4.30.2009

more on john layman's chew


I mentioned John Layman's upcoming new comic book series Chew last month. The series is a police procedural starring Tony Chu, a federal agent who gets psychic impressions from the the things he eats. Yes, you read that right.

It sounds so utterly bizarre, and the more I read about it, the more I'm looking forward to checking it out. Here's another story on John Layman and Chew: John Layman Bites Back in "Chew". The first issue hits stands in June.

Fun fact: Tony Chu is actually modeled after actor Ken Leung, who plays Miles on Lost. If there's ever a TV or movie version of Chew, Layman insists that Ken is perfect for the role. Now, how cool is that?

submit your story about problem gambling

I recently heard from Scott Chan, who is working o a project to address problem gambling in Asian Pacific Islander communities in California. As you probably know, this is a pretty serious issue affecting our community. And between the taboos and shame of talking about such problems, and casinos getting more and more aggressive in marketing to Asians, it doesn't seem to be getting any better.

Scott is gathering resources, vidoes and stories that he intends to make available on a website he's working on, with the goal of raising awareness about problem gambling in the API community. So he's putting the call out to you for your stories.

If you've got a story that could help people understand how problem gambling affects our community, you're encouraged to send it in. They can be good or bad... or whatever you want to share on the topic. It can be about friends, neighbors, family members or yourself. There's no word limit and you don't have to be from California.

Email your story to mygamblingstory@gmail.com. Or you can go here and post your story anonymously. Problem gambling is not something you can easily see and point out. Tell us your story so we can start truly documenting what is happening in our communities.

more on the baseless case against ting-yi oei

Here's a Washington Post editorial on the case against Virginia educator Ting-Yi Oei, the high school assistant principal who was trying to do the right thing, only to find himself subjected to baseless child pornography charges and an ensuing witch hunt that turned his life upside down and effectively ruined his reputation and career: A Nightmare in Loudoun.

In the age of "sexting" and ever-increasing concerns over the convergence of kids, technology and sexuality, it's understandable that authorities, parents and school administrators would want to be cautious and extra sensitive with anything resembling child pornography. That said, it's ridiculous, given the facts, why criminal charges were ever brought against Oei on the first place.

los angeles asian pacific film festival party


Okay, my friends. The Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival starts tonight, with the Opening Night presentation of Tze Chun's Children of Invention. Hopefully, if you're planning on going, you've already purchased your tickets. It's a great film that I think will resonate with a lot of people. Be there, 7:00pm tonight at the Directors Guild of America. See you there.

While I'm at it, I want to throw a quick plug for the Film Festival Party happening tomorrow tonight, planned and put together by some cohorts of mine. If you're planning on hanging around the festival, this is a good place to go and grab a drink, mingle with filmmakers and filmgoers, and just chill out. It's this Friday, May 1 at Wokcano in Santa Monica. See you there as well.

hate crimes bill passes in the house

Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed the Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which will authorize the Department of Justice to investigate and prosecute certain bias-motivated crimes based on the victim's actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or disability: Hate Crimes Bill Is Approved.

Currently, the federal government can only investigate hate crimes motivated by the victim's race, color, religion, and national origin. It will also provide local authorities with more resources to combat hate crimes and give the federal government jurisdiction over prosecuting hate crimes in states where the current law is inadequate.

The bill must be passed by the Senate and signed by the president before becoming law. The Senate is expected to vote on the bill in the next couple of weeks. More here: House Passes Hate Crimes Bill.

vigil held for laura ling and euna lee

Here's a local news story out of Sacramento about a vigil that was held earlier this week for Current TV journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee, who have been detained in North Korea since last month and now face espionage charges: Vigil Held for Journalist Detained in North Korea.

The vigil was held at Del Campo High School, where Laura Ling is an alumnus. Members of the community, friends and former teachers of Ling gathered in support her and Euna Lee. Some of Ling's family members attended the vigil, but said they couldn't go into detail regarding her ordeal due to the sensitive nature of the case.

If convicted on the espionage charge, however, the women could face at least five years in prison. That's crazy. At this point, there's little any of us can do except keep these two in our prayers and continue to spread awareness about the situation.

mtv's twitter-powered alexa chung show


Just read that 25-year-old British TV personality/model Alexa Chung (who?) is hopping over the pond to host her own live daytime show on MTV in the United States, as part of the network's strategy to revitalize ratings and get viewers to care about MTV again: Alexa Chung to front US MTV show.

According to MTV, The Alexa Chung Show is a "one-hour, daily, live entertainment show that our viewers help to create, taking viewer interaction to a new level, making them the stars of the program." It's sort of being billed as the successor to TRL, only now powered by Twitter. So is Alexa Chung -- British and biracial -- being positioned as the new face of American youth?

The Alexa Chung Show will premiere as part of MTV's new season of programs, and begins on June 15. More here: "The Alexa Chung Show": MTV Taps British Model For Show, Will Incorporate Twitter. Wow, does anyone remember when MTV used to be all about music?

racist incident at binghamton university

Heard about another racist incident that recently occurred at Binghamton University in New York... Two incidents, actually, both involving the blatant use of racial slurs directed at an Asian American student, Alice Liou, the Student Assembly's Vice President for Finance. Here's what happened in the first incident, as described to me by fellow student Will To:
In the first incident, following a meeting of Judicial Board and Financial Council, wherein several student groups had brought in grievances against Alice Liou, alleging that she had neglected her duties as Vice President for Finance, Liou happened upon two members of the Student Assembly sitting in an office. The two were Elahd Bar-Shai, Student Assembly speaker-elect, and another member of the SA eboard. When Liou spoke with the two, she was verbally harassed by Bar-Shai, and when she retaliated with a quip on Bar-Shai's thinning hair, he told her that he was surprised she could see it, particularly with her "small, squinty eyes." Alice left the room rather than continuing the argument.
Here's what transpired in the second incident, this time apparently involving a physical altercation with members of a conservative student paper, as described a post over at the APAs for Progress website:
On the night of Monday, April 27, 2009, following a dispute at a Student Assembly meeting, Alice Liou, the Vice President of Finance, attempted to break up an altercation. This near-brawl occurred when a few SA representatives, who are also members of the conservative publication "Binghamton Review", attempted to leave the meeting early. They reasoned that, since they had elected of their own as chair of the assembly for 2009-10, they could then depart, though their absence would leave the Assembly under the minimum number of people required to conduct business, thus crippling the Assembly. As she attempted to separate those involved in the incident, Liou, (who is of Asian-American descent) was told by one of those members to "shut up and go eat a fucking dog" and took a swing at her. At this point, the police were called, and Pipe Dream, our school newspaper, took testimony from Alice--which they choose not to print; instead the editor of Pipe Dream moved to clear the Binghamton Review of all involvement, choosing to take a statement from the editor-in-chief of Binghamton Review over any statement from Liou. Further, this occurred in spite of the fact that all the antagonists have written for and have been involved in the Binghamton Review. Still, we realize that these individuals were not speaking on behalf of the Review but as individuals and should be punished as such.
In terms of student government politics, I don't really understand what's happening here, or what kind of obvious bad blood exists between the parties involved. What I do know is, no one should be attacked in this manner, and nobody should have to deal with this kind of racial hate at their own school.

The Binghamton University administration, as well as the student assembly, needs to respond with appropriate action, or else this will just become yet another instance of campus racism directed towards Asians that simply fades away and is forgotten... until the next one inevitably happens.

Students from Asian Outlook Magazine at Binghamton are organizing a protest during Spring Fling this Saturday at 2:00pm in front of the Cooper Administrative Building, to speak out and call on the student assembly and the administration to action. For more information, see the Facebook event page here: Rally Against Racism and Intolerance.

national aapi house party with konrad ng

Hey, community! Asian Pacific Americans for Progress invites you to join in on a nation-wide conference call with leading Asian American voices, including Konrad Ng (President Obama's brother-in-law), a representative from the Obama adminstration, and APA elected officials.

Take part in the call at a local house party, and afterwards, engage in a conversation with fellow guests. Talk politics, make some connections, meet some new friends. Its happening on Sunday, May 31 at 4:00pm EST/1:00 pm PST.

Hey, maybe you can even host a party. There are currently house parties planned in Austin, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Washington, DC. For more information on how you can get involved, go to the APAP website here.

4.29.2009

paper heart trailer


Check out the trailer for Paper Heart, starring, written and produced by Charlyne Yi. I don't exactly know how to describe it. The film's a pseudo-scripted romantic comedy/documentary about Charlyne's quest to discover the true nature of love, and the real relationship she develops with actor Michael Cera.

