*

 

10.31.2006

Archived Posts - October 2006



10.31.06

Pasadena businessman Ming Hsieh has donated $35 million to his alma mater, the University of Southern California: A billionaire alumnus gives back to USC. Hsieh became a billionaire when Cogent Inc., which makes fingerprint identification systems, went public in 2004. Now he's giving back, I guess. Pssh. Like 'SC really needs the money. The $35 million donation created the Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical Engineering, apparently the largest amount given to any engineering department in the country. Here's the story from the Daily Trojan: Alumnus gives $35 million to Viterbi

10.31.06

Asian Americans are growing in political clout in the United States and could be crucial to the outcome of upcoming legislative elections: Asian-Americans flex muscle in US elections. It's time to stand up and be counted, my people! Remember to vote next week.

10.31.06

Happy Halloween. With all the North Korea news lately, it's no surprise that Kim Jong Il was a costume favorite this year (aside from the sexy outfits, apparently): Sexy Wins Halloween Costume Contest

10.31.06

News flash—there are a lot of Asians in Irvine, especially Chinese Americans: U.S. Asians drawn to life in Irvine. One of the residents quoted in the story likens Irvine to Chinatown. I think this description would fit a lot of cities in Orange County.

10.31.06

Over the weekend, South Korean golfer K.J. Choi won the Chrylser Championship: Choi's 4-under final round wins Chrysler Championship. He rose 27 places to 28th in the world rankings issued on Monday after his win: South Korean Choi Jumps to 28th in World Rankings

Also, in other golf news, 23-year-old Jin Joo Hong became the third South Korean player to win the country's lone LPGA Tour event in her first tour start on Sunday: South Korean Hong Earns 1st LPGA Victory. Hong happens to be one of 12 Korean LPGA players in the field. Oh, those Koreans. Crazy about their golf.

10.31.06

NPR recently profiled the music of Japanese duo Bernie K (vocalist Yuki and MC Cico) for their "Song of the Day" feature: From Japan to L.A. in a Matter of Minutes. Their sound blends Japanese pop with American hip hop. Truly transnational tunes...

10.31.06

A Chinese food delivery guy fights back! In Florida, a Panda Express worker came back to the restaurant to see two robbers holding his co-workers at gunpoint, so he grabbed his own gun, jumped out of his car and started shooting. He shot and wounded one of the robbers: Deliveryman wounds robber in shootout. Now, I wouldn't recommend this kind of vigilante justice, and I don't even know if the delivery guy was actually Asian... but it's definitely kind of satisfying to see the tables turned for a change.

10.31.06

Saw this over at the Schema Blog last week... The Shanghai Lounge Divas is the original music of 1930s Shanghai singers remixed with electronica, jazz, blues, drum'n'bass, traditional Chinese opera and folk music. Kind of like Dave Liang's Shanghai Restoration Project, but Dave's stuff is original (the old recordings of the Shanghai divas were unearthed in an Indian studio in 2003). The Shanghai Lounge Divas and Shanghai Lounge Divas, Vol. 2 are available from Amazon as import discs.

10.31.06

Here's a story from English edition of the Korea Times about the growing visibility of Korean American actors in U.S. film and television, sort of a different form of what people have termed "hallyu," the so-called "Korean Wave": US Hallyu: Korean-American Roles Become More Visible in Hollywood. Of course, there are the requisite mentions of Sandra Oh, Daniel Dae Kim, and Kim Yunjin, as well as honorary Korean American Keiko Agena (who plays Lane on Gilmore Girls).

On a related note, here's an article on K-pop stars trying to make a stab at crossover success in America: K-Pop Won Over Asia: Can It Win Over US?. Popular Korean singer Se7en recently held a press conference in New York announcing plans to debut in the U.S. next spring. I don't know... many Asian stars have tried before. What's going to be different this time around?

10.30.06

Back. Sorry, I did not make updates from HIFF as I had promised. It was a whirlwind trip of films, food, planes and people, and it all kinds of run together. And come on! It's Hawaii. I just really didn't feel like cracking open my laptop over the weekend... For me, it was a long overdue getaway. I will say this: the Hawaii International Film Festival is a damn fine event, put together by some great people. They programmed one of the most impressive schedule of films I've ever seen, and I barely even got to skim the surface. I hope to return to future installments of the festival, and next time I plan to stay a lot longer. For any film lovers planning a vacation next fall, I highly suggest coordinating a trip to the islands for HIFF. I'll take cinema with an aloha breeze over the freezing cold of Park City any day. Some highlights from my trip:

  • I met Satoshi Kon, acclaimed director of such films as Perfect Blue and Millenium Actress. He was at the festival with his latest feature Paprika (soon to be released in the U.S. by Sony Pictures Classics). I told him it was an honor to meet him. He told me he liked my hair(!)
  • Chatted a bit with Lost actor Daniel Dae Kim at the theater, who was looking indiscreet in a Red Sox cap. He had just checked out Ham Tran's Journey From The Fall, and gave it a thumbs up. Oh, Daniel is also now the proud owner/wearer of a Nobody Loves An Angry Asian Man t-shirt.
  • Checked out the DisORIENTation Shorts Program, which featured some really great works, including: Dry Clean Only by J.P. Chan and Fast Money by Jerry Chan, two good pieces I've seen at multiple festivals throughout the year; my pal Grace Su's Future Rock Stars of America, a short documentary on up-and-coming Asian American musicians; It's Not Just You, Tommy Chu by Joh Maxwell, a funny short on the plight of the Asian man (yes, that plight); Present by Jacqueline Kim and Maps by Christopher Yogi, two weird, arty little pieces that I kind of dug; My Life Disoriented by Eric Byler, a cute story about an Asian American family that moves from San Francisco to Bakersfield (to be presented on PBS soon); and Shift by Jonathan Yi, quite possibly my favorite piece of the bunch, a really strong film with great
  • performances.

  • Met Mynette Louie, who works for the Hawaii Film Office and runs the excellent Hawaii Film Blog. She's got several blog updates from the festival over the last few days.
  • Saw the amazing costume drama The King and the Clown, which was a huge smash hit in South Korea. It's a gorgeous film that lives up to the hype.
  • Finally saw the end of Kris Chin and Ron Oda's Asian Stories (Book III). I saw it at VC last spring, and found myself really enjoying it, but had to duck out before watching the last fifteen minutes or so... and hadn't been able to catch it at subsequent screenings. I was glad to finally view the film in its entirety. I think the ending's a little rushed, but for the most part the film is full of hilarious, genuine moments (including a great standout performance by Kathy Uyen). Highly recommended.
  • Had a chance to drive up to the Oahu's north shore, ate some freaking awesome garlic butter shrimp at Mackey's shrimp truck. Super good.

And the lowlight of my trip:


  • My flight getting canceled. Scrambling to catch another flight on the other side of airport. Flying back into the mainland at the crack of dawn.

And that was my awesome trip. It was way too short. But a short trip to Hawaii is better than no trip to Hawaii, right? More updates when I muster up the time and energy. Excuse me now as I pass out. Mahalo!

10.27.06

The Louis Vuitton Hawaii International Film Festival has been going on all week, with an amazing variety of films and events. The festival has been called the premiere American showcase for Asian cinema, and the program proves it. I wanted to attend opening weekend festivities, but a busy schedule didn't allow me to get away... instead, I've been reading up on various blog entries from festival attendees. However, I will be flying out to Hawaii today to catch the tail-end of the festival over the weekend. I'm hoping to catch a few screenings and meet some nice people. And I'll try to make some updates here from the festival... Aloha!

10.27.06

Alejandro Gonz·lez IÒ·rritu's latest film Babel opens in select theaters today, and it looks pretty stunning. It's one of those multiple-interrelated-stories-weaving- together movies, featuring an international cast. One of the stories involves a Japanese teenager (Rinko Kikuchi) and her father (Koji Yakusho). Here's a review from the New York Times: Emotion Needs No Translation

10.27.06

Spotted veteran "Hey, it's that guy!" actor James Hong in commercials for this week's episode of NBC's Twenty Good Years. Looks like he played an accupuncturist. That guy has been in the business for so many years, with a gazillion credits under his belt, I think he's in a place where he just doesn't have to give a crap about the kind of roles he takes... he's like the go-to actor to play random old Chinese dudes. Like, this movie Totally Awesome, VH1's over-the-top parody of 80s movies. Hong plays "Mr. Yamagashi," an obvious parody of Mr. Miyagi from The Karate Kid. It looks pretty horrendous, but you just know everyone is sure to say, "Hey, it's that guy!"

10.27.06

Here's an article about Chinese takeout restaurants trying to get by in a really rough Philadelphia neighborhood: Crime puts fear into takeouts. They've fallen victim to robbery, violence, vandalism... repeatedly.

10.27.06

Dave Liang, the guy behind the Shanghai Restoratin Project (of which I am fan), has just released the instrumentals to the Project, in case you want to listen to wordless versions of his tunes. It's available over at iTunes. Good stuff.

10.27.06

After three years of success as one of New York's leading independent arts organizations, TEABAG has announced that it will be adopting a new name, THE FIVE POINTS MISSION. To learn more about the organization and its events, go here. And listen to a recent radio story about the organization formerly known as Teabag over at the Asia Pacific Forum.

10.26.06

A couple of cool events happening this weekend... if you're in Los Angeles, maybe check out Fallen Angels, a Halloween costume bash fundraiser for Projekt NewSpeak, the annual poetry slam and Asian Pacific American community showcase. The party's Friday, October 27th at the Pig N Whistle in Hollywood. Details here.

And on Sunday, Lodestone, Cold Tofu, OPM and 18 Mighty Mountain Warriors present Telemongolween, a fundraiser bash for their upcoming historic collaboration, Telemongol. Food, drink, costume contest, all that good stuff, for a good cause. Sunday, October 29th at Oiwake in Little Tokyo. For more details, go here.

10.26.06

Joseph James Melcher is accused of killing two people last weekend in San Francisco's Japantown. He was charged Monday with two counts of murder and other crimes in the fatal shootings of Song Sun Lee, 34, and Kam Yan Li, 22, and the wounding of a third person. Court records show Melcher had "an explosive temper" and a history of trouble with the law: Slaying suspect had a temper, records show

10.26.06

The Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival just announced its full schedule, filled with lots of awesome Asian film goodness. Check it all out here. The festival runs November 15-19. They're celebrating the festival's tenth year, so get yourself ready, Toronto.

