charges dropped against chinese national in tech case

The Justice Department has dropped all criminal charges against Yueqiang "Bill" Chen, who was accused of selling technology made by his Silicon Valley employer to a Chinese cruise missile laboratory: Charges Dropped in Dual-Use Tech Case. He was indicted last year on five felony accounts, accused of lying on export declarations and illegally shipping $1.3 million in vibration technology to China in 2003 and 2005. But it looks like the charges aren't going to stick. The U.S. attorney's office has dropped the case. Once again, ain't no Chinese people selling secrets around here...

giant robot celebrates 50 issues

Congratulations to Giant Robot! The Asian pop culture magazine/brand/empire has made it all the way to its monumental 50th issue. To celebrate, they're collaborating with the Japanese American National Museum for a special exhibit showcasing ten cutting-edge artists from around the country: Giant Robot Biennale: 50 Issues. November 3 through January 13, featuring works by APAK, Gary Baseman, David Choe, Seonna Hong, Sashie Masakatsu, Saelee Oh, Pryor Praczukowski, Souther Salazar, Eishi Takaoka and Adrian Tomine.

This exhibition is the first in the museum's Salon Pop series that includes collaborative displays focusing on Asian American pop culture. Things kick off this Saturday, November 3rd with an Opening Reception at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles. For more details on the exhibition, go here. Looks like it's going to be a good time.

watch the eye online

Spoooky. Want to watch a free horror movie online? To celebrate Hallowen, Imeem has partnered up with Palm Pictures to bring you Oxide and Danny Pang's 2002 supernatural thriller The Eye. It's about a woman who receive corneal transplant surgery that restores her sight... and gives her horrible visions. It's pretty creepy, and really well made. View it the full movie here now through November 4th. Oh, by the way, it has subtitles, so deal with it. And yes, there is a Hollywood remake of this movie starring Jessica Alba due out next year. Do yourself a favor and watch the original online or on DVD.

madtv spoofs heroes

MadTV sketch from last year:

That's Bobby Lee as Hiro and Randall Park as Ando. I don't know who the guy is playing Mohinder (though I can't say his accent is any more or less convincing than Sendhil Ramamurthy's).

what not to ask an asian american woman in a bar

Spoken word artist Ivy Le offers some sound advice to guys with wack pickup lines: What not to ask an Asian-American woman in a bar. Here's her list:
1) Where are you really from? "I really am from Texas, and I don't care where your Asian ex-girlfriend was really from, either."

2) Do you ... speak any other languages? "Nice try. Unless we're having a deep conversation about linguistics while the maitre d' decants our Malbec, stop asking me where I'm really from."

3) Ching chang chong? "I actually do speak a few languages, but I don't understand Bigot. I'd tell you what I usually say to this question, but you can't print it."

4) You know I love Asian women? "Yeah, Buttercup, I could tell you were sexually objectifying me due to my race from the parking lot. You know, your fortune cookie says I will never sleep with you?"

5) What are you? "I have no words to reply, only drinks to throw."
Sadly, I think many of our sisters can relate, having been subject to any or all of these lines at some point or another. Don't even try it.

meet monolidic

Just based on the stuff posted on their MySpace page, I'm really digging the music of Monolidic. Haven't heard of them? They're based in Los Angeles, and they only started playing together a little while back—four friends who decided to do the "band thing." If not mistaken, their first show was back in March. They also got a pretty nice write-up in LAist earlier this month: Monolidic @ The Pig n' Whistle 10/6/07. Monolidic is Allen Lau, Eugene K. Song, Duane Koh and David K. Song. Check out some of their music here.

no more turban "pat downs" at the airport

Beginning last weekend, airport screeners can no longer "pat down" people wearing religious head coverings—if the traveler agrees to undero alternative security measures: Feds change security procedure for turban-wearers. It's a compromise between Sikh and Muslim advocacy groups and the Transportation Security Administration, in response to an earlier TSA directive advising screeners to scrutinize anyone waring a head covering (i.e. a turban) or bulky clothes that might be hiding explosives. Sikhs in particular worried that the policy would lead to harrassment, since head coverings are part of men's religious observance, and their removal is considered a sacrilege. This is a decent compromise, though I have a hard time believing this is going to go smoothly. And of course there's the whole supposition that a guy with a "head covering" might be caring explosives. I doubt they were thinking of frat boys with Yankees caps when they came up with this rule...

teens arrested for cambodian church arson

Last week in Utah, three teenage arsonists were arrested for burning down a house in West Valley City that was to become the site of the Cambodian Christian Reformed Church: Teens arrested for church arson. Pastor Charlie Phim, who bought the property in 2005, lost close to $15,000 in damage and has no insurance on the empty house. He's also dealt with vandalism on the site before, most recently just days before the fire, when all of the windows were shattered. The three teenagers responsible—ages 13, 14, and 15—could be facing formal charges of arson, criminal mischief and burglary. The future of the church, however, is now completely up in the air.

it's official: pearson gets the boot

Ah, it's the day we've all been waiting for. Roy L. Pearson, the asshead administrative law judge who lost his $54 million lawsuit against Custom Cleaners and the Chung family, lost his job yesterday and was ordered to vacate office: Judge Who Lost Pant Suit Loses Job. Pearson, who had served as a judge for two years, was up for a 10-year term at the Office of Administrative Hearings, but a judicial committee last week voted against reaapointing him. The panel apparently had a seven-page letter hand-delivered to Pearson at about 3:30pm, directing him to leave his office by 5:00pm. See ya, sucka. It's about friggin' time. Carefully, everyone. Pearson is out of a job, in need of some scrilla, and looking for someone to sue. He could be coming after you! Loser.


who is samurai girl?

I heard several months ago that ABC Family had ordered the pilot for Samurai Girl, a new series based on the book Samurai Girl: The Book of the Sword by Carrie Asai, which tells the tale of a girl named Heaven, who, rescued from a plane crash as an infant, grows up with an adoptive family that hides a "dark secret." And I guess somewhere along the way, as the book's title implies, she learns the way of the samurai. Crazy! It was reported earlier this month that Jamie Chung, formerly of Real World: San Diego, has signed on to star in the series: Jamie Chung Is Samurai Girl. Goodness. Oooh, a show about ancient samurai traditions and blood ancestors and ninjas and all that good stuff! Why do I get the feeling this show is going to be a disaster?

people stories: dustin nguyen, secret asian man, camille mana, amazing race, step up 2, fay ann lee, john cho

Dustin Nguyen, who made splash twenty years ago as Harry T. Ioki on the TV cop drama 21 Jump Street, is still definitely on the scene, doing some of his best work ever. You've got to hand it to the guy. I know a lot of Asian American actors today who were inspired by seeing Dustin on TV in a real, likeable, three-dimnesional role way-back-when. He's a true pioneer. This year, he's been all over the place in independent films, with roles in Finishing the Game, Saigon Eclipse and The Rebel. Here's a nice profile on him from the Orange County Register: '21 Jump Street' star Dustin Nguyen is back in action

Here's a brief Winston Salem-Journal(?) interview with Secret Asian Man cartoonist Tak Toyoshima: Ethnic Angle: Cartoonist's cast of characters is headed by an Asian American. The strip recently made the jump from being published in independent papers to national syndication. Look for it in comics page near you! If not, let your paper's editors know you want it.

My pal Camille Mana has a big role in the teen comedy College, due out in January from Lionsgate. Based on some of the YouTube clips floating around, it looks like your typical comedy of the beer/sex/bongs variety. Go Camille.

CBS recently announced the lineup of contestants for its latest season of The Amazing Race. Among the eleven teams, meet Ronald & Christina, a father/daughter team. Ronald is a vice president of sales for a paper packaging company. Christina is a policy analyst in Washington DC. Represent!

Oohhhhh snap. It's the trailer for Step Up 2 the Streets, the highly-anticipated (really) sequel to 2006's Step Up. That's right, baby. The streets. The movie is directed by up-and-coming filmmaker Jon Chu. Also, according to IMDb, Harry Shum Jr. has a role in the movie as "Cable." Can't wait.

