Monday, November 26, 2018

I'm back, with Tupperware

I haven’t written here in awhile. And maybe doing a giveaway isn’t the best way to re-enter the world of blogging. But maybe it is, revisiting one of the early activities in this space. Sure it was a device to get eyes on your page, but more importantly a way to connect with others outside of the blogging community and share a product or event with them. Sometimes it even led to meeting someone in real life that you’d only known online. Let's face it – maybe people just like free stuff.

But enough of this sappy reminiscing, I’m here to giveaway tickets to a show that I’ve been wanting to see for so many years, Dixie’s Tupperware Party. If you love live theater, comedy and Tupperware this is the show for you. And who doesn’t love Tupperware? Even though it’s scientific fact that we’ve all spent 7.5 years of our lives trying to find the lid that matches the container, they’re still just fantastic for storing leftovers. Am I right?

I was so excited when I was offered tickets to attend that they offered me tickets to give away to someone else, too. Leave a comment below about how unbelievably excited you are to see this show and I’ll pick a winner at random tomorrow, Tuesday November 27. I know it’s short notice because the tickets are for this Thursday’s performance, November 29 at 8pm. But maybe it’ll give you just enough time to organize your Tupperware drawer.

What: 4 tickets to Dixie’s Tupperware Party for Thursday, November 29 @ 8pm at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City.

How: Leave a comment here or on my Facebook link no later than 5pm on Tuesday, November 27. I'll use to draw a winner from the entries. One comment per person. Please don't forget to leave a valid email address.

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Friday, May 26, 2017

Aren’t We All ‘Next To Normal’?

What is ‘normal’? And are others allowed to answer that for us, or is it up to us to determine what ‘normal’ feels like in our own skin?

It’s a question I thought about after seeing East West Players’ production of ‘Next To Normal’ last week. The Tony-and Pulitzer Prize winning musical centers around a suburban family struggling to find some sense of order in the midst of illness and grief. Diana (Deedee Magno Hall), a mother with bipolar disorder, agonizes over the havoc and stress her illness puts on her marriage and family. Her husband Dan (Cliffton Hall), while trying to help his wife, is having a hard time confronting his own depression and an unfathomable loss. Their overachieving daughter Natalie (Isa Briones) tries to cope with her mother’s unpredictability and while shielding her boyfriend Henry (Scott Keiji Takeda) from her family that is not quite ‘normal.’ And in the midst of it all is son Gabe (Justin W. Yu), who we discover is the source of all their heartbreak.

We see Diana’s journey through treatment and medications that others hoist on her to make her ‘well,’ but at the same time are making her feel numb and joyless. (Yes, it will definitely punch you in the gut at times. Bring tissues.) While there are heavy issues that seem even more intense because of the intimate staging of the production, there is also a theme of resilience and hope that carries throughout the story.

From the production:
Next to Normal — music by Tom Kitt, and book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey — tells the story of the seemingly perfect Goodman family. However, Diana, the mother, is a little too happy. Her husband Dan constantly worries. Her daughter Natalie is awfully intent on getting that scholarship to Yale. And her son Gabe, well… This Tony Award- and Pulitzer Prize- winning rock musical is a heartbreaking, humorous, and unflinchingly authentic look at a suburban family struggling with the effects of bipolar disorder.
Being a parent and a spouse, I found Diana’s focus so relatable — the overwhelming desire to keep her family and her marriage functioning, while at the same time tending to her own needs. Hers is a universal struggle: How do we tend to those we love, when our own well runs dry? While theirs is a unique story, it also alludes to the dysfunction and dissonance that exists in the dark undercurrent of so much of what is perceived as normal suburban life.

‘Next to Normal’ will not only move you with its message, uplift you with its music and make you laugh with its wry humor — it will also give you a fearless, raw view into the world of mental illness and its sometimes controversial treatments. It may also leave you wondering what ‘normal’ is, and ultimately what that means to each of us.

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The timing of this particular production was significant: May is Asian Pacific American Month (EWP is and the largest producing organization of Asian American artistic work) and this month is also Mental Health Awareness month, which tied in with the show’s themes of mental illness, loss and suicide. Focusing on the theme of mental illness is particularly significant with this production, considering the stigma surrounding mental illness in Asian American culture — Asian-Americans are three times less likely to seek mental health services than whites. Additionally, among Asian-American women who witness depression in their families, many stay silent due to cultural pressure and because they fear the stigma for their families even more so than for themselves.

