win tickets to aaiff

This for all my people in New York... It is time! The fabulous NY Asian American International Film Festival kicks off next week, July 10. Are you ready? To help get the word about the festival, I'm giving away some tickets. That's right. Free stuff, my friends.

Five of you lucky readers will win a pair of tickets for the screening John Kwon's Always Be Boyz on Friday, July 11, 6:45pm at Asia Society. It's a narrative feature, inspired by a true story, that takes a deep look into Seoul's b-boy culture. I actually haven't had the chance to watch it, but the film has already gotten a lot of buzz and picked up awards at several festivals this year.

So... wanna see it? To enter for your chance to win, just email me with your name and phone number, with "AAIFF TICKETS" clearly written in the subject line, by the end of next Monday, July 7. I'll throw all the names in a hat, and pick five winners at random. And there you go. Good times. For more information on the festival, visit the website here.

teen's life cut short by drunk driver

A promising life and future cut short by a drunk driver... On early Sunday morning in New York, 17-year-old Julie Tsang was killed while riding in a friend's car, when a truck slammed into the vehicle at an intersection. Julie died at the scene. Her friend, Kevin Chang, was critically injured: Drunk driver kills her dreams. A straight-A student, she was going to enroll at Hunter College in September. She wanted to become a nurse.

The driver of the truck, 22-year-old Robert Gomez, was charged with criminally negligent homicide, driving while intoxicated and driving with a suspended license. He wasn't hurt in the crash.

coco wang's earthquake comics

I first read about this a couple of weeks ago on Pop Candy... After the devasting earthquake last month in China, Beijing-based cartoonist Coco Wang began documenting the humanitarian stories of the quake—stories of survival, courage and hope—and posting them online... as comic strips. Here's an excerpt from her introduction to the project, and why she decided to do it:
The amount of incredibly moving stories of victims, rescuers, volunteers is simply shocking at the moment. I have been collecting newspapers of all the stories, and telling them in the form of comic strips. I hope these stories could show the UK readers the love, warmth and courage of the Chinese people, also the sad and cruel reality of the horrible 5.12 Earthquake.

I am back home in Beijing now. Thousands of heart-breaking stories are happening 24 hours non-stop everyday, some are so sad that you can hardly bear, some are incredibly moving that you just can't stop crying... I wanted to go to the front to help with all those people, some of my friends have already gone there, but I heard that the traffic needed to be kept totally clear for rescue transportation at the moment, people like me without knowledge of first-aid and experience of rescue operations going there now would cause chaos and trouble... but I can't just sit at home and do nothing, I have been crying my eyes out in the past three days, I have never felt more proud of my country and people... their love, courage and kindness rock me to my core! I have decided to tell these touching stories by drawing comics. I am going to send you comic strips almost everyday from now on, I hope you could know something about the earthquake in China, although you don't have to do anything, but I hope you could feel our love and hope.
I've been reading through the comics, one by one. They're incredibly moving and inspiring. And some of them are surprisingly funny. (The one about the pandas cracked me up.) Read them all here.

michelle wie: a work in progress

The New York Times has an interesting piece on 18-year-old golfer Michelle Wie, who, at age 14, was once regarded as the future of the sport. Her future seemingly limitless, she was touted as the next Tiger Woods. The question was not whether she would win a United States Women's Open or an LPGA Championship; it was when she would win on the PGA Tour.

These things could all still happen, but her professional career got off to a rocky start, hampered by injuries (and a little bit of overconfidence, I think): Wie Tries to Rebuild Her Game and Her Fame. Back at square one, this year is what she's calling a "work in progress."

Meanwhile, over the weekend, 19-year-old Inbee Park of South Korea became the youngest winner of the U.S. Women's Open: Clutch putting surges 19-year-old Park to U.S. Women's Open title.

manny pacquiao is the best in boxing

Though everyone in the Philippines was sure of it already, this weekend, Manny Pacquiao made if official: he is a badass. Unquestionably. On Saturday night in Las Vegas, the 29-year-old Filipino boxer destroyed David Diaz to win the WBC lightweight title, capturing a title in his fourth weight class—the first Asian boxer ever to do so: All hail the new king. More here: Pacquiao wins lightweight belt by flooring Diaz in 9th.

The feat has convinced a lot of people that Pacquiao is quite possibly the best fighter, pound-for-pound, in the sport of boxing. But like I said, the Philippines already knew that. How much do they love him in his home country? Manila police reported no major crimes on Sunday during the fight. The entire city—even the crooks—was glued to a radio or TV for the duration of the bout: No crimes reported during Pacquiao fight.

the cure for cancer

Can this be? The cure for cancer? Researchers at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center are about to start human trial to test whether a new cancer treatment will be as effective at eradicating cancer in humans as it has proven to be in mice: Scientists to test if cancer cure can work in humans.

The treatment will involve transfusing specific white blood cells, called granulocytes, from select donors, into patients with advanced forms of cancer. A similar treatment using white blood cells from cancer-resistant mice has previously been highly successful, curing 100 percent of lab mice afflicted with advanced malignancies.

Dr. Zheng Cui, lead researcher and associate professor of pathology, announced the study on Saturday at the Understanding Aging conference in Los Angeles. The study, given the go-ahead by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, will involve treating human cancer patients with white blood cells from healthy young people whose immune systems produce cells with high levels of cancer-fighting activity.

More here: Cancer Cured? Granulocytes Treatment Worked 100 Percent In Mice Work But Will It Work In Humans?. I'm not a science guy, and I barely understand any of this. I read it, and all I really understand is cure for cancer... which is pretty exciting. But probably still a long way off.

masi oka geeks out

Ellen wrote in to tell me about an interview she did last week for SF Gate's "Tech Chronicles," with Heroes star Masi Oka, who was at San Francisco's Apple store to help promote Get Smart: Masi Oka gets smart at the Apple store. Like his character in both Heroes and Get Smart, the guy is a self-proclaimed geek, and the interview definitely backs his claims to geekdom. Especially at the end.

Though he has a minor supporting role in Get Smart, his character headlines this summer's other Get Smart movie, the direct-to-video Bruce and Lloyd Out of Control, which hits stores on Tuesday. The movie's story evidently occurs simultaneously with the events in Get Smart, sort of like a Rosencrantz and Gildenstern tale. Interesting, though I imagine if the movie was really good, they would have released it theatrically.

the sabhnanis are going to prison

Last week, Mahender Sabhnani was sentenced to 40 months in federal prison for enslaving two Indonesian house maids and subjecting them to years of physical and emotional torture: Three years for slave-case husband.

The U.S. District Judge determined that the Long Island millionaire did not inflict physical injury on the two women, "but he permitted all of these things to go on--these dreadful things--he had to know." Sabhnani's wife, Varsha, was identified as the one who inflicted the abuse, and received 11 years in prison. Justice.

The Sabhnanis were arrested in May 2007 and convicted last year of 12 counts, including forced labor, peonage, harboring aliens, servitude and related conspiracy charges. The case, which made national news, brought to light the awful truth, that human slavery and trafficking is still very much alive and happening in America: Long Island case turns spotlight on hundreds trapped as slaves.


korea's b-boys rule

Jeff Chang has a great article on Salon.com about the history and culture of kickass, world-class b-boys in Korea: So you think they can break-dance?

In a very recent, short span of time, South Korea has emerged as an international b-boy powerhouse. It may have started in New York City, but the Korean b-boys have taken it to another level. It's a good piece looking at how this phenomenon came to be.

Now that shows like So You Think You Can Dance and America's Best Dance Crew have hit a certain level of public consciousness in the U.S., it would be cool if the producers of such shows started looking abroad to raise the bar. How cool would that be? Randy Jackson Presents The World's Best Dance Crew.

