing the car to a nice 15mph. The car behind him starts honking more but Matt keeps at his own speed. Eventually they pass a light and the car behind him pulls into the lane next to him. As the car next to him pulls away he honks at Matt. Matt just shrugs and smiles.


The silver Honda Accord pulls into a parking lot. Matt reaches out the window and grabs a ticket as he enters. He pulls the car up to the second level and parks where he has a good view and exits the car.


Matthew picks up his things from the end of the security check-in and walks up the stairs and into the juror's waiting area and gets on line. As he stands on the back of the line a tall man with a light mustache and stubby beard as well as a buzzed head stares at Matt. Matt figures it's probably because of the cowboy hat, until he gets a closer look at the man looking at him and he figures out why he's staring at him.

Hey George!

GEORGE, 22, is an old friend of Matthew's dating back to their time in first grade. He was best known for his large afro as well as his amazing piano and other musical skills.

Matt Chao! Wow, that's amazing.
Wait, let me call my dad and tell him.

George pulls out his cell phone, flips it open and dials home.

George (Con't)
(Over the phone)
Hey Dad. Yea, I'm in the courthouse now.
Guess who's waiting behind me?
Matt Chao.
hahaha, ok, love you. Bye dad.

George hangs up the phone and turns to Matthew

George (Con't)
He said that's like the draft. You
run into people you know on line.

There's more, I just don't have the energy to write it all right now so maybe later.
Anyway, yes, I did wear all that to jury duty, here's a picture of the shirt and hat.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Visting Mr. Holtzman


MATTHEW, 22, stands by the doorway facing MR. HOLTZMAN, a santa-like 66 year old retired teacher. JOYCE, 22, MIKE, 22, and DEE, 21, make their way outside under the porch of a three floor house that very much resembles a tree house. The smell of nature and trees is exemplified as the pouring rain pitter-patters off the trees of the surrounding forest.

Matthew and Mr. Holtzman hug before Matthew makes his exit. The discussions held only moments ago resonate deeply in each of their minds. The degredation of their old school district as well as the nation's education system remain meaningful because so much of it was the foundation for their relationships, the chain that linked them all together.

Matthew puts on his cowboy hat and prepares to go.

Mr. Holtzman
Which way are you facing? This way?
(pointing to his left)
or that way?
(pointing to his right)

(Thinking for a moment)
That way.
(pointing to the right)
I'm facing your trash cans.

Mr. Holtzman
(Pointing out of his doorway)
You can back into that clearing there and
turn around. On your way out take a look
at my bumper sticker.

Mr. Holtzman smiles and pats Matt on the back.

Thanks. I will. Next time you're in
Bloomfield give us a call.

Yea, we'll go to Nevadas or something.

Mr. Holtzman
Sounds like a good idea.

The four of them walk out from under the porch, waving goodby to Mr. Holtzman. Matthew takes out his car key and unlocks the car remotely, doing the same with the trunk. Joyce runs over and drops Apples to Apples in the trunk as everyone else hops in the car.

Matthew starts the engine and heads down the road. As they pass Mr. Holtzman's Jeep Cherokee they pause and look behind them. On the back of the car is a bumper sticker that reads "God, please save me from your followers". Matthew shakes his head and laughs.

Mr. Holtzman's awesome.

Matthew faces forward and takes his foot off the break. The car begins to move from its place in the road and continues on into the distance.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Summer Night Semi-venture

Nothing exciting has really been happening to me lately, which, of course, is unfortunate, but also means that I need to write about the nothing that's been going on recently.

I had dinner with Ming Hu today, who, after working on Tahir Jetter's and Nyle Emerson's latest music video "F.a.N.G." has become rather interested in conceptualizing and directing his own music video for Nyle.

Over dinner we discussed a few ideas and other ideas he hopes to direct as well as storytelling in a short form, of which, we share rather different views. I told him, in any case, that if he wants to make anything I'd be down to help out in any way I can.

