Last Friday, I went with my friend Mariam to a screening of House, or Hausu in Japanese, that was put on by the Campus Events Commission. Before I get into the details, just let me tell you that this screening was probably definitely the most entertaining free CEC event that I have been to.

Ok, here it goes.

Mariam and I had spent our fridays like we both normally do, with her doing homework and me doing TV watching. We planned to dine around six so that we had enough time to get good seats for the movie. Sidenote: the dining hall was serving freaking vegan ratatouille pizzas on Friday night. They were so delicious, and Mariam, who is vegan for the quarter, was happy that De Neve could accommodate her diet (she mostly can only eat salad and krinkle cut fries).

We got to Ackerman at around 7:45 and sat around for 15 minutes waiting for the movie to start. During that time we talked about how neither of  us really knew anything about the movie other than the fact that it was Japanese and had a picture of a cat on the film poster.

Finally, it was 8 o’ clock and we were going to get some answers. Would there be subtitles? What was this cat about?

The movie started out at a Japanese girls school on the verge of summer break. The girls (a group of seven friends) chatted excitedly about their plans – to visit one of the girl’s aunts. Already, we could tell that the movie was going to be extremely silly. There were giggles abound, both onscreen and in the audience, as the seven girls introduced themselves. Their names seemed to have been assigned to them based on personality – like a funny female, Japanese version of the seven dwarves. The main girl (whose aunt everyone was to visit) was named Gorgeous and her friends were Sweet, Mac, Fantasy, Prof, Melody, and Kung Fu.

When they finally got to the aunt’s house, the true nature of the film became apparent. It wasn’t about these cute Japanese girls who liked to laugh, it was about the aunt! The aunt turned out to be a ghost! And not just any ghost, but a ghost that ate girls. So the mood of the film quickly turned from silly, goofy to scary, what-the-heck-that-piano-just-ate-Melody’s-fingers.

Needless to say, Mariam and I were thoroughly freaked out – but in a super good way.

After the movie, we went back to her dorm to hang out and bother her roommates with a really convoluted retelling of the story. We made sure to let them know about the cat that was on the poster (it turned out to be a ghost thing, too, and at one point it bled so much that the entire house was filled with blood (again what-the-heck)).

I definitely need to watch it again before I can even begin to understand any aspect of the story or what the heck was going on when Gorgeous was supposedly dead but then alive (was she a ghost, too???).

I recommend it. And I recommend CEC!

Special Guest: Bill Nye

If you told my young, elementary-school self back in the day when I watched his show religiously that Bill Nye the Science Guy would one day come to my college and give a talk hosted by CEC which I’d be fortunate enough to attend, and at which I would have had the opportunity to shake his hand, I wouldn’t have believed you.  Even my present self had trouble believing that THE Bill Nye was coming to UCLA to give a talk in Moore 100, our largest lecture hall here.

His talk was titled “The World is An Amazing Place, But We’ve Got to Make Some Changes“.  The line to enter began more than an hour before the start of the event, and soon it wrapped all around Moore Hall, extending past the North-South boundary reaching into South Campus.  The standby line was even crazier, beginning long before the reservations line appeared, for those who weren’t able to make it onto the Reservations List and counted on no-shows that would open up seats for the standby line.

The attendance was not only impressive, but also diverse; students from all over campus came to the event, not only science students who had been inspired by Mr. Nye’s television show.  As we waited anxiously inside the hall for his arrival, the air was so filled with excitement that it would have combusted had someone lit a match.  As soon as Mr. Nye peeked his head into the hall, it erupted with cheers and applause.  The rest is history.

The theme of Mr. Nye’s talk was extremely engaging and inspiring.  Through his use of personal anecdotes and enthusiasm, he showed us that he was the Bill Nye we had always remembered, except better, because now he was speaking to us right in front of our eyes.  His presentation was personable and relatable, and everything he talked about came back to his slogan of the night: Change the world.  Mr. Nye is clearly extremely inspired by youth and the potential for young people to innovate and explore new possibilities.  Everything he said, including the way he said it, was incredibly empowering that it was hard to leave the presentation feeling pessimistic.

When asked what inspired him to teach children science through television, Mr. Nye answered that the moment a child understands what you’re teaching him and makes the knowledge his own, you know you’re doing something right.  And it’s moments like those that inspire him to be “Bill Nye the Science Guy”.  Needless to say, it was an evening I will never forget, especially the moment my friend pestered him enough to finally shake my hand.

Thanksgiving Break

I have just had a stellar Thanksgiving break. Literally, I ate turkey among the stars. Kidding. I did have a ton of fun, though.

