Sunday, May 31, 2009

Girl With A Pearl Earring, by Tracy Chevalier

I recall a lot of hype around the film version of "Girl With A Pearl Earring," which came out in December, 2003. I never watched the movie because I didn't think that Scarlett Johansson would be very believable as a Dutch maid. I still don't think I would find her convincing as a Dutch maid, and I know that I won't watch the movie unless someone brings it over and makes me.

Because I didn't know the movie was based on the book (silly me, I thought it was just based on the painting), when I started seeing the thing in bookstores everywhere, I was turned off by the re-vamped covers, with Scarlett's face staring out at me, absolutely nothing going on behind her eyes.

I guess I judged yet another book by its cover, as I am wont to do, and I never even had an ounce of interest in reading this one. Scarlett Johansson, while gorgeous, doesn't really evoke the spirit of a quiet little Dutch girl in the 1600's. (She got more of a club queen in the 1980's thing going, but that's neither here nor there.)

Picking up "Girl With A Pearl Earring" was a complete accident. My sister had bought it, read it, and left it on my bed. She mercifully bought the version with the real painting on the cover, so Scarlett didn't give me her doleful gaze- Vermeer's work gave me that thoughtful gaze instead.

I was sleepy but not able to fall asleep one night (as on most nights) so I picked up the book and started reading. If it makes any sense, I have three types of reading:

1. Full concentration, with the intent of memorizing what I'm reading.

2. Skimming, generally for work, to get the main gist of the generally badly written blabber I'm reading. (It's called spell check and it's already on your computer, people, so USE IT.)

3. Idly, for entertainment. Magazines, paperbacks, the packaging of cosmetic products, that kind of thing.

I picked up "Girl" and started reading idly. I didn't concentrate on it, I just thought it would bore me enough for sleep to come my way.

Completely the opposite- I was hooked.

Tracy Chevalier writes in a manner that I would call "demure" if "demure" didn't seem so prissy. Her writing in quiet, not overly introspective, yet somehow very descriptive. More than once, I re-read a passage and felt a stab of envy. How can such simple words be so evocative?

Griet is a deceptively simple and calm Dutch maid that comes to work for Vermeer and his houseful of complex women and children. Her feelings are never explicitly stated, but I thought they were quite apparent. She doesn't emote, she doesn't chatter, but it's almost like the author intended for the reader to be just on the cusp of Griet's id- I felt Griet's emotion, I knew what she would say if propriety would have allowed.

The story doesn't have a neat path. It doesn't have plotpoints that it tries to hit. It doesn't follow a strict story arc. I liked that aspect, as it felt real and free, rather than contrived. (I also felt that what works so well in this book would not at all work in a movie, furthering my conviction that I won't be watching this film anytime soon.)

I've already read the book twice (some portions more than twice) in the past week, and I know that I'll be reading it again. I love it. Tracy Chevalier's economical, lissome words were exactly what I needed to renew my faith in contemporary authors.

I cannot wait to read her other books, and I cannot wait to re-read "Girl" yet again.


Saturday, May 30, 2009

Akasha, Culver City

9543 Culver Boulevard
Culver City, CA 90232

Telephone: 310.845.1700

Monday - Friday: 8:00 am - 5:30 pm

Monday - Saturday: 11:30 am - 2:30 pm

Monday - Thursday: 5:30 pm - 10:00 pm
Friday - Saturday: 5:30 pm - 11:00 pm
Sunday: 5:00 pm - 9:30 pm

Sunday: 11:00 am - 2:00 pm

Happy Hour:
Monday - Friday: 4:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Akasha, despite its Japanese name, is a hip little American bakery/restaurant in (where else?) downtown Culver City. I don't know if 'akasha' is a Japanese word or not, but it sure sounds like it could be!

It was named after its proprietor, Chef Akasha Richmond, an organic chef who believes in sustainable cooking. I think that's a great concept, and if it really works the way it claims to, great. But if part of the consequences of sustainable cooking are prices like Akasha's, then I'm back on the side of unsustainable cooking. (Can cooking be unsustainable??)

That is to say, what I remember most about Akasha are the prices. I expect high prices when I go to swanky places like Musso and Frank's or the Ivy. I expect decent prices when I'm in Culver City and out for lunch. I shudder to think of what the dinner prices would be.

Come to think of it, I don't actually remember the exact monetary value of my lunch. The lingering memory is of the price of dessert. I had three scoops of gelato (vanilla, chocolate, and banana date). "Scoop" is an exaggeration. It was more like "teaspoonfuls." Small food, much like high prices, are what I expect from higher-end places like, say, Chateau Marmont.

Three little teaspoonfuls of gelato were $8. Not that $8 is a lot of money, because it's not. I've paid more for a single drink in many a bar. But at Akasha, it felt like they were just pushing the prices as high as they could, without any regard for the type of customer they would most likely be getting during their lunch hours (people that work in the area).

The interior of Akasha is gorgeous, exposed beams, brick, free-form light fixtures that drift, suspended by cables from the ceiling. The wall behind the bar is not a wall at all- half of the space is dominated by ceiling-to-floor blackboards with their house specialty drinks and the different types of wine they have, the other half of the space is one huge wine rack, complete with library ladder to retrieve the uppermost bottles. Beautiful place, without a doubt.

Their plates are plain white, but interesting because they come in different shapes. Shallow and rectangular for their pizzas (not good, by the way), oval and deep for their salads, with not a single round plate in sight (other than the saucers for their coffee cups).

A group of people from work all went in celebration of two of our co-workers, who are leaving the company. Everyone got fairly standard fare, pizzas, salads, sandwiches, or burgers, and we all split regular and sweet potato fries (surprisingly good sweet potato fries). More than the food, drink, or dessert, the conversation and laughter saved the lunch.

I'm sure I'll go to Akasha again. It's too convenient for me to boycott it (a block away from work). Doesn't mean I have to be happy about it- and I'll definitely only go when I'm mentally prepared to drop a good $40 on lunch, probably $60 or more for dinner.

Another gripe- the acoustics at Akasha are horrible. I think exposed brick and beams make sound bounce around or something. I wouldn't go for drinks just because of the acoustics and how horrible they would be with a crowded group of people.

