3.31.2009

who are the 30 most influential asian americans under 30?


Looking ahead to the month of May, I'm putting together a feature called The 30 Most Influential Asian Americans Under 30. Over thirty days, I'll be profiling thirty young individuals who are making an impact in their respective fields, in their communities, and the world at large.

I'm still sort of figuring out how to do this. The now-defunct APA political website politicalcircus.com put together a list like this many, many years ago, and I always thought it was a pretty good idea. So I'm bringing it back. But I need your help.

I'm putting the call out. I already have several people in mind who are going to make the cut, but this list won't be very good unless I get some suggestions from you. It could be anyone -- artists, activists, athletes, politicians, entrepreneurs -- as long as they're 30 years old or younger. It could be someone you're aware of on a national level, someone in your own community, or someone you know personally.

To nominate someone, email me (with "30 UNDER 30" in the subject line) with the person's name, age, what they do, and in a hundred words or less, why you think they are one of the 30 Most Influential Asian Americans Under 30. I'll be accepting nominations through the end of April.

To whittle down the list to thirty, I'll be conferring with a select team of (not yet determined) editorial consultants. If your nominee is under consideration, I might contact you with some follow-up questions. For the sake of my sanity, one nomination per person please. So make it a good one. And please, spread the word.

detained journalists will stand trial

Good God. Euna Lee and Laura Ling, the two American journalists detained by North Korea at the China border two weeks ago, will be indicted and tried for their "suspected hostile acts," according to Pyongyang's state-run news agency: NKorea says 2 US journalists will stand trial.

According to the Korean Central News Agency, "The illegal entry of U.S. reporters into the DPRK and their suspected hostile acts have been confirmed by evidence and their statements." The report didn't say when a trial might take place, nor did it elaborate further on what "hostile acts" they allegedly committed.

Who are they kidding? Can the two really expect a "fair" trial? This is really bleak. Under North Korea's criminal code, conviction on charges of spying and illegally crossing the border could draw more than twenty years in prison for each of them.

Forgive me if I'm not exactly reassured by North Korea's claims that they'll be treated well. Let's pray for some kind of international intervention, because it's obvious the regime has no intentions of freeing them soon. More here: N. Korea to Try U.S. Journalists

The International Women's Media Foundation and Reporters Without Borders have jointly launched a petition for the immediate and unconditional release of Laura Ling and Euna Lee: IWMF Calls for Release of Two American Journalists in North Korea.

"an exotic evening inspired by the orient"


If you're in Los Angeles, here's something not to do this weekend: Opium Den. This is an actual Asian-themed party happening this Friday, April 3. "An Exotic Evening Inspired By The Orient," according to the promo materials. Wow, and I thought offensive racist theme parties were just for obnoxious fraternities. Can't let the college kids have all the fun. According to the event details:
Indulge Your Sense At The Opium Den, An Exotic Evening Inspired By The Orient...

Leave your cares behind and be transported to a mystical world of decadence and artistry.

Let Geishas pamper you and enjoy the delectable fusion tasting menu and delicious Cavalli cocktails.

Watch dazzling performances by samurai warriors, burlesque dancers and Cirque du Soleil acrobats. Relax in the hookah lounge.
I wonder how many actual Orientals were involved in the planning of this Exotic Evening Inspired By The Orient. What a fantastic opportunity to get your ignorant Asian fetish on for a night. Proceeds from the event are supposedly going to an organization called MENTA, though I can't find any further information on this entity. This exotic evening is brought to you by Fabulous Events. (Thanks, Chris.)

the oscar-winning work of ruby yang

Here's an interesting article on Academy Award-winning filmmaker Ruby Yang, whose documentaries shine a light and spread awareness on lesser known, often taboo and controversial issues in Chinese society, like AIDS and homosexuality: Chinese Oscar winner happy despite lack of audience.

She won an Oscar in 2007 for her short documentary, The Blood of Yingzhou District, which tells the story of traditional Chinese family obligations colliding with the fear of AIDS in impoverished Anhui province, and the fate of those left behind. It's enormously depressing, but an amazing film.

Yet it's never been officially released in China, nor shown on state television, and probably never will be, due in part to its sensitive subject matter. She hopes, however, that the film has been able to raise awareness about AIDS in China amongst policy-makers and health professionals.

Her latest film, Tongzhi in Love, is a short documentary examining the lives of gay men in modern China. I've seen it, and it's a fascinating look cultural expectations, dutiful sons, and the dilemmas of a double life. The film is currently making its way through the film festival circuit. If you get the chance, I recommend checking it out.

amanda terkel vs. bill o'reilly

The Daily Beast has more on "far-left blogger" Amanda Terkel, in her own words, explaining Fox News and Bill O'Reilly's ridiculous efforts to harass and discredit her villainous liberal views: Bill O'Reilly Is Stalking Me.

O'Reilly's producer actually tracked down and confronted Amanda while she was on vacation, basically making up lies on camera and accusing her of causing "pain and suffering" to the Alexa Foundation and rape victims. Because that apparently makes good television. On Fox News, that is.

They actually devoted an entire segment to Terkel's evil. All this, because Amanda called O'Reilly on his own previous bullshit comments about a rape victim. This has nothing to do with real, viable journalism -- this is about O'Reilly's long track record of harassment and intimidation.

This has to stop: TAKE ACTION: Tell O'Reilly's Advertisers To Stop Supporting The O'Reilly Harassment Machine. ThinkProgress is promoting a letter-writing campaign to O'Reilly's advertisers, telling them not support his tactics. I hear that UPS has already pulled out: UPS Pulls Advertising Off The O'Reilly Factor.

3.30.2009

coming to a city near you: link's crossing tour



I've been meaning to post something about this for a couple of weeks... Liberty in North Korea (LiNK) is a humanitarian organization focused on helping North Korean refugees and raising awareness about North Korean human rights issues. They do great work, and I've written about their efforts in the past.

LiNK is currently in the midst of promoting the award-winning South Korean feature film Crossing with a two-month, 300-screening national tour on college campuses across the country. Based on actual accounts from over a hundred North Korean refugees, the film tells the powerful story of refugees' dangerous journey across the North Korean border to freedom. Watch the trailer here.

To learn more about the film, as well the work LiNK is doing to bring relief and awareness to the plight of North Korean refugees, go to the organization's website here. Check the touring schedule to see when and where the film will be screening near you. Or better yet, maybe you or your organization can host a screening.

orange county man kills former co-workers, then himself

Some disturbing news last week out of Southern California, of another troubled Asian man -- a disgruntled former employee -- shooting multiple victims, then himself: Police: Suspect in gas company deaths blamed victims for lost job.

37-year-old Phong Thuc Tran, a former employee of Southern California Gas Co., is suspected of killing Hung Duy Dao, who was found dead in the driver's seat of his car, and his former supervisor Charles Santisteban, who was gunned down in his driveway. Tran died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head while in his car parked outside the Anaheim police station.

Tran had worked as a field technician for the Gas Co. for seven years, until he was forced to resign in 2007. He apparently blamed his victims and other employees for losing his job. More here: O.C. police: Alleged gunman blamed victims for job loss.

aziz ansari is blowing up

The Wall Street Journal has an interesting profile on comic actor Aziz Ansari, who's been on the MTV sketch comedy show Human Giant, played one of the new interns on Scrubs, and will now been seen starring on the new NBC sitcom Parks and Recreation: The Rise of the Likable Jerk.

Next, you'll see him as a lotion salesman in the Seth Rogen comedy Observe and Report, and as a hyperactive stand-up comic in Judd Apatow's Funny People. Parks and Recreation premieres on Thursday, April 9.

roger shimomura exhibit at morikami museum


If you're anywhere near Delray Beach, Florida this spring, you might want to check out the art exhibition Return of the Yellow Peril: A Survey of the Work of Roger Shimomura, 1969-2007, running now through May. at The Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens. I've never had the chance to check out a roger Shimomura art exhibit, but from what I've seen through the web over the yars, it's pretty cool.