I caught this movie at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, and really enjoyed it for what it was. A bit confounding at times, but overall, it's a funny, cute rumination on love, with tender moments from real-life people, and weird, quirky Charlyne Yi doing her awkward shuffle. I'm sure it'll find an audience. The movie opens in limited release on August 7.

jeff chang's can't stop won't stop on sale at amazon

Real quick. Hip hop fans, I just heard that Jeff Chang's acclaimed book, Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hip Hop Generation, is on sale right now at Amazon.com for just $5.99. That's 65% off the cover price! Pick one up a copy for a cool spring/summertime read, or maybe that perfect present for mom on Mother's Day.

enter to win 8asians' asian american arts stimulus package

APA Heritage Month is just days away. If you're in Southern California, here's a cool way to celebrate and patronize three very cool arts organizations... Our friends at 8Asians.com are giving away a pair of tickets to three different events: The 25th Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, Lodestone Theatre Ensemble's Ten to Life, and East West Players' Marry Me A Little and The Last Five Years.

The lucky winner gets a pair of tickets to all three events -- a very cool way to fill up your May event calendar. To enter, just follow the directions over at 8Asians: Los Angeles API Heritage Month Giveaway: Asian American Arts Stimulus Package. But you gotta hurry -- the deadline to enter is this Friday, May 1 at noon.

not another shady asian money manager

Turns out, Danny Pang is Orange County's own version of Bernie Madoff... This week, Pang was accused of defrauding investors out of hundreds of millions of dollars, and arrested by the FBI on suspecion of evading currency reporting laws: O.C. money manager is arrested on suspicion of evading currency reporting laws.

Pang, the founder and former chief executive of the Private Equity Management Group companies, is accused of withdrawing about $360,000 from a company account through dozens of small transactions so he wouldn't have to report the sum to federal regulators.

The SEC also filed a lawsuit against Pang and PEMGroup, accusing him of bilking investors by falsely portraying returns as coming from investments in timeshare real estate and seniors' life insurance policies. The truth is, the whole damn thing was just another Ponzi scheme -- funds raised from newer investors were used to pay earlier ones.

A federal court has frozen his assets, and agents reportedly seized an undisclosed amount of gold bullion during a search of his home. Looks like it's the end of the line for you and your lies, Danny Pang. So... is anybody getting their money back? More here: Calif. financier Danny Pang arrested by FBI.

peter sohn, director of pixar's partly cloudy


Check out this great interview with animator/story artist Peter Sohn of Pixar Animation Studios: Partly Cloudy, According to Sohn. He's worked on films like Finding Nemo and The Incredibles, and also provided the voice of Emile in Ratatouille. Next month, you'll see his work in the director's chair for the animated short Partly Cloudy, which runs in front of Pixar's feature film Up.

Sohn was also served as the partial inspiration for Russell, the Asian kid in Up. He's the worst Wilderness Scout in the world, who becomes the traveling companion of the old dude, and together, they're unlikely heroes of the movie. Take a look at Russell, then Sohn's photo, and you'll see a strong resemblance. Also check out this funny clip of Russell knocking on Carl's door. (Thanks, Dennis.)

aaldef's summer undergraduate internship program

The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), founded in 1974, is the first organization on the East Coast to protect and promote the legal rights of Asian Americans through litigation, legal advocacy, and community education. They're looking for some qualified individuals interested in housing law and environmental justice to work as interns this summer. Read on for details:
2009 SUMMER UNDERGRADUATE INTERNSHIP PROGRAM

Internships for the summer of 2009 are available in the following program areas only:

Housing & Environmental Justice Project Intern: Responsibilities include conducting field research on housing needs in Chinatown, Sunset Park and other Asian immigrant neighborhoods in New York ; interviewing residents; coordinating data from field research for a housing needs assessment; and contributing to a report on Asian Americans and their housing needs.

Description of Summer Internship Program:

The summer program is ten weeks, from approximately June 1st through August 7th. Interns work full-time and are supervised by attorneys in specific program areas. Summer interns attend weekly brown bag lectures on a range of public interest legal topics along with interns from other legal defense funds and civil rights groups. AALDEF also provides trainings in housing law, naturalization procedures, and immigration law. The position is unpaid. However, in previous years many AALDEF interns have been successful at securing independent funding. Academic credit can be arranged.

To Apply:

- Interested applicants should send a cover letter, resume, and writing sample to be received by AALDEF on or before Friday, May 8, 2009 at the address below. Please indicate why you are interested in focusing on the Housing & Environmental Justice Project in your cover letter. For email applications, please write "Summer Internship Application" or "SIP Application" in the Subject. Fax or email applications are acceptable, but email applications are strongly preferred.

- Any bilingual ability should be stated in the application. Bilingual ability is helpful but not required. Chinese, Punjabi, Bengali, and Urdu-speaking applicants are especially urged to apply.

Summer Internship Search (Undergrad)
Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund
99 Hudson Street, 12th floor
New York , New York 10013-2815
Fax: 212-966-4303

For more information, contact: Bethany Li at 212-966-5932 x213 or bli@aaldef.org
Looking for something to do this summer? Want to get some experience doing solid, real legal work in the community? Maybe this is you. But make sure you apply now, because the deadline is coming up fast. For more information about AALDEF, visit the website here.

two young brothers missing in alhambra

In Alhambra, California, police are looking for two Burmese American brothers, 14-year-old Tial Thawn and 11-year-old Hniang Nawl Thawn, who have been missing since last Wednesday: 2 Young Brothers Go Missing In Alhambra. The two boys were supposed to be on their way to a tutoring session, but never arrived. The older brother apparently has a history of running away. More here: Burmese-Speaking Brothers Missing.

Tial Thawn is described as 5 feet 4 inches tall with a thin build, wearing a light-colored hooded sweatshirt, a black T-shirt, blue shorts and a black and white backpack. Hniang Nawl Thawn is described as 4 feet tall with a thin build, wearing a white T-shirt, tan shorts, a black jacket and a red backpack. The Alhambra Police Department is asking anyone with information to contact them at (626) 570-5151.

east high school, home of the orientals


When I first saw this, I thought it had it be a joke... but it's true. The actual mascot of East High School in Rochester, New York is the Orientals. Not the Tigers, or the Mustangs, or the Wildcats. The Orientals. So, say, during football season, or basketball season, opposing teams play against the East Orientals. You can even get your East Orientals apparel here. However, East's mascot is an eagle. What?

Some Googling reveals that there's another East High School in Akron, Ohio -- also known as the home of the Orientals. I'm not making this up! Believe it or not, their mascot is Chang the Dragon. Seriously. To top it all off, the school's website is wonderfully adorned with our favorite faux Asian font. They've apparently been the Orientals for many, many years... and everybody's cool with it. I love America.

bo, the presidential pooch

Here's an ABC News interview with Naren Aryal, author of the new children's book Bo, America's Commander in Leash, starring none other than Bo, the new White House pup: The Presidential Pooch Gets Children's Book. That didn't take very long. But why not? The most famous dog in the world deserves a book. Because children everywhere want to know what this pooch is all about.

asian kid fights back, gets charged with assault

Some news of a racist incident out of Canada... Last week in Keswick, Ontario, a 15-year-old Asian high school student fought back after being hit and racially taunted by another student during gym class. He broke the other kid's nose. Now he's charged with assault causing bodily harm: A blow against racism.

The student is also serving a suspension and could face expulsion. Meanwhile, the other boy, who required hospitalization, was also suspended but wasn't charged. Neither boy can be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

According to witnesses, the other boy called the Asian student a "f...ing Chinese" and after a shoving match broke out, punched him in the mouth, causing him to bleed. The Asian student retaliated by punching the other boy and breaking his nose. Now he has to appear in court next month.

A protest movement erupted at the school this week, with hundreds of students skipping classes to hold a rally against racism and to protest the charges against the boy, who they said was acting in self-defense.

I can't advocate violence... but seriously, you can't blame the Asian kid for doing what he did. Some guy comes at you dropping racial shit and hits you in the face, instinct is going to kick in, and you're going to fight back. The Asian student, who holds a black belt in martial arts, was apparently aiming for the jaw, but missed.

Now, I understand that he has to face the consequences of his actions under school rules, and the law... but what about the other kid? Shouldn't the kid who actually instigated the incident, not only making racial comments but also hitting the other student, also face expulsion? And maybe even criminal charges?

