“But it’s free!”

I’ve made a post in the past detailing how to take advantage of cultural happenings in San Francisco on a student budget (which you can read HERE) and now I’m going to try to do the same for New York City. I’ve been here for almost a year now and I don’t think I will ever get over how expensive and out of control some of the prices are here (this may be due in part to the fact that I’m on the hunt for housing right now and I just want to weep while scrolling through Craigslist; must avoid places like these listings). Almost everything here, from produce to housing, is a lot more expensive than I’m used to and as a result, I’m always on the hunt to save a few bucks here and there. New York’s crazy prices shouldn’t deter you from enjoying the multitude of events and activities the city has to offer, I tell myself. Personally, it’s pretty pricey living here, all the way across the country, away from my family, friends, cheap produce, cheap Mexican food, In-n-Out, and so on. I force myself to go out and really enjoy the city because not everyone can say they live in New York City, right? So I will now present a taste of some of the FREE (or super cheap) activities I’ve partaken in this summer so far.

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Things I Enjoyed in 2012

I’m really bad with keeping up with this blog but figured I should post something before the year ends.

Since the last time I updated, I started my MA program at NYU and moved to New York. It’s been a huge change (one that was quite difficult at first), but it’s definitely been a learning experience. I’m happy to say that I’m enjoying my time there now and school has definitely contributed to my overall happiness. The beginning half of this year was possibly the hardest time period in my life – having to learn how to accept “no” as an answer multiple times, realizing that I need to stop acting entitled just because I have an expensive sheet of paper, learning how to be happy for other people even as my self-confidence dwindles, learning how to swallow my pride and face the fact that nothing is really “below my standards,” and so on – but I do believe I am a better person overall for having experienced it. Did it suck? Obviously. Would I do it again? Hopefully not, but I am, in a strange way, grateful for January – August because I’ve learned a lot from my mistakes and how to be satisfied and thankful for any opportunity that comes my way.

Now that I’ve explained my current and past mentality for this year, I’ll move on to much more exciting and entertaining things. This is a post about the pop culture-y things I’ve enjoyed this year – anything from movies, tv shows, music, YouTube videos, etc. I have to admit there isn’t anything groundbreaking here as I was/am a bit slow to catch onto things, at least for 2012, due in part to my lack of time and (mostly) in part to my laziness. Some of these items listed are things I’m sure most people already know about and may have even moved past or gotten over. Oh well!

So here are the things, in no particular order, that provided an escape, entertained me, or helped me procrastinate:

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5 Things From ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ That Made Me Laugh

Last night, I was fortunate enough to score passes to a free screening of ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ in IMAX! Nothing makes me happier than saving $16 and seeing a heavily anticipated movie for FREE. I don’t think I’m the right person to accurately review this film because I’m not a huge comic person, nor am I a die hard Batman fan. Alas, I will try and do it my own way.

We all know that Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy is much grittier, realistic, and serious than the Batman movies of the past, which were more camp and at times, so bad they were hilarious and Nolan’s style isn’t for everyone. There are people out there who wish these films didn’t take themselves so seriously. Thankfully, much like its predecessor, ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ does provide a few moments of comedy — maybe not intentionally. If you were around the Internet in the summer of 2008 when TDK came out and were aware of the numerous memes and gifs that popped up as a result of the Bale drama and sheer greatness of the movie, this post is for you.

SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!!!!!!!!!

I’m not kidding!



5. That moment when Talia/Miranda suddenly stops talking and closes her eyes and DIES. I love Marion Cotillard and think she’s a great actress, but that was so Drama 101. You know when you’re a little kid and you and your friends play cops and robbers or some other version of an imaginary game in which you get killed? And you and/or your friends always suddenly stop moving/talking to close your eyes and dramatically die? It was exactly like that.

4. The extras in the football field scene doing too much. I’m sure getting to be an extra in TDKR is very, very exciting. And to top it off by being in a crucial scene with Tom Hardy’s Bane describing his plan for Gotham? Terribly exciting. However, I couldn’t help but notice a few extras who were lucky enough to be the focus of their own shots and display “fear” and “confusion.” I’m not going to criticize any of their acting abilities because  it’s not like they’re paid millions to be in this film and most are probably die hard fans who are just happy to take part, but I will admit it was a bit distracting. Some of the expressions I saw made it hard for me to take the scene seriously because I couldn’t help but laugh.