Actor/writer/director Fay Ann Lee's romantic comedy Falling for Grace has been making the festival rounds: Falling for reality. It's playing this week at the Vancouver Asian Film Festival. Sooner or later, every New York actor lands a spot on Law and Order. And they get that dreaded question: "Can you play the role with a Chinese accent?"

Hey! John Cho was on How I Met Your Mother Last Night, playing an evil corporate lawyer trying to lure Marshall to the dark side: John Cho Recruits for 'HIMYM'. Man, that guy is everhwere these days.

And here's another profile on graphic novelist Adrian Tomine: The Shortcomings of Adrian Tomine. His latest work is the full-length Shortcomings, which has been getting quite a bit of critical attention.


"the chinese must go" cap gun on ebay

Spotted over at Boing Boing... this old, racist cap gun is being sold on eBay. As I write this, the current bid is $645. It's a mechanical cast iron pistol with "The Chinese Must Go" written on the side. Crazy, right? I'm really curious about the historical context of this thing. Chances are, it has something to do with the widespread anti-Chinese sentiment in the United States during the late nineteenth century. If so, this is a pretty amazing relic—a twisted reminder of America's not-so-long-ago racist past. Even scarier, the thought that this was probably a toy intended for kids. Ah, instilling the values of hate at a young age. This is America.

While we're on this topic, I should recommend a really interesting, worthwhile book, Driven Out: The Forgotten War Against Chinese Americans by Jean Pfaelzer. I've meaning to write about it for months since it was published back in May, but I actually haven't gotten around to finishing it (I'm kind of a slow reader). But it's absolutely fascinating, an examination of the brutal and systematic "ethnic cleansing" of Chinese Americans in California and the Pacific Northwest during the late nineteenth century. People (and politicians) basically rounded up and purged dozens of communities of thousands of Chinese residents. And the Chinese fought. It's largely a forgotten, unknown chapter of American history, chronicled here in vivid detail. I highly recommend reading it. Here's a book review from the San Francisco Chronicle: REIGN OF TERROR AGAINST CHINESE. One from the Washington Post: Not Without a Fight. And one from the New York Times: Witnesses to Persecution

asian art museum's last matcha of the season

Here's an event for you folks in San Francisco... the Asian Art Museum's first Thursday evening mixer series MATCHA comes to a close with its "season finale," this Thursday, November 1st. The theme for the evening is "Photography, Fashion + Film," with special filmmaker guests, a YouTube challenge featuring interactive screenings, media installation, and live production of short films. Sounds look a good time. They've partnered up with the Center for Asian American Media to bring you a very cool evening. For more information, go here. Spread the word.

mayoral candidate singles out "the asians"

Wanna stir up some crap in your local community? Make disparaging remarks about "the Asians." Last week during a mayoral debate in Montville, Connecticut, candidate James Andriote offended some residents when he made comments about the town's Chinese community: Candidate Was Insulting, Says Cultural Group. He specifically singled out Asians in regards to the town's housing problems:
During the debate, candidates used the term "hotbeds" to refer to more than 10 people living in a house, sometimes in violation of health and fire codes. Andriote said that with the expansion of Mohegan Sun, there would be more hotbeds in town. He referred to "the Asians" and said the area where they live and walk to work at the casino, on Route 32, is "a bad situation" and "very dangerous."

"I'm glad that there's only been two fatal accidents" in that area, Andriote said Wednesday.
What an easy way to solve your city's problems! Blame it on the Asians. And their dirty, crowded "hotbeds." Bringing up the topic of possibly building affordable housing, Adriote said, "I'm not in favor of it.... It will probably be bought out by the Asians. They'll be walking back and forth on Route 32." I have to agree with John Wong of Chinese and American Cultural Assistance Association, who said, "Those are his (Andriote's) opinions... I can understand his point, but he's not an educated guy." In other words, you don't know what the hell you're talking about.

the tila tequila tv train wreck

So, after hearing quite a bit about this show, I finally got around to catching MTV's A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila, in which a group of contestants vie for Ms. Tequila's affections. But suprise! The big twist is that she is actually bisexual, and both men and women are competing against each other for her love. Kind of like a hootched-up bisexual version of The Bachelorette. It is the worst television program I have ever seen. So it has come to this. This is no doubt the culmination of Ms. Tequila's master plan towards world domination, so far built on a inexplicable career of being famous for absolutely nothing. Indeed, it seems that anyone can become famous.

Oh, you've never heard of Tila Tequila, aka Tila Nguyen? If anything, you've got to admire her hustle. She's a "glam model" who leveraged her assets to become the most popular profile on MySpace. No small feat, sure. She then used that notoriety in an attempt to launch a music career (as well as land on the cover of various men's magazines), which has somehow all led to this reality show... the biggest waste of time you'll ever experience. Seriously, I wish I could take back that lost half hour, and use it instead to play Minesweeper. It's a big-ass train wreck. Anyway here's a New York Times story on her: She's Famous (and So Can You). And another one here, from a few weeks back: A Shot of Tequila.


lots of random plugs

This is mainly an excuse to post the above photo, because I find it pretty hilarious. I recently heard about the launch of a new t-shirt site called Awesome Creatures, with t-shirt designs featuring funny little animals. Everything on the site, from the designs to the models and the photography, was created by Asian Americans. The shirts are fun (they've only got a handful of designs right now), and the photos are funny. I was particularly amused by the Man-Creature Pics. Anyway, check out the t-shirts here.

R&B singer VudooSoul, who's got one hell of a voice, is currently in the middle of a short east coast tour, with show dates in North Carolina, Maryland, Pennsylvania and New York. If you're in the area, check his music out and get a preview of his upcoming album, dut out in winter 2008. To hear some of his smoove sounds, go here.

My man Tak Toyoshima, the creator of the comic strip Secret Asian Man, is going on a short tour of speaking engagements in the South that he is dubbing "The Civil Tour." He'll be visiting the University of Florida, James Madison University and Baylor University, November 6-8. For more information, visit his website at SecretAsianMan.com.

Singer/songwriter Scott Tang is finished with his second album, Radiant, which is now available online at iTunes, eMusic, Rhapsody and Napster. You can sample streaming versions of all the songs at the usual spots, like here, here and here. Also check out his Myspace profile here.

Operation Babylift is a documentary by Tammy Nguyen Lee that tells the story of how over 2,500 orphans came the United States after the Vietnam War, the challenges those adoptees face in America, and where those children are today. Musician Jared Rehberg, who provides music for the film, was one of those children. Watch the trailer for the film here.

Recently heard the music of The Slants, a Portland-based Asian American dance rock band with a sound they hope will melt your faces off called "Chinatown Dance Rock." They recently released an album, Slanted Eyes, Slanted Hearts. Listen to some tracks over on (where else?) their MySpace profile.

Long-time reader Christopher Wong recently opened up restaurant, Curry Up Cafe, in Woodland Hills, CA. The restaurant mixes together cuisines from all over Asia, as well as favorite dishes here in America... to make what they like to call, "Asian American fusion." If you're in the area, and you want to help a fellow reader out, head on over to Curry Up Cafe. Oh, and of course, they've got a MySpace profile. Tell them AAM sent you.

Francis Hsueh and Steven Hahn's new feature film Pretty to Think So is "a story about newfound love and the past which haunts us." From what I can tell, it's a New York love story that has something to do with the era around the dot-com boom. Judging from the trailer, it looks pretty intriguing. And hey, the lead actress Pia Shah is a friend from a while back. It's nice to see her in this. To learn more about the film, go here.

After five years of research and writing, author Irwin Tang recently published his book Asian Texans: Our Histories and Our Lives, which is basically what is sounds like—a comprehensive history of Asian Americans in Texas. Learn more about the book, and purchase it here.