Kudos to East West Players for their dedication and perseverance in supporting these productions that give Asian-American actors, artists and writers a place to be seen and heard, and for shining a light on issues that affect our community.

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Next To Normal” is playing through June 11, 2017

Buy tickets here.

David Henry Hwang Theaterat the Union Center for the Arts
(Little Tokyo, downtown L.A.)
120 Judge John Aiso Street,
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 625–7000

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Wednesday, June 01, 2016

I'm going to see Sandra Tsing Loh's 'The Madwoman In The Volvo' and you can, too

I was at Target recently and did the unthinkable – I bought the really expensive moisturizer and the shampoo that wasn't on sale. Who cares if the rest of my cart was filled with bread from the clearance shelf and cheap toilet paper - I was going to have soft, supple skin and caressable hair! I'm thinking it might be part of my mid-life crisis – giving in to my vain beauty needs while everything else takes a back seat. Next thing you know, the kids will have to go without milk for their cereal because I'll be using it to soak the callouses off my feet.

And speaking of mid-life crises, I'm really excited to see my favorite author/performer/public school mom Sandra Tsing Loh in 'The Madwoman In The Volvo' – the stage production of her best-selling memoir that hilariously takes us through her mid-life crisis that is fueled, among other things, by a random trip to Burning Man. Loh, who identifies herself as someone who is from the “Triple M Generation—menopausal, middle-aged and a mother," is so relatable and so fantastic live (I saw her years ago when she performed 'Mother On Fire') and I can't wait to see her again. Maybe I'll get to meet her after the show and let her touch my luxurious hair.

And you can see her, too. I'm giving away a 'Girls Night Out' prize package of 4 tickets to one of her shows during its run at the Pasadena Playhouse from June 2-26. See details below to enter. Self-indulgent shopping spree for beauty products at Target not included.

Here are the details:

What: 'Girls Night Out' prize package of 4 tickets to 'Madwoman In The Volvo' at the Pasadena Playhouse The winner can provide 3 performance dates of choice excluding Saturday and Sunday matinees (subject to availability.)

How: Leave a comment here no later than 11:30pm Friday night (June 3) telling me about your mid-life (or if you're too young to have one yet, tell me about your parents or someone else old.) . I'll use to draw a winner from the entries. One comment per person, but you can share on Facebook or Twitter for additional entries.

Or, if you don't win or don't care to enter, you can use the special code MOM25 for 25% off seats, excluding HOT SEATS and Sunday June 5, and buy tickets here.

Please don't forget to leave a valid email address.

The Pasadena Playhouse
39 South El Molino Street, Pasadena

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Friday, August 28, 2015

Shopping for back-to-school supplies is likely to ruin your day

I'm not saying standing in an office supply store line with a hundred other cranky parents for forty-five minutes to spend an entire paycheck on a stapler isn't fun. But there are smarter solutions that don't make you want to stab someone with a ballpoint pen.

This year, we bought all of our school supplies (everything you see in this photo) for under $20. Look, if being a cheapskate is wrong, I don't want to be right.

 You can read about how we did it by clicking over here.

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Friday, August 14, 2015

Go see INSIDE OUT at the El Capitan Theatre and unlock the secrets to your teen's brain

You may have seen me mention this on Facebook, but for those of you who haven't seen INSIDE OUT, go see it now. Better yet, go see it now, at the El Capitan Theatre. You'll be filled with joy and not sadness, fear, anger or disgust. (If that last sentence makes no sense to you, you need to go see the movie to see what I'm talking about.) Another thing is, this movie is like having a peek inside your teenager's brain. Sure it's kind of scary in there, but in the end it all makes sense.

To be honest, I was kind of done with animated films. After years and years of seeing them, once my girls got older it was kind of a relief not to have to run out and see the latest kids movie matinee – now movie night is the four of us heading out to see an R-rated flick, which is fine by me. But I'd heard so many great things about INSIDE OUT and since the main character is a tween who is a bundle of emotions and giving her parents a run for their money, I thought it would be like seeing a documentary of my life and I was right.

