Saturday, November 16, 2013

Piano Shoes Designed By Alicia Keys

Side view

Back View

   I first found out about these awesome piano shoes when my sister told me that she saw them on display in front of the Reebok store at the mall a few months ago. At first impression, I thought the front part looked a bit awkward but the back part with an image of the piano keyboard looked really unique and trendy. When I tried them on, I realized that the front part did not look that awkward after all. It's hard to tell if anything looks good unless you try them on; as a result, I have tried them on and it does fit and look good on me. The store did not have my size but I was able to find the correct size online at I actually got them on sale for $29.99 on Amazon compared to the ones at the Reebok store which cost $39.99. These shoes are definitely a must-buy if you are a piano lover like me. :)

My first trophy

Victory!!! <3
I have never felt so victorious in my life before until a week ago when I won my first trophy from taking part in a table tennis tournament at my school. Thanks to my schoolmate--who invited me to be his partner for the Mixed Doubles--for giving me this opportunity. We ended up winning a third place trophy but I thought we could've done better if we had practiced beforehand but my partner canceled our practice appointment at the last minute so we did not have any time to prepare for the game. Despite that, we still did pretty well. Most importantly, I had a lot of fun because I got to play with people of different levels and also with my tennis table teacher who remembered me really well. :)  By the time I got my hands on the trophy, it felt like I had won the lottery. Therefore, I have to give myself a pat on the back for setting such a great milestone. This is a good way to end the school year with since I will be graduating in one month. The thing I'm going to miss the most from school is my table tennis class and the people I have met in that class. I actually did not realize how much I missed playing table tennis at school until the end of the tournament when I did not feel like leaving. *cries* I wonder if I will have the opportunity to come back after graduation to take part in future tournaments again. If so, then I will come back next time prepared with my goal of winning first or second place.    

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Pianists I came to admire

Ever since I started learning the piano, I began to learn about the world's most renowned pianists. The first pianist I came to admire is Lang Lang, a pianist from mainland China who is also popular in other countries. He is the fastest piano player I have ever seen. I admire the classical music he plays especially his "Nocturne" covers. The first time I saw him was on the Mnet awards.. He had also cooperated with Jay Chou by appearing in his music video, "Dreams Start".

Look at those piano fingers!!

Another renowned pianist from mainland China is Li Yundi. I liked how he plays the piano with a lot of emotions which can be seen on the expressions on his face during his performances. Like Lang Lang, Li Yundi had also cooperated with Jay Chou on the same stage in the past and I think they make a really good partner. Hope to see them cooperating again soon!

Li Yundi

The PianoGuys is a American music group which consists of several musicians but mostly, they only have two people---one playing the piano (Jon Schmidt) and the other playing a cello (Steven Sharp Nelson) ---in their music videos. The first music video I saw from them is their cover of One Direction's "What Makes You Beautiful" which shows 5 guys hitting, rubbing, and banging on various parts of the piano to accompany the piano guy, Jon Schmidt. This is pretty cool because it's the first time I have ever seen something like that. Their other music videos are done very beautifully and filmed at interesting locations with unique elements and background. 

Yiruma, a renowned pianist from South Korea, is another pianist who I also became fond of. His music, "River Flows In You" and "Kiss the Rain" are both really popular that they have been used in a lot of Chinese dramas. I have heard "Kiss the Rain" for the first time a few years back when I was watching a TVB drama so every time I hear it, memories of watching TVB dramas would come up in my mind. "River Flows in You" is a really beautiful and melancholy music which I want to learn how to play later on. 


Saturday, August 31, 2013

My First Bollywood Movie

       I saw my first Bollywood film entitled "Bhagg Milkha Bhagg" with my friend, Martha, and her friend Daisy, who are both from El Salvador. I had no idea that Bollywood movies are that popular in the United States until I walked into the auditorium to realize that most of the seats are already taken. We arrived 30 minutes late so we had to sit at the front on the second roll which was too close but regardless, we could see the screen really well. The movie is based on a true story about a really successful Indian track-and-field runner, Milkha Singh. I was really inspired by the story because the message behind it is that hard work and dedication is the most important when you want to accomplish something in life. In the movie, Milka Singh started out as a poor kid who had to steal to make a living. Later, due to his ability to run really fast, he got recruited onto the Indian track-and-field team. Then he enters the Olympics and encountered some setbacks---losing the first race--- but despite this problem, he was able to get back up by training day and night until he became confident that he will win in the next race. As a result, all his hard work and effort paid off, which helped him to become the most famous Indian track-and-field runner at that time. After watching this movie, it inspired me even more to dedicate my time to the piano so that I can accomplish my goal of playing proficiently. 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Update on Piano Lessons

