09 December 2016

TPE: Things I Bought

So I was just recently in Taiwan for three weeks again, after having just left seven months ago. This time I was there to accompany my sister, her husband (AMR), and his parents. There are a lot of things to do in Taiwan but mostly it’s two things: eat and shop. I’ve already covered the foods of Taipei in my Eat Your Heart Out: TPE posts, but here’s a listing of the stuff I bought that were necessities during this trip.

Keep in mind, these are definitely not things you should buy -- for that you could consult a list like “20 Locals and Expats Share Their Gift Shopping Ideas in Taipei” -- but rather stuff I felt compelled to buy even though I was just in Taiwan a half a year ago. Prepare for an onslaught of cute things.

But first a plug for the Louis Vuitton City Guide, Taipei edition. My friend Steph, aka Thousandth Girl, was one of the writers on it, and I just got a copy. Right off the bat I learned that Taipei developed west to east, "from temples to glass towers" and the city centre slowly moved from Ximending to East District and on. Total aha moment as I never realized that small fact.

The LV Guide has a nice overview of Taipei's neighborhoods, and provides recommendations for hotels, restaurants, bars, cafes, "good things," nightlife, arts and culture, interior cachet, five walking tours, and offers up an awesome 24 hours in the city itinerary. Go check it out! And now on with the shopping...

Wall Clock ($40): Apparently it’s not easy to buy cheap well-made wall clocks that have smooth sweeping action. And are whisper quiet. No tick tock tick tock. This was one of AMR’s top shopping targets and he knew just the person to bring him to the promised land: my mom. Tucked into an alley on Dongmen’s wet market is this store that just sells clocks. AMR was in clock heaven and he walked out with three, and then somehow I purchased a wall clock on a whim for a wall I don’t have. Oh well, first the clock, then the wall!

The clocks are all Seiko and I believe the style of clock a person selects must speak volumes about them. Mine is pictured on the left, with neon-style numbers and a palette of muted colors. Divine from that what you will. The owner of the shop hooked us up and says he also does brisk business online. The store is called Nasa Watch but I can't find an address so maybe my mom will have to take you there. [Link]

Black, scoop bottomed T-shirts ($9): During my time living in Taipei, I basically just went to one guy for my upper wear. He’s located in an alley at Shida Night Market and his corner stall was across the street from my friend’s apartment so basically we saw him all the time Dare I say it, we became friends. This 朋友 also happened to be about my size and build and whenever he wore something I liked, I just got it. After awhile, I pared down my selections to just white and black versions of this extra-long, scoop bottomed tee. They were perfect for me, and also came in tank top versions. You don’t know how hard it is for me to find T-shirts, I have a whole blog post in draft about this from years ago. Perhaps I should post it. Anyway, these were great T-shirts, and a perfect thickness for me.

So I went back to his stall this trip and poof, he was gone. Replaced by two young women running a women’s clothing stall. Tragedy! It’s hard to convey how devastating this was, and I had to settle for buying some inferior related type T-shirts at a stall in Shilin Night Market. The price was cheaper, $9 versus $16, but I’d have preferred to buy them from my friend. [Link]

Forever 21 shirt ($20): While the Forever 21s in Taipei don’t differ much from the ones Stateside, it’s still my go-to store for stuff. For example, I had to wear a collared shirt for a club opening thing. And since I didn’t bring anything appropriate, I hopped into Forever 21 and grabbed a white shirt with horizontal black stripes on the upper sleeves. Later some guy at the club said it was “very Korean.” I have no idea what that meant.

Fox tote bag ($17): At this small store, located at Shida Night Market, my friend bought a dress with illustrations of samurai on it and I bought a 八涂 branded tote bag. It came in a cardboard roll and was just too beautiful to pass up. Good features include a leather handle, a metal button up top for clasping, a gridded interior design, separate hand and shoulder carry straps. Do I already own tote bags I never use? Of course I do, but I’m a sucker for bags!

