12.30.2006

rambo returns to asia

LatinoReview.com posted a fairly detailed script review of Rambo 4: Pearl of the Cobra. That's right, baby. Stallone ain't satisfied with returning to just one of his iconic roles (what's next—Cobra?)... he's doing a new Rambo movie too, and it brings the character back to Asia:
The next chapter finds Rambo recruited by a group of Christian human rights missionaries to protect them against pirates, during a humanitarian aid deliver to the persecuted Karen people of Burma. After some of the missionaries are taken prisoner by sadistic Burmese soldiers, Rambo gets a second impossible job: to assemble a team of mercenaries to rescue the surviving relief workers.
Rambo must face off against the movie's main guy Pa Tee Tint, the evil, sadistic Burmese major. Ah yes, another villainous Asian military figure. I'd raise a bigger stink about the stereotype, but unfortunately, the character is probably a close approximation of some of the real-life figures from the region. Also in the movie, according to the casting call, is a guy named "En Joo," one of the mercenaries on Rambo's team. Neither his description, nor his fate in the story (spoilers!), is very encouraging:
En-joo: The fifth member of the quintet of mercenaries. En-joo is a barrel-chested former South Korean trooper, an expert in explosives who barely speaks during the mission to rescue the missionaries. Expert at assassination by garotte, En-Joo flees the compound after Lewis and Reese wrongly declare the missionaries to be dead, and winds up dying in battle when the three mercenaries are cornered and shot to pieces. Lead;
No word yet on who will play either character. Keep an eye on this one... How many faceless, machine-gun toting Asians will Rambo The One-Man Army kill in this movie? Can't wait to find out. You know, it just occurred to me that I was way too young to be watching Rambo II when I saw it with my friend, back circa 1985. Edward, what were your parents thinking?

12.28.2006

naveen andrews in grindhouse


That's Naveen Andrews, looking rather badass (and still sporting the Sayid hair) in this scene from "Planet Terror," part of Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino's double feature collaboration Grindhouse. Judging from the trailer, one can probably expect the usual kind of madness from the minds of these filmmakers.

Speaking of Naveen Andrews, here's a brief story from the Honolulu Advertiser a few weeks back on the Lost actor: 'Lost' actor notes lack of screen time.

He talks about his sorely noticeable lack of screen time in the first part of this season. If you've noticed, the first six episodes focused primarily on Jack, Sawyer and Kate, leaving you to wonder what's going on with everyone else over on the beach. I hope they're not planning on writing off Sayid this season...

the return of haiku jones

Who is Haiku Jones? One short I remember and really enjoyed from the film festival circuit a few years back was Kevin Inouye's unlikely audience favorite The Tale of Haiku Jones. Very low-tech, and unabashedly low-budget, but surprisingly charming and funny.

I wasn't a big fan of Inouye's follow-up film, Wake, but it looks like he's revisiting the character of the titular master poet with a sequel, Epic. The 50-minute short film will premiere at a free screening, along with Haiku Jones and Wake this Saturday, December 30th, at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. More information on the screening over at the Hawaii Film Blog: Whatever Happened to Haiku Jones?

controversy continues over north's "chinaman" remark

Didn't know that this incident was still making headlines... You may remember back in the spring when Chicago sports radio personality Mike North asked on his show "Who was the 'Chinaman' on the mound the other day?" referring to South Korean-born Cubs pitcher Jae Kuk Ryu. The incident caused a bit of a stir, which resulted in North giving an on-air apology.

It turns out that a local high school had plans to dedicate its refurbished baseball and softball field to North, but has since decided to revisit its decision after Asian American activists raised concerns about the WSCR incident: Score's North could lose honor over racial quip.

Local school council members hope to discuss the matter and reach a decision at a meeting on January 10th. North is an ass for his "Chinaman" remark, and ever more so for his prolonged refusal to admit any wrongdoing on his part after the fact... but all this fuss over naming a freaking high school baseball field? Frankly, I don't really care...

the next canadian astronaut

The Toronto Star has a profile on Captain Terry Wong, a armed forces helicopter pilot who is slated to be the next Canadian astronaut: Not your typical astronaut. Cool for him, though the guy says he regards the movie Top Gun as "kinda crap." Blasphemy.

12.27.2006

asian american films added to national film registry

Among the twenty-five films selected this year for the Library of Congress' National Film Registry are The Curse of Quon Gwon (1916-17), the earliest known Chinese-American feature; and Daughter of Shanghai (1937), starring Asian American movie star Anna May Wong. A place on the annual list—always made up of 25 films—guarantees the film will be preserved under the terms of the National Film Preservation Act: 'Fargo,' 'Rocky' make film history

the amazing life of peter chang sr.

L.A. Chung has a nice piece in the San Jose Mercury News about Peter Chang Sr., who sounds like he led an amazing life. He died last month at the incredible, wise age of 103-years-old: Chung: Victories mark veteran's life.

the weird, random stuff on youtube

So many, many treasures found on the wonderful world of YouTube... like this BLEEPin' weird-ass commercial for Virgin Mobile, featuring an Asian family wrestling a pig in their living room, officiated by a midget referee. I know—what? It makes very little sense... I'd be offended, but I'm not even sure what to make of it. What the hell am I watching here?

Then there's the music video for 30 Seconds To Mars' "From Yesterday." Again, this one isn't quite as weird as the Virgin Mobile commercial, but it still pretty freaky, and doesn't make a whole lot of sense. All I know is, someone watched a few too many Zhang Yimou movies. Maybe Jared Leto. There's a whole lotta random swords and fighting and armor and stuff. Weird.

