Sunday, April 30, 2006

Turning Japanese -- just for dinner

For the second time, I ate dinner with Auntie Karen at Kyoto in downtown Scottsdale -- a very fashionable Santa-Monica-Santana-Row-ish area. This time, we ate with her two sons, Darryl and Derrick, and Darryl's fiancee, Nancy. They were very kind to not make fun of me when I whipped out my camera upon seeing a new dish and said "Nobody touch it yet!" Kyoto is like Benihana's (might be because the owner bought the restaurant and its equipment from Benihana's) in that one section has those special teppanyaki tables with a cooking area and they clap and sing for anyone celebrating a birthday. But they have a section just for people who want to eat regular fare. I learned after my first visit that it's better to forego teriyaki meat and rice. Sushi is plenty. I already have a favorite item, which you can see further down. The volcano rolls aren't anything I've had before. They wrap up baked salmon, shreds of crab meat, avocado with cream cheese and a spicy sauce on top. And the cheese has been melted to a consistency that's just shy of being too thin. Each roll sits on a lemon slice giving a bit of tartness. Thanks to the cheese, the roll is a little heavier than most. As for the other image, how could I not take a picture of the caterpillar rolls? Pretty cool how they take advantage of the avocado, a piece of octopus for eyes, and sprouts for antennae. Presentation makes such a difference.

Anyhoo, time to start a new work week. Good news though -- my foot is much better. I can walk without it hurting anymore. Walking is highly underrated.

True-to-form caterpillar rolls are the main draw on this sushi platter. Posted by Picasa

Volcano rolls lit by a flaming pile of salt. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Walk a mile in my shoes...and you'll get a rash

Sometimes, I have one of those days where, if I smoked, I'd go through a pack in one day, heck, one hour. Thinking I'd prepare for summer, I bought a pair of new sandals from Famous Footwear a week ago. I wore them to work. Fine. On Saturday, I wore them to walk around the "Asian" Arts Festival in downtown Phoenix on a very hot day. Not fine. Apparently, sweat + the wrong chemical in shoe material = a very blistery, itch rash also known as dermatitis. I tried to ignore it and hoped it would go away with ointment. But today, I just couldn't take it anymore. It was like walking with itchy little, lit matches under my feet. Little did I know another level of pain would come...the pain of waiting.

As soon as I got off work, I went to an urgent care clinic where I had to wait for 90 minutes. There's only one doctor on staff at a time. Once I got to the exam room, I had to wait another half hour. At least the room had a mounted TV and I was able to watch the beginning of "Smallville." The strange thing was the doctor came in and she didn't even bother turning the TV off and it was pretty loud. So, all that waiting and she must've looked at my feet for about one minute and just asked me some questions. Then she listed the 3 prescriptions she'd give me. Then she said "be right back" (famous last words). Maybe about 20 minutes later, the physician's assistant came with my prescription.

On to Target pharmacy...I got there at 7:40 p.m. The pharmacist assistant said they would be ready by 8. I didn't get them 'til 8:30 p.m. (still haven't had dinner yet BTW) Then the main physician, whose name was also Terry, had to talk to me. On a side note, I've never seen a pharmacist like him. Do most Target pharmacists look gay/metrosexual with a red buttoned, collared shirt and a belt and nice men's shoes? So, he looks at my prescriptions and smiles at me and says, "Did you get a rash?" Sheesh, he's the pharmacist. He should know. So, I got two kinds of topical cream and a steroid in tablet form. And Terry informed me that the tablets could carry side effects like jittery nerves, an insatiable need for munchies or restless sleep since they are steroids. Probably the closest I'll get to knowing what it feels like to be a major league baseball player.

Oh, more good news. If these things don't work in 2-3 days, I'm supposed to go to an ER. I'm sorry, but I just had to bitch. Damn, life is annoying sometimes.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Great Clown Caper and a Real Caper

Yesterday at the office, the news editor wanted me to get a surveillance photo to go with a brief about this couple who were just sentenced for robbing a Tucson convenience store back in August. In every article that's been written about the crime, the reporter called them clown robbers, saying they wore clown costumes while committing the robbery. So, I'm picturing a couple wearing suits and red rubber noses. I call the public information officer at the Tucson Police Department -- Sgt. Robinson -- and he has to jump through all these hoops to get permission to release the photo. He told me I would be the first one to see it outside of the department (I guess that's supposed to excite me). I finally get the photo via e-mail and it's sharp and in color. And what do I see? The girl is wearing a red nylon jacket (last time I checked, clowns don't wear parka-like jackets) and the guy was wearing a black and white mask that made him look like a new member of KISS. I was like "Where are the clown costumes?" However, must say, the picture was still disturbing. You can't see the poor clerk but you know he's there. You see the open register till and Bonnie and Clyde pointing sawed off shotguns at him. Even Sgt. Robinson said "If I had been the clerk, I would've peed in my pants!" Anyway, I basically learned that these past few months, most broadcast and print outlets were misreported. Just because the clerk said all he remembered was clown costumes, the media ran with that when in fact, there's nothing clown-like. It was a nice reminder to try to verify stuff. I read those two robbers -- who were sentenced to three years -- are about my age. Why can't young people just go out and get jobs? Really, they can't be thinking it was all worth it.