After finishing up dinner and heading our own ways I rushed to Hoboken to catch a train that would take me to Newark Broad St. so I could wait for another train to take me home. Recently I've been able to get myself to write a little more, which is nice even though I still feel really unproductive, especially after the weekly writing group Nick holds at Cafe Dante's, which has been expressed here multiple times. Additionally, the fact that nothing exciting seems to be happening seems to be reflected here as well as my posts have become less story-like and more random recountings of miscellaneous events as well as things that seem to pop into my mind so I will now attempt to make this blog more interesting.

I raced to the Path Train Station as quickly as I dared to walk. The humidity outside felt like a mask pressed over my face, making the heavy a little more difficult to breath. Sweat collected like a shallow stream over my face from the combined heat and humidity. Suddenly I remembered Arizona and missed the weather there, at least it was a dry heat there.

Reaching the Path Train I check the time-table and curse silently as I realize that I missed the train that would keep me on time by about 5 minutes and the next Path Train would make me miss my desired train home by one minute. Also, it's even hotter and muggier on the underground platform than it was above ground.

When the Path finally arrives I feel as though I can wring sweat out of my headband, that is, of course, if I were wearing a head band, which I wasn't nor do I ever so there weren't any chances of that happening. I welcome the blast of cold air conditioning inside the train car and try to enjoy the ride to Hoboken.

I arrive in Hoboken a minute too late, as was predicted by the timetable in the Path station on 9th St. I pull out the train schedule I leave in my bag to take a look at the next train I can take and realize that the 11:40 train I was going for never stopped in Hoboken anyway and my rush was for no reason. Drained of energy I take a seat inside the waiting room, which is just as hot and disgusting as everywhere else. I need to wait an hour for my train to come, an hour I'm not looking forward to having to sit through, but I make the most of it by trying to optimize my time, I pull out my beaten and battered legal pad and work on my script, trying to get into my character's heads and muster up the will power to actually put into words what my mind pictures them doing.

The train arrives and I board it, once again thankful for the cool air conditioning, which is only enhanced by the sweat generated from waiting in the heat for the past hour. I slouch down in my seat, partly because I hope that at 12:30AM the train conductor won't be that thorough and will pass by me without collecting my ticket but mainly because It's comfortable and gives the purpose of holding up my legal pad in a position where I can write comfortably. Three pages later I give into my tiredness and take a nap, waking up in time to get out at my stop at Newark Broad St. I have to wait for my transfer to take me home to Bloomfield so I just sit.

The next train arrives and I think it's quite a curious train since it's a double decker and double decker trains never go to Bloomfield, but it's about the time for my connecting train to come anyway so I get on board and take off. As the train starts moving a voice comes over the intercom and says "next stop, East Orange".

"Wait, that's not right, the next stop should be Watsessing Ave."

I check my watch and see that the train I'm on is departing two minutes early.

"Really? these trains are TWO MINUTES apart? There are two trains that stop at Newark Broad St. at this time of night and they're two minutes apart? Whoever made this schedule sucks at his/her job,".

I call my brother to let him know I got on the wrong train. I don't need to see his face to know what it looks like; I've seen it plenty of times in my life. The conversation is relatively predictable, it goes something along the lines of

"(sighing) where's the next stop?"

"East Orange"

"That's real helpful"

"It says 'next stop East Orange,' its East Orange Station"

"I have no idea where that is. Let me look it up"


"Pay attention to what you're doing"

I arrive at East Orange Train Station and learn there are no other trains going either way so my only option is to rely on my brother to pick me up. Eventually he finds the location and heads over. Meanwhile I wander around the station and discover a really cool location, one that I would love to shoot Nyle's next music video at, but I guess we'll see about that.

(Obviously I make it home in one piece)

I took some pictures on my phone (I still do think camera phones are crappy in quality, but this one will get the job done in reminding me about a place or whatever). We'll see if I can get them off my phone and onto my computer and then I'll post them. I need to get a data cable though.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Self reinvention but really rediscovery

I just got through watching seasons one and two of The Guild, which, if you have not seen yet, you should. (Thanks Joyce for giving me a good excuse to remain unproductive for another night.) The writer for this series is Felicia Day, who also stars in the series. I learned about this web series initially after watching Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog but I never watched it until tonight and it's brilliant.

