Thursday, July 31, 2008

Sorry 'Bout That - I Didn't Know - Really!

From yesterday's post-college apology episode, now we move back to my elementary school days. 36th Street School, now known as Bright Elementary, somewhere in the middle elementary grades.

Every Halloween almost everyone in the school would don a costume and wear it to class. Everyone except me, that is. I just didn't want to wear a costume because I was too self conscious (even though if I wore a costume, who the heck would know it was me?). But just so I wasn't totally out of it, I'd wear one of those cheap plastic masks held on by a rubber band.

And every Halloween the school would have a parade in the afternoon with all of the classes in attendance on the school yard, along with all the parents and teachers.

Well this particular Halloween, I came up with a great idea for a Halloween costume so I decided no mask, this time it would be the full nine yards! I enthusiastically told my mom about my idea and she made my costume.

It was simple enough. I was going as a ghost, so all she had to do was get a white pillowcase and cut two holes in it so I could see. And that was that.

On Halloween day I proudly took my ghost costume to school. Then the afternoon rolled around and it was time for the traditional annual parade. We donned our costumers and we marched to the play yard, me feeling like one of the gang because this time I was fully decked out, not just wearing a cheap plastic mask.

Oh, let me tell you one other thing, about the demographics of our school: the students were about 99.9% African-American. Which meant so were their parents. Which meant except for the teachers, just about everyone in attendance at our Halloween parade was Black.

And here I was, marching around the yard wearing a white pillowcase over my head with two holes cut in the middle. I'll let you imagine the scene.

Well, no one ever said anything to me about it but I'm sure there were plenty of horrified looks and dropped jaws among the parents who came to watch. Honestly, I thought I was a great ghost and came out none the wiser after our parade but I am sure I made quite the impression on the parade goers. I must have unintentionally been the scariest thing they saw that day.

So to all of the people at 36th Street School in attendance that day, I offer my apologies for being so stupid and naive!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Sorry 'Bout That! - The Uncommitted

In my earlier post about the reunion of Mrs. Capps' 6th grade class that took place 11 year afterwards, I mentioned seeing someone there from that class who I initially didn't recognize.

That person, who I'll refer to as "Jet" in these pages, wasn't the same person I remembered from the sixth grade. She was downright good-looking and at first I thought she was someone's guest.

The next day I wasted no time calling my friend David. He didn't know Jet, but at the time he was dating Elaine, the principal organizer of our reunion.

"Ask Elaine if Jet has a boyfriend," I said to David, conveying a sense of urgency. "Oh, and I need a phone number, too." He understood. Suddenly this shy person was taking charge of things. A little while later he called me just like a detective might be calling his client.

"Nope, not that she knows of," was the finding.

It took a few rounds of phone tag but finally I got in touch with Jet. Did she really not know why I was calling her? I mustered up the courage to ask her out on a date and she either mustered up the courage or exhibited a severe lack of judgment and said yes.

For our first date we headed out to Westwood to see Neil Simon's The Goodbye Girl, starring Richard Dreyfus and Marsha Mason. Like most of the theaters out there, we were faced with a long line to see the next show. I hated waiting in lines. But since we were there to see that movie, we decided to wait, even though the showing we had missed had just started.

Well, I have to say that this wait seemed like not a long wait at all. I was actually sorry when the line started moving. The movie itself was good and afterwards we stopped at the now long-gone Swensen's for an ice cream even though it was a rainy December night.

And that's the way the whole thing started. Jet and I saw each other quite a bit after that. What I remember about those days was it rained a lot. Normally we are in the midst of a drought here in too-hot Southern California but that season was one of the rainiest on record.

One night Jet called and asked if she could borrow a typewriter. Yes, this was that long ago - no such thing as computers. It was raining hard outside and my parents thought I was nuts carrying a typewriter past them and outside to the car to take over to her in the pouring rain. But there I went.

When I got there, some guy was in her living room sitting on the sofa. Jet was in the other room doing something so I sat down and we just looked around the room like we were in an elevator. She came out, thanked me profusely for the typewriter and I still didn't know what was going on with this other guy sitting there.

Later on she explained that he was some annoying friend who had dropped in and was like the guest that wouldn't leave, and not to be concerned about him.

Like I said, we went out quite a few times but there was just one hitch in things.


I was also going out with Amy. We had been seeing each other for four years at the time I attended the reunion but by that time we had agreed we were not exclusive to each other. Haha, what a cop-out, right? "We can see other people." But it was true; I told Amy all about Jet. Besides, Amy if you are ever reading this, remember 'Goodie?' So it wasn't as though I was sneaking around. Amy knew about Jet and Jet knew about Amy. And I had no idea how things would end up but I was having my cake and eating it as well during those days.

Jet was just as confused about what was going on. She kept referring back to the movie we had seen on our first date, telling me she was going to be the Goodbye Girl herself and one day I'd be gone.

I kept telling her that wasn't the case and not to worry about it, even though in my mind I didn't know what would happen. I was just going along for the ride.

Finally, Jet couldn't keep up with the uncertainty. She told me she was planning a party and all her friends would be invited. Naturally, she wanted me there, too. And, she said, make sure I bring Amy with me. "Amy is so nice," she said, "you have to bring her."

"Well," I babbled, "uh, that seems weird." But she insisted. She even sent me an invitation to her party and made the same request about Amy in writing.

"Why does she want me to come?" Amy kept asking. I told her I wasn't sure but Jet insisted she be there.

The evening of the party arrived and so did Amy and I. I really don't remember anything about it except that all of us had a great time despite the weird circumstances. Now that I look back on it, like I mean at this very second, I'm thinking maybe her friends told her to do this to try and shake out my intentions.

But if the party was designed to clarify anything, it didn't succeed. Things were just as vague as ever.

Eventually, things tailed off between Jet and me since I remained a pillar of spineless uncommitment and Jet was also too nice a person to want to feel that she had come between Amy and I.

About a year or so later, I called up Jet and we went to lunch (in Westwood again) and also took in a showing of Woody Allen's latest, Manhattan. It was a lot of fun. But we had our own commitments and went our separate ways after that. It sort of reminded me of the ending from Annie Hall.

And so now I would like to apologize to Jet for being the epitome of non-committal, aimless dating. If you ever read this, you know this is about you so I offer my apologies for being such a dope.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Tuesday Monku

Today I am taking a break from my string of apologies, as a couple of things bothered me so much I just had to vent about them here.

First thing, my friend Donna alerted me to the debut of a new search engine yesterday, whose URL is (it's pronounced "cool"). Sorry, but this $33 million waste of money is anything but cool.

It's a venture started by a former Google employee who thought she could do one better than the king of search engines. Funded by $33 million in venture capital, just think how many hungry mouths $33 million would have fed in this world instead of going up in flames for this total waste of cyberspace.

I played around with it on its first day and half the time got no results because the servers were overloaded. Now, that is forgivable since press releases probably drove a ton of traffic to the site, especially when the founder claimed it was basically the next evolutionary step up from Google, that would return more relevant hits. But when the site was working, it might as well have not been working because the results were in a few cases no better than what you would obtain on Google, and in most cases were far worse. Like totally irrelevant.

Here's a few screen shots (click on them for a larger version). The first one, I goog, er, cuiled my name, with quotes to get an exact match (there are no helpful help links on the site so I don't know if they consider quotes superfluous).

Notice that it did return a few relevant pages but it also returned pages that had absolutely no relevance whatsoever, like some anime page, a page in Brazil, a page in Russia, etc. And notice it says in the upper right corner that there were 35 results for my search. Well duh, where are they? There are 9 on that page and that's the only page of results, of which 4 are proper.

