5.31.2008

vote for greg pak's super power blues


My man Greg Pak, director of Robot Stories, now making waves in the comic book world, informs that his short film Super Power Blues is screening online at the Reel 13 website of New York's Channel 13.

The film tells the story of Super Power Go Girl, a superheroine who lives in New York City and deals with endless crises—when all she really wants to do is sleep with her boyfriend.

Check it out and vote for it here. The film that gets the most votes by 5pm next Thursday will be screened on television in New York. Do it for Greg. Do it because the city needs Super Power Go Girl.

asian american authors present "fusion stories"

I should've mentioned this weeks ago, but it's still May, so it's still technically Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, and thus I say it's all good... Check it. In honor of APA Heritage Month, ten Asian American novelists recently banded together to promote more awareness of Asian American young adult literature with a project called Fusion Stories.

These are new contemporary novels by Asian Americans that aren't the typical traditional tales set in Asia nor stories about coming to America for the first time... basically, it's not the same old usually stuff that ethnic literature tends to get bogged down with. Asian American lit has come a long way. There definitely weren't too many books like this to read when I was rowing up.

Fusion Stories calls attention to "a menu of delectable next-gen hot-off-the-press novels for middle readers and young adults"—all by Asian American writers. So far, the list of critically-acclaimed authors include Cherry Cheva (She's So Money), Justina Chen Headley (Girl Overboard), Grace Lin (Year of the Rat), An Na (The Fold), Mitali Perkins (First Daughter: White House Rules), Janet Wong (Minn and Jake's Almost Terrible Summer), Joyce Lee Wong (Seeing Emily), Lisa Yee (Good Luck, Ivy), David Yoo (Stop Me if You're Heard This One Before), and Paula Yoo (Good Enough).

Okay, so Heritage Month is almost over. I totally dropped the ball on getting the word out on this one. But school's almost out, summer is just about here, and these are some great titles for a youngster's summer reading list. Heck, I'm way out of the target age range, and I've read some of these titles and enjoyed them thoroughly. To learn more about books and authors of Fusion Stories, go to the website here.

5.30.2008

out with a bang


Still reeling from last night's Lost season finale. Damn you... who? Who do we blame for this? Ben? Keamy? Widmore? Jack? It's going to be a long summer.

only the brave screening in seattle

Ken informs me that in Seattle this weekend, there will be a special screening of the World War II drama Only the Brave, a story about the brave soldiers of the all-volunteer, Japanese-American 100th/442nd Regimental Combat Team. The film stars Lane Nishikawa, Jason Scott Lee, Mark Dacascos, Yuji Okumoto, Tamlyn Tomita, Jeff Fahey and Pat Morita, among others.

There will be two screenings this Saturday, May 31 at the new NVC Foundation Hall at 1:00pm and 4:30pm. Tickets are $10, and all proceeds will benefit the Nisei Veterans Committee Foundation. Seating is limited, so you want to RSVP to Dale Watanabe at 206-953-2233 or email rsvp@seattlenvc.org.

See the movie, then buy the DVD. There'll be a Q & A afterwards and signings of all purchased DVDs by writer/director Lane Nishikawa after both screenings. For more information about the movie, and details on the screenings (there's another one in Sacramento next week), visit the Only the Brave website here.

suspects caught in covina hills home invasion murder

In Southern California, four teenagers are in custody and a fifth suspect is being sought in connection with the fatal shooting of a Covina Hills woman in her home as she called 911: 5th suspect still sought in slaying of Covina Hills woman.

45-year-old Hsiao Hsu, a mother of two, was shot at about 11:40am on March 19 while reporting a burglary. The dispatcher heard two shots as assailants chased Hsu through her gated, high-security mansion. It looks like it was simply a burglary gone wrong.

Los Angeles County sheriff's investigators have arrested 19-year-old Christopher Santana, and three high school students, a boy and two girls. All four were arrested May 16 and have been charged with murder as adults. Investigators believe one of the boys shot Hsu and the girls drove a getaway car.

Investigators are still seeking a fifth suspect, Victor Manuel Maurtua, 19, of Baldwin Hills. Maurtua, a member of the El Monte Flores gang who is known as "Lil Tiny," is 5 foot 5 and weighs 140 pounds. According to authorities, he's considered armed and dangerous. More here: Suspect Photo Released In Slaying Of Woman On Phone With 911.

nyc earthquake relief party tonight

Tonight in New York, some good folks are hosting a charity event for victims of the earthquake in China, with all proceeds going to the Red Cross Society of China. Details on this flyer:

For more information on relief efforts in China, go here.

5.29.2008

long island school in lockdown over possible gun spotting

This email just popped into my In-Box, with the subject "Teen Asian Gunmen," describing a possible gun incident involving Asian students at Manhasset High School in Manhasset, Long Island. Nobody is too sure what's going on right now, but it seems that a student spotted two other students with a gun in the boy's bathroom:
But in the mean time, I thought I'd give you a heads up. One of my coworkers has a brother who's a senior at Manhasset High School in Manhasset, Long Island. Apparently, the school is currently on lockdown because a student found two Asian students in the bathroom with a hand gun. The students are currently locked in their classrooms until they can find the students in question. Apparently they have not been apprehended yet.
Nassau County police are on the scene and investigating. A quick Google search reveals a few postings on this message board about the incident, but it's not much. At least we know that no one has actually been hurt... yet.

Some more information here: Manhasset High School in lockdown. Everyone in the school is apparently on lock down, and no parents are being permitted to enter the building. It all seems to be based on one kid seeing "what seemed like a gun." Better safe than sorry, I guess.

Outside of this email, I'm not sure who's saying that the kids in the bathroom are Asian. There doesn't seem to be any specifics just yet, and I can't verify if this is indeed true. Good Lord, I hope not. But it's strange how the idea of Asian youth and guns now evokes a very specific reaction in our culture. More on this as it develops... (Thanks, Paul.)

UPDATE: The lockdown at Manhasset High School is over: Lockdown ends at Manhasset High School. Authorities searched the school, and and every student in grades 7-12 was apparently searched with a wand metal detector. Nothing, however, has been substantiated.

This morning, an eighth-grade boy went to school administrators when he saw three other older students—all male—talking together in the bathroom. One of them was holding what the eighth-grader thought was a gun. So was it really a gun? And were any or all of the kids involved Asian? No idea.

who will die on lost tonight?


Lost fans, this is it. The highly-anticipated season four finale is tonight, and I'm nervous as hell. This has been a fantastic season, full of crazy, mind-bending twists and turns. There is no other show like this in on television. True to form, tonight's two-hour finale promises to be a hell of a ride, with rumors swirling that there will be multiple character deaths before the credits roll. I've heard as many as three original cast members will meet their demise, and you all know I'm terrified over who it might be...

Could Jin die tonight? We now know that he does not make it off the island with the Oceanic Six. In the flash-forward future, Sun appears to believe that he is dead. And there's no doubt that he would die to ensure the safety of Sun. He seems like a strong candidate, and I don't like it. Daniel Dae Kim has been one of my favorite actors on television for the last four years. I'd be bummed to see him get the boot from Lost.

Other strong candidates for possible deadness include Claire, Sawyer, and Michael (very likely). I guess we'll have to see. And we sure as hell better find out who's in that frickin' coffin. Stay tuned, Lost fans.


Speaking of Daniel Dae Kim, did anyone catch him on the A&E miniseries The Andromeda Strain that aired earlier this week? It's an adaptation of Michael Crichton's old novel about a lethal extraterrestrial biological microorganism that threatens to kill humanity. If you missed it, I'm sure they'll run repeats. They're also releasing it on DVD next week. It's not bad, kind of creepy.

DDK plays Dr. Tsi Chou, one of the members of an elite group of scientist dispatched to investigate and stop the virus before it can spread. It's revealed that he's a microbiologist who once served as "the premiere biological weapons designer for the Chinese government," but has since seen the light and is now a U.S.-based bio-terrorism consultant.

Funny, after watching Daniel predominantly act in Korean for the past few years, finally seeing him in a part where he speaks perfect English. Oddly enough, they have him playing an expatriate Chinese scientist. I actually only saw the first half, so I have no idea what happened to Dr. Chou. But it definitely seemed like one of those stories where the get characters get killed off, one by one... and he didn't seem like the guy who would make it to the end.

