Tuesday, December 28, 2010

United States is Officially India

I use to "joke" that the U.S. has turned into India. After all, just walking around the Bay Area, you cannot help but notice the plethora of foreign accents marveling how CHEAP everything in the U.S. is. Most seem to come from Europe brandishing their Euro bills. Just in case you're still in denial about the realities of the U.S. as a declined/declining world economic power, try international travel. The almighty dollar is no longer the standard at hotels and restaurants for conversions, it's the Euro.

The India comparison has now been taken to the next level with the recent announcement of Sir Elton John and David Furnish's newborn son from a surrogate in California. Nothing says poverty like sex trafficking and "affordable" surrogacy. And California of all places! We have always been in the top ten largest economy in the world and we're only a freakin' state. Oh, how times have changed.

Congrats the world, including the rapidly developing India. For some nations to rise, others must fall. Our time has gone and went and now how to climb back up.



Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry X-mas Y'all

Merry X-mas everyone. Thinking about going out to dim sum this morning. Just realized it's another thing Jewish families and mine have in common, we eat Asian food on X-mas day. Except I don't stop at Chinese restaurants. I also go to Asian grocery stores on Christ's b-day. Thought Asians were just money grubbin' capatalist, immigrant workaholics before. Now I realize, yes, maybe that explains them working on this holiday; but, it's also because our BIG holiday has yet to come -- LUNAR NEW YEAR! Many work on that day too, BTW.

Anyway, I digress. I once again wish everyone a really joyous time. I realize there's not much joy in a dying economy and so many of us in a bad way financially. But, the one bright spot is, it forces us to find other ways to enjoy this season (aside from spending money), say something as novel as spending quality time with our loved ones.

Please stay safe and merry.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Obama Haters

This post is probably quite overdue. It seems for months there, it was only the Republicans and I who were unhappy with Obama, for entirely different reasons of course. Now even those from his camp are turning into Obama haters. Let's just start off by saying a few things before beginning my tirade against Mr. Obama.

Firstly, yes, we all know Obama could not fix a truly broken economy in two short years. Sure, he's a newbie to Washington politics and is probably more busy "paying back" his supporters than making new and powerful alliances in the capital. To his credit, he has made some accomplishments: environmentally, in unemployment compensation, in passing a weak healthcare bill, curbing lobbyist, and my favorite, holding credit card companies accountable for hidden costs... All that said, I will simply attack Obama on his broken campaign promises.

1. Getting out of Iraq in 16 months.
Let's just say nothing of the sort is happening here. There is no withdrawal date set. I'm not surprise considering there is too much profit to be made with reconstruction and oil. No, the government and American people are not profiting, but then again, you know this. Disappointing but not shocked.

2. Universal Healthcare.
Yes, Obama passed a healthcare bill, but it does not serve everyone. Insurance companies, pharmaceuticals along with others in the private medical industry are protected. There is NO universal healthcare and NO public insurance option. This is a bastardized bill that serves no more than at slow trickle towards any real healthcare change. VERY disappointed here.

3. Dismantling of Guantanamo Prison Camps.
Gosh, here's a total failure in the "war against terrorism." There has not been ONE case of interrogation of prisoners in this camp that has lead to any real information about terrorism. Instead, people have been wrongly imprisoned, do not have proper legal rights, and separated from their families for years, causing another generation of anguish. Other countries don't want these "detainees" hence we should step up because we got them into this mess. Totally disappointed here.

4. Tax breaks for the middle class and ending of tax break on the very rich.
As today's news show, Obama supposedly "compromised" with the minority Republican House and Senate to allow for the Bush tax breaks to continue for another two years in order to get more unemployment funds. Tears and jeers.

5. Starting a war in Afghanistan.
Technically he did not say he wouldn't start a war in Afghanistan but damn! In the heals of winning the Nobel Peace Prize, Obama increases U.S. presence in Afghanistan. No news of effectiveness of this foreign relations decision other than it's a money pit that has only fueled corruption. As an intellectual, you would think Obama could have read a little regional history. Afghanistan is made up of hundreds of smaller tribes. There is no way to win the hearts and minds off all these tribal leaders and their followers. The region is so tretcherous that a land attack will only end badly, ask the Russians. Air attacks leads to extensive destruction of a country and will end in the massacring of innocent civilians, think Viet Nam. Billions upon billions of dollars is going into this campaign while the U.S. is in dire economic depression. Does not make sense.

So, how did we get here? Did Obama not have the numbers in the House or Senate? No, democrats were in the majority for the first two years of the Obama administration. Did the public that voted Obama into office want a centrist president? No, I think they wanted a hell raising progressive/radical to make dramatic and sweeping changes across the board. So, what gives?