If you wanna hear about a real caper...I heard a very crazy story about the current state of someone we went to high school with. I won't refer to him by name. This person who I did hang out with once in a while and thought was nice was arrested a couple weeks ago in New York. He and an associate at Goldman Sachs stand accused of insider trading and stealing $6.7 million (whoo!). This guy is still in Manhattan Correctional Facility because he can't make the $3 million bail. I think we know what the message is here: You don't need a private school edcuation to become a white-collar baddie.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Gelato = La Dolce Vita

There's always room for dessert of course. I was strongly encouraged by my friend Sandy to try The Gelato Spot. Lucky for me, the place is in the same plaza as Deluxburger. Funny...these two places share a shopping plaza with a Safeway. Back in Sunnyvale, my neighborhood Safeway shares lot space with a liquor store and the low-budget Asia Village. But, I digress.

The Gelato Spot definitely had a different vibe from Gelato Classico. They decorate each gelato display with fruit or syrup or chocolate--something that lets you know right away what flavor it is. As you can see, they really pile it on when you decide to combine two flavors. I had mint chocolate chip and chocolate peanut butter. There are also flavors like rum raisin, pistacchio and almond snickers with real almond pieces. Guess I've found one place to hide from the evil summer temperatures. Posted by Picasa

Fries "a la cart"

I had been waiting all week to try this restaurant near my place called Deluxburger--solely for the fries. You have your choice of regular fries, sweet potato, or a combination of the two served, literally, a la carte. How freaking adorable is that? When my friend Tony, who's studying at the California Culinary Academy, opens his own restaurant one day, I think he should definitely consider some sort of visual pun. Presentation, I say. Presentation. Anyway, my mom and I shared one cart of the combination and couldn't finish. I had forgotten how good sweet potatoes can taste. And they serve it with ketchup and some creamy mustard-mayo hybrid with a pinch of cayenne pepper. Good stuff.

Overall, I give Deluxburger pretty high marks for food, price and atmosphere. It's definitely a popular place that attracts retirees and young adults (Of course, we were the only Asians in there except for one lady). Giant candles and blue lighting give off a supper-club ambience. Our burger was allegedly made with grain-fed, all-natural beef and served on a toasted brioche bun. It came out moist and not overcooked. Mom and I also split a tomato mozzarella salad. But judging by what I saw, Delux's biggest draw is the 40 types of draft beers and ales.
Posted by Picasa

tomato mozzarella salad and
open-faced hamburger (okay, obviously people can figure out for themselves what's in these pictures) Posted by Picasa

Monday, April 17, 2006

One of my new neighbors

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I met my next door neighbor, Alicia. She is, surprisingly, not old. She looks to be around my age. Most of the people in this building are retired or in their forties. She has two little dogs--Jesus (pictured--pronounced the Spanish way) and Fritzy, whose behind is in the picture. Aren't they adorable? She let me hold Fritzy last week, which was really helpful in dealing with a stressful first week on the job.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

A Moment of Silence for 4BAK007

This morning, I went to the DMV...I'm sorry, I mean the Motor Vehicle Division. Unfortunately, the branches closer to me are closed on Saturday. So, I had to go to the one in South Central Phoenix. Now, I'm not implying anything about the people who go there or work there. But the place smelled like pee. That aside, it went okay. Except I didn't know that when you get a new license plate, you have to give your old one back. I thought you could keep them like accessories and just mix and match according to what state you're in. I at least thought we could keep license plates as souvenirs. I guess I was sorta sad about giving it back--it would make the whole move that much more real. And the purple cacti on my new license plate did not help. I am not a cactus kind of person. But I suppose we all get accustomed to change. At least I'll get to keep my California driver's license.