One thing that makes this web series so amazing is that Felicia Day actually is a gamer; she's a WoW fiend as well as a professional level violinist.

Upon discovery of these facts tonight I was reminded of something my good friend Matt Troy once told me Freshmen year: "you make what you know,". While making what you know is something that can be stretched and reconfigured into different shapes, I think about what I've been doing.

Recently I've hit a dry spell. Excuses upon excuses pile up as I sit on scripts that have yet to be completed and projects that are yet to be completely edited. I wonder frequently if I'm any good at what I spent the past four years of my life studying and I've come to the conclusion that I'm pretty talentless.

I remember a conversation with my friend Ming Hu. We were discussing people with talent vs. people that work hard and categorizing different people we know into those respective areas, a very small number (one or two) fell into both categories. Ming and I both agreed that we are both people that are the product of hard work, which is difficult to fully come to terms with because there is an acceptance that people with talent will always seem to be a step ahead of you.

However, tonight I sat and thought about people with talent verses people I perceive to have talent and I believe that I have been able to distinguish those whom really have a lot of talent verses those who just stick to what they know and make that work, using their genius in their respective areas to give them the boost they need to bridge the gap that I seem unable to cross myself.

Felicia Day has created a wonderful series starting with a premise she knows very well and making it her own. There are multiple talents mingling together there that, when combined, makes an amazing and terribly entertaining product.

I wonder what I know. After flooding myself with craft and technique for four years at NYU I still have yet to discover a distinctive style, and I honestly don't want to. (I hate specializing because I hate the idea of having to say I don't do something or being told I can't do something.) However, art mimics life, not the other way around and while I hate to put it this way, but film making, in many rights, is an art, and in order for me to fully master it I need a life for it to emulate.

This is where my self reinvention takes place. I guess self reinvention is off, it's more of a self rediscovery. The life I abandoned four years ago is something that needs to be retrieved and reintegrated. Now I just need to figure out what I like doing and go do it.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

People, Politics and Obama

Today I saw Air Force One.

My parents, grandma and myself got on the bus to Terminal 2 after returning our sedan to the Hertz rental company. The bus driver informed us that we were being delayed because the president was coming back from the Grand Canyon so the airport was locked up for security reasons.

The first think I heard from my mom was "what a jerk, what's he doing here?" Now, you have to know my mom to understand this statement. This statement is nothing close to political, in fact, it is a lot more selfish than that. This statement actually translates into, "dammit, I don't wanna have to wait here," of which, I call her out on and say "the only reason you're saying that is because it's inconveniencing you ," all of which, I might add, for an additional 10 minutes. Really, we don't need to be anywhere 10 minutes faster than we are currently already traveling.

Aside from her I hear another few grumbles about the delay and figure it's the same thing as my mom. However, there is one woman that takes it further and questions how he's reforming health care by going to the Grand Canyon and brings up some point that we're paying for his little vacation and "what's he doing?"

I'm not a political person. I, actually, am the least politically versed member of all my friends; but for one thing, this was why our president was in the area and while he was here he took a trip to the Grand Canyon with his family. I just wonder why, though, we spend so much time carefully scrutinizing every move President Obama makes in his personal life. It's not even as if he's doing anything scandalous like former president Clinton. Have we been a nation so engrossed by gossip that it has moved beyond our Hollywood stars and begun intermingling with our politics?

I digress. What really annoys me, more than this woman ignorantly yelling her political views on health reform or the continual decline of our nations' news venues to the point where they've all become mere gossip rags, is the general attitude.

I feel old or ignorant in saying this; but I seem to remember a time when people were excited when their president was within a 5 mile radius of them. I feel as though our nation has been engulfed by some sort of cynicism and I'm bothered by it. I'd like to think that even when George W. Bush was president, if he was in the area, I would have been at least remotely excited by the fact that the president of my country was around.