Oh man, it just occurred to me—could Daniel Dae Kim die on TV twice in one week?

o.c. supervisor candidates are all vietnamese

In Orange County, for the first time ever, all the candidates vying for an open supervisor's seat are Vietnamese American: O.C.'s 1st District has a first: all Vietnamese candidates. Incumbent Janet Nguyen is being challenged by fellow Republican Dina Nguyen, a Garden Grove councilwoman, and Hoa Van Tran, a political newcomer and the lone Democrat in the race.

The 2007 special election registered the Vietnamese community as a voting force when Janet Nguyen and Trung Nguyen, her chief rival, took nearly half the votes in the 10-candidate field, upsetting party-endorsed candidates. Vietnamese voters make up only a quarter of the electorate in the 1st District.

Since then, Janet Nguyen has faced quite a bit of controversy in office, starting with a close win decided by a three-vote margin. And now, she's been slogging through a tough and bitter campaign. Her chief challenger, Dina Nguyen, has the backing of Assemblyman Van Tran (R-Garden Grove), the highest-ranking Vietnamese American elected official in the state and something of a political godfather to Vietnamese political hopefuls across the country.

Crazy. Vietnamese American have become a political force to be reckoned with. But when all the candidates are Vietnamese, their ethnic identity is no longer a distinguishing characteristic to voters. So who will come out on top? It's all going down on June 3 in Orange County.

hollywood chinese opening in new york and los angeles


For those of you who missed it New York, here's your second chance to check Arthur Dong's Hollywood Chinese, a documentary on the Chinese in American feature films. It returns for an encore engagement in Manhattan this Friday, May 30 at the ImaginAsian Theater. Come see a fascinating portrait of how the Chinese have been imagined in movies, for better or for worse.

The film will also been opening theatrically this Friday in Southern California, playing at Laemmele's Music Hall in Los Angeles and the Laemmle One Colorado in Pasadena. You've seen Indiana Jones and Crazy Alien Story. Now go see this. Here are the details:

The ImaginAsian Theater
239 East 59th St., New York City
Screens Daily, 3pm & 7pm. 212/371-6682

Laemmle's Music Hall
9036 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills
Daily: (Sat/Sun 12:40, 3:00) 5:20, 7:40, 9:55

Laemmle's One Colorado
42 Miller Alley, Old Town Pasadena
Daily: 1:00, 3:10, 5:25, 7:40, 10:00

Director Arthur Dong is scheduled to attend select Southern California screenings this weekend. Check out the film, and meet the award-winning filmmaker behind such films as Forbidden City, U.S.A. and Licensed to Kill. Go to the Hollywood Chinese website for screening/appearance details.

someday, an asian american supreme court justice

This New York Times article speculates on how and who, if he should be elected President, Barack Obama would nominate as judicial candidates to the Supreme Court: Stark Contrasts Between McCain and Obama in Judicial Wars.

One of the names the article throws out there is Harold Hongju Koh, Dean of the Yale Law School, an esteemed legal scholar and former human rights official in the Clinton State Department. If nominated, he would become the nation's first Asian American justice.

Of course, this is all just speculation, and he's one of many possible candidates. Still, how cool would that be? Yeah, it's just a dream, and it's definitely a long way off. But hey, it could happen. Read more about Harold Koh here.

bao phi's racist ideas for hollywood 6

Movie fans, gather 'round. It's time for yet another so-bad-it-could-be-real movie pitch from our man Bao Phi. This is the one I've been waiting for since he started the series, based on the awesome title alone. It does not disappoint. On the musical tip:
BAO PHI'S RACIST IDEAS FOR HOLLYWOOD 6: THE GANGSTERS OF PHO STREET: A MUSICAL

THE TAGLINE: Miss Saigon Meets Miss Do-Me Nails!

THE PITCH: Tan Son Nhut is a Vietnamese woman orphaned after a tragic incident at a Paris By Night event involving hair spray and hot stage lights takes the lives of her parents. Raised on the mean streets of Jersey, she is forced into the toxic, exploitative world of nail salons to earn her keep. Her sleazy Vietnamese boss, Mr. Bun Bo Hue, holds out on her tips and forces her to work long, long hours for below minimum wage.

One fateful night, a plastic tub of glitter is knocked into a huge vat of nail polish remover--causing an unexpected but spectacular explosion. The Vietnamese nail workers frantically attempt to escape the rainbow eruption of nail salon materials, their arms stretching towards heaven, as if reaching for a better life... when all of a sudden, a white urban relief worker named Joe Plain, working overtime piloting his helicopter, flies over the ghetto catastrophe, and saves them all. As he reaches down, the first hand he clasps is Tan Son Nhut's--time seems to freeze, lips quiver--and they burst into song.

Will Tan Son Nhut and Joe Plain find true love? Will they band together and help the Vietnamese community rename their street Pho Street? How many lip quivering, wide-eyed songs in the key of Lea Salonga be sung towards the heavens? Featuring the soon-to-be classic songs, Land of 20,000 Sorrowful Featherless Geese Lit Afire By Napalm, OH! You Communist, and Caucasian is the Flavor of My Saviour.

Starring Anjelah Johnson as Tan Son Nhut, Mark Wahlberg as Joe Plain, 50 Cent as Joe Plain's Best Friend Diamond Donutz, and Peter O'Toole as Mr. Bun Bo Hue.
Ah yes, a classic love story for the ages, in the grand tradition of crappy racist poorly-cast musicals. Hollywood, are you reading this? (I hope not.) I can't wait to buy the Original Cast Recording and sing along with "Caucasian is the Flavor of My Saviour." Zing!

the sukey rose project


Mia Kim is an indie singer out of Philadelphia, now based in Southern California, who is taking on a very interesting approach to producing her upcoming sophomore album, Who is Sukey Rose?

She's created The Sukey Rose Project as an opportunity for indie-music fans to follow the experience of an independent artist as she creates an album from start to finish, while also raising 100 percent of necessary funds through supporters. Basically, she's getting her fans involved by having them fund the entire project and gathering their input during the process.

To learn more about Mia Kim and The Sukey Rose Project, go here. You can also listen to some music at her MySpace. As I write this, she has raised a total of 53 project members who have raised a total of $3590. Her goal is $15,000, and she needs it by the end of June. How about pitching in and helping her out?

At the site, you'll find clips of Mia's newest songs, as well as links for her fans to donate money to the project. If you donate at least $10, you can get the link to her entire demo CD. She's also got a blog, where a recent post ponders possible producers. It's all very ambitious, but I like it.

5.28.2008

journey and arnel pineda on ellen


Everybody's favorite band Journey, along with new lead singer Arnel Pineda, performed on The Ellen Degeneres Show today.

As everyone knows now, the band found Pineda through the internet, when they saw clips of the 40-year-old singer from the Philippines covering Journey songs in no-name bar bands. The rest, as they say, is history. Pineda undoubtedly has the voice. Hell—dare I say it?—the guy does Steve Perry better than Steve Perry.

Here's a GQ feature on Journey and Pineda's story: HE DIDN’T STOP BELIEVIN'. Plucked from obscurity and thrust into the spolight, the guy is now Manila's number one son. Rock and roll.

UPDATE: Here's yet another story on new Journey front man Arnel Pineda, from CBS News: A Journey Back. Don't stop believin'.

fyi: white separatist running for l.a. superior court judge

This is something voters in Los Angeles should know about the upcoming June 3 election... In the race for Los Angeles Superior Court judge, if you're not careful, you could be voting for a bona fide racist—a racial separatist who once called for restricting U.S. citizenship to persons "of the European race" and deporting blacks, Asians, Latinos and others who don't meet his racial criteria. The candidate is Bill Johnson: Stealth election.

Under the name James O. Pace, he wrote the racial exclusion as a proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution and a 1985 book supporting it. That's racist! But wait, there's more. Under the name Daniel Johnson, he ran a losing race for Congress in Wyoming in 1989 with a Ku Klux Klan organizer as his campaign manager. As William Johnson, he ran losing race for Congress in Arizona in 2006.

I'm not kidding. This is all true. The guy has a secret racist past, like something out of the movies. And this guy might actually win this judicial race, unless voters in Los Angeles find out who he really is. Do not let this happen. Johnson's opponent is Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner James Bianco. More here: Judicial candidate's racial separatist past exposed. (Thanks, Emi.)

8th annual slant: bold asian american images

Okay, Houston friends. This weekend, Aurora Picture Show presents the 8th annual Slant: Bold Asian American Images, an eclectic showcase of the best in emerging Asian American cinema. Slant combats tired stereotypes of Asian Americans with quirky comedies, compelling visions, and fresh perspectives on the Asian American experience. Suck it, Long Duk Dong.

