wishing you an angry (but mostly merry) christmas

Merry Christmas, everyone. Here are a couple of cool holiday-themed videos to celebrate the day, from some of my favorite musicians:

"The Christmas Song" by Paul Dateh and Ken Belcher

"I Know Who Took the Milk and Cookies" by Kina Grannis

"Fix Or Providence" by Big Phony

All right, with that, I hope everyone's holidays are brilliant and beautiful. I'm going to enjoy a much-needed break from the blog (except maybe one more year-end "angriest posts" wrap-up next week) for the rest of the year. Be safe, be awesome, and stay angry.


angry reader of the week: chris tashima

It's about time for Angry Reader of the Week, spotlighting you, the very special readers of this website. Over the years, I've been able to connect with a lot of cool folks, and this is a way of showing some appreciation and attention to the people who help make this blog what it is. Our final Angry Reader of 2009 is Academy Award-winning writer/director/actor Chris Tashima.

roger ebert gives the last airbender a thumbs down

In his latest "Movie Answer Man," venerable movie critic Roger Ebert briefly speaks out about the racist casting behind the upcoming The Last Airbender movie, which we have talked about quite a bit around here. Here's the question and answer:
Q. Regarding the upcoming M. Night Shyamalan vehicle "The Last Airbender," what do you think about the whitewashing of the production so that all of the original Asian cultural landmarks, architecture, philosophy, and costume design are being retained while they cast white kids to play the main characters?
Arlene C. Harris

A. Wrong. The original series "Avatar: The Last Airbender" was highly regarded and popular for three seasons on Nickelodeon. Its fans take it for granted that its heroes are Asian. Why would Paramount and Shyamalan go out of their way to offend these fans? There are many young Asian actors capable of playing the parts.
Yup, he gives it a resounding "wrong," as any normal, clear-thinking human being would agree. Big props to Ebert for shining a little bit of light on this issue, even just briefly at the bottom of his column.

caam presents "on the clock" episode 1

Check out the premiere episode of On the Clock, a new web series from our friends at the Center for Asian American Media -- shot on location at the CAAM offices, and starring CAAM staff. In this episode, "Duke Gets a Job (sort of)."

It's a little rough around the edges, and might only be funny to folks who are familiar with the CAAM crew... but as someone who used to intern and work for this organization, I thought it was pretty funny. To learn more about the Center for Asian American Media, go to the CAAM website here.

pastor charged in student visa conspiracy

Asian Behaving Badly... visa fraud edition! In Santa Ana, California, a pastor has been accused by immigration authorities of helping foreigners fraudulently obtain student visas and handing out phony diplomas at a fake graduation ceremony on a campus where they never attended class: Calif. pastor accused of student visa conspiracy.

65-year-old Samuel Chai Cho Oh surrendered to authorities this week and faces a charge of conspiracy to commit visa fraud for allegedly charging foreigners cash to help get them student visas on the premise they would attend the Christian university he owns in Fullerton.

But according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, more than a hundred students from countries including South Korea, Thailand and Japan never took classes at California Union University, which served as a shell for them to stay in the country legally.

Oh reportedly charged students between $600 and $10,000 over the last decade -- raking in between $40,000 and $50,000 a month -- to file paperwork on their behalf to certify they had been accepted to the university and would be attending class in order to obtain valid student visas.

Busted! Looks like he had found a way to circumvent the system, and had a pretty good (and really profitable) scheme going. Meanwhile, no criminal charges have been filed against the students. Those who are not eligible to stay in the country legally will face deportation proceedings.

lillian bui sings the blues

Recently got turned on to the YouTube videos of musician Lillian Bui. She's got this great, jazzy-style voice from another era. In the spirit of the season, here Lillian doing a little holiday ditty, a cover of Zee Avi's "No Christmas for Me This Year." Enjoy. And check out the rest of Lillian's videos here.

pacquiao/mayweather fight looking unlikely

There's a good chance that the much-anticipated fight between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. might not be happening. According to promoter Bob Arum, it won't go down unless Mayweather's camp drops its insistence for Olympic-style blood testing: Promoter says Pacquiao-Mayweather likely off.

The match up -- planned for March 13 -- would've been the richest fight ever. But Mayweather's camp is demanding the fighters submit to Olympic-type drug testing in the weeks leading up to the bout. If Pacquiao doesn't agree to blood testing under standards followed by the United States Anti-Doping Agency, the fight is off.

Arum is accusing Mayweather's camp of raising the issue not because they were worried about Pacquiao taking performance-enhancing substances, but because Mayweather never wanted to fight in the first place. He also accused Mayweather of trying to play mind games with Pacquiao.

According to Arum, Pacquiao would agree to testing by the same agencies that test pro football and baseball players, but not for random tests by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. More here: Blood remains issue for Pacquiao-Mayweather.

With the two camps at an impasse, and time running out, it looks likely that this megafight is not going to happen, at least for the time being. Then again, maybe not: Still hope for Mayweather-Pacquiao megafight.

butt of the joke... again

This lovely toy, a "Butthead," was recently spotted being sold at Spencer's Gifts. If you can't tell, it's a butt. Shaped and dressed up like a stereotypical buck-toothed Chinese coolie. And as if that wasn't enough, there's an audio component! When you press the "head," it apparently says stupid things in a terrible accent about passing gas. That's racist!

Look, there's even a brown butt wearing a turban... and, oh hell, is that a bindi? It's astounding how ridiculously offensive they are -- a million dollar idea, no doubt. Someone out there is actually manufacturing, selling and making money off these damn things. And that makes me sad for humanity.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised they're being sold at Spencer's -- that store's whole inventory is full of godawful garbage like this. (Thanks, Jason.)

denver police issues emergency cell phones to refugees

Some disturbing news out of Denver, where the South Asian community is concerned about recent a series of attacks targeting recent immigrants from Bhutan, Burma and elsewhere.

The problem has gotten so bad, police have given out 911-enabled cell phones to the community: Denver cops give 911-only cellphones to refugees worried about recent attacks.

Earlier this month, a group of men beat and robbed teenage refugees from Bhutan in east Denver, after following them from a bus. Six were beaten, with one sustaining injuries requiring emergency room treatment. This apparently isn't the first the community has faced assaults and robberies this year.

The U.S. government granted the refugees special permission to enter the country as protection from persecution in Asia. So they come to Denver... for this? To get robbed and beaten? I'm sure this isn't what they were expecting.

But now they have cell phones. The hope is that the police-issued emergency-only phones, which require no payments, will help refugees reach paramedics and police to prevent future trouble. A dozen refugee victims of recent attacks now carry the phones.

Police are talking with a potential corporate partner to supply 50 phones, and ultimately, they aim to give phones to all refugees, along with orientation information and safety tips. That's great, I guess. Every little bit helps. But how about catching the guys who are doing the robbing and beating?


glee's jenna ushkowitz + sanrio on today

Hey, check out Jenna Ushkowitz from Glee appearing on the Today Show. She was there to announce that the company -- celebrating Hello Kitty's 35th anniversary -- is donating $100,000 worth of gifts to Today's holiday toy drive.

Good for her, I guess. I'm not really sure what her connection to Sanrio is (maybe because she, too, is Asian, cute and successful), but hey, at least she also got to briefly plug Glee's DVD release next week.

in south korea, it's all about the tall

Another one of these articles on the great lengths Asian people will go to in order to enhance their appearance. This time, it's South Korea, where people are apparently really, really obsessed with being and becoming taller: South Korea Stretches Standards for Success.