From Pixar:
Do you ever look at someone and wonder what is going on inside their head? Disney•Pixar’s original new film “Inside Out” ventures inside the mind to find out.

Based in Headquarters, the control center inside 11-year-old Riley’s mind, five Emotions are hard at work, led by lighthearted optimist Joy (voice of Amy Poehler), whose mission is to make sure Riley stays happy. Fear (voice of Bill Hader) heads up safety, Anger (voice of Lewis Black) ensures all is fair and Disgust (voice of Mindy Kaling) prevents Riley from getting poisoned—both physically and socially. Sadness (voice of Phyllis Smith) isn’t exactly sure what her role is, and frankly, neither is anyone else.

When Riley's family relocates to a scary new city, the Emotions are on the job, eager to help guide her through the difficult transition. But when Joy and Sadness are inadvertently swept into the far reaches of Riley’s mind—taking some of her core memories with them—Fear, Anger and Disgust are left reluctantly in charge. Joy and Sadness must venture through unfamiliar places—Long Term Memory, Imagination Land, Abstract Thought and Dream Productions—in a desperate effort to get back to Headquarters, and Riley.
Also, the only place you should see INSIDE OUT is at the El Capitan Theatre – they have a spectacular stage show called "Music of Light" that uses brand-new 3D technology that allows the live performers to interact with a 3D background. Seriously, the kid sitting next to me dropped his popcorn because he thought something was coming at him out of the screen. (Poor thing. I gave him some of mine.) Check it out:

INSIDE OUT will only be playing at the El Capitan through August 19, and is your only chance to experience "Music of Light" so hurry up and get your tickets here. They also have some other fun activities offered along with the movie, like this Dave & Busters combo. Do they know the inside of a teen's brain or what?

INSIDE OUT is playing at the El Capitan Theatre through August 19. You can buy tickets on their website or call 1-800-DISNEY6.
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Saturday, July 11, 2015

Meanwhile, back at the ranch

Hello, blog are you there? It's me Marsha. I haven't been here for awhile, since I'm busy writing stories about teens over at I promise to get back here soon and tidy things up, but until then please visit me over there for riveting stories about teen angst, parties, tattoos and the odd celeb or two.

That Time My Teen Daughter Got a Tattoo

I remember watching a show years ago on MTV about extreme fans, and there was an episode that featured a 14-year-old that was obsessed with Gwen Stefani. One scene showed this girl's parents taking her to a salon to have her hair dyed pink, just like Gwen's. My daughters were toddlers at the time, and I recall thinking all sorts of judgmental thoughts about these parents—what kind of monsters let their kid do that to their hair? If I wasn't so busy making homemade baby food and washing my cloth diapers by hand, I would have called CPS immediately.  Read more...

14 Times I Was Paranoid About My Teens
I admit it. I might be just a little paranoid when it comes to parenting my two teens. Given even the most innocent of situations, I will almost always go to the worst-case, glass half-empty, psycho-with-the-chainsaw scenario. Surprisingly, my kids have turned out pretty good even though my daughter did think someone had planted a bomb in her teddy bear when she was 6. Of course, I cut that thing open just to make sure. Read more...

8 Teen Life Hacks Moms Could Use Right Now
In case you haven't noticed, your teen is an expert when it comes to figuring out ways to make life easier for themselves. While my first instinct is to get mad when I find out they're pretending not to know how to change the toilet paper roll, I've come to look at these acts as pure genius and have decided to try and use these to make my life easier, too. Read more...

How Do Your Kids Act When You're Not Around?
When my daughter was in kindergarten they had a weekly "share day" when each child could bring something to school—a book, stuffed animal, favorite toy—and spend a few minutes showing it off to their classmates. After one of the days I missed, I got a call from a parent who was there. She said she knew, as a mom, that we always wondered how our kids did when they weren't under the watchful eye of their parents, and she wanted to let me know how impressed she was with my kid's presentation that day. I was happy to hear it and a bit relieved—you never know what kind of mayhem can go down when a 5-year-old gets center stage. Read more...

17 Ways to Know You Were a Teen in the '80s
Do you find it impossible to part with your fur vest? Can't dance unless Parliament Funkadelic is on the turntable? Then you were probably a teen in the '80s. Sure, this is admitting you're kind of old, but think how jealous everyone is that you got to see the original "A-Team" on your television set—even if you did have to keep getting up to change the channel and adjust the foil on the antennae.

