Thursday, May 24, 2007

Hmm, do we really lose anything if we give ourselves away?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

On good food...

I changed my mind on this post. I'll be doing ongoing restaurant reviews on here too when I remember. As always, check out the links under the restaurant listing. If you don't have one, make one! Sharing is caring unless its herpes. Then you're just a jerk.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

On graphic novels...

I've only just started reading them, but man, so awesome make lose grammatical agility. I was a big Marvel comic book kid growing up... well comic cards anyway. They were like cliff notes for the already-short comic books and I was lazy and liked pretty pictures. I followed what was summarized on the back of the cards and pieced the stories and timelines together, but avoided the Marvel cartoons like peanut butter because, well, I'm allergic and it makes me nauseous. The biggest problem I had with the TV versions of my childhood heroes was that the quality didn't do them justice. Decade and a half later, the movies made me feel the same barfy way.

I hated X-Men because Magneto had a stupid helmet. The Hulk was emo and had daddy issues. Fantastic Four made the hottest woman alive invisible. Daredevil had Ben Afleck. Spiderman was ok, but Mary Jane is supposed to look like:

and not: .

Disillusioned with the hackneyed filtrations, bland dilutions , and plebian marketing of my heroes, I started looking elsewhere. Sin City hit me up at the club and I said "hmmm" really, really loud so she could hear how interested I was. V for Vendetta gave me her number and told me how much ass she kicked while making alliteration hip again. 300 pretty much clubbed me over the head and told me I was coming with her.

Intrigued and concussion-ed, I checked out the graphic novels and let me tell you, the boobs are real. The story-teling that begins and ends, but doesn't really, the graphic-ness of unapologetic violence and sexuality, and the feel (of the graphic novels, not the boobs). It was all there, bottled straight from the source. And as I read more, I finally realized that these graphic novels were the comic books that had grown up with me.

Here's a brief list I've picked up:

Fables by Bill Willingham: Fairy tales that live tucked away in New York City, but this isn't as cheesy as it sounds. The Big Bad Wolf is the town's sheriff and isn't so bad. Pinocchio can't get laid because the fairy screwed him over. Snow White and Prince Charming hate each other. All of 'em, who have to live together because their homeworld was taken over. Find out what happens fairy tale characters stop being polite and start being real. (Read the first chapter here and I have rest if anyone wants to borrow.)

Ex Machina
by Brian Vaughn: The world's only super-hero who becomes the bipartisan mayor of New York City. I only have the first two, but this one is becoming really interesting. I also hear it's becoming a screenplay to be adapted into a movie.

Watchmen by Alan Moore: This is the guy who made Adam West uncool. Also another upcoming movie. This one is about crazy people who become superheroes.

Y: the Last Man also by Brian Vaughn: All the men in the world are wiped out except for a man and his monkey. The oooh-oooh ah-ah kind. I'm picking this set up soon.

Sandman by Neil Gaiman: This one is the Shakespeare of graphic novels that all the other guys try to be like. Still interpreting, but it's about Dream who controls dreams. Uh.. trust me that it's more complicated than that.

Wanted by Mark Millar: Think Fight Club if Project Mayhem was made up of super-villians. The upcoming movie will have Angelina Jolie, so... you know.

That's it! Graphic novels are "an acquired taste, so you better acquire some taste."*

*complements Stephen Colbert.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

On hip hop...

I've always found the evolution of hip hop music to be an interesting subject and how it relates to the African American community. As an outsider looking in (and as a disclaimer), I come with the complete understanding that I will never truly understand the community, but I also believe that my opinions are worthy of consideration. Of course there are exceptions and of course other genres of music are equally guilty of sexist and considerably offensive language, but I wonder how mainstream hip hop can get any worse. Brings to mind a quote from the Boondocks, in which Martin Luther King awakes from a coma to present day : "BET is the worst thing I have ever seen."

More often than not, music videos featuring rap artists are rife with incessant images of materialism oftentimes overlaid on a background of urban poverty. Alcohol is forever flowing and the parties never stop. Finish off with bountiful amounts of scantily clad women serving purely as servile objects of sexuality and you have the basic formula for the everyday rap music video.

The problem I have with this isn't that these images are merely "offensive," but that too large of a percentage of music videos follow this formula without the balance of the other side of hip hop that reinforces socially positive messages and ideas. In response to the recent Imus debaucle and the ongoing usage offensive language, Russel Simmons, co-founder of Def Jam records, and members of the Hip Hop Summit Action Network have publicly asserted that they are pushing to have the words "bitch," "ho" and "n----r" bleeped by the recording industry and radio and television stations. This is an interesting gesture, but I seriously wonder how it will affect the industry.

Peronsally, I believe that Imus' use of the language is not equivalent to rappers using the language simply because Imus is not black but a rich, white male. It's great to hear that discussion about the language used is now happening, but Imus not being black makes all the difference. People who agree to the statement that "black people said it, therefore white people are justified in saying the same things" must also honestly believe the statement that "black people, as a whole, are on the same social level and have the exact same opportunities as whites, as a whole."

Don't get me wrong, I love the genre, but I follow a rule of thumb when deciding which hip hop artists to support: if he's got more platinum teeth or more jewelry than my mom, forget it. From there, I follow up with a rule of index finger: talent.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

On Asian American stereotypes

These stereotypes are ideas Asian guys have known and have lived. It's beaten many to the point where they feel they have no chance and use scapegoats like the media and white guys. Most Asian women also perceive this as the truth and likewise feel they have to turn to other races in order to position themselves higher on the social ladder and Asian males be damned. The cycle continues.

For both Asian males and females, their Asian-ness becomes the cause of their social ineptitude, so the only way out, many feel, is to conform, assimilate, and ultimately abandon their Asian-ness. Make fun of the fobs who haven't learned the ways of America. Idolize pop culture and ditch the history, language, and culture of your parents, grandparents, great-great-great grandparents in one fell swoop. Teach your kids the wonderful ways of America by blending in because 4.2% means nothing in this melting pot.

Fuck that.

This is what Asians need to do: Define what it means to be Asian for your own sake instead of buying into what other feed you, me included. Take pride in your differences and ideas and connect with your parents' culture because you're old enough now to appreciate it. Stop being so godamned shameful in who you are and how you carry yourself. Recognize that you are one of many diverse Asian voices that collectively make up a misunderstood minority whose individuals need to speak the hell up.

Do all this, and then talk about it to Asians and non-Asians alike.