steven okazaki's white light/black rain on hbo

Next week on HBO, do not miss Academy Award-winner Steven Okazaki's documentary White Light, Black Rain: The Destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, an examination of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki from the ground level. It airs Monday, August 6th—the anniversary of Hiroshima. And if you miss the broadcast, catch the film on DVD, available on August 7th.

There have been numerous films on the bombings, but suprisingly few have focused on the stories of those who experienced it firsthand. And none of them have done it quite as comprehensively and powerfully as White Light/Black Rain. The film provides a narrative account of the bombings, weaving together the testimonies and recollections of fourteen survivors. These are the survivors of nuclear war, and they have something to tell us.

I saw the film's world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival last January, and it was a haunting, powerful experience. People need to see this film, and these stories need to be heard and understood... before they're forgotten. The world's current stockpile of nuclear weapons is capable of repeating the destruction at Hiroshima 400,000 times over. Literally, the power to destroy the mankind. And these are the people who have seen a glimpse of it firsthand. Learn more about the film here. And here's an interview with Steven Okazaki: White Light / Black Rain: Interview with Hiroshima and Nagasaki Documentary Director. And another good interview in Asia Pacific Arts: The Difficult Questions

jyp invades nyc

Here's a recent Village Voice article on South Korean pop mogul Jin Young Park, whose company JYP Entertainment recently branched out and set up shop in New York: Seoul Train. Park purchased a $4 million townhouse and turned the place into a dorm/recording studio, complete with party space below. He's like the Korean Berry Gordy, building his own Motown-like empire. You may not have heard of him here in America, but he's kind of a big deal, and the stateside launch is apparently big news in Korea. This is the guy who brought the world Rain. Yes, that Rain. But earlier this month, Rain opted to leave JYP after his five-year contract expired, and now Park is looking for his next big thing...

apa activist training and midwest summit

Midwest friends! I want to make one last push for this weekend's APA Activist Training and Midwest Summit, sponsored by Asian Pacific Americans for Progress, happening Saturday, August 4th in Chicago. Join fellow progressive Asian Pacific American activists, student leaders, community leaders, volunteers from throughout the midwest and learn the basic tools of organizing including volunteer recruitment, planning events, targeting, phonebanking and other useful campaign skills. The training will be led by Parag Mehta, Director of Training at the Democratic National Committee, along with Eric Byler and other special guests. Sounds like it's going to be a really interesting, valuable day. Sign up, learn a few things, make some new friends. It'll be good for you. For more information, go here.

lust, caution trailer... again

I posted the trailer for Ang Lee's new espionage thriller Lust, Caution several weeks ago, but here it is again in sexy Quicktime format, as opposed to crappy YouTube video. The film stars Tony Leung, Joan Chen and Tang Wei, among others. Really looking forward to this one. The film opens in limited release on September 28.

register for the inspire '07 leadership conference

Just wanted to remind everyone about the APA Five's upcoming INSPIRE '07 Asian American leadership conference, happening Labor Day weekend, August 31 through September 3 at the Westin St. Francis in San Francisco.

The goal is to provide young potential leaders from the APA community with workshops, panels and real opportunities to build leadership skills, such as public speaking, networking and fundraising. It's a packed schedule of some great speakers and participants from the community, including Congressman Mike Honda, California State Controller John Chiang, Yul Kwon, Norm Mineta, Judy Chu, Elaine Kim, Justin Lin, Michael Kang, and a whole bunch of other noteworthy names who are making an impact. Get connected with the best and brightest form all industry fields. Early bird registration just passed, but you still have the chance to participate and get involved. For more information, go here

chuck & larry offends manaa

Here's the latest from MANAA (Media Action Network for Asian Americans), doing what the do best—raising a stink. This time it's about Rob Schneider's offensive, grossly unfunny Asian schtick in I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry. Here's the official word from MANAA:
MANAA Blasts Rob Schneider For Offensive Racial Caricature in Chuck & Larry Movie

LOS ANGELES - MANAA (the Media Action Network for Asian Americans), the only organization solely dedicated to monitoring the media and advocating balanced, sensitive, and positive coverage and depictions of Asian Americans, is offended by Rob Schneider's "yellow face" portrayal of a Japanese man in the current #1 movie in the country, I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry starring Adam Sandler and Kevin James.

In a scene where the main characters journey to Canada to get married, Schneider plays a minister who makes their union official, donning prosthetic make up (slanted eyes, bigger nose, darker skin color, etc.) to play a stereotypical Japanese nerd with thick eye-glasses and a bowl-style hair cut who speaks in broken English with missing "r"s.

Entertainment Weekly's Lisa Schwarzbaum wrote, "I felt victimized by the stereotype shtick of ...Schneider." And Emmy-nominated actor Masi Oka ("Heroes") told USA Today he was also offended by the yellow-face portrayal. Says MANAA Founding President Guy Aoki, "In August of 2006, shortly after Mel Gibson's tirade against Jews, Schneider, pointing out he was half Jewish, took out a full page ad in Daily Variety promising to never work with the writer/director/actor. We wish Rob had the same pride about being part-Asian. Somehow, we don't think he'd make the same assertion against someone who spouted anti-Asian hatred because the actor has himself done quite a good job of putting down people of Asian descent. As Richard Roeper of Ebert and Roeper recently said in his review of Chuck and Larry, "Rob Schneider's Filipino background [he's a quarter] hardly excuses his portrayal of an Asian minister in perhaps the most egregious stereotype of its kind since Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany's."

Rob Schneider also repeatedly perpetuated the tired stereotype that Asian men have small penises in a 2005 movie he co-wrote, Deuce Bigalo: European Gigolo (e.g. an Asian male prostitute says in broken English, "I no more man-whore! Too much danger! I take my three inches elsewhere!").

Besides an Asian American fireman who gets no lines, the only other Asian faces we see in Chuck and Larry are five Asian women who come out of a van wearing Hooters-like clothes to "pleasure" Chuck (Sandler) and who're later seen "having fun" with each other while waiting for Chuck to come back to bed. "Therefore," Aoki points out, "the impression people get from watching this film is that Asian men are disgusting-looking geeks and that Asian women are sluts."

"Sandler showed his movie to GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) and edited out scenes they deemed offensive because he didn't want to make a movie that would offend the gay community. He should've shown it to MANAA; we would've had quite a few things to say to him (MANAA has consulted with studios about their films, including Rising Sun and Pearl Harbor)." MANAA is reachable at manaaletters@hotmail.com, (213) 486-4433, and P.O. Box 11105/Burbank, CA 91510.
Thanks for the info, but honestly, I didn't need a press release to tell me the material is offensive. Just one look at the trailer and it's pretty obvious there's something jacked up with Rob Schneider's character. But the movie somehow made another $19 million at the box office over the weekend. I guess people really don't care when it comes to blatant anti-Asian caricatures in movies. The studios certainly don't. P.S. It's official: Rob Schneider is a certified expert at making an ass of himself.

filipino workers forcibly taken to build u.s. embassy in baghdad

This is video footage from an Oversight Committee hearing examining the performance of the State Department and its contractors in the construction of the new $600 million U.S. embassy in Baghdad. The Committee reviewed questions regarding the embassy compound construction as well as allegations of labor abuse through improper contracting practices.