Different film programs screen on Friday, May 30 and Sunday, June 1 at Aurora Pictures Show. Friday's program of experimental and narrative films weaves together the humorous and the poetic. Sunday's documentary program tells stories of people holding on even when outside forces try to tear them apart.

On Saturday evening, May 31, Slant presents Getting to Nobu: Show and Tell with Nobu Adilman. Canadian filmmaker Nobu Adilman will present a special show-and-tell screening with excerpts from his TV shows "Food Jammers" and "Invention Nation," as well as a presentation of his short films, among some other surprises.

For a full program listing of all Slant's films and events, as well as ticket information, visit the Aurora Picture Show website here. Also check out the Slant Facebook page here. And definitely be sure to check out the recently released Best of Slant DVD.

kristin kreuk photo from street fighter: the legend of chun li


Here's another new photo from the upcoming movie Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li, currently in the works. That's Kristin Kreuk as Chun Li, looking rather grimy and street urchin-like. I wonder how long it'll take before she dons that ridiculous blue costume from the video game, and what excuse they'll come up with in the story for her to put it on. Expecting the worst...

news from all around

1-Child Policy Has Exceptions After China Quake: The Chengdu Population and Family Planning Committee has announced that the country's one-child policy exempts families with a child killed, severely injured or disabled in the devastating earthquake that hit China's Sichuan province this month.

Turning Point: Cracking My Family's Mysteries: Here's an interesting piece by Carol Lin for NPR's Day to Day about the long, difficult process—both as a journalist and a daughter—of getting her mom to talk about her past, and uncovering the untold secrets of her family's history.

The Ides of May: With Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in full swing, Jeff Yang's latest "Asian Pop" column wonders whether the Asian American community is out of date, out of touch—and running out of time to bring the next generation of Asian Americans into the mix.

The Asian-American Minority Swing Vote: APAs are the third largest ethnic minority—sometimes stereotypically called the "quiet minority." Making up 5 percent of the U.S. population and as much as 12 percent in states like California, their power and influence remains largely untapped.

Expanded Wing Luke Asian Museum's treasures are its stories: Housed in a restored 1910 social center for Chinese, Japanese, and Filipino immigrants, the Wing Luke Asian Museum opens in its new location in Seattle's Chinatown International District on Saturday.

A monument to Japanese Americans in the Antelope Valley is restored: After being vandalized during World War II, a memorial erected in 1938 to honor Japanese citizens who had lived and died in California's Antelope Valley was finally restored and rededicated earlier this month.

Speak English, Child! This Is Korea: South Koreans, anxious to ensure their children are well-schooled, and driven by a competitive edge to learn English, spend around $5 billion dollars a year to educate their kids abroad—equivalent to nearly 20 percent of the annual total allocated to education by the government.

Disconnected: According to a 2006 survey of Boston schoolchildren conducted by the Harvard Youth Violence Prevention Center, Vietnamese teenagers are more likely to feel disconnected from their parents and are less inclined to open up to them about their problems than other teenagers in Boston.

Racial Discrimination Has Different Mental Health Effects On Asians: The first national study of Asians living in the United States shows that for some individuals, strong ties to their ethnicity can guard against the negative effects of racism, but for others, strong ties can actually make the effects worse.

5.27.2008

the asian american gladiator: zen


Turns out a lot of you out there watch American Gladiators. I heard from tons of people informing of the new season, which started last week, and features an Asian American gladiator named Xin Wuku, aka "Zen." According to his bio on the NBC website:
ZEN brings his own lethal combination of ancient eastern tradition and 21st century battle technique to Gladiator Arena. Born to create chaos, this mysterious warrior uses superhuman speed and highflying skills to dispatch anyone unlucky enough to cross his path before they even realize they’re in danger, and the slips back into the shadows like a ghost to wait for his next victim.
Wow. Definitely playing up that ninja angle. With the hair and all, the guy looks a bit like he jumped out of an anime movie or something. More here: Xin Wuku Confirmed as New American Gladiator Zen. The guy is 5'9" tall, weighs 159 lbs and is a martial arts expert with acting roles in movies, commercials and music videos. I'm told by those who have seen him in action that while he isn't biggest Gladiator, he's got speed.

He's apparently most well-known for this Urban Ninja video from a few years back, which is essentially a 3-minute video of him jumping and flipping all over the place, with a few punches here and there. As Vanilla Ice once said, "Go, Ninja, go."

westboro baptist church: "thank god for the great killer earthquake"

In China, officials called for the evacuation of 80,000 people in the path of potential floodwaters building up behind a fragile dam created during the earthquake: Officials in China rush to evacuate 80,000. While soldiers carve a channel to try to drain away the threat, emergency workers are trying to rapidly evacuate the area, taking the number of people moved out of the threatened valley to almost 160,000, from more than 30 townships.

The number of deaths from the quake has climbed further toward an expected toll of 80,000 or more. The Cabinet said Tuesday that 67,183 people were confirmed killed and 20,790 were still missing.

Meanwhile, in the United States, some people are using the quake disaster as an opportunity to demonstrate their supreme stupidity. A couple of weeks back, Shanghaiist wrote about the extremist crazies at GodHatesFags.com, the official website of Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas. The "church" has apparently issued a press release thanking God "for the Great Killer Earthquake that He sent to kill thousands of stiffhearted Chinese rebels against God." Sick.

In addition, Westboro claim their prayer "is for many more earthquakes to kill many more thousands of impudent and ungrateful Chinese." Obviously, this is a play for more publicity, and sadly, these people are only further fueled by negative reactions redirected against them. Personally, I'm praying for God to send a perfectly placed lightning bolt to 3701 SW 12th in Topeka.

In other news of stupidity, while on the red carpet at Cannes (where all sage wisdom should be dispensed), Sharon Stone recently described the earthquake in China as "karma": China quake karma, says Sharon Stone. She suggested that the quake that killed 80,000 was karmic payback for "the way the Chinese are treating the Tibetans." Basically, the Chinese were "not nice" and thus "bad things" happened to them. My friends, these are the words of a fool.

I've also been told that Whoopi Goldberg made similar comments last week on The View, attributing the earthquake to "karma," and that China was getting what was due to them. It's ridiculous. I didn't see the remarks in question, but if anyone can track a clip from The View (5/19/08), I'll post it here.

UPDATE: Sharon Stone is now facing a boycott of her films in China for her ridiculous "karma" remarks: Chinese cinema to ban Sharon Stone. The founder of one of China's biggest urban cinema chains, UME Cineplex, said his company would not show Sharon Stone's films. UME has branches in Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing, Hangzhou and Guangzhou, China's biggest urban movie markets. I have to wonder... how many people in China were actually interested in seeing a Sharon Stone movie in the first place?

5.26.2008

he talks to dead people


Here's a great profile in the Washington Post on actor Ken Leung: Ken Leung: Quiet Actor, Always Kept to Himself... He plays Miles, the guy with some very interesting paranormal abilities, on ABC's Lost—a show you all know I love. The guy is a talented actor whose career I've been following for years, and his addition to the cast of Lost this season has been great.

Ken got a lot of attention for his memorable role as a mental patient during the last season of HBO's The Sopranos. Very intense. His performance impressed Lost executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse so much, they wrote a part a specifically for him as one of the new characters on the show—no audition necessary. How cool is that?

Before his role on The Sopranos, you may remember Ken as the spiky dude from X-Men 3. Or the bad guy thug with blond-dyed hair from the original Rush Hour. And of course, there's his memorable turn as Don the karaoke machine salesman in Edward Norton's Keeping the Faith. Hilarious.

However, my personal favorite Ken Leung part was his starring role as a gangster Lincoln Ma in Sucker Free City. Directed by Spike Lee, it was the pilot episode for a Showtime series on San Francisco's ethnic gangs. It was brilliant, but was unfortunately never able to get off the ground as a series. I highly recommend checking it out on DVD. Anyway, see Ken this Thursday on the highly-anticipated season finale of Lost.

my sassy girl remake going straight to dvd

For the many fans of the South Korean romantic comedy My Sassy Girl who were upset over news of the already-in-the-can Hollywood remake, here's some news that may warm your heart. It looks like the remake, starring Elisha Cuthbert as the sassy girl in question, will not be coming to a theater near you. Ever. It is instead being unceremoniously dumped to a direct-to-DVD release: My Sassy Girl direct to video. The movie will hit DVD shelves on August 26.