Next, I did a search for this blog. It returned the blog at Twisted Oak Winery, which is a valid result since my name appears there along with the word "blog" but wouldn't you think it should return this very blog that I am posting on right now? There were 82,410,549 results yet they show only one on the page.

Finally, I did a search for "cuil." And take a look at the results. No results that even mention their sorry search engine site! They can't even find themselves!!! Oh my, this is a tragedy. Sorry, but you think you're gonna outdo Google? Was your leaving Google voluntary or involuntary?

Okay, next vent: I am so sick and tired of geographical culinary snobs who think that the food in their silly little city is soooo superior to what we have in Los Angeles. Like this post in Chowhound:

Look, Jolly, if you think the Banh Mi in 'Frisco (yes I know people from San Francisco hate having it referred to as 'Frisco) is so much better than anything we have down here despite our thriving Asian population, then why don't you just go back up there and stay put, eh?? I won't even point out that they spelled Banh Mi incorrectly (ignore that last sentence).

And same goes for you New Yawk snobs who think only New Yawk has wonderful New Yawk pizza. If you think our pizza is so lousy out here, then why don't you help our overcrowding problem and go back to New Yawk so you can walk around with pizza drool all over your shirt?

I even replied to that Chowhound post with something to the effect that thinking the cuisine in their own cities is so wonderful is a delusional thing and they romanticize it all out of proportion (to steal a line from a Woody Allen movie), but the Chowhound nazis deleted my post and added something in there about the thread already heading off topic.

We could just as easily do the same thing with So Cal cuisine, you know. This morning there was a post on Chowhound describing what the poster observed at the Costco in Alhambra yesterday. Some Asian man had a slice of combo pizza, which he carried to the condiment area and proceeded to put gobs of ketchup all over it. From there he did the same with mustard, relish and onions. Then he took it to the table and shared it with his wife. The poster said it goes along with having seen people fill up their empty soda cups with chopped onions to take home with them. So I imagine this fellow could just as easily go to Frisco or New York and ask, "Why doesn't the cobmo pizza with ketchup, mustard, relish and onions taste the same here as in Alhambra???" (he'd have to make sure to misspell "combo") "Can't they get it right?"

Don't bother looking for that post, though. I was going to put a link to it but the Chownazis deleted it already.

Anyway, that's my rant and vent for the day. Tomorrow we will return to regular programming and more apologies.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Sorry 'Bout That! - The Snub

Today's apologetic post moves back to junior high. And like one of those epics on television, it spans the course of three years (which is a long time to someone in junior high) from the B7 to the A9.

Back in those days grades were designated with a "B" and an "A" because some students advanced to the next numeric grade or graduated in June, but some did so in December. So at any one point in time you had the B and A of a grade, like B7 and A7, coexisting. After half a school year, the B7 would move up to A7 and the A7 would move up to B8. Got it?

I was a little nothing plebe nerd B7, the lowliest of the low. There was a girl in the A7 I had known from Mrs. Capps' class, whom I will simply refer to as "J" so as to protect the innocent.

I had a crush on J. I would pass her every morning because her homeroom was in the direction of my first class and her first class was in the direction of my homeroom. So our paths would cross. She would wave and say hi to me and I would give a feeble wave back because I was all nervous and shy and everything.

This continued through the semester and never went much farther than that although on a few occasions we actually had a short conversation. And she never suspected a thing, even though I had even dreamed that we had gotten married. And I had dedicated a song to her, the one in the YouTube video at the bottom of this post. Nope, she never suspected as far as I know.

After that, fast forward to when I was an "A8" and she was a "B9." That semester I saw J more often, and we talked more although I still never let on how I felt. My friends and I used to go to the tutorial room during lunch and goof off, which drove Caroline Tse, the poor girl who was supposed to oversee the operation, crazy because the room was supposed to be used for tutoring. So first apology in this post is to Caroline (or Carolyn, I'm not sure about the spelling) for being so bad.

I remember talking to J on the phone also, although I don't remember under what pretense since I was certainly too shy just to call her up for no particular reason. Or maybe she called me. My brain is fuzzy.

John, one of my friends (John Jones, part of the unrelated Jones trio of himself, Alan and Michael) used to talk to J a lot also.

Then the semester ended and summer vacation began. We all went to summer school. Us very few Asian guys were looking forward to the arrival of the girls from a neighboring junior high, Audubon, since they did not have a summer session. The Asian (at that time "Oriental") girls from Audubon had a reputation for being hot stuff.

None were in my class but I was still thinking about J anyway. John and I used to hang out a lot, especially that summer, and one day the subject turned to J. He told me that he liked her and wanted to ask her to "go with him." Well you might imagine that totally shocked as well as alarmed me because here was some guy trying to muscle in on J. Didn't he know how I felt about her even though I never gave the faintest clue?

So I told him how I felt. And then the battle began. I don't know how I did it, but I managed to get him to step aside. That in itself was a feat, but even more, I managed to get him to call her and ask her on my behalf to go with me! Now isn't that the stupidest thing you ever heard of? It's true, though.

John kept his word. He talked to J and asked her the magic question, third-party style. I don't think George Costanza on Seinfeld could have engineered this any better than I did. John was truly a noble fellow.

Then he gave me the good news: she had said yes!

Summer vacation ended and the new semester began. John and I moved up to the B9 and J was an A9. You are probably wondering what happened between J and me. The answer: nada. Nothing. I was so terribly shy that I avoided her because I didn't know what to do. John kept bugging me to talk to her and I kept putting it off.

December rolled around and the A9's graduated, including J. And I remained consistent in my inactivity.

We ended up at the same high school although I didn't see her that much. When we did talk, we never talked about what happened (or what didn't happen). Recently I was looking through my old Dorsey yearbooks and came across an autograph that I think was from J but I'm not sure since I knew more than one person with that name and she didn't sign her last name. But I think it was her. A very nice message about our past friendship.

J was always really nice. When we were in Mrs. Capps class, I used to think she was capable of great things, of accomplishing whatever she set out to do and I admired her for that - admired her more than anyone else because she had so many talents. Smart, outgoing, talked 100 miles per hour but always had something interesting to say. Always.

So this blog post is to officially make a sincere apology for treating her in such a miserable way. Actually, not too long ago through some strange circumstances I was able to relay this to J via a mutual friend, but that's another post in the future somewhere. So she knows.. but I still needed to get it off my chest.

So J, we've gone on our own divergent paths since our junior high days but this is your song from long ago and far away! (I even picked a version that sounds like the scratchy 45 rpm record I used to put on the turntable)

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Saturday Lunch With Katie

Moving back to the present from the usual nostalgia of this blog, yesterday Katie and I had some soul food in Alhambra (yes I know, soul + Alhambra is oxymoronic) , at Angelena's Soul Food Restaurant on the restaurant row section of Main Street.

The place never seems to be very crowded, yet it has managed to survive for several years now. It's a good thing to have diversity like that, offsetting the ubiquitous Chinese restaurants that outnumber even the Starbucks and 7-11's.

Katie recently had gumbo at The Palace in Santa Barbara and had a craving for it again today. There's few places in the SGV that can satisfy such a craving. I'm waiting for McD to introduce its McReole Sandwich containing reformed shrimp and sausage for a limited time only, but until then, Angelena's is the place to go.

Here's some pictures. First, the exterior of the restaurant.

Katie ordered the large serving of gumbo, along with macaroni and cheese, and mashed potatoes and gravy for the side dishes. My camera flash was a bit too exuberant for these pictures and blinded some of the food.

Here's a closer view of just the gumbo.

Here she is pre-5,000 calories.

This is what I ordered, hot links. It came with white rice and a dish of thick gravy, along with extra bbq sauce. I got potato salad and baked beans for sides. Both entrees came with corn bread.