Hell, I don't know the ins and outs of "agreements" made behind doors that ultimately result in policy change. I do know that it appears the Obama leadership has failed in the two short years he's been in office. Let's say hypothetically he's been "compromising" with the Right to have a peaceful four years that will ultimately get him some change. That is a huge assumption considering the Republicans have said they would stop ANY and ALL Obama initiatives. If Obama thinks they are immovable now, wait until 2011 when they have the House. Just recall the Bush years.

Obama's rookie mistakes includes the blind belief that the opposition are willing and able to cross the divides and support an Obama agenda (whatever that is). Playing the nice guy is not getting anything done. Wonder if that's why Ralm Emanuel bailed as Obama's Chief of Staff for a mayoral bid in Chicago. I'm waiting and waiting and WAITING for a more assertive and purposeful president to emerge.

I don't expect Obama to save us all; I never did. But, I don't expect him to cave into to obvious uncooperative opposition. I don't expect him to end wars overnight but I don't wish him to start a dead end, costly war either. I don't expect him to give us healthcare in two years, but I don't hope for a bogus plan that ultimately does not demolish a corrupt medical (insurance) industry but rather allow them to continue to hurt the American people. I don't expect my taxes to decrease, but I don't want to pay for any more tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans either. Apparently, all this is too much to ask for.

Let's not even get into other glaring issues. Banks have been bailed but bonuses run like champaign on New Years Eve and families are losing their home in the thousands. Not to mention billions of bailout money sits in banks while few new loans are giving out to hopeful new home owners. What about not holding more oil companies accountable for the destruction of the environment, including what happened in New Orleans. Or more aggressively moving towards a "green" America by regulating more energy efficient products and subsidizing alternative fuel cars. Oh, Lordy, and how about not repealing the Don't Ask Don't Tell military policy, even though all reports point to the positive nature of such an repeal? How can I even begin this list when Obama is so far for keeping his regular campaign promises?

What do you think?


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving and Gluttony

Happy Thanksgiving - the be thankful for what you have part, not the celebrating the massacring of natives one. Been eating like it's Thanksgiving since yesterday. Crab is the theme this year. Admittedly though, my idea of binging would be more like other's "normal" meal; so, I hardly feel guilty. Still, truly a holiday to justify gluttony.

Speaking of which, been following "The Biggest Loser" this season. Found myself especially interested in contestant Ada (see image left). Yes, it's because she's Asian American but also because she has a rather tragic history. Apparently, she was playing in a pool with her toddler brother when he drowned. She was a young child herself but her parents blamed her for the death. According to Ada, they have not been supporting or approving of her since and have been at times quite hostile.

A few weeks ago when all the contestants got videos from their families, Ada received nothing. Again, during the "makeover week" when families came to the fashion show to surprise the Biggest Loser "models," Ada's family was noticeably absent. Both times affected Ada but didn't keep her excelling in the challenges nor losing the weight (see image Ada's transformation below).

Made me think about how harsh Asian American families can be. Even while they are fully supportive in the area of familial obligations, they often neglect their children's emotional needs. It could be due to cultural and general differences when love is expressed very differently. The older generation tend to believe taking care of a child, making sure they are well fed, get proper education and not suffer...equates love. But, for the younger generation or American born kids, love is expressed physically through frequent hugs or verbally through affirmations and "I love yous." You can imagine how clashes can take place.

Also, expectations seem really high in Asian American families. You have to look and behave a certain way. If you get Bs on report cards, for example, you are considered a failure. If you're not stick thin, you will be called fatty. Pressures to conform including going into careers and marrying people of their parent's choosing is pretty common place. It's no wonder a person would overeat to sooth themselves.

That means appearing on a show about how people no longer have control over what they eat is seen as shameful. Ada's parents probably did not want to be associated with a show that blatantly displays their child in a negatively light and hence directly affecting the family's reputation. Ada probably sees her participation in "Biggest Loser" as an act of bravery and the first steps to gaining control of her life by getting back to a healthy weight and dealing with her own demons in the process.

So, even though this is Thanksgiving week where family tensions are often heightened, resist being a glutton. That's the moral of this story.




Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Bristol Palin Brings Down Dancing with the Stars

DWTS eliminations are fishier than normal this season. Sure I expect the popular "stars" to last longer than less known ones even if their dancing is superior. But, ultimately, I'm certain that the right person would win--meaning their dancing is very good and close to the being even the best. NOT this season!

