green business card

London based designer/illustrator, Jamie Wieck designed a business card that doubles as a miniature house-plant when dipped in water.


I don't have $600 burning a hole in my pocket. And I make it a rule not to buy first generation gadgetry. So I'm not infected with iphone-mania. Can't believe people are waiting overnight and all day outside a store for a phone. Check out Mayor John Street of Philly camping out in a lawn chair outside a store waiting for his iphone at 5am!! Forget addressing the record breaking murder rate in the city, he's getting his iphone. At least he's not butting in line - he's waiting with the common folk. That's a real mayoral look.

draft night

Highlight of NBA draft night? Joakim Noah rocking the Orville Redenbacher bowtie suit with the blowout and cheesin' it up with David Stern. The actual draft went according to form. Oden, Durant and Horford as the top 3 picks. Crazy pick of the night? The Bucks selecting Yi Jianlan. The Chinese 7footer refused to workout for the Bucks and made it known that he didn't want to go to Milwaukee. Then they picked him anyway! I don't know if there's a chinatown in Milwaukee ... but maybe its a setup for a trade.

And trades ended up being the big news of the night. Of course none of them included the Sixers. Some people are critical of the Celtics obtaining Ray Allen based on his age and on the belief that he will be unable to share the ball with Paul Pierce. It won't make them a title contender but it should make them playoff bound in the pathetically weak East. I don't think they're going to miss any of the players they traded for Allen.

For all the ridicule and criticism (much of it deserved), Zeke made some nice moves for the Knicks. Zach Randolph is a good fit .. if he stays outta trouble. I'll be curious to see how he handles the trappings of NYC after finding trouble in Indianapolis and Portland. Plus they rid themselves of the huge contract belonging to Steve Francis - who cannot coexist with Marbury. Francis will be a much better fit in Portland, where he can run up and down the court in the West. Roy/Francis/Aldrige/Oden is a nice little lineup.

Sixers were unable to make a deal and move up in the draft. The main attraction of dealing A.I. were these draft picks. And we end up with Thaddeus Young, Jason Smith and Derrick Byars?! I hope Billy King has something else up his sleeve, because I'm not too impressed. Thaddeus Young at #12? I don't think he can provide immediate impact help. I was expecting Julian Wright, Al Thornton or Nick Young. This only highlights the fact that the Sixers should've lost more games on purpose. What was the point of that 7 game winning streak. It was absolutely meaningless and ultimately hurt the team on draft night. You can say all you want about integrity and encouraging a winning environment for the young guys...but what are you saying now about these 3 non-impact players?


Takeru Kobayashi is the MJ of competitive eating. The Lance Armstrong of hot dog contests. He's won 6 straight contests at Nathan's and he's undefeated except for a face-off with a bear.

So I was shocked when i heard reports of his jaw arthritis. What a cruel injury for a champion of competitive eating. Especially when a worthy opponent, Joey Chestnut has finally risen from the ranks. But now Kobayashi has issued a statement announcing his intention to compete for his 7th straight title at Nathan's Famous on July 4th. This adds even more drama to his showdown with Chestnut. Will Kobayashi overcome his ailment like a hobbling Willis Reed for the Knicks in 1970 or MJ playing thru a flu in the 1997 finals? Or will it be a built in excuse in case he loses? Chestnut's been turning on the pressure since nearly beating him last year and breaking his record recently. I've been a big fan of Kobayashi since he started his winning streak in '01 and I hope he comes up big.

Why am I a fan? I respect his training regimen and his discipline. He insists that competitive eating is a sport and takes pride in his unusual ability. I also enjoy watching dominant sports figures and teams demonstrating their excellence. Call it bandwagon fandom, but I think dynasties are great for sports. Celtics, UCLA, Lakers, Yankees, MJ's Bulls, Tiger, Federer etc. Dynasties create an added sense of love/hate interest even from casual fans.

Maybe this is the year Kobayashi finally falls. 6 years is a good run. Either way, I'll be watching.