Last month, Chicago Radio Korea launched its first ever English-language radio program, Ill Rated with Ilmoon Jo, an Asian American news/issues/events show described as "the Asian American mainstream experience for your ear hole." The show airs Monday through Friday from 4-6pm CST, and can be heard on 1330 AM radio in Chicago and in its entirety on chicagoradiokorea.com.


dna leads to arrest in 1984 killing

This is like, CSI-type craziness... Three human hairs collected and preserved from a bedroom where a Huntington Beach woman was sexually asaulted, beaten and strangled more than twenty years ago led to the arrest of a Canadian man earlier this week: 3 hairs led to arrest in 1984 Huntington killing. The Orange County Sheriff's Crime Lab matched the hair's DNA to Gerald Su Go, 51, which resulted in a warrant accusing him of murdering Elizabeth Mae Hoffschneider on November 14, 1984. He was arrested by police in Toronto on Tuesday. More here: Arrest comes 23 years after Orange County slaying. Gotcha, sucka! Took twenty-three years, but you've been caught.

daniel dae kim apologizes

As you've probably heard by now, Lost star Daniel Dae Kim was arrested this week for drunken driving. Honolulu Police arrested him after an officer spotted him driving erratically early Thursday morning. He apparently had a blood-alcohol level of 0.168, twice the legal limit. You don't know how bummed I was to hear this news. Daniel did, however, issue an apology—which is the best gesture you can hope for, at this point—saying he was deeply ashamed and embarrassed and would fully cooperate with police: 'Lost' Actor Kim Apologizes for Arrest
I am deeply ashamed and embarrassed by my actions of Thursday morning. It saddens me to know that I jeopardized the welfare of the kind people of Hawaii, a community that I love and call my home.

It is my intention to cooperate fully with the police and I am grateful to them for their sensitivity throughout this matter.

To my friends, family, colleagues and fans, thank you for your kind words of support. To those I have disappointed I can only ask that you accept my heartfelt apologies. I am truly, truly sorry.
While I would never condone drunk driving—it's reckless, irresponsible, and downright stupid—you do have to appreciate that his apology is genuine, straightforward, and takes full responsibility. He will have to face the consequences of his actions, and I think he's accepted that. Daniel is set to appear in Oahu District Court on November 23rd.


finishing the game opens today in la, oc, sd

All right. I've said it many times already, so I'll make this brief. Finishing the Game opens today in Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego. It's also still available nationwide On Demand through your cable/satellite operator. For all the details you need, go here. And here's an article on Justin from OC Weekly: Playing the Game. See you at the theater!

bringing the funny: pork filled players, 18 mighty mountain warriors, asian comedy night

Hey Seattle! Asian American sketch comedy troupe Pork Filled Players present their new show "Lard & Order: Pork Filled Intent," running now through November 3, Fridays and Saturdays, late night at the Theatre Off Jackson. The Players, Seattle's oldest sketch comedy group and the longest surviving Asian American theatre, are coming at you with an all-new barrage on law and order, crime and punishment and Bush and the "T" word. As a special added attraction, the Players are importing two sketch from Canada, Assaulted Fish and Disoriental. For details on the show and the Pork Filled Players, check out their website here, and their MySpace profile here. Go Maggie.

Speaking of sketch comedy... down in southern California, the world-famous 18 Mighty Mountain Warriors present their latest show "LOUDER FASTER FUNNIER!" No one is safe! Nothing is sacred! They take on Spartans. Iwo Jima films by Clint Eastwood. China (1.3 billion people and counting). The show is running now through November 11 for a limited three week run at GTC Burbank. For more information, got to the 18MMW website here. And check out their MySpace profile here.

And since we're talking about comedy, if you're in the Bay Area, don't miss Contemporary Asian Theater Scene's 7th Annual Asian Comedy Night, featuring comics Rex Navarrete and Ali Wong. This Saturday, October 27th at the Le Petit Trianon Theatre in San Jose. Two shows at 6:00pm and 9:00pm. Fun stuff! For more information about the show visit the CATS website here. And get your tickets online here.

immigrant family detained after daughter speaks out

The family of Tam Tran, a 24-year-old Vietnamese American college graduate who went to Capitol Hill to testify before Congress to urge changes to U.S. immigration law, was taken into custody earlier this month on suspicion of violating an old deportation order: Immigrant's family detained after daughter speaks out

Back in May, Tran testified before the House immmigration subcommittee on the DREAM Act, which would have allowed undocumented college students who have lived in the U.S. for five years to get legal status. On October 8, she was quoted a USA Today story. Three days later, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents showed up at her family's Garden Grove home and arrested her father, mother and brother, charging them with being fugitives from justice even though the Trans have been reporting to immigration officials annually to obtain work permits.

What's up with that? The timing certainly seems fishy. Rep. Zoe Lofgren, who chairs the House immigration subcommittee, accused federal officials of "witness intimidation" and believes the Trans were targeted because Tam spoke out. But the Agency claims they had no idea Tam had testified before Congress. Coincidence? I doubt it. The Trans actually have a very complicated immigration history, spanning from Vietnam to Germany to the United States, where they've laid down roots. It looks like their odyssey just got a lot more complicated. More on their story here: Immigrant's family detained after daughter speaks out


family fears house arson might be a hate crime

In Jacksonville, Florida, the home of the Cai family was recently set on fire by vandals, setting off fears that the arson might've been a hate crime: Family Worries House Fire May Be Hate Crime. The incident apparently wasn't the first time their home was vandalized, and this time had them wondering if they were targeted because they're Asian. There have also been several incidents of vandalism in the neighorhood directed at Chinese people. That's racist! On the bright side, it looks like the police might have a suspect, with a teenage boy taken into custody in connection with one of the fires. Gotcha, sucka. Let me guess, kid: you were bored. And you're racist!

woman sneaks into dorm, stabs ex-boyfriend seven times

I imagine this scenario in my head, and it scares the hell out of me... Anna Tang, a 20-year-old student at Wellesley College was charged this week with breaking into her ex-boyfriend's MIT dorm and stabbing him seven times as he slept: Wellesley student accused of stabbing former boyfriend at MIT. The guy apparently woke up to find Tang on top of him, stabbing repeatedly. He tried to fight her off, but she just kept stabbing. At one point, she lost her grip on the knife and reached for another she brought her—one of three knives she had armed herself with. She really wanted to hurt this dude. The couple had apparently been romantically involved for eight months, but broke up three weeks ago... I guess it was a bad breakup. More here: Woman stabs ex-boyfriend 7 times, says prosecutor

daniel dae kim arrested for dui

Ohhhhh crap. According to the Honolulu Advertiser, Daniel Dae Kim, star of the hit show Lost, was arrested early this morning on suspicion of drunken driving: 'Lost' actor Daniel Dae Kim accused of DUI. No details on the DUI, but police say he was arrested around 3:00am, booked at the Honolulu Police station downtown, posted bail, and was released at 5:05am.

Oh man. What is going on in Hawaii? This isn't the first time Lost cast members have had run-ins with the law. Former cast members Michelle Rodriguez and Cynthia Watros were arrested on suspicion drunken driving in 2005, and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje was arrested and accused of disobeying a police officer and driving without a license. Oh, by the way, these three actors' characters were all soon killed off on the show. The producers, of course, say it's a wild coincidence. But I'm sure Daniel has now become a strong candidate for those keeping track of the Lost Death Watch. Man, I hope not.

This is unfortunate news, as Daniel not only a talented actor, but also a really nice guy who I've spoken to on several occasions. I'm a fan. But a DUI is not an offense to be taken lightly. You'll probably see this on stuff like Access Hollywood by the end of the day, and it's not going to be pretty. I hope things work out for him.

eeoc to study asian americans in federal agencies

Concerned that federal agencies are not paying adequate attention to their Asian American employees, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has set up a working group to study how they are treated and promoted across the government: EEOC Turns Attention to Asian American Workers. The group will try to pull together a report by next year that examines allegations of discrimination against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who work in the federal government, how they are treated when it comes to promotions and whether they are reluctant to file discrimination complaints.