UPDATE: And here's a brief, funny commercial advertising the festival: Mystery Meat

10.26.06

Police in Quincy, MA have been making efforts to connect with the community's growing Asian population... this week, 50 senior residents graduated from the Police Department's first all-Cantonese Citizen Police Academy: Arresting fear, bridging cultures. The program encouraged them to be more trusting of government officials, Western medicine, and police. Heck, sometimes I don't trust any of the three.

10.26.06

Another attack on a Chinese food delivery man... Police are looking for a man responsible for stabbing a food deliveryman in Queens earlier this week: Police hunt suspect in deliveryman's stabbing. Luckily, a surveillance video camera caught a glimpse of the alleged attacker: KNIFE THUG CAUGHT ON TAPE

UPDATE: Looks like they've got the guy. The suspect, David Mooore, apparently surrendered himself after those security camera photos of him were made public: PHOTOS NAIL QNS. STAB SUSPECT. The victim, Sam Lee, is in stable condition.

10.26.06

Wired has a profile on Masi Oka, breakout star of the NBC show Heroes: Masi Oka: Coder, Actor, Hero. Turns out he's not only an actor, but also a programmer for legendary special effects house Industrial Light & Magic.

UPDATE: Don't want to forget James Kyson Lee, who plays Hiro's friend Ando on Heroes. He also stars in the indie festival favorite Asian Stories (Book III). I met him briefly at the San Diego Asian Film Festival, and he's a pretty cool guy.

By the way, if you caught this week's episode of Heroes, you might've also spotted Nicole Bilderback as the casino manager, and Archie Kao as a doctor, in addition to starring cast member Sendhil Ramamurthy as Mohinder Suresh.

10.26.06

Really interesting letter written into Ask The A.V. Club, about "the musical clichÈ figure representing the Far East." You know what I'm talking about. We've all heard it. That little snippet of crappy faux-oriental music that precedes displays of chinkiness in any bad pop culture moment, i.e. the opening notes of the song "Kung Fu Fighting" (I hate hate hate that song). Haven't you always wondered where this overused motif comes from? Read on:


Turning Leitmotifese

A few friends and I are desperate to discover where the brief three-tone theme-music snippet that precedes anything "Chinese" in bad Hollywood products comes from. Since this is a letter, I can't sing it to you, but I'm sure you know it. The most accessible reference I can think of at the moment happens at the very beginning of The Vapors' "Turning Japanese." This musical theme is absolutely everywhere, and it must have an origin, either in some traditional Chinese opera, or some Charlie Chan film, or some crap "exotic" turn of the century orchestral piece, or somewhere. Help.

Peter

Donna Bowman is on the case:

It is at times like these that we lament Google's failure, as of yet, to create musical searches. Surely the technology exists for a user to hum a few bars into a microphone and get a bunch of 99-cent downloads from iTunes offered in return.

Nevertheless, I wore my fingers to the bone trying to find the right combination of search terms (pentatonic asian stereotype leitmotif "charlie chan") before getting lucky. Typing "G-G-G-G-F-F-D-D-F" (the notes played in the key of C) leads to the fifth page of a ridiculously in-depth research project on what the author, Martin Nilsson, calls "the musical clichÈ figure representing the Far East." If you still don't know what Peter and Martin and I are talking about, you can hear a tinny computer-generated version here.

This exact variant, Nilsson demonstrates, appears for the first time as a riff in the chorus of Carl Douglas' 1974 hit "Kung Fu Fighting." Five years later, the Vapors started their new wave hit "Turning Japanese" with the identical riff. Although it occurs incidentally in a Betty Boop cartoon from 1935, no other instances of this exact musical phrase in popular culture have been found in the intervening 39 years.

The likely origin of the memorable phrase lies not in the sequence of notes, but in the rhythm:



Nilsson calls this "the Far East Proto-ClichÈ," and documents its use in popular and light classical music back to the 1880s. Although it was used to signify generalized Asian exoticism (associated with places as far-flung as Persia and Egypt), by the early 20th century, it's nearly omnipresent in music associated with "chinoiserie," the fad for Oriental dÈcor and dress.

Every two-bit jazz combo in the country seems to have recorded a novelty song with some version of the Proto-ClichÈ, from "Chinatown My Chinatown" to "Chong, He Come From Hong Kong" to "My Yokohama Girl." The Walt Disney music department was especially fond of the trope. Versions occur in "The China Plate" (a Disney Silly Symphony in which painted figures on a piece of porcelain come to life), a few propaganda cartoons from the World War II period, and most beloved by The A.V. Club, the classic music-ed cartoon "Toot, Whistle, Plunk, and Boom."

But blame Carl Douglas for the exact motif you can't get out of your head. His version has become the classic expression of the clichÈ, appearing everywhere from quickie exploitation movies to videogame soundtracks.


Pretty interesting. It has become the musical cue to represent Chinese-ness. And it continues to haunt us to this day, in any number of songs and movies. I shake my fist at you, Carl Douglas!

10.26.06

Another article from earlier this week on Tammy Duckworth, Democratic Party candidate for US Representative from the 6th Congressional District of Illinois: Wounded Iraq veteran running for Congress on anti-war platform

Meanwhile, Vietnamese Americans react to the scandal surrounding Orange County congressional candidate Tan Nguyen, whose campaign is accused of sending intimidating letters to Latino voters: Campaign scandal peeves Little Saigon

10.26.06

According to Variety, Pan Nalin has signed on to direct Buddha, the story of Siddhartha, for Barnet Bain Films: Nalin to helm 'Buddha'. Shooting is set to start in in the spring in India and Nepal. Nalin's previous features include Samsara and Valley of the Flowers. I guess the question is, who will play Siddhartha?

10.26.06

I think we've talked a bit about this before... there's an emerging trend among parents to send their pre-schoolers to Mandarin lessons, in order to give them a leg up on the future world economy—and Chinese language academies in the U.S. are booming: Pre-school Mandarin classes take root in Manhattan. Check out the last line of the story... foreign exchange programs for six-year-olds? And people accuse Asian parents of going to extremes for their kids' education.

10.26.06

Spoony Singh, the showman behind the Hollywood Wax Museum, died last week. He was 83: Spoony Singh, 83, Dies; Created Hollywood Wax Museum

10.25.06

The Asia Pacific Forum, a progressive pan-Asian radio show in New York, just relaunched its website, with lots of really interesting features and podcasts on Asian/Asian American politics and culture. Take a look here. The show broadcasts every Tuesday night from 8-9pm on WBAI 99.5 FM in New York City and live on the web. There's some good stuff there, so check it out.

10.25.06

Miracles do happen. The headline says it all: Laotian immigrants win $55M lottery. Xia Rattanakone, who grew up in a Laotian orphanage, says she plans to donate part of her $55 million lottery winningsn to the people who raised her. She also plans to return to Laos to search for her birth family.

10.25.06

That San Francisco Chronicle series on forced prostitution rings rattled a lot of people, especially in the Korean American community. This rebuttal, written by Helene Kim and Jeong Shin "on behalf of friends and supporters of the Bay Area Korean-American Community," was published in the Chronicle the other day: 'Diary' series is a misleading portrait of Korean Americans

10.25.06

The epic film Nomad—Kazakhstan's answer to the potentially harmful effects of Borat—is apparently eligible to be nominated for the foreign language Oscar: Borat's homeland gets good news from Oscar. The movie's about a warrior who united the Kazakh tribes to fight against invading Mongols. Oh, those invading Mongols.

10.25.06

Here's an interesting essay on architect Maya Lin, famous for designing the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC: Why Has Maya Lin Retreated From the Battlefield of Ideas?

10.25.06

The New York Times profiles four students at Claremont McKenna College, the founders of the Fantasy Congress—get your mind out of the gutter!—kind of like fantasy football or baseball, but for those with an interest in what actually happens on Capitol Hill: Fantasy Sports? Childís Play. Here, Politics Is the Game.

10.25.06

Another interview over at AsiansVote.com, this time with TJ Cox, Democrat for California's 19th Congressional District. Here's his official website.

UPDATE: They're keeping it coming with the interviews, this time with Jane Kim, Green Party candidate for San Francisco School Board.

10.24.06

A Scottish judge cleared a student from China of a motoring offense after claiming that "all Chinese people can look the same": 'All Chinese can look the same' says Scottish judge (Note the accompanying random photo of four Chinese guys—who look completely different—eating ice cream.)


She was quoted by The Times Monday as telling Greenock Sheriff Court, near Glasgow: "Without wanting to be derogatory in any way, sometimes it is said that all black people look the same at first glance and the same can be said that all Chinese people can look the same to a native Scot.


Chinese people in the community are actually backing up this claim! You know, if the situation were reversed, and someone offered the claim that all white people look the same, I have to wonder if it would be equally as compelling. More here: 'Chinese look same' claim backed

10.24.06

Just read this story about Mack Miya, proprietor of Mack's Gym in Toronto. He was once considered, pound for pound, the strongest man alive. At the height of his powers, he stood 5-foot-4, weighed 176 pounds and once bench-pressed 500 pounds. He was also among those Japanese Americans who were interned during World War II. Sadly, after 60 years in business, Mack (still fit at 83) will be closing the doors of his gym: Strong man knocked down by notice

10.24.06

Orange County congressional candidate Tan Nguyen, whose campaign is currently under investigation for sending intimidating letters to Hispanic voters, is not backing down: Candidate linked to letter lambastes foe. He's not going to quit the race, and insists that he's going to win. If you ask me, he's just digging himself a deeper hole.

10.24.06

Did you catch Game 1 of the World Series? So Taguchi was instrumental in helping the Cardinals break out of a tie with the Tigers, setting off a chain of events that eventually led to St. Louis beating Detroit, 7-2. His technique? Throwing his bat at the ball: St. Louis Rally Starts When Taguchi Is Called Out

10.24.06

Interesting blog entry from an Australian newspaper: Why don't Aussie girls date Asian men? I thought that headline would catch your attention. What's even more interesting is the lengthy ensuing discussion in the comments. It seems that this issue is a hot topic in the land down under too...

10.24.06

Here's another one of these stories on how the Indian American community is growing—growing fast, and growing powerful: Indian Community Burgeoning in America

10.23.06

ImaginAsianTV has struck a home entertainment distribution deal with The Weinstein Co. and Genius Products: Weinsteins hooked on homevideo. According to the Variety article, the relationship "will allow ImaginAsian to significantly ramp up the number and scale of the Asian movies it acquires. It also mentions that the company's first titles for theatrical release will be the Korean erotic thriller Green Chair and Ham Tran's Vietnamese American epic Journey From The Fall.