Shimomura blends images from ukiyo-e woodcut prints with images from
American popular culture to create a unique Japanese American style and powerful, humorous social commentary, from ironic constructions of cultural identity to denunciations of racial prejudice: Return of the Yellow Peril Debuts at The Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens This Spring.

Return of the Yellow Peril runs now through May 10. To learn more about the exhibit, go the Morikami Museum website here. To see learn more about the work of artist Roger Shimomura, visit his official website here. The piece above is a personal favorite of mine. It's called "Keep On Talkin', Michelle Malkin."

sgt. daniel sakai and sgt. ervin romans

By now, you've probably heard about the four Oakland police officers who were shot to death during a shootout on March 21. I won't get into the politics of what's going on with law enforcement and the people in Oakland -- the situation is bad. But I will note that two of the officers who were shot and killed were Asian American: Fallen Oakland Police Officers Were Asian American.

Sgt. Daniel Takashi Sakai would've been 36 next week: Sgt. Dan Sakai 'loved being a police officer'. Sgt. Ervin Romans, decorated former Marine drill sergeant, was 43: Sgt. Ervin Romans dreamed of joining the Oakland Police Department.

a heated campaign for president

According to the New York Times, the three candidates have spent upward of $200,000 each, hired campaign staffs, opened campaign offices, speechified and debated, conducted polling, recorded campaign songs and distributed carloads of campaign paraphernalia.

It's the biggest political campaign New York has seen since... who knows? All for the coveted title of the presidency of the Korean-American Association of Greater New York, a volunteer position in an organization that many Korean Americans, including its staff members, say is largely ceremonial.

But social and professional associations are a central part of Korean immigrant life, and candidates Semok Lee, Chang Yon Han and Yonghwa Ha aren't messing around: A Heated Campaign for a Ceremonial Post. The election was yesterday. So who won?

UPDATE: When all was said and done, victory for the presidency of the Korean-American Association of Greater New York went to 52-year-old insurance agent Yonghwa Ha: A Pitched Battle to Lead New York Koreans.

14th annual asian american showcase in chicago


Hey Chicagoooo! This is your chance support some cool-ass independent Asian American cinema. The Foundation for Asian American Independent Media (FAAIM) presents the 14th Annual Asian American Showcase, happening April 3-16 at the Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago.

The 2009 Asian American Showcase spotlights film and videos, along with music and visual art, produced by Asian American artists from across the United States and Canada, in a varied range of format and genre. Highlights include:
Dirty Hands : the art and crimes of David Choe, by Harry Kim, opening night spotlight, Friday April 3

Treeless Mountain, by So Yong Kim, closing night spotlight, Thursday April 16

The First Breath of Tengan Rei, by local directors Ed Koziarski and Junko Kajino

Also featuring Dim Sum Funeral, a comical 7day traditional Chinese funeral; the beautifully crafted coming of age drama Half-Life; and Fruit Fly, a flashy, trashy, and brazenly fun musical.

Don't miss Sarba Das's charmingly chaotic comedy about a Hoboken Hindu family in Karma Calling, or Hein Seok's documentary, The House of Sharing about an education center where four surviving Korean comfort women now live. Passing Poston: An American Story, Origns of Now: Stories of the Chicago Nisei, and The Dwelling is a documentary program about the struggles in which the Japanese and Japanese Americans historically and currently face.

Declare INDIEpendence! 2009: A Showcase of Asian American Music
Celebrate the diversity of independent music in the Asian American community with performances by: Spark*Shop, Lanialoha & Kupono, Cynthia Lin and Wallet-Sized Photo. Hosted by Narciso 'Seeso' Lobo with DJ Huu T. Ly and special guest Dawen. April 15th, 2009 at Subterranean, 2011 W. North Ave. Show starts at 8:30pm. Doors open and DJ set at 8pm. 17 and over. $10 cover.

Encounter with Distance - a visual art exhibition at the Gene Siskel Film Center Gallery/Cafe
All film programs will be at the Gene Siskel Film Center. You know I'm a sucker for Asian American film festivals. This particular one holds a special place place in my heart because it was the first one I ever attended, way back during its early years. Sounds like they've got another solid program. For more information about the Showcase, and full list of films and events, visit the FAAIM website here.

kalin dao, just another ponzi schemer

Asian Behaving Badly... Ponzi scheme edition! At this point, thanks to Bernie Madoff, everyone in America is aware of what a Ponzi scheme is. Some folks found out the hard way. This is a couple of weeks old, but it's a story out of Minnesota about Kalin Dao, one smooth-talking Ponzi schemer who bilked hopeful investors out of $10 million: Alleged architect of Ponzi scheme cast a 'spell'.

Ponzi schemes promise investors high returns, and in the early stages the architects of those schemes make good on that promise through "lulling" payments to initial investors, using fresh money from new ones. Dao was apparently extremely good at persuading strangers to part with hard-earned savings.

By the end, according to investigators, Dao's scheme had lured more than 500 clients, ranging in investments from $10,000 all the way to more than $100,000. I'm no financial whiz, but a word of wisdom: if it sounds like easy money, and looks too good to be true... get the hell out of there -- your money is halfway to gone.

secret identities: "s.o.s."



Once again, we've got the latest video preview for Secret Identities, the Asian American superhero comic book anthology. This week's video is a look at "S.O.S." written by Tanuj Chopra and drawn by Alex Joon Kim. This one's definitely a more satirical piece, examining a very timely, relevant world issue in an absurd way.

"S.O.S." tells the tale of Raju "Bobby" Raval, founder of Superhero Outsource Services, aka S.O.S., provides a "super" support system for the thrifty superhero in today's tough economy -- eliminating the costly hassles of sidekicks or extra team members.

Secret Identities hits shelves on April 15. So close, you can smell it. Seriously -- when I get my copy, I'm going to smell it. You can pre-order it now on Amazon.com. To learn more about the book, head over to the Secret Identities website here.

yellow fever for your pocket

Not too long ago, I mentioned the perverted little Geisha iPhone application, where users could keep a virtual geisha in their pocket all the time, and get it to do their every bidding. Weird, I know. The damn thing will literally start dancing when you clap your hands. Some developer with Oriental fantasy on the brain also has a little too much time on their hands.

So I guess I shouldn't really be surprised to hear about an iPhone application like Cute Asian Girls. Not surprised. Yet still, appalling. What the hell? Who's the perverted Asian fetish freak who came up with this worthless app? It's all about "yellow fever," and doesn't even try to hide it. Here's the description from iTunes:
If you have yellow fever, this app is the cure!

Cute Asian Girls gives you HUNDREDs of photos of the most beautiful asian girls you have ever seen. Whether you're looking for asian girls with weapons, or girls in maid uniforms, or even just the casual girl in a summer dress, we have them all! Our photo collection is growing by the day and will continue growing by the truckload. Every day will introduce new photos for your viewing pleasure.

Download as many asian girl photos as your heart desires for free after you buy the app. Use them as your wallpaper, send them to friends, or set them as your contact's photos.
I don't think I have to explain how unhealthy someone who actually downloads and uses this application must be, considering that it shamelessly and explicitly appeals to those with "yellow fever." An exotic, Oriental sex object -- hundreds, actually -- can be yours, right in your pocket, for just 99 cents. The application comes courtesy of mobile development company StuckPixel, Inc. (Thanks, Alicia.)

koh brothers are running the show

Last week, we heard that the White House had named Harold Hongju Koh, dean of Yale Law School, to the key position of legal adviser to the State Department. Cool right? But wait! I didn't mean to forget Harold's brother...

Last week, President Obama nominated Dr. Howard Koh, an associate dean at the Harvard School of Public Health, to the post of assistant secretary for health in his administration: A Harvard dean gets call from Washington.

If confirmed, Koh would be responsible for establishing the nation's public health agenda, handling a vast portfolio that includes the US surgeon general and programs that coordinate vaccines, AIDS policy, minority health, and blood safety.

How you like that? Get ready, Washington. The Koh Brothers are running things up in this place. Howard's got the health and Harold's running legal. Recognize. More here: Koh Tapped To Be Assistant Secretary for Health.