And here I am, pre-4,500 calories.

How was the food? Plenty heavy, and pretty good. Katie loved the gumbo but said the Palace's version was better. My links were spicy but not burning hot, and they had a very dense texture to them.

During lunch, Katie related an encounter she had at the gas station. She pulled in and then some guy ran up to her and started talking.

Guy: Hey, let me show you how I can fix your dents!

Katie: I don't have any money..

Guy: Never mind, just let me show you what I can do! (runs away for a moment, comes back with one of those dent pullers)

Katie: Hey, don't do anything. I told you I don't have any money!

Guy: Just watch! Here - take a look! (applies the dent puller, pulls out the dents). See?

Katie: Well I told you not to do anything. I don't have any money.

Guy: Can't you spare a little something for me? After all, I fixed your dents!

Katie: I didn't ask you to do that. I said I didn't have any money!

Guy: Don't you have a credit card?

Katie: Yeah, well -

Guy: Go inside and get some money back on your card for me. Can't you do something for me after what I did for you?

Katie; I'll buy you a bag of potato chips.

Guy: Potato chips?? How about a pack of cigarettes?

Katie: No.

Guy: Aw come on, you have to give me something for fixing your car!

Katie: You drive a Lexus. Why are you running around fixing people's cars? What do you need money for?

And so on and so forth. She said he kept pestering her for 10 or 15 minutes and finally gave up. I asked her if it was a nice Lexus and she said yes, it was a really nice "I" model (whatever that is) and some woman was sitting in it all that time.

Pretty weird.

For dinner Julie and I went to the anti-Angelena's, Souplantation. We had food of a color that was completely missing from lunch: green. I figured no use taking pictures of Souplantation, you all know what that place is like. Both eateries have their merits but you can eat at Angelena's or a facsimile thereof only so often.

Moving onto other things, whether or not people read this blog, I still enjoy writing it. And actually a few (like very few) people have been reading it. That's how I ended up having lunch with an old childhood friend, Hiro, the other day because he ran across the blog, and I also happened to hear from one of the original DTA members, Florence Ryza.

Florence sent me an e-mail. She said she and her brother were showing her mom how to navigate the internet and how to do a Google search. She typed in her name and voila, up came a link to this blog! It was really good to hear from her and we caught up all the years that have passed since last we saw each other.

Anyway, back to my enjoyment of writing this blog.. I mentioned in some early post that my real dreams of a career were to either write or play drums in a band. Well, more and more that writing bug keeps gnawing at me and I really feel led to pursue that endeavor more wholeheartedly. I'd love to play the drums too, but lacking the talent as well as circumstances, that's much less practical.

But I tell you, if I did have that talent and opportunity to play in a band again, this is the style in which I'd like to do it:

Well, the next best thing is to write with the same enthusiasm level as how Keith Moon plays the drums in that video. You gotta have fun!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Yearbook Autographs

I'll continue with the Sorry 'Bout That apology posts on Monday, but now for the weekend diversions. I was looking through my 8th grade yearbook (back then we called them "Annuals"). The summer '68 graduating class was called Los Valeros, back when class names were traditionally French for some reason, before they started getting all weird.

I thought I'd post some of the things people wrote in my "annual." Why 8th grade? Because we were old enough for most of us to write something more than a stock phrase, yet it wasn't too personal. So I can name names. Do you remember what you wrote in anyone's yearbook? I don't, although not too long ago someone told me she's always remembered what I wrote in her yearbook because she thought it was so clever. I actually remembered that one after she brought it up, too. Maybe if you find yourself below, you can see if you remember what you wrote.

To Rick, a nice young man and a mature student. D. Hutton - "D" stood for Deanna. She was a newbie when I had her for history and she didn't know any better - she was very nice to all of us and we all liked her very much. She and a friend of hers even took a group of us to P.O.P. one Saturday (Pacific Ocean Park in Santa Monica).

To Rickie, May we be friends, have fun in the summer! Benkin Jong P.S. Stay Smart! We used to call Benkin "Snitchy Snail" after a character on the Winchell Mahoney show because he ran very slow.

To Ricky, A good boy and a very smart person. Your friend, John Jones - Yup, one of the three Jones boys who were my best buddies. You'll hear more about John very shortly. What a good friend he was.

To Rickie, Stay as sweet as you are during summer vacation & I see you in September. Charmi Tsutsui - I wrote about Charmi in an earlier post. She was the sweet one.

Miyazakisan, Very much wish you best of luck in whatever you wish to achieve and we know what that is don't we Miyazakisan. Friends? Tommy Shima - He's referring to Sheila Miyazaki, a classmate of ours. People used to tease us since our names were so similar.

Rickie.. Ricky.....? You're the only one I know that draws profiles of surfers and Granny Hippie stories... but you're nice, and very sweet? (a sweet boy?) anyway, I hope I see you over the summer (I doubt it) and best wishes toward the coming years.. Judy Yonemoto - I vaguely remember those stories and surfers. Judy was never at a loss for words and always had something interesting to say.

To Rickie, You're smart in more ways than one. Just keep pulling in the A's and you will be alright. Best of luck always, Chelsey James '68 - I didn't know Chelsea that well, but he was a great athlete.

Rickie, To a smart kid and a good boy. Good luck in the B-9. Friends, Travis Lemle s'68 - I wonder whatever happened to Travis.. he was a nice guy.

To the great Maharishi: It's been really great (!!) knowing such a swell guy... the only thing I find fault with you is that you're soooo... shy!! Anyway, keep up the great (??) grades and keep your eyes open for girls. It's heart-breaking to know that (sob!) I'm leaving! Good luck to you always! Love ya, Sheila Shinsato P.S. Boy you sure give good concerts... hope (uh) to hear you again sometime (???) Bye! (for now, anyway!). -- Those "concerts" Sheila referred to were my stupid antics on the violin. Sheila was one of those people that I always admired who had so many talents as well as a great personality and character. I did see her later (she was graduating, I was a year behind her) but not real soon. It wasn't until UCLA that we ran into each other briefly. Now she has a successful physical therapy practice and I did go see her one time for lunch many moons ago.

Oh yes, the Maharishi (!?) Good luck Rickie, and I know you'll have a great summer. Keep up the violin, you're pretty good! Well, good bye, but don't forget. I'll see ya, Colleen Kubo - I never saw her after that.

Hi, It's really been great knowing you! Really!! Your allways so considerate and understanding. Take that l out of always, okay? Well, anyway, your GREAT and don't forget it. Don't listen to Sterling and go on your own. Happy summer (hope I see ya) and good luck next semester. Always, Rene Sunabe, okay? - Sheila, Colleen and Rene were like the Three Muskateers. Very nice, too. Always gracious with their comments, as you can see!

Ricky! Since I am an A9 I shall sign here in my respective class picture. It's been nice knowing a nice, handsome, and truly smart person. Good luck in your coming years. So long, Warren Low Los Valerosos S68 - I didn't know Warren that well, and judging by the things he wrote he didn't know me well either, haha.. but he did know the right spelling for the class name (Valerosos) even though the company who made the yearbook spelled it Valeros on the cover.

Ricky, Best of luck in the B9 and coming years. Have fun over the summer and I'll see you in the fall. Friends always, Rose Kubo - I had Rose sign in the "A9" section of the yearbook even though she was just a "lowly" B8, haha..

Rickie, To a really brainy? nice? cute? guy? (Just kiddin') Best of luck to you in the ninth grade, and have a groovy summer (don't get dumb) Always, Eva Quon - yes, that same Eva who was the kickoff topic for my apology series. Sorry Eva, but I did get dumb!

To a good friend, hope you have good luck with Rose. Best of luck, Mike Mizokami - Well I did like Rose too, when I was in the 8th grade.