I'm not saying being a teen in the '80s was the best thing in the world, but we were the first ones to dance to Madonna's "Holiday" in a club. OK, maybe it really was the best thing in the world. Read more... 

Why Your Teen Broke Down Over Zayn Malik
Has your teen been crying more than usual in the past week? Unable to eat, clutching her pillow and sobbing "Come back come back" while "Story of My Life" plays on an endless loop in the background? She may just be reacting to the news that Zayn Malik has left One Direction. Yes, I know it's already been seven whole days since the horrible event, but when the entire Universe comes crashing down and the earth stops spinning on its axis, it takes a while to recover. Read more...

9 Reasons Teens Are Better Than Toddlers
Teens get such a bad rap, especially from people with young kids. I keep hearing friends say, "Ugh, I'm dreading the teen years," and they're usually saying this as they're wiping gobs of baby spit-up off of their arms.
Well, I'm here to tell you that teens are actually better than toddlers, and here are a few reasons why. Read more...

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Thursday, February 12, 2015

No pressure, Mindy Kaling, but my kids' future might depend on you

Speaking of Asians, we are big fans of Mindy Kaling over here. In fact, in one of my latest posts for I write about how I'd like for the actress to take over raising my kids if some catastrophe befalls me and my husband. (Just kidding. We all know that job will go straight to Oprah.)

We all love Mindy Kaling, and I think she’s a great role model. Not only is she the perfect combination of brains, beauty and kick-ass wit, but she’s incredibly stylish as well, which means my girls would not only welcome her, but her closet also with open arms. Here are a few other reasons why Mindy is the ideal person for my teen girls to look up to. Read more...

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Monday, February 09, 2015

I'm so Asian

(Yes, as a matter of fact I am singing the title of this post to the tune of "That's So Raven.")

Sometimes I feel more Asian than usual. Times when I don't feel like I blend into my world quite so seamlessly and am keenly aware that even though I was born and raised in this country, as were my parents, I'll always feel like a little bit of an outsider.

One of those times are these months at the beginning of the year, when parents are in the process of choosing high schools and colleges for their kids. Without fail,  every year, I'll hear at least a few people make this comment about a school they're considering.

"That school is full of Asians."

To be fair, sometimes it's said with affection as in, "I love me some Asians. The math scores at that school are THROUGH THE ROOF," and I can concur with that person and also point out that the after-school Origami class is probably pretty killer, too.

But other times it's said with a bit more disapproval, as in,

"This muffin is full of raisins. I FUCKING HATE RAISINS."

Either way, I try and pretend that nothing happened. Because I'm so Asian like that.

The past week was another reason to feel my Asian-ness at full volume – it was the premiere of 'Fresh Off The Boat,' a new sitcom on ABC. The story centers around the Huang family – recent Taiwanese immigrants who have settled in Florida – and the culture clash they experience. It's the first TV show in 21 years to star an all-Asian cast; the last was 'All American Girl' starring Margaret Cho in 1994. Don't start sending me links to PBS documentaries about the royal family in Japan – those don't count.

I don't think I was prepared for what an impact this show would have on me. A show that was just CHOCK FULL OF RAISINS! I knew it was an important milestone but thanks to social media the night of the premiere was like being at one of my huge family gatherings, except without the fighting over the check and the pressure to take home leftovers.


All of my Asian peers watching at the same time, equally thrilled that we were seeing people who looked like us on TV. It was overwhelming and pretty emotional. Here were Asians that weren't cast in roles as the nerdy best friend, the sushi bar waitress or the dry cleaner owners. They were real, flawed, characters who looked and acted like people I know. Something that most of you take for granted, I'm sure, but an empowering, long-overdue moment for Asian Americans.

But then that excitement was dimmed a few days later. My friend and fellow blogger Grace Hwang Lynch posted a photo on Facebook that was taken during a press tour for 'Fresh Off The Boat.' The thing that stood out about the photo? Not one Asian face among the attendees. A press tour for an Asian show, one that is one of the most important things to happen to network TV in terms of Asian representation and NOT ONE ASIAN HAD BEEN INVITED. It stung.