A high point- the bakery, while overpriced, is yummy. I really enjoy small desserts, because sometimes, I just don't want a cupcake the size of my head. They have tiny cupcakes, tiny cookies, tiny brownies, tiny scoops of ice cream and gelato. Not the biggest fan of their ice cream or gelato, but their baked goods are delicious. Maybe I'll stop by for a cupcake after lunch at Ford's Filling Station a couple doors down.


Friday, May 29, 2009


Sore throat
Blurry vision
Stuffy nose
Runny nose
Aching everywhere
Headache pounding behind the left eyeball

Suffice it to say, I will not be going anywhere or doing anything. Other than work, of course.


Thursday, May 28, 2009

Lemon Mousse Bombes

This post is super late, but as I've harped about over and over again: I work a lot!

I made these little desserts for Easter, on a sudden lift of energy that came from the heady idea of a whole Saturday off (the Saturday after Good Friday, I didn't work. It was an Easter miracle!).

The recipe is from the incomparable Jen Yu of Use Real Butter. She is one of my several culinary heroes. I pretty much stuck to the recipe, except I made a regular ol' yellow cake (I didn't have the ambition to make a chiffon cake).

I used Ghiradelli chocolate and lemons from my parents' backyard. They were super juicy and sweet and lovely.

I really didn't allow myself much time to do this. I generally don't allow myself any time to do anything, but somehow (more miracles), things get done and I don't end up with egg all over my face (usually).

Made the cake, lickety-quick:

Made the lemon mousse using Ms. Yu's recipe. It is a wonderful, very lemony and tart and not overly sweet. I made it again some time after Easter and it was every bit as great as I remembered:

So all the in-between steps are missing, i.e. how the bombes get assembled. Go look on Use Real Butter, because the photos are better and the steps are explained very clearly!

Basically, a bombe has an outer shell of chocolate, a filling of ice-cream or mousse, and a base of cake/cookie/shortbread. Yummy concept.

This recipe used white chocolate for the shell, had lemon mousse for the filling, cake for the base, and a surprise inside- macerated raspberries. My finished bombes:

Chopped one in half to "test" it. I took the chilled bombe straight from the freezer and cut it open without letting it warm up a little bit first, which is why the chocolate chipped off. No patience over here!

And you can tell how unevenly I cut the cake. I didn't level it before I cut the rounds from it. Honestly, I felt like it would be a waste of cake! No one was going to cut the bombes in half before consuming, so I thought my secret would be safe. Forgot to take into account my penchant for blogging... dangit.

My bombes' high school yearbook picture, whence you can observe how the incorrectly tempered chocolate created swirls of white against cream. I'm not a good chocolate temperer, never have been. I've accepted that and am okay with it now.

I ended up making 36 bombes. They are 2.75" across, good for about five bites. (Actually, my dad ate one in a bite and a half, but he's got a giant sweet tooth.)

White chocolate is probably my least favorite form of chocolate, but in this dessert, it's perfect. Kind of buttery and rich, without the strong scent of darker chocolates.

I also decorated some of the bombes with colored royal icing. I don't actually have any pictures of the decorated bombes, but it was simple stuff- pink or purple flowers with green leaves, pink or purple butterflies, springtime-y goodness. It was Easter, I was feeling festive, it was appropriate- I am not normally a pink and purple kind of girl.

Thanks, Jen, for the great recipe! I'll definitely be making these again, though quite as many.


Wednesday, May 27, 2009


I have a question for the (four) people that read this blog, particularly if you are not from L.A.:

What do you want to do if/when you're in L.A.?

Why do I ask? Because I'm crazy?


Also, I've been thinking about living in other cities/states/countries lately. I daydream about that Seoul apartment so high up bugs can't survive (it's true!) ... that perfectly sunny loft right on Sydney harbor ... that shabby-chic Notting Hill flat next door to a second-hand bookshop ... that cramped studio in Manhattan, where a single lunge would take me from front door to kitchen ...

I shook myself off, let the dreams fall away, and realized that I don't appreciate this city. Don't get me wrong, I love L.A. Really.

Most of the time.

But I take it for granted, I don't go to out-of-the-way places (Hollywood now counts as out-of-the-way, it's dirty and more crowded than other areas of L.A.), and I stick with where I'm comfortable (Marina del Rey, Koreatown, Culver City, perhaps a venture into Century City or Beverly Hills every now and again).

I no longer care enough about this city to explore it. I go to the same bars, the same restaurants, the same stores, the same malls (although how can anyone beat the Beverly Center for sheer variety? Or beat Century City for a lazy day of shopping, eating, and watching movies?), the same manicure place, the same facial place, etc. etc. etc.

So. That leads back to my question...

What do you want to do in L.A.?


Green Onion Pancake (파전)

I love some good kimchi pancakes (김치전). Yum.

But when the kimchi at home is delicious and worth eating without disguising into a pancake, what's left??

Green onions, of course!

Unlike most Koreans I know, I despise green onions. I also hate raw onions. I can eat cooked onions (French onion soup is fantastic), but even when cooked, green onions do not appeal to me. Blech. Something about the stringy texture, I think. I'm not even sure what it is that I don't like, I just know I don't like 'em.

The one form that I will eat them in? Green onion pancake (파전, pronounced 'pah-jeon'):

Doesn't it look just deliciously delicious? Full of deliciousness and delectability? Well ... except for those purply-pink bits of octopus sticking out. *shudder*

I didn't make this particular pajeon, my seafood-loving mother did. She really has an unbearable love of all forms of seafood. I, on the other hand, am extremely picky about seafood and definitely don't eat octopus. I barely eat squid, and only in its bar form (dried cuttlefish, usually eaten with peanuts while drinking some form of alcohol). I most certainly do not eat octopus that has not been deep-fried. Ew.

So while this pajeon was delicious, I picked out the large rubbery strips of octopus and handed them over to the mother, who was more than happy to eat the slimy little sea creatures (why, no, I'm not biased, not at all!).

It's easy to make, just like the kimchi jeon. Ingredients get thrown into a bowl, willy-nilly:

- green onion (chopped into manageable pieces)
- squid/octopus/protein, if you like
- flour (or jeon flour, called 부침가루)
- water
- egg(s)
- seasoning (garlic salt in this case, I think, could be salt or fish sauce or soy sauce)

Mix together until dry ingredients are no longer dry. Proportions just depend on the consistency you like, how humid it is, how big the eggs are, etc.

