Monday, August 31, 2009

Chasing undergrad

I had a pretty stellar weekend, it started off seeing an amazing dance/hip-hop stage show (Groovaloo) with Courtney. I'd seen it twice before, but because it is a freestyle show and it's been on Broadway during the interim years between LA performances, it was a very different show now than the one I remember.

I was first alerted to the existence of the Groovaloos by pure chance; many of their rehearsals and the "Groove Nites" in which the group first got together took place at the studio I used to dance it. Going to the show years ago was first something that I did with other members of my studio... and then we saw just how amazing the show was. We spread the word, and the dance program at my high school found ourselves making it out to another show that of course I joined in on. I didn't know many of the members of the Groovaloos personally, but I was acquainted with Bradley Rapier, the genius who started the group, just because I danced at the studio - it was fun "showing off" to people who came to the show with me that I knew the guy in charge.

I'm pretty sure Bradley wouldn't recognize me now, but I still saw a lot of people from the studio at the show - including my ballet teacher, Olivia. It was incredible reading about all of the accolades earned and competitions won by the Groovaloos since they last performed in LA. Though I'm sure my nostalgia means little to them in the scope of their achievements, I do feel kind of a pride for the group as I felt like I was there for them at the beginning, that the first show I saw was a fledgling one... and now, seeing how they've matured and how the show was even more fantastical than I remembered, I'm just thrilled for each member of the group for what they've accomplished.

The remainder of the weekend was spent with more of my favorite people - Laura's adieu to LA bash was a riot even though BrewCo was a sweltering foyer to Hades that night. Quality time with Casper on Saturday, complete with a tasty bacon-filled dinner. It's really awesome that Casper actually volunteers to cook for me, but I do kind of fear the day that I'll have to make him something that's not breakfast or lunch food. And though times where I am dissatisfied with brunch are few and far between, Sunday morning/afternoon with Laura, Tiffany, Michelle, and a new friend named Hillary was divine indeed.

If even a small majority of my weekends can remind me so satisfyingly of college, I'm sitting pretty on a pretty sweet existence for the time being. I can't complain. And I'm really thankful for everything I've got for making it so great right now.


Friday, August 28, 2009

Everyone loves beer!

Including my new classmates!

It's nice to know that I'll have a group of friends in grad school who willingly push the start of the pool party back a few hours when class releases early, and who recognize that said earlier start time will mean that beer drinking shall commence in the AM.

And I thought I would never be faced with a 24 pack of Natty Light again!

How wonderful life is to drink during the day, suck down some H2O, take a nap in the hot hot shade, and drive home before 4PM.

Punk Says the Darndest Things:
"Are the nerves in my feet and my stomach connected? Because a lot of the time when my stomach hurts, my feet do too."


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

They don't take 50 minutes to go over the syllabus in grad school

First day of class today. Thought I was going to learn about cells; instead got a reasonably comprehensive review of basic biochemical thermodynamics. It was helpful as a memory refresher, one that fortunately I recognized fairly early on into the lecture that I needed, otherwise I would have surely started counting sheep. This stuff isn't exactly my bread and butter.

My parents keep teasing me and asking if I'm going to buy any USC clothing. I'm wondering if it would be cheating to get a "USC Keck School of Medicine" shirt. I mean, I'm not a "med student," but my program is operated through the medical school. Sorry, but no way am I going to sport a cardinal and gold USC shirt. It's really just not ever going to happen. I'll definitely buy a keychain though. I think it's the least I can do, considering I'm more than likely going to be here longer than UCLA...


Hussel - M.I.A.
A lot of people viewed M.I.A. as a one-woman musical revolution. I don't have the street cred to make such a proclamation and have people take me seriously; however, I think she's very good. This song especially rocks for me - it might be my very favorite of hers. It's very hard hitting and also very poignant.

Slide In - Goldfrapp
It seems like my shuffle is kind of giving me repeat artists this week :] Anyway, I don't think I gave Goldfrapp enough credit last time. The group made their name kind of doing soft, haunting melodies; they later transitioned to a more electro-pop dance sound. I think both sounds suit them nicely, and I like this song a lot. It hearkens back to the 80s a bit (which always works for me) and I think the vocal work is very fun and well-done.

You Look So Fine - Garbage
Garbage was my main band in middle school. I thought Shirley Manson freaking rocked (well, I still do.) This is one of my favorite Garbage songs - longing and sad, Shirley's vocals really spoke to me as an angsty middle schooler. But truthfully, this song really holds up for me and I still listen to it a lot.