To Miyak, Stay cool, calm and dry. Get smart like me and you will be alright. The great and only ARJ (Alan Richard Jones). Another of the Jones boys and I'd have to say he was my best buddy. I saw him once after junior high and that was that. I sure wonder what he's up to now.. probably great things.

To a dear friend, stay cool, stay smart, and crazy. From a cool dude, Mike. (Michael Jones) - the third of the Jones trio. As you can see, all three of them were so creative when it came to the literary arts, lol.

Have fun in the summer, don't drop dead, come back in one piece, by KOBO. Kendall Chow - I have no idea what "KOBO" means. I would always tell him that his name sounded like a dog food. "Try new, improved Kendall Chow - your dog will thank you for it!"

Rickie, I enjoyed your may I say "interesting" writings. Your playboy bunnies are sure signs of your talent. You're a great guy and may your chair fall down. Best wishes, Judy Nishida - well I did write a lot, even back then. I'll just leave it at that..

To Bill, (I mean Ricky) Have a nice summer and don't cry because you can't see your puppet any more! Roy Marubayashi - It's been so long I have no idea what puppet he was talking about.

To Rickson, You are a great, intelligent, messed up hair boy. Have fun with Michael Jones. Friends! Peace, the great Jay Takashima - Jay was a big guy and used to terrorize us smaller folks like Benkin, Kendall and me. He was right about that messed up hair, too. We used to call him Jay Tankashima. Behind his back, of course!

Rickie, Hi! It's been a very sad week for me. I hate to leave this school. It's been great knowing you & I hope it doesn't end now. Best of luck in the coming years. Have a great summer, ok? Love, Jenniver Takeuchi - I didn't know her that well either. I wonder how much of what people write is what they really mean?

To Ricky, Good luck in the B-9, to a cool cat from the coolest cat that's me! Josef Solomon - wisdom from Solomon, lol..

Rick, stay the way you are always (censored). Have a cool summer, and come back next semester and get good grades. Sterling Tom - I'm sure somewhere down the line he'll be in more posts.

Rickie, Best wishes in your coming years. I hope you have a groovy summer vacation and stay as nice as you are now. Helen Lewe - Helen's family owned a restaurant that was on Jefferson Blvd. called Korea House. One time she invited us there for dinner and unfortunately, back then I was totally non-adventurous with food and I hardly ate anything. Maybe some rice. So I guess this is also an apology post because I have to apologize to Helen for being so rude with the food!

And there you have it, for whatever it's worth - 8th grade autographs.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Sorry 'Bout That! - The Hurl

I'm still in apologize mode and today's session is from the 6th grade.

Way before the Oprah's and Ellen's, there was an afternoon show called Art Linkletter's House Party. The last ten minutes were devoted to a segment called Kids Say the Darndest Things, during which Mr. Linkletter asked various questions of four different kids who had been selected as guests for the day. And as you might expect, some of the kids did indeed say the darndest, funniest things.

One day Mrs. Capps announced that our school had been selected to send eight students to the show, four 6th graders and four 2nd graders. There were two sixth grade classes, so our class sent two kids and the other sent two.

The two selected by Mrs. Capps were Keith Honda and yours truly.

Now Keith, he was a natural for a show like that. He was a witty, outgoing kid who wasn't afraid to speak his mind and I don't think anyone was surprised at the choice. Me, on the other hand, was a surprise. I never thought I was particularly witty or funny or even talkative, but Mrs. Capps must have seen something I didn't.

What excited me most about being on the show? Actually, I wasn't excited because I didn't feel I belonged there, but on the other hand, one of the gifts they used to give the kids was a slot car racing set. So if I was going to be on the show, I hoped that day they would be giving the slot car sets away.

My parents were excited. And they coached me, saying to make sure I didn't say anything that would offend anyone. Don't say anything bad about garbage collectors, for example.

The big day came and a limousine transported us to CBS Television City studios on Beverly Blvd. in Hollywood. There we received a tour, of which I don't remember a thing, and finally it was our time to be taped for the show. Was I nervous? Not a bit. I kept thinking about those slot cars.

The only thing I remember from being on the show was one question that Mr. Linkletter asked us. He asked us, What do you think the world will be like 100 years from now?

And of the four of us, I only remember two answers, Keith's and mine. Keith's answer is the only thing any of us said that day that made people laugh. When asked the question, he declared in a "like, duh" tone, "I'll be dead!"

Then it was my turn and I said what came to my mind first. "I think there will be a nuclear war and no one will be around anymore."

Well talk about letting the air out of the balloon. Mr. Linkletter paused and mulled that one over, and the whole audience was quiet. Then he moved on to the next kid. That must have been the most depressing answer anyone ever gave in the history of the show.

After the taping, we were treated to lunch at Dublins Restaurant. The only thing I can remember from the meal is that the milk tasted sour. After lunch we got back into the limousine and headed back to school.

On the way to school I began feeling sick. Like real sick. Not being one to create a stir about anything, I tried to keep it to myself. But finally, just a couple of blocks away from school, I couldn't hold it any longer and I did my Linda Blair Exorcist imitation. All over me and partly on Keith. I still remember him jumping up and yelling, "Hey! What are you doing??!!!??"

I sat there thinking, why couldn't I hold out just two more blocks?

Back at school, I waited in the office for my mom and sister to come pick me up. One of the assistants was nice enough to give me her handkerchief although that did not go very far in cleaning up the mess. Finally my mom and sister arrived and took me home. I offered the handkerchief back to the assistant and she waved and told me to keep it.

People said I must have been nervous and that's what caused my accident. I kept insisting I wasn't nervous at all, and it must have been the sour milk. Looking back at the incident, no one else seemed to think the milk was sour and no one else threw up so maybe I was so nervous that the milk tasted really acidic? Who knows.

A few weeks later, a television was wheeled into our class so we could watch the show. Man, did I look like a dork. I hated looking at myself, and it was even more embarrasing listening to my answers, especially that nuclear bomb one.

But I did wind up with a slot car set.

And so the apologies in this post go to Keith, for having to catch part of my lunch on his pants that day, and also Mrs. Capps for being such a boring representative of her class.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Sorry 'Bout That! - The Bad Question

I was going to name this post "My Name is Earl" but decided it might attract hits from people searching for the television show of the same name, and who wants them coming here (and the feeling would be mutual).

The reason for that nixed name was because of the premise of the show, in which Earl, the main character, wins the lotto and decides to look up old acquaintances he had wronged in the past, and use his good fortune to right those wrongs.

Well, I ain't won no lotto but I thought I'd use this blog to confess apologies to some people that I did wrong to in my past. Not maliciously, mind you, but still I owe them an apology. So unless something else comes along, I thought I'd spend the next few posts to 'fess up.

These things happened a long time ago, so I was wondering if my recollection of what happened was accurate. I think it is, since it has been burned in my mind for such a long time but the other day, when comparing notes on something that happened back in high school with an old classmate, Misa Miyamoto, her recollection was a bit different than mine even though the basic details were right (what we were comparing is another blog post down the line a ways). I'll just explain it by saying she has an exceptional memory (which actually she does seem to have), rather than admitting my brain cells are feeble.

The other thing I wonder is if the folks I'll be talking about even remember any of this. Is it something that has stayed with them that they will readily remember, or is it something that they'll have to conjure up from the dark recesses of their memories and scratch their heads, or will they have no recollection whatsoever?

Having taken up too much space already, here's the first one:

Back in Mrs. Hutton's 7th grade history class I sat behind Eva Quon. Eva was one of the nicest persons I've ever known, and we used to talk when the teacher wasn't looking. She was also on the plump side.

