For now…

I’ll be back, but for now, you can find me on my personal blog: Conta[GIO]us.

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Missing: Nancy Salas

Glendale Police are looking for missing UCLA student, Nancy Salas. I don’t think I knew her personally, but apparently, I’ve been in school clubs wit her when I was at UCLA. I pray for her safe return and for God to strengthen her family during this time.

Anyone with information can call the Glendale Police Department at 818-548-4911

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The Name Game–Because I Can’t Say Yours

When I usually meet someone for the first time, I say, “Hello. My name is Giovanny. What’s yours?” No pick up lines. No game. Just a straight out greeting. I don’t often have the convenience of a name tag, but it usually is a good opening to talk to someone new. There’s an idea that when you give a little of something, the other person will give something back. So when I give someone my name, I’d expect the other person to give me theirs.

Names. I love my name, although it wasn’t always so. Imagine being the Indonesian kid with an Italian name where every other Indonesian kid had American names or Indonesian ones. So I got names on my mind.

It was just 45 years ago that Shirley Ellis released her hit, “The Name Game,” an addictive fun naming rhyme song.

It was just 10 years ago that Destiny’s Child released their hit, “Say My Name,” a song about a cheating boyfriend.

It was just 5 years ago that Eminem released his hit, “My Name is,” a song about  introducing himself to the world.

It was just last year that the Ting Tings release their hit, “That’s Not My Name,” a song about a guy who can’t remember the girlfriend’s name, probably because he’s been cheating on her.

Whatever the case, names are important. It’s part of your identity–it can say a lot about who you are and where you are from or how interesting your parents are. For example, some celebrities give their children the most bizarre names. I mean who names their child Kal-El? Apple? Tu? And gives an Italian name to their Indonesian son? *Sigh* My mom.

Names can help put your name in the door, especially when they’re unique. Or, they can be as common as “John” (I apologize if I’ve offended anyone by that name). Names have important meaning, often what your parents hope that you will aspire to be or what you already are. For example, my name means, “God is gracious.” My mom decided on “Giovanny” because I was born on her birthday. Thus, God is gracious because I was her birthday present.

And for the rest who hate their names, there’s always the choice of changing it. Just ask Sean Combs. Sean Puff Daddy Combs. Puff Daddy. P. Diddy. Sean John Combs. I forgot what he’s going by now. Or you can be as unique as adding a dollar sign to your name, lie KE$HA. Or, you can go ridiculous as that UK teenager who legally changed his name to Captain Fantastic Faster Than Superman Spiderman Batman Wolverine Hulk And The Flash Combined or the guy named Lord Jesus Christ.  We do strange things sometimes.

What’s the story of your name? What does it mean?

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Oh 24

 I’ve been trying to prevent myself from turning 24, trying to tell the sun not to shine tomorrow, to be locked in an infinite loop or at least skip the 8th of May. Birthdays used to be fun, but since my sister died, it’s a painful reminder that I celebrate one more year without her. God, has it really been almost 3 complete years?

People say that time heals all wounds. I don’t think that’s how it works. Sure, the wound may get closed, but I think it can easily open up again and get infected. And if it doesn’t open up again, then it heals into a scar. And scars remind you about where you’ve been, what you’ve survived. I think I’m at this scar stage. I know my sister’s in a better place, but it still doesn’t cover up the fact that there are events I feel I’ve missed out on: her prom, her graduation, etc. How selfish of me to use the word “I.”

So now, the 8th of May has finally arrived. It marks the 3rd year without her. And I am now 24. I’ve gained another year of life, of experience, and hopefully, of wisdom—I’m thankful to God.

Still I’m singing Spirit take me up in arms with You
And I’m not who I thought I was twenty four hours ago
Still I’m singing Spirit take me up in arms with You

There’s an exercise that I do whenever I get so emo. At least, I try to remember to do it. I think about all the thinks God has blessed me with and so it makes this birthday much more bearable. It’s not a complete list—I don’t think I can count ALL God’s blessings—He blesses us abundantly.

