Category Archives: things I DO like

The 12 Months of 2011

..3..2..1..HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Forget the bullshit cliche New Year’s Resolution of years past. I have a new one, and one that I hope to accomplish.
Seeing all these deals for classes on GROUPON and KGBDEALS inspired me to make this resolution: to try out a new class every month. It’s going to cost time, energy, and money but I’m determined. It’s too bad I’m so picky about it though. Bikram Yoga? No thanks, can’t stand being in a sauna let alone do yoga in a heated room. Scuba class? Sounds interesting enough (I nearly drowned snorkeling in a man-made tank in DR, mind you, so a scuba class would do me some good) but it’s just an intro course, I need something that will somewhat last through the month and won’t drill a major hole in my pocket.

Hopefully this won’t fail like my “bucket list” although that’s more of an ongoing thing. I still have yet to watch “Wicked” or have a slice @ Grimaldi’s.

I’m looking forward to January’s class already, whatever it may be.

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Inception

YOUR MIND IS THE SCENE OF THE CRIME.

What a cool poster tagline. Along with an amazing cast and an intriguing trailer, I’ve been wanting to see this movie for months, but somehow ended up being one of the last of my friends to watch it. It was all over everyone’s Facebook statuses being described as “amazing”, “mind blowing”, “great mind fuck” etc. Did it live up to the hype? Well, it was a good movie. Leo was superb, as usual, but the supporting cast was very good as well, although at some points there was very little dailogue, as with most action-ish flicks. The visuals were beautiful, nothing overly sci-fi but some effects were too obviously Warner Brother-esque. The plot…oh the plot. That’s what I have my issues with. It was not “amazing” nor did it blow or fuck my mind.

The plot sounded complicated and I was fully ready to be taken on this trippy, outer body experience that would make me question my very existence with this kind of plot. That experience never came. It was actually quite straight forward, and simple, up to the point where you didn’t really have to think, because everything actually made some sense, it was just executed in a complicated, cinematic way with plenty of sidestory and visual distractions. I’m not dumping on this movie, since I liked it way more than films like Matrix or Vanilla Sky (wonder if anybody made the Vanilla Sky comparison yet, because it reminds me more of that than The Matrix) but I was really hoping to have my world rocked. It’s not that anybody ruined the movie for me, but just hearing that the ending was “open-ended and up to interpretation” and actually seeing why made me internally roll my eyes. It was a serene and peaceful ending, Christoper Nolan was probably trying to make it eerily ambiguous and for me it came off as boring and groan inducing.

Despite all my bitching and nit picking, I did like the movie and I would probably give it an 8/10. Leo and that Gordon-Levitt kid made the movie for me, Cillian Murphy had a weak character to work with but his very presence was good enough to add to the strangeness of the movie, and everyone else was good/OK but could’ve been played by anyone else. I can’t criticize the visuals though, it was definitely a treat for the eyes. My favorites were probably Gordon-Levitt’s hotel hallway scenes and when Ellen Page’s character first discovers she can manipulate the architecture of the street.

I say, just watch the movie already if you haven’t. It has good elements in it and it’s been some time since an original screenplay has made it as a box office hit. Why should all the remakes and vampires get all the glory??

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Shanghai (Morning) Noon (Night)

I have a love-hate relationship with my mother’s motherland of Shanghai.

Ruby’s upcoming trip to Beijing & HK is reminding me of how much I do miss Shanghai…sorry, I don’t miss Beijing very much, since we went during the cruel, cruel Northern Chinese winter and walked on the Great Wall…just imagining it will give you frost bite! But to be fair, walking on THE WALL was one of the most humbling and culturally significant moments in my life. Not being dramatic here. I also can’t miss Hong Kong because I haven’t been there in 20 years or so, but I would love to revisit soon.

Summertime in the city always reminds me of Shanghai because of the humidity and the crowding, minus the STANK. I guess I can compare it to Pudong, only more interesting.

Onto my love-hate relationship with Shanghai…

These were some things Ben and I detested:
1) Traffic and lack of traffic/pedestrian etiquette.
I don’t remember how the traffic lights in Shanghai looked like and I can guarantee most of the Shanghai citizens don’t know either because NOBODY LOOKS AT THEM! It doesn’t matter if you’re crossing a tiny residential street or 6-lane traffic during rush hour. You will probably be in danger of getting run over, but for some reason, nobody ever gets run over. I suppose being a passenger is better than being a pedestrian. Despite the immense traffic and blind pedestrians, it doesn’t seem to take too long to get from Point A to Point B, or maybe it’s because everything seems relatively close together and I’m too preoccupied with staring out the window to be in a hurry to get anywhere.