3.29.2009

operation babylift screens this friday



Operation Babylift: The Lost Children of Vietnam, directed by Tammy Nguyen Lee, is a documentary looking back at the true story of over 2500 Vietnamese adoptees who came to America, facing a multitude of challenges and struggles, to start a new life. I first posted an early trailer about a year and a half back.

The documentary will make its world premiere this Friday, April 3 at the Vietnamese International Film Festival in Santa Ana, CA. There's more info about the screening on the Facebook event page I'm informed that they have a new, refreshed trailer here. For more information about the film, go here.

asian arts initiative grand opening celebration

If you're in the Philadelphia area, come out this week and help the Asian Arts Initiative celebrate its Grand Opening, welcoming the public to its new home with a weekend's worth of creative fun, including the Chinatown In/flux opening reception, neighborhood walking tours, a performance showcase, and many more program highlights from the organization's 15-year history. Here's some details on this weekend's events:
Chinatown In/flux: Future Landscapes

April 3 - August 2, 2009
Opening reception: Friday, April 3, 5:30 p.m.


Rebecca Hackemann, Visionary Sightseeing Binoculars
Nadia Hironaka, Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio
Kikuchi + Liu, Chinatown Orange
Jonathan + Kimberly Stemler, the little red string

A constantly contested terrain, Philadelphials Chinatown continues to struggle for identity, survival, and growth. Through four site-specific installations in public locations, with participation of local community members, Asian Arts Initiativels exhibition hopes to catalyze imagination and action toward a positive vision for the future development of this neighborhood.

Asian Arts Initiative, 1219 Vine Street
and neighborhood locations in Chinatown, PA

Gallery hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday – Friday
(215)557-0455 or www.asianartsinitiative.org

* * * * * *

Asian Arts Initiative Open House + Performance Showcase

celebrating the grand opening of our new home

Saturday, April 4, 2009

3 - 7 p.m. Open House
7:30 p.m. Performance Showcase

Free, with donations accepted and reservations for the performance showcase encouraged:
https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/59682

Asian Arts Initiative, 1219 Vine Street, Philadelphia
(215)557-0455 or www.asianartsinitiative.org

Whether you are a regular or first-timer, you wonlt want to miss this fantastic diversity of dancers, musicians, poets, and spoken word artists blessing our new home with a live performance showcase—on what promises to be one of the most memorable nights of the Asian Arts Initiativels 15 year history!

Hosted by Edward Garcia with artists including Pallabi Chakravorty, Las Gallas, Mytili Jagganathan, Sham-e-ali al Jamil, Juliette Lee, Taiyo Na, Hanalei Ramos, Alex Shaw, YaliniDream and special guest musicians.

All Grand Opening Celebration events are free and open to the public. Donations are always accepted!
The Asian Arts Initiative Grand Opening Celebration all goes down this weekend at their new location at 1219 Vine Street. Like it says, all the events are free and open to the public. Fun, free, and you get a little bit of culture for your weekend. Philadelphia, represent. Support nonprofit Asian American arts. For more information, visit the Asian Arts Initiative website here.

the unlikely stars of old partner

The Los Angeles Times has an interesting story on Choi Won-kun and wife Lee Sam-sun, elderly farmers who became unlikely overnight celebrities after their appearance in the documentary Old Partner broke box office records in South Korea: To a South Korean farmer, this cow was sacred.

Old Partner chronicles two years in the lives of the hard-working couple as they await the death of the aging cow that has served them faithfully for 40 years. Doesn't sound very exciting, but the movie has shattered box office records, and has been heralded as a fable bout love, loyalty and rural Korean values.

The film has also made the couple reluctant celebrities. Since the movie's January premiere, the family's home has apparently been bombarded by curious visitors and photographers on a daily basis. This, of course, gets in the way of their daily routine. They just want to be left alone!

You can watch a trailer for the film on YouTube here, but without any English subtitles. I missed this film earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival. Somehow, a South Korean documentary about an old farmer and his cow didn't make it on to my list of viewing priorities. Now, I really want to see it.

all the "single asians"? really?



I really wasn't going to write anything about this stupid video, and just dismiss it as silly foolishness. But you don't know how many messages I received about this in the last week, from folks who were either extremely amused or extremely angry. It seems I cannot ignore this damn video any longer: Yale Group Releases Racy (or -ist?) "Single Asians" Video

The video in question is by members of Mixed Company, an a cappella singing group at Yale, who created a video entitled "Single Asians," an utterly unfunny parody of Beyonce's "Single Ladies." It's just really really bad. Good Lord, did someone actually think this was a good idea?

It's truly cringe-worthy. More than the awful, unfunny lyrics, or that they seem to be having a wonderful time with racial and sexual stereotypes ("Me love you long time"? Really?), or that it's yet another Beyonce parody (about three months too late), I just feel really embarrassed. Embarrassed for these girls for thinking up and going through with the awkward, uncomfortable exercise.

You can watch it here. Warning: you will not be able to unhear/unsee this video after it has entered your consciousness. But you will wish you could get those precious two minutes back. It's that bad.

Knowing that one of my fave fellow bloggers, Jen from Disgrasian, was also once a member of a Yale a cappella group, I was definitely waiting for her comments on this video. She's not kind: Arr the Singre Ragies. And to echo Jen: Thanks to all who sent this one in, you know who you are, damn you.

3.28.2009

help asian american youth in oakland

Oakland Asian Students Educational Services (OASES) is a nonprofit organization in Oakland's Chinatown, serving a predominantly Asian American student population through after school services. Started by UC Berkeley students as a volunteer club over 25 years ago, OASES is now a full-fledged nonprofit providing tutoring, mentorship, and enrichment services to Oakland's underprivileged youth.

However, like many nonprofits in this economy, the organization is currently facing an economic crisis, and is actively searching for innovative ways to raise funds. Here's one way you can help.

OASES is currently participating in razoo.com's "March Goodness" contest, where the nonprofit with the most donor supporters by the end of March will win $10,000. If you take a look at the calendar, there's only a handful of days left in March, so they need your help!

All you have to do is visit OASES' razoo campaign page, donate $10 or more, and you'll be counted as an official OASES supporter and added to the count. If they get the most donors, they'll win the grand prize, which will go a long way towards continuing their mission.

To help out, just click on the link here, register and donate. You can donate as much as you want, as long as it's at least ten bucks. So for the price of a movie ticket, dinner, or club cover charge, you could help OASES raise that $10,000. Remember, it's not about how much they raise, it's about how many individual people donate at least $10 dollars (but you can certainly donate as much as you like).

But you only have until Tuesday, March 31. Any donations made after the deadline -- while certainly still welcome -- will not count towards the contest. Support an organization that's been doing good work in a city that's had so much negative press lately. To learn more about OASES and their mission, visit the organization's website here.

3.27.2009

angry reader of the week: tanzila ahmed



Hooray! 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 activist/organizer/blogger Tanzila "Taz" Ahmed.

an iraq war veteran's race for the fallen

I recently heard from a reader named Robert, who's trying to rally up some support for a good cause... Robert Seo is a Korean American veteran of the Iraq war who lost a friend while deployed. He quit his job on Wall Street to move to South American to volunteer and to train for the Ironman Triathlon. Now that's the life!

In conjunction with the race, he's raising funds for the Jericho Project, which helps homeless veterans get back on their feet. Robert is hoping to raise enough funds to have a part of one of Jericho's buildings named after his buddy Gregory MacDonald, a fellow Marine of B Company, 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, who died in Iraq.

The problem is, he's run into a wall for donations. He's currently looking for donors and sponsors. 100% of the funds go directly to the Jericho Project -- maybe you can help out. Learn more about Robert's story here, and follow along with Robert's efforts to train and fundraise on his blog: Race for the Fallen.

the philippines' first female at the winter olympics?

Check this out. Eden Roa Serina is the first and only snowboard racer from the Philippines on the World Cup circuit. Her goal is to be the first-ever female athlete representing the Philippines -- definitely not a nation known for its abundance of snow -- at a Winter Olympic Games. How cool would that be?

