Thursday, January 12, 2012

Some Light Entertainment

I managed to squeeze in some downtime between plotting world domination (phase 1: elaborate graphs), hacking up my lungs, and emotional eating. Dear readers, I share with you some stuff that entertained me this holiday season:

#1: It will make you go, "Ooooh" -- Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die (2007)

Brothers Chip and Dan Heath take a break from teaching business to tell us about stickiness, a concept that they attribute to my very favorite author, Malcolm Gladwell, and by "very favorite" I mean "his very name makes me sneer in disdain." Made to Stick uses a lot of examples from the advertising, business, and urban myth worlds to make their argument that "sticky" ideas can be taught. My favorite example was the "Don't mess with Texas" ad campaign that proved effective in reducing roadside litter, by having Texas celebrities play on Texans' identity as non-litterbugs.

The authors' handy mnemonic tool is the acronym SUCCES(s), which stands for Simple Unexpected Concrete Creditable Story(ies).

Like, one time, in Subic, my little cousin Jillie got her finger bitten by a monkey and blood gushed out and I could see her capillaries and monkeys are totally evil. Let's examine that event in the context of this book:

Simple: Cousin got bitten by a monkey.
Unexpected: A monkey! Don't they usually just fling poop at people?
Concrete: Blood gushed out, ugh.
Creditable: I was there. I totes saw it. It was awful.
Story: It is a true story.

Made to Stick is a fast read, even if you don't skip the bits where they take hilariously jargon-y paragraphs and whittle them down to their main ideas. I like it for their surprise sub-theme: you don't need to be creative. There will be many more creative ideas than yours. Instead, you need to be perceptive -- ya gotta know that an idea is profitable good as soon as you hear/see it.

What? I just need to be on the lookout for someone else's bright idea? Sign me up!

#2: The tension is killing me -- Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (2011)

Let's just say that at least one bag of popcorn would have perished while I gnashed my teeth at all the tense scenes. Helmed by director Brad Bird, Tom Cruise's latest foray into the world of action and impossible gadgets is a nail-biting romp. The spectacular stunts include an invigorating climb up the world's tallest building, which of course begs the question: uh, how do I get down from here?; sneaking past a guard using HD technology; and dead-accurate shooting while plummeting from a rooftop. The characters are more human this time around, with visible internal freaking out when presented with the certain possibility of extreme pain and/or death. My dear Simon Pegg gets all the laughs, and he has an exchange about magnets with the usually stoic Jeremy Renner that had us in stitches. The bad guy, played by icy-eyed Swedish actor Michael Nyqvist, aka the Man Who Got with the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2009 version), is a good villain -- competent and totally nuts. Oh, and spoiler alert: THE GOOD GUYS WIN ZOMG.

#3: Awwwww -- Rio (2011)

Full disclosure: I almost stopped the movie when all the damn birds started flying and singing in the opening scene, until I saw the cute widdle baby pawwot and went all gooey on the inside. Okay, the main character isn't a parrot, he's a blue macaw voiced by Jesse Eisenberg who ends up in Minnesota after being smuggled from his home country. He is found and then raised as a pet (or companion, as he would argue) by a local gal (Leslie Mann). And then comes a cute Brazilian bird specialist proclaiming that they must go back to Rio, because how else will the title have thematic impact? Just kidding. To save his species, the dorky bird must get it on with the fiery Jewel (Anne Hathaway), who proves more than a match for him. They get birdnapped from the research facility, chained together, and hilarity ensues! Rio is a terrific film where everything stands out: the voice acting, the animation, and the music. Sure, the plot is thin like that chick with huge eyebags who plays the assassin in the latest Mission Impossible, but like Made to Stick suggests, simple works. Highly recommended!

The weekend is almost here! We can make it!