Here, Rory Mayberry, a former subcontractor employee for First Kuwaiti Trading & Contracting Company, gives opening testimony in which he witnessed U.S.-hired contractors in Iraq essentially kidnapping Filipino workers to build the embassy: Hearing on US Embassy in Iraq: Mayberry's Opening. The workers thought they had signed up to work in Dubai hotels, when in fact they were being sent to Baghdad for construction—a fact no one told them until the plane took off and the captain announced their destination. More here: US Congress told: 51 Filipinos smuggled into Iraq. Crazy! Distrubing! Yet... not surprising.

aaldef launches new jersey asian american legal project

The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund recently opened new offices in Newark, NJ to assist Asian American citizens with legal services, in response to the growing Asian American population in the state: Asians get allies in legal system. Currently, New Jersey's Asian-American population reached over a 600,000, a 29 percent increase from 2000 U.S. Census Bureau estimates. AALDEF aims to ensure Asian Americans are paid minimum wage and overtime, obtain fair voters rights, and are educated about legal services the organization provides. New Jersey just got a little more yellow power.


house passes comfort women resolution

It was an important day in the fight for justice on behalf of comfort women. Today, the House passed HR 121, calling on the government of Japan to finally accept responsibility for its Imperial Armed Forces' coercion of women into sexual slavery in World War II: House wants Japan apology on sex slaves. Now, the nonbinding resolution is largely symbolic, because it doesn't actually force the Japanese government to do anything. But the cause now has the important official backing of the United States House of Representatives. The resolution urges Japan—which has never fully accepted responsiblity for its wartime atrocities—to "formally acknowledge, apologize and accept historical responsibility in a clear and unequivocal manner" for the suffering of "comfort women." More here: House seeks Japan's apology on "comfort women". Here's Amnesty International's press release on the resolution:
Amnesty International Calls U.S. House of Representatives Resolution an Important Step Toward Justice for "Comfort Women"

(Washington, D.C.) - Amnesty International today commended the U.S. House of Representatives for passing House Resolution 121, calling on the government of Japan to finally accept responsibility for its Imperial Armed Forces' coercion of women into sexual slavery in World War II.

"The U.S. House of Representatives resolution sends an unambiguous signal to the Japanese government that justice is long overdue to the victims forced into prostitution by the Japanese military during World War II," said Dr. Purna Sen, Asia-Pacific Program Director with Amnesty International.

"This resolution also sends a powerful message to the survivors, who have combated a lifetime of hardship and stigma, and who still bear the terrible scars from the sexual slavery - that their plight is not forgotten, and their demands for justice and redress remain relevant to a world where violence against women is still rampant.

"Amnesty International calls on the Japanese government to take immediate steps to provide legal redress, a full apology and full reparations to survivors of sexual slavery including restitution, compensation, rehabilitation and guarantees of non-repetition."

Tens of thousands of women were forcibly abducted and deceived into sexual slavery in Japanese military-controlled "comfort stations" organized in the different occupied countries before and during World War II. Amnesty International believes that the crimes perpetrated against these women amount to crimes against humanity. To this day, the Japanese government has refused adequately and unequivocally to acknowledge its responsibility for the crimes committed against former "comfort women."

For more on Amnesty International's work on Japan, please go to http://www.amnestyusa.org/By_Country/Japan/page.do?id=1011178 .
And here's House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's statement on the resolution:
Pelosi: Congress Stands With 'Comfort Women'

Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi released the following statement today upon the passage of H.Res. 121, a resolution calling on the Japanese government to formally acknowledge and apologize for its Imperial Armed Forces' coercion of young women, known as "comfort women," into sexual slavery during its occupation of Asia and the Pacific Islands during the World War II era:

"Today, the House of Representatives made a strong statement in support of human rights by calling on the Japanese government to formally acknowledge and apologize for their forced coercion of women into sexual slavery during World War II.

"More than 200,000 women were subject to inhumane treatment at the hands of the Japanese Imperial Army. Ironically called 'comfort women,' these women were deceived, kidnapped, and beaten to perform sexual acts against their will.

"More than 50 years later, the Japanese government has still not issued a clear apology to the 'comfort women' and has yet to formally recognize the atrocities they committed during that era. This is disappointing because Japan is a critical ally and has taken a leading international role on issues such as global warming and assistance to the poorest people in the world. Yet in this case, the Japanese government should do more to recognize these injustices.

"Although the violence against the 'comfort women' occurred many years ago, their wounds have yet to heal. Only a few hundred of these brave women are still alive. They continue to tell their story today, so future generations will not repeat the mistakes of the past.

"Today's vote sends a strong signal that we will stand with the 'comfort women' in their struggle for truth and recognition."
The HR 121 Coalition will be holding a 'report back' press conference tomorrow in Los Angeles, to give a full account of the passage of the resolution in Congress, as well as sharing plans for the future. Tuesday, July 31st, 2:30pm at the JJ Grand Hotel in Koreatown (620 S. Harvard Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90005). For more information, contact Daniel (Sung Ho) Lee at 310-713-0089.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is not happy, calling the passage of the resolution "regrettable": U.S. Call for Sex Slavery Apology 'Regrettable,' Says Japanese Leader. You know what's truly "regrettable"? A world leader who categorically denies and refuses to acknowledge his government's past sins. Japan has so much to offer the world community, but its progress will continually be hindered until this issue is finally laid to rest.

second south korean hostage killed

Police in Aghanistan have discovered the body of a second South Korean hostage killed by the Taliban. A purported Taliban spokesman claimed the hostage was killed because the Afghan government failed to release imprisoned insurgents: Police find body of 2nd slain SKorean. The victim's body was found on the side of the road in the village of Arizo Kalley in Andar District. This ordeal has gripped the entire nation of South Korea, as well as shone a global spotlight on the country's missionary efforts abroad. The hostages are members of Saemmul Church from Bundang, near Seoul: Asia's Apostles

welcome to cambodia town, usa

A stretch of Anaheim Street in Long Beach has been officially named the nation's first "Cambodia Town": Cambodia Town is now on the map. Long Beach, known as the Cambodian capital of the United States, supposedly has the largest concentration of Cambodians outside of the home country. And now it's official:
City and community leaders say the designation not only will recognize the contributions of Cambodians, but also will help revitalize the neighborhood by attracting more businesses, visitors and tourists to the area. San and others are making plans to put up Cambodia Town signs and set up a business improvement district and are considering building a community center and a memorial to those who died under the brutal Khmer Rouge regime.

"Now we have the name," said San, chairwoman of Cambodia Town Inc. "Now we have to make it happen. We have the responsibility to make the place nice."

Long Beach, known as the Cambodian capital of the United States, is believed to have the largest concentration of Cambodians outside of the home country. Some of the first Cambodians in the United States were students who attended Cal State Long Beach in the 1960s as part of an exchange program. Waves of refugees followed in the 1970s as they escaped the Khmer Rouge regime, which took the lives of more than 1 million people. According to 2000 census figures, about 20,000 Cambodians live in Long Beach, but community leaders estimate a larger population.
You've got Chinatown. You've got Little Tokyo. You've got Koreatown. You've got Thai Town... and now, you've got Cambodia Town. God bless America.

twisted misters win vh1's world series of pop culture

VH1 recently wrapped the second edition of its highly entertaining World Series of Pop Culture, where contestants compete using only their wits and vast grasp of otherwise useless pop culture knowledge. This year, the competition was dominated by a cocky, trash-talking team called the Twisted Misters, fronted by a highly-entertaining guy named Victor Lee. He turned out to be one of those guys viewers either loved or hated, but hell, his team won. Supreme champions of the 2007 World Series of Pop Culture! (And winners of $250,000.) The show's blog has a breakdown of the final showdown: FINALS! TWISTED MISTERS vs. WOCKA WOCKA! Here's an interview with the Twisted Misters. And here's Victor's blog: Victor Sells Out. Some very funny stuff there...

revisiting sa-i-gu

As many of you know, this year marks the fifteenth anniversary of the 1992 Los Angeles riots. For many Korean Americans, "Sa-I-Gu" (April 29) was a cataclysmic baptism by fire into the United States, when racial tensions exploded into a storm of damage, death and destruction. This week, there will be a screening and discussion of Dai-Sil Kim Gibson's documentary Sa-I-Gu, as well as her follow-up film Wet Sand. Wednesday, August 1st at the ImaginAsian Theater in New York. Here are the details:
Revisiting SA-I-GU
August 1, 2007, 6:00 PM
The ImaginAsian Theater
239 East 59th Street
(b/w 2nd & 3rd Ave.)
Please contact Ron Kim for info and RSVP: P: 917-363-4853 E: ron@grooted.org

**Screenings of Sa-I-Gu, a documentary by Christine Choy, Elaine Kim and Dai Sil Kim-Gibson, and Wet Sand, followed by a panel discussion**

Sa-I-Gu (April 29th in Korean) symbolizes the social meltdown and havoc when Los Angeles erupted after four cops were acquitted in the beating of Rodney King in 1992. In New York City, Korean Americans also faced organized boycotts and other actions. Sa-I-Gu was part of an era of heightened race tensions and distrust of our government when underserved communities suffering from institutional inequity vented their anger towards each other.