Triangular folding glass cases ($5): One of my greater finds, I must say. I bought some of these glasses cases before but returned for more. Turns out they were easier to find than I anticipated, just keep your eyes open at night market glasses shops. The great thing about these glasses cases is that they fold down flat. Similar ones can be purchased on Amazon for about ten dollars. My sister and in-laws bought like twenty to give out as gifts. Everyone needs one, or two! [Link]

Skirt Pants ($9 - $50): Lately all I’ve been wearing is skirt pants. I bought my dream ones last year at Mana 嗎哪民族風服飾 — they have a few stores in Taipei — but had a hard time finding street versions. This time around, I found them at street markets and got a pair for super cheap. The Mana ones are more quality, and I bought two, but those were for friends. Straight up, pant skirts are the best, so ridiculously comfortable. [Link]

Glasses and sunglasses ($9): I bought a pair of sunglasses and a pair of regular glasses because when in Taiwan, you just have to. And if you have prescription glasses, getting them done in Taiwan is ridiculous cheap. Plus you don’t need a prescription. And duh, the frames are sized and fitted for Asian faces. You can buy expensive frames and go to expensive places to get the lenses, but I prefer to just get night market frames for like $8 and then have lenses put in for $20. Beat that.

Cell phone cases ($8): If you’re looking for cell phone cases, the night markets are a wonderland. Especially if you lean toward the splashy ones. One night, I sent my wish into the aether for a cactus design and the next day I found a great one. And then I bought another watercolor one for non-cactus days. Double steal!

Rohto eye drops ($5): While I couldn’t scientifically declare what the best eye drops are, I will tell you conclusively that these Rohto eye drops are the best in the world. It’s all in the design, which is square and flat and a joy to have in your bag. Beware, there are a few different types, including specific ones for contact wearers and non-contact wearers. I use the one with the blue cap. Which Amazon apparently doesn't offer. Get. These. Eye. Drops. [Link]

Uma Hana bags ($5): All around the night markets, especially Ximen, you’ll see these plastic-y waterproof bags with various prints on them. George wanted a nice sized overnight bag, and then once we got into a particularly large store, her and AMR ended up purchasing much more than that. Backpacks, tote bags, sling bags, you name it, they probably got it. Turns out Uma Hana is a Taiwan brand and if you’re carrying one it conveys ultimate “FOB life” status. I bought a rainbow bear printed smartphone pouch for when the trusty fanny pack just doesn't go with the outfit. Because bears are universal.

And now onto the useless trinkets that I can’t resist. Even if I basically resisted 90% of the stuff I actually would have bought.

Mouton the Elephant luggage lock ($7): The best thing to do if you’re gonna buy any mascot type stuff is to just pick one and go with it. Unfortunately, I have more than one mascot love. And Mouton is one of them. Mouton is a pale blue circus elephant with pink and white striped ears. Irresistible. I don’t even use luggage locks, but I just wanted this piece as a figurine. I mean, as a gift for my niece...

Snoopy mug ($8): My mom hates mugs. (She has no mugs at her house.) We love mugs. And if AMR was going to brew us daily cups of wonderful Taiwan roasted coffee, we had to have mugs. And so we both bought Snoopy ones and then carried them home with us to continue the adventure.

Taiwan bear magnet ($5): It’s a magnet shaped like a can of Taiwan Beer, but with a smiling Formosan bear on it. And the word mark says “Taiwan Bear.” Brilliant?! I can’t wait to buy a fridge to accompany this magnet.

Kumamon keychain, Formosan black bear keychain ($5): I don't really have keys for anything, but that won't stop me from collecting keychains. Kumamon is a Japanese black bear (apparently now "Japan's most popular bear”), and I couldn’t pass up a tiny Formosan black bear keychain. Now to get keys to pair with these keychains...

Hello Kitty tin, with stationary inside ($3): I allowed myself only one Hello Kitty themed item, aside from my subway card, and this was it. I'll probably use it to store secrets or something. Your secrets!

Cell phone ring ($2): These are everywhere now, and as loathe as I am to affix anything to my beautiful cell phone case, I did get a yellow bell-shaped ring holder, just in case it proves useful. My new cases are real slippery and I'd hate to drop my phone. Fashion versus function right? [Link]

Totoro eyemask ($4): When you need to fall into a deep sleep, why not have Miyazaki lead you the way? "Full of sweet memory, full of deeply happiness." If only it were that easy right?

17 November 2016

The Re-Do

So I’ve had a personal podcast for awhile, “You, Me, Us” that was maybe sixty or so conversations I recorded over the years with friends. But that kind of died down as people stopped wanting to speak with me. Wah wah! But I love podcasting and wanted to make more, and last year I met a friend who also loves talking -- and can tolerate me! So we decided to make a podcast: The Re-Do.