2) Lack of Manners.
Don’t you hate getting on/off the train @ Grand or Canal Streets because people with shove you out of the way to get on/off the train and practically fight you for a seat? Don’t you hate that lines are non-existent at most Chinese-run bakeries/markets/restaurants/butcher shops/delis/etc? Don’t you hate that people hock loogies everywhere? Don’t you hate that people are screaming into their multiple charm-adorned cellphones? don’t you hate that nobody says “please” or “excuse me”? Well that’s what it’s like in Shanghai on a daily basis. Places like Pudong and the French Concession don’t count because they are Westernized and patrons are mainly American/European/Australian expats or visitors.

3) “You’re Not From Around Here” Radar.
Not a mainlander? Prepared to be gawked at. You know how some people actually get into fights here over “staring problems?” Yes, I’m talking to you, high schoolers, my Brooklyn bitches, and guidos! Well in Shanghai (and quite possibly in most places where the population is pretty homogeneous), nobody has a staring problem. They don’t want to start a fight or any trouble, for that matter. They know you’re not a native and they just feel like staring at you. If you haven’t guessed by now, I’m Chinese-American but I look and seem American enough for the people over there to completely ignore my Chinese-ness (funny, people here can ONLY focus on the Chinese sometimes). Thus, I can’t go anywhere without thinking I will be ripped off. Once this bitch working at the juice bar in a HuaHai Lu Mall dared to charge me 3x the amount for an off-menu item. I asked how much a plain strawberry shake w/o banana was (for some reason they only have combos, no one-fruit shakes) and she had the audacity to say it was 45RMB. So I asked her why that was since NONE of the shakes on the menu exceeded 15RMB and I’m only getting one fruit so why charge me so much. Then the juice bar bitch said it was because “cao mei hen gui” (sorry my pinyin sucks but translation: strawberries are really expensive). Woman please! Don’t try to hustle me, I’m from Brooklyn! What kind of logic is that? Suffice to say I gave her my stank face and walked off the line. Ben, being the ABC laowai that he is, had no idea what our spat was about and complained that he was thirsty. I told him to shut up and I’ll buy him a drink from the nearest Kedi (Asian 7-11).
My mom found that incident hilarious, but just as precaution, she volunteered herself or one of our Shanghai friends/family members to tag along if we need things that were service/money related like going to the salons or street markets and such. She said she feared that my bitchiness would get Ben and I into trouble, even though she generally applauded my bitchiness. Oh mother, where do you think I learned it from? Other than being ripped off, people also stare at you if you speak anything other than Shanghainese (local natives). They will then proceed to speak to you in Mandarin, since it’s the lingua franca of China, but little do they know, my dialect is better than my Mandarin. How can they tell you are not from around the area, even if you are ethnically Chinese? Same way we can tell who’s a tourist from the MidWest (fanny-packs, mom jeans, feathered hair), Europe (casually stylish, pimp ass camera, speaking rapidly and quietly to each other), etc.

OK, enough things that I hate about Shanghai. There are several things I love as well:

1) Munchies.
I’m going to say it now. Shanghainese cuisine is not my favorite, and I don’t think they are world-renowned for their cooking either. However, they do have some amazing munchines. You all know about the famous XIAO LONG BAO (literally: little dragon buns, but it’s really just soup dumplings with pork). Yes, it’s xiao long bao (Shanghainese: “shaw long baw”), and yes, I do have a gripe about people who insist on calling them “siu long bao” in their attempt to correct me. What are you correcting me in? I’m saying it the correct way, maybe I should correct you. To my Cantonese people, when was the last time you had a good XLB in Guangdong or Cantonese dimsum establishment? Never? Exactly. Now the XLB gets all the glory for being the most famous regional dish, but if you haven’t had shengjian mantou (Shanghainese: “san ji mudou”) you haven’t lived life. In layman’s terms, it’s a pan fried XLB but it’s super savory. The best place to get it would be the chain of fried dumpling joints: Yang’ sfry Dumpling. No that was not a typo on my part, that’s how their signs read as you can see from the title picture lol. BTW, aside from the upscale restaurants and foreign chains (Starbucks, Haagen Dazs, etc), most food in Shanghai is insanely cheap. Example: a dozen sanji’s will run you around $2.20 USD, a Nestle King Cone is around 60 cents, most 20-oz. bottled beverages are under $1 USD.

24/7
2) If NYC is the city that never sleeps, then Shanghai is the city that never, ever sleeps. I know there are more residential areas where it’s quieter and not safe to wander at night, but for a city with over 19 million inhabitants, how can one find time to sleep? Something is always open, be it a restaurant, karaoke mega lounge, night food market, or smaller shopping boutiques (they close, but not until really late). It’s also convenient to get to because they are all crammed together.

