Monday, June 8, 2015

Binge Watch: Marvel's Agent Carter Season 1

When Marvel's Agent Carter premiered in January of this year, I wasn't that interested in it. I was hesitant to add yet another show into my viewing schedule, especially since I wasn't a huge fan of the first Captain America movie, but after hearing it as Glenn Weldon's "What's Making Us Happy" pick on NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast  I decided that I would give it 3 episodes and then make a decision.

These are not episode summaries or reviews and there are no real spoilers.

Episode 1: First impression

I can already tell that the fashion is going to be a big part of the show. Ever since Mad Men I feel like there's this push to highly stylize any "period/historical" tv shows. Which makes to beautiful cos-plays at fan conventions. I was surprised to see Chad Michael Murray in the show but since he's very easy on my eyes I won't complain.

I'm not 100% sure that I love the show yet but it's smart and funny so I clear my schedule and hit play on the next episode.

Episode 2: Second bite.

The Captain America radio show clips are hilarious! The way they show how they do the foley/sound effects makes me think about Monty Python and the horses/coconuts. We're deeper into the story now and I'm digging the feminist-vibe that Peggy gives. Historically this time period is blatantly sexist and the show doesn't hide that fact but Agent Carter's ability to manipulate her way around the people in her life feels somehow both pro and anti-feminist. Plus Peggy gives great Resting Bitch Face (RBF).

Episode 3: Decison time.

After another solid episode I'm wanting to watch more so I decide to commit and download the entire season. Since there are only 8 episodes I'm basically halfway done with this season. I hunker down and watch the last 5 in two days. The show entertains and amuses me and I find myself going into a British accent after watching it.

I'm glad that it's been renewed for a second season but, second season's can be hard for hit shows. Glee, Heroes, American Idol are all examples of the "sophomore slump". And those shows never really recovered from their mediocre 2nd seasons.

Agent Carter seem to have the upper hand in that it was an extremely short first season, so viewer fatigue should be minimal and the Marvel studio machine is still doing a full court press in growing the Avengers franchise. Also, there's plenty more story for Agent Carter to tell in terms of establishing S.H.I.E.L.D. and HYDRA so hopefully we'll get more of this smart, funny, lighthearted show and it won't become something else I have to "get through" when I watch.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Review: Mad Max: Fury Road

Confession I've never seen the original Mad Max. That said, I really enjoyed this movie. It's basically a really long crazy ass car chase. The violence is highly stylized and strangely satisfying (if you're the type that enjoys violent comedies).

Tom Hardy plays the male lead Max. A wanderer who is captured by a gang of rebels and taken as a living "blood bag" on a road race to reclaim the "treasures" (beautiful breeding "wives") stolen by Charlize Theron's character, Furiosa. Theron is attempting to take the girls to an Eden-esque area where they'll be safe and cared for. She knows the place exists because she was taken from their as a small child. Hardy escapes from his captors on the road and after an extended negotiation he joins Theron in her quest to reach Eden.

This high energy fast paced go go go! movie definitely has summer blockbuster written all over it and I for one have high hopes that audiences will enjoy it as much as I did.

Review: Pitch Perfect 2

Disclaimer: light spoilers
"You're gonna miss me when I'm gone" Yes, yes we did miss you Pitch Perfect! Now you've finally come back to us and you're still making me smile. Anna Kendrick, Brittany Snow, Rebel Wilson reprise their roles as the Barton Bella's, but instead of a joke of the viral web they've turned into 3x acapella champions. For the first 10 minutes of the movie. Then it's back to their familiar stomping grounds of being in danger of losing everything! Hailee Steinfeld plays an incoming freshman, a "legacy" or daughter of a former Bella, who is dead set on being one of the sisters.

The music in the sequel is less sing along friendly than in the first movie, except for the 90's throwback riff-offs (hello MMMBop!) and the song the Bella's close their World's number with. Which is an original song, something that has never been done before in the acapella world (except for when Glee did it back in season 2).

