Breaking News: You Love MSG

I have a piece posted in Open City, the Asian American Writers’ Workshop online magazine dedicated to all things culturey and New Yorky. It’s an open letter–Surprise!–to MSG, which is your favorite flavor-enhancing food additive. It’s my favorite flavor-enhancer too! Look how much we have in common! This is why we’re friends.

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If you want to know what my favorite MSG-laced snacks are (because obviously you do), I’ve listed them, just like Buzzfeed, except not like Buzzfeed because there are no images of “cats who just can’t right now” or quizzes about who your 90s celebrity soulmate is based on what cheesecake you like best. I hate cheesecake, which is strange because I love cheese.

So these are the greatest ways to get flavor into your bellyspace:

1. Doritos. Because Doritos.
2. Chex Mix. Which has 60% less fat than potato chips, but 120% more flavor.
3. Tomato Pretz. Does not taste like tomato. (And Salad Pretz also does not taste like salad.)
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4. Nori Maki Arare. Leaves a horrible aftertaste, which is why you have to keep eating them forever.
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5. Vegetable dumplings/wontons/gyoza/mandu/flavorbags/Asian hot pockets. The frozen ones are loaded with gourmet powder. The ones I buy are “green vegetable” flavor.

And here is a picture of a cat who just can’t right now.

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She’s on my backpack.

A Collection of Scary Things

May I present to you a collection of scary things scraped from the Internet (though they are not as scary as the Internet can get). I hope you like The Three Stooges because now they are going to haunt you forever. Please enjoy!

True story: Once I bought all this…lady stuff…from Duane Reade. You know what I’m talking about. I’m talking about tampons. Because I am an adult lady who does adult lady things. I feel that we can just talk openly about this because, come on, this is not some kind of secret. People will tell you they went to India and shat out of their eyes, but if you get your period you are supposed to be all coy about it. Like tee hee, I’m doing “the lady thing” right now, so I’m going to skip spin class! (For the record, spinning is the last thing I ever want to do. I hate riding bikes–much less a bike that doesn’t fucking go anywhere–and I never, ever want to be yelled at to go faster.) Anyway, point is, I got lady stuff from Duane Reade and then the cashier said “Enjoy!” And I sort of looked at her and then the contents of my bag (tampons) and I said, “Uh, thanks?”

The point is that even though I’m telling you to “enjoy” what you’re about to see, I know in my heart of hearts that you will not enjoy this and will instead fear going to bed every night.

So thanks, and enjoy.

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The One Where I Do Other Things

I’ve been a busy lady doing stuff!

Our band Taken By Savages (which is me and the world-famous, multi-talented Joe Ziemba) just released a record today! We are super proud of it. If you could see our faces, you’d see a look that critics would describe as “satisfied” or “accomplished” or “shit-eating grins.” This record has been a lot of fun and also work, but very, very fun work. I’m not even sure if we should call it “work” because it would make actual “work” feel inferior and sad.

You can listen below. The record is available digitally to meet all your iNeeds, but it’s also available on VINYL. It’s two-color vinyl and when it spins, you trip balls. No just kidding. Or am I? PLUS: If you get the vinyl, you’ll get an “extra spesh” bonus digital EP. It’s “exclus” to people who get the vinyl because Joe and I always reward good behavior.

The ironic part in all this is that I don’t have a record player because I don’t have room. But Joe does, so if you guys all want to hear the LP, go over to his place. He’s got a wonderful selection of snacks and beverages too. Go for the music, stay for the snacks, just like Shakespeare said in that one play with that guy.* But also stay for the company because Joe is an amazing person who does amazing things. He continuously blows me away. How can one man do so much and still maintain a healthy head of shiny hair? Ask him when you get there.

*True story: I have a very good friend named Roger who, for the life of him, can’t remember any name or movies or actors. He once said “You know, that guy in the bike movie.” And after ten minutes of discussion, I figured out he meant Dennis Hopper.

SCandynavian Part II: Electric Bugaloo/Havana Nights

Today I returned to the Scandinavian candy store, and bought $10 worth of candy, which is kind of a lot of money, but we all know things are more expensive in Scandinavia. As the saying goes, you’ve got to pay to play. And I totally paid $10 for bulk candy. I probably bought, like, $5 worth of the sour cherry dicks alone. You should know that the dicks are a bit stale today. But I guess when the dicks are coming all the way from Sweden, they’re gonna get a little hard. OMG these dick jokes–I’d apologize, but I don’t want you to think I’m gonna stop making them. What I’m trying to say is that I’m eating these stale dicks because I just spent $10 on candy. I’m going to eat the shit out of it and call it lunch.

