Audrey’s Athletes to Watch | Olivia’s Olympic Team Picks

Wang Hao and Chen Roulin. Courtesy of NBCOlympics.com.

While many countries have star athletes, few have star teams. China is a champion-making machine, turning young children into Olympic athletes through extreme training and discipline. Japan, a country still recovering from the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disasters that devastated the country a little over a year ago, has also turned out a couple of noteworthy teams as well.

China’s diving team
The Chinese diving team earned the title of “dream team” by winning five gold medals in Sydney and six gold medals in Athens. At Beijing, China hoped for a clean sweep in the diving events and the team almost succeeded. Australia’s Matthew Mitcham snatched the gold medal in the men’s 10 m platform though, and China had to settle for seven golds. While most nations would be ecstatic, “almost” is not good enough for the Chinese. This time around, the Chinese “dream team” is determined to accomplish their goal. At this year’s world championships, they successfully won all eight events. Qiu Bo, currently ranked No. 1 in the world, will be competing in the elusive men’s 10 m platform along with teammate Lin Yue. Currently, all the world No. 1 divers are Chinese. China has won 33 out of the 48 Olympic diving titles offered in the past 28 years. This may just be the year that China will add eight more to that medal count.


Winning Chinese men’s gymnastics team in Beijing. Courtesy of fulltwist.com.

China’s men’s gymnastics team
While China’s women’s gymnastics team has a chance for Team gold, they are not the overwhelming favorites. In contrast, the men’s team won Team gold in Beijing by a large margin, scoring the highest on all events except floor. They also won Team gold at the last world championships. China’s gymnastics team is extremely deep and all of the men competing were part of the winning world championship team. However, China does not have room to falter because another team from Asia is right on their heels…


All-around world champion Kohei Uchimura. Courtesy of fulltwist.com.

Japan’s men’s gymnastics team
Japan’s men’s gymnastics team settled for the silver medal in Beijing, after winning Team gold in Athens. Japan is back with vengeance and their team may be able to oust China from the top of the podium. The team is lead by Kohei Uchimura, the three-time all-around world champion who will compete on all the apparatuses for the team. Gymnastic siblings Kazuhito and Yusuke Tanaka (sister Rie Tanaka competes on the women’s team) are also part of the men’s team.


Winning Japanese women’s soccer team at World Cup. Courtesy of Washington Times.

Japan’s women’s soccer team
Controversy broke out last week when the women’s soccer team was seated in coach class while the men’s soccer team flew in business class. If seating had been decided by skill rather than sex, the women should have flown in first class. The winners of last year’s World Cup and ranked No. 3 in the world, Japan’s women’s soccer team may be able to upset the United States’ team again. Their star player is Homare Sawa who was voted world player of the year. However, Sawa is not a one-woman show. She has a disciplined team to back her up that includes Aya Miyama, Ayumi Kaihori, and Nahomi Kawasumi.

And more Chinese teams…
Alas, the Chinese method of training, while rigorous and demanding, has been proven to produce champions. In China, athletics is a profession and not a recreation. Children are recruited at the age of ten to begin training for a sport. For many people, especially those from rural areas, becoming an athlete is their best hope for leading a quality life. In addition to diving and gymnastics, expect China to dominate in table tennis, badminton, weightlifting, and shooting. These six sports alone garnered China 38 gold medals in Beijing during the last Olympics.

The Awful Truth | Isn’t it Bromantic?

ISN’T IT BROMANTIC? : What is up with all these guy crushes and man-love?
Audrey’s resident bro expert tells all.