It seems that the powers that be got the same feeling we did after seeing the awful trailer that hit the web a little while back: this movie sucks. I guess they decided to cut their losses and maximize their money on DVD, rather than spring the precious marketing dollars for a full theatrical release.

I've always thought remaking this movie was a bad idea. Some of the funniest, most charming aspects of the original movie are inextricably tied to South Korean culture and society—things you just can't translate. Hopefully, the remake will now just fade away and be forgotten. You're better off watching the original My Sassy Girl.

punahou is sports illustrated's number one high school

Sports Illustrated has named Honolulu's Punahou School the number one high school athletic program in the nation: Fast Times at Punahou. This year's "Best High School Athletics Programs" is in SI's May 26 issue, which hit newsstands last week. Since 1958, the prestigious school has maintained a rich tradition of athletic excellence, racking up 368 Hawaii championships—with 16 state titles and 12 Division I recruits during this school year alone.

Punahou has also generated scores of star figures in a variety of sports at the college, Olympic and professional levels. And many of those kids are Asian Pacific American, in everything from football to water polo to golf, including pro golfer Michelle Wie and football coach Norm Chow.

In addition to its super-sporty former students, Punahou notably gave rise to one very well-known political alum: presidential hopeful Barack Obama, class of 1979. He was a reserve on the Punahou's state-champion basketball team that year. Not only a stirring speaker, but also a baller.

5.23.2008

3rd annual t.o.m. film festival


For those of you in Southern California, here's an interesting event happening next weekend: The 3rd Annual Talent 1 Media Film Festival. The festival's goal is raise awareness and focus on issues of human trafficking and modern-day slavery.

It's a one-day event that will premiere nine original short films, feature live outdoor music from Slum Peasants and Elements of the Outer Realm, and an Awareness Resource area for partnering organizations. With appearances by Doug Jones (The Silver Surfer!), Billy Zabka (yes, Johnny from The Karate Kid), Jun Kim (West 32nd) and others.

The whole thing is free and open to the public. It's hapepening Saturday, May 31st at the Aratani Japan America Theatre in Los Angeles' Little Tokyo. For more information about the event, go here. Come take part, and learn about local and global initiatives to fight and end modern day slavery.

fantasy/science fiction author robert aspirin dies

Noted fantasy/science fiction author Robert Aspirin has died. According to the official Myth website, he passed away quietly yesterday at his home in New Orleans. He was 62: RIP, Robert Asprin.

I was actually a fan of his work back in the day, and I remember reading and loving his Myth and Phule series in my youth, circa junior high school. I only just discovered that he was half-Filipino. Now that I look back, in his Phule series, he incorporated a Filipino chef character that also taught Filipino martial arts. I remember thinking that was an interesting touch.

I haven't picked up one of his books in years, but his novels always had a geeky, fun balance of fantasy, adventure and best of all, humor. I'm definitely going to revisit them. (Thanks, Klint.)

welcome to the ravens, haruki nakamura

Here's a recent profile in the Baltimore Sun on Ravens rookie safety Haruki Nakamura, a sixth-round pick for Baltimore in the NFL draft: New Raven Nakamura a man on move. Some interesting facts I learned about Haruki Nakamura:

While there are and have been Asian Americans in professional football, he is currently the only player of Japanese descent in the NFL. At least, he can't think of any others. I can't either.

He graduated in 3 1/2 years from the University of Cincinnati with a major in criminal justice and a minor in communications.

He's 5 feet 10 and weighs 190 pounds.

Haruki's father, Ryozo, was an eighth-degree black belt in judo. His mother, Karen, is a fourth-degree black belt. Haruki and his two older brothers, Yoshi and Mako, have been national champions in judo. Don't mess.

His father never wanted him to play football. He thought it was too dangerous.

james yee elected as an obama delegate

Remember James Yee? He's the former United States Army chaplain who was appointed to minister to Muslim detainees at Guantanamo Bay, then later wrongly accused by the government of spying in 2003. He was charged with sedition, aiding the enemy, spying, espionage, and failure to obey a general order. After basically dragging his name through the mud, the government later dropped all charges, and he was honorably discharged from the U.S. military.

It was an awful ordeal, but now James Yee is serving his country in another way... last weekend Yee was elected as an Obama delegate in Washington's 9th Congressional District to the National Democratic Convention to be held in Denver: James Yee, Democratic National Convention delegate. He apparently might even get an opportunity to speak at the National Convention. Very cool.

bobby jindal is on mccain's vp short list


There's been a great deal of speculation on who John McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, will pick as his running mate for November's general election. After a whole lot of guessing, rumors and denial from all over, it appears that Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal has indeed made the short list of possible candidates.

According to the New York Times, McCain will be meeting this weekend at his Arizona ranch with at least three potential candidates: Jindal, Florida Governor Charlie Crist, and former presidential hopeful Mitt Romney: In US campaign, VP chatter swells. More here: Jindal, McCain's probable running mate. The possibility of an Indian American vice president just got a little more real. Sepia Mutiny called it months ago.

No doubt, Jindal would offer the right kind of youthful balance McCain's ticket needs. At 36, he's the youngest current governor in the United States, as well as the first elected Indian American governor in U.S. history. He's widely viewed as a rising Republican star... and one of the party's very few top elected officials who is not white. Man, if this indeed does happen, it's going to make things pretty damn crazy come fall.

Jindal, who was just elected governor of Louisiana last fall, has consistently said he's not interested in the job just yet. Just last month, he appeared on The Tonight Show, where he once again dismissed the idea. He says he intends to be governor for four years and run for a second term... but he hasn't definitively said that he'd refuse McCain if the opportunity arose. Plans change. And here were are, with Jindal making weekend plans in Arizona.

Still, even now, Jindal continues to play down speculation that he's a serious contender for VP: Jindal trying to quiet talk of McCain's No. 2. Let's be real. You dangle this opportunity in front of a young, up-and-coming politician, and he's going to give it a long, hard look. Either way, make no mistake, this man is the future of the Republican party.

5.22.2008

groping suspect arrested in seattle

Oh hell yes. Justice. Seattle police have arrested a man in connection with a groping attack on an Asian woman in Rainier Valley on Saturday, and are looking into whether he's behind 22 similar attacks in the area over the past two years. Yes, it seems the "Beacon Hill Groper" may have been caught: Police arrest groping suspect.

37-year-old Darran Bolar of Seattle was picked out of a photo montage by witnesses to the most recent attack. Witnesses offered police a detailed description of the man and said that he fled in a green 1994 Jeep Cherokee.

Police arrested Bolar at 11:30 a.m. today and booked him into the King County Jail. He has been charged with fourth-degree assault for the groping and second-degree robbery, stemming from the theft of a witness' cellphone during Saturday's attack.

Officers have linked Bolar to some of the 22 other attacks in the area since August 2006. As we've mentioned here several times before, most of the victims have been Asian or Asian American, occurring at or around bus stops. If Bolar ends up indeed being the guy, no doubt, a lot of folks will be breathing easier. Gotcha, you sicko.

UPDATE: Wait. After the arrest of Darran Bolar, police say the two-year string of sexual attacks on women in south Seattle appear to be the work of more than one person: Suspect charged in groping. Bolar, a registered sex offender, is being investigated for several attacks, but not all 25 of the reported gropings. Police believe it's not the same person doing all of them. Dammit.

According to a crime analysis released by police on Thursday, the majority of the attacks occurred on weekdays between 5 and 11 p.m. Nearly all of the suspects were described as black men, but in other characteristics such as skin tone, build, height and clothing style, descriptions have varied drastically. A copycat? Another dude out there with a dangerous Asian fetish? The guy is still out there, so stay vigilant.

doodle 4 google winner: grace moon

If you head over to Google, you'll see that today's homepage logo was created by Grace Moon, a 6th grader at Canyon Middle School from Castro Valley, California. She's the winner of the Doodle 4 Google competition, where K-12 students were invited to reinvent Google's homepage logo around the theme "What if...?" Selected from over 16,000 entries, Grace's doodle, "Up in the Clouds" will be seen by Google users everywhere today. Congratulations, Grace. She was featured on the Today show this morning. Here's a story on the talented young artist: 'Doodle 4 Googlel winner kept her sunny side up. View the rest of the finalists here.

masanori murakami returns to the san francisco giants



Last Friday, I went to see the San Francisco Giants play the Chicago White Sox at AT&T Park in San Francisco.

