Valentine's Day (2.5 Out of 5)

Jean-Luc Godard once said that the best way to criticize a film is to make another one. Consider Valentine's Day anti-criticism. If Love Actually was like a great hits collection of all the warmest, funniest, wittiest, most tender moments in romantic comedy than Valentine's Day is the collection of the boring radio singles you can not end anymore that seem to already be on every other album you own. It's the pathetic record label cash grab: there's nothing new, there's nothing inspired, and there's no other reason to buy it without the thought of throwing money away to hear the same old songs for the hundred and one millionth time is compelling to you.

Valentine's Day is thus a bloated collection of big stars enacting cheesy scenes from bad movies you've already seen countless times over. They're the same songs, all in one convenient place, in a different order. When you think about it in those terms, that basically sums up the aesthetic ark of director Gary Marshall's career: to disguise mediocre fluff as grand entertainment with the help of big stars.

That's essentially the approach to Valentine's Day, which takes place over the course of a 24 hour period on February 14, and features not a single scene without, if not a big star, than a recognizable face. Some of them fall in love, some out, some with other people than they should, and some with other people that they should not, and the wheels on the bus go 'round and' round. Most of them, the adults anyway, will end up making a pit stop at an I Hate Valentine's Day party before racing off into the arms of true love after all. That's the difference between Britain's romantic comedy and America's: the British approach romance with a polite detachment, as if they must remember to bow to love before giving it in for dinner. American films are more bitter, cynical and shallow; as if love is something to be deal with before a grand revelation that leads straight to the cheesy, improbable happy endings.

Maybe I should describe the actors. Florist Ashton Kutcher (surprisingly likable) proposes to his girlfriend Jessica Alba, using a line dear ol 'dad taught him ("If you find a girl who looks too good for you, propose."). He's best friends with elementary school teacher Jennifer Garner who is with doctor boyfriend Patrick Dempsey, who may still have a wife in San Francisco. Kutcher and Garner have the sweetest relationship as the two dolts who everyone else but they realizes are mean for each other. Working for Kutcher is George Lopez, doing his obligatory gee-wiz I'm an immigrant shtick. Then there's Topher Grace (who should rightfully be a star by now) going out with Anne Hathaway who, in the most unfortunate instance of a great actress forced to do embarrassing things, moonlights as a phone sex girl while also holding a job as a secretary for Queen Latifah. Julia Roberts is on a plane with Bradley Cooper. Emma Roberts plans to lose her virginity in a sequence not nearly as awkward and sweet as the same kind of one she played in the underrated Lymelife, while her shallow, moronic friend Taylor Swift, shows off her muscle-bound boyfriend Taylor Lautner, who talent seems to evaporate in the presence of a shirt. Jamie Fox is a newsman, Jessica Biel is an agent, and Shirley MacLaine is a wife with a secret.

The stories are so many and cut in such a way that there is hardly enough time to grow to care about a single one of them. Dempsey, for example, disappears for so long that by the time he swings around for a second appearance it feels like we're already on to next week's episode and need a refresher. Because the film is so too busy to create a full story for the viewer to actually care about, what it absolutely offers is a mere reminder of all the much better films, romantic or otherwise, that all of these actors have starred in before. Garner in Juno, Kutcher in The Guardian, Latifa in Last Holiday, Cooper in the Hangover, Grace in Mona Lisa Smile, MacLaine in Terms of Endearment, Hathaway in Rachel Getting Married, Roberts in Notting Hill, Biel and Alba in … well nothing really. I guess their carers have jumped the shark. That's a term that refers to the moment when you know something will, forever after, be downhill from there. It's named after an episode of Happy Days, a show that Gary Marshall created. Go figure.

A couple weeks ago I happened to watch Taylor Hackford's An Officer and a Gentleman, a great romantic melodrama with Richard Gere and Debra Winger. There was a great film that cast big stars as strong characters that are forced to encounter serious obstacles on their way to finding love and deciding whether or not they were worth over in the long run. They were real people with real problems. Conversely, Valentine's Day is a film that typecasts big stars into movie-type roles as people who deal with relationships that feel as though they were dreamed up in the office of some under ambitious screenwriter who needed a convenient way to connect her long, boring, uninspired story together. Unlike An Officer and a Gentle, who's melodrama feels not like a film but an event, this one feels like someone has pushed autopilot, just on a grander scale.

Hold On Tight: The Article That Does Not Depend On Luck, But Develops Luck

United States President Thomas Jefferson was once rumored to say “The harder I work, the luckier I am”. Well, I agree with that, but I would like to add a little “spin” to it: The more alert to opportunity I am, the luckier I am.

