tie a yellow ribbon airing on public television

Friends, you have the special opportunity to watch Joy Dietrich's indie drama Tie a Yellow Ribbon, beamed straight to your TV set through the power of public television. Set in New York City, the film offers a compelling view into the lives of young Asian American women through the eyes of the main character, a Korea adoptee, and delicately addresses the abnormally high rates of depression and suicide among Asian American girls. This isn't your typical public television offering. Here's a blurb and synopsis from the broadcast press release:
In TIE A YELLOW RIBBON, Jenny Mason (Kim Jiang), a Korean adoptee and aspiring photographer, walks the streets of New York in a state of resigned indifference. Her days are spent with white friends and colleagues, her nights with white men. She has no contact with her Midwestern family due to a childhood indiscretion with her white brother, Joe (Patrick Heusinger). She rejects any attachment, dumping men as fast as she can pick them up. Yet she longs for a connection that would make her feel at home—a home that she has lost and is forever seeking.

One day, her roommate asks her to move out, fanning her fears of abandonment. She moves in with the beautiful but troubled Beatrice Shimizu (Jane Kim) and meets super-cool Simon Chang (Ian Wen), whose socially awkward sister, Sandy (Theresa Ngo), lives next door. Raised in the predominately white Midwest, she is both fascinated and repulsed by the other Asian Americans whom she meets. Her indifference toward life starts melting away however, as she embraces Bea, who battles her own self-esteem issues with family and a philandering boyfriend, Phillip (Gregory Waller), and tries to help Sandy overcome her shyness. Jenny's biggest obstacle is opening herself up to the possibility of a relationship with Simon. Meanwhile, Bea and Simon encourage and help jumpstart Jenny's career in photography.

Suddenly, Joe appears at her door, shattering her current life. As Jenny searches for a voice and photographic style that she can call her own, she finds that she must face her unresolved feelings toward her brother and family, and ultimately reconcile her identity as an Asian American.

"I wanted to make a film that gave nuanced portraits of young Asian American women whose stories are seldom told in mainstream media. The dirty little secret is that Asian American women have one of the highest rates of depression in the United States," said writer/director Joy Dietrich.

"While this film doesn't attempt to explain the reasons why, it does expose the isolating, alienating factors that make the young women feel the way they do—the greatest among them the lack of acceptance and belonging. TIE A YELLOW RIBBON is ultimately about three young women's search for love and belonging."
The film is a quiet character-driven drama that grapples with some very real human issues. It's worth checking out, and hey, you don't even have to leave the comfort of your living room. It airs on public television starting May 1. Check your local listings, or search the PBS schedule here. And to learn more about Tie a Yellow Ribbon, go here.

filipino american reporter wins pulitzer prize

This news is a couple of weeks old, but I wanted to give some major props to Jose Antonio Vargas, who recently won the Pulitzer Prize in the breaking news category. He shares the award with other Washington Post reporters for a package of nine stories, two of which he wrote: Filipino Washington Post Reporter Wins Pulitzer.

Vargas wrote two front page stories on the Virginia Tech massacre, one of which included one of the first few interviews with an eyewitness to the shooting. And he found him on Facebook! He also wrote a story on how Virginia Tech students were using the internet "to let each other know what was going on, because it was chaotic" at the time. Nice work.

This is particularly cool news to me because Jose actually wrote an article about angryasianman.com a while back, almost three years ago, for the Washington Post: Incensed And Empowered. The profile put a very unexpected but interesting and welcome spotlight on this website. I've always appreciated that. Congratulations, Jose.

brenda song sues over escort service ad

Brenda Song, who stars in the hit Disney Channel show The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, has filed a lawsuit with a company called Vibe Media, which illegally used her image in an escort service print ad that appeard in L.A. Weekly: Disney Actress Sues Over Escort Service Ad. More here: Song Sings: See My Face in Court! Add some text and a phone number, and you've got an instant Asian prostitute.

As you can see, the ad has renamed her "Layla," who is allegedly a "Hawaiin beauty." Her attorney is looking for $100,000 in compensation, which actually sounds kind of low to me, considering that she's built an image and reputation as a clean-cut Disney star and the ad most certainly jeopardizes that. Maybe they thought they were using some random "exotic" image. It's time for Brenda to get legal on their ass. They've messed with the wrong Disney Channel star.

student pleads not guilty to making web threats

A follow-up on the 15-year-old student who was arrested a few weeks ago for making threats against fellow students at Glen A. Wilson High School... The 15-year-old student, who allegedly posted violent messages on the school's Wikipedia page, has pleaded not guilty to seven counts of making criminal threats: Student arrested for alleged threats on school's wiki.

While the threat prompted school officials to cancel classes on April 18, anonymous offensive messages apparently began popping up more than a year ago on Glen A. Wilson's Wikipedia page, including racial slurs aimed at Asians and possible shootings:
The writer, who said he was a student, hid behind an anonymous e-mail address to threaten by name Asian students at the San Gabriel Valley school, hurl racial slurs at the school's primarily Asian badminton team and allude to possible attacks.

"I would love to see her shot right between the eyes with blood gushing out from her mouth begging for mercy as she clings onto a single shred of life," read a message about an Asian student posted May 28, 2007. "Haha now there's a great fantasy."

School district officials and sheriff's detectives did not start investigating the messages until two weeks ago, after Wikipedia staff alerted them to a violent threat posted April 16, the one-year anniversary of the Virginia Tech shooting and a few days before the anniversary of the shooting at Columbine High School.

"On Friday, April 18, 2008, there will be a shooting at this school," the threat said, promising to target "a good majority of the badminton team and almost every single fob" -- a reference to recent Asian immigrants "fresh off the boat."
Rather disturbing. More details here: Violent threats on Wilson High's Wikipedia page went unchecked. I've been told by several people close to the situation that the kid who started all this, a sophomore, is actually an Asian American student himself. (Glen A. Wilson has a large Asian student body.) If this is true, it adds a really weird element to the case, considering its possible hate dynamic. Either way, the kid is still a big idiot. I have little sympathy for someone who does something like this.

disgruntled chef challenges boss to meat cleaver duel

This story amuses the hell out of me, simply because of the imagery it evokes. It's like out of a movie or something... In Scotland, a "crazed" Chinese chef challenged his boss—who had just fired him—to a duel... with meat cleavers. Oh, he wasn't messing around: Disgruntled chef challenged boss to meat cleaver duel.

After arguing with owner, Tat Chung Cheung, over a work permit, Xian Ming Wang grabbed the knives, placed a cleaver on the shop counter and screamed, "One for me and one for you." He then vowed to chop Mr. Cheung up, adding, "I have already chopped up a man--and I will do the same to you." How they settled things in the old country, I guess.

Wang admitted challenging his former to a fight, making threats of violence, brandishing the cleavers and placing a couple in a state of fear and alarm. He was jailed for seven months. That's straight up gangsta.

dartmouth community responds to comic strip

The above ad was recently published as a reponse from several concerned communities at Dartmouth to the racist comic that appeared last week in The Dartmouth. As you can see, the ad reprints the cartoon, provides a breakdown of its offending elements, and is sponsored by a large cross-section of the Dartmouth community.

Too bad the The Dartmouth charged them $437.40 to print the one-page ad. You think they'd give them a break, considering that it was The Dartmouth that made the idiotic mistake of printing the damn comic strip in the first place. Apparently, The Dartmouth even claimed they were doing them a favor by not charging a copyright fee for re-using the comic. Ridiculous. (Thanks, Hillary.)

south korea's gamblerz to star in hype nation

B-boys are back in a big way. According to Variety, the South Korean dance group Gamblerz, featured in Benson Lee's hit documentary Planet B-Boy, are teaming up with music producer/rapper Teddy Rile to star in Paramount's dance movie Hype Nation: Koreans hip to Paramount's 'Hype'. The movie, budgeted at $25 million, will follow dance battles between the Gamblerz and American R&B group B2K. The film will be directed by Alex Calzatti.

Production on the movie is scheduled to begin in July, with roughly 40% to be shot in the United States and 60% in South Korea. They're reportedly currently casting for a Korean female lead. Considering B2K's involvement, isn't this basically a sequel to You Got Served? No joke, knowing how awesome the Korean B-boy crews are, a friend and I actually hatched an idea for the sequel, calling it You Got Served: You've Got Seoul... long before I ever heard this news. Alas, it seems that Young Film has beat us to it.