So why is this report necessary? What brought this on? According to data collected by the EEOC, of the 2.6 million employees in the federal sector, 5.9 percent are Asian Americans... but relatively few Asian Americans make it into the highest ranks of the government. I say that's worth investigating. They'll probably find that—SHOCK!—there is indeed discrimination and other workplace barriers for Asian Americans working in the government. And that's racist!

keep on voting for pk

All right, my man Paul Kim, aka PK, is in the midst of online battle, and he needs your help. He's a stand-up comedian currently competing in Round 4 (The Final 64) of the AM 570 KLAC On-Air Challenge radio contest. If he wins, he gets $5000 and a chance to co-host a radio show. He's a cool guy who's involved with some great causes, and it would be great to see him win. After exposing an internet voting scandal involving one of his cheating competitors (the guy was using a bot), PK is now in it to win it, and needs as many votes as possible. I ask you, good readers, to help him out, and vote for him here. He's under R4 A #8, Paul Kim. You can vote as many times as you want, so click your asses off. Voting ends Friday midnight. Vote, vote, vote, and then vote some more. PK thanks you.

people stories

Robert Ito has a great piece in the current issue of Los Angeles magazine on former pro skateboarding phenom Christian Hosoi, who, after becoming one of the most successful figures in the sport, spiraled into a life of drugs and crime. After going to prison in 2001 for drug possession, he found Jesus, turned his life around... and is now skating for the Lord: Heaven on Wheels

The San Francisco Chronicle recently ran an interesting profile on Carlito Bonjoc Jr, master of the Filipino martial art of escrima: Filipino martial arts, escrima, gets noticed in hands of a master. How badass is this man? Bonjoc was born with spina bifida, a congenital spinal cord defect, but practices escrima from the seat of his wheelchair or with the aid of crutches. And he could probably kick your ass.

Meet Mami Yamaguchi, star of Florida State's soccer team: Tokyo To Tallahassee: Yamaguchi Playing Big Role For Seminoles. Part of the Japanese national team for years, she was recruited to play for the Seminoles and has become one of Florida State's most valuable players, on pace to shatter school records for goals and points in a season. Check out this video of her doing some cool tricks.

Professor Edward Chang is among the small, growing number of Korean American parents who are questioning their community's stifling drive towards education and success, which has recently taken a tragic toll on the young: Rethinking an emphasis on achievement

On Monday, the Dalai Lama was formally installed as a professor at Emory University, complete with faculty ID: Dalai Lama becomes Emory professor. As Presidential Distinguished Professor, the Dalai Lama will provide private teaching sessions with students and faculty during Emory's study-abroad program in Dharamsala, India, and will periodically visit Emory. When are his office hours?

Frank Wu, author of the influential book Yellow: Race in America Beyond Black and White, recently paid a visit to the University of Utah, speaking about his personal experiences with stereotypes and quest to widen the racial conversation in America. I think a lot of us can relate to his experiences.


finishing the game opens this friday in los angeles, orange country, san diego

Okay, film fans... after a successful opening last weekend (and still playing) in the Bay Area, Finishing the Game expands to Southern California, opening this Friday, October 26th at the Landmark Nuart Theatre in Los Angeles, the Regency South Coast Village in Orange County, and the Landmark Ken Theatre in San Diego. For those of you in LA, you can meet director Justin Lin and the entire cast of Finishing the Game at the Nuart this Friday and Saturday at the 7:30pm and 9:50pm screenings. On Friday night, MySpace.com and The Usual Suspects are throwing an Opening Night party at Club Shag in Hollywood. A movie ticket stub from FTG gets you in free before midnight. For details about the party, go here.

As an added bonus, how about another ticket giveaway? I am giving away 10 tickets for the 7:30 showing of Finishing the Game, this Friday, October 26 at the Nuart Theatre in Los Angeles. Just email me with your name and phone number by noon tomorrow (Thursday). Please include "FTG TICKET" in the subject line of your email. I'll throw all the entries into a hat and randomly pick ten names. If I pick you, you get one ticket, which will hopefully encourage you to bring a paying friend or two along with you to the movie. Winners will notified by tomorrow afternoon (if you don't hear from me, you didn't win). For more info, photos, video, and updates about Finishing the Game, visit the official website here.

UPDATE: The giveaway is now closed. Thank you to everyone who entered. Winners will be notified shortly. If you didn't win, please come out to the movie anyway.

by-standing: the beginning of an american lifetime

Check out this awesome spoken word piece by Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai, brought to life as a video by Karen Lin. It's pretty powerful. This piece was included as part of the Media That Matters Film Festival. Great stuff.

tennessee governor remembers "chinese coolies"

Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen recently traveled to China on a trade mission. In an email he wrote to Tennessee newspapers while traveling in Beijing, he used the term "coolie" to describe China's industrial boom in comparison to the Chinese railroad workers of the 1800s American West:
The scale, the energy, the focus of this place is astonishing. I've thought of China as a giant, poor third world country (remember those Chinese coolies who built the railroads?) now charging onto the industrial stage for the first time.
In some circles, this is actually considered an ethnic slur. My guess is, the Governor has no idea, because he's kind of a fool. This blog at the Tennessean.com raises the question: Uh, governor, did you really mean to write that? And here's a follow-up post, with the Governor's surly retort: Bredesen shares his thoughts on historic Chinese laborers. Yes, Governuh. I do remember the Chinese coolies who built the railroads. They worked their asses off but were excluded from the photo taken at Promontory. What's up with that?

angela funovits on phenomenon

Hey, there's an Asian American contestant on NBC's new "reality" show Phenomenon, which is described as "the search for the next great mentalist." (I think that means they're looking for magicians.) Hosted by famed mentalist Uri Geller and mystifier Criss Angel, each week ten carefully selected mentalists will compete against one another, demonstrating spellbinding illusions. Ooh. One of the contestants is Angela Funovits, a medical student from Ohio, whose great-grandfather was rumored to have been a celebrated magician in China. A quick Google search reveals her Myspace page... in addition to med student and magician, she lists model and beauty pageant queen under her credits. It also appears she is the competition's lone female contestant. Good luck to her. That said, I don't have a whole lot of desire to see the show. I refuse to watch anything hosted by a guy named "Criss." Phenomenon premieres on NBC tonight.

relief for san diego wildfire victims

If you've been watching the news at all, you know that there are destructive fires that have been sweeping across Southern California, with hundreds of thousands of people foced to evacuate their homes. I was just in San Diego a few weeks ago, and it's hard to imagine such a beautiful area ravaged by fire... Just wanted help spread some awareness about donations and relief for victims of the San Diego wildfires. North and east county, especially Poway and Rancho Bernardo, have had many homes destroyed, with nearly half a million people displaced from their homes in the largest evacuation in California's history. There are actually significant Asian American communities in the area, specifically Vietnamese and Filipino American populations, that have been highly affected. Check out the information at the San Diego/Imperial Counties American Red Cross website, which has links to over twenty evacuation centers and the donations they need. Anything you can give, from money to blood to bottled water, would be greatly appreciated. (Thanks, Dorothy.)


pearson's getting the boot

Oh hell yes. Roy L. Pearson, the crazy idiot who slapped Custom Cleaners with an outrageous $54 million lawsuit for allegedly losing his pants, is about to lose his job as a DC administrative law judge. That's right, baby: Judge Set to Lose Job, Sources Say. A city commission voted yesterday against reappointing Pearson to the bench of the Office of Administrative Hearings, though he apparently tried to hold on to the job.