Add (a lot) of oil into a pan and heat up. It shouldn't be scorching hot, otherwise the outside of the jeon will burn while the inside doesn't cook. It has to be hot enough to crisp up the jeon, though, so I usually start with medium-high, crisp up the first side, flip, lower the temperature, and cook through, sometimes cranking up the heat at the very end to crisp up the second side.

Let the jeon sit on a paper towel for a second- these are actually better when slightly above room temperature. They're not good scalding hot, the way soups and jjiages are.

Serve with whatever you want. We usually have jeon with seasoned soy sauce, which is:

- soy sauce
- sesame oil
- toasted and coarse-ground sesame seeds
- dried chili powder (고추가루 (gochu-garu), not the same thing as American 'chili powder' at all)
- thinly sliced spring onion or baby leeks (부추)

Easy and satisfying.

Just because I have it and because it was so deliciously delicious:

Happy eating!


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Gyenari, Culver City

Gyenari, Culver City
9540 Washington Boulevard
Culver City, CA 90232

Telephone: 310.838.3131

Monday - Thursday:
11:30 am - 11:00 pm
11:30 am - 12:00 am
12:00 pm - 12:00 am
5:00 pm - 10:00 pm

Yes, still sticking very close to work in good ol' Culver City. Gyenari is about a block away from work- I have to cross one street to get there. Regardless of distance, we didn't go out, the food came in. When I'm consistently eating all three meals at work, not a good sign. I eat literally about two meals at home every week (Sunday breakfast and dinner). *sigh*

Back to Gyenari. The actual restaurant is very faux-Zen, minimalist and modern, very different than most Korean barbecue places. They serve (overly) fancy cocktails rather than plunking down green bottles of soju. Rather than abiding by the Korean rules of good (more is more), Gyenari attempts to keep their plates stark and almost spare (any Korean would be shocked- SHOCKED- by the amount of plate that shows around the food).

Besides those little finicky issues, Gyenari's ... okay. The food isn't authentic, but doesn't really need to be. I was pleasantly surprised by their kimchi (김치) and unpleasantly displeased with their potstickers (만두). Their meat dishes are not very Korean and a little too sweet, but good. Their japchae (잡채) is very sweet, but the noodles are good (I hate over-cooked japchae noodles) and the vegetables they put into it are the right ratio.

The food is a combination of okay and good. People at work were raving about it, which goes to show that this sort of "fusion" is popular for a reason. An authentic Korean restaurant, while successful just a few miles away in Koreatown, would fail in Culver City. The vibe of the restaurant (hip, slinky, brushed-steel and polished concrete) contributes as much to Gyenari's popularity as its food.

I'm sure that I'll be eating at Gyenari again. It's a good place for drinks, though not budget-friendly, and is really convenient for me (always a plus).

I don't know if I feel that Gyenari is a representation of how Koreans have sold out, or if it shows how Koreans can adapt. Whichever it is, I'm glad it's enjoying some popularity and I hope that more people become curious about Korean food because of it.

By the way, "gyenari" is a type of flowering tree, called forsythia (in Korean, 개나리). It's beautiful, with a bright sunny yellow that is hard to find:

I have never seen a forsythia outside of Korea, as they don't grow here. Forsythia, along with gingko trees, which glow golden in the autumn, are two of the plants that I love best. When I think of what I miss about Korean, they're high up on the list.

I will return to Gyenari (the restaurant) if, for nothing else, to remember fondly this plant that I love and miss.



I think Ben Younger is the type of man that would be well-spoken and opinionated, both in the best ways possible. I feel like if I ever got to have a conversation with him, it would go from discussing Jewish boys in New York to the antics of household pets to the outrageous situation in Sri Lanka to the best steakhouse in L.A. He seems like a fascinating and intriguing person.

If the man ever made a VFX movie, I would be there in a heartbeat. Alas, he does not tend toward the flashy FX, so my chances of ever working on one of his films is slim to none. However, I do get to watch his sophomore project, "Prime," over and over again, as it is one of my favorite movies ever.

I actually find Uma Thurman to be quite awkward-looking, all elbows and spindly fingers that bend at weird angles. (Honestly, look at the woman's hands; her fingers are out of control. That scene in "Kill Bill" where she's in the truck after waking up from her coma, trying to convince her big toe to wiggle? Her toes totally freaked me out.) She has luscious hair and beautiful eyes, but still looks like an alien to me.

Somehow, Ben Younger managed to make Uma Thurman glow (really, GLOW) throughout "Prime." I don't know if it's the lighting, the make-up, the wardrobe (doubtful), the script, or what, but she has never looked better. (Except, maybe, perhaps, in "The Adventures of Baron Munchausen," but surely a movie from 21 (!) years ago can't be taken into consideration here!) I could actually believe that a 23-year-old boy could fall instantly in love with her, she was so beautiful in this movie.

I watched "Prime" when it first came out, in 2005, and bought the DVD as soon as it was released. I still remember that when I walked out of the movie theater, I wanted to run off and start painting again. I wanted to move to New York and live in either a chic, well-furnished Manhattan apartment, complete with cat, or a run-down, completely "the early years" artist apartment in a slightly shady area, decorated only with my paintings.

I wanted a friend like Morris, slightly (okay, more than slightly) obnoxious but always funny. I wanted to go to Dean & Deluca and spend exorbitant amounts of money on quail eggs and organic cheese crisps. I wanted to see a Rothko in person, huge and dominating.

For such a quiet movie, it stirred a lot of emotions in me. I was exhilarated, I was hopeful, I was so happy that it wasn't one big cliche, because it so easily could have been.

I thought Bryan Greenberg was perfect for the role, just dweeby enough to seem unsure of himself in the face of a woman 14 years his senior. He was the straight man to Morris's zaniness (Jon Abraham was cast perfectly) and kind of vanilla. Cute, yes. Talented, yes. Not all that interesting, though. Just ... there. Exactly what the story needed. It was more about Rafi (Uma Thurman) and Lisa (Meryl Streep), not about a 23-year-old who needed to find himself and/or prove himself.