Part of this also brings me back to graduation when I heard that a college had President Obama as a speaker for their commencement ceremony but a lot of people protested because he was pro choice. (My response to which was "well shit, fuck you guys then, we'll take him,".)

Honestly, he's the president, can't we just have a little respect?

As we pass Air Force One the bus driver points it out and everyone, especially the ones grumbling before whip out their cameras and start clicking away (with the exception of my mother, she actually doesn't care about anything.)

I speak to my brother about it upon my arrival back home and he reminds me of something I should have known already; "people just like to complain,".

Anyway, here's a picture that my dad took. It's not great but you can see the plane in the back.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Arizona Overview

Two weeks ago I thought about an upcoming trip to Arizona with just my parents and my grandma and I cringed. A week in the middle of the desert with parental units? Sounds horrible; a week full of nagging, boredom and ruined moments as I'm forced to "appreciate" the beautiful nature around me.

Tonight is my last night in Arizona and I can't say I had a bad time. I've found myself rolling my eyes a lot but at the same time I've managed to find moments to myself to appreciate my surroundings. I was also probably too busy working on producing F.a.N.G. over the phone (and internet) to really be annoyed.

All in all I had a good time and got to see some beautiful sights as well as spend a lot of time in a car driving from town to town. I have to rate Arizona pretty positively (aside from their love of the traffic circle, those I just don't quite understand their obsession with). Arizona is definately a nice break from the fast-paced environment of Manhattan.

The music video seems to be going alright as well. Not quite smoothly (actually, a lot of hiccups), but it's going, which is good to hear. We'll see how everything turns out tomorrow.

Additionally, I now have a cowboy hat.

Here are some more pictures I've taken.

Montezuma's Castle --
After a while all these Sinagua houses begin to look the same, this one is just different because it's high up in the side of a mountain.

They were clearly preparead for my coming:

Prickly Pears and their fruits (the purple budding thing) are edible apparently:

Thursday, August 13, 2009

On Reading

So I recently came across a book list on a friend's Live Journal (which she hasn't updated since September 2008) listing 100 books with the statement that the average adult has only read six of the books/series' on that list. I, myself, have counted 15 books on the list that I have read (leaving out the abridged illustrated classic versions) and recognize a good deal of them that I have started but never finished, Lord of the Rings and Dracula to name a few.

From this I realized that I have not read for pleasure in quite a while. Even as I read Terry Pratchett'shilariously entertainingly satirical books The Color of Magic and The Light Fantastic I found it difficult to focus. No, that's not true, I found it quite easy focusing and visualizing an image while reading those books. However, that was little over a year ago. I have not read a book for pleasure in a year, which is sad because so much of my youth was comprised of reading since I was not allowed to watch T.V. on a regular basis.

I think around the end of Middle School was the end of my regular enjoyment when it came to reading books. I don't know why or how but gradually I began putting down my books and finding entertainment elsewhere, which is sad because I think that a lot of my imagination stemmed, in a way, from reading and the way my mind would visualize what I was reading to the point where it was the equivalent to watching a movie. Then again, it might have actually been the start of college and my comic book frenzy that injured my ability to visualize what I read. Despite all of this I do actually enjoy reading. so why haven't I picked up a book in over a year? I can still visualize what I read. Have I just written it off as too much work when I'd rather be sleeping, drawing or attempting to write in my free time?

No matter the reason, I've decided that I need to read more.

Originally I wasn't planning on posting this but I changed my mind. Here's the book list:

The Big Read thinks the average adult has only read six of the top 100 books they've printed below.

01. Look at the list and bold those you have read.
02. Italicise those you intend to read
03. Underline the books you LOVE.
04. Reprint this list in your own LJ so we can try and track down these people who've only read 6 and force books upon them.