Yeah, don't expect it to happen.

officers cleared in michael cho shooting

An update on the Michael Cho case... The Orange County District Attorney says the two officers who shot and killed Michael acted legally, because the victim apparently threatened one of them with a tire iron: 2 La Habra police officers cleared in deadly New Year's Eve shooting. According to the D.A., the shooting was "a justifiable homicide":
Michael Cho, 25, was agitated and reacted in a bizarre manner when the officers, with guns drawn, ordered him to drop the weapon, Senior Assistant Dist. Atty. Jim Tanizaki said. Tanizaki, who helped supervise the investigation, said police had responded to calls that Cho was vandalizing cars.

Instead of complying with the officers' orders, he walked away, Tanizaki said. When an officer got in front of him, he said, Cho raised the tire iron as if to hit him.

Both officers fired because they thought Cho, an artist and UCLA graduate, "could and would hurt people," Tanizaki said.
Thanks. This entire case still makes absolutely no sense to me. The article indicates that Michael had been struggling with mental illness, and had a history of violent/suicidal behavior. But there's absolutely no way the officers could have known this. I don't understand how a simple vandalism call could result in a guy being shot eleven times, or why a guy wielding a tire iron requires the use of such deadly, excessive force. This isn't the end of this...

kicked out of the "axis"?

This week, President Bush announced that he was taking North Korea off the State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism: Bush Rebuffs Hard-Liners to Ease North Korean Curbs. This is the same nation George W. once famously described as part of the "Axis of Evil." You can certainly bet that Dick Cheney and Co. were not happy about this move, as indicated by the exchange that opens the New York Times story.

The administration's announcement has been interpreted as a largely symbolic, reciprocal move, made in return for North Korea's long-delayed declaration of its nuclear program to the outside world. It's the first step in what's expected to be a long, drawn-out diplomatic process meant to lead eventually to establishing a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula.

mummy marketing hits the olympics

According to The Hollywood Reporter, NBC Universal is launching a television marketing campaign next week that magically blends imagery from the Summer Olympics and Universal Pictures' The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor: Sports meets spirits in China. Because, you know, both are set in China. That's synergy, baby.
The campaign kicks off Tuesday with an extended 150-second spot that will run during the NBC series "America's Got Talent."

The spot, which also will be cut into variations ranging from 10 seconds to two minutes for NBC Uni's cable networks and in-theater pods, utilizes special effects that fuse Olympic footage with "Mummy" scenes.

One such moment includes a backflip by one of the film's stars, Michelle Yeoh, who morphs into a gymnast on a balance beam. In another, a fight between stars Brendan Fraser and Jet Li is transported to fisticuffs in a boxing ring.
This sounds supremely stupid. I mean, the movie itself sounds bad enough. In short, Jet Li stars as an ancient Chinese emperor who returns from the dead, along with the region's legendary terra cotta warriors, to rule the world. It seems to be playing up all sorts of mystical, ancient Asian stereotypes. Yay.

As if Americans didn't already have some really wrong, backward ideas about China—this campaign certainly isn't going to help. I thought this summer's Olympic games were going to the world's introduction to modern China. Instead, for American TV audiences, it will be equated with Brendan Fraser kicking Chinese mummy ass. But hey, they need to sell those movie tickets. Fraser's gotta get paid, y'all.

mandarin in the next iron man movie?

We're about six or seven weeks now into the summer movie season. I've been able to see most of the big blockbusters, and so far, my favorite is still the one that kicked it all off, Iron Man. Considered both a huge critical and box office success, it's no surprise that they're already talking about a sequel. The story certainly left it open for a second one.

So... does that we might be seeing Iron Man's dreaded nemesis, the Mandarin, in a future film? A few weeks ago, director Jon Favreau hinted at the possibility: Iron Man's Repulsors Might Set on The Mandarin for Sequel. Back when they were still in production, there was a lot of initial speculation that Mandarin would be the villain in this first movie. I guess that didn't happen... yet.

For those who are unfamiliar with Marvel Comics' Iron Man lore from the 1960s, Mandarin is basically their version of the Fu Manchu stereotype. He wields the evil extraterrestrial power of ten rings, each with a different destructive function (i.e. "Ice Blast," "Electro Blast," "Flame Blast"). The first film briefly makes mention of the terrorist organization "The 10 Rings"—a clear reference to the Mandarin.

Considering that the character is just a thinly-veiled yellow peril villain, I'm not too thrilled that they're hoping to bring a movie Mandarin to life. At the same time, I am slightly encouraged by Favreau's ideas about the character:
"There is a lot that is very relevant about that character, in the pool of the landscape that we find ourselves in, but there is something off-putting and distasteful about the way that the Mandarin had been presented back in the '60s. I don't think that is relevant anymore. How do you maintain the core spirit of what makes that villain so formidable without having something that either seemed out of our reality, as far as what his abilities are, or the way he is depicted?"
That's pretty much a nice way of saying, "The character use to be important, but racist. How do we make the character equally important and relevant, but not racist?" Then again, with all the recent discourse about China as a looming economic threat, I could see how it would be easy for them to run with a whole new, modern yellow peril threat. The next movie is still a long way off, so I guess it'll be a while before we actually see what they do...


I love jon and kate plus 8

I've been meaning to write about Jon & Kate Plus 8 for months. The show follows the daily lives of Jon and Kate Gosselin, an average American couple raising a set of twins and a set of sextuplets. Yes. Eight kids. Their situation is hardly typical, but they do the best they can to make sure their kids have a normal, happy childhood. I freaking love this show.

I've been following the show for months. I started as a casual viewer, and now I can't stop watching. Every Monday night on TLC, I'm tuning in. I'll watch the repeats—even the ones I've already seen multiple times. This definitely isn't my usual kind of show, but something about it is really engaging and wonderful. I love this family. I love how real they are. And the kids are ridiculously cute. My favorite one is Aaden, "the professor."

I'm told that the show has become one of TLC's biggest hits, which is awesome. It makes them one of the most prominent, widely-viewed Asian American families (Jon is Korean American) on television. Someday, these kids will grow up and fully comprehend how crazy their lives really were... and realize just how awesome their parents are.

To learn more about the show, go here. To learn more about the Gosselin family, visit their website here. Jon and Kate will also have a book published in November, Multiple Blessings: Surviving to Thriving with Twins and Sextuplets.

dying nanny forced to leave country

This is a ridiculous, heartbreaking story... In Canada, Juana Tejada, a live-in caregiver from the Philippines, is battling terminal cancer. Her wish is to stay—and die—in the country, and provide her family with a better future. But she'll apparently be forced to leave when her work permit expires in two months, even though her period of service in Canada as a nanny was supposed to be the gateway to permanent residency: Dying nanny told to leave country.

Basically, she's being denied the chance to stay because her illness puts a burden on the health care system. It's ironic that she worked as a caregiver in Canada for several years, only now to be deemed too much of a burden to be taken care of by the Canadian government. (Thanks, Alex.)

little jabbawockeez

I'm loving these videos featuring 11-year-old Josh and 7-year-old Jeremiah, brothers doing JabbaWockeeZ-inspired dances. They apparently became fans of America's Best Dance Crew last season and learned the Jabba routines by watching and re-watching them on YouTube. Funny kids. Watch the rest of the videos here. Give those kids some white masks! Some day, you'll see them on America's Best Dance Crew.

ask john woo

Ling tells me that TIME is soliciting questions from readers for their upcoming interview with legendary director John Woo: Ask John Woo. Ask him about directing Hong Kong action classics like The Killer and Hard Boiled, or Hollywood blockbusters like Face/Off and Mission: Impossible II. Ask him if he's counting on his latest film, Red Cliff—the most expensive movie ever made in Asia—to be his big return to glory. Ask him how much it sucks to work with Tom Cruise, Nicolas Cage and/or Jean-Claude Van Damme. Use the form to submit your questions, the look for the upcoming interview in TIME Magazine's Asian edition.

nationwide prostitution ring busted in austin

In Austin, police officers have taken down a nationwide Asian prostitution ring. According to authorities, Carl Clark and his wife Yuzhi Jia have been running a prostitution ring that exploited Asian women from an apartment in northwest Austin: Austin police bust nationwide prostitution ring. They were apparently getting Asian women from different parts of the United States every month and recruiting girls to perform "services."

