Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Dragonflight By Anne McCaffrey

The GOOD: Dragons. And lots of them. There's nothing more disappointing than reading a book with the word "dragon" in the title and then finding that there are not enough dragons in the story. The character Lessa is amusing in a vicious sort of way, and it is pretty cool that a slave girl saves the world. 

The BAD: The plot is sound but a little too convenient. Revelations didn't seem to strike me as revealing. My reaction to major reveals was "Oh, okay, that's convenient." The relationship between Lessa and F'Lar the dragonman is kinda disturbing because the overall characterization of Lessa makes her seem like a "girl" in the teenage sense of the word whereas descriptions of F'Lar are like "man" in the mid-30s sense of the word. I think technically they're noted as closer in age, but the characterization pulls them apart. F'Lar always feels more like an uncle or father figure to Lessa, but they're also involved, so it seems a bit jail-baity. Also, their "romance" generally just doesn't feel substantial. They supposedly can barely be apart near the end of the story, and Lessa gets jealous at one point, but it just wasn't enough or believable. I couldn't get invested in the romance and it just felt forced. 

Bottom Lin: Great story for action, adventure, and dragons, but falls flat on the romance aspect.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Even Random Ninjas needs support!

You can't live in L.A. and not be a supporter of local music. It's part of our history and in our blood. This is one hard working band that's going to bring a new amazing sound to the world. Check out their video and support!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Love Boat: Exciting and… Taiwanese?

“I’ve signed you up for a Chinese language and cultural program in Taiwan for this summer,” my mom informed me in Taiwanese.
I had just graduated from high school, and college was just a couple months away. Being a total goodie-two-shoes super nerd, I was delighted at the news. A summer of Chinese culture and language? Heck yeah. Immediately I shared the news with friends and quickly found out that others in my heavily Taiwanese American neighborhood were going on the trip. I waved the brochure around enthusiastically. Then someone asked, “So why did you decide to go on the Love Boat?”
Read the rest of the article published on 8Asians:

Ip Man 2: The New Age of Kung Fu

Donnie Yen has been one of those awesome martial artists that have always had a solid presence in the martial arts film world, but with Jacky Chan and Jet Li always headlining, I’ve noticed it’s pretty easy for the casual American viewer to pass him by, even though he’s been the star of many films in his own right and has crossed fists with every kung fu film star out there. When I watched Blade II in 2002, for example, I cried out in disbelief when Yen was quickly and easily killed by mutant vampires. Apparently one of the only ones in the theater affronted by a such an easy Donnie Yen kill, I’m surprised I wasn’t booed to silence as promptly I spent a good fifteen minutes complaining about it in my theater seat. At least he had a pretty sweet fight scene opposite Jet Li in the film Hero that same year.

Read more at the article published at 8Asians.com

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Books I'm writing...

Since people are asking when the next Phoenix Mountain book is coming out, I thought I would share my upcoming book writing projects that are in the works. Here they are in the order of planned completion:

Copper's New School - 40% complete

Copper's a little Taiwanese American girl who just started first grade at a brand new school. She's the only Asian kid in the entire school, and that causes her have a tough time trying to figure out who or what she is, but eventually, she travels full circle and finally comes home.

The Writing Teacher's Toolkit - 20% complete

Writing is an extremely important skill to master, but it's one of the hardest subjects to learn and teach. This book is a collection of practical strategies for teaching writing based on over a decade of experience teaching writing to students of all ages as well as on the existing literature on writing pedagogy, including a theoretical framework to help teachers understand and manage the complexities of the the writing process and human learning. Reproducibles included.

The Return to Phoenix Mountain - 15% complete

Qi script power is awakening all over the world creating panic and fear. Authorities start to take drastic measures to try to control the situation, and Kyle and Tai find themselves having to battle people who are using their qi script abilities for selfish purposes. They then find themselves summoned back to the world of Tian to face a new and unexpected enemy.

NIN - 20% complete

In a United Earth society with its central government located on the moon, Siraya is an average 8th grade girl from a unremarkable neighborhood who is accepted at the NIN Academy, the most exclusive high school in the world that is located on the moon itself. Only the best, brightest, strongest, and fastest are accepted to the Academy, and Siraya is the first from her family to gain entrance. Graduates of this school are destined to become leaders of humanity, but as Siraya starts her first day, she finds out that she's out-classed, out-run, and out-smarted by everyone in her class. Not used to being the dead last worst student at school, Siraya struggles with homesickness and failure as she tries to decide whether she's cut out to be a NIN.