You can't tell me that the Asian kid faces criminal charges because he fought back, but the racist kid is absolved because he's the one who actually ended up in the hospital. That's freaking ridiculous. More here: 300 Keswick High School students hit the streets to protest bullying.

4.28.2009

star trek: I have seen the future, and it is awesome


If you do the Twitter thing, and you follow me, you might have noticed that I had the opportunity to attend an advanced screening of the new Star Trek movie last week. As a lifelong Trek fan, you know I was seriously geeking out. Like, pee-in-my-pants geeking out. And I loved every minute of it. (Yes, I'm gloating a little.)

With the movie's release still two weeks out, I won't spoil it with a full review. But I will say that it's satisfying on a lot of levels, both for longtime fans of the franchise, as well as general fans of solid summer action flicks. There are also apparently a lot of Asians in the future. And John Cho as Sulu? A bit of a badass.

Star Trek opens in theaters everywhere on May 8. I can't wait to see it again. For now, check out the brief clip above of John Cho as Sulu, Chris Pine as Kirk and Red Shirt Crewman (wink wink) preparing to get into some asskickery. And see some more Star Trek clips here. Live long and prosper.

a drop in adoptions from china

For a moment, it seemed like adopting kids from China was all the rage. Not quite so much anymore. This is an interesting article on the recent decline in children adopted from China to the United States: Why Fewer Americans Are Adopting Chinese Kids.

Since 2007, under much stricter guidelines intended to limit the overwhelming number of applicants to China's adoption program, many Americans have been ruled out as potential parents. According to the U.S. State Department, international adoptions from China to the U.S. have dropped by 50 percent.

The new regulations require, among other things, that adoptive parents be married, not classified as clinically obese, under 50, not have taken antidepressant medications in the past two years, not have facial deformities and meet certain educational and economic requirements.

There's also apparently been a cultural shift in China, with more Chinese children being adopted at home. More and more and people can not only afford to adopt a child, but culturally, it's more accepted. Throw in some dramatically changing attitudes towards gender, and it's a whole new adoption game in China.

So what does that actually mean for parents in the United States? I've always been kind of curious what drove the trend of all these children adopted from China. Was it simply the fact that it was so easy, with so many children up for adoption? But now, with all these stricter regulations, will families look elsewhere? If so, where?

gene luen yang and derek kirk kim's the eternal smile


Gene Luen Yang and Derek Kirk Kim's wonderful new graphic novel The Eternal Smile is available in stores today. I got my copy last week and devoured it over the weekend. Simply put, it's another incredible piece of work from these two talented artists. The book presents three very different yet thematically linked characters and stories about escapist fantasy in modern life.

Gene Yang's critically-acclaimed American Born Chinese won the Michael L. Printz Award and was a finalist for the National Book Award. Derek Kirk Kim won all three major comics industry awards (the Eisner, the Ignatz and the Harvey) for his debut graphic novel Same Difference and Other Stories.

You know I was a huge fan of both these books, so when Gene told me he and Derek were working on The Eternal Smile together, I was pretty excited. It's a thoughtful, well-written, beautifully-drawn book, with the same kind of humor and wonder their previous works have evoked.

In some ways, this book was actually over ten years in the making, dating back to when Yang and Kim were first starting out as comic book artists (and friends). The first story in the book, "Duncan's Kingdom," was originally published as a black-and-white two-issue miniseries from Image Comics in 1999.

Also, comic books just take a really long time to make. Gene and Derek note that The Eternal Smile, which took over ten years to make, will probably take you an hour at most to read. That's 60.83 days (or 1,460 hours) of work for ever minute of reading. That said, I think the hard work shows, and it's well worth it. Get it here.

tufts student apologizes for racist incident

Some interesting new developments in the hate incident directed towards Korean American students that occurred a couple of weeks ago at Tufts University... Daniel Foster, the drunk idiot freshman student, who previously denied any wrongdoing, has now admitted to "making racial slurs toward, threatening to kill and spitting at a group of Korean students" at Tufts on April 9: Freshman admits to racial incident with KSA members.

Foster admitted and apologized as part of an agreement he reached with the 13 members of the Korean Students Association whom he accosted. The agreement was made over the past week outside of university channels, although the Dean of Student Affairs largely accepted the terms of the deal. Here's the Foster's letter of apology:
My name is Daniel Foster. I am the one who made racial and ethnic slurs to the students in the Korean Students Organization in the early morning hours of April 9, 2009. I am writing to apologize for the deep hurt that I have caused to these students and to this community. I am also writing to correct the record. I am not going to hide the severity of my words by calling them "obscenities." I was bothering the dancers and refused to leave the common area where they were practicing, I spat at the KSA members, made racial and ethnic slurs against them [calling them "chinks," told them to "go back to China," told them that I would "get them," and "I am going to kill you all," and probably other words that I do not remember.]

My guilt and shame have been eating me away inside. I am genuinely sorry for the pain I have caused not only to the people directly involved in the incident, but for every one else who was affected by the words I sad that night. I know that I should have left the area when asked. I know that there is no excuse for what I said. I know that I should have apologized the next day after I sobered up. That night has haunted my thoughts ever moment of ever day since it happened. The words I used out of anger do not represent who I am. With input from the people that I hurt so deeply, I am taking actions to address the issues that brought those hateful and derogatory words to my mouth.

If I could go back in time I would take back the pain that I have caused to the people I was talking to and the community. I know that there is no reason that the Korea students or anyone else should believe me when I say that I have deep remorse. Why didn't I come forward earlier to correct the distortions in the press that made it sound like I was blaming the other students? If has been like a horrible nightmare that I hoped I would wake up from and see that it never happened. I have no excuse for burying my head in the sand and not taking responsibility and not correcting the facts that were reported and made me look like a victim.

That night has left me hurt as well as confused and unsure. I am left with my integrity; unfortunately this situation has put that on the line as well. This incident painfully reminds me that words reflect values. I, like all students at Tufts, am accountable for my actions. I take responsibility for the events of that night, and I accept the consequences and disciplinary actions resulting from my conduct. My name is Daniel Foster.

Daniel Foster
As part of the agreement, Foster said he would request that the university suspend him for next semester and he would write a signed apology that he would "cause to be published" in The Tufts Daily, not join a fraternity as an undergraduate at Tufts, attend Alcoholics Anonymous sessions and "anti-bias/anti-hate" courses, and enter into and receive treatment from a therapist or mental health counselor.

According to Tom Moon, one of the 13 KSA members who signed the agreement, it was actually Foster who first met and admitted to the Korean American students last week. At first, they were doubtful, but it seemed that Foster was truly sincere about apologizing and regretful about what happened.

I've got to say, this is a shocking turn of events. Not because we've found out that it all did indeed go down as the Korean American students initially reported -- we knew that. I'm stunned by the completely voluntary, thorough and unconditional admission of guilt on the part of Daniel Foster. Just based on the letter, it really does seem like the incident has been eating at him.

Wow. So this is what it looks like for someone to say sorry, what I did was racist and wrong, and I take full responsibility. I've seen and heard about years worth of racist incidents on college campuses, and most perpetrators will deny any kind of wrongdoing until the day they die. It's a refreshing change. No thanks, though, to the Tufts administration for their inability/refusal to take appropriate action through all of this.

kollaboration new york: "closer"



Check out this cool video promoting the upcoming Kollaboration New York show: "Closer," featuring Vu, Marie Choi, G*LEE, Taiyo Na, Magnetic North, Alfa Garcia and SIC. Nicely done. Kollaboration New York, showcasing some of the best and brightest in Asian American talent, is going down June 27 at the NYU Skirball Center. It's still a few months away, so save the date and bookmark the website. (Thanks, Slanty.)

call for submissions: vaff and toronto reel asian

Attention filmmakers! Two calls for submissions from festivals up north... The Vancouver Asian Film Festival is Canada's oldest festival dedicated to exhibiting films and videos by North American artists of Asian heritage. VAFF invites submissions for its 13th annual festival, happening November 5-8, 2009. Read on for details on how to submit:
2009 Call for Entries

The Vancouver Asian Film Festival (VAFF) is Canada's oldest festival dedicated to exhibiting films and videos by North American artists of Asian heritage. It is committed to supporting both emerging talent and established filmmakers. Visiting artists have included Jessica Yu, Justin Lin, and Michael Kang, as well as BC filmmakers Mina Shum, Julia Kwan, Nilesh Patel, Eunhee Cha, and Jeff Chiba Stearns.

