Saturday, December 27, 2008

Shoppings in New York

I have been looking forward to shopping in New York. First there was a trip to Roosevelt Field, a gigantic mall on Long Island in Nassau County. I'm a proud shopper of Woodfield Mall out in Schaumburg, so I was curious to compare and contrast the 8th and 9th largest U.S. malls, respectively.

Man scoping out the parking situation...he will later make a crazy turn out of his spot (Camry behind him) to get in that line on the left, causing the Audi in the back to get pissed off and not let him in, making us wait for four cars to pass by before we can continue on to get blocked by a parked taxi and then go around the lot to get in a different line to get out of the single exit for this parking structure.

For better or for worse, there is little documentation of this trip. It consisted mostly of navigating through densely populated crowds, since it was the day after Christmas. Roosevelt Field feels much more cramped than Woodfield, too, so that added to the chaotic atmosphere. Later, we spent an hour and a half in the parking lot waiting to get out. I have never seen such an inefficient parking exit in my life; I'm pretty sure that Woodfield can get bad, but I don't think it'd take over an hour to get back on the expressway. However, I got a sweater on sale at Club Monaco and a purple and gray striped shirt on sale at Zara (first success since 2005 in Paris!), so I can't camplain (sic).

Today, we went to Manhattan, mostly downtown. Who knew there was an Ippudo in New York?! This past summer, I was told that Ippudo was famous in Japan and was taken to one in the Queen's Tower of Yokohama. Reunited!

Corner of 4th Ave & 10th St--Ippudo is on the first floor of the building with the wood-y facade

Left: Shiromaru from Yokohama; Right: Shiromaru from NYC

Ippudo is known for their tonkotsu soup, which is a tasty pork-based broth. I was surprised to see that the NYC location was kind of posh, with dim lighting (hence the difference in color between the two photos?), fancy murals, mirrors, and couches. There were a number of Japanese customers, including families and at least one businessman with a suitcase next to him. I'm certain there were more Japanese people in Ippudo than there are in the entire Chicagoland area. Anyway, that's a good sign that the ramen is good, which it most certainly was.

We moved on to Uniqlo and Muji, where I got down to business. Inspired by Phoebe and Gwyneth Paltrow, I got a pencil skirt more or less on impulse, though I did try it on. I also got black skinny jeans and "Warm Up" herringbone-patterened tights. To my surprise, the skirt was $30 less than I expected. Score! At Muji, I got a planner, small-ish notebooks, a purple pen, and socks made of recycled plastic.

Ozawa Seiji!? Or just a cool Japanese man!?

I really like the boutique-y part of SoHo, along Prince and Spring streets between the subway station and Broadway. I've become familiar with the area over time more than other parts of Manhattan--we met with Jenni there last year, and in previous years we've scoped out the Bape store and bumbled about. This year, the most remarkable difference was that I heard a lot of French, German, and other European languages I was unable to identify. It seems like they were often confused about where they were, thus getting in my way, but nonetheless generally happy that the dollar is pathetic.


Before heading back to Long Island, we stopped at the JJ Hat Center, which Sean recommended, not too far from Penn Station. It looks like they only carry men's hats, but hats are hats and gender doesn't really matter. A nice, enthusiastic and hat-knowledgable man helped me out. I ended up with a beret, and am currently sitting on whether or not to get the Bowler/Derby hat. What kind of statement would one make by wearing such an ostentatious hat? There is one other hat store I'm eyeing, so we'll see about that on Monday.

Also, can I just say that 0% to 4.25% tax on clothes is insane? Why didn't I notice this before? It kind of doesn't make sense, but again--can't camplain (sic)!

To be continued.

Christmas '08


Above, I am wearing some Christmas presents (Nike pullover, Coach bag, Frye boots), and sitting in front of my dad's (32" Aquos with a functional remote control). Lately, I have been experimenting with the curling iron. I was aiming to look like Japanese women in their 20's, like Aoyama Thelma, but my hair is too short and I'm probably curling in the wrong direction. As a result, I get a 40's style, or old-lady-style hairdo, as my mom called it.

