Tag Archives: 2012

From Nominee To Finalist

A couple of weeks ago, I posted on Facebook that I got nominated for a Small Business award for the annual Greater Dallas Asian American Chamber of Commerce Awards Gala 2013.

A part of me was surprised, because as a business owner, I didn’t really feel like my business was anywhere near outstanding.  I was barely making it when it came to profits and growth.

Yes, I provided my business services (event photography) to different non-profit organizations whenever I can, but no way is my photography business successful compared to all the other Small Businesses out there.

Another part of me was grateful.  For whatever reason, the people around me have been recognizing the work I have been doing.  In particular, one of the officers of the non-profit organization NAAAP-DFW Janet had nominated me for the award.  There’s no better feeling than to have a peer recognize the work you’ve been doing through an award nomination.

I filled out the questionnaire and sent in my resume to the committee.  I didn’t feel really solid after answering the questionnaire.  When your overall answer to most of the questions start with “that doesn’t really apply to me”, there is little confidence gained in your chance of making it.

I just told myself, “Hey, you should be happy you even got nominated in the first place.  So many other people who work harder than you didn’t even get a chance for nomination.  You’ve already got plenty.  Appreciate what you already have.”

A couple of weeks fly by and I receive an email saying that I’m one of the Finalists for the award.

My first reaction was disbelief, because I wasn’t sure how I got to this point.  Then a sudden burst of adrenaline came next, with the acceptance that I really am one of the Finalist.  Even though I still haven’t won the award, for some odd reason I already felt like a winner.

And now I’m sitting here just reflecting on everything that happened so far that got me to this point:

  1. Last year around this time of the year, I actually attended the previous GDAACC Award Gala 2012.  I wasn’t invited as a guest though.  I was actually covering the event as a second shooter with my friend.  It was my job to get pics of all the award winners.  Funny how one year can change your circumstances so much.  I went from covering the event as a photographer to becoming part of the event as an award finalist.
  2. When you look around at all the successful photographers, you will notice everyone specializes in something.  You will find photographers who are great with weddings, fashion, sports, nature, architecture … etc.  I’ve always wondered what my niche would be.  I think I’ve finally found it.  I will be known as the photographer who does non-profit events.
  3. Then I take a step back and think to myself, who in their right mind aspires to be a non-profit photographer?  It didn’t make sense to me at first until I reflected on my past.  For as long I can remember, I have always volunteered with the youth group at my Vietnamese Catholic Church.  My focus back then was giving to the Vietnamese Catholic community.  Now my focus has broadened to giving to the Asian Business Community.
  4. I made one other connection with my past.  Specifically my passion.  In the past I was passionate in volunteering my time to my youth group.  For the past 2 years, I have been really passionate about photographer.  Without even realizing it, for the past year I have been merging both my past and present passion into what I have right now:  non-profit photography.
  5. Everything has come full circle.  What I mean is I started out as going to the award gala 2012, come 2013, I’m going to the award gala again.  Or with community involvement, I did it for a good 10-15 years with local church, took a 3-4 year break, and now I’m helping out again with the Asian Business community.  My life is filled with things coming full circle.  I’m just grateful that each time I’ve come full circle, I’m somehow in a better place even though the place still looks the same.

Resume I Sent To Award Committee:  https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B2PUVKTY6jFGZFc2Q0wyZWtTMm8/edit?usp=sharing

Questionnaire I Sent To Award Committee:  https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B2PUVKTY6jFGVUtnSVZMbUgwN2c/edit?usp=sharing

Award Finalist Email From Award Committee:  https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B2PUVKTY6jFGQ3NqYjktUi1TcEU/edit?usp=sharing

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Movie Review: The Hobbit – An Unexpected Journey

***Spoiler Alert***


Bilbo Baggins is recruited into a clan of dwarves to go take back the homeland of the dwarves.

Bilbo Baggins is reluctant at first because he is somewhat comfortable in his home.  Gandalf insists on Bilbo Baggins going, while the head of the dwarves clan Thorin doubts that a Hobbit like Bilbo Baggins could be of any use on the journey.