3. Quinn from Dexter playing Quinn from Dexter. During one crucial moment of the film, JGL’s character, Blake attempts to save a school bus filled with orphan boys by negotiating with the cops blocking a bridge leading out of the city. The cop refuses to let any of them cross for fear of the bomb going off. Blake tries to explain that the “orders have changed” and that they had to let people escape. To be honest, I was having trouble paying attention to this scene because “HOLY CRAP THAT’S THE GUY FROM DEXTER!” Quinn has never been one of my favorite characters from the show, and it was hilarious to see him in this film because he was essentially the same character: stubborn, dim-witted, and unwilling to listen. I’m sure surprise!motherfucker Doakes would’ve let them cross.

2. That scene where Alfred explains he burnt Rachel’s letter and Bruce Wayne looks like Kermit (Bale). I don’t even know why this moment made me laugh so hard. I think it was a combination of me looking for things to laugh at and Christian Bale’s expressions. The dialogue was kind of overdramatic (“How dare you….” will always make laugh now) and Bale’s face was looked a lot like Kermit’s for a few minutes. I look forward to the gifs of this scene.

1. “Bururlkjkdfjkgjk” “Thsekljlkmkvejek” or how I could not understand a word Bane said. A few months ago, WB released a scene and the first look at Tom Hardy’s Bane to a few fans. One of the main complaints was how difficult it was to understand Bane because of the mask. As a result, WB and Nolan issued a statement saying they were going to fix Bane’s voice and make it more intelligible. I do think they did make an effort to make his voice clearer, but there were chunks of the movie where I sat their going, “What?! What is he saying?” I’m not sure who is to blame for this, perhaps sound mixing, but I do hope nobody at WB seriously thought Bane’s dialogue was understandable. Sometimes it was a bit high pitched, which worked because I could actually understandable, and sometimes it sounded like rocks rolling in a bag. And couple that voice with Batman’s notorious growl, you get scenes that resembled this:

Overall, I really enjoyed TDKR and I think most people will too. I’ve read a few reviews where people have expressed disappointment and I think that’s to be expected. The Batman franchise is so beloved that there will always be people who won’t be pleased, and TDK was such a huge film, both in terms of hype and profit, that it is difficult to top. I think Nolan did a great job of ending his trilogy and providing plenty of nods to the fans. ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ is definitely the movie event of the summer.

Review: “Brave”

I was lucky enough to catch a free screening of “Brave” on Monday and was excited to finally see a Pixar film with a female protagonist. These past few years, Pixar has become the breadwinner in the Disney/Pixar partnership and have put out films that are consistently lauded and top Best Films of the Year lists. However, can you believe up until now they haven’t had a female lead? Even my favorite Pixar film, “Up,” lacks a substantial female character. As a child of the 90s, I grew up watching a lot of the Disney Princess films and while there’s nothing wrong with them (I think most of my friends know how much I love Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, and Mulan), they always ended with the princess finding true love (even though Mulan was a badass and saved the entire country, there just had to be a love story with Shang). I think a lot of people were excited to see what Pixar would do with a female protagonist because the animation studio has always produced innovative films for all ages. Now that I’ve seen “Brave,” I can say that I hope Pixar continues to put out films with more females.

I walked into this movie not knowing much about it, having not seen the trailer, and only vaguely hearing about the controversy surrounding the director debacle, and though I enjoyed it for what it was, I walked out wishing for something more. One of my favorite things about Pixar films is that they cater to both children and adults. Sure, it’s a stunningly animated film with cute characters, but underneath it all a Pixar film manages to present a story with a deeper meaning. Finding Nemo was about the relationship between a father and son. Wall-E was about the dangers the Earth faced if humans continued to live the way they do. Up was about learning to move past the difficulties life presented you with and go on any sort of adventure, big or small. At the heart of it, Brave is about the relationship between a mother and a daughter and how to learn and accept one another.

I don’t want to go too much into the plot because I’d hate to spoil it for anyone, but I do wish that Pixar had done more with the mother/daughter relationship. It felt a bit rushed for me and a part of me wonders if the story would’ve had a different tone had Brenda Chapman stayed on as director. I mean, does a male director really understand the bond between a mother and a daughter? I think that is what bothered me the most throughout the film. Although I thought the animation was stunning at times (particularly the landscape shots), I will admit that my first reaction to seeing Brave ads was that it looked like a DreamWorks film. It lacked a bit of the Pixar charm and I feel awful for saying this because I really want this film to succeed and show Disney/Pixar that female led films are profitable and are worth the time to make them.

Again, I really enjoyed Brave and encourage everyone to see it. It’s very cute and funny and has great animation. I am excited that this generation has a female Disney character to look up to and Merida is a fantastic choice. However, there was just something missing in this film and so I can only say it was good, not great.