Brothers and sisters, it's about frickin' time. Yesterday's vote came after months of discussions, including hearings where Pearson defended his two-year record on the bench. I don't care what kind of magical defense he came up with. That dude is a fool. As we've all been saying from the beginning, anyone who would demand $54 million over a pair of pants is not in their right mind, and should not be in any position of authority to administer the law. The commission's discussions are not public, and sources say the panel hasn't drafted a letter formally notifying Pearson of its decision, which would finalize it. Just get it over with! But watch out... because he's probably looking for someone else to sue. And it could be you.

asian americans and gambling addiction

PRI's The World has an interesting story on the increasing problem of gambling addiction in the Asian American community, particularly in California, where the very first Gamblers Anonymous meeting conducted in Chinese now regularly meets: Asian Americans struggle with gambling. There's no doubt, this is a serious problem plaguing our community in an alarming, sobering way. Rates of gambling addiction among Asians in the U.S. are up to ten times higher than the general population. That's downright shocking. And frankly, the gaming industry is loving it, with casinos now going out of their way to specifically attract and cater to Asian customers. It's big money. Too learn more about gambling addiction and the Asian American community, visit this page over at Asian-Nation.

rip, lance hahn

Sad news. Austin writer, journalist and musician Lance Hahn this past Sunday. He had been in a coma since collapsing during dialysis treatment earlier this month. He was 40: Lance Hahn Is Gone. He leaves behind numerous contributions to the punk scene in Austin and beyond, as the creative force behind punk band Cringer and the prolific J Church. He also played guitar for Beck in 1994, owned and operated the independent record label Honey Bear, and was a long-time contributor to Maximumrocknroll, Giant Robot, and his own zine, Some Hope And Some Despair. More on Lance here: R.I.P Lance Hahn. I won't pretend and say I was super-familiar with this work, but it's obvious he leaves behind an enormous legacy and great influence, as well as many friends and fans. Rest in peace.

asian films at afi fest 2007

For those of you in the Los Angeles area, there are a number of Asian and Asian American films playing at the upcoming AFI Fest, running November 1-11 at the ArcLight Hollywood Cinemas. It's a pretty solid list of films. I'm particularly interested in checking out Munyurangabo, Lee Isaac Chung's debut film set in the years after the Rwandan genocide of 1994, made in collaboration with Rwandan youths at a refugee camp where Chung worked and lived. It looks pretty awesome. Here's also a humongous list of Asian films playing at the festival, compiled the good folks at APA First Weekend Film Club:
DIR: Weijun Chen
How do you build democracy in the world's largest communist community? Start small ... very small. This charming film follows the intense politicking to become class monitor of a third-grade class in Wahun Province.
Thu. Nov 8, 9:45 pm / Sat. Nov 10, 4:30 pm

DIR: Li Yang
CAST: CAST Lu Hunag, Youan Yang, Yuling Zhang, Yunle Ha
A demographic time bomb haunts China today, as Deng Xiaoping's One-Child Policy has left too few women available for Chinese men to marry, especially in the less prosperous countryside. The promise of a decent-paying job lures the naive, ingenuous Bai Xuemei (beautifully played by newcomer Huang Lu) to a desolate farming village in northern China. Director Li Yang has created a story that symbolizes an entire society caught in the disorienting crisis of radical change.
Sun. Nov 4, 12:00 pm / Mon. Nov 5, 10:00 pm

DIR: Wayne Wang
CAST: CAST Faye Yu, Henry O, Vida Ghahremani, Pasha Lychnikoff
Directed by Wayne Wang (SMOKE, CHAN IS MISSING), A THOUSAND YEARS OF GOOD PRAYERS is the story of Mr. Shi, a widower and a retiree from Beijing. When Yilan, his only daughter who lives in the U.S., has a divorce, he decides to visit her in the small town where she works as a librarian. His intention is to stay with her until he helps her recover from the trauma.
Sat. Nov 3, 10:45 pm / Mon. Nov 5, 5:30 pm

DIR: Chang Dong Lee
CAST: CAST Jeon Do-yeon, Song Kang-ho, Seon Jeong-yeob
When her husband dies in a car accident, Shin-ae decides to leave Seoul with her son Jun (Seon Jeong-yeob). She relocates to Miryang, a nondescript city with no particular appeal other than its being the hometown of her deceased spouse, in Lee Chang-dong's latest masterpiece, SECRET SUNSHINE.
Fri. Nov 2, 6:45 pm / Sun. Nov 4, 3:00 pm

DIR: Loo Zihan, Kan Lume
CAST: CAST Lim Yu-Beng, Goh Guat Kian, Loo Zihan
Inspired by true events of a teacher-student affair, SOLOS narrates the fading relationship of a couple, and the love of a mother who fears her son will never return to her. The silence that dwells between the characters brings out their loneliness as they struggle with disappointment but are unable to share their true emotions.
Sun. Nov 4, 9:45 pm / Tue. Nov 6, 4:30 pm

DIR: Wayne Wang
CAST: CAST Ling Li, Brian Danforth, Pamelyn Chee, Patrice Binaisa
A companion piece to A THOUSAND YEARS OF GOOD PRAYERS, THE PRINCESS OF NEBRASKA shares that film's theme of Chinese citizens finding the United States alienating and bewildering. As kinetic and edgy as its twin is restrained and subtle, THE PRINCESS OF NEBRASKA follows 24 hours in the life of Sasha, a young Chinese woman who is four months pregnant from a fling back in Beijing. Interrupting her first year of college in Omaha, Nebraska, she travels to San Francisco for an abortion and confront her lover's male friend.
Sat. Nov 3, 9:00 pm / Mon. Nov 5, 3:30 pm

DIR: Mika Ninagawa
CAST: CAST Anna Tsuchiya, Kippei Shiina, Hiroki Narimiya, Yoshino Kimura, Miho Kanno, Masatoshi Nagase, Minami, Hiroshi Yamamoto, Kenichi Endo, Ayame Koike, Megumi Yamaguchi
Based on the popular manga of the same name, this film details the education and early career of a popular geisha, or courtesan. Passions and goals collide for girls who seek to become the oiran, the highest-ranking prostitute who only the wealthiest and most powerful could hope to patronize. This lush and opulent vision of a lost world is a one-of-a-kind cinematic export from first-time director Mika Ninagawa.
Thu. Nov 8, 10:30 pm / Sat. Nov 10, 12:45 pm

DIR: Yinan Diao
CAST: CAST Liu Dan, Qi Dao, Xu Wei, Wu Yuxi, Wang Zhenjia, Meng Haiyan
Director Diao Yi Nanreturns to AFI FEST with this masterful film about a female bailiff who has to execute prisoners who have committed crimes of passion. During the evenings, she takes a night train to a nearby town to attend matchmaking dances. She mistakes the intentions of a mysterious man who turns up and befriends her.
Tue. Nov 6, 8:45 pm / Fri. Nov 9, 12:30 pm

DIR: Hou Hsiao-Hsien
Taiwan / France
CAST: CAST Song Fang, Juliette Binoche, Simon Iteanu, Hippolyte Girardot, Louise Margolin
With the classes she teaches, her puppet shows and her two children, Suzanne is a mother overwhelmed by her obligations. To ease the situation, she takes in a young Taiwanese baby sitter, Song Fang, who forms a special bond with her son. Taiwanese master Hou-Hsiao Hsien, working with the great Juliette Binoche, explores hisperennial themes of family and identity in a striking new setting.
Fri. Nov 9, 1:15 pm / Sat. Nov 10, 6:45 pm

DIR: Daihachi Yoshida
CAST: CAST Eriko Sato, Aimi Satsukawa, Hiromi Nagasaku, Masatoshi Nagase
After their parents die in hilariously gory fashion, the three Funuke siblings are reunited to mondo effect, reigniting rivalries that have lain dormant since their childhood. Juxtaposing an innocuous rural setting with manga-fueled mania, director Daihachi Yoshida delivers a debut film that promises a seemingly limitless career. The ensemble cast shines as the utterly unhinged family, especially Hiromi Nagasaku's brilliant portrayal of a fanatically "calm" housewife hellbent on keeping her family together.
Mon. Nov 5, 9:00 pm / Wed. Nov 7, 4:30 pm

DIR: Arthur Dong
CAST: FEATURING Joan Chen, Nancy Kwan, Ang Lee, Amy Tan, Christopher Lee, James Hong, B.D. Wong, Wayne Wang
Arthur Dong critically re-examines the history of Hollywood's construction of the stereotypic Chinese identity on film. He artfully weaves together seventy five years of film-clips with the commentary of Ang Lee, Joan Chen, James Hong and others who are reshaping the image of Chinese people in the cinema of today.
Wed. Nov 7, 6:45 pm

DIR: Ed Yang
Taiwan/ Hong Kong
CAST: CAST Cora Miao, Li Liqun, Wang An
Edward Yang attempts in THE TERRORIZER a virtual dismantling of montage theory. One of Yang's most closely scrutinized films, it ends with a shot of a novelist vomiting -- which would seem to be a none-too-subtle commentary on the process of creating fiction, Yang's included. But it's also just one more enigmatic element in what is Yang's most provocative and structurally challenging work.
Sat. Nov 3, 4:00 pm

