August 2018 Los Angeles Culture Challenge: Don’t Miss an #OwnVoices Immigrant Film from Norway

Have you had a chance to try something new or explore a new-to-you area of Los Angeles this summer? Summertime offers some special multicultural events for Angelenos. There’s still time to take advantage!

Some exciting Norwegian film news! What Will People Say by Norwegian-Pakistani filmmaker Iram Haq opens today in Los Angeles. I saw this movie at AFI Fest this past fall and loved it. It’s a very powerful film about a first generation Norwegian teenager born of Pakistani immigrants in Oslo. The movie is about family, culture clash, honor, and shame. There were many gasp-out-loud moments in this film. It’s a thought-provoking and heart-breaking movie. I highly recommend it. It opened my eyes to a world very foreign to me, a world that could theoretically be right next to me without me knowing it. Read my full review here. It is playing at Laemmle Music Hall in Beverly Hills and Laemmle Playhouse 7 in Pasadena. Visit Laemmle’s website to see showtimes. Don’t miss it!

How will you explore the richness of Los Angeles this month?

* WEEKEND OF AUGUST 4 & 5 *

Big World Fun: Quattrosound, Ford Amphitheatre, Hollywood, Saturday, 8/4, 10:00 a.m. Hailing from Japan, Mexico, Guatemala, and the U.S., acoustic ensemble Quattrosound skillfully blends personal music influences with classical and jazz on violin, cello, guitar, percussion instruments and creative vocal arrangements. Perfect for children ages 4 to 12 and their families. Kids are admitted free; adults pay $5. Open seating, advanced reservations recommended. Pre-show craft activities start at 9:00 a.m. Families can also explore Los Angeles’ native wild animals along the Ford’s entryway gardens.

Undiscovered Chinatown Walking Tour, Downtown LA, Saturday, 8/4, 10:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Visit a temple, an herbal shop, art galleries, antique stores, and more when guided to the unique treasures — not to mention great bargains — to be found in Chinatown. Wear comfortable walking shoes and be prepared to wind your way through a myriad of alleyways, plaza stalls, and classical courtyards to discover the charm of L.A.’s Chinatown.

Family Amphitheater Performances: Delta Nove Featuring Lonnie Marshall, Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, Saturday, 8/4, 12:00 p.m. & 2:00 p.m. Get up and groove with the world funk sounds of Delta Nove and the “RUBBABoX” instruments of special guest performer Lonnie Marshall. Performance is included with museum admission, no reservations.

LACBC’s Sunday Funday: South LA, Sunday, 8/5, 9:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Join LACBC as they explore South LA and ride to the Watts Towers. They’ll visit some historic landmarks and neighborhood gems and quench their thirst and refuel their tanks at Roi Choi’s famous spot, LoCoL. This ride is a no-drop ride (no rider left behind) with LACBC Ride Marshals. Riders should be able to keep a 10-12 MPH pace. Click here for more details and the RSVP.

Mexico: Teotihuacan Clay Bird Vessels (Barnsdall Arts Sunday), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 8/5, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Every Sunday art instructors present a free art project featuring a different culture and media. All materials are provided. See website for more details.

Ecuador Independence Day Parade and Festival, El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument, Downtown LA, Sunday, 8/5, 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. The Ecuadorian community of Los Angeles invites you to celebrate the independence of their homeland with a parade, traditional music, lively dancing, and tasty cuisine from this beautiful South American country. Activities take place in the historic Los Angeles Plaza, adjacent to Olvera Street. Free admission.

Andell Family Sundays: Printmaking in Italy, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, Sunday, 8/5, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Make, look, and talk about art at Andell Family Sundays! Drop in anytime between 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. This weekly family event features artist-led workshops and friendly gallery tours and activities thematically based on special exhibitions and LACMA’s permanent collection. This month, explore the printmaking boom during the Italian Renaissance in the exhibition The Chiaroscuro Woodcut in Renaissance Italy and learn simple printmaking techniques in artist-led workshops.

