27 June 2008

Hug Yellow People

"For Asian American men, AznLover feels like a kind of parallel dimension, where their status is inverted: Rather than being exiled to the margins, Asian males are at the center of this particular universe; not just 'accepted,' but revered. 'I love the fact that people on the site acknowledge the beauty in Asian men,' says Harry Li, a Malaysian American member living in Texas. 'Society still makes women feel self-conscious about saying they like Asian features, or particularly, Asian guys, so even if they do, they won't let their attraction out in public. At AznLover, we all know why we're there -- we share a common bond, in that one group has the qualities, physical and otherwise, that the other appreciates.'


And objectification, meanwhile, is a two-way street: There's also the question of whether some Asian men who seek to level the romantic playing field are less motivated by racial justice than male entitlement: the desire to jump to the top of the social totem pole by bagging sexual big game. 'I do find it disturbing that some of the more extreme views I've seen are focused less on social equality than on Asian men attaining the same set of privileges as white males, whom they see as having the pick of women,' says [Carmen] Van Kerkhove."
-Opening the Box, Jeff Yang-

23 June 2008

The Visitor (2008)

In short, this is a film about immigration and the travails being in this country but always under the threat of deportation. The first half of this movie set up an interesting situation, wonderful dynamics, and allowed the charisma of its stars to shine through. While I kept thinking this movie was a little too conveniently simple, it did seem to have something fresh and interesting.

By the second half of the movie though, everything devolved into (semi-)stereotypical Hollywood endings and felt like it moved like molasses after constant action in the first hour. The strength of the acting makes the thing a slight recommend but overall I was inclined to be disappointed even without having any prior opinion of the film.

22 June 2008

Team Zissou

This just moved to the top of my list for reasons to visit Japan -- barely edging out sushi and ramen. The Churaumi Aquarium in Okinawa has a tank large enough to house four whale sharks. I'll let that sink in a little before you check out some videos. It's freaking ridiculous. And I thought seeing sunfish at the Monterey Aquarium was pretty cool.

Of course, it might be easier to just go to the aquarium in Atlanta and pay $300 for the privilege of swimming with these things. Oh but morality. According to this article, two whale sharks died at the Georgia Aquarium last year for mysterious reasons (The largest aquarium in the world is in Georgia? Who knew?). Their "best hypothesis" is that they reacted poorly to chemical treatment administered to combat parasites. It's either that or whale sharks don't do well in captivity since they're used to swimming long distances in the wild. Pick one.

For some people the idea of zoos, aquariums, and containment of wild animals is disgusting and I can see where they're coming from. However, there's something to be said about the value of having these amazing creatures on hand to study, preserve, and showcase. Tossing random people into a tank to make a few bucks seems kind of crass though. Then again, so does inviting little children to go hug killer whales for a few oohs and ahhs.

I should really take the time to think about where I stand on the ethics involved here. But I love the zoo and Sea World! I will say that there are few things more serene (yet exciting) than watching the Shamu Cam. Seriously, just leave it open on your desktop and get ready to be transported to a happy place.

20 June 2008

Movie Smash

I've been avoiding movies for about a month in an effort to concentrate on writing. Plus most of the films I wanted to watch were only hop worthy. Seven plus hours in a theater later and I'm basically caught up with everything the summer has presented so far. First we watched the Incredible Hulk, which was arguably better than Ang Lee's version although I much prefer his daring stylistic choices to this one. I'd actually rate this sub-par if not for the fact that I'm now a proud Marvel stockholder and need it to do well. But even with that in mind it's annoying to see Edward Norton whine and run his way around as Bruce Banner all day long. The whole thing just seemed uneven. And Liz Tyler is awful. Simply awful.

We caught the last thirty minutes of Kung Fu Panda, Indiana Jones, and Prince Caspian in-between the other full showings. Of them all, Kung Fu Panda was probably the best. Yeah, you heard me right. Indy seemed to be way too regurgitated and Caspian suffered from most of the same problems as the first one. Oh well. After discovering that Sex and the City was not playing after eight o'clock -- mind boggling for a rated R movie -- we watched Iron Man again.

