Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Tomorrow Night on Lost

New episode of Lost tomorrow. From what I've seen of the sneak preview, this episode could be pivotal. I hesitate to get my hopes up, but I am excited.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Sunday, February 26, 2006

The ReUse People

Huell Howser has the best job ever. He hosts a variety of tv shows that air on KCET (as well as other PBS affiliates in California) weekdays between 6-7pm. All the shows are centered around California and are hosted by him: California's Gold, California's Green, Visiting...with Huell Howser, Road Trip...with Huell Howser, etc. His shows have an informal, folksy appeal. Last week KCET aired an episode on California's newest state park, San Simeon State Park, which is a 15 mile stretch of Central California coastline that was donated by the Hearst family.

Another recent episode was about The ReUse People, a Bay Area non-profit that takes apart homes ("deconstructs," as they say) and salvages the parts (everything from the wood to the windows to the toilets). For example, a homeowner can hire certified contractors from The ReUse People to carefully take apart the home in the reverse order that it was built (meaning, first they remove all the internal fixtures, then the windows, roof and walls) and then donate the parts for a tax deduction. The ReUse People have a warehouse that the public can visit to buy salvaged house materials at 5-25% of retail. It's an environmentally-friendly alternative to getting a bulldozer and dumping your house in a landfill.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Street Name Controversy

The Westminster City Council voted unanimously to table a proposal to change Moran Street (named after one of the town's pioneers) to Yen Do Street. Yen Do, a journalist who fled South Vietnam after the end of the war, started Người Việt Daily News in the late 70s from his Westminster garage. Người Việt has since grown exponentially in circulation as the Westminster area has become home to the U.S.'s largest Vietnamese community.

Although most agree that it's time for Westminster to have a Vietnamese street name or two, it appears that the Yen Do proposal was sidelined because of professional and personal objections. According to the LA Times,"Several people from Vietnamese news outlets that, like Do's newspaper, are headquartered along Moran Street denounced the prospect of a rival's name becoming part of their address." Another view: "He's a very successful businessman, but he's not a hero at all," said Toan Thai, a member of the Vietnamese Community of Southern California, a nonprofit service group. "He has never made any contributions to the community." Ouch.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Who's That Mean Guy??

For those of you who have been watching ice skating, you might be wondering who that mean commentator is, bagging on all the skaters. Well, it ain't Scott Hamilton, it's Dick Button. So who the hell is Dick Button and where does he get off?

It turns out old meany won figure skating golds at the 1948 St. Moritz games and 1952 Oslo games. He was the first man to land a double axel in competition (1948) and a triple jump of any kind (it was a triple loop) in competition (1952). So, I guess he's the man. After he stopped competing, he did the Ice Capades and got a law degree from Harvard. Go figure.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

More Olympics

The 2006 Winter Olympics mascots.
Neve the snowball and and Gliz the ice cube.

Man, I'm so into these Olympics. I don't know what's come over me. Am I getting old or what?

When I was growing up I had a friend whose parents worked for Northwest Airlines and could fly anywhere in the world for dirt cheap. They were really into the winter games and went to the 1980 Lake Placid games, the 1984 Sarajevo games and the 1988 Calgary games. Lucky ducky. NBC has said about a thousand times that the next winter games will be in Vancouver. I've already been to Vancouver so I had to see where the 2014 games might be held. I had no idea what goodies I would find.

The winning city won't be announced until July 2007, but here are the applicant cities: Sochi, Russia (on the Black Sea); Salzburg, Austria; Jaca, Spain (in the Pyrenees); Almaty, Kazakhstan (that's right, Kazakhstan); PyeongChang, Korea; Sofia, Bulgaria; and Borjomi, Georgia (the country!).

How refreshing to have the games in a place other than the U.S. or Western Europe (if you don't count Spain). I'm excited!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Mahna Mahna

Start your week off right. A skit with Mahna Mahna from the first season of The Muppet Show. If you've seen The Office, then you may remember Gareth and David Brent doing this tune.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Tracing Back

I've been totally engrossed in the new African-American Lives series on PBS. Hosted by Henry Louis Gates, he traces his ancestry back to pre-civil war days based on slave documents and DNA tests. He finds out that he is 50% European. Also profiled in the series are Oprah, Chris Tucker, Whoopi Goldberg and Quincy Jones, among others. Check it out if you get the chance. Inspired, I've asked my parents to jot down what they can remember of our family tree-- names, birthdate, birthplace.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

21st Century Wife

Like a lot of girls of my generation, I was raised to be self-reliant and achievement-oriented. I was expected to do well in school, get a good job and be financially self-sufficient. Homemaking was not really emphasized.

