3.31.2007

another protest against cw11

There's another protest being planned in New York on Monday against news channel CW11 for their exploitative, false report on the New Food King restaurant (serving "mouse broccoli"). Here's footage of an earlier protest: Feb. 26 protest against cw11 I. Monday's protest is in front of CW11 headquarters at 3:00pm. For more information, go here.

sunita williams is stuck in space

Astronaut Sunita Williams, whose recent wasabi spill mishap on the international space station made international news, is apparently stuck in space—at least temporarily: Astronaut stuck in space. She flew up to the station last December planning to come home in early July after a seven-month stay. But it looks like hail storm damage on the space shuttle Atlantis, which was supposed to give her a lift home, has delayed NASA's flight schedule. So she's stuck. I hope she brought a really long good book to read.

mohinder is sexy

TV Guide recently published their issue of TV's Sexiest Stars, and while there are certainly many stars out there to choose from, it's worth noting that Sendhil Ramamurthy (Mohinder of Heroes) made the sexy list. A quick Google search came up with a scan of the article here. Sexy. (Thank you, and shout out to Vivian.)

"racial artwork" vandalized

Last week at the University of Central Florida, a piece of art in the Student Union that addresses racial stereotypes—a satire of Abercrombie and Fitch's now-infamous "Two Wongs Make It White" t-shirt—was vandalized with hateful messages: Racially charged painting vandalized. The brightly colored, award-winning "racial artwork" by art student Matt Tom was vandalized with the messages, "Mathew is a loser," "Get a life Mathew Tom," and "Matt Thom [sic] is Gay" in blue ball-point pen. Tom says his art is about Asian American issues, how Asian Americans are misrepresented and how it is somehow acceptable for people to make fun of them. People have a right to agree to disagree, especially when it comes to something as subjective as politically and racially-charged art, but why is that when people have something to say, some idiot has to resort to vandalism? It's a cowardly, idiotic act. Hell, they could at least come up with something more creative than "______ is gay." That's true idiocy.

support naisy dolar

On April 17th, Naisy Dolar could become the first Asian American ever elected to Chicago's City Council. Eric Byler, the hardest working filmmaker who gives a damn about politics, recently shot this video in support Dolar's campaign on a recent visit to Chicago: NAISY DOLAR 4 ALDERMAN-April 17 Runoff, Chicago's 50th Ward. She's taking on 34-year incumbent Berny Stone, and she's got a pretty good shot at winning. With your support. It's time for a change! Learn more about Naisy's campaign here.

another remake: johnnie to's exiled

Looks like Johnnie To's kickass film Exiled is the latest Asian film to get sold for the Hollywood remake treatment: 'Exiled' on the road to English remake. According to Variety, it's being produced by Samuel Hadida, who is responsible for such winners like Resident Evil and Silent Hill. Oh, I can't wait. With The Departed winning top honors at the Oscars this year, it seems like everybody wants in on the remake game these days... particularly these Asian crime dramas. As for the original Exiled, Magnolia Pictures is supposed to release it sometime this year.

asians and plastic surgery

Another article on the rapidly growing trend of minorities getting plastic surgery in the United States: Are Asians Increasingly Undergoing Plastic Surgery to Look White? This is an old topic that's been discussed at length here, elsewhere and all over in the Asian American community. I wouldn't necessarily directly equate getting plastic surgery with wanting to look more "white." It's not that simple. But getting surgery is a means of achieving a certain standard of beauty—whatever aesthetic ideal you've set for yourself. For the most part, what is generally considered beautiful has been historicallly dictated by a white, western ideal. And most people don't even realize it. Thus, yes, getting eyelid surgery could mean wanting to look more white... and maybe you don't even know it. My Asian sisters, I've said it before, and I'll say it again: you are beautiful the way you are. Don't believe the hype.

crime watch

This week in crime...

As police arrested 39-year-old Kham Tu Ly at a department store on suspicion of stuffing nearly $500 worth of merchandise in her clothing, she apparently nodded ("the signal") to her 9-year-old son, who began to cry and scream: Shoplifting suspect used son as aide, police charge. Looks like they'd obviously rehearsed this one before.

Last year, Victor K. Han's wife drove the family minivan off a cliff at Bear Mountain State Park, killing herself and injuring their two children. This week, Han pleaded guilty to endangering the welfare of a child, acknowledging the he knew that his wife, Hejin Han, was contemplating suicide when he left her and their children in the car at the cliff: Plea Deal for Man Whose Wife Drove Off Cliff

Lina Sinha, the former principal of a Manhattan private school was convicted of having sex with one of her students in a classroom when he was about 13 and she was about 30: Jury Convicts Ex-Principal of Having Sex With Student. She faces up to seven years in prison on each of the two most serious counts of which she was convicted—sodomy, or oral sex with the student, who is now a 24-year-old police officer, and bribing a witness to induce him not to testify. Is it me, or do we hear about this type of thing happening waaay too often these days?

This week, Florida authorities busted a major prostitution ring being run out of local massage parlors: Prostitution Ring Run Out Of Massage Parlors. The investigation involved ten different locations in Orange and Seminole counties, this time bringing down the alleged ringleader, 42-year-old Li Ping Ding. The story notes that in addition to Ding, authorities said they arrested 15 of her employees for prostitution or practicing massage without a license. At the moment, the license thing looks like the least of their problems.

In Chicago, bail was set at $3 million for Jae Harrell, charged with bludgeoning and strangling his mother, then dumping her body in a car along the Eisenhower Expressway last weekend: $3 million bail in death of woman found on Ike. Harrell is charged with first-degree murder in the slaying of Ruth Harrell, 59, his widowed mother with whom he lived.

Police say a women and baby found dead in an apartment in Westminster, CA appear to have been stabbed to death: Stabbing probably killed woman, baby. The bodies, which had likely decayed inside the apartment for days or weeks, were badly decomposed and unidentifiable, but the woman appears to be Vietnamese and in her 30s, and the baby, a Vietnamese girl who looked to be only months old.

3.30.2007

support journey from the fall

Here's a box office tracking article highlighting how Ham Tran's Journey From The Fall and Mira Nair's The Namesake kicked ass at the box office last weekend. With a total gross of $2.64 million in just three weeks, The Namesake is quickly becoming the first major indie hit of the new year. And Journey From The Fall, distributed by ImaginAsian Pictures, which actually didn't do very well at ImaginAsian's own theater in New York, was a mad crazy hit in San Jose and Orange County...

Speaking of Journey From The Fall, someone forwarded me this impassioned email from director Ham Tran, responding to a negative review by critic Scott Foundas:

Hi everyone,

I would like to ask for your help to respond to the movie review written by Scott Foundas at the Village Voice, and syndicated by the OC Weekly. The following is his movie review:

JOURNEY FROM THE FALL
The fall of the title is that of South Vietnam and the journey is the long and arduous trek to America undertaken by one persecuted family--the wife, mother, and son of an unrepentant counter-revolutionary--while their absent patriarch rots in a Communist "re-education" camp. Beautifully made and sincere to a fault, Journey From the Fall comes touted by its writer-director, Ham Tran, as the Vietnamese equivalent of Schindler's List; in reality, the film carries
stronger echoes of The Joy Luck Club, as it juxtaposes grueling torture and heroic escape against the sometimes equally Sisyphean struggles of settling into a new life in a new country. Such intentions can't be faulted, and Tran's film is laudable as one of the few movies to depict Vietnam and its aftermath through the eyes of the Vietnamese. But at a moment when directors as varied as Clint Eastwood, Paul Verhoeven, and Ken Loach are discovering innovative and meaningful ways of dramatizing the great man-made atrocities of the 20th century, Tran's reliance on declamatory political dialogue and movie-of-the-week inspirationalism feels decidedly old-fashioned and, finally, even phony. (Scott Foundas)"


It's not that I mind getting a bad movie review, but to call this film "phony" is exactly the kind of ignorant mentality that we have had to struggle against in the last 30 years. It is the kind of language that has excluded our community's terrible ordeals from historical consciousness. This reviewer needs to know that what the speech in the re-education camp that the communist official lectures to the prisoners is not what he calls "declamatory political dialogue," but they are the actual words lectured by the communists to the re-education camp prisoners. Chu Son, who is the person who plays the communist
lecturer, recited that entire speech by heart because it was what the communist forced him to memorize. This speech is by far not "scripted"; these are the words that he was forced to listen to every night for 3 years, until they are forever burned into his memory.