I'm not that much of a blogger anymore. I wouldn't expect to be invited to an event like this, but there are plenty of Asian American bloggers who are active online and in the community who should have been at this press tour to represent and to weigh in on the show. For them not to be included felt deliberate and calculated. Was it deliberate and calculated? The jury's still out, but I can only say it felt exclusionary and insensitive. Kind of like how it felt to not be represented on network TV for the past 21 years.

And the backlash has been swift and harsh. A lot of people are saying that we're just jealous we weren't invited. That we're being too sensitive. That we shouldn't be making it about race. That we should just stop complaining, damnit. It surprised me that so many people couldn't step back, look at the situation and say, 'Hey, that's a mistake. There should have been Asians there," and to see the bigger picture – that Asian Americans have been fighting for a seat at the table for awhile, and this was just one more reminder of the exclusion we encounter on a regular basis.

People aren't used to hearing Asians speak out, and it makes them uncomfortable. We're supposed to be the silent minority and not rock the boat. I know many of my fellow Asian Americans can attest to the fact that we were brought up to be non-confrontational and passive. I think my 94-year-old Japanese mom would just expire on the spot if she knew I was venting on this blog. To the public. And using cuss words.

For me, Asians being excluded from the press tour was so much more than what it seems like on the surface. It meant that even after all these years, we're still invisible to some people. That our voices often don't count. That, in spite of our huge presence as consumers and influencers, so many doors remain closed to us. After all our hard work and striving to be heard, there still isn't a seat on the bus for us.

Thank you to everyone who has spoken up and supported the bloggers who are making our voices heard not just now, but in other arenas and other endeavors. Thank you for sharing our stories and leaving words of encouragement and for seeing us and not making us feel invisible.

Please read these posts by some of my fellow Asian American bloggers, who inspired me to write this post:
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Friday, January 23, 2015

For goodness sake, take the quiz!

Here's my latest post over on Taking this enlightening quiz will require only 60 seconds of your time and can determine, once and for all, if you are indeed the parent of a teen or if you are in fact harboring a robot in your home. The more you know.

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Things we're eating: Pasta Bar

Newsflash: Teenagers like to eat. A LOT. So what do you do when you've got fifty of them about to descend on your house for a party and your kids don't want to serve just pizza? Try a pasta bar.

We've served this at more than a few parties now, and it's always a big hit. Much like our popular ramen bar, it's all about giving them choices – let them choose the toppings for their pasta and they'll feel like they can conquer the world. Well, at least the dance floor.

Start by cooking the pasta the night before, and store it in ziploc bags in the refrigerator. I used penne since it's easy to serve up with a spoon but any similar pasta like fusilli or farfalle will do. I suggest you estimate how much you'll need, laugh at that paltry amount and then cook way, way more if you're serving a party of teenagers.

For example, when we were expecting fifty kids I used the 'two-ounce per person' rule and figured that came out to a little more than six-pounds of uncooked pasta. Just to be safe I bought ten pounds of penne, which proved to be a grave underestimation. Halfway through the party we ran out of pasta and some of the kids started eating the sauce by itself, which was both sad and disgusting.

The day of the party, keep the pasta warm in a chafing dish on the table. I suggest putting out two pans of pasta at a time for easy serving since teenagers tend to stampede when they're hungry and you don't want any fistfights breaking out over the penne.

I used jarred sauce, but if you're fancy and masochistic you can make your own the night before. I served both marinara and Alfredo sauces, and also put out a small bowl of pesto for the rebels. Keep the marinara and Alfredo sauces warm in separate chafing dishes.

For the toppings, use your imagination. I put out another chafing dish of grilled chicken breast strips along with bowls of parmesan cheese, sundried tomatoes, chili flakes, fresh tomatoes, olives, chopped parsley, toasted pine nuts and mushrooms. Again, put out way more than you think any humans could possibly eat in an evening and I guarantee you it won't be enough.

I rounded out the meal with lots of sliced french bread, a platter of fruit and bagged Caesar salad. (Buy a lot of salad. Also surprising: Teens love salad!) At the end of the evening, I kid you not – there was not a crumb of bread or even a single grape left on the table. You would think they wouldn't be able to eat any more after that, but then how would you explain 75 cupcakes disappearing in five minutes.

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