ISSUE: Spring 2012

DEPT: The Awful Truth

STORY: Paul Nakayama

I recently returned from a trip to Vancouver where my writing partner and I celebrated New Year’s Eve. To quote our generation, it was epic. Now, judging from the photo (opposite page), you might assume that we went there as lovers, or perhaps even newlyweds. But, no, dear readers, it is, in fact, a “bromance” of the highest caliber. For those of you who’ve never heard of a bromance, it’s defined as a very close, or homosocial, friendship between two straight men. You’ve all seen examples of a bromance through television shows like Scrubs and Friends or movies like I Love You, Man. There are even real world examples like Ben Affleck and Matt Damon or George Clooney and Brad Pitt. It’s a strong bond formed from common interests and long periods of time spent together. Hearing this, my editor was unsatisfied, or rather, still suspicious, and she demanded a better explanation. I took a look at the photo again, and I thought maybe it is in my best interest to provide a few insights
into this new definition of brotherhood.

The concept of guy-love is lost on those who have never experienced it (so, men from older generations or women). It’s not weird or strange anymore to see men display their affections for their buds physically. I’ve seen grown, bearded men shove aside a fist bump request and instead firmly place their chest against another man’s chest. It’s strange and perhaps unnerving to them to see men platonically bond while throwing in the occasional hugs, butt-slaps and friendly wrestling. Whatever happened to the good ol’ days of stoic machismo, they wonder? Well, these days it’s cooler to be cool with man-love.

I remember one time in high school I spent the night at my best friend’s house once. His dad, an old fashioned type, raised an eyebrow when we went into the hot tub to relax. When it was time to turn in, his dad seemed nervous about something, as if the fate of his son’s future rested on the events of this particular evening. He kept hanging around the room, which was a drag because we wanted to close the door and talk about girls. Finally, after long periods of pacing and internal debating, he looked at us and pointed at the bed. He stuttered, “You know, I don’t think the bed is big enough to hold both of you.”

What do you do when your dad, like many others, mistakes guy-love for gay love? It’s not like we were planning to share the bed, but we did what anyone would do when faced with an awkward opportunity to teach someone about tolerance. We went with it and antagonized the poor man. Arms around each other and a big grin on our faces, we said, “We’ll make it work.”

I thought some more on why bromances are so common these days. When did it all start? I wondered if it was somehow a natural progression from the emergence of the metrosexual man. I thought that the heavy use of high-end conditioner and facial moisturizer made our hearts as soft as our hair and skin. In all seriousness, though, single men these days are simply less concerned with the notion of being identified as gay than their fathers and grandfathers. If anything, I’ve seen bromances take pride in their ability to ride the razor’s edge of platonic and sexual. Take me, for instance. Whenever I get drunk, I tend to lift my brothers into the air a la Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey in Dirty Dancing. I’m not trying to cop a feel (usually); there’s just no better way to show a brother you love him than by doing a ballet lift together.

Bromances aren’t just an American thing. I’ve witnessed and experienced it on many of my travels, like Anthony Bourdain, but instead of food, I sampled male bonding. In Brazil, I befriended a group of the tallest, largest men I’ve ever met, and when I had trouble wading through the packed crowds, one of them actually lifted me up above the people and placed me in front of the bathroom. I said to him, “Obrigado, my gentle giant. Obrigado.” (True story.) In Hong Kong, I spent several nights drinking with guys that simply liked me because I could hold my liquor. Imagine that — bonding with strangers over such a superficial reason, and yet we were inseparable for days. In Singapore, I saw a club full of guys perform a synchronized interpretative dance to Madonna’s “Like a Prayer.” Actually, wait, that might’ve been a gay club; it was kind of confusing. Finally, in Korea, I saw men holding hands and kissing each other’s faces. Well, I wasn’t ready for the master class bromance, but you know, I just wanted to give you another example.