Nice pic, eh?
 After taking time off piano lessons for 5 months (from January to May) due to school, I was able to  resume these lessons during the beginning of June. The good news is that I have recently upgraded to Level 4. Now that I'm currently on summer vacation, this means I have more time to practice on the piano. 2 more levels to go until I can be able to play effectively. Now looking at piano sheet music gives me less of a headache compared to when I first learned the piano since I am able to read most of the signs/symbols. From the last lesson, my teacher introduced me to the arpeggiated chords where the lowest note had to be played first followed by adding the next higher notes one at a time until the chord is complete.

Learning a classical music is a must when playing the piano. During my leisure time, I have tried playing some classical music and one of them I was able to play decently is the simplified version of Frederick Chopin's "Nocturne".  As a beginner, it took me quite a while to memorize all the keys and try to play as smoothly as possible. The most frustrating part was trying to get the timing right but after much practice, I was able to get the hang of it. I have to admit that learning a new instrument is difficult and requires a lot of time and commitment but perseverance is the key to success. Since I have already started, I won't give up when I run into difficulties because if I do, then all my efforts would be wasted. My piano teacher told me that a lot of people have given up by the time they have reached levels 5 and 6 because they find it too difficult to handle but I promise myself that I would not be like them. As long as I'm committed to the piano, difficulties will not be a factor for me. 

To end today's post, here is a video I have recorded of myself playing the simplified version of Chopin's "Nocturne":


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Jay Chou's 2nd self-directed and self-acted movie, "The Rooftop"!

"The Rooftop" pose is a combination of martial arts and dance

For the past few weeks, I have been keeping track of the latest news from Jay Chou's upcoming movie, "The Rooftop" which will be released in Asia on 7/11/13 and in North America only in selected theaters on 7/19/13. I'm so excited because the movie will be shown at a theater near my area. Also, it will be shown at the New York International Asian Film Festival which will be a great opportunity for Jay to promote his movie to international audiences and to get more people to know about him in America. "The Rooftop" is actually Jay's 2nd self-directed and self-acted movie since the release of "Secret"  6 years ago. "The Rooftop" is about a love story between a poor, young man named Lang Zi Gao (Jay Chou) who lives on the rooftop and Li Xin Ai (herself)  who belongs to the wealthy class and lives below the rooftop. Both of them face many hardships trying to be together because of the differences between the two classes. Basically, this movie shows the differences between the people living on the rooftop who lives a normal and carefree life and the bourgeois class who lives more of a complicated life surrounded by money and fame. The setting takes place during the 1980s', which is Jay's favorite time period. Something unique about this movie is that it will have some musical scenes inspired by India's Bollywood; this will be Jay's attempt in introducing a Chinese-style musical film to international audiences. All the genres you want to watch is incorporated in this movie: romance, musical, action, comedy, drama, etc. I cannot wait to watch this movie and definitely looking forward to it! :D Here is the link to the awesome trailer of "The Rooftop"!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Karaoke: A First For Me

Something new I have tried was going to a karaoke place for the very first time. I went with my sister and 2 of my former accounting classmates. Since karaoke is a popular activity among Asians, the karaoke places are usually located in areas with high Asian population. There are barely any Karaoke places near my area so we had to travel down to the city of Cupertino. The place was "Arirang Music Studio", a karaoke bar operated by a Korean. I'm glad that they have Chinese music but those songs are quite outdated but the English and Korean songs are updated. I was only able to find about 6 or 7 of Jay Chou's older songs in the selection booklet. I sang 3 of his songs, "Cute Girl", "Simple Love", and "Can't Open Mouth" and was able to receive scores in the 90s range with 97 being the highest for "Can't Open Mouth". The song I really enjoyed singing the most was "Simple Love" where I couldn't help but got up to dance along to the opening part. Since it was my first time singing in public and not an experienced singer, I was really happy to receive high scores and had a really great time. However, I wasn't used to singing American music because I barely listen to them so I wasn't quite familiar with how the rhythm and beat goes. Each American song I sang placed me in the 80s range. This means I need to practice singing American songs more.

