MusicRant#3: Taylor Swift Sucks Revisited

The Effects of Taylor Swift’s Influence in the Music Industry As Demonstrated by Two Videos:

Real talent like this gets undermined.

While young girls with rich daddies and no talent continue to churn out crap like this:

Chinese Superstitions

by American Girl

If I had seven years of bad luck every time I broke a mirror I would be long dead before my bad luck debt is paid off.  A gigantic klutz such as me cannot really afford to be superstitious about many things. The only superstition that I am inclined to believe in involves sleep and doorways.

I have an insanely superstitious Chinese mother. I laughed everything she said off until my freshman year in college. When I moved into my dormitory, my mom took one look at the room and told me sternly that I was not allowed to sleep with my feet facing the doorway. The fact that the door had a full length mirror made it double bad luck. I thought she was being nutty so I forgot about it.

Then I got really sick. Food poisoning, the flu, cramps, the whole deal. It lasted for two weeks until my mom brought me a screen which blocked the foot of my bed from the doorway.

Coincidence? Probably. But I’m sure as heck not going to go around sleeping with my feet facing doorways and mirrors again.

The following are superstitions that my mom has repeatedly tried to nail into our family’s heads from my childhood.

1. Do not sleep with your feet facing the doorway or mirror, as all your good luck will flow outside or be reflected away.

2. Eat all your food, or every grain of rice that you leave in your bowl will become moles/pockmarks on your future husband’s face.

3. Never stick chopsticks upright in a ricebowl. The dead will be offended as this is the way their food is served.

4. Always knock on hotel or unfamiliar room doors before you enter to stay the night as it is a polite way of warning the spirits of your presence.

5. Do not give clocks as presents. The Chinese word for clock (shi) sounds like the word “death”.

6. Do not give umbrellas as presents, as this will cause the receiver to have an unfortunate day.

7. If your eye twitches, you or someone you know will be put in mortal danger. (I almost got hit by a car once and when I told my mom she screamed”I knew it! My eye was twitching, my eye was twitching!”)

8. Do not sweep your house on New Years because you will sweep all the luck away.

9. Marry a man with a small nose and have a poor life.

10. Holding your chopsticks at the far end will cause you to move very far from your hometown for marriage.

11. Pregnant women should never use glue as it signifies a difficult birth.

12. Dropping your utensils during a meal means you will be forced to treat guests for dinner some time in the future.

13. Always greet guests in the living room. Never greet guests in the bedroom, as this will cause them to become sick.

14. Never go straight home after a wake or the dead will follow.

15. Do not have turtles as pets as this will slow down one’s business.

16. The noodles in a soup symbolizes longevity and should never be cut, lest the eater wants a short life.

There are also many Chinese superstitions involving Feng Shui and numbers, but I’ll get to those another time. What superstitions run in your family?

Cultured Penang Boy

By Penang Boy

Last Monday I had to bring my beloved sister to San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) for her photography project. It was a beautiful day in a beautiful building. There were only 2 floors (out of 4) that was open because the other 2 were under construction for new exhibits.  Well, I am not one for modern art. I have nothing against modern art but it’s just that I find it kinda hard to appreciate those kind of art. It feels like they were random (I know they are not. I’m just saying that they appear to me as random) and I find it so hard to interpret them. It just takes too much energy. One thing that I found interesting though was a painting by Frida of Frida and her husband painted in SF. That was kinda cool. I don’t know how’s that modern art though.

Anyway, I got to the building, bought my ticket, went to the rooftop, got myself a cup of coffee and sat down. Gosh! I feel so cultured!

MusicRant #2

by American Girl

TravelRant: 5 Kinds of Irritating Subway Passengers

by American Girl


Strangers really take an interest in me.  People say it’s my innocent face that does it.  One afternoon I was reading Evelina by Frances Burney on the subway (because nerdy English Majors read everywhere) when a man leaned over and said, “Oh my god, I’m sorry, but isn’t 18th century literature the best? Chivalry and elegance are totally dead nowadays, huh?” We then had a lengthy discussion in which he told me how he turned down a multi-million dollar deal to build skyscrapers on his people’s land (he’s Native American). My supposedly “innocent face” will sometimes result in meeting really cool people like this man on the subway, but most of the time I want to chuck my textbook at the rest of the riders who catch my attention. The following observations were inspired from my weekly experiences of meeting subway riders.

5 Kinds of Irritating Subway Passengers

1. The Wannabe Gangster Rapper. The Wannabe Gangster Rapper, not always but usually an African American Male in his twenties, enjoys the music of “I got more hoes than the ozone” so much, he feels the need to share it with the rest of the world by unplugging his iPod and turning it to maximum volume. The public is then subjected to horrible thumping and obscene verses of the same song over and over again, for not only is the Wannabe Gangster Rapper inconsiderate about the music variety he provides to other passengers, but also because this is the rap song he currently memorized all the lyrics to. The Wannabe Gangster Rapper will then spend the duration of his ride trying to convince everyone that he lives the same lifestyle as his idol by rapping loudly with the music and bumping up and down in his seat to simulate driving a Cadillac. The annoyed looks of other passengers do not discourage him, as The Wannabe Gangster Rapper usually misinterprets them to mean that they are admiring his star quality. Sometimes a Wannabe Gangster Rapper will try to sell his homemade CDs on the subway, but due to his lack of professional sales skills, will come off as a total creep. Since a Wannabe Gangster Rapper actually believes that he will land a record deal through his self promotion, when you reject him he will convince himself that you just have bad taste in music or that you are discriminating against his race, and will move on to his next target.