I hadn't watched the movie in a while and kept thinking of it recently. Not sure why ... maybe because I've been giving a lot of thought to relationships lately. I have never thought that love could conquer all. Love cannot conquer hunger or poverty or even lice. Love can disillusion, can gild a pile of crap with gold, but can't do much else beyond that. Even though "Prime" isn't a pessimistic movie, I think it clearly illustrates how/why love is not enough. It’s a romantic comedy without the cringe-inducing “rom-com” moments. I love that.

In the smallest ways, this film feels right to me. Everything; from a kid that drops to do a couple push-ups before calling a girl, to his best friend, who knows all the guys at Magnolia Bakery because of his not-so-kosher extracurricular activities. I loved that they had to wait in line for Morris to buy a cream pie (what exactly IS a cream pie??) and that even the sensitive artist is lured away from everything in life by his Nintendo.

I just love this movie.

I don't even think there's any one part I don't like (perhaps Rafi's horrible little friend Randall, who's irritating). Meryl Streep is perfection as a concerned mother hen who wants to cluck over her precious chick while trying to maintain what she knows, professionally, to be right. Jewish moms and Korean moms, by the way? Eerily similar.

There's not enough I can say about this film, and nothing I say will describe how wonderful it is. I plan on watching it again in the near future.


Monday, May 25, 2009

Fortune's Daughter, by Alice Hoffman

Despite my insane work schedule (more intrusively, my inability to stop thinking about work), I have managed to get some reading in. The past week has exhausted me and made me crave some sense of normalcy. I feel normal when I read, so I've been reading, mostly at the expense of sleeping.

The first book I picked up and read, about a week ago, was "Fortune's Daughter," by Alice Hoffman. I didn't think much of it at first glance. The saying, "Don't judge a book by its cover" is completely correct but also impossible to follow, I've found. How does one not judge a book by its cover? Its design and color palette and author photo? Can it be done? Certainly not by me.

I wasn't much impressed with the cover of "Fortune's Daughter," nor did the title appeal to me. Sounded like it would be the story of a hooker that has a heart of gold, or some other such inane babble. Since I was in a hazy sort of mood, I just started reading without allowing myself to convince my critical side that this book was bound to be a disaster.

I was pleasantly surprised. The book, though easy to read and quick, was poignant and lovely. I empathized with both female characters and one of the male characters. (The other male character left me completely cold.) I could almost feel this book winding up my biological clock, and though it's not ticking yet, it feels like the ticking will commence shortly. Frightening thought, and a testament to how much this book impacted me emotionally.

Alice Hoffman's writing style is spare but lovely, in the way I think is similar to Katherine Dunn, but not quite as bleak or gritty. Though the subject matter and the events of "Fortune's Daughter" are not optimistic or rosy-tinted in the least, I found hope and even strength in the honest, stark way events were described.

I enjoyed this book and plan to read it again, but perhaps when I'm in a better place. With my nerves currently stretched tight and my patience wearing thin, I know that I was far more critical of Jessup (the character I hated) and that single opinion really took away a lot. I zoned out a bit when Jessup's parts of the story came up and daydreamed about a herd of miniature ponies stampeding over him (makes sense in context, I swear).

Rae, smitten with Jessup, warranted a tinge of sympathy from me because of her circumstances. But I did not appreciate or admire her loyalty to (that jerk) Jessup, and that made me dislike her. I didn't feel as much sympathy as I feel I should have. I think if I were less tired, less irritable, those characters wouldn't have gotten to me so much. Maybe.

I'll re-read this book again in July or August, once I'm somewhat rested up, and see how I feel then. My memory being what it is, I'll probably still dislike Rae and Jessup without quite knowing why, other than the vague remembrances of having guinea pigs dancing through my head while I was reading this book the first time around.


Saturday, May 23, 2009

R.I.P. Noh Moo-Hyun (노무현)

Noh Moo-Hyun (노무현, commonly spelled Roh Moo-Hyun), the 16th president of South Korea, died on Saturday morning (GMT), May 23. He committed suicide by jumping from a cliff.

While I thought his actions throughout his presidency and in the aftermath were wretched, I still lament the loss of life. Yes, he was a criminal. Yes, he was a hypocrite. Yes, he deserved to be prosecuted.

Still, life in jail and life with public scorn is better than no life at all. Leaving behind a family to fight the legal battles left to fight, to take care of the debts still left in the air, is not an honorable thing to do.

I am disappointed that such a thing happened. Not only because I was disillusioned by the man while alive, but because I cannot believe he would take this route to evade his troubles.

Tweedledweeb and Tweedledumb.

While I may not have disagreed or agreed with his politics, I wanted to root for this guy. He was a charismatic speaker (though history tells us that Hitler was a great orator, so perhaps this wasn't a necessarily good quality) and he seemed like that nice middle-aged man in the neighborhood (아저씨) that would give you a dollar for ice-cream and tell you not to run too fast because you might get hurt.

It all came crashing down when he was impeached, then got re-instated, then left office and plopped into the middle of a very large corruption investigation. He's had a rough few years, I grant him that.

No one going into politics, particularly on a national level, expects their life to be normal or peaceful. At least, they shouldn't expect that.

I don't suppose that anyone will ever know exactly what Mr. Noh felt or experienced. His brief suicide note wasn't very illuminating. He's taken his worries, fears, secrets, loves, joys, lies, truths, and self into the grave.

Mr. Noh, are you at peace? Did you find something that's absolved you?

I doubt it. Your life is gone, you've left your mark on the world. I hope that the shadows and impressions you've left satisfy you. I hope you thought of your family and what they mean to you, what they are now going through.


Friday, May 22, 2009

Overheard ...

The boys at work are funny.

Boy #1, unwrapping a piece of chocolate.
Boy #2: "Where'd you get that??"
Boy #1: "From Boy-Over-There."
Boy #2: "Oh--"
Boy #3: "You don't even know what he had to do to get it."

And by "boys" I mean "men in their 30's and 40's."


Thursday, May 21, 2009


I'm knackered.

I don't even know how to explain the type of fatigue I am currently feeling, I am dealing with on a day-to-day, hour-by-hour basis. Just the act of sliding one foot out from under my duvet and onto the floor is monstrous.

There is a reason that I tell my friends and colleagues about my six-month pain threshold. I've hit it, hit it hard, and am reeling from the shock right now.