Margot and I are long distance friends — we met last year in Taiwan — and she’s a world traveler and rambler like me. Well, I can’t really be called a world traveler, but she certainly is, as she’s been to over 30+ countries and counting. (Check out this You, Me, Us interview about her trip to North Korea.) We happen to have tons of stuff in common, but enough differences to be shaded differently in just about everything, so it makes for everlasting conversations. And now they're recorded!

We get together every two weeks or so to recall, recap, and reassess, and so far we’ve covered important topics like Harry Potter World, BBQ BFFs, and Tinder adventures. We’re available on iTunes, Stitcher, and Soundcloud, and so if you want to hang out with us, please do!

Note: I'm recording on a Blue Microphones Yeti, finally figuring out how to audio edit with Adobe Audition, and would appreciate any feedbackon (bad) audio. Thanks!

PS: The logo is a pencil, but sort of stylized like a cityscape. Do you see it?

26 September 2016

Skyline To

I went down to Barrio Logan for The Little Big Art Show at La Bodega Gallery over the weekend. Truthfully, it’s likely the only art thing I’ve been to in San Diego for at least ten years. I was curious what the crowd would be like mostly. Short answer: the same as anywhere else! Although maybe it skewed a little older than I expected. Then again who am I to talk about age?

And while on the subject, support Susie's campaign against Francesa's, who has been ripping off indie designer's designs for their own store. Susie has long been a champion of artists' rights and what Francesca's (among many other companies) is doing is just deplorable. There's more than one way to draw a cat but Francesca's just had to steal Susie's eh? If you're against rip offs, go support Susie!
While shopping at a nearby record shop before the art show, I grabbed a zine about Indian casinos and a short self-published book about cholos in college. Published in the Eighties, this book seemed intriguing on the surface but I read it and basically wanted to puke. The author was not from the community, didn't present things in an anthropological manner, and the whole thing was basically a self-congratulatory ode to himself: a professor who played self-styled savior for gangsters from the area. Big pat on the back! I would quote from the book directly but it’s just too much and I wouldn’t want to shine any light on this terrible tome.

Whew, that felt good. It’s rare you read something that makes you so angry right? I mean, offline that is. The main issue with the book was how condescending it was, and you guessed it, it’s a white dude trying to show how “down" he was, with all the lingo set off by quotes. Trash, absolute trash. But at least I’m one book closer to fiftyfifty. I’m currently at 18 books and 44 movies. I’m behind on books obviously but there’s an outside chance I could cross the finish line if I shape up for the rest of the year.

And since I’ve yet to talk any books in 2016, let’s plug some! First up, I can’t stop shutting up and recommending Ted Chiang’s short stories to people. I went to go see him speak at AAWW a few months ago but finally finished his collection of short stories, Stories of Your Life and Others. The titular story is brilliant, as well as many others, but the one that really caught my attention was "The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate," about a mirror that enables time travel. Anyway, go read this book! And then get ready for Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival, which stars Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner, and looks downright amazing.
And speaking of New York, I finally got around to reading Asterios Polyp, a graphic novel that my friend highly recommended years ago. So long ago that I think we were both still living San Franciso. Anyway, Asterios Polyp really is great, even if the plot seems a little under hatched. But the art style and thematic elements are so strong. Everyone says it gets better with each read, and I’m excited to dig into it again.
Also on the graphic novel tip, I got the first volume of Monstress, written by Marjorie Liu with art by Sana Takeda, aka two Asian-American women putting out a comic book in an overwhelmingly male dominated industry. (I mean, what industry isn't right?) The fantasy world they’ve created is filled with intriguing characters, a two-tailed cat, and when you're done you'll just with there was more Monstress to catch up on.
And although I haven't left the house much recently, I did get out to La Jolla Playhouse to watch Tiger Style!, a play from Mike Lew about growing up Chinese-American. You can see how it was right up my alley… And it proved to be exactly what I wanted: witty and arcastic, unapologetically direct about ethnicity and race, and very very funny. The line that sums Tiger Style! up perfectly, as spoken by a U.S. customs officer who is giving two characters a hard time and refuting their calls of discrimination: “I don’t hear race."
It’s been a pretty bad year for movies but I can recommend Dearest on Netflix and Hell or High Water in the theater. The latter is a neo-Western about two bank robbers down on their luck, and Dearest is a powerful “based on a true story” account of child abduction in China. Both are real crowd pleasers! Okay, don’t quote me on that...

