Day 115: One Week Away

Pacquiao

Pacquiao

I’m wondering if all sports fans feel like I do about next Saturday’s Pacquiao-Mayweather fight. I’m excited, but it’s tempered by a few facts: both fighters are past their primes, the pay-per-view is $100, and there’s a chance that the fight will be a big stinkbomb. If Mayweather truly is head-and-shoulders above Pacquiao, then we’ll get another Floyd dancefest, featuring 12 rounds of defense and counterpunching. In other words, I’ll be asleep by round six.

I’m betting on Manny knocking out Money, though. Floyd was smart to wait five years as Pacquiao went through a few wars and sustained damage, but I think it’s going to come back and haunt Floyd. He hasn’t had to fight anybody in Manny’s class and hasn’t faced anyone with Manny’s power. Floyd won’t be able to dance away from Manny. He’s going to have to take some huge shots and while the fight won’t justify its $100 price tag (or the tens of thousands of dollars that actual attendees will be paying), it should be an exciting match.

Nobody will be asleep due to boredom. Only Floyd will, thanks to a thunderous left from the Pac Man.

Day 114: Personality

Living Colour

Living Colour

Driving home tonight, I listened to a song I haven’t heard in a while: Cult of Personality by Living Colour. It features one of the Greatest Rock Riffs of All Time and it always manages to pump me up.

The song reminds me of a lot of things, but mostly I think about how I once saw Living Colour, Guns N Roses, and the Rolling Stones at the L.A. Coliseum. The concert started in the late afternoon, with Living Colour playing to a half-empty stadium. I remember being mad that more people weren’t there to appreciate the band’s virtuosity, especially Vernon Reid blazing away on the guitar. Of the three bands that day, Living Colour was by far the most technically proficient.

But who rocked the hardest? The Rolling Stones, without a doubt. I was surprised that a bunch of geezers (I thought they were old then, not knowing that 20 more years of farewell tours still lay ahead) would totally own the Coliseum. I felt that Guns N Roses would steal the show that night, given that they were the hometown boys who made it big.

To put it mildly, Guns N Roses sucked. There wasn’t much energy in the band and I wasn’t the only one there that thought they were just going through the motions. Years later, their lackadaisical performance that evening was explained on an episode of Behind the Music: they were going through a period of heavy drinking and drug use and would soon break up.

It’s a shame that Guns N Roses didn’t complete the trifecta of a brilliant night of rock music. Between the Stones and Living Colour, though, there were moments that will last my lifetime, whether it was Eric Clapton joining the Stones for a song or Vernon Reid launching into one of the Greatest Rock Riffs of All Time.

Day 113: Great Deal

Pacquiao-Mayweather tickets on Stubhub.

Pacquiao-Mayweather tickets on Stubhub.

There’s a great deal over on stubhub.com right now. Only $128, 705.25 for two ringside seats to the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight. That’s less than $65,000 per seat!

If I had 128,705 friends I could borrow a dollar from each of them and be in Las Vegas next Saturday night.

Note to self: make more friends before the next Fight of the Century.

Day 112: Fresh Off the End

image

Me, Jenny Yang, and Phil Yu on the set of Fresh Off the Show.

Last night I got to meet two of my favorite social media personalities, Phil Yu and Jenny Yang (as well as these good people). There was a screening of the Fresh Off the Boat season finale at the Japanese American National Museum, so Mrs. G. and I made the trip out from the Inland Empire. It was fun being part of the live studio audience for the Fresh Off the Show recap and review show hosted by Phil and Jenny. In keeping with the ’90s era of the show I wore my old Kobe No. 8 jersey for good luck, in hopes that ABC renews Fresh Off the Boat.

My wife and I always talk about how cool it is to not only have an Asian-American-themed show on network television, but also a fan show by and for Asian Americans. Phil and Jenny are the perfect hosts for the weekly review and discussion that followed each episode: they’re both intelligent, articulate, and funny. Last night’s wrap-up was more of the same, with a terrific panel discussion and free beer afterwards (unfortunately, the long trip home prevented us from partaking).

So, fingers crossed for another season of both shows. It just wouldn’t be right to end either after only one season. And I don’t want to wait another 20 years between Asian American comedies.

Day 111: Sunset Boulevard

Sunset Boulevard movie poster

Sunset Boulevard movie poster

(This is part of my ongoing series on my quest to watch all 100 of AFI’s Greatest American Films of All Time)

16. Sunset Boulevard

Widely considered a classic and ranked high up on AFI’s list of 100 Greatest American Films of All Time, I was looking forward to finally seeing Sunset Boulevard.

Confession: this was the third time I started Sunset Boulevard this year; the first two times I fell asleep before the half-hour mark and this third time I dozed off near the end, which required a rewind to finish the movie.

I now understand why people hold this film in such high regard: it’s a Hollywood film about Hollywood and all of its narcissist glory. For my generation, the film-about-Hollywood that best captured the spirit of Sunset Boulevard is The Player. Sunset Boulevard was the original The Player. The O.G. Player, if you will.

William Holden is solid as Joe Gillis, the screenwriter who stumbles into a former movie star Norma Desmond’s life. Gloria Swanson plays Desmond and I wasn’t a fan. She seems to be overacting in so many scenes. Perhaps this was in keeping with her character, but I didn’t like her performance as much as Holden’s. Truth be told, it’s Erich von Stroheim as the servant Max who is consistently good throughout the film.