Cool sunae (japanese word for sand painting) art from Yokohama based artist Naoshi. Love the characters, composition and vibrant colors.

adhesive tape art

what happened when you were born

Take a trip down memory lane courtesy of Kakorama. Check out what happened on the day you were born.

thai public bathroom art

Public bathroom art in Thailand. I'm not sure about the picture of the girl with scissors above the men's urinal.

onitsuka tiger/shin tanaka

I don't own any Onitsuka Tiger kicks but they definitely have a nice look and they appeal to that urban outfitter crowd. Here's a really cool flash site featuring the paper sculpture art of Shin Tanaka.

I love his concept of combining traditional materials with contemporary subject matter. Origami constructed characters rockin' chains and patterned hoodies? Love it.

internet love

Heroes update

New characters update for "Heroes" Season 2: Generations in September:

Dania Ramirez (Sopranos) will play a new hero - Maya, a hispanic woman in her 20s with undisclosed powers. David Anders (Alias) will play Hiro's childhood hero, Takezo Kensei. Season 1 made many references to Kensei's legend and Hiro spent half the season in a quest to find the Kensei sword. Six other recurring characters will appear including Japanese pop star/actress Eriko Tamura who plays a princess in the feudal Japan time sequence.

So what's up with the white guy playing Takezo Kensei on the upcoming season of "Heroes"? Is this going to be in yellowface or like Tom Cruise in "The Last Samurai"?

Props to angryasianman for this pic:

human tetris

I gotta get on this show.


Last night at the theater, I saw a cool Japanese animation film called "Paprika". This is a great sci-fi flick from Satoshi Kon (Tokyo Godfathers, Millennium Actress, Perfect Blue). Its based on Yatsutaka Tsutsui's novel which follows Atsuko, a female psychiatrist who studies her patients' psyches by entering their minds and accessing their dreams through a machine called the "DC Mini". Its powerful technology ... yet dangerous in the wrong hands. And sure enough, the machine is stolen and used for evil purposes. Enter Atsuko's alter ego, the daredevilish Paprika, who trails suspects through various dreamworlds to find the culprit.

Paprika features very imaginative visuals - especially when characters travel between the dreamworlds. It felt like Miyazaki with a sci-fi urban edge. The cynical humor adds a wonderful counter to the purposefully and beautifully nonsensical illusion of each dream sequence.

There were at most 10 people at the theater last night (artsy folk and anime geeks) and I sat there thinking about how people are missing out on this movie. It definitely reflects the differences in how animation is viewed in Japan as opposed to the U.S. My dad dismisses any type of animation as a cartoon for kids. This isn't suprising considering mainstream Pixar/Disney fare is geared towards children. At best, their offerings are kiddie movies with subliminal adult humor to keep the parents somewhat entertained.

Similarly to the Studio Ghibli films, Paprika's ending represents aspects of Japanese philosophy towards balance and nature. I am by no means a Japanime expert or an otaku, but I have great admiration for the depth, complexity and cultural references found in the storytelling.

HIllary & Bill Soprano

I don't think I'm going to vote for you Hillary. But I like the Sopranos spoof to introduce your campaign song. Too bad you picked a Celine Dion song. But maybe its fitting, I don't find either person that likeable. I like Bill's reaction to the carrots though.

Paper Dolls (Bubot NIyar)

Last night I caught the last hour of "Paper Dolls" on the Sundance Channel. Its a touching documentary on a group of Filipino trangenders who emigrate to Israel to take care of elderly orthodox Jews at nursing homes. Filipinos have a penchant for entertaining, so they also form a performance group called the "Paper Dolls". I read a recent news story on the large numbers of Filipinos who work abroad (I first took note of this development when we went on cruise vacations and encountered a large number of pinoys working on the ships) and this movie explores global immigration as well as the history behind Israel's policies towards legal and illegal foreign workers. Unique relationships develop between the Filipinos who seek acceptance of their sexual orientation in a foreign land and these elderly people who are rejected by their families because of their age. Amazingly they become family for each other. This documentary is truly a great slice of life on many levels.