10.23.06

Goodness... I haven't been following the Anna Mae He case. It's being argued before the Tennessee Supreme Court: Tenn. Supreme Court to decide Anna Mae case. It could be months and even years before the case is settled. I cannot believe the stubbornness of the Bakers through all of this. And Anne Mae is now eight years old. Let's face it—whatever way this goes, she is the biggest victim, and probably will have to go through a lot of crap for years to come.

10.23.06

Another story on Lt. Ehren Watada, who earlier this year became the first commissioned officer to refuse deployment to Iraq, calling the war illegal and immoral: Loyal to Country or Conscience? His actions have evoked mixed reactions from among Japanese American veterans—some calling him a fool, others calling him a hero.

10.23.06

This New York Times column, about small-business trends in California, profiles Fred Hsu and Lawrence Ng, co-founders of Oversee.com, which involves advertisers and clicks and links and eyeballs: Making Money by Matching Surfers to Marketers

10.23.06

Daniel Gordon's documentary Crossing the Line tells the stories of American defectors who crossed the demilitarized zone to live in North Korea: An American in North Korea, Pledging Allegiance to the Great Leader. This is actually Gordon's third film about North Korea, after The Game of Their Lives and A State of Mind. I suppose general interest about North Korea is at an all-time high, with the risk of nukes and all. North Korea is so hot right now...

And speaking of North Korea, did anyone see that lame ass Kim Jong-Il skit on Saturday Night Live over the weekend? Pathetic and unfunny... Not only did they feature white, blonde Amy Poehler in "yellowface" (sort of) as the crazy dictator himself, her accent sounded like she was trying for French at best. They also played a random Cambodian song—maybe Dengue Fever?—to instroduce the skit. Sure, the Jongster is deserving of all sorts of mockery and lampooning, but this was just awful. At least put in some effort, please.

And in a case of really good or bad timing, depending how you look at it, last week the movie Behind Enemy Lines II: Axis of Evil was released on DVD. The direct-to-video sequel explores what might happen if North Korea had a missile armed with an atomic bomb capable of reaching New York: Film depicts action against North Korea. Coincidence? Actually, yes. The action script was apparently written 18 months ago, about a group of Navy SEALs dropped into North Korea to destroy its long-range missile. Ah, but does Kim Jong Il appear anywhere in the film?

10.23.06

As with any political race, campaigning inevitably always get ugly... in Chicago, the anti-Duckworth advertising from her opponent Peter Roskam is getting downright racist: Oh the Things People Do


Notice the eyes. Even with the granier version there's one thing that sticks out if one were to try and recreate what was done--the eyes are darker than any normal process would create.

They OJed it up to make her look more foreign is the best interpretation I can come up with. Instead of simply a little blurry and dark they have become the black eyeballs of a demonic possession or just a fererner.


View the commercials here and here.

10.23.06

The New York Times profiled a dude named Dan Ho, a home/life guru who specializes in getting rid of your crap. Basically, he's rallying agaist our home re-designing and re-decorating-obsessed culture: The Imperfectionist. Here's his philosophy in action: Theory Into Practice: Tackling One Coupleís Mess. He's got a book, Rescue from Domestic Perfection: The Not-So Secrets of Balancing Life and Style, and a television program on the Discovery Health channel, The Dan Ho Show.

10.23.06

This is kind of a crazy story... Last week, Mal Soon Jin, a 49-year-old Korean woman who was at the United States District Court in Brooklyn to participate in the naturalization ceremony that would make her a U.S. citizen, was stopped and arrested when court security found an unloaded gun in her handbag: With Citizenship Minutes Away, Gun Is Found in Womanís Bag. Needless to say, she didn't get to participate in the naturalization ceremony.

10.23.06

Here's a brief item from last week, about Jackie Chan being frustrated by Hollywood's strict safety rules: Chan cramped by Hollywood safety rules. You gotta admit, the guy did some crazy-ass stuff in his movies back in the day. I wonder, however, if it's really worth complaining about strict safety rules now that he's getting older. I'm kind of doubtful that he's capable of doing, or even trying, some of death-defying stunts that made him a household name.

10.22.06

IFC has picked up distribution rights for Eric Byler's AMERICANese: IFC to translate 'AMERICANese'. The film will be part of IFC's "First Take" label, to be released simultaneously in theaters and on-demand for Comcast and Cablevision subs. It'll be out sometime next year.

10.22.06

The United States has waived a security regulation to let thousands of refugees from Burma's Chin state request asylum: US waives law for Chin refugees. Normally strict laws passed after 9/11 have prevented people who have provided "material support" to armed groups from resettling in the U.S. This would've applied to many Chin refugees who had provided help to rebel groups such as the Chin National Front and Chin National Army. Washington has already issued similar exemptions for Burma's Karen people, who were in a similar situation.

10.22.06

Here's a good article on Asian actors trying to make it in the Vancouver scene, caught up in the cycle of auditions/work/acting gigs: Hopefuls fight stereotypes for Pepper-like success

And here's a great NPR commentary on the significant lack of movie lead roles for men of color: Black Actors in Love Scenes: No Need to Apply

In other Asian actor news, I'm told that British-born Naoko Mori plays "Toshiko Sato"> on the new BBC sci-fi series Torchwood, a spinoff of Dr. Who.

And this week, Parry Shen will be making an appearance on Veronica Mars (easily one of my favorite shows) as "Charleston Chu," a member of a campus fraternity. Read Parry's Xanga entry about it here. The episode airs Tuesday night on the CW.

10.22.06

AsianWeek's Philip Chung has a story on filmmaker Mora Mi-Ok Stephens, and makes a rather bold suggestion: Mora Mi-Ok Stephens: Our Next Justin Lin?. He goes out on a limb and says that Stephens "may very well be our next breakthrough director." Her award-winning debut feature, Conventioneers, opened this weekend at the Village East in New York. She's a filmmaker to watch...

10.22.06

AsiansVote.com has a good interview with Leland Yee, Democrat for California State Senate. Here's his campaign website.

10.22.06

The animated feature Tales of Earthsea, directed by Goro Miyazaki (son of Hayao), was the biggest hit of the summer in Japan: The Son of the Anime Master Begins His Quest for Honor. Looks like Goro is trying hard to step out from his legendary father's shadow. Unfortunately, it looks like there aren't any plans to distribute Earthsea to theaters in the U.S. The rights are apparently tied up a 2004 Sci-Fi Channel mini-series. Boo on Sci-Fi Channel.

10.22.06

Okay, I'll admit it. I've been watching Survivor. It's pretty stupid, but I can't seem to stop watching since the Asian American contestants all seem to be doing so well... until last week, when that kooky dude Cao Boi finally got voted off. Can't say I didn't see that one coming. Apparently though, the guy had developed quite a fan following in his town: 'Survivor' Christiansburg residents 'wanna cry' as local celebrity 'Cao Boi' gets the boot

10.22.06

Last week, the Los Angeles Unified School District held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Charles H. Kim New Elementary School, the first LAUSD school to be named after an Asian American: 1st L.A. Unified School Named After Asian American. Kim was a Korean immigrant who started farms in California's Central Valley and was the first Korean-American millionaire. He also helped establish Los Angeles' Koreatown. In the future, I hope we'll see more of such schools being named for Asian American pioneers.

10.22.06

Orange County Republican leaders are urging fellow Republican congressional candidate Tan Nguyen to withdraw from the race after he acknowledged that his campaign was involved in sending out a letter intended to scare off Latino voters: O.C. Candidate Is Disowned. More here: Calif. candidate urged to exit race. Using anti-immigrant tactics, when the guy is an immigrant himself? What a disgrace. The Orange County Board of Supervisors will determine Tuesday whether county officials should send letters to 14,000 voters in response to Nguyen's letter: O.C. will consider trying to correct Nguyen mailer

In other intimidation-tactics-in-politics news, the 80-20 Initiative claims that Jimmy D. Lee, Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, sent an email to the University of Delaware attempting to cause trouble for a retired professor who has been critical of the Republican Party. More info over at AsiansVote.com.

10.19.06



Yellowface fans, here's another cinematic treasure for you... 1932's The Mask of Fu Manchu is now available on DVD, part of Warner Brothers' "Hollywood Legends of Horror Collection." It really doesn't get much worse than this. Boris Karloff (later, Warner Oland) in the titular role, with full yellowface makeup, playing the embodiment of the terrifying yellow peril: New DVD's: Horror From Hollywood. I'll admit, I'm sort of curious—I've actually never seen the film, or the many other entries in the series. But one look at that photo is all you really need to determine... That's racist!

10.19.06

According to Production Weekly, Rob Cohen is set to direct Rage & Fury, "featuring the legendary Bruce Lee." I don't really know what that means. Some sort of biopic? He's already directed one of those—Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, back in 1993. And there's another one in the works, planned by Lee's family. So what is Rage & Fury? "Featuring" seems to indicate that Bruce Lee is actually in the movie. Please don't tell me they're thinking about some kind of CGI Bruce. That would be... words can't express how awful that would be. Details are sketchy at best: Cohen Helming His Second Bruce Lee Feature. More speculation here: Bruce Lee Back From The Grave? And here: Bruce Lee Making A Comeback? It's like Game of Death all over again.

10.19.06

Seventeen magazine has come up with a list of the 17 Hottest Guys in America, and they're taking votes to determine who is the "hottest." Among them is Mr. Satoshi Mitsuda, reppin' the Asian dudes. Every other day they'll tally up the votes and eliminate one of the guys (looks like they're about halfway through). So vote for Satoshi, I guess.

10.19.06

If you're in New York, here's something for you to do this Saturday night... Kevin So presents "An Evening With Kevin So and Friends," Saturday, October 21st at Mo Pitkins. It's gonna be a big one, with special guests Johanna, Vudoo Soul, Frank Carter, Taiyo, Dan Schlessinger, Elizabeth Dotson-Wesphalen, Pete Demeo, Raven Williams and Bryan Dunn. Kevin will be performing songs from his forthcoming CD A Brighter Day. For more info, check out Kevin's website or MySpace.

10.19.06

One last shout-out to the San Diego Asian Film Festival, who close out their festivities tonight with the acclaimed Japanese film Always - Sunset on Third Street. This is your last chance to be a part of the fun, San Diego. They threw one hell of an event this year. Good times.

10.19.06

Japanese pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka could be the next big star in Major League Baseball: For the Highest Bidder, a Rising Superstar Awaits. He was the most valuable player in the World Baseball Classic in March. The question is, who will be highest bidding team that gets him?

10.19.06

Here's a CBS News story from last week about Iraq war veterans running for Congress—the most famous one probably being Tammy Duckworth, a Democratic congressional candidate from Illinois who lost both her legs in the war: Can Iraq War Vets Win For Democrats? She has received an endorsement from the Chicago Tribune: For Congress: Duckworth. Here's Duckworth's official website.