Our community forum will revisit Sa-I-Gu fifteen years later and discuss the current status of government accountability, inter-community development, and civic engagement.
Panelists include:
* Dai Sil Kim-Gibson, Film Producer
* Grace Lyu Vockhausen, Human Rights Commissioner
* David Chu, SVP of ImaginAsian Entertainment
* Angela Perry, National Urban Fellows, Inc.
* Moderated by John Choe, Chief of Staff to NYC Councilman John Liu

Korean American League for Civic Action and grooted.org

Co-sponsored by APAs for Progress and ImaginAsian Theater. Partners include Korean American Youth Foundation, Korean American Voters' Council, Museum of Chinese Americans, Korean American Empowerment Council, and Korean American Democrats of New York.
Seems like this is happening a couple of months late, but it's still important and timely. It should be really interesting evening. For more information and further details, go here.

gene luen yang's american born chinese wins eisner award

This is great news... Gene Luen Yang's acclaimed graphic novel American Born Chinese has racked up another award, and it's a big one. Over the weekend, as part of Comic-Con 2007, American Born Chinese was presented with the Eisner Award for Best Graphic Album. This is one of the highest honors in the industry, given for creative achievement in comic books. Here's the full list of winners: 2007 Eisner Awards Winners. This award is awesome, and well-deserved. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I love American Born Chinese. If you haven't read it, I highly recommend checking it out.


min jin lee's free food for millionaires

I've been hearing a ton of good buzz for Free Food for Millionaires, a recent novel by Min Jin Lee. I'm told it reads like an updated Victorian-era novel filled with a cast of Korean American characters. Heralded as an overnight sensation, it's been showered with praise by literary critics from all over, who are calling Lee a genuine, fresh new voice. Here's the New York Times book review: Korean War. Here's an interview with Min Jin Lee from Newsweek: Forget the Comparisons. She's Unique. And here's Min Jin Lee on NPR's Tell Me More: Author Min Jin Lee: 'Free Food For Millionaires'. It sounds pretty fascinating to say the least, and I'm looking forward to checking it out.

hollywood, white people, and foreign settings

This hilarious item from C.H.U.D. hits the nail on the head when it comes to Hollywood's handling of foreign histories and locales: WHITE EYE FOR A RED DRAGON. Basically, Hollywood believes western audiences can't swallow other cultures, races and ethnicities on film without a healthy spoonful of white people smoothing the way for them. Like, handsome white Leonardo DiCaprio leading us through the diamond trade in Sierra Leone, or handsome white Tom Cruise showing us Japan at the end of the samurai era, or a hundred other movies doing the exact same thing in different locations and eras. And now, we have Robert De Niro. According to Variety, De Niro and his producing partner, Jane Rosenthal, have opted to use the rise of Chairman Mao Zedong as a backdrop for a love story between a white journalist and "a Chinese interpreter who may have been a spy": De Niro, Rosenthal team on 'Dragon'. Ugh. It's apparently based on Roy Rowan's book Chasing the Dragon: A Veteran Journalist's Firsthand Account of the 1949 Chinese Revolution.

Speaking of movies about white people in China, The Children of Huang Shi is an upcoming movie set during the Japanese invasion of China during World War II. Before you get all excited, this isn't a movie about that conflict. Rather, it's another one of these movies about white people coming in to save Asians from their miserable predicament. It's about "a conscientious reporter (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers) who leads a bunch of war orphans to a remote village away from the fighting." The movie also stars Chow Yun Fat and Michelle Yeoh, and is directed by Roger Spottiswoode, the guy behind such fine films as Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot. More info here: CHILDREN OF WAR.

nail salons, beware

I recently heard that stand-up comedian Anjelah Johnson would be joining the cast of MadTV in the fall: 'Mad' world: Pair join Fox sketch show. YouTube fans might know her from a popular bit she does about going to the Vietnamese-owned nail salon. If you watch the clip, people go NUTS for her imitation of the Vietnamese manicurist, accent and everything. When I first heard about this clip earlier this year, it was one of the most divisive bits of comedy I'd seen in a while... I had readers telling me, "I'm Vietnamese, my mom works in a nail salon, and I think this is so racist!" but also an equal number of people telling me, "I'm Vietnamese, my mom/aunt/sister/cousin works in a nail salon, and I think this is dead-on hilarious!" So I really didn't know what to think.

Here's an article from the Orange County Register from a few months back on reactions from the Vietnamese community to the clip: In the nail salon. One thing's for sure; Anjelah has definitely done her research—she could've gone for one of those awful generic Asian accents. But like I've said before, I'm not a big a fan of non-Asian comics doing Asian accents, in most contexts, because it usually just means a predominantly non-Asian audience laughing their asses off at Asians. Anyway, now you'll probably see Anjelah doing her schtick on national television...


event raises $64,000 for chungs

As I've mentioned several times before, they had fundraiser this week for the Chungs, whose dry cleaning business has had to deal with a ridiculous $54 million lawsuit over an allegedly lost pair of pants. The event apparently raised $64,000, which will help pay off the Chungs' enormous legal costs: $54M Pants Star in Fundraiser. If you went to the event, you got to see the actual pair of pants that started this whole ordeal. Rather unimpressive, if you ask me. Roy Pearson is a sucka. Here's a press release on the event from the Institute for Legal Reform: U.S. Chamber Helps D.C. Dry Cleaner Pay Legal Bills. And here's a thank you from the Chungs. If you were unable to make the event, but would still like to help them out, visit ChungFundraiser.com. And if you live in the DC area, why not patronize Custom Cleaners?

missing girl's car pulled from river

Sad news. Police in Green Bay, Wisconsin have found the car of 21-year-old student Mahalia Xiong, who went missing two weeks ago, submerged in a river with a woman's body behind the wheel: Police: Missing student's car pulled from river. An autopsy will be conducted to identify the body and determine a cause of death, but all evidence indicates that is indeed Mahalia, and her death was an accident.

22 south korean hostages alive in afghanistan

I haven't been following this story very closely... The Taliban are currently holding 22 South Koreans hostage in Afghanistan: Korean hostages alive in Afghanistan, say Taliban. They're a group of Christian volunteers who were snatched last week from a bus on the main highway in Ghazni. On Wednesday, the Taliban killed the group's leader. They apparently want to exchange the hostages with Taliban prisoners being held by the government. Let's hope for their safe return...


extra extra yellowface

So... I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry was somehow the number one movie at the box office last weekend. I mentioned this movie a few months back, when folks caught of glimpse of Rob Schneider (above> doing some kind of crazy yellowface in the trailer. I don't planning on seeing it, and the word on the street is, the movie pretty much manages to offend anybody and everybody. According to the San Francisco Chronicle:
Whatever gay stereotypes exist in this movie -- and they probably number in the hundreds -- the writers of the comedy are much tougher on morbidly obese people, hot women, the homeless, mailmen, unattractive women and particularly Asians. Even the band Journey probably deserves a bigger apology from the makers of "Chuck & Larry" than anyone in the gay community.
And this little choice snippet, particularly about Schneider's character:
Note that the producers didn't invite any Asian American groups to check out the movie, which features Rob Schneider as an Asian minister who is a racially offensive Abercrombie & Fitch T-shirt come to life.
Schneider appears to be the Jewish/Asian owner of a wedding chapel who married Chuck and Larry. And it's bad. How bad? Bad:
But the most appalling aspect of "C&L" is Rob Schneider, who plays the owner of a wedding chapel and offers up the most offensive Asian caricature since Mickey Rooney's notorious yellow-face performance in "Breakfast at Tiffany's." What were they thinking? Simple: They weren't.
Never mind the fact that Rob Schneider is actually half-Filipino. Doesn't really seem to matter, does it? Here, he's got some kind of makeup job going on to look super, over-the-top Asian. Recalling Breakfast at Tiffany's Mickey Rooney is an appropriate comparison. Somebody, please revoke this guy's card to the club. That's racist!