Had a great time celebrating my parents' anniversary with my family. I highly recommend the restaurant Nasu Blanca near Fort McHenry in Baltimore. Offering both Spanish and Japanese dishes on the same menu sounded intriguing and it was executed to excellence on each dish.

Reuniting with immediate family can be wonderfully familiar in a strange way. Does that even make sense? When you revisit pattern family behaviors under the same roof, there's a sense of comfort and awkwardness. Its easy to slip back into the roles which define your youth until you grasp the separation between the adult life you crafted as opposed to the childhood you were raised in. More tellingly, my observant wife is handy for perspective and often comments, "Now I know why you are the way you are." Now she's not necessarily alluding to my shortcomings when she says that. Or at least, that's what I tell myself.

Anyway its funny how memories come back to you while sleeping in your childhood bedroom and following time-honored rituals like sitting in our usual TV watching positions on the couch, hearing tsismis about all the titos and titas, and running the sunday afternoon sequence of church-grocery-lunch.

Once you get past the honeymoon period, you realize the level of work involved in cultivating a loving and lasting relationship. As funny as it may sound, years of marriage taught me to understand divorce. At least the complexities behind the reasons. I've observed friends and co-workers divorcing over a multitude of problems - present day issues, personal issues that have nothing to do with your partner and conflicting visions of the future. Or they just couldn't see themselves growing old together. And I came to an understanding that people can change and things don't always work because people can't always work it out. Anyway, my point is that I've come to the point where I can truly appreciate my parents' 40 years of marriage. When we asked them for any words of wisdom, they didn't reveal anything earth shattering. But when I saw them smiling almost sheepishly at each other, I sensed something overwhelmingly special.

Get Lifted

Keep your Monday upbeat. Here's hoping for a quick workweek.

Chrisette Michelle feat. Will.I.Am - Be Ok
It was her voice that defined "Lost Ones" for Jay-Z and "Can't Forget About You" for NaS. Nice uplifting track that captures her jazzy sensibility.

Mutya Buena feat. Amy Winehouse - B Boy Baby
Guilty pleasure track. Mutya cuts a cute rework of the classic Ronettes song "Be My Baby" Plus she's half pinay!

Jill Scott - Hate On Me
All variations of the word "hate" in current slanguistics (i.e. "You're just a hater", "Don't Hate, Appreciate" etc) are beyond tired and serve as a cop out to quell any type of critical thinking. I blame Puff for his "Playa-Hater" track 10+ years ago. But despite the title, Jilly from Philly puts together one of her patented self-affirming songs. I can picture her walking around West Philly (like in that Long Walk video) and singing it in every hater's face. She got the pipes to make you step off too.

Congrats to the Spurs

Congratulations to the Spurs for winning one of the worst NBA finals ever. Even desperately repetitive shots of Eva Longoria couldn't save ABC from their TV ratings plunge. Casual fans tend to find the Spurs brand of basketball as vanilla. Fundamentally sound and selfless... but boring. But this year, the boring label might be more applicable to the personality of the team (sorry Timmy, what kind of nickname is "The Big Fundamental"?) rather than their actual play. Their offense is more versatile than ever as shown by their ability to switch gears from running through the uptempo Suns to grinding out the Jazz and Cavs. They are by far, the best passing team in the league. While Duncan continued his unassuming brilliance, the Spurs were truly reenergized by the emergence of Tony Parker's playmaking skills along with the circus shotmaking of Ginobli.

This forgettable finals can be blamed on the Cavs. They were absolutely the worst team to ever make the finals. They would have been a 7th seed in the West. The Spurs had more trouble with Denver - their first round opponent. Yes, Lebron played poorly (and needs to work on his jumper and get "Wise Lebron" to teach him about the forgotten skill of developing a midrange game) but his teammates couldn't make an open shot or grab a rebound to save their lives.

The Spurs barely cracked a smile when the final buzzer went off in the most ho-hum championship celebrations that I've ever seen. I guess it was too easy. How about Robert Horry flashing 7 fingers at ever camera? 7 rings!! He aint a HOF but its an amazing feat that he has the most rings of anybody outside that Celtic dynasty.