And here's something completely different... While poking around YouTube (don't ask me what I was looking for), I randomly came across Gene Rhee's short film The Quest For Length, which made the festival rounds (including Sundance) about five years ago. It stars Roger Fan as a guy exploring the fascinating world of penis enlargement. Yeah, you read that right. I believe this is a shortened version of the film, but it's pretty entertaining.

mugging victim in critical condition

An unidentified man was brutally assaulted and robbed earlier this week in Flushing Meadows Park in Queens, part of a violent string of at least eight other similar attacks: Police: Queens Park Mugging May Be Part Of Pattern.

The victim, who is in critical condition, could not be identified by police due to the severity of his injuries, but he appears to be Asian and about 30-years-old. More info here: Latest Victim Of Queens Muggers Beat Into Coma.

12.26.2006

new programming for azn, imaginasian

Some news about our favorite Asian American television networks... okay, so they're not exactly our favorites, but they're trying.

For all you anime fans out there, you'll be pleased to know that ImaginAsian has announced that it's launching a new two-hour prime time anime block called "Anime EnerG," featuring popular anime series from animation distribution company Geneon Entertainment: ImaginAsian TV Launches New Anime Block.

As for AZN, it's still hanging in there with a few new programs on its schedule for the new year: AZN Adds To Slate for 2007. That said, it's still a terrible name for a network.

8-year-old needs a bone marrow donor

Over the weekend I saw a news item about this kid, 8-year-old Dale Inouye of Torrance, CA, who has leukemia and needs a bone marrow donor: 8-Year-Old Dale Inouye in Urgent Need of a Bone Marrow Donor.

I did a Google search and also came across this blog with more details: Please help Dale. For folks in Southern California, they're setting up bone marrow drives to find donors. Learn more about Dale and others who are in need of bone marrow at A3M: Asians For Miracle Marrow Matches.

sikh teen lied about hair attack

Here's a follow-up on last month's news out of the UK, about an alleged hate crime against a Sikh schoolboy who said racist thugs assaulted him and chopped off his hair... Turns out, the boy made the whole thing up: Sikh boy admits his attack lie.

The kid cut off his own hair, punched himself in the face and concocted the story. The kid definitely has some problems, including cultural identity issues. More here: Sikh teen lied about hair attack

asians on your tube

Asians on TV! Couple of really random TV appearance here and there...

Remember, My Life Disoriented makes its national premiere tonight on PBS' Independent Lens. Check your local listings for exact dates and times.

Greg Watanabe (last seen sporting leopard-spotted bikini briefs in TeleMongol) tells me he can be seen as a recurring character on the MyNetworkTV primetime soap Watch Over Me. Though he plays a hitman, he says he doesn't come off too bad (since half the people on the show are evil anyway). He's in 24 of the 66 episodes. Good for you, Greg... but I'm sorry, nothing could compel me to watch this show...

Micah Karns and Eunice Cho both appear in the Cartoon Network original movie Re-Animated, which combines live-action with animation. It apparently premiered earlier this month as the top-rated original movie in the network's history.

And it looks like ABC has canceled the drama Day Break (with Moon Bloodgood and Ian Anthony Dale) and the comedy Help Me Help You (with Suzy Nakamura). Bye bye, Asians on TV.

a culturally confused christmas

Nitya Venkataraman has a nice (but rather culturally confused) piece in the Washington Post about her Indian American childhood, wanting so badly to take part in Christmas festivities, despite growing up in a Hindu home: Longing to Join in Christmas.

seattle times profiles pastor eugene cho

The Seattle Times has a brief but interesting profile on Eugene Cho, Korean American pastor of progressive, multi-cultural church in the area: Eugene Cho / Found faith, and wisdom, in 'the least of thy brethren'.

disparities in apa healthcare

Here's a good perspective piece that was recently published in the Journal of Minority Medical Students, about disparities in healthcare facing API populations, and the misconception that we're a homogeneous model minority: Over-Underserved: Asian American As An Invisible Minority. (Thanks, Steven.)

12.22.2006

the turtles are back


That's Karai, leader of the evil Foot Ninja, in the upcoming CGI-animated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. Yeah, they're back: Slow to return, teen Turtles are back! Carrying on the legacy of the Shredder... please tell me she won't be a dragon lady stereotype, even in animated form. If this was a live action movie, she'd probably be played by Lucy Liu or Kelly Hu.... or Zhang Ziyi, who provides the voice for the character.

the curse of the golden flower is a crazy big mess


What's up, gangstas? Here's an interview with Zhang Yimou, director of the super-sized historic martial arts epic Curse of the Golden Flower: Zhang Yimou Wraps-Up His Kung Fu Trilogy. And here's an interview with star Gong Li: Gong Li on Curse of the Golden Flower.

The movie opens in New York and Los Angeles this week. I recently had the chance to check it out, and I gotta say... it's kind of a mess. I'd characterize it as excessive. It has all the stuff audiences seem to really like about these big-ass martial arts spectacles—colors, costumes, swords, fighting—and lots of it. And lots of people walking up and down hallways.

Oh, there's also one crazy huge battle scene. Remember Lord of the Rings? Think Helm's Deep, but with kung fu and swords and spears and wire work and all that. And of course, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the peculiarly abundant amount of cleavage that is displayed in the film. Yes, as in breasts. (Gong Li looks pretty freaking gorgeous throughout.)

