Giant Robot

I love Giant Robot magazine. N gave me a subscription as a gift last year and whenever an issue comes in the mail I tear it open and devour it in one sitting.

(Funny aside: E just came up to me as I was typing this and pointed to the picture and said “Pilgrim!” Yes, he already likes flipping through my Scott Pilgrim books.)

Anyway, Giant Robot is devoted to Asian American pop culture and covers a wide swath of topics such as movies, TV shows, books, comics, food, street art, travel, music, etc… Reading every issue is like getting the dish from the super hip Asian American friend I wish I had. It might not be a big deal if you live on the coast but since I’m here in lily-white Utah a whole magazine devoted to this perspective is much appreciated.

Sometimes the writing can be a bit uneven but there are always several things in each issue that I really enjoy reading and that can’t be found in any other magazine. The current issue, 66, is the best I’ve seen in a long time. It’s chock full of great stuff including interviews with Bryan Lee O’Malley, the creator of Scott Pilgrim (soon to be released as a movie); talented hottie Daniel Dae Kim; and Laura Ling, one of the journalists captured and later released by North Korea.

If you see it at a newsstand, pick it up; I don’t think you’ll regret it. Better yet, subscribe.

Reading: The Golden Calf

I just finished reading The Golden Calf and it was GREAT. It is by far the funniest, wittiest Russian satire I’ve ever read. (Actually, it’s the only Russian satire I’ve only read but that’s not really the point.)

Set during the 1930s the novel takes place during Lenin’s New Economic Policy. The story follows con man Ostap Bender as he puts together a crew to track and bilk a underground millionaire of his fortune so Ostap can fulfill his dream of escaping to sunny Rio de Janeiro. The novel is part heist narrative, part sly political commentary, and part absurdist farce.

The Golden Calf is part of the Open Letter series published by the University of Rochester. The series focuses on international literature and only publishes works originally written in non-English languages after they have been translated into English. Open Letter publishes twelve books a year and you can subscribe to receive them as they are released. (N gave me a subscription for Christmas which I how I read The Golden Calf.)

I recommend the series and The Golden Calf in particular. It’s one of the few books that have made me laugh aloud and yet left me feeling smarter after reading it. From what I can tell (not knowing Russian and all) the translation wonderfully captures all the humor of the original story. And on an aesthetic level, the book cover is nicely designed and the book is printed on very nice paper so it’s a pleasure to hold in your hand.

If you can track down a copy I think you’ll be happy you read it.

A Yogurt Upgrade

Lately I’ve been trying to eat better, not just in terms of calories but also in terms of eating food that is more natural and less processed (watching Food, Inc will do that to you). I recently picked up a couple varieties of Chobani Greek yogurt on sale at the store and man, they ARE GOOD.

I hadn’t had Greek yogurt with fruit before but these are thick and rich and satisfying and not too sweet. These also have a lot of calcium and protein in them as well as probiotics. They’re non-fat and 140 calories a serving which is a little more than your average lite yogurt but they don’t have that fakey artificial aftertaste that some yogurts do. I used to get those dessert-flavored yogurts sometimes but now I’ve come to the conclusion that yogurt shouldn’t necessarily taste like fake key lime pie. It should taste fresh and natural like these.

I would recommend trying these if you get the chance. I got them on sale for $1.25 a piece. I’m not sure what they go for normally but they are a bit on the pricey side, comparatively speaking. But at least Chobani donates 10% of their profits to charity which makes me feel better about the cost. If they were cheaper I would eat one for breakfast almost everyday but as it is I’ll probably have them as feel-good treats.

I poked around their website and they have a page where you can print off a buy-2-get-1-free coupon.

(In case you were wondering I wasn’t compensated for this review in any way and I bought the product with my own money.)

My Little Bride

One of our family goals for 2010 is to watch less tv…and more movies! E usually goes to bed by 7:30 and N and I like to unwind and watch shows together afterward. But we’re cutting the cord on some of the shows we used to watch like Hell’s Kitchen, 24, and American Idol and resolving to watch more movies from our Netflix queue.