DIR: Sherwood Hu
CAST: Purba Rgyal, Zomskyid, Dobrgyal, Sonamdolgar, Trashi, Lobzangchopel, Dechendolma, Lobden, Ciringdongrub, Oma
Something is rotten in Lhasa, a lush adaptation of William Shakespeare's Hamlet is set in the most unlikely of places: the Tibetan mountains. With gorgeous costumes and stirring performances, the film breaths new, unexpected life into one of the world's best known stories.
Fri. Nov 9, 7:00 pm / Sat. Nov 10, 10:00 pm

DIR: Johnnie To
Hong Kong / China
CAST: CAST Lau Ching-wan, Andy On, Lee Kwon Lun, Lam Ka Tung
Back together at the helm of MAD DETECTIVE, Johnnie To and Wai Ka-fai have set the screen ablaze to create a fiery action drama. This film is both a thrilling adventure exposing the dark side of Hong Kong’s police force and a fascinating journey into the meanderings of a contorted mind.
Mon. Nov 5, 6:45 pm
That's a lot of films. I also one of the festival's TALK/SHOW programs includes a conversation on movie stereotypes and American popular culture, featuring filmmaker Arthur Dong. For more information on all programs, including ticket info, visit the AFI Fest website.

things that will suck: the mummy: tomb of the dragon emperor

As we've mentioned here before Jet Li is starring as the villain ("the Dragon Emperor") in the third Mummy film, which takes place in the mysterious land of Asia. This one has something to do with China's famed terra cotta warriors. Ooh. The movie also stars Michelle Yeoh. Call me a skeptic, but I'm not really hoping for the best with this one, as it will likely feature white hero Brendan Fraser busting through China and unlocking all sorts of ancient Chinese secrets and unimaginable supernatural powers and mystical Oriental stuff. And that's just not cool. We need to protect our Ancient Chinese Secrets! Now, everyone will know. Bummer. Anyway, director Rob Cohen (The Fast and the Furious, xXx), has been keeping a blog during production of The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. Like I said, it doesn't offer much to look forward to next summer.

trader joe's bans chinese products

Ah, the China-banning continues... Saw this over at Consumerist. Caving to xenophobia, food chain Trader Joe's has announced that it will no longer carry foods imported from China, due to concerns over the safety standards of such products. The grocer plans to phase out single-ingredient products from mainland China by January 1: Trader Joe's just says no to China. According to Trader Joe's statement:
"We feel confident that all of our products from China meet the same high quality standards that we set for all of our products," the statement read. "However, our customers have voiced their concerns about products from this region and we have listened.

"We will continue to source products from other regions until our customers feel as confident as we do about the quality and safety of Chinese products."
The change apparently won't affect products containing multiple ingredients, of which some may be from China. Which, if you're truly concerned
about health and safety standards, is rather stupid. As Consumerist points out, this move isn't going to do a whole lot to make food consumption safer. It's basically just caving to customer concerns, which seem overwhelmingly informed by the xenophobic hysteria over all things China.


bay area: win finishing the game tickets right now

According to Box Office Mojo, Finishing the Game made another $14,473 during its Bay Area theatrical premiere. Not bad, considering it was playing on just two screens and up against a number of high-profile wide releases this weekend. It had the sixth-highest per-screen box office average, over almost every wide release in the overall grossing top ten. Not bad. What's more important, I think, is the impressive show of support. In San Francisco, there was good buzz and a great turnout on opening night, with folks lining up outside to see Finishing the Game and meet the movie's cast and crew. Let's keep it going as it expands to more cities...

For those of you in the Bay Area who didn't see it this weekend, I've got an opportunity to for free tickets to catch it right now, this week, for you loyal readers and quick responders. I'm giving away five pairs of tickets to see Finishing the Game at the Bridge Theatre in San Francisco or Shattuck Cinemas in Berkeley, good for any showing on Tuesday, October 23rd through Thursday, October 25th. Just be one of the first ten people (5 for SF, 5 for Berkeley) to email me right away with your name, email and phone number by tonight, 11:59pm. Please specify whether you'd like the tickets for the Bridge Theatre or Shattuck Cinemas. And be sure to include "FTG TICKETS" in the subject line. I'll let you know tomorrow if you've won. To learn more about Finishing the Game, go here.

UPDATE: Thank you to all who entered. The giveaway is now closed. If you submitted your name, I'll let you know shortly if you won tickets.

japanese pitchers lead red sox to the world series

My pal Peter, a die-hard Red Sox fan, is celebrating his beloved team making it to the World Series. He urges me to write about last night's Game 7, in which Boston's pair of Japanese pitchers kicked some serious ass. Daisuke Matsuzaka pitched five strong innings, then Hideki Okajima followed with two more... seven critical innings, and there you have it, the Sox beat Cleveland 11-2 and are now in the Series. As Pete puts it, "That's about 105 million bucks worth o' Japanese pitching in Game 7." Matsuzaka redeemed himself after coming off of two weak performances last week against Cleveland, holding off the Indians to two runs and six hits in five innings. Japanese fans (along with Red Sox fans everywhere) are happy: Japan cheers on Red Sox's Matsuzaka. Pete, did I just make your day? No. Daisuke made your day.

dvd review: ken burns' the war

I recently set aside some time to watch Ken Burns' made-for-PBS documentary series The War. It's an amazing, powerful piece of work, from the producing team responsible for the celebrated documentaries The Civil War, Baseball and Jazz. It's an epic, sweeping exploration of American involvement the Second World War, told from the perspectives of the ordinary men and women—both abroad and at home—whose lives were caught up in "one of the greatest cataclysms in human history." The War. These are not stories of the politicians and generals making decisions at the top, but stories from "the bottom up." The film focuses on the stories of citizens from four geographically distributed American towns: Waterbury, Connecticut; Mobile, Alabama; Sacramento, California; and Luverne, Minnesota. These communities could represent any town in the U.S. during the war, relaying personal portraits of ordinary people in the trenches, on the lines and on the homefront.

But let's get to why I'm talking about this here. What I really love about this series is its notable inclusion of the Japanese American experience during World War II—not presented as a footnote, or a special side nod, but as an essential, integral part of the American experience during World War II. The "making of" documentary reveals that Ken Burns and Co. agreed early on that the story of the War flat-out couldn't be told without talking about the internment experience, or the lesser-known 110th Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team. We hear the stories of regular folks who lived through the shame and injustice of the internment, and those who fought through some of Europe's most devasting battles on behalf of the United States (including the 442nd's rescue of "The Lost Battalion"). The film doesn't try to glorify the war or make heroes or martyrs out of these people... it just wants you to know that these ordinary men and women lived through it, and their stories shouldn't be forgotten. The result is a vivid, harrowing, sometimes heartbreaking journey through the war.

With the fall TV season in full swing, between the new shows and returning favorites, the thought of watching a 15-hour, seven-part documentary about World War II probably doesn't fit into most people's schedules... but I would urge everyone to make time and seek out The War (it's still playing on several PBS stations). Originally presented in seven episodes over several nights on PBS, the series is much more digestible on DVD, where you can watch at your own pace, as well as view some really insightful special features. It's taken me a long time to get through it (I got the DVD nearly a month ago), but it's been well worth it. I highly recommend checking out The War.


hillary's big in chinatown

This story from Friday's Los Angeles Times, about Hillary Clinton's extraordinary—and possibly shady—fundraising among residents of New York's Chinatown, has gotten quite a bit of attention over the internets and beyond: An unlikely treasure-trove of donors for Clinton. At this point in the presidential campaign cycle, Clinton has raised more money than any candidate in history. The article raises the question how some of Hillary's Chinatown donors, holding jobs like diswashers and waiters, would be able to donate amounts ranging from $500 to $2300 to her campaign:
The Times examined the cases of more than 150 donors who provided checks to Clinton after fundraising events geared to the Chinese community. One-third of those donors could not be found using property, telephone or business records. Most have not registered to vote, according to public records.

