re-vamp'd live

Johnny tells me about the Vietnamese American concert he's producing this weekend, RE-VAMP'D Live, for the UVSA 27th Annual Tet Festival of Southern California. It'll be broadcast nationwide on VHN-TV (DirecTV channel 2073) and on VAN-TV (KSCI 18.7). It's Sunday, February 1, 5:00pm at Garden Grove Park. If you're in the area, you should check it out.

Celebrating young Vietnamese Americans, the show will feature acts like Thomas' Apartment, Vudoo Soul, Kristine Sa, Seriously, Cast of Kings, Mavien Bliss and Frequency 5, and hosted by CDUSA's John Wynn. For more information, including tickets, go to the Tet Festival website here.

onion: asian teen has old sweaty white guy fetish

Here's a clever piece from The Onion that flips the ol' Asian teen fetish stereotype on its head: Asian Teen Has Sweaty Middle-Aged-Man Fetish.

The headline sort of says it all. Nobody wants to hear about gross old white dudes fantasizing about Asian teens. But what about the other way around? It's pretty ridiculous. And funny. But then...

At first I was laughing, because it's pretty clever, and hits all the little nasty nuances. Then I got kind of uncomfortable, and the piece just started to gross me out. Which I suppose is exactly the point.

tour bus crash kills seven

Saw this on the news last night... yesterday afternoon, a bus carrying Chinese tourists on U.S. 93 in Arizona overturned near Hoover Dam, killing at least seven people and injuring 10 others, several critically: At least 7 die as bus overturns near Hoover Dam.

Six were pronounced dead at the scene and a seventh died at a hospital. Just based on the news footage I saw, the scene was pretty horrific. More here: Tour Bus Crashes in Arizona, Killing 7.

The bus was returning from a trip to the Grand, traveling north on the highway, when it veered right, overcorrected, crossed the median and rolled at least once before stopping. Investigators were trying to determine was caused the crash.

To make matters worse, rescuers apparently had difficulty communicating with the passengers, who were on vacation from Shanghai, because they didn't speak English. Shanghai's municipal government contacted a U.S. travel agency for help in identifying the victims. What a nightmare.


angry reader of the week: oliver wang

Once again, it's time to meet the 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 scholar/writer/DJ Oliver Wang, co-author of one of my favorite blogs, Poplicks.

vote for nomi network on ideablob.com

Last is very last minute... but the Nomi Network needs your votes! Diana Mao, Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director of Nomi Network, is hoping to get the most votes for her idea on ideablob.com, a site where entrepreneurs and small business owners can share and grow their business ideas and have a chance to win $10,000 towards fulfilling them.

Nomi Network, a network of professionals who hope to leverage the marketplace to eradicate sexual slavery, is one of eight finalists this month. Nomi's mission is to empower sex trafficking survivors to make products that will be sold in the mainstream market, thereby securing jobs for vulnerable women while delivering high quality products to consumers.

Nomi Network was founded on the prinicple that it's important to attack the supply side of human trafficking by increasing the economical opportunities of women who are vulerable to sex-trafficking.

This is a serious, devastating, 21st century problem, and I applaud people like Diana who are trying to attack in an innovative way. To learn more about Nomi Network, go here. And be sure to vote for Nomi Network on ideablob.com here.

to gloria: ching chong. love, amy sedaris

A reader named Gloria sends in this juicy little scan... She informs me that actress/author/comedienne Amy Sedaris did a show last week at Haverford College. Gloria's brother (who happens to be Chinese American) got a copy of Sedaris' book I Like You: Hospitality Under The Influence signed for her.

The above scan is what she apparently inscribed on the inside of the book. Yes, you're reading that right. As if "Ching Chong" wasn't enough, the rudimentary buck-toothed chink-eyed caricature is sort of icing on the racist cake.

What the hell, Amy Sedaris? Is that supposed to be clever? Are we supposed to write that off as "quirky"? I've never been a huge fan of hers... but I've never disliked her either. That has changed. I have to wonder what Gloria's brother thought when she handed this back to him. Not cool. That's racist! (Thanks, Gloria.)

UPDATE: Amy Sedaris apparently has a bit of history with the ching-chongery... Check out her opening remarks in this video posted on BlogHer back in 2007. Doesn't take very long for her to bust out that "ching chong." Just rolls off the tongue, doesn't it? Like it ain't no thing.

Also, check out this Believer interview from several years ago where she lists her turn-offs as: "The beach, having to pay for things, racist people, Orientals." Is that supposed to be funny?

A little more Googling reveals that she actually has a habit of referring to people of Asian descent as "ching chong" at appearances and events. She also regularly signs her books with "ching chong" and a sketch of the buck-toothed ching chong thing. Oh, I get it. She's supposed to funny and off-the-wall, and so we're supposed to excuse her for playful, asinine racist mockery.

secret identities at new york comic con

This is for all you comic book fiends in New York... If you're planning to be at New York Comic Con next weekend, make sure you set aside time to attend a panel with our comic book creator friends called Asian Americans & Super Heroes: Secret Identities.

The editors and contributors of the upcoming graphic novel Secret Identities will be discussing their groundbreaking new work -- the very first Asian American superhero comic book anthology. It's Saturday, February 7 at 1:30PM in Room 1A18 at New York Comic Con.

And if you stick around through the weekend, Secret Identities Editor-in-Chief Jeff Yang will be moderating a panel called "The Multicultural Mask" on Sunday, February 8 at 11:15AM in Room 1A17. This panel will bring together creators who stand out as pioneers of the new inclusiveness in comics.

I got an early look at the Secret Identities anthology, and it's really awesome stuff. I wish there were comics like this when I was a kid. I can't wait to get my hands on the final copy. It's due out this spring. Amazon.com already as a listing for it. To learn more about Secret Identities, go to the website here.

sign up for carmen's course on diversity career success

All right, people. You want to learn something about diversity in the workplace. I mean, really learn something? My friend Carmen Van Kerckhove, president of diversity education firm New Demographic, is launching a one-time only, 5-part telecourse starting on February 5 called Diversity Career Success: How to Take Your Organization From Culturally Clueless to Diversity Dynamo (and Skyrocket Your Own Career While You're At It).

I know, the title's a doozy, but Carmen is a smarty, and she knows what the hell she's talking about. It's designed "to help professionals who are in charge of diversity at their organizations bring their skills to the next level and quickly position themselves as a driving force to help their organizations thrive in increasingly diverse world." I have a feeling many of you and your companies could benefit from this course.

The first 36 people who register will get a 4-CD set of interviews Carmen has conducted with some of the nation's top experts on race and diversity. The 4-CD set is worth $197, but you would get it as a free gift. Carmen will even personalize it for you. Hell yeah.

To learn more and reserve your spot in the course, go here. The training costs $297 -- well worth it, I think. Over the years, I've gotten to know Carmen as a fellow blogger and friend, and I really trust and respect her views on race and diversity. I'm sure she's got some really interesting things to share, and ideas that will make the course a valuable investment. Sign up now.


goh nakamura and big phony at cafe du nord

Bay Area music fans.... this is a good one! Tomorrow night, don't miss local favorite Goh Nakamura celebrating his birthday with a fun show at Cafe Du Nord in San Francisco. Opening the show is singer/songwriter Bobby Choy, aka Big Phony -- his first time ever playing in the Bay Area! Goh tells me he's actually been a fan of Bobby's ever since he first learned about him right here on this blog. Awesome.