However, in shady campaigning news... In California, state investigators have linked the campaign of Tan D. Nguyen to letters sent to thousands of Orange County Hispanics warning them they could go to jail or be deported if they vote next month: Voter warning linked to GOP campaign. The letter, written in Spanish, tells recipients: "You are advised that if your residence in this country is illegal or you are an immigrant, voting in a federal election is a crime that could result in jail time." Nguyen could not be reached for comment...

Meanwhile, speaking of elections and such, a coalition of 14 Asian American candidates for various offices recently organized a rally in San Francisco encouraging the city's Asian American population to get out and vote: Asian-American politicians try to rally voting bloc. My fellow Asian Americans, register and vote!

And down in southern California, according to a new APALC study, the percentage of Orange County Asian Americans who voted in 2004 grew by 68 percent compared with 2000: More Asian-Americans voting in O.C., study finds. Awesome. So let's keep it going!

10.18.06

After closing out the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival two years ago, Michael Kang's little indie film The Motel (MySpace) finally returns to the Bay Area this Friday, October 20th for theatrical run at the Lumiere Theatre in San Francisco and the Shattuck Cinemas in Berkeley. This is your chance to check it out, spread the word, bring a friend. I think I've said more than enough about the film over the last three years (do read my Q & A with Michael Kang), so I'll just say this: I love this movie. And here's another good interview with Mike, from the Nichi Bei Times: A Conversation With Michael Kang, Director of 'The Motel'

10.18.06

If you remember several years back, comedian Sarah Silverman did some stand up on the Late Night and used the word "chink" in her routine. It resulted in some major controversy/discussion/debate, ultimately getting MANAA president Guy Aoki and Silverman squaring off on Bill Maher's Politically Incorrect. Through all of it, Silverman tried playing it off like she was some kind of victim. I bring this up because in this video clip, Silverman shows that she didn't really learn anything from it the incident, still revels in using "chink" in her comedy (because she's "not afraid of Asians"), and really just doesn't give a damn. That's racist! I'd actually sort of forgotten about this whole thing, but this has pretty much renewed my deep dislike of Sarah Silverman.

10.18.06

This situation, as we know it, usually happens the other way around... but it seems that a handful of American college graduates are now being recruited by companies in India: In a Twist, Americans Appear in Ranks of Indian Firms

10.18.06

Sheridan Prasso has a story in the New York Times on the culture of Japanese "freeters" in New York, who come to the United States to live out this vague, romantic notion of "finding themselves": Escape From Japan. Apparently, New York now has the largest number of Japanese living in any city outside Japan.

10.17.06

What's up, Canada? The 10th Annual Vancouver Asian Film Festival just announced its full program, and it looks pretty solid—a great event to close out the year's North Asian American film festival circuit, opening with one of the 2006's perennial favorites, Ham Tran's Journey From The Fall. The festival runs November 1-5. They've got a great schedule of films, so if you're in Vancouver, check it out. For more information, go here.

EDIT: Whoops. VAFF is not the final North American Asian film festival of the year—the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival runs November 15th through 19th. Silly me. Apologies, Toronto.

10.17.06

Ben Hamamoto has an interesting piece in the Nichi Bei Times on WWE's "Jimmy Wang Yang," who might just be the weirdest (and most confused) professional wrestling character gimmick I have ever seen: Entertainment Re-oriented - Jimmy Wang Yang: The Asian Redneck Wrestler

10.17.06

Over the weekend, Asian American teen tennis player Vania King rallied to win the Bangkok Open and her first WTA title: King beats Tanasugarn in three sets for first title

10.17.06

Jeff Yang's latest "Asian Pop" column is about the Asia Society's new exhibition of works by contemporary Asian American artists, "One Way or Another: Asian American Arts Now": Art Breakers. The exhibition is currently running in New York through December 10th. Learn more about it here.

10.17.06

In Los Angeles, police investigating a triple murder in a Koreatown restaurant have identified the ex-boyfriend of one of the victims as a suspect: Man Sought in Slayings of Three in Koreatown. Detectives are looking for Tai Zhi Cui, 55, once romantically linked with a 45-year-old female employee of the restaurant who was among those killed.

10.17.06

If you spend any amount of time on the internet watching random videos, you may have come across a video or two of an Asian guy playing elaborate video game theme music arrangements on the piano. Like this one. The guy in the clip is Martin Leung, also known as the Video Game Pianist. He's actually been touring with Video Games Live, an immersive concert event feature music from some of the most popular video games of all time. The tour, featuring orchestras, choirs, light shows, video footage and interactive segments, has played in sold out venues like the Hollywood Bowl. Who would've thought video game music would be so popular?

10.17.06

Some crazy stuff from abroad... Stupid people saying stupid things (the world has many). Naftali Tamir, the Israeli ambassador to Australia, made remarks saying that the two countries are white sisters amid "the yellow race" of Asia:


Tamir said that due to what he characterized as the racial similarities between Israel and Australia, the two countries should work together to enhance ties with other Asian countries.

"Israel and Australia are like sisters in Asia," Tamir said in an interview with Haaretz during a visit to Israel this week. "We are in Asia without the characteristics of Asians. We don't have yellow skin and slanted eyes. Asia is basically the yellow race. Australia and Israel are not - we are basically the white race. We are on the western side of Asia and they are on the southeastern side."


Ah, the ol' us-versus-them appeal: Foreign Ministry slams envoy's comments about 'yellow race'. Yellow race? That's racist! Israel has recalled the ambassador to Australia: Israel diplomat recall disturbing: Rudd

In the UK, a teenage schoolgirl was arrested by police for racism after refusing to sit with a group of Asian students because some of them did not speak English: Schoolgirl arrested for refusing to study with non-English pupils. Whoa, arrested???

10.16.06

SuperHeroHype.com has an interview with Masi Oka, who plays "Hiro" the new hit show Heroes: Exclusive: Heroes' Hiro, Masi Oka. Based on a lot of discussions of heard, both online and real life, Hiro is definitely one of the standout fan favorite characters so far. The show airs tonight on NBC.

10.16.06

Sometime this week, we will welcome the 300 millionth American into the world. According to the Census Bureau, that with a net gain of one person every 11 seconds, the United States' population will reach 300 million at about 7:46 am on Tuesday: Coming Next Week, American No. 300 Million (this article was published on Friday). In 1967, Robert Woo, born to Chinese immigrants, was anointed as the 200 millionth America by LIFE magazine: 200Mth American ready to pass the torch. He's now an attorney in Atlanta. Here's actually a population clock keeping counting down (up?) the U.S. and world population.

10.15.06

Had the pleasure of hanging out this weekend at the San Diego Asian Film Festival... and had a blast. Good times with films and friends. Checked out some films, attended a couple of panels, and connected with some good people, all in the name of Asian American cinema. Year after year, SDAFF puts on a fun, class act festival, bringing together the best from the APA filmmaking community. Here are the winners from Saturday night's awards gala:

Grand Jury Price: Journey From The Fall - Ham Tran

Best Dramatic Narrative Feature: Eve and the Fire Horse - Julia Kwan

Special Jury Prize: Colma: The Musical - Richard Wong

Best Feature Documentary: The Last Atomic Bomb - Robert Richter

Best Dramatic Narrative Short: Hiro - Matthew Swanson

Best Animation: Mirage - Youngwoon Jang

Best Experimental Film: Latent Sorrow - Shon Kim

Best Music Video: "Steal The Blueprints" (+/-) - Chris Deaner

Michelob Light Flicks (30 Second Commercial): Asking Permission - X. Dean Lim

The festival runs through Thursday, October 19th, so check out a screening or two while you can. Be part of something great, and support Asian American cinema!

UPDATE: Here's a story on Daniel Dae Kim, who was a guest at the festival and participated in Saturday's panel on Asian Americans in Hollywood: More Asians are finding leading roles in television

10.14.06

So Taguchi became a St. Louis hero last night when he hit a tiebreaking solo home run to help the Cardinals beat the New York Mets: Taguchi's HR fuels rally as Cards pull even in NLCS. Hell of a comeback. Funny thing is, during the regular season, Taguchi homered only twice in 316 at-bats this year. Now he's a post-season slugger: Taguchi stunningly becomes latest October hero

10.14.06

I think a lot of Asian Americans can relate to this article, about the pressure to Anglicize one's name for the sake of convenience, or to just fit in: As American as Vartan, Luis and Na.


In a country where falafel and pad thai are now nearly as commonplace as Chinese takeout, some children of immigrants are even reclaiming their ethnic names, suddenly announcing that they will no longer use the American first names their parents gave them but will henceforth be known as Aiko or Ying-hui.


Shout out to my pal Oi-Yan. Americans seem to see a "foreign" Asian name and just get tripped up. All of sudden, they lose all phonetic faculties, even for the simplest names. Learn to deal! Not everyone's going to be named Bobby or Jenny or Susie or Chad or Brad or Phil.

10.14.06

Starting her second year as a professional, golf prodigy Michelle Wie is still a teenager, still under intense media scrutiny, and also still looking for her first win: Wie Has a Lot to Learn as a Pro (Including How to Win)

10.14.06

CHUD.com has a first look at Balls of Fury, the Christopher Walken ping pong comedy set for release in early 2007: SHOW ME YOUR BALLS (OF FURY). You know, the movie that had the "No Asians" casting call earlier this year that got us all riled up? Yeah, that one. The movie's about a ping pong player who gets recruited by the FBI to infiltrate a Triad gang whose leader, played by Christopher Walken, holds a Mortal Kombat-style ping pong tournament. Basically, it sounds like Enter the Dragon with ping pong instead of martial arts, and the bad guy is a white dude pretending to be Asian. This article is pretty positive, but I'm absolutely dreading it...

10.14.06

This USA Today feature briefly compares and contrasts the differences between 'The Departed'/'Infernal Affairs'. Yes America, it is indeed a remake.

10.14.06

For folks in Los Angeles, here's a interesting-looking event happening at USC next week, part of their "Visions and Voices" initiative: The Politics of Rich and Poor: Asian Americans in the Global City. It's a panel with anthropologist Aihwa Ong, filmmaker and community activist Spencer Nakasako, and novelist Nina Revoyr:


From transnational industrialists and elite professionals to low-wage laborers and undocumented service workers, Asians represent some of the richest and poorest segments of the U.S. population. This session highlights the class diversity of Asian America, the relationship of this diversity to the economics and politics of globalization and how Asians in the diaspora interact, and sometimes conflict, with other minorities and with each other.