I personally really wanted more Skylar Astin screen time. His chemistry with Kendrick in the first movie definitely helped us root for her (and the Bella's) but unfortunately their relationship is more of a footnote in the sequel. That doesn't mean there's no romance in this rom-com but there are no "stakes" in the pairings. Remember that in the first movie the Bella's vowed to not get involved with a member of their school's rival acapella group!

tl;dr If you liked Pitch Perfect you'll most likely like Pitch Perfect 2. There are more jokes but less music.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Review: SPY

Disclaimer: light spoilers, feminism, and profanity ahead.

This movie is funny. It's funnier than you might expect it to be but it's funny in a very Melissa McCarthy way. The jokes and physical comedy are vulgar, profane, and play strongly on the fact that she is an overweight woman. (This fact is supposed to make everything she does unbelievable, amazing, and hysterical.) It's not that the jokes fall flat, or that the bits don't work but it does feel that McCarthy has played this character before in the 2013 film The Heat, which was also directed by Paul Feig.

While The Heat felt like a natural follow up to the movie Bridesmaids (which Hollywood still thinks of as a surprising blockbuster hit) SPY feels more like a farewell to the all girls comedy club. McCarthy and her Bridesmaids co-star Rose Bryne, along with new comer, Miranda Hart, let the boys (most notably Peter Serafinowicz) do some heavy hitting of their own.

While the men are allowed into the club, it's definitely the interaction between the women that carry this movie. McCarthy's hot potato banter with Bryne is wonderfully funny and weird while Hart's moments with the former echo back to the female friendship aspect that so many loved about Bridesmaids. McCarthy's character, Susan Cooper, has a very real moment in the film when she sits down with the (female) head of the CIA, Allison Janney, and realizes that her career has been put on the back burner because of a man.

Although, it's also this same man who is the reason why Cooper takes on the mission that gives her her first field assignment. Whether you think this is movie has anything to add or say about feminism in the US is entirely up to you. I will say that Susan's motivations aside, the character's refusal to believe what everyone tells her is the best lesson to take away from all the jokes and action. When everyone says you can't; fuck them.

tl;dr Funny movie where Melissa McCarthy stars as a awkward CIA desk agent who is a secret bad ass. GIRL POWER!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

New Year Resolutions check-in

Holy shit. Seriously how is it already almost the end of the first month of 2015?!? Where the fuck did my month go?

They say that accountability is the key to success so I've decided to share this journey with you blah blah blah.

To best honest I'm just indulging my neurotic tendencies to over think things. Blogging makes me seem less crazy than talking to myself about it out loud in public.

New Year Resolution #1: Read 30 books

Update: I am almost done with book #1 (Memory of Light by Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson) It's a little over 900 pages so I'm pretty pleased with myself for getting through it so quickly. almost 1/30

New Year Resolution #2: Go to the gym 30 times

Update: So technically I've been to the gym 4 times this month. But before you get all excited and proud of me I have to confess that I did not work out at the gym 4 times. In fact I only "worked out" at the gym once for like 20 minutes. But I did go to the gym to shower before an event, and to sit in the hot tub/steam room/sauna 4 times.

I needed the hot tub soaks because I'd gone to several Yelp Kick Butt events and was sore ALL OVER from doing squats, core workouts, martial arts, paddling, and all kinds of other crazy shit. So I didn't work out at MY gym but I've been working out. Not sure if that counts. 2?/30

New Year Resolution #3: Learn 30 new words

Update: I've been learning new words like (evitable, furfuraceous, sapiosexual & spornosexual) but haven't really worked them into my everyday vocabulary yet. But it's pretty hard to do so with these types of words, maybe I will have to choose better words that are less...esoteric. (BTW that's not one of my new words... I already knew that one.) 4/30

New Year Resolution #4: Cook 30 new recipes 

Update: I made a chicken and spinach lasagna in my slow cooker that turned out pretty good! I over cooked it a little but still yummy. And I made the recipes up all by myself! 1/30

New Year Resolution #5: 30 new blog posts.