Lights! Camera! Action!
3) Blueberry flavored Lay’s chips? An entire supermarket aisle devoted to instant noodles? Flexible no-contract cell phone plans? TV on the subway? It’s still not as technology advanced or quirky as say, Tokyo, but Shanghai has so many flavors, colors, options, customize-it-yourself choices that the combinations just don’t end. I’ve always wondered why out-of-staters are so fascinated and head over heels for NYC (well I know WHY, we’re awesome) when we take everything for granted here. It’s because the rest of America, save for a handful of cities, is incredibly dull. I’m talking tree-lined streets that all look the same, with strip malls that all have the same stores, and places that actually close on Sundays, or clubs/bars (if any) that close at 2AM. Now just imagine how weird I felt when I came back from NYC after being in Shanghai and actually feeling really bored. I mean, we are amazed at new flavors of Doritos, for crying out loud. The other day, I was using the bathroom at the Time Warner building and was excited when I saw that the mirrors had tv screens behind them. Are we that homely here?

Every time I even make a slight mention about Shanghai, my mother jumps at the chance to ask me when I want to go. Honestly, as much as I do miss it sometimes, I am not ready to go back, and certainly not in the summer (I forgot to add, SUMMER IN SHANGHAI IS A NIGHTMARE!) because I’d still like to live and breathe in a clean, humidity-free environment and not wonder when the next rainstorm will be. I’m contemplating on going in October, when the weather will be pleasant and I’ll catch the World Expo near it’s end. The operative word here being contemplating. If I have to save up that much for a future trip, I would like to visit a place I haven’t been to yet. I’m leaning towards Tokyo&Seoul, or a little Eurotrip. Stay tuned.

Hope my little post on my mother’s motherland was informative. Have fun in Shanghai and don’t come back until you’ve hit up YANG’ SFRY 😉

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Asian-Americans + Youtube = good entertainment.

insert Asian-American Youtuber here

Although I do wish for more of my fellow Asian-Americans to break into mainstream entertainment, there are several individuals out there who are making a name for themselves on Youtube. They’re already really popular but hopefully this will spread the word even more for these talented and entertaining Youtubers. In no particular order:

*Michelle Phan
If you don’t know her by now, she’s one of the most well known, if not the most well known makeup gurus on Youtube. Most of her tutorials involve a ton of makeup and million steps but she has some pretty good tips and results. She even scored a gig as the online makeup consultant for Lancome. She’s very creative and crafty, she has “normal, everyday” makeup looks as well as some more out there ones. Here’s one of my favorites, her Lady Gaga Bad Romance inspired look. It’s at 5+ million hits and counting.

*WongFuProductions which consists of Phil, Ted, and Wes. I’m particularly fond of this group because I’ve first heard of them when I was either a senior in high school or freshman in college. Back when they didn’t even have a Youtube channel. It was when that whole Asian guys doing video parodies of pop songs craze started. After leaving college, they stopped with the pop songs and started their own filming company I think? Something like that. They expanded to shorts, music videos, college campus tours, and many, many other activities. They feature a lot of other young, up-and-coming Asian-Americans musicians and entertainers so I really admire them for what they are doing. Here’e an oldie but goodie, it’s a longer comedic short about the whole Asian Girl with White Guys phenomenon, appropriately entitled, Yellow Fever. Enjoy! I know I did.

*KevJumba as well as his click-to-fundraise channel, JumbaFund. I stumbled across his name because he was featured in a comedic short with WongFu. Turns out, he’s one funny kid. I think it’s amazing that his popularity grew when he was just a high schooler, and with very little special effects or cgi or whatever they do on computers. It was just him ranting about Asian stereotypes in front of his webcam and with some random amateurish sound effects thrown in. Then BAM! He gets over 2 million hits on his very first video. Impressive. He’s funny, he makes good points, and his dad is also hilarious. I haven’t followed his channel for too long but it was odd to watch his old videos and his current ones on the same day because you realize how much he’s grown/matured but his facial expressions remain the same, which is great. Laugh with him! His fundraising channel is also a great way for him to raise money using his popularity, for a good cause, can’t say no to that. Those videos are also very entertaining to watch.

*CommunityChannel. Also another Youtuber I discovered via WongFu’s videos. She’s Asian-Australian to be exact, and she’s one funny chick. Her name is Natalie, btw. She has short comedic videos and she has a good sense of humor. It’s very refreshing to see a girl be funny, dorky, and self-deprecating for once. I don’t know, are most Asian girls just not funny or are just too scared to show their funny side? I’m all for acting feminine and serene, but one can’t be dainty 24/7 that is just boring! Check her out, you’ll have a good chuckle.