Family Jam: Exploring Temple Traditions with Taiwan Academy, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Westwood, Sunday, 8/5, 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Taiwanese temple festivals feature colorful parades and captivating performances that symbolize Taiwan’s cultural heritage. Families are invited to learn about these celebrations through hands-on painting activities, an introductory dance workshop, and a live performance provided by the Rowland Heights-based STC Foundation, dedicated to Asian arts and culture.

* WEEKEND OF AUGUST 11 & 12 *

Family Amphitheater Performances: La Victoria, Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, Saturday, 8/11, 12:00 p.m. & 2:00 p.m. Building upon strong foundations in Mexican folk music plus their everyday experiences as Chicanas living in LA, this female mariachi trio performs a sound that reflects their city. Playing both contemporary songs and folk standards, the trio takes audiences on an emotional and uplifting musical journey. In each song, Rodriguez’s violin drives the melodies, Calderón’s guitarrón provides the heartbeat, and Alfaro’s percussive and graceful guitar unifies. Performance is included with museum admission, no reservations.

France: Niki de Saint Phalle – Sculpture (Barnsdall Arts Sunday), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 8/12, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Every Sunday art instructors present a free art project featuring a different culture and media. All materials are provided. See website for more details.

Family Amphitheater Performances: Dexter Story Presents Tezeta West, Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, Sunday, 8/12, 12:00 p.m. & 2:00 p.m. Join composer, songwriter, arranger, producer, and multi-instrumentalist Dexter Story on a journey through Near Eastern and African music. Informed by his current ethnographic research at UCLA, Story has assembled a first-rate group of Armenian and Ethiopian musicians to explore the theme of nostalgia, also known as tezeta in Ethiopia’s national language Amharic. For this riveting performance, the musicians will celebrate the poignant and historic relationship between these two ancient cultures. Their repertoire includes both compositions and improvisational works that explore loss, displacement, migration, community, reclamation, dignity, and release. Performance is included with museum admission, no reservations.

Andell Family Sundays: Printmaking in Italy, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Sunday, 8/12, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Make, look, and talk about art at Andell Family Sundays! Drop in anytime between 12:30 and 3:30 pm. This weekly family event features artist-led workshops and friendly gallery tours and activities thematically based on special exhibitions and LACMA’s permanent collection. This month, explore the printmaking boom during the Italian Renaissance in the exhibition The Chiaroscuro Woodcut in Renaissance Italy and learn simple printmaking techniques in artist-led workshops.

* WEEKEND OF AUGUST 18 & 19 *

Tiki Beach Festival “Ohana O Ke Kai”, Granada Beach in Belmont Shore, Long Beach, Saturday, 8/18, & Sunday, 8/19. Event highlights include Island Market Place & Cultural Center, traditional arts & crafts including tiki carving, Taste of Aloha food court, renowned masters of Island music & dance, “Night of Fire” torch lighting, fire knife dance, fire walk and Island music, kids’ zone and play areas, canoe rides and other activities, Sunday morning hula praise & worship service. Visit website for entertainment line-up.

Natsumatsuri Family Festival, Japanese American National Museum, Little Tokyo, Downtown LA, Saturday, 8/18, 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Join JANM for their annual summer celebration featuring Japanese and Japanese American performances, crafts, and activities. There all day activities and scheduled events. See website for details.

Ancient Egypt: Sarcophagus – Painting (Barnsdall Arts Sunday), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 8/19, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Every Sunday art instructors present a free art project featuring a different culture and media. All materials are provided. See website for more details.

Family Amphitheater Performances: Los Cambalache, Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, Sunday, 8/19, 12:00 p.m. & 2:00 p.m. Los Cambalache, named after the Spanish word that means “exchange,” is an East LA–based group of musicians who play son jarocho—a style of music from Veracruz, Mexico, shaped by indigenous, Spanish, and African cultures. In the spirit of the fandango, a traditional celebration of music and dance, dance along to this vibrant music!

Andell Family Sundays: Printmaking in Italy, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Sunday, 8/19, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Make, look, and talk about art at Andell Family Sundays! Drop in anytime between 12:30 and 3:30 pm. This weekly family event features artist-led workshops and friendly gallery tours and activities thematically based on special exhibitions and LACMA’s permanent collection. This month, explore the printmaking boom during the Italian Renaissance in the exhibition The Chiaroscuro Woodcut in Renaissance Italy and learn simple printmaking techniques in artist-led workshops.