By the time that was over it was midnight and Get Smart was premiering so we thought, "Why not?" Best decision of the day. If you had to port Michael from The Office into a big screen movie, this was pretty much it. Steve Carell has cornered the market on incompetent but lovable losers. Also, I've been watching Anne Hathaway's earlier work (Princes Diaries, Ella Enchanted) and I've decided I like her. The entire movie itself was silly but filled with some great lines and hilarious scenes. So after my semi-six pack of movies, I'm all caught up and now I'm ready for a summer of actually good movies to come out.

Bonus: If you're a fan of The Office, you have to watch SNL's Japanese version.

17 June 2008

Banner 17

Finally. Since I've had no children, and may never, I think this could go down as the greatest day of my life. Yeah, yeah, it's so pointless/shallow to have such an amazing feeling stemming from a sporting event -- one that I clearly didn't play in -- but listen, I've been waiting for a Celtics' championship my entire life. They may have technically won championships in the Eighties but I was just a kid then. I have no memories of watching any championship Celtics' teams.

In the last twenty years or so, I've only been able to read every book I could get on them, watched every video, and endured heartbreak after heartbreak as they sucked.

My only wish is that this could have happened on Father's Day because that would have been poetic. The reason I'm a Celtics fan is because back in Taiwan, they only showed the Finals and it was always the Lakers or the Celtics. My dad chose the Celtics and by extension so did I. Between Tiger's heroics on Sunday and the possible Game 5 clincher, I figured this would be fate. My dad loved golf, he liked basketball, and he helped me learn to appreciate both. So karmically it had to be Father's Day right? A day we would have surely spent together.

But this was pretty damn good too. A blowout win in Boston that got ever more amazing as the lead increased. This was a memory that I can cherish forever and the sheer childlike joy of cheering for this 2008 Celtics' team has been something not easily duplicated. Usually I was a Celtic superfan alone but this year I had a bunch of support -- some of it coerced.

To Frances for using her super powers of defeat and cheering on the Lakers. To Brian and Gene for highlighting the positive Celtics' matchups. To George for making the trek to an Irish bar for Game 6, while on a date no less. To Hong for always believing. To James for being the good luck charm. To me for jumping up and down like a crazy person. Actually, not to me because I still haven't found my Vegas ticket that would win me a princely sum from my pre-season bet.

Whatever. It's not about money, it's about heart. And to crossing off one item on my 43 Things. Let's do it again baby.

14 June 2008


"The ancient Aristotelian idea of friendship is that friends bring out the best in each other. Friends might have common backgrounds, similar affinities, like interests, but at its highest level friendship is about the formation and elevation of good character. Friendship that brings out corrupt or otherwise bad ends is, ipso facto, not true friendship.

Real friends, good friends in the Aristotelian sense, confer benefits on one another; or as Aristotle put it, 'It is more characteristic of a friend to do well by another than to be well done by, and to confer benefits is characteristic of the good man and of virtue.' In fact, one of the reasons for having friends, Aristotle believed, was to have people for whom to do good. That is why even the perfectly happy man needed friends, and why without them he was incomplete."
-Joseph Epstein, Friendship-

12 June 2008

How Ya Like Me Now

What a roller coaster of a game. This was easily the greatest sporting experience of my life. Never had I dreamed that the Celtics could go up 3-1 against the hated Lakers, and in such spectacular fashion. The greatest Finals comeback of all time.

After a close loss in Game 3, I was sad but satisfied. There was no way the Celtics wouldn't win at least one game in Los Angeles right? Even playing like utter crap, they were in it near the end. As I settled down for Game 4 I thought that this was a must win to insure no further Kobe-trionics. Sadly the entire first quarter was Laker lay ups, dunks, and highlight reel plays that enabled them to jump out to a twenty one point lead. I was messenging friends that it was already over.

But somewhere deep inside the kid in me kept the faith. Anything can happen right? Well, by halftime the lead was still eighteen points and it looked like a huge Game 5 was on the horizon -- with all the momentum going the Lakers' way. I was about ready to turn the game off and start writing a post about how the Celtics "played like sissies" and needed to go clothesline someone.