Hopefully, with movies like Planet B-Boy, Always Be Boyz, and now this one, we're seeing a modern resurgence in the popularity and interest in breaking. Of course, the first time around, back into the 1980s, it led to some pretty ugly exploitation. (Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo?) But it's definitely good to see Asians leading the pack, and recognized as some of the best B-boys in the world.


bobby jindal on the tonight show

Dude. Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal made an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno last night: Late Night Laughs on McCain Veep Prospects. See the above clip. Is this man the future of the Republican party?

Believe it or not, for several months, the young Republican governor—the nation's first Indian American governor—has been discussed as a possible running-mate for John McCain. No joke. And now, his national profile has gotten a bit of a boost with this appearance on Leno. Could we actually see an Indian American vice presidential candidate running this fall?

Jindal has repeatedly dismissed the possibility, saying he intends to be governor for four years and run for a second term: Jindal says McCain won't ask him to be vice president. However, he hasn't definitively said that he'd refuse McCain if the opportunity arose. I guess I'd be more excited by this possibility if only Jindal's politics weren't so divergent from my own.

stories from the community... and beyond

Chinese Students in U.S. Fight View of Their Home: "Chinese students in the United States have been forced to confront an image of their homeland that they neither recognize nor appreciate. Since the riots last month in Tibet, the disrupted Olympic torch relays and calls to boycott the opening ceremony of the Games in Beijing, Chinese students, traditionally silent on political issues, have begun to lash out at what they perceive as a pervasive anti-Chinese bias."

Young Indians Abroad Return to Help Better Country: "All over India, projects to fight trash, pollution, global warming and poverty are attracting kids from the Indian diaspora who want to spend a few years, or maybe longer, pushing for social change in the mother country. For many, that means increasingly better jobs and pretty good pay, not to mention the chance to hang out with an international gang of friends."

Natural phenomenon: Michio Kushi is credited for introducing the macrobiotic and natural-foods movement—aka "health food"—in the United States nearly five decades ago. "Along the way he picked up acolytes and influenced the widespread adoption in this country of Japanese practices, including shiatsu, aikido, and sleeping on futons, and planted the seeds for the organic-foods movement."

Elite Korean Schools, Forging Ivy League Skills: This year, during an insanely selective college application season, two rigorous prep schools in South Korea—Daewon Foreign Language High School and Minjok Leadership Academy—have achieved a spectacular record of admission to U.S. Ivy League colleges. Their secret, it seems, is relatively simple: study like hell. These schools sound totally insane.

A Place Where Indians, Now New Jerseyans, Thrive: Oak Tree Road, which runs through Edison, New Jersey and into neighboring Woodbridge Township, may be America's liveliest little India, with 400 Indian businesses that attract Indian immigrants from across the region. Says Korean American mayor Jun H. Choi, "If I meet an Indian anywhere, everyone knows Edison, New Jersey. They know Mumbai, London and Edison."

Dry Cleaners Feel an Ill Wind From China: After a federal tarriff was imposed last month on, of all things, wire hangers imported from China, the wholesale price skyrocketed. As a result, dry cleaning businesses, which uses steel wire hangers by the hundreds of thousands, have felt a huge impact on their profits—particularly among Korean American immigrants, who own an estimated 65 percent of New York City's 1,100 dry cleaners.

not another michael jackson impersonator

Forgive me, but I found this video clip, from the TV talent show Britain's Got Talent, quite entertaining. I know it looks like your average Michael Jackson impersonator at first... but stay with it, because the performance pays off in a way you wouldn't expect.

haruki nakamura drafted by ravens

Over the weekend, University of Cincinnati free safety Haruki Nakamura was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens. He was selected by Baltimore with the second-last pick in the sixth round of the NFL draft: Nakamura, Craig drafted. He was apparently chlllin' at his apartment with his family during a draft day barbecue when he got the call from the Ravens. He was never really a top draft prospect, but after waiting all day, watching the television until near the end of the draft to hear word, it had to feel good to finally get that call.

graffiti hate crime in vallejo, ca

This is news is a couple of weeks old, but worth mentioning... In Vallejo, California, a woman recently returned to her home to find a racist message waiting for her. Someone had spray-painted "Fuck Asians" in foot-high, red letters on the white picket fence outside Maria Bitagon's home. What the hell.

The neighborhood has apparently had it's share of problems, and it's possible that Bitagon—who is described as a very outspoken—voiced her opinion about people hanging out in front of her place. The graffiti could be retaliation for that. Either way, it's plain stupid racism, and Maria will not be intimidated. Hell, you write something like that, it's not just directed at one person—it affects all of us.

Fortunately, Bitagon is using the incident to rally other residents in the area to improve their neighborhood and make positive change. The original news article has been taken down from the Vallejo Times-Herald website, but here's the Google cache version: Hateful words spark positive change for area neighborhood


this photo is awesome

I'm posting this photo because it's awesome. The sign. The look on her face. It kicks ass. That's Christine Tran, a student at the University of Washington, participating in a rally organized last week by anti-racism student group March 1st Solidarity. They were challenging the UW administration to divest from military contractors supporting U.S. troops in South Korea: UW students protest U.S. troops in South Korea. Like I said, awesome. (Photo by Nick Feldman.)

spoelstra steps up as first asian american nba head coach

Big basketball news... After an extremely rocky season, Pat Riley resigned today as head coach of the Miami Heat, and will be replaced 37-year-old Erik Spoelstra: Riley steps down as Heat coach, will be replaced by assistant Spoelstra.

Not only does that make Spoelstra's the NBA's youngest current coach, it makes him the first Asian American coach in the NBA. Ever. Spoelstra, who has spent 13 years on the Heat coaching staff, is Filipino American. And now, he's got his work cut out for him.

While Riley's 1,210 career regular-season victories places him among the best coaches in NBA history, he finished the season with the NBA's poorest record (15-67)—easily the worst of his 25-year-old career. Riley will stay on as team president, but it's definitely time to get some fresh blood in there.

national presidential town hall on may 17

Mark your calendars. On May 17, APIAVote, with the support of various national Asian American and Pacific Islander organizations, presents the first National Presidential Town Hall hosted by the AAPI community. It should be a really amazing day, with over 2000 community leaders, elected officials, voters, and students representing our diverse community from across the country expected to participate in this historic event. They've also extended invitations to the three presidental candidates, and are working with their campaigns to schedule their appearances at the event.

It's all going down May 17 at Bren Events Center at the University of California, Irvine. If you're interested in attending, general tickets to the Townhall are actually being allocated through a lottery system... but you gotta act fast—registration closes on April 30. For further details on the National Presidential Town Hall, including map, directions and hotel info, go here.

Also check out this very cool electronic APIA Presidential Town Hall, developed Global Leadership Expriences Online (GLEO) in order to encourage political and civic engagement through the internet, with easy accessible information for the average user on the candidates and vital issues. Check it out. (Thanks, Mike.)

racist comic strip in the dartmouth

Okay. I'll admit, I don't know the full context behind this controversy at Dartmouth, nor do I have the time or energy to fully research the issues at hand. However, what I do know is that last week, The Dartmouth published a comic strip that personally attacked an Asian American student with racist and sexist remarks. The comic is directed at a student named Bonnie Lam, who is apparently organizing student opposition to a recent lawsuit launched by members of the Association of Alumni.

Again, I don't really know much about the background of this lawsuit, but it's obvious that this comic has nothing to do with the actual debate, and merely goes for the cheap shot racist jokes, since Ms. Lam happens to be Asian American. The comic, reproduced above, is really difficult to read, so here's the text:
"Hey, Flex, you hear Dartmouth is outsourcing propaganda?"
"Why? So they can eliminate democracy and fudgepack the board?"
Somewhere in Asia ...
"Bone-y Ram, time for bed!:
"Just finishing my work for Dartmouth Undying, Mommy."
"Don't make me spank you!"
"From the Students to Alumni: 'lawsuit is taking away our abilrity for dialrog'
** don't tell anyone, especially students."
"Who is Bone-y-Ram?"
"Another self proclaimed hooker ... I mean leader."
"Ha ha. Mail order brides were better in 1891."
Do I have to say it? That's racist! While the comic made it into Thursday's print version of The Dartmouth, it looks like it's been pulled from the publication's website. See here: Comic Controversy. And here: Comic Description (and Pictures). Here's a note from The Darthmouth's Editor-in-Chief Katy O'Donnell apologizing and accepting responsibility for the publication of the cartoon: Editor's Note. The cartoon, "BlarFlex" by Alex Felix and James Bleuer, which appeared regularly in the paper on Tuesdays and Thursdays, has been discontinued. Good riddance.

uc riverside dropout pleads guilty to bomb scare

Remember this guy? Last June, ex-UC Riverside student Audley Yung was arrested for plotting and threatening to the firebomb the school. Graduation was quickly approaching, and Audley didn't want to break it to his parents that he had actually dropped out of school a while ago. Rather than sucking it up and telling mom the bad news, he instead threatened to detonate explosives during commencement in order to scare officials into canceling graduation. A bomb threat, in order to avoid his parents' disappointment. Yeah. Not a very smart plan.