So far it’s been going well and we’ve been watching some fun movies. We just finished a streak of Korean movies that I had added to the queue. One of them was My Little Bride (어린 신부) (2004).

My Little Bride is a romantic comedy about an arranged marriage between a high school student, Boeun, and a young teacher, Sangmin. Boeun’s dying grandfather and their families pressure them to marry in order fulfill a family promise. But Boeun just wants to keep her new husband a secret and finish up high school like a normal kid…and hijinks ensue.

I really enjoyed the movie. It started out a little slow but quickly grew on me. The lead actors give charming performances and Moon Geun Youn (who plays Boeun) has great comedic timing and a talent for slapstick. To be honest, it was a lot funnier that I thought it would be. Even N liked it and he has a lower tolerance for corny Asian comedies than I do. I guess there’s a reason why it was such a big hit in Korea when it came out.

Check it out if you get the chance. If you have some time to kill, you can even watch the whole thing on Youtube. Here’s the first part (of twelve).

Bargains Galore!

I think I’ve mentioned before that I love dicey warehouse stores. Last Saturday I went with my friend Stephanie to the warehouse to see what they had. I’ve been twice before but neither previous trip was successful: the first time they were closed because a pipe had burst and the electricity was out, and the second time E threw a massive tantrum and we had to beat a hasty retreat. The store’s only open on Saturdays and is way out by the SLC airport so it was annoying when those two trips were totally unproductive.

But this trip was blessedly E-free thanks to N graciously staying home with the little guy and it was the weekend after Thanksgiving so they were having a great sale. Clothes and shoes were all $5 off with most things being priced under $15 to begin with. The place was insanely packed but we still managed to find some good deals.

I got these boots that run about $50 online for…(wait for it)…$8! There was just one pair and they happened to be in my size. And I found a Michael Kors dress for $12 and a pair of strappy black sandals for $4. It was pretty great. Stephanie found a pair of Big Star jeans (apparently one of the designer brands that the kids are wearing these days) for $9. They still had their original $90 tag on them. She was stoked.

So yeah, it’s kind of ghetto but I love me some warehouse stores.

Plastic Cameras

Posting those Holga photos yesterday reminded me of this great book that one of my sisters-in-law sent for my birthday, Plastic Cameras: Toying with Creativity (Thanks, Gwyn!).

I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s chock full of great photos shot with Holgas and Dianas and is very inspiring. The book also includes helpful technical information on modifying toy cameras and tips on using different types of film.

If you’re interested in shooting with a Holga or a Diana this book is definitely worth checking out.


Growing up, Saturdays mornings were for chores and my responsibilities were the bathrooms. I would sneak a book into the bathroom along with my cleaning supplies and then lock the door and sit on the hamper, reading. For a while my mom wondered how it could take me over two hours to clean one bathroom but eventually she wised up.

Along with reading I also like to catalog things; it feeds the tiny OCD streak I have. I recently stumbled upon a web site that feeds both my love of books AND my love of lining thing up in tidy rows.

Goodreads is a website that lets you track books you’re currently reading, books you’ve read, and books you’d like to read. When you add a book to one of your online bookshelves you can rate and review it as well as see what other people thought about it.

There’s a community aspect to the site as well. You can link to your friends and follow what they’re reading. Some authors also use the site and you can follow them as well (Neil Gaiman is the #1 followed person which somehow does not come as a surprise). They also have some nice widgets you can add to your blog to display your books. I added the books I’m currently reading to my sidebar.

Anyway, if you have some time to kill take a look. Adding books and rating them can be highly addictive. I know I’ve spent entirely too thinking of books I’ve read recently or that stuck out in my mind and adding them to my list. If you’re interested you can see my books here. If you’re already on Goodreads or end up setting up your own account be sure to let me know. I’d like to see what you’re reading.

Sensibly Styled

Wearing modest clothes is important to me. I’m more comfortable when my clothes aren’t too short/too tight/too low cut. But sometimes it’s hard to find modest clothes that are also stylish and cute. I want to feel comfortable in my clothes but I don’t want to look frumpy.