My team lost, but it was still a cool night, because the Giants hosted a very special guest: Masanori Murakami, former pitcher for San Francisco, and the very first Japanese player ever to play for a Major League team. He played for the Giants in 1964-65.

He was at the game to throw the first pitch as part of the Giants' annual Japanese Heritage Night. Not only did I get to meet Mr. Murakami, I got his autograph. It was extremely cool.

napawf on human trafficking

The National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum (NAPAWF) recently released Rights to Survival & Mobility: An Anti-Trafficking Activist's Agenda, a new report highlighting the disproportionate impact of human trafficking on Asian and Pacific Islander women and girls. U.S. Department of Justice says that human trafficking is the third most profitable underground enterprise, rivaling the drug and arms trade, and the largest group of persons trafficked into the U.S. are from East Asia and the Pacific.

According to a press release I received from NAPAWF, this is an extremely critical time to discuss the impact of human trafficking on API community, especially in light of the pending reauthorization of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2007, HR 3887, offers extended protections for foreign domestic workers but also attempts to transform anti-trafficking legislation to prostitution legislation. Specifically, HR 3887 expands the Mann Act—a federal law that prohibits the transportation of persons across state lines for the purpose of prostitution—to include prostitution activity within states, and calls prostitution "sex trafficking."

Essentially, this creates a new federal prostitution crime and identifies all prostitution as "sex trafficking," even if force, fraud or coercion is not present. Currently, local and state authorities are responsible for handling prostitution arrests, but with the new definition the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division would be responsible for investigating and prosecuting all of these cases. The concern is, if this happens, there's a strong possibility that real trafficking cases—especially those that do not involve sex—will get lost in the shuffle.

Obviously, this is an issue that NAPAWF takes very seriously. To learn more, visit the NAPAWF blog. And download the report Rights to Survival & Mobility: An Anti-Trafficking Activist's Agenda as a PDF here.

And if you really want to learn more, NAPAWF will be hosting a teleconference media briefing on Tuesday, May 27, 2008 at 12pm PST/3pm EST to discuss the contents of the report and provide NAPAWF's analysis of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2007, HR 3887. RSVP at mnguyen@napawf.org by Friday, May 23rd. Conference Dial-in Number: (616) 597-8000, participant access code: 361684#.

snl skit: the office...in japanese


I had a lot of people writing in tell me about the Japanese Office spoof on the most recent episode of Saturday Night Live, hosted by Steve Carell. I honestly don't know what to make of it.

Ricky Gervais, star of the original British series, introduces a fake Japanese "true original" version of the hit TV show, where everything is in Japanese, and the office is filled with all sorts of the usual Japanese stereotypes—karaoke, excessive bowing, giggling behind the hands, even a weird commercial break.

If you're familiar with the show, it's basically a re-enactment of the pilot episode, except it's all in Japanese. They're not in yellowface or anything—everybody's based on the characters from the NBC version (pretty dead-on too). Very odd. Even more confounding is Gervais' comment at very the end: "It's funny, because it's racist." All that said, I actually thought it was funny

asia society: asian americans and the u.s. presidential election

Just heard about this interesting discussion happening next week at Asia Society in New York: Shattering Convention: Asian Americans and the US Presidential Election. They'll be talking about the role and impact of the Asian American community in U.S. politics, particularly during this important election year. Panelists will include moderator Mae Cheng, Glenn Magpantay, Vijay Prashad and our pal Carmen Van Kerckhove. Here are the details:
Shattering Convention: Asian Americans and the 2008 Election

Wednesday, May 28, 2008
6:30 p.m. Registration and Reception
7:00 p.m. Program
Asia Society
725 Park Avenue at 70th Street, New York

Featuring:
Glenn Magpantay
Staff Attorney, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF)

Vijay Prashad
Professor and Director of International Studies, Trinity College
Author, Everybody was Kung Fu Fighting: Afro-Asian Connections and the Myth of Cultural Purity

Carmen Van Kerckhove
Co-founder and President of New Demographic
Host of the podcast Addicted to Race

In Conversation with
Mae Cheng, Executive Editor, amNewYork
former President of Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) and former President of UNITY, a coalition which represents over 10,000 journalists of color

Asian Americans are playing an increasingly important role in American political life. What are the most pressing issues facing the Asian American community today? What impact did the community have on the primaries, and what impact might they have on the national election?

Join us in a lively discussion as we analyze the dynamics of ethnicity and the roles of new media and youth as they relate to the Asian American community in the 2008 election cycle.
Should be a pretty interesting talk—though I imagine they'll only be able to scratch the surface of this topic within an hour and a half. Tickets are $10 for members, students with ID and seniors, and $15 non-members. For more information, go to the Asia Society website.

daughter of christian singer killed by car

This is really tragic. The daughter of popular Christian singer Steven Curtis Chapman died Wednesday evening after being struck by a car driven by her teenage brother in the driveway of the family's home in Tennessee: Steven Curtis Chapman's daughter killed by car in driveway. 5-year-old Maria was the youngest of three children from China adopted into the Chapman family.

It just appears to be a really terrible accident. Maria was hit by an SUV driven by her teenage brother, who didn't see her playing in the driveway outside their home. The accident was witnessed by two other children; the entire family was home at the time. No charges are expected. More here: Daughter of Christian Music Star Killed by Car.

moon bloodgood photo from street fighter


The upcoming live-action Street Fighter movie, based on the popular video game, has an official blog. As I've said before, while Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li has considerable potential to be an absolute crazy disaster, I have to admit, I'm gleefully curious about how it'll turn out. It's going to be ridiculous. Can this beat the disastrous 1994 Street Fighter movie starring Jean-Claude Van Damme?

At the helm, you've got Andrzej Bartkowiak, director of such masterpieces as Romeo Must Die and Cradle 2 the Grave. The cast includes Kristin Kreuk as Chun Li, Edmund Chen, Josie Ho, Pei Pei Cheng, and that guy from Black Eyed Peas. No, not the Filipino guy—the weird-looking dude.

That's a photo of Moon Bloodgood (who, by the way, is not only gorgeous, but has the coolest name ever) above as Det. Maya Sunee of Bangkok Homicide (a new character to the Street Fighter universe). Can't wait to see that first photo of Chun Li...

In other Moon Bloodgood news, it was reported last month that will play the female lead in the upcoming fourth installment of the Terminator series: Bloodgood lined up for "Terminator" sequel. Yes, they're making a fourth one. She'll be playing "a no-nonsense and battle-hardened member of the resistance who is carrying a lot of guilt over surviving the nuclear holocaust." Terminator Salvation: The Future Begins is set for a summer 2009 release from Warner Brothers.

fatal police shooting in long beach

Over the weekend, a terminally ill, mentally disabled man was shot and killed by Long Beach police during an altercation with officers: Anger follows fatal shooting by police in Long Beach. Roketi Su'e, 46, was killed on Saturday night as he was walking home from a birthday party. Officers say he was acting erratically and got in a physical altercation with an officer, while witnesses say Su'e was shot as he lay shirtless and unarmed on the sidewalk:
Two officers responded to the area Saturday night on reports of a man behaving erratically, according to Nancy Pratt of the Long Beach Police Department.

A struggle ensued when police tried to arrest the man, she said. Pratt said officers used a Taser on the man and struck him with batons, but he appeared unfazed, causing officers to think he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, she said.

When Su'e tried to take one of the batons away from the officers, they shot him multiple times in the upper torso, she said.
Family members say Su'e was unarmed, had a bipolar disorder, was dying of lung cancer, and had argued with his girlfriend, which is why he was upset. A witness said that officers shot the man six times. Six times!

The fatal shooting has angered a lot of people in the largely Samoan American enclave, and the community wants answers. Su'e's family says it plans to sue the Police Department: Long Beach man's family to sue police over his death.

5.21.2008

dale eliminated from top chef

Aw, dammit. Big bummer on Bravo's Top Chef tonight. Dale got eliminated. I was totally rooting for him, and thought he was one of the strongest chefs on the show, so I was pretty disappointed to see get the boot. In my opinion, he had the chops to make it to the final four, but bad decisions and poor planning got the best of him in the latest elimination challenge.

