Sunday, December 27, 2009

Are HP Computers Racist?

Any thoughts on why this is?

Friday, December 25, 2009

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Hip Hoppin' Toddler

Okay, this is not about hardcore politics or anything, but the tiny tot is definitely representin'.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Happy Teacher's Day (Cuba) - Yismari Ramos Tellez

As a dance enthusiast, I am grateful that I have amazing instructors enhancing my love of this art form. On top of this list is my Salsa teacher, Yismari Ramos Tellez. Yismari studied at the National School of Art in Havana, Cuba with emphasis on modern and Afro-Cuban folkloric dance. Her career includes dancing with the Tony Menedez Dance Company, the Ballet de la Television, and with Lady Salsa, an internationally renowned group, performing Cuban Son, Mambo, Cha-Cha-Cha, and Salsa.

Yismari has toured internationally in countries such as: Italy, Russia, Spain, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Ecuador, Canada and Panama. Now, aside from teaching at OCD and Dance Mission in San Francisco, The Beat in Berkeley, Gold's Gym and Club One in Oakland, and other venues, you can also catch her sing and dance in the Bay Area as member of the band Saoco. Lastly, she's currently the Artistic Director and Soloist with Las Que Son Son.

So, on Cuba's National Teacher's Day, I want to extend my appreciation for Yismari's amazing dancing skills and dedication to her students. Below is a pix of her teaching salsa class on this special day. She had just finished working our butts off on a completely challenging routine, thus the sweaty bunch. Yimari is in the middle with the yellow tank and big smile.

More pix some dancers in our class

Friday, December 18, 2009

Robot Invasion on Shoestring Budget - Fede Alvarez's "Ataque de Panico"

Something amazing has happened in Uruguay. Producer, Fede Alvarez, created a goose bump inducing short about giant robots and streams of spacecrafts invading the capital of Montevideo. Alvarez created the four-minute short, "Ataque de Panico" (Panic Attack) on a mere 300 USD budget. This little investment wielded him an increase by 100,000 fold when Ghost House Pictures (The Grudge, Boogeyman, Legend of the Seeker....) offered him a 30 million deal to create a feature film in the same vein as his short. Watch his initial endeavor below.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Cutest Kid Covering "I'm Your's"

Watch this amazing kid attempt one of my favorite song's this year, Jason's Mraz's "I'm Yours."

Jason's Mraz's acoustic version

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Kim Hiorthoy - Hip Iconoclast

Internationally respected graphic artist, filmmaker and electronic musician, Kim Hiorthoy, is producing some amazing music with captivating accompanying visuals. Born in Trondheim, Norway, he studied at this city's Academy of Fine Arts before continuing on at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen and School of Visual Arts in New York. See the graphic to his "My Last Day" LP to the left.

Even with this impressive training, he insists he's an amateur. In a 2004 interview, he elaborated, "I definitely believe in working with an attitude of knowing as little as possible about what you are about to do in order to not be constrained by efforts to 'prove' anything and also to be as open as possible to whatever it is you are about to do. To approach things without the limitations of professionalism." Check out "Alt MÃ¥ste Bli Anorlunda" below.

It is this free attitude that makes his creations so damn good. I'm really grooving on his music at the moment. He's made an astonishing 17 LPs (most are not full length), so there's lots of music to choose from. I'm particularly fond of "Goodbye to Song," with its scratchy background and abrupt stops that nonetheless doesn't disrupt the amazing beats. "This Record Can Not Set," not only has a wonderful toe tapping sound, it also has this amusing manipulated addition mimicking what I perceive as vocals. The cleverly titled, "I thought We Could Eat Friends," is a full on fun dance song that I dare anyone to sit still for.

He brings much of his skills together in his live performances where music and visuals collide. See below.

This multi-talented musician and artist impresses me greatly and I hope you'll give him a try. Check out some of his music on myspace and amazon.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Post War Japanese Photography - Rough, Blurred, out of Focus

Post War Japan marked a major shift in Japanese society. This included (re)defining Japan in the midst of reconstruction and heavy American presence. Young men who lived through the devastation and re-emergence of Japan began recording their surroundings with cameras and coined their approach, “Are, Bure, Boke“-style (rough, blurred, out of focus). Lasting mostly through the 60s and 70s, some of the more well-known images were published in the avant garde photography magazine, Provoke.

San Francisco Modern Art Museum has been collecting this important body of work since the 1970s. A compilation of their holdings appear in their current exhibit, The Provoke Era: Postwar Japanese Photography. Running through to December 20, 2009, this is a must see show!