However, it was quite expensive with the price starting at $30 USD per hour for a small room. We ended up spending 1 and 1/2 hours there so the total price went up to be $45 USD. I'm thinking of investing in a karaoke machine someday so that I can build up my vocal skills and it's better than going to a karaoke bar. As seen in the dramas, people in Asia do go to karaoke often which is a really fun thing to do. I think one of the first things I would do when I move to Asia is to go karaoking first. In fact, my favorite singer, Jay Chou has opened up his own karaoke place in Xi An, China called "True Love Fantasy" where customers can sing his songs and remember his name in the foreseeable future.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Movies about Table Tennis (Ping Pong)

After taking ping-pong for 2 semesters at San Jose State University, I have to admit that I fell deeply in love with the sports. Now that the classes are over, I realized that I miss playing it with my classmates. I don't really have friends that are into ping pong; most of them are into badminton. I wish I could join the table tennis club at school but I'm not able to attend the meetings because my dad expects me to come straight home after school. I have a table at home but no one in my family would play it with me due to lack of interest. Thus, sometimes I would play it alone but it's more fun if I get to play it with someone. Sometimes I wish I live in Asia because the sports is popular there especially in China so I could always find someone who is likely to play it with me.
Anyways, in today's post, I would like to share some of the movies I have watched about ping pong. After some research, I found out there are a few movies about table tennis. These movies include: "Ping Pong Playa" (Chinese-American), "As One" (Korean), "Balls of Fury"(American), "Ping Pong" (Japanese) and an anime series, "The Ping Pong Club".

The first one I watched was "Ping Pong Playa", a sports and comedy film written and directed by a Chinese-American. Actually, this is a really funny movie about Chinese stereotypes such as how Chinese are only good at table tennis and how Chinese are bad drivers. Jimmy Tsai, a Chinese-American actor, plays the main character, Christopher Wang, who is only obsessed with basketball and held the dream of becoming the first Asian American to enter the NBA (this was before Jeremy Lin entered the NBA). However, he never accomplished that dream because he wasn't as good as his black counterparts so he blamed himself for his genetics. Basically, his whole family's life revolves around ping pong; his dad owns a store selling ping pong stuff, his mom teaches ping pong classes, and his brother, Michael, is the championship of table tennis. However, later when Christopher's mom and his brother got into a car accident, Christopher is forced to take over in teaching his mom's table tennis classes and also to enter the table tennis championship on behalf of his brother. Overall, this movie is worth the watch because it's full of humor and makes table tennis fun to watch. Two thumbs up for me!

Another movie I watched that was about ping pong was the Korean movie, "As One" starring Ha Ji Won and Bae Doona. I liked how the movie is based on a true story in which North Korea and South Korea united for the 1991 table tennis World Championship in Chiba, Japan where they won gold, thus defeating China for the very first time. Ha Ji Won plays the role of the South Korean team captain, Hyun Jung-Hwa, who had to team up with North Korea's Ri Bun-Hui (played by Bae Doona) for the doubles competition to defeat their rivalry, China. It was quite a touching story where friendships were formed between the North and South table tennis players but they were forced to be separated after the championship because close relationships between the 2 countries were strictly forbidden. I am glad that Korea was able to film this story with such a painful history. Overall, another two thumbs up for great acting, great plot, and great story!

Here is a still from the movie. On the left is Ha Ji Won and on the right is Bae Doona:

Here's the real Hyun Jung-Hwa and the Ri Bun-Hui who defeated China at the 1991 World Championship in Chiba, Japan:

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Learning how to bike at the age of 22

I have always been much of a squeamish person, avoid doing things that I feel will become a threat to my body. But slowly, I am trying to overcome my fears by trying to expose myself to them more frequently and learning how to manage those fears. In fact, about a month ago, I have conquered my fear of biking, which I was hesitant to learn at first for fear of falling off the bike and hurting myself but the good news is that I ended up learning how to bike. If I have never gotten on the bike that day, then I might have never experienced that feeling of accomplishment. Most people would take up to days or even weeks to finally be able to bike on their own but surprisingly, it actually took me about 15 minutes to finally get the hang of it--balance is the key to success in biking. I also want to say thanks to two of my accounting classmates and friends who have taught me how to bike and provided me with words of encouragement. Without their encouragement, I probably wouldn't have that much courage that day. Although I have fell down once, I have actually learned and gained alot from that because I will try not to make the same mistake next time. Thus, the saying, "No pain, no gain" is very true.

