Monday, January 29, 2007


Ohhhh, how I heart dim sum!!

Are you fortunate enough to know what dim sum is? It's delicious, is what it is. Bascially, for the uninitiated, dim sum is a brunchtime treat of little Chinese snackies, dumplings, steamed buns, and fried stuff (fried stuff!) all dipped in your own combination of soy and chili sauce and washed down with unlimited piping hot tea. Impatient and usually incomprehensible (unless of course, you speak Cantonese) Chinese ladies walk carts around with their various offerings and you pick and choose the ones that you want. You can have your table laden with goodies in minutes. You continue to collect trays upon trays of food until you can not eat another bite. It's truly something quite magnificent.

My favorite places for dim sum are in San Francisco. Yank Sing and Ton Kiang. They are a little more expensive than other dim sum places, but said to rival the top places in Hong Kong, where the dim sum is purported to be at it's apex. I'm still eagerly awaiting the opportunity to verify this claim for myself.....

So, yesterday, in an effort to find the most excellent dim sum in the area, four friends and I took a trek out to San Gabriel Valley for some fine feasting. This is the heart of dim sum dining in the greater LA area. Now, I had been to a couple dim sum places in LA before, and been disappointed compared to what I was used to up north. However, in this instance I-wanted-some-damn-dumplings-and-I-wanted-them-now! so I was willing to go in with an open mind. For this weekend's outing, Theo recommended NBC Seafood.

All of the big dim sum compounds are designed in much the same way: with high volume in mind. The places are palatial. We got to the place around 11 am, and pulled a numbered ticket, like waiting in line at a deli. There are mad people there, and predominantly Asian. Young, old, babies, invalids..... all waiting for their moment of glory within the fortress of food. We wait. I think about 40 minutes pass. I am with four dudes, all starving. I mean, I can't lie, I'm pretty famished myself. After minute 20, I think someone in our group goes up to check if our number has been called every 2 minutes. Finally, finally!, we get the signal. Our table is ready.

Let the eating commence! Off to a tearing start, it's an ordering frenzy. Among the treats we sampled: shrimp in rice noodles, pork short ribs with rice, roast duck with plum sauce, fried turnip cake, pork buns, the ubiquitous siu mai dumplings (pork dumplings, pictured right), also-popular har gow (shrimp dumplings, pictured above), shrimp fried in seaweed, and scallop dumplings. The only notable absence for me was the fried taro, one of my all-time favorite dim sum staples, which they informed us they had run out of.

We start slowing down.
No one wants to admit defeat. The rookies drop out first, I think due to their zeal, then Eric Luther Ling and I start to get full, still reaching out for the occasional bite of pork bun or crispy shrimp. However, in the end, the clear winner was Theo, who had enough room to consume a bowl of preserved-egg porridge and still be able to share some mango pudding with me.

So the dim sum in Monterey Park was a resounding success! We all left full to capacity, our happy bellies stuffed with dumpling goodness. And the total cost of this awesomeness? $13 per person, including tax and generous tip. $13! For the amount we ate, that is criminally cheap. So the next Saturday or Sunday morning you are pondering how best to relieve your hangover haze, might I suggest some medicinal tea and a metric ton of Chinese delicacies. Just travel due east on the 10 towards the SGV, or head towards your nearest respective Chinatown equivalent. I promise you will not regret it. Hooray for dumplings!

Friday, January 12, 2007

concert in review: Justin!

I like to think I have decent taste in music. I mean, everyone likes to imagine they do, right? I like a pretty wide range of music, and I think I am open to a lot. However, there are definitely musical groups that make it into my rotation that I am not entirely proud of. I don't have a huge appetite for cheesy, but certain songs and/or "artists" (I don't mean to abuse the term) just hit the spot for me. I'm sorry! I like Kelly Clarkson! I like that annoyingly catchy Beyoncé song! And yes, sometimes I dance around in my room alone to Mariah Carey. I know, it's embarrassing, you're probably going to cancel your trips to The Heathernet, and I can't say I blame you. I am ashamed. I do draw the line at anything Fergalicious, but again, it's a thin line, and I don't even know if I could tell you where it starts or stops. [btw, sharing the Mariah Carey thing is huge for me. I hope you appreciate that and will keep that in mind to reconsider coming back to The Heathernet.]