I got a few new pieces of candy this time and I shall review them. I’m assuming you all want to know the same thing: Are any of these better than the dicks? Probably not, but as my mother used to say, “You got to try.” She would say this when I was learning to read and couldn’t figure out how to read a word. I’d get frustrated and she’d be like, “You got to try” which is TOTALLY FUCKING UNHELPFUL. She wouldn’t help me read it either. She’d just say “You got to try.” Like dude, I’m TRYING but I literally cannot READ this bullshit word with all these stupid vowels that combine to form some DIFFERENT sound. It wasn’t until much, much later that I realized she said that because she couldn’t read the word either. English is so goddamn hard. It’s the worst. Korean is basically what you see is what you get. So is Spanish. But then English is like nooooooooooo gh makes a fff sound as in ffffuck. Anyway, candy. Let’s talk.

OK here’s a question. Is this a gummy ghost? Like from Pac-man?

squid

The answer is NO. It is not. It is a gummy SQUID. How adorably Swedish! Squid! In Asia, if you call something squid, it is actually squid. It was my favorite snack for a long, long time. I’d pull off a tentacle, dip it in some kochu-jang and park my ass in front of some cartoons until my mother turned it off and told me to do my homework, which I had already done, but she wanted me to go forward in the textbook to get ahead. Anyway, I said Ooooohhh gummy ghosts, yay, and the blonde six-foot blonde yeti of a shopkeeper said they are squid. So they are squid. They are covered in some sour dust, which the Scandinavians call “salted.”

Right, right. Salted. NOT sour. So in Sweden, if you say “salted candy” it means “sour.” So I said that was confusing because salt tastes salty and sour tastes sour, which is why we have two words for them. The dude did not care for my argument and just said they taste good.

You know how when you eat Lucky Charms, you spend a lot of time fishing out the marshmallows and eating them because they are the best? And maybe you fish them out before you pour in the milk because it’s easier to find the marshmallows that way? And then after you actually pour the milk to eat the cereal, you get sad because you had eaten all the marshmallows? And remember how you’d confuse marshmallows with mushrooms? Yeah that. So these taste like sour cereal marshmallows. They are sorta fluffy and spongy and chewy at the same time.

Grade: B, aka “Not an A, but pretty good”

hardcandies

These are hard candies. They are covered in some sugary substance and the shopkeeper promised that there was sour powder on the INSIDE. I was like YEAH this is what I want BRING IT ON and loaded up on these. Important to note that they are solid and therefore heavy and contribute greatly to the $10 I spent at this store.

SPOILER ALERT: THIS IS A TOTAL RIPOFF.

There is NO sour powder on the inside. It’s just a hard candy. Tastes like a Life Saver. Taste like what an old lady would have at the bottom of her purse and upon offering it to “youngsters,” they’d be like uh no thanks. Imma gonna go eat anything else than this.

Grade D: The D stands for Disappointment

frog

This is a gummy apple frog. Doesn’t really look like a frog, and it doesn’t taste like apple either. So I guess it gets 0 out of 2 right. The texture is softer than a gummy bear, though not as soft as Chuckles or Sunkist Fruit Gems. Taste wise, it tastes like nothing. There’s a certain ‘fake apple’ taste that we are accustomed to, the way apple candies all taste the same way even though it tastes nothing like an apple. Call it the apple gestalt, not to get all fancy about it. This bullshit candy does not have that apple gestalt. It tastes like a gummy bear that’s been in your pocket, something you saved for later because it’s tasty. Now imagine you saved it for later and you’re like ew this is gross. Why did I save this? My pockets are ruined! That’s the gummy apple frog.

Grade D-: I’d give it a lower grade, but there’s something that’s worse. Keep reading.

caramel

This is a caramel “twist.” It is the texture of a Twizzler, but with a caramel flavor. It is also a bit on the buttery side. It is akin to that buttery flavor a Werther’s Original, except it’s chewy like licorice. But the texture sort of falls apart in your mouth. I don’t like it. It tastes like plastic, which is why I hate Twizzlers. I want candy to taste like candy and not like a bracelet. I hate this. I hate that this is in my mouth right now. (Dick joke!)

