December 28, 2009

one-sentence movie reviews

of films i saw in 2009:

avatar: ferngully with better special effects and without all the snazzy dance sequences
away we go: maggie gyllenhaal shines in dave eggers' best film of the year
coraline: best 3D movie of the year (yeah, i went there)
the cove: part eco-documentary, part spy drama -- the ocean's-11-style commando team really takes your breath away when the oceans turn red with blood
district 9: biggest surprise of the year -- not at all what i expected
fantastic mr. fox: wes anderson is brillant -- best film of the year
(500) days of summer: made downtown LA seem romantic
food, inc.: eye-opening if you haven't read omnivore's dilemma, preaching to the choir if you have
the hangover: FUNNIEST MOVIE OF THE DECADE...if i were a 19-year-old guy
harry potter: too scary
he's just not that into you: i will never be wowed by an easy romantic comedy, but i will be entertained for 2 hours
i love you, man: notable for the introduction of "totes magotes" into the vernacular, also for leaving the movie-going public under the impression that silver lake and venice are 10 minutes apart
inglourious basterds: tarantino at his finest -- i left this gory nazi film feeling strangely uplifted and energized
julie and julia: see review for "he's just not that into you"
monsters vs. aliens: snoozefest '09
new moon: the pea coat and ray bans didn't make up for how pale he was
paranormal activity: not sure how i got talked into seeing this, but i closed my eyes and plugged my ears for the last 5 minutes, and that was the best decision i made all year
up: i cried...twice
up in the air: accurate, if hard to swallow, portrayal of generation Y in the workplace; loved it, despite being a starwood girl
where the wild things are: it wasn't for kids; it was for hipsters

December 24, 2009

15 best songs of 2009

 my favorite songs of 2009...i apologize in advance for #14 and #8.

15. harold t wilkins - fanfarlo
14. crickets - new boyz
13. heads will roll - yeah yeah yeahs
12. robots in love - beautiful small machines
11. blood bank - bon iver
10. coin laundry - lisa mitchell
9. stillness is the move - dirty projectors
8. body language - jesse mccartney (though the re-release with t-pain isn't as good as the original from '08)
7. shooting stars - bag raiders

6. feel it in my bones - tiesto feat. tegan & sara 
5. pick up the phone - dragonette
4. better things - passion pit
3. howl - florence + the machine
2. 1901 - phoenix
1. bulletproof - la roux

honorable mention (released late in 2008): what am i doing here - shwayze

December 23, 2009


mom, zoe, and i did our annual holiday cookie bake-a-thon today. clockwise from top of table: white chocolate macadamia cranberry cookies, peanut butter kisses, my signature chocolate mint shmooshes, sugar cookies with royal icing, german shortbread, gingersnaps, corn wafers. inquire within for recipes.

December 21, 2009

ugly holiday sweaters

i am very on board with the recent trend of ironic ugly holiday sweater parties. i'm invited to several each season, and my j.c.penney purchase from black friday 2008 has served me well (far right).

getting a good sweater is serious business. if you don't make a move early in the season (like my black friday acquisition), you could be left with lackluster holiday apparel. instead of an ironic homage to the tasteless, you've just got an ugly sweater. SF weekly published a great article today on the "tragic shortage" of appropriately ridiculous sweaters, and it featured my favorite, the meta sweater:

December 18, 2009

favorite NPR names

great day for NPR names! heard my girls doualy xaykaothao, lakshmi singh, and soraya sarhaddi nelson on morning edition today. i wish ofeibea could have checked in to round out my top 4.
my top 12 NPR names:
12. adolfo guzman-lopez
11. mandalit del barco
10. john ydstie
9. lourdes garcia-navarro
8. hettie lynne hurtes
7. sylvia poggioli
6. kai ryssdal
5. renita jablonski
4. soraya sarhaddi nelson
3. ofeibea quist-arcton
2. lakshmi singh
1. doualy xaykaothao

December 16, 2009

tagging on melrose

i accidentally drove down the wrong street off melrose last weekend and encountered blocks and blocks of back-alley mural art.

for those of you with a mirror, you should know that i purposefully framed this photo to exclude the naked body of said "ho."

December 15, 2009


accepted to harvard business school this morning!

12/16 update: also got the call from stanford's graduate school of business last night. i'm in!

December 13, 2009

the united states is #1 in something

interesting (though heinous) infographic from regarding charitable giving in the united states. my caveat to their #2 tip for picking a winner (near the bottom) is that some non-profits are making charitable events efficient sources of fundraising. yes, attending events hasn't traditionally been the best way to give, but it doesn't have to be that way!


