Monday, April 21, 2008

Gangsters in OC and Some Pate

On my second day in the OC, I drove to Little Saigon, which is about 15 minutes away from Disneyland. I was craving good Vietnamese food and wanted to explore.

"Little" is a misnomer for this place.  This place is freaking huge!  I felt like I had actually traveled TO Vietnam.  Every sign all over the place is in Vietnamese there's nary a white person in sight.  I expected the normal "Saigon Grill"-type restaurants and your average crazy Asian grocery store, with shoppers in their own world and don't realize the existence of other foods outside of their dimension.  I saw all those and also Vietnamese fabric stores, travel agents, banks, vacuum repair shops, candy stores, name it, I saw it.  I also heard later on that I was driving through prime Asian gangland territory and that there are regular fights between the Cambodians and Vietnamese.  "Fearless" should be my middle name.

In addition to eating some tasty Vietnamese Pho and Banh sandwiches, I also was on a quest to find some Vietnamese pate.  For those of you have never experienced the ethereal delight known as a Banh-Mi sandwich, what's keeping you?!?  It's the most delicious hoagie sandwich you've ever had with either pork or chicken or beef as the main ingredient or a crispy baguette, and dressed with cucumber, pickled daikon or carrots, cilantro, some hot sauce and Asian mayonnaise and finally pate.  If they changed every sandwich shop in NYC into a Vietnamese gangsta deli, I couldn't be happier.

It was the pate that I was on a quest for.  I've been wanting to make my own Banh-Mi forever, but couldn't find the special Vietnamese pate.  When I got to Little Saigon that day, I had my list of five or six Vietnamese grocery stores to find this magical substance.  One by one, I crossed the stores off my list without luck.  Finding this stuff is like trying to find oil in Texas.  You know it should be there, but where the hell is it?

At the last store, I finally asked some random woman.  I asked, "Excuse me.  Do you know the pate that's used in Vietnamese Banh?  Do you know where I can buy some?"  I thought she was going to point to me some hidden store in a dark alley.  Maybe this was black market stuff (sold by those Asian gangs).  

The woman was very nice and told me, "Oh sandwich pate?  We just use the American one.  Even in Vietnam, they just use the American one."

So much for my efforts at being authentic.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

American Idol: I Need To Fix My Make-up Now

Scene: I was sitting on my couch, and had just finished watching the American Idol performances and then the Results show when the following IM conversation ensued:

Friend: "How are you?"
Me: "Sad. :-("
Friend: "What's wrong?"
Me: "American Idol is tearing me up. Haha."

Ok, so this week American Idol, the emotions on Idol bordered on maudlin, but I'm a softie and am not ashamed to say that American Idol really tugged at my heart strings this week like a musical version of Terms of Endearment.

David Cook got me started with his rock treatment of "Always Be My Baby" (the guest mentor this week was Mariah Carey.) I was transfixed. His performance definitely goes on to my list of favorite Idol performances ever. It was earthy, original and a shining moment for David Cook. But what got me was when the camera panned to his brother, Adam, who is battling brain cancer. His brother had tears in his eyes. I heard later that during the commercial break, David Cook went down into the audience to give his brother a big hug, and everyone, including the judges stood up and was cheering. Wish I could have seen that.

The next night Elliott Yamin sang during the first half of the Results show, looking ten times better than he ever has before. He is living proof that having a good dentist will do wonders for your looks. Anyway, he sang "Free" from his new album. Afterwards, he dedicated his performance to his mom, who had passed away, just a few days before. He pointed out that this was his first performance ever that his mom wasn't at. It was all the more touching since Elliott looked so great.

Then Mariah Carey came out and sang "Bye Bye" from her new album. Mariah wrote this song about her deceased father, and the song is all about missing your lost loved ones. My path towards a train wreck started by Elliott Yamin continued. Despite her idiotic hand gestures, her inability to quite hit the glass-breaking high notes and her spandex dress that pushed up her breasts to her neck, I ate the maudlinness of the night all up.

FINALLY, Kristy Lee Cook mentioned that she can't get her beloved horse back. She had sold her favorite horse to afford her trip to the auditions. Last night, she mentioned that the buyer won't sell him back. All her fans should petition to get her horse back.

I'm pathetic.

(Sidebar: sorry for the lack of American Idol posts this year. I've been a little late in watching the episodes this year. I'm finally catching up now.)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

My Top Chef Night

I've had a Bravo day before, and tonight I had a Top Chef night. And I even met a fellow blogger tonight!

So here's my grainy picture of the Top Chef posse from the signing and Q&A session I attended tonight at everyone's favorite neighborhood megabookstore. I also had my second sighting of cutie Raggedy Ann-dy Cohen, who was standing in the back, looking all dapper. Apparently Sam, from Season 3 was also standing in the back, but I completely missed him.

They are so cute.

I wish I had had time to ask a question, but by the time I thought of one, the Barnes & Noble lady was all, "Ok, time for two more questions!", and chose two people on the other side of the room

Then again, I guess I might have taken focus off from the guests of honor.

Monday, April 14, 2008

First Class Service At The Orange County Airport Rental Counter

I left Hawaii to head over to John Wayne Airport (I just love saying the name of that airport). On the way there, the flight attendants needed a doctor to help a woman who was apparently hyperventilating. I'm not sure what exactly happened, but in the middle of the in-flight movie, which was Enchanted by the way, one of the flight attendants asked the entire cabin over the plane PA system, "If any passenger is a doctor, could you please ring your call button?" Luckily there was one, and she attended to the passenger. The passenger was about seven rows ahead of me, so I didn't see much. So if you're expecting a dramatic ending, I'm afraid I have to disappoint you.