From the first exhibit image of Moriyama Daido's "Stray Dog" (image above), you get a sense of the grittiness ahead. Indeed, these talented photographers managed to capture the every day in its rawest form. This is seen quite clearly with Yoshiyuki Kohei's "Park" series. Using infra-red, he took pictures of lovers and their voyeristic audience, including himself.
On the other spectrum of the long gaze appears the work of Hosoe Eikoh. His art comes from lighting and the ability to capture the split second the action takes place. "Kamaitachi #31" appears as an image seen behind the human eyes. We know it's fleeting but it is also all at once frozen for all time.

What I truly enjoy about this style of photography is its archival nature. Photographers like Shomei Tomatsu documented the heavy U.S. military presence three decades after occupation. The disdainful look on the soldiers face speaks to an unease experienced by both sides (image below).

With U.S. presence, the Provoke movement also showcased how the Japanese mimicked U.S. pop culture and in some ways making it their own. Watanabe Katsumi's image of three men in sharp suits, cigarettes in hand walking down the red light district mirrors the street life in the U.S. at the time (image below).

Getting the gritty images of Japanese life offers diversity and an alternative to the perfectly stylized images of geishas the west is accustomed to. This comes out in Moriyama's "Eros" series where he takes photos of women in the "love hotels" of Tokyo (image below). The out of focus images offer an erotic glimpse into the sexual practices of urbanites, greatly contradicting images of chaste Japanese ladies.

"Provoke Era" creations are awe inspiring. Aside from the rawness, the beauty of the photography is its archival nature. Photographers simply took a camera with them on their daily walks to capture their surroundings. Sometimes they shot photos while in motion, simulating how our eyes scan images in quick movements. See below Moriyama's city walk.

The success of any exhibit for me is if I feel like creating right as I get home. Though I already carry a point-and-shoot with me everywhere, serving as my own historian, I am now more confident that all my images, however imperfect, has value. So, the exhibit was a huge success for me. Don't miss it!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Moving Sand Art - Kseniya Simonova

24 year old Kseniya Simonova recently won Ukraine's Got Talent 2009 with her emotive sand art performance. Depicting devastation experienced during USSR's Great Patriotic War against the Germany in WWII, she drew tears from the audience and judges alike. Watch her work her artistry during the winning performance below.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Turkey Day!

Monkey Lounge hopes you are all spending this holiday with the one(s) you love. "Families" are special aren't they! I'm grateful I will have awesome Vietnamese food with my family today!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Palin 2012: SNL Gives Viewers A Glimpse Of Horrifying Future

V for Visitors

Have you been catching the new "V" series? A remake from the 1980s mini-series, the 2009 version seems to follow the plot pretty closely so far. I'm loving this version. The acting is top notch and story line gripping. Nothing is more compelling than humans fighting for their very existence. Of course the aliens have to be SUPER hot (verses scary looking ones), such as the Visitor's leader, Anna (see image). The premier even poked fun at this strange phenomena when a main character, reporter Chad Decker, asked the leader, "Is there such a thing as an ugly Visitor?" Can hardly wait for more episodes.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Revolution on University of California Campuses

To deal with the budgetary crisis in California, the state cut nearly 10% of its educational budget, or $2.8 billion including $813 million from the university system. That ranks us at the bottom 48/50 in spending for education.

In September 2009, staff and faculty at universities had their salary reduced by 4-10%. To add insult to injury, the state now is "borrowing" state employee money from our paychecks in the form of increased taxes to the tune of 10%. This "forced, interest free loan" will be paid back some time in April. Mind you, university employees are some of the lowest paying professionals to begin with. Not to mention we live in some of the costliest areas in the nation.

Additionally, on November 2009 the University of California's Board of Regents voted to increase student fees by 32%. That's an 83.2% fee increase since I began my employment at UC Davis in 2003. My students, many of whom come from working class families from the Central Valley region and Bay Area, were already working at least two jobs. Now, I imagine, many will drop out or have to work 3-4 jobs to remain in school. When would they even have time to study with that kind of schedule?

But, all is not lost. The UC Regents also voted on November 2009 for a 3% "annual merit" salary increase for the top university administrators. Some of whom make well over 400k. This is not including free housing, car and moving costs. Nice to know where our hard earned tax money is going. Glad some people are taken cared of during this depression.

Students and staff at the university level are not taking all this lying down anymore. Staff and faculty have re-energized the union and are striking. Students have organized rallies and occupied school buildings in protest. See below the beginnings of a revolution!