Every week has been the same. First my girl, Margaret Cho, gets voted off, not for her dancing, but possibly for her politics. Inversely, Bristol Palin remains even though she's easily the worst dancer of the season, also due to politics. Speculation is the the Republicans and Tea Baggers (hihi) have been voting their asses off to keep her alive.

That's all fine except Bristol may very well win the mirror trophy yet she IS the crappiest dancer of the season. Did I already mention she sucks?! That kind of discrepancy may be too much for DWTS viewers to stomach. Her win would strip DWTS of any credibility as a dancing show. The backlash has begun though it just may be too late. I predicted Bristol would ultimately win the whole competition weeks ago when she undeservingly beat out Audrina Patridge, of the Hills fame.

Audrina was an true amateur with no dancing background but really blossomed as a dancer, the kind of story DWTS viewers traditionally ate up. Week after week dancers that showed marked improvements garnering their best scores were voted off. Yet Palin remains. People cannot even contain their shock anymore. Watch reactions to her taking out Brandy this week.

Even though it may be hopeless, I will actually get on the web and vote for my favorite, Disney star, Kyle Massey. He didn't start out as a ballroom dancer but each week his technique gets better and better. Oh, and he's all personality. I find him simply adorable. I also like his pro partner a lot, Lacey Schwimmer, a So You Think You Can Dance veteran. Watch below for yourself.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Missing my Bijou

It's been over two years now, but I still think of my lost Bijou daily. I hold onto the hope that years from now she and I will be reunited.

Because we blanketed the neighborhoods where she was spotted and taken, we know most likely the people that found her knew she already had a home but decided to keep her anyway. Hopefully they will understand one day they took and kept my family from me and return her.

This video reminds me of her and how much I love and think of her still and forever.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

No Justice, No Revolution in BART Killing

Last week Oakland announced the sentencing in the BART killing case that ignited a series of uprisings in Oaktown. Johanne Mehserle, the white BART police officer who shot a young black man, Oscar Grant, in the back while bounded, got away with murder. Mehserle was sentenced to the minimum possible --- two years, taking into consideration a combined 292 days in jail time served and good behavior. That means Mehserle will be free with a little over 2 months left to serve on a involuntary manslaughter verdict. Urggg!

Oakland remained relatively calm post sentencing. So, no revolution. This tells us again that police brutality, especially against men of color is not such a terrible thing.


Conan's TBS Premiere

Glad to see Conan back on TV. He looks great. I must say though, I was hoping he'd be goofier, wilder, and curse more. Heck, it's (basic) cable after all.

Looks great in a suit.

Still self-deprecating as evah.

Watched Conan's second day and WOW! Heeeessss baaaack! Cable does make a difference. Saw 10 seconds of ass cheeks. And I learned what "Tokyo sand blasting" is. A show that both amuses and educates. Gotta love it.

Conan also has a pulse on the international community as well. Love his expressions, especially after the Taiwanese animation.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Happy Be-lated HO-loween

So crazy busy this Halloween, I forgot to wish everyone a happy Halloween. But, I do have a video blog from the archival vault to share with you. Send in pix of your Halloween pix by November 15th to monkeyloungemail@gmail.com and I'll create a gallery for mymonkeylounge.com. Enjoy the vid.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Remember to Vote Tuesday November 2, 2010

Please remember to vote this Tuesday! Monkey Lounge is in California, so we throw our endorsements out to:

Governor - Jerry Brown (formerly Governor of California and Oakland Mayor)
Lieutenant Governor - Gavin Newsom (progressive Mayor of San Francisco)
United States Senator - Barbara Boxer (U.S. Senator - chair of Select Committee on Ethics and Environment and Public Works Committee )
U.S. Representative - Barbara Lee (U.S. Representative and the only member to vote against invading Iraq)

If you need a progressive voting guide for your locale, click here.


Saturday, October 23, 2010

The "Asians" Advance on the Amazing Race

So, you caught the "Asians" comment, right? Hello, what did I say about the invisible Asians? It's like, they are not "Kevin and Mike" or even the "father and son team," they are the "Asians." I'm so over this BS.

-Asian Out!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Happy One Year Anniversary Key of Awesome!

If you have not already checked out Key of Awesome, then you have not really lived, loved and laughed. A spawn of the Youtube channel, Barely Political, best known for their "Obama Girl" video, Key of Awesome specializes in musical parodies. Spearheaded by the ridiculously geeky cute, Mark Douglas, I simply cannot get enough of their social commentaries via musical spoofs.