While most women comment that it’s “cute” to see men bond so closely, I’ve also had plenty of girls poke fun (with a hint of “what-the-eff” in their voices) at my bromances. When that happens, my buddies and I shrug it off because we know that it’s just jealousy. Now before I get angry letters from you (which I wouldn’t mind actually since it’s at least some evidence that someone is reading this), I’ll explain the source of the jealousy. It’s not uncommon for men these days to be more emotionally available to their man-mates than their actual girlfriends. There’s less emotional risk and you still get the satisfaction of catharsis. There’s no regard for what comes in the future; there’s only the enjoyment of the now. In other words, men can enjoy the intimacy of a long-lasting relationship without the dreaded “so-where-are-we-headed” talk. You combine that level of hassle-free friendship with man-dates that involve common interests in video games, sports, music and entertainment, and it’s not ironic that even the most commitment phobic guys have at some point in their lives said to another guy: “Dude, if you were a girl, I’d marry you.”

Now, with the context I’ve given, does the above photo of me leaping into another man’s arms make more sense? Still weird, you say? Yes, there was alcohol involved at the time this was taken, but that’s not an excuse. There’s no need to make excuses for something as beautiful as the friendship of two men. If anything, I will fight like a Black Friday shopper to defend my right to be cradled in the arms of my best friends. It’s a great thing that the taboos of the past are being cast off to create a world where men are OK with showing feelings, affection and love. Why not have a world where men can accept and hug instead of front and fight? I think it’s awesome. Well, except for those really aggressive huggers that linger. That’s just awkward.

More stories from Audrey’s spring issue here.

Entertaining | Dina Yuen

When entrepreneur Dina Yuenisn’t cooking a scrumptious, home-style meal, working on her
historical fiction novel, The Shanghai Legacy, or traveling for inspiration, she’s building up
AsianFusion, a multimedia website and company focused on celebrating Asian cultures and
traditions via food, art, music and more. Yuen’s latest venture is her debut cookbook, Indonesian
Cooking, featuring beautiful photos and original family recipes that simplify flavorful, authentic
cooking. Currently based in San Francisco, the Chinese-Russian American’s journey with food
began as a 5-year-old in Indonesia, where cooking was her family’s primary love language.
She eventually became the youngest student to graduate from Indonesia’s foremost culinary
academy at the age of 12.

ISSUE: Spring 2012
DEPT: Entertaining
STORY: Courtney Hong

Audrey Magazine: If you could cook for anyone in the world, who would you choose and what
would you cook?
Dina Yuen: Easily, my father. I cook for him whenever we’re in the same city, but I never feel it’s
enough. Being a huge foodie, he’s very flexible with his palate. I want him to enjoy great flavors
but maintain his good health so I’m very conscious about creating dishes that incorporate or-
ganic and fresh ingredients and have explosive flavors, but little fat. One of his favorite meals is Roasted Salmon with Tamarind Glaze, Garlic Stir-fried Spinach and Garlic Mashed Potatoes(using broth and olive oil instead of cream and butter). I also ply him with antioxidant rich fruits such as dragon fruit and pomegranates for dessert.

AM:Of your many professions (she’s an industrial engineer and classical musician by training),
which is your favorite?
DY:I come from a long history of entrepreneurs on both sides of my family. As young as in second grade, I started my first business in school, selling pretty stickers at a premium price. And writing is an outlet that helped maintain my faith and sanity during intense travels and the dramatic turbulence every entrepreneur endures at some point in life.

AM:How are you a strong proponent of women’s and children’s rights?
DY:One of my ultimate goals with Asian Fusion is to create meaningful dialogue and solutions
among Asian people globally regarding the diminishing love and respect for our heritage and
traditions. Consequently, I hope that a positive cultural shift across Asia will help to dramatically reduce the number of children in prostitution and increase the self-value of Asian women.

Summer ’12 Extra | Hangin’ Out in Hongdae

DESTINASIAN:Hongdae

Vietnamese American Mai Nguyen, 21
Exchange Student at Yonsei University
about 2 months

One of her favorite places to hang out in Seoul is Hongdae, the neighborhood around (and short for) the art-oriented Hongik University. With no shortage of cafes, dance clubs, and street performances, Hongdae has become a magnet for expats, exchange students and locals alike. Here, her hotspots to hit in this Seoul hotspot.