VAFF invites submissions for its 13th annual festival, November 5th-8th, 2009. Early bird deadline is April 30th; final closing deadline is May 31st (postmarked - no exceptions).

All films in the Open Call must include a North American Asian in a key creative role (writer, director, producer). Earlybird entry fee: $10 (CDN or US); Regular entry fee: $20 (CDN or US). Entry fee is non-refundable.

Genres for consideration include narrative, documentary, animation, and experimental. Exhibition formats accepted are 35mm, Beta SP (NTSC), and DigiBeta (NTSC) and preview screeners may be submitted as VHS tapes or DVDs. No materials or screeners will be returned.

Awards include a juried award for Best Canadian Short. Programming includes Q & A sessions, panel discussions, a Filmmakers Luncheon, and special gala events.

All screenings take place at Cinemark Tinseltown, a multiplex theatre within the city's Chinatown and Downtown districts. For more information and submission guidelines, visit www.vaff.org or email us.

VAFF is a not-for-profit organization that provides a forum for independent North American Asian filmmakers to showcase their work to both Asian and non-Asian audiences. The society endeavours to represent the often ignored North American Asians caught between two cultures. It provides a cultural bridge between the Asian and non-Asian communities as well as within the Asian community themselves.
The good people of the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival is also currently looking far and wide across Canada, North American and around the world for the best new independent East Asian films and videos showcase at the upcoming festival, happening November 11-15. Some more information:
CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS
THE 13TH ANNUAL TORONTO REEL ASIAN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
NOVEMBER 11 to 15, 2009


Reel Asian is Canada's largest and longest-running showcase dedicated
to contemporary Asian cinema and media arts from Asia, North America
and all over the world. Annually, the festival attracts thousands of
attendees to five frenetic days of screenings, industry events and
galas. We invite you to submit new independent films and videos by
and/or about East and Southeast Asians of all genres.

See SUBMISSIONS GUIDELINES and ONLINE SUBMISSIONS at http://www.reelasian.com

EARLY DEADLINE: FRIDAY MAY 15, 2009 (NO SUBMISSION FEE)
FINAL DEADLINE: MONDAY JUNE 15­, 2009 (SUBMISSION FEE $20 CAD)
Email questions to Artistic Director, Heather Keung at
programming@reelasian.com with subject 'submission 2009' or contact
the festival office at 416.703.9333

The Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival gratefully
acknowledges the financial support of the Canada Council for the
Arts, the Ontario Trillium Foundation, Ontario Arts Council,
Toronto Arts Council, Telefilm and the Department of Canadian Heritage.
All right, filmmakers. You've made your film. Canada wants to see it. But you gotta act quick because both deadlines are coming up fast. Don't you want to show your film and party with the good people in Vancouver and Toronto? Yes you do.

the nail gun murder case

This is crazy news out of Australia... Last week in Sydney, police released a shocking X-ray photograph showing that a murdered Chinese immigrant, 27-year-old Chen "Anthony" Liu, was repeatedly shot in the head with a nail gun: Australian police X-ray shows 27 nails in skull.

Liu's badly decomposed body was last November by two children canoeing in the Georges River. The floating body was wrapped in plastic, wire and an electrical cord. A post-mortem examination revealed that he was shot 34 times in the head and neck with a high-powered nail gun.

The weapon has not yet been recovered. Police appealed for information from anyone who may have seen Liu's late-model Range Rover in the area around the time of his death. More here: Appeal in Australia nail gun case.

4.27.2009

lodestone theatre ensemble presents ten to life


Theater fans, this is it... The critically-hailed Lodestone Theatre Ensemble kicks off its tenth and final season with the world premiere of Ten to Life, four one-act plays written and produced by Nic Cha Kim, Annette Lee, Tim Lounibos and Judy Soo Hoo, and directed by Alberto Isaac. It runs May 2 - June 7 at the GTC Burbank.

This being their final year, they've gathered together some of the writers who have been an important, integral part of the company, and asked them to create a show celebrating a decade of Lodestone -- four twisted one-acts touching on the bizarre and unnatural. Here are some more details:
LODESTONE THEATRE ENSEMBLE
under the artistic direction of Philip W. Chung & Chil Kong
proudly presents the world premiere of

TEN TO LIFE
Written & Produced by Nic Cha Kim, Annette Lee, Tim Lounibos & Judy Soo Hoo
Directed by Alberto Isaac

Starring: Peggy Ahn, Feodor Chin, Ewan Chung, Elpidio Ebuen, Emily Kuroda, Jully Lee, Janet Song, Carin Chea, Vincent Gabucan, Junko Goda & Joon Lee

A census agent exposes a family's perverse, hidden secret...
A desperate loser turns to experimental surgery to seduce his high school crush...
A happy homemaker struggles against an ancient evil that lurks in plain sight...
A controlling psychologist must protect his life’s love from her memories...
Lodestone kicks off its final season with four twisted one-acts touching on the bizarre and unnatural.
It's been ten years... Time to pay.

May 2-June 7, 2009
Friday & Saturday 8pm, Sunday 2pm
Low-Priced $8 previews, April 30 and May 1, 8pm

$16 general admission
$14 students and seniors (w/valid ID)
$12 (groups of 10+)
All Sunday matinees (except June 7) are pay-what-you-can ($1 minimum)
$25 May 2 opening night gala performance (w/post-show reception)

GTC Burbank
1111-B W. Olive Ave.
Burbank, CA 91506

The theatre is in George Izay Park between S. Victory Bl. and N. Griffith Park Bl. Park near the jet plane at 1111 W. Olive and walk past the Olive Recreation Center. The theatre is behind the rec center; the entrance faces the softball fields.
Looks like it's going to be a really interesting show, with cool, crazy plays by Lodestone's veteran writers. They're definitely going out with a bang. For more information, call the Lodestone Theatre Ensemble hotline at (323) 993-7245 or visit the website here. Also check out the Facebook event page here.

barack obama, the first asian american president?

All right! So President Barack Obama has been in office for 100 days. How has he done? He might have made history as the first African American president, but based on what he's accomplished so far, this AFP article suggests he might actually be America's most important Asian American leader yet: Obama the first Asian-American president?

Obama appointed a record three Asian American cabinet members -- Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Veteran Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke -- and has quickly focused his attention on Asia, inviting Japan's prime minister as his first guest, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton going to Asia for her first trip.

There's also, of course, the President's personal connection with Asia, having spent part of his childhood in Jakarta. Then there's his sister Maya Soetoro-Ng, who is partly of Indonesian descent, and her husband Konrad Ng, who is Chinese American (by way of Canada).

But hey, we knew all this. And we've been making these claims for the better part of a year: barack obama, the first asian american president? Jeff Yang laid it all out in his "Asian Pop" column back in July 2008: Could Obama be the first Asian American president? It's just cool to see, only a hundred days later, things are already looking pretty good.

april 29 candlelight vigil


This week marks the 17th anniversary of the Los Angeles riots. The Korean American Coalition in Los Angeles will be holding a candlelight vigil to remember the occasion and celebrate the community's progress since then. LAPD Deputy Chief Terry S. Hara, among others, will be briefly speaking at the event.

It's happening this Wednesday, April 29, 7:00pm in Koreatown, on Serrano Ave. at Wilshire Blvd. To further entice your participation, LA's famous Kogi truck will apparently be parked at the event, serving up bulgogi taco and kimchee quesadilla goodness. For more information, go to the KAC LA website here.

getting dorchester youth off the street and out of trouble

This is cool story in the Boston Globe about a community initiative to help Vietnamese American youth in Dorchester stay out of gangs and avoid street violence, through programs like basketball and breakdancing. The idea is, if they're in here doing this, at least they're not out there doing god-knows-what: A little nudge to play offers aimless teens a turnaround.

The program largely started as a response to a brutal, gang-led beating of two teenagers in August 2007, which was caught on video and widely shared over the internet, shocking the local community. Gangs and violence among Asian youth were nothing to new to the area, but publicity surrounding the incident was a wake-up call. More here: Teaming Up.

bangladeshi american elected to lead naacp chapter

Asm Rahman, a Bangladeshi American, has become the first Asian American to head an NAACP chapter in Hamtramck, Michigan: Hamtramck NAACP picks Asian to lead. Rahman joined the NAACP in 2003 after hearing reports about racial profiling and other forms of discrimination experienced by local residents of Bangaldeshi and Middle Eastern descent following the 2001 terrorist attacks.