Last week, Yung pleaded guilty in Riverside County Superior Court to possessing a destructive device and making threats: Ex-student admits to bomb scare so mom wouldn't know he quit. He's facing three years in prison when he's sentenced on June 12. Ouch, you idiot. I imagine Audley is feeling pretty stupid right now. A year ago, he was just a college dropout. Not great, but hardly hopeless. Now he's facing three years in a jail cell. And he was worried about disappointing his parents? The kid would've been better off telling the truth.

bao phi's racist ideas for hollywood 4

It's time for another installment of fake-but-painfully-real Hollywood movie ideas, courtesy of our man Bao Phi. This one's a doozy:
Bao Phi's Ideas for Racist Hollywood 4: Be The Reds: Translating Victory
(with thanks to C.S., J.L., and S.Y.K. for edits and advice)

THE PITCH: The fish-out-of-water story of a white translator, his Adopted Korean wife and their journey to Korea… with the exciting underdog success of the South Korean mens' soccer teams' battle for the World Cup in 2002 the dramatic backdrop for their transnational journey.

Brad Allen, an Asian Studies graduate of Dartmouth and Soccer fanatic, has his wildest fantasies come true when he lands a job translating for a team of Sports Illustrated journalists assigned to cover the 2002 World Cup in Korea and Japan – and his Adopted Korean wife, Kim, jumps at the chance to visit the land of her birth. Brad, an Irish American, teaches Kim that he knows what it's like to be a person of color because he hates the British and impresses a group of stoic Koreans with his extensive knowledge of Korean B-B-Q. Preview audiences are already buzzing about the heartfelt scene wherein Brad lectures both Kim - and the busboy at the L'hotel Sofitel they're staying in - that he knows what it's like to be a person of color because he's the minority as a white person in Korea. There won't be a dry eye in the theater.

As Brad teaches Kim how to pronounce sundubu jjigae, reminds her incessantly about how lucky she was to be adopted away from such a barbaric chauvinist culture and how she'd be wandering the streets eating out of grabage cans if not for her whtie adoptive parents, and narrowly saves her from a hilarious misunderstanding wherein Kim almost agrees to sign a 10-year contract to be the host of a televised game show in Communist North Korea called Spin Go Ill!, their cultural pratfalls and bumbling sweet romance will make you forget to ask the question, "hey, wasn't this fucking movie supposed to be about soccer?" (or futbol, depending on your nationality).

Starring: Napolean Dynamite's Jon Heder as Brad Allen and, in a bold move for such politically correct times, Angelina Jolie as Kim. Says Jolie of her gutsy decision to star as an Asian: "I believe in colorblind casting, and with my personal history with adoption, no one empathizes more with adopted people than me - not even adopted people themselves." The Oscar-nominated makeup artist for Norbit and Pirates of the Caribbean 3 is set to work his magic on Ms. Jolie.
Bao Phi is a mad genius. Once again, with a few tweaks, this could probably be real-but-bad movie. Let us hope, however, that nobody actually reads this and decides to make it.

chinese lawyers sue cnn for $1.3 billion

The fallout continues over CNN commentator Jack Cafferty's "goons and thugs" remarks... According to a Hong Kong newspaper, a group of Chinese lawyers are now suing CNN, saying that Cafferty's comments "seriously violated and abused the reputation and dignity of the plaintiffs as Chinese people, and caused serious spiritual and psychological injury to the plaintiffs": Chinese lawyers sue CNN over 'goons' remark.

The lawyers are seeking the restoration of the Chinese people's reputation through publications and in the media and asked for $1.3 billion—a dollar, apparently, for each person in the world's most populated country. I think these guys don't have much chance of winning... but if they are indeed triumphant, what I want to know how they plan on distributing $1 each to 1.3 billion people.

Meanwhile, here's another Los Angeles Times story on the protests by Chinese Americans in the United States over Cafferty's remarks, part of a wave of nationalism that has swept across Chinese communities around the world: Protest over 'goons' remark reflects a shift in Chinese Americans' views

research project: war, history and remembrance

Professor Khatharya Um at UC Berkeley is leading a national research project called "War, history, and remembrance," focused on second generation Cambodian Americans and Vietnamese Americans and their process of reconciliation and remembrance of the war and genocide. At this point of the project, they need surveys to be filled out by second generation Cambodian Americans or Vietnamese Americans who are between the ages of 18-35. If you're interested in participating, go here to learn more about the project and download the survey. If you have any questions or comments about the project, contact Leana Taing at LTAING@BERKELEY.EDU.


my view from the red carpet

As I mentioned before, last week, I attended the 2008 Asian Excellence Awards at UCLA's Royce Hall. Hosted by Dancing with the Stars' Carrie Ann Inaba and MADtv's Bobby Lee, the purpose of the annual event is "to honor Asian and Asian Americans' accomplishments in the arts and entertainment, sports and business." To see some photos from the red carpet, go here. Here are this year's winners:
OUTSTANDING FILM- Lust, Caution - Director, Ang Lee

OUTSTANDING FILM ACTOR - Tony Leung, Lust, Caution

OUTSTANDING FILM ACTRESS - Sharon Leal, This Christmas





FAVORITE TV PERSONALITY - Cheryl Burke, Dancing with the Stars (ABC)

FAVORITE REALITY STAR - JabbaWockeeZ, America's Best Dance Crew (MTV)
In addition, they presented honorary awards to YouTube co-founder Steve Chen, who received the Pioneer Award, and Oympic figure skating champion Kristi Yamaguchi, who received the special Inspiration Award. Hooray.

The event was fun, balanced with a lot of lame and cheesy. I've always had my share of objections to the way they've organized and run this show, but at the same time, what else have we got? There's the Latin Grammys, the BET Awards, et cetera—why not have our own awards show too? So we've got the Asian Excellence Awards. At the very least, it was an opportunity to gather a lot of folks from the community together and share a drink or two. Here are a few thoughts I had on the evening...

Jabba and Kaba... together again! Awesome to see the show kick off with a dance battle between JabbaWockeeZ and Kaba Modern. You all know how much I loved and supported them on America's Best Dance Crew. It's even better watching them perform live. It reminded me how awesome it would've been if both crews had made it made it to the top two spots in the competition. Skills.

Bai Ling was in the house, being her crazy usual Bai Ling self. You had to cringe listening to her stumble through reading her lines off the teleprompter. She's like an alien. She defies description. But like every good train wreck, you just can't seem to avert your eyes.

B.D. Wong won Outstanding Television Actor for his role on Law and Order: SVU. You know how to guarantee that you'll win in your category? Be the only one in your category who actually shows up to the award show. No joke. Naveen Andrews, Daniel Dae Kim, Masi Oka, Sendhil Ramamurthy—all no-shows. Not that B.D. doesn't deserve it. He's a talented actor who's been on television for years. And he brought his mom to the show! That's classy.

Sonja Sohn won Outstanding Supporting Television Actress for her role as Kima Greggs on The Wire. If you weren't aware, The Wire is pretty much the greatest show in the history of television. Her acceptance speech was extremely moving, talking about her mother's influence on her, and feeling accepted as a mixed-race Asian within the community. Love her.

Oh, another sure sign that you're going to win in your category? Have your co-star present the award. The Wire's Andre Royo (who is not Asian) was on hand to read Sonja Sohn's name off the envelope. I got to meet and talk with him briefly at the afterparty, and he was really cool, friendly guy. I was totally geeking out. I met Bubbs!

Tia Carrere performed two songs from her Grammy-nominated Hawaiian music album Hawaiiana... and she was great. I mean, I knew she could sing—remember her as rocker chick Cassandra in Wayne's World? Okay, maybe you don't want to remember that. Long way from there though. Good to see her doing something she really loves.

Holy smokes. It's Steven Seagal. Looking like he's seen better days. The guy comes off exactly the way you'd imagine. Dude, you're not Asian. No matter how hard you try, no matter how many martial arts moves you think you've mastered, you're not Asian. While presenting the award for Outstanding Film Actress, he went ahead and professed his love for all things of the Asian persuasion. Who invited this guy? Good Lord, don't encourage him.

