Around the Horn: 3 Go to Films That You Watch Over and Over

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Eric Nakamura: These are the films that you’ll watch over and over each time they appear on cable. Some might be terrible, some will be cheesy, but you can’t help yourself. The catch is, even if it’s a “bad” film, it always appears when you’re channel surfing. Why do we do it? Is it a scene that you like? Let’s break it all down. Why? and What Specific Scenes capture you?

1) ALMOST FAMOUS

Why: It’s the idea of being a rock journalist kid, trying to get into a show, and then hanging out with bands. Ultimately it leads the protagonist to be a successful writer at 15. I once photographed bands, hung out with a bunch, and then turned a zine into a magazine. I guess there are some parallels there.

Around the Horn: Dream Home

I collect Japanese “mooks” (magazine-books) that feature home decor, design, architecture, lifestyle, etc.  They are probably my favorite possessions.  I pet them and salivate on them.

Here are a couple of pages I scanned from Casa Brutus magazine (please pardon the sub-excellent scan job):

COIL

Coil, by Akihisa Hirata

REFLECTIVE_POOL

Optical Glass House, Hiroshi Nakamura

Around the Horn: Nostalgia Food

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Even though I did not grow up in Hong Kong, I went there often as a child as my father’s side of the family is from there. One of my favorite places to eat was the Chinese diner or “Cha Chaan Teng” – essentially a “tea canteen” that served Cantonese street-food classics (bbq, noodles, etc) along with western food done Chinese style to Hong Kongers. My favorite meal that I would share with my grandmother would be soy sauce roasted quail (with a dark caramelized, crispy Peking duck-like skin and itty, bitty drumsticks that I’d gnaw on like Sylvester the cat), borscht soup (more sweet than sour), and chestnut paste layer cake – these were probably the most refined items on the menu which suited her Shanghainese tastes.

If I was craving comfort food, I’d dig into their baked rice or noodle dishes which essentially was a protein on top of starch drowned with a rich sauce and baked in the oven to perfection. So that means either ketchup fried rice or spaghetti noodles with baked pork chop in tomato sauce or, “portuguese chicken” which is basically a coconut curry chicken baked in rice. And to wash it all down, I’d slurp down either a HK milk tea (basically strong black tea with sweetened cream), ovaltine (the malty British iteration), or a red bean icee (tall glass with red beans, crushed ice and sweetened milk). I have a big sweet tooth so the intense combination of sweet and savory and more sweet put me in my happy place. Also the fusion of east and west, kid food (noodles plus ketchup, ovaltine) and grown up food (Cantonese classics and baked rice) all mixed up – is both a reflection of my identity and palate so there’s a certain gastronomic synchronicity that makes me feel just at home.

Around the Horn: Coffee, Tea or…?

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So since we’re Asians, we’re supposed to drink tea, right? But I’ve just never had any affection at all for the stuff. Maybe this dates back to PTSD from being a kid at LA Chinese restaurants with my parents, who wouldn’t buy me a soft drink (back in the ‘60’s, even ice water wasn’t necessarily assured), and I assumed they were being cheap. Don’t even get me started on their sketchy justification that one should drink hot beverages in warm water to cool off. Really?! Then how come no one ever suggests drinking icy beverages when it’s freezing outside to warm up? In any case, I ended growing up into a total coffee person: love the stuff, the more bitter and full-bodied the better, and I probably drink too much of it. As for tea, well, I accept in theory that it’s a subtler drink, which cultivates a more refined palate — but c’mon, it tastes to me like water with some vague scent added. How about you guys? Tea? Coffee? Or some other preferred hot beverage?

Around the Horn: “Reading is so Passé”

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For the past 5 years I’ve been listening to audio books of all kinds. Once upon a time, I used to love going to the bookstores and browsing for hours to find the perfect book to spend my time reading on my comfortable chair, but now I listen to voice actors dramatizing my virtual book on my ride to work… AND I LOVE EVERY MINUTE OF IT!!!!

I never found anything wrong with this convenient way of getting through all the books that I want to read, but recently I’ve shared this new passion with a close friend of mine and he told me, “THAT’S NOT READING! Don’t say that you’ve read that book when you clearly didn’t turn a single page”… funny how that struck a chord with me that now I felt that for the past five years I’ve really failed to really “read” a book. And yet, I’m fine with it.

Funny story. I was listening to “The Child” read by British actors. I told my wife that it was hard to listen to them with their heavy accents, so I commented by saying, “I feel like I needed subtitles for the actors.” My wife responded, “… Like a book?”

Do you think by listening to Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood” or even E L James’ “Fifty Shades of Grey” dampens the experience of reading the actual words in the book? I want to hear the writers opinions on this subject since the written art can now be consumed by listening while doing laundry.

AROUND THE HORN: Money Saving Strategies

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Let's go!!!

Let’s go!!!

I have now moved three times in less than 2 years. Most of it for ‘unusual circumstances’: death, childbirth, a fresh start. This last move required me to somehow pack and clean my condo while post-partum: which meant dealing with sutures in my genitalia, a doctor’s orders not to lift anything above 10 lbs, dealing with milk-engorged breasts, an inability to control my pee AND poo, and oh yeah, a newborn baby. Although the baby daddy is involved, he doesn’t live with me and helping me pack doesn’t necessarily come in the co-parenting packet. So even with two people, it’s really only one person moving stuff since one person’s whole job is to ‘watch baby from having meltdown’.