It's not just about looking more attractive. Swayed by the increasingly popular conviction that height is crucial to success, parents are trying all manner of remedies to increase their children's stature, from hormone shots to traditional Eastern treatments and special exercises.

And like all beauty crazes -- fueled in part to the proliferation of Western models of beauty and success -- the whole thing has become a booming industry, with parents shelling out thousands of dollars to "growth clinics" for a chance at changing their kids' height... and their fate.
Ms. Seo spends $770 a month on treatments for her daughter and her 4-year-old son at one such clinic, Hamsoa, which has 50 branches across the country and offers a mix of acupuncture, aromatherapy and a twice-a-day tonic that contains deer antler, ginseng and other medicinal herbs.

"Parents would rather add 10 centimeters to their children’s stature than bequeath them one billion won," said Dr. Shin Dong-gil, a Hamsoa doctor, invoking a figure in Korean currency equal to about $850,000. "If you think of a child as a tree, what we try to do here is to provide it with the right soil, the right wind, the right sunshine to help it grow. We help kids regain their appetite, sleep well and stay fit so they can grow better."


At his clinic, Kim Se-hyun, a fifth grader, walked on a treadmill with her torso encased in a harness suspended from an overhead steel bar. The contraption, the clinic maintains, will stretch her spine and let her exercise with less pressure on her legs.

Nearby, sweat rolled off Lee Dong-hyun, 13, as he pedaled a recumbent bicycle while reading a comic book. Behind him, his sister, Chae-won, the shortest girl in her first-grade class, stretched to touch her toes on a blue yoga mat, squealing as an instructor pushed down against her back.
These sound like weird, elaborate torture rituals. Seem like a lot of time, effort and money to force change something that shouldn't necessarily be changed. The worst part is, there's no clinical proof or other evidence that these treatments really work.

I get the fact that a lot Korean families only have one child, and there's an impulse to do everything possible to ensure that kid has a shot at success in this world. But damn, when you step back and look at this situation, doesn't all this pushing and stretching just seem really foolish?

alexa chung is vogue.com's most stylish woman

Vogue.com recently announced its most stylish women of the year, and in 2009, British TV personality/model Alexa Chung came out on top of the list: Move over Kate Moss, Alexa Chung is Vogue's new style queen.

The 26-year-old was named most stylish for her "Brit-girl-abroad quirky sense of style." She has pioneered a demure "old lady" look, accessorised with mannish shoes and endless legs. I don't know what the "old lady" look is, but she seems to rock it enough to get the honor.

Wait a minute. Who the hell is Alexa Chung, you ask? Which probably means you are way out of her demographic. I am too. Earlier this year, she got her own MTV show in the United States, aimed at revitalizing the network and make it "relevant" again.

Alas, MTV pulled the plug and canceled It's On with Alexa Chung a couple of weeks ago: MTV cancels Alexa Chung's show. I guess a daytime talk show needs more than just a pretty face with a Twitter account. At least she's still the most stylish woman of the year. More here: Stick-thin Alexa Chung tops Vogue's list of the world's most stylish women.

ken jeong in furry vengeance trailer

Hey, here's funnyman Ken Jeong all up in the trailer for Furry Vengeance, which, as far as I can tell, kind of looks like the worst movie ever made. Just terrible.

The movie's a family comedy about an ambitious developer who faces off against a band of angry animals when his new housing subdivision pushes too far into their part of the wilderness. Hilarity ensues when nature proceeds to attack humanity.

I like movies about stinky skunks and rapid-fire crapping birds as much as the next guy... but damn, this movie smells like all kinds of awful. Dr. Ken, you are a funny guy, and your career is red-hot fire right now... but what the heck are you doing in this movie?

hewlett packard computers are racist

This isn't necessarily Asian-related, but I it found amusing (and kind of sad). Here's a video by two co-workers explaining how the face-tracking video feature on their "state-of-the-art" Hewlett Packard computer's web cam does not recognize black faces.

It's hilarious. It's also sad, because it appears to be true. As he hypothesizes, then clearly demonstrates, his blackness is interfering with the computer's ability to follow him. But when his white co-worker slides into frame, you immediately see how the camera is supposed to work. For white people.

It reminds of Joz's camera, which has a handy feature that supposedly detects when human subjects "blink." Except that Joz wasn't blinking -- she's just Asian, and her eyes happen to be small. Oh, technology. Like human beings, you still have a lot to learn about race.

cop charged in fatal dui crash

In Cook County, Illinos, an off-duty Lockport police officer is accused of driving under the influence of alcohol -- nearly three times over the legal limit -- when he caused the fatal accident that killed 29-year-old Man K. Wong on the Stevenson Expressway: Cop accused of fatal DUI was 3 times legal limit.

Prosecutors say Edward Stapinski drove his Mitsubishi Gallant about 80 mph into a median on Interstate Highway 55 Sunday night, flipping his car into oncoming traffic and hitting a Toyota Camry head-on. Man K. "Mike" Wong was killed in the crash. Blood tests showed Stapinski's blood-alcohol level was 0.223, or about three times the legal limit.

Stapinski is charged with reckless homicide and aggravated driving under the influence. If convicted, he could face 3 to 14 years in prison.

The officer's knee was hurt in the crash, and his face was cut up. All things considered, he was lucky to walk away from that wreck alive. The other guy wasn't so lucky. He was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital where he was pronounced dead. And all he was doing was driving down the expressway, coming home from work on a Sunday night.

The guy's been a cop for seven and a half years -- he, of all people, should know better. Now Wong's family is worried that the court will be lenient on Stapinski because he's a police officer. They obviously want justice. Shouldn't the fact that he's a cop be all the more reason to make sure he pays for what he's done? More here: Off-duty Lockport cop charged with reckless homicide, DUI.

kid's got the moves!

Got a big kick out of this. I don't know where this video comes from, or who this kid is, but the little guy's seriously working it. Where'd you get those moves? Enjoy. (Thanks, Winston.)

UC Hastings names Frank H. Wu as Chancellor and Dean

Big news... Yesterday, the Board of Directors of UC Hastings College of Law in San Francisco announced that after a nationwide search, it has selected Frank H. Wu as the school's new Chancellor and Dean: Hastings picks civil rights scholar as new dean.

Wu is Professor of Law at Howard University and the former dean at Wayne State University Law School, where he was the nation's youngest law school Dean. He will step up as dean of UC Hastings next July. Here's the press release from the school:


music video: "never fall 2010" by iz

Here's the music video for "Never Fall 2010" by IZ, keeping it real with Los Angeles. Produced by LK and track by Soulspeak, with cameos by a couple of familiar faces, including Far East Movement and Ben Baller. Slick video, cool song. For more information about IZ and his music, check out the official homepage here.

hey dude, what's in these fortune cookies?

This week in Oakland's Chinatown, a fire at a former fortune cookie factory led authorities to the discovery of at least 1,000 marijuana plants worth about $500,000: Oakland police find at least 1,000 pot plants at former fortune cookie factory.

According to police, the small fire was sparked by an electrical malfunction. There's no sign that the 7,000-square-foot building is a working fortune cookie factory, bakery or retail outlet anymore. It seems, however, that the facilities were recently being used as a very different kind of business. And someone just lost their stash.