One day tactless me innocently asked her how much she weighed. Honestly, I wasn't trying to be mean or funny or cruel or whatever, it was a straightforward question borne of natural curiousity. I just came right out and asked her.

She was taken aback, and gave a modest laugh and shook her head, saying she couldn't tell me something like that.

But I was persistent and I kept asking her and she kept smiling and shaking her head, telling me guys aren't supposed to ask such questions. Despite my sincere insistence that I wouldn't tell anyone and it was purely for my own curiousity, she refused to tell me, and that was how it ended. Now don't ask me how we managed to talk so long and evade the teacher's attention, but we did.

I never did find out her weight and I never bothered to ask her after that.

So I just want to say sorry for being so tactless and stupid! What a big duh I was, and I didn't even realize it.

A grade or two later, Eva started going around with James Wong. She and I still talked, though, and she seemed to find what I had to say pretty funny. James, however, didn't seem to think so and would sit there glaring at me at times.

One day I was walking down the hall towards our class. He stood in the doorway and halted me. "Look," he hissed, "I don't like you messing with my girlfriend!"

Uh, I am not a person of confrontation so I stopped and stared at him for a moment while he continued giving me stink eye. Then I quickly declared, "You're crazy!" as I hurried into the room. I glanced back at him and he was still standing there with this bewildered look on his face.

So James, I apologize to you, also, and I surely never intended to dis' you!

Several years after that a Hawaiian-type takeout place opened on Crenshaw Blvd. across from the Boys Market. Mr. Moto's it was called, and was run by a husband and wife team.

It was great having Hawaiian plate lunches in the neighborhood and I'd go there often. Generally the husband would do the cooking and the wife took the orders and dished out the food. The wife was very friendly, talkative and also very cute. The husband, meanwhile, would stand there and glare at me every time I walked in.

Unfortunately the place closed down after a year or two leaving a Hawaiian food void in the area. Maybe too many people got da stink eye and stayed away.

Well, no apologies here since I was a mere innocent customer, but it is just something that flashed in my memory as I was writing about Eva.

More amends to follow..

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Saturday Mornings

I used to love watching cartoons on Saturday morning. No school, just cartoon after cartoon and no cares in the world. That is, until I joined the Chaparrals and we began having our sports matches on Saturday afternoon. There was football season, baseball season and basketball season.

In my previous post about the club, I mentioned how my parents had forced me to join; I wasn't a very social or outgoing person and given my druthers, I'd just as soon had stayed home on Friday evenings instead of attending the meetings. And now my Saturday mornings were taken away from me as I had to wake up early for our games.

Football was my least favorite of the three. For one, although it was flag and not tackle football, it was still a physical game with the blocking involved, and frankly I was scared of getting injured. Secondly, it was played on a field and if you fell you got all dirty, something else I didn't like.

Several years after high school, I went back to the counselors office and requested to see my student file. I flipped through the comments and ran across something my second grade teacher, Mrs. Malone, had written about me: Gets very upset if he gets dirty. I laughed when I read it but was still offended. Hmph.

There we were one Saturday morning playing against one of the best teams in our league that had a superstar quarterback. Since I wasn't very talented, I was a perpetual linesman, whether it was offense or defense. My favorite moments of these games were when I was sitting on the bench.

But this Saturday I decided I would actually put some effort into what I was doing and stop being afraid of getting dirty, or of getting hurt. Rather than getting pushed out of the way, I'd put up a fight.

On this particular play, we punted the ball to the opposition. The superstar quarterback caught it and began his run up the field, evading our guys as they went for his flag. As I looked at him and his blocker running towards me, I thought I was the only one left between him and the goal line. So I made up my mind I would try and get his flag no matter what the consequences.

His blocker eyed me with a confident look that said he was going to take me out of the play. I ran towards them and even though his blocker hit me, I managed somehow to grab the quarterback's flag before falling and skidding in the mud. My teammates couldn't believe what had just happened and they were jumping up and down.

Meanwhile, I slowly got up and they came running over to congratulate me. I had been looking down the field and saw that someone else had gotten the other flag right after I did, so the first thing I said was, "It was no big deal, his other flag got caught anyway."

But my teammates still kept giving me congrats. I'm sure they were amazed that this big chicken had actually stood up and went for the gold. I didn't do anything else spectacular that day and I have to say I kept thinking about all that mud on my pants, but I also have to say I felt really proud.

It was worth missing the cartoons that day.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Chaparrals

Back in junior high school I belonged to a club called The Chaparrals. It was part of the Gray-Y, a junior division of the YMCA. We met on Friday evenings at Centenary Methodist Church when they used to be on Normandie Avenue near Jefferson.

I recall our very first meeting. As the members arrived, they each took a seat around the table. And there we sat waiting for our junior leaders, high school students who belonged to a High-Y club and had been assigned to lead us.

I knew only one person in the club. The others went to a different junior high and I'd never seen them before. My first impression of them was that they were very unruly.

One of them started it off my screaming. Yes, just screaming really loud, then he stopped and sat there. Someone else followed his lead, and then so did a few others. It was sort of like going to a concert where various cretins in the audience yell out, "Eeowww!" because for some reason they think they have to fill the air with sound.

Me, I just sat there and watched them, wondering why they were acting so stupid. Now, not all of them screamed so right away I was thinking who the people were that I would most likely talk to and who I would stay away from.

Finally, our junior leaders showed up. There were Rodney Suzuki, Bobby Miyake (no relation to me), Peter (can't remember his last name) and Stan (can't remember his last name either). Later on I found out that Rodney lived across the street from my good friend Michael Jones, and Michael told me that he was a pervert because he had a telescope and was always trying to look into other people's houses.

As for us club members, there were Norman Minami; Bradley Fujikuni; Scott Nagatani; Jerry Miyamoto (I'm pretty sure he was the first one to scream); Bob Kurumada (he was the tallest one and we later referred to him as "Bobble"); Mark Torabayashi; Eiji Yoshihiro (we looked at his written name and someone said, "EeeeJeee?? What kind of name is that??" and Eiji shot back it was pronounced "Ay-Jee"); Jeffrey Nagasaki; Jimmy Kurata; Don and Jon Kobashigawa (twins); Sterling Tom (the only one I knew); and me.

Actually, I hadn't wanted to join but my parents forced me. I wasn't then and still am not a very social person. My parents forced me because Sterling's parents found out about it, told my parents, and they said I ought to be in the same club with Sterling and so there I was. There among the screamers. I wished I was at home.

At that time we were brand new and had no name. How did we get our name? It was me who came up with it. I was a slot car nut and the one of the popular models made by Cox, a major slot car manufacturer, was the Chaparral. It was a race car designed by Jim Hall. So I suggested that and for whatever reason the others thought it was a neat name so we adopted it.

Never mind that a chaparral is a type of tumbleweed. People heard the name and asked, why do you have a club/team named after a tumbleweed? And we had to explain it was a racing car, not a tumbleweed. Of course it is weird to be named after a racing car as well, but better than a tumbleweed.

And that was the beginning of my forced time with the Chaparral Gray-Y club.

Monday, July 21, 2008

One Fine Mornin'

So... continuing from where I left off in my Phrog post, now it was Sunday morning and I dragged myself out of bed to go pick up Cindy for our clandestine journey over to Rick's house, to carry out our mission of plastering it with toilet paper.

She was ready to go; we drove back on Crenshaw, headed to Rick's and coasted to a stop a few doors past his house. All the while our conversation skated around the events of the previous night. I was as curious as could be, but my shyness stifled me completely.

We did a real number on his house. Toilet paper was hanging from the tree, spread all over the lawn and bushes, and, well, it was colorful. None of that cheap stuff that people used to steal from the bathrooms at Holiday Bowl, we had bought Charmin-quality to do a first-rate job.