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Editor’s Rant: Flying to Asia

They way we used to fly. Passengers on a Pan Am 307 Boeing in the 1940s. Photo courtesy of State Library and Archives of Florida.

 

It’s been a dozen years since I trekked around Asia for 100 days. Back then (those pre-9/11 days), airfares were relatively affordable and service in-flight still decent. I remember getting to know a flight attendant fairly well on one of my frequent flights on United as I flew from Hong Kong to Hanoi to Manila to Singapore, all via Narita Airport in Tokyo. He’d give me full bottles of wine from first class and move me to empty rows.

Five years ago, I was on another United flight, this time to Seoul. Relatively roomy seats, even in economy, and individual video monitors filled with games, movies (even Korean ones) and TV shows helped pass the time quite pleasantly on the 13-hour flight. They even offered paper menus to let us know what the “chef” had prepared for our flight. Things were still pretty good.

Ah, those were the days.

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Audrey’s Days of Summer | Summer Cooking with Nai Nai

Since I can remember I’ve always been eating my Nai Nai’s (dad’s mom’s) cooking. She’s now over 95 years old and continues to be incredible, bustling around and constantly feeding me. I recently spent time at home and my most important mission during my visit was to spend time with her learning how to cook the dishes I had grown up loving. Like most chefs, my Nai Nai does not believe in exact measurements. “Just look at it,” she says “Taste it,”—and that’s how I learned to make the necessary adjustments. So, for those who prefer more precise measurements, here are two of my Nai Nai’s recipes quantified.

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Summer Must-Haves: Binna’s Top Five

Courtesy of www.Target.com

Drinking water and staying hydrated are the most important things you could do for your skin and body – especially when the days are hotter and sunnier. This is why my Ello water bottle in dark gray is one of my 5 favorite things this summer. Not only does it help my skin and body, as the 20 oz. bottle forces me to drink at least that much each day, but it also helps the environment. The other cool thing about this bottle is, besides that it only costs $10, that it’s BPA free!

Courtesy of www.GoldBondUltimate.com

In addition to staying hydrated, moisturizing is also important for your skin. The drastic change in the weather can do all kinds of crazy things to your body. I like to moisturize with Gold Bond Ultimate’s Silk Softness Sheer Ribbons body lotion in “touchably soft skin.” After sampling one pump of this lotion at a local Walgreens, this is the only lotion I’ll buy. It truly leaves your skin feeling silky smooth – plus it smells great.

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Audrey Living | Entertaining: A Summer Tableau

Summer may bring to mind barbecues and pool parties, but why sacrifice style for a warm weather fête when all it takes is a few details to lighten up any look? Here, some experts show us how we can bring summer to two very different décor styles.

 

ISSUE: Summer 2012

DEPT: Audrey Living

PHOTO: Callaway Gable

STYLISTS: Carpe Diem Special Events and Designs; Rrivre Works, Inc.

FLOWERS: Mille Flori Floral Design

VENUE: Rrivre Works, Inc.

 

“When you’re thinking of a summer dinner with friends, it is always nice to give your guests the unexpected,” says Slomique Hawrylo, who runs Carpe Diem, an event planning company, with partner Alice Chung. Always consider your surroundings when planning your tablescape, says Hawrylo. If you’ve got access to a great outdoor setting with a breathtaking view, you’re practically done. But if you’re working with an indoor venue, Hawrylo suggests an eye-catching print accenting the wall behind your table setting, like a bold damask design. Setting up a striking backdrop is easy to achieve, she adds. “Just purchase a large amount of fabric from your local fabric store and hang it flush to the wall accenting your tablescape.”

Against a sophisticated black and white backdrop, Hawrylo finds it important to make sure accent pieces are “wow pieces.” She suggests “sprinkling in a little summer brightness with a crisp apple green,” like vintage-inspired stemware and napkins. Don’t be afraid to mix and match modern and vintage styles of stemware in varying shades of your accent color. “Your guests will be impressed by the wonderful play on colors,” she says.

