Recipe: Beni-Imo Haupia Pie

Greetings, fellow mortals! Hoshi has returned from the land of Kalmikar, where she battles and heals furry beasts, and is excited to share yet another epic recipe with Cheri and Chebk’s wonderful readers. The recipe, courtesy of Miss Mochi, is based on a few things:

  1. This amazing blog’s namesake. (OKPotato = Okinawan Sweet Potatoes, as evidenced by the header.)
  2. The belief that one should continually expand their culinary experiences
  3. Hoshi’s ongoing premenstrual cramps

Among the many foods that Hawaii imports (read: everything), the Okinawan sweet potato, known as beni-imo in the Okinawan language, is commonly used in desserts and side dishes. In Hawaii, it is sometimes combined with coconut-flavored pudding (haupia in the Hawaiian language) to create an orgasmic dessert filled with happiness, rainbow-farting unicorns, and fairies. If you love sweet potato and/or coconut, I suggest you give this recipe a try! It’s somewhat laborious but is entirely worth it.

Photo courtesy of Miss Mochi.
Photo courtesy of Miss Mochi.

Miss Mochi’s recipe, below, yields enough pie for 13″ x 9″ or circular pie baking pans.

See ingredients, directions, and step-by-step pictures behind the cut!

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On Station Eleven, the Obon Festival, and the Art of Longing

To mark the end of August, I’ve been wanting to do a post on the obon season here in Hawaii. Obon is a traditionally Japanese Buddhist custom to honor one’s ancestors as they return to “visit.” Most Japanese people return to their hometowns to celebrate this occasion, which is marked by a bon odori, or basically a very large traditional Japanese dance.

As a third generation Japanese-Okinawan American, I know next to nothing about the actual Japanese festivities. Here in Hawaii, it’s a little different. For one thing, the season spans almost all summer, from the end of June to the end of August, as opposed to the few days in each Japanese region. Generally all of the Buddhist temples here host their own obon celebration, complete with food vendors, craft fairs, and, of course, bon dances. All summer, every weekend is another bon dance somewhere on the island.

Hometown bon dance. Photo by Cheri.
Hometown bon dance. Photo by Cheri.

Evidently, there is an actual story behind this occasion, which I only discovered this moment on Wikipedia: One of Buddha’s disciples somehow found out his deceased mother was suffering in the afterlife and was informed by Buddha that he could help her by making offerings to the Buddhist monks who had just completed their summer retreat. This allowed his mother’s release from her suffering and, in gratitude and relief, the disciple danced.

I still don’t know if obon season necessarily makes me feel closer to my ancestors. But, despite the fact that I’m really really bad at dancing, participating in the obon festivities always makes me feel grounded in my culture. Whether or not they struggle to participate in the dance movements, everyone is part of so many generations holding tight to all these traditions, even after all these years.

Which brings me to the fact that I’ve finally finished Emily St. John Mandel’s highly acclaimed Station Eleven, which is all about extreme nostalgia. I mentioned this title a few times in the last months, mostly because I’d picked it up in a moment of optimism about my reading abilities while coping with Issues. Unfortunately, the whole world-ending thing put me off for a bit because, well, Issues.

The story follows a handful of different narrative perspectives, both past and present, through the mutated epidemic that wipes out 99% of the world, the shaky years following, and all the way through Year 20, when the Traveling Symphony of musicians and Shakespearean actors continue to bring art and beauty to the surviving communities.

The crux of the main conflict comes in the form of a territorial prophet who believes the epidemic was God’s razing of the Earth, leaving only the worthy behind, along with those who will test the worthy one last time. (There always has to be one of those guys, right?) The Traveling Symphony runs afoul of him and things get creepy from there.

What was most interesting to me, however, was that, despite this prophet storyline, the much bigger and continuing conflict happens on a much more personal level for most of the characters: namely a longing for the past, a forgetting and remembrance alike, for everything from air-conditioning to electricity to iced lattes.

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Sub Genres: Silkpunk

Here is the second installment of our series: ‘Sub Genres.’ This one was more of a pet find because I read an online article (that can be found here) where Ken Liu, an author, came up with this new genre for his book, The Grace of Kings. It appealed to me because of the idea of delving into a different view of the world brought upon by different cultures.

Grace of Kings

What is Silkpunk?

Silkpunk is similar to steampunk in that it is a reimagining of history using a futuristic viewpoint while maintaining the aesthetic and sensibilities of a time long past. Unlike steampunk, rather than focusing on the western world, silkpunk focuses on ancient China and their wealth of technologies and resources.

Steampunk vs. Silkpunk

So where steampunk focuses on corsets, steam, and mechanisms and gadgets of steel, silkpunk focuses more on organic materials such as silk and bamboo and biomechanics using technologies that were already understood and put into practical usage – like the use of kites in military applications. Rather than the mechanical, they focus more on the biomechanical using human/animal/nature powered rather than coal/steam.

steampunk

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Cheri’s List Prompt – by Cheri

A while back I thought this would all be a good idea: Write a list. Pick a prompt. Write a story. I got as far as writing the list and deeply considering the consequences and then got distracted by a second wind in my novel-writing. Well, now that Chebk has posted her own list prompt story, it seems I must follow suit.

