If you follow this blog, you may know I’m an avid follower of Charlie Rose and appreciate his more in-depth television interviews. I recently came across this one with Danny Bowien, chef and co-founder of the restaurants Mission Chinese Food and Mission Cantina. His new book is called “The Mission Chinese Food Cookbook.”
Living in the San Francisco Bay Area, I was surprised to have never heard of Mission Chinese Food. What I found interesting was that Bowien is a Korean American that was raised by white parents in Oklahoma, but was interested in Chinese food. He’s just published this past fall a new cook book – The Mission Chinese Food Cookbook.
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Dr. Ken, Season 1, Episode 16: “Meeting Molly’s Boyfriend”
Original airdate February 26, 2016.
Symptoms: When Molly introduces her new boyfriend to Ken and Allison, Allison is confronted with a confidentiality issue: the new boyfriend is the son of one of her patients. This is especially stressful because the patient unknowingly reveals to her that the boyfriend is cheating on Molly. In the Welltopia office, Pat tries to cozy up to Damona, Julie, and Clark in the hopes of receiving positive evaluations from them.
Diagnosis: There’s a lot to like here: We get a scene with Allison in her office; we learn a little more about Dave (he’s left-handed); this week it’s good Molly instead of bad Molly; Ken and Allison demonstrate reasonably liberal attitudes about Molly’s dating life; there’s funny, same-level conversation between Ken and Pat; and Pat comes across as socially clueless rather than just bizarre and cartoonish. I’m going to ignore the lucha libre tag (I’m generally of the opinion that anything goes in the sitcom tag), applaud the continued believability of the regular presence of alcohol in the Park household, and enjoy the family dynamics in dealing with a new boyfriend, which stay mostly away from over-protective caricature and parental shorthand (which I’ve seen a bit too much of lately). The director and actors need to be scolded for complete ignorance in how the game of Risk is played, but it’s a quick transgression in what is otherwise a fun episode.
Prognosis: I’ve heard a lot of speculation about what Molly’s boyfriends would be like, if we ever got introduced to them, and I honestly have no opinion about this. Does it mean something that her boyfriend appears to be at least part Asian, and not full-on Caucasian? Would it have meant something if he’d been some other ethnicity? There’s a temptation, because of the cultural significance of Dr. Ken‘s existence, to overthink details like this. Details do matter a lot, and each is a decision toward creating the art of a television program. Still, can this boy just be a guy Molly likes, without outside-the-fourth-wall context? I say yes, although I’m open to other opinions.
Rx: This is a good episode for character development. Both plots serve characterization, with reasonable advancement based on character and not on gags. There’s some good comedy here among some of the usual just-for-laughs stuff, and I feel myself growing fonder of the program and its regulars. Even Pat.
Check out this week’s Post Show and Tell, in which Joz Wang interviews Suzy Nakamura and Albert Tsai about “Meeting Molly’s Boyfriend, right on the set of Dr. Ken.
I caught this TV commercial the week of Lunar New Year and was wondering if this TD Ameritrade commercial was purposely released – probably, considering the YouTube upload date was February 8th, New Year’s Day:
“Your grandkids are full of surprises. We want to help you invest in being the best grandparents: TD Ameritrade believes that the best returns aren’t just measured in dollars: http://bit.ly/20jYTrb“
I liked it because it showed grandparents taking care of their grandson and watching fireworks – I’m assuming for the New Year, but not necessarily focused on the New Year, making it also timely to air for other holidays, like July 4th, etc.
Fresh Off the Boat, Season 2, Episode 14: “Michael Chang Fever”
Original airdate February 23, 2016.
Microsynopsis: Inspired by the tennis success of Michael Chang, Emery takes up the sport, with the enthusiastic support of his parents. He’s declared “a natural” by Billie Jean King, and Jessica envisions future wealth while Louis sees a catalyst for father-son bonding. Because of his new status as a possibly elite athlete, Emery is moved into Eddie’s bedroom, forcing Eddie to share a bunk with Evan. Eddie discovers that someone might be bullying Evan for POGs, so he and his friends take action.