This is happening in conjunction with three subsidiary workshops featuring each of the panelists, including a screening and discussion of Spencer Nakasako's incredible documentary Refugee. For more information, go here.

10.13.06

Apparently I was on the radio the other night. That panel I participated in at the Asia Society last month, "Confronting Asian American Stereotypes," was recorded, edited and broadcast on KQED this week. I had no idea, until people started writing in to tell me... If you missed it, there's an audio stream available here.

10.13.06

Just another quick reminder... if you're in the Los Angeles area, go check out Jeff Adachi's documentary The Slanted Screen. It's playing for a week at Laemmle's Grande Fourplex Theatre, starting today and running through October 19th. It's good stuff, with some good ideas, so make sure you catch it. Here's a review in the LA Times: 'The Slanted Screen'

10.13.06

So if you haven't already heard, Google bought YouTube, making millionaires out of founders Chad Hurley and Steve Chen: More deal details from YouTube founders. The lucky rich bastards. Making their fortune off the foolishness of the webcam generation. They can thank the Chinese dudes who lip sync to Backstreet Boys. And the countless guys performing backyard experiments with Diet Coke and Mentos. Or the crazy kids watching the old Anne of Green Gables miniseries, ten minutes at a time (you know who you are). But wait, YouTube has a third, lesser known founder—Mr. Jawed Karim: With YouTube, Student Hits Jackpot Again. Talk about lucky. The guy already hit payload while working at PayPal, when eBay purchased the company. Like hitting the lottery twice...

10.13.06

Anita Chang is among the candidates nominated for Glamour Magazine's Woman of the Year. The call her "The Survivor." According to her bio, she was in a car accident last year that left her with a traumatic brain injury resulting in short- and long-term memory loss... but was able to overcome her disabilities and resume her duties as an editor at the national desk of the Associated Press. That's a survivor. Vote for her here.

10.13.06

An Alameda County Superior Court judge has denied the California State Automobile Association's request to throw out a discrimination lawsuit filed by seven former employees. The employees claim CSAA fired them because the association wanted to discourage the sale of auto insurance in non-English speaking communities:


In her ruling, Judge Winifred Smith wrote that evidence was presented that showed the "CSAA was motivated to terminate (insurance) agents who served Chinese customers" because the association "perceived that insuring the Chinese-American community was not profitable."


The seven plaintiffs are all minorities, except for one white male. Read about it here: Suit against automobile association can proceed. That's racist!

10.12.06

San Diegooooooooooooo! The 7th Annual San Diego Asian Film Festival kicks off tonight with the Opening Night screening of Ham Tran's Journey From The Fall. It's one hell of a powerful, important film. The screening is actually sold out, but the festival does run through October 19th—that's eight days of kickass films, panels and events. Lee Ann Kim, executive director of SDAFF, wants me to mention "all the hot Asian Men coming" including Roger Fan, Dustin Nguyen, James Kyson Lee and Daniel Dae Kim. Well there you go. I gotta say, SDAFF is easily the funnest Asian American film festival I've ever attended, year after year. I'll be heading out again to San Diego this weekend to check it out, meet a few folks, and maybe make some blog updates from the festival. See you there!

10.12.06

Oh wow. Gene Yang's graphic novel American Born Chinese, which I've mentioned here a few times, has been nominated for the National Book Award in the "Young People's Literature" category: AMERICAN BORN CHINESE nabs NBA nom. The award is a pretty prestigious distinction—this is actually the first ever National Book Award nomination for a graphic novel. How cool is that? Read more about the Awards here, and get yourself a copy of the book here.

10.12.06

I'm told that Iranian American comic Maz Jobrani is on the new ABC show The Knights of Prosperity. He plays Indian lawyer-turned-cabbie Gourishankar "Gary" Subramaniam:


Back home in India, Gourishankar "Gary" Subramaniam (Maz Jobrani) was a superstar lawyer, but here in New York City he drives a cab to make ends meet. Reluctant to join the group at first, Gary has a change in heart when Eugene reminds him that, although he was a winner at home, here he chauffeurs old ladies to Broadway matinees.


The show is about a bunch of working-class, new-age Robin Hoods who scheme to steal from the rich and give to the poor—namely, themselves.

Also spotted Moon Bloodgood in a commercial for the Taye Diggs series Day Break on ABC. It's about a dude who keeps reliving the same day over and over. Oh, she dies in the first episode. But that's not really giving anything away.

10.12.06

Here's a story from the San Francisco Chronicle on Hong Kong actor/pop star Edison Chen: Movies, hip-hop, fashion design -- Edison Chen is an impresario for a new Pacific Rim. He plays the younger Andy Lau in Infernal Affairs, and appears opposite Amber Tamblyn in Takashi Shimizu's The Grudge 2, which opens in theaters on Friday.

10.12.06

If you haven't already heard... The United Nations General Assembly will appoint South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon as the next U.N. secretary-general on Friday, giving him a 2 1/2-month transition before taking over from Kofi Annan on January 1st: U.N. to appoint Ban as secretary-general

10.12.06

Yellowface! Comin' to a theater near you early next year in Norbit, starring Eddie Murphy. Doing his classic man-of-multiple-faces schtick again here (a la Nutty Professor), Murphy plays the adoptive Chinese father of the main character... it's not as rudimentary as taping the eyes back, but in essence, it's a non-Asian person playing an Asian dude. Judging from the trailer, he plays it pretty stereotypically (is there any other way?), with the accent and Chinese restaurant jokes and all that. That's racist! And it looks like Alexis Rhee ("Kim Lee" from our favorite movie Crash) plays the mother. Is this all really necessary? The movie is scheduled to open in February. You've been warned.

Meanwhile, Angelina Jolie is going to play Mariane Pearl in a new movie: IS BROWN FACE LESS OFFENSIVE THAN BLACK FACE? Looking supertanned, or something.

10.12.06

Meet Priyantha Silva, party crasher—according to this article, New York's most notorious: Crash and Burn

10.11.06

All right, tonight's episode of Lost is apparently a Sun/Jin-centric flashback episode. Last week was all about the pretty white people... let us now look to our Asian friends in the sailboat! As I've mentioned before, my man Tony guest stars in the episode, returning in his role as Jae. He tells me this might be his last time on Lost, and that in this episode he does stuff he has "never done" as an actor. I don't exactly know what that means, but it's certainly intriguing...

In other Lost news, this little spoiler bit for the ninth episode was spotted over at the TwoP forums:


Eps #309 (no title) features a beautiful Asian woman named Achara. She is a mysterious, sensual artist whose work is inspired by her ability to 'interpret' the feelings and desires of her subjects. Must speak English and another language, preferably Thai. So I'm thinking maybe Jack and his tattoos?

The description looks like it's from a casting call. I'm with the poster... it probably has something to do with Jack's tattoos. Lots of red flags though, when I see "Asian," and "mysterious, sensual." What kind of character/story are they cooking up?

10.11.06

We did it! Thank you to all of you who voted for my friend Jane in the "Be Wicked" Singing Contest. Guess what? Jane won! She took the first round and is the East Coast Finalist. How frickin' cool is that? She now gets to participate in the Finals in New York at the end of the month. Congratulations Jane!

10.11.06

Saw this item a few days ago over at Rice Daddies... So what we have here is a Chinese Hotel Laundry Bag, aka "Most honorable Chinese Laundry Bag," sold by Duluth Trading Company. Because as we all know...


No one knows laundry better than the Chinese. They've even perfected the bag. We've found it useful for carrying everything from dirty clothes to snorkeling gear, plastic toy sets, vegetables from the Farmer's Market. The real thing, these sturdy 100% cotton twill Chinese laundry bags have a mystic, irresistible appeal. No fortune cookie included, though. They measure 21 1/4"W x 24"H. Imported.


Ancient Chinese secret! I don't know, looks to me like a regular frickin' laundry bag. What the hell is so honorably Chinese about it? Silly, silly stereotypes. Selling lots of crap. That's racist!

10.11.06

Indian writer Kiran Desai, 35, has become the youngest woman ever to win the Booker Prize, one of the world's most prestigious literary awards, for her novel The Inheritance of Loss: Kiran Desai Wins Booker Prize. Apparently her mother had previously been shortlisted for the prize three times. The previous youngest woman winner was Arundhati Roy, also Indian, who won the prize in 1997 just a month short of her 36th birthday.

10.11.06

More on the racial tensions in Edison, NJ, after a summer that saw a lot crap going down in the township: Edison Works to Cope With Simmering Ethnic Tensions. Mayor Jun Choi seriously has his work cut out for him:


In this ethnically mixed township of 100,000 in central New Jersey ó the sixth-largest municipality in the state ó some residents still harbor resentment, while others are working to defuse the situation. The furor has set longtime residents against recent Indian immigrants, Indian against Indian and the mayor against the Police Department.


According to the story, the community is home to 17,000 Indians, 5,500 Chinese, as well as a sizable Filipino community. A rapidly growing immigrant population alongside a "disaffected, largely white, blue-collar population." This, of course, can lead to some "misunderstandings":


Normally, tensions are held in check, though misunderstandings persist. During last year's campaign, for instance, a resident explained to The Home News Tribune that she voted for Mr. Choi's opponent "because he speaks English," a statement that astounded aides to Mr. Choi, who speaks unaccented English.


Sorry, I guess Mr. Choi's perfect English wasn't quite good enough for this voter... Yeesh. Like I said, the Mayor definitely has his work cut out for him.

10.11.06

This article from InsideHigherEd.com has been making the rounds, about some of the challenges for Asian American students to differentiate themselves from pack when applying to colleges: Too Asian?. "Too Asian"? Why is it that Asian American students have to jump through higher and narrower hoops to differentiate themselves in the college admissions process? I understand that it's necessary for a competitive, college-bound student to want to try and step out from the crowd... but how far, and at what cost? "Rachel, for an Asian, has many friends." What kind of world do we live in when a school counselor can write something like this in a recommendation letter—and consider it high praise?

On a related note, this editorial was published in the UCLA's Daily Bruin, making the case that there are just too many Asians at the school ("Welcome to UCLAsian."): A modest proposal for an immodest proposition. Before you declare war on Mr. Levine here, do note that the piece seems to indicate at the bottom that it's supposed to be satire. It's so extreme, I had to suspect as much. That said, I think he takes it too far. Can you read this—even knowing that it's intended to be satire—and tell me it doesn't sting? His incendiary language that lumps the monolithic "Asian" as one yellow peril campus presence, referring to us as the "Asian invasion," "young Maos and Kim Jongs," and "pandas"? In the end, what's really the point of this piece? The shots hit a little too close to home, and that bugs. Hell, I'll say it—that's racist!

