Thursday, September 30, 2010


When there's a sudden panic about certain things at work that starts at 7:30 p.m....

When my mother has gone to Korea and I cannot whine to her...

When I cannot sleep for more than 6 hours in a row for weeks on end...

When a co-worker decides to be the most annoying person I've ever had the misfortune to meet...

When I cannot find a person to cut my hair in this town without Asians...

When my face decides that, though I am 28, it wants to break out...

When my entire life seems to be about work...

When I feel like I left everything behind in LA, which I still call "home"...

When I miss people so much that I am overcome when I see their faces in pictures...

... It is time for a drink. Or eight.


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Period Pieces

I am absolutely convinced that "Mad Men" is going to bring on a flood of period pieces in television. It's going to be a shame, because I don't see how they could have the same type of authenticity.

"Life on Mars," a remake of the British show, was not very well received here in the States. I think part of the problem was that it was a gimmick (man is traveling back in time, to the horribly styled 70's) and part of it was that it was kind of boring. Granted, I only watched about half an episode, but it didn't hold my interest. I'll watch the pilot or second episode of any new show, but I don't stick around unless the show keeps me entertained. (That is not a difficult pre-requisite- I watch some crap shows.)

"Boardwalk Empire" is only two episodes in, but proving pretty interesting. I feel like the swinging 20's are overdone, and the show is slamming home the 20's point rather bit heavy-handedly. But still, it shows a lot of promise. And it's Steve Buscemi, he's fascinating to watch. (Michael Pitt, not so much. He's annoying, and his "acting"  hasn't improved since "The Dreamers.") It's got me cautiously optimistic and hopeful that Michael Pitt's character dies soon (not likely). Kelly MacDonald is amazing, as usual, and her story arc in the first episode was surprising but nice to see, moving along at a very quick pace.

I think "Boardwalk Empire" has set itself up to be endlessly compared to that other HBO show, "The Sopranos," because of all the mobsters. It's an ancestor to Tony and Carmela, based more in actual history (casting Stephen Graham as Al Capone was inspired! I'm not so sure about their Lucky Luciano casting, but we'll see). The production value is through the roof, which always helps. HBO's got the money to throw around, and I think that's what really helps in making the environment feel authentic and real.

The last period piece that I really enjoyed from start to finish (on TV) was "Deadwood," another HBO show. That show was funny, irreverent, and truly interesting. It wasn't accurate, I know, but I still consider a period piece because it was a western (another over-done genre). I loved the cast, the script (profanity and all), and the production design. I was not please when they canceled the show, though I could only imagine how difficult that behemoth must have been to produce.

My current favorite period drama is "Mad Men." I'm so glad it came around, because not only does it take place in an era that I'm fascinated by, it's really well done. So subtly written and not overly dramatic. It deals with serious issues, like women's suffrage, racism, alcoholism, nepotism, adultery ... all kinds of nasty themes that should be difficult to watch. It's not difficult to watch, it's beautifully done and, while very attractively designed, somehow seems real.

It's on AMC, so of course, it feels like a smaller show that the HBO giants. There aren't a lot of wide shots outdoors in the city, because they don't have the money to dress an entire city block in 60's attire. I think it works for the show, though- it feels intimate and lived-in, and almost confined to these specific places.

A lot of people find the show really slow, and I did, too, when I first started watching. Isn't life pretty slow, though? And in that era, when people didn't say what they really felt, life must have felt even slower. It's the moments, the sidelong glances, the quiet minutes while a character isn't doing anything at all. I can see why people say that nothing happens on the show, but things do happen- just not at a rhythm that we're used to, particularly given the breakneck plots of modern shows (any cop show, for example).

I find that the show makes me think, after I watch it. Why would Roger do that? What is going on with Don that he is trying that? How messed up is Betty? When is Joan just going to give in to change? There aren't many shows that literally make me think a few days post-watching. I love that about this show.

(Kind of spoiler-ish ahead.)

The eighth episode ("The Summer Man") of this season (the fourth) had a couple of lines that stuck with me. It aired two weeks ago and I'm still thinking about it, which is either a sign that my brain has ceased to function and all I can think about it TV, or that was quite the thought-provoking script.