Cindy had just gotten back into the car and I was getting in when all of a sudden I saw Rick. Cindy ducked down under the dashboard as he walked up to the passenger side of the car. I stood leaning on the door frame of the driver's side, with a stupid smile on my face. From where I was, I could see him over the roof of the car and if I looked downward, I could see Cindy crouched under the dash, suppressing a giggle.

"So, like what are you doing?" Rick asked.

"Oh, nothing."

We bantered back and forth, me occasionally and surreptitiously glancing down at Cindy who was covering her mouth with her hand, hoping Rick wouldn't either look inside or open the door to get in.

Luckily, he didn't. It wound up with me getting in the car and driving off, leaving him still standing there looking at me. I know that was a cold thing to do, but he had no idea Cindy was there and I didn't want him to know, so I had no other choice. It was leave or risk the chance of being discovered.

We turned the corner, Cindy got back in the seat and we had a good laugh about what had just happened. And we decided to take a drive out to the beach.

July is generally a hot and smoggy month in Southern California. But it was early enough on this Sunday morning for the air to be cool and clear. Perfect driving weather.

We took Jefferson Boulevard out to Playa del Rey, then headed south along the coast and wound up somewhere around Hermosa or Manhattan, at which time we turned around and headed back for our neighborhood. It was mid-morning when I dropped her off and already the air was getting smoggy and the temperature was rising; the morning freshness had disappeared.

I drove home happy that I had the chance to spend some time with her. And as you might guess, the subject of her and Duane never came up. Not once. Inside of me I kept hoping maybe this was just some fluke, just some one-night thing that had already expired between them.

This was the song that was on the charts back then, and reminds me of that morning:

Some time after that, maybe a few days later, David called.

"Rick and I were talking and we think that's some real crap that Duane pulled on you," he said.

I tried pretending it was no big deal. "Oh, well, it's-"

"It's not right!" he continued. "He knew what he was doing. Do you want us to talk to him? Because I'll let that son-of-a-b** know in no uncertain terms-"

"No, that's okay. Thanks, but you don't have to do anything, it's okay." What good would that do, anyway? It wasn't going to change anything.

After a few more protests, David conceded. "Okay, well, we just wanted to let you know we think that really stinks what he did and if you want us to do something, just let us know."

I thanked him again, said I would let him know if I changed my mind but that really, everything was okay and I was okay and I felt fine. I wasn't mad at Duane, I was mad at myself. I just kept cursing myself and calling myself an idiot, but what was done was done and it was too late, so why bother trying to change anything?

David was the most direct of all of us and thus it is fitting that he was the one to call me. But as far as I know, no one ever discussed it with Duane, or with Cindy, and after the two of them became an item, I never talked with either of them about it, either. It was just a given.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sunday Extra Edition

I know I already uploaded a post for today but here's some more ramblings of no particular importance.

I was doing some food blog grazing when I came across this post that features the tiny stand pictured above (to see a larger version from the web site where I found this picture, click here).

It's La Super Rica on Milpas Street in Santa Barbara. I found out about this place a long, long time ago when my ex-sister-in-law used to teach at UCSB. The owner of La Super Rica was one of her students and she told me he had recently opened a restaurant that she had tried and was very good. She was right, they make excellent Mexican food. You may have heard about this as it is Julia Child's favorite Mexican place.

But the reason for posting about it is not La Super Rica per se, it's that it just reminded me of how much I love Santa Barbara and miss it so much since we haven't been there in a while. So that was the first thing for this post: I love and miss Santa Barbara!! Julie isn't as crazy about it as I am because there aren't enough (or any) good Chinese restaurants up there.

Next order of business:

In deciding where to live, one of Julie's criteria would be that it would have to have good Chinese restaurants, since she loves Chinese food so much and could eat it every single meal, unlike me who really doesn't care one way or the other. Having grown up with Americanized, "China-meishi" Chinese food served at places like Ho Sai Kai on Western Avenue and Exposition, and her having been raised in Hong Kong gives us two different takes on what "Chinese food" really is.

No, my criteria for a place to live would be that it has to have a Costco within a reasonable driving distance. Since there is the internet for everything else, my demands are really quite simple and humble, wouldn't you say?

Along those lines I ran across this blog that shows I am not the only one with a Costco addiction. The authors of that blog live in Austin, Texas and I have to admit being jealous that they write about Costco products from their local store that I have never seen at the Costcos around here. Hmph!! Yup, I am a big fan of Costco and needless to say, I quickly bookmarked that web site.

And the third thing in this completely disjointed post is I was thinking of what are the stupidest song lyrics I've ever heard, and this one came to mind (when I think of such things, I usually think of this one). It's one that Easy Livin' used to play, called "Found a Child" by a one-semi-hit wonder group called Ballin'Jack.
The lyrics:
Where, where can he be
Where, where can he be
Where, where can he be
Where, where can he be

Found a child
Inside a rock
Sit right down
And hear him talk
He tells us all
The way it was
Ask him why
He said because

Feeling fine
Peace of mind
Feeling fine
Got some time
(and after this they break out into various cavemen sounds)

Then I wondered if someone had posted it on YouTube and indeed they had, so give a listen:

Actually, that part about "ask him why, he said because" is probably as wise an answer as has ever been given throughout the course of time, lol.. could any philosopher argue with that?

Weekends - Sooo Nice!

It's so nice having weekends!

Saturday started off with my usual trek to Costco, loading up on stuff and looking at the receipt trying to figure out how I spent so much money. Normally I avoid the Alhambra location because of all the Asians who stand around blocking the aisles (and today was no exception) but it seems they have the 21-25/lb. frozen shrimp that the other locations don't carry so I made the sacrifice to go there instead of the usual Azusa/Irwindale warehouse. At least they had it today so that made me happy.

Costco is my favorite store. There's always something interesting over there. Maybe its because I like finding good stuff at a discount.

Julie and I then headed to Monrovia for lunch, to try a new place called Merengue that has a menu similar to Porto's in Glendale and Burbank. That is, cakes, pastries and Cuban-type food. Below are some pictures:

On top is the menu. It's hard to read so click on it for a larger version. Next, moving from top to bottom, we have potato balls (crunchy exterior, mashed potato and seasoned ground beef filling), pastele de carne (puff pastry filled with ground beef) and a chicken empanada (more puff pastry filled with seasoned chicken). Muy sabroso y muy barata! The prices in the respective order as the pictures were 99 cents, 90 cents and $1.25 each. And one of each for each of us did the trick to fill us up so it was a very economical and tasty lunch.

In the evening we had our kickoff choir potluck as we began the season of practicing for our Evergreen SGV Christmas Cantata.

Now, the food this afternoon was good, but I have to say sorry Merengue, you lose out to the goodies we had at our potluck! Good food, lots of it, and plenty to take home. Here's a few pictures:

Like ants at a picnic! There was another table with desserts but I didn't get a good picture of it. The turnout for choir has been so good that we ran out of music books and had to order more.

It was an uplifting Saturday, for sure!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

My Lunch With Hiro

One result of this blog has been to get in touch with a friend I hadn't seen in a while. He had googled my name, came up with a link to this blog and then he left a comment for me.

Hiro and I go way back to Mrs. Capp's 6th grade class. You can see him in our class picture in the post I did about our beloved teacher. We were good buddies in that class. One memory I have is of us getting in big trouble one day. At least I think he was part of it - my brain cells keep decomposing so forgive me if I have the wrong person. Back then we all referred to him as "Roach."

The other sixth grade class had the meanest teacher I have ever encountered. Mr. Martin was on duty during lunch time and he imposed a no-talking rule in the outdoor lunch area. Can you believe that? Kids not allowed to talk during their lunch period? He also had members of his class patrolling the area, ratting out anyone they found violating this idiotic rule. I always likened them to those flying monkeys on the Wizard of Oz.