Goh will be playing two sets -- one primarily solo acoustic and then a band set with some great musician/friends joining him onstage throughout the night, including members of Invisible Cities, Matinees, Love Is Chemicals and Jane Lui. Sounds like it's going to be a fantastic evening of music and love. Details:

Friday, January 30, 2009
8:30 doors, 9:30 show
Tickets: $10

Cafe Du Nord
2174 Market Street
San Francisco, CA

If you're in the Bay Area, come out to the show, bring a friend, spread the word. It's Friday, January 30, at Cafe Du Nord. For more information about Goh and his music, visit his website here. For more info about tomorrow night's show, go to the Facebook event page here. If you like good music, you should definitely go.

tammy and victor on the amazing race

CBS just announced next season's cast of the hit reality show The Amazing Race. Season fourteen's globe-trotting contestants include a successful screenwriter and his father, two former NFL cheerleaders, two stuntmen brothers... and Tammy and Victor Jih, brother and sister -- both attorneys with Harvard law degrees. Oh boy. Can they make it as far as previous Asian American Amazing Race contestants? This ought to be interesting. The new season premieres on Sunday, February 15.

john yoo... defended by obama's lawyers?

Another crazy chapter in the story of a sucka named John Yoo, chief author of the Bush Administration's torture memos, and poster-boy for the war-on-terror squad. In a strange twist of events, President Obama's incoming crew of lawyers might actually have to take on the awkward task of defending Yoo in federal court. Read on: Obama lawyers set to defend Yoo. More here: Bush Crew, Including John Yoo, to be Defended by Obama Lawyers.


"asian pop" on avatar

Jeff Yang's latest "Asian Pop" column is all about the controversy that's been raging among fans over the whitewashed casting of the live-action Avatar: The Last Airbender movie. Last month's announcement of an all-white principal cast caused an online uproar that's slowly stumbling outside the fandom and getting mainstream attention: Bent Out of Shape.

Among the most vocal fans are two of the most celebrated Asian American creators in comics: Gene Yang, National Book Award finalist for his graphic novel American Born Chinese, and Derek Kirk Kim, critically acclaimed author of Same Difference. Jeff interviews both of them for the piece.

Here's Derek's tirade over the casting, posted last week: New day in politics, same old racist world on the silver screen. And here are Gene's thoughts, posted today: The Last Airbender Casting Controversy. Both are well-written, thoughtful and angry considerations of the situation, from fans' perspectives.

This sucks. It's clear what's happening here -- the kind of racist casting that always happens in Hollywood. That said, I have to admit, I've never actually watched a full episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender... though from what I've seen, it's obvious that the show and its characters are all clearly Asian-inspired.

I think I'm going to order the DVD box set of Avatar: The Last Airbender Book 1 in order to be properly informed. Call it research. I'll tell you if it's any good.

jin soo kim determined academically ineligible

Turns out that Jin Soo Kim, freshman forward for the University of Maryland, has been declared academically ineligible to play basketball: Jin Soo Kim Academically Ineligible. He's the first native South Korean athlete to play for NCAA basketball... though at the moment, it doesn't look like he'll be playing this season, according to the school.

What exactly does "academically ineligible" mean? The university isn't releasing any specific details regarding Kim's academic status in compliance with the Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act. But he's currently enrolled in a university program available to students for whome English is a second language.

After initially being denied his eligibility for the 2008-09 season, Kim was declared eligible by the NCAA Clearinghouse in November after receiving more documentation from Maryland regarding online correspondence courses Kim took during the fourth quarter of his final year at South Kent School in Connecticut. Did something fall through the cracks?

The decision is effective immediately, though Kim will still be able to practice with the team. Maryland is reportedly appealing the decision to the NCAA. More here: Terps' Kim academically ineligible.

2nd annual celebration of asian pacific american women

This weekend, you are invited to the 2nd Annual Celebration of Asian Pacific American Women at the University of California, Berkeley. It's happening this Sunday, February 1, 6:00-9:00pm at UC Berkeley's Pauley Ballroom.

The event, hosted by Asian American Public Leaders and Asian Pacific American Student Development, seeks to recognize the struggles and obstacles that APA women must face in today's world, as well as to honor the achievements that they made in the face of such challenges.

This year's theme is SOAR: Speak Out And Represent. The evening will feature a line-up of prominent guests lecturers and performers, including UC Berkeley student groups, activist performers, spoken word poets and dancers. For more information about the event, go here.

the fight to recall madison nguyen

Things aren't looking good for Madison Nguyen. The 34-year-old San Jose Councilwoman is embroiled in a heated battle to beat a serious recall effort against her: Race to oust San Jose Councilwoman Madison Nguyen heats up.

The push to recall Nguyen, San Jose's first Vietnamese American council member, stems largely from last year's epic debate over the renaming of a stretch of Story Road. While there was strong support in the Vietnamese community for "Little Saigon," Nguyen persisted with her choice to name the shopping area "Saigon Business District." The result? A rebellion of sorts.

Madison Nguyen is now locked in a campaign to keep the recall at bay, raising funds and finding support amongst San Jose political establishment. Meanwhile, her opponents -- many whom rallied against her in front of City Hall last March -- are working just hard to oust the councilwoman, drumming up grassroots support among Vietnamese residents.

The special election is just weeks away. Whatever the outcome, I just find it crazy that those three words -- "Saigon Business District" -- might end up being the phrase that defines (and haunts) Madison Nguyen's political career.

more on angel island

Another Associated Press story on the Angel Island Immigration Station, once known as the "Ellis Island of the West," which is reopening next month after a multimillion dollar restoration to turn the site into a historical landmark: Immigration history preserved on Angel Island.

Nearly seven decades after it closed, the station is set to reopen on February 15 following completion of the first phase of a $60 million restoration project that was started in 2005. The initial work has focused on restoring the barracks, where many immigrants carved poems into the wooden walls.

If you're thinking about putting a little bit of Asian American history into your next trip to San Francisco, this sounds like a pretty important place to visit. To learn more about the site's grand reopening, go to the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation website here.

level up conference at ucf

This is for all you students in Florida (and beyond)... Next week, the Asan Pacific American Coalition at the University of Central Florida presents the Level Up Conference, with the purpose of uniting diverse groups of people and offering an experience to explore and increase awareness of the current issues facing Asian Pacfic Americans and their communities. It's happening February 6-7 at the UCF Main Campus.

As with any good students conference, there will be workshops, speakers and entertainment on hand to challenge and engage participants. workshops will be led by recognized leaders from our community such as Quoc Van, the former US Congressional candidate for Florida, Dennis Ngin, UCF's first student government treasurer of Asian American descent, and Michael Freeman from the Office of Diversity Initiatives.

The conference's entertainment lineup will include popular standup comedian Eliot Chang, singer J.P. Perez, and hip hop dance group Fresh Off The Beat. Good times. It's all going down next week at the University of Central Florida. For more information, visit the conference website here. And register for the conference here.

beaten professor awakens from coma

Narayan Dhakal, a University of North Carolina-Charlotte professor who was beaten, robbed and left for dead, has awoken from a coma: UNC Charlotte Professor Left For Dead Awakens From Coma. He was found lying the middle of the street last October, and had been in a coma ever since.

When this article was written, Dhakal was awake but unable to talk about the incident, but police say they have an idea of who is responsible for the attack. They're described as three black males, 15 to 18 years old, who go by the nicknames "Spade," "Tyrique," and "Respect."

Anyone with information about the suspects can call Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600. Tipsters can remain anonymous and could receive a reward. More here: Beaten professor awakens from coma.

paul dateh album release party

I've been a fan of hip hop violinist Paul Dateh every since I came across this kickass video of him tearin' it up with Inka One. Then I saw him last summer at Kollaboration Acoustic, where they guy completely blew me away both on the violin and as a vocalist. He's one seriously talented musician, and now he's got a self-titled album out this week, available on iTunesicon and CD Baby.