Oh, and I sent Mark a quick fan note once and he actually responded! That sounded slightly pathetic but to hell with it, I'm proud to be a KoA fan. Just want to officially congratulate them on one year of great work and wish them lots of fun and financial success for years to come.


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Atomic Tom Rocking Out with iPhone Apps

Definitely takes the gimmick prize of the week.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Invisible Asian

Okay, why do I get the distinct and troubling feeling that Asian Americans are still invisible on TV. I will tell you why; here's a short list.

1. Two of the only three glee cast not yet profiled are Asian Americans, the third is a mulatto (apparently pc to use this term now). The Asian American "Tina" and "Mike" are hugely talented for their voice and dance, respectively, but nada. Additionally, in the 2010 premier, in reaction to the school reporter's inquiry, "What can you say about the rumor that you two are dating," Tina responded, "We can't date? why, because we're Asian, that's racist." Mike chimed in, "totally racist." Uh, what? Does it mean if they were dating non Asian folks, it's not racist? Strange, no, just bad racist writing.

2. Dancing with the Stars, as with most popular competitive reality shows, usually have interviews with the losing contestants on the network's talk shows. Nothing of the sort happened for the Asian American dancer, Margaret Cho, No talk of her afterward either like there still is about the Hoff and Bolton.

3. Kevjumba and his dad, who are still alive on the "the Amazing Race 17," have had so little air time since the first race. Like most Asian Americans in shows, they get the consolation prize of a web profile. What, yellow people don't have appeal? If it were not the fact they almost got eliminated, they may have had no prime time at all. Oh, and the "
Asians" comment is classic!

4. Ada, the invisible Asian American in "Biggest Loser" got all of five words aired before this week. She literally had to call out to trainer Juliana, asking her to help her have a breakthrough, before they gave her any air time. Jesus, she witnessed her own brother drown and was blamed for it by her parents her whole life. What is a more compelling story than that and it took pleading on Ada's part to get help. Sad.

I can go on, but that's enough griping for this week in TV land.


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Suicides and RU OK? Day (Australia)

According to national statistics, over 34,000 people in the United States die by suicide annually. It is also the 3rd leading cause of death for teenagers between 15 and 19. Life is hard but they are especially difficult for young people who have yet lived long enough to cultivate a sense of self and create supportive networks.

We live in a society that promotes idealistic experiences during ones youth. All other realities are shunned so young people only know to keep their pain to themselves. It includes physical, sexual, and emotional abuse at home, ostracization and bullying in school...

In light of recent suicides of GLBT youth due to bullying and social non-acceptance, we should consider what kind of society we have created. As many commentators have noted, before we ask, why the suicides, we must consider how our society has been complicit in creating an environment of intolerance. We have laws and policies that explicitly say same sex marriages and relationships are wrong. This is the message absorbed by GLBT youth. So, it is a lot to ask them to just buckle up and that "things will get better" when really, all they see around them is government sanctioned bigotry and oppression.

Other countries like Australia recognize that modern societies are terribly alienating. We may be aware of people's pain, but we either ignore or don't know how to address it. So, Australia created
RU OK? Day, which began October 7, 2009. On this day annually, you are to ask people around if they are in fact doing okay and extend aid anyway you can.

I find it a bit comical as with all national holidays, in that it only lasts one day. I mean would it go like this?: "Are you OK today? But only today, okay? I didn't give a shit yesterday and certainly won't tomorrow; but, TODAY, genuinely, you okay?" All joking aside, suicide is an important issue. Tolerance, kindness and sincerely caring for your fellow human beings should be a given. What do you think you can do?


Margaret Cho was Robbed on Dancing with the Stars

If you do not already know, Dancing with the Stars (DWTS) is a TV show where stars from all sectors of entertainment are matched with professional dancers. They train the stars to perform typical ballroom dances ranging from the samba to the waltz. The appeal is that these stars supposedly have no dancing skills but through proper cultivation, eventually blossom into dancing swans.

Needless to say, I use to avoid DWTS like the plague. As a dance enthusiast, I saw no joy from watching "stars" I've never heard of dance badly, really badly. My mind change around DWTS third or forth season. I saw that it was not merely a popularity contests where the public calls in to vote for their favorite "stars" and not the best dancer. As proof, unlikely Olympian stars Kristi Yamaguchi and Shawn Johnson and even the goofy Donny Osmond have won in past seasons. I was sold.

I especially looked forward to this season with the likes of Margaret Cho, my favorite female comedienne. I find her stand ups revolutionary, daring and smart. I use her skits regularly as teaching material in my classes. A champion of marginalized people's everywhere, I was overjoyed to see her on DWTS. To top it off, she is a damn good dancer. She has skills and heart and just a great attitude.