I don’t think moving is fun for people after the age of 24. (At 24 it seems exciting to move to bigger digs!) I find as I get older, I am reluctant to ask for help moving. It seems gauche now. Or more appropriate, it tells too much about my income, that I don’t have the money for movers and need to rely on family and friends. So believe it or not, I did move a lot of the stuff myself while baby daddy cried learning how to feed a fussy baby while I drove the car back and forth. I really was too ashamed to ask for more help. But at the same time I know my parents would be proud that I saved a few dollars!! (I still hear my day’s voice, “Don’t spend all your money in one place!!”). Moving is not “splurge-worthy”. Taking a trip to visit friends backpacking in Hawaii is “splurge-worthy” and I will drop dollars on that. :)

What ways do you try to cut corners in order to live within your means? And if you don’t cut corners, what money advice still rings in your head or that you would like to pass on?

Around the Horn: Immigration Story

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I’ve recently moved up to San Francisco for a multi generational project with the Angel Island Foundation teaching and mentoring high school kids in filmmaking. The goal of this project is to have the kids completely pull off a film production from lighting to sound to camera to interviewing elderly individuals about their immigration story. With this project, I took the group of kids to Angel Island to experience and learn about the immigration station in hopes to inspire not only interview questions but to hopefully have the kids ask their own families if they would share their story of how they came to America as well. You see, these kids are a little shy. Maybe not shy when they all hang out together. But shy in asking their parents about their past. When I was their age, I was the same. I don’t know if its a cultural thing but that’s probably a topic for another blog. But after our trip to Angel Island, a few kids have now asked their parents/grandparents to share their story and now we plan on documenting their families’ stories.

My question this week is if you know what your families’ immigration story is and if not, maybe it’s time to ask before that history gets lost.

Around the Horn: Remembering Leonard Nimoy

TREK

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As a Trekker, I loved Leonard Nimoy’s portrayal of Mr. SPOCK, truly one of the greatest fictional characters of all time. By the time of this post, you will have read several reflections on STAR TREK, Spock and Nimoy on this blog, including my quick moment thanking him for his contribution to my pop culture upbringing, as well as Guest Offender Liz’s own thoughts on him.

What were your favorite memories of Mr Nimoy? Yes, everyone knows him as Mr Spock (and what a character to be typecasted) but his contributions to pop culture were influential….

Around The Horn: How Free Should Free Speech Be?

When is it okay to yell “Fire!” in a crowded movie theater?

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According to the authority figures of my youth, “never.” This question was presented to us as a simplified, kid-friendly way to explain what the limits of free speech were.

Around the Horn: Love Songs Playlist

INFATUATION

Valentine’s Day might be over, but that doesn’t mean you can’t pull out that romantic playlist. Here’s mine, what’s yours?

“Lady” D’Angelo
“Say You Love Me” Fleetwood Mac
“Kiss of Life” Sade
“Tender Love” Force MD’s
“I Would Die 4 U” Prince
“Again” Janet Jackson
“Love Come Down” Evelyn Champagne King
“Saturday Love” Cherrelle and Alexander O’Neal
“All I Do” Tammi Terrell
“Maps” Yeah Yeah Yeahs

AROUND THE HORN – Not so fresh, “Fresh Off The Boat” moment…

I had quite a few favorite moments watching ABC’s world premiere of “Fresh Off The Boat” last Wednesday.  One moment I just can’t seem to get out of my mind is when Eddie brought mom’s special Chinese lunch to school and opened it in front of the “popular” kids in the cafeteria.  All the non-Asian kids freaked out, disgusted by the mere sight of one of Asia’s great culinary staples.  And Eddie, trying hard to validate his nut, had to slink away, ashamed, back to the “colored” table.

I had a moment very similar to FOB’s Eddie.  But instead of a bowl of fried noodles, my mom sent me to school with a rice ball.  Now understand, I LOVED my mom’s rice balls.  It was one of my favorite foods that I would eat all the time at home, on our station wagon road trips to national parks, and at countless family gatherings.  We had just moved from Illinois to Southern California.  It was 1978 and I would be starting my first day of 2nd grade at my local elementary school.  Mom bought me a new backpack, new clothes, and a new lunch pail for my first day.  I was ready.  Boy was I in for a surprise, for my mom, in her most thoughtful way, packed me my favorite food for my first lunch.  Who knew that in about 4 hours, my favorite food of all time would become one of my biggest embarrassments.

Around the Horn: Single Parenting

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I want to take the opportunity to say a big congrats to fellow Offender Beverly who’s going to be a single parent. I’m also planning to be a single dad through surrogacy next year… I meant I have already started the process and am planning to have the child next year. I’ve always wanted to have a child since I was a teenager, and it seems like these couple years feel the right time to do it. It’s now or never. What are your thoughts on single parenting? Were you raised by a single mom or dad? What advice, thoughts or blessings would you give us?