I need your help to reply directly to the publishers for OC Weekly and the Village Voice. The link below is the review and you can click on "Contact Us about this article" to respond: http://www.ocweekly.com/film/new-reviews/new-reviews/26919/?page=2

Please lend your voice to speak out against such ignorance that has kept our story silent for so many years. We need to demand a public apology from these publishers. We need to this critic know that this film is not just a dreamt up story, but that this film depicts the actual experiences of millions of Vietnamese refugees. His comment on the film is an insult the true hardships that our people have had to endure, and it must not be taken lightly.

Thank you very much, and please continue to get your family and friends to come out and support this film.

Take care,
Ham Tran

Like Ham says, he's not complaining about a bad review... he's just taking issue with the misguided ignorance expressed by Foundas here. I think it's the "phony" part that really stings, especially since this story resonates so deeply with the thousands of Vietnamese Americans who really lived through it.

For those waiting for Journey From The Fall to hit your city... the movie opens today in Houston and Dallas, and next week in San Diego and Arlington, VA. Check the website for the full list of theaters and dates. Let's hope the film has another killer weekend at the box office.

UPDATE: Here's Foundas' contact info: Scott Foundas, Film Editor, LA Weekly, 6715 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles CA 90028, sfoundas@laweekly.com.

get "oriental" off the books

In Arizona, there's currently a measure under consideration to replace the use of "Oriental" in the state statute with the more acceptable "Asian." The word appears in the state statute four times: Offensive Asian term in law targeted. The measure, Senate Bill 1295, has cleared the Senate and awaits consideration by the House Rules Committee. Yeah, they need to change it. It's an outdated term that's loaded with a heavy history. Besides, does it really take that much effort to change that one word?

extras for psa with beau sia

For folks in Southern California, if you're not busy this Sunday morning, here's something to do... Got this call for Asian American extras for a public service announcement they're shooting in downtown Los Angeles on April 1st, featuring poet Beau Sia:

Call for Asian American extras of all ethnicities and ages!

We are looking for a diverse range of people for a public service announcement that is going to be filmed on April 1st in Downtown Los Angeles from 8:30am - 12:30pm.

The PSA is written by Beau Sia to be aired on AZN tv in the month of May. We want to show the diversity of Asian America. Extras will not have to speak, just be present behind Beau in the shot.

Please send a photo and RSVP to asianamericanpsa@gmail.com if you are interested.

Meals and parking will be provided, as well as a small stipend.

Here is Beau's most recent work:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=VJCkHu3trKc

Sounds like it could be a really fun experience. Beau turned a lot of heads recently with his frank and thoughtful "Open Letter to All the Rosie O'Donnells," so let's hope this is piece for AZN is as interesting and provocative.

12th annual chicago asian american showcase

Chicagooooooo! The 12th Annual Chicago Asian American Showcase kicks off tonight with the Opening Night screening of Justin Lin's Finishing the Game at the Gene Siskel Film Center. Justin Lin, Sung Kang and Co. are in town to present their latest movie misadventure. (The film also screens again on Wednesday, April 4th.) The festival continues through April 12, with a packed schedule of events, panels, and films like festival fave Colma: The Musical, Juwan Chung's L.A. gangster flick Baby, the award-winning documentary New Year Baby, Gene Rhee's romantic comedy The Trouble with Romance and truckload of other good stuff. If you couldn't already tell, it's another great year for Asian American cinema. I might add that the Chicago Asian American Showcase was the very first Asian American film festival I ever attended, way back in the day when there wasn't whole lot going on with "the scene." Look at us now. This is a great festival that reflects all the cool stuff that's happening right now. So buy your tickets and get your ass in the seat, and support quality Asian American films.

she coming to collect you too

The action-packed true story of one woman's global quest to collect the world's children: Angelina Jolie: Womb Raider. And she will not stop until she's collected them all!

three-vote win

You see, every vote counts. This week, a judge ruled that Janet Nguyen won the February election for an Orange County Board of Supervisors seat by a slim three-vote margin, rejecting arguments by her opponent Trung Nguyen that a recount wasn't completed because the paper audit of electronically cast ballots was not counted manually: Janet Nguyen wins O.C. supervisor's seat. She took office this week, but an appeal is likely. Let it go, dude.

3.29.2007

japanese prime minister apologizes... sort of

Earlier this week, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe offered a very carefully worded, extremely indirect apology to women who were forced to be sex slaves during World War II: Japan's PM apologizes to WWII-era sex slaves. It was an apology of sorts, but not the real apology or acknowledgement victims have been demanding:
"I express my sympathy toward the comfort women and apologize for the situation they found themselves in," Abe told a parliamentary debate, using a euphemism used by Japanese politicians to refer to former sex slaves. "I apologize here and now as prime minister."
It's obviously an attempt to quell the international outcry caused by his denials earlier this month. Still, these remarks fall way short of a clear acknowledgement that the Japanese wartime military was involved in forcing the women into prostitution. And that's unacceptable.

super tall chinese men need love too

See, there's someone out there for everyone... even the tallest man in the world. After searching the world, 7-foot-9 Bao Xishun, 56, has found his bride and married a 29-year-old saleswoman from his hometown, Xia Shujuan (5 feet, 6 inches tall): Home is where the heart is for world's tallest man. Both come from the town of Chifeng in Inner Mongolia. Well, good for them. You gotta wonder—how tall will their kids grow?

hot pockets dojo


I've been getting a ton of email about this new Asian-themed campaign for Hot Pockets. Yes, Hot Pockets. The crappy microwaveable bread thing with gooey food inside. Available in the freezer section of your local supermarket. The commercials feature this accented Asian "dojo master" guy telling people that what they're really hungry for is Hot Pockets. The highly unoriginal campaign draws all sorts of the usual Asian stereotypes. The website takes you into the Hot Pockets Dojo, "deep in the remote mountains of China." Last I checked, "dojo" was a Japanese term. Inside the dojo, you'll find the barking Master with all sort of lame faux Asian imagery. It's idiotic. What any of this idiotic campaign has to do with Hot Pockets, I don't know. That's racist! Thankfully, they've provided this handy contact form to let them know how you feel. You can also call the Nestle Hand-held Foods Group's Consumer Affairs feedback line at 1-800-350-5016. I imagine you might have some words to share.

myx: yet another asian american tv network

Another Asian American television venture joins the fray... I recently heard about MYX, "the first nationally-distributed music channel built specifically for the fast-growing Asian-American market." It's was launched by Filipino television giant ABS-CBN and officially went live February 28 on DirecTV. And hey, all you indpendent artists out there, they want your music video. Remember music videos? It's what MTV used to do, before crap like Laguna Beach and My Super Sweet 16. See here for details on how to submit yours. It looks like they're also trying to develop a significant web programming presence. With the MTV World channels getting their plugs pulled, I suppose it's still anybody's game... Here's an article on the new network's launch (on MYX's website): Scene Change for Asian TV.

of course nic cage is fu manchu


Maybe you've seen an ad or two for Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez's sexy/horror/action double feature Grindhouse. It's their tribute to the bad bad superbad 1970s exploitation films that used to show in seedy movie houses of a bygone era. The double feature ("Death Proof" and "Planet Terror") will also include an intermission and trailers for fake coming attractions (directed by their filmmaker buddies). I bring all this up because one of the trailers, Rob Zombie's Werewolf Women of the S.S., features Nicolas Cage as a character named "Fu Manchu." Greaaaaat. Does this mean we can expect to see that crazy fool in yellowface? Because that's something I don't need to see. Actually, given the history of the Sax Rohmer's character—and it stereotypical yellow peril variations—throughout literature and cinema, having a white dude play Fu Manchu would probably be fitting. That said, I will be the first to stand up in the theater and yell out, "HEY! THAT GUY'S NOT ASIAN!"

UPDATE: Here's the full trailer of Werewolf Women of the S.S., with Nicolas Cage showing up at the end as Fu Manchu: Werewolf Women of the SS - Grindhouse trailer. It looks like they drew on his facial hair with a magic marker.