Grade F: Need to spit this out

licorice

This is half black licorice and half red licorice, covered in mildly sour “salt”, as the Scandinavians would say. Here’s the thing: I love black licorice. I love it more than red licorice. I do understand most people hate the black stuff. So this is the Two-Face of licorice. Good and Bad. Bad and Good. And guess what? It’s delightful! The black licorice is definitely the stronger dominant flavor. So if you hate the black stuff, then move on. Texture wise it’s about the same as a Sour Patch Kid that’s been opened for a day. So not too soft but not too hard. It is nice and chewy and sticks between your molars, like all good candies. Delicious. I wish I had gotten more.

Grade A: If you like black licorice. If you don’t then stick to the dicks.

I realized that I am taking photos of food and putting them on the Internet, something I always make fun of people for doing. I realize I’m being a giant hypocrite. BUT in my defense, I’m not at a restaurant. I’m just in my kitchen eating an unruly amount of candy. But I’d like to show you this, taken from the Findings section of Harper’s Magazine.

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SCandynavian

A new candy shoppe just opened up on my corner. (True story, when my mom first saw the word “shoppe” she pronounced it “shoppy” and my brother said, “It’s just pronounced shop, GOD MOM! UNGH!” He was ten.) Anyway this shoppe specializes in Scandinavian candy and it’s called…SCandynavian. Now I love a good pun, but holy shit that is just stinking up the joint. Anyway, I love CANDY just like everyone else who is not a raging butthole, so I went in. I just assumed that a Scandinavian candy shoppe would have, like, buckets and buckets of Swedish fish and also salted black licorice, which is totally disgusting. The taste is what Americans would call “acquired,” which is a pass agg way of saying “doody.” It tastes just like the torn off fingers of babies dipped in gasoline. However, I do think it’s something everyone should try once, in their lifetime, just so I can see the look on your faces and also to see if ONE of you out there who is NOT Scandinavian actually likes it. I am convinced that NO ONE likes this shit except for people who grew up on fish cured in lye. Fucking lye! Remember how we used to unclog our sinks with lye? And then some Norwegian was all, sweet I’m totally gonna put this on my goddamn fish to make it tasty? And then the dude’s mom came home and was all, MAGNUS WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH MY LYE, I NEED THAT TO UNCLOG THE TURLET and he’s like but mom, taste this, it is the jam, and she’s all, yo this tastes awesome, I dig the gelatinous texture and the gentle aroma of sodium hydroxide, it tastes just like that dish with the baby fingers and the petrol, you know the one. Anyway yes, definitely try it once. Try it twice if you’re brave, or three times if you’re stupid. That’s a saying, right?

So this shoppe had NO salted licorice. I actually asked for it because I wanted to torture everyone I know. And the 6 foot 4 hyper blonde Swedish shoppekeeper said, Oh we don’t have any in yet, it’s seasonal. And I said, what, candy knows no season, but he didn’t quite understand me. Not because of a language barrier, but because the techno was so loud. Seriously he was grooving out to this Eurotrash house trance whatever (sounds like this: mm ch mm ch mm ch mm ch bam bam bam mm ch mm). His hair was slicked back and everything. He was also wearing an open shirt in order to show off his chest tattoo, which was script and hard to read, but let’s just pretend it said “Thüg Life.” Anyway, the point is this. I bought some Scandinavian candy and I’m going to review it for you:

sourwrench

OK, you and I both know these look like penises. In fact, I saw this tub of dicks there and I was like oh yeah I need to get these because tee hee penis! And the shoppe dude was like “Oh those are sour raspberry wrenches.” Really? How is that even a wrench? Unless “wrench” is Swedish for penis? Then he says “they are very popular in Sweden” and I thought oh what you are trying to say is that penises are popular in Sweden. Well here’s some news buddy, penises are popular everywhere. Like 50% of everywhere is made of penis. Anyway it’s slightly more sour than a Sour Patch Kid and it has a tart berry flavor that doesn’t taste too synthetic like Robitussin. I love it. If all Scandinavian candy tastes like this then we will all have to move there, but we can ONLY eat the candy and not anything else. Definitely not that toilet fish.

I have a belly full of dicks right now.