Pretty cool see some non-traditional faces stepping up in roles like this. Immigrants from Bangladesh and the Middle East now apparently account for almost half the 68 members of the Hamtramck chapter. The chapter, which is at least 30 years old, had been inactive for about two years. Rahman was elected in February. The national NAACP celebrates its 100th anniversary this year.

There have been other non-African Americans who have served in leadership posts at NAACP chapters, including Peter Leung, a Chinese American who served as the president of the Corvalis, Oregon, branch, and Nilakantan Nagarajan, an Indian immigrant who served as state treasurer for the NAACP Delaware State Conference of Branches.

25th los angeles asian pacific film festival, april 30 - may 7


This is for all my people in Southern California. I just want to make sure you know that the 2009 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, presented by Visual Communications, begins this week. They're celebrating the festival's 25th year bringing you the best and brightest of Asian Pacific American cinema. That's right -- silver anniversary, baby.

Things kick off this Thursday, April 30 with the Opening Night presentation of Tze Chun's debut feature Children of Invention, which I saw earlier this year at Sundance and enjoyed immensely. Watch the trailer here.

So Yong Kim's critically acclaimed feature Treeless Mountain, which opened at the Film Forum in New York last week, anchors the festival program as the Centerpiece Presentation. To learn more about the film, go here.

And it all wraps up next week with the Closing Night presentation of Yojiro Takita's Departures, the 2009 Academy Award winner for Best Foreign Language Feature. For more info on the film, visit the Departures website here.

As part of the festival's 25th anniversary, they're also presenting a special screening of the 1988 Oscar-nominated documentary Who Killed Vincent Chin?, directed by Christine Choy and Renee Tajima-Pena. In my opinion, this is one of the most important Asian American films ever made. If you have not yet seen this film, I recommend attending this screening, on Saturday, May 2, 4:00pm at the DGA.

Other highlights of the 25th anniversary Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival include:

Filmmaking Seminars
  • THE THREE WATCHMEN - One of the most highly anticipated films of the year - WATCHMEN - was the closet thing to an Asian Amerian film without an Asian American cast. Join the film's writer Alex Tse (SUCKA FREE CITY), cinematographer Larry Fong (300) and editor William Hoy (I-ROBOT) as they discuss the creation of the blockbuster from the initial concept and design to the making of and final edit.

  • THE NEW HOTNESS - APA SEXUALTY IN MEDIA - Aside from Russell Wong's watermelon scene in JOY LUCK CLUB, Asian American men rarely get a chance to flaunt their sensuality on screen. Join this candid conversation with some of today's hot talent who are now doing more than just being the take-out delivery boy. At press time Leonardo Nam and James Kyson Lee have been confirmed with more to follow.

  • DIRECTIONS IN TV - Indie filmmakers are beginning to straddle both the feature film world and the television director sphere with great success. For our Asian American filmmakers, the options seem to be opening up. Special guest directors will explore these possibilities and share personal insights into the unique environment of TV directing. Sponsored by the Director's Guild of America.

  • WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH ASIAN AMERICAN FILM? - In the spirit of the 25th anniversary, join the discussion as we acknowledge, celebrate and criticize the past, present and future of Asian American film with two generations of media makers: the legendary Spencer Nakasako (A.K.A. DON BONUS) and up and coming new school filmmaker Tadashi Nakamura (A SONG FOR OURSELVES).

  • HOW TO WRITE A SCREENPLAY - SUCKA FREE - So you want to be a screenwriter? This is one of the Fest's most popular panels for new and veteran filmmakers lead by Kris Young, Weiko Lin and special guest Alex Tse. This panel is always an exciting 90 minutes where these pros discuss the story writing process from idea to finished script to the studio and beyond. Sponsored by Writer's Guild of America, West.
ASIAN AMERICAN FEATURE NARRATIVES
  • CHILDREN OF INVENTION - Tze Chun
  • DIM SUM FUNERAL - Anna Chi
  • ALL ABOUT DAD - Mark Tran
  • I AM THAT GIRL - B. Hayward Randall (written by Grace Rowe)
  • KARMA CALLING - Sarba Das
  • SHIRO'S HEAD - Don Mun; Kel Muna
  • TREELESS MOUNTAIN - So Yong Kim
  • WHITE ON RICE - David Boyle
DOCUMENTARIES
  • VIETNAM OVERTURES - Stephane Gauger
  • CLOSEST MEXICO TO JAPAN - Shinpei Takeda
  • MANILATOWN IS IN THE HEART - Curtis Choy
  • PATSY MINK: AHEAD OF THE MAJORITY - Kimberlee Bassford
  • THE REAL SHAOLIN - Alexander Lee
  • SOMEPLACE ELSE - Kai Duc Luong; Avisheh Mohsenin
  • TIGER SPIRIT - Min Sook Lee
  • WHATEVER IT TAKES - Christopher Wong
  • WHO KILLED VINCENT CHIN - Christine Choy; Renee Tajima Pena
INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILMS
  • 100 - Chris Martinez (Philippines)
  • ALL AROUND US - Hashiguchi Ryosuke (Japan)
  • BURMA VJ - Anders Ostergaard (Denmark)
  • THE CONVERT - Yasmin Ahmad (Malaysia)
  • DAYTIME DRINKING - Noh Young-seok (South Korea)
  • DEPARTURES - Yojiro Takita (Japan)
  • THE EMPEROR'S NAKED ARMY MARCHES ON - Hara Kazuo (Japan)
  • FUJIAN BLUE - Robin Weng (People's Republic of China)
  • GRANDMOTHER'S FLOWER - Mun Jeong-hyun (South Korea)
  • JAY - Francis Xavier Passion - (Philippines)
  • KOLORETTE - Ruelo Lozendo (Philippines)
  • KANCHIVARAM - Priyadarshan (India)
  • LALA'S GUN - Ning Jingwu (People's Republic of China)
  • LEFT HANDED - Laurence Thrush (Japan)
  • LOVE EXPOSURE - Sion Sono (Japan)
  • THE RAINBOW TROOPS - Riri Riza (Indonesia)
  • WINDS OF SEPTEMBER - Tom Shu-Yu Lin (Taiwan)
  • YAMAGATA SCREAM - Naoto Takenaka (Japan)
All this, in addition to the people, parties, receptions, and general community awesomeness happening in the spirit of Asian American cinema. Over the next few days, I'll try to highlight more cool screenings and events to check out. For full program/venue information, and to purchase tickets, visit the festival website here. This website is a proud media sponsor of the 2009 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival.

terrible t-shirt: bwuce wee


Really bad t-shirt alert. As a Bruce Lee fan, I am insulted: Bwuce Wee. But even if I wasn't much a Bruce fan, it's really the description on the website that bugs the hell out of me, simply because it's so idiotic:
Hand's down, one of the gleatest, malsharr altists of oul time.

Bwuce Wee can kick you ass all ovar da prace.

One time he defeat da one hunderd ninja all by himself. And he did it using onry his big toe.
Really? The R/L mixup? You're really going to put that on a shirt? Who is the fool that came up with this brilliant gag? Who the hell still thinks this is actually funny? It was never funny, and this shirt is not funny. That's racist!

texas politics, chinese americans, and who belongs

This is an funny, interesting little blog entry by KVUE political reporter Elise Hu, taking stock and observing some recent moments in Texas politics that have not been very kind to Chinese Americans: Chinese People Not Having a Great Session. Strange coincidence?

She recounts Rep. Leo Berman's "go home!" retort; Betty Brown's inane suggestion that Asian voters adopt names that are "easier for Americans to deal with"; and State Board of Education Chairman Don McLeroy's comments about "crazy Chinese words" on the reading lists.

To me, each incident has the undercurrent of people -- all, unfortunately, government officials -- who have ignorantly drawn a line in their minds about how one defines an American and who does and does not belong. And in these cases, Chinese words, Chinese names and Chinese people are all unwelcome.

Oh, and speaking of which... here's an op-ed piece by Ramey Ko, the guy who found himself at the center of a controversy that made national headlines, talking about what happened... in his own words: Ramey Ko: What's in a Name?

bloomingdale library rape victim, one year later

Last year, we learned about the vicious beating and rape of an 18-year-old high school student in Tampa, Florida. It's been a year since the attack, which left her with life-altering injuries that will require special care for the rest of her life. Known simply as the Bloomingdale library rape victim, the community has valiantly come to her support when her medical expenses became too much for her family.