None of the marijana plants were burned in the fire. According to police, they ranged from seedlings to four feet tall, and were being grown in a space of about 1,750 square feet. The building was apparently well-stocked with growing tubs, chemicals, lights and other accessories used for growing pot plants.

Whoever was growing the plants was pirating electricity to power the lights, ventilation and irrigation systems, tapping into an old line in front of the building. Alas, the faulty wiring was probably what eventually foiled their operation -- a pot farm... in a fortune cookie factory! Next time, don't skimp on the juice.

new karate kid remake trailer

Oh boy. Yahoo! Movies just launched the trailer for the new remake of The Karate Kid, starring Jaden Smith (Will Smith's son) and Jackie Chan (as the Mr. Miyagi character). I kind of don't know what to say. There are many, many things wrong with this trailer... it just looks kind of disastrous.

Young Jaden stars as a Dre, who moves to Beijing to Detroit with his mother, falls for the wrong girl, becomes an enemy of the class bully, gets his ass kicked, befriends the local handyman/kung fu master, learns some martial arts, defeats the bullies, and lives happily ever after. You get the idea.

Moving the action from Southern California to China completely changes what's happening here. The trailer is overflowing with stereotypes -- yes, another narrative about a Westerner in the strange, exotic Orient -- not to mention capitalizing on America's current anxieties over a rapidly growing China.

Yay! Daddy just bought me a franchise! One of the many privileges when your dad is the biggest movie star in the world. Thanks, Fresh Prince.

It's an awkward mess. The only thing I'm looking forward to is watching Jackie Chan ("Mr. Han") training the hell out the kid, with sticks and large buckets of water. Then again... something about that "jacket" scene -- the new "wax on, wax off" -- is very wrong. (Say "Jacket off!" ten times fast.) New catchphrase?

hsab's 2nd annual pursuit of higher education

This is for Hmong American high school students... Hmong Student Association at Berkeley will be hosting their 2nd Annual Pursuit of Higher Education event on April 10-11, 2010 at the University of California, Berkeley. This two-day, one-night outreach event will target Hmong high school students residing in the Sacramento, Marysville, and Stockton area.

HSAB's goal is to educate and promote awareness about higher education in the Bay Area. The event will include various workshops, a campus tour, and fun activities for high school participants. Students will be given a great opportunity to interact with different high schools, and learn issues affecting Hmong in higher education.

HSAB will only be accepting applications from high school students (grades 9-12). There's a limited number of space, and not all applicants are guaranteed a placement. For high school students who are interested in taking part, you can get an application form by emailing hsaberkeley@gmail.com

The deadline to submit an application is February 28, 2010. All chosen applicants will be notified approximately two weeks after the submission deadline. For further information, contact the Hmong Student Association at Berkeley at hsaberkeley@gmail.com.

the real shaolin on dvd

Out on DVD this week... Alexander Sebastien Lee's award-winning documentary The Real Shaolin. This is not your typical martial arts documentary focusing on performance or history, but follows the personal journeys of four individuals pursuing their dreams.

Inspired by martial arts movies, two Chinese and two Westerners journey to the legendary Shaolin Temple in China to endure a year of rigorous martial arts training in the hopes of becoming kung fu warriors. But this ain't the movies, and they find that reality may be a harsh wake-up call.

What, you think you can just walk up to the door of the Shaolin Temple and become Gordon Liu? It's gonna hurt, son. To learn more about the film, and to watch the trailer, go to The Real Shaolin website here. And purchase a copy of the DVD here.

yes, virginia, there is a santa claus. he's chinese.

Did you know that there's a World's Best Santa competition? And as it turns out, the best Santa ain't a fat white man. 44-year-old Hong Kong native Jimmy Chan recently beat rival Santas around the globe to win the title of World's Best Santa in the annual competition in northern Sweden: World's Best Santa weaves Hong Kong magic.

Ironically, Santa Chan had apparently never even seen snow until last month. The event took place in sub-zero temperatures in the Swedish town of Gaellivare and included contests such as chimney-climbing, present-wrapping, porridge-eating, kick-sledding and reindeer-racing.

Chan, a slim guy who fills out his costume with large chunks of sponge, apparently impressed the judges with his magic tricks, acrobatics, and snowball-juggling along with his more traditional Santa skills. This is no ordinary Santa Claus. More here: The world's best Santa is a Hong Kong man.

the ugliest flip flops ever

Not much to say here, except that these Ed Hardy flip flips, spotted at the store last month, can only be described as butt-ass ugly. (Thanks, Corinne.)

the last airbender: asian american groups meet with paramount

An update on the The Last Airbender situation (not to be confused with the Avatar movie currently in the theaters)... As you know fans of the Nickelodeon animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender are upset over live action movie adaptation, where the cartoon's mostly ethnically Asian characters were cast with white actors.

Racebending.com, which has been one of the leading online voices protesting The Last Airbender, just posted an account of the Asian American coalition meeting with Paramount Pictures last month: APA Coalition Meets with Paramount.

The meeting, which came out of a previous protest over The Goods, included leaders from groups like the Japanese American Citizens League and the Media Action Network for Asian Americans, and Adam Goodman, President of Paramount Film Group:
Public Concerns over the casting of The Last Airbender

In an April 2009 letter from MANAA in response to the producers of The Last Airbender, MANAA raised several questions regarding the studios' decision to cast white actors to depict Asian characters, the discriminatory language used in the casting calls, and the culturally ignorant language used by members of the production, including the casting director and one of the film's stars.

MANAA was also concerned about the implications of featuring a villainous nation with dark-skinned, partly South Asian actors and a heroic nation led by white heroes who liberate the "Asian and African" nation, as well as the cultural appropriation of Pacific Rim cultures and the franchise's core Asian concepts, despite a glass ceiling blocking off Asian American actors from playing lead protagonists. Eight months later, these concerns remain unaddressed.

MANAA's Conversation with Paramount

Goodman told the coalition that if a sequel to The Last Airbender is made, "it will focus on the Asian nation." (Those who have followed the protest and the film know that the Asian fantasy world of the franchise has been modified so that only one nation, the Earth Kingdom, will be populated with actors of Asian descent. In the animated series, the vast Earth Kingdom was one of four nations in the setting, based on over thirty different Pacific Rim cultures and time periods.)

When MANAA raised concerns about the "Caucasian or any other ethnicity" casting call that Paramount released to cast the four lead characters of color from the Avatar: The Last Airbender franchise, Katie Martin Kelly told MANAA that Paramount has since taken steps to make future casting notices more "consistent." Paramount's new casting policies now have more oversight over the breakdown services that draft casting calls.

Goodman told the Asian American community representatives that "Diversity is paramount to Paramount." Per MANAA's suggestion, Paramount promised to furnish the Asian American community with statistics on the number of Asian American actors, writers, and directors with the studio.

Goodman shared that after taking over for Lesher, he cleaned house and there is currently no head of Casting at Paramount. A new head of Casting will be hired early 2010, and MANAA and Paramount planned a meeting with this casting head next year to discuss The Last Airbender and Paramount's casting policies as a whole.

