Thursday, December 30, 2010
The Sikh never cut their hair, wearing it long and in a turban. It is a symbol of their spirituality. Yet now that more young Sikh men are cutting their hair, the act is a sign of greater modernization and a gradual loss of the old ways.
In Ancient Greece, it was the slaves who were bald, while the wealthy and influential wore their hair long. So hair can divide classes.
When the prince deflowered Rapunzel, the witch cut off her hair and cast her out of the tower. Hair is a transitional state.
I never really thought about the significance of hair cutting, having not cut my hair short since senior year of high school. Yet something about it always signaled a big change of some sort, one that I was not sure I was ready for, and prior, not really sure I understood what it would symbolize.
So when I cut my waist-length hair up to my chin, there was something symbolic, almost freeing. Like a renouncing of the world and its possessions, except not quite so materialistic. It was a change, almost signaling an entrance into the adult world, and that transition from not knowing to finally understanding.
Or perhaps its just hair and now it's one less thing to have hanging over your head.
Friday, December 24, 2010
To which I replied, "I can't imagine actually having four seasons."
Which is why going back to California for the holiday was like waking up from a long, exhausting sleep, back to a place where everything is filled with sunshine - green, alive and familiar.
Because no matter how hauntingly beautiful a White Christmas is, to this California girl, there's nothing alive underneath the snow and icicles. Times like that, it reminds me what home feels like, it's what recharges you, some sunshine out of the gray.
Take the uncertainty of life as a writer, where you never know if anyone will ever get back to you for an interview, or if an editor will love or hate your story, it's part of the reason why I bake.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
If you asked me that this time last year, from July to December, I would say another handful of book knowledge, gleaned from reading Shakespeare and art history textbooks. And a realization that I am definitely not the friends-with-benefits type (though that is another story).
Yet compare last year to this year, or even, just June, when I graduated from UCLA, to December, 6 months (and halfway) into graduate school, then the expanse is wide, the knowledge base denser and the miles...well, it's endless. It's one end of the country to the next.
Monday, December 13, 2010
Then the trailer came out, with that gender-neutral title and that pop music soundtrack and modern lingo. And there evaporated my hopes that the film would feel like the traditional Disney animated fare, there was no way that "Tangled" could be the "Rapunzel" that I have loved since I was 6 years old. There was no way that the tag-line "She's been grounded for, like, ever" could be a "tale as old as time."
Until I finally saw "Tangled." And it was like all the bad faith evaporated.
In fact, I adored it so much that I'm listing the reasons why every person who ever loved a Disney movie should go see it.
Friday, December 10, 2010
When I was younger, I wanted four seasons. After all, I was living in California, which is not necessarily known for it's diverse temperatures. Then I lived in England for a while and I had my first real snowy winter. And by snowy, it snowed for about two weeks, the university shut down, then everything melted. It was a fluke of a storm.
But no, there are no such things as flukes or halfhearted weather changes in Syracuse. When it snows, it snows.
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
With most writer, anytime you turn something in, there will be that moment of pure relief, like the lifting of Atlas' world from your shoulders and you suddenly feel like you can breathe again, until the next story comes along (or if you're working on a story, until you get back to writing, which will be within the next 20-30 minutes).
Then, immediately thereafter, there will be dread. Almost a feeling of pure hatred for the work that you just turned in and a certainty that the editor will hate it just as much and you will lose that little of credibility that you had.
Yet on the other hand, while you may hate it and have every reason to believe that the editor will too, you also want them to love it, as a validation of your hard work and your skills (which you never think you have enough of.
And then, probably a month or two or three later, you'll be bored one night and decide to re-read your old writings. And as you're reading them, you'll come across a sentence that'll make you laugh or that I think is really well-constructed and then you'll think, "Damn, I'm good."
And that's as close to confidence as you'll ever get, that moment where you're finally allowed to pat yourself on the back for a job well done and believe that brilliance will carry on to your next project.
And then you'll agonize over a new piece and think you're the most mediocre writer in existence.
Though I do think this piece that just came out on Monday is quite good. Perhaps my most accomplished yet.
Until I read it again in another 6 months and laugh at myself and how amateur my writing was. It never ends.
What are your thoughts reader?
"Bringing Up Baby - And Acting Too"
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Friday, November 26, 2010
Growing up, my family had traditional American Thanksgiving exactly one time. My dad had bought a ham home one year (from work) and after some pestering on my part (naturally), my sisters and my mom finally used our oven. In Asian households, ovens are used for storage.
So my sisters and my mom prepared everything the way I always imagined it, the honey-glazed ham, the mashed potatoes and gravy, the fall vegetables (a medley of corn, sweet potatoes, carrots - orange and yellows). And we also had an Vietnamese vegetable soup as a palette cleanser. The ultimate fusion.
