Saturday, January 31, 2009

Stuffed, Southern-Style

It's my uncle's birthday tomorrow (the one staying with us for a month) so we decided to celebrate today!

We (the father, mother, uncle, and two daughters) decided to go to my dad's current favorite restaurant, Lucille's Smokehouse Bar-B-Que. He loves barbecue, he loves Southern food, and he loves (crappy) American beer. My uncle didn't know any better, so he agreed and off we went.

We got something called a Backyard Family Feast, which the menu clearly stated would be served family-style for four or more. Which to me means that it would serve four-ish people. Maybe four fat people or five skinny-ish people. Right??

Out comes an entire rack of baby back ribs (my favorite), half a barbecued chicken (chicken is not my ideal protein (it's bland!) but it was delicious), an entire rack of giant beef ribs (I thought they were dinosaur ribs), a large bowl of macaroni and cheese, a large bowl of braised greens (excellent), four baked potatoes that were about the size of my foot, grilled corn on the cob (mercifully normal-sized), and absolutely delectable biscuits with honey butter.

The five of us, five full-grown adults, ate until we were about to pass out (while watching the Lakers LOSE like LOSERS- what the heck, Lakers?!) and still brought home three Styrofoam containers and four lidded cups of leftovers.

Wow, Lucille's. Which of your four customers can eat all that food in one sitting??

It was delicious, though. My Korean family is oddly very Southern. We all love kale and collard greens, macaroni and cheese, and buttermilk biscuits. My uncle was delighted and we managed to sneakily pay the check while he was off in the bathroom (Koreans fight- FIGHT- over who gets to pay the check. Unless it's my parents. They just look at us expectantly).


Because we're all pigs, we also came home and had ice cream cake with coffee.

Overall, a satisfying food day that's managed to put everyone in a food coma. I've only just held on because I wanted to watch "My Name is Kim Sam-Soon," which comes on at the ridiculous time of 10:10 p.m. I've watched, I've laughed, I've tsk'ed some stupid decisions, and now I'm off to bed. To resist the deep sleep of barbecue-induced exhaustion is futile!


Friday, January 30, 2009


I've been tagged by William (whose blog I love) to list 25 random things about me.

Superficial? At times. Thoughtless? Perhaps. Self-centered? OF COURSE. It's a list of things about me, what else could it be?? Here goes!

1. Although I'm told that I'm outgoing and sociable, I was painfully shy until high school, when I vowed to become less shy. I decided this my junior year and didn't fully succeed in fooling people until my second year of college. I'm still a very shy person on the inside.

2. I think the city I grew up in is the best city in the world. (Cerritos, I love you. But mostly, I love your library.) The city's in the very southernmost part of Los Angeles county, which means it butts up against Orange County. I feel superior to Orange County because I just missed having to be an Asian girl from the O.C., such a stereotype.

3. Bad spelling and nonsensical grammar make me grit my teeth. Without some sort of outlet for the frustration, I'm liable to start hitting people with my laptop., anyone??

4. I don't eat clams (or most other types of seafood) unless it's in clam chowder. Why it's okay in clam chowder, I'm not sure, but it's the only dish I can stand it in. (And I really don't eat raw fish.)

5. I secretly think I've been smarter than every man I've dated. I also only date men that can't spell, for some reason, but I can tolerate it in them (perhaps because they give me things and tell me I'm pretty).

6. I wish I could play the piano well enough to be a concert pianist (my mother is a pianist).

7. I either love my job or hate my job at any given time. I'm never 'meh' about my job.

8. I've only ever been to four countries: Korea (I was born there), the U.S. (I live here), Mexico, and England. I would like to visit more countries! But not the third-world ones. I don't do dirt paths and/or cots.

9. I hate vacations where the sole purpose is to "see nature." If there's no bed and shower, I'm not going, stop asking. I always thought I was a "simple country girl" until I went camping after high school, and now I know. I'm a complicated city girl.

10. I want to win an Oscar. Okay, technically, I've won two Oscars ("Happy Feet" and "His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass") but I want to win one myself, where I go up and make the speech. It's not the speech so much (I don't care about it, I don't have one prepared), it's just the prestige and attention.

11. I will have been single for three years this May (I'm not counting dates, I'm counting real boyfriends). Oddly, I don't mind it- it can be boring, but I don't need a man to complete me. That's right, I said it.

12. There are two things I eat until I want to burst and then I keep eating: strawberries and spaghetti. The strawberries must be raw. The pasta must be spaghetti in a tomato-based sauce- I'm not a glutton about any other type of pasta or pasta sauce.

13. I haven't watched two of the movies I've worked on: "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor" and "Superman Returns." No team spirit for those films, I guess?

14. I'm prejudiced against cherry-flavored things. I don't know why, because I actually really love cherries.

15. Sometimes I wonder how I would do in a different career, and if I should consider switching to a completely different field. I imagine being a lawyer or a historian or an accountant or running some sort of business. I think I would like it.

16. I abhor men wearing flip-flops. Only people (women or men, I'm not (that) sexist) with pedicured feet should be allowed to show them off. Men, please consider pedicures- they feel good and they look better.

17. Summer is my least-favorite season because I don't like summer clothes and I really don't like to sweat unless I'm in sweat-specific clothes (i.e. for working out).

18. I miss drawing and painting, but not enough to do something about it. L-a-z-y.

19. From about elementary school through junior high school, I wanted to be a writer. I used to write all the time, all these little stories and poems. I stopped when I realized I'm not all that great.

20. I have the neatest handwriting of anyone I know. It's OCD neat. I don't write on the lines of paper, either, because I don't want to touch the lines, that would be wrong. I write exactly in the middle of the lines.

21. Whenever I watch Animal Planet and a big cat is chasing its prey, I root for the cat. Because I like cats, not because I want the gazelle to be dead.

22. I don't understand the popularity of people that don't do anything. Paris Hilton, I'm looking at you.

23. I got my ears pierced when I was 24. I have a scar on my left ear (long story) and I didn't want people to look at it, so I never felt like I needed earrings. It's only because people started making some seriously cute earrings that I reconsidered and pierced away (at a tattoo parlor- it was my only experience in one of those, and it was pretty cool).

24. I think I would be a good tattoo artist, but I don't think my mother would approve, so I don't pursue it.

25. In my very liberal and un-religious field, I'm secretly afraid of telling people I go to church and I'm a Christian. One of my co-workers at a different job said to me, "But you seem so ... reasonable!" when he found out I attend church. A co-worker I worked with every day, talked to every single hour.

I was inevitably influenced by William, which I say is inevitable because I read his list first, is it any wonder my thoughts ran along the same lines?? I tried not to cheat and copy, because that would be cheating.