To celebrate the release, he's throwing an album release party this Saturday, January 31 at the Dakota Lounge in Santa Monica Doors open at 8:00pm, and tickets are $10. If you're not in the Los Angeles area (or you're under 21), you can actually watch the live stream from wherever you are at live.pauldateh.com. Here are the event details:
Paul Dateh Live Album Release Party
Saturday, January 31st, 2009
Starting at 8pm PST / 11pm EST
featuring Inka One, Ken Belcher, Glenn Red, Plann.B, BZ +special guests
hosted by Derrick Ah Sam

- In Person -
Dakota Lounge - 1026 Wilshire Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA
Doors @ 8pm - $10 for entry
Ages 21+
(presented by Dakota Live Music Lounge & The Rhythm Section)

- Livestream -
Free for all ages!
(presented by The Bui Brothers)
For more information, visit the Facebook event page. To learn more about Paul Dateh and hear samples of his music, visit his website here, and his MySpace profile here. I just bought the album, and so far, I'm really enjoying it. He's an impressive talent, and I'm looking forward to hearing a lot more from him.

best pageant talent ever

This has got to be one of the weirdest talents ever performed at a beauty pageant... and at the same time, totally awesome. I can't describe it... you just have to see it to really understand. How does one figure out that this is your talent? It takes a special kind of girl.

That's Lisa Wong, performing at the 60th Narcissus Pageant in Hawaii, showing off some serious kicking-while-painting skills -- a talent that won her the Narcissus crown. Wait for it... wait for it... you will see. And yes, that's the music from Enter the Dragon. That touch of color near the end is my favorite part.

katana: new ninja web series

Several folks have been telling me about Katana, a new show that recently premiered on Strike.TV, an online internet TV channel created by Hollywood writers during last year's big writers' strike. It's about a ninja who is forced out retirement for one final kill: 'Katana' Slices, Dices, Premieres on Strike.TV.

The show stars Yuji Okumoto (Chozen from The Karate Kid II!) and John Koyama, who play brothers in some serious ninja family drama. The series also features Al Goto, Sam Looc and Don Tai, who are all big time stunt guys. Believe me, you've seen their work before -- you just weren't aware of it.

I just watched the pilot episode, and it's kind of hokey... but not half-bad if you like this kind of stuff. Yakuza plots, crime families, blood splatter. You know me -- I love the ninjas. Katana should satisfy fans of the old cheesy 1980s ninja action movies. Watch it here.


chalk repertory theatre presents three sisters

This is for all you theater fans in Los Angeles... Chalk Repertory Theatre presents a new version of Anton Chekhov's Three Sisters, starring Ricardo Antonio Chavira (of Desperate Housewives) as Vershinin and featuring Asian American actors Joy Osmanski, Jennifer Chang, Aileen Cho, Feodor Chin as the Prozorov family.

Founded by five women, all graduates of UCSD's MFA Theatre Program, this is actually Chalk Rep's very first production. And as you can probably tell, this is going to be a very different, multi-cultural take on the classic Russian play. That's pretty exciting.

Previews are this Friday and Saturday, January 30-31, and Opening Night is Sunday, February 1st. The play runs Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through February 22 at the Historic Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles. For more information, and to purchase tickets go here.

obama commemorates the year of the ox

To commemorate the new year, President Barack Obama released the following statement celebrating the Year of the Ox:
"I send my warmest wishes to people across Asia, in America, and indeed around the world who are celebrating the Lunar New Year and welcoming the Year of the Ox. As they gather with their families and celebrate over meals, they welcome new beginnings and honor the enduring wisdom of their ancestors.

"From the lion dances in San Francisco to festivals in Atlanta and parades in New York City and Washington, D.C., Americans of Asian descent carry on the vibrant traditions of their forefathers and enrich America's cultural diversity. I wish all those celebrating the New Year to be blessed with peace, prosperity, and good health."
One noteworthy fact the President neglects to mention -- he too, is an Ox. Obama was born in 1961, the Year of the Ox. I'd say his year is off to a pretty good start.

sorry you got robbed, can I have my food?

This is ridiculous: Carryout Customer Sees Robbery, But Is More Interested In His Food. In Washington D.C., Eastern Carryout, a Chinese takeout restaurant, was robbed on Saturday night. Owner Paul Chen was waiting on a customer when three men came through the back and robbed him and his family.

According to Chen, the customer out front saw all of this and walked out the front door, but didn't call the police. Instead, after the robbers were gone the customer actually returned and wanted to know where his food was. Chen gave the man back his money and told him to leave.

Yeah, that guy's not getting any good citizen awards. And he's sure as hell not getting any Chinese food. According to police, this was the sixth robbery of an Asian restaurant in the area over the last ten days. Jerk-ass people like this only make it worse.

silly doritos commercials by chris yi

Check out these three commercials, created by filmmaker Chris Yi as entries for the Doritos Superbowl Commercial contst. He didn't win... but the spots are kind of weird and amusing. The first one features YouTube star David Choi in his first acting role (and a crazy wig):

The Breakroom

The Red

First Date

giving in to fear

Last week, we got the tragic, gruesome news that a Virginia Tech graduate student, Xin Yang, had been stabbed to death by another student, Haiyang Zhu. Yes, the killer was Asian.

The murder is awful enough. It's unfortunate that it happened at Virginia Tech, where memories of Seung Hui Cho's 2007 shooting rampage are still a fresh memory. And even more unfortunate that this killer also happened to be Asian.

As expected, the murder has sparked a wave of nasty sentiments from ignorant bigots in the Virginia Tech community and beyond, particularly in the form of web comments. (By the way, I believe comments were invented to make the world stupider -- and the stupids appear to be winning.)

On the Collegiate Times website, under the news of Xin Yang's death, hundreds of comments range from those suggesting that Virginia Tech should prohibit Asians from enrolling, or from a "concerned parent" who apparently advised her two daughters to avoid Asian friends at all costs. You've got to be kidding me.

Here's an editorial by a student calling for cooler heads: Come together in face of tragedy. We live in an age where terrible shit happens. But that's what not defines us. How we choose to deal with such tragedy is actually what makes us who we are as a people and a society. Unfortunately, the xenophobic response is a powerful standby attitude. That's the easy way out.

jennifer chung's common simple beautiful ep

Do you know Jennifer Chung? She's just another Asian American sister trying to make it in this world and break the mold. Only this talented lady has herself a pretty huge following as a singer on YouTube, amassing fans for her original songs and soulful covers. As I write this, her YouTube channel currently has 57,863 subscribers.

Jennifer informs me that that she's releasing an EP, Common Simple Beautiful, which includes four of her originals and two covers. You can sample the songs and purchase it for download over at her MySpace page.

I've been a fan of Jennifer's ever since I saw her perform last summer at Kollaboration Acoustic. I was like, who is this Korean girl? With this awesome voice? So logged onto YouTube to see what I was missing, and have been watching her videos ever since. To learn more about Jennifer, visit her MySpace page here, and watch her 80+ videos on YouTube here.

chinese-language daily shutting down

Another ethnic publication shuts down... Word has it, The Ming Pao Daily News, one of four Chinese-language dailies in New York, is set to shut down, possibly as soon as the end of the month: Plan to Close Chinese-Language Paper Deepens a Shadow Over the Ethnic Press.

In recent weeks, two other prominent ethnic newspapers have also ceased printing -- Hoy New York, a Spanish-language daily, and of course, AsianWeek. Both still remain a presence online.