Eden was born in the Philippines, but actually grew up in the United States. Having narrowly missed qualifying for the 2006 Olympics, she's pursuing training full-time to race at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver... and looking for some sponsors. Learn more about Eden Serina at her website here.

the next evangelicalism by soong-chan rah

I recently heard from Soong-Chan Rah, a pastor and activist who's been teaching at North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago the last few years. He informs that he's written a new book, The Next Evangelicalism: Freeing the Church from Western Cultural Captivity, which will be out next month.

The book focuses on the changing face of Christianity (i.e. more multi-ethnic and less focused on white, suburban America). I haven't had a chance to take a look at the book, but I know that Soon-Chan has been a longtime advocate of equality, social justice and cultural understanding within the church.

Longtime readers might remember the Rickshaw Rally fiasco from several years back. Reverend Rah was one of the more outspoken voices leading the charge against LifeWay Christian Resources and their objectionable use of stereotypical Asian imagery in children's Vacation Bible School material.

Check out Soong-Chan's blog here. Learn more about the book at the publisher's website here. The book talks about the Rickshaw Rally incident, as well as the racist Skit Guys church teaching material that was published a few years back. The book will be available next month. You can pre-order it now on Amazon.

3.26.2009

clip from tze chun's children of invention



Check out the official trailer for Tze Chun's debut feature film Children of Invention. You can watch it, along with a handful of other clips from the movie, here. I've already said quite a bit about the film, so see a little bit of what it's about for yourself.

This clip is my favorite, particularly because of the reaction from little Crystal Chiu. Freaking hilarious. To learn more about the movie, which is currently making its way through the film festival circuit, go to the official website here.

florence pan nominated to d.c. superior court

Last month, we heard that Florence Pan, Deputy Chief of the Appellate Section in the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia, had made the short list to fill a judicial vacancy on the D.C. Superior Court. Guess what? She got the job.

This week, President Obama announced his plans to nominate Florence Pan and Marisa Demeo to be Associate Judges in the D.C. Superior Court: Obama names nominations for DC Superior Court.

If I'm not mistaken, this actually make Pan the first ever Asian American judge in the D.C. Superior Court. Here's the official press release from the White House: President Obama Announces Marisa J. Demeo and Florence Y. Pan for DC Superior Court.

china blocks youtube

In a move that surprises absolutely no one, China has blocked YouTube. The entire site. As of this week, the entire nation of China has apparently been blocked access to the popular video sharing website, instead encountering a "Network Timeout" error message: YouTube blocked in China

Google, which owns YouTube, said it began noticing a decline in traffic from China about noon Monday. The last time this happened, about a year ago, China blocked YouTube in an attempt to squelch footage of independence protest riots in Tibet.

Many in the country speculated the latest ban may be an attempt to filter access to footage that a Tibetan exile group released. The videos show Tibetans being kicked and beaten, allegedly by Chinese police officers after the riots.

China, of course, did not directly address whether it has block YouTube. According to a foreign ministry spokesman, "China is not afraid of the internet. We manage the internet according to law... to prevent the spread of harmful information." I wonder how long it will be before this blog is blocked in China. That would be an honor.

trailer for ang lee's taking woodstock



Check out the trailer for Ang Lee's new film, Taking Woodstock. The Demetri Martin intro almost made me think it was fake, but he is indeed in the movie, and the trailer premiered on his Comedy Central show a few nights ago.

The movie tells the story a guy working at his parents' motel in the Catskills, who inadvertently sets in motion the generation-defining concert in the summer of 1969. To be honest, I'm not really interested in this story... but if it's Ang Lee, I'll watch it. The movie opens in theaters this August.

nominate a local hero

If you live in Southern California, here's a cool opportunity to recognize an unsung local hero. Do you know someone who is making a difference by enriching our community and making it a better place to live?

Union Bank and KCET are looking for outstanding Asian Pacfic American men and women who have made significant contributions to improve the community. The stories of selected heroes will air on KCET in May. The categories for nomination are:
Arts - Individuals involved in the field of arts as artists, performing artists, visual artists, design artists. Also included are persons in management/administration levels who work with galleries, museums, culture programs, journalism, etc.

Business - Individuals who are small business owners who have achieved success as entrepreneurs. Individuals in the business field who are not business owners may be considered for demonstrating an extreme passion and advancement in their field of expertise.

Community Activism - Individuals involved in areas designed to bring about social or political change.

Education - Individuals involved in developing educational programs at any level (i.e. teachers/instructors, faculty, staff).

Social Services - Individuals who usually work with people viewed as having special disadvantages such as persons with low incomes, persons with disabilities, elders, persons with mental illness, the homeless.
Nominations must be submitted to KCET by Wednesday, April 1. To nominate someone, go to the online form here. For more information, call KCET at 323-953-5789 and/or email at kcetoutreach@kcet.org. You can nominate as many people as you'd like.

sam yoon reaches out to asian voters... and everyone else

This is pretty interesting article in The Boston Globe about Councilor Sam Yoon, who is running for mayor of Boston, and his unique position as the first Asian American candidate for mayor in a city that has historically been steeped in ethnic identity politics: Trying to walk fine line on ethnicity.

So far, Yoon has signaled an intent to have it both ways when it comes to his race. It interviews, he's said that he doesn't want to be known by Boston voters as "the Asian candidate," and expressing a desire to be a transcendent political figure like President Barack Obama.

At the same time, he's put his his ethnicity at the forefront of his campaign as he seeks to energize a natural base of support and tap into Asian campaign fund-raising networks both from within and outside of Boston. If he plays it smart, he could leverage both sids of his political identity all the way to the mayor's office.

snickers speaks fake chinese


An observant reader named Van recently spotted the above image, advertising Snickers (the candy bar), on a huge billboard off I-95 in Philadelphia. Is there any other explanation for these words other than mocking what is supposed to be an "Asian" language?

Does anyone out there really know someone whose name is even close to "Chew Sum Yum"? This has to be the advertising equivalent of stupid, nonsensical ching chong gibberish. Who's the advertising genius who thought this one up -- a six-year-old? That's racist! (Thanks, Van.)

stop the o'reilly harrassment machine

More on Fox News' efforts to intimidate and harrass Amanda Terkel.... Bill O'Reilly sent his goon producers to stalk Amanda while she was on vacation in an effort to discredit and general smear her. Think Progress is taking a stand against this kind of "journalism," arguing that it's not journalism -- just plain old harrassment: TAKE ACTION: Tell O'Reilly's Advertisers To Stop Supporting The O'Reilly Harassment Machine.
Fox News host Bill O'Reilly employs producers charged with the specific mission of ambushing and harassing those who have said critical things about him. O'Reilly has not only stalked and accosted ThinkProgress deputy editor Amanda Terkel, but he has also targeted at least 40 other individuals in much the same way.

If O'Reilly wanted statements from his opponents, there are alternative, more responsible ways of eliciting responses. Amanda was never asked to appear on The O'Reilly Factor, nor did the show ever reach out to ThinkProgress for comment prior to their decision to stalk her.

This isn't "journalism" - it's a mafia-style harassment operation. It's a campaign of intimidation and an unethical practice that amounts to an invasion of privacy. As Amanda said of her own altercation with O'Reilly's crew: "It was incredibly disturbing. The rest of the weekend, I was constantly looking over my shoulder, wondering how long they had been following me, if they're still following me."

We need to shut down the O'Reilly Harassment Machine. And the best way to do that is to demand that O'Reilly's corporate advertisers — those who are helping to fund this operation - issue a clear statement explaining their opposition to O'Reilly's brand of "ambush journalism."

Click here to tell O'Reilly's advertisers to stop supporting the O'Reilly Harassment Machine.
The goal is to hit where O'Reilly and Fox News where it hurts -- the bottom line, by going after advertisers. Learn more about what you can do to help this kind of dirty, fake-ass journalism here. Go here to send a message to O'Reilly's advertiserss, which include Capital One, Proctor and Gamble, AT&T, Audi and Johnson & Johnson, telling them how you feel about this issue.

turn red from alcohol? you could be at risk of cancer

You don't know how much this news scares the crap out of me... According to new research, those whose faces turn red when they drink -- as we all know, a condition that plagues many people of Asian descent -- may have an increased risk for deadly throat cancer: Drinkers' Red Face May Signal Cancer Risk.