So imagine my surprise when, not long after I got married (nay, even before), relatives started asking whether I had been learning to cook. It seemed like everyone had a recipe for me. Of course, the implication was that I wouldn't be cooking just for myself (I'd been living on my own for years, after all), but to feed "my family"-- i.e., Mr. Octopus. No one ever suggested that Mr. Octopus learn to cook for me. Why is there still a difference?

In this day and age, when women are expected to work, why aren't men expected to do housework? Why is it that when women get married they are suddenly expected to focus on cooking, whereas men, upon marriage, are expected to do exactly what they were doing before-- namely, go to work? Seems there is a mixed message being sent to women. It's almost as if being educated and having a career is a way to meet your husband than anything else.

Friday, February 17, 2006

I ♥ Cary Grant

Sorta creepy picture of Cary Grant.

Oh Yea. A new box set of early Cary Grant films was just released. The set includes Holiday (1938) (a personal fave) for the first time on DVD, as well as The Awful Truth, Only Angels Have Wings, His Girl Friday and The Talk of the Town. I haven't seen any of these four, except for His Girl Friday. From the NYT:
"Holiday," long missing in action because the scarcity of decent original source material, also appears here in a U.C.L.A. upgrade, but the results are not quite as spectacular: the image shows pronounced grain and harsh contrast. But given that the camera negative has apparently been lost, we are unlikely to ever see a significantly better iteration of Cukor's great romantic comedy. Grant offers what may be his most open and vulnerable performance as Johnny Case, a Wall Street striver engaged to a domineering rich girl (Doris Nolan) but drawn to her disaffected, nonconformist sister (Katharine Hepburn) for reasons philosophical.
I wish they would sell Holiday separately because it's the only one I want. Turns out there are a goodly number of Holiday-only fans out there and they are venting in full force on Amazon.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Rogue? Anybody?

Did anyone ever play a PC-based game in the 80s called Rogue? No joystick necessary, just keyboard. So far, I haven't found anyone, other than my cousin who introduced me to it.

Imagine this primitive, but highly addictive, game: you are a smiley face tunneling through some unknown dungeon world. You enter rooms and find jewelry, potions, scrolls, food, staffs, armor, weapons, gold. In the course of finding these goodies, you encounter seemingly endless monsters, each denoted by a single letter (H for Hobgoblin (a cinch to kill), L for leprechan (will steal your gold, "your purse feels lighter"), F for venus flytrip ("you try to run, but you cannot"), G for griffin (run, for you will die), and so on. The object is to advance to the higher levels (you do this by finding a door and exiting through it) and amass an immense pot of gold, without being killed by a monster. I think the highest level is 24, although I wouldn't know because I never made it past 21.

Sounds lame, especially by today's standards, but it was fun as hell back then. Sound familiar to anyone?

Rogue Warrior
killed by a phantom on level 17
2855 Au

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Don't Park Here, Stupid

My favorite parking sign ever:
the Nobel Laureate spot at Cal.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Netflix Suggestions

Anyone got suggestions for our Netflix queue? We're up for anything.

For a history of VCRs, check this out.

Lost Its Way

ABC is showing a new episode of Lost this Wednesday. I'm sad to say that I'm just not that into the show anymore. I'll still watch, naturally, but the last few episodes (particularly last week's) have been weak and I don't see it getting much better. What happened last week was bizarre (even for Lost standards) and I feel like the producers have begun to make the plot especially absurd. I know, I know, polar bears on a tropical island was already absurd. But this was different. I won't spoil it for those who haven't seen it, but (and look away and if you don't want to know anything about last week's episode) ... I think what Charlie did was out of character, far fetched and poorly conceived. I can't get over it. I feel like ABC is trying to stretch this show out for five seasons, when it really should be two (three maximum). Even killing off Michelle Rodriguez won't make me happy. I almost want everyone to get rescued so that the show can end now, before the second season overshadows the fantabulous first season.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Viva Italia

I am really getting into the Winter Olympic games. I can't get over how bizarre some of these events are. Yesterday I spent hours watching downhill skiing, cross country, half pipe, luge and speed skating. I'm excited to see the bobsled. I like that there are a lot of age 30+ athletes. I wonder what their day jobs are. I'm so into it that I even feel bad for Michelle Kwan, who I never liked that much.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Earth from Above

I really like that Earth from Above book, with pictures by Yann Arthus-Bertrand. Some shots from it.