Desperate Guys - The Faint
The Faint kind of seems to have a shtick to me, but I think they do it well. A good deal of their songs seem to be about sex (however ambiguously) and they definitely work the retro-electro-rock sound --this may be a good place for me to interject that I make up all of these so-called "genres" because I really just don't know what else to call them-- and I think they're generally a good band to check out. Good hipster party music.

If I Ever Recover - Basement Jaxx
A slower selection from Basement Jaxx, this song features a string symphony (or at least a good-sounding faux one) and is niiiice and pretty. I have liked this song previously as a good one to study to.

Rogues - Incubus
What can I ever say about Incubus? Well, for one thing, though I love their old stuff with all of the loyalty and nostalgia I can muster, I really do think they are getting better with age! Off 2006's Light Grenades, the musicality in this song just freaking rocks.

Feed Your Mind - Oakenfold
Ok, this will probably be enough Oakenfold to appear on this for awhile, even if shuffle keeps churning him out :] He's gotten a lot of criticism ever since, oh, say 2002, when Bunkka was released. The usual complains - he went too *mainstream*. His following production albums, including A Lively Mind, from which this song was released, did little to appease his critics. I still think he releases - if nothing else - very fun music, and this song definitely fits the bill.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Punk Says the Darndest Things 8/24/09

Quick refresher course: Punk is my sister, 18, likes short walks on the beach and lean meat.

This occurred over a nice, wholesome, family dinner.

Me: Casper recently explained the Doppler Shift to all of GPhi while we were watching TV.
Punk: Doesn't that have something to do with a red thing and a blue thing?
My Dad: Yes, there are red shifts and blue shifts.
Punk: AWWW HELL YA I actually learned stuff!

Another day, another egg lunch

It turns out I don't have class on Mondays. Cool. I'm still not sure what my schedule is going to be like this year; I know for the first month I only have classes and no lab rotations because classes work on semester system and rotations work on quarter system, so they start later.

The rotations this year involve me working in labs to test them out and basically see who is doing research that I like, and just as importantly which professors I get along with well. I wonder what the time committment will be like for rotations - I imagine it will be more time than I did for undergrad research (10-12 hours/week) but I'm technically only getting four units of class credit for it, and I'm taking actual classes. I'm not sure how much time they can realistically require from us with so few units dedicated to the research.

Anyway, onto bad photos of food. This actually wasn't from today, but I didn't get a chance to post it before. This was really easy, though there was a pan handle mitt casualty in the process. It's just two poached eggs on a bed of spinach leaves with some sauteed shallots. Olive oil/salt dressing.

The shallots:

The scorched mitt (just so you don't forget that though I obsess over food and the random things I prepare, I am still defunct in the kitchen):

The salad:


Action Radar and Funky Shit - The Prodigy
I don't listen to that much of The Prodigy any longer, even though they (he?) have/has continued to release new material into the aughts. I think a lot of it sounds a little dated, but when it comes up in shuffle it's still fun music. "Action Radar" is hard hitting, and "Funky Shit" was a favorite of mine in high school. It's, well, funky.

Aqueous Transmission - Incubus
I'll never not love Incubus.

Believer - BT
Fun late-90s style trance (basically the peak era of raving), featured in the 1999 film Go. I like this one a lot.

Eriatarka - The Mars Volta
A lot of people consider The Mars Volta to be kind of snobby, esoteric music. "Eriatarka" is from what is in my opinion one of TMV's more *accessible* (to use a snobby, esoteric word) albums, De-loused in the Comatorium (and I think the most accessible would be their latest, Octahedron.) Anyhoo, "Eriatarka" is one of my favorite TMV songs - it's truly an experience for me but I lack the musical vocabulary to describe what makes it such an entirely awesome song. I can tell you that pretty much every time it comes on I stop what I'm doing and allow it to just paint a picture in my imagination of some kind of random scene. Pretty hippie-ish, no?

It Don't Come Easy - Pixie
This song is in my library as part of an ILS mixed-set album, Y4K. It's kind of poppy breakbeats. Good, clean, fun.

Dirty Sticky Floor - Dave Gahan (JunkieXL remix)
This is a trance classic! This song goes so many places within 8 minutes, which may seem long to the uninitiated electronic music sampler, but if that describes you than this song may qualify as a perfect introduction to the genre. Each of the 8 minutes feels different and fresh, and as the main riff weaves its way in and out of the beats throughout you'll always be glad to hear it return after the buildups.