The flushing response, which may be accompanied by nausea and a rapid heartbeat, is caused mainly by an inherited deficiency in an enzyme called ALDH2, a trait shared by more than a third of people of East Asian ancestry. It doesn't take much -- as little as half a bottle of beer can trigger the reaction.

Those who turn red already know this. What they probably didn't know that the "Asian flush" might actually be an unusual warning sign of a serious risk of squamous cell esophageal cancer.

The enzyme deficiency results in problems in metabolizing alcohol, leading to an accumulation in the body of a toxin called acetaldehyde. People with two copies of the gene responsible have such unpleasant reactions that they are unable to consume large amounts of alcohol. This aversion actually protects them against the increased risk for cancer.

The malignancy is called squamous cell esophageal cancer, is also caused by smoking and can be treated with surgery, but survival rates are very low. Even moderate drinking increases the risk, but it rises sharply with heavier consumption. It's all in the article.

Great. You thought it was just annoying side effect of drinking. But ignoring the symptom and continuing to drink is apparently likely to increase the incidence of esophageal cancer. Not only do all these Asians have to suffer the embarrassment of turning red after drinking, we're at risk of cancer too! Damn you, body. This sucks.

"let's go" by crudo / the shinjuku incident



Saw this video recently posted on Facebook: "Let's Go" Crudo (dan the Automator and Mike Patton). The song is "Let's Go" by Crudo, a collaboration by Dan the Automator and Mike Patton. The song is apparently featured in the movie The Shinjuku Incident (or maybe it's just an unofficial fan video cut together to the song?), starring Jackie Chan and Daniel Wu. Either way, it's kind of a cool song.

The Shinjuku Incident is being described as Jackie Chan's move away from action comedy and first attempt into truly serious acting. He apparently doesn't even fight in this one -- which is admirable, but not necessarily fun for viewers who have come to know and love his unique brand of action.

Still, it's directed by Derek Yee, who did a great job with dramas like One Night in Mongkok and Protege. Without the usual Jackie Chan action, I guess I'm curious to see if they even try to market this movie in the United States.

Meanwhile, Ling Liu over TIME informs me that they're taking questions for their upcoming interview with Jackie Chan. Submit your question to the veteran action movie star, and it might just get answered in an upcoming issue of TIME magazine: Ask Jackie Chan.

casting notice for the shanghai gesture

This casting breakdown, for a play called The Shanghai Gesture going up in New York, was recently passed along to me. I don't know much about this production, but judging from the characters and their descriptions, it sounds like some crazy kind of exotic orientalist fantasy. Check it out:
THE SHANGHAI GESTURE
Theatre
V/T: JULIA MILES THEATER, NYC
CONTRACT: NY LOA

Producers: Sabra Jones
Director: Bob Kalfin
1st rehearsal: March 24, 2009
1st Preview: April 21, 2009
Opening date: April 26th

SEEKING:

[MOTHER GOD DAMN] (CAST) Seeking Understudy and possible future replacement. 40's. A former Manchu Princess of Tung Kow, of the great house of Chi-Yan-Ko. Betrayed when she was 20 by a British lover who sold her into brutal sexual slavery, she is now, in 1928, the Madame of the largest most luxurious, most cosmopolitan and stylistically most chic bordello in the world. An internationally recognized beauty who has toured the world, Mother God Damn was painted by Sargent and was a well-known figure in the salons of Europe. Fluently in command of European as well as Asian languages, Madam now has an international clientele of all the top industrial and political players in the foreign and Chinese community. Proud, sensual, mercurial, she has recreated herself into the most powerful and wealthiest woman in Shanghai. Alternately playful and capricious, as well as commanding (sometimes even fearful), she has a distinct sense of humor. With a mastery of the use of theater; she uses her effects to the hilt. Underneath all this is a vulnerable, deeply hurt and deeply wronged woman who has lived and patiently waited twenty years for her moment of revenge and poetic justice.

Seeking Principals and Understudies:

[CAESAR HAWKINS] Early 30's to early 40's. Oxford educated. A tall fair-haired young Englishman, a little down at the heels in appearance. A good man at heart; a somewhat wasted opium addict. Dependant upon her, Hawkins is genuinely devoted to serving his Mistress, Mother Goddam in her luxurious bordello. Her scribe as well as jack of all trades, he is discreet, caring, respectful and considerate. It is clear she can trust him when she needs to turn to someone for help, revealing more of herself to him than she ever would to anyone else. There is something a bit sad about CAESAR HAWKINS.

[LIN CHI] An ancient Chinese man. 'The Mole. Chief Clerk of the establishment. He is a wizened, shrimpish little man with a crooked spine and gleaming eyes behind Babu spectacles. LIN CHI has been with Mother Goddam for nearly 20 years, and knows how she operates. He serves well the woman he thinks he knows, without really knowing her. [Note: Doubles in other roles].

[PRINCE OSHIMA] Early 30's. A young Japanese. Tall and aristocratic in appearance and as faultlessly dressed for the morning as Bond Street can make him. He carries a walking stick and a soft felt hat.' He speaks British English, with only a slight trace of accent. Oxford educated, he is the Ex-Attache to Pekin from Japan. He was not long in diplomatic service - it did not suit him. OSHIMA is what one might call a Japanese 'Playboy' [referred to as a 'Paris Japanese.'] This man's deeds always concern love matters. He is a person of no morals. Elegant, extremely handsome and a nee'r do well. A hedonist with all the prejudices of his class, he was, in earlier days, Mother Goddam's 'pet.'

[POPPY] 20's. Guy Charteris' daughter. 'Exquisite as a summer morning. Everything about her spells youth and 'beaute de diable.' She has the beautiful modulated voice of the well-bred English girl. She is small, slender, willowy and graceful. Yet there is an alien something in her brunette beauty.' The eventual revelation of her Eurasian mixed blood is a total surprise to both her and her father]. Sir Guy's wife died in childbirth, POPPY was brought up by her father to be a proper English young lady. Motherless, the girl grew rebellious, chafing against the conventions and hypocrisy of her social class. Under POPPY's facade, there lurks a defiant monster: a completely out of control alcohol and opium addict, and a self-confessed nymphomaniac. Shameless, rebellious, totally self-indulgent, this young woman has frightening power when unleashed; a virago when thwarted.

[MANDARIN KOO LOT FOO] 50's and up. Ex-Envoy to Russia. The Great Jade King. A man of great wealth. 'He is a tall imposing Chinaman with impressive white moustaches and goatee. He is dressed most elegantly, in rich sober silks. On his head he wears the hat and peacock feather of rank and distinction.' [Think of a Chinese Sidney Greenstreet ' a la 'Casablanca']

[SIR GUY CHARTERIS] mid-40's. Taipan of the British China Trading Company. An Englishman who made his fortune in the Orient. 'A tall distinguished Englishman, immaculate in appearance, with great charm of manner. He is graceful, easy, polished and not altogether unaware of it.' A ladies-man, and an opportunist who bought his way in. Ultimately, a man with no sense of moral responsibility. A betrayer, with the prejudices and hypocrisy of the worst of his class. A deeply shallow man.

[CREEK SIDE MARY] late 40's-50's. A cockney wharf rat. Keeper of a slum brothel catering to 'sea folk' down on the docks. Coarse, with a loud voice, she is 'a nightmare of a woman ' foul, ragged, drunken, broken-toothed, bleary-eyed, shapeless.' [Note: Doubles in other roles].

[SIR JOHN BLESSINGTON] 50's-60's. Port Judge of Shanghai. Pink-faced, portly and bland. He and his wife make up an extremely dignified English couple.

[LADY BLESSINGTON] 50's-60's ' portly, and dowdily impressive. [Note: Doubles as young girl].

[MONS. LE COMTE DE MICHOT] 50's-60's. 'Number One of the Bank of Europe-Asia.' 'Bewhiskered 'a la Napoleon', he and his wife are a French couple of extremely rich and fastidious appearance.'

