retsuko: (spoilers!)
I know I'm a grown woman, and that I should be doing more responsible things at the moment, but there is something just so lovely about sitting down with a pile of comic books and reading them from cover to cover, regardless of time and chores, and the general mundanity that is life.

In comics:

Rat Queens, Issue 8: Violet's origin story gets told in a highly satisfactory fashion, with some very sweet moments between her and her mother, and some sour ones with her family as a whole. I especially like the first two pages, where Violet is getting dressed and it's made abundantly clear that a) the artist knows how armor works, and b) Violet is not your standard comic book lady with an unreal body. In any case, the story unfolds, and it's very, very bittersweet as it's contrasted with the final page of the issue. I love this comic!

Thor, Issue 1: The only disappointment in the whole haul, mainly because the new Thor is only in the whole issue for two pages. I'm eager to see Lady Thor in action, and while the two-page spread of her lifting Mjolnir was beautifully colored and dynamic, it was frustrating as a whole for a comic about her to only feature her for a moment. The art in this is very nice, though, and hopefully when the next issue shows up, new!Thor will have more to do. Also, some frost giants to battle, because there sure were a lot of them in this issue. (And their toenails are grotesque. GROTESQUE.)

One other, minor disappointment: still no word on how original!Thor will keep those abs now that he's not wielding the hammer anymore. Will he have to go to the gym like the rest of us?? Inquiring minds want to know!

Gotham Academy, Issue 1: This is a lot of fun, and it has a lot of promise. My only quibble with it is that it's too short! The first issue is setting up a lot of plot elements: our heroine's angsty past with her mother and other students at the school; conspiracies in and around the school itself; and whatever the monster in the walls is. I wished that there was more time to let the story unspool just a little bit more, instead of "here is this character! that one! look, it's Bruce wayne!" That said, I'm looking forward to the next issue, and hoping that the pacing will pay off in the long run.

In graphic novels:

This One Summer, words by Mariko Tamaki, art by Jillian Tamaki: The artwork in this is just gorgeous, and it captures perfectly the "summer at the seaside" that I was lucky enough to experience as a kid. The plot is very subtle but sweetly compelling, a coming-of-age story for the main character, Rose, mostly, but also the story of her friendship, her parents' relationship (which is not relegated to the sidelines, like a lot of YA literature might; I really appreciated the fact that the adults in this story were real people, too, not just paper tigers or imparters of Important Truths about Adulthood), and her awkward crush on the local convenience store guy. There's a sudden twist or two towards that the end that propels the action of the story into overdrive, but that's what summer is often like: a whole lot of leisure, and then the sudden realization that it's all about to be OVER and you need to do something, right away, before you lose the chance. I'd recommend this to a number of my friends, and to anyone who's spent any time at a summer resort as a kid. The sheer nostalgia alone is worth the price of admission.
retsuko: (love this show)
What a pleasure to see a movie and walk out of the theater feeling so *good* about everything: good about the movie, good about the actors, good about the city, good about LIFE as a whole. "Midnight in Paris" is a delightful film, with an excellent cast that's a love letter to Paris (the city) and the little revelations you have on a daily basis about life and its tribulations and victories.

Spoilers and plot details follow. )

In general, I'd have to say that this has displaced "Take the Money and Run" as my favorite Woody Allen film. Even with TtMaR, I was up for seeing it about once every three years or so. Most of Allen's films are so talky that I want to cry at the sheer amount of chatter and the mental effort necessary to concentrate on the overly complicated relationships between the characters. But "Midnight in Paris" didn't feel overly complicated or too bloated with pretentious dialogue. Owen Wilson's delivery of some of the lines really helped in this respect, I'm sure. But the script, in general, was more balanced than Allen's previous movies, and it worked really well.