According to Paramount, M. Night Shyamalan is aware of criticism over the casting. Paramount promised to let the Asian American advocates at the meeting see a screening of the film before it was released. Goodman told MANAA that in all his years in the business, he has never seen such outcry over the casting of a character.
"Diversity is paramount to Paramount." That's a good one. At this point, production on The Last Airbender is a speeding train heading for the station -- the damage has already been done, and no one is changing a damn thing.

This movie is happening, and next summer, audiences are going to see what a ridiculous world they've created, where Caucasian heroes run around and fight, while Asians hang around in the background selling vegetables and weaving baskets and stuff.

If this makes you angry, and you'd like to join in the effort to raise awareness about The Last Airbender (and other projects like it), find out how you can help Racebending.com as a volunteer here.


"and he's asian so you can't even see his freakin' pupils"

Jang recently sent me this link to his blog, where he describes a run-in he had with the police last May, during which he claims he was racially profiled. The entire traffic stop was captured on the police cruiser's dash cam.

The cops thought he might have been driving under the influence, though it's pretty clear he wasn't, since he passes each of the officer's inane sobriety tests with relative ease. (Were those even real tests? It looks like he's making them up as he goes along.)

The real questionably racist moment occurs when Officer Hoppie goes back to his car to check Jang's driver's license, and makes a comment about Jang's eyes (at around the 6:00 minute mark): "And he's Asian so you can't even see his freakin' pupils."

Now, I don't think Jang got pulled over because he's Asian -- his car did drift over the right side a couple of times, though certainly not "weaving all over the place" as the officer claims. But I think he's out of line making that comment. Read all about it here.

seeking tattooed asian american women for thesis project

Received an email from Dor Zhang, a senior at Pitzer College who's putting the call out for some help. For her Gender/Feminist Studies senior project, she wants to interview and photograph self-identified tattooed Asian American women. Her goal is to create a tattoo magazine -- think Tattoos For Women -- with an Asian American focus.

As Dor puts it, "I don't see a lot of Asian American women being represented in the media, let alone in tattoo magazines and in the tattoo community. In addition, I think it would be so interesting to see how gender and race (amongst other factors) intersect to shape the artistic and expressive choices of Asian American women."

So... she's looking for some participants. Are you a tattooed Asian American woman? Dor wants to hear your story. If you're willing help her out, you can get in touch with Dor at doris.zhang.2010@gmail.com or dzhang@pitzer.edu. Your help is appreciated.

up + gran torino trailer mashup

I found this trailer mashup mildly amusing. It cuts together visuals from Up with audio from the Gran Torino trailer. Funny, because both movies essentially involve cranky, curmudgeon-y old guys taking wayward Asian kids under their wing. I wonder who'd win in a fight -- Carl Frederickson or Walt Kowalski?

man pleads guilty to killing virginia tech student

Remember Haiyang Zhu? On Monday, he pleaded guilty to killing a Virginia Tech graduate student at a restaurant last January, attacking her with a knife and decapitating her: Man pleads guilty to killing Virginia Tech student.

Zhu pleaded guilty to first degree murder in connection with the death of 22-year-old Xin Yang, a graduate student from Beijing. She had only begun her studies at Virginia Tech two weeks before she was killed in the University's Graduate Life Center.

At the time, according to school officials, the two were believed to have known each other, based on emergency contact records maintained by the university, but witnesses saw no sign of an argument before Xin was attacked.

According to prosecutors, Zhu had written a love letter to Xin, but she told him she was engaged to another man. He apparently purchased the knife used to kill Xin the morning of her death and attempted to call her 12 times. Yes, all the psycho signs were there. Dammit.

The whole thing was just gruesome. Like I said when this news broke last January... just when you thought people were kind of letting go of the notion that Asian men are violent crazies, this happened. At Virginia Tech, of all places.

Zhu will be sentenced on April 19. His murder plea doesn't qualify for the death penalty under Virginia law, but the prosecutor said he would seek the maximum penalty. More here: Ex-Va. Tech student pleads guilty in decapitation.

afterschoolspecial covers "speechless"

Enjoy this cool cover of Lady Gaga's "Speechless," courtesy of San Diego-based alternative hip hop band afterschoolspecial. That's our friend Dan aka Dan doing his emcee thing in the middle. To hear more from afterschoolspecial, check out the band's website here.

surprise, surprise: tv may perpetuate race bias

News flash. A new study reveals that the seemingly passive activity of watching television may lead to actively damaging effects, particularly when it comes to issues of race -- and we might not even realize it: Study: TV May Perpetuate Race Bias.
Led by Max Weisbuch, a postdoctoral student in the lab of Tufts psychology professor Nalini Ambady, researchers designed the multipart study to examine the communication of race bias on television to white college-age volunteers. Weisbuch and his team were intrigued by the fact that despite a significant reduction in overt expressions of racism in modern American society - the country has, after all, just elected its first black president - studies consistently find that many people still show biased or negative attitudes toward African-Americans, primarily through nonverbal means such as facial expressions, crossed arms and averted gazes. The psychologists wondered how such biases could persist in a society in which racism is socially unacceptable and indeed publicly denounced.

So the group decided to examine the medium of television, which connects the vast majority of Americans, and through which many people predominantly receive their social and cultural cues. The study looked at 11 popular prime-time TV shows, such as Heroes, Scrubs, House, CSI: Miami and Grey's Anatomy, whose casts include both white and black recurring characters of equal status.
The researchers found that subtle racial biases are often expressed by characters on popular television shows, and that viewers not only pick up these attitudes but allow them to shape their own outlooks on race. And the most insidious part? The transmission of race bias appears to occur subconsciously, unbeknownst to the viewer.
In the first of a series of four studies, researchers showed participants TV clips in which a white character and black character interact - but the segments were stripped of sound and the black character was digitally deleted. The idea was to ensure that neither race nor dialogue would color viewers' analysis. The exercise was repeated with the white character deleted. Researchers then asked the viewers, white college students, to evaluate in each circumstance, whether the unseen character appeared to be treated positively or negatively by the seen character, and how well liked he or she appeared to be. In the end, across the majority of TV shows, viewers consistently said that the white characters had received more positive treatment and were better liked than their black counterparts.

What fascinated Weisbuch was that the viewers' judgment of the characters was based purely on nonverbal cues, from facial expressions to body language. In fact, when participants were given transcripts of the verbal content of the clips, they saw no difference in the way black or white target characters were treated by speaking characters. These expressions may have been scripted into the show by writers, or by productions editors or the director, but nevertheless, researchers say they demonstrate unfavorably biased attitudes toward black characters.

Next, researchers tried to figure out whether this nonverbal bias was being communicated to people watching the show. Researchers created two sets of short, silent clips, one pro-white and the other pro-black. In the pro-white set, white characters were treated positively and black characters were treated negatively; in the pro-black clips, the reverse was true. A separate group of students was asked to view either the pro-white or pro-black TV clips. Afterward, the students completed a questionnaire that was presented as a different study, but actually served as a measure of their racial bias. The results suggested that students who viewed the pro-white clips were much more likely to demonstrate racial bias than those watching the pro-black clips. "That suggests that exposure to the nonverbal behaviors affects bias," says Prof. Ambady.

The scientists went on to demonstrate that the viewers were unaware of the clips' effect. In another part of the study, students were asked to watch the same pro-white and pro-black clips, but this time they were also instructed to be on the look- out for evidence of subtle biased behavior. Afterward, viewers were asked to determine whether white characters or black characters were treated better.

