27 November 2010

Hot Crossed Buns

Listening to: The new Girl Talk album, All Day, is kind of fantastic and available for free as always. I think he put in a lot more pop friendly stuff this time around and that makes the album eminently danceable. Someone please throw a party and just throw this on. The album contains something like 375 samples, and I'd be curious how he avoids copyright issues. Some genius put together this samples breakdown of the whole album. It's kind of incredible, even if it ruins the mystery a little.

There's a billion and one restaurants in New York, who's got the energy to try them all? I certainly don't, not to mention that I've recently decided to eschew the entire food(ie) culture. If trying new foods is what people like to do, I guess I'll just be sticking with my usual boring fare. Mere months ago I was all about trying to find the best something or other, or have the "yes I've been there" statement.

In San Francisco, eating is a big part of the culture and my friends definitely like that experience. Food touristing is a big gamble though, and the payoff is generally disappointment. For example, after half a dozen failed attempts to find fried chicken that was reasonably priced and better than KFC, I officially wrote off twenty dollar fried chicken. Other things on that list include lines and exorbitant prices for pizza, fusion menus, ice cream, and comfort foods. Give me the basic food pyramid, plus overdoses of noodles, and I'm golden. I will pay premium prices for a cupcake or cream puff though.

During the past week I've been to Arirang twice. My friend told me Momofuku David Chang had called the handmade noodles there his favorite meal. This represents an ideal meal for me too. No waits, huge portions, an instant re-craving, and perfectly priced. "Arirang" means "You'll be back" in Korean, I believe.

While reading about David Chang, I got onto the story of Eddie Huang, who is the proprieter behind Baohaus, which kicks out Taiwanese pork buns. Huang is the bad boy of the culinary scene I guess, and maybe you already know this, but he's regularly all over the food blogs and websites. There's the fight with a SF food truck that stole his "Chairman Bao" name. There's the recent semi-negative reviews of his new eatery, and his responses back. The Four Loko all-you-can-drink deal that never happened, and the subsequent raid. And then there's his CNN featurette that included his mom, after she sent him a typical "you need to do better" Chinese mom email after his lackluster review.

Most of all, I like Eddie's blog, The Pop Chef, in which he details his restauranteur journey with heavy doses of hip hop posturing. One post is his take on the Fresh Prince theme song. I started with his first blog entries and pretty much read every post last weekend while lounging in bed. His attitude is pretty assholey but at the same time, you got to admire him. A young man fighting his way onto the scene and doing his dream. There's a ton of stuff on the Baohaus press page, and maybe I read most of those articles too. I have no idea how Huang's food tastes but I'm definitely going to find out soon.

23 November 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (2010)

I'll say it right up front, I thought this was the best Harry Potter movie. Maybe it wasn't the most enjoyable or the most complete, but this was the best film of the seven. The kids can all finally act, there were no ridiculous moments (well okay one or two), and everything was just done really well. Heck, the first thirty minutes was like a cool action thriller. I had no idea what to expect in this installment as I hadn't read the last book -- and there was no concession to someone not quite up on their Potter lore -- but that didn't matter as I really just admired how much the movie series has matured and progressed.

Director David Yates has done a few Potter movies, including the last one which I mostly enjoyed, but I was really impressed with his work this time around. Maybe there was more to work with book-wise but I think Yates just paced things really well and felt each scene in the movie, even the touching quiet moments which can be super contrived at times, was really good. I'm not saying this was perfect, but it's got me totally excited for the last movie and I can't wait to see what happens. I may even have to go read some of the books again.

Oh yeah, can someone explain to me how elves like Dobby can just teleport in and out without restrictions? How's that work? Also, I really enjoyed the look of the animated "Tale of the Three Brothers," as narrated by Hermione, so here's a link to some info about the people behind that segment. Speaking of Hermione, how about this wonderfulness: The Harry Potter series from Hermione’s point of view.