At least the misery ended quickly. Now on to the draft.

top chef

I love watching tv shows about food. My wife finds this baffling since I can't cook much beyond spaghetti or eggs. My usual retort is that I don't watch for inspiration but I admire the artistry of the process. I don't even necessarily get hungry from watching these shows even as my senses are overloaded by sizzling pans, rhythmic chopping and dramatic steam. For me, watching a chef creating a masterpiece dish is akin to watching an athlete at the top of their game.

I occasionally check in with Simply Ming, Yan Can Cook, Nigella, Giada, both Naked and Take Home Chefs...but right now I'm all about "Top Chef" on Bravo. The competition is fierce and the drama between the contestants put it over the top. Plus Salman Rushdie's wife, Padma Lakshimi plays a good host with her laidback stoner style.
Here's hoping the new season matches last year's tension . Last night 's episode brought back Anthony Bourdain (love his show on the travel channel) as a judge and I'll probably end up rooting for Hung - he seems to be positioning himself as the villainous "Marcel" character.

soon the new day

Talib Kweli feat. Norah Jones - Soon The New Day
Its tricky being socially conscious rapper. In terms of the fickle hiphop audience, there's a fine line between communicating a message and being too preachy. Some mainstream artists confess to dumbing down lyrics - which may be a cop out for their laziness. But invariably your favorite rapper's favorite rapper is Talib Kweli. Jay-Z and 50 have both given him major props. It doesn't suprise me that Kweli doesn't get much street love, but it irks me that some alternative rap people find him self-righteous. Or when they feel betrayed when he tries to reach for a bigger audience. I just appreciate his positive presence and have been a fan since his Black Star days and of course "Train of Thought". Here's a throwback:
Talib Kweli feat. Hi-Tek - The Blast

Diggin Questlove's reinterpretations of Pharrell's last album. The live instrumentation of the Yessirs give it a warmer organic feel that was lacking on the original. P may sound better when produced by someone other than himself. Pretty funny for a "superproducer".
P & The Yessirs - How Does It Feel

farewell bob...

Bob Barker taped his final episode of "The Price is Right" (airing 6/15). Like many others over the past 35 years, I grew up with Bob. Watched him go from black hair to white. Held my breath whenever an over zealous fan tried to jump on him.

More importantly, "The Price is Right" reminded me of my Lola. For years, 11am in the summertime meant sitting on the floor with her in front of the TV watching Bob hold court. Often, Lola was sewing or mending our clothes and she would often repeat the announced prices or products with pins in her mouth. We would both shake our heads and gently scold a contestant who lost foolishly. And we laughed heartily when somebody wildly celebrated winning a car or hitting 100 on the big wheel. This was one of our big bonding moments along with the soaps and the tabloids. Something about bright lights, zany colors, breathlessly happy people and the announcer bellowing "Come on down!!" made everything all right.

Even to this day, years after Lola's passing...the show still brings back these memories. Its odd how a tv show can have such an effect. If I'm sick from work, I make it a point to watch it. And when I watch the show, I'm only partly paying attention to the action. A big part of me is remembering how me and Lola would react to these moments. So thanks for the memories Bob. Well, I can always catch you on youtube.

don't stop believing...

I haven't watched the Sopranos for a couple years (its been so long that I barely recognize AJ) because it got stale to me and I didn't want to pay for HBO. Anyway, people are going nuts over this finale. I have some diehards in my office and they were debating with such raw emotion. One guy appreciated the interpretative ending but the majority were bitterly angry that there was no definitive conclusion. I've never heard so much passion from these people. Now they're heartbroken because its like they lost family. But hey, maybe they'll cash in and make a movie.

So I peeped the ending out of curiousity. Loved it. I don' t understand the uproar from some people. Even with all the whackings over the years, the series was never that clear in its direction. So an open-ended finale seemed appropriate to me. The cut to black at the end was great - it got everybody thinking their cable went out. Anything that messes with the viewer's head like that is genius. And that Journey song was a nice touch.