judge signs order for anna mae he custody

It appears the end of ugly, heartbreaking saga... This week, Judge Curtis S. Person of Juvenile Court of Memphis signed an order returning custody of 8-year-old Anna Mae He, to her birth parents, Shaoqiang and Qin Luo He: Tennessee: Couple Win Back Daughter. The couple originally came to the United States from China so Mr. He could attend college. When the family hit hard times, they place Anna Mae in what they thought was temporary foster care with Jerry and Louise Baker. The Bakers apparently thought the arrangement was permanent. And so a knock-down, drag-out legal battle has been waging for the last seven years... with Anna Mae in the middle. Although she will now be joining the family that she should've rightfully been with all along, this is not going to be easy for Anna Mae...

the vietnamese american wave

This is a great article from the Orange Country register on the new generation of Vietnamese American filmmakers recently making waves on the scene: A new film wave. Native Orange County guys doing great stuff like Ham Tran (Journey From the Fall), Charlie Nguyen (The Rebel), Victor Vu (First Morning) and Stephane Gauger (The Owl and the Sparrow). We've really seen some awesome work from these guys over the last few years, and I have a feeling it's going to get even better.

new asian american cinema blog: chasing chan

Just wanted to throw some link love to Chasing Chan, a recently launched blog focusing on "Asian American Cinema and Beyond." It kicks off with a link to Oliver Wang's interview with Justin Lin for ACV's Cinevue. There are also a bunch of archived reviews of select "classic" Asian American films from the past, like Better Luck Tomorrow, Eat a Bowl of Tea, The Debut and Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle. It's just starting out, but I hope it really goes somewhere, because there's a ton of potential. Check it out here.

no asylum for chinese spouses

Last week, a federal appeals court ruled that the husbands of women forced to abort a pregnancy or undergo involuntary sterilization, or else face persecution under China's coercive population control program, do not automatically qualify for asylum in the United States: Asylum Ruling Leaves Out Chinese Spouses. The ruling by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that U.S. law does not automatically grant asylum to spouses or partners in cases in which the women have been persecuted under China's family-planning policy, which limits most urban couples to one child and families in some rural areas to two.

last chance to see n*gger wetb*ck ch*nk

For those of you in Los Angeles, this is your last week to check out the groundbreaking, provocative stage show N*gger Wetb*ck Ch*nk, winding down its run at the Ivar Theater in Hollywood. Basically, it's three guys doing a unique blend of theater, hip-hop, poetry and history, providing their irreverent and humorous take on race relations in America. The show plays through Sunday, July 29th. It's played all over the place, getting rave reviews, and entertaining audiences around the country. Here's a radio interview with Rafael Augustin, Allan Axibal, and Miles Ellington Gregley from last month: N*GGER WETB*CK CH*NK (scroll down to the bottom). And here's a review from the Los Angeles Times: 'NWC' skewers race with wicked humor. To learn more about the show, go here.

fire destroys a bit of history

Last week in Alhambra, California, a fire destoryed a 75-year-old mall in the heart of the San Gabriel Valley's Chinese business district: Blaze destroys bit of history in Alhambra. To many, building was long considered something of a crossroads of China and L.A.'s Chinese American community, telling the story of decades upon decades of Chinese immigration into the region. Now it's gone.


the hardened criminals of cebu

This video from a prison in the Philippines has been making the rounds lately. It is not what I thought I would see when I clicked on "Filipino Prison Thriller." It's like a thousand Filipino prison inmates literally doing their rendition of Michael Jackson's "Thriller":

teen arrested in attack of 69-year-old man

An update on the murder of 69-year-old Wai-Ho Kwok in Philadelphia: Teen Arrested In Deadly Attack Of Elderly Man. Two weeks ago, he was taking a walk when a guy with a group of teens came up behind, put him in a headlock for no reason, then threw his head to the ground. Kwok's skull was crushed. He died last week when his family decided to take him off life support. Now, police have arrested a 17-year-old kid who allegedly told other teens before the attack: "We are going to catch some bodies." I don't even know what that means. That kid needs an asskicking.

kal penn joins house

Looks like Kal Penn, how is having himself one hell of a year, will be joining the cast of Fox's House next season: 'House' gets a new group of trainees. He's part of a group being brought in after the resignations of Dr. House's underlings last season. No specific information on Kal's character quite just yet, but he will no doubt suffer quite a bit of verbal abuse from the caustic title character. Between this, The Namesake, and the upcoming Harold and Kumar sequel, this guy's career is riding pretty high.

mahalia xiong is missing

Almost two weeks ago in Wisconsin, 21-year-old student Mahalia Xiong was reported missing after a night of bowling and drinking with friends: Another Wisconsin College Student Missing. Police are reaching out to the community to help with the investigation, and keeping an eye out for Mahalia or her car: Police Asking for Help in Search of Mahalia Xiong. She was driving a white, four-door, 1996 Mercury Sable, with Wisconsin license plate TFD-715. I also came across this website with further information on the search: Help Find Mahalia Xiong

yao and yi news

Last week, the All-China Sports Federation issued an unprecedented public criticism of Yao Ming for reporting late to national team training: Chinese officials critical of Yao for late arrival at camp. In the Federation-owned newspaper China Sports Daily, Yao was faulted for taking too much time off to recover from his last NBA season, and taking too much time planning his wedding and making appearances for the Special Olympics and 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. But Yao Ming isn't taking the criticism lightly: Yao Ming Hits Back At "Privileged" Jibes.

Meanwhile, in other basketball news... last week, a Beijing newspaper published a story quoting Chen Haitao, owner of the Guangdong Tigers basketball club, saying Yi Jianlian would "definitely not" sign with the Milwaukee Bucks. However, a team official said it was untrue and the club had not talked with the newspaper: Beijing newspaper stands by Yi story; club says it's false. The Bucks are still hanging on to thopes that they can successfully woo Yi to Milwaukee: Bucks keeping Yi hopes alive


chinese buns not so dirty after all

By now, you've probably heard that the news report on the "cardboard"-stuffed steamed buns in China was completely fabricated, with the reporter now detained by Beijing police: China reporter held over cardboard-in-buns story. The reporter apparently made up the story in order to garner "higher audience ratings." Idiot. Beijing TV has apologized for failing to check the report's authenticity. More here: Beijing TV Reporter Arrested Over Cardboard-Filled Bun Hoax. Don't believe everything you hear about China's food scare. But of course, they keep publishing sensational stories like this: Mmm, rodents! China feasts on rat infestation. No wonder we've got all this hysteria about avoiding all things Chinese. But try as they might, people are finding that rather difficult: My year without 'Made in China'.


support the chungs

One last reminder... If you're in the Washington DC area, you've got an opportunity tomorrow night to support the Chung family, owners of Custom Cleaners, who were slapped with a ridiculous $54 million lawsuit by Roy "Ass" Pearson over an allegedly lost pair of pants. Pearson lost, and the Chungs were vindicated (was there really any doubt?) but they were still left with the financial and emotional toll of dealing with this unncessary legal turmoil for the last two years. So, tomorrow night, July 24th at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, there's a fundraising event co-hosted by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform and the American Tort Reform Association to help defray the defense costs. If you'd like to attend attend, or can't make it but would like to make a donation anyway, go to ChungFundraiser.com for more information.

72 hours later... winners!

Last night at the 30th Asian American International Film Festival in New York, AAFilmLab presented the winners of this year's 72 Hour Shootout. Seventy-two crazy, frantic hours brainstorming, writing, shooting and editing a worthy film for the competition culminated in a screening of the top ten entries. It was a solid block of films that really raised the bar for this competition... but in the end, the grand prize (and supreme bragging rights) went to Team: 100% (Nadine Truong, Christopher Nguyen, Ryan Kim) for their film You've Got Male. A funny, well-made piece that is sure to screen at a film festival near you. First runner up was awarded to Team HeadOn (Neil Sehgal, David J.Lee) for Elizabeth Ong is Missing, and second runner up went to Foreign Image (Viet Nguyen) for Secret Chinese Secret. Good stuff. For the complete top ten and individual award winners, go here.