Put it all together, and you get crazy Chinese madness—Crouching Tiger, Hero, Flying Daggers, all rolled up and taken to eleven. In the end, what's it all for? The display just seems really excessive. But hey, maybe you'll like this kind of thing. Me, I'm putting my foot down. I've grown impatient with this genre...

my life... disoriented premiering on pbs


Just another reminder... the new Asian American family drama, My Life... Disoriented, premieres on PBS with national broadcasts starting December 26th. Go here to find out when the show airs in your area.

It's about a Chinese American family whose lives get turned upside down when they move from San Francisco to Bakersfield. The pilot is directed by Eric Byler, and the cast includes Karin Anna Cheung, Tamlyn Tomita, Dennis Dun, Autumn Reeser, and Di Quon.

The show's producers are asking people across the country to e-mail PBS or your local affiliate to request more air dates (with better air times—some PBS stations are showing it at 3 AM!) and to express interest in seeing the show become a series. View clips from the show here and here. Learn more about My Life...Disoriented here. And tune in or set your TiVos on December 26th.

grant program to preserve internment camps

This week, the President signed into law a $38 million grant program to be administered by the National Park Service to preserve, restore and pay for research at the sites of ten internment camps where Japanese Americans were kept behind barbed wire during World War II: Bush signs bill to preserve WWII camps.

The law is intended to help preserve the camps as reminders of how the United States turned on some of its citizens in a time of fear. I hope the current administration would similarly heed this advice.

rosie vs. trump

I've sort of decided to basically not care about all things Rosie O'Donnell-related from here on out, but the loudmouthed, chingchonging host of The View is unavoidable these days. She seems to have opened her mouth and rolled from once controversy to another—her latest, a feud with Donald Trump. Details here on their war of words. Trump pulls no punches, calling O'Donnell "a loser." And that is the last I will speak of this nonsense.

call for entries: disorient asian american film festival

Attention filmmakers! The DisOrient Asian American Film Festival of Oregon is returning for a second year, and they've put out their Call for Entries seeking works from Asian American artists. The early submission deadline is January 19th, and the late deadline is February 2nd. So get your stuff together and enter. Learn more about the festival here. The festival will run next spring, April 27th - 29th.

shady landlord get criminal charges

This week, the Los Angeles city attorney's office filed 34 criminal charges against a landlord, Joon Lee, who allegedly removed pipes, tore out windows and cut off power to his building as part of an illegal campaign to drive tenants out of the building to replace them with higher-paying residents in a gentrifying area: Charges are filed against landlord. Lee, however, says that he's the victim in all this. Yeaaaah.

"macaca" tops politically incorrect word list

Check it out... Global Language Monitor has a compiled a list of the "Top Politically inCorrect Words for 2006." Topping the list at number one is... wait for it... "Macaca," the word quite possibly responsible for changing the political balance of the U.S. Senate.

Funny, also making the list is "Oriental." It seems that some folks have not yet received the memo (somebody actually called me this last week). When I attempted to correct them, they responded with, "I can call you anything I want." Ah, you gotta love this great country we live in.

12.21.2006

new ocean's thirteen trailer


I guess Soderbergh, Clooney and Co. couldn't resist... Here's the trailer for Ocean's 13. Maybe they wanted to make amends for the disappointment of Ocean's 12 (personally, I didn't think it was as bad as everyone said). Whatever the case, the gang returns next summer.

The trailer makes it clear that everyone is back, including to Amazing Yen himself, Shaobo Qin (who looks like he'll be out of a job when they stop making Ocean's... movies). Hopefully he'll have a little more to do than just sit around this time... View the trailer here.

asian pop's year-in-review

Jeff Yang's latest "Asian Pop" column for SF Gate is the first part of his annual year-in-review, highlighting some of the reasons why 2006 was worth celebrating—from Heroes' Masi Oka to Survivor's Yul Kwon: Holiday Cheers

idiots with racist disguises get drivers licenses

All right, prepare yourself for some racist video. I heard about this last week, but I just didn't feel like posting something that would give these punk-ass dudes any more attention than they deserved—because that's exactly what they wanted. But I guess it's unavoidable: Va. Men Get Licenses Wearing Outlandish Disguises.

Basically, these two guys in Virginia dressed up in racist caricature (one guy in a spray-on hair and fake buck teeth) and went to the DMV to get their license photos retaken... and came out with new licenses, complete with their disguises. Freaking idiots. The video in question can be seen here: DMV Drivers License Prank. That's racist!

the office celebrates "a benihana christmas"

Anybody catch The Office last week? I was embroiled in the whole Rosie thing, so I neglected to mention it. Normally, I really enjoy The Office. Great show, but this episode had me cringing. In "A Benihana Christmas," Michael and Co. go to Benihana's, pick up a few Asian ladies, and bring them back to the office party.

Red flags! Red flags all around. But wait. On the surface, it looks like the episode goes for the cheap laugh, playing up the "all Asians look alike" stereotype. However, it's actually supposed to show how ignorant and shallow (and drunk) Michael is. Indeed, he can't tell the ladies apart, and doesn't know which one is "his," going so far as marking one of the girls with a magic marker.