Later that day, we left Chicago for Long Island.


We flew directly east from Midway, so this is Chicago from a southern perspective. Chicago's grid is pretty awesome at night from this view.

Monday, December 22, 2008



My second cousins from Yokohama, Mitsutaka and Mai, just left today after visiting us for a week. They were real troopers, coming to Chicago in mid-December after visiting San Fransisco for a few days. When they arrived at our apartment, they started unleashing the omiyage, or gifts, from the motherland. Christmas and Hanukkah came early!!!

Apparently their father gets a lot of cosmetic samples, so they generously shared some of their fortune. With the exception of the Chanel lip palette, the above are all sample products. Clockwise from the top left: facial moisturizing masks, hair treatment oil (that I saw and eyed at Mitsuwa, incidentally), heating packs, sun block base, more heating packs, flowery-scented lotion-soaked cotton wipes, strawberry-honey lip cream, buttery lip cream, sheer "sakura pink" lip cream, and a shimmery facial powder that supposedly makes one more photogenic.


The Chanel lip palette was from their mother--this set is apparently only available in Asia. I played around with it today and got overly excited and applied all four colors to my lips.

They had an early flight today, so when we got home I just fell asleep in the heated table. I couldn't even play Animal Crossing. After I woke up, the living room immediately started to fall into a most disorderly state. Naturally.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Sebastien Tellier @ Schubas, 12/9/08


I don't know how people find out about weird musicians like Sebastien Tellier, but I discovered him through American Apparel. I guess one could have found out about him through Eurovision as the failed French entry last year, given the super catchy song, "Divine." Since American Apparel is openly obsessed with sex, I guess they allied with Sebastien Tellier to sell his latest CD, "Sexuality," in stores. The store and musician also came up with the "Sexuali-Tee," which is basically an oversized t-shirt made of slightly sheer viscose. The tag says machine washable, but there was a sticker on the shirt that said "Dry Clean Only." Not sure which to believe, I layer it with other shirts and go the dirty hipster route by not washing it at all.

Sebastien Tellier is a strange man. He was much older than I expected, had a saggy gut, and is losing the hair on his head. When he spoke in English, he had a strong French accent, so perfect I thought it was an act. Then I realized he's just being French. His in-between-song-talks were hilarious, though it wasn't clear if we were laughing because of his accent, his foreignness, his age, or because we found him to be inherently funny. But he talked about how fat his mom was; how Jesus was in him as he banged on the piano; how the holidays are about family family family; how he loves his water, by which he meant his wine; and he threw in a "thanks to Chicago for the bisexuals." He had some mid-song antics as well. Towards the end of "L'amour Et La Violence," he stopped playing the piano and continued to sing but while laying belly-down on the piano. He got intimate with the microphone for the encore, "Sexual Sportswear." It must be a lot easier to act this foolish at such an age when you can hide behind a full-blown beard + mustache, long wispy sweaty hair, and signature thick sunglasses.

Anyway, it was a fun, if bizarre, concert, and I'm very glad I went. The only photos I have are Nik's from his iPhone (above), since my camera is undergoing minor repair, and Mordecai classically forgot his at home after I told him to bring it and checked with him to make sure he had it and he said yes. The only proper photo I have is of myself in my Robin's Egg Blue Sexuali-Tee. I was mad no one else wore their Sexuali-Tees to the concert! I was expecting everyone to look like American Apparel models, but there were only tons of beards and normal people. And four French people in our corner taking pictures and recording the concert.


I've been wearing the Sexuali-Tee, which looks quite unremarkable in this photo, with a long-sleeved shirt underneath for warmth (and dirt protection). This post is also a means to show everyone my new fur vest. My inspiration comes from two sources--the most recent being the Beaver Man from the Turkey Testicle Festival, and the other being Rachel Zoe. I watched all her shows online, and started to realize that her excessive style is not necessarily a bad thing. However, I did not hunt down beavers or browse a vintage designer store, but I happened to come across this thing at Forever 21. It came with some stringy thing to tie around the waist, which I am not interested in using. It's very warm and the acrylic fur is surprisingly soft. It also protected me from looking like the ultimate nerd for wearing my Sebastien Tellier Sexuali-Tee shirt to the Sebastien Tellier concert. That's like wearing a Mariah Carey concert t-shirt to her concerts, something I have yet to cross off my "To Do List Before I Die."