If you've been watching the show, you know that Dale has had the tendency to come off as cocky, unfriendly and abrasive. He made it pretty obvious from the beginning that he wasn't there to make friends. I actually respected for that—being a chef came first, he wasn't going to take any B.S., and he was going to let his food speak for itself. He's better than some of the remaining chefs, and I'm truly bummed to see him go. Check out video of his exit interview here.

the best bus driver in north america


Jessa Dela Cruz, a bus jockey for the Bay Area's AC Transit, is the three-time championship transit operator of North America, having just won his third title at the annual transit "roadeo" in Texas: Top bus driver followed a winding path. He beat out 75 operators from the United States and Canada for the title, maneuvering a 40-foot motor coach flawlessly through an obstacle course in 6 minutes and 33 seconds.

I didn't even know such a competition existed. The contest at the annual International Bus Roadeo, sponsored by the American Public Transportation Association, tests an operator's ability to make tight turns driving forward and backward, stop quickly and smoothly, avoid obstacles and pull within a half-foot of the curb. I have been a passenger on many buses in my lifetime, and know for sure that most drivers would not do well in this contest.

For those of you in the Bay Area, Jessa drives the suburban No. 84 line from San Leandro and Hayward in the morning. In the afternoon, he drives the DB line, a cross-bay run between Union City and Palo Alto. If you ride any of these lines, rest assured that your bus is being operated by the best bus driver in North America.

new jersey killer was a high-stakes gambler

Some details on Kang-Hyuk Choi, the 32-year-old man arrested for murdering three people in their New Jersey home in a dispute over money. The guy was apparently a regular at casinos and known for being an agressive, high-stakes gambler at the poker table, sometimes dropping $10,000 or $12,000 at a time. He also apparently never spoke a word: Suspect in Tenafly killings portrayed as high-stakes gambler. Kind of fitting that he was eventually caught in a casino.

Choi, escorted by detectives from Bergen County, arrived in New Jersey yesterday after an early morning flight from Los Angeles. Held without bail in the Bergen County Jail, he is due in court this afternoon to face three counts of murder in the stabbing deaths of Han Il Kim, 27; Yoo Bok Kim, 57; and Doo Soo Seo, 70.

The article suggests that it remains to be seen whether Choi's gambling has any connection to the dispute that led to the killings. Personally, I think anyone who gambled the way Choi did, and consistently losing and winning that kind of money, is probably headed for some kind of trouble. But triple murder? Dammmn.

UPDATE: Kang-Hyuk Choi pleaded not guilty in Superior Court this afternoon to charges that he murdered Han Il Kim, Yoo Bok Kim and Doo Soo Seo. However, prosecutors say that Choi admitted to the killings when interviewed by detectives after his arrest in Los Angeles three days ago: Accused murderer confessed, prosecutors say.

5.20.2008

things you should never say to asians in the office

This is a great segment from NPR's Tell Me More, the first of a series of conversations on things you should "never say" to co-workers about their race, faith, sexual orientation or other elements of their identities. Here, DiversityInc. co-founder Luke Visconti executive Anna Mok discuss some things you should never say to Asian American colleagues in the workplace: Magazine Series: What Never to Say.

Here's the original article from DiversityInc: 7 Things NEVER to Say to Asian-American Executives. It's got the usual offenses, like "Where are you from? No, where are you really from?" and "Oh, you speak English good!" My personal favorite is "You don't act very Asian." I guess that's supposed to be a compliment?

kristi yamaguchi wins dancing with the stars

Okay. I didn't watch a single episode of Dancing with the Stars this season. Despite its immense popularity, I've never really been into this show. But I've been hearing for months about how much Kristi Yamaguchi has been kicking some serious ass on the dance floor. Going into the competition, she was clearly the odds-on favorite, being a figure skater and all. My money was on her, and I didn't have to watch a single step to be sure of it.

Tonight, she won: Winner is crowned on 'Dancing With the Stars'. She walked into the finale with a perfect score (60) and left with that ugly-ass mirroball trophy. The former champion Olympic figure skater beat out pro football star Jason Taylor, and broke the string of four consecutive male winners on the show. She was the first woman to claim the Dancing crown since the show's opening season. Like I knew you would, Kristi.

chicago kollaboration 5 this saturday


Chicagooooooo! This one's for you. This weekend, do not miss Chicago Kollaboration 5, the annual talent show extravaganza. Come see up-and-coming artists from the community compete in band, dance, vocal, songriter and rap categories. It's like Star Search, only with a lot more yellow people. With special guest performers Far East Movement, and guest judges Michael Kang, Elle Pai Hong, Joshua Lee, Sung Yang and Alice Kim. It's all going down Saturday, May 24 at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie.

Chicago Kollaboration will also be hosting a special drive sponsored by the National Marrow Donor Program on the same day, May 24, from noon to 10:30pm at the Center for Performing Arts. Come on out and get registered. You could save someone's life.

While I'm at it, let me throw a big, big shoutout to my man Paul "PK" Kim, founder and director of Kollaboration. This is the man that started it all. He's being honored this week by the K.W. Lee Center for Leadership in Los Angeles's 3rd Annual Banquest & Silent Auction. You're the man, PK.

more clues in latest "groper" attack

In Seattle, the "Beacon Hill Groper" continues his reign of terror on local women... since 2006, this sicko has attacked nearly two dozen women in Beacon Hill and Rainer Valley. That's two years, and no one has been able to catch this guy. However, after the most recent attack, police say they might be just a little bit closer: Latest "groper" attack provides more clues.

The latest attack occurred on Saturday morning in the 7500 block of Renton Avenue South. Witnesses were able to provide sexual-assault-unit detectives with better descriptions of the assailant and the vehicle he was seen driving:
Witnesses to the attack around 10 a.m. Saturday told police they saw a man grope an Asian or Asian-American woman who was walking with a toddler. The woman screamed.

A witness tried to take photos of the man's car and license plate with a cellphone camera, but the suspect knocked the witness down and stole the phone, police said.

The man fled in the green 1994 Jeep Cherokee, according to police.

The man is described as black, about 5-foot-10, with light-colored shaving bumps on the left side of his face. Earlier descriptions were even more sketchy, and no one had previously provided a vehicle description.

Witnesses said the woman ran north with the child after she was attacked. Police have not yet spoken with her and hope that she comes forward.
I hope that woman comes forward. She might be able to provide even more details on the suspect, and help finally get this guy caught. According to police, this was the 23rd known attack on girls and women in the area since August 2006. None of the victims, who range from teenagers to 52, has been raped or critically injured in the attacks. Most were Asian or Asian American.

Police are asking that anyone with information about the suspect or the most recent attack call the department's sexual-assault unit at 206-684-5575.

asian american hip hop for dummies


I recently heard from DJ Phatrick, former DJ for Native Guns, as well as a host and producer of the Apex Express radio show on KPFA 94.1 FM in the Bay Area... He's compiled several of the API hip hop mixes that he made for the show into a mixtape, humbly titled ("for lack of a better name," he says) Asian American Hip Hop for Dummies. Well, I'm proud to say that I am a dummy, and this hip hop is for me.

Lots of great stuff there, with music from the likes of Lyrics Born, Far East Movement, Native Guns, The Pacifics, Blue Scholars, Jupitersciples and more. The mixtape is available for purchase directly from DJ Phatrick's MySpace or in person at any of his upcoming gigs. Just $9.99 including shipping and handling. If people dig it, hopefully it'll be the first of many such mixes. To learn more, go here.

bruce lee: the musical

Bruce Lee is coming to Broadway. I remember hearing about the Bruce Lee musical in the works when it was first announced several years ago, and then wondered what had happened to it. Bruce Lee: Journey to the West, a musical telling the story of Bruce Lee's success, will be hitting the Broadway stage in 2010 or 2011: Bruce Lee, Nelson Mandela coming to Broadway. I am so there. It'll be directed by Bartlett Sher, with music by David Yazbek, and book by David Henry Hwang:
The Bruce Lee production will track the kung fu superstar's journey using figures from Chinese mythology to follow his quest and The Monkey King, a warrior god, who becomes his heavenly ally, according to a statement from the production's publicists.

Lee, who died in Hong Kong in 1973, was beloved by fans for martial arts movies like "Enter the Dragon" and "Fists of Fury." At least four documentaries have been produced about his life. He was born in San Francisco in 1940, grew up in Hong Kong and became a kung fu whiz kid by the age of 10.

The show will include martial arts, Chinese opera, modern dance and pop music as Lee struggles to master his skills, purify his spirit and forge a link to unite East and West, the statement said. The lead actor has yet to be chosen.