18 November 2010

We Are Family

So this week saw the release of Path, a social network for fifty of your closest friends. Instead of trying to befriend everyone you know, Path is for personal connections, where exclusivity is king. They arrived at fifty by using Dunbar's Number, which is "a theoretical cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships." I learned about this awhile ago, pre-Friendster, and always wondered how having huge Internet social networks conflate with that theory. I hope I used "conflate" correctly as I just learned about this word and it seems handy. I urge you to read more about Dunbar's Number because it involves primates and grooming and gossip, all things people should be heavily invested in.

When I turned thirty, I tried to lead my fellow soon to be thirty-ites in a series of spreadsheet games that would allows us to reflect on and evaluate our past couple of decades. One of the things I made us do was a Dirty Thirty list, which was a list of the top twenty nine people closest to us, discounting family -- you get to add a new person each birthday. The point of the exercise was to identify the people we value and then to make sure we were making moves to progress or hold on to those friendships. As a follow up task, we'd send "thank you" or "thinking of you" notes to them for being such great friends.

Actually the point of the list was really for curiosity's sake, but I'm sure there were higher purposes around somewhere. By the way, I'd like to take a look at everyone's Dirty Thirty list, preferably soon after we befriend each other, as I'd like to know who my competition is.

I don't think Path has much of a future, as intriguing an idea as it is, because so far it's just photo sharing. As reviewers have pointed out, there's nothing that Path offers that Facebook can't with a few privacy settings tweaks. Path's website and iPhone app are very elegantly presented though, so I wish them the best.

I tend to read a lot of things about social networking and the effect of the Internet on our social lives. Zadie Smith wrote a wonderful article about Sorkin's movie the other week, and one of her observations was how Facebook's decreasing privacy protection has now flattened everyone out, making people a bland amalgam of safe updates, not too drunk photos, and censored individuality. While Facebook has filled the "I know what they're up to" niche quite nicely, the better question then becomes "who cares?"

My friend Raymond and a few of his friends are participating in a one month Facebook fast. They're quite a bit younger than me so for them Facebook is almost literal food. They've started a blog about it, The Social Notwork, and so far it reads like an addict's recovery diary, with the emotional spectrum going from anger, to wistfulness, to regret. I'm kind of hoping they fast for longer than a month, just to see what happens. Being unplugged from Facebook on a college campus must be torture.

While I'm here, let me share this post from Tweetage Wasteland with you. It's about how Facebook has ruined his birthday skills. I had the exact same sentiment and would have created a post about this topic except Dave Pell is an Internet superhero and cyber-telepathically captured my thoughts perfectly. For years and years I had a running list of people's birthdays, set on a special page on my website, which I'd update with precise regularity. On someone's big day I'd make it a point to call/email/text, even if we never talked otherwise. Now that Facebook makes it overly easy to recall someone's birthday, I've decided to boycott all birthdays. I know it makes me sound like a bitter child, but I'm okay with that.

Until I can figure out a new way to show my appreciation for someone's existence, I just can't bring myself to wish them happy birthday anymore as "remembering" is no longer really that special. I had been substituting contacting people on their wedding anniversaries this year, which has won me some karma points, but that hardly works for my non-married friends. I've thought about combining anniversaries and kids' birthdays but again, how do I show my other friends that I care?

Oh yeah, yesterday it was National Unfriend Day, as championed by Jimmy Kimmel. Defriend someone and see how it feels. Defriend me and I'll come looking for you. And not in that good way. Someone clever could probably come up with something witty about the one letter difference between "befriend" and "defriend." Not it.

13 November 2010

Yes, You Look Wonderful Tonight

Currently pushing: Glitterboo, a site that allows you to add sparkle and magical effects to your photos. Now you know what to gift for the holidays. There's not much that can't be made better by glitter. To paraphrase Chris Rock, "mo 'tussin!" Mo'glitter, as it were. See, I super glittered the EC cover and it's now demanding to be made into a wall sized poster. Wouldn't you agree?