But here's the kicker... these Asian girls aren't even the same Asian girls they met in the previous scene! I wonder how many people watching the show actually noticed. The joke's on us!

authorities identify body of missing woman

Authorities have identified the body of Jane M. Park, 24, found in a Boston-area park. She had been missing since May: Officials identify body found in Hingham park. No details on the cause of death, but police have said that they don't suspect foul play. It's pretty tragic. She was a Wellesley College graduate and Fulbright scholar, with a good a future ahead of her. My heart goes out to her family.

china restricts foreign adoption standards

I know adopting kids from foriegn countries is, like, totally cool these days, but adopting from China just got a little harder... The country plans to bar people who are single, obese, older than 50 or who fail to meet certain standards in financial, physical or psychological health from adopting Chinese children: China Tightens Adoption Rules for Foreigners.

Another recent trend... teaching your kids Chinese! Here's another article on an elementary school adopting Mandararin-language learning into its curriculum: Kindergartners tune in to Chinese. That's right, baby. Kolter Elementary School in Houston is teaching Mandarin to kindergartners. These kids are the future asskickers of the world.

12.20.2006

first japanese-born player suits up for nhl

Last week, professional hockey saw the first Japanese-born player to dress for an NHL game, when the Los Angeles Kings recalled goaltender Yutaka Fukufuji from the Manchester Monarchs of the American Hockey League: Kings Recall Yutaka Fukufuji From Manchester.

It was history in the making... sort of. The Kings played the Dallas Stars, but alas, Fukufuji didn't see any playing time. He has gone back to the Monarchs: Fukufuji Returns To Manchester

11.22.2006

masi oka's humble beginnings

Sexy Jeff Yang's latest sexy "Asian Pop" column should be of particular sexy interest to all you sexy readers out there: Do you think we're sexy?.

It's all about sexy Asian men, in honor of People's annual "Sexiest Men Alive" issue (which includes profiles of guys like Survivor's Yul Kwon, Harold and Kumar' John Cho, Lost's Daniel Dae Kim, Hong Kong pop idol Edison Chen and Heroes' Masi Oka). Sexy.



Masi? Sexy? Sure. But everyone has their humble beginnings... Here's TIME's infamous "Asian American Whiz Kids" cover from 1987, with none other than young Masi Oka (on the left, in the blue shirt):

You've come a long way, baby. My question is, who are the other kids, and where are they now, almost twenty years later? Anybody know? (Thanks, Dave)



UPDATE: Here's a link to the original cover story, dated August 31, 1987: The New Whiz Kids. This passage immediately leaps out, if only because it dates the article so wonderfully:
No matter what their route, young Asian Americans, largely those with Chinese, Korean and Indochinese backgrounds, are setting the educational pace for the rest of America and cutting a dazzling figure at the country's finest schools. Consider some of this fall's freshman classes: at Brown it will be 9% Asian American, at Harvard nearly 14%, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology 20%, the California Institute of Technology 21% and the University of California, Berkeley an astonishing 25%.
My, how far we've come. Actually, what's truly astonishing is reading the article and realizing how little things have actually changed. The numbers may be different, but the issues, stereotypes and struggles still remain. Hell, twenty years later, they're still writing stories on this same topic, only they're not calling us "Whiz Kids," anymore—we're just a plain old academic threat. Blast from the past, bay. Again, I'm curious to know where/how all these cover kids ended up. Whiz Kids, please step forward!

11.13.2006

yes, his name is fujita

Here's an interesting ESPN Page 2 story on New Orleans Saints linebacker Scott Fujita, a white guy who was pretty much raised Japanese American (adopted by a Japanese American father and a white mother): A linebacker with a conscience.

There's quite a bit about Fujita's family history, and how he has embraced his family's struggle—his grandparents were among the Japanese Americans interned during World War II. His grandfather served in the 442nd. His father was born in an internment camp. Probably not your typical linebacker's story...

9.12.2006

q & a with david yoo

David Yoo's Girls For Breakfast is one of those books I want to recommend to everyone, but I'm reluctant to tell them why I like it so much. It's just a genuine, funny story about Nick Park, an adolescent girl-crazy Korean American kid, growing up and trying to fit in as the only Asian kid in his school. The book is absolutely hilarious, true, and ridiculously embarrasing. I fear that I can relate with Nick's thoughts and experiences in more ways than I really care to admit. First published last year, the book is finally out on paperback this week. I highly recommend picking it up. Get it at your local bookstore in the "teen/young adult" section, or the usual online retailers.

I had a chance to catch up with David, who answered questions about life, writing, Girls, and other silly things...

How's it going?

It depends on who you ask. Personally, I can't complain, but if you ask anyone who knows me how they think things are going for me they'd probably look down at their feet and softly mutter, "You know damn well how he's doing, why are you putting me in this position?"

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I'm a writer and my first novel, Girls For Breakfast (Random House/Laurel Leaf), comes out in paperback September 12, 2006.

If you had to sell your book to some random person inside Barnes & Noble, what would you tell them?

Well, if they're inside a Barnes & Noble, they're probably holding in their hands a copy of Marley and Me, in which case I'd inform them that the dog dies at the end and the couple ends up getting divorced, and then I'd add, "By the way, did I mention that I wrote a book?"

Where did you get the idea to write Girls for Breakfast?

Poughkeepsie.

Was it important for you to tell a specifically Asian American story?