Because each set of clips was created to favor one group or the other, there was only one right answer to the question. The students had a 50-50 chance of responding correctly - and that's exactly how well they did, no better than chance. In other words, the patterns of bias expressed in the characters' nonverbal behavior were not obvious to the viewers. "The effect [television has] on viewers might be something less than conscious," says Weisbuch.
Read more about the experiment here. Of course, I'm curious to see what would happen if this experiment was replicated with Asian television characters introduced into the equation. Would viewers see these characters being treated positively or negatively? What would be the effect on viewers? Then again, are there even enough actual Asians on television to make this experiment even work?

freestyle rap battle gone wrong

Okay, I think I've watched this clip more than ten times now, and I'm still scratching my head over whether it's fake or legit. Basically, it's emcee Dumfoundead battling "some random cat," until the guy takes it a little too personally, things get physical, and Dumb has to get Jet Li on his ass. Did I just see that right?

I don't know. I'm inclined to believe he's just messing with us (complete with Twitter commentary)... but then again, what if it's real? You just saw something crazy. Either way, it makes for some interesting discussion -- which I guess is the point of posting it in the first place. Watch and decide for yourself.

student leader speaks out for south philly high students

The Philadelphia Inquirer has a good story recognizing 18-year-old Wei Chen, one of the more courageous and outspoken student leaders who stood up, spoke out and took action to address the ongoing violence against Asian students at
South Philadelphia High School: Standing up for victimized students.
Chen, 18, is articulate, smart, and frighteningly organized. He's never on time for meetings - he's there early, to help set up.

He possesses remarkable poise, stony determination, and a more than ample quantity of guts. When many Asian students hid their faces behind protest signs, afraid they would be identified and beaten up, Chen stood front and center.

Mostly, having been swept to the streets of South Philadelphia from the shores of southeast China less than three years ago, he's someone pushing the school district to address long-standing problems of violence. Within a week, starting with that tense Dec. 4 news conference at a Chinatown church, he emerged as a leader.

"He is always calm," said Xu Lin, an organizer with the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corp. who often translates for Chen. "When some of the students were losing their tempers, he'd calm them down."
As you know, this month's attack sent seven students to the hospital and sparked an eight-day boycott of South Philly High by about 50 Asian students.

While many of the students hid their faces from cameras behind protest signs, afraid they'd be identified and beaten up, Chen was front and center with nothing to hide, testifying with confidence and composure in front of the school board. This kid sounds like an impressive leader -- the kind of guy you want on your side. Props.


4c the power: acoustic holiday party

4C The Power is a nonprofit organization committed to connecting youth to their schools and community by engaging then in contemporary visual and performing arts. They do this by facilitating workshops led by professional artists like Far East Movement, Wong Fu Productions, David Choi, Gamblerz Crew and many more.

This Wednesday, December 23, they're having a benefit show for the UC Davis M.I.N.D. Institute for autism and the Little Red Scarf project, which provides life-saving heart surgery for children in China. It's an Acoustic Holiday Party hosted by FM, and featuring guest performers AJ Rafael, Vudoo Soul, Lydia Paek, IZ and other special guests. Some details:
Acoustic Holiday Party hosted by the Far*East Movement

The Far East Movement will be hosting this benefit event for the UC Davis MIND Institute for Autism Research, and the Red Scarf Project which providee life saving heart surgeries for children in Asia.

AJ Rafael, Vudoo Soul, Lydia Paek, IZ, Kevin Ko from the 4C the Power workshops will be performing. Other special guests will be stopping by as well.

This is an intimate event with very limited tickets.

Tickets go on sale:

Dec 23rd at 3:00 pm

4C the Power Office
Hacienda Center
1669 S Azusa Ave
Hacienda Heights, CA


For more information contact: 4cthepower@gmail.com

Twitter: @4CTHEPOWER

This is going to be a really small, intimate show, so make plans to be there early to get your tickets. Great artists, great causes -- should be a really fun evening, and a nice way to kick off your Christmas. For more information, take a look at the flyer above, or go to the 4C the Power website here.

lazy link roundup

In Surgery, a Tangled Tumor Meets Its Match: Last week in New York, a team doctors, led by Dr. Tomoaki Kato, successfully removed a huge cancerous tumor from the abdominal cavity of a 59-year-old man, after an epic 43-hour operation.

Bilingual Newspaper Folds, Leaves Void in Japanese-American Community: The Hokubei Manichi, one of the last bilingual Japanese-English newspapers in San Francisco, recently announced that it is ceasing print publication and will likely end its internet edition in the near future.>

'Pacman' Pacquiao Gives Filipinos Reason To Cheer: Here's an interesting NPR commentary on boxing champ Manny Pacquiao, and what his extraordinary success in the ring signifies to Filipinos around the world, and what's at stake in his upcoming "dream bout" with the undefeated Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Why it's time to lighten up about "weird" Japan: This recent Boing Boing post by Lisa Katayama is about the festishization of "weird" Japan, and how her own all-in-good-fun writing about the wackier side of Japanese popular culture regularly attracts racist comments and reactions, both from Japan-haters and Japan-obsessors alike.

Yip receives his dream call: Last week, Brandon Yip of the American Hockey League's Lake Erie Monsters got the news he had waited his whole life to hear -- he was going to Colorado to play his first NHL game Friday night for the Avalanche.

2010 U.S. Olympic Women's Ice Hockey Team Unveiled: 27-year-old Julie Chu -- already a two-time Olympian -- is among the 21 players recently named to the 2010 U.S. Olympic Women's Ice Hockey Team.

Bow to the Jeremy Lin Movement (b-o-w = Based On What?): It's the Jeremy Lin Movement! Here's a very thorough, extremely detailed breakdown of why Harvard's Jeremy Lin is not only one of the best players in NCAA Division-I basketball, but has a legitimate shot at being a first round NBA draft pick.

The Funny Man: Joe Wong: The Boston Globe has named standup comedian Joe Wong, who made his national television debut last spring on the Late Show With David Letterman, as one of the "Bostonians of the Year 2009."

John Woo: Every Director's Dream: The Asia Society interviews director John Woo, who discusses his latest film, the massive historical epic Red Cliff, and describes the creative process behind his legendary action scenes.

Producer Dan Lin on the Future of the TERMINATOR Franchise and the Ending of TERMINATOR SALVATION: A brief interview with movie producer Dan Lin, who talks a big about the original ending (versus what we actually saw) of Terminator Salvation, as well as the future of the Terminator franchise.


vintage sexy: bruce lee

Some inspiration for your weekend... LIFE has a gallery naming its "Sexiest Men of the '50s, '60s, '70s." Among the list of sexy dudes: Bruce Lee. I think everyone can agree, the guy had a hell of a physique. Bow down.

work for the los angeles asian pacific film festival

Hey! Looking for a job? Apply now to work for the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, the largest and most prestigious event of its kind in southern California.