So I mentioned I have a book event coming up right? It's in exactly one week at Books of Wonder in New York. You should probably come. I mean, you will come. Along with five of my fellow 2009 Debs, we'll be talking about our work, fielding questions, and signing books. I'll be wearing my finest white tee for the event. Maybe afterwards we'll all go karaoke. Actually that'll probably happen since I seem to go karaoking every weekend. Doesn't everybody?
A Medley of Teen Novels
Saturday, November 20, 2010

Books of Wonder
18 West 18th Street
New York, NY 10011

Megan Crewe, Jenny Moss, Jon Skovron, Rhonda Stapleton, J.A. Yang, Michelle Zink
In addition to being New York's oldest and largest independent children's book store, Books of Wonder's website also features a "World of Oz" section, which is just all kinds of fantastic. Speaking of Oz, if you're an Oz-ophile like me, Eric Shanower's newest contribution to the canon is Ozma of Oz #1, from Marvel Comics. Just looking at the art makes me want to buy two copies, one for reading, one for safe keeping. If you don't know about Eric Shanower, you should, because he's the definitive modern Oz writer and illustrator.

Guess who just figured out that "Dotty" is short for "Dorothy?" I mean, not me.

Update: Post-event recaps from The Book Muncher, Megan, Jenny, and Rhonda.

12 November 2010

Whip My Hair

Listening to: LCD Soundsystem, "New York I love you, but you're bringing me down."

It's true, I made it to the East Coast. Bust the windows out your car! After a night of hurried packing and attempts to purchase a winter coat, I made it to New York a few days ago. This may not sound like much of an accomplishment since all it takes to make it somewhere is hopping on a plane and then not getting struck by lightning, however I'm celebrating a mental "I made it" more than the physical movement. I've been speaking about moving to New York for years. And for years it's never happened.

Of course, it hasn't exactly happened permanently this time around either, but I do have a place of residence for a few months, and I did pack up just about everything I need, and I hope to be out here consecutively for longer than I've been anywhere the past two years. Over the last twenty four months I don't think I've been in the same city for longer than three months before jetting off again. I've convinced myself New York is it and if I can make it till summer then I'll be able to say I've really made it. The swarming heat could then drive me away but I'll worry about that later. I'm going to try to blog more often about semi-daily personal boring shit over at jonwow, so follow along if you like. I'm gonna try to keep this thing here more focused and professional. "It's all unfocused and boring," you say? Touché.

One thing I already miss about San Francisco is the efficiency of group communication we'd cobbled together. The people in the Bay I see on the regular are better defined and closer grouped. Between those people being online, on Twitter, shared Google Calendars, and just generally always in contact by at most two degrees, I can pretty much look at my laptop and find out what everyone is doing at any given point in time. That's not the case here.

As I'm wandering around Manhattan, I think in terms of what neighborhood I'm in and who I can text to see what they're up to. My text usage has tripled since arriving and I haven't even been doing that much. The majority of the texts end up being "where are you" queries and my spiritual fingers cramp at the inefficiency. Don't worry though, as you'll soon see, there's an app for that.

I'm beginnig to experience firsthand now how social geo-location could actually be useful and viable. In San Diego or San Francisco it felt like those services were more of a novelty, here it feels like a necessity. Sometimes I want to say "I'm sitting on this particular bench on this particular corner and come find me if you want because I need a compadre!" There's a definite need for this type of thing, you'd think industries would have sprung up around this niche already, sheesh. Most importantly, I think, I need to revamp my friends' social reporting habits. All of their internet habits actually. Today I found out my friend uses Kazaa and buys stuff off iTunes. Bless his heart.

Seeing as my time here is limited, I'm going straight into seek and join mode. Next week I'll be scouting out two writing groups, I just posted on Craigslist for fellow book club orphans, I'm mulling over starting up a Mixtape Mafia: East, and I'm creating separate folders and event trackers for things that happen I possibly need to attend. The less aimless bar and club hanging out the better off I'll be. For example, Saturday night I hope to drag some people with me to the Zero Film Festival. What is it? I don't really know but it's there and it sounds interesting.

Friends, friends, people who like what I like, or who will show me things I like, where are you? Don't move, I'll find you. Echo, echo.

