I work out at a YMCA on Sawtelle, at a five-block section of West LA which is full of Asian (mostly Japanese) restaurants and clothing shops and so forth. Some restaurants stay forever, while other spaces have businesses come and go in a constantly shifting rotation.

They now have Seoul Sausage, featuring kalbi sausage, tasting, yes, like kalbi and served with kimchi "slaw," and also (no, I won't try it) kalbi sausage poutine. Also Korean corn silk tea, which is like barley tea but even better: earthy but delicate, with an intense corn flavor, but not sweet.

On Saturdays, after I lift weights, I walk to the Japanese market and buy a cold bottled barley tea and a cooked-to-order okonomiyaki from the vendors outside, with their steel grill to cook the savory pancakes with shredded cabbage and two strips of bacon, topped with two sauces and a handful of dried bonito flakes.

Yesterday I checked out a new ramen restaurant. (That makes six in five blocks.) It had a printed sign posted on a podium outside, which began, "Some time ago, we died at a very popular restaurant in Tokyo." It went on to explain how that restaurant had inspired them to open one in LA.

You may have figured this out already, but I was baffled. I wondered if "to die" was an overly literal translation of some Japanese idiom - perhaps related to the old-fashioned English "to die," meaning, "to have an orgasm."

Then I saw the same sign in the restaurant's window, with a small alteration. In ball-point pen, a carat and the letter "n" had been inserted in the appropriate place over "died."
rachelmanija: (Default)
( Jul. 7th, 2012 12:44 pm)
1. Can someone link me to the very funny review of Dan Wells' I Am Not A Serial Killer? I remember them making the point that sociopaths are not typically deeply concerned about the fact that they lack empathy.

2. What Would MacGyver Do?: True Stories of Improvised Genius in Everyday Life. Note title.

Randomly chosen story of improvised genius # 1: People annoyed at inability to bathe and resultant stinkiness caused by water shortage during hot summer get the genius idea to... wear cologne.

Randomly chosen story of improvised genius # 2: Writer hired to write story for book realizes that she has no story, and gets the genius idea to... recount the plot of a MacGyver episode as if happened to her.

3. If you live in Los Angeles, I have found the best tempura bowl in the city. It's the newly opened Hannosuke (other location in Tokyo) at Mitsuwa Market on the west side.

I had a good feeling when I saw that it served exactly two things: the tempura bowl with whitefish, and the same tempura bowl with eel. I haven't tried the eel, but the whitefish bowl is amazing. There is a fried soft-boiled egg, which you break and mix into the rice. The sauce is at the bottom of the bowl, so you have to stir well. The bowl includes crispy nori, perfectly (lightly) cooked shrimp and teeny scallops, a pepper, a prawn, and a slice of sweet potato. It is perfection. Here's some photos.

4. Apparently Betsey Johnson is going out of business? I am sad. And also madly dashing to her two stores in LA today. I realize that I do not have any actual need for adorable and totally work-inappropriate girly dresses, but she is my favorite designer and there could be some great deals. Maybe I can wear them while visiting my mom in Asheville, North Carolina, where she is currently hanging out with the apparently sizable Baba community there.
rachelmanija: (OTP LA: palm trees)
( Feb. 22nd, 2011 09:09 am)
I went down the waterfall trail, rather than Trippet, as the former looked shorter and easier. Ha ha. It was until I hit the point where you have to hike in a creek swirling over large boulders interspersed with three-foot pools, and then climb up what looked like an easy scramble up a slab of knobbly rock, but was actually not, as the knobs were all smooth, wet, and slippery. I only made it up because a hiker who was already up gave me a hand.

The descent was even hairier, as you can't get an assist from either above or below. I passed down my backpack and shoes to the same helpful hiker, and only made it down on the strength of my bare toes. I expected to feel like I'd been hit by a train today - I haven't rock-climbed in years - but I'm not sore at all, so I guess I'm in better shape than I thought. Nice to know!

The waterfall is small but pretty, falling across a mossy cave and producing a small rainbow. An odd mix of succulents and ferns cling to the sheer granite cliffs surrounding it, like individual hanging gardens.