Investigators discovered AsianPearlGirl.com, a Web site that operated under the guise of a "sensual massage parlor." Ugh. Undercover agents posed as customers and obtained the evidence they needed to bring the husband-and-wife team down. Busted!Officers aren't sure how many women Clark and Jia sold for sex, but they believe there may be many more prostitutes involved. Anyone with information on the case should call the Austin Police Department's Sex Crimes Tip Line at (512) 974-5095.

the good, the bad and the weird

A movie I've been hearing about on the internet for a while is The Good, The Bad and the Weird, a South Korean western from Kim Ji-Woon, the director of A Bittersweet Life and A Tale of Two Sisters. Yeah, you read that right. Korean western. "Oriental Western," actually. And it looks absolutely crazy.

A new theatrical trailer hit the web a few days ago, and it looks awesome. It doesn't appear to take place during any part of Korean history that I'm aware of, but damn, it just looks like a ton of fun. View it here (sorry, no subtitles). The movie opens in Korea on July 17, which means it'll probably be a while before we see it here Stateside. Can't wait.

chinese tourists are the future

While Japanese tourists were once ubiquitous in New York, it's all about Chinese tourists now. They've got the money. City officials, hospitality merchants and culture executives now see the oncoming wave of visitors from China as the golden future—a rare growth sector in a cooling economy: New York Sees Big Potential in a New Wave of Chinese Tourists

james li, olympic track and field coach

The Beijing Olympics are just six weeks away! This is an interesting New York Times piece on track and field coach James Li, manager of the United States Olympic track team, who is training runner Bernard Lagat for this summer's games. Lagat, who won medals for Kenya at the 2000 and 2004 Summer Games, is now competing as a United States citizen: On Coach’s Turf, Lagat Aims for Olympic Gold.


missing autistic boy in anaheim

In Anaheim, California, a 12-year-old high-functioning autistic boy has not been seen since leaving school Wednesday afternoon, and police are asking for the public's help in locating him: Anaheim Police Say Autistic Boy Missing. According to authorities, Andrew Hsu left Savannah High School at 3:30pm and has been missing ever since. They think he may have gotten on the wrong bus or walked away.

Andre is 5 feet 3 inches tall, with black hair and brown eyes. When last seen, he was wearing a light blue t-shirt, possibly in combination with a red-checkered long sleeve shirt over it, tan shorts and is in possession of a brown Batman backpack. Anyone knowing of Andre's whereabouts should call police.

UPDATE: Andre has been found unharmed: Missing 12-Year-Old Autistic Boy Found in Norwalk. Somebody saw the evening news broadcast with his photo and reported seeing him earlier in Norwalk. Police aren't exactly sure yet how he got there. But he's safe.

who's the woman in the cadillac commercial?

Metal, indeed. Anyone know who the woman in this Cadillac commercial is? I just spotted it on TV a moment ago and found it on YouTube. I'm only wondering because most of the Cadillac ads like this one feature actors I sort of recognize, i.e. Kate Walsh, Martin Henderson, Sofia Vergara, Lance Reddick. Now they're running a commercial with an Asian woman... and I have no idea who she is. So, anyone know?

UPDATE: Ah. Mystery solved. The woman driving the sweet Cadillac is none other than Diane Mizota. I should've known! She blogs about appearing in the spot here. Did she get to keep the car? (Thanks, Elaine.)

hey! you're filipino! my chef is filipino!

So yesterday, President Bush met with Filipino President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo at the White House. Arroyo was in Washington while her country tries to recover from a typhoon that devastated coastal areas and flipped a ferry carrying over 800 passengers last week.

Before discussing aid for the Philippines, George W. couldn't resist kicking things off without first mentioning of the "Philippine-American" member of his kitchen staff: Bush To Filipino President: "I Am Reminded Of The Great Talent Of The -- Of Our Philippine-Americans When I Eat Dinner At The White House"
PRESIDENT BUSH: Madam President, it is a pleasure to welcome you back to the Oval Office. We have just had a very constructive dialogue. First, I want to tell you how proud I am to be the President of a nation that -- in which there's a lot of Philippine-Americans. They love America and they love their heritage. And I reminded the President that I am reminded of the great talent of the -- of our Philippine-Americans when I eat dinner at the White House. (Laughter.)


PRESIDENT BUSH: And the chef is a great person and a really good cook, by the way, Madam President.

He was, of course, referring to Cristeta "Cris" Comerford, who was named White House chef in 2005. You've got to be kidding me, Mr. President. You're meeting with the fellow leader of a foreign nation, and this is the best you can come up with to say? Compliments to your Filipino cook? What is this, a frickin' country club?

Could he really be any more condescending? That's like a clueless idiot meeting a Korean American person at a party and saying, "Oh, you're Korean? I love Korean barbecue!" (This has happened to me before.) Except were talking about the President of the Freaking United States. And of course, Bush has no idea that he's said anything inappropriate. Awesome.

a double dose of michelle yeoh

Two trailers. Michelle Yeoh is one of my favorite actors, but hasn't really done much lately to get excited about... She's in this summer's The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, playing the sorceress Zijuan. Basically, Brendan Fraser must prevent Jet Li and his resurrected terra cotta army from taking over the world. Yay, white people save us from evil. Again. The movie opens August 1. View the trailer here.

Ms. Yeoh is also in Babylon A.D.. To be honest, I can barely tell what the movie is about, except that it features Vin Diesel yelling, and a lot of explosions. In the future. Michelle does appear to perform some asskicking, but my hopes aren't high for this movie either. This one's in theaters on August 29th. View the trailer here.

journalist is a security threat for "mixing something"

This week in the War on Terror... Airborne! Not only does it fight colds, it can stop a passenger flight dead in its tracks. Here's a first-hand account from David Ho, a journalist for Cox Newspapers, who was recently suspected of being some sort of security threat on a JetBlue flight out of New York. His crime? Trying to prevent a cold: Reporter: I was a 'security threat' on flight.

A jumpy passenger apparently observed Mr. Ho drop an Airborne tablet—a dissolving, immunity-boosting vitamin supplement—into some water, got paranoid, and alerted authorities. Yup. Saw the Asian guy "mixing something" and got spooked. It's called Airborne, lady. Next time, pay a little attention in the drug store aisle.

Some scary police dudes with automatic rifles showed up and delayed the plane... then plucked David from his seat. The guy, of course, had no idea what he'd done. But I'm guessing he knew it was serious when a police officer grabbed his shirt and shoved him against the jetway wall. I guess vitamin C makes people crazy like that.

It quickly became apparently to the officers that David was not a terrorist, and "Airborne" wasn't actually anything he'd released into the air, nor was it going harm any of the passengers on this flight... except for the delay this woman's paranoia had caused. I have to wonder, as Mr. Ho does, "Would someone paler or older plopping an antacid turn any heads?" I'm going to guess no. But that's just me.

matcha: sound of the sages, july 3

Bay Area friends, make your plans for next week... The Asian Art Museum presents its monthly art/performance/music mixer series MATCHA next Thursday, July 3. Kick off the holiday weekend with "Sound of the Sages," as the museum spotlights the guqin, one of China's most revered and oldest musical instruments:
Sound of the Sages
Thursday, July 3
5 to 9 pm
FREE with museum admission ($5 after 5 pm)

The guqin (goo chin, also referred to as the qin) is the most revered of Chinese instruments and China's oldest stringed instrument, with a history of some 3000 years. It became part of a tradition cultivated by the Chinese scholars and literati, and an instrument associated with philosophers, sages, and emperors. The guqin was also a very important subject in Confucius' education system. Renowned guqin performer and scholar Wang Fei guides us on a special musical journey, introducing Chinese culture and bringing to life the sound of the sages. Performing guqin masterpieces from different dynasties, she will also share the legends and folktales behind the music and intimate her own commentary and insights to bring these ancient works to present day.