(All this said, nothing ever fails to make me laugh like the part in TtMaR where the bank tellers are reading his robbery note aloud: "'Give me all the money. I have a gub.' What's a gub?")
retsuko: (sushi)
Ever since I left Japan in 2001* I've gotten hankerings, fairly often, for the good, everyday food that I used to eat in the izakaya** of Kochi. When I try to explain this to people, I usually get a confused look in return. "Can't you buy the food and make it yourself?" Some of it, yes, but it's not just the food; it's the combination of the food, the place, and the experience, and up until last night, I hadn't found a place where the combination was just right.*** But last night, tucked into an unassuming and thoroughly unprepossessing strip mall on Convoy St., [ profile] yebisu9 and I visited Okan, and it was the magic combination.

Okan has a tiny premises and the moment we stepped in, I was worried we'd trip one of the waitresses up by simply standing in the doorway. Fortunately, we snagged one of the last available tables and discovered they were having anniversary specials of $2 draft Sapporo**** and interesting menu items at discounted prices. Wasting no time, we started with the spicy kinpira (burdock salad), which turned out to be not as spicy as advertised, but still a lovely, fresh mixture of tastes and textures, and pretty much just as I'd remembered it being. From there, we had a fried tofu dish, with savory sauce, that served as a good counterpoint to the kinpira. (Again, not as spicy as advertised.)

For the main course, I had two onigiri (rice balls), rolled in sea salt, with special pickles and fried shrimp. The onigiri were simply delicious and the pickles that accompanied them divine. (I always wish I could ask for more, but really what I want is to go and chat with the cooks in the kitchen while eating the pickles.) Two kinds, one cucumber and very sour, and the other sweeter and crunchier. The fried shrimp came in a very generous portion and were fresh out of the pan; I nearly burned my fingers when I started to peel them.***** The breading on them was very subtle and amazingly delicious. Yebisu had soba with duck; he did not care for the dish as much as I did for mine, although I did taste the soup and thought it was lovely. The menu also lists good old standbys like kitsune udon and zaru soba, which means I need to go back there as soon as possible and try them.

For dessert, I had a lovely slice of green tea tiramisu, which was a light and airy taste compared to the salt and relative heft of the dinner foods. All in all, from a cuisine stand-point, it was an excellent outing. My tastebuds were thoroughly convinced that I'd returned to Kochi and began clamoring for other favored foods. (We had to visit Nijiya, the Japanese market, next door after dinner, where I found yet another beloved treat I hadn't had in 10 years.******) Next time, I would definitely have a reservation, since the place got really crowded after we arrived and there was a fairly long line outside when we left. I am very excited to go again, because one of Okan's selling points is that their menu changes seasonally, and I have high hopes for fall/winter foods.

I think I've found my new favorite place.

Okan Wa Dining
3860 Convoy St. St. #110
(Check out their website here.)

* OMG: That's 10 frakkin' years ago. Pardon me while I freak out quietly about being old, time passing, etc. etc.
** An izakaya is a restaurant/bar, usually a place where you can sit on traditional tatami, at tables, or around a bar.
*** With the possible but very expensive exception of Sushi Ohta, and getting a table there either takes considerable planning ahead or serendipitous arrival.
**** OK, not the world's best beer, but good enough!
***** I know that I'm meant to eat the shell along with the shrimp, but I can't bring myself to do it. When I want to eat shrimp, I want a particular taste and texture, and it does not include needlessly crunchy bits that get stuck between my teeth. Yeah, yeah, I'm a foodie philistine, so sue me.
****** Kyoto green tea mochi pockets with sweet bean paste. :D

Happy 4th of July!

Saturday, July 4th, 2009 12:12 pm
retsuko: (ceiling)
To all my American friends, a happy 4th of July!

Every year on the 4th, I listen to NPR's recording of the Declaration of Independence (available here, streaming or downloadable). It's both uplifting and scrappy: the beautiful passages about the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness juxtaposed against the laundry list of wrongs against the colonies by the King. The writing is at once old-fashioned and modern (the word "usurpations" isn't used so much anymore, but makes total sense in context) and undeniably stirring. NPR also makes wise use of the voices of their contributors of all races, religions, and backgrounds. It's one of the most patriotic things that I can think of doing today, and I am proud to be able to do it. This year, I am especially thankful and proud that I live in a country where I am free to meet with more than three people on the street and not fear for my life and safety; that I can vote and my vote will be counted; and that despite great economic uncertainty, there is still an air of optimism and determination. I often wonder what Jefferson and the other contributors to the Declaration would make of the country now. Today I am thinking that they would impressed and pleased by the legacy of their words and the nation's ongoing progress.
retsuko: (omgyay!)
These past two days, [ profile] livyanne, another friend (E.), and I visited the Huntington Gardens and Library, attended Dar Williams' L.A. concert, and trekked around Disneyland!