"why so angry???" panel at moca

Last minute reminder... if you're in New York, please come check out this panel I'm participating in tonight at the Museum of Chinese in the Americas. It looks like it's going to be a really interesting discussion, with unique perspectives from a diverse group of personalities. Here are the details:
If Anything is Possible: A Blueprint for Change

Monday, July 23 at 6:30 PM
at Museum of Chinese in the Americas
70 Mulberry Street 2nd floor (at Bayard)
RSVP and info 212-618-4785 ext 106
members/nonmembers $ 3/5

The Asian American community has made valiant efforts to respond to racist views and negligent media portrayals. Is outrage the answer? We’ll bring key people together to speak about their experiences responding to pivotal incidents in the community. We’ll facilitate dialogue that brings about innovative ways to effectively act together.

This roundtable discussion is part of a new MoCA quarterly series, which aims to tackle current and specific topics that impact the Asian American community in a 'nuts and bolts' style. Rather than simply elucidating issues, the objective is a proactive discussion aimed at creating a blueprint for change.
Fellow participants include Andrew Hsiao (WBAI, New Press), Albert Lim (Fallout Central) Beau Sia (Def Jam Poet), Carmen Van Kerckhove (NewDemographic.com), Minya Oh aka Miss Info (HOT 97 FM), and moderator Jeff Yang (SFGate's "Asian Pop"). I'm pretty excited for this discussion. Heck, I'm just looking forward to being the same room with these folks. See you there! And please say hello.


aaiff event plugs

Thanks to everyone who came out to the In Focus conversation with Justin Lin last night, part of the Asian American International Film Festival. Aside from running short on time, it was a good talk, with some great insights from Justin, Sung Kang and Roger Fan about their careers and Asian American cinema in general.

This is kind of short notice, but here are a couple of other noteworthy AAIFF events happening today... Today at 2:30pm, check out this great panel Secret Identity: Asian Americans in Comics. Asian American comic book creators will share their work while discussing Asian representation in comics. The panel includes legendary writer Larry Hama (Wolverine, G.I. Joe), indie sensation Christine Norrie (Hopeless Savages, Breaking Up), Pornsak Pichetshote (Vertigo Comics), and filmmaker-turned-comics writer Greg Pak (Incredible Hulk, World War Hulk). Should be a really interesting discussion for the fangeeks in all of us. It's happening today at 2:30pm at the Asia Society. For more information, go here.

Tonight, don't miss the New York premiere of Chris Chan Lee's Undoing, a noir-esque crime drama set in Los Angeles' Koreatown, starring Sung Kang. I believe there's also an afterparty at White Rabbit (145 E. Houston between Eldridge & Forsyth Streets) presented by the M.A.T.H. Club. Good times.

Also, be sure to check out the festival's online cinema journal Cinevue, with all sorts of great interviews, essays and persectives. Lots of good reading there, so take a look.


crime watch

The bad things people do...

I remember mentioning this case a while back... 27-year-old Brian Chin, father of a new born baby, was murdered last year in Koreatown. He had been involved in a dispute with a group of young men inside a local nightclub. The fight spilled into a nearby parking lot, where several suspects surrounded, beat, and stabbed Chin. He died from his injuries. Now, police have arrested two suspects in the case, and are looking for a third: Murder Suspect Could Not Elude Long Arms of the Law

In Manhattan, a South Korean businessman has been charged with lying repeatedly to the FBI during a secret four-year counterintelligence investigation into Korean spies operating in New York: South Korean Businessman Is Charged With Lying to the F.B.I.

Last week in Chelsmford, MA, police arrested Sambath Yan, 22, and were searching for another suspect after the armed pair allegedly broke into a house and tied up a husband and wife during a robbery attempt: Chelmsford couple are tied up in 2d robbery attempt at home. While the first suspect fled, young Sambath kicked out a second-floor screen, jumped onto the roof and then into the backyard, where he was arrested at gunpoint. He faces a multitude of charges, including armed assault, kidnapping, and home invasion.

Speaking of home invasion robberies... in Phoenix, a six-year probe into a criminal ring accused of terrorizing the area's Vietnamese community and committing 21 home invasions has resulted in a dozen arrests: Vietnamese Home-Invasion Gang Broken. The twelve suspects have been charged with 39 crimes, including conducting a criminal enterprise, sale of dangerous drugs, sale of marijuana, money laundering and misconduct involving weapons. They were apparently targeting members of the Asian community because their hesitancy to report these crimes to law enforcement.

In Southern California, ten more suspects (and counting) have been arrested in an ongoing federal investigation into a scam involving Asians paying thousands of dollars to immigrate to the United States by entering into phony marriages with U.S. citizens from the area's Vietnamese and Chinese communities: 10 arrested in immigration scam probe. According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, the suspects apparently posed as spouses in order to petition for green cards for men and women to emigrate from China. Some suspects had petitioned for as many as 10 spouses!

In Washington, Terapon Adhahn pleaded not guilty to numerous criminal charges filed in connection with the 2000 abduction and rape of a Tacoma girl and the repeated rape of a girl who used to lived with him: Child abduction-rape investigation widens. And the list of charges is expected to grow. Earlier this month, Adhahn led police to the body of 12-year-old Zina Linnik, and is expected to be charged with her kidnapping, rape and killing. This is a sick, sick man.

things to do in nyc this weekend

Good times! The 30th Asian American International Film Festival in New York, presented by Asian Cinevision in association with the Asia Society, kicks off tonight with its Opening Night presentation of Justin Lin's Finishing the Game. It's sold out! But there will be a rush line outside the Asia Society, 30 minutes prior to show time. Tickets will be issued at a first-come, first-serve basis. Details here. It's going to be a fun time, kicking off a impressive schedule of Asian American cinema. For the full schedule, go here.

Also, tomorrow night, I'm moderating a conversation with Justin Lin, talking about his career from the indie world, to studio glitz, and back again. He'll be joined by actors Sung Kang and Roger Fan for the Q & A. It should be a really interesting discussion. Friday, July 20th, 6:00pm at NYU's Kimmel Center, Eisner & Lubin Auditorium. Tickets are ten bucks. For more information, go here: In Focus: Justin Lin. See you there!

While I'm at it, I should mention on Satuday night, there's a party celebrating the launch of the Museum of Chinese in Americas' Chinatown Film Project, a really interesting film and interactive media celebrating "the diverse roles Chinatown plays in urban realities and imaginations." The party's Saturday, July 21st, 10:00pm at Jade Terrace (top floor of China Club). The even will be hosted by Sung and Roger, with special guest Chris Chan Lee, director of Undoing. I'll be there too.

And finally, on Monday, come on down to MoCA, where I'll be participating in panel discussion with some top-notch folks:
If Anything is Possible: A Blueprint for Change


Monday, July 23 at 6:30 PM
at Museum of Chinese in the Americas
70 Mulberry Street 2nd floor (at Bayard)
RSVP and info 212-618-4785 ext 106
members/nonmembers $ 3/5

The Asian American community has made valiant efforts to respond to racist views and negligent media portrayals. Is outrage the answer? We’ll bring key people together to speak about their experiences responding to pivotal incidents in the community. We’ll facilitate dialogue that brings about innovative ways to effectively act together.

This roundtable discussion is part of a new MoCA quarterly series, which aims to tackle current and specific topics that impact the Asian American community in a ‘nuts and bolts’ style. Rather than simply elucidating issues, the objective is a proactive discussion aimed at creating a blueprint for change.
The panel's participants will include Andrew Hsiao (WBAI, New Press), Albert Lim (Fallout Central) Beau Sia (Def Jam Poet), Carmen Van Kerckhove (NewDemographic.com), Minya Oh aka Miss Info (HOT 97 FM), and myself. I think it's going to be a really solid discussion—and man, so much anger in one room! Please come on out, take part and say hello.


comedy zen on dvd

Comedy fans... The first season of Comedy Zen, ImaginAsian's stand-up comedy showcase, is now out on DVD. That's cool, because the majority of you out there probably don't have ImaginAsian on your cable or satellite carrier, and probably missed it the first time around. It's over four hours of uncut, uncensored stand-up comedy from some of the best Asian American comics on the scene, including Bobby Lee, Steve Byrne, Ken Jeong, Dat Phan, and Joey Guila (as well as a few random white and black comics thrown in for good measure). Frankly, it's good to see our people firing off jokes for a change, as opposed to being the butt as usual.