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Oji Afternoon

It's looking like Oji isn't the brightest dog in recent years. I opened a bag of Cheetos and ate some, but he didn't hear or smell them from the distance. He doesn't understand doorbells and doesn't understand what guests are. I walked into the house the other day, and was basically standing behind him until he acknowledged my presence. Bad guard dog!

He's also pretty tolerant of shenanigans. My mom pets him with her feet, mushing his muzzle and face, and yesterday she claims she vacuumed his head and neck, the latter of which he seems to have enjoyed very much.

Today was a home alone day for him, but I had some time to let him out in the back yard and whatnot. He enjoys human company a lot, even if he has to settle for less than my dad. We hung out late this afternoon, though that mostly consisted of me sleeping off my small but persistent cold and him lying around waiting for my dad to come home.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

In Defense of Black Friday

I had no idea there are people out there who feel so strongly about Black Friday that they propose outlawing it, until I came across Phoebe's post (last bullet point). But Black Friday doesn't have to be about Wal-Mart (how come no one ever fusses about Target even though they are anti-union and lock you in their giant box store if you work overnight?), flat screen TVs (most on sale tend to be crimes against humanity anyway--what business does a light bulb company have making them?), being a part of a mob, or fighting over toys. As trite as it sounds, I think Black Friday is whatever you make of it. Some people abstain, some line up, some look at the line and end up at White Castle, some shop online, and some go in the afternoon when the Target and Best Buy parking lots are not as bad as they are on any given Sunday afternoon.

I'm guessing that those who are so appalled by Black Friday are horrified by the Wal-Mart story from Long Island (don't act like I don't know you, Nassau County!), or the Toys "R" Us (I wish I could type the backwards "R") incident in L.A., and by the general mobbish chaos displayed in news photos and video footage. This is a legitimate reason to be wary of Black Friday, and I sympathize with this concern. I've never seen Black Friday on bad behavior, but I witnessed some tragic human beings at the H&M x Comme des Garcons opening. No one was trampled or hurt, but in many ways it was traumatizing: when I left H&M that morning, I had to adjust back to reality. Outside of H&M, I kept remarking to myself how there weren't a million people in a small space, no overtly nasty people, no shoving or pushing, no running or jogging after clothes, and no hawkish monitoring of people bringing back clothes from dressing rooms. Every person I talked to afterwards, I wanted to say to them, "I saw H&M x CdG! It was nuts! Let me tell you about it!" but I figured that hardly anyone in the philosophy department knows what Comme des Garcons is, nor would care that they released a collaboration line at cheap-o H&M. Anyway, I imagine this is the kind of "being moved" that one might feel about Black Friday.

But that doesn't mean that Black Friday needs to be banned or regulated. The problem isn't about the retailers and the products for sale so much as it is about irrational people. So consumerism isn't the issue, it's what people let it do to them. Of course, not everyone will be lovely at "doorbuster" sales, so some basic assistance from the retailers will be necessary to calm these "special" people down. See Niketown or St. Alfred when they have popular shoe releases, and Target for Wii when it was harder to get. In these successful cases, retailers help consumers stay sane: they honor the line and let only a certain number of people in at a time. But this is merely a matter of organization and minimizing high population density. The real issue isn't about businesses or governments drawing the line between wanty and greedy, but about people determining where this line is drawn within themselves.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Black Weekend

Our contributions to rebuilding the U.S. economy

Yesterday, Target offered Mordecai a 750GB Western Digital external hard drive for $88.88, and "Gremlins" and "Batman Begins" for $3.99. Best Buy tried to get rid of sold Guns-N-Roses' new album, "Chinese Democracy," for $11.99, and we also got the special edition (as opposed to the mere widescreen edition) of "The Departed" for $6.99.

