more avatar work

so i finally got around to jpg-ing, resizing, and uploading the miscellaneous 190 or so sketches, doodles, illustrations, props, costumes, paint overs, textures, rejected concepts, etc - that i worked on for avatar. it only took me 4 years. some definitly more 'exciting' than others (read as navi_bowl_variation 157A totally rocks navi_bowl_variation 154cd!! omg!), but i've gone ahead and included the non descript and less interesting pieces anyhow. i'm trying not to be too selective since it was my first show and i can accept the growing pains visible in the work. :)

pensketch.com/gallery/avatar/

happy friday!


THORSDAY!

THOR comes out today! treat yourself to some aussie norwegian man god fun and get out there! i'll be checking out the 7pm showing tonight at the sundance kabuki. unfortunately they're only showing it in 3d, but the reserved seats and booze service will help me cope. i've also updated my website and gallery thanks to the friendly, yet slightly costly wysiwyg at www.squarespace.com.

i worked as an illustrator on thor for about a year and helped in the preliminary design of asgard, odin's tower, heimdall's observatory and some other environments and set dec. it was a lot of fun and i was in the company of some very talented individuals. i can't speak highly enough about the production designer, bo welch.

oh and the thor 'art of' book is out. along with some of my work you'll find some incredible art from my talented friends: ryan meinerding, charlie wen, michael kutsche, vance kovacs, raj rihal and kasra farahani to name a few.

some of the stuff that didn't make it into the book i'll have up in my gallery. you know, for the net-street cred and such...

as you were.

HAPPY THORSDAY!

San Diego Comic Con 2010

wow. another year has passed and hollywood comic con is here. i'm indulging this year and flying down to san diego on wed night and flying back to s.f. on sunday afternoon. it should be a blast. i'm looking forward to a long weekend of books, art, geeking out with friends, and sipping on something tasty. oh, and i'll also be presenting some work and discussing my process with some colleagues on friday:


Friday, July 23


5:30-6:30 Concept Design for Entertainment Avatar and many recent and upcoming productions are using not only state-of-the-art technology but also state-of-the-art design. Four of the industry's leading and award-winning creature and production designers discuss and demonstrate how films are made from a nuts and bolts perspective and share their creative and artistic approach to design in film. Avatar's lead creature designer Neville Page, production designer Rob Stromberg, concept designer Craig Shoji, and technical creature developer Alex Alvarez share not just the process of design but also the philosophical perspectives behind the approach. Room 5AB


i’ll most likely spend more time talking about my process for creating an illustration, and the problem solving that goes into it than showing off work. i’ll post the breakdowns on this site after the weekend. and i unfortunately won’t be able to show anything from thor since the content marvel is letting out is strictly controlled and out of my hands. but there’s enough visual candy getting out there anyhow that’s much more drool worthy.

i’m also looking forward to sipping a brew and watching diggnation live. and the TRS panel/taping. whatever the hell it is. i'm looking for laughs.

if you’d like to cross paths this weekend then get in touch. otherwise, have a great time in san diego!

Alice in Wonderland

here is some work from my time on tim burton's alice in wonderland. i was fortunate to work with, and befriend a great team of talented artists and designers.

i'm hoping to properly post these on my website at pensketch.com, but I'm still pushing to make it more complete before it goes live. this should do for now.

- - -

Alice in Wonderland

dir: Tim Burton

pd: Robert Stromberg

RQC Entering Lawn
RQC Croquet
RQC Moat
RQC Beheading Courtyard v02
RQC Beheading Courtyard v01
RQC Beheading Courtyard v03
RQC Beheading Courtyard v04a
RQC Beheading Courtyard v04b
RQC Great Hall Concept Sketches
RQC Bandersnatch Stable Int. Concept v01
RQC Bandersnatch Stable Int. Concepts
RQC Bandersnatch Stable Int. concept v02
RQC Bandersnatch Stable Ext. Concept v02
RQC Bedroom v01
RQC Bedroom v02
RQC Bedroom Balcony
WQC Distant