Elsewhere in the museum, try your hand at brush painting, chat with a docent about the museum's special exhibition Power & Glory: Court Arts of China's Ming Dynasty, explore the scholarly arts of China in the galleries, or simply enjoy a drink with friends.

Wang Fei's performance is co-presented with the North American Guqin Association and is made possible by LIVING CULTURES GRANTS from The Alliance for California Traditional Arts (ACTA).
Another night of art, music and friends. For more information about the event, go here. To win tickets, go here. And for MATCHA's full season schedule, go here. This website is a proud community partner of MATCHA.

danny cho is breaking the rules

For those of you Los Angeles, comedian Danny Cho is taping a stand-up comedy DVD next month. He informs me (warns me, rather) that it's going to be "pretty vile and ridiculous." If that's your cup of tea, come check it out. July 11 at the David Henry Hwang Theatre in Little Tokyo. For more information, visit Danny's website here.

I dream of jeannie movie gets a new writer

There have been several attempts over the years to bring I Dream of Jeannie, based on the old 1960s TV show, to big the screen. The project has been unsuccessfully kicked around to various writers and directors (including, at one point, Gurinder Chadha)... but no movie just yet.

The job now goes to Rita Hsiao, who has been hired to rewrite the latest draft of the script: "Mulan" scribe grants wish for "Jeannie" update. Her credits include screenplay work for Mulan, Toy Story 2, Enchanted and 13 Going on 30. Good luck, I guess. How many people out there these days are clamoring for I Dream of Jeannie movie?

I just noticed that Hsiao is also credited as a screenwriter on Good Cook, Likes Music, a mail-order bride comedy stuck in development hell that we've been hearing about for years. At one point Zhang Ziyi and Adam Sandler were attached to star, and Wayne Wang was supposed to direct. Is this movie ever going to happen? Man, I really hope not.

woman killed in chinatown truck crash

More bad news for the Fung Wah bus... This week in New York's Chinatown, a woman was killed and four were injured when a commercial dump truck rammed a parked bus, sending it hurtling onto the sidewalk: Woman Is Killed When Truck Hits Bus in Chinatown. 57-year-old Lai Ho died, apparently of a heart attack, after she was struck by a sign that was knocked down as she tried to cross the street. The driver of the bus and three passengers were hospitalized.

This accident, of course, is no fault of Fung Wah, a discount long-distance bus company which has had its share of mishaps. Bad luck. Of course, this New York Post headline kind of makes it sound like it was yet another Fung Wah bus crash: CHINATOWN BUS CRASH KILLS ONE PERSON. Those crazy Chinatown buses...

dawen wang declares indiependence! how sweet the sound!

Chicagoooooo. My man Dawen Wang, a Chicago-based musician with some very smooth sounds, informs me that he's organizing his very first showcase next week, July 3. He's brought together four Chicago Asian American singer-songwriters for a night of music and entertainment at Subterranean in Wicker Park. The show is called Declare INDIEpendence! How Sweet the Sound! with Dawen, David Wycoco, Paolo Escobar & the Prescription and Imelda de la Cruz, with Chic-A-Go-Go's Mia Park (Miss Mia) as guest emcee.

I've mentioned Dawen before, when he competed in the Starbucks/WXRT radio contest last year. After winning the competition, he's decided to take opportunities into his own hands and this show is the first fruit of that labor.

So if you're in Chicago or the surrounding areas, go check it out. I love Dawen's music. Not only does it have this cool, soulful sound, he's got some interesting, socially conscious lyrics poking through the tunes. Good stuff. To learn (and hear) more about Dawen visit his website here and his MySpace profile here. His self-titled EP is available for download through iTunes and Amazon.com.

what happened to kim dong-shik?

Kim Dong-shik, a U.S. permanent resident and Christian missionary with family living in Illinois, was abducted in 2000 by North Korean agents in northeastern China and taken to North Korea for interrogation and imprisonment, according to testimony in South Korean courts. Kim, whose wife and two children are U.S. citizens, had raised the ire of the North Korean government by helping its citizens flee the repressive regime and by attempting to convert North Korean athletes who attended the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.

Back in January 2005, Senator Barack Obama and other Illinois lawmakers co-signed a letter to North Korea's ambassador to the United Nations, describing Kim as a "hero" and demanding answers from North Korea about his whereabouts. The signatories warned that they would oppose North Korea's removal from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism—a longtime goal of the government in Pyongyang—until a "full accounting" of Kim's abduction was provided.

But within the last few years, the case has been largely forgotten as the Bush administration has pressed ahead on a diplomatic deal to end North Korea's nuclear program. The State Department has pretty much ignored the pleas of lawmakers and Kim's family for greater attention to the case. And Obama no longer believes that North Korea's removal from the terrorism list should be conditional on information about Kim.

Okay, but that still leaves a man unaccounted for, who is either rotting in a North Korea prison, or more likely, dead. The case of the only North Korea abductee with U.S. connections. Where the hell is Kim Dong-shik? Read about the story here: N. Korea's Abduction of U.S. Permanent Resident Fades From Official View.


are you ready to be a hero?

The fight for Michelle continues. Check out this PSA, featuring some very cool folks speaking out for a good cause. Michelle Maykin is 26 years old. Diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia in February 2007, Michelle underwent chemotherapy for seven months but relapsed in May 2008. She now needs to find a bone marrow match to save her life. You could be that person. Please consider registering as a bone marrow donor. To learn more, visit projectmichelle.com.

where are the asian american doctors in hopkins?

I've seen a couple of commercials for Hopkins, ABC News' six-part documentary series taking an intimate look at the men and women who work at Johns Hopkins, one of America's greatest hospitals. Cool idea for a show. So I should I be surprised that I didn't see one Asian face in any of the commercials? I guess not. This is "reality" TV, after all. Ridiculous.

Considering the huge presence of Asian Americans in medicine in the United States, would it have hurt to have a series that actually reflected that reality? Dude, I know there are Asian American doctors at Hopkins. I have friends/relatives who did their residencies there. I guess the one fictional Asian American doctor on Grey's Anatomy was enough for ABC.

I did take a look at the profiles on the series website and saw that Ashish S. Shah is one of the doctors profiled. And that's it. One of the bios does make mention of a surgeon named Steve Yang. Perhaps we'll see him somewhere during the course of the show? I hope the series is better than the commercials indicate... but I'm not holding my breath. The show premieres on June 26.


dancers to watch on so you think you can dance

Though I watch waaaaay too much television, I haven't really been following Fox's So You Think You Can Dance. I've been told by several avid fans of the show that there are a couple of Asian American contestants who have been kicking ass and made their way into the Top 16. They are:

Katee Shean, 20, from San Jose, CA.

Mark Kanemura, 24, from Honolulu, HI.

Like I said, I haven't really been watching the show, so I don't know anything about these dancers—or their abilities—outside of what it says on their bios. But I've heard from a lot of fans of the show. I might just have to start tuning in to see what happens.

financial adviser accused of stealing millions from seniors

Asian behaving badly... shady financial planner edition. Hitomi Tsuyuki, a financial planner from Coto de Caza, California, is accused of stealing more than $2.8 million from elderly people: Coto financial adviser arrested in thefts from seniors.

The Orange County District Attorney's office said that Tsuyuki faces more than 90 counts of grand theft, 78 counts of the use of untrue statements in the sale of a security, 29 counts of theft from an elder, and one count of the use of a scheme to defraud.

The guy's a crook! According to the DA, between Nov. 22, 1997, and Nov. 8, 2007, Tsuyuki stole more than $2.8 million from clients by convincing them to invest in bonds and instead spent the money for personal use. Many of the victims became associated with Tsuyuki while attending a church where Tsuyuki's father was a minister.

Worst of all, Tsuyuki was arrested last in Costa Mesa while attending his daughter's high school graduation ceremony. He's being held pending the posting $3 million bail—bail money he has to prove comes from a legitimate source.

Investigators said they began to review the case after receiving complaints from victims realized their investments were lost when they attempted to liquidate several years after making the original investment. To date, 35 victims have been identified by investigators. Most of them are Japanese American.