Her elimination this week broke my heart. Why did she get kicked out? No, not because her samba sucked. In honesty, it was fairly sloppy and she had done better in weeks past. But it was far from being atrocious like dances done by "Dead Arm" Michael Bolton and "Pigeon Boy" the Situation (see images above, left and right respectively). So, why, why did she get kicked off?

I believe it was because she essentially dedicated her dance to the LGBT community. She wore a gay pride inspired flapper dress and openly stated her dance was about, "...expressing pride and happiness and joy. It's about coming out as beautiful, coming out as me."

Even her partner, Louis van Amstel, seemed noticeably upset by Cho's overt gay comments. It's unclear if he signed up for the gay agenda but he probably knew it was the beginning of the end for them as contestants there. Mainstream America simply are put off by blatant celebrations of gayness. So, it was not strategic of Cho but I have more respect for her than ever. The American public robbed Cho, not only of her chance to really grow as a dancer, but also a mainstream platform to advocate for the LGBT community.

DWTS is much less interesting this season without her.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

"Going up Country" with Kitty, Daisy & Lewis

If you don't know about the sister and brother rocker trio, Kitty, Daisy & Lewis, from Camden Town, England, now's the time to take a listen. Do it now and you'll instantly increase your kool-points on the hipstomatic-meter. Living at home with their parents, they tour with Billy Bragg and make all analog recordings on tape with old BBC and RCA mics in their home studio. Their releases have been on 45 and 78rpm vinyl, until very recently, when they became available on cd and iTunes. They're good - really good - extra-special good - and as you can see in the 5min mini-documentary, they are completely hot and a lot of fun. "Going up Country" has a nice warm rich analog sound. Kitty Daisy & Lewis have nailed the old rock'n roll sound and the DIY aesthetic.

Kitty (17) plays drums, harmonica, ukulele, banjo, trombone and guitar. Daisy (22) the lead singer also plays drums, piano, accordion and xylophone. Lewis (19) plays guitar, piano, banjo, lapsteel and drums. They needed a bass player and hey asked their mum. She hadn't played bass before but she learned and joined in. Don't miss out on the chance to have a lot of fun and beat your friends in the race to be the hippest kid on the block, check out Kitty Daisy & Lewis now.

- mochi mochi


Monday, September 13, 2010

VMA Review

I don't watch anything MTV anymore. It's turned completely into a reality black hole so what's the point. To think, in its heyday, it really did offer us the best and latest in the music world. It was so connected with the youth, alternative culture and the truth, and the only US channel I tuned in for the news reports. All this said, I'm still down with their annual Music Video Awards. Last night's show was one of the better ones.

What FIVE things were right about the show even when they were soooo wrong.
1. Chelsea Lately as host, with her unapologetic self demanding that no one behaves that night.
2. The immensely funny show of the usual white teeny boppers who basically got to where they are sounding like a black person but looking lily suburb. Case in point, the Bieb wearing seriously saggin' pants while singing to sexually confused prepubescents.
3. The complete mallcification of vocalists from GaGa to Kei$ha and waiting for Kanye to go apeshit on them all.
4. Some good performances like the played out Usher and still good for a whiteboy, Eminem (featuring Rihanna).
5. The songs duel between feuding rivals Kanye and Swift from last years VMAs incident.

On point 5, Swift was amazingly patronizing for a little no-talent shit at this years VMA. In her song,"Innocent," obviously addressing Kanye, she sang:

It's all right, just wait and see
Your streaming lights are bright to me oh
Who you are is not where you've been
You're still an innocent
It's OK, life is a tough crowd
32 and still growing up now
Who you are is not what you did
You're still an innocent
Lost your balance on a tightrope
It's never too late to get it back

Whatever! I don't buy Taylor's "innocent" routine and don't feel the slightest sorry for her manufactured, cookie cutter, white girl, pop act.

So, Even though Kanye recently went on a Twitter rampage asking for Taylor's forgiveness, I am glad he didn't cow tow at the VMAs. I mean, what is Kanye without the shear will to be truthful. In his finale VMA performance, "Runaway," he performed:

Yeah, I always find somethin' wrong
You been puttin' up with my shit just way too long
I'm so gifted at findin' what I don't like the most
So I think it's time for us to have a toast

Let's have a toast for the douchebags,
Let's have a toast for the assholes,
Let's have a toast for the scumbags,
Every one of them that I know
Let's have a toast to the jerkoffs
That'll never take work off
Baby, I got a plan
Run away fast as you can

These lyrics tell me that not only if Kanye gifted at telling us what he doesn't like, he's also gifted at telling it like it is. And, oh, man, how cool were the modern ballet dancers juxtaposed with Kanye's rap? So, while the VMAs showcase these plastic, manufactured, mall drones, at least there's Kanye to say, it's just sooooo wrong.