Don, who has suddenly decided to start keeping journal (uncharacteristic), said "We're flawed because we want so much more. We're ruined because we get these things and wish for what we had."

Jon Hamm isn't my favorite actor. People fawn over him in this role as Don Draper, but I much prefer John Slattery as Roger Sterling, who plays his role with panache and humor. Don Draper's just ... boring. He's not as magnetic as he should be, with minions so prepared to follow him to the ends of the earth. I wouldn't follow him to the end of the street. He internalizes everything, I get that, but ... meh. That quote was so oddly introspective, it made me afraid that he's going to kill himself.

Our girl Joan (along with Roger, my favorites) has been feuding with Joey, who is under Peggy's jurisdiction. (Joey is adorable, but very 2010- he doesn't really fit in with the rest of the cast, in appearance or performance.) Joan finally loses it when Joey decides to draw a crude picture of her and tape it up to the window between her office and the creative pow-wow room. She skewers all of the creative boys to the wall, towering over them and looking each in the eye by turn:

“I can’t wait until next year when all of you are in Vietnam. You will be pining for the day when someone was trying to make your life easier. And when you’re over there, in the jungle, and they’re shooting at you, remember- you’re not dying for me. Because I never liked you.”

Her delivery is quiet, her tone pretty moderated. She doesn't go into hysterics, that Mrs. Harris. That's one of the traits I love most about this character- she doesn't freak out or faint, she doesn't need a man to rescue her. She's matter-of-fact and, though old-fashioned, she has her way of doing things that works for her. I bet she's a great office manager.

It took me forever to write this post because work's been nuts. I'm exhausted. Today, my eyes are swollen, I'm sniffly, and I've got probably another 10 or 11 hours of work ahead of me. Sigh. Back to the grind I go...


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Happy Birthday, Little Sister!

Today is my little sister's birthday! Happy birthday, little nutbrown!!

She is just over a year younger than me. At times, that difference feels like a decade. At other times, that difference feels like three minutes, like we are twins.

These are her adorable bunnies, of course. Her babies that she spoils to death. Gouda, the boy, is the brown and white one. Brie, the girl, is a wee little thing. I have not met her yet. (They're fighting over a popsicle stick in the photo above, sent to me by my sister). Gouda was a tiny little cuddle when last I held him, so I imagine that Brie is just a wisp of a thing, the size of a cotton ball.

I am often reminded of my sister, usually for completely inane things:
LypSyl, our favorite lip balm. (I love this stuff. LOVE.) We both have rather biggish lips in relation to the sizes of our mouths, with thin skin, so we chap quite easily. It's been a life-long struggle to find a lip balm that we genuinely love, and I think this is it. Such a silly thing, and one that can only be shared with someone that knows me better than anyone else.
Shiseido Hydro-Liquid Foundation compact. I left mine with her, because it worked much better for her than for me. Every time I see a refill being sold or one of those compacts, I think of her.
Swedish Fish! We both really only like the red ones- one of the few things we agree on, flavor-wise. We're great in restaurants together because we like the opposite foods. I hate mushrooms, she loves them. She doesn't really eat red meat, I'm a total carnivore. I don't eat olives, she can eat a ton of them. She doesn't like cooked carrots, I don't mind them. Swedish Fish, we definitely agree on. Thanks goodness they sell boxes of red-only Swedish fish!

My family's birthdays are over, for this year. Shopping online for them, thinking about them, it has just kept making me miss them. I have so many long workdays ahead of me, without even the benefit of seeing my family every weekend. It's a discouraging thought.

Anyway! Despite the fact that I have not seen my family for a long time, I know that they had great birthdays. That's what family does- support each other and make sure each has a wonderful birthday, no matter how far away they might be.

I told everyone at work it was your birthday, leetle spreeg, and they all wish you a happy one. Especially Paul McCartney!


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Happy 추석!

Today, September 22, is 추석 (pronounced choo-suk, usually spelled Chuseok).

Happy Chuseok!