“The Artist”!!!

I really should be better about blogging, especially since I now have ample time on my hands, but I just had to make a quick post about The Artist.

Source: The Los Angeles Times

If you haven’t heard of this fantastic movie, it’s not too late to look into it now. The Artist recently won Best Picture (Comedy or Musical) at the Golden Globes and lead Jean Dujardin won for Best Actor. After hearing so much about this film and seeing the various clips in the 2011 film recaps (this one was my favorite: “2011: The Cinescape“), I had to see what everyone was raving about. And unlike most things that are often hyped up and inevitably fail to deliver, The Artist manages to live up to high expectations. I don’t think I say this very often, but this movie is just delightful to watch. If you haven’t heard about the film or watched the trailer by now (which you can do so here), you may be a bit surprised to know it’s a silent film and rarely ever uses sound diegetically. This may take some time getting used to (at least for me because I think I’ve only watched maybe one or two silent films before this), but after a while, you get used to the way the story unfolds. Rather than relying on dialogue, the film conveys the majority the plot through physical acting, and it really speaks to the talent of both Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo, who manage to carry the film without uttering a word.

The Artist is a great tribute to film and that golden era of Hollywood, when films relied on the charm of its leading actors and actresses and not so much on special effects or the hottest trend in young adult fiction. Like many have mentioned before, Michel Hazanavicus definitely should be recognized for creating a film that attempts to recreate that lost magic in 2012. I’m not an expert at all in film and truthfully, I’ve only taken one film history class, but I was able to spot a few homages to the movies of yesteryear (besides, of course the whole fact that it’s a silent film!), so that was a bit exciting. I’d also like to mention that the soundtrack is wonderful and it’s all on Spotify so you have no excuse not to check it out! Really, what is a silent film, without great music?

So long story short: Do yourself a favor and check out The Artist. It is absolutely lovely.

ALSO! I decided that I might try one of those film challenges and whilst searching for one, I found the “250 Films” challenge (seriously, there’s now way I can do the 365 Films…a movie a day?! I can’t even get myself to snap a picture once a day…). I’m going to try this one out because it sounds doable and I’m always up for challenging myself (really I have no excuse…I have nothing going on). Anyway, here’s that challenge!

“250 Films” from here
50 Favorite Movies
Your top 50 movies, you’ll rewatch this year.

50 New Movies
Movies you’ve never watched before.

50 Pre-codes
Pre-code films are early sound-era classics, most of them are last a little longer than an hour.

50 Silents
50 Silent movies, every movie fan should at least have some knowledge in early films.

50 Foreign Movies
Foreign cinema is often left aside by film fans, it’s time to bring it back.

Adding The Artist to New Movies. 🙂

Phoenix Documentary!!!

I’m a big fan of the French band Phoenix. Their pop-rock tunes will have you tapping your feet and humming for days. Their album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix is one of my most played records and was my travel soundtrack for months (aka I played it whenever flying, busing, taking the train, etc). Even today, as I walk almost a mile back from my internship to my dorm, I constantly blast “1901” or “Lasso”. The entire album pumps me up even after a long day. Recently, it’s been announced that the band is coming out with a tour documentary that captures the almost two years the band spent touring in support of their breakout album. It’ll be released on French and German TV this week, according to The AV Club , but no word on if and when the documentary will be made available to those of us in the States. In the meantime enjoy the trailer for what will sure be a cool, French look at band and tour life.

And if you want more Phoenix, check out a few of my favorite songs from the band!

Life in SF on a Broke Student Budget

Hello again! I haven’t updated in awhile because the past week or so because I’ve been busy with my move to Washington DC! I’m participating in the UCDC program at my school which entails working/interning in the capital, as well as taking two classes (one research seminar and one elective class that has to do with the city). I’ve been here for a week and recently started my internship at the Smithsonian Associates where I’m working as a Digital Marketing intern. Essentially, I’ll be helping out with promoting the various events, programs, and classes that the TSA puts on for its members. I’ve enjoyed it a lot so far, and I love that I can walk into one of the numerous museums on my lunch break and explore.

However, that is not the point of this blog post! I could go on and on, but I will save that for a different post and hopefully, have a pop culture spin on it. The point of this post is how broke I feel out here. You’re probably wondering why I’m feeling that here and now when I’ve been a college student for four years, racking up loans and other expenses. Well, it turns out that Washington DC is one of the most expensive cities to live in in the US. It’s especially hard when you’re working as an unpaid intern and paying expensive tuition and living fees to your school. I’ve been trying to find a website that lists cheap and free events in this city but so far have found little, though that’s not necessarily a bad thing as there seem to be free festivals that you stumble upon while walking around (and all of the Smithsonian museums are free!). Because I’ve been trying to find ways of saving money here, I’ve been inspired to write a post about saving money back home in San Francisco. Here are a few of the ways that have worked for me!