Things are pretty bad everywhere for print media, but until recently, New York's ethnic press industry had apparently remained extremely robust. But I guess the economic slowdown is catching up with everyone.


gene rhee's the trouble with romance gets a release

Check it out. After a solid film festival run, my buddy Gene Rhee's film The Trouble With Romance is finally getting distribution from Warner Brothers. You will be able to see it February 1 on On-Demand/Pay-Per-View, and theatrically on February 27 at the Quad Cinema theaters in New York.

The film is a relationship movie made up of several different vignettes, all taking place at a hotel during the course of one evening. It stars Roger Fan, Emily Liu, Sheetal Sheth, David Eigenberg, Jennifer Siebel and others. Even if you don't like romantic comedies, you'll probably find something enjoyable in at least one of the stories. (I particularly enjoyed the one starring Roger and Emily.)

Considering that this is a low-budget independent film, the fact that its getting any kind of distribution -- from a major studio, no less -- is pretty amazing. You can catch it from the comfort of your own home via Pay-Per-View, but if you're in New York, I encourage you to see it on the big screen on February 27.

It's a solid, well-written and engaging debut feature from a guy I really respect and like. It's great to see Gene getting attention like this, so support The Trouble With Romance and get the word out. For more information about the film, go to the MySpace profile here, and the Facebook group here Watch the trailer here.

leap's student conferences and internships

Hey students! This one's for you. Some great opportunities from Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics (LEAP)... If you'd like to get involved and step up as a leader on your campus and community, and looking to develop new skills and gain more experience, you might want to check out STEP UP!, the 2nd annual Nissan Student Leadership Summit, and Leadership in Action, an eight-week summer internship. Here are some details:
Nissan Student Leadership Summit

Join us for the 2nd Annual Nissan Student Leadership Summit on Saturday, March 7th! Featuring seven personal and organizational development workshops designed and facilitated by community leaders, this one-day conference will empower students to STEP UP! as leaders on campus, strengthen their organizations, and develop strong visions for the future. Come meet fellow student leaders from across California, learn new skills together, and organize for the years ahead!

Leadership in Action (LIA)
Interested in organizing for the community?

Curious how life is like at a nonprofit job?

Want to find all these things out while also developing your leadership skills and getting paid?

LIA is a paid eight-week summer internship places interns at local, Asian and Pacific Islander (API), community-based organizations. Four days of the week, interns are placed in a range of API community-based organizations in order to gain real-life experience working at nonprofits. On the fifth day, interns come back to LEAP for leadership development workshops, panels, and dialogues with community leaders.

Program Date: June 22, 2009 – August 14, 2009
I know a lot of intelligent, motivated students out there who would benefit from these programs. I'm told by the organizers that my posting about the internship last year helped generate a lot of interest -- so don't let me down, my friends. For more information about STEP UP! and LIA, visit the LEAP website here.

green hornet on the path to development hell

After some promising developments, then some setbacks, I'm beginning to think this Green Hornet isn't actually going to happen, and will forever rot in development hell. With each bit of news that surfaces, a project I was really looking forward to becomes more and more of a dead end. What a shame. I really shouldn't have gotten my hopes up.

We heard that Seth Rogen was writing and starring in it. Okay, interesting to see it go in that direction, but why the hell not? Then we heard Hong Kong star Stephen Chow would not only play Kato (the role made famous by Bruce Lee), he was going to direct it! Awesome.

Then we heard he wasn't going to direct, but would still stay on as Kato. Whew. Now we have no idea what his participation is. Hell, now we have no idea if this movie is ever actually going to get made. According to someone close to the film, it's "highly unlikely" that The Green Hornet will shoot in 2009 at all: Has Rogen's 'Green Hornet' Been Defeated?

comedy zen: year of the ox

If you're in Los Angeles, and looking for some laughs this week, head on over to Little Tokyo for Comedy Zen, a showcase of some of the funniest and finest multicultural comedians working today -- Yoshi Obayashi, Kevin Camia, Kevin Munroe Brent Weinbach, and host Rajiv Satyal. The line-up comes fresh off appearances from Comedy Central, Showtime, and touring with Russell Peters.

Celebrate the Year of the Ox! It's this Thursday, January 29, 8:00pm at the Japanese National Museum in Little Tokyo. Buy tickets here. Come early, because all Comedy Zen guests will get admission to the rest of the museum (normally $9), which will be open from 5:00-8:00pm that evening. That's an evening of culture and comedy. For more information about the event, go here.

Want to go for free? For you, the good readers of this blog, I'm giving away five pairs of tickets to attend Comedy Zen. Just email me by the end of today (Monday, January 26) with your name, and answer this question: "Who is your favorite Asian American comedian?" Please be sure to include "COMEDY ZEN TICKETS" in the subject line. Five lucky winners will win a ticket for themselves and a friend for this Thursday's show in Los Angeles. Good luck.

former champ comes in fifth

Ack. Figure skater Mirai Nagasu, who made a splash last year when she became national champion at age 14, fell far short of the top spot this weekend at the United States Figure Skating Championships in Cleveland, finishing fifth overall. The win went to Alissa Czisny: Czisny Not Perfect, but Strong Enough to Win Title.

Things were not looking good for Mirai after a disappointing short program, during which she rammed into the rink wall. Skating on a bum ankle, she managed to hold things together to the end to at last finish strong. Still, going from champ to fifth has got to suck. This Los Angeles Times piece is particularly harsh: Mirai Nagasu has no one to blame but herself.

In third place was 15-year-old Caroline Zhang of Irvine, California, who won the world junior title in 2007. Skating to "Ave Maria," she reportedly received the loudest ovation from audience after her performance on Saturday night. She will be first alternate for the U.S. at the World Figure Skating Championships in March. She and Nagasu were also chosen to compete in the world junior championships next month: More double axels and triple loops.

shigeo fukuda, graphic designer; ray yoshida, artist/teacher

The art world recently saw the deaths of two prominent talents...

Shigeo Fukuda, an influential Japanese graphic designer who was known for acerbic antiwar and environmental advocacy posters that distilled complex concepts into compelling images of logo-simplicity, died in Tokyo on January 11. He was 76: Shigeo Fukuda, Graphic Designer, Dies at 76.

Ray Yoshida, whose mysteriously comical, semi-abstract paintings and collages and four decades of teaching at the Art Institute of Chicago influenced generations of prominent artists, died on Saturday in Kauai, Hawaii. He was 78: Ray Yoshida, Collage Artist, Painter and Teacher, Dies at 78.

new shanghai restoration project record: zodiac

Happy New Year! It's the Year of the Ox, my friends. Musician Dave Liang, the guy behind The Shanghai Restoration Project, is celebrating the occasion with a new record. Blending traditional Chinese instruments with hip hop and electronica, he's carved out a distinct sound for himself that I've really enjoyed with each release. So how about something new?

Zodiac, out last week, is an project inspired by the Chinese Zodiac. Each of the twelve tracks is inspired by a Chinese fable/proverb about one of twelve animals. Thus, you've got track titles like "vOX," "top DOG," "BOARdom," and "dark HORSE." You get the idea. To learn more, go here, and watch a promo video for Zodiac here.

As someone who's heard all of the Shanghai Restoration Project records, including the remix stuff, this one is... different. In a good way. The vibe is all over the place, which makes sense, as each track seems to have distinct personality. I'm digging it more and more with each listen. Get it at the usual online locations, like iTunes
icon and Amazon.com.

call for entries: slant: bold asian america images

Attention filmmakers! Slant: Bold Asian American Images is seeking works for its ninth annual film festival happening this May, showcasing an eclectic mix of the best in emerging Asian American cinema. Shorts of all genres are accepted. For submissions guidelines and details, go here. The postmark deadline to submit your film is February 23.

sushi chef's road rage knife attack

Oh, what the hell, as if the crazy violent Asian guy wasn't getting enough press already. Asian Behaving Badly... Mad Sushi Chef edition! In New York, 37-year-old sushi chef Yao Zhou is accused of losing it in a road rage incident and attacking 23-year-old Jack Zaiback with a knife: SUSHI RAGE: Chef Accused Of Going Knife Wild.