It's interesting when faced with the task of writing totally random things about oneself. I could have gone on, because I didn't hit on a huge list of topics that I'm just now thinking of- books, music, family, aspirations, childhood, blah blah blah.

I'm not changing my answers. It's like word association, I think. The first answer is THE answer.

Thanks for the tag, Guillaume! (I took French in high school and I'm partial to French names- that's the 26th random fact about me).


Overheard @ Albertsons

Standing in the check-out line at Albertsons (to buy Pom Pomegranate Lychee Green Tea, which I love) behind a woman and a little boy, about three or four years old.

Little boy spies the last-minute-impulse-buy box of Cadbury caramel-filled chocolate eggs that are at his eye level, just under the credit card machine.

Woman: You like candy?
Boy: Yeah. I like popcorn.
Woman: Popcorn's good.
Boy touches a Cadbury egg.
Boy: Are these ... egg rolls?


Thursday, January 29, 2009

"The Raven," by Edgar Allan Poe

For me, the name Edgar Allan Poe will always bring to mind just two of his many works: "The Tell-Tale Heart" and "The Raven."

I don't know if it's because those are the first two of his writings that I read (at the impressionable age of 13, helping make me the weirdo I am) or if it's because they are so staggeringly depressing.

I have an odd love for both those works, but it's all about "The Raven" today because it was published on January 29, 1845. It's amazing that one hundred and sixty four years ago, a man wrote something still relevant in a completely different culture.

Edgar Allan Poe is fascinating to me, not just because of his work but also his personal life. He seems to have this air of melancholy surrounding him, and he looks like a downtrodden puppy in most of his photos. Exhibit A:

The man has a positively gloomy look on his face. His face is so perfectly odd ... possibly the least symmetrical face one can have while still looking "normal." His life seems, on the surface, like a novel (or a Korean drama):

- Orphaned early.
- Separated from siblings.
- Taken by sometimes brutish foster parents to England.
- Boarding school in Scotland.
- Move back to the U.S.
- Become engaged to pretty Sarah.
- Attend college for a year.
- Accumulate lots of gambling debts.
- Drop out of college.
- Pretty Sarah has married another!
- Begin writing under a pseudonym.
- Enlist in army, lying about his age.
- Leave the army before his enlistment is up.
- Move in with aunt, cousin Virginia, and brother Henry for a while.
- Attend West Point.
- Disowned by foster family.
- Purposely get court-martialed to leave West Point.
- Move to New York.
- Return to Baltimore.
- Brother Henry, an alcoholic, dies.
- Marry cousin Virginia- she is 13, Poe is 27.
- Move to New York with cousin/wife Virginia.
- Cousin/wife Virginia dies of consumption at 24.
- Poe begins drinking heavily.
- Returns to and becomes engaged to former childhood fiance Sarah.
- Dies before he can marry Sarah.

And none of that includes his writings, the many projects he undertook. The man led an extraordinary life, but not an easy one. He was deeply troubled and lost most of the people he loved.

Great artistic genius may be helped along by great emotional upheavals, but Poe couldn't have wanted to lead the life he did merely so his writings would be incredibly good.

"The Raven" made me want to get a raven and teach it to talk. And also teach it to perch on my scepter, like the witch's raven in "Sleeping Beauty." I've always been drawn to Disney villains rather than hero(ines), and I blame Edgar Allan Poe for that (plus the fab black clothes they wear).


Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore —
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
"'Tis some visiter," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door —
Only this and nothing more."

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December;
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; — vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow — sorrow for the lost Lenore —
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore —
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me — filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
"'Tis some visiter entreating entrance at my chamber door —
Some late visiter entreating entrance at my chamber door; —
This it is and nothing more."

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
"Sir," said I, "or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you" — here I opened wide the door; ——
Darkness there and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, "Lenore?"
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, "Lenore!" —
Merely this and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
"Surely," said I, "surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore —
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;—
'Tis the wind and nothing more!"

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore;
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door —
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door —
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
"Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou," I said, "art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore —
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!"
Quoth the Raven "Nevermore."

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning — little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door —
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as "Nevermore."

But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing farther then he uttered — not a feather then he fluttered —
Till I scarcely more than muttered "Other friends have flown before —
On the morrow he will leave me, as my Hopes have flown before."
Then the bird said "Nevermore."

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
"Doubtless," said I, "what it utters is its only stock and store
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore —
Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore
Of 'Never — nevermore'."

But the Raven still beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore —
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking "Nevermore."

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom's core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion's velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o'er,
But whose velvet-violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o'er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
"Wretch," I cried, "thy God hath lent thee — by these angels he hath sent thee
Respite — respite and nepenthe, from thy memories of Lenore;
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!"
Quoth the Raven "Nevermore."

"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil! — prophet still, if bird or devil! —
Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted —
On this home by Horror haunted — tell me truly, I implore —
Is there — is there balm in Gilead? — tell me — tell me, I implore!"
Quoth the Raven "Nevermore."

"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil! — prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us — by that God we both adore —
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore —
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore."
Quoth the Raven "Nevermore."

"Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!" I shrieked, upstarting —
"Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken! — quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!"
Quoth the Raven "Nevermore."

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted — nevermore!


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

9:01 and counting...

It's 9:01 and I'm still at work.

No wonder I have no time to blog.


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Culver Studios

The view from my parking spot. It overlooks the Culver Studios, which has a facade similar to plantation sets in "Gone with the Wind."

Useless picture? Yes.

I'm testing mobile blogging. I think it works!


Happy (Belated) Lunar New Year!

I have been down with a strain of flu that I haven't fallen prey to since at least elementary school. I'm still coughing, sneezing, and generally stuffy, but at least I can walk around again and seem somewhat human.

So that's my explanation as to my neglected blog and my belated New Year's wishes. (Lunar New Year was yesterday, 1/26.)

Happy New Year! 새해 복 많이 받으세요!

May it be a truly happy and prosperous year.


Saturday, January 24, 2009

Horrifically Sick

Hacking cough, fever, aches, the works.

I hate this flu.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Milk + Melamine = Death

If you see this logo, don't buy the product it's plastered on:

The SanLu Group, based in Shijiazhuang, China, is the company behind the melamine-tainted milk that killed at least six babies.

Two of the men involved in this atrocity were sentenced to death today (1/22 in China), two people received life sentences, and six people were given 5 - 15 years in jail. (Read the BBC article here.)

I cannot fathom how terrified mothers must have been, worrying for the health and safety of their babies. It has to be stressful enough to have a small crying child without the added threat of possible death.

For a company, for executives, for cow farmers, for distributors to all turn a blind eye against this type of thing just to make some money ... it's absolutely incredible.

I hope that the parents that have lost their child(ren) are feeling at least a little bit avenged today, and are sleeping just a little better.


