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Showing posts from March, 2011

mean girls all grown up

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A long time ago, my sister gave me a card that said “God made us sisters, but we made us friends.” We quoted it often, always with a sappy smile and a tilt of the head. Among the things we share is a gleeful disdain for schmaltz. But now when we quote it, there’s all this... sincerity lurking behind the irony. Cathy and I fought ruthlessly when we were kids. My My Little Ponies would get all Mean Girls on hers. I smacked her around (lightly!). She knew it wasn’t cool to tattle, so she’d wait until our mom was in the room and say to me, “I can’t believe you hit me that one time earlier today!” Sometime during my senior year of high school, though, we started really liking each other. Christian Bale and Newsies played an important part in our bonding, but it continued when I went away to UCLA the next year. When I came home for the weekend, she and I would stay up late talking about our post-Christian crushes, hers on her co-bandleader, mine on my gay (male) R.A. Both were u

books! they're full of useful information! who knew?

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So, I think I've discovered a new use for books. In the many and sometimes tedious conversations I've been involved in surrounding the Future of Books, I've always been a strident advocate for long-form storytelling while maintaining a careful anti-Luddite stance. Of course the technology will change. The point is what you consume, not how. But in forming this view, I've mostly considered fiction. When it comes to fiction, I want a whole, literary experience. I'm much less fussy about nonfiction: Give me half a New Yorker article, a top-of-the-hour NPR headline or a fact gleaned from any website that's not teeming with bad grammar and pop-up ads, and I'm happy. Lately, though, the latter has been giving me problems. I mean, I know the internet is full of alarming half-truths that will make you crazy . This is not news to anyone. But the internet is also strangely finite in its infinity. You can find 752 telling you about the mating habits of koalas, and

we meet again

This morning I sat down and wrote for the first time in a full month. My novel was like, Do you even know who I am anymore? And I was like, Do you know who I am? But we were mostly able to pick up where we left off, even though I think we both maintained a wary fear of abandonment. I try not to be too hard on myself for not writing. The nice thing about being a writer (or erstwhile writer) is that everything you do when you’re not writing is arguably fodder for when you are. I’ve been doing some living lately. Also some sleeping and watching of Gossip Girl . (I am not at all comfortable with my no-longer-deniable crush on Blake Lively. I know she’s not in high school in real life, but I’m easily old enough to have been her babysitter.) Anyway, for now I’m back. It feels fragile and good.

sophie t., fried soup and noah the sorbet guy

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I’m on the last day of a quick work trip to San Francisco, during which time I’ve squeezed in a few visits with friends, meaning I’ve eaten a lot of good food. After navigating the 5 in taillights-in-the-mist weather, AK and I drove into SF just as it was shaking off the storm it had sent south and bunked with Nerissa and Edric at their new place in Millbrae. Millbrae is sort of the San Gabriel Valley of the Bay—an urban-ish burb with lots of good Chinese food. We ate Shanghai-style dumplings (dim sum for dinner—who knew?) and then wandered into a place called 100% Healthy Dessert . The walls were covered with posters of bright mango- and gelatin-laden concoctions with names I can only describe as pseudo-Franco-Chinglish—stuff like “gui ling gao coco durian de tadpole.” That’s not the name of an actual dish. I probably just described a bastardized nonexistent Frankenfood, although all the offerings sort of seemed like bastardized nonexistent Frankenfoods in the best, chewiest,

l.a. stories

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Five years ago Saturday, AK and I had our first date at Akbar. I’d messaged her on MySpace—remember MySpace?—because she’d listed “the dirty parts of L.A.” as one of her interests. After gritting my teeth for years as my ex pondered moving to Michigan or Singapore, it was a huge relief to discover how much AK and I both loved our adopted hometown, which was forty and twenty miles away, respectively, from our actual hometowns. So it made sense to celebrate our fifth anniversary by seeing Los Angeles Plays Itself , a documentary about L.A.’s many movie roles that is equally famous for the fact that it will never be released on DVD because buying the rights to all those movie clips is unfathomably expensive. We caught one of the film’s semiannual screenings at the Aero Theatre , and I proceeded to geek out for the next three hours. It’s worth the time commitment to see clips from little known movies like The Exiles , famous ones like Blade Runner and classics I’ve missed, like K