Friday, February 10, 2006

Three Wishes

If you could visit three places-- anywhere in the world, money being no option-- where would you go?

Thursday, February 9, 2006

Orange County Gets Greener

The wheels are in motion to make Orange County home to one of the country's largest public parks. That's right, Orange County. The El Toro Marine Base in South OC, which closed in 1999 and was initially poised to become an international airport, will be transformed over the next decade into the 1,347 acre "Orange County Great Park." Ken Smith, the landscape architect from New York who designed the new rooftop at the MoMA, among other things, was selected last month to be the park's master designer.
Smith’s design, which was a public favorite in the OCGP Corporation’s online poll, incorporates several grand features into the Master Plan for the Orange County Great Park. These include a canyon joining the Agua Chinon with a lake and an amphitheatre that faces east across this lake. The design also retains the old runway with fighter planes stationed along its entire length as a linear monument to the military history.
From the Conservancy's website. To see the various designers' presentations, click here.

Despite the fact that it is home to thriving Mexican, Vietnamese and Korean communities, OC is known as a conservative bastion, full of rich, white people and their beachfront McMansions. In recent years, large businesses have put roots in South OC (i.e., Irvine and Costa Mesa) and there are huge numbers of people commuting to South OC that used to commute to LA. OC is sometimes called "post suburbia" because it lacks a traditional urban center, yet has the consumer, employment and entertainment options usually associated with major cities. The Great Park will make OC more interesting and difficult to categorize. We'll see how it goes.

Wednesday, February 8, 2006

Need Help Running

Every few years, I decide that I need to start running. Or better yet, since I don't run at all, learn how to. I've tried again and again and I just can't get into it. It's so hard. Eventually, I abandon it for something else, like yoga or step or spinning-- something with music or with a teacher.

Now I'm back to taking up running. I began a couple weeks ago and was able to run for three minute intervals (speed roughly 5.5 mph) without stopping. Hooray. Sometimes the back of my head would start to hurt. I don't know if that's normal.

How fast are beginners supposed to go? Should I aim for something a little faster than jogging? Should I focus on time instead of speed? I guess I should mention that the main objective is to improve my cardio, which has generally been poor. The next objective (not far behind cardio) is to tone up all the places that were more toned 5 years ago.

Sunday, February 5, 2006

Shots of LA

Lakers vs. Clippers at the Staples Center.

The view from Will Rogers State Park in Pacific Palisades. Will Rogers' polo field in the foreground, downtown LA in the far distance.

A construction site for a condominium in Silverlake.

The view from my office in downtown.

Driving on a rainy night.

Thursday, February 2, 2006

Hippo's New Mommy

Owen, a baby hippo, was rescued in Kenya after being separated from his herd during the tsunami. Rescuers released him into an animal sanctuary where he went up to Mzee, a 130 year old male tortoise. Mzee initially rebuffed the hippo, but they've since become inseparable companions. Aw shucks.

Wednesday, February 1, 2006

Chanchow Recommends: Sound and Fury

Mr. Octopus and I saw a fantastic documentary on DVD. Sound and Fury (2000) is the story of two brothers on Long Island. Peter is deaf and is married to a deaf woman. Together they have three deaf children. Their oldest child, Heather, age 5 (above), has said that she wants a cochlear implant so that she can hear. Peter and his wife are very reluctant to give their daughter the operation, fearing that she will lose her "deaf identity." The other brother, Chris, is not deaf, however, he and his wife have twin sons-- one is deaf, the other hearing. Chris and his wife want the operation for their son.

What unfolds is a fascinating and heartbreaking look at deaf culture and the cochlear implant, an operation which was (at the time of the film) "deplored" by the National Association of the Deaf. Sound and Fury is the best kind of documentary-- complex personal stories that are presented objectively and without director narration. Highly recommended!