UCD students occupy Olson Hall November 19, 2009.
UCD students protestors taken from Mrak Hall November 19, 2009 and 53 were arrested by riot police.
UC Berkeley November 18, 2009 student rally and strike.
UCLA November 19, 2009 protest where 14 students got arrested.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Old School, Kick Ass, or Emo Vampires

Christopher Lee as Dracula

Robert Pattinson in Twilight

Rhona Mitra as Sonia, Princess of the Night

What's up with the vampires on the movie screens and tubes these days? Far from being frightening, sexually menacing or supernatural, they are whiney and asexual. What ever happened to the iconic images made popular by Christopher Lee or Bela Lugosi? I, myself am partial to the kick ass versions that began in the 1990s with the Blade trilogy and the Underworld franchise. Not to mention the feminist empowering, Buffy!

Now we have the likes of emo Robert Pattinson in the Twilight series. It may have begun with Brad Pitt's pouty role in the Interview with the Vampire. Whatever the origins, I'm not down with these love lorn wimps calling themselves prince of the night. It's blaspheme I tell you.

What are your thoughts on the different types of vampires and which ones are your favorites? Check out barelypolitical's hilarious parody on this topic.

How Zachary Quinto Stepped into Spock's Role

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

Originally a third-person action-adventure computer game, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time will hit the big screens 2010. Mike Newell (The Awakening, Four Weddings and a Funeral, and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) directs the film and it stars Jake Gyllenhaal (Donnie Darko and Brokeback Mountain). That already sounds good to me but added is Ben Kingsley playing the villainous nobleman really makes this movie a must see.

The plot is about a brave man chosen as heir to the throne after proving himself in battle. He then is left to guard the sacred dagger capable of turning back time. Along with a beautiful princess and loyal followers, they work together to find safe haven for the dagger while fighting off those who wish to possess the dagger for their own evil plans. Very exciting.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

New Avatar Trailer

Geeks, are you ready for the much anticipated "Avatar" film due out December 16. 2009?Director James Cameron is said to have developed some ground breaking technology for this 3-D endeavor? I'm very VERY excited.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Every Day Super Heroes

Watch this cashier do a seriously brave and cool maneuver.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Who You Calling a Monkey?

Holy crap! Costco were selling dark skin baby dolls called "Little Monkey." Who the hell thought of that? It's like having mixed race dolls named, "Precious Mules." Fortunately, complaints came in almost immediately. So, all of the "Little Monkey" dolls and their light skinned counterparts,"Pretty Panda" dolls, have also been removed!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Flying Underwear

Leave it to the panty obsessed Japanese to take their fetish to new heights, literally. And was it my imagination or did one pair have "Hershey Bar" stains? See below.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Funny Asian Guy - Ken Jeong

If you wonder why all the current comedies are using really funny Asian characters, you would be mistaken. There is actually only ONE funny guy and his name is Ken Jeong. He's been in everything from summer smash hit, "The Hangover" to the new TV sitcom, "Community." You'll also find him in "Pineapple Express," "Role Model," "The Office," and "Entourage" to name few.

Interestingly, Jeong's "day job" before making it in show biz was working as a physician. His knowledge of medicine came in handy when he played the OB GYN in "Knocked Up." Below is the extended version and, according to Jeong, the actors improvised 20% of the dialogue.

Jeong is married to a Vietnamese physician in real life and talks about that union in his standup.
Go Viet chicks.

Battlestar Galactica Hotties Cover Maxim to Promote "The Plan"

Grace Park & Tricia Helfer Cover Maxim Magazine

Shared via

Thank gods there's more Battlestar Galactica to come. I've been going through some terrible withdrawal since its final episode. "The Plan," a two-hour TV BSG movie written by Jane Espenson and directed by Edward James Olmos shows background stories that hopefully will explain some holes left in the series. You can get it exclusively on DVD, Blu-ray and digital download on October 27, 2009, while the rest of us will have to wait until 2010 for it to air on the SciFi Channel.

The cylon ladies, Six and Boomer, are helping out with promos. Okay, they are gorgeous toasters, but for the love of gods, could they have been made with more bulk to them!? Were the cylons short on parts or something? Talk about anorexic droids! Do you agree?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Rain Melts Californians

California is experiencing its first rain storm of the season. Having lived in other parts of the nation, I have some perspective on bad weather. This is what I know, Californians are spoiled brats about having good weather. For instance, because Californians rarely experience rain, when there is a downpour, we are besides ourselves. We don't know how to slow down on the freeway and wonder why we hydroplane so often. We stay home from work and cancel all appointments that require us to leave the house (guilty of that one). We glue to our TVs and radio to hear the latest weather report

How do we justify our fears? Well, we rationalize that rain is a serious threat. California may float away for god's sake. The state government doesn't do much to dispel our fears. In fact, if it rains more than two days in a row, you can be sure the governor will call a state of emergency. In short, we are whining babies when the first sign of bad weather rolls around. Do you agree?