001 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
002 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
003 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
004 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
005 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
006 The Bible
007 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
008 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
009 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
010 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
011 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
012 Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
013 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
014 Complete Works of Shakespeare
015 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
016 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
017 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
018 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger (started it)
019 The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
020 Middlemarch - George Eliot
021 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
022 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
023 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
024 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
025 The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
026 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
027 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
028 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
029 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
030 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
031 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
032 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
033 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
034 Emma - Jane Austen
035 Persuasion - Jane Austen
036 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - C.S. Lewis
037 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
038 Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
039 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
040 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
041 Animal Farm - George Orwell
042 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
043 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
044 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
045 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
046 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
047 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
048 The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
049 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
050 Atonement - Ian McEwan
051 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
052 Dune - Frank Herbert
053 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
054 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
055 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
056 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
057 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
058 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
059 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
060 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
061 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
062 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
063 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
064 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
065 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
066 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
067 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
068 Bridget Jones' Diary - Helen Fielding
069 Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
070 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
071 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
072 Dracula - Bram Stoker
073 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
074 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
075 Ulysses - James Joyce
076 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
077 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
078 Germinal - Emile Zola
079 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
080 Possession - AS Byatt
081 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
082 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
083 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
084 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
085 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
086 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
087 Charlotte's Web - EB White
088 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
089 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
090 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
091 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
092 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
093 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
094 Watership Down - Richard Adams Cried like crazy.
095 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
096 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
097 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
098 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
099 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Arizona Pt. 2

Went on a crazy ride today, called the Pink Jeep Tour of Broken Arrow (the film was filmed here). It was a cool trip and the tour guide was pretty cool too.

Aside from that, nothing much else went on aside from the usual sight-seeing. More pictures here and maybe some from the Pink Jeep Tour later but for now here are some pictures from a sunset yesterday. It started storming but I wasn't fortunate enough to get a shot of a lightning bolt, how unfortunate. Maybe next time.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Arizona Pt. 1

"Hey, it's sweltering hot in New York/New Jersey. We should get away from all this heat. I know, lets go to a desert!"

Who's idea was that anyway?!!? (Apparently my mom's, but don't tell her I said that)

Well, I would have liked to have started my entry with "Greetings from Arizona!" but the begining that's there seemed a lot more entertaining so I went with that instead.

At any rate, I'm here in Arizona, more specifically, Sedona, having just finished up day 3, the latter half of the second day and the beginning half of this past day having been at the Grand Canyon (yes, I did climb some of it, camera in hand).

Overall, Arizona is a beautiful place, full of majestic landscape and bright breathtaking colors and heights. I'm not one for the long distances you have to travel to get from one place to another.

I, however, have not gotten any stroke of brilliance or inspiration or what have you to ignite the "artist inside,". There are no images that pop into my mind for me to draw and there are no words that appear and demand to be added to my more-or-less-still-where-it-was-3-months-ago screenplay that I've brought with me. That, has been frustrating.

Despite all this, however, I have discovered that I am still, in some capacity, a workaholic. After having been kept from the internet for two days and my phone being dead for the better part of one of those days, upon return to the Sedona hotel, which thankfully has wifi (although it cuts out randomly every now and then) I jumped on my laptop to see what e-mails I've been missing regarding this music video shoot that's coming up for Nyle, my former Junior year roommate and Freshmen year floor-mate, and I guess that guy that kept borrowing my clothes without asking me the duration of those two years.

I really hope, however, that something will come up soon in the more creative department of my brain because I really want this screenplay to be done.

Anyway, here are some pictures:

I climbed down from there.

and all the way across to that platform in the distance.

Here's just another picture. No, I didn't climb that, although that would have been fun.

More pictures to come. I got some nice ones at sunrise/sunset but I might be out of memory for now.

Oh wait, no I'm not, here are some more:

I guess more to come.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Another End

The first wave of students had just gone, leaving myself with two kids for the night. It was difficult and surreal knowing the end of yet another summer high school program had come. What was more surreal was how quickly the program moved after the end of the first week as well as the fact that there would not be any more summer programs for me after this. This was truly the end of my relationship with NYU.