Editors who rejected the novel would often say, "I liked the writing, but could you maybe make Nick a girl, and in the end, could she take a trip to China or something?" Okay, I'm exaggerating, but this particular Asian American story doesn't see the light of day very often, and for that very reason I did have a vested interest in telling it. I wanted Asian American teens experiencing similar upbringings as mine to have a book they could relate to, because the fiction that spoke to me growing up were all non-Asian authors. There wasn't an Asian American Portnoy's Complaint, or The Last Picture Show, and I probably could have used it.

In a lot of ways, your book covers many of themes familiar to Asian American literature: parents, race, not fitting in... but what I like
about your book (and what differentiates it) is that it's so damn funny.


Humor is a way to write about deeper, sadder things without sounding preachy or melodramatic or overly self-righteous. Also, having a funny Korean narrator goes against the stereotype of the stoic, quiet, submissive Asian guy that is often portrayed in the media, and part of what I try to do is show another angle.

I felt like I could relate to Nick's experiences as a real Asian American guy. How much of Girls For Breakfast is
autobiographical?


34%.

The book is intended for teens and young adults, but I think it really resonates with an adult audience. What kind of reactions have you gotten from readers, young and old, Asian American and non-Asian American?

Well, books like Catcher in the Rye were considered adult because the category "young adult" hadn't been established yet, and while I love young adult fiction, I wrote Girls For Breakfast with Salinger in mind, as opposed to Judy Blume, so to me I see it as a crossover novel. That said, I feel this book is for teens for the reasons that I mentioned earlier, but at the same time I feel this book doesn't fit neatly into the category of young adult fiction, which, despite what I just said, has very specific delineations that makes it different from adult fiction. One of the things I love about young adult fiction is that it tends to cut out a lot of the excess you find in mediocre adult literary fiction, but at the same time I'm leery of how some young adult novels are so strict about the pacing and plot development that as a result they end up having pat resolutions or a blatant morality pasted into it—Girls For Breakfast has subtle revelations and depends more on voice then plot that is typically more common in adult fiction. That, and the book's steeped in everything-80s, so it holds a modicum of nostalgic currency for people of my generation. That last sentence has to be pretty much the lamest thing I've said in a month.


I'll add that there definitely has been a discernible 'specific' response from readers, depending on their demographic, and the breakdown generally goes something like this:

Adult non-Asian readers: "It was really funny!"

Adult Asian readers: "It was really sad!"

Young readers: "I liked the Triceratops."

Infant readers: "Goo..."

Elderly readers: "Do you have a real job?"

Who/what are some of your creative influences, literary and otherwise?

Literary: my former professors whose work I revere: Lucia Berlin, Steven Millhauser, Steve Stern. I'm always hesitant to list Nabakov or P Roth or other
famous writers I love, because then the person's eyes light up and they go, "Did you read Pnin?" and I'll shake my head no. "Pale Fire? Speak, Memory? Ada, or... jeez, what exactly have you read of his?" and I'll answer, meekly, "Laughter in the Dark," which is one of my favorite all-time novels, and I can practically quote it at this point, but they'll still look at me like I’m a big poser. Which I am.

Otherwise: My friends. My family. The people who live in the apartment with the big window across from my apartment after 2AM. Seth Rogen and Judd Apatow. The Vaudevillian duo from Williamsburg known as Jesse and Bo. The undiscovered talent of Ashley Simpson Shires and Josh Melrod. The comedy of Matt Hyams, etc...

Did you always want to be a writer? Were you encouraged to be a writer?

Not really. I mean, I never kept a diary or declared at age 10 that I was going to be a writer someday or anything like that, but in retrospect, I realize now that growing up I daydreamed pretty much all the time, and by the time I was midway through college I realized I had no choice in the matter. Because I'd spent all my time in my head, telling stories to myself, I'd ended up with terrible grades. One afternoon sophomore year I desperately made a list of what I did reasonably well, and I only came up with two things: I could flick beer bottle caps better than average, and I was a convincing liar. The list was obviously pointing me towards a career as a struggling writer.

What sort of advice do you have for aspiring Asian American writers/authors?

Don't be afraid of going against the grain, and don't let anyone's opinions override your own, because you are always right. Also, by year 5 your parents will finally crack and stop badgering you to get a sensible job in insurance out of sheer mental fatigue, and so you'll be home free. The thing is, around this time you'll actually start kinda wishing you had a sensible job in insurance, so you'll feel decidedly confused about your career track for a while, but if you're really meant to write you'll keep doing it.

Last great book you read?

I'm interested in someday writing a really short novel, so I recently re-read Rain by Kirsty Gunn, which I like quite a bit, but 'great' isn't a word I use lightly. Maybe I should just list a handful of the dozen or so novels that I tend to manage to read at least once a year: Endless Love, Mildred Pierce, Catcher in the Rye, Rosemary's Baby, Revolutionary Road, and Wide Sargasso Sea.

Last great movie you watched?

The Squid and the Whale. Also, this weekend I saw Showdown in Little Tokyo again, and while I can't with a straight face call it a great movie, I'd forgotten how sharp the homoerotic non-sequiturs are. Very quotable movie, easily Dolph Lundgren's best work.

Have you thought about writing for television or film? How about adapting Girls for the screen?

I think about a lot of things. But yeah, I have a couple of screenplay ideas that I will at some point get to, but I'm wary of ending up facedown in a pool (assuming Sunset Boulevard is par for the course). At the moment I enjoy writing books, because I like working things out by myself. Of course, if thrown the right amount of money, I'd do pretty much anything.

Ever consider writing a sequel? I'd love to see what happens to Nick Park in college...

