February 2nd - Tet festival day 1: Apartment Band, Paseo, crazy hat.


One of the things I've decided to do this year is embrace my cultural heritage. Well, the Asian part of it anyway. Tet, the Vietnamese lunar new year, is coming up on Thursday. Seattle Tet Festival took place last weekend at Seattle Center - I decided to go this year. I figured it would be a good chance to test out the new camera and culturally enrich myself.

They opened the festival with the lion dance - these little 2 person dragonish things that that dance around. They're pretty sweet looking. I used to love them when I was a kid. What I did not love were the creepy dudes who dance around them, taunting them with fans. I guess they're buddhas, but they seriously freaked me out when I was little. The dragons are cool, though.

Look out!

The opening gave way to a bunch of very serious things, including singing the Vietnamese national anthem, paying respects to those lost in political conflict, and a prayer to our Vietnamese ancestors. I only have one Vietnamese relative I've lost, but I kept her in mind. It was all very calming.

Incense ceremony.

And then this guy beat the hell out of a drum.

Take that!

After the ceremony we headed over to Paseo, in Fremont, to join Matt for his birthday/groundhog's day luncheon.


For those not in the know, Paseo is a tiny shack of a Cuban restaurant, specializing in sandwiches. Not your average sandwiches, but glorious, magical, massive taste sensations that I dream about on cold winter nights. These are the sandwiches they serve in heaven. The heaven you go to if you're feisty.

The problem with this tiny slice of paradise is that it's getting to be a less well-kept secret, so you're guaranteed at least a 20 minute wait to order, and you'll likely have to eat it in your car since the 4 tables are usually pretty occupied. This was not the case for us, however, as Matt R and the rest of the Yelp squad had the biggest table staked out for us by the time we got their. Kickass!

I ordered what has to be the greatest sandwich on earth: the Cuban roast. It's pieces of slow-roasted pork shoulder slathered in the house Cuban marinade, topped with cilantro, pickled jalape
├▒os, lettuce, garlic aioli, and the most fabulous grilled onions in the world. All of this goodness pressed into a crunchy, crusty baguette equals me with my hands messy, my mouth full, and tummy happy. Don't even try to talk to me when I'm working on one of these.

Before I figured out what macro mode is.
Forgive the fuzzy.

After stuffing our faces with succulent, porky goodness, we headed back to the festival. I wanted to get back in time for the talent showcase, and thank god I did. I wouldn't have wanted to miss this:

Clap ya hands everybod-ay.

What's going on here? Well, let's go back a couple minutes. The girl in pink came out and sang a traditional Vietnamese song. It was beautiful, and a lot of the people in the audience knew it, too. It was very folksy and pretty. And then she turned to the band, and they broke into. . .

4 Non Blondes. What? No really. That "What's Up" song, you know: Hey-ey-ey. I said Hey. What's going on?

That's what I was thinking. I did not see that coming. Then they played their next song, and suddenly it made sense. They needed a segue to this:

Who am I to disagree?

Wow. We needed a little something after that - so we headed to the fooderies lining the hall, and snacked on some pastry meat things that I didn't remember to take pictures of before we snarfed. I did take a picture of this cup-o-dessert. It was green with jelly stuff, coconut stuff, and beans. It was delicious.


We then got to watch the Vietnamese Clay Aiken.


And a woman in a crazy hat introduced a bunch of kids in animal suits.

It's not a lampshade!

Scoopin up the field mice and boppin em on the head.

We ended our day with a film - The Story of Pao.

Pao: total bitch.

From what I gathered, Pao is a young girl coming of age in rural Vietnam. When Pao's parents were young, her mother was unable to have children. So, instead of dealing with the situation or sending her back to her parents, Pao's father went out and got a woman to have his babies. In most stories like this, the man's barren wife would fall to the wayside while the childbearing mistress was showered with affection over her fertile loins. In this story, however, the family takes the baby popped out by the mistress and treats her like a complete burden and eventually drives her away with their harsh silence. This is bad enough, but then the mistress comes back and does it again. Why? If they took her first baby and drove her away, I'm not certain why she thought they'd be any more gracious over future babies.

So the kids grow up and occasionally tolerate visits from "Mother Sia," the mistress and their biological mom. Every time she tries to show affection to the kids, the parents freak out and Pao kicks her. Pao is a bitch. This drives away birth mom. She steals the family cow and never comes back. Then Pao's mom (the barren one) kills herself and her dad gets really sick. Pao figures the only thing to do is bring back birth mom to take care of their ailing father. Because she really owes them a favor after all the good times they've had.

At this point we left. I wasn't understanding who I was supposed to be sympathetic to, and Pao's bitchy nature was really getting to me. Up next: Tet day 2.

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