Thursday, July 29, 2010

Can't we all just have a sandwich?

Oh, I know we all hate reruns, but I just got back from vacation and it might be days, even weeks before an original thought will emanate from my sunburned, tequila-soaked brain. So once again, here's another reposting of one of my pieces from the LA Moms Blog which will be closing at the end of this month. It was either this or a detailed recounting of a conversation I had with Rigel while we were in the middle of rafting down the Truckee river and I realized I might have left the stove on in the condo. See, I can tell you're grateful.

I’m declaring war on the Passive-Aggressive Foodie.

We’ve all got at least one of them in our lives.  The friend or acquaintance, who, while showing off their knowledge of all things culinary manages to make the rest of us feel totally inferior.   The Passive-Aggressive Foodie (or PAF for short) will toss out words like confit and ragoĆ»t in everyday conversation, pretty much ensuring that the rest of us feel really stupid talking about that taco we had for lunch.  Why have just a tuna melt when you can explore the rich textures and subtle layers in a panini?  Inevitably the PAF will make you wish you had a nice bottle of fruity, complex shiraz to bash them over the head with.

A perfect example of a PAF is my friend Diane.  Diane is a wonderful cook, as is her French husband Luc, and we’ve been the fortunate guests at many of their dinner parties.  But as fun and down-to-earth as Diane is, her obsession with food sometimes borders on the insane.  She’s the mom who sends her kids to school with lunchboxes packed with leftover truffle-and-organic-zucchini lasagna, and shows up at potlucks with a dish that requires a five-minute introduction and a four-page syllabus.  She saw a package of pre-made cookie dough in my refrigerator once and almost fainted right there on my kitchen floor. 

Don’t get me wrong – my husband and I love a good meal. But what fun is it when that meal becomes more of a ‘look at me’ statement than simply the backdrop of a warm gathering and good conversation? Sure that steak was delicious, but to refer to its "distinctive marbling" more than once during the meal is just pretentious. And another thing about the PAF – they can never just stop at one dish.  To them, every dinner party becomes a sort of gastronomical triathlon, where the sheer number of dishes will leave you panting by the sidelines.  I still remember being invited over to Diane and Luc's house for a casual Saturday supper, and arrived to find Diane had roasted two chickens and made all the trimmings from scratch – garlic mashed potatoes, asparagus with homemade hollandaise, chestnut stuffing and a pistachio cake  – and this was when she was eight months pregnant.  Let’s just say it really took the wind out of that pan of homemade brownies I showed up with.

So when we decided to meet for a picnic in the park a couple of months ago, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity for Diane to step away from her chafing dish and relax a little.  We agreed to keep it simple - we were all worn out from the hectic school year already underway and decided that the less cooking the better.  She said she would bring some food for the adults to eat, and I told her I’d bring some lunches for the kids.  Knowing I would be picking up my girls and coming straight to the park, I had decided to stop by a local deli and grab a few of their boxed kid’s lunches.  I had no idea I would insult Diane by having the nerve to bring food to a picnic.

I should have know there’d be trouble when she called me early that morning to tell me to forget about the kid’s lunches, since she had made enough food for everyone.  I told her thanks, but I had already ordered the lunches; Diane seemed miffed and made some remark about how her kids wouldn’t be eating whatever I brought.  I figured the high cost of goat cheese was making her grumpy that morning.

When we arrived at the park, Diane opened up her suitcase-sized picnic basket to reveal five foot-long italian subs, a tub of curried chicken wings, prosciutto-wrapped melon, a container of homemade potato salad, freshly-baked cookies and a pitcher of fresh-squeezed lemonade. Basically enough food to feed everyone within a ten -mile radius.  When she saw me bring out my boxed lunches, she had the nerve to say, “Oh, we have too much food already,” which seemed kind of silly considering she just showed up with the entire contents of Aisle 5 from Gelsons.  She could barely look at my offerings that day but I’m happy to say her kids happily devoured those boxed lunches.