Music Video: 가려진 시간 사이로

There's a lovely music video I saw on T.V. a few days ago that I was immediately drawn to.
First of all, one of my favorite Korean actors, Lee Seon-Gyun (이선균, sometimes also spelled Lee Sun-Gyun or Lee Sun-Kyun):

He might not be the best looking man ever, but he has the best (THE BEST) voice. It's perfection. Even if you can't understand Korean, you must watch the first few seconds of the YouTube clip below.

He was in "White Tower (하얀 거탑)" as a caring, sweet doctor, then in "Coffee Prince (커피프린스 1호점)" as a sweet, caring music producer. Those are the two dramas I've seen him act in, and he was stellar in both.

So when this music video suddenly came on, of course I was intrigued! It's a song originally by Yoon Sang (윤상, pronounced "sahng"), who generally creates very pretty ballads. This particular version of the song was recorded by Yoon Gun (윤건).

It's called 가려진 시간 사이로. When translated literally, the words mean Between Hidden Time:

가려진 = hidden, covered, protected
시간 = time
사이로 = between

The music video really illustrates, I think, what happens between those times when we guard ourselves:


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Spam! Musubi!

I think my kimchi post was a little disorganized and kind of all over the place. So I'm attempting to be more organized this time with this food post, about one of my favorite canned goods: SPAM!

Spam is, in a word, delicious.

People that don't get Spam make me sad, because it's the best of what meat has to offer- look at the picture of the can of Spam! It even says "Crazy Tasty" right on the packaging. That's some honest labeling, I tell ya.

Following are the directions for my version of a Japanese-American staple, Spam Musubi. I'm not exactly sure how the authentic recipes go, because I pretty take what I have and make do somehow.

Spam Musubi, my way

- 1 can of Spam
- About 4 cups of rice
- 5 sheets of dried laver (seaweed)
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1/2 cup corn syrup
- 2 tablespoons sake (or other cooking alcohol)
- One packet of furikake (optional)
- 1 teaspoon sesame seeds (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground red chili powder (optional)

- Small pot
- Draining rack (optional)
- Musubi mold*

*I am told that instead of buying a musubi mold, one can take the Spam can and open up the unopened side with a can opener. (Wow, how many times can I fit the word 'open' in a sentence??) I have never tried this method, as I bought a musubi mold the second I realized what Spam musubis were, but in theory, it seems as though the Spam can would work just fine. I would be careful of sharp edges, though. Here's my musubi mold:


1. Slice the block o' Spam into thin slices, about 10. The picture below is to illustrate which way to slice the Spam- you must slice it horizontally. So if you were to slice the Spam correctly whilst it was still in the can, your slice would underline the word "Spam" on the can. I've actually heard a lot of confusion about this, so I'm spelling it out.

2. Dump the rice into a big bowl. I live in a household that is very Korean, so we always have fresh rice. The reason my rice is all purple and speckled is because it's short-grain rice (regular white rice) plus wild rice plus black rice. I like the texture of the mixture better than just plain rice, which is too sticky and starchy. The rice can't be piping hot, otherwise the seaweed will disintegrate.

3. The seaweed must be cut into the correct widths. I find that the seaweed I have is perfect when cut in half lengthwise. Just for illustration, following is a picture of the whole sheet of seaweed with the lid of my musubi mold on top. Some people also cut the seaweed in half widthwise, but I like a lot of seaweed on my musubi, so I only make one cut.

All cut up:

4. Now comes the entirely optional portion: the sauce.

Sometimes, when I'm either too lazy or I'm missing an ingredient, I won't make the sauce. I'll just fry the Spam in a dry non-stick pan and use it that way. It's tasty both ways, with and without the sauce. Fried Spam has a crispy yumminess that is entirely different than saucy Spam, and both are delectable in different ways.

Here's how to make the sauce, which is not as sweet as traditional Japanese teriyaki sauce.

The ingredients are quite simple: soy sauce, corn syrup, and sake. I use a Korean brand of corn syrup and a sake make especially for cooking, which is kept in the refrigerator. I list amounts in the "ingredients" section above, but this sauce is something best made by taste.

I usually start with the soy sauce and corn syrup, heating them together over gentle heat. Once they're warm, I hit it with some sake. I continue to taste the sauce as it cooks, because I find that the hotter the sauce, the sweeter the corn syrup.

The sauce, at a simmer:

5. Once the sauce is bubbling gently, add the Spam. I like to use a rather small pot for this sauce, so I have to cook the Spam in two batches. That's okay by me, though. (Just keep in mind that the water is evaporating and the second batch will cook much faster than the first).

The Spammies are enjoying their Jacuzzi experience:

... And ... they're done. They'll turn a couple shades darker and become flexible and limber:

I like to put them on a rack so the excess sauce can drip off. There is no point in having a lot of sauce in this particular application because it just makes the rice soggy, which in turn makes the seaweed soggy, which means the entire musubi will fall apart.

Let them cool, which also lets the sauce settle into the Spam:

6. Assembly! (I usually clean up the pot and the utensils used for the sauce while the Spam cools, which is a perfect amount of time).

A bowl of water big enough for the musubi mold is important (it's shown below with the bottom half of my musubi mold in it):

The rice is quite sticky and will adhere like a stubborn ex to the sides of the musubi mold if the mold isn't watered. It shouldn't be dripping wet- dunk the mold in water and then shake off the excess water.

7. Place the bottom half of the musubi mold (the one that looks like a cube missing two sides) on top of the seaweed, lining it up to the narrow sides of the mold and leaving just a little lip of seaweed poking out nearest you.

Scoop some rice into the mold, being careful not to let the mold slide around:

Take the top half of the mold and dunk it in water, shaking off the excess. See how the stuck bits of rice come off the mold in the water? And conveniently sink to the bottom?

8. Place the top half of the mold into the bottom half of the mold and press down to shape the rice. I have read that it should be a "gentle press," but I'm not a gentle presser. I like the rice in one solid block, not a loose bundle that threatens to fall to pieces.

Here's my firmly pressed block of rice:

I usually pile the rice into the mold in two batches, because I have OCD and also because I feel that it makes a sturdier block of rice. A giant pile of rice cannot condense as nicely as two smaller piles of rice, right?

Completely optional, of course, just for crazy people like me. When I first started making musubis, I used to press the rice in as many layers as I could, to make a really perfectly squared-off chunk of rice. This two-step process is my compromise with my inner perfectionist.

9. Furikake, a fancy word that basically means "dried stuff to put on rice." It's generally dried vegetables, seaweed, salt, sometimes some dried fish, etc. I add sesame seeds (toasted, white and black) and red chili powder to my furikake, because I love sesame and I think furikake tends to be a bit sweet. The red chili powder sort of negates the sweetness. Here's my mixture:

Sprinkle it over the block of rice. I keep the bottom half of the musubi mold around the rice because I don't want furikake all over the place. I can't conquer all my OCD issues- it's one step at a time!