Despite that, however, I did manage to ensure the enjoyment of my and other kids' final night. The major events, in a nutshell, was buying my kids beer with the other PA's, learning the photo kids got busted and then playing Super Smash Bro's with a kid named Woody. Eventually we started free-styling and, well, he's good but even after spending a semester living in tight quarters with a rapper, I am incapable of stringing rhymes together in a consistent beat. We also quoted "I'm the Juggernaut Bitch" while playing Super Smash Brothers.

Overall, I'm glad that the kids had a good time without getting caught. It makes me a little proud.

I don't know why, though, but my endings here never seem to go the way I want them to. Or, well, to be more accurate, they go great but what I go to seems to be rather hard. I guess that, also, is an inaccurate statement, it may just be that I've spent all of this summer postponing the inevitable; ending my college experience and moving home.

Family is a funny thing because they always manage to get you to hate them and love them at the same time.

I had waited until the morning to begin packing, as I always do. Generally it's a big mistake but this time it was okay because I didn't have a lot of stuff. Eventually the last of the kids left the program and I was left in an empty dorm. I was, for the most part, packed and ready to go, the first time I ever left the program on move-out date for the students. They tried to take my I.D. at the front desk so I had to explain to them that I am (was) a student of NYU and not a student of the program so I could still get into Tisch and edit my film.

At any rate, around 3PM my parents came to help me move home. I knew it was going to be bad when, even before I checked out of the dorm they started to bother me about stuff I had to do once I got home.

I wonder sometimes, though, if they have bad timing or I just have an extremely reduced amount of patience with them.

I finish up at my dorm and check out and get home, sadly leaving New York and sending a thank you/goodbye text to my fellow PA's and I come home to a group of overly sarcastic cousins. I think that it has a lot to do with perspective. It's always difficult coming home to my family because no matter what happens, they remain skeptical and confident that they know better.

I guess part of it is because, especially with the film/entertainment industry, there's so much behind the scenes of what happens that they just don't understand how things work. I think there's also a disconnect with them because work is just work for all of them, but for me, film making has become a sort of life for me, breeding a community and family of it's own, a family and community where, at least when connected with NYU, I feel like I can navigate it comfortably. Even without NYU I still feel like I can navigate these treacherous waters while only gaining a few cuts and bruises.

I guess you have to wake up from the dreams some time, but I guess that's when you try to find a way to turn them into reality.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Pillow Fights and Drawings


Over 100 students and program assistants (think camp counselors only in the city) gather outside the front steps of the residence hall clutching pillows. The one in charge of the entire program, RUDY RAMOS, an office dweller always dressed in a shirt pants and tie with slicked back hair stands in front of everyone making an announcement.

What we are about to do is in celebration of the
end of this program. It is also highly illegal, but
that's not gonna stop us is it?


Cheers emit from the crowd, several members raise their pillows in the air triumphantly.

Ok, so we can't converge in the park or we'll
get arrested.

The crowd starts to moan.

BUT! But, we're going to go over to Washington
Place right around the corner and do this right in
the middle of the street!

The crowd cheers again. They're all anxious.

Alright! So we're gonna head over and when I say go,
and only when I say go, we'll start!

The crowd erupts in cheers yet again and begins to follow Rudy down the street to the location. MATT, 22, holds his pillow with an excited grin on his face. He turns to NATALIE, 21, a fellow PA who stands next to him and smiles a wide and devious smile.

You're excited.

Matt nods his head in assent.


A blond drama queen in a pink zip-up hoodie from the Drama department starts laughing flamboyantly and causes a commotion around him.

(practicing swinging his pillow)
He's first

(eyes lighting up)

There's more to this but maybe next time. It gets kinda long. However, it does involve me catching pillows swung at me and just beating the owner of said caught pillow relentlessly with my own. It was a glorious 4 minutes of unadulterated pillow bashing before the cops came and we ran back to the dorm.

Aside from all that I have a picture to post that I just did. I've had this image in my mind for a few days and, of course, it looks so much cooler in my mind than on paper, but I guess I'm getting a little better.

I guess I aspire to be him; a *puppet master, the mind behind the plans working from the shadows to get everything done. It's quite difficult now because more often than not I feel more like one of the puppets in his hands.

