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June 23, 2006

poetry in cheesemaking

i'm currently working on a show that involves shooting at a big mansion with a huge library. of course, since it's a working set, all the books are rented from a prop shop, and are on the shelves purely based on the color and look of the spine -- meaning that you can find quite the variety of titles.
yesterday, i found this fabulous one:
book.jpg
just try saying that a few times to yourself. musical, isn't it? compare: "hippity hop/ to the corner shop/ for a pocketful of candy." "the cheeses and wines/ of England and France/ with notes on Irish whiskey."

the book itself is a manual on how to make your own cheeses and wines, but told in stories ("by 1 o'clock Mrs. Kirby had two pans of salted curd."), personal anecdotes ("at that moment, I felt as close to Burgundy as i have ever felt in the United States"), and various breathless descriptions ("we are now on holy ground. or unholy. yes, unholy, I decide, for it is populated with black and green molds..."). i'm thinking of trying one of the eight mead recipes, but i'm afraid i might blow up the garage.

speaking of blowing things up...ah, but that's another post, when i get the time...

Posted by hadashi at 12:40 PM | Comments (0)

June 11, 2006

American Idol, you can't begin to touch this

a few weeks ago, T.T.'s father had surgery. he's fine, but still recovering, so T.T. has been calling him most mornings (evening in Germany) just to check in with him. Saturday morning they were having a serious conversation when suddenly his father interrupted himself. "gotta go, game's on!" he said, and abruptly hung up. and just like that, the world ground to a month-long halt.
yes, kids, the World Cup 2006 is off and running, and America is somewhat dazed and confused because, well, the NBA Finals are also happening, and basketball is a much more appealing sport to this adolescent, ADD nation. the good news is that in America, the only nation in the world that more or less remains ignorant of "the beautiful game," one can choose whatever team one likes and cheer wildly for them. the bad news is, you'd better either have cable TV or satellite radio. we have neither, and T.T. spent that whole morning looking in vain for an internet feed. he had to resort to watching a live ticker on Deustche Welle. luckily, because Germany is hosting this cycle's Cup, the embassy here in L.A. is being very helpful with informing its citizens where they can watch games. so these days he'll be having breakfast at the historic Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood and watching the matches with other homesick Europeans and enlightened Americans (the link explains everything).
it's hard to exaggerate the phenomenal power of the World Cup. every four years, the world becomes united in its obsession with a black-and-white ball and two teams of 11 men who have 90 minutes to dance an athletic ballet of sorts with it, and with each other. (it is a dance; Brasil, who has won the tournament 5 times, are called the "Samba Boys.") if you add up all the viewers of all the matches, 26 billion people will be watching: American Idol's ratings look paltry compared to that! when the final game of the World Cup is played on the 9th of July, one of six people on the entire planet will be watching. the force of these games are such that wars stop and nations reunite. religious vows are suspended and religious powers are invoked.
okay, so you're intrigued. what now?
i suggest first watching these wonderful 30-second spots. no, i'm not just sending you here because i'm a U2 fan. they really are a great introduction to the idea of the World Cup.
next, read these amazing essays by the likes of Nick Hornby (About a Boy, High Fidelity)and others. they are short reads, but are evocative, funny, poignant, and honest.
then you can pick a team. sure, you can go for the United States in Group E, but why? it may be more American to cheer for all the "underdogs" that miraculously qualified for the tournament. well, come to think of it, the U.S. is considered an underdog too... or just pick a team based solely on looks; some of these players do have day jobs as underwear models, you know.
now, find a radio or a television broadcasting the matches. that's not too hard; walk down the street and just listen for the shrieks and cheers. hint: you'll get better results if you're in a predominantly Latin neighbourhood... or, if you're in L.A., join T.T. for breakfast. the important thing is just to participate in the greatest international human spectacle ever.

it will truly make you a world citizen, if only for a month.

Posted by hadashi at 10:12 PM | Comments (5)

June 7, 2006

hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia

well, the "International Day of Slayer" has come and gone, and the world is still intact. Tuesday's earthshakingly ominous date, 06.06.06, was either a perfect day for cowering in fear at home, or, if you tend to wear a lot of black, get married. all this hoopla about "Devil Day" actually makes me laugh; for those of you late to the game, the number 666 has always gotten special treatment due to a reference in Revelation 13:18, a passage about the destruction of the earth. the Bible is no joke; however, taking it way too literally can cause some weird behaviour. besides, recent historical research has been consistently indicating that 666 was a mistranslation, and the number that's been causing so much fear and loathing (to the extent that there is a special name for being paranoid about 666: hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia) should actually be... 616.

so this means that my birthday, June 16th, is actually the Day of Freaked Out People? great...

Posted by hadashi at 11:11 AM | Comments (3)

June 1, 2006

science says i'm gorgeous!

there are two stickers on the back of my trusty little Honda. one is a gentle suggestion: "Live Larger, Drive Smaller: Not Everyone Needs An SUV." the other is a statement: "100% Hapa."
i get more comments from people about the hapa sticker, which surprises me. everyone knows what an SUV is; the word hapa is a little more obscure. it's a Hawaiian pidgin word that literally means "half," but has come to generally refer to people of half-Asian, half-Caucasian descent. (thus the humour: 100% half. hah hah.) i'm proud of my identity as a person of mixed-race; i've posted before about how proud i am of my parents' relationship. growing up in Asia, but speaking English at home and being exposed to a fair amount of American culture (albeit a bit filtered), i suppose being comfortable with my dual cultural identity makes me even more happy with my dual racial identity. sure, i've experienced my share of odd discriminations, and i've wrestled with the "where do i fit?" question. but i just can't get on board the Angry Hapa Train, the one where the passengers hate having a stranger ask, "Excuse me, what are you?" or get pissy when they fill out surveys asking for race and have to check the "Other" box. words that can be meant as positive are always viewed with suspicion ("exotic," "best of both worlds," "progress against racism," "hybrid vigor"). honestly, this seems to be a colossal waste of energy. SIGH. pardon me; i would like to address my peeps:
fellow hapas (and others of mixed-race), i realise we live in a world where dialogue about race and identity is important. i realise that without this dialogue, without self-questioning, we'll get smushed into that dreaded "Other" box. or worse, we'll never feel comfortable in a society addicted to classification. but while we're busy challenging stereotypes by simply existing, could we please have more of a sense of humour? we do indeed have the right to choose our own culture(s); let's stop being derisive and suspicious and instead laugh about how far -- or not so far -- that we've come.

okay, now that's been said, i would like to laugh heartily about this much-ballyhooed study published in Psychology Today and elsewhere. an Australian psychologist, Dr. Gillian Rhodes, asked a group of Caucasians and Asians which race they find most attractive, and not surprisingly, most said members of their own race. she then showed them a random series of faces, both male and female, and asked them to rate each one's attractiveness on a 1-10 scale. the pictures were actually digitized composites, ranging from exaggerated (more than 100%) Caucasian features to over 100% Asian features, with mixed percentages in between. despite their earlier assumptions about their own race, both male and female participants overwhelmingly rated the Eurasian, or "hapa"-looking faces as the most beautiful.
what makes me chuckle is Dr. Rhodes' conclusion as to why the composite mixed faces were preferred: health. the hypothesis is as follows: people of mixed-race ancestry have two parents from very different genetic backgrounds. therefore, the chance for mutations and inherited diseases are lower. thus, a beautiful face also means a healthy potential mate. the article lists plenty of other studies that link health and beauty, but i couldn't help but snicker: i'm supposedly beautiful because i have a less likely chance of having hemophilia? really? i'll have to ask T.T. if he thinks i'm pretty because of my stunning lack of mutated features. of course, the irony here is that in highschool, i had some friends jokingly call me "The Mutation" because my eye color is, inexplicably, green. (it should be, according to Mendelian genetics and known family history, brown.)

in other hapa news, the project from whence that 100% Hapa sticker on my car sprung, is finally out in public. check it out here, or read this recent article on "Hapa Nation." if you live in the L.A. area, you can attend the big opening of the exhibit here.

now, if you'll excuse me, i need to go wield my exotic, hybrid-vigor beauty over T.T. and convince him to give me a back massage...

Posted by hadashi at 1:05 PM | Comments (1)