December 11, 2009

gimme that christian side hug!

occasionally, i encounter a cultural crumb so bizarre that i cannot fathom the metaphorical muffin it fell from. as i watch this rap video espousing the purity of the "christian side hug," i can't help but notice the hundreds (thousands?) of people screaming in the audience. their muffin is not even sold at the same bakery as mine.

money quote: "jesus never hugged nobody like that!"

December 7, 2009

crowd-sourcing for the masses

the awesome power of google search meets the (sometimes) awesome content of twitter's about time.

i think google's new real-time search feature could be a really valuable way to get answers to all my pressing (and also not-so-pressing) questions. can't wait.

December 4, 2009

how to know where your donation is going

california attorney general jerry brown recently released a report indicating that over half of charitable contributions in the state never end up in charities' coffers. most of the funds raised are used to cover the cost of fundraisers. having attended some of these lavish galas, i can tell you first-hand how disheartening it is to calculate how many lives the money spent on the floral centerpiece could have saved.

but it doesn't have to be that way! philanthro productions in los angeles is a non-profit event production company that throws social events to raise money for charity, and in 2009, over 95% of event revenue went directly to charity. in fact, at many events, 100% of cover charge goes to the non-profit partner.

philanthro (which also has chapters in san francisco and san diego) is part of the solution, not the problem. the attorney general recommends that you find out what percentage of donations will go to pay for fundraising expenses before you contribute. be a savvy giver, and party with philanthro. by attending philanthro events, you can have the peace of mind that your money is being spent transparently and efficiently.

(full disclosure: i currently serve as president of philanthro productions los angeles and sit on the corporate board of directors)

frosted mini spooners

consultants love flow charts, and consultants who love cereal (me) will especially like this graphic from eating the road. glad to see my beloved frosted mini spooners made it on the list. but, luckily for cap'n crunch, sometimes i don't care about the roof of my mouth.

(click to enlarge)

best youtube sports moments of 2009

i love me a "best of" list (expect lots of them in the coming month).

mashable published the 5 best youtube sports moments of 2009. they're all pretty good, but vijay singh's hole-in-one is out of this world.

December 3, 2009

some people are anti-juice

buzzfeed put out their list of the 50 best protest signs of 2009. some of my favorites:

great list, but they were missing a couple:
i'm not newt gingrich or anything
the "offical" language

why didn't we think of this sooner?

prediction: the countdown traffic light will encourage more stoplight texting.

corduroy skirts are a sin

via andrew sullivan

spread local holiday cheer

find me this weekend at the Unique LA show in downtown los angeles. reviving the romantic downtown image of 500 days of summer, it's going to be a great place to do holiday shopping and support local artists and designers. plus, proceeds benefit our local heroes at 826LA.

December 1, 2009

how will you die?

new infographic from GOOD today showing the leading causes of death by age, sex, and race.

biggest surprise for me? black women age 15-24. unlike young people in any other group, suicide isn't even on the list, but HIV makes the top 3.

(click to enlarge)

November 30, 2009

paper and pencil

i always love artists who use household items to make something beautiful. today, i share with you origami master won park and pencil sculptor jennifer maestre.

November 29, 2009

how to cry on an airplane

it's difficult to cry on an airplane. but, wedged in a middle seat, surrounded by sudoku puzzlers and skymall shoppers, i did just that today, weeping silently, wiping away tears with my sleeve. at first, it sat in my throat, and i thought i could keep it there -- play it cool. but pretty soon it welled up into my eyes, and i couldn't stop it.

the culprit? a podcast.

second only to this american life, WNYC's radio lab is one of the greatest radio shows on the air waves. honestly one of the best-edited, most interesting productions out there. podcast available on itunes. get on it.

the episode was short #13. "gone" is a reading from poet and writer mark doty reflecting on the loss of his partner, wally. stunningly beautiful.

November 26, 2009

broccoli casserole: regional delicacy

the new york times had some great thanksgiving infographics today about search terms entered into regional differences are fascinating.

November 25, 2009

TED India archives are up!

in lieu of sending DVDs of all the talks to attendees, TED has made the rough footage of all the speakers available to TED India attendees on the internet. now i don't have to wait so long to rewatch some of my favorites.

unfortunately, these clips aren't ready for the public yet (password protected), so non-tedsters will have to wait until they're posted on the website over the next month or so...or just find me and an internet connection, and i'll share some of the highlights :)

food waste in the u.s.

9.6 million u.s. residents go hungry every year. saving just 5% of u.s. food waste could feed them all.

think this thanksgiving.

thanks to GOOD for their always-awesome transparency videos.