We didn't really celebrate Chuseok in my family. I mean, we did in the ways that mattered- basically, we ate this type of glutinous rice cake (떡, pronounced ddeok or tteok) called 송편 (song-pyun or song-pyeon).

My sister and I have always loved tteok, because we're weird that way, but I have to say, of all the varieties of tteok in the world, song-pyeon is definitely in my top three. 

We usually had it just like the photo above, with white, green, and pink. I could never taste a difference between the pink and white, but the green ones were slightly grassy, a little chewier, and delicious with a sweet red bean paste filling. I preferred the white and pink ones with a sweetened sesame seed filling, which pairs better with the softer tteok exterior.

I really miss tteok. It can be found here in Albuquerque, but it's usually just the type used for tteok soup (eaten during New Year) or tteokbokki (eaten anytime). I miss fresh tteok, made in places by ornery old Korean women, stores that only sell tteok and kimbap, a weird but delicious combination. I miss Korean food in general, but most of what I crave, I can make for myself. Tteok is something I've made once in my life, under the careful supervision of my mother. Maybe I'll have to try it again, under the not-as-careful supervision of myself. We'll see if that pans out.

Anyway-- Chuseok is sort of the harvest festival, which is more symbolic than literal in modern times. There are games to play, people to see, dead family members to visit and pay respect to. I have none of that here, and I've realized that it's during these times, when I am completely used to spending a day with my family, that I really, truly miss home.

Work has been mind-numbingly hectic lately, so I don't have (too) much time to dwell upon my homesickness. Still, I think of people at the oddest times- I saw this lip balm that my sister and I use, but in a new flavor (honey berry!) with SPF, and I wanted to turn to her to talk about it. I saw a clump of cacti on the side of the road downtown that were flowering with bright blooms, and I wanted to tell my mother to go look at them. I saw a big ol' skunk crossing the road, and I wanted to joke with my father about roadkill (we used to talk about eating roadkill, because we're weird- canned armadillos, pickled rattlesnake, etc.- the skunk wasn't roadkill, he was fine). I miss joking with my sister that she shouldn't eat injeolmi (인절미, a type of tteok dusted with the powder of beans or sesame) because the elderly and the young choke on the powder.

It's those small moments, the insignificant personal things, that are like tiny paper cuts. Especially on days when I feel more Korean than American, because there aren't any Koreans that I'm close to in this here town.

I don't think it's helping any that it's pouring down rain here and has been for a couple hours now. The city is reflecting my mood. Thanks, Albuquerque.


Monday, September 20, 2010

Happy Birthday, 아빠!

Saturday was my dad's birthday.

Happy birthday, 아빠!

Like all men in South Korea, my dad had to go to the army for two years. This is him, obviously ignoring the rules (as usual). He still looks almost exactly like this, albeit with a few extra pounds and a couple more gray hairs.

I really miss my family. What with my mother's birthday a couple weeks ago, my father's birthday this past weekend, and my sister's birthday this week, I'm really feeling every single one of the 850 miles separating us.

I am crossing my fingers that I will be able to go back home sometime soon (perhaps near Thanksgiving) so I can cuddle with the brainless cat, feed the greedy Gouda some cilantro, and finally meet wee Brie.

I can't wait.


Saturday, September 18, 2010


Literally just saw a skunk (first skunk I've ever seen in the wild (sort of wild) in person!) crossing the street in downtown Albuquerque.

He was huge, the size of a large, fat, domesticated cat!


Thursday, September 16, 2010

My Work Family

I have never worked in a "normal" office, that mythical place where some people seem to go at 9:00 in the morning, emerging like clockwork at 6:00, leaving their work at their desks as they happily traverse, still in daylight, to their homes.

I've had rather tantalizing tastes of that world. Generally, when I first start working on a new movie, there is a brief period of time when I work eight hours a day. I come in, I go to lunch, I go home. I am able to make lunch plans, I am able to go to happy hour, I can promise to be at dinners and actually be there.

It's a blissful time, made all the better by the knowledge that it never lasts. I think on this project, I had a grace period of two, maybe three weeks. That's pretty short, as these things go, and I didn't take full advantage of that time because I was new to Albuquerque and just trying to get my bearings.