Anyone with additional information or believes they have been a victim is encouraged to contact Supervising District Attorney Investigator Bob Helvin (714)347-8691. Deputy District Attorney Yvette Patko of the Major Fraud Unit is prosecuting this case.

general taguba accuses white house of war crimes

Anthony Taguba, the retired two-star general who led an Army investigation into the horrific detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib, has accused the Bush administration of war crimes and is calling for accountability: Taguba: Bush administration tortured detainees, 'committed war crimes'.

In his 2004 report on Abu Ghraib, Taguba concluded that "numerous incidents of sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses were inflicted on several detainees." He called the abuse "systemic and illegal." He was then rewarded for his honesty by being forced into retirement.

Now, in the preface to a Physicians for Human Rights study of 11 former detainees who were apparently tortured by US military personnel and later released, Taguba writes that "there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes. The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account."

That's right, suckas. The Taguba is back with some brand new flava. He's talking about war crimes, and he's talking about the Bush administration—George W., Cheney, White House, Pentagon and Justice Department lawyers. War crimes, suckas. More here: Retired Gen. Taguba: Bush Administration Committed "War Crimes" And here: General Accuses WH of War Crimes.

the sketch comedy show season 2 preview

For those of you in Southern California, mark your calendars for next Saturday. Projekt Newspeak presents Season 2 of The Sketch Comedy Show! A special preview show thsi Saturday, June 28 at KIWA Cultural Center in Los Angeles. Only the first 100 people can attend, so be one of the lucky few to check out some fun-ass comedy, with special guest DJ Denkym, and special guest performer Sam Geunjin Kang. All the info you need is on the flyer above. Dig?

no love for the guru

It's no surprise that some people would take offense to The Love Guru. Mike Myers' over-the-top depiction of Pitka (an American raised by Indian gurus) was bound to raise controversy over its potential for stereotyping. From the moment the initial trailer hit theaters, Hindu leaders have charged that the "film lampoons Hinduism and Hindus and uses Hindu terms frivolously": Hindus upset over Hollywood film. This Hindu prof is less inclined to be so critical, dismissing the movie simply as stupid: Hindu prof on 'Love Guru'.

However, after this weekend, I think most moviegoers found out that the movie isn't just offensive to Hindus... it's offensive to everybody—by being completely unfunny. And the box office agreed. The movie clocked in at fourth place, earning a measly $14 million. Thank you, America. After the ludicrous amount of promotion Paramount did for this movie, I'm thinking this counts as a bona fide flop. Hopefully, that means we won't have to hear stupid Austin Powers-esque catchphrases for the next six months.

administrators pulls the plug on graduation speech

Last week during graduation ceremonies at Mainland Regional High School in Linwood, NJ, graduating senior Jennifer Chau decided she'd shake things up a bit and stray from the pre-approved text of her salutatorian speech, choosing to critique the administration of her soon-to-be alma mater. She didn't get very far: Mainland principal cuts off salutatorian's graduation speech.

Chau started, "I know this is a community that values education. That is why you need to know what is really going on behind the walls of Mainland's administrat--" Her microphone was cut and she was escorted from the field... to chants of "Let her speak," "Finish" and "Jen Chau" from both students and families.

Chau was trying to draw attention to problems within her school's administration and its policies, which she claims values "connections" over equal opportunity for all students:
There should be an equal opportunity for all students," Chau said later, "not just people who know insiders on the Board of Education."

That charge seemed to be a personal one for her. Chau claimed that there was "some controversy" over whether her not receiving honors credit for an honors course she took freshman year - told, she said, that to do so "wasn't fair to everyone else" - was one of the reasons she dropped to No. 2 in the class rankings behind valedictorian Rebecca Ann Ojserkis, whose mother Janice sits on the Board of Education.

"I don't know," she said. "(But) it's not really about No. 1 or No. 2. It's about what the administration is doing to our school. Or not doing. ... I just hope that that people really investigate and look into this school more closely."
Chau also said that her request to start an Asian club wasn't granted for years, while similar requests from students with said "connections" were immediately granted, including one from—suprise, suprise—a student who just happened to be Janice Ojserkis' nephew. Props to this girl for seizing the moment and having to guts to at least attempt to tell people what's up. People might think she's just a troublemaker. I say we need more girls like this.


old racist jell-o commercial

A blast from the racist past! This is apparently a Jell-O TV commercial from the 1960s, brought to us through the power of YouTube. Very interesting. Who comes up with this stuff? And why would it compel anyone to buy Jell-O? I'd like to think that something like this wouldn't make it on television today... but then again, there always seems to be somebody somewhere coming up with racist advertising. Stupid. That's racist! (Thanks, Shlok.)

don lee's wrack and ruin

Just learned about Wrack and Ruin, the most recent novel from Don Lee, author of Country of Origin and the short story collection Yellow. It sounds like a weird, funny satire populated with quirky characters and relationships... but does it have a story? The book concerns the eccentric sculptor-turned-brussels sprout farmer, Lyndon Song, and his estranged brother, Woody, an uptight Hollywood producer. Here's the official publisher's description:
Lyndon Song, a renowned sculptor, has fled New York City to become a Brussels sprouts farmer in the small California town of Rosarita Bay. Lyndon has a brother, Woody, an indicted financier turned movie producer, and Woody has a plan, involving a golf-course resort on Lyndon's land and an aging kung-fu diva from Hong Kong with a mean kick and a meaner drinking problem.

A dreadlocked buddy with an artificial leg, a small plot of exceptionally lush marijuana, two field biologists studying western snowy plovers, a disgraced museum curator, and Lyndon's great love, the impulsive mayor of Rosarita Bay—these are only some of the complications in Lyndon and Woody's lives over one madcap Labor Day weekend.

Hilarious and philosophical, this many-hued novel about the landscape of contemporary "multicultural" America is critically acclaimed Don Lee's best book yet.
The book is currently out from W. W. Norton. Here's the New York Times book review from today: When Brothers Collide. Looks like yet another item to add to my endlessly growing list of books to read...

still playing: yung chang's up the yangtze

Here's a good Washington Post story on director Yung Chang and his film Up the Yangtze, one of the best documentaries I've seen in the last year: Filmmaker Fathoms One of China's Liquid Assets. I've already expressed quite a bit how much I love this film.

Up the Yangtze, a film about "the convergence of globalization, modernization, Westernization and human cost" is currently on a city-by-city theatrical run across the United States, from distributor Zeitgeist Films... and according to the story, it's apparently doing quite well—a rarity for most documentaries. As good as the film is, this is kind of surprising. I would have guessed that most folks aren't interested in seeing a documentary about a Chinese river. But there you go. People are going, they're selling tickets, and the movie is actually making money.

Now it's your turn, wherever you are, to seek out and watch this movie. It will make you smarter, and it will break your heart. To learn more about Up the Yangtze, including the film's U.S. theatrical release schedule, visit the website here. You can also read my interview with director Yung Chang, posted earlier this month, here.


in theaters this weekend: get smart

Get Smart opens in theaters today. Starring Steve Carell, it's the feature film version of the classic spy comedy TV series. I saw the movie the other day, and it's okay. A little underwhelming, but not terrible.

Heroes' Masi Oka has a small role in the movie as Bruce, one of the techie guys at Control. From the Los Angeles Times, here are 10 things you may not know about 'Get Smart's' Masi Oka. He's essentially the same character he plays in Heroes, minus the teleportation and time travel, and he speaks perfect English. But I guess his character was compelling enough to produce a direct-to-video spinoff movie, Get Smart's Bruce Lloyd Out of Control, in stores on July 1.

Also in theaters today, The Love Guru. This movie looks awful. The end.

aaron yoo is lohan's fake baby daddy

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Aaron Yoo has signed on to play Lindsay Lohan's boyfriend in Labor Pains, which is currently in production: Aaron Yoo Gets to Date Lindsay Lohan.