Good: The best thing about this episode is the introduction of new dynamics. It’s really our first Eddie-Evan episode and our first Emery-and-parents episode, so we get a chance to see these characters in new ways. I was in college when Michael Chang won the French Open (his only Grand Slam title) in 1989, and I remember very well how smitten my friends and I were. This episode is set in 1996, at the tail end of his upper-tier career, so it seems weird that the family is only now getting inspired by him, but whatever. If the timing seems off, the sentiment is pretty much exactly as I recall. The Eddie-Evan story is cute, and the joke where Eddie thinks his math homework is much too difficult before realizing he’s picked up Evan’s stuff is really funny.
Bad: …but I get the feeling that Evan hasn’t been well conceived, because this pyscho-ish Evan feels like a bad note. I’m not sure I have a good grip on who he is, but my image of him wasn’t this. Also bad: in less than a year, the Huangs have met Shaquille O’Neal, DMX, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Billie Jean King, and Scottie Pippin. Really?
FOB moment: When Emery gets a perm to match the hairstyle of his new tennis coach, Jessica exclaims that it’s a “success perm.” Also, a call-back to the fourth episode of season one.
Soundtrack flashback: “The Power” by Snap! (1990). “Regulate” by Warren G. and Nate Dogg.
Final grade, this episode: It’s a mixed bag with a good setup but strange execution. I love Eddie, Jessica, and Emery in this (and it’s nice to see Grandma again after a two-episode absence), but Evan’s weird, Billie Jean King is a huge gimmick, and just when I was beginning to like Eddie’s friends (Trent has come on strong in recent episodes), we get the return of the costume from The Mask. Ugh. C+.
I’ve always seen myself as a Tiger dad. I know saying that has a lot of negative connotations. But I have big dreams for my toddler. First, he’s going to get into Harvard, then either make the NBA or play Major League Baseball, whichever pays him more. After a hall of fame career, he’ll transition into politics where he’ll be the first Asian American president.
That’s why when the book “Beyond the Tiger Mom” by Maya Thiagarajan was up for review, I jumped at the chance. I figured it’d be good for me to learn some tricks to help my toddler to do all that I have planned for him.
“Beyond the Tiger Mom” compares Eastern and Western approaches to parenting, education, and family values. It wasn’t surprising that the East values math, while the West values reading. The East is all about memorization, exams, tutors, and all things that involve working hard—even to the point of having little to no free time. And how the West is the complete opposite—pushing independence and critical thinking . The author sums up the difference in this very insightful paragraph:
“Over my years of working both in the West and in the East, I’ve come to see one major cultural difference between Eastern and Western cultures that permeates education systems and child-rearing philosophies. With their emphasis on filial piety, family loyalty, respect for elders, ad veneration of education and knowledge, Eastern cultures tend to encourage children to be reverent. Children are raised to be obedient and to treat family and education as sacred. In contract, with their emphasis on questioning existing knowledge and exploring the unknown, Western cultures tend to encourage a culture of skepticism. Children are raised to ask questions, to challenge norms, and to be skeptical of existing knowledge, institutions and authority figures.”
What was most surprising to me as I read this book was that it reminded me how American I am. Being an ethnic minority in America it sometimes feels like I have one foot in America and the other in the country of my ancestors. But this book reminded me how false a belief this is. The better analogy would be that the tips of my right toes are in Asia but that the rest of my feet are in America.
Ever since the 1st Fred Korematsu Day Celebration in the San Francisco Bay Area back in 2011, I think I have attended every Celebration. This January 2016 was no different. And given GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump’s rhetoric on banning muslims and Roanoke,Virginia Mayor David Bowers citing favorably Japanese internment camps and for the halt of Syrian refugees after the December San Bernardino attack, Fred Korematsu Day is more relevant than ever.
The event was held at Herbst Theatre, which I recall the last Celebration held there was back in 2013 with actor Danny Glover as the guest of honor. Last year, actor & activist George Takei was the guest of honor.
Dr. Ken, Season 1, Episode 15: “The Wedding Sitter”
Original airdate February 19, 2016.
Symptoms: Ken and Suzy are invited to a Welltopia doctor’s wedding. Suzy is reluctant to go, supposedly because she doesn’t care for weddings, but what she really doesn’t care for is Ken’s dancing at weddings: he’s a “selfish dancer.” Molly is pressed into sitting duty when Dave’s sitter has to cancel at the last minute. Molly has other plans, so without telling her parents, she hires a substitute sitter. Dave also has other plans, so he hires a fill-in (Fresh off the Boat‘s Ian Chen) for him, figuring the substitute sitter won’t know the difference. The Welltopia crew is invited to the same wedding, but Clark, Julie, and Damona show up at the wrong wedding, where Clark meets someone who sparks his interest.