Comic Con 2009

since i'm living in the past, and have just gotten around to resizing and organizing some photos: here are some (abridged) memories from comic con 2009. it was the first time i've been able to go for 3 days, get a room in a gas lamp hotel, and NOT have to work a booth. the result? a lot of ketel one and fun with my friends (new and old). it was a blast.

lots of people
crowds

Uhura
the still, very lovely, nichelle nichols

thor
not quite what the new costume looks like, but he's owning the char.

plastic
rubber body suit?

boba
party time boba pimp

darth
not sure where those glasses are going.

linkpaparazzi
sdfd appreciating the cosplay

bigmotherfucker
big mthrfkr

mj
the fists!

ampsuit2
1:1 ampsuit fits nicely in a 16mm

ampsuit1

teamdisney
i'm pretty sure belle's day job is at royal/t

comicowner
this guy owns a comic shop and knew enough about thor to chat it up so we bought him a drink.

ealove
ea love

thexo
the xo!

comic_con_001argb
madelynne and jasna

blurry01
what the rest of the night weekend looked like.

around the corner was an alice exhibit that we ducked into for a minute. it looked really great! and it was nice to see some of my work blown up 1:1.

keyhole

alice03

alice04

alice05a

alice05

alice06

alice07

alice08

here is one of the concept images i did for the round room. i believe it's also been published in the disney 23 magazine.

Alice in the round room.

Live music in SF

my buddies from the Far-east Movement (FM) preformed at the palace of fine arts in san francisco this past week (international secret agents put on by fm and wong fu productions). they were gracious enough to invite me to check it out and i had a blast. those guys can really carry a crowd and put on a show. wow. it's wild to think that it was only a few years ago that we were freestyling to beats in my living room and casually joking about making music a lifestyle. well, they're doing it and they're on the rise so keep a lookout. they're also getting some local radio play on power 106 on the 7 at 7 with their track 'girls on the dance floor.'

i took my camera to give 'concert photography' a shot and needless to say i was quickly humbled by all the rookie mistakes i made. of course, at the time, i thought i was on fire! striking my semi-squat photo poses on the stage, pushing composition to the eXtreme~!!1!, and turning this medium into my bitch.

then i got home and 3/4 of the shots were overexposed, blurry or simply in poor taste.

yeah.

go me...

here are some selects. hopefully they're small enough to hide all my blunders.

dancecrew01

dancecrew021

dateh011

glowsticks1

proh011

fm_011

fm_031

fm_041

fm_051

fm_061

jin02

also had a bit of fun with audrey and shae at the cafe du nord this past thursday seeing mother mother open for the sam roberts band. it's too bad mother mother wasn't headlining but i still had a great time. good music and a good venue. drinks are on the soft side, but i'm not complaining.

mothermother01

shae_audrey

craig1

some of their music for those not familiar:

LA->SF

Quick update:

pensketch //

I've relocated pensketch to a new server thanks to Kevin Le (kevworks.net) so the forums and this blog have had a rocky few weeks. The mysql databases are back up and both should be working now, but there might still be some bumps to iron out so if you stumble across anything, let me know. Other than that, the uptime should be much more reliable.

work //

So I've wrapped up work (dec '08) and parted ways with Los Angeles at the beginning of the year. I've been living in San Francisco for about 3 weeks now, adjusting to the new city. It took a little over a week to move in but I've now got a cozy little workspace carved into our dining room. Now all I need to find is, well, work. Or paid work that is.

Gutting Pasadena studio.
Gutting Pasadena studio.


Driving over the Bay Bridge.

studio01 studio03 studio05
1,2,3...


Tada!

life //

In the meantime, I'd like to get up to Mammoth or Tahoe as much as possible. If anyone is interested in making a weekend trip with me and doesn't mind driving, I'm more than willing to split the gas/driving. And in the case of Mammoth, can offer a place for you to stay.