Then after, the clean-up was so heinous that my family has never prepared Thanksgiving dinner in quite this way since. This year, my family back in California went out for seafood, a yearly tradition.
Now, drunk off of turkey and too many glasses of champagne, it's allowed me to be a bit introspective about the holiday, the first time I'm away from home. Yet I'm still able to have a real Thanksgiving, courtesy of my sister and my brother-in-law, and some in-law relatives who live in the Hamptons.
I helped prepare my first turkey today.
Monday, November 22, 2010
"The Language Archive" by Julia Choi takes that scenario and turns it into two very muddled hours. George (Matt Letscher) is a linguist who has trouble communicating with his wife (oh the delicious irony!), Mary (Heidi Schreck) who leaves him.
Meanwhile, George's coworker, Emma (Betty Gilpin) is in love with him, a feeling that only intensifies as they try to get an old married couple, Alta (Jayne Houdy Shell) and Resten (John Horton) to speak to each other in their native tongues, a language that is soon to be extinct.
And there's the conundrum, George is more obsessed with saving an ancient language than his marriage.
Family drama is played for laughs in Charles Smith's "Knock Me a Kiss." A romanticized retelling of the marriage between Yolande Dubois, the daughter of civil rights activist W.E.B. DuBois, and poet Countee Cullen during the Harlem Renaissance, the play traffics in superficial comedy at the expense of complex characters.
DuBois, concerned more with pedigree than love, orchestrates the match for his daughter unaware that Cullen is gay. Yolande, who has an infantile notion of romance, rejects a proposal from jazz-band conductor Jimmy Lunceford, whom she loves, in part to cement her position in society. Of course, the truth inevitably comes out.
Read the rest at Back Stage.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
The long end: Siskel and Ebert says it so much better than I do.
I know for me, something I struggle with is opinions, or the correlations thereof. Sometimes there are things I see that I actively dislike it but others might enjoy.
Then you wonder, is my opinion wrong? Do I have no taste? One thing you learn, especially after writing papers at university (especially if you got a BA in English like I did), is that it's not about the opinion, it's about the support. And if you can support your criticism with well-reasoned statements, then no one can really fault you for having that opinion.
Though that doesn't mean that there will never be doubts. I just read a New York Times review of a play I saw Friday night, which I gave a dubious review for (Back Stage will post it up soon).
Neil Genzlinger was more positive than I was. Who is correct?
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
"The Way We Were," which makes me cry every time I hear it and made me cry even harder after seeing this movie for the first time in September (don't judge, I grew up in an Asian family). And with this version of the song, performed by Barbra ("K-k-k-k-Katie!") herself during a recent taping of "Oprah," Babs proves that she still has it. And like Bernadette Peters, the woman also does not age.
And like this last scene in the movie didn't make you cry? Though according to the making-of information, the amount of footage cut from the movie made the reason Katie and Hubble split incomprehensible. Watching the movie for the first time, I didn't realize it, only because there was an intuitive sense that something wasn't quite right in the relationship and it was never going to work out. Like real-life relationships, sometimes you just can't work it out and love isn't really enough. Because life isn't the movies. Unless that movie is "The Way We Were."
But enough of that, little girl is going to bed now and fight off the last of this flu. Enjoy the Barbs!
Read the rest at Back Stage (aka, yay my first Back Stage review!)
Friday, November 12, 2010
Say hello to the newest television recapper for "TheCelebrityCafe.com." Join me every Monday, readers, as I recap the newest episode of "The Walking Dead."
And now a recap of episode 2 of "The Walking Dead" with the "Zombie Kill of the Week."
And some other small bits of writing.
Music: "KT Tunstall: Tiger Suit"
Op-ed: "Want to Meet Stars? Go to the Theater"
Thursday, November 11, 2010
And when you run out, it's time to refill the well. If these past two weeks have been any indication to me, it's that the well is working overtime. Having pitched four ideas for a web journalism class and gotten rejected on all of them, and having a story that I'm writing for Back Stage implode forcing me to think up three more ideas, I've been on constant idea generating mode.
So that brought my idea generating status to a grand total of 8 ideas in two weeks. And not counting updating this blog and starting work on my new column for "TheCelebrityCafe.com" called "Culture Ninja" (hyah!!).
And I will like to share with you readers, my idiot-proof way to think up feature article ideas, honed from a grand 2.5 years of journalism.
Diep's Handy-Dandy, Idiot-Proof Way to Generate Ideas
Saturday, November 6, 2010
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
So really, I felt that it was only a matter of time before I took to critiquing every "Glee" episode, especially since most of them contains musical references that I, as a musical theater geek (or "gleek"), should be kind to point out.