For me, working on any given movie should take six months or less. That doesn't mean the making of an entire movie should be condensed to that amount; that's the amount of time I like to work on any given show, from my first day to my last. Less is preferable, but six months is when my spirits start to flag and my (fake) chipper tone begins to sound brittle and false.

I have just hit the six month mark on this show, and I can tell that I'm getting sapped. The lethargy, the unwillingness to force my brain into work-mode, the habitual tardiness ... all signs that I am about to fall into a heap. Actually, I do fall into a heap as soon as I get home.

Six months have passed and I am still on this show. I expected nothing less, as this is very common, but I had hoped for the best. (Hoping for the best and expecting the worst never seems to work for me- I always get what I expect rather than what I hope for.)

Add to all this work nonsense the fact that my best friend's grandmother and my friend's mother passed away last week, and the sturm und drang is at unimaginably high levels.

Plus, I think the new girl doesn't like me. Let me elaborate slightly. On this show, there were 14 people in production (producers, managers, coordinator, supervisors). Out of these 14, I was the only woman. I enjoy being the only woman. I get away with a lot, the boys do things for me, they're nice(r) to me, it's all good stuff.

Then this new girl starts. She's not new to the studio; she's been here longer than me. She's just new to our show. I get the distinct feeling she doesn't like me. And I also get the distinct feeling that this awkwardness is exactly why I like being the only girl. Only time will tell- we may end up best friends in a few weeks. Women are crazy, after all.

Pile on top of that whole mess two job interviews and a potential offer from a third, a frenemy that keeps asking me to find them a job, a long commute, an uncooperative boy, a confusing boy, and idiotic L.A. weather. Blend together until smoother than a twice-blended Frappuccino. Add a dollop of whipped cream. Neglect to give me a straw. Neglect to make certain that the dome-shaped lid is secured onto the frosty cup.

Sturm und drang never felt so bleak.

Yes, an overly dour post.

And I know that, in many ways, I am an ungrateful wench. After all, I have a job when so many people have none. I have my health when others struggle to breathe. I have a loving family that supports me. I KNOW. And honestly, really, I am thankful for what I have.

It's just these pockets of insecurity and mental instability that make me into this raving loon. I feel like everyone can see it, everyone can hear it in my voice, but it seems that no one does. That makes me feel like I'm going even crazier.

It is two weeks until my birthday, and I am hoping to have broken out of this weird funk by then. Otherwise, my friends are going to give me quite an unhappy birthday.

More on jobs and studios I'd like to work for soon.


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

"Three Rivers" ... Again

Okay, so I'm posting lame little bits that seem to mainly be about Daniel Henney lately. I don't know why that is.

Part of the reason is because I keep hearing news about him and/or his new CBS show, "Three Rivers." The latest is that the show will air on Sunday nights, opposite football (yawn) and "Desperate Housewives" (haven't watched since the second season). It might do okay, though Sunday night dramas are sometimes quite neglected. (Full CBS fall line-up here.)

There's the latest from Henney-ville today. Really just an excuse to post another photo, no?


Monday, May 18, 2009

"Three Rivers"

Does American TV need another medical drama? "ER" just ended. JUST ENDED. It doesn't need to be quasi-replaced yet! Let's mourn it for a while first. Despite the fact that I stopped watching the show once Anthony Edwards left (his last show was the BEST, by which I mean the WORST-- I cried and cried and cried and cried).

Besides, we still have "House," "Private Practice," "Scrubs," and "Grey's Anatomy." Those are just the ones I watch, I know there's more out there.

But ... I notice that none of the ones I watch are on CBS. "House" is Fox while "Private Practice" and "Grey's Anatomy" are ABC. I just realized I don't have a single show that my DVR automatically records that airs on CBS. I don't know why, but it's probably due to the fact that CBS notoriously struggles with my demographic and, in larger part, because nothing they air interests me. (I really don't get "CSI.")

So CBS has decided to go the route that ABC took years ago with "Grey's" and approved a new medical drama for the fall, called "Three Rivers." Even the title makes me cringe for some reason. Sounds generically cheesy, like "Designing Women" or "Northern Exposure" or "Dynasty."

The reason I post about this is because I think it's make-or-break time in the U.S. for one Mr. Daniel Henney. "Wolverine" was perhaps not as much of a vehicle for him as I anticipated, mostly due to the distraction of Hugh Jackman running around growling with giant claws strapped to his fists.

Daniel Henney's been cast in "Three Rivers" as ... (wait for it) ... a transplant specialist. He played a 'doctor' on "My Name Is Kim Sam-Soon," (내 이름은 김삼순), and I didn't believe a single word he said that was 'medical.' Not the best actor, that Daniel. But very pretty. See exhibit A:

See?? He's wearing glasses! Maybe he can play a doctor! (No, he really can't.)

For all his prettiness, the boy can't act. Sad, but so very true.

I fear for "Three Rivers" because:

1. It's on CBS.
2. Alex O'Loughlin is the 'lead' and he's relatively unknown, and irritates me for no good reason.
3. It's about organ transplants, a.k.a. a staple of "Grey's Anatomy" storylines.
4. Henney. Can't act. Can't enunciate. Can't emote.

It might be good because:

1. Henney. He's eye candy if nothing else.
2. Julia Ormond. Woman is brilliant.
3. Katherine Moenning- she's surprising and usually good.

Blogging has taken a backseat to sleeping and subsisting lately. I have been burning the midnight oil at work and it's taking a (large) toll on me. I'm suffering from sniffles, body aches, headaches, just general un-wellness (if one more person jokingly asks me if I have swine flu...), all of which makes me cantankerous and more than susceptible to ranting. My blog doesn't need that kind of anger.

I've also been running around (figuratively) trying to find my next show. It's not that I dislike Sony; quite the opposite, I really like it here. I just feel the need for change, something I've been craving for quite a while. Changing studios and shows within the same city (Los Angeles, Marina del Rey, Culver City, SAME PLACE) isn't that much of a switch. I'm yearning for new and unexplored. But also civilized and clean.

Dragging my flagging attention back to work now. * sigh *


Friday, May 15, 2009

A Virtual Hug-- Plus Beer!

A friend that I love, respect, admire, and find endlessly funny received some bad news today.