I knew then that it boiled down to this:  In our relationship, Diane does the cooking.  A PAF needs to be at the culinary reigns; they don't like eating other people's food and to show up at their home with something to eat would be like showing up on the Oprah show with your own couch.  I’m going to steer clear of food gatherings with her in the future, but if we ever do accept an invitation again, I’m going to show up with twelve cartons of Chinese food just to spite her.

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Monday, July 19, 2010

Daily Celebrity Dropping: The Things We Do For 'Glee'

Okay, I admit it -- I'm hooked on 'Glee.' After some initial reluctance, I have to admit to being sucked into all the hype and now you might say I'm even slightly obsessed. Then again, maybe everyone has Jane Lynch's face tattooed on their stomach. 

Apparently I'm not the only one willing to go to lengths for the gang at William McKinley High. Singer Charice Pempengco, who is set to make her debut on the show's second season, reportedly got her skin tightened and received Botox treatments in order to "look fresh on camera."

None of which is unusual in Hollywood, but Charice is only 18.

This makes me sad, especially since shortly after getting cast she said she was "very proud to be an Asian, very proud to be Filipino" but then apparently got the treatments in order to make her "naturally round face" appear more narrow. Doesn't she know that us Asians are known for our round faces? Well, that and our cameras and our driving.

Charice, if you're reading -- no more treatments. Your Asian face is beautiful just the way it is. And if they try to make you a blonde run for the hills.

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I wouldn't know a celebrity if they moved in next door to me

This was originally posted on the LA Moms Blog which will be closing later this month. I'll be republishing my posts from the site over the next few weeks.

Almost thirteen years ago, right after I had my first baby we were living in the Hollywood Hills. Like most new mothers, I spent a freakish amount of time pushing my newborn daughter in her stroller around the neighborhood, partly to let her get some fresh air but mostly to pull myself away from endless hours spent on the couch crying and watching Roseanne reruns. 

A couple of times on those walks I ran into a neighbor, David, who had recently moved into a house around the corner from us.  He mentioned that he was an actor but I didn’t give it much thought until one day when my nieces, who were tweens then, were at my house watching Buffy The Vampire Slayer and while changing a diaper I happened to glance up at the TV and saw my neighbor on the screen.  “Hey, that guy lives two houses away,” I pointed out, gesturing towards the TV with a poop-smeared wipe in my hand.  Obviously I had never watched the show and had no idea who this Angel character was, but judging by the ear-piercing, alien-sounding squeals coming from my nieces this David Boreanaz guy was a big deal.

That wasn’t the first, or the last time I didn’t recognize a celebrity.  You see, I’m celebrity-blind.  While most people imagine they see George Clooney in every gas station and Thai restaurant in town, I wouldn’t recognize a celebrity if he was living next door to me.

I once stood for fifteen minutes in front of an outdoor table at the Grove waiting for my husband, and had no idea my ass was blocking the view of Heidi Klum and her husband Seal.  I didn’t realize I was sitting next to Teri Hatcher during breakfast at a local deli until my friend pointed her out, and on another occasion waited for ten minutes for the valet at that same deli while standing next to Danny DeVito. (Who on earth could not recognize Danny DeVito?) Then there was the time, despite being a huge Friends fan, I sat across from Lisa Kudrow in my ob/gyn’s office and I thought she was just another pregnant woman hoarding all the good magazines.  My husband recognized her, though, and he didn't even watch the show -  although he did manage to come up with some crude, but clever jokes involving a specimen mix-up being turned into valuable celebrity memorabilia

It’s a definite handicap, living in the land of the famous and not being able to recognize the celebrities among us.  It renders me useless to out of town visitors who are eager for a glimpse of their favorite actors or actresses – according to me no famous person has been spotted in Los Angeles, ever.  Who knows how many times I may have shared an elevator with Hugh Jackman and didn’t know it?  Sure it saved him from a rabid fan, but I may never get to show him my ‘love dance’ and give him that crumpled, tear-stained letter I’ve been carrying in my pocket for the past six months. 