Tonight we dined at "Cebu" - a restaurant & bar in Old City Philadelphia that advertises itself as "Filipino cuisine with Spanish flair". I learned of their existence late last year as I was finding my way to Cuba Libre. One of Cebu's street team members handed me a glossy half page flyer. I was intrigued - not only because Filipino restaurants are rare in our area, but I was curious to see how it would fit into this location. Old City is known for attracting a trendy crowd searching for the next overpriced hot spot. In my experience with Filipino restaurants, I've only frequented cheap (but delicious) turo-turo or homestyle joints. Perhaps knowing that Filipino cuisine may be a mystery to many Americans (I've fielded many questions as well), Cebu pushes the fusion and tapas aspect as its selling point. This made me skeptical about the authenticity of the menu, but I remained open-minded since I read that the owners are indeed filipino. After more research, I discovered that Jamie Foxx held his after-concert party at Cebu. Hmm...not sure what to think of that...

Upon approaching the location, we see the same street team guy working 2nd street. This time he's handing out menus. As he starts reciting his spiel, I reassure him that we already have reservations. I push through the tall doors and find that its not terribly busy especially for a Saturday night. I wonder if they are struggling to find customers. However, the streets did seem a little lighter in traffic - maybe everyone is down the shore.

I turn my attention to the interior. There is no real sense of identity in its design. The lack of any cultural references (a la Alma de Cuba) was disappointing but it is anonymously pretty and spacious nonetheless. The nightclub-ish lighting actually fits in with the tromp d'oeil accents, sky high ceiling and upbeat Spanish music (what no filipino tunes??). The overall feeling is wonderfully expansive, yet strangely I feel cramped in our immediate seating section. I enjoyed looking around the open spaces in the distance, but the waiters had to turn sideways to walk between us and the next table. I was also disappointed in the small numbers of pinoys in the staff - the service was adequate but lacking in warmth. I wasn't expecting our customary hugs and cheek-kisses, but filipinos are known to be very welcoming hosts. Our latina waitress was professional but her knowledge of filipino cuisine seemed studied and limited. Then I noticed an Italian waiter nearby comparing the tapas to dim-sum. I envisioned the white people at the table spreading another misconception to their friends and co-workers.

I've read some reviews after the fact which trashed Cebu's offerings as non-authentic or suffering from an identity-crisis. It would be foolish to expect authenticity from an upscale fusion restaurant. The overall taste is decent. The one glaring misstep on our selection was our sole spanish selection of tuna ceviche (my wife loves ceviche). However it ended up as three slices of tuna with wasabi sitting on some leafy lettuce. My paella with its assortment of adobo, sausage, mussels, clams and scallops was excellent - the flavoring was spot on.

For dessert, the flan was a little too eggy and hard. It also missed the caramel sauce which adds the necessary sweetness. The halo-halo was tasty...but it was bastardized. It was not served in a tall glass overflowing with shaved ice. No straw either! It came in a short wide glass with the proper beans and ingredients but had more or a milky, ice-creamy feel. It tasted great but I missed the joy of crushing the shaved ice and slurping up the drink. A trio of filipinos walked by my table and made passing comments in tagalog about my faux halo-halo. My rough translation amounted to "Hahaha that's their halo-halo?!"

I can only label my experience at Cebu as uneven. I enjoyed my food, but I can see where hardcore or old school pinoys would be turned off. The small crowd included some young, trendy white people mixed in with a couple filipino families wearing shorts and sneakers. I suspect these pinoys were hoping for a homestyle meal and a tagalog conversation with the waiter. It did feel strange dropping $100 for a fusioned imitation of food that I ate for free growing up at my parents house or at parties hosted by some tito or tita. Maybe filipino food isn't the best fit for an upscale type of joint. Walking out the restaurant past the hardworking Cebu street team dude, I remembered the time when my wife asked my father why there aren't that many filipino restaurants. My dad replied simply that filipino food is best served at home.

