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

http://www.last.fm/music/Kitty%252C%2BDaisy%2B%2526%2BLewis/+images/11127519

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.


http://www.mtv.com/photos/vma-2010-show-highlights/1647196/5199139/photo.jhtml
http://www.mtv.com/photos/vma-2010-show-highlights/1647196/5198392/photo.jhtml
http://www.mtv.com/photos/vma-2010-show-highlights/1647196/5198514/photo.jhtml

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.
TOP TEN THINGS YOU CAN DO NOW
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
http://www.cowichanenergy.org/images/Fuel-Slide2.jpg

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.


http://fc02.deviantart.net/fs46/f/2009/204/e/b/The_Last_Airbender_Cast_by_UDXProdx.jpg
http://www.racebending.com/v3/featured/the-last-airbender-primer/#origin
http://www.overthinkingit.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/castcomparison.png

http://www.reellifewisdom.com/files/images/The%20Good%20Earth.jpg

http://www.overthinkingit.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/mnight.jpg