While I probably would've given the Outstanding Film Actress award to Tang Wei, it was nice to see Sharon Leal win for This Christmas, if only because her acceptance speech was so nice. Yes, make no mistake, she is one of us. Her mother is Filipino, and she can do an impression of her, accent and all.

From where I was sitting in the balcony, I could see Ron Jeremy, live in the disgusting flesh. The girl sitting next him looked thoroughly grossed out. Presumably not his date, I hope. This has got to the be third or fourth time I've seen the guy lurking around at an Asian event. And there were dudes who want to take pictures with him, and shake his hand. Nasty. Of all people, why would you want to touch Ron Jeremy's hand?

Kelly Hu presented the Pioneer Award to YouTube founder Steve Chen. In contrast, I would like to shake that guy's hand—in just three years, YouTube has basically revolutionized the way everybody uses and views the internet. Also, I just want to know what it feels like to shake a gajillionaire's hand.

From my seat, I could also clearly see Ian Ziering's blond head among a sea of black-haired heads in the audience. Just sitting there, enjoying the show. I had to wonder, what is he thinking? At this very moment, what is Steve Sanders thinking?

The weirdest, most off-color moment of the evening had to be Rob Schneider receiving the tongue-in-cheek "Half Asian" Award, honoring his illustrious film career in acclaimed movies like The Animal, The Hot Chick, and of course, Deuce Bigalow. The whole segment seemed unnecessary and downright insulting, especially since a large number of the night's winners were also, in fact, half-Asian. And none of them had anything remotely as ridiculous as Schneider's "yellow face" role in I Pronounce You Chuck & Larry on their resume. Bad idea.

I'll admit, Schneider did have one funny moment during his acceptance speech, where he remarked that "Outstanding Asians on TV" awards also happen to be the "Only Asians on TV awards." He's got a point.

Each year, one way the Asian Excellence Awards attempts to generate more buzz, excitement and publicity about the event is to anchor the show with some "big name" non-Asian stars, mixed in with all the lesser-known Asian American personalities. It's sad, however, when the biggest names on your red carpet happen to be Quentin Tarantino (making his third annual appearance at the show) and that guy who played Mini-Me.

So by the end of the show, when Steve Sanders walks onstage to present the award for Outstanding Television Actress, that's a good time put all your money on Lindsay Price to win for Lipstick Jungle. It's the 90210 connection, baby.

Okay, so I know it seems like I'm mostly pointing out the lame stuff from the show, but really, there was a lot to applaud and cheer about. I appreciate what the awards are all about, and cach year, it does get a little bit better. We need this. Despite the demise of AZN Television, the awards will be televised this year for everyone to see, and I hope they continue to go on and grow for years go come. The Asian Excellence Awards will air this Thursday, May 1st at 6:00pm on E! Check your local listings, set your DVR. The show will also be available On Demand from Comcast starting May 7. To learn more about the awards, go here.


harold and kumar escape from guantanamo bay in theaters

All right, friends. Today's the day. It's the long-anticipated return of your favorite stoner buddy heroes... Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay opens in theaters everywhere today. I have seen the movie, and it is everything you have probably expected... and more.

The movie pretty much picks up right where White Castle left off, with Harold and Kumar bound for Amsterdam. Things, of course, go horribly wrong when they duo are mistaken for terrorists ("Bong, not bomb!"), and their trip takes an unexpected detour to a prison cell at Guantanamo Bay. What follows is the epic journey of two friends. A story of boys becoming men. A tale illegal substances. Neil Patrick Harris.

I think I've talked for months about the significance of the the Harold and Kumar movies. I don't think I have explain why it's so significant to see a mainstream Hollywood comedy with Korean American and Indian American actors as the titular lead heroes. The crazy thing is, on one hand, this is your typical outrageous gross-out stoner comedy. It's gross. It's disgusting. You will see seminal fluid within the first five minutes of the movie. It takes everything to the next level of craziness, for better or for worse.

On the other hand, it's this completely revolutionary and political movie, by virtue of the fact that these two Asian American characters get to just be. Be stupid, be funny, be imperfect, be regular average dudes. And it's great. Before Harold and Kumar, this was unheard of. For years, the frat-boy comedy genre has pretty much been devoid of Asian Americans, except as the lame butt of jokes. Suddenly, we get to see the Asian kids as heroes? It shouldn't be such a crazy idea, but dammit, it is.

Harold and Kumar is not for everybody. I know a lot of folks who did not like White Castle. If you didn't like the first one, for whatever reason, I guarantee you will hate the sequel. That said, most folks who are going to see Guantanamo Bay know exactly what they're getting into, boobie/pot/fart jokes and all. It should be a very interesting night at the movies.

excluded from the plan at the university of maryland

The fight for Asian American Studies continues... Got news that students at the University of Maryland are stepping up to demand that Asian Americans are included in the future of the University. The current draft of the University "Strategic Plan"—a document which governs future resource allocation and academic affairs policy for the next 5 to 10 years—completely ignores Asian American Studies and does nothing to address meeting the needs of Maryland's growing Asian American student population.

Given forecasted fiscal shortfalls for the state of Maryland, many students fear that Asian American Studies, as well as other academic programs dedicated to the study of race, gender, sexual orientation and issues of identity, face elimination or severe cutbacks in the case of a budget crisis. I think it's a legitimate concern, especially considering how we've seen a surge of hostility lately towards ethnic studies, race-based student groups, and the like (i.e. Arizona).

As the deadline nears for community input, several Asian American groups at the University of Maryland are preparing to lobby and write letters demanding that the Provost add provisions to ensure that Asian American Studies be protected and promoted one day into a Major. Other demands include that there should be more needs based assessment surveys so counseling services can be improved, and that there should be a space on campus for Asian American cultural events.

Do it, my brothers and sisters. Fight it. Here's a recent opinion piece by Lee Fang and Scottie Siu, published in the student paper, expressing their concerns about the Strategic Plan: Guest Column: Excluded from the plan.

asian american panels at the newport beach film festival

If you happen to be in the vicinity of the Newport Beach Film Festival this weekend, here's a cool event to check out... ALTRA Magazine has teamed up with the Newport Beach Film Festival to kick off their "Asian Films Cinema" showcase, hosting two separate discussion panels to honor successful Asian American media and entertainment professionals in the U.S. They're happening this Sunday, April 27th, 3:15-5:00pm and the Edwards Islands Cinemas – Fashion Island in Orange County. Here are some details:

The first panel is the post-screening Q & A of the Korean American indie gangster drama West 32nd at 3:15pm (the screening is at 2:00pm). Director Michael Kang, producer Teddy Zee, and cast members including Hans Kim will be in attendance. Watch the movie, hear from the filmmakers.

The second panel will feature both successful and rising Asian American professionals, talking about their careers and the media/entertainment industry: Bill Imada (Chairman & CEO of IW Group Inc.), Janet Yang (Producer, Dark Matter, The Joy Luck Club, The People vs. Larry Flynt), Camille Mana (Actress, Smart People, Equal Opportunity), Simon Yin (Actor, VJ of the channel formerly known as MTV Chi), Ron Oda (Writer/Director, Asian Stories (Book 3)).

The panels will be moderated by ALTRA Magazine's Publisher and Editorial Director Nancy Moran. Both events are free and open to the public. For the full list of films and ticket information for the Newport Beach Film Festival, visit the festival website here.

korean marathon runner arrested for attacking wife

What the hell. A man who came from South Korea to run the Boston Marathon has been accused of trying to kill his wife hours after completing the race: South Korean man accused of attacking wife after Marathon. Police arrested 41-year-old Kim Yong Sik earlier this week after being called to the parking lot of the Sheraton Hotel in Framingham. According to hotel security, Kim tried to choke the woman by stepping on her throat, then later kicked her while she was on the ground.