The hikers were mostly concentrated near the waterfall itself (there was a small traffic jam produced by the difficulty of the final climb) so I had my picnic elsewhere, by the shadowed banks of the creek further down, in solitude. I had the sushi hand roll special from my neighborhood market (tuna roll, spicy tuna roll, mackerel roll, eel roll), a tuna onigiri, a small cake, and two bottles of Pocari Sweat, the Japanese sports drink which advertises itself, rather disgustingly, as "the exact composition of human body fluid."

I seem to have successfully evaded the poison oak, which is amazing considering how much there was (at some points, on both sides of the very narrow path and reaching in), so it was a success all round.
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rachelmanija: (Default)
( Feb. 21st, 2011 10:41 am)
Will be scarce online until my laptop comes back from the repair shop, or, worst case, I acquire a new one.)

Due to the combination of President's Day (no classes), the cancellation of the thing I had planned to do today, and the impossibility of working without a computer, I am going to put together a picnic and go commune with nature. For safety purposes since I'm going by myself, it's the Santa Inez/Trippet trail at Topanga Park. (Don't freak! It is well-marked, well-populated, and I am a knowledgeable hiker.)

I briefly explored it yesterday, after passing the sign every time I went to coach one of my students but never having time or being there at a good hiking time. But since it was spur of the moment, I wasn't properly shod and couldn't get on the waterfall trail at all, as it was too slippery/muddy. The trail criss-crossed a rushing creek, helpfully laid out with strategically placed stepping stones or logs. It was very green, and branches and vines met overhead for much of the trail, so I seemed to walk through a low, narrow tunnel made of trees.

The trail was also, alas, lined with poison oak (leaflets three, let it be), green edged with red and glistening as if dipped in oil. I kept my arms tight in to my body and threw everything in the wash, and myself in the shower, as soon as I got home.

I didn't spot much wildlife, other than hikers, but the calmer pools of the creek were full of water skaters, tiny feet dimpling the clear water.
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Yesterday I attended Eat LACMA. (Details in previous post.) It was a madhouse, a zoo, a carnival. The majority of the participants had pretty clearly been selected more for entertainment and weirdness value than for being great artists, which I must say I'm fine with.

The museum is usually pretty packed on weekends, but this festival brought out the crowds, including many very happy small children. Some art project involved sticking colored dots on people, and as the day wore on more and more people became covered in dots. A kid stealthily stuck some on me as we sat watching a dance. I pretended not to notice.

Upon exiting the elevator, I noticed six people marching past, dressed as a pink cable car, and followed by two kids dressed as ghosts. I'm not sure whether or not the kids were part of the cable car.

A very large marching band was marching around. Most of the men were sedately dressed in black, and most of the women were less sedately dressed in black loligoth outfits, but some were in random street clothes. All of them had their faces painted in vaguely kabuki-esque red, black, and white makeup.

There was a giant white wall with doughnuts, some with bite-marks, hanging from nails. People were wandering up and eating the doughnuts, or (like me) looking suspiciously and then backing off.

A woman sat at a table with stacks of zines and questionnaires, brown-painted styrofoam, and a giant mound of fudge.

"What's this about?" asked a passerby.

The woman smiled seraphically. "Poop. Want to fill out a questionnaire?"

"What's it about?"

"Poop."

Another passerby poked the styrofoam. "What's this for?"

Poop Woman, deadpan. "It's meant to be... suggestive. Want some fudge?"

After that, I did not want any fudge. I filled out the questionnaire: "Do any foods remind you of poop?" Me: "As of right now, FUDGE."

A dominatrix in a red, white, and blue gown, Miss Barbie-Q, held a watermelon-eating contest, with participants encased in trash bags to confine their arms, and strolled around with a megaphone, commanding, "EAT IT! EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT IT!"