This post is a bit late since I spent this past week preparing for Halloween (which included me teasing my hair and making some pumpkin cookies and butterbeer), so there was not much time for writing.
Now I am back to long, theater-related posts and what better way to start than with the "Rocky Horror Glee Show."
The recipe can also be found on the site.
Sunday, October 31, 2010
So we went out and bought a giant pumpkin and I watched as my dad and my older sister (Thao!), scooped out the pumpkin innards and carved out a traditional looking Jack-O-Lantern. Of course, no one told us the logistics of putting a candle in the pumpkin and lighting it up so we just had a hallowed out pumpkin sitting on the windowsill of the living room. It wasn't quite traditional but it was close enough.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Gasp. It’s a political scandal. Ohh… It’s an unsolved murder. Ahh… It’s the slow caress of an ankle. Quick! It’s on the run.
It’s (pause for effect) The 39 Steps (cue dramatic music).
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
"Penelope" differs from the traditional story-telling which paints the bachelors as unsympathetic villains. Instead it portrays them as sympathetic, multifaceted and ultimately tragic in their masculine pride. The play is written by Irish playwright Enda Walsh and presented by Druid Theatre Company. It received the first award at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. St. Ann's marks the American premiere.
Monday, October 25, 2010
Well most recently, she has critiqued an outfit from yours truly. And apparently I'm fashionable, who knew?
"Being Formal: Diep style."
Sunday, October 24, 2010
So I guess, you can say that I was always a writer.
Monday, October 18, 2010
Sunday, October 17, 2010
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Difficulties in the Tuesday performance of A Chorus Line, presented by the Famous Artist Broadway Theater Series and playing at the Oncenter, proved that a chorus line is only as strong as the performers within it.
First the show was delayed by 25 minutes when a lead actor had to be replaced at the last minute (by SU alumnus Nick Nerio). Then, during the show, sound glitches could be heard in two key numbers, one where the music overpowering the singers, and static in parts of one song.Such things are unavoidable sometimes and the only thing then that can be done is to continue singing and dancing. And dance they did, in stirring synchronicity. But when it came to the overall performances, the show was a mixed bag.
One note and a horizontal, undulating beam of blue light begins "Das Rheingold," the first installment in Richard Wagner's epic "Ring" cycle. The prelude, or "Vorspiel," is my favorite opening piece of music, a gradual accumulation of strings bubbling steadily upwards, reaching a fevered pitch that can then only be reigned by the crystal-clear voices of three mermaids, swimming in mid-air, bubbles coming from their lips.
Think "Lord of the Rings," but with gods, and devils and people singing in German.
Friday, October 8, 2010
Thursday, October 7, 2010
In the musical "Man of La Mancha," Don Quixote, while standing beside a suit of armor, responds to a query of why he continues with his, seemingly impossible, quest. Naturally, since this is a musical and what theater professors would call the "major dramatic question," he responds in song.
"To dream ... the impossible dream ...And so on and so forth. Brian Stokes Mitchell (one of the sexiest bass voices on Broadway) sings a beautiful version of this song.
To fight ... the unbeatable foe ...
To bear ... with unbearable sorrow ...
To run ... where the brave dare not go ..."
That is the situation that the writers within “Dramatic Personae” find themselves in. Written by Peruvian playwright Gonzalo Rodriguez Risco’s and funded by the Playwright's Realm (which produces one work a year from up-and-coming playwrights), the play made its premiere Off Broadway at the Cherry Lane Studio on Oct. 1.
The play follow three writers - Lucas (Felix Solis), Ben (Gerardo Rodriquez) and Marla (Liza Fernandez) - as they try and transform their slivers of ideas into stories, holding weekly meetings to try and develop those ideas, all the while asking the eternal question of any writer: "Where does inspiration come from?" Real life? Some dark recesses of the mind?
This all occurs during the Peru’s political conflict of the early 1990’s, which happens in the background and the audience never sees it, save for the occasional explosion which is treated as a nuisance rather than a catastrophe.
There is a semblance of something achingly like conflict. Yet the title “Dramatis Personae” acts as its own plot summary. It is not a political drama.
Friday, October 1, 2010
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Well, one of the great things about working for Back Stage is it almost forces me to be up to date on industry events. Interns are responsible for putting the weekly events listings together. It's not the most stimulating of tasks, it has me spending hours upon mind-numbing hours scouting different websites for events that might be interesting to actors. But I did stumble upon this:
Free night of theater!
