Around the Horn: Imagedrooling

Years ago, I saw an ad in a Japanese magazine that depicted a couple enjoying a refreshing, sumptuous lunch on a wooden platform built over a resplendent yet gentle waterfall in the midst of spring.  I think it was a sake ad.  I salivated over the memory of this magical image, and asked a Japanese friend where I could find something like it.

“That was just an advertisement,” she said, smiling.  “There is no place like that.”

Recently, while watching an NHK nature/food/culture documentary (the kind with a tranquil English speaker’s voice and Ryuichi Sakamoto playing contemplative, tender piano), I caught a two-second glimpse of something resembling the ad, and the words “Kibune kawa-something.”

“It EXISTS!!!”  I ran to my desk for a pen and paper.

The sake advertisement had depicted a gloriously Photoshopped version of kawadoko, a summertime dining treat made famous in the Kyoto area (and particularly in the mountain village of Kibune).  Folks seeking escape from the heat and humidity enjoy kaiseki-ryōri and cold nagashi-sōmen on a deck over a rushing mountain stream.

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Around the Horn: Where’s James Bond?

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I recently saw the trailer for the next James Bond installment SPECTRE and felt a sense of sadness because I could no longer recognize James Bond as James Bond. The franchise has noticeably been moving in a moody, forboding direction – more of an action-noir than escapist romp. But now he feels less like James Bond and more like the lovechild of Jason Bourne and Chris Nolan’s iteration of Bruce Wayne/Batman…Where’s the international playboy? The indulgence in the lifestyle? Bond savoring a martini that’s shaken, not stirred. Hot women coo-ing “Oh…James” after a nightcap? Are those escapist elements a staple of a bygone era that no longer has relevance today? Has the 2008 financial meltdown sobered us all up including Bond? And we just can’t let our spies have fun while saving the world without thinking about our wasted tax dollars?

I do miss the old James Bond films and I think the best ones have the title song that captures the decade. The cheeky 60s GOLDFINGER, the psychedelic 70s LIVE AND LET DIE. And even the trashy 80s VIEW TO A KILL. Though that film is not the best from the period (I prefer the campy MOONRAKER) I give them pop culture cred for using Duran Duran for the title song and Grace Jones for a hench-woman cameo.

Which is your favorite Bond film? Do you think the playfulness and indulgence of that character is no longer relevant?

Around the Horn: Karaoke Songs

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Karaoke at Nick’s Lounge in Berkeley, CA.

DOM: As some of you know I’m a big karaoke nerd. I have a fledgling reality show about the Bay Area karaoke scene at karaokerhapsody.com. The premise of the show focuses on the internal aspect of karaoke — the thought process you go through when you want to be part of a song that will help work out something in your day or your life. This is what makes the karaoke bar scene interesting to me, and it has very little to do with quality of singing, American-Idolesque affectation and gratification, or “getting the crowd going” (oh how I loathe that phrase, it’s part of it but it’s far from the most important part of it). It’s about people having an authentic moment in a public place that can come from the love of music without actually involving good music.

Around the Horn: Jennifer Pan Smackdown (Phil vs. DHH)

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I’m old enough to remember when people who disagreed politically routinely counted each other as friends. Nowadays, it seems we’ve become such a polarized nation that it’s hard to tolerate disagreement. But as a throwback to those earlier times, I’d like to disagree with a dear colleague whom I like and respect very much: our fellow Offender Phil.

Phil wrote a blog post on this site last week entitled “The Case of Jennifer Pan & Why Being a Victim of Tiger Parenting had Nothing to Do with Murder.” You can read it here; basically Pan is a Chinese Canadian from Toronto who put a hit out on her Tiger Parents. Now, I think we can all agree that we don’t like it when immigrant parents are stereotyped. But I think my friend Phil overstates his case when he claims that Tiger Parenting “had Nothing [my emphasis] to Do” with the murder attempt.

Motivation is key to success… so where are my keys!

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In the last year or so my wife got off the couch and started running and lost like 20 pounds and ran many 5Ks as I sat on the sidelines.  Is that enough motivation for me to do that too… nope.  I recently went on vacation and sat at the beach and observed that there are many dads with potbellies and lack the strength to keep up with their kids… still not enough motivation for me.  Even if my doctor says, “You must exercise for your family’s sake”… yet I will go home and eat a salad and think about working out.  What’s wrong with that?!

Around the Horn: Mixing Children into the Theater audience

More swords!  More blood!  We must entertain the CHILDREN!!!!

More swords! More blood! We must entertain the CHILDREN!!!!

I work at a fair-sized non-profit theater in the education department, and my goal is to bring the joy of live theater to kids in the public and private school systems. So today, I proudly led 60 enthusiastic student-actors and their families to our main stage show tonight to see a classic piece of Spanish theater complete with sword fights and classical text and fake blood! Huzzah!