3.28.2007

more news on the jet/jackie project

According to The Hollywood Reporter, actor Michael Angarano is in final negotiations to star alongside Jackie Chan and Jet Li in the long-awaited, untitled "J&J project": Angarano Joins Chan and Li in J&J
Angarano will play a troubled 17-year-old wannabe kung fu warrior who, after a humiliating defeat at the hands of a street gang, is sent back in time to ancient China on an impossible mission to set free the imprisoned Monkey King (Li) and return to him his all-powerful staff.
While the thought of Jackie Chan and Jet Li in a movie together has a certain novelty, I think I lost interest in this a long time ago. And this silly, awful description really doesn't do anything to change that. Sure, I'd like to see a "J & J" movie, but this definitely does not sound like the one I wanted to see

random link roundup

Various links and news stories for you... the short version:

Six people have been charged with pimping and operating ten brothels staffed by women from China in what authorities said was the largest prostitution investigation ever in Orange County: Six charged in Southland prostitution ring

Last week, Harvard senior Julie Chu was the 2007 winner of the Patty Kazmaier Award, given to the nation's top women's college hockey player: Harvard's Chu nation's finest. She's a two-time U.S. Olympian, a three-time All-America selection, and leaves Harvard as the leading scorer in NCAA history with 284 points.

More troubles for the Fun Wah bus line... last week, a driver on his second day on the job abruptly tried to change lanes and wedged a bus full of passengers on top of a concrete barrier at a Massachusetts Turnpike toll booth: Fung Wah driver wedges bus atop barrier. Please, no Asian driver jokes.

A man awaiting trial for scamming hundreds of Cambodian immigrants out of more than $30 million through a fraudulent investment scheme allegedly tried to hire a hit man to kill 11 witnesses and a codefendant: US says suspect hired a hit man

Looks like Yankees pitcher Chien-Ming Wang will begin the season on the disabled list: Yanks put Wang on disabled list with hamstring pull

A large Korean War memorial planned for Kissena Park in Flushing has attracted significant support from veterans and Korean American donors, but has also drawn a criticism from the longtime members of the Kissena Park Civic Association: For a War Rarely Honored, a Disputed Memorial. Something about urine-inducing grass.

Ann Curry is in Sudan—her third visit in twelve months—to report on the suffering in Darfur: Ann Curry's Ambition: To Witness the Suffering. I have a crush on Ann Curry.

3.27.2007

everybody hates sanjaya

Apologies. I have not yet written anything about the inexplicable phenomenon known as Sanjaya Malakar, who has defied all logic and somehow managed to survive all the way into the top ten of this season's American Idol. I say this because it's general consensus that the kid is easily the worst of the bunch, and he should've been axed a long time ago, yet somehow people keep voting for him. I've particularly enjoyed these blogs on the matter: Sanjaya Must Be Stopped; Bringing Balance to the Force

Better performers than Sanjaya have already been sent home. I haven't been following the competition very closely this season, but I've seen Sanjaya perform a couple of times, and he's waaaaay out of his league. The love/hate frenzy over Sanjaya is intense! Things got really bizarre on last week's show when they kept showing this crazed, crying girl in the audience during his performance, apparently moved to tears by the S-Boy's rousing rendition of "You Really Got Me." Maybe she's the girl who keeps calling to vote. There's also an extremely vocal anti-Sanjaya movement out there fueled by people who are truly horrified at the prospect of him winning the competition. They believe this is a crisis, and they're out to preserve not only the sanctity of American Idol, but the very notion of American democracy. One American Idol viewer has even gone on a hunger strike: Starvation for Sanjaya. According to her MySpace page, "So until the day that Sanjaya is no longer American Idol, I will be going on a hunger strike. This means I will refuse to eat anything until American Idol voters wise up, and stop voting Sanjaya through each week." That is some crazy kind of dedication.

And Vote For The Worst, a website proudly dedicated to destroying American Idol, has been urging visitors to vote for him. The logic is, what better way to demonstrate the suckiness of Idol than to have everybody vote for the suckiest guy to win? Maybe they're the ones responsible for this. The xenophobic reaction, of course, is to point to all the South Asian voters (millions of them!) who are allegedly keeping Sanjaya in the competition. Maybe they are. Whatever the case, I find this all highly amusing. Heck, I'd love to see the South Asian kid win. And I'd love to see the takedown and ridicule of Idol even more. If Sanjaya wins, I'll be laughing. We'll see if he survives another round this week...

journey from the fall earns highest per-screen average

While TMNT (which, by the way, features the voice talent of Zhang Ziyi and Mako in one of his last roles) earned a crapload of money at the box office over the weekend, Ham Tran's Journey From The Fall, in its opening weekend of theatrical release, earned the highest per-screen average of any film—specialty or mainstream—in the country with $21,861 per screen. Playing in four theaters in New York, Orange County and San Jose, the film grossed $87,442 for the weekend (according to a press release from ImaginAsian). It may not seem like much, but for four theaters, it's actually a huge deal. Daaaaamn. Vietnamese Americans came out to represent! The movie expands to Houston and Dallas this Friday, with more cities in weeks to come. Check here for theater listings.

By the way, the latest issue of Asia Pacific Arts has a great interview with director Ham Tran: Confronting the Past: Ham Tran on the Making of Journey From the Fall. (They've also got a whole bunch of coverage of Mira Nair's The Namesake.) There's also a bunch of great video interviews on Asian Pacific Arts' YouTube channel. It's all really good stuff, so check it out.

kal penn at u. penn

Kumar is going to college. To teach, that is. Kal Penn, star of Harold and Kumar and The Namesake, will be a guest instructor at the University of Pennsylvania during the spring 2008 semester: 'Kumar' Actor Has College Teaching Gig. Mr. Modi will teach two undergraduate courses, tentatively titled, "Images of Asian Americans in the Media" and "Contemporary American Teen Films." Students can enroll in the courses as Asian American studies or cinema studies programs in Penn's School of Arts and Sciences. How cool would it be to sit in on those classes? He should get John Cho to guest lecture...

jersey guys encourage reporting "anyone suspicious"

More racist antics from Craig Carton and Ray Rossi, aka "The Jersey Guys." You might recall back in 2005 when they made racist remarks regarding then-candidate Jun Choi and Edison's mayoral race, mocking Asians and saying that no "foreign group should ever ever dictate the outcome of an American election." Earlier this month, the two started "Operation Rat a Rat/La Cucha Gotcha," a listener-participation game that encourages people to turn in friends, neighbors and "anyone suspicious" to immigration authorities. Obviously, the stunt has stirred up quite a bit of controversy: An Immigrant Segment by Radio's 'Jersey Guys' Draws Fire. Of course, no one is suprised. Hell, contoversy is exactly what they want. The worst part is, they're not simply just acting like idiots on the air—they're encouraging everyone who listens to them to be idiots along with them, raising up an army of racist idiots. And that is truly scary.

3.26.2007

mta needs help identifying chinese artifacts

About a year ago, I mentioned excavation during the construction of the Metro Gold Line Eastside Extension in Los Angeles' Boyle Heights, where the MTA uncovered human skeletal remains and artifacts. Historians believe that the diggers stumbled upon a long-lost Chinese potter's field, just ajacent to Evergreen Cemetery, which historically barred Chinese from its property a century ago. While most of the discoveries couldn't be identified, there were several burial bricks and headstones on which the deceased have been identified. Some were accompanied by human skeletal remains. The MTA is asking for help in identifying possible next-of-kin, and they've posted images of the remains and artifacts hoping to find some people out there with more information. It's all pretty fascinating, so check it out: Metro Gold Line Eastside Extension

aaldef files lawsuit against saigon grill

Last week, the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund announced it filed a lawsuit against the restaurant chain Saigon Grill in New York on behalf of 36 former Chinese take-out delivery employees: AALDEF Files Federal Suit against Saigon Grill on Behalf of 36 Delivery Workers for Minimum Wage, Overtime, and Other Labor Violations. According to the suit, Saigon Grill paid the workers less than minimum wage, failed to pay them overtime, required them to buy and maintain their own bikes and scooters, obligated them to reimburse the restaurant for cash taken during a robbery, and forced them to pay "fines" of $20 to $200 from their tips any time they "broke" restaurant rules. In addition to federal and state labor law violations, the suit alleges that restaurant management retaliated against the workers. And now, Saigon Grill is going to pay.

karate kick that tobacco habit


I saw this a while ago, and forgot to post something about it... Thanks to Carmen at Racialicious for reminding me. This totally subtle anti-smoking ad is targeted towards Asians. Yes, that's a guy kicking the cigarette's butt (ha ha), martial arts style. Brilliant. Thank you, California Smokers Hotline. Telling it to us Asians in a way we understand...

