Category Archives: Uncategorized

Back From Ashland

It was fun. The second and fourth plays rocked. The first could’ve been better, and the third was pretty atrocious. There’s an A&E article from the Mercury News about the second. Enjoy:

Emotional truth at core of `Rabbit Hole’

Becca and Howie have got it all in “Rabbit Hole.” Posh suburban manse? Check. Financial security? Natch. These folks shop at Whole Foods. They watch the Discovery Channel. They nosh on creme caramel amid gleaming hardwood floors and perfectly fluffed throw pillows. It’s a carefully ordered Martha Stewart life with everything as it should be.

Alas, life has a way of laughing in the face of our best-laid plans. All of that comfort and safety and happiness can vanish in an instant. When the couple loses their son, their palatial upper-middle-class home suddenly becomes a temple of emptiness. Little Danny, 4, chased his dog out into the street and got run over by a car. Now, everywhere Becca looks, all she can see is loss.

In its regional premiere at San Jose Rep, David Lindsay-Abaire’s 2007 Pulitzer winner is the sensitively wrought study of a family plunged into the black hole of grief. Unlike the inspired flights of lunacy for which he is famous (“Fuddy Meers,” “Kimberly Akimbo”), there is little of the playwright’s quirky existentialism here. Becca’s world may be as upside-down as any of his other heroines, but the play that frames her is a naturalistic kitchen-sink drama that follows a fairly conventional path from loss toward the dawn of recovery.

As directed by Kirsten Brandt, this “Rabbit Hole” resists the tendency toward melodrama, the teary catharsis the play can evoke, in favor of subdued resonance. While the S.J. Rep production may not be as emotionally intense as it could be, the company nails the playwright’s eye and ear for modern domestic life. This is how we live now. Becca and Howie are a cautionary tale about the agonizing slowness of mourning in an attention-deficit disorder world.

Stacy Ross’ Becca rejects sympathy. She’s a strong, even astringent, woman lost in her own pain. She sees no reason to keep her chin up to make others feel better. Ross, an actress known for palpable commitment to her roles, captures Becca’s thorny sense of isolation, but she misses some of the pain and vulnerability that would make her journey more moving. Becca builds up high walls with her depression, but it’s hard to care about the character if we don’t get a peek at the tenderness she’s trying to hide.

When Becca and Howie (Andy Murray) fight, we can feel their barely suppressed devastation. They may live in the same house but they just can’t be there for each other right now. But the actors haven’t yet fully fleshed out the characters’ emotional back story. We never get a sense of what their marriage was like before their son died.

There’s also some complexity missing in the sibling rivalry between Type-A Becca and her free-spirited, wild-child of a sister Izzy (Jessa Watson). Watson, clad in kooky, Forever 21-style couture, does add sparkle to the play’s wisecrack banter, its kitschy winks to American pop culture icons (from Jerry Springer to Applebee’s). These pinpricks of irony and wit give the play some refreshing comic relief.

That sense of humor also combats the fact that the play can feel a little flat and schematic at times. But the most potent antidote is gut-wrenching subtlety, the nuanced response to tragedy that Lynne Soffer layers into the character of Nat.

She’s Becca’s earthy, bingo-playing mom and all she wants to do is help. If she does and says all the wrong things (at least according to Becca), Soffer grounds every line in such sharp detail that it’s through her memories we get the best sense of who Danny was.

Paradoxically, the most heartbreaking moments in this production come from the least expected place. James Breedlove imbues Jason, the teenage driver who accidentally killed Danny, with such awkward freshness that he’s like a raw nerve on stage.

His painfully gawky presence underscores the unyielding honesty of the play. These are everyday people struggling through insane circumstances, just like the rest of us, at one time or another. It’s that undeniable sense of shared truth that gives “Rabbit Hole” the power to suck us in.

“Rabbit Hole”

Karen D’Souza

By David Lindsay-Abaire

Upshot: A family plunges into the black hole of grief in this sensitive domestic drama.

Where: San Jose Repertory Theatre, 101 Paseo de San Antonio, San Jose.

When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays, 8 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays, 3 p.m. Saturdays, 2 and 7 p.m. Sundays through June 10.

Running time: 2 hours, one intermission.

Tickets: $14-$56; (408) 367-7255 or go to

I’ll talk about it more in detail later, accompanied by pictures (hopefully)

Dear Abby

Joey randomly pops up, prompting me to read it.

Joey: read dear abby
Joey: it’s hilarious
Joey: XD

Joey: i was reading comics
Joey: then i flipped it over
Joey: i saw “prom babies”
Joey: and thought of jinghao

What the heck? Me??? Does the following sound like me?


DEAR ABBY: Please help me to warn your readers about an alarming trend happening in the teenage community: prom babies. I first heard about it while driving my teenage daughter to a lacrosse meet with several of her girlfriends. One girl in the car, “Carrie,” said she hoped this year she could have a prom baby. The girls were discussing two former classmates from last year’s lacrosse team who had been unable to begin college because they had both become mothers at 17.

Both had deliberately planned to get pregnant on prom night — hence the term, “prom baby.” Abby, both of the girls were studious and hard-working with bright futures ahead of them. One had been accepted to several Ivy League schools. Needless to say, their parents were devastated, and many adjustments had to be made for the new babies.