*I guess the aspiration has something to do with a power trip of some sort. I hope that should the leadership role ever be placed in my hands I would handle it well, but I guess the only way of telling with that is seeing if it happens.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Late Night Musings


MATT sits cross-legged on his chair mindlessly stuffing sugary cereal in his mouth. Sugar won't get him drunk, which is kind of unfortunate because part of him wishes that he was. Nothing seems to be immediately within reach to take the edge off and the cereal isn't doing anything but make his hands sticky so he stuffs the bag back into the box and puts it back on the shelf.

Hip hop music plays as he stares blankly off. The music is off his friend's album, a friend he hasn't spent any real time with in a year and a half and whose music video Matt was co-producing. The music acts as a nastolgic trigger, trapping him in his thoughts of college life. He longs for it even though he knows he needs to move onto bigger and better things.

It's late. The time at the bottom of his computer moniter shows 2:40AM. He shouldn't be up this late, he know's it's a bad thing because of experience. Staying up late always manages to have a negative effect on him, making him much more depressed than he actually is or has any right to be. He should know better but some invisible force is bolting him to his seat as it always does.

The little voice in the back of his mind screams at him to get up and go to sleep but his body won't comply. He continues wasting time sifting through "facebook" and the past memories that both the music and old pictures manage to conjure up. It's a bad combination and he should know better.

The music comes to an end and he seems to snap out of it a little. Slowly he gets out of his seat and makes his way reluctantly to the bathroom. He's not completely better yet, but maybe washing the sticky sugar off his hands would be a good start.

Another Day at Work

I guess it can be gathered pretty easily that it's a slow day at work today from the fact that I'm writing about it. Despite that, however, I have learned a few more things.

1.) A full(er) night's sleep (6 hours) is wonderful and packed with interesting dreams that I had no trouble remembering when I was a kid but now have difficulty remembering. (Odd tid-bit but there it is)

2.) Pandora Radio is great.

3.) Life minus IPod Touch is pretty good too.

4.) Getting myself to write when the internet is available is difficult.

The fourth and last one is probably the only one that's really really annoying. I hate having projects hang over me but at the same time I'm really bad in that I tend to have a lot of them hang over me and this script, as well as other ideas, are projects that are hanging over me and it's a problem, as I've discovered, because I can't seem to get myself to do anything about it. I learned from Sam Pollard a year or so ago that so much of film making is just about discipline and I feel that discipline has been a problem that has plagued me since the age of 5. I'm horrible at keeping myself in line and have been for as long as I can remember.

It's always frustrating when you discover something that your parents said to you that you just rolled your eyes then is valid. I remember my dad saying something about my needing to learn discipline. I never took it seriously nor did I try to do it because it seemed like too much effort. I just trusted that when it came to crunch time I'd do it, and that, for the most part, is how it is with me now, but is that how I should be doing things? What happens when I have no "crunch time," or, rather, that "crunch time" is ongoing because there is no deadline because no one is keeping me accountable? How do I get it done then?

I guess I just need to learn discipline. Now's a lot better than later. I guess.

Monday, August 3, 2009


So I finished a first cut of my narrative today, as well as a trailer.

Here's a low res of the trailer:

Big Brother Trailer 1 from Matthew Chao on Vimeo.


When I got to NYU freshmen year, I had managed to keep a memento of my high school career with me pretty well. Running was a passion of mine and a stress reliever, a cathartic activity. I often wrote about this act or running along the West Side Highway at 3AM in my writing classes (see writing the essay). I believe I even had a script and, sophomore year I did a sight and sound film project about it, which I lost somewhere in the steinbeck lab. It was through this activity, this stress reliever, that I developed a sort of relationship with the city. I was introduced to different places at odd hours and rewarded with a view at the empty and naked streets of Manhattan and the beauty that comes from underneath the hustle and bustle a normal day brings.

I ran quite frequently freshmen year, during all seasons; fall, winter, spring, summer. A lot of it stemmed from my desire not to sleep and the lack of alternative activities I could do. It was a wonderful thing, when I think about it.