Diagnosis: I need to disclose that almost all dancing leaves me flat, so just about any story that features a lot of dancing is going to do likewise. The Clark plot is cute (guy’s got serious game), and I laughed aloud (both times) at the Julie yelling gag. It’s rare nowadays that such a simple gag surprises me so completely, but this one does, and I can’t think of a time when I’ve seen it before. Molly and Dave accidentally in cahoots at the end works really well.
Prognosis: Clark gets some good character development, and it’s always good to see the Welltopia group socializing outside the office. I’m still finding the plots generally not worthy of the characters. Perhaps this week it’s due to my bias against dancing humor, something that may not be anyone’s fault but my own. Still, although I didn’t find the story very amusing or entertaining, I enjoyed spending time with the characters, and any show that aspires to longevity needs to develop good characters, which Dr.Ken has lately been doing.
Rx: I think it’s time for an Allison-centered plot, maybe one whose action takes place mostly away from her family. Her character is one of the best-developed in the show, but we see her only as wife and mom. And I really want to see more development of the friendship among Clark, Damona, and Julie.
In this week’s Post Show and Tell, Joz Wang interviews Suzy Nakamura, Albert Tsai, and Ian Chen (of Fresh off the Boat) from the Dr. Ken Welltopia set. Suzy says Allison’s pendants M and D are for “Molly” and “Dave,” but I’m pretty sure they’re a secret acknowledegment of the actress’s admiration of a certain 8Asians contributor.
I caught this recent Farmers Insurance commercial the other day:
“At Farmers, we’ve seen almost everything, so we know how to cover almost anything. Even a band of vigilante turkeys enacting their revenge. Talk to Farmers today about the auto insurance plan to keep you safe on the road, even turkey-covered roads. http://Farmers.com/hallofclaims “
I’m a bit disappointed that the Asian American man in the commercial didn’t have any speaking parts. After a closer look, I think I’ve seen him before in another commercial – in a CVS commercial where he is playing a pharmacist, where again, he is not speaking at all. I’m guessing this guy is new to Hollywood and just starting to do commercials?
On February 11, a jury found NYPD Officer Peter Liang guilty of second degree manslaughter in the death of Akai Gurley. Liang discharged his gun in a stairwell during a patrol, and the ricocheting bullet killed the unarmed Gurley, who was visiting the housing project to get his hair done. Liang and his partner Shaun Landau did not administer CPR, and prosecutors say that he and his partner did not call in the shot to supervisors. Liang said that he did not feel qualified to perform CPR on Gurley because he was given the answers to the CPR exam at the Policy Academy and had never practiced before. NBC News reports that the conviction has the Asian Americans divided.
Fresh Off the Boat, Season 2, Episode 13: “Phil’s Phaves”
Original airdate February 16, 2016.
Microsynopsis: Louis brings home his family’s first “Internet computer,” and thanks to Evan’s proficiency, the family immediately discovers a website that’s given Cattleman’s Ranch a B-minus grade. Horrified, Louis and Jessica invite the critic to give them another try. When he shows up for his reservation, the Huangs discover that the Phil of “Phil’s Phaves” is Philip Goldstein (Albert Tsai), the other Asian kid in school, who once ditched Eddie at a Beastie Boys concert. Phil refuses to raise his grade, so Jessica enlists Evan’s help in creating a revenge website.
Eddie makes a mixtape for Alison because he’s uncomfortable with the idea of chatting with her on the phone, but the mixtape falls into the hands of Reba, who has an unabashed crush on Eddie and thinks the mixtape is meant for her.
Good: I usually roll my eyes at stories that make fun of the early days of the Web (it’s just too easy), but some of the jokes are pretty funny. Louis and Jessica are in their us-against-the-enemy mode, which is always entertaining. Eddie and Alison are turning into a fun part of the show, but the real treats for me are Eddie’s scenes with Emery and one scene with Nicole, who’s been absent for several episodes. I’ve been very critical of the way teachers and administrators at Eddie’s school have been portrayed, so it was nice to see a fairly-close-to-realistic biology teacher. And props to the writers for not letting Eddie be mean to Reba.
Bad: Philip Goldstein is one of the worst characters from the early episodes, and while Albert Tsai has won me over as Dave Park on Dr. Ken, I still can’t stand him as this character. And although the Phil’s Phaves story is a good idea, the way it plays out, after the initial website discovery scenes, is kind of a yawn.
