Saturday, January 29, 2011

If you think our medical system needs fixing ...

From the blog of Dr. Huang who is currently over in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Throw Off The Bowlines: A Tale of Two Hospitals: "Recently, I was able to go on a tour of two of the hospitals in Siem Reap.  One is the Angkor Hospital for Children (AHC) for which The..."

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Things to do when you're bored

This is my yearbook photo if I had graduated in 1964.

I like it.

Makes me look intelligent and conservative, destined to sell insurance and marry my high school sweetheart.

Oh, the time you can waste on a phone.

-- Posted from my iPhone

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Lesbian Canyon

This morning I decided to hike Lesbian Canyon. That's not the official name--that's what I call it because there are lots of women who walk here in twos. My guess is that they are either mommies or desperate housewives hiking the trail in the earlier part of the day.  There may be a celebrity here and there but it's hard to tell because everyone wears those oversized sunglasses that make them look like bugs.

And most of the women are in incredibly good shape, probably capable of kicking my ass if they wanted to. And if they knew what I was saying about them, they probably would.

The canyon is in Studio City which is in the valley part of LA. It's an easy hike, the scenery is great and I feel like I'm far away from the crazy traffic of the 101 and the 405. The circuit takes about an hour to do which is just long enough to recharge the batteries.

These are pretty crappy pictures.  I think it's time to upgrade my iPhone.

And if you're wondering how to get here, I've included a map below.  The official name is Fryman Canyon.

View Larger Map

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Blue Valentine will make your eyes bleed

I know when it's Oscar season because the depressing movies come out which are well respected because of the acting but are secretly hated because they make you feel so shitty when you come out of the theater.

If you don't agree with me, maybe you didn't see The Reader?  Or perhaps Revolution Road?  I did and I'm still bitter.

And for this year's most depressing category we have Blue Valentine.

It's the story of a couple whose marriage is over but the husband still tries to pick up the pieces and recreate a love that existed when they first met.

Yes, it's well acted, certainly well enough to garner Oscar noms if not the Oscars for both Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling.  

But damnit, it's depressing, dreary stuff.  Does anyone really want to watch a crumbling marriage with no hope of recovery?  And it's very sloooooow moving.  At times, it feels like someone has an icepick that is slowly being pressed into your skull.

Overall, it won't get a recommendation from me.  There are much better examples of dysfunctional flat-lining relationship dramas such as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Leaving Las Vegas, two of my favorite movies of all time.

But just because I didn't enjoy it, doesn't mean that I can't have some fun with it.

So here are my recommended taglines for Blue Valentine.  I should get paid for this stuff.

If you've ever wanted to see extreme closeups of Ryan Gosling's nose, then watch this!

We show gratuitous titties!

The rip-your-eyeballs-out-of-your-face-because-this-is-so-depressing movie of the year!

Blue Valentine:  the movie where wide-angles are a crime!

A movie that proves that if you marry a loser, he will always be a loser!

Binge drinking can't cure this marriage!

Stay for the end credits because they're better than the movie!

If your love song sounds like a dying chipmunk, then your relationship probably is in trouble!

Drink beer all day and smoke like a chimney and you'll still have a sixpack!

And finally ...

Life sucks!

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Monday, January 17, 2011

The art of Boodles

Okay, I'll admit it.

I waste a lot of time on my iPhone but in many ways, it's like a high maintenance girlfriend; it demands my attention.  And it's an expensive damn thing.  I never thought I would be paying about $100 a month for a fancy phone but that's what I do month after month.  In return, my iPhone entertains, informs, keeps me organized and occasionally takes calls.  It has never broken down and I have little fear of it running away with anyone else.  Sadly, I'm thinking about trading it in for a newer model but for right now, this relationship is tight.

If you've never been in one of these relationships, you may not know how cool apps (or applications) are.  I especially like the apps for photo manipulation and I have several that I use on a regular basis.  They won't turn you into a master manipulator but when you're hanging out in the doctor's office or eating lunch or even driving down the 405 at rush hour, it's a lot of fun to turn your friends into vampires or comic book characters.

And since I am a generous and caring individual, I have decided to show you which ones I like the most.

To start, I had to take a picture of Boodles, the clinic cat who is a most wise feline.  If you look into her eyes, she will read your mind.  And then she will screw with it.