Since there was only 3 of us with only 2 bikes, we had to take turns on the bike while only person had to walk. Thus, we spent about 4 hours taking turns biking all the way from San Jose to Mountain View and then another 4 hours biking back the way we came from. It was a very tiring day with sores, injuries and a red, sunburnt nose but nonetheless, I had a really great time. Also, my legs tire out pretty quick because I wasn't used to biking so I had to stop and rest a bunch of times. This reminds me that I need to get rid of my lazy, sedentary lifestyle and try to do more exercise in order to become more fit.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

My First Book Signing: Jenny Lawson, the Bloggess

A few weeks ago, I had my first booksigning at Barnes and Nobles with Jenny Lawson, the New York Times bestselling author of the memoir, "Let's Pretend This Never Happened". Jenny Lawson is actually well known for her blog which she updates constantly with alot of followers. You can check out her blog at:

Here is a little description of her book:

In her memoir, Jenny thinks that everyone should try to find humor in life because it is one of the sources contributing to our happiness. For most of her life, she has been suffering from a number of issues such as  anxiety, depression, OCD, and mental illness. Despite these problems, she was able to reclaim her life by attending therapy and finding the things that have the tendency to bring her joy such as collecting preserved animals and writing a blog. It was hilarious when I read about the part where she wrote about her taxidermy father who used to collect dead animals' skin to make something out of them such as a hand puppet. The definition of taxidermy is the art of preserving the skins of animals and of stuffing and mounting them in lifelike form. Due to influence from her father, Jenny learned to appreciate preserved animals and so she decided to follow in his footsteps by collecting every taxidermy item she could get her hands on which includes preserved mices, rats, lizards, cats, etc. The funniest thing is that she likes to dress them up just to make them look pretty. On the cover of her book, you can see the preserved mice she has dressed up with a cape. People may think she is weird for doing so but this sort of activity is the source of humor and happiness she found in her life.  I'm really glad to know that doing all these things have helped her get through life easily. 

My experience:

30 minutes before the event started, Jenny Lawson's fans have already occupied all the chairs the staff at Barnes and Nobles provided. They really underestimated the size of the fanbase because there were  less than 10 chairs at first but when more and more fans started to show up, they had to add more chairs. However, there wasn't enough chairs for everyone so most of them had to stand including me because by the time I arrived, all the seats were already taken. When the event started, Lawson read a chapter from her book and then shared a really touching story on how she had been suffering from extreme anxiety disorder that it was difficult to be in the crowd or even to engage in conversations with strangers. She was so shy that she didn't want to talk to anyone and the only way she could express herself was by writing and blogging. Today, although we are unable to tell, she is actually still feeling a little anxious when presenting in front of us. She also mentioned how she is now leading more of a positive life compared to the past because she is slowly breaking out of her shell with the constant battle against anxiety. In the end, she taught me that living life to the fullest is a top priority even if there are issues that are preventing you from doing so.  I also appreciate the fact that she was able to write about her personal issues with a smile and laugh because not much people are strong enough to do that without having the urge to burst into tears.  I remembered my first impression of her when she walked in was a really positive person with a beautiful smile. After the reading, she signed books for all of her fans and then we got to take a picture with her. An emotional moment occured when the person first in line cried because her dream came true after having the opportunity to meet her favorite author. Here's my picture I took with Jenny Lawson:

Final thoughts:

This is probably not a book to be reading in public because it will definitely make you laugh out loud to the point of snorting. In fact, the purpose of the book is to make her readers happy by making them laugh. Also, it's to let the people who are suffering from anxiety and depression know that they're not alone. In her writing, Lawson uses alot of profanity so do not read if you get offended by curse words easily. For me, I am totally ok with the swearing because I'm not made of glass and will not break if I heard or read the "F" word.  Anyways, I think this book is definitely recommended to the people who have a great sense of humor or have the habit of laughing even for no reasons. :)

