Archive for the ‘Entertainment’ Category

I caught the first episode of the new FOX reality dating show More To Love last night. It appears that thanks to Hulu, I can find ways to unproductively use my time even without a TV in my home (see Exhibit A: Momma’s Boys).
After watching the premiere (full episode here), here are my thoughts.
1. It’s unnecessary to list each woman’s height and weight below her name. I doubt that many women (whether they are a 6 or a 16) would want their personal information to be put on TV for the world to see.

2. Luke seems like a nice-enough guy, but 20 cute ladies + 1 single man basking in their attention = the balance of power is dangerously off.

3. The first girl out of the limo, Malissa, looked gorgeous in a deep cut blue sheath. And she’s studied abroad in Paris. Forget Luke, I’m a little smitten myself.

4. The rings. Oh my. The rings that signify “Luke’s promise to get to know each of the woman for who they really are”. Call me old-fashioned, but I thought there were engagement rings (i.e. you are engaged to be married), and maybe promise rings (i.e. you are making a promise to get engaged in the future). What do these rings represent then? Although… this can be a new marketing opportunity for jewelers: “A Promise To Get to Know You” ring, anyone?

5. The script about the rings. Luke: “Will you wear this ring?” Lady: “I will!” Luke said, “the future Mrs. Conley might be in this room.” I get it .There’s no need to knock us over the head with the obvious SYMBOLISM of the ring ceremony.

6. The giving back of the rings and the regiving of the rings. It’s mean for the ladies to have to give back their rings, then wait for it to be re-given. I prefer Bachelorette’s rose ceremony. At least the Bachelor ladies aren’t handed out a rose only to have to give them back.

7. The rocket scientist who kept apologizing to Luke about her rocket scientist job. I was bummed she was sent home (I hope it’s not because Luke was intimidated by her). But I hope she knows that she should never apologize for her intelligence. A man who “loves you for who you truly are” will be proud and supportive of your accomplishments.

8. It makes me sad to hear a girl say that this show is her ONE chance at love, or something along those lines. That’s a lot of stock to put in a guy you’ve met once (and has 19 other girls competing for him). 

9. Reality dating shows remind me of group interviews, except a thousand times worse.

In a group interview, an applicant wears a suit and heels and tries to both play nice with fellow candidates and stand out from the crowd to attract the attention of the hiring manager.

In a reality dating show, a participant wears a party dress and tries to both play nice with fellow contestants and stand out from the crowd to attract the attention of the hiring manager man of the moment.

In a group interview, your prize will be the job you wanted. In a reality dating show, your prize is a relationship that past experience has shown will last a month after the show wraps up filiming (to be fair, except for Trista and Ryan).

10. I’d really like to see reality dating shows discuss the issues of money in relationships. But I guess that’s too boring of a topic for TV. But putting a bunch of people in a fancy mansion with no worries about money doesn’t quite seem like a “realistic” way to begin a relationship.

Have anyone seen More To Love? What are your thoughts?


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A few years ago a book came out titled “The Surrendered Wife” by Laura Doyle. The book caught on very quickly due to its controversial premise, i.e. that the key to a happy marriage is for the woman to “surrender” to the designated head-of-household, the husband. This surrendering would also entail that the wife hand over all financial decisions to her husband.

I read so much about the book (alternately skewered and praised) in articles and op-eds that I had to read it just to see what the notoriety was about.  

Here’s a Publisher’s Weekly review on the book:  “[Doyle’s]…main point is that when she criticized, nagged and tried to control her husband, the marriage suffered; but when she “surrendered,” letting him do things his way and make decisions for the family, he rose to the occasion, becoming a responsible and loving husband and making her feel protected and cared for.”

While I agree that overly-controlling wives spouses (after all, control issues can exist in men and women) aren’t good for a healthy marriage, I couldn’t agree with the book’s practical applications. Cede all financial decision-making authority?? A shudder crept up my spine when I read that part. I have to admit that that advice very likely biased me against the rest of the book. 

However, I have applied Ms. Doyle’s principles of, er, surrendering to another part of my life…


I’ve been taking classes weekly, and it’s truly one of the highlights of my week. A good salsa is like a great conversation – energetic, provocative, interesting, fun. I wonder how many classes I have to take before I am confident enough to go dance at a salsa club…

When I first started dancing, I had a tendency to anticipate choreographed steps . I’d get thrown off if the Lead improvises or does something differently than what the teacher had demonstrated. So instead of dancing WITH a partner, I was dancing TO a choreography.

Needless to say, dancing with a (good) partner is so more fun than memorizing steps. Now, I make a real effort to be more conscious of the Lead’s positioning and more responsive to his guidance.

