Protocol Snow

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My New Year’s Eve fireworks viewing tradition

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Happy 2011! I am spending Christmas break at home in Los Angeles. Life here is good. The weather isn’t the only reason; in fact, we had a miserable freak week before Christmas of record-setting, non-stop rain. But the sun’s out now, and every time I go outside jogging in shorts in the heart of winter, I feel like I’m cheating Mother Nature and can’t help but grin. The killer combo of the weather, the food, and the lifestyle here are why I love L.A. so much!

Today I want to share a New Year’s Eve (NYE) fireworks viewing tradition that I started a few years ago. I am perpetually annoyed by how at midnight the Los Angeles TV networks show nothing but recordings of the New York City Times Square countdown. How about some love for the live West Coast celebrations? Or acknowledging the rest of the world?

New Year's Eve NYE 2010 2011 UK London Eye Big Ben fireworks viewing celebration

So after 2008 New Year’s Eve, I decided to do something about it. I scoured the Internet for high quality videos of NYE fireworks from around the world. Although HD recordings of TV coverage were ideal, they were hard to find so I also looked through amateur live recordings on Youtube/Vimeo, some of which were quite excellent. I downloaded my favorites and then held a viewing party, playing the videos on a 60″ HDTV using my PlayStation 3 as a phenomenal media player.

The viewing was a success and I’ve been doing it every year since. This year was the biggest viewing yet with 8 cities in total. I’m sharing my 2011 playlist below for all the other fireworks enthusiasts around the world!

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Written by Protocol Snow

January 3rd, 2011 at 1:01 pm

Posted in Miscellaneous,Travel,TV

A Bathing Ape diehard on Taiwanese TV

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A Taiwanese singer/actor named 阿Ben (Ah Ben) recently went on a variety show where the topic of the day was “name brand vs. no brand clothing”. He was head-to-toe in Bape merchandise and brought along some pieces of his collection to show the audience. There’s a lot of fans who will no doubt be interested in watching this so I will be supplying a general translation of what they talked about. Thanks to DJ-Shareen for bringing this to my attention.

A Bathing Ape fan Ben Taiwanese singer variety show

On a side note, as a fluent Mandarin speaker, I’ve been asked why I watch so many Japanese and Korean TV dramas and no Mandarin-language shows. From my experience, there are only two types of Chinese and Taiwanese dramas — 1) poorly acted modern-day dramas featuring the latest hot singers or models who have no business making a show and 2) epics set in various dynasties of China’s long history, which have legitimate actors but uninteresting subject matter. I would love to be proven wrong though, so if you have a favorite Mandarin drama I should look into, let me know!

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Written by Protocol Snow

August 31st, 2009 at 12:20 am

Posted in Miscellaneous,TV

A trio of links

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As school starts to get more intense and with the ultimate exam (USMLE Step 1) waiting in June, free time is hard to come by.

Oh who am I kidding, I still manage to keep up with my favorite TV shows (Top Gear, Top Chef, 30 Rock, and The Office) and do plenty of Internet browsing. But updating this blog has become secondary, as evident from the progressively lengthening time between posts. I have a few drafts that I’ll post this Christmas break, but I’m considering taking a blogging break for the first half of 2009, when I really have to get serious about studying for that test. I feel it’s a courtesy to announce a blogging break because otherwise readers might think the blog is dead if there hasn’t been any updates for a couple months. Nothing definitive for now, but I’ll see after the New Year and will make a separate post in the future about that.

Anyway, I was taking a break from studying for my Friday test (last one in 2008!) and came across a few links:

Iron Chef: Battle Souplantation
Maybe it’s because I’ve been studying too much, but I thought this idea was hilarious. Souplantation is a hearty buffet restaurant that specializes in salads and soups and is one of my favorite comfort restaurants. The food blogger who wrote this dined there with a friend and challenged her to make custom dishes with the available food.

I eat at Souplantation pretty much every time I go back home because it’s cheap and pretty tasty. This challenge brought back memories of a past Souplantation experience after my brother had his jaw surgery. When you eat at Souplantation, you start at the beginning of a long and winding food bar and make your way to the end where the cash registers are. My brother wasn’t able to chew anything, but he came with us to eat anyway to drink soup.