It will be directed by Bartlett Sher, who directed the current Broadway revival of "South Pacific" at Lincoln Center, and will be produced by Elephant Eye Theatrical.
More details here: Sher Will Direct Bruce Lee Musical, by Yazbek and Hwang, for Broadway. Sounds crazy, but I love it. Let it be known, that aside from Flower Drum Song, I'm generally not a big fan of musicals. However, a musical about Bruce Lee, I will see. Sign me up. Hell, I will watch this thing on opening night. No word yet on who will play the title role... it just better not be a white guy.

beau sia at the apia presidential town hall


I wasn't able to make it to the National Presidential Town Hall this past weekend at UC Irvine. Everybody was there, apparently. Even Kaba Modern! I heard it was interesting event, with Asian Pacific Americans coming out in full force to show they we are, indeed, a political power in this race to be reckoned with.

Too bad the candidates don't quite think so. At least, not enough to carve to out time in their schedules to show up to the event. John "I Hate Gooks" McCain was too busy appearing on Saturday Night Live. Granted, the candidates had representation at the event on their behalf. Hillary Clinton delivered a canned video address. And Barack Obama participated by phone and even took questions. But still, their lack of real presence at the event... it stings a little, doesn't it? How about a little love?

I think Beau Sia's performance at the Town Hall (video above), addressing the candidates, hits the nail on the head. Beau is my hero. And this blog entry by Jeff Chang, once again, is completely on point: The Candidates Have An Asian American Problem.

filipino veterans equity bill: contact your representative today

EDIT: I've been informed by an individual who works for the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs that the House will not be voting on S. 1315 tomorrow. It's not on the floor schedule for the week. So the timing of the message below is off. However, that doesn't mean that you still can't write in to your representative in support of this bill. The voting isn't scheduled yet, but the information still applies.

...

Fellow Americans, it is time to act. For the first time ever, the Filipino Veterans Equity Bill has passed Committee levels of both Houses and has passed the U.S. Senate. The House will soon act on S.1315. I got the following information from my friends at Fallout Central:
Dear Friends:

This is an appeal on behalf of our surviving Filipino WWII veterans. Out of the more than 400,000 listed after WWII, only about 20,000 remain. Time is of the essence as they are in their mid-80s and their numbers are dwindling. In a few years they will all be gone. For the first time ever, the Filipino Veterans Equity Bill has passed Committee levels of both Houses and has passed the US Senate. The House will act on S1315 TOMORROW, May 21.

S.1315 was passed by the U.S. Senate on April 24, and it contains a range of benefits for U.S. veterans, as well as benefits for our surviving Filipino WWII veterans. We must all ask Speaker Pelosi to move S.1315 towards approval and we should contact our U.S. Representatives to support the House version of S.1315 and to ensure that the benefits to Filipino WWII veterans are not amended or removed.

HERE'S WHAT YOU NEED TO DO NEXT:

1. CALL SPEAKER PELOSI NOW!!
The contact phone is 202-225-0100. Or email her directly here: http://speaker.house.gov/contact/. Tell her: I AM [your name], A VOTER FROM [your home state]. I ASK THAT YOU LEAD THE HOUSE TO PASS S.1315, THE VETERANS' BENEFITS ENHANCEMENT ACT OF 2007, AND DO NOT AMEND OR REMOVE THE BENEFITS IN IT FOR THE FILIPINO WWII VETERANS.

2. CALL ON YOUR US REPRESENTATIVES, OR TELEPHONE, FAX, OR EMAIL THEM, NOW!!
The contact information for your Congressman is on http://www3.capwiz.com/c-span/dbq/officials/. Or email your message using the process below. Tell them: I AM [your name], A VOTER FROM [your hometown/city], [your home state]. I ASK THAT YOU SUPPORT S.1315 AND DO NOT AMEND/REMOVE THE BENEFITS FOR THE FILIPINO WWII VETERANS.

I just sent an email to my representative by following along with the very SIMPLE steps below. You should do the same NOW. Do each step as you read it now:

1. Open your web browser and go to http://www3.capwiz.com/c-span/dbq/officials/
2. Enter your zip code and click on GO. You will go to a new page with the list of your elected officials.
3. On the bottom of the leftmost column, click on the name of your U.S. Representative.
4. You will go to a new page with your Representative's photo and contact information. Click on SEND MESSAGE in blue under the photo.
5. You will go to a new page where you will type in and send your message.
6. In the subject box, enter: SUPPORT S1315 AND DO NOT AMEND FILIPINO VETERANS BENEFITS.
7. Click on the arrow on the Issue Area and select VETERANS AFFAIRS at the very end of the list
8. In the message box, enter: I AM A VOTER FROM [your home town/city], [your home state]. I ASK THAT YOU SUPPORT S.1315 AND DO NOT AMEND THE BENEFITS IN IT FOR FILIPINO WW2 VETERANS.
9. Type in your name in the Name box.
10. Complete Part 2 with your contact information. This is important. It will show to the US Representative that you are indeed from his voting district.
11. Make sure the REMEMBER ME box is checked.
12. Click the SEND MESSAGE in blue in the bottom. You will get an acknowledgement page that your message has been sent.
13. When you have sent your message, help each of your family and friends of voting age to do the same thing.
14. Add the web page to your list of FAVORITES so you can use it for follow-up messages later.
15. That is it. If you haven't been following along, go back to step 1, and DO IT RIGHT NOW!

(This is an adaptation of the NaFFAA call to action email.)
There you have it. Simply, step-by-step instructions on how you can help the Filipino Veterans Act get passed, and ensure that surviving Filipino World War II veterans finally receive the recognition and benefits they deserve—benefits that should've always been theirs in the first place.

5.19.2008

yuri kochiyama, a real american hero


Here's a great profile on long-time social justice activist Yuri Kochiyama, who turns 87 years old today: Oakland activist keeps spirit of revolution strong. She's definitely one of my heroes, a true inspiration in the fight for justice and fairness for all. What an amazing woman.

Today also happens to be Malcolm X's birthday, and for many, Kochiyama might be most well-known as the woman who cradled Malcolm X in her lap after he was shot, on February 21, 1965, during a speech at the Audubon Ballroom in New York City. Malcolm X's message had a profound impact on her own activist ideology, one of self-determination for all people, and her involvement in African American struggles helped lay the groundwork for the Asian American movement in the late '60s.

Without a doubt, she's a real pioneer. But what amazes me most is that at age 87, she's still going strong, active as ever in social justice causes and passing that fire along to younger generations. Much respect.

businessman pleads guilty to espionage

Ack. Last week, a New Orleans businessman pleaded guilty to espionage, admitting that he gave the Chinese government highly sensitive military information he obatined from a former Defense Department official: Man Gave Military Secrets To China.

Tai Shen Kuo said in court papers that gave the official gifts, cash and dinners to secure classified projections of U.S. military sales to Taiwan. He was paid $50,000 to pass the materials to his Chinese contact through e-mails and telephone calls to Beijing.

Kuo pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Alexandria to conspiracy to deliver national defense information to a foreign government. He faces up to life in prison when he is sentenced August 8. Daaaamn! That'll teach you not to spy.

former internees honored at university of washington


I mentioned this story a few weeks back, about a special ceremony at the University of Washington to honor Japanese Americans who had to leave the university in 1942 to relocate to internment camps after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Over the weekend, more than sixty years later, those former students finally got to graduate: Former Japanese-American students graduate UW after a 66-year wait.

On Sunday, about 200 former UW students—most now in their 80s—or their family members accepted honorary diplomas. Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta, a former internee himself, was on hand to deliver the keynote address. I'm sure for a lot of folks, it was about damn time. Congratulations to the class of 2008, finally.

sulu is getting married

Over the weekend, hot on the heels of California's new gay marriage ruling, George Takei announced that he and long-time partner Brad Altman will get married this summer: 'STAR TREK'S SULU GAY MARRIAGE. Boldly going where no two men (legally, in California) have gone before.

Takei first came out a few years back in order to draw attention and speak out against Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's veto of a same-sex marriage law. Looks like he finally got what he was fighting for. View the announcement on his website here.

In other George Takei news, check him out in the trailer for the indie action comedy Ninja Cheerleaders. Yes, you read that right. It looks like he plays the sensei to the ninja cheerleaders in question. Oh my.

caam presents flashing lights at poleng lounge


For all my friends in Bay Area, here's something fun to do this Thursday night... help the Center for Asian American Media celebrate APA Heritage Month with Flashing Lights. Music, drinks, friends. What more do you need on a Thursday night? CAAM and Poleng Lounge proudly present the latest installment of the Social Club at Poleng Lounge in San Francisco:

Thursday, May 22, 2008
10PM-2AM, Poleng Lounge
1751 Fulton Street @ Masonic
San Francisco, CA
21+ | $10 General Admission

CAAM Members get in free and get access to the CAAM VIP area. RSVP to rsvp@asianamericanmedia.org to get on the CAAM guest list. Should be a really cool party. For more information, go to CAAM website here.