I am thinking of you, I am sending only the best thoughts out towards you, and I am so sorry. If I could, I would pass you a pint. Yes, a pint with a flower in the foam.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Korean "Holiday": Rose/Yellow Day

Remember Black Day? And White Day before that? And Valentine's Day before that? And Diary/Candle Day before that?

Today is the next in the line of holidays that Koreans celebrate on the 14th of every month. And by "Koreans," I mean "Korean high school kids with too much time on their wee little hands."

Yellow Day, or Rose Day, is ... kind of stupid. Couples exchange roses today. You know, for fun. Or for yet another marketable holiday during which people feel obligated to buy their significant other rose(s) to "celebrate" this festive occasion.

I assume yellow roses are the norm, since it's also called Yellow Day (there's a better, more fun reason for that, too).

Yellow Day is for singletons. Those people who are too single to have a rose-bearing boy/girlfriend hand them a flower (or a bouquet of flowers). What do single people do on Black Day? Eat black food!

So what do single people do on Yellow Day? Eat Yellow food! Specifically, curry.

Korean curry isn't really Korean, it's Japanese. Which is quite different from Indian or Thai curries. Not that any of them are better than the rest, but they are all very dissimilar. I happen to like Korean/Japanese curry best, but I know that it's because I'm used to the flavor and texture of it, having eaten it since I was a small child. If I had grown up with Thai or Indian curry, I'm sure I'd be prejudiced towards one of those types.

I've made tons of Korean curries and I've dabbled in Indian curries, bringing me to the conclusion that Korean curry? SO MUCH EASIER to make.

The curry comes in blocks, sort of like giant bouillon cubes, that need nothing more than to melt into a pot of par-cooked vegetables and water (and browned meat, if you're a carnivore). The Indian curry with the powder and the stirring and the sauteeing ... much more finicky, in my opinion.

Koreans really seems to divide people based on their relationship status- married? engaged? dating? or- dreadful!- single?

If being single means I get to eat jjajangmyeon and curry, GOOD FOR ME.

Curry, by the way, is delicious with spaghetti. Is this just an Asian thing? I know Japanese do it, too, but not sure about the other curried people.

Hope you get a lovely rose or get to eat some yummy curry. Another fun day that means absolutely nothing!


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Top Model: Finale

The reason I was able to catch up on "Top Model" today was because I worked from home. Not feeling well at all, and I used the opportunity to get rid of several hours of TV recorded on my DVR. ("Law & Order: Special Victims Unit"? Caught up at long last. Hillary Duff needs to stop trying to act.)

I hate the stupid CoverGirl commercials that the finalists always have to do. Why? Because they ALWAYS FAIL.

Her and her Jersey accent irritate me. Get your 6-foot-tall self and your eternally open mouth and stay on the catwalk.

Really?? Have you learned nothing from the previous seasons of this show?? Memorize the lines until you can recite them in your sleep. She did look really cute, though- the most typically CoverGirl-looking of the three.

Photogenic, but only in front of a still camera. She looked less than ideal in front of a moving camera. And WHY does some girl always have a meltdown and start crying?? Ugh. I also found that I really don't like her hairline. Looks like Queen Elizabeth (the Virgin queen, not the current queen) when she shaved her head and slapped on a red wig.

At the first judging, Tyra looked like she was prematurely celebrating Halloween with her Mrs. Addams / Elvira costume. Terrible. Does she have a stylist? Does she style herself? I don't understand. Aminat got the memo to wear a long black sack, too- Tyra just had better accessories (maybe not "better," but "more expensive").

Miss J's bowtie. No.

I can't believe how much Teyona cried in the first half hour of the show. I don't remember her crying during any other episode. Suffering through the individual takes of the commercial, it occurred to me that Celia would have rocked it. Aminat should have been the one to get cut. I know she got cut before the final, but I wish I had gotten to see Celia's commercial.

I have to say, Aminat's black dress when walking away from camera? Beautiful. She does have a great body, it's just not very visible in her photos.

What was up with the Seventeen shoot where they put both girls in the tiniest shorts I've ever seen? Seventeen-year-old girls do not need to see butt cheeks on their "role models."

Tyra changed it up and wore a brown sack- why was she pretending to be all modest with her yards of fabric all over the place?

Really, "Top Model"? A swimwear show? Why not just force them to parade around naked? And what was with the dirty finale? They looked like naked mechanics mud wrestling. And contrary to how that might sound, it did not look hot. It just looked greasy.

I love the side-by-side photo comparison of the past photoshoots. I thought they actually both did well throughout the competition in very different ways.

Yes, I was disappoinated that Teyona won. I liked Allison better and thought she should beat Teyona.

Oh, well.

One less show to clutter up my DVR in the last weeks of this show, which is good news for me.

Watched half of the first episode of "Story of a Man" (남자이야기), and it promises to be quite a show if they can keep it up. Also watched a bit of "Cain and Abel" (카인과 아벨), which seems like a regurgitated "East of Eden" (에덴의 동쪽), which I did not enjoy. We'll see what shows stick in my tired little brain and which fall away (probably all of them).


Top Model: Elimination #10

Paulina Porizkova is FANTASTIC.

She calls 'em like she sees 'em without sparing any punches. It makes me laugh. One of the best lines: "Allison was like a rickety little wind-up doll made out of tin. Not the best thing for a samba. She looked like her mechanism needed oiling."

The girls learning the samba was stupid. None of them could really samba- even Aminat, who was supposedly good.

Also, I was SO GLAD that Aminat did not win the challenge. Celia might be "desperate" but Paulina still recognized that Celia was fantastic.

Tyra's skits are getting lazier and lazier. Broken Jeep? Tyra screaming for help on the side of the road? Borrrring.

The little story she made up for Allison? Stupid. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Ugh. Cross between a bird and an owl ...?

I actually really like the set, with the giant nest of sticks and the jungle. Pretty and natural. I would hate to be there- lots of bugs and dirt and the spring/waterfall was BROWN. Gross.

I think Tyra actually seems like a good photographer. I'm sure they edit the film to show her in a more favorable light, but she seems the least ... Tyrannasaurus during her photographing episodes.

Judging was SO STUPID. Miss J with the giant, ungainly bow tie and the horricious twirping, hooting? Ew.