Now that I have my bearings (I'm finally getting the hang of this ridiculous quadrant system- every street ends with "NW" or "SE" or whatever, which initially was annoying and redundant, in my opinion), work has picked up quite a bit.

Working a lot always results in at least one thing happening: truly getting to know co-workers. Working on a film with someone is like going through an alien invasion with them. You end up either loving them, hating them, or not remembering them. I'm always sad when I don't remember someone (someone sent me an e-mail the other day, and I cannot for the life of me recall what he looks like), and I'm annoyed when I hate someone (because it means that I will automatically veto any future projects if I'm aware that they will be there), but the worst, possibly, might be loving someone. After surviving the alien invasion, leaving that person is like breaking up or divorcing.

Here's where my family currently stands, about a third of the way through this particular alien invasion:

Moms (alternate between love and fear):
I have two moms, one a producer (my boss) and one the manager here in Albuquerque. They are both nice, though the LA mom can be really tough and rather frightening. I've worked with her before, though, so it's fine. And Albuquerque mom is very nice, though I don't interact with her very often.

Dad (frustrating):
Our head creative. He can be rather adolescent and has a very inappropriate sense of humor, which is hilarious and annoying in turns. He's good at his job and we get along really well, so I do enjoy working with him. He's more approachable than any other person I've ever worked with in this capacity, though I think most of it is a reflection on me and how I've changed, rather than the personalities of the people I've worked with.

We (the production staff) do call them "Mom and Dad," mostly jokingly.

Husbands (simultaneously love and hate, am exasperated and amused):
I have several of them. As someone in production, having a supervisor does not mean that they are my boss, per se, because they don't tell me exactly what to do. Instead, a supervisor is someone I need to support, have answers for, follow up with, and assist. In an alien invasion, he would be the general, I would be the lieutenant. In production, we call each other "work husband" and "work wife."

As I started quite early on this particular movie, I have four husbands. It used to be five, but one of them left me. So rude. The remaining husbands are quite nice.

Older Brother (love):
I've known him for probably around five years. Great guy, though he bottles up his emotions too much. That makes him a bit passive-aggressive, though it's nothing that's out of control. He's funny and a good drinking buddy. I'm the obnoxious younger one, and he allows me to be as crazy as I want to be. A good friend, though it should be obvious that since we've been friends for a while, I'm totally biased towards him.

Aunt Bertha (leaning towards hate, love only outside of work):
The woman that I work with that drives me bonkers. She seems to miss e-mails, chimes into conversations that don't really pertain to her, and generally seems to be having a jolly old time while the rest of us are slaving away. She's really frustrating me lately, I think because she has no 눈치 (noon-chi, which means she doesn't have any awareness of the people around her- oblivious and rather obtuse) and it doesn't bother her at all that others are obviously annoyed and/or put upon. She's proving to me that ignorance is bliss. There's always one in every group.

The Boys (retarded but lovable):
The assorted artists. Goofy, silly, funny, exasperating, facetious, idiotic, the group is, for the most part, a motley crew of ridiculous boys. I imagine that seeing them daily is what it would have been like to grow up with a giant group of little brothers. I do love them, quirks and all.

Cousin Enid (love, with lots of sighing):
Cousin Enid is that one cousin that wants everyone to do things her way- play hopscotch like this, not like that. She's a perfectly lovely person to hang out with, but can get insecure and inscrutable, going into funks that seem unwarranted. As a formerly over-sensitive girl, I can say that I know what that was like. But it doesn't make it easier to deal with.

There are lots of other miscellaneous people, but I'm reserving judgment until I know them better. Our crew is only half of what it will become, so there are many newbies still to come. I hope none of them drive me crazy, as some of the existing folks do.

In the meantime, I'm off to go look at bluescreen plates until my eyes pop.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010


The time has come on "Green Lantern"- that time when I start talking about how much I work.

It's not too bad right now. Ten hour days, sometimes eleven. A few hours on the weekends. Easing into the hellish hours that I see in my future...