And last thing, my friend Cindy wrote a cyberpunk YA novel set in near future Taipei. WANT features an Asian-American male on the cover. And I repeat: An Asian-American male on the cover. I stopped updating my CoverMale Pinterest board two years ago, but WANT would have been a fine edition. Just look at that beauty. And did I say it’s set in Taipei?! I can't wait to read this thing.

10 September 2016

Eu Gosto De Bolo

Alright, I’m back! After about six weeks in Brazil. “For the Olympics?” Hell no! I wouldn’t have gone to Rio if you’d paid me as I hate crowds, have little to no national pride, and can’t be bothered to pay attention to the Olympics, even if I was Stateside. I mean, aside from listening to podcasts about Team USA basketball. So yeah, I missed all the brouhaha about the two Simones and unfortunately couldn’t help but know too much about Lochte. I was simply in South America because I was done with New York and I had friends to host me in Brazil. Thanks friends!

Brazil is not that far away actually. From New York it’s just a ten hour flight down to Sao Paulo. (On the flight over I did meet someone who goes to every Olympics with her friends, all dressed up and everything, and it was fun to talk to her about her experiences in Athens, Beijing, Sochi, etc.) Also, I wasn’t near the beaches or anything, as I started from Sao Paulo and then went inland, near the border of Paraguay and Brazil.

Things I knew about Brazil before I went down there: not much. Especially the geography. Basically any Brazilian cities I was familiar with was a direct result of playing lots of Pocket Planes, which introduced me to important hubs such as Salvador or Recife, the latter of which is the closest South American city for creating an efficient route to Western Africa. Actually, Pocket Planes was also helpful in that each city on the map was accompanied by a population number, which was very useful.

I hate that my only metric for comparison is basically the United States. I was constantly Googling for city sizes (Ex: Ponta Pora is the equivalent of Alhambra, CA), prices of things, and just generally always in compare and contrast mode. I guess that’s how it is when you travel anywhere, but it just felt kind of gross. Without any American frame of reference though, I was often lost. At least the Stranger Things hype hit everywhere all the same time. Binge watching is universal.

Quick facts: Sao Paulo is a megapolis, with two more million people in it than New York. Although to my limited experience, it felt more like San Francisco. But with a better subway system. Also it’s supposedly very dangerous, but I hesitate to make any generalizations, as I wasn’t in Sao Paulo that long.

This was the first time in awhile I was in a setting where I couldn’t really understand anything. Sure, I had been playing with Duolingo for awhile to learn some Portuguese but I couldn’t pick up anything verbally. Usually I’m in an English or Mandarin speaking environment so I can get the gist of stuff, but I was mostly helpless there. The good news is that I wasn’t ever left to my own devices and my hand was held every step of the way. Safety first!

Things I did do in Brazil: Tok a sixteen hour bus ride, rode in an armored car, flossed a lot due to many meals involving meat, drank coffee in little cups that made me yearn badly for Starbucks-sized cups, talked a lot with people about how Brazilians perceive/view race, learned some history and local economy, got introduced to the works of architect Oscar Niemeyer, saw hordes of Pokemon chasers, watched an entire (animated) movie in Portuguese. Thought an insect laid an egg in my palm — “ovo” means egg — but after some friend-based needle surgery, turned out my panic was just over some clotted blood...

Also, the Museu Afro Brasil turned out to be our favorite museum in Sao Paolo’s Parque Ibirapuera. And I was stunned by the size and scope of Livraria Cultura, a chain bookstore whose Avenida Paulista branch was oh so beautiful. Another highlight was just happening to be at the local mall when Brazil beat Germany in the gold medal match. #witness

So yeah, that’s where I’ve been and now I’m back in the U.S. again. For how long? Let’s seeeee!

27 July 2016

Goodbye to All This

"Something has changed inside me, something is not the same…” Can you tell I watched Wicked last week? For maybe the fifth time I think, but only the second time on Broadway. This time we were just five rows back and it was spectacular.

To recap, I first tried to watch Wicked on Broadway right before Idina Menzel left, flying out in November of 2004 in an attempt to get lottery tickets. That didn’t work out, unfortunately. But since then I’ve made it a point to watch it in whatever city I’m in. Los Angeles in 2005, San Diego in 2006, San Francisco in 2010, and then on Broadway in 2014 and this year. Where next?! Maybe Japan! Through the power of Spotify I stumbled upon the Gekidan Shiki cast recording, which is entirely in Japanese (duh). I’d be curious what they may have changed, if anything.