Yes, you read that correctly. Lindsay's boyfriend. The movie follows a young woman who fakes a pregnancy to keep her nasty boss from firing her. So I guess Aaron is the fake dad. Is he in on the ruse? Or is the poor guy led to believe he knocked up Lindsay? I guess we'll find out.

Aaron is definitely a rising star, popping up over the last year or so with roles in high profile movies like Disturbia and 21, as well as indie films like Rocket Science and The Wackness. And now Labor Pains. Hopefully, Lohan will stay out of rehab long enough to finish the movie...

asian american civic project

I just heard about The Pipeline Project. It's an effort by Asian Pacific Americans for Progress to identify talented young Asian Americans, train them, and place them with progressive political campaigns—a pipeline into the political process. It's a great idea, and sounds like something a lot of young folks interested in politics will benefit from.

The project will provide paid fellowships for individuals to serve as full-time staffers on campaigns of candidates supportive of issues relevant to the Asian American community. The goal is to help lower the barriers for Asian Americans interested in becoming active in electoral politics.

For more information on the Asian American Civic Project, and how to apply, visit the recently-launched website here. They also could use some help with fundraising, so if you'd like to contribute, you can give by clicking here.

obama talks about basketball... and short asians

Oh, Barack. Why you wanna go and do that? Earlier this week Senator Barack Obama appeared via satellite on The Jimmy Kimmel Show and talked about, among other things, basketball. In high school, he played on Punahou's state championship team. When asked if he can dunk, the Senator noted, "You know, there's pretty good basketball in Hawaii, but the only thing is, since, obviously, there are a lot of folks from Asian ancestry in Hawaii, uh, generally, the teams aren't as tall." Aw, come on. He's says it on the video above at around the 3-minute mark.

Now, I'm not really offended by this, since he's not saying that Asians can't play ball, and let's face it, there are a lot of short Asians out there. But I am a bit disappointed that he'd make such a sweeping generalization. Surprisingly, Kimmel doesn't take the opportunity to run with it. This doesn't change my vote, but I didn't want to just give him a pass and ignore it. It deserves to be called out. Disappointing, Senator.

don't stop believing

Here's another story on Arnel Pineda, the new lead singer for Journey: Journey's Filipino Frontman Welcomed with Open Arms. His internet-powered rags-to-riches rock-and-roll story is now the stuff of legend—a 40-year-old cover band singer is plucked by the band from YouTube obscurity and thrust into stadium rock stardom. It's a Cinderella story that will make a believer out of anyone. Of course, there are some Journey fans out there who aren't cool with Arnel as the front man. These people obviously suck. From the article:
But not all of Journey's die-hard fans--and there are plenty--have embraced Pineda with open arms. When Siobhan Tobin started an Arnel Pineda fan site in December, the Florida-based web developer says angry Journey fans left death threats on her answering machine. The band's traditional fanbase is mostly white and American, and some are upset that Pineda is neither. "Journey is supposed to be an all-American band," one fan wrote in an online forum.
But there's still plenty of support. Heck, the guy is now practically a national hero in the Philippines. At Pineda's first U.S. performance with Journey in Las Vegas back in March, Filipino Americans apparently made up half the audience. I can't wait to see what happens when the Journey tour lands in the Philippines. Madness. Ultimately, I think Arnel's presence in the band will go a long way towards showing folks everywhere that Asians can indeed rock.

72 hour shootout kicks off tonight

UPDATE: The theme for the 5th Annual 72 Hour Film Shootout is A first goodbye. Have fun.


All right, filmmaker friends. The 5th Annual 72 Hour Film Shootout Launch Party is tonight, kicking off a crazy, caffeine-fueled weekend of makin' that movie by any means necessary. At 8:00pm, the long-awaited competition theme will be announced and posted simultaneously on 72hourfilmshootout.com.

The event is tonight at White Rabbit Lounge in New York. Doors open at 6. No cover, no guest list, no RSVP required. No one under 21 will be admitted.

If you're an actor, writer, director, or film fan looking to join a team, they'll be making team match-ups at the event. They'll also have last-minute team registration on site, so it's not too late to sign up. For more information about the 72 Hour Film Shootout, visit they're recently-renovated website here. It's time to get your film on.

grace park featured in complex

I was perusing the newsstand and couldn't help but notice Battlestar Galactica's Grace Park on the cover of Complex. Whoa. I bought a copy immediately. For the articles, I swear!

I did actually read their interview with Grace, as well as several other pieces, and came to the conclusion Complex is not a very well-written magazine. I did learn, however, now that Battlestar is wrapping up, Grace will be joining the cast of A&E's new drama The Cleaner as "Akani Cuesta." The show premieres on July 15.

america's best dance crew season 2: week one

Last night was the official premiere of the second season MTV's America's Best Dance Crew (there was an audition pre-show that kicked things off last week), with a whole new set of crews vying for the coveted title of America's best... well, you know. Some thoughts on the new season:

It ain't the same. With a few exceptions, nobody quite struck me the way JabbaWockeeZ and Kaba Modern did when I first saw them. It was clear from the beginning of last season that Jabba was a frontrunner, and no performance has blown me away the Kaba did with that first audition. This new crop of crews is great, no doubt, but none of them came with that same 'wow' factor.

There are a lot of Asians. I'm not just talking about one or two mostly-Asian crews—after last night, there's at least one Asian American member on all nine remaining crews. It's almost like it was a requirement, or maybe we're the lucky charm. Who the hell do I root for this time? Supreme Soul? Phresh Select? Boogie Bots? Super Cr3w? A.S.I.I.D.? Fanny Pak? Sass x7?

Maybe it's SoReal Cru, who I affectionately call "Kaba Houston." Hailing from Texas, you can't deny they have a similar style to Kaba Modern—that's a compliment—and they're the one all-Asian crew. From the moment I saw them on the audition show, they are definitely one of my favorites in the competition. Last night's performance was very cool, very smooth. Vote for them here.

The boy band-esque Xtreme Dance Force isn't very impressive. But damn, what's worse, they easily have the worst name out of any crew in the competition. Fresh out of Naperville, Illinois, their name makes them sound like a group that performs Saturdays in the juniors department at JC Penney. Shane Sparks kind of tore them apart last night... and they deserved it.

A.S.I.I.D. is being touted as the inspirational crew to watch, thanks to Joseph Antonio, the hearing impaired member on their roster. You've got to admit, his story is pretty inspirational. They're all right, but his presence in the group definitely makes them a lot more interesting.

After seeing Benson Lee's Planet B-Boy, I definitely have a huge appreciation for what Super Cr3w is doing. They're definitely bringing that unique B-boy showmanship to the competition. But did they really have to go with that whole ninja vibe? They could've done just as well without it.

Crew that needs to go sooner than later: Sass x7, because really, as much as they try deny it, they're just a bunch of cheerleaders. Dude, they looked like the Laker Girls last night. They're kind of like the anti-Fysh N Chicks (who I really liked last season)... and they're way out of their league here.

Crew that could surprise everybody: The 80s-inflected Fanny Pak, because nobody's doing what they're doing and they've got a style that's all their own. It's really fun, different, and so far, I'm digging it. I think they're just a bit misunderstood. They landed in the bottom two last night, but I hope people give them a chance.


cleaning out the box

Exhausted. I've been busy doing some traveling over the last day or two, so I haven't had much access to my computer. My mailbox blew up. Aside from a lot of emails from folks attempting to defend or justify John McCain's remarks with one reason or another, here are the two stories that I've received approximately 673 times in the last twenty-four hours:

In South Africa, Chinese is the New Black: On Wednesday, a high court in South Africa ruled that Chinese-South Africans will be reclassified as "black," a term that includes black Africans, Indians and others who were subject to discrimination under apartheid. As a result of this ruling, ethnically Chinese citizens will be able to benefit from government affirmative action policies aimed at undoing the effects of apartheid. More here: S Africa Chinese 'become black'.