[MM. LE COMTESSE DE MICHOT] 40's-50's. She is 'somewhat small, mouselike and malicious but very smartly dressed. [Note: Doubles as girl]

[MR. DUDLEY GREGORY] mid-20's, early 30's. Number One of the United States Oil Company. He and his wife make up a youngish and alert American couple.

[MRS. GREGORY] 20's ' Extremely fashionable and pretty. [Doubles as girl].

[DON QUEREBO D'ACHUNA] mid 40's-50's. Charge d' Affairs of Latin America; a Bolivian diplomat. 'Tall and foreign looking, with many orders across his shirt front.'

[DONNA QUEREBRO D'ACHUNA] late 30's, [or perhaps indeterminately older]. A climber. When she looses her 'Spanish' accent, she might sound like Jean Harlowe, revealing her origins as 'Minnie Baxter'. [Doubles as girl].

[CHO TSI] Older Chinese Woman. Mother Goddam's 'Amah' - her personal servant. [Note: Doubles as girl, other roles].

[TSA] 30's-50's. A very large imposing Chinese man; the Eunuch who maintains order in Mother Goddam's brothel. [Note: Doubles in other roles].

[NI PAU (LOST PETAL)] 20. Delicate, very fair and blonde. Exquisite, though dressed in horrid rags. Note: May appear as though she were nude, when put on exhibition to be auctioned off later in the play.
Who dreams up this kind of stuff? If I'm not mistaken, the production is a revival (re-imagining?) of a play that originally ran on Broadway in the 1920s, and was eventually made into a film. Somebody's mad opium haze fantasy of the Orient. Neither of these sound like they were very good the first time around. But hey, eighty years later, there always seems to be more room for more dragon ladies, gambling dens, generally illicit Asian activity in fiction. That's racist! (Thanks, Nick.)

3.25.2009

cold tofu improv present tofu exposed


Lot of sketch comedy going on this weekend in Los Angeles... Starting this Friday, March 27, "the nation's premier Asian American comedy improv and sketch group" Cold Tofu presents their latest comedy show, Tofu Exposed. Here are some details:
Cold Tofu Improv Presents

Tofu Exposed: An All New Sketch Comedy Show

Directed by Stephen Kearin

Featuring Steve Brady, Denise Iketani, John Lau, Jully Lee, Kevin Ocampo, Helen H. Ota, Michael C. Palma and Aaron Takahashi

6 shows only!

Friday, March 27th at 8pm
Saturday, March 28th at 8pm
Friday, April 3rd at 8pm
Saturday, April 4th at 8pm
Friday, April 10th at 8pm
Saturday, April 11th at 8pm

Avery Schreiber Theatre
11050 Magnolia Blvd. , North Hollywood , CA 91601
(Street parking available)

$15 general admission
$12 students, seniors (55+), and groups 10+
Opening Night $25 includes post-show reception

Seating is extremely limited (the theatre seats only 36), so early reservations are highly recommended. For reservations, email us at tofuexposed@gmail.com or call (213) 739-4142.
I've seen Cold Tofu in action before, and they're a funny-ass bunch. This should be another great show. To learn more about the group, and more information about the show, visit the Cold Tofu website here, and their MySpace page here.

spider-man rescues autistic thai boy

This is an awesome story out of Thailand... This week in Bangkok, a fireman dressed up as the wall-crawling costumed superhero Spider-Man to coax a frightened autistic eight-year-old from a balcony: Thai fireman in 'spider-man' rescue of autistic boy.

Teachers at a special needs school reportedly alerted authorities when the student, scared of attending his first day at school, sat out on the third-floor ledge and refused to come inside.

Upon hearing about the boy's love of superheroes, fireman Sonchai Yoosabai jumped into action. He dashed back to his fire station, made a quick change into a Spider-Man costume and returned to the boy, urging him to come off the ledge with no problem.

Spidey saves the day. The question is, what is the guy doing with a Spider-Man getup in his locker? He apparently keeps the costume, along with an Ultraman outfit at the station in order to liven up school fire drills.

meghan mccain interviews supriya jindal

Check this interesting Daily Beast piece by Meghan McCain (yes, daughter of John), who interviews Supriya Jindal, wife of Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. At 37, the youngest first lady in the United States, she also comes across as one of the GOP's rising stars. She talks about her marriage, her reaction to the negative press on the speech, and why her husband converted to Christianity: The First Lady of 2012?

the most badass laundromat in america


In Chicago, Ki Han, the 73-year-old manager of a west side laundromat, stood up to local loitering gangbangers and lived to tell the tale: Chicago laundromat manager battered, bruised, but not beaten.

On Monday night, a man confronted him in the laundromat, accusing him of "snitching." When Han picked up the phone to call police, 21-year-old Bennie Hale punched him in the face. Hale then destroyed computer equipment in the office and threw a microwave on top of Han.

But he's okay. Bruised and sore, but still totally badass. The old timer, a former tae kwon do master and veteran of the South Korean army is tough, stubborn and unafraid. Call him cranky, but he's obviously unwilling to take shit from anyone -- especially a bunch of street punks.

Hale, who has previous drug convictions, was charged with aggravated battery of a senior citizen. He appeared in court Tuesday and a judge set bail at $100,000.

the second most racist laundromat in america?


Following up on the post from a couple of weeks back on the most racist laundromat in America -- U-Washee in Richmond, Indiana -- here's a photo of what might be the second most racist laundromat, spotted and snapped outside Washee Washee in Caseyville, Illinois. Don't you just want to go in there and take a look around?

No idea if it has all the same fun, racist caricature signs adorning the inside... but do note the use of extreme ching chong font out front. They just couldn't resist. I guess the implication is that Asians -- or at least, the obvious suggestion of Asian-ness -- will be extra effective in getting your clothes clean... even if you are just doing the coin-op laundry yourself. (Thanks, Mike.)

detained journalists being "well treated"

More on Euna Lee and Laura Ling, the American journalists who were detained last week in North Korea... The United Stats says that North Korea has "assured" Washington that the two women are being treated well, adding it was "aware" that they faced espionage charges: NKorea to treat detained journalists well: US.

I'm sorry, but do assurances from the North Korean government really comfort anyone? Unfortunately, for now, it's all we really have to go on. U.S. officials are pressing for the Swedish government to be provided with consular access to visit Lee and Ling, who work for Current TV.

In Seoul, a South Korean daily reported that North Korean intelligence officials are questioning the journalists and will likely try to persuade them to confess to spying. South Korea's National Intelligence Service, however, declined to comment, and an analyst said he doubted whether the pair would be charged with spying.

This is a mess. All of it, of course, happening under the shadow of rhetoric, rising tension and speculation overs an upcoming North Korean missile test, and the already-fragile state of six-party nuclear disarmament talks. The issues are supposedly separate... but you can't deny that things are in such a bad state right now, it could have an effect on the release of Euna Lee and Laura Ling.

harold hongju koh named state department legal adviser

As rumored last month, on Monday, the White House announced that it planned to nominated Harold Hongju Koh, dean of Yale Law School, to the key position of legal adviser to the State Department. He would serve as principal counselor on all legal matters to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: Koh tapped for State Department.

Koh, who is considered an authority on national security law, was a frequent critic of the Bush administration's handling of suspected terrorists in detention. In June 2004, he described the quality of legal work in Justice Department memorandums on torture as "embarrassing" and "abominable." Hear that, John Yoo?

Earlier this year, when the Supreme Court announced that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was suffering from early-stage pancreatic cancer and speculation rose about a possible vacancy on the high court, Koh's name was among those mentioned as a possible candidate.

State Department legal adviser doesn't quite have the same cachet as Supreme Court Justice, but no doubt, he'll still play an extremely important and influential role. More here: White House Names Yale Dean to State Dept. Post. And here: Human rights advocate named State Department's top lawyer.

bruce lee vs. iron man



This stop-motion animation video, featuring Bruce Lee fighting Iron Man, is pretty much the coolest thing ever. That's all I really have to say.

baseball's great rivalry, from k-town to little tokyo

It kind of took me all of Tuesday to recover, because Monday night's World Baseball Classic final, South Korea vs. Japan, was a hell of a game. I won't try to feign impartiality -- I was rooting for Korea, and Japan's 5-3 victory in the 10th inning was kind of heartbreaking. I shake my fist at you, Ichiro. I drowned my sorrows with a mixture of beer and cup ramen.

