Friday, September 24, 2004

American Idol in Bakersfield

Drove down to Bakersfield to see the American Idol 3 Tour (from Las Vegas). My sister and I had front row center seats. These were the best seats I've ever gotten for a show. I don't know how my sister got them because she literally got them only 2 weeks ago through Ticketmaster. I think some VIPS bailed out so the seats were available because everybody seating in our row had VIP stickers and backstage passes around their necks. The crowd was a real mix of people. You had mostly the young kids and parents, young couples and some older couples making up the audience. I didn't think I was a big American Idol fan, I mean I watched the show and Nich and I voted a few times for fun, but learning that I was going to see the concert, I got really psyched!!! And yes, I had an awesome time. Because what you see on the tv show, you see on stage. You don't see the competitors, you see friends. You rooted for these kids for weeks, you know their life stories, you've seen their families. So seeing them live, it's like you have become a part of their dreams. I mean when you first saw these kids on tv, they were waitresses, cooks, students but now they have hit the big time. They sincerely look happy and appreciative of where they are and I really felt they gave 110% in their performances. My parents and Uncle Ben came with us, which I never thought would happen in my life that my parents would come to a concert with me. But they were sitting about 20 rows behind us so it doesn't really count. It was a family affair mostly because we have a relative on stage. Jasmine Trias, the 3rd runner up in American Idol is somehow our distant cousin. I'm sure she hasn't met any of us before, but her grandparents sent my family pictures when American Idol was on (probably to round up some votes?). So that's my proof.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Leaving for Las Vegas

Took a Thurday night flight to Las Vegas from San Jose. My big sister, Joss was having a 40th birthday at my parent's house. With a lechon pig prepared and a Hawaiian type luau catered. I couldn't miss it!! I took a late SouthWest flight leaving San Jose at 9 pm. When I arrived in the airport, the first thing I noticed was a hint of cigarette in the air. I walked fast through baggage claim to get outside to the smell of 4 lanes of exhaust. I endured a long fiasco of trying to find my sis and her friend at the airport, I'll skip the details. They were waiting for me in baggage claim while I was at passenger pick-up on the sidewalk. Literally after 2 hours, we finally met up and went off to Sam's Town Casino to get something to eat. It is like the closest Casino to my parent's house. I ordered the Breakfast Bar for $4.99. I didn't particularly want it but it was the best deal on the menu and I went to Vegas for the deals. Plus my sister, Vegas resident and buffet expert, reiterated the sole benefits of buffets; eat what you want and as much as you want. Hey, you don't have to bend my arm, I'm sold. The Breakfast bar was small and just opened. It was the usual eggs, bacon, sausage, potatoes, oatmeal, fruits, biscuits. Just normal & not out of the ordinary. No custom made omelettes, pancakes or belgium waffles but I guess that's what you can expect at a midnight buffet. We went to play some penny slot machines. I usually don't like to gamble because I am a big loser, but my sister talked me into having some fun. Now I always thought penny slots were for the cheap people and they never paid off anyways. I mean we're talking pennies. But really they can take your money really fast. You gamble based on line combinations (straight across and zigzag patterns). This ain't the typical 3 in a row stuff. You bet if you want to multiply the value of the lines you're playing (so to multiply your payouts). Doing all this can make it $1.50 a pull. Anyways my sister directed me to a game to try. I don't remember the name. I think it had animated barnyard animals. Anyways, I turned $5 into $25. It happened really fast and I was like wow, so I hit the cash out button, scared to lose it. Meanwhile my sister and her friend were losing money, about $20 - $40 and said hey try something else. I would just watch them play. Joss told me to play the Stripper slot machine. Now don't get excited it is just cartoons and nothing was explicit at all. Joss said, "you got to see the bonus round, it is funny". My sis said $5 may go quick so I put a $10 in. I played it and it was fun. I got up to $37 dollars at my peak and lost all the way down to $12 at my lowest but my average win was at $27. It seemed I could do no wrong. I'd lose a little and win a little but still be around $27. I luckily hit all the little bonuses several times. I was there for what seemed like hours but eventually cashed out at $30 to find my sister. They played for a little while more and we left the casino at about 2:30am. Man, that was late. When we got to my parent's house my mom waited up for us and I got a cold soda. The casinos are so smokey, it made me cough constantly. Being from California, I am not used to smoke indoors. I needed to drink for a while. I finally went to bed at 4 am. Off to American Idol tour in the morning.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Labor Day in San Francisco