Here's an update on her condition: In the aftermath of an attack, Bloomingdale library rape victim finds her angels. She turned 19-year-old this past week. She is still unable to see, talk, swallow, stand or even hold her head, but through special care and a lot of support, she has slowly made some progress.

More than $185,000 has been donated for her care, but therapy is expensive, and the cost still extends beyond what her family can afford. If you'd like to make a donation, go to any SunTrust Bank and indicate that the money is for the Bloomingdale Library Assault Victim. Or mail a check, payable to Bloomingdale Library Assault Victim, to: SunTrust Bank, Special Handling Department, P.O. Box 27572, Richmond, VA 23261-7572.

4.26.2009

east villagers serviceasia concert


East Villagers is a new online community dedicated to sharing the stories and lending support to nonprofit organizations and individuals engaging in humanitarian work. The site has been up in and running for a couple of weeks, but the official launch date is May 2.

To celebrate the launch, and to raise awareness about service needs in East Asia, they're throwing a free concert featuring guest band Tim Be Told and hip hop violinist Paul Dateh. It's Saturday, May 2 in Cubberley Auditorium at Stanford University. Some details:
ServiceAsia Concert
Raising Awareness for Service in East Asia

Saturday, May 2, 2009
6:30pm - 10:30pm
Cubberley Auditorium, Stanford University
Stanford, CA

May is Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month and World Hepatitis Month. East Villagers, Asian Central, and the Asian Liver Center presents...

ServiceAsia: Raising Awareness for Service in East Asia

Poverty. Hunger. Lack of Education, Healthcare, and Help.

Featuring guest band Tim Be Told from the East Coast and hip hop violinist Paul Dateh from Los Angeles

Doors open with Pre-Show Concert at 6:30pm, Concert starts at 7:30-10pm, Service Fair and Refreshments to follow. If you work for a non-profit and would like a table at the Service Fair, please contact eastvillagers@gmail.com.

First 200 to signup for East Villagers receives a free East Villagers T-shirt at the end of the show. Once you have registered for the concert on EV, you will receive an email ticket confirmation and parking directions.
If you're in or around the Stanford area next Saturday, come on out, get informed, and get involved. For more information about the event, and to get your ticket (it's free, but you have to register), go here. Also see the Facebook event page here. Watch the concert trailer here. And to learn more about East Villagers, go here.

willa chen, standardized test asskicker

All right, kids. Hide this article from your parents... Willa Chen, a senior at Canton High School in southeast Michigan, got perfect scores on the ACT, the SAT and the PSAT. Take that, College Board: Genius: Michigan Student Aces ACT, SAT, PSAT. Because, hey, why ace just one?

Willa, who says she doesn't think she studied a lot(?!), participates in the Math Olympiad and enjoys jazz, tap and ballet dancing. She plans to attend Princeton University... where no one will care what she got on her standardized tests, and she can continue to kick ass in all sorts of other ways.

"I like boys" music video from the people I've slept with



Check out this music video, "I Like Boys" by the Fabulous Miss Wendy, from Quentin Lee and Koji Steven Sakai's indie sex comedy The People I've Slept With, starring Karin Anna Cheung, Wilson Cruz, Archie Kao, Lynn Chen and James Shigeta. Lots of shirtless dudes dancing around, along with some interesting, enticing footage from the movie.

You can also catch another music video from The People I've Slept With, "Crazy Fucked Up Bitch," also by the Fabulous Miss Wendy, in the Cinema Musica program next week at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival. Not sure when you'll be able to see the actual movie, but bookmark and keep checking the website (not much on there yet) for details.

vote in the b real film contest

My friends at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival and Gilead Sciences, Inc. invited submissions to the Festival's first ever B Real Film Contest to raise awareness within the Asian Pacific American community about hepatitis B. Hepatitis B is a life-threatening liver disease affecting as many as 2 million people in the United States -- more than half of whom are Asian Pacific American.

The contest received 29 short films from 19 talented filmmakers. An expert panel reviewed and ranked all the submissions. Gilead has selected the Grand Prize winner, which will be honored at the Festival's Opening Night ceremony and be shown before each program throughout the Festival.

Now it's your turn to vote. One film will be the recipient of the Community Response Award -- chosen by you. Go here to vote for the film you think is the most effective at raising hepatitis B awareness in the Asian Pacific American community. The filmmaker with the most votes will receive the Community Response Award -- and a cash prize -- on Closing Night of the Festival.

patriots pick patrick chung

Some football news... This week in the NFL Draft, the New England Patriots picked safety Patrick Chung from the University of Oregon in the second round with the 34th pick. Chung played four season for the Ducks and earned a reputation as one of the best safeties in college football, recording 370 tackles in his career, including 90 in 2008. He also holds the distinction of starting more games than any other defensive player in Oregon history, having started 51 straight games during his collegiate career. More here: Patriots trade down, select Chung. And here: Patrick Chung analysis.

4.24.2009

daichi the beatboxer



Daaaaaaamn. I am stunned by what I just watched. I do not know how this kid produces the sounds that emerge from from his mouth, but it's absolutely amazing: Daichi for Beatbox Battle Wildcard. Good luck, Daichi. I hope you win, because you're friggin' brilliant.

justice for joseph han

Some follow-up on the case of Joseph Han, the 23-year-old man who was tragically shot and killed in his home by Folsom police two weeks ago. According to his family, what police and media are reporting, and what actually transpired, are two different things entirely. (Full disclosure: though I did not know him very well, Joseph was a family friend.)

Reporting on the incident thus far has heavily favored the police's account of what happened, painting Joseph as a crazed, "knife-wielding man." But his family says that he had been tasered, placed in hancuffs, then shot. Why was it necessary to shoot him?

His family and friends are now calling on the community for help, to seek justice and spread public awareness about what really happened that morning, and question why Joseph Han had to be shot to death. They're holding a public informational meeting tomorrow to discuss the case and their next steps. It looks like a lot of details are still coming together:
1st Conference for Joseph Han - APRIL 25th

We have arranged a conference meeting for:
Saturday, April 25th at 7 PM at the Korean Culture Center.
3641 S Port Dr.
Sacramento, CA
Chris Lim, a criminal justice professor, is going to be presenting a PowerPoint presentation regarding our rights to a peaceful assembly.

We will also have several leaders from the Korean community coming to speak to us, so that we could work cohesively with the larger scope of the community. The president of the Korean American Association has informed several people about this conference, so hopefully we get some important people that can help us voice our opinion.

If you know anyone in the Folsom community that is knowledgeable about citizen rights and Joe's case, (it could be yourself) please let me know. The more speakers that are well-informed, the better.

Please tell everyone you know. Anyone who feels strongly about Joe's injustice, or about the unfairness of this case at all, are more than welcomed to come. We want people to come and voice their opinions!

The media should not be contacted. This is our time to come together and think of what we should do next. We should decide on several things:

1) Silent protest/Verbal protest
2) Signs/slogans
3) How we want to be portrayed to the public
4) If we want to have a benefit (as mentioned by Dung)

Tell everyone and spread the word.

Remember, it was the police that created the confrontation. It was the police that were the aggressors in this case. It shouldn't have been that way at all.
This is about justice for Joseph Han and his family. The only way they're going to get to the bottom of what really happened is if the community stands behind them. And that starts with spreading the word. If you're near Sacramento, and inclined to help with this cause, oome out to the meeting on Saturday. More details on this Facebook event page here.

angry reader of the week: jack song



After skipping a week, it's time for another Angry Reader, 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 was actually supposed to be last week's reader, but Jack Song is a busy man. So it better be double good...

kissing cousins opens at the naz 8 cinemas


Okay, this is for film fans in California... Amyn Kaderali's indie romantic comedy Kissing Cousins opens today, Friday, april 24, at the Naz 8 Cinemas in Fremont (in Bay Area) and Artesia (in So. Cal). I caught this movie last year when it was the Centerpiece Presentation at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, where it played to a packed house.

Samrat Chakrabarti is Amir, a "Relationship Termination Specialist"... basically, he breaks up with people. Or rather, breaks up for people, for a fee. Really good at that, but not successful when it comes to his own love life. Until Zara (Rebecca Hazlewood), his gorgeous, charming cousin comes along. Wait. What?

The film is a funny, fresh take on the Desi romantic comedy that manages to be cute and sweet while at the same time completely awkward and uncomfortable... which equals some great laughs.

It's a crowd pleaser, thanks in part to the performances from the movie's two attractive leads, as well as its great supporting cast, which includes Gerry Bednob, David Alan Grier, and P.J. Byrne. Even Jaleel White. Yes, Urkel.