Little Secrets - Passion Pit
So, Passion Pit is getting big! Good for them! Most of you will have already been introduced to "Sleepyhead" either through my indoctrination or via the Internet. The EP Chunk of Change was famously written for the lead singer's girlfriend at the time, and after distribution the group was invited to record a full length album, Manners. "Little Secrets" is a new gem off of Manners, fun and summery and with a charming kids' choir to boot!

Test Transmission - Kasabian
Kasabian aren't vanguard artists, but I do enjoy their work as a pretty solid entry into the electronic rock genre.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

LOST days remaining: 1.5

You know what's weak? Or rather, who's weak?

Pick up artists.

If pick up artistry were simply about teaching shy men how to gain the confidence to approach women in bars, I'd have no issue with it. But these guys don't see any value in the woman they're picking up beyond that night. If this stuff was really about emboldening shy men with confidence, then the focus would be learning how to talk to women in order to find out which ones share common interests with him, and therefore which ones might be interested in dating or a relationship.

Rather, PUAs learn how to talk to women with slightly more interesting banter than usually expected from a guy looking for a one-night deal, and the goal is to basically trick the woman into thinking that he's smarter or more interesting than he actually is. The apparent intrigue will then hopefully land him a bedmate for the evening (but just for that evening, because it wouldn't be long after that the woman would figure out that behind his fancy posturing he's actually just a tool, and a pretty boring one at that.)

I usually don't think about them much, but recently the PUA community has been making something of a statement online since the gym murders of women in Pennsylvania. Their position? That George Sodini was just a "nice guy" who "lacked game" and if "women had just been more kind to him" (read: had pity sex with him) then this tragedy wouldn't have happened.

You see what they did there? They took one George Sodini, obviously mentally deranged criminal, and made him the victim of his crime because WOMEN had been harsh to him and thusly deserved to die. This is all an extreme representation of Nice Guy™ syndrome (link HIGHLY encouraged reading), in which women are to blame for the asshole-ization of "nice guys."

I found this article in the Taipei Times discussing this phenomenon succinctly - but there's a lot more reading on the Internet to be had if this subject interests any of you, for whatever reason. I just wanted to throw my two cents on there so that the WWW knows where I stand.

Music time!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

LOST days remaining: 3

So, I'm talking with some friends from my program at orientation on Monday, and they decided that they were interested in checking out the graduate student government table, so I go with them. As we're standing there, this guy comes up and starts waxing socially awkward, making irritating little zingers to try to hold our interest and just generally being the proverbial mosquito interrupting our barbecue lunch.

I was already annoyed, but then he had to go ahead and pull out one of my big pet peeves. "Where are you from?" "Oh, I grew up around here in the LA area." "Oh, well I'm from New York, but I've been in LA for a few years. Which part of LA?" "The Valley." [condescendingly forced pained expression] "Oh, ouch."

So, I know that the Valley was the butt of a lot of jokes in the 80's, and that people on the other side of the Santa Monica mountains tend to still have a little bias against it. And I know that in the 90's people were exposed to that bias via Cher in Clueless, which is kind of the impression that a lot of people have of it now - that it's not as *nice* as the Westside. Which, hey! That's true for some of it. But since when it is cool to rip on anywhere for being less wealthy than somewhere else? I actually thought that was kind of anti-cool. But people still get away with it all the time with the Valley.

Let me tell you, I met someone from Newport Beach this year who told me "I'm sorry" when I mentioned where I was from, and I didn't think it was funny. I just wanted to barf all over her and her snotty privilege. I don't make fun of where other people are from when they tell me, even if I think it sucks. I mean, I might be thinking to myself in my head, "Bakersfield, man, that place smells like cow and it's even hotter than the Valley." But I'd never rip on that person to their face. That's just rude! And even if you think I'm cool with it because I'm not outwardly punching you in the face, "where ya from" is something you can't change, like your family. There's gang wars over people defending their home turf. So no, people who don't know me, making fun of the Valley is not a good way to endear yourself to me.

