Yan (Maybe) Can Cook

comic121808 The eggplant sacrificed more than any of its comrades. Some slices seemed to have escaped cooking entirely, with minimal damage, while others were zombified. The chicken was alright, just overcooked. At least the sauce was even. In Yan’s kitchen, anything is possible!

While I’m not getting into the Zagat anytime soon, I will learn to salt the eggplant next time and put in the chicken a bit later. And maybe get a real wok.

Like studying for a test, I’ve put off learning to cook for a very long time. Maybe it is because I know I’ll never make it taste, smell, or even look like my mother’s dishes; maybe it is because eating out gives some measure of peace that I am able to, through some process, make a fragrant, hearty serving of Thai crispy chicken goodness appear in front of my plate. I knew the first real dish I cook would be a disaster, so to stall the pain to the ego I had all sorts of excuses to push it back.

The way these things usually go, everyone in the universe conspires against me to make the fated day happen. It was probably the tenth time my roommate J. casually left his chicken stew simmer on the stove, so flavorful that I got hungry while opening the room door, while my conscience kindly poked the back of my brain (with a chef’s knife?) that the last thing I cooked for myself, like the 500 times before it, was either cereal, microwavable oatmeal, or fried eggs when I decide to get fancy. Of course at school, G. suggested in her energetic European way that I simply *must* go watch Ratatouille because it was “so good that it makes you hungry,” only the day before L. wanted to watch a happy film. Ratatouille it was. Continue reading “Yan (Maybe) Can Cook”

The Dark Knight’s Three-Body Problem

SPOILERS OBVIOUS DUH

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It is damn hard to create three interacting characters in a single film who are equally interesting. Some films have shown us it is hard enough to even do two (Iron Man), and for some films, even one (Spiderman III). To be controversial, I will make the absurdly incorrect remark that The Dark Knight accomplishes this feat., solving the (coined by myself) Three-Body Problem of Film. Nobody who watched the film will agree with me (even myself), so I will have to do do some fast talking and redefine “equal,” by analyzing the film through three different foci: Continue reading “The Dark Knight’s Three-Body Problem”

Jumper

The vices of being a poker degenerate creep beyond potential bankrupcy when the game habits start to corrupt real-life decisions. In other skills this is (mostly) harmless – the weirdest thing that has happened to me because of foosball was zoning out during the World Cup wondering why the guys weren’t lined up neatly and doing simultaneous stationary back-flips. However, being a complete calling station is much more exploitable, as P cleverly demonstrated by provoking me into agreeing to skydive with a simple comment to my last post:

P: “…blah blah blah. i say you man the f*** up and jump out of a plane or off a bridge.”

Y: “f*** you!” (translation: “okay.”)

Even though they trapped me, my friends were, as always, considerate and wonderful. Knowing my fear of heights, they warmly prepared me with a week of Youtube videos of skydiving incidents gone horrible wrong and inducing three nights of nightmares involving heights and planes. Then it was Saturday. Continue reading “Jumper”

Vertigo

The Bard Hall gym has a terrace, which is kind of weird, it being in a basement.

The twisted geography of Washington Heights places back side of the gym atop a four-story drop overlooking the river. So while I was listening to blaring workout music, every few seconds a pleasant river breeze splashes me from the direction of the window. I wanted to go out and look down, and stare at the water a bit to cool me off between sets. While I did a little bit of supplements myself, A has been stacking creatine and nitric oxide and protein and magic dust and God-knows what, and I was a little miffed and groggy since I couldn’t keep up. I wanted the water.

But I’m afraid of heights. Continue reading “Vertigo”

Bobby McFerrin Concert

comic031008.jpgLW is staying over for a week, and Chen is jealous, so we agree to watch a Bobby McFerrin concert with Chen and her friend Silvia. Getting off work a early, I magically make it to Carnegie Hall on time, despite the train-track suspension, wondering what I should expect from Bobby beyond the Youtube videos (my one source of knowledge about the musical legend). Of course the jabbering female trio rudely interrupt my thinking, asking me from behind to move because my seat was reserved for their friend “who is probably late. ” I guess I have sexy back. Although I admit that the performance was totally another level back of sexy.