Marionettes ate "peas" for an enthralled audience of small kids and their parents. People were inveigled into dressing in biohazard suits "On order of M.O.L.D" to investigate a plastic-tarped shack with mold inside. An artist ground up a piece of LACMA's interior wall, baked it into sugar candy, and fed it to passersby. Kids were digging up potatoes. Boom Boom, a huge guy with heavy eye makeup wearing nothing but black spandex shorts, strolled around with an attendant shading him with a teeny Japanese parasol, and then sat down on the steps, where a large meal and a copy of Food and Wine magazine were placed, to "eat for your amusement." An elevator I innocently stepped into contained an extremely creepy ancient mummified autumn queen eating... something... as spooky music played.

I was admiring a woman's avant-garde black and white dress with a train of cloth dots when I realized that the train was composed of separate strands. "Tim Gunn would say it looks like octopus tentacles," I thought. The woman noticed me staring and beckoned me after her, into the Korean Gallery. It turned out that she was doing a dance/performance piece, "Know the Taste of Korean Pan-Fried Octopus?"

My favorite piece involves 12 participants in street clothes and safety goggles, stadium seating, a three-sided (and floored) white enclosure with twelve-foot walls but no ceiling, and 10,000 canned stewed tomatoes. This attracted a giant crowd. I was wedged in with two small children.

Small child: "I'm six. She's five. How old... wait... are you a grown-up?"

Me, regretful: "Yes."

Small child, disappointed: "Oh."

The tomato-throwers, assisted by three people madly opening cans of tomatoes backstage and rushing in and out to take away empty tomato buckets and replace them with full ones, began hurling tomatoes at each other.

This was clearly a classic Happening: put the ingredients and simple instructions together, then go at it. Like all good Happenings, it was enthralling. Stanislavsky created the Method when he saw how audiences were always fascinated by real things happening onstage, even normal ordinary things like someone frying an egg. Put people on a stage or in front of a camera, and suddenly everything they do is interesting. It focuses the audience's attention on individual and group dynamics. Of course it helps if you're also hurling tomatoes.

The safety goggles were lost almost instantly. Teams formed, then broke up. Tomatoes flew into the audience and were flung back. The backstage crew began tossing tomatoes from backstage. The people onstage began randomly chucking tomatoes back over the wall. So many tomatoes accumulated that people began doing the backstroke. The people onstage turned on the assistants and attacked them with tomatoes. They became exhausted and collapsed to the floor, still flinging tomatoes from kneeling positions.

At the end, they bowed and we applauded. Then an evil woman in the audience began stomping on the bleachers, yelling "Encore!"

The tomato people staggered to their feet and began hurling tomatoes once more, with no aim whatsoever. Tomatoes were flying straight up in the air. The audience fled for their lives.
The LA County Museum of Art is hosting an all-day giant food-and-weirdness festival, TOMORROW, for one day only!

But a few of the many featured attractions:

JEANNE DUNNING
Tomato Fight
10,000 ripe tomatoes. 10 eager performers. Come and watch the splatter.

MACHINE PROJECT (& FRIENDS)
Electric Melon Drum Circle
Participants make amplified melons using contact microphones, and then perform together in a facilitated melon percussion group. Afterwards, they eat the instruments.

STEPHEN VAN DYCK
Chewing Carolers
A chorus of four people dressed in food service outfits serenading dining guests with rehearsed chewing, smacking and guttural sounds.

SUNG-YUN PARK (WITH SOOK SHIM)
Know the Taste of Korean Pan-Fried Octopus?
Some flavors cannot be translated. A dance performance.

KAREN ATKINSON, JOHN BURTLE, ARI KLETZKY, OWEN DRIGGS
Islands of LA Presents Roots of Compromise, 2010
The artists attempted to plant a garden of radishes on the traffic island closest to LACMA, negotiating with all the required city and civic bureaucracies. Their title evokes the relationship between “radicality,” a word with the same root as “radish,” and compromise.

JONATHAN GOLD
Spamburgers and Other Delights
LA Weekly food critic reads “Spam, the American Meat,” written especially for this event.

KAREN BLACK
On Fruit
Miss Black reads poetry and sings about the wonders of fruit. [Rachel's note: When I read a few attractions aloud to a local friend, she mused, "I saw Karen Black perform once. She did an obscene act with a sweet potato." Me: "Maybe she'll do another one with a pluot!"]