For the sake of competition, I have also used every prompt in my list, although I think Bradbury was an advocate of using single prompts in the beginning for creativity’s sake. (The hodgepodge of all these prompts resembles a lot of really bad stories I remember writing in early Creative Writing classes.) OH WELL. This story was a good exercise in free association and trying not to look back to edit too much.

You can all thank Chebk for forcing a “Positive Stories Only” rule on this prompt. There was also clearly a word count maximum rule. :(((((((((


The list: The graveyard in the middle of the city. The Ferris Wheel. The beach after the storm. The three girls on the bus. The paper plate. The prophet. The guava tree. The succulent garden. The demon.

The prophet and the demon stared up at the Ferris wheel. Around them, everything smelled of salt and sugar, the earthly sins of fried doughs and sharp slush of candied lemonade. Screams from the rollercoasters stretched across the sky. Children wailed and laughed and bellowed.

“Shall we?” asked the prophet, well-aware of what the demon was to answer. She was large with brown skin, huge hands, and shaggy hair dyed cotton candy pink for the occasion.

The demon ceased her teeth’s movements against her bleeding, black fingernails. Her mortal skin was a bloodless pale, a grey-white like stretched clay, eyes obsidian where there should have been whites beneath her thick black shades. In lieu of an answer, she held out her arm for the prophet’s sweaty grip. She knew the prophet would not have asked if she had not already seen the answer.

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Cheri’s List Prompt – By Chebk

Awhile ago, Cheri tried to stave off her writer’s block by reading some books and making some lists (precise details can be found here). Needless to say, I decided to jump into the torture and created a list of my own. It has taken a bit longer than expected, but I managed to complete the prompt. Unbeknownst to me, we did not need to use all the things in the list, but here is my attempt at breaking through writer’s block including EVERY PROMPT in my list:

The glasses. The balloon. The costume. The middle of the volcano fields. The dieselpunk. The underwater. The hot boy.

INTO THE FIELDS

Water drips off of his sculpted torso and glistens as it makes its way down to ripple through the pond. Isolated and surrounded by the silence of pre-dawn nature, he flips his black hair back, a void in space speckled with the droplets of a thousand stars, and spears me with his gaze. Dark tanned skin moves through the blue water until I see his hipbones peek above the shimmering reflection off the liquid surface. I hold my breath as he stops. His hands rise in front of him bearing black smoke and the smell of diesel. As the wind picks up and blows the cloud away, I see a glint of metal then —

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I wake up.

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The Writer as God?: Or Satoshi Kon’s Opus Messed Me Up

I have officially placed a moratorium on buying books. They are everywhere: stacked on the floor in towers, overrunning my nightstand in unruly piles, occupying the spare room like sad, sleepless orphans. The shelves are creaking under the combined weight of so many unread tomes.

…Buuuuut this hasn’t stopped me from dragging Chebk to the library on my ongoing quest to find something to read that won’t trigger my depression or anxiety. Thankfully, with a little help from Battle Royale, this recent trip proved successful. I’ve gotten through N.K. Jemisin’s The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (first in the Inheritance Trilogy; I highly recommend this volume so far. It is a balm after my extended time reviewing the Divergent trilogy). I also borrowed Satoshi Kon’s final and “incomplete” manga, entitled Opus.

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I first got into Kon’s work on a trip to the Big Island, during which my girlfriend brought along a collection of his movies for downtime and also because I’d somehow committed to writing a paper on them for one of my graduate classes. You may know some of his animated movies: Perfect Blue, Millennium Actress, Tokyo Godfathers, Paranoia Agent, and Paprika, to name a few. Prior to his directorial work in anime, however, he was mainly a manga artist.

Some things on Kon’s work upfront: Probably not the best things to watch or contemplate when you’re in a bad state, (probably). They’re all mindfucks because Kon is fascinated by taking apart both realities and illusions and blending them into crazy shit. Example:


Opus
is no different. It follows the story of manga artist, Chikara Nagai, as he wraps up his long-running manga series, Resonance, by killing off one of his main characters. The night before the big deadline, after inking the final death, Nagai is inexplicably drawn into the literal pages of Resonance when his characters rebel at impending deaths, the limits of controlled reality, and, of course, the masked manga villain dogging their every step.

The best part about all of this is watching the meta discussions of a writer and his characters unfold. Once his main characters become aware that they are fictional creations in a fictional world, they begin to refer to Nagai as “God.” They question whether or not they have free will with Nagai at the helm — made more interesting because this becomes a break from their predestined storyline as they yell at him, which Nagai sees as proof of their own free will. They beg to live, all the while knowing that if they go back and change their storylines their current “world” will collapse because it veers too far from what has already been published. Most importantly, they question their God, asking why their lives have been filled with such pain and suffering, only to come to the conclusion that, if it is all for the sake of a manga, then they have been hurt so egregiously for “entertainment.”

As an author who is all too willing to examine broken characters and even to sacrifice them for the sake of a storyline, this all hit home in the best of ways.

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Cosplay, Conventions, and Competitions

For the past couple months, Cheri and I have been working on a non-writing secret project with a group we’re part of called Cosuteki (blog found here).

First, we decided we wanted to go to our first local sci-fi, videogame, and comics convention because we heard that Jayne (Adam Baldwin) and Simon (Sean Maher) from the TV series Firefly (no, we will never be over it and also, no, Serenity the movie did not happen) were going to be at there. A few of us are big fans of the show and the rest are big fans of videogames in general (and Cheri and I are very much into sci-fi as you already know).

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