Here's the rice with furikake:

In order to get the bottom half of the mold off, you need to use the top half of the mold. While pushing down on the top half, pull the bottom half off from around the rice.

I wiggle the mold around a little and usually take it off at an angle, which seems to help:

10. The best part. The Spam!

11. Folding, rolling, wrapping.

Take the little lip of seaweed that is closest to you and fold it up. It will stick to the rice (conveniently). Take the long end of the seaweed and fold it up over the Spam. I try to keep the seaweed as tight as possible around the bundle without squeezing so hard that the rice oozes out. Keep wrapping the seaweed around until you run out.

Set the musubi seam-side down, so it doesn't unroll itself. Because the rice is still lukewarm and the Spam is a bit sticky, the seaweed will glue itself down.

12. I like to let the musubis cool a while before slicing them. If they're still warm, the slicing gets messy. I don't enjoy the messy, so I generally make them the night before I'm going to eat them, which means I have ample time to let the suckers cool before slicing.

I slice with a thin-bladed, very sharp knife, and keep a tall mug of just-boiled water and a kitchen towel near me. Between each slice, I dip the knife in the hot water and wipe it on the kitchen towel. It seems excessive, but because the rice and the seaweed and the sauce are all sticky, the knife gets coated with something or other between every single slice.

Little bricks of Spamalot goodness!

I honestly don't understand the American aversion to Spam. It might not be a recognizable animal, but neither are foie gras or meatloaf!

With rice to temper the saltiness and seaweed to add some texture and heartiness, Spam can be part of a very satisfying meal. Spam musubis are great picnic food (although making more than a couple cans' worth of musubis is tiring) and an even better snack. I usually won't make musubis unless I'm leaving the house, because if I'm at home, fried Spam and rice plus some kimchi is perfection.

(Off topic from Spam, I tried color-correcting my photos because they are so unattractive. Point-and-shoot cameras suck. I think the color-correction turned out a bit too dark, but because it's 24 photos, I don't care to do it all over again. I need a digital SLR camera...)


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Audrey Kathleen Ruston

Audrey Kathleen Ruston was known by her birth name, then her name was changed to Audrey Kathleen Hepburn-Ruston, then went by Edda van Heemstra before adopting the moniker that most people recognize:

Audrey Hepburn.

Today is the anniversary of her death, which occurred in 1993 from abdominal cancer. She was 63 years old, survived by the love of her life and two sons, plus legions of admiring fans and thankful people from impoverished nations.

I have an admiration for Audrey Hepburn that I don't recall ever not having. I've always found her to be so beautiful, so graceful, so effortlessly wonderful. I think "Sabrina" was the first movie I ever watched that she was in.

I was hooked- she had simultaneously an elfish, gamine quality and a sophisticated, elegant air. It's a rare trait that I don't believe anyone has replicated since, though many have tried. (Jennifer Love Hewitt, you are not Audrey Hepburn. I know you want to be- every girl does. But you aren't.)

"Sabrina" also gave me some of my first fashion revelations:

- Short hair can be awesome.
- Flat shoes can be gorgeous.
- Hoop earrings will always be in style.
- Black clothing is simple and lovely.
- I must own a ball gown, preferably one by Givenchy (Edith Head, why you so mean??).

I wanted to learn to cook eggs in France with an angry little Parisian chef chastising me. I wanted to get a French poodle and walk around train stations in a smart little suit. I just wanted to look like this:

Gorgeous, right?

Some of my favorite Audrey Hepburn movies:

"Roman Holiday" 1953
"Sabrina" 1954
"Funny Face" 1957
"Breakfast at Tiffany's" 1961
"My Fair Lady" 1964

She played a princess, a chauffeur's daughter, a bookish clerk, a hooker, and a Cockney street urchin with aplomb and humor. I love every character, every moment of those movies, and I only wish she had left more films for me to watch.

If anyone has not read it, The Audrey Hepburn Treasures is very charming. The photos! There's also a book called How to Be Lovely: The Audrey Hepburn Way of Life, which is an easy little book filled with mostly quotes and photographs.

I hope she's at peace.

(1929-05-04)Audrey Hepburn
4 May 1929 – 20 January 1993


LAX, First Thing In The Morning

I have four uncles on my mother's side of the family: one in-law (my mother's only sister's husband) and three that are my mother's brothers (one older, two younger than Mom).

The eldest of my mom's siblings, Kim Kwang-Soon (김광순), arrived in L.A. this morning. He's going to be here for about a month while he's on vacation (he's a professor at Jeonju University (전주대학교) in the music department- an article about his work (in Korean) with a picture of him).

My mom suggested that we both go to LAX in separate cars, so I can just go straight to work from the airport. I agreed ... a little hesitantly ... because his flight was scheduled to land at 7:30 a.m. I am not a morning person at all, and the prospect of waking up at 6:00 was dreadful. But I haven't seen my uncle in years (15 years!) so I agreed to leave the house at that ungodly hour and sit in traffic.

The traffic was seriously terrible. There's no traffic like L.A. traffic. It's maybe 25 miles from my house to the airport, which means, logically, that it should not take an entire hour to get there. Something that did make me laugh is the fact that my mom and I drive the exact same car (hers is 2004, mine is 2005) in the same exact color. We were a duo of white Saturn Vues chugging along on the freeway (105, I hate you).

While sitting in mind-melting traffic, I took this picture:

The clouds were so odd. Whenever I see things like that in nature, it occurs to me that if we (as an industry) created VFX images that looked exactly like this, people would think it was totally fake.

Nature creates pictures that look much faker than we do.

A picture right as I was taking the Sepulveda exit off the 105, with the giant L A X. I don't understand the point of the metal letters ... don't we all know we're at LAX?

(By the way, why do Blackberry phones take such dim photos? This is my second Blackberry, and they have not fixed the strange lighting issue. The photos taken at night with the flash are actually better than daytime photos. Odd.)

It was great to see my uncle. We had coffee (Americano for the siblings, cafe latte for me) and chatted. I have to admit, it's awkward to see family that you haven't seen in forever. I love my uncle, really, but I don't know him anymore. I imagine this is the feeling I'll have at my high school reunion, where I recognize people but I won't really know anything about them anymore (reunion is next year. Where does the time go??).

With a little trepidation and a lot of excitement, I anticipate the coming month, living with an uncle I haven't seen in 15 years.


Happy Inauguration Day!

Lots to post about today, but first up:

Inauguration day!

It was definitely all the hub-bub and madness that I expected.

Here's hoping for a great term; can this nation go anywhere but up??