The two drivers were driving on the Western Shore Expressway when Zaiback apparently cut off Zhou. According to Zaiback, when he pulled over to the side of the road and tried to exchange license and insurance information, Zhou started attacking him. With a freaking knife. Zaiback received 100 stitches.

The thing is, police have filed assault charges against both Zhou and Zaiback, so the description of the incident according to Zaiback doesn't quite feel like the whole story. I'm not trying to defend Zhou -- a road rage sushi knife freakout is the last thing I really want to hear about. I'm just suggesting there could be more to this story.


sundance 2009 portraits

I was just flipping through a couple of entertainment magazines, looking at coverage at the Sundance Film Festival... and noticed, without surprise, that there weren't too many Asian faces in the mix, except for mentions of hipster comedy darling Charlyne Yi, producer/writer/star of Paper Heart, and Ryan Shiraki, director of the comedy Spring Breakdown.

Thus, I thought it would be nice to showcase some of the Asian American folks who took photos at the Sundance portrait studio, like I did last year. They're good photos, and I doubt you'll see these anywhere else. So here you go (they're big photos):

jason who?

The minute First Lady Michelle Obama stepped out onto the stage at the Inaugural Ball, up-and-coming 26-yesar-old fashion designer Jason Wu became a household name: The Spotlight Finds Jason Wu.

Even to a guy like me, a fashion know-nothing, he's suddenly a name to watch. It's not as though he came out of nowhere -- Wu was already apparently building a reputation as something of a fashion darling. But by Wednesday morning, everybody was talking about Jason Wu and The Dress.

The funny thing is, Wu actually found out with the rest of us what the new first lady was wearing on inauguration night. He had never met her, nor did he know that the design he had submitted to Mrs. Obama, last November, was being seriously considered. Then, boom, the white chiffon dress changed his life.

angel island immigration station reopening

TIME's Ling Liu has an interesting story on Angel Island, the San Francisco immigration station that processed new immigrants, most of them Chinese, to the United States from 1910 to 1940. At one point, the site was scheduled for demolition. Today, it's a historical landmark: The Other Ellis Island.

For many Chinese immigrants, it was place where new arrivals languished in barracks for weeks, months, years before being admitted to the U.S. -- or sent home -- due to the racist restrictions of the Chinese Exclusion Act. It's unfortunate but important part of Asian American history.

Next month, the newly refurbished site will reopen to the public as a museum memorializing this dark period in American immigration. Definitely a place to visit on your next trip to San Francisco. To learn more about the site's grand reopening, go to the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation website here.


brutal attack on sikh teen

Last weekend in Queens, a young Sikh man was attacked and beaten so badly he may lose his left eye: Brutal Attack Has NYC Sikh Community In Uproar.

18-year-old Jasmir Singh was walking on the street early Sunday morning when he was approached by three men who demanded his money. Then they began to taunt him because of his turban, touching his hair and threatening to cut it. When he tried to run away, they beat him.

This appears to be hate crime, plain and simple. They targeted and taunted Singh because of his turban and beard -- an important part of his Sikh faith. But the police and the Queens district attorney have simply classified it as a robbery and an assault. What's up with that?

But here's the part that kills me. That same night, police arrested two of the three suspects, described as "16-year-old Asian Pacific male and a 21-year-old Latino." Ack. You freaking hateful idiots. That's racist!

You'd think as people of color, as racial minorities, these two idiots would know what it's like to be targeted and violated like this. Maybe they do. But I guess we know that ignorance and hate extends across all color. Police are still searching for the third suspect.


mountain view's new mayor

Earlier this month, Margaret Abe-Koga was sworn in as the first female Asian American mayor of Mountain, California: Historic moment at City Hall. Historic! However, the city faces some challenging times, due to a projected budget deficit and a recent spate of hate crimes: Hate crime, vandalism worry Mountain View leaders.

Days before she sworn into office, Mayor Abe-Koga received an anonymous racist e-mail through her public City Hall address, saying "I can't believe this city elected a stupid Asian American like you," and went on to blame undocumented immigrants for the country's economic woes.

Ah, hate mail. I can relate. Unfortunately, the Asian American mayor of a major Silicon Valley city is not immune to the same kind of stupidity. The email, as well as a number of seemingly unrelated incidents, have city leaders and community groups worried that "something is brewing" in Mountain View. Let's hope the new mayor handles it with the right response.

re-sessions: a chinese new year party

This weekend, if you're in Los Angeles and looking for something to do on Sunday night, Mitchel Dumlao, Jon Maxwell, Jamie Lai, and Lillian Ng invite you to Re-Sessions, a Chinese New Year Party. It's this Sunday, January 25 at the Grandstar in Chinatown, and they've got all sorts of stuff happening.

The evening will feature musical acts like Sheri, Prophet, and the Come Up Crew DJs; artists Nicha Petprasert and Timothy Watters showcasing their work, and a special live art installation by Lara Cho. Teruo Clothing will also be selling their designs, and Wong Fu Productions will be showing some of their videos. So there's a little bit of something for everyone. For more information, go here.

china's underground hip hop

The New York Times has a really cool article on the rise of home-grown underground hip hop in China: Now Hip-Hop, Too, Is Made in China. Make sure you watch the little video feature on the side, "The Underground Chinese Hip-Hop Movement." It's pretty fascinating.

The article profiles a few of the people who are making waves on the scene, including the group Yin Ts'ang, described as one of the pioneers of Chinese rap, which is apparently blowing up.

This doesn't really come as a surprise, right? Hip hop might've started in the New York, but its international reach is far and wide, and it's only natural that such a rebel art would sprout out from under the shadows of a society and government like China's.

angry reader of the week: heather park

The photo above can mean only one thing... it's 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 New York-based R&B/soul singer Heather Park:

njahs presents "the many faces of manga"

Tak Toyoshima, the man behind the hit comic strip Secret Asian Man (which celebrates its 10th anniversary this month!) tells me about a new exhibit at the National Japanese American Historic Society in San Francisco, The Many Faces of Manga: Cartoons, Animation and the Japanese American Experience, running now through June 30. It features reproductions and original art from:

Osamu Tezuka - Astro Boy
Adrian Tomine - Optic Nerve
Bob Kuwahara - Miki
Stan Sakai - Usagi Yojimbo
Tak Toyoshima - Secret Asian Man
Lela Lee - Angry Angry Little Girls
Deb Aoki - Honolulu Advertiser's "Bento Box"
Jon J Murakami - Honolulu Star Bulletin
Henry Kiyama - The Four Immigrants Manga
Willie Ito - Disney/Hanna-Barbera/Dell Comics

It sounds really cool. There's an opening reception on Saturday, January 24 at the National Japanese American Historical Societ at 1684 Post Street in San Francisco's Japantown. For more information, go to the NJAHS website here.

protest at the avatar extras casting in philadelphia

Uh oh. We know about the whack-ass white people casting for the upcoming live-action Avatar: The Last Airbender movie, an animated series heavily influenced by anime and Asian culture, and yet somehow completely devoid of any Asian stars in the Hollywood movie version. And we know fans are not happy about it. Bloggers and online fans, Asian American and otherwise, have been speaking out about Hollywood's latest act of whitewashing.