Three of us decided this was too unjust to expect people not to talk during their break from class. Lunch was supposed to be a social thing, wasn't it? Roach, another person that I think was Keith Honda, and myself went to the principal's office to complain about that treatment.

The principal was cordial to us sixth graders - little in absolute terms, but the senior students in the school - and listened patiently to what we said. We thought we made an excellent argument, and at the end she thanked us and said she would investigate the matter.

We happily left our office thinking that was the end of Mr. Martin's despotic rule over us. The bell signifying the end of lunch rang, we went back to our class and sat down. Mrs. Capps walked in, shot an angry glare at each of us and then told us to stand up and go to the corner of the room. Astonished, we all looked at each other and gulped.

She proceeded to tell us that she had never been so embarrassed in her life and that she had just returned from being chewed out by the principal for what we had done. We couldn't believe what we were hearing. We had never heard Mrs. Capps so upset.

Being polite Asian kids, we stood there with our heads down and didn't protest. But this was wrong. To this day I still get upset every time I think about what happened because we did nothing wrong.

By the end of the day everything was back to normal but as you can see since I am writing about it here, I've never forgotten that moment.

Anyway, that's a memory that came to me after our lunch so we didn't discuss it. What did we talk about? We caught up with what we had been up to since the last time we saw each other, and then talked about the old days. I am not a very social person but I really had an enjoyable time. So Roach, er, Hiro, if you are reading this, thanks! That was one fine lunch.

Later that evening I told Julie we had a very nice lunch at Hanabi. She asked me what we talked about. "Oh, catching up on what we've been doing, and talking about old times." Then she asked if I mentioned this or mentioned that, to which I responded nope, nope, nope, and then she said, well then what did you talk about? And I told her, "guys don't talk about the kind of stuff you mentioned! You know, guys just kind of grunt and eat."

During lunch, Hiro told me something. This isn't what he told me, but for those of you who saw the excellent movie L.A. Confidential (the movie that should have won the oscar for best picture that year instead of that lame Titanic), think back to the scene in which Kevin Spacey (Sgt. Jack Vincennes) is sitting in James Cromwell's kitchen (Captain Dudley Smith). And when Smith shoots Vincennes (sorry if I gave away part of the plot but by this time you should have watched the movie), Vincennes utters a name: Rollo Tamasi. That's a key part of the movie. Getting back to our lunch, if I ever got into such a situation as in that movie, my last utterance would be: Isaroku Yamamoto. That would be a key part.

If you're scratching your head about that one, classmates can help figure it out.

To wrap up this lengthy post, it was good to see Hiro again. And interesting the way we got back in touch. If you happened across this blog because you googled either my name or your name or someone else's name that appears in here, drop me a comment or an e-mail, why don't you! And stay tuned, there's more on the way..

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Phrog

It's the middle of July and this time of year reminds of an evening in mid-July, 1971. It was only a couple of weeks after the "birth" of Easy Livin' at Duane's house and we were still scheming on how to carry this through to becoming an actual band.

Meanwhile, we were scoping out the competition (call it doing "market research") by going to various dances held at places like Blarney's Castle on Western Avenue. Another place where dances were held more infrequently was The Phrog in Gardena.

It was one such Saturday night that Duane, David, Rick, Cindy and I headed out to the Phrog to hear Winfield Summit. I imagine either David or I drove since we (our parents, actually) had the largest cars: His, a blue Chevy station wagon that, because of his driving habits, we nicknamed "The Battlewagon." And mine, a 1969 Ford LTD sedan, one behemoth of a ride.

Back then a gallon of gas was 28.9 cents. We'd each chip in enough to buy 10 gallons of gas and that sustained us, even though back then cars were big gas guzzlers that managed about 10 miles to the gallon. And even "small" cars could easily fit five people, generally six, since most had bench, not bucket seats in the front.

Let me say that at the time, I had a crush on Cindy. But being the ridiculously shy person I was, even though we had gone out a few times, I hadn't done anything to make any significant progress with respect to the two of us. But I was happy to be out on a Saturday night with her, and my best buddies were there, too.

The Phrog was not a very large place and there were lots of people there. Lots of smoke, too. JA dances were characterized by a number of people smoking, a number of people drinking, and a number of them doing both trying to look as cool as possible. We did neither of them, nor did we dance; we came to listen to the bands.

As the evening wore on and the haze of cigarette smoke increased, it turned out that David, Rick and I were carrying on a conversation towards the back of the room and it dawned on me that I didn't know what had happened to Duane and Cindy. While we talked, I scanned the room looking for them.

Then all of a sudden I spotted them, sitting on the floor towards the front of the room. Holding hands.

Well, my stomach sank and inside of me was a mix of anger because supposedly Duane was my friend, a sick feeling because here was the girl I had a crush on holding hands with someone else, and embarrassment because it was someone else.

So I did what I normally did in situations like that, I pretended to ignore what was going on. David and Rick eventually spotted them too, but said nothing.

After the dance, we all piled into the car and went to eat somewhere. Duane and Cindy sat in the back of the car, holding hands and I sat in the front, either driving or in the passenger side, I don't remember, but it was in the front. And no one said anything about what was going on.

And that's how it went the rest of the evening, through our late-night snack, the drive back to the 'hood back in Crenshaw, and dropping everyone off.

Through all of this, besides feeling the same feelings as the first time I spied them, I was also wondering about the next morning. Cindy and I were supposed to go super early and T-P (toilet paper) Rick's house. It's something we had planned earlier and had been laughing about, and now with the sudden change in relationships, I was wondering what was supposed to happen. But yet I kept quiet.

Finally, when we were about to drop off Cindy, I asked her if we were still on for the next morning. She said yes, as though there wasn't any question about it, and that was that. I told her I'd pick her up at 6:00 (or some outrageously early time, especially for teenagers like us). She waved goodnight to us and went inside.

And still none of us said anything about what had happened that evening. We may even have gone for another snack, given the way we were back in those days - footloose and fancy free. And sooo Asian, haha..

Sunday morning following the Phrog -- that's another blog post.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Reunion

I've never attended any of my high school reunions - not the 10th, 20th or 30th. It's scary to think the next will be the 40th! The only class reunion I have ever attended was over 30 years ago, a reunion of Mrs. Capps' students.

It was held at her house in Palos Verdes one Saturday evening in December, eleven years after we had graduated from the 6th grade.

A good number of her former students managed to show up, although it was disappointing that not all of them did. My memory being what it is, I can only remember a few of the ones that were there.

Two classmates I had trouble recognizing. One was James Hattori, who at present is a CNN correspondent and has had a long reporting career. The reason for not recognizing him is because he had slimmed way, way down since the time we were classmates and was now downright thin.

The other, who I will just refer to as "Jet," looked very different from the rather plain, quiet girl I had remembered in the 6th grade. In fact, I was sitting there wondering if someone had brought a friend - a very cute friend - and then I put the clues together and figured out who it was.. duh, stupid me.

In my typical roundabout way I wound up asking my friend David, who was at the time seeing her friend Elaine, to find out if Jet had a boyfriend.

But that's not what this post is about. I always think fondly about Mrs. Capps and our class - by a wide margin, it was more like a family than any other class I've been in. It was filled with kids who had loads of potential. I don't recall exactly what all of them were doing at the time of our reunion, but I know many had done admirably - James, for example, and so had many others.

At that time I was an aimless person. I had just gotten my teaching credential and was working as a substitute teacher for the LAUSD (Los Angeles Unified School District), hating every moment of it. I know subbing is not representative of a true teaching experience but I had already figured out that teaching was not my alley. It would have been different had I been enthusiastic about teaching.

