Ugly Delicious

David Chang of Momofuku fame and who starred in a previous Netflix show called “The Mind of a Chef” now has another Netflix show called “Ugly Delicious.”  In Mind of a Chef, that show dived deep into Chang’s inspiration on creating food.  From the first episode of Ugly Delicious, it seems like it’s a deep thematic dive into different food (pizza, tacos, fried chicken, etc) and probably on how they’re made across the different ethnic cultures that have embraced their own version of the food.

All I can say is… the first episode of pizza made me want pizza. =p


Scam City

There’s this TV show called Scam City that’s on Netflix.  The premise is pretty noble.  The host goes to different famous world cities and search for the different scams that go on in that city ranging from fake “authentic” goods to pickpockets to taxi driver kidnappings and even prostitution.  The shows does all this in an attempt to make potential tourists who are watching at home aware of the disreputable scams in the city.  It turns out that many of the show’s scams are found in every city… 3 card monte, fake authentic goods, pick pockets, “friendly bars” and the list can go on.

Although I’m no expert, I have had my fair share of traveling.  I think the culture of the country and/or city is also a big part of whether or not people will get scammed/hustled.  As a traveler there are certain things to be aware.  Pickpocket is probably the number one concern.  There’s not much a traveler can do without money, without credit cards and potentially without identification (ie Passport) too.  Being kidnapped is also a concern but I think the likelihood is much less in more touristy locations.  Plus with easy access to the Internet, using GPS and Google maps should always be a given to ensure the taxi is going to the correct direction.  In general being aware of the surrounding is important for staying safe.  So… “Don’t walk down that dark alley” or “Don’t talk to strangers” generally works in your favor.   Keep in mind hustlers are trying to relieve your wallet of some money as quickly and as easily as possible.  Making it hard for them is never in their benefit.

Apparently though, some of the episodes are not without controversy per the wiki entry on Prague and Amsterdam.  Is Scam City scamming the TV audience!?

Anyways, watching this show leads me to a few questions…

  1. Why would anyone want to go to these cities now?
  2. Why does the show seem to portray certain non 1st world cities in a much more negative light?  The Mumbai and New Delhi episodes make these two cities out to be pretty bad as does the Bangkok episode.
  3. I sometimes feel like they are actively looking for scams that happen.  And that tourists would have to be really really stupid to fall for some of these tricks.  Maybe it’s to build suspense up similar to how ABC’s The Bachelor and the contrived storylines.
  4. Pickpockets are still the world’s most dangerous petty thieves.  Some of the pickpockets on the show are really good and have great finger/hand dexterity.  The Jerusalem Mount Olive pickpocket scene was pretty interesting.  He used slight of hand and a common magic trick of directing attention away from the wallet.


Ideally, the tourist needs to be aware of the hustle and take whatever precautions needed to minimize the hustle.  Ultimately as a tourist, staying safe is the ultimate priority to enjoy the city.  Happy traveling!

Breaking Bad

Netflix has a neat feature that allows users to download a limited number of episodes of selected shows for offline viewing. I took advantage of this and downloaded AMC’s Breaking Bad. Netflix has all 5 seasons to watch and more importantly for download.

On a recent trip to Asia, I started watching these episodes and downloading them at the hotel wifi for future offline watching. I finished the final episode before returning to US.

My thoughts on this show is mixed. I thought the first 3 seasons went very well. The final 2 seasons seems to be dragging out a “good thing” by meandering through these plausible storylines. The character development was varied depending on the character throughout the seasons.

Walter White’s transition from a high school chemistry teacher into a meth cook is an interesting study into his psychology. As the series progresses, his psychological state begins to drastically change as his demeanor and ambitions grows bigger while fear and paranoia grips his every day life. He has a quote “I feel alive” that sums up his adrenaline filled days of meth cooking, conspiracy and thug/underworld life (for lack of a better word). As the series progresses his ambitions start to get the better of him. Mike towards the end of the show pointed out how good it could have been if it were not for his “pride.” As correct as Mike is, I think it was more than pride that fed into his hubris and eventual downfall.