So. Word has gotten out that the production is casting extras this week in the Philadelphia area for this disastrous Avatar movie, and they're looking for all sorts of people. Do people really want to be a part of something like this? Apparently. The short version of the casting call:
"Casting folks are looking for extras to play soldiers, martial artists, dancers, gymnasts, athletes and families -- specifically physically fit people from 18 to 65 years old. The open call will be 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at Bullies restaurant at the Wachovia Spectrum. You're asked to dress casually or in the traditional costume of your family's ethnic background. Info: lastairbendercasting@gmail.com or 215-574-7878."
Wow. It just gets worse and worse, doesn't it? Hey everybody! Come on out and parade around in your traditional ethnic costume, while white actors get recognition as the real stars of the movie. And maybe they'll let you stand around or walk here and there in the background. Here's the long version, in the form of a forwarded flyer:

Thankfully, there are those who aren't going to stand by idly and just let this happen. This site, which has been spearheading the protest movement against the live action Avatar film, is trying to organize an actual physical (but peaceful) protest this Saturday at the site of the extras casting, Bullies restaurant at the Wachovia Spectrum. All the details are here.

UPDATE: Some folks sent me this article, which includes some brilliant quotes from Deedee Rickets, the Avatar movie's casting director:
"We want you to dress in traditional cultural ethnic attire," she said. "If you're Korean, wear a kimono. If you're from Belgium, wear lederhosen."

Another way to stand out is to demonstrate skills such as basket weaving, hair braiding, making clay pots, puppeteering, knitting, looming - "any artisan craft," Rickets said.
Right. Koreans, kimonos, funny Asian outfits... they're all the same. It's apparent that the people making this movie really don't care about the kind of movie they're making, as long as they get to use Asians (and their basket-weaving skills) as props.

listen to the silence 2009

Students! If you're anywhere near Stanford University this weekend, come on out to the Listen to the Silence 2009, AASA's annual Asian American issues conference. It's this Saturday, January 24 at Cubberley Auditorium. Workshops! Speakers! A concert! It's all there, and best of all, it's free.

The concert will feature Lijie, Vudoo Soul, Goh Nakamura, Takeo Rivera and Thomas' Apartment. Good stuff. For more information about the LTS conference, go here. Register here. And visit the Listen to the Silence Concert event page on Facebook here.

purple gate 2009

While Monday was a historic, joyous occasion for a lot of people, it also really sucked for a lot of people -- not because they didn't want to see Barack Obama sworn in as President, but because they were right there in Washington D.C. and didn't get to see Obama sworn in.

Thousands of people with official tickets were denied entrance to the inauguration, without any explanation from authorities or officials. And after waiting for several hours in tunnels and streets, most of them gave up and left. A lot of these folks traveled from all across the country to be there.

These were folks with legitimate "purple" tickets to the inauguration, and never made it in. Thus, the incident is being referred to as "Purple Gate." My man Raymond J. Lee was there, and was one of these people. He made a short documentary about his experience, which had to be a bit of heartbreak: Purple Gate 2009 - a short documentary.

p.i.c. live taping at arlene's grocery

My man Steven Mallorca tells me his band P.I.C. will be playing their first show of this year this Saturday, January 31 at Arlene's Grocery in New York. Come on out, dress yourself up, because they'll be shooting the entire set for a liver performance video. Here are the details:
P.I.C - Live taping @ Arlenes Grocery
Saturday 01.31.09
95 Stanton Street (bet. Ludlow & Orchard)
$10 door
If you haven't heard P.I.C., you've got to check them out. They've got this really fun, wonderful hip hip jazzy big band sound. I've got their album El Nova Hustle, but I've never actually had the chance to see them live. I'm sure they put on an excellent show. For more information, go here.

steven chu is talking to you about energy

Hey look! Saw this here... It's Secretary of Energy Steven Chu talking about energy and responding via YouTube to some of the top ideas submitted to the Citizen's Briefing Book. Talking about climate change, baby. And this is a very smart man who knows what he's talking about.

van kills two children in chinatown

Really tragic news out of New York... In Chinatown yesterday, two small children were killed when an unoccupied delivery van that had been left in reverse backed into a crowd of people on a busy commercial street: Van Plows Into Line of Children in Chinatown, Killing 2. The accident injured at least eleven other people.

According to authorities, 4-year-old Hayley Ng of the Lower East Side was killed almost immediately. She was pronounced dead at the scene. Two other children, a 3-year-old boy and a 4-year-old girl, were critically injured and taken to the hospital. There, about an hour later, the boy died. He was identified as Diego Martinez of Chelsea.

When the accident occurred, around 14 children were being led in a "daisy chain" line -- holding onto each other and accompanied by adult chaperons -- along East Broadway from a library visit back to their day care program.

The van was traveling on East Broadway and appeared to make a three-point turn to make a delivery. Shortly after, according to witness accounts, the van lurched, going in reverse over the curb and onto the sidewalk, according to witnesses.

There were various conflicting reports from authorities as they tried to figure out what happened. But basically, the driver, Chao Fu, double-parked and entered a store, leaving the van running and in reverse gear, thinking it was park. Now two kids are dead. More here: Van jumps curb in horrific Chinatown traffic accident, killing 2 preschoolers and injuring a third.


president yo-yo ma; aretha's awesome hat

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c

Still talking about the inauguration... If you're an idiot, you took issue with Obama's "stumble" when he took the oath of office. Whatever. It was actually Chief Justice John Roberts who misspoke. He's the one who stumbled over the oath's opening words, and Obama repeated them back, incorrectly. But just to make sure everything's square, they did a do-over of the oath the next day.

But according to The Colbert Report, if Obama's oath was indeed invalid, the person who should really be President is whoever was on TV at the moment the clock struck noon.... and that guy is none other than Yo-Yo Ma. That's President Yo-Yo Ma. Like Colbert says, "It's still pretty darn historic to have the first Asian American president and the first vice president who is a cello."

If you're like me, you were wondering how the hell Yo-Yo, Itzhak Perlman and company didn't freeze their brilliant fingers off, or how their performance sounded so darn good despite the D.C. cold. Alas, what you heard was in fact a recording, made two days earlier by the quartet: Frigid Fingers Were Live but the Music Wasn't. I gotta say, it was some of the best fake cello-playing I've ever seen.

Oh yeah, did you noticed Aretha Franklin's hat? Heck, who didn't notice Aretha's hat? The Queen of Soul was rockin' one serious hat with one serious bow. Where do you get a hat like that? Detroit, baby: Aretha Franklin's hat, Detroit-made, wins global acclaim.

The inaugural Hat was custom designed by 36-year-old Luke Song for his family business, Mr. Song Millinery in Detroit A similar style has apparently been flying off the shelves since Ms. Franklin's performance: Requests flood in for 'Queen of Soul's' custom hat. That's a hat for the history books.

slumdog millionaire receives ten oscar nominations

Academy Award nominations were announced this morning. Everybody's favorite movie of the moment, Slumdog Millionaire, received ten nominations, including Best Picture, Danny Boyle for Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay.

Based on all the acclaim it's already received, we knew going into Oscar nominations that Slumdog had a pretty good shot at being a top contender. (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button leads the nomination count with thirteen.) I'm going to go out on a limb right now and predict Slumdog Millionaire will actually take the Best Picture trophy on February 22.

Other noteworthy nominations include Thavisouk Phrasavath and Ellen Kuras' The Betrayal for Best Documentary Feature, and Yojira Takita's Departures for Best Foreign Langauge Film, Steven Okazaki's The Conscience of Nhem En for Best Documentary Short (the director's fourth nomination). View the full list of nominations here.


the diverse first family

After Tuesday's historic presidential inauguration, I got a lot of traffic coming to the site from search queries about "the Asian guy" sitting behind the Obamas during the ceremony. I guess a lot of people are curious about the random Asian guy getting so much TV face time.