EMILY KATRENCIK
A Freedom Granted Is Not a Freedom Until It Is Expressed
A portion of the interior museum wall removed, the edible portions ground up as an ingredient in a sugar-based Your chance to actually eat LACMA!
Ahmanson 2 Lobby:
All day, while supplies last

7. MICOL HEBRON
Bubble Gum Pop
A participatory chorus of synchronized bubble gum pops. Gum will be provided and then taken away.

ANNA HOMLER
(WITH JORGE MARTIN)
The Mystery of the Knife, Fork and Spoon.
The secret lives of eating utensils are explored through spoken-word, songs in alien languages and sonic manipulation.

I am on call, but hopefully won't get called and can attend for at least some of it. This sounds like a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
rachelmanija: (Challah)
( Sep. 10th, 2010 11:14 am)
For everyone who's celebrating, Eid Mubarak!

Also, in case anyone was wondering, the Sekrit Career Issue of Doom was resolved in probably the best way possible given the circumstances. I'm just happy it's no longer hanging menacingly over my head.

Yesterday I went to the beach and cast bread crumbs upon the waters. (Italian-flavored, according to the carton.) A great many people on the beach for other reasons periodically wandered by and stared in perplexity at all the Jews singing in Hebrew and hurling the bread crumbs of sin into the ocean. Then we all sat down on towels and had a picnic supplied, in my case, by the local Japanese market.

A small storm had cast thousands and thousands of little live crustaceans in colorful closed shells on to the beach, most smaller than my little fingernail and some the size of the letters I type. I don't know how long they'll survive - many were well above the tide line - but under the water I could see them extending fans of translucent feelers to catch plankton. Or Italian-flavored breadcrumbs.
rachelmanija: (OTP LA: palm trees)
( Jul. 14th, 2010 05:44 pm)
I'm meeeeelting, I'm meeeeelting!
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Last week I was at the Jim Henson Company, and a guy I know, a musician who works at the music studio which shares the lot, came up and said, "Got fifteen minutes? Want to see something amazing?"

I followed him into the music building, where I got to watch and listen to Abe Laboriel Jr, a drummer and the son of a famous bass player, drum on a track that was being recorded for... a singer-songwriter whose name I didn't recognize, sorry. His drumming was amazing and he moved like a dancer, like he'd lost himself in music, so fluid and impassioned and graceful that I could have watched him with the sound off.

I wish I could share that session with you all, but since I can't, have some videos instead, though they don't do anything like justice to being able to watch him from ten feet away, in bright light and with nothing between us but a pane of glass:

Assorted videos.
Last week I was at the Jim Henson Company, and a guy I know, a musician who works at the music studio which shares the lot, came up and said, "Got fifteen minutes? Want to see something amazing?"

I followed him into the music building, where I got to watch and listen to Abe Laboriel Jr, a drummer and the son of a famous bass player, drum on a track that was being recorded for... a singer-songwriter whose name I didn't recognize, sorry. His drumming was amazing and he moved like a dancer, like he'd lost himself in music, so fluid and impassioned and graceful that I could have watched him with the sound off.

I wish I could share that session with you all, but since I can't, have some videos instead, though they don't do anything like justice to being able to watch him from ten feet away, in bright light and with nothing between us but a pane of glass:

Assorted videos.
rachelmanija: (Default)
( Mar. 26th, 2010 12:21 pm)
Yesterday Oyce and I drove to Torrance for the excellent Korean fried chicken at Kyochon, and it was... closed! OH NOES! Seriously, I am baffled by this. It's a popular chain and certainly seemed busy every time we were there before.

So we drove to Sue's Kitcher, a Chinese place, and got fried fish (best eaten on the spot, not as take-out, I now realize), noodles, scallion pancakes, and various sides of greens, pickles, tea eggs, mabo tofu, etc. Very good. We will have leftovers for lunch today.