10.10.06

The Washington Post has an article on Indian Americans, one of the DC area's most populous immigrant groups, who are living transnational lives—splitting time between both the United States and India: A Broader Sense of Home

10.10.06

Here's an interesting article about YouTube's censorship practices, and how it decides what is offensive enough to take down (i.e. Michelle Malkin's video): A Slippery Slope of Censorship at YouTube

10.10.06

According to Variety, Benderspink, Sandbar Pictures and Fine & Mellow Productions are teaming to produce a remake of the Danish film Chinaman: Chinaman Remake in the Works


The story centers on a man whose life is upended when his wife of more than 25 years leaves him unexpectedly. During his nightly visit to a Chinese takeout restaurant, the owner makes him a business proposal whose results are far beyond his wildest dreams.


Okay, I don't know anything about this Danish film. I don't know who's in it, or what it's about, or if it's any good. I read this article and all I see is that it's called "Chinaman," and that makes me angry. But here's the synopsis of the original film, from IMDb:


Keld, an overweight, uninspired Danish plumber, is alone. When his bored, frustrated wife leaves him, he begins to eat dinner at the family-run Chinese take-out across the street. Working methodically through the numbered menu, he finds an unexpected friend in Feng, a genial man with his own concerns. Keld helps fix the plumbing in the diner, and then Feng asks for assistance with another problem: his Chinese sister requires a marriage of convenience to stay in Denmark. Enter Ling (Vivan Wu), a young woman who is not at all comfortable with this "strictly pro-forma" arrangement. Over time, Ling's gentle influence brings Keld into a world of tradition, full of surprising rewards and life-changing affection. This romantic tale has the fairy tale feel of what just might happen when people fall in love.


Can't say that enthralls me too much either. The original film, Kinamand, was directed by Henrik Ruben Genz and written by Kim Fupz Aakeson. I sincerely hope, at the very least, they consider changing the name for the remake.

10.10.06

Over the weekend, 25-year-old Junghwa Lee was fatally beaten by a group of men swinging baseball bats and pipes after he tried to intervene in fight at a Queens karaoke bar: Queens Man Is Beaten to Death Trying to Stop Fight in Karaoke Bar. More here: Queens student slain in fight at karaoke bar. Police have no suspects in custody. Did this really have to happen?

10.10.06

With his formal selection as United Nations secretary general by the Security Council, it looks like South Korean foreign minister Ban Ki-moon might be facing one hell of a potential crisis right off the bat... behold, North Korean nukes: South Korean Wonít Need to Wait Long, or Look Far, for First Crisis as U.N. Chief

10.09.06

In an attempt to resurrect his sagging career, Sylvester Stallong is revisiting the characters that made him a household name. The sixth installment of the Rocky series will be out this fall, and a fourth Rambo film has been announced: Rambo to Face The Serpent's Eye? The movie will apparently have Rambo fighting Burmese villains this time around:


The next chapter finds Rambo recruited by a group of Christian human rights missionaries to protect them against pirates, during a humanitarian aid deliver to the persecuted Karen people of Burma. After some of the missionaries are taken prisoner by sadistic Burmese soldiers, Rambo gets a second impossible job: to assemble a team of mercenaries to rescue the surviving relief workers.


Ah yes, Rambo will save the day once again! Production is set to begin in Thailand in January. Brace yourselves...

10.09.06

Well, I guess this is the big international news story from the weekend: North Korea says nuclear test successful. I don't want to succumb to fear prematurely, but hell, I'll say it—this is kind of scary. Keep an eye on this situation as it develops, because it's going to effect us all, one way or another...

10.09.06

This commercial for Burger King is creepy as hell, and doesn't make a whole lot of sense: Burger King Eat Like Snake Triple Whopper Commercial. Seriously, what is the point? And why Asians? Why? Why can't Asians just eat a frickin' Whopper like everyone else? Why do they have to slither like a snake, and do idiotic kung fu stuff? That's racist!

10.09.06

Yet another obsessive thing South Koreans are becoming infamous for... the popular heroes and idols apparently aren't rock stars or sports legends—they're professional video gamers: The Land of the Video Geek. Meanwhile, I must shamefully admit that I was never able to save the princess in Super Mario Bros.

10.09.06

The LA Times has a story on Emmanuel Moody, freshman running back for USC, and his uncle Michael Chang, who pushed the kid towards football excellence: Favorite Uncle. The story paints him as a positive influence, and while I'm sure that's true, I can't help feeling he comes off as overbearing and overzealous. Oh, Moody's uncle should not be confused with the former pro tennis player...

...That would this Michael Chang, now studying theology at Talbot School of Theology at Biola University.

10.09.06

Padmini Ramachandran, a star of Indian films who later started an influential school of Indian classical dance in New Jersey, died last month. She was 74: Padmini Ramachandran, 74, Actress and Dancer, Is Dead

10.09.06

The San Francisco Chronicle is running a series on sex trafficking, with a focus on the story of You Mi Kim, "a debt-ridden college student from South Korea who reveals how she was trafficked into sexual slavery in California." Here's part one: San Francisco Is A Major Center For International Crime Networks That Smuggle And Enslave. And here's part two: A Youthful Mistake. I know that sex trafficking is important issue to illuminate, but something about these articles, along with the photos, smacks a little of exploitative pandering...

10.08.06

The San Diego Asian Film Festival starts up this week, and it's gonna fun... but heads up, also going down later this month is the Louis Vuitton Hawaii International Film Festival, October 19-29. It's been called the premiere American showcase for Asian cinema, and just looking at their schedule, it really is. The festival website went live last week, and they've got an incredible-looking lineup of films, including highly-anticipated films like Feng Xiaogang's Banquet, Kon Satoshi's Paprika and Bong Joon-Ho's The Host, as well as Asian American features like Eric Byler's Americanese, Ham Tran's Journey From The Fall, Rod Oda and Kris Chin's Asian Stories (Book III) and Chris Chan Lee's Undoing, among others. It just an amazingly packed festival. View all the details and film listings at www.hiff.org.

10.08.06

The Texas Rangers are apparently looking at bench coach Don Wakamatsu as the strongest candidate to replace Buck Showalter as manager: Rangers start looking at candidates. Will that make him the first Asian American manager in Major League baseball? Heck, the first Asian American manager/head coach in all of America's major pro team sports? Can someone back me up on this stat?

10.08.06

Okay, when I receive an email with a subject line that reads "Michelle Malkin is a crazy bitch," I can only roll my eyes and wonder what the hell kind of crazy, evil and/or stupid thing the woman has done now. Malkin's latest target: YouTube, for allegedly censoring her lame-ass views without coherent cause. (Because they're just a company of right-wing hatin' liberulllls, she thinks.) Please. It's just pathetic: Do You Recall What Was Revealed. Every day, I hope and hope and hope that someone would just shut her up.

UPDATE: In other Michelle Malkin internet craziness, it appear that some fake photos of her in a bikini recently made their way onto the internet, causing quite a stir: Michelle, You Ignorant Slut.... Malkin Gone Wild! Woooooooo!

10.08.06

Hey Bay Area Broadway fans, here's something cool for you... the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California presents Asian Americans on Broadway: Opening Doors, a concert of some of brightest Asian American talents working in Broadway performing songs from their favorite hit musicals. October 13th and 14th at the Brava Theater Center in San Francisco. Go here for more details and ticket info.

10.07.06

This is for all the students out there... a bunch of conferences coming up soon that you might be interested in. Check out NAASCon 2006, the second National Asian American Student Conference, November 3-5 at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. The first NAAScon in November 2004 was a big success, gathering student leaders from around the country for workshops, speakers and networking. The latest conference aims to continue this dialogue on activism, education and empowerment. Learn more about registration and getting involved here. I will actually be attending the conference to present a workshop... more details on that later.

That same weekend... Launch 2006, a national conference for Asian American students. November 3-5 at the University of Texas at Austin. Conference highlights include guest speakers Lynn Chen (Saving Face) and SuChin Pak of MTV, and a special performance by The Mangos. Looks like it's going to be a pretty cool conference. Details here.

And a heads up for Asian American students in Connecticut, in case you thought you were all alone... check out IMPAACT, Identifying Missing Power of Asian Americans in ConnecticuT. A one-day conference on Saturday, December 2nd at the University of Connecticut. Empower yourself! And save the date. Details here. Looks like they're still working the details, but you get the idea. Sounds cool, so why not make some plans to be there?

10.07.06

Had a chance the other evening to finally check Jeff Adachi's documentary The Slanted Screen, a fascinating documentary about Asian American men in film and television. I think for a lot of us, it's sort of like preaching to the choir, because it raises a lot of issues we've certainly been aware of for some time. But I really admire the effort put into the assembling all the footage from Hollywood's history, as well as interviews with Asian American actors, producers and writers working in the trenches. It's one part history lesson, one part stroll-down-memory-lane (loved the 21 Jump Street and Best of the Best segments), and most importantly, it's a rallying cry to keep challenging Hollywood's long-enduring skewed view of Asians, by any means necessary. I can easily see this film being shown in Asian American studies and media studies classes everywhere. For now, the film will be playing one week in Los Angels at the Laemmle's Grande Fourplex Theatre, October 13-19. For details, go here.

And while we're talking about Asian men in film... I just heard about this weird-looking indie film, G.R. Claveria's A Study in the Orientation of Han Sum, a mockumentary about fictional Asian male porn star Han Sum. The film won the Best Mockumentary Feature award at the 2006 New York International Independent Film & Video Festival. View the trailer over at IFC Media Lab. Oh, there's also this odd site: the Official Han Sum Fan Club. Can't say I'm really all that impressed with what I saw in the trailer, but it's possible the film raises some interesting issues about Asian male sexuality.

10.07.06

Yet another incident of murder-suicide in the Korean American community, this time in New Jersey: N. Bergen man fatally stabs wife, leaps to death. According to the article, the man was 86 and his wife was 75! It's tragic.