The weekend began early because my only class on Wednesday was more of a fun hang-out sesh with the professor than a strict lecture, and the rest of my day included watching Grey’s Anatomy and doing minimal packing. My so-cal friends that I was driving home with got stuck in traffic and didn’t make it to UCLA until around 4:30. Our late start and numerous breaks for food once we got on the road (not to mention the horrendous LA traffic) meant that our arrival time in the bay area was around 12:30. My mom was already in her PJs and my dad was fast asleep (when I went in to say hello and goodnight, he said, “hi, Charles!” but in a voice that sounded kind of underwater and kind of like it had been squeakified by helium).

On Thanksgiving day (which coincidentally is the same day I arrived home), I got up at a very comfortable ten in the morning, had a delicious bowl of fruity pebbles with legit soymilk (no offense, De Neve dining hall), and made a batch of chocolate chip cookies – I had been deprived of baking. The night’s festivities were wonderful as was the green bean casserole.

But break did not stop after that meal! On Friday, I went to Downtown Ice – an ice skating rink in the middle of downtown San Jose. My friends and I played skate-tag and took pictures and laughed laughed laughed the night long. The next day, I decided to do some shopping because I figured the Black Friday crowds must have died down. My friends and I went to the mall and shopped until our arms were full of bags and our wallets were full of nothing. Afterwords, we saw The Muppets (which everyone MUST SEE; it’s fantastic).

All of these fun times kind of had me experiencing deja vu (as does writing this blog post, I’ve written a similar one – Momma’s Boy). I feel as if I have done similar things or at least have had the chance to at or around UCLA. And certainly I have!

Last Monday, I went to see Alicia Silverstone speak. She played Cher in the movie Clueless and is now a vegan activist. At the event, attendees got to feast on superb vegan Thanksgiving food that was provided by Native Foods, a restaurant in Westwood. I ate a Thanksgiving meal at home and one at school!

I mentioned that I ice-skated. Well, there is outdoor ice-skating right in Santa Monica, just a bus-ride away from UCLA. It’s just called ICE though, there isn’t a “Downtown” in front of it.

As for shopping…. Well, this goes without saying, but UCLA is located in Los Angeles. I mean, we have an Urban Outfitters just down the street.

Finally, The Muppets. Yes, it is playing in theaters around the LA area, but The Muppets was also shown for free on UCLA’s campus by the Campus Events Commission.

Basically, even though I am on break and I have access to all these great things (like a car and an oven) I am still doing things that I can do at school. And I have been doing school-stuff at home since I got to UCLA. How very fun!

Bruins in the Village

This past Thursday evening saw no less than hundreds of Bruins in Westwood at a great event titled “Bruins Night Out” hosted by CEC (Campus Events Commission) and General Representative 1 office.  It was incredible to see the streets packed with students eagerly seeking the myriad of deals that night, including free Diddy Riese cookies, buy one get one free at Chipotle, a free movie, and so much more.  Some of our favorite restaurants had free food to give out, while others had great deals that gave the college student’s pocketbook a break.  I myself tried out the unlimited waffles deal at Waffle Chix and was only able to eat one other waffle in addition to the one that came with my combo, but nevertheless had more than enough incentive to spend the evening in our wonderful college town that is rated one of the best university neighborhoods in the nation.  Dinky little Westwood (by the standards of those of us who have spent time in megacities) was bustling with life from 5pm to way past 10pm!

The biggest attraction of the night was surely Chipotle’s buy-one-get-one-free deal.  Walking past the enormous line made my friends and me wonder if the burrito(s) warranted a 40-minute wait in line, but it seemed a great chance to socialize with friends you haven’t seen for a while or meet new people that are interested in the same deals as you are.  Near the end of the night, ebbing flows of pedestrians and shopkeepers telling us their deals were out were signs that it was a more than successful night.

CEC Short Takes Finale

This past Tuesday night was Campus Events Commission‘s annual film festival finale. It featured nine totally awesome student-made films. Several were stop motion, many were comedy, and one told the story of boy and his car.

Besides the films, the night also consisted of two panels. One panel featured four industry professionals. Two of them worked as animators for Disney (one was the man who decided to give the little mermaid red hair!) and the other two worked in television (one programmed stations for Direct TV in Latin America, and one worked on the Jackass films). The second panel featured actors, all of whom had been involved in theater and television. My favorite was Alan Ruck who played Cameron in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, but there were many more. Melora Hardin, who played Jan in The Office, was there as well as Danny Pudi who plays Abed in Community.

Both of the panels were very exciting. It is always fun to get a tiny taste of showbiz. Plus, I am still in awe that I saw the man responsible for making Ariel a redhead.

The films were also terrific. One was about a teenager who believed he was a mountain lion. This behavior got butter put in his eyes. Another was made with a lego man and it was about his fishing trip. My favorite was called Couples Therapy and was about a couple who had trouble being intimate. To spice things up, the couple agreed to try role-playing. The girl took it too seriously and lead the boy through an elaborate fantasy land that she had constructed in their home. The film ended with the boy getting stabbed in the leg with a magic dagger.

Campus Events Commission puts on really fun events like this as well as free concerts and speaking events.