Update: One down 29 to go. 1/30

New Year Resoultion #6: Do 30 fun activites

Update: Went to a new-ish friend's house for the first time and played board games till 4 am. Went to a martial arts class. Went on a maybe-date. 3/30 yay!

I also have a few non-turning-30 related of which is to have no more than 18 drinks a week. Now I've gotten A LOT of shit for this one. People want to know why/how I settled on 18, or what constitutes a drink, or what the rules are.... and you know what? I don't know. I just picked 18 because I thought it sounded do-able but a little hard.
(especially during Superbowl/Birthday/Vacation/Special Occasions)

A drink is counted simply by the glass. Big or small size is (in this case) irrelevant. One small glass of soju or large 22 o beer is one drink. Sips of other people's drinks don't count but they really have to be sips. 

There's no particular reason I decided to do this other than I kinda wanted to see if I could do it. 18 drinks a week is kinda a lot but I definitely am used to drinking more than that one a regular basis. The additional benefits are just that...additional. Yes it will be good for my health to drink less, I'll hopefully save money and lose weight. I'll go out drinking less which means maybe I'll be more productive and get more reading/writing/working out done.

I also wanted to do the 52 week savings challenge but so far I haven't started it yet. Honestly I'm not sure if I'm going to do this one because if I move money from my checking account into my "new" savings account for this resolution and then more money from my old savings account into my checking account to pay for bills does that count as saving? No, right? So It should be like actually saving that money from each paycheck without having to move money around. Which means I just have to fucking spend less money....damn it why is this so hard? I'm Chinese! Being cheap should be my natural state!

Thanks for reading if you did... if you didn't thanks anyway.

TL;DR? New Year Resolutions are crap but I'm working on them.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Restaurant Week Reflections

Restaurant week is not for amateurs. In what I like to call "a Thanksgiving training" binge I visited 10 different restaurants in 6 days, gained 5 lbs, and basically cleaned out my bank account all in the name of research! Here are the top 5 dishes that I wish I could eat again and again and again!

 1. Beef and Foie @ MW
This amazing dish captured my heart so much that it prompted two return visits in as many nights. The beef is seriously stupidly tender and the foie gras just melts onto your tongue. The freshly shaved Burgundy truffles perfectly compliment the truffle oil mashed potatoes and the hint of sauteed greens help relive any worries about calories. 

 2. Pumpkin Crunch Ice Cream Cake @ Stage
I wasn't expecting much from this little dessert but sometimes low expectations are a good thing because I was really wowed by the flavors in this! My dining companions were all stuffed so I sacrificed my waistline and heroically volunteered to help them polish off their desserts.

3. Mud Pie "For Wade" @ MW
Poor Wade. We were lucky enough to get the last order of the mud pie and he didn't actually get to taste it even though it's allegedly for him! The famous MW cookies were a nice touch and eating them dunked into the mud pie made me want to propose marriage to Michelle (even though I know she's already married.)

4. Spaghetti ai Ricci di Mare @ Arancino at the Kahala
Confession: I don't like Uni. But the Spaghetti ai Ricci di Mare aka Uni pasta at Arancino at the Kahala has become an exception! The house made pasta coated in their uni and white wine sauce is so delicate and light but creamy and velvety at the same time.

5. Salade Frisee @ Grondin French Latin Kitchen
Do you know what it takes for a salad to make it onto this top 5 list? I mean it's going up against foie gras, truffles, and chocolate! But this little salad definitely holds its own with the competition. The poached egg and smoked lemon juice make a wonderful dressing and the generous portion of pork belly might make you have to run a few extra minute at the gym but it's worth every bead of sweat and every huffed breath!

Runners up

These dishes also continue to haunt my taste buds and I definitely recommend that you try them out too if you're so presented with the opportunity! However I don't recommend sharing them because you'll instantly regret not being able to gobble it all up by yourself. Trust me on this was an ugly scene with me and my dining partners all fighting to get our spoons and forks into these!

Roasted Kabocha Parfait* @ The Pig & The Lady
*Non Restaurant Week Menu Item

Bread Pudding @ Prince Court

Insalata alla Caprese @ Arancino at the Kahala

Chocolate Banana Cream Pie @ MW

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day My Loves!