Then something crazy started happening. The Celtics were coming back. Slowly at first but then they gained steam and by the end of the third quarter they had erased the deficit to two. Could it be that I was actually going to witness an epic comeback?

I don't have to recap what happened, it'll be talked about forever anyway. The entire Los Angeles area is now devastated and I'm exhausted from cheering my heart out. All I can say is that ten days ago I feared the Lakers but now I'm delighted to bury them. The Celtics have a better team, they have great karma, they have magic (lower case) on their side. I would love to see them win championship number seventeen in Boston but whatever, just win the damn thing and have a parade back home.

By the way, I told you James Posey was a stud right? KG, I can't figure out why you suddenly can't make jumpers you've been hitting all post-season long but who cares. Just defend the basket, post up occasionally, and Paul and Ray will bring this one home. Speaking of Ray, Jesus is definitely resurrected. For the entire series he's been attacking the basket, dropping in picture perfect threes, playing tough defense, and coming up with key rebounds. Tonight he had an unbelievable Jordan-esque hang time ball fake reverse layup that was simply amazing.

10 June 2008

Don't I Know You?

"[The People You Might Know feature] messes with the whole evolution of your social networking identity. There's a period at the very beginning of your Facebook life, after you first sign up, when you're madly friend-ing everyone in your address book. It's the needy phase: You're trying to establish and legitimize yourself as a user. Then you mature to a more placid state -- you stop accepting application requests. Maybe you even stop playing Scrabulous. It's a relaxing time.

But this new feature makes you feel needy all over again. Its infernal machine logic taunts you with people who could, theoretically, be your friends -- but aren't. Your page once served to document the extent of your social support network. Now it advertises the people you never connected to -- the friends you don't have."
-Facebook Gets Frisky...-

07 June 2008

Dance Like I'm Watching

America's Best Dance Crew is back. Has a show ever ended and then geared up for another season in two short months? Well, it's a great decision by MTV because ABDC was such a phenomenon. Here's the problem though: The show has already jumped the shark. You're not going to get much better than Kaba and Jabbawockeez. This isn't like American Idol where there are millions of wannabe singers. Only a few cities/areas can pump out decent dance crews. If they renamed the show "Southern California's Best Dance Crew" then we'd have something to watch.

Plus, as was proved last season, you can't have too many Asian groups stealing the spotlight all the time. America's not ready for that. Or are they? We'll find out this season because the serious contenders are all Asian groups, again. Big shock, I know. There's good reasons for that but I'll go into it later. In the meantime, I'll save you ten hours of your life by just telling you what's going to happen this season.

They could have named this second season "America's Best Dance Crew: The Specials" because nearly all the groups had gimmicks. None so blatant as Break Sk8 last year but still. There's the white boys from the suburbs who must fight back against their boy band image. The Latina group who bring their cultural influences to the show (and not much else). The five girls and two (gay) guys group. The cheerleaders who hate to be called cheerleaders (even though that's exactly what they are). The 80's themed group called "Fanny Pack." The breakers who can't really dance (but has a member featured from Planet B-Boy). The crew with a member who's deaf but hears the music with his soul (or you know, his hearing aid). The heart wrenching tale of one guy whose dad is in a coma. Thanks for all the feel good stories but can they dance?

For the most part the answer is "No they can't." Some of the groups are blatantly bad while some of the semi-okay ones are knockoffs of last season's contestants. Bad choreography abounds, technical skills are horrific, and none of the groups were very clean. The judges kept trying to get the groups to up their energy, to up their creativity, and to kick it up a notch. "C'mon! It's Season Two!"

So who's going to win? Well, considering the dance crew mecca of the U.S. is centered in Southern California, does any other group have a chance? Not really.

Dance competitions have been going on for over ten years in California and there are tons of crews just from the San Diego - Orange County area who are better than any of the groups on the show. Too bad (for MTV) they're pretty much all Asian-centric. The amateur hip hop dance crew experience is centered around Asian cultural shows and nobody else in the country can compete with their generation of experience.