I've been eyeing one of these, and think I can find one for a good deal since they're so damn ubiquitous in the bay area :





If you're selling one then get in touch. Until then, I'd love to make some snow friends up here. Like this guy.
baz

tuning me in

i have been completely overwhelmed with the amount of great music passing through my bose. i'm also reminded that i need to blog about the band in the moment before it passes as it's hard to speak emphatically about groups that mean a bit less and aren't quite as moving as they used to be. i'll do my best.

so here are a few from my 'need to zone and get this painting done' work rotation:

The Faint: http://www.myspace.com/thefaint (who i recently saw at the henry fonda and couldn't keep my feet from moving. they're playing soon at the wiltern. i HIGHLY recommend!)
The Ting Tings: http://www.myspace.com/thetingtings (uk indie rck band that's also having a show at the wiltern in oct. midweek. with santogold. should be good)
Cut Copy: new album is lovely. http://www.myspace.com/cutcopy check out 'out there on ice'
Hot Chip: truthfully i think their live sessions and remixes are stronger than their album cuts. i'd recommend 'boy from school' itunes live session. http://www.pensketch.com/bfs.mov
 Ghostland Observatory: a new album - robotique majestique! thank god! these guys scream to make me dance. and yeah, straight guys can long to go out and dance. especially when the music is this good. http://www.myspace.com/ghostlandobservatory check out dancing on my grave and go from their down the tracklisting. solid work.

The Verve: new 'forth' album is really good. http://www.myspace.com/theverve

more to come!

and some concert pix. radiohead at the bowl was TOO FUCKING BRILLIANT~ monday night madness. i'll post vids!~

where did my sake go..?

Big ol' USA

In other news, I'm back in Los Angeles.

My first impression was 'wow, people here are fat.' It really hit me when I was at the Getty and I was surrounded by several groups of school kids just bursting out of their clothing. It's a bit appalling after spending so much time near fresh, affordable food and surrounded by fit / thin folks.

Living in a city that is so car-centric doesn't help.

Living in a country that is so fast-food oriented doesn't help.

Working in an office behind a computer all day doesn't help.

But it just means I'll be putting that much more effort into maintaining my health.

- - -
Audrey is up in San Francisco and I'm scrambling to follow suit. I'll be here for two months working as a concept illustrator on an untitled Zemeckis project, then I'll be on my way. More commuting, but hey, it's a good team and a fun project.

I'll finish posting pics about my trip to India when things simmer down a bit. I haven't forgotten.

Art Center Petition. Education First! ACCDPETITON.COM

It's been quite a stir at Art Center and I somehow got in the mix (and I'm a drop out).


It all started here: http://designercowboy.blogspot.com/2008/05/serious-trash.html


then here:


http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.viewVideos&channelid=82433


and then ended up here:


http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/arts/la-et-artcenter11-2008jun11,0,7266639.story


and here:


http://blogs.laweekly.com/ladaily/arts-news/controversy-surrounds-yet-anot/


and many more places.


Please take a moment to read through this and sign the petition if you feel you believe in the cause. We're (students, faculty, alum) are trying to re-prioritize the education of the current students and make the school the best it can be without the need for name-brand (gehry) buildings. There will be a time and place for that type of expansion, but it shouldn't happen if it will compromise the education of the students now.


- - - - - -


Dear Art Center Trustees,


We, the undersigned, are members of the Art Center Community: its students, alumni, faculty, and staff. First and foremost, we are requesting that the Board of Trustees act -- in its capacity as governing body of the school -- to put an immediate halt to the current Art Center Master Development Plan which includes the Gehry designed DRC.


The mission of Art Center has traditionally been and should be the nurturing of professional design and artistic abilities through the education of its students. We believe that this tradition of educational excellence has been compromised under the direction of the current administration and its president Richard Koshalek, and we ask that the Board of Trustees take immediate action to again make education the school's top investment priority.


That prioritization of education should result in tangible and immediate improvements for students, classes, facilities, and teachers. To that end, we request that the Board also take action to dramatically reduce non-educational administrative expenses. We ask that fund raising efforts place the highest priorities on scholarships and endowments which directly benefit current and future students.


Lastly, we request greater alumni representation on the college's senior leadership team and we respectfully request the opportunity for one or more of our Community delegates to formally address the Board at its next meeting in order to make our concerns known.