04 November 2010

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest (2009)

The strange thing about this trilogy is how the last movie contains little to no new information. Two and a half hours of a legal drama later and we get the ending we expect and the revelations we already know. Sure there's some talk about a rogue group within the police, one who has been pulling the strings all along, but this group's motivations and depiction are typical and a little boring. In fact, were I not so invested into this series already -- and needy after the second movie's abrupt ending -- I'd say that this last installment isn't really worth watching.

The most fun this movie provided was the talk afterward with my friend about the various legal systems in the world, and how unfamiliar non-American ones were to me. Actually there are a whole lot of "why are these lawyers so inept?" moments in this film. You'll see what I mean. There is something to be said for Mikael Blomkvist's dogged investigative journalism. The mere threat of being named in one of the Millenium's stories makes anyone spill the beans. I'd like this kind of power. "If you don't tell me the whole story, I'll blog about you!"

Overall, the whole Girl series was decent and worth watching from a "what is this phenomenon all about" standpoint, but the movies got progressively less interesting, and without the charisma of Lisbeth Salander, I'd have chceked out much sooner.

02 November 2010

Number 5 is Alive

Currently pushing: I can't believe I haven't shared this before, but Julia Wertz is an autobiographical cartoonist and her work is amazing. I saw Fart Party 2 on the shelf awhile ago and thought by title alone it wouldn't be up my alley but as it turned out, Fart Party was exactly my type of party. Wertz's latest book, "Drinking at the Movies," chronicles her transition from San Francisco to New York, which makes it especially relevant to me right now (see below). So if you like funny and poignant, go check out fartparty.org and as well as Julia's blog and her many interviews and reviews.

Got a few things going on, the first of which is that I'm off to New York in about a week. I've been itching to get out of California for some time now, and after a summer of missteps and delays, I've been generously given the gift of pure unadulterated excitement as I prepare to fight winter and figure out how to properly tie a scarf. The last time I lived on the East Coast I got through it by wearing sweat pants underneath my gigantic jeans. On really cold days, I'd slap on snowboarding gear and just walk around like a slopes reject. That probably won't work this time around so I'm going to look into other options. Will I be investing in some Uniqlo HeatTech thermals? Yes, immediately. I'm also contemplating growing my hair back out for head insulation.

You'd think joblessness would be my number one fear but it's a distant concern after 1. bedbugs 2. stinkbugs 3. winter 4. muggings 5. dinner buddies.... I thought one of those fears would be "where will I live?" but that's already been taken care of before I even set foot on the island so I'll be immediately focused on more exciting pursuits.

For example, right when I get to New York I'm going to try to hit up Page Turner: The Asian American Literary Festival, but seeing as I'm still on vampire hours, that could prove difficult. And since it's NaNoWriMo and I need some writerly friends, I'm going to try it out -- but not all 50,000 words -- and participate as much as I can. I have a superhero sort of book I've been dying to get started on so this will prove to be the perfect opportunity.

Then in late November I'll be doing a book event at Books of Wonder on the 20th, along with some fellow 2009 Debs: Megan Crewe, Jenny Moss, Jon Skovron, Rhonda Stapleton, Michelle Zink. I'm super excited about that as it'll be my very first New York book outing and I'll get a chance to meet some authors I've only followed and admired from afar. More on this fine event later but for now, just plan to come see us because it'll be a time.

Last of all, the wonderful Claire Light hooked me up and got me interviewed for this San Francisco Magazine article about Asian American writers. It was a thought provoking and fun interview and Bernice said some very nice things so I'm most appreciative. It also marks the first and almost certainly last time I'll be mentioned within a paragraph or two of a MacArthur Genius so it's pretty historic all around. Read on.
"Burnt out on chopsticks, gongs, and other musty ethnic clichés, the next generation of Asian American writers is giving biculturalism a confident new spin."
-Bernice Yeung, "As Asian as they want to be"-
Oh and I'll do a proper post on it, but I'm trying to get my Asian American writers site off the ground. It's called Lonely Comma and it's obvious I need to update it far more regularly, but you could follow along now and say you were there since the beginning. Like a pioneer.