In the old west, a young writer Eowyn and her older brother Aidyn find themselves surrounded by a band of outlaws. All seems lost when they miraculously are rescued by a mysterious young cowboy who throws sheriff stars like daggers and takes down the bad guys with super human fighting. Eowyn quickly puts pen to paper as she begins to record the tall tales of the Cowboy Ninja.

I can't wait to finish all these books ^_^

Chaos Theory

I ended up watching Chaos Theory because I was looking for another movie like The Proposal and I'm a student of chaos/systems theory.

What a pleasant surprise! This one had me cracking up and crying at the same time.

Ryan Reynolds really outdid himself in this one, bringing the main character, OCD afflicted Frank Allen, to life with a vengeance. I couldn't help but join the poor guy on his tragic journey of self-discovery while at the same time laugh at his quirky stress responses.

Favorite Quote: "Speech...my wife...the movies...TSH GAH!"

The Proposal with Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds

My first impression of this movie when I saw it on billboards was that it was just a rehash of a same-old same-old tale of green card marriage scams, but I was interested in watching it because of Sandra Bullock. When I had chances to watch it, though, I didn't follow through, thinking I probably wouldn't enjoy it. Finally, while folding laundry one day and cleaning up my desk, I figured, what they hey, it's on my netflix streaming. I'll just let it play while I work.

This ended up being one of the funniest romance comedies I've seen. There were three elements that made it a great film.

First, Sandra Bullock is always fun to watch. She did a great job of playing a real pain in the neck, matriarchal boss and then showing the small emotional changes the character goes through as she develops.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Green Hornet (2011)

I hardly get to go to theaters to watch movies anymore, but thanks to some friends who have been long time Jay Chou fans, I ended up watching this one on the opening weekend. 

I went into watching this film with very low expectations. I didn't expect to be laughing and smiling the whole way through. Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised. This ended up being one of the funniest movies I've ever seen. 

The chemistry between Jay Chou and Seth Rogen worked out really well. Overall, it was great storytelling, cutting edge but basic at the same time. 

Response to Amy Chua’s “Why Chinese Mothers are Superior”

This article was originally published on ASIANWEEK.COM
On January 8, Yale professor and writer Amy Chua published an article entitled “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior” in The Wall Street Journal. It caused what has been called “a firestorm of controversy“.
Chua’s article has brought an important issue to light, though I haven’t seen it mentioned in any of the scathing comments I’ve read so far. I haven’t read all of them (3397 comments at the writing of this).
The important issue is: What’s the point of all this achievement anyways?

Monday, January 3, 2011

Back to the Future...again!

I just watched the Back to the Future Trilogy on the 25th anniversary blu-ray release, and I hadn't cracked up that much in a long, long time.

I was seven years old when the movie came out in theaters in 1985, and there are so many reasons why watching the whole triology again was so much fun.

First of all, it's just such a great film series to watch. It's just as much fun today as the first day I saw it (and then proceeded to watch again and again and again). The acting is just fabulous. The story is really character driven. Even though it's got time travel and some cool effects, it's really about the character Marty, Doc Brown, and the whole gang. The actors really make the characters come to life, but also take it a step further so that they're almost caricatures but at the same time grounded, realistic, and believable. Marty is just that typical teenage kid that any American adolescent can connect with, so you just can't help but join him on his wild and crazy adventures. Doc Brown is totally that fun crazy scientist that every kid wishes was their uncle. Biff and all his incarnations is that burly and perfectly stupid bully that everyone just loves to hate. Then there's Marty's parents, so very Mom and Dad yet so vulnerable and human at the same time. The soundtrack is just so epic and perfect. I think putting this big-sound, epic-fantasy music mixed with 80's hip style really made it feel like an adventure in your own backyard.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Tinabot's Trip to Hawaii (Honolulu, Oahu)

Why Hawaii?