Opening the box: Jeff Yang's latest "Asian Pop" column for SFGate is all about Asian America's favorite taboo topic, interracial romance and the "gender divide." You all know what he's talking about, and it ain't nothing new. I'm assuming the "box" refers to Pandora's, because that's usually what gets opened when this topic comes up. Just visit any Asian American issue-centric message board/ discussion forum, and you'll find a heated debate in some form or another. I think Jeff's column really only grazes the surface... but damn, just look at the number of comments it's generated.


gook: john mccain's racism and why it matters by irwin tang

Now that we're looking at the serious possibility that John McCain could be elected President, I think it's important that people are continually reminded of his past use of the racial slur "gook," as in "I hate the gooks. I will hate them as long as I live." He said this eight years ago on the campaign trail, referring to the the prison guards who tortured and held him captive during the Vietnam War: McCain Criticized for Slur.

The fact that someone running for public office—the President of the United States, no less—would unabashedly use this term, and then repeatedly refuse to apologize for it (he eventually did), is reasons enough for me to question his character. We as Asian Americans are no strangers to racial epithets being thrown our way, whether they're meant as "jokes" or meant to cause harm. Here, "gook" was clearly being used as expression of resentment. The fact that McCain was a P.O.W. does not excuse him from harboring these feelings. Why is this even under debate?

That said, I recently heard about a new book, Gook: John McCain's Racism and Why It Matters by Irwin Tang, described as "a political expose, a real-life mystery, and a manifesto on race and war, all in one volume." From the press release I received the other day:
The mystery is this: Is John McCain secretly a white supremacist? No American wants to believe it, but one cannot help asking this question after reading Gook.

The racial slur "gook" has a secret history of its own, evolving from war to war, from the U.S. conquest of the Philippines to its occupation of Haiti, to North African colonial conflicts, to the Korean War. The epithet reached a crescendo during the Vietnam War and then infiltrated the common American vocabulary.

Asian American author Irwin A. Tang writes of his own frightening run-ins with the KKK as a child, but he pulls no punches in chronicling the disturbing history of John McCain's relationships with white supremacists and racist, warmongering preachers.

"John McCain supported the rescinding of Martin Luther King Day while sending his own money to terrorists in Nicaragua," said Tang. "That sums up the entire notion of the word 'gook.' Some people, whether they are black Americans or Asian or Latino peasants, are simply subhuman to the most powerful, most cynical politicians."

Gook examines McCain's partnering with leading white supremacist Richard Quinn, as well as McCain's endorsement of hate group lecturer George Wallace, Jr. for lieutenant governor, both actions fitting with his support for the Confederate flag as an official state symbol.
I haven't read the book yet, but it's just too intriguing not to mention here. Obviously, we're not talking about one of those fair-and-balanced examinations of a politician and his policies. Irwin is out for blood, and basically just wants everyone to know how evil he thinks McCain is. Hell, I don't even know if the book is any good. But I am no friend of John McCain. The book will be officially released next month, July 4, and available for pre-order online from The it Works Publishing/Paul Revere Books.

7th new york asian film festival

Ohhh yeah, Asian film fans. Subway Cinema presents the 7th New York Asian Film Festival, happening June 20 through July 6 (and not to be confused with Asian CineVision's Asian Amerian International Film Festival).

The festival presents some of the coolest, most interesting films from all over Asia, including the latest works from Takashi Miike, Lee Myung-Se, and Johnnie To, as well as some suprise gems you've probably never heard of. Check it out, and discover something cool.

It all starts this Friday, June 20 with the Opening Film, Ryo Iwamatsu's Then Summer Came. For more information on the festival, go here.

bobby lee's pilot for comedy central

For better or for worse, it seems we'll be seeing more of Bobby Lee on TV. Comedy Central has ordered a pilot for a new series starring the MADtv's veteran: Comedy Central orders Bobby Lee pilot.

I know he's been talking about doing this for a while. Looks like it's finally going to happen. The half-hour narrative comedy, announced a few months ago as part of the network's development slate, will focus on Bobby's point of view on living in a multicultural world. In the pilot episode, he attempts to bridge the racial divide between blacks and Koreans.

Good Lord, this sounds like it has serious potential to either be really awful or really awesome. Either way, I can't wait to see it.


helen zia got married

Today, hundreds of gay and lesbian couples across California got married. Legally. It's a historic day, giving a human face to last month's landmark California Supreme Court decision striking down two state laws prohibiting same-sex unions: Hundreds of Gay Couples Wed in California. So check out one of the photos accompanying this New York Times article. That's none other than activist Helen Zia with partner Lia Shigemura, who got married today at City Hall in San Francisco.

Next up, Sulu. George Takei was the first guy in line to pay $70 for a marriage license in West Hollywood this morning: 'Star Trek's' George Takei gets marriage license. He plans to marry longtime partner Brad Altman on September 14th in Los Angeles. Addressing the crowd outside the West Hollywood city auditorium, he said, "May equality live long and prosper."

entertainment weekly: why is tv so white?

This is a really interesting special report in Entertainment Weekly on the lack of diversity on network television's upcoming fall lineup of new shows: Diversity in Entertainment: Why Is TV So White? Wow. They're right. TV is really white!

As the title implies, it's pretty much the same old story. I found it particularly sad to learn that among the big five TV networks, there's only one minority character anchoring a new series for the 2008-09 season. His name is Cleveland Brown, from Fox's The Cleveland Show. And he's a cartoon.

According to EW's study of scripted-programming casts for the upcoming fall 2008 season, each of the five major broadcast networks is whiter than the Caucasian percentage (66.2 percent) of the United States population, as per the 2007 census estimate. Is anyone really surprised by this statistic?

I like the fact that a mainstream entertainment-focused publication is covering this issue. What's disappointing is that while it points out the huge disparities in Black and Latino representation on TV compared to Caucasians, there is barely a mention of Asians. (Hey, just like television.) Throw us a bone here.

No doubt, it's getting better—the article cites diverse casts in shows like Lost, Heroes and Grey's Anatomy—but how many Asians can you count on network television who can be considered the "star" of a series? Not even a cartoon character. That's racist!

korean church vandalized with hate graffiti

This past Sunday morning, the members of Evergreen Presbyterian, a Korean church in Suwanee, Georgia, discovered their facilities had been vandalized overnight with racial slurs and hate symbols: Racial epithets, Nazi signs painted at Korean church. That's racist!

Vandals spray-painted the church van, pavement, the dumpster and basketball goal with racial epithets and hate symbols sometime between 11:30pm Saturday night and when people first arrived for service on Sunday morning. The graffiti included upside down crosses, swastikas and the words "Jesus is DEAD" and "CHINK Mobile." More here: Korean church in Suwanee vandalized.

There aren't any suspects at this time, but the cost of repainting the van makes the vandalism a felony. The police believe that this was probably nothing more than some punk kids with nothing better to do on a Saturday night. That's actually more disturbing to me than an all-out hate strike.

Imagine if loser kids did something like this every time they were bored. Hey, it's happened before. Clearly, there are better ways to spend a Saturday night than spray-painting hate messages on a church van. I think it's irresponsible to just dismiss a crime like this simply as "anti-social." It's a hate crime. This is hate, and it comes from somewhere.

east west players' "pacific century" playwriting competition

To all you writers out there... East West Players, the nation's oldest and most established Asian American theater company, is hosting Pacific Century, a national playwriting competition. It's open to anyone with new full-length plays or musicals that deal with Asian Pacific American themes or characters. (If there are international story threads, they should be tied back to Asian American in some way.)

Cash prizes will be awarded to the top three plays, including a $5000 first place award. Who couldn't use five grand in their pocket? All winners will also be considered for possible production.

The submission deadline is June 30, so if you have an appropriate play, go for it. Or hey, maybe you've got the skillz to bang out an awesome full-length play in two weeks. Whatever the case, it's a cool opportunity to get your literary voice out there. To download the competition enrollment form, and the full contest guidelines, go here.

three delivery premieres on nicktoons next week

I mentioned Three Delivery last summer, after they first announced it at Comic-Con. It's a new half-hour action-comedy animated series for children, about a group of teenage delivery kids/superheroes(!) set in Chinatown. The series is scheduled to premiere next week, June 27 on the Nicktoons Network. As it's likely that many impressionable youngsters will be watching this show, I pray that it doesn't suck.