And, lo, it was awesome. Awesome-possible!

First, there was the Huntington, site of many boring visits as a child, but highly palatable as an adult, and very beautiful. Plus, TEA! )

Then, the Dar concert! )

Finally, Disneyland! Where celebrity-spotting and general hilarity occurred! )

For anyone who's interested, the photos are here.

This trip made up for the root canal and all its related unpleasantness and did much good for my soul in general. :)
retsuko: (serious!)

I never, ever thought I would respect Hillary Duff. I mean, tolerate, sure; encourage, why not? Got it hand it to the girl for getting herself a team of smart agents who know merchandising, and hope that she has a damn good accountant who's helping her squirrel most of her profits away for early retirement.

But then I saw this on Feministing, and I kind of sat back in my chair, laughing at the video itself, and not a little surprised at the general vibes of goodwill I was feeling for Hillary Duff. I think this video will manage to do in 30 seconds what I, as an English professor, could not manage to do in a class room over an entire semester. (Well, I could at least get my students to stop saying that in the classroom. However, I think this thing might make people actually think about what they're saying.) It's a timely media virus, one that I hope will dismantle a linguistic pattern of unthinking discrimination.

Food = Food!!!!

Sunday, June 29th, 2008 09:57 pm
retsuko: (cooking with superman)
I had the most amazing food tonight at Chez Loma on Coronado:

~ An appetizer of raw salmon, crouton, avocado creme fraiche, and pickled cucumber. The salmon was at exactly the right point for good taste--the first bite, the salmon taste hit my tongue just so, the next bite spread the salmon taste, which is predominantly a pleasant fat with a hint of salt that lies just above the tongue, around my entire mouth, and the third bite was a combination of the salmon and all the other ingredients together, the textures perfectly matched--salt and fat and crunch and sour and smooth, all together. My tongue was so happy!

~ Half of [ profile] yebisu9's lobster bisque. How happy I was to "help" him with this delightful sherry and seafood treat. Of course, there could have been more lobster meat, but I ALWAYS think there could be more lobster meat, even when I'm eating lobster. So that's nothing to judge by.

~ A pan-seared halibut that came with crab, carrots, whipped potato, asparagus, and a creme sauce. My mother, next to me, was having a sirloin with bleu cheese butter, and the bleu cheese smell was pretty pungent. (Lord, how I despise bleu cheese! We are not meant to eat spoilt things!) So it is a compliment to the chef that I didn't care about the vile smell from my right and was able to concentrate on dish before me. The crab was at the point where you put it in your mouth and it just melts away, and there's this glorious flavor left behind. The potatoes and carrot were lovely, and not too garlic-ed up. And the fish and the sauce... I've had dull halibut before. This halibut was not dull, not by any stretch of the culinary imagination. It could have stood well on its own, so flakey and soft and delicious, but it was aided by the creme sauce, which was thoughtfully arranged in one corner of the plate so that the fish wasn't dripping with it or the flavor overwhelming.

~ A glass of Gloria Ferrer champagne, much better than Freixenet that I usually buy. I'll put it this way: Freixenet is like a friendly punch to the tastebuds--great among chums, but every now and then, you long for friends who don't smack you every time they see you. The Gloria was a smooth, smooth champagne, a handshake rather than a punch.

~ The "Fallen Chocolate Cake Souffle" and a cappucino: heaven will be made of chocolate cake with a runny center, baked in a ramekin and garnished with creme fraiche and raspberries.

It was my parents' 40th anniversary. Hence the celebrating and the French food. :D

May 2016

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