8 Asians

Inspired by frightening favorites like The Twilight Zone, the first animated series about Filipino horror folklore, Umbra will feature creatures and monsters from traditional Filipino folklore retold in the modern-day Philippines. The series includes stories about a flesh-eating, shape-shifting monster; the lost soul of a dead bride looking for a new husband to join her in death; and the conquest to destroy a murderous mermaid.

I’m not into horror, but I’m down for anything bringing Filipino culture into the mainstream, and the animation looks promising. Umbra premieres Wednesday, October 11 at 8:00 Eastern on Myx TV. New back-to-back episodes air every Wednesday, with episodes available for streaming online the next day at www.myxtv.com.

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My First Book of Vietnamese Words: An ABC Rhyming Book of Vietnamese Language and Culture, the latest addition to Tuttle’s My First Book of [fill in blank] Words series came out recently. It is written by Tran Thi Minh Phuoc, and artfully illustrated by Nguyen Thi Hop and Nguyen Dong. The book guides visitors through the English alphabet with short rhymes and some contextual information:

C is for Cu.

The owl flies at night,

but when he hoots our grandma says

that something isn’t right

A contextual note on the same page explains that an owl’s hoot in Vietnamese culture is bad luck or bad news.

With minimal existing knowledge of Vietnamese, I requested to also take a look at My First Book of Chinese Words to compare. Both are nicely illustrated and take readers through each letter of the alphabet explaining, for instance, that V is for violin, or xiaotiqin, because there is no “v” in Chinese (this being Mandarin Chinese of course).

My main critique of both was that though there is audio pronunciations available through the publisher’s website, the minimal explanation at the opening of each book does not adequately set anyone up to really pronounce these foreign words. Are the books for children whose parents speak the language? Perhaps, but I would guess this is not the main audience. The most useful aspect of these volumes is buried in the subtitle–an introduction to the cultures associated with these language, be it Chinese or Vietnamese. Superstitions and festivities, family relationships, and of course, food culture are liberally sprinkled throughout, and it is there that these books offer the most to their young readers.

Fresh Off the Boat, Season 4, Episode 1: “B as in Best Friends”
Season 4 premiere airs tonight, October 3, 2017 on ABC.

Synopsis:  (deep breath) The Huangs have moved out of the new home they decided they don’t like.  They’re homeless because their former landlord has already leased their old place to a guy played by Chris Elliott.  Honey and Marvin invite them to stay over as long as they’d like until they get the housing situation resolved, but Jessica and her family are terrible houseguests.  Eddie’s friends haven’t forgiven him for calling them losers, so he hangs out with Nicole, his former crush who has a new car.  Emery and his father build a birdhouse.  Evan, committed to the reading list of the private school he’s been unadmitted to, turns his nose up at Nicole’s old books, a collection of The Babysitter’s Club.  Jessica and Honey compete on Wheel of Fortune.

Dope: It’s a genuine pleasure to have the Huangs back, and maybe it’s not fair to put extra weight on their return because Dr. Ken didn’t make the cut, but there it is.  They are back to being the only Asian-American sitcom on broadcast television.  I need them to be good.

I can’t explain it, but two little visual details really cracked me up.  A Dolly Parton photo in an unexpected (yet not surprising) place, and a tiny welcome mat.  They bode well for a show whose visual gags have usually been good.  And it’s great to have Nicole back.  She and Eddie have always been good together.

Whack:  I’m not backing down from my distaste for celebrity cameos, although I can sorta look the other way on Pat Sajak and Vanna White, who are pretty funny.  There’s another cameo I really dislike.

Also, Evan continues to be a little prick sometimes.  This is not an Evan I like.

The episode is all over the freaking place, but it’s okay.  It’s like that first day of school in eleventh grade.  You’re so busy running around making sure to say hi to everyone that you don’t have any real quality time with anyone except the hot Asian girl who can’t stand you.  But I showed her.  I took her best friend to the prom.

FOB moment:  Can’t type it without spoiling a moment, but it’s what Jessica says to Honey when Honey finally calls her out on her awful behavior.  Also, there’s a callback to the dishwasher episode.

Soundtrack flashback: Awwwwww yeeeeeah boyeeeee!  “Don’t Sweat the Technique” by Erik B. & Rakim (1992).  I seriously love this song.  Also a little snippet of the Michael Bolton cover of “Lean on Me” (1993).  I was less thrilled to hear that.

Final grade, this episode: You can’t get a high grade on the first day of school, or you’ll expect good marks for mediocre work all year.  Let’s grade this like summer homework: credit for doing it but no letter grade.  I’m just happy to see the Huangs again.  Really, though: you’ll want to see this one.  I’m leaving out something rather unexpected, so check it out and let me know what you think.  CREDIT for completion.

I’m a big fan of Korean BBQ, so when I saw this Korean Style Beef Short Ribs (20 OZ) at Trader Joe’s for $9.99, I knew I had to try them out:

“Here’s a quick dinner idea we think will really excite you! Trader Joe’s Korean Style Beef Short Ribs. It’s a simple entrée, really — lean beef short ribs marinated in a slightly sweet, soy-based marinade. That’s it. Exciting, right? The genius is really in the preparation, and that’s where you come in. In about 15 minutes (if you count the time it takes to thaw the meat), these simple Short Ribs cook to utter perfection — just pop them on a grill — or grill pan on the stovetop — at medium-high heat, cook for a couple of minutes on each side and, you’re done. See? Genius! We’re selling Korean Style Beef Short Ribs in a 20 ounce package — in our freezers — for $9.99, every day.”

Per instructions, I did defrost the frozen ribs in the bag in tap water for about 10 to 15 minutes. Afterwards, I put the six ribs in the frying pan and fried for about 3 minutes on each side:

I’d say they tasted pretty good for the amount of effort I had to put in. Obviously, the beef short ribs are not going to taste as great as fresh ribs BBQ infront of  you at a Korean restaurant, but I have to say, this is a pretty good dish and deal. There are Korean grocery stores about 8 miles from where I live, but a Trader Joe’s less than a mile from me. The fact that I like frozen foods since I’m afraid of anything spoiling … this is definitely another frozen food I will buy again and again.