As members of the Art Center Community, we stand together: firmly committed to the legacy of the school, its students and alumni. Art Center is not made up of one man's vision, but one vision built from the whole of past, present and future students. Please do not allow yourselves to be distracted by the legacy needs of one man. Do not continue to allow critically-needed capital to be diverted to non-essential uses. Do not spend more time and money on the distant future, when there is great present need. Put education first.


Thank you for your time and attention.


- - - - - - -


You can find the Art Center petition at www.accdpetition.com.



We have over 1000 signatures and we're shooting for 1500 in the next few days. Please help out!

And don't be misguided by the top administration's attempt to rally support for Richard Koshalek with their 'counter' petition. If you read through theirs it doesn't really make much sense.


India - Day: 1, Mumbai / Thane

audrey and i took a trip to india for 11 days during her break at insead. we wanted to start out in bombay/mumbai and then head east to chennai and work our way south to kerala. 11 days is hardly enough time to really take in the country, but we did what we could with the time allotted.

it's hard to sum up the india experience in a single post so i'll just go through it day by day and reference my journal. in a word, it was, incredible.

but that's what i was hoping for.

- - -


smoke and smog greet us.


we landed in mumbai around 10am and ran into some good luck right off the plane. while talking to the woman at the prepaid taxi stand, another passenger from the plane came up and kind of took over the conversation in hindi. he asked where we were going then offered to share the taxi with us since thane was on the way to where he was headed. after looking at audrey and getting the 'uh, i guess' look, we went for it. i was much more willing to jump into quick-trust situations on the trip than she was, but it didn't take long for her to warm to a similar attitude. after all we were going to be couchsurfing with someone i had only talked to once on skype incl. a few email exchanges.

running into anand (the guy we shared the cab with) turned out great. he found our cab, used a local telephone to call josiah (the guy we were crashing with) and get directions, then offered to buy us some tea. when we got to thane he ended up paying for the cab ride and waiting for us while josiah picked us up. the whole experience was extremely kind and an easy transition into the country.

hung out for a bit and chatted with our host and his gf. both of whom were incredibly kind and interesting to talk to. i can't stop shouting praises about couchsurfing. once we were caught up we went exploring around the city.

but first a snack. i believe this is a bombay special, and i think called 'varapow'. but i'm not certain. it's like a fried masala stuffed in a hawaiian roll with some relish slathered inside. seriously magically delicious. the texture was soft, smooth, crunchy, squishy. sooo good.. i didn't realize how great they were till i started craving them when we left mumbai.


varapow!

it took about an hour to get from thane to downtown by cab. you have to first grab a rickshaw to the toll bridge then pick up a cab from there. the cabbies didn't speak much english but we managed to explain where we wanted to go. in thane/mumbai they all meter their fares by the km and the trip downtown was around375Rs (under 10$). 40Rs is 1$.


typical 3 wheeler rickshaw (tuk-tuk).


typical india traffic.

the traffic is really something in india. especially in mumbai. you learn quick that you need to be extremely aggressive to make it through those streets alive. everyone honks, and it's actually encouraged when driving around bigger trucks so they know you're there. the lanes aren't really adhered to, but it works in an organized chaos fashion. everyone driving knows the system as well as their vehicle. it made me realize that when you drive your car/rick like these guys do, you get a concrete understanding of your turning radius, acceleration, stopping distance, etc that people who aren't used to driving like this never truly experience. perhaps that's why there are so many accidents in l.a. sitting in traffic has numbed everyone to the experience of driving that they barely know how to handle their own vehicle when it comes to avoiding a collision.

i thought the chaos was a lot of fun.


the bombay ambassador taxi. aka, fiat premier padmini. not super comfy, but lots of charm to make up for it.


lots of cute 3 wheelers.

we ended up in churchgate, then walking along marine drive next to the water, down to chowpatti beach and then drove up to malabar hill to check out the 'hanging gardens.' rather bare and not really impressive but there were a lot of people just 'hanging' out. so maybe it was a misunderstanding in translation..


walking along the ledge at marine drive.


the concrete beach stained with betelnut.


ordering some food at the chowpatti beach stands.