2. The Pitiful Homeless Person. A Pitiful Homeless Person will not board the subway for traveling purposes, as the subway will merely transport him from Point A, a city where he begs for money, to Point B, a city where he begs for money. Instead, he will use the time he bought on the subway to do two things: seek temporary shelter and take the money of nice people. Smelling like rotten fish bombs, he will enter the subway and scout out his targets, which consist of amicable women and college kids who look like they get weekly allowances from their parents. He will sit down next to them looking as sad and pitiful as possible and tell a sad and pitiful story involving government conspiracy theories, his once luxurious lifestyle, being robbed, and his dog. Since he has  positioned himself in the aisle seat so that if you get up and walk away you’ll have to touch his rotten fish-bomb smelling clothes and still you’ll be staring at his pitiful face because there is nowhere else to go on the subway, you are trapped into giving him a dollar, lest you want to listen to the Pitiful Homeless Person’s story for another hour.

3. The Teen Clique. Teen Cliques are so excited about traveling without parental supervision that they will treat the subway as their personal party bus. This includes trying to impress their friends in the most obnoxious ways possible. A member of a Teen Clique  will continuously try to outdo another member’s “adult” knowledge through crude jokes, such as calling each other “gay” or comparing window stains to semen. Comments are always followed by the kind of over-the-top laughter that could only mean that the teenagers have no idea what their friend just said. Additionally, members of Teenage Cliques also attempt to imitate the professional stuntmen they see on TV by swinging and climbing on the subway railings, while everyone else on the subway is  secretly wishing they would slip and bang their heads.

4. The Rowdy Baseball Fans. Once in a while you will board the subway and realize that you are the only person not wearing A’s attire. These Rowdy Baseball Fans are going home after a long day of yelling in a stadium at their favorite team and are busy man-bonding by rehashing the details of the game. When dealing with Rowdy Baseball Fans, never mention your love for football, soccer, tennis, any other sport, foreign countries, or God forbid, the rival team unless you want to see some serious blood and spit.  Instead, ask them how the game went. This will prompt a Rowdy Baseball Fan to yell out “We OWNED them!”, followed by  a chorus of loud cheers and high fives. Beware as some members of this mob have a tendency to punch your face for no reason because they are too drunk and see rainbow spiders coming out of the walls because they are too high.

5. The Mother Who Needs a Day Off. The Mother Who Needs a Day Off made the brilliant decision of bringing her four ADD kids on a shopping trip and is now regretting it.  In tuning out their screaming  and spending the rest of her time on the subway dreaming about a tropical vacation, The Mother Who Needs a Day Off unfortunately leaves the public vulnerable to her little monsters. The children not only take up all the space on the subway running down the aisles and switching seats every five seconds, they also decide that right then is the best moment to have a tantrum. When one child begins to cry, all others think that it’s a good time to join in too. Unfortunately many elderly passengers encourage the mother’s lack of responsibility by telling her that her kids are “adorable at this age.” When you glare at the mother for refusing to do the right thing (slap all of her children and threaten them with no supper) she has the nerve to look surprised and annoyed.

What other subway passengers do you meet?

I got double down dared and I chickened out

by Penang Boy

I got doubled dare today and I couldn’t do it. It was just… too… fattening.

It’s from a prominent fast food chain and I love the food there but this is just too much. I don’t want to be like this guy.

Nothing wrong with you buddy but I just don’t want to be fat.

FoodRant #3: WOAH! The art of frying!

By Penang Boy

Thank you Mr. Alton Brown.

I sometimes cook and one thing I know, I suck at frying. I know, I know. Frying is greasy and the food is so bad for you. Why would you want to learn how to fry? Hey! Frying is a work of art. It is as honorable a method to cook as pan frying, roasting and even boiling (which is kinda of a no-brainer.)

Thanks to an episode about tempura on Good Eats which I happened to pay attention to, I have finally, for once in my life, been able to grasp the concept of frying! Woo hoo! I am elated beyond imagination! I am so excited! Now I just want to fry everything!

I have this recipe of my favorite dish from Penang that I always want perfected. It’s one of those foods that you can only find in the streets. They are greasy, oily Fried Belachan Chicken (Fried Shrimp Paste Chicken). I don’t know if the origin is from Penang but there are sure a lot of them in Penang street hawkers. It is absolutely delish and it’s one of my all time favorites (next to Fried Oyster. If you don’t know what is that, stay tune for more Penang food blog entries). I whipped up the recipe myself (Yes, pretty creative) but I have never been able to actually perfect it. It’s so frustrating. I’m pretty sure you all have experienced this. You got the recipe right but your technique is not there. I finally got it! This is actually my fifth official try and I GOT IT!! HAHAHA! SO HAPPY! I AM SO HAPPY! I AM SO HAPPY! THIS IS THE BEST DAY OF MY LIFE!!!!!!!

And the result….  Crispy Fried Belachan Chicken! The picture only contains like 10 pieces of the chicken left. I bought 6 chicken thighs. My sister, E, and American Girl kept on eating the chicken as it got out the fryer. Gosh. I was so happy I do not know how to express it in words! Just ask American Girl how happy I was. I just can’t stop being happy.

Well, just for your info, here’s what I learnt. For those who are into cooking, the few tips I learnt are: the fryer has to be perfectly at a constant temperature of 375F. It is also advisable to use alcohol(vodka) to mix the batter as it will not form gluten, which absorbs the grease. The alcohol is actually volatile and will evaporate at a very low temperature so you don’t have to worry about your food being alcoholic. This technique is also useful when you bake. Less gluten, less ‘carb-y’ feeling, lighter taste, oh so goodness.

After my frying experiment, I went on to cook another dish. Nothing spectacular. Just plain old pasta! But… the mushrooms are actually cooked to perfection thanks to an advice from Julia Child. Ah…. cooking techniques are just marvelous! Here’s a picture of my humble pasta.

Ah! I Love Food! Happy Cooking and Eating!