Monday, January 19, 2009

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day!
I realize this is an exclusively American holiday, but it's an important holiday. I have lived in the U.S. for nearly all my life (save three little years), so I live in a bubble where this holiday is quite normal. I don't know what the impact of this day might be in the rest of the world (I did hear a news piece about it on Korean radio this morning, though).

To be completely honest, there is a lot of strong emotion, a lot of love and hate between Koreans and African-Americans. (Is this just an L.A. thing?? Or is it everywhere?) I find that we have similar tastes in food (spicy, salty, strong) and are a bit similar in terms of general personalities (loud, brash, can be overly confident). Yes, very offensive to generalize so broadly, but too bad. It's my blog, I can write what I want.

The hate exists for reasons I am uncomfortable discussing. The main point being that Koreans believe African-Americans are dangerous and rude. I have met WAY more rude Korean-Americans than African-Americans, so I don't know what's up with that stereotype. I don't know how the vice-versa goes; are Korean-Americans considered rude or dangerous by African-Americans?

It's a completely baffling situation, because I feel like fellow immigrants need to support each other. Why are we taking different sides? Why are we fighting each other? Ben Franklin once said, "We must, indeed, all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately."

It's true. Too much wasted energy has been spent on little quarrels, scuffles that only hurt our two demographics.

I guess I write about all this because I'm not entirely confident how Korean-Americans feel about Martin Luther King, Jr.

All I know is how I feel about him, about the movement, about everything he did.

There have been a lot of articles, books, poems, even songs written about Martin Luther King, Jr. I think most people have read/heard at least a few. I'm not going to tread over ground that's already been (amply) covered.

He was a great man that changed American history. I know I'm not black, but I would have a very different life had it not been for this one black man that helped steer a nation away from racial inequality. I am grateful for that, for everything he did. He might not have realized at the time how much of an impact he was going to make on other minorities, but he is a big reason that it was even possible for my family to immigrate here.

I am so sorry for his untimely death and the suffering that his family must have gone through. For a wife to know that her husband is constantly in harm's way for the good of others, for children that don't understand why their father is in jail when he didn't do anything wrong ... these are heartbreaking events that shouldn't be experienced by people that are on the right side of justice. Maybe not on the right side of the law, but definitely on the right side of justice.

Martin Luther King, Jr.
January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968

One of the most moving letters ever written (in my opinion) is one that Martin Luther King, Jr., wrote while he was in jail in Alabama. He had read a public statement that was written by eight white Alabamian clergymen and his letter was a response to it. Here's that statement from those eight men:

April 12, 1963
We the undersigned clergymen are among those who, in January, issued "an appeal for law and order and common sense," in dealing with racial problems in Alabama. We expressed understanding that honest convictions in racial matters could properly be pursued in the courts, but urged that decisions of those courts should in the meantime be peacefully obeyed.
Since that time there had been some evidence of increased forbearance and a willingness to face facts. Responsible citizens have undertaken to work on various problems which cause racial friction and unrest. In Birmingham, recent public events have given indication that we all have opportunity for a new constructive and realistic approach to racial problems.
However, we are now confronted by a series of demonstrations by some of our Negro citizens, directed and led in part by outsiders. We recognize the natural impatience of people who feel that their hopes are slow in being realized. But we are convinced that these demonstrations are unwise and untimely.
We agree rather with certain local Negro leadership which has called for honest and open negotiation of racial issues in our area. And we believe this kind of facing of issues can best be accomplished by citizens of our own metropolitan area, white and Negro, meeting with their knowledge and experience of the local situation. All of us need to face that responsibility and find proper channels for its accomplishment.
Just as we formerly pointed out that "hatred and violence have no sanction in our religious and political traditions," we also point out that such actions as incite to hatred and violence, however technically peaceful those actions may be, have not contributed to the resolution of our local problems. We do not believe that these days of new hope are days when extreme measures are justified in Birmingham.
We commend the community as a whole, and the local news media and law enforcement officials in particular, on the calm manner in which these demonstrations have been handled. We urge the public to continue to show restraint should the demonstrations continue, and the law enforcement officials to remain calm and continue to protect our city from violence.
We further strongly urge our own Negro community to withdraw support from these demonstrations, and to unite locally in working peacefully for a better Birmingham. When rights are consistently denied, a cause should be pressed in the courts and in negotiations among local leaders, and not in the streets. We appeal to both our white and Negro citizenry to observe the principles of law and order and common sense.
Bishop C.C.J. Carpenter, D.D., LL.D., Episcopalian Bishop of Alabama
Bishop Joseph A. Durick, D.D., Auxiliary Bishop, Roman Catholic Diocese of Mobile, Birmingham
Rabbi Milton L. Grafman, Temple Emanu-El, Birmingham, Alabama
Bishop Paul Hardin, Methodist Bishop of the Alabama-West Florida Conference
Bishop Nolan B. Harmon, Bishop of the North Alabama Conference of the Methodist Church
Rev. George M. Murray, D.D., LL.D, Bishop Coadjutor, Episcopal Diocese of Alabama
Rev. Edward V. Ramage, Moderator, Synod of the Alabama Presbyterian Church in the United States
Rev. Earl Stallings, Pastor, First Baptist Church, Birmingham, Alabama

And here is Martin Luther King, Jr.'s response to that statement:

16 April 1963
My Dear Fellow Clergymen:
While confined here in the Birmingham city jail, I came across your recent statement calling my present activities "unwise and untimely." Seldom do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas. If I sought to answer all the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would have little time for anything other than such correspondence in the course of the day, and I would have no time for constructive work. But since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I want to try to answer your statement in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms.
I think I should indicate why I am here in Birmingham, since you have been influenced by the view which argues against "outsiders coming in." I have the honor of serving as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization operating in every southern state, with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. We have some eighty five affiliated organizations across the South, and one of them is the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights. Frequently we share staff, educational and financial resources with our affiliates. Several months ago the affiliate here in Birmingham asked us to be on call to engage in a nonviolent direct action program if such were deemed necessary. We readily consented, and when the hour came we lived up to our promise. So I, along with several members of my staff, am here because I was invited here. I am here because I have organizational ties here.
But more basically, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the prophets of the eighth century B.C. left their villages and carried their "thus saith the Lord" far beyond the boundaries of their home towns, and just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the Greco Roman world, so am I compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own home town. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid.
Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial "outside agitator" idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.
You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations. I am sure that none of you would want to rest content with the superficial kind of social analysis that deals merely with effects and does not grapple with underlying causes. It is unfortunate that demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham, but it is even more unfortunate that the city's white power structure left the Negro community with no alternative.
In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self purification; and direct action. We have gone through all these steps in Birmingham. There can be no gainsaying the fact that racial injustice engulfs this community. Birmingham is probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States. Its ugly record of brutality is widely known. Negroes have experienced grossly unjust treatment in the courts. There have been more unsolved bombings of Negro homes and churches in Birmingham than in any other city in the nation. These are the hard, brutal facts of the case. On the basis of these conditions, Negro leaders sought to negotiate with the city fathers. But the latter consistently refused to engage in good faith negotiation.
Then, last September, came the opportunity to talk with leaders of Birmingham's economic community. In the course of the negotiations, certain promises were made by the merchants--for example, to remove the stores' humiliating racial signs. On the basis of these promises, the Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth and the leaders of the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights agreed to a moratorium on all demonstrations. As the weeks and months went by, we realized that we were the victims of a broken promise. A few signs, briefly removed, returned; the others remained. As in so many past experiences, our hopes had been blasted, and the shadow of deep disappointment settled upon us. We had no alternative except to prepare for direct action, whereby we would present our very bodies as a means of laying our case before the conscience of the local and the national community. Mindful of the difficulties involved, we decided to undertake a process of self purification. We began a series of workshops on nonviolence, and we repeatedly asked ourselves: "Are you able to accept blows without retaliating?" "Are you able to endure the ordeal of jail?" We decided to schedule our direct action program for the Easter season, realizing that except for Christmas, this is the main shopping period of the year. Knowing that a strong economic-withdrawal program would be the by product of direct action, we felt that this would be the best time to bring pressure to bear on the merchants for the needed change.
Then it occurred to us that Birmingham's mayoral election was coming up in March, and we speedily decided to postpone action until after election day. When we discovered that the Commissioner of Public Safety, Eugene "Bull" Connor, had piled up enough votes to be in the run off, we decided again to postpone action until the day after the run off so that the demonstrations could not be used to cloud the issues. Like many others, we waited to see Mr. Connor defeated, and to this end we endured postponement after postponement. Having aided in this community need, we felt that our direct action program could be delayed no longer.
You may well ask: "Why direct action? Why sit ins, marches and so forth? Isn't negotiation a better path?" You are quite right in calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. My citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent resister may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word "tension." I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, so must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood. The purpose of our direct action program is to create a situation so crisis packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation. I therefore concur with you in your call for negotiation. Too long has our beloved Southland been bogged down in a tragic effort to live in monologue rather than dialogue.
One of the basic points in your statement is that the action that I and my associates have taken in Birmingham is untimely. Some have asked: "Why didn't you give the new city administration time to act?" The only answer that I can give to this query is that the new Birmingham administration must be prodded about as much as the outgoing one, before it will act. We are sadly mistaken if we feel that the election of Albert Boutwell as mayor will bring the millennium to Birmingham. While Mr. Boutwell is a much more gentle person than Mr. Connor, they are both segregationists, dedicated to maintenance of the status quo. I have hope that Mr. Boutwell will be reasonable enough to see the futility of massive resistance to desegregation. But he will not see this without pressure from devotees of civil rights. My friends, I must say to you that we have not made a single gain in civil rights without determined legal and nonviolent pressure. Lamentably, it is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but, as Reinhold Niebuhr has reminded us, groups tend to be more immoral than individuals.
We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was "well timed" in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word "Wait!" It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This "Wait" has almost always meant "Never." We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that "justice too long delayed is justice denied."
We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we still creep at horse and buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, "Wait." But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six year old daughter why she can't go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five year old son who is asking: "Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?"; when you take a cross county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading "white" and "colored"; when your first name becomes "nigger," your middle name becomes "boy" (however old you are) and your last name becomes "John," and your wife and mother are never given the respected title "Mrs."; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of "nobodiness"--then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience. You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court's decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, at first glance it may seem rather paradoxical for us consciously to break laws. One may well ask: "How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?" The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that "an unjust law is no law at all."
Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority. Segregation, to use the terminology of the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, substitutes an "I it" relationship for an "I thou" relationship and ends up relegating persons to the status of things. Hence segregation is not only politically, economically and sociologically unsound, it is morally wrong and sinful. Paul Tillich has said that sin is separation. Is not segregation an existential expression of man's tragic separation, his awful estrangement, his terrible sinfulness? Thus it is that I can urge men to obey the 1954 decision of the Supreme Court, for it is morally right; and I can urge them to disobey segregation ordinances, for they are morally wrong.
Let us consider a more concrete example of just and unjust laws. An unjust law is a code that a numerical or power majority group compels a minority group to obey but does not make binding on itself. This is difference made legal. By the same token, a just law is a code that a majority compels a minority to follow and that it is willing to follow itself. This is sameness made legal. Let me give another explanation. A law is unjust if it is inflicted on a minority that, as a result of being denied the right to vote, had no part in enacting or devising the law. Who can say that the legislature of Alabama which set up that state's segregation laws was democratically elected? Throughout Alabama all sorts of devious methods are used to prevent Negroes from becoming registered voters, and there are some counties in which, even though Negroes constitute a majority of the population, not a single Negro is registered. Can any law enacted under such circumstances be considered democratically structured?
Sometimes a law is just on its face and unjust in its application. For instance, I have been arrested on a charge of parading without a permit. Now, there is nothing wrong in having an ordinance which requires a permit for a parade. But such an ordinance becomes unjust when it is used to maintain segregation and to deny citizens the First-Amendment privilege of peaceful assembly and protest.