A few years ago I wrote a special Valentine's day post to tell my friends how much I love them. This year I'd like to repeat that act because I feel an abundance of love in my life!

(as always ladies first)

  • Melissa: You are ALWAYS there for me. If not for you I would have been totally lost all these years! (literally (which way is North shore?!) and figuratively! LOL) Thanks for always seeing the best in me. I love you like you're my family...except more than that lol.
  • Marleen: You are the best! I can always depend on you to keep me grounded. I love love love LOVE you and your family!
  • Cherie: It was so amazing to get to see you this year! I love it when we get together because shenanigans are much more fun when done together! You are my wife for life and I can't imagine a better one!
  • Mahina: You are the best kind of out of town mistress a girl like me could ask for. LOL. Seriously though our friendship is so great because it's as simple as breathing! You show up, we hang out, have fun. End of story! Hope to see you soon either in AZ or HI!
  • Maka: This crazy Yelp Life would NOT be as much fun without you! I'm so happy we've become friends & definitely foresee a long future of friendship for us! Your secret nerdiness is just one of the things I love about you!
  • Melinda: I hope it's doesn't come as a surprise to you that I count you amongst my closest friends! We don't get to spend a ton of time together but I love that you are so friendly & patient & kind! 
  • Corie: Sometimes short (like you! haha) and sweet is the best way to say something. Thanks for being a good friend. It's always fun hanging out with you! Can't wait for you to teach me more about political stuff!
  • Michelle: Even though you're always busy you still seem to make time for me. I love you lots!
  • Malia: I'm so glad we've become closer friends! I hope to get to know you even better and hear more stories over wine!
  • Whitney & Kim: You two are both so far away and so grown up now! I miss you both TONS & TONS but am so happy you're doing so well! Although we don't talk often you guys are always in my thoughts & in my heart. Love you!
  • Emi: You are such an amazing person. Thank you for teaching me so much about love, joy, and happiness! (and marketing/event planning too lol) Every minute I spend with you makes me into a braver & better person. I appreciate the opportunities (and gentle pushes) you give me to grow and learn. I love you!
(And now the boys)
  • Doug: You are my platonic husband and best friend. You are also one of the very best and most gentlemanly guys I know. I know I can always count on you to be my moral compass and I trust you completely (which I think you know is a pretty big deal for me). I love you and am so thankful for your friendship!
  • Reymar: You are also one of the best and most gentlemanly guys I know! I'm so glad that you're my friend/brother-in-law (hahaha). I can't wait to go to Japan and have adventures with you and Doug! I love you lots!
  • Brandon: You & Marleen's love has always inspired me. It has shown me what I should be looking for in a relationship. This past year you've also inspired me by how you've really changed your life and gotten in such amazing shape! (seriously stop being so sexy okay?) Hopefully I'll be in good enough shape to workout with Coach Puka sometime soon!
  • Jacob: You are one of the nicest guys I know. You are a really wonderful friend and I sincerely think the reason I love Yelp so much is because it introduced me to you! Thank you for being such a great friend! I love you!
  • Nick: Thanks for always being so cool to me! I'm glad that we're friends :-)
  • Keli'i: I'm pretty sure you're not going to read this but I just wanted to tell you that you're awesome! I know you work hard but you always try to make time for all of us! Thanks!
  • Justin: You just want me to be happy and that really means a lot. I'm so glad we've been able to stay friends all these years!
  • Stephen & Ray: We might not hang out as much as we all used to but you two are definitely still people I love!
And to my many, many, MANY amazing & awesome Yelp friends (Grant, Richard, Mahina, Paul, Brian, Alycia, Laurie, Jordan, Russ, John, Amara, Talor, Michael, Anthony, & much too many more to name) thank you all so much for being such nice & friendly & wonderful people! 

All of you guys make me feel so very loved and appreciated! I am really so lucky & honored to be your friend! I love each and every one of you and hope you have a great Valentine's day!