Allison's picture was beautiful. She looked like a bird in a nest:

Every time I see Teyona in a picture, it's jarring to see her NOT in a picture but just standing there in front of the judges. She looks so good on film and SO BAD in person. I seriously can't believe how photogenic she is. Her face looks so good here (her body looks boxy and like she's wearing pantyhose).

Celia's picture was the opposite of Teyona's- pretty body but weird face. I still like this one:

Aminat doesn't seem to be able to close her mouth. I hate that slack-jawed look. I thought she looked overwhelmed in the picture:

I liked the colorful judging room. I liked that the girls all seemed to have talked about wardrobe ahead of time and kind of matched with their little mini-dresses (although I hate Teyona's dress).

I love Celia. I was sad to see her go. She was a graceful loser and I'm sure she'll be fine because she's a smart, ambitious girl. It occurred to me (finally!) who she reminds me of: Jennifer Morrison (Cameron on "House"). No?

I also heard that Paulina's not coming back next season. Hopefully that's not true, because she's fantastic. :/


Friday, May 08, 2009

The Dreaded Pit

On a daily (if not hourly) basis, I get this sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. I have a mini-anxiety attack. I feel like I'm going to keel over or have some sort of a breakdown.

No, I'm not pregnant or infected with the swine flu (can we stop talking about that, by the way?), nor do I have agoraphobia.

I have a disease that I think is much worse.

Korean perfectionism.

Every evening, as soon as I get home after my hour-long crawl from work, I walk in the door, change clothes, pour myself a glass of water, and plop down in front of my laptop. Not for blogging (although that does happen, too) or for Facebooking, but for work.

Yes, I usually get home anywhere between 8:00 p.m. (rarely) and 2:00 a.m. No matter what time it is, I schlep my laptop home and turn it on as soon as I'm inside the house.

Workaholic? Admittedly.

More than that, I have a burning, intense fear of doing something incompletely, forgetting to do something, or doing one iota of something wrong. That dread and fear are more powerful motivators than I will ever be able to express.

Why, then, is this Korean perfectionism?

Because if I was American (born and raised), people would tell me that I have OCD. Perhaps that I need some good ol' r & r or maybe a little therapy. I would be encouraged to find help and a way to relax so I could be "normal."

In Korean society, such OCD is considered a good thing. No one ever told me that being a crazy perfectionist is bad. I wasn't ever discouraged from working until 4:00 in the morning when I was putting together my illustration portfolio in high school. No one said a word when my fellow students and I stayed up all night long our senior year for various student council activities.

Because my high school was predominantly Asian (and among the 83.6% that were Asians, there were a lot of Koreans), no one said anything about our terrible working/studying habits. My entire childhood left me with the (wrong) idea that endless hours and constant stress are okay, even something to strive towards.

This has bled into my career, of course. I work for hours on end, sacrificing my personal life and allowing it to influence every facet of me.

I stress myself out more than I need to, but I have no idea how to prevent that stress from creeping up on me and pouncing at the most inopportune times. I am certain that I would life a longer life if I just knew how to cope. But I don't.

I am feeling the sort of despair that I haven't felt in a long time, such a long time that I'm completely clueless as to how I should deal with it.

For now, I try to laugh at funny things, see my family and friends when possible, and continue working, always trying to keep things lighter, sillier.

One funny thing did come about because of the swine flu- Wikipedia's article about it included the line "This virus sucks really bad":

I see that they have since replaced the "Diagnosis" with a more ... shall we say, professional opinion.

Still, it made me laugh.

If I can keep finding little moments of laughter, I'm sure I'll forget all (or mostly) about the pain.


Thursday, May 07, 2009

Happy Birthday, Sony

It is my employer's birthday today.

Sony was founded 53 years ago today, known then as Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering Corporation. Wikipedia tells me that the name change came about in this manner:

The name "Sony" was chosen for the brand as a mix of two words. One was the Latin word Sonus which is the root of "sonic" and "sound" and the other was "sonny", a familiar term used in 1950s America to call a boy. Morita pushed for a word that does not exist in any language so that they could claim the word "Sony" as their own (which paid off when they successfully sued a candy producer using the name, who claimed that "Sony" was an existing word in some language).

Despite the long hours and the Pavlovian response I now have when I see guinea pigs, hamsters, or mice, Sony is a great place to work. They provide me with the perks of a corporation and the casual environment of any visual effects house.

Happy birthday, Sony!


Wednesday, May 06, 2009


I generally see engagement/wedding photos for Korean celebrities and yawn. Nothing spectacular is ever done- the usual white dress and tuxedo in the usual settings, like a park or a posh penthouse or a bridge (we love bridges).


Jung Tae-Woo (
정태우), bless his heart, is an actor marrying a non-celebrity named Jang In-Hee (장인희). I'm assuming Miss Jang is interested in fashion or photography, because their engagement/wedding pictures? Gorgeous.

Standard white dress and tuxedo in a completely unexpected environment. It's clean, pretty, and not overly precious. Her dress isn't overflowing with ruffles or crystals or ribbons, and I love her for choosing it:

A bit more stereotypical, what with a sunset and a bouquet. Still, it's not in a grandiose suite but in a shabby-chic apartment without much of a view. Gritty yet soft:

What I was really expecting is a photo like this, with the nature and the dress. I still like it, just not as much as the others. I do love the hat and the yellow Bug. Could have done without the bouquet and the parasol (why is HE always holding the flowers?).

This doesn't even look like a wedding photo. It's almost voyeuristic because we're looking through the (dirty) window. Still very unique and pretty ... although AGAIN with him holding those flowers!

I LOVE these old-fashioned photographs. Tinted just enough to make it old-time-y without turning it into sephia-toned caricatures. So pretty!

The old bus and her umbrella. Perfect. I love the color of her skirt but not her jeojori (저고리, the top part of the outfit).

He looks too cute with his glasses on. I only knew Jung Tae-Woo from the drama "Mom's Grown Horns," (엄마가 뿔났다), and his character irritated me. I like him a lot better after seeing this photoshoot.

Isn't his fiancee absolutely stunning? The colors of this hanbok (한복, traditional Korean clothing) really make her look like she's glowing. Or perhaps she's secretly pregnant.

He looks oddly short in a disproportionate way (even taking into consideration the half-sitting, half-standing pose), but the clothes are perfection. The red and green combination she's wearing is traditional for a Korean wedding. I have to say, I don't enjoy her shoes. She should have just worn gomusin (고무신, Korean shoes worn with hanbok that are made of rubber).