battle cry of the relapsing tiger child

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Because chocolate is one of the only things getting me through the day right now and I gave up disposable cups a couple of Lents back, for this Lent I decided to give up saying negative things about myself. I’m a member of the so-called Self-Esteem Generation, which should mean that I expect constant praise and think I poop gold bricks. But on my bad days you’d think I was raised by a Tiger Mother . You’d think someone told me I was unworthy of affection unless I practiced the violin 12 hours a day. In actuality, my mom told me I was talented and held her tongue when my couch potato summers indicated otherwise. My dad, who’s broken with the Republican party in approximately two elections in his entire life, was an unwitting feminist who made an active goal of raising confident daughters. But my mom was also a second-guesser extraordinaire with a habit of ruminating on her (nonexistent) fatness, and my dad…well, recently when we saw a framed quote in a restaurant about the follies of

flatiron: it's not just a building in new york

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There's something kind of only-in-L.A. about getting in your car and driving to a truck. But there was no way we were going to pass up an opportunity to eat food made by Timothy, also known as the generous and enterprising chef who cooked food on a grill made from a laundry tub at a park with no running water for our non-wedding . Give him a truck outfitted with a stove and a sink and imagine what he can do. It's a little amazing to me that I know people who have started their own businesses (the closest I ever came to anything so entrepreneurial was starting my own Babysitters Club in fifth grade), and the Flatiron Truck seems like a surefire hit judging by the number of people who showed up for its grand opening last night on Melrose. Even before the windows popped open, people were waiting in line with varying degrees of patience. The Flatiron Truck serves burgers from, um, one of these parts. I'm certainly no expert, although descriptions of dishes like "chori

what i read in february

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Half the reason I’m posting this is to push that photo a little further down on the page. Take One Candle Light a Room by Susan Straight: I always liked the IDEA of Star Wars --the creation of a world and a mythology that unfolded over many generations. But I wasn't that into the intergalactic stuff, so I love that Susan Straight has created the literary fiction equivalent with her many stories from Rio Seco. Specifically, Take One Candle is a two-hundred-years-later sequel to her excellent A Million Nightingales . Narrator Fantine Antoine is a slight departure from Straight's usual protagonists in that she has transcended her working class background and become a successful travel writer; Straight problematizes the experience of passing (literally and figuratively) and of abandoning one's roots without romanticizing the world of poverty and violence. This is not one of those books where the assimilated protagonist solves all her problems by learning stuff about her g

rocking the sweatshirt-around-the-waist look

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Suzanne pointed out that anyone tagged in a photo can click a "download" option. Now I have no excuse not to post my unflattering Vasquez Rocks pics. I'm throwing in the butt shot for good measure. At least Jose, JoAnna and the desert look lovely.

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I was going to include a photo with this post of me circa 2001 when I was in grad school at CalArts. JoAnna, Jose, Suzanne, Raj, Alex and I took a field trip to Vasquez Rocks , a stunning piece of desert landscape where dozens of films and commercials have been shot. We were no exception: We were there to shoot an experimental film for our collage class (yes, I took a class called “collage” in grad school. Yes, crayons were employed. Yes, I think of this every time I get my student loan statement). Our film’s plot was vague, but I think it involved Jose searching L.A. for Splash the mermaid. Not surprisingly, she was nowhere to be found in the Antelope Valley. The picture I was going to post is one of my worst. I am wearing a raggedy tank top, squinting into the sun, and my body is a testimony to my 2001 diet of donuts, Coke and veggie chicken nuggets. It doesn’t help that I’m standing next to JoAnna, who looks like a gorgeous two-eyebrowed Frida Kahlo. I figured it was only fair to

status updates, how do I hate thee? let me count the ways

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“Message boards,” I emailed a friend recently, “are like the worst kind of crack, the kind that skips right over the fun, feeling-like-superman high and goes straight to back-alley addiction.” Facebook isn’t quite that bad. There are times when the high is good, or at least it serves as the 21 st century equivalent of a cigarette break at work. Then there are days like today, when two thirds of all status updates fill me with hate, annoyance or just a general lack of faith in the human race. Here are some categories that I would advise people to avoid, except I won’t, because then where would I direct my hate? 1. The bragging while pretending not to post: “This Oscar totally tore a hole in my Marc Jacobs purse! Boo!” “So sick of people recruiting my baby to be in commercials.” “Anyone know of a good vegan restaurant in St. Tropez? Post soon, ‘cause I’m only here for three weeks.” 2. The uber-wholesome post: “Organic free-range zucchini from our garden—gonna taste