*Legaci. I’ve only started watching them on Youtube, but I like them. I heard of them through one of Justin Bieber’s videos. (Yes, I like his music and think he’s quite adorable, no shame in admitting that! Although I don’t have Bieber-fever…maybe just a cold). I’m no music expert but they seem to have great sound equipment that also emphasizes their smooth vocals. Ear candy, anyone?

*Jay Park. You may wonder..why the hell does this kid have 3+ million hits on a cover he sings/raps while in his bathroom? It’s not that it’s an amazing, mind-blowing cover (although it is quite nice, and his rewritten rap lyrics are kind of clever)..it’s because he lifts up his shirt and shows his abs somewhere in the video. HAHA just kidding. No really, he does lift up his shirt but that’s not the main point. Turns out he’s ex-leader of a K-Pop boyband, 2PM (yes, I googled, and yes, they also have bangin bodies, but they are all too young…boohoo!). Apparently his departure from the group was (and still is, I think?) a huge controversy and now he’s back home in the states. Obviously he’s extremely popular, judging by the hits he gets and the comments by everyone. Well…welcome back to the U.S. of A, boy!

Before anybody starts thinking I’m some Youtube addict (I guess I sort of am..I prefer Youtube over Facebook now), I just wanted to spread the word on some of the Youtube channels and users that I liked. I follow others, but I just wanted to shine a light on my fellow brethren today, lol. They’re well-known already, but anything to help expand their popularity, I’m all for it.

Happy Friday! Our summer-like weather luck has run cold, literally. Mother Nature, you tease us so bad.

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TeleVision

watch me!

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Half Of My Heart

That’s my new favorite John Mayer song at the moment.

Anyway, thanks to my buddy Phil, or P.So as I like to refer to him, I got tickets to go see John Mayer @ MSG. I like John Mayer but also thought he was kind of a jerk based on the idiotic comments he made about how his penis is like some KKK clan leader or his sexual escapades with Jessica Simpson. TMI JOHN, T M I! Despite that, I still think he’s a great musician not to mention he’s cute. Not the Justin Bieber kind of cute (*aww pinches cheeks, tossles hair*) or the Taylor Lautner kind of cute (*hump hump hump baby*) but he’s..regular guy that’s not that regular kind of cute, does that make sense? I have a thing for guys that look like that..explains why I like James Franco, although the latter being hotter.

OK back to the main point, for some reason P.So did not want to come to the concert with me despite the fact that I know he likes John Mayer and that it was his birthday (although he DENIES DENIES DENIES). I took Ceci instead, and we had a very interesting (in a good way) time. So that Thursday night was looking a bit dismal thanks to the huge snowstorm (wasn’t too bad upon leaving my house though). We found our seats but the opening act was still playing so Ceci suggested we go downstairs to find better options for food and try to sneak into the empty seats on a lower level for a better view (hehe, I love scheming Ceci).

We make our way downstairs and this lady stops us. Some usher. She asks for our tickets and we made up some excuse of how we were just looking for food (which IS true, just not the WHOLE story) and then she just keeps asking for our tickets (ack! we’re in trouble!), I find my ticket and give it to her and she takes it away. But!! Don’t feel too bad for us, she gives us a pair of new tickets, smiles, and says, “I think you will like these tickets”. OH WE DID, WE REALLY DID. Turns out, we got one level up from the ground, which put us right next to the stage! We hugged her and thanked her and went on our merry way.

To be honest, I didn’t have huge expectations for this concert. I know he’s a great artist and all, but I just expected him to sit on a stool and croon away for 2 hours. Also, the place was half empty. By the time John Mayer got on stage though, the place was PACKED. Must’ve been 20,000 people cheering, dancing, throwing their panties @ him haha. He’s a great singer, performer, and guitarist…he switched guitars for every song, btw. Ceci and I kept fangirling over how adorable he looked..kind of like a supersenior high school student sitting in the back of the classroom looking Devil-may-care. He only talked a few times for brief moments but some memorable highlights:

*Our section had a bunch of rowdy teens that kept yelling out some song title they wanted him to play. This was the first time I didn’t mind a bunch of rowdy pimply teens in my vicinity because it got his attention, he kept looking our way, said a few things to them, and he actually played the song !

*Since we were right on the left side of the stage, we just stared at his profile for most of the night, but there were a few times when he came over and played and looked at us, it was too cute. He also ended the concert on our side too, playing this crazy guitar rift on the floor, I recorded a video of him playing it which I accidently deleted =*( but trust me when I say, it was awesome.

*He exclaimed, “I’M NOT AN ASSHOLE!” haha. self-explainatory.

*He came out for an encore and performed 2-3 songs. YAY!

It was my first concert and it was definitely a very memorable experience. Still high off the John Mayer-goodness, I went home and created a  Twitter just to Tweet him with HAHA. Future concerts I would want to go to would be : Lady Gaga and Black Eyed Peas 😉

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