bhelpuri snack. crispy, sweet, tangy from some orange zest. cilantro and dried bananas. it was good, but not great.


playing at chowpatti beach.

it was getting dark so we went to see the haji ali mosque around sunset. the crowds, the heat, the colors, the beggars, the beauty, the trash, the goats, the kids, the smells.

i bought a handkerchief for 10Rs. i should've bought more.


popular spot on a sunday. this is just past the military controlled metal detectors.


shops hug the left, a ledge leading to rocks, trash, goats and water on the right. then a long stream of people moving to and form the mosque.


hanging around in the debris.


chasing after a plastic bag.




inside the mosque. the guys like audrey. :)



standing outside the mosque looking back towards the way we came.



sunset.

found a taxi, took it back to thane and got ready for dinner with josiah. he took us to a place (and i'm cursing myself for not getting the name of it) that was tucked in the corner of a mall near his house. the food was really incredible. some of the best indian i've ever had.


a skewer of onion, peppers and cottage cheese. holy f*$%ing tasty batman!


a clay pot of basmati rice sealed with bread dough.


tada! it's delicious!


turns out dil se is 'for free.' more yum though i was so busy eating i didn't get the proper name for a lot of these dishes.


didn't have enough room in my tummy to finish the jelebi. such a shame.

good food is always, always, always, a great way to finish the day.

Noise, Good and Bad & Chicken Rice!

so about 3 to 4 times a day my neighbors blast their music and i'm treated with the bass reverberation shaking the walls of my place. at first i thought they just did this to cover up the sex, but i might be wrong. they can't possibly be doing it that often.. right? they also have a young boy who likes to scream, so it might be to drown him out. or maybe they're doing little 10 minute dance parties...

regardless, it's pretty obnoxious and i'm close to knocking on their door to ask them to keep it down but for now i'm settling with cranking my music up as loud as this little macbook+altec lansing can handle. it's passive aggressive, i know, but it's working for now. and ever since my neighbors in pasadena took to banging on my walls at the slightest hint that i was listening to music, i've made a little pledge to prevent myself from being like them if the roles were reversed. well now they are, and here i am. blasting my music. not to send them a message, but to rather drown out the ruckus. (or maybe both.. :) )

on that note, the klaxons rock. you might know them by such great hits as golden skans and it's not over yet. between them and jim sturgess singing all my loving i should be able to hold my own against singaporetechnofever2008.

speaking of, i got to check out the butter factory a little while back and had a rather good time. some things i've noticed about the singapore night life:

- the drinks are very soft. most of the bartenders measure the shots.
- it's rather expensive for 'brand' drinks that soft (15-17 SGD$ / 10 $USD) but their house vodka is usually smirnoff so it's not a bad pour.
- some locations have just one person running the cash register so all transactions get queued at this choke point resulting in a long wait for change.
- since you don't tip on drinks, 10 USD$ isn't that bad after all.
- most of the people in the club look 15.
- there is an air of.. innocence and little pretense amongst the locals. easier to understand in person than put into words, but it's really refreshing.


the first room is adorned with cute (and familiar) illustrations.




the second (dance) room before i got this party started.


and once people got the hint that it's a dance floor.

the butter factory is in a rather touristy place called clark quay. there is a stretch that's covered by a rain canopy and has some blower vents attached to the columns that are circulating air. very cool aesthetic.


translucent canopy at clark quay.


blower vents.

there are also a lot of night life spots to check out in that area for food, drinks, and ambiance. one that stuck out was clinic. a themed, chic restaurant that didn't receive that best praise for it's food by bourdain, but gets points for creativity. i haven't had the pleasure so i'll just point out it looked neat.


fetish even.


yeah, those are wheelchairs.

oh and i'm almost over this bug. thanks to antibiotics, lots of toilet paper, and sleep. some may think i'm pushing it by keeping to the spicy food so soon after i was ill but i figure it's training for india. and it's so hard to say no to the vat of soysauce with the little floating chilis... that and it's blasphemous to eat chicken rice without the chili sauce. which brings me to -- food!