UPDATE: Actually, the above ad looks a lot like this one of Jackie Chan kicking the crap out of a giant cigarette. It was created by the American Cancer Society in 2001. I guess the California Smokers Hotline didn't have the budget to hire Jackie Chan... so they drew a picture instead. (Thanks, Chi-wang)

3.25.2007

save mtv world

It's been over a month since word got out that MTV Networks was dropping their MTV World (Chi, K, Desi) division, basically shutting down yet another avenue for Asian American voices to get heard and seen on television. I'll say that in the short time that they were around, from what I saw, the three channels really were trying to give due exposure to Asian American musicians and artists, particularly the independent ones. MTV Chi was where I first saw Beau Sia's excellent "an open letter to all the rosie o'donnells." Don't tell you're gonna see something like that on regular MTV. But alas, the channels were cut short before they were really able to get off the ground. Well, it seems that a last ditch effort is underway to try and save MTV World from extinction. An email has been recently circulating to get get support behind a petition to Save MTV World. Here's what the senders are asking:
SO WHAT CAN WE DO? 5 WAYS YOU CAN TAKE ACTION

1. SIGN THE PETITION!!!
This is of utmost importance. It takes LESS than a minute. This petition will be sent to everyone at MTV and major media outlets.

GO TO: http://www.petitiononline.com/MTVWORLD/petition.html. Forward this to everyone you know!

2. DRAFT A PASSIONATE-POSITIVE LETTER TO STOP MTV FROM SHUTTING DOWN OUR VOICES!

Please write a letter expressing your disappointment and desire for the re-emergence of the channels. We want to educate MTV on the voice of our community. Letters will make a BIG Difference! Address letters to: Attn: Judy McGrath, CEO, MTV Networks, 1515 Broadway, 28th floor, New York, NY 10036

3. COVER THIS IN THE MEDIA!
If you are a journalist-- write about this. This is a bigger story than simply MTV downsizing, this is about Asian Americans being silenced without a fair chance to succeed. PRESS CONTACT: SaveMTVWorld@gmail.com. A team member will be in touch with you immediately.

4. MAKE A VIDEO ABOUT THIS AND UPLOAD TO YOUTUBE/MYSPACE
Let's get this message out in every way we can. (Beau Sia's post about Rosie O'Donnell 'ching-chong' comment received over 400,000 views--see link below)

5. STUDENTS: MOBILIZE YOUR STUDENT GROUPS! WRITE LETTERS, PETITION, PROTEST, MAKE VIDEOS...Make it happen!
Personally, I think the more voices we have out there representing and making a ruckus, the better. I've always found it a little troubling that regular MTV, vanguard of American youth culture, had to relegate Asian America to their separate ghetto-ized networks, instead of finding a place on regular MTV programming. But I do appreciate the work that Desi, Chi and K have been trying to do. So if you feel strongly about this, sign the petition, get the word out, and help MTV World (and the dedicated people who work there) have a fighting chance.

3.23.2007

25th sfiaaff: san jose


Tonight kicks off the San Jose leg of SFIAAFF, if your crew hangs closer to the Silicon Valley side of things, with a screening of David Ren's Shanghai Kiss. I'd been hearing about this film for a couple of years, when it was still in its baby stages... and from what I hear, the wait has been worth it. Word on the street is, it received quite a bit of festival buzz—at least from the people I talked to. The film stars Ken Leung and Kelly Hu, among others... and if you're not in San Jose tonight, hopefully you'll be seeing it soon.

Last night, winners were announced at the festival's Closing Night Awards cerememony... Stephane Gauger's Owl and the Sparrow won Best Narrative Feature, and Eric Byler's Tre took home the Special Jury Award. As for documentaries, Socheata Poeuv's New Year Baby took Best Documentary Feature, with the Special Jury Award going to Tami Yeager's A Dream in Doubt. The Audience Awards for narrative and documentary went to Desmond Nakano's American Pasttime and Lisette Marie Flanary's Na Kamalei: The Men of Hula, respectively. Be on the lookout for these films at a film festival near you...

stop the racist "chinese freestyle"

YouTube is a power that can be for both good and evil. This racist, idiotic rap song, "Chinese Freestyle" by Brandon Dicamillo (of Jackass fame), has been making the rounds. I hadn't actually heard about it until yesterday. Basically, it's a laundry list of racist Asian stereotypes, rapped in the mock accent of a Chinese food deliveryman. I listened to the song on YouTube, and it's pretty vile. (Do a search, and you'll get the original as well as scores of variations.) Read the lyrics here.

What's worse is the legion of fans on YouTube and elsewhere that the song has generated—fans who vehemently defend and praise the song for whatever reason. I know people just want say, hey, can't you take a joke? But it's crap like this that continues to caricature and dehumanize Chinese food deliverymen and other similar laborers who are just trying to make an honest living. It perpetuates the notion that they're somehow less than human. Don't tell me there's no connection with this sentiment and the high rate of crime and violence directed towards Chinese food deliverymen. That's racist!

A blog has been set up specifically to create awareness and action against this song: CKY=KKK: Against the Chinese Freestyle Racist Rap. Learn more and follow the controversy there. (Thanks, Ekachai)

nomad and mongol

Here's the U.S. trailer for Nomad, Kazakhstan's epic movie answer to the ridicule of Borat. It's about a man who is destined to unite the warring tribes of Kazakhstan against Mongol invaders. Starring dudes like Jason Scott Lee, Mark Dacascos, Archie Kao, Ron Yuan and others. I think the movie opened in select theaters last weekend, and according to box office reports it made $14,250. I think Borat wins.

Along similar lines, here's the official site for the upcoming movie Mongol, about the early life of Genghis Khan. Believe it or not, the movie is directed by Sergei Bodrov, the same guy who directed Nomad. And if I'm not mistaken, this is the same project that originally had Khan being played by Channing Tatum (yes, a white guy), who reportedly dropped out due to scheduling conflict. As you can see from the photo (the guy with the sword), Khan is played Japanese actor Tadanobu Asano. The movie is scheduled to be released this year from Picturehouse.

jet li is the mummy

The rumors are true. Jet Li is apparently in negotiations to play the villainous title character in The Mummy 3: Jet Li unearths role in "Mummy 3". According to the article, the action will be set in China, with Li's story beginning in ancient times before moving to a post-World War II setting. Oh, it's going to be directed by Rob Cohen. Why do I get the feeling that this is going to suck hard?

japanese billionaire hands out mansions

Billionaire Genshiro Kawamoto, a Japanese real estate mogul, is giving eight of his multimillion-dollar homes to low-income Native Hawaiian families: Billionaire opens mansions to homeless. These aren't just houses—they're mansions. The families will be able to stay in the homes for up to ten years. Though if the guy is indeed one of Japan's richest man, he could probably build a whole bunch of houses for the state's homeless, instead of just handing over eight of his existing mansions. I'm just saying.

3.22.2007

25th sfiaaff: closing night


The week has flown by... tonight is Closing Night of the 25th San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival, with the screening of Dark Matter, followed by a reception and awards ceremony at the Palace of Fine Arts. Dark Matter the debut film from renowned New York-based Chinese opera director Chen Shi-Zheng, based on the true story of a talented Chinese physics student whose strained psyche begins to unravel in the face of miscommunication and school politics. At least, that's what I think it's about. I missed this one at Sundance, but it's sounds like a doozy. (And oh yeah, it stars Meryl Streep.) I don't think things end well. But hey, it's Closing Night, and that's always fun. For those of you in the South Bay (represent!), the San Jose portion of the festival begins tomorrow...

japanese american relocation digital archives


This is a really great resource... the Japanese American Relocation Digital Archives have recently been re-designed and updated. It's an amazing trove of photographs, personal histories and background information on the Japanese American internment experience. There are even teacher-created lesson plans. Visit the site, poke around, a learn a thing or two...

two arrested in racist bus beating

Some follow-up on Marie Martinez, who was beat up last week on a New York bus for looking "Chinese." A 14-year-old girl and 17-year-old boy have been arrested in connection with the beating; GIRL, 14, NABBED IN STUDENT BUS BEATING. Police from the hate crimes task force identified the younger teen after finding her bookbag on the B82 bus on which Martinez was attacked. What about all the others in the pack of kids that punched, kicked and taunted her? And what about the idiot bus driver who witnessed the assault and simply told Martinez (who was wearing her Catholic school uniform) to "go talk to a priest"? This was a hate crime, and that's racist! An online petition is being circulated calling for the MTA and NYPD conduct a full and complete investigation into the incident, as well as disciplinary action to be taken towards the bus driver: Condemn anti-Asian hate crimes and hold MTA accountable!

