Deb versus Japanese and Other Kitchen Adventures
My cooking has certainly improved over the years, but I still have many misadventures. These typically happen when I push beyond my comfort zone and try a new recipe or a new kind of cooking like dishes from a culture that I haven't tried. I really hate wasting food in general. We really can't afford to waste food currently, so I have to approach new things with a degree of seriousness. However, I don't like to view food as something that is terribly serious. Some of the food blogs I follow can get downright dour. How can you be dour about food? This was especially true on the Food Network's Facebook page. I suspect they have a moderator now as it has become a lot more civil than it had been. To the 'true believers' that were snarking all over that page, the current crop of shows don't reflect 'real cooking.' The exception to this seems to be Good Eats which is widely considered as a brilliant cooking show by fans writing on that page. I think it is as well, and I've used a great number of recipes from that show. Alton Brown, the host, introduced me to pie birds. However, one couldn't call his show serious in tone. He did Sweeney Todd, for goodness sake. And that isn't as crazy as he's been. I like cooking shows that have a sense of humor (Good Eats) as much as the ones that are purely instructional (America's Test Kitchen or Martha Bakes). Thus, I'm really enjoying shows like Bitchin' Kitchen on the Cooking Channel. Host Chef Nadia G has had some good recipes, but I really just enjoy watching the mayhem on her crazy set. Hers is the only cooking show that has ever used the term 'broke ass' in the prattle. And then there is the adorable Extra Virgin -- also on the Cooking Channel that inspired making the Tiramisu. Debi and Gabriele are delightful along with their darling daughters...and the chickens...and the 800 year old poodle named Delores.
The latest show to inspire me and make me go beyond my comfort zone is Your Japanese Kitchen. It's more instructional than funny. The music is weird though. Anyway, I've already made a very successful set of goyza or Chinese fried dumplings. Last week, they were cooking a food I love to get when eating out. So, Saturday, I made shabu shabu [picture not representational though fairly close] which is a hot pot of broth and vegetables that one cooks thinly sliced meat and noodles in to eat with a dipping sauces. Jon was happy because there were noodles, so there was no problem from him. But the ingredients were Japanese. And some of them had names with more than three syllables. So, there I was at Mitsuwa Marketplace, the Japanese supermarket near our home explaining to a very patient young man what I needed. He didn't wince too much at my pronunciations. I must have done okay as he found everything. He was cute with a great voice, too. Oh, where was my Hubs who reads Japanese? Looking at ice cream. Anyway, the process was kind of lengthy with all the slicing and chopping, but I find that peaceful. And the dish was tasty, too. Still, as far as foreign languages go, I should stick to French.
Meanwhile, because someone implied that I might be wasting my time on one of my pursuits.
A Defense for Anime and Manga Geekdom
One of the best things about being a filmmaker is that I have a built in excuse for my admittedly excessive geekdom. Of course, I have to read comics or obscure scifi books and even graphic novels (though my attorney insist that they are just comic books with an uppity attitude). Even a fondness for crappy 1980s era cartoons is understood in the wake of blockbusters like the Transformers franchise in film and the development of projects like Thundercats and Voltron for TV. Even my elderly relatives have conceded that such strange interests may yet result in my supporting myself with my creative work.
All of that understanding evaporates when it comes to anime and manga. Oh, it was okay when I was younger. My fascination with the new wave of cartoons from Japan in the 60s would pass. My mother actually liked Kimba, so she tolerated my devotion to Astro Boy, Prince Planet and Speed Racer. After all, I was very young, and I still played with Barbies. That made me mostly normal. But I was still following what anime I could well into college. I was more wrapped up with Star Blazers than I was with Luke and Laura. My interest didn't diminish as I matured. It grew broader especially as more and more translated or subtitled material became available. My relatives have long given up on trying to figure me out or reason me toward more understandable interests. We have agreed that they will remain confused. After all, we can always talk about sports at family gatherings.
My friends are another matter. I find that I am as puzzled by their lack of interest in anime and manga as they are about my intense interest. Many of these friends work or aspire to work in film. They, above all of my other friends, should not only understand my interest, they should absolutely share it. I started hammering this point home some time ago with the release of the Matrix. This past year's biggest films both critically and financially really pound the point home. Many major Hollywood films lauded for innovative imagery have been heavily influenced by anime. Please note, I am not saying that anyone stole anything from anybody. I'm saying that anime has a profound influence on some prominent Hollywood filmmakers.
Let's start with the Matrix. There really isn't a question here. The Wachowski brothers showed Ghost in the Shell to Joel Silver when they pitched the Matrix. Here is a featurette expounding on this fact that includes comments from Joel Silver. This does not, in my opinion, take away from the amazing feat in imagery and movement the Matrix achieved. The film deserved all the praise that it received. However, the inspiration for that amazingly bad assed stuff came from an anime. Not impressed? The Matrix was all eye candy? How about something that was considered highly cerebral in its theme. I know there was supposed to be this big philosophy behind the Matrix. Forget that noise. It was eye candy. The film that was critically acclaimed everywhere as much for its concept as it was for its visuals was Inception. It has been lauded as the most original idea in films is ages. I looked at the trailer and tweeted one of my favorite critics that it looked like Paprika which came out four years earlier. Christopher Nolan has said that Paprika was an influence on Inception. Still not impressed? Let's try something that was not considered scifi in any fashion. I was looking at an extended trailer for Black Swan. Some of the scenes, I remarked, reminded me strongly of Perfect Blue. Darren Aronosky acknowledges that there were similarities between the films, but it was not an influence. That's confusing to me. He actually owns the rights to Perfect Blue which he bought to recreate a scene for another film, Requiem for a Dream. Whatever. Incidentally, Perfect Blue and Paprika were by the same man, the immensely talented Satoshi Kon who left this world way too soon.
And there you have it. My intensely geeky interest in Anime and Manga is perfectly justified as a filmmaker. Heck, it's justifiable for film fans as well. You could be as annoying as I am when presented with statements like 'the most innovative etc, ect. ever seen' by pointing out you had seen such innovation a few years before. It's a magical moment at a party. Oh, I didn't mention Manga? Well, many of the titles I listed began as manga. But if you want to know the latest Hollywood interest in it, just google for details about the hellacious dust up over the plans for the Leonard DiCaprio/Warner Bros adaptation of Akira. It even has ultra mellow George Takei upset. As for me, what is the anime that is inspiring my Hums and me to write the next blockbuster. I am so not even breathing that title. My Hubs and I have never discussed it outside of our home. Go fourth and watch your own!
There aren't many right now. I'm still working on the yaoi books. We're having a casting session for the horror film on Wednesday. We also plan on signing our leads this week.