Of course, since he couldn’t eat anything, he was pushing an empty plate along the food bar, which I found very amusing. While getting bored waiting in line, I started taking vegetables and making a smiley face on his empty plate with the ingredients, the face getting more complex as we proceeded along the bar. I don’t remember if my brother was annoyed or not since he couldn’t eat, but the people waiting behind us were giggling.

Jessica Michibata’s photobook!
Jessica Michibata Japanese model

My favorite model, Jessica Michibata, has recently published her first photobook. She updated her blog today with photos of a meet-and-greet session in Shinjuku with autographed copies of the book. I’m thinking about picking up a copy, though no U.S. retailer is carrying it last I checked. With the yen so strong these days, it’ll be pretty costly if I have to import it. Autographed copies have already appeared on Yahoo Japan Auctions though. Hrm…

Encore opening coverage
The opening of a new casino in Las Vegas is always exciting, though in this case Encore is just an expansion of Wynn Las Vegas. Still, I’m keeping an eye on this site, which will bring coverage from a couple of Vegas veterans as opening night approaches in two weeks. Since I’m a Los Angeles native, Las Vegas has always been a quick and easy vacation destination, a mere three hour drive away. I probably won’t be going to Vegas this Christmas, but late 2009 is definitely a possibility. Several new properties are scheduled to open by then for me to check out.

Alright, back to studying. After my test on Friday, I’m going home!

UPDATE: I can’t express enough how much I love Top Gear. If you haven’t seen it before, today’s episode is a good place to start because it has it all: super fast cars, entertaining and informative segments, laughs aplenty and gorgeous cinematography. Then go back and check previous episodes because they’re all good. This episode particularly sparkles.

Written by Protocol Snow

December 7th, 2008 at 7:05 pm

Posted in Miscellaneous,TV

Loving the Olympics

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The Olympics are totally awesome. While NBC’s TV coverage is annoying with needless commentary, lots of commercials and human interest pieces, I have been very impressed with the coverage. I have been live streaming a bunch of less popular events like archery, fencing, and judo. Picture quality is decent/not bad, but the best part is there’s nobody talking over the action so you can watch the events like you’re actually there and get a better sense of the atmosphere. Also, live footage of these events in their entirety are archived online to play and rewind at my leisure.

None of the mainstream events (swimming and gymnastics, track and field to come) can be streamed online. That’s no big deal for me, I can catch those live when NBC airs them primetime. People on the West Coast, however, can’t watch live, despite the controversy of NBC forcing these events to be held in the Beijing morning so that they could show them live primetime in this country. West Coasters are appropriately outraged, as evidenced by the 3000+ angry comments on the linked Yahoo article.

Here’s my setup to watch the Olympics. I don’t even want to go to sleep at night since I have a lot of cool events at my fingertips. It’s like a non-stop sports buffet. Archery last night was awesome. The South Korean women are arrow-shooting robots; in the semifinals, they were shooting 10s literally in the midst of a thunderstorm. You can watch that on the NBC archery page.

The real highlight for me will be taekwondo, which won’t be competed until the last week of the Olympics. My taekwondo coach in college was internationally ranked and an Olympics hopeful, but he got injured and as far as I know, isn’t in the 2008 Olympics. Still, taekwondo is flashy and a crowd favorite, should be a lot of fun.

UPDATE: I was wrong, the big events like swimming and gymnastics can be streamed on demand after they air on TV.

Written by Protocol Snow

August 10th, 2008 at 4:30 pm

Posted in Sports,TV

Let the Games begin!

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Happy 8/8/08! If you aren’t familiar with Chinese culture, 8 is a very lucky number since it sounds a lot like the Chinese word for prosperity. Check out vanity license plates belonging to Chinese drivers and they’re very likely to have a few 8’s in there. My parents and I have multiple 8’s in our cell phone numbers by design.

Unsurprisingly, the 2008 Olympics in Beijing are starting 8/8/08 at 8:08:08 PM Beijing time (8 AM Eastern time in the U.S.). Of course, NBC won’t allow live coverage of it and they’ll be airing a recording tonight. I’m very excited about the opening ceremonies, particularly the fireworks display, which I have high expectations for considering that China invented fireworks and will want to put on a good show. Actually, I’m watching a live online stream of the opening ceremony right now provided by some South American website. Isn’t the Internet amazing? The show is spectacular so far, definitely try to catch it tonight if you can.