at the direction of the makansutra i headed to another die, die must try spot for hainanese chicken rice. i've been itching to have some good chicken rice since i got here and this place really hit the spot. the rice was subtle and not very oily but had a good flavor. it's not the most flavorful rice i've had but the light taste was a welcome change from the predominantly oil filled dishes here. the chicken was really good but after being in taiwan and having that chicken, this didn't really compare. in all fairness, i don't think any chicken compares to the stringy, free range awesomeness that taiwan has to offer.

but i will say that the chili sauce is top notch. there was a hint of orange zest lime juice on top of the ginger and chili that added a few layers of yummy. i've yet to find a better place for chicken rice here, but i'm still searching so i think it's too early to rule this as king.


tian tian chicken rice.


the long queue at maxwell center for the goods. usually a sure sign of a winner.

India, Miharu and Toys

planning a trip to india is a bitch. especially for someone who's never been, knows little to nothing about the country, and isn't even sure what he wants to see. but it's been a rather pleasurably rewarding bitch. i'm learning the lay of the land and how transportation works, and the more i read the more exciting it gets. it's great having sites like flickr and webshots around. it's extremely convenient to get a glimpse of where i'm going to go. i also stumbled across wikitravel which is also very insightful (and free!). flying into to mumbai on sunday, then touring the south/east. still not sure what the best way of booking a driver is so if you have any insight, let me know (book through hotel, airport, find someone on the street willing to take me around...).

i'm also making good use of couchsurfing. it's a site based on trust and user reviews intended for travelers who are interested in meeting/welcoming others in their respective home towns. it seems to bring the trust back into social encounters making me all the more grateful, though i suppose there is a fine line between romantic hopes for humanity and naivete...

feeling a little ill. it might be all the spicy chili i keep throwing on my food, or the typhoid fever shot from the other day (my arm is still aching from the tetanus shot. feels like a dead arm) though it's prob just a bug from hanging out on the mrt so much. hope it passes before the trip. c'mon echinacea infused yogi tea...



- - -

thanks to ye ol' makansutra foodie guide i headed over to the gallery hotel where miharu is located. itching for some good ramen this place got the highest marks in the book. contrary to the recommendation i ordered the wabushi shoyu ramen (the miso recommendation had bean sprouts and corn which didn't sound appealing right then). a tiger beer later i was in for a treat. this is probably the best ramen i've ever had (little tokyo, ca included)! the noodles were made to a perfect al dente and the shoyu broth was light and not overwhelming, but still retained a solid flavor. the pork was excellent too. succulent and tasty. even the egg hit the spot. probably the first time i've finished a full bowl of ramen with no regrets.


store front tucked behind the gallery hotel.


wabushi shoyu ramen @ miharu, singapore.


in my tummy.

then i went back another day and ordered the hot tsuke-men plate. essentially separated ramen that you dip and eat. there was an option to get a stronger tasting (vinegar-y) broth that i went with and it was great. just as good as the wabushi shoyu. damn i love this place. each dish is about 10-12 $SGD (7-8 $USD).


tsuke-men dipping broth.


tsuke-men set.


dice was so excited to get good ramen in singapore, he ordered the miso ramen and the tsuke-men.

- - -

ventured over to mint toy museum to check out the wares. great collection! 5 floors of narrow halls with display cases filled to the brim with classic toys. there was some really priceless stuff there. the lighting for most of the cases was extremely poor (to prevent fading), and just as i was about to pack up the camera, some small spot lights came on in some of the displays. it turns out there was a thai media group doing a piece on the museum so the lights would be on so they could film. great timing (though not every case had spot lights)! also came across some non-pc toys that i thought were interesting. amazing how blatantly racist our country was (is?) just a short time ago.


robota!


some classic mickey and minnie pieces.


lots of first editions.


sadly, this case is probably worth more than my life.


stwf, but did fly.


stwfbdf.


stwfbdf. surprisingly, i saw a newer version of this toothpaste downtown:


nice save...

and some more STWF while walking around vivo city.


stwf.