  1. I’m thankful for my parents who continue to support me in all that I do, especially through prayer.
  2. I’m thankful that I graduated from my dream school-UCLA.
  3. I’m thankful that God provided me with an awesome accountability partner who has quickly become my best friend.
  4. I’m thankful for amazing friends.
  5. I’m thankful that I’m able to use my talents.
  6. I’m thankful for church and fellowship.
  7. I’m thankful that I’m part of a group that wants to defeat the horrors of human and sex trafficking.

There’s so much to be thankful for…

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Film Fridays: “The Losers”

Apparently, this year’s movie trend is the macho guy–team movies, far from the “Oceans 11” series (had to throw that reference. See trailer and you’ll know why).  I’m serious, there’s a formula: The Alpha male (the leader); his team of extraordinary gentlemen who each specialize in something, whether it be gathering intelligence, sharp shooting, or knife throwing; the one beautiful girl, who is usually with the Alpha male; and there’s the bad guy. The Alpha male and his team of extraordinary gentlemen are framed for something and they must do what they can to clear their names. And that usually involves a lot of ass kicking. Yes, this sounds a lot like “The Losers.” You won’t get disappointed there. But it also sounds a lot like the upcoming “The Expendables” and “The A Team.”

What I Expected

I expected lots of action and lots of people dying from flying bullets or fist fighting.

What It’s About

The Losers are a team of elite soldiers on a mission in Bolivia. They are framed for a heinous crime and must go silent to recover. A mysterious girl shows up to help the Losers clear their names, but she has an agenda of her own.

You’ll Like

The One Liners – It’s an action movie with some comic relief thrown in.

Chris Evans – he’s hilarious. In this movie, he brings a lot of that charm and laughs that he brought to Johnny Storm (“Fantastic Four”). And to think he’ll soon be playing badass Captain America.

Zoe Saldana – She’s hot–didn’t think she could pull off a killer because of her body type. She proved me wrong. However, I couldn’t help but see her as her Avatar character as she fought the bad guys.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan – he’s no Johnny Ocean, but he definitely has some on-screen chemistry with Saldana.

The Action Scenes – Did I mention this was an action movie?

You’ll Dislike

The Comic Book Mix – yes, it’s a movie based on a comic book, but it holds its own as an action movie. I didn’t like how they cut into comic book mode when they introduced the characters.

The Main Villain – come on, can you please be more evil. The character is just a narcissist with a temper and a trigger finger. Can you do more things, please?

The Plot Line – it’s an okay plot, but I wish there was more to it.

The Character Development – I like how they introduce the audience to some of the main character’s families–it humanizes for killing all those people. But I wish there was more developed.

The Cheesy Music – There are some slow motion scenes where the Losers wear sunglasses and walk out of a building looking all badass. But the music…jeesh. It only made the scene cheesy and corny. I don’t like cheese on my corn. I don’t like cheesy corn period.

Rating

I’d give it 3.5 stars out of 5. It was a great action movie for what it was–it definitely delivered. But it lacked the emotional character development as well as a great plot. The Losers aren’t exactly losers, but they aren’t exactly winners with this film either.

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Affecting Communities with 58-12 Design Lab

One of the best things about my college experience was it jump-started my passion in helping others. I found that my apathy quickly dissipated when I got out of my comfort bubble. I learned about Alzheimer’s disease and how it affected not just the individual, but the entire family. I learned about the homeless sleeping on the benches of Santa Monica’s 3rd Street Promenade and on the floor of Los Angeles’s infamous Skid Row. I learned about human and sex trafficking that not only occurs around the world, but even in my neck of the woods. But it’s not enough to know something–something must be done.