10.07.06

This week, Petty Officer 3rd Class Melson Bacos pleaded guilty to conspiracy and kidnapping in connection with the April death of an Iraqi man in which seven Marines are charged with murder: Sailor 'Shocked' by Killing of Iraqi. The corpsman admitted he conspired to take 52-year-old Hashim Ibrahim Awad from his home in Hamandiya, west of Baghdad, plant evidence near his body and lie to his superiors about the shooting incident. The son of Filipino immigrants, Bacos was sentenced to 10 years in prison, which was reduced to one year in a plea agreement: Corpsman Who Failed to Halt Killing of Iraqi Receives Prison Sentence

10.07.06

Some more on The Departed... Infernal Affairs star Andy Lau has seen the remake, and gives it a passing grade (but not without a little criticism): Lau Gives 'Departed' an 8 Out of 10. He apparently dislikes the amount of foul language in the film (yeah, trying getting around that in a Scorsese gangster flick) and the fact that it has only one main female character (personally, I thought the love interests in the original film were the weakest characters). It's worth noting Manohla Dargis' review of the film in the New York Times, which observes:


Fine as Mr. DiCaprio and Mr. Damon are, neither is strong enough to usurp memories of the actors who played the same roles in the original ó Tony Leung as the good guy, Andy Lau as the bad ó both of whom register with more adult assurance. That's an observation, not an indictment. Comparisons between "Infernal Affairs" and its redo are unavoidable given how closely the screenwriter William Monahan follows the first filmís beats and scenes. But as fans of "Infernal Affairs" (and its two sequels) know well, the Hong Kong film owes an enormous debt to Mr. Scorsese, whose imprint, along with that of Michael Mann, is all over the trilogy. The Hong Kong and Hollywood action films are themselves doppelg‰ngers of a sort, and Mr. Scorsese, himself larger than life, is one of their biggest, baddest daddies.


This review in the Village Voice makes similar observations: Bait and Switch. But it's also worth taking a look at Grady Hendrix's review over at Kaiju Shakedown, who challenges Scorsese's assertion in the film's press materials that The Departed is not a remake:


But you know what gets my goat? A lot of the reviews say, "Closely patterned on the 2002 Hong Kong thriller..." (New York Mag) "ìInfernal Affairsî on which this pic is loosely based..." (Compuserv) and the name INFERNAL AFFAIRS doesn't appear until way down in the closing credits of THE DEPARTED.

Lots of articles mention that the screenwriter and Scorsese never saw INFERNAL AFFAIRS (or maybe just Scorsese never saw it? The story changes depending on the article). And then in the press kit, Martin Scorsese says "INFERNAL AFFAIRS is a very good example of why I love Hong Kong cinema but THE DEPARTED is not a remake of that film. It was inspired by INFERNAL AFFAIRS." Um, no. It's a remake. And although it spends the first hour looking as different as possible by the time we get into the second hour everything from blocking to stage business is being swiped from the HK original.


But he does give the movie a highly positive review. In the end, who's paying homage/stealing/borrowing/remaking who? Everything and everybody, baby. Personally, I'm looking forward to seeing The Departed, but I will continue to wear out my copy of Infernal Affairs.

10.07.06

Okay, this is it. One last push for my friend Jane, who is currently a finalist in the "Be Wicked" Singing Contest, for fans of the hit musical Wicked. Jane is an old and dear friend of mine—she's like family. And she's an immensely talented singer. I'm asking you all as readers and friends, if you haven't already, to register on the "Wicked Week" site, log in, and vote for Jane (voting ends tonight!). You'll find her under "Round One Online Voting" - "East Coast" - "Jane, 26, Finalist from Massachussetts." Sure, so the sound quality isn't great and the lighting's a little weird, but it ain't a film contest. She's a darn good singer, and she's my friend. That's really all the reason you need. VOTE FOR JANE!

10.06.06

I saw this commercial months ago, but kept forgetting to write about it... Basically, it's David Carradine continuing to cash in on public perception that he is some kind of wise Asian man: Yellowbook.com commercial. Quit faking! You're not Asian!

10.06.06

Okay, so as I mentioned before, Martin Scorsese's The Departed—the remake of Infernal Affairs—opens in theaters today, and it's got some pretty solid reviews according to Rotten Tomatoes. However, my man Brian of Asia Pacific Arts wrote in and informed of an element in the movie I wasn't aware of:


Just a heads up on The Departed. I saw a press screening of it a few days ago, and while
it's a really well made film (no Infernal Affairs though), it is
surprisingly insensitive to Asians -- namely, lots of inscrutable
Chinese villains lurking around in seedy Chinatown, as well as some
sinister mainland Chinese government agents who are made into inept
fools by Jack Nicholson and his gang. It's not a huge part of the
movie, and normally I can tolerate the stereotypes, but in a film
that's so indebted to Hong Kong culture, it's shocking that this is
the way it choses to give back to the Chinese.

Not so shocking is that none of the reviews yet that I've read have
mentioned this insenstivity. Asia Pacific Arts article to follow...


That's disheartening to hear, to say the least. Well, there you go. Steal the source material, keep the inscrutable Chinese villains. That's the Hollywood way.

10.06.06

Fortune magazine has just named Indra Nooyi, the CEO of Pepsi, as the most powerful woman in American business. Here's NPR's story on Nooyi, who was born and raised in India, and has been with Pepsi since 1994: Most Powerful Woman in U.S. Business Is Pepsi CEO

10.06.06

Philadelphia police are investigating restaurateur Susanna Foo's alleged assault of a Philadelphia Parking Authority employee because the alleged victim, Juanita Lewis, suffered a miscarriage over the weekend: Susanna Foo's alleged victim has miscarriage. 63-year-old Foo apparently went crazy on Lewis when she saw her ticketing a van making a delivery to her restaurant.

10.06.06

Here's an NPR story on some of the growing trends in diversity on network television shows like Lost: Networks Boost Diversity in Some Ensemble Shows. I definitely see a slight, ever-so-small improvement in the new crop of network shows. I think the success of large, diverse casts like Lost and Grey's Anatomy has shown that interesting, three-dimensional characters of color can exist on television, and other networks are jumping on the bandwagon. At the very least, Lost has spawned a trend of shows featuring large, diverse ensemble casts of characters brought together by some sort of contrived circumstance, i.e. Heroes, Windfall, The Nine...

Speaking of Lost, I was talking last night with Tony Lee, and he tells me he'll be appearing on the show next week reprising his role as Jae Lee, which means it'll be a Sun/Jin-centric flashback episode. Ooh, interesting.

10.06.06

Philadelphia police are investigating restaurateur Susanna Foo's alleged assault of a Philadelphia Parking Authority employee because the alleged victim, Juanita Lewis, suffered a miscarriage over the weekend: Susanna Foo's alleged victim has miscarriage. 63-year-old Foo apparently went crazy on Lewis when she saw her ticketing a van making a delivery to her restaurant. Ridiculous.

10.05.06

The water gets a little hotter (and dirtier) for Leland Wong, former power broker for LA's Hahn administration: A Salacious Turn in Wong Case

10.05.06

Just found out that Yoduk Story, the critically acclaimed musical set in a North Korean political prison camp, is on tour in the United States:


Based on real events, the musical Yoduk Story embodies the despair and hopes of the North Korean people. This story of the condemned unfolds in the political prison camp of Division 15 in the city of Yoduk, North Hamkyung Province. In the hellish lives of these prisoners, we discover the dignity that their tears are not of sorrow, their cries are not of pain, but of forgiveness, love and hope. This truth is realized through song and dance in the musical Yoduk Story.

The hellish camp of infringement on human rights, that North Korean regime invented; 21st century Auschwitz turning the entire country into a concentration camp; the main purpose of the Musical "Yoduk Story" is to depict the living hell through showing Yoduk concentration camp in Hamgyeong Namdo. Additionally, we try to express that, beyond the ideologies and dictatorship, the human dignity is the greatest thing through bringing the will of love and peace, which brings out the human dignity in the end. The motivation of this musical lies on the faith that it will contribute to the democratization of North Korea. The whole world is now attempting to reveal the true state of human rights in North Korea. If North Korea has the nuclear weapons, South Korea is now ready to drop a cultural nuclear bomb, the musical "Yoduk Story".


It's currently playing at the Music Center at Strathmore, Washington, DC, then later this month at the Scottish Rite Auditorium in Los Angeles. For more information, go here. Definitely sounds powerful, though not necessarily a feel-good kind of experience...

10.05.06

Well, The Departed opens this week... when I first heard they were producing a Hollywood remake of Internal Affairs, I just thought, hell no. Another one of these dreaded remakes, transposing the Hong Kong cop/gangster flick to Boston cops and the Irish mob. But then I started hearing about all the talent attached, and I thought, whoa, this could actually work. OK, I'm still pretty skeptical—if this movie sucks, there's no hope for Hollywood's remake racket. But from what I've been hearing, it's actually pretty good. What's kind of bothersome is that a lot of press I've seen fails to acknowledge the amazingly cool original film... Suckas! This story does mention it though: Nicholson Comes Unhinged, Freaks Out DiCaprio In 'The Departed'. If you haven't already, do yourself a favor and check out Infernal Affairs (pay no attention to the craptastic cover). Hell, get your hands on the trilogy if you can. You won't regret it.

10.05.06

An unlikely spot full of history... Part of an old barracks at a vegetable packaging and processing plant in upper Deerfield, New Jersey that was used as labor housing for Japanese-Americans and other groups will now be developed into subsidized town houses: A New Chapter for a Village, Once Barracks

10.05.06

Academy Award-winning filmmaker Freida Lee Mock's latest documentary Wrestling With Angels: Playwright Tony Kushner opened theatrically in New York yesterday. As the title suggests, the film is about acclaimed playwright Tony Kushner: The Reluctant Star: Tony Kushner in America, and in Action. Prior to meeting him, Mock apparently hadn't seen any of Kushner's plays. She was instead stirred by the one-minute speech he gave at her daughter's commencement from Wesleyan University. Her daughter, by the way, is Jessica Sanders, the award-winning director of After Innocence. Here's the official website for Wrestling with Angels, currently playing at the Film Forum through the 17th.

10.05.06

Wang has hit Taiwan... The success of Yankees pitcher Chien-Ming Wang has created an island of Yankee fans halfway around the world:


The most popular number on shirts here these days is 40, the number on pitcher Chien-Ming Wangís Yankees jersey. When a local convenience store chain sold a limited edition of subway fare cards bearing Wangís picture, people lined up for two days, fights broke out and the police had to be called.

Lawmakers forgave a colleague who fell asleep during a meeting after he explained that, like many Taiwanese, he had stayed up to watch a Yankees game that was shown live in the middle of the night here. Yankees games have some of the highest ratings on Taiwanese television, even for broadcasts that start at 1 a.m. because of the 12-hour time difference.


Just like South Korea, when Chan Ho Park hit the Major Leagues, or Japan, when Nomo started playing with the Dodgers, Wang has apparently turned American baseball into Taiwan's passion.