I will reserve judgement until I've actually seen the show, but like I said last year when I first heard about it, having more Asians on TV, animation or otherwise, is great... but why does it always have to be Asians who are also secretly trained in the mystical, magical martial arts? Not only do these kids know kung fu, they deliver Chinese food! I'm just saying. At least the characters actually look cool. Check out the Three Delivery website here. There are also video clips on the Nicktoons site.

yao ming still not cleared to play

That sound you hear is the collective disappointed sigh of a billion people. Looks like there's the possibility that Yao Ming might not be able to play in this summer's Olympics. According to his agent, the prognosis for his left foot is apparently "very good," but it remains uncertain whether he'll be cleared to play in time for a pre-Olympics tournament: Yao not yet cleared to play despite 'very good' checkup on left foot.

Yao averaged 22 points and nearly 11 rebounds for the Houston Rockets this season. But a stress fracture in his left foot sidelined him on February 27, and he hasn't played since. He's scheduled to meet with team doctors at the end of the month, he'll see if the Rockets clear him to practice. If he's cleared, he's going to China... where people wait in anticipation.

Meanwhile, in other injured athlete news... Yankee pitcher Chien-Ming Wang has two separate injuries in his right foot and could miss as much as two to three months of the season: Chien-Ming Wang doesn't need surgery, but could miss 2-to-3 months.

Wang was hurt running the bases Sunday in Houston when he scored from second on a hit by Derek Jeter. He rounded third base and hurt his foot in the grass near the bag. He limped to the plate and immediately doubled over in pain. Bummer. As the Yankees' ace, his absence is going to leave a big hole in the team's rotation.


real fight is back

A few years back, the Thai action flick Ong Bak introduced audiences to a new kind of badass: Tony Jaa. There was no question that this guy was a serious talent, and ready to accept the title of Top Movie Asskicker from some of the more aging martial arts stars. Using no wires, no CGI, and possessing some serious guts, Jaa had a raw physicality that reminded a lot of folks of Jackie Chan's younger more dangerous days.

Thus, I was extremely excited to check out this kickass promo reel of Ong Bak 2 over at Twitch. Holy smokes. The clip is pretty much three-plus nonstop minutes of dirty, bone-breaking action. Awesome. The movie is Jaa's third leading role and his directorial debut, and appears to have nothing to do with the original Ong Bak. I can live with that. Just give me that action. I don't know when we'll get to see it here stateside. For now, enjoy watching the clip: Tony Jaa Brings The Pain!

sikh american sues disney for discrimination

The Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund has filed a class action religious discrimination lawsuit against Walt Disney World Company on behalf of Mr. Sukhbir Channa and the Sikh American community, for refusing to hire him on the basis of his Sikh turban.

Channa, a practicing Sikh Amerian, applied for a job with Disney in September 2006 but was told that he couldn't be hired unless he removed his religiously-mandated turban. He was also told that he didn't have "the Disney look," whatever the hell that means: Disney in soup over no-turban mandate.

Witnesses have filed affidavits in Channa's support. The lawsuit seeks financial damages and a court order barring Disney from ever discriminating against prospective Sikh employees. Review a copy of the complaint here (PDF). And check out SALDEF's statement on the case here: Walt Disney Sued for Alleged Religious Discrimination.

tiger woods wins u.s. open

Playing with a bum knee, the nearly unbeatable Tiger Woods claimed the 2008 U.S. Open title today in 19-hole playoff over Rocco Mediate at Torrey Pines: Tiger puts away Mediate on 91st hole to win U.S. Open.

It was his first tournament since finishing second at The Masters on April 13, having undergone surgery on his left knee two days later. And it definitely looked like he was still dealing with the some pain. Still, he pulled off the win in sudden death. More here: Woods wins U.S. Open in sudden death.

The victory was Tiger's 14th career major, leaving him just four short of Jack Nicklaus' record. No doubt, it was a hell of a match, with some calling it his greatest victory ever.

2008 asian american international film festival lineup

All right, mark your calendars. Coming next month to New York... the Asian American International Film Festival recently announced its official lineup of programming and events for 2008. And it's gonna be good.

The festival will open on Thursday, July 10 with the East Coast debut of Wayne Wang's The Princess of Nebraska. The Centerpiece Presentation will be on Thursday, July 17 with the U.S. premiere of Ed Radtke's The Speed of Life. And festival closes things out on Saturday, July 19 with the Jessica Yu's Ping Pong Playa.

AAIFF's 2008 lineup will also include nine additional narrative feature films, including Always Be Boyz, The Drummer, Flower in the Pocket, Gone Shopping, Half-Life, Kissing Cousins, Option 3, Pretty to Think So and Slingshot; and nine documentary feature films, like Against the Grain: An Artist's Survival Guide to Peru, The Killing of a Chinese Cookie, Long Story Short, and Wings of Defeat.

Awards will be presented at the Closing Night Ceremony on July 19 in seven categories: juried awards for Emerging Director (Narrative and Documentary); Audience Awards (Narrative and Documentary); juried award for Excellence in Short Filmmaking; One to Watch Award, open to youth-made films in the For Youth By Youth program; and juried Screenplay Competition.

The full festival website isn't up and running yet, but check out the press release on AAIFF's lineup of programming and events here. The Asian American International Film Festival, which runs July 10-19, is a presentation of Asian CineVision.

the onion: u.s. closes final internment camp

Only The Onion could make a story about the Japanese American internment funny: U.S. Closes Final WWII Internment Camp. "Slipped through the cracks." Hilarious.

former honolulu advertiser employee claims discrimination

Throwdown in the newsroom... A former employee of the Honolulu Advertiser has sued the newspaper, claiming racial discrimination by a top newspaper editor for more than a year before quitting: Bias suit names an Advertiser editor.

Former deputy editorial page editor Pati Poblete, who is of Filipino ancestry, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court last week against Gannett Publishing LLC, alleging that Advertiser Editorial and Opinion Page Editor Jeanne Mariani-Belding discriminated against her soon after she was hired as deputy editorial page editor from September 2006, until she resigned in November 2007.

It's important to note that Mariani-Belding is also Asian American, and is actually national president of the Asian American Journalists Association, whose mission includes promoting fair and accurate coverage of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Acccording to Poblete's lawsuit, Mariani-Belding's actions did not quite live up to the standards you'd expect from an AAJA president:
In the suit, Poblete said she left the San Francisco Chronicle to join the Advertiser and was immediately forced by Mariani-Belding to keep progress logs on a co-worker of Filipino ancestry, Emil Guillermo, in an apparent effort to force him out.

Guillermo, who, according to the suit, was regularly humiliated by Mariani-Belding in editorial board meetings, accepted a buyout in April 2007. Guillermo said yesterday he wanted to review the allegations before deciding whether to comment on the matter.

Mariani-Belding's racial attacks turned to Poblete after she protested how her boss had treated Guillermo, according to the suit.

Mariani-Belding allegedly aked Poblete, "Are you just trying to protect him because he's Filipino?"

The suit says that in another instance, Mariani-Belding, while looking at a photograph of roasted dogs in a Vietnamese market, told Poblete and her Filipino fiance, "Oh, you guys would know about eating dogs."

In staff discussions, she also allegedly asserted that Honolulu Councilman Nestor Garcia has "a brain the size of a pea" and that state Rep. Rida Cabanilla-Arakawa, also of Filipino ancestry, is "dumber than a doorknob."
That's racist! Talk about a hostile work environment. More than anything, news like this, about fighting and potential discrimination between Asian American professionals, just makes me sad. Okay, I don't know what really happened here, but considering the players, you know something has gone terribly wrong when it comes down to a lawsuit like this. More here: Former employee sues Advertiser.

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