I hope you are able to see the distinction I am trying to point out. In no sense do I advocate evading or defying the law, as would the rabid segregationist. That would lead to anarchy. One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty. I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.
Of course, there is nothing new about this kind of civil disobedience. It was evidenced sublimely in the refusal of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to obey the laws of Nebuchadnezzar, on the ground that a higher moral law was at stake. It was practiced superbly by the early Christians, who were willing to face hungry lions and the excruciating pain of chopping blocks rather than submit to certain unjust laws of the Roman Empire. To a degree, academic freedom is a reality today because Socrates practiced civil disobedience. In our own nation, the Boston Tea Party represented a massive act of civil disobedience.
We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was "legal" and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was "illegal." It was "illegal" to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler's Germany. Even so, I am sure that, had I lived in Germany at the time, I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers. If today I lived in a Communist country where certain principles dear to the Christian faith are suppressed, I would openly advocate disobeying that country's antireligious laws.
I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.
I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress. I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that the present tension in the South is a necessary phase of the transition from an obnoxious negative peace, in which the Negro passively accepted his unjust plight, to a substantive and positive peace, in which all men will respect the dignity and worth of human personality. Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.
In your statement you assert that our actions, even though peaceful, must be condemned because they precipitate violence. But is this a logical assertion? Isn't this like condemning a robbed man because his possession of money precipitated the evil act of robbery? Isn't this like condemning Socrates because his unswerving commitment to truth and his philosophical inquiries precipitated the act by the misguided populace in which they made him drink hemlock? Isn't this like condemning Jesus because his unique God consciousness and never ceasing devotion to God's will precipitated the evil act of crucifixion? We must come to see that, as the federal courts have consistently affirmed, it is wrong to urge an individual to cease his efforts to gain his basic constitutional rights because the quest may precipitate violence. Society must protect the robbed and punish the robber. I had also hoped that the white moderate would reject the myth concerning time in relation to the struggle for freedom. I have just received a letter from a white brother in Texas. He writes: "All Christians know that the colored people will receive equal rights eventually, but it is possible that you are in too great a religious hurry. It has taken Christianity almost two thousand years to accomplish what it has. The teachings of Christ take time to come to earth." Such an attitude stems from a tragic misconception of time, from the strangely irrational notion that there is something in the very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills. Actually, time itself is neutral; it can be used either destructively or constructively. More and more I feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than have the people of good will. We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people. Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right. Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy and transform our pending national elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. Now is the time to lift our national policy from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of human dignity.
You speak of our activity in Birmingham as extreme. At first I was rather disappointed that fellow clergymen would see my nonviolent efforts as those of an extremist. I began thinking about the fact that I stand in the middle of two opposing forces in the Negro community. One is a force of complacency, made up in part of Negroes who, as a result of long years of oppression, are so drained of self respect and a sense of "somebodiness" that they have adjusted to segregation; and in part of a few middle-class Negroes who, because of a degree of academic and economic security and because in some ways they profit by segregation, have become insensitive to the problems of the masses. The other force is one of bitterness and hatred, and it comes perilously close to advocating violence. It is expressed in the various black nationalist groups that are springing up across the nation, the largest and best known being Elijah Muhammad's Muslim movement. Nourished by the Negro's frustration over the continued existence of racial discrimination, this movement is made up of people who have lost faith in America, who have absolutely repudiated Christianity, and who have concluded that the white man is an incorrigible "devil."
I have tried to stand between these two forces, saying that we need emulate neither the "do nothingism" of the complacent nor the hatred and despair of the black nationalist. For there is the more excellent way of love and nonviolent protest. I am grateful to God that, through the influence of the Negro church, the way of nonviolence became an integral part of our struggle. If this philosophy had not emerged, by now many streets of the South would, I am convinced, be flowing with blood. And I am further convinced that if our white brothers dismiss as "rabble rousers" and "outside agitators" those of us who employ nonviolent direct action, and if they refuse to support our nonviolent efforts, millions of Negroes will, out of frustration and despair, seek solace and security in black nationalist ideologies--a development that would inevitably lead to a frightening racial nightmare.
Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself, and that is what has happened to the American Negro. Something within has reminded him of his birthright of freedom, and something without has reminded him that it can be gained. Consciously or unconsciously, he has been caught up by the Zeitgeist, and with his black brothers of Africa and his brown and yellow brothers of Asia, South America and the Caribbean, the United States Negro is moving with a sense of great urgency toward the promised land of racial justice. If one recognizes this vital urge that has engulfed the Negro community, one should readily understand why public demonstrations are taking place. The Negro has many pent up resentments and latent frustrations, and he must release them. So let him march; let him make prayer pilgrimages to the city hall; let him go on freedom rides -and try to understand why he must do so. If his repressed emotions are not released in nonviolent ways, they will seek expression through violence; this is not a threat but a fact of history. So I have not said to my people: "Get rid of your discontent." Rather, I have tried to say that this normal and healthy discontent can be channeled into the creative outlet of nonviolent direct action. And now this approach is being termed extremist. But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love: "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you." Was not Amos an extremist for justice: "Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream." Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel: "I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus." Was not Martin Luther an extremist: "Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God." And John Bunyan: "I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience." And Abraham Lincoln: "This nation cannot survive half slave and half free." And Thomas Jefferson: "We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal . . ." So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice? In that dramatic scene on Calvary's hill three men were crucified. We must never forget that all three were crucified for the same crime--the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment. Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.
I had hoped that the white moderate would see this need. Perhaps I was too optimistic; perhaps I expected too much. I suppose I should have realized that few members of the oppressor race can understand the deep groans and passionate yearnings of the oppressed race, and still fewer have the vision to see that injustice must be rooted out by strong, persistent and determined action. I am thankful, however, that some of our white brothers in the South have grasped the meaning of this social revolution and committed themselves to it. They are still all too few in quantity, but they are big in quality. Some -such as Ralph McGill, Lillian Smith, Harry Golden, James McBride Dabbs, Ann Braden and Sarah Patton Boyle--have written about our struggle in eloquent and prophetic terms. Others have marched with us down nameless streets of the South. They have languished in filthy, roach infested jails, suffering the abuse and brutality of policemen who view them as "dirty nigger-lovers." Unlike so many of their moderate brothers and sisters, they have recognized the urgency of the moment and sensed the need for powerful "action" antidotes to combat the disease of segregation. Let me take note of my other major disappointment. I have been so greatly disappointed with the white church and its leadership. Of course, there are some notable exceptions. I am not unmindful of the fact that each of you has taken some significant stands on this issue. I commend you, Reverend Stallings, for your Christian stand on this past Sunday, in welcoming Negroes to your worship service on a nonsegregated basis. I commend the Catholic leaders of this state for integrating Spring Hill College several years ago.
But despite these notable exceptions, I must honestly reiterate that I have been disappointed with the church. I do not say this as one of those negative critics who can always find something wrong with the church. I say this as a minister of the gospel, who loves the church; who was nurtured in its bosom; who has been sustained by its spiritual blessings and who will remain true to it as long as the cord of life shall lengthen.
