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May 2002

jake in thailand: chapter fourteen

Leaving Jing Jing!

Tonight I saw my last sunset, and I closed my eyes and then opened them several times just to make sure that I could see the moment in my mind. You know, you think that you have your heart all figured out when you are at home, in a comfortable environment, but what you don't realize is that your heart only knows a few things... What it sees on a regular basis... And the things that it loves...

But you don't realize that your heart may not NEED the things that your eyes see on a regular basis... Like your car or your loved one's... But what is wonderful about being away from these things is... That your heart still sees the things that it loves... Every DAY!!! Which still may be your car depending on what kind of car it is...

So you acquire an appreciation for what really keeps your engine running. And that may be your J O B. Or that may be your friends or your family. But the greatest thing to realize... is that all you need in life is yourself... And everything else is just a bonus! I thought that I wouldn't be able to survive without seeing my coworkers everyday... solving problems and just talking about more important things than the DSL issue that had the office in a scramble... I thought I wouldn't be able to live... Without going out to dinner with friends and making an ass out of myself dancing around and telling jokes... I thought that life would cease without the company and conversation with my family... But I was wrong........ I found that you can find friends... and you can find family... anywhere in the world!!! But what makes "home" so special... Is that you can always go to it... and tell your coworkers... and Friends.. and family... about the people that you have met. And the things that you have seen. And the experiences that you wish they could have seen with you. So I want to thank you all for listening to me. And for sharing with me. I wish I could have written to you all every Day!!!!!! But now at least we will have something to talk about when I get home!! HAHAHA!!!!

There are 50 people on my mailing list and 50 people that get them forwarded to them. (If only spam weren't an issue you all would be on here, I guarantee that!!!) So I want you ALL to know how special this was for me and how I have enjoyed your responses. I have never been a teary-eyed kind of guy (except for the movies), but I have cried so many times just hearing your voices through my monitor. And I want to thank you for all that. The support and the concerns... (And I would like to thank the academy and God) J/K Jing Jing, this time has been so special to me and I hope you have enjoyed reading about it. And if you want to learn how to speak Thai, just let me know!

So I leave from the Koh Samui airport tomorrow and then from Bangkok @ 1am May 1st. I arrive in SFO @ 11am May 1st. Traveling back in time. Coooool!!!

One last thing. You can talk to 100 people about a particular place... and they will all tell you that it's too crowded or that it smells or that it's just a waste of time... But you can never tell until you go (pai) and see for yourself... Experience it with your own eyes. I will never forget that. And you know what... That place that everyone hated... may be the place that gives you a new set of eyes.

Ti Rak,
Jacob

ps. Life is like the stock market boy... The higher the risk... The higher the return.
-- Randy Kipp


the scorpion king

Saw The Scorpion King. It's just what I expected. The Rock is the Rock; it's not exactly that he's acting, or even that they give him very many lines, but if you already like him, you'll like him here, as well. It's being compared to Conan the Barbarian, and the Rock holds up well in comparisons to Arnold. His movie, sadly, does not ... Conan isn't exactly a classic, but it did a good job of personifying evil in James Earl Jones's character, and Sandahl Bergman is one of the ass-kickingest women in movie history, a rare "Western" example that can match the Hong Kong ass-kicking babes. Scorpion King, on the other hand, has what is best called a PG-13 villain, and while it co-stars Kelly Hu, who proved her ass-kicking capabilities starring with Sammo on Martial Law, Hu does very little ass-kicking in this movie. I give it a 6 on a scale of 10; for comparison purposes, I gave Robo Cop a 7 and The World Is Not Enough a 5.


my larry king column

I know everyone's dying to read about my thrilling exploits, but the fact is I've got a job interview next week and that's pretty much all I'm thinking about.

What I've done the last coupla days:

Went to a women's soccer doubleheader. CyberRays lost, USA national team won.

Watched more of Trigun (I'm through #13).

Watched some of Manufacturing Consent. Watched Blow Out.

Listening to Children of the Future by the Steve Miller Band. (Nostalgic footnote: the first rock concert I ever attended in my life was Chuck Berry, Eric Burdon and the Animals, and the Steve Miller Blues Band at the Fillmore.)


snapshot of life in america

Last night my brother and I went to a soccer match in San Jose between the home club and visiting Mexican squad Pachuca. The match was the second leg of their Champions Cup battle. Pachuca had won their home leg, 3-0, and thus didn't need to do much to win the aggregate score. The Earthquakes put in one goal, but lost overall, 3-1. There were a little over 6000 in attendance; many of them rooted for the visitors.

And then there was the Metaphor of Assimilation.

Sitting in front of me was a family of three. The mom and dad each had on Pachuca jerseys. The son had on an Earthquakes jersey.

And thus do immigrants assimilate.


top gun

Jillian and I were talking about the relative merits of various movies tonight, in particular Top Gun, which I think stinks, while Jillian at least likes it more than I do. She believes you should consider whether or not a movie accomplishes what it sets out to do, and thinks Top Gun succeeds in this regard. She's got me thinking about this, so here are some thoughts.

Here's what I think Top Gun accomplishes:

1) It works on the level of an advertisement for joining the military

2) It works on the theme of bonding, but I'd argue not on the level of adult male bonding ... rather, the bonding between guys that goes on in the movie is a glorified version of what 12 year old boys imagine male bonding to be like. Rio Bravo is a movie about adult male bonding; Top Gun is a movie about early-adolescent bonding. Which would be fine if we were talking about Stand By Me, but in Top Gun, the characters are adults, so I'm not sure it accomplishes what it sets out to do.