With that said, this season's winners will be either Supreme Soul or Team Millenia. Supreme Soul is this season's Jabba (an all guy group with charisma and energy) while Team Millenia is the new Kaba (down to the "My Asian parents want us to be doctors and lawyers" storyline). Too bad both are second rate versions of last year's two best crews. It's no surprise that SS and TM are veterans of the dance show circuit. My sleepers are SoReal Cru from Houston, who are pretty good and hey, all-Asian. I'm a bit surprised none of the other SoCal groups came out but maybe they did and weren't picked. Gotta keep it variety-like right?

Oh wait, as I was writing this, the judges knocked Team Millenia out. Um, they were clearly one of the best crews. The West division passed a b-boy group who can't dance, a group that literally wears fanny packs, and Supreme Soul. Could Team Millenia have been knocked out because they were too Asian and too from Southern California? Let the rumors circulate.

ABDC, I'm over it.

06 June 2008

And we're off...

As I watched the Celtics' game, I was sure that my presence was screwing them up. As my team floundered, I had to change the channel. After watching the most futile first round of Jeopardy ever, "Wizard of Oz" appeared as a Double Jeopardy category. Most of the answers were pretty easy.
This song won an Oscar despite almost being cut from the film. (Somewhere) Over the Rainbow. These were sold at an auction for $666,000. Ruby slippers. Buddy Epsen was allergic to his makeup for this role and was forced to back out of the movie. The Tin Man. Frank Morgan played the roles of Professor Marvel, The Gatekeeper, The Carriage Driver, The Guard Who Cries, and this character. The Wizard.
I nailed them all and I was psyched to finally have some use for my extensive Wizard of Oz knowledge. Really, it's not often I can use my obsession to anything Oz related for good. If only trivia night had this as a category, I would have cleaned up. The wonderful thing was that soon afterwards, the Celtics came roaring back and won the game. I forced Frances to fake-cheer for the Lakers so that she could use her anti-winning powers to deflate Kobe & Co. It all worked to perfection.

It's so exciting when things go your way isn't it?

02 June 2008

It's Go Time

Here we go, it's all happening. Celtics versus Lakers, Round 11. It's the matchup we've been waiting twenty years to see. For being such a big Celtic fan, I've never actually never seen the Celtics play in the Finals. Their last trip was in 1987, when I was nine, and they lost to the Lakers. Still, I feel like I was there when Magic flipped in his little baby sky hook. That shot crushed me and I can't bear to watch it on highlight reels. It's a weird phenomenon to have such loyalty to someone (or someones) when you really weren't around for
much of it at the time.

While I'm delighted that Boston is doing so well this year, I'm solidly in the "I'm afraid of the Lakers camp." I've watched most of the playoff games this year and the Lakers are far and away better than anyone else. Add in Kobe Bryant as the ultimate game killer and I fear the Celtics are severe underdogs. Many of my friends have been kind enough to say that they think the Celtics can pull it off. But I'd prefer to remain hopefully pessimistic. I said during the Conference Finals that I'd prefer to have the Celtics lose the the Pistons early to avoid the historic burn of losing to the Lakers in the Finals. Nothing could be worse than a Lakers victory.

But I can dream of a championship can't I? I run through matchups in my head, I try to figure out how the Celtics can win, I think of how the untouted 2004 Pistons defeated a Shaq-Kobe Laker team that was supposed to dominate. There's hope here, but it's hard for me to envision the Celtics winning this year, especially when they've been so off and on with their performance.

Here's what I do know though: Paul Pierce will play the series of his life. Doc Rivers is an idiot. Kobe Bryant is a great player, but the ultimate faker in all of sports. Phil Jackson is a genius. Sam Cassell should never step on the court except to administer high fives during time outs. James Posey is a stud. Lamar Odom will disappear. Red Auerbach needs to do something ghostly. I need to find my $50 betting ticket on the Celtics (acquired last summer at 33-1 odds).

Nothing could be worse than losing to the Lakers, but nothing would be sweeter than beating them either. This is going to be an exciting two weeks.