For the most part, it's good fun. The show isn't perfect; at some points it looks kind of rough, and the low budget aesthetic is sometimes glaringly obvious. Taped at the David Henry Hwang theater in Los Angeles' Little Tokyo, the cheesy gold faux-Oriental stage backdrop looks like something from a bad chopsocky flick. But I guess that's the appeal of stand-up: all you really need is a funny person, a microphone and an audience. Everything else is just decoration. Here, the comics come up with enough good laughs to make up for the bad ones (and yes, there are more than a few groooaan moments), though it might help to have a few drinks before/while watching the DVD. Also, big points for using a wicked awesome Dengue Fever song for the show's theme. Anyway, if you're a fan of stand-up comedy, and wanna see Asians tell some jokes, pick up the DVD at the usual online locations. Learn more about the show here. Yes, America. Asians can be funny.

slant film festival comes to san francisco

Hey hey, San Francisco. Slant: Bold Asian American Images is coming to your city this weekend. The Houston-based showcase of home-grown Asian American cinema travels from the Aurora Picture Show to the city by the bay, at the bay. The festival, which specializes in short films, is curated by Melissa Hung, founding editor of Hyphen.

Things kick off with the Best of Slant DVD Pre-Release Party this Thursday, July 19th at Kearny Street Workshop. They've collected some of the best shorts from Slant's seven-year history on to one DVD... it can be all yours, maybe even for free. They're giving away a free copy to the first 30 people who show up. So get there.

The fun continues on Saturday, July 21st at the 4 Star Theatre, with two shorts programs. The first screening, "Children, Young & Grown," features some great pieces like Siu Ta's Kata Practice, Tze Chun's Windowbreaker (one of my favorites), Kimi Takesue's The Summer of the Serpent, and PJ Raval's Lead Role: Father, among others. That's a great lineup of works. The second screening is a compilation of some of Slant's greatest hits, with great stuff like Wes Kim's Profiles in Science (awesome), Dino Ignacio's Maritess vs. the Superfriends (hilarious), and Doan La's Dragon of Love (awesomely hilarious). It's like a trip down memory lane.

It should be a really fun time, so come on down. For the full program, tickets, and other info, go here.

psychologist wins world series of poker

Two guys, former refugees from Laos and Vietnam, just became big time poker winners. Yesterday, Jerry Yang, a 39-year-old Hmong American psychologist, won the $8.25 million top prize at the World Series of Poker: California psychologist Yang wins World Series of Poker. Not bad for a guy who only started playing poker two years ago. He won his way into the main event from a $225 satellite tournament. He said before the final table began that he would donate 10 percent of his winnings to charity, including the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Feed the Children, the Ronald McDonald House and his alma mater, Loma Linda University. The other 90 percent? Easy living.

Also worth noting, coming in with the the second place finish was Tuan Lam, a 40-year-old professional online poker player from Mississuauga, Ontario, who walked away with $4,840,981. He said he'd be returning to his village, Bao Trinh, to help those who need it. More on the action at the final table, on ESPN's blog of the event: The final table

new york philharmonic's new music director

The New York Philharmonic has chosen Alan Gilbert, the 40-year-old son of two Philharmonic musicians, as its next music director, making him the first native New Yorker in the position and a rare American in the job: The Philharmonic Picks New Music Director. Gilbert's mother, Yoko Takebe, is a violinist, and his father, Michael Gilbert, also a violinist, retired in 2001. Asian kids everywhere, take note. It does pay off to practice that violin.

69-year-old man dies after random attack

Last week in Philadelphia, 69-year-old Kwok Wai-ho was out for a walk near his home when a group of kids grabbed him from behind and put him in a choke hold for no apparent reason.

When a neighbor intervened and yelled at the group, one of kids panicked and threw Wai-ho to the ground, where he struck his head. After a week in critical condition, he was taken off life support and died. Now, this incident has become a murder investigation: Homicide Detectives Take Over As Attack Victim Dies.

So far, police have reported no arrests in the case. The guy works at a food cart for twenty years to put his kids through college, and this is how he ends up. It's sick, and one of these punk-ass kids needs to pay.


aaiff ticket giveaway winners

We have our winners! Thank you to everyone who entered the Justin Lin/Finishing the Game ticket giveaway, courtesy of the Asian American International Film Festival. Here are the five random folks (along with their fake Bruce Lee movie title) who won a pair of tickets to attend the conversation with Justin Lin and screening of Finishing the Game this Friday, July 20th in New York:

Michael Y. - "Bruce and his Amazing Fantastical Chocolate Factory"
Jason D. - "Defending Your Life 2: Brooks Vs. Lee"
Catherine M. - "Exit the Dragon!"
Kristine R. - "Fighting Without Fighting"
Jose Y. - "Revenge of Bootleg Dragon"

Hannah Y., who did not win, accompanied her entry, "Bruce Lee and the Order of the Phoenix," with the freaky, badly-Photoshopped image above. Crazy. Thank you to everyone else who entered. Even if you didn't win, please come out and bring your friends to the talk this Friday. See you at the 30th Asian American International Film Festival!

who the hell is mister wong?

Mister Wong is social bookmarking tool originating from Germany that recently launched a beta version in the United States. They're positioning it to be a direct competitor to del.icio.us. So, the big question... why the hell is it called "Mr. Wong"? I have no idea, but the German site is apparently Europe's largest social bookmarking portal. I originally heard about this site several months ago, when people started calling attention to the little man in the logo, this balding, squinty-eyed Asian man (presumably Mister Wong). What's up with the racist caricature? Honestly, who came up with this idea? All you need is buck-teeth.

The German site used to have this guy plastered all over the place, but it seems they've removed the icon from most of the site now. (Did they receive a lot of complaints?) You can still see it here. Seriously though. What is up with the name? I can't read German, and maybe there's a perfectly good explanation somewhere on the site. But it's just plain weird. No wait, it's gets weirder: Mister Wong has a Chinese site.

UPDATE: According to this interview, the name "Mr. Wong" was apparently an arbitrary, random choice by the site's founder:
Before we started Mister Wong, we thought on the name “Allista“. But then our founder Kai Tietjen had the sudden impression on “Mister Wong”. Everyone in our Team was happy with that name and when our Designer finished the illustration we were absolutely sure that it was a good idea Mister Wong knows how to organize, is friendly, discreet and polite, and always has a good advice where to find the right information.
That's lame. By the way Kai Tietjen is not an Asian guy.

pearson is denied... again

An update on the Pearson vs. Custom Cleaners pants saga, which just plain refuses to die... yesterday, Judge Bartnoff summarily denied Roy "Sucka" Pearson's motion for reconsideration. Of course, Chris Manning, attorney for the Chung family, is expecting Pearson to file an appeal of this order in another thirty days, in additino to filing his appeal of the original verdict by July 25th. Of course! Manning also expects him to appeal any favorable ruling on the Chung's motion for attorney's fees, which is forthcoming. As expected, Sucka Pearson doesn't seem to want to end the fight for his pants.

Just a reminder... the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform and the American Tort Reform Association are hosting a fundraiser for the Chung family next Tuesday, July 24th at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Please consider donating to the Chungs' defense costs, and just generally showing your support for them and their ordeal. For more information on the fundraiser, and how you can help, go here: Support the Chungs

maj. theodore wong, marine of the year

The Marine Corps Times Marine of the Year is Maj. Theodore Wong, 42, who was awarded last week at a ceremony in Washington DC. Wong was honored for his extensive community service, despite having been deployed 42 of the past 60 months: Marine of the Year finds time for community. Among his many feats of service... he mentors youths; leads students in exercises; maintains a letter-writing campaign for deployed troops; organizes volunteers to greet returning troops; visits wounded troops; speaks to local veterans organizations; and promotes the Corps enough to have 15 enlistments to his credit. That's what you gotta do to be Marine of the Year.

denial, to the bitter end

There's been a lot of progress regarding HR121, the House resolution calling for the government of Japan to apologize for the sexual enslavement of women and girls during World War II. However, on the flip side, there are people who apparently aren't happy ("surprised and shocked") about it. Conservative Japanese politicians, scholars and journalists plan to write to U.S. lawmakers urging them to revoke the resolution, arguing that there were no sex slaves, and that the women were licensed prostitutes: Japan politicians to protest at U.S. sex slave vote. Denial, denial, ridiculous denial.