November 24, 2009

don't fret

for all my over-26-and-single friends: don't fret. there's a graph-making nerd waiting for you somewhere.

thanks to xkcd. always good.

buying for equality

one more reason to pick target over wal-mart: human rights campaign released their 2010 guide to buying for equality, so you can make good decisions this holiday season.

-click to enlarge-

troops in afghanistan

we management consultants love a good bubble chart...

here's a graphical representation of the troop levels in afghanistan vs. the size of the taliban (via one of my favorites, andrew sullivan)

-click to enlarge-

November 22, 2009

twitter is crack cocaine

internet vices: comparing online time-sucks to controlled substances (credit: patrick moberg). thanks to zoe for sharing this timely dose of reality. so true.

-click to enlarge-

November 15, 2009

kiva's transparency problem

my talk at TED India was especially targeted toward the leaders of social enterprises seeking support from generation y, a particularly timely message for i explained that a comprehensive online presence is table stakes, and to really win over the next generation of philanthropists, an organization must embody transparency (make it easy for us to figure out exactly where our money is going) and problem solving (solve the core problem / teach a man to fish).

i was only able to speak for a few minutes -- TED curators ensure speakers adhere strictly to time constraints -- but if i'd had more time, i was going to speak briefly about kiva, an organization i thought embodied those principles to a t. ultimately, the example got cut from my speech in the interest of time.

i'm now glad i did not hold up kiva as an example of transparency in a video that will live in perpetuity on the TED website. i would have been quite embarrassed...

just days later, stephanie strom's article about david roodman's blog post dropped in the new york times. it unearthed the controversy regarding kiva's disclosure of where lenders' money goes. it turns out that $25 lent "directly" to an entrepreneur doesn't actually go directly to her. it appears that kiva has a model similar to that of heifer international (another organization i love, by the way), where donors give to support a micro-cause -- a specific person or a specific animal -- but in reality, their money doesn't exactly go to that recipient.

i admit, i'm very disappointed to learn that i was wrong about kiva. i still respect kiva a lot, and i'm proud to have supported them in the past. i completely identify with the need to make charitable models easy for donors to understand -- it's a prerequisite for widespread engagement. that said, this debacle sheds light on an important lesson for all social enterprises: obscuring the truth about your financial model, even if benignly, can get you into trouble. like i said:, so important.

November 12, 2009

kerala trip day 5: last day in india

we slept overnight on the house boats and woke up to a beautiful sunrise over the water.

the sunlight illuminated the boats perfectly.

the crew burned incense on the bow of the boat, as we cruised through the canals out onto the open lake.

we were served breakfast (photo below) on our ride back to the resort, passing local fishermen and water ferries along the way.

the house boats docked right next to the pool at the resort we'd left the morning before.

i wandered around the resort a bit more before we left that afternoon. the gardens and pools were just breathtaking. i even met a little bunny friend.

i went back to my room to pack up. as usual, i found that housekeeping had taken care to position the bear just so -- leisurely propped up in the suit case, arms crossed like a maharajah.

i checked out and gave back the enormous key necessary to open the ornate kerala door on my room. i really enjoyed my last hours at the resort.

it was almost a 4-hour drive from the kumarakom lake resort back to the cochin airport. along the way we saw some rush hour buses practically buckling on the sides with commuters. we also got to try some traditional kerala street food -- fried bananas and peanut brittle.

at the cochin airport, our flight was delayed. i had a connection in mumbai, but i'd booked it on my own, not through the tour company. nevertheless, the tour guys hustled to move us all onto a different flight on another airline, to ensure we got to mumbai as soon as possible. that would never happen in america. as we entered the terminal to fly to mumbai, we walked down what felt like a red carpet because there were so many people standing there, eagerly awaiting the arrival of their loved ones.

a similar scene met us in mumbai (after our nightmare flight on air india -- an airline i hope to never do business with again), but don't let the photo below fool you. the mumbai airport isn't nearly as nice as this photo makes it look.

this stairwell (inside the airport!) is much more representative. this is where i waited for an ancient elevator to bring me to the departures level.

navigating the departures level at the mumbai airport was a challenge. the sidewalks are crowded with snack vendors, disorganized gaggles of family members, and a surprising number of people napping on the ground. i passed a lot of signage directed at haj pilgrims, something else you'd rarely find in america.

my trip was very nearly perfect, except for my final hours in india battling the air india bureaucracy and the interminable chaos of the mumbai airport (a cockroach crawled on me while i was eating dinner. sigh).

i was pleased, in a way, because it made me grateful and excited to be headed home. i feel like i really squeezed every last drop of awesome out of this trip to india, and i'm so thankful to have had the opportunity. from the life-changing TED India conference, to the peaceful banks of lake vembanad, i breathed it all in, and i am supremely satisfied.