Check out East Coaster's parody of Californian's reaction to rain.

Higher Education and the Dirty Professor

I am no Jehovah's Witness but there's something ironically poignant about them likening higher education to drugs and pornography (not that either is "bad"). Check out what appeared in their September 1, 2008 issue of Watchtower Magazine.

Did you catch the warning about: "A well-intentioned teacher urges you to pursue higher education at a university"?

Admittedly, I feel slightly dirty recommending graduate school to my more gifted students. Really, being a professor can be a rather thankless job at times. The tenure process is brutal; students with self-entitlement issues sassing all the time; and the pay is comparable to that of a monk. For a woman professor, it's basically like swearing yourself into a monastic life.

But, in all seriousness, academia is a fairly mild/safe institution. Not counting the occasional student suicide, rape, shooting and faculty sex scandal. No, really, I know it's not perfect but it's not as bad as drugs and only slightly worst than porn. Oh, unless you're one of those who fear your kids will get indoctrinated into liberal thinking...then yeah, that's a real threat. Maybe that's what the Jehovah's Witnesses were getting at.

Star Trek XI Gag Reel

I don't care that there's rumors of Zachary Quinto being gay, I still want his baby. If not him then definitely Leonard Nimoy's.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Another Adam Sanberg Hip Hop Parody - On the Ground

Local Berkeley boy does it again! Sanberg brilliantly breaks down hip hop styles on his SNL Shorts. This one is an over the top "angry white man" song.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Keith Kenniff - Master Musician

I am a pretty particular person, preferring ballads to instrumentals. That said, I love it when instrumental works make me question my biases. The musical creations of Keith Kenniff is a prime example. Trained the Berklee College of Music after having grown up in a musically rich and ecletic houseful of musicians, these influences appears in his albums.

Debut album, “Unomia,” appears decidedly trance but also infused with extremely organic sounds such as what sounds like sticky paper getting separated (or a dead TV) as heard in “Samsara”. “West Orange” is a sweet lulling piece mainly with the piano.

His album, “The Malady Of Elegance,” has a classical refinement to it by showcasing the piano with ambient crackling sounds. It evokes images of a music genius recording herself on a cassette tape. “Threnody” feels to me like steps taken during one’s lifetime—slow, deliberate, wondrous and frightening. “The Winter Of 1539-1540” chills me to the bone leaving me feeling quite uneasy, nice. In “Evelyn,” which happens to be my mother’s name, the quick and slow beats evoke the mood of hope.

The Album “Helios” goes back to a trance sound but much more upbeat in tone than his previous albums. “Hope Valley Hill” indeed exudes a feeling of hope that is grounded. “Mountain of Ice” though heavy in nature, still moves in a dynamic pace.

In the album, “Goldmund,” Kenniff turns to classical music again. Not nearly as intense as “The Malady Of Elegance,” it is no less rich in sound and feeling. Kenniff is a musical master in the making. And boy is he prolific.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Good Voice and Good Looks

With all the reality talent shows out there, seems sensational breakouts stars have been "interesting" looking people with phenomenal voices. Something about voices not quite matching with the physical that seems to tug at audience heart strings. Maybe it's just us thinking, gosh, I look like shit too, maybe I can also be an international star by conquering audiences worldwide. Susan Boyle, runner up of 2009's Britains Got Talent, is case in point.

Well, X-Factor, another British reality talent show just debuted American college student, Ethan Boroian. He's hot with a fabulous voice. Check out the video below. Sure there was editing to make it look like the women judges were hardcore swooning, but honestly, I think they probably were hard core swooning off camera as well. Maybe Ethan will break the "interesting" looking singer monopoly. American invasion, baby.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

White and Nerdy - Weird Al Yankovic

Remember "Weird Al" Yankovic with classic parodies like "Fat" (Michael Jackson's "I'm Bad") and "Smells Like Nirvana" (Nirvana's "Smells like Teen Spirit")? Well, seems like the dude continues to make music. His highest ranking single, "White and Nerdy" ("Ridin" by Chamillionaire and Krayze Bone) reached #9 on Billboard Hot 100 in 2006! Check it out below and the original it parodied. Oh, and I got every "nerdy" reference Yankovic sang. What does that make me?

White and Nerdy