Saturday, November 22, 2008

Saints & Zombies

Political avatars do battle in "Saints & Zombies." These creatures were created for the Lab's 12th annual Post-postcard show

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tommy Toy's Evening to Remember

The menu for the evening
Lobsters lined up ready to be served

Carving Peking Duck

A romantic ambiance
Peach mousse in strawberry coulis
I learned that it was the first time the Wine & Food Society had selected an Asian restaurant for one of their dinners. Tommy Toy's is actually a Chinese-French fusion restaurant but the food selections definitely leaned towards the Chinese last night. The Gewurztraminer was crispy sweet and went exceedingly well with the five spice prawns and steamed seafood dumpling appetizers. My favorite dish was the Peking duck, which followed. The slices were plump and crisp and full of duck flavor. I wish there was a little less of the plum sauce, which threatened to overpower the duck. The lobsters were impressive but I liked the plain, unsauced claws best. The quail were arranged in oddly provocative poses with legs splayed or lifted over their bodies. I was already getting pretty full by then. But that was followed by a delicious filet mignon, snap peas and fried rice. They need to destring the peas in the future, but the beef was delicious. I was surprised at how good the peach mousse was but was too full to eat more than a few bites.

I hadn't been to Tommy Toy's for many years. I remember all the dishes tasting sweet but this time, there was a good balance in flavors. Mr. Toy, who passed away in February, was an immigrant success story. He came here from Guangchou and worked his way up from a dishwasher to the owner of this opulent restaurant. His partner, Alon Yu, continues the tradition.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Sport of Shopping

I read that H&M was going to sell a small line of Comme des Garcons clothes designed by Rei Kawakubo. On Thursday at 9:25 am I lined up behind a long line of fashionistas, all excited, all with strategies on nabbing pieces by this famous designer. The store opened early, at 9:45 and there was a mad dash into the store. Inside was a whirlwind of arms grabbing merchandise off the racks. The only sounds I heard were that of hangers being pulled off metal racks. No voices, just sounds of polished metal on metal. I was tempted to photograph the scene but had to clear my head of such thoughts and reach for whatever was left. It was clearly bad strategy to go to the wall by the window with the rows of woven shirts because that area was blocked off by large display stands. As soon as I could extricate myself, I ran to a rack of knit tops that was quickly being emptied, hurriedly picked some shirts that were my size, ran to the men's section and grabbed the one sweater left. Too bad all the jackets & coats & the fabulous skirts were grabbed by those first in line, but I wouldn't have relished waiting in line for hours & hours. Surprisingly the dressing room wasn't full, just a short line of people waiting for discarded clothes. Luckily someone was getting rid of assymetrical shirts and I got one of those too. I tried on a pair of polka dotted pants, man's sweater, assymetrical shirt, knit shirt and 2 woven shirts. They all fit! I even had an extra knit shirt for a Christmas present! The store was completely sold out of Comme des by 10:00 am - the regular store opening hour. The empty racks were quickly replaced by H&M's regular lines. It was an awesome shopping day!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Final Pieces

Alien American
Asian American

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Hopalong & Second Chance Animal Rescue

Examining the Silent Auction Items
One of the fundraiser organizers

Last night was the 4th annual Furball fundraiser for the above animal rescue organization. Befitting an affair in Berkeley, people came as they were, the food was Asian ethnic and the silent auction items were a mix of animal products and jewelry. Miss Oakland attended as well and gamely posed for photographs with dog lovers.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Sharks Invade Blues Turf

Sharks Outshoot the Blues

At least one Bay Area team is doing well this year. Went to an exciting game at the HP Arena last night and cheered the Sharks to a 4-5 victory. Ryane Clowe had a lot to do with the win, scoring 2 goals to get the Sharks even and getting a shot past the St Louis Blues' goalie, Ben Bishop, in the game-ending shootout. Hockey is such a quick, dazzling sport with so much action - players jumping on & off the ice, puck flying, fists flying, sticks clacking and excited fans jumping up and down. I was cheering my favorite player, Jonathan Cheechoo, whose rough & tumble play earned him 2 sit-outs in the penalty box. I was also pleased to see such a diversity of players on the ice: along with the traditional Canadian and American players, African American, Japanese American, Inuit Canadian, Russian, German, Kazakhstan and Czech. I can easily become a rabid fan of this sport.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Recent Pieces

"Asian American"
"Alien American"

"100 Nights, 100 Poems"
These are works in progress. Alien American/Asian American are manifestations of my bicultural heritage. Years ago I went to the Immigration & Naturalization Office during lunch break to take my citizenship test. When I got back, my co-workers greeted me with a party. Someone got tiny American flags on toothpicks and decorated my office with them. They were all over the cake we ate to celebrate this occasion. It was a funny and poignant moment. For years, I was conflicted about giving up my Japanese citizenship. As a green card holder, I felt I could still be Japanese and choose to live in Japan or US legally. I joked about being an Alien America when people asked me to sign petitions, vote for a candidate or serve jury duty. Over time, my lack of commitment began to bother me. My decision to become an American was difficult but the actual transition was not. Perhaps it would be more difficult now, under Homeland Security.
"100 Nights, 100 Poems" will be submitted to the JWAN show, Like Water on Rock. Persistence is the theme and I took inspiration from the legend of the 12th century poet, Ono no Komachi. A high-ranking nobleman, Fukakusa no Shosho fell in love with Komachi, and she promised to be his lover if he visited her residence 100 nights in a row. He vowed to fulfill her wish, but towards the end, he failed to visit one night. In despair, he fell ill and died. Though he failed in his quest, the legend of his persistence and loyalty lives on in Japanese literature. The piece includes old words written on dead leaves, discarded, but still beautiful. Hanging from the branches of a weeping cherry are 100 poems by Komachi. In his death, he won her heart, though she must carry her regrets and loneliness the rest of her life.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Babette's Feast at the O-Club

Smoked salmon with hard-boiled eggs, chopped chives and cheese
A parade of meats, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers and smoked mussels

Steamed mussels with bell peppers

Fried & steamed dim sum

HK Flower Lounge Dim Sum Reunion

Met former Gap friends at Millbrae's HK Flower Lounge. Yvonne brought Sofia, who just celebrated her first birthday. She was full of smiles & energy. It was fun to catch up with Gerda, Betty-o, Frannie, Yvonne, Weslie & Diana. As of next week, only Gerda will remain at the Gap. The rest of us have gone on to new companies, careers and family. HK Flower Lounge was crowded with families enjoying their Sunday meals.

APJCC Fundraiser

Addision-Penzak Jewish Cultural Center Fundraiser Gala at the San Jose Fairmont

At the no-host bar

Silent Auction Crowd

Valentina Kostenko and Jonathan Roberts from Dance Spectrum

Ron and Kim do the salsa to "Tequila"