Family Jam: Making Music with Nathalia / Tocando Música con Nathalia, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Westwood, Sunday, 8/19, 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. Join us for an afternoon of instrument making and live music celebrating the Fowler’s diverse collections. Create your very own maracas and drums while listening to bilingual songs performed in Spanish and English by LA-based musician Nathalia. Drop-in instrument making from 1–4pm. Concert starts at 2pm.

* WEEKEND OF AUGUST 25 & 26 *

Los Angeles’ Birthday Celebration, El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument, Downtown LA, Saturday, 8/25, 6:00 a.m – 1:00 p.m. Celebrate the 237th anniversary of the founding of Los Angeles with Los Pobladores historic reenactments, a civic ceremony, artisan demonstrations, live entertainment, and free birthday cake! Bike or walk to El Pueblo from San Gabriel Mission following the historic nine-mile route of our first settlers. El Pueblo Historical Monument is also proud to present a classic collection of vintage automobiles, low riders, and first-rate motorcycles on display in and around the historic plaza.

Little Tokyo Walking Tour, Japanese American National Museum, Little Tokyo, Downtown LA, Saturday, 8/25, 10:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Relive history and learn about present-day Little Tokyo with JANM docents. Comfortable walking shoes are recommended. Weather permitting. Buy tickets in advance. Cost is $12 members, $15 non-members. Museum admission is included. Limited to 20 participants. Buy tickets here.

Undiscovered Chinatown Highlighted Walking Tour, Downtown LA, Saturday, 8/25, 3:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. This highlighted walking tour is held in conjunction with the Chinatown Summer Nights event starting at 5 o’clock. Visit a temple, an herbal shop, art galleries, antique stores, and more! The 1 1/2 hour walking tour takes visitors to a number of off-the-beaten-track points of interest and will guide those interested in shopping to some of Chinatown’s best bargains and its trendiest shops. Wear comfortable walking shoes and be prepared to wind your way through a myriad of alleyways, plaza stalls, and classical courtyards to discover the charm of L.A’s Chinatown. For those interested, please rsvp online here.

Chinatown Summer Nights, Downtown LA, Saturday, 8/25, 5:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m. This is the last Summer Nights event of the summer. Part food event, part summer party, Chinatown Summer Nights presents an exciting hot spot for Angelenos this summer. Taste the many culinary offerings of Chinatown and LA’s gourmet food trucks; sample the neighborhood’s wares; watch Chinese chefs perform cooking demonstrations; experience large-scale, outdoor video projections; take part in hands-on, Chinese cultural activities presented by local organizations and museums; sip on craft brews and dance in Central Plaza with 89.9 KCRW’s DJs.

Great Britain: Land Art Goldsworthy – Stone Painting (Barnsdall Art Sunday), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 8/26, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Every Sunday art instructors present a free art project featuring a different culture and media. All materials are provided. See website for more details.

Andell Family Sundays: Printmaking in Italy, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Sunday, 8/26, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Make, look, and talk about art at Andell Family Sundays! Drop in anytime between 12:30 and 3:30 pm. This weekly family event features artist-led workshops and friendly gallery tours and activities thematically based on special exhibitions and LACMA’s permanent collection. This month, explore the printmaking boom during the Italian Renaissance in the exhibition The Chiaroscuro Woodcut in Renaissance Italy and learn simple printmaking techniques in artist-led workshops.

Feel free to add events for this month in the comments below. I also welcome feedback on any events you have attended. If you have tips on future events and celebrations to include in upcoming months, please email me here with details. Thank you!

What I’ve Been Reading Lately: December 2017

I’ve had a tough reading time this past month with disappointments for unexpected reasons. I need to turn that around. Once again, I’m joining Modern Mrs Darcy’s Quick Lit link-up where readers share short and sweet reviews of what they’ve been reading lately.

