A Tale for the Time Being – Review

15811545

 

*Disclaimer: spoilers ahead*

What Brought Me to Read This: Book of the month for my Culver City Books and Beer Club!

I really adored this book and the way it played with time. It tells the story of Naoko (or the more succinct monikier, Nao), a young Japanese girl growing up in Silicon Valley with her immigrant parents. Life is idyllic – her father is a hip, happy, and well-valued software programmer at a cutting edge company in the late 1990s, while her mother contentedly leads an elegant lifestyle, swathed in designer brands.

 

Then the dot-com bubble hits, leaving Naoko’s father jobless and her family impoverished, as they watch all their savings (invested in dot com stocks) hit rock bottom. Without the father’s work visa, they are expelled back to Japan, where they live in the slums of Tokyo. Nao, a foreigner to her homeland, is subject to merciless ijime, or bullying in Japanese. Ijime is much different from American bullying. It is a more subtle and finely tuned psychological warfare than the blunt aggression of American bullying.

 

Ruth, a Japanese American in present day, learns all about Nao when a water-tight package washes up on the shores of the Canadian island where she lives. The package contains Nao’s diary, a confession of all the sadness that transpires in her life. She is given relief from this when her great grandmother, Jiko, a 104 year old Zen Buddhist nun takes Nao in for the summer and teaches her how to find peace in the face of her pain.
While with Jiko, Nao discovers the secret diary of Jiko’s first born son, Haruki, a kamikaze pilot who perished during World War II. The diary reveals the harsh ijime that Haruki was subject to as well, making Nao feel foolish for complaining of her own adolescent struggles.

 

Meanwhile, Ruth reflects on the diary within the diary, feeling ridiculous that her own great tribulations revolve around recovering her lost cat, who has run away.

 

The narrative, though, is mercilessly beautiful. As Ruth and her husband read Nao’s diary, I loved being privy to their discussions, feeling almost as though the three of us had a small book club discussing what was happening in Nao’s life.

 

As the book progresses, it gets pretty trippy. Nao converses with Haruki’s ghost, and the words in Nao’s diary disappear and then reappear while Ruth reads them, as though rewriting themselves. In a dream sequence, Ruth travels back in time to Nao’s world, seemingly changing the course of Nao’s events. It’s almost like some kind of Japanese Back to the Future. Yet, there is a layer of ambiguity – Ruth’s mother suffered from Alzheimers, and the seed is planted that Ruth may be experiencing a mental disconnect from reality, perhaps explaining the otherwise surreal phenomena that surround the diary.

 

A favorite theme that Ruth Ozeki brings up is one borrowed from Proust “In reality, every reader, while he is reading, is the reader of his own self. The writer’s work is merely a kind of optical instrument, which he offers to the reader to discern what, without the book, he would perhaps have never seen in himself.” As Ruth reads Nao’s diary, we gain great insight into her psyche, and perhaps our own as we react to the hurdles that Nao encounters.

Highlights from the Dana Point Wine Festival!

At the Festival!

At the Festival!

From the pooches to the pinots to the pale ales, this was a great dog friendly festival and quintessential carefree day of summertime leisure! As you can see, my friend Sarah and I had a great time! Next year, I’ll have to make sure to bring my dog, Frankie – she’s a huge a wine fan.

Photo Oct 15, 11 23 11 AM

 

If learning about wine region by region is your thing, this was the place for you! Wines were organized by country, with knowledgeable attendants who could fill you in on the characteristics of each nation’s flagship variety.

My favorite wine for a warm June day like the one we had at the festival was the Bluefeld Riesling, from Mosel. Medium sweet, with a gentle effervescence to refresh you from the heat, it really hit the spot. That and the free Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. I didn’t get a chance to have some, but my friends told me that the samples were basically full on scoops!

2011blufeldriesling_19

 

On the beer front, there were a bunch of small and rising micro-breweries, like Beach City Brewery, based out of Huntington Beach and only three months old . . . just a baby.

Beach-City-Brewery-Logo-HB-Transparent-300x212

Another highlight was Bootleggers Brewery, based out of Fullerton. Not quite a baby brewery anymore, but well on its way into the elementary school arena of brewskis as it enters its sixth year of operation. The Palomino Pale Ale was on tap and delicious, maltier than your typical pale ale, with a crisp citrusy aroma and flavor. Just the ticket for a hot summer day. It’d be worth the drive into Fullerton to check this place out, not only for the Palomino, but also for some of their more creative flavors — like a Mint Chocolate Porter, the “Black Phoenix” blend of smoky chipotle and savory coffee, and even a plum infused brew.

