oil on paper
(click for larger picture)

I haven't been posting my recent paintings, but I have a few in the works.  This one is a quick, small oil sketch over an advertisment for wedding services.


This is a nice sambal (chili sauce used in Malay and Indonesian food) that I've come up with.  Use it as a dipping sauce for fried tofu, a salad dressing good with cabbage and thai eggplants, a fish marinate, or as a sauce for BBQ, churrasco or roast pork.


you'll need
ten green chilies, whole
five shallots
five garlic cloves
juice of two limes, one teaspoon reserved
about two teaspoons shrimp paste
scant teaspoon ginger julienne
about a tablespoon of peanut, coconut or canola oil
pinch of turmeric
pinch of salt

set aside to blend
one tablespoon white vinegar
reserved lime juice
two stalks of thai basil (around 10 leaves)
half as much peppermint leaves

Using a mortar and pestle, crush chilies, shallots and garlic roughly.  Fry all three in oil on low heat until flavor is released and shallots and garlic start to brown.  Add lime juice, shrimp paste, turmeric and salt and cook together for one to two minutes.  Set aside to cool.

Once cool, Add mixture along with ingredients to blend (if you'd prefer a chunker sambal, you may used a mortar and pestle) Blend until combined and a paste is formed.  Will store in refrigerator for a week.


杜拉拉升职记 Go Lala go!
(Where exactly is she going?)

(NOTE: This film is already months old, but I'd like to add an English review where none exists)

Lala, a recent graduate, sends out her resume sitting in her over-sized, over-decorated apartment and then timidly hunts down an office in Beijing's financial district for an interview with her somehow naive ponytail and white nurse shoes. She gets the job, and starts bottom rung in an indistinct foreign run company, scraping by using her charm, food rationing skills and perceived business savvy to slowly climb the ranks, eventually having a relationship with her higher up, procuring the requisite car and apartment and traveling to a cardboard version of Thailand for company vacations along with whatever else you're supposed to do with money in contemporary China, including becoming jaded with it.

Go Lala go! is directed by the very popular Xu Jinglei (徐静蕾), who also stars in the role at Lala. To say this is a vanity project would be to state the obvious, and critizing it as such is also meaningless. It features every possible A list celebrity from the Chinese speaking world as well as two zombified American bosses, played by Caucasian actors whose only purpose is to speak Mandarin. (something Chinese absolutely fetishize.) Characters operate in a sanitized, absolutely false version of Beijing, set entirely amongst plastic skyscrapers and shiny malls, offensive considering the real poverty and distinctive local culture so noticeable in this city. (Regardless, movies are about escapism and so it does this well.) It's safe to say the film has absolutely nothing new to say about anything, but the film itself isn't important; it's the tone and persevered message.

There is not a single film that more encapsulates the attitudes of Beijing's new middle class or anyone wishing to join their ranks more completely than this movie. "Rags to riches" this certainly is. It illustrates the drive and desire to "make it" in a way that we no longer portray with a straight face in Western movies, and equates material/financial stability with a strong desire to achieve, but also a kind of moral superiority. The fact that this film spawned counterfeit "Lala" movies is the proverbial cherry on top, making it a pitch perfect critique of China's mindless, "wild west," uncreative, unchecked growth.

Swirling martial arts epics have as much to do with China today as Merchant Ivory films have to do with contemporary England. Go Lala go! is about as ugly and accurate as possible.


[Hu Jin's (胡晋) tiny, but arresting, blue tiger cub.  Part of an altogether kitschy collection of tiger-themed Chinese ink painting.]

Today Ariel and I saw a rather great collection of Czech sculpture from the sixties to the eighties at the National Art Museum of China, along with a few not so great Soviet Realist oil paintings, redeemable only for that dramatic grotesqueness that can be interesting.

Some highlights include Jiri Kolar's "egg object," which is a collaged egg with three circular panels each covered with cut out flowers and bird's plumage, all with the technicolor look of 50s "Life" magazines, and Eva Kmentova's "plants:" an evocative watercolor of hand shapes with multiple sprouting fingers.