But any way you look at it, you have to admit, the WBC was an amazing tournament, and the final game summed it all up, with the old rivalry making it that much more thrilling. The rest of the United States might not have cared, but on Monday night, at Dodger Stadium and beyond, the fans on both sides were having a blast: 'Baseball War' for Asia's old rivals.

filipino teachers find jobs in america

The Los Angeles Times recently ran a story on a recent wave of foreign exchange teachers from the Philippines who are primarily being recruited to fill chronic teacher shortages in math, science and special education throughout the United States: Filipino teachers exchange homeland for jobs in America.

More than 100 school districts, including at least 20 in California, are recruiting from the Philippines. The Los Angeles Unified School District has hired 250 to 300 teachers from the Philippines -- the largest contingent among more than 600 foreign exchange teachers overall.

Why the Philippines? The Philippines apparently has an abundance of teachers, which allows U.S. recruiters to avoid perceptions that they are taking educational resources needed by Filipinos. And most Filipinos speak English and can understand some Spanish.

And of course, Filipino teachers are lured by far better pay in the United States. Most teachers in the Philippines earn $300 to $400 a month, less than one-tenth what they can pull down in Los Angeles.

It's a pretty fascinating phenomenon. I wasn't really aware of it until I heard about this upcoming documentary, The Learning, by award-winning filmmaker Ramona Diaz. The film follows a group of Filipina schoolteachers who have migrated to Baltimore, Maryland, to teach in inner-city schools. Watch a trailer for the film here.

3.24.2009

steve jobs loves vietnamese noodles


Recently spotted... a Vietnamese restaurant with a very clever name and sign.... but probably a little too clever for its own good. I love it. No doubt capitalizing on the local Silicon Valley tech industry appeal (the Mission Blvd. sign indicates it's probably in San Jose, or Santa Clara, or Fremont), you might just mistake it for the official noodle shop of Steve Jobs. I'm sure the pho is delicious. That said, good luck handling the inevitable legal onslaught from Apple's lawyers. (Thanks, Michael.)

forget this internment thing, we're going fishing

This is a really interesting story from the San Diego Union-Tribune, on Heihachi Ishikawa, aka "Ishikawa Fisherman," one of a number of Japanese Americans who would regularly risk theirs lives and sneak out of the well-guarded Manzanar internment camp to go fishing: Internment camp detainees risked all to fish.

More than 150 of the Manzanar internees apparently "escaped" camp to go fishing. Manzanar was the first of ten internment camps that housed an estimated 120,000 Japanese Americans who were forcibly removed from their homes on the West Coast at the start of World War II. From March 31, 1942 to November 21, 1945, Manzanar would hold more than 11,000 internees.

Cory Shiozaki, currently a docent at Manzanar, and a member of the Manzanar Committee, is working on a documentary, From Barbed Wire to Barbed Hooks, to preserve the stories of how internees busted out of Manzanar to go fishing in the Sierras.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the annual pilgrimage to Manzanar. Sponsored by the Los Angeles-based Manzanar Committee, it will be held Saturday, April 25, 2009 at the Manzanar National Historic Site. For more information about the event, go here.

tae hong choi, tae kwon do grandmaster, dies at 73

This is an obituary in The Oregonian that ran a few weeks back about the passing of internationally heralded tae kwon do instructor Tae Hong Choi, who died March 8 in Portland. He was 73: Portland-area tae kwon do grandmaster pioneered sport in U.S. Tae Hong Choi, who established schools and taught thousands of students, dies at 73.

Choi, a grandmaster in tae kwon do, held a ninth-degree black belt, won numerous martial arts titles and opened multiple schools in the Oregon area, teaching thousands of students during the course of his career. He also helped establish tae kwon do nationally, serving in the sport's governing body in the United States. More on his career here: Grandmaster Tae Hong Choi Passes Away.

recapping capac's national teleconference on 2010 census

As I mentioned last week, the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) held a national teleconference yesterday focusing on outreach to Asian American and Pacific Islanders for the 2010 Census. Here's the press release with the recap:
CAPAC Engages Asian and Pacific Islander Communities to Participate in 2010 Decennial Census

Washington, DC - This afternoon, on behalf of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), Reps. Mike Honda and Robert C. "Bobby" Scott hosted census stakeholders for a national census teleconference meeting that focused on outreach to Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. (audio available here: honda.house.gov/media/2010_Census Teleconference.mp3)

During the call, the Census Bureau, congressional leaders, community stakeholders, and ethnic media reporters engaged in a dialogue on outreach to this growing and diverse population, currently constituting over 15 million people in the United States. Participants hailed from throughout the United States, including California, Ohio, Texas, New York, Washington, Florida, Minnesota, Hawaii, the Pacific Islands, and other areas with significant Asian and Pacific Islander populations.

"We each have a critical role to play to make sure that our communities are counted," said Honda, chair of CAPAC. Honda, member of the Commerce, Science, Justice Appropriations Subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over the Census Bureau, advocated for the $1 billion of census funding that was included in the economic recovery legislation, boosting resources for the constitutionally mandated count. "We need trusted opinion leaders and nonprofits in our communities, ethnic media outlets, and congressional district offices to help get the word out."

Congressman Scott discussed the stakes in an accurate decennial count for Asian and Pacific Islander communities. "It is incredibly important that our communities know about the decennial census, and fill out those forms," said Scott, chair of CAPAC's Civil Rights Task Force. "Certain provisions of the Voting Rights Act, including provisions that protect language minorities, are triggered by the decennial count. The decennial count also affects bread and butter issues in our communities. Each person left uncounted costs a local jurisdiction $24,000 of federal funding over a course of 10 years."

Community advocates highlighted the need for the Census Bureau to ensure diversity when hiring partnership specialists. Terry M. Ao, director of census and voting programs, at the Asian American Justice Center noted, "An accurate census count is extremely important to the Asian American community because census data are used to determine voting representation and to distribute federal funds for key services like education and housing. But historically, a disproportionate number of Asian Americans have been missed in the census. AAJC is working with community leaders, government officials and the Census Bureau to ensure that Asian Americans are fully counted in the 2010 census."

Concerns about funding available for census outreach efforts were also raised. Vincent Pan, executive director of Chinese for Affirmative Action, a San Francisco-based advocacy organization noted, "In this economy, I'm extremely concerned that community based organizations most capable of assisting Census efforts do not have access to the local or state resources that they have had in the past."

Finally, during the discussion, the vital role of ethnic media outlets was also highlighted. "There are more than 800 Asian Pacific American media organizations throughout the U.S. and this doesn't even include the vast number of new media," said Bill Imada, chairman and CEO of IW Group, a full-service communications firm that specializes in Asian American markets. "This figure represents more than a 300% growth rate since 1990. The growth of APA media in this country clearly demonstrates the importance these organizations play in providing culturally relevant and accessible news information to our communities around the country. We need the support of community-based organizations throughout the country to get the word out about the importance of the Census."
You can hear a recording of the teleconference here. It's a little dry, but important. The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus is comprised of Members of Congress of Asian and Pacific Islander descent and members who have a strong dedication to promoting the well-being of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. To learn more about CAPAC, go here.

third season of the sketch comedy show


If you're in Los Angeles this weekend, you should head over to Little Tokyo to check out the third season of The Sketch Comedy Show. The award-winning sketch comedy troupe, presented by Projekt Newspeak, returns for its first show of the year this Saturday, March 28 at East West Players in Los Angeles. Here are some details:
Project NewSpeak presents Season 3 of...