What I felt most about it, though, was that I had let Mrs. Capps down. I am not denigrating teaching in the least; but here I was in a field I really did not feel suited to be in, there mainly from choosing something because I didn't know what I wanted to do. Others at the reunion were on their career path while I was swimming around.

When I was in the 6th grade, I knew that Mrs. Capps had thought I'd go on to big things in life because of the potential she saw in me. And at the reunion I was ashamed because I wasn't doing anything "big" and had nothing in the pipeline, either.

I don't believe you need to be rich or famous to be successful. You need to make use of your God-given talents and do something you truly love to do. Only by doing so can anyone be truly happy. Back then, my definition was different, though, focused more on success having to do with engaging in something regarded by society as having high status. Either way, I didn't meet the criteria. And like I said, I felt that I had disappointed Mrs. Capps. I felt no pride when I responded to her asking what I was doing at the time.

Perhaps as I grew up I thought life could somehow be like the video below.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get

When I was in junior high we all pretty much told it like it was. No politics, playing games, no two-faced stuff; we just came right out and said whatever was on our mind. And we spent a lot of time saying "yo' mama" to each other also, haha.

As best I can remember, we were direct. I never really thought much about it because that's just the way it was.

When I got to high school, things were different. I learned that you have to keep your mouth shut and play games with people.

During the summer between junior and senior high, my folks moved. Not too far, but far enough so that I was now in a different high school area than I would have been had we not moved. Most of my friends from junior high went to the high school in my old neighborhood, and I met new friends in the new one, most of whom had gone to one different particular junior high.

They seemed more grown up than the friends I had in junior high. They seemed to have more freedom that I was used to. Was it just that we were a little older? That we were in high school and expected to act different? Or was it a different culture at their junior high versus the one I came from?

I got to know them soon enough, and also soon enough they invited me to their parties. I'm a shy person by nature but I liked hanging out with this new crowd and the freedom I felt, as well.

But here's an example of the game playing, and learning to keep my mouth shut:

There was one person that was universally disliked, and that everyone made fun of, talked about, etc. You know, there's always one in every bunch. Yearbooks feature the people voted "most popular," "most likely to succeed," etc., but he had been voted the unofficial "Best Pest." And I have to say, not without good reason based on my observations.

So there we were at this party, at K's house (no name naming here!), the guys congregated and talking about the Best Pest, and the girls standing around gabbing about their own things. Then one of the girls overheard us making fun of Best Pest so she walked over and told us how mean we were and how that wasn't very nice of us.

I said to her, "you girls talk about Best Pest just as much as we do. How can you say we're mean? You're a bunch of hypocrites." She tried arguing with me and I repeated my accusation.

Then it got really quiet. That girl stared at me then turned and went back to her group. Meanwhile I was pretty upset. I was expecting some kudos for defending us guys, when D pulled me aside.

"Don't say stuff like that. You'll get us all in trouble," he whispered.

I gave him a confused look. "What are you talking about?" I asked. "They're the ones that started it and they're a bunch of hypocrites. They're always making fun of-"

"I know, I know," D said, hushing me up. "But you can't say that. You're going to make it bad for all of us guys, don't you know?"

And I stood there fuming inside but also feeling embarrassed. Here I was, the new guy and already I had put my foot in my mouth although I still thought I hadn't done anything wrong.

D continued. "That's okay, you didn't know. Just remember in the future, don't say anything."

It was like the girls had the ability to cast a spell on us guys and I had put everyone in dire jeopardy. Some of the guys acted funny towards me after that. I didn't know what to say except, "Sorry, I didn't know." But then I felt like a hypocrite because I didn't feel sorry in the least; I still didn't understand.

And that really highlighted the difference between junior and senior high to me.

Like the video at the top (junior high) and the one below (senior high).

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

It's Not Even Funny

I heard about the magazine cover on the right on the news last night.

New Yorker magazine and the cartoonist call this "satire." We're supposed to be made so uneasy and it is supposed to play on our terrorist fears by showing Obama dressed as a Muslim, his wife as a terrorist fanatic, Osama Bin Laden's picture hanging on the wall of the White House and a burning American flag in the fireplace.

Oh ha ha ha. Bravo, bravo, good show, New Yorker. That is oh so clever. Oh so sophisticated! Totally hip and above the heads of the mainstream.

Since we are having so much tension with North Korea and China, why don't we revert to the Asian stereotype with the buck teeth and slitty slanty eyes and have a t-shirt that says "I am a ching-chong Chinaman" on the front of it? Ha ha ha, that would be so funny, too. And it would help relieve the tension so we could laugh at the enemy, which is basically anyone who looks foreign.

That's what is so wonderful about America, that the 1st Amendment gives us the right to say or do anything no matter how tasteless it is, and as long as the word "God" doesn't get used. So any cretin, like the guy who did this cartoon, has a right to express themselves.

Personally, I am not an Obama supporter. But I do respect the man and am really disappointed that a magazine such as the New Yorker should show the world it has no taste or class.

How about the next cover we show Obama being lynched by the KKK? Ha ha oh so funny and hip. Or we spread rumors that the cartoonist is a child molester and then we go to his house and burn it down? Ha ha, bravo, I applaud the cleverness of it!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Odds and Ends

In my post from Friday, I mentioned coming across a link to an article about Yoko Ohigashi, sister of Easy Livin's keyboard player Dennis Yokotake, and the oldest ever contestant on American Gladiator.

I have never watched that show, but finding out that someone I knew was on it piqued my curiosity. Alas, Yoko was eliminated in the last episode but nevertheless, that was an amazing feat for anyone, even more so for a 52 year old.

Back in high school I always called her "Jane," and it was her family that referred to her as Yoko. Here's a couple of pictures of her that I found in my yearbook (circa 11th grade for her):

You can see the resemblance then versus now. What I most remember about Jane, or Yoko, was that she was constantly on the tennis courts. And she played very well. She and another girl named Andrea Buchanan were by far the two best players among the girls. I also remember she always had a cheerful demeanor.

I still remember what Dennis told us once. He said that both of them could beat any of the guys in tennis, but they deliberately held back so as not to embarrass the boys. Being that by "us" he was referring to us guys on the boy's varsity tennis team, we all scoffed at him. Yes, Jane and Andrea were good, but not that good.

Personally, I still don't believe either of them could have beaten the top guys on varsity. I'm not certain of that, but that's what I believe. One thing I am certain of now, though, is that Jane could whup any of us in American Gladiator, probably without much of a sweat, either!

I'm sad to hear she was eliminated. She was totally impressive, though. It was that Crenshaw/Westside spunk that helped, I bet! The camera also showed her/Dennis' mom and dad. They look older, but yup, that's them.

On another note, here's another food-related post. Yesterday we headed over to Hows Market in San Marino to get sandwiches for lunch. Every weekend they bbq tri-tip roasts outside the market and it smells sooo good. Whole tri-tips are $15.00 and tri-tip sandwiches are $5.00. I've gotten the roasts before but never the sandwich, so yesterday was the time to begin. Here's the outdoor grill:

And here is the tri-tip sandwich:

The sandwich consists of a generous portion of tri-tip on a french roll. There's condiments at the table if you want to add anything but I like mine savage style.

Taste-wise, there's a lot of meat but I felt that whatever brown sauce they used on it detracted from its character. Maybe the sauce was simply an au jus, but it seemed thicker than that, more like a thin gravy. I like my tri-tip sliced and simply seasoned with a dry rub, not wet. Otherwise it might as well be any kind of roast with gravy.

I give thumbs up to the generosity of the serving, but was disappointed that the flavors got buried under the gravy/sauce.