So, what do I mean by being alert to opportunity? Being alert to the fact that real, genuine and lasting success comes in work clothes looking like “nothing”, not looking always like the exciting opportunity it is to become, sort of like Eliza Doolittle in the Shaw play “Pygmalion” or Julia Roberts character in the movie “Pretty Woman”. Opportunity can float by as something that we never normally pay attention to or even scorn is my point. But when we are alert to every possibility in reality, there is opportunity working for us genuinely indeed. This is the genuine place where luck comes in, if we hold on tight to our alertness for the opportunity for it to work instead of letting it go by as a common reality not worthy of our attention.

Sure, mentioning “Pygmalion” and “Pretty Woman” are seemingly silly and prosaic examples. Indeed, though, are not some of the greatest money making ideas prosaic and seemingly silly like the mops and hangers of Joy Mangano or synthetic rubber tires that last longer instead of natural rubber tires that wear out too quick?

So, I understand that a great idea needs to seem like a great idea to the masses, but if you are the one on the end creating the idea, you need the vision to see the potential before the masses sees it so the creativity and riches can be tapped to benefit. Jim Rohn once said “When preparation meets opportunity, that is luck.” I simply say he is half right. When alertness, preparation and opportunity meet reality that is the strongest way to be.

What do I mean by what I said above about alertness, preparation and opportunity? When you think about it that sentence is the ultimate key to good luck. The ultimate default to bad luck is to be careless and oblivious to possibility and alertness to opportunity. “Success out of nowhere” comes from winning lotteries. Success from genuine somewhere comes from alertness preparation and opportunity bearing fruit like a tree grown right. Get it?

I could make this a standard motivational article full of you must work hard, think smart and more to make it. Many do those things and still fail, there is more required, and that which is required is the kind of “good luck” I am writing about combined with alertness, preparation and opportunity. “Bad luck” comes from being unprepared, uncaring and oblivious after all. Success does come down to a miracle all right, and it is a repeatable one: One you prepare for through work, being alert and caring and seizing the opportunity genuinely right.

The Eight Reasons Why Introvert Is OK

Many times, introverts felt that something is wrong with them. This happens especially when they are in the middle of crowd, among the extroverts. Many people are saying that introverts are bad, while extroverts are good. I read a book from Marti Olsen Laney, Psy.D, titled "The Introvert Advantage" and it gives me a lot of insights to be thankful for the introvert character. The introverts have an advantage and they are supposed to make use of their uniqueness instead of resenting them.

Here are the eight reasons that I have compiled why introvert is OK!

1. Introverts are not antisocial

Introverts have social skills, they like people, and they enjoy some types of socializing … Introverts enjoy one-on-one conversations, but group activities can be over-stimulating and drain energy.

– Marti Olsen Laney, Psy.D

2. Introverts enjoys being alone to recharge their energy

Introverts are like a rechargeable battery … extroverts are like solar panels.

-Marti Olsen Laney, Psy.D

To summarize what Marti said, introverts are similar to rechargeable battery, they need to stop expending energy and rest in order to recharge, while solar panels need the sun to recharge, they need to be out and about to refuel.

3. Introverts may not good verbally, but they can become good listeners.

The next time you are intimidated when you are not talking as much as the others, remember the following quote:

If nature intended us to talk more than listen, she would have given us two mouths and one ear.


4. Introverts are self-reflective and good learner

Introverts are intuitive and analytical. Use that skill. What is working? What is not? Where do you get the most bangs for your buck?

5. Introverts are thoughtful

Extroverts are like lighthouses, focusing their beacon outward toward the world. Introverts are more like lanterns, radiating a glow inside themselves.

-Marti Olsen Laney, Psy.D

Introverts have a lot of thoughts and ideas, they are creative. They may have problem showing them, and that is the reason why they need to learn on sharing their thoughts to the world. If it's too difficult for introverts to beam our light to the world, we can at least make our transparent transparent.

6. Introverts are not necessarily shy

As I explained above, introverts enjoy meeting people, sometimes one-on-one, and sometimes in a group. But shy people is not, it's because of lack of confidence, shy people need to be more confidence, believe in their idea, and learn to share those ideas to others.

7. Introverts value being authentic

This might be the reason why the introverts do not like to talk much when they have nothing to say, they are just authentic, just being who they are. This may make them not becoming a people-pleaser and others should be able to see that they hold fast to their principals.

8. Introverts are capable to shine as well

Marti Olsen also compiled some of the public figures who are introverts, such as Emmy award-winning Diane Sawyer, award-winning actress Joan Allen, Julia Roberts, and also Albert Einstein. Here is her conclusion about their life:

So introverts are definitely not wallflowers. However, what drives introverts onto center stage is often different from what drives extroverts. Introverts come into the limelight because of their quest for work that has meaning to them, an unusual talent, or extraordinary circumstances.

-Marti Olsen Laney, Psy.D

In conclusion, it's okay to be introvert! We should make use of your strength, like being self-reflective, analytical and thoughtful. Only one thing that we need to do, believe in yourself and learn to share your insights to the world! You will not know how much your thought can be a blessing for others before at least you try.

Enjoy your uniqueness!