The Walk_ The Movie

Did I tell you I am a huge fan of Joseph Gordon-Levitt? Now, you know!

I follow his Facebook page. And, he posted a trailer of his new movie coming out next year, The Walk. The trailer only said that the movie is based on a true story, showing a man on top on the World Tradey Center, which was attacked on September 11, 2001. He looked out to the amazing view underneath his feet.

OMG, that’s a the story of Philippe Petit!!! His story was made into a documentary I watched last year! Well, of course, this would be a spoiler alert if you don’t have a clue who Philippe Petit is.

Here’s the new movie Trailer:

 

And if you are curious of who Philippe Petit is, you can watch this documentary trailer or visit my earlier blog. I promise it won’t be much of a spoiler to the movie.

 

Enjoy the new movie trailer!

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That’s all it takes ( )

So, what punctuation would you put in the parenthesis?

(Question Mark) That’s all it takes?

Yup. That’s what I said to myself when I landed in Hong Kong in July.

It wasn’t my plan to move back to China. Seriously. I was going to find a job, obtain H-1b sponsorship, get my paycheck and earn some dollars. Well, none of these happened. So I moved back to China. It was a very difficult decision. With so much to take care of between the decision being made and departure date. When I landed, I literally asked myself, “that’s all it takes?”

Yup. That was all it took. I packed up. Three suitcases, full of everything I was living on.

The decision was so difficult mainly because I had a feeling that I failed. And, this feeling was a very frustrating disappointment that was also emotional. Even it’s been a few months, I find it stressful to bring this up again. This decision meant a lot of changes. I will be in a distant relationship for the next however long period. I won’t be seeing my friends in Chicago area. I will be so far away from my best friend in South Carolina. These changes seemed so unbearable. As I set my foot onto the Hong Kong International Airport, I told myself, “that’s it! There’s no way back.”

That was all it took. It took me a 14-hour flight from Chicago to Hong Kong.

 

Lake Geneva

Lake Geneva, Switzerland in September, 2014

(Period) That’s all it takes.

My scalp is quite flaky from time to time. Sometimes it’s so bad that my hairline is affected. It started last winter. I thought the dry and cold climate in Chicago or the shampoo was the cause. It stopped for two months this summer until I had a 100F-fever for three days. Everything was back after then. It was so flaky that it seemed I didn’t wash my hair properly for a week.

I went to the doctor, who told me that it’s psoriasis. It’s related to my immune more than the climate or the shampoo that currently sits in my shower. Oh, and it could relate to stress. Great. I get stressed easily. When stress hits me, I don’t sleep well, which may weaken my immune system. Did I tell you that psoriasis has no cure? The only cure is to rest well, eat well and eliminate stress from life. (How is this possible?)

With some stress from the current job, psoriasis is back on my scalp! It’s super irritating. And stress is all it takes. No wonder there are stress-relieving classes out there because stress can really be the real killer! No kidding.

(Exclamatory mark) That’s all it takes! 

I was looking for jobs in bigger firms earlier. Once I got an invitation to take a test, prior to being selected to the next interview round.

I was actually honored and went all the way to Guangzhou’s University Park, almost 90 minutes by subway from home. The test was a written test. There were around 200 participants, mostly students. Each was given three pages of blank paper to write on.

There were essay questions. One of them was, “If Einstein got to live in the 21st century, what would he be most surprised about?” Well, that’s all it takes!

The three pages were full when I turned them in. I hadn’t written so much Chinese within limited time since 2008. It was like a Chinese test. When I got out of the test room, “That’s all it takes!” I just felt like a Hulk after I finished the written test.

Oh well, they never called me back.

Palo Alto by James Franco

Today was gloomy, cloudy, windy, rainy, and cold. It’s almost May and should be spring. Yet, I had to wear a jacket on my way out. But before I went out, I finished Palo Alto, the book by James Franco.

Not long ago, he was all over the news for flirting with a 17-year-old via Instagram. Reading this book just reminded me of the news.

Palo Alto is a book of stories about all these rebellious teens. A lot of pot, alcohol, and some sex. These kids were 14, drunk and high. In an age when they think they knew everything, thought they could be responsible for themselves, or thought they were smart enough to avoid being responsible for their trouble. To some degree, they might have been right. They could play the innocent card, the immature card, the curious card. But when you, or me, get to mid 20s, especially after college, you grow up in the night because parents no long back you up financially. You and I are all on our own, you know?