Teetering somewhere along this fine line is Justin Timberlake.
You may remember him as the young gentleman currently bringing sexy back. On Tuesday night, I shared an intimate evening with Justin and approximately 18,000 screaming ladies in Anaheim, California. Never have I been in such a concentrated throng of women, much less ones so acutely focused on a singular goal: sleeping with Justin Timberlake.

I am assuming that most of his fan base present were grown-up versions of the N'SYNC fans Justin had accumulated at the beginning of the millenium. So the 11-year-old prepubescent in 1999 was now the supremely mature 19-year-old coed. Being that the show was in Anaheim, also consider the effect of the Orange-County-dynamic to the make up of the audience. And the additional info that Justin and Cameron have just called it quits. So, you have the 19-year-old OC girl who imagines she is going home with JT after the concert. From what I could tell, this was your typical audience member.

And while my girlfriends and I all obviously enjoyed the 2+ hours of JT time, surprisingly captivated by his experience there was my friend's boyfriend. I mean, here you are, in an arena normally home to hockey games and other demonstrations of masculine sportsmanship, now occupied by literally, thousands of fanatic, rabid young ladies. If I felt that the environment was all a bit surreal, how was he holding up? I tried to gauge if he looked uncomfortable or bored, but he looked engaged in the whole affair. I imagine it must have been like secret access to girl world, like sneaking into a gigantic sorority. And I think he enjoyed being privvy to all this; as you might surmise, the people watching was pretty rich.

And JT himself? I can tell you this: the man is talented. He can sing, he can move, he can play the electronic keyboard like a guitar! He was on stage bopping around for over 2 hours, sending out sexy vibes the entire time! I was exhausted and I was sitting down half the time. He played almost every conceivable song in his repertoire, except maybe his laudable classic, Dick in a Box. Given his wide range of skills and dedicated showmanship, I should have no problem owning up to the fact that I love him. And neither should my friend's boyfriend, or anyone else for that matter! In fact, maybe I can inspire others to own up to their particular taste for what they consider embarrassing tunes, because it happens to the best of us. So you secretly love R. Kelly? I may not be able to support your decision, but I can encourage you: go ahead and admit it.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

fuck magic.

I have a serious issue with magicians. I don't like them. But why?, you ask, magic is so innocuous, so entertaining! Well, for starters, they are cheesy as fuck. Exhibit A, on the right. Yes guy, you truly look powerful summoning the properties of water and fire and your pleather pants to mystically suspend your lady friend over your head. Look at that smug look of achievement and confidence; he really looks convinced that he has in fact been endowed with supreme magical powers.

Which leads me to one of my main issues with magicians, which is that they are inherently fradulent. There is no real "magic" happening - it's all tricks and deception! To me, they are the equivalent of trumped up carnies, and I think we already know where I stand on that issue. They're grifters masquerading as entertainment. I just have a problem with the guy who is like, you know what? I want to earn my living through trickery. Shady, people.

This new generation of celebrity-magicians is equally distressing. Criss Angel (yes, he spells his name "Criss") and Satan incarnate, David Blaine. I hear they have beef too, like they are rival magic-trick-performing gang members. You're magicians! Do you understand how lame that is?? Do you think you are Tupac and Biggie? You make things "levitate" and put playing cards inside of car windows. Not the same.

Holding your breath underwater or living in an aqua-sphere for a week is not magic. No sir, that is what carnies call a "freakshow". Now here is what really pisses me off. So immediately after David Blaine completes his fantastical accomplishment of living underwater for a week, he collapses and must be rushed to the hospital where a team of doctors and nurses must now attend to his ailing internal organs. So here are medical staff and resources being used on some idiot who decided to give being a merman a try, taking time and attention away from people with actual, serious medical conditions. David Blaine, you are an idiot.

My coworker John swears my belief system is all wrong. In fact, he asserts that women LOVE magicians. He claims that if David Blaine came-a-courting, I would be all about it. Of course, as outlined above, this does not hold true in my case, and I would sooner go out with an aspiring actor. But I still just don't buy it! Ladies? Do you agree? Some cheesy guy comes up to you at a bar with a card trick, does this impress you?? I am inclined to disagree, but perhaps I am in the minority... varying viewpoints, anyone? Please, enlighten me, though I will not be easily convinced. And in the meantime, a message to would-be magicians everywhere: do everyone a favor, leave the magic to Harry Potter.