That’s why I’ve been grooving on the blog Sensibly Styled lately. They highlight cute clothes from all sorts of different stores. And sometimes readers ask for help putting together outfits and it’s interesting to see what the Sensibly Styled girls come up with. It’s fun and encouraging to see that there are so many options out there.

Best…soul food…EVER!

Bleh…I came down with a nasty cold on Friday afternoon and consequently spent all my free time this weekend slurping chicken noodle soup, downing diet Sprite and cold medicine, and napping. But instead of boring you with the details of my convalescence (I know, too late!) I wanted to share some photos from another restaurant we went to on our trip to Seattle.

While we were in town Ken and Mindy took us to another one of there favorite restaurants, The Kingfish Cafe. It’s known for having the best soul food in Seattle and is a local favorite. Pre-recession, people were known to queue up outside before they even opened up. Mindy said that they once saw a fistfight break out in line over someone cutting!

We started out with some fried green tomatoes and hush puppies.

N ordered the gumbo. He thought it had an excellent blend of flavors.

Ken and Mindy couldn’t praise the yam fries and collard greens enough so I ordered a steak which conveniently came with both. The steak was decent but they were right about the fries and greens: both were AMAZING. The fries were crispy and cinnamony and the greens weren’t bitter at all, only bright and tender. I’ve had collard greens a few times before, but this was the first time that I’ve really enjoyed them on their own. They were SO good. Between them and the fries, the steak was almost an afterthought for me.

…and then the four of us shared this giant strawberry shortcake!

It’s hard to see the scale of it from this picture, but it was actually the size of an adult’s head. It was delicious: creamy and sweet and caramelly (besides the caramel sauce the whipped cream was also caramel-flavored). And all those rich notes were perfectly balanced by the tartness of the berries. Even though we were already stuffed with our entrees the entire shortcake was successfully polished off.

What passes for spontanaity, post-baby

Last night N and I were planning to go see Sonic Youth at the free outdoor concert series that Salt Lake City puts on every summer. But after a long day at the office for him and a long day of wrangling a somewhat cranky E (he’s teething) for me we just couldn’t get excited about driving downtown and standing around in a hot sweaty crowd to listen to a band whom we probably wouldn’t even be able to actually see on the stage (because of the aforementioned hot sweaty crowd). Yep, we’re getting old.

We had already arranged for a babysitter and didn’t want to cancel on her. So we put E to bed and went to dinner at Pizzeria 712, a restaurant that both of us had heard of but never tried. It was really good.

I’ve never been to a restaurant like it in the Orem/Provo area: it’s upscale but casual in the same way Tilth was. Like Tilth, Pizzeria 712 is also devoted to sustainability and sourcing their ingredients from organic/local sources. (I don’t think they take it as far as Tilth does, but then again that would be pretty difficult.)

The atmosphere there was lovely and refined but not stuffy. We sat out on the patio and enjoyed the evening breeze. We started with braised short ribs served on top of polenta with horseradish cream and then shared a pizza topped with speck and soppressata (both are cured meats), shaved garlic, and mozzarella. The crust was hand-tossed and thin and crispy. It was obvious that the flavors had been chosen carefully and they all worked well together. We finished with a vanilla panna cotta served with a cherry sauce. It was SO good: creamy and sweet and cool and perfectly balanced by the tartness of the cherries. Considering the high quality of the food the prices were very decent. Our three course meal (without any alcohol) came to $35 plus tip.

I really had a great time: the food was delicious and N was a perfect date. After knowing each other for ten years he still makes me laugh like no one else does. And to top the evening off I ran into a friend I used to work with and haven’t seen in a year (Hi, T!) and we had the chance to chat and catch up. It was a serendipitous and charming evening.

Pizzeria 712 is located on the bottom floor of now-defunct Midtown Village development and while the pizzeria itself is warm and inviting, it is a little strange to look out at the huge unfinished building across the parking lot. I hope their location doesn’t hurt them: they’re now my favorite restaurant in Utah County and I want them to be around for a long time.