And several dozen were described in financial reports as holding jobs -- including dishwasher, server or chef -- that would normally make it difficult to donate amounts ranging from $500 to the legal maximum of $2,300 per election.

Of 74 residents of New York's Chinatown, Flushing, the Bronx or Brooklyn that The Times called or visited, only 24 could be reached for comment.

Many said they gave to Clinton because they were instructed to do so by local association leaders. Some said they wanted help on immigration concerns. And several spoke of the pride they felt by being associated with a powerful figure such as Clinton.
The article examines Clinton's influence and popularity among folks in the Chinese community, and whether it's possible for an area with a median family income of $21,000 to donate the amount of money Clinton has supposedly received. Basically, there's a question of whether something shady is going down in Chinatown. Because, you know, the Chinese are sneaky like that. Right?

Why is it that every time Chinese people and campaign fundraising are uttered in the same breath, there's this reckless suspicion that something mysterious and underhanded is going on? Why does this LA Times story spend so much time insinuating that something is not quite right, going into hints of organized crime, mystery donors, and whether or not a person can understand English? Why not just come out and say it, instead of hiding behind this biased-ass story? You think something illicit is going on. Hell, maybe something is. But I'm inclined to believe that this community, and this money, wouldn't receive half as much scrutiny—from reporters across the country—if we weren't talking about Chinatown. That's racist! Here is Congressman Mike Honda's reaction to the LA Times article: Honda Statement on L.A. Time Campaign Donor Story.

harold and kumar escape from guantanamo bay

There's been a lot of John Cho news around here lately... not only was it recently announced that he'd be playing Sulu in next year's movie revamp of Star Trek, he stars in Michael Kang's gangster drama West 32nd, and made an appearance last week on Ugly Betty. He played Kenny, Henry's goofy co-worker. (Yes, I watch the show sometimes.) Now, we get word that the upcoming Harold and Kumar sequel has a new title: Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay. You get the idea. Like the first movie, it's a very clear, succinct summation of what happens to our two stoner heroes in the movie. And of course, hilarity ensues... (By the way, co-star Kal Penn ain't doing too bad either, having recently landed a gig as a series regular on Fox's medical drama House.)

bobby jindal elected governor of louisiana

Bobby Jindal is the new governor of Louisiana. Yesterday, the Republican congressman easily defeated 11 opponents and became the state's first nonwhite governor since Reconstruction—and the very first Indian American governor in the United States: Indian immigrants' son new La. governor. The son of immigrants from India, he'll also be the nation's youngest governor, at age 36. He had 53 percent with 625,036 votes, which was more than enough to win the election outright and avoid a runoff.

I'm not much of a fan of this guy. While it's good to see some color up in that office... the guy's conservative politics couldn't be more divergent from mine. Still, good luck to him, considering all of the crazy hurdles and challenges that he now faces leading the nation's poorest, most uneducated and most unhealthy state, by a number of important measures. He's got his job cut out for him. More here: Indian-American Elected Louisiana's Governor


finishing the game opens in the bay area

This is it, Bay Area. Justin Lin's Finishing the Game opens today at the Shattuck Cinemas in Berkeley, and the Bridge Theatre in San Francisco. For those of you catching the movie at the Bridge Theatre, the Center for Asian American Media will introduce the film and moderate Q&As with Justin Co. There's also an opening night party at Club Six tonight with the cast and crew, featuring a performance by the Far East Movement. Details on the flyer above. Be there! Next week: Los Angeles.

asian nerd stereotype in "zits"

This is today's edition of the comic strip Zits, by Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman. Yes, that is indeed a four-eyed, bowl-haircut guy named "Nguyen" lugging that giant backpack, presumably filled with books. Whaaaaat?

be asian for halloween

Well, we are fast approaching Halloween, the only day of the year when regular folks have an excuse to dress up like skanks and prostitutes, then go to work the next day like nothing happened. Seriously, your co-worker who sits in the cubicle next to the copy machine? She was a Sexy Cop last Halloween. Complete with handcuffs. Note: you can add "Sexy" to any profession and instantly have a costume idea. Cop, Nurse, Maid, Plumber. They all work. Anyway.

Halloween is also the time of year where we see all sorts of lame, racist costumes. You, too, can be Asian for Halloween! For instance, the Asian Princess Costume, available at Target. Or how about the China Woman Costume. There's also the Sexy Giesha Glam Costume. And my favorite, the Oriental Delight Costume: "Try out something exotic and erotic with Forplay's Oriental Delight. This sexy, Asian inspired dress features tied-up sides, a V-Neck neckline and authentic Asian accents. Fancy fan also included." Fancy fan? Awesome! Ugh.


10 questions for councilman john liu

The New York Daily News has 10 questions for Councilman John Liu:
1. What do you like about your work?

I would not characterize what I do as work. I have a dream job. I wake up every morning excited about the things I get to do.

2. What is the greatest issue facing your district?

To greatly expand mass transit. The Second Ave. T train subway line covering 60th to 100th Sts. (in Manhattan) is being built; the 7 train line extension is in the works. We'll also try to extend the express bus service.

3. What legislation do you want to pass in the near future?

To expand yellow-cab service to more people in the city, especially people who don't live in the met. Hopefully it'll reach the Senate in the fall.

4. What issues has the mayor overlooked in your district?

We desperately need a high school in the Flushing area. The existing high schools are extremely overcrowded. The ideal site is next to the Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.

5. What does it mean to be the first Asian-American elected city official?

It's not something I think about very often. I'm accustomed to being Asian-American; I've been that my whole life. People have a lot more in common than they have different. That's what I've always tried to emphasize.

6. How did you decide to get into politics?

I have been a community board member and the president of a local civic association. I just got elected into public office somehow.

7. What was the most important part of your education?

Just being in New York City public schools my whole life, from kindergarten through 12th grade. It's really a proud thing to be a product of N.Y.C. public schools.

8. What are your favorite places to eat?

I have breakfast with my 6-year-old son Joey at home before taking him to school. I haven't had lunch for several years, but I enjoy dinner with my wife at Olivo's, a Spanish place in Astoria. They have the best paella.

9. What's your favorite hang-out?

I go to Kissena Park with my son so he can ride his bike and play soccer.

10. What is your main goal in office and what do you hope to leave with?

My goal is increasing the accountability of municipal government to city residents and demanding more accountability from the MTA. When I leave, I want to say I gave my 110%, so the city and my hometown of Flushing are better off.
He's busy man with a plan. Learn more about Councilman Liu here.

big long entry about film festivals

While the San Diego Asian Film Festival came to a close tonight, the 27th Hawaii International Film Festival is just starting up. I got to attend last year, and had an absolute blast. Not only is it beautiful there, along with some awesome weather, they've put together a top-notch program of films. The festival has been called the "premiere American showcase for Asian films," though its program isn't limited to Asian cinema. The program includes everything from the new John Cusack movie to the latest from Johnnie To. They've also included films from Asian American artists like Grace Lee's American Zombie, Justin Lin's Finishing the Game, Michael Kang's West 32nd, Gina Kim's Never Forever, and a ton of other great films. If you're going to the festival, you've probably already made your plans... and you're in for some fun. The festival runs now through October 28.

Speaking of film festivals... Canada, get ready. Coming soon, there's the 11th Annual Vancouver Asian Film Festival, running November 1-4. And soon after, there's the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival, running November 14-18. Mark your calendars.

Also... attention, filmmakers. It's time for you to submit your films and videos—short, feature, narrative, documentary, whatever—to VC Filmfest 2008. VC is now accepting entries for the 24th Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, happening May 1-8, 2008 at the Directors Guild of America, Aratani/Japan America Theatre, and additional venues in LA. Click here to begin the submission process via Withoutabox.com. Submit your work right now through December 21st. Check back later at the VC website further details about the festival.