This month's Audrey

I almost forgot...Most of you have heard my recap about following around Dr. Kim -- Rep. Mike Honda, four rocking nuns and cult-followers all in one week-- for a freelance assignment for Audrey magazine. Well, the magazine is on newsstands now at Borders and possibly Barnes & Noble. The piece isn't as gushy as some other past Trailblazer features. But I didn't exactly go all Rolling-Stone-on-Scientology. I put in enough details so that people can either think she's really amazing or really odd. But you guys are truly in the know. Everything I relayed to you, I couldn't fit into the article. And if you're a student or staff member of Dr. Kim's and you're reading this--um...when I say 'cult,' I mean cult as in a follower of culture. Yes, that's it.Posted by Picasa

Dry heat, the Great Wall, and more dry heat

Salutations from Phoenix. Wow...okay...I know I gave up on my blog a year ago. I guess I felt like I had nothing interesting to say. I mean, what could I write about? Um...another job interview gone unanswered but um...I have a pulse. Anywho, now that I'm living in Arizona (Dear god -- I learned from a play it's not offensive when it's a small g--I'm living in a red state!), I figured this would be the best way to simultaneously inform people how I'm doing.

I've been in Phoenix about a week now. Here are some of my initial impressions:
-It's too hot. I wish that the Bay Area could ship some of that rain our way.
-Phoenix in some ways is like California 20 years ago. There are a lot of Mexicans and Caucasians. I am usually the only Asian in stores -- at least on the East Side. See, in Phoenix, East Side = good, West Side = not so good. Southwest = very, very bad. There are A LOT of Chinese restaurants, especially buffets. However, I have my doubts about a $4.59 buffet. That cheap, one can't expect much. I have only spotted two Thai restaurants. Don't see anything Malaysian and I don't think there are nearly as many Pho places.
-It's hella dry and hot here.
-I've seen quite a few obese people. I think I know why. Yesterday at the drug store, it was 6 p.m., and the other people in line either were buying beer, wine or just candy. One guy, dressed in businesswear, apparently had an after-hours yearning for two tall cans of Old English beer. No splurging there.
--It's really hot here. Anyone who thinks Phoenix is the greatest place to live is kidding himself.

Some highlights:
When we first got here last week, my mom and I met up with mom's second cousin, whom I call Auntie Karen. See, Karen's mother was the first cousin of mom's father--got that? She introduced -- or in my mom's case re-introduced -- us to her siblings and their kids. So, I met a bunch of third cousins who are all in my age group--Grant, George and Betty. We were at Karen's sister's house and George was cooking chili for everyone. Apparently, they all grew up in Phoenix and always have family get-togethers--which I'll probably get invited to. I feel like Elaine on that "Seinfeld" episode when she started hanging out with alternate-universe versions of Kramer, George, and Jerry. Have I found my alternate-universe Woo clan?

So, all of Karen's family has somehow at one time been involved in the restaurant business. Last Sunday, mom and I did a Chinese restaurant crawl of sorts. For lunch, we had dim sum with Auntie Judy (Karen's sister) at her restaurant, the Great Wall. It's quite popular. When we got there, I saw a long line and the place was almost full to capacity. The biggest surprise: almost everyone was Chinese -- so many Asians in one place. At the end of lunch, Auntie Judy pushed a cart over and told me to take home whatever I wanted. Do you know what a dream-come-true that was for a Chinese girl who loves to eat? Then for dinner, we went to Karen's brother's restaurant.

I'm sure you're curious about my job and what it entails. It would take a lot of typing. But it's way hectic. I don't even feel like I have a free moment to use the Web to check e-mail. There's always something I should be doing. I input a lot of events for a calendar that is time-released via computer to media personnel in Arizona -- it could be info on a charity event, a press conference, or a trial proceeding. I have to tally how many AP stories appeared in the Arizona Republic (the state's largest newspaper). For those of you not sure, AP is a news wire service. Newspapers throughout the state subscribe to AP for the right to publish their stories. Hmmm...what else do I do? Yesterday, I called a Tucson hospital spokesperson to check up on the condition of the president of the University of Arizona and then I added my information to a story. Nothing too earth-shattering.

I have one roommate named Gaby. She's been renting out the other bedroom for a couple years now. She's from Mexico and pretty easygoing. Two days ago, one of the building's maintenance men knocked on the door and said in a mix of Spanish and English that he was looking for her. She went outside to talk to him and disappeared for an hour. Turns out, Gaby had partially paid for his truck but found it in need of many repairs and did not want to pay anymore. So, this man--who's 50-years-old--reacts by crying. Not just tearing up, but like wheezing and breathing hard. Well, thanks to his tactic, she agreed to pay him $500 of the $1,000 he wanted. Perhaps he can now afford a haircut. Seriously, picture a guy in shorts and a T-shirt with salt and pepper hair long enough to cover most of his ears and get in his eyes. Add on his scrub-brush moustache, and you have the 'after' picture for "The Shaggy Dog."

Well, now that I have Internet capabilities in my apartment, I will be able to keep in touch more. I hope y'all will keep in touch with me.