Today, the quest for bargains continued. American Eagle had these scratch-n-discount cards, so I got 20% off of a long sleeved t-shirt I'd been needing since I can no longer wear short sleeved t-shirts indoors without something over it. We then moved on to NYC Bagel Deli and ordered 4 bagels, but they gave us a giant bag of 18 bagels. I believe this had nothing to do with Black Friday/Saturday but was more about getting rid of soon-to-be-stale bagels before closing. Later, at Jo-Ann's, I got a bunch of fabric for 50% off (I plan to DIY American Apparel's circle scarf). And Microcenter had USB wireless keyboards for some discounted rebate thing, which may or may not be kept depending on online options. This was bought basically for Animal Crossing, so I don't have to use the Wiimote to "type" (pain in the ass) or move the sensor bar so that I can continue to lie down and play. Which inevitably leads to falling asleep, but there is nothing better than an Animal Crossing-induced slumber.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Turkey Testicle Festival

For "Thanksgiving Eve," we went out the 26th Annual Turkey Testicle Festival in Huntley, Illinois. I was imagining a dimly lit bar, low attendance, and strange antics, but it turned out to be well-attended by a wide range of people (well, in ages at least, since I could count the number of minorities on my hands), at least one decent cover band, testicular jokes and general immaturity kept to a minimum, and a live turkey!

We shared a cup of deep fried turkey testicles. It didn't taste bad--it was like fried chicken nuggets, with almost a spongy kind of texture. If you don't think about it too much, it's totally edible, but I overthought it and couldn't get past a bite per nut.

This giant man stuck out among the crowd--that vest! He was getting some beer near us and Nik asked him if he hunted the animal for its fur himself. The man started talking about beavers being unable to chomp on wood because trees are getting cut down, so their teeth overgrow. His point seemed to be that there are a lot of beavers out there who are unable to live a meaningful beaver life if their teeth don't function properly, so they are trapped and made into properly lined fur vests with deer hoof buttons and an interior pocket for flasks. Properly justified or not, the vest was undeniably remarkable. It was soft; I touched it when he wasn't looking.

Apparently there was some bet that had to do with when the turkey was going relieve itself where, or something like that, but we missed out on that event. For some reason it was facing a crate full of live ducks (?) and it was guarded by a turkey-like lady. I wanted to show how the turkey was huge, but the lady isn't helping. Please refer to the litter on the ground for proper scale.

I was satisfied with our trip after getting the picture of the vest-man and seeing the turkey. We convinced Nik that there was no point in getting trashed in Huntley when we needed to return to Chicago, and that there was no more reason to be there since a crappy cover band took over the stage. I bought everyone Lion Bars at Meijer (and picked up other things along the way and used their clean, non-port-o-potty bathroom) and pushed Nik around, who was thisclose to vomiting.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Animal Crossing: City Folk

Following in the footsteps of Joe, I will post random pictures and comments about the new Animal Crossing.

Mordecai and I went out of our way to secure it last Saturday night at Meijer out in Rolling Meadows. Meijer is open 24 hours, and they released it at midnight. There were some other kids waiting for the game man to deliver the goods, but they didn't really look like Animal Crossing types. I thought this one young girl who ran up to the games was going to be aboard our ship, but she ran past the Wii games and pointed gleefully at Imagine: Fashion Designer. Our ship turned out to be kind of lonely. At least I got a few Lion bars out of the trip as an added bonus.

Starting (or re-starting) a game is always kind of difficult. I hate working part-time for Tom Nook again, and this house is just tragic. Not having millions of bells at my disposal is difficult. I originally had the nasty haircut (the tri-ponytail), and this mint gingham check shirt is boring. But I was able to acquire some items from the city to spice things up--check out that trench and the bunny balloon! Notice that I also learned to keep my Nook shirt.

The trench is for gloomy British-like days; I needed an everyday outfit. Gracie's Grace featured the tuxedo and this white R. Kelly-Zorro-like mask, so I fished enough crap to acquire the bells necessary. I also got my shoes "shined," which doesn't necessarily mean adding sparkle to the boring red shoes. You can get new shoes! Nevermind the house; must look good!