Well, first of all, it's Hawaii. It's a beautiful place with delicious food and nice people with a rich and diverse culture and heritage. There's so much to do, and the natural scenery is simply gorgeous. Second, it's America. It's great to be in a place that's different enough to make me feel like I'm "away" but where I can still feel the comfort and convenience of everything that makes America awesome. It also felt great to know that the money I was spending was going back into the U.S. economy. Land of the free. Absolutely.

Day 1

The first thing I noticed when I arrived at Honolulu Hawaii on Oahu was this sign at the airport that said "go! Hawaiian". I'm still not sure what the unconventionality means. I had left behind a Los Angeles drenched in continuous rain, and the humidity in Hawaii hit me right away, but it still wasn't as bad as the humidity in a Taiwan metropolis on a summer day.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Laurence Yep's "Dragon of the Lost Sea"

I was walking between the short, dusty brown shelves of my local neighborhood library when I saw it. Someone had placed a gray hardcover book on display on the top shelf. Epically splashed across the cover was a beautiful painting that was reminiscent of classic Chinese brush art complete with sloping mountains and a bright moon. What really caught my eye, however, was the painting of an East Asian boy riding on the back of a dragon that was Asian in design except that she had wings like a European dragon. [The cover you see in the Amazon link here is a new one and not the one I saw as a child.] Immediately judging this book by its cover, I snatched it off the shelf and checked it out with my library card, my little nine-year-old mind greedy and ready for an adventure filled with dragons, magic, and demons. Dragon of the Lost Sea by Laurence Yep remains my favorite childhood book until this day.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Tamarind Duck Tacos and Death Sauce

I have an affinity for dishes like this. I think it has something to do with my identity issues. 

Imagine peking duck with a lightly spiced red sauce and wrapped in little tortillas. White mantao bao bread (featured in my novel) has always been a favorite of mine, so the ones you see on top with the fried tofu in the middle were very satisfying. They did, however, come with 'death sauce'. I hope that's not indicative of the sodium content of the sauce. I guess that's real ninja food. 

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Pig's Blood Anyone?

When I can, I like to stop by Class 302 in Rowland Heights, sit in desks like the ones my parents used as kids in Taiwan, and order some classic Taiwanese bento and snack dishes. This place has amazing drinks and shaved ice desserts, too.

Be forewarned. The pigs blood is deceptively labeled as "rice cake with peanuts" or something in English even though the Chinese on the menu clearly indicates that it's pig's blood.

I mention a lot of food in Phoenix Mountain mainly because I have so much good food around me all the time. I think it's also a result of watching so much Japanese anime, a genre which often quiet scenes of tasty foods.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Fish

The Fish
by tinabot

There once was a fish in a bowl
That jumped out and cracked his soul
He realized that day
He never had a say
In what he could live in at all

Friday, May 14, 2010

Peanut Butter Mochi...because we can.

It's delicious. Especially with tea.

LA Food

"They say we'll kill them off, take their land, and go there for vacation." 
- Rage Against the Machine, 'Darkness'

When you live in LA, you get food from all over the world within a 100 mile radius. Recently there's been a huge boom in the "roach coach" genre of food distribution, and the most extravagant of them all is the World Fare bus which is a double decker diner on wheels with an upstairs you can stand around on and munch on your food.

The Good: The 'bunny chow' curry etc. in a bread is pretty tasty. We ordered one of each, as you can see in the picture. Drinks were okay, and the lemonade is better than the orange.

The Bad: Apparently Bunny Chows began because British imperialists shipped Indians from India over to South Africa to work on golf courses, and because those Indians had no breaks in their work days, friends would bring them the Bunny Chow compact curry in a bread (story is plastered on the bus itself). Now we've got a bus driving around selling Bunny Chow which in a sense double exploits those oppressed Indians. Also, when you stand on the roof and another bus drives by, the exhaust pipe blows right into your face.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Chinese Civilization Channel

There's so much free content on the internet, but only a small percentage of it is quality content. On YouTube, I found these excellent high definition videos about Chinese history and culture. I immediately began to fervently create a playlist based on it. Be warned, these videos are mostly in Chinese, but the Chinese Civilization Channel also has some programs in English. Either way, the images are beautiful and the traditional Chinese music enchanting.  I haven't seen all these videos yet, but when I feel like taking a trip to the East in the comfort of LA weather, I watch this YouTube channel and brush up on my Chinese.