Visual Communications, the nation's premier Asian Pacific American media arts center, seeks outstanding, motivated individuals for employment opportunities in preparation for the 26th Anniversary of the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, April 29 through May 8, 2010. The following positions are available:

Festival Guest Services Coordinator | Application Deadline: January 29, 2010

Festival Community Outreach Associate | Application Deadline: January 29, 2010

Festival Volunteer Coordinator | Application Deadline: February 12, 2010

Festival Projection Coordinator | Application Deadline: February 12, 2010

Festival Print Traffic Coordinator | Application Deadline: February 12, 2010

Festival Box Office Manager | Application Deadline: February 12, 2010

Festival Box Office Associate (2 Openings) | Application Deadline: February 26, 2010

Festival Program Intern | Application Deadline: Rolling

You'll be a part of the team that produces the ten-day festival, taking place Directors Guild of America and Laemmle's Sunset 5 Theatre in Hollywood; National Center for the Preservation of Democracy and Aratani/Japan America Theatre in Little Tokyo, and the new CGV Theaters in Koreatown. For more information about all the job openings, go to the Visual Communications website here.

finding those who found her

This is awesome story from the Washington Post... Twenty years ago, two teenagers found an abandoned baby on a doorstep in Fairfax County. Earlier this month, they received a Facebook message from that baby, Mia Fleming -- now a college student -- looking to say thanks: Woman abandoned in Fairfax as a baby finds her rescuers.

extras needed for short film k town cowboys

If you're in Los Angeles, here's a last-minute, desperate plea for bodies to take part as extras this weekend in a short film called K Town Cowboys. It's being put together by a bunch of guys I know -- Lanny Joon, Danny Cho, Bobby Choy and Daniel Park of FRA. They need extras for their last day of shooting tomorrow. Here are some details:
Saturday (Dec. 19): will be divided into two time frames: 8:30am-5pm and 2pm-10pm (you're welcome to do longer hours)

La Defence
3701 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles 90010

Wardrobe (for both days): club attire- however you would dress when going out to a club.

GUYS: nothing too flashy. Fitted clothes for the guys who can get away with it, otherwise complimentary fits. Lots of solids with layers would be nice. Blazer, button up T, jeans, dress shoes.

GIRLS: Show skin but don't look like a go-go dancer :] and they need to come camera ready (guys and girls).

There won't be any pay, but meals will be provided, and there will be union points for SAG actors. Also, if there are any Twilight fans, Justin Chon will be on set.
What -- Justin Chon?! I'm so there. It's a big last minute, but if you're free on Saturday, and willing to help these guys out, they'll be extremely grateful. I guess you can just show up tomorrow at the address above... and dress like you're going out for a night of clubbing. For more information contact Mike Lee at emailmike101@yahoo.com.

psa: cute kids talk hepatitis b

This PSA spot, featuring some very cute kids talking about Hepatitis B vaccinations, will start airing on Bay Area stations next month. It's produced by HepBMoms.org, part of the Asian Liver Center at Stanford University, in an effort to get the word out about Hep B immunizations. Here's another cute one with just two of the kids.

There are 370 million people worldwide chronically infected with hepatitis B, the leading cause of liver cancer. The majority of those with chronic infection acquired it from mother-to-child transmission at birth or during early childhood.

Like the kid says, one in ten Asians have chronic hepatitis B -- the leading cause of liver cancer. One in ten! A million people die of this disease every year, but it is entirely preventable through vaccinations and protective shots given at birth.

HepBMoms is an online resource for pregnant mothers, perinatal hepatitis B prevention program coordinators, health care providers, and anyone who is concerned about hepatitis B. On the site you'll find interactive discussion boards, the latest up-to-date information, news about what's being done in your area, downloadable videos and educational materials, and ways you can help.

secret angry asian man special!

This is for all you Secret Asian Man fans out there. Just in time for the holidays, Secret Asian Man: The Daily Days by Tak Toyoshima is now available. Ths 232-page book collects every Secret Asian Man strip syndicated through United Media. Just $20.00.

The book is conveniently available through Amazon, but here's something special to sweeten the deal if you order directly from Tak...

Starting right now, the first 25 orders from you, the good readers of this blog, will receive a free piece of original daily comic strip art signed by Tak Toyoshima. He'll even tuck it into the page where it appears in the book. Here's what you have to do:

1. Make your payment via PayPal (credit cards accepted too) to tak@secretasianman.com. Books are $20 each (+$4.95 priority shipping).

2. In the shipping comments field please write "SECRET ANGRY ASIAN MAN SENT ME!"

3. Enjoy.

It's important to note that this is a self-published book, which mean that Tak is paying for the whole print run out of pocket. Support the strip and get your copy today! To order, and for more information about the Secret Angry Asian Man Special, head over to the SAM website here.

martial arts monkeys turn against trainer

This story can't be real. If so, it is awesome. Real or not, this photo alone is pretty awesome. That's Lo Wung, a guy in China who apparently trained his monkeys taekwondo. Hold on right there -- I think you already know where this is going: Taekwondo monkeys attack trainer.

But I'll keep going. Lo Wung's taekwondo monkeys have become a regular feature outside a shopping center in Enshi, Hubei province, where they were trained to show off their martial arts skill on each other, much to the delight of onlookers.

As you can imagine, it was only a matter of time before things went very, very wrong. The martial arts monkeys got their chance to rebel against their master when Lo slipped, and one quick-thinking monkey caught him with a flying kick to the head:
Hu Luang, 32, a bystander who photographed the incident, said: "I saw one punch him in the eye - he grabbed another by the ear and it responded by grabbing his nose. They were leaping and jumping all over the place. It was better than a Bruce Lee film."

At one point the monkey trainer grabbed a staff to hit the monkeys, only to find himself facing a stick-brandishing monkey that cracked him over the head.
It was a badass martial arts monkey rebellion. Please tell me there is some video of this out there. Alas, Lo managed to get the monkeys under control by tangling them up in a rope, and they were apparently punished for their disobedience. But you know, it's only a matter of time before the monkeys rise up again... Lo Wung better watch his back.

suggestions for asian pop's "best & worst of 2009"

A call out to friends, readers and opinionated souls... Jeff Yang is compiling his annual Asian Pop "Best & Worst of 2009," and he needs your help coming up with some ideas.

He writes, "Please be generous to me with your wit and wisdom, and the karma will be repaid sevenfold in 2010, I can nearly guarantee it. Tell me, with humor, passion and verve":
  • What Asian/Asian American events, people or phenomena made this year worthwhile?
  • What Asian/Asian American events, people or phenomena made you gasp/cringe/scream?
Man, it's been an eventful year. I've got a few ideas for Jeff's column. I bet you do too. You can leave a comment here or email Jeff your suggestions and comments at originalspin@gmail.com. And spread the word.


ocean of pearls opening in los angeles

For those of you in Southern California, Sarab Singh Neelam's award-winning debut feature Ocean of Pearls opens this Friday, December 18 for a week-long theatrical run at Laemmle's Sunset 5 in West Hollywood. Here's the film's synopsis:
Amrit Singh is of two worlds, but belongs to neither. A turban-wearing Sikh, he has lived his life in North America out of sorts and out of place, cast adrift at an uneasy crossroads between East and West. But when he is offered a prestigious position as a transplant surgeon in a Detroit hospital, the young doctor sees it as a opportunity to start fresh. He struggles to be the man he believes he is and at the same time the person he wants to be. His ambitious pursuit of success, however eventually leads to tragedy and it is only in defining his singular identity that he finds peace.
It's a great story, with a lot of heart. View the trailer here. The film stars Omid Abtahl, Hather McComb, Ron Canada, Navi Rawat and Ajay Mehta. Here's some more information about the Los Angeles theatrical release:
Los Angeles Theatrical Premiere

Laemmle's Sunset 5
8000 Sunset Boulevard
West Hollywood 90046

Friday, December 18 - Thursday, December 24, 2009

Showtimes 1:50 p.m., 4:40 p.m., 7:30 p.m. & 10:00 p.m.
(Subject to change)

Tickets: $10.00
Students with ID: $8.50
Seniors Over 62 and Children Under 12: $7.00

Rated PG-13 for brief strong language and thematic elements.
The director will be present at the 7:30pm show for a post-screening Q & A. For more information about the film, go to the Ocean of Pearls website here. If you're not in the area, but still want to see the film, they're looking for folks to support the grassroots DVD release. To learn more, go here.

agent orange: a lethal legacy

This article is a couple of weeks old, but I wanted make sure people saw it... The Chicago Tribune recent ran an intense multi-part investigation on the long-lasting, harmful effects of the chemical defoliant Agent Orange, decades after the end of the Vietnam War: Agent Orange: A Lethal Legacy.