Initially I didn't understand the simplicity of the picture-taking feature, so I was sitting in front of the TV with my camera. But today I started snapping photos within the game. Is mushroom picking seasonal!? You can eat them!

I've been stingy with my fossils and fish. It's so sad to see Blathers sad, but I want money more than I want to help him with his museum. I bought a Basic Painting from Redd today but it turned out it was fake. Damn!

Who is that character immortalized in the fountain? Is there a sad story behind it?

Friday, November 21, 2008


Meet Oji. He is the new addition to my parents' household, a 4-or-5 year old Akita rescued from Michigan via MARS. He's still new to everything, but is very gentle and trusting. His name translates to "prince" in Japanese, and is also close enough to the Japanese pronunciation of "Ozzie," his previous name. "Oji" also sounds to me like "O.G.," but he is hardly an original gangster--for instance, he is attached to my dad, can't sleep alone, and doesn't seem to understand the concept of playing with toys (sad!). But who knows, maybe he will start regulating Logan Square soon enough.

When Yuki passed away last March, I was really cynical about pet-ownership. I was even thinking of things to say to my future child about how owning a pet is ultimately bad. But time has made things slightly more bearable. I think Oji is incredibly needy and possibly overly trusty of people, so he's a good fit for my parents, who tend to be overly give-y. This is to say that among other borderline-crazy things that will happen, he will be fed organic chicken while they eat non-organic chicken.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Comme des Garcons for H&M

Early this morning I went to H&M to check out the Comme des Garcons collection. Basically, it was madness! I don't know whether to be impressed by the experience or embarassed by passively participating.

I left with no clothes, a bad taste in my mouth, my dignity intact, and the delusional-but-sweet feeling that I was refunded $180. I should've done my homework--of course Chicago would be overstocked with the tops, which range from tiny to enormous, but with none of the items that were probably only made in small sizes. Apparently there were only 6 of those $349 dresses, 5 of which were at 5th Ave in NYC, and 1 in San Fransisco. There were also no tux jackets in Chicago, and there were a total of 5 skirts on the floor. I saw two of them, one on a mannequin and one hanging high above on a weird cage apparatus. I don't even know where the other three were originally placed on the floor. It would've helped to know where things were on the floor; otherwise you just wander in, disoriented by pure chaos.

Everything else was incredibly mediocre and uninspiring, so it was especially surreal to see all these people get bestial. Most people were pretty decent, but there were some remarkably offensive characters. Both men and women were going for the "drop crotch" pants, which I don't understand. The $199 trench coats were coming back from the fitting rooms, and I felt one--so thin! A lady who was behind me in line got a deconstructed jacket (I only saw two of those) and let me feel it--so thin! I tried on one of the simple blazers, thinking it might be a sufficient replacement for the tux jacket--so thin! So boring! I looked like I was getting dressed to go to the accounting job I've had for 30 years. Maybe it's better that I don't even see the tux blazer or feel the skirt, because it'd be so disappointing.

But it was an interesting social experience. I recognized the tiny 12 year old Tavi, whose blog I sometimes read (she ditched her morning classes but not the social studies test--hehe, remember "social studies"?), and there were other bloggers taking notes and pictures. I talked to "The Sassy Peach," who has an inadvertent picture of me and quotes me in her post about today. (She was in fact not sassy, but perfectly peachy.) A number of women had apparently done this before, and register totals for a bag full of items were non-issues. I felt like some of them could just get, or have, real Comme des Garcons items. I'm sure there were resellers in there too, but they're harder to pinpoint. I was essentially left wanting to revisit the Comme des Garcons store in Tokyo and disappointed that "democraticizing" high end fashion via H&M is not giving opportunities to the masses, but really just letting the mob take over. I am looking forward to Old Orchard this weekend for some normalcy, where I will go "thinking" I have an extra $180 to dispense. Surely Mordecai will bring me back to reality, for better or for worse.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Prerequisite information: This was drawn right around the time that McDonald's Southern Style Chicken debuted. Also, buns matter.