While eating, we watched Top Chef Masters, the episode which introduces bad-ass chef Anita Lo, she of the infinite range of dour expressions. She made truffled eggs in the half-shell with one hand tied behind her back - literally! She made steak tartare enclosed in a braised daikon atop a seascape with wave noises! She chopped onions at lightning speed without looking down and while carrying on a conversation! The other three chefs occasionally glanced at her with the expressions of gunslingers in the presence of the Man With No Name.

When she said, "Hmmm," Oyce pointed out that if you gave her glasses, a gender-switch, and slightly longer hair, she would be Jin from Samurai Champloo. Oyce then noticed that her chef's top was actually a gi!

We then went to Clementine for afternoon tea, featuring delicious tea sandwiches (gravlax, turkey with sun-dried tomatoes, egg salad, and cucumber) and currant scones with clotted cream and extraordinary, spoon-licking homemade soft strawberry preserves. Due to Sue's Kitchen, we have leftovers (not of the cream or jam).

And then! We met up with [personal profile] yhlee and her lizard (child), and took them to dinner. I kind of liked Sue's Kitchen better, but was thrilled with free surprise soup dumplings, even if they were not up to Din Tai Fung standards. The lizard, even more surprisingly, was also thrilled with the dumplings and ate three. While driving back, the lizard happily murmured about "Legendary Flamingo," which ought to be a shounen attack. "Lengendary Flamingo! Engage!"

And THEN, Oyce and I watched the first episode of Project Runway ever! She had never seen first season (so please don't spoil her.) We were delighted by Austin Scarlet, who seemed to have escaped from From Eroica With Love. (By the way, that must take incredible courage for a guy that age to have already constructed a persona like that - even in New York City.) We also want to know how he gets his hair to do that.

Also, we boggled at Heidi Klum in a KISS T-shirt and models in jeans, and were appalled by Wendy Pepper's candy bikini and other horrors, like a five-minute shower curtain dress. And also how everyone kept ignoring Tim Gunn! We hope they will soon appreciate his awesomeness.
[personal profile] oyceter is here! We had to lurk near my house yesterday, because I was on call and, should I be summoned, would have to leave on a moment's notice. This led to me leaving her the following message before she arrived:

"If you get here and I'm not here, I've left the house keys under the pot with a dead plant. Under the dead plant. ... In the smallest pot with a dead plant."

Luckily I was not summoned. Either nothing bad happened in Culver City last night, or nobody needed counseling because there were no survivors.

We went to Fatburger, where I inhaled a burger with a fried egg (so delicious!) and extra-crispy fries in record time, with one eye on my phone.

Then we returned to my house and re-watched the episode of Project Runway in which Emilio is forced to construct an eye-bleedingly horrific bikini made of washers and pink twine. I don't know if my very favorite moment was Emilio counting the washers for the third time in the hope that they had spontaneously multiplied, or Anthony remarking, "I don't think it's in the best of taste... Being a lady will never go out of fashion."

The fact that the trainwreck occurred to the imperturbable Emilio, hitherto known for good and rather conservative taste, made this episode a Project Runway classic. If you recall my "anime personality" analysis of reality TV characters, Emilio is clearly a Shigure-esque mild-mannered secret mastermind... having a very, very bad day.

Today we may have to re-watch the "cat in a sling" episode. I suggested to Oyce that she learn to vid so she can vid PR's most "what were they thinking" moments, of which Amy's hair breast bowl and clown fish pants should figure prominently. Also Melvin's pregnant bird (Tim Gunn: "But Melvin, do women want to look like they have chicken thighs?") and Wendy Pepper's candy bikini (which Emilio's pink washer horror strongly resembled.)

Then we watched a hilarious Korean movie, My Girlfriend is a Secret Agent, in which a highly competent and hot-tempered female agent, first seen firing a gun from a speedboat while wearing full bridal regalia, is involved with a highly incompetent but very sweet man who is also a secret agent. Needless to say neither knows of the other's secret identity. The "bb-gun" and "lobster mallet" and "horse-riding" scenes were comic gold. The male lead reminded me of the young Steve Martin, back when he did more physical comedy.