What I think Top Gun fails to accomplish:

1) The romance between Cruise and McGillis isn't particularly believable. Again to cite Rio Bravo, the on-the-face-of-it-ludicrous romance between old John Wayne and young Angie Dickinson has real fire to it when compared to Tom and Kelly.

2) The action scenes are not very coherent. I'm not sure how easy it is to film air action scenes; it's hard to know where the various participants are located when they are all in the sky. But Top Gun's aerial action doesn't work the way, say, The Road Warrior works. In Road Warrior, each individual action scene has a propulsive excitement to it; the film as a whole does the same thing, culminating in the big final chase scene. In Top Gun, all you get is planes going fast and doing tricks.

Why I think academic-minded people might over-rate Top Gun:

There is a LOT of subtext, and it's all interesting and worth analyzing. But it's not intentional subtext; I don't really believe Tony Scott thought "I want to make a movie about homoeroticism." So we can accept that the movie makes an interesting subject for analysis (and I've used it in classes, myself), but I don't think you can say a movie is accomplishing what it set out to do when what makes it interesting are things that lie outside the film makers' intentions.

As an action movie, it's subpar; it's no Star Wars. As a romance, it's subpar; it's no Officer and a Gentleman. As a dissertation on the theme of male bonding, it's adolescent at best; it's not even a Big Hit. And I picked movies for comparison that are good but not great to show just how cruddy I think Top Gun really is. I can't see rating a film highly because people like Jillian and I are smart enough to make something of it. That just means I should give us a good rating, not Tony Scott.

Ultimately, I agree with Jillian that one part of rating a film is examining how well it accomplishes what it sets out to do. That's why I don't mind giving a high rating to something like The Big Hit or Airplane. But there are so many movies that do what Top Gun tries to do, and do it better, that I can't see why I should take it seriously as a good movie. And what it is trying to accomplish is so puny that I'm not gonna say "almost but not quite," the way I will with a movie that reaches for the stars and falls short.


tape

I just watched Tape. In the words of Chris Jericho, "would you please shut the hell up!" I give it a 2 on a scale of 10; I'm astounded that there exists a movie with lovebirds Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman that is actually worse than their crapfest, Gattaca.


the ceremony

Today, Neal and Sonia were married, and I was proud to be chosen to officiate at the wedding. Here is the ceremony I wrote, minus the ad-libs we threw in.

Introduction
Welcome, everyone, to the marriage ceremony of Sonia Penaloza and Neal Smith-Rubio. For those who are wondering, yes, it's legal having me up here doing the marrying. Legalities aside, what is important is that you are all here to witness this special occasion. Neal and Sonia have been together for a long time, and part of what makes this ceremony important is that they are, now and forever, sharing their togetherness with us, inviting us to a public recognition of their life and love.

Con permiso, quiero hablar por un momento en espanol, y disculpeme, porque mi espanol es un poquito malo. Pero pienso que es importante en una ocasion como esto hablar en los dos idiomas de las familias. Creo que este boda sirve como un simbolo del siglo 21, con muchas culturas, y familias de los estados unidos, de mexico, de espana, todo incluido en una nueva familia de Penaloza, Smith y Rubio. Vamonos al futuro con Sonia y Neal.

Main Body
The future. That's what we're looking at here. Not just Neal and Sonia's future, but the future of all of us who will share, with them, the rest of their lives. But while the marriage ceremony itself is public, marriage life is a private affair between the two participants. For that reason, there's not a whole lot I can say here in terms of advice; it's your lives to live, and the decision to come here today was yours and yours alone.

I can say this. When you are young, you take pride in the things that you accomplish for yourself. As you join with others, not only in marriage but in friendship and in the workplace, you take pride in what you accomplish as part of a team. But there comes a time in your life when you realize that, in an odd way, you can take pride in what others accomplish with your help. When you watch the fruits of your life ripen into something that feeds others. Your pride is less in yourself than it is pride in your influence on those other people. I look out at all the people who have come here today, and I see people on whom I'd like to believe I've had some influence. And I certainly see people who have had that influence on me. Today, I am proud of my son, of the life he has created for himself, of the partnership he has formed with Sonia, and, yes, I am proud of whatever influence Robin and I have had on what has led Neal to this day. And I am proud that Sonia is a part of our family. I won't say I am proud to welcome her into our family, for in fact, she has been a part of our family for many years, now. But I am proud to join Sonia and Neal today in announcing to the world, esto es mi familia. This is my family.

[Song by Cory]

Vows
Neal, do you take Sonia to be your wife? [I DO] Will you love her, honor her, and stand by her in everything, so long as you both shall live? [I WILL]

Sonia, do you take Neal to be your husband? [I DO] Will you love him, honor him, and stand by him in everything, so long as you both shall live? [I WILL]

Exchange of Rings
At this point, as Sonia and Neal prepare to exchange rings, I'm supposed to say something about the symbolic meaning of rings, about how the circular nature of the ring represents a love that never ends but always circles back upon itself. But instead I'd like to mention a more obvious meaning of a wedding ring: it means you are married. When you see a person with a ring on the fourth finger of their left hand, you say to yourself, "that person is married." When Robin and I were married, I told her I didn't want a wedding ring, and so our ceremony was a bit shorter than most; we only had one ring to deal with! But six months later, we got me a wedding ring. Because I didn't really understand until I didn't have one: a wedding ring says to the world, "hey, I'm married!"

Sonia, do you have a ring for Neal? Neal, do you accept this ring as a symbol of Sonia's love? Neal, do you have a ring for Sonia? Sonia, do you accept this ring as a symbol of Neal's love?

Closing
I've tried to avoid saying the usual cliches today, but at this point I can't resist. Neal and Sonia, I now pronounce you husband and wife. It's time to kiss!