You know what this means… if a couple does something wrong in salsa, it’s all the guy’s fault!

I’ve been fortunate to dance with some very good Leads in my classes, and a couple of not-so-great ones. The best part about dancing as a girl is the experience of dancing with a good Lead – someone who gently but firmly guides you through the moves so that you know exactly what you’re supposed to do, and you have enough time to display your own flair in the dance. 

When I danced with more experienced Leads, sometimes I do turns and crossovers and I don’t even know how I did them! When the Lead is good, the Follow looks great, and everything flows.  With all the emphasis on “leadership” in this world (ahem, bschools?!), I’m more than happy to “surrender” to the art of followership in this aspect of my life.

Besides, I’d much rather be a surrendered salsera than a surrendered wife. 😉

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*Inspired by listening to country songs while working late
**I know, many people don’t like country music. To those, I ask, whyyy? 😛

1. Troubadour (George Strait) – “Sometimes I feel like Jesse James, still trying to make a name. Knowing nothing’s change, what I am. I was a young troubadour when I rode in on a song. I’ll be an old troubadour, when I’m gone.”

2. Startin’ With Me (Jake Owen) – “I let a woman that I loved slip through my fingers, chalked another dumb move up to my foolish pride. I wasn’t there standing by the bed, when the preacher bowed his head. With the family, the day my grandma died.”

3. Every Time I Hear Your Name (Keith Anderson) – “I know I can’t go back, but I still go back. There we are, parked down by the riverside. And I’m in your arms, about to make love for first time. And that’s all it takes. And I’m in that place. Every time I hear your name.”

4. As Good As I Once Was (Toby Keith) – “I ain’t as good as I once was. I’ve got a few years on me now. But there was a time, back in my prime, when I can really lay it down. If you need some love tonight, then I might have just enough. I ain’t as good as I once was, but I’m as good once as I ever was.”

5. Picture (Kid Rock ft. Sheryl Crow) – “I’ve been waiting on you for a long time, fueling up on heartaches and cheap wine, I ain’t heard from you in three damn nights. I put your picture away. I wonder where you’ve been. I can’t look at you while I’m lying next to him.”

6. I Wonder (Kellie Pickler) – “Oh I hear the weather’s nice in California. There are sunny skies as far as the eye can see. If you ever come back home to Carolina, I wonder what you’d say to me.”

What’re your favorite country songs? Add a snippet of the lyrics too, if you don’t mind. 🙂

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(500) Days of Summer

Saw the movie today… if you have a chance to go see it, go!

Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Tom Hansen) and Zooey Deschanel (Summer Finn) make an adorable couple. But don’t get your heart set on their happy ending, because, as the narrator warns you at the beginning of the movie – “this is not a love story.”

The back-and-forth and the ups-and-downs are accompanied by zany sidekicks and a preternaturally insightful kid sister. It’s funny and light-hearted at times, but at others – it speaks to harsh truths of life as an young adult in a big city where possibilities seem to be zooming by you.

(500) Days, in my mind, is really a story about twentysomethings finding their way in the personal and professional sphere. It’s about the discoveries you make as you grow up – that love might not be all that you’ve expected, that following your passion (be it a person or a career) means risking rejection, that life is filled with moments that are inexplicably glorious and undeservedly cruel.

(500) Days is not just a love story. It’s a life story. I think Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s performance really made this movie. And I’m not just saying that because I have a small crush on Mr. Gordon-Levitt.

If you saw this movie, what’d you think?

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A Lot Like Love

Tonight, I watched A Lot Like Love starring Ashton Kutcher and Amanda Peet.

(spoiler coming up)

Towards the end of the movie, Ashton’s character was talking to his brother about his sad status in life: he’s almost 30, unemployed, and living with his parents. His life looks nothing like how he envisioned it would be seven years ago. He has fallen in love with Amanda’s character, but he has promised himself that he wouldn’t pursue a relationship until “all his ducks are lined up”.

Then his brother said (or signed – he’s deaf) something very wise:

“This is your life. Right now. It doesn’t wait for you to get back on your feet.”

How many of us given up on being happy or fulfilled because something that we expect haven’t happened yet, or because our relationship or career or financial status isn’t where we wanted to be? I’ve been guilty of this – I’ve said, I’ll be happy when XYZ happens. But life doesn’t stop until you get all your ducks in a row. And even after you get your ducks in a row, you’re probably eager to get more ducks to add to your row until you achieve (the illusive state of) total duck domination.

…Anyhow, that line in the movie just made me think about what we put off, what we work for, and how we try to find happiness through achievement or acqusition. Like most PF bloggers, I think I take good care of my finances, but it’s equally important to take care of my personal well-being. Because life doesn’t stop while you’re trying to figure out your relationship or career, or pay down debt, or get into school, or save for a house.