UPDATE: More on Japan's reaction here: Japan Warns U.S. House Against Resolution on WWII Sex Slaves. And more on the stories of comfort women in this recent local news segment from KNBC: Comfort Women Demand Apology


secret asian man is here

Speaking of Chinese restaurants... here's a recent Secret Asian Man strip that illustrates an age-old universal truth. Tak Toyoshima's comic strip finally gets national daily exposure from United Features Syndicate, and will appear in newspapers across the country (as well as comics.com) starting today. It's the first-ever nationally syndicated comic strip featuring an Asian American leading character.

Here's a recent interview with Tak in the Nichi Bei Times: The Secret's Out!: Tak Toyoshima's 'Secret Asian Man' Becomes First Asian American Lead Character to be Nationally Syndicated. And here's another good one from entertainment and style site Current Vine: A Chat with Tak Toyoshima. Secret Asian Man! Coming soon to your daily paper's comics section. To learn more about SAM, go here.

last chance for tickets to see justin lin and finishing the game

Just one last reminder... New York friends, today's your last chance to win free tickets to my conversation with director Justin Lin, and a screening of Finishing the Game. This Friday, July 20th, come attend the conversation with Justin (along with stars Sung Kang and Roger Fan) at the Kimmel Center at 6:00pm, then catch a screening of Finishing the Game at the Asia Society at 10:00pm. Good times. To enter for your chance to win, simply answer this question: If you made a fake Bruce Lee movie (i.e. "Fists of Fuhrer"), what would be its title? Email me your answer, along with your name, by the end of today. Please be sure to include "AAIFF TICKETS" in the subject line. I'll pick five winners at random, and announce the winners tomorrow. We'll have ourselves a fun evening. Get your entries in!

Speaking of the Asian American International Film Festival, you should know that advance ticket sales close tomorrow, Tuesday, July 17th. It's your last chance to buy tickets before the festival opens on Thursday. Lots of good stuff playing at the festival, so be sure to peruse the schedule here. Also, co-presenter Asia Society has just posted its first piece on Current.TV, featuring directors Socheata Poeuv (New Year Baby) and Joy Dietrich (Tie a Yellow Ribbon), both of whose films will be screened at the festival. And don't forget to vote "yes" on the green button. If we get enough votes, the piece will make it onto the television channel. Oh, you can also check out previously posted videos on a variety of Asian American issues on the Asia Society's YouTube channel. Good stuff.

casting: asian thug for death race

The following information was originally posted on the Canadian casting site Total Casting, a role in the upcoming remake of Death Race 2000:
Death Race "is an American film being shot in Montreal, starring Jason Statham and many other American stars to be confirmed. Based on the classic 1975 Paul Bartel film "Death Race 2000," this is the story of Jensen Ames, a man framed for a murder he did not commit and sent to a prison where the inmates compete in a merciless road rally to the death...

14K, very Tall, built or Big, Chinese American look, Ryu Tagashi is an inmate who races his car in the main jail event. Big, big, brute hard looking guy. Part of the triad gang. He has only one word in the script but we need someone who can act some mean brute facial expressions. Plays basketball. Driving permit a plus. 14K is a case study in controlled, calculated menace, a man with gang tattoos around his wrists and neck. he has a business degree from MITA determined competitor, he's the best man behind the wheel. All Asians type are welcomed or look like Asian. No experience ok. Please forward this breakdown to your friends and colleagues if you do not think of someone.
Ah, the big brute Asian triad thug, complete with tattoos and "brute facial expressions." Coming, once again, to a movie screen near you. In a Jason Statham movie, no less! And the character literally has one line in the script. One word, to be exact. Funny, that the producers are looking for a "Chinese American look," yet the character's name is "Ryu Tagashi." Not that they really care about the difference. Remember to look for the Asian guy in Death Race when this finally hits movie screens. You saw it here first.

china's dirty reputation

Jeff Yang has a really interesting piece in the Washington Post on all the recent furor over dirty, tainted, poisonous food... from China: A Taste of Racism in the Chinese Food Scare. There's been a lot of talk and portrayal of China as a foul, contaminated nation, serving foul, contaminated food, and exporting foul, contaminated food to our clean, righteous United States. This rhetoric, of course, is nothing new. We've always had to deal with jokes and punchlines about the cleanliness of Chinese restaurants, along with the usual cat-eating jokes. Hell, it goes as far back as that classic schoolyard taunt, "Me Chinese, me play joke..." You know the rest.

But lately there seems to be a resurgence in the China-bashing (and no coincidence, a looming fear of China's economic might). You've got news agencies running with stories about all the gross, nasty things Chinese people do when it comes to food preparation. Like this one, about Chinese pork buns apparently "made from cardboard." Or this one, about a bunch of cat lovers mobilizing to save a truckload of cats from being eaten in China. And now, we've got this racist 'China Free' marketing campaign. A U.S. health food company has announced that it will label its products "China-Free" to ease concerns about contamination: U.S. company to label health foods 'China-Free'. How long before it becomes appropriate to apply the 'China-Free' slogan to other aspects of American goodness?


making misha music

Thanks to this recent Stereogum post, I was turned on to the supercool music of Misha, aka Ashley Yao and John Chao. It's some really awesome electronic pop, perfect for your warm summer moods. Listen to some sample tracks on their MySpace. I'm really digging it. Their album Teardrop Sweetheart came out last month. I plan on picking it up when I get the chance.

geishas wanted

This story is just bizarre. In rural Cubria, England "geishas" are being sought to serve tea in cafes attracting Japanese tourists: Rural tea-rooms seek geisha girls. Tourists are apparently flocking to the region for its connection to children's author Beatrix Potter, and the recent film Miss Potter, based on the author's life. I had no idea Beatrix Potter was so huge in Japan. What geishas have to do with Beatrix Potter, I have no idea. And wouldn't Japanese tourists visiting the English countryside want their tea served the English way?

welcome to the family

Yesterday, Sarah Gore, daughter of Al, got married Bill Lee, a Los Angeles businessman, at the Beverly Hills Hotel: Al Gore's youngest daughter married. Asians in the family. Whooooo. More here: Al Gore's Daughter Sarah Gets Married (Thanks, Nycholas.)

vote for elaine liu's the projectionist

Elaine Liu's short film The Projectionist is one of six finalists for the Biore/Gen Art Uncover/Discover competition. It's a nicely made film, set during China's Cultural Revolution in 1966. I'm not exactly sure what happens if she wins, but I'd definitely be interested in seeing her future work. You can view her film and vote for it online here right now through August 31st (one vote per IP address per day).

team china's yi and sun

Here's an interview with Yi Jianlian and Sun Yue, the NBA's newest imports from China, who played for Team China last week in a last-second victory against the Cavaliers at the NBA Summer League: Q & A: Team China’s Yi and Sun

fujikawa goes pro

Golfer Tadd Fujikawa, the 16-year-old, 5-foot-1 kid who became the youngest player in more than 50 years to make the cut on the PGA Tour, announced last week that he was going pro, and would make his pro debut in three weeks at the Reno-Tahoe Open: 5-1 and 16, but Now He's a Pro. Not bad for a kid who still has to finish high school. More here: Fujikawa to play Reno event on sponsor's exemption. It seems that he's stealing quite a bit of attention from that other young pro golfer from Hawaii, who's fallen into a bit of a slump lately.


what's on tv this fall

So the other day, I found myself watching this godawful reality show Age of Love. At the end of the hour I wanted to kill myself. That said, I hate TV in the summertime, and can't wait for the fall shows to start back up. Back in May, the big TV networks announced their 2007-08 primetime schedules, unveiling a new lineup of shows for the fall. A quick scan of their press releases reveals a few Asian names among the new casts. Here's the rundown...