I nervously stood to the side, gathering my courage to say the curtain speech -a duty given to all company members at some point- when I overheard one of the regular patrons grumble to her partner, “There’s kids in the audience.” The excited kids nearby got quiet and slumped in their seats.

Around the Horn: I’m Batman

San Diego Comic Con has just ended and I’m sure it was another memorable conference with really long lines for events. I myself have never been to Comic Con but I sure do look at all the pictures and videos that come out of the exciting week of geekery. I just read that Ben Affleck, who will be playing the new Batman in the highly anticipated Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice, will be directing, co-writing, and starring in his own stand-alone Batman movie. Part of me cringes since he single handedly ruined my favorite Marvel character Daredevil. But since there have been so many actors who have portrayed Batman, anything is possible right? For me I would have liked to see Michael C Hall from Dexter play Batman. Tall, dark, mysterious, seems to have lotsa personal problems, probably can kick ass, and more importantly, embodies the character he plays. Plus if he did a little Dexter revenge killing on the side as Batman, that would be a pretty gnarly side story.

Michael C. Hall

Michael C. Hall

I know Anderson just mentioned the old Tim Burton’s Batman premiering in Hawaii and Phil about (Mis)cast but to bring up the Batman subject up again, if Ben Affleck could be casted as Batman, who else would you want to see play Batman?

Around the Horn: Summertime Memories

Tim Burton's BATMAN opening night at the former Waikiki #3 back in 1989.

Tim Burton’s BATMAN opening night at the former Waikiki #3 back in 1989.

Growing up in Hawaii, summer was a year round thing. But there are activities that I did as a kid (what us locals lovingly call the hanabata days) that remind me of summer. One of my best memories was riding my bike with my brother and some neighborhood kids down to Manoa stream behind the University of Hawaii and fishing for crayfish with our little nets and we would take home our catch in a tiny plastic bucket. Or another memory was going to the beach at night to go crab hunting with my dad and cousins. Maybe it reminds me of summer because we didn’t have school, so we could stay up late at night.

Got Religion?

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Last Tuesday night, after the Golden State Warriors won the NBA finals, I drove into downtown Oakland to see if anybody was celebrating. I didn’t expect much: the Warriors clinched in Cleveland, so I thought it would be relatively quiet out.

I was wrong.

Golden State Warriors Victory Parade And Rally

(like this, but dark out)

There were dozens of police cars, hundreds of cops, streets were blocked off, helicopters hovered overhead…downtown was packed and loud and frenzied…and everyone was….happy, the cops included. On the city’s main thoroughfare, Broadway, which I could only glimpse from half a block away, people were jammed shoulder to shoulder, chanting “Warriors,” honking plastic horns, and dancing. Just to be able to leave the area I had to drive three blocks, backward, the wrong way, on a one way street, past cops. And no one cared: the cops just smiled when I gave them a “sorry, what can I do?!” glance.

And then I thought: this is a form of religion – a huge group of strangers coming together to celebrate something bigger than themselves and feel united.

Around the Horn: Transracial Edition

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In light of the discovery of Rachel Dolezal being white and not actually black as she claims, a lot of questions of race come up. Well we now know she’s white but she seems to think and live her life otherwise. In terms of race, and looking at being Asian, do you actually have to be Asian to be an Asian? What does being Asian even mean? Can others represent us and/or understand us? Can they speak for us? And educate others about being Asian? Or is the Asian experience just being Asian? What does being Asian mean to you?

ATH – What’s Your Secret YouTube Video Fetish?

What is your surprising and/or secret, YouTube video fetish?

Mine are ear wax removal videos.  I have no idea how I stumbled across them. They’re fascinatingly gross.  I don’t watch them all the time nor often.  But when I do come across one, I watch them with an intense interest of wow and disgust.  I like them but I don’t like them.  I feel like I should turn away from the screen but can’t.

Haven’t seen one before?  Here’s an ear wax removal goodie titled “Impacted Wax and a Roach In Guys Ear.”

A close cousin to ear wax removal videos is one’s involving blackhead extractions.  YouTube recommended them to me since I was already a fan of ear wax extraction.  Again, a bit gross yet fascinating.  Here’s a blackhead removal goodie titled, “25 Year Old Blackhead.”

So what’s your surprising and/or secret YouTube video fetish?  What’s that thing that you watch every now and then that surprises you that you even watch them?

Around the Horn: Your First Scary Movie

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What’s the first scary movie you’ve seen or the first scary movie that scared you shitless? I have to say it’s THE MANITOU in 1978, the first horror film I saw in a theater as a kid. I was so scared that I ran out of the theater with my friend halfway through. The film starred Tony Curtis as a psychic whose girlfriend was being possessed by an evil Indian spirit that grew from a tumor on her neck to a full size demon. I finished the movie later on video on VHS as a teenager.