Kim told investigators (through a translator) that he had come to Boston with a tour group to run in the Boston Marathon. He apparently finished the 26.2 mile course in just under 5 1/2 hours. Perhaps he was mad he didn't get a better time? That's no reason to try to kill your wife, you idiot. Kim was charged with attempted murder and domestic assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.


wilson tong elected to u.penn's undergraduate assembly

Check this out. At the University of Pennsylvania, junior Wilson Tong has been elected chairman of the Undergraduate Assembly: Tong elected UA chairman for next year. Tong, the current vice chairman for external affairs, is not only the first Asian American chairman in the UA's history, I'm told that he's the first non-white male ever to hold this position at U. Penn. They apparently had one non-white female back in the 1980s. Props, Wilson. That's progress. Little by little, here and there... but that's progress.

man sentenced to twenty years for chinese delivery attack

Here's a very brief but very satisfying bit of news... In New York, a man who attacked a Chinese delivery man, stabbing him within inches of his life, will spend the next 20 years in prison for the crime: Man gets 20 years in attack on Queens Chinese food deliveryman. David Moore, 23, was sentenced yesterday after being convicted of attempted murder, assault and weapons possession for attacking Jian Lin Huang in October 2006. Justice. Gotcha, sucka.

rain/colbert "feud" continues

As fans of Stephen Colbert and/or Rain are aware, there has been long-running "feud" between the two personalities, ever since the Korean pop megastar beat out Colbert in 2007's TIME online readers' poll of the most influential people of the year.

senate passes filipino veterans bill

It's on. Today, the Senate passed S. 1315 (96 affirmative, 1 against): U.S. Senate OKs measure benefiting Filipino veterans. The Filipino Veterans Equity Act would give veterans' benefits to Filipinos who fought on the side of the U.S. troops during World War II. Fortunately, Senate Republicans were unsuccessful in their attempt to strip the bill of the provisions for the Filipino veterans.

Like I've said before, this never should have been under debate in the first place. Filipino veterans having been waiting for justice for over 60 years, after they were promised the same benefits given to other World War II veterans, but Congress took them away in 1946. This bill would restore some of those benefits. Now, the fight moves on to the House of Representatives...

man stabbed in hate crime attack

This week in San Dimas, CA, an Asian man was stabbed in the face and torso during a hate crime attack at Lone Hill Middle School: Attack labeled a hate crime. According to Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies, the attackers—a 15-year-old boy and a man in his 20s—shouted racial epithets and "White Power" while stabbing the man. Paramedics flew the victim to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, where he was listed in critical condition.

Deputies identified the 15-year-old suspect and arrested him, but the man in his 20s was not in custody as of Wednesday evening. Authorities can't confirm whether the attackers were members of a white supremacist group, but the sheriff's hate crimes task force is investigating the incident.

It's frightening. A 15-year-old! We're not talking about old, bitter white men hardened by life (a stereotype, I know). This is a kid. What the hell is he doing screaming "white power"? Someone had to teach this kid to hate. And that is scary and ridiculous. That's racist!

UPDATE: Authorities have arrested a "person of interest" in connection with the attack: "Person of interest" arrested in hate crime stabbing. Aaron Duggan, 27, was arrested on a parole violation but is viewed by detectives as the "primary person of interest" in the hate crime stabbing that left a 22-year-old Asian man hospitalized in critical condition.

Imagine, you're walking down the street one evening, minding your own business, and you get attacked by these punkass "white power" shits. And these guys wanted to kill. The victim was stabbed in the face and torso. It's jacked. I hope they get what's coming to them.

asian americans in hollywood

Hello. Last night, I attended the 2008 Asian Excellence Awards. Afterparty went kind of late, so I'm feeling it a bit this morning. Overall, it was a pretty fun night. Some cool, inspiring moments, mixed in with a bunch of lame ones. Every year, there seem to be fewer lame ones, so I guess that's progress. Anyway, I'll write some more detailed observations on the show when I get the chance to collect my thoughts. In the meantime...

Speaking of Asian Americans in Hollywood, here are a couple of recent articles... This one's the usual examination of Asian Americans in Hollywood, with a focus on the practice of "whiteout" (haven't heard that term before, but it makes sense)—replacing roles originally intended for Asian actors with more "bankable" white actors, like in the recent movie 21: Goodbye yellowface, hello whiteout?

This article is a bit more optimistic, giving a general positive overview of the state of Asian Americans in front of the camera: A new wave of Asian Americans makes significant strides in film and television. Basically, the message is that things in Hollywood are getting better, which is true, but definitely not where they should be. I think we can all agree with that.

Of course, everybody's talking about Harold and Kumar. Here's yet another article on the movie and its multicultural message, slyly packaged in a stoner comedy: 'Harold and Kumar' push the limits of multiculturalism. I liked this quote from co-writer/director Hayden Schlossberg: "The theme in these movies is that Harold and Kumar are sort of beyond race... They don't really care that much about their own identities; it's the people around them that sort of haven't gotten it yet."

And here's an interview with actor John Cho, also known as Harold, the MILF guy, and now Sulu: John Cho rises to the top, with Harold's help. Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay opens in theaters tomorrow, April 25. Watch it, and you will see John Cho's ass.


hate crime in wisconsin

In Wisconsin, authorities are investigating a possible hate crime after a Hmong family's truck was set on fire and spray painted with the letters "KKK": Possible hate crime in Windsor. Tell me, how is this a "possible" hate crime? That sounds like a definite hate crime to me.

The suspected arson happened at about 1:00am Sunday in the Town of Windsor, just north of Madison. Authorities disocvered the pickup truck in the driveway of a duplex where a young Hmong family moved in several months ago. The vehicle's interior had bee set on fire, and both sides of the truck had been spray painted, with the letters "KKK" in red on one side.

Detectives processed the truck Monday for evidence and are asking the public to come forward with any information about the crime. It might have just been some punk ass kids getting their kicks, but that doesn't make it any less disconcerting. I don't think it's any coincidence that the Hmong family on the block was targeted. That's racist!

ang lee's next movie

Some news on Ang Lee's next project... the Academy Award-winning director is returning to the gay genre with a movie revolving around the Woodstock music festival: Ang Lee making gay Woodstock movie.

Taking Woodstock centers on "the colorful life of a Greenwich Village-based interior designer and part-time Catskills hotel manager who headed the Bethel, N.Y., Chamber of Commerce. He issued the permit for the legendary 1969 concert on his neighbor Max Yasgur's farm." The film is based on Elliot Tiber's 2007 memoir Taking Woodstock: A True Story of a Riot, a Concert and a Life.

Lee will be collaborating again with long-time creative partner James Schamus, CEO of Focus Features. Their previous gay-themed projects include The Wedding Banquet and of course, Brokeback Mountain. Ang Lee is a badass.

filipino veterans benefits debated in senate

Lots of movement this week regarding S. 1315, the Veterans Benefits Enhancement Act... Yesterday, U.S. senators battled over whether to give pension benefits to aging Filipino veterans who fought alongside U.S. forces in the Philippines during World War II. This has been a long time coming, and to me, it's about justice.

The proposal would provide about $300 a month to some 18,000 Filipino World War II veterans living in the Philippines, but is opposed by President George W. Bush and Senate Republicans who say the Democratic-backed provision is too generous: Senate Battles Over Filipino Veterans Benefits.

In my opinion, this debate shouldn't even be happening. These veterans, who answered the call and risked their lives for the United States' war effort, should've been entitled to these benefits from the very beginning. Their recognition is long overdue. The average age of these veterans is 80 and time is running out to do what's right.

2008 asian excellence awards tonight

Tonight, we get a little taste of the big time, when the red carpet rolls out for the 2008 Asian Excellence Awards. Yes, the awards show returns for its third year to celebrate the outstanding achievements of Asians and Asian Americans in film, television, music and the performing arts. Hosted by Carrie-Ann Inaba and Bobby Lee, the live show happens tonight, April 23, at UCLA's Royce Hall. Comedian Russell Peters will serve as backstage host, providing the voice and comic relief. Special honorary awards will be presented to YouTube founder Steve Chen and Olympic figure skating champion Kristi Yamaguchi.

Award nominees include Devon Aoki (War), Sharon Leal (This Christmas), B.D. Wong (Law & Order: SVU), Parminder Nagra (ER), Navi Rawat (Numb3rs), Michaela Conlin (Bones), Michelle Krusiec (Dirty Sexy Money), Sonja Sohn (The Wire), Rex Lee (Entourage), Will Yun Lee (Bionic Woman), James Saito (Eli Stone), Cheryl Burke (Dancing with the Stars), Mark Dacascos (Iron Chef America) and many more. For the full list of nominees, go here.

Presenters include Bruno Tonioli (Dancing with the Stars), Christian del la Fuentes (Dancing with the Stars), Jack Yang (Cashmere Mafia), Daisy Fuentes (Shop Like a Star), Brenda Song (Suite Life of Zack and Cody), Roger Fan (Finishing the Game), Tamlyn Tomita (The Eye), among others. The show will also feature performances from JabaWockeeZ and Kaba Modern, singer/actress Tia Carrere, and rapper Roscoe Umali.