Because she can.

Meet Boodles.

So first up, we have ...


This is a really neat program that is especially useful around Halloween.  After you align the eyes to the template, you make your subject into a crazy horror show and the results can be amazingly realistic.  If you manipulate the image too much, you risk losing all the features of the original photo and then the results aren't quite as cool.  Choose add-ons from zombies, vampires, witches, frankenthings, werewolves, demons and ghastly ghouls.  

Some pictures can be quite graphic and not suitable for the young-uns.  

Highly recommended ***** 

Fluid FX

Ever wanted to turn someone's face into GOO.  Well, now is your chance.  With a swipe of your finger, you can make their eyes go this way and that way and turn their mouth into a curvy sneer.  

There are lots of ways to manipulate the images with this program but it never seems to be as much fun as it should be.  The program also includes video effects with dramatic names like Armageddon but they don't seem to hold my interest either.  

I paid money for this app and I still use it to impress kids and drunk friends but otherwise, I don't pull it out that often. 

Fair  **


If you're waiting for someone or something (and you don't think you'll be waiting for toooooo long), this is a good way to pass the time.  

After taking a picture or opening up a photo from your gallery, you can draw all over it.  Add a caption, a squiggle, or a "stamp" which is a fun little graphic that makes a cute noise when you apply it to the image.  

This isn't high art we're making here.  Very cartoon-y stuff and worth exactly what I paid for it.  ($0)  

Good ***

Mobile Monet

This is a good example of an app which I wish I could use in photoshop.  With the right picture, the results can be pretty amazing.  

First it transforms your image into a black and white photo and then you can add in varying degrees of color.  Sometimes you need to play around with the image to get it exactly right but almost any image can be enhanced with this app.  

Highly recommended *****


Very similar to Mobile Monet (and I think it is from the same developers), we have ColorBlast.  The image below of Boodles doesn't quite do this app justice but it allows you to add color to black and white photos.  And then you can change the color.  

There is a bit of a learning curve here and some photos are more appropriate than others for this type of manipulation but this app is well worth the trial-and-error time. 

Highly recommended ***** 

Camera Bag

This was one of the first photo apps that I downloaded and I use it from time-to-time.  

It takes an image and with the swipe of a finger, it will generate a series of manipulated thumbnails with names such as Cinema, 1974, 1962, Mono, Silver and Instant.  

Hmmmm, kinda cool but I always seem a little disappointed with the results.  Some of the thumbnails are a little too similar to each other and some manipulations are just plain ugly and unusable.  

Fair **

Photoshop Express

When will we see the day when they can put a fully functional photoshop program on an iPhone?  

In the meantime, we have this very cool app that does quite a bit.  Crop, straighten, rotate or flip an image.  Change the exposure, increase the saturation or turn it to black and white.  Add effects or a border, it's up to you.  

It's also very handy for adding some finishing touches on images that I have manipulated with other programs. 

I wish it could do more (give me more!!) and maybe one day it will, but until then I am quite satisfied.  

Highly recommended *****  

Movie Costume

If you've always wanted to dress your friends up in a big yellow bird hat, then this is the program for you.  

I really like this app because it is silly and funny and very easy to use.  You simply take an image of someone and accessorize it with hats, hair, jewelry and costumes.  The results aren't terribly realistic (I like the picture of my friend's cat wearing a Geisha outfit) but who cares when you're having this much goofy fun?  

Highly recommended ***** 

Faces Wild

There isn't much to it.  Simply choose a scene and then add a face and voila, you have FACES WILD!

For a Faces Wild Boodles edition, I chose to have her inserted into Edvard Munch's The Scream.  This took all of 15 seconds and I have clearly created a masterpiece.  

I have the free version and so the scenes are rather limited.  I can't quite bring myself to spending money on the expanded app.  Cute but not quite cute enough.  

Good ***


A really cool app that is very well designed.  It takes an image, turns it into a stylized graphic and then you add the color.  

Sometimes the graphic alone is impressive enough and I don't add in the color.  I manipulate the black and white areas to create some very bold images.  

For people who like their pinks and purples, this app can be quite "fiddly" if you want to color within the lines and it can take some time to get things right. I rarely have the patience to color in an entire image but most of the time, a little color goes a long way.  