One thing I did not like at all: Holden’s narration. Maybe this device was used more in the films of the era, but it has not aged well. At all. It’s unnecessary and it feels like director Billy Wilder didn’t trust his audience to figure things out by themselves. Whenever I heard the narration, I kept thinking, “This is the movies. There’s no reason to tell us something at the same time you’re showing it!”

Still, I liked the ending, as the Norma Desmond character utters her famous last line. It’s not a film I’d watch again, but I get why it’s on the AFI list and it seems like any serious cinephile should see it at least once.

3 out of 5 stars.

Day 110: Pursuit

image

My buddy scored a fantastic deal at Scholl Canyon Golf and Tennis Club: $10 for a round of golf, including the cart. It was the first time either of us had played the  course and we had a great time. The course winds through the canyons of Glendale, with some nice views of the city.

The highlight of the day was his eagle on the 15th. After sticking the green, he nailed a 50-foot putt. We both whooped it up like he’d won the Masters.

Since Scholl Canyon is an executive course (par 60), my way-under-100 score doesn’t count for my Break 100 goal. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get more deals like this so I don’t break my bank account in pursuit of my goal.

Day 109: Spring

81HPls1LSvL._SL1500_

For me, the beginning of spring is when I start to binge-sneeze and my eyes turn into the Niagara Falls. I’ve been fortunate that my allergies haven’t been bad these last few years, but they came back with a vengeance this afternoon. My body aches from the torrent of a-choos I unleashed today.

Desperate times call for desperate measures, so it’s time for another visit to Dr. Claritin.

Day 108: Riverside Tamale Festival

imageToday was one of those great random-type days. My wife had told me about the Riverside Tamale Festival earlier this year and we promptly forgot about it. This morning she noticed a reminder on her phone about the event. After a late breakfast, we drove out to Riverside and walked into the festivities at noon.

The festival was held at White Park and there was a terrific, low-key vibe throughout the area. There were a lot of families, all chowing down on tamales. I thought there might be more fusion/experimental tamales, but most were traditional (pork, chicken, chile and cheese, beef, along with some pineapple and strawberry dessert tamales). We were too full to try the cajun fusion tamale, but we loved the vegan sweet corn and poblano from Gourmet Tamales. Pictured above is the chipotle pork BBQ tamale from Me Gusta Gourmet Tamales, which lived up to its award-winning hype. The sweet masa in this tamale paired well with the pork.

We hung out for a few hours, enjoying the mariachi performances and all of our munchies. Since one can only do so many tamales on a warm day, we were grateful for the vendors offering pepinos (cucumbers served with chile and lemon) and raspados (snow cones with various ingredients; we shared a delicious coconut and tamarind mixture).

Afterwards, in keeping with today’s randomness theme, we stumbled upon the wonderful Center for Social Justice and Civil Liberties. Located next to White Park, the center is a resource for education about civil rights and social liberty in the mid to late 20th century. In a nice bit of kismet, the center is also the home of the Mine Okubo collection: Okubo was the writer and illustrator of Citizen 13660, one of my favorite books from my college days. I had no idea she was a Riverside native and the entire second floor of the center was dedicated to her artwork, which was bequeathed to Riverside City College after her death in 2001.

As we explored the exhibition, I thought about the first time I’d read Citizen 13660. My memory is a little fuzzy now, but I think it was for an Asian American history class. What I do remember, though, is how cool I thought it was that a graphic novel was being used in a college course.

I kept my copy for many years until recently, when I gave it to my stepdaughter. I hope it moves her like it did me; it’s a remarkable work and a classic of Asian-American literature.

 

 

Day 107: Calamansi Juice

Calamansi Juice

Calamansi Juice

There’s a produce vendor at my local farmers market that I’ve become friendly with and one day I asked if he could get calamansi for me. None of the other vendors had it, but being a kababayan I had a feeling he’d be able to find some for me. He promised that he’d have some the following week and true to his word, he had a few pounds of freshly picked calamansi.

The calamansi is a small tart fruit that Filipinos use in many dishes. Healthy trees bear fruit all year long; it’s typically squeezed onto pancit or sisig, but it can be used in a variety of ways. It’s used in my favorite dessert these days, mango empanadas, and after I had made my latest batch, I had plenty of calamansi left over.

There was only one thing to do with all of that fruit, of course: juice it. My parents made this throughout my childhood, a cure for whatever illness my brothers or I had. My dad liked to serve it hot and it did seem to have magical healing powers, but I prefer the ice cold version. With the weather jumping back to the 80s, the juice on the rocks is my preferred way to keep cool.

For anyone who can find some of this delicious fruit, here’s a simple recipe for calamansi juice.

 

Day 106: We’re Home

Chewie, we're home.

Chewie, we’re home.

When I woke up this morning, I had something that I wanted to blog about. I don’t remember what that something was, because this happened:

Wow. This second teaser is even better than the first one. J.J. Abrams certainly knows how to tug on the collective Star Wars fanbase’s heart strings: Luke’s narration, Vader’s mask, Leia’s hand, Artoo, then BANG! Han and Chewie!

I believe the Internet’s reaction went something like this:

ZOMG!!!

All of us fanboys/girls were blubbering idiots today.

Tonight I showed it to my parents, who took me to the see the original so many moons ago. Their reactions as we watched:

[Vader’s mask] Mom: Uh oh, not that guy.
[R2-D2] Mom: Yay, R2-D2! He’s my favorite.
[Han and Chewie] Mom: Harrison Ford looks old.
Pop: Chewbacca looks the same.
Mom: Let’s go see it this Christmas!
Pop: Better get in line now.

Is it December 18th yet?