And then, since my on-call time had elapsed, we rushed to Beard Papa for coffee cream puffs (Oyce) and chocolate molten cake (me). Across the street was a Korean taco truck! But not the famous Kogi, a rip-off different Korean taco truck. We ran to it just in time to obtain a kimchi quesadilla (Oyce) and Korean barbecue pork taco (me.) They were quite good, especially with the sweet-and-sour dipping sauce.

We returned to my apartment and watched American Idol, which except for Siobhan and the Melissa Etheredge-esque Crystal Bowersox, I am not impressed with.

Finally, I want to note that though my apartment has been spider-free since Oyce's last visit, a large shelob appeared on my bedroom wall and began to menacingly approach the bed. I attacked it with a telescoping thing (I just asked Oyce what she thought it was, and she didn't know. Some sort of scrubber on a pole), but it telescoped, propelling the spider, possibly still alive, to parts unknown. I hid under the covers, leaving Oyce to her fate.
Last night I took [livejournal.com profile] coraa and her boy out to one of my favorite restaurants, the izakaya (Japanese pub) Furaibo. To my delight, Furaibo has added some new items, several of which we tried: yellowtail kama (grilled "collar"), chicken with ume and shiso (chicken was a bit overcooked), and fried rice with kimchi and smoked sausage, which was delicious and of which the leftovers are in my fridge. Also devoured: the famous teba saki chicken wings, garlic sprouts with bacon, sweet potato cakes, and ochazuke (rice soup with salmon and seaweed.)

Afterward, I walked them by Tomato Bank and into a shop where I bought erasers shaped like emergency equipment, like a fire hydrant and road cones, and two forks. [livejournal.com profile] coraa bought miniature plastic comfort food. There were some gorgeous detailed Death Note figurines, and [livejournal.com profile] coraa asked about the show. I said it was a lot of mindgames, frequently expressed as, "So if I know that he knows that I know that he knows that I know that he..."

The saleslady, who was also familiar with the series, burst out laughing.

Then we went to Beard Papa and had molten chocolate cakes. And then I gave her some light reading for the plane. She isn't sure which to tackle first, so please go over and help her decide.
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Random dude: "Yeah, his wife owns a hippo rescue."
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Yesterday I was walking to a PetCo to buy baby crickets for a bearded dragon I'm lizard-sitting when I noticed a small crowd around the deck outside of the store. A bulldog was happily skateboarding around the deck!

It wasn't an event; the dog's owner was just there hanging out, and he'd brought Tillman's skateboard so he could entertain himself. I chatted with the owner, and he told me that if I typed "Tillman skateboarding dog" into youtube, I'd find lots of videos. And I did. If you do, you will too.
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A large, multiracial, multi-aged group of protesters are currently marching past my apartment, armed with signs, banners, and noisemakers.

I live in a residential neighborhood. People do not come to my neighborhood to protest. Except, apparently, a lot of vegans today.

"Go vegans! Save the planet!
No meat! Feed the planet!"

Some of them are dressed as cows, chickens, pigs, grapes, carrots, Mickey Mouse (Mickey Mice?), dinosaurs, crows, and fairies.

Cars are honking in support.

This is extremely surreal.
rachelmanija: (Default)
( Feb. 12th, 2009 10:42 am)
Taco truck plus Twitter plus Korean barbecue plus social phenomenon equals news story.

It started with a 4 a.m. glass of Champagne and a carne asada taco after a night of serious bar hopping. Thirty-year-old Mark Manguera was sitting with his 25-year-old sister-in-law, Alice Shin (his wife Caroline was already sleeping soundly), when the taste of L.A.'s most ubiquitous street food caused him to have a drunken revelation.

"I'm biting into my taco and it dawned on me, 'Alice, wouldn't it be great if someone put Korean barbecue on a taco?,' " recalls Manguera, who is Filipino but married into a Korean family.


No, I haven't tried Kogi, though the Venice Beach vegan black sesame seed jelly special makes me really want to, but I have now added this to the LA pantheon of fusion cuisine, from the kosher Chinese restaurants to Oki Dog's pastrami burrito. (I did try the latter. Once.)

Kogi Korean BBQ taco truck. Do watch the video.
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