apa caucus backs equity for filipino veterans

This week, the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus backed legislation to reverse a six-decades-old law and award veterans' benefits to Filipinos who fought with the U.S. forces in World War II: Caucus Wants to Help Filipino Veterans. Originally, 250,000 Filipinos were recruited, mostly in 1941 as the United States built forces to counter any Japanese attacks on U.S. interests. The Philippines was a U.S. commonwealth then, and the recruits were promised they would be treated as U.S. veterans regarding benefits. When the war ended, Congress passed the 1946 Rescission Act, which stopped pension, health and burial benefits for nonservice-connected Filipino veterans. The proposed law would remove the rescission from the 1946 statute and restore the promised equity.

we want kato


Talk of a new Green Hornet movie has been bouncing around for years from studio to studio, with little to show for it. Last I heard, Kevin Smith had his hands on it, but that apparently fell through This time, the film rights have landed at Columbia Pictures, and it's being produced by Neal Moritz: Superhero Green Hornet may fly again in film. As fans know, Bruce Lee played the role of Kato on the old 1960s Green Hornet television show. So the question is, as we've always asked when there's talk of a Green Hornet movie, who will play Kato? Because let's face it—no one gives a crap about the Green Hornet. We care about Kato, and he better kick ass.

bad chinese food is bad for you

According to a new report from the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Chinese food is bad for you, loaded with sodium and fat and other nasty things: Chinese restaurant food draws criticism. Well, duh. If you're talking about crap like egg rolls and General Tso's chicken, like the report cites, then yes, such items are certainly bad for you. The same could be said of certain food items of other world cuisines. Hell, I bet most of the stuff they examined in this report isn't even "real" Chinese food—imagine how many bad Chinese takeout places are out there. And before you go pointing fingers and giving Chinese food a bad rap, let us consider the worst offender: American food. McDonald's, KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell. Yum. But it's a nutritional wasteland too.

the firing of carol lam

Another story on attorney Carol Lam, who has received national attention as one of eight federal prosecutors fired by the Justice Department: 'Safe' prosecutor pick among those fired. Democrats investigating the firings have questioned whether Lam's dismissal was linked to her office's corruption prosecution of now-jailed former Republican Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham. More on the investigation here: Ousted California Prosecutor Previously Had Disputes on Strategy. Meanwhile, Senator Dianne Feinstein wants answers about the departure of another former U.S. attorney Debra Yang, who resigned last October before the dismissal of the eight: Senator eyes another attorney departure

music will make your mandarin rock

Researchers from Northwestern University have found that people with musical training have an easier time learning Chinese: Skilled Ear for Music May Help Language. According to one of the study's authors, the findings suggested that studying music "actually tunes our sensory system." And Mandarin speakers have been shown to have a more complex encoding of pitch patterns in their brains than English speakers do. Suddenly, all those parents who put their kids in Mandarin classes are rushing to sign them up for music lessons too...

3.21.2007

journey from the fall in theaters friday


As I've mentioned here several times before, Ham Tran's feature film Journey From The Fall opens in select cities this Friday, March 23rd from ImaginAsian Pictures. It's the epic story of one family's struggle for freedom and survival in the aftermath of the fall of Saigon in 1975. The film spans the city's burning streets, to imprisonment in Communist re-education camps, to the perilous sea escape from Vietnam, and the family's new life in the United States. It's an incredibly ambitious movie; you aren't supposed to make first features like this. And yet Ham Tran has done it, and he's made one hell of a film, bringing cinematic voice to the hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese Americans whose lives and stories reflect this journey. And it's a true American story.

The movie opens on Friday at theaters in New York, Orange County and San Jose. As with most independent Asian American films, this first weekend is critical for Journey From The Fall's theatrical run. If it does well this weekend, it will likely open in more theaters and cities—and this is the kind of film that everyone should go out and see. Here's a list of opening weekend theaters (and beyond):

March 23:
SAN JOSE, CA: Camera 12
NEW YORK, NY: The ImaginAsian
GARDEN GROVE, CA: Regal Garden Grove Stadium 16
WESTMINSTER, CA: Edwards Westminster 10

March 30:
HOUSTON, TX: Cinemark Tinseltown Westchase
DALLAS (GARLAND), TX: Cinemark Hollywood USA Movies 15
DALLAS (GRAND PRAIRIE), TX: Cinemark Movies 16

April 20:
CHICAGO (EVANSTON), IL: Century 12 Evanston/CineArts 6
SAN FRANCISCO, CA: 4 Star Theatre

As you can see, the roll-out plan is pretty limited right now. But if it does well this weekend in every city, it'll expand to other cities. Maybe even your city. So get the word out! I've talked about this film enough over the last year, festival after festival. Now it's your turn to go see it and get the word out. To learn more about the film, go here. And go here for a video message from the director and producer of Journey From The Fall.

25th sfiaaff: wednesday


More good stuff happening tonight at SFIAAFF, including the indie-pop edition of the festival's annual music showcase, Directions in Sound. With performances from KIIIIIII, Scrabbel, Dreamdate and DJ Pickpocket. Tonight at the Rickshaw Stop in San Francisco.

As for films, there's David Kaplan's pseudo-animated modern Cinderella drama Year of the Fish, fresh from Sundance, as well as Socheata Poeuv's award-winning documentary New Year Baby, both playing at the Opera Plaza.

Over at the Van Ness, you've got films like Doan Hoang's Oh Saigon, a documentary about one Vietnamese refugee family's story. It's paired in the same program with the Hung Nguyen's deeply moving short documentary Going Home. There's also Nick Broomfield's Ghosts, a fictionalized account of a true 2004 tragedy, when twenty-three illegal Chinese workers drowned at England's Morecambe Bay. And on the complete opposite side of the spectrum, you've got Johnnie To's acclaimed Hong Kong crime drama Exiled, his semi-sequel to 1999's The Mission. Lots of intense looks and dudes with guns. Finally, there's Joy Dietrich's long-awaited feature Tie a Yellow a Ribbon, a drama about the complex emotional struggles of Asian American women, and one of the first feature films to address the alarmingly high rates of suicide and depression among Asian American women. That should keep you busy tonight.

michael kang's west 32nd to premiere at tribeca

Should've mentioned this sooner... my man Michael Kang's new feature film West 32nd will make its world premiere next month at the Tribeca Film Festival. Here's the description blurb from Tribeca's press release:
West 32nd, directed by Michael Kang, written by Michael Kang and Edmund Lee. (U.S.A.) – World Premiere. After hustling his way onto a homicide case, an ambitious young lawyer (John Cho) infiltrates the gritty Korean underworld of New York, searching for clues. When he meets his match in the syndicate, they'll both do anything to get to the top. It's a raw and thrilling race. In English and Korean.
I know you've been looking forward to seeing this one. It's gonna be a party. The Tribeca Film Festival runs April 25-May 6. More info to come...

UPDATE:The West 32nd website has been updated with a nifty splash page with a first look at the movie. Not much there yet, but it does include a link to the trailer, so take a look.

random assortment of articles

Still playing catch up from all my traveling... In the interest of time and energy, and a strong, compelling desire to clean out my in-box (it's cathartic), I give you a whole bunch of random articles. The short version:

NPR story (and detailed timeline) on Carol Lam, one of eight U.S. attorneys fired by the Justice Department: How Prosecutor Lam's Case Was Handled

Yet another Nanking Massacre-based movie project, this one by Hong Kong director Yim Ho: Director Yim Ho's Nanjing Massacre Story Approved. I've lost count of how many of these movies are being worked on right now.

Last week, Jonathan Phong Khanh was convicted of killing a 15-year-old prostitute and sexually assaulting three other young girls: Tran guilty in prostitute's death, assaults

The Gersh Agency has signed comedian Henry Cho after his recent performances at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen: Gersh signs comic Cho.