Last summer I took my two daughters ice skating at a local rink, and as we were leaving a guy entering with his son held the door open for us. He looked vaguely familiar to me, but I couldn’t place his face. Just as I thought I had figured out who it was, my sister in law leaned over and whispered to me, “Don’t look, but that was the dude from Bones.”  Sure enough, it was my old neighbor David Boreanaz, and while I have to admit I was hurt when there wasn’t even the slightest glimmer of recognition in his eyes, I guess I can’t blame him – I thought he was my dentist.

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Monday, July 12, 2010

Daily Celebrity Dropping: Angelina Jolie Has a New Secret Tattoo and You're Going to Help Me Guess What It Is

So apparently Angelina Jolie and I have something in common. We both have tattoos on our inner-thighs that are "just for Brad." Well, mine is on my outer thigh, isn't just for Brad, and it isn't so much a tattoo as a scar from when I was 15 and fell down chasing the boy's water polo team into the locker room. The point is, we both did crazy things for love.

Angie is refusing to divulge what her new tattoo is, saying that it's meant for Brad's eyes only. This has got me wondering what it says, and all sorts of crazy ideas are going through my head. Is it an arrow pointing upward that says, 'One Way'? Did she get it when she was mad at Brad and it says, 'If You Can Read This Tattoo You Are Too Damn Close To My Vagina'? Is it a picture of Jennifer Aniston with a big 'X' through it? Or maybe she went out and got really drunk, stumbled into a tattoo parlor and accidentally asked for the Jon Gosselin special. Help me out here people - don't make me lay awake another night thinking about this.

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Friday, July 09, 2010

Thank you, anonymous Chinese woman

Who says Asian chicks are wimpy? This woman in Shanghai was so pissed at having her car towed that she drove off with the tow truck attached.

She is officially my new hero. No, I'm not displaying a flagrant disregard for authority, just living vicariously through an Asian sister standing up for herself. Because me, I would have cussed the guy out, put a pox on his children and then slunked off to Starbucks.

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Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Daily Celebrity Dropping: Well I'll Be Damned - Lindsay Lohan IS Going To Jail

Well, I guess I'll have to eat my SCRAM bracelet -- despite my earlier prediction, Lindsay Lohan is going to be putting on that orange jumpsuit after all. A judge just sentenced Lohan to 90 days in jail for failing to attend weekly alcohol education classes in violation of her probation.

Of course, it remains to be seen whether Lohan will even spend any time behind bars -- she famously served only 84 minutes of a 24-hour sentence nearly three years ago after her DUI conviction. That's not even enough time for me to smuggle in a cake with a file in it.

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Daily Celebrity Dropping: Desperately Seeking Madonna and My Youth

A couple of nights ago I sat down with my girls and watched 'Desperately Seeking Susan.' For you kids out there, the film featured Madonna in her first starring role and was also probably the only movie that made me head straight out afterwards to buy a black corset and fifty rubber bracelets. That is if you don't count that documentary I saw on J Edgar Hoover.

As soon as Madonna appeared on the screen Kira said, "Omigod, she looks just like Lady Gaga," and I had to correct her that no, Lady Gaga looks just like Madonna. Kira is a huge Gaga fan so I didn't want to burst her bubble too badly, but in my best motherly voice I had to point out that without Madonna there might not be a Lady Gaga. Of course, there also wouldn't be that box in my closet full of barely-worn corsets, rubber bracelets, lace anklets and fingerless gloves, either, but no need to let the girls know where all of their college money went.