Lunar New Year

happy year of the rat! can't say that i've done much to celebrate the lunar new year in the past, but if it means good food and quality time with friends, i'm in.


this was actually taken at a festival in singapore.


following ruth around.

just got back from a little under a week in taiwan. spent most of the time in hsinchu where audrey's family lives. ate, explored, ate, played with the dogs, ate, walked around to find new places to eat, ate, and shopped a little. lots of in-house family time since most of the stores shut down. it was cold as balls (had to wear 5 layers and a scarf indoors!) but a real treat of a trip. especially getting to see all the new year treats and festivities (REAL fireworks!).


walking around the streets of hsin chu.


a good majority of the people ride scooters. i wish l.a. was as scooter friendly. it could only help the horrific commutes.


cold and rainy night.


inside one of the many cramped stores that are scattered in the city.


yummy fatty pork dinner! (courtesy of terry liu).

i also got to visit a small town on a windy hill called jiu fen just north of taipei. the rainy, misty weather added to the already charming alleyways and store fronts. it was pretty crowded from all the people visiting for the new year, but fun nonetheless. some really inspirational asian-alley spots.


looking up the windy road right before the entrance to the walkway.


lots of people, small walkway, umbrellas at eye level. oof.


audrey keeping dry.


inside a 100 year old teahouse for a quick breather and some hot tea.


itching for tea.


serving plate with the traditional cherry blossom stick.


pano outside of the teahouse.

the next city i got to see was badu which wasn't too far from hsin chu. some more treats and temples. oh and a guy puffing glue out of a bag. that was pretty interesting to see (though frowned upon by my company at the time).


right before entering the promenade.


yummy treats. not sure what these are called (anyone know?) but they're like pancakes with red bean inside.


didn't get to try this but i thought it was neat how he made it.


cute truck!

back to hsin chu to shoot off some fireworks. the great thing about the home of fireworks is that it's the home of fireworks. you can actually buy some cheap, loud, explosive goodies on the street. we spent a good 2 days just blowing shit up in the back yard. much to the dog's disapproval. i also saw a bunch of little kids shooting off bottle rockets. something you wouldn't see in the states. actually, there is a bunch of shit that won't fly in the states that i've seen here so i'm going to start a collection of 'STWF' (in america). if you've got anything to contribute by all means send it my way and i'll put it up.


stwf - fireworks sold all over the city. bottle rockets, roman candles, and more.


i'm the smiling sucker who gets to light this puppy.


the beautiful aftermath all over the yard. really something spectacular. the explosion scared the shit out of audrey and i, though her dad was surprisingly unaffected!


our bottle rocket assault on the neighbors!

spent a day in taipei shopping and eating with some family friends. i had some of the best sushi i've ever had that night. i'm going to blame the sake for my not remembering to get the name or a business card, but it was tucked away in some back alley. supposedly they import a lot of their fish each day directly from japan. everything tasted incredible from the taro root to the clawless lobster, to the kobe shabu shabu. i'll get the name of the place and post it later. really. really. good. i can't emphasize it enough.


amaebi is one of my favorite dishes. this one came out whole with the head attached, then once we ate the body they took the heads and deep fried them so we could eat those too. cha ching!


sea urchin and... mackarel?


red snapper split in two.


clawless lobster. yum, cool, yum!, cool!, yumcoolyum.!.,!.!


various cucumbers and roots. really refreshing.


the aftermath.

a local coffee chain in taiwan is 85°. starbucks competition. half the price, just as tasty with some clever innovations.


the menu. an americano is about 35NT which is a little over 1USD$.


sealed top on the take away cup so you don't burn yourself.


looking down on the streets of taipei.

and speaking of innovations. i wish that there were more timers on traffic lights in the states. if you're going to have to wait, it makes more sense to know how long you're going to have to wait for. singapore has a similar 'minutes remaining' system for the metro (mrt). you always know how far a train is from arriving. very convenient.



from all that i've seen, taiwan is a great place. friendly people, lots of culture, proper transportation, and great food. the fruit is some of the best in the world (so i hear). i really indulged and encourage you to do the same if you go.


my favorite buddha fruit! but with a twist. this is some genetic experiment that results in a sweeter fruit with more flesh and less seeds.


speechless.