College exposed me to a variety of ways I can help my community or make some impact in the world. When Hurricane Katrina hit or even as most recent as the earthquake in Haiti, college students across the country volunteered their time, even sacrificing their Spring Break to help those in need. You see, college supposedly trains you in life to be upstanding citizens. But it is utilizing what you learn in the classroom into the real world that shows

Most people after they graduate get a job or go for more school. Some even get married. There’s noting wrong with which path you choose. But that’s usually when the spirit of apathy comes stumbling back, telling you that what you’re doing doesn’t matter. Sure, you can’t save everyone, but you can definitely save one person at a time. Well, for Jonathan Crisman, Melanie Young, and Thomas Yung, the passion for helping others never left. Together they formed the 58-12 Design Lab, dedicated in integrating design that would affect communities in positive ways. But they first need your help. It takes less than 2 minutes. Vote for their project on Pepsi’s Refresh Project .

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The Art of Seduction Is A Piece of Cake

You know, you can learn a lot about life from watching a Season 8 episode of  NBC’s “The Biggest Loser.” You’re rolling your eyes saying, “Thank you Captain Obvious. The moral of the show is that we have an obesity problem in America.” And I would respond kindly, “Yep, there’s that, but that’s just the fat of it. Forgive the pun. You need to go deeper to get to the meat of the problem.”

Temptation. The word basically means the quality of seduction. I find the Temptation Challenges on “The Biggest Loser” quite entertaining and down-right educating. The first Temptation Challenge changes the weight loss competition into a all-out strategy game. The contestants stood behind silver platters. When they open the platters, a single cupcake is revealed containing 100 calories. Whoever eats the most cupcakes gets to manipulate which team would fall below the yellow line at final weigh in. However, the team who wins the challenge still has to work hard to not fall bellow the yellow line, or it would be a waste of strategy. Oh, and whoever wins the challenge would not receive any help from trainers to lose weight. To put it simply, to eat the cupcake, or not eat the cupcake? That is the question. Only two gave in to the temptation as piles of cupcake are added to each contestant’s silver platter- Antoine from the red team ate one cupcake, while Tracey ate four. She “wins” the temptation.

When I saw this, I had to laugh. This is ridiculous? Tempting people with cupcakes? That’s so easy to resist. But it isn’t. I forgot the context of the situation, and who is being tempted. For someone who enjoys food and eats cupcakes like breathing air, this was quite a challenge. Addiction is challenging. I remembered my own addiction to Starbucks frappes and how I tried so hard to give it up for 40 days, only to fail on the 20th day. When the temptation was presented to me, the smell of a Chai frappe floating through the air, floating towards me–I remembered the fun times I had sipping on my Starbucks frappes. And my body remembered too, craving it. That’s what temptation is, right? Seduction. Reminds you of what you’re missing out on, what you can’t have, what you had, and essentially, what you could have for the taking. It’s right there in front of you, welcoming you, calling out your name. It messes with your mind. Temptation is easy; withstanding it is the hard part.

Lately, I’ve been craving cupcakes, but not just any cupcake. RED VELVET CUPCAKES! My mouth is watering just typing the words down. I can taste it now, the vanilla cream cheese with a dash of red sprinkles touching my taste buds. And I’m not the only one. Everyone and their mother have been wanting cupcakes, whether it be red velvet cupcakes, I do not know.  In this down economy, the cupcake industry has been steadily growing between 2006 and 2008 and still growing now. Gee, that’s about time the economy started going down. But why the increase when the economy isn’t tasting good? Apparently, cupcakes are nostalgic foods and comfort foods. Cupcakes bring people back to when life was much simpler and better (nostalgia) and when they eat the cupcake, it makes them feel a whole lot better about themselves and their situation (comfort). It’s as if all the stresses of the world disappear while you’re eating a cupcake.

Living in Los Angeles, I love Sprinkles Cupcakes (located in Beverly Hills). They sell about 5,000 cupcakes a day. And though the cupcakes may be a bit pricey (hey, they got to pay the Beverly Hills rent somehow), their cupcakes are worth it! Not only are they delicious, but you can also customize it if you want–find a cupcake that matches your nostalgia and comfort.

So with that, I send you off with a Sprinkles Strawberry Cupcake recipe located via Martha Stewart, the Queen of Conventional Cooking and Arts and Crafts. And send a cupcake or two my way. I’m great at testing food.
What’s your favorite cupcake? What’s your favorite cupcake bakery?

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