On another note, I don’t know why I’ve been seeing so much wisdom in so pop-culture lately. In the past few posts, I’ve written on Britney Spears, Twilight, and now A Lot Like Love.

Now you can all judge me for my choice of music, book, and movies. But I’d appreciate it if you didn’t. 🙂 Besides, it’s just not as fun tying The Scarlet Letter or Mrs. Dalloway to Some Bigger Picture. It’d seem too much like school.

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Last Twilight post

Okay – this will be my last Twilight detour, I promise!

(might have spoilers below)

So today I borrowed Twilight and Breaking Dawn from a girlfriend. I thought that Breaking Dawn seemed so convoluted that I didn’t really bother to read all of it, just enough to get the happily-ever-after, vampire-style. As a fast reader and a ruthless skimmer, I pretty quickly went through Twilight‘s 400+ pages.

Stephanie Meyers really hit on a captivating storyline – I was very intrigued by the whole premise of the Edward-Bella (vampire-human) love story. But all the way I keep thinking, I really wish there was more character development (at the risk of sounding like an English teacher), especially in Bella.

I can’t really understand the love story between Bella and Edward – why does she love him so much? How can we tell it’s different from teenage infatuation? She is intoxicated by his physical beauty, and is grateful that he protects her… but what else? The love story seems a little more believable from Edward’s standpoint, only because he’s had 90 years as a vampire to understand himself (and really, who knows about vampires? Meyers’ characterization can be just as right as anybody else’s) – but Bella? I get the chemistry, I get the attraction, I just see Bella’s feelings for Edward as more passionate infatuation than deep, abiding love.

To be fair, although Meyers didn’t go into much of what happens after Bella becomes a vampire, it’s conceivable how her passion for Edward could develop into long-lasting love – whether bound by their experiences as vampires, or that they now have a baby, or that they will grow old stay young and unnaturally beautiful together.

But then again, Romeo and Juliet didn’t have time to develop a great, lasting, deep and abiding love either. Obviously, in fiction, lasting love is not necessary for the makings of a Great Love.

The best love story I’ve seen in a long time, portrayed by Hollywood, actually comes from Up. The first part of the movie is the best – bring tissues. Because you will tear up. (I spent the first 15 minutes of the movie trying to hold back tears because I will not cry in an animated movie!)

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I’ve never actually read the Twilight series. I skimmed a couple of the books at Barnes & Noble, but never quite dove in. Last night, however, I stayed up until 3AM watching Twilight the movie.

People enjoy Twilight for different reasons. For most, it’s the love story. After all, Bella and Edward make Romeo and Juliet look pedestrian – what’s some familial fighting compared to insatiable bloodlust? Romeo never wanted to desanguinate Juliet!

I think I’ve just discovered why Twilight speaks to me.

Not because of the vampire-human love story. But because of Bella’s certainty. She was certain that she wanted to be with Edward forever and she was certain she would become a vampire to be with him (I didn’t spoil anything, did I?). The best part of the fact that your boyfriend is a vampire? It’s only one decision. You will have to make one monumental decision (to become a vampire!) but afterward you’re done. You’ve decided your life. There is no room for second-guessing. Now all you have to do is to sit back, relax, and enjoy eternity with your undead beloved (and occasionally dabble in internecine vampire fighting).

Twentysomethings today, especially women, have been told from an young age that they can do anything. But the opportunity to do anything is, on the flip side, the pressure to do everything. There are no certainties about one’s path. No matter what decision you make, there will always be more. Like other young adults, I appreciate the freedom I have – I do. But sometimes the plethora of choices can prove exhausting.

This is the situation Barry Schwartz described in the Paradox of Choice (great video of Schwartz’s talk at the 2007 TED conference): choice is supposed to be the underpinning of individual automony and happiness, but having too many choices can cause 1. analysis paralysis and 2. dissatisfaction with the chioce you’ve made (it’s easy to imagine that you could’ve made a different choice that would be better). 

Life is a matter of choice on all fronts – consumer choices, career, family, relationships. This is what 20s are like. You’re trying to get ahead, to be prepared, to make the best choices to set yourself up for happiness and success at home and at work. There are so many decisions, and by extension, so much room for second-guessing.

Sometimes I feel energized by the possibilities that are laid out before me. Other times, I find myself wishing for a little bit more certainty. It’s a feeling I expect I’ll have to work through – for the rest of my twenties and beyond. After all, no vampire is coming for this girl.

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Tech cravings

Growing up, I’ve never been very techie, nor have I been an early-adapter of any kind. I was the last kid in my middle school class to have AIM. I didn’t get a cell phone until senior year of high school. I don’t have an iPhone. My computer is 5 years old.