So... if you happen to be near Artesia or Fremont this weekend, buy yourself and ticket for Kissing Cousins. You can catch Obsessed some other time. And spread the word! Indie film distribution is not easy, and Amyn and Co. could use all the help they can get. Watch the trailer, and learn more about the movie, at the Kissing Cousins website here.

ping pong prodigies headed to world championships

You know who's awesome? 13-year-old Ariel Hsing and 12-year-old Lily Zhang, two youngsters who will be representing the United States next week at the 2009 World Table Tennis Championships in Yokohama, Japan: U.S. Child Prodigies will Compete at the World Championships.

Lily, the youngest U.S. table tennis team member in history, was named as the "Coaches Selection" to fill the 4th position on the women's team: Lily Zhang becomes Youngest US Team Member in History.

These two take their ping pong seriously. Here's a YouTube video of both Ariel and Lily playing each other at the 2008 U.S. Nationals: 2008 U.S. Nationals - L. Zhang vs. A. Hsing - game 5. Awesome. And good luck. (Thanks, Jojo.)

digging in to san jose last chinatown

This is an interesting story from the San Jose Mercury News about a recent excavation near San Jose's Japantown that unearthed the remnants and artifacts of Heinlenville, a walled community that was home 2,000 Chinese immigrants circa the 1880s -- the city's last Chinatown: 'The Big Dig' gives glimpse into life in San Jose Chinatown 100 years ago.

The five-acre site was the city's vehicle maintenance yard for decades, and was cleared early last year for a housing development. The archaeological dig is part of a required environmental impact study.

So far, archaeologists and anthropologists have unearthed all sorts of interesting items, including an intact Chinese rice bowl with a bamboo design, a child's jade bracelet, iridescent homeopathic glass vials, piles of pottery shards, bones of fish, pigs and cows, as well as bone toothbrushes, ceramic and glass gaming pieces, and buttons.

During the race riots of 1880, arsonists, determined to drive the Chinese out of San Jose, torched the old Chinatown on Market Street. The displaced immigrants found a friend in John Heinlen, who built the community with an eight-foot fence to protect residents from outsiders. The area became an important site for Chinese and Japanese agricultural workers in the valley.

north korea to indict laura ling and euna lee

North Korea has decided to indict Laura Ling and Euna Lee, the two American journalists detained five weeks ago at the China/North Korea border on charges of illegally entering the country and committing "hostile acts": North Korea Decides to Indict 2 U.S. Reporters

According to KCNA, North Korea's state-run news agency, the government has completed its investigation and has formally decided to put them on trial based on "confirmed criminal data." However, it did not specify what actual charges the two will face. More here: 2 US journalists to be tried in North Korea.

Tensions between North Korea and the United States are high, after the North launched a long-range rocket on April 5. Throw in the arrest of these two journalists, and it's full-fledged mess. North Korea likely to use the trial as political leverage against the United States.

Meanwhile, Laura Ling and Euna Lee are caught in the middle of a political standoff between Pyongyang and Washington. Amnesty International has said it doubted that they will receive a fair trial, given the North Korean judicial system's lack of independence or transparency. I continue to pray for their safe return.

4.23.2009

danny cho vs. d-wade



Recently spotted my man Danny Cho in this funny commercial for T-Mobile. I guess it's for a promotional contest where the winner could go head-to-head with Dwyane Wade for a chance at $50,000.

Danny is part of this crew who, judging from their skills on the court, appear to have absolutely no chance of beating D-Wade. In any contest. It's funny.

Yes, I know, it sort of plays into the awkward Asian geek stereotype... but let the record show that all the guys are pretty geeky, and there's nothing to accent Danny's Asian-ness. And he's damn funny. Love that leg kick.

present tense biennial: chinese character


I recently heard about this interesting contemporary art show that's happening in San Francisco, running May through August: Present Tense Biennial: Chinese Character. Guest curated by Kevin B. Chen from Intersection for the Arts, the show features work by 30 young contemporary artists displayed at both the Chinese Culture Center and in storefront windows around Chinatown. Details:
PRESENT TENSE Biennial: Chinese Character
31 artists reflect on and reinterpret contemporary Chinese culture

Presented by the Chinese Culture Center in collaboration with Kearny Street Workshop, this biennial exhibition showcases vibrant and diverse perspectives on contemporary Chinese culture. Featuring artists from the Bay Area and beyond, the show includes a wide array of media at the Center’s main gallery and in storefronts throughout Chinatown.

Curated by Kevin B. Chen with Abby Chen & Ellen Oh.

Chinese Culture Center
750 Kearny Street, 3rd Floor
San Francisco, CA 94108
www.c-c-c.org
415-986-1822

Satellite Installation throughout Chinatown:
55 Columbus Street
664, 665 and 667 Clay Street
17 Walter U. Lum Place
704, 708, 701 and 716 Kearny Street

May 1 – August 23, 2009

Gallery Hours: Tuesdays – Saturdays 10 am to 4 pm
Sundays 12 noon to 4 pm

ADMISSION: Free
Some of the artists include Ken Lo, who is doing a storefront installation about a fake shoe line called K Lo; Fang Lu, who has a video piece called "Straight Outta HK"; Thomas Chang, a photographer who documented a half-constructed, now abandoned Chinese theme park in Florida; and Sergio de la Torre, who has a video piece he shot in Tijuana with Mexican-Chinese teens.

It all revolves around a contemplation of what Chinese culture means today. I was looking through some of the online gallery images, and it looks like it's going to be a really cool, fasinating exhibition. And it's all on view, free to the public, May 2 - August 23. For more information, go to the Present Tense Biennial website here.

dude takes a shot at dog

Saw this one on CNN the other day... This is not just a story about a Asian guy with a gun. This is about an Asian guy who took a shot at none other than Duane "Dog" Chapman. Yes. Dog the Bounty Hunter of A&E reality show fame. And the cameras were apparently rolling: Bondsman: Springs confrontation caught on tape.

"Dog" and his bounty hunter crew were out to nab bail jumper Hoang Nguyen, who is accused of missing a court date last month on a domestic violence charge. When they found him, Nguyen fired a single shot from a handgun and then fled on a motorcycle. But they managed to catch him later that night. More here: 'Bounty Hunter' reality TV star says fugitive shot at him.

asians on tv: bones

I've been tipped that there will be Asians on tonight's episode of Bones. Chinatown episode? I have no idea. But there are certainly enough Asian names in the guest star cast to indicate that there will be an Asian related storyline... Here's the episode description, according to the Fox website:
Booth's detective friend, Ken Nakamura, calls him from Tokyo in a panic when his sister Sachi goes missing in Washington. Booth and Brennan are on the case, and their investigation leads them to a canal where they find Sachi's decapitated head. Booth and Brennan meet up with Ken and trace his sister's life away from home, and their investigation leads them to an elite escort service. When they discover that her roommate is also missing, they must race against the clock to find Sachi's killer.
Uh oh. "Elite escort service"? Tune in and find out, I guess. The episode guest stars Brian Tee, Ally Maki, Robert Wu, Yuji Okumoto, Jina Song, and Jane Park Smith. And of course, there's Michaela Conlin in the starring cast.

battle royale la 2009


This sounds like a pretty cool event for dance fans in the Los Angeles area... Omega Sigma Tau, UCLA's largest and oldest Asian American fraternity, is throwing their fourth annual dance competition, Battle Royale, to raise money for Budokan, the Little Tokyo Recreation Center. Here are some specifics:
Battle Royale 2009

Who: Omega Sigma Tau

Date: Friday May 1st, 2009

Time: Doors open at 9:30pm

Location: Union Station, 800 N Alameda St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Dance Teams: ACA Hip Hop, Samahang Modern, NSU Modern, DSC

Guest Judges: Katee Shean (So You Think You Can Dance), Mike Song (America's Best Dance Crew), Taeko Carroll (America's Best Dance Crew)

Spinning: DJ Bizzy
Budokan, a project of the Little Tokyo Service Center, is a state-of-the-art sports community complex in the heart of Los Angeles, designed to accommodate basketball, volleyball, social service programs, and special events throughout the year. To learn more about it, go here.

The competition will feature UCLA's premiere dance teams: NSU Modern (Nikkei Student Union), Samahang Modern (Samahang Pilipino), and ACA Hip Hop (Association of Chinese Americans), with an exhibition from Dance and Spirit Club (DSC), an exclusive crew consisting of the best dancers from each dance team.