When I was suddenly catapulted into the leadership of the bus protest in Montgomery, Alabama, a few years ago, I felt we would be supported by the white church. I felt that the white ministers, priests and rabbis of the South would be among our strongest allies. Instead, some have been outright opponents, refusing to understand the freedom movement and misrepresenting its leaders; all too many others have been more cautious than courageous and have remained silent behind the anesthetizing security of stained glass windows.
In spite of my shattered dreams, I came to Birmingham with the hope that the white religious leadership of this community would see the justice of our cause and, with deep moral concern, would serve as the channel through which our just grievances could reach the power structure. I had hoped that each of you would understand. But again I have been disappointed.
I have heard numerous southern religious leaders admonish their worshipers to comply with a desegregation decision because it is the law, but I have longed to hear white ministers declare: "Follow this decree because integration is morally right and because the Negro is your brother." In the midst of blatant injustices inflicted upon the Negro, I have watched white churchmen stand on the sideline and mouth pious irrelevancies and sanctimonious trivialities. In the midst of a mighty struggle to rid our nation of racial and economic injustice, I have heard many ministers say: "Those are social issues, with which the gospel has no real concern." And I have watched many churches commit themselves to a completely other worldly religion which makes a strange, un-Biblical distinction between body and soul, between the sacred and the secular.
I have traveled the length and breadth of Alabama, Mississippi and all the other southern states. On sweltering summer days and crisp autumn mornings I have looked at the South's beautiful churches with their lofty spires pointing heavenward. I have beheld the impressive outlines of her massive religious education buildings. Over and over I have found myself asking: "What kind of people worship here? Who is their God? Where were their voices when the lips of Governor Barnett dripped with words of interposition and nullification? Where were they when Governor Wallace gave a clarion call for defiance and hatred? Where were their voices of support when bruised and weary Negro men and women decided to rise from the dark dungeons of complacency to the bright hills of creative protest?"
Yes, these questions are still in my mind. In deep disappointment I have wept over the laxity of the church. But be assured that my tears have been tears of love. There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love. Yes, I love the church. How could I do otherwise? I am in the rather unique position of being the son, the grandson and the great grandson of preachers. Yes, I see the church as the body of Christ. But, oh! How we have blemished and scarred that body through social neglect and through fear of being nonconformists.
There was a time when the church was very powerful--in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the people in power became disturbed and immediately sought to convict the Christians for being "disturbers of the peace" and "outside agitators."' But the Christians pressed on, in the conviction that they were "a colony of heaven," called to obey God rather than man. Small in number, they were big in commitment. They were too God-intoxicated to be "astronomically intimidated." By their effort and example they brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contests. Things are different now. So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church's silent--and often even vocal--sanction of things as they are.
But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today's church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the church has turned into outright disgust.
Perhaps I have once again been too optimistic. Is organized religion too inextricably bound to the status quo to save our nation and the world? Perhaps I must turn my faith to the inner spiritual church, the church within the church, as the true ekklesia and the hope of the world. But again I am thankful to God that some noble souls from the ranks of organized religion have broken loose from the paralyzing chains of conformity and joined us as active partners in the struggle for freedom. They have left their secure congregations and walked the streets of Albany, Georgia, with us. They have gone down the highways of the South on tortuous rides for freedom. Yes, they have gone to jail with us. Some have been dismissed from their churches, have lost the support of their bishops and fellow ministers. But they have acted in the faith that right defeated is stronger than evil triumphant. Their witness has been the spiritual salt that has preserved the true meaning of the gospel in these troubled times. They have carved a tunnel of hope through the dark mountain of disappointment. I hope the church as a whole will meet the challenge of this decisive hour. But even if the church does not come to the aid of justice, I have no despair about the future. I have no fear about the outcome of our struggle in Birmingham, even if our motives are at present misunderstood. We will reach the goal of freedom in Birmingham and all over the nation, because the goal of America is freedom. Abused and scorned though we may be, our destiny is tied up with America's destiny. Before the pilgrims landed at Plymouth, we were here. Before the pen of Jefferson etched the majestic words of the Declaration of Independence across the pages of history, we were here. For more than two centuries our forebears labored in this country without wages; they made cotton king; they built the homes of their masters while suffering gross injustice and shameful humiliation -and yet out of a bottomless vitality they continued to thrive and develop. If the inexpressible cruelties of slavery could not stop us, the opposition we now face will surely fail. We will win our freedom because the sacred heritage of our nation and the eternal will of God are embodied in our echoing demands. Before closing I feel impelled to mention one other point in your statement that has troubled me profoundly. You warmly commended the Birmingham police force for keeping "order" and "preventing violence." I doubt that you would have so warmly commended the police force if you had seen its dogs sinking their teeth into unarmed, nonviolent Negroes. I doubt that you would so quickly commend the policemen if you were to observe their ugly and inhumane treatment of Negroes here in the city jail; if you were to watch them push and curse old Negro women and young Negro girls; if you were to see them slap and kick old Negro men and young boys; if you were to observe them, as they did on two occasions, refuse to give us food because we wanted to sing our grace together. I cannot join you in your praise of the Birmingham police department.
It is true that the police have exercised a degree of discipline in handling the demonstrators. In this sense they have conducted themselves rather "nonviolently" in public. But for what purpose? To preserve the evil system of segregation. Over the past few years I have consistently preached that nonviolence demands that the means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek. I have tried to make clear that it is wrong to use immoral means to attain moral ends. But now I must affirm that it is just as wrong, or perhaps even more so, to use moral means to preserve immoral ends. Perhaps Mr. Connor and his policemen have been rather nonviolent in public, as was Chief Pritchett in Albany, Georgia, but they have used the moral means of nonviolence to maintain the immoral end of racial injustice. As T. S. Eliot has said: "The last temptation is the greatest treason: To do the right deed for the wrong reason."
I wish you had commended the Negro sit inners and demonstrators of Birmingham for their sublime courage, their willingness to suffer and their amazing discipline in the midst of great provocation. One day the South will recognize its real heroes. They will be the James Merediths, with the noble sense of purpose that enables them to face jeering and hostile mobs, and with the agonizing loneliness that characterizes the life of the pioneer. They will be old, oppressed, battered Negro women, symbolized in a seventy two year old woman in Montgomery, Alabama, who rose up with a sense of dignity and with her people decided not to ride segregated buses, and who responded with ungrammatical profundity to one who inquired about her weariness: "My feets is tired, but my soul is at rest." They will be the young high school and college students, the young ministers of the gospel and a host of their elders, courageously and nonviolently sitting in at lunch counters and willingly going to jail for conscience' sake. One day the South will know that when these disinherited children of God sat down at lunch counters, they were in reality standing up for what is best in the American dream and for the most sacred values in our Judaeo Christian heritage, thereby bringing our nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the founding fathers in their formulation of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.
Never before have I written so long a letter. I'm afraid it is much too long to take your precious time. I can assure you that it would have been much shorter if I had been writing from a comfortable desk, but what else can one do when he is alone in a narrow jail cell, other than write long letters, think long thoughts and pray long prayers?
If I have said anything in this letter that overstates the truth and indicates an unreasonable impatience, I beg you to forgive me. If I have said anything that understates the truth and indicates my having a patience that allows me to settle for anything less than brotherhood, I beg God to forgive me.
I hope this letter finds you strong in the faith. I also hope that circumstances will soon make it possible for me to meet each of you, not as an integrationist or a civil-rights leader but as a fellow clergyman and a Christian brother. Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.

Yours for the cause of Peace and Brotherhood,
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Not an easy read, by any means, but moving and true.

What really dumbfounds me is the fact that both sides of this- the white clergymen and the jailed black man- were Christians. They professed to be believers of the same God and they read the same Bible. How, then, could their world views have been so astonishingly different?

I hope that this day and its importance is really felt, not only in the U.S. but anywhere there is any form of inequality. That is to say, everywhere.