All throughout October, different venues across the country will be offering free tickets to their theatrical show. From a marketing perspective, it's ingenious, it's a way to raise interest in a theater company. Because anyone who works in the business knows, once a patron trusts your company's taste, they keep coming back. How is it I didn't know about this when I was in Los Angeles? Though I'm glad, you get tickets based on a raffle if you're in Los Angeles. In New York City, it's a free for all. That doesn't mean I'll be slow in getting them. I know where I'm going to be tomorrow at 10 a.m. when the NYC tickets go online.
Apparently in years past, according to the publicity video, past years offerings include "Spring Awakening." Here are the plays in NYC which I have my eyes on getting tomorrow morning during class. Because when it's free, why the heck not? And I might get a good review or two from them.
"Dramatis Personae" by Gonzalo Rodriquex Risco
"The Crucible" by Arthur Miller
"As Is" by William Hoffman
"Druid Penelope" by Enda Walsh
"Spirit Control" by Beau Willimon
"Orlando" by Sarah Ruhl, based on a novel by Virginia Woolf (I am particularly excited about this one, some showings are already sold out)
"The Zero Mostel Show" by Jim Brochu
Here's hoping I get everything or most of what I want. What shows are you looking at, readers?
Monday, September 27, 2010
There is a moment in No Child…, the first play of Syracuse Stage’s 38th season, when main character Nilaja sits alone in a chair, lit by a single spotlight. She ponders the deficiencies of the American education system, which has led to apathetic, unqualified teachers and uninspired, underachieving and even cruel students.
“But I chose to teach in my city, the city that raised me, and I'm tired,” she says, visibly drained and frustrated. And that is the central message of No Child..., laid out clearly.
The play, written by Nilaja Sun, focuses on a teaching artist who has to find a way to intellectually engage a group of 10th graders at the fictional Malcolm X High School. She does so by making them analyze, rehearse and perform a play by Timberlake Wertenbaker, Our Country’s Good.
And because she is giving this assignment to a group of teenagers, naturally, there would be a Justin Timberlake joke. It’s the humorous moments like this that gives the play its authenticity.
And here is the profile on the actress, Reenah L. Golden.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Sunday, September 19, 2010
"You may be asking yourself, right now, sitting at home, but am I the right type of person to go to this rally," said Stewart. "The fact that you would even stop to ask yourself that question, as opposed to just, let's say, jumping up, grabbing the nearest stack of burnable holy books, strapping on a diaper and just pointing your car toward D.C. — that means I think you might just be right for it."
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Monday, September 13, 2010
- This one took about a month and a half to write. It was also a lesson, for me, in patience and realizing that just because you need it, sources still will not reply to your e-mails promptly
- My first post and I get $.01 cent for every hit. It's a ways away from actually getting paid to write but it's a start. And I've been meaning to write this type of article for a while, now I can.
- I've been looking forward to this album for ages. And it almost satisfied.
Thursday, September 9, 2010
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Of course, as I got older, my palette developed, though even in my teenage years, I still preferred hamburgers. Then I got to college and somehow, the foodie emerged, shedding the old, fat-loving coat behind. The proverbial butterfly that was started enjoying fine foods and insects instead of just plain leaves (I quite like this analogy, it makes me feel pretty). There, living in the dorms at UCLA, surrounded by burgers, sandwiches and pizza, I ran in the opposite direction.
Sunday, September 5, 2010
I've been to New York twice at this point, both times when Thao was there, and I've naturally done all of the touristy things (Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, corny photo ops). This time, my goal was to see a Broadway musical (though that mutated into Broadway + Fringe).
But not just any musical: the "Promises, Promises" revival, starring my favorite Broadway actress Kristin Chenoweth (who I had previously written an obituary for in the news writing class).
And if I am honest, I saw the musical just so I can watch her perform, having previously only seen her through a television and computer screen. I had the fantasies of finally meeting her, maybe it would go something like, "Hi Kristin, I'm Diep and I'm a journalist, I interviewed Joshua Bell who knows you and he said that you are just a darling person. Oh, and look at that! We're the same height! People make fun of me too. Did I tell you that I'm also a soprano?" She would laugh, I would laugh, and our natural chemistry would just take over from there.
Friday, September 3, 2010
Thursday, September 2, 2010
Monday, August 30, 2010
"I sometimes hold it half a sin
To put in words the grief I feel;
For words, like Nature, half reveal
And half conceal the Soul within.
But, for the unquiet heart and brain,
A use in measured language lies;
The sad mechanic exercise,
Like dull narcotics, numbing pain.
In words, like weeds, I'll wrap me o'er,
Like coarsest clothes against the cold:
But that large grief which these enfold
Is given in outline and no more." - Alfred Lord Tennyson, In Memoriam A.H.H.