Went to San Francisco to hang with my friend, Erik. He lives near the Haight so it is always fun to visit. We checked out The Beautiful Losers show at Yerba Buena Gardens. The show featured KAWS, TWIST, Margaret Kilgallen, Phil Frost,Ed Templeton and many more. There were displays of skateboards, action figures, zines, installations, photos, multimedia, etc. It was great. Also we checked out the Super7 store in Japantown. It is a newly opened store based on the magazine Super7. The magazine is devoted to mostly Japanese Toy Culture and the store has magazines, zines, books,toys and original art. I bought the Super7 magazine with Booska and Gary Baseman on the cover. Gary Baseman is one of my favorite artists. He has done illustrations for Rolling Magazine to animation for Disney. Lately he seems to have entered the fine art world and more recently have been designing collectable toy figures. I also bought "Pencil Fight" - an all art zine published by a cool guy named Bwana Spoons. I did an interview of him in my first zine called "FLICK". This particular issue is the limitedrelease with the signed and numbered silkscreened covers. The zine has plenty of drawings, illustrations, reviews and interviews. I also got a freebie comic called "Reggie 12" based on Ralph Stevenson's (Brian Ralphs) characters that were first seen in Giant Robot magazine. Guest artist in the comic was Martin Cendreda. I interviewed him in my latest zine, "The Collage Dropout". PLUG: To get that zine, hit me up at artchemist (dot) com. That is my website. I don't have a lot of Martin's comix so it is always nice to see his art. Same with Ralph Stevenson. I always look forward to seeing what stuff this guy does next.

Interracial Racism

We (me and Nich)had our first encounter with interracial racism on Thursday. Nich and I had our twins at the park playing, I was sitting at the side watching them. I was approached and asked which kid was mine. "Which kid was mine," I thought? "Well both kids are mine," I said defiantly. Why would he think different. He then said, (referring to Nich) "but she's not Chinese". He was not understanding I can have a wife of a different race and we weren't there at the park separately with one kid each. By the way, I am only about one eighth Chinese. I should mention this person doing the questioning was about 7 years old. I told him, noticing he had brothers and sisters (there at the park too), that my two kids were sisters just like he has brothers and sisters. I don't know why I said it, maybe to help him understand you have parents that have kids and we were parents that have kids. It's kinda hard to create a life long lesson for the kid on the spot that rationalizes and make an analogy that he can understand. Well then he said, "You have to be Ethiopian, because Ethiopian is the best!" (he was Ethiopian). He then said to me, "To be Ethiopian, you would have to gain more weight".(??? huh?)

Shaolin Soccer DVD review

What happens when an unemployed, ex-soccer star and an unemployed Shaolin Master come together? They decide to form a soccer team! An oddball assortment of Shaolin masters are recruited to be in the team and they must rise against all odds to come together, learn soccer, and compete. The movie was more over the top than I expected. I thought it would be pure kung fu and athletics, but it was more about flaming soccer balls and floating in the air special effects. Nothing wrong with that. I am just not used to seeing such big budget, special effects in Hong Kong movies. Stephen Chows wrote, directed and stars as the Shaolin Master and star player. I believe this movie has earned great reviews and movie awards internationally. I have waited a long time to see this on dvd. The dvd has no special features but contains the US theater and Chinese theater versions. The only difference I've seen is the US version edited a few parts out to make the story flow faster and they took out some gags. Overall the movie is entertaining.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Hi-Tech Woes Part 1

Well it seems I have bad luck with hi-tech or probably bad luck in general. I broke down and bought a Home DVD Recorder. I got a killer price through rebate at I figure it was about time to get into DVD recording. Our VCR is crappy that I wouldhave wasted $50+ bucks to get another one that'd be obsolete next year. So anyways, I have this DVD recorder and it has given me some grief.You first have to understand, it is not like a vcr. First you have to use DVD disks, just like for the computer which have different rules and formats like: DVD-R, DVD+R, or DVD+RW disks. Some other differences 1) Set up is hard to understand. They do not make it easy to set up, in fact depending on your tv, there are 3 options in setting up. 2) The dvd remote has double the buttons your vcr remote had. More to learn. 3) Online menus aremore complicated than your vcr. Settings, tv format, etc. Ugh. Well it took me a while to get it working which I think is right but the volume of the audio duringdvd playback is very low. Also viewing or recording a tv show through the dvd unit, you notice the picture is degraded (grainier than normal). I put inan email to the company, Aspire Digital with no response, not even an automated one. Today I sent the question again to support, info, and sales departments.Hopefully they can solve my problems. There is a known screen freezing problem with this model (number AD-8091), but you can download firmware onto a cd to fix it. I didn't notice a freezing problem but I figured if I install it maybe it will fix other problems. So I downloaded the file to cd, installed as directed and now it seems tomake my dvd player freeze occasionally. When I first saw the model on sale at ecost, I tried to do research on the model like or but could not find any reviews. I'll let you all know how it all works out.

We just watched "The Debut" on dvd. It is the first movie by and about Filipino-Americans. Starring Dante Basco and Joy Bisco. I related to it in many ways with themain character, Rueben. He wanted to be an artist but did not get support from his parents. Coming from the Philippines, Rueben's dad had higher aspirations for his son in coming to America and could not understand what could come out of drawing cartoons. Between Rueben's comic book collecting to the clothesline in the backyard, that was all me and my family. The DVD was filled with extras. And you learn how hard itis to get an independent movie made. I think it took them 7 years to complete the movie because of their grassroots funding. Traditional dancing, modern dancing, suped up hondas, flips playing basketball: maybe I'm a bit biased, but I thought it was a great movie.