I wouldn’t say I wish I could go back to when I was a teen. Not that I don’t want to; it’s just different. I would go back to do some crazy stuff, knowing I could play the immature card to adults and authorities. When I was reading the stories of these kids killing animals, smoking, drinking, trying to have sex, I had mix feelings. At the age of 14, I was spending my second year in boarding school. In America, going to boarding school may not mean a good thing. But in China, private boarding school are usually good schools. So, there I was studying hard and gossiping with my girls because there were a lot of rich kids, whose family own business, factories and work for the government. There was no pot, vodka, or sex. I miss the dorm with my girls. I enjoyed the days where gossips were just about that girl who did not fit in with me and the other three girls. I talked behind a teacher and got caught. Teachers looked at me differently and probably hated me for a while. But I was one of the better students in the class. So they couldn’t really do anything to me. It was good days.

But I was curious if I were put into this situations with these teens, would I fit in? I was in American for my sophomore year in high school. It was in a Detroit suburb. It wasn’t like Palo Alto crazy. Or may it was just because I was hanging out with the good people. I was just wondering what if I were one of them. I might have been just one of them if I were in American high school. Or I might have been the nerd that nobody talked to. Who knew.

I picked this book also because I was curious how good a writer James Franco was and is. Well, this book is about these rebellious and irresponsible teens in adults’ eyes (these teens, if they really lived, for sure thought they were being themselves and cool). I didn’t find any evidence of adults and judging like we adults do in the book. All stories written in teens’ eyes. Even how they describe authorities, like the probation counsellor, and old people, adults, etc.

Writing techniques were pretty unique. But especially in Part I, each story has its own narrator. I didn’t learn who the narrator was until I read the conversations. In addition, in Part II, within the same story, the narrator changed. It could be very confusing.

When you get to certain age, you know to obey to the authority. You, at least pretend to, respect them in the presence. But some teens, like Teddy, just did what he wanted to. He was late to the meeting with probation counselor. He was cursing. He was kicked out of the library for drawing dicks and vaginas in children’s books instead of completing his community services.

After six years in America, I am not surprised by teens here do such things. It’s the culture here. It’s the peer pressure here. Bad kids were cool. In the school, they knew who had sex first, who could get alcohol or pot. They wanted to go to party and get shitface. This, more of less, is like college.

I am also curious how the movie will turn out.

 

A [Chinese] Recipe for Crawfish

Crawfish!! I found them in store and bought them for dinner. I have never cooked crawfish before. These ones I got was already precooked. But I am sure my following recipe would work with raw and fresh ones. It will just take longer to cook.

Ingredients:
Crawfish- 1.5 lb
Garlic- 4-5 cloves
Ginger- 3-4 slices
Green onions- 3 full bunches
Oyster sauce- 4-6 spoons
Soy sauce- 2-3 spoons
Pinch of salt and sugar
Water

And, a medium-sized pan!

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1. Cut each garlic clove into halves, slice gingers, and cut green onions into 2 to 2 1/2 inch pieces. Then sauté all of them with pinch of salt and sugar with oil;

2. Once garlic, green onions and ginger get brown, add the crawfish in the pan until they defrost and heat up;

3. Pour oyster sauce and soy sauce on top of the crawfish; Stir well; (Optional: if you do like spicy food, you can add in jalapeños or red chili pepper, or even sprinkle some black pepper. )

4. Add in water that slightly covers the crawfish; Still use high heat until it boils and steams;

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5. As it boils, turn down to medium and let it cook and absorb the sauce for 20-30 minutes;
It’d be awesome if you could cover it with a lid!

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Lastly, prepare some paper towels and enjoy!

You can also top it with white sesame to serve.

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This recipe is also good with shrimp and crabs! Give it a try, and you will like it! 

Sorry, Man.

Awkwardness in the elevators with strangers, coworkers, and mostly people…

The end of the day for me finally arrived; but my coworkers had to work OT tonight and this weekend.

I walked into the elevator and smiled, then trying to bury my face in my thick scarf as I thought it must be so cold and windy outside.

The Man, in the elevator with me, wearing earmuffs and a cross body messenger bag, greeted me, “how are you?”

I unplugged my earbud from my right ear and replied, “good. You?”

As he was buttoning his black peacoat, “okay. It’s nice out.”

I spent no time and replied with sarcasm, “no, it sucks.”

At 8 a.m. this morning, I got out of the train station when it was windy, snowy and chilly at low 20 Fahrenheit. The rain yesterday had melted most of the snow on sidewalks, and left the surface very moist. As it started snowing in the early morning and the temperature dropped, sidewalks were icy and slippery. I waddled to work, keeping my face down in my grey yarn scarf and holding my hood to keep my ears and head warm from the snow and wind.

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Chicago at sunset… And, it was nice out.

It is one of the busiest season at the office in the year; I hadn’t had time to step out. I sat in an office in the back of the building, from where the windows faced the back of the other two buildings on the block and valleys. I saw no sun. The glass windows on a higher floor of one building reflected the clouds, blown and moved quickly by the strong wind. So I thought, it must be cold outside.

Therefore, I was pretty convinced that the Man must have been joking.

Our conversation ended as the elevator stopped on the third floor and picked up two more people on their way out of work.

The gate is only 20 seconds from the elevator. I quickly put on my hood and my gloves, preparing to fight the wind and chill. I leaned forward to push the heavy revolving door and saw a woman walking towards me without a coat…

Oh, it’s not that cold any more. No more snow. The Man in the elevator really meant it was nice out.

I turned around the corner and headed west for the train station for home. After a few blocks, I saw the sun and its reflection on the glass skyscrapers and felt terrible about the conversation in the elevator.

He really meant it.

No wonder our conversation ended. But I hoped he had enjoyed that nice day, disregard my wrong sarcasm. It’s really hard to not make fun of Illinois weather. If you’ve lived or visit Chicago especially, you know how quickly weather could change.

Three Easy and Healthy Recipes

School has started for many of you. I remember the nights I stayed in library writing paper and finally had to leave because I was hungry and couldn’t focus any more. Yes, I did stop by Jimmy John’s and Subway from time to time. Not gonna lie to you. But eating late at night isn’t healthy actually. If you choose to eat at late night, eat healthy. You will need your functional body to get through your semester.

Or if you are in the workforce like myself, you should try to stay healthy because you can’t afford to call in sick, and you know this is true to death. So, I offer you these midnight snacks that are healthy and easy to make. They are also inexpensive. Not only are they good snacks, but also good appetizers. Give it a try.

Don’t eat too much before bed though. I know they are very yummy to refuse.

1. Noodles & Ramens

Basic Ingredient: Noodles/Ramen/Udon, and Your favorite sauce

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How can you not have noodles in your cabinet?

I am very sensitive to MSG (Though MSG enhances the flavors, I think natural flavors are the best); therefore, I almost never use the flavor pack. I usually boil noodles or ramen by itself and make my own sauce.

WAIT, don’t skip to next recipe yet. Making your own sauce is so easy. You must have those bottles of sauces in your cabinet that you use one at a time. This is the time you can be creative.

My favorite is sesame oil and soy sauce. If you like garlic, put some mixed garlic. The ratio should be something like 1:2:1 or 1:3:2 (Sesame oil: Soy Sauce:Garlic).

You can also substitute sesame oil with regular cooking oil, vegetable oil or olive oil. And microwave the mix sauce for 10 sec. Then just mix in with your noodles or ramen.

My recent favor sauce is dark vinegar, soy sauce and Korean chili paste. Chillies paste or hot sauce is totally optional. Then I topped my noodles with green onion, garlic, and Chinese picked stem (榨菜 Zhà Cài).

At last, if you don’t like to be creative in sauces or have a sensitive tummy, go for what you know you would definitely like.

Online Noodle Shop:
Yamibuy | This link will take you to the heaven of Asian ramen. So many different kinds to try.
Organic Ramen | In the picture, I actually use something similar to this.
Amazon | And, you always have Amazon to check out ramen!

2. Fried Rice Pancake

Basic Ingredient: Rice, eggs, and oil | Add-ons: anything you like!

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Rice and turkey sausage pancake

In every Asian household, rice cooker is a necessity. My rice cooker is awesome! If you eat rice a lot, definitely get one. Rice is very cheap. Fresh cooked rice is much better than pre-packed rice sold in grocery stores. Also, rice cookers have non-stick surface and are easy to clean, much better than cooking rice out of your pan. So true.

So you need to make rice, of course. I put in turkey sausage. But if you like veggies, you can put in veggies as well. Sauté your favorite ingredients, such as onions, mushroom,beans, etc.

Then use a big bowl to whisk eggs with a pinch of salt. Then add in rice and sautéed ingredients. At this time, your rice shall be saturated with the eggs. Add oil to your pan, and pour in the mix. You will hear sizzling.

Once the bottom is brown, you can flip it. Also, you don’t have to be a chef, trying to flip the whole thing at one time. You can cut it to bite size with your spoon. That’d what I do and is super easy, and it makes me so proud of myself.

Of course, always welcome to eat it with your favorite sauce. Sriracha is awesome with this.

*This, I cooked 1 cup of rice and used 2 eggs.

Rice on Amazon | I eat about a cup of rice for one meal. When I eat rice nearly everyday, a 15lb bag of rice lasts more than a month for myself. They go as low as $8.99 at H-Mart.
Rice cookers | You can go fancy with the $140 rice cooker, or basic with a $13 one. They do the same job, except fancy ones can steam or make soup, etc.

3. Apple chips!

Basic Ingredient: Apple slices | Supply: Parchment paper (for I didn’t have any baking sheets) and an oven 

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Apple chips. Don’t need to buy them in stores any more! Bake your own. Healthier and cheaper.

I love dried fruits and fruit chips. I had a few old apples before and wasn’t sure if they were still good. So I baked them. And they turned out AWESOME. You sliced them. The thinner you slice them, the more quickly they will bake and crispier.

Bake them at a low temperate, 270F. They get burnt easily at a high temperature. This was the temperature I baked them at for almost two hours. I took them out and they were still a little soft. So I let them air dried. Guess what, they became crispy! Well, Illinois is pretty dried in the winter with the heat and wind. If you are in a humid state, definitely bake them longer before they get burned.

Some recipes online you can dip them in a sugar syrup. But I tried it without; they are good too. So you don’t have to. I just prefer less sugar.

While you bake them, enjoy your TV show, a book, or get your homework done! You can even pack them with you the next day. How awesome is that!

Treat your tummy nicely and feed it some good healthy food. I hope you like my recipes.

To-read Book list!

I have slowly stopped writing about three years ago. I used to make notes of daily life. That slowly became weekly, then monthly, and in the past year   semiannually. This had saddened so much.

My mentality towards writing also has changed. Writing, beyond expressing myself in words, also has become my career and skill. If I continue to stop writing, my career will crumble.

Then I looked back to the days when I write almost daily, in middle school and high school, and wondered why I wrote much more frequently. It was because I read a lot back in the days. I read novels mostly. I read in science classes, the least liked ones. I also read essays for Chinese class. Some are modern essays, some ancient. So I am picking up reading, and writing again!

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How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, by Mohsin Hamid

This book has inspired me to rethink China as a rising middle-class. The story gave me some reader experience I never had before, especially the capability to imagine and characterize the protagonists. Usually a novel gives a set story, where the write determine every and each details. But this one, you can even name them yourself.

Mohsin Hamid also left gaps between different stages of “you,” when you can fill in events for “you” and “the pretty girl,” by which Hamid writes the protagonists. What happened when they didn’t meet? When did he get married? How was his wedding? All kinds of questions you have in mind, and, as a reader, you can create answers for these questions.

This is a novel, a very realistic one. All characters reminded me of certain friends and family members. You may not be a novel fan. If you are interested in the rising Asia and its middle class, this is a good book. It gives you details. I wouldn’t be surprised if this was based on real story and experience. In fact, I think this is a novel of many’s life experience. At the end, Asia means Asia. It doesn’t refer to any specific countries, which even leaves more room for you to imagine and relate to.

Related Blog: Speaking as a rising Chinese middle-class…Hello, Cappuccino

 

To-Read Book List:

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, by Haruki Murakami

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage: Wiki | Amazon

Over the years, Haruki Murakami is one of my favorite author! This is his new book. It came out last year in China. The English version is expected this summer.

I have found the Chinese version in earlier January. But it was only half of the book, which made me really sad for a week. But last week, I have found the complete version of it!

I am planing to finish this book by Monday. I read really fast in Chinese. Murakami is very detail with feelings, especially loneliness. This is another book that describes loneliness. Under his pen, loneliness is always curious.

Two years ago, I read 1Q84. It took me a month to finish the book because it was a little heavy to finish. At the time, loneliness was too much to bear because my grandfather was very sick and passing away. The book was hard to read. On the other hand, it was a LONG story. But I really like his novels and can’t wait to finish this new novel!

While waiting, you can also look for 1Q84. FYI, it’s a LONG story though. It’s composed of three books.
Related Blog: Meant to Be

The Wolf of Wall Street, by Jordan Belfort

Since The Great Gatsby, I have fell in love with Leonardo Dicaprio. In the past three months, I watched many of his recent movies, including the Great Gatsby, Django Unchained, The Departed, and Shutter Island. And I sat through three hours of his new movie, The Wolf of Wall Street, walking out of the theatre completely mind-fucked by the story and his acting skills.

I was once a sales person, and did not like what I was doing. I couldn’t even convince myself in the products. I made no sales and quit before I got a total brainwash. Besides Belfort is really a jerk in this wrongful business, I am interested in his book, wondering how he reviews his past in words.

Wonder if he ever regretted being such a jerk. Oh well.

Or any of the left behind filthy details of his past that weren’t put in the movie? Let’s find out, film VS book!

 

 

Year Zero, by Ian Buruma

I have not learned much about World War II. All I learned as a history major in high school and minor in college was mainly modern history, in 1990s, and  back in to 1800s, and also ancient Chinese history of all kinds of dynasties and regimes.

Hopefully this book will be a good read and fill me in about 1945. So many years before many of us existed and the year when many nations recovered from violence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is your book list? Or any recommendations?