A South Korean soldier may be a U.S. military deserter after he left his U.S. base and joined the South Korean army, apparently to avoid a tour of duty in Iraq: S.Korea haggles with U.S. on soldier who ducked Iraq

Tired of the fakers, Japan recently approved a campaign to certify "real" Japanese food overseas, including sushi: Japan to certify 'real'
sushi


Ratana Veth, a popular Cambodian actress and karaoke singer, is married to a Cambodian grocer and living in the Bronx: New Digs for 'Queen of the Fish'

Another good story on actor Kal Penn, who's having a heck of a year: Still in Touch With His Jersey Roots, an Actor Mines His Talent

Interesting Los Angeles Times story on cultural and generational issues facing Asian American churches: Asian American churches face leadership gap

In Syracuse, NY, a man wounded his wife and fatally shot his son over the son's marriage, then held police at bay for nearly 30 hours before he was found dead inside the home: N.Y. Standoff Ends With Father, Son Dead

A really fascinating (and painful) story on the survivors of foot binding: Painful Memories for China's Footbinding Survivors. What a stupid thing to make someone do.

Another article checking in on the landscape of (surviving) Asian American television networks: Scene Change for Asian TV

3.20.2007

the host poster winners


We have some winners... thank you to everyone who participated in The Host poster giveaway (courtesy of Magnolia Pictures). Here are the lucky three:

Nancy W. of Schertz, TX (favorite monster movie: Interview with the Vampire)
Evan O. of San Gabriel, CA (favorite movie monster: "The Ring girl")
Andi B. of Irvine, CA (favorite movie monster: "fucking velociraptors from Jurassic Park")

They've each scored themselves a poster of The Host, autographed by director Bong Joon-Ho. The movie continues to open in theaters all around the country this weekend. For a full list of dates and theaters, go here. John S., an enthusiastic reader who loved The Host was inspired to create these two kickass pieces of art. Very cool. It's just a freaking awesome monster flick, so check out The Host and have a good time at the movies.

yul kwon supports hr 121

Survivor winner Yul Kwon continues to use his fame towards important causes... In this video, he lends his support to House Resolution 121, introduced by Congressman Mike Honda, calling on Japan to unequivocally apologize and take full responsibility for the enslavement of girls at rape centers ("comfort stations") during World War II: Yul Kwon Supports Resolution Calling on Japan to Apologize. The video features the testimonies of two survivors of tell of their ordeals in harrowing detail. It's pretty difficult to listen to. Learn more about this issue at Support121.org. This Thursday, March 22nd is Support 121 Coalition Lobby Day on Capitol Hill. A group of coalition members will go in teams to meet with House Representatives in their office. They'll give them information about HR 121 and ask them to co-sponsor it. To learn more, go here. This has become more important than ever, since the Japanese government repeated again last week that there is no evidence of sex slavery: Japan Stands by Declaration on 'Comfort Women'

beaten for looking "chinese"

This is insane... In New York, a high school student says she was brutally punched, kicked and teased for looking "Chinese" by a pack of kids as she rode a city bus home from school—and claims the bus driver did nothing except tell her to "go to a priest": GIRL'S BLOODY BEATING. Marie Stefanie Martinez, who is from the Philippines, was attacked by a group of ten teenagers for no other reason than but her appearance. Her Asian appearance. That's racist! And what kind of world do we live in where a girl gets beaten by a bus mob and the bus driver doesn't do a damn thing? Somebody needs to get fired.

stuff happening everywhere

Some events this week... for those of you in the Bay Area, Sung H. Kim's documentary Mighty Warriors of Comedy, all about the sketch comedy group 18 Mighty Mountain Warriors, is having a screening and DVD launch event on Wednesday, March 21st in San Francisco. Hosted by Kearny Street Workshop and the Center for Asian American Media. There will be a screening, a Q & A, and performances by Charlie Chin and possibly the Mighty Mountain Warriors themselves... for more information, go here or here. Good times.

For those in Los Angeles, check out the singer/songwriter showcase IndieGo, this Friday, March 23rd at Tangier, featuring the likes of Ginnicide, Scott Tang, Franki Love, Kiyoshi Graves, and a rare West Coast performance by Kevin So. Doors open at 7:00pm. More good times. It should be a lot of fun, so be there.

And this week in New York, the 14th Annual Forum on Asian/Pacific American Youth Culture is happening March 23rd at New York University's Silver Center. This year's forum title is "Breaking Free: The APAYA Revolution." Looks like a great way for enthusiastic young people to get involved with activism and empowerment, with workshops relating family, dating, gender, hate crimes, consumerism, the internet, media, music, and spoken word. For more information, go here.

20th sfiaaff: tuesday


I was hoping to write up some stuff about SFIAAFF over the weekend, but alas, life got in the way. Nevertheless, there are several good, solid days of the festival left, with a great schedule of films... Like tonight, there's the Music Video Asia 2007 shorts program, a blend of cool, wacky, fresh and fun videos from Asian and Asian American bands. There's also Stephane Gauger's feature debut Owl and the Sparrow, a romance set in modern Saigon. And Asian American film fans, old and new, shouldn't pass up the chance to see the 1988 film The Wash, a tribute to the late Mako, who performs alongside the late Nobu McCarthy in a story by acclaimed playwright Philip Kan Gotanda. Newschoolers could learn a thing a two from these folks. Another film I've been really looking forward to seeing is Romeo Candido's Filipino supernatural thriller Ang Pamana: The Inheritance. The online trailer gave me the creeps, and the film's premiere was a hit at the Hawaii International Film Festival late last year. Finally, one of the films I'm most curious about is Juwan Chung's Los Angeles gang drama Baby, which seems to be part of a recent trend of Asian American gangster films. And I like gangster films.

3.19.2007

"chinaman" and "slanting eyes"

Last week, Ted Turner apologized for comments he made about China and Chinese people, including using the term "Chinaman," at a Bay Area Council meeting in a talk about global warming: Ted Turner apologizes for remarks on Chinese. When asked about how to win China's cooperation in reducing greenhouse gases, Turner said:
"The Chinese are very smart. Just think: Have you ever met a dumb Chinaman? ...Very seldom do you see Chinese restaurants close. I'm in the restaurant business, and it's very tough. They work very hard."
Community leaders and officials at the council immediately called for an apology, which he issued in statement from his spokesman. He claims that he was unaware the term "Chinaman" was derogatory. You've got to be kidding me. A guy who is supposed to be a well-traveled world business leader? We live in an ignorant world.

Speaking of world leaders making stupid comments, Canadian politician Andre Boisclair was talking about global competition from Asian economies like India and China and the number of young people from these countries coming to study in the U.S., when he said:
"The reality is these countries are not just working to create jobs in sweatshops... When I was in Boston [studying at Harvard]... I was surprised to see that on campus about one-third of the students doing their bachelor's degrees had slanting eyes."
That's racist! Not only is it an offensive racist stereotype, there's also the xenophobic presumption that everyone with "slanted eyes" could only be from a foreign nation like China or India. When called on his comments, Boisclair adamantly refused to apologize: Boisclair won't say he's sorry for "slanting eyes" comment aimed at Asians. More here: Boisclair won't apologize. He claims the comment he made, "les yeux brid├ęs" (slanting eyes) is an acceptable expression in French: Boisclair defends 'slanting eyes' comments. I find that suspect. I don't care what language he used. That's racist!

3.18.2007

recovery

Hey everybody. Sorry for the lack of recent updates. I've been doing some heavy traveling the last few days, and it's taking its toll on me... and it might take a few days to get back up to speed. Thank you for your patience.

3.15.2007

25th sfiaaff: opening night


All right. This is it. The 25th San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival starts today, and runs through March 25th in locations around the Bay Area. Congratulations, SFIAAFF. Twenty-five years. The festivities kick off tonight with the Opening Night Gala presentation of Justin Lin's Finishing the Game at the Castro Theatre. Fresh from Sundance, it's a hilarious 1970s-era mockumentary about Hollywood's attempt to find a replacement for Bruce Lee and finish Game of Death. Should be an exciting, historic evening.

Over the next ten days, I'll try to highlight some of the noteworthy programs and screenings happening during the festival. Tomorrow night, the first two films in SFIAAFF's Hong Sang Soo Retrospective, celebrating the works of the master South Korean director. And on the complete opposite side of the spectrum... a 20th anniversary screening John Carpenter's Big Trouble in Little China. Hands down, one of the craziest movies ever made, playing at one of the greatest film festivals in the nation.