Prerequisite information: These comics by Mordecai are half a year old, so the topics are a bit démodé. Most will probably not recall this video from the inna netz last spring, where Jermaine Dupri expressed frustration with a Danja/Usher double-cover issue of Billboard Magazine.

I hope the writing is clear enough; click to enlarge!


Who knew my tissue box holder would be a warm hat?
Or that one day I would get to wear the sunglasses my mother always wore when I was a child?

I am wondering if I should go to H&M tomorrow to check out their "Comme des Garcons for H&M" line. I don't really like my clothes to be "deconstructed" but the pleated skirt and the tuxedo jacket look like winners!

It's unclear to me how crazy these waiting lines get, and if it depends on which H&M you go to. Ours on Michigan Avenue is the only one not in New York or California where the clothes will be available. That sounds potentially scary. I don't have any commitments until 11AM tomorrow though, so maybe I'll just check the scene out even if I can't touch any of the clothes.

Sunday, November 09, 2008


I have been tagged by Richard to fill out this "Proust Survey." I'm not sure why it's called that, so I'm going to dub this the "Choi Survey" and put up a picture of a pensive Richard (he has one of a pensive Proust).

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Lack of self-awareness; pretension without good reason(s)

Where would you like to live?
Chicago and Yokohama. In another life, I'd like to live in L.A. This curiosity is completely spurred on by "The Hills" and most recently, "The Rachel Zoe Project."

What is your idea of earthly happiness?
To be surrounded by the people and things I love and to be free of imposed schedules. Splitting my life between Chicago and Yokohama at will!

To what faults do you feel most indulgent?
Wasting time online; sweets; shopping; being spoiled; elitism

Who are your favorite heroes of fiction?
Nakata of Murakami's Kafka on the Shore; Sensei of Soseki's Kokoro; Humbert Humbert of Lolita; Phoenix Wright and Godot from the "Ace Attorney" series

Who are your favorite characters in history?
David Hume

Who are your favorite heroes/heroines in real life? (I added "heroes.")
My lung doctor, Dr. Vigneswaran


(Not me)

Who are your favorite heroines of fiction?
Josée (the protagonist) of the movie, "Joze to Tora to Sakanatachi"; Carla Jean Moss of "No Country for Old Men"

Your favorite painter?
I don't have a favorite painter. My favorite artist is MY DAD.

Your favorite musician?
Mariah Carey, Amuro Namie, Michael Jackson, New Order, Ohtaki Eiichi

The quality you most admire in a man?
Good sense of humor, empathy, consistency

The quality you most admire in a woman?
Good sense of humor, empathy, consistency

Your favorite virtue?

Your favorite occupation?

Who would you have liked to be?
A cat or a Buddhist monk

Jenni sometimes responds to these things within the comments to the relevant post, which is more inclusive for those who don't have their own blogs. Responses in any form are invited!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Friday afternoon

Train neighbor in need of a new hat. Or a haircut, in which case the surviving dots of the snapback might be reached?

Public square Christmas tree secrets revealed.

Lunch at Shalom Deli, owned by an elderly Japanese couple.

One more grocery item

I love the eyes. And fruit snacks in general.

Friday, November 07, 2008

For Joe

I can never remember Joe's hierarchy of dessert companies, but I feel that Little Debbie must be in there somewhere above mediocre. I'm not sure if this particular koala counts as above endearing for him, but Miss Debbie and Marcos Ambrose certainly did their best.

(Mordo's in the background checking out corn meal mush in a tube.)

Late night grocery run

Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween '08

Our pumpkin has evolved from last year.

We got our Christmas tree from this nomadic-ish guy at California and Diversey last winter, so I was excited that the same guy was selling pumpkins. I like to support his overpriced but seemingly authentic business.

Mordecai built in some nostrils and one fang with his manly power tools. Notice how the nostrils and fang are like mine--two dots, sharp.

It is on display in our window for people entering our building to see. It is not nearly as elaborate or conceptual as Jenni's though. Everyone should check that out!

Happy Halloween!

Heart Blister

I burned my finger on the oven rack, and the blister took a shape of a heart. Aww?

Thursday, October 30, 2008