The show will be taped tonight, then air on E! Entertainment on May 1 at 6:00pm ET/PT, if you're curious. The show will also be available on Comcast On Demand throughout the month of May in honor of Asian Pacific Heritage Month. Yay.

I think I've already expressed how I feel about these awards, back when the nominees were announced last month. In short, I think an Asian American awards show is a great idea, but some of the nominees in these categories... what the hell? I just think there's a better way to do it. That's all I'll say. Nevertheless, I'll be attending the show tonight to check out the scene. Hopefully, I'll have something excellent to report back here. See you there.


lyrics born's everywhere at once in stores today

Awww yeah. Everywhere at Once, the much anticipated new album from hip hop artist Lyrics Born, is out in the stores today. And damn, it kicks some serious ass. I just downloaded it from iTunes, and I haven't even made it through the whole record, but I'm really digging it. You might have heard the single "I Like It, I Love It" on the radio. Great stuff. I'm going to be listening to this one all week.

To learn more about Lyrics Born, aka Tom Shimura, go to his official website here, and check out his MySpace page here. I'm told you can also stream the entire album over at Rhapsody.com. In my book, he's easily one of the most exciting artists out right now. Check it ouuuuut.

armed robber targeting asian students at ut

According to police at the University of Texas at Austin, a masked robber has recently been targeting Asian students on campus: Third armed robbery reported on UT campus. This morning a student reported an armed robbery that happened yesterday between 5:30 and 6:00pm at Taylor Hall. The suspect description is the same as in two previous robberies—a male approximately 6" tall, medium to muscular build, wearing a mask and gloves, and brandishing a weapon. In each instance, the suspect has demanded money.

This is the third reported armed robbery at UT in three weeks. The first robbery occurred April 3 at the Music Recital Hall and the second occurred on April 16 at Robert Lee Moore Hall. All three victims are Asian students.

Once again, we have string of crimes where Asians are specifically being targeted. Why does this keep happening? Is it because perpetrators think Asians are weak, easy targets? That we won't speak out, or won't fight this? To hell with that. That's racist! These assholes need to be caught. To all my friends at UT, stay strong and stay vigilant.

UTPD is asking all students, faculty, and staff to be alert and report suspicious activity. It's about safety in numbers. Avoid studying, working, or walking alone. If you have to study or work alone, lock yourself into your room/study room/office or sit facing the door. If you must walk alone, stay in well lighted areas were there are other people around. You can also contact UTPD at 471-4441 to arrange for a Sure Walk escort.

If you know any information regarding these three robberies please contact our Criminal Investigations Unit at (512) 232-9640. As always, if you see any type of suspicious activity, please contact UTPD at 471-4441 or 911 from any campus phone.

voting for obama

I like this. From the Nichi Bei Times, published back in January, an opinion piece by Wayne Nishioka on why he—and his 94-year-old father—are voting for Barack Obama for President: A Lesson from My Father: Vote for Obama. Here's an excerpt:
At 94, going on 95, my dad is voting for Barack Obama.

Why? Because he likes Obama's judgment and the fact that Obama's multi-faceted life forces him to see life from many different perspectives and gives him a fuller understanding of people. My dad also likes Tiger Woods a lot, but Tiger isn't running for president.

I support Obama because the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. I respect my dad's judgment. I studied Obama, read his books, and learned of the Asians in his family, his growing up surrounded by Asian influences in Hawaii, and his feeling the effects of harsh government policies while living in Indonesia for four years.

Obama's living in Hawaii gave him a historic and an everyday perspective of Asian life. Obama, in describing his family's arrival in Hawaii in 1959, makes historical reference to the indenturing system that kept Japanese, Chinese and Filipino immigrants stooped sunup to sunset in the sugarcane fields and pineapple plantations of Hawaii. My dad was in Hawaii for a number of months, living with an uncle, before his final leap to America. Obama also vividly recounts that a Japanese American man named Freddy, who ran a small market near his family's house in Hawaii, would save his family the choicest cuts of aku for sashimi and give him rice candy with edible wrappers. When I was young, I remember the fun of eating the "wrapper" around the rice candy.
Like Wayne's father, my whole family and I are voting for Barack Obama too. All eyes are on Pennsylvania today, where Hillary Clinton goes into today's primary trailing Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination. Once again, it's going to be another interesting day...

kang eun-il's haegum plus

My friends at Chaos Theory Music recently turned me on to the music of Kang Eun-Il's Haegum Plus, one of the most acclaimed haegum artists in the world, bringing a new kind of distinctive crossover music blending Korean traditional instruments with non-traditional genres. Kind of like the Twelve Girls Band, except Korean... and less cheesy.

Mixing a little bit of something old with something new, Kang Eun-Il has performed with world renowned artists and groups such as Bobby McFerrin, Luciano Pavarotti, Yoshida Brothers, Salta Cello, NHK Orchestra, and the KBS Korean Traditional Music Orchestra. Her music was also prominently featured in the score for acclaimed filmmaker Kim Ki-Duk's The Bow.

Kang Eun-Il Haegum Plus is currently embarking on the "Remember the Future" Tour, starting this week with east coast stops in New York, Durham NC, Washington DC, Culpeper VA, then back again to New York. Her music is very different from my kind of thing, but I like it. To learn more about Kang Eun-Il's Haegum Plus, the tour, and to hear some samples of her music, visit the Myspace page here, and her artist page over at the Chaos Theory Music site here.

cubs pull racist fukudome t-shirt

Well, that was fast. Last week, just hours after the Chicago Sun-Times published a story on that bootleg racist Fukudome t-shirt for sale near Wrigley Field, Cubs officials put a stop to the production and sale of the shirt: Cubs pull Fukudome shirt after Sun-Times report.

The Cubs front office was apparently flooded with angry emails from fans in response to the story, compelling officials to investigate and track down the vendor selling the shirt. Mark Kolbusz, who runs the souvenir trailer that sold the shirt, said it was his top selling shirt this season, but complied with the team’s demand to pull the shirt and cease production. I wonder how many shirts he actually ended up selling?

I'm sure that was a pretty easy decision for the Cubs—the shirt was an unlicensed product, using a trademarked Cubs logo. It's not like the Cubs were making any money off its sale, and they sure as hell weren't going to let anyone else profit from it, especially if it was going to generate this kind of negative response.

It's good to know that people spoke up about this. Of course, the existing shirts are out there. The damn things have probably become collectors' items or something now. Hopefully somebody can come up with a cooler shirt that actually celebrates Fukudome, rather than mocking him.

super don vs. import man

Okay. It's racist garbage like the commercial above that continually remind me about what's wrong with this country, and how far we still have to go when it comes to basic, everyday understanding of each other, and the proliferation of racist crap. It's one of those cheaply-made local commercials for South Oak Dodge, a car dealership in Matteson, Illinois, and it's... I can't describe it. Just watch it. You'll see what I mean.

Where do people come up with stuff? It's a few months old (it was added to YouTube last December), I think. But damn, this thing actually aired on television. Yes, that's a white dude in a sumo suit, rocking the incomprehensible, faux-Japanese growl. And then SuperDon comes along and kicks his ass (all the way back to Japan, presumably). Buy American, and kick the foreigner's ass! Selling cars, and creating anti-Asian sentiment at the same time. Awesome. That's racist!

UPDATE: According to Elaine Low of the Japanese American Citizens League, FOX Chicago (the main network airing the Import Man commercials) met with members of the JACL, the Asian American Institute, and the Organization of Chinese Americans, and have since pulled the ad after the groups relayed the community's negative response to it. The JACL and AAI also plan to meet with FOX Chicago's staff in the near future to continue the dialog on media portrayals of Asian Americans.

dichen lachman in joss whedon's dollhouse

Fans of Joss Whedon, the creator of popular TV series like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly, are probably aware of his upcoming return to network television with an original drama series called Dollhouse, starring Eliza Dushku. The show is another sci-fi-themed series about an elite team of secret agents who have "the ability to be imprinted with custom personalities and abilities for special assignments. When they return, their newly acquired memories are wiped." The show follows Dushku's character Echo as she "takes on a variety of assignments—some romantic, some adventurous, some uplifting, some illegal—and gains awareness of her role and confinement."

