I’ve made a few videos, and this project made me remember something that I previously had forgotten – filming is a complete pain in the ass. I absolutely despise having to film things, set up shots, and overall try to make things look good. I did the majority of my filming yesterday and most of the stuff that I have is absolute garbage that is almost not salvageable through editing. The assumption that editing will make the footage better is also fraught with peril, as I have no idea how to use adobe editing software and I don’t have any other options for a program. Can we please just write a fucking paper instead of this utter nonsense. I’ve got so much shit to do that I can’t possibly put the time into making this project a success. I desperately hope that the grading process on this isn’t too harsh, because it’s going to be trash. I’m aware that most of this post is just bitching, but I’m significantly annoyed.

I spent five hours yesterday cooking and filming for this video and the end result wasn’t even that great. I made steamed scallops on a bed of mung bean vermicelli with a garlic sauce, stir-fried pink amaranth greens, and steamed vegetable dumplings. I think the recipes I used could have been more liberal on the addition of spices and seasoning, particularly the scallops. Also, I think that the Asian market was having an off-day in the fish department – there were barely any live fish when I was there on Sunday, and the scallops that I got weren’t great. They looked really delicious and fresh when I bought them, but they were just lacking in flavor and the texture was slightly off from how scallops normally are. I suspect that they had an issue with a supplier – they normally have dry or divers scallops, but I think the ones I bought might have been wet scallops.



I’ve got to say, while I have a decent idea for the third project, I’m not sure how I’m going to translate the idea into something that isn’t entirely lame. In addition to the fact that I’m not sure how to write something that is actually persuasive and won’t immediately make people want to turn off my video for lack of caring, I’ve never done videography before. I don’t really know how to make an aesthetically appealing video or edit. I’ve also made a point to never have my likeness show up in a video or anything, so the fact that I have to do a voiceover is a bit daunting for me. I just don’t like to put myself in things – I have a hard time when writing papers that require sections in first-person. Possibly I have some problems with dissociation. I don’t know. I’m also not going to be able to film anything until I get my tripod for home over Easter break, so I’m not really going to have anything for my first draft on Monday. I’m in the process of figuring out how to write the script for my draft right now, and I’m really not a fan of it.

I also have a fuck-ton of stuff to do before break, and I’m really not looking forward to this week. Thankfully, I just finished a paper proposal regarding the linguistic rhetorical devices Satan uses in his speeches in Paradise Lost. Which is not going to be fun to write, but whatever. Satan in Paradise Lost is one of the most fascinating literary characters that’s ever been written. He is absolutely inspiring and seems to be the protagonist for most of the epic, which is a huge point of contention for most scholars of Paradise Lost. Personally I’m coming to terms with the fact that the Miltonic Satan isn’t exactly my moral role model, but he comes pretty damn close.

Experiments in cooking

I know that spring break seems in the distant past at this point, but I feel like one of the things I did over break is relevant to the content of the class, so I’ll share. A few days before I came back to Boone, I was intensely craving some authentic Chinese food, which is ridiculously difficult to get in North Carolina. Luckily, I live not far from a rather large Asian market where they have a small restaurant section. However, since I wasn’t busy that or the following day, I decided to try cooking a few Chinese dishes with ingredients from the market.

I made 叉烧包(chāshāo bāo), 粽子(zòngzi),and 馄饨汤 (húntuntang). These are respectively a steamed bun filled with chopped Cantonese barbecue, glutinous rice with duck egg yolk, chopped pork belly, scallions, and peanuts wrapped in bamboo leaves, and the ubiquitous wonton soup. Everything turned out wonderfully, although making all of it took roughly ten hours. The flavors and textures are unlike anything that you can get at a typical American Chinese restaurant, and most Americans haven’t come close to tasting them.  

Making the food wasn’t difficult. What was an interesting experience was the trip to the Asian market. I’ve been many times, so I’m somewhat used to the atmosphere in the market. The all-encompassing smell of fermented soy, tofu-water, and the fish market present at the back of the store. The complete lack of English labeling and distinguishable price markers. The aisle full of medicinal Chinese herbs that I’ve never seen, the live soft-shelled turtles, cow hearts, and boiled blood in the meat section, and the colorful wrappings masking bizarre snacks. All of these things become strangely comforting once you get used to them.

The trip to the market wouldn’t feel the same without the sense of otherness that I get, though. 95% of the patrons are Asian and speak Chinese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese, or Japanese. The announcements on the intercom are in Mandarin Chinese. I can understand some of the Chinese, but that doesn’t stop me from being entirely out of my linguistic comfort zone. This sense of being a minority is something that most white Americans don’t – and maybe go out of their way to never – experience. People assume that they know what Asia is like because they know their Chinese Zodiac symbol and eat takeout vegetable dumplings, but in reality never actually interact with the culture. I think this is quite sad, actually, and encourage anyone who hasn’t been to shop at an Asian market – of course it is not the same as going to China or Thailand, but the microcosm of Asia in one of these markets is a good start.