3.14.2007

olivia cheng will play iris chang

According to this story, Canadian actress Olivia Cheng will play the lead role in a feature film about American writer Iris Chang: Alberta actress to portray famed Chinese-American writer. The movie, entitled Iris Chang, started production in China in December and will shoot scenes in Canada, Japan and the U.S. this spring in time for release at the end of the year. I'm not sure if this is same Iris Chang project I mentioned here last month. There are so many Nanking projects in the works these days, it's getting hard to keep them all straight...

director james wan on dead silence

Here's an interview with writer/director James Wan, creator of the highly successful (and gross) Saw franchise: James Wan Breaks His Dead Silence. His new movie Dead Silence opens on Friday. It's another horror film, and it looks pretty bad. All I know is, it involves creepy ventriloquist dolls, and that's just something I don't want to see.

learn mandarin or get left behind

Yet another one of these articles on the growing number of Mandarin-language programs in U.S. schools: As China's power grows, so do Chinese programs in public schools. No joke, China's rapid economic growth is opening up huge opportunities for future business, and it seems that parents do not want their kids to left behind.

more more namesake articles

Another article on Mira Nair and The Namesake: Mira Nair's Parent Trap. Aaaaand another: The Endless Journey Home. The movie expands to more cities this weekend and in coming weeks. There's a list of cities and theaters over at The Namesake Blog

linda park on raines

The NBC crime drama Raines, starring Jeff Goldblum, premieres on Thursday night. It's about a police detective who's having a mental crisis, and hallucinates talking to the victims whose deaths he's investigating. Actress Linda Park, formerly of Star Trek: Enterprise (RIP), is in the starring cast as Officer Something Lance. I say "something" because the NBC website lists her character's name in different places as "Kim Lance" and "Michelle Lance," and TV.com calls her "Sally Lance." So it's something Lance. Anyway, I caught a look at the pilot episode, and she doesn't have a huge role from what I can see, but hopefully there's room to grow... if the series lasts.

3.13.2007

all hail the center

Jeff Yang's latest "Asian Pop" column looks back at the celebrated history of the Center for Asian American Media (formerly NAATA) in San Francisco, a hallowed institution in the landscape of Asian American media: Silver Screen. It's a nice look at the past, present and future of the organization. The best really is yet to come. But I'll admit as well, I still have a hard time referring to it as anything other than "NAATA." Full disclosure: I used to work for NAATA in my formative years, and have many, many fond memories of my time there. Big props to the people and their work at the Center.

restaurant owner fights back

Meet Jason Lee, the Philadelphia restaurant owner who fought back... and killed a dude. Last week, he shot and killed a would-be robber and wounded another one when they tried to hold up his restaurant: Diner Owner Tells All After Killing Would-Be Robber. More here: Owner fights back, kills robber. And it turns out this isn't the first time this has happened to him: Deja vu for diner owner who shot 2 during holdup. He was apparently involved in a similar shooting where he killed two guys back in 1993.

national asian american theater festival

This is great news... the very first National Asian American Theater Festival will be held June 11-24 at several locations in New York City: Asian-American Theaters Plan New Festival. The festival is a result of discussions between six prominent Asian American theater companies—Pan Asian Repertory Theater, East West Players, Ma-Yi Theater, the National Asian American Theater Company, Second Generation and Mu Performing Arts. The two-week event will draw more than 25 companies and individuals from around the United States, with backgrounds from Cambodia, China, Japan, Korea, Laos, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Vietnam reflected in their work. For more information about the festival, go here.

damn right he's getting his money

Ralph Lee, the oldest surviving subject of Canada's infamous Chinese head tax, got his apology and compensation on Saturday—his 107th birthday: Oldest Surviving Chinese Head Tax Subject Gets Compensation

the sad story of zhang hongqqi

This is the tragic story of Zhang Hongqi, who was stabbed to death on a Flushing street corner in February. Working as a restaurant deliveryman, he called his wife and daughter in China every day for five years. One day, the call never came: The Death of a Family Man

it's lonely up there

The New York Times has a story on the tallest dude in basketball, 7-foot-9 Sun Ming Ming of China: Basketball Skills Come Slowly to a 7-Foot-9 Center From China. It's lonely up there, so he's been hanging with 7-foot-7 former NBA center Gheorghe Muresan. The accompanying photo of the two together looks like it's been distorted or stretched in some way, but it hasn't. Those are just two really really monstrously tall guys.

jackie chan wants you.... to be a cop

Jackie Chan is in a new public service ad promoting the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department to Asian Americans: Chan Promotes L.A. County Sheriff Dept. The ad shows him urging potential recruits to join the force. The department hopes the commercial, which will be shown during recruitment fairs, will help boost the low number of Asian Americans in their ranks.

ransacking asian films

This entry over at Webs of Significance points us to this article on the success of The Departed and what that means for Hollywood's interest in Asian films like Infernal Affairs: Hollywood's Asian affair. I think we're a long way off from Hollywood giving Asian films their due respect. Let's not forget that gaffe at the Oscars, where the announcer mistakenly called The Departed a remake of a Japanese film. The fact of the matter is, Hollywood is going to keep ransacking Asian films for ideas... and that's pretty much it.

don't even bother asking

According to this Gallup poll, Americans claim they will be willing to vote for a woman or a black for president next year, but still raise questions about voting for a well-qualified Mormon, a Hispanic, a homosexual or someone who has been divorced twice: Gallup: Americans Say They Will Vote for a Black or Woman -- But a Mormon? A 72-Year-Old? Man, are you telling me that the possibility of an Asian American president is so unlikely they didn't even bother including it as an option in the survey?

dr. yu fought gout

Dr. Tsai-Fan Yu, a physician and researcher at Mount Sinai Medical Center who helped explain a principal cause of gout and evaluated early drugs to treat the disease that are still in use, died earlier this month in Manhattan. She was 95: Tsai-Fan Yu, 95, Physician, Dies; Helped Alleviate Gout. Gout sucks. But now it sucks less, thanks to the work of Dr. Yu.

win an autographed poster of the host

Just wanted to remind everybody that you still have a chance to win a poster for the awesome South Korean monster movie The Host, signed by director Bong Joon-Ho. To enter the drawing, just answer these three very easy questions: 1) Name one of director Bong Joon-ho's previous films. 2) Name one of actor Song Kang-ho's previous films. 3) Name your favorite movie monster (no wrong answer for this one). Email me your answers, along with your mailing address, with "HOST POSTER" clearly written in the subject line, by the end of Wednesday, March 14th. Duplicate entries, as well as entries that don't follow these simple instructions (some folks haven't included their address), will be thrown out. Three winners will be randomly picked from the correct responses. Good luck. And to learn more about The Host, go here.

UPDATE: The contest is now closed. Thank you for entries. Winners will be announced shortly

3.12.2007

kirin desai's inheritance of loss wins book award

Kiran Desai's novel The Inheritance of Loss, "a narrative of global discovery and displacement," received the National Book Critics Circle fiction award last week: Desai's 'Inheritance' Wins Fiction Prize. How soon until the book gets made into a movie?

chinese woman elected in ireland

Last week Anna Lo, a Hong Kong native who has lived in Northern Ireland for 32 years, became the first ethnic minority to be elected to political office in Ireland: Chinese politician wins in N. Ireland. Chinese media reports are also describing her as the first Chinese person to be elected as a lawmaker anywhere in Europe. Lo was one of seven people elected to the 108-member Northern Ireland Assembly from the Alliance Party: Lo takes seat for South Belfast. She says she wanted to give a voice to Chinese people who never felt they had any part to play in Northern Ireland politics. Well, she won. And that is a fine start.

hate crime kid gets jail time

Last week in Queens, Kevin M. Brown was sentenced to three and a half years in prison for beating two Asian men with a car's antitheft steering lock last August. One of the men suffered lacerations and loosened teeth, and the other a possible skull fracture. Brown, the son of a cop, pleaded guilty in State Supreme Court on January 17 to second-degree assault as a hate crime: Queens: Man Sentenced for Bias Attack. And more here: Bias beating lands him in jail. While Brown initially tried to deny it was a hate crime, a witness apparently hear him yelling, "You goook, stay out of our neighborhood." That's a hate crime. More details on the assault here.

nanking documentary coming to a theater near you

The North American distribution rights for the documentary Nanking have been sold to THINKFilm: Leonsis Sells Film Distribution Rights. The film tells the story of the 1937 Japanese invasion of Nanking, China, through the recollections of a small group of Westerners who established a safety zone that provided a haven for more than 200,000 Chinese. More here: "Nanking" documentary lands U.S. distribution. You'll probably have to keep an eye out for it, but it looks like it'll be coming to a theater near you later this year.

evil still prevails

So get this... the good news is, The Daily Chronicle will no longer be running Ann Coulter's columns: Ann Coulter no longer welcome in the Chronicle. The bad news: they're replacing her with Michelle Malkin. Gaaaaaaah. One evil traded for another.

first korean in the billiards hall of fame

The late Lee Sang-chun will be the first Korean to be inducted into the Billiard Congress of America Hall of Fame. The BCA said it will hold a Hall of Fame induction ceremony for Lee, a South Korean expatriate who won numerous championship titles in Korea and America, on May 16 at the Riviera Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas: Korean Billiards Champ Named to U.S. Hall of Fame. Dude, I didn't even know there was a Billiards Hall of Fame.

leave the poetry to the experts

Some more video love for spoken word artist Beau Sia... here's a clip of him performing on Def Poetry Jam: Beau Sia - Def Poetry Jam. The guy is an asskicking wordsmith.