Shopping

spent some time at simlim to pick up some essential electronics. it's about 20 mins or so on the MRT from where i am.

the power converter for the external hd i brought, was dropping the connection every 10 seconds or so (most likely not getting enough power to the hd), so i thought it best to pick up a local unit. works like a charm now. something to keep in mind if you plan on bring a 3.5" external here. also got a 22" LG for a decent price. planning on using it for three months and selling it on the local forums. it's definitely cheaper than trying to ship/bring one here.

the mall is pretty crazy. 5 stories of electronics with a basement of hawker stands. you can haggle most things, especially if you pay cash, but i found that aside from a slightly lower GST there isn't much diff b/t here and the good deals stateside. though, there are a lot more people here who will try to gouge prices on you so it's best to know the conversion and the part's worth.


riding up the escalator looking down on the first floor.




imagine floors and floors of this.

- - -

next stop, the muji store. i.fucking.love.muji. there really should be one in l.a. but now that i think of it it's probably just for my own convenience. l.a. doesn't seem a fitting place to embrace minimalism and responsible design. yet.

but i hear they've finally opened one in n.y. (aside from the little moma basement) which is a good start. the stuff isn't cheap but it's quality. especially the stationary goods. usually desaturated, earthy colors. lots of cardboard. lots of off white, on white with a kick of burnt sienna.


the store front inside the paragon mall, orchard rd.


window display.


it's.. so.. beautiful.


obsessively minimalist and compulsive.


i like this muji so much, i want to take it behind the middle school and get it pregnant.

Singapore

i leave the country and mammoth gets dumped on. 10 feet of snow and it's still coming down. go figure. i won't be surprised if the 08/09 season is as bad as 06/07 was. ffs.

- - -

so i set off for singapore on a 90+ day adventure and i've been here for about a week. it was the first time flying eva (used singapore air the last time i was here), but i wanted to check out their 'elite class' and must say it was well worth it. the seats are much large and there is a good amount of arm room on each side. the recliner is slightly more sophisticated with some control on the leg rest too. 3 movies, a princess of mars, a few asian veggie meals and 18+ hours later i was standing in front of immigration trying to explain why i was going to reside in a country for 90 days without officially working.

yes i left my job. no i don't know the address of where i'm staying. yes i'm the guy in the photo. no my hair's not blonde anymore. yes my girlfriend is here already. no i can't seem to find my return ticket home. yes, that's really me in the photo.

that and the hour delay on my luggage aside, i've had few hiccups since i've arrived.


scale model of the island from the ura center.


got to spend the past week settling in (got over the jet lag in a day) and exploring the area. i'm sitting in a 12th floor flat on the west side of the island. great view, amazing cross breeze, and walking distance to the bust stop, mrt, and a few hawker stands. insead is even walkable but takes about 40 mins. a welcome change from sitting in front of a computer all day in a dimly lit room.

living area with my desk setup
here's the living area where i've set up shop.


it's warm. it's muggy. it rains off and on most days. and i love it.

looking out
looking out from the patio.


i'm right next to the ulu pandan connector which is a long strip of pavement that runs parallel to the canal and invites many-a-person to walk/jog/bike it. although singapore has a reputation for being friendly, i've noticed that the locals usually keep to themselves while in public and are less inclined to say hi when you pass them. i've gotten most of my 'morning!'s welcomed only by semi suspicious smiles.



the food is amazing but it's definitely not the chopped green asian chicken wraps i'm used to. lots of oil. lots of spice. lots of noodles. there's a good variety if you know where to look but it's usually a little more expensive than what you'd pay for some chicken rice and a soy milk.

found a great book at the recommendation of david chow called the makansutra and have been using it as a guide to finding some great eats. it's been pretty spot on so far and i'll post some more specifics in a bit. oddly i couldn't find it in the states and had to pick it up when i got here.


sing's expat foodie bible.


this guy makes some really good milk tea.




lots to see. lots to do. i'll keep you posted.

Migration

Going to migrate from craji.com/blog over here in hopes of keeping craji just my professional work/info. I suppose this is my personal slice of the website, so.... Enjoy!