After everyone leaves, Bilbo changes his mind and chases after the clan.

The group is tested by huge trolls who threaten to eat them all.

Then they are chased by goblins who have history with the dwarves.  Dwarves and Goblins were at war with each other over the Dwarves’ homeland.

They are rescued by the Elves, but Thorin (head of the dwarves) resent the Elves because they stood by and didn’t help the Dwarves when they were being attacked by the Dragon.

The dwarves leave the elves and are captured by cave-dwelling goblins.  Bilbo is separated from the group and meets the Gollum for the first time.  This is where he takes the “ring” from Gollum.

Bilbo rejoins the group, but only to be ambushed by Land Goblins.  Bilbo proves his worth by standing up for Thorin while he was helpless.

They escape and this is the moment when Bilbo is finally accepted into the clan of dwarves as one of their own.

Final Thoughts:

This is a fantasy adventure film, full of humor, companionship, and lore.

There is always a battle or action waiting at the next corner.

The action scenes are reminiscent of the ones from Lord of the Rings, where battles are drawn out and can stretch from one mountain to another.

Gandalf can be a source of inspiration with his wisdom and Bilbo’s quick-witted decisions are always one step of his opponents.

Enjoyable film for anyone who’s already a big fan of the Lord of the Rings series.


4/5, because in my opinion, it still doesn’t measure up to the original Lord of the Rings series.

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Movie Review: Silver Linings Playbook

***Spoiler Alert***


An interesting love story between two emotionally unstable people.

Bradley Cooper suffers from bi-polar depression, while Jennifer Lawrence resorts to sex as a way to sort through her problems.

Bradley Cooper is released from a mental hospital and is told to visit his doctor regularly.

Bradley was sent into the mental hospital because he had a violent outburst when he found out his wife was cheating on him.

Bradley was put on a restraining order by his wife and asked never to come around areas where his wife would go often.

Still Bradley is convinced that they are still in love and that she wants him back.

Bradley jumps through hoops and tries just about anything to win her love back.

This is where Jennifer Lawrence comes in.

She tells Bradley that she comes in contact with his wife often and promises to hand her a letter from him, if he promises to do her a favor.

The favor is compete with him in a professional ballroom dancing competition.

They compete, bring out the best in each other, and while she falls for him early in the movie.  By the end of the movie, he recognizes how important she is and chooses Jennifer Lawrence over his wife.

Final Thoughts:

This is a character driven movie, where as the story unfolds, you become more and more invested into Bradley & Jennifer’s lives.

It’s unique love story of how two people who are considered abnormal members of society find a way to create their own little world where society norms cease to matter.

I particularly enjoyed the family dimension in the story, between Bradley and his father.

Everyone is trying to cope with Bradley’s bi-polar depression and his father ends up being the one most affected by it.

Great love story, that appeals to both sexes.



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Movie Review: Jagten (The Hunt)

***Spoiler Alert***


A male care-take Lucas at a child care center is accused of sexual abuse.  The event never happened, but the girl who accused it was just making it up.

When she brings it up, her teachers and parents want to believe it to be true because they argue that a child cannot make these kind of things up.

Quickly the Lucas’ life is turned upside down.  All his friends with kids turn on him.  The community including the stores do not welcome in there anymore.

Only a few people stand by his side including his new girlfriend, his son, and one of his friends.

After a hearing, the judge concludes that he isn’t guilty.  Despite this, the community is convinced that he got away with murder.

They harass Lucas, throw rocks into his house, and kill his dog.

One day, the man confronts the girl’s father at church.  They used to be best-friends before the incident happened.  From his intuition, he can tell now that his friend is really innocent.

He forgives his friend and brings him food for Christmas night.

A year passes by and everyone is coming together to celebrates Lucas’ son first hunt.  Lucas gives his son a rifle and they go on a deer hunt in the forest.