We landed at John Wayne Airport (there I go again), and I got my bags and marched off to the rental car desk. I show the rental car guy my credit card and my license, and he said to me "Hi Terence, I'm Dave." All of a sudden we're friends, and he's telling me how nice my picture is. Then he whipped out a GPS unit and started telling me that I HAD to have it, and I'm thinking where the hell did he get that from?

I went along with him and explain that I already have a GPS unit. He replied, "Oh really? What kind? That's smart you have one. Not too many travelers are as smart as you." He then saw my gigundo tennis bag, and said, "You play tennis? I wish I could play. You look like you're pretty good. Do you have uneven arms? Tennis players develop uneven arms."

I was starting to get antsy, and plus I was pretty tired from my flight (I still can't get over how far Hawaii is from the mainland. It looks so close on the map!) But I tend to indulge people who are trying to be nice, especially to those who are providing a service to me because I feel indebted to them. I often tip delivery men, for example, fairly generously because they always look like they're about to die from sprinting from the restaurant to my apartment building. So when a situation like this starts to seem like eternity, I have a hard time saying, "If you don't mind, I need to get going..."

He gave me a Chevrolet Cobalt, my second one after Kauai. This time it was red (there's a theme here). Then he looked at me, suggesting that a serious discussion was about to ensue. All he had to tell me was to warn me about driving around in Orange County. I kind of thought that he wanted to have a "let's drive while we talk" discussion, but luckily it didn't come to that. If he hadn't been behind the Budget rental car counter, I would have started to suspect that he didn't even work for budget.

Finally the guy let me go. I gathered my bags and headed out to the garage. On my way out, I managed to knock my big ass tennis bag into the sliding door so that somehow it became unaligned with the door's track. I turned around and realized that the half of the door I had knocked into was now staying open. Oh well. I already had paid my dues at the rental counter.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

We Interrupt Normal Blogging To Reminisce About TCho In Turkey

I am incredibly lazy when it comes to taking pictures off my camera. It's probably because I am incapable of taking a good picture. My face contorts into these weird expressions that scream, "I'm pissed"; or "I'm taking a shit"; or "I've got a thing in my eye; can you see it?"

Anyway, tonight at the ungodley hour of 2AM on Wednesday night, I decided to upload all the pictures saved on my camera. I think this picture of moi came out pretty well. It's from the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul. To read more about my adventures with the whirling dervishes of Turkey, go here and here.

And here's one from the ruins at Ephesus, which is an ancient Greco-Roman city about 6 hours east of Istanbul.

Posting pictures six months after the fact. Tsk, tsk. I'm a terrible blogger.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

A Hawaii Story You'll Hate To Love

Before I invaded LA and showed LA what I was all about, I made a quick side trip to the island of Kauai. It was pretty relaxing, and I don't plan on boring you with things like, "and then we went to the beach, and boy was it hot!" But I would be remiss to not at least tell you about my ho-hum trip to Waimea Canyon, the weird date rapist guy who tried to pawn his girlfriend to me, and the couple who I ended up having dinner with at the local ramen bar.

So when I arrived in Lihue, I was ready to see what made Bill Gates book every single hotel room on the island for his wedding. By the way, before I got there, I had been pronouncing "Lihue" as 'LIE - HEW.' It's really 'LE - HOO-EE'. How embarrassing.

Let me say from the outset that Kauai is BOOORRRRIIIINNNGGG. It's really quiet and when you drive around, all you see are miles and miles of sugar cane. It's the place you want to go, if you want to go in hiding. I drove all over the island in my trusty white Chevrolet Cobalt (I got to know Chevrolet's lovely Cobalt very well.) I saw a few sites including Waimea Canyon, which I have to admit was pretty impressive, but every Canyon I will ever see for the rest of my life will always pale in comparison to THE Grand Canyon. I only wish that my hair didn't look so weird in this pic. Thank you Aloha Airlines for the long flight that got my hair all nappy. May you rest in peace.

For the rest of my stay, I chilled at my hotel. On Saturday, I nearly keeled over from exhaustion after playing four hours of tennis in the hot sun. Holy shit. I think I understood then what "dehydration" and "heat exhaustion" meant. But at least I whooped that ball machine's ass. I also did play against a real person--another guest at the hotel--and won against him too. So my near-death experience was worth the effort.

I did meet a nice couple one night while having some noodles at the local Saimin bar who were on the island, looking for wedding sites. Actually the hostess put us directly across the counter from each other. At first I was across the girl, but then I moved down one seat because it was just weird. If I wanted to, I could have lovingly looked into her eyes, which I didn't think her fiance would appreciate.

And then there was the Date Rape Guy, some random dude who sat near me in the lobby bar lounge area. Unprompted, he says to me, "Hey, we have an extra girl in our group. You should take your best shot with her. She's pretty easy."

Uh, WTF?

Next stop for T. Cho, the OC!

Monday, April 07, 2008

Where Did The Time Go?

Last night, I sat down on my couch with a big bowl of reheated Indian chicken curry that I had made the night before, ready to enjoy my dinner and catch up on blogs (those of others, as well as my own).

Then at about 9PM, I CONKED out and had just about the best nap of my life. When listing hobbies, why is saying that you nap a bad thing? It's a well-honed skill, I say.

If only I could blog while napping. Then again, I've never been good at multi-tasking. Maybe I need a nap cap like the woman has below.