Anyway - today's playlist. (Commentary is for Laura who is feel free to tell me after this post if it actually added anything meaningful to her life)

Some major points (not per se my favorites among the list, but just those that garnered the stream of consciousness resulting in the following points):

Let Me Know - Roísín Murphy
I was glad to see Roísín come up on shuffle today, because I think she's delightful. She's totally weird but what I really love about both of her albums that I have -- Ruby Blue and Overpowered -- is that though there is a cohesive spirit amongst the songs that defines them as unabashedly HER, the songs themselves all come from such different inspirational sounds that it never becomes just background noise. They all have great character.

Burn, Burn - LostProphets
This was part of my angry rock phase in high school, but it still holds up well for me as a headbanger. Not to mention I couldn't find fault with the not-so-vaguely pyromaniac message.

Strict Machine - Goldfrapp
You'll have heard this most notably in the promos for Nip/Tuck a few seasons ago. I like the heavy downbeat and I'm generally a fan of Alison Goldfrapp's voice. This is pretty prototypical "heavy" Goldfrapp most notably featured throughout Supernature, though this song is from Black Cherry.

I'm Not Driving Anymore - Rob Dougan
Rob's featured pretty prominently on the soundtracks for the Matrix trilogy, and fans of his sound on those albums will appreciate this song. It's got the string symphony set to a rock-ish breakbeat that one may expect from him. A bit repetitive, but generally I like it.

Breath and Start - Blockhead
I am not sure how to pinpoint Blockhead - not because it's categorically weird music, but just because I'd say beats-wise and frequently attitude-wise it's instrumental hip hop. But the sounds over the beats are often smooth, jazzy even, usually influenced by other genres, and not usually associated with the hip hop genre. I guess generally I'd say it's urban cool.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

LOST days remaining: 4

Something I learned on Gangland today:
the "art" of hiding something in the rectum (for use in prisons, for instance) can be called "keester stashing."

I've been making a particular tasty lunch for myself that's relatively easy (outside of the fact that I have a hard time flipping eggs and pancakes and things of that nature. Consider me spatula-challenged) that I decided to photo-document in part. Here's where I learned that in addition to having shortcomings in cooking ability, I also have shortcomings in food photography. You know how people are hired to take pictures that make the Big Mac look like the damn most delectable thing you'll ever have in your mouth? And then you actually get the burger and it looks like the deflated, hungover cousin of the Big Mac you saw in the picture on the menu?

I do the reverse of that. If I'm lucky, I can blame my cell phone camera. Regardless, it's not suitable for food porn. So basically what I'm going to show you looked a lot better in person.

I first of all sliced up some cheese bread and toasted it, then put some sliced tomatoes on top. Afterward I put some warm carnitas (and let me tell you all right now if you ever get the chance you have got to get a pound of carnitas from Vallarta market, you won't regret it) and let it sit there for a bit while I fried up an egg over-easy and mashed some guacamole.

Amanda's surefire guacamole recipe (lulz):
pico de gallo from Baja Fresh or Poquito Mas

So this is what the sandwich looked like with the egg up ons it:

I had taken a picture of the sandwich prior to the egg, but no angle could make the carnitas look less sad and brown, unfortunately. And again - I swear in person it looked amazing!

The final product:

Guacamole smeared on eggs on meat on tomato on bread. Good right?

To conclude, here's my playlist for today of some things that popped up on iTunes shuffle.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Lots Of Spare Time (LOST) Days Remaining: 5

So, I figured I'd start blogging. Not because of an abundance of anything especially exciting to say, but rather because it seemed like kind of the cool thing to do, and if I ever did come up with something I wanted to share (but didn't want to force upon people on Facebook via newsfeed who might not care) this would be a place to scribe it into the annals of pointless Internet history.

I anticipate that many posts will be of me ranting, or discussing food. Don't think this is a "food blog" though; I can't cook and have a pretty non-discriminating palate. So by "discussing food" I really mean "partaking in an online outlet for fat kid behavior." Also, as per an inside joke with Casper, I plan on introducing a "special feature" called "Punk Says the Darndest Things." Because she does. And I want to share them.

Also, as I was discussing the idea of blogging with a few people (namely, Tiffany and Michelle/FriendlyLee1214) I brought up the notion of grad school musings, which seemed to have a warm reception. So perhaps some of that might find its way in here as well.

It's possible that at least some element of this blog helps me gain white people points back, since (I assume) those of you who are actually reading this know I'm the wrong kind of white person with honorable mention Asian points. I was thinking the grad school thing definitely helps, but upon re-reading the entry it appears that I don't even qualify for points in that area since suitable majors are only in the humanities.

In conclusion, I'll just leave you with some cute bunnies: