Since 626 Night Market is tomorrow, I thought I’d blog about my visit last month.

If you’ve ever been to Asia, you know that one of the best things about visiting is the street food. I don’t mean like food trucks here. In Korea, street food usually comes from vendors setting up in arbitrary do-you-even-have-a-permit-to-operate-here random street corners, in eyesores of stalls covered in garish tarps, with overturned buckets for seats. But that’s the quick and easy way to get comfort food/hangover cures on the cheap. Their peak hours of operation tends to be from 10 pm to 6 am. You know, drinking time. Sometimes these stalls will conglomerate, creating a veritable market of po-jahng-mah-cha.

626 wants to try to bring that kind of experience to the US, though it’s kind of hard to emulate that same night food experience. For one, it doesn’t happen every night—just once a month during the summer. For another, the hours start way earlier and end way earlier. Which makes sense. Americans don’t have quite the same concept of nightlife. In Asia, there’s malls where the peak shopping hours are dedicated to the early AMs.

Because they lease out the Santa Anita racetrack, there’s an entrance fee of roughly $2. It’s certainly affordable, but I admit the Asian in me chafed at the idea of paying an entrance fee—it kinda takes away from the organic, spur of the moment feel of actual night markets, and instead makes it feel like a really big food festival instead. Which it is.

There is, however, a lot offered. There are event stages with singers and fashion shows, exhibitors and vendors for non-food shopping, and art on display. The racetrack is also open for viewing and offers some pretty spectacular architecture.

The main star is, of course, the food. And there were a lot of vendors that came. Because it’s in the San Gabriel Valley, there’s a big emphasis on Chinese/Taiwanese offerings, but some Malaysian, Korean, Japanese, Hawaiian options, too. The best LA foodtrucks also showed up, which could be a big draw for a lot of people, too. Generally, the food is cheap and delicious, the way street food is meant to be, but be sure to have plenty of cash on hand. Just be prepared for the smell of stinky tofu (which my friend insists is an acquired taste. Like durians).

Random thought while watching the Avengers

Wait, are you telling me Tony Stark has never had shawarma before?

Tony Stark. Who lived in Malibu, Los Angeles County at the time.

Never been to a Zankou Chicken. Which are everywhere around here.

Never had the glory that is that garlic sauce?!?! Put that shit on everything, dude!

07.04.13-07.07.13 - Anime Expo @ LA Convention Center

Annual pilgrimage to the con I’ve been going to since 2000 (wow!) As you can see, Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin) was the big show this year, with the producer George Wada in attendance. Got to meet the voice actor for Kakashi (Naruto), Kazuhiko Inoue, too, the signature which will be going to You Know Who You Are ;)

The big guest for me was Makoto Shinkai, who does ridiculously gorgeous anime, okay. An industry guest of Sentai Filmworks, there was a reception to meet him after the premiere of his new work, Garden of Words (which, sadly, I was capped out from). I did however get into the reception (just barely), and wow! How did I now know that AX had a lounge with plush couches and alcohol? What a great place to unwind. It was kind of hilarious at how very few people at the reception were actually mingling—very Shinkai, maybe. :P

Also of note, Good Smile Company was also there selling some con exclusives—which my dear friend got me one as an “early Christmas present” LOL! I’ll have to post pics someday. Totally bummed they sold out of Snow Miku, but they had plenty of gorgeous figures on sale. All out of my price range, sadly ;_;

Had a great time and met a bunch of cool people. Always grateful to the friends I see every year :)

In honor of Much Ado getting a wide release today, the second part of the Q&A at the Landmark Theater in Santa Monica

Q&A after Much Ado About Nothing Screening with Tom Lenk, Clark Gregg, Amy Acker, Joss Whedon, and Alexis Denisof.