Both veterans and Vietnamese nationals who were exposed to Agent Orange and other dioxin-laced defoliants are still experiencing devastating health effects, while birth defects have brought the impact into a second generation. Yet the United States government has yet to make full amends, either in the U.S. or overseas.

It's one thing for those who were directly afflicted by Agent Orange -- both those who lived and served in Vietnam during the war now suffer health problems. But imagine the next generation born into this lethal legacy -- kids who weren't even alive during the war, but now suffer birth defects linked to defoliants. It's infuriating.

To report this series, the Tribune interviewed nearly two dozen civilians and former soldiers in Vietnam as well as researching thousands of pages of government documents and traveling to the homes of veterans in the U.S. Take a look at the story, along with video and photos, here.

the weirdest music video I have ever seen

Okay, this music video for "Heaven Can Wait" by Charlotte Gainsbourg and Beck, directed by Keith Schofield, popped up on the internet a little while ago, but I just saw it... and it is weeeeeird. Yet totally mesmerizing. I mention it here because it features a lot of random Asians running around throughout it. And I mean really really random. Just watch it -- you will be scratching your head too.

angry reader of the week: liliana chen

Hey! Here we are again. Time for another Angry Reader of the Week, spotlighting you, the very special readers of this website. Over the years, I've been able to connect with a lot of cool folks, and this is a way of showing some appreciation and attention to the people who help make this blog what it is. This week's reader is Liliana Chen, hailing from New York City.

asian americans drive army recruiting boom

Here's an interesting Los Angeles Times story on Asians and military recruiting... Asian Americans have traditionally joined the military at the lowest rate among all races in the United States, but -- lured by job security, college aid and, for some, citizenship -- they're part of a recruitment boom. In the last year, enlistments by Asians rose 80% in Los Angeles County: Asian Americans drive Army recruiting boom in L.A.

disgrasian: hyphen cover girls!

Yes, I'm aware that Olivia Munn is on the cover of Maxim. Looking good too. But whatever. Forget that. The real hottest ladies on the internet are currently rocking the cover of Hyphen. My pals Jen Wang and Diana Nguyen, the brainy and beautiful bloggers behind Disgrasian, are the cover gals of Hyphen's "Trailblazing" issue.

I love it. Lots of good stuff inside too, including interesting features on Asian Americans serving in the Obama White House, to Asian Americans gaining visibility in the wine industry. Get your copy on newsstands, or better yet, subscribe to the magazine here at the discounted rate of $16 for 4 issues ($2 off).

the countdown begins

2050. That's the estimated year when whites will no longer make up the majority of Americans. The prediction, initially made last year, has been pushed back eight years because the recession and stricter immigration policies have slowed the flow of foreigners into the United States: White Americans' majority to end by mid-century.

This week, the Census Bureau released new figures, updating last year's prediction that white children would become a minority in 2023 and the overall white population would follow in 2042. The earlier estimate didn't take into account a drop in the number of people moving into the U.S. because of the economic crisis and the immigration policies imposed after the September 11, 2001, terror attacks.

The United States has 308 million people today; two-thirds are non-Hispanic whites. Under the new projection, the total population should climb to 399 million by 2050, with whites making up 49.9 percent of the population. Blacks will make up 12.2 percent, virtually unchanged from today. Hispanics, currently 15 percent of the population, will rise to 28 percent in 2050.

Asians are expected to increase from 4.4 percent of the population to 6 percent.

The actual shift in demographics will be influenced by a host of factors that can't be accurately forecast -- the pace of the economic recovery, cultural changes, natural or manmade disasters, as well as an overhaul of immigration law, which may be debated in Congress as early as next year. So the projection could actually change either way.

More flexible government policies and an improved U.S. economy could again attract more foreigners. With higher immigration, the minority "tipping point" is moved up to 2040, and Asians would have a much larger share, at 8 percent, since their population growth is more dependent on immigration than birth rates.

You know there are people out there who are reading all this and completely freaking out. Whites no longer the majority? The thought is too frightening to bear. It's a siege. An invasion! Well, get used to it. This is the story of America -- a story that's still being written by a lot of people, and no one group holds claim to.


ohana!: an evening of music and poetry

This is for my Bay Area friends... RAMA presents a new semi-monthly performance series, OHANA! It's a small, intimate variety show for local, up-and-coming, independent Asian American performers, much like the Sulu Series in New York. The first one is tomorrow night, Thursday, December 17 in Berkeley. Some details:
An evening of music and poetry
Brought to you by RAMA

Thursday, December 17th

La Pena Cultural Center
3105 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley
Admission: $10
+ Bake Sale

[We will also be raffling off 2 tickets ($60 dollar value!) to our upcoming APIA variety concert extravaganza, GO!STYLE, in February (www.gostyle.org)!]

Featuring: Broken Halos, Jelani Lateef w/ DJ Shawn Dub, The Sushi Cal Band, with poetry by Margaret Rhee and Fuifui Niumeitolu
The aim is for this to be an ongoing series that is truly pan-Asian, LGBTQ-friendly, and produced by a local organization, featuring performers all from the Bay Area, for the purpose of building a stronger, more cohesive community centered around Asian American art. Check it out.

teleconference with mike honda on immigration reform legislation

Tomorrow, the Asian Pacific American Legal Center and National Korean American Services and Education Consortium will host a listening and Q&A session on Rep. Mike Honda's teleconference on new comprehensive immigration reform legislation. Read on for details:

Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill Introduced; Special Q&A Session on Thursday for API Communities

WHAT: A listening and Q&A session on Rep. Mike Honda's teleconference on new comprehensive immigration reform legislation, sponsored by APALC and NAKASEC. The press will hear telephonically from Rep. Honda (D-CA), Karen Narasaki from the Asian American Justice Center (AAJC), and Eunsook Lee from the National Korean American Services and Education Consortium (NAKASEC). Following the listening session, advocates from the Asian and Pacific Islander (API) community in Los Angeles will host a Q&A session on the new legislation for the press and other community members.