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Rumors are True! Team Jumba for Amazing Race

WooHoo! Been hearing for a while that the Amazing Race now includes KevJumba (aka Kevin Wu of YouTube fame) and his hella funny dad! Could Asian Americans win it again this year? WU WU WU

Monday, September 6, 2010

The End of the World - Fuel the Movie

Possibly one of the most affecting film this year for me is, "Fuel" (2010). In the vein of "An Inconvenient Truth" (2006) and "Who Killed the Electric Car" (2006), "Fuel" explores the wonders of alternative energy, particularly bio diesel fuel. Most interesting is how they connect some of the most evil acts against humanity in the last century to the oil and gas conglomerates such as ExxonMobil. These crimes include: the disappearance of the inventor of the diesel engine, Rudolf Diesel; invasion of Iraq; media smear campaigns against alternative fuels, Cheney meeting with oil and gas heads to make U.S. policy, and so on.
The movie so convincingly argued for more sustainable living that I am going to live more green that I already do. Just finished scouring Craigslist for diesel cars. The ending of the film offered helpful advice for everyone to live green. See below.
1 VOTE FOR “NON-FOSSIL” POLITICIANS - Vote for leaders who are not owned by oil, coal and nuclear interests.
2 DIG BENEATH THE HEADLINES - EDUCATE YOURSELF - Fact check and qualify the source, especially when it involves corporate profits.
3 CONSERVE ENERGY AND INCREASE EFFICIENCY - Buy and use energy efficient devices, turn off lights and unused appliances and retrofit your house or apartment.
4 GO CARBON NEUTRAL - Sign up for carbon offsets, stop using petroleum and eat lower on the food chain.
5 GROW FOOD AND TREES - LOCALLY - Start a community garden, plant trees, and learn about organic, biodynamic & sustainable farming.
6 INVEST IN ALGAE - Put your money into sustainable algae companies to build algae ponds in deserts and also from waste- water or carbon sequestration.
7 GET SOLAR - Put solar panels on your house, invest in solar energy or switch your electricity provider to a company with solar energy.
8 BUY WIND - Get a wind turbine, invest in wind energy or switch your electricity provider to a company with wind power.
9 SWITCH YOUR SCHOOL BUSES - Lobby your principal, PTA and school to switch to sustainable biodiesel.
10 ALTER YOUR TRANSPORTATION - Take the bus or carpool; Bike and walk; Inflate your tires; Get an electric car or hybrid; Get a diesel car and run it on sustainable fuel.
List courtesy of http://thefuelfilm.com/things-you-can-do

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Avatar: Last of the Airbenders

Oh, how I loved watching the "Avatar: The Last Airbender" anime series created and produced by full blown Nippon-philes, Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. I actually watched all three seasons in three days straight, an act I reserve for the most worthy Korean melodramas. So, you could only imagine my glee when I learned it was being make into a 3D movie directed by "Sixth Sense" fame director, M. Night Shymalan. Only other pimple faced Nickelodeon devotees and equally pimple faced, mid-life geeks could have been more excited. Watching the teaser from last year, I thought this reported trilogy could possibly trump my much beloved, "Lord of the Rings."

What the teaser didn't let up was that the main characters of the all-Asian cast in the anime would be replaced by nearly all non-Asians in the movie. In fact, during the casting for the four leading roles of Aang, Katara, Sokka and Zuku, producers specifically asked for "Caucasian or any other ethnicity". They succeeded in casting them all white before the Zuku character was changed from Jesse McCartney to Dev Patel due to scheduling conflicts. Inversely, casting for extras called for interested individuals to "come to our OPEN CASTING CALL, dress casually, OR in the traditional costume of your family's ethnic background."

Producers did all this because they knew they could get away with it. What they did was equivalent to casting the main characters of the 1977 television mini-series, "Roots", all white! They didn't do it then and they don't do that now because there's a fear to screw over black people. There's strong political groups like the NAACP that would make noise. There's no such fear against the Asian Americans.

But, this time was different. The outcry was heard internationally. First off, Media Action Network for Asian Americans (MANAA) quickly contacted Paramount to discuss the casting discrepancies. Paramount systematically dismissed accusations of racial discrimination and more importantly, made no changes to the cast. Fans worldwide were outraged and individuals formed advocacy groups to bring light to the issues, notably, racebending.com. Their investigation into the matter helped reveal racial discrimination in Hollywood. I even complied with racebending.com's call to boycott the movie. So, for the first time in history, I am critiquing a movie without seeing it. 7% rating on rottentomatoes.com and being considered one of the worst movies of all times did not hurt my decision either.