And check it out... Asian CineVision is proud to announce the 2007-08 National Festival Tour from the 30th Asian American International Film Festival. It's only touring festival its kind in the United States, showcasing select features, shorts, documentaries and experimental works from the previous year's festival. This year, they're offering rental of more than 50 films from the 2007 AAIFF. How cool is that? It's basically an opportunity to bring Asian American film programming to your organization, community or school that your audience may not be able see elsewhere. Maybe you can't make it to any of the film festivals I talk about here all the time. Some of the available films in the festival including Chris Chan Lee's Undoing, Joy Dietrich's Tie a Yellow Ribbon, and Lisette Marie Flanary's Na Kamalei: The Men of Hula, among others, as well as a variety of short films. For more information about Asian CineVision's 2007-08 National Festival Tour, go here.

hedge funds and hormone pills

Heard about this weird-ass story last week out of New York, where it was apparently all over the news... According to a lawsuit, SAC Capital, one of the world's richest and most secretive hedge funds, is allegedly telling its traders to swallow female hormones to trade better: TRADING PLACES. What the hell? One of the top bosses at SAC, Ping Jiang, criticized traders for being too aggressive, and insisted that they use "a soft feminine touch" to score in their trading pitches. How feminine? A junior trader, Andrew Z. Tong, claims that the boss demanded he take take female hormone pills... which apparently caused him to start wearing dresses, grow distant from his wife, and begin a sexual relationship with Jiang. Oh, the things people will do to climb that ladder.

Jiang is listed by Trader Monthly magazine as one of Wall Street's top 100 traders, with an estimated income of $100 million a year... so maybe his feminine touch is working. But I guess Tong isn't cool with their arrangement anymore. He has filed a sexual harrassment case against his boss, claiming the hormone pills wrecked his life and made him impotent with his wife, who wanted to have a baby. Dude, I don't care how much you're getting paid... this is just too bizarre. But you know what? Something tells me this stopped being about money a long time ago. More on the sexual harrassment case here: Trader's Sex/Hormones Claims Being Investigated

sdaff: closing night

San Diegooooooooo! It's been another great year for the San Diego Asian Film Festival. It's time say goodbye, good job, and see you next year... but not without one last screening. The festival goes out with a bang tonight with the Closing Night screening of my man Michael Kang's Korean American gangster drama West 32nd, starring John Cho, Grace Park, Jun Kim and Jane Kim. Tonight, 7:00pm at the UltraStar Mission Valley Theater. But wait! A second screening at 9:15 has also been added. And yes, star John Cho is confirmed to attend. For more details on the screening, as well as ticket info, go here. View the movie's trailer here. And read an interview with director Michael Kang here.

dunkin' donuts sued for discrimination

In Chicago, an Indian American couple whose U.S. franchise agreement with Dunkin' Donuts is being terminated is accusing the company of racial discrimination: Dunkin' Donuts sued for discrimination. Mahendra and Nita Patel's counterclaim against Dunkin' Donuts charges that the company came up with false and baseless reasons to terminate contracts with primarily "brown skin, first generation American" franchises or to force them to sell the franchise back to Dunkin' Donuts or a Caucasian operators for less than the fair market price. That's racist! The company says no way. We shall see.

tad nakamura's pilgrimage on dvd

Oh wow, I almost forgot about this. Check it out... Tad Nakamura's award-winning short documentary Pilgrimage was recently released on DVD. It's an important film that that tells the inspiring community story of how a wartime internment camp has been transformed into a current day symbol of retrospection and solidarity:
Although there are now numerous films on the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II, this dark chapter of American history lay virtually forgotten until 1969 when two young Japanese Americans set out to find a place called Manzanar and ended up creating an annual event that has since attracted thousands of people. Calling it a "pilgrimage," it was the first public event in the nation to call attention to the reality of the WWII concentration camp experience that had almost been deleted from public understanding.

With a hip music track, never-before-seen archival footage and a story-telling style that features both old and new pilgrims, Pilgrimage is the first film to show how the WWII camps were reclaimed by the children of its victims and how the Manzanar Pilgrimage now has fresh meaning for diverse generations of people who realize that when the US government herded thousands of innocent Americans into what the government itself called concentration camps, it was failure of democracy that would affect all Americans. As the U.S. is again in tumultuous times, Pilgrimage is a timely and engaging film that brings new and much-needed insight to the lessons of the past for our post 9/11 world.
Mixing archival footage, a hip soundtrack and a fresh visual style, it's a powerful, moving film with a story that needs be seen by as many people as possible. I can't tell you how valuable I think this film is. Special features include never-before-seen archival footage of the 1969 Pilgrimage to Manzanar, the 36th annual Manzanar Pilgrimage, Breaking the Fast: Gathering for Ramadan in Little Tokyo, additional interviews, and a discussion and resource guide. So get your hands on this DVD! Purchase it here. Then spread the word.

hate crime charges dropped in beating case

This is some crazy news out of Florida... Prosecutors plan to drop hate crime charges against several young men arrested in connection with an alleged beating of a black student at Florida International University during a late-night brawl last month: Hate-crime charges dropped in beating case. The victim told prosecutors he never felt the Asian American teenager who used a supposed racial slur targeted him because he is black. What? The teen, known as "Chino," apparently uttered the "n-word" more in the hip hop way than the Michael Richards way, making it difficult to prove it was a hate crime. It's kind of stunning, and stupid, but I can believe it:
The victim, freshman Stephen Barrett, 18, told prosecutors he never felt the teenager who used a supposed racial slur targeted him because he is black.

That Asian-American teen, whose name was not released, uttered the word "nigga" more as a hip-hop cultural slang than racial insult, prosecutors believe, making it difficult to prove it was a hate crime.

The drama began on Sept. 23 when Barrett and two pals were returning from a keg party on an island off Haulover Park Marina.

On the way back, the boat was too crowded and the operator told some people to get off.

The teenager, known as Chino, yelled out at Barrett "Nigga get off the boat, nigga" and swung at Barrett, who swung back, Barrett told prosecutors.

Words were exchanged. Someone yelled that they should fight one on one.

Barrett and his pals got off the boat and 15 minutes later, the teenagers were at the marina waiting. A series of brawls broke out, but authorities now say no one ever tried to drown Barrett.
Okay, this situation is weird already, with the crowded boat and stuff. But if the victim believes the altercation wasn't racially motivated, what actually happened here? I'm afraid this guy Chino has appropriated the "n-word" into his vernacular in a way that I'd never touch with ten-foot pole. Jesse Jackson's worst nightmare.

shekhar kapur's elizabeth: the golden age

Here's an interesting article on Indian director Shekhar Kapur, whose latest film Elizabeth: The Golden Age is now playing in theaters: 'Elizabeth' Director Brings Indian Sensibility to Work. If it isn't obvious, the movie is a sequel to the 1998 film Elizabeth, with Cate Blanchett reprising the role that made her famous. I haven't seen it, but I've heard the Golden Age is a little slow and not all that great... but everything sure looks pretty.

casino pit boss sues union for slander

In Atlantic City, a Hilton pit boss and his wife are suing the United Auto Workers for $100 million, claiming the union libeled, slandered and intentionally caused them emotional distress during an organizaing drive at the Atlantic City Hilton Casino Resort last spring: Pit boss, wife sue UAW for slander.

Earlier this year, the casino's management apparently recruited Wayne Chiw, who is Chinese American, to help discourage Chinese and other Asian and Asian American dealers from joining the UAW. According to the lawsuit, after meetings in which he tried to convince people that voting for the union was not in their best interest, pro-union representatives soon falsely accused Chiw of having threatened to take take away dealers' green cards and have them deported if they voted to unionize. The accusation provoked an intense union smear campaign against Chiw, which he claims has hampered his reputation and emotional well-being.

Interesting that there should be so much commotion between union and casino management over Asian and Asian American dealers' votes.... but their sizeable population in the casino industry is increasingly becoming a key force in a union election's outcome. Very interesting.

national book foundation's "5 under 35"

The National Book Foundation has chosen author Charles Yu as one of its annual 5 Under 35. The distinction highlights the work of the next generation of fiction writers by asking five previous National Book Awards fiction winners and finalists to select one fiction writer under the age of 35 whose work they find particularly promising and exciting. I've previously mentioned Charles' first book Third Class Superhero here on the site. It's a pretty good read, so it's nice to hear he's getting noticed. Very cool. He'll be honored with the rest of the five at a celebration in downtown Manhattan next month. Learn more about the the "5 Under 35" here.