WHEN: Thursday, December 17, at 12:30pm

WHERE: Asian Pacific American Legal Center
Community Room, 1st Floor, 1145 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90017

WHO: Local Speakers and Participants include:
- Sara Sadhwani, Asian Pacific American Legal Center
- Connie Choi, Asian Pacific American Legal Center
- Olivia Park, National Korean American Services and Education Consortium
- Kristin Fukushima, Japanese American Citizens' League

WHY: On Tuesday, Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), Rep. Honda and more than 80 members of Congress introduced the Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America's Security and Prosperity Act of 2009 (CIR ASAP). Honda will discuss various aspects of the legislation, including the status of his Reuniting Families Act. As chairman of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, Rep. Honda brings a unique perspective to the comprehensive immigration reform debate. He will discuss the importance of comprehensive immigration reform to the API community, the need for APIs to mobilize and why passage of legislation to fix our broken immigration system next year is imperative.
Press and community members are welcome to sit in on the conversation. This is part of a continued effort to make sure that Asian Pacific Americans are included in the national dialogue on immigration reform -- a conversation that affects our community now more than ever.

replay: koream live with priscilla ahn

In case you missed it, here's video of KoreAm's live chat the other night with singer/songwriter Priscilla Ahn, hosted by our buddy Bobby Choy, aka Big Phony, and joined by Wendy Wang of The Sweet Hurt.

I actually had the opportunity to hang out in the KoreAm office during the session, all up-close and intimate-like -- so fun. Priscilla is extremely cool, and a wonderful musician. Check out video of the chat here. (Thanks, Michelle.)

all-immigrant high school ranks 6th in the nation

Thought this was pretty interesting... An all-immigrant high school in Queens, which only accepts students who have arrived in the county in the past year, has managed to crack the top 10 of the U.S. News & World Report's list of the nation's best 100 high schools: All-Immigrant Queens High School Places 6th On Nation's Top HS List.

Newcomers High School, which enrolls close to 1,000 students who speak 30 different languages and offers eight Advanced Placement courses, placed 6th on the coveted list. The school's diverse arts and music program is funded though a federal grant.

Students say the school's environment has helped them through the transition of moving to the United States, while teaching them about the customs of other countries. More here: All-Immigrant High School Ranks Sixth on Top High School List. And here: Queens High School Cracks Top 10 On Best School List.

The No. 1 spot on the list went to Thomas Jefferson High School in Virginia. Schools were ranked on the basis of state test scores and the success of poor and minority students, as well as student performance on Advanced Placement tests. For the complete list of top 100 U.S. High schools, go here.

"family portrait" of china's 56 ethnic groups

Check out this "Family Portrait" of China's 56 different ethnic groups. Photographer Chen Haiwen recently led a team of 14 photographers throughout China to create a book, Harmonious China: A Sketch of China's 56 Ethnicities. They ended up taking over 5.7 million photographs over the course of one year, coming up with some amazing images: Family Portraits of all 56 ethnic groups in China.

call for entries: slant film festival

Attention, filmmakers! The Slant Film Festival: Bold Asian American Images, is currently accepting entries for its 10th annual shorts film festival, happening next May in Houston. Curated by Melissa Hung of Hyphen magazine, Slant will showcase an eclectic mix of the best emerging Asian American cinema. Some details:
Call for Entries:
Bold Asian American Images

10th Annual Shorts Film Festival. May 22, 2010.

Deadline: Postmark by January 30, 2010

Slant: Bold Asian American Images, an annual film festival of short films seeks works by Asian American filmmakers. Now in its 10th year, Slant will showcase an eclectic mix of the best in emerging Asian American cinema. All genres are accepted.

Slant is hosted by the Aurora Picture Show, a nonprofit microcinema dedicated to showing non-commercial film, video, and new media. Aurora’s primary interest is curating high quality group programs that give exposure to emerging artists and new works.

Program Content: All genres, including narrative, experimental, film art/video art, documentary and animation.

Eligibility: Filmmakers or film content should be Asian American or Asian Canadian.

Running Time: Each work should run 30 minutes or less.

Formats: Selected works may be presented on DVD or Blu-Ray.

Formats For Submission: DVD, or provide a link to the work online.
Ten years?! Congratulations, Slant. Got an Asian American short film to share with the Aurora Picture Show audience? Send it in to Slant! What do you have to lose? And best of all, the festival actually pays. Filmmakers are paid $3/minute of film/video with a $30 minimum. For more information, and for the full submission guidelines, go here.

najmetender's ukulele "poker face" cover

Saw this other day on Boing Boing and thought it was rather awesome. This ukulele cover of "Poker Face" by NajMeTender is pretty darn sweet. It actually makes song kind of bearable. My favorite part is where she goes "my-my-my poker face my-my-my poker face." And yes, the girl is wearing a Jurassic Park t-shirt. Check out her other videos here.

asian students suspend south philly high school boycott

Yesterday evening, I got word that the students of South Philadelphia High School have agreed to suspend their boycott of the school following a frank, and occasionally pointed exchange with School Superintendent Arlene Ackerman. Present at the meeting were:
  • More than 30 of the 50-60 students who had been boycotting the school
  • 10-12 "student ambassadors" from the school
  • A number of community members from the Asian community: Helen Gym/Ellen Somekawa, Asian Americans United; Nancy and Michelle Nguyen from Boat People SOS; Xu Lin, Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation; Mia-Lia Kiernan, Cambodian Association of Greater Philadelphia, Thoai Nguyen, SEAMAAC, Allan Wong, Mayor's Commission on Asian American Affairs, etc.
  • Arlene Ackerman, Mike Silverman, Principal Lagreta Brown, Asst. Principal Ozzie Wright
As you know, the students boycotted school for eight days in the wake of assaults against Asian students both inside and outside the building. The students were concerned that safety issues had been consistently ignored and that the school's lack of appropriate response had contributed to escalating violence against them.

Tuesday's meeting lasted more than two hours. Here's the public statement put forth by the students of South Philly High School boycott:
Through our trials and struggles, we pushed the school to hear us. We have made change by standing together. We are proud of what we have done. If something happens again after all this, we know that we have strong wills and we will stand together again.

We have came back to stand with more students. We want to start a dialogue with other student organizations. We will continue to work with the community organizations. The struggle will go on until all the demands are met; we won't give up. We ask everyone to continue to pay attention to what's going on at SPHS. We hope that school can change their attitude for the benefits of all students. We thank our supporters. Without the support of everyone we could not go this far. We are excited for the future. We now believe in hope and change, like president Obama.

We want a safe school for everyone; we want everyone to have a good education. This is not the end, but just the beginning of the fight for better futures and better educations for all races of students.

~ Students of the South Philly High boycott ~
So it's back to school. While the district has made a lot of assurances that it's be taking steps to put a stop to the violence, I imagine this isn't much comfort to the students who were on the receiving end of the attacks on December 3, or the students who have endured antagonism and apathy for years -- often from the teachers and administrators. More here: Asian students 'suspend' boycott of South Philadelphia High.

In the meantime, as I mentioned before, I suggest supporting the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, which is filing a civil rights complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice against the Philadelphia School District for failing to address the ongoing violence. You can make a donation to AALDEF here. Make sure that under "Designate my donation" you indicate that it's for the civil rights complaint against the Philadelphia School District.


kickass lost season six promo

Check out this awesome promo for the sixth and final season of Lost. No new footage, just a montage of key moments put together to a haunting rendition of "Amazing Grace." Tell me you did not just get chills while watching that. It's the beginning of the end, baby. February 2, hurry up and get here.

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