The last scene show Lucas alone in the forest when out of no where a bullet buzzes past his face and hits a tree 1 feet away from him.

He looks up the hill and sees the outline of a figure.

The movie ends there.

Final Thoughts:

This movie dives deeply into the scenario of what happens when everyone believes in a lie.

It is extremely frustrating to see everyone become so blinded by what they want to believe which causes them to lose all sense of the truth.

One wonders throughout the whole movie, who is to blame for all of this?  Is the child false accusing at fault?  Is the Lucas at fault?  Is the community at fault?

Perhaps this movie illustrates the inconsistencies that we live with.  Perhaps this movie shows how we can all by hypocrites.

For sure, it shows the gray area that lies in between reality and truth.



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Movie Review: The Dictator

***Spoiler Alert***


Sacha Baron Cohen stars as a dictator who rules his country with oppression and ignorance.

As a dictator, he demands ridiculous things that don’t make sense such as a rocket with a point head.  If anyone argues with him or denies what he wants, he has them killed.

That is his one solution to everything.

One day he visits America, only to have his Uncle betray him with a phony Dictator who looks exactly like the real one.

The real one is kicked into the streets of New York to fend for himself.  There he meets a hippy girl with hairy armpits who he eventually falls in love with.

She temporarily makes him forget all his ideals about being a Dictator, but meets one of his ex-nuclear scientist who reminds him of what is important.

They both successfully break into the fake Dictator’s room, kick him out, and assume the real role of the Dictator.

He is then led to a peace summit, where he seizes sole control of his country only to change his mind last minute when his love re-appears.

He promises democracy in his country and he marries her in his own country.

Final Thoughts:

I find the humor obnoxious, immature, and outlandish.

This may work for certain people.

I also noticed the comedic levels pick up after he goes to America.

There is plenty of female/male nudity in this movie, sometimes for no apparent reasons, so be prepared for that.



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Movie Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

***Spoiler Alert***


Shy freshman Charlie, be-friends two seniors Sam and Patrick, who are part of a group of misfits.

They grow closer and closer with each other with the shy freshman falling for Sam.

Sam eventually ends up with a college student and Charlie ends up with Mary Elizabeth, a senior who is part of the band of misfits.

All through the movie, Charlie has constant flashback of his Aunt who dies in a car crash.  He believes  he caused the death of his favorite Aunt.

One day, during a game of truth or dare while still dating Mary Elizabeth, he is dared to kiss the most beautiful girl in the room.  Everyone thinks he will kiss his gf, but he ends up kissing Sam.

This causes a big commotion, because Sam & Mary Elizabeth had a past with the same guy.  Charlie kissing Sam, just brought up all the past emotions and complicate things.

Charlie is asked not to hangout with the group anymore.

This draws Charlie into a state of desperation, because he has no friends other than Sam & Patrick.

One day, Patrick is caught in a brawl and is ganged up by a bunch of athletes.  Sam comes to help, but gets pushed out.  Charlie runs in and backs up Patrick.

He is quickly welcomed into the band of friends again.

All the seniors graduate and are off to college.  The night before Sam leaves, Charlie expresses his love to her and they make love.

When she leaves, he goes through a depression and is admitted into a psychiatric hospital where we find out that his Aunt had sexually molested him while he was small.

As he is able to come out with that trauma, he is slowly healing and returning to normal.

Charlie is released from the hospital and meets up with Sam & Patrick for one last hangout before the movie ends.

Final Thoughts:

This is a movie of how important friendship is in high school.  It literally can mean the difference between hell and heaven for some kids.

Friends can help you through your own hell, but eventually you must confront your own demons.

Crushes and hidden love is an ongoing theme in this movie which asks the questions “Why do nice people end up with the wrong people?”

His depression and fondness of his favorite aunt, shows us how complicated things can get if the ones you love, are also the ones who take advantage of you and mistreat you.



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Movie Reviews: Zero Dark Thirty

***Spoiler Alert***


Supposedly based on a true story, the CIA sets out to find Osama Bin Laden who is responsible for the 9/11 attacks on the US World Trade Centers.