Hugo Appreciation / Harder Better Faster Stronger

That new Kanye song "Stronger" made me dig into the crates for this Neptunes Remix (in this day and age - two years ago is digging deep):
Daft Punk - Harder Better Faster Stronger (Neptunes Remix)

By the way, much respect to Chad Hugo - the overshadowed filipino half of the Pharell-dominated Neptunes and co-owner of Star Trak entertainment. While Pharell models for LV, jetsets with celebrities and hocks his overpriced gear with Nigo, Chad seems to enjoy his relative anonymity. While it would be nice for the brotha to step up into the spotlight, I can imagine that he craves privacy and normalcy (aside from cashing in millions in production money). As Chad often plays the background, some find it easy to theorize that he's the mastermind behind the scenes...allowing Pharell to play frontman. But I'm not totally willing to disparage Pharell's talents and Chad himself described a more symbiotic working relationship. Another case of Asian modesty? Nah, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.

WaWa appreciation

Shout outs to WaWa. Your cheap gas and surcharge-free ATMs almost make me spend happily. I'm drunk off your rasberry ice teas. You're a permanent fixture in my lunchtime rotation - the usual suspects on your menu: 1. Turkey club salad /fresh pineapples 2. Turkey club sandwich wrap/mixed fruit 3. Turkey BLT hoagie/Kettle chips/mixed fruit (tryptophan laced lunches are a must for napping in the office)... plus a rasberry ice tea. And if I was a coffee drinker, I'd probably hit you up in the morning too. While its not quite the Japanese combini...its as good as it gets in the Del Vall.

web cam from shibuya

Metroblog Tokyo posted up a link here to a live real time webcam on Koen Dori - one of the main shopping streets in Tokyo. Its pretty cool to get a peek of the streets a world away and half a day in the future. I know its just a long distance view of people walking around ...but I'm easily entertained.

Anyone else freaked out about those 360º street views on Google Earth?
This guy walking out of the adult bookstore can't be too happy about it.

Finals preview

Hopefully we'll see a lot of this in the Finals. The Cavs did beat the Spurs in both regular season meetings, but of course the playing for the 'chip is a totally different level. The Spurs should take the finals in 5 games but LBJ should put on his show. I don't dislike the Spurs (although I dislike seeing Eva Longoria on the sidelines) but I find them to be boring. As a bball purist, I respect their unselfish brand of team ball, but there isn't a likeable character on this team. To get amped up, here's LBJ's Game 5 performance vs the Pistons - the stuff of legends and the definition of putting the team on your back.


Thanks to my sis for putting me on to TeamManila - a studio based in the Philippines. Their portfolio includes some really bold and inspiring work in print and broadcast design.

uniqlo UT Project / mixplay

Love tshirts? Uniqlo's UT project is a new concept store created by Kashiwa Sato in Harajuku. T-shirts are packaged in transparent cannisters and UT Project has enlisted a number of well known designers. I'm looking forward to checking them out when they hit the US flagship store in Soho.

peter stormare appreciation

I was looking to kill 10-15 minutes of waiting time before going out the house. Usually this tv situation calls for ESPNews. But today I caught the perfect cornball flick for a Saturday afternoon: Armageddon. Its bad in an entertaining way. And I get sentimental because it was one of our first movie dates. Nope, I'm not ashamed to admit it. My wife (gf at the time) and I watched it at the Riverview in South Philly and quickly forgot about it over dinner at Jon's on South Street. Anyway, its 90's personified from the cheesy Aerosmith ballad that scores the charming courtship between upcoming actors Ben Affleck and the constantly tearful and pouty Liv Tyler to the clichéd one-liners (courtesy of Bruce Willis, Steve Buscemi and Billly Bob) that lighten up each ensuing life or death situation.

But the comedic highlight for me is the Russian astronaut played by Peter Stormare. I never knew his name till now, but I always applauded his work especially in Fargo. He almost always plays the same character - a shady Russian or Eastern European with a thick accent. You gotta respect how he embraces the pigeonhole and rides it from role to role (Minority Report, Bad Boys II, Nacho Libre, CSI) . Thanks Peter for helping me kill some tv time. Here he is in a funny VW spot:

upbeat for the summer

kid sister feat. kanye west - pro nails

pharoah monche_body baby (vicious circle remix)

m.i.a. - boyz

Find It