Ironically, even though this is a personal finance blog, and even though I’ve never particularly chased after any tech trends, I have now fallen to a dangerous case of tech cravings… for the netbook!

This model, in particular. Ruby Red.


Small, light, decent battery life, powerful enough for blogging, twittering, web search, and the like. The $350 price is a lot easier for my pf-brain to accept than $1,000 for a traditional laptop (although I will need one in the next couple of years). It also doesn’t hurt (at all) that this little netbook is adorable.

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Fans of Domino know that Conde Nast announced the decor magazine’s demise in January and published the last issue of Domino this month. New York Times even ran an article on it.

Well, guess what? I snagged a copy of the March 2009 issue at my local Walgreens ($3.50).


I only discovered Domino a few months ago, and was ready to become a subscriber. Now that the magazine will be no more, I kind of wish I would’ve subscribed since the beginning. Then I can cut and clip and make a giant My Domino scrapbook. Oh well.

The last paid subscription I had was the Wall Street Journal Online during college, but now that I’m finally ready to make a commitment to a “fun” magazine, Domino is gone.

Perhaps Real Simple or Lucky can fill the void.

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My room style could be called “updated vintage” – imagine Anthropologie-like romantic features without excessive girlyness. If I gave up my Roth IRA contribution, I could get my whole room from Anthropologie, and maybe add a dash or two of West Elm for balance.


(Pictured above is a bed that I can’t afford that would look absolutely lovely in an apartment with 10-feet ceilings that I don’t have.)

Back to reality… spending loads of money on furniture and decor really isn’t in the cards right now. Still, I want to create a comfortable, enjoyable, and dare I say, stylish space (which, I think I have. With varying levels of success depending on the varying levels of messiness in my room).

So here’s what I did:

1. Compile a “style file” to find out what kind of colors, pictures, and styles I like.

I have a personal journal that I paste clips of magazine pictures or notecards from anywhere and everywhere. A graphic advertisement notecard from Merck, clippings from Travel & Leisure magazine, pictures of a Seattle boutique, etc. I also peruse Apartment Therapy.

After while, I noticed a theme: I like neutrals with pops of color. I like comfortable (mid-century Swedish might look amazing, but I just can’t live in it). I like dashes of red or aubergine. I like details. I love a good duvet.

2. Look for cheaper alternatives in a similar style.
I love the iron-wrought beds featured in Anthropologie, Pottery Barn, and Crate & Barrel. I love the scrolls and the nobs. But no money = no C&B.

When I first bought my bed, I found the Halingby headboard & frame (since discontinued) from IKEA for only $80! That’s a quarter of what a frame would’ve cost me at another, more upscale store. The frame is less fancy and I’m sure the quality is reflected in the price, but the style is very similar for the picture I’m trying to create.

3. Keep “foundational” colors basic and make “accent” colors stand out.
My furniture are divided into two camps: white, or black. The black pieces are larger and “anchors” my space (I find the look of an all-white bedroom too colorless for my taste), while the white furniture brightens up the room. It’s also much easier to find these basic colors.

4. Paint!
Paint is often the cheapest way to change the look of a room or a piece of furniture. I really, really wanted a white secretary desk (graceful and feminine, I imagined).

Instead, I found a $10 IKEA desk on Craigslist, lugged it home, and painted it white. Not quite a secretary, but it will do for now. I can’t paint my bedroom because, well, it’s a rental, but at many places you can check with your landlord and they’ll let you paint. Although, I’ve gotten quite fond of my white walls…

5. Check out Craigslist, yard sales, thrift stores, and flea markets.
I got my nightstand at a yard-sale for $10. This is also where the “style file” comes in handy – if you know what you’re looking for, or an idea of what would work in your room, it’d be much easier to walk away from “bargains” that doesn’t fit your style. I got a gorgeous pewter lamp shade for $6 at a local Goodwill.

If you are in the Bay Area, check out Alameda Flea Market. If you are in the LA area, check out the Rose Bowl Flea Market.

6. Picked up cute accent pieces at Ross, Marshalls, or TJ Maxx
These stores are great for discounted desk accessories, french fabric boards, and notecards and stationery. I got three sets of 6 satin padded hangers for $5 a set. I’ve also gotten a black & white memory board that fit perfectly with my color scheme for $6.

7. Declutter!
Too many knickkacks will look messy and hapazard. The key is to keep a small cluster of pieces similar in color (and maybe structure – a group of vases in various shades of blue, for example) or one statement piece (a large, deep, red bowl), and then that’s IT!

I had to resist the urge to add to my knickkacks, but I think my room is better for it.

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