Grade: A+

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These are red licorice tubes that are all cutesied up with nowhere to go because they’re not that good. The flavor is nondescript. Is it strawberry? Cherry? Watermelon? I have no idea. It tastes like red. It’s softer than licorice and not nearly as chewy. My friend Laura says the design looks like the Yelp logo, and she’s right. But other than that, it has no distinct personality. It is a thing you put in your mouth and then forget it’s in there. I realize that after talking about penises above, everything is now going to sound like a penis innuendo. Balls.

Grade: B-

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These are strawberry Ferraris. According to the shoppe keeper, they are the most popular candies in Sweden. They are quite large and I can’t shove the whole thing in my mouth (again with the penis thing). I thought they’d taste like Swedish fish, but actually no. They’re much tougher and less al dente. It tastes like that Swedish fish you found between the couch cushions. You ate it because you thought no one was looking. But I was looking.

Grade: C

I just realized that everything I got was red flavored. No worries, I will try other colors. There’s a chocolate section too. Scandinavians are probably known even less for their chocolate than their puns, but hey I will put that in my mouth (OMG penis). There’s also a set of bins that was slightly hard to reach because this shoppe was designed for tall Swedish people and not short Koreans wearing sensible footwear.

If you are in New York and feel like eating dicks, come to SCandynavian on Thompson just below Spring.

Swedish Roll

When you get a full sized mattress from IKEA, it comes like this. Seriously how is this going to be a mattress?

Related note IKEA meatballs have horse in them but I guess you still liked them anyway.

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LA Weekly Calls Me The Asian American Tina Fey So Now I Can Finally Die

LA Weekly ran a fantastic review of Shut Up, You’re Welcome!

“Don’t the networks have room for an Asian-American Tina Fey?”

HOLY WHAT THE WHAT?! I guess I can go die now because no one will ever say anything nicer to me than that. Folks, that was it. Game over. Now I will go eat this entire bag of Extreme Doritos and stop exercising because fuck it, there’s nothing left to live for.

This is how I feel right now.

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Yes, that is a mini-pig eating a mini-ice cream. It is the only time a mini-ice cream is acceptable. (Thanks to Laura for texting me that.)

Also, blogging is apparently not a thing I do much. Instead, I’ve been posting photos and snarky shit over on the Annietown Facebook and Twitter. If you “like” my stupid shit then you will be able to enjoy pictures of llamas and a sign that says “Clothing Optional.”

True story: A chiropractor asked me how I chose “Annietown” and I said it’s because “Annie Choi” was taken. The moral of the story is that sometimes true stories are fucking boring.

People Are Being Nice and Saying Nice Things

People are saying nice things about SHUT UP, YOU’RE WELCOME! Yay!

First, Meg Cabot has been recommending my book all over town, including the official publication of hotels everywhere, USA Today. This is kiiinnnnnndddd of like getting a personal hug and a giant chocolate cake (without frosting because fuck that shit) from a hero. I love Meg Cabot, she is one part workhorse and two parts dreamboat, topped off with a tiara. HOW can one woman do all this?

SHUT UP also got a supremely kick ass review in this month’s BUST Magazine. It got a four boob review! Four boobs! Who doesn’t love boobs, amirite?

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“It’s as if a friend with great comedic timing was telling you a very animated story about losing her luggage.”

The great Patricia O’Toole once told me “Bad for life, good for writing.” This is how I approach Virgin America now.

And finally there’s a really great writeup in Paste Magazine.

“I found sprightly anecdotes galore and prose technique to rival the best humorists now working in this style.”

High praise! High praise! I am high, on praise! Now I will operate heavy machinery.

Thanks for all your support, everyone. I am super stoked about this book and grateful that it’s out in the wild, doing it’s thing. Meanwhile a mouse is living under my stove and doing mousey things like being a dick and pooping on the floor I just vacuumed and mopped. I know it’s weird that humans poop in a can of water (when you think about it, it’s really bizarre) but mice just poop wherever. Like they literally shit where they eat. It’s gross. My current mood is “keeping it real.”

Dear Musical Theater

Here’s another book trailer for Shut Up, You’re Welcome! Hear me rage against musical theater. I really do hate it.

San Francisco: See you tonight!

Hey Bay Area peeps! I’ll be reading, signing, and giving away stickers that smell like “never gonna give you up” and “never gonna let you down.” If you’re not sure what that smells like, then you should come tonight and smell for yourself. It smells pretty gnarly. Books will be for sale of course!

Books Inc – Laurel Village
3515 California Street
7 pm

See you there!