“Uh oh. They give out letter grades to all the restaurants.”
“Dad’s got a — ”
“That’s a Chinese F!”
Soundtrack flashback: “Summertime in the LBC” by the Dove Shack (1995). “Weak” by SWV (1992, sung by Reba). “Moody Girl” by Frank Stallone (1983, and I kid you not). “I Ain’t Mad at Cha” by Tupac (1996). “Sadeness, Part 1” by Enigma (1990).
Final grade, this episode: There’s very little to be annoyed about, but the main storyline just doesn’t pay off well, except that for once Jessica doesn’t get away with being mean. The Eddie-Alison story is sweet, and it’s fun to watch them get to be friends as well as their version of boyfriend-girlfriend. B.
Smart People, now at 2econd Stage Theatre in New York, takes an incisive look at the role race plays in our lives, from career to personal, and particularly when the two mesh. Written by Lydia Diamond and starring Mahershala Ali (House of Cards), Joshua Jackson (The Affair, Dawson’s Creek), Anne Son (My Generation), and Tessa Thompson (Creed, Dear White People), Smart People is a fast-paced, invigorating play.
Four Harvard intellectuals see their worlds collide as they deal with careers, love, and identity. Underpinning it all–the successes and failures–is the influence of race. How does it shape daily interactions? From microaggressions to blunt statements, Smart People strikes at who and what is “racist.” What is tolerable and what is not.
While none of the statements, jokes, and snappy comments made about race were particularly new and cutting, that is perhaps their beauty. To see these uncomfortable conversations play out on stage, for stereotypes to be made and broken, broken and re-made, is unspeakably valuable. It is largely artful, excepting some inevitable stumbles. Interracial relationships of all types abound (or as many as you can make with four characters). Specific lines — “I’m uncomfortable celebrating my marginalization with other disgruntled minorities,” for one — cut through. In the hands of an enormously talented cast, Smart People shines.
More and special offer code after the jump–
Earlier in January, former Golden State Warrior and now current Charlotte Hornet Jeremy Lin returned to the Bay Area to play against his former team. Whenever Lin is in town (no relation to me), I always try to get a press pass vis-a-vis my blogging for 8Asians to catch him play, as well as see the awesome Golden State Warriors. This time around, Lin was still kind of recovering from an injury:
“Former Palo Alto High standout Jeremy Lin was back in the Bay Area on Monday night and witnessed some history. Unfortunately for Lin, it wasn’t about his NBA Charlotte Hornets. While Lin started and scored 13 points with three rebounds, it was the host Golden State Warriors grabbing the headlines once again as they posted a 111-101 victory for its 35th straight victory at home.
Lin had been listed questionable for the game with tightness in his lower back. He did play 34 minutes on Saturday, but had missed the two previous games with a sprained right ankle. Nonetheless, he was on the floor Monday night at Oracle Arena to face the team that he’d started his NBA career with.”
After the game was over, I was able to make it to the post-game locker room interview. Lin briefly took questions from the press, but he was fairly soft spoken and the locker room was a bit noisy. One question I did hear from a Chinese reporter from NetEase was what his mother thought of his current hair style (spiked), and Lin answered that his mother wasn’t too happy about it:
This is Lin’s first season with the Hornets, but he’s apparently making a bigger difference with a lower profile team when he was playing for the Los Angeles Lakers:
“So far this season, Lin has started six games for the Charlotte Hornets and has played 38 of 40 games so far this year. He is a dependable scoring option off of the bench for the team and a player that can create shots for others as well.
This season for the Charlotte Hornets, Jeremy Lin is averaging 12.3 points per game, which is good enough for fourth most on the team, to go along with 3.o assists per game, and 3.2 rebounds per game in 26.4 minutes per game this year.
He is shooting 42.3% from the field, 30.6% from three, and 77.8% from the free throw line this season. Lin’s defense has been a nice surprise for the team this season as he has a 99.1 defense rating on the year which is good enough for fourth best on the Charlotte Hornets.”
When Lin joined the NBA, I think he was just glad to be in the league playing. When Lin started for the Knicks and the whole Linsanity thing happened, expectations for Lin were kind of blown out of proportion. It seems like Lin has finally found a team where he is valued and where he can contribute.
Photos & video courtesy of 8Asians.