Let me explain, curious visitors. That's no random Asian guy. That's Konrad Ng, husband to Barack Obama's sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng. Yes, he is the First Brother-in-Law. Recognize, suckas! You might remember Stephen Colbert noting Konrad's presence at the Democratic National Convention.

Here's a good New York Times article on the many diverse faces in the new first family: In First Family, a Nation's Many Faces. And here's a cool graphic explaining the Obama famly's multicultural roots: A Diverse First Family.

student fatally stabbed at virginia tech

Oh no. Oh hell no. On Wednesday night at Virginia Tech, a female student was stabbed to death on campus at a cafe in the Graduate Life Center. The suspect? 25-year-old Haiyang Zhu, who was taken into custody when campus police responded to an emergency call about a man with a knife: Va. Tech student fatally stabbed; suspect caught.

Zhu was charged with first-degree murder and is being held without bond. Just when you thought people were kind of forgetting the notion that Asian men are violent crazies, this happens. At Virginia Tech, of all places. My heart goes out to the family of the victim. My heart does not go out to the stabbing guy. More here: Stabbing death in Donaldson Brown.

UPDATE: Some more details on the murder at Virginia Tech... and it's pretty gruesome. The victim, 22-year-old Xin Yang, had arrived on campus only two weeks ago from Beijing to begin graduate studies in accounting. When authorities arrived on the scene last night, they discovered Yang's decapitated body, the suspect Haiyang Zhu, and a large kitchen knife -- the murder weapon: Virginia Tech releases gruesome details of student's on-campus murder. What the hell happened here?

looking for korean and chinese emcees in new york

This is for my people in New York. Are you a Korean Amerian or Chinese American hip hop artist? Someone on Craigslist wants to interview you for a documentary project: chinese or korean rappers for documentary subject. I don't really know anything else about it, so do you what you will with this information.

derek kirk kim on the avatar movie

The controversy over the ridiculous casting of the Avatar: The Last Airbender movie continues to rage on. If you're coming late to the party, it was recently announced that the live-action movie adaptation of the hit Nickelodeon animated series, which is heavily influenced by anime and Asian culture, would star an all-white cast. Yup. The Hollywood way. Big surprise.

Graphic novelist Derek Kirk Kim has a particularly well-written post (with illustrations!) on his blog explaining his take on why this is all so messed up: New day in politics, same old racist world on the silver screen.

asian american employees underreport discrimination

My fellow Asian Americans, stand up for yourselves in the workplace! According to a new report from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Asian American employees are underrepresented in the senior ranks of federal agencies, and likely are underreporting instances of discrimination on the job: Asian-American employees underreport discrimination, report finds.

The report, which was released earlier this month, says that Asian Americans face a number of misperceptions and stereotypes, factors that have become "the framework of barriers establishing glass or bamboo ceilings which present [Asian American and Pacific Islanders] from moving into the upper tiers of an organization."

A 2005 Gallup poll found that 31 percent of Asian respondents said they had experienced discriminatory or unfair treatment on the job. But the EEOC noted in its report that enforcement actions reveal that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders file only 3.26 percent of discrimination.

Say what now? We already have enough problems with people thinking we as Asian are passive, good little citizens who do what we're told. It does us no good to let people walk all over us. It's one thing to be discriminated against -- it's another thing entirely to stay quiet about it. And we wonder why we're so conspicuously absent from executive and senior management levels...

michelle obama's gown designed by jason wu

If you're like me, you were glued to the TV yesterday, watching all the inaugural festivities. This morning, everybody seems to be sending me messages about one thing: Michelle Obama's gown.

In case you were wondering what the First Lady was wearing last night at the Inaugural Ball, her one shouldered, Grecian-style white ball gown was designed by a relative newcomer, 26-year-old Taiwanese American Jason Wu: Drumroll, Please: It's Jason Wu.

From what I hear, the gown has been getting mixed reviews, but I think she looks pretty freakin' hot. Big props to Michelle, for embracing the future of fashion. More here: Love Me Some Jason Wu!. Here's Jason Wu's website.

lost season five begins tonight

With all the excitement over the last few days, between the Presidential Inauguration and my trip to Sundance, I almost forgot to mention... Lost is back. The fifth season of the greatest, asskickingest drama on television finally premieres tonight. Helllll yes.

After all the crazy stuff that went down last season, I can't wait to see what happens next to the survivors of Oceanic flight 815, both on and off the island. I'm in deep. Early reports say the premiere is a doozy. Did you really expect anything less? Tune in to ABC tonight.

hines ward leads steelers to the super bowl

Didn't want to let too many days go by without mentioning this... Over the weekend the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Baltimore Ravens, 23-14, to win the American Football Conference title and advance to the Super Bowl against the Arizona Cardinals.

The victory was largely due to the sure hands of receiver Hines Ward, who, with three big catches, provided virtually the only offense at Heinz Field: Ward Fuels the Steelers With Three Big Catches. The guy has to be one of the toughest receivers in the NFL. And now he's going to the Super Bowl. Again.


sign up for a free teleseminar with carmen van kerckhove

This is a little last minute, but I encourage you to take advantage of this really great opportunity.

See the cool lady in the photo? That's Carmen Van Kerckhove, my friend and blogger at Racialicious.com, and the founder of New Demographic, a very different take on diversity training. It's a way for individuals and organizations to learn about race and racism without having to endure the misery of diversity training.

Carmen is hosting a free teleseminar on Wednesday, January 21st at 5:00pm EST titled "The 3 Biggest Diversity Blunders Your Organization Could Be Making Right Now (And How to Avoid Them)." On this 60-minute call, you'll learn:
  • Why your colleagues are right to scoff at diversity training -- it actually doesn't work! I'll show you why not, and let you know what does work instead.

  • Why your organization's executives should never proclaim that they're colorblind and that they "just don't notice race," unless they want to offend a lot of their employees.

  • The one thing your organization must avoid at all costs unless you wants its diversity efforts to fail spectacularly.
She's a smart lady who knows what she's talking about, and she's trying to help people break out of patterns of crappy, mostly irrelevent diversity training. I respect her views immensely, and I think a lot of companies and organizations could benefit from hearing this talk. Sign up for the teleseminar here.

yul kwon opens red mango location in san jose

Hey, Bay Area friends. You've got another place to get your frozen yogurt on. A new Red Mango location had its grand opening last week at the Westfield Valley Fair mall in San Jose.

So what, you say? It's just yogurt. Just another store in the escalating yogurt chain wars. But wait -- this one is co-owned by none other than Survivor: Cook Islands Yul Kwon: 'Survivor' winner Yul Kwon opens Red Mango in Westfield Valley Fair.

Yes, you could have a former People magazine "sexiest man" serving up your frosty yogurt and toppings. After opening a first location in Palo Alto last May, Yul and company president Daniel Kim have decided to conquer San Jose. Yul and yogurt... what more do you need?

something to look forward to

I, too, look forward to the day when, in the words of Dr. Joseph Lowery, "yellow will be mellow" ...whatever the hell that means. I really wish there were better words that rhymed with "yellow." (Yellow will get a hello? Yellow won't just play the cello? Yellow won't mean "hell no"?) Maybe someday. For now, let continue to struggle and stay angry to that end, my friends. And today, I will celebrate this amazing moment.

it's cold, but she's here to support uncle barack

If you haven't heard, the party's in D.C. It's all going down today, when Barack Obama is sworn in today as the 44th President of the United States. The celebration already began this weekend.