Highly recommended *****

Thanks to Boodles for being such a great model!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


I've neglected my other blog for quite a while but I've finally given it some love. 

POPSITES is about filming locations in LA.  I go around and visit these locations, take some pictures and pretend that I'm part of the movie industry--just like anyone else who lives in LA.  It's so much fun. 

Click on the link below to check it out.  Please show it some love too :) 

POPSITES: Valley Girl (1983): "Has anyone seen the recent Nicholas Cage movie Season of the Witch? Anyone? Anyone? You can't fool us, Nic.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

New logo for the foundation!

We have a new logo for The Savong Foundation.  Thanks to Geoff Jenkins graphic design (, we now have the logo below: 

Our mission is to support the Savong School, the Savong Orphan Center and the development of projects which will bring long term benefits to the communities of northern Cambodia. 

Please join us on facebook for updated information!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Temples of the Children

When you're wandering around the temples of Cambodia, you are definitely going to run into children.  They are usually begging for money or trying to sell you a bottle of water and they can be VERY persistent.  If you try to ignore them, they will usually ask you where you are from. 

Who can resist a little kid asking about your background?   

So you answer ...

"Canada" or another common tourist country like Australia, England or the USA. 

And then they spill out a half-dozen facts about your country that you probably didn't even know about.

At that point, you are so amazed that you fork over a couple of bucks and buy their trinkets.  (At least, that is what they are hoping). 

I've been to Cambodia a couple of times now and most of the time, I LOVE to interact with the kids.  They are harmless, probably come from very rough backgrounds and after all, they are KIDS and I hate it when other tourists bat at them like they are pesky flies.  But sometimes, I'm really not in the mood to be bothered so when they ask me where I am from, here is what I reply: 


At which point, they get a blank look on their face and stumble away defeated. 

A lot of the time, the kids hang around outside the temples in small groups, keeping their eagle eyes out for a sweat-soaked tourist who might have an open wallet.  But sometimes, there are little kids hanging around the temples who just seem to be watching the world go by.  Who knows where these kids come from and in the case of the kid below, I'm not sure even what gender he or she was. 

These pictures were taken at the Preah Ko temple which is part of the Roulos group.  These temple pre-date Angkor Wat and are all quite small but still fascinating.  They are located just outside of Siem Reap, Cambodia.   

This little boy (I'm calling him a boy) was watching the tourists from behind a stone barrier. 

I asked my buddy Eddie (aka Reluctant Photography Model) to pose with him.  Eddie tried to get him to smile at the camera but it was unsuccessful for the most part and the kid really couldn't have cared less about what I was doing. 

Eddie was far more entertaining. 

I tried to take the little guy back to the US but the Cambodians have STRICT rules that nothing can be taken out of the temples. 

Oh well.

Saturday, January 1, 2011


2011, is this the beginning of a beautiful friendship? 

I hope so. 

For new year's eve, I was catching the aloha spirit down in Malibu at a restaurant called Duke's. The food was incredible, the service was amazing ... well, there are a lot of superlatives to describe this restaurant. It was a great time and as an added bonus, there was very little traffic to get down there. From North Hollywood to Malibu, it took me about 40 minutes. In Los Angeles, that ain't too bad.

2010 was a good year; I travelled to Canada, Cambodia (twice), and Las Vegas, met some cool new friends, moved to a bigger and nicer apartment, started The Savong Foundation which will benefit a community in Cambodia and I think I helped a lot of animals at the clinic where I work.  But I also lost my best furry friend, Dusty, who had to be euthanized at the age of 17 1/2 years.  That was tough, really tough.

For 2011, I have a lot of hope.  I know it's possible to start anew every single day but the start of a new year is very symbolic and I want to make the best of it.  I want The Savong Foundation to be successful, I want to travel as much as possible (Boston, Canada, and hopefully Cambodia are on the list), I want to get back at my writing (especially my screenwriting), I want to get another pet and I want to believe that everything good is possible. 

So, we'll see what happens.  Stay tuned. 

For anyone out there who is reading, I hope that you get what you dream about too.  Because dreaming is what makes us human and sometimes, sometimes, sometimes dreams do come true.