5.18.2008

bao phi's ideas for racist hollywood 5

Aw yeah, he's back! It's time for another edition of Bao Phi's Ideas for Racist Hollywood, in which the poet/writer offers a fake movie pitch, so bad it could actually be true. This one, "Immortal Kickboxer," was written in honor of Jet Li/Jackie Chan's The Forbidden Kingdom, with yet another jab at 21, and some Iron Man kicked in for good measure. Check it:
BAO PHI'S IDEAS FOR RACIST HOLLYWOOD 5: IMMORTAL KICKBOXER

Tagline: When you know your fate, high kick. When you don't... high kick anyway.

THE PITCH: Spencer Whidmore is just your average middle-class white Blockbuster clerk with an affinity for anime, Johnny To films, and pad thai from that greasy spoon around the block. But when a mysterious stranger returns a damaged copy of Tony Jaa’s Ong Bak late and forgets to pay the $1.50 re-stocking fee, Spencer chases him down the block, tugs on his shoulder… and is knocked out when the stranger (cameo by Chuck Norris) mistakes him for a mugger and spin-kicks him in the head.

Spencer wakes up to find that he has magically been transported back in time to Thailand, where a cruel warlord named Jo Jafar is oppressing the good, hardworking, pious, humble, communal, defenseless Thai peasants in the kingdom. Spencer is shocked to learn that, at this point in time in Thailand's history, kickboxing has not yet been invented--but the Thai shamans and holy men whisper of a prophecy: a savior will come deliver the good people of Thailand from their oppressors and teach them the martial arts. Conveniently, an emasculinated Asian male buddy named Toofo befriends Spencer for no reason--and as they are cornered in the jungle by Thai ruffians, in a flurry of martial arts mayhem Spencer discovers that HE is the storied hero that the Thai people have been waiting for, that he is the great teacher who brought Thai kickboxing to the Thai people: he is no longer Spencer Whidmore, he is the IMMORTAL KICKBOXER. At first, Spencer revels in his new and wholly un-earned skill in kickboxing, showing off for the locals and enjoying his white saviour celebrity status. But then, when his emasculinated sidekick Toofo returns home to his village without Spencer and is killed in an ambush by thugs, Spencer throws his arms to the heavens over the body of his humble brown friend and screams "WHYYYYYYYYYYYYY!" He has paid a terrible price to learn that brown men must die so that great white men can learn responsibility.

ABOUT THE FILM: The producer of the film claims that there were no qualified Asian actors to be in this film, so they picked a random white guy with no experience for the role and asked Josh Whedon to write in the time traveling plot. When asked about whether or not people would be offended by the issue of appropriation, the producer replied, "well, my best friend is Thai and he took some kickboxing lessons, and he loved the idea and says race is not an issue, so I don't think anyone will have a problem with it."
Ah, once again, why must the Asian man die in order for the white hero to grow a conscience and embrace his destiny? Poor Toofu.

By the way, if you're in Minnesota, you should check out Bao Phi in a new play called Q & A, running three weekends, May 22 through June 8 at Mixed Blood Theater in Minneapolis. Bao's been busting his ass off to help put this thing together, and it sounds like a really cool, groundbreaking, provocative piece of local Asian American theater. Here's a description of the production:
Q & A
by Juliana Hu Pegues
Mixed Blood Theater
Directed by David Mura

Three Asian Americans: a wanna-be rapper, a pothead, and an intellectual are thrown into a world of speed dating and interrogations. Known only by their numbers, 187, 1/2, and 9066 must answer questions about their racial and sexual identity, moving from the current moment to a future world where government repression spawns an underground resistance. In an unsure time and place where each is suspect, they will have to ask what they are ultimately guilty of, and choose or betray an alliance. Q & A is a funny, fanciful, and frightening journey into the heart of who we are and how we define ourselves in America.
Performances are Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 pm; Sunday at 2:00 pm, May 22-June 8 (Previews on May 20 and 21). For more information on Q & A, go here. Also head over to Bao's website to read an impassioned plea where he gives numerous reasons why you should go see Q & A. Good times.

white guy as spiky-haired anime character


Some photos from the upcoming Dragonball movie surfaced on the internet last week, and I'm sure it's got a lot of fans pissed off: New Dragonball Photos Online. It's a scan from the Japanese magazine Weekly Young Jump.

I think many people have always had it in their minds that the characters were Asian, being a Japanese cartoon and all. (Turns out, they're actually aliens—but that's a long story.) So I heard from a lot of people who were upset when it was announced last fall that many of the movie's characters would be played by white actors—including Justin Chatwin as the hero Goku. I've never been a big fan of the original series, so I haven't been exactly following the Dragonball news very closely... but you've got to admit, something about this photo is kind of ridiculous. The Asian characters on his t-shirt are a nice touch though.

Written and directed by James Wong, and produced by Stephen Chow, the big screen adaptation also stars James Marsters, Jamie Chung, Eriko Tamura, Joon Park, Chow Yun-Fat, Texas Battle, Randall Duk Kim and Ernie Hudson. It opens on April 10, 2009. I'm not getting my hopes up.

several found dead in new jersey house

Gruesome. Three people were found dead in a New Jersey house last week, all of them stabbed multiple times, with their bodies decomposing after sitting in the house for about a week: Several Found Dead in New Jersey House.

The victims, who were not identified, included an older man and a woman, and a younger man, perhaps in his 20s. It's all very mysterious. No murder weapons was found, and the house didn't appear to have been ransacked. According to the Bergen County prosecutor, "We do not believe this to be a random homicide."

The bodies were discovered on Friday afternoon. The daughter of the older man, unable to reach her father, sent a relative to the house to investigate. The relative came in through an open back door, found a body, left and called the police.

While authorities have not identified the victims, property records indicate that the house was bought by Yoo Bok Kim in May 2007. Neighbors said they believed the residents were Korean. More news on this case as it develops...

UPDATE: A 32-year-old man was arrested Sunday in Los Angeles in connection with the three stabbing deaths: Man is arrested in L.A. after stabbing deaths of three in Tenafly.

Kang Hyuk Choi was arrested as a "fugitive from justice" by authorities at a Los Angeles casinos. He apparently killed his friend, Han "Sean" Kim in an argument over money, hid the body, then later killed Kim's parents. More details about the murders here: Money at root of Tenafly triple slay, cops say. And here: Accused Tenafly triple killer returned to Bergen.

slant volume 1 asian american short films dvd


Slant Volume 1 is a collection of short films culled from seven years of Aurora Picture Show's annual Slant: Bold Asian American Images festival, which showcases the best in emerging Asian American cinema. Distributed through Microcinema International, the DVD features some of the coolest, most creative and provocative works I've seen throughout the years, including:

1. How to do the Asian Squat by Daniel Hsia
2. Lilo and Me by Kip Fulbeck
3. Maritess vs the Superfriends by Dino Ignacio
4. A Little Bit Different by Lynn Okimura
5. Profiles in Science by Wes Kim
6. I Pie (A Love Store) by Nobu Adilman
7. How to Make Kimchi According to My Kun-Uma by Samuel Kiehoon Lee
8. Slip of the Tongue by Karen Lum

You may have seen some of the pieces on the internet somewhere. That's cool. I think this is a must-have disc for any Asian American cinephile's collection. The DVD is available at Amazon.com and the usual online retailers. For more information on Slant Volume 1, go here, view the trailer here, visit the MySpace page here, and the Facebook video here.

I love short films. Through my involvement with various Asian American film festivals, I get to see a lot of short films, and I always try to encourage people to check out a short program or two. It's opportunity to uncover some real cinematic gems, and a great place to check out the work of talented, up-and-coming filmmakers. Unfortunately, after most short films work their way through the film festival circuit, they've got nowhere else to go, and they end up a distant memory on somebody's resume. That's why it's so cool to see a compilation like Slant. The short films live on! To be enjoyed and consumed by future audiences everywhere...

And for those of you in Houston, be sure to check out SLANT 8: Bold Asian American Images, happening later this month, May 30-June 1 at the Aurora Picture Show. Learn more about it here and go the Facebook page here.

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