Florist Gina Kim-Park of Mille Fiori Floral Design continued the apple green theme by accenting each table setting with green cymbidium orchid blooms. She also used “modern baroque-style” mirrored trays for the charger. “You can purchase any cool picture frame to use as chargers for any dinner setting,” she adds.

To play off the bold damask backdrop, Kim-Park created an oversized garland with white and black paper flowers. She created one centerpiece with a white paper flower bloom accented with green moss balls, and another utilizing white akito roses meandering down a tall ceramic vase. As for setting up the layout of your dinner party, never feel that you are confined to the conventional table, says Hawrylo. “If you have a unique bar at your home, and you want your guests to experience a modern way of having a dinner party, have the entire evening themed around the bar. Your place settings, conversation and, of course, drinks will all take place at this unconventional table.”

If you’re working with a more traditional dining setting, bring summer inside — in an enchanted-forest- midsummer-night’s-dream type of way. This dreamy tablescape was created around the Montage Table, which features a magnolia tree at the center, by Rrivre Works, an event design and rental company. “Bring the outdoors in with living foliage, and accent with florals in the colors of the season,” says Rrivre Davies, owner of Rrivre Works. If your dinner is outdoors, he suggests building a table around your favorite tree.

If you don’t happen to have a tree in your dining room, “consider a potted tree for your next centerpiece,” says Hawrylo. “Big or small, it can provide an unexpected wow factor.” Kim-Park used oversized glass balls with candles for a whimsical yet modern touch — a crystal garland would work just as well against the hand-distressed texture of the table. She added large succulents with accents of fern greenery “for a more organic feel.” 

“We like to take our themes to the max,” says Davies. “Sweet bird dishware and natural linen napkins take the stuffiness out of a formal event without compromising elegance. Layering multiple textures gives the setting a unique, eclectic look.” Pair vintage-inspired “found” dishware from flea markets and estate sales with your existing china to add personality to your table. And never underestimate the power of a napkin, says Hawrylo. “The right color or detail on a napkin can make a table pop. An easy way to add a little flavor to your napkin is by taking two napkins with two different colors and folding it to accomplish a two-tone napkin. This adds character and a little charm.”

Finish off the tablescape with fresh seasonal blooms. For this particular look, Kim-Park used ranunculus, peonies, tulips, fruitilaria and green viburnum in a gold alabaster glass urn, but she says natural florals in miniature vases spread throughout the table work, too.

Winter 2012-13 Feature | The Silent Threat

January is National Stalking Awareness Month. It’s a crime that affects more than 6.6 million adults each year, yet stalking is little understood in the media and gravely under-reported by victims. Contributor Janice Jann breaks the silence and shares why it’s important to take this threat seriously.

ISSUE: Winter 2012-13

DEPT: Features

STORY: Janice Jann

 

 

The term “stalker” gets tossed around far too lightly these days.

“Ew, are you stalking me?” you joke when bumping into someone at the same frozen yogurt shop.

“I’m going to Facebook stalk him,” when you find out a friend has a new boyfriend.

But when you find yourself the victim of actual stalking, it’s no laughing matter.

 

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L.A. Weekly’s 99 Essential Restaurants 2013: Which Asian Restaurants Made the List?

What I love about L.A. Weekly’s 99 Essential Restaurants list is that it’s a good mix of places that has something for everyone – especially in a city with some of the world’s most eccentric characters. I’ll admit there were some surprises, but I was pleasantly pleased with the numerous Asian entries on the list.

This year’s list is a little different – not just because of the new entries on the list – but because this is the first time other contributors have also worked on this list besides famous food writer Jonathan Gold (Tien Nguyen and Christine Chiao were enlisted). With a place as big and diverse as L.A., it’s important to have a mix of different voices  to offer their opinions (and you know, share with us their hidden gems).

Did some of your favorites make the list? Click on to see!
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