1. One of the best websites that list free or cheap events and happenings in San Francisco is FunCheapSF (http://sf.funcheap.com/). You can find events by day, location, and category. It’s a fantastic resource, especially if you’re like me and often times have no idea what’s happening anywhere. The website also lists their own picks, so you can easily find the most recommended events.

2. Go to free movie screenings! Okay, this is one of my favorite ways of saving money. My friends and I have been doing this for the past few years due to our cheapness and being poor students. It takes a little bit of searching, but the payoff is great. There are a few websites out there that give away passes or find passes to movies that will be coming out. However, keep in mind that having a movie pass does not guarantee you a seat in the theater. The catch is that it is first come, first serve which means that you may have to wait in line hours beforehand, depending on how popular the movie is. A few websites that I’ve gotten movie screening passes from are:
Fat Wallet (go to the last page for the most recent screenings)
Film Metro
SF Station

Again, you’ll need to do a little hunting and give up a few hours of your day, but if you really want to see a movie before everyone else and NOT pay for it, then give it a go. It can be a lot of fun to tell other people you’ve seen an awesome movie before it’s even come out! Even better is if it’s in IMAX (case in point – when I got to see The Dark Knight in IMAX a few days before it was released).

California Academy of Sciences

3. Go to the museums when it’s FREE. San Francisco has a wide variety of museums and unfortunately, almost all of them charge an admission price. However, you can save several dollars by researching when the museum offers free days.

The Asian Art Museum is free on the first Sunday of the month.
Legion of Honor, Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), and de Young Museum are free on the first Tuesday of the
The Exploratorium is free on the first Wednesday of the month.
The Academy of Sciences is free on the third Wednesday of the month.
To find more free museums, click here

Additionally, if you’re a Bank of American customer, you can check out several museums for free on the first full weekend of the month, just be presenting your Bank of America card. More information here: http://museums.bankofamerica.com/

4. Twitter is a great resource for deals/freebies/discounts! I know some people balk at our society’s dependence on social media, but it really can be useful. Most businesses and brands are on Twitter now and many offer freebies or discounts to their Twitter followers. Case in point: just this summer I won a pair of tickets to see “Billy Elliot the Musical” through MyBART and a pair of tickets of Outside Lands through EggCartel. Obviously, I was really lucky, but it is possible to win things through Twitter. Just try to keep an eye out for giveaways and tweet like crazy! You’ll never know unless you try!

5. Research restaurants before you go out to eat! Although it’s nice to be able to say you ate lunch at a really great place that you just happened to find while walking around, it would also be smart to Yelp a couple of places beforehand. You can sort places by neighborhood, type of cuisine, and price. It’s even better if you have a smartphone and can use their mobile app on the go! Typically, I stick to places that have one dollar sign ($) or two dollar signs ($$).

6. Utilize sites like GROUPON or LivingSocial. They both have great coupons and discounts on various businesses or activities throughout the city. The catch is that the offers are usually only up for one day so you should be on top of it if you’re seriously considering purchasing a deal. I’m not a huge fan of using these sites only because once I purchase one, I feel obligated to go to the business or restaurant, but if you’ve been intent on visiting a certain place, than buy it! Occasionally the sites do have pretty awesome deals like 2 movie tickets for $9.

7. You’re a student! Take advantage of it! Along with the awesome perks of being young and healthy, being a student means you have the occasional privilege of paying discounted prices. Student prices are not at every establishment, but it pays off to research or ask if there is a discount. Some theaters have student rush tickets, in which you can pay lower prices when you present your student ID card. (Side note = many theaters in SF have rush tickets, which are seats with limited view of the stage. You can buy tickets for these seats that are usually in the front at much lower prices, but you’ll need to wait hours before hand to snatch up the small number of them. My friends and I used to rush “Jersey Boys” a bunch of times and we always paid $25. It was sad when the guy sitting next to my friend realized she had paid $25 for her seat and he had paid almost $200). One of the best student discounts that I’ve used this past year is on my MacBook; I saved almost $100 just because I had a .edu email address. StudentUniverse and STA Travel also offer discounts on plane tickets and other travel packages. I also noticed that when I was in Europe and the UK, many museums and places offered lower prices to students. So even if your ID photo is hideous (like mine), keep it with you at all times because you never know when you might save a couple of bucks or more with it!