There is much to be said about this historic occasion, but I just wanted to share this awesome AP photo I came across, of Obama's sister Maya Soetoro-Ng, her husband Konrad Ng, and daughter Suhaila at "We Are One: Opening Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial" on Sunday.

Asian Americans in the first family! You've got to love it. But what really makes this photo great? The kid rocking that pink coat, ninja style. Stay warm, Suhaila.

protests shut down vietnamese american art exhibit

A guaranteed way to provoke controversy in the Vietnamese American community: communism. Specifically, art and communist symbols. Last week in Santa Ana, California, hundreds of Vietnamese Americans demonstrated outside an art exhibit that had featured communist symbols, claiming that the art mocked their painful experiences as political refugees: Vietnamese Americans protest art exhibit in Santa Ana.

Curators of the exhibit, entitled "F.O.B. II: Art Speaks" and commissioned by the Vietnamese Arts & Letters Association, said they wanted to launch a discussion about the freedom of expression in the Vietnamese community, where talk of communism is a taboo. Instead, they got one of the works defaced with red paint, the exhibit shut down by the building owners, and a lot of angry people protesting outside.

The protestors were mainly only Vietnamese residents of Orange County and Southern California (though some came from as far away as San Jose), who chanted slogans and denounced the curators and organizers of the exhibit. More here: Protesters shut down 'F.O.B. II' exhibition.

Now, I respect everyone's right to free speech, on both sides, but the exhibit organizers had to know that this was going to launch way more than just a "discussion." This is still a touchy subject, and you bet your ass there were going to protestors... It's obviously a wound that's not going to heal anytime soon.

keanu will star in cowboy bebop

It's confirmed. Last week, Variety reported that Keanu Reeves will indeed star as future bounty hunter Spike Spiegel in 20th Century Fox's live-action adaptation of the popular anime series Cowboy Bebop: Keanu Reeves set for 'Bebop'.

Don't hate me for saying this, but I don't think this is an entirely bad idea. Keanu gets a lot of hate for his low-charisma surfer-dudeness, but in the right role, he isn't half-bad. For Spike, I'd argue the most important elements is cool. Can Keanu pull this one off? For now, I am willing to find out.

The series follows Spiegel and a ragtag group of bounty hunters traveling on their spaceship, the Bebop. I've always thought that out of all the anime properties to be translated for the big screen, Cowboy Bebop has enormous potential, particularly because the series itself successfully borrows pop culture elements from a variety of other genres.

What's most encouraging though, is the close involvement of Sunrise Inc., which produced the original series. Sunrise's Kenji Uchida and Shinichiro Watanabe will serve as associate producers alongside series writer Keiko Nobumoto. And series producer Masahiko Minami will serve as a production consultant.

Will Sunrise's participation help preserve some level of Cowboy Bebop's badass-ness? Or will this just be another crappy Hollywood handling of a beloved anime series? (Let's face it -- that Dragonball movie looks and is going to be baaaaaaaad.) I guess we'll see, whenever this actually happens.

new tv show: azn lifestyles tv

Coming to you straight out of Canada... Azn Lifestyles TV is an independently produced, weekly 30-minute program about Asian pop culture in North America. It's a mix of interviews with notable personalities, features on stuff like food and car shows, and sketch comedy segments. You get the idea.

For those of you in Vancouver, you can catch the show on Sundays at 11:30pm on Channel 13, CityTV. For the rest of you, watch it online here, or on YouTube here. Awful title for a show, but hey, with AZN dead and buried, and ImaginAsian pretty much on life support, someone's got to pick up the slack.

another story on growing asian american political power

With the recent electon of David Chiu as president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, the Associated Press has another article on the growing political engagement of Asian Americans in the United States, on a variety of levels: Asian-American political profile rising in US. But we already knew that.

An interesting statistic though: according to UCLA's Asian American Studies Center, there are more than 2,000 Asian and Pacific Islander elected and appointed representatives countrywide. All things considered, does that number seem like a little or a lot?

In California, Asian-Americans hold two seats in the state Senate, 10 in the Assembly, plus the posts of state controller and chief of the Board of Equalization. A decade ago, there was only one high-ranking Asian-American official, the state treasurer. That's progress, and I like it.


back from park city

Yo. I have returned from a crazy whirlwind weekend trip to Park City, Utah for the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. It was quick, but I still managed to squeeze in some good times seeing films, meeting people and just generally experiencing the chaos and fun of the festival. Here's a little recap of my weekend...

One thing you count on at Sundance: cold and crowds. This is the waitlist line for the sold-out world premiere screening of Paper Heart. The line snakes around like we're waiting to get into a theme park ride. And none of these people have tickets. These people are all waiting for the chance to get into the movie.

There was apparently a lot of buzz about Paper Heart, and it was completely sold out. Thankfully, I got in line fairly early. Lucky number 25.

Here's Charlyne Yi, producer, writer and star of Paper Heart, introducing the movie before the screening. You may remember her as that funny-ass stoner girl from Knocked Up. In person, she actually seems just as goofy and lovable.

I don't know how to describe Paper Heart. It's this funny, quirky mockumentary following Charlyne, who apparently does not believe in love, as she searches and interviews real people around the country to find out the meaning of love, and dabbles in a relationship herself with a guy named Michael Cera.

It's cute and weird, and might just make a breakout star out of Charlyne, who is really awkward yet totally charming. This is definitely not your average romantic comedy protagonist. Here's a profile on her from indieWIRE: Move Aside Michael Moore, Charlyne Yi Breaks Out in Comic Doc "Paper Heart.'"

On Sunday afternoon, I attended the world premiere of Children of Invention, the only Asian American feature film at Sundance, and the one film I had put down as a priority to see while at the festival. Here's director Tze Chun, introducing the film.

And here's the entire cast and crew Children of Invention, during the post-screning Q&A. I was really looking forward to seeing this film, and it didn't disappoint. Basically, it's about two kids who are left to fend for themselves after their single mother is apprehended for unknowingly taking part in a pyramid scheme scam. At its soul, it's about growing up, the immigrant experience, and shortcuts to the American dream.

It's great. The film works in large part because of some really great performances--particularly from the kids, who do some serious heavy lifting for the movie. They're fantastic. Here's Cindy Cheung (who plays the mom), Crystal Chiu, Michael Chen and producer Mynette Louie in the back.

After the screening, I headed over the annual APA Filmmakers Reception over at the Queer Lounge on Main Street. This event, which has been going on for several years, is a way of recognizing the APA filmmakers with works in both the Sundance and Slamdance film festivals. Here's Winston Emano introducing all the filmmakers.

And here's a big yearbook-style photo of all the filmmakers.

Meet Jack Song and David Magdael, super publicist dudes. They run things, and they know how to hook a brother up.

It was a good weekend. As quick as the trip was, I was happy to see us Asian American trying to make our slim mark on indie film's big show. I really don't know how to end this post, as I have pretty much run out of photos to share. So I'll leave it with this: Pocky and Shrimp Crackers. They also had Choco-Pie and spicy ramen bowl noodles. Essential to any Asian's survival in Park City. I'll be back for more next year, hopefully.

the dream

Busy day of traveling. But on this day, as we remember the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, I do want to point you to this thoughtful post by Oliver Wang over at Poplicks on the significance of this moment, the day before the nation swears in its first black president: ON THIS DAY.


hello from park city

Greetings! Coming at you from the cold... I've had a long day of traveling and experiencing the sights and sounds of the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, happening right now in Park City, Utah. Lots of hustle and bustle, but surprisingly pretty mellow this year. I did a lot of waiting in line, met some really nice folks, and even managed to catch a flick. Just trying to represent for the Asians up in this place, you know? That said, I am tired. Excuse me as I recharge the batteries. More later...

angry archive