Most of the events seem interesting to me and I’ll try to watch as many finals as I can. I particularly like the events that nobody cares about except at the Olympics, like archery and table tennis. The track & field events aren’t as appealing though; with all the doping scandals surrounding them, it’s hard to trust whether the athletes are clean. Yeah, it’s cool to see records broken, but I think everybody is suspicious now and wondering whether that gold medal’s going to be revoked in a few years.

Here’s to a couple weeks of good sport!

UPDATE: I’m at the research lab waiting for my partner to show up so I ended up watching most of the show. Wow, what a spectacular display. There’s no way London’s topping this for the 2012 Olympics.

Right now it’s the Parade of Nations. They have a giant ring of cheerleaders waving and dancing in place while all the countries enter the stadium. Those poor girls, they’ll have to dance for two hours!!

UPDATE 2: Wow at the fireworks, particularly the one in the shape of dove wings. Incredible imagery. And what a staggering lighting of the torch. China has delivered. I can’t wait to watch this again tonight with better quality and American commentary.

UPDATE 3: I’ve been reading online comments about the ceremony and people outside the U.S. are astonished that we have to wait until tonight to watch it. Meanwhile, an estimated 2 billion people around the world watched it live. Thank you NBC!!

Written by Protocol Snow

August 8th, 2008 at 7:45 am

Posted in Sports,TV

Blast from the past

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I’m watching the National Spelling Bee right now, and every time I see this competition, I always think the same thing: televised Science Bowl would be so much better.

In fact, I wrote about this in my GameDaily blog almost a full 2 years ago. I have a Word document saving every single post I ever made (a monster 420 pages) so it was easy to dig it up.

Academic Elitism

For the first time ever, the National Spelling Bee Finals is being broadcast live on primetime broadcast TV (ABC). I’m currently watching it now and eh, it’s kind of dull. I was reading an article on ESPN the other day — apparently, it’s now legal to bet on the Spelling Bee? Wonder what the odds at the Vegas Sportsbook are…

Still, with the continuously rising popularity of this academic competition, I can’t help but feel that National Science Bowl would make for a much more exciting spectator sport. Obviously I’m biased since I was in the program for three years in high school, but Science Bowl sounds better even on paper. Spelling Bee has snooty officials, long wait times as contestants ask the same half a dozen clarification questions, and droning definitions from the judges. It just makes for plain boring television when the contestants stare blankly off into the distance while standing in front of the microphone. In any random five second interval, you can hear coughing from the audience. Guaranteed. Everybody’s restless sitting in that auditorium.

Science Bowl, on the other hand, is frenetic, fast-paced, and thrilling. 4 members are on a team, and two teams face off against each other with buzzers somewhat similar to the type on Jeopardy. Questions are drawn from all arenas of science, from the core subjects (math, biology, physics, chemistry) to some of the more specific fields such as computer science, astronomy, and environmental science. Questions are asked rapidly, and you can buzz in anytime, even interrupting the judge mid-stream if you think you know the answer. There’s crazy scribbling on paper for math problems, penalties for wrong answers, and scoreboards. Even bonus rounds! What’s not to like? It would make MUCH better TV than this drab spelling bee.

Written by Protocol Snow

May 30th, 2008 at 9:02 pm

Posted in School,TV

I’m a masochist

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That’s the only explanation for why I continue to watch awful shows like The Apprentice. I’ve stuck with The Apprentice and indeed haven’t missed a single episode in the entire series. You can tell a show is tanking when they have to pull the celebrity card, but this season’s Apprentice featuring a whole bunch of B level celebrities had some admittedly entertaining moments. The show had a flash of brilliance when Vincent Pastore (from The Sporanos) was fired — the ending to that episode was a parody of the very controversial Sopranos series finale, complete with “Don’t Stop Believing” playing in the background.

But for the most part, the season has been a complete waste. Most of the challenges boil down to the celebrities calling their buddies and asking for big donations. As my brother pointed out, it’s awkward to see these already successful people taking orders from Trump and playing his little games. After Gene Simmons won a challenge and some money for his charity, in the next project he basically committed suicide and forced Trump to fire him so that he can get off the show and go back to his normal life.

I wish I could do the same (go back to my normal life without the show, that is). But since I always finish what I start, I’ll see this season through. I’m finished with The Apprentice after that though, I swear.

Written by Protocol Snow

February 18th, 2008 at 8:31 pm

Posted in TV