And check this out. The event's judges are Taeko Carroll from America's Best Dance Crew's Fysh N' Chicks, Mike Song from Kaba Modern, and Katee Shean from So You Think You Can Dance. You know I'm a fan.

It's all going down on Friday, May 1 at Union Station in Los Angeles. Dance, community, and good times. And it's all for a great cause. For more information about the event, including how to purchase tickets, go to the Battle Royale website here, and the Facebook event page here.

asian students targeted in campus attack

In Lancaster, Pennsylvania, police are investigating a racially-motivatd attack involving Asian students from Franklin & Marshall College. Three Asian students were walking on the street early Sunday morning when they were attacked by a group of people who physically attacked and shouted racial slurs at them: Pa. college reports racial slurs, physical attack.

Thankfully, no one was seriously hurt. Campus safety officers broke up the confrontation and referred the investigation to city police. But it looks like some in the larger group were also Franklin & Marshall students. I guess there are assholes at every school. Here's the official statement from the school:
"At about 2:30 a.m. Sunday, April 19, two Asian and one Asian-American Franklin & Marshall students were confronted and subjected to racial insults. Two were physically assaulted by members of another, larger group of young people on Nevin Street. It currently appears that some or all of the larger group were male Franklin & Marshall students. Neither of the assaulted students was critically injured, but one student received medical treatment.

Public Safety officers arrived on the scene and acted swiftly, ending the incident. They initiated the investigation and have referred the case to the Lancaster Bureau of Police, which has begun a criminal investigation. The college is launching its own investigation pursuant to our student judicial process.

The Franklin & Marshall community condemns the use of racial insults and physical violence. This behavior undermines the values of mutual respect and trust that are at the very foundation of the Franklin & Marshall community and are essential to its healthy, diverse and civil community."
Why does it seem like we're hearing about crimes like this occurring on college campuses more and more frequently, on a regular basis? Why can't an Asian guy just walk down street, minding their own business, without being hassled and attacked by a group of racist assholes? Friends of the victims are holding a rally for tolerance on Friday afternoon. More here: 2 Asian Students Targeted In Attack. And here: Asian students at Franklin & Marshall College attacked.

kia comes to town


This is a really interesting story about the small rural town of West Point, Georgia, which is getting some relief in these tough economic times from an unlikely source -- a Korean car company. Kia Motors Corporation is opening a new automobile manufacturing plant here, and for many residents, it's like blessing from heaven: One Town's Rare Ray of Hope: New Auto Plant.

Considering the harsh reality of the recession, a new auto plant in town -- and with it, jobs -- is like winning the economic lottery. This also means a new influx of Korean workers, restaurants and businesses. The Koreans are coming! And West Point is apparently loving it...

call for submissions: anthology of hmong american literature

Calling all Hmong American writers! I recently learned about the Hmong American Writers' Circle (HAWC), founded in 2004 as a forum to discover and foster creative writing within the Hmong community. HAWC coordinates monthly writing workshops, and provides educational/professional support and networking opportunities to emerging writers in California's Central Valley.

Now, they're looking for submissions. They've got a publishing contract with Heyday Books to publish an anthology of literary writing focused on the Hmong American experience -- the first book about Hmongs in California written and edited by Hmongs. But they need more writers and stories from Hmongs in the Central Valley. Maybe that's you. For submission guidelines, go here.

anoop gets the boot

Ah, alas. Anoop Desai, our guy with the golden voice, was eliminated last night from American Idol. Having found himself in the bottom three for several weeks in a row, it was kind of a long time coming. But many of us were hanging on to hope that he charm his way to the end. It was not meant to be:
Anoop Desai and Lil Rounds make classy 'American Idol' exits
. It's back to Chapel Hill for you, Anoop. You had a good run.

oh no you did not just try to stump steven chu

This is hilarious, in a you're-a-freaking-idiot kind of way. According to his Twitter, Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) seems to be under the smug impression that he "baffled" Secretary of Energy Steven Chu -- make that Nobel Prize-winning Secretary of Energy Steven Chu -- with a basic science question: Rep. Joe Barton: I 'Stumped' Nobel Prize Winning Scientist.

Barton, so savvy with the Tweeting, is referring to this exchange, in which he asks Chu -- I kid you not -- where oil comes from. The Congressman seems to interpret Chu's stumbly response as a "gotcha!" moment. No, dude. Dr. Chu is just "baffled" by the fact that anyone would waste his time with such a dumbass question.

4.22.2009

a gaythering storm


To fully understand this, you must first be familiar with the National Organization for Marriage's laughably bad "Gathering Storm" commercial. Did you watch it? Yeah, I told you. It's really bad. Sorry. Okay, now watch this parody on Funny or Die, featuring a number of recognizable faces... including our man Sulu, aka George Takei: A Gaythering Storm. Now that is funny.

still the "other"

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Following up on revealing survey results it released over eight years ago, this week, the Committee of 100 released a new report on the perceptions of Asian Americans. And it's pretty much what you'd expect. Here's the press release (PDF): SURVEY INDICATES THAT ASIAN AMERICANS ARE STILL THE “OTHER” DESPITE CONTRIBUTIONS TO U.S.

The report indicates that, despite a positive trend in attitudes toward Asian Americans, racial discrimination and suspicions still exist. Surprise, surprise. According to the survey -- even in 2009 -- the majority of the general population cannot make a distinction between Chinese Americans and Asian Americans in general, treating all as one generic, monolithic ethnic group.

Sure, we've made strides, and there has definitely been significant progress on a lot of levels. But no matter how you slice it, there are still just a lot of people out there who can't seem to wrap their head around the fact that we are indeed Americans too. In the eyes of many, we're still apparently outsiders. Most notable in the dat are the misperceptions around:
- Loyalty of Asian Americans: Despite the approximately 59,141 Asian Americans serving in active duty in the U.S. Armed Services, and the more than 300 Asian Americans who have been injured or died in Operation Iraqi Freedom, there are still suspicions about the loyalty of Asian Americans. Among the general population, 45 percent believe Asian Americans are more loyal to their countries of ancestry than to the United States, up from 37 percent in the 2001 survey. In contrast, approximately three in four of the Chinese Americans surveyed say Chinese Americans would support the United States in military or economic conflicts, compared to only approximately 56 percent of the general population who agrees.

- Political Influence: While the Asian American community celebrated the cabinet appointments of members to the Obama administration - Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, and Veterans Affairs Secretary General Eric Shinseki - there is a significant lack of representation among other federal, state and local elected leadership. There are currently six Asian American members of the House of Representatives from continental U.S. states and two Senators from Hawaii (no Senator from a continental U.S. state), and only one Governor, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana. C-100's survey reports that 36 percent of the general population thinks that Asian Americans have the right amount of power and influence in Washington, while only 15 percent of Chinese Americans believe this to be true. However, 47 percent of the general population believes that Asian Americans have too little power in Washington, with 82 percent of Chinese Americans agreeing.

- Leadership in Education Institutions & Corporate America: Although stereotypes around Asian Americans as the "model minority" continue to be perpetuated in educational institutions and in the workforce, the presence of Asian Americans is not matched with representation in leadership.

- Education: The report shows that 65 percent of the general population believes Asian American students are adequately represented on college campuses, with 45 percent of Chinese Americans agreeing and 36 percent arguing that they are underrepresented. In reality, there are only 33 Asian American college presidents in the United States (out of about 3,200) and, while analysis shows that among the top sector of higher education institutions - as listed in U.S. News & World Report's 2005 rankings - Asian Americans are well represented as students (6.4 percent) and faculty (6.2 percent), only about 2.4 percent are represented in the positions of president, provost or chancellor.

- Corporate America: Similarly, while Asian Americans hold only about 1.5 percent of corporate board seats among Fortune 500 Companies, 3 C-100's report found that 50 percent of the general population believes Asian Americans are adequately represented on corporate boards, while only 23 percent of Chinese Americans agree. Forty-six percent of the general population also believes Asian Americans are promoted at the same pace as Caucasian Americans, with only 29 percent of Chinese Americans saying the same.
The full report, available as a PDF, can be downloaded from the Committee of 100's website here. Next week, C-100 will be conducting a panel discussion in Washington D.C. to address the report findings. It's Thursday, April 30 at the Committee's 18th Annual Conference. Panelists will include Congressman Mike Honda; Charles Cook, Cook Political Report; Antonia Hernandez, California Community Foundation; and Ralph Everett, Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. For more information, go here.

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