Around the Horn: TV Memories

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MAD MEN came to a close last night. With the exception of maybe BREAKING BAD, the show and its characters resonated with me on a personal level. It wasn’t always the easiest show to watch–not as purely entertaining as something like HOUSE OF CARDS or WALKING DEAD–but the world that creator Matt Weiner has given us is so detailed, real and emotional that it feels like more than the loss of just a TV show.

It may be a weird comparison but it’s similar to how I felt about GILLIGAN’S ISLAND when I was a kid. As sitcom-y and often stupid as that show got, as a child, there was something about the premise of these people being stuck on an island and not being able to get off as hard as they tried that really struck a chord (and to give credit to the actors, they did a great job of really breathing life into the characters who could’ve easily been complete caricatures). At some point, I realized I had watched all the episodes and there were no new ones and it felt like I was losing a connection to characters that had become a part of my life. It was the first time I realized how invested you could get in a work of fiction.

What’s the TV series that you’ve had the most personal investment in–good or bad? It’s not necessarily your “favorite” show but the one that really impacted your life on a level that made it more than just a TV show?

AROUND THE HORN: Sunk Costs and Prices We Pay.

As I was in an introspective mood recently, a brutally honest assessment of my life so far guided me through a handful of situations where the Sunk Cost Fallacy threw a wrench into the clockwork of my life.

I distinctly remember dating someone that, once we passed a certain amount of time together, I found very hard to tear myself away from. It wasn’t healthy; neither of us was happy; but we both stuck it out until it exploded into a magnificent set of flames.

At least we didn’t get married.

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What situations have you been in where the Fallacy has come into play? Are you in one right now?

PHILIP: I should start off by saying that I don’t necessarily subscribe to this idea that you invest so much into something that ends up being “negative.” I think even in the example of your relationship, as bad as that experience might have been, I’d like to think it led you to re-assess certain things about yourself and what you learn from that experience is just as valuable than if the relationship had turned out more positively.

Around the Horn: How to Stop “the Blob”

warmblobLast week Wednesday was Earth Day and I’m sure many of you saw the apocalyptic headings in the news about climate change:  an ominous “blob” of warm water off the West Coast causing all kinds of weather abnormalities, two degrees of climate change about to doom us all, 1 year of water left in California, food will become unaffordable, etc.

Anyone who lives in California knows we now have mandates to reduce water usage by 25% or more in some cities.

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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):

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Coil, by Akihisa Hirata

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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.