Bobby McFerrin is a tremendous presence. Calling him a “walking instrument” is inaccurate because he is definitely more than one. While singing, he taps both his microphone with his right pinky and drums his chest with his left palm for percussion – to accompany what seems like sometimes two simultaneous vocals from his mouth, a trick that I’ve also seen Wang Li Hom do (though it is still voodoo to me). Continue reading “Bobby McFerrin Concert”

I’m not too Different from George Bush

comic020108.jpg I read a damn good article about a week ago titled The Illustrated President from Harper’s Magazine. The subject is the following painting:

A charge to keep

Cliff’s Notes: Our eminent president is moved by the above painting of a fearless missionary determined to uphold American values in the Godless West. He takes the painting’s heroic name, A Charge to Keep, for his autobiography. A little research tells us that the painting was an illustration for a short story depicting a horse thief running away from his persecutors, blessed with the caption “Had His Start Been Fifteen Minutes Longer He Would Not Have Been Caught.” Scott Horton ends his bitter analysis of President Bush with:

So Bush’s inspiring, proselytizing Methodist is in fact a horse thief fleeing from a lynch mob. It seems a fitting marker for the Bush presidency. Bush has consistently exhibited what psychologists call the “Tolstoy syndrome.” That is, he is completely convinced he knows what things are, so he shuts down all avenues of inquiry about them and disregards the information that is offered to him. This is the hallmark of a tragically bad executive. But in this case, it couldn’t be more precious. The president of the United States has identified closely with a man he sees as a mythic, heroic figure. In fact that man is a wily criminal one step out in front of justice. It perfectly reflects Bush the man . . . and Bush the president.

It’s a delightfully safe fad to poke fun at Bush. However, after I laughed, I thought about the painting a little more seriously and began to wonder if I really should be laughing at myself for all of my similarities to the President. Continue reading “I’m not too Different from George Bush”

Teaching

comic012908.jpgI’ve always enjoyed teaching – I taught 4 out of my 6 semesters in college out of my kind heart (the pay was negligible, but enough to pay for textbooks and a couple of meals at the cafe). Grading was a pain in the ass and most people don’t come to sections (except during exam reviews the room magically fills up), but even the zen experience of showing up to teach the weekly section for 3 or 4 heads cleansed my soul. Occasionally, I form a really nice connection with a couple of students – and I see the click of knowledge. Knowledge is one of the few precious resources we have that does not follow a conservation law, so I wanted to exploit this as much as possible. I would trade grading 5 problem sets for each spark of insight I see someone gain, since I knew how clear the whole world looked when I would have one of those sparks.

Recently though, I’ve found an unlikely student in an unlikely situation. Continue reading “Teaching”

Happy New Year

No content here, just a quick update:

1) I’ve started to contribute to a secret blog, so some of my time has gone there. It may go public at some point or it may not.

2) I’ve removed the blogroll and added a “Link” page instead.

I’ve been a little busy. But I’ll write more soon.

-YZ

Turkey Day Reminesces – Friends

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A turkey is not necessarily just a bird, like in the above beautiful drawing. It can be an annoying person, an ineffectual investment, or a failed event. My Turkey Day was then actually a turkey, since I failed to sync my plans and transportation effectively this year and ended up staying home. If all plans worked out correctly, I would have happily gone back, invited myself (and everyone else, haha) to J’s, and have yet another 5-hour-session of vegging with the crew from high school. As an adult now, sometimes these outings are still all I wish to do on a weekend.

Continue reading “Turkey Day Reminesces – Friends”

New York – 9/25 weekend

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“Sleep is the cousin of death.”

– Nas, NY State of Mind, Illmatic

I was probably transgressing some New York law by calling people to hang out right before a Mets game. By the time I realized this, which was 3 phone calls later, I was already on the train into the most proud city of the world for basically the first time (*). I took a long nap to Imogen Heap, whose music seems oddly fitting for any occasion, and woke up right at Grand Central, ready to rock.

Manhattan people sweep through the streets, as if in unison, although each one is actually keenly aware of his or her own sphere of New York Personal Space. You Do Not mess with New York Personal Space. I saw a photographer try to take a snapshot of a lady’s dog, only to be spat upon with a lesson about rights and liberty and privacy in the United States (the photographer was audibly European). I learned my lesson and decided to avoid angry, busy-looking people, which unfortunately seemed to include everybody. People were always going somewhere, and made it clear that if you talked to them they would punch you. This was a slanted contrast with Tokyo, where people were also always going somewhere, but only made it clear that if you talked to them they would avoid you. Continue reading “New York – 9/25 weekend”