My daughter later told me that several of her other friends were considering trying to get pregnant near prom time so they, too, wouldn’t have to deal with the pressures of going to college. Apparently, parents are less strict about their children’s whereabouts on prom night and let their teens spend the night in a hotel or at mixed-gender sleepovers.

I thought this sad trend might be local to our area, but during a class reunion in California I learned the trend may be nationwide. One of my oldest friends, “Dana,” confided during the reunion that she had become a grandmother at 43 due to her daughter having a prom baby.

As prom night approaches, please warn parents to talk with their children about the responsibilities of premarital sex and the dangers of a prom baby. — WORRIED DAD IN ALPHARETTA, GA.

DEAR WORRIED DAD: Your letter was news to me. That a girl headed for an Ivy League college — or any college, for that matter — could be so immature that she’d get pregnant so she wouldn’t have to go, makes me wonder if she was college material in the first place.

In addition to advising parents to talk to their kids about premarital sex, they should also be reminded how important it is that their daughters be able to communicate honestly and openly with them.

The individuals who should be warned are the young men who will be escorting those young women on prom night. One foolish mistake could lead to a 20-year commitment to support a child before they are emotionally or financially ready for that responsibility. And all because their prom date was afraid to tell her parents she wasn’t ready for college? I’m appalled.

I’m tempted to make up some weirdass problem just so I can ask for “Abby”‘s advice. Give me ideas.

Family Guy – “Prom Night Dumpster Baby”

Archiving more stuff

I’m continuing to look through my high school documents (and prior), looking to see what I can delete, what I can digitize, and what I can archive. Look what I found:

I must’ve taken it thinking it’s one of those 15 SAT problems.

Old memories…

As I was deleting old documents from highschool (and prior to that), I stumbled upon what you see below–a self-addressed letter I wrote as an eighth-grader. It’s really funny how close to reality it is, in some ways, and how off it is, in other ways. No mocking–just enjoy, if you want:

Yan, Jinghao
Period 1, 6/04/03
Letter to Future Self

Dear Jinghao,

This is you 4 years ago. I’m writing this letter for my 8th grade Language Arts final project. In this project, I am supposed to write a letter to my future self as a senior in High School, about to graduate. This means to you!

Currently, I am a “nice to some, mean to others” kind of person. I hope I can be a “nice to all” kind of person in the future. I am good at math and science, but am hoping to improve in languages. Right now, I am not very good at swimming and some other sports, but I hope to improve in those areas.

I hope to finish calculus before my senior year and take at least 10 AP classes. I hope to have many more friends during my High School years, at least more than I do now. I also hope to be healthier because I get sick very easily, although I do heal fast. Mainly, I hope to be a better person.

After High School, I plan on going to an UC, hopefully Berkeley, or maybe even Stanford. If I am really successful in High School, I might go to Caltech! I hope that all my hopes will become reality, but I won’t know until I finish High School!

Jinghao Yan

Sniff, sniff.

Fun with my camera

I’ve been having tons of fun with the superzoom option on my 200 dollar camera (12x optical and 8x digital), and here are some examples:

  1. The notes of some UCB administrator during the speech in the (very) big auditorium. My 12×8 zoom got me this far, but that’s pretty much it. No way my hands could be still enough to get that much detail:

    Chancellor’s notes

  2. Random house way up on some distant hill, taken from a shady spot at Leland. I get some good details, surprisingly, since I was able to hold the cam steady:

    Random house

  3. Mount Umunhum (thanks, Joey), taken from Leland. If my hands were steadier and if there existed no atmosphere for light to be distorted in, this picture would’ve come out better.

    Mount Umunhum

  4. Random parking permit on a random car:

    Parking Permit

  5. Balls sticking out of the sculpture garden:


  6. Circular rainbows, taken while outside “working on physics”:

    Circular rainbow 1


    Circular Rainbow 2

  7. Two very bad images of Venus, taken two hours after sunset. As you can tell, my hands weren’t as stable as they should be:

    Venus 2Venus 1

  8. And the finale! A power structure:

    power structure

Superzooms are particularly fun to play with :) I love optics.


I must suck at them. With the exception of Stanford, all the colleges and scholarships for which I had to interview, I did not get admitted to, while all that which I did not interview for, I did get. Weird, huh?

Colleges I interviewed for, and got rejected from: MIT (waitlist=delayed rejection), Harvard, Princeton (didn’t expect entry, though)
Colleges I didn’t interview for, and got accepted to: Caltech, UCs (EECS @ Berkeley, LA, SD)

I also finaled for the Regents/Chancellor’s scholarship (and a couple alumni scholarships) at Cal, but after the interview, they decided against my receiving any of them. This is quite a coincidence, if it is one.

What does this mean? Does it mean that I’m just not a very personable interviewee? Someone the interviewer(s) cannot relate to? Someone who cannot clearly and fluently articulate (verbally) in his third language, English? (no public speaking skills, obviously!) … or cynical yet, Asian–Chinese–and male?

Or some combination of them all? <– probably that. So, anyone else suffer from interview-related problems? :P

EE/CS & Business?

Why am I taking EE anyway? I know I am a CS person, but the only time I love electronics is when I get to break it apart or when I get to program it. It doesn’t quite make sense, but I figure I’ll learn to like it later. EE/CS is supposedly the hardest, most competitive and work intensive double-major available at Cal, yet I want to add Business to that in my Junior and Senior year. And since Business is the university’s second most competitive department, that’ll be tough.

There goes free time, easy curves, and self-esteem inflation :(