I have a sequel, perhaps a trilogy in mind for Nick Park, but I have a few other books to write before I return to him.

Take a moment to plug something, anything (other than your book).

Done. Okay, that was a terrible answer, um, let's see, well I'd like to give props to books by fellow writers I dig and who I also get a huge dose of motivation from: Matt de la Pena's Ball Don't Lie, Andrew Auseon's Funny Little Monkey, and Owen King's We're All in This Together, to name a few. I'd also like to officially pledge allegiance to the musical ouvre of the now defunct The Vitamen; and lastly, I haven't seen it yet, but if it holds up to the incredible screenplay, which I own, I'd like to throw a shoutout to Michael Kang's debut film, The Motel.

Dream project?

I don't know if I'm answering this one correctly, but I would love to sing a duet with Richard Marx on national television someday. That, and my next novel.

What are you working on next?

My taxes from 2003, and the previously mentioned work-in-progress, which I'd be happy to describe, only I have no idea what it's about.

What makes you angry?

By no means a complete list and in no particular order: drivers who pass on the right; people who think the dialogue in Crash was even remotely natural--let alone timely; Frank Lampard fans; fruit flies—especially when there's no fruit even in the apartment; 90% of all auto mechanics; every band's one "Coldplay song"; that girl in Boulder eight years ago who, in the middle of our blind date, asked me, "Can Koreans have twins?"; adults who wear youth small T-shirts and play bass with a pick; people who put beach chairs in parking spots after a snow storm; people who visit tanning salons in the summer and think freckles that have their own freckles is attractive; 99% of all people in most coffee shops; people who actually use the phrase "to my chagrin," in daily conversation; Notre Dame fans during winning seasons; any kind of animal abuse aside from delicious baby calves; the evolutionary question mark that is Carrot Top; but what makes me the most angry, by far, is litterbugs. It sounds corny, but I seriously get shakily angry, even with the elderly, when I see them litter. In fact, I literally almost came to fisticuffs with a 70ish-year-old lady a few weeks ago when, while walking in front of me, she callously unwrapped a box of Merit 100s cigarettes and dropped the crumpled plastic onto the sidewalk. "Big mistake, Ethel," I muttered, as I picked up the wrapper and started chasing after her. Probably not the final image I want to leave prospective readers with, but what the hell...

8.28.2006

macaca-gate isn't going away

Macaca-gate isn't going away, not if these Three Cute Lil' Macacas have anything to say about it. Here's a story on S.R. Sidarth, the Indian American guy who was the object of George Allen's ridicule, sparking this whole controversy: Fairfax Native Says Allen's Words Stung.

Meanwhile, Senator Allen gave protesters and supporters the slip last week, canceling a scheduled visit to downtown Staunton, VA on Friday: Allen, dogged by protest, dodges downtown. Do note the awesome photo of protesters dressed as a banana and a monkey.

8.24.2006

never forget the macaca

Senator George Allen personally apologized yesterday to S.R. Sidarth for referring to him as "macaca" nearly two weeks ago: Senator Apologizes to Student for Remark.

I guess he realized that it was in his best interest, career-wise, to get past this incident. But I hope people aren't that quick to forget this, as well as Allen's racially charged past, when election time rolls around... Never forget the Macaca.

8.17.2006

macaca-gate update

The latest in Macaca-gate... So Senator Allen offered his apology to Indian American leaders: Allen's remarks called hurtful. Says Allen, "What bothers me the most of all of this, it's so contrary to who I am. It tears my guts up." Really? Is it really so contrary? How about the Senator's long association with the Confederate flag? Is that so contrary? I don't know, I'm having my doubts about the guts thing.

Meanwhile, MoveOn.org has created an online petition asking the Republican National Committee to withdraw support of Senator Allen: The RNC should withdraw support for Sen. Allen

Also, S.R. Sidarth's grandparents recently wrote a letter to the Washington Post: What Did Mr. Allen Mean?
We would like to thank you for taking the right stand on the gaffe of Sen. George Allen ["George Allen's America," editorial, Aug. 15].

It is quite shocking for a person of Mr. Allen's caliber, who is running for a second Senate term and is a likely candidate for president in 2008, to point a finger at a young lad of 20, bullying our grandson, S.R. Sidarth, and calling him a derogatory and uncalled-for name. Sidarth was only videotaping the event.

In the 1930s Sidarth's great-grandfather accompanied Mohandas Gandhi to London as his secretary at the Round Table Conference on political reform in India. We come from a heritage of nationalists and seekers after truth. Hence these remarks hurt all the more, and we are personally affected by such an attack.

BOB NARASIMHAN

MANI NARASIMHAN

Bethesda
And check out this nice photo of mad Allen protestors: Allen’s gaffe shows politics to be Internet feeding ground. The dude on the right's name is Gogol Ganguli. Isn't that the name of the guy from Jhumpa Lahiri's The Namesake?

8.16.2006

george allen denies racist remark

George Allen claims he wasn't singling out S. R. Sidarth, who is Indian American, when he referred to him as "Macaca": Senator Says He Meant No Insult by Remark.

Thank you, Senator, but I ain't buying it. When you say stuff like, "Welcome to America," you're stamping a big fat FOREIGNER label on the only non-white face in the audience. Sidarth, by the way, was born and raised in Virginia. More here: Senator denies remark was racist.

It really does speak to a common, ignorant, and narrow view of who and who is not an American. I have an extremely hard time believing Allen's insistence that his remarks were not racially motivated.