Some may argue that the film's producers practiced color blind casting. That's a great concept only if you naively believe we live in a post-racial America and there's racial equality in Hollywood. For instance, you rarely see an actor of color play a typically white role– say, as some of the main characters or even extras of "Braveheart." Inversely, white Hollywood still employs the "yellow face" to play non-white roles. It's so blatant but nothing has changed for decades. So, of course I am outraged that in 2010 we still have the same kind of "yellow face" casting that existed in movies like "The Good Earth" back in 1937. It is equivalent to the justification of colonialism as, "the natives cannot possibly take care of themselves so we need to show them how by taking over their lands and subjugating their people." Asians simply cannot be trusted to play themselves. They are not capable of being heroes and saving the world.

How could this have happened with an Indian born director at the helms? My best speculation is that Shymalan never fully understood the series or cared for it much, but thought he could pitch a trilogy to make some money. The producers insisted on a white cast with promise of more casting autonomy in future projects. Since Shymalan could give a flying rat's ass about "Airbender," thought to himself, "yeah, I'll cast
it white, no one will notice." Or, "non-whites don't watch movies anyway."

Yes, I'm flippant, but it's because I am genuinely saddened by the lack of heart and care taken to render the truly awesome anime series into a film. Shymalan was reported to have learned about "Airbender" from his daughter. I wonder if she has disowned him. Because she, like so many "Airbender" fans, could see how Shymalan lacked passion and love for the story and what makes it so beautiful.

At the core of the "Airbender" anime is not only the Asian faces but the diverse Asian and Inuit cultural references. The nations representing the elements: air, fire, earth and water, is decisively East Asian. The Buddhist ideals of reincarnation and mindfulness found in the Air Nation stems from South Asian beliefs. The list goes on.

Hence, the "Airbender" movie is about culture appropriation as well as "racebending". These acts have ruined what is great about the anime series and I refuse to watch any of
Shymalan's interpretations. Shame on him for not giving face and voice to Asian Americans. Shame on Hollywood for their racist casting and cultural appropriation. Shame on anyone who would not think critically on this matter.

Below illustrates some of my sadness about the whole thing.




Wednesday, August 25, 2010

For All the Gold Diggahs...You Know Who You Are

Ever been jilted by a gold diggah? Well, Ceelo has an anthem for you.

...and here's the official video.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Team Inception: Dream Police

Now I understand the hype around Inception.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Monday, August 9, 2010

Black Star Warrior - How Star Wars Should Have Been

Here's another instance when the white man takes the work of a black man and make it his own. Thank god the truth is finally out.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

What's up with So You Think You Can Dance?

If you are a SYTYCD fan, you are probably wondering what is up with the new format they adopted for their 7th season this summer. Changes included having new judges and a completely new format for the dancers. Instead of of starting with 20 contestants, they began with only 5 female and 6 male contestants. Then they added past season contestants, dubbed "All-Stars". Those from the two groups then engage in non-gender specific dances for America to vote on.

Though it was kind of cool to see some of my favorite dancers like Twitch (hip hop) and Ade (hip hop/contemporary), and Mark (contemporary) having the All-Stars really detracted from the competition and has not added to the quality of the dancing. There are no memorable choreographed pieces thus far. Frankly, with dancers like the phenomenal Alex Wong (ballet) it was unclear who were the contestant and who were the so-called "All-Stars." I could have not been prouder of my yellow brothah. But, alas, early favorite, Alex, left the show due to injuries and two more followed in similar vain.

Even with all this madness, the craziest thing remain the judges. My favorite, the very animated and loud Mary Murphy with her signature comments like hopping on her "tamale train" when contestants do well, was replace by the angry, no-talent bitch, Mia Michaels, who offers not constructive comments but snarky remarks at every turn. Oh, and judges were extremely biased holding onto their picks like correct officials.

The most egregious favoritism is showcased with the overpraising of farmboy, Kent. This smiley face clown is not special yet every week he's described as the next great thing since white bread (pun intended). He was clearly choking during the final four competition but miraculously gets the best choreographer in his style of contemporary, Travis Wall. From the flagrant biased judging of Nigel, it is clear he loves Kent, so, interesting that just when Kebt needed it most, he got Travis? Fishy indeed.