News of the World by Paulette Jiles

This one came highly recommended from Modern Mrs Darcy and I suggested it for my local book club. Unfortunately, I was not blown away by it. I believe it was *reading* the book that made the difference for me. I’ve since learned that *listening* to the book is a totally different experience. I enjoyed the main characters and the unlikely relationship between the Captain and the young orphan girl he was charged to bring back to relatives after having been taken captive by Kiowa Native Americans. I liked the setting of Texas post Civil War. The story introduced me to a chapter in American history that I was unfamiliar with, which I really enjoyed. However, the writing style was not for me and affected the whole reading experience. There were no quotation marks in the dialogue which made reading it more frustrating and harder than it should have been. I suggest listening to this one.


The Wednesday Club by Kjell Westö (Finnish novel written in Swedish translated to English by Neil Smith)

This was the latest book pick for my Scandinavian Book Club. And it was another tough read but for a totally different reason. I did not have the necessary background knowledge to absorb everything easily. It takes place in Helsinki, Finland, in 1938. At one point, I had to research Finnish history, in particular the civil war that happened in 1918 and left deep scars in the people. Also, I was not knowledgeable enough about the intricacies of the political atmosphere throughout Europe between World War I and II. However, I was intrigued by the main character: Matilda, Miss Milja, or Mrs. Wiik, depending on the situation. I was curious about her past, clues about which were meted out slowly, and culminated in an ending that I was not expecting. (A sidenote, Kjell Westö won the Nordic Council Literature Award in 2014 for this book. It’s one of the most prestigious awards that Nordic authors can win.)


I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World by Malala Yousafzai and Patricia McCormick, narrated by Neela Vaswani

I was recently very moved by a Norwegian movie about a Pakistani immigrant family living in Oslo whose daughter was sent back to Pakistan as punishment for her Western behavior (What Will People Say by Iram Haq). I Am Malala has been a memoir I’ve been interested in reading for a long time, and I seized the moment now to learn more about Pakistan and its people. Unfortunately, in my rush to get started, I unintentionally selected the young readers’ adaptation of the audiobook and realized it once I was too invested. Malala is an inspiring girl and the book provided a fascinating window into the culture and history of the region. I definitely enjoyed the book and Malala’s story, but I do wish I had selected the adult version.


Sourdough by Robin Sloan

After my recent hard and serious reads, I needed something light-hearted and fun. I really enjoyed Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore so I thought I’d try his latest book. Sourdough was definitely an easy and fun read – to begin with at least. I enjoyed the main character and her new life with the sourdough starter left to her unexpectedly. The casual style of writing also helped the story move along quickly. Then about 75% into it, I found the book harder to return to as the story took a fantastical turn. Sadly, I had to force myself to finish it. The fantasy elements in this book were not for me. But I seem to be in the minority. The Goodreads community thinks much more highly of the book than I did.


Currently reading and next on my list…

Since Christmas is around the corner, I’m reading Jostein Gaarder’s The Christmas Mystery, a book I’ve long been curious about. Jostein Gaarder is a Norwegian intellectual and author of several novels, short stories, and children’s books. The Christmas Mystery is written in 24 chapters and is about a boy who discovers a magic Advent calendar. My local book club’s next read is The Sound of Language by Amulya Malladi about an Afghani woman who immigrated to Denmark after her husband was captured by the Taliban. My Scandinavian Book Club chose Karin Fossum’s Eva’s Eye (first book in the Inspector Sejer mystery series) which I’ve already read so I may read The Indian Bride, another of Karin Fossum’s Inspector Sejer mysteries, instead. It received the Los Angeles Times’ Mystery Prize in 2007. But before I read either of those books, I need something light and fun. I may try Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians.

What have you been reading lately?

Do you have any books to recommend? I need to get some more enjoyment into my reading life right now.