10.05.06

Hey, Asian dudes in a band! Hailing from Brooklyn, Winter Market, which includes Ronaldo Gonzalez and Nick Parmar, are altmusic.about.com's Myspace Band of the Week. I only got a taste, but they've got decent sound with all sorts of influences... At the moment, they've only got 104 friends. Maybe you can be their friend.

10.05.06

It's a hit! Lage Raho Munnabhai sounds like one crazy (and fun) movie: Bollywood gangster comedy makes Gandhi new pop icon

10.05.06

Here's former Bush official John Yoo on NPR, defending newly passed legislation regulating the treatment of terrorism suspects: Yoo Defends Detainee Measures as 'Rules of War'. Yoo helped formulate many of the Bush administration's policies for dealing with enemy combatants. All I can say is "ugh" in disgust.

10.05.06

Looks like George Allen isn't the only guy with some racial skeletons in his closet to answer to. On the other side of Virgnia's Senate race: Webb Denies Ever Using Word as Epithet. Jim Webb has his share of baggage too...

10.04.06

Well, it's finally here. Season three of Lost premieres tonight. The last time we saw Sayid, Sun and Jin they were sailing along in an attempt to rescue their fellow castaways who were being led into a trap. It's time to see what "The Others" are really all about...

10.04.06

Over the weekend in Seattle, a 32-year-old man overheard speaking on his cell phone in Tamil (a language largely used in India, Sri Lanka and Singapore) and some English at an airport was questioned and missed his flight because at least one person thought he was "suspicious": Man questioned and misses flight for speaking Tamil. It's getting harder and harder to be "foreign" in the United States.


But Parker had no explanation as to why a man speaking Tamil, which is spoken worldwide, would be considered suspicious. The person who contacted airport officials could give an answer to that question, he added.

Parker said the man was cooperative and boarded a later flight to Texas. He told officials that he would not speak in a foreign language on his cell phone at an airport in the future.


Hear that? English-only advocates have a new strategy in their holster. Fear. Speak a foreign language (spoken by millions worldwide), and get yourself detained at the airport. As George Allen would say, welcome to America!

10.04.06

According to a new report released by the Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC), "Asian Americans at the Ballot Box," Asian Americans grew from 8% to 9% of all voters in Los Angeles County and 8% to 13% of all voters in Orange County between the 2000 and 2004 General Elections. The report examines Asian American participation in the 2004 General Election and provides detailed information on the participation of Cambodian, Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese American voters. From the press release:


Despite this growth, Asian Americans have yet to realize their full political participation. While 78% of all registered voters in Los Angeles County and 73% of all registered voters in Orange County voted in the 2004 General Election, 71% of Asian Americans registered to vote in Los Angeles County and 68% of Asian Americans registered to vote in Orange County voted. Voter turnout was particularly low among Asian American youth. Only 57% of Asian Americans 18-24 years old registered to vote in Los Angeles County voted in the 2004 General Election.


Come on, APA voters. Represent! That goes double for you, 18-24 year olds. The full report can be downloaded here (PDF).

10.04.06

It's that time of year again... Kollaboration, Southern California's original big-ass Asian American community talent show will be holding auditions this Saturday, October 7th at CHA Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center. Limited spots available, so register now by emailing auditions@kollaboration.org. For more information, go here. Kollaboration goes down on November 25th.

10.04.06

The New York Times has an article on Zhang Yimou's production of Tan Dun's highly anticipated new opera, The First Emperor, which opens at the Metropolitan Opera in December: The Great Wall Rises (and Falls) at the Met

10.04.06

Here's some interesting information, sure to strike fear in the hearts of the George Allens of America: One in three Americans is Hispanic, black or Asian. The U.S. population, which is set to hit the 300-million mark this October, is one third minorities, with one in three people either Hispanic, black, Asian or, less often, indigenous Native Americans. Welcome to America! Oh wait, we're already here. We're born here!

Speaking of the Senator from Virginia... filmmaker Eric Byler is recruiting Virginia APAs to support Democratic candidate Jim Webb for Senate. Eric grew up in Virginia, so he's been following the whole "macaca" debacle since the beginning. He's spent the better part of a month in Virginia working to unite the APA community to respond by getting behind the Democratic challenger. Unfortunately, Allen's "Welcome to America" remark is not an uncommon sentiment. Case in point, in Eric's own words: Insomnia 2: Ugly Exchange at Pizza Joint. He also wrote a good article for IMDiversity: The "N-word," the "M-word," and Virginia's Midterm Senate Race. Get Allen out of office!

10.04.06

Artist Nikki S. Lee gained notoriety for herself as a sort of chameleon, transforming herself and assuming a multitude of identities:


For "Projects," a series of photographs that won her notoriety soon after they were first shown in group shows and art fairs in 1998, Ms. Lee transformed herself through a blend of clothes, makeup, diets, hair extensions, tanning salons, colored contact lenses, dance lessons and sheer grit to infiltrate wildly different milieus - tourists, yuppies, strippers, rappers, schoolgirls and retirees, among others ó and posed for casual snapshots with her new acquaintances.


Her latest project, A K A Nikki S. Lee, an hourlong film showing this week at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, is a documentary purportedly about "the real Nikki": Now in Moving Pictures: The Multitudes of Nikki S. Lee

10.03.06

Grace Lee's award-winning short film Barrier Device, starring Sandra Oh and Suzy Nakamura (who put in some great performances), is now available for purchase on iTunes (you need to iTunes to launch this link) for just $1.99. It was one of my favorite films from the festival circuit a few years back... Highly recommended.

10.03.06

The New York Times has an article on the hoppin' Sawtelle Blvd. area in Los Angeles, which owes a lot of its recent explosive success to Giant Robot: West Los Angeles: Boulevard of the Rising Sun

10.03.06

Backstage.com interviews several actors of color, who share their "experiences, opinions, fears, and hopes about being in the industry": Speaking Out. The interviewees include John Cho, he of Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle fame, who will be seen next in Michael Kang's West 32nd.

10.03.06

Private First Class James Joseph Dresnok, a US soldier who defected to communist North Korea more than 40 years ago will finally get to tell his story to the world in an upcoming film Crossing the Line, directed by Nicholas Bonner and Daniel Gordon: US soldier who defected to NKorea tells story in new movie. The film covers the stories of four US army defectors to the North. Sounds pretty fascinating... It premieres this month at the Pusan International Film Festival.

10.03.06

Jeff Yang's latest "Asian Pop" column is all about Georgia Lee's Red Doors and Jet Li's Fearless, and somehow, he's actually able to draw a connecting line between the two films: The Middle (Aged) Kingdom

10.02.06

S. Leo Chiang and Mercedes Coats' documentary To You Sweetheart, Aloha, about 94-year-old ukulele pioneer Bill Tapia, is airing this month on PBS. Learn about the film here. Go here to find out when it'll be playing in your area. It's also available on DVD here.

Speaking of documentaries on television, Jessica Sanders' amazing film After Innocence premieres on Showtime on October 19th. The film tells the story of innocent men wrongfully convicted of crimes, cleared by DNA evidence and their struggle to re-enter society after spending decades in prison. It's pretty damn powerful, and really really needs to be seen by as many people as possible.

10.02.06

Like many places of worship in our great country, the Jain Center of America in New York is not only a good place to pray, it's also an excellent place to meet members of the opposite sex: Praying for Souls, and Maybe for a Mate

10.02.06

Remember Young Zheng? This kid really wanted to stay in the United States. While immigration agents were escorting him on a plane to deport him back to China, Zheng broke free and repeatedly bashed his head against a wall until he blacked out. This crazy act actually bought him some time, prolonging his stay in the U.S. That was last year. Looks like now he'll actually be getting his green card: Chinese teen gets wish to stay in U.S.

10.01.06

Did you catch Survivor last week? The most boring ethnic experiment on television seems to have failed... after two episodes, the producers have merged the racially segregated tribes into two mixed-race groups: 'Survivor' Ends Segregation Game. Now what? Well, keep an eye on the Asian American contestants, I guess. Now that they've integrated the tribes, how long will it be before everyone on the island becomes unanimously irritated by Cao Boi?

10.01.06

Ain't It Cool News has some more information about that movie Nomad, the most expensive film ever produced by Kazakhstan (apparently intended to counter the potentially harmful effects of Sacha Baron Cohen's Borat on the country's image), about a "handsome warrior" who unites the Kazakh tribes and frees them from Mongolian invaders. See here and here. And a video clip here. Oh, those bad bad Asians.

10.01.06

Basketball star Yao Ming has been presented an award by the University of Houston as part of the 10th anniversary celebration of the University's Asian American Studies Center: Yao Ming gets award. Funny, the only thing I could think of when I saw the photo accompanying this story was, I wonder where Yao Ming gets his gigantic suits.

10.01.06

Ban Ki-moon, this is your time! Last week, the South Korean foreign minister moved significantly closer to becoming the successor to Kofi Annan as United Nations secretary general by maintaining a wide lead over six other candidates in the Security Council's third informal poll: South Korean Favored to Win Top Job at U.N.. Apparently this time around, it's Asia's turn:


Six of the seven candidates are Asian, in keeping with the unwritten but accepted notion at the United Nations that this year it is Asia's turn to occupy the top job. The last Asian secretary general was U Thant of Burma, who left office in 1971.


A fourth and more definitive informal poll is scheduled for Monday, and Mr. Ban has 13 favorable votes from the 15 Council members.

10.01.06

Singer/songwriter Vienna Teng was featured last week on KUOW 94.9 FM in Seattle: The Beat (her segment begins around fourteen minutes into the clip). Every time I hear her story, I wonder how many computer engineers out there are actually talented musicians waiting to bust out of their Silicon Valley cube. Check out Vienna's latest album, Dreaming Through The Noise

10.01.06

Next weekend in Los Angeles, A Pair of Doves Pictures and the Multicultural Motion Picture Association sponsors a special screening of "Three Narratives," showcasing three films directed by indie filmmaker Huy Chheng: the short romantic comedy The Kiss, the short dramatic thriller The Mailbox, and the feature length coming-of-age film Sweet and Sour. Saturday, October 7th at East West Players Theater in Little Tokyo. After-party at the Chop Suey Cafe & Cafe! Details here. Come support Huy, check out some films, and meet some new friends. What, you got something better to do on a Saturday night? Yeah, I didn't think so.

...Unless you're in New York for Jack Tung's album release party. K.O.A. Records presents The Life and Times of Chengwin, an album of original kickass instrumentals by Jack Tung (listen to samples over at his MySpace). The party's Saturday, October 7th at Trash Bar (CD included with $8 admission!). With performances by Sabastian Boaz, Volts, Kite Operations, Jack Tung, and Unipigeon.