Since my brain is sometime crispy from the work-related overthinking, I'm blogging via pictures. Click for the big versions:


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Mad Ads

Over a year ago, I wrote a post about the way I perceive gender roles. This still holds true. I am still sexist, and I still don't agree completely with the Korean way of thinking or with the American way of thinking.

That having been said, I found these blatantly piggish and inappropriate advertisements to be hilarious:

Because when I get married, all I'll want for Christmas are kitchen supplies! A new toaster? Honey, how did you know? And I'll manipulate my husband by crying if he doesn't get me an electric beater.
This one, in my opinion, is even worse. First of all, the Dormeyer ad looked like it was from the 50's. This one is from the 60's, 70's, or maybe even the 80's, going off what the "modern" couple looks like. I don't even get a choice- my perfect husband is, apparently, going to get me a stand mixer so that I can take my perfectly manicured self to the kitchen and cook for him.
Appalling, unintentionally hysterical. First of all, do husbands really care about how fresh their coffee is? Especially back in the days of black and white print ads? And second of all, I would not and will not look that put together whilst doing my housewifely duties.

No thanks, I'd rather not bet my sweet Telex operator that the monstrosity sitting there is a computer. It looks like a giant caveman word processor, and she looks like a go-go dancer that switched from her acrylic-heeled go-go boots to sensible office shoes just before her shift started.
Blatantly wrong. She's doing meth just to get herself through all her chores, but she decided to call it "Pep" vitamins.
Actually ... it is. Why would you kill someone over a postage meter? Were men really that impatient?
Ew. I don't quite know why this would ever work. The smoke ... smells ... delicious? Gross.
Actually, Sue Ellen, women can open most jars and bottles! They only fake it when they want to appear delicate and ladylike, the total opposite of that Rosie the Riveter gal. Matching the lipstick to the ketchup was a nice touch.
Even doctors were foolish back in the day. There was a scene in "Mad Men" pretty recently of Joan at her gynecologist's office. The doctor concludes his exam and then picks up a cigarette. Smoking, in front of a woman that is trying to get pregnant. Oh, the 60's!
Maybe this is why we have baby teeth. So they can rot out of our heads because we drink carbonated, artificially sweetened beverages before eating solid food.
The fact that babies were a selling point for two brands of soda? Completely ridiculous. I do enjoy that this advertisement has "The Soda Pop Board of America" on it. It sounds like a fake company with a fun name. People should say "soda pop" more often.
Oh, Santa! Another "Mad Men" reference- in the first or second episode this season, Roger Sterling dressed up as Santa at the company Christmas party and gave out beribboned cartons of Lucky Strike.

Obviously, all these ads made me think immediately of "Mad Men." Similar era, same business, same eerily inappropriate yet somehow still charmingly kitschy and retro charm. The show's been kicking things into a rather crazy place, what with rampant alcoholism, nasty divorces, and secretive office affairs. I actually find that the more realistic portrayal (as opposed to the saccharine-sweet type that's more common) makes the show fascinating and intriguing.

I wonder what the kids that aren't yet born will think of our ads? Our movies? Our point of view? They'll mock us, for sure, but I'm curious to find out what the mockery will be for.

At least, for now, I'm happy to be the generation in disbelief over our predecessors.


Wednesday, September 08, 2010


Doodles from my work notebook, in pen...

When I am not stressed out, I tend to draw with light lines. I don't commit to the lines very much.
Harder, cleaner lines once the stress starts to hit. Plus, a dead cat. At least it's got a halo...
Insanity has set in. Complete babbling in the form of sketches, labeling what is clearly a beaver with "I'm a woodchuck!"
Sometimes, the drawing comes from somewhere else. I drew the leaves first because the way I wrote "Todd" made me think of leaves. Then I drew the koala.
Says "bat" in Korean. I actually don't like this guy. Something about his nose or eyes or something. I might draw a new bat if I remember to at some point.
 Drawing a pawn from the chess set that was on one of our conference tables while I was in a meeting. Obviously boredom.
Shocked sock puppet.
Pelican, because I had a dream about them. Don't like his tail.
Very hard, dark, angry lines. Not a good day, despite the music notes.
Pelicans, one asserting himself over the other. Story of life in production.

