Friday, April 27, 2007

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Stealing Buddha's Dinner

This is not a picture of me, but I have pictures from my years in Minnesota that look a lot like this.

I just finished reading Stealing Buddha's Dinner, a memoir by Bich Minh Nguyen (that's the author on the left, with her sister). Her story is a lot like mine: born in Vietnam, left on a ship out of Saigon on April 29, 1975, stopped in the Phillipines and Guam before arriving at Fort Chaffee in Arkansas. From there her family was sponsored to Grand Rapids, mine to Minneapolis. She writes about being one of the few Asian kids in her school, having white, Christian friends who thought Buddha and Asian food were weird, soaking in 80s pop culture and trying to assimilate.

If I were to write a memoir, it might turn out something like this. It was comforting to read a book that seemed familiar and real. I was tempted to send her an email saying "Hey, me too. Be my best friend?" I'll admit that I drafted an email, but didn't press send.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Sorry Mr. Fig Tree

A couple weekends ago Mr. Octopus and I decided to weed a certain part of our back yard that had been overtaken by a weedy vine-like thing that had sprouted out of nowhere. It was growing very fast and vigorously and we felt that the sooner we conquered it, the better. It had broad coarse leaves and weird bulb things (right). We had no idea what it was. Mr. Octopus tried his best to dig it all out, until he realized that it was growing from underneath the patio.

Fast forward to today. My parents came to visit and as usual, my mom, an avid gardener, looked closely at all the plantings in our yard. Turns out there is another similar weedy, bulby thing growing in the far back of the yard (no man's land) and just like the other one, it had appeared out of nowhere. My mom said it is a fig tree. Poor Mr. Figgie. No we feel sorta bad. I guess that's what eating fig newtons, as opposed to real figs, will do to you. Of course, we're going to leave the new fig tree to grow happily into a big bush, maybe something like this one (below).

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Pasadena Houses

I love old houses. So what a treat it was to walk around the Orange Grove Blvd area in NW Pasadena this afternoon. Back in the early days of LA, Pasadena was where the rich and famous built their homes. Movie stars, business moguls, robber barons. Most of LA's wealthy have since moved westward to the beach, but fortunately a lot of beautiful old houses still remain.

I love the tree lined streets and how all the houses are different. I love how the neighborhood is historic without being stuffy or too showy. I didn't see many kids (or any, actually), so I assume most of the residents are old money old people. I can understand that because if I ever moved here I would never leave.

One of the more 'modest' homes that I saw. I like the English storybookness of this house, especially the round window. These days I can't help notice landscaping (or lack thereof) and I think this house could use a few bushes and trees to soften it.

I noticed that this house hardly has any front lawn. Instead you see drought resistant, low water plants. Cacti, succulents, salvias, palms. Very eco-friendly.

Restoring this Victorian must've cost a fortune. The paint job alone must've been at least $20,000. I'm not a huge fan of this style, but this is a beautiful house. The scalloping is very cool.

Wow, four chimneys. Must be warm inside. Looks like you can walk on the rootop. Wonder what you can see from there. The door was slightly open and I was tempted to sneak in.

I really like the playful blue trim on this house. This Spanish style looks pretty modern compared to the other styles in the area.

The grand dame of the neighborhood: the Gamble House. Designed in 1908 by Greene & Greene as the winter residence of some of the Gambles (of Proctor & Gamble). The house is considered an arts & crafts masterpiece and was deeded by the family to the City of Pasadena in 1966. Lucky for us, they offer public tours of the house.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Your Friday Afternoon Video #6: Hello Kitty Transformathon

Friends of ours did this. Sanrio characters galore!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Proud to Be a Golden Bear

2005 UC Berkeley freshman class facts:

93% from California
87% from public high schools
68% have at least one parent born outside the U.S.
28% are the first in their family to go to college
74% receive some form of financial aid (all undergrads)

2005-2006 academic year in-state tuition: $7,434

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Adrian Tomine

Long-awaited Optic Nerve 11 has arrived. It's been so long since I read the last issue that I've forgotten the story, but #11 is the last in a three part series, so be sure to revisit #9 and 10. Apparently, in the new issue the main character goes from the Bay Area to Brooklyn, just like Adrian Tomine.

p.s. Finished reading #11. Spoiler warning. Basic gist of the story is this: Asian guy finds out that his ex-girlfriend (also Asian) is now dating a white guy. Spurned Asian guy feels threatened, indignant, livid... Sigh. I've heard this story before, as has just about everyone else. It may be an honest telling of the experience, but I found the story lame and tiresome.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Dancing with the Stars, Revisited

Okay, so I might have been too effusive about Dancing with the Stars a few weeks back. It's definitely not the best thing ever (not that I said that). There are way too many commercials. The results show is totally lame (I don't watch the results show, actually, I just check online to see who got booted).

So far three "stars" have been voted off and they've all been women (Paulina, a former Miss USA and Leeza Gibbons). Is that just a coincidence? It's not like the men are that great. Clyde is painful to watch, so is the guy from Cheers. Why not them?

Is it that the audience is mostly women and they don't want to vote for other women? Is it because the male dancers aren't as attractive as the female dancers? If I were to vote (and I haven't), I'd probably vote for Heather Mills.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

My Neighbor Totoro

I love this movie. It is a kids movie, but works for adults. I wish Totoro lived next to me.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

The Next Big Trip

We'll be heading to South America for the first time this June. So many interesting countries to choose from, but we decided on Chile, and boy am I excited. I really wanted to visit Patagonia, but June is winter down there, so we are instead hitting Santiago and Easter Island. Santiago looks a lot like LA, a city wedged between the ocean and the mountains. Easter Island is seriously in the middle of nowhere. A triangular-shaped island only 45 square miles big (about the size of Staten Island) and 2,000+ miles west of continental Chile (a five hour flight from Santiago).

Flag of Easter Island

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Blades of Glory

Believe me when I say this movie totally rocked. It helps that I had low expectations (as you should, too). That aside, this movie is as good as a stupid movie can be. Way better than Anchorman and Talladega Nights. Even better than Elf!

Sunday, April 1, 2007

R2D2 Comes to a Postbox Near You

What's cuter than this? If only he could deliver mail to you...