Speaking of poets, Queens is looking for a new poet laureate: What Rhymes With Queens? The amazing Ishle Yi Park became the borough's poet laureate in 2004 (beating out Run-DMC's Reverend Run!), making us all pretty damn proud.

investigation, but no apology for comfort women

After triggering international outrage earlier this month by saying that there was no proof that the Japanese military forced women into sexual slavery during World War II, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said last week that ruling party lawmakers will conduct a fresh investigation into these claims: Japan to probe WWII military brothels. But of course, the official response is as stubborn as ever—Japan will not apologize again for the "comfort stations." More on this story in this article, with perpsectives from the victims: Denial Reopens Wounds of Japan’s Ex-Sex Slaves.

3.10.2007

yao's "chopstick finger"

This happened last week, a minor bit of throwaway racism worth nothing... Bill Simmons wrote a running diary of last week's Rockets/Celtics game for his "Page 2" column: Running with the Celtics. At 9:42, he makes this observation:
9:42 -- Coming out of commercial, we see a replay of Yao's finger getting bent back on a rebound and Yao screaming in pain, followed by Gorman reporting that Yao went to the locker room to get it checked out, then Tommy joking, "That was his chopstick finger, too, he may not be able to eat anymore!" and Gorman changing the subject as fast as humanly possible.

(The lesson, as always: It's never dull when anyone older than 70 is allowed near a microphone during a sporting event.)
True, true. It's the old guys that always seem to make the bonehead comments. No, wait. Young guys make the bonehead comments too. Okay, I guess no one is really immune to making bonehead comments. That's racist!

chinese canadian brothers honored... finally

Two Chinese Canadian brothers killed six months apart during the World War II will soon be nominated for national recognition by the Chinese Canadian Military Museum: Asian-Canadian soldiers lauded. Joseph Hong, who died in action on May, 23, 1944, was a navigator in the Royal Canadian Air Force, while his brother George Hong, who died Sept. 8, 1944, was an army private. The two men were among 600 to 800 Canadian-born Chinese who volunteered to serve in the Canadian military during the Second World War.

australian high school brawl

Videos of a mass brawl at a Sydney, Australia high school have been posted on YouTube, along with abusive comments suggesting the fight was racially motivated: School 'race' brawl on film. The video seems to be an all-out fist fight between two groups of men. According to the story, one clip, tagged "Cumberland High Fight - Wogz vs Azns," is posted with a hip-hop soundtrack and the title page "Azns Get Jumped 12 on 12 not 30 on 12 Mudafukaz." I did a YouTube search for these videos and didn't come up with anything, but the article links to a brief clip. I honestly couldn't tell what was going on, except for a lot of shouting.

you don't take away a man's koi

A restaurant owner gets to keep his koi: Restaurant Owner Fights for Koi, and Wins. This guy waged a lengthy and costly court battle against the State of Maine to reclaim the fish, which are illegal in the state without a permit. But he got them back. You take away the man's koi, you take away his good luck and prosperity. And that ain't right.

more on the namesake

Two more stories on The Namesake: Nair's 'The Namesake': A Life Between Two Worlds. And here: 'The Namesake' spoke to their hearts. Really, my friends. Do check out this film.

chinese adoptees enter jewish womanhood

The New York Times has a story on the generation of Chinese girls adopted by Jewish parents who are now coming of age and taking the rite of passage into Jewish womanhood—bat mitzvah: Journey From a Chinese Orphanage to a Jewish Rite of Passage. You'd think the usual narrative would be that kids are growing up all confused, but the article seems to indicate that the kids are pretty well-adjusted and comfortable with their identities.

3.09.2007

sfiaaff: castro theatre coupon

The 25th San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival is less than a week away. It's gonna be pretty freaking awesome. Have you bought your tickets yet? Shows sell out fast, so make sure you've got yours. And if you're going to a screening at the Castro Theatre, why not get a dollar off? Just print out this coupon and present it at the box office to get a dollar discount to any festival screening at the historic Castro Theatre (excluding Opening Night and Centerpiece Presentation). Personally, I recommend the Flower Drum Song Sing-a-long screening. The festival runs March 15-25 in San Francisco, Berkeley and San Jose.

woody pak and prime are hyped

Indie label Chaos Theory Music just released a new single, "HYPED Urban Remix," a rock-rap crossover collaboration between producer/composer Woody Pak and rapper Prime. It's the first in line amongst Chaos Theory's upcoming series of singles called the "Out of the Box" series, which will showcase songs by Woody Pak featuring various artists and rap artists. The video for "Hyped," as well as a "making-of" documentary is available for viewing here and here. I'm listening to the track right now, it's pretty hot. The single, both in physical and digital form, is available for purchase at the Chaos Theory Music store. Take a listen, 'cause it's good stuff.

npr's "this i believe": yinong young-xu

"I believe that we are brutal because innocence can be corrupted, like mine was as a 6-year-old in a time of revolution." Yinong Young-Xu, who emigrated from Shanghai to the U.S. when he was 16, offers a very interesting perspective for the audio essay series "This I Believe" on NPR's Morning Edition: A Potential for Brutality.

3.08.2007

best damn korean monster movie ever


The fantastic South Korean monster movie The Host opens in select U.S. theaters on Friday, and to celebrate this occasion the fine folks at Magnolia Pictures are giving away three posters, signed by acclaimed director Bong Joon-ho, to the good readers of this website. It's this crazy awesome image of a monster tail-thing coming out of the water. Tell me that is not cool.

To enter the drawing, you must answer three very easy questions: 1) Name one of director Bong Joon-ho's previous films. 2) Name one of actor Song Kang-ho's previous films. 3) Name your favorite movie monster (no wrong answer for this one).

Email me your answers, along with your mailing address, with "HOST POSTER" clearly written in the subject line, by Wednesday, March 14th. Duplicate entries, as well as entries that don't follow these simple instructions, will be thrown out. Three winners will be randomly picked from the correct responses. Good luck. To learn more about The Host, go here.

UPDATE: The contest is now closed. Thank you for entries. Winners will be announced shortly.

Here's a good interview with director Bong: Exclusive: The Host's Bong Joon-ho. I highly recommend this film. I had heard it was a huge hit in Korea, and a lot of folks told me it was pretty damn awesome, so my expectations were high. I don't particularly like or dislike monster movies, but given the kind of Hollywood garbage that passes for a creature feature these days, the genre hasn't done much for me in recent years.

The Host isn't perfect, but damn, it's a hell of a fun ride. On the surface, you could say The Host is about a horrifying monster that emerges from the Han River to wreak havoc on the people of Seoul. The gigantic monster eats people. That could sum it up.

But Bong takes it to another level, telling the story of a family trying to get their beloved daughter back. At first thinking she's dead, they realize she has survived the monster attack when they hear her voice over a faint cell phone call. So they set off to get her back. It helps that her uncle was once a crafty student protestor during his college days, and her aunt is a ranking medalist in archery. These skills will, of course, come in handy later.

Outside the standard monster movie plot, the film explores issues of U.S. military occupation, the country's deep class divide, the breakdown of the family unit. And like Bong's previous films, he manages to mix in the frightening and creepy stuff with some wonderfully comic moments. There was a scene where literally laughing and crying at the same time.

It's a shining gem in the genre—I really hope this film gets the audience it deserves in the United States. My only real concern is that much of its appeal is so culturally specific, it'll just be passed off as a substandard monster flick by American audiences. But there's so much more to it!

I can see why this movie was such a box office smash in Korea. Korean audiences got to see this grotesque beast chomping up people on the shore of the Han, right there in their own locale. They must have ate it up. It's also the main reason why the announced Hollywood remake is such a terrible idea. Anyway, go check out The Host, even if you don't like monster movies. It's an enormously entertaining good ride.

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