On the other spectrum of love, you have the weekly attacks on poor AdéChiké. Judges basically label him a loser, clearly out of his league. Then why pick him for the show in the first place if his only purpose if to be everyone's whipping boy? His best revenge is never being voted by America to be the bottom four. Maybe America is trying to say something, huh?

I believe the new format is in reaction to failing ratings. The producers must have come up with the bright idea to bring back familiar faces in the form of "All-stars," which may work when they tour as well. My feeling is, I'd really rather watch up and coming dancers than past contestants that didn't make it. Also, I don't mind constructive comments from judges but I could care less about who they love and hate.

So, in conclusion, I don't like the new format of SYTYCD, which seems intentionally staged to pick a winners and losers from the start. I have no respect for the judges, and I cannot seem to connect with the dancers. I am guessing Kent will win because the show is rigged, but my vote is with dark horse Robert. He has danced extremely well and has a lovely attitude, nailing everything from cha cha to hip hop. So, even though he's been essentially ignored or dissed by the judges, he is the best dancer remaining and deserves to win. Go Robert!





Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Bravo on Judge Vaughn Walker's Ruling on Prop-8

Though not the last word on equality for same sex marriages, judge Walker's overturn of proposition 8 today is a good start towards rectifying on-going discrimination of gays and lesbians in the U.S. Personally, I could care less about the institution of marriage and am often puzzled by the gay community's desire to make this their cause célèbre. But I wholly believe in liberty and the pursuit of happiness, so we should all be allowed to marry, or better yet, no one allowed to get married. And until one of those things happen I will continue to support same sex marriages as a right!

Walker's ruling will not go into affect until appeals are heard. The case may very well go to the Supreme Court and since they picked Bush as the president, I really have no faith they will bring back decency and justice to the U.S. In any case, 10 years from now, this would be as laughable as anti-miscegenation laws are now. The last of these laws was struck down only in 1967 with Loving v. Virginia.



Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Asian American NBA Stud - Jeremy Lin

Though Asian Americans love to claim Yao Ming as their very own baller god, he's a mainlander and not exactly American Born Chinese (ABC). As of July 21, 2010, with the signing of Taiwanese American Jeremy Lin to his hometown Golden State Warriors (turning down the Lakers and Mavericks, btw), we now have a bonafide yellow American NBA star! But, Jeremy Lin is not making the news only because the color of his skin.

It would seem that this gentleman also hails from Harvard, an Ivy League, which is not known to graduate the strictly brawny types. In fact, with Lin in the NBA, he's singlehandedly broken Harvard's 57 year dry spell and represent only the 4th player to get into the NBA from there. Already a super star in the college circuit, well respected for his all-around game, ironically it may have been the Harvard name that kept him for making the draft the first go around.

Everything happens for a reason and all in all, Lin seems like a good fit for the Warriors, who's getting a lot of free press with the hire. Looking to capitalize on the hype, Warriors already plan to create a media campaign around Lin. I can see it now, they will be selling fried wontons at the games in no time.

In all seriousness though, Lin has had to endure a fair amount of racial slurs in his chosen sport. But, he has overcome much of that and I imagine will continue to do so. You won't see much court side brawls from this guy. Nor do I anticipate any sexual scandals (dammit, there goes my chance). He's a devout Christian (eh, not my type anyway) with aspirations of working in inner cities as a pastor. Certainly he will have all kinds of creds by then.

Lin highlights - GO LIN!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Pixar Mashups

In the theme of this week, mashups, here are two very nice ones for you.

mashup / recut


Monday, July 26, 2010

Oaklavia - Walk Oakland Bike Oakland (WOBO)

The word Oakland usually conjures up some horrific images for outsiders, but those who live here know better. Take for instance on the last Sunday in June when Oaklavia's Walk Oakland Bike Oakland or WOBO was born. Downtown Oakland stretching all the way to Jack London Square was shut off to motor vehicles. People took to the streets by foot, on bikes, skates, and much more.

I was out there with friends and family soaking in the rare sun during this rather tragically frigid cold summer. There was also a drumming circle and African dance lessons where the instructor danced from the street. I saw people playing four squares badly, I guy roller skating about town wearing a California flag cape, and even live rap. Many of the stores were open and information booths lined Broadway Avenue. Oh, and I picked up free bike helmets for the family. Score!

After walking by beautiful art deco buildings like the old Magnin's, Paramount Theater, and Fox Theater, we rested on Old Oakland with friends including one of the organizers, Doug Johnson with this wife Ratna Amin and son Kiran. Tam Tran caught up with her buddies while Tous played with Kiran.

Oakland is great! I look forward to more WOBO days. Watch a short video of WOBO below.