Don't know why she's hiking up her skirt, but I love the weathered house and the framing of the photo. They're adorable.

I still love the color of her skirt. Beautiful. And brown suits can be so unflattering, but he's rocking it. I think three-piece suits can look overly fussy, especially with a bow tie, but his entire look (Koreans would say "his concept") is spot on, including that suitcase.

This is more of what I think of when "Korean celebrity gets married" crosses my mind. They managed to put a twist on it with her clothes (a modern hanbok) and their pose (they're not really posing in that prom style, standing while turned towards each other and holding hands demurely).

I have no idea why they would choose to leave the giant black TV in the frame, but whatever. Her hanbok would have been much nicer in a color (she looks so good in color! The purple hanbok, the red-and-green hanbok?). I think the sheer white jeogori makes her look like she forgot to put on the real jeogori.

It's definitely the most "wedding" of all the photos, and still a nicer attempt than what other people put out there.

Makes me wish I was a wedding planner. No, I don't want to get married. I'd rather work for the people organizing weddings (in this case, Meriel- website in Korean only).

Instead, I'm looking at guinea pigs, hamsters, and mice-- with a scattering of dogs here and there.



Tuesday, May 05, 2009

¡Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

I have been a ridiculously lazy blogger lately, but it is because I am ridiculously busy at work. I know, same excuse, over and over again!

If ever there was a day when I wanted to leave early ... I love Cinco de Mayo. No, I don't know what it means or why it's celebrated. Nor do I care.

Honestly, does anyone care?? Cinco de Mayo is only fun because it's an excuse to eat guacamole and drink tequila!

I dated a guy that grew up in Mexico City for a while, so I learned (among other things) that Cinco de Mayo's much more popular in the U.S. than it is in Mexico. He said that he never celebrated it until he moved here, which I found hilarious.

Although I did not have a margarita (on the rocks with salt, please) today, I did have a few last week at Warszawa in anticipation of a busy and alcohol-free Cinco de Mayo.

To liven up this blog full of horribly short posts, I'm sharing my recipe for sangrita, which I drink as a chaser to tequila shots. First of all, drink good tequila when doing shots. Among the tequilas that I think are acceptable is this one, Tres Generaciones:

Mix up a pitcher of sangrita and chill it before even thinking about doing shots. The colder the better! Wikipedia's recipe has many more ingredients than mine, which is as stupid-simple as it can get:

Tomato juice
Black pepper

I am not a fan of Clamato- the very idea of clammy tomato juice disgusts me. But it does add a certain flavor to the sangrita that makes it what it is. I think it also somehow enhances the flavor of the tequila. Maybe it's the constrast in flavors?

Proportions of the ingredients can be tweaked to personal preference. I like a large bottle of tomato juice (probably about 1 quart?) to a small can of Clamato (I would prefer to use less, but the only thing grosser than Clamato in my house is leftover Clamato and no tequila). The amount of Tabasco and black pepper vary, since a new bottle of Tabasco and freshly ground black pepper are much spicier than old Tabasco and pre-ground black pepper.

If doing shots, pour everyone a shot of tequila and a shot of sangrita. Clink tequila glasses and say "cheers" or "salut" or "Bob's your uncle."

Down the tequila. Down the sangrita.

Pour more shots all around.

Happy drinking!


Monday, May 04, 2009

Happy Birthday, Ms. Hepburn

Audrey Hepburn was born May 4, 1929.

She should have been 80 today had she lived.


Sunday, May 03, 2009

Picnic in the Park

Every year for Children's Day, my church goes to the park for an outdoor service and barbecue. Since Children's Day is Cinco de Mayo (May 5), the month of May is usually really fun, since Mother's Day is usually the week after Children's Day.

Today was great, the weather was cooperative, and the food was delicious. I haven't been out in the sun for so long that I put on sunblock three times and am still quite pink. I also got more Vitamin D than I know what to do with and I'm still giddy from all that sun exposure.

Just finished getting a bunch of work done and am ready to pass out. Who knew that playing and eating in the sun could be so exhausting??


Saturday, May 02, 2009

Warszawa, Santa Monica

Warszawa Polish Cuisine
1414 Lincoln Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA 90401

Telephone: 310.393.8831

Tuesday - Saturday:
6:00 pm - 11:00 pm
5:00 pm - 10:00 pm

Wednesday - Saturday:
6:00 pm - 2:00 am

Yesterday (Friday) night was a late night at work, but I escaped early, around 8:00, and ran off to go meet some of my friends at Warszawa, a Polish restaurant in Santa Monica (close to the Promenade).

I know it's a Polish place, but I have an affinity for tequila and haven't had any in a while, so I stuck with margaritas. Then one of my friends decided that I needed to try a tatanka, a drink made of Zubrowka vodka (made in Poland) and apple cider. According to that particular website, Zubrowka means "bison grass," which is not something I feel like I would want to willingly put in my mouth.

Since I didn't know any better last night, I drank the tatanka and almost died. It was ... not pleasant. Strong and bitter with an oddly sweet aftertaste, I really did not like it. There are few types of alcohol that I am vehemently opposed to (gin, for one), but Zubrowka's made the list. Gross.

Besides my run-in with the Polish vodka, it was fun. Warszawa (try typing that three times fast) is a casual, weird little place. The patio is outdoors but covered with clear plastic tarp set up in a sort of umbrella shape around a tall palm tree. There's a firepit, a huge projection screen (they were playing baseball and basketball games and then switched to "The Spirit"), several tables, and a pretty well-stocked bar.

Their bartenders were both really nice and very patient with my friend that couldn't decide on what she wanted. One of them put up with my sass when I mouthed off about the type of tequila he was putting in my margarita. Good-natured guys, those two!

I haven't actually eaten at Warszawa, but I've heard the Polish sausage is delicious. Maybe someday I'll go back and actually make it in time for dinner!

Though parking in Santa Monica is awful at best, Warszawa tries to help out with a couple little parking lots, so that was a bonus.

I believe the margaritas were $8 for a pretty large cup (they do clear plastic cups with colorful straws), so the price was right.

Between the company and the drinks, it was a good night.

Too bad I'm still at work the next day, tired from getting home too late!