On ABC, Lucy Liu returns to television to star in Cashmere Mafia, about "four ambitious and sexy woman" trying to balance careers and personal lives in New York. Sound familiar? It should. It's produced by Darren Star of Sex and the City. I guess Lucy got tired of starring in stinkers like Code Name: The Cleaner.

James Saito plays "Dr. Chen" in the legal drama Eli Stone, about a lawyer who begins to think he might be a prophet. I don't know what that means, but it has something to do with George Michael. Based on the promotional trailer, Dr. Chen appears to be an accupuncturist in Chinatown (glad to see a show set in San Francisco actually has an Asian person in it). He looks kind of like a variation of the Miyagi-esque Asian guru... gotta add some that yellow mysticism to the mix, I guess.

Elizabeth L. Ho plays "Yuki Castellano" on the drama Women's Murder Club, based on a bestselling mystery book series. It's about a group of women—a club, if you will—who solve murders. According to press materials, Yuki is "an attorney who uses her skills to help Lt. Lindsay Boxer solve the mysteries that surround the crimes in their area." Good for her. Use those skills.

Over on NBC, the old cheesy TV show Bionic Woman gets a 21st century update, in which a normal woman becomes cyber-augmented super-woman. Will Yun Lee is in the cast as Jae, the specialized operations leader of the Bionics program team. I think that means that he gets to look cool and hold a gun.

Moon Bloodgood plays the main character's love interest on Journeyman, about a guy who jumps through time and helps people. The premise sounds kind of like Quantum Leap. I loved that show.

On the Fox show The Rules for Starting Over, there's Shaun Majumder as "Dr. Freddy Saghal." It's a comedy about "a group of newly single friends learning the painful lessons of starting over in their 30s." Yay. You may remember Shaun as Kumar's brother in Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle. Here, he plays a successful surgeon who doesn't know squat about dating. Yay.

Nan Zhang is listed in the cast of the CW drama Gossip Girl as "Kati Farkas." The show is about "the lives of socialite young adults growing up on New York's Upper East Side who attend the most elite of education institutions while dealing with sex, drugs, and other teenage issues." I don't have much more information than that, but honestly, that's all I really needed to know. No thanks.

And finally, there's the CW comedy Aliens in America, which has actually been getting some decent buzz. Adhir Kalyan stars as Raja Musharaff, a 16-year-old Pakistani Muslim exchange student who comes to live with a clueless family in Wisconsin. From what I've seen so far, this show could either be really good or completely awful.

For better or for worse, those are some of the faces you'll be seeing on television's new shows this fall... (I'll admit, I'm looking forward to Bionic Woman.)


saturday night chaos

For all of you in Southern California, here are a couple of things to check out this weekend... my friends at Chaos Theory Music are putting on two events Saturday night in Los Angeles. One, a video/art event: Korean Americans: The New Face of Terror, an art exhibition featuring the work of Woody Pak and Rosylyn Rhee, celebrating the diverse experiences, stories, and lives of individuals who make up the Korean American community. Saturday night at the Hive Gallery. For more information, go here. And two, the young lads of Seriously opening up for Thomas' Apartment at Club Tatou. More info here. Pick one or the other. Or heck, if you're really creative and can time it right, go to both.

so you think you can be asian?

Been getting loads of email from So You Think You Can Dance? fans... not about our man Hok, but about one of the other contestants, Lauren Gottleib, who says she has an alter ego, "Misha Chan." She apparently think she "looks" Asian enough, so sometimes she goes on auditions as Ms. Chan and pretends to be Asian. What kind of crazy talk is this? Television Without Pity puts it nicely:
The final couple is Lauren and Neil. Lauren's secret is that she has an alter ego. When she cut her hair into choppy layers people thought she was Asian. Hang on, what the...? She decided to call herself Misha Chan sometimes and occasionally will go by that in auditions. I don't even want to think about what it says that someone can be mistaken for Asian because they have dark hair cut in choppy layers. I just want to know what she says when she encounters actual Asians at auditions who wonder how this crazy white girl ended up with the last name "Chan." I guess since I've got thick brown hair, my alter ego could be Hispanic. Oh wait, except that would be ridiculous and seem vaguely offensive.
Giggle giggle. Because that's so fun and cool, and being Asian is so exotic and unique. Like some kind of freaky costume you can pull on and off. Just cut your dark hair in choppy layers, and voila! that apparently makes you an instant Asian. Add chopsticks in hair for full Oriental flavor. Here's video of her latest appearance on the show. At least Hok is still in the competition.

win tickets to see justin lin and finishing the game

Just a reminder... I'm giving away free tickets to attend my talk with director Justin Lin, and see his latest film Finishing the Game at the Asian American International Film Festival next week in New York. On Friday, July 20th, sit in on the conversation with Justin (along with stars Sung Kang and Roger Fan) at the Kimmel Center at 6:00pm, then catch a screening of Finishing the Game at the Asia Society at 10:00pm. It's going to be a fun time. To enter for your chance to win, simply answer this question: If you made a fake Bruce Lee movie (i.e. "Fists of Fuhrer"), what would be its title? Email me your answer, along with your name, by the end of Monday, July 16th. Please be sure to include "AAIFF TICKETS" in the subject line. I'll pick five winners at random, and you'll be set. We'll have ourselves a fun evening. But you gotta be in it to win it!

Speaking of Justin, he informs that he recently took part in a Sundance Film Festival initiative to create short films for your mobile phone: Global Short Film Project. Justin's film is this weird little short called ¡La Revolucion de Iguodala!. He says it's one of his favorite things he's worked on during his post-BLT success. Fans of his work might recognize a few of Justin's regular players, as well as music from the Far East Movement. To download the short to your phone, follow the instructions here. There's also a brief interview with Justin here. And if your phone is old and busted, and can't play videos, you can watch the short on here (though it's kind of low res and formatted incorrectly).

eat, run, get arrested

This is great... last month in Minneapolis, two people sat down to eat an expensive, leisurely meal over five hours at Temple Restaurant, a high-end downtown French-Asian restaurant. Late into the meal, when the waiter was bringing out dessert, they snuck out, leaving an unpaid bill of $410.09. Gone! Thieves. But that's not the end of the story. Two hours later, the owner, Thom Pham, walked into the other Asian fusion restaurant he owns and spotted the eat-and-run couple finishing off some expensive drinks after a hearty second dinner. Caught! Pham had a second chance to catch these thieving suckas. They were arrested and charged by police: Hungry pair ate and ran - into owner. Best of all, when Pham confronted them, they tried to flee. But it just so happens that Pham is a former judo instructor. He chased one of them into an alley, forced him to the ground and held him until police arrived. That's justice!


yo-yo girl cop in san francisco

For those of you in San Francisco, here's a movie that looks kind of fun, opening this weekend... Kenta Fukasaku's Yo Yo Girl Cop, based on a popular manga and TV series, opens this Friday, July 13th at Landmark's Opera Plaza Cinemas in San Francisco. It's a Japanese crime thriller about a secret agent who is highly trained in martial arts, armed with a deadly steel yo-yo and an undercover identity, "K." Oookay. Sounds like a cheesy ridiculous guilty pleasure. This is actually a big screen limited engagement to hype the upcoming DVD release of the film. It'll be available next week, July 17th, from Magnolia Home Entertainment. To be honest, I haven't seen this movie, and don't know a whole lot about it. But come on—it's called Yo Yo Girl Cop. It's gotta be fun, right?

hindu prayer makes history... and controversy

A Hindu clergyman, Rajan Zed, made history on Thursday by offering the Senate's morning prayer—the very first Hindu to offer the prayer that opens each day's Senate session. First, however, he had to endure the shouts of protestors in the visitors' gallery, who were removed by police: Senate Prayer Led by Hindu Elicits Protest. Two women and a man, who were shouting idiotic stuff like "this is an abomination," were arrested and charged with disrupting Congress, a misdemeanor. For several days, the Mississippi-based American Family Association has apparently been urging its members to object to the prayer because Zed, who was born India, would be "seeking the invocation of a non-monotheistic god." Suckas. You can see video of Zed's prayer (and hear the protestor's shouts) here.

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