Anyway, every time I watch Wicked, I pick up new things — or forget past feelings in the interim — and just want to gush over how great and clever it is all over again. If you haven’t seen Wicked, I’ll be ready to go again in another two years. See you in Tokyo?

Of course, Wicked's not all I’ve been doing. Even if that was the definitive highlight of my last week or so in New York. Yup, I’m on my way out again. After just two months this time. Most of me was hoping that I would last longer, and maybe I would have, but maybe my attitude was defeatist from the beginning. Much of the charm and magic of New York for me involves late summer nights, lots of dancing and park-ing, and just generally running around and having fun. But that part has now slipped away. People ask me why, if it’s me or the city. It’s probably both.

I can’t even stand going out in LES anymore, overrun as it is by douchebags galore. I guess it was always like that but it just seems worse now. And Brooklyn, faraway Brooklyn has the same feeling too, at least the few times I've tried to go out. And to be honest, a lot of the change has been me, as I’ve had a very “the death of fun” attitude about things. I’m trying to stop chasing the same thrills, putting the same record on over and over again. It’s like when a dance track is objectively great but after the hundredth time it just loses its power to make you move. Example: Faith Evans, “Love Like This.” You get semi-excited but it just gets tired quickly you know?

Sad as I am, overall I think this is good for me, as I'm finally feeling a little settled down. Inside and out.

Numbers: Over the past seven years, dating back to 2010, I’ve lived in New York for twenty-nine months, with one or two months at a time being the norm, excepting 2011 when I was here for seven months and then 2012-3 when I was here for all of 2013 and four months of 2012. So sixteen months in a row. So yeah, I just keep running back and forth and back and forth. But this time I'm running with no real plans on coming back...

Sure there’s a chance I’ll be back soon enough, never say never, but I don’t know when. At the very least, I've realized that it's unlikely I could live here long term. However, as my friend put it, “You could be back in two months…” And really, where else can I go for the culture -- and people -- kick that I need from here? For now though, the positives of being here are outweighed by the negatives, and so many aspects of the city has curdled for me. So I’m out!

I haven’t seen Netflix's Bojack Horseman yet, but I am newly in love with its co-creator, Lisa Hanawalt. I saw her XOXO talk about creative paralysis and she’s just perfection. And just by coincidence, I came across her Lucky Peach article about leaving New York in 2015, which I’ll link to below.

I didn’t realize Hanawalt was part of Pizza Island, an all-female cartoonists’ collective in Greenpoint that shut down in 2012. I mostly followed Julia Wertz and Sarah Glidden from the Island but I’m thinking I should start following all of them. And heck, Wertz is also leaving New York, or just left, rather. While I’m a merely a fan of Wertz, it seems to say something that she too is leaving the city. When the cartoonists go, I go! Sidenote: I wonder if it's too late to start learning how to draw, I feel like there is a cartoon strip in me. And I have just the topic and name for it! Shhhhh.

Before I leave, I’m wrapping up with Sleep No More mid-week, along with a just finished amazing meal at my friend Pam’s restaurant -- now Michelin starred!!! And maybe I’ll sneak in a bike ride across one of the bridges if I can swing it, since I haven’t done that yet this trip. Play the hits that still hit, as it were.

This was my second visit to Semilla, and it was even better than the last. Pam’s bread and desserts are out of control. Tonight’s rye and potato sourdough bread with Cowbella butter was perfection. Here’s a bunch of links from this 2014 post I did about Semilla, just before Pam and Jose opened shop, lest I re-inundate you with their much deserved praise and acclaim. Also, the Cowbella butter was served with this ridiculously chubby knife that I must get my hands on. Pam revealed it was simply a Crate & Barrel purchase but I can't seem to find it online. Please help me shopping elves, I neeeeed this dull and stout knife in my life!

Ooooh, also, I’m here to plug Mian Tian Sing Hair Salon, which would be my new go-to if I was sticking around. Brandon, my Taiwan school mate, found this place and it’s both cheap and great. For $18 you get a head/shoulder massage and the best (Asian hair) haircut around. I was caught in the torrential downpour of Monday, but managed to sneak my way to Mian Tian Sing under cover of a newly purchased umbrella. Was a great haircut worth getting drenched for? You betcha! Alert: No Pikachu showed up during the thunderstorm, as rumored...