SKETCH COMEDY SHOW.com

Directed by Brian Corpus

Saturday, March 28

TIME:
doors open 6:30 pm | show starts at 7:00 pm

LOCATION:
East West Players
120 Judge John Aiso St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Ticket Price: $15 Pre-Sale | $20 at the door
Tickets can be bought online:
www.projektnewspeak.com
www.sketchcomedyshow.com
www.myspace.com/projektnewspeak

Guest Performers: Vudoo Soul, Derrick Jackson
Guest DJ: Phatrick

CAST:
Davis Choh, Earl Baylon, Jeremy Lalas, Kris Clemente, Eddie Kim, Surina Jindal, John Wrot, Jason Owsley and Jeena Yi
Just take a look at that flyer! Zany, right? Don't miss out. Buy your tickets online, and get more information about the Sketch Comedy Show on their website here or here. In these times, we could all use some laughs. This should be a really fun night.

o'reilly producer stalks amanda terkel

A bunch of folks have written in to tell me about this incident involving Fox News, who apparently sent their employees to stalk Amanda Terkel a blogger for Think Progress. She was followed from DC, into Virginia, across the state, and then ambushed and interrogated while she was on vacation, basically in an attempt to smear and discredit her... all on behalf on good ol' Bill O'Reilly: I Was Followed, Harassed, And Ambushed By Bill O'Reilly's Producer.

I won't get into the issues behind the ambush, but it pretty much stems from Amanda calling O'Reilly on his usual hypocrisy and bullshit, this time involving a segment on rape victims. There's video and analysis of the whole thing here: O'Reilly Producer Stalks Amanda Terkel: THE VIDEO. And here's a Facebook group in support of Amanda Terkel: We stand with Amanda Terkel.

suspect charged in 2003 triple murder

Last week in Los Angeles, authorities arrested and charged 50-year-old Robin Kyu Cho with the 2003 triple murder of a woman, her 2-year-old son and his babysitter, capping a six-year investigation: Neighbor charged in 2003 Park La Brea triple murder.

Authorities haven't said what Cho's motives were for the killing, but according to prosecutors, a combination of physical and circumstantial evidence connects him to the murders of Chi Hyon Song, 30; her 2-year-old son, Hyun Woo Song; and the 56-year-old nanny, Eun Sik Min.

Prosecutors said they have filed a special circumstance of multiple murders, making Cho eligible for the death penalty. The district attorney's office will not decide whether to seek the death penalty or life without parole for Cho until his case moves closer to trial.

the asian moustache disguise


Looks like it doesn't have to be Halloween for racist costumes to pop up in our everyday lives. Jennifer tells me she recently spotted this little doozy on the racks while shopping for school supplies at the chain store U.S Toy Company. It's the Asian Moustache!

Note the totally authentic pagoda silhouettes in the artwork for full effect. At least the caricature doesn't have slanted eyes and buck teeth. Still, what exactly makes this "Asian"? They could've easily put this on the shelf and simply called it "long black moustache" without getting all racial on us.

The U.S. Toy Company website also has the Asian Moustache available with some crazy-ass eyebrows. Three assorted styles! For just $6.99, you too can have the facial hair of Asia. Just throw on a pair of Slanties, and you'll fool everyone! Ugh. (Thanks, Jennifer.)

asian american fraternities and hazing

This is a really interesting article on the increasing number of reported incidents of brutal hazing rituals -- sometimes resulting in death -- among Asian American fraternities: The New Animal Houses. NPR's Tell Me More picked up on the story with its own really interesting, really sad segment: Asian-American Frat Life Marred By Hazing.

It's true, we've recently heard about a significant number of hazing-related deaths among Asian American fraternities. However, I wouldn't necessarily single it out as an Asian American thing. There are fraternities/sororities, sports teams and other organizations that engage in hazing, regardless of race and/or culture.

Having never been involved in an Greek organization before, I can't really speak to why young college students are compelled to join, and then go through the harrowing, dangerous and/or humiliating rituals they sometimes have to endure just to "belong." (I am not, of course, talking about all fraternities, but you can't deny that these practices do indeed occur.)

But I do know when a fraternity is collectively involved, it makes it that much harder for any one person to shoulder the blame and take responsibility when something goes horribly wrong. If they entire fraternity, as a collective entity, was taking part, who is really to blame?

Which member of Lambda Phi Epsilon at the University of Texas takes responsibility for the events that led to the death of Jack Phoummarath, who died of alcohol poisoning as a result of hazing? Who's the sad sack who gets to face Phoummarath's family and tell them what happened that night?

All I know is, hearing Jack's sister Marion in the NPR story, her voice cracking at the mention of her brother... it just breaks your heart. No one should have to go through that. It's senseless.

3.23.2009

secret identities: "the citizen"



All right! It's time for another video preview of Secret Identities, the Asian American superhero comic book anthology. (Is it just me, or does the guy doing the opening narration sound remarkably like Adam West?) This week's story is "The Citizen," written by Greg Pak, with art by Bernard Chang. It's probably the book's most "superhero-esque" character in the traditional sense.

The story follows Frank Murakawa, a Sergeant from the Arizona National Guard who was exposed to unknown chemicals during a training accident endowing him with amazing abilities -- turning him into... THE CITIZEN.
Incarcerated for attempting to arrest the former President of the United States for war crimes, The Citizen finds himself released from prison by the new Commander-in-Chief, enlisting his help.

For the record, I'm told that Greg had written in Barack Obama as the story's President way before he had even won the DNC's nomination -- and way, way before all these other comics did it.

Are you tired of me talking about Secret Identities? Sorry. I'm a geek, I'm excited about this book, and I'll keep mentioning it here until it hits stores next month... and probably some more after that. You can pre-order it now on Amazon.com. To learn more about the book, go to the Secret Identities website here.

"we're on his shoulders now..."

Last week, we heard the sad and unfortunate news that activist and educator Richard Aoki had passed away. During the 1960s, he was one of the few Asian Americans active in the Black Panther Party, and the only one of attain a formal leadership role as Field Marshal. Here's a longer, more detailed obituary for Aoki that ran last week: Former Black Panther leaves legacy of activism and Third World solidarity. (Thanks, Momo.)

judith krant's made in china wins top prize at sxsw

This is pretty cool news... The indie comedy Made in China, directed by Judith Krant and produced by James Choi, took the jury prize for best narrative feature last week at the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin: "Made in China" tops SXSW awards. Here's the synopsis:
Slinkys, Pet Rocks, Ant Farms. Behind each of those great novelties is the story of a great Novelty Inventor. 'Made In China' is the story of one such inventor. Johnson, a self-styled novelty inventor from a small town in East Texas, is determined to bring his big idea -- "a humorous domestic hygiene product" -- to the world. Johnson's journey takes him to the Mecca of the novelty world: China, where anything is possible and everything has its price. Lost in the backstreets of Shanghai, Johnson discovers that it takes more than a million dollar idea to make it to the big time. It takes guts, determination, and a fist full of sneezing powder.
The film also earned a special jury award called the SXSW/Chicken & Egg Emergent Woman Award. Dammit, I'm really bummed I didn't get to catch the film at its world premiere in Austin last weekend. (My panel was happening at the same time as the screening.) I'll have to catch it another time.

Here's an indieWIRE interview with director Judith Krant: SXSW Interview: "Made in China" Director Judi Krant. Here's a short review of the film in the Austin Chronicle: Made in China. And for more information, view the movie's official site here.

stephen chow is pretty much out of green hornet

It's the Hollywood studio project that seems to have hit every single speed bump possible. For fans of the Green Hornet, it's been a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. For the purposes of this discussion, for me, it's always been about who would play the vital role of Kato -- the role originally made famous by Bruce Lee.

We were excited to hear Stephen Chow's named thrown out as a possible actor to play Kato, and absolutely elated to hear last fall that he had not only signed on to star, but also direct the movie. The excitement was short lived, when we heard he was backing out of directing duties. Bummer, but at least he'd still be playing Kato, right? Sadly, no.

According to writer/star Seth Rogen, who was at SXSW last week, Stephen Chow is probably out: "We have no 100% official Kato at this point."

With all that's happened with the project up to now, I'm not really surprised. It seemed like he was on his way out a long time ago. I assume they're actively looking for someone to replace him -- a Green Hornet must have his Kato. But damn, I seriously can't think of anyone who'd be better for the part.

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