Monday, March 25, 2013

Fresh Off the Boat: A Memoir by Eddie Huang

The title of this book, "Fresh Off the Boat" caught my eye while I was browsing through the shelves at the front of Barnes and Noble a few weeks ago. Call me weird but I'm currently in love with the term, fresh off the boat (FOB). If you are not sure what FOB stands for, it's a term used to refer to someone who just migrated to the United States from another country but have not yet assimiliated to the host nation's custom such as culture, language, and behavior. Another thing about the book that was eye-catching was the color of the cover, pink, which is my favorite color. Kudos to the author, Eddie Huang, for coming up with such an attractive cover

 Anyways, this book is a memoir written by a Taiwanese American named Eddie Huang who is the current proprietor of Baohaus, a Chinese restaurant that specializes in selling Taiwanese-style steamed buns such as xiao long bao, char siu bao (BBQ pork puns), and many more. Eddie grew up in America and was raised by a family of FOBs from Taiwan and China. Growing up, he was always trying to fit into the American culture. Although he was born and raised in America, he felt like he didn't really belong there because of the discrimination he faced from his peers. People tell him that his face will not get him anywhere in the States. However, despite these discriminations, he is able to prove to America that he does belong by burning his way into the American culture by doing the things that gave him a feeling of belonging: taking interest in football/basketball,  designing streetwear, and idolizing the rapper, Tupac. When he grew up, Eddie learned from his past and took into account the values his parents instilled in him about working hard and being capable. Therefore, he studied hard in school and earned his way into law school, where he received his bachelor's degree, making his father proud. However, he later found out that lawyer was not his thing after he realizes that Chinese food is his true passion. Thanks to the influence from his mom's cooking, his dad's restaurants and encouragement from various Food Network channels, Eddie has successfully opened his own restaurant with a combination of his love for hip-hop and food. The restaurant is called Baohaus; some of his famous dishes include pillowy steamed buns filled with a flavorful protein of choice, cilantro, crushed peanuts and Taiwanese red bean paste, and sweet bao fries. The menu also includes Jeremy Lin Bao! Sounds very yummy, eh? If you are interested in trying some of Eddie's signature steam buns, the place is currently located at 238 East 14th Street in East Village in New York CityCheck out the restaurant's website for more info:

Eddie writes a food blog and constantly posts videos on his website which is mostly about food and his identity. You can check out his blog at: 

 My thoughts on this book: I really enjoyed reading Eddie's memoir because I found him to be a really fascinating person. His experiences have proved that anyone can transform their life with hard work and education. Eddie also introduced me to various Taiwanese foods such as soup dumplings and also the Taiwanese Dan-Dan Mian which is a spicy noodle with peppers, onions, and pork. The writing style of this book is also very interesting because it's written in a hip-hop voice with a combination of Chinese. However, readers should be forewarned because of the street language that some may find awkward and hard to understand. Nevertheless, I really recommend "Fresh Off the Boat" and wish Eddie continued success in his restaurant, his book, and his blog. :)

Saturday, February 2, 2013

My favorite sports: Table Tennis

Growing up, I have never really been fond of any kinds of sports until I learned how to play ping-pong also known as table tennis at school two summers ago. I have tried playing badminton in the past but it doesn't really appeal to me as much as table tennis which is probably due to the reason that badminton is too simple for my liking. Before enrolling in the beginner's level table tennis class, I had played the sports with my dad at home who had previous experience and I have always lost to him. With no previous experience myself, I didn't know how to serve nor use the paddle the correct way. However, after taking the class, I learned alot of the basic techniques such as serving, slicing, and slamming with both forehand and backhand positions. Now, I'm able to beat my dad who used to go a bit easy on me before but now he doesn't have to do that anymore. This semester, I'm currently enrolled  in Intermediate Level of table tennis which is a great PE class to end the year with. Many of my classmates say that I play really well especially using the forehand position but I still have troubles with the backhand position. But practice makes improvement! For the next class, we are going to play the singles tournament which is going to be very fun and of course, tiring since the class is going to be 2 hours long. Someday, I want to challenge my Vietnamese next-door neighbor to a game because they also love playng table table as well. Last summer, I heard them playing almost everyday with alot of ping pong balls flying over to my backyard which my dog has collected.