The movie featured one of my favorite dance songs ever, 'Get Into The Groove,' and of course I couldn't help saying in the middle of the movie, "They just don't write 'em like this anymore." Remember how fun it was to watch movies with your parents when they said things like that? After I said it I hiked up my elastic-waisted pants and broke out this video:

Neither Kira or Kiyomi rushed out to download the song on iTunes, but they did both love the movie. Next on our list: The Breakfast Club. I can't wait to bring out my collection of shoulder pads.

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Friday, July 02, 2010

This just doesn't add up

I originally wrote this post for the LA Moms Blog, part of the Silicon Valley Moms blog collective that consisted of fourteen sites from around the country and Canada. Sadly, the site will be closing this month – I'm going to miss the network of amazing writers I had the privilege of working with there. I've decided to republish my posts from the site here on my personal blog as a way of preserving them once they take the site down permanently, and also because that's one less original blog post I have to write. Some may call that lazy, cheap and repetitive, but I just call it resourceful. And maybe lazy.

As I child, I puzzled my teachers.  My inability to add six columns of numbers in my head or multiply fractions in nanoseconds confounded them.  Why couldn’t I figure out the circumference of all the circles in the diagram and calculate how many of them it would take to fill up the Pentagon? What could be so hard about averaging the number of miles Janie and Mike traveled in a day in their Chrysler that got 50 miles per gallon?

After all, they assumed, I’m Asian.  I should be good at math.

I hated this stereotype.  Why couldn’t it be something more glamorous, like assuming that I could wield a killer Samurai sword, or even something with some ick-factor, like thinking that I ate sushi made from live fish every night for dinner. That would at least have given me some mystique on the playground.  I could see it now, packing away a goldfish in my lunchbox when my parents weren’t looking and then later sitting down in the cafeteria, a small crowd gathered around me as I carefully laid out small sheets of seaweed on my cardboard tray. They’d cover their eyes as I pretended to slurp the little critter down with my carton of milk. 

Even worse, I couldn’t live up to this pathetic stereotype.  Other kids would try to copy off my paper, thinking that surely my Asian ancestry would help me multiply those fractions correctly and I didn’t have the heart to tell them that I’d just copied the answers off of Andrew, the kid next to me picking his nose and scraping scabs off his arm.  I think I even brought an abacus to school once just so I wouldn’t disappoint them.  I bent over the board and my fingers furiously flew over the beads as the teacher recited numbers.  When I had supposedly come up with the answer, I banged a gong, bowed deeply and burned some incense at my desk.

Really, it wasn’t until college that a math teacher finally realized that I wasn’t a math whiz and actually didn’t have dreams of working for IBM and becoming the world’s greatest accountant. “You don’t say?  You’re not good at math?  This isn’t some cagey act to get out of joining the Calculus Team?  Now let me get this straight – you really did think 'square root' was some sort of gardening term?”

It’s hard to say whether my two daughters will have an equally heavy cross to bear.  Though bi-racial, they look more Asian than anything else and I’m already suspicious of the motives of their teachers and counselors.  After twice declining, my older daughter was moved up to an algebra class instead of the pre-algebra course that we had requested and that most seventh graders are enrolled in.  I made an appointment with the counselor, armed with my ammo in case any hint of the Asian Math Myth reared it’s ugly head, and was surprised when he informed me that she had been moved into an advanced class because she had scored high on a pre-entry exam. 

I was totally taken aback.  Seriously?  You mean she actually did figure out what x + y was equal to?

Well, there goes another myth out the window.  Because everyone knows – this family, we suck at math.

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Thursday, July 01, 2010

Daily Celebrity Dropping: Mel Gibson Hates Puppies and Babies

Actually I don't know for a fact that Mel Gibson hates puppies and babies. But after his latest N-word laced rant where he also disparages women and his previous anti-Semitic remarks, I'm betting there isn't anyone Gibson doesn't hate. In fact, he probably not only hates puppies and babies, but bunnies, old people, Santa Claus and Girl Scouts.

Did I leave anyone out? If so, let's give Mel some vodka and get a tape recorder ready.

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