Okay, sounds interesting enough. According to various websites out there that are already following the production of Dollhouse pretty closely, Dichen Lachman has been cast as Sierra, one of "dolls." According to the casting breakdown, she's described as:
20's, Asian or any ethnicity - certainly not Caucasian. Strikingly beautiful. A Doll like Echo, she has every personality in the world but her own. Is not as self-aware as Echo, but is instinctively drawn to her as a friend. Series Regular.
I never got on board the Buffy bandwagon, but I became an admirer of Firefly and Serenity later on DVD. Whedon and Co. have built enough cred to have me at least curious about the universe they create with Dollhouse. I hope it doesn't suck. The show won't be out until the fall, or even mid-season, so I guess I guess we'll have to wait and see.


arizona proposal would ban race-based student groups

I've been hearing from quite a few concerned people about this... According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, an Arizona legislative committee has passed an amendment to a routine homeland-security bill (WTF?) that would prohibit students at the state's public universities and community colleges from organizing groups based on race. The amendment was approved by the Arizona House Appropriations Committee last week, and awaits a vote by the state's full House and Senate: Arizona Proposal Would Prohibit Race-Based Student Groups. This is ridiculous.

The amendment, introduced by State Rep. Russell K. Pearce, would also allow state officials to withhold funds from public schools sponsoring activities that "denigrate American values and the teachings of Western civilization." The proposal was added to Senate Bill 1108, a measure that has nothing to do with education but was intended to allow designees of mayors and police chiefs to serve on homeland-security advisory councils. Are you kidding me?

Dude, how is this possible? What the hell is going on here? Obviously, they're thinking of something very specific when they refer to "American values" and "Western civilization," and it sure as hell doesn't have anything to do with Asian American culture nights or conferences. This bill passes, and Arizona schools can say goodbye to Asian American student orgs, and all culture-based student groups and ethnic studies, for that matter.

In the words of State Rep. John Kavanagh, "This bill basically says, 'You're here. Adopt American values... If you want a different culture, then fine, go back to that culture." Oh, I'm sorry, Mr. Kavanagh. I was under the impression that my "culture" was actually part of what makes America so awesome. I have no culture to "go back to," because, well, I'm already here. Get used to it, you racist ass.

The implication here, of course, is that any group that gathers in the on the base of race or culture, such as, say, the Asian American Students Association, is inherently un-American. That's racist! Read the full text of the legislation here. Somebody, please tell me what "American values" are? Because I can't make it out through all the coded white supremacist language. Good Lord, something must be done about this... Stay tuned.

the countdown to harold and kumar

Anticipation grows for Harold and Kumar Escape and Kumar Guantanamo Bay, which opens in theaters this Friday. While the first movie has a lot of crazy, rabid fans, most people probably don't realize that White Castle actually only made about $18 million at the domestic box office—not a huge hit, by most standards. But the movie really took off on DVD, gaining bona fide cult hit status in dorm rooms acorss the country. I have a feeling the comedy duo will do a lot better at the box office this time around.

So, what makes Harold and Kumar so appealing, particularly among Asian American audiences? It's more than just fart jokes and boob jokes (though, there are plenty of those to go around). There's definitely something more to it... Here's an interesting Newsday story looking at the Harold and Kumar phenomenon: 'Escape From Guantanamo Bay': What's it about? (Full disclosure: I'm quoted in the article.) And another article on the movie, from a political and racial standpoint, here: Mining Post-9/11 America for Laughs.

asian actors manifesto

Just learned about this website, Asian Actors Manifesto. The site is maintained by someone claiming to be a talent agent who has decided to use his/her knowledge to help Asian Americans succeed as actors in Hollywood. Tired of seeing the entertainment industry's weak-ass representation of Asians, "Agent X" is using the site as a means of dispensing advice, thoughts and insider information to help push Asian Americans through the Hollywood ceiling.

There isn't a lot on the site just yet, but there are couple of casting calls for those who are interested, whether you're a novice or a veteran. By the way, "Agent X" is not me. I'm not entirely sure how legit this site, its author, or the information is, but it's certainly a cool idea. Just letting you know...

study finds insurance disparities between asian americans

National health care studies often treat Asian Americans as a homogeneous, and largely healthy group, but a new study analyzing three years of government-compiled data has revealed substantial pockets of poor health and low insurance levels within the population. In particular, Korean Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders register with lower levels of insurance than African Americans and whites: Study Reveals Health Care Woes of Asian Americans.

The analysis, conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum, found that the proportion of non-elderly Asians who are uninsured varies widely, ranging from 12 percent of Japanese and Asian Indians, 14 percent of Filipinos, to 21 percent of Vietnamese and 24 percent of Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders. Koreans have the highest rates of uninsured—31 percent.

Interestingly, the low level of insurance in the Korean American community is not the result of poverty, as one might expect, but rather because most Korean Americans—around 60 percent—either own or are employed by small companies that can't afford to provide their workers with health insurance. Among those Koreans with insurance, only 49 percent have employer-sponsored health coverage. To see the full report, go here: Race, Ethnicity & Health Care.

natalise's "china doll"

I saw this video a couple weeks back, but I've sitting on it, because I wanted to think of an appropriate response... It's the video for Natalise's "China Doll." In it, she plays this stereotypical Asian female character, starting right off the bat as a bad driver with a terrible accent... and it kind of just devolves from there: dragon lady, tourist, math nerd, masseuse, nail salon worker, you name it. The video is just crammed full of images that'll make you cringe. I mean, I get it. I think.

Now, I'm familiar with Natalise's previous work, and from what I've seen, she's talented and attractive, and has the potential to be a real breakout pop singer. But this song and this video... are awful. I kept waiting for the reversal, that bang moment where all this stuff gets flipped and subverted, and we see that her intention all along was to make fun of these stereotypes, but it never quite happened. At least, it was never apparent to me, in a way that really nailed it. And with lyrics like, "If you want to have a shot at my Fortune Cookie/You better act a little less like a Rookie..." Wow. Sorry, Natalise. Really really really not diggin' this one.

sikh student falls victim to hate attack

Heard about this through the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund... At Texas A&M University, a Sikh American graduate student was viciously attacked by an unknown individual in Bryant, Texas and had his turban forcibly knocked off of his head. The attack has been classified as a hate crime. Here's an excerpt from the SALDEF press release from a couple of weeks ago:
Sikh Graduate Student Falls Victim to Texas Hate Attack

SALDEF works with local authorities to ensure attack is classified as hate crime

Washington D.C. – April 11, 2008: A Sikh graduate student at Texas A & M University was viciously attacked by an unknown individual in Bryan, TX and had his turban forcibly knocked off of his head. The Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF) filed formal complaints with the Bryan Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation and has learned that the attack has been classified as a hate crime.

On February 28, 2008, Mr. Singh (name withheld for privacy) was walking back to his vehicle at a local Wal-Mart parking lot when he was approached by an unknown male who called Mr. Singh a ‘terrorist’ and then made other disparaging and racist remarks. Mr. Singh responded by telling the suspect that he did not want any trouble at which time the individual approached Mr. Singh and punched him in the face and head, knocking both Mr. Singh and his daastar (turban) to the ground. Mr. Singh did not sustain any major injuries.

The immediate reaction of some of the police officers involved in the case was less than ideal. Mr. Singh was initially discouraged from making a police report on the night of the incident. Within two weeks of the incident occurring, the Bryan Police Department allegedly closed the case, despite overwhelming evidence involving witness identification of a vehicle at the scene of the crime and a partial license plate which later matched the vehicle description.

After Mr. Singh reported the incident, SALDEF immediately contacted Bryan Police Department Chief Ty Morrow inquiring about the status of police investigation. SALDEF asked for a vigorous investigation and for crime to be prosecuted and classified as a hate crime. On March 31, 2008 the Bryan Police Department informed SALDEF that the incident had been re-classified as a class 'C' assault with hate crime enhancement. The necessary paperwork has been filed and the case is currently in active investigation.
Needless to say... that's racist! To read the rest of the press release, and to learn more about SALDEF's work, go here. If you believe you have been the target of bias, workplace discrimination, harassment, or a hate crime please contact SALDEF immediately via email or at 877-917-4547.

"should've known" by mud

Check out the video for "Should've Known" by Mud, from their album Yearbook. It's kind of a low-budget video, but they make do with what they've got. Besides, that's one serious kickass song. I haven't heard the album, but if it's anything like this track, I'll take it. And forgive me, but I think I've got a bit of a crush on lead vocalist Nikki Aclaro.

The video, directed by Alex Munoz, will be screening next month at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival as part of "The Gift of Sound + Vision," the festival's music video program. To hear more from Mud, visit the band's official site here, and their MySpace page here.

protesters target cnn in hollywood

Over the weekend, more than a thousand Chinese American protesters gathered outside CNN's offices in Hollywood, calling for the dismissal of commentator Jack Cafferty, who recently made remarks during a broadcast of The Situation Room referring to the Chinese "goons and thugs": Protestors target CNN after Jack Cafferty's remarks on China.