Saw Joss Whedon’s highly anticipated Much Ado About Nothing at the Landmark Theaters this past Friday. And when I say “highly anticipated,” I mean that I was greatly looking forward to it. I was an English major in college, with an emphasis on adaptations, and I really developed a strong appreciation for Shakespeare growing up thanks to some very enthusiastic high school teachers. My junior seminar was even called Shakespeare and Film (taught by the wonderful Prof. Elliott). Though we didn’t study this play in particular, it’s always been one of the comedies I liked, and the Branagh film was one of my favorites growing up, so you’ll have to excuse any comparisons.

To start off, it’s very different in tone from the Branagh version, which is very light, bright, and full of color. Whedon’s version is in black and white, which gives it an indie flair, but also an overtone of seriousness that I didn’t read from the play (clearly Whedon thought otherwise), and generally lacks the overall camp but joyful feel of Branagh’s. This one feels slick, sexy, and almost mod-like.

Which isn’t to say that there isn’t a lot of comedy. Whedon makes great use of a lot of visual puns, helped in abundance because he filmed it in his own house by using stuff he just had around (apparently the party scene was partly an actual party going on while he was filming??). He also has a ton of actors on cast that share his brand of dry, sardonic wit, so their delivery is wry and great on comedic timing.

I think Benedict and Beatrice stole the show—as they often do. Acker and Denisof were really great, giving really good and varied interpretations that made these characters seem less like, well, characters, and like genuine people. Whedon chose to make them ex-lovers in this version, which added a whole new layer of pathos. So in this version, it was less about two gradeschool kids pulling each other’s hair because they liked each other, but two scorned lovers, which really made some of their fights seem pretty vicious and sad, not lighthearted and the hurricane of puns that most versions of the play go with.

Also, I am totally counting this as an LA movie. As I said, it was filmed at Whedon’s house, so there were a lot of sweeping shots of tree covered lanes and the golf course next door, lol. But LA could also use some non-noir movies. The city’s not always depressing, people. Plus, cameo by Sprinkles Cupcakes!

So after the film, there was a Q&A with the director and some of the cast, and apparently Whedon and his group of friends do regular Shakespeare readings??? How do I get in this group of friends?? I would pay to attend these readings. They were saying their Midsummer’s Night was memorable; that’s my absolute favorite comedy, and I would love to see Nathan Fillion as Nick Bottom. And isn’t it gratifying to know that even in this play, he’s still an ass? ;)

06.01.2013 - Make Music Pasadena

Summer is also about outdoor music festivals, and no way can I even dream of affording Coachella. This one was not only right in my own backyard, but free to boot! Sweet.

I was very impressed with the line-up, which included bands like We Are Scientists, Wild Nothings, and of course YBH. I was only able to go for a few hours (because it was hot hot hot), but they literally took over a several miles of Pasadena at a bunch of locations, setting up different stages with different genres of music. And like I said, free, so you could bounce around trying out different things. The main stretch of Colorado in Old Town was shut down, too, which is where I saw YBH, who were awesome by the way. And I also caught the tail end of a band called The Peach Kings, who weren’t bad at all. 

Totally keeping an eye out on this event for next year :)

It’s after Memorial Day, kicking off the summer (and pre-summer) season in Los Angeles, and that can mean only one thing.

No, not the beach. Don’t be ridiculous :P

It means fresh strawberry doughnuts from The Donut Man! This 24-hr little shack is in the middle of God knows where (actually, Glendora) and still has a line around the corner at every minute of the day. And who can blame them, because these are, without a hint of exaggeration, the best doughnuts in the county.

And during the summer months, they have seasonal favorites like fresh strawberry doughnuts (pictured above in all its glory), as well as fresh peach ones. Also recommended are the tiger tails and my personal favorite, Bavarian cream.

05.05.13 - EW Capetown Film Festival @ The Egyptian

Neil Gaiman (author), Travis Knight (Laika) at the Coraline screening for the Entertainment Weekly Film Fest (with the unfortunate Capetown moniker). I’ve seen this movie so many times and still couldn’t get enough of it, apparently.

Sorry for the audio