Bootleggers-Logo

On top of everything else, there were beautiful handicrafts, artwork, and music playing. Local vendors were selling mouth watering food at discount prices to get patrons to give their stuff a try. I got a taste of Good Choice Sushi, which was doling out roll after roll to hungry patron after hungry patron. Having a sample of how good they were, I’d definitely check out their main establishment! Especially after scoping out their website and seeing this tasty looking poke bowl . . .

DSC_1729_0

All in all, this was a fantastic festival, and one worth going back to next year! I can’t wait to see who will be showing off their art, beer, and wine!

Dana Point Wine, Food, and Music Festival! Sat 6/21, by the Beach!

Screen Shot 2014-06-16 at 9.14.38 PM

 

Is there anything else you need to know to pack up your bags and head down to Dana Point this Saturday, June 21st?  Incredible wine, world class food, live music, the beach, and even beer!! Oh . . . and entry is FREE!

http://www.foodwineandmusicfestival.com

I can’t tell you how excited I am to check it out, especially because a lot of the artists, food, crus, and brews are homegrown or smaller scale. Big Sky Brewing Co. will be there, hopefully pouring my favorite, “Moose Drool.” Ballast Point, just a few miles down the road in San Diego will also be setting up shop, along with the usual suspects — Stella, Blue Moon, Shock Top, etc. It’ll be a good blend of the familiar with the new and exotic — very curious to try the Kona Brewing Company, straight from the Big Island!

 

Screen Shot 2014-06-16 at 9.49.44 PMScreen Shot 2014-06-16 at 9.25.55 PM

 

 

As for wine, there’s a great international showing, with every represented country sporting its flagship grape . . .

  • Argentinian Malbec
  • German Riesling
  • Spanish Tempranillo & Albarino
  • New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc
  • Australian Shiraz

And of course there’s a bunch of California wines to be enjoyed as well — highlights to look forward to are:

  • Parducci, Chardonnay, “Small Lot Blend”, Mendocino County
  • Mark West, Pinot Noir, California
  • Bell Town, Cabernet Sauvignon, Central Coast
  • Concannon, Cabernet Sauvignon, “Conservancy”, Livermore Valley

Obviously I’m completely jazzed for the libatious leg of this festival, but what I’m most looking forward to are the cooking demos by the celebrity chefs! As an amateur chef myself, I’m always curious to learn new techniques!

Screen Shot 2014-06-16 at 9.05.12 PM

On top of chef demos, there will also be tons of delicious food brought in from local vendors. I love eating local because it literally gives you a flavor of the surrounding town, and ideas for which restaurants to hit the next time you’re in the area. In particular, I’ve heard that Shwack Beach Grill has killer sliders (they sold over 1,000 last year!) and that el Adobe Capistrano has the best tacos. Assuming that I don’t fill up on food from the demos, I’m looking forward to trying both these places!

Now as great as this sounds, I know what you’re waiting for.

The big “but.”

But . . . what about PARKING??

Good news!

The parking situation is seriously a dream.

First, you might not even have to park, because if you go to this link on the Festival website: http://www.foodwineandmusicfestival.com/#!directions-and-parking/c1tms you’ll find that there is  a discount code for first-time Uber users, shaving off $50 from your ride!

IF you do drive though, there’s a big free lot with a shuttle that then takes you straight to the festival. Easy and breezy. Yay!

This is a quality festival, free entry, great pricing options, and easy to get to. I’ll see you there!

 

 

Why www.TheBesty.com really is the Best for Food Lovers and travelers!

Recently I discovered a great new site, www.TheBesty.com. The site is a way for people to share the best restaurants with each other and discover new restaurants and food they don’t know about. What’s great is that, unlike Yelp, you get to avoid all those negative posts! Too many times have I read a Yelp review that is obviously a reflection of the writer having a bad day, as opposed to the actual quality of the restaurant.
The idea behind TheBesty is for it to be only about the best. The goal is to share, not to
 critique. The platform is sort of like Twitter, in which you can follow other friends and foodies, who share the restaurants that they’re into! The site has users from all over the world adding their favorite restaurants and dishes daily, so I can see how in the future people would just start using TheBesty because it really is the easiest way to find the best, and who has time for anything else? :)
In the end, life is short, time is short, and a tool that helps me find only the best, is something I”m into, and know I will use. I also see travelers using this to find the best restaurants wherever they are in the world.
Create your own list of favorite restaurants and dishes to share with me and other friends HERE.
besty logo