The protesters lined Sunset Boulevard, chanting "Fire Cafferty" and "CNN Liar," singing the Chinese national anthem and other patriotic songs, and waving Chinese, American and Taiwanese flags. What exactly did Cafferty say to get these folks up on a Saturday morning, yelling at the top of their lungs at a glass tower? Here's the quote:
On the April 9 airing of "The Situation Room," Cafferty said of America's relationship with China: "We continue to import their junk with the lead paint on them and the poisoned pet food and export . . . jobs to places where you can pay workers a dollar a month to turn out the stuff that we're buying from Wal-Mart. So I think our relationship with China has certainly changed. I think they're basically the same bunch of goons and thugs they've been for the last 50 years."
Yeah, that made a lot of people angry. CNN later said Cafferty's comments were directed at the Beijing government, not the Chinese people. But the protesters aren't having it. A similar protest took place at CNN headquarters in Atlanta. People are mad, Jack. Mad!


the children of huang shi trailer

I recently saw the trailer for The Children of Huang Shi, starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Michelle Yeoh, Chow Yun-Fat and Radha Mitchell, and directed by Roger Spottiswoode. I had heard about this movie a while back, and based on the description, it didn't really sound like something I was interested in seeing. The trailer seems to confirm my suspicions... The story, in short:
Inspired by true events, the film tells the story of George Hogg, a young British journalist, who rescues 60 orphaned children. He leads them on a treacherous 1000-mile journey along the Silk Road, through the Liu Pan Shan Mountains into the spectacular Gobi desert. Over the course of the journey he falls in love with a determined, self-trained nurse, and makes a friend in Chen, the leader of a Chinese partisan group. Madame Wang, a surviving aristocrat, assists in guiding them to safety in a remote village near the western end of China's Great Wall.
You've got the Japanese on one side trying to kill and conquer, and you've got the Chinese nationalists on the other side trying to conscript boys to fight in their army. Who will save them from this terrible situation? Ah yes. The white guy. Everybody's hero! You will be saved, good Chinese people, by Jonathan Rhys Meyers.

Yet another story where the white guy comes in and saves all the helpless Asian folks. Sure, sure, I know—it's apparently based on a true story. It just goes to show, you can have movie set in anywhere, during any time period, and still find a way to have a white guy be the hero... in the fine tradition of movies like The Last Samurai. You gotta love it.The Children of Huang Shi opens in limited release on May 23.

student becomes a flashpoint in china/tibet debate

Amidst all the recent protests and clashing between pro-China and pro-Tibet demonstrators, Grace Wang, a Chinese freshman at Duke University, unexpectedly found herself as the flash point of international ire and rage—targeted by thousands of internet threats of gruesome violence and death, as well as vandalism of her parents' home in China. All because she tried to be peacemaker between the two sides of the debate: Chinese Student in U.S. Is Caught in Confrontation.

On the day the Olympic torch was carried through San Francisco earlier this month, she came out of her dining hall to find a handful of students gathered for a pro-Tibet vigil facing off with a much larger pro-China counter-demonstration. Ms. Wang, who had friends on both sides, tried to get the two groups to talk, traversing "the middle ground."

In the end, I don't think she was able to accomplish much in the way of understanding on either side... however, the real conflict for Ms. Wang would come the next day, when a photo of her appeared on an Internet forum for Chinese students with the words "traitor to your country" emblazoned across her forehead, her Chinese name, identification number and contact information were also posted, along with directions to her parents' apartment in the Chinese city of Qingdao:
Salted with ugly rumors and manipulated photographs, the story of the young woman who was said to have taken sides with Tibet spread through China’s most popular Web sites, at each stop generating hundreds or thousands of raging, derogatory posts, some even suggesting that Ms. Wang -- a slight, rosy 20-year-old — be burned in oil. Someone posted a photo of what was purported to be a bucket of feces emptied on the doorstep of her parents, who had gone into hiding.
More here: New Freedom, and Peril, in Online Criticism of China. Obviously, Ms. Wang didn't expect the kind of craziness and international attention her actions would generate. And she sure as hell didn't think her parents, half a world away, would become the targets of retaliation: Student's home vandalized in China. Somebody apparently poured a bucket of feces on their apartment door. I mean, come on, who the hell does that? Her parents have reportedly gone into hiding.

Here's an opinion piece by Grace Wang in today's Washington Post on her ordeal: Caught in the Middle, Called a Traitor. She says it's been a frightening and unsettling experience, but she's determined to speak out even in the face of threats and abuse.


photo friday: storm shadow and the baroness

A bunch of new photos of the upcoming live-action G.I. Joe movie popped up on the web today. Among them:

That's Korean actor Lee Byung-Hun as Storm Shadow and Sienna Miller as The Baroness, two characters that fans of the original cartoon/toy/comic book know and love. The Baroness is looking pretty good (black leather, you really can't go wrong)... but damn, what the hell did they do to Storm Shadow? He's supposed to be a freakin' badass Cobra ninja assassin. Here, he looks ready for a night out clubbing in K-town. Ugh. Seriously disappointing.

Though I was a big fan of this franchise while growing up, I have to be honest, most of the news I've heard about this project has been pretty disappointing. It has the potential to be a huge disaster, and this latest batch of photos doesn't do much to make me think otherwise. However, the photo of Rachel Nichols as Scarlett? Hot.

girl dies in cheerleading accident

Damn. In Massachussetts, 20-year-old Lauren Chang died Monday after collapsing during a daylong cheerleading competition over the weekend: Cheerleader hurt in contest dies. She was competing with her cheerleading squad at the Minuteman Cheerleading Championships when something went wrong during a routine, and she collapsed.

According to authorities, she suffered collapsed lungs after apparently being kicked in the chest by a tumbler. She was taken to the hospital where she was pronounced dead on Monday afternoon. At the website for Energized Athletics, they've posted a memorial for Lauren.

According to people who attended the competition, the accident was just one of several that occurred during the course of the day. In fact, according to the article, from 1982 to 2006, 10 female athletes have died from injuries sustained—directly or indirectly—during cheerleading stunts performed at the high school and college level, according to the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research. First of all, who knew that cheerleading could be so dangerous? And secondly, who knew that there was a National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research?

UPDATE: Lauren Chang's family is calling for increased safety measures and emergency medical care at cheerleading competitions: Late cheerleader's kin seek safer contests.

lodestone theatre ensemble presents trapezoid

Southern California theater fans, I've got one for you... The award-winning Lodestone Theatre Ensemble kicks off its 9th season with the world premiere of Nic Cha Kim's Trapezoid. And this time, there going somewhere a little bit different.

Trapezoid, Lodestone's very first science-fiction mainstage production, tells the story of a Korean American poet in love hired by a technology think tank to put the "art" in artificial intelligence. When the robot creation falls in love with the human creator, it's man-made versus mankind with sometimes comic and sometimes tragic results. Yeah, that happens sometimes. I have not seen the show, but I admit that I might curious to see some man-robot love.

The show premieres April 19 and runs through May 25 at GTC Burbank. The cast includes Julia Cho, Antonia Grace Glenn, Alberto Isaac, Lanny Joon, Elaine Kao, Charles Kim, Ryan Mercado, Leonard Wu, Elpidio Ebuen, John Fukuda, Grace Kim, Stephanie Lincoln, Brian P Nichols and Enoch Wu. For more information about Trapezoid, go here.

welcome to chicago, fukudome

I know a lot of Cubs fans are happy about what Japanese outfielder Kosuke Fukudome has brought to the team this season... which is why it's so ridiculous that anybody would buy and wear this t-shirt: Fukudome doesn't find racist T-shirts in Wrigleyville funny. But a Fukudome t-shirt with a racist image is apparently the hottest-selling item at souvenir stands selling unlicensed Cubs-related merchandise.

As you can see above, on the front of the shirt is the traditional Cubs cartoon bear face but with slanted eyes and wearing oversized Harry Caray-sized glasses. It's accompanied by the words "Horry Cow" in cartoonish "Japanese" script. (The late Caray was the Cubs' longtime announcer, and among his catchphrases was, "Holy cow!") Fukudome's name and number are on the back.

Great. I don't know what's worse—the fact that somebody (who is apparently "an Oriental guy") made this shirt, or that it's so damn popular amongst Chicago fans. What a way to welcome the franchise's first Japanese player. That's racist!

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