Jesse Pinkman could have been developed even further. His character doesn’t grow nearly as much as White. Throughout every season, I found him going from one emo state to another emo state. He feels like a tragic hero that the writers used to dump all the horrible results on while Walter White gets away with just about everything. Ultimately, he was not ready to be the partner White needed him to be. He never was developed to be as ruthless as White but more of a sniveling underling that was in way over his head.

Although this show is 10 years old, it’s worth watching all 5 seasons. Just be prepared for some exasperating moments.

Master of None

Aziz Ansari (wiki) has recently been in the news as part of the #MeToo (wiki) movement.  Before this event, he’s originally a stand up comedian who transitioned into TV show fame.  Some of his stand up routines on Netflix (here, here) are pretty funny.  I’ve read his book Modern Romance which held a few hilarious dating anecdotes that are relatable to the singles dating life.

Master of None is his latest TV show on Netflix.  Ansari recently won a Golden Globe for Best Actor in TV Series, Musical or Comedy.  As one of the series on my “To Watch” list, I started watching sometime last month and finished watching it yesterday.  As I watched the show, I began to realize that I was more interested in the dating and relationship stories between Rachel and Francesca.  I think what makes this such a great show is the relatability of the characters and their backstories.  The Thanksgiving episode is a great example and is one of the better episodes from both seasons.  It’s well written and well directed and shows the evolution of Denise and her family’s acceptance of Denise as a lesbian.

Towards the end of season 2, I related to Ansari’s character of how he felt and with his emotions with relationships.  I understood just how Ansari’s character felt as I had felt the same way many times in the past.  That physical pain and heartache in the chest, the constant thinking in my own head space, and the irrational decisions were all relatable emotions and attributes.  The last two episodes of season 2 made me reflect on my emotional, physical and rational state when I was experiencing these emotions.  Watching these episodes made me sad that the relationships never worked out.  Unlike the happy ending in season 2, the potential for a positive relationship wasn’t even an option in my case.

This show is worth watching.  The cast and storytelling are relatable in this modern day.

President Obama Interview

David Letterman has a new Netflix show.  It’s not quite the same late night talk show format in his previous career but I think it suits him fine.  The first guest of this show is none other than Barack Obama.

There’s so much Letterman can talk about with President Obama but there’s clearly not enough time given the show’s format.  Obama speaks eloquently about a number of topics from family, Obama’s use of social media, the financial crisis, and even the current political system.  I find myself entranced at their conversation… so much so, I listened to it a 2nd time to digest the parts that I missed the first time.

I truly think 1 hour is nowhere enough time to cover all the topics that are of interest to Obama and in some ways interest to the US population in general.  I really look forward in seeing what Obama can do in the future to make his legacy even more enduring.

2nd Season of Bill Nye Saves the World

Looks like Bill Nye Saves the World has a 2nd season on Netflix now.

I’m amused by opening the season with a discourse on marijuana.  Is this Nye’s effort to engage the Netflix audience to open a broader national dialog into marijuana?  Nye approaches this subject from a scientific curiosity/inquiry viewpoint regarding the unknown effects of marijuana through the investigative reporting of groundbreaking Israeli scientific work into understanding the effects of marijuana.  Since marijuana is a Schedule 1 drugs/substance in the US, little is known about the effects on humans since controlled research can’t be performed due to it’s drug classification.  Using this scientific curiosity/inquiry approach is interesting to get the conversation started but ultimately the FDA/DEA will need to have one key question answered: Does marijuana usage lead to a “high potential for abuse”?  Without satisfactorily answering this question, the FDA can’t possibly condone further experiments to fully understand marijuana effects on humans.  Or can they?

Aside from marijuana, the other episodes also look to be interesting. From the quick synopsis of each episodes, there is one about cybersecurity, sleeping, and super resistant “superbugs.”

HK Comedian Cheuk Wan-chi on Netflix!?

This is such a great show.  On Netflix, I just finished a 2 part show that stars Cheuk Wan-Chi who is an Hong Kong comedian and media personality.

I’m very impressed with the translators who did this.  Both shows were in Cantonese but the subtitles were translated so well that the jokes and witty comments were spot on funny.   At the same time, some of the references she uses were lost on me because she’s from Hong Kong.  The crowd definitely understood so there’s a slight cultural gap.

Either way, it’s a great show.