The film revolves around a female CIA agent who is obsessed and never takes no for an answer.

The CIA agent discovers a messenger who could be a personal assistant of Osama Bin Laden.

She sets to track him by following his cell phone signal, which eventually leads her to a secret compound.

The CIA soon discovers there is a hidden family who never leaves the compound and quickly comes to the conclusion that it is Osama Bin Laden.

Late one night, they raid the compound, kill Osama Bin Laden, and escape with his body.

Final Thoughts:

The torture scenes are gruesome.

Whenever the terrorist attack, it’s a very personal account of death.

This movie is not for the weak of heart, because it focuses on a search where the end justifies the means.

Most of the film, you are left feeling like someone is pulling your finger nails out because almost every scene makes you cringes.

90% of the movie is how the US failed to find Osama Bin Laden, while the remaining 10% is how those failures eventually lead them to him.



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Movie Review: Ice Age 4 “Continental Drift”

***Spoiler Alert***


This time Manny, Sid, & Diego are set onto the seas because of the continental drift.

They are trying to get back to Manny’s wife and child, but drift into pirates who demands they join their crew or face death.

Manny is bent on returning home so he rebels, destroys the pirate ship, and floats to a island.

Here, the pirates have built a new ship in which Manny, Diego, & Sid steals to find their way home.

The pirates vow revenge on Manny and start chasing him down.

Manny comes home, but can’t find anyone.  The pirates have captured everyone and their is a huge fight.

Manny and his friends fend off the pirates.

Final Thoughts:

This is one of those movies that if you don’t watch with many people, you might not find it funny at all.

It’s definitely has all the components that made previous installments successful.

At the same time, if you’ve seen the previous 3 you will see a common trend that quickly bores you.

Definitely a good movie for children and teenagers.

Some adults may find the humor and comedy redundant.



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Movie Review: Wreck It Ralph

***Spoiler Alert***


Revolves around a bad guy who yearns to become a good guy.

He’s tired of the good guy getting all the attention.

The way he goes about doing this ends up causing chaos in the video game world, until he meets a video game glitch.

The two form a close bond and end up supporting each other through trials and tribulations.

The bond ends up changing both of them for the better.

Final Thoughts:

I really enjoyed this movie.

It’s an animated-movie that both children and adults can enjoy, especially if you played any video games when you were younger like myself.

I caught on to many of the video game jokes that only a gamer could get.

At the same time, I could relate to the protagonist’s issues because it is a universal issue of being left out, wanting to be part of the in crowd, and doing whatever it takes to make it happen.

The most important lesson I got from this movie is how nothing changes when he gets back to his world, but the fact that his attitude changes makes all the difference in the world.

He doesn’t mind being the bad guy now that he has formed a strong friendship with the video game glitch from another video game.



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Movie Review: Get The Gringo


***Spoiler Alert***


Action film set in a Mexican prison which resembles more like a small city.

Mel Gibson is a thief who happens to be ex-military and con-artist.

He is thrown into jail because he stole some money.

He quickly becomes acquainted with a boy who has special privileges within the prison.

The boy is the only living person who has a blood type that is compatible with the prison head honcho who rules it with an iron fist.

Mel Gibson gets himself out of prison to kill the people who are after him in America.

Then he turns his sight back to the Mexican prison, kills the prison head honcho, and rescues the boy with his mom.

Final Thoughts:

Mel Gibson is presented with numerous obstacles that he always overcomes, which makes me feel skeptical throughout the movie.

Mel Gibson happens to be good at sniping, stealing, setting-up kills, catching grenades and throwing them back.

It just seems too good to be true.

But if you can put this one thing behind you, everything else makes up for a great action movie.

Story has multiple twists and turns.  You’re never left bored wondering when it’s going to end.  Mel’s friendship with the boy is amusing at times too.

You can’t help but wanting to root for the safe passage of the boy.

And Mel does a good job of being the good guy, even if he is the bad guy.



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