These doodles are really super quick, don't judge me too harshly. Mostly in meetings or conference calls, about whatever pops into my silly head.

They are a good gauge of where I am, generally. Sometimes, I draw all static objects- chairs, lamps, pens, etc. Sometimes, like now, it's all about animals. Cute and cuddly or realistic and rabid. Other times, it's people.

I guess it's going well enough right now that I am still drawing cartoony animals. We'll see what I'm drawing a couple months from now...


Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Happy Birthday, 엄마!

Happy birthday, 엄마!

My mother's birthday was this past Sunday. (I would have posted sooner about it, but something about my computer at home is broken.)

This is the first time I have not seen her for her birthday, and I felt a little lost and sad on Sunday. I have never missed my family more than I did this past weekend.

I know that, eventually, I will go on to have my own family, away from my nuclear family. I don't have my own family yet, but I feel like I am losing my nuclear family- I moved far away, I don't see them regularly, as I used to, and I just miss them.

Having friends is all well and fine, but there's nothing like family.

Happy belated birthday, Momma, I hope you weren't too sad without me!


Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Eggs in ABQ

The government tells me that I should be careful about how I cook my food at this high altitude (Albuquerque is officially at 5,312 feet, which is just over 1 mile) because things are just different here.

Water boils faster, at a lower temperature. Which means pasta takes longer to cook, annoying me greatly. However, it also means that I can get my coffee fix just a bit sooner. There are pros and cons to this, but I think the cons outweigh the pros by far.

Everything takes longer to cook up here, and with more moisture (I am struggling against adding more oil or butter to everything, and trying valiantly to add more water or stock or whatever). This is irritating to me, as I like to cook fast, simple, and with as few pans and pots as possible.

I have a weird sort of paranoia about bacteria and germs in my food, so a few years ago, I bought a Thermapen, an instant-read thermometer for the most OCD people out there. I use it almost daily, depending on what I'm cooking (other than those blissfully simple days when I'm just having rice, kimchi, and gim). Anytime I am cooking meat of any kind, I break out the thermometer and make absolutely sure that the meat is done. I don't need diseases from my food, thank you very much.

All this is just a long-winded way for me to explain this annoyance that I am currently having when trying to cook my lunch. I love eggrolls. No, not those eggrolls that are wrapped and fried. Eggrolls that are literally eggs, rolled while cooked, with or without being filled. Some people (mostly of the Japanese or bento-minded variety) call these tamagoyaki, while I grew up calling these 계란 쌈 (pronounced 'gye-ran ssam,' literally meaning egg (gye-ran) wrap (ssam)). These are the Korean version of tamagoyaki, with one significant change: savory, rather than sweet.

Tamagoyaki, as I discovered the first time I tried it, are sweetened eggs. That was an unpleasant surprise, let me tell you. I love eggs- scrambled, fried, rolled, in omelets and frittatas- but I do not like them sweet. Unless they're an ingredient in desserts, in which case, bring on the sugar.

Gye-ran ssam, on the other hand, are a very similar concept but savory, much more my speed. I love these wrapped eggs for lunch. They're as close to a perfect packed lunch as I can imagine.

Another weird thing about me: when I pack my lunch, I hate to refrigerate it and microwave it before eating. Yes, that's right. I'm on the cusp of being a germaphobe but I hate two of the major components that would kill germs. I never said I was without quirks.

So when I do pack lunches, I have to pack things that will stay good out of the fridge and that will taste good at room temperature. Gye-ran ssam are perfect for this, provided the eggs were completely cooked and there's nothing in the roll that needs refrigeration.

The ssam above (taken with my phone, at my desk) is filled with sopressata, red bell pepper, and kale. Under the egg roll is a layer of rice (long-grain rice with some wild rice, which gives an overall purple hue) with some peas thrown on top, because I love peas.

Very nearly the perfect lunch to pack and eat at work.

Too bad Albuquerque is trying to ruin it by making it take a few extra minutes to cook my eggs.