UPDATE: Senator Allen met today with members of the US Indian Political Action Committee over this whole incident: Allen meets with Indian PAC over remarks. Meanwhile, Sepia Mutiny has all sorts of good info: When in doubt, blame your staff. And of course, someone has created a line of macaca-centric clothing: The Macaca Shop

8.14.2006

the meaning of macaca

What the hell does "macaca" mean? George Allen, Republican Senator from Virginia, used the nonsensical term in reference to one of his opponent's volunteers, who is of Indian descent.

S.R. Sidarth, a staffer for Democrat James Webb's Senate campaign, was singled out during a speech last week by Allen, who called him a word that sounded like "macaca": Sen. Allen's Remarks Spark Ire
"This fellow here over here with the yellow shirt, Macaca, or whatever his name is. He's with my opponent. He's following us around everywhere. And it's just great. We're going to places all over Virginia, and he's having it on film and its great to have you here and you show it to your opponent because he's never been there and probably will never come."

After telling the crowd that Webb was raising money in California with a "bunch of Hollywood movie moguls," Allen again referenced Sidarth, who was born and raised in Fairfax County.

"Lets give a welcome to Macaca, here. Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia," said Allen, who then began talking about the "war on terror."
Allen's campaign tried to offer a plausible, excusable explanation of his remarks:
[Allen campaign manager Dick] Wadhams said Allen campaign staffers had begun calling Sidarth "mohawk" because of a haircut Wadhams said the Webb staffer has. "Macaca was just a variation of that," Wadhams said.
Nice try. Funny. But that's a big, brown, stretchy load of crap. I find it funny that they bothered even trying to come up with an explanation at all. The article needlessly goes on to speculate what the hell "macaca" really could mean, if anything at all:
Depending on how you spell it, the name Allen gave Sidarth means different things.

If spelled M-a-c-a-c-a, the term refers to a species of monkeys in the Eastern Hemisphere. "Is he saying Sidarth is a monkey?" Todd asked.

The word M-a-k-a-k-a refers to a town in South Africa.
It's obvious Allen was just mocking and picking up on Sidarth's Indian-ness, singling out the only non-white face in the crowd. "Welcome to America," my ass. Sidarth was born and raised in the United States. Hell of a coincidence he should make reference to the "War on Terror" just moments after.

We're talking about George Allen, a man who wore a Confederate flag pin for his high school senior class photo, and reportedly flew the damn flag on his car... while living in Southern California. This man is the devil. God forbid he should make a run for President. There's a clip of his speech over at YouTube. That's racist!

UPDATE: According to some comments on Daily Kos, "macaca" is apparently a derogatory term used in Tunisia in reference to blacks and dark-skinned people. It so happens that Allen's mother is from French Tunisia. Coincidence? It's a little too shady to discount.

A little more digging reveals some really ugly uses of variations of "macaque," culled from white supremacist sites: 'Macaca' or 'Macaque'. Like I said, it's pretty ugly. But it's evident that the term is a commonly used racial slur on par with the "n-word" in the United States.

Allen has since offered his weak little apology, claiming the word had no derogatory meaning for him: Senator says he's sorry for "macaca" comment

If you feel like saying a few words of your own to Sen. Allen and his people, here is some information that you might find useful:

Post Office Box 6859
Arlington, VA 22206
Phone: 703-845-3689
Fax: 703-845-7519

There's also an email form on the Senator's website. Do what you feel is necessary. Personally, I'd like to see a large group of folks show up at Allen's next gathering wearing yellow shirts that say "macaca, or whatever your name is."

7.07.2006

more on biden's 7-11 remarks

Here's an article on Senator Joseph Biden's off-color remarks about Indian Americans in Delaware: Biden comments against Indian Americans.

According to the article, this isn't the first time a Senate Democrat has insulted Indian Americans. The Hotline, which posted the CSPAN video that caught Biden's comments, got this response from Biden's camp:
"The point Senator Biden was making is that there has been a vibrant Indian American community in Delaware for decades. It has primarily been made up of engineers, scientists and physicians, but more recently, middle class families are moving into Delaware and purchasing family-run small businesses. These families have greatly contributed to the vibrancy of the Indian American community in Delaware and are making a significant contribution to the national economy as well. Senator Biden has tremendous admiration for the Indian American community. They have enjoyed a long-standing relationship of mutual support and respect."
Pretty poor choice of words to make your point, Joe. It doesn't look like he's going to apologize: Biden Defends Remarks

7.06.2006

senator joe biden's 7-11 joke

Another politician shoves his foot up his mouth! Way up. Read this over at Sepia Mutiny... C-SPAN cameras caught Delaware Senator Joe Biden happily telling an Indian-American activist that Indian-Americans are the fastest-growing immigrant group in Delaware. How fast? Said Biden, "You cannot go into a Dunkin Donuts or a 7-Eleven unless you have a slight Indian accent..." Oh no he didn't! View the footage here.

3.11.2006

Gina on America's Next Top Model, Cycle Six

Did you watch the season premiere of 'America's Next Top Model'? It's a doozy.



So, in the same night we saw Chloe win Project Runway, they also aired this season's premiere of America's Next Top Model. I got a ton of email from people writing in to tell me about the Asian American contestant, Gina, and all the foolish things she said. Who knew so many people watched this show? It was such an overwhelming response, I had to track down the show and see it for myself. So I did, and it's a doozy.