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What Will People Say by Iram Haq: An #OwnVoices Immigrant Story from Norway

I seized the opportunity to see What Will People Say (Hva vil folk si) at AFI FEST 2017 in Hollywood this past November. I’ve read a lot of immigrant stories that take place here in the United States, but immigrant stories by own voices in Norway are unfamiliar to me. What Will People Say was a very powerful film about a first generation Norwegian teenager born of Pakistani immigrants in Oslo. Continue reading

What I’ve Been Reading Lately: November 2017

It’s been an enjoyable and thought-provoking month of reading. Two of my reads were in anticipation of author talks. Connecting books with their authors is always interesting. As I’ve done in the past, I’m joining Modern Mrs Darcy’s Quick Lit link-up where readers share short and sweet reviews of what they’ve been reading lately.

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

My book club picked Practical Magic because Alice Hoffman was coming to town to speak about her newest novel The Rules of Magic, which is a prequel to Practical Magic. Witches and magic are not my ideal reading material, but it wasn’t blatantly in my face in this book which made it work for me. I was a little turned off by the writing style – barely any dialogue and a lot telling as if setting up something to come – but I enjoyed the sister relationships. Overall, it was a good read, and having the opportunity to hear Alice Hoffman speak about the book and her other works certainly added to my reading experience. I’ve definitely put the movie on my watch list and I’m interested in reading The Rules of Magic, especially with all the hype it’s gotten this fall.


Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

I enjoyed Celeste Ng’s debut novel Everything I Never Told You and was eager to read this as well. I liked this one even better than the first one. Just like her first book, this one begins with a shocking event and then goes back in time and works its way to the opening event to answer the unanswered questions surrounding it. And like her first book, there are complicated family dynamics and racial questions. This story involves characters with interesting back stories and relationships. There are decisions with serious consequences. And there are complicated mother-daughter relationships. This would make an excellent book to discuss with friends or in a book club.


Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

This was a book I had picked out months ago as a possible selection for the category “a book with an unreliable narrator or ambiguous ending” for Modern Mrs Darcy’s 2017 Reading Challenge Reading for Growth. Then when I learned that Ishiguro had won the Nobel Prize for Literature, I was even more intrigued to read a book of his. It helped that this book was listed as the book to begin with when starting to read Ishiguro. I think the best way to go into this book is not knowing what it’s about, other than it being about some kids at a boarding school in England. For me the enjoyment in this book was piecing together what was really going on in the story. It all seemed so normal, but yet it wasn’t.


Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

In January, I made a vow to read more books by diverse authors and about issues or experiences new or unfamiliar to meBetween the World and Me was one of the books I decided I would read. When I learned that Ta-Nehisi Coates was coming to speak in LA for his tour promoting his latest book We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy, I moved Between the World and Me to the top of my TBR list. This was a bold, eye-opening, and thought-provoking read about race in America and how it has shaped American history from a perspective so different from my own. I am so grateful for the opportunity to hear him speak, and having read Between the World and Me beforehand made the experience much more meaningful.


Currently reading and next on my list…

News of the World by Paulette Jiles is my local book club’s current read, and The Wednesday Club by Kjell Westö (Finnish novel written in Swedish and translated by Neil Smith) is my Scandinavian Book Group’s pick for November. After their November meetings, my book clubs won’t meet again until January, so my focus for the rest of the year will be seeing how close I can get to completing my Modern Mrs Darcy reading challenges for the year.

What have you been reading lately?

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My Favorite Books of 2016

I’m getting back into my reading groove. I was proud of my 14 books in 2015, but it turns out I read more than twice that in 2016, 33 to be precise. A few factors influenced the increase in books read. First of all, my renewed interest in reading the previous year caused me to want to read even more, and I was constantly adding to my what-to-read-next list and always had a book ready when I finished the last one. Secondly, I finally tried audiobooks, which definitely helped add books to my completed list. It was great to have an audiobook available for runs, walks, and drives. I often found myself walking or running a little extra just to finish the chapter, and I didn’t mind if there was a little bit of traffic. And lastly, being a member of two book clubs is definitely an incentive to read.

I read many very good books last year, but there were only three books that earned the top rating of five stars, books I thought were “amazing” (description used by Goodreads): The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue, and Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum. These are books whose stories absorbed me and have stuck with me. I’ve recommended them without hesitation to friends and family and even given them as gifts. In the following list, I also included some other books that I really enjoyed, two of which are Scandinavian. Continue reading