And speaking of Chinatown, I went to Wing On Wo & Co. last Tuesday for a panel discussion co-organized by a friend. Wing On Wo & Co. is the oldest store in Chinatown and it sells various porcelains and antiques. Choosing to forgo graduate school, twenty-five year old Mei Lum took over the family business, preserving it and also expanding its scope by organizing a summer series of talks about the changing face of Chinatown.

I went to the second event, which was a loose panel about the encroachment of (non-Chinese) art galleries in Chinatown. Things got heated pretty quickly, with lots of rising emotions, accusations, explanations, tensions, and even some tears spilled. There's a livestream of the event up on their Facebook page, but beware because the audio is very low. Regardless of outcome, these conversations are the beginning of something and need to happen for the community as Chinatown organizes and struggles with many issues surrounding its increasing gentrification. As one audience member pointed out, he visited DC's Chinatown awhile ago and was saddened/shocked by how it was basically a Chinatown in name (and signage) only.

19 July 2016

The New Normal

Hey guess what? New York is hot. Like finally tank top weather — which I’ve been waiting for — but now that it’s arrived, it’s just making me dread going outside.

But venture forth I must, as my New York time dwindles to a close. In two more weeks I’m basically out of here, so it’s time to jam in as much as I can. First, there was Dhonielle and Sona’s book launch for their follow up to Tiny Pretty Things, which is called Shiny Broken Pieces. Instead of a traditional launch, they threw together an entire panel of ballet in YA themed authors. Note, the correct answer for best ballet movie is clearly Centerstage, and nothing else compares.

On Wednesday, went to Union Docs in Williamsburg for a showing of The New Black, Yoruba Richen’s 2013 documentary about the LBGT African-American community and their work to get marriage equality passed in Maryland.

Actually, speaking of movies, I’ve seen just a handful recently, and of all of them, the only one I can wholly recommend is Love & Friendship, Whit Stillman’s take on a Jane Austen novella. Kate Beckinsale is perfect in it, as a manipulative and scheming widow. Doesn’t this summer block of movies feel especially crappy? I have half a mind to watch The Neon Demon, but scarred by Only God Forgives, I’m hesitant to give Nicolas Winding Refn another chance. And aside from that, nothing is drawing me to the theater except as a respite from the heat.

So let’s talk books! I caught the tail end of Ted Chiang’s talk at AAWW, and he brought up this article, “The Strange Case of the Woman Who Couldn’t Remember Her Past — And Can’t Imagine Her Future.” It’s about a woman who leads a perfectly normal life, despite the fact that she has no episodic memory. Basically it means she lives perpetually in the present, with no access to previous memories or experiences. The article is great and well worth a read.

Also, if you don’t know Ted Chiang, he’s basically the Galactus of the scifi world, having won literally every award for his writing. And he so happens to be Chinese American, which is an important, if not defining, fact. Actually there are quite a few Asian American writers who have been dominating scifi, and I’ve been trying to get caught up on all their works. Ken Liu, you're next!

And I’ve recently been working through Shawna Yang Ryan’s Green Island, which is a fictionalized version of the White Terror era in Taiwan, from 1947 through 1987, when martial law was in effect. Having recently visited Green Island, to see the prisons where dissidents were incarcerated, the book holds special interest for me. And what Yang Ryan has done is pretty unprecedented, in taking a period of Taiwanese history that is often overlooked, and creating a compelling novel for English reading audiences.

Then there's Detention, an upcoming game from Taiwan-based indie developer Red Candle Games. Detention is also set during Taiwan's martial law period, and is a survival horror game with fantasy elements. "Detention draws on local Taiwanese cultural references to tell a unique and terrifying story." Check out the game trailer and I think Detention should be available via Steam soon enough.

Also, recently read Eddie Huang's second book, Double Cup Love, which was a decent follow-up, if you like to continue on his adventures, but mostly I'd only recommend it only to Huang completists. What I would recommend for all is his Huang's World Orlando episode, in which Eddie returns home for Lunar New Year to hang with his family. They cook up a storm, and Eddie's mom is the unquestioned star of the show.

Despite saying I never travel to beaches, I found myself riding two hours out of Manhattan to Fire Island last weekend. My friend got a car -- to have something to put in her car port -- and she's been trying to make out-of-town trips with it. I was commissioned to be the night driver and so I went. Getting to Fire Island is a bit of a trek, but it involves a ferry, which is always fun. And once there, I promptly napped the afternoon away before we had a super amazing seafood dinner by the ocean as the rain poured down over the roof. Summer 2016: Keep it beachy!