3.04.2006

asians on tim horton's commercial


There's an interesting commercial that's been running regularly on Canadian television for Tim Hortons, a Canadian chain of coffee and donut shops.

The ad features a relationship between a Chinese father and son (part of their "True Stories" series of commercials), and has apparently been airing on pretty heavy rotation, and getting a lot of attention. View it here [updated link].

Kind of touching. Now go hug your dad. This article, however, is a bit more cynical about the ad: Forget Hockey Dad. Meet Anti-Hockey Grandpa.

asian filmmakers fight back!

Here's an article about how Asian film industries are making efforts to challenge Hollywood's status as the worldwide entertainment industry juggernaut:
Asian Filmmakers Fight Back Vs. Hollywood

Faced with the threat of big-budget Hollywood productions, ethnic
Chinese filmmakers are fighting back by closing ranks and pooling
talent, money and ideas with their Asian counterparts.

The strategy: casting big-name Japanese and Korean stars with
regional appeal alongside Chinese actors to target more markets
across the region and forming creative alliances that can create
better movies and appeal to a broader range of investors.

As a result, budgets and quality are going up and, in turn, raising
the prospect of opening up foreign markets and of even challenging
Hollywood in the world entertainment industry.

The rise of Korean film and pop culture is a big part of the
equation.

Backed by a strong and supportive domestic market, South Korea has
been able to generate big productions and a host of stars with
regional appeal. Lee Young-ae, the star of the hit Korean TV
series "Dae Jang Geum," or "Jewel in the Palace," is mobbed by
adoring fans whenever she shows up in Hong Kong.

So casting Korean actors in a movie has a double market effect, in
both the Chinese-speaking and Korean-speaking worlds.

That's why filmmakers cast another "Jewel in the Palace" star, Ji
Jin-Hee, in the Chinese-language musical movie "Perhaps Love," said
William Pfeiffer, chief executive of Celestial Pictures, which
invested in the film.

"We didn't put Ji Jin-hee in just because we thought we needed a
Korean to appeal to the Korean market. We put Ji Jin-hee in because
we knew he was a good actor who could also appeal to the people in
Hong Kong and the rest of the region because they like Ji Jin-hee,"
he said.

There's a financial incentive for the diverse casts as well. The big
budget required to match Hollywood competition means films need to
garner a regional audience to recoup their costs.

"For Chinese movies, Japan, Korea and southeast Asia are our main
markets. There are few Chinese stars who have name recognition
throughout the main markets of mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong,
Japan and Korea. There are not enough to back up a movie," Hong Kong
director Stanley Tong said.

In Tong's recent film "The Myth," he cast Jackie Chan alongside
Indian sex symbol Mallika Sherawat and South Korean Kim Hee-sun.

Asian movie budgets are going up but still pale in comparison to
Hollywood budgets. Pfeiffer estimates the average Asian budget is
about US$2 million (euro1.7 million). "Perhaps Love" cost US$10
million (euro8.4 million) and Chinese director Chen Kaiges mythology
epic "The Promise" US$35 million (euro29.2 million). In Hollywood
the average is in the high tens of millions.

Another driver of regional cooperation is the potential of the
mainland Chinese market. China has a population of 1.3 billion, but
its movie market is underdeveloped, focused mainly in big cities.
The total Chinese box office in 2005 was just 2 billion yuan (US$249
million; euro208 million) in 2005, according to official figures,
whereas a big U.S. box office hit can rake in hundreds of millions
of U.S. dollars (euro) alone.

Pfeiffer said filmmakers can increasingly count on the China market
to recover their costs, with the Chinese box office covering up to
30 percent of production costs for some movies.

He said "Perhaps Love" has grossed more than 30 million yuan (US$3.7
million; euro3.1 million) in the mainland, a big jump from what
could be expected a few years ago.

The idea of pooling markets and resources within Asia is also a
positive trend because it breeds better quality, which in turn opens
more markets and encourages more investment, creating a "virtuous
cycle," Pfeiffer said.

"As the production values increase, or improve, because the budgets
have increased, because the home market is bigger and because you're
more confident that you can secure business outside of your home
market, you'll put more money into it," he said.

Asian moviemakers are also seeking new creative collaborations that
they hope will give their product a new look. Hong Kong, known for
its violent action films, has reached out to dance-driven Bollywood,
and vice versa.

The dance routines in "Perhaps Love," directed by Hong Kong's Peter
Chan, were choreographed by Farah Khan from Bollywood as India's
Hindi film industry is known while the upcoming Bollywood
film "Krrish" will feature action sequences designed by Hong Kong
director Tony Ching.

Eventually, Asian filmmakers are hoping they can give Hollywood a
little heat on its home turf.

The consolidation of the Asian movie industry comes as Asian content
becomes more popular in the U.S. following the success of "Crouching
Tiger, Hidden Dragon." Similar martial arts films "Hero" and "House
of Flying Daggers" have posted respectable showings since then.

Producer Andre Morgan, whose credits include Bruce Lee's "Enter the
Dragon" and more recently, "Perhaps Love," said regional
collaboration is a matter of survival.

"Ultimately at the end of the day the battle will be fought and lost
or won over showing the audiences of Asia that Asian production
companies, Asian producers and directors can give them product that
is as entertaining, and of a comparable quality to the foreign
language product coming into the marketplace," Morgan said.

"And if we can't do that, ultimately we should all pack up and go
home," he said.
If only they could find a way to prevent Hollywood from making pointless American remakes of Asian films.