However, sophomore year I ran less, maybe managing to get out once or twice a month. I still loved running but it wasn't something that was immediately on my mind. I was often busy with other things and it was no longer a need that I felt. Plus, my roommate was a very light sleeper, which left me sleeping a little earlier (at least occasionally).

Junior year and senior year I didn't run at all. Well, that's not entirely true. There was a brief stint of me running in the Czech Republic on my summer study abroad in Prague, which was an amazing idea and one which I am glad I did. Additionally there were times I made my way to the gym and ran on a treadmill and hated myself for it. For some reason, maybe because Junior year I was rarely in my dorm and senior year I was always busy working on other things, I never got myself to go running again. I guess I could make up a million excuses as to why in particular I couldn't go running, but the bottom line is that I was too lazy, and even though I knew I would really enjoy the experience once I started, I couldn't get myself out of my seat to go and actually get started.

This brings me to today, or rather, tonight. I had promised myself, before I got back into the NYU dorms for the Tisch Summer High School Program, that I would do my night run at least one more time before I moved back home. This run would, in a way, represent a closer for me, the end of a particular chapter of my life, my goodbye to living freely in NYC. So tonight I changed into a pair of gym shorts and a t-shirt I use for running or sleeping, rubber banded my I.D. to my phone and left my doors unlocked. As I laced on my running shoes I marvled at the lightness in their weight. They felt like nothing compared to the boots I had been wearing for the past two years.

As I set out I felt myself explode. The wind raced through my hair and my feet glided over the pavement; I was off.

From this experience I realized two things:

1.) I need to remember how to pace myself better.
2.) I'm out of shape.

I guess I also realized that I should make sure I'm well hydrated, but that doesn't count because I wasn't poorly hydrated.

This run has been good for me. I have rediscovered a part of New York that was lost to me and I have once again realized that I don't want to leave it. Tonight I didn't want to come back.

I hope to do more of these runs, even if I have to do them at home on the streets of Bloomfield. There's a peacefulness in running by yourself and I'm glad I rediscovered it. I feel as though this may have been the answer to my focus issues.

Lastly, along my run I was able to visit my favorite spot in NYC: (actually, one that I discovered on my earlier runs freshmen year) South Cove. I took some shitty photos on my phone and will post them if I can figure out how to get them onto a computer. Maybe I'll go there with a real camera next time (or at least a slightly less fake one).

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Helping Others as a Means of Procrastination

Today, despite it being one of the few prescious days of the week where I can grab a few hours to edit my long-overdue films, I skipped out on any work of that sort and helped my curly red-haired jewish long-time collaborator since freshmen year friend move from his apartment on Sullivan between Prince and Spring St.'s around the corner (or rather, through a playground) to an apartment probably in the same place as his old apartment, just on a parallel street (Thompson Street between Prince and Spring.)

Of course, this is a very good friend of mine, one who I've collaborated with... well, I guess I said that already... but anyway, I think I tend to find myself in these kinds of situations a lot (although, this one, more than any others, NEEDED to be done, I swear!) where I use opportunities to help my friends as a means of procrastination, but the kind of procrastination where I don't feel guilty. Basically, I think it goes something like this: When I procrastinate by playing games or watching something useless I eventually feel bad and beat myself up about not having done any work and in a sense, even if it's only momentarily, motivate myself to do some sort of work. However, in situations like this, I can procrastinate and not feel guilty because, well, I'm working, and it's not like I can argue with that.

This kind of thing doesn't just happen with helping someone move but comes down to working on too many productions too, or volunteering my time for too many things. I remember being told by my screenwriting teacher that I need to be selfish about my time, to reserve time for writing (and this applies to other things such as editing too) and to hold onto it tightly. I don't think I'm very good at being greedy, but I guess I should start to work on that in these areas if I ever want to complete something of my own.

In other news, I think my attention span is quickly becoming shorter and it's getting annoying. I really need to find some sort of solution to that problem.